Sunday, January 12, 2020

(The ahead is a fictitious post to a ficticious messageboard. Any person, living or dead, who you may think is being depicted in this post probably isn't. I'm not that clever.)

What do you think?
Dear Messageboard

My husband's family have control issues and I think I am losing my mind from the scuttlebutt of his "old mates".

Long story.  Sorry.  I don't want to drip feed.

I am a somewhat older mum - usual story.  Took some time to deal with my rather perculiar paternal family, married the wrong bloke, work got interesting.

(Honestly, if you want an hour on a therapist's couch - my father is the sort of man that I would NEVER EVER marry, busy marrying every second bimbo who fall into the category of obviously would - what my mother saw in him I will never know - and spawning all of these siblings who - well - I can only say thank god I had Mom.  Shiver)

So I met DH through friends - honestly, he was a prince among all others - he listened, he was quiet and deferential, he seemed to really GET ME.  His brother was okay - a bit stuffy with a wife who was, at the time - friendly but reserved.  I got the feeling I was invading her turf, but then, my then boyfriend had been single a while and sort of an extra setting at their place a bit, so she was probably entitled to feel that way.

We really GOT each other.  And you know, my (and his) body clock was ticking and given the complete noneties on one side of my family tree, his extended family seemed quite interesting - right there for each other, you know?

Anyway, his dad was quite gung-ho for the whole thing - his first wife - the boys' mother - died when they were quite young but he had finally found happiness again when he rekindled with an old flame when the boys reached adulthood.  Step-mom is lovely - apparently she had a few issues fitting in to the family at first but each family has its wrinkles, it seems.  I think he is a bit of a romantic at heart, the old man.

Well, that was then.

Since then - its been horrible.

First, there are all these people who knew him from when he was a little boy pecking at me day in day out - if I didn't know better, I would say its almost what schizophrenia feels like, all these little voices chattering to fill the void, over and over about everything.

Ridiculous stuff, too.

"Her nails are too long - the wrong colour - the wrong shape - held at the wrong angle to the scapular on the vestry"

"What is she wearing?  Designer clothes?  An old ring?  Foundation?  Perfume that her SIL despises?"

"Did she look at him okay?  Was that for reassurance?  Reprimand?  Retribution?  Did her lips move?  Did his?"

It got worse.  Apparently these people speculate about everything.  Who his father is.  How his mother died.  What he wore to a uni party.  (Admittedly that was big time dumb.  He told me about it once and just was gobsmacked - but considering his family).  Whether his SIL felt overshadowed by me.  (Really - we laughed about that at first, but then I got to thinking - huh?  She stopped calling me soon after that, so maybe she is a bit insecure.)

And of course, then my own father added fuel to the flames.

What a cretin.  And that waste of space that is - well, most of my siblings really.  The kept telling these people all of this stuff - most of it made up, you know, the sort of stuff they did when I couldn't be bothered with them when I was a teenager and they were trying to gross out my friends.

Thank god for Mom.  Actually she is pretty gobsmacked at the whole thing too.  She is normally so zen and together, but she can only do very limited contact with these people - my dad's or my husband's.

And of course, we got pregnant.  Absolutely over the moon about it - it was straight away, of course, but you know, what with statistics and that, we had no time to waste.  And oh, the baby is so gorgeous.  A little boy.  Just DH and Mom with me and we all just kept on falling in love.  I just wanted to sit there and adore him.

And all of these people just want want want want want.  You think the vaccination conversation is a hard one with in-laws, try doing it through their rather convoluted method of chinese whispers and implied meaning - and if you ever tried to say anything head-on to any of them, you get "well, DH's grandfather's godfather got blown up by terrorists so this is how we protect ourselves" which really kyboshes whooping cough as a topic.

But all these people - its hard to describe them - if you ask them to back off, they say "well, you knew of our existence when you married him so sucks to be you" and they truly think they are right - so much so, I am starting to think I should have run early.  They are truly sick.

But it shouldn't have to be this way.  I see other family's resolving stuff and allowing people to live their own lives, but I see this one and I just can't deal with it any more.

I just want to take my baby and run away - I want DH to run away with me - go to near my mom.  She will help with the bub while I get my old job - well something like it - back and DH can find out what he wants to be (he worked in the family business - they won't like it if he resigns).

What would you do?

Friday, January 10, 2020

In which the cat, the computer and the cunning of a 10 year old are all discussed

Eddie-cat is beside me, yelling that he has not been fed to the full quota for a gentleman cat of certain years.  

(this photo is obviously from Christmas rather than today.  This is his "nothing to look at here" pose as he dreams of days when that red bauble would be far more enticing)


He was lying, of course, with a half-bowl of food disregarded because it was on the wrong side of the bowl.

I, his slave, turned his bowl around for him.




I watched a video on Facebook recently that really made me think about various conversations that I have had with my mother over the years in regard to technology.

My mum was a pioneer in computers in our region, really.  We had a computer in the early 80s that was the same prices as a small car and you needed to park it to switch in on or off.

I was blessed with her genes, and cursed too - for I get to watch my future at times.

I love my mum to pieces, and sometimes she is akin to her own mother, the lovely Marty, who made us all laugh with her antics.

One Saturday morning she rang me with a curious problem.

Her computer screen display was upside down.


She is a lady "old enough to be my mother" whose cataracts at the time were no longer cateracting as best they ought, whose growing distrust of the industry spawning the inbuilt longevity-issues with her technology choices (with good, and well-delivered tales of plausibility) - and NOW with a very visual "take that" from the Universe - so she rang me over the landline to discuss solutions.

This was an interesting problem from my point of view, mainly because (a) I could only advise based on the information that she was able to give me, and (b) knowing that technology EXISTS - BASIC technology exists whereby she could have SHOWN me the problem and I could have possibly offset the frustration of having to describe to her what she had to do IN REVERSE and MIRROR TEXT - but of course, hindsight is 2020.

(And yes, welcome to the first, and only, 2020 joke of the year.  We will now resume normal transmission)

and (c) then you have to convert it to Windows 7.

Anyhow, Mum, Ronny Chieng's mum isn't as awesome as you.  I am sure that I would hold state secrets.

(Oh, and he probably - okay, he does, he swears.  I agree, there is too much gratuitous swearing these days - yes, those days too but not the same and not as much.)

(But he is funny.)

 





I don't know how it got to this, but Paris is now 10 years old and part of her wants to be a You Tuber.  

We who must be obeyed are not so enamoured of that idea as she is...

She is also getting to an age where the more not enamoured her parents are to an idea, 
the more she wants to argue about clinging to that idea 

and so to offset that we pretend not to be even noticing or flinching when she brings up the concept 

desparately hoping that any slight cessation of hounding either means 

  • she is over this particular phase 
  • OR she too is foxing her disdain to offset our disdain to counteract - well, you get the picture (or maybe you need a diagram)

The worst bit is, there are moments in the marvellous clamours and defense strategies of this child that are sharp well-defined memories of myself at that age.

I had a bit of a reputation for being always up for an argument.

But it took me years to perfect the art-form and how to make it work in real life.

And I want to impart the knowledge that I have gained so she can shortcut all the fruitless arguments in her future...

and all she wants to do is to argue with me.

And I will give her this.

She is gooo-ood.

Its not all arguing, though.  She also negotiates.


Last night, she discovered that Mummy had accessed the leftover Christmas goodies, and put aside two small chocolates to reward herself with post the "sitting outside the bedroom door and avoid coversations raised by a 10 year old and hopefully BORE HER to sleep" labour of love.

She DEMANDED that I sign an IOU ON THE SPOT - that she be given a chocolate the next morning from the stash.  She grabbed a tissue and, without even unfolding it, took a pen and WROTE OUT AN IOU - with space for me to sign and for her to witness my signature.

I signed, of course.  It saved an argument.

What was the FIRST THING that she did on waking this morning?

Presented me with my IOU.

The worst thing is, those two bits of chocolate?


Disappointing. 

(Mmm - but the one I had just then was pretty good actually.  Note to self.  Brown wrapper.)




Happy new year all.  Its been a big one so far.  How about you?

Friday, August 02, 2019

Tooth Fairy

Paris lost another tooth tonight.  The whole tooth fairy business seems to go in waves, and we have been caught somewhat offguard by this third round.  Just when I think I nearly have a handle on this whole motherhood gig, another sideways kneecapping.  Darned Imposter Syndrome!

The new job is going wonderfully well.  Still pinching myself.

There is one downside of my job, however, is the very dry but daily awareness that there are people out there having less than stellar things going on in their lives.

But then, there are diamonds and there are stones everywhere, it seems.

Paris' week, however, has had its fantastic moments - and those in the not so fantastic realm.

She told me tonight about some of the things that may be connected to her bad dreams in the last few nights.

She feels so deeply sometimes.

(Hey, she is now 9 - there are still some things that she feels shallowly or not at all.

This is one of the "fantastic" things she has brought home from school this week -



)

The currency in TF land has had its highs and lows over the years (sometimes fuelled by the guilt of tardiness)

And the cover has been blown for longer than she has been alive.

The tooth that fell out tonight was a pretty interesting one.  Whether through natural wear of the movement of position that braces and headgear have wrought, it wasn't as smooth, or indeed as molarish as one would have expected.  And I hope that she will be chuffed that TF recognised this.  And I hope that she knows that TF is on her side toon.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Day (I) Went South... OR How to buy the world's most expensive bra (Part Three)

"But...the BRA Jeanie!!!! The BRA!!!!" lamented Debby (quite rightly)

Yes, indeed, I did eventually get to the emporium of shopping splendours (getting there from here and then here).

Big Smoke is a little city with BIG pretensions.  You can walk into the city centre across bridges that span the river, you can marvel at the prolificity of electric scooters (yes, I know - I thought I had just made it up too!), you can gasp at the ever developing high-rise - and then you can get SMACKED in the face by commerce.

One of the oldest cash extraction businesses in the Queen Street Mall is Myer - it is heroically battling against the threat of online shopping by producing up to four glossy catalogs of specials at any one time, and from the aggressive spray pitch of the perfumiers on entry through the snooty disdain of the purveyors of purses to the racks and racks of back-racking stilettos, it is all about getting the whole merchandising experience.

Readers, I am weak - not for spending, but for oxygen in such environments, and after a mad dash through the three levels of shopping opportunities I was heartily glad of the friendly face of the escalator usher who gave me the stack and suggested I peruse them elsewhere and come back with a plan of attack.

Luckily one of the great leaps forward in the last 30 years has been the proximity of food courts to shopping experiences, and there was a stall that offered Miso Soup (a way of life lifeline when fasting) and a hidden nook where I could look at a green (of the plant kind) wall and pretend I wasn't in the middle of chaos.

The first glossy brochure offered lifestyles, and with a starting price about 6 times the figure of my voucher it was readily discarded.

The second was offered food preparation wonders -and even with up to 40% off, I would have had to eat the brochure to get any benefit.

The third was beauty products, and if there is one thing that I a frugal on, its self-care.  I think that there was next to no overlap between my willingness to part with currency and their willingness to part with product in that equation.

The fourth did offer the line that their were specials galore to be had in the cash and frippery carrying department.

From the title of this (and the last two) episodes, we know I was in the market for lingerie, but my need for a handbag and/or wallet is up there vying hard too.  The last three handbags I have received have been from Queen Jeanie next door, as apparently I am completely incapable of looking at a handbag and thinking "that looks nice" - something that relatives of hers are really good at, so she always has an over-(to her mind)abundance.  I also have issues with the feelings of wallets that cost more than they are ever going to be required to carry, so the possibility of their being a choice that MIGHT offer something in my range AND marked down enough that I don't have to consider its sensitivities was a possibility.

I also regarded the map and contemplated exit routes so if I were overwhelmed again, I could get out of Dodge.

Plan of attack formed, I re-entered the domain at the door closest too the bag section - and I perused and did the maths of 20% off this or 33% off that for a good twenty minutes before I admitted 100% defeat.  The good news is that the attendants for this area had done their maths much quicker and worked out I was not a valid customer and didn't bother to harass me.

Luckily it was only escalator ride and a hard left to the bra section after that and the escalator usher gave me reassurance on my way.

I have to thank the deity of the bra section that a young assistant was on that day who, seeing my look of confusion and threat of tears, took me in hand.

Remember the dragon who was your first ever bra fitter who insisted on snapping the elastic and reefing the support straps?

Apparently someone has taught a new generation of persuaders.  She was kind and considerate.  She didn't AUDIBLY gasp when she saw my "good" bra (although she couldn't stop the shudder) and she sized up my requirements and inability to spend big.

She knew from my demeanour that my threshold was one, so she bought me one bra to try - and it fit, and it jiggled into place (following her directions - did you know the jiggle forward, slide sides in, jiggle up routine?  I learned).

She worked out a discount that I could apply for that would bring my bra purchase under the gift card budget - and did not demur when I suggested that the remainder all go towards the charity of choice they are forced to beg for at transaction time.

And there it was.  My free bra.  Only costing me a whole day and several hundred dollars, but the best darned thing of the whole experience.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Day (I) Went South... OR How to buy the world's most expensive bra (Part Two)

So where was I?  Oh yes, finally on the train.  (Pre-train saga here)

As I said, there were good moments.  One good moment was realising that the movie playing on the tiny screens on the ceiling was one that I had heard via audiobook earlier in the year, so I got to enjoy that.

Got to big smoke - remember this line - "I am talking printed out instructions on the THREE buses that would be required to get me from the train station to the hospital within the timeframe of WHEN THE TRAIN WAS DUE TO ARRIVE and WHEN THE APPOINTMENT WAS SET FOR.  We are talking a time gap of 65 minutes.  The three bus option would have taken forty-eight minutes - slower, admittedly, than the thirty-seven minute two bus combination that required a 758m WALK at the end of it."

I had worked out that I could sprint down the main thoroughfare, catch a bus 2 minutes after the train arrived, swap buses at a bus station 5 minutes away, swap buses a third time at another bus station and then walk 150m to get to where my specialist appointment was with 10 minutes to spare.

I had not factored in the rebuild that they were doing at the station at the other end.

Luckily a work colleague mentioned that it might be less stress to just grab a cab ('Salina's Dad and uncles were cabbies, and too many friends were in that industry for me ever to consider Uber) and, as the train station was undergoing this massive renovation, it was a good 5 minutes wandering through work zones with no signage before I found where the "courtesy bus" to the bus station (and luckily, where a cab could find me).

Another bright-side of my day was the cabbie, who had just dropped his kids at school, who had lived in the street of the hospital, who had lived in Big Smoke for 10 years and loved it and who was a very pleasant companion for the drive.  His family had been recently visited by cancer - his little sister was undergoing treatment "back home" and had lost a large percentage of her bodyweight but "praise god" looked to be recovering.  He only got to see his family every two years, when he went back to visit.  He was very fortunate to be able to help his family so much by being over here.  I can understand that.

I finally found the specialist rooms - through a multi-level carpark with lifts that had constuction zone plastic and hand-written signs as "the floors above were still being built".  Big Smoke is evidently a work in progress.

The specialist appointment was a bust.  Basically got told that they couldn't test me for anything unless I spent a fortune and here are the ways that I could spend that fortune.  Relatives who HAD been previously diagnosed with cancer could spend a lower fortune to find out, and here is how that news would impact descendents at a lower fortune again - and with a codicil of a possible fortune in insurance repercussions.  Pay the girls a small fortune on the way out.

Ugh.

Yep.

Ugh.

Lose 40% of the weekly income, hand over another sizeable percentage to be told - nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  Less than expletive deleted zero...

Thoroughly deflated, I realised I had HOURS to get back to the train station to ride it home in the afternoon.  But I really wasn't up to enjoying the delights of Big Smoke. 

For a start, I had very little money on me, and Big Smoke does appreciate money.

Secondly, I was on a fast day - so no eating my feelings!

I found a bus stop to wait for the "every 10 minutes" courtesy bus to take me to a bus station.  For the first 10 minutes I waited patiently.  The next 10 perhaps less patiently.  Then I thought "this is an opportunity to contact sister-outlaw" who lives in Big Smoke but I wasn't sure I would be able to catch up with.  So I rang her.  8 minutes into our phone call, the bus came - and the driver was very pointed in how rude I was to be on the phone - unfortunately for him, I had run out of spare expletive-deleteds to give about this situation, because I considered this phone call to be therapeutic.

Big Smoke continued to give.  Twelve years ago I wrote of leafblowers - I am still of the same mindset.  The bus station had one being wielded by a master in the martial art of screwing with your serenity, and he actually managed to corral all would be commuters to the very end of the platform with his officious blowering.  He was so good at it, I think he must have been working on some sort of bonus system.

This led to me diving on the first available bus towards the city.  The bus was standing room only - and with my backpack my standing room was facing the wrong way.  I got a good view of the cement walls of the bus way and then freeway, with a framing of very dour faces all barreling into the heartless centre of Big Smoke.

Readers, it broke me.  I had to escape - the first stop that bus made was the stop that I got off, because I knew that I was very brittle and it wouldn't take much to plunge me into the pit of despair at that point.

I needed caffiene.

I needed care.

I needed kindness.

Instead, I found a public art gallery, which had a coffee shop, quiet space and a chance to just be for a while.

Once loins were girded and caffiene levels topped up, I ventured out again with A PLAN.  I had four more hours in Big Smoke and one voucher - and I was going to go into the Shopping Emporium and  REDEEM...