Chaos Attraction

Thanksgiving Kaboom

2012-11-27, 11:41 a.m.

Oh lord, I have soooooooooooo much to catch up on for entries. So very, very much.

I am going to jump around in time rather than do this chronologically. The big kaboom is at the end.

Driving-related stuff:

On Tuesday, I took L to the airport. Well, more like she picked me up on campus and drove herself to the airport and I drove the car back. However. It was predicted to be raining that night, something I did not take into account until, well, the rain was impending. I kept praying for the rain to hold off for a few hours until I was back home, but nooooooo. By the time I was driving the car back alone, it was POURING HARD.

I did think to ask her as to how to work the windshield wipers, if there was anything I needed to know about driving it in the rain, etc. on the way over, thank goodness. And I saw how her defroster worked, so there was that. But it took me a bit of time to get the windshield wipers to go from "must touch the thing every time I want a wipe" to "seriously, this thing needs to be swiping every other second" level.

I was stuck being on the freeway for at least part of the journey. I did not want to go as fast as I possibly fucking could (i.e. the speed limit, which in practical CA terms is the bare minimum speed) in the rainy dark. So I was going at about 55 rather than the "required" 70. Sure, I got passed by a giant truck, but hey, at least I didn't crash. (Upon telling her this story, L was all, "They've been driving that truck in the rain for 20 years.")

I don't think I mentioned this in here previously--or at least I can't find it-- but the first time I was doing an airport pickup, I had issues because I wanted to take the country road route for half of the trip rather than spending the entirety of it on the freeway. I had planned for it, I'd made Mom drive out there on the way to the East Coast...and then it turned out that road was closed and I was forced to go on the main freeway anyway. I mentioned this to my coworkers that day and they were both all, "Oh, I hate country roads. Nobody's out there if your car dies. Who's going to help you?" Which is the same thing my mom said to me about it, actually. It was kind of throwing me, even though in reality I think, "Who's going to stop for me? AAA, because nobody stops for people stuck on the road, that shit's dangerous." Well, I took the country road home and I think that was a very good idea. Even if it was long and dark (straight trip though), at least there was only like 1 other car on the road, and I didn't HAVE to go at super speeds because of the other people on the road pressuring me into it. I made it home safe, thank gawd.

On Sunday night, I was to pick her up from the airport. I got into the car and ... well, it was covered in wet and frost and it took me awhile to figure out how to defrost this car enough so I could see to drive it. I was worried about being late because of that, but eh....I ended up making it to the airport at the time the plane was supposed to show up. Except in the grand tradition of Thanksgiving travel, she got in sometime after 11 and then it took a half hour to get her bag, and then another 15-20 for me to drive into the pickup area, which of course had a long backed up line of cars. She apologized for the airport-ness of it all once she finally found where I was, but I was all, "eh, this is actually a lot less worse than I expected for the Sunday after Thanksgiving."

It was starting to get foggy on the way over--mostly kind of looked like I was driving through clouds--but on the way back, hoo boy, it was starting to get foggy enough to only be able to barely see at times on the way back. I took the country road again by this point--good idea--and L was all, "Hey, I drive slow in fog. The person behind us can deal with it." She also said that between the rain on Tuesday and the fog tonight, I have been tested on the weather and passed. So there's that.

Unlike me, she had a lovely Thanksgiving, spending it with relatives who actually enjoy each other. Good for her.

NaNo-related stuff: I am at about 40k. I did not get to write shit Friday through Sunday. I am also more or less out of material. I am not sure what I am going to do about this. Make up...something.

NaKniSweMo-related stuff: I finished the sweater, and am now wondering if I should have done it differently.

Other than Thanksgiving, we spent a ton of time shopping. We went to Target, where I blew all of my gift certificates on a few gifts, a few Christmas blings, and two shirts. The last bit was rather ka-ching-y, sigh. We went to Grass Valley and hit the craft fairs and Cornish Christmas there. I didn't buy too much in the way of crafts--a pair of earrings--but did find a lovely consignment store there where I got a red sweater, a crocheted flower sweater, and a glittery black and gray skirt.

We went to the Harvest Festival in San Jose, where I mostly bought exotic dip, and two necklaces and a bracelet. Mom bought me a chain of Swarovski crystals, hoo boy. I also talked to one lady that I got a custom scarf from a year or two ago(? don't recall where the entry was), and ah...apparently a lot of y'all clicked on the link I posted to her website and she remembered that. Daaaaaaaaaaang. That's rather intimidating.

I need to lay off the shopping, though. I've been worse at craft fairs than usual this month.

Every holiday season for the last few years, Mom has started in with "I want an e-reader! Or possibly an iPad!" Which I have been against paying for because I don't want to blow my money on a gadget that she will never touch. (See previously bought eBookman, Palm, and Wii devices that never left the box.) We have this fight every year now, which is stupid.

However: when we were in an indie bookstore in Grass Valley, they had a Kobo mini on sale for $49. I was all, "You should buy that" (if she's going to insist on wasting the money, at least do it cheaply), and she did. I attempted to set it up on Sunday. However, my mom's computers are really old. I think the last family computer was bought before Dad got sick, so.... it's been around since the mid-90's, I think. I tried to set it up on that one, but it took most of an hour just to get a webpage to load, and about that long to download the online stuff, and then of course, it would not work. So that was like, 2.5 hours of time wasted.

I then was directed to attempt to install it on my mom's work computer, which is probably slightly less old and at least will work online. I did get the Kobo desktop program downloaded--though it wouldn't install a lot of stuff on it, so I don't know how well it will work-- and I picked out four e-books to download on it, and I think I even got them downloaded. However, I somehow managed to disable her Internet after that, oh goodie. I had her go through the tutorial and put it in her bag, but other than that....I will be flabbergasted if she ever touches it again, actually. Then again, I suspect she'll have enough problems figuring out how to buy an e-book that maybe that's for the best.

And now that I've put it off long enough, Thanksgiving...was a lulu.

It mostly went about the same as ever. Go over there sometime Thursday morning, watch whatever bits of the parade they allow me to watch in between breakfast and "we got bored of this" moments. I sat around watching TV and knitting and getting on my laptop all afternoon and people disappeared. Same old, same old, whatever. I don't care any more if anyone wants to talk to me or not. They don't, so fine, whatever. They tolerate me, that's better than being insulted like Dad's family did, so I can live with that.

But Mom cares. Mom cares deeply. Mom desperately wants to be BFF's with her sister and go over there and have everyone chat to her all day long. She haaaaaaaates it when we're at someone's house and they aren't chatting with her the whole time. Of course, she wants that in general. At one point during the weekend she lectured to me that she really wanted to talk to me every day and have someone ask about her day. And I was all, "Look, I don't HAVE something to say about my day every day. Mostly I just typed shit and the most exciting part of the day was knitting at lunch." She doesn't really take no for an answer on this sort of thing....or on anything, really. She doesn't relent until she gets what she wants, dammit. ("You really need to stick with things more, Jennifer.") And by god, she's going to believe with all her little heart that miracles will happen and optimism will prevail.

I'm not saying optimism is bad, but BLIND optimism drives me up a fucking tree. And this is the case here.

On the way to my aunt's house, Mom calls our family friend Sandy in Montana. Sandy (who is the Montana version of Mom) loves this, said it made her day to hear from Mom. And after getting off the phone this time, she was all, "This is going to be the best Thanksgiving ever!"


In addition to the usual "everyone sits around" sort of day that Mom doesn't like and sulks about for the next three days stuff, there were three Incidents.

1. Aunt Susie kicked Mom out of the kitchen for most of Thanksgiving (she was eventually allowed to make a pie). Why? "We don't have enough room in the kitchen." Their kitchen is huge, holds most of the family as is, and everyone knows darned well the kitchen is not so small that Mom needed kicking out. Mom was forced to sit on the couch and watch television with me. She did not like that.

2. After the dinner was over, the dishwasher was full, but some dishes were left. Mom decided to helpfully hand wash them. I think this is not a house that has ever had such a thing happen, as they do not even have a dish drainer. Then Mom caught my cousin Kristen putting the newly handwashed dishes into the dishwasher with the other dirty dishes, and Mom got very pissed because she considered that an insult to her housekeeping skills and how dare someone do that. This later turned into "Kristen hates me because I'm a Republican" and ranting about how Kristen didn't want to meet certain distant relatives of ours that live in her area because one of them worked for the Romney campaign and how that's so bigoted.

Considering that Mom is a yellow dog Republican and will vote for them regardless of logic whatsoever (she admitted that she didn't like Romney, but no way in hell would she vote for anyone else), won't even read most political things and votes the way her accountant bosses tell her, uh.....well.... I'm just not gonna go there.

3. At the end of the night, my aunt said something like, "Well, if you're going to go to Grass Valley, you'd better get an early start. You'd better leave by nine." Unlike Mom, I do not go around looking for insults in every phrase said and I do not take everything personally. However, even I got the message of YOU'D BETTER LEAVE BY NINE TOMORROW. Even I thought that was meant as an insult.

So we left by nine. My aunt was upstairs doing god knows what, my uncle and Kristen were in the kitchen. Mom said goodbye to them and when Uncle Brad said to wait until Aunt Susie got downstairs, Mom got all choked up and said not to bother, she wouldn't notice if we were here anyway. Uncle Brad was all, "Don't go there, Gretchen," and Mom literally ran out of the house crying and got into the car and drove away as my aunt was walking out.

(Upon telling L this story, well... yes, apparently this shit isn't considered sane and normal behavior in all families. There were a lot of dramatic gasps on her part.)

Her driving was rather frightening after that, and I kept having to say things like, "You need to stop at a stoplight here." Aunt Susie called and I didn't intend on answering Mom's phone at all, but Mom yelled at me that not to answer was rude. So I answered and said that Mom wasn't in a good place to be able to talk right now. Aunt Susie claimed she'd been upstairs working on our birthday gifts (our birthdays are in spring, so I have no idea on this one), and she'd thought we were staying for breakfast. I am kind of at a loss as to where that last one came from. Aunt Susie left it at "well, she can call me when she's ready." I expect the family bitched about us for an hour and then forgot about it.

Okay, so clearly they weren't terribly happy with having Mom around either this time, possibly/probably me too, even though I am less offensive. Though I did piss off Uncle Brad by drinking sparkling cider in with the wine. So sue me, I didn't know it was $40 wine and the mix tastes good and I have no taste.

Anyway, Mom quickly pulled over into the nearest Target--good thing because her driving was scaring the shit out of me. I bought her a bunch of stuff at Starbucks and we sat down until her hands stopped shaking. Then she proceeded to shop for two hours to make herself feel better. Eventually we did make it up to Grass Valley, which I wasn't thinking was going to happen. But of course she was pretty miserable and ranting the whole weekend.

I insisted that she needed to start therapy up again-- at least a one-time shot if nothing else. She agreed. So we now have group therapy booked for this Saturday morning. I had a very eventful therapy session myself on the day of as well, recounting all of this drama. It is nice to get it verified from others that my aunt and company are the weird ones and most people on the planet don't act like this, that their behavior was rude, that we were right to think we'd been kicked out, etc. It just usually feels like we must be the wrong and bad ones since we're outnumbered here.

At this point, I'm inclined to say that we should all just shake hands and say goodbye. I've already been disowned from one side of the family, it's not gonna be a great shock to me to "lose" the other side. We are just Not Their Kind, Dear, no matter what we do, and it sounds like they're fed up as hell with dealing with us (or at least Mom, but I have shame by proxy, I suspect). I think we might as well just mutually quit dealing with each other. If Mom wasn't around, I doubt I'd hear from any of them past the funeral, which is almost exactly what happened with Dad's side. I'm tired of pretending that we're "faaaaaamily" if we're really just only stuck with each other because of blood. If they wouldn't give us the time of day without the blood or whatever, let's just give up the charade.

Buuuuuut....realistically speaking, I don't get to make the choice whether or not we cut them off because I'm married to Mom and she's clingy like fuck and only has the one sister left and BY GOD, SHE WILL GET WHAT SHE WANTS OUT OF HER DAMMIT. If her options are "get love out of my sister or go hungry," which they are, she won't go hungry. I learned to go hungry, but she won't accept that, so....yeah.

I told my shrink that we need a game plan to deal with this. Every year Mom gets all blindly optimistic and sunshiney and forgets all of the pain and crying and wailing that she does every November (or December, or April), and says yes to the invitation, and then is crushed and hurt like it's fresh and new. Somehow she needs to be reminded of this enough in October--or at least done in such a way that she'll listen to those of us who say that. And when she asks, we do something else. Mom was bragging about the other invites she'd received for Thanksgiving, so why not just go there? Mom's idea was to only show up for dinner at Thanksgiving and then leave 15 minutes after so she won't be hanging around expecting people to talk to her. That's also a good one. We'll see how it's worked out on Saturday.

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