- 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. - Enjoyed a blissful ride with Uncle Bill and Aunt Paula from Chicago to Jasper, IN. Discussed my new job, why I left the old job, dieting, and general hilarity. My Brussels sprout dish leaked a little on the backseat of their new Jeep.
- 12:30 p.m. - In my rush to drop off my dishes in Grandma's kitchen and run out to clean the Jeep's upholstery of sprout evidence, I snuck in a hurried hug with Grandma Kavanaugh who was seated in the kitchen. In response to her "Tyrannosaurus Rex" arms that hung limply against my chest as I hugged her, I said, "Grandma you've got to hug me better than that!" To which she replied, "Oh well honey, I can barely get my arms around you." As I rushed out of the room to get to the car I said, "That's because I'm obese!" The subtle weight criticism begins.
- 1:30 p.m. - In a rare Norman Rockwell episode, all the women in the house - Me, Mom, Sally & Paula - gather around for what could be one of the last times we can watch, help, and learn how Grandma makes her homemade yeast rolls from a recipe she has memorized all her life. Moment is ruined when Micromanager Sally gets anxious and flustered when Grandma strays from the recipe that Sally transcribed from years past. Mom and I share knowing glances.
- 3:20 p.m. - I put my green bean casserole in the oven to warm up.
- 3:40 p.m. - I add the fried onions to the top of the casserole and crank the heat up on the oven so everything will be done by dinner at 4:00.
- 3:55 p.m. - As I approach the oven to remove the casserole, Mom says, "I think it's a goner." I open the door to see the burnt onions, but the casserole is still moist and tasty. I note that even though she was at the oven minutes before me, she didn't remove the "goner" dish. Bitch.
- 3:58 p.m. - As I'm bringing the large casserole upstairs to the kitchen, Aunt Sally micromanages me by directing me away from where I was going to put the hot pan (on the pullout woodblock underneath grandma's microwave) to a tiny burner-sized space on the kitchen stovetop. I say, "Why don't I put it where I intended to put it - on this wood block. Pull it out for me if you want to be helpful." She does. Upperhand obtained.
- 4:00 p.m. - Cousin Anne arrives just in time for dinner. She's nice but she comes from freeloader stock, and she has a mullet. She's had the same haircut all my life. She has a teenage daughter and I always wondered who would bed such a woman. I'm awful.
- 4:10 p.m. - Everybody is seated at the table with their food. Sally is martyring herself in the kitchen, removing rolls from their pans even though nobody has room on their plates for them.
- 4:25 p.m. - Sally finally joins the table, and even though we've already begun eating, grace is prayed.
- 5:15 p.m. - DAD AND I LEAVE THAT MADHOUSE TO HANG OUT AT AUNT BECK'S!!!!!!
- I get to see my Meyer cousins and a couple of crazy pictures are taken.
- Michelle rushes out of the room to take a dump, as we all suspected. We laugh.
- After Gavin and Kennedy get baths, all us girl cousins take them to the bedroom to change them and goof off with them. I rub a towel over my head over and over again, exclaiming "I just got out of the shower!" Cassie and I do the "Brrr, It's Cold in Here" cheer for the babies.
- Beck tells me she has read my blog and it has made her cry.
- Dad and I go home and have good driving conversation.
- I spend the entire day at Manda's house visiting and playing with Cody & Ella. I learn that Cody couldn't go to Hooters for his birthday because one friend's mom didn't like the idea. I ask him if he went to "Balls" instead.
- We put up Manda's tree and Christmas decorations while Ella naps. When she wakes up we tell her there's a surprise in the living room for her. She runs to the stairs and says, "OooooOOOOOooooh! Ah Pretty!" when she sees the tree. We show her all the "pretties" in the house.
- I make Oatmeal Scotchies (oatmeal cookies with butterscotch chips and walnuts) for the decorating day.
- Cody calls me a Jew when I keep winning at Connect Four. I tell him, "You know what's funny about the Jews? Six Million of them were murdered during the Holocaust." The lesson being that he shouldn't make fun of Jews, and I get to make a joke in bad taste to make my point.
- We celebrate Grandma's 90th birthday at the VFW in Jasper. We arrive early and the conversation is painful. I make the excuse to run to Walgreens for a disposable camera, taking Cody with me. I yell at a woman who takes up 2 parking spaces, calling her "big-titted."
- I order a gin and tonic and am pleasantly surprised to learn it costs only 2 dollars. "I love coming home!" I exclaim to the bartender.
- I spend most of the party with Manda and her family, as I don't know the exact names of most of my cousins. They all have T-names - Tammy, Theresa, Tracy, Tina, etc. I can't keep them straight, so it's best not to strike up conversation.
- Mom shows signs of being crazy. When she introduces Manda to her aunt, she mentions "The thing I remember about Atz is that she made a chocolate cake and put pecans all around it for so-and-so's birthday." Atz looks confused and says, "I don't remember ever making such a thing," and Mom's eyes glaze over and she says, "Oh, you did, and it was the best cake ever." Manda's eyes bulge out and she turns to me as if to say, "Bitch is crazy!" Mom also made the comment, "She's so beautiful," to the father of a long-haired child. He corrected her that the child was a boy.
- Aunt Marlene won't get in the family photo because Mom is in it. They had a big fight earlier this year. Uncle Pat, Aunt Sally and Aunt Paula keep trying to convince her in the back of the room, but she just says, "No!" There's a little scene. Meanwhile Mom is standing with some of her brothers while waiting for the photo and she starts acting like a child, putting bunny ears on people and laughing. Manda turns to me and says, "Marlene is being a baby about this picture, and Mom's up there acting like a retard. I don't know which is worse." The picture is taken without Marlene. Manda says that was kind of out of line, but she can't blame her.
- Later when recounting the story to Dad, he says, "I can't blame her."
- When I come home, Dad makes coffee and tells me to add a touch of Bailey's to it; apparently it's his new favorite thing. Gift Idea! We have one of those great stand-around-the-kitchen chats.
- The subject turns to the question, "If someone cheats to win a prize, how can that make them feel good?" Dad shows me a Field and Stream editorial about a man who took an easy shot at a doe and ended up reconsdering his stance on hunting. Dad got to talking about how he could never hunt because he would be afraid of wounding the animal and having to put it out of its misery. He starts to get weepy when he talks about a guy who had to shoot a buck in the heart to finally kill it. He gets choked up about it, says "Goddamnit," and has to leave the room to compose himself.
- We decide to watch Hairspray, but Mom comes home just as I start to load the DVD. Dad says, "Well you can forget about that." We tried to watch it while she babbled drunkly. She exclaimed, "I never drank so much in my life!" and from the looks we exchanged, both Dad and I found that hard to believe.
- I left at 7 a.m. to ride back to Chicago with Uncle Wally. We discussed our new jobs, why we left the old ones, bad management.
- I introduced him to the McGriddle. He introduced me to the Sausage Burrito. I still like my McGriddle.
- We pass a billboard in Indiana advertising Scrementi's Italian Restaurant. I comment that the name sounds like a bowel movement. For 5 minutes, Wally and I bust each other up talking like Italians: "What is-a this steaming pile of pasta?" "Is Scrementi's!" "Is this marinara?" "Is Scrementi's!" "Is Family, Is Fun, Is Scrementi's!" Let me tell you about it sometime.
So there's that,