To My Cut Off Cousin

When I heard what you had said, part of me really wanted to lash out at you. Just a few short years ago, I would have. Fortunately for you I have decided not to actually speak that way to people anymore… I just walk away. You are now blocked from all means of communicating with me; you will know why whenever you notice.

When I was a child, we were close. You were the “cool older cousin” with a car and a license that could take my siblings and I to the lake, or out for ice cream. Then, you got married, and moved. Mom and Dad got divorced, and things took a turn. We have drifted further and further apart, and to be honest the last few times you came to visit, I didn’t care to see you.

I wasn’t particularly shocked to find out you were complaining that I had “abandoned” everyone that needed me when I moved last summer. It also didn’t surprise me that you tried taking some stuff I had left back home when you came to visit Mom last weekend either, without bothering to ask if I was okay with it (hello, in an apartment right now and don’t have space to store everything yet). You’ve been that way since I was a kid, wanting to take my watches and bracelets and blankets and so on… It still was a bit frustrating.

It is so annoying to me how you want to always talk about not judging people and how family is so important but you don’t live by your own rules. Take, for example, when Grandma got cancer. She lived closer to you and instead, we were the ones that drove for 12 hours to pick her up, bring her to a better doctor, and live with us. We were struggling to eat and keep the lights on, but we still make sure she was taken care of. We set up a bedroom for her, fed her, took her to the doctor, made sure she had her medicine, and when she was in the hospital we drove up to visit her at least once a day, every day. You, meanwhile, came for one week and only came for two very brief visits the entire time. The rest of it was spent bar hopping and shopping with your in-laws and friends. Of course, when it came time to pay for funeral expenses, you had no part in that either… Couldn’t cut into your mall budget, after all, but the people who were barely surviving could… But you had no qualms about taking the stuff we had gotten for her. Anyone who would listen to the way you talk now though would be convinced no one cared more than you.

It’s just like with our uncle. Grandma had taken care of him her whole life and when she was gone, you were so adamant that someone HAD to step up to the plate to take care of him because family is so important. I notice you certainly weren’t opening your door though… No, it was up to us, to take in someone who COULD take care of himself but refused to. It was suddenly our job to cook and clean up after him, clean his room because he refused to acknowledge how filthy he was, force him to bathe and change his clothes because he would otherwise not do so for months, give him pills every day and check under his tongue as if he were a child, and so on. Then we were jerks when we finally had had enough of him being that way and not following any rules. We were the jerks after dealing with it for years, but you weren’t for not even considering doing what you expected us to do. Family matters, right?

I’m not going to try to say that I am a perfect person because I know I’m not. I am, however, sick of people like you wanting to pass judgment on me for doing what is best for me, finally, after nearly 30 years of being stepped on. You sit there in front of us and laugh about how you had spent six months having an affair on a man you are still married to and living with, taking his child around your lover behind his back, but god forbid someone moves away to a better life. You sit and say you’re just “blunt and honest” but the reality is that you’re just a b****. Take, for example, the summer I filed for divorce and hadn’t seen you for a few years, and you spent your visit talking about how bad my hair was, how I needed to do this and needed to do that because you said so. Was that really necessary? What I needed to do was have some time to recollect, not be insulted and ordered around. You’ll notice I never made comments to you about your appearance… We certainly weren’t permitted to say how wrong your affair was either. Of course not, you can do no wrong, only everyone else can.

You’ve been on my social media and had my number and the only time you ever said anything to me was to tell me I was doing something wrong or to act like a know-it-all. Good for you, you have a degree. You still can’t even use proper grammar or spelling, and you seriously lack a lot of things that money can’t buy and schools can’t teach.

The longer I have been hundreds of miles from home, the more I see that I was right to leave. I was MISERABLE there. Life didn’t seem worth living. Now, I live in a beautiful city, away from the alcoholics and meth and heroin and small town drama from a place where everyone knows the stuff my family did and holds it against me. I have a handsome, hardworking man who makes sure we have a comfortable life. We are on track to have a big, beautiful home within the next few months. I started taking care of myself, my mental and physical health, and making good financial decisions for a stable future. Things are good for me.

Is that what your problem is? I’m doing better than you and you can’t stand it? You’re resentful of being stuck in a loveless marriage, being roommates with a husband who lost his aviation license due to his alcohol problem? Are you mad that I found a style that works very well for me and am in phenomenal physical health and shape, and you are not? Jealousy?

You sound more and more like your mother everyday… The alcoholic who cheated of her husband, got pregnant with you by someone else, stuck him with the child support bill, and ended up losing you. The bitter woman who never provided for herself and tried everything in her power to make life miserable for my mother because she had a husband and her kids.

You all expect us to give and give, and when we finally say no you stab us in the back. When your mom moved back home, Mom and stepdad took them food, wood for the stove, plowed their driveway, ran them to the store because no one had a license courtesy of drunk driving charges, and the day Mom said no because she was sick, she immediately went and tried to hook up with Dad to be spiteful. It’s been this way for years and all of us are finally done. You can call us snobs or cold hearted all you want… The reality is just that we finally learned to stand up for ourselves and set boundaries so we can have a better life, free of your spiteful drama and hypocrisy.

Dear Z,

I mean, yeah, it’s all well and good that you APPARENTLY “adore” me. According to one of the male support workers, but then you try to control me. I can only take you with a pinch of salt, because I don’t TRULY know how you feel about me. It’s nice that you “adore” me, but I did hear that from someone else’s mouth. It’s not like you said it to my face, so I’m never quite sure whether to believe that. What’s irks me, is that you saw me staying up with Rachel and Ben, and you then said to me “What are you still doing awake this time of night?”. Seriously? You’re not my parent. What gives you any right to question what time I go to bed, what time I get up? Etc. I’ve never had a friend say that to me. Ever. That was quite controlling of you. Nothing gives you the right to question my life choices. I never question you on what time you go to bed or anything, so it shouldn’t honestly matter yo you anyway. Why would it? This is what I can’t understand. It’s not normal for any friend to ask me those kind software questions. What’s it to you anyway? It’s got nothing to do with you. You never even apologized for it, and then you stopped talking to me altogether. You’re very confusing and very complicated. Have a nice life. Hell, you didn’t even bother inviting me to your birthday party in 2021. The one you told me I was invited to, but looking back on that, you didn’t give me much detail about it, so you can’t have even been that serious about inviting me. I don’t even know when your birthday is. And you don’t know when MY birthday is. So we can’t be proper friends. What gives? And wtf? Goodbye. 😕

Boys and booze

In truth, I miss you more than life itself

But drinking won’t change it, and

Sleeping with this dude won’t change the facts.

I miss you more than any one else who has left my life

But I have learned there is no point in missing someone

Who doesn’t miss you back.

So what am I doing when I am left in shambles?

How do I fix the broken pieces?

How do I stop missing you?

War is hell

Baba Liza went back to Russia in October, after spending her birthday with family there she had plans to return to my husband’s family this summer, but now it seems almost certain that will not happen.
My husband still has many family members in Russia, and friends from his youth that he keeps in touch with on VK. He tells me many of them are afraid what is going to happen to them now, he tells me that the majority don’t support what is happening with this invasion of the Ukraine by what he estimates to be about 60% , but those who protest are arrested by the thousands.
Others that do support what’s happening he says do so because the media outlets have depicted Ukranians as abusive to Russians on their soil, but my husband himself says he hasn’t seen any evidence of that himself beyond controlled media. Another girl we know who came to the U.S. from Russia in her teens posts videos on how its somehow the wests fault that this is happening after a 2014 coup, but I personally can not find the link. We fear for his family as the sanctions that are implemented by not only the U.S but other countries form a sort of noose that will choke the citizens before the oligarchs feel the weight of their actions.
I follow thousands of artists on Instagram, a few of them who are in the epicenter of the invasion share the devastation that is occurring all around them. Bombs dropping, buildings burning, charred husks of human remains , people being ran over by tanks, children murdered. The few gunshots I heard outside our home pale in comparison to this.
The countries that surround them have begun posturing for the inevitability of a larger war with applications to Nato and increased defense spending, vowing to provide the Ukraine with more munitions for defense. My auntie in aromatic who works in psychiatry has taken a personal position with refugees seeking sanctuary . My former coworker who hails from Moldova was at the local protests and is raising money for refugees. Russian artists I follow publicly denounce what is happening before their access to Facebook communications are cut from within. I read that hacks are tracking the oligarchs and displaying their movements on Twitter.
Belarus and Chechnya are set to aid Russia on the ground as China sends its own signals by flying warplanes over Taiwan. I read that China actually halted the evacuations of its own people in the Ukraine to wait until its safe and I suspect that has something to do with a demonstration of allyship before they proceed with a larger collaboration.
My husband got his citizenship before we got married and things as they are now prove that to have been a prudent decision.

My time at the skunk-holler

My neighbors down at the dead end of the street invited me to one and it was yesterday and man, that was just wild. We drove about three hours into the middle of nowhere to this old farmhouse by a lake with big open fields as well as some wooded areas. There were maybe 25 or 30 people there that had driven in from all over the place. Apparently they do this twice a year, once in winter and once in summer.

Upon arrival and after exchanging hellos we all sat down around this big wooden picnic table for a lunch of beans on toast. The only thing to drink was grain alcohol mixed with pure rainwater. There was a fiddle band playing on a Bluetooth speaker and when they weren’t eating people were dancing around slapping their knees and hooting. They would also lean their heads back and let out wolf howls too. Eventually someone brought out a box with a bunch of colored bandanas, red yellow and green. You took a bandana and tied it around your arm, that was how we got separated into three roughly equal-sized teams.

Then the actual skunk-holler portion began. We learned that six skunks had been released on the property and it was up to us to catch them using nothing but our hands and our “skunk-hollerin’ technique” which is similar to the wolf howl but lower in pitch. The skunks had been trained to respond to this sound by spraying their skunk juice all over the place so it stunk to high heaven. When you eventually caught a skunk you made sure that it sprayed you directly in the face before you brought it back to the picnic area and dropped it into the holding pen. Whichever team brought in the most skunks won, and the prize was that you got to spend an hour in the pen with the agitated spraying skunks.

Even though I was a newbie I was actually pretty good at skunk-hollerin’ and I caught two of them on my own, and another member of our team caught two more. We won easily and each got to spend time in the pen with the agitated skunks. I got bitten several times and the skunk also sprayed into my open wounds. I made sure to hold my eyes and mouth wide open as much as I could in order to get the full experience. Man what a day!

You’re not them

You’re not them. You’ll never be them. The men I think I loved, the ones who had no interest in me, clearly. I wish you were. I wish my heart jumped at the sight of you, I wish you made me think thoughts of our future. I wish i felt something when you were with me. But I felt nothing, I felt numb, like they took all that from me. I couldn’t give myself to you, like I foolishly gave myself to them. Even though you were willing. Maybe that was the problem.

I understand babe

I understand why you’re so standoffish. It makes sense after all. No one could fault you, really. Don’t ever worry you’re making the wrong decision. Priorities, after all.

I know you love your Doggo. And we both know he’d love me more. Why? Because sitting next to him for hours on the couch, watching some animal planet or whatever just hippos and giraffes and kangaroos doing their thing for hours on end with constant nice pets on Doggo’s head, and belly too if he wants, there’s probably nothing I’d enjoy more other than sex with you.

And foodwise, I’m not feeding your Doggo the crap you probably buy. Think about how much you love Doggo, how he gets so excited EVERY SINGLE TIME you come home, no matter how long you’ve been gone. Now look at the kibbles you give him for his daily sustenance. I’m not saying you buy shitty dog food, I’m saying dog food is shitty. Just look at it. “Why don’t you eat it?” That’s what Doggo is thinking. If I’m making food for myself or us, I’m making food for Doggo as well. Hmmmm, tonight I’m feeling like chicken marsala with risotto. Guess what Doggo is getting: a nice unseasoned bowl of white rice with some small cuts of chicken breast, and I top it with a little peanut butter, cause you know, I love Doggo too. When I have some chips and salsa during the football games, Doggo, of course wearing our (as in me and Doggo’s) favorite team jersey, gets some nice carrot sticks that also clean his teeth!

All in all Doggo will love me more, it is a certainty. So I understand why you are so apprehensive towards me.