Wednesday, September 11, 2019

pisses me off

I recently ordered powdered milk from GMarket, but when the package arrived today, I saw it was tiny cartons of regular whole milk. I want to knock the head off the gorilla who fulfilled the order. Today, despite being a Wednesday, was supposed to feel like a happy Friday given that the Chuseok four-day weekend is upon us. But instead, I've got several things pissing me off right at the moment, and I'm supposed to visit my #3 Ajumma in a few minutes to hand over some galbi and talk a bit. Gonna have to pull out the ol' toothpicks to prop up the corners of my mouth and make a nice, fake smile for her.

EPILOGUE: the visit with Ajumma was brief—probably not more than 40 minutes. "I missed you!" was followed by, "Did you lose weight?", which was followed by, "You need to stop drinking sodas! Look at your belly!" Then, paradoxically, after all the fat-shaming: "And when are you going to get a girlfriend?" No better reality check than an ajumma. I found out that another of my aunts recently died on September 2. Very sad. I didn't know her that well, but she was always a kindly person. Ajumma said she couldn't attend the burial, which was somewhere out in Gangweon Province.

She then showed me a whole array of paintings she's done (many of which I've already blogged here); the larger ones are going to be shown at an exhibition that's also supposed to be some kind of contest, and she might have the chance to win a fancy calendar. (She didn't seem too impressed with the notion of a calendar as a prize.) For a few minutes, there was some confusion about whether her son, one of my cousins, would be coming over; she called and texted him several times, and when he finally picked up, he said he wouldn't be coming by because he was too busy (he's a professional singer who also teaches private classes and is involved in many local productions—a bit like my brother Sean with his cello).

Ajumma allowed me to select three of her smaller pictures to take with me; when I mentioned that I could go to Insa-dong and get the images framed, she jumped up, dug around her things, and produced three frames that might or might not actually fit the dimensions of her pictures. We tried measuring the pictures against the frames, and they kind-of matched up, but I have my doubts. At the very least, I'm going to have to buy window mats that match her pictures better. Ajumma was pretty unsentimental about the frames, which still contained large group photos in them. "That's Ajeossi's stuff," she said, referring to her husband and the framed photos. "I'm getting rid of all that." I remember that, when Mom died, we who remained weren't too sentimental about things like Mom's piles and piles of clothing, much of it dating back to the 1970s. They were just things, after all; they weren't Mom.

The other big news was that Ajumma had succeeded in selling her building; she's been the landlady of a small apartment building in Garak-dong since forever, and I guess she's had enough, especially with her husband having passed away in January. (They'd been landlord and landlady together... almost as if they'd led as two kings.) In the 90s, I lived for a few months on the building's top floor. It had a decent view, I guess, if you like being surrounded by much larger apartment buildings, but it also reeked of gas fumes at night and had no insulation from the cold. A brown rabbit used to live on the roof; its cage was alongside some rooftop planters serving as modest gardens. I heard, later on, that the rabbit had died. I'm guessing it froze one night. Anyway, Ajumma's moving out in mid-November. I told her a bit about where I currently live, and she perked up and asked me whether she could move there or somewhere in my neighborhood. I told her I'd get her the real-estate offices' contact information; our first floor has several such offices, so I promised her I'd photograph their storefronts, which have phone numbers and emails plastered tackily all over them. She's expecting a text-with-photos from me.

Life, if nothing else, is change. Get too fixated on things and circumstances, and you belatedly realize that life has moved right out from under you, as if God were yanking the carpet from beneath your feet in slow motion. Another of my aunts is dead, and #3 Ajumma is moving to some new-but-undetermined place. I guess we'll see how it all turns out although, as the graphic novel Watchmen warns, the story never really ends.

1 comment:

John Mac said...

Would you like having #3 Ajumma as a neighbor or do you prefer seeing her in small doses?