I'm not sticking around more than an hour or 90 minutes or so tonight. Kid Pax and I have to head out to a dinner, one where more of my family of origin will be present than have been together all at once, oh, for possibly my entire life. They're here this weekend because my mom died three weeks ago, and her memorial service is tomorrow.
Please pause for station identification:
WYFP is our community's Saturday evening gathering to talk about our problems, empathize with one another, and share advice, pootie pictures, favorite adult beverages, and anything else that we think might help. Everyone and all sorts of troubles are welcome. May we find peace and healing here. Won't you please share the joy of WYFP by recommending?
They're good people, my family. They mean well, although there's plenty of topics - especially this week - that have the potential to deteriorate conversation badly. Indeed, as I sat here writing this diary, I received one of those email forwards from a distant relative about taxes, the money requested to rebuild New Orleans, and that ends "AND I STILL HAVE TO PRESS '1' FOR ENGLISH!" Nifty. Racism and anti-immigrant xenophobia all in one swell foop. Most of my relatives don't hold those opinions, and the ones who do generally know that sending them to me isn't the greatest of ideas. I reply-all, with factual analysis. End of conversation.
Individually, I can deal with most of my relatives fairly well, and would love to have more time with a bunch of them one on one. Truth be told though, I'm going to this dinner because as the only child of the deceased, it's compulsory. The irony is pretty profound; my mom raised me with the admonition to not do things "just because it's expected or obligatory" - to follow my own values. So instead of attending my prom, I went to serve food at a soup kitchen. But what am I doing tonight? I'm going, because to not show up would create more havoc than just attending will do, as long as I can bite my tongue, stay away from some topics, and hope that Kid Pax stays on an even keel. Around a few of these folks he goes from cheerful to hyper to out-of-control frenetic activity that invariably goes way beyond reasonable behavior, even for a ten year old kid, and I have to try to reground him and calm him down.
I dunno if it's ADD or what, but it's intensely hard for me to focus in settings like this, especially when I'll be the point of some of the attention, and when I'm trying to keep the kid at peace. I get scattered, then distracted, then anxious, and then it's just a matter of holding it together 'til I can leave. (I usually mentally conjugate Spanish verbs. I may be fluent by the end of the night.) With luck and some damn good red wine, I'll be able to manage it, will get through the few hours tonight and then the service and reception tomorrow, and will gratefully resume regular programming on Monday. Best case scenario is that I'll end up coming home at the end of it all, sick from the stress, and will cry myself to sleep from sheer exhaustion.
It's. That. Bad.
But what may help keep it all in perspective for me is keeping the thought in mind that this isn't the worst family drama that I'll have endured this week. This is short-term, and will be over - one way or another - by about 5pm tomorrow. Even if the kid's behavior deteriorates badly, by Monday or so he'll be fine.
I wish I could say the same about the sniping that's taking place among my progressive family in the aftermath of the passage of Proposition 8. It's not going to be over by Monday, and it's not anything that a couple of glasses of wine will soothe away, either.
I'm not going to link to any of the diaries here; just go through the past 3 days' worth of content and you're bound to trip on one or thirty of them. It's not just a DailyKOS issue, either. The arguments about whether African Americans are to blame for Prop 8's passage are carrying themselves out in bars, on email lists, over brunch, and even among my workplace's LGBTQ employee group members. I'm just praying it doesn't come up at dinner tonight, but even if I get a two-day pass, I'm sure it'll all be continuing on Monday when I return to daily life again.
Regardless of what you think of how the No on 8 people ran the campaign - and reasonable minds can differ, hindsight is always 20/20, etc., they issued a very important statement yesterday:
We achieve nothing if we isolate the people who did not stand with us in this fight. We only further divide our state if we attempt to blame people of faith, African American voters, rural communities and others for this loss. We know people of all faiths, races and backgrounds stand with us in our fight to end discrimination, and will continue to do so. Now more than ever it is critical that we work together and respect our differences that make us a diverse and unique society. Only with that understanding will we achieve justice and equality for all.
I understand the grief over Prop 8's passage, and the sense of betrayal that so many of us feel, especially but not exclusively those of us who are lesbian or gay. I hope, pray, beg, and plead that somehow we can stop the recriminations and blame, and move forward for EQUAL civil rights for all. And y'know, it'd be really nifty if we could do that without resorting to identity politics and casting aspersions on "those people" - whomever one chooses to target for what happened. Right now, I'm getting the clear impression that we're doing more damage than good, sending out more darkness than light, and beating each other to a bloody pulp in the process. I wrote elsewhere today that we're shooting ourselves in the HEAD - not just the foot - with our insistence on finding the scapegoat for what happened. The Republicans couldn't do a better job of fragmenting progressives if they tried. We're too good - we're doing it to ourselves.
It's a huge f*cking problem.
So family drama, and family drama. FPs abound. And how about you?