22 December 2011
(Photograph copyright 2010, all rights reserved.)
Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Solstice! Joyeux Noel! ..... I can't cover every single holiday. Happy December!
The days are getting longer, and thank goodness for that. I hate waking up in the dark, coming home in the dark, and all of the gloomy days of winter. Granted, The City Of Wind has had an exceptionally mild winter so far, but winter-climate people are not sanguine about what the rest of the season is going to be like. If you smile and comment on how nice it it outside, you are greeted with scowls and dire predictions about the four feet of snow that are going to fall all at once on January 1st, starting at the crack of midnight.
I just don't care. I'll take it a day at a time, and every day spent not shovelling snow is a good one as far as I'm concerned.
We have no tree this year. Instead, we're off to see the in-laws, and a lovely time it's promising to be. Still, I felt compelled to include a photo of a tree at least, so here it is. I thought I'd show you just why it is we can't used the pretty glass decorations any more. Nini is tree-obsessed. She's stopped climbing it now, but all ornaments that are up to three feet off the floor are now fair game.
They play whiffle ball with the steel bells. They leap feet in the air to grab the anodized aluminum twirly icicles that I got from Lee Valley Tool (you should go to their site, they have the coolest stuff). I bought a bunch of stuffed-toy ornaments last year and Charlie appropriated one of them to be his woogie. It is his personal teddy bear and woe betide the person or cat that defiles the woogie by say, picking it up....
However, we soldier on. The tree has changed, the venue changes regularly and the world continues to rotate. We must be doing something right, because it's all fun. Too bad this week's writers to Prudie are all a bunch of assholes (see my last column for an explanation of that term)
1. Oh boo hoo! When you were an iddle bitty baby you sat under YOUR tree in YOUR house with YOUR brother and opened presents and it was all Norman Rockwelly and everyone obeyed your little whims so you wouldn't throw a screaming tantrum if one detail changed.....
Christmas Eve is being celebrated at what you call your sister-in-law's house (as if your brother doesn't live there), her family is going to be there, and your parents think this is a terrific idea. Your parents hosted them once, last year you saw them again, and all this makes you "...so mad about it that it makes me cry."
You go on to say that "Christmas Eve has been ruined!" You're even threatening not to celebrate this year....
What do you want? Do you want to go home, put on your Rudolph jammies, leave cookies and milk out for Santa and then have Mommy tuck you into your crib with a teddy and your bot bot? Do you expect your parents to be waiting, fully dressed, for you to come downstairs in the morning and serve you coffee and pancakes while you play in the shredded paper, ignoring your presents? Are you still adding to your Barbie collection?
Grow the fuck up, sister.
How dare you try and dictate how two entire families celebrate Christmas! You arrogant little shit. Your brother's in-laws have made what I consider to be a superhuman effort to include everyone in HIS family at their Christmas party because they love him and they want him to be happy. They're going out of their way to create traditions that don't force this couple to travel all over Hell's half acre every year just so they can see both sets of parents.
It's clear that your parents don't have a problem with this. In fact, I'm betting that they're both relieved that they don't have to cater to your childish fantasies any more. Has it occurred to you that THEY might want a break in routine?
Actually, your family relationships are a little warped in your own head, aren't they? You whine because one Christmas was spent at your sister-in-law's house. What the hell is that, little girl? That is your brother's home. It's his house as well. Or are you still harboring fantasies that you can break them up and he'll just come running home to your little cocoon?
Go, don't go, nobody cares. Not your parents, not your brother, not his in-laws... In fact, they'd probably jump for joy if they knew that the family wet blanket wasn't going to be there. That way no one has to apologize for your appalling behavior.
2. Families are weird, aren't they? We all have a family member that we don't want to deal with. It could be a bitchy aunt, a drunk uncle, a weird cousin, a mean rotten brother.
And this is the dilemma facing you. Your brother has been a truly ghastly person for most of your life. He said and did things that were so rotten, so evil, that you finally cut off all contact. When he married, it just got worse. The whole family took the brunt of his foul temper and nasty remarks. His nastygrams became legendary...
But wait. He divorced. He's trying to make nice. He sent you presents. You don't know what to do. I don't blame you.
No SHADDAPS for you.
You're overthinking this. Your parents and sister may have accepted your brother back into their lives, but you don't trust him. Who could blame you for that?
It sounds to me like your brother had a problem with drugs or alcohol, or maybe there's some mental illness involved. Could he be bipolar? You don't know. He sounds contrite, and he may very well be trying to apologize, but you don't have to take everything at face value.
If he's in some sort of substance abuse program, there's an exercise that they have to do. It's lifted right out of the AA playbook and involves apologizing to everyone they've hurt with their problems. A good counselor will have told him that not everyone is going to accept this from him. He's hurt you deeply - he can't expect forgiveness for everything.
I understand that you'd like to believe him. You don't have to dive in to a relationship with your brother all at once. He sent gifts, so send him a lovely card thanking him and (like Prudie says) wishing him well. That's all you need to do . He doesn't have any right to expect that you'll believe he's changed. He does not have the right to be allowed back in your life after one peacemaking gesture.
3. This letter was a load of trivial bullshit. You moved away from home, aren't even a token Catholic any more and now you don't want to go to Mass on Christmas Eve. You know you'll hurt your mother's feelings if you don't go.
Grow the fuck up, you whiner!
You know that your family goes to mass every single Christmas Eve. This was not a surprise. You knew when you got on that airplane to visit that this would be expected of you. So what? You want to all get together and play Candyland instead of going to one of the two religious services a year that your parents find important?
You petty bitch!
You think your parents were thrilled to go to your piano (or whatever) recitals year after year and listen to dozens of little kids plinking away at "Three Blind Mice"? Do you think they had nothing better to do than go to your soccer (or whatever) games just to watch you warm the bench for a couple of hours? Were you such an angel that you only brought them joy and never, ever broke stuff, barfed all night, had screaming tantrums, and whatever else kids do that drive their parents bananas?
Where the hell do you get off thinking that you should be able to tell them what to do on a holiday that they celebrate?
Your parents' home is no longer "your house". It's theirs. THEY are generously hosting you for the holidays and you are a guest in THEIR home. They don't have to do it, either. It doesn't matter if they're your parents, they celebrate in a certain way, you knew that going in, and you don't get to whine about it now. It's called "being polite". No one gives a rat's ass what you think about religion in general or the Church specifically. Not your parents, not the priest, not the other congregants...NO ONE cares about your little, piffling rant.
You want advice? Shut the fuck up. Go to Mass for an hour. Smile. Shake hands if it's expected. About half the congregation won't be taking communion, so sit quietly while others do. Go home after Christmas and do whatever the hell you want next year.
4. Ooh, you're a prize, aren't you? What a couple of petty bitches you and your sister are! An aunt and uncle who you only see once a year send you a gift of $30.00 every Christmas and you don't like it?
Grr. This is a two-SHADDAP letter! You want to tell these kind and generous people who have never done anything but good things for you that you don't want their presents any more? It's crappy enough that you'd even consider saying that out loud, but your reason just sends me around the twist.
You don't want to bother sending a card thanking them.
Grow the fuck up. Both of you.
Where do you get off, planning to hurt the feelings of these two lovely people? What have they ever done to you that you can justify deliberately being nasty to them?
You claim to be adults, so act the part. Have a package of "Thank You" cards in your desk at home at all times. ALL adults should have one of these. If you don't, go buy some. Use the $30.00 that you don't need, idiot. Write a short note:
"Dear Auntie ___ and Uncle___
Thank you so much for your gift. I used it to take a friend out to lunch and we had a lovely time.
I hope your holiday was enjoyable.
It takes mere minutes. As one poster pointed out, it takes less time than you took to whine to Prudie. Get over yourselves.
Yeesh. Holidays always bring out the whining, the bitching, the petty bickering, don't they? I think I need to make some rules for attending Christmas gatherings in other peoples' homes....
1. SHADDAP! Whatever arguments, hurt feelings or whining you've been itching to do on the holidays, DON'T. You chose to go to someone's home for Christmas, even if it's your parents house, and you owe them basic good manners. That means swallowing offense sometimes. Deal.
2. Don't take any crap. I know this sounds like it conflicts with Rule 1, but hear me out. If the holidays are unbearable with your family, then don't go. Some of us were abused, some of us get picked at and compared unfavorably to others, some just dread the thought of going to *that place* on Christmas.
You have my permission to opt out. The first time, this is difficult. You'll feel strange doing it. Make an excuse, say you have plans and then make the plans. You'll be amazed at how good it feels. Trust me on this.
3. Don't bring up old arguments just because everyone's in the same room together and a couple of glasses of wine make you feel like it.
4. You aren't a kid any more. You don't have the right to expect or demand that everything go the way you think it should, just because it was *always that way before*. Life means change.
5. No matter how silly or useless the present is, thank the person who gave it to you.
My Auntie Rose, who was my great-grandmother's youngest sister, used to send me a pink sweater every year for Christmas. She did this because I was a platinum blond baby and she thought pink was perfect. It was perfect, when I was a platinum blond baby. My hair rapidly changed to a ginger/mouse combination and my eyes ended up being the color of a Sprite bottle and pink was just...bad on me. Still is.
I said nothing. Every year, I gave my pink sweater to my younger sister, who had very dark hair and bright blue eyes and loved pink. She kept the blue sweater she got, too. Usually they were too small for me. Then I sat down and sent Auntie Rose a card, thanking her for my gift. I'm glad I did. She was a dear, lovely lady who had a tough life. I hope that card brought her a little happiness. I only wish I was getting a pink sweater to re-gift this year.
6. Don't bitch about the food. There's nothing worse than inviting some idiot over who spends an entire evening babbling on about how THEIR mom cooked the turkey and how THEY really missed having apple pie for dinner.
Making dinner for a crowd is hard work. LOTS of hard work. If you don't like something keep your mouth shut and don't eat it.
7. Dress for the occasion. No one expects evening wear (ok, some do, most don't), but you don't get to show up in sweats or manky jeans and a food-stained sweatshirt for Christmas dinner. Wear clean clothing. If you wear jeans, don't pick the ones with the hole in the ass. No one needs to see that. Wear proper shoes. Shower in the morning (some don't, you know). Comb your hair. Brush your teeth. Be presentable.
8. ALWAYS bring a hostess gift. It doesn't have to be expensive. Some lovely paper cocktail napkins, maybe. Chocolate is always a winner. Wine always good, but there's an etiquette to that. Any wine you bring will probably NOT be consumed at dinner. It's a gift, after all. The menu is already set, and you don't get to change it.
9. Be polite. Say "please" and "thank you". Don't shout. Listen without interrupting when someone is speaking to you and respond only when they're done speaking. Sit up straight. Chew with your mouth closed. Don't belch at the table. Don't take your teeth out where anyone can see you. Try to contain your farts until you make it to the bathroom. Offer to help carry things. What have I missed?
You'd think I wouldn't have to tell adults these things, but you'd be amazed at how many don't know this stuff.
10. Thank your host. Thank them when you leave, then send them a nice card thanking them for your hospitality when you get home. ALWAYS do this. Your hosts went to a lot of time, trouble and expense to host you and yours and they deserve to be thanked. So do it.
Happy Holidays, All!
I'll see you in the New Year.
09 December 2011
(Photograph copyright November 2011, all rights reserved.)
I know, I know. I've been promising a new post for weeks and nothing's been happening. Well, the photo shows where I was for one of those weeks, anyway. Yes, that is the Eiffel Tower. The Boy and I spent Thanksgiving in Paris, and it was the best ever. I love that town! I also got to meet Marcparis of Fray fame, and I have to thank him so much for taking me out for the best chocolate in the world. The man is a sweetheart.
I also had an adventure this week. I went to the dentist for a simple cleaning on Wednesday morning. No big deal. It takes an hour at most. I planned on heading off to class afterwards provided I didn't need any work done. Then (cue mournful violins) when I got there, someone had decided to fill the air with multiple cheap scented candles.
Now I know the media LOVES to shove scented candles at people. Celebrity profiles always seem to have a "favorite things" list, and there's a goddamned candle on every single one. Stores put the foul-smelling things right on the front display, right where they can make my nose run and my eyes pour water. Clearly I'm not the only one, either. There always seems to be a jumbo pack of tissue somewhere on the display. Two minutes after getting in the door, I look like I've been on a three day drunk and I know I'll be popping Benadryl for days.
This was the worst, though. THIS particular aromatic hydrocarbon-infused petroleum-based bewicked vessel was spewing something worse than natural gas emissions. Dirty coal power plants spew less vileness in the air than these things did. I've smelled skunk, rotten egg, and decomposing rat, and they are ALL less disgusting than that candle. One woman was sitting in the waiting room with her scarf over her entire face. Another was green-complected and looked as though she was contemplating a dash to the toilet.
I got a migraine. The fourth in my life. I've seldom felt as foul as I did when I got home. I didn't stay for my cleaning. I rescheduled the appointment and literally ran out the door, where I spent two light changes inhaling exhaust fumes to get the burning reek of those "candles" out of my nose.
So here it's Friday, and I've almost recovered from the headache. Almost. It's still lurking there, behind my left eye. Waiting for someone to assault the world with another fucking rotten goddamned stinking vile candle-like object to reappear in its migrainish agonizing glory, causing me to take massive doses of painkillers and lock myself in my (clean, fragrance-free) home for another couple of days.
A word of advice. Leave the cheap-ass candles in the store. The expensive ones are just as bad. If you use them people assume things. They wonder if you have a mold problem that you're covering up. They wonder if you have a garbage fetish and it's all stored in your bedroom, so you need to cover the stench. They wonder if your cooking is so vile that the smell of phony gardenias is actually better. They wonder if the dog has been allowed to pee all over the house........
Now for the letters. Prudie really cacked it up this week. Why am I not surprised?
1. Your husband left you for your 25-year-old daughter. You are understandably "...heartbroken, betrayed, and furious..." . All perfectly normal. I'd be worried if you weren't feeling these things. Now,
Prudie told you that your daughter is probably mentally ill and will come running to Mommy (that would be you), groveling for forgiveness sometime in the future.... Well... bullshit, Prudie.
See, there's a difference between being mentally ill and being an asshole. Assholism is a character flaw, NOT an illness. It can't be cured. If a kid makes it to adulthood and behaves like an asshole, then all hope is gone. Once an asshole, always an asshole. Some mentally ill people can ALSO be assholes, and the asshole part of things will most assuredly remain even if the mental illness is medicated away.
Nice people can give birth to assholes. Nice parents are often gobsmacked when they realize that they've spawned an asshole and will spend decades blaming themselves for it, but the simple truth is that assholery is born in the blood. Generations can pass and no assholes will show up in a family, then *WHAM*, along comes a prize asshole, right when no one was expecting it.
So LW, you both married and gave birth to a pair of assholes. I know Prudie was trying to preserve some sort of motherly feeling with her "mental illness" schtick, but that's too bad. There's nothing wrong with your daughter OR your soon-to-be ex husband that any form of mental health therapy will fix.
Feel free not to speak to either of these people, ever again. Communicate through lawyers. Don't let them in your house, tell them never to contact you again, even when the divorce happens. There will be a split between these two assholes in the future. Your daughter isn't going to stay young forever, and it sounds like your ex has a thing for younger women...as well as women who are assholes.
Time and counselling for YOU are the only things that will abate your agony over the asshole behavior of the two assholes that you were unfortunate enough to be related to. Nurture your anger for awhile - at least as long as it takes to divorce the first asshole and get the second one out of your life.
2. Your daughter has a Grabby Grandad that grabs her at every opportunity and won't let go. You wonder if it's all right to put a stop to this?
There's a lot of other stuff in your letter. Your in-laws expect to be worshipped, they treat you like crap, even your husband doesn't like them, and so on. Shit like this happens to other people, so you're not alone in any of it.
Your in-laws are assholes. See above.
People have already told you not to take this bullshit any more. They've already said that you have to make your husband deal with his parents. They're right, but they don't go far enough.
Tell your daughter (five now, right?), that if she doesn't want to go near Grabby Grandad, she doesn't have to. EVER. No matter what anyone might tell her, she has every right to never be touched by him again. Tell her that if she feels even slightly uncomfortable, she is to say "no" as loud as she wants to and to run to where you are. You have to defend her. YOU are the one that has to be her gatekeeper.
If anyone says a word to you, tell them to piss off. Use those words.
Now that that's settled, you must tell your husband that you will not permit these people in your house. Tell him also that you will not be taking your child over to their place, either. Tell him (are you getting that I'm not saying the word "ask"?) that if there are to be visits, your daughter will be with YOU at all times, supervised and never left alone with either grandparent.
3. Yadda yadda yadda. Yap skawk, bitch, complain, whine........ your girlfriend's stepfather paints nude portraits of her and it squicks you out. Whatever.
Listen asshole, YOU are the only one that has a problem with this. You say she's your long-term girlfriend, so I'm assuming that she's a nice lady with no issues. LISTEN to her.
YOU are the one with the issues. Did you think that you're the only person who's ever going to see her without a long sleeved shirt in her life? Deal with it. Your girlfriend has been and probably will continue to be a nude model. It's a tradition of the art world. Suck it up.
If you're going to continue being an asshole over this, don't be surprised if you suddenly end up single, with only other assholes for company.
Now get lost, kid. You bother me.
4. You have your blankie. Your boyfriend says that's gross and wants you to get rid of it.
Your boyfriend is an asshole. Your blankie is none of his damned business and if you want to have it around you, then go for it.
I have a manky old worn-out ugly brown sweater that I put on when I'm stressed out. It's oversized and very soft and it's never going to be seen in public, but it's mine and I need it sometimes. The Boy still has his blankie in the closet. When he's sick with a cold or the flu, only the blankie is good enough to cover him up on the couch. I also still have my first teddy bear, and HE gets hauled out to use as a pillow when I get sick.
These are all normal things. Just about everyone has something like this. Here's what you tell your boyfriend:
"Hey asshole, shut up about the blankie! This is not a discussion, I'm telling you to shut up about the blankie."
If he persists, he's proving that he's more invested in being an asshole than a boyfriend. Let him meet up at the asshole bar with LW #3.
My dentist did call yesterday afternoon to apologize and promises that on the days when I have to come in, there will be no candle. Thank goodness for that! He's a great dentist.