Saturday, October 16, 2010

'Gusta gets the grumps

As expected, I’m signing on today as the unadulterated, cranky pants Augusta. An 11:30pm bedtime and a 4:40am wake up call does not bring out the best in me. Admittedly, it’s easier to have those kinds of early wake up calls for the purpose of driving to fertility treatment town to get blood drawn or meet up with, as Jess calls it, the “unfortunate intimate friend”. But to have to leave my warm bed, my beloved purring Chicken (cat), and the comfort of my home and my town for a family gathering is a different story. So you are forewarned; this post is a litany and if you aren’t in the mood for that, I suggest you skip it and read my previous few posts.
Complaint #1: We forgot the bag of food I’d prepared for our train ride. There were apples, good granola and protein bars, trail mix, and almonds in there. It is sitting on the floor of the entrance to our house. We are rapidly riding east on the shores of Lake Ontario. Train food = bursting with dairy and wheat. And hungry is always equal to cranky in my books.
Complaint #2: One of the strands of my necklace broke during the many transitions (up, out of the house, drive 45 minutes to train station, take one train, get to big town, transfer to a different train). I went to the washroom on the train and as soon as I lifted my coat to undo my jeans, there was a flurry of beads coming down like Christmas snow.
Gratitude #1: Ok, sorry, I can’t help it. The sunrise over Lake Ontario was magnificent. I had to put it in there.
Complaint #3:  On the first train ride, there were these 2 men talking. It was 6:11am. They were carrying on a conversation in a 2:46pm voice. I wanted to throttle them. They sounded like Stephen Harper supporters (our prime minister, who could be likened to Bush. I’ll say no more). I wanted to sleep. They annoyed the dickens out of me.
Gratitude #2: Mr. August is with me and he is sweet when I have the grumps.
Complaint  #4: I have to go to this stupid family thing and I’d rather have a root canal. On top of not wanting to go, I feel guilty and awful about not wanting to go and being a grump about it. It’s my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary. My mom has organized this big to-do. There will be 80 people there. The extended family (my grandmother has 11 siblings) makes up most of the guest list. They all know Mr. August and I got married in March and they are now expecting us to have babies. How many comments will I have to put up with in this state of crankiness? And more to the point, will I be able to keep being pleasant despite the comments? To be continued…
Complaint #5: Spending time with my mom leaves me with a great sense of emptiness. I’ve been feeling rather well lately, and I’m not pleased about having this interrupted. My mom is not the easiest woman to deal with and visits home are never restful. Everything is very controlled and orchestrated. We eat at a certain hour, with specific utensils, and a very precise menu. Everything revolves around food and innocuous, insipid conversation. Being with my mom and stepdad is like trying to walk on a straight line when inebriated. It’s a ton of work to try and control all your muscles, and no matter what, you’ll for sure step out of line. The saddest part is that I think they feel the same about spending time with me.  We are so different and there is very little to connect us. They are this wealthy, upper class childless couple with an enormous sense of entitlement. They purchase my silence with tons of money, gifts and lavish meals, and in exchange, I don’t make waves. It’s this kind of agreement we have and it makes me feel like a hoe.
Let it be told that I am painting a uniformly dark picture of these people. I should also say that they have good qualities. My mom has been supporting me financially throughout my entire academic career, and that is no small potatoes. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to pursue my education without her help. 
Complaint number 5 boils down to this: You can’t get chocolate cake at the hardware store. My mom and her family have no chocolate cake for me. They have nuts and bolts and table saws, but no chocolate cake. While my mom is brilliant in her career, she is not one for warmth and isn’t good at forming relationships. She has no close friends. She was never able to really give me the sort of love a kid needs to grow up and feel worthy.  It’s not that she didn’t want to give me chocolate cake, it’s that she didn’t have any to give. 
I think that the personal work I’ve done in therapy and on my own in the last 20 years have brought me to a point where I can see all of this and a) put the brakes on internalizing my parents’ catastrophe as something of my doing and b) avoid being consumed by rage at their ineptitude. But visiting them tugs at my chocolate cake cravings.
Gratitude #3: I have this great plan with regards to the weekend and my chocolate cake cravings. I’m going to stay very focused on what the little girl in me really needs, moment to moment, and will put my wiser, stronger self in charge of looking after this little girl. And perhaps we’ll just have to wander off together and find some good vegan chocolate cake.     


  1. Oh, 'Gusta, even your grumps are enormously lovable. And the fact that you can't resist recognizing some gratitude in their midst? Very, very you, and proof, I'm afraid, that you're not a terribly convincing grump. Which is not to say--don't get me wrong--that your complaints aren't very real and valid and piss-offing. It is to say that your light shines through, no matter what. I'm so sorry that being with your family isn't joyful. I hope you and Mr. A make it through the weekend intact, and that you absolutely get the little girl inside her vegan treat. Much love.

  2. Thinking of you and sending you LOTS of deeply delicious, rich chocolate cake virtually. I have LOTS to give and LOTS for you.


  3. Pumkpin, you took the words right out of my mouth.

    "Oh, look! She ~grumpy~!"

    You are darling. I would weave a tapestry of fuckballs and other classless words like that if I were in your shoes. You, however, sprinkle in sporadic gratitude.

    All jokes aside, best wishes on your visit.

    You shared a lot with us about the challenges you had when you were small. I think those emotions always linger, no matter how far you have moved beyond them.

    Much love and strength coming your way from a kitchen table in Chicagoland....

  4. Your plan strikes me as very sound. You DESERVE chocolate cake and it's a hard thing to be turned away constantly, with an empty plate. I think you have done a very, very good of NOT internalizing things (though, I realize how hard that is not to do in the's so much easier to maintain from miles and miles away).

    And no way should you feel like a ho. Money isn't the same as warmth and support but the world is going to be a better place (don't ask me how I know...I just know!) because you've had that schooling.

    Sometimes it's good to let the grump out. And starting this time away without your food and having to go hungry while two idiots converse in the early morning...well, that would get anyone off on the wrong foot. I'll be thinking of you. And hoping it's all going/went okay.

  5. Mmm, chocolate cake. I hope you're able to sneak out with your inner little girl during this trip.

  6. chocolate cake does help make things better. hope all went well w your fam. sorry i only have 1 hand to type

  7. Aww, man, that's a lot to complain about, and I love the way the items range from the deeply frustrating yet outwardly trivial, to the deeply sad and pretty much unresolvable. I'm sending you massive mental vegan chocolate cake, hoping it's not too late to come in handy.

  8. Getting my "grumps" out of me by writing it all out. That is always a huge help for me.! At the very least, I hope that it helped you realize that you aren't the only one who thinks talking in a 2:45pm voice at 6:oo in the morning is totally rude to the people around them! I completely understand what you mean about that!

    I hope you've been feeling happier the last couple of days!!

    P.S. I LOVED the gratitude are so sweet!

  9. I can't help but laugh, days like that just sucks!
    Am I missing something when you're referring to your parents as a "childless couple"? Very Freudian if it's not intentional :)

    Happy ICLW and I hope your visit is better than expected!

  10. Wow - what a day! I do hope the anniversary party goes well considering what it is putting everyone through.


  11. How are your parents childless?