Sunday, July 24, 2005

The cam, the fam, deviled eggs and ham

Dude. The camera is amazing. I have barely touched the tip of the iceberg as far as learning all it can do, though, so I'm not going to post any pictures yet because I haven't taken any stellar ones. Soon as I do, y'all will be the first to know.

My family is insane. I mean they are all just genuinely nuts. Some of them are nuts in a way society finds tolerable, some are not.

For instance.

  • My jailbird uncle, who is staying with my grandmother while he waits for his court date to clear up the whole -wife says he threatened to kill her but she lied and the judge told her she's the one going to jail but my uncle loves her still and doesn't want her to go in the slammer even though they'd immediately put her in a treatment program because it would become very evident she's addicted to a large number of illegal drugs- situation. You'd think someone in my uncle's situation would be glad to have a place to stay for free while the problem gets sorted out. He was very nice to my grandmother at first. But now they are like two cats in a bag. My grandmother is old and infirm and has eaten herself into type 2 diabetes. She weighs a lot. She is also crippled by arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, and years of bitterness since my grandpa left her thirty years ago with a house full of five kids so he could go bang the neighbor's wife. My grandmother is not perfect, but she is turning into a martyr in the face of my uncle's ingratitude. I went to her house yesterday to clean it for her, which I do every week since she is not able to clean it herself, and my uncle was asleep in the TV room and my grandmother was tight-lipped and angry, because my uncle (whose income comes from playing in a redneck bar band twice a week and from selling drugs) was still sleeping at 10 on a Saturday and she went to tell him I was coming over to clean and he chewed her a new one. I made sure to stomp around a lot and vacuum loudly outside the door where he was "sleeping."
  • My aunt Sally (names are changed to protect the not-so-innocent). I could write volumes about her.
Let me backtrack. My uncle/gradmother situation is on my mom's side. Basic situation on Mom's side: She is the oldest of five; the rest are boys. She is the only sane one. Her dad (my grandpa) left right when my ma was marrying my dad, so through my parents' entire honeymoon, my grandmother was calling my mother multiple times a day crying about the situation, and that set the precedent for their relationship ever since. My mother is truly a mother to her own mother. Of her four brothers, my uncles, one is the aforementioned nutcase, one is dead of a drug overdose, and the other two are hardcore deer-huntin republicans who agree 110% with everything Bill O'Reilly has to say. Also, through a quirk of marriage, I have a cousin on my mom's side who can call his mother his aunt. See what happens when you marry your son's wife's mother?

The rest of these crazy folk are on my dad's side. My dad is one of nine. (Yes, I have a shitload of cousins.) There were five girls and four boys. Two of the girls are dead; they both died of breast cancer in their early forties. One of the girls lives in Florida and is a mighty, almighty Bible thumper in the most stereotypical sense of the word. She derives great joy and solace from her religion, which I respect, but is one of those who feels they have to "spread the good word," which I do not respect. She would have a shitfit if I tried explaining the tenants of my religion to her in order to try to convert her to it, and doesn't understand that her doing the same to me is likely to send me into a silent rage (never aloud--there's enough family strife already that I can eat this sort of thing). Another of the girls lives in Reading with her cop husband and three of their four boys (one's in Okinawa--long story there but that's for a later post, and anyway, he's not the son of the cop anyway, he's from my aunt's first marriage in which the asshole she married was banging three other chicks and beating my aunt while she was pregnant with their son, so it's no wonder he's fucked up). She's actually probably the most normal of my dad's living sisters, and she is not necessarily someone I would call normal. The third living sister lives outside Tulsa OK with her husband and their three kids. This aunt is the most messed up of them all. This is aunt Sally.
  • Aunt Sally married a man who had a dream of one day becoming a professional hockey player. It didn't work out and now he works for Sherwan Williams selling paint, and so he forced his son to play hockey all through school in an attempt to live vicariously through him. He sent the son to Canada to live for a few years to learn hockey better. The kid came back all fucked up and couldn't readjust to life with his fam, and he started stealing a bunch of shit and doing a bunch of drugs and getting in all sorts of trouble. The dad, btw, is a real piece of work. He is the stereotypical "get in the kitchen and bake me a pie, bitch, and when you bring me my fucking beer, make sure it's open first" sports-watching screaming at his kids sort of guy. When Aunt Sally was in high school, she was so anorexic that she was 5'3 and weighed 79 pounds and spent a bunch of time in the hospital. She obviously had a few self-image problems, so it's no wonder she married this yerk. Aunt Sally has made it a hobby of attributing various mental illnesses to her children. She diagnosed one of her daughters as having Tourette's, which was complete bunk, and now claims that the behavior of the oldest is because he's a paranoid schizophrenic. She pulled me aside last night at my cousin's wedding to tell me all about it and to explain that "John hasn't taken his big-time anti-anxiety meds tonight because he wants to have a good time, so make sure you socialize with him a little bit and make him feel like he fits in because he thinks he sticks out like a sore thumb. He's seeing a--" glances left, glances right, whispers-- "psychiatrist and everything. He's going through a real rough time right now." Okay. John disappeared about an hour into the reception and I didn't see him the rest of the night. After spending twelve hours in the car with his mother driving from Tulsa to Cincinnati, I'd be suicidal too. One other thing about my aunt--she raises English sheepdogs. Which is all fine and good, but she breeds those dogs into exhaustion, and she docks the puppies' tails. If there are two practices I absolutely abhor when it comes to dogs, they'd be tail and ear cropping. Why in God's name should we do something like that, that causes incredible amounts of pain and stress for the animal, because we think it cosmetically looks better? It's SO AWFUL that I have a hard time looking at her anymore. Christian my ass. Makes me wish the dogs were in control. A dog's tail is a piece of it's spine. You take that off and it hurts the dog, and it causes it to have balance and coordination problems that many dogs never recover from. Asinine.
I think two family members are enough to diss publicly for one day. As a Buddhist, I try to be sympathetic to all living creatures. I try to see that they are spirits having human experiences rather than the other way around. I try to see why they make the choices they do, and to understand and not judge. This is rendered more difficult by the fact that they keep hurting each other in strange and terrible ways, and it's very, very hard not to take sides sometimes. I want to love my aunts who feel the need to push their religion on everyone, but it's hard. I think I'm going to make it my goal this next week to really think about my family and to try to understand them better and, if I can, love them more. It's not that I don't love them now. It's just that we're so different and have such different religious and political beliefs that it's hard to put my hangups aside and see them for what they are, people living their lives the only way they know how. I know many of them don't understand me and my lifestyle either, so it all comes round in the end, I suppose.

My cousin got married last night and I had to see a lot of these people is why I've got my britches in a uproar about them. The wedding was fun. The ceremony was at a Catholic church and I mumbled the words to the Our Father under my breath, making my lips move enough to seem like I cared. The reception was at a VFW hall that stank of smoke and stale beer. Dinner was deviled eggs and cold cuts. I dared M to wing a piece of ham at my uncle for $5. We ate Bernie Bott's EveryFlavor Beans. It was something like 92 degrees or so yesterday, and the VFW didn't think to turn on the air conditioning until everyone had arrived, and by then it was too late. So there were about 200 people crammed in a room with no air conditioning. It was very nearly too hot to move. Attire was interesting. M and I dressed nicely but not too nicely, but I saw one dude there in full Harley regalia, complete with baseball hat. There were a lot of overweight white middle-aged women who were very, very excited to do the Electric Slide. (I fucking hate the Electric Slide, and if circumstances in my life ever get screwed up enough that I ever find myself doing it, I will shoot myself instantly.)

My brother has been learning to breakdance. He can do the worm, he can grab one leg and hop over it with his other leg, he can walk around on his hands, he can do all sorts of cool shit. He can do that thing where he puts his hands on the floor and like spins in a circle by whipping his hands up and passing his legs under them. That probably makes no sense and there's probably a name for this maneuver, but I don't know what it is. Here is a picture of him doing it. I know I said I wouldn't post any pictures yet but I want to brag on my brother's smooveness. Check him out. Look at that amazing musculature. If only I were as dedicated to my gym-work as he is; however, I can out-skate him (and he's a skater too, so it's sayin' something).

All right. My camera is sitting here in front of me and I can't believe I've spent this much time NOT USING IT. It's time to go be dedicated to it. My parents are going to go pick up these two beagles today. They're hunting dogs and have won a bunch of championships and my dad's old beagle died a while back and he's been itching to get new ones. The place they're going is about an hour and a half away, and I'm thinking about going with them, because then I could play with my camera in the car and see some dogs. I don't dig the whole hunting rabbits with dogs thing, but there's absolutely less than zero I can do to change it or to change my dad's mind, so it could be interesting to go. I haven't decided yet.

Okay. Party on. Live your life. Go outside and play.


At July 24, 2005 10:03 AM, Anonymous E said...

Your family sounds like characters in a John Irving novel...thank goodness you have your writing (and photography) as an outlet to help keep you sane. You are a good and patient person. I would not do as well under the same circumstances.

Oh, and your arms. Hmmm....

At July 24, 2005 10:07 AM, Blogger BG said...

Dang! You said enough when you said you have two of your relatives are "hardcore deer-huntin republicans"

At July 24, 2005 11:55 AM, Anonymous Heather said...

Gotta hand it to you for your attitude toward your family. More screwed up than mine, and I don't deal with them anywhere near that well.

Have fun with that camera today, and get some pictures posted! :)

I'm not in a sling... they wanted me to move my shoulder so it didn't freeze up, but not use it. Umm, yeah, sure. I've learned that it's not possible to not use your arm if it's not immobilized. Oh well.

At July 24, 2005 1:28 PM, Anonymous Suley said...


I have some family like that. My uncle has been busted for dealing crack and stealing cars. A couple years ago he started his own taxi service. On the surface a good thing, but the family soon found out he was acting like a courier for whores. A couple months ago, he had an accident in his taxi and lost a leg. No more work. Now he's living off the dole with a woman who deals drugs and leaves her son with him to take care of. He's got emphyzema, and a whole in nis throat, too. The family is planning an intervention to save him from his circumstances.

The move your brother is doing is called the "three step." It could be the two step, but it looks to me like the three step. It's just a transitional move that breakdancers do between big moves. Back in high school I tried to learn how to B-boy, but I didn't have the requisite upper body strength. Very physically taxing.



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