Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Joads, three generations later

I went to the "Brothers and Sisters" party on Saturday up in the CV (Central Valley) and it was indescribably fun. My aunt calls the party the Brothers and Sisters because it is her siblings and their kids that come to the thing.  Other than the two that died (including Hippie Artist of course.)

I come from some seriously sturdy stock.  By sturdy, I mean hard workers.  Here is a picture of most of the family (excluding the recently out of the woodwork aunt, the two deceased, and the current family hermit):

See a sample of a couple of cousins below.  I heart them.  First cousins, though I am 10 years older than the oldest, I really enjoy hanging out with them.

The kid on the right is an architect in SF.  He is actually getting all SFd out by losing some weight and wearing expensive shades.  And the black clothing of course.  He and I had a conversation about how we have never had a job where our hands got really dirty.  Yet my uncles have all lived long and hard laboring lives.  To them, 12 hours in a hot moving truck, with hot asphalt, or digging ditches for 8 hours in the sun is just a day's work.

My generation is soft.  What would we do if someone threw us into a truck and said "hey go work in the hot Central Valley sun for 8 hours" ?

We would all melt away.

While we were chatting about this hard-working paradigm of our elders, lounging in chairs and listening to stories of my uncle's prison record, where were my aunts?  In the kitchen cleaning up.  And by the time I offered up any help, the work was complete.

Our idea of a hard day's work is sitting in a chair and talking on the phone for 12 hours.  We might have a headache when finished, but we bear no calluses and have exerted no muscles.

And I wonder if my aunts and uncles and second cousins think of us as lazy.

Or maybe my generation IS the American Dream. My grandparents migrated across the country during the dustbowl farming along the way so that their children could own homes and their grandchildren could rub elbows with the middle class, maybe even BE middle class.

So while I commiserate with cousin Jay about figuring out how to work the Droid, and wonder with cousin Bernice about the political direction the country is taking, we have fulfilled the vision of what it means to be an American.

And may we endeavor to have even lazier children.


  1. Is that what sturdy stock means? You may wanna rethink that terminology.

    And we aren't LAZY. We just have to work and suffer in different ways. Eye strain and carpal tunnel syndrome are REAL.

  2. I love these reflective posts. And I love your cousins too, even though I've never met them. I will trade you your Central Valley cousins for my Rally to Restore Sanity cousins.

  3. I thought you understood already....we've adopted you in officially as a Jeppson. We voted and everything.