Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thanksgiving and News

When people speak of "the holidays" they naturally have in mind several different occasions, but in my case each individual holiday becomes multiplied. It's something I rather enjoy.

On Tuesday, November 22nd, my parents held a Thanksgiving dinner at our home in Mountain Town. This was an affair only for the immediate members of the Our Family family. As someone who has long despised the absurd conventions carried on by normal people for no apparent reason, in particular the convention that holds a person should expect miserable holiday interactions with their relatives, I was dismayed by my parents' mind-blowing emotional insensitivity and, through it, their ability to project a vaguely menacing air. Even after specifically inviting Powell home for a festival dedicated to family and thankfulness, they managed to make him feel unwelcome. They have a gift.

My brother Powell has been through a lot, and my parents are a huge contributing factor to that. He was subject, like I was, to years of unrelenting child abuse and was then ejected from the only home he'd ever known when he reacted to child abuse the way almost every child does. He went off the rails. He started to go nuts. He internalized the inferiority and the insults and responded with an unquenchable anger that they had the audacity to be confused by. He became what they made him and then they kicked him to the curb for it.

It's deeply frustrating, at times even agonizing. He is in desperate need of psychological help but is afraid, as he prepares to enlist in the Marine Corps, to seek it out lest he be deemed unfit for service. I want to tell him to put all such concerns aside but know how limited his options are. He can't seek help from home. He'll get no quarter there.

Their--specifically my mother's--determination to provide him with no substantive assistance seems unshakeable, even if such determination conflicts with prior promises: Powell has counted for months on my father's guarantee that he could come home after he enlisted, but at Thanksgiving dinner no less my mother shot the idea down.

"Mom, where am I supposed to go?" he asked. "Anne is probably moving."

My mother shook her head and sighed in an infuriating display of mock-pity.

"I guess you'll figure it out," she said.

I don't know how far my father's desire to keep his word will go, but if past events are any indication my mother's role as supreme decisionmaker will go unchallenged. It is this combination--unconscionable callousness from both of them and appalling cowardice from my father--that has made me of late seriously consider disowning them, but that's a post for another time.

Not all of the break was spent with my parents.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving I was fortunate enough to be invited to Black Dress Girl's house, where a number of self-declared "losers," almost all in their early and mid twenties, had assembled to have Thanksgiving with friends instead of family.

Black Dress Girl has been one of my closest friends since we met while working together at Western City Movie Theater in 2008, and her own acquaintances are just as raucous as she and I are.

The evening was filled with rolling laughter, earthy humor, and a spread of food that was surprisingly good for having come out of a 23-year-old's kitchen.

When Black Dress Girl and I get together anything can happen, and I was relieved to find that her friend group is similarly degenerate. The conversation was such that at one point in the night I was able to utter the words "It's like going to Jiffy Lube: every three thousand miles you change the potato in your vagina" in a logical context.

There have also been several developments concerning mine and my family's future. For starters, this Christmas season will be our last in our current home. After purchasing our house in 2005 for just over $500,000.00 we saw its value decline to under $300,000.00 by earlier this year. My parents had been trying for months to sell it and were lucky that, when a buyer made a reasonable offer, the bank decided to absorb the loss.

A contract having now been concluded, we'll be moving sometime in February. I include myself in that "we," as, without a real job lined up, I will continue living at home with my parents for the foreseeable future despite the fact that I will graduate in some three weeks' time.

That fact is hard for me to grasp. Next week is the conclusion of non-exam sessions and thus will constitute my last week of classes an an undergraduate. That reality is a bit strange but not as sobering as one might imagine; I've been here so long that I'm really just ready to leave. The biting sadness that plagued my last week of high school, and which I can vividly remember, is not present now as even a dim shadow.

I'm glad that I'm graduating so late. Many college students, when the moment finally arrives, are reluctant to leave university, but because my tenure has been such a lengthy one I know I've gotten everything out of this place that I can. I had my first drink here. I had my first (male) kiss here. It was here that I first learned to accept myself and in the process made some of the best friends I've ever had. Many of those friends, of course, are no longer present; time has dwindled their numbers so that the last of the stragglers who arrived on this campus in 2006 are slinking out the door.

I'm glad to be one of them. I came here to learn, and I have learned much. Now it's time to go.

And while the job market has offered me no immediate gems, not all is lost; I recently learned that I've been accepted as an intern with Sentinel of the West Literary Agency. During my time at a literary agency in the City of Fate I fell in love with the profession and was thrilled to be notified of my acceptance at another agency this week.

The agency itself is in Movie State and I gather that its members rather like me as they asked me to start a special remote internship this month and then proceeded to inform me that they were granting me significantly more authority than they were giving to any of the other interns.

"So, what you're going to be doing is reading through manuscripts and telling us what you think," said the Agentess, my handler and the woman who offered me the position. "We haven't actually seen these manuscripts yet so we usually require some kind of reasoning behind an intern's decision, but I think in your case we'd just give you the power to say yes or no."


"You have a pretty advanced skill set," she explained. "We were very impressed with the test assessments you gave, and we feel like we can trust your judgement. I'm pretty comfortable giving you that kind of latitude."

I tried not to let my head get too big. I've been trying to figure out a way to move out to Movie State, aware as I am that securing a job at Sentinel of the West Agency will be difficult from 3,000 miles away, but absent that the Agentess has expressed hope that a remote internship will "at least give you enough experience to get hired by another agency."

So despite an outlook that in some respects is rather gloomy, I find myself quite excited and with what I think is good reason.

The last week of college starts on Monday. It's been a very long autumn.


Woozie said...

Reading about your parents always makes me so angry. It's funny you mentioned mayhap disowning them, because as I was reading I thought "if they were my parents, one day I would just leave and never see or speak to them again". Seems like an appropriate comeuppance.

I too am approaching the end of my undergraduate career and am somewhat intimidated by yet another major life change but I'm sure I'll navigate through it. I've come quite a way too; I've become half of a twentysomething gay couple with other twentysomething gay couple friends. A triple date is probably somewhere in my future. What have I done?

Arizaphale said...

Yes, your parents are something else alright. trouble is I think there are lots of people like them. I had a conversation with my own Dad recently as he tries the same strategies on my daughter as he did on me. I know his intentions are good but I also know he is going about it completely the wrong way. How do I know? Because I would get so incensed by his sarcasm and criticism that I did exactly the opposite of everything he ever said. Later, much later, I was able to point out to him gently that his values system was not the only valid one and, to his credit, he can see that now. I hope your parents will eventually come to some self awareness. Meanwhile..BRILLIANT news on the internship! what a compliment that they'll give you carte blanche! I feel the world is your oyster.....

jo(e) said...

Wow. You packed a lot into this blog post.

Congrats on the internship!

laura b. said...

The gathering you had with your friends sounds brilliant. A perfect remedy to the less that ecstatic family one.
I hope Powell can get some help.
And congrats in advance on all that is to come for you! I really do believe you can achieve anything your heart desires.

Selina Kingston said...

Long time since I've had a chance to visit and I'm sorry the situation with your parents is still so unsatisfactory. Hope you are OK and congrats on the internship.