(Photograph copyright 2010, all rights reserved.)
Ah, summer is here! Woo hoo! I was out planting my container garden the other day, facing the sun in 90 degree heat and IT FELT GOOD! This is something I just have to do. At least one day of the year, I need to get outside and get all sweaty when everyone else is hiding out indoors. No sunscreen. And no, I don't care. There are times when you have to just let go of the preachiness and play in the dirt.
Then I read Dear Prudie and realized that dumbness has continued to abound, disregarding the season. This is going to be fun!
1. Ah, family shit! Where would we be without it? Everyone likes to subscribe to the total bullshit myth that "family is everything" and that "families all love each other all the time". People actually believe that Norman Rockwell paintings represent real life, and that everyone should always strive to be just like they think the folks in the paintings are like.
It's nonsense. We know it. We know that the lovely picture of Thanksgiving Dinner is a mere millisecond frozen in time. After that millisecond, Billy throws up all of the potato chips he inhaled before dinner because smoking a stolen cigarette behind the outhouse after that was a BAD idea. The baby barfs in sympathy.
As Mom and Grandma clean up the mess, the dog gets into the house, knocks down the bowl of sweet potatoes and eats the whole thing, running away on being discovered and barfs up the whole thing in the middle of the kitchen floor. Billy's little sister, Maisie starts eating what the dog barfed up. Meanwhile, the cat, ignored to this point because cats are quiet, has run away with a wing off the turkey and dragged it, grease and all, under a guest room bed to nibble on where it will be discovered weeks later because of the reek of rotting meat.
When they finally get to back to the table, Grandpa and Uncle Fred will start to giggle hysterically and fall asleep on their plates because they've been sampling the new batch of moonshine behind the woodshed and overdid it. Mom will then throw a screaming tantrum because of all the work she put into a dinner that's RUINED, just RUINED, and storm off to the back porch to cool off and see if there's any 'shine left in that jug.
Grandma, in the meantime, has turned off her hearing aid, filled plates for herself and the kids and takes them into the living room to watch "Halloween II" and "Saw" while they eat. Later that night, when the kids wake up screaming while Mom, Uncle Fred and Grandpa are still reeling around the back yard looking for another jug that was just there a minute ago, dammit. Dad will take the kids back into the living room to watch "Peter Pan" and scare the little buggers even more. They won't sleep for a week now.
The next day, everyone will eat cold leftovers for breakfast, bitch about the holiday and blame each other for the disasters all the way home in the car (stopping only once so that Billy can finally get it right and barf in the ditch instead of on Gran's good linen table cloth) and return next year, feeling all warm and fuzzy and traditional. Until the cat hurls a hairball on the kitchen counter and Aunt Mabel has hysterics.....
And that's family life - the real thing. And so, LW, why should you be any different? You have a mother who's too dumb to come in when it rains, let alone take care of hordes of special needs kids and then adopts the most disturbed, violent teenager in the entire foster system anyway. Unable to realize that she's an idiot, your mother tries to dump your adoptive "sister" on you and your family and what do you do?
You feel GUILTY about not wanting the violent, suicidal, almost-adult stranger in your home with your children?
Your mother is a moron. Keep repeating this to yourself. You were very diplomatic in your letter, using words like "flighty" and saying that she "tends not to make rational decisions", but when it comes right down to it, you have to admit that your mother is not only not the brightest light in the chandelier, she's an outright drooling idiot who shouldn't be trusted with a house plant, let alone a mentally disturbed teenager.
So why do you feel guilty? You say that you could persuade your husband to take this kid in for two weeks, but even you admit that you don't want her....
Are you that starved for Mommy's approval that you're willing to put your entire family at risk? Did she not like you best? Do you still hope that one day Mommy will grow a brain and appreciate you? You know that's not going to happen, right? Mommy doesn't give a rat's ass what anyone thinks/wants/needs. She does just exactly as she pleases and the consequences of that are just not something that enters her pea-sized brain.
Your sister has the right approach. She very sensibly chose to put HER OWN family first and not indulge your mother's idiotic whims. Yes, she is treating your mother like a child. Your mother deserves it. She's acting like a spoiled two-year-old, screaming "I want" and hoping that you'll give in just to shut her up.
Are you going to let her do that to you? Really? And if something dreadful should happen while the violent mentally disturbed teenager is staying with you - like she sets the house on fire or decides to sacrifice your toddler to the meth gods - will you be all right with that?
Listen to your husband and (heaven help us) Prudie. Acknowledge that life ain't fair, call your local child welfare agency and clue them in, then tell your mother that her vacation plans aren't going to work for you or anyone else INCLUDING her adoptive daughter.
2. Are you sure you're a graduate student? Really? Because that would make you older than twelve. I'm having trouble with the whole *he doesn't know I exist, but I know this is true loooooooooooooove!* thing.
You say that this 19-year-old is no longer in your class and is unlikely to be in the future, so you want to ask him out. Whatever. Even though you haven't exchanged three words with the guy, you're convinced that this is a grand passion that will sustain you both for eternity..... I'm having trouble going on. "Sappy bullshit" is something I just don't do well.
Whatever. When you go on to say "...I worry that if word gets out that I am dating a former student, my reputation as a teacher will be undermined." you're right. Your reputation WILL suffer. Is it fair? No. But face it. You're 25, he's 19. In your position, this matters.
Even if you DID, by some freak chance, hook up for a night or two, you are not senior enough and you don't have enough credibility at the university for people to just snicker for a minute and move on. Worse, if you do finally confess your love to the guy, you are running the real risk that he's going to tell the whole world that some old skank of a grad student has a crush on him.
So. Go find yourself someone else to fixate on. Preferably a fictional character. Someone that you can't make a fool of yourself with...
3. I feel for you. Cancer, surgery, chemo and radiation....all are things I wouldn't wish on anyone. I can't begin to imagine what you're going through. Coping with this, plus dealing with family and work is a nightmare. But it sounds like you're recovering - the treatment is going well and taking a pill at home beats the heck out of going in to the hospital every few weeks for treatment, right?
What I don't get is that you've been through all this. You've put your life and health into the hands of oncologists, a surgeon and various other health professionals and you're basing your prognosis on something you've read on the Internet? How silly is that?
SHADDAP! and pay attention.
I know you probably would rather eat worms than have to go to yet another doctor, but you have no choice. You need to sit down with your oncologist and ASK what the future might hold. See, you owe that, not to yourself, but to your family. How fair is it to THEM to have you walking around convinced that you're going to keel over at any minute?
Then you have to deal with this depression. Yes, you have a lot to be depressed about. You've been through a lot. You admit in your letter that you need to hold it together for your husband and family and you intend to fight for your life. You can't do that right now while you're obsessing about the death that the anonymous Internet person told you about, right?
So. If your doctor tells you to take an antidepressant, DO IT. Join a survivor's group. TALK to people. You need to find a way to cope, because you sure aren't doing that now.
4. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh! I don't WANNA take out the garbage! Why can't my sister do it? Waaaaaaaaaaaaaah! I don't WANNA make the bed! It's just going to get messy again anyway! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! I don't WANNA help the lady with the walker carry her groceries!
SHADDAP! Idiot. It's just a freakin' water bottle!
You are asked to do one 30 second job once every week or so. You are the one who can most easily do the job. So just do it and quit bitching.
It's tempting to take on the Mom tones and say something like "If you really want something to whine about, the garage needs cleaning." or "In the time you've spent whining about this you could have done it eleven times."
Do you really want me to do that, or do you feel like enough of an idiot already?
Right. Now, The Boy looked at the last problem from an engineering perspective, because that's what he does. He has a suggestion. If anyone out there is affiliated with a university or knows an engineering professor - there's a design challenge that would make an excellent class project here.
Five gallon water bottles are heavy, but worse, they're awkward. Lots of people (men and women) can LIFT the stupid things, but aiming them into the machine is not so easy. The main reason for that is the bottle design. It's almost impossible to get a solid grip on the thing. There are no handles. All you have is this slippery plastic thing with no handles.
So here's the challenge. Someone needs to do a re-design on those bottles and come up with a new version that's easier to handle and most importantly, fits on existing machines. See, the machines are pretty sturdy and they're simple enough that they don't really break down often. It's the bottles that have the shorter life span, and they'll be adopted instantly if no one has to pop for new machines.
Just a thought.
Have a terrific weekend!