Sunday, August 19, 2007

August Happiness -- Sunday 19

Accomplishment! I can be a fabulously lazy old gal, and this weekend I've been unable to fight my slothful impulses. Until tonight! In burst of enthusiasm, I organized my one of my closets. It took over an hour and a glass of White Zinfandel, but it's done. I've got a couple pairs of slacks and lots and lots and LOTS of hangers for Goodwill. (To borrow a lyric, "All the empty hangers, where do they all come from? All the empty hangers, where do they all belong?")

At least I'm honest with myself, and my blog

My teen years were rough. My parents' marriage was dissolving and because they unwisely chose to stay together for "the sake of the children," the children suffered. My older sister -- a year ahead of me in school -- handled it especially badly. She acted out by getting pregnant at least twice (accompanied by abortions) and becoming violent with my mother and me. However, as is the rule in my family, none of this was ever discussed. She was pretty and on the Honor Roll. To the outside world, she was The Good Daughter. And as always with my family, it's the outside world who's opinion mattered.

I was The Bad Daughter. Think Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club. I read Sylvia Plath, wore lumpy clothes, cut classes, listened to what my father called "African Mao-Mao Music" (meaning anything with a beat) and demanded to be left alone. If you didn't heed my warning and insisted on interacting with me, I spoke my mind. While I went to church regularly and kept my hymen intact, I was less presentable to the outside world, which within my family is the cardinal sin. I was not only disillusioned by the hypocrisy of it all (which seemed to mirror Wateregate and Viet Nam), I also felt personally assailed.

Through those rough times, my #1 ally was my Cousin Rose. A decade my senior, she made her own way in the world. Lived single and independent. Traveled the world. I poured out my heart to her in long letters, and she responded by visiting Chicago regularly and intervened on my part with my grandparents (and if you knew my maternal grandmother, you know that took guts). If it hadn't been for Rose, her understanding and her example, I could very easily have slipped into drugs.

Rose suffered an incredibly painful divorce about 10 years ago and it changed her. She is angry about how much she devoted to a man who could leave her so easily for another and she is bitter about having sacrificed her opportunity to have kids. She sustained the kind of body blow it's hard to bounce back from, and my heart goes out to her.

But I find it difficult to be around her. Little makes her happy anymore. Everything is too expensive or too stupid for her to invest her time in. Nothing much interests her, except for fantasy/sci-fi (Harry Potter, Star Wars) and fixating on her half-empty glass.

She's in town this week and we're spending Tuesday together. I booked us on a Lake Michigan cruise. I told her it's because I love my city so much and I want her to see it from a new angle. The reality is: (1) a cruise has a predetermined beginning and end, so if she starts getting on my nerves I can reassure myself it will be over soon and (2) it's a booze cruise, so I can anesthetize myself if need be.

It's not pretty, but it's the awful truth.

Unconscious Mutterings #7

I say ... and you think ... ?

  1. Darling :: "Oh, Darling!" (Beatles)
  2. Majesty :: "Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl …" (Beatles)
  3. Pebble :: Beach
  4. Fate :: Destiny
  5. Instant :: "Instant Karma's gonna get you" (John Lennon)
  6. Screen :: Play
  7. Unplugged :: MTV Unplugged
  8. Dairy :: Milk
  9. Benefactor :: Financial Help
  10. Market :: Wall Street
Wonder why my answers were so Beatle-related this week …

For more information, or to play yourself, visit Unconscious Mutterings.