Don’t Grow Up

by Jinryu

This is being typed on my VOX because I forgot my USB, so don’t mind me if there are more than a few typos.
I was talking to Kaioiri earlier and it occured to me that a lot of the comprehensibility, the tone, and subject matter of my posts varies with the time of day that I begin writing it, as well as how much sleep I have backing me up.  So, from now on, whenever I remember I’ll include a timestamp of the original writing (since a lot of times, I write things, save them on USB, and then post them later when I get to a terminal with Internet) and a snap judgement of my sleep condition.
Time: 3:15AM at the time of this sentence.
Sleep Condition: 50% of my internal batteries remaining.  Note that when I reach 5%, I’m dozing off repeatedly, and if I reach zero, I’m actually unconscious.  From experience though I can actually get within the 5-10% range and feel wickedly sleepy and then suddenly get some sorta second wind that gives me a strong, longer lasting 25%.

Some little girl, while at pre-triage, threw up blood on my desk tonight.  I was not pleased.

I hear this whole “asian parents” thing all the time. But this post has nothing to do with their kids being whipped into candidacy shape for careers in medicine, accounting or engineering, nor all those hours with carpal tunnel from the piano or violin with the best hopes that you’ll trump the Lees’ or the Nguyens’ doctor/accountant/engineer child with a bona fide prodigy.
I’m more wondering how they handle family communication, and if asians have some sorta monopoly on dysfunction in this regard.  Because, while my family sure has it’s share of people who are in the medical field or are gear monkeys, what about the stuff that we’re not famous for?  I’m talking about the very tradition of communication within Asian families.

But lets not generalize.  I mean,how can I really know, not having lived amidst any family except my own?

There are two loose definitions of family in the blood sense: one means my actual household, entailing the physical people who live in my place of resiedence; the other entails the household plus the extended family, meaning uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins, etc.  In this case, I’m thinking about the latter.
And man, is it dysfunctional.  Maybe that’s what everyone thinks of their family though?

In the background is a nurse talking about how she used to work in Fresno, Cali.  The hospital there had a pediatric trauma unit that had a helicopter pad.  While transferring a child from the hospital stretcher to the hospital’s gurney, she accidentally put her thumbs in a couple the child’s multiple stab wounds.
“It was disgusting.  But it was definitely a cool place to work.”

Good news: My grandfather is getting discharged from the Montreal General tomorrow.  The main difference with life now for him is that he’s going to have to be on oxygen most of the time, because his lungs aren’t strong enough and his saturation level keeps on dropping below the 90 mark.  Most people have a sat rating of 95 to 100, and though it’s only about a 10 point difference, anything below 85 is not great, and by the time you hit 60, it’s not like university exams: you’re probably on your way to the Gates.
So, arrangements are being made.  How does he get home? Who’s going to be at his house to receive the oxygen tanks?  How will he get up stairs?  Do we rent a MediCar to transport him for a fee, or can we borrow a tank from the hospital and return it soon after?  Questions, all valid, require solutions.
Enter, the family.

I have an aunt, [Lan], who just isn’t good with stress.  Actually, come to think of it, nobody in my family is good with stress except my sister, myself, my uncle Kam and my mom.  Everyone else cracks under pressure and loses sight of the ball really easily.  They have different reactions.  Some of them get really angry and start calling other people names.  Others pout and start becoming increasingly silent and stubborn, trying to kill inanimate objects with their death glare since they will not look you in the eyes directly.  Others, others just cry.

Aunt [Lan] and my dad are sister and brother, but since Aunt [Lan]’s retirement she just hasn’t been all that sharp.  She’s not old, mind you– she retired early because she’s done very well for herself financilly with my Uncle [L].  Both of them, but in particular my Uncle [L],  are very astute and disciplined investors, and started teaching me everything from checkbooks to loans ever since I got my first job.

But Aunt [Lan] is simply a fussy, over worrying little lady.  She fusses over everything, and it’s maddening.
My Dad, who is the guy who used to do his marathon training in rainy conditions even though the cold causes arthritic pain in his wrist because he broke it a couple of years back, don’t take shit for anyone.  He used to always say, with his slight Cantonese accent, “get your axe together,” and although he meant “get your act together”  I think that it’s a telling example of the gung ho, results-oriented personality that he has.  He’s probably got an OCD also, and it’s something that we’re constantly crossing swords over.
Well, this isn’t anything new that my dad, or lets say, my household in general don’t get along with my aunts– frankly, it’s because they’re of weak constitution and they lack a certain amount of the decisiveness of my household.  Of the various households that make up my family as a whole, my household is generally considerd to be the ‘commanding class,’ because my Dad is considered the head of the family after my Grandfather, and as people get older, my Mom, as a nurse, is like the Kingdom’s Wizard.  With their status comes a whole lot of political power within the family, and naturally it developed that my parents are more often coordinating and delegating and basically overseeing clan operations than not.

I’m not saying that to be mean– it’s the truth.  My aunts are the kinds of people who are afraid of making decisions and as a result, they tend to overquestion things way too much.

My dad, on the other hand, is a rage-aholic, and impatient.  He can’t stand that, when he’s trying to arrange with my Aunt [Lan] to pick up my grandfather from the hospital, she’s talking about stupid concerns like “what if there’s traffic” or “what if the doctor has some special instructions” or what have you.  I’ll give my dad a point in this department– my Aunt [Lan] is an overbearing worry wart.  She’s not a bad person, but she often annoys the shit out of me, and is the complete opposite type of personality that I would ever make a friend with, because of her weak and petty character.  At the same time though, she’s someone who tends to think she’s the last say in all the things that concern my grandfather, because she handles the finances in the family.  This leads to a lot of problems.

Because she’s retired, she’s often the one who’s been hanging around the hospital at the optimum times to do translations for my grandfather, since he doesn’t speak more than a few licks of English or French. She doesn’t translate well though.  And it’s not that she doesn’t have the vocabulary: she censors the information.
When it comes to medical translations, vocabulary is important, but the full story is more important.  On more than one occasion, when I was in the room, I’ve heard doctors, nurses or medical staff give specific instructions, which Aunt [Lan] will filter into the way she thinks it should be said.  I mean, WTF.
Which is why I spend so much time at the hospital whenever I can.  Because I’m doing translations.  My Cantonese isn’t nearly as good as my Aunt’s, but I think I get the point across better because I can make do, the same way I improvised with Korean– by repeating with intent of the information the information I want to get across, and not censoring it to what I think it should be.  I mean, for god’s sakes– show some respect!  The man is your elder, give him the full story and let him decide what he wants to do.  Even if you’re going to force him to do something he doesn’t like, why sugar coat it?  Information is half of the medical process.
It annoys me.  But, I understand that when dealing with family, it’s not like I can fire anything.  So, despite strong emotional reactions to the idiocy of my relatives, I keep it in.  I uphold the Confucian laws of high fidelity to anyone older than me, and harmony within the clan.  That doesn’t mean I agree with them, it means I go out of my way to be polite and to play the peacekeeper.

My dad doesn’t do any of that.  He just gets pissed off.  Today, while trying to figure out those arrangmenets with Aunt [Lan], he got so pissed off at her that he swore into the phone, slammed it off, then stormed downstairs where he continued to swear and curse loudly.  I’m quite certain he wanted to break something, but all he managed to do was fling some keys of the wall after swatting it.

Because, you know, getting pissed off solves everything.

… you know what, it’s now
Sleep Condition: 30% batteries remaining.
I don’t feel like talking about this anymore.  It’s pissing me off and lately, and I’m concerned about how the massive influx of negative energy is taking control of my life, including my writing.   I’ve still got about 50 minutes of break left so I’m going to go and take a nap, maybe a walk.

Can you beleive that my grandad is supposed to be discharged from the hospital, but the family is falling apart when this should be a cause for celebration?