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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Almost Home!

Horyon and Maxine will come home on Saturday!
I am very much looking forward to it. Yeah, I know that it will be hard. I know that my nights will no longer be composed of one continuous stretch of sleeping. I know that I will usually smell of baby barf and poo. I don't care about any of that. I just want to be with my wife and daughter.
Of course I am welcome to stay at my in-laws' home. They have made that very clear, and don't understand at all why I don't. So here are my reasons:
1. I've spent the night there a few times. Sleeping on the floor no longer works for this very former Peace Corps Volunteer. Yes, I spent three weeks at a training sleeping on bare boards with a mosquito net for a combination blanket, sheet and mattress, with my towel wadded up for a pillow, but I was younger then, and I like to think more foolish.

2. I get overloaded on Korean pretty quickly these days. Once again, in my Peace Corps salad days I could go for days, sometimes weeks, without speaking English to a native speaker or participating in a conversation that wasn't either boring or frustrating for everyone involved. Now I find that I am much happier with long stretches of silence. Perhaps in preparation for a life that will no doubt have very few of these.

3. Closely related to that, I find that if I am talking with Horyon while her parents are nearby, they (including Horyon, though she is getting better about it) will interrupt our conversation (in English, of course) at the drop of a hat. It sometimes feels like they wait until I am talking with her to say something, though I am sure this is my overactive imagination stirring my brain with a soldering iron.

Of course, my parents-in-law are good, kind people. The problem I have here definitely falls into the category of "culture clash," a force well known for starting wars, trading embargos, and the renaming of "freedom fries". The clash is this: in America it is rude to interrupt other conversations, no matter who you are. Some people forget this sometimes, but when reminded they usually feel guilty.

In Korea, as I understand it, someone who is older than you simply can not do something rude to you. They can be inappropriate, unkind, or even cruel, but being older sort of allows you to define what is polite and what is not. Of course, age is not the only defining factor here. Social status and gender also play a role. But if an older person is rude to you, you simply do not say or do anything to indicate it.

This is how I understand the situation, and as one who is in Rome, I find that I feel very uncomfortable pointing out how I feel about these interruptions. At the same time, they drive me nuts.

Back to my list:

4. Can't eat Korean food for breakfast every day. Once a week or so is ok, as long as it's one of the non-spicy soups (yes, they do have non-spicy soup). Throw it in also for lunch and dinner every day, and I start to crave McDonald's. How sick is that?

5. Convenience: my clothes are here. My computer is here. My kitchen is here. My bathing/grooming supplies are here. Not to mention my bed again. Should I come home every day for an hour or two to use this stuff, or move a load of it over there? Horyon already has a big pile of stuff over there, why add to it?

6. Alone time. I am a person who very much needs to be alone from time to time. Every day, if possible. I enjoy the company of other people, but even the people I like the most leave me tired. And even though I love Horyon more than myself, I have found that three or four days in a row with her, all day and all night, makes me irritable. And time at work simply does not count as time away from people. Not for a teacher it doesn't. At the in-law's home there is not enough space to go away without going out or making a big deal about it.

7. Disagreements over parenting issues. This is way too long a topic for this already bloated post. I'll save it for tomorrow. Or the next day. Or whenever.

I am well aware that most of these problems I have are my problems. No need to remind me of that. If I were more patient, flexible, and obsequious, I could no doubt face these difficulties with a shrug and a knowing smirk, enjoying the challenge and emerging with more fortified character and a better sense of self.

Yadah yadah yadah. Self-improvement is for those who need to be improved.

In more tangible news, my cold is much improved.

And my girls are coming home Saturday! Huzzah!



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A Brief Introduction

Roblog is my writing lab. It is my goal to not let seven days pass without a new post. I welcome your criticism, as I cannot improve on my own.

Here is a link to my cung post, which remains the only word which I have ever invented, and which has not, as far as I know, caught on. Yet.