Thursday, December 26, 2013

In which a Thanksgiving passes without too much drama

Have you been wondering how Thanksgiving chez Doris and Sly was this year? I have. So I asked Primo, who had spent his Thanksgiving with me, grilling a steak and watching "Brokeback Mountain," and then putting the snow tires on the car and vacuuming and all the fun things that adults get to do with their time and money.

But he was home and not with Sly and Doris so it was a good weekend.

He spoke on the phone with Sly and Doris on Thanksgiving and then again on that Sunday because of course they expect a call on a holiday and then there is the regular Sunday call.

Am I the abnormal one for not calling my mother every week and talking to her for an hour about whatever? For not listening to her complain about how awful the entire world is and how I am her Only Joy (only she would never say that because I am not - my mom has many hobbies that keep her too busy to chat)? Am I a Bad Daughter for not calling my mom every week?

Or do Sly and Doris expect too much and should Primo put his foot down and tell them to leave him alone? (How I wish he would. I have tried to convince him but thus far have not been successful.)

Anyhow. He spoke to them about their Thanksgiving, which they spent with Stephanie, who is my ex sister in law - she was married to Primo's half brother Jack until a few years ago. Sly and Doris almost never have anything nice to say to her or about her yet she is a saint, going over to help them with household repairs and inviting them over for holidays.

Primo spoke to Sly and Doris on Sunday. Doris was telling him that Thanksgiving was nice. As she was speaking, Sly was in the background telling Doris "not to tell Primo about that thing because I don't want it to get back to Stephanie."

So of course Primo reported that odd conversation to me.

"Did they not say anything negative about Stephanie?" I asked.

"My dad said the turkey was dry. He said he could tell the second he walked into the house."

Which I didn't understand - how can you tell if the turkey is dry before you even see it or taste it?  But Sly is a man of many talents and his power is legion.

"Is that what's not supposed to get back to Stephanie?"

"I don't think so," Primo said.

We mused. What could it be? Now we wanted to know.

I texted Stephanie.

  • Me
    What happened at t giving that S didn't want D to tell P about bc it might get back to you?
  • Stephanie
    I have no clue other than the fact that I was exhausted, why what r they saying?
  • Me
    Nothing! D said dinner was nice and S said something to her about not saying anything
    So I was wondering
  • Stephanie
    Why do they always make issues
  • Me
    But maybe it's some stupid R thing

  • Stephanie
    I know he refused to help cut the turkey
    I was so tired n regret inviting them
  • Me
    Because they are whiners
    and you are a saint to invite them!
    He refused to cut the turkey? Why?
    If you had told him he couldn't do it, he would have pitched a fit!
  • Stephanie
    D asked him to cut it n he said no Stephanie is capable of cutting it herself
  • Me
    Oh Lord.
    You deserve a medal!
  • Stephanie
    I am never inviting them again, they have a son here who doesn't give a crap about them...... I am done!!! Oh n they were upset that I made a cheesecake too
  • Me
    Who doesn't like cheesecake?
    And even if they don't like cheesecake, all they have to do is NOT EAT IT
  • Stephanie
    I don't want or need drama in my life oh n I think they were upset bc the kids were home all week n didn't go n c them
    It wasn't that they didn't want to eat it they said that they didn't know I was making a pie or they wouldn't have bought 2
    Now I'm twisted! !!
  • Me
    I guess the obvious question of why don't the kids want to see them has never crossed their minds
    Twisted person
  • Stephanie
    Lol should b twisted sister. Lol
  • Me
    Yes! You are my twisted sister!
  • Stephanie
    Yes, i just dont get them at all!!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

In which there is a very sincere potluck and I am a bad, bad person for thinking it is funny

But come on - don't you think this is kind of funny, too?

Please bring something to share. We do have friends who are vegan, vegetarian, lactose intolerant, and gluten intolerant so please consider making something they could enjoy as well. 

No matter what you bring please label it with ingredients for those with allergies (meat, milk, eggs, nuts, etc)

I think the only food that would work would be water.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

In which I learn more about Sly and Doris' sex life again, even though this is not a subject that interests me at all

Me: Oh man! Listen to this title: "The sex toys in the attic. For the sake of your executors, throw them out. Now."

Primo: What?

Me: What if we find something in your mom and dad's basement?

Primo: I know we will.

Me: What?

Primo: I already know they have sex toys.

Me: How on earth do you know that?

Primo: Because--

Me: Wait. Stop talking. I do not want to hear another word about this.

Primo: But--

Me: No! Nothing! Nothing else about your parents' sex life!

Primo: OK.

Me: Seriously. Why do they tell you this stuff?

Primo: They have nobody else to talk to.

Me: Doesn't matter. They need to make friends. This is not appropriate conversation between a parent and a child.

Primo: My mom has nobody.

Me: Not your fault.

Primo: I feel bad for her.

Me: OK. How do you know about this?

Primo: Because the last time I was there, my dad asked me to go to Target and get C batteries.

Me: So?

Primo: I asked him what the batteries were for and he wouldn't tell me.

Me: Why did you ask him? Why would you care?

Primo: Because almost nothing uses C batteries any more. Wouldn't you want to know?

Me: No. I wouldn't care at all. So how did you find out?

Primo: I asked him again. Finally, after the third time, he told me they were for a vibrator.

Me: Oh gross.

Primo: Yeah, I know. But he is very proud that at his age, his sexuality is still a major part of his identity.

Me: That's not the issue. The issue is he tells you about it.

Primo: I know.

Me: So you don't want to know this stuff either.

Primo: I think it's gross.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

In which there is another birthday and another present from Doris blessherheart

Stop reading right now if you get bothered by someone complaining about a gift. I am going to complain about something that someone gave me, freely and without expectation of reciprocity - wait - there is totally expectation of reciprocity. Doris totally expects something expensive in return.

But given freely, despite Primo's gentle warnings that Mom, she probably won't like that. Mom, don't get that for her.

I am a bitch. I complain about gifts when they come from Doris. I complain because

1. Except for the Envirosax bags that roll up and fit into my purse and the Lands End flannel sheets that Primo begged them to get if they were going to get us anything, even though they harrumphed and asked why should they get us sheets and Primo had to explain that we had been coveting those sheets for three years but could not bring ourselves to spend that much on sheets but they were on sale and Lands End was offering free shipping so now, now was the time to get them, Doris has never sent me anything I have liked or kept. Except Primo kept the cast-iron cat.

2. Every time Doris sends me a present, after I have confirmed with the store that they will not tell Doris that I have returned the item, I have to pay to send it back and then I end up with a store credit to a store that sells stuff I do not want.

3. Which means I have to cast about desperately for a way to use the credit.

4. And I don't always do that, because the stores are usually very expensive and sell things I don't like.

In this case, I will have to drive to the post office on Saturday to mail the box, because it is a huge box and too big to bring to work on the bus and send from the mailroom.

I already went through a live chat with the store, only I had to wait and wait because despite their assurances that they are open until 9 p.m. every day, they are not and live chat was offline yesterday afternoon and this morning.

I had to chat with customer service to ask if Doris would know if I returned the item and she would not tell me until I had given her the order number. Then she wanted my name and address and I asked why, if she had the order number, did she need that info? Shouldn't all that pull up when you key in the order number? Honestly.

The customer service person told me that not only did I have to pay for the return shipping, I would only get a store credit.

Did I show you the item?

It is a green glass pear.

I know. I am completely screwed if Doris ever finds this site.

But again, I ask myself, "What in Doris' time with me and her nine days in my house would ever lead her to believe that a green glass pear would be something I would want?"

That is the same basic question I asked when Doris sent us the cheap Chinese pressed wood nesting tables painted with hibiscus and hummingbirds. The cast-iron cat. The vase handpainted with purple flowers.

If you ever came to my house, you would understand why I ask these questions because truly, there is nothing in my house to indicate a liking of frou frou things and especially not of frou frou things that have no practical use and have to be dusted.

Again, I repeat - I know I am a bitch for complaining about this. I know there are people who have horrible things going on in their lives, far worse than getting a green glass pear as a birthday present.

If you want to think badly of me, go ahead. But if you have ever been the recipient of repeated unwanted gifts that have nothing to do with what you would ever want and are given to you despite someone's gentle advice that really, that is not something you would want, you might have a little bit of sympathy for my whining.

Stephanie, my sister in law, suggested I re-gift it back to Doris. I am willing to give that a shot. Stephanie also noted that Doris hadn't even given me the set. Not that I want three glass pears, but at least then I could afford some of the other items on the site.

In the mean time, I have looked through the site. There are some linen sheets that I thought might be nice. I would have to pay extra, but you know. Green glass pear $59, linen sheets $109. That's a $50 difference.

I looked more closely.

That was $109 for a sheet. One sheet. One flat sheet. An entire set would have been almost $300.

However - Doris did address my birthday card to "Gold Digger D." instead of "Gold Drunk." So there is some progress.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

In which there is another fundraiser

Primo: I need to talk to you about something.

Me: No.

Primo: You don't even know what it is!

Me: When you start with, "I need to talk to you about something," it always ends with something I don't like.

Primo: This isn't bad. I'll do everything.

Me: Definitely no now.

Primo: You won't have to do a single thing.

Me: No. Way.

Primo: I spoke to Cassandra McCauly today.

Me: She wants to run for governor.

Primo: Yes. I want to have a fundraiser for her here.

Me: No. I am not doing another fundraiser.

Primo: You won't have to do anything.

Me: I'm not doing anything.

Primo: Nothing. I will do everything.

Me: I am not cooking.

Primo: I will get volunteers to bring the food.

Me: The house has to be cleaned.

Primo: I know. I will vacuum.

Me: It's not just that.

Primo: I will vacuum the living room and the dining room.

Me: The bathroom has to be cleaned.

Primo: I will vacuum the living room, the dining room, and the bathroom.

Me: No. The bathroom has to be cleaned. The toilet and the sink and the tub.

Primo: I will clean the toilet and the sink.

Me: And the tub.

Primo: That's what a shower curtain is for.

Me: Do you know how many times I have pulled the shower curtain back to check the tub at other peoples' houses?

Primo: I don't care about the tub. Nobody will be taking a shower. I don't care.

Me: But other people will. And they will blame me if it's not clean.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

In which Primo is praised for his protest t-shirt by someone who asked breathlessly if he had been arrested

Primo spent Friday and most of Saturday in the state capital with his party peeps, protesting. There were speakers from around the country and there was singing and drum beating and of course, there was a t-shirt.

The t-shirt was about the main protest event - a protest that has been going on for a couple of years now. I don't know what they are protesting against or for. The main thing these days seems to be that the protesters not being allowed to protest in the capitol building without a permit.

There is a case to be made that protests against the government should not require a permit, but there is also the case to be made that people who are trying to conduct business on behalf of The People should be able to go on about their business without having to listen to protesters in the capitol rotunda. I am all for people doing what they want, but once they start to annoy me, they need to knock that crap off.

I am not particularly tolerant of noise when I am trying to work. Now that I am no longer in an office and am stuck in cubicle land, I am subject to the endless sounds of eating of dry granola and carrot sticks by the woman who works behind me. She is also always on the phone, which is what happens at work sometimes, but then she makes personal calls that have been quite loud. And she brings in re-heated French fries, the smell of which makes me gag.

She never shuts up and she never stops eating, so last week, when we had our ANNUAL meetings with the three managers from France, Spain, and England, when she sent an email to everyone in our usually not phone-talking group because the people we deal with are in different time zones asking us to "keep it down to a dull roar," I wanted to march over to her desk and ask, "Really? REALLY? YOU are asking US to be quiet?"

But I didn't because I am a big fat chicken. Instead, I just slap on headphones when she starts eating and I listen to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore.

Where was I?

Oh. The right to protest without a permit. It's a legitimate issue, but don't protest around me when I am trying to get something done or trying to get somewhere. You have a right to protest. You don't have a right to keep me from doing what I want to do.

So Primo went to the protest. He promised me he would not get arrested. There have been numerous arrests over the past few weeks. We agreed that he would not get arrested, even if he thinks it's a good cause.

He returned with a t-shirt about the protest. Let's call it the "Protesting for No Apparent Reason" protest, or "PNARP." He was wearing the shirt. We walked into town to watch a band perform at a town festival. A woman came up to Primo and gushed, "Were you there?"

Primo: Yes. I went today.

Woman: Oh my! Did you get arrested?

Primo: No.

Woman [look of disappointment]

Me [dryly]: It is not in our financial interest for him to be arrested.

Woman [confused look]

Me: If someone wants to make a point for The People by being arrested, that's fine. But we are not interested in spending $1,000 to make that point.

Woman draws back, smiles uncertainly. I am pretty sure she thought I was a weird bitch who wasn't properly supportive of The Cause.

She is correct.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

In which we highlight the differences between my mom and Sly and Doris

What my mom does that bugs me (note that none of these things are bad at all)
1. Asks me to go to church to pray for my brother, who has been having some health problems
2. Uses a lot of italics and bold and ALL CAPS!!!! in her emails.
3. Sends me very detailed emails about what's going on in her life

What Sly and Doris do that bug me
1. Tell Primo he is a bad son
2. Make vicious comments about everyone they know, probably including Primo
3. Complain about everyone
4. Criticize everyone. Primo sent me this message from chez Sly and Doris:

We were watching tennis today. There was some young girl who won a contest singing the national anthem at the U.S. Open. He didn't just say that she wasn't good (although she was at least OK); he said that it was an insult to any person with a sense of patriotism to pick anything less than a great singer for the anthem.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

In which Primo makes the semi-annual haj to Sly and Doris' house

Primo is visiting Sly and Doris so there will be lots of good stories. Unfortunately, they do come at a price. Primo has to live through this.

1. Sly had a list of chores for Primo. Primo is supposed to replace the shower head and supposed to power wash the porch screens. He wrote to me:

Primo: I'm cranky. They bought a pressure washer and want me to clean the "screenarium." They claim that they tried hiring someone but he didn't do it right. Jack should be doing that kind of work.

Me: What? WHy did they BUY a pressure washer?
And how does someone not do it right for pressure washing?
and why won't they ask Jack to do this stuff?

Primo: They say that the guy who didn't do it right did a half-assed job. You hired Amish Bruce, so you know how things work sometimes.
Maybe I should ask Jack to do this stuff. I've been mad at him for years because of his effect on their long-term financial picture. He's never going to come up with money to pay them back, so in my opinion helping them is the least he could do.

My dad is eager to make excuses for Jack. He doesn't seem to think Jack owes them as much as I think he does.

2. I wrote to Doris about how Primo and I had investigated hiring a cleaning lady but it would be too expensive. I told her the story of being on a business trip to the Middle East and talking to one of the women in the office there, who was horrified when she realized that I did not have daily help. "But who cleans your house?" she asked.

"I do," I said. I explained to her that in the US, it is only rich people who have maids.

I mentioned that story to Doris and she got all upset, telling Primo on the phone that she and Sly have a cleaning lady but they're not rich.

I pointed out to Primo that actually, his parents are quite well off, and that usually, "maid" refers to someone who comes every day whereas (I think) a cleaning lady is more of an occasional things.

Doris then had to write to me to tell me that they were not rich. Not rich!

I wanted to write back and ask, "And yet you spend hundreds of dollars on booze, you have a cleaning lady, a gardener, a big-screen TV. You eat out all the time. You are not poor."

In the letter, I also mentioned that my boss had been acting erratic and irritable and my co-workers and I were speculating that he might have early-onset dementia or might have a drinking problem. I commented that we all walk on eggshells around him because we don't know what might set him off.

She had nothing to say about that.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

In which we discover that Sly and Doris are indeed not steak worthy

Primo and I had a big argument before he left to visit Sly and Doris because he wanted to take one of our Good Steaks with him and I maintained that Sly and Doris are not steak worthy.

This is a variation of an argument we have had before - not everyone is bratwurst worthy.

My uncle and cousins own a deer-processing and sausage-making business up north. It is illegal to sell a product with venison in it, so they give us venison bratwurst and breakfast sausages and summer sausage when we visit. I always take something to give in return, but what do you take? They are not big drinkers, so don't care about wine. They don't care about the fancy olive oil. You can get good cheese around here, so fancy cheese is not an option. I have taken some sausages from other countries, but it's hard to bring those into the US.

So even though they throw open the doors to the freezer and say, "Take as much as you want," the fact that it's an uneven exchange holds us back. I don't want to be greedy. I mean, I do want to be greedy, but I don't want to look greedy. I want all the benefits of greed - lots of venison sausages - with none of the disadvantages - people will think I'm a pig. 

I faced the same dilemma when my dad's cousin gave my mom and me a tour of the bakeries he and his wife own. He unlocked the door to the main bakery after it had closed, opened his arms, and said, "Take what you want!"

It was like a dream come true, right?

Only if you ever want to be invited back...

Anyhow, Primo and I have argued about which of our guests will get bratwursts and which will not. Almost all of our friends make the cut, but when a friend of his from high school came to visit, along with his wife and three kids, I argued successfully that the children should not get the Good Brats. 

"Kids think that Kraft Mac and Cheese is fine cuisine," I said. "I am not wasting good meat on them."

Primo agreed, but I couldn't convince him not to share the brats with his friend, either. 

Then there are the Good Steaks.

Several years ago, when we were in that part of the country, Primo and I stopped in the butcher shop in my mom and dad's hometown, which is near where my uncle has his sausage business. This shop is two blocks from where my grandparents used to live. The shop is in an old garage. This garage is the building my grandfather and great-uncle built for their auto-repair business during WWII. 

We looked at the freezer case and saw all kinds of cool things, like ground llama and ground bison and smokehouse bacon and thick porterhouse steaks and none of it expensive. 

But it's not the price that makes this stuff special - it's that it's all grass-fed, free-range meat, even though it's not promoted that way. This is a small town without a stoplight in the middle of farm country. Everyone knows everyone else and everyone knows how it's done, so it's not necessary to promote it.

We bought one of the 2" steaks as a test.

Oh my.

It was so good. And Primo is an amazing griller of meat. He does it just right. Anybody who has ever eaten at our house has raved about his steaks. 

Those steaks have become our go-to meal for company, but we only get a dozen or so a year. They are not as expensive as at a fancy store, but they are not cheap and a three-pound steak at ten dollars a pound adds up. Not to mention we pick them up in person when we are going north for vacation and we have limited cooler space.

Not a single person has not had some of Primo's steak and not complimented the steak and Primo's preparation thereof. Not one.

When Primo told me he wanted to take a steak with him to Sly and Doris' house, I protested.

"They are not worthy," I said. "If your dad would meet the butcher (a fourth-generation butcher whose grandfather was friends with my grandfathers), he would extrude disdain immediately. JP didn't go to college. You know what your dad thinks about people who didn't go to college. They are sub human."

Primo argued back. "They'll really like it."

I sniffed. "No they won't. Their taste buds are shot from drinking."

He insisted and won by saying, "What if I want to have a decent steak while I'm stuck there?"

Then I felt sorry for him because he was going for an entire week and would be miserable the entire time.

But I was still resentful. They did not deserve that steak. 

Primo carefully packed the steak and an ice pack in his suitcase along with a bottle of wine. "I'll have to check this bag," he said.

He never checks a bag.

He carried the steak with him for 1,000 miles. He drove it the 60 miles to Sly and Doris' house in his rental car because they won't pick him up.

He thawed it and he grilled it.

And then he sent me this message:

You were right. They weren't steak-worthy.
I cooked the steak tonight, and it was as excellent as I expected. My mom didn't like it very much (probably because her portion was overcooked), and my dad thought it was only "good" and not wonderful.

Which made me so sad because they didn't even try to appreciate the effort Primo had made on their behalf. But it did not surprise me.Once a jerk, always a jerk.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

In which my boss inspires me to look for a new job

As if being in a cubicle wasn't bad enough.

As if earning less than half of what I used to make wasn't bad enough.

As if having to sign a time card, even though I am salaried and am not paid extra for the Thanksgiving weekend that I spent in a plane to the Middle East wasn't enough.

My boss thinks that all I do is talk on the phone. Sometimes in Spanish.

Those were his words of high praise for me.

We were in a meeting and for some reason, he decided to praise every single person in our group.

He started with Vanessa, who just returned from a trip to Brazil and Chile. He complimented her on her all-around business acumen and her work in Latin America. Where she had spent two weeks. Not to diminish what she did, but I have been working with Latin America for the past year and I lived and worked there for two years. Vanessa took a two-week business trip there.

Then he praised Elisabetta, who is from Italy and says our boss is from The School That Is Old. "Great international background. MBA. Diving in and learning everything, even though she's new."

My boss has not wanted to give her any big projects because "she's only been with us for four months."

The guy who hired me quit a month after I had started and I had to take over his responsibilities, including preparing the presentations for the board of directors and doing the annual budget and strategic plan.

He praised Randall, who has been with the company for 20 years and is indeed great. Randall knows everything and everyone and is always very helpful.

He praised Bets, the admin, who is amazingly organized and has never punched anyone in the nose even though it would be warranted.

None of the praise he gave to any of my co-workers was undeserved.

But when he got to me, all he could think to say was, "Gold Digger. Gold Digger. Every time I walk by her desk, she's on the phone. Sometimes she's speaking in Spanish!"

And that was it.

It would be bad enough if it were true, but it's not.

I have maybe three phone/skype conversations a month at work. Almost everything I do is via email because of the time differences. When I do have conversations, I am usually calling from my house at 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. so the people I am talking to do not have to stay at work until after suppertime.

My boss thinks I am a Spanish-speaking phone gabber who never accomplishes anything.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

In which Primo realizes that a lot of the people in politics are not noble

Here's the scoop:

1. Primo has become really disillusioned with the internal politics of his party. The internal politics fascinates me. I love watching the backbiting and the facebook sniping and the ins and the outs. I have watched all of House of Cards, the American version, and chunks one and two of the British version. I have watched all of season one of Veep. I don't want to argue about the issues with anyone, but I love watching the machinations of power.

I am just surprised that it has taken Primo so long. It's been pretty clear to me for a long time that most people, in the end, work toward their own interests. (Exhibit A: I joined the Peace Corps not to save the world but to have some great adventures. It's a good thing, because I discovered that the world did not want to be saved.) There is nothing wrong with working toward your own interests. What is desirable is for it to be in your interests to have a fair, just, and equitable society. Primo thinks he can get people to contribute and work selflessly on the behalf of others by appealing to their altruistic sense. I say show them how it benefits them and then we all win. Same outcome, different path to get there.

So now he is thinking maybe he doesn't want to run for office again which would mean maybe he doesn't want to quit his job just yet (doesn't help we need a new roof - goodbye $10,000). Which is fine with me.

2. But still, I am seeking new employment. I have had two phone interviews and one in-person interview. (I credit my interview-getting cover letters to Alison at Ask a Manager and my improved resume to Kimberlee Stiens at Business for Good Not Evil.

My in-person interview was at the headquarters of a company known for its quasi-outlaw brand. Nothing illegal, but people who live on the edge, who don't follow all the rules, who are tough individuals.

Everyone at headquarters whom I saw was wearing jeans and t-shirts. To work.

Which is fine if that's the culture.

I was wearing an orange pencil skirt, a white t-shirt, and a black jacket that ties at the waist.

If I get this job, I wonder if I will have to 1. conform to the jeans culture or 2. be the rebel who doesn't wear jeans to work at a place that celebrates rebels. (Update: I didn't get the job.)

3. This guy messaged Primo on facebook while we were on vacation that he wanted to run for the State House next year in the district next to ours and would Primo help him? Would he would he would he?

Primo is too nice and told the guy he would talk to him when we got back from vacation.

It ended up being several meetings that took hours and then this guy wanted Primo to help on his campaign and blah blah blah. I was against it because why should Primo spend all his time on someone else's campaign. Primo was against it because this guy doesn't even live in the city, much less the district. He lives in the state capital and thought he could come in as an outsider and win an election in a district where his party does not hold the majority. He is also almost 70 years old and has health problems and no money.

Then this guy went to some protests at the capital and had chest pains and had to go to the hospital in an ambulance and then his doctor told him he shouldn't run, so after Primo has already spent several hours listening to this guy, this guy decides oops, maybe he shouldn't run after all.

So. The good news: Primo thinks he is not going to run for office again and I hope will not be helping anyone else run. The end.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

In which He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

My job, she is not going well. My co-workers and I think our boss might be losing his mind. He has been erratic and unpredictable and we are all walking on eggshells.

(PS I am writing this on July 5, the day after July 4th. I was at work. I was at work because I work for an organization that does not give July 5 as a holiday. We are not retail. We are not entertainment. We are boring corporate headquarters. My boss was happy we had today to work on the strategic plan. "We'll really be able to concentrate!" he said. "It will be really quiet!")

We think maybe he is drinking. Or is taking medication that is affecting him. Or that he had a small stroke. We don't know but he is acting weird.

1. We had a meeting in which he decided to praise everyone on our team. That in itself was bizarre - "Like a eulogy!" one co-worker said. For everyone else, he said things like, "Good strategic thinker. Broad business background. Developing new markets/products. Speaks Spanish and has traveled to Brazil."

For me, he said, "Gold Digger is on the phone all the time!"

1a. I am not on the phone all the time. Maybe twice a week.
1b. That is not exactly high praise.
1c. My co-worker who speaks Spanish? I, too, speak Spanish AND I worked in South America for two years, which, no disrespect to my co-worker, trumps a two-week business trip.

2. He had the financial report for the board of directors three weeks ago. The BoD meeting was this week. He waited until the day before the meeting to review the report and query me about all the numbers.

2a. I had too many footnotes.
2b. Why was I showing a variance of 26% when the 2013 number was 221K and the 2012 number was 176K? I finally had to explain that 221 divided by 176 is about 26%.

3. He announced a team lunch for today.

3a. We are not a lunch-going group.
3b. We all have other things we do at lunch, like going to the gym or for a walk.
3c. Now we can't do what we want to do but have to go to lunch instead.
3d. He picked a horrible chain restaurant, even though there are lots of good local restaurants as close as the chain.

4. He has paid 150% of my salary to headhunters for two positions. The organization has an HR department and a recruiter. Yet he doesn't go through HR to find new people. He is ready to spend three times my salary for a consultant to do what I have spent the past several months doing even though it is not clear that the consultant would add any value.

I am cranky cranky cranky.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

In which Primo is Not Doing It Right with facebook

Doris somehow found Primo's facebook page. They are not facebook friends, but she somehow saw something he posted, showed it and his page to Sly, and then they together wrote an email to Primo telling him he was doing it all wrong, "it" being his facebook profile.

1. Why is Primo not facebook friends with his own mother?

Do I really need to answer that question?

2. What could someone possibly find to criticize about someone's facebook profile?


While I wait for Primo to forward the actual email to me (if I had been in with S&D, they would have BCC'd me on their note to Primo. There is no criticism that is not good enough to share), I will summarize for you what they said.

1. His anniversary date is wrong.

Indeed it is. I put in a fake anniversary date because really, the internet does not need to know my anniversary date.

2. His hometown is wrong. That is, he put the place he lived his entire childhood until he went to college instead of the place he was born. He was born in Cambridge but grew up in - let's say Cincinnati, which is not where he grew up, but as you know, I try to change identifying details as much as possible on this blog. If Sly and Doris ever stumbled across it, I am sure they would think to themselves, "Wow. And we thought we were the only ones with a gold-digging daughter in law who eats bacon wrong! I guess we are on the right side of history because this bad bacon eating, bad cabbage using, bad envelope addressing DIL problem seems to be ubiquitous!"

So Primo put Cincinnati as his hometown instead of Cambridge. He's not doing it right!

3. He doesn't have Ted listed as his brother. He doesn't have Jack listed as his brother. He doesn't have Sly and Doris listed as his parents. How can he deny his family like that? Does he hate them? Is he ashamed of them? He is a Bad Son!

The actual email:

We got to your FACEBOOK page because of your email on [political figure].  We assume you are in [city] for Sam's birthday because of your post about [place].  Your dad doesn't "do" anything "facebook" but he did read through some of your information.  Strange that you don't  list your wife, parents or half-brothers as family members.
Your bio should also mention that you were born in [birthplace].  You also have January 1 listed as your anniversary (?).


1. What is the difference between "do" "facebook" and do facebook?
2. His wife is listed, but his wife has blocked Doris, so his wife's name will never show to Doris.
3. Always always always the "half" brother distinction. Now, I wouldn't want to claim Ted either, but is it necessary to qualify?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

In which we have a wedding

Me: My sister's wedding. Wow.

Primo: It will be fun.

Me: But a lot of travel in December.

Primo: Yes, but it will be fun. And we can be pretty sure that there won't be any drunk people there.

Me: Ah yes. So it will be nothing like our wedding.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

In which Primo loses his place as the Favorite Son In Law

One of the most stressful things about going on vacation with my family for my mom's birthday, other than worrying about getting Bart to stop for bathroom breaks, which turned out not to be a problem at all because he stopped any time my mom asked, and she needs to go more than I do, was watching Primo and Bart clash.

Oh. And watching Bart get lost because he insisted that his iPhone knew where we were going, even though some airport in Australia has asked Apple to disable Apple's map of the airport because people keep driving onto the flight line because Apple's mapping is so screwed up. Before we left, I suggested that we print a map to the cabin and Bart said no, he had it. Apple had him covered.

After seven hours in the car, when all I wanted to do was to get out and lock myself in a room by myself, we added 45 minutes to the trip because guess what? Apple didn't know how to get to the cabin! Bart and my sister weren't even speaking to each other except in low hisses. My mother kept trying to make suggestions, which is what someone who is used to being the boss does, but it has been my experience that most men (the men I have known) do not want unsolicited advice and they certainly don't want the unsolicited advice that they should stop at that gas station to ask for directions.

But the big part was watching two stubborn alpha males butt heads. Primo hates it when someone else is driving and when that someone else is as convinced of his own rightness as much as Primo is convinced of his, then there is tension.

I hate tension. I am tension averse. I am conflict averse. I am everything averse. And there was tension galore with Bart and Primo.

What made it even worse was that Bart wanted to do everything on a schedule and Primo hates schedules that he did not create. Bart had said we would leave my mom's house at 10:00 a.m. At 9:45, he was loading the van. He wanted to know where Primo's bag was and Primo's attitude was, Dude, it's not even 10:00 yet where's the fire?

But Bart was driving so Bart ruled and Primo got a little sulky about it.

I was impressed because I have never in the eight years I have known Primo been able to get him to be on time. Time is a flexible construct for Primo. It bends and curves and moves. For me, it is a straight line that starts with early, goes to on time, then drops straight off into Oh man I am late and that is so impolite!

My mother likes to be on time, too. Where do you think I got it from?

So we have Bart, who is

1. On time


2. who rented an SUV just so my mom would be comfortable (which was a very nice thing for him to do)


3. who calls my mother

4. on skype, which my mom has not been able to get me to do because why would I want to be on video? at least once a week just to talk, which is more than I do because I hate talking on the phone


5. who incurred my wrath (I hissed at him "Do not ever do that to me again" and when he tried to explain, I hissed again, "Do not! Do NOT do that!") in a way that made even Primo raise his eyebrows by summoning me to participate in a skype call with my mom last year when he and my sister were visiting, even though I was waving my hands in front of me, mouthing, "No! No!" because I do not like talking on the phone or on skype and I was not in the mood to talk on the phone and I certainly did not want to do so in a command performance

and who, for the grand slam,

6. not only told my mom that he would drive her to church when we were in Durango but that he, a non-Catholic, would also attend church with him.

Slam. Dunk.

Primo used to be the one on whom the sun rose and set. But now Bart, Bart is the favorite son in law. The king is dead. Long live the king.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

In which Primo has to hide the truth from Sly and Doris because Sly and Doris can't handle the truth

My mom turned 70 last winter.

Winter is not a good time to fly to Colorado, where she lives, unless you want to spend a lot of time in an airport, so we decided to postpone the celebration until nicer weather.

I didn't even know we would have a celebration but then my mom said she wanted one and the celebration she wanted was to have all her children and their SOs come to Colorado, drive to Durango, and take the narrow-gauge train from Durango to Silverton and back.

Which sounded great in principle and indeed was fun but when we were planning this event, I neglected to think through the "Durango is 350 miles from Colorado Springs"and "Colorado Springs is 1,000 miles from where Primo and I live" parts.

Which meant there was a lot of time spent sitting on our butts over the six days we were gone from home.

Which is totally not the point but may I say that my future brother in law, Bart, is a saint for having rented an SUV to get us all from Colorado Springs to Durango. I hate being in a car and I especially hate being in a car smashed up against other people and then throw in other people who want to talk for seven hours and you might as well give me a gun.

I love my family but man there is nobody who can press your buttons like the people who put them there.

I sat in the very back with my book and my peanut butter and jelly flavored almonds from the sale rack at Target and I was just fine. Mostly.

Well anyway.

The big dilemma was what, if anything, to tell Sly and Doris.

1. Sly and Doris think my family is "not close" and therefore I, or at least Primo, should never spend any time with them.

2. Sly and Doris are about to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and their 80th and 75th birthdays, respectively. What are we going to do for them? they ask.

3. If Primo takes any vacation time or does any traveling, it should be to visit them.

I advised Primo against telling them anything. "It will just tick them off," I said. "There is nothing to be gained from telling them about this."

"But what if they find out I lied to them?" he asked. "And what happens when I call them? We'll be on the train on Sunday and that's the day I usually call, so I'll have to call on Saturday and they'll want to know why."

I sighed. My mother does not cause such drama. My mother, weeks before we got to her house, was emailing me to ask if Primo liked banana bread and if Primo liked zucchini bread and if Primo liked breakfast tacos and what did Primo  like to eat? What should she cook?

My mother believes in providing meals for her guests, unlike some people who think that just because they don't eat lunch, neither should anyone else.

Primo put off telling his parents and put it off and suddenly, we were in Colorado and he hadn't said anything and then we were taking the train trip on Sunday, which is when Primo calls Sly and Doris, so he wouldn't be able to call and they would get angry and send him a nasty email about how he doesn't even have time to call his own parents and they guess they just don't rate very highly in his life etc etc etc.

He gave them a prophylactic call on Saturday - "Just tell them you'll be doing something else on Sunday," I suggested.

"But what if they ask what I'll be doing?"

"Tell them you're doing something political. That will make them happy."

Primo was shocked. "But that would be a lie!"

I shrugged. "Sometimes you have to lie. If you tell them the truth, they'll get angry and they'll take it out on you. Even the Catholic Church has some doctrine about the lesser evil. Lying to them is definitely the lesser evil."

And then we were on the train and I was posting photos from the trip and tagging Primo and it wasn't until we were on the ride back that I realized that although I had asked Stephanie, who is our facebook friend, not to mention anything to Sly and Doris about the trip - "I never tell them anything about you," she said - Primo's half-brother Ted, who is a jerk and would happily say anything to Sly and Doris to upset them about Primo, might be able to see the posts on Primo's page. I have blocked Doris and Ted on facebook - as far as they are concerned, I do not exist there, but I didn't know if Ted could see a post from me with Primo in it.

I panicked for the two hours back to the house and then had Primo delete every post I had made about him.

He sent Sly and Doris a long email and then called them later in the week.

They have not found out about the trip. But if they do, there will be hell to pay.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Things Primo is agreeing to do if I agree for him to quit his job

Paint the garage instead of hiring someone
Let me change my name back to my maiden name
Only visit his parents once a year
Let me publish my book, although under a pseudonym
More housework

Thursday, September 12, 2013

In which Primo is torn about which candidate to vote against

Primo: So I'm not sure who to vote for in the state party election.

Me: Why?

Primo: One of the candidates tried to get another candidate kicked out of the party. But his opponent is a transsexual who used to go places, like the bank, throw up her shirt, and announce, "I finally had it done!"

Me: I can see why that would be a tough choice.

In which my friend Bruce is going through a mid-life crisis

My friend Bruce told me that he was thinking of running for office. He owns his own business and is quite successful. He is financially secure, although some of that is due to sad circumstances: he was the sole heir when his grandfather and then his mother died. I think he'd rather have them around than have their money, but you don't get to pick these things. Nobody asks, "Would you rather your parents be dead and have $500,000 or would you rather they be alive?"

I would rather have my dad than have money. I would have been very happy to have had my dad around for the past 16 years. I didn't even get money in compensation, not that money can make up for the loss of your dad. It sure would be nice for Primo to have been able to meet him and for him to visit and hang out and do house and car repairs while he was here.

Oh I didn't take advantage of him. That's just how my dad rolled. He liked to fix things and he liked to stay busy. He came to see me once in Austin. I took him to my friends' lake place where they kept their boat. There was a problem with the lift or something and my dad was as happy as a pig in mud that he could diagnose and fix the problem.

A lot of my formative ideas about what makes a man are based on my dad. (Naturally.) And the idea that a man should be able to fix things comes from him.

My dad was an equal-opportunity dad - he believed women should be able to fix things, too, which is why he wouldn't let me get my drivers license until I could change the oil, change a tire, and change a belt on the car. I mean, I had to do all these things so he could see me doing them.

One gift bequeathed to me from my dad is the old Better Homes and Gardens (I think that's the publisher - I am too lazy to go upstairs to look) book on home repairs. I have used it - it is very useful to be able to fix your own running toilet or clear a clog in the kitchen sink.

How did I get on this subject?

So my friend Bruce is thinking of running for office.

I told him not to do it - that it was an insane idea and he would not get to see his family - he has two young children - for weeks, if not months.

"My wife is not excited about the idea, either," he said. "She said that if I need to do this - that if I have a strong spiritual need to run for office, that she will support me, but if it's just a mid-life crisis, she would rather I have an affair. Or buy a car."

"Any car?" I asked.

"A Corvette is OK. A Porsche is not."

"I wish Primo would just buy a new car," I said.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

In which I have a glimmer of hope that I might escape from here but then my hopes are dashed

Primo: I was arguing with Potsie last night about the Polka Dot candidate for governor. He thinks she's our best option but he's pretty sure she won't win.

Me: So?

Primo: Rather than accepting it, he should be working to get someone else elected! If the current [Stripes] governor is re-elected, the state will  become even worse, with all the Stripes agenda. If that happens, I will have to consider moving out of the state.

Me: Cool! So we can go back to Texas or Tennessee?

Primo: No! They're even worse! I'd have to go to Minnesota.

Me: I am not going someplace that's even colder than here.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Ha! Sly gets nailed!

I saw this story in Slate and showed it to Primo immediately. He laughed and agreed that Sly is a grammar (and every other kind of) bully. (Remember the time he got all mad at me because he tried to correct his granddaughter about the proper pronunciation of "extract" and she had said it properly and I defended her? And then the kids, Primo, and I had a long conversation about how Sly is always correcting them and they are tired of it. He doesn't correct them lovingly, he corrects them with anger and scorn.)

We wanted to show the cartoon to Doris, but we can't: her email is not secure because she and Sly share an email and he opens the mail that comes into the house and there is no way to have a private conversation with her. She had to slip a handwritten note to Primo during his visit to them last month in which she said that she thought Sly would have mellowed as he aged but instead he has just gotten meaner.

We don't dare risk Sly seeing the article or the cartoon because as you know, he has no sense of humor, especially about himself, and he takes his anger out on Doris, who can't defend herself. He doesn't try to bully me any more because he can't but man will he make Doris cry. Annoying as I find her, she doesn't deserve that.

So Primo is going to print the article and the cartoon and show it to Doris the next time he visits. We can try to make her smile somehow.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

In which my inner Machiavelli becomes useful

Primo burst breathlessly into the bedroom, where I was happily reading a book, minding my own business, not thinking about politics at all.

Primo: Remember that bill? The one about puppies? And how puppies should be taken for a walk every day, at least once a day?

Me: Yes. So?

Primo: Well, you remember that the people on my side were completely against the bill because they don't think the government should be telling people how to treat puppies?

Me: Yes.

Primo: They voted on it. And Slim Shady [Polka Dot majority leader in the state senate] voted for it! So did some other Polka Dots!

Me: Uh-huh. (I don't really care about this bill. I literally do not have a dog in this fight. Plus the bill contradicts a federal law about dog walking and you know what the constitution says about that.)

Primo: There were some Polka Dots in districts that are pretty evenly split between Polka Dots and Stripes, so they had to vote for the bill to keep the Stripes from making a big deal about it in the next election.

Me: Right. Standard political calculations.

Primo: But there are people who are not in contested districts who also voted for it! Why? I can't believe that Slim voted for it, too! I am so ticked at him! There is a huge facebook fight going on about this - a lot of Polka Dots are attacking him. Why would he do it?

Me: To provide cover.

Primo: What do you mean?

Me: He's providing cover so it's not so obvious why the people in the contested districts voted for it. Plus there's no chance the bill will ever become a law so it's a low-risk vote.

Primo [jaw dropping]: That's exactly it! That has to be it! I didn't even think about that. How did you figure that out so fast?

Me [modestly]: I was an English major. All I did was try to figure out why the characters did what they did.

Primo: But you don't care about politics.

Me: I don't want to talk about the issues with you, but I am very interested in the behind the scenes stuff.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

In which Doris' present becomes a further burden

Rember that stupid Meyer lemon tree that Doris sent us as an anniversary present a few years ago? She was nice to send us a present and she was very nice to send us an anniversary present - as far as I am concerned, the only two people who have to acknowledge an anniversary are the people inside the marriage. Primo and I celebrate our anniversary by exchanging greeting cards with kittens or penguins on them and by going out to a nice dinner - the kind where you don't wear jeans. But other than that, we don't do much because 1. we don't need more stuff and 2. we are trying to save money.

So Doris sent us this plant which wouldn't be such a bad thing except

1. A Meyer lemon tree (a little wee baby one, about ten inches high) is a tropical plant.

We do not live in the tropics. We do not have ten hours of warm sun a day for the plant to bask in.

We live in a cold climate where the sun disappears for days in the winter. We live in a house that was built in 1928, which, to anyone else who lives in a cold climate knows, means a house that leaks heat and money in the winter. It means unless you want to spend over $400 a month on heating in January, you close off half your house, turn the heat way down, and wear lots of clothes.

A Meyer lemon tree is not supposed to live in the cold and the dark. I googled "Meyer lemon tree care" and got lots of information about "Florida" and Meyer lemon trees.

We are not in Florida.

(Thank goodness, although I would happily move to Miami again. No snow there! Cuban food! What's not to like?)

2. I do not like houseplants. I had no houseplants until the lemon tree. Now I have one. Which is one more than I want. Houseplants are way too much responsibility.

Wait. I have two, if you count the kitty grass that we keep for the cats so they don't get (it doesn't work) hairballs in the winter. They still get hairballs, but they happily graze on the small pot of grass that lives in the kitchen window. Which is not a place where the lemon tree could live because it gets too cold in that window and it certainly does not get ten hours of sun every day, not even in the summer.

The kitty grass is easy: it lives above the kitchen sink, so I remember to water it. If it dies, oh well.

But the lemon tree.

My gosh she might as well have given us a puppy. A potted lemon tree cannot be ignored.

So for the past few years, I have moved that darn tree in and out of the house, depending on the season. In and out of the kitchen and the stairwell, depending on where the sun is. Watered when I remembered. Which is infrequently.

I put it outside once the weather started getting nice and hoped I could forget about it for a few months.

That was not to be the case.

There was a huge windstorm the other night.

The only thing that was damaged at our house was the lemon tree. It blew over and the pot broke.

Now, I am not sad about the possibility of losing the tree, but the fall did not kill it. Which means I have to try to save it. Which meant that last night, rather than goofing off and reading my book in peace because Primo is on a work trip so I have the house all to myself with nobody bothering me, I had to glue that darn pot back together. Of course the first tube of glue was completely dried out, so I had to go back to the basement to look for more glue. I wanted to throw away the dried-out glue, but didn't feel like arguing with Primo upon his return and his eventual discovery that the glue was gone.

The man has a photographic memory for things like that, but if I ask him to do one tiny thing like print something for me next week, he will tell me there is no way he can be expected to remember something like that.

I think he remembers what is convenient for him.

Anyhow, I promised him years ago that I would not throw away any of his crap without his permission and I have tried to stick to that, although I was sorely tempted when I was in his office last night and saw the raffle tickets we bought in March still sitting on his desk.

We did not win that raffle, which happened in March.

Yet the tickets rest on his desk still.

I itched, I itched, I tell you, to throw them away.

But I promised.

Primo would be hard pressed to find anything of mine to throw away. Sure, I still have some old address books and calendars, but I have two boxes of stuff compared to his office full and basement full of crap. Phone bills from 1997? Employee manuals from 1992? He's got them.

I don't want him dead, but I have thought that if he did have a car accident, the first thing I would do, after tearing down and burning the protest signs in his office and the framed photo of themselves that Sly and Doris gave us for Christmas a few years ago, would be to throw away all of his boxed stuff in the basement without even looking at it. My theory is that if he brought that stuff with him when he moved here from California eight years ago and hasn't opened it since, it is nothing necessary for life.

I put the dried-up glue back and found another tube. Glued the pot back together, cursing the stupid plant the entire time. Tonight, I will repot it. And wonder why it continues to survive despite the neglect.