Well, Thanksgiving was yesterday, but yesterday was pretty busy for me. Thursday is my toughest teaching day: One class at 11:00 a.m. (a very reasonable hour to start, IMHO), one hour for lunch, then three consecutive classes. By the time I finish at 4:00, I am usually ready to collapse, but that was not an option yesterday.
Two weeks ago, I realized that my coworkers and I had not bought a Chusok present for our manager, Mr. Kim. Since I spearheaded the effort last year, and it didn't happen this year, I figured that it was up to me to make it happen again. So I did. Passed out notes, collected $10 each from the coworkers, and bought an expensive bottle of French liquor. I also bought a $30 gift certificate to Outback Steakhouse for the English office assistant, Joon. Joon is the go-to guy in the English office, the one we count on to get things done. The guy who came to our house when the typhoon two years ago broke the window. Good guy, Joon.
So I gave them their gifts, then headed home. By the time I got home, we had about an hour to get ready to go, because American Thanksgiving Day is the day that Kyungsung university treats its foreign professors to a very nice dinner. We got Maxine dressed up, and her bag packed, and we actually managed to get to the Westin Chosun (a very swank hotel at the end of Haeundae Beach) on time.
The had roasted turkey on the buffet. Very, very nice. They didn't have mashed potatoes and gravy, or Mom's corn casserole, but they did have an assortment of raw fish (sashimi), four Indian curries and nan bread, shrimp scampi, cold crab legs, East Virginia crab cakes, fried soft-shell crabs (my first time to try that delicacy. Yum!), Jack Daniel's BBQ ribs, some fine Korean dishes, and desserts that were worth exploding over, including three kinds of pie and custard.
I restrained myself to just three plates, and didn't even pile them high. Oh, and one small dessert plate. And a few glasses of wine. But enough about me.
Maxine was the Belle of the Ball. She was cooed over, admired, photographed, and just plain loved by everyone there who failed to roll at least an 8 out of 10 to ward off baby charms. She slept through most of the evening, but woke up in time to poop twice.
One of my coworkers, Kay, asked me what was the most surprising thing about being a father. I really had to think about it, because for the most part I've been too busy and tired to be surprised. My honest answer, which holds true after consideration, is that I was surprised at how quickly and completely I fell in love with Maxine. Maybe I'm just not taking into account the months of pregnancy during which she was present, though not vocal. I'm not sure. Whatever the cause, the effect was immediate and overwhelming: she instantly became the most important person in my life.
On further consideration, another surprise is that I am not as worried as I was before Maxine was born. And I'm surprised at how little she cries. Granted, half an hour of baby crying can seem like an age, but a half-hour stretch of crying is very rare, and usually subsides after she burps, vomits, farts or poops.
We've taken to keeping the house very warm. Last night I gave up and slept on the sofa in the living room, and tonight I will, too. I just can't sleep through the night when it's too hot. However, this week a package arrived from home with a baby monitor! So this weekend, tomorrow in fact, Maxine is moving out to be on her own, in her own room. She is still not allowed to date, but she may decorate however she sees fit.
One last little random note: I find myself singing to Maxine when she's restless. Don't know if it helps much, and it reminds me of how little I know the lyrics to even my favorite songs. But some standards are impossible to forget. I sang "Rockabye Baby" (how many words is that?) to her. Nice little melody, don't have to strain for the notes. But after you sing the same little set of words over and over, it starts to get a little dull. And then when you think about the words, it starts to get a little morbid. Allow me to remind you:
Rockabye, Baby, in the tree top,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle, and all.
Yikes! What's up with that? I composed a follow-up verse, that I think you will find complements it nicely, though some of the rhythms are a bit of a stretch:
I wouldn't want to sleep in a tree,
I hope my folks don't do that to me,
'Cause if I fall and land on my head,
I might get dain bramaged, or end up in the hospital.
(That was the PG version, with slightly less violence than the original, in which the singer hypothesizes that he/she will end up dead.)
It's been a long evening. I started writing this 6 hours ago. I've cooked, assisted with giving Maxine a bath, brought in some laundry and hung other laundry, and I've prepared my sofa, now it is time to lie in it.
Peace, and thank you for being m friends,