Baby Blanket

I’d like to write a longer post, but a cat is sleeping on my arms. Here’s a blanket I made:

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And here’s another picture of my nephew:

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Yesterday, I spent all afternoon holding my nephew while he slept. Well, he didn’t only sleep. He opened his eyes and looked around a little bit and he did an enormous pooping. And my mom absconded with him for a while.

But mostly he and I sat on the couch and he dozed on and off and I felt at peace.

The thing about a baby is that I want him to feel comfortable and safe and cozy. And the thing I realized is that I’m set up to make a baby feel comfortable and safe and cozy. Softness might not be coded “sexy” in our society, but children like it.

A thing that kept passing through my mind on the way home is what’s a body for? Like, in terms of our society. And the message we women get from the time we’re very little is that our bodies are for pleasing men. And this is achieved by being young and thin and every troll on the internet will insist this is because of evolutionary biology–men are looking for healthy women to reproduce with.

But if reproduction is the ultimate goal, then the female bodies most pleasing to babies, the ones that allow them to thrive, would be most highly prized.

(And let me be clear: I don’t think a body is “for” anything, except the things the person who is that body wants to use it for.)

It got me thinking that part of the role of objectifying women is to socialize men into prizing women who give the appearance of being for nothing but whatever a man decides. And part of the clusterfuck of it is that it’s not even what an individual, particular man decides, but the things that will give him the most status–so what the generic group decides.

It’s fucked up for everyone.

But anyway, it was wild to sit there and realize that my body was doing something it could do really well, something it seemed almost custom designed for. Like, for once, I felt comradery with tall people or strong people. She shall reach the things on the high shelf! He shall open all jars. I shall keep the nephews warm and cozy while they sleep.

And Rose Came to Visit!

We spent the afternoon hanging out in the hospital with the baby. I let Rose take some pictures, and it’s fun to see what a three-year-old thinks you need pictures of.

She also took one of the Butcher’s wife’s ankle which tickled me.

And here’s one I took of the baby, sucking his thumb.

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When you’re a baby these days, they make you wear mittens on your hands so you don’t scratch yourself. It also makes it harder to suck your thumb.

On his second day, he decided he didn’t like being wrapped like a burrito and he sometimes prefers to be put up on your shoulder. He was opening his eyes a little bit, but he always looked like he wasn’t sure said eye-opening was a good thing.

He both seems so impossibly tiny and like there’s something really screwy about nature’s idea that something that size should come out of your vagina.

He’s Here!

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He’s under the heat lamp here, which is why he appears to be so red and I appear to be covered in a fine layer of dirt. But in real life, he’s not part tomato. I just noticed that my toes made it in the picture, too.

He has the Butcher’s ears and he looks like my dad when he scowls. He kind of generally looks like his mom in a way that, when you see them together, they obviously fit, but is hard to articulate. So far, as far as I observed, his likes are being held–especially by his mom and dad, being wrapped up like a burrito, and putting his tongue out. His dislikes are poopy diapers and the whole process of being born.

I sang to him. That was his first song. I saw him make his first sneeze. I saw his first poop. There will just be so many firsts these coming days.

The Butcher let everyone hold him, but once the baby came back to him, he cuddled up with him and that was that. He held him for the rest of the time I was there.

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Tomorrow is D-Day!

Tomorrow, my nephew, Delano, who will have to have a nickname once he’s out in the world, will be born. I’m planning on going up and sitting in the waiting room and seeing him on his first day.

I’m so excited.

And worried, of course, but much more excited than worried.

 

Pot Stickers Unstuck

I cooked potstickers last night, successfully. I didn’t make them. I’m not that ambitious. But I cooked them and they didn’t stick to the pot.

Usually, when I make them, they do. But I finally realized that I had been taught in the wrong order. You don’t cook them in water you let boil off and then brown up the bottoms–that will indeed let them stick to the pot. You set them in the pot lightly coated with hot oil, let them brown up, and then put in a little water, which, by the same action that deglazes a pan, pops those potstickers right off the bottom of the pan.

Dad called last night for their weekly call. In it, he let slip that he was helping the Butcher financially–which is fine with me–because they always buy groceries for our other brother.

And, like, I couldn’t even be mad. I just finally realized he doesn’t care about me as much as he cares about our other brother. I don’t mean that he doesn’t care about me at all or that he dislikes me, just that there’s a level of caring and nurturing and doting on that he does for our brother that he doesn’t do for me.

And it’s fucked up and it sucks, but I need to stop believing that he cares about the three of us equally. He doesn’t and it doesn’t have anything to do with me.

Oh well.

Like, I think I have long thought that he was capable of caring about us all equally if only I knew the right combination of words and deeds to express my needs to him. But no. There’s not something more I need to do to “earn” my father caring for me in the way he cares for our brother. If he can’t do it, whatever. He can’t do it.

His loss.

Butt Down

My nephew hasn’t flipped yet. If he doesn’t flip, they’ll go in and get him. I watched a video of an ancient midwife flipping a baby just by rubbing a woman’s belly with her oily hands. I don’t feel confident enough to try that. Also, it would be weird.

The Butcher sent me a text yesterday that said, basically, that, if anything happens to him and his wife, he wants me to raise his son.

Of course I would.

But man, it made me cry to think of it.

Tomorrow, I’m going to Fisk to go through Looby’s papers, to see if he had any written-down thoughts on who bombed him.

I’m very nervous, because their library has really scary stairs. But I also acknowledge, it’s weird to have strong opinions on all the stairs you encounter.

Obsessive Thoughts

One thing I’ve noticed is that the more fucked up I feel about other things, the more I feel like I’m fat and disgusting. I saw a really cute picture of myself from Saturday night and it was like dueling voices in my head “oh, I look cute and happy there”/”I am fat and disgusting.”

On the one hand, I’m glad I can recognize now that that’s an obsessive thought, but on the other hand, it’s really grueling.

My parents called yesterday to tell me more how to run my life. I think it makes me angry for two reasons. One is that I can run my own life just fine, thank you. I can ask for help when I need it and take care of other things myself. I don’t need people calling me up to ask if I’ve done this or that thing they think is necessary or to tell me that I need to be sure to ask this or that. I mean, we literally had a fight over whether my kitchen door would open completely once the floor was fixed.

My dad was saying that it would and I was saying that was the whole point of getting the floor fixed, but he was so hell-bent on arguing with me that he just carried on with the argument even though we were both on the same side.

Also, I’m pissed because they decided I’m going to go up there for at least two weeks in January to help my mom while my dad has knee surgery and rehab. This is something I would have gladly agreed to do, which I guess is why they felt free to just skip the part where they asked me and made this plan with me and went straight into telling me that this is what I would do. So now I’m pissed and resentful, but what can I do? Someone needs to go up there and sit with them and neither of my brothers can really do it.

Yesterday I broached them coming down here to do the surgery and in-patient rehab. Then there’d be three adults who could pitch in. I wouldn’t have to take an indeterminate amount of time off work. And it wouldn’t completely fuck the schedule of my secret big thing.

Which I guess is also why I’m super pissed. I’m doing important and interesting stuff. (Though, fuck, I cringe to write that.) Why is my life the life in the family considered expendable? Why is it that I’m the one who has to go take care of them? I have accomplished all these things. Why do they work so hard to make me feel like I’m a failure because my house isn’t to their liking?

I think they want me to feel terrible about myself so that they can control me. I don’t think they know that. Not in a way they can articulate.

I don’t know what to do about it or whether anything can be done about it. The point, I’m learning in therapy, is for me to figure out how I’m feeling more quickly and then react in the moment in ways that make me feel better.

That’s the goal–to respond to them in ways that I can live with. Not to make them change.

Not there yet.

Changing Paths

I have switched outer squares. I admitted to myself that I didn’t like the flower square I was making because the flower was too small and my idea of just filling it out with other, different flower squares was supposed to mask my unhappiness with the square.

There’s probably a lesson there. But I’m going to try real hard not to learn it.

I did, however, find a square I like that I think will make a fine outer loop. Also, it’s pretty “border”y, so that will let me have a simple border for the whole thing:

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Reasons I like it (even if the edges aren’t looking exactly straight here). It’s got kind of pokey features similar to the interior motif. It’s got open areas like the interior motif. It’s got a roundness to it that reminds me of the other square and, like the other square, it’s built on eight repeats in each round. And it’s got dimension without being too heavy. And the flower is nice and huge. Plus! Popcorn stitches.

I also think I have solved the dog’s flea problem. I can’t find any evidence that anyone else is having problems with the Serestro collar, so I don’t think it’s that fleas have developed an immunity to it. But what are the chances I’d get two collars in a row that would fink out?

So, this morning, I scrutinized Sonnyboy. He had no fleas near the collar or on his head or neck. None on his upper shoulders. And then, beyond his harness, on his back and back end, a ton of fleas. So, if the collar is working on the front end, why isn’t it working on the whole dog?

After our walk this morning, I took off his harness.

I don’t know why that should matter, but my fingers are crossed.

Also, my dad went to the doctor and he is cleared to drive again. His doctor thinks it was just some cartilage breaking loose, so he’s got a cane and hopefully can limp along until his scheduled surgery.

Attack

I think I had a panic attack last night. Anyway, I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t think clearly. I didn’t take anything for it because I kind of didn’t realize that’s what was going on until I was lying in bed almost asleep and then, since it felt like I was finally falling asleep, I didn’t want to ruin it by getting up.

My dad is being completely ridiculous. He heard something pop in his knee before the immense pain started. They have him in a brace that basically immobilizes his knee and he’s on crutches. He walked at a snail’s pace. And yet, can we sit around and watch TV or will he let someone else pump his gas? No.

And, y’all, my mom should not be driving. Which she seems to know, but she’s still going to have to drive him back and forth to the doctor.

I genuinely don’t understand who they’re doing this for. Like, who is the judge or the audience that is supposed to be impressed by my dad enduring a huge amount of pain when he should be taking it easy? Who is watching and praising my mom for still driving even when she’s scared of it, “because it must be done?”

And this unseen judge, this scrutinizer and scorer, it’s in my head. I don’t know if it’s what causes my anxiety or if it’s a symptom of my anxiety, but I know how brutal it is and I can’t stand that my parents live with it, serve it, instead of doing what it would take to be happy and comfortable and safe.

I hate that they don’t think they can prioritize those things, because that would make them “bad.”

And at the same time, I resent that they taught me the same thing.

Dad

So, my brother called me from Georgia yesterday to report that Dad was at the ER. I half-wish I were the kind of person who could feel like this was poetic justice. He fucked up his knee.

Well, his knees are already good and rightly fucked. He’s having knee replacement surgery after the holidays. But rather than take it easy until then, he has to drive all over tarnation and clean people’s bathrooms against their will and move couches to complain about the things behind them.

And so, when he got down to my brother’s, he ended up at the ER.

This has lead to a family kerfluffle because my brother is pissed that my parents went to the ER before he went to work, but didn’t bother to call and tell him until after he was at work and couldn’t leave to be with them. The Butcher is pissed because they briefly seemed like they had this idea that they could just stay in Georgia until Dad was off his pain killers and then he could drive them home.

But now it appears that they’re going to stay in Georgia until this weekend, at which point my brother will drive them in their van this far and then rent a car home. Then the Butcher will drive them in their van home and rent a car and come home.

I have, thankfully, been left out of the negotiations. And you know what? It’s weird and nice. For the first time in my life, my brothers are taking care of the crisis. Completely. All I have to be is moral support.

When I realized that I was being kept out of the loop of planning or participating in this madness, my first thought was “Great, they can deal with this.” Not, “Oh my god, they’re going to kill Mom & Dad.” Not “But I must swoop in and help.” Just “Yep, those grown ass men can handle this.”

It’s what my dad’s always wanted, I think–for his boys to care about him and take care of him. And now they are, so that’s nice.

Can I admit, though, I feel a little like I’m cheating? Like, I know that I should be stressed up the butt about this. I know I would normally feel anxious and I’d be calling every hour to see what’s going on. I know, thanks to so many family crises, exactly how I react in these situations.

And I’m skipping out on all the emotional burden thanks to the medicine.

Sorry, brothers.

I’m concerned, of course. But they can handle it.

Some Fools Fool Themselves, I Guess

I’m feeling better this morning. It’s just hard. I love them and I wish I could figure out how to spend time with them in ways that don’t make me feel like I want to hide until the visit is over.

My dad has a friend and he’s constantly talking about how this friend treated his kids so bad and now they’re messes and how you can’t ride someone all the time and expect them to be okay.

And I keep listening to him say these things and I keep waiting for the connection to be made and… nope.

We got the dog to play a few rounds of fetch. I couldn’t tell if he liked it. He seemed to be having an okay time, but after a short while, he took the ball and went in the house.

I feel you, dog.

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Too Much Togetherness

My parents cleaned my bathroom today. Like, scrubbed on hands and knees cleaned. They also vaccuumed. They love to do this shit because, if I complain about it, then I’m a lunatic. Because they’re helping.

Really, they’re going through all my shit and passing judgement on it and me. My house is disgusting. I need to do this and that. Yes, they rearranged my house to suit them, cleaned the bathroom to their standards, and then tried to leave me a list of things to do, as if my job is to take care of their house.

This, though, is my house.

It doesn’t feel like it right now.

And I hate it. I hate that they do this and I hate that I don’t know how to stop them from doing it

I hate that their biggest complaint is that I’m bossy, but they do this shit. I hate that they make me feel so bad about myself without even trying.

I hate and feel guilty about how miserable they make me.

Trivia

I went with S. to see Roxane Gay last night. (I have thoughts but they sit so close to my bones… or possibly my fat… that I’m not ready to put them down in public.) So, my parents took the Butcher and his family out for dinner and somehow they ended up playing trivia. And my parents don’t go to bars, so this was their first experience with it.

They called me up on their way home and, you guys, they were so delighted. They were laughing and bragging about how they came in second and… I don’t know. I just had this thought that there are things in the world that my parents would enjoy and they don’t know it. They don’t even know how to find those things.

And it’s not like my parents are not adventurous. They are. But somehow, sometimes, I feel like there’s this other life they could have had where they would have been a little happier and it’s tantalizingly close.

And sometimes they stumble into parts of it.

And that makes me happy for them.

You Should…

Yesterday I read an article about how women should have fewer children to help the environment. It was written by a feminist. Which means all her previous stuff about women’s rights to bodily autonomy was bullshit.

So, that’s frustrating.

It’s also a numbers problem. The difference between a million and a trillion is staggering. The difference between a thousand of something and a trillion of something is staggering. But at some point, we just perceive those as very large numbers.

Women having “too many” (and is that ever ugly) kids is everyone who is in the ocean right now peeing in the ocean of our environmental problems. Like, it sure seems like it’s problematic, but everything in the ocean pees in the ocean and that’s not what’s ruining the ocean. You peeing in the ocean or not has no effect on the huge atolls of garbage and plastic. The ocean deals fine with pee.

I get that we want there to be individual solutions because we’ve lost faith in collective efforts to change.

But conceding a woman’s right to determine what happens to her body in this one case, even as you argue that it’s wrong in all other cases is just gross and wrong. And forcing women to have fewer children isn’t going to save the environment.

I don’t know. It just really bugs me how quickly bullshit is okay when it’s your side proposing it.

My parents are not packing up the Butcher’s stuff today. Apparently he talked to them about it and made it clear he’d be super pissed off. That did not stop my dad from sitting at dinner divvying up my stuff. He kept insisting that the Butcher come and get half of my dishes because they “need” them. The Butcher’s family has their own dishes.

Maybe this is a weird thought for an opinion columnist to have, but I do wonder if one of the unacknowledged privileges of whiteness is the belief that you should get to boss people around, that it’s fine for you to sit around and think about what people need without consulting with them and then make grand pronouncements you expect to be followed.

I don’t know, really. I also think I get so on edge because I don’t want to be blindsided by nonsense that I then turn everything into too big a deal.

But I’m also glad that the Butcher and I have said out loud to each other on many occassions that this isn’t how we want to be treated or how we want to treat each other.

Hard

A thing I have realized in therapy, which I guess I knew at an intellectual level already, but hadn’t admitted to myself deep down, is that I love my family very dearly–they are the most important people to me–and I don’t trust them.

And that makes spending time with them a source of great anxiety for me because I’m getting and giving all these cues that say “We all love each other and take care of each other and watch out for each other” but only the first part is always true.

Anyway, my parents are coming on Wednesday for the baby shower on Saturday. I’m a bit concerned about what they think they’re going to get up to on Thursday while I’m at work. They haven’t said anything to me but my brother said that they’re planning on making the Butcher’s room a habitable guest room. Which, you know, I get it.

But you don’t go through someone’s stuff without their permission or without even discussing it with him if you want to have a functional relationship with him. And you don’t fail to discuss it with the owner of the room the stuff is in so that she doesn’t have an opportunity to tell you that’s a dumb thing to do and that you shouldn’t.

Paella

The guys came over last night and I made paella for them. They were a little dubious at first. And then they went back for seconds. Huge piles of seconds.

It made me feel like I had powerful magic.

It also made me a little sad because I was planning on leftovers for dinner tonight.

New kitty has taken to pooping in the bathroom (on the floor, not any place useful) when there are fireworks. The litter boxes are clean but she doesn’t seem to care. She must register her displeasure, though there’s nothing I can do about it.

Physician, Heal Thyself

I had a long discussion with my cousin last night and I’m not sure how it went. It’s hard to talk to someone whose baggage is so similar to my own and to tell her the things I also need to figure out how to believe.

I don’t know, often, what would make me happy. But this morning I walked the dog and the breeze was cool and I felt lucky to be there, in that moment.

Yesterday the fire alarm went off at work and I got down the stairs and outside without having a complete meltdown. I still went down them like an awkward child, but it never blew up into a full-on panic attack.

This is better than where I was six months ago.

And I feel like that’s what I have to offer her–this is the way I’m trying to take out. I think it’s working. And yes, it’s been hard and it’s sucked. But it’s been worth it, I think.

I don’t know if it’s the right thing for other people. I don’t want to be in charge of telling people what the right thing for them is. And I know I’ve been very lucky. I found a drug that worked on the first try. I found a therapist who worked on the first try. (And I know I may not continue to be lucky.) And other people will have harder times finding drugs that work for them or therapists who tell them what they need to hear.

I was, metaphorically, drowning. I got lucky and found a ladder that would hold me. I am, however, not very far up the ladder. I can’t say for sure where it leads. I can’t see if there are other ladders that might work for her. I can only say, “I see that you, too, are drowning. Here is the ladder I’m on.”

I don’t know. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s hard giving advice when you’re in the process of learning how to hear those same words said about yourself and you know how hard it is to hear and believe them.

Poking Old Bruises

It’s clear to me now that my dad is freaked the fuck out by my research. He’s trying to be supportive, but he’s obviously worried that coming to the attention of the FBI in any way–even if it’s to ask questions and try to get answers–is going to go badly for me.

I have a theory of the Looby bombing, which I won’t go into here, but which I have floated by my dad. I’ve outlined my evidence–or more clearly, my lack of evidence–to him and his response is that my theory does not take into account the true enormity of Hoover’s evil.

And I get what he’s saying. I truly do. But I feel like all I can do is–like I said–look for antecedents in the public record and I do not know of another instance of what my dad is suggesting.

I also don’t know, this long later, how I would find out. I’m not stuck yet, but it is something I’m wrestling with.

And that my dad believes he knows the truth of what happened, and that it is the truth, well, I get why he’s scared. I just think it’s more likely that I’ll be stonewalled until the end of time than it is that the FBI is going to…I don’t know…take me to some blacksite or whatever.

Still, ha ha, yeah, I’m using all my anti-anxiety skills to not let this worm its way into my brain.

We All Lived! Hopefully Happily Ever After

Y’all, the wedding was so lovely. Her attendants were her sister and her daughter and the black dog’s man was the Butcher’s best man and her son walked her down the aisle. My dad did the service and I think he got choked up a little. She wore a brown spaghetti-strapped floor length dress with a white crochet overlay. The Butcher went all out with formal Converse, a nice suit, and tie and pocket square he picked out for all the dudes to coordinate. It was the perfect balance of formal and informal.

They served Moe’s for their meal afterwards and I have to say, holy shit. The dude came in, set up in no time, and if that’s what Moe’s thinks will feed 75 people, they must mean 75 linebackers because I know people went back multiple times and I would still say that half the food was left. So that was awesome. I mean, I prefer events were the food seems bountiful and people are comfortable eating as much as they want. So, it was Heaven for me.

I made the famous Phillips church event punch–1/2 Hawaiian punch, 1/4 7up, 1/4 Vernor’s ginger ale, generous splash of pineapple juice, and rainbow sherbet to top.

For an event pulled together in three weeks, it was amazing. Hell, I’ve been to more chaotic weddings with thirty months of planning.

And they were so happy. I had a dream last night that the Butcher was missing and I was grabbing and shaking the kid who lived behind us (when we were all children) demanding to know where he’d gone. Which, even as I was dreaming it, seemed too spot on. But I don’t think it was about the Butcher not living here anymore, especially since all his stuff is still here! How gone can he be?

I think it had more to do with how, usually, when I look at the Butcher, I see all of our shared history layered there, from the baby who stood on my feet and held my hands to walk to the kid we stuffed in the toybox, to the boy I taught to drive, to the young, young man who moved to Nashville and helped me have this life. But seeing him holding hands with his wife, so at ease with her and happy, I saw him only as a man with his own life.

And it made me really happy and proud but also a little sad. Or maybe not sad, but wistful. Like, we did good for each other and now that part is over, but this other exciting part is starting.

I’m just also mostly worried that the dog is going to be bored and lonely without the Butcher. I know I’m just not that exciting.

But! And here’s another exciting thing! The dog played with my step-niece yesterday. Like, played like a dog would play. She repeatedly threw a Nerf thingy up in the air and he followed it with his eyes and seemed to be enjoying watching it and when it got close enough to him, he would try to grab it out of the air and, sometimes, he succeeded and, when he did, he let her take it back and throw it some more. A game! He played a game and he seemed to enjoy it.

There was the usual weirdness. My uncle told me about how his father-in-law lectured him about how to have sex with my aunt their first time and my uncle’s efforts to follow through on that advice, which will cause me to need therapy for the next nine thousand years.

I didn’t get nearly enough time to talk with all the family I wanted to get to talk to. People grouched about being “bored” at times over the weekend and other people were way too hung up on matching everyone at the wedding up with each other, regardless of age.

But, on the other hand, yesterday at breakfast, we sat around the community table at Ruby’s Kitchen (shout out to the guy who moved so that we could have it) and there were so many of us and so many of us were children and my dad at one point was trying to hand the biscuits down the table and he said, “Mrs. Phillips, take these!” and three women looked up and he was startled and laughed.

And I had a feeling like, okay, good. I’m glad he’s seen this.

But now I have to clean the litter boxes myself and that bums me out.

Fingers Crossed

Y’all, I’m not sure how this is going to go. If I could make a bubble and put these good-hearted people in it to protect them from family ridiculousness, I surely would.

Some people are going to get married today. Other people might get tied up and stashed in the bathroom. We shall see.

Family Time

I’m not saying that I’m feeling anxious about much of my family descending on Middle Tennessee for the wedding, but I dreamed that one of my cousins was running around the reception demanding we all weigh ourselves publicly so that we would all know our “health.”

I have been trying to reassure myself with a constant mantra of how awesome I am and then a listing of my accomplishments. But it doesn’t matter. I love my family, but they don’t give a shit. So, it’s not really a good defense. Am I still fat and ugly? Well, then, there you go. No one loves you, but us. And how could they, really?

The fucked up thing is that I’m not even sure how much that narrative comes from the outside and how much of it is internal, but triggered by the presence of my family. Like, I keep thinking of Jesse Walker’s The United States of Paranoia, which I know I talk about all the time, but it really has influenced my thinking on a lot of things.

Anyway, in the book, Walker talks about how conspiracy theories are self-reinforcing no matter what. “Evidence” such as it is proves the theory. The lack of “evidence” just proves that the conspiracy is wider than you realized and that they have allies to help hide shit. And it’s apparently nearly impossible to get someone to give up a conspiracy theory (if it’s going to happen, basically, it’s because belief in the conspiracy by the conspiracist becomes untenable for some reason that’s incredibly hard to predict and not usually sparked from the outside).

And the thing I’ve slowly come to realize is that, even if it is true, my conspiracy theory that I am fat, ugly, obnoxious, kind of suck at everything, and unlovable is just that–a conspiracy theory. I find evidence of it in the words and actions of my family. My belief in it is reinforced even when they’re nice to me, as if they’re being nice to me because my situation is so unfortunate. And like any good conspiracy theory, it has a great ability to withstand logic and evidence to the contrary. Others cannot talk me out of it or provide enough outside evidence to shake my belief.

And as much as I am starting to see intellectually what’s going on here, I’m still feeling hella anxious and worried about how the weekend is going to go. Whatever it’s going to take for me to find the belief in this conspiracy theory untenable in my bones hasn’t happened yet.

I don’t know. I don’t really have a point other than that understanding is not always cathartic. I understand my situation, but it hasn’t freed me from it.

If You’re Not Salty, What Are You Worth?

My parents always call me on Tuesdays, on their way home from dinner with my grandma. Last night, they wanted to talk about their friends who they’d seen recently and my dad was on a tear about how abusive–his word–they are to their daughters-in-law. “We all know [our ex-in-law], but I don’t blame her at all for [my brother] being a jackass. That’s his choice.” Which I thought was funny, but it also makes me sad. Why do my parents hang out with these people they think are terrible?

My cousin is still made that my other cousin came to her town and didn’t see her dad. The Butcher has done the same thing and that’s all right. But that’s probably not germane to my story. I think it’s been almost two years she’s been pissed about this. And I’m not saying I can’t hold a grudge. Y’all read me. You know how I am. But she’s not walking along all okay and then something brings it up and she’s pissed again. She’s actively still trying to litigate this and get people on her side and…like…whoa. It’s tedious and disturbing and sad. And she’s wrong, which also may be beside the point. But why is she still so actively engaged with being pissed? I suspect it’s not that my other cousin didn’t stop to see her dad. But that, unlike the Butcher, he didn’t stop to see her.

Third, I know a person who is well-respected in his profession and extremely well-respected in his hobby and who has incredible opportunities based on his hobby and, I mean, really cool shit. Radio interviews, displays at local museums, etc. And he’s still really hung up on whether or not these people he wants to respect him do. And based on some imagined slights he’s decided they do not and so everything he’s accomplished seems to not feel like a sufficient enough victory.

In all three cases, it seems to me that the people involved do not see their own worth. Don’t believe that they can have happiness and good friends or that their accomplishments count without the right validation.

And maybe this is myopic on my part, but I’m trying to learn to be happy. Which means finding a way to heal–and not just top off–the gaping hole in my soul that can’t be filled. So, I observe carefully the ways that hole tricks people into continuing to feed it.

Closer

We made some wedding decorations on Saturday. I got to see the dress and it is lovely.

Can I tell you something shitty, though? My parents are giving the Butcher a thousand dollars to help with the wedding. They gave a thousand dollars to my nephew to help with his wedding. The thousand dollars they gave me when my ceiling collapsed I had to pay back.

Our other brother now makes pretty much the same amount as me. I think my parents are still paying for his car insurance and I know they are paying for car repairs whenever he needs them. And I know he has the kids. But I’ve had the Butcher and crushing debt. Also, I don’t want their money, because I don’t want them in my business that much. Also, it’s their money. They can do with it what they want.

And yet, I’m still kind of pissed. It’s not that I want it or that I want my brothers not to have it. It’s just that we had really lean times where that kind of money could have helped me keep us afloat.

I guess what pisses me off is that I remember sitting in the back seat of the car on the way home from my dad’s parents listening to my dad complain about how, in his family, the person willing to cry “I’m sick” or “I’m needy” got the most attention, whether they were the sickest or neediest person.

And my parents have helped me with stuff. It’s not like the boys get everything and I get nothing.

I think what bugs me is the knowledge that seeing something and strongly disliking it is not enough to stop you from doing it.

And I also wonder why my dad tells me he does this stuff. I know my complaining about him all the time can make him sound like a constant jerk, so the answer might seem obvious–that he does it to hurt my feelings. But that’s not really how my dad works. He wants to see himself as a good person. The hurtful things he does are things he can justify as being for my own good.

So, no, more worrisome to me is that he’s trying to demonstrate the kinds of things he does for the family so that I will know, when he’s gone, that these are the kinds of things I should be doing.

In which case, he’s going to have a very unhappy afterlife.

It’s Happening!

So, the Butcher did get a ring from my grandmother, the provenance of which is unknown. The family story has always been that somewhere along the line my grandma lost her solitaire and her mother’s solitaire. But then she had a couple of solitaires for the Butcher to look at, which were supposedly the “replacements” for the solitaires she lost.

The Butcher got one of those rings. When he took it to the jeweler to get it resized, the jeweler was like “You know, this setting is easily over a hundred years old. It’s not going to resize well and it’s already lost a couple of diamond chips. The cost for you of me bringing this setting back into shape or you just resetting it into a new ring are not that different.”

So the Butcher went with a new ring in the right size. But I remain confused by the jeweler’s pronouncement that the setting was so old. I mean, I don’t doubt him. It looked really old. And the diamond’s cut also looked very old-fashioned to me, with more of a rounded top (it’s almost like looking in a very tiny marble. It does have some facets on top, but they’ve very, very subtle).

If this is the ring my grandma bought to replace my great-grandma’s ring, why is it so old? My grandma continues to surprise me, but of both of my grandmas, she strikes me as the least likely of the two to go into a pawn shop. And if my grandma lost both her ring and her mother’s ring at the same time (unless I’m misunderstanding the story), that had to happen during World War II, after my grandma got engaged–otherwise, she didn’t have a ring to lose.

So, in the very earliest case scenario, she got engaged (I think in 42, right before my grandpa enlisted), lost the ring and her mother’s ring, and went to a pawn shop and got two old ones? Why would she have had her mom’s engagement ring then?

But in the more likely scenario, she got her mom’s ring when her mom died after I was born. Thus putting the loss within my lifetime and I can damn well tell you that my grandma in my life was not going to pawn shops. So where did she get a ring that old?

My guess is that she didn’t lose her mom’s ring, or at least, not the ring that the Butcher ended up with, but over the years got confused and believed she’d lost this ring, when really, it just sat in a pile of junk in her house, safe and sound.

And now the Butcher has that diamond and is about to put it on his girl’s finger.

I’m really thrilled. I like her a lot and I like how happy he is with her. But, shhh, it’s a secret for now.