2011/02/26 S – Exception

A week ago was the “Asian Pioneer Heritage Festival”, put on by BYU’s racist Asian ward.  Twelve nations were represented by visual displays, counting Hong Kong, Taiwan, Hmong, and Hawaii, and including Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, beside East Asia.  Later there was to be regional food sampling and “performances”, probably with music or dance.  At the end there was to be a participatory dance for couples or something.

…Dang.  Here comes my mental room-mate home again…  He walks in like a tornado every time.  Several minutes of his blubbering interruption later, let me continue…

So, on my way in from parking my bike, I passed our Vietnamese class assistant, My (sounded, “me”), as she unloaded some food from a car.  Asking where I was going, she reminded me that I wasn’t Asian.  If she was trying to be funny, it was lost on me…  Later inside, Akasaka Naoki, a former Selnate student now at the ELC, made a duplicate comment to me, but obviously in sarcasm this time.  My skin colour aside, he seemed surprised that I wasn’t going to get any food after the displays, but I had lost interest in any fuller patronage of the event after My’s first snotty remark, and, instead of the hour-plus that I stayed, would have left within 30 minutes except that the other visitors (including — whoops — a bunch of other white guests, in addition to the white bishop, blessed by his calling with the privilege of self-exclusion from his own segregationist dictates) were cattling up the room and delaying my primary goal of photographing the displays.

Somehow, this hatefully unwell room-mate still beats nice/cruel Shane by a mile, but I’ll be happy to get him forever out of my ears when this semester ends.  We’ve gotten along well recently, and have laughed together; but with his never-diminishing disrespect of others’ right to exist free of his dopey, loud, self-centred nosiness and constant social self-insertion, our friendship could never have lasted.  Somehow, I worry about him still; he seems fragile at times…  He had a tiff with his pre-wife, even looselier bolted than he, a few days ago, and I felt sure he was going to run away from the whole thing.  They seem to have worked it out.

So… leaving that Asian self-consolation party with its partly valuable (but partly inaccurate) historical displays, I thought I might as well go back to Salt Lake that night instead of the next morning.  The bus was late and the weather slowing, and for a while after boarding, I was convinced that I’d have to make the some-what long ride home again from the train station, laundry bag on shoulder, since the last bus up 33rd south would leave immediately after the train we were supposed to catch, if we were on time.  The driver wisely decided to skip the American Fork stop, and we ended up catching that train.  I happened to meet a friendly, older Vietnamese man named Cong on the bus, a nail-salon worker.

A more-or-less happy family was waiting for me at home.  We had some cake the next day, and I returned to Provo on Monday, which was a public day-off.

Shane had started up some sort of religious discussion on Sunday night about his adopted belief in a black Jesus (but apparently not a divine black Jesus).  He argued it somewhat tenaciously, though he was almost entirely vacant of convincing proofs.  He also delved into what I took to be his views of the evolutionary supremacy of Africans (that is, black Africans), or the moral inferiority of the white man, or who-knows-what.  I don’t remember clearly.

As far as I know, he had picked most of his racism up from his Rastafarian music circle starting in his less fortunate post-hippy high-school years (I should mention that ever since Election 2008, it has been Shane calling people “racist” because they didn’t worship black skin or something, just like you hear leftists doing on the news; it was actually quite shocking to both me and my mother when he resorted to such an accusation out of the blue during a political talk, since both of us are more globally connected than he is, and he had never before shown any overt sensitivity to racial issues; he surely picked it up from the anti-conservative news or something).

Any way, I’m afraid his new religious zeal, though interesting for me, may all be sort of a mask for a hallucinogen habit — which I only “strongly expect” rather than actually knowing anything about — but it’s still the most religion I’ve heard out of him for a very long time.  I could tell he felt better to have been able to have such a “discussion” with some body, as if he perhaps is surrounded by only passingly interested acquaintances.  Strangely, as when I first noticed Shanna starting to read books on variations of Christianity, I was glad to hear Shane mention his pro-Ethiopian views, with their vague but substantive Biblical foundation.  Those movements are not without their light.

It wasn’t a productive week at school.  On Thursday, I went to a local dentist (at “Cougar Dental”), who, surprisingly to me, found no tooth decay that he felt was worth treating.  They added me to their “perfect smile club”, what-ever it was called, taking a weird-looking picture of me and giving me a coupon to the hot-dog eatery across the street.  I redeemed it at lunch-time, but the visit was not ideal.  The main chef asked me what I wanted on my hot dog, and I told him to “hold” (that is, retain) two kinds of peppers, implying to add the rest.  He instead took me as having asked for those two kinds of peppers, and loaded my hot dog with them.  I corrected him, and he said I needed to talk louder because of the fan behind him.  After that, he left my food for another worker to finish…

It was crowded, so I went to sit out-side, where I happened to witness one of the most unexpected things I have ever seen here.  A kind of girthy Tahitian-looking black guy came out to his car and began to leave.  I hadn’t paid attention to him, and was sure at first that the driver was a girl.  He very cautiously backed up and to the right, toward the exit door of the eatery, edging out of the very tight parking area.  There were two out-side tables with chairs set up by that exit door, and one of them was occupied by three non-thin BYU workers or something.  (I was sitting across the drive-way, by the little out-door shack.)  The car crept slowly back-ward, approaching the chair of the nearest sitter, and I was tempted to whistle at the driver to warn him — but I couldn’t believe he or she was actually going to blindly back right into a person sitting there, so I just watched.  Surely enough, the driver inched closer and closer to those three men, who were ignoring him, until he actually bumped into the nearest chair, still occupied, pressing it back a few inches into the table, and also seeming to shake the table a very little (more likely from the sitter pushing against it than the chair contacting it).  That got their attention, and they made a sort of modest protest, more of a surprised exhalation, which the driver probably didn’t hear.  He had gotten enough space to turn clear of the other cars, and, switching gears, exitted the parking lot.  He surely had felt the obstruction, though, since he had stopped almost immediately after touching the chair… suggesting that he probably habitually backed his car up that way, going till he nudged something.  I shook my head at him as he left, just then realising that it wasn’t a ditzy girl after all.  One of the other guys sitting there started grinning and recounting what had just happened, and the third began laughing quite heartily, while the near-victim just had a kind of sour look on his face, also releasing a perturbed laugh or two.

Let’s see.  On Thursday night, I went to the editting club and was finally assigned to do a third edit of a certain paper.  I left a little early to go attend a lecture by a visiting professor, John Wunder, whose topic was the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty with the Lakota nation.  The professor had a fairly high-pitched voice besides a tendency of fricativisation, causing me to misunderstand his first few words, but I soon caught on.  His contention was that the treaties with aboriginal tribes are and should be valid legal documents.  I already agreed with him, and the some-what thin audience seemed to take his point well.  I quite enjoyed his discussion.

After that, I went late to the SID meeting and heard some more of the Hunger Banquet planning.

I was a little sick that night.  After many, many months of avoiding illness, other than muscular pains, I had finally become infected by some body, developing slight symptoms on Wednesday night or Thursday.  By Friday, I was out of my old bag of cough drops from last winter or when-ever, and I went to the book store to replace them.  There, I met Shigihara Satoshi by chance.  We talked for a bit longer than either of us wanted, not really knowing how to separate politely.

Since he had nothing pressing, he finally agreed to accompany me to a Japanese-club movie showing that evening.  We got there a few minutes late; the film was “My Darling is a Foreigner”, a cute little story of some weirdish Japanese lady who meets a Japanese-speaking foreigner over there.  It seems our audience there was more white girls than any thing else, and I disagreed with most of their obnoxious shrieks of laughter at non-funny times, but near the end of the film, I was hit with a particular scene and phrase (she said she wanted to be together forever), and started crying profusely, stinging with the tragic memory of my own mistaken love that turned out so oppositely…  I tried to laugh it off as we left…

After that, he assented to joining me at the Cannon Centre.  (Mai had turned me down for the movie and Friday meal, though she had come last Friday for the first time since Myeong-Seon left).  He called a friend of his, Emily, a white girl who had met his family while a missionary in Tokyo; we met her at the cafeteria.  We got in on my cheaper card and had a fine meal.  Emily had gone to BYU-I, and seemed approachable.  I hope she gets along well with Satoshi.

Today, I went to the MTC for the second time.  I skipped the two past Saturdays because of the frustrating e-mails I had gotten from the co-ordinators there, each of whom tells us how many people are needed on the next week-end, but none of whom except one says a word after that about whether they have enough or too much help yet.  Since I’m sort of a back-up resource with the other languages, I don’t want to volunteer unless they’re short of help.  I suggested in reply that they make a chart accessible on-line to show their needs for the week, but I guess they rejected the idea.

Any way, I answered the Cantonese guy on Friday and volunteered.  I got up early, a little sicker than yesterday, but not much, and arrived at the MTC at about 8:35.  After the lesson, I went down to the Tanner building, where the Kaplan company was offering free graduate-study practice tests.  Many more participants showed up than had been planned for, and the last one to get in to the highly demanded GRE was about thirty people ahead of me in the line.  They dismissed us with their blessing of a promised discount if we wanted to take one of their courses.  I didn’t really mind, since I was only taking it for fun, to see how well I would do.

I met a friendly white girl in the line, Rachel Smith, from Florida, who had been my class-mate last spring term, and had since graduated.  She was very nice, and not so overly cute as to likely give way to disillusionment later in life.  We walked out together and eventually separated.

I went to the library a bit, then came home and thought about sleeping, since my energy had begun to sap from what-ever virus I have.  In-stead of sleep, I watched a DVD some body has here, “Inception”, by Christopher Nolan.  I had avoided the movie ever since seeing the stupid young actress make some prejudiced political insult during an interview.  The show went well, though.  The touchingest part for me was at the very end, when they all got off the plane.  As Cobb walked through the airport, his former comrades were mulling around here and there, all exchanging knowing eye-contact with him, though feigning anonymity.  Even the one whom they had targetted and even fought beside, ignorant of them in the real world, gave him a glance of confused familiarity… and finally, he was conducted home.

Not only is that feeling of momentary camaraderie with strangers, forced by proximity, common among all fellow-passengers, particularly at the end of the journey… but one also gets the sense that one should some how be familiar with every stranger walking around out-side… that only by some crushing amnesia are any of us unable to recognise each other from our shared past adventure… and that this present “reality” is not necessarily unreal, but is not completely real either… maybe like the life of a blind man, who certainly still has his life that is hopefully good, but who, in our judgement, can only rarely ever appreciate where he actually is and what he’s actually doing, or what things are actually like.

We are certainly all so deprived.  Shame on us if we think we can actually comprehend our selves or our world.  One of our deprivations is surely our amnesia (as the Church calls it, the “veil of forgetfulness”) and our detachment from our family, our own blood, who swarm around us mindlessly, thinking we are strangers, and we them… who distrust us, who fear us, who take advantage of us, who insult us, who do crime against us… and who ignore us…

…And we, them.

It’s a sad handicap, to have lost our minds, misplaced our own identities, forgotten our own friends…

The only assured recovery we can pursue here is to stop “respecting persons”; to stop throwing the riches of esteem at those already drowning in wealth, but to impute at least some worth to every body, and the low in particular.  Avoid celebritism; refuse popularity.  Don’t crucify others for their wrong opinions…

So, I should try again to forgive my brother here, Chris…

I think I have felt longer times pass, in dreams…

Maybe not.  The speed was not really different, I think; there were just breaks in time, jumps ahead or jumps back… or things that took shorter to happen.

Only occasionally do I know I’m dreaming…  But it’s not that I always think the dream is “real”.  I’m just involved in it; as a viewer knows a movie isn’t “real”, but still places himself in the story, and experiences the characters.  The question of “reality” doesn’t often come up in dreams.

Well, I’m getting tired…


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