Party Peeves

We went to a couple family parties this weekend. One was a Labor Day bar-b-que – which was relatively mild; the other was a family dinner in honor of the seventh birthday of my cousin’s kid. These parties (the latter for the most part) inspired me to compile yet another list of pet peeves. Today while we were eating lunch at Panda Express, I got a little teary over the music they were playing and realized it must be getting close to Rag Time, so excuse me if my reasoning sounds particularly bitchy.

Party Peeve 1:

You Scratch My Back, I’m Not Scratching Yours

How many birthday parties have we gone to where the other person never comes to ours? These people with this seven year old kid (relatives of my Trailer Trash Mom) are the worst offenders. They are the only real family we have in California – which makes it particularly difficult – because every kid party we have they never show up for, making ours sort of un-kid kid parties.

Year after year, though, I send down a gift when it’s time for one of their two kids to celebrate another birthday. When they have a family party for it, we make the two hour drive there and two hour drive back and bring wine and a side dish. We smile. We listen to people talk about their hillbilly family dramas. We show interest when my aunt talks about all the oppressions put upon her working for the Girl Scouts. We laugh when her husband tells jokes about watching pornography on the Internet.

But when it comes time for a kid party here, they can’t make the same trek.

Party Peeve 2:

Cow-Towing To the Old People

I’m sure when I’m elderly, I’ll want everyone to cow-tow to me like they do at my family parties. Kiss my ass and act like everything I say is plated in gold and shit. I’m not being a dick, either, by saying it’s a problem to let the elderly have the comfortable chairs or use the bathrooms first or whatever would make me sound like a real asshole. Because that’s not what I mean.

By cow-towing I mean that everyone in the family acts as they always do – as though what the old people say goes. An example: my grandma and grandpa went to college in Nebraska, so of course are Cornhusker fans. But if you aren’t a Cornhusker fan too, you have to sit there for forty-five minutes while grandpa fucking yells at you for being such a dumb ass. It’s really mean, actually, if you think about it because he will shout at you and tell you to get out of his presence if you support a team other than the Cornhuskers.

Just about everyone in the family swore their allegiance to the Cornhuskers a long time ago just to get grandpa to shut the hell up.

Party Peeve 3:

Feeding Kids Different Food

Oh dear God, this really roasts my ass. If you think it’s totally acceptable to let your kid drag you around by your she-balls, and therefore prepare meal after meal after meal until you settle on Spaghetti-O’s because your precious cargo has been conditioned (by you) to be a terribly picky and unhealthy eater – well then you should stop reading now. Because I don’t tolerate that shit, and so it really pisses me off when other people do it at a kid’s party we attend.

I can see that not all kids at the party are healthy eaters and the host just doesn’t want them to go hungry. I’ll accept that a lot of people were born and raised in a barn and, therefore, don’t care much about instilling basic values in their kids’ upbringing.

At our house, you have to try everything that is put on your plate. If we go out to eat or to someone else’s home for dinner, we all eat what is served. We do not request that people make us something special because we’d rather have neon-orange fat-O’s in a can.

At the family dinner Sunday night, they served BBQ chicken, bread rolls, fresh fruit – all in all, a pretty healthy meal. You can imagine, then, that I was fucking livid when I saw my mom carrying plates of per-request food for all the kids, none of which had BBQ chicken or fruit. All of which were covered in Spaghetti-O and macaroni and cheese slop.

Party Peeve 4:

Inadequate Planning

When I plan a party, I typically plan everything down to the “T.” It isn’t what you faithful blog followers are probably thinking: that I’m terribly anal retentive and OCD. (Well I am, but that isn’t what this is about.) The thing is that when people take the time and effort to come to a party you’ve thrown, the least you can do is have things organized at least enough so that things don’t get out of control and chaotic.

I mean, every party in which kids are involved is going to have a little chaos. But at least have it be organized chaos.

This party on Sunday was so poorly planned (go figure, it was done by my mother and her sister with the porno-watching-husband). It was supposed to be a kid’s party (sort of), but they really didn’t plan anything for the kids to do besides terrorize everyone else with chaos, out of control screaming, and whining that they were bored.

Of course my Trailer Trash Mom was too busy rambling on about her recent Hillbilly Husband sagas to actually entertain the kids. My aunt was busy cooking the food. My grandpa was yelling at me for being a Notre Dame fan, instead of the Cornhuskers. My aunt’s husband was in the other room looking at his Internet porn. Pretty much everyone else was just sitting back, watching carnage unfold until finally, towards the end of the party, Poor Nick and I took charge and played Duck-Duck-Goose with the kids to try and get things under control.

Party Peeve 5:

Dresscode

This is always a sensitive subject for some people. I get it: people didn’t come to the party to see my fancy house or my fancy clothes. So the place isn’t perfectly cleaned, and I’m wearing sweatpants – but we’re family so it should be OK, right? Or as a guest, you should just be grateful that I came and spent the money on a birthday gift and the time preparing these appetizers and the gas driving down and my Sunday that could have been spent doing something else I actually want to do, so I should be cool in these coolots and halter top, no?

Actually, NO. You should not be “cool” or “down” with people dressing down for a party. As is the case with organization, the least people could do is wear regular clothes or even just pants. When I opened the door to my aunt and her husband’s home Sunday, you can all imagine my surprise when I was greeted by her porno-watching husband wearing nothing but a t-shirt and Cornhusker boxer shorts. Maybe he was trying to impress my grandpa. Maybe he needed easy-access for when he’d be spending the duration of the party in the other room, looking at Internet pornography. Maybe he was just really hot. I don’t know, I just thought he could have actually put a pair of pants or at least shorts on. His boxers, in combination with my mother’s pant-wedgie that lasted the duration of the entire party and seemed to cause her nothing but pleasure, made the dresscode at this particular hillbilly brawl just intolerable for me.

After the lack of organization, the food problems, the underpants, the screaming at me for not pledging my loyalty to the Cornhuskers, and my mom rubbing her pant-wedgie further and further up her asscrack during the inevitable family photos that always cap off a family party with these people, I had just about had it.

What are your party pet peeves, faithful blog followers?

Things I Want To Do Before I’m 40

… JUST KIDDING! I’m not falling into that trap again. That whole “Things I Want To Do Before I’m 30” list I made 10 years ago this Sunday turned out to be a terribly depressing combination of things I failed at and things I never tried.

For those of you that haven’t gotten the memo I put out on the Associated Press (just kidding, again… I may be a blogger but I’m not that much of a narcissist): I’m turning 30 this Sunday. It’s a terribly depressing occasion for this bitch, and before you all start thinking I’m annoying and young and shit, just hear me out. I had this magical list of things I wanted to do before 30 and it wasn’t stuff like “swim with the dolphins” and “discover a cure for influenza,” it was a conglomerate of things I really actually thought and tried to do. Like finish graduate school. Like start a successful teaching career. Like be happily married. Like move the hell out of California.

So I have already been celebrating my birthday for a few days now. I suppose you could consider my epic travels to my sweet home, Chicago to have been something of celebration, but I am meaning in immediate terms when I say “celebrating.” Yesterday I went to lunch with my parents, which was nice (daddy got me drunk by 2 in the afternoon). I got my new Cuisinart Multicooker and a gravy boat that is shaped like a cow and pours the gravy out of its mouth. Today I am baking myself a cake (since no one else is apparently planning on doing so). And there is something else I need to do as I go into my weekend of minimal activities, and that is to light fire to my list of things I want to do before I’m 30.

Graduate school and a successful career in teaching … burn it down

I suppose I should give myself credit for the fact that I have not one, but two Bachelors of Arts degrees from an accredited, private institution. And while I began my graduate degree in Philosophy, leaving the program was a necessity to stop wracking up debt that I wasn’t going to be able to sustain as a result of having limited job opportunities locally where my husband’s job in the film industry is. I really wanted to be done with graduate school and well on my way to a successful career in teaching by now. This defined my life for the better portion of my 20s. For now at least, my graduate degree and a career in teaching is not in the cards for me. I think it’s time to get over this and move on.

In addition to that, though, after having been out of graduate school for a few years now, I can see how insane grad students are. They don’t eat. They don’t sleep. They look like shit all the time. No offense to my graduate student friends and faithful blog followers, but have any of you considered how much coffee and crap you ingest just to get through the day? I have never felt as healthy and well as I have the last few years, which owe in large part to the fact that I’m out of that grind.

Publish my first novel … up in flames

The novel was a recent goal that I added within the last three years or so since about the same time I left graduate school. It’s a lot of work to write a book, though – more work than I thought it would be. And I don’t just want to write crap, which is why after completing my first draft of the book about nine months ago, I trashed the entire thing and have begun the story concept again. Unlike most of the writers I have met in my community, I am not in it to write some quick and dirty chop shop of a piece of literature. I want to write a good book because I have ideas I think are good and I enjoy the craft of writing. That’s it. I’ll finish the book, but setting up a time table really is unfair to me and the work I’m trying to produce.

Burn up thoughts of a happy marriage

Marriage is an institution, and who in their right mind wants to be institutionalized? I’m not saying I hate my husband. I’m not saying I’m entirely unhappy with my marriage. But the wedding is probably the easiest part of getting married, and we all know how stressful weddings are. In the relatively short period of time my husband and I have been married, we’ve had to deal with a lot of bull shit – mostly in the form of family drama. Hello Kitty Toaster and the gang have made happy times a real challenge, as has the fact that my husband’s job takes up about 95% of his focus and attention. There is a reason California has the highest divorce rate (3 of 4 marriages), and my husband is a Californian to his core.

In spite of all that, fortunately I am smart enough to know that a marriage like mine will actually be the one that lasts. It’s those people that are so infatuated with how happy they are, together we shit rainbows and fly to work on unicorns and all, that when reality sets in that life sucks and there is a lot of crap to deal with every single day of it, everything falls apart. If you can still be together and have some semblance of love despite all the miserable crap around you, that means more than all the “OMG I have the best husband in the world he gets me flowers and candies and wipes my ass every day” Facebook updates.

There is a wall of flames between me and moving out of California

I still have really really really, unrealistically high hopes of moving out of California in the near future (can you guys tell?), but doing it before I turn 30 is unlikely. I mean I’d basically have to pack up all our stuff and just leave tomorrow. While I did actually consider doing that last night, just as I did the night before our vacation to Chicago came to an end a few weeks ago, it’s not happening. I will not be moving out of California before I turn 30. I’m not putting that on a 40s list, though, because I’m pretty sure if I don’t leave California well before 40, I won’t make it that far. (I just can’t stand this place that much.)

On the flip side, I have to say that living in California has given me a lot of fodder to write about, both on my blog and in my book. I consider my life in California to be something of a tragic comedy – hilarious at how absurd it is, tragic for the same exact reason. Just today I was driving in the rain and saw some hillbillies sitting outside in their trucks, two sitting in the cab and one (shirtless and smoking) standing in the truck bed with a large, shiny stick. It was a thunderstorm and as I got closer, I saw that those rednecked weirdos were actually trying to get struck by lightening. Had I not been here – where the majority of our population is made up not of glitz and glam and movie stars, but of descendants of southern hillbillies who came over for work during the Great Depression – I never would have seen that.

What does this all mean, you ask? And why should you care?

Well you shouldn’t. I mean you can and I think it’s awesome that as many people that read my blog do. (In fact, on that note, I’m feeling a little honored by how many people take the time to read and comment on my stupid little blog of bitching and complaining and snarking…)

What it means, though, is that now that I have burned up my list of things to do before I turn 30 (because 30 would have burned it for me just two days from now), I can focus on other things. Like baking myself that cake. Like trying lots of good wines. Like working on my book because I want to. Like reading my long list of books I plan on reading this year. Like finding out if my upstairs neighbors really are running a prostitution house up there (I mean, seriously .. people showering at 2 in the morning, strange men coming in and out at all hours…).

So happy birthday to me. It is my party and I will be crying as all of this stuff melts into flames, but here’s the thing about crying: it always feels so good afterwards. Only when we lament the past can we get on with the future, right?

Vacation Reports 2, 3, 4, 5: I Feel Nice Again

Apparently I am becoming nice again. In fact, as I write this there is a large group of about thirty people in the lobby of our hotel, all making noise and being the biggest pigs humanity has to offer – and I’m not even going to blog about them. Half of them are not fully clothed, with large guts hanging out the bottom of their shirts. They’re eating loads for fried chicken and all of their kids are screaming. A separate group brought down buckets of beer and have begun what appears to be a drunken Magic the Gathering. And some lady just came down having gotten locked out of her room with nothing but a towel to cover her. Well maybe I am blogging about these slovenly members of society by virtue of mentioning them, but the point is it isn’t even annoying me as much as it normally would. I feel nice again.

But I digress.

So I’m a little behind on my vacation reports, mostly because I’ve been so freaking busy that I barely have had enough time to sleep. We still have roughly seven days left of our trip and while it is winding down, there is still a lot coming up. So excuse my lateness of posting, but here are vacation reports 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Vacation Report 2: Heather has changed a lot in the 10 years away

All of you faithful blog followers may not believe it, but I wasn’t always the snarky, misanthropic bitch I am now. I mean, I’ve always been blunt and no-nonsense, but I also didn’t have such a virulent hatred of humanity. I wasn’t such a diva either, which I clearly am now after living in California for over a decade.

On the first night I got into town, my closest friends gathered at the local bowling alley for bowling and drinks, and immediately it was reported how much of a California girl I have become. I talk like a Californian, I have mannerisms like a Californian, and as my cousin Clayton informed me today, I’ve become a little posh.

I don’t like this.

After a few days of being back in my city, I felt like myself a little more. I could hear more of my accent returning, I felt calmer and less high-strung (like I do in California), and more than anything, I felt comfortable being myself. In California, we are very concerned about what everyone around us thinks. We gossip. We  judge. And we are fake. In the Midwest, I am sure there is still a lot of that, but people seem to care a lot less about what others think.

What hasn’t changed much, though, was the house I grew up in. It looks the same, which I documented with about a hundred photographs from different angles.

Vacation Report 3: My family reads my blog

So I just assumed that no one read my blog. Seriously, I know that I have a pretty good following of faithful blog followers – many of whom I have never met; but I never actually thought my family read it.

The first weekend we were in town, though, at least four of my family members said the words “… yeah, I read about that on your blog.” Then today, my cousin Scott told me that every time he read my blog I seemed pretty “liberal.” Whether or not I am liberal put to the side (to be honest, I don’t know if I am or not), I now feel this new pressure put on me when I blog. I even, for a moment, entertained the thought of cleaning up my content. Of course, that would mean no more donkey dicks, f-bombs, use of the term cunt, or talk of hooking and blow jobs. Clearly this is not an option, but you get the point – from now on the thoughts “what will my family think?” will be stuck in the back of my mind as I write.

But then I hearken back to Vacation Report 2 about being myself, and I realize that if they are reading my blog and able to tolerate such ridiculous, foul-mouthed verbal debauchery as has been my writing up to this point, then I say fair game.

The real Vacation Report 3 is that I love my family so much, which this trip has reiterated for me ten-fold. I don’t know how I will go back to daily life without them after these last few weeks.

Vacation Report 4: the Korean Hooker situation is a California thing

Holy mother of God, I went to a nail salon in the suburbs of Chicago with one of my long time friends last week after a great lunch and did I ever realize just how much the Korean Hooker situation is an isolated incident. I know, I know – it probably goes on in other nail salons around the country, but my nail salon in California is a total crack house compared to the place we went to this past week.

The real dilemma I have now, as well, is that I have a new standard by which I judge my nail salon experience. The place we went to had amazing chairs, more foot treatments for the same price, and they even gave me a bottle of water. Not only is my nail salon with all the slut-bag behavior and questionable customers a crack house, but the experience (by comparison) seems trashier than the lady that deep-throated the banana that one time after doing my nails.

 Vacation Report 5: I don’t want to go home

I know, I know – the grass is always greener on the other side, right? I’m not an idiot, though. I lived in Chicago for 18 years: I know that it’s fucking freezing in the winter, much harder to find work, and tornado alley in the summer. I know that what I’m seeing of friends and family now are the happy times, not the “everyone is mad at each other” times.

But there is something to be said for the fact that I know just how miserable I am in California, more so now that I am out of the situation than ever before. I always said I would not stay there longer than five years. Five turned into ten, though, and now I am about to turn 30 and wondering just why in God’s name I’m still on the west coast. Maybe it’s because there is nothing for me in California – after graduate school, I seem to have lost all semblance of order or purpose. Or maybe it’s because my family is all in the Midwest. After my mom left us when I was only 8, my family (aunts, uncles, cousins) became the most important thing in my life. Possibly it’s because my friends are more down to earth and available in Chicago – we have shared experiences and a history.

Or really it’s probably just that I’m a Midwestern girl. I was born and raised here. Since we got here over a week ago, I have been happier than in the entire time I have been in California. Whether that be just because vacation is fun, or something else, I am sure I will never know.