As per a suggestion by Kaiori, this post is brought to you via MS Voice Recognition software en lieu of my usually finger-typed posts.
“Well,” said SiB, “it could be worse. Would you rather have a boring life?”
Sometimes… I wonder.
In the past little while, things have been been just choke full of events. Life changing events.
On monday, I beagn moving to my new apartment. The place was filthy– the previous tennants, Quynh and Ly, were so bad at cleaning up after themselves and their husky that when I opened the door to my new bedroom tumbleweed made of little interwoven katamaris of dog hair blew across the room. I shuddered. Then I spent a couple of hours vacuming, dusting and just in general sanitizing the place.
When I’m at my house back in LaSalle, there are little things that come automatically to me. My brain knows how many steps there are on the stairs so I can go up or down in pitch blackness, get to the washroom, hold out my hand just where the doorknob will be. At my new place, sometimes I wake up to the unfamiliar ceiling and in my daze think I’m in a hotel.
The move changes a lot of things in the family dynamic, or, it comes at at time when a lot of things are going wrong. With the help of Nimbus and her mom, who own a trailer, I got the last of my necessary furniture moved on the 1st, Canada Day. Because I was moving I didn’t get the chance to spend the day with my family, so they went ahead and did something on their own. My sister was in town from Toronto temporarily for a job interview, so my family and my grandparents were going to go out for a meal.
But something happened, and I don’t know exactly how or why, because everyone’s giving me different storise that are too crosshatched with anger and shame that I’m not getting a complete story anywhere. My mom got into this epic fight with [Aunt SH] and the basic result is that, after 26 years of my life, their relationship has come down to “We’re done. I don’t want to talk to you anymore.”
My dad also got into a huge fight with [Aunt SL] last week, one that got so out of hand that he slammed the phone down on her. I think I mentioned this in a previous post, and decided I didn’t want to talk about it.
I don’t mention this just to gripe… but the fact is, for some reason my family is undergoing this huge shakedown. It’s happening right in front of me, right beside me, or behind me– and there’s nothing that I feel I can do about it.
Are these changes for the better?
I don’t know.
Instinctively I feel that family is family and that it should last, no matter what. But over the years I have come to understand that there’s a difference between doing somethign out of love and something out of duty. In chinese families it seems that the two are often confused. I’ve also been reminded time and time again that you can’t change people unless they want to change, and that the best you can do is to encourage it by leaving doors open for them.
Deep down, in the back of my head, and I know that this is unreasonable, but
perhaps what’s going on nowadays has been my influence on the family?
I have a mixed reputation in the family. I’m sort of the black sheep, and yet, the one who turned out okay. Among all my cousins and even my sister, nobody in the family has gotten into more trouble than me for crime against the family, and just generally, being a bad person. I think I was the one who first highlighted that there was a difference between love and duty. I did a lot of thigns because I felt that they were expected of me, but I seldom did them because I wanted to.
But that wasn’t, nor is it, always the case. I mean, I can say that after those rebellious years, I actually came to love my family again, in the same way that I did before the rebellion during the simpler times of my poor but spoiled childhood.
It’s after the rebellion during my college years that I started acting a bit more responsibly and getting my shit together, finishing college, and then univeristy, and taking more care of family affairs.
But I think the idea that I brought to the family during my college indescritions was that “I’m doing this because you’re telling me to, not because I want to.” Or, “I’m doing this just because you’re my parents, and I owe you, and no other reason.”
Those were among some of the hurtful things that I told my folks back when I was younger.
These ideas aren’t necessarily wrong– but they’re the kind of ideas you’d use in a workplace, or at a business, where everyone is expendable and the relationships you have are based on work function. That’s not the way to deal with family, I think.
But I think that now, some of those ideas stuck.
Because now, the network of Aunts and Uncles and my parents are just starting to openly hate on eachother. It’s like an office, with all the politics, the power plays, the wheeling and dealing. Not a funcional, well run office– but one rife with dissent and suspicion. People are starting to take stabs at eachother on subjects that normally everyone would just ignore to keep the peace.
Is this good? I mean, it’s more honest, it’s more transparent I suppose… but is it a step up? That, I’m not sure of.
The thing is, honesty isn’t an ideal– it’s a method. You can be honest or dishonest with the goal of getting to a certain goal.
Right now, my family and the exteneded family are being more honest with eachother than they’ve ever been– that in itself isn’t bad. What is bad though is that the ideals for which they’re operating have nothing to do with the unity of the family.
Somehow, family life seemed to suddenly explode– I’m not on bad terms with anyone in the family, and in fact, I’m on better terms with everyone than ever before in the past, but after my grandfather’s last hospitalization everyone’s just been at eachothers’ throats. I don’t know how things used to stay in check. But now…
… it just hurts for me to see it like this. I can’t elaborate anymore on it than that, and I don’t think I need to. It just hurts.
Now that I live in NDG and not LaSalle, I’m a 12 minute bicycle ride away from work and 30 minutes away from the furthest end of downtown Montreal.
A couple of days ago I asked out a girl who I’ve known for years. I can’t exactly put my finger on what changed that would make me do so, because it’s a number of things, but I guess it’s just that wheras she was just always there, sorta an acquaintance, she’s started hanging out with my group more often ever since I came back from Korea and that just was the way it began. I never looked at her ‘this way’ before in the past but I guess who she became and who I became during the year away from Canada changed something about the way I see all that.
There’s always this rule in circles of friends that you don’t date friends, nor do you try, because that kinda stuff gets complicated real fast. I’m aware of that ‘rule’ and I beleive in it. For a time I just ignored that I had feelings for her, telling myself that this would lead to trouble and that I should just pretend nothing was going on in my head. The feeling would pass.
It didn’t. I don’t like being out of control in my life, but this was out of my control. At some point it was just getting unbearable so I decided that, for better or worse, I had to know if she was interested in any way.
Fate, though, seemed totally against me asking her out.
The first attempt was just a random visit to her workplace on a whim. Turns out she wasn’t there, so it was taken out of my hands completely. The next time I intended to ask, we went to see a movie together, but one of her best friends came along, which wasn’t part of the plan, and I couldn’t find an appropriate moment.
You have to understand that in my head, this isn’t normally difficult. I don’t have trouble asking out a girl I’m interested in normally. I don’t ask out random people, I just can’t do it like that, that’s not my personality. But she’s not a random person. And normally, if I’m interested in someone, I don’t have problems asking someone out on a date.
All this difficulty and all this buildup? It is a first. I have my theories why. Part of it is because of this whole thing where we kinda but not really have known eachother for a long time. Part of it is because of who she is, and by that, I mean all that good stuff and bad stuff that I want to know better. There are other reasons, but suffice it to say that it was really difficult, titanically so, for me to get the nerve to ask her out. So whenever I had set it upon myself to ask, and the situation didn’t allow for it, it was like taking a punch in the face. It’s like in a Street Fighter game where you spend all this time building up your super meter, and then when you finally fire it off, something goes wrong and it’s totally wasted.
Well, that’s what it felt like. Everytime I gathered that much rage, frustration or courage within me, all that energy, and I tried to channel it into “How’d you like to go on a date with me?” somehow, the situation was such that I couldn’t do it. It felt like I was getting cockblocked by God, who was telling me “don’t try to date friends.”
I really felt that it was something that should be done face to face but then, on Canada day, late at night after I’d finished moving, I was out at the Montreal Jazz Festival having a good time by myself. It’s one thing that I enjoy– I like being in a crowd of people, just basically getting lost and wandering around. It makes me feel more alive, and the music certainlly helps.
I figured at that point, I was in such a good mood– if I was ever going to get rejected, no time like now to endure the hit, right? Let me give her a call.
“The person you are trying to reach is unavailable,” said the carrier operator; her phnoe was turned off, or she was out of reception range.
I was just… dumbfounded. Total disbeleif at my luck. My super meter was at zero again.
Meanwhile, and I didn’t know this was going on until my parents explained it today, my mom and aunt had been fighting at my grandparents for a fair stretch of time. My sister had even started crying.
My sister’s no pushover– but like anyone else, part of her ultimate strength is that she’s human. She’s a lot closer to my mother than I am, and she’s also really close to my [Aunt SH], and for her to see the two of them telling eachother off? I guess it was just too much.
I’m really protective of my younger sister in some ways. I don’t interfere with her life or anything but I try my best to be a good older brother and not just an older bother. But it’s an impossible situation when the source of my sister’s pain is my family, because I can’t change my family. Not for her, not for myself even.
Eventually, I just picked a random moment the day after Canada day to just call her up and ask her out. It was kinda an overcast moment outside as I stepped out of the hospital in my scrubs during my dinner break. I didn’t really have a plan about how to ask, so I figured I’d just say the first thing that came to my mind. How’d you like to go out on a date with me.
Are you serious? was the reply. No. YES! I’m serious.
“can I call you back?”
And that’s where I’m at now. Trying to pretend that I can get on with the rest of my life, but really, with an idle moment, I check my phone to see if I’ve missed any calls.
At work last week, there was a lady who had some kids. She was a total bitch to me, but I got the job done, and I got it done really fast. It turned out her kid had nothing serious.
And you know what? She thanked me. I thought that when she was lined up behind some other parents that she was going to start bitching at me again, but instead, she actually said
“Thank you. Thank you so much. You were awesome, you were efficient. Thanks for all your help, I really appreciate that you put up with all this bullshit all day.”
People sometimes say thank you, mind you. But it’s never been someone who was making my life miserable and turned around. She didn’t have to say thank you, is my point. It felt good to hear that she had.
The longest relationship I’ve had in a long while was about six months, and after that, I was in Korea and was dating on and off. I never really let anything serious happen because on some level I guess I wasn’t willing to commit to a country that I wasn’t sure I’d be staying in or not.
It was kind of easy out there– I knew I was probably leaving, they knew I was probably leaving, we could just have fun.
The fact of the matter is though that those relationships, however sweet they were by lakesides, sunsets, sunrises or over a galbi grill a cold winter evening with soju stains on the tables and on our lips, they’ve been reduced to random emails just for the sake up upkeep. Sometimes I send them, sometimes they do, just to say “Hello, remember me? How’s it going?” during a coincident moment of boredom and initiative.
But I don’t need those people any more. The distance makes it easy to pretend that everyone I knew in Korea was just a chapter in a book that I may have written but which, finally, is just that– history. Mystory. Half commited flings and shits and giggles. Very real emotions– but no intended permanence, despite their intensity.
Now this is Montreal 2.0 and that’s what I want.
With family falling apart, with all the friends I made in the last year more distant than ever, I just want to make something that will last.