Not In Kansas Anymore...

Click your heels, and see if home is where you hang your hat, or somewhere else inside yourself as this simple, postmodern girl takes on L.A.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Right now, I should be making banana bread. I have 4 bananas I bought and let ripen to almost-brown for that purpose. One more day and they'll be rotten.

I don't feel like making banana bread. I feel like sitting here and complaining. Plus, making banana bread would involve turning on the oven, and given it is right around 80 in the house at 8pm, that sounds extremely unappealing.

WHY is it about 80 in my house, you ask? Why, Jessica, don't you own an AC? Why yes, dear reader, I do.

Why isn't it on, you ask?

Well, let me tell you why. Because my roommate prefers to sweat out the dog, the two cats and me. She's COMFORTABLE at 80 degrees. And because she's comfortable, she didn't think of how STUPID it would be to run the dryer at around 2pm today. How it might run up the power bill, and, since I'm unwilling to swelter, I am forced to hide in my room, where the window unit AC in here is forced to work double-time to fight the heat.

Currently, she's also in the living room sulking it out because the cable got turned off today, as well. Why? Because the bill is due. (I paid half of it, but as I had a $300 unexpected car repair this month, I'm way behind.). The phone is also turned off, and if something isn't done soon, the internet will be, too.

Does she come forward and ask about these things? No.

See, it doesn't OCCUR to her how things get paid. I just present her with a post-it note of her half of the bills every month, she sighs like I'm bleeding her dry and writes me a check. (Mind you, she doesn't pay more than $150 in rent, which is less than 10% of the cost. When I asked her to start doing that this month, as it's been 8 months I've been doing her a favor and letting her live here because of her terrible custody situation, she looked at me like I'd stabbed her.) The girl has never, ever, on her own, paid a bill. That I know of, anyway. And I suppose it hasn't occurred to her that I haven't presented her with a post-it for about 6 weeks now. If it has, she hasn't said a thing.

This, people, is why I want to hit her over the head with an anvil some days. Even though she's a good and nice person, fun to hang out with, and a kind-hearted girl, she lives as though her life has no impact on anyone around her. What's more, she's 25 years old and takes the path of least resistance at every possible opportunity, being mostly unmotivated and uninspired to do much to avail herself of the opportunities of the world. It's just easier to let other people take care of you.

On top of it all, she has a 2 1/2 year old, who, up untill the point at which I said "My house is not a free-for-all for your kid and the fact that you've considered that it IS has got to be the rudest thing I've ever seen," wasn't disciplined. At all. ONLY since I put my foot down and suggested (read: insisted, in a way that had my skin crawling from all the boundaries I felt I was breaching, insomuchas "parenting" a kid that isn't mine) that she wasn't doing him any favors by refusing to take a firm line, has it improved. He's a good kid-- strong-willed, and a toddler; a difficult situation he can't be blamed for--it was HER unwillingness to take control that the problem. And although, as I said, it's gotten better, it sometimes continues to be a problem.

However, even with this living, breathing, talking daily dose of reality coming in every day and needing things, it STILL isn't enough to wake her up to the ways she needs to get a grip on her life, and stop laying passively around til a solution reveals itself (or the cable and phone get turned off.).

To wit:
We had a conversation last week about the Dr. Laura scandal (Annie thought she was right, I thought she was wrong; that's neither here nor there in this example). I commented that, either way, I LOATHE Dr. Laura with the fire of a million suns, since she I find her a.)self-righteous to the point of nastily judgmental; b.) downright cruel and unprofessional in her "theraputic" approach with those who seek her advice and c.) delusionally conservative about how people should conduct their lives, inserting her own values and ideals into her feedback like it is simply reality. Especially, I said, when she deals with SINGLE MOMS (whom she villifies for a.) slutting it up and getting knocked up outside of marriage OR b.) leaving their husbands even despite there being a child involved; c.) working outside the home and leaving the kid with other care providers and d.) in general, being a poor example of womanhood doomed to raise serial killers and rap stars and deserving of every blight that might come their way as they struggle to bring up a child on their own.).

Annie's response? "I think she's right. Mothers should be home with their children."

Um, sure, I stammered, not really believing she meant that comment QUITE like the uninsightful blurb I'd just heard. That would be ideal, but AS YOU KNOW, the world doesn't really work that way. Most mothers would like to be home with their children, I'm sure, but--

"I don't believe that. I think some mothers like to work. I think that's wrong."

Hoo-boy. Here we go, I thought. Here we go on THIS thing again: how she thinks all mothers should stay at home with their kids untill they're of school age, and how dads are no substitute, since they're not MOMS and parents who want to--god-forbid!--have their own lives as well (by, say, having a career, or taking a vacation without the kids or maybe even not letting the kid sleep in the marital bed til he's 4) are selfish and shouldn't have had kids in the first place.

But I said nothing on THAT tangent. I just said, "Well, urhm, that's another discussion. SINGLE MOMS, though-- I mean, what are they supposed to do? They have to take care of their kids and provide for them! There isn't another way! And to get on the air and brutally down-dress them for making the tough choices....that's just wrong."

(Think you know what's coming? Oh, just WAIT for it. )

She says, "Their priority should be to BE there for them. "

The fact that my mouth didn't fall open from shock is a triumph of self-control, my friends. Instead I said, " It's one thing to BE there for them, Annie. But you know, FEEDING THEM and putting a ROOF OVER THEIR HEADS kind of takes priority over that. I'm just sayin'."

She shot me a look like I was the devil spewing infant-eating propaganda and said, "Well, whatever. I guess that's your opinion...."

And I changed the topic, aghast at what I had just heard.

Cognitive dissonance, anyone? I mean, do I really have to spell it out for her? SHE'S a single mom. Ed (the babydaddy) isn't going to pay child support -- he already told her he'd go to jail before he did. Right after he threatened to kill her (resulting in a restraining order, which expires Sept. 30th; the problem of which she's been addressing by sitting on her ass and not consulting legal advice about getting it extended for her continued protection. BTW: having this status as a "domestic violence" case can help her get more access to public assistance, like housing and such... but ONLY with an active order.). So as far as caring for this kid goes, even with joint custody (yes, the judge gave them joint custody, even though THAT'S techinically against the law if there's a restraining order in place....fucking psycho judge. Don't get me started.), she's on her own. She gets a little money from the state, and insurance, and foodstamps and her public transportation subsidized. When she moves out of here (how that's gonna happen, I don't know!) the majority of rent, sundries such as diapers, clothes, laundry, etc., and utilities are on HER.

I discussed this with her as recently as two weeks ago. I finally told her family --and her--that hey, it's been 4 months since this custody judgement. It's not looking like Ed is gonna fuck it up and get sent to jail for breaking the order or non-payment of child support soon so she can get full custody and move back to you like we all suspected and even hoped. As much as I hate to say it, this looks to be an ongoing life circumstance for her that she has to stay here in Los Angeles. It's unfair and awful, no doubt. But it is what it is, and unfortunately, I cannot emotionally or financially afford to be the ongoing solution. I'm happy to be part of a support system, but Annie needs to start looking at stepping out and taking responsibility for her life, including finding alternative housing and work.

Her family was 100% behind me. Annie? Fell apart. Which is to be understood; it's a scary prospect. I wouldn't shove a dog into this city alone. But she's not ALONE alone; she just needs to be ON HER OWN. Which is something she's never, ever been.

(Did I mention she was 25? Right. Never rented her own place, paid her own bills, HAD her own bills, bought a car, bothered to learn to drive a car, or lived alone. Has had a whopping 3 jobs, none of which she has had to keep for more than a year. Right.)

I suggested that she take advantage of the FREE (!!) childcare afforded to her by the state and get a job, and she FLIPPED IT.

"I cannot leave my son! I cannot leave my child! I won't do it!"

Well, Annie, that's up to you, but you have to solve this problem. I'm giving you the deadline of January to sort it out. If there's anything I can do to help you solve it, I will. But the arrangement we're in cannot continue. I can't do it anymore.

I know, I'm the biggest bitch ever, right? Tossing a single mom out into the streets with a kid and a psychopathic ex? Right. I thought so, too, at first. For many months I tried to come up with alternatives: maybe we could pool our resources and rent a bigger apartment. Maybe I could work more and she could work a little and we'd have plenty. Maybe we qualify for Section 8....

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks: the very idea of continuing to be this girl's sole Answer To Everything just wore me out. I don't know if I was conscious of how much it was bothering me: I just started sleeping 12-15 hrs a day. Then I started sleeping DURING the day so I didn't have to navigate the exhausting craziness made in my own home by a very active-and-sometimes-tantruming 2 year old running around (sorry to anyone who has toddlers; I do love kids. I even love this kid. However, as I'm sure you're aware,your home is no longer YOURS when you have kids. They run the show. Don't get me wrong: that's normal; he's normal. But as I didn't birth this kid OR sign on to parent a kid at this stage in my life for a variety of good, sound reasons, I find myself a bit ill-equipped to handle it all, you must understand.). I gradually moved on to quiet moping and refusing to see friends. I started feeling like I was old and used up. And it took a professional mental health provider AND my BFF AND several other people to point out, "Hey, why is this your problem to solve? Isn't it hers? Isn't it HER child? What about YOUR life, YOUR dreams, YOUR goals? When does she grow up and take her life on her own shoulders ?."

Where, in other words, were HER answers, HER suggestions, solutions, worries, or concerns about the sustainability of the living situation in this house, or HER situation in general?

Answer: I don't know. And I don't know what solutions she's working on for January. I don't know why she thinks the only way to be a good parent is to be a stay-at-home-mom. I don't know why it's never occurred to her to WANT to be on her own, even before Davy was born. I don't know why it didn't occur to her that it might not be FAIR to presume that I would continue to provide for her and her child indefinitely.

Obviously, I don't even know why she thinks bills pay themselves or it's a good idea to run a dryer in the middle of an August day in Southern California. Even simple things seem to elude her grasp, which, given her level of native intelligence (very high), is really something to ponder.

Maybe I can mash up those bananas and freeze them til tomorrow....I'm suddenly feeling very tired again.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Yes, I'm back, bitches.

After an 8-month hiatus from this bitter machine, one would think I would have gained a new outlook on life, or at least a less snarky attitude, since I had no outlet for the snark. I was pretty sick of hearing myself complain and whine, and I figured that if I took a step back and whined less, perhaps there would be less to whine about.


What happened instead is that there was NO outlet for any whining and thusly, I started developing all kinds of wrinkles around my lips, from pursing them together in a semi-permanent sour face. Clearly, I need somewhere to let off steam or I'm going to look like I suck lemons and possibly develop an ulcer. Or a brain tumor.

So here I am, back with a vengeance.

However, I have made a solemn vow to myself to at least spend as much time on being positive as I do on being negative. Call it an experiment in mental health, or my attempt to debunk The Secret-- whichever. I'm just going to call it Not Wanting to Live In Bittertown All The Time Anymore.

But that doesn't mean we can't visit there....

As I did today. Read on...

Two of my cousins became fiancees this week. TWO. One on each side of the family, so I am not spared the forthcoming silent judgment from either my father OR my mother. How do I know it's there if it's silent, you ask?

To this I answer, "How do we know there is oxygen?" Take my word for it. Consider me a scientist of all things Marie and Ross. It's there, okay? Even worse, it's going to be there from the rest of family, too. They already, as I'm sure I've explained in previous posts, think I'm a.) a lesbian; b.) crazy or c.) a crazy lesbian. Whatever the mysterious reason I remain as yet unmarried must be my fault (after all, there's nothing worse than being either crazy or a lesbian, and in certain factions of the family, either or both are major failings in character), so if there were any pity (which is SO much fun, too!), it's likely long gone.

So my plan for revenge is simple: when I marry Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who, being 12 years younger than me, a successful millionaire and a smoking hot lust object for more than one generation, will surely inspire envy and ire from all sectors), I can promise that, without a trace of guilt, I will not be inviting any of them. I don't like their taste in gifts, anyway. I've got all the Wal-Mart tchtockies I can use, thank you.

But none of this means I can't feel sorry for myself, of course.

Don't think I'm not. I am. Pretty earnestly. I'm trying to assauge this wretched feeling by telling myself that Cousin A is a 19 yr old Mormon girl, and her whole job in life is to GET MARRIED and HAVE YOUNGINS, lest she miss out on that Celestial Kingdom situation with her Forever Family (personally,if I thought I were going to be stuck with my nuclear family in Some Version of Heaven for eternity, I WOULD go be a lesbian. Gays aren't allowed in Mormon Heaven, see. I'll bet they're having one awesome party down there in Outer Darkness, though...). Cousin B is 36 and not the deepest tide pool on the beach, and the prospective hubs is of a military sort, which comes with its own set of issues.

It isn't working very well, though. See, I love Cousin A and Cousin B. Both of them love me, and we get along famously. All issues about (what I consider wackadoodle) religious beliefs and intellectual depth aside, they are BOTH wonderful people who have been nothing but kind to me, ever, and who deserve happiness. I could stand here and pick apart all of their flaws, but I really don't want to and don't have it in me to NOT wish them well. While it's certainly true both of them have some life circumstances that make finding a mate a fairly straightforward deal (god forbid I'd have married any one of the dudes I was dating in college....eeeghghg.), really, not the least of which IS being nice and kind and relatively, well.....I don't wanna say "simple", because this implies they would ride the short bus to school, but it's the only word that comes to mind. Simple. As in, not particularly complicated or conflicted. Which, for me, would be akin to asking me to suddenly sprout a third arm or something. I can't do it, never could, and likely, never will. I don't think any one of us is better than the other, mind you. (I certainly took that tack as a teenager, but I've grown out of being THAT pissy. Yes, I have. YES, I HAVE. Oh, shut up. ) We're just different in some key ways.

So if it's not some failing on either of our parts, what IS the problem? Why AM I not yet living in connubial bliss with my soulmate, while both of them plan big Barbie Dream Weddings?

The answer is....

....I don't know.

If I were comfortable with that answer, and didn't feel like a pariah AND a failure (two for the price of one! Fun!) every time someone in my life announces they're gettin' hitched, I wouldn't be blogging right now. If I were A-OK with being alone and steeped in unimaginable personal bliss, I'd be sitting here watching HBO and eating Ferrer Rochay right this SECOND.

Obviously, I'm not. I'm very angry, and bitter, and desperate. ( All of which makes men just TRIP over themselves trying to get to you, BTW.) And I wish I could stop feeling this way, if only to ensure that I send them a nice gift with sweet wishes for their wedding day, instead of a Marie Special (a cheapo Wal-Mart tchtockie masking passive-aggressive disdain/envy/bitterness and deeply ingrained tightfistedness).

But I don't know how. I've tried everything I can, including extensive therapy on the matter, and it doesn't. Ever. Work. It might be that untill *I* get a Happily-Ever-After of my own, I will just have to swallow it, make a dilligent effort to ignore the haters in my family, and have a friend help me pick out gifts to make sure that I'm behaving cordially and appropriately.

Which, not surprisingly, makes me even sadder than ever.