Monthly Archives: May 2015

Family

I don’t even really know where to start, and for some reason I am not feeling like a very inspired writer today. Every word is work.

For those who missed it before, it’s important to note that my husband is from Kenya. That’s where all his family lives. So I’ve never met my mother in law.

That changes next week. My Mother in law and older Brother in Law are coming for my husband’s graduation ceremony! I’m very excited to meet them, but also super nervous.

I will have to be more together than I usually bother being…. all the time…. for two whole weeks. I think I have to get rid of most of my pants, because they are full of holes, or don’t fit. I also want to have more than two functional bras, so I don’t have to do laundry super often. So I need to go shopping, which is dreadful. I need to learn how to stay awake during the day. My husband caught me napping on the sofa a couple days ago, and actually asked me if I was going to do that with his family around, and explained that that “would be so embarrassing.” Now I’m particularly worried about that. I really like to sleep, and it’s sometimes hard to stop myself.

But I’m also excited, like I said. I’m meeting them years earlier than I expected I would get to. I really want to make a positive impression on the woman who raised such a strong willed, clear headed, incredible husband for me. I tried talking to his mother on the phone once, but I couldn’t really understand what she was saying, between her accent and the poor connection, and most of what I did catch, if I recall correctly, seemed centered around God, and being effectively agnostic, I had no idea how to respond. What, for example, is the correct response to “God bless you,” when you haven’t even sneezed? Is it just “thank you” or “God bless you too” or something completely different? I think she said that on the phone (it was years ago now, so my memory is pretty fuzzy), and know I felt extremely lost for words.

I’m looking forward to showing them around the San Francisco Bay Area, a place I love. I think they will really enjoy it too. It’s hard to know what things they might want to do, since my husband insists that we not plan ahead. Men are mysterious creatures. He thinks everything will sort itself out and be great. I know that unless we have some options ready for them to choose from, their whole two weeks will go by and they may not get to see everything they might want to see, which I think would be really sad.

There is one major dark cloud though, and that is my sister’s attitude. She and my husband don’t really get on well. For example, his first experience of her was overhearing a phone call she made to me when she found out I was dating a Kenyan. Not knowing that he could actually hear her quite well, she went on and on about AIDs testing, and how there are a lot of AIDs cases in “that part of the world.” Once my sister starts talking, it’s really hard to get her to stop, and often if you try to stop her, she just hammers the point more, thinking you don’t get how important it is. So that happened. He was not favorably impressed.

She has issues with him which I am not completely clear on, but which may include 1. she once had a boyfreind come home from Kenya talking about how he fell in love with a girl there (not Michael’s fault), 2. she thinks my father likes him better than he likes her because “he always wanted a son” (not Michael’s fault, and not true), 3. she thinks my husband is “an emotionless robot” (that might be his fault, he can come off that way sometimes. He’s just very understated). I’m pretty sure she had decided not to like him before she ever met him or heard much about him. Also, I’m married and she isn’t, despite her being 9.5 years older than me. Add to this that she is bipolar and occasionally suffers from her own paranoid interpretations of situations, and the picture gets pretty volatile.

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Now picture a room. Make it dusty and disused. It’s a bedroom. A bedroom whose occupant moved out soon after moving in. A bedroom with stuff in it, some hers, some mine, some my mother’s. My sister does not live in that room, and hated it so much that she moved in with her boyfriend to get away from it. Does she love this room? No. Does she spend time in this room? Never.

Now picture a woman, traveling across the world, her very first plane ride, excited to see her son graduate from a top university. What would you give her to sleep on, a sofa, or the unused bed? Would you put her in the living room, or in a bedroom?

My sister is convinced that my mother in law will go through her things and laugh at her. So my sister wanted to move all “her” stuff out. It turns out some of the stuff she wanted to move out and take with her to her place in San Francisco were some boxes of family photographs. Yes, some of the pictures are of her friends. But other pictures are of my mother’s childhood, or pictures that my mother wants to keep from when my sister was an infant…. My sister already sorted out all the pictures enough so that there are none of me, but she wants the pictures of our dead grandmother, who I’m not sure she even met. Everyone knows that anything that goes to San Francisco is unlikely to ever come back. The long and short of it is that my sister spoiled part of mother’s day by trying to take these pictures away. My mother successfully convinced her it would be ok just to put them in the closet. Really though, why would anyone rifle through unlabeled, unexplained photos of strangers? That sounds really boring.

While I’m on the subject of mother’s day, I need to complain about something else my sister did. She ignored me. She was barely more subtle about it than a kindergartener would have been. It was just me and her in the room. I look up at her, gesturing with a head of lettuce, “how much romaine do you think we need?” Nothing. She looked away and pretended I hadn’t said anything. When I passed her in the kitchen, all she did was raise one eyebrow in apparent disgust. I’m annoyed, but not especially mad. It was hurtful, but ultimately not surprising. She is 35, but often seems to forget and act like a 5 year old. Whatever. I’m over it….

In fairness, she was inconsistent about ignoring me. When she felt like it, or when my parents were around, she acted almost like nothing was wrong. And she made a pretty great lasagna.

So what would you do? Put the mother of the man you love into an unused bedroom? Or do you think it’s reasonable for my sister to make a big fuss?

My sister feels righteous about her moods. She thinks that because she is bipolar, she has a right to be moody. And maybe she does. But she broadcasts her every mood a bit too much, and seems to make no effort to fight against the paranoia. Every time she has a bad thought, she seems to just accept it as a real truth. She assumes the worst, and lets everyone know how terrible she feels they are being towards her. Maybe that’s her right. But it makes it uncomfortable to spend time with her, and the whole family feels it. My husband avoids her, my parents find her tiring to be with, and I’m a little bit scared of her.

Once, back in 2013, we were actually pretty close, or getting close. We did things together. We had good times. It was nice. But then I ruined it. All I wanted to do was help her. I told her that she might consider trying to reign in at least the display of her moods a little bit. I thought that if she just understood how her volatility cuts her off from the family, she might be able to repair relationships a bit, and be closer with the people who love her. But she took it as an attack, thought that I wasn’t respecting her condition enough, and that I just didn’t understand her the way she thought I should. She actually told me that it had been a mistake to confide in someone so young, and that it was a mistake to think I could ever understand. Since then she has barely spoken to me, and I’ve been too afraid to spend time alone with her.

Sorry, this post was all over the place. Here are some flowers from my garden. I find these ones especially exciting, particularly the love in a mist, which is my favorite.

May so far: A bad day, a good day, a false start, a fresh start (tomorrow)

So May is off to an interesting start. Very much in the extremes. Here’s the rundown.

May First: A Bad Day

Warning: TMI, feel free to skip to the 2nd. There’s no great way to say this, so I’ll just do it quick like a bandage. I peed myself. Hugely.

My husband will be volunteering at a hospital a maybe 30 minutes away from home. The hospital requires a background check, so he had to go to the sheriff’s office to get his fingerprints looked at or whatever. He doesn’t drive, so I drove him.

I made a point of using the restroom before we set out, but sometimes my body just doesn’t care how careful I’ve been. By the time we reached our destination, I was whimpering in desperation. my husband got out of the car while I was parking, so when I got inside, he’d already been wandering around trying to figure out where to go, and was able to tell me where the bathrooms were. I made it into the bathroom, but nowhere near to the stall. Louis CK said it best “I just see it. And my eyes tell the rest of me ‘f**k it man, let go, we’re here'” (he swears a lot in that clip, but I think you’ll agree that, in the situation, it’s called for). That’s what happened. I hobbled over to the stall, peeing the whole time, wondering why I couldn’t have had just a few more seconds.

You’d think I’d be overcome with mortification, but this sort of thing has happened to me before, and I’ve learned to throw myself at the mercy of others. Granted, in the past it’s always been people I knew, and who cared for me, but in this instance it was just a woman who happened to use one of the other stalls. See, I had left my phone in my car, and wanted to talk to my husband before moving from the safety of the stall. This woman kindly agreed to bring my phone from my unlocked car. She was able to find the car, which amazed me, because it has few identifying features. And she brought my phone to me.

I’d thought my husband would have some great idea, but no. He just advised me to come to the car, there weren’t many people around and I probably wouldn’t be seen. So it was kind of a wasted trip for the savior woman I never saw. My shoes squeaked on the tiled floor as I hurried, head down, out to the parking lot. I only encountered one person, and I just told myself that she had no reason to be looking at my legs, which were as blotched as a black and white cow.

My husband asked me, “how did you manage to get it on the front and  the back of your pants?”

“I don’t know. It just sort of exploded out.”

“Like a fire extinguisher.” We both laughed at that. By the way, you should feel free to laugh at this too, it would make me feel better. I’m one of those people who feels better admitting embarrassing things and laughing about them with others. I find secret embarrassments are somehow more embarrassing. Perhaps it’s just because my life has been mostly full of kind people…. That’s not to say that I would have wanted more witnesses! I just like to explain myself and feel understood.

I sat on his sweatshirt, to protect the car seat. We dropped off his paperwork and headed for home. And we almost got there, before he remembered that he had something else he needed to do in that other area–30 minutes away. He wouldn’t have forgotten, I’m certain, if I hadn’t distracted him with my urine. I didn’t have time to go home and shower because he had to do this thing by a certain time. I can’t even remember what it was…. Something to do with reading biometrics or some such. So, good little wifey that I am, I turned the car around, and took him back to the hospital. I waited in the car, but I have no idea how long. Time was really dragging at that point, making it even harder than usual for me to guess the minutes. Every second feels like a long time when you are a 25 year old worrying about getting diaper rash.

On the bright side, I have never enjoyed a shower more than I did that day.

I had a consolation bingefest, made of chocolate, chocolate, and even more chocolate, more than I even wanted to eat.

May Second: A Good Day

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It was a mayfair celebration, so of course there are flowers in my hair. Yeah, they’re real flowers

You will need a little bit of background at this point. I went to a tiny school called the East Bay Waldorf School from Kindergarten through high school. The high school part of the school failed after my class graduated, so it’s just pre-k through 8th now. I still love the school, and find ways to go back to visit when I can. In fact, I filmed it for a college project, which I hope I can eventually share with you. Right now I can’t, because it hasn’t been approved by EBWS for public viewing. The secretary of 16 years is graduating retiring this year, and specifically asked that I be brought in to sing at her retirement party. I love singing in public, so I was down. I don’t have a band though, so I had to use the instrumental tracks from an album I made in high school (that was with my friend Sara’s band, all seasoned professional jazz musicians). We had no way to feed the music through the PA speakers, so someone brought in a little bluetooth speaker, and we had to call it “good enough.” I sang three songs.

My husband couldn’t make it, so I had my mom film me for him. I thought I should share a video of one song with you lot, sort of my version of Rachael’s Off with the Cloak. I wouldn’t know what to say in a vlog, so I thought instead, I’d share something I’m considered good at. Again, you can’t hear the backing track that well, but I guess that’s not what you would be listening for anyway.

Anyway… No more stalling. Here it is

After the performance, when I was once again just a person in the crowd, I got a fair number of people thanking/congratulating me on my voice. I ate a lot of cupcakes, to celebrate.

May Third: A False Start

Not much to say about today. It was supposed to be my personal beginning of May, the May where I would be perfect all month long. But right at the end I ate too much naan.

May Fourth: A Fresh Start

….I hope. It’s only been 58 minutes so far.