It’s Sunday the fourth. I woke up this morning thinking about what a misfit I was in Hong Kong and Korea. I had no clue what I was doing… or anyway, I excused myself in ignoring the clues I had. My discipline failed. It’s no wonder people there turned against me. I can’t even blame them, those roommates and members and missionaries in Hong Kong, and those girls in Korea; I think I now have total sympathy for their opinions that I used to think were harsh, unkind, and un-Christ-like… though I was always careful to admit their truth, so as not to follow the footsteps of apostates.
But on my side, I’ve taken them all as learning experiences… It would be totally different for me if I visited those places again. Indeed, I learned as I went; Korea was a great deal better of a trip than Hong Kong, although I still made some very serious errors of judgment there… and still earned my own unhappy reward… of losing her whom I loved the most…
Much gladder still I am to think back on my short trip to Coquitlam, British Columbia, which was in my mind a near-total success. It seems I was just as sad and happy there as in East Asia, but… how different I myself was. There was very little that could really be regretted from that trip. If there was still sadness there, at least the memories of that place have become much happier than the others.
…Yet I’m maybe not so different in the end, as I also recognized this morning; not yet. Here I am, my perfection in life still ahead of me. Here I am, with exactly the same faculty of logic I’ve always had. My thoughts have not changed or advanced, only my approach. If I was evil then, I am still now; if I’m good now, I was also then. Maybe I’ve learned the dance steps a little more gracefully with practice, but it’s still me, Steve, on the floor.
So if I’m still wary of my own fallibility, I’m grateful that at least I’m more normal than before. It’s a good direction.
…And so much credit goes to her, as an instrument of God, who…… before she gave up on me…… taught me a strong desire to normalize… May her Father bless her. I have prayed again for her.
I guess I’ll put in the rest after church. At 6 tonight, Russell Nelson is going to speak at our stake center.
Church was fine… We learned about prayer and coming to the aid of others. I commented that most of the opportunities I had to help and to receive help did not involve beggars, but friends and family.
Coming home just now, Shanna showed up and asked for a “favour”, a little money for gas so she could go play with her friend and then take the friend home… I felt bad. I told her I’d just decided to not collect the money she owed me, and now she immediately came to ask for yet more money… She replied that she was more than willing to pay me all back anyway, but I said again that I would drop the debt. (It’s only 30 dollars.)
My car’s almost on empty too… or I would have just insisted on taking the friend myself… I told her I had to work for my money, and all I’d made last night from driving around was 39 dollars (40, in fact, on recounting). I said I’d given up hope that she’d ever become stably employed; she told me of some temporary jobs she’d been doing, and repeated her empty assurance that she would get a job. I told her she could have paid me back long ago if she didn’t waste money on her completely unprofitable habits… At last I relented. If a begrudged gift is no gift at all, then all I am now is five bucks poorer, and no better off.
I’d also told her that I just wasn’t rich enough to support her… yet…
That thought came during my meditations in the shower before going to church. Somebody on Facebook’s word game, Scramble, told me this week that I looked like a guy “Mark Greene” from some medical dramatic programme on T.V.; that character is a somewhat nerdy-looking doctor (who happens to have gone fairly bald). I found a picture of him, and updated my Facebook profile picture to compare us. Anyway, in the shower today, I started thinking that I ought to become a doctor… There may be some significant obstacles between me and that goal, but none of them have to do with my mental capability as it relates to the medical field. I don’t doubt that I would be able to do it. I thought of my childhood friend Garrett Burbidge and my cousin Ammon, both of whom I certainly match intellectually, having entered medical school. I thought about my friend Hedy, who’s pursuing her nursing career… and I thought of my mother, who through her employment background has introduced me to the medical profession. She has often joked that if I were a doctor, she could come work in my office when she got old. It would be a good career for me, and I could stand the money. I thought that I would probably have to volunteer a lot, but I assumed I would still be able to earn money somehow. I thought about the time frame… Mid-thirties would be a fine young age to start doctoring. Lastly, I thought that it would make me a better prospect for marriage, and I would also be able to support MY family, my current one, if that was necessary. It has been the practice through much of history that unwed women be cared for by their birth families; and even though feminism has made men out of today’s women, I would not feel out of place in helping to support my dependent sister… if only I had the money. And I can think of several others I could better help in that career. Anyway, leaving the shower and bathroom, I decided to first find out the necessary steps and qualifications for that course of study.
Well, leaving church, I looked out through the south glass door and saw the back of an Asian female’s head. I was sure it was impossible that an Asian girl would be here at our ward, so I left in the other direction. But driving back around the church building, I saw not one but two Chinese-looking girls accompanying Joyce Stringham, the nearly elderly opera advocate who first introduced my mom and my step-dad. I was sure that busy Joyce would introduce me too, since it seemed to be commonly known that I had something to do with Asia, so I hurried and parked my car and started walking back to the church, passing not far from them. I waited for Joyce to hail me… but the three and old Max Anderson just kept walking down toward the stairs at the back of the parking lot. I wasn’t about to go chasing after some Chinese girls like a dork… so I drove home, and by the time I arrived, I had formulated another plan to cross paths with them: I would walk back to church on pretense of having some unfinished business there. As I passed by Joyce’s house, the two were going around back — they must be her newest student renters — and Joyce was headed to her front door. “Hello Joyce,” I called to her. She greeted me back and asked how I was, and I responded. Neither of us made any attempt stop and talk; I certainly wasn’t going to be so obvious, and she seemed to have no such intention (I wondered if it was because I have rebuffed her recent attempts to recruit me to the opera). So… we both left. I got to church and then turned around and went back home. “Oh well,” I thought. “If it wasn’t going to work, then I couldn’t have forced it anyway.” By the time I got home for the second time, I’d decided that it was a selfish desire anyway to want to meet those girls; and it was insincere to be friendly to Joyce only for that purpose.
Well, it’s time for the fireside.
I was mistaken; it was a general church-wide young adult broadcast. Elder Nelson talked about the good of “worthy music” and the bad of unworthy music, ideas I have preached for years with negligible success. I was forced to close my eyes because of the obnoxious stroking and scratching of a couple seated in front of me. I wondered at first if I hadn’t just had the rare fortune of sitting behind the first human-ape hybrids… but at closer look, I thought I recognized the young man as Steve Pearson, a guy who had showed me kindness once at school. That was when I closed my eyes, to avoid being forced into any more condemnation of my brother.
At the close of the broadcast, two kids went up and promoted their charity activity for the Holladay young adults, a “date auction”. My sensibilities were offended by the ideas of purchasing people, selling romance, making a game out of dating, and mocking love. As they dragged on with their explanation, I got up, went back to the refreshment table, chose a piece of the bread there, and walked out.
April 18, Friday – School
I went to school and saw Shelley Ramdeen there with her parents. I felt embarrassed that I hadn’t called her yet (but talking to her yesterday, I found that she thought she was the one who said she’d call me). She asked if I’d talked with Rekha Selvaratnam… She was there signing up for classes. From there, I visited Mable’s, then went home.
April 19, Saturday – Exodus
There was a marathon in the morning that went down 2300 East; my mom and I went over in the morning and saw some ward members running, as well as my uncle Burk. Some hours later I drove down to Gateway Mall and saw Burk finish the race; his son Sterling was there, having run a 5-kilometre race. I went to Temple Square next; I was going to take a tour of the Conference Center with Rekha, who gave tours there on Saturday. The morning shift people didn’t know her, so I came back and asked the 1-5 p.m. people. One lady took me to a room and asked the two people there if they knew her; a woman did, informing me that Rekha had called in sick that day.
Back at home, I returned a call from Monde; she wanted to go to a church activity at the University of Utah Institute. I called Rekha to ask if she wanted to come, but she said she had family over. I told her we would like to visit her after the activity if she wasn’t feeling well. I went and got Monde, who told me in the car that she’d already talked with Rekha since my call and had broken off the plan of visiting her, since Monde wanted to hang out instead with Mable. I felt a little annoyed at Monde for that…
We picked up Mable and Quinha and went together. Monde had told me in the car that I was overdressed for the casual event (I had on my work uniform), and that I should go home and change. I thought I looked fine and I declined her suggestion. When we got to the Institute building, we found out that it was actually a fireside, and everybody except us was in church clothes. I felt fine attending as I was, and I convinced Mable to go anyway, but Monde was not too keen on it and Quinha utterly refused, starting to walk home. We all went after her… I had a good laugh about it, that Monde had tried so hard to get me to dress down.
Quinha knew about a “Genesis” activity way off in Sandy or somewhere, which I guess is a local group for African-descended members of the Church. It was a talent show; we missed the food. On the way back, they wanted to stop for food. I had no money to treat them… Mable shared some fries and offered to buy me something, but I settled for just the fries.
We stopped next at the dollar theatre, but we quickly decided instead to rent a movie. We went to the Blockbuster near my house and then to Monde’s to watch the DVD they had chosen; it was some relationship movie, “Why Did I Get Married”, or something. I laughed when Mable asked me if I was “o.k.” watching an “all-black movie”… I watched it quietly, and they thought I slept through it. (Later at Ross, Monde teased me about refusing to watch a black movie, sleeping through it instead, and I had to summarize the entire plot for her to show her I hadn’t been asleep.) After the movie, I took Mable and Quinha home.
April 20, Sunday – Sabbath Breaking 2
In the morning, Dave told me he’d found a 1980 motorcycle, hardly ridden, for 500 bucks. He showed it to me on the KSL webpage it was listed on. I didn’t have the money, though…
I think it was before church that I got a call from my old boss at Hunan Garden Restaurant, David. He was asking if I could work delivery again. “Not on Sunday,” I reminded him. He said he wasn’t asking for Sunday; just Fridays and Saturdays for the next month, 5:30 to 8:30 (ha; more like 10:30). I was in straits with money, so I agreed. (I think he was asking because his daughter and son, whom he imported to work here, were going back to China on Friday. He still has one daughter here.)
…I guess it’s thanks to my Korean friend whom I took to Hunan a couple times back in January, reminding them of my existence…
There was a stake young adult meeting at the end of church; President Ostler taught Ephesians 6:11-18.
Back home, my mom was upset with Shanna for not having cleaned her boss’ office yet (which is supposed to be done every weekend), and was sure that Shanna would end up going again on Monday morning and not have enough time to finish the job. She insisted (again) that this was the last straw — Shanna would be fired. Shane was willing to go do it (in the beginning, over a decade ago, we three had shared the job at the office of her old boss, at St. Mark’s Hospital), and the two pressured me into helping him out. I said that I would only do it if we could be assured of the responsibility in the future, because I was tired of it getting put off till the last day by others, and then me having to go do it on Sunday night. If the job fell to us, then I could go on Friday or Saturday at my leisure. My mom assented, and we went. So, I ended the day with two new jobs.
April 21, Monday – Wheels
I did my usual crossing work, going to school in between. At school I read a nice Old Testament book by a guy at BYU Jerusalem. Back home, Shane wanted help putting in a fence at the preschool whose grounds he keeps; he paid me ten dollars for my assistance. Later, my mom and step-dad Dave took his motorcycle to the church so he could practice for his test. He let me drive it… it was my first time, and my second time on such a machine since riding with my father, Kelly, as a small boy. I think I did well enough.
At home, we called to ask about that 500-dollar motorcycle; it was already sold.
April 22, Tuesday – Downtown
After my second shift I wanted to do some hiking, so I parked at the state capitol and walked up to Ensign Peak and then up the peak. I did some stretching on my way up. I came back down just before 5 and tried to see if Mable could use a ride to her work (not that she needed one; she lives a couple minutes up the road from the Church Office Building), but she was gone. I knew Monde was getting off, so I waited around outside the JSMB until she and Bernice appeared. We took Bernice home, stopping first at Little Caesar’s so she could buy herself a pizza (I had a bit of money that time, but when I went out to get change, she paid for it herself). Bernice lives out at 13th North and 17th West. After that, I dropped Monde off at her place, and came home. My mom and I watched the first part of “Hidalgo” again.
April 23, Wednesday – Asian Studies
After morning shift I went to the school library and brought my Korean book with me, “Hanguk-eo 1”. I studied that a bit, and also tried to memorize some of the content of my Fall 2007 Conference Report booklet. Eventually I went home, then to my afternoon crossing. After that was my second Kung Fu class at 4:00, where we built on the previous techniques. At 7:00 was my second Tae-kwondo class. Back home, I and my mom finished our movie.
April 24, Thursday – Some Phone Calls
I talked with my Canadian friend Alex(andra)… Monde scheduled me to take Quinha to the airport the next morning; she was going to California for the weekend.
April 25, Friday – Flight
After work, I got Monde and then Quinha and took them to the airport. It was a wonderful and nostalgic visit, as usual… I love airports, and this one particularly… After seeing her off, we went and picked up Mable from some job interview she had out in West Jordan or somewhere. We stopped at Walmart, where Mable bought us some goodies. I dropped them off at Mable’s, then went to work, then to school, and then home, stopping at Blockbuster on the way to drop of Monde’s videos (she had also rented another one that she watched later; she rented them on my card). At 5:30 I went to Hunan and started working. It was a busy night; at one time I had 7 orders waiting to be finished; I took them in two overlapping trips (the last one, sadly, arrived 1.5 hours from the time it was called in, since the cook was also busy with eat-in and take-out orders). I brought home 87 dollars. At home, Monde scheduled me to bring her and Mable to Quinha’s on Saturday morning to care for her twin dogs.
April 26, Saturday – Stuff to Remember…
I got the girls in the morning and went over there. There was a yard sale right down the road from Quinha’s apartment (on 600 South, just above 900 East). We went to look around. I bought two 30-pound hand dumbells for five apiece; they would’ve cost twenty bucks each down at Gateway, as I noticed while there with Tugsuu’s parents. Anyway, Mable bought a desk, but had no way to carry it — she didn’t want to risk leaving it there for other buyers. I didn’t want to risk leaving her money there, either, so we called Shane and waited for him to come with his truck… We reimbursed him five bucks after the move (I wasn’t sure if Mable was paying, or I was… since she owes me some money).
Mable had to go somewhere, but Monde and I stayed at Mable’s apartment (A Street and 1st Avenue) and watched a movie… “A Walk To Remember”. I cried hard during this movie… It brought back very strong memories of my Korean friend. I think it was since this movie that I have begun to miss her again…
…Anyway… I went to Temple Square after that… then to Hunan… and then back home. I made slightly less that night. I then went down to clean the office, alone this time, doing the same half of the chores that I’d done the week before — Shane and I had decided to just keep those duties.
April 27, Sunday – Frayed Connections
I was called before church by Mable, who wanted a ride to Orem to visit a friend; she said it was just her going. I thought I’d finally get a chance to get to know her better, and I accepted. I met them both after church and found out Monde was going after all… Once more, I felt that Monde had interfered with things… I also took careful note of how carelessly the girls again tossed their heavier things on my fragile papers and books on my back seat, as if nothing I had there mattered. They do that every time, even when I indicate to be more cautious… I started thinking how little they respected my car, or even me… It was then that I decided that I wasn’t going to keep being their chauffeur. I became somewhat sullen for the rest of the drive.
My car had begun to shake badly at high speeds (at moderate speeds, now), and my tires are getting more and more worn, one bearing a noticeable fray. Fortunately we made the trip without incident. Mable’s friend Nick was a missionary to Africa; he was now returning for the summer with his girlfriend, and Mable wanted to ask him to carry some things to her relatives. He couldn’t accept everything she had… Anyway, we had a nice time eating and mingling at his house — his family and friends were there, including two missionaries, the newer of which he had taught in the MTC: an Elder Jonathan(?) Candia from Vancouver (who mentioned to me that he remembered Craig Johnston, my friend Alex’s older brother (by the way, I knew this Alex through my former friend Heidi Ng (“former” because she chose friendship with my Korean friend over friendship with me, during the time when I was trying to forget that Korean girl by removing all our active shared connections))). I met Jon Harmon there, a kid from my junior high school, a grade below me; we remembered each other. He was the cousin of this Nick. I talked with Jon’s little sister Allison for some time about her school, Utah State University. We also listened to Elder Candia share some preaching.
Anyway, we drove home, stopping first at Quinha’s to care for her dogs. They had made an unbelievable organic mess… I think it was from Monde overloading their food dishes. …Anyway, we cleaned it all up… then I took the girls to Mable’s.
Back home, Alex called again to chat.
April 28, Monday – Wrapped Up
I went to school (all these school visits since graduation have just been for pleasure), also visiting Temple Square for more conference clips. I didn’t plan to go to visit those girls again, as per my decision on Sunday… but because Mable had wanted to take back to Ross some of the stuff she couldn’t send, and I’d asked her, “Why don’t we go tomorrow?”, I went anyway. Monde was there, and told me that Mable had already gone herself. I waited around and then took Monde to work (also at the Church Office Building). Back at school, I saw the husband of Theresa Egan, who grew up in my ward and still lives here. He was there for some kind of test… Before afternoon work, I got Arby’s again and ate at SLCC. I worked, then went home…
Whew. Hello again, May.