I've been sick for nearly two weeks now, and it's seriously cramping my style. A lot of the plates I've had spinning are starting to drop, and I'm trying to keep on top of stuff, but this week has mostly consisted of dragging myself to work, doing what I can to survive my classes for the day, and then coming home to focus on breathing and not dying until I can get to sleep.
That having been said, I'm at least partially to blame because I was feeling much better on Thursday morning, and so elected to spend the entire day outside walking around in the heat, which was probably what has landed me here at my kitchen table this morning, wheezing and medicated.
But B is moving in to the new place in two weeks, so we have to get some shit taken care of. We got the fridge and washing machine bought and installed, and that's a huge step in the right direction. I also found a nice, big new oven at a secondhand shop for only 50,000 won, which was great. My oven had served me well, but it is old and it is tiny and it is really, really dirty. Eventually I'll work up to buying a real, proper Western oven, but for now I'm just happy to be able to roast a chicken or bake both layers of a two layer cake at the same time. Baby steps. The fridge, on the other hand, being used, is absolutely minging with the stale smell of kimchi. I love the smell of actual kimchi. But that old kimchi-used-to-live-here odor is not a friend of mine, but I don't reckon any amount of baking soda will get rid of it.
The new neighborhood just keeps getting better and better the more we explore it. We're right off the 불광천 and considering getting bikes for riding. We also found a 국수 place that serves the best 콩국수 and 물냉면 we've ever had. It's just a tiny little place with one little old grandmother doing the cooking (always the way). She was very friendly and didn't hesitate to chatter away at me in Korean. Unfortunately, I lost my place in a big way, which confused me because it's not often I get lost in those kinds of general conversations anymore, but when I looked up at her with a painful expression and she turned to B for an explanation, he told her that I can't understand old Hanja words very well, but if she speaks to me using simpler words, I'll be alright. There's your issue, I guess.
Anyway, I'm happy to be getting this shit in motion, even if it means B and I will probably be doing a lot of fussing at each other for the next few months. One thing I cracked onto immediately on Thursday was the fact that I've got to stop taking his blurted statements of declaration as him actually making a decision. Partially cultural, partially us, as usual, but I tend to take everything in -- all the information, all the possible courses of action, all the potential outcomes. I consider them all. And then after some time, I open my mouth and a well-weighed decision emerges. B, well.... B sees what's in front of his face, opens his gob and brash immediate judgement comes flying out. These things that he says, although they sound like decisions, with head-shaking and ringing affirmative hyperbole and all, they aren't real decisions. They're momentary impressions. And there will be another one along any moment, if I can just stay calm and wait. Or better yet, figure out how to ignore them entirely.
Is this how ajummas become ajummas? Because after we walked for over an hour in the midday June sun, me still wheezing away from a cold and with a pair of shoes rubbing a blister on my foot, in order to get to the secondhand shop, which we had traveled over two hours all told to get to for the specific purpose of buying appliances, and he asked the man for the price of one -- ONE -- washing machine, and the man gave a price that wasn't what he had been expecting, and so B started in with the head-shaking and said, "No. Nuh uh. Too expensive. We'll buy new. We're not buying used," I wanted to strangle him. Because I believed the words he was saying meant something. That we were really about to turn around and leave after being there for ten seconds and checking only one of dozens of options. Which was my mistake.
So I sat there and reasoned with him. The price, actually, was far less than we would pay for even the cheapest new model, which the used machine was clearly superior to, despite being used. And we had come all the way out because we'd already debated the merits of new vs. used and we had already made this decision. And we hadn't even seen everything the guy had, not to mention all the other shops right around the corner.
I reasoned with these kinds of whims all day long. About literally everything we did all day long. Going to E Mart (30 minute walk, mostly his idea -- changed his mind about going, on course, twice, including once when we were already INSIDE THE STORE), what to eat for lunch (meat, no noodles, no meat, no noodles), what kind of TV to buy, etc. etc. etc.
By the end, I just thought, you know what? Say whatever you want. From now on, I'm completely ignoring you and your opinion. Jabber away back there, for all I care. I'll handle this myself. You can get on board, or you can get off. But we're not stopping this train every time you have a notion for the next four months. Not going to happen.
At the end of the day, I explained this all to him. I said, the biggest problem we've had today is that when you open your mouth and employ a definite statement, I take it seriously. I believe that you've really just made a decision. But you haven't. You've expressed and ever-changing opinion in the form of a decision.
He laughed. "맞아. It doesn't mean anything. I'm just saying."
"I have to learn how to ignore you if we're going to survive all of the decisions we're going to have to make in the next few months."
"Yeah. That'll be better."
Hope you don't live to regret those words, B, because I am rolling forward with them set firmly in the front of my mind.
I vaguely considered making another big post this week, in order to address a nasty little side community of blogs that have developed over the past year or so, and the weird notion that somehow, because dating is hard, that means that Korean men are undateable and relationships like mine and B's are impossible. And then I thought, fuck it. My life is proof to the contrary, as are the relationships between so many of the foreign women I call friends, and their lovely Korean boyfriends, fiances and husbands. If it makes people feel better to blame an entire country for their dating woes, to expect Korean men to be something other than men (that is, human beings), to expect dating to be something other than a circus of hit-or-miss timing and luck, and to write off so many of our loving relationships as outliers and freak incidents (when in reality, they are the same as all relationships -- two people who were lucky enough to find each other, mature enough to hold on to each other and hardworking enough to do what they have to do to keep shit together), then so be it. I'll live the proof that they're wrong. And I'll do it happily.