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21st Century Lesbian Trailer Trash

These are the mad musings of a middle aged woman, dyke, nurse, poet. I have a dog, a cat, a mobile home, and delusions of grandeur.

Location: California, United States

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

When Filipinas Cook

I'm drinking Starbucks Gold Coast blend this morning because I needed a strong jolt to wake me up. My birthday was great. But I was forced to eat so much food that I had trouble falling asleep. I ended up taking something and didn't wake up until 0830.

So what am I still doing here? Well, I just haven't had a break in several months now and my body is screaming:

"Bitch! Don't you do that to me. Hear?"

So I am moving as fast as I can but that means a break between brushing my teeth and getting in the shower. Then I have to decide if I have the muscle power to wash my hair.

I truly did not have one drop of alcohol to celebrate the day.

The department managers took me to the Olive Garden for lunch where I pigged out on soup, salad, and breadsticks.

Later on, in the early evening, the nurses threw a little surprise party for me with a huge feast that included pansit, menudo, cassava cake, custard, a melon punch, and a 7 layer bean dip. Of course I had to pig out again because I learned, early on in my nursing career that when a Filipina offers you food, you don't refuse.

When I first arrived at my facility 3 years ago, all of my nurses were white except for one black nurse. This is remarkable in southern California. I spent my entire career here being in a minority among large populations of Philipino nurses.

It was a difficult marriage. In my natural state, I tend to be far too aggressive, open, and blunt to suit the tastes of the average Philipino. But as the years passed and as I adapted, I came to find that I had some dear friends within that community. Because when you have won the respect of a Philipino nurse, and if you never cause them to lose face, you will have an ally for life.

Josie is one such nurse. I worked with her when she was a nursing assistant in a home care agency and right away I knew she was special. Like many Filipina nursing assistants, she was a baccalaureate RN in her country. And it took her almost 20 years while raising her family to regain that status here in the United States.

I happened to help her secure her first job as a licensed nurse here in San Diego. And when she passed the RN board last year, I immediately hired her on as my assistant.

Josie is the one who made sure that we had a baby shower for our pregnant nurse. She arranged my surprise party and cooked a huge amount of food for the pot luck. She stayed up until midnight Monday night then arrived at her other job yesterday morning at 7 a.m. They are in the midst of State survey right now.

She had a very bad day. She called me to ask me to wait for her and then ranted into the phone. "I'm so piss off!" she screamed into her cell phone. I couldn't understand the whole story but it seems she felt horribly betrayed by a Filipina supervisor at this other job.

Another thing I have learned about her culture is that if you are in any way a maverick, you can be ostracized by the community at large. And even if you aren't entirely comfortable with the whole of your culture, most of us don't want to be told that we cannot go home anymore.

So here's my friend at one of the lowest points in her career when she realizes that she has been set up by one of her own.

What could I do but stay and eat the food that she so lovingly prepared? On a full stomach I gorged some more. Which is why I was still tossing and turning at 1 a.m.

But it made Josie happy. And that my friends, is a small price to pay.


Blogger Pat Kirby said...

Not quite on the subject, but my lunchtime is approaching and ...this posting made me hungry.

Tummy grumble.

10:05 AM PDT  
Anonymous nelle said...

A very small price to pay, and a wonderful post... thank you for sharing.

6:55 PM PDT  
Blogger just me said...

It sounds as though you are as good as a friend as she.

10:16 AM PDT  
Blogger NursePam said...

LOL Pat! I still have some cassava cake in my frig. Want some?

Thanks for the compliments Nelle and Just Me :o)

10:47 AM PDT  
Blogger Sharon said...

Umm, umm, yummy, I love pancit. Next time send some over my way. Oh god... now what am I going to do?

6:07 PM PDT  
Blogger NursePam said...

Pancit is pretty good if the right person makes it Honeysuckle. Happy to send you some. But when she makes me my lumpia, I'm not sharin' ;^)

10:03 AM PDT  
Blogger Sangroncito said...

I love this post!
Cultural differences are tricky. You dance through them beautifully.
And you write beautfully, too.

3:32 PM PDT  
Blogger Sandra said...

Hey! Happy Birthday! It sounds lovely. Nice post. You are a good friend!

12:34 AM PDT  
Blogger NursePam said...

Thanks Sangro for the lovely compliments. My dance with cultural differences has not been easy but it has great rewards.

How sweet of you to say Sandra. Thank you :o)

7:54 AM PDT  

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