Day 2 and 3: Stop Spending So Much Time on Bridges

The last couple of days have been a swirl of emotion and anxiety. Primarily, what should I do for money? I did not expect my arthritis to be what it is at this point. I expected my situation to be different.

 

My dad called six times between the hours of 6 and 7 in the morning. I ignored the calls because I know better. I had an interview that morning. I also struggle with how to gauge how an interview went. Anyway, I returned my dad’s call coming back. I didn’t have time to mention I was coming from an interview before he went on about how, “we are a family of deadbeats.”

 

I should not listen to his assessment, but the suffocating feeling of failure always lingers around me, like it is a thing, a thing that knows how right my dad is. And I start to review and analyze my choices and decisions, trying to pinpoint the moment where my downfall began. Was it at birth? Just a bad deck of cards? Was it the moment my white blood cells turned against the rest of my body? Or was it my choice that got me here? And I don’t see where I did anything truly awful. Where I was like, yeah, I think heroin is a good idea. That never happened. I did things, like take out student loans for grad school, and they’re shitty loans because I didn’t have a cosigner. I struggled with saving money because, unlike many of my peers, I have rather large medical costs each month. I worked part time jobs while in graduate school fulltime, until I couldn’t mentally handle it. It was the best decision for me and my mental health, but now I’m here, a dead beat.

 

But, that is what I need to work on. Being in the present moment. Not treading backwards, but existing, in the right here, right now. I frequently have to remind myself “Let’s cross that bridge when we get there.” I spend too much time on bridges from the past or bridges from the future. I admire people who have a balance. A balance where they are able to manage and predict future issues without living in fear of them, a balance where they enjoy the day. I am always planning, for the loss of my health insurance, looking at what feels like a huge looming disaster. I can never get out from under their shadow.

 

So, that is the goal for today. Be in the present moment.

 

I’ve been listening to this song a lot. Way Out by Forty Winks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDCZWXHtwjc

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Siblings- Can’t live with them, but CAN you live without them?

Siblings: Can’t live with them, but CAN you live without them?

 

My sister blew me off again. Her normal M.O.

 

When I was younger, I told her I was going to cut all of her hair while she slept. I didn’t really want to do it, but you can’t make a threat like that and not follow through. She was bigger than I was and YOUNGER. She had the baby card to play. I reached a compromise with myself. I decided putting blonde doll hair on her face for when she woke up would be acceptable. Like the mob. Just a finger in the mail, not the heart.

 

Not that she was guiltless. She wasn’t. I was about 12 or 13, making her 9 or 10. We were climbing around our friend’s garage, doing stuff we shouldn’t have been, as unsupervised children at those age will do. We scaled the walls, climbing hanging ladders, bookshelves nailed into the walls, a real man’s man garage. My sister, in an attempt to keep up with us, followed our every footstep. She didn’t process where we paused quite so carefully, which was definitely not on the glass top of an antique jukebox. My sister paused there, whining about something, placing all of her weight on the glass top, when it shattered. She fell straight through and immediately started wailing, screaming. She surprisingly skillfully excised herself from the now glass death machine and ran inside to where our parents were knocking back bud lights. The next thing I knew I heard my mom screaming my name into the back yard. I felt my stomach drop. She was pulling out the syllables. Never a good sign.

 

My sister told all of the adults I pushed her into the jukebox. She was there being comforted, while women applied bacitracin and Band-Aids to the cuts on her legs. She was surprisingly unscathed. Everyone glared at me when I walked in.

 

Thankfully, I had witnesses to corroborate my story. I had not pushed her. It was an accident. I had been on the other side of the garage, doing wrong, but not purposefully injuring my younger sister.

 

Now, this time I had witnesses, my other friends, but there were times I didn’t. Times when my sister tripped and got a bruise and told my parents, I did it and I was then sent to my room. So, I was meaner, but I also felt like I had to be to make up for all the unnecessary punishment.

 

For as much as we were enemies, we were also partners in crime, as I believe most siblings are. I remember one day while on the beach my mom fell asleep. My sister and I, with our packed lunch of sandwiches skillfully lead countless seagulls to my unsuspecting mother, where we decorated the blanket and sand around her with bread. My mom woke up surrounded by birds and being dive-bombed by them. She did yell at us, but only from her frozen position on the beach blanket, terrified to move. The two of us feigned remorse, but cackled on the inside in a telepathic way siblings share.

 

We were wild kids. We also had a phase where we kidnapped Barbies. We wrapped them in black electrical tape, used lipstick for blood, and hung them from the drop ceiling. We didn’t even have cable. We probably should not have been allowed to watch R rated movies.

 

In her late teens, my sister started drinking—she will never be a person who can have beer or wine with dinner. For this I am sorry for her. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to connect at that age without the lubricant and shared interest of alcohol. I got calls from my friends when they saw her out. I went to bars to pick her up. I found her on days when she was missing and hadn’t checked in with anyone. I went to her parent teacher meetings. I love my sister. I want to be her friend. I can’t help but wonder at what point I throw in the towel, because my sister does not see me as a friend.

 

A few years ago, I drove across the country with all of my belongings and a cat. I had been prepping her for weeks. I explained and confirmed my arrival date. I told her to ask her roommates. The day arrived and after driving for 5 days, and the last 10-hour leg I got to her apartment. I rang the bell. I rang every bell in the apartment. Eventually, a woman came and opened the door and I asked if she was my sister’s roommate. She was not. We walked about the stairs to the front door and knocked. No answer. The extremely generous couple that lived below her invited me and my poor traumatized cat in for water and simply to out of the car. I played the gracious generous guest while I seethed with anger. She eventually showed up from work. A shift I had begged her to switch. She was so surprised no one had let me in. Did I knock? Did I knock loud enough? My tired, weary, driven across the country self wanted to push her down the fucking stairs. My cat and I made our way into the third floor apartment with her roommates. Her roommates were nice people; however, my sister had neglected to tell them about the length or my stay, I assumed about a week or two. I needed to find my own apartment and then I would be out of everyone’s hair.

 

This was years ago, but it is still the same game. I come to visit. She isn’t home. The last time I got to her apartment after a two-hour drive. I texted her when I left, when I was on my way, spoke to her on the phone, agitated that she was at the store buying emergency cat food, for her cat. She assured me she would be there when I showed up. I got there. I called her. No answer. I really had to pee. My mom called to tell me she’d be there soon. I waited, one minute, two minutes, about seven. I know it doesn’t sound long, but it is when you have to pee and have driven two hours and made all these check-ins to assure someone would be there. I left. We eventually passed each other at an intersection. She waved in her clueless way. I flipped her off in my I will leave doll hair on your face for when you wake up way.

I called and the first thing she asked is “Gawwd, are you coming back now?”

I shrieked no, I was not coming back and she should suck a bag of dicks. You fucking bitch.

Maybe I over-reacted, but it has been a cumulative effect.

I should probably give up on her. Throw in the towel, but American culture and the family unit make cutting your family off really taboo and awkward, even if it is the most sensible choice.

 

So, siblings, can’t live with them, certainly, but can you live without them?

Judgment Lunch (Or How I Kept All My Teeth In the Front Of My Face)

Judgment Lunch

 

The tooth incident compromised my judgment. I panicked. I wanted guidance, or I wanted to win thousands of dollars on a scratch ticket. I’m not that lucky. I called my Irish Catholic grandmother, known as Nana. She is my dad’s mother. I called and explained the issue. She tsk’ed a lot. She said, “Well, this is why you need to work.” I had quit my retail job. My brain imploded. I explained that the job and the tooth were unrelated. The job wasn’t going to give me dental and I wasn’t going to make $2,600 there either. That is probably where I should have stopped, but she had hit a sore spot. A sore spot made up of me working since I was sixteen. A sore spot where deciding to quit my retail job and focus on graduate school was a constant struggle because I felt like everything was a lavish expense. I was living on loans. It is something people do. I still feel guilty about it. So, when Nana in her nana way brought up the idea that I was not working, it wasn’t what I was looking for. I was looking for some kind voice to say, “Dear, I’m sorry, let’s figure this out together.” She didn’t. She compared me to my parents. So, I explained to her if she wanted me to work at a job where I made $2,600 to account for this unforeseen dental issue I should start dealing drugs or go into prostitution.

Nana did not approve.

 

She told me to call back when I came to my senses. I was feeling impulsive and fantasized about how hard it would be for her to play “Who has the best grandchild?” with her friends if I had teeth missing in the front. I thought about getting it pulled simply out of spite. Can’t put my picture up now, can you?

 

I later got a call from another family member. “You need to call Nana and apologize because she is taking it out on everybody else. I know it’s hard. Just take the help.”

 

Help? I don’t know about you, but everything in my family comes with a price. Love, food, money. Supposedly, it doesn’t, but there is always an undercurrent I feel. A sensation that I must return on their investment. I should send them Power Points detailing my progress and accomplishments, itemized budgets and receipts of where there $100 went to. It isn’t that I’m ungrateful. I am lucky in a way. Members of my family helped pay for me to go to a much better school system. I received a much better education in an emotionally safe place when I was particularly vulnerable. I mean who isn’t in high school? But, there is a rule of reciprocation. They do these things out of the goodness of their hearts? Kind of. They paid for me to go to school, but no one every picked me up. I was the last kid in the parking lot, waiting. They paid for me to go to school, but I had to steal uniforms from the lost and found because my parents and I couldn’t afford them.

 

So, I guess that offers a little bit of background. I contacted a dentist a couple of hours away I had not seen since 2008. He, the dentist himself, called me back. I felt like it was my first bit of luck. I set up an appointment and discussed cost along with possible dental issues.

 

Now it was acceptable to call and make an apology, now that I had made progress. I apologized. “I’m sorry if what I said upset you.” Which is a backwards apology, but it was the best I could muster. We arranged lunch before my dentist appointment.

 

And here, good people, of the internet is JUDGMENT LUNCH

A no holds bar, UFC smack down, where and Irish Catholic grandmother is allotted a half-hour, while buying you a sandwich to rehash all of your shortcomings, disappointments, and failings spanning both physical and personal.

The one rule: You take it.

Mostly I imagine myself in the fetal position just letting the old woman kick me over and over again.

That is judgment lunch, and probably why I still have all the teeth in the front of my face.

Because after being reduced to a mental fetal position that will wreak havoc on your psyche for years to come, she paid for half of the procedures, drastically less than anticipated. We are at an estimated $525. I put the rest on my credit card.

 

At which point I spent 3 hours at the dentist office, getting x-rays, a cleaning, and a giant filling. Apparently, a filling never fell out! I had been wrong the whole time. It was actually a cavity that had gotten so bad, my tooth, the actual tooth chipped while I was at the retail job such a long time ago.

 

In closing, it was an adventure filled with some battles, but I suppose in the end I came out on top, at least with all my teeth, even if I can’t eat any solid food for a week.