Friday, December 28, 2001
18:49: I hadn't seen my family in a little more than a year, so spending some time with them over Christmas was definitely a welcome break. My older brother and his girlfriend/fiancee were also down there, and this was the first Christmas where all four of us kids were together as adults.
The post Sept. flight experience was not as harrowing as one might have imagined. in fact, it was so commonplace that we were able to bitch about the same relatively mindless things that one would have bitched about before airplanes were falling into buildings. Particularly egregious was the "Bilingual" flight attendant doing the announcing in Spanish on our flight from O'Hare to Mexico City and San Jose. I can only describe her inflection of Spanish as the Caribbean version of Jerry Springer talk. The other offensive element of her overwhelmingly earnest disquisition was her piercing voice, which on its own should be categorized as a dangerous device not allowed on airplanes. She also had a particularly patronizing tone to all her announcements which, when compared with those delivered in English, had significantly less of that subservient "thank you for being our customer in this time of trouble" of and much more of that "escucha o te pego con la chancleta" intonation characteristic of Latin American marketplace vendors. Other than that, it was kind of fun to sit next my brother in the airplane, as we have not done in about 15 years.
Christmas we spent in the westernmost province of Costa Rica, called Guanacaste, where my parents recently obtained a timeshare. There's little that can beat six days in the tropical Pacific, complete with a pool bar, rum that never ran out, and an endless supply of cheese.
I can't say that there was a whole lot of strife, not that there usually is strife with a capital S in our family. still , my brother had a pretty heartfelt conversation with my parents about all of the assorted idiosyncrasies that we have when communicating with each other that have irked him for a number of years and that, at this point in his life, he probably doesn't feel represent all that we are capable of. Then again, there's probably a little bit of naivete in thinking six adults are going to change the way they've always communicated with each other based on the content of one conversation that, if history is any indicator , will most likely be interpreted as a personal attack rather than as seemingly constructive criticism.
I guess it's just that my family, with its assorted roots and varying levels of educ has always been toeing the line between modernity and heritage. My da's side of the family tends to communicate with each other with what might seem to an outsider as incessant, intensive, and incisive accusations. I don't imagine they construe them as such. My mom's side of family tends to give each other instructions on how to do simple daily tasks, with more frequency than most people would be able to accommodate for. Which, come to think of it, is probably where I get both my own tendency to give people instructions, as well as my well repressed urges to snap at others more often than I do. And, truly, I think all four of us kids have learned to balance our behavior against those genetic drives, at least when it comes to interacting with the outside world. When it comes to dealing with our own kind, it's a different story. Let's just say that it's great to spend time with by sisters and my older brother, mostly because we can communicate in a very special Rinc�n shorthand, but that this shorthand comes with the cost of a hearing us snap at each other as if we were on a talk show.
One of our excursions involved a horseback ride which I will be happy to categorize as something I enjoyed doing, but that I wish I had known more about before engaging in. Suffice it to say that I can now consider the whole name of this website and experiment in rhetorical irony.
I hope we have these more often. I really like the fact that all four of us kids� nay, adults� can hang out, drink beer, and have an awesome time together. I also like the fact that my someday-to-be sister-in-law is such a thoroughly cool person. My parents had no trouble taking a shine to her, as I imagine is true for most people who meet her.
Thursday, December 06, 2001
21:44: Quick note before returning to my paper (the reason why I'm not writing and showing my beautiful pictures of London): I'm sitting, in the Java Shack, and eavesdropping on the conversation of two men across the room is much more fascinating than reading about rational choice theory. It seems that one of them (good looking fellow, black hair and a handsome five-o-clock shadow) has been having problems with a friend of nine years. From his concerns (you don't show consideration or respect for me, you're always correcting me but never notice the fact that you hurt me, you deliberately lie to me, you have repeated anonymous sex with strangers and it makes you cancel our plans, you rudely dissed me in Europe), the responses of his interlocutor (a mildly irritating character with as much conversational fluidity as Woody Allen) show a remarkable inability to be straightforward and address his friend's concerns. I've formulated a judgment: one of them is giving the other a last-ditch opportunity to redeem himself, and the other is trying to circumlocute himself out of the shitter.
I'm wondering what it is that brings these two people, who have such widely different styles of communicating, and who obviously have a long history of problems as a result of this difference, became friends?