I went to visit my parents for a week to attend my nephew's high school graduation and to be exploited for free child care. For some reason, the entire week I could not access Blogger. I could access blogspot blogs, but not the "create a new post" homepage. Weird. And frustrating. I did watch a lot of movies though, and I read a few books. It is really disturbing how I cannot remember anything I've read of a book I've read more than five years ago.
Visiting your dysfunctional family, no matter how cute the kids nor how favorite the nephew (people who say they don't have favorite kids lie), is always fraught with tension. I am glad to be back, although I always twinges with filial impiety guilt at the "when are you going to come home again" (not till the winter holidays if I can help it) and "why are you only visiting for so short a time" (to keep my sanity) and the "we miss you" (I miss you too, but not as much as I miss the freedom to come and go as I please and the other life I've built for myself). Maybe because all of these carry the attendant "when are you going to finally be done with school" and "why did you pick a career with such a limited job market that is geographically capricious" (because I never want to live in Orange County, within daily driving distance of my family again) and "why didn't you become a dentist or pharmacist, you could have been working for the past four years." AUGH. All of these are valid questions from your supportive (if dysfunctional) family, but I suspect that no one wants to hear them.
The whole village/enclave model of family that's omnipresent in Vietnam has been somehow replicated in America. There are family businesses, and most of the members of my family work for each other and with each other. My mother, even as she's mildly crippled by arthritis and a bad fall several months back, still cooks food for 2-3 households and she and my father deliver them in tupperwares. It's nice, especially if you're both working parents as my siblings are, but then again you've just given your nosy and judgmental father a key to your house and he, even as he comes bearing food, enters your house willy nilly. There's no such thing as privacy in my family, which is why I so jealously guard my physical privacy (even as I share stuff with you all). Aside from TD, I guard my time and space and make appointments. Even with each other and our standing every night dates, we coordinate schedules and respect each other's space and the professional and personal lives we lead independently of one another. While I sort of miss the informality of the comings and goings of my siblings and how they all see each other and each other's kids without much notice or formality, I'm glad that no one just drops by unnanounced (yes, TD announces himself usually). You know that show "Friends"? In which Joey and Chandler and Phoebe and Ross seem to camp out at Monica and Rachel's apartment and drop by unannounced all the time and eat food? That seems nice to have such a tight circle of friends. It also seems really annoying. But perhaps this is why I appear to have so few local friends and hangout buddies around here such that I can't even tell if I'm going deaf if TD is out of town. Absent my one "anytime" friend (TD), I'm pretty socially isolated. I am improving, however: my sociability watch/index is improving, and I have more regular hangout dates with friends in the area (while they're in the area) than I did before. I have a TV watching buddy, and a flaneur buddy.
Which reminds me, now that I'm back and free to come and go as I please (even if it's not in and out of a friend's apartment, unannounced), I should set up some city walk dates with my architect friend (always fun to be able to ask "what's that?!" to someone who can say "Art Deco details/coffered ceilings") and a Battlestar Galactica date with my TV friend and a power walk date with my other friend (power walk after I drop her off some soup, of course).