Holiday Anxiety

We’ve been struggling with holiday plans for weeks now. Of course, we’d like to have Bea spend as much time as possible with everyone, but we are at the mercy of long-distance travel with a spirited toddler, which is not easy.

Most of the time, she’s great in the car. But we usually try to schedule our driving time around her nap. Charlie wants to head to Indianapolis as soon as he gets off work on Wednesday, 5:45pm, the day before Thanksgiving. We’d spend the day at our friends’ – Jill and Scott – and Charlie would leave late Thursday (or early Friday morning, despite potentially encountering hordes of holiday shoppers) since he doesn’t have to be back at work until 10am.

Then he’d drive back down Saturday afternoon when he left work at 3pm, and we’d all come home Sunday after my family’s dinner.

Complicated enough?

The most irritating part is that we actually had an opportunity to stay even longer — Charlie was actually off today (Sunday) and tomorrow, so we could conceivably have driven down one of those days. But we are also at the mercy of finances, and the longer we are in Indy, the more money we’ll have to spend on food and activities with other people we want to see.

We’ve done a decent job of staying on top of bills until this past week. Charlie finally gave in and went into a debt management program (I did not know until about a month ago exactly how much he owed in credit cards — it’s a lot.), so this program have been a lot more helpful if he’d signed up earlier. Instead, we had to continue making extra payments on everything while they decided whether or not to agree to the terms.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving will be my paternal family’s get-together, which, of course, may include my dad. Though I wouldn’t be shocked if he didn’t turn up, I am really not looking forward to having to see him. While I’m relatively happy with the way things are right now, I just cannot imagine having a polite conversation with him about “how things are going” without gritting my teeth to keep from screaming something about how much better things would have been if he hadn’t leeched off of us for almost a year.

There would be so many things I would want to say to him, and so many things I would probably not allow myself to say. But Charlie is a lot more confrontational than I am, so I’m also concerned that he might just go off, too. The chances of that happening are much more likely than of me doing it . . . I think?

I keep imagining two things: one is this really angry encounter – seething, fuming, hateful – and the other is me feeling like a human being, feeling sorry for him. This man lost everything, including his wife and family (he certainly hasn’t gone out of his way to develop any sort of relationship with me or my sister), job, home, etc… And now he has this dinky apartment in some crappy building in the middle of nowhere and he just wants to make it comfortable.

But then I’m angry again. Thinking about all the times he lied right to my face, all the times I knew he was trying to bullshit or manipulate me, and I don’t understand why I continue to feel sorry for him. It’s what he wants. He really thrives on other people’s sympathies. I don’t know how many times I heard him exaggerate or flat-out like about a circumstance in order to garner sympathy from a listener. His mom, his brothers, me, Charlie, a random person on the phone, bill collectors, you name it.

I guess this is the part where people are supposed to tell me I go back and forth because I’m “a good person.” Or, at least, perhaps a “better” person than he is. I don’t know what to think, feel, or do. I just know that I’ve done a pretty good job of managing my anxiety over the past few years and the thought of having to see him for the first time in almost 8 months, with absolutely zero contact (did I mention, not even an email for his granddaughter’s birthday? Yeah, I’ve probably mentioned it several times) gives me a sick feeling in my stomach.

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I’m Not Going to Apologize

I’m too lazy to search for it, but someone posted a link a while ago on people apologizing for not writing in their blogs more often. Like, tons and tons of people saying, “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while.”

I’m not going to apologize. I’ve been writing more for school in the past 8 weeks than I think I did in the last year of my undergrad. We’re now into week 9, and there are only ten in the entire quarter. Then we have this ridiculously long break and it’s back again January 3rd.

I managed to get registered for winter quarter the minute my appointment opened. Most colleges seem to have people scheduled based on their seniority. As a first-term graduate student, I wasn’t allowed to register until four days after the other students. Maybe I’ll get a little more time for the spring quarter.

I missed out on the class I really wanted: travel writing. Well, to be honest, I didn’t want to take a travel writing course, but the new head of the department is the instructor. She made it clear during our orientation that she won’t approve things like theses, internships, or teaching if she hasn’t had you in class at least twice. Since this is only a two-year program (if you go full time), and since it’s a small program with a lot of nerds, and since there aren’t a wide variety of courses offered each term, you have a limited amount of time to get to know the department head. She only teaches one class per quarter.

This is why I’m in my current journalism class – the former head of the department is the instructor. I didn’t find out until a few days before classes started that he had stepped down. I do enjoy the class and, so far, I have excellent grades on all my assignments. But he’s kind of an odd guy and it’s difficult to have a discussion. He’s constantly interrupting people. He asked me to prepare a ten-minute oral presentation on a chapter of Ted Conover’s Coyotes for last night. But he went on for so long in the class that I ended having to run through it in about 2 minutes.

So school is going well. The class I really like, magazine writing, I’m not doing so hot in right now. I’m averaging a B+. I realize that makes me sound like kind of an asshole, but you pretty much have to make straight As to get anything. There’s a lot of competition in my program and there are very few opportunities for assistantships, financial aid other than loans, that sort of thing.

But I will say that being in a classroom with adults who actually want to be there is a pleasant change from my undergrad. Occasionally, I’ve noticed a person here or there who hasn’t shown up for a class, but it’s rare. Compare that to the semesters at IUPUI where, after weeks 3 and 4, people would start dropping like flies. Or, when it came time for “peer review” and other students would stare blankly ahead. Only when asked for a comment would they offer, “It’s good. Yeah.” “Oh, I liked it.”

I have kind of, sort of, made a couple of little friends at school. I don’t think it will go much of anywhere, though. They’re so young . . . single, no kids, going out to get drinks and food all the time. It just isn’t a lifestyle that meshes with mine very well.

We went back to Indy last weekend. It was bittersweet. I cried when we left Chris and Vicki’s, and again when we were at Sarah’s to get the kids together. Sarah and Maureen – former co-workers from the coffeeshop – were discussing Halloween and when they were going to take their kids trick or treating. It made me sad to think Bea was going to miss out on that.

She did go last night. I missed out on it since I had class, but I got her dressed and we went outside to hand out candy to some of the other kids. Then Charlie and I traded off and he took her door-to-door. It’s kind of disgusting how much candy she got.