Hey there, dear reader, how are you doing? I’m sorry I have been too ossified to write lately; my wife has also been spending so much time at our computer, I half expect to walk into this room and find her changed into some Kurzweilian cyborg. The only way I’ll be able to pry her away from the laptop is by waving a Bible at her like a boy waving a stick for his dog to go fetch.
Lately I’ve become a prisoner of the routine that’s imposed on me by the outside world to such an extent I’m hard-pressed to find time to describe it to you. My wife (Jina) watches over me like a prison warden–that’s true love, my friend–guaranteeing that I have absolutely no means whatsoever to stray from the arid confines of our cobweb-strewn marriage. Like many traditional Korean wives, she controls the money; without it, I’m as gelded as a forlorn and bewildered dog who’s just come home from a visit to the vet, feeling somehow lighter between the legs, and not in a pleasant way.
Who’s the one fetching the stick now, you ask?
It can take a long time to destroy someone, but Jina’s apparently more patient than she appears to me, as she continues her sadistically well-intentioned regimen of carping and sniping:
“You have to lose weight, you have to get rid of the boxes of papers piled up in this room, you have to stop eating junk food, please don’t drink beer, watch movies, listen to music, spend time with friends, etc.”
A mutual friend of ours tells me her sister, who with her husband has one son, recommends that Jina and I have a kid. She says that will take some of the pressure off. Great–by the time the child graduates from kindergarten, I’ll be dead. And I may be crazy, but I’m not quite as stupid as I look. I’ve heard it costs one million dollars to raise a child in this culture (I live in Korea); of course, I’d prefer to go back to the United States, the land of the free-ish, but I doubt Jina would go along with that.
So there we are, and here we remain, stalemated as usual.
And as we continue to be stale mates to each other, the hairs on our heads race to fall out or turn grey, our butts and bellies get bigger, and our posture succumbs to a slump.
When you’ve been married for a long time, the way you fight, argue, disagree, don’t get along, evolves and changes from hour to hour and year to year. We used to shout at each other and lapse into Three Stooges-like wrestling matches on the floor, or else she’d throw things at me like heavy-duty ear guards (the kind the guys who direct jets coming in for a landing on the airport tarmac wear), a wedding photo whose frame cut my shin (which I had to remind her of when she asked me the next day how I’d gotten the hole in my trouser leg), slippers, her cell phone, or a wooden chair. Luckily her aim is bad enough that she usually misses.
These days the sleepless zombies of our long-buried angst are clawing their way through the graveyard’s soil, throwing up clumps of grass like bad golfers who need new glasses.
The problem with letting a malfunctioning marriage go on too long is you forget how to dig yourself out of the hole you’ve burrowed into. Instead, you forge ahead like moles trying to escape from the same dog who went to fetch the stick. The truly surreal and so insane it’s hard for me to believe thing is that I think Jina, in her twisted, wacky way, still even loves me, pathetically enough. Couldn’t tell you why–or how.
We both deserve better, in the sense of someone who’s more suitable for each of us, but our lives are wrapped around each other like two squids getting it on. We need a Zen master to whack us on the head with a bamboo stick, or else zap us with a cattle prod to pull us apart. As she believes in heaven, Jina doesn’t realize how short life is (even though she’s also one of the most impatient people I’ve ever endured). Since I do, and most days wake up feeling as if I’ve missed the boat, whether it be Noah’s Ark or the Titanic, depending on my mood, I either get restless to get out but can’t figure out where to begin or how to end it, or else fester in my fever and consign myself to more of this chronically idiotic situation like a lifer who longs to be put on death row.
Have you ever been through anything like this? How did you extricate yourself from the tantalizing tentacles? Were you able to find something better afterwards, or did the madness self-replicate? Please let me know if you have any suggestions. I’m a slow learner, but bear with me: sometimes a flower can grow from even the dumbest stump.