The Lord Helps Those Who Help Themselves (to Other People’s Money)

A mind is a terrible thing to lose.

Thus spake Dan Quayle.

My wife announced yesterday that she plans to give ten thousand dollars to her church.  Once the numbness that filled my ears passed, I suggested she might not want to do that.  She said it was money she’d earned herself from teaching kids.  Although I didn’t exactly congratulate her on her decision, I realized it was useless to attempt to dissuade her and didn’t even bother.  She’s too far gone.  It’s a good thing we don’t have kids or they’d probably starve to death.

She also asked me if I wanted to apply for another teaching job once a week in Incheon.  As it takes about an hour to get there and I’m already doing a shitload of commuting, I said no.  I was also feeling logy as a side effect from the saw palmetto I’m taking, since it appears to reactivate my Lyme disease symptoms.  To quote my brother, my body becomes “a network of sheer pain.”  Not much fun.  The only problem is that if I don’t take the saw palmetto I have to go to the bathroom a lot more often.  Maybe the solution is to cut out coffee.  Unfortunately, both my job and my marriage are so boring that if I did that, I’d have to do everything in my sleep.  Caffeine provides me with an illusory will to live, even though it also irritates the urinary sphincter muscle traumatized during a visit to a bayonet-fingered urologist many years ago, at least according to another, more benign doctor I saw to address the condition after the initial wound had been inflicted.

Caffeine likewise can compound the Lyme symptoms, which include joint aches and soul-weakening fatigue.

Jina is unsympathetic about my health problems, fancying me a whiner.  She also thinks I can overcome them through the power of prayer.  I don’t swing that way, not that I haven’t tried it as an experiment in futility.  Prayer always feels silly to me, not to mention undignified.  It is the atheistic Ahab who threatens the lives of his crew in Moby Dick (one of the sailors–Stubb, I believe–says “I’ve never seen him kneel”), but as far as I’m concerned the church my wife knows and loves is a racket.  The problems of the world need solving, not ignorant flight into magical thinking and babyish reliance on an imaginary superdaddy (who’s both a badass and a sugar daddy by turns).  This kind of passive reliance on God is about as effective a solution to the crises that will soon face us all as lodging one’s head up one’s ass.

I once saw a Korean teenage boy wearing a T-shirt that read Jesus Loves Even Me.  My first response was to laugh (though not in his face), then shake my head at what a pathetic statement he was making.  He either suffered from infernally low self-esteem or else had a neurotic overestimation of the value of his own “sins.”  He looked like a harmless kid to me, not a goddamned serial killer.  Maybe his pastor had planted the fear of God in his heart by telling him that burping the worm while perusing salacious images and passionately mechanical scenes of people having sex would land him in the fieriest regions of hell.

Another time, in some other city–I forget which, although I think it was London–a woman came up to me and said, “Jesus loves you.”  As well-intentioned as I’m sure her words were, I had to disagree.

I’ve got news for you:  Jesus doesn’t love anybody.  It’s not his fault, though.  After all, it’s hard to love people when you’re dead.  That’s a trick no one can pull off.  Not that you can’t love dead people–just not carnally.  That’s against the law.

I had a dream earlier this morning that took place in a convenience store in which I was complaining to my late English professor about Lyme disease.  I asked him if he’d ever suffered from an autoimmune disorder.  He nodded and said, “I’m going to wait outside, okay?”  Out the window I could see a lovely blue sky and green grass and I gave him my blessing.

When I woke up and mulled over what the dream meant, at first I thought it was a harbinger of my own approaching death.  The saw palmetto does jack up my heart rate, and in an earlier dream I could hear the ticking of a stopwatch that was probably inspired by my actual accelerated heartbeat.  Maybe if I could get up and do a dance in my sleep I could shed some pounds and solve the problem that way.  (My wife thinks I may have developed type 2 diabetes, which is possible as I have become more blob-like than before.  Since the yellow dust-infested air makes outdoor exercise a non-option, I guess I’ll have to either join a gym or take up swimming in a local pool.)

But then it occurred to me that Professor Kirk, who was a literary medicine man with Native American blood, was reminding me not to be like the eponymous character in Joseph Conrad’s The ‘Nigger’ of the Narcissus who tries to stage a mutiny and sees himself as a victim.  

Mr. Kirk also taught a lesson on W.B. Yeats’ “Lapis Lazuli,” in which he pointed out the appropriateness of the lines about how Hamlet and Lear “do not break up their lines to weep/If worthy their prominent part in the play.”  

I’ve been trapped in a vicious cycle for awhile now.  I do love my wife when she’s not being a shrieking harpy.  Last night I said I was sick of living in Korea and teaching Korean students (in fact, I have one class I really enjoy teaching, and one good private student, but my third class is a bunch of robotic vegetables.  Their level is low and they’re only studying English because the company’s forcing them to.  Admittedly, the class does take place at eight in the morning, and I’m hardly a morning person myself.  But when I ask, “How are you?” and no one even returns eye contact, I wonder what we’re all doing there.  The whole world is going to hell and nobody cares.  I’m also not sure how much use the world is going to have for teachers of English as a foreign or a second language in the not too distant future.  One company I work for has three times as many Chinese teachers as English teachers.  Maybe if China takes over the world, they can start to undo some of the damage my country has done; considering how rapidly they’re contaminating their own land, that’s about as unlikely as the Second Coming of Christ).

Whenever I tell Jina I want to leave, it results in a huge emotional meltdown on her part–usually manifested as rage–and her threatening behavior helps keep me in check.

If you’re single and planning on getting married, go for it if you’re in love.  But do yourself a favor and never marry a bully.

You’d be better off dead.

And that’s what I’m going to be soon, God willing.


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