Current K-Dramas, Take 2

By ‘current,’ I mean dramas I am watching now.  That may also mean dramas that are still airing, but it might just mean some ten year old drama that I am currently watching. (Okay, but also by ‘current,’ I mean dramas I’m watching now when I remember to update this post!)

I continuously- but quite irregularly- update and revise this post, as well as the first two and last links below on an as needed basis, so you might check back from time to time.


Suspicious Partners: Same actor who was in Healer (Ji Chang Wook)- An interesting combination of funny, cute, romantic, and creepy scary.  Nam Ji Hyun plays a girl who used to be a martial arts major who switches to law because she is upset about about the way there is one law for the poor and one law for the rich, even though she really doesn’t have a head for it and has to study harder than everybody else.  She is wrongfully arrested for murder and Ji Chang Wook’s character is the one who prosecutes her, but he knows she is innocent. He ends up withdrawing charges at the cost of his career.  Meanwhile, there’s a real killer and a bigger story than they know going on, not to mention the romance.  This one is nice for me with my bandwidth issues in the Philippines,  because episodes are only half an hour or so in length.

Chicago Typewriter-  My current favourite.  Two boys and a girl are active in the Korean resistance during the Japanese occupation in the 20s or 30s (I forget).  In the current era, one of them has reincarnated as a gifted, driven, diligent, and successful author with a painful past (Yoo Ah In). The girl is now a vet with a spooky past, a failed attempt at an Olympic Gold medal in shooting and occasional strange dreams where she shoots somebody and it’s the wrong guy.  Go Kyung Po is only a ghost.  He’s been trapped all these years in a typewriter (I covet that typewriter)  and he doesn’t know why.  They are reunited, although only Ah In’s character can see the ghost. To jog your memory,  Yoo Ah In played the rebel, masked resistance fighter in Syungkyungang Scandal, he was in Punch, and other things, and, regrettably, Fashion King.  He’s brilliant here and it’s a beautiful show so far.
All the way to the end.  Wow.  Two or three caveats- a ghost, reincarnation is a major theme, a kind of significant (and very annoying) continuity error/ contradiction in what the ghost says he cannot do and what he has already done, and some very maekjang elements.  But they are really unavoidable if you’re going to have anything at all about the Japanese occupation in your story.  For me, the reincarnation stuff was a constant irritation and annoyance, and it does kind of drive the whole story- there isn’t really a story without it.  So,  if you can overlook those, there is so much pathos and humor, warmth, thoughtful approaches to forgiveness and repentance and what happens when you cannot admit you are wrong, cool stuff about being a writer and what that means-  and the acting, oh, my goodness.  The acting.  Yoo Ah In, about that Fashion King monstrosity, all is forgiven.  Im Soo Jung, who ordinarily I consider a negligible actress, made me cry more than once, and made me believe she was crying.  Well done.  Go Kyung Po is always delightful.   I said Yoo Ah In was brilliant- and he is, he is a polished, sparkling gem, glittering all over with the real thing.  The writing is pretty fabulous, too.

Mystery Queen: A housewife secretly studies crimes, and finds herself also secretly helping the police to solve local crimes while fielding calls from her mother-in-law, who really does adore her to death but is also quite self-centered and demanding. The crimes escalate, and eventually she’s helping to catch serial killers. This was a lot of fun at first, (except for the serial killing part, obviously).  I’m  at the point where I am concerned that the direction it’s going is going to result in her leaving her husband, and I won’t love it nearly as much.

Update: Oh, good grief.  This is so lame. It has the worst ending.  It just fizzled. We don’t ever really get resolution about anything, and it’s abrupt. It’s like everybody just threw in the towel and said let’s quit, and so they suddenly did and they made up the quickest ending they could on the fly on their way out the door.  Don’t even start this.

Goblin– I was thoroughly enjoying this one, but have been unable to finish since moving to the Philippines.

On Hold, but I still plan to  some day I might finish (you may have grasped I have trouble finishing things):

Evasive Detective Agency– this one goes by a lot of names. It stars Lee Min Ki (current singer with JYJ, lead in Protect the Boss)- who is a delight as he plays a Taekwondo instructor with lots of energy, but not so strong on brains here. Other actors: Lee Eun-sung, Ryu Seung-soo, Yeh Ji-won- all of them fantastic in their roles, especially the latter two (partly because I do think they are better actors, definitely more experienced, but also because their parts are rich and deliciously funny). This is a goofy, hilarious show that is light on the romance, heavy on the antics.  It’s not just slapstick funny- it has a plot, it has characters I like and really enjoy, as well as find believable. I’m not very far. Episode 4 had one scene I’d want my son to skip- the guys are at the beach, and you can pretty much skip all of it. Nothing happens there that furthers the plot or introduces any characters you need to know. Otherwise, so far this has been nothing but fun.


 God’s Quiz– at Hulu.

Unusual for a K-drama, this has three seasons. However, Season 1 can be watched as a stand alone series, and it’s only 10 episodes long (2 and 3 are 12 each).   This is a medical/crime drama starring Ryoo Keok-hwan,  the same actor who played King Gongmin in Faith.  He was one of my favorite characters in Faith because he brought so much heart to that role, and he’s fabulous here, too.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s not quite your typical K-drama male star- he’s cute, but he’s awfully short for K-drama idol standards and he’s cute, not hot, not beautiful.   Just… cute, with an engaging grin and his character has a really delightful brand of witty sass (kind of reminds me of my son, actually).

I’m loving it so far. I can’t watch the autopsies, but I like the characters, the stories are interesting, often including some social commentary which I find informative and thought-provoking,  rather than heavy handed. It’s not a comedy, though there are plenty of  funny moments.  I really like this one the best, I think, of all of the above, and if it keeps up this pace and style, it’s got a fair chance of being in my top 20, maybe even the top ten.

Why the title? Dr. Han, our young star, is a genius (I know, tiresome, but he’s not tiresome) who knows it. He’s one of the youngest doctors ever because he’s such a whiz kid.  For some reason, he leaves the hospital where he’s the bees knees and a highly admired (nearly worshipped) young surgeon and moves to an investigative unit where he helps out with autopsies and crime (think Bones, with a more Korean moral compass, which I appreciated).  He thought he was going to be placed somewhere else, but he ends up here, and he’s miffed at first. His mentor, Dr. Jang, asks him at the end of his probationary month if he still wants to be moved:

Dr Jang: So you want to quit?
Dr Han: No. I want to continue. I want to go out and investigate as well.
Dr Jang: Why the sudden change of mind?
Dr Han: What should I say? For the first time in my life I feel like I met the biggest textbook in my life. It’s so hard to even flip the pages and even if I do, it si just so hard to read. What is it that makes it so hard? Now I want to know.
Dr Jang: I understand what you mean. The problems you have to solve through the cases are like a quiz from God. A Quiz made so that the arrogant human won’t get too proud. God made it for that purpose. But in these quiz there are no hints in it. It’s a question you have to solve forever. A very brutal homework.
You have to watch this one closely- at first it feels like each episode is a tightly wrapped package all of its own, but actually, the episodes are beads, and some details in each episode serve to create links to a chain that strings those beads together in a cohesive fashion to tell a story with a surprising twist (and I am not often surprised)
I finished the first season, and while it was not always easy to watch because the crimes are more serious than my usual K-drama fare, and because there is a bad guy who is brilliantly horrific, I was really blown away by this one.  The ending was better than the beginning.  A very strong show- the weakest point being the romance, but I didn’t mind.  If you hate crime shows, you probably won’t like this in spite of the very interesting social, moral and ethical questions it presents with each episode as well as the overall theme. If you like them even a little bit, you should watch this.
God's Quiz with 류덕환, Ryu Deok Hwan
Season Two:  They chose a different writer for season 2, and that shows. There’s a continuity issue with season 1.  There are a couple things that look like plot holes, but maybe they will be fixed. The romance side of things just beggars believablility, even for a K-drama.  It’s the most platonic dating relationship I’ve ever seen.
However, I still like this. It has the same actors with a few new faces, and these actors are great for their roles.  I like it a lot.  One of the strongest things about it is also the hardest- they deal with some hard issues about society, disabilities, abusive adults, exploiting the weak (including the disabled as well as children), and I like how they handle these issues better than any other K-drama I’ve ever seen.  I generally hate how K-dramas handle disabilities (and adoption issues), which made this show all the more special to me.  This show pretty much gets it right.
 Episode 8 about killed me, it broke my heart so bad, and if child abuse of a particular sort is a trigger for you, you won’t want to watch this one, but it was powerful.
It also fascinates me how well they are able to communicate what happened, and the tragedy of it all, without ever showing anything remotely graphic.  It’s good story-telling and  good directing.  Seriously, the most graphic (and all the more heartrending) scene in an episode about a molested child shows a tearful face and a broken shoe buckle. That’s all.  It puts the tell-all and bare-more genre to shame, it really does.
Season 2 was not quite as cohesive as season 1, and there are a couple of plot elements that bordered on jumping the shark. However, I love the questions this season asks about faith and I love even better the way Dr. Han answers them.
God's quiz 3 안내상 or Ahn Nae Sang season 3, which is back to being written by the same writer as the first season.  The lady cop is away ‘studying,’ which is what they always do to break up a romance or to handle an actor or actress who for some reason cannot return to the role.  To replace her we have veteran actor Ahn Nae-Sang (pronounced more like nay-song), or 안내상.  He’s been in just about everything, and he is always a treat to watch.
Here he plays a 20 year veteran of the police, a down to earth, very rough around the edges, somewhat jaded cop who relies on his experience and his gut. This makes him a great foil for the smart alec genius young doctor.
It’s kind of interesting as a drama buff to watch the way this writer undoes all the changes the second season writer made to the story and put things back, and then begin retelling the story the writer wanted this character to have.  So far, I can unreservedly recommend the first season as excellent viewing with remarkable twists.  The other two seasons are interesting, but not nearly as tight and good as the first, and you don’t need them. the first season does stand alone.
I don’t think I like where God’s Quiz is going in the third season.  But now I should finish it because I hear tell there’s going to be a fourth season, which would ordinarily kill a K-drama for me, but I do really, really enjoy this main actor’s work.
And now Season 4 is airing.  I really need to catch up.
 turtle dragon blog link

turtle dragon blog link

Dramas I’ve completed, recommend, and reviewed: see here.

K-Dramas I almost liked– most of these are  darker than I usually prefer. Some are also-rans- I thought I was going to like them, which is why I started reviewing, but they there were just too flawed.

Things to know when watching a K-drama

More Things To Know

Addiction, and why I like K-dramas

You might be watching a K-Drama if….

More K-Dramas I’ve watched

Where to get your fix: Sites where you can find subtitled K-dramas (and dramas from other countries, as well. I’ve watched a handful of J-dramas (Japanese) and TW (Taiwanese) dramas, but I vastly prefer the K-dramas, even though I know more Japanese – I got an A in my Japanese 101 class back in the day, when we actually lived in Japan and once I even knew both hiragana and katakana- but still K-dramas interest me vastly more).

Need to read still more about K-dramas?


Dramabeans– must reading.

Outside Seoul

Learn more background stuff about Korean culture from askakorean


The social commentary at one of the above sites  in particular drives me nuts. It won’t take long for you to figure it out. You can tell they were well indoctrinated either by direct contact with a woman’s studies program in college, or by some secondary influence. The double standard is bad, but it’s the near complete blindness to it that is absolutely jaw dropping.  They freak out over all alleged, perceived, imagined or real disrespect, misogyny, and patriarchy involved in a wrist grab (a common K-Drama thing, and also something I actually do to my husband and kids when I am really excited about something and want to drag them over and make them share the moment with me).  I understand that many of the wrist grab scenes are about asserting male power, I just don’t agree that all of them are, nor do I agree that asserting one’s gender is always and everywhere a bad thing.

But what really sticks in my craw is having somebody who cannot bypass a wrist grab without genuflecting to one’s Womyn’s Studies brainwashing also giggle, chortle, and cheer like spiteful school girls when a female character is violently abusive towards a male. I’ve witnessed the giggling and cheers over scenes like  a female kicking a male character in the shins, or worse,  between the legs, merely because he has annoyed her by being in her way, making a dumb suggestion (not a lewd suggestion, I mean coming up with what she deems is a foolish suggestion for fixing a work problem) or had the audacity to ask her out or tell she’s pretty.

I have watched them issue virtual high fives of delight over scenes which have the female lead demonstrate her ascendancy over the male lead by leaving him with a fat lip, black eyes, and/or a bloody nose- again, only because he’s annoyed her, not as a matter of self defense against an actual attack.

They think wrist grabs are abusive but male battering is hilarious. I think the double standard is disgusting, and I’ll take honest patriarchy over the hypocrisy and vicarious thrills over violence of this brand of feminism any day of the week.  And twice on Sundays.

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Books Read In May

Beauty in the World, Rethinking the Foundations of Education, by Stratford Caldecott

Edwy the Fair or the First Chronicle of Aescendune  Historical fiction set in the time of St. Dunstan (Abbot of Glastonbury just before 1000 AD), written by a popular author if the second half of the 19th century.  A.D. Crake specialized in children’s literature retelling stories from England’s history, with a particular emphasis on events with some connection to the church.  Edwy the Fair is the story of a bad young king, the near ruination of one of his young subjects, a prodigal son story, and a tale of revenge.
It’s a bit high toned in the telling, and will probably be equally annoying at times to evangelicals and Catholics.  Crake converted from Calvinism to the Church of England as a young man.  He is highly sympathetic to Dunstan, but regretful at the superstitions of the Catholic church at the time.  Still, I enjoyed reading the story, and I think if you have a middle school or high school student interested in the middle ages and is a good reader, they would enjoy this as well.  I said it was historical fiction, and it largely is, but most of the characters in the book are real people and the events are based on real events in history. There was a king Edwy the Fair, he did lose his crown, he hated Dunstan, he did not attend his own coronation because he was busy with his lady friend, he did marry her later and the church did annul the marriage.  The fictional characters are the two brothers whose fates are intertwined somewhat with the young king’s, and act as lookers on and carriers of the story.  Their household appears in some of Crake’s other books as well for continuity.


Stuff Matters– terrific read for high school students or adults on ‘stuff,’ like steel, paper, glass, chocolate, and a few other things.  Good for extra reading when studying physics, matter, atoms, and how they work.  Chapter on chocolate may need previewing.


Annotated: America’s Secret Society, The Dumbing Down of America- by Antony Sutton.

I downloaded this for free from Amazon in 2012 (along with another Sutton book)- but it’s not longer available via Amazon.  I suspect that what I have is a bootlegged and badly done copy of some other work of Sutton’s.  This was disjointed, sentences cut off, poor grammar,  no title page, and so on.    But other works by Sutton have five star reviews, fifty or more of them.  He is a conspiracy theorist, blaming Hegelian philosophy and the Yale group Skull and Bones for the philosophical fall of America from liberty to statism and the reduction of a free and well educated, literate citizenry to Brave New World’s Gammas and Deltas.  Some of the conspiracy theories are far-fetched, and some… well, one looks around at what passes for education these days and has to wonder.

But the disjointed nature of this particular little book wasn’t because of the conspiracy theories, it was just badly put together and since Amazon no longer carries it, I think it was an unauthorized collection of somebody elses poorly construed grammar and ideas amalgamated with Sutton’s words.

Charlotte Iserbyt: The Miseducation of America, John Taylor Gatto, Samuel Blumenfield, these are other writers who point to the deep problems of our educational system. 


Clarkl’s Soup Kitchens– sci fi I got for free a while ago. I had read it before I realized part way through, but I finished because the ending had kind of puzzled me, or least, I remembered that it had.  It’s a combination sci-fi/mystery story.  I liked the weird world the author set up, it had some potential.  The characters were different, and interesting. However, the story is told through a series of journal entries told by each character in turn.  While I liked the way the journal entries unfolded and gradually revealed more about each of the characters, really, they all read as though written in the same voice.   Each new character will reveal a different view of something that happened or something of life on Clarkl. For instance, in one journal a character is frustrated because on the flight to the planet her room-mate suddenly changes her attitude towards our character, and she can’t figure out why.  The journal of a later character, in discussing social relationships on the ship and the different conditions under which they are traveling, drops a piece of information that answers that question for us.  However, while   the author gives them different backgrounds and viewpoints, and one of them is more crude in the events he describes, she doesn’t really succeed in making them sound different.  You can’t really believe you are seeing things through different eyes.  They all have the same writing style, although one throws in a few more direct references to sex.  Even then, he still used the same sort of voice, grammar, style.

There is some explicit sex in one of the last character’s journal entries. I only found one of the characters remotely likable and I wanted to know more precisely and specifically what happened to her and I never found out for certain.  There were too many implausibilities in how the alien society functioned. They would have died out long ago on if their lives and culture were really as described.   There was no real reason for some of the characters to do the things they were doing the way they were doing.  It’s hard to imagine a society which has time travel, space travel, and robots, but which still requires hands on farming, and hand canning of vegetables and fruits which requires humans to peel and chop and boil apples and pumpkins around the clock for small renumeration while living in unpleasant conditions.  People would not keep working so hard in these conditions.

The Great, Good Thing, by Andrew Klavan- I enjoyed this.  I think if you likDorothy Sayers’ Mind of the Maker, you’d like it, too.  It’s an easier read, and it’s not really quite the same thing, but the ideas are compatible.

You should read this interview with him.

And this was pretty good.

The Confederacy of Dunces, by O’Toole- I found this incredibly well written and also rather hilarious in places, albeit disgusting in a few others.  I am glad I read it, but I don’t know that I could recommend it willy nilly to just anybody.  If I sound confused about, rather.

Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories 14 (1952)- I enjoyed the stories very much.  Isaac Asimov’s introductions are kind of annoying.

‘Lena Rivers by Marjorie Holmes: ‘Lena Rivers is Helena, a pure and sweet young maiden brought home as a baby by her abandoned mother to the old folks at home on a Connecticut farm.  The mother insists she was married, and doesn’t know where her husband went.   Lena grows up pure, good, unspotted by the world.  Her grandfather dies and she and her uneducated grandmother must move south to live with her selfish uncle and wicked aunt.  It’s a love story, and a little purple, but it was a fun read.

The Woman in the Alcove– mystery story, also old-fashioned (Anna Katharine Green was writing mysteries when Agatha Christie was yet unborn – November 11, 1846 – April 11, 1935).  Told in the first person by a feisty young nurse, although she gets a bit damp and unfeisty at times.  Interesting contrast to our times- the weathy scion of an old and established family vs the brought himself up by his bootstraps self-made man.

The Grave Man-  by David Archer- sweet story, totally improbable, but sweet.  Christian fiction, but there is some grit- drug bust gone wrong, deaths and injuries, kidnapping.  I enjoyed the read, but it’s a nice bit of splashing your feet in cold, shallow water while sipping a sweet lemonade, not much to think about here except for why in real life, everything the good guy is doing here would be a danger signal to a young single mom with a little girl and she should run away, instead of towards him, which is rather sad.  But otherwise, a light bit of afternoon reading on a day when it’s too hot to do more than touch the screen of a kindle.

The Patch of Blue,  Grace Livingston Hill- even more improbable, rather snobby (“Is she refined?” asked Mother anxiously.  Not that we should look down on her….”).  The snobbery is really most in view when the characters (and GLH) are trying painfully obviously not to be snobs. But, you know- GLH and her little bits and pieces about families making do with a stick of celery and a bit of leftover fish just hits my sweet spot.

“All You Zombies-“: Five Classic Stories by Robert A. Heinlein
Stephen Archer and Other Tales, by George MacDonald (I rather think I’m going to have to go back and reread a couple of these)
Approaching Oblivion, by Harlan Ellison- I rediscovered that I really don’t much care for Ellison. He writes well, but I don’t like his philosophy, worldview, or attitude, and often I don’t like his subject matter.
The World Turned Upside Down, a terrific collection of short sci-fi, mostly for teens (because basically the criteria was, something you read and were inspired by as a teen), edited by Baen, David Drake, and Eric Flint.  Their commentary reinforced for me that Asimov’s commentary is distracting, and usually self centered in and puffed up.  It’s funny that the commentary to these stories comes across as so much less self centered, when the whole premise (the scifi these guys read and enjoyed as teens) seems like it would be more self centered. But it’s really not.  This one is free at Baen books’ website.
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An Education in a few paragraphs of George MacDonald

Augustus is an older man, a widower, who has married a very young and quite silly bride.  During their courtship:

“Augustus Greatorex was fooled, not by poor little Letty, who was not capable of fooling him, but by himself. Letty had made no pretences; had been interested, and had shown her interest; had understood, or seemed to understand, what he said to her, and forgotten it the next moment—had no pocket to put it in, did not know what to do with it, and let it drop into the Limbo of Vanity.”

Naturally, this did not make for a happy and successful marriage.

“They had not been married many days before the scouts of advancing disappointment were upon them. Augustus resisted manfully for a time. But the truth was each of the two had to become a great deal more than either was, before any approach to unity was possible. “

He believed he would mold her mind, shape the poor girl into the woman she ought to be, when he had no real idea of the man he ought to be, or of the woman she was:

“He tried to interest her in one subject after another—tried her first, I am ashamed to say, with political economy. In that instance, when he came home to dinner he found that she had not got beyond the first page of the book he had left with her. But she had the best of excuses, namely, that of that page she had not understood a sentence. He saw his mistake, and tried her with poetry. But Milton, with whom unfortunately he commenced his approaches, was to her, if not equally unintelligible, equally uninteresting. He tried her next with the elements of science, but with no better success. He returned to poetry, and read some of the Faerie Queene with her: she was, or seemed to be, interested in all his talk about it, and inclined to go on with it in his absence, but found the first stanza she tried more than enough without him to give life to it. She could give it none, and therefore it gave her none.”

There is a delicate art to finding that balance between reading made too easy and reading which is challenging enough to improve upon, without being so challenging it is painful, or worse, utterly sealed to one’s mind.   One wishes to avoid complacency and self-satisfaction.
It is true that any book worth reading at 9 will also be worth reading at 39, as C.S. Lewis observed (or something very near, anyway).  But it is not therefore true that it is a good thing to be still reading at 29 or 39 *only* the sorts of books one read at 13.

“I believe she read a chapter of the Bible every day, but the only books she read with any real interest were novels of a sort that Augustus despised. It never occurred to him that he ought at once to have made friends of this Momus of unrighteousness, for by them he might have found entrance to the sealed chamber. He ought to have read with her the books she did like, for by them only could he make her think, and from them alone could he lead her to better. It is but from the very step upon which one stands that one can move to the next.”

“Momus was in Greek mythology the personification of satire, mockery, censure; a god of writers and poets; a spirit of evil-spirited blame and unfair criticism. His name is related to μομφή, meaning ‘blame’ or ‘censure’. He is depicted in classical art as lifting a mask from his face. He is the twin of Oizys, a misery goddess.”

And I believe I have been guilty more than once of trying to move a youngster from the step upon which he stands up to the landing in a single leap.

“Besides these books, there was nothing in her scheme of the universe but fashion, dress, calls, the park, other-peopledom, concerts, plays, churchgoing—whatever could show itself on the frosted glass of her camera obscura—make an interest of motion and colour in her darkened chamber. Without these, her bosom’s mistress would have found life unendurable, for not yet had she ascended her throne, but lay on the floor of her nursery, surrounded with toys that imitated life.”

Stephen Archer and Other Tales, by George MacDonald (it’s free at Gutenberg and Amazon)

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You’ll want to read this

“What lives in the Tower?”

Carolinus jerked his fierce old bearded face around to look at him.

“What’s living there?” he snapped. “I don’t know. We’ll find out soon enough. What is there—neither alive nor dead, just in existence at the spot—is the manifestation of pure evil.”

“But how can we do anything against that?”

“We can’t. We can only contain it. Just as you—if you’re essentially a good person—contain the potentialities for evil in yourself, by killing its creatures, your evil impulses and actions.”

“Oh?” said Jim.

“Certainly. And since evil opposes good in like manner, its creatures, the ones in the Tower, will try to destroy us.”

Jim felt a cold lump in his throat. He swallowed.

“Destroy us?”

“Why no, they’ll probably just invite us to tea—” The sarcasm in the old magician’s voice broke off suddenly with the voice itself. They had just stepped through a low screen of bushes and instinctively checked to a halt.”


St. Dragon and the George (not a typo)

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When Your Psyche is a Backstabbing Traitor

People ask me how I feel about my son leaving to go back to the U.S. while we stay here in the Philippines.  I smile and say we will miss him, and then I talk about how much money we are going to save on groceries, on our electricity bill, on our phone bills, on our internet (remember our charges are based somewhat on use), etc.  I talk about the closet in his room that I am going to get to use (it’s bigger than the one in our room).  I think of the groceries I won’t be buying, the deviled eggs I won’t be making for after school snacks several times a week, the coconut I will get to have entirely to myself (if I can cut it open without him).

Then the other night I had this horrible, awful nightmare, full of weirdness that never seemed weird at the time (as nightmares do).  It was the kind of things that wakes you up in a cold sweat, heart pounding, feeling desolated and  wanting to wail like a banshee.
We were at a Bible study with all of our Filipino friends (including several who do not know each other) and neighbors. It was in a pavilion- just a roof, no walls, and the floor was a bare dirt floor that was very, very muddy because it had rained recently.

Different men would get up to speak and encourage us, and from time to time, the ground beneath them would make a slurping noise and just collapse, dragging them down out of sight in an instant- it was this awful, muddy, sinkhole. But the other men in the group would just shrug, go up to the muddy pit, reach in and pull them out and the meeting continued. It was no big deal. And nobody ever suggested not standing in the sinkhole. Then my husband and son got up to speak along with two or three of our Filipino friends, and suddenly, they all sank. And when the other men went to pull them out, they couldn’t find my two guys. So then everybody just shrugged and went home, and I was there by myself trying to find them in the mudhole (while trying to keep our disabled child out of it).  I wanted to dive in after them, but I couldn’t leave her alone,  and no matter how many times I plunged my arms into the mud up to my shoulders, I couldn’t find them, either. At some point one of our daughters came to help. I hadn’t known she was there, but it seemed normal. And then somehow we were in a kitchen of a restaurant that served Filipino food (but still had this muddy sinkhole in it where my husband son had disappeared, and that seemed normal), and I was still on my stomach digging through the mud up to my eyebrows to no avail, and that seemed devastatingly horribly real but also normal. Sometimes I could hear their voices still,  but I couldn’t reach them in the strangely mobile pit of mud. The restaurant people told us we were in their way (politely), but were not unsympathetic when we explained, and they offered us shrimp to eat while we dug, and Jenny-Any-Dots had some but I didn’t (Jenny Any Dots hates shrimp and would never eat it, especially not if she has to peel it, and at any rate, of course she wouldn’t stop for a shrimp eating break if her daddy and brother were lost in a mud-pit). Somebody brought us a pole, but that didn’t help, and just when it was all entirely unendurable and horrible and I was nearly hysterically inconsolable,  I woke up.
After going over it in my head for a while, I realized that also in my dream, my son was about 8 or 9 years old instead of a 6’4″ 18, soon to be 19 year old.

I realized this is probably how my psyche really feels about my son graduating and getting ready to leave the Philippines and go back to the U.S. while we stay here. But I would prefer that my psyche just keep its most horrid manifestations entirely to itself.

(two nights later my nightmares were all about Visaya pronouns, which was exhausting, but preferable to being waterboarded by a grief I am not interested in acknowledging I have.)

Posted in Davao Diary | 4 Responses

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