Caller ID

This has been happening for a while now:

I call my sister’s cell phone, it rings, and then comes the sound of someone picking up, and then I say “Hello” a few times, and even after I say hello, there’s no response, and so eventually I hang up. I thought something was wrong with her phone, so when my mom got home from Europe I told her about it, just because it was weird and I thought maybe my sister needed a new phone. Uh, no. Turns out my darling sister has been answering her phone, and then not saying anything until she hears who it is, and then when it’s someone she doesn’t want to talk to (like me) she hangs up.

For some reason this has beyond pissed me off.

Seriously, WHAT THE FUCK?!

I know she has a disability. And I am sure sometimes she doesn’t want to talk to me. But to answer your phone and then hang up after determining it’s someone you don’t want to talk to is just beyond rudeness. It smacks of not giving a shit. And whether it’s her fault or not I can’t help feeling that this is what happens when you live a life with no consequences.

I feel like it’s such a “screw you” to her family. I really want her to not get away with it. I am sure she’ll get in trouble for it, but other than having her phone taken away, what can you really do?

Somehow it’s the worst of all worlds. She wants to be independent. Her family wants that for her too. But she ISN’T independent. She doesn’t pay her own bills, she doesn’t support herself, she doesn’t make herself go to meetings, she doesn’t show up for job interviews. She just acts however she wants, no matter how bratty or rude, and then thinks that makes her independent. She just says “I don’t have to ________ if I don’t want to ” and she thinks she is making her own decisions.

Sometimes, I don’t want to talk to my family when they call me, and I don’t answer the phone. But I pay the phone bill. I have a job, and I take care of myself, so I get to make that decision for myself. She doesn’t see the disconnect there. Maybe someone needs to explain it to her. But I don’t know that she would get it.

My sister has made me realize, over and over again, that sometimes what being independent means is making yourself do the shit that you don’t want to do. How do you teach that to someone? I don’t know, but we’re not doing a very good job of getting that across to her right now, and it shows.

I don’t want to force my sister to talk to me, and I don’t want to kiss her ass during our phone conversations so she likes me enough to WANT to talk to me. I don’t want to emotionally manipulate her into a false relationship with me. (Others have tried this with much success. For some reason my sister responds really really well to emotional manipulation and bullshit weedlings.) What I really want is for her to care that being rude to people in her family hurts their feelings, and to not do it anymore. Which I am starting to realize pretty much makes this my own problem, no?

We’re right back to my lesson I have to learn over and over again, ever since I saw it on the Travel Channel. Yes, the Travel Channel, where the old Creole woman explained voodoo and then said: “After all, you can only ever really change yourself.”

Because of Gravity

Today Mr E and I were having an email “discussion” about how EVERYBODY knows you have to weigh yourself in the morning before you do anything else because walking around and showering and eating and all that during the day makes you heavier. Even if you don’t eat you weigh more as the day goes on and I told him it was because of gravity, which really I know is stupid but how else do you explain it? Mr E is a scientist and all that which is part of what I find so saucy about him, the other part is his overall general super hotness, but I’m glad that I already knew that I married a super dork because his email response to tell me I was full of shit about the gravity thing included this awesome one liner: “Gravity is like rust. It never sleeps.”

The Worst Idea Ever

Mr. E and I are right in the middle of the vile and tedious process of stripping, sanding, and refinishing a crib we bought on Craigslist for $100. We wouldn’t be doing this except that the crib of my dreams comes in a shade I refer to as “espresso” but actually is just dark brown and also doesn’t exist. Well, let’s be totally honest here, it does exist, but while I wanted a dark brown crib I wasn’t about to pay $900 for the only one on earth from Pottery Barn Kids and so we bought a crib that comes in the same ugly cherry finish as all the other non Pottery Barn Kids cribs and we’ve been working on turning it dark brown for ages now.

This type of asking for trouble and making work where none is really needed (the crib really was perfectly good when it was cherry colored, after all) really is something I do ALL THE TIME, it’s just part of my nature and I can’t help it, and I am just lucky that Mr. E puts up with it as much as he does. However Sunday afternoon I think he finally maybe got a little sick of sweating over a hot power sander and he looked over at me and said “I think this might be our worst idea ever.”

This is a powerful statement because as I said I tend to always choose the most difficult way of doing anything ever. For example I couldn’t just register for regular old overpriced crib bedding (which is totally unnessary anyway), I had to choose the discontinued overpriced crib bedding and build my nursery theme around and it spend months searching for and overpaying for it on Ebay. So yeah, I think it’s fair to say I’ve cooked up A LOT of crazy projects since Mr E. and first dirtily salsa danced together one magic night in 1997 and not all of them have been, uh, the most fun. Some of them have maybe even gotten away from me, maybe turned out to be a bit more work than I figured on? But although the crib sanding suuuuuuucks it’s also, IMHO, kind of fun. We get to hang out together and use power tools and I read some fascinating articles on Fine Woodworking dot com which was actually kind of cool in a nerdy way, and everyone loves a project, so I decided no. Crib refinishing? Not worst idea ever.

But then I had a lot of time to think about it during the hours of tedious crib sanding and ever since then I’ve been trying to think of what our worst idea actually was. We once painted our bedroom this horrible bright orange faux finish and it was really really ugly, but we had so much fun doing that I don’t think it qualifies, and Mr. pointed out we learned a lot about color choices during that experience. Uh huh. Arranging my own wedding flowers was Le Most Incredible Giant Pain in the Le Ass so I thought maybe that, but they turned out so lovely and amazing I cannot complain. When I think of my wedding day I can still smell the dahlias, and what more could you ask for than that? I suggested that maybe having a baby could turn out to be our Worst Idea Ever but Mr. E felt that anything where you get to do it first doesn’t count and I can’t say I disagree with him on that.

I know there were times I sat on the kitchen counter and stared at my feet as tears ran down my face and I realized for the hundreth time that I was actually LIVING IN NEBRASKA and Mr. E had a Ph D but couldn’t find a job and hell, sometimes during those days life seemed like a pretty terrible idea, but in the end when I look back I also remember laughing and sunshine and my running path and I remember how we got stronger and mostly I remember how we were together through it all and I am glad for those times.

I was forced to conclude that we’ve been through some shit and not all of it has been fun or a barrel of laughs, but we haven’t yet had a really truly worst idea ever, and that, to me, says it all. I am lucky and blessed to have this person for a partner who always always always makes even the most terrible of terrible ideas worth it in the end.

Although I will let you know how I feel when I have finished hand padding a french polish finish onto forty milion crib slats. I guess you could say the jury’s still out on that one.

I Can’t Stop

I worry that the baby will be cold.

I worry that no one will give us anything for the baby and we won’t be able to afford to buy it the things it needs.

I worry that I am gaining too much weight.

I worry that I watch too much tv.

I worry that Mr. E isn’t happy and he secretly resents me for making him move here away from his family and that he hates his job and he hates me for not having one and for making us poor.

I worry that I’m eating all the wrong things.

I worry that Netflix is a waste of money because we never watch our movies.

I worry that the baby kicks too much. And I worry that it doesn’t kick enough.

I worry that I won’t be a good mom.

I worry that we don’t have any blankets for the baby.

I worry that our dog wil never calm the fuck down and I won’t be able to deal with having her around a baby.

I worry that the baby will be huge.
I worry that the baby will be tiny.

I worry that my doctor hates me.

I worry that Mr. E likes our dog a little bit more than he likes me.

I worry that being pregnant has made me cranky and everyone is talking about it behind my back.

I worry that there are obvious answers to all my problems that I am too lazy or stupid or scared to figure out.

I worry that I have forgotten to write someone a thank you note.

I worry that it’s rude to ask people to come to a shower and give us stuff.

I worry that airline tickets will never go down in price.

I worry that I am not doing enough around the house.

I worry that I am addicted to the internet.

I worry that I am losing my old life.

I worry that being pregnant makes me look fat.

I worry that I am not trying hard enough to eat the right things because I do not eat organic and I do not eat hormone free meat and I am not eating a macrobiotic raw diet with no hormones or dyes.

I worry because I forget to take my vitamins and I never wash my fruit.

I worry because I have nothing to say. Shouldn’t there be more going on in my life? Shouldn’t I be able to spin fun stories out of nothing?

I worry that I’m not any fun.

I worry that I waited too late to have children.

I worry that I am turning ugly.

I worry that Mr. E is mad at me for getting a pedicure on Friday.

I worry that the crib will never be done. I worry that the nursery will never done. I worry because I know Mr. E doesn’t want to hear about it anymore and he wants me to stop worrying.

I worry that the baby will come early.

I worry that we are too far from our families.

I worry that I am not planning enough for the future.

I worry that nothing will ever fix the inside of my head and even if we have seven hundred blankets and the nursery is done and the baby comes out perfect on the perfect day and Mr. E is happy and life is perfect I will still find something to worry about.

Healing

Ever since I found out I was having a baby I’ve been looking at announcements. You know, those little cards you send out that tell everyone the baby’s name and how much it weighs and all that fascinating stuff no one but you cares about? I’ve been thinking about it a lot, partly because I love to make this kind of stuff and so I was on the look out for a simple classic design that I could steal and copy (Martha came to the rescue yet again) and partly because I can’t decide whether or not to send an announcement to my father.

I haven’t spoken to my father in a really long time. It’s not something I talk about a lot here but I think it’s safe to say that we are estranged. Sometimes he sends me random birthday cards or I hear things about him through the grapevine but I have not seen him or heard his voice since he called to tell me that my grandmother died about five years ago. Unless someone else has told him, he doesn’t know that someday soon he will be a grandfather for the first time.

It is hard for me to go back and remember every detail of how my dad and I ended up where we are today, because that isn’t really how it worked for me. It wasn’t one particular wrong. It was more of a gradual reawakening process. It wasn’t the day I found out that he had sent my sister away and wouldn’t tell anyone where she was, it wasn’t like that was the day that I stopped speaking to him. It wasn’t hearing his lawyers refer to me as my sisters “biological sibling” or to my mom as my sisters “biological mother” and it wasn’t the day he drove me to the airport and told me right before he dropped me off at the curb that I couldn’t have a relationship with him if I ever talked about him with my mother. It wasn’t when he told my mentally retarded sister she must refuse to see her own brother and sister and mother after we finally found out where she was, and it wasn’t the day that I discovered that he told whatever lies he had to and had my sister sterilized after obtaining consent from her that he knew damn well she wasn’t qualified to give. It wasn’t any of those moments. Although it’s safe to say they didn’t help.

For me the moments when I really decided it was just better to not have my father in my life are the small moments, and a lot of these are moments I have come to view all the more clearly because of Mr. E, as my childhood is viewed up against the sheer magic of his normal childhood. I might be standing in the kitchen and I might say out loud “you know, I had to cook dinner for my whole family every night starting at the age of ten after my dad sat us down and told us that childhood was a scam perpretated by the liberal media and we weren’t going to get away with it anymore” and in the retelling of that to someone who never experienced anything like it I can tell how bad it really is. Or I remember how I would feel sick to my stomach every time I had to call him from college and how I had to work to steer the conversation away from thousands of dangerous topics to avoid being yelled at. Or how I cringed whenever a black person came on tv because I knew it would set my father off, or how I hid my copy of Catcher in the Rye at my mom’s house and only read it when I was there. Or I remember the letter I wrote him pouring out my very soul with all its hurts when I was still trying to mend all these broken fences after we had found my sister and how he never wrote back, and instead had my stepmother reply to me and how in that same letter she told me I owed her money for my plane ticket home from the Christmas before. I remember the time I had to ask my father to take me the emergency room for a urinary tract infection and as we were leaving and I was almost done dying of shame at having to talk about girl stuff with my father he starting complaining about how because of the $50 it cost to take me to the emergency room he couldn’t get new shoes for work. I remember the disgust in his voice and the look on his face as he would turn to me and say “You are just like your mother”, and believe me when I say that it was not a compliment coming from him.

I went to Catholic school for 12 years and you learn a shit ton about forgiveness in catholic school. It’s safe to say that when it comes to a textbook definition of forgiveness, well, I know what it is. Forgiveness means letting go. It means trusting yourself enough to know that you can take it if someone wrongs you again. Although it doesn’t have to mean letting the person who wronged you back into your life, even though you pardon them for their sins against you. And in a week when the families of girls shot at gunpoint attended the funeral of the man who shot them, I think we could all stand to give forgiveness another look. So it is hard for me to say, in the face of such grace, that there is a part of me that can’t let go, that believes that sins against the innocent may sometimes in fact be unforgivable sins, and that to sterilize a mentally retarded child coerced with lies has always been, for me, what I thought was unforgivable.

But my father had his reasons for doing what he did. I think lying to my sister and sterilizing her was shameful and wrong but I understand why, in his mixed up head, he did it. So actually when I am being brutally honest with myself I think the real thing I cannot forgive is not my sister’s sterilization but the fact that once upon a time my father loved me very very much, and then one day somehow did not anymore. The juxtaposition between those two things is like a stone in my heart. Sometimes I see my life, literally, in split screen, and I see a small version of myself, innocent, sunlit, laughing with my dad as I try to twirl my chunky sister around the living room, and then in that same instant I hear my stepmother’s voice on my answering machine, filling the cold room, saying “Annie does not live here anymore and we will not tell you where she is” and try as I might I just can’t reconcile those two moments, and for me the fact that my father could live those bright moments of my childhood along side me and then later do the things he did to me – that is perhaps what I cannot even grasp, cannot even wrap my head around. I have no explanation. I don’t know what happened to his heart. And if I can’t even understand it, I don’t know if I can forgive it.

So instead the person I am working on forgiving right now is me. Because it took me a long long time to acknowledge that I am happier because my father is not in my life. It has been hard to admit that the exhale I feel all the time because he is gone is one of relief. I wish my father was not the person that he is, but I am not sad that the person that he is is not in my life. And that does not make me a bad person. It just makes me someone who finally said “enough”. And so I will say it right here for the record. My dad is not a good person, not a sane person, not a stable person, and my life is easier and better because the person he is is not in it – and that is ok.

It’s important to know that I would never allow my father to harm a child of mine in any way. I would never leave him alone with my kids, I wouldn’t ever allow him to say something I don’t agree with in front of them. If there is a ever a reconciliation it will be all on my own terms, because while I was never very good at protecting myself from him, I would protect my children from him with every fiber of my being. I would never allow them to be exposed to the same bullshit that went on when I was kid. So the issue is not whether or not to let my father into my child’s life. I honestly doubt he even has the capacity to put himself there, regardless of whether the invitation were extended, which it will not be. The issue is also not whether or not he deserves to be a grandfather, or whether or not he deserves to know the name and birthdate and length and weight of his grandson. Let me be perfectly clear when I say that no, he does not. He does not deserve any of that. Not in any way.

But still, I would like him to know. Despite all else, all that has happened. I would like him to know that he has a grandson. New life is a profound thing. Maybe, deep down, this picture of a child, his grandson, sent through all the boundaries of remove and distance and silence, and all that has gone before, maybe this glimpse of what love can really do will serve as a reminder of new life, of forgiveness in the face of unforgivable sins. Who knows? Perhaps a few simple words (name, date, weight, length) may hold enough power to heal just a tiny corner of my father’s empty heart.

Update

– We haven’t gotten any test results back yet, but we did have an ultrasound.

– So now we know we are having a boy.

-And I turned 30 and Mr. E forgot to tell me Happy Birthday until I reminded him. He also forgot to ask me what I wanted for my birthday dinner. One should always ask a princess what she wants for her birthday dinner, no matter how old she is.

-But he did buy me the new (ish) Dixie Chicks CD and made me a very very very delicious Boston Cream Pie.

-However this did not prevent me from having an emotional breakdown later on the evening of my birthday and sobbing violently into Mr. E’s shirt after finally admitting that I was kind of having some issues with the baby not being a girl.

-I was pretty sure, ahead of time, that I was FINE with it being a boy, because it totally didn’t matter, because it was totally a girl. Uh huh.

-I have been assured by my awesome friend M that this is totally normal, and that she hoped that a mistake had been made until the moment her son came out, and then she was happy as a clam that he was who he was, and I know I will be too. But I still miss that little girl I see far off in the distance, just a little bit.

-Now that we know it’s a boy the naming assvice is coming out of the woodwork. In the past week someone told Mr. E that we should give the baby a good name like Hunter, instead of the crappy ones we had in mind, and someone else told him that whatever we do, we shouldn’t name the baby Hunter. For this reason we’re keeping any potential names secret, as people don’t seem to understand that the name of MY CHILD is none of their goddamn business, especially when I haven’t asked for their opinion.

-Mr. E and I went to a local church yard sale where I gleefully stuffed baby clothes into a large paper grocery bag as fast as I could sort through them. Cost per grocery bag? One Dollar. I felt only sort of sad that I was stuffing only boy clothes in the paper bag, although Mr. E claims my definition of what baby boys wear is a tad loose. Also, I totally did not sneak a little pink sun hat in the bag when Mr. E wasn’t looking. In other news, people? Don’t donate underwear to church yard sales. It’s really gross.

-Thank you to the commenter who told me that there is a “regular” brand of nitrite free lunch meat out there. There is indeed, it’s called Hormel Natural Choice, and I can actually eat it! Woo hoo!

-Mr. E will be gone for five days sciencing it up in Yosemite. I would be jealous, except I could have gone, and then I thought about being cold and sleeping on the ground for five days and I thought, eh, I think I’ll stay here.

-This means my dog will go into defend and attack mode and wake me up nine hundred times a night for the next five nights in a row to scare the shit out of me by barking insanely at every leaf that rustles or every cat that walks by outside.

-I tried the new maple macchiato at Starbucks and I wasn’t too impressed. It had a distinct fake maple syrup vibe. I absolutely hate fake maple syrup, so I remain loyal to the best starbucks beverage of all time, the one pump pumpkin spice latte. (one pump because otherwise it is too sugary for me. One pump is just enough.)

-Mr E. clogged the kitchen sink shortly before he left. We spent all morning snaking it and it only sort of drains. Awesome.

Happy Saturday Everyone!

In Which I am Easily Distracted by Shiny Blue Power Tools

Mr. E and I spent a better part of yesterday afternoon looking for the random orbit sander that Fine Woodworking told me I had to have (in a very helpful instructional video I watched online) as part of the Great Crib Refinishing Project From Hell. It was easy for us to tell that none of the places we looked had the right sander – the only one that would suffice – mind you, because I knew I was looking for a Makita Random Orbit Sander 1295DV and all the Makita sanders are bright turquoise blue and none of them were the 1295 DV Random Orbit Sander. One of them was $100 dollars and I am sure it was very lovely, but our friend at finewoodworking.com was very clear about what sander we should get and I never argue with a fine woodworker wearing a plaid shirt and suspenders. Clearly he knows what he is talking about.

Frustrated and annoyed Mr. E and I agree we would just order the stupid thing on the internet and wait the annoying two weeks for it and pay the annoying overpriced shipping charges. I just went to go ahead and order it when I noticed that in fact the sander I am supposed to get has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Makita. No turquoise. It’s a BOSCH 1295DV Five Inch Random Orbital Sander, in a lovely shade of gray. I could have been looking at it over and over again yesterday in every store we went to, I’ll never know. I even had the correct brand and name written on a piece of notebook paper that I was carrying IN MY HAND and that I never even looked at. Nowhere on that piece of paper did it say Makita. Where I even came up with the brand Makita is beyond me.

Just another example of why no one should even listen to me anymore. I’ve lost my mind and I absolutely couldn’t tell you when I will get it back. Well, I could probably tell you, but chances are, I’d be wrong.