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May 7, 2013
Today is Katie’s birthday. I left her a nice card with an Amazon gift card next to her purse when I left for work this morning.
Since she and Juan are getting married, I think I need to update her listing in the Cast page. What do you think?
Photo by むぅ[Sakura Mutsuki] at http://www.flickr.com/photos/36990317@N02/3407324690/.
May 1, 2013
In case I forgot to mention this: Juan and Katie are getting married. Looks like they’re going to pick a date in the height of Summer: sometime late July or early August.
This is a good thing. He proposed more than a year ago. We knew that when he made it back home he was going to be getting married soon. And Katie has been dieting (we guess, to look good in the dress).
Having said all of that, I know that there are going to be skirmishes. In fact, they’ve already begun.
Juan isn’t going to have a religious ceremony. I don’t merely mean that he’s not having a Catholic wedding, which he’s not. What I mean is that he’s not having a religious ceremony at all. He and Katie are planning to just go to the Justice of the Peace (alone) then have a reception (with guests).
My mother isn’t pleased. Arianna isn’t pleased. Linda is remaining quiet. And I think he should just do whatever he wants. (I’m not sure I’m going to voice that opinion too loudly, especially near my mother.)
But that’s just the first of many many discussions that will erupt. This is Katie’s wedding, and her Mom’s. I’m wondering how my mother will react to the fact that her role in this wedding is going to be minimal (as my sisters’ mothers-in-laws were).
And the story will continue…
Photo by Nuno Duarte at http://www.flickr.com/photos/nunoduarte/2721073840/.
Apr 2, 2013
“Mommy, I know God didn’t make everything,” my nephew David states (seemingly out of the blue) to my sister as they ride home from Tae-Kwon-Do class.
My sister Arianna is seated in front of the car and trying to drive without crashing into the other hundred or so parents also leaving the neighborhood center where the class is offered. She can’t turn around and look at his face to figure out where he’s going with this. All she can do is glance at him through the rearview mirror.
“What do you mean, baby?” she asks him, hoping to get some clarification on what he’s thinking. With David, figuring out his thought process is the challenge and the fun of talking with him.
My sister is determined to raise him Catholic. My brother-in-law Tomas is non-religious in the most basic way: while he believes in God (theoretically) his family never attended church services or became “attached” to any religion in particular. He has no strong affiliations. Arianna, however, was raised Catholic from back when we still attended Mass every Sunday, so she wants her son to have the same experience. That’s one of the reasons why she put him in a Catholic school for Pre-Kindergarten. When it came time to choose private schools (we absolutely don’t qualify for any of the free options) she ended up at a “Saint” something or other.
David did not enjoy Mass… but that’s a conversation for another post.
“God didn’t make everything,” he repeats, as if this should be evident to her. His six-year-old mind frequently cannot grasp why the things that are “obvious” to him require explanations for the rest of us. He’s got that eye-roll and frustrated huff down to a science.
“Of course he did,” my sister counters. And she proceeds to tell him that God made the earth and the people, etc., etc.
He doesn’t let her finish. “All my toys say ‘Made in China.’ So I know he didn’t make my toys.” Saying this he waves one of the toys in question, reading the label on it.
And my sister had one of those flabbergasted moments of silence that’s become commonplace when interacting with her son.
She regrouped and explained, or tried to explain, what “everything” means when talking about “God made everything,” but she never changed his mind that that statement excluded his toys. “Maybe he made everything but toys,” he decided.
Cathecism class is going to be interesting.
* * *
Mar 30, 2013
We’d been there for more than an hour, nearly two, when she casually turned to me and said, “Did I tell you that my husband and I broke up?”
I turned to her, startled. My eyes big, my face frozen, I silently shook my head in response.
Her words were nearly drowned out by the noise in the room. We had been sitting in a sports bar with an important soccer game blaring from what seemed like 200 big screen televisions. The crowd was rowdy, especially two hours in. We’d all had a few cocktails by that point. And the game had been especially frustrating.
Still, she spoke quietly enough that the other friends at the table didn’t hear her, just me. I was to find out shortly that the others knew already, had known. I was the last to find out in our little group.
Her timing was beautiful. In that crowded, noisy room I couldn’t give her the third degree that would normally follow that pronouncement. I couldn’t ask her when it happened, what pushed her to make the decision, how he took it. I couldn’t ask her how she was handling it, where she was living (did he move out or did she), or how her family was reacting to the news. I couldn’t force her to answer tough questions.
I think that was the point.
She told me, in brief sentences, the bare basic details. And that will have to do, for now. I expect that, down the road, we will actually talk about this. But it’s not going to be anytime soon.
I’ve known her for nearly 20 years. One of the few friends I’ve kept from college, some years we are closer than others. I attended her father’s funeral and held her up during the funeral of her best friend. But I wasn’t at her wedding. I wonder now, five years later, if it was just that that was one of those years we weren’t that close, or if it was just the beginning of a long pattern that ended in tonight’s pronouncement.
Thinking about it, about the timing and the fact that she didn’t tell me until she literally had to (because someone else might have) I start to put things together. She’s been impossible to get this year. I’ve tried in vain many times to schedule a lunch or brunch. She’s busy busy busy, and never proposed alternate dates. But that’s happened before. Sometimes we go months and months between offline conversations, so I hadn’t given it too much thought. Now I know, though, that she was acquiring a new situation.
She’s told me, many times, that she and her husband have been together a decade. They’ve been married for half that time. In all those years I can count in single digits the times I’ve met him. I used to tease her that he was imaginary. The imaginary husband that’s only real in photos and hazy recollections. And we would both laugh.
The truth is that, for me, the pattern of what a marriage is comes from those within my immediate family. My mother, my sisters all have very traditional, old-fashioned marriages. They are a couple and rarely do things apart. If one attends an event, it’s more likely that they’ll both be there.
That’s not the case with my friends. Most of my friends have separate lives, separate friends from their spouses. They spend time apart and it’s not considered odd.
But, truthfully, not many of my friends are actually married. At least, not many of my close friends.
And so, I had a non-conversation about a pending divorce with a bar scene in the background.
* * *
Feb 2, 2013
Ever since my illness a few weeks ago, when I was house-bound because I was literally too sick to go out, I’ve been obsessing over something that never bothered me before: I don’t have a family of my own.
Don’t misunderstand me. I have siblings, my mother, and friends — all of whom give me support when I need it. But I never married and I never had children. Now one of those doors is closed forever.
I might still marry. One of my grandmother’s sisters got married a few years ago. Seventy eight years old and marrying her third husband. So I guess time never actually runs out on you. But I’m never going to have kids of my own.
I didn’t write very much about this last year, or in the year leading up to it, but one of the major things that happened was that I had a hysterectomy. It was the month before my 41st birthday. It was not a surprise, we scheduled it months in advance and I knew it was coming for almost a year before the actual surgery.
This is not a post about the surgery, but about what the surgery means: that door is closed.
When I told my mother that I was going to have a hysterectomy, her first reaction was to tell me that I was too young. She never mentioned children, or my lack thereof and I’m grateful for that. Everybody else did. They still do — random nurses, friends of friends, people I meet who find out for whatever reasons — they all have the same reaction.
I never saw myself as a mother. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that my family commitments mean that I feel like I’ve raised my family. I didn’t yearn for motherhood the way many of my friends did and still do. I didn’t mourn the children I never had.
But I’m getting older. And I’m alone. As my health deteriorates, as I spend more time trying to medicate myself into wellness, I do wonder who will help me when I need it.
Even if I had had children, there was never any guarantee that they would have taken care of me when I got sick, or old. But there was still a chance.
And I know, absolutely know, that that’s an avenue that’s not available to me. My nieces and nephews may love me, but they aren’t mine.
So I’ve been obsessing a little bit over the children I never had and wondering about the path not taken. And hoping that tomorrow stays away for a little bit longer.
***** Written on my ipad. I promise to proof and edit it later (maybe). ******
Jan 10, 2013
Have you read it?
An uncomfortable conversation
“Have you read that book?” my mother asked me, as a news story about Fifty Shades of Grey was ending. Considering the hype that book had gotten, I shouldn’t have been surprised at the question, but I was.
I looked into her face, trying to figure out why she had asked. My mother isn’t a reader. Her idea of entertainment does not include books. She has never, to my knowledge, expressed an interest in any of the bestsellers the media happens to be hyping up. She has absolutely never read one.
For most of my life she’s been happy to ignore the piles of books I accumulate, their titles and their topics. The only exception to that was when my pre-teen brother started to pilfer books from my bookcases. And, of course, he took things like The Joy of Sex and Sex for Dummies (the Dr. Ruth version). She asked me to put those books, and others like them, away. And that’s when I started to “hide” my questionable material.
It’s worth mentioning that that’s the only time my mother ever asked me why I had bought a particular book. And the only answer I gave her was a smile. She never asked again.
It’s also worth mentioning that it was my mother who got me started on Harlequin romances. In her defense, it was an accident, and a story I will tell better later.
“I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey,” I told her. I could have left it at that, but I didn’t want to mislead her. “It’s gotten bad reviews. I heard that it was badly written and not worth the read,” I explained. “I have other books like it, so I do read that kind of writing, just not that particular book.”
I was expecting follow-up questions, and I wasn’t disappointed. She asked me why the book was getting so much media, what made it so different. She asked me why they were making such a big deal about it if, as I stated, it wasn’t a unique book. And she asked me why it was selling so well if it was also getting such bad reviews. I honestly don’t remember my answers, but that it was a longer conversation that I would have liked.
She did ask what was in the book, what kinds of things, and I tried my best to answer. It was a weird conversation, the kind I can’t recall having since I was a teen myself, when I would ask her the hard questions and she would try her best to answer.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it
I’m not actually ashamed of my reading habits. I’ll own up to the things I buy, the things I read. But it’s kind of like knowing you eat a lot of chocolate, telling people you eat a lot of chocolate, then having someone add up in dollars and cents what you spent on candy bars this week and putting it on the bulletin board at work. It’s the truth, but it is a little embarrassing.
I don’t actively hide my books. I don’t have to. Not just because my brother doesn’t live with me, or pilfer my books these days (he doesn’t; I’m not sure if that’s because he doesn’t read for entertainment or because I stopped “stocking” the interesting books and he gave up). The reality is that most of my purchases of reading materials happens via Amazon, via the Kindle apps, so I carry hundreds of books in my purse. And no one ever sees what I buy.
However, the conversation with my mother followed closely by an article pondering what happens to your Amazon book collection when you die made me realize that there’s a very good possibility that someone in my family is going to go through the thousands of books I own and come across the… less mainstream ones. That’s not good.
I am going to have to assign someone to be responsible for making my Kindle library disappear if anything happens to me. Although I’ve told her that I do read those books, I never want my mother to check out what’s on my virtual bookshelf. It’s kind of appalling.
If I ever get around to writing a digital will, deleting all the books from my iPad and iPhone are going to be included in the “to do” list.
A shopping list of things to burn
So here’s my starter list for whoever takes up this task.
Any book with the word “slave” in the title. A few of them are Harlequins, and those should be okay, but I don’t want to take chances, so please just delete them all.
And, on the topic of Harlequins, some of the newer stuff would probably shock my mother and sisters, so let’s go ahead and delete all of those. I hate to leave that as an instruction. I started reading Harlequins the year I turned 13 while I was recovering from getting my tonsils removed. My mother bought a big bag of books from the dime store, without really knowing what was in them, and I worked my way through every title that summer. Included in them were Stephen King books, Harlequin romances, and really bad historical romances (from back when the writing still included rape as a common plot tool and “loose” women were killed off before the end of the book). But, this is to safeguard my “good” reputation, so let’s go ahead and delete them.
Anything written by Lorelai James. Enough said.
All books by Maya Banks. Even though some of her stuff isn’t that bad, just a little racy, I’m not leaving it up to others to make a distinction between the more intense erotica with alternative “couples” and the more mainstream stuff. Just delete them.
Any book with the word “three” in the title… and maybe even “four.” And don’t forget to look for the numerals in titles as well.
I hate to include the Lauren Dane books in the list of things to delete. Of the books I own in this genre, some of my favorites were written by Dane. Some are just really good romances with very well-written sex scenes. Some are a little bit more… well, more. Yeah, thinking about it, I really need to have these books deleted as well.
Any book written by Laurell K. Hamilton. What started out as a nice urban fantasy series is now just vampire porn (for the Anita Blake series). The Princess Meredith series was never anything but faery porn, so I don’t mourn the direction of the first books. And every book includes several orgy scenes of some kind, so let’s just delete them and be done with it.
OK, I think that should be a really good start. Of course, these are just the ones I remember owning, I haven’t started to get into the mainstream romance and historical romance books, many of which now have sex scenes with multiple partners and/or props. I’ll have to make a more comprehensive list later.
And that’s all she said today… at least about this.
***Disclaimer: some of the the links in this post are affiliates, that is I make money if you buy after clicking on them.***
***One more disclaimer: I have friends who have read Fifty Shades of Grey and gave it a good review.***
***Final disclaimer: the use of the word “smut” is me being facetious, making a point. Don’t read more into it than that.***
Dec 3, 2012
I don’t invite many people into my home. I meet friends and coworkers at restaurants, cafes, lounges, stores and offices. We get together at nice, public, neutral places. Places that don’t belong to me. Places for which I’m not responsible.
I spent a lot of years living in a full house. My mother and my brother moved in with me just after I graduated from college. And I became the head of household with all that that entails. Arianna moved in shortly after, with the pretext that she was going to help with the bills. After that there was never any room, never any privacy. I didn’t invite people over.
And many many years passed.
It was just a few years ago that I got my space back. A quaint, comfortable little apartment in the middle of town that was perfectly perfect. Big bedroom, big closets, and small living room and dining room. Just enough space for me. And not enough space for anyone else.
In the two years I lived there I only hosted two dinners: one for friends and one for family. Both were within a few months of moving in. Then I never did it again. I did bring a few friends in, casually, but that didn’t go well and it only reinforced my natural hermit tendencies.
If I invite you to come over to my place, it’s rude to just bring someone else without checking. It’s mean to tell me that the place is really small, “so cozy,” 50 different ways in a condescending tone. It’s hurtful to tell me that I’m wasting my money on rent and should be a grown up and buy a house.
If I invite you into my home, you should be a good guest.
I’ve lived in this new place for nearly a year and just this week had friends over for dinner. Not family, who are here frequently but I haven’t actually had over for a formal dinner, but friends.
Immediately after making the invitation i looked around and I worried. There were piles of shoes on the floor of my bedroom… my tiny bedroom that looks like the dorm-room of some college kid. There were piles of dishes sitting in the sink and stacks of mail on my coffee table. And I had a laptops and stacks of files on the dining room table.
And so I cleaned and organized and washed and got things settled. and then I worried… Did I clean the house well enough? Is everything organized? Will they like it? Did I get enough food? Did I get the right food? Etc., etc., etc.
In essence, what they think would matter. By inviting them over I was giving them the opportunity to judge me. And that’s what I was worried about.
My home is my safe space. Why would I invite you into my safe place if I don’t trust you?
***** Written on my ipad. I promise to proof and edit it later (maybe). ******
Aug 12, 2012
I’ve been on sick leave for weeks. I had a surgery that’s been planned for month and am recuperating under my mother’s watchful eye. I was on heavy painkillers for weeks, unable to take care of myself.
Slowly, I’ve been feeling better. I’ve gotten stronger. The pain has gone away. I am no longer on painkillers. I can go out, and, more importantly, I can drive. Last week I had my first post-operation outing without a member of my family.
I know, however, that to my youngest sister this process has taken longer than she anticipated. From the second or third week she’s inquired to my mother how long she intends to stay with me. She was somewhat baffled at the response that my mother intended to stay at my place until I returned to work.
It’s not that my sister is uncaring about my health, it’s just that if my mother is living at my place taking care of me she’s not living at my sister’s house and taking care of her son.
I am getting better because I am finally well enough to be asked to be chauffeur to my nephew. I don’t go back to work for a few more weeks, but am well enough to get around. I am well enough, in other words, to pull my weight.
I don’t have children. But I have sat through countless band performances, soccer games, choir recitals, and swim meets. I have sat through girl scout meetings, helped sell boxes of cookies, taken the troop caroling, and ensured that forms and dues were turned in on time. I have provided years of morning school drop-off duty — including picking up the snack of the day, making sure the kids had money, and often feeding them breakfast before the trip to school even began. I have gone on shopping trips for back-to-school clothes and supplies. I have taken sick children to the doctor’s office, picked them up earl from school, and taken them to work with me when other childcare options have failed. I have gone through orientation and background checks to get on the list of people allowed to access the kiddo’s private school. I have watched more animated and kids’ movies than I ever thought was possible.
Some of this required that I change work and personal plans. Some of this required that I write a check, participate in activities that had me suppressing yawns and sighs, and keep going long after I wanted to drop.
I am an involved aunt.
I have heard from some friends that this is not what happens in most families. But, what I’ve seen with my friends is that we all provide child-rearing support of some sort to our siblings, whether we have children ourselves or not. What that means for me is that I provide backup for my sisters. And I write that as I watch over my youngest nephew at my place. Did I mention that I’m feeling better?
***** Written on my ipad. I promise to proof and edit it later. ******
Nov 29, 2011
One of my best friends recently adopted a baby boy, and by “recently” I mean he’s about a month old. She and her husband went through an open adoption. They’ve been tring to have a child for years and have quite literally tried almost everything medically possible. Earlier this year they decided that it was time to look at adoption as a serious option and started the process.
Some other time I will write about the heart-wrenching steps involved in adoption, and the judgment she suffered from family, friends and coworkers. There’s not enough time today to get into all of that.
However, I have noticed that since she started the process and I learned so much about this, through her, I’ve seen adoption articles everywhere. Stories online, in print, on TV about adopting, about giving up a child for adoption, and about raising an adoptive child. I thought I’d share this one since it actually applied to me: “5 Ways to Support New Adoptive Families” in mamiverse. Here’s the short version:
- Before the new arrival comes home, drop by some meals that can be frozen and served for their first few days as a new family.
- In the family’s first few days home, resist calling too much… Then, once you are more regularly connecting, always call before you stop by.
- First and foremost, respect that the parenting experience in adoption is always unique and that the parents in that situation know the most about what to do.
- Offer to come over and give support to the parent—doing laundry, cleaning, mowing the lawn, etc.
- Ask questions. How are you doing? What can I do? What is going well? What’s hard? How can I be more helpful? What do you need? How was the journey? What have you learned? What helps? It is so nice to have a willing listener as you process the experience.
Read the entire article, these are great tips. It’s good to know I was doing one or two things right already.
Jul 7, 2011
Trans-America Journey has a great post with some tips on car trips in Mexico. I didn’t see anything here about safety, but there are some good points.
I would have added some info from the US Consulate in Mexico for information on taking your car into Mexico, etc. I might have mentioned don’t drive at night, stay on main roads, check in frequently, and let people know where you’re going. I also might add ‘DON’T GO unless you have to.”
But for those making the trip for the very first time, this is what was covered in the Trans-America post:
- Fuel is cheaper in Mexico than it is in the US
- There is only one gas station chain in Mexico
- All gas stations are full service in Mexico
- You can use a GPS in Mexico–sort of
- Better yet, buy a Guia Roji
- Pay Highway vs. Free Roads
- The Green Angels make AAA look like a racket
- Topes are a bitch
- Hoy no circula!
- Shakedown breakdown
- Mexicans are not bad drivers (they just have some wacky habits)
- Not all Mexican auto insurance is created equal
- You can’t beat a Mexican car wash