Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Tragedy of Inter-Appliance Love Affairs

Since it seems that the world is finally coming to their senses on marriage equality for humans, I guess I can start speaking out about other marriage equality issues.  No, I'm not talking about those ridiculous religious arguments where people say that men will marry sheep and women will marry their cats, or how people will marry Buicks or Ferraris...

I'm talking about inter-appliance love affairs.  It's time that the world recognize them and give them the same respect we give other love affairs.

Just because you assume your washer and dryer have mated for life doesn't make it true.  Oh, sure, we've all had the sad experience where the dryer died early, and you had to go out and arrange a new mate for your washer, or vice versa.

Refrigerators are typically mated with freezers.

Stove are mated with ovens.

Dishwashers and garbage disposals have some sort of unholy alliance going that nice people don't talk about.

We sometimes even condone appliance polyamory - you can have a stove with 2 ovens, or a refrigerator and freezer with another freezer in the garage.

We've come to accept that an appliance can be two things at once - a toaster and and oven.  A sort of hermaphrodite appliance if you will.

But what happens when the dryer has become disenchanted with the washer, and has fallen in love with the refrigerator?

You think this can't happen, but we've all experienced losing socks, underwear, the occasional complete set of bedroom sheets from the dryer...only to discover exotic food in the refrigerator that you have no recollection of buying.  (Providing, of course, that you have a high end dryer.  If you have a lower end dryer,  you're more likely to find things like Miracle Whip, Liver Mush and lots of no-name mustard from the .50/bin at the Dollar store.)

Now, if you're lucky, the refrigerator will return the dryer's affection and reciprocate...and you'll find that the missing sheets have been replaced with luxurious 900 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, or washable silk teddies that will make your partner swoon with joy.  If the refrigerator doesn't return the dryer's affection, however, all you find is stained clothing...stains from things like Miracle Whip, Liver Mush and no-named mustard.  Or you'll notice a disgusting odor coming from the dryer, as the refrigerator tries to return the caviar, smoked salmon and Belgian chocolate.

The washer will eventually start showing her displeasure at the dryer's infidelity and try to start her own affair with the freezer, in an effort to make the dryer jealous.  This never ends well.  You'll find dirty frozen gym socks tucked between the individual spanikopitas you spent hours making for your Greek themed dinner.  The Leg of Lamb you paid $12.99 a pound for will mysteriously show signs of having spent time in a rinse cycle.

It's disturbing.  And there's nothing you can do about it.

I refused to say "obey" and then I heckled the pastor

When Scott and I got married, I wrote our vows.  I told Pastor Tim that I would not be saying "obey" because I've never "obeyed" anyone in my life and I saw no reason to start our marriage off with a lie. He seemed okay with it.  Right up until he decided to start quoting St. Paul about how wives should be submissive to their husbands.  That's when Mom and I started heckling him.  If you've seen my standard picture on Facebook where we're all laughing, that's after Mom and I interrupted the ceremony.

I'm still really bad at obeying, and submissiveness is not my style.  I'm passive-aggressive as hell which can sometimes be mistaken for submissiveness, but trust me, there's a difference.

Scott and I are a mixed marriage.  Not racially or religiously, but politically.  It wasn't a big deal at the beginning, but I was drinking a lot and probably was not expressing myself coherently.  I mean, I can't really expect him to know that "yaaaaavo tad bama" meant "I voted for Obama", right?

But I've quit drinking and I'm not slurring my words anymore and shit, suddenly he can understand what I'm saying.  Worse, instead of hiding out on Usenet with my Imaginary Friends, we've all migrated to Facebook.  Plus my local friends, old friends from high school, family...typical Facebook circle of friends.  The problem is that he's on Facebook too.  And of course we're friends, we're married. Worse, I'm friends with some of his friends.

My imaginary friends (and a lot of my local friends) and I share a lot of current news through Facebook.  A lot of us lean left, but certainly not all of us, and this is what we did on Usenet - we'd post something currently in the news and provoke a discussion.  Not a flamewar, not something meant to attract the grepping loons, but a real discussion. Sometimes the posts would get heated, but usually we kept it relatively civil.  If we couldn't keep it civil, we tried to keep it creatively mean.  Eventually the threads would die out with everyone losing interest and conceding that The World is a Very Big Place (TWIAVBP) or Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV) or just a cheerful "PLONK!" as someone was added to a killfile because their imagination had failed them and they'd resorted to typing the same cuss words over and over and over and over.  Not that we were adverse to cussing - one of our group has reached levels of cussing that I am just in awe of - but creativity counted.

So I have my imaginary friends that I'm used to engaging in lively debate.  As I go through recovery, I'm making IRL (in real life) friends with whom I can engage in lively debate.  Yes, most of the time we tend to agree on things...but not all the time.  I'm still a Liberal living in South Carolina.

What I can't do is engage in lively debate with my husband.  There is no debate.  What ensues is a verbal beat down of me, my opinions, liberals, Obama, Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton and the mainstream media.

It makes things difficult. He finally unfollowed me on Facebook. I think that's for the best.

We will not Regret the Past Part II

Big Pete died a month ago.  I'm still grappling with my feelings about it.  First of all, I was shocked that it hit me as hard as it did.  Then again, maybe it was because of how I got the news.  I was at work, and my phone pinged me.  Debbie, my father's sister, had sent me a message through Facebook telling me that my father had passed away at 8am, and she would call me later.  It showed up on my phone like a text message.

Note to anyone reading this:  Don't text someone to tell them that a loved one died.  It's just tacky.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Empty Chairs

when I was a little girl, I sat at the childrens' table each holiday, and I envied those who had graduated to the "Big People" table. I wanted to be part of that, the conversation, the laughter, the warmth and companionship. I never understood why I couldn't graduate to the Big People table...they seemed to have plenty of room. I didn't know about the empty chairs. I didn't know that next to all the adults I loved, there was an empty chair filled with a memory. Gramma and Grampa McElfresh had Jannie and Sim on either side. Gramma Ethel and Gramma Hayes had Lennie between them. As I grew older, the empty chairs filled up. Aunt Margarete on Mom's side. Later, Uncle Terry, Skip, Aunt Ruthie, Gene. On my father's side, Aunt Virginia joined did Gramma and Grampa Hayes. Uncle Jim and Aunt Betty followed. Then my father died. I'm older now, and can sit at the Big People table. This past Thanksgiving, I was at my brother's house. My Uncle Rodney walked in to his kitchen and teared up. "Doesn't this bring back memories?" he asked my mother. I looked at the everywhere. Memories of food everywhere. Memories of past Thanksgivings, and crowded tables. Memories of Aunt Ruthie and Uncle Sparky; Skip; Gramma and Grampa. Empty chairs. It should be a song, but I can't write it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Biggest Fear of Death?

I once said, "I'm not afraid of dying."  And I'm pretty sure I'm not, because that's not what ratchets up my anxiety levels.

I'm not afraid of my loved ones dying "normally" - cancer, stroke, Parkinsons - because you generally get some sort of warning and you can brace yourself for the onslaught of grief that you're going to live with after they're gone.  Even though you can never prepare for that grief - in a way, you're still prepared. At the very least, people understand it, and they don't give you a hard time when you start crying because the sun broke through the clouds at a certain angle, and it reminded you of a day with your (mom, dad, sister).

I'm afraid, I am absolutely terrified of my loved ones dying in a motorcycle accident.  Okay, my husband is the only one who rides a motorcycle, so he's my closest loved one. But I have so many friends who also ride, and I'm terrified of losing them that way. Because I just don't want to hear the shit.

I'm pre-emptively angry at the people who ask, "Was he wearing a helmet?"  Because there's one of two answers for that.
    1.  No, he wasn't.  It wouldn't have saved him anyway, since the car that "didn't see him" cut him in half.  Maybe you meant to ask me if he was wearing a cup? Full Body Armor?   Or maybe you just want to tell me that he deserved to die because he was on a motorcycle?.
    2.  Yes, he was.  Please see answer number one.

I'm pre-emptively angry at people who say, "Ohhh, motorcycles are so dangerous!"  Well, not really.  I myself don't drive a motorcycle, because I could never get the balance thing.  The motorcycle wasn't dangerous, I was.  It's sort of like long as I kept that motorcycle parked in the garage, it never hurt anyone.

The only time I've ever felt in danger on a motorcycle (my husband is an excellent motorcycle driver) were the times that cars came into our lane and we had to swerve.  Or at a 4-way stop when the car-driver made eye-contact with us and pulled out in front of us anyway.  Or the cars who felt that they only had to maintain a safe space between them and the car in front of them...and if there was a motorcycle in that space, it didn't count. All the times a car-driver didn't see us because we didn't count.

I was pondering this, and then comparing it to horseback riding.  You're supposed to wear a helmet when horseback riding.  You're supposed to be aware of your surroundings at all times, when horseback riding (just as if you were riding a motorcycle.)  But when someone dies in a horseback riding accident, the rider is not assumed to be in the wrong.  Were those 4-wheelers riding on a horse-only track? Did something happen to spook the horse on a horse-only trail?

As I said, I don't drive motorcycles myself.  Many of my friends do.  My husband does.  And every time he goes out, I pray, "Not today, God.  Please not today."  I know my girlfriends say the same prayer.  And we're usually lucky, our loved ones come home safe and sound.

Yesterday, one of our loved ones didn't.  And I know that all of my friends who ride, or who have loved ones who ride, will feel the grief, the sorrow and the loss - and the anger.

So try to ride safe.  We love you.

Friday, May 30, 2014

How to handle these fucking emotions?

I've never known how to handle anger, because I've been told since I was a child that anger wasn't mine to have.  My anger was met with comments like,"Well, you should think about the times you made me angry - those were worse."  "You started it."  "What did you do to start it?"  "Why did you start this?"  "What did you to do antagonize him?"  "Why didn't you just give in?"  And, of course, the ever popular "Good girls don't get angry."

I participate in a program where we discuss how justifiable anger is not ours, we can't afford it.  I've been told my entire life that my anger has never been justified, and yet there it is.  And if anger isn't justifiable...what is it?

"Good girls don't get angry."  I started out writing with one idea in mind, but that phrase has turned me into another direction.  "Good girls don't get angry."

My cousin Evelyn died from complications of alcoholism about 6 months after I started going to AA.  Even though we were only 4 months apart, we weren't exactly close.  We were competing for love from the same people, not realizing that there was more than enough to go around.  Our lives took different paths early, when she married young and became a mother.  I waited to marry, but never had children.

And I was the drunk, let's get that part clear and out in the open.  I've had problems with alcohol from the first drink.  Evelyn?  Not so much.  If someone had been asked "Which one will die of alcoholism, Lisy-Ann or Ebby-Sue?" the answer was certainly not Ebby-Sue.

Because we weren't close, I don't know what happened.  Neither of our marriages lasted, and despite the fact that divorce had become common, it was still considered a personal shame (at least it was to me - I can only assume it was for Evelyn too.)

She remarried and had another baby, Erik.  I don't know her second husband very well, and I know Erik not at all.

I've been told that towards the end of her life, she was very unhappy, and in her unhappiness, she drank a lot.

One thing I've learned is that all alcoholics stop drinking eventually.

As I go through my journey of trying to stay sober, there are so many questions I wish I could ask her.

Were you afraid of a second failed marriage?  Because I am.

Were you afraid of facing the consequences of things said/done while you were drinking?  Because I am.

Were you afraid that even if you got sober, people around you would continue in their habits and - if you objected - tell you that you had no reason to object?  You had no justifiable anger?  Because I am.

Were you afraid that no matter what you did, no matter how you improved, no matter what you did to change things, it wouldn't be enough?  Because I am.

I wish we had been closer.  I wish we had talked.   I wish we had found each other, stumbling in the darkness, feeling lost and alone, and held each other up.

When we were babies, someone took a picture of us sitting on Gramma's sofa.  Evelyn had her arm around me, and her other arm was up, shaking a fist, as if to say "Mess with her, you mess with me."

I wish we had kept that during our lives.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it

My aunt shared a picture of my father, Big Pete, on Facebook recently.  I can't include it here, because to get permission to do so would open up a huge can of worms.

My father has Parkinsons with dementia.  I haven't spoken with him since 2009, when he turned 70.  Well, that's not exactly true; my aunt called me one day and put him on the phone, but I don't count that.  He didn't know who I was, and I hung up.  We haven't seen each other since...I don't know, to be honest.  I moved to South Carolina in 2006, so it was sometime before that.

We've been estranged for a long time, Big Pete and I.  It's difficult to explain.  We couldn't be who the other wanted, I think that sums it up.  I think we both wanted unconditional love, but were unable to give it to the other.

I told a friend a few years ago that we were estranged because "I was tired of beating my head against a brick wall...and Big Pete was tired of being the brick wall."

One thing Big Pete and I have in common is alcoholism.  I could blame that on him too, except he never once set me down and poured drinks down my throat.  My alcoholism is my alcoholism, and I'm dealing with it.

It's easy to blame Big Pete for everything else, though.  He really was a terrible father.  He wasn't violent, he wasn't abusive...he was just absent.  Even before the divorce, he was absent.  I wasn't on his radar.  I wasn't important.

*When I was in my mid-twenties, I was in Indianapolis visiting.  I stayed at his house.  It must have been before I married my first husband, because it was just us.  We were both drinking...and this was the only time Big Pete talked to me about his childhood.

His father, Grandpa Pete, had asked Grandma Ethel for a divorce around Thanksgiving.  Grandma had already been getting sick with what was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and this was the final tip she needed to sail into the abyss.  Grandma Ethel was committed to the State Mental Hospital in November of 1953.  Big Pete was 14, Lennie was 7 and Debbie was 3.

In December of the same year, just before Christmas, Grandpa Pete had to go into the hospital for surgery - as I understand it, he had an ulcer that perforated.  School was out, and Big Pete was in charge of the kids. Grandpa Pete's girlfriend checked in on them occasionally, but for the most part, it was Big Pete in charge of everything.  Grandpa Pete had not told my Grandma Ethel's family what was going on.

Big Pete told me that a neighbor lady asked him where the adults were.  She was concerned.  He told them that everything was okay - his parents were in the hospital but they'd be home soon.

He was worried about Christmas, though.  He knew that Santa Claus wasn't real, that it was really his parents.  How could he make Christmas for his brother and sister?

He told me that he woke up on Christmas Eve, and made breakfast...then cleaned the kitchen.

My imagination always fills this part in; I've seen pictures of my father when he was 14, wearing a plaid shirt with an earnest expression on his face.  I've also eaten his cooking.  I picture him soaking a pan in the sink with burnt oatmeal.  I picture him in a plaid shirt, earnestly sweeping the floor.

There was a knock on the door.  He opened it, and Aunt Teenie and Aunt Betty were at the door.  Aunt Virginia was coming up the walk with Gramma Hayes.

My grandfather died of complications of surgery on December 26, 1953.  When I was 35, and my maternal grandfather died, Big Pete reminisced about his father's funeral; Grandpa Pete's sisters came and looted the house, taking Grandpa Pete's coin collection and even the kids' toys.*

The part between the asterisks is all that Big Pete has told me (minus the part about my imagination).  The rest of the story I've gleaned from other relatives, or lived through.

The aunts and Gramma Hayes came on Christmas Eve and took them to Aunt Betty's house.  After the funeral, when they realized that they had to make permanent arrangements, Big Pete and Debbie stayed with Aunt Betty, while Lennie went to Aunt Virginia.

Unfortunately, Aunt Virginia's husband didn't want another little boy in their house...they already had a son, Russell.  So Lennie went to Gramma Hayes.  Debbie went to Aunt Virginia's house.

My parents married in 1960, and I was born in March 1961.  My brother, Pete, was born in 1964.  That was the same year that Gramma Ethel was discharged from the state mental hospital, and went to live with Aunt Teenie.

Debbie came to live with us in 1964 also.  This is how the story was given to me.

Mom took Debbie shopping for an Easter outfit.  If I recall the story correctly, it would have been Debbie's first "grownup" dress, her first stockings, her first "this is for you and you only" outfit.

When we picked her up for Easter Services, she was dressed as usual...not the outfit that Mom had helped her pick out.  Debbie told Mom and Big Pete that Aunt Virginia had decided that Debbie didn't need a new outfit and had returned it.

Debbie came to live with us.

How does this relate to "we will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it"?

Truth is relative.  I've told my husband, Scott, about the times that Big Pete wasn't there for me.  But I haven't told him about that 14 year old boy who was sweeping the kitchen floor just before he found out that his family had completely fallen apart.  My husband doesn't understand how I can grieve for my father.

My father loved me the best he could.  I've loved him the best I could.  We have both failed, tried, struggled.  My father doesn't know me now.  I probably never knew him.  Because to me,he will always be that 14 year old boy in the plaid shirt, feeding his brother and sister burnt oatmeal, and then cleaning the kitchen.

I love you, Daddy.