Phone Home

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There are so many different ways to measure distance, more than just in terms of time zones, travel time, and travel distance. Furthermore, there are even more ways that these different measures of distance combine to distort, amplify or even diminish physical distance. There are airplanes, phones, and emails that diminish physical distance. I can’t even fathom what it was like for my great grandparents when they left their families to emigrate to the U.S., never to see their family members or hear their voices ever again.

Luckily, I don’t have that problem. I go home at least twice a year, something that is an essential necessity for my own sanity. Nevertheless, I do experience the distance all the time. For example, I only speak with my parents about once a month. This has nothing to do with a lack of affection. Fortunately, I don’t need to speak with my family everyday to know that I am important to them. I just know it. But there are also real, concrete reasons why speaking on the phone is complicated.

The obvious reason is the six hour time difference between Madrid and Washington, DC. But this time difference is enhanced by other cultural factors. In the Spanish Mama Boy Society and workplace, it is very commom (sometimes even painfully common to witness) for people to engage in personal phone calls while at work. Sure, I understand, in Spain people are at work literally all day long (from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm), and therefore often take the liberty of tending to personal matters during the work hours. In the U.S this simply doesn’t happen. You work at work. You are not supposed to make or receive personal calls, and if so, they should be held to the bare minimum.

So imagine: my parents don’t get home until at least 7:00pm in the evening. That is 1:00am in Madrid, and by that time (unlike Spaniards), I am already in la-la land sleeping it off. Of course, I could call them say around midday in Spain (meaning first thing in the morning on the East Coast), but that would cost me a fortune. International calls from a mobile phone are pretty pricey over here. In other words, there really is no good time of the day for me to call or for them to call me (even though, hint hint, they can call me at work without anybody thinking I have an umbilical detachment disorder).

So although I can often get around this problem by calling them on the weekend, it is rather difficult to call during the week, especially when you just want to say “Happy Birthday”. Also, my parents don’t like to answer the home phone, and usually don’t answer it … “it’s probably just another telemarketer”.

But if I really feel like talking to my mom, I call her cell phone or communicate via email. With my father it is more difficult because he doesn’t use email (her prefers writing in long hand) and he doesn’t use his cell phone. Plus, I misplaced his work number.

At the end of the day, there are only three possibilities: call and leave a message, write a blog post, or both. Yesterday, I called and left a message. And today, I am writing a post, so I don’t want to hear that “nobody writes the colonel” (which I happened to finish reading on Friday).

And here’s the post:

Happy Birthday!

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8 Comments

Filed under Friends / Family

8 responses to “Phone Home

  1. Buah! I really enjoy reading some of your posts! You really know how to write!
    I have to say that this entry is the story of my life… except worse. WAY worse. When you have on the other side of the world your girlfriend instead of your parents, somethings change a little bit… Lots of phone calls. I’ve managed to call from my cell to her cell for only 2cents/minute, though…
    Cuando el hambre aprieta, se agudiza el ingenio, que dicen! 😉

  2. eric

    You only enjoy reading “some” of the posts. I am sure I know which ones you don’t enjoy — books and jazz?

    Well, thanks for reading and for the compliment. Maybe one day there will be freedom when there is WiFi everywhere and I can dedicate myself to writing something more significant.

  3. Uncle had a birthday again? I would figure at his age, they just gave up counting …

    It would likely take a supercomputer to calculate his age at this point … something using teraflops and hundreds of megawatts.

    Tell him to say hi! to Methuselah for me!!!

  4. TheCommentKiller

    Uncle Louie reads the blog on a daily basis, so i am sure he’ll get the message. In some cultures with age comes respect. And with his genes and work-out regime, i doubt he’ll be saying hello to Methuselah for the next 30+ years, so don’t hold your breath. Anyway.

  5. Well, that’s good that he reads daily, important for maintaining lucidity and higher brain functions.

    Hopefully, considering his wealth of experience, and his notorious ability to hurl a well placed barb, he already knows I was poking fun at him, purely for levity. It’s something you do when you geniunely like/admire a person, or perhaps because they are family …. (My own father suffers the same manner of “invective” at any instance I see fit … and has nothing to do with respect or lack thereof.)

    Pretty sad when things get so “sensitive” you have to explain a bit of humor.

    Maybe you need a friend? Or a beer? Maybe those pink thongs are pinching you today? Got issues, need tissues? Sheeeeeeeeeeeesh

    LMMFAOROTFL, don’t worry cousin, some day I will learn to accept the social pretense on your terms …. oh wait, no I won’t. LMAO.

  6. TheCommentKiller

    just trying to give you the heads up that Uncle Louie reads the blog daily (as does C-Nap). I figured it was a joke that you would likely say to his face. I was not trying to censor you in any way (“terms”). No blog related stress on my end, but i could always use more friends and (cheap)alcohol. I don’t think I transmit sarcasm and tone so well electronically. I have to work on my e-sarcasm.

  7. Eric said I should differentiate my name to avoid spam .. see if this works.

    E-sarcasm denoted by last part of internets comment as

    [/sarcasm] (people also do this via email.)

    Friends? Ewwww, hominids in close proximity with overextended expectations, no thanks.

    Birra? Ewwww, no thanks, smells like hominids in groups.

    [/partial sarcasm]
    (sort of)
    (maybe)
    (in a manner)
    (partial tongue in cheek)
    (well, not exactly)
    (kind of)
    (nevermind)
    [/excuses]

  8. TheCommentKiller

    LOL, classic

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