We Must Bear All (2)

I received an email from my son’s former girlfriend detailing a very messy situation in which he’s clearly at fault and I have to do my best about this situation without any phone numbers or connection with my former wife, who lives in the same community.

My elder brother, who handled our legacy well, has nonetheless directed my emails to the spam queue now that all issues have been resolved, probably because I necessarily sound snotty and superior having a radically different form of life. Or maybe it’s just an accident.

Moral, don’t be verbose in the sense of perfect grammar, good orthography, and basic courtesy which causes you to hedge your claims with subordinate clauses. You’ll frustrate people in the USA who today want TV lives.

I was hoping for an ongoing long-distance relationship with my brother since like me, and thanks to our late father’s unwillingness to buy a TV in the early 1950s, his brain was formed before TV. Al Gore seriously speculates whether the ease in which Fox and other outlets spew lies is due to the effect of television during critical early years. He liked my post on the Union and agrees with me on the neo-Secesh, and wrote a recent letter to the editor supporting infrastructure despite the wishes of “gentleman farmers”.

He’s a good and thorough writer like our Dad was…when I was caring for Dad and Dad was working part-time as a physician, he’d drive medical student assistants crazy by insisting they write clear and grammatical reports on patients.

But apparently this is not to be.

I tried to make my sister a Facebook friend, asking her to be supportive as I would be of her. But after two days, I realized that the hatred, anger and bitterness from our upbringing, competing for love and recognition from Don and Betty Draper, the creatures my wonderful and idealistic parents of 1950 had become by 1960, made such a relationship impossible.

I won’t even ask for the Facebook “friendship” of one of my oldest friends and he has not asked for mine. This is because we get on fine in person, or on the phone. But he had language difficulties because he escaped from Russia, and while he as my client was more than willing to use my skills in computer consulting, when we exchange written comments we seem to come to written blows because he so resents my manner of expressing myself.

So, like Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, “I have more in common with these gooks than my own ungrateful family”, or friends back in the USA.

I’d hoped to use electronic media to maintain connection. But people have a Platonic instinct. They dismiss Facebook as secondary, pernicious and even evil in comparison to meeting for coffee, just as Plato (while relying on writing) kind of hated it.

Facebook as writing deconstructs the basic binary opposition we not only make in childhood, between people worthy of being friends and “nerds”, but also in later life where for a perfectly good reason, we judge people using superficial markers. You wind up friends with an office nemesis from Silicon Valley in the 1980s and it is kind of weird.

Yet in my case, the issues, for example, between myself and a former Silicon Valley nemesis are truly moot and I can, very casually, see what’s going on in his life many years later. None of my former coworkers in the Valley are all that financially successful so envy doesn’t play a role. Most of the women, who were young, hard charging and dynamic back then are either retired sweet old ladies or else operating small businesses as consultants in human relations, or as therapists.

Most people who were in Silicon Valley (as I was) in the early 1980s to buy a house (as I wasn’t) bought that house but suffered greatly in the crash and many are now saddled with negative equity as I am not. The people I knew in Manhattan who bought smallish condos located near Central Park but on the west side have sold those condos, luckily, I think, before the crash, and moved away to smaller cities.

And we’re all getting old. I have some sort of pinched nerve, I think, which results in pain, not during a run, but after, that comes and goes and isn’t associated with impact or use. It probably results from twisting my back in Sydney’s airport, and converting from a lightweight HP Mini to a Mac Powerbook with DVD: because Steve Jobs insisted that the Powerbook have an aluminum casing, it’s rather heavy and I wish I’d gotten the Air with a separate drive.

I can swim instead of run, but while there are public pools in Hong Kong, on my island there are only secluded beaches and a slightly dirty sea. But if John Quincy Adams could swim in the Potomac year round I can surely swim in the South China Sea.

“We must bear all. O hard condition…” – Shakespeare, Henry V


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