Things Fall Apart


So, I’ve finally worked out the “Mystery of the Chipmunk” i.e. why hundreds of people are being directed to my blog every day when they do a search with the word “chipmunk”. I don’t know if this will work on your computer, but if I do a google image search for “chipmunk”, the second picture that comes up is on my blog – the day I wrote about having an infected wisdom tooth and looking like said rodent.

It’s quite heart-warming really. Even on my old blog when I wrote more about sex work and just sex, in general, I never got so many hits.

So, are you all having a very merry Christmas? My Christmas hasn’t gone, um, exactly to plan.

I was – as you will know if you have been following my posts – supposed to have taken off yesterday for the Midwest with “MM” but, shortly after my blog post two days ago, things fell disastrously apart. I am currently sitting at home and “MM” is with his family over a thousand miles away. It’s not as bad as it seems, though. I have spent more Christmasses alone than I care to remember, and it doesn’t bother me all that much. The worst thing about spending Christmas by yourself is telling people you’re going to spend Christmas by yourself. You get so many pitying glances, and then people feel obligated to invite you to their house because they feel sorry for you…when all you really want is to be left alone! Mercifully this year I was spared that because I didn’t know I would be spending Christmas by myself up until the very last moment.

Of course you will all want to know what happened. Well, the short answer is that I was just too stressed and too broke to be able to leave town for ten days. Of course, it wasn’t like my emotional and financial state was a surprise to me or anything. I mean, I knew I was fucking broke and almost at breaking point but I had decided just to take off anyway even though I hadn’t managed to save a single penny of my rent money. There were also several other bills I would have had to have left unpaid and then, of course, there was the matter of the road trip home. I had no money for that – for gas, and motels etc. – and I also had no money to spend in the Midwest either. Of course, “MM”, as my husband, could have given me some money but as he’s also broke, I would have never heard the end of it. Over the course of our relationship, he’s lent me $3000 (a lot of it is my share of our wedding expenses) and, whenever he’s strapped for cash, he bitches about how his life is so hard because he gave me that money.

I knew, knew, knew all of the above, and I knew even more that I would be horribly stressed out upon my return, scrambing somehow to get money together. It wouldn’t have been a good way to start of 2010 at all, but I thought that it would be worth it because the road trip would be so fun…

And then…something happened…which pushed me over the edge, and I freaked out, and realized I just couldn’t go. I had reached my breaking point, and if I left town I knew all I would do would be worry, worry, worry about money and have a horrible time.

The “something” that happened wasn’t that much of a big deal in itself. It involved my pit bull dog whom I was going to be taking with me for the first time ever (my chihuahua came with me last year, and this was the first time for me to take both my dogs). If I had known how much time, effort, money and hassle it was going to cost me to bring her with me on the plane, I would just have left her in kennels, as I usually do, but, well, hindsight doesn’t help you at the fucking time, does it?

Let me describe to you the saga of the pit bull…

(1) “MM’s” parents agree to allow me to bring my pit bull with me. They weren’t too keen at first, but “MM” persuaded them, and they also remembered how they weren’t keen at all on my bringing my chihuahua last year, but really enjoyed having her around in the end.

(2) Our flights to the Midwest were on Continental, and Continental has banned all pit bulls over six months of age and/or over twenty pounds. Like a small detail like that would deter me, though! I did some research and found out that Staffordshire Bull Terriers were NOT banned, so I decided to pass my dog off as a Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix. (Indeed, for all I or anyone else knows she fucking could be exactly that). A Continental employee confirmed, on the phone, that my dog would be allowed to fly.

(3) Take my dog to the vet for an exam, and to get a health certificate to allow her to fly. Cost – around $150.

(4) Buy a crate and accessories for the crate on Petco’s online website. Cost $150.

(5) Despite buying the crate on November 22nd so that my dog could get acclimatised to it in plenty time before the flight, the fucking thing doesn’t turn up. Fedex said they delivered it on December 1st, but it never arrived.

(6) Spend countless hours on the phone to Petco’s customer service in the Philippines (!!) who are fucking useless. They re-order the crate, and this one is “delivered”, too although it is nowhere to be found.

(7) Spend ages on the phone to Fedex, and finally establish that both crates (the original order and the re-order) had been delivered to the wrong address up the street. And this despite having verified my address with Petco on numerous occasions!

(8) Go to the neighbours’ house where my crate has been delivered, and find it sitting on the lawn. The neighbours appear, looking gormless, and say they sent the first delivery back because they didn’t know who it belonged to. Didn’t it fucking occur to them to ask around their neighbours to find out? I mean, jesus, my house is just diagonally across from theirs. Stupid fucking white Americans. I know nearly all of my African-American neighbours but these white cunts prefer to isolate themselves instead of getting to know those around them. Ugh! I tried talking to them once when they first moved in, and they thought I was a weirdo.

(9) Joyously carry the long-awaited crate home, only to find that it is far too fucking small (not to mention a flimsy piece of shit) for my 39 lb dog – despite being advertised as being good for dogs up to 55 lbs. So what do I do now? Spend around $40 on a taxi taking the damn thing back to store for an exchange? Or call a friend in the hope they won’t mind giving me a ride? Choose the latter option. Thank you, friend!

(10) Finally get the new, better and bigger crate home, and call Continental to book my dog as cargo on the 24th, but now, according to the customer service agent, Staffordshire Bull Terriers ARE banned! I explain, patiently, that they are not, and she must be thinking of “American Staffordshire Terriers” (an entirely different breed) but she refuses to book my dog. She even goes off to check with somebody else, and comes back still insisting they are banned. I ask why the fuck Continental couldn’t have told me this ages ago before I went through all of the above hassle and expense.

(11) Call Continental back the next day to make sure Staffordshire Bull Terriers are truly banned. This time I speak to a manager who tells me the last person told me a load of crap, and that I can indeed bring my dog as long as it says she’s a “Staffordshire Bull Terrier” on her health certificate (it does). Hurrah! Book my dog on the flight.

(12) Minutes after booking the flight, receive a phone call from “MM’s” parents who have just received my Christmas card telling them that I, their son, and my two dogs are looking forward to seeing them. “Two dogs?!”, they say. “We didn’t know you were bringing your pit bull!”. What the fuck do they mean they didn’t know I was bringing it?! I was sitting right beside “MM” several weeks ago when he persuaded them on the phone it would be OK if my dog came. “Oh”, they say, “we’d rather she didn’t come…because we’re scared she’ll hurt our little grand-daughter”. I fucking hate this prejudice against pit bulls but, if they had a problem with my dog, why the fuck couldn’t they just have told me, definitively, that she couldn’t come?!

(13) “MM” answers that question by telling me (as he often does these days) that I am so pushy and aggressive and that I “forced” his parents to let my dog come – all of this despite the fact that I never even once spoke to his parents about my dog coming! He was the one who mentioned it to them. He says I’m selfish and that I make people do things they don’t want to do, and that his parents are so lovely and accommodating that they just wanted to make me happy. Make me fucking happy?! Happy?! I would have been sad if they’d told me my pit bull couldn’t come but I would have accepted that (it’s their goddamn house, after all). How is it making me happy agreeing to something, and then backing out at the last minute after I’ve gone through so much trouble to get my dog on the plane?

(14) Realize now more clearly than ever where “MM” has learned his atrocious communication skills and passive agressive habits. It’s clearly the MO of his family to “make people happy” (because they’re so “lovely” and “accommodating”) when it would be far better not to do something if they’re going to be all resentful all about it, and guilt-trip me.

(15) His parents agree to let my pit bull come after I tell them that I’ve spent so much money and time on her travel arrangements.

(16) On December 23rd (one day before we are due to leave), I get a call from “MM” telling me that his parents have just mentioned to their son, “MM’s younger brother, that my two dogs are coming. He had just informed them that his little daughter, who has bad asthma, and will be spending a lot of time at her grandparents’s house, is horribly allergic to dogs. Whether my pit bulls comes or not, “MM’s” brother knew that I brought my chihuahua last year, and could have assumed I’d be bringing her again this year. Why it didn’t occur to him to mention her allergies to me? Why am I only finding out one day before I am due to leave.

(17) Realize where “MM” got his horribly annoying flaky and thoughtless personality from.

(18) Finally have some sort of mini-nervous breakdown due to stress and decide not to go.

(19) “MM” calls me a selfish bitch (as he often does these days), and says I’ve ruined Christmas for him and his family.

(20) “MM’s” mother tells “MM” that I’m a very selfish person, and “MM” tells me what she said.

(21) I call “MM’s” mother and tell her, in no uncertain terms, that I will not tolerate being called selfish especially when I’ve nearly worked myself into an early grave to be able to afford to come to visit her and her family for the third time in eighteen months (when I haven’t been able to afford to go home to Scotland for 4.5 years!).

(22) Crying! Drama! More crying! Drama! Crying! Crying! Crying! Everybody wants me to come, tells me the dogs can come too, but don’t they realize it’s not about the fucking dogs?! The dog situation was just the last straw. It pushed me over the edge after weeks and weeks of stress and worry. I don’t want to go because, quite simply, I just can’t afford it. “MM” tells me that family is the most important thing in the world to him, and that it breaks his heart, and his mother’s, that I’m not going, but I just don’t get why people who claim to care for me would want me to fall into an emotional and financial abyss just so I can come for Christmas.

Maybe I am selfish. I don’t have a family, so it’s hard for me to understand why people are so attached to theirs, and events like Christmas. However, if being part of a family means going somewhere, being miserable, and spending money I just don’t have to be there, I’d rather be by myself, thank you very much. Anyway, didn’t “MM” tell me it was wrong of me to “force” his parents into letting my pit bull come? If this is the case, then why isn’t it wrong for them to force me to come home when I just don’t want to?

Maybe it’s wrong, but I am so fucking relieved to be at home with my cats and dogs. I love them (they’re my family) and I just can’t describe how wonderful it feels to know that I won’t start off 2010 with a lot of financial stress and money.

Why is this so wrong of me? Is it? I tried my hardest to come, I really did. I worked on my birthday; when I was sick and on many other occasions when I didn’t want to, or was just plain exhausted. Why doesn’t anybody get angry at “MM”, too? I mean, part of this is his “fault”. If he would just finally wake up and smell the coffee and get a fucking proper job instead of working in a café, barely making ends meet (so he can write this graphic novel he never gets around to finishing!), maybe we would have had enough money for this trip. I’m tired of him always harping on about the money I owe him. I don’t want him to support me financially, but it would be good if he could help me out a little bit financially without holding it against me.

A couple of days ago, I got an email from a new Mexican friend of mine who also married an American, and she told me how envious she was of me because I didn’t yet have a work permit. She said that for her those days in the immigration process were a bit boring but that, ultimately, she enjoyed just hanging around all day, watching morning TV, doing yoga, going to cafés etc. Well, lucky bloody her! How nice that she had a husband who could support her!

I’m getting rather tired of “MM’s” constant blaming attitude towards me. I’m always the one at fault; I’m always the “selfish” one. When it suits him, he invokes the ideals of marriage to show how bad I am at compromising (and he may have a point), but I just don’t see why his actions can’t also be described as selfish. Even if he does finish his graphic novel, there’s no guaranntee he’ll make any money at it. He has all these “brilliant ideas” for making money as a visual artist, but I never see him put an effort into any of them. As soon as he’s had one idea, he gets a new one, and then forgets all about the first one.

Why the fuck can’t he just be a teacher? Why the fuck can’t he just get a real job and work on his art in the spare time? That doesn’t mean he couldn’t still be a successful artist, and then give up teaching. “Teaching would take up too much time”, he says. He’d have no time to work on his precious “art” (the art he doesn’t really work on anyway….all he does is obsess over pointless details, and re-draw things again and again, getting nowhere and finishing nothing). Maybe a real fucking job would force him to manage his time better and would teaching really take up too much time? I don’t see how being broke, and being constantly worried about money, frees up much time for creativity. It certainly doesn’t for me.

As for my teaching dreams, according to “MM”, it’s OK for me to be a teacher apparently because I’m more passionate about teaching than him. This is true, but there is also this tacit assumption that I’m the least creative one in this relationship. He doesn’t seem to realize that I don’t really want to be a full-time high school teacher. My ideal life would be to teach, yes, but I would much rather do it part-time, and have the rest of the time for myself, to write and do other creative projects. Maybe one day I’ll get myself into that position but, in the meantime, I will be a full-time teacher because I just don’t see any other way to pay the bills. Why do I have to be the sensible one?

I sometimes wonder if “MM” would be better off single or with a much younger woman who still finds “artistic poverty” romantic and exciting. It’s lucky that I have got no desire whatsoever to have kids for a long time because where would he be if I wanted them soon, even in the next couple of years?! There’s no way in hell we could ever afford kids on his wages. And, oh yeah, a child would be too “time-consuming” and he wouldn’t be able to devote himself to his “art”.

Well, fuck, it’s nearly 4:00 p.m., and I’m tired of ranting. I’m going to go walk my dogs, and then I’ll come home, tuck into my “Tofurky” and watch “Barbarella”.

Hope your Christmas has been merrier than mine!

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8 thoughts on “Things Fall Apart

  1. pandabox33 December 25, 2009 at 7:13 pm Reply

    I see the Grinch has visited you. 🙂 I’m sorry you had to live this. My Christmas was merrier but I did wish I was home without the family. Everything went fine for the most part.
    Maybe if you talked about the future and kids and what you want from life, he would see he has to find a job or start drawing faster and sell what he does. Kind of a reality check. It could be something positive.

    • petrichoric December 25, 2009 at 8:25 pm Reply

      Glad you had a good Christmas! As regards talking to “MM” about the future, oh, I do that all the time but it didn’t really do any good. He says I’m nagging him and that I’m trying to get him to give up on his dreams. I finally realized that I was nagging him because I was just so desperate for him to make some kind of change. I don’t talk about teaching to him all that much anymore because it doesn’t do any good. He has said he will consider applying to a particularly good alternative certification program I found in a city in the North East, and that gave me some hope, but I don’t know if he will. All I can do is wait, I suppose, and hope he grows up.

  2. Fantastic Forrest December 26, 2009 at 4:29 pm Reply

    How exhausting that whole experience was for you. It drives me crazy when people can’t communicate clearly.

    I’m confused, though. You’d written of a road trip a couple of days ago, yet you’d booked a flight. Please tell me you didn’t have to pay for a plane ticket!!

    I hope that you’ll focus on YOUR dreams and get the education and job that you would find most interesting. I think you’d find that teaching could allow you some fantastic opportunities to be creative and to write. Let’s face it, teaching gives you a TON of time off to pursue the other things you’d like. It’s stimulating and fun.

    Trying to direct MM to a more financially rewarding path sounds like a frustrating endeavor. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 25 years of marriage, you can’t control someone else. You can only decide what will make you happy and work toward that.

    I wish you happiness and fulfillment of your aspirations. XO

    • petrichoric December 26, 2009 at 6:03 pm Reply

      Yup, you’re 100% right that trying to get anybody to change their direction in life is a complete waste of time unless they want to do so themselves. I just tired of having to listen “MM” harp on about how teaching would take away all his free time when, at the moment, he has no free time anyway because he’s so busy struggling, trying to make ends meet.

      As regards the road trip, “MM” and I were going to fly to Ohio where we would have bought his stepdad’s mother’s car and driven it back to the South. I think he’s still going to buy the car and drive it back, so I’m definitely upset that I missed the road trip part. The only good thing to come out of this whole fiasco is that Continental actually refunded the price of my one-way ticket, which they don’t usually do, because they fucked up a part of our booking (long story), and, on the way there, “MM” got bumped up to first-class all the way!

  3. yogurty December 29, 2009 at 2:35 am Reply

    Instead of calling you names, ie, “selfish,” it sure would be healthier and less destructive if MM and his family would adopt a more honest and valid habit of simply saying they are disappointed that you can’t afford to come. “We’re so sorry. We’ll miss you.” Is much preferred and genuine and helps you feel reassured instead of hurt and self-doubting and defensive.

    MM broke a second pretty important “rule” of married life, or longterm relationship happiness, as it’s better put. If his mother bad mouths you, your relationship is better served if he keeps that to himself. He’s only adding more hurt feelings and strain. Not to mention, she may have been following his lead. She only heard his side of things, until you decided to call and represent yourself.

    And no, I don’t see it as selfish that you decide to put your finances ahead of a trip to visit his family. I think it’s smart and good self care. You’ve had a lot of financial strain, lately. You don’t need more. And yes, all that back and forth about the dogs — would be better to get a straight answer from the start.

    As for the pit bulls, I’m afraid I join in the fear. I know there are good natured pit bulls, but shit, there are stories in the paper every year about a pit bull snapping at small children unexpectedly. Ohio (as it happens) has some pretty strict pit bull laws for this reason. Have a very good friend there who had to euthanize her adored pit bull mix after two separate biting incidents. Completely out of the blue. The dog was ideal up to the point of the bites. So I do understand the reluctance of the parents of a toddler. The fear of the added risk. for some reason, pit bulls are prone to sudden aggression (as are other breeds, including chows).

    And I completely agree with FF. Much better to focus on your own goals and dreams, directing your energy toward reaching for a career you feel passionate about, rather than steering him, or wishing him, guilting him toward working more. Though I agree with you that part time work has it’s benefits, I’m pretty sure that pushing him will just create a bigger rift and a contrary backlash.

    • petrichoric December 29, 2009 at 1:00 pm Reply

      Hello, “Coffee Yogurt”! I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – I do love your comments! It’s like getting therapy without having to pay for it! Ha ha!

      Yes, it was pretty mean of “MM” to tell me his mother thinks I’m selfish but, on the other hand, I was glad he did in a way, as at least that meant I knew what she was thinking and could confront her about it. And, yes, you’re right – she came to the conclusion she did because she only heard “MM’s” side of the story. I know everybody has the tendency to present their side of the story, but it upset me that “MM” didn’t better reflect my side of things. I always try to do that as much as I can when I talk about our problems together. I’d be the first to admit that I can be very verbally abusive, and can nag him to death, for example.

      I’m also glad that you don’t find it selfish that I decided to stay home instead of going to the Midwest. “MM” tells me I’m selfish so often that I’ve almost just come to accept that everything I do is selfish.

      As regards the pit bulls….I have so much to say on this topic that I will write a whole post about it later today. Stay tuned!

      OK, OK – you and Fantastic Forrest have got me convinced. I’ll lay off the nagging!

  4. LazyBuddhist December 31, 2009 at 4:35 pm Reply

    Seriously, I really think families are totally over-rated. Like you, I don’t really have any family. I mean, there is a brother who has never invited me to any of his family events (and he’s a big family guy) lest his blessed children catch my Buddhist cooties. I happen to enjoy spending Xmas alone. It’s quiet. The streets are deserted. It’s nice. Why can’t other people understand that. I don’t try to force solitude on people who enjoy doing the whole family thing. Why do people who do the family thing feel it’s OK to force the family festive fucking thing on me?

    Anyway, sorry this whole fucked up situation happened to you. You made a heroic effort for the sake of family harmony. I applaud you for that.

    I need to catch up with the rest of your blog to see how it turned out for you.

    Happy New Year!

    • petrichoric December 31, 2009 at 7:14 pm Reply

      I’m so glad that somebody shares my point of view about families. Of course, if you have a great family, I understand why you would want to spend time with them on holidays but, as far as I can ascertain, it seems that most people don’t. Why, then, should we be forced to hang out just because we happen to share the shame bloodline, or have married into a family? It’s pretty messed-up your brother doesn’t invite you to events, though. If you were my sister and I had kids, I’d be delighted if they caught your “Buddhist cooties!”

      Happy New Year to you also!

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