Every morning when you get up, it’s like being born again. The only difference is that this time you’re aware of what’s going on, so the agony is either mitigated or worsened by its predictability. It’s a good thing the hippocampus doesn’t finish developing until we’re around three years old; otherwise our earliest memories would involve crying in a puddle of our own shit. (For some, of course, extreme old age affords them a second infancy, and they’re able to relive those special moments, again without the aid(s) of memory, and with the same burdensome impact on surrounding loved ones, assuming any of them have stuck around to clean up the mess.)
Yesterday when I woke up at six-thirty, having gone to bed after midnight, I had trouble getting my ass in gear and shifting into robot mode, a necessary survival strategy when you live in the city of modern madness. I also feel depressed if I haven’t gotten in my morning writing session, which had become a daily endeavor but has slipped lately due to the exigencies of my schedule.
I’d been a little startled by my wife’s initiation of sex the night before, coming as it did out of the blue–or the black, as it were, although that’s a bit of an overstatement considering the inescapable light pollution–but I was unable to perform on account of having taken some ibuprofen earlier in the day for prostatitis incurred by sensitivity to the lube I’d used to pleasure myself in order to alleviate the pain in my ass exacerbated by caffeine from the coffee I’d drunk to give myself enough energy to teach my sole student of the day at lunchtime, although the pain was originally initiated seventeen years ago by an overzealous urologist’s penetrating probe (pardon the redundancy, but it fits, seeing as he did it twice–once from the left, once from the right–luckily (?) only the left side hurts), and has been haunting me daily, pretty much ever since.
To her credit, Jina was understanding of my failure to conquer gravity, and I was grateful for that. One of the supreme humiliations of being a man is this piecemeal breaking down of the body; since external factors were involved in my genitals’ deflated defeat, I can blame it on the pills I took, although I suppose it’s only a matter of time before I’ll have to say, “Sorry, honey! I guess I’m just over the hill. Want to play checkers instead?”
Getting back to that harrowing episode of the morning frenzy of getting ready for work, at least I didn’t have to shave, having subdued the relentless onslaught of bristles the night before. A shower was mandatory, however, as I find it always is both in order to tame my Einstein’s mane of thinning hair and to help wake me up. (A new routine involves washing my eyes under the tap to get the yellow dust out–a fool’s errand, I assure you. Yesterday evening I went so far as to buy some eyedrops at a drug store, but I think they contain preservatives as my eyes are even more irritated than before. Maybe I should just gauge them out–that should do the trick.)
I was hoping JIna wouldn’t wake up, as when she does, my pace tends to slow down. I need to become a human cannonball in order to get the hell out of the flat as rapidly as possible, not engage in gratuitous dialogue and choke down a complimentary breakfast instead of picking up some “emergency crap food” (Douglas Coupland, Life After God) along the way.
Since I just started this new gig fairly recently, I still haven’t figured out the ideal time to get up, and have started to wear out the snooze button on my alarm clock. Time management has never been one of my strong points. (As an old professor of mine once said, “You think you are killing time, but time is killing you.”) In fact, I was even complacent enough to scramble some eggs for breakfast instead of bungee jumping out the window immediately or using the fire ladder as I ought have done. This was before I’d taken a shower, as Jina gets on my case if I go near the stove wearing a suit. (Jeez, I wonder why.)
After performing my ablutions, I blow-dried myself following the old towel treatment, finding it as usual a major production to get the groin, armpits, and feet completely dry. The human body is, if nothing else, a practical joke. Jina had augmented my breakfast with fresh strawberries and sauteed mushrooms and onions, along with a small plate of sliced tomatoes and wedges of red and yellow bell pepper. Instead of thanking her for her pains, I ended up protesting as I didn’t want to be late for work, then blurting out an apology for being such an ingrate. I noted how unduly stressful life was and made the usual garden variety complaint about how much it sucks. Then I apologized again for consistency’s sake.
When I finally got out the door, dust-proof breathing mask in place, I saw the big green bus roll past and flagged down a taxi instead. I tipped the driver, who was practically old enough to be my grandfather, as I invariably do, even though you’re not supposed to tip in Korea. (It’s worth it just to see the huge smile that forms on the driver’s face when you do.)
A trundle down the subway steps led me to observe the doors of the train sighing shut just as I alighted on the platform. I cursed softly and sat down on a bench. When another train arrived five minutes later I got on, just as quickly getting off, as I only had to ride it three stops before making a transfer. At the transfer station, I avoided the urge to join the running herd, walking instead at a brisk pace. The second train disgorged me at a station connected to a subterranean mall, which enabled me to avoid the yellow dust enveloping the city.
It took ten minutes to get from the subway platform to the eleventh floor of the building where I teach. Fortunately, I was the first one there so I had time to catch my breath. Half of the students arrived five minutes late, which made me wonder why I bother engaging in such a rush.
(To be continued)