Why We Relay

My mother-in-law’s Relay (the one in the area she lives, she actually runs several) was last night.  We tried to hurry over there after work, but we weren’t sure where it was as it was in a new location.  Once we found it, the rain dropped out of the sky like someone was pouring a gigantic bucket over us.  We caught the shuttle bus and made it through the worst of it.  Once my husband registered as a survivor, we started looking for his mother.  Her phone was dead, so we couldn’t call… it’s usually pretty easy to pick her out of a crowd.

She saved us the trouble and rolled up on the back of a very big ATV with a trailer attached to it.  She yelled out to my husband, “do you want to fire the cannon?”  Of course he does, he’s a red-blooded male.  So, we’re off on the ATV trailer, through the crowds, getting bits of mud and lots of sprinkly rain all over us.  We make it to the cannon and all that good business happens.  They intend to fire it after the Opening Ceremonies, but it misfires, so we go for during the Survivor Lap instead.


The cannon acts like a giant smoke grenade and bombs the area with thick, white smoke.  The survivors continue on undaunted and we join in once they begin to pass us.  Once we finish the lap, mother-in-law is waiting for us at the end.  We follow her around for a bit until some friends show up (they were at last year’s relay, too) so we hang out with them.  They just had a baby recently, but she’s safe with her great aunt for the time being.

My father-in-law is present, as always, only this time he’s with his business and he’s selling deep fried oreos.  Eugh, no thanks!  My husband and our friends try some.  We get tons of funny pictures, including my husband and one friend posing with a mammogram sign.

Many, many, many laps and laughs later, it’s getting pretty late and our friends depart.  We go back to hang with mother-in-law and close out the night at around 10 or so.  We didn’t get home and settled until around 11, where we promptly had a bath to wash off the copious amounts of grime and relax our tired muscles.  I went to bed before 12, I was so tired!  Work had been busy, I helped clean the evidence processing garage and they had me doing a lot of running.


Before the move, I volunteered pretty heavily with my mother-in-law for the American Cancer Society.  In part, I did so because of my husband, but also because… I liked it.  When I first moved down here, my mother-in-law slowly introduced me to her world and I was engrossed.  I followed her around and did everything I could do to help, completely unpaid but fulfilled.  I miss it terribly and things like this just remind me all the more of how I wish I could still be there, helping.

Events like this always remind me of the better things in life.  My husband may drive me insane sometimes, but I love him and am constantly thankful for him.  I am a better person because of him and I think he’s a better person because of me, too… not that he needed much help to begin with in some areas.

My husband is a very kind and giving soul, even if he tries to hide it.  It’s small things, things that you wouldn’t notice until you’re really looking for them.  At work, one of his coworkers had a sister-in-law who survived a brain tumor.  Her sister-in-law was raising money through facebook and my husband overheard the conversation between his coworker and her sister-in-law on the phone.  Without saying a word, he found her on facebook and donated money.  His coworker caught him in the act and tried to convince others to do the same.  They said they would, but they didn’t.

We had a collection at work for one of our janitors who is retiring.  He’s a old, friendly man and I am very grateful for the help he’s given me.  I went upstairs to tell my husband to give some money, but he beat me to it.  One of his coworkers was collecting donations.  Her hand was filled with ones, but he gave her a ten.  She looked kind of surprised and said thanks and continued on.  I didn’t even need to say anything, he barely knew the guy, but was still prepared to part with hard-earned money to get him a parting gift.

I saw the money in her hand and noted how little there was, my husband didn’t notice until after he had already given her his donation.  When he saw this, he looked kind of sad, “I should have given a little more…”

Tired and Restless

I had every intention of posting something while I was still in Pennsylvania.  I guess time just got ahead of me.  For once, the week didn’t pass too quickly… things were pretty slow the first few days and then they picked up as the week went on.  I spent plenty of time with my grandparents and my dad.  I was actually thankful that my dad was willing to spend time with me.  Usually he acts like he’s just too busy and it’s a pain to make time.  Seriously, these are the parents I deal with.  We won’t even go into how I only saw my mother twice the entire time I was up there.

It’s weird to think about how much has changed since last year at this time.  It isn’t just that my parents have split up and that my family dynamic has changed, either… I’ve changed.  I didn’t really cry this time when we left or even have the urge to, despite hating the fact that I had to leave my grandma.  I really wish I could see them more than I do.  As for the place itself, I guess I have some roundabout connection to it, but its nothing like it was.  In the back of my mind, I know there’s something there… but it seems relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things.  I never thought I’d feel so apathetic about the place I spent the first twenty-one years of my life.

Surprisingly, we only have one bout of drama.  One… that has to be a record.  Of course, it involved mum.  I finally went into the attic and retrieved dad’s beloved, collectable ornaments for his favorite football team.  He spent a lot of money on them.  Anyway, she had said I could do it multiple times and then, decided, that I couldn’t.  She stormed over to my grandparents house and was going to try and take them.  My husband and I were both sitting there with my grandma.  She started yelling and I did what I always do–I just spoke calmly to her.  If you yell back she just gets louder and it upsets my grandma even more.  I’ve warned my husband not to interfere, but he’s seen her do this all the time and got fed up.  So he stood up and told her to get her drunken ass out of the house, now.

Now, my reaction wasn’t what you’d expect… it certainly wasn’t what I’d expected, either.  I just felt this rush of something.  My mum and I are not fond friends, we’re barely even acquaintances anymore.  The sheer fact that she pushed my grandma makes me want to choke her.  However, she is my mother, whether I like it or not and she wasn’t always this fire-breathing beast of insanity.  I stopped everything, very quickly.  I got her calmed down and out of the house.  I told my husband not to do that again.  I told him it was because it was my problem and I’d deal with it… but in reality?  It’s because I’ll probably backhand him and not because I directly want to.  I’m just insanely protective of my family.  Inner-family fighting is fine, but anytime an outsider gets involved, it’s just not good.  I’d never directly involve myself in his family’s conflict… so I’d like it if he kind of stayed out of ours.  I appreciate his meaning behind the action and everything, but… it just doesn’t work out the way you’d like it to in those types of situations.

All in all, it was a good visit.  It feels weird to return.  I liked not having to spend all my free moments worrying about the internet or finding some form of socialization on it.  I enjoyed talking to my various family members and getting to spend time with them.  I miss them, especially now… alone again and on the internet.  Eventually, I’ll break this cycle, find something else to do… hopefully.

I did find out something interesting digging through my old stuff, though.  A report card from kindergarten… it stated that my teacher was happy I was able to do things without friends.  Apparently, I’ve been a loner since given the option…

I Have a Heart That’s Made of Wood

I was talking to a friend online earlier and was struck with the sudden realization that my family truly doesn’t know me at all.  We were discussing facebook and I had said that I wished to keep my family as out of my “online activities” as possible.  I have a few on there, but they were guilt adds.  My cousin, however, promised to let me know when my grandma was in ill health because she refuses to tell me, she doesn’t want me to worry so far away.  Besides, she’s my cousin and I would have added her anyway, I actually like her.

Anyway, it struck me as odd.  I wasn’t a terribly social child or teen, most of my times were spent with my family.  I was always with them and surrounded by them, so how is it possible they hardly know me at all?  If you were to ask them, “what are her hobbies?” I’d be very interested to see what they’d say.  They probably wouldn’t even know where to begin or would just throw something like reading out there.  I do enjoy reading and that’s thanks to my mother and father.  My mother was very adamant about teaching me early and my dad always got me involved with the library child classes that gave rewards for reading certain amounts of books monthly.  I’ve been an avid reader ever since and was always several grade levels higher than my peers.  It was one of my first hobbies.  Still, they wouldn’t say that because of actual knowledge, but just because they know I bought books at some point when I was with them.

They have no idea that I write.  I’ve been writing for a long, long time both on my own and with my cousin.  We were big on imagination as children.  We had imaginary games that had sweeping story arcs and lasted years.  I miss those days, they were probably my happiest times, completely immersed and lost in a world that didn’t exist but was truly grand.  It was a joint effort and is very much responsible for my imagination not dwindling with age, but growing.

It would be easy to blame my family for lack of interest, but that’s not it at all.  I remember getting awards and hiding them away, sometimes even throwing them out.  I was so keen on hiding my activities.  I have no idea why.  Even when I was in high school (home school), I was required to do a few creative writing projects.  Several of those cases ended with the teachers wanting to keep my work.  My father and my grandfather were right there, but I remember playing it off, making it seem like less of an accomplishment than it was.  I’ve done this with everything, I realize now.

I was in band, I played clarinet.  My parents even bought me one!  It all started in fourth grade and continued until the beginning of seventh grade.  I was pretty good, but my music teacher was terrible.  I was pretty close to the best if not the best of my section.  I did things on stage, in front of everyone, including solos.  Still, I downplayed it, I made it seem like it was nothing and unimportant.  It’s really interesting to think about now… I’d never even realized it.  I remember craving some sort of affirmation, but never understanding why I failed to get it.  Now I think I know, because I was sabotaging myself.

I love music, I always have.  It’s a big part of why I was big in band and chorus (until my voice changed).  Reading music seemed natural to me.  I’m not much of a musical snob, though.  I love most everything, except the repackaged crap they are selling to us now.  Most recent music sucks in ways I can’t even begin to explain, but I digress.  My parents are to thank for this, surrounding me with music.  My mother watched MTV religiously, my dad listened to all kinds of garage bands, metal, and rock.  They loved punk, they went to concerts, they took me to concerts when I was too young to go.  They never censored music, they never made it “age appropriate”, it just simply was.  Still, they don’t know my tastes.  I would deny I liked anything.  I would say it was all terrible to their faces and then secretly steal their CDs and play them until they wore out.

I think it’s because I’m naturally a very secretive person.  I like my hobbies to be mine.  I’m very much lost in my own little world sometimes, forgetting that other people exist around me.  It’s not selfish so much as it is just a lack of connection.  I can read people, I can listen to them, but to actually feel a genuine connection?  It’s incredibly rare.  Usually they’re just scenery or placeholders.  I’ve been mistreated quite a bit by my peers and others, so it’s likely a learned behavior.

I wasn’t being malicious when I was keeping my family in the dark, I was just protecting myself.  Writing is still a very, very soft spot for me and the only person I’ve really come out to was my cousin.  I’ve shown her entire stories and even went so far as to show her some of my stuff that’s online and public.  She’s really been the only one to see the fruits of my labor, but as children, we were very close and hardly ever separate.  I have a connection to her and have no issue defending her or rationalizing her actions.  We didn’t always get along, but that was mutual fault, not just one or the other.  Our family situation certainly didn’t help any, what with our mothers constantly flipping from being at war to at peace to back at war.  They tried to keep us apart and would say mean things about the other to poison our minds, but it never worked.

I think I could go on to publish and my family would still be oblivious.  I think that if I ever actually got any notoriety, they’d be puzzled and confused.  They would say things like, “I never knew she wrote” or “when did she pick up that hobby?”  It’s interesting, to have people so close to you and yet so distant, too.  I tend to do that to everyone, I think.  I’ve all but given up on genuine connections, my husband had to force me to see him.

In some ways, it makes me feel sad and alone, but in other ways, I feel protected.  They won’t know my failures, my missteps, my doubts.  I guess that’s what it comes down to… I’m always trying to prepare for “if I fail”, I never really think about succeeding.

Fuck Yes, Christmas!

You know, I’ve kind of figured out that if you want a good Christmas present, you’ve got to get it yourself.  I think my parents taught me this when I provided concrete evidence that Santa was a lie and gave my list of demands.  My parents gave a collective sigh of relief and from then on, each Christmas was preceded by a shopping trip to Hills or whatever had a huge toy aisle, with me filling the cart with my heart’s shallow desires, all to be put on layaway for Christmas day.

So, yeah, Christmas stopped being a surprise around the time I was seven.  It took me that long to catch my parents “holding the bag”, so to speak.  And now, as an adult, I’ve found that again… if I want a banging Christmas present, I have to pretty much outline it, in immense detail, to the husband… or buy the damned thing myself.

I’ve been lusting over these for months.  They were ridiculously expensive, but have since gone on sale.  Now they are on their way to me, my lovely Christmas pretties.

We got $200 from each set of grandparents and I just used mine. One might ask, “why didn’t you use that money for one of the five cavities you currently have–two which will require root canals and expensive caps to replace your surfaces?”

To those naysayers, I will simply say, are you fucking insane?  Fuck cavities–BOOTS!

Sorry, folks, the cavities are only the tip of the iceberg.  Collectively, $600 to fix, BUT I also have $800 a tooth afterwards, on six or seven teeth.  It’s moot point, never going to happen.  So I don’t fucking care anymore.

Title Divine is Mine

Last week at this time, we were at my grandparents house in Pennsylvania.  It seems so weird, that time passes by so quickly.  The husband and I both agreed, the visit seemed to go by extremely fast.  Of course, we spent it juggling people like a clown juggles balls at a circus.  It’s annoying and I’m quite outspoken about it, too.  Ever since my parents split, it’s as if my family has fractured down the center and now I’m pulled all different ways.  I’m used to everything being very all-inclusive, going to one place and having my entire family there.  Now I’m forced to run all over the town seeking them out.  Shouldn’t I be the one penciling them in and not the other way around?  My dad is seriously bad about this.

I was only in my former home once and for a brief amount of time.  My cat is there and as much as I love her, we’ve passed that point of forlorn looks and fly-by-night meetings.  We have different lives.  I’ll always love her, but things change, people change, animals change.  Kia is the only thing there that ever truly wanted me back, barking and knowing my presence before anyone else.  When I knocked and was met with silence, I gave my husband a sad look and said, “no barking.”  I cried on the way in, the highway we use passes by the road she was hit on.  Perhaps the worst part of this all is the not knowing, not really being sure if it was really an accident or not.

Being with my grandparents was nice.  As much as I love my dad, seeing and being with my grandparents is truly what makes the visit.  I spent the better part of my life with them, in their embrace, in their constant and scrutinizing gaze.  My own inability to give up, my stubborness to simply survive and the nuturing love they gave me are the only reasons I am still here, still breathing, and somewhat sane, despite it all.  I love just sitting with them, in the kitchen I’ve known all my life.  Just sitting, nothing more, sitting and breathing air that I’ve always known.  It’s a familiarity I can’t part with and when forced from me, I’m not sure what I’ll do.  Seeing their faces, stricken and uncertain, when we leave reassures me that always in my visits, they will come first.  My family may mistreat me, they may negate my importance, but all is not always as it seems.  I try to explain this to the husband, but it’s a bit too late.  He really only knows of the bad and there’s plenty of that.

I sat in their living room and looked around.  I imagined boxing up and putting away items and lamps that had been out for my entire life.  Morbid thoughts, reality settling in as I see them wither and decay before my very eyes.  I could turn away, not look, ignore everything and just simply run free… but I can’t.  It would hurt too much, to let them go, and so I linger.  It’s coming, I know this, faster than I can fathom, quicker than I’d desire.  Imagining life without them seems… so bizarre.  Always, always they have been there, my grandfather the tether that holds my entire family together.

Everytime I’m there, I commit it to memory.  I want to remember everything, where everything is; the way it smells; the way the floor creaks in the hallway when you step towards the bathroom; the way my grandparents room is always cold, even in the summertime, despite the endless amount of windows.  I want to close my eyes and know that when they’re gone, they’re with me eternally.

Each year is another step forward, a move towardsthe inevitable and I cannot fight it.