Without a paddle

by Jinryu

My dad has a strange way of doing things when he’s angry.  He doesn’t really address the issue of his anger– he just takes stabs at people for whatever openings he can find.  Today, I’m not sure what it was he was pissed about, but my mom wanted to frame her diploma.  She’s got one for her bachelors and one for her masters in nursing, but the later hadn’t yet been framed.  She just bought one this afternoon so it was on the agenda to take care of that.

I on the other hand have had my univeristy diploma lying around in a plastic protection casing since I came back from Korea (I needed to bring it with me while it was out there for employment reasons) and I haven’t taken the time to frame it.  Actually, I hadn’t framed it ever since I’d graduated.

Randomly, my dad threw it out there while talking to my mom: “That guy doesn’t treasure anything.”  He said it in that disgusted “good for nothing son” kinda way that I’d gotten really good at being the duck watching water roll of his back, but on some level it hurts on the inside.  Not beceause of the effect it has on me personally– because I chose not to let that bother me– but because it reflects a poverty in the relationship I have with my dad.  Because he has no idea what I treasure.  And, worse, that I would probably never be in a state of communication with him where I’d really tell him.  You can tell me about how great you get along with your parents, but for me, getting along just means not rocking the boat.

I’ve gotten in the habit that when my dad says stuff, I don’t react outwardly for at least a half hour.  It’s just good practice.  He’ll often say things because he’s pissed about something or because he specifically wants to piss me off, but the thing is, I’ve found that confronting him about it doesn’t solve anything.  The truth of the matter is that not everyone operates in an argument because they want to win, or because they have a point to proove; some people just get into an argument because they want to fight and blow off steam.  Some people turn to meditation, some people pick up an instrument, some people write, some people play some sports– my dad initiates bitchfests.

But I don’t react to them because whenever I do, I end up feeling really guilty about calling him on his bullshit.  It’d be if I was playing the guitar just to sorta relax and them someone came over, grabbed the ‘tar and then axed it against the pavement, and walked away.  Sure, I might’ve been playing badly, or I might’ve been being really really repetitive, but it doesn’t change the fact that to me, it’s theraputic.

Arguably, some methods of releasing pent up energy are better than others, but to each, their own, right?

I think I get annoyed with my dad a lot though because of his way, and the way that his way to me feels not like a dispersal of diffusion of energy but more of a transference.  He actually does get into a better mood after just shitting all over things, but the problem is that it puts me in a bad mood because he often says things that he has no right to say.

I guess I would challenge him on it more often, but if there’s one thing I learned from dad, it’s that you don’t talk about anything important, just deal with the symptoms.

So we get into fights about the stupidest things.  We go through the movements of it all, because that’s the kind of communication he and I have.  And that’s part of being in my family.

The subject of moving out came up recently and my dad’s reaction to the situation was the same– he had nothing to say about the plan itself.  Instead, he just did it the way he always did.  He critisized me for being like “white people,” and he critisized white people for being so eager to move out and do stupid things as if it made them independant.

It’s all deflection, really– and what am I to say to stuff like that?

At the end of the day, what makes me kinda sad is that when we don’t want to play house, when we decide that we don’t want to go through the efforts of asking about eachothers’ day and having conversations about sports or training or whatever, my dad and I fundamentally don’t get along.  I just figure, it should be easy to get along with someone, shouldn’t it?  But it feels like I have to put in so much effort to tiptoe around things that he doesn’t like to talk about, or tiptoe around being who I am in certain ways around him because it just leads to more bitchfests.

Is this mendacious? Maybe.  I’d like to think that my role as a son in this family is one big white lie in the sense that I will bend backwards for my family– but I can’t change who I am at my very core, nor can I change my dad.  We can just get out of eachothers’ ways and avoid unnecessary collateral damage whenever possible.  We can pick our fights better.

I think ultimately, this is what moving out is all about for me.  It’s putting me in a situation where I can meet them to have fun but without the close quarters that would breed comtempt.

I think after living on my own abroad, I’d gotten way used to the maneuverability of living entirely on my own.