The cousin – revisited

I wanted to revisit this episode for a while. I wrote a post when starting this blog back in 2015 remembering an episode where a first cousin named Natalie came home to visit with my mother. Because yours truly can be the “brooding” type I stayed in another part of the house while my mother and her niece were entertaining.

I was on the computer at that point surfing the internet just doing what’s normal for me. My mother felt the need to pull me upstairs complaining that I needed to speak instead of being downstairs uninterested and oblivious. The excuse my mother used was that I had footage of the previous year’s reunion and the laptop I was using was the only computer in the house where my mother and Natalie could watch the footage.

Well here’s where things just didn’t go well. Nat got very excited to see me and while I was very short when she just got so aggressive with her attempts to reach out. I was not feeling this at all, and Natalie was either very oblivious or just wanted to break through. Meanwhile most of my answers to her was uh-huh, OK, nuh-uh, alright. I didn’t want to waste too much of my breath when I was more into cutting this off quickly.

My mother I recall just seemed very uncomfortable as her head was down I noticed at one point. Things took a turn when Natalie decided to state for the record – “I heard you got a little girlfriend“. Well now there was a trainwreck right there and part of the story I talked about this girl I called Nicole and it just didn’t work. Perhaps your hero just ran her away in spite of himself either way Nat decided to get in on this and I really wanted to cut this off. Once it became clear I wasn’t feeling it she finally sensed that this isn’t going where she wanted it to go.

She piped it down and sat back on the sofa, I hurried up and got out of the living room.

You know there were some questions I never answered. Well yeah in the heat of that moment at that time I definitely wasn’t feeling having to discuss what happened with that little girlfriend. She probably didn’t know that this was a very touchy subject and if you will it was a failure that I was still smarting from. Someone told her and she just go so excited and just didn’t know that this was really a negative subject for me. I also hardly updated anyone didn’t see a need to with family I just dropped it, this was one of those things I talked too much about.

If it was so built up in Nat’s mind it definitely was in mine until it fell apart. Not really her fault it was just how I handled it back then. I just didn’t want to talk about it and she was the last one that yours truly wanted to say anything about it to.

Another thing I mentioned back then was just that we’ve had some odd interactions where she guts upset and often I don’t come out well for it. I suppose she has some expectations that once I walk over them she just has a problem. For example, I didn’t know that she didn’t like shrugging – well I need to tell that story one day. In some cases if she had a problem with something she didn’t always handle them very maturely. But then in some of those incidents she was young and I’m betting some of this is her background especially with a mentally ill mother.

I’m willing to bet her own “maturity” causes her to not to be very upset with me. She’ll quickly forget what happened and try to be friendly again. It could be that she just wants to drop what upset her and certainly she’ll drop it once she felt as if she addressed it. Meanwhile I can hold onto stuff for a long time, while she moves forward I’ll turn around and say leave me alone.

Which for most of the last decade after graduating with my undergrad degree she largely has. I’ve been to a handful of reunions in the past decade and I’ve not seen her. I understand it’s usually vacations and when the family plans reunions it seems many of them are last minute. Once Natalie and Nate makes their plains there’s a scheduling conflict.

I did note that she sent me a friend request on facebook and when I didn’t accept or reject right away I eventually saw that it went away. Sometimes I might accidently hit a button whether to accept or reject and don’t recall that either way with Natalie, perhaps she just got tired of the waiting game or changed her mind. If she doesn’t take my actions very seriously, I’m sure she thought about some of my actions towards her over the years.

Oh and let me mention this, Natalie on the surface is very nice. On the other hand Nat has that angry side and its a side Ive encountered on occasion. And on this day at home, she exposed it especially after trying to figure something out about this little girlfriend. I can cause her to drop that happy smiley “mask” sometimes.

Finally another thing to add is that she was on the little girlfriend trip long before this. When my brother got married she started talking about it and had herself a “forced laugh” when she queried me regarding a dance I shared with some woman at the wedding. To be honest I don’t really remember who that “cougar” was but Natalie wanted to talk about it. When she found out I was going to visit another one of my uncles at a neighborhood watering hole she still had to state in a silly way that “maybe you will find you a girlfriend”.

Two of my uncles – one I don’t care for the other I cared for more – likely heard that remark and gave no response. Either they didn’t get it or they weren’t amused. Perhaps while her comment was thoughtless because we were going to a bar. At that time I wasn’t yet 21 and since my uncle at that time was middle-aged who knows what type of women I would find there. She probably didn’t really know…

Either way I’m planning to make yet another reunion over the summer. Perhaps we shall see how that turns out for yours truly. Will Nat and Nate be there this year?

Meanwhile feel free to check out The Cousin and Signals which are the most relevant posts to this revisit.

Odds & Ends

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First off I finally found out what my mother has and once she finally called out the name I just forgot about it. It just doesn’t have a simple name that proved to be very memorable. Her condition has to do with the condition of her bones.

Over three years ago she got diagnosed with a compound fracture in her hip. She never fell or anything it’s just that her bones had started to weaken to that extent. Thus she had to do surgery to correct the fracture undergo physical therapy before she came back home. Then had to go back into the hospital for further treatment which was a tad scary because what they had to do meant that we really had to clean the house for her by the time she returned.

So even she admits for this condition she will be under continuous doctor’s care. There was another scare because earlier this year she did actually slip and injured herself getting into her car one morning. She left the car on the streets during a blizzard and thus the running board she needed to step on proved to be icy. Her shoulder remained in pain for months after this and they had to treat that.

The treatment kept her in bed and she realized they needed to fix something because it got her out of whack. This was somewhat scary and I sometimes forget that she’s a senior citizen now she’s getting older and she is going to ail.

* I hate to keep being the bearer of more bad news, but last month I learned that one of my second cousins died. He was one of my first cousin Mandy’s brood and he didn’t get to attend his mother’s services in the winter of 2018. His people couldn’t find him or get into touch with him because among other issues he’s homeless.

Also I understand that he was suffering from a mental illness and his grandmother who likes to take control of situations was even scared of him. So scared that on New Years Eve a few years ago she wanted to spend the night at our house bringing a baby (from one of her foster children) has no business with her and effectively ruined my evening. On that day I would’ve been in front of the TV bringing in the new year with New York and then Chicago.

Alas I hadn’t the best relationship with him other than being a jack@$$ in the many times that I had seen him when he was living his grandmother, my aunt. I was about as warm to him as I had been to his mother I’m sorry to say especially in recent years. So with this in mind when my mother told me I just looked back as if this caught me entirely off guard. At least I knew cousin Mandy was ill for many years and it caught up to her, but her younger son’s demise was so sudden.

I understand that due to his condition he was undergoing some major infections which I also hear cost him some toes and he had to be quarantined. He wasn’t taking care of himself and if he was out on the streets he probably had a difficult time doing so. Sadly I even heard that my aunt was about to ask another relative if her grandson could sleep in an abandoned car for shelter. Not a good situation for sure.

Worse still I presume that at the time he passed away he wasn’t that far away from us. Or at least he lived in a shelter not far from us. I don’t relish meeting up with mentally ill family members, however, if that could’ve made a difference. Even I had to walk up to his older brother who’s also suffering from some mental illness as the end of Mandy’s memorial service even with my own sense of unease at knowing his condition also.

There’s also Mandy’s daughter in the picture but eavesdropping on my mother when she’s on the phone it sounds like she’s not doing great either. Perhaps not in as bad a shape as her brothers but I do think that the nature of Mandy’s relationship to her mother, my aunt seems to be the result of a fractured family. Sadly in spite of her best intentions I get the idea that my aunt might be in part responsible for it.

The second cousin who died was very young which only heightened the surprised expression I present to my mother at the time when she told me.

* Finally When I first wrote this post it was for a different reason. I wanted to talk about some of my family. Primarily one of the cousins I first noted on here cousin Natalie. I may have more to say about some members of my family as I wrote about them over the summer. Some of these are old stories that I have little issue putting to paper as it were.

All the same I don’t know how much I want to tell but in light of my revelations after visiting my reunion this past summer some of my relationships with the folks on my mother’s side especially are worth some form of re-evaluation. Part of this is knowing who’s in my corner and who’s only trying to keep up their own appearances.

I will admit that sometimes I’ve caused some friction and when they quickly address it they move on and I’m not always so willing. Perhaps what I might expect from my folks aren’t always when I get. Often my thought process with them as of late has often been of asserting their role and mine in the hierarchy. And some of the friction has been that I often don’t really care about this and act accordingly. Also bear in mind that for the most part I only meet with them on a yearly basis though lately during this decade I’ve not seen them often.

I don’t often call them and very rarely have they reached out to me. And yes I’ve been lousy at reaching back also. Either way change and growth is always about re-evaluation. However, I have to decide who’s worth the effort and who’s really not. Another thing to bear in mind is don’t make an already strained situation worse.

family reunion

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the reunion was something of an awkward affair actually there have been quite a few awkward ones over time. i briefly told about how my aunt laura was trying to talk to me early one morning – and while i was still half-sleep – she just decided she had to go in on me quickly. it turned into more of an ordeal than she really and a bit before she finally recognized i didn’t really want to talk.

in fact on two occasions she had little problem asking me for a mint or a piece of candy. she just had the need to ask just to get something out of me, i complied silently just to keep it moving. otherwise she finally recognized that i wasn’t feeling it.

incidentally there are other situations with her i had where her awkwardness is just apparent. for example in her interest in trying to talk to me she has little problem getting close to my personal space, especially since i’m trying not to show any interest in talking to her. some people have the need to force the issue especially if someone doesn’t want to be bothered.

since i had attended “mission college” there were some people bragging and without many details i let on that i didn’t do that well. to which one of my uncles just outright blurted out to other family and they start saying we got to fix that. of course upon hearing the action almost always never happens.

my uncle richard i have a bit more of a close relationship with and i express interest in joining his frat. though often he seems busy so perhaps he’s not that accessible and also i had to remember that he has his own family too. he definitely is big on we got to make sure you do better in college.

for the most part i wasn’t particularly sociable during this reunion other than with those i’m most comfortable. you still have natalie and her husband nathan – who was very quick to force a handshake and a quick “thank you for stopping by” after we found ourselves at their mcmansion in the suburbs.

then soon it was time to return home to chicago and then figure out how i’ll go back to “mission”. first my mother soon will go on a cruise and after that sets her expectations somewhat randomly and that means she expects me to go back to school to finally attain my associate’s degree. soon i will tell that story.

past tense: the ride back to “mission”

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right now i’m in the mood to reminisce. tonight jack v discusses again the period of time after his first semester away at “mission college”. let me assure you the above image doesn’t entirely reflect how i view the situation.

the summer after i went away to school at “mission college” there was a family reunion. i briefly told one story about attending a family reunion planning meeting hosted by my aunt laura. this meeting was where she decided to see if i wanted to speak where i briskly said no and she jumped in her seat as if i struck her with lightning.

my aunt nadine had picked me up at “mission” and then brought me further out to a local restaurant for this meeting. after the meeting nadine went home and sends me back to “mission” with cousin natalie. had no choice in this instance as i didn’t drive myself needed to go back to campus and my aunt does a lot of driving so perhaps she was tired.

unfortunately with natalie & her husband nathan this ride wasn’t going to be a quiet one. natalie wants to have a conversation and i likely wasn’t that interested. probably was tired myself as it’s a long ride to where the restaurant was. as often as she could both her and her husband forced themselves to laugh at whatever weak witticism i seemed to have. i tried to be funny, but honestly i was in an uncomfortable situation and was unwilling to adjust to it.

she tried hard to get me to talk about the women i met from “hillman college”. if you remember natalie tried to get me to talk about essentially “nicole” – who i actually met during this first semester away from home – almost two years or so later. when i return after a year-and-one-half absence i attempted to make some moves and it didn’t work out for me – may tell that unfortunate story one day.

as for this particular period of time with my roommate introducing me to women at “hillman” i was a long way from establishing anything remotely resembling friendly relations with the ladies. unfortunately my cousin wants know about my romantic life it was her primary expectation. however if she was starting to decide if i was going more and more anti-social perhaps she was wondering if i wasn’t able to form a bond with women as i was unwilling to bond with her as a cousin.

here’s the thing, natalie likely knows that i was close to her younger sister. she tried to really stir something up in me with regards to her. at first mention, her husband responded.

nat: tasha is coming to town later this week.

nathan: oh yeah?

nat: jack?

yours truly: yeah?

nat: tasha is coming to town later this week.

yours truly: i heard

you know to explain i can’t remember if my aunt or mother told me she was in town or i just heard this for the first time from natalie when her husband responds. the fact that she brings this up is trying to change the dynamics of the conversation hence when her husband answers she merely calls my name and repeats what she just said.

in a few short minutes we arrive at my dorm. nathan wants to know – likely being nice – if he should drop me off in the back. i tell him he dropped me off in the right place….in haste. get out and acknowledge because they were expecting me to wave and they drive back to the burbs. meanwhile after that adventure near the end of the term back to reality and finish my semester as it turns out not so strongly.

perhaps another time, i’ll discuss the family reunion. there will certainly be more to say about this particular summer. especially before eventually talking about my senior year of high school.

reunions

my mother years ago went off on me because of the episode with natalie. she has a basic understanding of my relationship history. that very brief conversation with nat gave her a quick idea – i haven’t had much success. so on this occasion she was quick to let me know that.

now i mention this episode with family to note that recently i went out of town to a family reunion. mostly my excuse is that this is a vacation away from home and i get to see another part of the country and in this case it’s not a regular locale that we would go anyway. to be sure this was the first one i been to in years.

and while not being entirely close to my extended family some of my bad habits emerged. i don’t like to be hugged, the talkative ones trying to get my attention, the need to take pics with my need to stay out of the shot, then everyone has their own expectations especially with a mother who isn’t that mobile anymore, etc. i don’t always enjoy these expectations of my other family members.

my mother told me that her first cousin tried to talk to me and i never said anything. which i explained to my mother that if she said anything to me i never received it. in fact i was not aware that she said anything to me. so needless to say my mother said something quick about it knowing about some of my behaviors. although over the years i’ve attempted to explain them.

hell, i told this story once about a coworker who told too much about her personal life. she talked about sex with some dude and this same dude combing her hair. this was not directed at me because we never had that type of relationship it was towards a coworker and i heard it. told this coworker that this was “too much sh*t”.

regardless my way of letting her know i didn’t want to be bothered involved blowing a rape whistle at her. she didn’t always talk to me because i was often a d*ck to her. but i blew my whistle whenever she asked me what time it was. the second time she just shot me this look and stormed off.

on a few occasions with family i make the conversation so one-sided on the other person’s end that well they move on to another person. this doesn’t always work the ones who insist on breaking through will continue. the ones who don’t have the interest or energy will say something quick and stay back. sometimes they just complain to my mother later and usually she’ll tell me.

i’ve learned to stay to myself during family reunions and that often doesn’t stop everyone. they try to figure out what my issue is or stay back which means they’ll force themselves on me and do more than say hello. and i often recoil and give a one-word answer.

regardless for all the good that has happened for me the past year – especially with the job that has given me paid time off which i used for this reunion. then this and my negative reactions to people i’m likely to see only once a year if that.

btw, it has been a few years since i attended a reunion. the last one could be a few years ago when i was at “the show” and here in chicago. i had to work that weekend so i never did any of the events other than a quick trip to a local museum. it was a weird year as it was during that time i worked with candace.

funny part about this was – or not funny if you prefer – my mother wanted me to be part of a group picture. she just worried me into getting into the photograph. well i did but my uncle the self-appointed photographer decided he needed to see me in pic. well i never accepted that and wasted everyone’s time by keeping myself hidden until they allowed me to step away so they could take a group pic. hell everyone even parted in the middle to expose me and i just stepped behind everyone. i was truly a piece of work back then.