Family Excuses

In my family, there are three distinct generations. The members of the first generation are the immigrants. Their ages range from late 40’s to early 60’s. The ABC (American-born Chinese) members of the family are the second generation. We are between the ages of 18 and 26. The third and youngest generation is between the ages of 7 and 13.

Every weekend – and I mean every weekend – at least two families get together to eat. Eating dinner together three or four times a week is not uncommon for two-family meals. The multi-family meals occur every other weekend. There is no set schedule. This is just the pattern.

Western holidays and birthdays are simply excuses to have a party. This past Sunday, for instance, my fourth aunt put on an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids (members of the 3rd generation, that is). The kids went around her small house, rummaging through furniture and odd places for plastic eggs that held money. Every kid will have the same number of eggs (we have socialistic tendencies, you see), but three kids will find and keep the special $5 eggs (we love capitalism, too). Ironically, though Easter is a Christian holiday, no one in our family is Christian. At best, religion for the adults extends only to the occasional rituals of polytheistic Buddhism. Yet, the purpose of the egg hunt was not to celebrate the rebirth of Christ, but to celebrate the coming-together of families.

These family get-togethers facilitate everyday talk between all three generations. Each family member generally talks within his or her own generation. Yet, I can see how the third generation parrots the problems the adults are facing, (i.e., all the kids strongly dislike the third family for its members’ selfish nature).

Stories are told at dinner. Rumors about family friends or friends that the families know are exchanged. Since the second generation has flown from the nest, the parents update everyone on how they’re doing. Nothing public that I tell my mom, for instance, goes unknown to my relatives – Mom keeps my secrets but blabs away about everything else. Plans are made for future three-day weekends. They are usually camping trips that my fourth uncle organizes. And, if the adults don’t want the kids to know what they’re talking about, they’ll start talking in Vietnamese. [To tease my parents and relatives, I would string together all the Vietnamese dishes that I’ve learned to say in that language into a non-sense sentence. For example, my aunt would whisper in Vietnamese about how my third aunt is being difficult again, and I would interrupt with “beef-noodles-vermicelli-pork-wrap-ice-cream!” To someone who doesn’t speak Vietnamese, it sounds very much like I was saying something coherent in that language.]

The celebrations and rituals in the Chinese culture are many. We celebrate the Harvest Moon with specific foods. Once a year, we visit my grandparents and brother at Rosehills Cemetery. Lunar New Year is the time when all the kids get paid for their hard work at being kids. When the elder family (headed by the eldest brother of the Diec family line) visits, there is always a special dinner every night of the week. This past summer, when the youngest sister of the Diec line came with her family from France, we had the first family reunion in fifteen years! That was an amazing celebration: non-stop fun for the kids for over a month and a challenge to the adults’ stamina.

I am fortunate to be a part of a large family that has so many celebrations, rituals and excuses to get together.

Sunday Reflections

Another weekend has come around. There will only be five more before my college career is over. My goodness, time is passing quickly by.

This week was characterized by procrastination and brief moments of thoughtfulness. I still have many assignments to make up. The list of tasks I wrote on Friday is still long. So, I best finish the Assessment Paper today.

Sheila wrote me last night. She said that she is depressed. I am afraid that she is encountering a lost sense of purpose. She might also need to repair a shattered sense of self-worth. That damn ex-boyfriend deserves to be strung up by the testicles for what he did. Yet, even then, Sheila won’t feel any better — she would still berate herself for not having realized his lying, cheating heart sooner. As any good cousin ought to do, I should contact her and listen to her troubles.

Yesterday was the Jazz Festival. The Lindy Hop Dance Demonstration went off without a hitch. The group did a good job, and everyone enjoyed the jovial atmosphere. Being exposed to lindy hop and East Coast swing is a very good thing for me. Some time from now, I will be able to build upon my beginning skills and perhaps dance like Kenny & Maureen.

I am concerned for Raam. These recent conversations with him are disturbing. His goals and ambitions are being downgraded. Can I tell him that he is justifying mediocrity? He wants to switch from Social Work to an easier major. I suggested Communication since it is relatively easier, but at least it has some practical value. His preference is Art. That is the easiest major of all, with no practical, income-generating value. Christina is apparently not skilled nor disciplined enough to be the breadwinner of the two. She speaks of buying video games and expensive game consoles at a time when the two of them barely have enough money to eat and live. Does she even realize how much Raam is sacrificing in order to keep them financially afloat? Raam will have to be real strong to deal with Christina’s underdeveloped maturity. He will be challenged. If he can overcome the challenges, then a better man he will be for it. Unfortunately, I am afraid he is blinded by euphoria. He is romanticizing his relationship. Raam does not realize that he is playing the role of “father” and “caretaker” to Christina. There is no partnership between the couple. She is dependent upon his guidance, like a daughter who needs her father’s wise guidance. Does Raam fancy himself to be that wise? There is nothing more I can do than just be Raam’s friend. I don’t agree with the decisions he has made so far, but I am in no position to tell him how to live his life, nor would I want to if I was.

My parents called me this morning to remind me to do my taxes. Another task for this weekend. . I am going to try to find some online way to file my taxes. That’ll make my life a little easier.

Task List

This weekend will be busy.
List of Tasks:
– Discussion Paper #7 for COMM 407 (Deadline: 04/10)
– Abstract Paper #4 for COMM 407 (Deadline: 04/10)
– Assessment Paper for COMM 490 (Deadline: ASAP)
– Research for NABI Biopharmaceuticals (Deadline: 04/12)
– Study for Investment exam, Chapters 9 – 16 (Deadline: 04/11)
– Discussion Paper #4 & 5 for COMM 407 (Deadline: ASAP)
– Abstract Papers #2 & 3 for COMM 407 (Deadline: ASAP)

As much as I would like to have fun with friends, these next few weekends will be extremely busy.

Girls of the Past

So, what have I learned from those different styles of love? I realized that I truly loved the girls of my past. They were not infatuations. The relationships should not be valued less simply because they took place in my early college years or in high school. Each relationship demonstrated growth or change in the way I love women.

I experienced ludic love from Julie Tran while I was a storgic lover. I viewed my relationship with her as stable growth. She was pretty and smart. I enjoyed her company and looked forward to a growing relationship. Julie, on the other hand, was constantly unsure about my feelings for her (and, perhaps, her feelings for me). So, she devised odd tests for me. For example, she wore thick make-up one day to see how I’d react. She would flirt with other boys in front of me to get me jealous. The whole experience was so surreal and silly that I was glad she broke up with me after two weeks. Admittedly, I was still heartbroken since she was my first girlfriend in high school. Yet, ad hoc, I’m glad I did not experience one week more of her “tests.” I would surely have hated women and preferred men as lovers afterwards as a result.

The relationship with Lina Chai was my first attempt at ludic love. Her love for me was the combination of eros and ludus (mania). My style was ludic because I wasn’t interested in a commitment with Lina. I enjoyed the time spent with her. I felt empowered when I helped improve her relationship with her grandmother. I was proud to have such an artistic and creative girlfriend. But, there was no long-term vision. Lina’s style was manic because she loved me with a passion, but with a doubt of return. More than once, she commented on her surprise that I would even be interested in a girl like her. (Does a manic love style result from feeling undeserving of love?) In the end, my ludic style proved incompatible with her manic one. I broke her heart and I have hated myself for that since then. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll ever get a chance to say sorry.

One would think I’d learn from my relationship with Lina and not keep the ludus style of love. Rebecca Lui was the next victim of my stupidity. She was a very good girl who loved me with the full honor of agape. She disagreed with my playfulness (i.e., tickling or slapping her butt). My occasional curtness with her and wavering attractions did not shake her loyalty. She even suggested to me to spend more time with other girls who shared my interests! Looking back now, I was undeserving of her love. I was reckless and I hurt her feelings deeply. Rebecca deserves another agapic lover, or at least a storge/pragma lover. God! How guilty I feel now. I admire her greatly for her courage, for taking the initiative to break up with me must have been very difficult, considering her agapic love. Of all the girls in my past, I regret the most hurting Rebecca. She deserved much better.

Johana Hernandez was a great girl. My relationship with her was my first attempt at pragma love. This was a sudden change in style, since my past two relationships were ludic. Yet, the situation demanded it. We only had a few months before I left for college. A long-distance relationship required a commitment — the very thing that ludic lovers curse. So, I had to evaluate the pros and cons. I wanted good communication. Johana and I communicated well. At the time, we had average goals. She wanted to be an artist, I wanted to be a secondary school teacher. Both our families were poor, and the two of us could be translators between them (Spanish to English to Cantonese, and vice versa). We both planned to go to Humboldt State. The practical considerations were satisfied and I was ready to work out any differences ahead. Unfortunately, we were not both pragma lovers. I am not sure what Johana’s love style was in our relationship, but I am sure it was neither pragma nor storge. After I left for Humboldt, she felt not only a physical distance, but an intellectual one, as well. She believed that my growth during my first year in college was beyond her ability to keep up and that she was holding me back, (similar to how her ex-boyfriend held back her growth). She felt I deserved better. I was growing too fast, and the direction in which I was growing, she realized, was not hers. So — once again admiring a woman’s courage — she broke up with me.

When we parted ways, I was not aware of my love style in our relationship. Only in hindsight am I aware of my pragmatic love style. As a result, I placed full blame of the lost relationship on myself. For the longest time, I thought the relationship ended because of my ludic love style.

This inaccurate conclusion of my love style had a strong impact on my growth. After my relationship with Johana, I questioned my ability to love. It was after that relationship that I became more critical of myself and, for the first time, realized the terrible treatment of Lina and Rebecca by my reckless hands. Thus, I have Johana to thank for giving me the impetus to be a better man.

Yet, this path towards not being reckless with a woman’s heart was marked with doomed attractions: Amee Foss, Elena Leonard, Celia Tran, and a handful of other women during my second & third years at Humboldt. The short-lived attractions for these women were not simply eros-based. Any relationship was doomed to fail. I knew nothing would come from my pursuits — and from my own armchair-psychology analysis, I believe that I subconsciously subjected myself to these doomed pursuits so that I may suffer for my past transgressions. Whether or not this diagnosis has any merit doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that I did suffer. I constantly felt the need to prove that I deserved the love of these women.

Ah… then, there was Amanda. I experienced eros/agapic/manic love in my relationship with Amanda Allen. Our initial attractions were intense. The sense of bond and connectedness was quick. We told each other about our life stories with similar speed. When she decided that a relationship with me would not work out, what was eros love evolved to an agapic style. I did not care if she did not love me back the way I loved her; I continued to care for her and help her in any way I can. I actually loved someone beyond myself! It was redemption — absolution from the harms of my ludic past. No longer did I have to prove my worth. If I did not deserve another woman’s love because of my past, at least I can love a woman who deserved the best kind of love: agape.

Unfortunately, I failed at agapic love. Though I did not desire a reciprocation of love, I expected, in the least, her appreciation. I felt unappreciated. Tension resulted. Conflict ensued, and I nearly lost a great friendship.

From another perspective, I simply made all the wrong choices. I should not have told Amanda how attracted I was to her. I should have kept my distance and not done anything that would make her suspect the intense feelings that I have for her. The decision to live together as suitemates over the summer was ill-conceived. Her proximity had a catalystic effect: my agapic love mutated into complete mania. I wanted her to prove to me that she appreciated my love, not with love in return, but with “thank you’s” and smiles and platonic affection. She could not do this. She feared any kindness in my direction would only fan my intense passion for her. In short, I freaked her out and I nearly lost all hope of her association. Once again, women prove courage and intuitive wisdom: she kept her distance from me as far as possible. The distance and time apart allowed for the passion to die out and for me to wise up.

Wow… so these are the girls of my past. I have been so reckless in my relationships, I’m lucky to still have Amanda as a friend.

Styles of Love

I hope to finish my Assessment Paper for my Capstone class. Moreover, I have to apply for Lambda Pi Eta. Today was the deadline, but I think the Dept. Chair will accept it tomorrow if I give it to him in the morning.

Several days ago, I found the textbook that I bought for my first Interpersonal Communication class. One of the most interesting concepts I learned was the different styles of love. From this perspective, I realized that I truly loved the girls I’ve been in relationships with in the past. I just loved each differently.

There are three primary and three secondary styles of love. Like the color spectrum, the three primary styles of love blend and form secondary styles. Most of us have a combination of styles. Our styles change through time and are influenced by our lover’s preferences, as well.

Eros – this style is characterized as powerful, intense and passionate attractions. The love blazes into life suddenly and dramatically. The intensity may include sexual, spiritual, intellectual, or emotional attraction. It is spontaneous and fast-moving. Lovers self-disclose early, can be very sentimental, and fall in love hard and fast.
Storge (store-gay) – this style is characterized as comfortable, steady, and friendship-based. This style of love tends to grow gradually. It is peaceful and stable. Lovers of this style fall in love through common interests, values, and life goals. Storgic lovers don’t get the highs of erotic love, but they don’t have the fiery anger and intense conflicts either.
Ludus – this style is characterized as playful. Ludic lovers see love as a game, full of adventure, challenges, puzzles and fun. They consciously operate on the relationship, (i.e., testing the person’s affection or for certain qualities, playing with the person’s mind, etc.) But, love is not to be taken seriously. Commitment is a no-no. Rather, ludic lovers prefer to play the field and simply enjoy falling in love.

Pragma – this style is characterized as practical. It blends the stable, secure love of storge with the conscious strategies of ludus. Pragmatic lovers have clear criteria for partners, such as career, family background, educational level, or religious affiliation. This may seem cold and lacking in passion, but something is overlooked. Practical considerations are the foundation of enduring commitments. These considerations must be satisfied before they let themselves fall in love.
Mania – this style is characterized by madness, uncertainty, and emotional extremes. It combines the passion of eros with ludic rules. Ricky Martin’s song “Living La Vida Loca,” is essentially about the consequences of manic love. Manic lovers are usually not sure that others really love them, so they devise tests and games to evaluate the partner’s commitment. They are obsessive about the relationship and are unable to think about anyone or anything else. Emotional extremes range from euphoric ecstasy to bottomless despair.
Agape – this style is characterized by passion without any expectation of personal gain or return. Agapic lovers feel the intensity of eros and the constancy of storge. They are generous, selfless, and will put a loved one’s happiness ahead of their own. Giving to and loving another is its own reward to an agapic lover.

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