Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The 7th Ring of Hell: Conclusion

Ack! The time! She is a whore! Where does it all go? I'll tell you where it goes! It goes to stupid work and stupid laundry and me being stupidly lazy and watching deliciously horrible reality TV like Project Runway and now the new show Roller Girls because if it's a crowd of crazy people expelling high drama and bad fashion I am SUCKED IN, baby, SUCKED IN LIKE FLYNN.

But I cannot leave you hanging and some good things have happened in the last week that I want to talk about but I must finish Christmas Shit: 2005 even though I'm mostly over it now.


Let me begin by clarifying that my mother did not shout out "Merry Fucking Christmas" in the car. That was the mantra screaming through my own head as we fated death on the freeway and headed to my brother's brand new and purchased by my parents house in a fucking dustbowl town outside of Phoenix. Yea, you heard me, my parents bought that house for him. And it's the SECOND ONE. Please, don't make me explain it. It causes me to vomit through my eyes.

My brother greeted me by fiddling with some tool or something and saying "hi" without raising his head to muster at least eye contact. Thanks, brother! Nice to see you too, dick. 46 years old and he acts like a petulant teenager. Too bad he won't go get high in the garage like he used to and shed this serial killer vibe he's got going. But whatever.

Then my parents new 5 month-old black lab puppy, Sadie came in from the back yard at mach 5 and launched herself 7 feet through the air at my head and nailed me right in the uterus and I fell so deeply, instantly in love with that floppy-eared little girl that it makes me ache not to be near her.

I was led to the den to put my stuff down on the ancient, single bed that I would not be getting any sleep on for the next 3 days because it sucked and where my mother promptly picked on my large suitcase, again, as I screeched like a howler monkey "I've told you 10 times it's half full of presents!!" and that shut her firmly. Jeeeeeez, Mommmmmmm. How many times did I have to say it? I didn't fucking pack my entire closet, it was gifts! I even brought my own wrapping paper and ribbon lest I use any of my brother's crap so BACK OFF. Oh, btw, she mentioned it one more time before I left. My mother = insufferable.

I was waiting for my brother to leave for the airport since he was doing a same-day round trip back to Cali to pick up my niece. My welcome had been so icy I knew my parents and I wouldn't be able to relax until he was gone. I'd spoken to my mom about training the puppy while I was there because for some unknown reason I'm really good at training stuff and my parents are horrible at it. She actually asked me to help. She. Asked me!

Case in point; When the puppy would get all riled up and bashing into furniture instead of saying a simple "no", or distracting her with a toy, my father would go into a full-blown lecture "you settle down now and stop all that rough-housing! Settle now! SETTLE DOWN NOW! You heard me, I said knock if off!"

Um...Dad? She doesn't know WHAT THE FUCK YOU'RE SAYING. Sheesh. The exsaperation I suffered.

My mother agreed to try my ideas and I appreciated that. It's a very, very rare occasion that she thinks I do anything slightly more than not completely shittily and I had a boner over training this damn dog and being a success in her eyes. Even for only a few days. Plus I'm gooooood. Damn good at it.

My mom had mentioned that a friend had given them a device called a halti. It's used to get better control over dogs who pull or lunge or might do those things like pounce on a baby and eat its head. Mom had relayed to me that the one and only time her and Dad tried to get the halti on Sadie baby was to wrestle the panicked pooch to the ground and force the binding torture device over her head. Because you know, making the puppy terrified of the training aid is the best approach. Goofy parents.

I had an idea to sit down and let the puppy get used to the halti by letting her sniff it, chew on it, play with it, and laying it over her nose while she flipped around me like a furry fish out of water. My idea worked! Within 20 minutes I had her sitting still and letting me click the halti on her face without protest or freak out. And right in front of my mother!

I was SO fucking proud of myself. My mom was excited and exclaimed "I can't believe she let you put it on her like that".

I straightened up even taller and beamed.

I praised Sadie for being such a good, good girl.

Then as soon as the triumph started it was shit on by my grumbling asshole brother when he spat, "Heh, big deal, look how long it took her".


Can't say anything nice, can you? Can't acknowledge that I taught the dog something with positive reinforcement in 20 short minutes and didn't tie a 10 pound work boot onto the collar of a year-old puppy for a week when it chewed the mate like you did to one of your dogs huh dickhead? Maybe you DON'T KNOW IT ALL?!? Totally shit on one of the only, out of 2, things I think I'm actually good at. (The other thing is top secret.)


Then we talked about the jumping. The puppy jumps. She's a baby. She's a lab. She's a red-level spaz. I told my mom the best method is to turn around, pull your arms up, and say "DOWN". But the main thing is to try and ignore it. Dogs jump up to greet you. It's in instinct, just watch wolves, they do the same thing. The puppy wants eye contact and thinks "yay, hi, yay, hi, YAY!". If you take that away they'll get the message, but it takes time. My mom had been told to lift her knee. WRONG. I know it's a method some people use, but I wanted to try a positive approach that I'd learned from an actual dog trainer and not play crush the puppy's chest in.

I was right in the middle of showing her what I was talking about when Mr. Man pipes up with a your are an idiot tone, "a knee in the chest is the best thing". Sigh. I, as nicely as possible, said, "no, it's not. It's actually the opposite thing we should do and now we're going to try something else". He shook his nasty head and said nothing more. I naively thought that was the end of that.
And do you know what that butthole did? He finally left and collected my niece and when they got home later that night my niece walked into the house, the puppy ran up to her, and she lifted her god damn knee right into that doggie's face.


Wonder where she got that idea? I had to spend the rest of my mini-Christmas vacation undoing what he did.

Despite his initial snotty comments, he left me alone about the dog after the first day. And I was a smashing success. Or rather, Sadie and I were. She did do some of the work. In the span of literally one day, some things she did on the second try, I taught that sweet puppy to shake, high-five, lay down, roll over, and speak. And we got even farther with the halti to the point she'd sit still like a good girl and let me click it on her then wear it for a few minutes, then sit still again while I took it off. She's scary smart. And the sweetest, most loving puppy I've ever seen. Now, if she'd just stop humping her stuffed moose like a porn star in heat, we'll be O.K.

Tension remained semi-high on Christmas day and increased ten-fold when my brother's girlfriend came over with her high-needs little boy. I don't want to get into that because this poor kid has been handed a shitbag of problems and the U.S. isn't interested or equipped to handle these kinds of kids. And his mother, while nice, can't (and I suspect doesn't want to) handle it either. My brother clearly has no love for this kid and decided to handle the boys ADHD squirms at the Christmas dinner table with a booming exclamation that went something like, "THIS IS MY HOUSE AND IN MY HOUSE YOU DO WHAT I SAY AND IF YOU DON'T SIT STILL AND EAT WITH US THEN YOU'LL GET NOTHING FOR THE REST OF THE NIGHT ROWR GRUMBLE GROWL".


OK, first off, you can't strong-arm a kid with autism, OCD, and ADHD. It's not your house it's Mom and Dad's. And nice prelude to dinner, asshole! We're all SO relaxed now! And maybe this little boy shouldn't have sucked down an entire sugar soda you gave him before dinner? Hmmm?

Dinner was completed with only one other incident that I fixed because the one adult at the table with no children figured out that the high needs kid with food triggers (and now that you mention it, non-heathens who detest food touching each other on the plate and who refuse to eat any bastardized combo like peas/mashed potatoes because ew, disgusting, and that's not abnormal in the least) don't like to eat pickles tossed into old ketchup and why don't we wipe all that red goo off the pickle with a napkin, there, all better. Jesus. H. must I do everything?

The rest of the weekend got stuck on some kind of loop of thinly vieled snotty comments from my brother, my parents crabbing at each other, me spending as much time as I can with the puppy, my mother turning from appreciation and awe at my training skills to making fun of me for spending so much time turning her dog into a well-behaved and incredibly cute circus puppy by calling out in a sing-song sarcastic voice "uh oh, school is in session" every time I did a little refresher, and a couple more near-misses of me launching a howizter at my brother's face for being a dick but he never took the bait, with some laughs inbetween. There were a few laughs, I won't discount that.

And oh, there was the expensive laptop case my mom got me for Christmas that, in theory, would have been a nice gift if 1. I owned a laptop, and 2. I was partial to Eddie Bauer looking green canvas/brown leather luggage, and 3. If she had any idea that it was the opposite thing I would ever buy for myself. But I'm sure she agonized over another gift for me so I wasn't going to give her too much shit and she did kick in a 100 bucks. So that was nice.

Unfortunately, she obssessed obssessively over the bag since my initial reaction was one of perplexion and dammit, I couldn't wipe that quizzical look off my face before she saw it and I was asked about 295 times if I wanted to return it for something else and she was assured by the crack-smoking lady at the catalog place that it could double as a weekend bag and I'd like to know what woman could get more than a thong and an eyeliner in this thing let alone shit for an entire weekend. I'm the person who brings 7 pairs of shoes for an overnight. You know, just in case.

And I'm sorry, but the thought is only good enough when thought is actually part of the equation. When you consistently get shit that makes no sense but at the same time points out the glaringly obvious gaps inbetween who you are and what your loved one pays attention to, it kind of sucks. Anyone need a food dehydrator? Cuz I have one from Christmas 1999. Never opened. Because I. Don't. Cook. Eh, oh well. My mom was actually pretty cool all weekend so I'm not going to throw her under the bus. This ruined vacation was all about my brother.

The day after Christmas was spent shopping a bit with my mom and niece and it went pretty well. I ran out of steam and patience about 2:00 but that's par for the course with me. We were able to manage to watch some movies and relax that night and I had one decent conversation with my dad about moving to another state because California, it's been nice, but we're over. I was ready to go home Monday night but had to wait until the next day. Poo.

My brother left for work before I got up on Tusdays and our brief "thanks for my stuff" had been covered the night before. No hug goodbye either. Whatever. Despite the small respites of pleasure, it had been such a stressful time I vowed I was not going to do that again. 2 Christmas's in a row and a summer vacation thrown in the middle all spent watching everyone walk on eggshells around my brother and me holding my tongue is enough for me. Which of course leaves me with a very painful bout of meloncholy since my father is 80 years old now and I want and need to cherish every minute I can spend with him. But I just can't do that with my brother around. It's shaving time off my own life.

I mentioned to my parents before we left for the aiport that being around my brother is just plain unpleasant. He's mean and grumpy and mean. I made sure they understood it wasn't a reflection on them and that I know he's like that to everyone, but it sucks and I don't want to be around it anymore. I didn't say I'd never join them for a holiday again, but proclaimed the next one would be at my house so at least some things will be on my terms and turf. I'm sure they understood but it was a moment of collective dissapointment. My parents have both had a lifetime of heartache concentrated in the last 4 years and I don't want to add to that, so maybe next year I can help us all avoid it. Hopefully...hopefully.

Then we drove to the airport where dad almost killed us twice on the way.

Merry Fucking Christmas!

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