2012/01/21 S – Separation

We’ve had some lovely winter wind-storms these days.  Later today, the third election state, South Carolina, will prove which is stronger, their susceptibility to obviously biased, fear-inciting propaganda, or their love of reason.  It’s 7:00 a.m. now; I’ve been writing this for three or four hours.

Myeong-Seon spent Thanks-giving Day, Manila, the family Christ-Mass party, Christ-Mass Day, and Gregorian New Year’s Day with us, as well as many intervening days.  I don’t quite remember Hallow-mass Eve…  Yes, I think we drove or biked around and saw a few kids that night.  On the last night of the year, we took my mom’s car and drove out to the Tanner Park overlook of down-town.  Fireworks were shot up in several places throughout the valley.  We also watched a lot of movies over the months.  I think we started the Star Wars sextilogy on December 31st, finishing about two days later; she’s still not so good for video marathons.  Last time, maybe one or two years-end before, when I only watched the new three, the theme of self-destruction hit me.  This time, we started with the new and finished with the old (Myeong-Seon was suspicious from the dress, but didn’t fully realise that the order of the movies was strange until the end).  The very satisfying redemptive message was made obvious from that playing.

Early on the first day of the year, my parents at Manila, our family broke all protocol with a vicious inter-sibling fight.  As always, Shane was being his mentally-ill self to Shanna, and her temper utterly exploded.  She screamed epithets; she kicked or flung a large, wooden nut-cracker doll (still lined up on display by the stairs on the front room floor) to the ground with a tremendous crash; she swiped at the pictures going down the stairway, knocking them off (this was right before I came out; I thought she’d ruined them).  Shane followed her, too deranged himself to have any ability to stop carping at and insulting her.  I went down after them.  She hurled the remote controllers at the t.v., vulgarly demanded that I evict Myeong-Seon, went back up-stairs to try to get away from Shane… and finally, right in front of me, kicked over more of the dolls, breaking some parts off of them.

I was worried she would destroy the entire house if she went on — and the room was full of fragile decorations, the glass table, and other things that I was sure she’d rampage through on her monstrous march out the glass back door, which she’d probably break too; my mom would come home to wreckage.  Even if not, she’d just broken other things without any sense of human reason.  I’d had enough, and I kind of roughly grabbed her from behind, put her in a head-lock, and forced her down on to the couch, then again when she got up, and again.  At one point, she had started clawing into my arm, but it didn’t break the skin.  I also kicked the glass table with my shin without yet sensing it, leaving a scab that’s about ready to be shed today.  I was yelling at her that she couldn’t destroy people’s stuff.  Her response chilled my blood: her face half red and half white, she distorted her features like a demon and screamed at me with all her rage about how I was strangling her or ruining her neck, and also, that those dolls belonged to her (I’m still not sure if that’s true).  I won’t soon forget that look of pure hatred, malice, and death on her face as she shrieked…  I believe I told her to look at herself, and said something about being a devil.

Anyway, Shane had come up, and they exchanged more words and some gentler shoves, then she finally made it outside.  Shane proceeded to chastise me about being physical with her, accusing me of dropping in that instant all my presumed good beliefs or morals.  I had no interest in fighting with him, and he’d started picking up the debris, so I helped him.  For thirty minutes or longer we quickly cleaned up all the Christ-Mass stuff; I, for one, was worried Shanna would burst back in at any moment and continue her desecration.  She didn’t.  Shane spent most of the cleaning time accusing her of this or that; being drug-addled, drinking and smoking to her constitutional detriment, not eating enough, having had the worst social influences.  Really, he was just trying to figure out why she was so tantrum-prone.

At one point, when he told me not to resist or bother her again when she came back, I answered that I could control myself, and I hoped he could too.  The root problem of Shanna’s occasional outbursts is one Shane can never quite fathom: that he tends to constantly make piercing little criticisms and complaints, and can’t really stop until he’s said his lengthy piece.  He’s gotten along better over the past year, but still regularly starts spitting out unwanted negativity and extreme bossiness that has pretty much disrupted a normal fraternal relationship, and driven me multiple times to privately vow that I would leave here as soon as possible, and never again darken my life by sharing it with him.  I count him one of the greatest discomforts in my life.  Still, I tend to forgive him later, and attribute his madness to actual biochemical flaws instead of willful inhumanity.  And our talk as we cleaned up and put away Christ-Mass that day was gratifying.

Shanna later returned, and I managed to apologise for manhandling her, which she seemed to accept.  Within a day or two, she was describing the event to our mother without excusing her misbehaviour.

For a while, Shane had me convinced that Shanna was really abusing narcotics… but whatever her problem is, it’s provoked by disordered Shane about 95% of the time.

She fought again… maybe… three days ago, as I still slept in the late morning.  I thought I heard them talking about making me a sandwich, but Shanna wondered if I wanted it, and, as usual, Shane turned it rude, and Shanna quickly grew belligerent, and retreated to her room with a slam of the door.  This time, Dave was there in his up-stairs room, and after she hurled something at her wall or door, he stomped in and yelled at her that she needed to move out.  She usually doesn’t trifle with him, but that morning, yelled back a curse word about how he never cared about “us”.  He again demanded that she leave, and the confrontation was over.  Later in the same day, she confided the event to me, which I already knew.  She was already calm about it, so I reasoned a little that Dave in fact has been very good to us, and his response that morning was to be expected, given his point of view of always having a bit of tension about marrying a woman but then having to put up with her home-occupying kids for his entire life.  Shanna agreed that he could be a lot worse of a person/husband/step-father.

My dear sister…  At least I can talk with her, unlike my sometimes verbally abusive, sometimes generous and jovial, dear-from-a-distance brother.

Shane and I had our own incident… probably on Thursday, the 12th of this month.  It was around 3 or 4 a.m.; I’d recently resumed playing some computer games, keeping me awake late.  Our elderly Dalmatian-Labrador dog, Dozer, had moved around a bit upstairs.  (He could barely walk anymore, and needed to frequently be helped outside.)  I’d been up earlier after some noises, but he had refused to budge.  When he later moved around, I hadn’t bothered to go up.  Shane, in one of his several daily/nightly baths (behavioural disorder…), started banging things around up in the kitchen, making a bit of a ruckus.  After a few minutes, he came down-stairs, obviously perturbed.  He started grouching at me that Dozer had just defecated all over the floor, and was stuck lying in it; he’d cleaned up the dog, but because I’d neglected to take him out, I was now to come clean the floor.  For about thirty seconds, I was neutral to his “request”, but as he repeated his blameful demands again and again, and started accusing me of this and that, and ordered me around more, I just stopped responding and kept at my game.  That didn’t dissuade him; he nagged for another five minutes, then went up to finish his bath, threatening that I’d better have cleaned it up by the time he finished.  “You’ve lost your chance for me to help you,” I thought.

Soon, he was back, and renewed his endless stream of criticism.  I decided to totally ignore him, and just go to sleep when I left.  I was half-asleep anyway.  He started flipping the light switch off and on, and verbally barrage me to evoke a response.  I just out-lasted him, having waited the whole time for him to even once soften his request to a civil, human level, and having made up my mind by the end to never, ever help him with anything, ever again.  The game had become too tedious in my fatigue, and I began to turn it off.  Shane took this as my assent to do the job; the brutish idiot was in for a surprise, I thought.

As it turned out, I got up-stairs and glanced over into the kitchen just to see the extent of it.  It was mostly smeared over a 4-by-5-foot area.  Shane had been spraying it with a bottle, since it was starting to dry.  He had prepared some paper towels for me, which he thrust at me when I looked in.  For a few seconds, I didn’t take them as I considered following through with my boycott.  Or, I thought… I could avoid the ugliness tonight, and answer his maltreatment in the future, after severing contact.  “…Just do it later,” I decided.  We wiped for about ten minutes.  He told me to not do it in such-and-such a way, and started complaining about California banning plastic sacks while freely using many other plastic products, and the difficulty it would pose for jobs like this.

The consequentiality of that very late night was revised because of what happened afterward.  The next day (Friday the 13th, if not a day earlier), I was alone with Dozer.  He tried to stand up, but I could only walk him as far as the front door, when he blocked any further forward movement, then sat down and collapsed in the hallway.  When he rolled a little, I noticed some waste smeared on the floor under his foot; he couldn’t hold it in.  I laid him there and went to get some supplies to clean it up, after doing which, unable to move him, I found a towel to manoeuvre beneath him and then carried him outside.  He could only stand with support, but he didn’t really excrete any more.  I carried him back inside in like manner.

I don’t think Dozer had eaten much that week, and in the past couple days, he had stopped drinking.  During the same time frame, he’d grown extremely thin.  On Saturday the 14th, the siblings each woke me up, commenting on his condition and telling me to come say good-bye to him.  Of course, I’d been saying “good-bye” for the past year or two, and especially last fall when he started having more incontinence problems and his mobility began a more rapid decline.  He’d become harder and harder to relate to; the result was that he gradually passed out of our family circle.  So, all I did on Saturday was take some more pictures.  They’d called my parents, who returned from Manila, and both of them also came and fetched me to say good-bye.  I came out again and rubbed his eyes a little, that had itched for as long as he’s been blind; he blinked them slightly harder (before, he always pressed his head into your hands).  They were readying to drive him to the veterinarian.  My mom started to cry; I reminded her that she knew it was his time, then went back to bed as Shane and Dave hauled him out to the car on his pad.

Soon, Shanna was in my room again (the only of the five visits where I got the courtesy of a knock).  They couldn’t get an appointment or something, and Dozer was back, but they had some injection that she called diabetic-coma-inducing, and were about to start to administering it.  They were also wondering whether they should try again to force-feed him, or just go start digging a hole in the yard.  I sided with the former option, since the latter was inevitable either way, but I had no real reason to go watch him die; in my mind, he was already dead.  Before I came out again, they’d already left back to-Manila-ward, as the ground here was too cold to dig.

We got a phone-call after a short time; Dozer had died as they were driving past Echo Reservoir.  We learned later that the frozen clay ground was impossible to break in Manila, even with the back-hoe tractor, and they had buried him inside the barn garage instead, at least content that he’d liked to go in there looking for rodents, and now his corpse was safe from predators.

His mat and rug were removed, and Shane re-centred the table which had been more in the corner to give him room.  For a few days after, I kept worrying about turning off the lights at night to not keep him up; or, dropping any dinner scraps, impulsively turning to put them in his bowl, which is now gone.  He’d been part of the background of the kitchen for so very long.

He was probably the nicest-imaginable dog; we assumed he’d been hurt somehow by a former owner (we’d gotten him from the pound).  He almost never talked (sometimes he did when needing to go outside, when he gave a single, deep, slow, “woof” or sometimes a louder, startling “ruff!”).  He was quite beautiful and sleek in appearance, though slightly large in frame.  He had mostly black, down-hanging ears and black-outlined eyes on a white background with black spots.  His eyes smiled.  He was very shy around other dogs.  He was a faithful though less agile side-kick to his two previous companions, Sophie and Cassie, whose excitability was contagious to him, but who were very protective and jealous of him out in public and with other dogs.  (Of course, he’d dug up Sophie’s back-yard grave after her car accident and carried it around the yard until we apprehended him; I think he’d mistaken it as a fortunate snack, though he’d been briefly but noticeably lonely after losing both her and Cassie.)

When younger, he loved to chase and eat rabbits and small creatures out in Manila, though he wasn’t much of a hunter.  He couldn’t possibly bite you, except when chomping for a morsel or treat; it happened to me once in all his years, just a few months ago, and only made the tiniest laceration.  Food was his lifelong passion; in his day, he was known to prop himself up and steal things from counter- and table-tops.  He once got a large block of cheese, and another time, an entire pre-cooked pizza, and hurriedly devoured most or all of them within seconds before we came back to the kitchen; we eventually adapted by putting everything further back.  At dinner time, he would lay his head on Dave’s lap, who always took pity on him.  He later started sneaking to the bathroom garbage cans for toilet paper.  He learned to creep carefully down the stairs if we were eating and watching a movie there, and also liked to follow Bonnie and Dave into their up-stairs room.

He had a proclivity for raiding the cat litter boxes, as well as the cat food dishes.  (In turn, they borrowed his water once he was blind.)  Dozer had a troubled relationship with the cats; he tried to catch and bite them, but could only make one attempt, since he feared their counter-attack.  Sometimes he would have long stand-offs with Sheba, who sat at his eye-level on a couch or chair.  Once blind, he either avoided or ignored them, and they eventually got comfortable being fairly close to him.

He was a little timid around short, unpredictable children.  He used to jump awkwardly up on new people, unaware that his claws poked into them (he’d learned it from his two smaller companions).  He generally wagged his tail at strangers, as well as when people came home (which he also celebrated by prancing and jumping up on you), and at mealtime.  He wagged his tail and seemed happy even late in his blind old age (Cassie, like young Sophie, had been a naughtier and more restless dog, and had become despondent very quickly before her early death).  We credit Dozer’s good-humour to his extended life-span.

And now, he’s even happier than before.

…Unless you ask that strange class of believers who are bred nearer to animals, and thus, feeling threatened by them in the order of things, try to deny that they have souls or any hope of after-life.

As for us, we fully expect to greet happy Dozer again.

Now, I’m unclear on these dates… but I think it was Tuesday the 3rd or something that Myeong-Seon returned to her Orem home (the busses hadn’t run on the 1st and maybe the 2nd).  I think she was starting classes at her new English institute… Pace Academy, in the Orem mall.

Dave had fallen sick, and my mom took me in his stead to their Friday play, a comedic murder-mystery called “The Game is Afoot”.  My mom had forgotten that her usual Friday season schedule had been somehow changed to Saturday for the next couple of plays; we drove back home from the Hale Centre Theatre that night, to return on Saturday (the 7th).  It was amusing.  However, right before leaving for the play-house that night, Myeong-Seon had arrived at our home without warning.  I asked her if she wanted to go as my substitute, but she didn’t really understand what was going on, so she stayed.  We were back two hours later.

I and Myeong-Seon were out of touch on-line, having spent so much time together in December as to leave me hungry for privacy.  Also, I was caught up in the Iowa GOP caucus on the 4th, which was won by Rick Santorum, then Mitt Romney officially, and now again Santorum (I think as an official tie due to irregularities).  That was quite an exciting race.

After getting home on Saturday, I and the girl got into an argument somehow — I blame her, of course.  She blamed me for sticking to my play schedule that night.  We’d been apart a short time, but she was acting very possessive and dependent, which I found unhealthy.  Feeling greatly annoyed with her, I clarified our independent positions.  The argument concluded late at night, when she wanted to give up her softer bed (mine, in fact, that I let her use whenever she’s here after-hours) so that I wouldn’t need to take the couch (at least the down-stairs one; unfortunately, Shanna uses that half the time instead of her room).  I can stand the shorter couches up-stairs, which I took that night, but she thinks they’re injurious to me.  I was nearly asleep when she came and started being extremely insistent about me moving.  I ended up shouting at her, questioning her intelligence, and insulting her for her weird, bothersome interpersonal rules that she gets so stubborn about.

That finally got rid of her…  She was gone to catch the less convenient Sunday bus early the next morning.  I think I recovered the bed at that point; I don’t remember where she actually slept.

I stayed communicatively detached again that week, enjoying the New Hampshire primary, where the museum specimen, Ron Paul, performed exceptionally well, and after which poor Jon Huntsman finally started admitting the reality he’d been publicly avoiding for a year.

Myeong-Seon showed up suddenly again on… hmm.  Monday the 16th, a day of recognition for an assassinated Baptist pastor who has become unnaturally popular among atheists due largely to his race and raciality (contrary to his own desires against such motivations), and whose civil agitation I don’t fully agreed with anyway, finding it unconstitutional and unjust, though understandable.

…So, maybe I’m wrong about Dozer.  Maybe it was on Sunday.

I was happy enough to see Myeong-Seon; she needed to go to school all week anyway.  Again, though, we argued, because I wanted to keep doing what I had been planning to do instead of catering to her unannounced visit.  She took it badly, and I was tempted to, for the first time, request that she not come again if all she was going to do was get offended and blame me for something.  I asked, couldn’t she just stay here and be happy instead of so frequently getting her feelings hurt by me?  She went and got her coat, but my sister started a movie, and Myeong-Seon came back down and ended up staying, after which we had a pleasant evening.

I’m not sure what to make of us any more.  After every fight, which are more frequent nowadays, I become more convinced of our need to disband.  We’re always able to make up… but I’m worrying I’m just wasting her time and attention.  What I once thought at least possible with her, I know just find implausible — not that we haven’t forged a wonderful bond.  She’s nearly part of both the immediate and extended family by now.  I’ve long since given up on her opinions, though, some of which preclude a marital future, as I’ve known before.

It’s been good to be apart.

I and Myeong-Seon discussed her application to BYU’s graduate TESOL program near the end of last semester.  The dead-line was January 15th (which seemed to shift to the 17th).  She went ahead with it, completing the application and taking the entrance tests: the TOEFL and the GRE.  I helped her write an essay, then brain-storm and compose a project proposal (late in December), which was fun for us, since I was still feeling integrated with the subject and department, having just finished my own project as mid-December approached.  (I couldn’t sufficiently complete my paper till after my dead-line, but it was still accepted.  I got a B grade for the course.)  Unfortunately, after a few attempts at the tests, my friend still couldn’t get passing scores, and the test providers took a break over the holy days.  We tried requesting that the admission committee give us some leeway to test again in 2012, even if the scores wouldn’t arrive from the organisation till after the dead-line; meanwhile, we put together as crisp of a proposal as we could.  I was happy with it myself.

She took the test on the 13th; she reported that she thought she’d improved but didn’t know by how much.  If favoured with acceptance, she’ll start in the Fall.  If rejected, she may choose to go back to Korea very soon, or maybe a little later.  There’s a small chance she’ll try to apply again next year.

As for me, I had gotten an e-mail or seen an advertisement from the Japanese English-teacher-placement programme, JET, last year.  Oh, that’s right; they had a booth at the career fair, probably in September or October.  The guy said the dead-line for application was after Thanks-giving Day, so I put it off for a while, looking at it again late in November.  I found out the application was a multi-page stack that was to come in triplicate — in other words, a bit of work.  There was also a criminal check I had to make, requiring fingerprint cards, and other documents.  I didn’t have long; I think the real due date was December 2.  I was held up by my teachers’ tardy recommendation letters, since they were busy too.  I managed to get it done and express-dispatch it to… wherever… Washington D.C., the Japan embassy, with one or two days to spare.  I noticed that several others from my school made the same application; Patrick, a repeated class-mate, who was an intended Hong Kong missionary that was deflected to the U.S.(?), and returned to study Cantonese (and linguistics/TESOL) at BYU; also, my final class’ teacher’s assistant, linguistics graduate student Jason Housley (also a former Japan missionary, and possibly a Japanese undergraduate major; and, married, having applied with his wife, bless their hearts).

One issue I had with the application was my tuberculosis skin test for the health document.  I had a test administered, which was read negatively at the earliest time possible, I think; because of the approaching holy day, Thanks-giving Day, places would be closed till the next week.  Thereafter, the reaction progressed, and I was left to study up and watch its shape, with the fear of being a latent carrier of the disease, though I never had overt symptoms.  I mused whether my “muscle pain” back at BYU had in fact been a symptom, suspecting that my Mongolia trip must have somehow infected me.  I had needed to send my application promptly, anyway, and it was suggested later to just as likely have been a misapplication of the skin test.  For a while, I mourned my eventual demise, and I’ve wanted to get a re-test, but haven’t as yet.

It’s not long now before I get the result of my application.  If accepted, I will leave either in April or July and live somewhere in radioactive Japan for at least a year as a native-speaking assistant of a Japanese English-teacher.  Otherwise, I’ll look for a job in south-east (if not north-east) Asia.  I of course wonder if I’ll meet anybody there; but, it will be a long absence from Myeong-Seon, unless we both end up in Korea soon.  She has been so kind to me… and I feel very fond of and attached to her, whatever happens to us.


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