The Great Alaskan Debate

My sister is all about the forced family fun – a term I used to use with affection, but in reading old posts, I see how sadly my feelings toward my family have really shifted in the last year. She’s a planner and a bit of a demander and likes to tell people what to do and currently, she is telling the family that we all need to go on an Alaskan cruise next summer.

Not in a “hey, let’s come up with a cool vacay and convince the parents to pay” kind of way; we’re all adults, so it’s more about everyone making the decision to go and paying their own way. Sis and my new BIL decided they want to go and they want it to be a big family event with both sides attending. 

Coming off of hijacking Christmas last year and their wedding “year,” it’s no doubt they expect everyone to go along with whatever they say.  They will continue their reign until someone stands up to them.

So, the thing is…well, there are many things.

I held her off long enough by saying I might have to pay for some major home repairs I was recently dealing with, but fortunately the HOA covered it. So, I just got an email asking since they took care of it, am I going to go?

My next response is that I kind of want my 2012 vacation to be a friend vacation and she made it pretty clear that I was just her sister, not her friend. I don’t think it’s the right time to snarkily bring up the fact that I’m upset about her choice of MOH, and although it’s on my mind and I want to say it to her, it’d be nice to NOT alienate the WHOLE family before the holidays.  But, with everything that’s going on with my family (still annoyingly and hurtfully unresolved), why would I want to be trapped on a boat with them? 

I’ve never been on a cruise before and, honestly, another reason is that I want my first cruise to be what you think of when you think of a cruise…bikinis and fruity drinks and lots of sex with the hot boyfriend you’re with and what not.

Let’s see, what else…the money really is an issue and even though I don’t have to shell out thousands on my house, I’m not feeling financially cushy right now. She (plus the other bride) dictated my savings funds last year and I haven’t established any savings funds/goals for next year. A travel fund would probably be at the top of the list, but I’m thinking international (sorry, Canada, not like that) or a big city or my most recent brilliant idea is surf + yoga in South Carolina.

I also have on good authority that a friend is getting engaged this New Year’s…a friend who lives in another state again and who I most likely wouldn’t have in my party, but who talks constantly about me being in hers.  Joy.  I know in theory that it’s maybe okay to say no to being in someone’s wedding party, but I don’t know that I’d ever actually do that.

Also, I’m 27 and I don’t necesarily want to go on vacation with my family when I feel fifth-wheely.  It makes me feel lonely and currently, it reminds me that my sister’s wedding and my father’s behavior were catalysts for why I’m lonely right now. 

The original idea was for me to room with my 88-year-old grandmother, but she doesn’t want to go, so now I would get to room with the best man from their wedding, who probably won’t go if he has to pay double occupancy for just himself.  So, now I just feel like a means to get him to go. 

Anyway, I guess the only reason stopping me from being like, “hell no” is that I don’t want to miss out.  What if when they come back and talk all about their experiences, I feel sad that I wasn’t a part of them?

It would be a neat trip, but is it at the top of my list of things to do and see and experience?  No.  I’d never considered it until she brought it up.  Coincidentally, my parents had been thinking of going on an Alaskan cruise in Septemberish next year…of course Sis and BIL won that war of going in the early summer instead.

Does that outweigh all the other emotions I have about not wanting to go?  Do you still enjoy talking family vacations as an adult?  Have you been on an Alaskan cruise and think I should absolutely do it?  Or do you want to hang out with me in South Carolina and learn to surf next summer?!

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I’m sorry, am I making you uncomfortable?

I mean…I’m sorry I’m not sorry.

Part of the Girls on the Run curriculum is a lesson about emotions and how they are not good or bad, but some – like excitement and happiness – are more comfortable, and some – like jealousy and loneliness – are more uncomfortable to feel.

I really like that. Since I learned it as a sophomore in college, I’ve been a big proponent of “feel your feelings” and this adds a new step to it…to acknowledge that feelings are not always comfortable, but that they’re okay.

As uncomfortable as they are to feel, sometimes they’re even more uncomfortable to express, but I’m getting better at that and this weekend I tried. A few times.  To family members and a friend.  I told them I was lonely, I told them I was unhappy.  And I kind of got ignored.  I guess my uncomfortable emotions make other people uncomfortable too?

While there’s a lot of talk of how blogging can place a lot of pressure to be happy and perfect and wonderful all the time, I think blogging has a lot to do with my increasing ability to be real.  Granted, I keep two blogs, this naked one and one more public and perhaps more shiny and happy, but I’m saying what I need to say in so many spaces in my life and I think it’s because I’m now used to just laying it all out there.

Or I’m getting old and I just don’t give a fuck anymore.  One of the two.

With the exception of me attempting to discuss my feelings (ew), my family was very comfortable on Sunday. My mom forced a dinner and I had to talk myself into it all week long.  They all were pretending like nothing had gone wrong, like nothing was wrong and everything was back to “normal.”  Funny the way family totally redefines that word.

I took the pup, so he was a big focus, but since it was the first get-together since my sister and her husband returned from their honeymoon, there was recap wedding talk. Just when I thought it was over.  Everyone ignored the fact that it’s not a happy memory for me.

I bit my tongue when snarky comments wanted to come out, respecting that my dad hadn’t wanted to discuss the issues in front of my mom before and with the way everyone was acting, I knew no one else wanted the faux-happy Sunday to be brought down either.

My dad asked me questions about the dog and I answered politely, but didn’t really feel the need to say goodbye to him when I left.  Then the pup slept all the way home while I cried.  I’m so hurt that my family could just ignore the situation.  I don’t want to harp on it, I don’t want to talk about it all the time, but literally there’s been no resolve and everyone else is okay with that.

So, yesterday, I wrote down everything I wanted to say to my dad – essentially that I’m offended that he hasn’t taken responsibility for his actions thus far and I’m hurt that he’s been treating me poorly for a while now.

So, then I was faced with the question…did I write it for therapeutic reasons or did I write it to send it?  I felt better after I wrote it, but I realized I felt better knowing that my dad would read it and truly know how I feel about everything.

So I clicked send.  I’m glad he didn’t fire off something back, but now I’m reaching the “how long do I wait until I take his silence as acceptance of my statement that I don’t need a forced, circumstantial relationship if he doesn’t want to get real and be involved in my life?” point.

After I sent it, I felt a little apprehension.  Nervousness that I traded his comfort for my own.  He was settling back into a comfort zone when I saw him on Sunday, assuming things were swept under the rug.  But, I was quite uncomfortable and it’s not fair for me to hold it all in. My family might be number two (although I’m not sure that’s a position they deserve right now), but I’ve got to look out for number one and I’m going to keep talking about my feelings until someone listens, darn it!

Oh yeah, and sorry I’m not sorry for the emo brain dump you just read.

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?

Quick recap:  My sister is getting married next month.  In the year that she’s been engaged, she has become a self-consumed bridezilla.  My parents are also eating, sleeping and breathing the wedding.  I’ve been avoiding the fam because I’m over it.  I’m over it because she’s a self-consumed bridezilla, there are more important things in life and my feelings are hurt because she asked her best friend to be her maid of honor over me (I’m a bridesmaid).  Got it?  Good.  Moving on.

Yesterday, I got an email (an email?!) from my sister asking if I would be willing to/comfortable/okay with giving a toast at the blessed event. I sat on it for a while because, well, that’s a duty for the maid of honor.  She even mentioned in the email that the best man was giving the other toast. 

Finally, I responded that I had believed I was off the hook for the speech, but if the MOH had declined, I’d be fine to give one. 

She responded that the MOH would be okay to give one or not, but her preference was that I give the toast. Well…maybe she should have thought of that when she was selecting her attendants.

I said fine.  I’m not sure I meant it.  Obviously, she’s not my favorite person right now.  I’m concerned I won’t have anything heartfelt to say. 

I’m concerned the uncomfortable emotions I’ve been feeling toward her and my family and the event will be overwhelming on the big day.  I am already embarrassed that I’m standing up as a bridesmaid and I’m concerned I’m going to feel embarrassed getting up to speak for my sister who didn’t want me to be her MOH.

On the flip side, I’m concerned if I DON’T do it, I’ll regret missing the once-in-a-lifetime (?) opportunity to toast my sister on her wedding day.

She asked because the venue needed to know, so I feel like it’s a time-sensitive issue (because heaven forbid you ask the DJ to change the announcement with anything less than two weeks notice), but I can’t figure out the right answer.  If I change my mind, I imagine she’ll be more upset about the fact that I’m messing up the plans than concerned that I’m hurting.  Maybe that’s enough to decide right there.

What would you do?

Priorities

Lucky and I had a talk about priorities last night. It wasn’t a great talk, but it was an important talk. It was a “good for you, bad for us” talk. Basically I want more than he can give right now and he knows that and doesn’t want to disappoint me, so we’re…well, who knows what we’re doing? We’re going to make it up as we go I guess.

He’s entwined in my life in many different ways right now, so we’re definitely entering a learning phase of this relationship.

While his priorities are elsewhere, mine are too. For the next month or so, my priorities are:

  • Closing on my condo, moving and decorating.  Remember when I mentioned that Lucky is my realtor? Yeah, entwined.
  • Tanning. I got a good base at the beginning of the summer, but since then, Arizona broke some kind of heat record so going outside wasn’t really an option, let alone LAYING around outside. It’s cooling down (low 100s!) and with a few weekends left until my sister’s wedding – and my new, darker hair that’s giving me a Snow White complex – I would like to build that tan back up.
  • Getting skinny(er). Okay, so my goals for the wedding are to be skinnier and more tan than my sister. There, I said it.  One of us gets to be the married sister and one of us gets to be the hot sister.  Both goals are pretty much slam dunks at this point since she stayed in her I’m-in-a-happy-relationship-so-it-doesn’t-matter-what-I-look-like frame of mind and never achieved full bridezillaness with any crash diets or crazy workouts.  If anything, she might go fake-bake and we would have an orange situation on our hands, but that would just be funny.  
  • Avoiding wedding talk. T-minus 37 days.  Can it just be over already?  It really is at a critical level at this point and I have had about enough. My feelings were legitimately hurt when I went to brunch at my parents’ house this weekend and my future bro-in-law was the only one to actually ask me anything about what is going on in my life. He’s my new favorite. I usually feel guilt when I avoid FFF, but I feel worse when I have to listen to them talk about that shit for hours. Luckily, my move gives me a nice excuse to stay on my side of town (if they ever thought to ask anyway).
  • Reading. I need a good, distracting book to lose myself in. I just finished one and am going to the library today for my next few victims.
  • Catching up with my favorite TV shows when they return for the fall season and scope out some of the new stuff that is, thank goodness, not reality TV!
  • Avoiding exes. I think I successfully offended #2 when I congratulated him on achieving the lifestyle he always wanted to rub my face in (yes, he literally said that to me once), but letting him know I was still unimpressed without mentioning new boyfriend’s(?) lifestyle and all the cool things I’ve got going on (not that he asked either…good thing I’ve got my blog, I’d have no outlet to talk about myself incessantly otherwise). See ya!

I promise there’s some legit shit going on as well, my life is actually fulfilling with a small part devoted to this fluff, but I save that for my other blog.  For you?  I let it all hang out.  Gosh, you’re welcome 😉

Time is on my side.

My sister’s bridal shower is this afternoon and mostly, I can’t believe it’s here.  One thing (among many) that has bugged me about my sister’s upcoming wedding is the fact that she had such a long engagement. In all honesty, it was probably pretty average. They have been engaged for a yearish and their wedding is next month (“41 days,” she would gleefully pipe in here), so 14 months altogether.

I know there are plenty of people who do the multi-year engagements and I apologize if that’s you and I know everyone has their own reasoning for such things, but I don’t get it. I worked in the events industry for about two years and know first hand it doesn’t take that long to plan a wedding.

I also know first hand that a long engagement drives the people around you crazy. Even my mom, who is thrilled to be a MOB and has seemed to delight in the process thus far, said recently that my sis was in super wedding mode and that’s all she talks about or something to that effect. This confused me because my mom said it like it was a recent development.  Maybe she hasn’t been paying attention for the last year?

This incessant wedding talk and her perception that she is the most important person in the room at all times and her wedding is on everyone’s mind constantly might be why I am bothered by the long engagement, it might also be because it’s not how I would do it and obviously my way is right and much better.

In fact, just this morning, I decided I’m totally eloping or something very similar.  Yep, I said it here first, so mark my words.  No need for the fuss, the ridiculous cost or the hushed drama of a big production.  When I get hitched, I just want to get hitched.

I have also considered that the long, drawn out engagement bugs me because I am actually excited about it as well and would like for it to be here because it will be a fun event. The thing is, though, that when they picked their date last year, I thought it sounded so far away, yet now it seems so close.

With the shower, the bachelorette party, rehearsal, rehearsal dinner and actual wedding all hurdling toward me, I’ve realized that events that seem so far in the future will arrive regardless of how I spend the interim.  The time passes if I spend it enjoying the moments just as it will pass if I wish away those moments for events or milestones.

It’s truly not that I’m so unhappy in the present, it’s just that my mind is always thinking ahead to what’s next and I know I miss out.  The big picture in the future is built by the small pictures right now anyway, right?

Like the inability to recognize freedom of choice, I’m good at noticing this fatal error in other people, but not controlling it in myself.  A friend recently posted to Facebook that she wished it was two weeks from now so she would be a flight to Europe.  I’m not great friends with her, so I didn’t feel comfortable replying, but I would have loved to tell her that, yeah, Europe is great, but so are all the little moments that she will experience in the next 14 days before she leaves.

I didn’t tell her, but I’ll tell myself.  In the next 41 days before my family from the midwest descends on beautiful Arizona, before I don a terrible dress, but adorable shoes, before Lucky twirls me around the dance floor, I will be enjoying (and reminding myself to enjoy when needed) the in-between.

Timelines

Let it be noted that Saturday was the official day that my mom expressed that her biological (grandma) clock is ticking.

It was a birthday dinner for both my future bro-in-law and me. Sis and FBIL were discussing how his sister is eager for them to have kids since she just had her first and she wants the baby to have a close-in-age (hopefully girl) cousin. They said they will have one in about a year at the very earliest because they’re basically gonna start trying two months after the wedding.

Mom: “I’m just happy you’re talking about having kids so soon.” And there it was.

In all honesty, talking babies two months after being married seems crazy to me, but it works for them (and apparently for my mother as well).  Timelines are so personal and I don’t think we should look at or judge others’ nor do I think others should look at or judge mine, but perhaps that’s the bigger concern about them…that other people will judge. 

Like weddings and babies, everyone thinks they did/will do it right.  And they did/will…if they do what’s right for them.

So you know what?  F “other people.” I’m looking to, in fact, live my life…as I was meant to, as I want to, as it happens.

As it happens is a big one for me. I’m a planner and think ahead quite a bit and I’m not sure how to change that, but I’m trying. It’s hard not to think in terms of timelines – timelines as I always thought they’d be, timelines as compared to others’ – but I’m working on being grateful for the now. 

So, where does my mom’s revelation + my desire to do what’s right for me leave me?  Yes, it’s nice being the younger sister; the weight for getting married and having babies is a little lifted, but I still feel it. 

My girl Oprah says:

God can dream a bigger dream for you than you could ever dream for yourself.

The timeline I’m meant to have and the NOW that happens in it is better than the timeline I spend so much time and energy trying to control and it’s better than the timeline that family pressure tries to impose.  Letting that roll off my back and giving up a little control is good.  Repeat.

Quotes like that seem to make their way into my life when I need them. Sometimes through blogs, movies or yoga instructors. I think on them, I write them down, I go back and connect the dots.

Today I collected my thoughts and created one of my own. It’s a good thing I’m not famous because this is probably not cohesive, let alone helpful, but it’s what I’m focusing on today:

If you want to do something, then really do it. In the moment, without what might have beens or what might bes.

I think that the life that comes from that will be better than any timeline.

I may be single, but at least I’m not a bitch.

At family lunch the other day, the topic of the boy came up. I play my cards close to the chest when I’m really in like with someone (obviously), but I was ready to start telling my fam a little more about him.

That is until my sister, who I haven’t seen in a few weeks, maybe a month, upon first hearing about this man blurted out, “Is he going to stick around?”

Now, my family’s got jokes.  We laugh all the time when we’re together and sometimes it’s at each other or ourselves. I tease her about plenty of things. Heck, I tease myself with self-deprecating humor about my dating life. But, that stung and as I’ve thought about it since, it stings more and more.

It wasn’t, “Is he nice? Does he treat you well? Do you like him?”  It was – to my ears anyway – “So, when are you going to run THIS one off?”

I get it sis, you’re lucky in love, you’re happily marrying your forever in three months and I’ll be standing behind your friend who you chose to be your MOH over me, and you assume I won’t have a date in crowd or if I do, it will be a pity date, but maybe you could try to be a little more supportive and encouraging.  It’s been a while, but you’ve been here too.  How quickly you forget.

And even though she didn’t ask, yes, he’s nice, yes, he treats me well and yes, I like him. I’m not psychic, but I hope he sticks around, which means I may wait on the family intro just in case “bitchy sister” is a deal-breaker for him.

When Tact is Not an Option

I’m getting better at standing in my financial truth and saying no when I don’t have money to spend or that I want to spend.  But what do you do when it’s your family?  And what it, even though your future brother-in-law just ended a stint of unemployment, you’re still the poor one? 

Sometimes I just want a man, not to be an emotional support, an activity partner and to give it to me on the reg, but simply to share the damn bills. 

We’re celebrating Father’s Day early (today) so my sis can celebrate the actual day with hubby’s family and after I suggested something active, three somethings active to be exact, she decided we’re indoor kart racing.  Apparently there are “head socks” involved and I have to wear closed toed shoes?  WTF?  It’s 100 degrees outside woman!

I get that my dad’s a boy and for one or two days a year, we do boy things to make him feel better about having been trapped in an otherwise all-female house for 20 years of his life, but this is not my thing.  It’s especially not my thing for $56 for essentially 30 minutes of play. 

But, that’s the activity and I don’t feel comfortable telling them that I would rather choose not to afford it.  But I guess that’s what you do for family. 

I even sucked it up and threw my hat in the ring to help plan my sister’s pre-wedding events, which will likely not be cheap either.  When she initially spilled that I wasn’t the maid of honor, I kind of took a giant leap back and, like a kid picked last for kickball, pretended I didn’t really want to play anyway.  New plans included NOT planning showers and parties and YES getting drunk at the wedding because I didn’t have to worry about giving a speech.

Her reason for not asking me to be her MOH was that she didn’t think her BFF and actual MOH would do anything, which A. makes no sense and B. is totally what’s happening. 

After a dress shopping trip a few months ago, the MOH said she wanted to talk about details for the shower because she had been planning it.  We all leaned in, ready to get down to it.  “I think we should have it at a winery.”  That was it.  Way to plan, MOH, way to plan.

For a while I thought I could sit back and be okay with that.  It’s not my job after all.  My sister even kind of brushed off the idea of a bachelorette party based on the pregnancy of the other bridesmaid, but who doesn’t want at least some occasion to celebrate? 

Even though I’m realizing I’m more hurt by her behavior in the past few years than I previously thought, I couldn’t let the wedding come and go without giving her the proper pomp and circumstance around the whole thing.  She’s my sister. 

So I jumped in and asked about plans and based on the fact that three days have passed without a peep in this constantly connected world, I feel like I might be taking it over.  But, I guess that’s what you do for family. 

And now that I’m in charge, I’m going to call it a hen night or maybe a stagette, because both are waaaay cuter.

UPDATE:  My wonderful mother paid for kart racing and I crashed under a wall three laps in.  Then I helped pay for dinner.

Oh Baby!

Babies are cute.  They totally are.  And the stupid Mott’s commercials remind me that I think that being a mom will be the best thing in the world. 

My sister is planning a baby shower for her future sister-in-law, who I think is wonderful and is doing the best she can in a situation that left her not even showing yet and single, so I’m excited to attend! 

I love giving books and that was actually a request on the invite, to give a book as a card, and of course everyone loves shopping for cute little pink clothes that the baby will spit up all over and grow out of in a week and a half, but I know that registries are created with a  purpose, especially when it’s a first baby.  There is so much crap you need! 

So, I looked her up on Target and got a glimpse at the things she’s asking for.  Nothing too crazy (although, the older you get and the more you sit out of these big life events, the crazier the whole registry thing seems, hello Carrie Bradshaw!), it’s actually a lot of the nitty-gritty.

Seeing breast pumps and bottle cleaners and some new fancy schmancy thing called gDiapers and baby monitors (ugh, no thanks, I LOVE my sleep) reminded me that being a mom isn’t all cute pink clothes, well-behaved children who WANT to be read to and then calmly go to sleep, Gerber Puffs and pouring juice. 

Go ahead and sign me up in the “not ready” category, as well as the “I’ve never been happier about my situational abstinence” category!

My sis is super excited to meet her niece, although her hi-LAR-ious hubby-to-be loves to remind her that although the babe will be born in July or August, she won’t be an aunt until they get married in October! 

Whatever, we’re women and it’s all about the love, so I’m excited to be an aunt-of-sorts too! Aunts-of-sorts are the best thing to be, after all, because you REALLY get to just pass the baby back when you’re done oohing and ahhing.

Word to the wise…if you write a post about how you totes don’t want a little guy right now, don’t do a Google Images search for “baby” because they’re just so stinkin’ cute and now I just want to smell their heads and tickle their itty bitty toes.

My family should think before they speak.

Quotes of the weekend:

My dad to me:
“Well, I don’t know how she can stand to be around YOU.”
In context, truthful.  Out of context, ROO!

My sister to her bridesmaids (well, the two who are NOT already knocked up):
“Keep your legs together until the wedding, ladies.”
If she were kidding, funny.  She’s not = bridezilla.

And in other wedding news, we ordered dresses yesterday and I’m an eight.  I know they’re sized “big,” but I definitely cringed at that one.  AND, I saw this ad yesterday…

I don’t even know what it is, but Kristen Wiig + Maya Rudolph + Melissa McCarthy + John Hamm = I’m in!