Swirls
October 13, 2008, 8:21 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

I am frustrated.

I am not comfortable with using this site as a way to vent about family. I have found it too many different ways using my full name, which means any family member can stumble upon it, without even using StumbleUpon.

I have read too many other, more experienced bloggers too long. I have read their allusions to why there are entire swaths of their blogs missing, in an attempt to patch and darn the rents their words tore into their families. I don’t want to have to make the same apologies to my family. I don’t want to hurt anyone with my frustrations.

I don’t want to hurt them in such a public and painful forum. They might hurt me with their words, their pregnant pauses and their judgments, but I don’t want to add names to those accusations.

This is the internet equivalent of me screaming in a pillow in frustration. My hands are tied: I cannot type what I want to spill out onto the webpage. I want to vomit it all up, but that’s a stain Resolve can’t lift.

I am so frustrated.

I just wish they could know that the world does not revolve around them. The actions other people take in their own lives? They are not an elaborate attempt to hurt or upset anyone else; they are not personal attacks.

I really think we all spend so much time obsessing over ourselves, but not in the way that sounds. We carefully dab coverup on that blemish, convinced that everyone we pass is thinking, “ew! What a disgusting pimple!” We pick out our clothes in an attempt to prevent our classmates from passing judgment on our wealth, our status and our taste. We buy the fancy car and the big house, and a lot of debt, all for the momentary thrill of seeing other people’s faces and imagining what they are thinking about us.

I’ll tell you what I’m thinking: “You must be up to your eyeballs in debt!”

We want the perfect body, the perfect life, the perfect everything, just so we can imagine what other people are saying about us. We worry when we don’t have the perfect body, the perfect life, the perfect everything, that they are thinking derogatory things about us.

The funny thing is: if we are all so occupied about these things, who has time to actually think anything about anyone else?

The only world that revolves around us is the world in each of our respective heads. And it’s entirely imaginary.

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Just kidding
July 1, 2008, 8:30 am
Filed under: daily | Tags:

Remember how yesterday, I was all melodramatic and sad and stuff because I thought my Grandma was going to die?

Well, she still is.

Except not in the foreseeable future.

First of all, my parents are really terrible with the whole “communication” thing. I got a phone call from my mom on Friday, saying that Grandma was at the ER, and they were taking her back to the retirement home and bringing hospice in, and it wasn’t looking good. And then my dad sent out an email saying that Grandma was praying for death and refusing treatment.

Except that the email wasn’t true, apparently? They gave her a major antibiotic for her infection, and she was better by the next day and improving every day since.

Nobody mentioned this to me until last night. Thanks for the update, dudes. Way to be all over the communication thing.

So, all of my readers (Hi Roommate!) can stop being worried about Grandma. She’s the ever-ready bunny, and probably won’t die.

At least not this week, she won’t.

When she does, I doubt my parents will mention it to me until a week later. It’ll be all, “Oh, hai! What’s shakin’? Mmmhmm, mmhmm. Grandma’s funeral was nice. What? You didn’t know she died? Whoops, mah bad. We were wondering why you didn’t show up. Figured you had a library test or something. Don’t worry, we’ll remember to tell you when Nana dies, kay?”



My Parents Are Hippies!
May 1, 2008, 9:45 pm
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I am at home this week.

Home usually involves a lot of delicious, home-cooked meals, because my parents spoil me rotten in the form of food. College dorm food did not sit well with me, oddly enough. Mostly because I was totally spoiled with fine culinary dining growing up.

Home also involves some riding in the Mini. I have been driving her around a lot, actually. Boy, can that little car go! 

Home definitely involves a lot of sleeping. I have slept in Olympic amounts. And when I wake up, home-made waffles are waiting for me. Take note, young grasshoppers: going far away from home for college means that your parents REALLY appreciate you when you are home for small bits of time. They show this appreciation in wonderful ways, like fresh waffles. Yum. 

So, anyways, since being home, I’ve come to the definite realization that my parents are a bunch of granola-crunchy hippies.

Case in point(s):

1. They have joined a co-op. This co-op involves them paying some amount of money to said co-op farm (local). Once a week, said co-op farm delivers $20 worth of locally grown, certified organic veggies to a yoga studio up the street for them to pick up. This goes on for 15 weeks throughout this summer. 

2. My mother drives a mini-cooper, to try to cut down on gas mileage, limit the amount of money she’s handing to oil companies, and to protect the environment.

3. They will not eat anything that is not whole grain. It must be whole grain. This includes pasta.

4. They buy most of their produce/meat/cheese/etc at the local farmer’s market (we have an excellent one. If you’re from the area, you totally know what I’m talking about), because they are firm believers in buying locally, especially food stuffs. Most of the fresh food they eat comes from no more than 2 counties away. Talk about decreasing your carbon footprint.

5. They  sit in the dark, in a cold house, with only the dog for entertainment, using as little water/electricity/heat as possible. Ok, that’s a lie. But they have been stringent on water/electricity/heat usage for as long as I can remember. The horrors that befall the child who leaves a light on in a room from which he has left! THE HORRORS.

6. Last summer, instead of going to Wal-Mart and buying new plastic, outdoor chairs to replace the tattered, dirty ones she already had, she went to Wal-Mart and bought special spray paint designed specifically for repainting plastic. And then she repainted the plastic. Because the idea of getting rid of something perfectly good was abhorrent. 

7. They have those reusable cloth grocery bags. And the plastic bags they get occasionally? They recycle those in the form of pooperscoopers for the dog, and actually recycle the rest.

8. For that matter, they recycle everything they can possibly recycle, religiously.

9. They wash their clothes on cold, and use the dryer as little as possible. In the summer, they dry everything, including their skivvies, on a line in the back yard. 

10. My mom went to a composting seminar last year, and won a free composter. She now composts in the back yard.

Funny enough? They do this out of cheapness, and they have been doing these kinds of things for as long as I can remember. As long as I can remember is way longer than the current yuppie fad of “green initiatives”. 

In fact, they are among the most conservative people I know (conservative in the traditional sense of the word. If you don’t know the difference between true conservativism and neo-con, you don’t read enough, and you should probably go find out. Go on. Google “William F. Buckley”. You can do it!). 

 

The root of conservativism is conservation. Anybody who tells you any different is lying to you, is pushing an agenda, or is mis-informed (probably by someone who is lying and pushing an agenda). 

(Conservatives are also cheap. Conveniently, “green initiatives” have a funny by-product called “saving money”. If going green ends up costing you more money, you are not doing it right at all.)



Conversation with my father
April 23, 2008, 8:44 am
Filed under: daily | Tags: ,

Dad: Hello! I answered the phone!

Katrina: Uh.. good?…. I just had my very last actual obligation of my undergraduate career!

Dad: Good for you!

Katrina: Yup. So now I’m done, other than the move of hell.

Dad: Alright! You know, I’m really proud of you. You’ve done really well out there.

Katrina: Thanks.

Dad: And you know, I don’t compliment either of my children much at all.

Katrina: I know. You’re much more inclined to tell me I look like hell when I wake up, or that I look like I’m losing weight, or that I’m exceptionally pale today.

Dad: Well, you DO look like hell in the morning. And you do look like you’re losing weight. And you are exceptionally pale.

Katrina: Dad, if I lost weight every time I saw you, I wouldn’t exist anymore. And if I was getting paler, I would be translucent by now. I think you just think I’m a chubby Italian when I’m not around.

(Really, my dad announces that he answered the phone whenever he picks up my mom’s cell. I’m not sure why that’s necessary, but he’s also the one who accidentally sent me a ladder last summer, so what else do you expect?)



Confessional
April 2, 2008, 9:46 am
Filed under: daily | Tags: ,

I’m not really sure how to start this. Nor am I really sure how to say what I need to say. This is difficult.

My great-aunt attempted suicide a few weeks ago. Attempted, meaning her son found her before she succeeded.

There, I said it. I could go on a social tirade about how we need better mental health care in this country to prevent things like this. I could talk about how crazy that particular wing of the family is, because they are. I could not write about it at all, but I feel like I need to. For my own mental health.

I am just overwhelmingly saddened by the whole thing. Not at the prospect of losing my aunt, because she’s 87 and not exactly going in the springtime of her youth. An 87 year old suicide is not the great tragedy that a 15 year old suicide is. What I am saddened by is that this is what her life has come to. She chose it because she is terrified of out-living her son. She has already out-lived her husband and older son, and her younger son is all she has left. He is probably dying of something, but we don’t know details. Her only granddaughter lives in Florida and is on polite terms with her Northern family, at best. Out-living her son is a reasonable fear: without him, she is alone in the world. I understand this. I even respect her fear and her subsequent decision.

She has had a full life. She inherited much of the wealth that my grandfather did not. Her husband provided very well for her. They spent much of their married life traveling the world together, collecting friends, memories, and mementos. She surrounds herself with her memories in her house. She is very proud of hanging the same Christmas wreath above her mantel for over 50 years. We made fun of her for that, behind our hands, mocking her for being tacky. And yet, it’s evident that by doing that, she is reminding herself of everything she once had. All of that is gone now, and she spends her days worrying about her son dying before her. That is exceptionally sad. I am sad for her, that her own death is less terrifying to her.

I also feel guilty. There was family drama before and around Christmas about her demanding that my side of the family attend her Christmas Eve party, which is usually awkward and boring at best, with terrible food. She was exceptionally rude about it this year, causing cackles to rise among us about her expecting us to pay homage, while refusing to ever come to the other side of town to visit us. My grandparents didn’t go, but my mom, myself and my two uncles went over for a little earlier in the day to visit her. In hindsight, I’m glad we did, and guilty about the fuss we kicked up about it. She had planned this in advance. She knew it was going to be her last Christmas, and wanted to see all of us. And we dug in our heels and threw a temper tantrum. I am deeply embarrassed.

In hindsight, I realize that the seemingly selfish, self-gratifying behavior she’s displayed recently is mostly her pride. She has continuously been telling my grandmother and my aunt how her boys were the favorite grandchildren, and they could do no wrong in the eyes of her father, wasn’t that just wonderful? She said this to the people who were disfavored. Uncouth at best, cruel at worst.  She attempted to subvert the fate of her husband’s family, early-onset heart disease, by choosing to adopt children. Her husband died in his 80’s of Parkinson’s. Nothing was wrong with his heart. Her older son died mysteriously in his 30’s, not long after I was born. Her younger son is pickling himself. In contrast, the black sheep of that generation, my grandfather, produced 4 tall, strong, healthy children. Their collective higher education degrees number 11 or so. In April, I will make that 12, and the following April, 13. They may not have the financial acumen they could have had, but they are rich in terms of their family.

She is not, and she realizes that. Her cruel words were her pride speaking. Knowing her upcoming suicide attempt, she wanted to remind us that at one time, she and hers were the best, the favorites. I am ashamed that we gossiped so cruelly in return about those statements. I am ashamed that we mocked her for her Christmas decorations. I am ashamed that we joked about putting Post-it notes on the expensive antiques in her house. I am ashamed that we made it a game as to what terrible Christmas presents my cousin and I would receive.

I am ashamed that we are not kinder people. I am ashamed that we didn’t see through her ploys. She does not make it easy, but that doesn’t excuse us. I am saddened that this is what she has come to. I am so sad for everything she has lost. She has lost so much.

And most of all, I am sad that her son found her, and saved her. She is in a coma in the hospital. She has lost the will to live, and we are keeping her here against her will.  For that, I am most saddened, and most ashamed.



Parenting For Dummies
February 15, 2008, 1:27 pm
Filed under: daily | Tags: , , ,

My grandfather’s family owned a successful candy business in my hometown through most of the 20th century. He was expected to take it over eventually. He was not allowed to go to college or become a pilot, his dream.  He was expected to live out of his daddy’s pocket for the rest of his life. This mostly served him well. He had a steady job, where he was given a lot of money. They built him a very large house out in the country. He had 4 children and a beautiful wife. He also had no freedom or respect from his own father: he was ordered around, forced to do his father’s bidding. He had the head for business, but then constantly butt heads with his father and brother who didn’t. When my mom was 16, he walked away from the business, and was disowned. The bottom dropped out. It was rough for them. My mom paid her way through college, even though her grandfather paid for her older brother to go to college, because girls weren’t supposed to go to college. They fought tooth and nail to keep that big house until I was about 11 when the upkeep became too much. Nobody talks about it, but everybody knows my grandfather regrets not being able to stand up for himself and become a pilot like he wanted. He was too worried about having the approval of his father, and it has dictated the course of his life even now, at 83, some 30 years after his father died. It genuinely makes me sad to think about that.

Because of this, my parents have been absolutely vigilant about giving me space to become the person that I want to be. Going to college was never doubted: I had the talent for it, and their only expectation was that I do my best in everything, especially school. However, what I wanted to do at college was up to me. My mom told me when I was a senior in high school, “Whatever you do, I want you to have the ability to support yourself and your family, no matter what happens.By that she meant that I need to acquire the education and skills to be able to have a decent job and earn the money to support my family if something should happen to my husband/marriage and I am the only breadwinner. I think it is the most important advice anyone can give a young person, particularly young women. You don’t have to “be” anything per se. The greatest prize of the feminist revolution isn’t women being high powered businesswomen; the greatest prize is that women have the choice to do what they want, no matter what that is. They have the power to support themselves and their families if they want to, or if they have to. At no point in this day and age should a woman EVER wake up and find herself divorced/widowed/caring for an incapacitated husband and think, “How will I take care of my children? How will I pay the bills? I can’t get anything but a minimum wage job!” If a woman wants to be a stay-at-home mom, she has every right to be. However, if the bottom drops out, she needs to be able to deal with that.

That requirement that my parents gave me leaves me with a lot of room. I have their support, no matter what I do. Once I graduate, and I am off the family dole, my mom will be done making decisions about what I can and can not do. That is why I can live with my boyfriend out of wedlock: she might not be happy about it, but from now on, those are my decisions and she won’t try to interfere. I am grateful to her for this amount of trust and support. I believe that this is why we have such a good relationship. She does not control me. When I lived at home, I was a minor and I had to abide by her rules. When I went to college, and she was paying the rent and food, she was unwilling to pay for me to live in sin. Once I’m paying for things, what I say goes, and she respects that. I respected her rules, and she respects my right to make my own now. She saw what happened to her father when he lived under the thumb of his father, who wouldn’t allow him to do what he wanted. She saw what happened when her father waited till he was in his 40’s to walk away, and the financial fallout that resulted in such a long wait. She’s not willing to stunt my life or my development in order to fit me in a box she picked out, nor is she willing to lose a relationship with me by fighting over it.

Because of that, it makes me see red when I see ROOMMATE! dealing with his father trying to force his hand in making life decisions. It infuriates me that he worries every time he checks his email or his voicemail, for fear of what cruel and vitriolic words he will have to swallow from his own father. I am SO mad that my roommate has a father who does not respect him as a person or an adult, who is trying to bribe him with money to stay attached to his strings, and then calling him an idiot for not taking “free money.” Money isn’t free when it takes away your personal freedom. Money isn’t free when it comes with strings, nay ropes and chains to tie him down to a life HE DOES NOT WANT. Money isn’t free when the cost is his self-respect.

That is why I am so proud of him that he choosing to walk away now, at 21 almost 22, forcing his father to respect him and his choices. I am so proud that we signed the lease that his father called idiotic. I am so proud that he is making this decision, even though it might be one of the hardest paths to walk. The only harder path is sacrificing himself to his father.  I am so very proud. It will all turn out for the best, that I can guarantee.



Cast of Characters
January 26, 2008, 8:19 pm
Filed under: daily | Tags:

1. Me. My name is Katrina. Go read my “about” section for further information.

2. Boyfriend. Also known as Bear. Fulfills the name by being cute, cuddly and furry. Bluest eyes in the universe. Favorite. Am understandably attached.

3. Mama! is very tall. A little loud. First all-time favorite person ever. Known for measuring neighbors’ grass and swearing in church.

4. Papa! is shorter than Mama!. This explains the middle range of myself. It was a long time before I realized what an oddity my family is. Love of reading and excessive spoilage is all his fault.

5. Brotha. 13 years my senior. Super smart! Lives in the East near Mama! and Papa!.

6. Grandma. 93. Very old. Just noticed it this year. Hilarious, tiny little lady.

6. Hannah-Banana, the Warrior of the Universe. Pictures have already been posted. My special family is obligated to have the most ridiculous dog on the block.

7. Roommate. Former prom date. Will probably rent a room in my house forever.

8. Extended crazy family! One whole character unto themselves.