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Florida - Karen's Musings
Random Rambling
So our trip to Florida. Right. I guess I should write about it before it all goes out of my head. This is probably going to end up fairly stream-of-consciousness, but that's okay. Edit: As it turns out, I wrote this over the course of several days (3 or 4), so it might be disjointed. I'm not sure. I haven't gone back to re-read it yet because if I don't post it soon it will cease being relevant!

Julian's first flight
I was really, really, really worried about Julian's first plane trip. Even a two-hour flight is boring at best. The only flights I remember from early childhood were LONG transatlantic flights on military transports which SUCKED. So I didn't have a lot of perspective. Until I really thought about how cool it was that it was Julian's first flight. I mean seriously...
  • First we rode in the car, a favorite activity for any two year old, especially Julian.
  • Then we parked in the garage where there were zillions of other cars to look at and we rode a bus! Hooray for buses. (What Julian didn't realize is that Eema and Abba were at that point carrying five bags and a carseat and pushing a stroller. So we weren't having as much fun as he was. Ugh)
  • Then we checked in at the aiport and Julian got to see golf-cart-looking-things, and baggage cars and conveyer belts and moveable walkways. NEATO! We went through security and got to our gate with time to spare where we got to look out the windows at the construction going on and saw diggers, dumpers, and bulldozers. HOW COOL!
Honestly, by the time we got on the plane Julian was probably done with all of it. He was tired and who can blame him? So the flight down was squirmy and whiny and exhausting. The truth is, he was not misbehaving. But we were both tired and thus, it was not a pleasant trip. Particularly when I realized Julian needed a diaper change despite having had one in the airport before we took off. Sooooooo, Julian and I had the fun experience of doing a diaper change in the airplane bathroom. I swear those bathrooms have gotten smaller in the last ten years. Anyway, I basically had to change him on my lap and he SCREAMED AND SCREAMED AND SCREAMED AND SCREAMED. I am certain that people thought I was torturing him.

We arrived in Florida hot, exhausted, and done with the idea of relaxing for the weekend. Only, of course, to discover that Florida was even hotter. Bleh. Got the carseat installed in my dad's car without incident and we were off! Once we got to my dad's house, I ran out to pick up a couple things at Target, but didn't stay out for long.

Shabbos at my dad's
Well, I can't say it was the most spiritually satisfying shabbos I've ever had. But I was able to get our food together and we had an early dinner with my Dad and he didn't raise any eyebrows about the paper plates and plastic cutlery. He had picked up some lovely fruits and vegetables for us, which was great. Seth and I had a nice salad that I made there and some food that I had picked up at Shalom's before leaving (London Broil for Seth, chicken for me, and some side dishes like portabello mushrooms and szechuan green beans). My dad and Evie are not (as you've likely gathered) Jewish, so Shabbos wasn't exactly what we think of as Shabbos, what with the TV, phone and computer usage going on, but at least we had our nice meal Friday night and Seth got to daven. I can't say it's something I really want to do often, or well, ever again, but since the main event was the Family Reunion on Saturday... staying at my dad's house was really our only option.

The family arrives
Family started arriving at my father's house mid-afternoon, after the flurry of activity that my father and Evie had to get ready. Seth and I, of course, could really do nothing to help get ready since it was still shabbos. Unfortunately for me, my brother was one of the first to arrive. Many of you don't know the history with my brother, but there's not a lot to say about it, actually. He stopped talking to me in 1995 (though he hadn't been civil to me for at least 5 years before that). Why? Who the hell knows. He won't tell me, because telling me would require talking to me. He is an infantile brat and has been nothing but vile toward me in the last 15 years or so. The last time he was "nice" to me was when I was in 8th grade and he did me the favor of not breaking my arm when he was pissed off at me. He is self-absorbed, selfish, childish, and immature. When my grandfather died, he didn't say a single word to me. Not even when I was clearing plates from the table and asked for his. Personally, I don't think he has a reason for hating me. But hate me he does. Or whatever image he has of me in his twisted, sick, psychotic, depraved little mind. And I do mean little.

Anyway. Right. So my brother arrived. And he talked to Seth. And he talked to Julian. And he did not talk to me. Asshole. Until he told Julian to stop doing something and I asked him what Julian was doing wrong (I couldn't see what Julian was doing) and he was an absolute ass to me. Not that this is unusual or anything. But if the bastard is going to correct my child he can be damn skippy sure he'll get a question from me.

Ahem. So enough of the foul language (for now).

Anyway, the highlight of the day was getting to see my third cousin, Brad. Brad went to the New England Conservatory of Music, which is where I really, really, really wanted to go. I was waitlisted twice. Bleh. Oh well. Wasn't meant to be, right? But I did get to see Brad when I auditioned up there and he was a pretty cool guy. I'd lost track of him though, and was really looking forward to seeing him. He, apparently, married a nice-Jewish-girl from Potomac (MD) 8 years ago, which is kind of funny. She keeps kosher-style (actually, apparently Brad does too, which I thought was interesting since he didn't convert to marry her), and well, my stepmother is Hawaiian, so most of the food was pork. And even the salad was meat & dairy together. Not a lot of luck for her. But Karen to the rescue. I made them salads and gave them some cheese and crackers and such. Seth and I spent much of the afternoon talking to the two of them and I hope that Brad and I are able to keep in touch. I wandered around my dad's house talking to a few people here and there and making sure Seth got fed (I failed to eat lunch, though I'm not sure why, since I made Seth's). Seth, bless his heart, was kind enough to wrangle Julian most of the day (except when Julian was napping). I had a bit of a hard time because no matter where I went I seemed to be wandering into a room that my brother had gone into. I was trying to keep my distance partly out of respect for his wishes and partly out of respect for the fact that I didn't want to be a blubbering mess. It didn't work though, because after the incident with him telling Julian what to do... well, I ended up running upstairs a blubbering mess and stayed there until everyone was gone. Sigh.

Anyway, despite the schmuck, I had a relatively good day.

After everyone left and shabbos ended I kind of blew up at my father. Not really at him. Really at the wall with him in the way. And not blew up like angry. Blew up like couldn't keep the blubbering mess inside anymore. I hate my brother. I hate how he makes me feel like I'm less than dirt. I hate that everyone thinks he's the greatest thing sinced sliced bread. I hate the eternal scowl he always seems to be wearing. I hate that I can't keep my emotions in check around him. But it turned out to be a good thing that I had this "little" outburst, because I came to some realizations.

I mean, why does it matter what he thinks of me? He's a brat, a jerk, and he isn't entitled to an opinion of me. But I think I've been afraid of a few pretty illogical things. It seems that under it all, what I'm really terrified of is that my father will die after Evie and my brother will know but not tell me. I mean, he'd have to tell me eventually because I'm named in the "estate" but what if he didn't tell me right away? What if my dad was sick or incapacitated or whatever and I wasn't there because David the shmuck couldn't be bothered to tell me? As far as my brother is concerned I literally don't exist (he tells people he's an only child), so it would be "logical" to him that he doesn't need to tell me.

Anyway, my brother sucks. That's for sure. And I'm not sure why this is all coming out now. But clearly I've been stewing about it for a while.

Sunday morning there was a brunch for the family at the Sheraton in Orlando. There had been a bit of drama between my father and me a couple months ago trying to work out the food situation for us, but it worked out beautifully. The hotel gave Seth and me a huge basket of whole, uncut fruit each (each of the two baskets had enough food for several people: a couple apples, several oranges, several bananas, and 6 or 8 strawberries each. They were extremely accomodating, and even went and found individually packaged cereal for Seth that was kosher. I was really overwhelmed by how knowledgeable the staff was about our needs, and how careful they were to find options for us. Hooray.

After brunch, we went back to my dad's to pack, Julian took a brief nap. When he woke up, we put in The Tigger Movie for him and he loved it. He giggled and giggled and giggled. He's never before been very discriminating about what he watches, though he's a bigger fan of animated television than live-action. But it's clear that he's starting to respond and/or relate to the images on the screen, which is kind of nifty.

Meanwhile my father and I walked around his house. He's had this thing about wanting me to go through things and tell him what things I want to make sure I get in the event of his "demise." This is largely because my brother and I don't get along and he feels it's best to put things in writing and lay out as much of it as clearly as possible. In a lot of ways, I really appreciate this. The fact of the matter is that I have decided to never again be in the same room with my brother until the inevitable day when we have to set ourselves to the unpleasant task of settling my father's estate. And even then, you know, I may just hire a lawyer and not deal with my brother at all. So I do appreciate that he's trying to get it all down on paper. But it's weird, you know? He's only 56. I'm not counting on him going anywhere for a long time. A really long time. And I feel ridiculous and *greedy* walking through his house telling him which *things* I want. I'd much rather have him than a rocking chair or crystal or books. I don't care how much his coin, stamp, or license plate collections are worth. I DON'T WANT TO FIND OUT. (and yes, you read that correctly... my father collects license plates...though there's some particular pattern...certain years from one Florida county with certain number ranges or something... I'll never figure it out) I would much rather have my father than my father's things. I am almost 30 years old and I still have three of my four grandparents. I have no reason to believe that my father is going anywhere anytime soon. So it's weird, and sad, and scary.

Coming Home
Well, despite our flight down being exhausting enough that we vowed (threatened?) never to travel with a toddler again, we decided we'd miss him, so we brought him home. We got to the airport with plenty of time. Checked more of our bags than on the way down, which is always excellent (basically, we didn't need the cooler on the plane anymore). It lightened our load significantly. We had some time to kill so we went down to the gate and let Julian run around a bit. I discovered, while waiting at the gate, that my brother was on our flight back. Joy. Not that he said anything to me, or even looked at me (or when he did he'd look away immediately as if he hadn't seen me only if he hadn't seen me he probably wouldn't have flinched away, right?). But I was keenly aware of his presence once we were on the plane and Julian was squirming and whining and crying. My brother was further back than we were, so he probably never noticed, but I was all self-conscious. Which, yes, is ridiculous. Feel free to point it out, but I already know that. Anyway, so we're cruising along heading home. Julian was even more squirmy and whiny than on the way down and was sort of wimpering. He was obviously tired, so we got him a pillow and blankets and tried to get him to curl up to sleep but he kept getting more upset and more wimpering and generally snippy.

And the Yuck
And then he threw up. And I have the most horrible reflex in the world when it comes to my child vomitting. I don't know where it comes from, but my reflex is to try to catch it, to contain it, I guess. But it's gross. In this case, disgusting as it might have been it probably saved it from landing all over my blouse, which is good since I didn't have a spare blouse on the plane with me. It didn't keep it from landing all over Julian and his blankets. And here is where I start singing the praises of the Southwest Airlines Flight Crew on our flight. I've already written a letter to Southwest telling them just how great these two women were. Instant response, garbage bag to throw away the blankets and julian's shirt and the wipes I used to clean him up. Antibacterial wipes for my hands. A pile of paper towels. Advice to turn on the air over him so he didn't become overheated, which apparently would make it worse. Immediately re-supplying him with fresh blankets to curl up in. Checking in several times to make sure he was okay. They were great. Just great. Reassured me that "it happens all the time" and that it's "no big deal" as I apologized as profusely as I could. Mostly, I felt awful for my poor sick little man, but the rest of me was mortified and embarrassed, but they really put us at ease. They were amazing. Hooray for SWA!

Home Sweet Home
Our cleaning lady had come on Friday while we were away, so we came home to a fresh clean house, which was great. Julian was all of a sudden just fine and ravenous. And all was right in the world again. And now I can't believe a week has gone by since we first stepped on a plane for Julian's first plane ride.

I should note that I got pictures of Julian sitting in his seat on the plane for his first plane ride, and I got wings from SWA to paste in his scrapbook. You know, the scrapbook I'm supposed to be keeping up to date? The one I'd have been working on if I were a good Eema? Sigh. I'll get there. I really will. Honest.

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8 comments or Leave a comment
magid From: magid Date: August 26th, 2005 04:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hadn't realized the depths of ickiness your brother is; says he's an only child?!?! I'm so glad you've figured out the problems that reciprocating ignoring him were giving you. Not worth the tiniest iota of your time.

And it sounds like the rest of the trip was pretty decent, within the bounds of not as Shabbosdik as you'd like. (Er, minus the vomiting, of course. I'm glad Julian recovered quickly!)
either_or From: either_or Date: August 26th, 2005 04:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
my sister's dad is obsessed with his death, as are all of his kids. they're awful (and not just b/c of that). then again, he's like 73.

i like to think i've got another 25-30, or even 40+ years left with my parents, provided they don't get into any accidents. they are in really great health, and so on top of things. it freaks me out to think that my grandparents are getting "old" though (70 and 75 now).

but that's all random stuff.

my main point in commenting was to say that i totally understand what it's like to have a horrible sibling. iris is bad. really bad. but your brother sounds worse. maybe iris will get to be that bad....
ginamariewade From: ginamariewade Date: August 26th, 2005 04:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're not 30 yet? I didn't realize you were so young!
I'm glad your trip went mostly OK. Even the vomiting part. But think about it - tons of people get airsick, and while most may contain it in those little bags, there are probably lots that don't. And baby puke isn't as gross as adult puke, in my humble opinion. They probably think so as well.

The Brother Issue: His opinion means so little to your life. At least he isn't physically abusive towards you. That's all I can say. But I do understand. My brother and I are also estranged. Really, all we have in common is that we grew up in the same house. But my brother will steal from me and is physically threatening, so keeping him out of my life is a matter of self-preservation.
From: have_inner_lady Date: August 26th, 2005 06:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
That used to be one of my cynical "to-myself" jokes: When the vomit flies, normal people back away, but I reached toward. I feel for you that it happened in such a confined and nonprivate space.

And for your brother. Oh my, but you are striking a chord today. Maybe I'll write that post sooner than later...

I really hope you shake off the uneasiness of pointing at things in your father's house. I can appreciate your love for him and wishes for many years, but my mind is so fresh with the ugliness that happens when someone dies. My grandmother's jewelry was stolen after it became clear she wasn't going to return from the hospitals and nursing homes -- probably by the housekeeper she trusted so well, who "came in to water the plants." The only worthwhile piece left was the one she gave my mom in person a year ago, saying, "Take this, because now I'll know it is where I want it to be."

Jewelry or other valuables are patently unimportant... except when they are. Now that she's gone, a lot of people are feeling like something tremendously precious has been pilfered from them.

I hope your father lives for many more years, too. But when it is his time, I hope you will be able to have something meaningful from him -- something to remind yourself, in dark moments, that life can not make you an orphan.
cellio From: cellio Date: August 26th, 2005 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your brother is scum. I'm sorry you have to put up with such abuse, and I think you're right that the opinion of such a lowlife doesn't matter and you can just ignore him.

Could your father put a notice with his "in case of death/illness please read" papers explicitly directing people to contact you? (By those papers, I mean things like his living will -- papers that his doctor and, potentially, lawyer already have on file.) That is, is there a way for him to leave a timely notice with someone who isn't your brother? Mind, I also hope it's a few decades before it matters.
real_bethy From: real_bethy Date: August 26th, 2005 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh dear. Well, I can certainly relate to some of your family difficulties. (see every post I've ever written about my mom, for example! *LOL*) I'm sorry that there were so many trying moments for you. At least you got to see Brad and spend time with him, and do the mitzvah of providing some kosher food.

And, of course, you will have a multitude of stories to tell Julien's girlfriends about his first flight.
kressel From: kressel Date: August 26th, 2005 07:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

I'm very sorry to hear you have such a jerk for a brother. I think it's great that you and your father get along so well, though. If the two of you are able to talk about what happens to his things after 120, then aren't you able to talk about the rift between you and your brother? I don't mean that it necessarily can be bridged, but at least, can't you confide in your father your worst fear and then you make some sort of plan about that? (Having worked for an elder law attorney, I can tell you that medical planning is at least as big an issue as estate planning.)

Also, a scrapbook of pictures is not the mark of a good Eema. Handling your kid's exhaustion and sickness is MUCH more important.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 26th, 2005 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
It was while talking to my father, or rather crying at my father, that I suddenly blurted out that David probably wouldn't tell me if my father died if I didn't already know. I can talk to my father about that aspect of my rift with my brother only. My father does not pick sides in this rift, doesn't have any interest in trying to mend the fences, and will not get involved. On some level, I have tremendous respect for him for this. And on another level, sometimes I feel that he is insensitive about it. On the other hand, if he tried to get involved, my brother would cut him out of his life too. It's just the way my brother works. It can't be easy for a father to see that his own two children can't rise above pettiness and immaturity and get along, or at least be civil to one another. Though, I will point out, I am for sure always civil to my brother's face. It's behind closed doors that I call him any manner of names that he deserves to be called but that I shouldn't repeat in front of impressionable young children.

One of the reasons this is all coming up is because he and his wife are working out their wills and advanced directives (living wills). Nevermind that my own father doesn't get along with his brother, to the point that he has no intention of ever seeing my uncle again, even when settling their mother's estate (he plans to just let the lawyers work it out). My father's quite meticulous about his planning. I expect everything of value (both monetary and sentimental) will be specifically allocated to someone. And his medical care/advanced directive I expect will be equally meticulous. I'll know when I receive my copy of it all, as he intends for us both to have a copy as soon as they are drawn up.

And thanks for the vote of confidence on the scrapbook. I have all the pictures...they're just not compiled into cute little scrapbook pages.
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