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How to Talk to a Wall - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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June 19th, 2007


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09:10 pm - How to Talk to a Wall
Every time my dad drives me to the airport, we have the same conversation. If you can call it that.

Dad: "Who's picking you up from the airport?"
What I want to say: "Oh my Jesus fucking Christ. Like it fucking matters. Yes, it's one of those fucking white folks, and yes, it's one of those damn girls. Do you have a fucking problem with that?"
What I say: "Lisa."

Dad: "How do you know her? From work?"
What I want to say: "Yes, because work is the only place you meet people. You know what? I met her by going to someone's house. Someone I knew FROM THE INTERNET. Yeah, the fucking Internet. It's where I make most of my friends these days, and, hey, there don't seem to be a lot of Indians around, so tough."
What I say: "Through a friend."

Dad: "I know, a friend, but how?"
What I want to say: "THROUGH a friend. Look, I don't even want to be having this fucking conversation; that may be why I'm not speaking up or showing any sign of enjoying myself at all."
What I say: "Through a friend. A mutual friend."

Dad: "Do you have any Indian friends yet? Or no?"
What I want to say: "JESUS FUCK. Why are you fucking obsessed with this shit? Does it matter at ALL that I am happy with the friends I have? That I have fun with them? That they care about me? That we look out for each other? Are you saying they don't fucking COUNT because they're not brown like me?"
What I say: "No, I haven't met anyone."

Dad: "Are there any other Indians at work besides [your uncle]?"
What I want to say: "Yes, in fact, we're thinking of changing the name to Desi Pharmaceuticals. There's like one other guy. And some FOBs who will be gone soon. If I throw a rock, I'm not likely to hit an Indian in the face. We're in America, here. It's full of Americans. You want to meet Indians wherever the fucking hell I go, send me to India. There are TONS of Indians there! The difference in density is statistically significant! Here, however, people tend not to be Indian. Get over it."
What I say: "There are some."

Dad: "You need to go to some functions."
What I want to say: "Oh, yeah, because I love going to functions. I adore walking into a sea of people I don't know. You know, I can strike up conversations with strangers at concerts and movie theatres and bookstores and whatnot because there's a commonality there, an artistic bond we share. Any sort of 'function' here is going to revolve around the Indianness of it all, which is a superficial bond at best and not sufficient to allow a gateway to penetrate through extant social circles. I can't go up and say, 'Hey, how's that BEING INDIAN going for you?' This happens in all sorts of venues, really. An Indian person will ask me a question because I, too, am Indian, and am thus somehow a better source of information than anyone else around me. I see Indian people in places sometimes, and I want to try to talk to them, I do, but I can't because I know the only reason I would be going up to talk to them is BECAUSE THEY ARE INDIAN and what the fuck is that about? It makes me feel weird and not genuine, unlike only talking to girls I think are hot, which makes me feel shallow."
What I say: "..."

Dad: "You can't just waste all your time with white people; you need to have some Indian friends."
What I want to say: "Are you fucking kidding me? You know, maybe I don't like Indian people, since I grew up in Dallas/Fort Worth, and the Dallas Indians are not the sort of people I want to hang out with. They're not My People. We had nothing in common besides our skin color and our continual attendance of every fucking social function there was. I appeared to be the only Indian who liked rock music, whereas everyone else was deeply entrenched in rap and hip hop culture, even calling each other 'nigger.' With the exception of Ravi, my token Indian friend, I haven't met many Indians I can carry on an engaging conversation with the way I can with my non-Indian friends. I've lost touch with that small minority. I'm sorry to be an aberration of my race."
What I say: "..."

Dad: "And you need to call home minimum twice a week. No one is so busy that they can't do that. More would be better, but at least twice a week."
What I want to say: "OH MY GOD. I remember when the requirement was once a week, and I couldn't even hold to that, and you're still pushing this twice-a-week shit on me for the last three years? I dread talking to you guys, okay? You make me cry more than anyone else on the fucking planet; why would I want to subject myself to that TWICE A WEEK? For God's sake, I have to emotionally psych myself up before dialing; it's far easier just not to call. It makes me a lot fucking happier. I have rarely been made happy by a phone call with you guys. I could probably count the number of times you've said anything nice to me in the last five years on one hand. Any time you've been proud of me, that I haven't let you down. Maybe two hands, if I dig deep. Why don't you just fucking give up, already? LET ME THE HELL GO. I'm not tied to you by a fucking string. You have been telling me to call twice a week for years, and any time I go more than week without calling, I get some fucking shit about how I've forgotten you. I CAN NEVER FORGET YOU. THAT'S THE FUCKING PROBLEM. AND THAT IS WHY I DON'T CALL. BECAUSE YOU ARE ALWAYS IN MY GODDAMN HEAD ANYWAY."
What I say: "..."

Dad: "At least say 'Yes'!"
What I want to say: "Oh fucking seriously. You're actually asking for my empty assent? You just want to hear it, hear me lie to you, so you can pretend I really agreed to do it? How often do normal people call their parents? Once a week? Once every two weeks? Once a month? Twice a year? You know, most parents consider every fucking phone call a gift from heaven; you're lucky I can only go about two weeks before finally bothering to answer the phone. I don't understand why the hell I need to call you anyway; you guys call me fifty times a week as it is. I'm surprised if the phone rings and it isn't you. I'm so damn happy when it's not."
What I say: "Yeah."

Dad: "You need to call [your relatives]. Just 'Hi, hello,' but you need to stay in touch."
What I want to say: "But you're wrong. Because I can't just fucking say, 'Hi, hello.' Who the fuck calls and says hi and then hangs up? That's not a phone call. They want more. They ask how I am, and I say fine, and I ask how they are, and they say fine, and it's ALL SO FUCKING POINTLESS. It's a total waste of time and energy. Why don't they call me if they're so interested in hearing about me? I have no desire to make phone calls as if I'm crossing people off my To Do list."
What I say: "..."

Dad: "You need to talk with the adults more now. Even at [your uncle's], don't spend all your time with [your cousins]."
What I want to say: Okay, and what will we do, huh? What will we talk about? They're not going to play Midnight Club 3 with me, and you know? I really enjoy playing Midnight Club 3. I know video games are for CHILDREN, or something, but it makes me happy, and I get quality time with my cousins, and I did I mention I am happy? Does that mean a THING to you at all? Because I really don't think it does. I think all you care about is what I'm 'supposed' to be doing at my age, when several of my friends here are in their thirties and still doing things I would consider fun and you would probably consider childish. I spend time with the adults in my family, I do, but I never actually get credit for that. Maybe intel about what I'm right just never filters back to you because no one fucking cares if I'm doing something right; the only thing that matters is how much of a fuck-up I am. How I'm not the Perfect Golden Child I'm supposed to be, all obedient and dutiful and never thinking for himself or having any agency of his own."
What I say: "..."

Dad: "Every three or four months, head on home."
What I want to say: "Are you going to pay for this? Because I certainly don't like dropping two hundred dollars to come home and feel like shit when I could fly to visit friends and have an awesome time instead. I'm not going to waste all my vacation days on trips home."
What I say: "..."

Dad: "Is there any possibility at your job of being transferred here?"
What I want to say: "I can think of nothing more miserable than living within striking distance of you, so that you can come over and criticize my apartment, my hair, my weight, my couch, my stance, and my fucking toothpaste, probably, at any time you want. I have absolutely ZERO desire to move from my current position. My boss is awesome, and people appreciate my work. There's free food all the time, and they send me to Chicago and put me up at the Four Seasons. Why would I want to leave? I've only been there A YEAR. LESS THAN THAT, OFFICIALLY. Did you think I'd magically get my first job, stay there for TWO MINUTES and then move back home?"
What I say: "No."

Dad: "Because it's expensive in the Bay Area. For the price you can rent an apartment there, you can rent a house here."
What I want to say: "Thanks for the news flash! I was not aware of the high cost of living in the place I HAVE BEEN LIVING FOR OVER A YEAR NOW. You know, now I really want to go buy a fucking condo, because then I'll be stuck here, far from you. That'll show you who's a fucking adult. And then maybe I'll make some bad real estate decisions, go bankrupt, and KILL MYSELF. And it will be awesome."
What I say: "..."

Dad: "Now that you're earning money, you should be giving [your brother and sister] money [when you visit]. It's only ten or twenty dollars, it's a little thing, but it looks good."
What I want to say: "Oh, I wasn't aware that I was supporting them now, that they were out on the streets. I take my brother out to dinner, and that's not enough? I have to give him cash? That's so fucking gauche. I can't just buy him shit now and then? What, do I have to have a gift for them every single time I see them? What's with all the fucking obligation? I don't DEAL in that shit. I buy gifts for people when I feel like it, when I find something I want to get them. I don't just give them ten bucks to, like, buy cocaine with. Money is worthless until it's turned into goods, and goods are good. Who the hell knows what my brother will do with the cash I give him? It's not earmarked. It could count as a movie ticket and popcorn, it could be a CD, it could be half a shirt, it could be anything. Meanwhile, I'm out ten dollars for no discernible reason. It's like giving to charity. My brother is not a fucking charity. I don't need to contribute to his foundation. I can contribute to him. And I know I don't do it enough, but hell if I know HOW MUCH I'm supposed to be spending on my siblings every month or year or whatever."
What I say: "..."

Dad: "We don't need to be like those white people."
What I want to say: "YOU RACIST BASTARD."
What I say: "..."

The problem is that your parents are supposed to teach you how to be a person, and I have no other frame of reference here. I can't separate the unreasonable from the valid. Anything that even sounds like they might be right, I, first of all, don't even know if I think they're right or I just think that I'm supposed to think they're right because I've been brainwashed for twenty-five years, and, second of all, immediately reject on principle because doing anything they say is caving to their demands and not doing things on my terms. I'm a failure either way, so I guess it doesn't matter.
Current Mood: angryangry
Current Music: Two - Leave Me Alone

(173 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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[User Picture]
From:dachelle
Date:June 20th, 2007 04:16 am (UTC)
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Sigh.

I don't know what to say about your dad, just...*HUGS*
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 20th, 2007 04:19 am (UTC)
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Thanks, Courtney. I wish I'd had time to hang out with you when I was down there. *hugs*
[User Picture]
From:sophia_helix
Date:June 20th, 2007 04:23 am (UTC)
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*sympathy at you*

It's not this bad, but conversations with my parents tend to make me want to kill myself too. Being 26 sucks, and I'm half-sorry the Bay Area is so close, because I want to move there next but I also want to be MUCH MUCH farther away from them.
[User Picture]
From:rachelmanija
Date:June 20th, 2007 04:31 am (UTC)
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Oh, man, I'm sorry. I'm imagining my parents hitting my buttons as I read about your Dad hitting yours, and I cringe in sympathy.

[User Picture]
From:afrocurl
Date:June 20th, 2007 04:37 am (UTC)
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Oh fucking hell! That's horrible.

I complain about half the stuff my dad does, but he's never that bad.

All the best, and I think staying in the Bay Area is a fantastic idea.
[User Picture]
From:syderia
Date:June 20th, 2007 04:39 am (UTC)
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*hugs*
[User Picture]
From:squaringkarma
Date:June 20th, 2007 04:47 am (UTC)
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:( Stupid parental units.
[User Picture]
From:debetesse
Date:June 20th, 2007 04:48 am (UTC)
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"The difference in density is statistically significant!"

I kinda love this phrase.

I have this saying, that the education of orphans is where it's at. Because there are no parents to fuck things up.

I'm sorry they're unreasonable. I'm glad that you are in SF, and doing other things that make you happy, even if it makes drama with your family.
[User Picture]
From:punzerel
Date:June 20th, 2007 04:51 am (UTC)
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*huge hugs because your dad sounds so much like mine and that is not a good thing* Once he said "Can't you just be friends with them in school? Why do you have to be friends with them outside of school?"

I get the same thing about friends outside my community. I don't LIKE most of the people in my community! They aren't interested in me! Why would we spend time together? Why would I marry one of them? Why would I freaking BECOME one of them?

Do your parents criticize your clothes, too? Cause apparently, now my clothes are a sign I am going Straight To Hell, at least to my mom.

Parents suck. >.< The worst is that they don't always suck, which makes you (or at least me) feel so horribly guilty about breaking away and disappointing them. I find that I can usually manage not to think about it, as long as it's not brought up to me by anything or anyone.

*more hugs*
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 20th, 2007 04:54 am (UTC)
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Once he said "Can't you just be friends with them in school? Why do you have to be friends with them outside of school?"
Ouch!

I don't LIKE most of the people in my community! They aren't interested in me! Why would we spend time together? Why would I marry one of them? Why would I freaking BECOME one of them?
Exactly!

Do your parents criticize your clothes, too? Cause apparently, now my clothes are a sign I am going Straight To Hell, at least to my mom.
Yeah, my shirts are too big and my pants are too short and everything is wrinkled and OMG DO I WEAR THAT TO WORK?!?!

The worst is that they don't always suck, which makes you (or at least me) feel so horribly guilty about breaking away and disappointing them.
Yep.
[User Picture]
From:minim_calibre
Date:June 20th, 2007 04:51 am (UTC)
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Sigh.

P-C'S DAD, PLEASE DO NOT MAKE HIM HATE BEING INDIAN, KTHXBI.

[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 20th, 2007 04:57 am (UTC)
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Yeah, am I the poster boy for racial self-hatred or what? I've been thinking about it, and it's like, sometimes I wonder whether I would have been better off being born white. But I just look at my skin and can't see it. I am Indian. It's part of who I am, and I'm not ashamed of it or anything. I just don't feel like I'm "like" other Indians. I don't have the trappings.
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[User Picture]
From:athenacqd
Date:June 20th, 2007 05:00 am (UTC)
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Oh Sunil, I'm so sorry. I think everyone's parents push their buttons at times and I've certainly had moments where I don't pick up the phone or call home because I can't deal, but what you've described seems pretty awful even by child/parent miscommunication standards.

I don't know anything about the situation but is it possible for you to say outloud some of the things you were saying in your head? I mean, not some of the more extreme bits but about how you feel in terms of how it isn't exactly easy to meet people who are Indian and how you don't want to form bonds with people based on superficial criteria but that it doesn't mean you are turning your back on your culture (which seems to be his big fear). I'm sure you've gone around all these circles with them before and gotten nowhere and I know it's easier to just say nothing and not argue but I worry about you keeping so much inside. You deserve to be happy and have some of this weight lifted off your shoulders.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 20th, 2007 05:09 am (UTC)
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I've just been beaten down. Any time I try to argue, they find some counterargument, and they're always right. That's just how it is. It's much easier to just sit there and shut up; it's not like anything would get through to either of us.
[User Picture]
From:truemyth
Date:June 20th, 2007 05:02 am (UTC)
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Aww. I'm sorry it is so rough for you. I have some friction with my mother here, living at home, but I don't think it's nearly the issues you seem to have. I'm glad you kept a level head, even if you were raging inside, and it's wonderful that you seem to have such a healthy attitudes towards race, given some of the things you've had to deal with from your family.
[User Picture]
From:gymble
Date:June 20th, 2007 05:11 am (UTC)
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I'm so sorry, Sunil. There's ... not much more I can say. But I do know other cool Indian-Americans besides you. They do exist, I promise. I'm sorry you have so much trouble with your parents.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 20th, 2007 05:16 am (UTC)
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But I do know other cool Indian-Americans besides you. They do exist, I promise.
Do they exist here? Can I be friends with them? I need the points.
[User Picture]
From:glasseseater
Date:June 20th, 2007 05:20 am (UTC)
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oh, so, this one time we were at this picnic at Sean's family's house, cause they're all blah blah blah blah family, and somehow I'm now their common law daughter. Five of us were playing the new super mario bros together. There were three adults having a conversation (read talking about a church that neither Sean or I go to) and somehow WE'RE the ones that need to join the family. They're like babies, because they can't see the screens there is no interaction in existence. Luckily they're all sweethearts and not jerks about the whole thing, but, ridiculous. I love Sean's family but it's like my mom and I waited twenty years for all our overbearing relatives to die, and I just inherited this whole new family to judge how I do things.

I am going to start walking up to people to ask them how being white's going for them. Also I'm going to find an Indian older brother so I get twenty bucks every week.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 20th, 2007 05:25 am (UTC)
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I am going to start walking up to people to ask them how being white's going for them.
I'll bet it's going AWESOME! I hear they get all the good jobs.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:upanashad
Date:June 20th, 2007 05:50 am (UTC)
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Oh crap. I'm really sorry. I'm not good with advice...all I can do is hug you when I see you. And buy you some popcorn.

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