Sunday, October 26, 2014

My Dream Ajjuma Fairy Godmother

I went back to Chicago for Riot Fest but it didn't pan out. Instead, I came back to New York and consoled myself with Nick Cave. The night of the concert I knew I was going to get sick. I had tried very hard not to get sick, but it was clear to me that it was going to happen.

And what a sick. It was my welcome-to-New-York cold.

With all the up and down back and forth, there was no way I was going to be able to make this move without getting a little ill. I can’t even remember the last time I was seriously ill, something more than just a little cold that passed quickly; this was definitely one of those colds that was not going to pass in a hurry.

Sunday I spent for the most part in bed.

Monday I was a walking zombie. I tired hard, but it was obvious to me it was going to be bad.

By Tuesday I was coughing, running fevers on and off throughout the day and was just generally in bad shape. They recommended I work from home on Wednesday. I went in on Thursday and Friday but should have asked to work from home through the rest of the week. There was nothing I couldn’t have done from a couch or a bed, but I went in anyway. My commitment was not appreciated in the office. At least, it was not interpreted in the way it would have been in Korea, where going to work dead is a sign of dedication to the job. Here, the most frequently heard comment was “You should have stayed home. No one cares, and if someone gets sick from you, you’ll never hear the end of it.”

After five days, doing nothing but going from work to home had left me with a hardcore case of cabin fever. I spent the next weekend at home.

Monday night I went to bed early. I had, in fact, been going to bed early for a week. This did not change and Monday night I went to bed early.

Monday night I dreamed of an ajjuma.

The ajjuma in my dreams was very clear with me. We spoke in Korean.

Hamulsoondobjigae piriyohada.”


“You need to eat Korean seafood stew. You have to eat it. It will heal you.”

We talked on and off in my dream for hours in Korean. She was making the jjigae as we were talking. She was explaining to me the healing powers of jjigae.

“You see, it is the pepper. The pepper in jjigae will kill bacteria on contact. It is designed to kill things. So if you eat jjigae, it will kill what is making you sick. You must eat kimchi, too. You need to eat them both.”

The dream was very real. The ajjuma reminded me of an ajjuma from Seomun Chijang, who used to sell me ho-dok and dok-bo-ki back in the day when I ate carbs. She was very convincing.

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