The Obvious

in danish, “gift” means both “married” and “poison”

Posted in family, gifts, new year by theobvious on December 29, 2010

Gifts are a big deal in our family. We don’t do Christmas (nobody but A. is religious, but aside from that we’re as Jewish as they get, even our pets are neurotic and whiny and have a weird sense of humour), so we compensate on birthdays and New Year’s Eve. Naturally, with our splendid organizational skills (spot the sarcasm), we all end up in a mad hurry, scrambling to get presents for everyone at the last moment. The wrapping we do after the last moment, minutes before sticking the gifts under the ficus that represents a Christmas tree in my parents’ house. And if only we were a sensible family who just gave a gift each, that would still not be the end of the world. But no such luck. We believe in the “many smaller gifts” approach. Thence arrive conversations like this:

— What are we getting my brother?
— Let’s get him a parrot. (all gifts in this post are fictional)
— Okay, a parrot. And probably a parrot-owner’s manual.
— And obviously a cage and parrot food.
— Obviously. But WHAT ELSE? (cue anguish of body and mind over having NO GIFT TO SPEAK OF)

The gifting ceremony is held around the ficus with active involvement on the part of the Dog and the Cat. This year, there’s also Baby Cat who in all likelihood will contribute to the general merriment. Each gift is extracted in turn, the label read, and the gift delivered accordingly. The receiver is expected to unwrap it immediately and share the joy with everyone. Only after the present has been thoroughly inspected by all of the assembled may the next one be brought out. With regard to this ceremony, a careful balance must be preserved. What if someone gets five tiny gifts (e.g., socks, playing cards, a humorous calendar, and two balls of yarn) while someone else only gets one huge one (a cow, for instance)? The one may be disappointed with the scale, while the other will be forced to sit through the entire thing clutching their cow and following everyone’s gifts with envious looks. Yes, of course it’s the thought that matters, but nonetheless conferences are held of the following ilk:

— Did you get something for Grandma?
— Well, she needs a new lawnmower, we thought we’d all chip in.
— Yes, but then she’ll only have that. How about we add a hairnet and some sparkly tooth ornaments?
— But won’t that be too much? Remember, it’s her birthday in January, what shall we get then?
— Well, she can’t just have the one, can she. You give her the lawnmower, we’ll think of something.

There are family members more difficult to shop for than others. Our grandparents win that race hands down. What do you get an elderly man who is convinced he must pay for everything anyone over two generations down buys, or a woman who manages to work into every conversation an offer of something in her house?

— Look, Grandma, I got a new ring. Do you like it?
— Ring? That’s a nice ring. I have many rings too! They are beautiful rings, why don’t you take some?
— Thanks, but I already have the one.
— Yes, but they are silver! Gold, I’m not even offering, I know how you are, but these are delicate! I know you don’t wear large jewelry. Also, I have nice crystal vases, do you want them?
— Thanks, Grandma, you’ve sure got many beautiful things here.
— Much good it does me with grandchildren who take nothing!

Naturally, scheming, plotting, and conspiring are all part of the game. People enlist each other in helping to find, buy, hide, and wrap gifts. Deals are struck after some bartering. One is let on another’s brilliant find as a sponsor, after begging for hours that the other accept their money. The most popular phrase is “forget it, let it be a gift from both of us, and you don’t owe me anything”, because when it comes to finance management, we are about as brilliant as we are organized. (But we’re all very generous.) By the night of December 31st usually everyone knows everyone’s gifts but their own. Still, somehow, the element of surprise is preserved. After a very noisy and happy hour of exchanging gifts, everyone sighs contentedly and goes into their own corner to sit on a pile of wrapping paper and read the new books they (most likely) got. And that really is all anyone wanted in the first place.

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auntie obvious

Posted in event, family by theobvious on January 30, 2009

So I’m after spending a very secluded and difficult month, and now it is time to re-learn socializing and time management and working out and studying and volunteering and job-hunting. I still feel as though I’m behind, or as though this night that I spend playing and looking at pictures will come back to haunt me when the deadline hits.

Things like too much time in a cafe with two lovely girlfriends lead to meltdowns; things like a new toy that won’t function to perfection lead to inadequate anger and much banging of items (but not the toy, it is much too precious). Basically, I’m three years old all over again – and as if it’s never been any other way. Amazing, what a month can do.

However, I feel like writing is a skill I need to cultivate, and it’s getting pretty rusty. So despite all the damage even this detached sort of human contact may inflict on tomorrow’s schedule, my emotional stability, et cetera, let me just jot this down before I forget.

My father is returning tomorrow from a month spent in Israel where he had the privilege of being the first Lithuanian relative to meet my very new nephew. Our first conversation on the subject went as follows:
Me: So dad, did you get to see the baby?
Dad: Yes. HE IS SO TINY!
Me: Oh. So what did he do?
Dad: Ate, slept, pooped, made faces. WAS TINY.
Me: Uh huh, so I gather you liked him?
Dad: TINY. SO. SO. TINY.

(Also tiny: my scores for this term’s exams, my patience with the dentist, my music collection, and the letters on a 12″ screen – but that is a whole other story.)

The more I think about it, the more I realize that this is the main thing that happened to us this winter. That little handsome boy being born. My cousin becoming a mother for the first time. Our family spreading on to the fourth symultaneous generation. The rest is just weather and minor ethereal vibrations… or something. Don’t expect me to use smart words, I didn’t read a single book this whole month!

night-time

Posted in family, random by theobvious on December 29, 2008

Hi, I am not sleeping and here’s why: … no idea, but here’s what my whole family is doing at 3.08 am:

1. Mother is cooking.

2. Brother is requesting a go at the potato mashing thing.

3. Father is playing with his computer.

4. A. is on a train from Russia.

5. Dog is checking for dropped food.

6. Cat is suspicious.

Grandma is the only one trying to sleep.

I am procrastinating – evidently. New schedule: do things until after 2 am, then begin working, do day’s quota by 7 am, go to bed. O course, now it’s after 3 am, so I am behind even this ludicrous agenda.

cat & dog: a comparative study

Posted in cat, dog, family, pets by theobvious on July 11, 2008

1) Dog is very large. She was brought home as a small puppy, and we hoped she would not grow much. She surpassed all our expectations and is now quite horse-like.

Cat is tiny. She has very long, luxurious fur, which compensates for the fact that she is a puny midget. She used to be skinny, but now has a belly. Ratlike, if anything.

2) Dog is a pack animal. She needs everyone to be home, and if anyone leaves (happens often, what with a 6-strong household), she wails and howls pitifully, and then sits by the window, looking out gloomily, waiting for them to return. She only goes to bed when everyone has.

Cat is a lone wolf. That is to say, she walks around glaring at everyone and is very likely rabid.

3) Dog is very friendly. She greets people with wild jumps, yelling, and licking, and won’t calm down until kissed repeatedly. She likes sleeping with us.

Cat is hostile. She lurks behind corners and takes wild swipes at people as they pass. She has adopted Grandma and bites her hand whenever she talks on the phone. She wants as much attention as she deserves, and she is sure she deserves all of it. She will hardly ever be picked up.

4) Dog thinks we are her superiors. She obeys commands, albeit in the reluctant way of a silly large dog who has too little exercise. She asks for her water, her treats, and her walk. She guards our home by barking and growling at everyone unfamiliar. She knows that taking our belongings is wrong and only does it very rarely.

Cat is sure she owns us. She bosses Grandma around, doesn’t mind using everyone as ladders for a more comfortable reach onto a shelf, and takes everything she deems worth playing with. She will only snuggle when she’s in the mood, and as soon as she’s out of it, she leaves, leaving deep scratches in her wake.

5) Dog is very very silly.

Cat is very very smart.

6) Dog is a neurotic creature and she smells. However, she is very cute and loved by all.

So is Cat. Go figure.

counting my blessings

Posted in family by theobvious on April 20, 2008

Whew. Two Passover celebrations in one weekend might be a bit much. Especially the one with the grandparents. Which went a bit like this:

GRANDPARENTS ARRIVE. DOG IS OVERJOYED.
GRANDMA: Oh, oh, oh, keep it away from me!
GRANDPA: Come here, nice doggy, ha ha ha!
GRANDMA: He is doing this on purpose!
ALL: Grandma, will you just sit down?
EVERYONE SITS DOWN.
SOMEONE: Shall we do the blessings?
ALL: Are you kidding? Let’s cut to the chase!
SOMEONE: Maybe the candles at least?
ALL: Sure, the candles. Who’s supposed to do the candles? A girl? A., do the candles!
A. PUTS ON HIS KIPPAH, PREPARES FOR THE BLESSING.
GRANDMA: Dog, get away from me! Get away! It is spoiling my evening!
ALL: Shush, Grandma, the blessing!
A. STARTS SAYING THE BLESSING.
GRANDMA: My evening is ruined.
ALL: Amen. Let’s eat.
EVERYONE STARTS EATING.
GRANDPA: Come here, nice doggy.
GRANDMA: See, he’s doing it on purpose!
GRANDPA: Ugh.
ALL: *Groan*
GRANDMA: Wait, how did you make this cholent?
MOM DESCRIBES CHOLENT RECIPE.
GRANDMA: This is not the way X makes it!
MOM: Sorry.
GRANDPA: Is this a new camera?
ME: Yeah.
GRANDMA: (livens up) Can I see the pictures you took?
ME: Sure.
GRANDMA: (looking through the pictures) Uh huh… Uh huh… Oh look, I look all grumpy. Uh huh… Here I am again – grumpy again. Why do I look so grumpy?
ME: (shifty eyes) No idea.
GRANDMA: Can someone get the dog away from me?!

Loop for three hours, distill. There’s pure Jewish family tradition for you. Anyone who’s hungry, come and eat.

1+1 doesn’t have to be 3

Posted in a., family, important, love by theobvious on November 12, 2007

Look at my blogroll. Most of it is mom-blogs, journeys of adoption, fertility battles, different children, huge families. I guess it might be hard to believe that I am childless and planning to stay that way for a while. Not very surprisingly, then, I was asked about children again today. Here are some of the most common ways I’ve been asked that before:

  • ‘I want grandchildren!’
  • ‘So when should we expect to see you expecting?’
  • ‘How about little ones?’
  • ‘I heard you’re pregnant!’

No kidding about that last one. That was about the most popular thing to say to me when I just got married. Somehow, people assume that you don’t get married when you’re eighteen unless there’s a reason for that growing in your belly. You are commonly expected to fall in love, live together, sleep together, use flavoured condoms, get an exotic pet. But marriage? That’s for adult folks.

And then, when they are finally convinced that you got married because you actually love each other, they start trying to fit you into the next stage of their stereotypes: a family is only supposed to be complete when there is a kid. Therefore, naturally, we must be planning one in the nearest future. And people don’t hesitate to ask us about those plans whenever they feel like it.

I am a little tired of saying the same things over and over again: I am not ready. My husband might be, everyone else might be – but I’m not. I have issues that I need to sort out before I even start to think of bringing a whole new person into the world. I am not ready to commit. I am impulsive and irresponsible. I am afraid of pregnancy. I feel utterly unsuitable for parenthood.

It is still strange for me that I’m not alone anymore and never will be. That I always need to act with regard to the feelings of a particular human being. That I need to control my wishes and behaviour for someone else’s sake. There are so many things I can’t do anymore, and miss doing, that I don’t think I’m even physically capable of taking on any more restrictions right now.

This does sound harsh, but no, I don’t view my husband as a hindrance. Nor do I view children as inhibitions. I’m not child-free, I love children and want to have them one day. Right now, though, I’m just scared out of my mind. I am also angered by the hard time people are giving me without even intending to, just by being a little thick – and the even harder time I’m giving myself.

picture day again

Posted in a., family, love, photos by theobvious on November 8, 2007

This is A., my husband of two years. I love him still, though I’m sure it’s not going to be much longer if he doesn’t cut his hair JUST LIKE THIS PICTURE again! It’s too long! Too long and messy! And long! Ahem. No, just kidding. I love him and I love his hair. (Maybe take just a little bit off here and here?)

they’re all together ooky

Posted in family by theobvious on November 7, 2007

Some things we do in this family for fun:

– Read (I know, eugh)
– Watch random movies (last case was Ratatouille with A. and my mom)
– Poke fun at each other (A. never hesitates to call my parents stupid. Neither do I. Nor them)
– Go out and make each other order food and EAT IT UP DAMMIT!
– Talk about random things (hardy ever politics, I’m proud to report)
– Run around the house taking pictures of our pets
– Sing (that’s mostly A. and me)
– Play word games (with much cheating, especially on mom’s part)
– Shop (dad hates this kind of fun, A. likes it)

What kind of fun do you have in your family?