Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's a WONDERFUL Life!

The other night I was peacefully laying in bed getting ready to fall asleep, when suddenly my phone chimed, letting me know that I had a message. When I checked it out, it said that my sister Sybil had posted a message on my Facebook wall - the message read:

"You have such beautiful children. Great pictures of your life. I am so happy your life is WONDRFUL! Love you Ethel. Happy Holidays."

Awwwww, so sweet, right? At first glance you would be correct, but it feels like she's throwing a jab of bitter jealousy and irritation directly at me for the whole world to see. In a matter of seconds, I went from drifting off to sweet slumber to being completely awake and ready to tear someone's head off.

Sybil is a good person at the core of it all, but she has habitually made VERY poor choices as an adult. She hasn't ever worked more than a few weeks PER YEAR (at best), and has never pushed herself to make her own way. She goes from place to place, and falls on the mercy of others. HOW she manages to continue finding these people to help her, to foot the bill for her lifestyle, and to give her use of their cars/house/etc is beyond me.

It's frustrating that she looks at my pictures and comments how happy she is that my "life is so wonderful". Shit like this undercuts the hard work and sacrifice that it takes to be a dedicated wife, mother, employee, etc. Most women that I know understand what it feels like to be in this rut of busting their ass just to maintain status quo and keep their heads above water.

The most wonderful parts of my life are the ones that I have worked diligently for and labored long hours to achieve.

WONDERFUL doesn't just happen.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Etiquette: If Someone Sends You an Invitation

Howdy Folks...

Laverne here again, taking a quick break from dazzling the world with my mad Christmas decorating skillz (I spelled that with a Z so you know I totally mean it) this cold, Texas afternoon, to talk to y'all a little bit more about etiquette. Yeah, yeah. I know what you're thinking.

"Did I just stumble across the Miss Manners blog?"

No. That's not it at all (plus, I totally hate that uppity bitch). But, it is the holiday season and I feel like it is my personal responsibility to pass along these unspoken rules of etiquette (and by unspoken, I mean, things you just cannot, must not do) to those who may be totally unaware that society dictates that we treat others respectfully. Whether or not they deserve it is a completely different story.

So, here is a holiday anecdote about my friend Gina. Which is totally not her real name, but you know, we can't go around just exposing everyone...

Gina is a nice gal. Sweet. Very smart. Incredibly witty, dazzlingly gorgeous. Always gentle and kind with great hair. She has four of the most handsome sons you will ever meet, who are (of course) well-mannered and polite. You would be totally jealous of her if you knew her. Trust me.

A few years ago, Gina was busily preparing for Christmas. She had two baby showers to plan (because she is ridiculously generous too), a home to decorate and clean, food to cook, and lots of shopping to do. And because she is so kind and generous, she offered up her home to her in-laws that year, in addition to her very own family, thinking that it would be nice to all spend the holidays together.

(okay, that last part is a load of crap, because her parents are divorced and hate each other, her husband's father and his wife are insane burned out hippies and her mom probably would have beaten her dad's new wife to a bloody pulp, but that didn't really fit in with the story here so...)

After much hemming and hawing, her in-laws (blessedly) declined and so Gina went about her normal holiday business, happy to have one more thing crossed off her Christmas list.

Weeks went by. Her list dwindled, plans were made, her home glistened and sparkled, gifts were wrapped and under the tree, everyone's favorite holiday sweaters were clean and pressed, family had arrived and before Gina knew it, it was Christmas Eve!

She had just gone to switch out a load of laundry that morning when her phone rang.


Hello Gina, this is your fabulous mother-in-law calling from Tennessee!

Oh, hi there! How are you mother-in-law?

Well, I was just calling to see if you had received your surprise Christmas package yet?

My surprise Christmas package? No, I don't guess I have.

(Gina's wheels were turning fiercely at this moment, wondering what her mother-in-law meant)

Well, sister-in-law just happened to mention that my ex-husband called from the road to say that they are surprising you for Christmas.

(Gina, rarely flustered, was totally caught off-guard)

No, mother-in-law, I'm afraid you misunderstood. You see, they told us they weren't coming for Christmas. I can't imagine that they'd tell me no if they really meant yes. This is quite the conundrum.

Well, good luck to you Gina. I certainly hope I'm wrong.

(okay so the conversation didn't exactly go that way, but it also didn't fit with Gina's sunny disposition, so...)

Upset and confused, Gina quickly called Mr. Gina.

Ah, yes. I seem to recall grandmother hinting that they might be on their way here.

Gina hung up the phone, reeling. "Who shows up for Christmas unannounced on Christmas Eve?"

Suddenly, the phone rang again.


Hello. Do you need a Christmas ham?

A Christmas ham? No, I don't believe I do. Are you offering one?

Oh. Well, we thought we would bring one this evening for dinner.

Did you? Well (nervous laugh), I guess we could always use extra! What time should we expect you?

Right about now....

(Gina looked out her front window to find a familiar car pulling up to the curb)

Now, as I've said before, Gina is rather generous. She is kind. She can be tolerant. And so, for the sake of keeping the peace at Christmastime, she chose tolerance. It would not be the last time Gina carelessly made this mistake with her in-laws.

And because Gina is always prepared for guests, she made room at the table for an extra two people. She served them beer and wine graciously (even though they carried enough in their suitcases to keep a bar operating for days), laughed when they joked about ruining her holiday, and hid her displeasure each time they rudely insulted her family. She didn't so much as flinch when she was berated for daring to buy Christmas gifts for her husband and children (and not herself) with the hundreds of dollars they apparently "only" sent for Mr. Gina. She did not complain when she was given a $25 gift card for a mall 800 miles away. No, Gina held strong. And it would not be the last time Gina made this mistake either, but she is kind and generous with a good heart and so she is stupid enough to think that maybe at some point they will change.

(for the record, they don't)
So, here is a recap of today's lesson.

-Do not decline an invitation if you plan on actually accepting it

-Do not show up unannounced

-Do not show up unannounced on Christmas Eve with a burnt maple and brown sugar ham that's just spent two days in a car wrapped in plastic wrap.

-Do not take advantage of other people's hospitality

-Do not treat your daughter-in-law's family poorly.

-Do not show up drunk or continue to get drunk to the point of embarrassment

-Specify who you're sending money to, so you don't yell at your daughter-in-law on Christmas Day

-Don't buy a gift at all if your sole intent is to be an asshole

-Do stay in Tennessee for the holidays and spare everyone the agony of your presence

I think that's it.

Happy Mannerly Holidays, friends!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

We Split the Sheets

Today I'm linking up with Mama Kat's Writers Workshop. My inspiration for this post came from Prompt #1 - Have you ever had a fight with a long time best friend and never made up?

Mama's Losin' It


You may be thinking, "Hey, this post supposed to be about a friendship gone wrong, but "splitting the sheets" is a reference to divorcing, splitting up, or separating". WHATEVER! It got ugly. She was a bitch. And there's not enough thread on the spool to mend the mess that our friendship we split the sheets.

**The curtain raises**

This story begins with me starting a new job, in a new field that I was going to learn from the bottom up. I also didn't happen to know a single soul at the company, so it was exciting to be befriended by someone fairly quickly after arriving on the scene. Ashley and I were similar in age, and were both married with no kids.  We seemed to have a lot in common - similar interests, lived on the same side of town, and she had only been with the company less than a year herself.  We would eat lunch together, seemed to work well together, and even became friends outside of the office as well.

After we had been working together for about six months the drama started. If I wasn't doing my work exactly like she thought I should, she would run to MY BOSS's office and make it sound like I was completely incompetent.  For crying out loud - I WAS LEARNING!!  I also began to hear, through the grapevine, that she was talking smack to other coworkers about me.  She rarely ever addressed her gripes with me directly - she would just gripe to everyone else.  Nice, huh?

In addition to the childish antics of tattle-tailing and her playground politics, began to get even WEIRDER!  When I started trying to get pregnant...low and behold, Ashley decided to go off the pill, too. Fred bought me a really nice dress for my birthday...and amazingly, Ashley found almost an exact match to my dress, that she absolutely HAD to have for the company Christmas party. I got pregnant right away...and wouldn't you know it, she started taking the ovulation tests and ended up getting pregnant three months after I did. It was WEIRD!! There were countless other creepy instances, but you get the idea. She was a nut.

The movie Single White Female came out around this time, which was unnerving, because it felt like Ashley was becoming a complete copycat like the psycho in the movie.  All of this "let's do this together" bullshit was way more than I could handle!  Anyone who really knows me, knows that I am totally a "my space....your space" person. We can hang out, and it's cool that we have similar interests, but we ARE NOT going to plan on wearing our yellow shirts and pink Converse to yoga class tomorrow. Got it? Ain't gonna happen. You do your own shit, and I'll do mine. Too much togetherness makes me uncomfortable and feel suffocated.

As time passed, her copycat routine one minute, and naggy co-worker the next, began to wear on me.  We would argue, distance ourselves from each other, eventually "make up", and then attempt to be friends again. This cycle of behavior continued for a couple of years, until she took a job offer from another company and put in her resignation. OH HAPPY DAY!! My problems were solved! She was finally gone.  I could breathe again.  My life felt joyfully absent of a needy shadow....and it was GREAT.

Unfortunately, existing peacefully didn't last forever, because it wasn't long before she realized that the grass wasn't greener on the other side.  Much to my dismay, and the dismay of some others, upper management let the psycho back in the front doors, gave her a desk, and put her crazy ass back to work. Ugh.

It didn't take long for the final installment of our friendship to blow a PERMANENT fuse. It got ugly, obnoxious, unsavory, and spiteful. I pulled out all the stops to sever every last shred of friendship and harmony that we had ever built. I didn't want there to be any question in her little pea sized brain at the end of the day that there might be hope for continued friendship. I wasn't just DONE, I was FINISHED and out for blood.  I wanted my space back, respect for the work that I did, and to live a life that was absent of her presence.

We kept the battle generally under wraps and relatively civil while we were at work. She moved to another department which helped, but the real "cut" came when I quit after having one of my kids.  I quit answering her phone calls and didn't respond to emails.

Do I think about her? Yeah, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't.  We had become, in my opinion, really good friends in the beginning.  And I liked Ashley a lot, but as time passed it became more of a codependent, needy relationship.  And Homey don't play that!

Do I wish that we would reconnect and ice things over? ABSOLUTELY NOT.