I took last week off from work because it was school vacation week. One child was away on a school trip for half the week, so we stuck close to home and had a real staycation. Here are some of the things I did:
1. I tried a high protein diet. Again. On day four, I woke up with kidney pain. Again. And I scrapped the diet because I didn't want to end up in the hospital. Some day I will find something that works for me.
2. I took the family to a local donut (That's the way the shop spells it.) shop. We went once while I was on the high protein/low carb diet and I had no donuts. After I got back to eating carbs, we got up early and went at 7:00 one morning with the boys. The donuts were freshly made and still warm. I had a chocolate cruller. It was heaven.
3. I knit a lot. I started a cardigan where the body is knit in one piece, and I knit up to the armholes and almost finished one front. That's a lot of knitting, especially considering the fact that the pattern is so poorly written that I kept ripping back to fix errors in the pattern.
4. I photographed six things that I have knit in the past year and posted the photos on Ravelry. Finally! All those WIP's at the top of my project page were getting to be depressing.
Here are Muckle Mitts, as modeled by my now 11 year old assistant. He liked them so much he asked if he could have them. I said sure. Then he said, "You just need to change the colors." Mhm. Still, he almost never asks for knitted stuff, so I will probably knit him a pair next fall. I need to wait to see how big he is - he just turned 11 and he's about 5'4" so it's possible that by the fall he will need larger mitts.
5. We walked the dogs, all three of them and all four of us. Now that there are three dogs, I can't do it alone, and I love when we walk as a family. I don't even have to take a dog. My job is to pick up the poop and carry it. Whenever someone complains that they are tired of the dog they are walking, I always offer to trade jobs and I am always rebuffed. I don't mind carrying the poop. I have such bad allergies that I can barely smell it anyway.
6. While my stepson was staying over and my daughter was back from her trip, we took all the kids to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. I was happy to see our own Burlington Mall featured again at the beginning of the movie, but I didn't have really high expectations of the movie. However, for some unknown reason, the scene where Paul Blart and his daughter are eating dinner at the hotel restaurant just tickled my funny bone. I laughed so hard I cried which made my daughter laugh so hard that she cried. When the two of us start that, it's difficult for us to stop.
7. I had a lunch date at Sonic with my 11 year old. I was on the high protein diet that day, so I had an unsweetened iced tea. He had lunch. Then we went to Game Stop to buy some Skylanders figures. All in all, it was the perfect afternoon if you are a 5th grader.
8. I talked my daughter into signing up for her new high school's summer reading program. When we went to freshman orientation two weeks ago, she was dead set against it. However, after she took a look at the three books on the summer reading list while we were on a trip to our local independent bookseller, she thought it might not be so bad. I'm overjoyed - she's going to do some reading, three new books came into the house and I can read them, and the choices of books was really cool. One is a Spanish bestseller (translated into English), another is a graphic novel by an Asian author, and the third is dystopian fiction set in Hawaii, so it's a pretty diverse list.
9. My son got hooked on watching Criminal Minds reruns so we made the most of the bad weather days that we had by watching Criminal Minds marathons. I kept telling him that he reminds me of Dr. Spencer Reid. I think he liked that better than when the rest of the family calls him Sheldon (Big Bang Theory).
10. I stayed up one night and read a book in one fell swoop. I couldn't help it. We were in the bookstore and I saw Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast. I was drawn to it. I picked it up and looked at it. I put in down. I walked away. But I kept returning to it. It clearly spoke to me. I had to buy it.
The book is about Roz Chast trying to cope with her parents's aging, which is made more difficult by their active avoidance of talking about anything substantive about their lives. It's my parents! Well, actually, it's my parents in that way and, in other ways, it's my mom's parents. Roz Chast's parents are of my grandparents' generation, children of immigrants from the same part of the world, Great Depression survivors who save things and manage money in ways that perplex younger folks. . . and this book brought me back to remember all those little details that I had forgotten.
I have to admit, I was a little confused when Roz Chast said that she had left New York City and moved to Connecticut with her husband and children. I mean, she's a lesbian. Um, no. I apparently was interweaving Alison Bechdel's Fun Home into this book. It was quite the aha moment when I realized my mistake. Suffice it to say, I love both these ladies.
Getting back to the book, I have to admit, I found it comforting to know that there was someone else who grew up with parents like mine. Want to talk about the inane? They can keep up their end of the conversation. Want to talk about something serious? Well, it's a good way to empty a room or cut short a phone call with them. I will never forget picking up the phone one Friday during my senior year of college. It was my dad. Although I don't remember this exactly, I'm pretty sure he started the call with, "Hi, Susan. It's your dad." I know this because now that we have caller ID and cell phones and I know it's him and answer the phone with, "Hi, Dad!" he still says, "Hi, Susan. It's your dad." So, he must have said that. Then he casually asked, "Do you have any plans for the weekend?" I was feeling a little suspicious and paranoid so I responded that I didn't have any plans. "So," he continued, "your grandfather died this morning and, if you weren't busy, I thought you might want to come home for the funeral." WHAT THE FUCK!?! Of course I was coming home for that. How could he think I wouldn't? I loved, loved, loved my grandfather and he loved me.
And then it got even weirder. My grandfather had a bad heart, always had. So I asked if he had a heart attack. My dad told me that my grandfather had cancer. I was perplexed. He found out he had cancer and died immediately? Very odd. Also very wrong. It turns out my grandfather had been in the hospital for WEEKS and no one told me. They didn't want me to worry. I have no idea whether my grandfather was aware that I didn't know what was going on with him, or whether he thought I was being selfish and avoiding him in his time of need. What I do know is that I would have driven home every weekend to spend time with him if I had known he was in the hospital. My college was maybe two hours away, and I had a car. I went to the wake and funeral, but I felt robbed. I still do.
Now it all makes sense why this book spoke to me, doesn't it? It's a weird thing, but you learn to live with parents who are odd like that. Their refusal to discuss anything truly important only rears its ugly head when, like Roz Chast, you are confronted with two people who are no longer mentally or physically able to care for themselves, who are well enough to have an opinion about your efforts to try to take care of them, and who won't acknowledge what's really happening. I am pretty sure that I am going to keep this book forever and reread it as my parents age.
For now, I exist in the comfort zone where I know to steer clear of topics my parents find uncomfortable. Things only get strange when I go to the doctor. I can't tell the doctor my family medical history because my parents' medical history is super secret. I know about the things they can't avoid telling me, but there's a whole lot of secret stuff. My mom had surgery earlier this month. Why, I don't know. It was outpatient surgery, and shall forever remain a mystery. She had some surgery in the early 90's where she was admitted for a few days. I was informed that she was in the hospital and that I was expected to visit, but I haven't a clue what type of surgery she had. I do know that she told me that the nurse had put a catheter in her vagina so she didn't have to get up to pee. I was going to tell her that's impossible, and the catheter was in her urethra, not her vagina, but I shut my mouth. Like Roz Chast's mother, my mother is ALWAYS right. (Also, I clearly gained my knowledge of the female anatomy from Our Bodies, Ourselves, not from my mom.)
Until then, thank you, Roz Chast, thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm honored to share the same family dysfunction with you.