Day 367

Thursday | February 28th, 2013

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There was a panicked buzzing of my butt and I awoke the couch with a memory of sitting down there ice cream in hand last night. It wasn’t where I wanted to sleep and my neck screamed. The buzzing was two calls from Meow. I called her back. Still the hospital, still with a fever, I tried to tell her birthday stories, ‘Call me later’ she said.

Around noon I woke up again, a tad headache, but basically hangoverless. (Success!) I called Meow again. Everything is the same. She tells me she still has an IV with not blood, but the clear still. ‘Plasma’, I say, but wait, still? She didn’t tell me, nobody did. She lost a lot of blood during the operation. She been hooked up to plasma all week. I talk about the birthday party, the dogs, what I’ve got to get ready for her to come home. Meow wants my picture. ‘Later,’ I say, ‘when I’m not on the phone.’ We say our goodbyes and I want to go back to sleep. First, I visit the dogs; check their water and food; open the back door for them. Then I sleep.

Hunger drives me up from the couch around 17.00. I thank Kipple that there is ramyeon. Ramyeon and onions sound like a bowl of heaven and my head is killing. (Failure!) I just want to sleep again, but I make myself eat. I make myself sit in my room with the dogs. My poor dogs. Two weeks without their mother and today’s special is hangover Daddy.

I watch Officer Down while I work through the ramyeon. When it’s over, my neck kills more than my head and I realize this is where the bulk of my pain is. I try to sleep. Naughty barks and growls at me. He’s right. I’m not playing with the silver cat, and if I’m just gonna sleep, then I ought sit him on my lap while I do that.

At some point I remember the Tiger Balm and rub it all over my temples, forehead, neck, shoulders—wherever the pain is. The dogs like the smell of Tiger Balm. They think it’s a snack I’m denying them. ‘Daddy’s being a fuck, again.’ Twitchy presses her wet nose on my hand and all I want to do is sleep. She licks me, but I don’t have energy to give. The Tiger Balm is shifting from cool to fiery. It’s not need, I realize, as she licks my entire hand and wrist. It’s loneliness. I know how she feels.

Hours later I wake, gnarled and stiff from sleeping in a ball in an office chair with a fat pug on my lap. I need to call Meow. I put the dogs to bed even though it’s only around 22.00 and go to the couch. I have two angry messages from Meow. I call her. Her mother has been asking her all day why I don’t call, why I’m not at the hospital, why I don’t call her, why, why, why? Meow might have had answers, but after a few days of this she doesn’t understand either. We are at the precipice of a fight and a very old one which predates our marriage. For Koreans, calling means love. It sounds simple, but it isn’t because the only way Meow’s mother wouldn’t have complained is if I called Meow once an hour for every day she’d been away. That’s what love means, nagging the person of your affections to death and annoyance with phone calls.

When we were dating there was no way I was going to call my girlfriend every hour. It was the stupidest fucking thing I’d ever heard. And … I wasn’t gonna be some girl’s phone bitch, no matter how much I loved her. Now, more than six years later, Meow in the hospital, out of sight, out of touch, out of home, house, family … I don’t care. I’ll call Meow every hour. She doesn’t believe me. I’ll set an alarm and call her every hour on the hour. She tells me not to, ‘It’ll make me crazy.’

I feel the need, maybe unnecessarily, to point out that I didn’t create this situation. That it wasn’t my idea to go have surgery in another city. That it wasn’t my idea to stay home and take care of the dogs. If Meow had planned this not according to her schedule and her vacation, but both of ours, I’d have been there every day. (She only considered herself, something which I’m sometimes guilty of too. The biggest insult is the one where going to Seoul is better than staying in Gyeongju because of two preconceptions Meow has. She doesn’t trust country doctors and she doesn’t think I can take care of her. I’m not sure which one drives the other more. I don’t understand how having one’s nagging mother around is better than having one’s nagging spouse around.)

That’s sort of the end of it, the acknowledgment that Meow doesn’t want to be called as much as her mother has been telling her a man is supposed to call his wife. We say our goodnights and I love yous and then I fall asleep easily.

It should be bliss sleeping through my head, but the dogs freak out in the night—a price of putting them to bed too early. It’s only about 01.30 and one of my neighbors is loudly crinkling strips of plastic on a clothesline. Why? Who knows. I go outside with the dogs and it’s warm. Looking at all the poop I was too sleepy to scoop up, I think about how the air is transforming it into little briquettes. I have my stick and I think about pummeling an intruder in my yard, how Meow has cut the bamboo in such a way as to leave talon-like claw where little branches were. I’m not scared for the first time in a few days. I have a Jindo and a pug and a fuck-you-up stick. The dogs are not scared because I’m standing there with them looking up across the way at our noisy neighbor.

Later in the night I still can’t sleep. Too much daytime sleeping and too much thinking about work. Around 05.00 I decide that I will get a lot of stuff done, if I start my day. I go to eat rice, but it’s gone crusty sitting in the rice cooker for a week. I eat kimchi and it’s the best tasting thing I’ve had in a long time. I should eat some starch with it but there are only Oreos. Apparently they were purchased with my ice cream. After my plate of kimchi, I tear into a box of Golden Oreos and watch FOX News because the BBC and CNN are too boring at that moment. Eating puts me back under the sleepy spell. I lay down and the tv is so loud. The volumen is on like 15 so I put it down to 4. As I’m drifting, I hear the rain. The last thought is of dog shit briquettes reverting back to their soggy mush state of their birthing and cursing myself for leaving them there that long.

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