‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Thursday, November 29, 2012

My very first public reading!

Just when 2012 was on the verge of ending without anything truly thrilling happening, I was invited to read at a fundraiser. It was a benefit for Lower Cape Outreach Council's Fuel Assistance Program, which helps our friends and neighbors stay warm in the winter (by burning my stories).

This was the first time I read something of my own in public* and I have to say, audience response is wildly addictive. Pausing for people to stop laughing is my new favorite thing.

I was also terrified, but that goes without saying. I am Perpetually Terrified.

I'm sorry if I ruin the Nutcracker, Christmas and strippers for you.  These things happen.

*I've read at lots of weddings, but they never seem to want me to use my own material. Can you imagine?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving - the real version

I have deliberated for days whether to share this or not. On the one hand, it's totally airing my family's undergarments. On the other hand, I know we're not alone in this and maybe, just maybe, it will help someone.

No one actually wants to hear about your Thanksgiving when they ask how it was, so I've been going around saying it was great. Which is completely not true.

In the pro column, we had a small gathering of family and adopted family. My mom lives 2 hours from here, so I picked her up the day before and made her stay a couple days before driving her back.

From here out, I'm going to thinly veil this by calling our mothers Grandmother A and Grandmother B. That way one of them doesn't get profiled as an unspeakable jerk. Which one of them was.

In Grandmother A's defense, she hurt her back recently and is on painkillers. She struggles with memory anyway, and the painkillers made her even more confused. The confusion came out as antagonism.

(I am sugar-coating this. She is really good at being antagonistic, even on a good day.)

Nothing was right for her. She hated the cheese on the relish tray. We'd hand her something to try and she'd yell at us. And then she'd complain that no one was giving her anything to eat.

Grandmother B did like the relish tray, and was eating off the cheese knife. Fortunately for all of us, dinner was ready.

Because of the painkillers, I offered Grandmother A ginger ale. She made a face at me, so I listed the other options.

"I don't give a damn what you give me," she said.

That pretty much sums up dinner.

Grandmother B and our guest were horrified. Unable to deal with the sniping (though not directed at her), Grandmother B prayed loudly throughout dinner.

It was... great.

I couldn't resist sneaking off and sending World's Worst Thanksgiving texts to my sister, who found them hilarious. (Don't worry - her shift is coming up soon.)

In actuality, it wasn't the World's Worst Thanksgiving - by a long shot. We had plenty of food, a roof over our heads and - for the most part - each other. I worry about the kids, but the kids were only worried about getting the right kind of pie.

Intellectually, I know that Grandmother A left the building a long time ago. She's in a sort of survival mode, in which nothing is filtered. We're told she doesn't mean half of what she says (although she may truly hate Stilton with cranberries). Knowing that she won't remember what she said 5 minutes from now doesn't help as much as it should. I catch myself wincing when I hear her voice.

I cannot, however, say that she ruined Thanksgiving. You can't ruin Thanksgiving for anyone but yourself.

And that's what I came away with. Grandmother A sent the appearance of a nice Thanksgiving up in flames, but she couldn't touch the real thing.

Despite aggressively grumpy appearances, we have much to be grateful for.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Apocalypse (or, if you prefer, Thursday)

Chris says the ground opened, which is what it feels like. Most of the lights don't work and the house smells like melted appliances. The ground opened, and in we fell. I didn't think this was supposed to happen until December.

Electricity is coming into the house at 220 because the ground wire went down in the latest storm onslaught. That's not a good thing.

We're not sure what survived, appliance-wise. When we open the refrigerator it looks like an alien spaceship is coming at us. (I mean the light, not the leftovers.) The kids are psyched because first everything was dark and then, just as they were done getting ready for school by flashlight, the house went into Demonic Possession mode. They'd flip a switch in one room, and a light would come on in another. It was awesome. I could barely get them out the door.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my mother-in-law has short term memory loss so we've been over what's going on a million times in the last 15 minutes.

Note: There is something uniquely horrible about not knowing what's going on and having to tell someone the specifics of what you don't know and have no power over, repeatedly.

We started with the long story, and then moved to the abbreviated version:

“There's no power.”
“Is someone going to make me some toast?”
(Rinse. Repeat.)

I think if we stabbed a piece of bread with a fork and then stuck the end of the fork in an outlet, it just might work.

NSTAR deemed it dangerous and advised us to throw the main breaker until they could send a crew.

(Long pause in which we wait and then give up, going to bed at 9 because what else are we supposed to do? There's no internet and I am all caught up on my counted cross stitch by candlelight.)

I wake up to an authoritative knock on the door. A tall, handsome NSTAR man is in my garden. Behind him, my lawn is crawling with utility workers in foul weather gear.

You don't realize how many windows you have until you are sitting in total darkness, with searchlights bouncing off every wall in your house from outside. It's like a movie. Let me just say that I really hope the people who are inches from my windows, scaling my walls and shining searchlights all over my lawn in the dark of night are always using their power for good, not evil.

If the neighbors ask what all the search lights were for, I'm going to tell them Sugarplum lost her gerbil.

Appliance death-toll to come. Stay tuned.

P.S. Thank you, NSTAR

Death Toll: furnace, oven, toaster, coffee maker, mother-in-law's radio, assorted lights.... (still taking inventory)