The family discord at my end has led to some strange discussions. My mother was visiting a week ago. That was the first visit in 5 years. Of course she had opinions. So at one point I asked, "do you think I consider you successful at anything in your life?" She knows the answer.
I asked my brother and my ex-wife the same question. They know the answer. And it's not a flattering answer.
Then I told them that I would only be interested in personal advice, from someone who I considered somewhat successful in that regard. Just as I would only seek financial advice from someone who has done much better than me in that regard.
My children are completely independent, being almost 24 and 30. They've gone the embarrassment route. Concerns about what other people are thinking. I remember once on Star Trek I saw this guy who could do you serious harm with his thinking. But nobody here seems to have those powers.
Concern about what people are thinking is mentioned constantly by my girlfriend in the Philippines. She's mostly concerned by what people think of her. Maybe her family thinks she's trying to take advantage of me, maybe random people we meet will think something bad about her, maybe members of my family will think this and that. We started several calls with her telling me that she's worried about what her sisters are thinking and worried about what her aunts and uncles are thinking. I have told her that the only worry I have about what they are thinking, if somehow they think they can charge double for bamboo.
Then there's been talk of what people will allow. What if your children don't allow you to this or that? What if your mother doesn't like me? What if your brothers and sister don't like me? I have said this would be great, because then I would have a good excuse to not see that one again. I have repeatedly told her the number of people that the Earth contains, and that I'm sure there will be some people who like us just fine. But it comes up pretty regularly, this worried about what others are thinking.
On several occasions I have had to repeat, that I do as I please, and I don't ask anyone for permission. I am one of the most Free People that I've ever met, and she has never encountered someone as free as myself.
If any member of her family was thinking about educating for something or starting a business or entering into a relationship, they run it past everyone, in an attempt to form a consensus. So she finds it a little hard to understand that I don't do that.
It's often been framed as a respect thing. Don't you respect this person or respect that person? So I told her that we are expected to be decent to other people but many people aren't worthy of respect, so I don't show them any. This includes some family members. And for me respect is not related to age. My 23 year old daughter has made much better decisions then my 75 year old mother. Therefore she's worthy of more respect.
When I wrote my long letter to her sisters, I made a point of going over that particular trait of my personality. They think they have to respect their uncle because he is their elder. So I told them that I have been told all about his alcoholism, and therefore I don't respect him and I won't ever respect him. This concept is completely foreign to them. They have been taught to be differential to anyone older than them, particularly males.
My girlfriend definitely gets it now. A short while ago she said," what if my relatives don't this and what if they don't that," then she answered her own question. She said, you will say fuck them then. And she got it about right. I'm not looking to make enemies, but I'm not looking to have anyone tell me what to do. I hope nobody orchestrates any sort of family sit down, where I'm expected to be compliant. It's just not in my nature.
Last week, when we talked about going to the Village, she said what if my relatives want this and what if they want that, and what if they say you should help with this and what if you should help with that? I said they will have to learn the meaning of no. And no doesn't mean maybe or keep trying, it means no. Her sisters definitely have trouble with no. They tried to get her to spend some of my money inappropriately and she said no. They kept going and going and going for quite a while, before they gave up. And no isn't just about financial matters. No is probably the most common word I will use, when someone wants to run interference on personal matters. No, I don't need advice. No, we will choose where we live. No, I only require the agreement of one person from the Philippines. I expect it will take some adjustment, for people to realize that a huge change in one of their relatives fancl status, doesn't necessarily translate into anything for them.
There are things that I will seek advice on. Things like where to find land, how much I should pay for things and dangerous areas to avoid. But I won't be taking big picture financial advice from people who have never accumulated any resources. Especially, since it seems likely that any advice given would be self-serving.
One of my brothers started chirping a few weeks ago, so I asked him if there was any part of his life that he thought was worth emulating. Do you think that I would like to be in your financial shoes? Do you think I would be happy with that woman you call a girlfriend? There's nothing wrong with seeking and taking advice. My friend Felix is someone capable of giving advice. He has managed his career, family life and finances pretty well. And I know several other people in that boat. But I probably know more people whose boat is slowly sinking.
Quite a few relatives and others have mentioned huge cultural differences. I tell them all that I have huge cultural differences with the people surrounding me right now. I don't generally buy into their values, I don't practice their religion and I refuse to buy most of their stuff. I live in a consumer culture, I have a few hundred dollars in my pocket right now and I have no desire to buy anything. It doesn't matter to me if my girlfriend totally fits into this culture. I would be disappointed if she did. I think each family has their own microculture, and at some individuals have their own. I don't expect to become a Filipino and I don't expect her to become a completely normal Canadian. Somewhere in between is fine with me.
We have talked about cultural differences quite a bit. She understands that I am much more of an individual than most people, putting little stock in what others want for me. And I understand the herd mentality that she was raised with, particularly the way that they learn to be poor and to stay poor.
Much of the Philippine diet is something I would consider garbage. I'm not only judging from pictures she has sent me, I've eaten at the Philippine Community Center here. Absolute junk food, for the most part. Rice with sugar on it, little spring rolls with sugar on it and really sweet drinks. Her family have all had dental issues because of it and diabetes is rampant. Huge reliance on rice and sugar seem to be the main culprits. When I first asked how she would feel about not eating rice very often, the concept was completely foreign. But there are many foods she prefers over rice, but couldn't afford them. I took my mother to a Chinese restaurant last week and that was the first time I've eaten rice in probably 2 months. When I told her about this, she was shocked. How is it that I didn't starve to death, if there was no rice? I'm not going to try to prevent her from eating rice, but there will always be many, much better choices available. When she was a kid, rice wasn't available very often, because she's from a spot where the ground doesn't hold water. So they relied on coconuts and sweet potatoes for their starch. Both items are nutritionally superior to rice. She grew up believing that rice was a very healthy thing to eat and that they were greatly deprived in having to eat sweet potatoes and coconuts. After talking to several people, I've pretty much determined that knowledge of what is actually good for people to eat, is not universal. They are concerned with quantity, as anyone who has gone hungry would be.
That has been a major issue with her on a few occasions and a really major issue for some of her friends. They have gone hungry, sometimes for days. And I wonder if that experience has led to some of the very short-term thinking that seems prevalent. So, the idea of food not being one of life's major expenses, is also beyond her experience. She worked on a food cart when she was 12 years old, and got quite chubby, because she seized the opportunity to put on weight, after going through a very lean time. I have never gone hungry. The worst that has happened to me is I've missed a few meals when I got really busy working. Her brother went hungry to the point where he had to go on psychiatric medicine for a while. It really messed him up. For those who have been reading since the beginning, she was in a terrible job where they stopped paying her completely but she continued to work there, because it's a place that included somewhere to live and food. To me, that is slavery. I arranged for her to leave that place and they threatened to report crimes that she has not committed, in order to hold her there. Food can be a weapon to control people, under the right circumstances.