A true story of instant gratification denied.The Writer’s Journey (for writing time!)
by Ila Campbell
--The following is a true story--
After almost a month of not being able to write because of familial and work-related duties I was very much looking forward to having the full day in which to write. No papers to grade. No husband’s uncle’s 70th birthday party, no more exams to write, no more frightened freshmen who need hand-holding. Just me, my notebook and my favorite coffee shop.
So Thursday night I am editing a document for my husband’s company (making it clear to him that after I finish, I’m not accepting anything else until after my free day). I notice that my eyes are giving me more trouble than usual, and that the headache that’s been hanging “just back there” for a couple of days is getting worse. Maybe I can sleep it off. That works sometimes. So I shut off the computer and go to bed, saying I’ll finish it first thing in the morning.
7:00 am. Morning comes and my eyes are so bad, I can barely even look at the computer. My shoulders are so knotted, I can’t bend over without my head trying to explode. I’ve had this often enough to know the signs. I have about 6 hours before I’m crying from the pain. 12 before I have a full-blown tension migraine and can’t move my head at all. I’m past the point where muscle relaxants and exercise are going to help me. I need a sports massage.
Fortunately, I know exactly where to find mine. So I pack up my shower stuff, send the kids off to school and tell my husband I’m going to the public baths where my sports massage guy works. This guy is particularly good, as he’s gotten me out of the full-blown migraines before and knows exactly which spots to hit to get me out of pain the quickest.
9:00. I get to the baths, go straight up to the massage place and wait the half-hour until it opens.
9:30. No one comes.
10:00. I notice a little sign taped up on the door. (It’s easy for me to overlook these things since they’re written in Korean and I’m lazy when it comes to reading unnecessary things in another language.) The note politely tells me the massage guys are on a two-day conference.
Sorry, no relief for you.
I decide to get an oil massage from the bath ladies – not a favorite of mine, but it might relax me enough to get by. But guess what? They don’t get in until 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Disappointed, I spend a half hour or so in the hot tub, which works only as long I’m inside. As soon as I’m out, the head starts up again. If I’m going to write at all today, I gotta find my massage.
12:00. I get home and start leafing through the local coupon book, looking for a place that does sports massages. No luck – they’re all face massage places. My husband says he’d seen a few Thai massage places in the next neighborhood over. He’ll drop me off.
12:30. There’s three massage places in two buildings. I go to the biggest one, which is really nice. Great interior, English menu that says, “This is not a disreputable establishment.” Trouble is, the person who does the full body massages does not come in until 2:30. I’m ready to start beating my head in against the counter. I take their card and say I’ll call them back.
I go next door. As I’m opening the door to place no. 1, I notice there’s one of those old-fashioned revolving barber’s poles hanging by it. In Korea, the barber poles hang in front of barber’s shops and massage places to indicate that there are some ‘extra’ services (involving girls in miniskirts and way too much makeup). So I was not surprised when the cleaning lady shoos me out.
The next one upstairs is unattended, but I’m getting desperate. I finally shout out another cleaning lady who casts a quick look at the back offices and whispers, “No women!”
12:45. I call the “not disreputable establishment” and book the 2:30. Right on schedule, at 6 hours into the headache, I start crying in the restaurant. But I survive, and get to my appointment and get an 1-1/2 hours of pushing, pressing and pretzeling. I get home at 5 pm, pain-free, but without a single page written. Oh, and a husband complaining I could support a small African village on the money I spent that day.
But the good news is, he felt sorry enough for my unsuccessful quest that he kept the kids occupied for six hours the next day so I could make up my writing time. So even unsuccessful quests can bring happy rewards! (And a knowledge of places I can warn my husband against frequenting!)