The nuns who stayed at my parents' house in Glenview this fall (along with something like half their convent) came to sing Christmas carols at my Ama's (grandmother's) house last night. Afterwards my Ama fed everybody halo-halo and puto, and something whose name I forgot but it was pounded rice filled with sticky sweet bean paste (no, not mochi, something else, I've had it before).

This was followed by a trip to Mandaluyong to see the Christmas lights of the friend of my Ko-tiu (the Fookien word for "husband of my father's eldest sister"), which was followed by a trip to the restaurant of this friend, where we consumed bowls of soup, fried rice topped with saffron eggs, crispy fried rolls stuffed with shrimp and century egg, fish, stewed beef, homemade misua (noodles), puto bumbong, bibingka, lecheflan, four-seasons drink, and... I'm forgetting things, but even when trying to take the tiniest possible portions of each (delicious) dish, I was stuffed.

When I woke up today and went to the kitchen to get a mango, I was chastised for missing lunch. I protested that I had eaten a large dinner, and the following conversation ensued.

"Your Auntie Lily will be over to pick us up and we are going for dinner."
"Ah, okay, I'll just have the mango then. When?"
"I don't know, maybe 7 o'clock (1 hour from now)."
"Then I'll just have the mango, I don't want to get too full."
"No, no, Lorna cooked kare-kare for you, and you sleep so you do not eat it!"
"I can eat it later, I'm still kinda full from yesterday, and we're going to eat dinner soon..."
"Lorna cooked it just for you!"
"Okay, maybe just a little. Just... just a little!" (as a full-sized portion is placed in front of me)
*eating, appreciative noises*
"And the tuna fish I give you! Lorna make you sandwich for this morning but you are sleeping so you do not eat!" (as Lorna places the large sandwich in the toaster)
"But... the... aren't we going to dinner in... less than an hour...?"
"You remember the tuna fish?"
"Yes, I remember it, it was delicious, but I-"
"This is same fish! Very good! You eat!"
"It's all very good, but I cannot eat so much food all at once!" *sees look* "It... is delicious, I will eat it. Mmmm. Thank you!"

I ended up grabbing a book ("How To Speak And Write," an old Reader's Digest volume - it was either that or "ARTHRITIS: THE CONQUEST!") while powering through the kare-kare and sandwich; if I'm fully aware of every bite I'm taking, I can't put that much food into my body without feeling sick. Distract my brain a little bit with essays about the Latin American influence on American English, though, and I can eat a lot... and my co-workers back in the States wonder how I managed to obtain such an appetite. (Answer: Chinese family.)

Trying to get through POSSE Doha stuff and grad school applications before we get picked up for dinner, but needed to braindump here first or I'll power through that and maybe not stop working for a long, long time. Food and family are somewhat linked in my mind; I love Filipino food, and miss it when I can't have it - I do crave puto bumbong in Raleigh, I often wish for diniguan, I make kaldereta from a powdered mix trying to mimic the real thing. But I crave it in small doses, one at a time. A single bowl of sinigang. And then that's all. Perhaps the next week, a piece of polveron. But when it all comes at you in an uncontrollable tidal wave, it's overwhelming.

Likewise with family - I love my family, and they're intense. It's either 0 or 24/7; there's no in-between, there's no way around the fact that they want all of me! and so the way I would do that was (is?) compartmentalization: upon visiting my family, my friends knew that they basically wouldn't see or hear from me until I got back, except via messages I managed to get into my blog. I turn on some parts, turn off other parts, and it's all right - I can be here in this context. But the cost is a switching-on-and-off that I am not convinced is actually a good thing to do.

I struggle with this concept: I'm one person who goes between a lot of different contexts. I behave differently in each context, as each place I visit is different and has different expectations. But do I change who I am, compartmentalize parts of who I am, when I switch contexts? Would my family recognize me at work, would my friends recognize me when I'm with my family? Do I get to decide which context to be in and when, and can I keep a clearing and a middle ground for myself that I can go back and stand in anytime I want, without insulting anybody? Clearly I can't be all things to all people all the time - but then I am not sure where that leaves me.

So now I take the time to think about this, and decompress, and do work and apply to grad school and sleep and... there are only so many hours in the day and I want more of them. Not more hours in the day necessarily, but both the courage and the kindness to control the ones I have. I still have 24 hours every day, and I still decide my actions during those 24 hours... it's just harder to make the same sorts of choices in a different environment, with different options.

And this confusion is what I block out when I just jump into work and Get Stuff Done.