Friday, August 20, 2010

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Welcome Back

1. Where were you the last time that someone welcomed you back? Absolutely nothing comes to mind. Isn't that sad?

2. Tell us who is you favorite non-family member to hang out with? My best friend. I'm both my most comfortable and my most engaged with him, and time flies.

3. What was the last thing that happened to anger you? My crazy old neighbor vandalized the washers and dryers ... again.

4. What was the last thing that you saw that was shocking to see? That people (OK, a friend of a friend on Facebook) actually believe Obama is a "Muslim traitor." I thought such people were an urban myth, like Bigfoot.

5. What is your favorite thing to do on Saturday besides Saturday 9? Nothing. I love being lazy on the weekends.

6. Have you had your summer vacation yet? If yes tell us about it. I don't take summer vacations. I take a spa trip (this year to Colonial Williamsburg) in the spring and visit friends in Key West between Christmas and New Year's. That gives me a perfect balance of pampering and partying.

7. Pick out one of your cousins and tell us about them. My poor Cousin Kathy. She is my uncle's only child, and his mental and physical disintegration must be very hard on her. I can't imagine being her position, and having to deal with the choices she has to make when it comes to dealing with an ailing parent while trying to be a good mother to her own sons.

8. Do you have any special plans for next week? Yet another trip to the dentist! Yea! I'm only being a little sarcastic. This dental work (all for a single, exceptionally troublesome cavity) has taken up entirely too much of my time, energy and money … since March! I hope that Tuesday's appointment is the last in the series.

9. At what age will you consider yourself old and why? Oooh, that's a tough one. Sometimes I feel older than Methuselah right now, and other times I feel like a kid.

August Happiness Challenge 2010 -- Day 20

They're Playing Our Song. In 1979, this was the big hit on Broadway, Marvin Hamlisch's followup to A Chorus Line. I loved it then but kinda forgot about it. Probably because it was never a movie and it's never enjoyed a big stage revival. Too bad, because it's quite charming. I was so happy to find this clip from that year's Tony Awards. Robert Klein is playing Vernon, a character clearly based on world-class geekatroid Marvin Hamlisch, and doing a wonderful job. And Lucie is a revelation. Sure, the 70s poodle perm makes her eyes look too close together and her dress looks like it was borrowed from Ann-Margret's nightclub act, but listen to her sing and watch her dance -- in heels! There's not a trace of Lucy Riccardo there. Maybe that disappoints people, but I think she was great.

Rediscovering Sonja and Vernon was like hooking up with old friends again. I got the CD from Amazon, and it makes me very happy.

Just pouring it out

This post has been bubbling up inside of me for a while now, and I'm just going to let it flow. Maybe getting it out of my system will help me feel cleansed inside.

First of all, I want to say that I love my mother very much. I also know that, since she's in her mid-70s and in compromised health, I won't have her that much longer. So I can't/won't talk to her about this. I don't want this poisoning our remaining time together.

When I was a little girl, I loved my Grandpa (my dad's dad) to distraction. I think it's because he loved me so much. There's something sublime about that kind of completely unquestioning love. I still remember how he smelled (like cigars and licorice lozenges). He died of a massive heart attack when I was in high school. He's been gone longer than I knew him, but I still miss him.

Those grandparents had one child still at home when I was growing up, my Aunt Jo, my godmother, about a decade my senior. My mother and my Aunt Jo never hit it off. Don't know why, exactly. It was just always there. Consequently I spent a lot of time over there as a kid with just my dad. Sometimes Aunt Joanne was there -- she'd take me miniature golfing and paint my toenails -- sometimes I'd just snoop around in her bedroom. She seemed quite glamorous to me. She'd doodle the name of her then-boyfriend (later husband) Bob on her desk blotter, had a framed photo of President Kennedy over her door and had a sloping ceiling over her bed, which gave it an especially cozy look.

Shortly before Grandpa died, Aunt Jo married Bob and they had a baby. My Grandma, now a widow, spent more and more time at our house and consequently I saw less and less of my Aunt Jo.

It's about this time that I was also molested by one of my relatives -- on my mother's side.

There. Now you have the cast of characters.

Recently my Aunt Jo has begun corresponding with me and my kid sister on Facebook. She's unemployed, lives in Florida with her second husband, and has a lot of time on her hands and is reaching out. I'm OK with being reached out to. At my request, she posted a treasure trove of photos of my Grandpa (her dad) and even one of me when I was tiny. In that shot I'm in her lap, we're in the backyard at my grandparents' house and I can barely make out the swing where I would spend so many happy hours in a few years. My aunt also sent me a family history that some distant cousin did -- it just arrived today and I'm going to pore over it this weekend.

I have copied my kid sister on everything because, well, her kids never knew our Grandpa and only my niece knew Grandma and they may be interested in all this. After all, it's her family, too.

She apparently told my mom. I think she may have emphasized how Aunt Jo wrote things like, "You were so the favorite in our house" because when my mother mentioned it to me, her voice had something of an edge to it.

"Your sister tells me you and your aunt are corresponding on that Facebook thing."

"Yes." And I told her about the photos of Grandpa and the family history.

"I don't care," was my mother's response.

"You wouldn't," I said, trying unsuccessfully not to get testy. "It's not your family. It's dad's."

"I wouldn't care even if it was my family."

"You asked what Jo and I talk about. I'm telling you."

My mom started on what a spoiled brat Jo was, how she was "beyond fat" as a young girl and very jealous of everyone who was prettier, which according to my mom, was everyone. OK. I believe I've heard this before. It may even be true. I mean, when my mom married into that family, she was barely out of her teens and Jo was not yet into adolescence and may very well have hated my mom and acted out. Whatever. It has nothing to do with me.

And maybe, just maybe, I'd like to have a more solid tie to a simpler time, to a woman who wrote that, "to me, you'll always be my sweet little niece who liked to snuggle on the couch with me and her Lassie dog." (I loved that plush dog, and was touched she remembered.) Maybe, just maybe, after my mother dies, I'll want to have some link to family who actually LIKE me. Someone who also loved Grandma and Grandpa (though, as I told Aunt Jo, I appreciate that my pining for Grandpa might sound insensitive to her since, after all, he was her dad and she must miss him even more than I do).

If my mom doesn't want anything to do with Jo, that's fine. I understand. That's why I never brought our communication up to her.

But what I can't understand, what hurts so, is that my mother can dismiss someone whose only sin seems to have been being bratty while young, and yet keeps a framed photo of my molester in her bedroom.

My mom has been away for a week. Maybe now that I've written this, shared it with the cyber universe, put it out there, I won't be as angry and hurt when I talk to her again this weekend.

What the hey?

My brother in law quit his job. Quitting means no unemployment. His boss wouldn't give him the whole week off to go up to Wisconsin and get my niece, suggesting he leave early today instead. Since they agreed he could have this week off months ago, he lost his temper and quit.

Did I mention quitting means no unemployment?

He had health insurance, a truck and gas with that job, too. All gone.

I can't help my mom AND take care of them, too. Not to mention that it's a little galling to help someone who judges you as harshly as my sister does me. Or that when I'm old, I won't have a Gal equivalent to turn to.

On the other hand, they have two kids and two cats who didn't choose which home they landed in. So I sent the kids giftcards to help with back to school clothes and supplies. I have a coupon here for a free bag of premium catfood from Petco. Bet you can guess what I'm gonna do with that.

My sister's job as lunch mom begins again next week. Her take home is $45/week. The school year is only 9 months. Taking school vacations into account, my sister contributes less than $2000/year to that household. That's less than I give my mom.

What the fuck are they going to do?

Trying not to obsess …