Over the past year or two, I feel like I have become a very different person than I was the other 37-38 years. I am not sure yet if this is a good or bad thing. The other day I let a woman have it in the bakery of our grocery store, and while she deserved it, today I wonder if I went too far? Did I go far enough? Should I have always let every flappy-mouthed nasty hag I've ever encountered who begged for my finger in her face have a piece of my mind? Or would that just have gotten me beat up a lot? I came out unscathed this time, but one day I might go ghetto on the wrong woman and end up in the ER. Would it be worth all that if it means I no longer have to just take other people's shit without standing up to them? Maybe. Was I better off when I swallowed every ounce of anger that reared its ugly hand when someone else did something uncalled for and worthy of a throat punch? I'm not sure that I was, because my stomach always seemed to hurt. Maybe it was just a fluke and I will keep my mouth shut in public from this point foward whenever I encounter some asshole who thinks they are better or more important than everyone else. I hope not. It definitely seems like the looser my brain shakes around in my skull, the shorter my fuse gets, so there is always a chance that someone is going to do something super rude to me, or even worse - to someone I care about - in 2 years, and lose a limb. Only time will tell.
I recently went over to the house of an old friend, and she lives in what looks like one of those HGTV Dream Houses. I tried not to gape and act too much like a country mouse, but it was hard because there is a special kind of beautiful crown molding atop every single door, including the pantry. The faucet in the bathroom which would be just a regular powder room for some of us, is the most amazing faucet I have ever seen, ever. I heard angels sing when I looked directly at it. Her bathroom is as big as one of the bedrooms in my house, and once I got a good look at it, including the incredible CHANDELIER hanging there, I had no choice but to tell her that she is not welcome in my home. She isn't a snob about it at all, this is just how she lives and how she has lived for most of her adulthood, and I guess once you get used to something like that, you don't really think about it much, but if she was in my wee vinyl-sided home, I would curl up into the shape of a boiled shrimp and lay on the (builder-grade carpeted) floor with humiliation. It has nothing to do with my friend, and everything to do with me, and I wish I knew how to shrug it off and not care, but I don't. There is a fantastic rock fireplace in her casual dining room, and basically what it boils down to is that her casual dining room is nicer than my entire house. Her front porch is the kind you see in movies. I don't have a front porch at all. Beside her in-ground pool is a basketball court. Beside my pool is a hornet's nest up against the aluminum wall. We have it better than some, not as good as others, and most of the time I am totally okay with this, but seeing how nice things can REALLY get without being Donald Trump tacky, was quite a slap of reality. I don't even think I want these things so much as I suddenly felt bad for not having any of them. I was once totally fine with not having Plantation shutters in our windows, and I will be totally fine with that again. It will pass. But for now, I seem to have a dose of the envies.
One thing that we do very have in common, despite our very different neighborhoods is the fact that we both have some SHITTAY neighbors. Hers calls the police every five minutes on her about things like her sprinklers running when it's "not her day", or because her kids are having too much fun in the pool and their happiness rattles his black and bitter heart. Ours are the ones who I should be calling the police on, but I haven't quite gotten there yet. It's a fine line, because I know that once I call the fuzz on their asses, there's no going back. But at the same time, the chick who moved in a few months ago and fights constantly with her boyfriend all day while his mother is at work (they are in their early 20's), just smashed a bunch of beer bottles in a fit of rage on Friday and left glass all over their driveway, the sidewalk, and in the cul-de-sac. As she knows, because she has eyes, there are a bazzilion kids who play basketball in that cul-de-sac every day, and they always play barefoot. Also, we have an outdoor cat who would have to walk through that mess, and there are people who walk their dogs around the whole neighborhood because of the sidewalks, who shouldn't have to drag their pets through a bunch of broken glass. She did this at about 9:00 a.m., and I waited and waited to see if she would come out and clean it up, but no, of course not. So I tried to sweep some of it up with my pitiful kitchen broom, to no avail, and finally asked Charles to bring home a heavy push broom from work, which he did, and then he proceeded to clean up all the glass, including in their driveway. ONLY because of the animals.
Did she notice that someone cleaned this up for her? I don't see how she couldn't have, but we have no way of knowing. I would love to believe that this embarassed her enough that she would never pull shit like that again, but I have zero faith in that theory. I don't particularly want to talk to her, or anyone else in that house about what she did, or any of the other rip-roaring fights she and her boyfriend have in the front yard when mommy is gone. This is the same house where a gunshot rang out while the son was having a party, but he told me it wasn't them, it must have come from the golf course behind our houses. This is the same house where one of the guy's friends was arrested in the woods behind our property - Charles was home to witness the whole thing. The guy was taken down by police dogs, while officers trained their guns on him yelling, "FREEZE!!!! FREEZE!!!!! GET YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR NOW!!!!!!!!!!!", and then once he was firmly in cuffs, the gang unit also showed up. Later the neighbor kid told us the fuss was because the guy and his girlfriend were fighting, and he had her keys, so she called the cops. We must look really stupid if he thinks we believe they send 5 patrol cars, the K-9 unit and the Gang Squad chasing a man into the woods over a minor domestic squabble.
I'm not sure what to do. They are just renters, and for all I know they could up and move any time. I don't want to create a bunch of animosity on their end by calling the police and complaining about them. Not to mention, this kid's friends are SCARY, and I do mean the kind who make shit your pants just by looking at you. They don't pretend to be cordial to us if we happen to walk out for the mail while they are gathered in the driveway smoking weed and talking about what bullshit it is that one of their friends got busted for whatever they just got busted for. I do not want to piss these people off, so I guess I will just continue to hope that they leave soon. The thing is, I really don't think the mother has one clue about what goes on when she isn't home. She's the type of sunshiney, friendly person who seems like she is always on her way to, or just getting home from a glorious day at church. She doesn't see that her son is a deadbeat, and that his girlfriend she let move in with them is psycho (she throws stuff around a whole lot, and screams like an animal for sometimes ten minute intervals, which scares my dog, but again - never when the mom is around). We live in the suburbs. This wasn't supposed to happen.
And now, on to the eyerolly part. Charles' mother (MIL) is starting to really lose her mind (even worser and morer than beforer) because none of her older relatives have died and left her money in a really long time. She has a new BMW to pay for, fer Christ's sake! She will come right out and tell us, looking us straight in the eye, that she wishes her dad would die. She doesn't sugarcoat that at all anymore - she is plain pissed off that he dares to continue living for no reason, with all that money in the bank. That is a direct quote, my friends. His sister, Aunt Jean, recently took a fall and got a small rip in her esophagus. Aunt Jean has a daughter who comes over daily, found her on the floor bleeding, called 911, and got her to the hospital so they could sew up the tear and keep her a bit for observation and tests since Aunt Jean is in her 80's now. MIL called Charles and said she was "dropping EVERYTHING", which is exactly nothing, to go up there and help Aunt Jean. So she took a taxi to the airport, caught a flight to Lexington, Kentucky, then rented a car. When she got there, Aunt Jean was doing just fine, sitting up, chatting, going to be released the following day. MIL told her that wasn't necessarily a good thing, because remember what happened when MIL's mother got released from the hospital? 10 days later she died from a blood clot! Believe it or not, Aunt Jean was still willing to take her chances and go on home despite the fact that someone else once died from a blood clot after being hospitalized. She must be some kind of eternal optimist! A dreamer! MIL got really mad when she told Aunt Jean's daughter to move away from one of the beeping machines, because MIL needed to be able to see it at all times. Aunt Jean's daughter said, "You don't even know what anything on this machine does." So MIL started crying, and flounced into the hallway juuuuust outside the door so that everyone could hear, where she called Charles and hollered that she was coming home early because people were being mean to her, and Charles needed to come pick her up from the airport. On Monday, at 5:00 p.m. Which has to be THE most hellish time to have to go anywhere in Atlanta at all. Don't ask me why she couldn't just get a taxi back home...I suppose that just wouldn't have been dramatic enough. I'm sure if someone, anyone, had begged her not to go she would have stayed longer but...no.
After she got back home, she told Charles she was incredibly depressed because "it has begun". What has begun? Well, Aunt Jean's fall was only the beginning of what will surely be an avalanche of relatives dropping dead like flies, and MIL "has no choice" but to "drop everything" and go to Kentucky for several weeks to "take care of everyone". Did anyone, much less everyone, ask her to come? Nope. And yet, somehow this is all on her shoulders. I told Charles that I had no idea she had such a heavy load to bear, being the lone person responsible for everyone in the state of Kentucky. That's a lot of pressure! So she told him that she decided not to pack any funeral clothes, because she's trying to be positive (for the first time in her entire life) and he said, "Funeral clothes?? For whose funeral?" and she said, "Aunt Jean." So he said, "Isn't she home and doing fine now?" and MIL said, "That's what they SAY, but she had the sniffles on the phone yesterday, I heard it, which is obviously pneumonia, and that's very dangerous for someone her age. I wish I didn't have to go handle this, but if I don't, no one else will These things always fall on me, Charles, and it's just so exhausting." As bad as I feel for Aunt Jean and the rest of the people in Kentucky that she might try to "help" right into an early grave, I am selfishly looking forward to not being in the same state as MIL for a while.
Meanwhile, last Sunday one of my aunts suffered a massive stroke and was believed to be brain dead. On Tuesday my uncle was told to get things in order and start thinking about when it's time to pull the plug. All hope was lost, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, and we were all in shock - especially considering that this aunt of mine is only 49 years old. Once again, this is on my mom's side of the family, the side that always takes the big hits, and needless to say, there were some mighty upsetting days while all this was going on. Come Thursday, my aunt suddenly took a turn for the better. She is paralyzed along her entire left side, blind in her left eye, can't swallow food on her own or take in enough oxygen without assistance, but she is able to laugh and smile and understand what is being said to her. That's 2 days after the doctor said she was gone forever, no hope. So let that be a lesson, kids, that it's probably best to give someone AT LEAST A WEEK before pulling the plug, because WOW, right? And the whole time all of this was happening, not one person, not my uncle, not my sweet cousins, no one got as dramatic and martyred as MIL did when nothing was ever seriously wrong. I like my family's way of doing things better.