Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's "Grateful"?

I got to thinking about the word "grateful" this morning. Most everyone uses it. "We're so grateful for this," or "I'm so grateful for you." I'm not sure I have a grasp of what this word means. Does it essentially mean the same thing for everyone? Should it? If not, how does that affect how we communicate? What does it mean to be grateful? Is there an action required here? Is it a mere emotion, attitude or state of being similar to boredom, anxiety, curiosity, giddiness, etc.? When you are grateful for something or someone, who are you grateful to? To the person who brought you whatever thing you are grateful for? To yourself for identifying and accepting the thing into your life? To your god? Can you define/explain/express gratitude without bringing religion into it? I am particularly interested in this last question.

So, what do YOU think? Anyone have any insight? I know we all have an opinion. While I keep "insight" and "opinions" distinctly separate, I have a strong interest in both!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Our "Minister"

Andrew and I met with the lady who is going to marry us a couple of weeks ago. She wants to get to know us a little before the ceremony and I appreciate that because then she can tailor the ceremony to us. I don't want the same stale wedding vows everyone else recites but doesn't really contemplate the meaning of. Don't get me wrong. Many people say the classic vows and do understand them, do mean them, and do feel they speak to them personally. I don't feel that way. So, if I were to say them, I wouldn't feel they had any meaning. We want to do what has meaning to us. One set of vows we are considering says something like this:
"This ceremony confirms for everyone else what we already know to be true"
WOW! Is that perfect for us or what? I mean we've been together for 10 years now! We keep getting the advice, "It's a bit different, living together married vs. not married." We get that advice from people who were together for only a few years before they got married. We've got 10 years behind us. Nice try, but it's not quite the same!

Anyway... the lady marrying us is non-denominational minister. I prefer to refer to her as our "officiant" however because the term "minister" is quite misunderstood. It's often associated with Christianity but it certainly doesn't refer to only Christian leaders or even to just religious leaders (i.e. "Prime Minister"). But Christians think they own everything (including marriage and a 2-block radius around ground zero) so I try to be careful with the term. Especially after Andrew's mom's reaction to the word, "Did you say 'minister'? I thought you guys aren't religious? Why are you using a minister?" I quickly set her straight. I really don't know why people jump to conclusions so quickly. Andrew's mom knows us pretty well. She has a pile of evidence as big as her house that tells her Andrew and I are not religious. But she flinched at that 1 word and that made her question us and ignore everything she already knows to be true. I don't know what it's like to have such little self-assurance and I don't want to know. Plenty of people do the same thing, not just Andrew's mom (I don't want to pick on her all the time).

I am really happy with who we chose as our officiant. She respects and supports all faiths and doesn't believe one to be more or less true than another. When she says the word "god" she's talking about an idea, not a person, being, or thing (which is why I personally choose not to capitalize it). She has similar feelings to ours about organized religion, although I think Andrew and I lean a little further in one direction. She told us about a very interesting couple she married recently. They were young, only 23 years old. The guy went to West Point. He has strong negative feelings about the military. I think he went to West Point to learn more about the military so he can challenge it and perhaps promote change one day. He's also a devout atheist. Just before he got married he was given some lifetime achievement honor (at only 23). His achievement? He has read each and every book about war that has ever been written. In his reading, he found religion at the heart of every single war. Not surprising. But nice to have it confirmed by a competent source. I really liked that our minister found this guy interesting and respectable. I'm sure she told us that story to deliver the message, "I keep all kinds of company and respect all belief systems, especially the well-informed ones." Message received. We made the right choice!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Drive-Thru Fun!

I go to drive-thrus often enough to know the routine...
Roll my eyes, settle in, put in a nice audio book or something if I'm behind a big-ass SUV or minivan cuz that order is probably going to take a while to place, and then even longer to make. If said big-ass vehicle is filled with children, I will probably park and walk inside, then (ignorantly) congratulate myself for having no children (yet). Momentary ignorance born out of frustration is forgivable, I've decided.

Have my own order ready to go for when it's my turn up at the window. I don't want to be a hypocrite, after all. And come on, will the Wendy's or Taco Bell menu ever change ALL THAT MUCH that I'll be so perplexed and awed by it, I'll have to contemplate my order for another 5 minutes? No. No, it won't. Not ever. If I know where I'm going, I think about what I want on the way there. It aint rocket science.

If I'm a picky orderer (sometimes I am) I'll just order my sandwich plain... that saves me the worry of them forgetting I don't want just the pickles, and saves them the time of thinking about each and every item. It's quick and easy to leave everything off.

I get my money out as I'm driving up to the window... for obvious reasons.

I don't take forever to look in the bag and check to make sure my order is right. I don't need to man-handle and get to second base with my sandwich before I drive away. It's common courtesy!
More about ordering... I typically tell the drive-thru attendant every detail about my order without them having to ask, in order to speed things up. However, I find that more and more these days, that courtesy is completely useless! Here's how my typical ordering goes (x=drive-thru attendant):
C: I'd like a small #1 with curly fries and a diet coke
X: A number 1.... what size?
C: [sigh] small

X: and what to drink?

C: [shake my head] A diet coke. I wanted curly fries with that too.

X: Oh, curly fries? Okay. Pull forward.

C: Oye!
I hate that routine. I hate it with a passion. It's the little things in life! We have breakfast burritos downstairs at work. The 4 different kinds are: The Works, Veggie Lovers, Classic with Bacon and The Classic. I always order the classic (eggs, cheese and salsa). Here's how that goes:
C: I'd like the classic, please

X: Classic with bacon?

C: [No, dude! If I wanted "Classic with Bacon" I would have said, "Classic with Bacon!" They're 2 separate menu items. When I order, "Small turkey sandwich, please" you don't ask, "Turkey and ham?" WTF????] No, just the classic.

X: With salsa?

C: [finding this question less annoying] Yes, please
I cringe if I walk up to order my breakfast burrito and 1 particular guy is working. He does it all wrong. He puts the tortilla down on the grill, puts the shredded cheese on the tortilla (so far, so good), then puts the cold salsa on top of the warming tortilla and melting cheese. Problem! The coldness of the salsa and acidity of the tomatoes stops the cheese from melting, then separates it. I am then left with an egg, salsa, curds and whey burrito. No bueno! I want to correct him so badly! Tell him, "Please put the tortilla down on the grill, then the cheese on the tortilla, then the eggs on the cheese for some hot, steamy, melty goodness, then the salsa on top of the egg!" But then I feel stupid and petty for wanting to ask him to do that. So I don't. Lame!

This weekend I had a fun one at the drive-thru:
C: Small #12 please with curly fries and a diet Coke

X: How many #12's?

C: [WTF?] I said a small #12 with curly fries and a diet coke

X: You want 4 #12's?

C: [Holy fuck] No. Just 1 number 12.

X: What size?

C: [AAAAAHHHHHHHH] Small

X: What do you want to drink?

C: [Good lord. A diet fucking coke!] Diet coke, please

X: Is your order right on the screen?

C: No, I want curly fries with the combo [for the third time!].

X: Oh, okay.
I did have one victory at that same drive-thru a week or 2 ago. I pulled in behind the dreaded minivan. I had my window down already so I could hear the lady ordering. And she took out a coupon flier. She had lots of questions. More questions and coupons than I had patience. I put it in reverse, ran over only 1 small child (kidding, relax), parked, went in and ordered. I could hear her ordering from inside the restaurant. "I have a coupon for buy 1 get one free for that." "I have a coupon for free fries with that sandwich." "I have a coupon for 20% off that came with my labotomy." My joy arose as I was handed my order, got into my car, and left faster than the minivan made it through the drive-thru. Victory! Woo Hooooo! I was happy for the rest of the night. :D

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bummer

Today is a total bummer. Remember that horrible week I had that culminated in me not getting a job I interviewed for? Well, another girl I work with got it. I like the girl so I can't say anything bad about her. I can say with confidence that I would have done a better job than she will do. I know it. She doesn't have the oomph or the spunk that I have. I take on a passion for the things I do. And I would have taken that job and run with it in a way she will not. But she's been here longer than me and has a degree I do not. So... whatever. And maybe they just like her more than they like me, who knows? Anything's possible. Honestly, I think I failed this. If I'm so darn great, I should have gotten the job, right? Well, my failure was in convincing them. I didn't do or say enough to convince them. And I take all the blame for that (and beat myself up about it every time I'm reminded about it... which is every damn day).

Back to why today sucks. Today is a "Congratulations!" lunch for her. I just can't attend. Not out of anger. Just because I don't want to cry into my caprese sandwich and cause a scene, or think to myself, "Damnit, Christina. How did you fuck this up? How did you not get this job?" only to realize I didn't think it to myself, I accidentally said it out loud like I do in my car ride home from work every day.

On top of the "Congratulations!" lunch today, it also turns out that I have to give up my lovely window office overlooking the library and the big flowing fountain... to her.

My (soon to be former) view

The reason for that is because my boss is turning the main office suite into the graduate office suite. And now she's a part of the graduate team. Everyone who is not a part of that team has slowly moved out of this suite. I'm the last man standing. I'll be taking my walk of shame to a dark, interior, windowless office later today. Yesterday I moved a lot of my things down to my new office on a rolling cart. One that squeaks really loudly while it rolls. It drew a lot of attention. "Where are YOU moving to?" I might as well have had a cowbell around my neck and dunce cap on my head. That's how I felt. Honestly, it's not the windowlessness or the move that sucks. It's just that it's to make room for the person who got the job I wanted. I want the damn wound from this to close up but it's as if someone keeps rubbing sandpaper and lemon juice on it. I'd better either get used to it or apply for a job with another department. But I don't like either one of those options.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tired

I'm officially tired of this. I've been getting tired of it for a while but now I'm there. I have arrived at tired and unpacked all my bags. I'm tired of thinking about it. Tired of crying about it. Tired of worrying about it. Tired of talking about it. Tired of blogging about it. And I think perhaps you are tired of reading about it! A piece from Wicked is ringing in my head:
All right, enough - so be it
So be it, then:

Let all Oz be agreed

I'm wicked through and through

Since I can not succeed

Fiyero, saving you

I promise no good deed

Will I attempt to do again

Ever again

No good deed

Will I do again!

My dad called me today. "Long time, no talk," I get. "Yep," I say. Thinking, the phone goes both ways. And, we've gone months without talking in the past, what's the diff now? But I guess I kinda know what the diff is now, don't I?

He wanted to talk about wedding stuff, and then started in about bio-mom. He asked about her at my shower. I told him she probably isn't coming because it's a small setting. She wants to come but she knows that could be a lot worse than the wedding. However, if my mom calls out sick to the shower, bio-mom will be there. And she could call out sick. She's generally a sickly person. Always has something currently wrong or is waiting on test results for something that might be wrong (ie. cancer). The current ailments are: pneumonia, kidney stones, and some kind of digestion/bowel/colon problem. Apparently she was in the emergency room last week. Thanks for the heads up, guys!

My mom told my dad all about our conversation a few weeks ago. My dad wanted to clear things up, I guess. Every time I speak to either one of them, they mention, "Well we're just upset because she said she'd never contact you. She sent us a letter saying, 'If you haven't told her about me yet, I'll just leave you alone but if you have, this is how you reach me'." My parents cannot let go of this. And every time they mention it, I repeat like a broke record, "Well I'm upset at you guys for never telling me I was adopted. I got over it. So can you."

My dad mentioned that I said to my mom that bio-mom said to me (confusing?) that she had a phone conversation with him where he said they would tell me I was adopted. My mom denies that my dad ever spoke to her. I suggested perhaps my dad didn't tell her about it because he's a pro at protecting her (and lying). Well my dad addressed this today. He denied it to me, directly. He said he never spoke to her. Now, the point is moot (that one's for you, Dawn) at this stage in the game. But... I don't like that someone is lying here. I am up to my eyeballs in lies. And y'all can think about me whatever you want, but I kinda believe bio-mom. My parents have lied about so many things. Things I won't even share with people because they are just such horrendous lies, I can't even bring myself to repeat them. And bio-mom has no reason to lie about it.

So I'm at the point where I'm just tired. I don't want to go back and forth anymore. If more lies will ensue then I'm fighting a losing battle. I'm throwing in the towel. My lines parallel with Wicked's something like this:
All right, enough - so be it
So be it, then:
Let my folks be agreed
I'm selfish through and through
Since I can not succeed
Mother, pleasing you
I promise no bad situation
Will I attempt to make good again
Ever again
No bad situation
Will I make good again!
And I will forever feel like a failure for it. There is a way. A way to make all of this better. But I just can't find it. Andrew keeps saying he'll talk to my mom for me (or in his words, "yell at her" for me). I appreciate the thought. But it is just further proof that I have failed. And hurt people along the way. Poor bio-mom has wondered and worried about me over the years and she was just trying to do the right thing by giving me up. I'm hurting my mom terribly with the way I want to live my life, and she has already been hurt so much by others. All this over a dumb teenage indiscretion that never shoulda happened. I'm gonna legally change my name to that. Dumb Teenage Indiscretion That Never Shoulda Happened. You can just call me "Dumb" for short. Or "Ms. Indiscretion" in a formal setting.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fun Stuff

To counteract the negativity about the wedding, I would like to now post some fun stuff about the wedding! These are the photos that have inspired me most:

(I tried to put them together nicely so that they all fit perfectly without too much space but it didn't work out... I work full-time, go to school full-time, I have this shin-dig to plan, a honeymoon to plan, Andrew to micro-manage, and puppies to spoil... I'm busy)

click on image for a larger view

The inspiration from the tables and general decor came from that first photo, top left. Black and white printed fabric topped/accented with splashes of color! People keep asking me what my colors are and are often disappointed/confused with this answer (I'm a professional at disappointing people these days). I have this pic on my iphone and I usually just pull up the photo to show them.

On Sunday's brunch after the wedding, the tables will be all black and white linens with a black and white print fabric in the middle (cut out in the design you see on the cake plate), a big glass bowl/vase with multi-colored petals (from the color schemes above) and floating votives in it, then petals scattered on the table under it.

The black lace dress is what I'm considering making for Saturday night. I'm excited I get so many costume changes!

The wedding dress pictured here is the dress I'm making. And no, I will not wear a bra like in the pic that makes my boobs the center of attention. The dress is already cut out, the bottom is sewn together and I've pinned the top on myself just to eyeball it. So far, so good. I just need to figure out what to do with the back before I sew the whole thing.

The ceremony is on the beach and the aisle will be scattered with multi-colored petals. The chairs on the ends of the aisle will have tissue-paper pom-poms, each row a different color (in the bright color scheme, of course). Chairs are white (wooden) and pom-poms will be tied with black lace ribbons.

The close-up of the bouquet is the best depiction of the type of colors I'm going for but the bouquet under it is more like what bouquets will actually look like (a variety of flowers).

The black and white floral skirt with black top is my inspiration for bridesmaids. I'm making them matching skirts and they can wear whatever top they want.

The cake will be 3-tiered, rectangular-shaped, bottom tier is white with black swirls/scrolls (as in the pic), the middle tier is white with black polka dots, and the top tier is white with black spirals. The whole thing will be topped with a splash of colorful flowers.

And the Santa Barbara weekend wedding extravaganza will go something like this:

Friday night: Dinner for family and the wedding party followed by a no-host night out for drinking and dancing with all friends who happen to be in town (childcare provided by us).

Saturday morning: Breakfast followed by the rehearsal on the beach.

Saturday afternoon: Everyone's on their own, but we are thinking about going on a wine tour with the families.

Saturday night: Big party (what would typically be the evening wedding reception) with a DJ, open bar, photobooth with props, and kids table equipped with babysitters. We have to close down at 11:30 but if people are still partying, we can go to the bar in the restaurant until... whenever.

Sunday morning: Beach ceremony with guitarist and steel-drum player, light-bites, coffee and juice, brunch follows with mimosa toasts, music courtesy of our iphones, and I'm thinking about hiring a caricaturist.

So... fun stuff, right?

Wedding Woes

Does everyone else go through this crap? Please, I need to know I'm not alone in this!

This weekend Andrew confessed to me that he got a phone call from his mother. She had some concerns. Concerns about the food. Here we go! I brace myself. She's concerned that the food won't be enough. Ladies and gentlemen, let me just give you a rundown of the food for the weekend wedding:
  • Friday night, is a "family dinner" (essentially a rehearsal dinner, however the rehearsal is not on Friday). It's at an Italian restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara. I'm compromising with this. I want a french restaurant. But my dad and Andrew's mom gag at the thought even though they don't really know what constitutes French food. Food choices will be something like chicken piccata, NY Steak or Vegetarian ravioli.
  • Saturday morning, I'm offering a continental breakfast for everyone. Fruit and bread and oatmeal, that kind of thing. If I can't get a room to have this in (or if it doesn't make sense logistically while we're doing the rehearsal), I'm giving everyone gift baskets when they arrive and putting fruit & pre-wrapped goodies in there for breakfast.
  • Saturday afternoon, everyone's on their own for lunch.
  • Saturday night is a reception just as an evening wedding reception would be (although we're not getting married until Sunday morning). Food will be in "stations" of various cuisines: a stir-fry station, a fajita station, a pasta station, a carving station with a baked potato bar, and a dessert extravaganza.
  • Sunday morning will be the ceremony with some beverages and mini-muffins, etc. on the beach followed by a brunch reception including made-to-order omelets.
So, I'm trying really hard to be generous and feed everyone and be respectful of the fact that they're traveling for my wedding and that can be expensive. I'm thinking I'm being successful in that. And then I get mom-crap.

Andrew's mom is concerned that the food on Saturday and Sunday won't be enough. Her comment was, "Where is the hunk of meat?" I guess she actually said that to Andrew (or something similar). The reply back was, "The carving station!" She remarked that there was only 1 choice of meat (beef) and then had a concern about what cut of beef it is. Because I said that it would be a "roast beef" of some kind, she thought I meant that it would be the same kind of meat used to make deli roast beef sandwiches. My first question - does she think I'm a fucking retard? (I say that in the "brain-dead idiot" kind of way because even someone inflicted with mental retardation would STILL know that is not an appropriate cut of meat for a carving station at dinner.) Next question, what hotel would serve that? We assured her that was not the kind of meat we would serve and her next question was, "Well, can we spring for prime rib?" That is a valid question and the answer is yes, "we" can (even though "we" is Andrew & I - we are paying for Saturday night... we're paying for 50% of this wedding and our parents are picking up about 25% each... which is fair in my book).

Her, "But where is the hunk of meat?" concern applies to the other food stations. The primary problem here is, she doesn't eat stir fry or fajitas so she can't imagine that anyone else would want to eat that for dinner. It's a lesser-food to her. She actually commented that those (along with the pasta) were just "side dishes." Now, she might go to a restaurant and order chicken alfredo (an option that will be at the pasta station) but her comment regarding that was that she "wants it to be nice." The same thing my mom said about the flowers. If I hear that one more time, I'm going to make them wait another year on top of what they will already wait for a grandchild. Maybe two. What they are essentially saying is that my choices do not constitute a nice wedding.

What our parent's don't understand is that I do not want my wedding to look like every other (no offense to you married-folk out there). What is there at every wedding? A choice of steak or chicken or fish for a served dinner, and silver trays filled with a sad army of dry chicken or overdone sliced beef soldiers lined up at a buffet. Every plate basically looks the same. I do not want that. I feel our food choices represent the kind of atmosphere we want to have. Fun, relaxed, easy going. Not to mention the food fits with travel theme (each table named after a destination city for our honeymoon). Andrew's mom doesn't just have the problem of not thinking outside the box, she can't even think herself to the edges of her box! I find it hard to communicate with this type of thinking. And sometimes I'm stumbling over my own frustration as though someone has tied my shoelaces together. I'm working on untying them. But they're really tight, so give me a minute, okay?

This is why I did not want to get married! All of this bullshit! Andrew and I would be just fine having never gotten married. I understand Andrew's mom's thoughts that people remember the food at a wedding. Well, maybe some will. But I'm doing some other things that will leave an impression besides just the food. The DJ is amazing, the officiant is inspiring, the photographer is impressive, I'm hand-making so many things, and we're having an entire weekend of activities! And those folks who don't find that enough... will just have to deal with it. I mean what's the worst that could happen? So what if they expected "more" with the food? What are they gonna do? Andrew's family will never talk to his mom again out of utter disdain? They'll kick us in the shins as they leave for the weekend? Throw raw eggs at me as I walk down the aisle? Give our moms swirlies? I don't think so.

Did anyone else go through all this? Or worse? I know I just need to ignore it and forget it and they'll get over it and all of this won't matter, etc., etc. However that advice doesn't make my feelings any less hurt. I can't just eliminate my emotions so easily, or the value I place on our parents. I know that this is important to them to. But I also know it's OUR wedding. Hence the emotions... balancing making them happy and making us happy. I can act like it all doesn't matter (and I will), but the reality of it not bothering me will be very slow to come.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Change

Thanks to my friends for your support and advice and opinions. Even when it differs from my own, I appreciate it! It's great to hear other opinions because it's not just babies that don't come with instructions. Moms don't either. Neither do bio-moms or siblings or grandparents or cousins, etc. We've all just got to figure it out as we go... with the help of those around us.

Recently a smart friend pointed out in a comment that I'm trying to change my mom. And that's completely true. We're both trying to change each other actually! She wants me to not have bio-mom in my life so much. She can't understand why I want to get to know her, why I want her at the wedding, or would want her to meet my hypothetical children, etc. I know my mom's not the only one. I know plenty of people who don't have any desire to know their biological father or mother or grandparents or whatever. And they each have their own reasons for that, as I have my own for what I am doing.

As for how I'm trying to change my mom... I'm trying to "make" her be okay with how I want bio-mom in my life. I use "make" because I can't come up with a better word. Persuade isn't right. But I don't mean "make" as in "force" - I hope that is understood! I'm trying to make (encourage?) her face things she doesn't want to face. To do things she doesn't want to do. I'm trying to shape the situation - that's a more accurate statement. It's partially for selfish reasons because it will make my life better, more harmonious to not have discomfort and upset and anxiety around me. But it's not really fair to call me selfish here because I desperately want to (and believe I can) help her decrease her anxiety and upset. If only my mom would just muster up the strength to do what I'm asking her to do! And if she would just trust me when I tell her that everything will be okay! Also, as pointed out in a comment, I'm looking for a little bit of approval here. For my mother to actually show her support of me in my endeavor to develop some relationship with bio-mom.

All of this comes down to the basic idea that we all never stop growing up and both parents and children never stop evolving within those relationships. It's very difficult to grow up and realize that your parents, caretakers, mentors, etc. are not perfect. Not ONE of them is. Not only are they "not perfect" but they are completely flawed (to one extent or another). They tell lies, don't know how to handle money, have poor vocabularies, are sexist or racist, some are criminals, some are all of the above! And this is hard to take. But it's not only children who have reality to face when they grow up. Parents do too. While as grown children we struggle with realizing our parents' flaws, our parents (probably painfully aware of our flaws) have to at the same time deal with letting go of their expectations of us. The expectation that we will be a certain way or do a certain thing, exactly how and when they want us to. I do not (probably won't ever) see the world, react to it, and interact with it the way my parents do. And that, from my experience, is generally disappointing to them. So it looks like there's just disappointment all around!

These are challenges that no one prepares you for. I'll just add it to the list of things I think should be taught in schools! My biggest problem with these challenges is not that they exist, but in how we all react to them. Sometimes our relationships need to change. Sometimes we have to let go of toxic people. But that's the easy part. The bigger picture, the bigger lesson, the bigger change, is in how we move forward with these lessons learned. Changing our expectations and our definitions of success, achievement, happiness, beauty, perfection, joy, etc. so we don't make the same mistakes again in clinging to unrealistic expectations. I am no longer the teenager who gets annoyed when my parents don't meet every single one of my expectations. In return, my parents need to stop treating me like a teenager and accept that I will make decisions they disagree with, and they are going to have to come face to face with those decisions because that is a part of being in my life!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A New Week

I am looking forward to this week with a positive attitude. My technical problems are all solved. And so what if my mom is crazy? Whose isn't? And about the job... it's their mistake. It really is. I like the girl they're hiring, but she won't be able to go out and recruit students and make connections with them the way I can. She's not as outgoing as me. And yes, she has an MBA. But I'm interested in education, not just specifically the MBA. I would actually like to pursue a Ph.D. and do research and publish things. What is the motto in academia? Publish or perish, right? I know that's mostly for professors but when administrators do it, it's just a big fat bonus. I must acknowledge the role I played in this. I clearly did not communicate my strengths well enough. And I will not let that mistake happen ever again.

So, lots of great reasons to have a positive outlook this week. But the number 1 reason is because I have to. I wouldn't have made it here to work at all today if I wasn't going to be positive about it. It's a defense mechanism. Kill 'em with kindness! The only other defense mechanism I use is to run and hide. But I'm getting too old for that. Unfortunately.

Friday, July 2, 2010

On the Edge

I'm on the edge today. Today is the moldy cherry on top of a shit-sundae of a week.

Monday - I dropped my phone and it broke... luckily the day ended well with a replacement phone from Apple. A turnaround on the horizon, I ask myself? Not so fast, loser!

Tuesday - My gmail was shut down. So I had no access to my email, contacts, several important documents, my blog, etc. Turns out there was a hack job of some kind. Not sure how. Problem fixed by the end of the day.

Wednesday - Horrible cramps. But a nice birthday lunch for the girl referenced on Friday's tidbits below. THEN when I got home, a difficult conversation with my mom (see below). Andrew took me to Cherry on Top so I would quit pacing and stewing in my upset after the call. I wanted 1 thing - strawberry yogurt with strawberries, bananas, and chocolate sauce. Their strawberry yogurt was out. Fuck you too, Cherry on Top. I left empty-handed.

Thursday - I got a ticket in Chapman's parking lot (where I work). It's sort of deserved. I lost my sticker for 2010, but I got the new transponder thing that goes on my window along with the sticker. So I attached the new transponder next to the old sticker and I've gotten away with that since September 2009. Until this day. I got a $40 ticket.

Friday - I found out that I did NOT get the job I was interviewing for. The girl I went to the birthday lunch for on Wednesday got it. She's been here longer and has a Master's degree from our department so.... but still. I should have been able to get this job. My self-esteem can't really take the blow right now. I want to go home and go to sleep for a few weeks. I just wonder, how is it that I am able to help 2 (very deserving and smart and talented and wonderful) friends get jobs here - 1 got a job that required to have a degree she didn't possess and the other has never worked in academia before, was up against 2 other people who had, and got a director position. How is it that I can rally for them and write recommendation letters and talk to the Deans about them, but I can't get my own damn self a promotion? WTF? What is wrong with me? I don't even want to look at myself in the mirror right now. Oh, and I forgot tampons today.

If one more person asks me if I have fun or exciting plans for the weekend, I'm going to smash their head into the wall. Repeatedly.
________________________________________

Update: At lunch I learned that one of the crazy professors here at work who was recently charged with sexual harassment and now in a temper tantrum of a response is charging his bosses with racial discrimination (he's from India), probably also has ME on the charge list as a co-conspirator. And I stepped in gum on my way back to the office. Bright blue gum. How did I not see it? I dunno. Cuz I'm a dumbass?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I Feel Like I'm Taking Crazy Pills!

So in the talk I had with my mom last night about a wedding shower, I decided to bring up bio-mom again. I needed to address the issue of the shower and things that might come up in the future (kids). I have never had the chance to discuss this with her as our conversations about bio-mom at the wedding have been so emotionally charged and so abrupt as a result.

Many things were said last night. First, I told her, "Mom, I know your feelings about bio-mom but I'm concerned not only for the wedding but also for future events." "Like what?" she asked. I swallowed the massive lump in my throat and responded, "Well, like the shower and..." She interrupted, "The shower? Why does she need to come to the shower? She doesn't need to be there. Why would you want her there?" I answered...
C: Well, just for the same reason I want her at the wedding. Because I've gotten to know her and she is a friend now and someone I value in my life. And Mom, there will be other things too. Like other life events. Like when I have kids!

M: What do you mean when you have kids? [She's getting louder now.] Why would she be involved? I am the grandmother!

C: Well Mom, I would want them to know who she is and know her like I do. It's not just you, you know. There's Andrew's mom too, his extended family, our friends... and she is a part of THAT group, the family friends.

M: Well, I don't know what to tell you. I don't know what you want. Do you want us to all be one big happy family?

C: [Feeling so defeated and losing all hope. Why doesn't she get me? Why doesn't she understand this? Am I the crazy one or is she?] No, of course not, Mom. I would never expect that or ask that. I just want you to not ignore her existence and harbor anger and for there not to be a weird negativity or anxiety in the air if you are in the same room with her, which is bound to happen.

M: I'm not angry. I'm just... disappointed, I guess. Disappointed that she contacted you. She broke a promise to me. She signed something saying she would never contact you, you know. [Back to this AGAIN!]

C: Well mom, I don't think that applies when I'm an adult. Plus, she was told by Dad that you guys would tell me I was adopted. She figured he would do what he said he would do. She thought I knew.

M: Dad never told her that. He never spoke to her. She's lying to you.

C: [Oh boy.] Mom, you know Dad lies to you a lot to protect you from things. Maybe he had a conversation with her because she was having second thoughts about the adoption and he told her that to ease her worries. And then he didn't want to tell YOU about it because it would worry you.

M: No, I don't think that happened. [Of course she doesn't. Cuz she's from another planet, I have decided! One where reality and logic are dangers one must avoid in order to protect your soul from the Jabberwocky monster who will eat you if you say/do/think things that make sense.]

C: Well, think what you want. But I don't want to dwell on that. Please remember that I'm not dwelling on the fact that you guys didn't do what you should have done. It was your job to tell me I was adopted. You didn't do that. That's part of the reason we are where we are right now.

M: Well we weren't going to interrupt your life and tell you about this when you were a kid. I did what I thought was the right thing to do. I never would have let you go out and meet her before you were 18 even if we did tell you. [Again, completely drifting away from reality... and pissing me off! "Would have never let me"??? Say what? Telling me I can "never" do something didn't go well when I was a teenager and it still won't go well now.]

C: Mom, I'm not talking about that. That's fine. You're the mom. It was your decision to make. But I'm talking about the 11 years when I was an adult and you didn't tell me. You know what I think? I think you planned on never telling me, never letting me find out. Even though you know full well that I wanted to know. And now she ruined your plan. And you're just upset at her for that. But this is the way it's supposed to be. I should know this about myself. The situation is righted now.

M: I said I'm not angry with her.

C: Fine, disappointed, upset, whatever.

M: I just don't know what you expect.

C: I expect something in the middle. Something in between ignoring her existence and having her over for the holidays. Maybe you acknowledging her. Meeting her for 5 minutes. Letting her apologize for upsetting your life, because she does realize she did that and she is sorry for it. She wants the chance to do that.

M: Why are you worried about her? You should be worried about me!

C: I'm worried about EVERYONE! I'm just trying to make everything formidable here. I don't want you upset. I don't want her upset. And I don't want to live the rest of my life playing this game, this balancing act, with this awkwardness. I feel that if you meet her, you will see what I see. That she isn't trying to be a Mom. That she's just an addition to my life! And it will ease your worry or pain or upset.

M: I know you're trying to make everyone happy. But I just don't want to meet her. I just can't do it. You know I never say no to you. [Crying now] So you must know how big of a deal this is for me. I just can't do it.

C: [Pause for a moment. Bewildered. Wondering what to say next.] Okay. But you know this leaves all the anxiety and pressure on me, don't you? What if she's at the wedding and you happen to end up in an elevator together. And someone says her name and you know who she is and she knows who you are. That is really awkward. I will be worrying about that every minute.

M: That's probably not going to happen. But if it does, I'll deal with it when it happens. I'll say hello and then go my own way.

C: [Big sigh.] Okay. Still. It makes me uncomfortable and her uncomfortable and I feel like when you're there, it will make you uncomfortable too.

M: Well I won't. And you don't have to feel uncomfortable. I'm not mad at her. Tell her not to feel uncomfortable either. That she's welcome to come to the wedding if you want her there. I just don't want to meet her. But really. She is welcome and I won't say or do anything to upset anyone.
So, we're back to square one. And I'm a bit dumbfounded. I asked Andrew when I got off the phone, "What planet is she from?" "Planet 1942" Andrew said. He also threw in a, "Let me talk to her!" "What will you say?" I asked. He said he would yell at her and make her see the light. I'm not too sure about that.

But really, she's got issues. I said a few other things toward the end of the convo. Such as, "Aren't you curious? Curious to know who gave birth to me or where my DNA comes from?" She said no, she's not. That she thinks of me from her DNA. She literally said those exact words. Now, I understand that she thinks of me as "her's" (As do I. I think "mom" and of course I think of only her. I always will!)... but that statement about the DNA kinda made me realize that she truly does create her own reality in her head. She's also commented that she met my bio-grandma and "that was enough to know I came from a good family." I've told her that bio-mom says bio-grandma isn't so great. That she was unsupportive and mean and unstable. Well my mom brought it up again. "I just don't understand how that stuff about her is true. She was so nice and polite and well mannered and well dressed."

A bonus tip for all you criminals out there... you wanna rip off my mom? Just wear a perfectly pressed outfit, be clean cut and clean shaven, say please and thank you, and have freshly polished white tennies! She'll assume you are an absolutely wonderful person! And the converse is also true. I know it. I've heard the remarks. If you've got a tattoo or piercings or poor clothes or uncombed hair that isn't in some kind of "cute" or classic do... you're a shady character to steer clear of! Oh, and criminals... you should also probably be white (YEP, I said it!). That would help tremendously. She'd most certainly trust you and your spiffy getup then! You'd have a world of diamonds at your fingertips!

It's my educated guess that she secretly wishes bio-mom was terrible. That she was a horrible, mean, thieving drug addict that I would want nothing to do with. I really do believe she wishes that. At the very core of me, I believe it. She already tried to make bio-mom out to be a liar twice in 1 conversation. Which is rich coming from lying liar liey-pants like her.

Now, I'm just left to wonder if my relationship with them can ever really recover after all of this. I don't like to view the world as good and bad, right and wrong, black and white, etc. We're all a bit of a mixed bunch, a melting-pot if you will. And I don't view my parents as all bad. But the dark stain of the bad is beginning to mix in greater quantities with the good. It's starting to overflow my cup and turn it a grayish-greenish-pukish-brown that makes my stomach turn. How long can I continue to sip from this putrid vesicle? How long can I even keep it near me without it leaving dark rings on my furniture and staining my fingertips? And how horrible would I be if I moved away from it or dumped it out? If I really did drift farther from my parents? How will the annals of history judge me then? A part of me judges myself harshly for even thinking it. Another part of me tells the judgey part, "Fuck off! You don't know what you're talking about. You. Don't. Know. Me."

More of the Same

I spoke to my mom tonight about dates for a bridal shower and to get addresses from her. It turns out that 2 of her brothers will be coming to the wedding. That's really great and I know it will make her feel good. I'm not all that close with them (I'm not technically close with anyone in my family) and I don't think she really is either, but it seems like they were when they were younger from just looking at the pictures.

I used the conversation about my uncles to ask about my grandfather. I've mentioned this before in this blog - "she doesn't speak to her father for some unknown reason." Well, I found out the reason tonight. The conversation/revelation went something like this:

C - So Mom, what's the deal with him?

M - He refuses to speak to me.

C - Why? What's his problem?

M - [hesitant] He's mad because I lied to him about your brother.

C - ["of course, more lies" to myself] I see. Wow. That's complicated.

M - Yeah, can you believe it? Over 1 lie! [I'm not fucking joking, she said that. "Over 1 lie" that she told to her father about his first born grandson. Like HE'S the crazy one... but wait, this gets better.]

C - Well... hmmm... Do my uncles talk to him? Does he still have a relationship with them?

M - Yeah, they talk, I guess. I don't know how much.

C - Is he not a nice guy in general? I remember you having a few stories and he hasn't seemed so nice.

M - No. You should see some of the letters he's sent me.

C - He's sent you letters? So he does communicate with you?

M - Yeah, well he wants me to come out and see him and talk to him. But I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to see him to sit there and be bashed.

C - [to myself, "Okay so what you said in the beginning about him refusing to talk to you is not true? Did you intend to lie with that statement or are you just so goddamn warped that you can't grasp reality anymore?"] Okay.


Of course, more lies. When I told this to Andrew his response was, "I think I see a pattern here." Oh yeah? At sequence number 897 you see a pattern here? I don't know, I think I need further proof.

My parents will just never learn their lesson. Never. I really hate to give up hope on someone. Especially my own parents. And I hate to use the word "never" but I just don't see it ever happening. She needs a therapist. She really does. They both do. They lie to everyone. Absolutely everyone. To me, to my sister, to my nephews, to their parents, to their siblings, to their friends, to people they work with. I understand that they have been through some terrible things that no parent should ever go through. I understand that they didn't know how to tell the truth about my brother. But then they make up lies to cover the other lies. And they keep on lying even when they see the horrible ramifications of those very same lies. They lie to my nephew about his biological father even after all of this came out about me being adopted.

We talked some more tonight too. About bio-mom. That went... pretty much nowhere. I'll tell that story later. For now, I need to sleep.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What I Did This [Last] Weekend, Part III - Flinching and Disappointment

More on this weekend... I was sad and annoyed and stressed and frustrated when I started writing this so it's probably even more negative than the others. Then I had a lot going on last week, was out of town this weekend, and had a job interview on Tuesday to prepare for so sorry for the delay in wrapping this up. Let's just continue....

My mom is clearly disappointed with my wedding choices and apparently the guilt from her 30-year lie has worn off and she isn't pulling any punches. Which is fine. I prefer a dark, grim reality to a bright and rosy farce any day. Andrew's mom was quite feisty and verbal about everything too! At dinner on Friday night we started talking about some of the fine details. Andrew's mom started with it and it turned into a bashing session! Our parents had a fun weekend of making fun of Andrew & I for not planning anything far enough in advance. Yes, I know I do everything "last minute" but that's what works for me! I've gotten this far in life and done just fine! Andrew's mom wants to have every second planned. She wants to know what will happen even if it will not have any affect on her. And that's all just because of her constant anxiety and worry. Well, I have news for her. I don't need to adjust my way of living in order to cater to her anxiety! Maybe she should buck up and deal with it. I deal with my anxiety over the things she does. The same for my parents. I suck it up and do what makes me feel uncomfortable because I know what's important to them. They can do the same for me. Sheesh... I'm just tired of working on things and bending for people and forgiving and looking at things from others' perspectives and trying to be understanding when I feel I don't get the same in return!!!

The thing is - I have everything for the wedding planned out in my head. I haven't made every little decision yet but I at least have it narrowed down to a few options. I just don't want to be one of those women who runs around telling everyone every detail of her wedding. I realize family wants to know some things, but I also want some things to be a surprise! Also keep in mind, I have an image in my head and it's hard to paint that picture for others in words, especially when one descriptor, or even a simple noun can invoke different images in people's imaginations. When I say "lace" I could mean so many different things: chantily lace, venice lace, corded lace, embroidered tulle, embroidered organza, even eyelet or embroidered satin with cutouts, rose patterns, daisy patterns, asymmetrical patterns, geometric patterns, maybe beads, pearls or sequin adornments, etc, etc. Each has it's own personality.

Once I told our parents all this, they graciously accepted my explanation and then the questions started flowing. And my mom started flinching! My dad asked what he should wear. I told him, "Whatever you want." Then he asked what Andrew was wearing. He shrugged his shoulders. I have told Andrew to think about it, I gave him options and websites and pictures to look at. But he still hasn't decided. We did inform the parents, however, that he would not be wearing a classic suit. MAYBE a linen suit but maybe not a jacket at all. Saying this, my mom's eyes bugged out of her head as though she just learned that Andrew beats me every night. She then questioned several times (that night and all through the weekend), "Really? You're REALLY not wearing a suit?" When the response was repeatedly, "NO. No suit!" she would hang her head, bury her face in her hands, and shake her head back and forth in disappointment.

On the way to SB, we took separate cars so my parents could drive up to Solvang at the end of the day. My mom kept flinching the whole way because we were driving in the far left lane and the median is right there next to you with no shoulder (this is on the 405 North going through West LA for those who know it). I texted Andrew, asked him to move over to the middle lane and he did. Apparently, his mom was upset about it too. I really hope I'm not so nervous and anxious about everything when I get older! During the drive to Andrew's aunt & uncle's my mom told me how upset she was that I didn't tell her sooner about going to meet them so she could have "dressed up more." "Dressed up more?" For a 1-hour stopover to eat bagels? As it was, she was wearing white slacks (with a crease) and a light blazer-ish jacket with a pretty floral print. And decked out in all her jewelery, of course. What more would she have done? I hate these conversations with her. I watch her hound my dad every holiday about not wearing a t-shirt. He has to wear a shirt with a collar all the time and he has to tuck the shirt into his pants. Even on his days off! Oh, and she hounds him about shaving too. He has to shave every day (again, even on his days off) and it must be done first thing in the morning. Image is everything, you know!

At Andrew's uncle's house, we were sitting at the dining table at breakfast talking about the wedding. We asked for his advice because he is a musician! We told him we were thinking of having an acoustic guitar player during the ceremony. He suggested another instrument to accompany it. The idea of having a steel drum player came up. It is, after all, on the beach! I kinda liked it. Next he asked what I was walking down the aisle to. I hadn't yet decided but I new I didn't want the traditional "Here Comes the Bride." I imagine that in my head and it doesn't feel right. Andrew's uncle suggested an altered version of "Here Comes the Bride." Something calipso-ish with the steel drums. He hummed/sang it for us. I liked it. My mom's head started shaking. I'm pretty sure I even heard an, "Oh my god" come out of her mouth. My dad was more enthusiastic. Later, Andrew's uncle took us in to his studio and put the arrangement together in about 5 minutes (I'm in awe of musical talent). He recorded the tempo, came up with the guitar accompaniment, recorded that, made up the steel drum melody, recorded that (all on his keyboard and computer). Then played back the whole thing all together. It sounded great. Definitely more me. Definitely more fun. Definitely more beachy. I said, "I'll take it!" My mom's head was in her hands again, but this time she picked it up with a bit of a laugh (an, "I laugh to keep from crying" moment?) and she sighed, "Ahhhhhh, well that's my daughter. Always different!" The thing is, with many people (especially people of their generation, and especially our parents) "different" is a nice way of saying, "I wouldn't make that choice in a million years and I think it's weird/dumb/silly/stupid/lame.... but whatever!" In the dictionary, "different" means distinct or separate. It doesn't suggest better choices/options and it also does not suggest worse choices/options. So, let's use the English language correctly, okay? Otherwise misunderstandings occur and feelings get hurt.

In Santa Barbara, our first stop was the florist. We discussed bouquets first. The guy we met with was really good. He's also an event planner/designer. So he asked lots of questions about the room, what I'm wearing, my hair, my bridesmaids. I had an answer for just about everything he asked so our parents got some more details they were looking for. In particular he was concerned that it was a beach wedding and I was wearing an A-line gown with a light lace or sheer fabric (the bigger the dress, the bigger the bouquet). I told him I wanted small bouquets. He said that sounds right for what the environment is. He made a round shape with his hands and asked, "About like this, about the size of a cantaloupe?" I said, "Yes, perfect!" Then I felt my mom stirring in the chair next to me. She scooted to the edge of her seat and said, "Well, maybe a little bit bigger than that. Don't you want something bigger than that?" I smiled at the florist, imploring with my eyes, "I'm sure you've dealt with this before. Let's move on now and you'll just do what you and I agree on, right?" He got my silent message. We moved on! She made her requests for a corsage and that was fine. She flinched again at the groom not wearing a suit. Andrew's mom didn't give a darn and doesn't know a rose from a weed. So, no problems there!

The subject of my dress came up at some point during the day. An A-line gown with a light lace or sheer fabric. My mom asked me, "Do you remember when you were 5-years old and you saw a big, beautiful gown and you wanted to wear that?" Um, yeah I do. I also remember that I believed in the tooth fairy, I thought my dad had a bionic arm, and I needed help wiping my own ass. Things change!

Something else came up... something I anticipated... something I can understand. Andrew's family member guest-count is at about 30. My family member guest-count is at 9. My mom is feeling uneasy about that. But that's just the way it is. My dad has 6 siblings. And he isn't close to any of them anymore. 1 sister has lunch with him sometimes when she's in San Diego but she's kind of a phony. She's not genuinely close with him. She's strange - she sends me facebook messages and leaves comments. I comment back, don't hear from her again for weeks and then she just accuses me of not responding to her first message. Besides, we've never gotten invites to my cousin's weddings. My mom's brother MIGHT come. She's not close with another brother, and the 3rd brother can't afford the trip. Her dad is still alive but she refuses to communicate with him for reasons unknown. So, we're lacking in the "family" department. And I can understand her anxiety. I'm having my own. I worry that my friends won't make it. That something more important will come up. That this is going to be Andrew's wedding that I'm just a guest at. The thought of that makes me want to crawl under the table and disappear... a "poof" of dust and I am whisked far away to a land where people don't know who I am or ask any questions about me. I'm trying to push these fears away. So far, so good.

I'm going to end this on a positive note. A good friend pointed out that all of the flinching and negativity might also just be due to the fact that she can't picture everything in her head and once she sees it, she'll like it. This is probably true. I can't imagine my mom would be negative or unsupportive actually on my wedding day. I wouldn't rule it out completely but I wouldn't bet on it either. She'll probably be fine when we get there. I just feel like this weekend it was a bit much. I don't expect her to be perfect. But some improvements from the weekend would be nice! I'm just going to have to tell her that all of the flinching and disappointment hurts my feelings. Considering how sensitive and emotional she is, she should understand that!

What I Did This Weekend, Part II - Jabs & Call Outs

To continue on about my wedding planning weekend in Santa Barbara with my parents and Andrew's mom... I worked a full day on Friday and came home to Andrew hosting all of them at our place. The only thing I dread right off the bat in a situation like this is the noise and the energy level. It's always to the max when my dad is around. And I'm not always in the mood for it. Plus, my place is a little too small for it. I've learned to grin and bear it over the years (during those times when I'm not in the mood). But it's always a little shock to the system when I haven't been around it for a while and when it comes at me all fast and furious. I need a little time to adjust, you know?

Throughout the weekend I got a little kick out of my parents being called out on their bullshit and it happened more than once. They met Andrew's aunt and uncle for the first time Saturday morning. While we were sitting there chatting, they were telling us that his aunt's mother lives with them. Then my parents shared that my grandma lives with them also. They shared stories and talked about their mothers, the aging and the struggles. The issue of driving was brought up because they had just taken their mother to get her hair done rather than let her drive there. My dad shared that they don't want my grandma to drive so they tell her she isn't covered under their insurance and that's why she can't drive. Andrew's uncle responded, "You mean you LIE to her?" with a good amount of dramatic flare. I just about fell off the couch. They know all about my situation and the lie that was my life for 29 years. They've heard all about my parents, the good along with the bad. And they know Andrew's mom well, both the good and the bad, probably more than anyone. Their opinion on my situation is that my mom is overly emotional and my dad needs to stop lying. It's a pretty accurate assessment. But when Andrew's uncle said that, I wanted to look at him with a, "Hmmm... a lie... imagine that!?!" kind of expression on my face. But I didn't want to get caught and hurt my parents feelings, so I refrained. But I did laugh. And the whole thing was turned into a joke, "What's her name? I'm going to tell her when I meet her that you guys are lying to her." Hardy-har-har [tongue in cheek].

Later on that day walking up State street in SB, scoping out restaurants, I started to feel some pressure about the rehearsal dinner. I had family eating habits on my mind which limits restaurants quite a bit (no Mexican, no Asian, nothing "yuppie," nothing overly seasoned or at least there must be a "plain" steak option on the menu... no sauces, not crusted or blackened). I had to find a spot that wasn't too fancy and expensive but also wasn't too casual so as not to seem cheap. It can't be any food too similar to what's being served Saturday night. I kinda want it to be downtown so our guests can see more of Santa Barbara, plus I can go out with my friends to a club afterward without worrying about driving. With all of their preferences and rules on my mind, plus trying to make this a compromise with what I want, and then the stresses of the day weighing on me: we were doing a lot of walking so I was worried that my mom's back was hurting or my dad's hip or feet were hurting... I started to get flustered. My dad said not to worry about them, that they were fine. I said what was on my mind at the moment, "Well Dad, you would say you were fine until the moment you collapse dead on the street. And because you won't be honest with me about walking too much, I have to be careful and watch and gauge how you might really be feeling and that just puts all the pressure on me. Do you think I want to be responsible for you being in pain? You not being honest just puts more stress on me, it doesn't relieve any stress at all!" He then assured me that he would tell me if they were getting tired. I cautiously gave him the benefit of the doubt and just treaded on, still watching for any limping or painful grimaces.

At lunch that afternoon, we were all just sitting there chatting after we ate. The bill came and I heard the chimes of the boxing ring bell: death match for the check, round 4! My dad always grabs it first cuz he's fast. I really get pissed at him for doing that. He pays for more than his fair share and while it's generous, it's intensely frustrating for me to watch knowing what I know. My parents do not have any money left. Plain and simple. They used to own a jewelery store in Vegas but had to close it after a couple of robberies, some poor money management (ie. spending more than they have), customer loss because my sister acts like a bitch to everyone and drove customers away, plus some other things I'm sure I don't know about because HELLO, my parents lie to me. So, I hate it when they disregard their financial security in order to create an image. I've learned a thing or two about money in college, not to mention being engaged to a Jew! AHHH, that's right! I said it! Whatcha gonna do about it???? I know they aren't doing the right things with money and it makes me worry about their futures. Besides, it makes Andrew's mom feel uncomfortable to have them paying all the time. Eventually they decided to split the check. Andrew's mom told my dad that they HAVE to split checks from now on so that its fair. My dad said, "okay" and Andrew's mom responded, "Do you really mean that or are you just giving me a line of bullshit? Because I know you well enough by now..." I was sitting there in my seat giving her a silent standing ovation. Sometimes people just need to be called out on their shit, you know? My dad laughed (couldn't tell if it was fake or not) and that was the end of that.

Parents can be so frustrating but each can be a champion in his/her own right as well. Andrew's mom actually tried to help me out with the 'bio-mom at the wedding' situation. When I told her about it as it was unfolding, she asked if I wanted her to talk to my parents about it. She has her own skeletons and secrets that were revealed in the past few years, so she can relate to my mom. And she also thinks she can help calm my mom's fears because hers were similar. I also think maybe she can. But I had to be honest with her. I told her, "Yes, actually. I would love for you to talk to my mom. But I really don't think she'll receive it well. I wish she would and I appreciate the offer so much, but it's probably not an option." Every word I said was absolutely true. She decided to drop a little breadcrumb anyway and see if my parents would follow. On Friday afternoon they were all in town before we were off of work so they killed some time at a restaurant. Andrew's mom mentioned her skeletons (another adoption story). She said that my parents exchanged a glance that was a little bit intense the moment she mentioned it. So, that was a cue for her to not proceed any further. I said, "Good idea!"

So my parents kinda took some jabs this weekend. Some unintentional, some in good fun. You see, this is why they aren't close to anyone anymore, including their own family. They've created SO many lies, it's hard to keep track of. Plus as the truths come out, my parents are then embarassed about the lies and then don't want to see those people anymore. But what about Andrew's mom, you wonder? Don't worry, Andrew calls her out all the time. Her bullshit is a little less personal and less painful for him so they can be more lighthearted about it, plus his mom can take more. I can jab at my parents (as they do at me) from time to time, but not the way those 2 can. I think a little bit of that is healthy!

This weekend I also took some jabs from my mom than I wasn't prepared for. As the wedding is drawing near, she is getting more and more annoyed with my choices. There was flinching and eye-rolling and her holding her head in her hands, shaking it in disappointment that I'm not having the wedding she wants me to have. I'll tell that story next. I'm letting my anger subside a bit before I go off on that one!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What I Did This Weekend, Part I - Food

This weekend both my parents and Andrew's mom joined us for a trip to Santa Barbara to do wedding stuff. Andrew's mom has not yet seen the location. I was expecting frustration. And I got it. The whole weekend was technically "fine" but this is my blog and I'm going to spend some time on here whining about it because I can't afford a therapist.

Our first challenge: Dinner! And it was a challenge. Andrew's mom's culinary repertoire is limited, to say the least. And my dad's is worse in almost every way. So, we have to be sure to go to a restaurant that won't offend the delicately bland tastebuds of either one of them. Garlic is offensive to my dad. Chicken is offensive to Andrew's mom... no wait, the "idea of chicken" is offensive to her. She says, "We're not chicken people" but she eats chicken parmigiana, lemon chicken, chicken picatta, chicken marsala, fried chicken, etc. It's just plain roasted chicken she doesn't like. And chicken in place of something that "should" be something else (ie. chicken on a pizza) seems to be upsetting to her. She calls any place that serves something other than her idea of a good meal, a "yuppie" establishment. She calls CPK "yuppie" and I witnessed this conversation once in response to us wanting to go to Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill after it opened in Vegas:
Andrew's mom to her husband:
Andrew & Christina are going to this new restaurant at Caesar's but I don't think they'll have things that we like.

Husband:
Oh yeah, what do they have?

Andrew's mom:
It's weird stuff and it's overpriced.

Husband:
Oh yeah? Yuppie stuff like that restaurant in California. What is it? CPK!?!

Andrew's mom:
Yeah, like that.

She compared a chain restaurant with a line of frozen pizzas to an award winning restaurant created by a highly acclaimed chef. I said nothing in response, but I couldn't help but chuckle a little at overhearing this. What DOES she like, you wonder? She almost always wants Italian or a steakhouse. She likes maybe 3 things at a Chinese restaurant and she'll eat maybe 2 things from a Mexican restaurant. My dad won't eat any Mexican. No Chinese either. And it always looks like a winter wonderland on his plate because he douses everything he eats in table salt. EVERYTHING! Even fried chicken and cheeseburgers. It makes me cringe a little bit every time. What's worse is when my nephews were little, he always reached over and doused all of their food in salt and would say, "that's how big boys eat it." He also gave them a yuck face at any food he thought they shouldn't like. Weird foods like tacos. He would tell them, "No, that's gross. Don't eat that." Both Andrew and I have suffered from child abuse in the form of forced eating habits. When he was little, his mom and grandma would shovel all of their leftovers from their plate onto his and tell him to finish it so as not to waste it, hence his desire to eat way too much at each meal. And I was always given particular foods and told to eat just like my dad, hence my horrible sweet tooth. We've both since "grown up" and done what we can to change those habits. I don't coat everything in salt anymore and I actually eat exotic foods like mayonnaise, ketchup, lasagna and vegetables [shudder]. The sweet tooth still lingers, though. Do you have any brownies on you? Because if you do, I want one!

So, we decided on Buca di Beppo for dinner, mostly for Andrew's mom and because I know my dad will eat 1 Italian thing (spaghetti and meatballs - that's it). Plus, it's family style and that's always nice. When we got there, I already had the plan: let the 3 of them order 1 thing each and that's it. Andrew & I will eat mostly anything (so will my mom), especially when it comes to Italian. That worked out pretty well, I think. My dad ordered spaghetti and meatballs asking the waitress, "You guys don't put any cheese on that, do you? I don't want any cheese on it!" Because cheese on anything other than a cheeseburger is somehow offensive to him. When the spaghetti and meatballs showed up, he dished some out onto his plate and took a fork and knife and started cutting up the spaghetti noodles, slicing this way and that, the whole time scraping the bottom of the plate with his utensils, making that near nails-on-a-blackboard-annoying, scraping sound. At this point I'm really holding back. My nerve endings are all on fire. But I keep my cool and say nothing. Next step, you guessed it, shower that spaghetti in salt!

The rest of the evening was pretty uneventful. We went back to our place, hung out for another 30 minutes or so, then they all left for their hotel rooms. I savored every moment of quiet I could get until morning.

The next day we drove to Santa Barbara. The plan was to stop at Andrew's aunt & uncle's for breakfast. Bagels are the breakfast of choice for his family. And that's the only choice really, because it's the only thing that the health conscious aunt and uncle like that his mom also likes. BUT... my parents don't eat bagels. Again, something else that seems completely inoffensive to me is just not consumable to them. It's friggin bread, folks. And it comes in every flavor. What is the damn problem? Whatever... I didn't say anything and technically it was no big deal. I just bought them blueberry muffins along with everyone else's bagels from Noah's. We got whole wheat bagels for the healthy aunt and uncle, and everything bagels for Andrew's mom. She won't eat anything other than onion, garlic or everything bagels. Just mention a sweet bagel and you'll get a gagging face from her. Again, whatever... bunch of crazies!

Later that day we had the task of picking a place for lunch. We looked at a directory of a big outdoor mall and there were several choices. All the parents turned to us and said, "Whatever you want, it's your choice." Andrew, clearly reading my mind, replied, "It doesn't many any sense for the 2 people here who will eat anything to decide what to eat for 2 of the pickiest people on the planet." Sometimes he is perfect! My mom so wisely pointed out, "Well, they want you to choose hoping that you'll pick something they'll like." Andrew quickly pointed out how frustrating and passive aggressive that is. I love him. Because it's true. It's creating the illusion of making this our decision. And I am really sick and tired of illusions!

Andrew's mom's friend suggested an Italian place in Santa Barbara. And she clearly had that stuck in her head because she mentioned it like 4 or 5 times. When we walked by there, looking at restaurants for the rehearsal dinner, she mentioned how great it smelled. Okay, okay, we get it. You want to eat there! So, we did. I felt kinda bad. My dad doesn't eat anything Italian other than the same old spaghetti and meatballs. But honestly, I would rather please Andrew's mom because she is so passive aggressive, with an emphasis on the aggressive. My parents are passive aggressive with an emphasis on the passive. If we please her, we eliminate a lot of complaining and whining and huffing and puffing and scowling and gagging faces. My parents are a little more gracious. It's a toss up as to which demeanor I prefer. With Andrew's mom, at least you know what she's thinking. Even if she doesn't come out and say it, she'll make it known! But then her actions are kinda rude and childish. Silly me, I don't like the food I'm enjoying to be responded to with a "blech" noise and a gagging face. But with my parents, they flat out lie. My dad will "yum" his way through a meal even if he hates it. So you're always left wondering. I can still tell when he hates something though because he overacts it. But not everyone else can tell. I could tell he didn't like this spaghetti. The sauce was too thick and had too many herbs in it. He doesn't like any seasoning other than salt. And he phonily over-yummed his way through every bite. Everyone else enjoyed their food. Andrew and his mom each ordered something that both of them wanted so they could eat half of each and share. That's usually something he and I do. But it seems that whenever she's around, they share instead. I don't always like that. It makes me feel a tiny bit second-fiddle. I know I'm being silly, but like I said at the beginning... this is my blog and I'll whine if I want to. ; ) Oh, and she also grabs his hand when she's scared, and holds it with her fingers interlaced with his. We were at Disneyland over the holidays on a couple of rides and she did that. With her husband of 20+ years sitting right next to her, she reached for her son to comfort her... with an interlaced finger hand-hold. Perhaps I'm crazy or just overly sensitive about boundaries in family relationships... but it made me uneasy. Luckily, Andrew lets go pretty quickly and pats her on the back instead. Cuz if he kept on sitting there holding it, we might have a problem.

While we were at lunch, we discussed one of the restaurants we were going to visit as a potential rehearsal dinner spot. I read them the sample menu she sent me. It was a choice of salmon, crusted chicken or braised short ribs. Andrew's mom expressed concern. She said, "My family... we aren't short-rib-people." I'm sorry, but what is a "short-rib-person"??? It's beef. Do you eat beef? Yes? Okay then, we're good to go! I can't create a menu with everyone's favorite thing on it. Besides, what if my family are "short-rib-people"? She just gets to veto it anyway?? That was kinda my breaking point. I had to walk the rest of the way up the street a little bit away from the others. I did speak up while we were there at the table. I said, "Okay, well that's just a sample menu but I don't understand what is so controversial about short ribs." I didn't get an answer.

We walked around a bit more, scoping out restaurants. When we saw all we could see for the day, my parents headed off in a separate direction to spend the rest of the weekend in Solvang. Andrew & I drove home with his mom. On that drive she learned the truth about my brother. I'll save that for Part II (or Part XIV). When we got home, we relaxed on the couch, watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (super cute - I recommend it), had a late Del Taco dinner during which Andrew's mom gave him her nachos to finish. Then she slept on our couch (that's Part III so stay tuned), woke up the next morning, wanted some coffee but we don't drink any so we don't have any. Andrew drove to 7-11 to get her a cup and when he brought it to her she made the gagging face at it. It wasn't up to par with the generic-brand instant coffee she drinks at home. Plus the brand of vanilla creamer wasn't the exact same as she usually uses. Heaven forbid! She drove back to Vegas at 10:30am on an empty stomach because she's afraid to eat anything when she travels due to her Crohn's Disease. And don't give me any, "Christina, you shouldn't pick on the eating habits of someone with a gastro-intestinal problem" because (1) I deserve a little more credit than that and (2) Andrew's mom eats all of the WRONG foods for her disease - heavy, fatty red meats, no vegetables or whole grains EVER (seriously - NEVER EVER), and drinks soda after soda, plus she smokes which I'm sure is also an irritant. She's not a picky eater because of her disease. Her disease is actually greatly worsened by her picky eating.

I am going to take every precaution I can to ensure I never end up as picky or narrow-minded as our parents. Oh, and I have so many more examples of it from this weekend. SO MANY! Just you wait!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Speaking of Negative...

I recently spent some time with someone else's mom who can be extremely negative. If she's not doing something or talking about something she particularly enjoys, then she's being negative about whatever is going on. If she's not personally interested in it, it's weird or it sucks. Now, I don't expect her or anyone else to be all Susie Sunshine all the time. Lord knows, I'm not! But can she maybe just be neutral about something? Or maybe think something else is the slightest bit interesting? Or think something besides what she likes to do could also be fun? All of this happens very infrequently. VERY! She also assumes the worst about people. If there is potential for someone to have a bad intention, then she's sure they do! It's extremely frustrating.

I just want to put it out there that I am so very glad my mom is not like that. With all of her faults, she is never someone who is all doom and gloom. She's interested in plenty of things (sometimes too much... i.e. the $1000 sewing machine for her to take up quilting... that has sat untouched for over a year). And what's better, she's completely supportive of me and my decisions and the places I travel to and my education and my hobbies. She's always quick to compliment the latest $12 purse I got from Target. She doesn't sit and judge and pick people apart. She's always interested in trying anything I cook (my dad and grammy turn their nose up at it). She wishes I lived closer so we could do more things together. And honestly, I kinda do too. I feel sad that we haven't been closer over the years. But that's just how it's worked out. I am thinking of her this week as I'm contemplating taking a crochet class at JoAnn's. I know she'd want to go with me. Now, she might not show up on the day of the class for whatever reason... but her flaking out on me is another issue all together! We won't go there right now! Especially considering that being positive and supportive and excited for your children's lives is such a wonderful trait for a mother to have! So, thank you Mom! (And yes, I'll be sure to thank her directly.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Negative and Untrusting

I think I have become completely negative and untrusting when it comes to my family. I don't want to be that way. I am not a negative person. I'm a critical person... I can almost always find what is wrong with a situation. But that doesn't mean I'm negative. I can quite easily look at the bright side of any situation. And I don't think everything is doom and gloom. I just think some things are really stupid. Like reading celebrity mags or watching those shows. Plenty of smart people I know watch them. But I still think the act of doing so is stupid. But I digress...

I called my mom this past weekend to talk to her about an upcoming trip to Santa Barbara for wedding stuff. At the end of the call she asked, "Did I tell you what happened to Dad?" "No," I said, worried. With my family, an intro like that can mean anything from a splinter to a lost limb. She then proceeds to tell me that he was driving to work one day, got 1/3 of the way there and then can't remember a thing after that. The next thing he remembers is ending up miles away from his work 45 minutes later. Blackouts aren't good. My mom made him go to the doctor. He was first trying to NOT go. CRAZY! They were worried that he had a small stroke (my mom used the term "mini stroke" but that sounds ridiculous and my parents will use any words they can to downplay a situation so I think she made that up). There's no evidence of a stroke or any other problem. My dad decided when he left there that he was "the picture of perfect health!" I had no idea that perfect health was being overweight with type 2 diabetes, insulin dependence, and a family history of heart disease and dying in your 60's. Good to know!

I'm pissed that they didn't call me sooner. I'm really worried about him. I tell him that and I get sloughed off like I'M the one being ridiculous. I don't think it's negative of me to be worried. That's just the reality of the situation. Not to mention that I can't be sure they are telling me the truth (obvious reasons there). I remember once my mom was really sick (they thought she maybe had cancer) and my dad downplayed it to me the entire time until I get a call one day that she's been in the hospital for days and the doctors just called him because she's crashing and he needs to get there just in case she doesn't make it. And I was thinking everything was fine the whole time!

My sister does this crap too... the lies. I have been calling her every day, twice a day, since Sunday to find out if I can pay for her children to ride on the train and come see me for the weekend to take them out, do nice things with them, take them someplace they haven't been, help them out with school work, etc. In other words, I'm hunting her down to ask her if I can do something nice for her children. A little backwards there! Finally she calls me back today to tell me my older nephew has plans this weekend. He's starting surfing lessons for the summer so he has to do "something" for that. A little vague! She said she wants his summer to be occupied with activities. Huh. Interesting. Her vagueness plus the fact that it's just not like her or them to do something new or different made me think she's lying. My nephew hangs out with friends after school and doesn't come home until 9 or 10 pm every single night. Why would she all of a sudden be concerned with his schedule? But why would she lie? The only thing I can think of is that my older nephew (he's 17) didn't want to come because he's got some girlfriend or something and wants to hang with her all the time. And my sister doesn't want to argue with him so she just gave in and decided to lie to me so I don't then question her.

I hate it that I assume she might be lying. But I can't help it. I can't help but think about past situations and use my brain to analyze this one. I hope she's not lying. Surfing lessons would be awesome for both the kids. Anything other than "hanging out" and playing video games would be. That's all they do. Really. The younger one is so bad about it that he gets pains in his legs when he runs. The doctor said it's because he doesn't exercise enough. A 10 year old having pains from not moving enough. Crazy! I know my sister isn't making him exercise more. I just know it. And there I go being negative again! Bah, Humbug!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Weekend at Bio-Mom's

The weekend went well. I went to bio-mom's house for the first time and she met some friends for the first time. I lost a few friends along the way (emergency gallbladder surgery and a little internal bleeding brought some worry but everything turned out fine... phew). 2 ended up at her house. She cooked for us and even bio-sis hung out for a while. Bio-sis is really sweet and nice but she didn't totally want to be there. She wanted to go hang out with her friends on a Saturday. I can't blame her! I was a teenager once myself!

Bio-mom was completely gracious and her home is lovely! While I was there I got to see her wedding photos. It was totally 90's... a fun, casual backyard wedding. Her husband was very patient as well while girls took over his house. What I didn't tell bio-mom was that I had been there before. An unnamed friend found her address using unnamed resources. We drove there, waited until a resident opened the gate into her housing complex (yes, we're stalkers), found her house and sat outside it for a few. Sort of hoping someone would walk outside and at the same time hoping someone wouldn't walk outside... and catch us! Yeah, I didn't share that with bio-mom.

After we hung out at her place, we went to a bar where another friend was working. We sat and had drinks there for a couple of hours. Shared stories. Laughed. It was nice.

I have recently heard so many horrible stories about adopted kids and bio-parents. Hearing all of this has made me very grateful. I'm so glad that bio-mom is as great as she is. And I'm very grateful to my parents for not trying to ship me back to her when I got bratty. And for even [gasp]... loving me through it!