This Dog

Last night was the first time he met the nephews and he was in heaven. He sat on them and then lounged around while they shot the bb gun. But my favorite thing, beyond all favorite things, is how, even though my dad has no lap to speak of that is not covered with belly when he sits, this giant dog will spend fifteen minutes every visit trying to figure out how to climb up into my dad’s lap.

Say what you want about my dad, and I do, dogs immediately love him.

Father’s Day

My parents came through town yesterday on their way down to Georgia to pick up my nephews for some days at their house. It was good to see them. I’ll never get over how much dogs love my dad. But their arrival did prove to me that Sonnyboy would be the most terrible guard dog. They came in the back door and he very quietly got up and went into the kitchen and we didn’t even know they were here until they came into the living room. Even though they’d been loving on him in the kitchen for a minute or two.

They’re upset with my brother for not making the arrangements for the nephews to go to their house for the summer and not telling them that he wasn’t doing it, thus leaving it to them to try to arrange from the road. My mom says my dad is having a really hard time coming to terms with the fact that my brother’s world and my parents’ world are just so very, very different. I guess that’s one way to think of it. My mom is also worried that I’m giving my brother money. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. No. I’m not claiming to not be a dumbass, but I’m not that kind of dumbass.

Our neighbor is dogsitting a puppy for the week. The puppy is very excited by the prospect of being able to bark at a whole wide world of things. Sonnyboy seems mostly perplexed as to what all the fuss is about. Kids today. Don’t they know barking at the whole world should be done from the car?

My dad also laughed at our claim that the dog weighs 100 lbs. He insists 100 lbs wouldn’t even begin to be a healthy weight for the dog–he’d be all skin and bones. He’s putting him up near 125, maybe bigger.

Because we got a friendly couch, not a dog, apparently.

Ha ha ha. You can see that I’m torn. I want to fret over my brother’s ridiculousness, but then I think of something cute the dog did and I’m all “eh, let’s talk about the dog instead, since he’s made of big-hearted stupidity.” He doesn’t really understand playing. But he and I went out in the far back yesterday and he ran toward me when I called him and it was beautiful and non-awkward looking and sometimes, when I didn’t call him, he would zoom past me and then circle back around with this smile on his face, as if to say, “Whew, did you see how fast I was going? Wasn’t it awesome?” And then, a couple of times, he would sniff at something and then look back at me as if to say, “Yeah, I don’t like that this smells like this.” And I don’t really know how to explain it, but I thought “oh, coyote.” Possibly because of the way he stood a little straighter and seemed to sniff really intently, like he was trying to decide if the danger was nearby or gone.

I need a dog of the past like that. Someone who could sniff out all my memories, then put his nose to the air, and decide for me if the danger was gone.

Dads

When you get to be the age you can remember your dad being–I’m only five years younger than my dad was when I was stalked–things become easier to understand. Not necessarily to forgive, but to understand.

Possibly I Have Slipped into Another Universe

I asked my parents for something sentimental–since it’s my 40th birthday–and they actually came through. I got a lovely card and the ring that belonged to the woman that was a surrogate grandmother to my dad and who sheltered him from as much abuse from his father as people could back in those days. And he wrote me a letter explaining the whole history of the ring and offered to have the stone reset for me.

This may be the most thoughtful gift they’ve every given me. I’m kind of blown away. I know it’s the most meaningful gift. I want to cry every time I even think about it.

And Further

I think the thing is that I resent that I feel like a terrible person when it comes to my brother. Why can’t I just listen and be supportive and, if he needs help and I can give it, give it? People have been so kind and generous to me. Who am I to not pay it forward to my brother?

This isn’t a question you can answer. It’s not that kind of question. It’s the question that nags at me. It’s the question I have to answer, every day, in order to keep living this life. And every day, I choose being a terrible person, by my own standards, over not being.

I think it’s the right thing to do. For a lot of reasons. But mostly because I don’t think that jumping up to help my brother with every little thing is what he wants (I think), but just want I’ve been conditioned to think of as my role, and I don’t think it would help. My ideas about what would help involve me telling everyone what to do and then accompanying them everywhere they need to go in order to make sure they do it.

This is one of the stupidest things about my life–how I’m constantly teased for being “too bossy” (the sin second to fatness that makes me unlovable) when what at least half the people in this family want is a boss. Someone they can hate and resent who will make them do all the things they need to do in order to have a functioning life.

It’s a weird thing, to feel like you’re being continually asked to be the monster you’ve been shamed out of being.

But I also just feel like I don’t want to do it. I’d like to not want to do it and not feel bad about not wanting to do it. But, if I can’t get that, I’ll take just not wanting to do it.

But mainly I’d like to figure out a way in my own head to short-circuit this dynamic. Usually, stressful terrible things happen to people and you help them and things get resolved. Even if they hit a bad patch, it’s months (or a few bad years) and then shit gets together. Your help actually helps.

But I feel like, if I read back through the annals of TCP, I’d find something with my brother–something along these lines–once a month, once every other month at the most. Something happens. I get brought into it. I feel like how it’s being handled is a stressful clusterfuck, but I say nothing  and just make supportive noises because otherwise, I risk getting pulled deeper into the mess. No matter what’s going on in my life, there’s some bigger drama in his.

I’m so tired of it. And I don’t really understand how he’s not also tired of it. I don’t understand how he doesn’t take measures to save himself. Let alone his kids.

Working for What?

I keep meaning to say that I saw someone the other day comparing blogs to phonographs–this ancient technology no one but weirdos still uses–and it made me laugh. And it stuck with me. A decade I’ve been writing here (at least come this fall) and so many good things have come of it. It’s weird to think of that wonderfulness, shoot, just the opportunity for that wonderfulness fading away.

Anyway, our brother wanted me to look over his resume yesterday because he dislikes his job. And I spent much of the afternoon being irately angry at him. Like just who does he think he is that he gets to have three kids and a girlfriend who’s staying at home to take care of them and a wife who needs divorcing and he gets to decide that he’s working “too much.” Like, aren’t those the kinds of life decisions that generally result in people having to work really hard at things they don’t like in order to finance the whole thing? And, if he decides he’s going to quit this job in a pique, isn’t he basically just then relying on my parents to support his family? And you know I worry that the stress of dealing with our brother is going to kill my dad.

But then last night I was struggling with this story, my second one of the year, the second one I’ve struggled with like a motherfucker, and I wondered if it was too hard for no payoff. And it gave me some sympathy for our brother.

I read a post yesterday (man, I guess I should have emailed all these things to myself so that I can link to them, but it’s a guy whose being published by Angry Robot) and he was talking about the number of novels that (Oh, here it is!) he’s written that sucked and how his short stories sucked until he went to Clarion and so one and then he got good and now he has a publisher. And he says,

I’d been struggling to get a novel published for twenty-four years now, clawing at the walls of the Word Mines, and I had no hope of anything but oh God I couldn’t stop and I realized that I wasn’t going to stop, that the breath in my body would run out before I stopped writing tales and who the hell cared if I got published or not I was locked in.  I had to create.  I had to.

And boy do I know that feeling! But I also know our brother’s feeling–of doing something and being okay at it and just not seeing how it’s going to go anywhere. Or, in my own situation, frankly, not being sure what “anywhere” looks like.

I’m very lucky. I realize that. But I want to be good. No, I want to be great. And I don’t know how to be.

Ha ha ha ha ha. Lord, I’m sure you were like “Oh, Betsy has a new job she really likes. I’m sure her days of fretting and longing are over.” Wrong, buckoos. Fretting and longing are my default settings.

Here We Go Oh-oh-oh

Tomorrow is my official first day, but my boss said she’d see me about eleven today, so… yeah…. I think today is it. The new me doesn’t start until May 1, so there will just be a lot to do. And I don’t know if or how I’ll get it all done. I tell everyone I’m excited because it seems so ungrateful to just be stressed. But, honestly, I’m just stressed. I think I’ll feel excited later. But this month? I’m expecting long hours and just feeling like crying most of the time.

So, my dad wants us all to go down to my brother’s for Easter because my brother doesn’t yet feel like traveling with the baby–which I think really means that the car seat only fits in his girlfriend’s car and his girlfriend’s car isn’t sound enough to make the trip to our house. Which is fine. Except that this somehow translates from Mom and Dad going to my brother’s for Easter to my dad trying to figure out how we can all go. And I’m feeling a little unheard. Like all my talk about how busy and stressed I am must just be bullshit. Can’t we drive down there after work on Friday and drive back late Sunday and the Butcher and I could still get to work? And these questions come up and I just feel this kind of split reality where my brain is rushing ahead thinking “You haven’t listened to or taken seriously a damn thing either I or the Butcher has said to you about how crazy this month is for me.” and my mouth is just exasperatedly saying “And what about the dog?” which is supposed to mean, “Have you at all considered the logistics of this from our end?” Because, frankly, I feel like he hasn’t. The only logistics to be considered, always and forever, are my brother’s. He’s the one constantly in crisis, so let’s all constantly rearrange our lives to meet his needs.

I mean, for sure, let’s go down on Friday so that he can ignore us all of Saturday like he did at Thanksgiving.

Anyway, I finished David Cantwells Merle Haggard: The Running Kind, which is pretty breathtaking on quite a few levels. But the thing that stuck with me and seems of a theme to this post is how Haggard would find these really talented women singers and then marry them and then hoist himself up on top of their talent and they would find their careers as anything other than duet partners with him stalling out. And then we find out that he’s in hot pursuit of Dolly Parton and I swear, it’s just about as harrowing as anything in a thriller. Will he get her and thus stall her career out?

And it’s not like he’s purposefully doing that. He’s not some intentional career serial killer. It just seems like he has an idea about how the world works–that he should get to have a great career and a great partner both singing and romantic and that he should also get to do whatever the fuck he wants while they raise kids and tolerate it–which is an idea about how the world works that the record companies are glad to go along with. And there’s no point at which Haggard seems to step back and say “Wow, the way I am in the world really curtails the lives of these artists I really admire. In fact, I couldn’t be how I am in the world without curtailing these artists I admire.”

Which is understandable. Holy shit. Who wants to look in the mirror and wonder if they’re some inadvertent Madame Bathory career-wise to the women you love?

What was my point? Oh, right. I sometimes think that my family expects from me a certain stalling out. Like I’m cheating the family if I have a job or ambitions that take me away from whatever drama we’re all supposed to be giving a shit about at the moment. But what can I do except feel hurt and keep on keeping on?

Which, ha ha, also, joke’s on them. Because I am terrified of stalling out. Afraid I have. Afraid all the writer I’ll ever be is “Frank.” But stalling out in that way doesn’t benefit them in the least.

But man, Dolly Parton and Merle Haggard.

There are many couplings I like to imagine (not in a lewd way, but…). I mean, my god, when you read about Loretta Lynn’s life with her shit-stain husband, don’t you hope that she and Conway Twitty were getting it on? And looking at Merle Haggard in his prime? Shoot, I hope Parton took him for a couple of test drives before deciding he wasn’t right for her.

Wasted

I’m weepy and emotional in general this week. But sometimes I feel like all this interesting stuff is wasted on me. I can’t tell you how, while I’ve been so excited and it’s so neat, it just hurts my heart so much that my Uncle B. is not here to share it with. He’s been dead twenty years, but these past couple of weeks, it’s just been like a dagger in my heart. Grief is so fucking weird. It comes fresh when it comes, no matter how long it’s been.

But even today, I had this thought that I should call Uncle B. and tell him about all the stuff I’m finding out about. I mean, he would have so loved it.

It makes me sad, but also it makes me feel close to him, still, which is nice.

State of My To Do List

I think I’m down to Keep doing Think Progress posts; Finish the Afghan; Finalize Demonbreun talk. And I need to remember to finish my taxes, now that I found the pile of papers I put “in a safe place.”

The book I’m going to be talking about at Think Progress today just utterly fucking blew my mind. But I have to say, it made me understand why scholarship in the past takes the attitude that Native Americans were savages who needed conquering. Because when you read scholarship that isn’t racist (or isn’t racist in that way; let’s leave the door open for our descendants to see in us uglinesses we can’t see in ourselves), the magnitude of the American Project and what was lost, or what we attempted to make lost, is kind of hard to look straight at.

But anyway, there’s something weird about going out into the night after finishing a book like that and looking up knowing that the people who looked up at that sky 200 years ago, many of them, had this rich utterly different cosmology. I always look for Orion in the night sky. It’s familiar to me. But, when standing on this ground, looking up at those stars from this spot, to know that I’m looking at a hole where the souls come in… That those stars had this utterly different meaning and may still. I don’t know. It’s hard to explain.

We’re supposed to be comforted by a coherent world-view. It grants surety to know that we all agree this or this. But I’m more and more wondering about what I’m not hearing. Though, I should say, honestly, that hearing these stories was hard.

I’m rambling here but to come at this from another direction, being St. Paddy’s day, I’ve been thinking about my mom’s grandmother, Marie Corcoran, and the ongoing shittiness she experienced from my mom’s grandfather’s whole family because she was Irish and Catholic. About how my own grandfather, who was one of the most awesome people I know, sent the Butcher a letter right before he died insisting we were Orange Irish, if the Butcher ever heard anything about us being Irish.

God, how that must have stabbed his mom right in the gut, to know her own son lied about his ancestry, about her identity.

And yet, I’m not less Clayton Rich of the shitty bigots than I am Marie Corcoran, Clayton’s wife and victim of said shitty bigots. Where shall I stand?

In discomfort. More and more.

And So It Goes

One of our younger relatives posted some pictures of him/herself engaged in an inappropriate activity. To Instagram, which means the Butcher saw it, which means I saw it. And now I’m bummed.

Because it’s just so fucking stupid. And the internet is forever. And I have long been worried about whether this nonsense in the Phillips family is going to affect the next generation and the answer is yes.

I spent so much of my young adult life worried about my brothers going to jail, worried about them fucking up so bad that they couldn’t come back from it.

And tonight I learned that’s not a worry I get to put behind me.

The Mysterious Ailment of ‘Cotton Crotch’

One drawback to having a ‘thing’ that your mom has is that you look back on your life and try to remember all the ‘things’ you’ve heard your mom complain about, especially when she complained about them with her sisters, so that you can prepare for the eventuality that you will get that ‘thing’ as well.

But once, when I was young and eavesdropping, I hear them discussing a mysterious ailment they all suffered from occasionally–cotton crotch. This ailment was decidedly unpleasant. It was caused specifically by wearing constricting clothing, in general, or underpants to bed, which is why my one aunt had to stop doing that immediately. And, if you got a case? a bout? of cotton crotch, you just had to wait for your period to clear it up, because nothing else worked.

I couldn’t ask my mom about cotton crotch because then she’d have known I was eavesdropping. And then I just assumed that, since I slept wearing underpants to bed, someday it would happen to me and then I’d know.

But it never has. And now my mom is an old woman. And I still don’t know.

I tried looking it up on Urban Dictionary, but the only entry they had for cotton crotch was as a phenomenon that happens when your tampon is too absorbent–which would seem not to be the case with my family’s cotton crotch, since theirs only comes around when you’re not menstruating. I know your mind (unless you know my mom) has immediately jumped to some sex thing, like my mom and her sisters are sitting around talking about what happens when you just can’t get wet with your husband. But remember, my mom only married into the Phillipses. She’s not uncouth. And my mom and her sisters are pretty earnest. If they were having issues with sex, it’s unlikely they’d be talking in metaphor about it. (It’s also highly unlikely that my one aunt, especially, wouldn’t have checked for children before sex talk.)

So, I feel fairly confident that it must be, in its own way, something straightforward and not something they’d be mortified to be discovered talking about. But I am still a chicken about calling my mom and asking her.

I could be, as a person familiar with pot, leaping to the conclusion that cotton crotch, like cottonmouth, has to do with unbearable dryness. I suppose it could not be the case. But I’m then having a hard time coming up with other things it might be. Something common? Something unpleasant? Something dealing with your crotchal area? Seems like maybe a yeast infection, but I know for a fact I’ve also heard them talking about having yeast infections, so I am confident that’s not it. Like I said, they’re earnest. And they don’t have cutsy names they use to cover up things–I had a vulva and a vagina my whole life. She never used other terms for them. So, I don’t think she’d not straight up call a yeast infection a yeast infection, if that’s what it was. Especially not around my aunt, who’s a nurse.

So, no, it must be some condition that doesn’t quite have a medical equivalent, I think. But what?

Eyeballs

Also, today I am going to the retina specialist. I’m freaked out. Everything will be fine. But I’m still freaked out.

I think this is a matter of how we approached going to the doctor when I was young. You went when shit was wrong. So, even though this is completely routine and, in fact, I’m going now, before things go wrong, so that he can watch and catch things before they go really wrong, I’m still freaked out about it like there’s a problem.

I had my mom write up what happened to her and how she came to have to get shots in her eyeballs. And it appears that the thing wrong with my mom is the thing the guy I’m seeing has written a book about. He’s literally written a book on my mom’s condition. Which makes me feel like I’m seeing the right guy if I’d like to avoid having needles put in my eyeballs.

Also, I stupidly told my parents they didn’t need to come down and take me to this appointment, because I am a grown-ass woman. But now, since the Butcher’s car is still sitting in a lot on Trinity Lane waiting for the arrival of its new engine, of course he has a job interview at the exact same moment I am having a medical appointment that will leave me unable to drive home.

Luckily, our friend is going to drop him off at the doctor’s office. But it’s just kind of a logistical headache.

“What Was He Even Doing Over There?”

It’s like this. If I accidentally hit you in the nose with my elbow, you should, even if it was completely an accident, have the assurance that bystanders and investigators are going to seriously consider that I hit you on purpose or that I was in some way at fault. That possibility should be entertained and then evidence for and against that possibility weighed and either accepted or dismissed. Your physical characteristics (with the exception, in this case, of maybe the size of your nose–since someone with a really tiny nose might argue that my chances of hitting it by accident are very slim and someone with a large nose might find you’re often getting hit in it by accident) shouldn’t be a factor in whether you get a neutral investigation into what happened to you.

But, if I know, say, that North Nashville is predominately black and I know you are black and I hit you in the nose, say, at Noshville, what am I to make of the fact that people keep asking me why you were even at Noshville in the first place?

Even if no one surrounding the investigation or the fall-out of the investigation ever mentions you’re black, isn’t it weird that they keep asking me why you were in Noshville? Like, what purposed does that question serve. I don’t know you. I only met you because of this accident. And there are a million reasons you might be in Noshville–lunch, job, meet up with friends, whatever. What does it matter? It’s not like you were trolling through Noshville looking to put your nose in the elbow-line of me. So, why am I being asked this question?

Is it because the question is supposed to tell me something? To reassure me that, since I was where I had a right to be and you might not have been, I can rest assured that no one is going to look that closely into what happened? I think that’s it. That I’m supposed to hear that question and kind of know that everything’s going to be okay for me. Now, it’s weird, because I’m fairly certain that I didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t actually need the assurance that everything’s going to go okay for me, because I have the truth on my side.

But how many times do I go back and stare at the place where I hit you? How many times do I look at that place and reassure myself that it went down just how I remember it? And I think I’m right. It was just an accident. But maybe I’m growing unsettled about how quickly that doesn’t seem to matter. The further we get away from it, the more people I have to talk to who weren’t there, the more I hear that question, the more I worry that someone like me could have straight-up punched you in the nose and he might still be getting asked why you were even in Noshville.

And, if only I, the person who hurt you, seems to care about you getting treated fairly, how are you going to get treated fairly?

Why Walking in My Back Yard is Like Walking on Marbles

This is technically from my neighbor's yard, but the effect is the same in mine. You step on that and you're going to go rolling.

This is technically from my neighbor’s yard, but the effect is the same in mine. You step on that and you’re going to go rolling.

On my walk this morning, I paused in the wettest spot to look at a track. Surrounding it were deer tracks, pretty clearly frozen into the bog. But this almost appeared to be canine. I convinced myself that it might have just been two overlapping deer tracks. But I do wonder. The thing I wonder about is–yes, we have coyotes and yes, that area is pretty soggy when it’s not completely frozen. But how heavy a coyote would we be talking about, to leave that deep an imprint?

I should have taken a picture of that, instead of the weird dirt marbles. But I’m sure it was just a deer track on top of another deer track.

Or, perhaps, a werewolf?

Ha ha ha. Oh, life, of course I would be the first person to be verifiably eaten by a werewolf! My poor mom, so afraid of someone hitting me while I walk in the road in the dark, hits a kid while he’s walking in the road in the dark. Of course I would get eaten by a werewolf! It’s so clear that this is a likely ending to me.

Oh, which reminds me, I got sick before I could do it justice here, but I saw a sketch for the herbal in Project X. In the book, the conceit is that the herbal was put together by Mrs. Overton out at Traveller’s Rest. But it’s just an herbal. There’s nothing really directly about her in the story, even though her presence stretches over the rest of the book.

But this sketch is her. Not in a way anyone working at Traveller’s Rest would recognize. But in a way that I recognized as the author of the book. You look at that picture and you understand something I didn’t put into words about how the woman who would take the first steps towards dealing with the werewolf saw herself. It’s amazing. I told the artist that I want to marry the image. And she’s surrounded by these moons.

Oh, god, everything about it is perfect and occult and weird and lovely.

The artist wants to talk about maybe collaborating on something, just her and me. Yes, in addition to the kids’ book (different artist).

It makes me feel like I might have to reevaluate what I mean by “success” for myself. I had thought that it meant getting a book contract and having a “real” publisher. But I have to tell you, there’s something about having these amazing artists wanting to collaborate that blows my mind. It feels like a way to carve out a happy writing life for myself. But I’ve been so focused on Ben & Sue (still not back from the reader) and then on this short story which is still going hilariously poorly (I’ve got another good beginning from a different perspective, but still not sure that’s the POV that’s right for the story. Yes, pushing 3,000 words, none of which I think are quite right, though getting closer.). I’m not bummed about it, though. This is the kind of story that just has to go like shit at first.

Anyway, my point is that I’ve been focusing on finishing things up for a while now. I haven’t really given any thought to starting new things out. But, man…

So Far, So Far

My mom hit a kid with the van tonight. She’s shaken up pretty bad so I don’t have all of the details. It was dark and it’s winter in Illinois, so he was in the road, not on the sidewalk. The cop didn’t ticket her. But she’s distraught. If only she’d gone some other way home. If only she’d waited five minutes more before leaving for home. It sounds like a genuine terrible accident–just a confluence of events you wish had somehow gone differently.

It’s tough. I don’t know what to say to her. I just mostly listened. She’s most distraught that she won’t know, because he’s a minor, what happens to him, if he’ll be okay.

He was talking, though, to her and to the people who stopped to help. So, I told her that’s a good sign.

Still, that poor kid. Just trying to get to the bus stop so he can get home and gets hit.

Dad

It’s my dad’s birthday. He’s 69. It just feels so old. I don’t know. I have, as you know, a lot of mixed feelings about my dad. I’m sometimes jealous of people who just easily adore their dads. I do adore my dad, but it’s not always easy. He just needs so much–which drives me nuts and makes me feel terrible that, whatever the hell he needs, I both can’t always figure it out or give it to him, just for my own well-being.

Like his weird issue lately with wanting me to write about “real” things and how I’d have more success as a writer if I’d write about said “real” things.

On so many levels, just no. And yet, I’m pushing 40 and I still feel this strong urge to write things my dad approves of. I have to catch myself, and remind myself that, really, what I write isn’t his business and trying to steer my career on his part is, at best, bothersome and, at worst, well, what it is.

I feel lucky, in many ways, to have the dad I’ve had. But I’m struggling to learn that gratitude doesn’t mean that I then do whatever he wants. It’s a hard lesson.

Still, I hope we both live long enough to learn to be at ease with each other in ways we aren’t yet.

Does this Count as a Therapy Dog?

The amount my parents love animals kind of breaks my heart. They never smile so easily as they did meeting and hanging out with Sonnyboy. He’s pretty fantastic, it’s true, but the truth is that they’d be that way about almost any dog. Or cat. Or snake. Or goldfish.

So, we had a really nice evening just hanging out and talking and being charmed by the dog.

I have the first couple rows of the red afghan pieced together, too. It’s pretty marvelous.

The thing that’s bugging me about 2013 is that, even though it sure seems like the year of things I feel ambiguously about is over, it’s made it more difficult for me to trust the nice week I’ve been having. I feel like I’m being set up to be knocked down again. And I have to figure out how to let that go and how to just enjoy the nice times for what they are.

The cats continue to be kind of upset at us. But I think they’re figuring out that the dog is just a doofus. This morning, the three of them were in the kitchen together and there was some hissing, but no one ran. If they can just learn to stand their ground, everything should be fine.

Excitement

I’m a little trepidatious, I have to admit. There’s no way to prepare the cats. They’re just going to be pissed for a while. But I was also not able to sleep all night, like a little kid who knows that Christmas is right around the corner.

The Butcher said last night, “I am glad to have a dog again.”

And my parents are being adorable about this. My dad is all insisting that we take a letter of recommendation from the owners of the Butcher’s dog friend. I am not doing so, but I will have my phone with me which has pictures of Sadie on the couch and being adorable and sleeping with the cats and all the stuff that we hope another dog will want to do. Come, Rufus, fill the empty spot on our couch.

As for “Rufus,” I’m not in love with it. But I can live with “Roo.” And the Butcher likes “Rufus” a lot, plus it’s what the dog is used to being called. We’ll probably just roll with it. No idea yet what he’ll be called here. But we’ll see.

Christmas

I wonder if I should get my brother’s girlfriend something. Maybe the Butcher and I could go in on something? I don’t know. It’s weird.

I really like her, though, which, in some ways, makes the whole thing tougher. But George Jones and Sam Houston finally found women who straightened them out. Maybe it can be done.

I have Mom, Dad, and our other brother taken care of. I’ll get the boys Amazon gift cards. The Little Flower is probably pretty much fine with anything, I imagine.

So, that just leaves the Butcher. I have no fucking idea what to get him.

And then people are going to ask me what I want. And, I don’t know. I just want to feel not unmoored. But I think that just takes time.

Thanksgiving–Now Is the Time When We Process Our Feelings

Here are the ways my parents drive me nuts–1. they stayed with us the first night they were in town. This was unacceptable because the Butcher’s bed is so uncomfortable. They bought the Butcher’s bed. So, if they intended on sleeping in the Butcher’s bed when they visited, why did they buy a bed they didn’t like to sleep in?! 2. Though they promised to cover the cost of Sadie’s euthanasia and though I called them and told them what it cost and I left the bill on the table and I reminded them again, they basically froze and refused to respond to me. Once I realized they had no intention of paying it, I let it drop, because what the fuck? I can’t hang out with them and be bitter about money I don’t even really need. On our way home, my sister-in-law called and asked them for $60. We had to find a Walmart immediately so that they could send her $100. Tied to both of these things, at one point, my dad asked me “Why haven’t you done such and such?” and I was like, “Because I had to pay the vet and put new tires on my car, Dad. I’m out of money for the month.”

And here’s the thing. I don’t want their money. I don’t need their money. I want them to listen to me and sympathize with me. I didn’t need them to offer to pay for Sadie. I needed them to be sad with me. But, by god, when they flat out said, “Tell us how much it is once you know and we’ll send you the money,” and I say “I don’t need you to do that” and they say “Just tell us how much it is,” then fucking do it. Or, fine, don’t do it. But then don’t fucking send money to my sister-in-law so she can buy a Playstation. In front of me.

And then, I wanted to be all, “Oh, just fuck you, you fucking fuckers,” but we told my brother we were coming down Wednesday. We saw him Wednesday night. At which point he announced that his girlfriend was going to her family’s for Thanksgiving at lunch (which, again, fine. They want to see the baby.) so he and my nephew are just going to hang around their house until she gets home. They’ll see us for dinner. Well then, why the fuck did we drive down on Wednesday?

And, I have to tell you, as pissed as I was at my parents, seeing them try to find a way to fill Thanksgiving day–when there’s nothing open and they’re not really familiar with my brother’s new town–while they wait around for my brother to decide he now can be bothered to see them? It tore my heart right out. Is this what it’s always like when they go down there? Them just waiting around for my brother to decide to spend some time with them?

Oh, but that is not the weirdest thing. My niece does not have the name her mom told me she was going to have. No, my brother vetoed the middle name her mom wanted to give her–the same name women in her family have had for three generations–and gave her a different middle name instead.

Anyway, my niece is adorable. Her mom is lovely. And she didn’t punch anybody, even though we were all shouting out suggestions about what she could do to appease the baby when she was fussy. And it was good to see my nephew. He’s hilariously awesome. And, for the most part, we did have a really nice time. We ended up eating at an Asian buffet for Thanksgiving dinner and then piling in my parents’ hotel room to watch football.

The Butcher and I are, based on this knowledge, going to make some adjustments at Christmas so that we’re not hostages to the bullshit between my parents and our brother.

And I think it will be okay.

Resemblances

Both my niece and my cousin’s kid look a lot like my grandma–my mom’s mom. I find this kind of hilarious because I don’t think that any of the other generations look particularly like her. You’d know my mom and her sisters were related, if you saw them in a room, but I don’t know that you’d pick out that my grandma is their mom. But you’d look at her great granddaughters and say, “Oh, I bet they belong to that woman!”