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I’ve just finished two long weekends in a row. For Christmas, I had four lovely days off. For New Year, three. Christmas Eve was a lovely lazy day at home until about 6 or so, then off to Katie’s to spend a few hours and do her traditional appetizer dinner. Christmas Day, Scott and I woke up when we wanted to, opened our presents from our parents and each other, and enjoyed a leisurely morning, before heading to Katie’s. Katie had to work, so we weren’t in a hurry. Originally, I wasn’t supposed to do anything other than put the food in the oven for her. Tom, apparently, wanted her to cook. Either that was true, or Katie didn’t want to ‘fess up and tell me she just didn’t want me cooking. A few days before Christmas, however, she asked me to make the green bean casserole and broccoli casserole. Reality was beginning to dawn on her, I guess. :) Working and cooking a feast on the same day isn’t easy to do, after all. She insisted she’d make everything else, though.

Well, around 1pm, I put the turkey in the oven. Katie called and said she’d be home in an hour. The bird was still sorta frozen on the inside. I know this, because yes, I DID stick my hand down in there to make sure I got everything out. The neck came out, along with frozen, bloody ice. I rinsed, I stuck my hand inside. I felt around. I controlled my gag reflex (I HATE the smell and feel of raw meat). I dumped the bird upside down, then right side up. Ran water through the cavity, and figured – okay. No guts. Odd, but alright. AFTER cooking, we found the paper bag of guts. Inside the bird. IT WASN’T THERE BEFORE COOKING. I swear it wasn’t.

Besides, according to Katie’s plan, the bird should have ready to pop in the oven. So, NOT MY FAULT. Right?

Anyway, I prepared the turkey, got it in the oven. Figured – hour before she gets home? Okay, I’ll go ahead and prep my two side dishes. I get that done. I wait. And wait. Katie calls and asks if I can go ahead and prep the squash casserole, too. I do that, and wait some more. And a bit more. Finally, I figure the turkey HAS to be done. It had been cooking an hour longer than Katie estimated it should. The ham would take two hours to cook, so I decided to get the turkey out, put the ham in. In case you haven’t figured it out yet – it’s been much longer than the one hour Katie told me when she called after I first got there. :)

Boils down to this: I made everything for the Christmas Day feast except the mashed potatoes, ambrosia, and the pecan pies. Believe me, I don’t mind doing the cooking. I like cooking for others! I just find it highly amusing that ‘Tom wants me to cook,’ so easily became me cooking and Tom not making one comment or snarky remark about it.

Oh, and the turkey? Turned out gooood. :)
gypsyanna: (Default)
I am so angry, I cannot focus on work. I really need to, because it’s the last week of the month. I have a lot to do. Unfortunately my mind keeps shearing off to return to a path it’s been trampling since last night.

Family. It used to mean something. It used to be that family was the one guarantee in life you could count on. They were the people that, when you got in trouble, would be there to help you. They would be the first on their way, to lend a hand, to make an effort.

When did that change? Before I was born, certainly. And I am so very tired of living, behaving, believing in a concept that no one else in my ‘family’ believes in, except for my brother.

Scott is an assistant manager at Burger King. He works long hours. It’s an industry that will be open on Thanksgiving and Christmas. If not the days themselves, then before and after, which means Scott can’t go anywhere for the holidays. It would be wrong for managers in these industries to ask their employees to work when they themselves refuse. That’s my own principle, and one that Scott agrees with. So Scott can’t go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas. If our future plans work out, in a few years we’ll have our own business and I won’t be able to go home for the holidays, either. Our niece Lauren is now at the age where she’s working a job that won’t let her have the holidays off either.

I’ve spent Thanksgiving and Christmas alone before. No family around me, no way to get to them. It’s sad, depressing, and heartbreaking. Most of the time, I wouldn’t even get a phone call from anyone. The holidays are supposed to be a time of family, so when you can’t be with them – it hurts.

This time, however, we live close enough that I thought it was time to start a new tradition: a holiday family gathering that combines Thanksgiving and Christmas, half-way between the two. Scott would be able to get a weekend off, and while I might miss a day or two of work and Katie would need to take a vacation day or two from work, we’d have time for all of us to gather together and be together to celebrate the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas could be celebrated individually, in the family traditions each are forming, but we’d still have our own special time with the parents, kids, grandkids all together. We could have the Thanksgiving feast, and exchange the gifts we’d gotten for each other, between those of us who wouldn’t be seeing each other Christmas morning. Like, Scott and I would give Codie, Austin, Mom, Dad, and Beth their gifts, and they’d give us ours. But Scott and I would wait until Christmas morning to give Katie, Tom, Lauren, Zach, Marissa, and Brooke their gifts, and that’s when they’d give us ours. See? Holiday as a big family, but the Thanksgiving and Christmas days reserved for the smaller family units to spend together.

To do this would require a little planning. A few little sacrifices. Scott & I would have to miss a day or two of unpaid work, make sure we had all our shopping for the AR branch of the family done, pay for the gas to get there and back, and help pay for the food for the feast.

Katie and Tom would have to make sure they had the five gifts for the AR branch of the family bought, pay for the gas to drive there and back, and take a day or two of paid vacation time.

Mom, Dad, and Beth would have the larger burden of making sure their Christmas shopping for the LA branch of the family is done: that’s 8 of us. Dad would need to take a vacation day, maybe. Mom would need to cook an extra holiday feast IF she decided against spending Thanksgiving and Christmas with another branch of the family (her parents, her sister, either of my dad’s sisters, or my dad’s brother – see? They have a lot more options). And, of course, I’d be happy to do the cooking for the ‘extra’ feast.

My mother and Katie, however, feel these sacrifices are too much to be worth the effort. My mother says that my dad doesn’t want a huge dinner on the 18th, just to have another one a week later. The 18th is his scheduled day off – if no one calls in or requests vacation, which would then make him work. Katie says that if she uses a vacation day over Christmas, it will be to spend it Christmas shopping, because ‘you know how I always shop right up to the last minute…’

I’m sorry. To me, this all translates to Scott not meaning enough to them that they want to make any effort of their own to spend time during the holidays with him.
HE doesn’t qualify for vacation pay, yet. HE and I would be giving up a minimum of $100 each in lost pay for this, something none of the rest would lose. So whatever they have to do or give up for special holiday family time together, we’re doing MORE. Willingly! Happily! Because it’s important!

But they, apparently, can’t look outside their own convenience to see the bigger picture, or the message they’ve just given to Scott, and to me. He doesn’t matter. Mom says, “My son can come see me whenever he wants, and I will make sure his visit is special.” That’s bullshit, and completely outside the point. Yes, HE can come see her, but if the goal was to have a FAMILY holiday together, then what’s the point of a ‘special’ visit that includes only him? There is none.

I don’t feel like I have a family. When I need them, they’re not there. I bend over backwards to help them out when they need it. Midnight phone calls, weekend babysitting, whatever, whenever. Me? I get a car repossessed and it’s a week before I can get it back or buy another, and I can’t even get a ride home. My car won’t start, call them for help – I’m too far away for them to drive all the way to my house to jump start my car for me – even if it is the first night of class for the new college semester. “Can’t one of your neighbors help you?”

I’m expected to go visit my sister once a week, at least, or I’m asked why I don’t. I’ve lived in my house for over a year and a half, and she’s been there maybe three times – and not at all in the last year and three months. Why? Because I have cats. And she makes fun of me for it.

Family used to mean something. I wish it still did. I’m done. I’ll make Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions for myself and Scott, and the rest of ‘em can celebrate their holidays without me. If I and my brother aren’t important to them, then they damn sure aren’t important to me and I am simply going to stop trying.
gypsyanna: (Default)
Yesterday started out early.  My nephew and my niece both had baseball games.  Zach's was at 8am at Tinsley Park.  Marissa's was at 9:30am at a different, but nearby park.  Zach had his second game at 11:30am.  My sister had to work today, and my brother in law is an assistant coach for Zach's team.  So I was up and out early to watch a bit of his first game, then I took Marissa to her scrimmage.  Then back to watch Zach's second game.  My sister decided to cook out tonight, and my brother came over after work.  All three of us were together when we got the call.

My parents and my younger sister live in northeast AR/southeast MO, within about 10 miles of each other.  My sister had a fight with her husband this afternoon, and drove off in a fit of anger.  She went too fast down gravel roads, in a town so small that they've only got one paved road.  Okay, that might be an exaggeration.  Or not.  But that's how it's been described to me.

Never drive when you are angry.  NEVER.  My sister (Beth) spun out and flipped her car multiple times.  It took thirty minutes for her to be extracted.  She was flown to the nearest trauma hospital, in Cape Girardeau, MO.  That's about 97 miles from Cooter, MO, where she lives.  She's now en route to Barnes*Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, which is a level 1 trauma hospital.

She has a grade 1 liver laceration.  Translation: a small cut on her liver that will heal just fine on its own.

She has a laceration on her head that required 12 staples.  Because of that, they're keeping her on minimal painkillers.  They have to monitor her and make sure there are no brain injuries that take time to present.

She has numerous scrapes and contusions. 

Those are the minor injuries.

She also has multiple fractures on her pelvis, which is why she's being relocated to Barnes*Jewish.  Apparently no one likes messing with the pelvis.  She has an acetabellum fracture.  That's apparently a fracture on the ball that goes into the pelvis.  She has several thoracic compression fractures, in T8, T10, and T12.  She also has a burst fracture at L1, and it's impinging on her spinal cord.

Good news: she's neurologically intact, hemodynamically stable, and breathing on her own.  What that means is she's not gushing blood from anywhere and she can move her fingers and toes.  But the trauma surgeon has kept her in the C-Collar and on the backboard until she can be taken in for surgery on that burst fracture and get those bones away from her spinal cord.  Surgery on the pelvis is scheduled for tomorrow.  Surgery on her back is for later this week, I believe.

By all rights, my sister should be dead.  It's a miracle that she's not.  That girl has always had some pretty powerful guardian angels watching over her.

It's going to be a very long time before she's healed.  Our older sister, Katie, is a nurse practitioner.  She's the one who lives here.  She says that Beth will be in the hospital for several weeks, and probably be in a wheelchair for a while after she's released.

My dad is scheduled to have knee replacement surgery this week.  It's going to be in Memphis.  Beth will still be in St. Louis.  My poor mother needs a clone.

I think I'm a little in shock still.  My mom told Katie not to call our aunts and uncles.  That bothered me a lot.  I struggled with it for several hours...then considered how I'd feel if something happened to any of my nieces, or either of my nephews.  I called my aunts and uncle on my dad's side of the family.  I called my mom's brother.  The rest of her side of the family are nut jobs.  I'll let me uncle figure out when to tell my grandparents. Grandpa just came home from the hospital this week, so his health is fragile enough. 

I want to go home.  I want to spend this week with my family, so my mom won't feel like she's abandoning her husband, or her daughter.  I want to see my sister alive.  I can't go, though.  I don't have vacation time or pay at work.  I don't have money to make up for the lost time at work.  The only thing I DO have is Spring Break from school.

Maybe I'll do a hell-or-high-water trip home next weekend, for Easter.  I have a day off work, whether I want it or not. 

I don't suppose I really need to blog about this, but I need to write it out.  I need to work through the shock and fear.  I need to see, in black and white, the words that she's going to be fine. 

I want to send thank you cards to the paramedics who got her out.  If they'd been less skilled, less careful, she'd be paralyzed.  I want to thank the old woman who called in the accident and stayed with my sister until the paramedics arrived. 

Guardian angels sometimes are as human as you and me.
gypsyanna: (Default)
Now. I'm usually a supporter of parents having the right to decide what is appropriate viewing material for their own children. They know the little kiddos best, and therefore they are the best judge of that child's level of maturity.

Of course, I'm a prude in many ways. If it were left to me, the little darlings would be reading books on the level of Little House on the Prairie until they were 16, and then they could branch out to other things. I've seen some young adult novels that I thoroughly enjoyed but which broached topics I wasn't sure I wanted a 13 year old reading. But then again, those same topics are no worse than what they're finding on the 'family' sitcoms, and probably tamer, since they'd have to imagine the words into a visual whereas TV provides the visual.

However. There are limits to my support. I discovered this last night, as I was driving. I don't recall the exact conversation because the little bomb blew it clear out of my head. But it led to my 13 year old neice casually mentioning True Blood. Now, my brain automatically translates True Blood to the Sookie Stackhouse series in book form. It took a few seconds for it to dawn on me - what the hell does Codie know about True Blood? And how much does she know, to just mention it in casual conversation? Those questions were quickly answered by the realization the only way she could know anything was to have watched the show.

Then I did a stupid thing. I asked. Ignorance is bliss. Half-ignorance might drive me crazy. Knowledge drove me dumb.

Apparently, my sister thinks True Blood is a perfectly appropriate family show to sit around and watch. She, her thing she calls a husband, 13 year old Codie, and 11 year old Austin sit and watch True Blood. Together. As a family. With all the cussing, all the sex, and all the full-frontal nudity. And this is appropriate viewing material for children because, as Beth says, "They'll see it somewhere anyway."

Yes - but not for many more years yet! When they actually LOOK old enough to get into R rated movies!

I've only watched the first season of True Blood. I was greatly annoyed by the differences between the books and the show, and extremely annoyed with how badly they screwed up the Sookie Stackhouse personality. But if the following seasons were as explicit as the first season...


I have the feeling that their social worker isn't aware of what the family watches together...
gypsyanna: (Default)
My Christmas plans, unfortunately, have suffered a revision. Thanks to Marissa's brownie troop, the entire family (that being Katie, Tom, their kids, me, and Scott) were able to get tickets for the Polar Express in Palestine, TX. $40 per ticket, for the adults. At the time I bought my ticket, I didn't realize just how far away Palestine was. Or that more than half the route would be along northeast Texas' back lanes and country roads.

Very scenic, by the way. Would have been lovely to drive through in the spring or fall...when it's not raining, foggy, and otherwise dismal.

Also by the way - northeast Texas seems to be nothing but historical markers and cemeteries. I swear I saw more signs for cemeteries on Saturday afternoon than if you added up all the other times I've seen them in my life. Do people go to Texas just to die? I mean, I hadn't heard of them doing that, but where else do all the bodies come from?

Polar Express was a lot of fun. Not worth the total amount expended on it by a long shot, but the kids really enjoyed it.

Sunday, however, I found the indirect price of that little trip. The airbag on the airshock for my rear passenger side tire has apparently ruptured. Driving has now become...interesting. Speed bumps are a lot bumpier. I ain't driving my car 6.5 hours home for Christmas in this condition. The car could make it, no doubt. My tension and stress controlling the beast on the drive, however, is the deciding factor. I ain't doing it.

Now, take a guess what my mom's response was when I told her I wouldn't be coming. C'mon, now. Guess. You won't get it right. I know you won't. And when I tell you what she said, you'll kick yourself and say, "Of course that's what she'd say!"

"Well, I guess we'll just have to bring the Christmas presents at some other time, probably in February when I come for Mardi Gras. A lot of this are too heavy to ship."

That's right. Anna's Delivery Service has failed in their duty to play courier for Christmas. Not any concern that I may be driving an unsafe vehicle. The comment about being unhappy about not having me home for Christmas was tacked on towards the end of the conversation, almost like an afterthought.

Now, I've worked for a company that ships out freaking HEAVY items on a daily basis. Nothing by nothing is 'too heavy' to ship. No, it's just that she doesn't want to pay the shipping cost. The plan was, you see, that I'd take our presents for them up to AR, and bring back their presents to us. In exchange for this, Katie was going to help pay for my gas home, and Mom was going to help pay for my gas back. This wasn't my idea. If they'd asked, I'd have volunteered to play mule at no price. But when they asked, they offered to pay gas, too, and I'm not stupid. :)

Then it occurred to Katie - why did I just rent a car and go home. Um. Hello? If I could afford to rent a car for four or five days, I could afford to fix MY car right now, instead of next month. Katie's next thought: maybe we could meet halfway. Finally! A good idea.

But she doesn't have time for it, and they don't want me driving her car because, "It's not in the best of shape, it's our primary transporation, and if it breaks down, I'd rather be the one driving it instead of you. But Tom and I will give you $15 or so if you'll rent a car for the day..."

Of course, by that time Scott and I were already investigating that option. That is our plan. It's not that expensive to rent a car for a 24 hour period. The problem, of course, is that the car rental companies freeze about $300 on your account until the car is returned. That seems rather unfair to me...

But now, I'm sitting here, and I'm wondering - since when did it become MY responsibility to ensure that presents got where they needed to go for Christmas? I mean, I planned to go home for Christmas so I could see my grandparents. You know - the old folks, the ones in their 80's, that I haven't seen in a year. As a courtesy, a favor, I was hauling gifts, too, because I had the room and it was no biggie. Now I don't get to see my grandparents until I don't know when and it's my responsibility to play Santa. How the hell did that happen? ::confused::

Oh, well. At least my dad liked the idea and is inclined to make the effort to meet halfway. He's already chosen where we can meet. He just needs to see if he's working this weekend, or not, before we know if it's a go. I think he's going to be sad, though, when he sees it's only me meeting with him and Mom. Everyone else is 'too busy' or have other plans: Katie's busy, Tom is Tom, Zach has wrestling, and Marissa has a play.

I really don't feel much in the Christmas Spirit this year. And I need to find something HAPPY to post in LJ. Life truly isn't as dull, irritating, or infuriating as it would seem if one just goes by my posts here! :)
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I hate when someone says they're doing something, and so you make plans. And then they say they're NOT doing it, so you cancel the plans. And then they say they ARE doing it and you're then screwed because you already canceled your vacation request and someone else in the department has already decided to request that same period of time for vacation so you CAN'T request it again.

It's a simple thing. Make a decision. Stay by that decision. I wasn't entirely understanding of my dad's logic when he said he wasn't going to the family reunion when my uncle was diagnosed with cancer. I mean, they live close enough that they can visit before or after at any time and it wouldn't be a hardship to either, so how did the family reunion factor in? But dad said he wasn't going and he was pretty firm on that, so I cancelled my two-week vacation that I'd already been planning for several months. I didn't bother buying a plane ticket, either, since now there was no rush to get home. Beth, after all, has married Mistake #2, and so I can plan a visit home when airfare is more kind and my schedule is less busy.

And now, today, my dad says, "Family reunion is on again! Are you going to come?" And my mom is saying, "Of course she can't come, Lewis. She has school and she can't afford it!" Um. Okay. How about I get to answer this question??

To make things oh-so-nicer, some of my relatives have booked the Cottage - the six room little house with kitchen and backyard at Budget Lodging that I had tried to get for MY family back in March. That was a fiasco. I reported the guy to the Better Business Bureau. Now my dad will want to stay at that place and I simply refuse. We'll stay at the other hotel, thank you very much, and my dad will agree to that if he wants me there. That's MY condition.

Now I've got to figure out the whole how-to-get-to-the-airport problem, and what to do with the cats, and whether I should fly in to Memphis and drive to St. Louis with my folks, or fly into St. Louis and rent a car. God knows no one will want to meet me at the Memphis airport in the evening, but that may be my one chance to meet Beth's Mistake #2 - if they're still in Blytheville, that is.

Time to play with Expedia....


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June 2012



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