Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Let the Agita Begin!

Cupcake is coming to Houston with Velvet and me over Christmas vacation.
Here they are at the prom in 2009:

Somebody at my parents' house will surely take their picture together while we're there, unless the whole experience of meeting the potential in-laws sends Cupcake to her room.  My sister's husband the physicist took to his bed a lot the first few holidays he spent with our side of the family.  For the record, his family is no picnic.  I can't remember if his family drinks when they're together or not - and frankly I'm not sure that they'd be any fun under any circumstances no matter how much alcohol they consumed.

Not that we're a bunch of lushes, but it was entertaining the year my sister got soused in Tallahassee on Christmas Eve and demanded we open the gifts instantaneously.  We've always waited until Christmas Morning.

This year, we're Occupying Christmas, and I'm not quite sure how that will manifest.  I am sure my mother will be 100% in favor of the idea of a Buy Nothing Christmas.  Nothing except Dinner, that is.

I'm not exactly interfering in their relationship by inviting Cupcake to join us and paying her airfare.  I could be interfering in my son's life, however, since I figured he wouldn't bitch about being in Texas for three and a half days if Cupcake were there.

Velvet likes his Texas family.  He just doesn't like being stuck in Houston.  I can't say as I blame him.  I like being at my parents', too, and I like seeing my sister's family when they're there.  I especially like three full days of barbecue and Tex-Mex, and talking about politics, current events, theology and the neighbors with my mother - but I don't especially like being stuck in Houston either.  That's why I'm always heading up to Austin when I'm in Texas.  In a perfect world, my mother would finally be able to sell the house, and my parents would move to Austin.

Who knows? Maybe now that the asteroid has passed between the earth and the moon, we'll finally shift into the New Age.  Mother will be able to sell the house for a price that doesn't make her choke; I'll meet a single, straight, attractive, employed, reasonably sober man whom I like instead of another delusional, arrogant fool and Velvet will finally have enough college credits to be a sophomore.

I am pleased to report that the man-child has an A in both his classes this semester.  Sadly, though, since Tree Hugger wouldn't accept the 16 credits in Environmental Science, Ecology and Ethics that Velvet received from his Semester in the Rockies.  He did manage to pass a couple of classes during his previous three semesters at Tree Hugger, but I don't think he has successfully collected 20 credits yet.

Oh Well.  We've finally figured out an approach to higher education that works for Velvet.  For my next trick, I have to convince Buzz Kill to structure the college fund he is required by the divorce to establish this year so that the money also functions to extend Velvet's child support beyond his impending 21st birthday for an additional four years since we all know he's not going to be done with school, working and paying his own rent for quite a while.  Could be he's living at home until he's 30 like many of the folks his age in this country.  If I'm not mistaken, unemployment in that demographic is the highest since World War II at 55%.

I am happy to provide a home for Velvet forever and always.  Cupcake, too, for that matter.  It just means I need a decent sized apartment which will require more money than I am currently making - which is where Buzz Kill and the College Fund come in.  Buzz Kill is already agreed in principle with my proposal.  Now we just have to settle on an amount and create a document that is official enough for me to take to the bank and or co-op board.

Meanwhile, I've been laying the groundwork to make more money.  My first choice is to start teaching courses like Foundations of Modern Education or Curriculum at one of the colleges in the neighborhood.   One of my new responsibilities at work is to coordinate student teachers with these three colleges, and hopefully I'll be able to parlay that into an adjunct position.  Or maybe I'll hit Lotto.

I haven't abandoned the idea of writing a book, or the whole Menopausal Stoners Guide to Parenting idea. I have abandoned the notion that I'll make any money from writing a book or any kind of writing at all.  That's not to say the idea is impossible - but I recognize that the entire lower tier of the publishing industry has been replaced by the internet.  More importantly, though, I realized that my need to publish a book was driven by my need for external validation.  I believed that having a hard backed book for sale on bookstore shelves was the only way to conclusively prove I had a voice.

A couple of weeks ago, I was riding the subway and started noticing all the people reading from their iPads, Kindles and Androids.  In an existential context, there's nothing about the text on a Kindle that could be considered permanent - except maybe the impact the text has on the reader.  Doesn't matter if the author of the text is somebody's friend from High School or Copernicus.  And when you consider the number of folks that self publish via Kindle - or that $5,000 service from Amazon where you get an editor to facilitate the preparation of your book for publication and Amazon will print paperbacks when a customer buys one.  Until somebody orders the book, it's not printed.  Vanity Press of Today.  Anyway - I know plenty of people who have gone the Self-Publishing route so that they have books in print and I don't.  If you're looking to publication to prove your voice has impact and value - as well as your very existence, self-publishing doesn't count.   Seeing the people on the subway equally absorbed in their reading whether they were reading a blog or a "published" work on a Kindle convinced me that if the real thing I want from writing is an indication that my voice exists and has an influence on people - then I've already done that with Menopausal Stoners.

Ergo:  As an Existentialist, I can relax.  As someone who often needs external validation, I can relax.

I can kiss all this relaxation good-bye once Velvet gets home for Thanksgiving.  Cupcake's father wants to have Velvet and me over for dinner now that Cupcake accepted my invitation to join our trip to Houston.  I'm sure we'll all be a little nervous about that.  I'm not sure if Cupcake eats in front of people these days, or if she has overcome that bit of adolescent idiosyncrasy.  The situation will surely come up in Houston since there's a very good reason why we called the family corporation, WFD Inc for What's For Dinner?
Fortunately, my mother and I have already got the sleeping arrangements figured out.  Velvet will be sleeping downstairs in my father's office.  Whenever either of my parents are wandering the halls in the middle of the night, as old poops often do, they will be making sure Velvet is where he belongs.  My mother made it perfectly clear that he and Cupcake will not be sharing a room under her roof.

I doubt Velvet ever imagined he and Cupcake could share a room at my mother's.  We don't know when my sister and her family will be in Houston, but when I talked to my sister last week, the first thing she asked was, "Are we going to get to meet the girl?"  Their family cheerfully acknowledges all manner of idiosyncrasies, adolescent and otherwise.  I'm sure we'll all be playing a domino game called Chicken Foot, or putting together a big, challenging jig saw puzzle like we do every year, and listening to folk songs my mother has chosen to illustrate a point.

The Austin Lounge Lizards aren't exactly folk, but they have the kind of lyrics my mom and dad enjoy.  Here's one of my parents' favorite songs, Old Blevins

Dad says that when he starts rambling like an old poop, we're all allowed to sing the chorus.


mac said...

Yes, you have made an impact. But, I bet you won't relax too much still.

Cali said...

I agree with mac! You've definitely made an impact. Additionally, you haven't just made an impact, but you use your words to advance important causes. Voices that make people think are needed in this society, not just more blabbering about the stupid Kardashians.

Also, I emailed my mother the link to "Old Blevins." It seems like her kind of song, too. When I was a little kid she and my Dad (and all the aunts and uncles) listened to a lot of country comedy music. I'm sure much of it had to do with entertaining me and my cousins.

Gail said...

HEY GIRL - your impact is amazing and purposeful. And I love your involvement w/Velvet and Cupcake and the video is so cool.
Love you
p.s i am a tad, sad that you are not going to write your book(s)

Amanda said...

I think a book is definitely in order. My offspring are a bit younger than Velvet -- the Elder is 12, and the Gum Zombie is 8 -- and neither of them are showing signs of desiring a career that will keep me in the Style to Which I'd Like to Become Accustomed. Ergo, it appears I may be engaged in residential parenting way, way into my sixties, seventies, and beyond.

Which, yanno, isn't entirely a bad thing at all :) You can set a precedent for how it's done, kind of like Dr. Spock did for infants.

Liberality said...

Seeing the people on the subway equally absorbed in their reading whether they were reading a blog or a "published" work on a Kindle convinced me that if the real thing I want from writing is an indication that my voice exists and has an influence on people - then I've already done that with Menopausal Stoners.

Yes, you have made an impact as the other have commented. I like that sort of thinking! It is posivitely true. :)

Cali said...

I came back to see if you'd said anything about my comment, but had another thought while I was here.

For some stupid reason, American society sees college grads moving back in with their parents as some sort of failure. In other societies that is the norm. In India, for example, kids live at home until they get married, and then the tradition is that they live with the husband's family for the first year. In traditional Jewish society the bride's family supports the newlyweds for at least the first year so the husband can study the Torah. There are many other societies in which it is the norm for extended families to all live together. It is actually very helpful for everyone. There are more hands to share the work of keeping a home and feeding the family, there are more people to support the family financially, and the parents of young children can go to their jobs knowing that the children are being well taken care of by their loving grandparents, or even their great-grandparents.

So, in conclusion, our society is the one that has it wrong. The housing crisis is just causing us to re-evaluate our position.

Jennifer said...

Once I had a writing student who couldn't understand why I would write for free on a blog.

"I write for free on a blog because it makes me happy and my writing is validated when people read me." I said. She didn't get it. Her eyes were glazed over with visions of big money writing prizes. She shouldn't have been in my class.

I teach writing for the same reason you and write - I want people to have voices, to tell their stories. Blogging, internet, alternative news - they're all part of the last hold on anything resembling democracy.

Having said all that, I'd read one of your books any day.

rraine said...

i'm new to your blog, and yes, your writing should be spread far and wide in the cosmos. i'm probably telling you something you already know about, but... have you checked out

Susan Tiner said...

I hear you when it comes to "external validation." I'm really trying to get over it.

Your holiday plans sound fun, but I imagine Velvet and Cupcake will figure out a way to get together :).

PENolan said...

Susan - I'm counting on it. The key is the Drivers License. The summer after his Senior year in HS, Velvet hadn't gotten a job SO he was required to live with my parents in Houston for 6 weeks over the summer. My parents paid him as much as he'd have made at a shitty summer job, and he did a little work for a neighbor who had a family business. He also went to Driving School and got a Texas drivers license. At Thanksgiving, he needs to go to the DMV to get a NY license. My mom won't let her drive her car as long as his license says he lives at her address because of liability issues. With a NY license, he and Cupcake can drive to the nearby Ben & Jerry's without leaving subdivision streets. I'm sure my dad will enjoy giving Velvet some more driving instruction, too. It's all completely delightful.

mac- I'm relaxing right this very minute. For a minute anyway.

Cali - glad you related to "Old Blevins." I love it. And I think you're totally right about our society. Extended families have not been the "norm" for a while in the US even though families have historically been our strongest support system. In a lot of ways, I feel like I'm laying my Grandma foundations.

Libs - I try to stay on the sunny side ;)

Amanda and rraine - welcome and thanks for weighing in on the subject at hand. I fully believe that we're establishing important human connections out here in blogland that are often missing from our day-to-day contacts.

Gail, I'm sure I'll finally get around to a book someday, but it will be my racy memoirs instead of child rearing stuff. And I'm done putting existential pressure on myself.

Jennifer - the truth is I'm a big chicken about submitting stuff. Who knows where I'd be if I ever really submitted anything? I was all into the idea of the parenting guide when I started the writing class in Sept. I'm taking a break for the rest of the semester because of (1) holiday chaos and (2) the surgical procedure I'm having on the shoulder on the 22nd. But when I start back in January, I think I'll be focusing on the memoir. It's a tricky story, but I think it's the Real one. One day at a time . . .

Kold_Kadavr_flatliner, sub/dude said...

I like that - Accidental Assholery. You rrrock, girl. Nevertheless, DOES NOT matter if you as a mortal don’t believe - totally irrelevant; we all are gonna croak someday, girl. Thus, your indelible soul? Totally up4grabs by the LIAR - God‘s left the building cuzza people like you; however, I refuse to split, I’m stick’n around like flies-on-deadly-paper because I love you. I say this to the masses of humanity: God only gives bawls to those who see the need for humility. See ‘MySoulAccomplishment’ and know I wanna kiss your adorable feets in the Great Beyond. God blessa youse -Fr. Sarducci, ol SNL

intelliwench said...

I reached a similar conclusion regarding my own writing, realizing that the only writing I'm likely to get paid for is what I do at the office, which I wouldn't even read, myself, under other circumstances.

Thanksgiving sounds interesting - I hope you all enjoy yourselves!

PENolan said...

Intelli, It's actually Christmas with my parents. But Thanksgiving is shaping up nicely.
Hope yours is too!

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