unexpected events

Writing prompt: An unexpected event

This prompt is more stymying than expected. I’ve found myself turning it over in my head, trying to think of something unexpected which has recently occurred (besides my dog almost dying), and I can’t really think of anything. Nothing big, anyway—there are the usual small things. Coupons in the mail I didn’t expect, an unplanned-for phone call, a last-minute change of schedule. But those aren’t really “events”. Those are just … life. The heyday of the everyday.

I am a routine sort of person. I like routines; the predictability of them. I like schedules. I enjoy the soothing reliability of to-do lists, check boxes, and calendars breaking up the day’s hour-by-hour. I am the type of person who, when working, likes to leave the house at the same time each morning. I usually know what I want to order before I’ve ever looked at the menu—oftentimes before I’ve entered the restaurant.

It’s not that I’m unadventurous. Or maybe it is? I don’t see why that’s a bad thing, honestly. I enjoy stability and reliability. It’s not that I can’t handle surprises or I’m incapable of going with the flow. It’s more that … I guess it’s that I’ve had my fill of instability, and now I prefer the comfort and reassurance of a routine.

The result is a life with very few unexpected events. Over the past year, the most unexpected event that comes to mind is our dog almost dying.

The unexpected event of 2015 was … hmmmm. I guess our spur-of-the-moment trip to San Francisco? We were sitting in the living room talking about my husband’s upcoming weekend—I think it was a 3 or 4-day weekend—and he said he wanted to do something different, like drive straight to San Francisco. While he was talking, I started googling touristy stuff in San Francisco, and looked at Alcatraz. There were tickets available for Sunday afternoon, and I said, “Hey, we can buy tickets to Alcatraz.”

So we bought the tickets, packed the car, and drove down. It was about a 10 hour drive. We arrived shortly before a friend flying in from England to go to Burning Man landed, which was serendipitous. That first night, we ended up sleeping in the car (which was broken into on the street the next day). The following night, we stayed at a campsite a few miles outside the city, and the third night we camped at Crater Lake. It was a really fun trip.

No unexpected events come to mind for 2014 or 2013, happily.

2012 was the Year of the Psycho Neighbor– an unexpected and surreal situation which ended with physical assaults on our family, broken bones, and us having to a file a restraining order. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced—the more we tried to shut ourselves away from them and detach entirely, the more frothy-at-the-mouth this guy got. “Unexpected” somehow doesn’t seem strong enough for how baffling and unreal it was.

You hear about harassment situations, but it’s hard to comprehend how intensely off some people actually are until you actually have to deal with someone like that … there’s always some part of you that secretly, deep down, thinks, “Oh, I could’ve handled them. I could’ve talked ‘em down.” No. It turns out some people can’t be handled. Some people can’t be talked down. Some people are just unhinged.

Nothing unexpected in 2011 or 2010, happily.

In 2009, a family member passed away, beloved to those I love dearly. I was fond of the family member, but did not know them well, due to long illness and the nature of said illness. Even so, the actual death was a shock, and a devastation of grief crashed in the wake of it. The influence of their life, love, and childcare has rippled across our lives in countless ways large and small.

In 2008, I was in my first motorcycle accident. I’d had my learner’s permit for two months, and was riding my yellow Ninja 250 home from a practice ride. A white van ran a stop sign and t-boned me. It was a 45 mph street, but I was going a little under the speed limit. The white van left the scene. I came to surrounded by strangers, with a man asking if I could wiggle my toes. I asked where my motorcycle was, and he told me they were setting it upright—that it was unharmed. The police arrived before the ambulance. I had a mild concussion. The ambulance was blue instead of fire-truck red, so I refused a ride to the hospital. I found my helmet on the side of the road, and an officer asked if I was sure I could ride home. I explained my house was less than 5 minutes away, and I didn’t want to pay $1000 for an ambulance ride when my husband could just drive me to the hospital. They offered to escort me to the house, so I accepted, which is how I came to end one a practice ride with a police escort.

In 2007, my husband was riding his motorcycle to work on Black Friday when a car t-boned him. He had just come out of the 15 mph roundabout, and was in the straightaway heading toward the stoplight. There were two traffic lanes going the same direction and a single lane going the opposite, with businesses on either side. According to the witnesses/ police report, a car driver in the far-left lane saw a car waiting to leave a driveway exit on the left side of the road, so they stopped and politely waved them into traffic. The car took the invitation/ opening and darted forward to cross the two lanes of traffic to the driveway on the other side, ignoring the motorcyclist in the way.

A week later, our house was flooded in a natural disaster. It was especially unexpected because the last time the area had been hit with a 100 year flood (a decade earlier), our neighbors said the floodwaters had never even approached our house. This time, though, the dyke holding back the river broke. Apparently, it was in some amount of disrepair and with the pounding strain of rain and river, it just gave in a great gush of mud and water. Our house, despite being raised 18 inches off the ground, got a good 6 inches of flood water inside the house proper.

So 2007 had two unexpected events, which should be enough for any year. Except that was also the year my grandma died and I found out I had a small inheritance, so really it had four unexpected events.

In 2006 my husband brought me flowers for Mother’s Day. That was unexpected, because by then flowers were less common than arguments. I liked the flowers, though. Flowers are lovely. I can’t remember most of our arguments from that year, but I remember the flowers. The separation in September was not an unexpected event.

My grandpa died in 2005. That was the unexpected event of the year. I knew grandpa wouldn’t live forever, obviously, but I didn’t expect him to die while I was still in my 20s. He played golf and drove his Cadillac around right up until the last year or so of his life. I thought grandpa would live until his late 90s, still pulling wooden nickels out of my ear and dandling my son on his knee. They said at his funeral that when my mom died, all the fire went out from him.

Mom’s death was one of the unexpected events of 2003. I don’t have an unexpected event of 2004. I don’t remember 2004. It was a black hole. In 2003, two of the women I loved most dearly died by suicide. One in spring, one in fall. My best friend and my mom.

I cannot say my son’s birth in 2002 was unexpected, because it was not only expected, it was scheduled. He was induced. I could lie and say the emergency c-section which followed was a surprise, but somehow it wasn’t. It was definitely an emergency and not planned, but for some reason, I’d been expecting a c-section since the first trimester.

So when they told me he wasn’t turned right and his heart rate was dropping during labor, I didn’t feel panicked at the thought of a c-section. Just sort of calm. Like, all right, so this is happening, and I had this weird sensation I get sometimes that’s kind of like déjà vu, but not quite. Not like I’ve experienced it before, but more … as if events are unfolding exactly as they are supposed to. In retrospect, it was quite the curiosity. I can’t explain it. I have no idea why I was so full of conviction the birth would be a c-section, but I was.

In April of 2002, my husband woke up at dawn and collected armfuls of pussy willow buds and flowers, and covered every surface of our living room with chocolates and flora. That was unexpected.

The unexpected event of 2001 was probably the positive pregnancy test and my husband getting laid off a week later from the plant nursery, both occurring nearly two months after our wedding day. Wham-bam, one after the other. You know how people say bad things come in threes? Writing this out, I think they come in pairs.

Unplanned pregnancy + Layoff.

Suicide + suicide.

Accident + flood.

Reviewing this, I realize something else: apparently, I see unexpected events as emergencies or tragedies. When I think of the happy moments in my life, they were not unexpected, but worked toward and planned. Expected (except for, obviously, finding out we were pregnant—which, while happy, was complicated).

Weddings, births, graduations, parties, holidays, celebrations in general … we see them coming. We anticipate them, plan them, and, well, expect them. I had a surprise party once when I was 17, but since becoming mom of the house myself, those are sort of a thing of the past, haha. So I guess I do try to arrange my life to avoid the unexpected, as I associate unexpected events with tragedy, heartbreak, trauma, and instability.

another 30 days of prompts

I enjoyed that last 30 day prompt I did, last spring. It got me blogging again (in spurts) and using my scheduling tool so I didn’t feel so bad about a neglected blog in between times. So I looked for a few more to fill out over the next several months. See how it goes.

30 day writing challenge

Prompt: The furthest away from home you have ever been (~1000 words)

I think the furthest away from home I remember being is Hawaii, in 2007, as a sort of make-up honeymoon.

I’ve been in Germany, Paris, and Wales. But I don’t remember it. Frankly, I think my parents were being supremely unfair to even take an infant on such travels. It doesn’t count as traveling if you can’t remember it!

Anyway, back to the make-up honeymoon. It kind of begins in 2001, when we got married– a small ceremony and no honeymoon to speak of; partially due to finances and partially due to cultural pressure. We were mormon at the time, and not getting married in the temple had an element of shame attached to it.

Fast forward a few years, and in 2006 we were having some issues and separated. We reconciled a few months later. Shortly after my grandmother passed away. I was surprised to learn I would receive a small inheritance. Of course, the first thing we did was pay off several debts and put some money into savings—but I also wanted to treat my husband.

At the point we went on the trip, we’d moved back in together and been going to marriage counseling for almost 9 months—working on reconciliation for nearly 10 months. Some people said it was a bad idea to splurge the inheritance funds on a fancy trip when our reconciliation was still so “new,” but to me it seemed more than worthwhile.

Our separation wasn’t because of a difference in values, or because we fell out of love. It was communication issues, plain and simple. Both of us feeling unappreciated. For six years, he’d worked long and difficult hours at often thankless positions to keep a roof over our heads and food on our table.

And now, when it came time for it, he’d actually listened and gone to the effort of making the changes he could to improve our marriage. He’d communicated the changes he needed from me. Not many people do that, y’know. Not many people have the strength or willingness to lean into the discomfort of confronting their own biases, their own entrenched habits and bad behaviors. But my husband has that strength, because he’s awesome.

He found ways to show his appreciation for my contributions as a wife, mother, and life partner. On a daily basis, he made concerted efforts to be present, generous, respectful, compassionate, and thoughtful—to leave work at work, to develop good stress-resolution coping skills, to communicate his needs. We were working through our problems.

So as far as I was concerned, it wasn’t a risk or bad idea at all. It was an opportunity to take the honeymoon we never got to have. The only regret I have is that I didn’t buy the trip through Costco Travel—I used some online travel package place, and they kinda sucked in terms of price to value. I could have gotten a way better deal through Costco Travel. I know it sounds like I’m totally pimpin’ as a salesperson, but for real—I spent about $3.5k for about a week and a half on what was advertised as a 5 star hotel room (it really was not) on the beachfront (I guess three blocks away is kind of the beachfront).

We also got a rental car, luau night, and a magic show. After a few days, we realized the spare tire on our rental car had a rusted screw jammed into it (clearly not put in by us—the rust was old and spreading onto the tire rubber as well), so we took it back to the dealership. I’d specifically paid for a convertible, and they tried to push us into a sedan. We ended up getting the last convertible on the lot, a Sebring or something like that. While on the trip, I made the mistake of pricing out the exact same package through Costco Travel and found out we could have stayed in one of the super nice ocean view resorts right on the beach, gotten two extra days, and saved money.

Eeeeerrrrrghghhhhh.

So yeah, that’s the only thing I regret.

The rest of it was amazing, though. We had a really fantastic time, with just the right balance of touristy activities and self-guided island wandering. I tried sushi for the first time, and there was this one day when we rented mopeds and whizzed around Honolulu. As it turns out, they don’t have helmet laws on Oahu (which is utter insanity), and realistically speaking, all hours are kind of rush hour traffic in Honolulu, but we were literally riding through what is colloquially accepted as “rush hour traffic,” that is, 5 o’clock traffic. It was terrifying and exhilarating.

When I began riding motorcycle in 2008, I’d often think back to that experience and tell myself, “You survived riding a moped without any gear at all in rush-hour Honolulu traffic. You can do this.”

We drank pineapple juice every morning and ate mahi-mahi at the restaurant every night. We would get up early, just as the sun was rising, to walk or snorkel at the nearly deserted beaches. I guess the time of year we went was the off-season for Hawaiians to go to the beach, and no-one on vacation likes to get up at dawn. For Washington natives, sunrise in Hawaii in the fall is absolute perfection, though.

We visited historical sites and museums, Buddhist temples and gardens, and beautiful national parks. At the magic show, an illusionist made a helicopter appear on stage.

At the luau a woman in a grass skirt stood in front of the audience and gave a little speech about traditional Polynesian values and culture before launching into a blessing for the gathered attendees which sounded suspiciously similar to the typical mormon, “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for everyone arriving safely this evening, and please guide everyone safely to their homes and families at the end of the night, in the name of Jesus Christ amen,” template. I choked on my Long Island Iced tea and met my husbands’ eyes across the table, smothering laughter as we shared silent merriment at the LDS prayer over our alcoholic drinks. Later, on the fake beach by the dugout canoes, I found BYU insignia painted on the wall, but I was too drunk to be indignant at my inability to escape the mormons even on vacation.

Near the end of the trip, we got tattoos to commemorate both the honeymoon and our renewed vows. I chose three plumeria blossoms, while my husband chose three sea turtles (each with a different design on the shell). Three to represent our family: Husband, self, and son. Plumeria and sea turtles to represent Hawaii, and new beginnings.

 

One thing you’re excited for

I was pretty stoked about an interstate motorcycle trip we were planning, but that was canceled due to a pet emergency.

Um. 

I guess I’m excited my kid has the opportunity to go to Camp Quest again. 

I’m excited about finishing the next draft of my book and querying agents. 

I’m excited about getting my first rejections. And, eventually (knock on wood) an offer.

I’m excited about my son going into high school. 

That’s not really one thing. But I don’t have a big thing. Just little things. 

15 years ago

Prompt: The night of your 21st birthday 

Christ, I can’t even remember. And not because I was drunk–I was LDS at the time. Engaged, actually. I probably did something with my friends and family. I believe I have the pictures in a scrapbook–John gave me a bouquet of yellow roses that morning before he left for work. I think we had a family dinner, and my mom made my favorite cake, and then we sat on the couch and I opened presents surrounded by my loved ones.

American culture has a weird obsession with the 21st birthday, which is especially strange when you consider that 18 is when we’re all legally adults. That seems like a much more meaningful birthday to ask about–how did you celebrate the night you officially became an adult?

Twenty-one is just the legal drinking age. Eighteen is when we’re legal to sign contracts and be responsible for ourselves–vote in elections, join the military, die for the government, get married, buy a house, all that shit.

Actually, depending on the state and the situation, an individual may have access to some of the aforementioned adult activities as early as 16.

But yeah, in most of America, it’s totally legal to buy a house, get married, and die for your country at an age when you can’t even legally drink at housewarmings, weddings, or wakes.

It’s been 15 years since I turned 21. There was nothing transformative about that birthday.

When I was 22, I had my first birthday as a wife.

When I was 23, I had my first birthday as a mother.

When I was 24, I had my first birthday without my mother.

I spent my 26th birthday in the first home I ever owned.

I spent my 30th birthday heartbroken and alone, surrounded by friends. I stopped trying to have birthday parties after that–started focusing just on a family day, on time with John.

Twenty-one is such a silly age to focus on, to prioritize.

catchphrase

Prompt: Word/phrase you use constantly

I honestly cannot think of one that is unique to me on this. In casual conversation, I don’t think my speech is drastically different from that of my peers. For the blog, I tend to write in a pretty stream-of-conscious style, so my writing is a pretty good indication of my speaking style.

I do have what some have termed a “reader’s vocabulary,” which is when I know a plethora of words, but my pronunciation isn’t always on par. It can make for some amusing conversational errors. Well, amusing to other people. Usually just kind of embarrassing to me, though I manage to scramble up a stiff smile in the moment and learn to laugh at the incident later.

I think it’s probably always embarrassing for someone to be loudly called out on a pronunciation error in the midst of a group, though, regardless of whether it’s their first language or their second or third. It’s just rather rude. I don’t mind a gentle correction–I know I can mispronounce certain words–but I do hate when someone loudly says, “X?! Did you just say X?! It’s pronounced ‘x’, you know,” so that the flow of the conversation is interrupted and everyone’s attention is drawn to the error. Plus, I’ve had regional variation/ accent differences corrected, and that’s just … lame.

Anywho, so I can’t really think of a word/ phrase I use constantly. I guess maybe awesome possum? I’ve been known to say that more than a couple times a year. More than a couple times a month, ha. Possibly amazepants. Also, every variation that “fuck” can be used in: fuckwit, fuckpants, fuckity fuck, fucker, fuckwad, fuckweed, douchefuck, fucknugget, fucknog, etc. etc.– You get the point.

Also, because I was raised in a non-swearing home, I will do this thing where I randomly switch mid-conversation (sometimes mid-sentence) between my swearing and not-swearing vocabularies for some reason, so it’s entirely feasible to hear something like, “Holy geez, she’s a total fucking b, I can’t even–” or, “Jumping jehosaphats, that’s fucking crazy.”

I don’t know where I picked up the old-fashioned idiom jumping jehosaphats, but I’m going to assume it was something along the lines of Huck Finn, Anne of Green Gables, or Caddie Woodlawn. Regardless, it became a part of my swear-substitution vocabulary, along with the old standbys like, geez, golly, gosh, frig, freak, B, witch, darn, crap, crud, heck, and shucks. There are other old-fashioned idioms that occasionally pop up, too, like what in tarnation. 

Oh, and my parents always spoke German when they were having private conversations around the the house, and sometimes if my mom was really frustrated because we’d been asking her over and over (and over) for permission to do the same thing, she’d say, “Bitte! Bitte, bitte, bitte,” which apparently means, “you’re welcome,” in German, but in the context mom was using it was roughly translated to mean, “You’re welcome to do whatever you want, since you’re either going to bother me until I give you permission or do it anyway.”

Sometimes I accidentally drop a smattering of German into my everyday speech–words like, bitte, or danke (sometimes danke schoen), or Nicht anfassen (heard that one a lot as a kid). The problem with that is I live in an area with a fairly high German immigrant population, and I don’t actually speak German, so this is a bad habit to have. Occasionally  (about once a year) some old German lady gets really excited and begins to babble at me in German, and I have to go, “Nein, nein, Nicht sprechen sie Deutsch,” while waving my hands in frantic negating apology.

things you’d like to say

Prompt: Things you’d like to say to an ex

Honestly? I am not in contact with any of my ex’s, and I can’t really think of anything I’d say if I ran into one of them. Most of them were just high school flings, barely memorable. One is dead, shot in a hunting accident. The last boyfriend I had before John was a toxic and abusive relationship, and the only thing I’d say to that guy if I ran into him would be, “Oh, no. I can’t talk,” and then walk away very quickly.

These days, it seems to be a very popular notion to remain friends with one’s ex’s. I don’t really get that. Unless you have kids or work together, it just doesn’t seem like the wisest plan. I mean, in those two specific scenarios, you have to at least stay civil, obviously … but outside of those two situations, I just don’t understand all the pressure people seem to feel to be friends with an ex.

Like, yeah, sure, I’m sure there are those occasional relationships where two people are like, “Ya know, we just don’t work as a couple. How about we remove the sex and try it as friends?” and that actually works for them, and that’s fine!

But I think–mostly from observation, granted, because my sex-boyfriends-exes-trying-to-be-friends-phase was pretty brief and from basically 17-20 (add two years if oral sex counts)–that most of the time people become ex’s for a reason, and that it’s just way too complicated to try and remove sex but stay friends. There are too many feelings and weird dynamics and emotions and jealousies, and it’s all uncomfortable. Then it becomes like a weird power-play dynamic if you try to acknowledge or discuss them, with all the attendant misread signals/ expectations and the humiliation and rejection, and it usually seems that there’s ultimately a second breakup, anyway–the “friend” breakup, or the friend fade.

It’s just better to end things with an ex as cleanly as possible and be like, “Okay, well that was a life lesson learned, and now we move on.”

 

 

one, two, three, four

Prompt: Four weird traits you have

Can people even really assess their own weird traits? I don’t think they can. I think most of us are oblivious to our truly weird traits. Still, I’ll try. I can think of at least one I’ve been informed of by others … I’ll try to think of more.

ONE.

A few years ago, I was told by several friend/ coworkers that it is weird that I use the overtype/ insert key to edit on the fly. I explained that it’s not at all weird, it’s efficient–that I am skim-reading the previous paragraph as I’m typing the next one, and it’s just faster to use the insert to dart back and make corrections than it is to use the backspace or delete buttons. One of the group said, “Yeah, I’ve noticed you doing that, too, and that’s not just weird, that’s straight-up unnatural. Nobody edits while they type.”

I disagree. Obviously, there are plenty of people out there who use the insert key: Why else would it exist? However, it’s clearly an unusual enough behavior that my habit had drawn attention and remark from others. It was, in a word, weird.

So that’s weird behavior number one.

TWO.

I haven’t exactly been told noticing qualifiers in colloquial speech and finding them situationally funny is weird, but from the way people react when I giggle at them or point them out, I think it might be.

For example, my mom once wrote me a letter with the lines,

I love you because you are you. You are bubbly and enthusiastic and you can be kind and compassionate. 

This always make me snicker. I mean, it’s really sweet and I love it, but it also makes me grin every time I read it.

If you think it’s funny, then you get me. If you don’t then … yeah, you probably think I’m weird to be laughing at something like that.

THREE.

Interpreting hypothetical scenario questions to the most extreme example.

Again, I don’t think this is necessarily “weird” so much as “fun mental exercise“. However, it quickly goes from “fun mental exercise” to “bad habit” and “weird” when you’re in serious pain at the hospital and the nurse asks you, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is your pain right now?”

“What’s a 10?” you whimper.

“The worst pain imaginable,” she says.

Well. The worst pain imaginable? Geez. I’ve only given birth and been in a motorcycle accident. On balance, those aren’t actually that bad. I mean, I’ve never been flayed alive, or tarred and feathered, or had boiling oil poured on me, or been waterboarded for 48 hours straight, or had sharpened poison sticks driven through my flesh, or had a limb amputated without any sort of pain management, or been mauled by a shark or a bear or a wild pig … no, on balance, I’ve actually lived a pretty comfortable life.

“Two,” I whimper, curled around the spiking agony in my abdomen. The nurse straightened, looking relieved and little disgusted at my noises of pain.

My husband, standing nearby and knowing how both my mind and body works, looks exasperated. “She means the worst pain you’ve actually experienced,” he translates.

“Ooooh,” I say. “Well, then, seven.”

FOUR. 

After consulting with my friend DJ, we decided I am a weird cat owner. Apparently when my cats climb into my lap and I then lift them upright and hold out their upper legs and give them a “voice” so they can hold forth with opinions on various household goings-on, that is not normal cat-ownership behavior. She also said most cat owners do not do the pull-squish of, “my mommy pulled my braids too tight/ I ate too much spaghetti,” to their cats’ face. So. Yeah.

Weird cat owner, here.

 

 

 

 

something

Prompt: something you miss

Brownie Bear.

When I was little, I got Brownie Bear for Christmas. My kid sister, who I shared a room with, received an identical bear, except for it was a very light pink. She did not name hers Pinkie Bear. Somewhat more creatively, she named it Sunshine.

They were massive bears. In the photographs of us the Christmas we received them, they are almost as large as we are–my arms are wrapped around Brownie’s midsection, hugging him tight, and I am beaming over his head, my chin digging into the soft space between his ears. His feet dangle just above mine. He is wearing a bright red calico dress with white flowers.

Brownie Bear became an installation, an auxiliary pillow on my bed. He had stars in his eyes–literally. I used sparkly stars from one of those Lisa Frank sticker sets to put stars in his eyes. When I moved bedrooms, he came with me. When I went to college, he came with, carelessly packed and tossed forgotten on the floor at the foot of my bed. When I had a medical emergency and came home, Brownie Bear was there, stuffed in the bottom of my luggage. When I went to the psychiatric ward for medication readjustment, my mom brought the comforter from my bedroom and Brownie Bear to make the hospital room feel more like home.

When I met and married John, Brownie Bear came with us. He mostly stayed in a suitcase, because we moved pretty frequently those first few years. After we moved into our first house, Brownie Bear came out of storage and was placed, initially, on our sons bed. Then he migrated to the living room, and sort of became a family bear/ living room pillow.

Then the 2007 flood happened, and Brownie Bear was on the floor when we evacuated. We didn’t actually think the house would flood … it hadn’t flooded in something like 75 years, and it was raised 18 inches off the ground. It wasn’t even supposed to be that bad of a flood, but then the dam in a nearby river broke and it just went to hell.

Anyway, flood water is pretty toxic stuff. Its not just the rain and river water–it’s oil and sewage and garbage and just all manner of grossness. Really awful sludge to have in your house. Access into town was limited even in the best of times, and in the aftermath of the flood the roads were a) flooded, b) closed because they were flooded, and c) manned by patrols making sure idiots didn’t try to drive through the closed, flooded streets.

So we had to wait a few days after the flood to get in and check on our hour, which meant a few days that Brownie Bear laid on the floor in that garbage flood soup.

Needless to say, there’s no rescuing that. I bid him a sad farewell. I couldn’t even give him a last hug goodbye.

 

that guy

Prompt: A family member you dislike

Ahaha haha ha … there’s only one person in my family I really dislike. That guy.

Ah, that guy.

I’ve known him for 18 years. The last time I saw him was, what, 7 years ago? I think? I expect the next time I’ll see him will be at a family funeral or wedding. I actually kind of avoid a lot of extended family gatherings, knowing he’ll probably be there. I mean, it’s not the sole reason, but it’s definitely in the top 10–under travel costs and lodging concerns and vacation time and I don’t like to travel alone.

I started to write out this long entry detailing my interactions with that guy over the years–I seriously cannot think of one positive interaction I’ve ever had with him–but it just made me sad and angry. It was super depressing because whenever he pops up in my life, he’s just this unremittingly awful presence, and I prefer not to think about him at all because it’s so negative.

It’s funny. I imagine from the perspective of that guy things probably look very different. I’ve heard versions of his perspective, relayed third-party from people who spend more time with them; from his wife; from my own interactions and conversations with him. I can layer the different slices of story on top of one another, like variously-colored slides of a photograph, and get an idea of his worldview. The way he sees things, the way he see me.

FB_IMG_1464034541051

Let’s just say, we definitely see the world through different lenses. I suspect he thinks I am too opinionated, too angry, too unwilling to follow the wisdom of those I should–like the church elders, or priesthood leaders. Like him.

Actually, I don’t think he’s necessarily alone in that opinion. I get the impression a lot of people wish I would be less … vocal. That I would set fewer “politically correct” boundaries on behavior, or be willing to let more “silly” offenses slide. That I would be more conciliatory, more passive. That I be more ladylike, I guess.

Anyway, I think it’s fascinating, because all my slices of that guy are bad. Like, every single one. His conversation is dull, his worldview his offensive, his jokes are dumb, and his advice is just … ugh. Do the opposite. I honestly do not understand how anyone can stand to be around him for more than 15 minutes voluntarily, and haven’t since the first time I met him.

But for someone else, he’s got redeeming qualities that make him worth loving. For someone else, the good outweighs the bad on a regular basis. There are people who like him, love him, and even respect him. think he’s an awful joke of a human being, but there are people who think he’s pretty cool.

What’s interesting to think about is that I’m that person to someone out there. We all are. I think that’s kind of fascinating. Like, my husband and my best friend and my son and my loved ones might think I’m pretty cool. They enjoy spending time with me. They think my goods outweigh my bads.

But there is probably someone out there who could write up an entry detailing every single interaction they’ve had with me, and each entry would be, “Man she is such a bitch. I hate her face.”

Don’t believe me? Check out Mother Teresa. She is both loved and reviled–seriously. Even Ghandi has his detractors, people who are all like, “Yeah, Ghandi’s cool and all … but did you hear what a dick he was to his wife?”

good morning!

Prompt: Your morning routine.

So, here’s a secret–I’m actually filling these prompts out in advance, and scheduling the entries with my scheduling tool. Neat, huh? Anyway, this entry was written on May 20, when school was still in session. That means a typical weekday morning looked like this:

7:00 a.m.     Alarm goes off

7:01 a.m.     Having fumbled at my bedside table, knocked my phone onto the floor, and located it, I turn my alarm off.

7:05 a.m.     If it is a particularly bad morning, I discover I actually only turned it to snooze.

7:25 a.m.     I shoot upright in bed, grab my phone to check the time, and breath a sigh of relief that it’s still before 8:00 in the morning. Also, thank god it’s spring and the sun is rising at a rational hour, which means it’s waking me up. I wish school ran year ’round. Sometimes John is already awake and playing on his phone. Sometimes he has slept through the sunshine and my multiple alarms and fumblings.

7:30 a.m.     I open the door to my son’s room and say, “Wakey, wakey, lemon snakey!” or, if I’m in a less convivial mood, “Kiddo. Get up.” For some reason, the sound of my voice rouses him in a way his alarm clock never has. Perhaps we should record my voice and use that as his alarm.

7:35 a.m.     While my son blinks himself awake, stretches, and checks his phone under the covers, I let his dog out to go pee and toss yesterday’s coffee grounds. Before I can add the water to the pot for today’s coffee, the dog is already pawing at the door. I look to my son’s room, but there is no movement. Some mornings he will let the dog in first, but most mornings I do. I call my son’s name as I walk to the sliding door. He calls back, “I know, I know.”

7:37 a.m.    As I grind the coffee beans and add them to the pot, my son uses the restroom and feeds the dog. I start the coffee brewing, then turn to his breakfast. Some mornings I pour him a bowl of cereal and cut up fresh fruit on top, if we have it. Some mornings I make a protein-heavy breakfast of sausage and eggs. I set out his ADHD medication and a glass of juice. He comes into the kitchen at the tail end of the preparations and watches me, sleepy-eyed. I hug him one-armed and drop a kiss on his forehead, tell him I love him.

7:40 a.m.    We head to the living room, where he eats breakfast while reading on his phone as he sits at the low coffee table in front of the couch, and I curl up in the corner of the couch to scroll through reddit and FB while I drink coffee … or I just curl up in the corner of the couch and drowse. The dog finishes eating and interrupts Kiddo, wanting to be let out.

7:41 a.m.     The dog wants back in.

7:43 a.m.     The dog wants back out.

7:45 a.m.     The dog wants back in.

7:47 a.m.     The dog wants back out, but this time we tell it no. It pads to the back bedroom to snuffle at John’s face. Kiddo finishes his breakfast and goes back to his bedroom.

7:58 a.m.    It suddenly occurs to me that I haven’t heard any movement-type noises indicating “getting ready” for ten minutes or so. I either text or call out to Kiddo, depending on how bad my morning headache is. He promises he will come start his morning chores at exactly 8:05.

8:00 a.m.    John pads out from the bedroom, accompanied by the dogs. If I already poured the coffees, he heats up his by-now-cooled-mug. If I have just been lazily drowsing on the couch coffee-less, he pours me a mug and checks to see if I’ve taken my medicine.

8:05 a.m.     Kiddo comes out and begins to unload the dishwasher, as promised. When he finishes, he flosses and brushes his teeth and changes his shirt.

8:10 – 8:45 a.m.     Laziness and quiet. Browsing on the internets. Then Kiddo grabs his pre-packed backpack and leaves for the bus stop so he can catch the bus, which apparently arrives at 8:55.

 ~*~

In the summer, our morning routines involve sleeping in sometimes and waking up super early sometimes. Sometimes we go crabbing and sometimes we go clamming. Sometimes we go to yard sales and sometimes we go on motorbike rides. Sometimes we stay inside and veg while drinking coffee and staring at the internet screens.