Everybody thinks their family is a bit odd, or has a couple of odd people in it. Perhaps oddity is in the nature of family. I’m talking blood family here. Don’t get me wrong, the family that grows out of being in the same time and space with an unchosen group of people, as when co-workers have been together doing the same job for years, is very special, very valuable, but it’s a bit different. I’m talking blood. Co-workers come and go. Roommates come and go. Family, blood family, you’re stuck with. It’s in your DNA and there’s not a thing you can do about it.
Since this is an inaugural blog, and since it will generally reference my family, I will simply start off with the obvious.
I’m not saying my family is any more odd than yours, I’m just saying…it’s got its characters, most notably, my husband. He would take issue with this statement. As far as he’s concerned HE’s perfectly normal. It’s the rest of the world that has the problem.
Mixing metaphors is normal, right? When a question is closed, my husband will remark, “You’re barking up a dead tree.” When he has admittedly overfilled his plate and he must concede to doing too much, he’s been “pushing the candle.”
Conversation is generally a one-way process. He monologues, I listen. I’ve learned it’s best to just stay out of the way. As daughter Katie once remarked, he has no inner dialogue, it all just comes tumbling out. But hearing someone’s ‘inner voice’ is scary. Even when the thoughts themselves aren’t scary, it’s hard to imagine how someone gets along in this world when their thoughts are such a jumble.
He’s sitting at the kitchen table, working on his laptop, as he often does, muttering to himself.
Hubby: “How do I send it? I just sent it! HOW DO I SEND IT!?!!”
Daughter and I exchange glances.
Katie, imitating his mutter, “Idon’tunderstandyou. I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU!!!” We laugh.
And he repeats, “How do I send it? I just sent it! How do I send it!?!”
His frustration and anxiety chase each other around the room. I have no idea what he was talking about, and I refuse to get sucked into the whirlwind he lives in. But the absurdity of his confusion, and how he expresses it is a constant source of amusement for us.
In his world, it’s perfectly normal to turn off a computer or light switch several times in a row, or to click the car alarm three times, just to be sure it’s on. Now, computers, light switches, car alarms, yeah I get it, lots of people sort of obsess about these things and will double and triple check them. But with hubby, this double and triple checking extends to conversation.
“So where is this new job, Katie?”
She’s been searching and interviewing exclusively in San Francisco for the last four months. She moved back from Manhattan in order to get a job in San Francisco. She’s an executive assistant with most of her experience in the finance and banking fields.
“In San Francisco, Dad.”
“Oh really, so you’re going to work in San Francisco?” followed by a pregnant pause. He really needs this question answered, because he’s not sure he understood. This is not dementia or Alzheimer’s, it’s just that data has a hard time sticking in his brain because it’s running so fast.
“Where in San Francisco? North or south of Market?”
If you know anything at all about San Francisco you know there’s a very specific and well-defined ‘financial district’ there. He knows that too, but it’s the sort of information that he doesn’t trust.
“North of Market…where is that?”
She and I just look at one another.
“North of Market. I don’t know how else to say it.”
“In the 800 block?” He references the 800 block of Market because that is where he goes every couple of months to participate in board meetings for the music teachers’ association he belongs to.
“Near the Montgomery stop.” She takes BART into the City, so the stops are her point of reference.
“Mont…gomery…” He says it like it’s a foreign word. He’s heard of the street, knows he’s probably driven on it, but has no idea where it is relative to anything else.
“Um…it’s 101 Post, actually.”
“OH! Way down THERE. Hmm.” In point of fact, her new office is not above 4 blocks from his music teachers meeting.
Katie, quietly to the side, in an exaggerated imitation of her father’s tone. “I guess…technically that’s still ‘San Francisco’.”
“Did you mention in the interview that I am a member, a State Board Member of a prestigious state wide organization, that we meet there in San Francisco?”
“Oh. Well, I guess it probably didn’t come up.”
“Not really, no.”
“So exactly where will you be working? You got a job in San Francisco?”
And it starts again.
He’s also known for a really admirable ability to talk about something without actually mentioning it. My favorite example:
We lived in a house had a curious little hallway, it was just wide enough for one doorway, and long enough for two doorways, it connected the dining room and living room on one side, a bedroom on another, a bathroom on another, and the fourth wall was blank. On that last wall I had placed a tall bookcase filled with books. It was handy and out of the way, but tended to cramp an already small space.
When our family size changed and a bedroom opened up for me to move my things into, the bookcase found a new home and our little passage way opened up. It felt positively luxurious. He described the hallway this way.
“That bookcase looks a lot better not here.” Notice he didn’t actually mention the hallway, but that is in fact what he’s talking about.
I just wanted to make this first post kind of fun. I’m not sure what the rest will be about.