by Jinryu

I just finished having breakfast of spaghetti in tomato sauce with chinese meatballs and fishballs at my grandparents house.

It isn’t my idea of ideal to be awake at 11:30AM, especially not after finally falling asleep at 3AM, or having been woken up by a telephone call at 8AM then going back to sleep only to be awoken again at 10AM by a call from my grandfather because his satelite television just konked out, but hey, what can you do.

My grandfather’s neighbor is having their roofing redone and he suspects, that while those guys are up there they’ve accidentally kicked a cable or something.

“Those damned Italians,” says my grandad, practically spitting in Chinese, “they might not have a job, they might not have anything to eat, but do they ever have magnificent houses. They live in fucking castles, and they build them out of boxes!”

It’s the first time that I visit them in quite a while actually.  I’m not really too happy with my boss about that– normally I work every second weekend (that’s what my contract states) but someone needed to switch shifts so i agreed to do three weekends in a row.  Surprise surprise, I gave her an inch and next thing I knew, I was scheduled for a 7-saturdays-in-a-row mile.  Saturdays and sundays are usually my “hometown” time;  I usually play badminton at RsM on saturday; on one out of two of the evenings, I’ll have dinner out with my parents; on the other of the two evenings, I’ll go to visit my grandparents’ for dinner and to take their blood pressure statistics; and on one out of the two lunchhours, I’ll get my parents and my grandparents to go out for dim sum.

I’m not so much the middleman as I am the winch, because a middleman would imply that one party needed something that the other had.  Neither my parents nor my grandparents get along particularly well and they would find no reasons to hang out together aside from the official huge holiday-related family gatherings– but you know me, I guess I like to stir trouble, or something, because for some reason I insist that we meet and have food together and pretend that we’re all a big happy family.

I think that of all places, my life as part of this family has in large part been related to food.  Consider the vocabulary I have in Chinese– it mostly has to do with food.  I couldn’t discuss politics or poetry, but we could talk abotu where to buy the vegetables and which rat bastard  was selling older tofu with restamped expiration dates.  Everyone in my grandfather’s generation and everyone in my dad’s generation worked in restaurants.

I never worked in restaurants, but that didn’t mean that as a child growing up being raised half by my grandparents and half by my parents that a lot of my childhood didn’t revolve around the kitchen and what came out of it.  We didn’t always have money to cook good things to eat, but I do remember that when I was in elementary school, my grandad would come to pick me up at the bus stop, flick away his cigarette, and take me to his place.  I had my own little table, just for me, a few feet  in front of the television where I’d pop in a cassette of The Temple of Doom, Peter Pan, Three Little Dragons or Short Circuit 2 (which were the only movies we had, since we had no cable) and I’d watch while eating a bowl of instant noodles with hotdogs and eggs in it.  I loved those instant noodles.

And as we came to be more financially stable, the meals got better of course– we almost never eat instant noodles anymore, except when we’re lazy– and things got tastier.  That was until my grandparents started having health problems– then we started cutting out the sodium and the cholesterol, so things just started getting less tasty.

I’ve had some sort of stomach flu, maybe gastroenteritis, since tuesday.  I’ve been fighting it hard since then while still going to work and making sure I don’t infect anyone with whatever it is that I’ve got, but I must say my energy levels are pretty low because I haven’t been holding down food very well these past few days.  And there are other symptoms that are annoying.

This morning’s spaghetti though was just right.  Maybe I’m getting over this thing, or maybe it’s that the food is just the right blandness that my stomach can take it, but it’s working out all right, and I hope to get some rest before Numac tonight.