Conversations With My Dad: On Dinner, and a Silent Conversation on Survival
I laid in my room tapping away on this laptop around midnight and I heard a noise: that familiar sound of a spoon clanking onto a white, stone/china plate from IKEA. I thought to myself, “Hell, I’m hungry. I wonder what Dad’s eating.”, and walked out the door, down the hallway into the kitchen. I found him with a bag of Lao seaweed, three different types of jeo (what Lao people name what seems to be spiced dipping sauce), a plate of rice, a bamboo container of sticky rice, and a plate of hard-boiled eggs. I reached into the bag for a piece of seaweed and asked him, “Hey Dad, what are you eating?”, to which he replied, “Here, have some dinner. There are some eggs right here, son.”. Munching away, I sat down on one of the dining room chairs, looked at him, looked at the eggs, ripped off a paper towel, and then began cracking at one of the eggs. He then began speaking in Lao.
Dad: “You know, son, back in Laos, that egg you’re holding would be split between two people for dinner. They would even measure it out to divide it evenly. For dinner, it would be just that and a handful of rice. There was never really much food back at home.”
Me: “Were people fat back in Laos?”
Dad: “Oh no, son, everybody was skinny. I was skinny, your mother was skinny, everybody. There just wasn’t enough. Over here in America, you can eat all you like.”
At this particular moment, there was a bit of a look in his eyes. The type of look that envisioned and recollected a combination of sadness, hurt, and a longing for a better life; a longing for nourishment, and the dull, stage-one pain of rejection that followed after the realization that there would be no more for tonight. There was much in his eyes that spoke a lot more than what few words passed his lips. There was more to his brief story than “never really enough”, but with intents and purposes, there was the expression that came upon him that said that there was still more work to do. Knowing that man, he barely rested even when work was done. Living in America, I thought he’d be or look a bit happier. After finishing his meal, he put his plate away, and began his work on the computer.
While cracking open my second egg, I began to wonder why he kept telling me that same story over and over. I looked at the dinner table and saw a basket of fruit becoming a bit overripe. There were snacks that had been there for days. I thought back to the freezers in the basement and recalled the bags of frozen meat that we haven’t touched, the cooked food in the refrigerator that hasn’t been looked at for days, the plentiful bags of vegetables that we’ve yet to touch but constantly consume the next day. It then began to all connect for me.
He never did believe that we had enough and nor did my mother. To believe that we did now seemed foolish to him and Mum. The idea of scarcity in food has lived on within both of them, even today it seems. The food, the resources, the amount of whatever… whatever “it” was, the same questions would express themselves in their faces over and over: “Was there enough?”. As a parent, the amount of worry that question posed would only be magnified. Psychologically, it would pose to be one of the most powerful driving forces in this family.
I never thought I’d be in my Dad’s shoes or would be able to see things his way. There was a clash of culture and differences between our lifestyles, and I always thought about my own problems since my folks never seemed to be in trouble until they asked for help, which usually meant they needed money.
There was always this struggle with debt in our family. One time, I remember speaking to my Mother about bills, and she asked me to help. I remember asking my Mum, “Why are we owing so much to these credit card companies?”, to which she replied to me with a statement I would never forget: “If we didn’t use these credit cards, hun, how could we and how else would be have been able to feed you and the rest of our kids?”
Those two eggs, little strips of seaweed, and bits of rice were the most delicious bits of dinner I have ever had.
New avenues..and much much more..
Well, I have just started a NEW avenue in my life. I have officially become an Avon representative. I know that it sounds strange, and mock me if you will, but it is a good way to make some extra money, AND to even get some good make-up, clothes, jewelry etc. to my friends at a semi-decent cost, in most cases even cheaper than the store and with NO shipping and handling fees. I hope that this ends up being a decent opportunity. I know that it will be a good experience because I will have a lot of help/teamwork with a lady I work with at the credit union. No matter what it will be a good learning experience, of this I am sure :).
Anyways, aside from this..interesting new avenue, I am also trying to start the destressing-about-every-little-thing process. It would seem easy, and I do realize how easy it is for things to get way out of perspective. I let the little things build up and crush me, until it feels like I am doing all that I can to breathe. Its something that I need to step back and realize how fortunate I really am. I need to remember these things. It is something that can be easy to let escape you, when your own life gets to be so busy, but it helps to stop and appreciate the small things. I am not saying you need to be an over zealous religious person, because you don’t. But you can stop and look around you. Do you have a place to call home? A car? Food? Someone to care for you? I mean it’s easy to let the quick breakfast you’re eating slip way past the back of your mind, but you woke up and had food to eat, there are so many people who don’t have that option, even. With that perspective in mind, it can help to perk you up. I have realized, that it does me NO good to stress so that my stomach literally hurts, I just need to remember that!
Also, it IS football Sunday afterall! I’m not trying to make any enemies here, but I am a HUGE New England Patriots fan! I love my team, win or lose, I love them. One thing that I think is pretty great is this: You may have noticed the MHK patches on their jerseys, this is in memory or Myra Kraft, the franchise owner, Robert Kraft’s late wife. She passed this summer, and I do think it’s nice how they have that little memory of her. I never knew her (obviously) but It’s nice. :) I know that football politics are..something..like the Red Sox and the Yankees, people have grudges, but it’s fun being a fan. Having something to have friendly banter with people around you. It’s also a great ice-breaker! For example, in that dreaded public speaking class of mine, last Tuesday I sat down and asked the guy next to me if he had seen that Pats game. I don’t know him well, and still don’t know much about him. It brings people together, for fun :). I don’t think that it’s fair for people to argue with others why they SHOULDN’T be a fan of their team, whatever it is, because I think those little attacks are rude and uncalled for, if someone enjoys the sport, whether they are a Jets fan or a Dallas fan, it shouldn’t matter. All I know is that I love my team and that I hope every other football fan out there loves there team just as much :).
FINALLY, I just finished The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn. I thoroughly enjoy everything I read that is written by her! If you are at all interested in a new book, and don’t mind romance-mysteries then check out her work! There is also a Lady Julia Grey series, that is quite enchanting! You can tell that research is put into her books, they are easy to read, but not so low that you feel as though the author thinks your dumb. There is a good story of an underlying romance in both books, that you definitely have to read for yourself! Just know that her romance portion is NOT trashy sex-scene romance novel, it is like an adult love story with a little detail, but not nearly enough to make it so you want to cringe and skip over that passage. ALSO, the books I have read by her take place in the late 1800’s and the history and imagery she gives is fantastic, I love to imagine what it would be like to be one of her characters. I know that in history life for everyone is not as dreamy as all that, but it is fun to imagine that it could be.
LOTS OF LOVE TO EVERYONE
i have to get stabbed with a needle today and some friends are not having the best time so i wanted to say i hope your day gets better, and you feel healthier, and mostly i hope that that change in feelings is prompted by yourself so you can see how important you are and how much effect and control you have over your daily life. that’s not to say ‘get over it’, that’s to say ‘you are strong and you don’t need horrible people to validate you’.
here are things that make me feel happy:
i live near a library/i have a bike that works/i have a support network of friends, family and people who are both/i’m lucky enough to have my own room in a house of nice people/dogs exist/rats exist/kitties exist/lesbians exist/queer families exist/shannon is home, well at meredith but at home/i’m having an eating and drawing party again and heaps of nice people are coming/i’m healthy in mind and body/when i’m not i can take care of myself/b is gaining so much focus and i’m really proud of her/there are cuties out and about who are great at communication. THEY EXIST/i have a phone that can tell me how to get somewhere and play music while i do, how sick is that/keith haring wanking devices exist/i like singing and other people do too/i like drawing and other people do too/life is long as and pretty lovely in a lot of parts
Thing I dislike: Feeling like the weather is an inconvenience.
Thing I like: Thinking of haiku’s about my scooter on a hot summer day surrounded by the sound of cicada’s, occasionally looking up at the sky.
“In the cicada’s cry.
No sign can foretell.
How soon it will die”
- Matsuo Basho