Fare well

This will be my last post.

I will leave the blog as a testimony to the love I bear for my God-Children, who I now fear I will never see again.

This is a radical departure from everything I have written before, and it is not my intent to libel anyone–it’s just what happened.

I haven’t heard a word from my old home since the day after the election ended. I called a couple of times before then, and got one call about money that I didn’t owe, and it was radio silence from then on out. The occasional facebook post, but basically, our households were ships in the night.

Then something wonderful and terrifying happened–Uji asked me to marry him. Of course, I said yes, ecstatically so, and between the holidays coming up, having studied for and taking the GRE in the last week, I’ve called only my parents, my maid of honor, and one grandmother to share the news. We posted on Facebook about it, and the two of us have been avidly ignoring it for the past two days, thanks to the GRE and our house-warming, which was essentially our parents, one grandparent apiece, my two aunts, his uncle, and my first mentor. Nobody else found out in person. Uji tells me that he had invited Kali and her family–we didn’t get an RSVP. It was the same story at Halloween.

Tonight I finally checked Facebook and found a horrific rant from Kali’s mother, no longer Mommy Two. Just Kali’s mom. She accused me of lying. Forgetting. Dumping on little kids. I gave the short list of things I’ve done over the years for my surrogate family (starving, stealing, dropping out of school, risking my life) and said goodbye. I have never in my life felt so betrayed.

None of this compares, however, to the terror and pain I have at the possibility of losing contact with my God-Children. I have three books that are sitting still-unwrapped on my desk that Uji and I bought together before things went crazy–Christmas presents for each of them. They’re innocent in all of this, and I’m too afraid to even try to explain the truth–would I demonize myself or their grandmother more? I don’t know Kali’s side of this, only that she is loyal to her mother the way a good daughter should be. If this mess didn’t originate with Kali, then I understand she will have to stand behind her mother and will respect her wish to do so. If it did originate with her, then I have been betrayed in a way that will never heal.

I will continue to write, though; just not here. And not about the family that once was mine. I can’t bear the pain.

You can comment, but I won’t look; this will be the last time I lay eyes on this page, and it’s almost as much of a wrench letting go of something that got me through the darkest days of my life. I owe an apology to all of my old classmates who still read this, as well as to my excellent professor, who encouraged me to make this the gem that it was.

It will not be my last work.

In spite of what I have lost, I still have a very good family that I can always lay claim to, and I am marrying into a very good family as well. I am doubly blessed, in spite of what I have lost. I can only hope that Dozer, Demonic, and the Squidge will grow up happy, healthy, and will lead lives that they can be proud of. I will always be proud that I knew them, and I will never forget them, no matter how the rift may widen.

Lastly, I am sorry to leave you, dear reader, on a sad note. I hate sad endings, and the world doesn’t really need another one. I take solace in knowing that the termination of a liminal passage is the beginning of a new certainty, and that means nothing is ever really over. It just changes, like the face of a cliff in the rain.

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Cyber Monday (in the ’90’s verb sense)

Now that Thanksgiving is over, there is nothing standing between us and Christmas (well, there’s Yule, but nobody pays attention to that unless they’re pagan or British.)

For those of you who are fortunate enough not to have spent Christmas around me before, I am a TOTAL grinch and I will forbid people from playing Christmas jams around me until Yule If I have my way. I usually don’t, and this usually makes me cranky. Christmas for me has historically been a commercial-ridden, food-coloring stained, sockfest of Bing Crosby terrible. This is because Christmas is around the time my seasonal depression hits its low point. I start the morning upstairs at my parents’, which is cold and has my step-brother running the evil terrier up and down the stairs in an effort to wake up our folks so that he can see how many expensive electronics he’s gotten that year. I then proceed to find three pairs of holiday socks in my loot (which I will cut the bells off of later,) something practical for the house, and books I will mostly read at spring break, as I will not have time to finish them before the school quarter begins. Don’t get me wrong; I love my books, I love my parents, and I like getting presents. It’s everything else attached to Christmas (which in a non-Christian family loses most of its meaning) that gets to me.

This year is a little different.

The evil terrier now rests in peace after fourteen long years of neurotic doggy hyperactivity (I’ll admit I kind of miss it. My dad does too. He nearly repaced it with some variety of hound that would have landed him a noise complaint and possibly a divorce. He thought better about it, though.)

My step-brother is stationed in Italy and will be either on-base or at his in-laws.

My parents are going to LaPush for a romantic getaway, thus releasing me from my usual familial obligation. I imagine I will wind up hauling Uji out to my Gramma’s farmhouse on Christmas Eve, or thereabouts (My Gramma loves Uji and drops hints about grandchildren occasionally.) and generally attempting to avoid the Guide Meridian otherwise.

This year, I’ll be joining Uji’s family for Christmas.

To paint a picture, Uji’s mom starts decorating the day after Thnaksgiving. She listens to Celine Dion in the kitchen, and the Hallmark channel is her standby television programming all day.

GRINCHINESS IS OUT OF THE QUESTION.

Uji is nearly as excited. He’s planning where to put the tree (dear God; I’m going to have a full-sized Christmas tree in my own home for the first time since I was a teenager) and he forced me to write a Christmas list.

In light of that, I’ve decided that resistance is futile and I bought him glass icicles from the farmer’s market for a surprise, have learned to make pumpkin cheesecake, and have started a spreadsheet for gift-giving.

What the hell. Why the hell not.

What I will NOT be doing is spending half my savings at some door-buster sale, or paying for anything other than a traffic ticket online until midnight tonight.

Instead, I’m going to try and make stuff, and I’m doing as much of my shopping as possible at small businesses–not just to stimulate the local economy, oh no; I have a much more selfish motive.

Avoiding the mall.

I’ve also consented to going to church on Christmas, which is something I haven’t done regularly since my Grandpa Dave was alive. He sang in the choir of the First Presbyterian in Austin and my Uncle Cris and I would sit in the back row and play with the candles.

The last time I went to church on Christmas was with my Granny when I went to Texas a few years back. It was the first time I’ve ever been in a Baptist church, and it was with extended family that I haven’t seen in decades. The pastor had dental veneers and a tan, my second cousin Sam (also a pastor) sang all the hymns at a Pavarotti volume, and my Uncle Cris and I still played with the candles.

Uji’s family is Catholic, which means better music, a prettier church, and without the bad influence of my Uncle Cris, better behavior out of me. Omi is also Catholic and I’ve been to Mass with her before. In spite of the bad blood between Rome and the appropriated remnants of the old ways that fall under the blanket label of modern paganism, I’m actually WAY more comfortable in a Catholic church than a Protestant one. Maybe it’s the ritual, maybe it’s the age of the faith, maybe it’s the acknowledgement of Mother Mary, but something puts it bizzarely close to how I was raised. My Uncle Lee jokes that people who call themselves bad Catholics are usually just good pagans. My experience is that people who call themselve bad Catholics are generally good people, great drinking buddies, and better Catholics than they imagine.

Either way, this year I’m pouring out the milk and honey for the new sun at Yule and celebrating the birth of Christ.

And I’m not allowed to be a Grinch about it.

Thanksgiving in two movements and three tongues

Thanksgiving was ridiculous.

It was also the first time that I have gone to two houses out of necessity, as opposed to running off to Kali’s to escape from my parents’ place. This is because Uji and I did turkey day with both our families. It actually worked out perfectly–my family does that weird WASP-y thing where they eat at two in the afternoon so they can fall asleep in front of the UT/A&M game. Uji’s family eats at a normal time and waits until nine for pie, which is ok because by then, there is a Christmas movie on…more about that later…

Uji drove, which meant we relied on my skills as a navigator to avoid the Guide Meridian on the way to my parents’ house in the North end of Nowhere.

This meant we wound up taking The Scenic Route, which is a euphemism for Getting Lost, but in our case, it really was scenic. THe first snow was on the foothills, the clouds were doing that lined-with-gold thing that they do in winter here, and everywhere is green from all the damn rain.

My Dad cooks Thanksgiving dinner (and every other meal in the house) and he was just finishing the gravy when we pulled up. It’s usually a small gathering of twelve, but this year, we were half that size and I found myself sign- interpreting stories about growing up on the farm with Grampa for Uji. There was maybe one anecdote out of the lot that would have been table-appropriate outside of my family.

Here is a brief list of topics discussed:

  • De-horning cattle, and getting occasionally gored by one
  • How strong Grampa was (this was the table-appropriate discussion, and if you’re curious, my Grampa could hold onto a flagpole and stretch his body straight out–as in parallel to the ground.)
  • Silos, sileage, and getting stuck in the silo
  • Feeding calves
  • Electric fences, and what happens if you touch one, if the line goes down and creates a charge on the kitchen faucet, and how to test them.
  • cleaning the barn

Dammit, Family…

Uji’s response was to share a story about his Dad and an electric fence, which will remain unpublished to protect the innocent.

Dinner with Uji’s family was not too different, if you consider that there were no stories involving blood or animal excrement, and that our parents make stuffing differently. Also, someone had to interpret for me occasionally, because Uji’s family speaks three languages around the table. Uji’s ‘Buelito is visiting from Idaho, and he told embarassing stories in Spanish about Uji and his brothers. Uji’s ‘Buelito calls him chaparrito, which is Spanish for Shorty. He tells me I need to teach Uji Spanish. Someone should really teach me before that happens; I can understand most of what I hear if I pay attention, about as good as I am with German or sign, but I can’t really answer.

I’m working on it, though; my latest acquisition is Hijole, which is short for something not very polite. According to my Mom, my dad used to say the whole thing when he was mad before I was born.

Uji and I still have yet to introduce our families, but I’m fairly sure they will get along. Our dads have a lot in common, and as long as you can get two out of four parents to like each other, you’re doing pretty good.

Maybe they can discuss electric fences.

 

A Harvest Moon part 2

HOUSE. We has one.

*Special thanks to the Koschka for the creepy lolcat idea. He showed me the trailer for this Japanese cult film that apparently features this bizarre, Mick Jagger cat-monster that Koschka was sporting on a t-shirt in Fiction class one day. Koschka, by the way, is waiting to hear back from an amazing job op in Madison, Wisconsin.

I’m beginning to think that my birthday week is the best week in existence. Last year, I got a niece for my birthday. This year, I get a house, and I get to live in it with my man-friend, who does dishes and laundry and likes my cooking.  And my Dad likes him. That part kind of throws me off; like, “Ok, Dad…so when are you going to reaveal your true supervillain identity and dangle my boyfriend over a lava-filled crater?” I guess I have to wait for the ten-minute monologue to figure out his true motives…o.O

At any rate, he bought me gardening tools for my birthday. THERE WILL BE KALE! (cue Dan Day face and epic soundtrack.)

Gardening is one of several projects I have planned for the next year. It is one of three that I will be doing alone (the other two being finding a grad school and a 9 to 5 so I can start paying my undergrad loans.) The others all involve Uji, and include things like re-finishing cabinets, learning how to live with each other, and working on something I had never contemplated before–hearing comprehension.

A few days ago, Uji and I took a walk down to the beach to watch the sunset (we’re gross like that) and he brought up how very imperfect hearing aids of all kinds are. The device that goes behind your ear is bulky, mimics tennitis, and over-amplifies loud noises, white noises (even the wind blowing!) and something tells me that they have sort of a tinny quality, like a cheap radio or a pirated movie. The kind you get surgery for present a huge risk, because they don’t always work, and even worse, the effects can fade with time. My ear-bud style headphones are okay, but Uji tells me that if you spend your whole life in silence, being able to hear doesn’t fix the problem of not understanding what you hear.

I’m a music nerd and I carry my headphones everywhere with me when I’m in school, in case I end up needing to work late in a lab. I started  doing it again when I figured out Uji could use them to hear YouTube videos. I also have a smart-phone that I barely know how to use, but which has an idiot-proof video camera with relatively good picture and sound. It’s by no means professional quality (unless you’re Bruce Baille. I wish I was sometimes.) I can, however, record short clips of things like throwing a rock into the ocean and it will pick up the “plunk!”

At first, Uji was ambivalent about listening to what I recorded for him. He tells me it’s a matter of pride in deaf culture to bear your silence with dignity, rather than trying to compensate. I admire that idea because it forces people to see someone as a complete  person  even if he doesn’t hear. I’ve been very careful never to pressure Uji about hearing because of it. Uji, however, is a naturally curious man, so he put in my headphones, scowled at the clip, and asked, “Are you making that noise?”

“No, Honey; that’s what a rock that size sounds like going into the water.”    He thought this over for a minute while I wondered if it would be possible for me to imitate that sound, and I got another idea. “I don’t want to pressure you into going along with this, but I have an idea. What if I was to make you a video every day of a different sound? That way, you could hear things and learn to understand what you were hearing. You don’t have to…”

So far, we’ve gone over the fountain in his parents’ birdbath, tea-slurping, the weird growling sound that the Munchkin makes into her blanket when she’s sleepy, the weird noises that Uji makes when he’s imitating “The Grudge” and rattling his teeth (which I can’t do,) and me singing “Die Blaue Donau” in a horrible squeaky voice while I poke him in the face.

Because that is love.

For tomorrow,  he’s picked the weird noise that Koschka makes by pressing air through his lips and strumming them like a guitar string.

I mentioned earlier that I got a niece for my 27th birthday, and on Saturday, she will be a year old herself. She walks, she gets into everything under the sun, will chew on anything with her perfect little teeth, and she’s starting to get her mother’s unruly hair. I wish her the best that life has to offer, including the cojones to stand toe-to-toe with her hellmonkey brothers and later in life, whoever gets in her way. HAPPY 1ST BIRTHDAY, CHUCKY THE SQUIDGE!

Chucky vs. early birthday present that came in the mail from Auntie Omi in Texas

A Harvest Moon part 1

Something that most people know about me is that I am mildly obsessed with Star Wars. When I was a kid, it was worse. I didn’t have the action figures, and I didn’t really read a lot of the fanfic that came out after the original movies were re-mastered, but I knew every line of my dad’s VHS copies and I had read my mom’s paperback novelization of “A New Hope” until the damn cover fell off.

Naturally, when I was fourteen, my Uncle Cheese introduced me to Spaceballs.

I discovered recently that Uji is the way about Spaceballs that I am about Star Wars. He and his brother Rob are sitting in their parents’ den watching clips from the blu-ray with the captions on. We have just finished eating a white lotus mooncake from Chinatown in Seattle, where Uji and I went yesterday at the invitation of Suzy Q and Suzy Q’s man-friend.

Every year, Popo sends somebody to the Chinese bakery where she worked when she was my age to get her mooncakes for the first full moon of fall. She likes the white lotus kind with no egg yolks. Suzy Q likes those and the red bean kind, also without egg yolks. She assures me that the yolks, which are hard-boiled , candied, and baked into the cake, taste a little like chocolate-flavored chalk. At any rate, I’m perfectly content to eat mooncakes minus egg yolks, because they are still mooncakes and there is nothing in the world that is quite like a mooncake. They’re dense, sweet without being cloying, and they’re so rich that a slice the size of a green grape is enough to satisfy even my sweet tooth. Each one is also beautiful in form, and they look like entirely too much work unless you happen to have a Chinese bakery kitchen and staff at your disposal.

In tow with us for dim sum lunch and Popo’s mooncake expedition was the Munchkin, who has just started preschool. Poor kid caught something while we were down there and she was cranky most of the time, until she started running a fever and laughing hysterically, at which point we decided it was time to get her home and into a bath. She and I watched “Fantastic Mr. Fox” on Suzy Q’s ipad on the drive back (that movie is amazing) while Uji nerded on his smart-phone. Suzy Q busted into a box of mooncakes (they come in different sizes, so she bought a box of small ones specifically to raid in the car) and made us all eat one.

That woman is bad for my cholestorol.

Because Gemma has started preschool and I’ve been preoccupied with one thing or another all summer, I’m finding myself out of work for the first time in five years. To be honest, it’s a little unsettling, but I have enough saved up that I can afford to piddle around for a little bit (not a big bit. My ego would never withstand being useless for longer than I have to be.) I’m glad the Munchkin’s in school; she needs to be around kids her own age and there’s only so much I can come up with to entertain her at home. We did have a Kitty Day, though.

 

Honestly, I’m kind of glad I have nowhere that I have to be at the moment–because tomorrow, Uji and I get the keys to our very own house.

More about that in part two.

Prodigal Pod

On Friday, I went home for the first time in a week.

Door protocol at my house is yelling “Don’t stab me!” for the benefit of my paranoid sister, and if the boys are inside, they run to the door yelling, “POD!” So imagine my surprise when this time, they were followed by the Squidge, fully walking, who also managed a “pod.”

I should really spend more time with those kids. I’m afraid the next time I leave, I’ll come back to find Dozer’s first car in my spot.

I had a perfectly good reason for not being there, really. Uji’s lease ended on Friday, so I was helping him pack up and move–which he does slower than me, because I’ve done it fourteen times in the past ten years and I’m about to do it again. Hence, it taking a week instead of three days. He is also much more careful with his things than I am with mine–mainly because he has nice things and I have whatever cheapo it’ll-do knockoff I found at Goodwill for ninety per cent of my non-book, non-shoe possessions.

His things are now either in storage or the laundry room of his parents’ house, where he will be staying for the next month. This would not be the case, but around the end of July, we decided it was time we got a place together. Which meant hunting for a two bedroom apartment under a thousand dollars not in the Wood Hood, the student ghetto, or the sex-offender neighborhood (we have one–the state puts them all together so the cops can watch then easier.) Our remaining choices were still dodgy, on account of about sixty per cent of renters in Bellingham are students, which makes them sixty per cent easier to screw over if you are a property manager. Students have very little income and usually aren’t aware of their rights as renters, so intimidating/dehumanizing them is a common practice and has been for years.

Fun fact–that’s how the University campus started. Unmarried medieval scholars banded together because they were tired of getting screwed over by their medieval landords, who were well aware that they could jack up the rent in their medieval college towns because a student has to sleep some time, even if it IS only for three hours a night.

Uji’s parents heard we were having trouble (even though neither of us are college students anymore.) After meeting one spaced-out, apathetic landlord, they started looking for houses. To buy. That they would be renting to us.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea that someone could be so generous. Hell, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea of having a bright, clean, private HOUSE to live in. When we started, Uji and I were trying to find a place with working plumbing, no mold, and at least one window per room. Now, we’re going to be in a cul-de-sac.

I’ll be staying at home for the next month, and I have every intention of making the best of it–after all, I’ve been out-of-touch with my family for most of the summer, between the place-hunting (which was a month of hell,) the packing, and all the non-productive stuff I’ve done to make up for the last four years of always having school or work or both. I’ve done more laying around in the past three months than I have in the last decade. It’s just usually at Uji’s.

Now that there is no “Uji’s,” and before we get swept up in settling in the house, I have a chance to do cool stuff like teach Dozer to make French toast, help Demonic spike his mohawk for school, and catch up on my writing. Uji, in the mean time, gets to spend time with his parents, and with me at my place.  He discovered that when my bathroom is clean (as in no heathen piglet handprints in the sink or spilled mouthwash or Cars toothbrushes littered all over hell’s half-acre, and when all the rubber ducks are picked up) it’s got a nice shower. Apparently, Uji’s brothers and he were cleaner growing up than the hellspawn that lives at my house.

Also, Kali doesn’t generally get to cleaning more than two rooms a day, as she cooks for five and the Squidge likes to throw things around the living room. Like her toys. And her fruit puffs. And her shoes. And anything else that isn’t bolted down. Kali also doesn’t sleep much either; the Squidge is apparently nocturnal.

The move will be good for all of us–I’ll get to live with my honey, there will FINALLY be a proper room for the Squidge, and the house is close enough that I can take the boys overnight to get them out of my hair/set them on Uji if I feel like he needs to be mauled by children.

Farts–why growing up is a lie.

Recent discussion with my friends has taught me that it’s true—nobody ever really becomes a grownup. There are entire books written on this subject,  as well as people’s desperate attempts to try and prove that they are grownups, which almost always backfire somehow.

Allow me to demonstrate—using farts.

Something that has always endeared Uji to me is that he is extremely polite. So much so that in the six months we have known each other, he has never farted in front of me. He always excuses himself to the bathroom. Imagine his consternation when I explained to him that the acoustics of tile floors and shower-board only serve to amplify the offending noise, and that a toilet bowl is really just a parabolic dish for increasing flatulent resonance. “Really?” He asked, mortified.

Really.

 

 

There are some of my friends who don’t actually feel the need to be grown-up, who talk constantly about farts (Suzy Q is one of them, and occasionally gives me a detailed recap of one I missed.) Others of my friends don’t tell anyone, and we all suffer for their silence. Prime examples: Dork-In-Law, Omi, and the Koschka.

Shopping with the Koschka is like a dream come true for me; he knows what he wants, where he wants it from, and he is focused on exactly that for the duration of the trip, which is expedient and relatively painless. Shopping with Suzy Q is the exact opposite of this and results in a minor nervous breakdown and sore feet.

Shopping with both of them is mildly better, because I have someone to suffer with me, and it’s fun to drag a little gay man into horrid girly stores—especially the Koschka, who abhors anything and everything swish.

I object to this comparison–Bolsheviks got to carry guns.

So last October, when Suzy Q decided it was time to raid the local Charlotte Russe for costume jewelry (she’s in a show or getting ready for one at any given time) I dragged the Koschka along. He showed up in his regulation pea coat and black tie, and I wore my winter getup, which gets me accused of looking like a Bolshevik.

Suzy Q had something tweed on without making it look tweedy, and red lipstick because it was winter and she does that.

Needless to say, the girls behind the counter sort of glowered at us all when we came in, for not looking like the rest of their customers and because the phrases “Oh, God, why?” and “That’s terrible” kept falling out of our mouths in relation to the merchandise. 

At one point, Koschka demonstrated his tactic for dealing with unpleasant situations, which he will never complain about as they are occurring, but rather he will act in a way that states his displeasure without actually implicating himself as a dissident. In this case, it was to let an SBD in the feathered-earring section and then walk away. “You should come over here,” he suggested to me.

“Why?”

“Trust me.”

“You farted, didn’t you?”

About this time, two girls walked through the stench and muttered to each other, “I thought a girls’ store was supposed to smell nice!” Suzy Q immediately recognized what was happening, and we had to leave the store because we were laughing too hard.

This event has burnt itself into our collective psyche—now, when I need something gaudy and cheap, we go to Fartlotte Russe.

There really is no growing up for some of us.