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Move along. Nothing to see here.

I've been sort of AWOL ever since Thanksgiving but not for any one particular reason. The holiday went pretty well with everyone trucking over to Connie and Jeff's place for Thanksgiving. It's become the new tradition the past couple of years and is a clash of East meets West. As I was telling some people there, it takes a special sort of person to marry into an ethnic family. My uncle James married a Jewish woman after being widowed, and I was using her as an example of someone I thought went above and beyond.

Just think about it for a moment. How would you feel marrying into a family where almost all the older members speak another language primarily, especially among themselves? They might have a grasp of English and be able to converse in it, but you'll never really be able to do more than discuss basic things. Add to it that your kids will grow up picking up that second language, meaning that they're sort of inducted into the club while you'll always, at least linguistically, be on the outside. Add to it the general paranoia that whenever everyone's speaking the other language they're secretly talking about you (And they are. Trust me.) along with cultural differences across the spectrum, and I can't help but think you must be insane to want to marry into something like that. It's one thing if your potential mate is pretty detached from their family and you only have to see the in-laws a couple times a year at holidays, but imagine if it's several times a week.

So as I was sketching out the fact that it seems kinda awkward all around, I was using Uncle James' wife, Kaila, as an example of someone who went above and beyond in a situation where I feel most people wouldn't even want to get into in the first place. She not only married into a Chinese family, but managed to pick up two step kids, both of whom were already tweens by then. She not only took them in as her own, but went beyond what many biological parents would have done. Gene, the older one, has Asperger's with all the baggage that entails. Kaila always made sure to follow up on his school work, even going so far as to keep track of how his classes went in college and finding someone to take notes for him during classes. Without her hands on involvement, it's more than likely Gene would have crashed and burned, left to his own devices. And before you think this was just a byproduct of some helicopter parent syndrome, it wasn't necessary at all for his younger brother Raymond who breezed through things easy as pie and is now in med school. Gene simply needed someone to follow up with him and ride his ass when necessary.

And so, Thanksgiving was just another example of someone else who had chosen to ride down the sometimes rough rapids of cultural integration. I find it funny because the integration is still a little choppy as is easily apparent. The Thanksgiving day meal is really two meals in one. One is the traditional American Thanksgiving day feast with turkey and stuffing and potatoes and all the other goodies people are used to. Then in the other room is another feast altogether featuring Chinese hotpot with 3 different times of broths and a cornucopia of sliced meats and seafoods and vegetables. People begin the meals in their respective segregated corners and then there is some mixing and sampling as you have a second dinner after your first. It's an odd sort of situation no matter how you slice it. Sometimes I feel like I'm in the middle of some sort of weird version of ethnic Jim Crow, which only starts to thaw at the edges.

I hadn't actually meant to write about any of this but somehow managed to digress my way here. What I had planned to say was that not much really interesting had been going on lately and I've been AWOL for a number of reasons. Normally at this time of year, I'd be scoping out all the Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals and thinking about what new doodad I just had to buy. This year was odd in that not only did I not need anything, but I didn't want anything either. I pretty much have everything I really need right now, which is sort of a new experience. It's not like there aren't all sorts of new techy toys out there like tablets and smartphones and God only knows what else, but I just don't want any of it. I know that even if I had one, I'm not sure I would even use it. I'm pretty content with what I do have right now, which is sort of refreshing even if I think it may just go against everything America stands for.

I've been spending the past week or so listening to a ton of audiobooks. That's probably the main reason I'm not around all that much. I've mentioned it before but I'm one of those people who absolutely cannot think while I'm listening to something. I've never understood how people could actually study while listening to music. I tried it as a kid because pop culture and my classmates all intimated that that was the say studying should be done, in your room on the bed with the music playing. It just never worked for me. I could only concentrate on one or the other. If I heard the lyrics to the music, I couldn't read and retain anything in my textbook. If I was reading the textbook and comprehending it, then I would have to block out the music in my head.

Really, it's even worse for audiobooks. There's no way I can write in LJ or even read articles online when an audiobook is playing. I end up having to pause it and then start it back up when I'm done. If I do try to do both at once I find myself writing near gibberish in spits and spurts as well as not remembering what the hell just happened in the past chapter. I'm just about done with the current batch of audiobooks I wanted to work my way through though, so I'll probably take a break after that. I tend to run through entire authors until the well runs dry and this one is just about tapped. That means I'll probably be around a bit more until the next book rush hits.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
socarefully
Dec. 4th, 2011 02:05 pm (UTC)
'How would you feel marrying into a family where almost all the older members speak another language primarily, especially among themselves? They might have a grasp of English and be able to converse in it, but you'll never really be able to do more than discuss basic things.'

I dated someone for many years and it was like this....It did not really bother me much. Dating someone from another culture can be really interesting.
henwy
Dec. 6th, 2011 11:24 pm (UTC)
How much time did you spend with their family though? My mom is over at Connie's every weekday and usually my grandmother and uncle with her at least part of the time. I can't imagine that wouldn't feel strange being in the language minority the entire time.
socarefully
Dec. 7th, 2011 11:07 am (UTC)
'How much time did you spend with their family though?'

Too much time!

Personally I like it if the family do not speak a language I know...It means I do not have to talk to them. Although...I have spent a lot of time living in countries where I do not speak the language at all.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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