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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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Back home in Indiana: 30 steps to moving back in with your Olds

Here is how you end up living with your Olds again:

Establish the following life:

1. Have your dream job in a career that you love and at which you excel.
2. Own a darling little house in a neighborhood you should not be able to afford, but can because it once belonged to a crazy cat lady and you have had the foresight to obtain an extremely handy boyfriend.
3. Be part of a thriving arts culture where you exhibit and teach things that you love even more than your dream job. Be unusually successful at this.
4. Love the city where you live so much that some days, you just drive around it and stop at random places because there is always more to discover.
5. Allow yourself to finally get a puppy, which you have wanted to do for 20 years but always talked yourself out of, because your darling house is only 5 minutes from your dream job, and you can go home for lunch every day to play with the puppy.
6. Marvel at how many amazing friends you have in your chosen career and your artistic life.
7. Spend your time outside of work making things, socializing, raising your puppy, and generally feeling like a truly fulfilled and lucky human being.
8. Do most of this for 10 years.
9. Do all of it for two.
10. Drive to work every day wondering how you got this lucky.
Once you have done all of these things, here are the next steps:

11. Go from excellent reviews, statewide renown, and writing for national journals to being forced to resign from dream job in space of one hour
12. Have nervous breakdown when you realize that you made the wrong person angry, and that your “friends” and your employees have been feeding information to the library director about you, most of which is not true and all of which has been twisted
13. Refuse to believe the above until you are immediately dropped by your dearest friends and colleagues the moment you leave the building after #11
14. When you begin looking for a new position, realize that whoever you enraged must have been someone important, because you are unable to procure even a phone interview at libraries that just a few months ago were delighted to bring you in to train staff and teach workshops
15. Continue having nervous breakdown. Sleep on sofa every night, knit until fall asleep with needles in hands, find knitting before eyes are fully opened in morning, and wake up knitting because otherwise you might start screaming.
16. Discover you are unable to read anything except short magazine articles for several months because reading is related to lost career, and visiting a bookstore gives you panic attacks.  Avoid everywhere with books or anyone you may know from job, which means, do not go much of anywhere. Visit grocery only after 12am.
17. Stop answering phone calls and emails from well meaning friends and family who cannot stop asking what in the world you are going to DO now? And that of course,  even you can’t understand this now, you should look at this as an opportunity to do something even better and it will all turn out for the best!! Because everything happens for a reason!!
18. In response to statements above, snap angrily that you have no fucking clue because only a few weeks ago you had almost everything you had ever wanted, and that they should realize that this question is akin to telling someone with a terminal disease to “Get well soon!” Remind those individuals that yes, things do happen for a reason, and therefore the reason they may feel a brisk slap across their faces is because they will not shut up with their insincere tripe.
19. Find yourself a part time job at a yarn shop. Improve sales by half on days you work.
20. Be promoted to manager when previous manager with facial tattoos is fired for theft.
21. Improve sales enough to keep shop open longer than owners thought possible.
22. Within 9 months discover several unsavory facts about owners especially their unwillingness to remember to pay you, or to reimburse you your part of the shop’s profits which you are owed.
23. Quit, after you realize that the fine Christians who own the shop have no intention of paying you the thousands that they owe you so that they can continue to tithe to their church and drive cars that cost more than your yearly salary.
24. Have another minor breakdown when you realize that the few trusted friends you had left, who were also part time employees or customers of yarn shop, knew that owners had shop for sale entire time you worked there but never told you.
25. Attempt for some months to again seek employment in chosen field.
26. Admit that you are never going to work in it again, and you still do not understand why
27. Consider, seriously, for the first time, parental invitation to move back home.
28. Put darling house on market. Bid farewell to few remaining friends.
29. Leave home, career, friends, self confidence, and ability to trust others in the dust.

30. Do not look back.

And that is how you move back in with your Olds when you are 41.

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