Saturday, December 19, 2009

Compromising with my family

Can't believe I've gone over a week without blogging. Well, technically that isn't true. I actually launched a new project: Cocktails With the Penguins. It combines the (mostly very casual) cocktail recipes I've fixed myself in the kitchen when most people are getting beer, which I hate, with commentary about the Pittsburgh Penguins. I intend to name one after each member of this year's team, plus do things like red, white and blue cocktails for Team USA during the Olympics.

This is the first time I ever wrote a blog about something besides, well, me, and I'm finding that interesting--the focus becomes more narrow, in that I have to mostly keep it to the intended subject and not go into tangents, but wider, in that I'm keeping more people in mind besides myself. It's weird that I could apply myself to that blog and not this one. But, you know, cocktails and sports are easy. Smarter people than me usually beat me to current events. It's life that can get hard to write.

Right now, life is very, very cold and very, very white. It's snowed, and more is coming. Winter officially starts two days from now, but I'd say it's here already. We're supposed to be leaving Sunday night. We think we're still good to go to Pittsburgh. We're good even if we have to leave in the daytime on Monday--the first of the four games we're seeing isn't until 7 pm. Hopefully the snow won't be more than an inconvenience for anybody, but I know that won't be the case. I'm grateful that's what it is for us. Right now, behind glass and brick with the power on (knock on wood), it's beautiful. I love how snow makes everything look like it's been frosted. The cats have decided they want our bed and our blankets, even though they have fur coats. L'Ailee and I know how they feel.

Last weekend, I went to DC to spend a weekend with my mother. She tried to guilt me into spending Christmas in Florida with the entire family, but I meant it about skipping it this year and needing a break, so that was our compromise. L'Ailee didn't come. She had some classes to teach at her gym, and she was perfectly okay with that. I think my mother was, too. She didn't accept L'Ailee and her place in my life for a very long time, and then she embraced her like a second daughter, and now she's running cold again. She goes in cycles like that. She's that way with (conservative Christian) religion, too, and right now she's in a super-religious mode. Bonus. I tried to stay far away from the topic of religion; she's wanted to run to it. After almost 14 years, though, I'm a pretty committed Pagan. I don't think she gets that.

She used to just hate L'Ailee's guts consistently, though, so I'll take improvement wherever I can get it. I took sightseeing around DC with just her over a huge family reunion at someone's house, too. We both love DC. She loved showing me all the monuments (again) and taking me to a restaurant she knew and liked. We talked some, and it wasn't bad. Plus, of course we went to say goodbye to sweet Tai Shan, the National Zoo's panda boy who's bound for China. The security guard smiled and said, "Follow the trail of tears." Neither of us cried, though. He's so sweet and playful, and we'll miss seeing him on the PandaCam, but we think he'll be better off in a big Chinese preserve among peers.

Of all the Cousins, a/k/a my generation, of my family, I am the oldest by eons. (Actually, 7 years, because my brother was born when I was 7, and then my first cousin came along when I was 11. I'm 35 now.) I have always loved bringing L'Ailee to the reunions with me not only for moral support, not just because she's my spouse as much as anyone else's, but because it's so wonderful to have one other person my age in the place. One of the Cousins is 17 years old, and he called last night.

I think he's hurt that we're not coming. He says he understands in words, but his tone of voice said something else. I do feel bad about that. L'Ailee and I like the Cousins a lot. The 17-year-old is a really thoughtful, bright, kind boy, and whenever his parents annoy me, I always remind myself that whatever else my uncle and aunt have done, they've raised *him*.

He wanted a few tips on beading. I used to bead a lot, except that now me and L'Ailee and several female friends and relatives have tons of jewelry. Years ago, I brought my beading box while I was babysitting him and his younger brother. Mother's Day was coming up, and they asked me if I could make their mother something. I knew an activity when I saw it! Instead of making her something, I had the younger one string a bracelet for her and the older one making earrings. Our grandmother asked if I planned to "turn them gay, too." I told her that eventually, they'd probably have girlfriends and need to make something for them. Well, it happened. The 17-year-old is making earrings and a necklace for his girlfriend. I won't lie; it felt good to know that I'd inspired that a long time ago.

He asked me if we could "at least" be there for his high school graduation in June. "Of course!" I blurted out. "I wouldn't miss it for the world! I know [L'Ailee] feels the same way." It's true. She's always exhausted on Friday nights because she has a huge class load that day, so she was asleep while we talked. This morning, I had to tell her she wants to go to Florida for a couple days in June. (The festivities will be on a weekend, TTG--only one vacation day needed!) When I told her who it was for, she had no problem at all. I had him put his mother on the phone, and she's fine with it. She should be--we've given him homework help by phone and e-mail more than once! Besides, he's on track to be salutatorian. He deserves lots of cheering.

So many of my relatives have, like, black belts in guilt. For so long, I've let them turn me 13 again. I feel much more adult in the way I'm dealing with them, even if my methods involve a lot of avoidance at the moment. (And hockey! We're looking forward to those games even though her Red Wings are as decimated by injuries Penguins were last month.) I'll have to learn other methods. But I've already said quite strongly, "I no longer respond to guilt or manipulation. If you want me around, you're going to have to act like it!" I made the woman I love, who loves me back, happy in the process. Maybe some of you don't get what I'm going on about or why that's such a big deal to me. But I feel pretty damned good right now.

Whatever you have celebrated or will be celebrating, may winter be good to you.

Links, links:

New Jersey Republicans are promoting a strengthened same-sex civil unions law as a consolation prize for its LGBT citizens. I remember when the civil unions were strongly protested.

Also from Box Turtle Bulletin, a British rugby legend comes out.

Why it's okay for atheists to celebrate the winter holidays

Queen Victoria was a far more ambitious and passionate woman than many people would guess, and the movie The Young Victoria shows it. Check this review out, then check the movie out!

Finally, also from Salon, here is an extremely fun and interesting cocktail recipe that's nothing like the stuff on my Cocktails With the Penguins site. I wish I was this creative, and yet I'm sort of grateful I'm not this creative. I know L'Ailee is, too!


Raven said...

Family can be complicated. I'm Pagan too and my family is Catholic. They just don't talk about my spiritual choice, like it's some big dirty secret or a phase I'm going through or something. It's pretty funny.

"I no longer respond to guilt or manipulation." Good for you for being able to say that! That's huge. I wish I could say that to my family. They have so much control over my life that it makes my head spin and they do it all through manipulation and guilt. I have to start practicing saying that.

Have a great trip, enjoy the games and drive safe!

Carie said...

I have never fit in with my family, but my younger cousins are so important to me, we talk frequesntly, but their parents and I have never talked...but its ok cause I love them all, but really simply adore their kids lol :) I am the youngest in the first wave of cousins...then like when I was 16 or so a new wave hit lol they all had one more youngester and I became the babysitter lol...I win :)

I will have to check out the other blog, sounds very interesting :)

bluzdude said...

Congratulations on staking out your independence. There's nothing wrong with living your life on your terms. Sometimes you can make it back for family events, sometimes not. Life is like that.

Hope your trip is going well. Too bad you couldn't have seen the game against Ottawa last night.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Happy Holidays CL!

Queers United said...

I know what you mean about conservative christians not getting the pagan thing. It's funny because so much of Christianity has been stolen from pagan religions yet now pagans are the ones considered sinners.

Zan said...

This is what I'm facing next year. This year was...well it was a long, long long family time. Three days worth. And my family keeps misgendering my Emmy and well....on the last day I just lost it. I couldn't take anymore and I just left. I'm still trying to shake off the effects and how can I be mad at them? They're not doing anything intentional. They're not trying to hurt me. But they are and I just. . .I see more and more how clearly I just don't fit in. And I want to, because it's my damned family and well. . .But next year, Emmy and I will only be attending ONE day, if that much and only if the family is able to deal with her correctly. If not? Well, we'll be newlyweds and we'll be establishing our own traditions.

And you know, it's not my fault. I'm not the one pushing anyone away. And I know they think they're not pushing either! It's like, they don't understand why I can't just BE and I can't understand why they don't see how their freakish beliefs are standing in the way of my being happy and accepted. I mean, do you know how horrible it is to have always known that the church was more important to your parents than you were?

CrackerLilo said...

Thanks to everyone for commenting. We just got back. *hugs* especially to Raven + Zan.

The Pens lost both games, security sucked, and I'm *still* happy we did this trip instead! More later.