Abandonment: Part One

Every year my wife heads off to Pensacola to tend to the needs of her mother. It always seems to happen at the same time each year and she goes to great lengths to make sure we are fed for the duration. Without fail, the two weeks’ worth of food she prepares ahead of time seems to last approximately three days. I get it. We are grown and should be able to fend for ourselves and we do. However, while doing so I like to ensure she sees the plight she has inflicted on us through her absence. This serves the purpose of also providing her with daily updates.

The first couple of days are typically the same: We boys eat well and are happy. I begin to miss her and start putting “Aint no sunshine when she’s gone” videos on her FB timeline. It is usually that third day when semblances of civilization begin to crumble and we descend into a world not unlike the one depicted in Lord of the Flies. Here are the updates from her 2013 trip.

Day one without spousal oversight: Early August in the Georgia Low County. The temperature and humidity levels flirt with a third digit. Doc vanished in the early morning hours for a time indeterminate. I used the last sliver of soap this morning. While trusting the Timber Wolf and Pigdog to watch my back, I spent the morning trying to render fat in order to produce a rudimentary substance to bathe with. I have nothing to show for it but a full belly and the pervasive odor of bacon clinging to me like sweaty clothes and some soot with which to camouflage myself when I hunt for sustenance.

Day two without spousal oversight: The Boy and I have gone native. Despite the best efforts of the wife to leave us well provisioned, we’ve resorted to killing things and eating them. Tonight we shared a meal of dozen fried bream I skillfully caught.

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Day three without Doc’s supervision: The plague is taking its toll on the other half of my faction, threatening to upset the power balance. The common cold is deadly to us primitives. I think I may have to sacrifice him in order to save myself. My other son has formed a separatist faction and makes the rest of our territory uncomfortable. (If y’all knew the Man Child back then you would know that I am only half joking. He was going through some dark times and became slightly reclusive and perpetually agitated). This other faction persists in unwarranted territorial posturing. We may have to take him out before the plague weakens us too far. It’s ok, I know where he sleeps.

Day four unsupervised: It looks like the Boy and I will survive this round of plague, even as the other faction’s leader, the Man Child, begins to feel its effects. The dogs have stopped incessantly trying to go outside. Could be the thunderstorm or it could be that inside has become a jungle of sorts. I’m sure Doc would be furious at the state of things if she were here, but we no longer fear whip nor wrath since she is nearly a thousand miles away. For now, we are learning the art of war and the use of implements of destruction. I’ve attached a picture of us in the newly renovated living room so that you might better visualize our advancement.

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Day five…….or seven without Doc’s supervision: Time has lost all meaning here. Due to threats of bodily harm, the Boy and I have agreed not to bring down the vengeful wrath of our distant queen. We still refuse praying to her, but we will not kill her beloved pigdog. However, we are forced to forage farther afield for sustenance following the feast in which we devoured most of the bounty bestowed upon us prior to her departure. I called upon a place miles away from us and demanded food. Our strength and reputation must have preceded us as they brought it to our very gates. We must be fearsome indeed. Or so we thought. These subversives wore the same raiment as the Man Child. Red uniforms bearing the crest of some chieftain called Papa of clan John. It seems he’s forged alliances against us with other clans now.

My Wife Just Killed Newtons for me. And Broccoli.

 

I hadn’t planned on posting again so soon. I try to space things out in case I run out of things to talk about. I’m not sure what spacing posts out is going to do for that, but it made sense when I made the decision. I suppose I should get to the point of this post. Doc is at it again with her FB videos and I suspect she does this on purpose just to disturb me in some fashion. Fair enough. I’ve spent the last twenty years disturbing her with whatever falls out of my mouth. I knew I shouldn’t have opened the link but when the first text I see is “You’re eating wasps”, how am I supposed to not look?

Look. I get it. Eating bugs manifests in countless ways in most cultures I’ve encountered despite several differing religion’s prohibition on bug noshing. From Sicilian maggot cheese to entire bug buffets in Asia, it is a common thing. I’ve personally tried many. The sour cream and chive crickets weren’t bad, but Korea’s boiled silk worm larvae (bundaegi) tasted a lot like a dirty urinal smells and my throat closed and it wouldn’t go down and the smell stuck with me for hours until I got home and could reenact a scene from Ace Ventura.

That said, Fig Newton’s are dead to me. It isn’t the bug so much as it is the niggling thought that when I consume things containing figs, I am also consuming the romper rooms of irritable, incestuous, stinging insects. I’ll never be convinced that this is sanitary and all I see now when I see a fig is The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas meets Wrong Turn meets Little Shop of Horrors. Wow. Those titles sound a bit alike when I think about it. Except for the Wrong Turn part. Obviously.

Then I looked into it and I now think broccoli is off the table as well. No more research for me. Ignorance is bliss, no? Don’t go looking. Cabbage might be out too.

You win this round, Doc. Well played.

Misdiagnosis or the Interconnected Nature of Everything. Being Married to a Shrink.

My wife put this video on my FB timeline with the caption “This is exactly like having a conversation with you.”

I responded with “I’m pretty sure this is nothing like me”.

Then that reminded me that I needed to complete my annual GAT (Global Assessment Tool). No. Not random. The GAT is a mandatory survey that asks like a million questions six different ways and you have to answer on a scale consisting of differing degrees of like me-ness. It’s something like this:

Question 401,693: I am easily distracted.

Then I have to answer with “nothing like me”, “somewhat like me”, or “this is so totally like me”. See? Connected rather than randomized. It’s all connected. Kind of like all those Disney movies making reference to one another. Just because I am thinking about Tarzan’s parents doesn’t mean that your convo on Frozen isn’t the same conversation.

Boom. Diagnosis refuted! It’s like magic how I can do that.

Take that, Doc! I’m a wizard!

Laundry Herpes

I have many nemeses. Nemesises? Nemesi? I’m going with nemesi. I just like the way it sounds and my butchery of the language will drive my daughter insane. Whatever your preferred plural of nemesis is, I have many of them.

You remember my problem with odoriferous bathroom textiles, yeah? If not, please refer to the “To Drink or to Stink” post. Stinky towels haven’t quite made the list, so don’t worry. I’m not talking about them again except to say that a friend offered advice on how to eliminate the offending aroma. She suggested I use dryer sheets. What she doesn’t understand is that I absolutely loathe the danged things. They are, without a doubt, the unruliest participants in laundering operations.

You use one, just a single one, and countless others show up. It’s like plucking a grey hair. My grandmother used to say that if you pulled one grey hair, then seven would come to its funeral. Well, dryer sheets work the same way. Except maybe in that you don’t pluck them unless you consider it plucking when you have to pick up off the floor the dozens spawned by the one. Also, more than seven show up. Try like seventy. And they keep coming. Laundry herpes. That’s what they are.

I used a dryer sheet once and spent weeks picking them up off the floor. They refused to stay in trash cans and if you do manage to catch the one lurking under the edge of the bed and throw it away, then its buddies show up to congregate at the trash can like some great horde of peaceful protestors silently demanding an inmate’s release. I’d find them in my clothing as I dressed after having hung or folded items. They’d be wadded up in the toe of my socks or under my pillow at night. I’m pretty sure I woke up coughing them up once. I am also fairly certain they can lift the lid to trash cans and parachute unharmed to the ground to get lost in a sea of protestors. They are all in cahoots.

I expressed this to my wife who then informed me that I have an irrationally vehement attitude towards these translucent travesties of industry. Not two days later I went to the barracks laundry room and had to send her a message.

“Remember how I told you that if you use one dryer sheet it won’t stay in the trash and all its buddies show up and then you said something unhelpful about an irrational disdain for them?”

“Yes.”

“All you did was mention the danged things. See what horrors you’ve wrought? They breed like rabbits from nothing more than mere mention of them!”

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Then I gave her the grey hair analogy.

“You are the only person I know who can manage to bring up dryer sheets and funerals in the same sentence.”

I suspect that she may be their deity if she can speak them into existence.

Moral of the story? I need to work on my people skills. It’s not cool to ask for laundry tips from a tiny, timid, and bespectacled female Lieutenant in the laundry room by opening with “Do your towels stink too?” Apparently.

Broken Beans

I found out today that my coffee is broken. Yes, you read that right. My coffee. Not the pot. The pot works fine, if not a little slow. I complained to my wife that I had no energy and felt generally lethargic all day for several days. I told her that my coffee intake had increased dramatically and I was sleeping more, but it wasn’t helping any longer. I also don’t want to leave my room and have to deal with people. Being a Doctor of psychology, she immediately began questioning my mental and emotional state.

“I’ve never been depressed before. So I don’t know what depression feels like to begin with so how can I tell you if I’m feeling depressed?”

She then suggested that about all I may be missing is a sense of hopelessness.

“I don’t feel hopeless though. I know what that feels like. I felt it once when Lyme’s disease was trying to kill me. I know how to fix that feeling. It’s called morphine on demand. It worked when I was in the hospital.”

“Go pick up a vitamin B supplement and see if that helps,” she offered.

“I get plenty of that in my coffee? Besides, you suggest morphine and then offer vitamin B as a substitute?”

“When did I….”

“When you suggested, in a roundabout way, morphine for depression,” I began.

“No. Just no,” she cut me off. “And there is no vitamin B in your coffee.”

“WTH? My coffee is broken? Now I am depressed. I’ll see doc about that morphine.”

Left thumb to cheek. Left fingers cover eyes. And there it is, folks. Her signature sign that she thinks I’m a genius!

Winning

We all know that the way men speak and listen is not the same way women speak and listen. This will inevitably lead to the occasional misunderstanding and the need for crisis management from time to time. Fortunately for me, I am something of a pro at managing this type of crisis when it comes to my wife.

For example: My wife recently cracked a tooth and somehow didn’t know until she had pain shooting up the side of her face and into her skull. One doc suggested some kind of temporal aneurysm that would leave me a widower as I sat helpless in Korea. Thankfully he was wrong and a different doc sent her to see a dentist who then found a tooth cracked from gritting her teeth. I’m pretty sure it happened during one of our conversations. Anyway, she answered one of our twice daily video calls and let me know she wasn’t dying. Her face was still numb and I couldn’t help but think that when she spoke, her mouth moved a little like Drew Barrymore’s or Meredith Grey’s. More like Natalie Dormer, really. She even had this cute little lisp going on and I found myself grinning stupidly at her adorableness. The conversation went like this:

Me: “You’re tho cute!” I told her.

Wife: “You’re a butthole.” That didn’t come out the way you read it. It came out more of a “buth hole”.

Me: “For calling you cute?”

Wife: “You’re making fun of me.”

Me: “No. I think you’re adorable.”

Wife: “I think you’re an ath-hole.”

Me: “Look. I get that we both speak the same language differently so maybe I need to clear this up. When I say you’re cute, I genuinely mean it. I also know that you underthtand the way males interact and perhaps you calling me an ath-hole is an attempt at bonding on my level. I also think you are genuinely upset and our differing communication thtyles have caused a misunderthtanding.”

Wife: “Now you’re treating me like I’m thtupid.”

Me: “No. I’m treating me like I’m smart!”

She laughs. I win and am no longer an ath-hole. Sort of. But only sort of on the ath-hole part. I totally win.

How I Got Kicked Out of a Korean Temple. Sort of. By My Wife.

Korean Buddhist temples. There are some extravagantly beautiful ones here and there are some that are spectacular in their simplicity. I guess the same could be said for churches back in the States. The Catholics build some of the most beautiful and elaborate places of worship I’ve ever seen, while a multitude of other denominations might reside in prefabricated steel buildings that are completely bare of any adornment whatsoever. With these Western places of worship in mind, I find it odd to just go wandering into someone’s church or temple to go look at it. Especially if there were people at worship there.

Apparently it is an acceptable thing to do in most temples in South Korea though. They even have little “Temple Stay” tours in which you go live as a monk for the weekend. Eating nothing but mugwort and raw garlic for dinner and then sleeping on a stone bed with nothing but your spiritual acumen to keep your body warm does not sound like my thing after a hard day of contemplating a rock while sitting cross-legged in an ant bed. But hey. You do you. I’ll stick to the tours on which I am free to come and go. What isn’t going to happen for my wife to accompany me on such a trip. She seems fairly certain that I’m banned for life and tracked on some monk monitored all-points bulletin social media site where they have reached a new level of oneness and demand profuse amounts of Kung Fu as a means to right a cosmic wrong.

I’m not sure what the mug wort and raw garlic eating is all about. I’m actually not even sure that it is a real thing. It is present in the Korea creation myth in which a tiger and a bear had to eat nothing but that for 20 days while forced to live in a completely dark cave in order to be granted human form. Apparently the tiger was all “Screw that noise” and left the cave with the now halitosis suffering bear. Long story short, the bear became a human woman, married the deity who subjugated her to this treatment, and gave birth to the first Korean king in the world’s first known case of Stockholm Syndrome. Anyway, I think this is why I think Korean monks practice this weird diet that they may not really practice.

It would be a real shame if they did though. There is literally food everywhere in this country. It’s like a national pastime or something to wander about aimlessly and eat things all day. Go to a Korean rest stop off their main highway. They contain no less than 10 different restaurants, two convenience stores, and not a single danged trash can present in the entire country. Just about every street corner has some vendor of something edible, but sometimes not so edible. Do NOT even bother to try Bundaegi. I’m sure that’s spelled wrong, but it’s just boiled silkworm larvae that taste an awful lot like a urinal smells. On the more delectable side of things are some pretty spectacular frozen treats. A particularly popular one among Koreans and Americans alike is this green colored melon popsicle. It is absolutely wonderful during the heat of summer.

The point is that when in Korea, do as Koreans. This means walking around all day long and looking at things. Between looking at things you have to buy things to eat while you walk to the next thing at which you are going to look. So we did. We each had one of those popsicles I mentioned, but it was quite hot out and I was slow to finish it and ended up with sticky hands. Right before we walked into a quaint little temple in the Korean folk village. There was this stone wall in the foyer with the giant face of Korean Buddha carved into it. There was a gravel bed at the base of the wall and water perpetually ran from the top of the wall, over Buddha’s face, and disappeared into the gravel below. It produced a tranquil sound that seemed to be an overtone to the deep toned background of chanting. I’m sure there is a technical term for the effect, but I’m not a musician. You’d have to ask my wife. Some monk I presumed to be an important man walked among the crowd blessing people or little patches of cloth they brought to him. We were really quite fascinated by it all and stood in reverent silence, soaking the cultural experience in. I was particularly pleased at the sight of my wife enjoying herself so much and I stayed a little behind her so I could watch her soak it all in. My tranquility was brought to an abrupt halt when I noticed the chanting had stopped and that every person, including the monks, had stopped what they were doing and were now openly glaring in our direction. An angry sounding utterance in Korean was issued by one of the…parishioners? somewhere in the crowd. The important looking monk extended both arms out to the sides and made a motion that was obvious in its meaning. He was motioning for the people to remain calm even as he narrowed his eyes and began to inch (millimeter?) towards us. I was kind of impressed that he could narrow his eyes more than they were in their natural state, but he took on a look reminiscent of Clint Eastwood as he began addressing us in a firm but calm manner.

“Even people of other nations slow down and speak louder when trying to get foreigners to understand them,” I remember thinking. Then, “They’re onto us. They know we aren’t Korean or Buddhists”.

My wife turned and was already asking what I had done before she’d completely rounded on me. Upon completion of her turn her eyes flew open and all I could do was mutter “What?” around my popsicle stick. Then I decided that there must be something behind me that was freaking everyone out, so I turned that way while using my pants to dry my now clean hands.

The wife began gesticulating in an overly dramatic fashion that matched her tone but not her words. “Did you seriously just wash your hands on Buddha’s face”?

“She washed her face on it,” I said, indicating an ancient looking Korean woman.

“She was performing a blessing!” My wife began gesturing to the door as if telling me to get out like I was some outsider. “Just play along,” she bellowed. “Lower your gaze, bow, mumble something contrite sounding, and go”.

I did so and she followed me still yelling and gesticulating like a mad woman.

We rounded the corner and I kissed her. “That was some quick thinking,” I said. Truly amazed.

“This is why I can’t take you anywhere”.

“This is why I should take you everywhere,” I began. “Hey! They have cuttlefish on a stick over by that museum….”

“Stop talking”.

I do love this woman.

Marriage Explained

As I trudge up the rock face to my quarters, I often avoid the circuitous route up the stairs that eventually leads to the opposite side of the building in which I live. More often than not, I opt for the foot-wide concrete ledge of the monsoon ditch that runs from the top of the mountain to some rice paddies in the valley. I don’t think the word “ditch” paints an adequate picture of this thing. It’s over twelve feet wide across its flat bottom and when my six-foot two-inch self is in it, I can’t see over the edge. At one point there is a slightly smaller ditch that joins it just opposite of my building. This junction creates a little island of sorts upon which grass and a few half naked trees grow. Seriously, it’s like the mange jumped host type and is thriving on flora. I’m not sure why, but I find myself drawn to stare at it once I’ve scaled what I had originally assumed was Fuji until a Korean informed me that Fuji is in Japan. Maybe I stare at this little island because I find it peaceful or a pretty little patch of the world that is just out of place. It may be more likely that I stare at it because I do not acclimate well to altitude and when I’m lying flat on the ground with my head turned in that direction gasping for air in a manner reminiscent of a fish gasping for water that isn’t there, I have no choice but to stare at it since it is the only thing present in my narrowing field of vision.

A few days ago I stopped just short of rounding the corner of the condemned building that lay one terrace below my current residence: The Millipede Marriott. I heard a strange new sound, which is interesting in and of itself since I wasn’t wearing my hearing aids at the time. I’m fairly certain that this means my wife could hear the same sound from our home in Georgia. If you were to imagine what a chicken might sound like if instead of multiple clucks in rapid succession, it was simply issuing a single cluck. Then imagine that the cluck was deeply pitched as if it were from a male animal and that this male creature was from the South Eastern United States. So now you have a deep cluck with a bad Southern twang drawing it out and maybe it’s being uttered from inside a large balloon.

At first I thought that some ginormous bullfrog was in the culvert through which Fuji’s drainage runs (I’m sure the guy was lying about the mountain’s location in order to have a good old chuckle at the foreigner who should obviously be removed from the highlands). I took this opportunity to pause my ascent, thinking that a grown man perched on the edge of a monsoon ditch peering into the black depths of a mosquitobat (more on them later) habitat looking for real life amphibious Pokémon might be judged less harshly than a pause to stave off altitude sickness. The sound continued and to my relief it wasn’t emanating from the cavern in front of me. Not that I have anything against caverns, but as eluded to earlier, there is a sizeable population of these bat sized mosquitos in that vicinity which is why I’d assumed the noise was coming from a giant frog. It would certainly have to be giant to survive and feed upon mosquitobats.

As it turns out, the source of the sound was far less interesting than a 200 pound green Jigglypuff subsisting on giant mosquitos with a taste for human eyes. Instead, it was a pheasant rooster standing atop the only rock on the ditch island that I’d be staring at as soon as I face planted at the apex of my climb. His chest was puffed out and his head was held high as he issued these strange sounding noises that were far too large to be coming from such a small bird. His mate busied herself nearby pecking around and doing her thing. I honestly don’t know what it is female pheasants do, but she certainly looked busy at it. The rooster stood watch, posing and making noise as the hen went about her business.

As with most animals I see, I mentally ran through options on how to capture and consume this rooster. In the end I just opted to take a few pics instead. For one, I don’t know what the hunting regulations are in regards to Fuji Pheasant or if they may be endangered. Also, I’m pretty sure that cooking takes longer than I like in the thin atmosphere up here. I called my wife and recounted the events of my day culminating in my almost participation in real life Pokémon Go. After I told her about the pheasant encounter she responded with a single profound and telling statement that explains so very much to me: “They must have been married for a long time”.

Touché, wife. Carry on. I’m going to stand over here and make some more noise.