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The true spirit of the season

11 Oct

It’s Thanksgiving up here in the Great White North and while most of the nation seemed to deem yesterday as a more appropriate time to gobble some gobbler, my family prefers to follow tradition and actually observe eating turkey as an expression of gratitude on the day properly alloted by our government.

Also, we totally didn’t bother to do our grocery shopping until last night.

Whatever.

As I type, I’m sitting in my newly constructed workspace (it’s a fancy vintage chair that my mom had forgotten that she owned and a folding TV table. I set it up in front on my window though so I’ve got a nice view, if nothing else. Anything is better then working hunched over my laptop on my bed all the time) salivating at the smells that are beginning to waft up the stairs and doing a damn fine job of avoiding people for a while.

See, holidays at our house seem to serve one main purpose: to force us to do all the things we should be doing all the time, but aren’t. Things like spending time with the family, counting our blessings, cleaning the house, etc.

Saturday and Sunday were the very definitions of chaos. You’d think that we would learn to start keeping some kind of regular cleaning schedule after EVERY major holiday that has rolled around during which we nearly destroy the house and each other trying to get it ready before the guest show up. We are a family of epic procrastinators. It is a problem.

So there has been some scrapping and a lot of time wasted. Mom’s been a bit weepy since Youngest Brother unceremoniously informed her that he would not, in fact, be coming home this weekend (6 months and counting, yo). I got into a big nasty fight with Boyfriend on Saturday night. Dad’s pretending this isn’t a holiday at all and Mom and I have been glaring in the general direction of Middle Brother’s bedroom where he and his new girlfriend (whom he took the liberty of inviting over for a WEEK without consulting any of us) have been since last night. They’re awake, they’re just playing video games and watching movies and not interacting with the family.

On Thanksgiving.

At 5pm.

Nice.

But it’s not all bad. In fact, for all of my griping, this has been a pretty decent holiday weekend. For starters, it’s three days long, which is always a bonus. For all the chaos, there has been much sleeping and chillaxing. I’ve enjoyed the nice weather with my dog and eaten like calories don’t count. Mom made me coffee with Bailey’s so I’m feelin’ pretty good. My mom is pretty wicked.

All things considered, I’m pretty happy.

I’m employed, I have a place to live and my family, for all of our aimless rage, ain’t half bad.

I’m pretty lucky.

So today, I’m going to put my regular sassy, bitchy self under the bed for a while and do what you’re supposed to do on Thanksgiving: count my blessings and get inordinately pissed.

Happy Turkey Day, everyone!

Close encounters of the OMGWTF kind

13 Jul

When I’m home, I tend to do all of my work sitting cross-legged on my bed, computer in lap and sheets bunched by the foot board. You see, I don’t have a desk and working anywhere else in my house leaves me open as a target for family members who can’t/refuse to accept that someone like me could have, say, deadlines.

So yes, I work on my bed. Like a teenager doing her homework. Or something. Whatever.

Yesterday, as I sat in position typing away furiously, I happened to catch a flicker of movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked down and there, picking its way across my mattress, was a bug. A tiny bug, but a big nonetheless.

And that’s fine. Bugs, they happen.

I took a closer look and THIS, dear reader, is what I saw:

Guys, I lost my fucking mind.

WHAT THE SHIT IS THAT?

I had never seen bedbugs before so I had no idea if perhaps that was the stranger crawling his way toward me. I hadn’t had any reason to assume that this would have been an issue before that moment of course but it was a bug and it was IN my BED.

And then I noticed the pincers and I thought Jebus, it looks like an itty bitty crab…

HOLY FUCK AN ITTY BITTY CRAB.

CRABS??

Again, I had no idea what body crabs looked like and even though I KNEW without a doubt that this also wasn’t an issue (I’ve heard that you, y’know, tend to NOTICE that sort of thing). Also, why was it touring my mattress? Wouldn’t it have had more important places to be?

But forget rationality. It didn’t matter, there was a crazy-ass bug with goddamn pincers in my bed and I was FREAKING OUT.

All I was thinking was fuck my life, I just spent four nights in a hotel. Didn’t I read Somewhere that you can get bugs at hotels? IT’S AN INFESTATION OH GOD

It wasn’t an infestation. It was one bug. But again, all rationality was out the window.

I calmed myself enough to lure the wanderer onto a scrap of paper (not without difficulties mind you. Turns out he was a feisty little bastard, as made evident by the fact that he chose to SPAR WITH THE PAPER. Seriously, picture it – teeny little pincers versus colossal scrap of paper. He wasn’t going down without a fight).

I flew downstairs and called frantically for my family. Both Mom and Middle Brother instantly ruled out bedbugs and body crabs.

“That is not what bedbugs look like,” said Mom all matter-of-factly. She IS a mom after all, so I felt inclined to believe her.

“And it’s definitely not a body crab,” of this Middle Brother seemed awfully certain.

There were awkward glances exchanged in silence, followed by,

“NO, I’M NOT SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE.”

He thought it looked more like a scorpion anyway.

For that I punched him.

So we turned to friend Google where they first pulled up pictures of the aforementioned creepy crawlers to put my mind at ease:

A bedbug. The heebie jeebies: I has them

A crab louse. Picture me, projectile vomiting while conducting THIS image search. UHG.

Yes, thanks for that. Are you feeling itchy too? It’s okay, you don’t have to tell me where. You’re welcome though.

So what was it?

It only took Middle Brother a few moments to figure it out.

“Chelonethida,” he announced triumphantly as we huddled around the monitor where he had pulled up the Wikipedia article.

“Look, see!” said Mom. “They’re harmless! It even says they’re beneficial to humans because they eat other, grosser bugs! Do you feel better now?”

Yes, it was certainly reassuring to know that a) I didn’t have an infestation in my bed and, b) that I wasn’t going to die in my sleep, but it was hard to feel relieved with the word PSUDOSCORPION STARING YOU IN THE FACE.

“I knew it was a scorpion,” Middle Brother was feeling pretty proud of himself.

“Wannabe scorpion!” I shrieked as I ran back upstairs to gather my bedding. “Fake-out-scorpion, not-quite-there-scorpion, POSER!”

And into the wash it all went. I may not be in Texas getting attacked by real scorpions like some other bloggers we all know, but that doesn’t mean I’m down with poser scorpion slumber parties either. After all, I have standards

Death by fan or, Of oscillating fans and convection ovens

9 Jul

My region, much like what seems to be a rather sizable chunk of North America if the tweets are to be any indication, is in the midst of a disgusting heat wave.

I hate heat waves.

But not enough to do much about them, so.

My family lives in an old farm house. It’s something like 150-years old. As you can well imagine, it doesn’t have air conditioning. My room is upstairs in the un-air conditioned 150-year old house.

It’s toasty.

The rooms of my parents and Middle Brother are also upstairs and two days into this grungy weather both of those rooms welcomed in-window air conditioning units.

“They’re only $100 you know,” he informed me as he stood in my doorway watching me languish all sloth-like and half-conscious on my bed.

“No. I’ve got more important things to spend my money on. Besides, sweating builds character.”

He shrugged, left, and returned a moment later with the tall oscillating fan that he had been using to keep cool up until that point.

He plugged it in and all was well. Parking my ass in front of the whirling blades, I thanked him for the relief.

With a completely straight face he replied,

“You know those things kills seniors, eh? They just blow all the hot air right into their faces and it turns them into human convection ovens and SNAP, they’re dead.”

And without missed a beat he turned on his heel and left me staring at my brand new death fan in jaw-dropped terror.

Jam: Coming to an America near you

18 Jun

This is not a real post. Well, it IS I guess, if you need to get all technical and shit (geeze, always with the getting technical and shit. When will you learn to LIVE a little?)

I’m feeling pretty guilty about the fact that I haven’t had the time this week to toss up the posts I’ve written (oh, that’s right, I’ve WRITTEN them, I has haven’t sat down infront of my computer long enough/I’m too lazy to take a minute to copy and past. I get it, ok? I’M A BAD BLOGGER WHO LOVES CAPSLOCK AND PARENTHESES). I also just reinstalled the WordPress Blackberry app and even though it used to hate me, I’m willing to give it another try if it means that blogging will be that much easier. Hear that WordPress Blackberry app? Let’s learn to love each other again – FOR THE READERS.

Anyway.

So Boyfriend and I are heading down to the US of A in a couple of weeks. It’s Canada Day, you see, and because we’re both so Canadian it hurts EVERY DAY of the year, this long weekend seemed like as good a time as any to take a mini vacation.

Ok, so there’s also some business that’s bringing us down there but eff if we’re going to go all the way down there for ONE DAY on our LONG WEEKEND. So we’re making a holiday out of it.

The problem is that it’s also the 4th of July long weekend and my mom’s American friends have convinced her that if we go down on the long weekend, we will die. Or at least not be able to find a hotel for our stay.

She and I spent most of last night batting the subject back and forth.

“What are you going to do if you get down there and all the hotels are booked up, hmm?”

“Mom…”

“No, really, what? Sleep in your car?”

“Sure!”

“NO”

So she demanded that we book the hotel now just to be on the safe side. Yes, I know that this is the logical thing to do. We were planning on booking hotel rooms in advance, just not RIGHT THIS MINUTE. My general apathy towards the whole thing just stressed her out, which in turn stressed me out. I guess I had it coming.

(Also, almost all of my travel is spontaneous. Pre-planning stresses me out. Like, what if something happens and we don’t end up going? THOSE ROOMS ARE NON-REFUNDABLE)

Boyfriend was just making matters worse with his inability to focus long enough to help me come up with a plan.

“My new computer is fucking wiiiiicked!”

“Babe…”

“Did I tell you what our director did this time? He’s a PSYCHO.”

“I’m sorry to hear this. Can we finish sorting out the trip?”

“Did you hear that there’s a Vuvuzela iPhone app? That’s a good way to get your ASS KICKED.”

“FOR THE LOVE OF GOD FOCUS”

(Editor’s note: He never did focus)

By the end of the night I was so stressed that I started second guessing everything: life, mortality, the cosmos…. But mostly just the trip.

I am BROKE. I am so busy! I don’t have the time for this! What made me think a vacation was a good idea? BALLS

So I finally said FUCK IT and went to bed instead.

But now it’s tomorrow and after having slept and had the time to cool down and think it over (the fact that I ALSO just had the most AMAZING massage ever doesn’t hurt either), I’ve realize that all of those reasons are exactly WHY I should be getting away for a few days.

Ok, maybe not the being broke part. But whatever.

The truth is, I am SO stressed. Money, my family, working nonstop – aren’t those the sort of things that drive people into needing holidays in the first place?

I NEED a vacation.

Now not only is the trip on, but I’m really starting to lookforward to it too.

So watch your back, America.

Uh, please and thank you.

Weekend of blah blah blah

6 Jun

Saturday: Boyfriend and I took off to the big city to catch a baseball game. I turned off my phone and decided that I was just going to ENJOY MYSELF for a change. It was a little scary and there were definitely a few withdrawal tremors earlier in the day.

And you know what? We had a blast. We got matching sunburns, got drunk in the stands and watched my team kick ass. What was supposed to be a shitty day weather-wise wound up being perfect, we ate delicious food and when we got back home he decided he was sick of the fact that I am, as it turns out, terrible at baseball and took me outside to teach me how to swing a bat.

HIM: Bend your knees! Stick your ass out a little! C’mon!

ME: INAPPROPRIATE!

I’m still pretty awful but it was a lot of fun.

Sunday: Everything about today made up for how great yesterday was. I woke up to – surprise! – my family in a shitty mood.

Every time Dad opened his mouth it was to yell at one of us (“That cardboard box should be placed in the recycling vertically, not tossed in horizontally! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUUUU?” – That is, sadly, almost verbatim. This, apparently, is all he is capable of. At the risk of sounding like some emo kid, I can’t really remember the last time he said something nice to me.

Mom decided to make me pay for the fact that I dared to taste freedom for a day by putting me to work despite the fact that I had scheduled the day for working on projects (that’s okay though. I mean, I’m in my 20s and living at home so how important could my freelance clients POSSIBLY be, right?). I understand that she’s stressed and that I have to pull my weight, especially given the circumstances, but I cannot get ANYTHING done. To illustrate said point, I’ve been called back downstairs to help her with ridiculous little things THREE times since I’ve started this post.

And Middle Brother, who is rarely to be seen on a weekend at the best of times (a double standard, if I may be so self-righteous as to point out) announced that he and his (on again, off again) girlfriend of 6 years(ish) have broken up for good. This being the third time this has happened, and what with the reasons for it being pretty solid, we all know it’s for the best. He’s taking it significantly better than the last time this happened, which was, as it turns out, almost exactly a year ago. Last summer he spent each day in tears and/or intoxicated so this year’s brooding is an upgrade to be sure.

Still, angst.

The best this to come of this day was the result of some desperate, family-related madness that had me sitting down and re-budgeting my life so I could figure out how to get out of here faster. I realized that if I started putting all excess funds (usually split between my credit card and savings) toward paying off said credit card (excluding extra income that I get from freelancing. That will continue to go towards beefing up my savings. Ha! Beefing.) I could have that sucker paid off by the end of next month.

This revelation made the rest of the day so much easier to take.

I feel so bad that the only time I seem to blog about my family is when I’m bitching about them. We’ve been through so much together and we are SO much closer than I make it sound. I swear we have our fun too, see?

She felt bad, I swear.

It’s not like I’m ungrateful for the fact that my parents took me back in, nor do I think for a second that my life will be easier once I’m on my own (Conservative estimates see me living below the poverty line).

It’s just that KNOW that I can’t do this anymore. I can’t deal with the rage and bitterness ALL THE TIME. I can’t deal with the blatant disregard for the importance of my work and the extra income it provides me with. I can’t deal with being scolded like a douchebaggy teenager for wanting to invest some time into my relationship. I can’t deal with being yelled at for forgetting to turn off a light or for getting frustrated when I’m always being expected to lend a hand when my brother is free to come and go as he pleases.

I’m tired. My heart hurts. I need to start standing on my own two feet without having to worry about this ALL THE TIME.

I need out.

So the question is this:

Am I justified? Or am I just selfish?

Because, sometimes? I’m just not sure.

A family this close

1 Jun

My youngest brother is 5 years my junior. He was 3 when our parents got split. My Mom, Middle Brother and I worked hard to shield him from the traumas of divorce, life on welfare and the loneliness that accompanies constantly being uprooted. I did my best to help my mom with raising him, so he and I have always been pretty close.

At 17, he moved out of the house to live with his partner and closer to school/work and to just get out on his own. He moved to a big city with said partner two years ago for college and, up until now, he had been doing pretty well for himself.

A month ago he and his partner broke up. He wound up moving into a newer (more expensive) apartment with a friend but because they’re both students, they needed a co-signer on the lease. Now, if it hasn’t become apparent by now, my parents are in a bit of a bad way financially. As much as my mom would have loved to have helped him, there was no way her name was going to get them that apartment. Middle Brother offered to help instead, with Youngest Brother swearing that no bad would ever come of it.

And now?

Now Youngest Brother is a month into his summer and still can’t find a job. June rent was coming due and he does not have it.

So he called my mom in a fury, making her feel guilty for not helping him through this. According to him, she helped me through school so why isn’t she supporting him? He doesn’t hear her when she tells him that’s not true and tries to make him understand that if she had the money, she’d help him.

And so now he wants me to co-sign on a student line of credit for him.

It took me a long time to calm down enough to call him back (because, god forbid he call me himself). A huge part of my wanted to just scream at him, but another, equally large part of me was scared that I would be running the risk of permanently damaging our relationship, all that history, no matter how delicate I tried to be.

I finally caved the other night.

I decided to be firm, y’know, stick to my guns – I told him that I wanted to help him but that I also had to consider my own well-being too. He had already put Middle Brother in a bad spot so I was reserving the right to be cautious. Is co-signing for this going to impact my ability to get my own place? What about when I need to replace my poor old car? I told him he needs to find out and he obliged. If this doesn’t work out, I said, we’ll find another way. I don’t really know what that other way might be but I didn’t know what else to say.

Then, because I couldn’t HELP MYSELF, I reminded him that our mother did not, in fact, put me through school. A person doesn’t wrack up $35,000 in student debt when their parents are paying their way, amirite? I reminded him that as much as I would have liked to have stayed in the city over my summers with my friends and working cool jobs I KNEW I couldn’t afford it so I had to suck it up and move home each year. I also let him know that I almost had to drop out of my 3rd year of university because I didn’t have enough money. How’s THAT for perspective?

There were some quiet, I dare say embarrassed mumblings of, “Yeah, I know…” from his end.

Finally, I told him that he needs to go easy on mom. I told him that I know he’s stressed but he doesn’t understand the magnitude of what’s happening here at home. That it’s easy for all three of us – him, Middle Brother and I – to get frustrated and criticize the decisions that have gotten our parents into the position that they are in, but we CAN’T hold that against them, especially right now when we are all each other has. I told him that he needs to believe that mom would help him if she could, just like she used to when she had the money to give (how quickly he forgets the extra money she would slide into his account every month, and how he never once had to pay for his car insurance because she did it for him).

“Bud, we all need each other right now,” I said. “And we are too close of a family for this shit.”

Silence. And then,

“I know, I’m sorry.”

I went downstairs to hang up the phone and mom piped up,

“Oh! Was that your brother? I wanted you to tell him something.”

She wanted me to tell him that she had managed to come up with the money for his June rent and she wanted me to transfer it to him because she can’t.

“I’ll get the money from my account and pay you back tomorrow,” She assured me.

I was hesitant. This seemed to be a little too easy.

“Mom, can you actually afford to give him this money?”

Of course she didn’t. She tried to act like it was no big deal but that guilty look came over her and she admitted that what she was giving to Youngest Brother was coming from the mortgage payment for June.

“We’ll just have to take the hit,” She was wearing that broken little smile that breaks my heart. “I don’t really have a choice, do I?”

I called him back and sent through the money from my savings account.

“Thank you.” He whispered.

“Call your mother.” I sighed.

Then I went downstairs to where our mother sat very still, very quiet.

“You know, I don’t need that money right away,” I told her. “How about you pay me back on pay day, ok?”

She looked up at me with glassy eyes.

“Thank you.”

She sounded just like her son.

I might get that money back, but to prevent further disappointment I’m already counting it at a loss. Part of me feels like I shouldn’t be doing this anymore, the other part feels like I couldn’t do anything else.

I mean, what am I supposed to do?

Breathe in, breathe out and carry on.

This post is full of angst, way too personal and exceptionally ranty. You’ve been warned.

13 May

You know what’s awkward?

Crying in front of your boss. This is especially true when said boss also happens to be a dude. A dud-boss, if you will. I don’t know about you, but crying in front of anyone is pretty high on my list of most awkward things ever, but crying in front of a dude-boss makes for a particularly special kind of torture.

And what, I ask, is more awkward than crying in front of your dude-boss when you already hate crying in front of anyone in the first place? Crying in front of said dude-boss for the reasons I did today.

When it comes to the nadirs of life, there are two things I’m big on: 1) Fixing problems instead of riding them out (which sucks when the only thing that can fix a problem is to ride it out. Patience: Not a virtue I possess), and 2) Pretending things don’t bother me nearly as much as they do (which, if not stymied in some sort of healthy fashion can lead to, among other things, crying in front of people like my dude-boss). I like to think that this blog will be a good creative outlet for the latter but in the grand scheme of life I really just need to work on my fight-or-flight reactions to problems.

Life has been handing me lemons faster than I can make lemonade lately. Some of these problems are petty, some of them are serious. None of them are the end of the world and I KNOW that everything will work itself out in the end. But let’s be real here – who the fuck actually finds that little piece zen useful when they’re in the midst of personal angst? C’MON.

But anyway.

I think it was just too much at once and not enough venting. I was like a bottle of champagne bursting my cork (I love how inappropriate that sounds), minus the bubbly good times. I hate feeling helpless and feeling like I have no one to turn to, but that was where I was at. I just didn’t expect dude-boss to be the one who would get to hear my (literal) sob story.

I had a lot on my mind when dude-boss pulled me aside to tell me that he was disappointed in me for opting out of some office social event.

And that was it. I just started to cry. I started to cry like a fucking child and told HIM what was bothering me. I didn’t tell him all of it, but I told him more than I had told anyone else up until that point. And, how pathetic is that? How pathetic is it that I didn’t feel like I could tell anyone about this stuff, only to tell my dude-boss instead? Uhg.

I told him about my recession-ravaged parents and how my mom, who has worked so hard for so long, finally broke down and had to ask my brother and I for money just to get her and my dad through until the next payday because they had nothing left. I told him about how I just had to decimate my savings account in order to pay off some debt just so I could start getting ahead. As good as it feels to be rid of the burden, I am devastated at being right back to where I started after so much hard work. I would have to be totally helpless at the worst possible time.

I told him about the guilt I felt about wanting, needing, so desperately to move out on my own, both for my own sanity and to relieve some of the burden from my parents. But I can’t even afford a deposit on some shitty apartment now, and fuck if it doesn’t sting to know that I was so close to not even have to go that route in the first place.

I didn’t tell him about my ungrateful youngest brother and the horrible, hateful things he wrote to my mom, damning her and our family for not helping him more when they can’t even help themselves. I also didn’t tell him about my boyfriend, who had told me he wanted to move in together and got my hopes up and everything only to decide that he wasn’t financially ready for it. Two weeks later he told me that he was moving into a new, more expensive apartment and the beginning of next month. He told me this as if we had never talked about moving in together, as if I should be excited for him. I didn’t tell dude-boss these things, but I did tell him how horrible it feels to feel betrayed by people I thought I could rely on.

He told me I need to get some perspective. I told him I’m sick of getting fucking perspective. I get it – there are people in Nashville who have lost their homes to rampant floods, the ocean is being poisoned thanks to a bunch of greedy dipshit bastards and in the grand scheme of things, my problems aren’t that bad. But right now, they’re bad enough.

And then he told me to stop.

“You can’t help anyone if you can’t help yourself,” he said. “A starving man feeds no one.”

Have you ever noticed how, sometimes, you just need someone else to tell you what you’ve already been thinking before you can believe it? I’ve felt so unbelievably guilty about wanting (needing) to move out when my family is going through such a rough time. I felt like that would be fleeing when the real answer to the problem would be to fight.

Except that this is one fight that I’m just not cut out for. He is so, SO right about that. I just needed to hear it to be able to accept it.

Once I finished building a sculpture of snot-tissue on his conference table, he hugged me and made me go home. For all the shame and guilt I felt for having bawled my eyes out like that to someone like him, I also felt a lot better for the first time in a long time.