Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fighting myself in the new year

To celebrate the Lunar New Year, my father's friend, Uncle invited me to join his family for dinner over the weekend. He lives nearby and has been trying to invite me over for several years. This is the first time I was available.

When I was a toddler, I used to play with his daughter, who is one year older. I remember watching old slide shows and wondering who the little girl was standing next to me at this park. We haven't met since those days when both families were in the Midwest.

I thought that it was just going to be eating with the family. It concerned me that dinner would feel intimidating and awkward. Still, I felt it somewhat of an obligation since it is a my father's good friend. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was a larger group. There were other "kids" invited who's fathers went to school with Uncle or are neighbors. Our ages probably ranged from 26 to 37. We were strangers, linked by a parental six degrees of separation.

Feminist is the daughter. She and her now husband were together 11 years before they married. My mother thought Feminist was uncomfortable marrying Orange because he isn't Chinese. What I learned is that she simply didn't feel it necessary to conform to the expectations of society. It had nothing to do with her commitment to Orange. When someone asked why they finally did marry, she said the influence of her family changed her mind, though she didn't expand on the exact reasons. Hearing all this made me realize how skewed my mother's conclusions about people can be and that I should be careful in presenting and accepting opinions.

AussieMBA and SDTeach are high school classmates and neighbors of the son, LowInc. It was slow to make conversation at first. Thank goodness for food. When two brothers arrived, I naturally took notice of them. Part of me wondered if there was some setup involved though how could Uncle know whether I was single. The taller of the two wore glasses, Disorganized, appeared slightly more attractive and seemed more outgoing. The brother, Emerald, seemed average and turned out to be pretty quiet. His face seemed familiar, maybe I've seen his picture on a dating website in the past. Disorganized turned out to be the younger brother.

Naturally, the conversations began by asking each other about our professions and where we live. Feminist is very active in her academic pursuits and Asian-American ideals. She was dressed in a fashionable yet eccentric wearing an overlength, fitted tee that had bell sleeves over another t-shirt and fitted pants. Her black-rimmed glasses gave her that intellectual look.

The brothers are both physicians. Feminist grew up with them as her neighbor in NY. She hadn't seen them since secondary school and was curious to hear about them. Both are more recent transplants to California (past 2-3 years). Their older brother still lives in NY. As she inquired more about them, I got the sense that they haven't developed many friends or resources here. I would imagine their busy schedules don't allow for much time to socialize like I do.

Part of me was naturally curious about the younger brother given he was more sociable and attractive. Another part of me felt wary of lavishing too much attention towards the guys. Growing up, there has always been that image of the ideal boy to match up daughters with - a doctor being one of the biggest trophies among mothers. I think part of me shies away from these types because of my mother. Ah, rebellion. I've seen her swoon over other perceived "good catches." I can't stand the idea of my mother boasting to all her friends about me dating a doctor even though she knows nothing about him. It's a real struggle within myself because I want my mother to approve and yet I don't want to conform to her expectations. Do I end up sabotaging myself because of her?

I, myself, fear wanting to date a doctor more for what he makes than who he is. Financial security is a nice thing, but I worry about putting that before other things or allowing the fact to compensate for a personality flaw that I normally might not put up with. I'd love to be able to afford to be a stay-at-home mother for those early years. Judging someone on paper facts is natural, but I don't like that it can cloud my judgement.

Another reason I tend to be skeptical of dating doctors is because they are doctors. Besides the potential for cockiness and related personalty quirks, they're just plain busy people. This is probably more of an issue to me than anything else. They are controlled by their schedules and patients, not the other way around. Then again, maybe it'd all be alright because I like having some time to myself. It would take a lot of communication and patience to live with the unpredictability and inflexibility.

Basically, I did my best to treat them as I did other people. SDTeach was the one who showcased them a bit. She's really into "Grey's Anatomy" and was curious to hear about the real life of doctors. She asked the guys if anything from the show is like their work. The brother chuckled at the question. Both have heard of the show but never really watched it. From what they'd heard, they explained that their work is much more boring and routine than anything on tv. Still, she continued to ask questions about what types of illness they see and the interactions they have with their staff. She wanted to know if it's true that doctors have close relationships with their nurses, though nothing like all the sex we see on the show. It was amusing to see her so intrigued and curious.

Her job and stories were actually much more interesting. SDTeach works with high-risk teenagers. She's taught at juvenile hall. It's always impressive to hear about people who are willing to risk themselves and thrive on working with trouble youth. I can't imagine she looks that tough and authoritative and yet she manages to generate respect among the kids.

The evening went pretty well. People slowly broke off into different conversations as the night progressed. At one point, Disorganized sat on the same couch as me. When he found out where I live, he asked for recommendations on where he might look for a place to buy. I racked my brain and suggested this new development that would be a good location between where he works and where he likes to hang out.

All seemed to be going well until I made one out of place comment. After describing the housing development, I cautioned that the condos could be a bit pricey. I should have left it there. But then, as usual, my mouth accelerated past my common sense circuits and said, "but you're a doctor so you should be fine." That seemed to cool the conversation a bit. OOPS, oh well. (I really need to learn to NOT think aloud.)

It was getting late, so I said my thanks yous and goodbyes. Feminist said that she'd collect everyone's e-mails and keep us all in touch with each other. Alas, she's never shared everyone's e-mails. It's seems she's keeping them for herself. I don't know if I actually want anything from either of the brothers. Maybe I'm just disappointed that I don't seem to generate much attention from guys in general. It was nice to meet some new people. I hope that maybe Feminist and I can become better acquainted though I'm not sure how much we have in common.

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