Tag Archives: family

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!

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.

Adventures in eavesdropping

18 May

So, I’m sitting in a cafe, doing what it is that hip young people do in hip young(?) cafes and these three ladies sit down at the table next to me.

From the looks of things, they seem to be three generations of women from the same family – Grandma, Mama and Daughter. They seem tight I guess, I’m sure they’re nice.

Now, something you need to know about me now is that I am a shameless eavesdropper. Are you really having this conversation in public? Well then you’d better believe I’m listening. I’d apologize but, like I said, shameless.

Daughter looks to be a bit older than me but I’ve never been a good judge of those kinds of things so really, I might just be full of shit. She is also, as my cunning eavesdropping has deducted, in the midst of a significant personal crisis. Mama and Grandma seem to have brought her here to stage a bit of an intervention.

It’s not sex, drugs, or even, I’m sad to say, rock n’ roll that seem to be this young lady’s problem – it’s really just life. She bought a house before she was ready and without job security, she’s maxed out her credit cards and is swimming in debt and, from what I can glean without being too obvious, got involved with a man that left her high and dry. Oh, and it sounds like she’s in total denial about just how bad her situation is. Eeek.

My first reaction when I realized what was going on was “Fuck, this is AWKWARD”. Nothing like calling out all of a person’s poor choices right there in public. Like, every so often it sounds like she’s weeping and I’m all REALLY? Devastating.

But the more I listen in the more I can appreciate what Mama and Grandma are doing. Yeah, this might not be the best place but then again maybe it’s perfect – after all, she’s not going to blow up and start screaming in a crowded cafe, right? (Oh god, please don’t blow up and start screaming).

As much as Daughter is resisting, Mama and Grandma are really laying on the tough love. She might not like it right now, but it sounds like this girl really needs a couple of kind souls in her corner right now. She’s lucky to have them, I hope she lets them help her.

Remember when my boss told me I needed to get some perspective? Yeah. Yikes. Thanks cosmic forces, I’m picking up what you’re laying down, thanks.