Thursday, July 24, 2014

Allergic To Poor People

One of the things that I've realized lately is that when I have a vocal cord movement episode or asthma, or both at the same time from chemicals or smoke contamination in others is that it seems to happen mostly when surrounded by the economically disadvantage. I was teasing Jim the other night and said I am now officially allergic to poor people.

I know, I know, that sounds snotty and elitist, but genuinely it is not. Think it through. Who uses cheaper colognes, body hygiene products and cleaning supplies? The poor. When the rate of smokers is declining in the US who still has very high rates of people who still smoke? The poor.

When I'm doing something in a crowd such as going to the opera or my recent visit to hear chamber music or to museums, gallery openings, conferences or other events and places where the clientele is not slandered in heavy chemical scents I never react. But.. put me in a Wal Mart on any day surrounded by Wal Mart's typical demographic or the post office on food stamp and welfare check delivery day and it's a sure bet I'm going to have an episode and end the day taking my meds and laying down.

Knowing that it was with great trepidation that I took my car to get worked on this afternoon.

Jim told me just before lunch time that his car is acting up and we'd likely have to take my car to our vacation to Michigan this coming week. The air conditioning in my car has conked out so I had to get it worked on and will be detailing it tomorrow. There is no way I'm going to be in air pollution central southern Indiana and then drive up to the Detroit area with no air conditioning in mid summer. Here, I can run my errands in the morning when there is zero heat and no absolute need of a/c.

The problem with having to drop off the car suddenly to get the ac recharged becomes one of how to get home again since they weren't promising to be done with my car till tomorrow noon. So I did the only thing I could do short of spring for a taxi, something in short supply in my tiny town, I took the town trolley from across the street from the shop to within 5 blocks of the house. The last time I rode the trolley home from the auto shop I had a pretty severe asthma attack from being in that trolley with scads of folks wearing only God knows what.

This time it wasn't bad. The only thing is what was a ten minute ride from my house to the shop turned into a ninety minute trolley ride across my teeny town. I think I probably could have walked and gotten home faster. A lot of that time was actually waiting at the trolley stop because the posted sign times at the trolley stop were either very outdated or the driver was super late.

Which is another way that the poor get hosed by society besides only having enough money to buy products made out of hazardous chemicals. They end up having to waste lots of time doing things like riding public transit. Most of the people riding are what I would call the working poor, wearing uniforms for various retail shops or fast food.

During the years we lived in Germany I used to take the bus frequently and it was on time and convenient. Here it's the opposite.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Closer You Look the More Horrifying it Actually is

About ten years ago I decided that I wanted to redo the upstairs bathroom in something I liked. I got some tiles off Ebay I loved, they were printed with paintings by my favorite artist Vincent Van Gogh. I did a Van Gogh tile surround over the sink, made a large quilted wall hanging of Starry Starry Night, found a few older looking fixtures to use and bought a Van Gogh print on a shower curtain.

The shower curtain print is The Cafe Terrace at Night and it's blown up huge, bigger than the actual painting.
This is it:

Looks innocuous doesn't it? People walking around at night with the light spilling into the street from the outdoor tables at the cafe. Nothing frightening at all, white draped waiter and patrons in the golden light while an azure nighttime world waits just beyond the bright lights.

You have to blow it up many many times to see the nightmare aspects of it. Such as the waiter has a nearly perfect featureless oval daub of paint for a face, no hint of eyes, nose or a mouth. Hiding in the background is also a huge crudely rendered monstrous rabbit or fox being too. Other figures skulking about with hideous features or lack of them.

I've seen them all too up close only because my toilet is pushed up against the tub area and while I'm peeing I get a view of the intimate small nightmare landscape. It truly looks like the work of a real madman from that perspective.

That's the way that the more dangerous Christian cults operate too. When you stand back and take in the entire picture of them at work in the community it all looks so pretty, so perfect, so wholesome. It's only when you get close that you notice that the smiles are forced, covering up something loathsome and controlling, or too monstrous to contemplate on first view.

Lately I've been looking through the blogs of many different prominent Christian Evangelical leaders. Some of what they say isn't so bad, till you start digging and looking at it more closely and you realize that it's terribly poisonous.

The best example I've seen lately is the Duggar girls book, "Growing Up Duggar'. It looks innocent at first, advice on courtship and relationships, but as you delve deeper you realized it could have been written by ATI/IBLP head Bill Gothard for what is espouses in the supposedly words of Jana, Jill, Jessa and Jinger Duggar. It's "ATI Lite" hidden throughout the book. If you follow what the Duggars advise in the book you're falling right into the legalistic Calvinistic thought that will drag you into a place of such fear and control. And condemnation. Guilt. All the big baddies of emotions.

It pays to take an up close look at anyone or thing that is promising you a better way through faith. Be very sure you see the hidden traps and nightmares right up front.

I've taken to never looking directly at the details of that shower curtain. The imagery is just too disturbing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What Healthy Marriage Doesn't Look Like

Last week I had the opportunity to spend time with a couple of my former friends who I'm still friendly with from the old church. None of us are as close as we were, but none of them were ones constantly trying to fling emotional garbage and condemnation at me either.

Between those encounters and a fight Jim and I had this weekend over a misunderstanding I started thinking about what I was seeing in my pals and myself that was not very healthy.

Ran into Marlene at the grocery store. Marlene could be Michelle Duggar's stunt double. Seriously, I think she and Michelle were separated at birth. Marlene looks like her, talks just like her and is also the Quiverfull mom of a large number of children.

Except now... Marlene has cut her hair, was wearing pants and has had no new babies for fourteen years and she's roughly Michelle Duggar's age. I don't know what happened exactly but apparently they aren't doing the kid collecting ATI-worshiping stuff any longer. Everyone but a few of the children have moved out. I had to ask Marlene what changed and she told me that her husband had drug her out of the unhealthy cult church environment they'd been in and it had forced her to face and deal with her own issues of control.

I'm glad. I'm very glad she came out in what seems like one piece. Pants aren't evil, folks! She did admit to the same thing I struggled with the first six months after all our kids left for college, cooking way to big of a meal.

My other extreme Quiverfull friend, Lauren, the one that used to introduce me to her other QF friends as her heathen friend with two kids as a joke, hasn't fared quite as well. I saw her, had coffee with her and it came out that her two eldest daughters, around the same age as Andy and Laura, were having troubles and both under psychiatric care because of emotional problems from being QF, being told to deny their feelings and just smile. Both seem in particular to believe that their mother didn't love them. Which sort of shocked me because their mother always seemed to exude love and acceptable of everyone back in the days we all went to church together. I guess you just never know. Her husband also left the old church and took her unwilling self with him. Her adjustment has been bumpier.

Then one of my other friends came with me to Johns Hopkins last week. I'd forgotten to get Jim the date I was going back to the ENT Vocal  Cord specialist and the team meeting of my doctors and therapists to decide which way to go with my ongoing confloption of lung problems. He'd said he was going to scope me again and I knew, if it was anything like last time, I might not be able to drive home. I might be a crying mess or zombified from the pain relief. I took my friend Jules with me as a back up driver.

Jules has only been out of the old cult church about three years now and I get treated to semi-cult thinking whenever I'm with her. One of the strangest things I noted this time was her stubborn insistence on not giving homeless folks that approach you any cash.

Baltimore is full of the homeless. Where I get off interstate 95 to get to the Bayview Campus of Johns Hopkins there is a homeless vet at each interstate exit. I've come to know the guy at my exit and always bring him not only cash but food and other things. I have nothing but compassion for him and sometimes give him things and gift cards rather than cash because I really don't want to fund anyone's possible chemical dependency.

So it's not unusual to be approached for cash in Baltimore by people who are struggling. At the gas station a man approached both of us begging for cash to put gas in his car. I gave him a few bucks, but after that Jules started explaining that she's heard, through some right wing conservative Christian newsletter that you should never open your purse and give these guys a dime because they'll snatch your wallet or worse! I was pretty amazed to hear her parrot this idea like it's the God's truth from the Bible, because this is the first time I've heard of that and I've been giving out cash to the homeless for years, no ones been anything but thankful, certainly no purse snatchings.

The longer I spent with Jules that day the more I got to see some pretty strange fear driven things going on. Her husband is away right now with his work and he gave her a stipend of spending cash to tide her over while he was gone. She doesn't work and she loves to shop, so it was no shock that she'd already run through that money and had put some things on their credit cards. She spent a lot of the day freaking out over how she was going to explain a $150 hair cut and coloring, and buying things he would have forbid had he been along.

Jules' husband is very thrifty. He would never consent to our eating at the Broadway Diner on Eastern Avenue a half dozen blocks from the hospital. Mr. Jules will only go places he has a coupon for or is an all you can eat buffet. She was scheming how to buy lunch and get a dessert to take home without both showing up obviously on the credit card.

She bought donut holes at the gas station, murmuring how much she was going to miss doing, buying and eating what she wanted once her husband came home because he would never allow her to spend 3 bucks on donut holes. This was a recurring theme for the day. Go nuts doing all this stuff that the husband would not allow.

I have to admit, I was more than just a little shocked by this. Jim is thrifty too, but he knew I was going to be going to the diner that day and didn't have a problem with me eating out near the hospital. He knows from having been with me up at the hospital that there aren't a lot of discount options easily accessible from the interstate. He knows that I sometimes buy things, eat things, do things he doesn't consider essential, but he respects my needs enough to know I need some freedom, latitude, independent agency.

It's not like I don't have to navigate my desires and needs with my husband's wishes and the constraints of our budget. Because I have to do it all the time! I had to do it that very morning when I went to the bank, tried to take out some cash from my personal household bank account and found out my balance was very low. I called Jim to tell him I was moving money around in the accounts so I could have cash for lunch, tolls and parking. I could not get through and made the command decision to do the transfers and tell him later. We argued because I forgot about it and didn't tell him till a few days later. But it wasn't much money and I was just trying to avoid activating our overdraft protection.

If there is one thing that I consider marriage-destroying about fundamentalist/evangelicalism it's this thing about lip service to the husband, yet running around secretly behind his back to do what you wanted to do in the first place. Why not be upfront and dump your guilt? I don't get it, even if I used to do it.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Air Out There & No Sleep

Last night I wasn't able to sleep more than a few hours. I lay awake, just like I did as a sickly asthmatic kid amped up by the multiple times huffing on my nebulizer. My asthma inhalant gives me the shakes and makes my heart pound so I avoid using it. But.. last week I accidentally consumed a peanut in a snack mix that was marked 'peanut-free'. Mr. Asthma has had me in his grips since and it ain't been pretty. Lots and lots of nebulizer use, no sleep for me.

It's been hot and steamy outside, which means my days start with the frantic running of the errands, followed by mid morn laundry and working on NLQ, lunch and an afternoon filled with asthma drugs and a lot of doing nothing. Usually by the time 3 pm hits I'm only fit for the sofa and working on the sweater I'm crocheting.

But it did make me wonder how I was going to sleep when we move in about a year from now. My bedroom in my South Louisiana childhood home faced the Mississippi River, less than a mile away. And following the river at a small distance were the railroad tracks. All night long freight trains would chug past in the distance, a sort of moonlight symphony that's always caused me to feel contented and happy, safe and at home. When I couldn't sleep I'd lie awake reading and listening to the sounds of the trains passing in the night.

Here too in Virginia we live about an equal distance from the major railroad tracks and the nights are filled with the same restless songs of the trains moving in the night. Most nights I sigh, turn over happily in the bed, lulled into a feeling of safety and happiness hearing that old familiar rhythm of the rails.

The last few weeks has also meant we've been making more concrete plans for Jim's retirement. He's been pushing for Costa Rica or Panama and I've been dragging my feet, throwing up objections and not feeling at ease with his desires. I don't want to leave the US, be so far away from my kids and my mother. He made the mistake of sending me a link to a real estate agency in Costa Rica and I looked at the prices, which were nothing like what he'd been talking about for ages! The prices were no bargain~!

I kind of went off on Jim, I put my foot down and said hell no I was NOT going to Costa Rica or Panama at all and I did not care if he liked it or not. I felt like a fool, because all of these long months I've been believing him about how we'd be able to live like rich tourists in Central America on very little money. That might have been true twenty years ago but not now. We've altered our plans, now we're likely to buy a place on the Gulf Coast for cash, there's lots of beach front distressed properties there. We'd be five short hours from my mother, 12 hours from his and a day from the kids. We're going down this fall to look at some of the properties.

Last Sunday Jim had a Realtor he knew stop by to tell us what we needed to do to rent out our house. I was pissed because I knew what we needed to do, upgrade the stove and dishwasher, paint the entire place, replace the bedroom carpets and the roof, plus some trimming of trees in the backyard. The guy picked up on all of this and tried to say that we would have to replace the kitchen floor too, not taking into account that I've been canning and it looks like the Del Monte canning factory exploded in the kitchen. The floor is merely a little less than clean and the Pergo in the kitchen is in the same great shape as in the rest of the house.

What really pissed me off about the visit, beside the fact that Jim gave me no notice so that's why the kitchen looked exploded, is the fact that this guy immediately started pressuring us to sell, sell, sell and we're just not ready to even think about that. House is about a year from the mortgage being paid out, it's in a good neighborhood so we'll get about 1,500 a month in rent. I kept rebuffing his attempts to twist my arm into selling, I'm just not having it because I don't know where we'll end up. What if we get down to Destin or Fort Walton Beach and miss Northern Virginia too much? I want to keep all our options open.

At some point I had enough, and I went into my office to answer emails and write a plan for the next weeks worth of postings at NLQ. As I sat in my office and the guys walked around the yard I clearly overheard the real estate agent start telling Jim yet again that we needed to sell and not to listen to me because I am a woman, irrational and emotional. It took all my cool not to go outside and explode on this guy. Told Jim later there is no way in hell this agent will get a rental or a listing agreement out of me because I don't deal with Chauvinistic pigs.

So every day before I go into 'The day is over because my asthma is kicking my ass' mode I clean and sort rooms in my home that haven't been decluttered in ages. Here's my office now that I'm done...

It's not a big room, but now I've removed everything but what I need and managed to organize it, instead of having boxes of stuff hanging around. I put a ton of things on Ebay. I need to start paring down to just what we need to move. I'm not there yet, but this is only the first round.

One of my worries is what to do with my piano. It's a family heirloom, an upright grand made of mahogany that takes up a large space in my living room. It's over 150 years old, nearly a 100 of those years it's been part of my family.

My kids don't want it, I can't leave it for a renter and not sure I'd get much if I sold it. I can barely stand the idea of parting with the piano even to store it but it's way too large to go with us. That piano symbolizes a lot of different things for me. One day soon I'll share the story of how I finally ended up with it after a nasty tussle between my parents over the instrument and how both of my parents told contradictory stories about what happened, making me lose what little trust I had in either. Getting my piano back was emotionally healing for me. The thought of giving it up again hurts.

So it's been hard to sleep, worrying about the future, not able to get a decent breath and shaking lika chihuahua on crack, even with the sounds of the trains running through town. I think tonight I'm going to try and get in the sack in a few hours with the help of a few chemical agents that should bring on sleep. When I start missing sleep I get really really weird. And I'm weird enough already.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

It's 9 am on a Sunday Morning, Do You Know the People You Sent Your Children To?

In the last few months I've noticed a proliferation of church buses cruising through my neighborhood here in my small town in the Virginia Piedmont every Sunday morn. Some of the drivers wave as I'm getting in my car dressed for service at my own place of worship. I smile and wave back and wonder what the policy is of that particular church to protect the children in their temporary care. 

Witnessing many families putting their children on those buses without a backward glance, seemingly content to place their children in the hands of virtual strangers gives me the willies. Particularly in light of the fact that many smaller churches without main stream denomination affiliation have had bus ministry workers accused of  child sexual abuse of their small charges nationwide. During the course of the trials and investigation it usually comes out that the particular church has no screening process for the bus ministry workers, no background checks, no criminal checks and no training in place for teaching the workers how best to inter with the children in a safe fashion.

This is not me putting down bus ministry or independent churches. I think anything that seeks to help improve the lives of children is a good thing. It would be a better thing if the parents accompanied their kids to the church, but some parents chose not to go. First, how do you even know what that church is teaching your child if you aren't a member or familiar with their statement of faith.

If you plan on sending your child off on a bus ministry, ask questions. Lots of questions.

What kinds of questions, I hear you say. Here's some you might ask when the members of any church arrive on your doorstep asking to take your children to church, Sunday School or Vacation Bible school.

  • What national organizations is your church affiliated with?
  • What is your church's statement of faith?
  • What types of materials or teachings will be used to teach my child?
But most important, ask about the bus ministry personnel and the church's role in training them.
  • Does your church run a criminal background with the state on each person working the bus ministry and on the children's teachers and everyone else working with the children?
  • What qualifications do the bus ministry workers and anyone working with the children possess?
  • Are the bus ministry people and the teachers certified or go through any training on how to work with children, maintain good boundaries and avoid any circumstances that might lead to child abuse?
  • How much experience does the ministry staff have with children's education?
  • What is your church's policy towards sex offenders working in the ministry?
A little Googling of the church and the people involved in ministry there should show up with an online presence. Peruse their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts to see if they are someone you'd like to have around your children.

Why do I advocate going this far? Well, one of those prettily painted buses staffed by a smiling and waving staff that passes my house is for a church that was an offshoot of another church. The church split when former members of the school and church accused the pastor of sexually abusing them repeatedly during their childhood. The new church with the bus is the one that insisting on believing that the pastor was innocent in the face of overwhelming testimony indicating that the pastor was culpable in child sexual abuse. They also do not believe in screening people who work with children or doing any sort of training on child abuse. There is no protection or accountability towards safety for the children.

Before you allow your child to take part in any bus ministry or event make sure you do your research. Better safe than sorry. No one wants a child victim with a lifetime of pain, shame and self hatred to overcome. Do it for your kids.

I leave you with wise words by my friend Bruce Gerencser about why transparency and accountability in children's ministries and any ministry is important.

I know of one pastor who refuses to do background checks. His rationale for refusing to do them? After a person is saved, their past sins are “under the blood.”  The person, no matter what they have done in the past, is completely forgiven by God. (after all, God forgave Paul, the murderer and David, the adulterer/murderer, right?) This kind of na├»ve thinking is why churches are havens for predators. It is not hard to stand before a church and give a wonderful testimony of God’s saving grace, yet be a predator. It is quite easy to learn the lingo. My family and I could dress up this Sunday, go to church, and every one of us would likely be considered wonderful Christians. We know the talk, the walk, the songs. We know how to do Evangelical. Yet, in REAL life we are atheists, agnostics, Catholics, and Buddhists and most of us are, shudder to think of it, Democrats.  Anyone who has spent any time at all  in church can easily FAKE it.
But, Bruce, the Holy Spirit will let the church know they aren’t real Christians. Do you really want to trust the welfare of the church children and teenagers to the Holy Spirit?  Are you really saying that a Christian couldNOT be a pedophile, abuser, or predator? (and if you are a Baptist, please explain this to me in light of your“once saved, always saved” belief)

Monday, July 07, 2014

Forgiveness and Violins

The Independence Day Parade in my tiny town

Bright and early on July 5th my mother called me to say that she was sorry for all the things she'd said the day before. I told her no sweat, I could tell she was having a bad day, but please, never speak to me again like that.

I'm working on establishing boundaries. Which is something I've struggled with my entire life due to the dysfunction of my family of origin and the cult life I led for some years.

I had to ask her why the sudden turn around. Turns out that while driving out to eat at Satterfields on False River in New Roads she'd gotten into a car accident. Someone hit her car as she was trying to make a turn on a back road after getting lost. Car totaled, but she is unhurt, merely shaken up. I am still not sure how the cops could have missed the fact that she'd been having a few drinks beforehand, but, she's been drinking and driving so many years that I suspect she put on her Grand Southern Lady behavior and had the law enforcement sayind, "Yes ma'am, no ma'am, thank you ma'am"

After it was all over and her car was towed away she decided that it would have been a bad thing if she had died and our final words to each other were those.

It was a good conversation and I told her about my big struggle recently forgiving my evil aunt Beverly, the one that had tried to prevent me from inheriting anything from my father and grandfather's estates in a series of dirty tricks and law suits. She has done things such as sell my grandfather's house, which I was a part owner of, without my permission or signature. I found out only when they called me to sign the papers for closing! She's sued, she's lied, she's gotten other relatives to call me up and harass me to go along with her schemes.

But the worst thing she did was show up at my father's house the day he had his fatal stroke, accuse him of stealing from their father (he did no such thing, he merely took the briefcase of 50K my grandfather carried around and invested it in my grandfather's name in an annuity) and physically attacked my dad. My father threatened to call the police and press charges if she didn't leave. Twenty minutes later he suffered a stroke. I've always blamed her for his death.

The day of my father's funeral she had a lawyer going before the local courts demanding to be appointed guardian of my grandfather's estate while the rest of us were at the visitation.

I'm not the only one that's had troubles with her and her attempts to rip off folks. Neither of her children speak to her or have much to do with her along with many others in the family. My father used to call her his crazy sister and was constantly bailing her out of situations, like the accident she had on the interstate where she rammed someone from behind and then threw her car into reverse and backed into someone else. That sort of thing was a common occurrence sadly enough. I have to wonder who bailed her out after my father passed on.

I've been fighting with the state of Louisiana over an insurance policy they are holding the payout of that I believe I am entirely entitled to. From researching it what seems to have happened was when my grandfather passed on the life insurance company paid out Beverly and Beverly told them she had 'no idea' where I was. Which is a huge lie.

Complicating all of this is that Beverly is friendly with my mother in law. My mother in law has attempted through the years to force me to reconcile with Beverly and I've had to tell my mother in law that if she ever surprised me with Beverly I would walk out and have nothing further to do with my mother in law. I had to set a boundary there. Poor Agnes had only seen the facade that Beverly put on to others.

A few weeks ago I got a message from my cousin Diane, Beverly's daughter, wanting to know what rehab and nursing homes we'd used for my in laws when they both had spells of ill health, or in my father in law's case, dementia.  I had to ask why and found out that Beverly had called Diane in the middle of the night complaining that she could not breath. Ambulance to the local hospital and the staff diagnosed Beverly with that free floating anxiety some seniors get, dementia and significant mental illness. I understand that Beverly was furious, demanding to be allowed to go home and keep living on her own. That isn't an option, plus they are trying to titrate the correct dosage of meds for her mental state and anxiety. They have her housed currently in the locked psych ward at the hospital.

Diane's having to make the hard choice of where to put her mother and the choices aren't good. The nicer places don't take new dementia patients, you have to arrive at the facility in charge of all your faculties, but if you develop dementia they'll move you to the dementia building.

Right after I got off the phone with Diane last week I found myself weeping and humbled as I realized I'd been hating on a mentally ill frail little old lady all these years. We all knew she was mentally ill, but she resisted ever going into counseling or taking meds, insisting we were all the crazy ones. What have I be doing all these years hating on her?

What could I do? I forgave her. I'm not saying I don't still struggle with hostile feelings towards her, because I still do. But... I'm choosing to forgive her. She's spread enough poison that I never want to be in a relationship with her, but I'm not going to allow her to poison me with unforgiveness. The next time I visit home I guess I probably need to visit her wherever she ends up and tell her I forgive her.

I don't want to forgive her.

And yesterday I had another opportunity to forgive. My pal Joannie really made me ashamed of myself that I would behave in such a petty manner.

Yesterday morn Jim and I skipped church, going over to the Castleton Festival to spend several hours listening to chamber music in the beautiful Castleton Theater. Jim enjoyed the music but he kept getting on my thin nerves by making remarks about who might be gay among the performers and accusing me of being 'bourgeoisie'. Which is silly considering I've always loved classical music.

By the time the performance was over I was a little steamed with him, and ready to get away. Still having a few moments of tension, anxiety and hostility post-SSRI.

I got a call from Joannie on the way home and Joannie and I decided to get lunch together before hitting the sales racks at the only decent department store in town. So I left him to get his own lunch and went off with her.

When we stopped to get lunch also eating at that restaurant is the same family that gave both of us immense grief during our different times leaving the old church. I'd always gotten along with the husband Jerry, but the wife, Wanda, had always been a gossiping, trouble making biddy. Once she tried to get everyone on worship team to demand that our pastor remove our new worship team leader because she didn't think he had been doing a good job. I told her that she was out of order, if she had a problem with the worship team leader she needed to approach him or him and the pastor but not gossip about it and try to get everyone to back her up. Poor man had been team leader only a month at that point and was still struggling to adjust. I pointed out to Wanda that we should all be helping out the poor man. I'd been pulling his music for him and making sure the admin tasks were done just to help out.

The last year Joannie was at my old church Wanda had said many hateful things to Joannie and about Joannie, including telling Joannie off for being 'demonic' because Joannie loved the Toronto Revival. Wanda is one of the main troublemakers at the old church.

So here we are, both of us viewing someone that went way way way out of their way to make both of us miserable, run us down, gossip about each of us, before us. I toss my hair, turn up my nose and turn back to the buffet. But not Joannie, she went over to them and engaged the entire family in some polite and loving conversation, joyously at that. Eventually I made my way over, shamed by her loving example, and talked to them.

Jerry seemed genuinely happy to see us, but Wanda sat there like a huge angry bump on the log and said not word one. When Jerry asked how our kids were doing and I said Laura was working full time at George Mason and working on her MBA at the same time Wanda rolled her eyes. She rolled her eyes at every positive thing that came out of either of our mouths, which means to me she's going to be gossiping about every word we said. I'm sure Jerry got it on the way home for talking to us 'apostates'.

While I usually ignore and avoid the folks at the old church I have to say I was impressed by Joannie's ability to treat them like nothing had happened and like she loved them dearly. Jerry seemed so relieved and happy to see us both.

It led to another uncomfortable conversation about forgiveness and boundaries and protection over our lunch. I may have to rethink my treatment of those more hateful "Good Christians"  that cross my path.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Fourth of July Fireworks!

A lot has happened and there's a lot to tell as to why I haven't updated. But this is not that.

This morning, bright and early, I had my usual holiday interaction with my mother. We had a phone conversation that went bat shit sideways crazy in just a few words.

It never fails. Almost all holidays in my adult years are punctuated with the drunken crazy that is my mother. It's like she saves up her perceived slights like pennies and spends them on a big explosion for the holidays. Like some folks buy fireworks to shoot off, she hoards hurts.

Today's was particularly dumb. And I should know better than to call her up on a holiday, because I know there's always the potential for this to happen. However in the last year or so she's stopped the crazy emotional alcohol fueled reactions and we've gotten along.

What was a catalyst? Two different things.

1 - She had sent Laura a graduation present two weeks ago and had not received a thank you card yet.

Okay, so Laura knows her grandmother is nuts and should have made more of an effort to send out the card. But... two weeks? In Laura's defense she is working full time for the university and just started classes this summer towards her MBA. She's got a full plate right now. I'm sure thank you notes aren't high on the priority list.

The other part of this whole thank you note thing is that she complained that the one Andy sent her for his graduation gift last year was merely a thank you card with his signature and no personalized message. What did she want him to say? He's a guy. At least he acknowledged her check.

Plus, they are both grown and I am no longer responsible for their actions.

It stung because she accused me of being a bad mother as the reason neither kid fulfilled her thank you note wishes exactly as she willed it. I had to keep myself from laughing because she was the one, not me, that spend her child's childhood drunk, ignored all the signs her child was being sexually abused for several years, didn't keep food in the house and left her daughter alone for days while she was out with her boyfriend.

That was not me, I stayed home, cooked, cleaned, oversaw homework, toted this one to Little League and that one to cheerleading practice and stayed married to their dad. So somehow she thinks I did the worse job? Ha!

So I did everything I thought was right without putting an emphasis on writing thank you notes or other southern manner niceties. I'd rather have a self confident well rounded adult that rarely bows and scrapes and tells sweet lies in the name of etiquette than someone that plays the social game well yet lies, cheats, back stabs, is chemically dependent, and one really fake fucked up individual. Besides, I never remember her trying to teach me to sent out thank you notes. In fact, I never encountered that idea until I married Jim and his mother insisted I sit down and send out thank you notes for the room full of wedding gifts we received.

2 - She wanted to discuss this week's Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision. I told her I could not talk politics with her because she is a Tea Party member and I'm a Liberal and there was nothing to discuss because it would only devolve into fighting.

She hung up on me!

Some mother. I'm so glad I've not carried on any family traditions from that side!