April 28th, 2003


Domestic Insanity

Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with just the domestic logistics of my life. I wonder if straight men put themselves in these kinds of situations. I limit that to straight men because, while I know this sounds sexist, I have never known a straight man who would voluntarily burden himself with so much responsibility, the demands of so many living beings, while I have known many gay men who fill their homes with pets and children, and who are as overwhelmed as I am.

I know this is an unfair generalization and that every time I make one of these there are a thousand facts stacking up on the other side of the scale just waiting for their chance to oppose my point of view. Hell, even I'll change my point of view in a day or two, but right now, having been abandoned by my ex with a child and a house full of pets, to say nothing of the responsibilities of caring for a big house, the people who help me run it, and all of their myriad personal problems, I'm not exactly keen on the idea that guys like to fill their lives with the kinds of domestic responsibilities that some women do, that I do. I freely admit that I'm the idiot who added many more pets to the mix, and then stupidly let them get pregnant, and then kept the babies and let them get pregnant. I guess it's in my nature to be overly sentimental and super bond to things that are born here. I'm also too damned slow to get cats fixed. I do get them fixed but I agonize over it every single time, and in that intervening time, there is always an opportunity or two for some randy heline to go running around the house impregnating all of the gals I haven't fixed because there weren't any intact males then and I thought I could take my time condemning them to a life of hormonal problems. Please don't lecture me about pet overpopulation and the deaths of millions of unwanted animals at the so called shelters. I wear this hair shirt to bed with me every single night of my life, and I still do irresponsible things, I'm still an idiot about this.

I've been sick, on top of recovering from my weight loss surgery, for ten miserable days now. It's a consolation to have lost more weight through this process, but when you can't eat anything without having to suffer birthing pain like intestinal cramps, it's hard to convince yourself that it's all worth it. Meanwhile I've got my eighty-seven year old Mother, her greedy domineering housekeeper, her meddlesome (yes, Tina you are overly meddlesome, even your ex-husband will admit this, not to be mean but if you are reading this, he calls you a shit-stirrer), secretary, and the nice born again housekeeper who works for her on the weekends, who is liable to quit because Mom is verbally abusive to her, and all the splendor that all of this entails, to deal with.

Mother is always panicked about the following things, I'm sure there are more, but these are the ones that I deal with on a daily basis;

1.) Money, and her belief that we don't have enough of it and are running out. She is constantly terrifying me about money. It is a daily battle

2.) Old Money Society and our perceived position in it, meaning that we have to always do our best to keep up appearances for the "right" kind of people, read her friends. That's why I just pretty much dropped out of her social world. For years I tried to keep up with it, the clubs, the luncheons, the dinner parties, but as the years went by, and as I gained weight, it became clear to me that I was never going to fit in and I wasn't sure I wanted to.

I could try to smile and charm my way around a few of these people, but all of this effort would be undermined by whatever nasty bits of gossip my Mother would feed to her friends over her weekly games of bridge.

"Roweena, Alice, Pat, and Jayne don't have kids who do the sorts of things that you do. All they ever do is rave about their kids."
"Well, Mom that's because their kids aren't my age, they're in their sixties, and we don't know if they're telling the truth. For all we know their kids are probably a bunch of miserable checked out alcoholics, and the only reason you don't know about it is because they don't like to gossip about it like you do."
"Well, if that's so then how do you explain my friend's son the senator, and my friend's son the captain of industry, and my friend's daughter who married so and so and throws all of these fabulous parties...?"
"Mom, if you're going to be fair then you should compare me to your friend's grandchildren, who are my age, and the last I heard, so and so wasn't speaking to her grandson, and was talking to her lawyer to have him cut out of the will, and so and so wanted to make sure that her granddaughter doesn't get her diamond ring when she dies, and so and so wasn't speaking to her granddaughter because she moved to a ranch in Colorado with her lesbian lover, and then there was that boy who stood outside his parent's condo on Wilshire with a rifle, the one who was taking shots at passing cars..."
"Oh you just love to throw that one up to me! You know that was ages ago. I just can't talk to you about anything. You just love to fight! I just can't do this, it's making me sick, I have to go." Click

3.) Death, we're always just about to be dying of something. My Mother is forever talking about wills and trusts, planning for the ultimate kick off. If it isn't a home invasion robbery that takes us down, then it's my weight, or a plane crash. Every single time we go on a trip we have to go round and round about who she will leave her estate to if all of us go down in a fiery ball of metal. It's oh just slightly disconcerting to say the least.

4.) The raising of my son and her belief that he is overly dependent on me, (if you're gonna be a M A N man son, you have got to cut those apron strings and do it soon boy, I said boy don't you be no sissy now you hear?) which leads her to seek advice from any source that will support whatever fear she is currently obsessing over.

Lately she's on my case about his weight, sports, and his need to go to dancing school. Sports aaaaand dancing school, unhunh. Just this morning she said, "Why I never met a boy in my life who didn't know how to dance." I said, "Yes, Mother but that was in the thirties and the forties. Mom, boys don't all need to know how to waltz and do the fox trot these days." The problem is that half of the stuff, or maybe more than that, seeps in through the cracks of my limited defenses and weakens my reserve. God, maybe it would be good for him to be able to dance. But he doesn't want to. Maybe I should make him. But how will I get him to go shopping for a coat and a tie and dress up and be polite to the girls at cotillion? Oh screw it, I hate all of this, we're just not cut out for it. Yes, you are, you're making a grave mistake. You're denying him opportunities. He could be meeting kids from "good" families. But he doesn't want to go and there's no such thing as good families. Oh yes there are, he needs to make connections, he'll need those business opportunities... Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!

5.) The fear that the blacks and the Jews and the communists and the homosexuals will riot and take over the world, forcing her to share her home with several large poor families like they did in Russia.

I'm deadly serious about this. I grew up hearing about how someday I might have to share my room with a poor black family who would resent me for being white and having so much, and I was so lonely that I remember looking forward to it. Let them resent me and share my toys, at least I would have some company.

You know what, I just had a mini psychological epiphany. It just occurred to me that this is the very source, the wellspring of one of my weird little obsessions. For all of my life whenever I've been in a small space, usually a bathroom in a store somewhere, I spend time wondering about how I could live in this tiny room, with all of my things and later after Beau was born, with him as well. I always though it was about my fear of poverty and the desperate desire to have something completely of my own that my Mother couldn't intrude upon, but now I'm beginning to think it has it's roots in these childhood stories about the impending communist uprising.

My Father was so convinced and afraid of this that as he was slowly slipping in to dementia he would hallucinate this revolution. One time when he was hospitalized he became suspicious of his nurse because she was black, and he would manage to call me at night from the hospital and whisper that it was happening, that they were landing with helicopters on the lawn outside, and that she was just waiting for their signal to take him out.

My poor poor parents. Perhaps this is what comes of associating only with like minded people who operate within a limited social circle. That and being brainwashed by their parents when they were children. How else can you account for their dark and limited view of the world, and their being completely cut off from reality, so thoroughly alienated from their fellow human beings and so afraid of them? I thank my high school for saving me from this. If not for the sisters and their kindness I honestly don't know what I would have been like. Well, that and genetics, I just wasn't born with the right genes for blonde hair and sets of paddle tennis with the girls at the club. Yeah right, you just wait, God help me I might just drop a little weight and then I'll be out there with the rest of them. Oh thank you Pepe will you be a darling and bring me a little Gin Fizz? Gracias.

Anyway, all of this rambling was just to tell you how overwhelmed I am, and my Mother, who I love despite her limited and sadly prejudiced world-view, is just one part of it. Thankfully she's taken herself off to our vacation house in Palm Springs for a week so I'll get a bit of a break. But I still have to deal with the cats and the housekeepers who are forever back biting each other.

We are awash in kittens. Five, F I V E, yes five of our babies, (they're two years old and I'm still calling them my babies) had babies. They refuse to separated so they've piled all their kittens in one big bed and I am more nervous about the whole thing than they are. When two of the kittens got the sniffles yesterday I was convinced they were dying and rushed them off to the vet. Clavamox cocktails for all the mommies and hopefully we're all going to be okay.

Then there's Beau who never wants to go to school and is completely his own being. No theatre arts for this little guy. He's into computer gaming and dragons and swordplay and anything Asian. Look, when he gets a black trench coat and starts wearing it to school, or if he spends an inordinate amount of time in the garage with anything that looks suspiciously like bombs or ammo, I'll worry. I'm just confused because he is so unlike anything my Mother envisions his being, and while I trust that he is a sweet loving being what I really want is for him to find his own path and be happy and healthy. Am I providing him with enough guidance and opportunities? Should he be playing golf, tennis, soccer, basketball, or anything like that? I've even tried skate boards and surf boards, he just isn't a sporty guy. Lord knows I wasn't.

Well, I think I've overwhelmed you after having starved you, how very like me. As usual I think of all of you with love and see you as my extended family. I love you and send you bright happy healing thoughts.


PS: I so want to show you a piece of art by this amazing woman, Deborah F. Lawrence, who was my first and only collage teacher. But without her permission I'm going to have to settle for a link to her site instead. If she gets back to me and okays it, I'll just do this all over again.