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Number Three: DONE!!

My New Years Resolutions for 2019

1. To write a list of New Years Resolutions that is reasonable and filled with efforts at personal growth and self care and not one that is just filled with utter lies and smartassery like mine usually are
2. To put it on my blog, which I never write for anymore, so that it looks like I am maybe reviving my blog
3. Revive blog. Number 3: DONE!
4. Okay, okay—here’s a real one—in 2019, I will be a nicer person.* I don’t know to who yet. No republicans, obv.
5. I will endeavor to do my own laundry most of the time and not continue to leave it languishing in the laundry room and then act shocked and crawlingly grateful when one of the Olds snaps “I put your goddamned laundry in the dryer again.”
6. I will not, however, stop making comments about how important it is for the elderly to stay active and engaged in daily life. Because that is true, whether we are talking about my laundry or not.
7. I will begin a new intensive workout program and remove all sugar, caffeine, dairy, meat, and beets from my diet.**
8. I will try to encourage the Olds to participate in activities that take place outside of the house, because one of them is retiring and he will be home all the damn time.
9. Assuming that number 8 does not work, I resolve to learn how to summon poltergeists to drive him out of the house regularly.
10. I will stop returning people’s cars with less than two gallons of gas left, unless, of course, it is raining on my way home.
11. I will take Goodwill items to Goodwill within one month of putting them in my car. So that I don’t have to borrow other people’s cars in the first place
12. I will stop hatewatching Chris Hayes every day, because it is not good for my blood pressure. This will also enable me to more completely ignore Michael Moore, which is necessary for my physical and mental health.
13. I will go back to lying every time someone asks me if I’ve watched a particular TV show and just say “Yes!! Isn’t it great?! I love it so much!! What’s your favorite thing/character/disturbing sex scene/horrific mass murder in it???” and then pretend I am getting an emergency text once it is my turn to contribute anything I might think about the show, and excuse myself ASAP. It is so much easier than explaining that of course I haven’t seen it because I watch only news, historical documentaries, and TV shows I have already seen at least a hundred times, and that furthermore, I have no intention of watching it, no matter what anyone says, especially if it has any connection to anything remotely related to science fiction or vampires
14. I will try not to judge others for their viewing habits, though.***
15. I will also not be openly judgmental of people who make and try to keep real New Years Resolutions. At least not til February.

*not all the time. Maybe once a week or month or just once. To see if I can.

**this is the “utter lies” part. Except for the beets.

***the smartassery

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Older and more annoying

Female Old(brightly): Guess what [another relative] showed me how to do?!

Me: How to serve meals that incorporate side dishes?

FO: Hahaha! Good one! No! She showed me how to use that Clist Lick thing!!

Me (to self: I never wanted the olds to become quite this accepting of lesbianity.): Uh. WHAT?

FO: You know! That Kroger thing! Where they put the groceries in your car!!

Me (momentarily relieved): OH. You mean CLICK  LIST.

FO(cheerily, almost demonically so): Yes!!  She showed me on the computer and everything!

Me: Oh she did, did she. Did she or [her husband] set it up for you on your phone?

FO: Oh, no! But now I understand how it works!!

Me: You do, do you? Did they at least download the Kroger app for you?

FO: App? What app?

Me: Shades of Young Frankenstein.  THE KROGER APP WHICH IS HOW YOU USE CLICK LIST.

FO (leadingly): Oh! No, I haven’t set that up….YET!

Me: Nope.

FO: What? What does that mean?

Oldest Old: (starts laughing)

Me: No. I am not setting it up for you.

OO: (laughs harder)

FO: Oh, I wasn’t going to ask you! (giggles)

Me: You know how much I hate grocery shopping.

Both Olds: (descending into hysterical laughter)

Me: I mean, I really, REALLY fucking hate it!

BO: (laughter becomes outright guffaws interspersed with hoots of delight)


[Exeunt Me, to the gleeful hooting and hollering and shouts of delight of the Olds]

Yeah. I’ve been away for a while. But they’re getting Older. And Worse. And the world needs to know of my struggle.




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Interior desolation

Sometimes, the Olds get an idea. Usually this happens because they are bored, or because they have suddenly realized a fact that the entire world has known for many years. Or both. Right now, this idea concerns redecorating the living room.

This is something that strikes a chord of horror deep in my soul.

It is not just the thought of the Olds with a new project, although that rarely means anything good for me. It is that it is a project which they are only slightly less equipped to deal with than I am. And, I am useless when it comes to redecorating, or decorating in the first place, at least when it comes to human sized living spaces.

I do not care about things like faux finishes and matching curtains and statement pieces or pretty much anything to do with any program ever shown on the DIY/HGTV networks. As someone who makes things for [an impoverished and poorly planned] living, one might think that I would be someone who loves sewing throw pillows and slipcovers and who has “theme” bathrooms. After all, I spend a huge amount of my life looking at colors, finishes, texture, composition, and designing. Choosing four* colors of beads for a project can take me hours. Not only do I choose the colors, I have to decide on size, finish, placement—all of this for things that can be as small as a millimeter across. Wouldn’t you think that, say, choosing a bedspread and curtains would be fun or satisfying for me in some way?

If you do, then you are wrong.

Here are my long cherished and practiced beliefs about interior design:

1. Get a house.
2. Put your books and art supplies in it.
3. Done.

There are other variations, like “Get an apartment” or “Put your books and DVDs” in it. But this is the general idea, and it has served me well, or at least adequately, so far. Yes, I do like to have a bed and other furniture, especially bookshelves. But this covers the essentials.

The Olds’ beliefs are similar, except that they have always had much larger living spaces than me, and their central focus is usually the kitchen and wherever a television can be placed. Quite often things like curtains and wallpaper and such look very nice in their homes, but that is either an accident or because someone else picked those things out.

Yesterday I came upstairs for my mid morning break and found both Olds dressed and flailing around looking for shoes, car keys, pants, and other things they can never find when leaving the house. Since it was barely noon, I was shocked. I asked “What’s wrong? Who is going to the ER? Or are you going to Ohio? Did someone die???”

One of them paused and glared at me. The other one was busy cursing because he’d just tripped over a pile of my shoes.

The Glaring One said (in a shirty, snippy tone) “WE are going to look at furniture!”

Me: “What?? For where? Here??”
Glaring: “Ha ha, very funny. For the living room, of course.”
Other Old: “Goddammit these fucking shoes why can’t you blah blah blah nonsense words angry sounds etc”
Me [ignoring him]: “Why? What’s wrong with the furniture we have?”
Me: “My my, we are all a little tense today! Maybe you should have a little wine before heading out! Wait, let me get you a bottle and a straw to take with you!”
[duck back downstairs ASAP]
Olds: [thumping, stomping, grumbling, possibly throwing things? back door opens and SLAMS shut]

Later, I was out, and when I got back, they were in their usual positions, accessorized with an empty wine bottle and mostly empty wineglasses. They have not found any furniture they like that also matches the dog. As I made for the stairs, I heard one of them say “Well, we have to find the furniture before we decide what color to paint the walls”.

I’m going to have to move.
*design note: almost never choose four of something; choose three or five. Odd numbers are always more pleasing to the eye. This is science. Or math. Maybe geometry? I read it somewhere once, realized I already do that, and made a note to refer to this source when teaching. Obviously I lost that note.

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Superhero days

What I Did Today
a List by Wendy, Mistress of The Beasts

—Engaged in spirited discussion re: merits of Spider-Man vs Batman with 7 year old and 11 year old boys.

—Tried to avoid being hit on head with homemade “weapons”[made of foam rubber and duct tape]

—Requested sword and axe fighting take place in separate room from me until finish gallon of Starbucks

—Spent two hours with 5 kids from 7-14 discussing which superpowers were the most powerful, deciding on which ones we all possessed, the specialties and limitations, and everyone’s kryptonite, and why Aqua Man just sucks and is completely lame and whether or not Iron Man has a good costume, degenerating, again, into acerbic debate about Spider-Man being the best possible superhero, which was only headed off by children deciding to invent MY superhero persona.

Name: Mistress of the Beasts
Super power: being able to communicate with animals; also uncanny ability to understand boys between 11-15 perfectly
Costume: Can’t remember color but had awesome boots and very long cape and clawed gauntlets which were my primary request
Kryptonite: people who don’t like kids or animals and also school
Backstory: unfortunate zoo accident as young child. Possibility of being raised by wolves explored and abandoned as vegetarian diet impossible in such conditions

Afternoon activities:

Costume workshop for tomorrow’s LARPing event during which helped to produce:

–fake fur tunic
–pleather body armor
–full length satin cape
–pleather sandals (12year old’s original pattern and design)
–black jacket with detailed flower appliqué (designed and created by its wearer; I only helped tack flower down so could be completely sewn on by 11 year old boy genius)
–two sets fingerless gloves
–did not help with but marveled at pheasant feathers cured on skin by 13 year old. Amazing.
–Various belts and pouches to hang on them, along with holders for “weapons”

Other activities:

–Watching children learn and perform zombie dance
–Asking children to scream in their normal voices, not the high pitched one that makes the blood vessels in my neck pop out
(Request consistently ignored)

–Laughing almost continually

–Already looking forward to tomorrow as I drive home

–Comparing today’s child-centered fun to that of a year ago, and missing those particular children even more than I already do, every day.

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They’re [almost] heeeeere……

It is Mother’s Day this weekend, and that means one thing here at Oldenhome. The siblings are coming. BOTH of them.

When the three of us are together, our lifelong Contest goes on warp speed. This is the Contest in which we compete for the title of Number One. Technically, I am Number One, since I am the oldest. My brother is then Number Two [heh heh heh I said number two] and the youngest, our sister, is Number Three. Except chronology is not at issue here. The numbers instead denote which child is currently the favorite one. The Olds usually have different favorites at different times, but the object of this Contest is to be the overall favorite. My brother, for instance, is always Number One with one of the Olds. She pretends that this is not so, but it is. When I emerged from my studio yesterday, I came upstairs to lots of delighted chatter and giggling and then the announcement: “HAVE YOU HEARD THE GOOD NEWS?!”

Me: No–did someone die?
Old: M— is coming for Mother’s Day!!!
[I swear to God: then she did a little dance of joy. It was scary.]
Me: Oh, good!
[Remind myself to remove needles from sewing machines, as once when brother was here, he thought it would be fun to “sew” and ended up sewing parts of his own shirt together. While he was wearing it.]
Other Old [morose]: You know what this means?
Me: Shit.
Other Old: Yes.
[the two of us make runs for our respective lairs]
Joyful Old, who has been twittering and humming to herself: Where are you going? I HAVE TASKS FOR YOU!!!!
Me & Other Old, from above and below: I CAN’T HEAR YOU.

The Joyful Old was in such a good mood yesterday that we were able to avoid being Tasked for the most part. But. She has now completed what she views as her own list of tasks–moving around stacks of cookbooks, which she calls “organizing”, and disposing of about 12 magazines from 2012 on the living room coffee table so that there is room enough to set a single coffee cup. All remaining Tasks, most of which involve actual work, will be outsourced to the other Old and me.

Therefore, I must leave the house immediately. This may affect my standing and drop me down to Number Three, but that is a risk I am willing to take compared to the diseases I could contract from cleaning out the refrigerator. The other Old will not be pleased, but at times like this, it is everyone for themselves.

Ominous footsteps are overhead as I write this. I may have left my escape too late. PRAY FOR ME.

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There and back again (no hobbits)

And Lo, for she did returneth from the big city, and verily, twas goodeth to beeth at hometh! Twas goodeth to visiteth my sister of courseth. But, she hath no dogs, and verily, I saith unto you, she hath cleaning standardeths which are far beyondeth mine comprehension. Forsooth, for the things that should match, sucheth as towels and sheeteths, matchedeth!  Hie thee to the kitchen, whereth the sink be empty of all and whereth the refrigetator hath only non-rotted produce! Selah!

I know that when astronauts return from a space mission,  they have to go into seclusion for a while before they are re-integrated into earth or something because of gravity and such*.  I can see the value of that as I have been re-integrating myself into life with the Olds. My sister’s house does seem a bit like outer space compared to this one. I think possibly the gravitational pull here is stronger, because when someone sets something down, like, say, a stack of books on the kitchen counter, it seems as though they cannot ever be moved again. At my sister’s house, stacks of things set on things stay there for possibly ten seconds before you are gently reminded to move them. The fourth and fifth reminders are no longer gentle, though.  And subsequent ones–really a little nasty.
I don’t know how my sister and I grew up in the same family and emerged with such opposite ideas about things like housekeeping and being socially correct and wearing matching socks and stuff. Maybe it is because I am the first draft, being the oldest, and by the time she came along so many years later, the Olds had learned more about shaping their offspring into people who could more successfully fit into society. Hahahaha!!!! Good one! Of course that isn’t it. My sister is more socially acceptable because by that time the Olds had figured out that it was best for their offspring to use people besides themselves as role models.

At any rate, since I have been home, I have been suggesting ways in which the Olds could improve their surroundings and mine by living more like my sister. Most of my suggestions have been met with sighing, grumbling, or outright hoots of laughter. There have even been suggestions to me that perhaps I should just “go right the hell back there” if I think my sister’s house is so great.

I have neglected to share with the Olds that I am pretty sure that my sister does not want me back, since I spent a lot of my time there giving her suggestions that were equally unwelcome.  Apparently, kids these days believe in putting each bit of trash in the garbage can as it is made/found. They care about the environment and the planet, but what about caring about their fellow humans? It is much easier on me to wait until I have a nice pile of thread ends, fabric snippets, gum wrappers, and mostly empty Starbucks cups and then throw them away all at once. They really weren’t hurting anyone sitting there on the coffee table for three days, and I felt like they gave her picture perfect living room more of a homey, lived in look anyway.

The thing is, no one appreciates me and my point of view. It is lonely, being this ambassador between the worlds of the neat and organized and the, well, NOT neat and organized.  I am trying to bring understanding and awareness of others, and no one seems to want to hear it.  Just yesterday I was explaining to one of the Olds about how when my sister cooks a meal, by the time it is on the table, the kitchen looks much as it did when she started. This is because she cleans as she goes, which is something that I also do. Well, back when I used to cook, I did it. I think. Anyway, I pointed out that when my sister cooks a meal for three people, the kitchen does not look as though a war has been fought between the forces of good [the counters] and evil [dirty dishes], with evil reigning supreme over every square inch of space. And, furthermore, that even if her kitchen did show evidence of a minor skirmish, that she would not leave the bodies there to rot overnight so that innocent bystanders would come upstairs for their coffee in the morning and be greeted by the aftermath of the slaughter. Seeing that kind of chaos can really upset the serenity of my morning, but no one cares about MY needs. Yea, for I do walk through the valley of death, and sometimes, I would just like to be able to find one clean coffee cup in it.

Like most of my suggestions and attempts at making conversation since I’ve been home, this one was greeted with an exasperated sigh and then a request for me to stop speaking.

I think the Olds did miss, me though, because they both wanted to talk to me a lot when I first got back. This is something I try to avoid most of the time, because the more talking, the more chance there is for annoyance on my part. But, I took pity on them and stayed upstairs a bit more my first couple of days back. Then, the Tasking started, and I realized that it was just that they’d been trying to gently lull me into a warm and friendly stupor so that I would not notice when I suddenly started receiving direct orders one after another. Only one of them really does the Tasking, but it is in the other’s benefit to have me around because then he can devolve his Tasks on to me.

“Tasking” is what one of the Olds does when something needs to be done that she’s decided she doesn’t want to do herself. And, if you are on the same floor of the house when she decides on a task, you’re fair game. Most of the tasks are not that onerous; for instance, I do understand that sometimes people get tired of tripping over the nine pairs of my shoes that I need to keep by the back door.  What I don’t understand is why, if someone is THAT worried about “breaking [their] ankle” or “dislocating [their] knee [again]”, they don’t just come in the front goddamned door.  My time is valuable too and maybe I haven’t had time this week to put away those shoes.

Plus, I try to live my values.  I am more than willing to help carry groceries in from the car and even put them away, except when the reason that the Old can’t do is is because she’s watching her “stories”. That is behavior I cannot enable, even if it means that the ice cream melts all over the back seat of her new car.  Besides, we have a goddamned DVR. Can she not just record them like everyone else in the world and watch them ten minutes later??

Anyway.  Now that I’m home, I need to start paying more attention to their general physical and mental conditions.  When I left, there was a new bottle of Jamesons in the kitchen.  I thought that the one I saw in there last night was the same new bottle.  I was wrong.  I also wondered why they are eating their box of Florida oranges so slowly, until I realized, they aren’t eating them as a food.  They use them as a mixer when they make old fashioneds.   So.  It is probably time for another cardiac spot check.  One of the Olds went to see his cardiologist the day before I left for Chicago, and so I did one the night before that.  He passed it with a really excellent flail and shriek, and the doctor concurred with my assessment that his heart is in good shape.  I think I might have to do another one tonight, just to keep on top of things.  After they’ve cracked the new bottle of Jamesons, they should be pretty relaxed.  Hopefully.

* I would look it up but really, that seems like a lot of work for one analogy, and you have google, so you do it if it means that much to you.

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Different perspectives

A thing that I have not done in quite a while, is leave Indiana. Which, to most of those who do not live here and to many of those who do, may seem incomprehensible.  Right now, I’m in Chicago for a week, and I had forgotten that calming, centering joy that overtakes me at the sight of a proper skyline.

chicago from the sky

I love Indiana, although without Bloomington, I’d probably keep flying over it til I hit New York. When I went to college in upstate New York, I finally figured out why I was always offending people all the time. It was because I lived in the wrong place. Had I been raised in New York, I would have seemed completely normal, and sometimes probably even nice. I understand people there, especially in the city. They are not rude, they’re direct. They aren’t polite and fakey, they are honest. And the main thing they are not is unfriendly, they just have shit to do. If you are not contributing something to their day, well, then move out of the way and leave them alone, because they’re busy. New Yorkers pretty much all have ADHD, which is natural since the city forces you to think about ten different things on about ten different levels all the time. I always thought I would end up living there, but once I got older I realized that I have two main requirements for a home: no roaches, and no shared walls with assholes. There went my dreams of the East Village or the UWS.

And then, when one of my best friends graduated a year ahead of me and went to Northwestern for grad school, I discovered Chicago. I’d been there as a kid several times, since Bloomington is only a few hours away by car. But I had never been there as an adult, and especially not as an adult hanging out with one of the most fun and also ill behaved people I have ever known.

Chicago has lots of what I love about New York–great museums, beautiful architecture, incredible diversity, and excellent baked goods–but it doesn’t have apartments so small that the shower is in the kitchen, and I have never seen a roach in any of the many places I’ve stayed in here. To be fair, that may be because when I was young and poor with poor and young friends, I was often in a state of altered consciousness while in their homes and did not notice the skittery horrors. But I think it might also be that Chicago’s winters are so cold that even roaches, who could survive a nuclear holocaust, could not make it through a winter here. In fact, I am astonished anew every year that so many humans manage to make it through a Chicago winter.

I know just how horrible they are, because my sister lives here, and because every winter she likes to send me photos of the snow accumulation on her outdoor table. Well, I say “winter” but what I mean is “early October”. By the time the snow’s depth is remarkable enough for her to record, it is already at least a foot deep and often sandwiched between layers of ice. I believe that this is God’s way of saying to Chicagoans “Fuck you, what do I have to do to show you assholes that I never meant for your species to LIVE here??” Yet, they persist in doing so, and I think this is probably because in spite of being city dwellers, Chicagoans are also Midwesterners, and as such, are extremely stubborn and tend towards the passive aggressive. Whereas the New Yorker would just tell God to go fuck himself, the Chicagoan nods, says “Why thank you, Lordy McLorderson, I will surely consider that!” and then just does exactly what he wants anyway. I respect that, even though my natural tendency is towards the more direct version of blasphemy.
I have chosen the best time of the year to visit Chicago. The blossoms are out on the trees; the days are almost warm; and the sunlight is pretenaturally bright from bouncing off the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan. Soon the summer will be here, and God’s summer efforts to tell people not to live here are often as unbearable as his winter ones. Even though it is so much further north, Chicago makes the heat and humidity of southern Indiana look like a child’s game.

All of that said, though, I would still be glad to be here in Chicago and away from Bloomington right now even if there were three feet of snow on the ground. This is because:
1. The Olds are not here. Enough said. Glory, glory hallelujah, praise be to Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and their little dog too!
2. I will probably not run into anyone here that I’m currently avoiding at home, a group of people that seems to grow exponentially all the time.

I have been trying to remember anything else I’ve ever done that’s made as many people as mad as pointing out homophobia to a group of liberals and requesting that they address it and reject it. Back in the day, this was something I did a lot, and even though I was usually condemned by some people, they were the people displaying the homophobia, not the ones who deplored it. I mean, I’m pretty accomplished when it comes to infuriating people in large numbers, but this time I’m in a whole new league. I remember when I first read about “post feminism” and was so infuriated that I had to lay down and not speak to people under 30 for a few weeks. Perhaps I’m just witnessing the beginning of the post-gay rights era, when it isn’t just Log Cabin Republicans and gay fundamentalist Christians who think we’re “beyond” all that.

If that is the case then I am going to have to stay here, or at least in some city large enough where I can’t afford to even walk through the wealthy gayborhoods where such people live.

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Art and lies

Depression is a sneaky, two faced son of a bitch. I have always preferred foes who make themselves known, rather than those who stealthily undermine one with smiles on their faces. Anger and grief are painful, but at least they are straightforward. They knock at the door and come on in for a while, but they usually leave at some point. They’ve been around a lot lately, and I can usually handle them, when I don’t have to entertain depression at the same time. The three of them at once is exhausting, and I haven’t been able to pay attention to anything or anyone else for a while.

Depression is always in the house, but most of the time, it stays out of sight, and when I’m lucky, I forget it is around at all. The problem is, depression fights like a girl. It will bide its time and wait til I am my weakest moment. And then, it attacks from the side, or from the back, so that I’m down before I know what hit me.

When I had cats, I kept their litter boxes in the basement. I would empty them, and forget about them. Then every so often, I would catch a whiff of….something. And then there was more than a whiff. Eventually, the cats would weave themselves in and out of my legs, meowing at me reproachfully and trying to nudge me towards the basement. I would give in and descend the stairs, where the smell would slap me in the face and I would feel like a horrible cat mama and human being and rush to do their bidding. And then, it would start over again, but most of the time, I would deal with the boxes before they got to the eye watering stage.

Depression is a lot like a litter box, only you can’t empty out your head and fill it up with fresh brain. With the right treatment, I forget all about it sometimes. I keep an eye out over my shoulder, yes, and I avoid things that encourage it, like watching terribly sad movies, thinking about Republicans, or taking stock of my life. If I feel myself starting to slide, there are things I know to do that help, like immersing myself in old, familiar books, or running my hands through beads, or taking a walk in the woods. I might knit while watching horrible TV, and dogs help more than almost anything.  That’s because they keep me in the moment, which is one of the hardest things for me to do.

Lately, though, none of my tricks are working. Depression has been following me around, tapping me on the shoulder, invading my dreams, and whispering endless lies to me. I think they’re lies, anyway. After a few days, depression is the only voice I can hear anymore, and my own voice gets tired of trying to overpower it.
That’s why my posts have been nonexistent lately; because I haven’t had the strength to try to write through the lies, and I’m afraid of accidentally writing lies that I might believe.

Until I have my own voice back, I have to rely on the words of others. For the past two months, some of the words uppermost in my mind have been these :

One Art

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

–Elizabeth Bishop
VC ’34

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The Returning and also the Visiting

After seven full days of solitude filled with prayer, meditation, self reflection, and mindfulness, I have been catapulted back to reality. The Olds have returned, and, as a special bonus, my sister is visiting. My solace is that she brought her husband with her, plus, now there are people here who know how to put water in the Keurig. The downside is, being alone has lowered my defenses and this can be dangerous when certain people are around.

For example, here is one of my sister’s favorite activities during her visits:
She steals my cell phone and then posts as me, on Facebook. So far she has only done it once this visit.  Usually she manages at least two to three posts a visit, of varying degrees of revoltingosity.  Topics are usually related to bodily functions or sudden, insane political changes of heart. Or both.

The worst part is, the minute she hits “post”, approximately 75 of my closest friends comment “Hi Laura! Guess Wendy hasn’t learned to use a passcode yet! You are the funniest person ever and I am glad you aren’t MY sister! Keep up the good work!”
Or some such nonsense.

This encourages her, and is not helpful. It also means that she is so pleased with herself that she becomes almost unbearable.
My only recourse in these situations is to bond with her husband, who is a lovely, patient man. Very patient. Extremely so. Unbelievably, even.  He enjoys hearing stories of her childhood, for they give him many insights as to how early in life she developed certain character traits. He can then use this information to understand and even tolerate some of her strange behavioral quirks, such as when she insists on wearing one piece of clothing for weeks on end. Otherwise he might not know that she has been doing this kind of thing for a good 30 years.
When she was maybe 4, she developed an attachment to vintage slips from the 50s. No. Do not ask me why we had such items of clothing in a 1980s household, for I know not. I merely accept, and turn it over to Jesus, as one does.  At least Jesus saw fit to supply us with two slips, for she wore one every day, as a dress, for about a year, and this meant that we could wash one while she wore the other.
And, the slips were actually much less startling than the furry hot pink jacket she has been wearing now for a week, both in and outside the house. It looks like it has a fever, which I assume makes it feel even warmer than it is.

As if guarding my phone with my life was not enough, I now also have to deal with the capricious and often petty mood changes of the Olds. I was glad to see them for at least an hour. But then,  one  of them got a little obnoxious while she was washing the greasy roasting pan I cooked a chicken in for a very small dinner party on Friday.  While she scraped the bits of carrot and potato out of the bottom of the pan [along with quite a lot of hardened chicken fat and skin] she continually sighed and muttered to herself. I did not need her negative attitude clouding up my balanced aura and inner peace I achieved last week, and I told her so on my way through the kitchen.
After that, she repeatedly banged together what sounded like the baking sheet from Wednesday night, the pasta and sauce pans from Monday, and the inside of the rice cooker from Thursday as loudly as possible.

I think she may have been doing it on purpose.

Even so, I asked her very nicely to please keep it down because I was going to take a nap next door in the living room.  She did not even have the decency to reply. As I settled down on the couch, though, I am pretty sure that I heard her mumble more words I did not realize were in her lexicon. I have rarely been called things like that, even when I deserved it. But, I am a generous person, so I did not mention her comments when I shouted for quiet from the next room. After all, I had had to get to at the crack of 10am having only had 9 hours of sleep, and I was worn out. I had fed the dog, myself, and watched seven episodes of Criminal Minds so far; was it too much to ask that someone, who had spent the past 8 hours just lounging around in cars and airports and airplanes,  shoulder a part of my burden??

Apparently people who have been traveling since dawn feel like they can just march in the door, drop their suitcases, not bring me a thoughtful thank you gift for all of my help holding down the fort, and proceed to spend the rest of the day lying around sighing about how exhausted THEY are. And of course my sister always takes their side, because she thinks I am horrible and selfish and ungrateful. I have told her that the true glory of humanity is how we are all different and each of us is a different and fascinating assemblage of behaviors and emotions that are all equal in God’s eyes. She said that this would be more convincing if I were not such a godless atheist that I even got kicked out of a Unitarian Universalist church, but I told her that she needed to open her mind to Possibility or some kind of crap like that.

Have just realized that I do not know where my cell phone is. Oh no.

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The Returning

Lo, as I type these very words, the Olds are on their way back home. After an exhausting week of relaxation, sunshine, ocean, eating cake for breakfast and lunch, lounging by the pool, day drinking, evening drinking, night drinking, drunk dialing/texting all of their offspring with blurry photos of what appear to be flamingos and old women in various stages of inebriation, sober-texting me requests not to dispose of rotten produce and helpful housekeeping tips (No. I am not cleaning the caper closet. Assholes), eating at gourmet restaurants while I subsist on dry cereal and peanut butter eaten from a spoon (ran out of milk and bread around Tuesday), and ignoring any of my texts that need answers–
“Out of silverware. Please advise”
“Bread has ended; no spoons, no way to consume peanut butter please send help NOW”
“The dog has been stolen” (Didn’t actually send that–although that one they would have responded to, but there would have been no need to worry, since no one would keep her for more than an hour without paying us to take her back)
–after all of that, they are, right now, traveling from Florida to Indianapolis.

Since I have had the misfortune to make this journey with them in the past, not to mention all of the other trips I have taken with them as a freeloading adult, I would now like to describe what it is like to Travel With the Olds, so that everyone can understand why staying at home, doing laundry, cleaning the refrigerator, and eating bits of leftover stale food for a week is preferable to a week in Florida. For me, at least.

5:00 AM: Oldest Old wakes up in panic. MUST GET TO AIRPORT ASAP!! FLIGHT LEAVES AT 10am!!! HURRY HURRY HURRY! (falls back asleep)
5:32 AM: Oldest Old wakes up again. Hears other Old and her sister, Aunt Old, in other room having coffee, not having the hangovers they deserve, and cackling.
5:33-6:49: General rushing around of all three Olds. Lots of asking each other if have seen this or that while trying to eat all the leftovers in the fridge and putting whatever leftover liquor they have into leftover orange juice which they purchased to drink for breakfast and which has in fact only been used as a mixer all week
6:50: Oldest Old shoos other two Olds out of condo, so he can do a last walkthrough to check for anything they have forgotten.
6:51: Other Olds stand in parking lot giggling and making hurtful but honest observations about the absolute ridiculosity that the Oldest Old thinks he can find ANYTHING.
6:55: Oldest Old reappears and asks why the hell they aren’t in the car yet.
6:56: Aunt Old cunningly says that her coffee has kicked in, and can she have the key for a minute as she has something to attend to.
7:05: Aunt Old opens door of (already running) car, gets in, hands Oldest Old his wallet and iPad, and does not look at the other Old so as to prevent unladylike whoopings of laughter.
7:06: Oldest Old peels out of parking lot and refuses to speak until they reach the airport 30 minutes later.
7:56: After stressful job of returning rental car and having to go back and search it twice, once for his wallet and once for his suitcase, the Oldest Old is once again not speaking to the other Olds, who are positively bursting at the seams with mirth and delight at how unhungover they are, how annoyed the Oldest Old is with everything in general right now, and how so much of that annoyance is directed at them in particular.
8:04: He continues not speaking to them while they check in at the counter. Within seconds, he disappears into a crowd of other Olds all wearing khaki old man sunhats and Blue Blocker sunglasses, who, like him, are racing towards their gates to catch flights which will not leave for several hours yet.  Since he is tall, sometimes his old man hat can be seen bobbing above the crowd, but eventually it is impossible to tell which pastel pink hatband is his in the distance.
8:28: Other Olds arrive, panting and exhausted, at gate, to find Oldest Old calmly reading a newspaper and finishing some kind of delicious breakfast pastry, of which he has pointedly purchased only one. He nods in greeting and stiffly returns to his paper.
8:29: Other Olds take seats near him whispering and giggling, and then ask him loud questions about how long until they are supposed to board and do they have time to get coffee and does he want anything even though he must be full after eating whatever that was that he didn’t share
8:30 Oldest old mumbles something about having plenty of time and turns down offers of anything.
(Fun fact: Flight does not leave til 11:00am, not 10:00 as previously thought. All this means to Other Olds is more time to find a bar serving Bloody Marys before 9:00am)
8:31-10:20 Consumption of Bloody Marys. Approximately 19 trips to bathroom. Continued pouting from Oldest Old. More giggling and whispering from other Olds, punctuated by incredibly loud text alerts from their phones, as they have just discovered how hilarious it is to text each other things about the Oldest Old while sitting right behind him.
10:21 Boarding announced. Oldest Old immediately apparates to the front of the line, while the Other Old and Aunt Old take tearful leave of one another.
10:23  My Olds disappear into plane.   Aunt Old collapses into wild, uncontrollable laughter and goes in search of bar.

Right now, they are still in the air. This means I have approximately 2, maybe 3 hours during which I must clean the entire house, procure groceries I lied about getting two days ago, and also find the dog.

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