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Jiggedy Jig

I hate coming back to a messy place. But the cats hadn’t been pleased by two weeks of abandonment, so my little sanctuary space was quite the mess. Spent all yesterday cleaning, working out on my new-to-me elliptical bike, and watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Amy Sherman-Palladino, how I love thee!

The Meezer unaccountably has taken up residence under my bed.

Rutger has decided he’s a dog.

Many of the storage boxes I’d packed up in California on Monday had actually arrived, so I dealt with those, too. After nearly a decade in storage, Jackie’s having a perpetual bad hair day and is missing a shoe!

The Trip in Review:


In Orange County, it was over 90 degrees.

Ninety degrees in fuckin’ November!

I had to tromp around a bit to grok the full ramifications of that – Boomers! Big on experiential learning! Once upon a time, Tustin had been a real live human town. This was back in the day when there were real live citrus groves in Orange County.

The architectural remnants of that real live town are a Destination of sorts thereabouts, genuine anything being exceedingly rare in Southern California. So I set out in search of it. But by the time I’d tromped two miles, I found myself dizzy and nauseated, hovering on the verge of genuine heat stroke.

Nothing to be done about that except to keep on tromping.

In a way, that’s the story of my life.

Of course, I could have gone back over to Bill and MaryAnn’s and spent the day there, but I was trying to be sensitive to the proprieties of the situation: Present Wife entertaining X-Wife. Bill, Max and the rest of the kids wouldn’t have cared. But I think MaryAnn would have.

Underground economy transactions were proceeding at a brisk pace by the time I got back to the Key Inn. A large cockroach was stalking the bathroom sink, a scout, no doubt, sent out by the Cockroach King – So when are they gonna become extinct exactly?plus (exciting first!) the steam from my shower actually activated the smoke alarm in my room. So I can’t recommend the Key Inn for any of y’all Dear Readers who may be planning to visit Tustin in the near future. Though if you’re looking for cheap meth…

Did go back to Bill and MaryAnn’s for dinner. Then a gang of us settled round the quadrillion-inch TV set to watch Get Out, which is even more of a masterpiece on second viewing. Get Out is easily the best film made in 2017.


Max and I hit the northbound highway fairly early.

Max works and works and works and works. The night before, for example, he hadn’t joined our movie party – he was working.

My public policy training is such that I see Max isn’t working particularly efficiently. When you’re writing a paper about some arcane aspect of the law, for example, really you should do only enough initial research to help you come up with some sort of cogent outline for the paper.

Thereafter, you should confine your research only to fleshing out the specifics of the paper. Else you can really disappear down a rabbit hole.

Unfortunately, Max doesn’t seem to understand this, and any wise maternal admonitions exasperate him, so I keep my mouth shut. It is immensely frustrating to watch him spin his wheels, though. I want to scream, You’re overthinking this!

He’s a sensitive young man, and I think he thought I thought I was being ignored. Not true because (a) I like spending time by myself, and (b) it made me happy to facilitate his Thanksgiving reunion with his Dad since I knew he couldn’t afford to make the trip by himself.

Any time I’m in a position to make one of my kid’s dreams come true, I will do so! ‘Cause you know: I am the world’s best mother!

But I suspect Max decided I needed quality Max-and-Mommy time. So we stopped in Solvang.

Which turned out to have a mission.

Who knew?

I like missions!

This one is called Santa Inés, and what it is doing in the middle of a faux Danish tourist trap town is beyond me. It was founded in 1804, which is relatively late for a mission.

It was a little bit dinky and very pretty.

In the courtyard, we eavesdropped on an entitled Millennial going off on her bewildered parents: And you never ever take my feelings into consideration –

And I thought, Dayem, bitch! They’ve been taking your feelings into consideration for 25 plus years! And also – from the looks of you – feeding you, housing you, clothing you, and subsidizing your taste in expensive electronics.

The parent/child bond. Always a source of bemusement.

Max and i got in the car and drove some more. We drove along the outskirts of Salinas! We detoured to Santa Cruz over 156, a small highway that once upon a time, three or four times a week, I drove regularly when I was working for BrakePoint and had to commute regularly to an office in San Francisco’s trendy upscale South Park.

156 scared the shit out of me because it was a two-lane highway, and the headlights of the cars accelerating toward me as I drove home at 9, 10 o’clock at night – I was an upwardly mobile executive; I worked long hours – literally blinded me so that I couldn’t see the markings on the road. I was always terrified that I was going to drive off into a ditch.

I surprised myself on this trip by feeling no emotional resonances whatsoever.

And then it was time for Ordeal By Blood Relations!

Annie and I have abandoned any pretext of liking each other.

That was kind of a relief.

See, Annie, I am not the fourth Vogel sister. You do not get to triangulate against me with your demented sister Jane and torment me psychologically the way you tortured my poor doomed mother.

Not that Jane is up for much triangulation these days.

“She’s dying,” Annie said abruptly when I did the pro forma And how is… thing. She said it accusingly as though it were somehow my fault. “She’s in hospice. She could go any moment.”

Did I care? I probed my psyche. Really, honestly, truthfully – I did not! Whew! So much psychological growth!

“Gee,” I said. “That’s too bad.”

“Yes, it is, for me,” Annie said. “It will break my heart.”

“What’s she dying of? I mean – I know she’s in her late 80s. But is there an – um – proximal cause?”

“Alzheimer’s!” Annie snapped.

“I’m sorry,” I said. And I was sorry. Because Janie and I may share up to 25% of our DNA in common. Which means I’m a candidate for Alzheimer’s, too! “Do let me know if there’s some kind of memorial. I live very close to David as it turns out.”

“Oh, there won’t be any memorial,” Annie said. “We’ll cremate her. And then – I don’t know. Dump her ashes in a recycling bin.”

Yes, I thought. I bet you will.


When I was in my 20s, I cut off all communication with my mother’s family. They were very brilliant but also deeply creepy, and they were never very nice to me. I was the stepchild who was locked in the basement. My mother abused me in all sorts of ways that as an adult, I have tried to forgive her for – after all, she was only 16 when she had me; if I’d had a baby at 16, I would probably have strangled it and left its corpse in a dumpster. I find it somewhat harder to forgive them: They saw what was happening to me. And they did nothing. Except for Rik. Who wasn't even a blood relation.

I started communicating with them after I became pregnant with Max because I thought, Well, hell. They’re his family, too. He should get to make the decision whether or not he wants contact with them.

And I have to say, my mother was an exemplary grandmother. She was the only one of the Vogel sisters to pursue therapy, and as she got older, she was able to keep many of the negative behaviors associated with her borderline personality disorder in check – at least when her life was going smoothly. (Of course, that all fell apart when she became ill.) I like to imagine that she regretted what she had done to me. And she really, really loved Max.

Annie has always been very fond of Max as well.

“That’s because he’s a male,” Alicia – Annie’s daughter – noted. “Haven’t you ever noticed that the Vogel sisters hated all women? They only liked males!”

I can't say I had noticed the Vogel sisters hated all women! I thought they only hated me!

As Vogel sisters survivors, Alicia and I share a peculiar connection. I wouldn’t call it affection exactly: I’ve always found Alicia extremely difficult to bond with.

“My mother doesn’t really like anyone,” Alicia continued. “She’s a complete narcissist. She does it in this bizarre self-deprecating way, so it’s hard to pick up on.”

An astute analysis. And one that rang true.

Alicia is stressed to the max dealing with the ongoing saga of Annie’s property.

“We’re on our second lawyer now,” Alicia said. “We’re $30,000 out of pocket. And he’s gonna take 30% of any settlement we get.”

“They let lawyers do that?” I asked. “I thought it was an either/or payment upfront or contingency thing.”

Alicia rolled her eyes. “He’s a complete jerk. I told him: You need to file that suit as soon as possible. And then I called him 10 days later, and he still hadn’t filed it! I mean, hey! We’re dealing with a very narrow statute of limitations window here. You have to ride these people constantly. It’s very annoying.”

The world lost a talented tort attorney when Alicia decided to try and win Rik's (her father) approval – in vain, I might add – by studying microbiology. She is a veritable pitbull.

“So, the week after the landslide,” Alicia confides, “my mother comes up with this wacky idea: She’s gonna move an RV on to the property. And I tell her, No, no, that’s impossible. There’s no causeway. The ground’s unstable. There’s no place to hook up utilities. But you know, she thinks she’s this hippie earth-mother goddess or something, so she knows best. And then she starts talking to the lawyer about it. Next thing I know, there’s a bill for $3,000 on my desk from the lawyer – for research on RVs and red-tagged properties!

I laughed.

You think that's funny? You wouldn’t if you were the one paying that lawyer. I read him the riot act. You know what he said to me? You’re not my client; your mother is! I said, Maybe, but I’m the one who’s paying your bill. Then I called my mother and let it fly.”

“And how did that go over?”

“Oh, she sulked like a five-year-old who’d just been told, No, you can’t wear your Princess Elsa dress to school.

You just cost me three grand
, I said. That shut her up.”

There was a time when I might have felt sorry for Annie in this predicament.

“Well, you look great,” I told Alicia, and indeed, she does:

In her 20s, Alicia had been a professional triathalete, and she still exercises fanatically. She looks 20 years younger than her age – which is 50.

“I do Botox,” she confided. “Plus I get eyelash extensions every two weeks.”

The Botox I could take or leave – unless it could do something for crepe neck. Vanity, vanity – all is vanity - I grok! But I must say, I find this slackening around my jawline very discouraging.

The eyelashes, though. I’d definitely do the eyelashes! Eyelashes make a huge difference.

I’d never gotten the feeling that Alicia had very much use for me, but as we talked, I could feel my ratings going up, up, up on her internal Alicia-ometer.

What cinched it was my suitcase.

She kept circling my suitcase.

She even peered inside it as I fished out my pajamas.

“One bag for a two-week trip?”

“Well,” I said. “You have to pack carefully. Be very organized. I repack everything at least once a day.”

“Very efficient! I like it. I like it. You look good, Patty. I mean for 65! I wouldn’t guess you were a day over 55, honestly.”

This is probably the highest praise of which Alicia is capable.

The next morning, I restored my sanity by having a lovely brunch with Susie and Jon.

And then Max and I took off for Berkeley where I spent the next two days packing and shipping storage unit stuff.

I think I’m glad to be back. I’m not 100% sure yet.

This entry was originally posted at http://mallorys-camera.dreamwidth.org/696953.html. You may leave comments on either Dreamwidth or LiveJournal if you like.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 1st, 2017 07:18 pm (UTC)
Jesus! Is that a Lucy doll?

I like the monkey!
Dec. 1st, 2017 08:23 pm (UTC)
That is a Lucy doll! :-)

The monkey is Mighty Joe Young! He does all sorts of great things when he has batteries in him! :-)
Dec. 6th, 2017 05:35 am (UTC)
I would like to see what that monkey can do! I had a Bozo the Clown with wires attached to a "remote" control when I was a kid. He could do back flips and things. That was a cool toy!
Dec. 1st, 2017 07:46 pm (UTC)

I'm certainly glad you're back and perhaps not visibly scarred at least.

Dec. 1st, 2017 08:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you, my friend! Not scarred in the least. The family interactions were merely... interesting. :-)
Dec. 1st, 2017 08:17 pm (UTC)
So Annie and Alicia are your half-sisters from mom...?

Those are your toys! Lol. I thought you just saw them somewhere. I was like, check out Jackie O, Lucy! Et al...

Yes eyelashes make a huge diff! I have hardly any, they're so short, but now I've been putting a little mascara on, dedicating almost a whole minute of my workday mornings to it! I'd love to try some subtle fake ones some time.
Dec. 1st, 2017 08:22 pm (UTC)
Annie is my mother's sister - hence my aunt.

Alicia is Annie's daughter - hence my first cousin.

Alicia says you have to redo the eyelashes every two weeks. First time is $150; thereafter, it's around $65.

I have almost decided I want to do this because, yes! Eyelashes make a huge difference. So maybe this is a girly thing we do together? I am still mulling.

Yes, those are my toys! :-) I also have a pretty nice dollhouse, but I think I'm going to sell it. It won't transport well.
Dec. 1st, 2017 08:53 pm (UTC)
I see.

Yes let's! I've been sort of thinking about it for my "more neutral make up days," if they ever do come. I'm sure we could get a Groupon in the city or something.
Dec. 1st, 2017 08:59 pm (UTC)
Let's do eeeeet! After the new year! :-)
Dec. 1st, 2017 09:46 pm (UTC)
Tax deduction.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )