overanalysis time!

Thurs. was my day of virtue, i think, though I also shot my mouth off as I swore I wouldn’t! When Rook’s dad was giving long rambling lectures on how to live the good life, and why, and world politics, the secret of happiness… For one thing he could not be further from the good life and the secret of happiness and for another just by interjecting a random meme and acting like he just said it, you can tip his balance to where he’s advocating the exact opposite of what he just said. Or during moments when he was saying something like… oh… “what you have to underSTAND is that, hinduism has very checkered history, of, hindus killing all buddhists. ” “What?? hahaha” “Oh, yes, is very serious! For hindus to be klling buddhists, and, respect for life, hundreds of years, terrible oppression, even today, in the border areas, and the buddhists also fighting, but does not make sense, because they cannot kill according to their religion, and what it MEANS is… ” (someone else: “Oh, that’s interesting. They killed buddhists! hmmm.” “Aaaagh. Dad. I think you mean Moslems.” “Oh. Yes, yes, maybe moslems. Yes, right. Maybe more recent.” Then during the micro-dissection of each child’s personality, out of the blue he declared, “Oh, yes, Nutellanial, probably show signs of MBD.” “What? What’s MBD?” And Jane’s eyes and mine met over the table with an exasperated silent laughter… “Oh, is Marg1nal Bra1n Dysfunction, I think definitely, signs…” At that point I lost it and said “I think that we have people in this very room suffering from BS…” Fortunately passed off with a casual hysterical chuckle from those who noticed it and unnoticed by the BS-er.

I made cranberry sauce which is so easy as to be utterly trivial and yet the matriarchy over-praises embarrassingly, meant to teach me, i think as you would praise a 4 year old for clearing her plate from the table. It’s the years of studied loafing on the couch while the other women did the work, biting me in the ass. (Though usually I was not so healthy, grumpy, in pain, and also kind of in the way.) Now if I do anything helpful they pat me on the head and praise it as a miracle. I am only just now clued-in enough to notice the condescension and gentle correction of womanly consensus.

I didn’t finish the book of K0rean poetry I was reading and now I wish I’d just ‘borrowed” it. I wrote about it over on the ALTAblog. I feel very self-conscious about what I write over there and I hope the site gets some commenters and doesn’t fizzle. Plus, I’m sometimes reallly obnoxious. I mean I just called the (former?) head of k0rean studies at h4rvard a plodding, unimaginative interpreter of poetry. Actually I could say SO much more. His preface about the famous “self-portrait” poem, he translates the last line as “like a sick dog” or something like that and then goes on for 5 pages about the sick dog. And all without giving us a little possibility of cross cultural or localized misunderstanding. From my deep reading of the poem i can see that it might mean all kinds of sick. I don’t have the k0rean word, right? But I can imagine it might be “mangy” dog or maybe it even means stray dog. “Sick dog” sounds like a listless animal or maybe one who has just vomited. And I don’t trust that that is what So Ch0ngyu meant! Maybe, but I’m highly skeptical. Is it lassitude? Nausea? Vagabondage? It’s important! The dude was reading all sorts of french poetry! It was 1941! See, I want to write more on it in a more serious vein but I don’t have the book. And you see my attitude – it is one of intelligent ignorance. Which is a fairly obnoxious stance to take in front of a pack of professional translators who are way more experienced than me.

Oh also I learned a new thing about gravy. I was always good at making it and never had the problems other people have with it. But this time! I was defeated! There were about 3 cups of drippings from the turkey which usually it’s the opposite and one has to soak and scrape the pan. But then the drippings didn’t separate. There was no fat. I didn’t know what to make of this. Was it all broth? I figured yes, and made a roux with butter and a ton of flour; then dumped about half the broth in. But it was NASTY beyond belief. Burned tasting, rancid, floury, and thin, like sour-butter playdough soup. Inedible! More flour? No. Not. I appealed to Karney, Jane’s grumpy, witty husband (I like him best sometimes…) as he is a good cook, smart, and likes good food. He was puzzled… Finally when Aunt In-ha arrived she set it straight. We let it cool and poured off the junk on top. The stuff underneath looked more like the base of something. So!!! I figured it out then. The drippings from the turkey were OIL not proper fat that congeals at room temperature. So I had added oil to butter – no wonder it was disgusting. We skimmed off almost all the oil, added a can of chicken broth, and it was fine. The flour had somewhere to dissolve. Now I have MORE gravy-making expertise. You didn’t know I was this way about cooking, did you? The years of bossing, meddling, and making messes in the kitchen at 21st St. Co-op did not leave me untouched. I used to enjoy showing up 40 minutes before dinnertime when the least experienced cooks were in charge, and set it all right at the moment of highest chaos, which could make the difference between disgusting, late “food” and a nice dinner… it was all about simulteneity and last-minute details.

I had several conversations… Ching-erh and I exchanged annoyed comments that Jane’s two kids weren’t told to shut up enough. This is true, and yet Jane and Karney pay better attention than she does to what is happening. I would wish for them to instill a little more quietness. Then a long conv. with Jane about how everyone is down on her for home-schooling. Really.. if anyone would do a good job home-schooling an extremely bright 6 year old then obviously it is her. “They worry that you are unhappy and somehow martyred or losing yourself.” “But I’m not and it doesn’t seem to occur to them that I enjoy it…” She talked about how miserable she was in school and about the horribleness of Nutellanial’s school system and how they pathologize everything.

Keep in mind this is the kid who is insanely precociously verbal and kicked my ass at chess, eh? He does not read well, maybe cat-hat-mat and writing his name level, but… frankly that is normal level for a 6 year old, so why sweat it when he is so hugely talented in so many other areas? He’s amazingly creative, he has an attractive tendency to over-think, plan, and worry; he’s tall, handsome, athletic, etc. And yet the whole “family conversation” about him except from his own parents (and me) is that he needs a long-bearded solemn team of psychologists, occupational therapists, brain MRI-interpreters, oh and Mi Suegra the head-injury ped1atrician now has a new bug up her ass about him which is that he “Doesn’t pick up on subtle social cues”. When she went into this last night, almost the whole room burst out laughing. Rook was dancing around behind her like a giant monkey, pointing at her head and making faces. The joke is not only that Nutellan is unusually social but that she never, ever pays attention to any sort of “social cue” much less a social one. She broadcasts with her dial set on 11 all the time. Often I do too, but not ALL the time, and I have sensitive receptor organs (with peculiar blind spots). Oh – yeah – and also “Verbal process1ng development dysfunction” or something like that – some jawcracker of a nothing-diagnosis – that’s what she says he has, now. “Mum, you sent me the book about that, and i read it, and he doesn’t have any of the things it talks about.” Why Nutellan’s mom bothered to read it, I have no idea! “Oh, well, Jane, I guess he doesn’t… you’re right.” (???!!!)

It hit me that she is unable to say directly what she wants and why. On some level, she just wants this kid to quiet down and shut up more often, which is a reasonable thing. But she is incapable of saying, “Quiet down because it gives me a headache and the screaming heebie-jeebies to be around screaming children” to the kid, who, if she said it, would instantly comply as best he could. (I tested this on him many times and it worked great.) Instead of saying what bothers her and asking for change, she makes up an entire medical-psychological brain disorder that needs a whole team of specialists to fix this perfectly healthy child.

This bugs me no end! Now that I have figured it out I will tell her this next time she calls. This is the thing! I get sucked in so quickly!

Jane said that Mi Suegra loves N. best and also hates him because he is the most like herself.

Mi Suegra got me going along with her to do some things, carry stuff, etc. and she talked to me about college money for all the grandkids. I am supposed to go look things up about funds and which 5552222999 plan is most reputable. I will try, but I don’t know jack shit about it.

Back to the dinner table:

“Ah, here is important thing. Which one, is going to be doctor. Which one is most likely.” (general nervous laughter of disbelief from around the table) I had the feeling I should duck, and correctly so as my dad in law went on to make me hideously uncomfortable by declaring it to be Moomin. This means that he is approved of, which has the bad feeling of being the Heir Apparent to a mad king; unsafe, unstable, loaded with expectations, and likely to arouse resentment elsewhere. No one took it seriously, but still, there it is. I did not get all of the usual criticisms for my parenting and my life in general. Cousin Zork is short like Moomin, so no one gave me hell about how he is tiny, and malnourished, and should eat X thing, and etc. etc. (And everyone knows Jane is the most conscientious etc. and Nutellan, Zork’s brother, is humonguous, so now it’s obvious it’s genetics and not how I feed Moomin nothing but bananas, chicken nuggets, ice cream, and peanut butter.) I still don’t have a phd and haven’t finished my degree, but this doesn’t bear mentioning anymore as Karney is in year 11 of his dissertation. When he was directly attacked for this, he neatly said, “yes, but what’s your point?” “Well, you want to make money.” “why do i want to be rich? ” Oh, well done, Karney! Dad in law was diverted off into more lecturing about Buddha, the good life, ancient Nestorian Xtianity, corruption in politics and religion, the importance of charity and private capital, etc. It’s unbelievable what bs he can spout and how he can contradict himself in less than a paragraph. Just a complete about face. he doesn’t remember what he is saying from one moment to the next. (I meant to finally take a peek at what “medications” he is on, but I forgot.)

Oh and we talked about how Trudan’s medical care has cost over a million dollars by now. And the success or not of his sc0lllliosis surgery. And how great it is he finally was able to lose the traaaach tube. He is going to have some kind of orthotics. His hearing is not good and might be getting worse. There was a whisper about possible vision problems. He will start public kindergarten next year. He can be very sweet but I can also see he is a little bit spoiled and full of resentment and sadness when other kids ignore him or when he can’t keep up.

Actually I agree with mi suegra that his dad does not know how to challenge him intellectually, developmentally, etc. in an ideal perfect way, but give him a break, for god’s sake, he has full-time managed his care and suctioned his neck tube every 20 minutes for 5 years and probably spends 2 hours a day on the phone with doctors, nurses, insurance, doctor appts. and various therapies all the times. He has devoted his life to Trudan’s well-being. He can be annoyingly slow and anal, but if he weren’t, Trudan would probably be dead. So he’s not the brightest bulb on the planet and is a little bit boring, so what? He is a great parent and Rook’s parents should lay off him.

The criticisms of Karney and of Trudan’s dad and the non-criticism of me, it was enough to make me want to leap on the table and Confess Everything.

Oh the other thing that was weird as fuck was whatever Mi Suegra was projecting on Lollipop. She kept saying that Lollipop looked uncannily like her great-grandmother, Mi Suegra’s own mother. Who (as random confidences revealed) was a librium/valium/barbiturate-popping space-head (which I didnt’ know) as well as an annoying horrible xtian fundamentalist (which I did know) and who would just agree with whatever her husband said. (I suddenly realized from how she talked about it that there must have been some level of abusivness from the dad and the mom didn’t stop it or disagree.) And she kept saying that Lollipop was “so sensual” and talking about her like she was this sort of evil sexual siren. Keep in mind that Lollipop is a grubby, sturdy, jolly, roly-poly toddler not-quite-two, a little whiny, yet tough as nails and immune to pain like a rugby player, with her finger perpetually up her nose and a passionate love of Dora the Exploder. When Mi Suegra would go off about the Sensualness, Sexiness, and how Lollipop is fated somehow to end up taking a lot of prescription painkillers, everyone would laugh uncomfortably and say obstinate, tenative things to contradict. After days of this I get punchy and started saying, “Well, good thing she has a gender revolutionary for an aunt, to save her from that fate.” or just “That’s really fucked up, Mi Suegra.” (short, sweet, to the point.) It went WAY beyond the usual nauseating sort of comment from people about little girls like “Oh, she’s so beautiful, she’s going to break some hearts, the boys will be standing in line for her, she’s going to be such a handful when she’s a teenager”. When people say that I always want to kick their asses right up out through their throats. WTF! What my mom-in-law was saying was about a million times noticably weirder than that.

I thought of being nice to my dad-in-law by asking him to tell me about his writing project, etc. or discussing K0rean poetry with him, but i could not quite deal with him. I even avoided the long slideshow of his trip to the northern village on the Manchur1an border.

During the long Family Discussion last night around the table I injected some memes on purpose, like “Nutellanial shows great leadership.” That one got firmly into my dad-in-law: his teeth are fixed bulldog-like into the neck of it, and now he is going around spouting theories of how Nutellanial’s Leadership Qualities can be cultivated and encouraged. Way less annoying than “Marg1nal Brain Disorder”. Jesus fucking christ! They are so insane!

I could boil my memes down to this: Nutellan, Brillilant Leadership, Great General. Zork: Run silent, run deep; mad scientist. Lollipop: Best All Around, smart, confident, outgoing. Truedan: sensitive, empathetic, brave and determined. Moomin: Scholar and Dreamer. It is of course dumb how people do this to small children, but it can’t be helped and if they’re going to do it, it should be done positively with maximum flexibility and scope for expansion.

(Meanwhile – future holidays look rosier, since both Zork and Nutellan will be able to play complex strategy games! They’re into it, they’re good at it, it keeps them quiet, and it entertains me (and, I hope, Moomin and Rook. but Moomin does not get Into it that particular competitive analytical way. Both Nut and Zork love to get analytical; they take pleasure in things like chess or logic the same way I do. I am sure that Jo will let me know which ENTJ type of Thing that is. ))

So though Rook was aware of some of this, he was withdrawn enough that it passed over (under) his head. He did not realize the depth to which I just aligned myself with Jane, furthering my un-alignment with Mi Suegra and totally taking sides against Ching-erh. The women of the family might as well have drawn a line in the dust, got on either side, and spit across the line while dancing around flipping each other off with both hands. In years past, I have either held a little aloof or if anything, been somewhat dazzled by the forcefulness of Mi Suegra, who can be extremely blunt, amusing, and insightful. So this whole Thing happened. You could write a whole novel about it.

That was only the dorsal fin of the lurking complex ferocious weirdness of that family.

I’m glad we live all the way across the country…

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