Aka, I keep my promise not to solve my relationship issues with threats of urination
I am glad that there are fans of this blog who would like to see me post more often. I really hope to get back to a more regular schedule. Like with most writers I’m juggling a day job (which is complicated to explain to folks, especially once I toss in teaching on the side and my assorted community projects) and finding time to write. I still have a half dozen or so short stories and a novel to write before I see air again, so any free time to write goes there. Then there’s my family. I will tell this story, just keep in mind that I was not created in a vacuum. So for all you people who want to know where my stories come from, here’s a snapshot from my life last week…
Hurricane Mom was in town.
Mom retired to Jamaica a few years ago. She comes back into town once or twice a year for a month, typically around tax time to handle her business. She’s like the Jamaican version of The Godfather. I love my mom, I really do, but hanging out with her is one part chess match (because there’s always some agenda or scheme in full effect) and one part dodging guilt/shame grenades (you know, the way of mothers). Plus, our family has notorious communication issues. You should know this because this story begins with an eviction notice.
Hurricane Mom began her tour by evicting my sister out of her house. Long story, and not entirely unprecedented. My mom once evicted me from one of her condos. You take once too many near misses from one of the guilt grenades and then you decide it’s not worth it to be financially tied to your mother (you know, finally leaving the nest). I should probably mention that the guilt grenade in question involved a lawsuit.
[Before this story develops as many layers as Inception, I’ll just say that my mother likes to file lawsuits by way of prodding people to talk to her. She once sued me and her brother in the same day, then took us out to eat afterwards. Yeah, she could have just picked up the phone, but that’s what normal folks do. And yes, she always has “grounds” for a lawsuit as she won’t loan you $5 without making you sign a contract. Just know that it’s never about the money, it’s always about the relationship: if you just call, the lawsuit gets “dropped.”]
Eventually, you get tired of it and just sort of … stop. Which leads to the eviction. Nearly fifteen years later, I’m watching this play out again with my sister.
My sister clears out then basically goes into the ghetto version of Witness Protection, refusing to let anyone know where she’s staying. It don’t bother me none, cause I can still call her, she still stops by (she’s doing the catering for Mo*Con), plus I follow her on Twitter. Not so much with my mother. So I get declared the intermediary.
You never win the PR battle when the lead is “you kicked your daughter and her three kids out of their house,” not that my mom sees things that way. But, I also know my mom’s been under her own stress, which she informed me of during one of her visits with me [THE FICTIONALIZED VERSION OF THIS VISIT WAS THE BASIS OF THE STORY “READ ME UP” TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE UPCOMING ANTHOLOGY, WHAT FATES IMPOSE. FICTIONALIZED TO MAKE THE STORY BELIEVABLE]. One of her duties in Jamaica is taking care of her mom. Her mom, suffering from “early onset dementia” (it sounds cold, but let me clue you in on something: my grandmother was faking senility early on just to get away with some of her antics until Karma caught up with her), recently broke out of her nursing home. Again. Apparently this was the third time. She scaled the ten foot fences but was caught a few blocks away because she stopped to get in a fistfight with someone. My grandmother is 94. When not in the home, which apparently seems to be more often than not, my mom and her sister are her primary caregivers (there’s 17 siblings total, but that’s a different tale of my grandmother. And my grandfather for that matter.)
You got all that? Good, because here’s where my Thursday gets complicated.
I’m somehow roped from my idyllic life of not caring about any of this into ferrying papers between my mom and my sister. I also am rapidly using up my cell phone minutes as my mom is quick to blow up my phone if I don’t answer. At some point relaying messages, one of them asks “has anyone seen dad?”
My dad is the usual arbiter of “when things go wrong between Hurricane Mom and her children.” My mom and dad split up a few years ago when I turned 40. They are the worst divorced couple ever. Despite the fact that my mom remarried within six months of the divorce (long story, don’t ask. It’s worse than the tale of how my mom and dad got together in the first place), they still talk and buddy-buddy constantly. The main reason they split: she wanted to retire to Jamaica, where she was born. My dad wanted to retire to … the streets, where he lives. For as long as I’ve known him, my dad has hit the clubs every weekend.
As if on cue, dad calls me…to let me know he just got out of jail and he needs my help with something.
Apparently at age 70, my dad is still a teenager. He was out at the club, but decided that he could make it home after an evening of drinking and smoking weed. The police officers of Indianapolis decided otherwise. His problem is two-fold: he needs help getting his car out of the impound yard and, oh yeah, he’s being evicted also and needs to make arrangements for a new place.
Dear Thursday, you can kiss my ass now.
Apparently my dad has issues with Uncle Sam, specifically the whole paying taxes thing, particularly property taxes. Luckily, he’s already found a retirement community (who hopefully doesn’t drug test their residents). So we make a series of calls, do an in person song and dance, get the paperwork relatively turned in and he’s squared away. Now all we have to do is get his car.
My wife is long-suffering and, sadly, long used to the antics of the Broaddus collective. So when I tell her that we have to run down to jail to get my dad’s car out because he was arrested and detained for a DUI and somehow wasn’t buried UNDER the jail in question, her only issue was whether or not we could stop for pizza.
I, on the other hand, had pretty much hit my stress limit.
So I’m in the City-County building, waiting on my dad who is the only person allowed back as he was the offender in question. My wife and sons found a pizza spot to wait on us. I’m trying to charge my phone because Hurricane Mom has worn out my battery with another round of “do you know what your sister did?” (keep in my, the litany of charges against my sister she recited to me were from the early 90s, because there’s no statute of limitations for crimes against your mother). The sheriff strides up to me to tell me to move along because I’m “blocking the walkway.” I stare at him. I look around. It’s 9 pm. I’m the only person in the entire downstairs floor of the building other than the sheriff. He’s proceeds to run off at the mouth to me. I reach for my zipper.
Okay, I know, I know. I’m not a toddler. I’m an educated man. I have a degree in biology. I’m a pretty accomplished writer. I’m active in the community. Solving disputes by threatening to pee on them also isn’t without precedent. First, Hurricane Mom once famously peed in the decorative bushes within the building when they told her she had to wait to go to the restroom. Second, only at the most recent Worldcon, a fan cos-playing as Jesus decided to single me out to chat me up about his ideas about salvation. I may or may not have asked him to get out of my face before I had to pee on my savior. In fact, it was only remembering my friend @emilytheslayer say “Maurice, you shouldn’t pee on Jesus” that gave me pause in whether or not I should pee on the sheriff.
Luckily, while I was paused mid-ethical dilemma, my father popped back up.
Off to Haughville we go in order to pick up his car. As I am the one with the valid driver’s license, I have to drive his car home. My wife and sons give me a slice of pizza to go and me and my dad get into his car. We’re only a few blocks away before I hear “still cold.” I turn to see my father drinking from a half full (because I’m an optimist at heart) bottle of beer. He’s also the soul of politeness because he offers me one of his THREE OPEN CONTAINERS OF THEM.
“Are you crazy?” I ask, using my inside voice. “You can’t have open containers in the car. You know how I drive.” Okay, I may or may not have just been pulled over just the previous week because I typically regard stop signs as suggestions.
“Oh, the booze is a problem. My bad.” At which point he pulls a baggie from the glove compartment to begin to roll one up.
“Dude, I am going to do under the speed limit until we get to your house.”
“Probably a good thing, son. You don’t want to know what’s in the trunk.”
And that is why I haven’t been blogging as often.
Next up: Updates on some of my more recent projects.