Day 405

Sunday | April 7th, 2013


We didn’t do much yesterday to be ready for FIL. Something about a distinct refusal of movement. Meow woke me, nay, jarred me from sleep in time to lay in bed a few extra moments to plot how I would vacuum the house, get dressed, take a shower, and make everything that Meow couldn’t get to in the previous few hours look awesome. In times like these, one must work through the rooms of the house in an ordered fashion, while only performing the tasks that each room was designed for in the correct room.


This meant wearing whatever I had on before I went to sleep last night while I grabbed the vacuum and cleaned the bedroom (above). Then the closet where I picked up all my clothes and slung a towel over my shoulder. The hallway, Meow’s office, then before the living room and kitchen, I turned on the hot water for my shower. Showering is extra important when out-of-town company comes because they invariably want to go somewhere and kidnap me for the duration.

There was just enough time to do all. FIL came and looked over his daughter’s handiwork in the garden first. There was much discussion about the garden and the various plant project we’ve got going. Then onto the step CC made for us and FIL was inside and Meow was making coffee for everyone. He got the tour and complained about crawling into the bathroom, but seemed generally please once inside (it has a Tardis-like effect). He asked questions like, “Doesn’t it smell?” Apparently hanoks get wet and stinky and really retch-up a home. And, “Are you really happy in Gyeongju?” I fucking love Gyeongju, btw, but I bust out a “경주 좋아요.” (Gyeongju good.) instead. Much of my in-laws perceptions of how or what I think about my new city can be immediately read on my face when they see how not completely blown out I am or in my actions when, for instance, I eat a big holiday meal at MIL’s and don’t crash out on the couch afterwards.

More talking and more going through doors. Two trips to the laundry room. One to verify where the dogs are and one to verify that that is where we have the laundry machine—not in our spacious yellow bathroom where Koreans would normally put it. And definitely not in what is now the pantry on the original floor making needless waste of an otherwise useful room.

FIL giggles when we pull up the floor panels in the old laundry room to expose the storage space we gained by elaborately planning and spend some of his money. We explain how much awesomer we’ve made things. He agrees.

The kicker comes when he gets to my office and kicks back in my chair and looks out at what I love to look at: the courtyard, the wall extensions Meow had built, the hanok across the street, the ugly more modern house behind that, and clouds above it all. He loves my view but hates the plastic over my paper door.

We ran out of money we say. He wants to know how much it would cost to put in a window. Caleb wants French doors. Meow shows him the window we did put in in the bedroom. He tells us how there wasn’t a door there because people would kick it out inside in the summer and drink tea (okay, maybe my Korean isn’t really that good). I watch as he and Meow talk about our plans for the corner there, tearing out the junk shelter and opening it up. Someday a porch … someday.

We go back to my office and FIL again sits in my chair and looks out. He likes my French doors idea. More talk about windows and doors and views and the hole in the bedroom. Then, suddenly, almost without context, he reaches into his wallet and hands Meow 500k for French doors to my office. He says he hates the PVC I put up to cut the winter out.

Ten minutes later he is leaving and we’re on the street watching him drive off. I really thought he’d stay longer. Last time he was down to see the flat we all went to Bomun Town because he wanted to go. This time, we suspect, he was cut short by something else. A phone call from the town he had business in asking him where he was.

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