Monday, December 12, 2005

A long weekend

I got home 45 minutes ago and I should be unpacking. I've found that if I don't unpack immediately, I can have a full-ish suitcase hanging around for a week. I'll type now, unpack soon.

I can never spend too much time in NY. Have I mentioned that I've wanted to live there for about 15 years? Ever since I graduated from college. It's just a fantasy. I've never done anything about it. I've been taking trips to NYC at least once a year since we moved away (when I was 2). I know my way around Manhattan, I don't feel like a tourist (usually) and I'm comfortable there. However, this trip I made a couple of rookie mistakes: I didn't dress warmly enough and I got on the wrong subway.

When I got to NY, the first item on the agenda was to see Uncle Marty. I love Uncle Marty, but I haven't seen him the last couple of times I've been in NY/NJ because of the family situation. Uncle Marty is my mother's brother, thus he is not my brother's (B1) uncle. They're not enemies, but they don't see each other and there's no sense that Uncle Marty is included in Barab-family events. He really should be since is one of my favorite people. Uncle Marty is one of the first adults who treated me as a full human being and not as a child--and he still does.

The plan was to arrive Friday afternoon, go visit Uncle Marty, go straight from there to meet Dad at the memorial for Walter, then go with Dad to the place we were staying (an apartment on the Upper West Side). Saturday was set aside for Dad, then Sunday we would go to NJ to see B1 and family. I introduced a wrinkle into this plan by a having a date (more on that later) on Saturday. The plan was to meet my friend at 11:00am for breakfast/lunch, then have the rest of the day with Dad. I cleared this with Dad. If Dad had said "no" I would probably not have seen my friend (ok, kept my date), but I asked, Dad said fine. So I thought it would be fine.

I got to Uncle Marty's later than planned because the train was delayed. After a tiny bit of small talk, he asked, "Want something to drink?"
"Sure." I'm thinking soda or water.
"What would you like?"
"I don't know."
"I'm having a whisky sour."
"That's sounds good. I'll have one too."
That was my first mistake.

We drank, we talked. He asked if I were seeing someone and I told him a little bit about Tim. When I got to the part about him being separated, Uncle Marty shook his head, "That's no good." Yes. I do get that people, but thanks for reminding me.

After he gave me my X-mas/Hanukah/Winter Solstice present--a beautiful burgundy, paisley Indian shawl-- I pulled out the brownies. He did not offer me a brownie! He loves his brownies. He did give me some cheese and crackers. And another drink. I objected to the second drink but he insisted. I do respect my elders.

After finishing the second drink and helping Uncle Marty with his computer (I provide software consultation for all family members over age 60), I realized that I was already late to meet Dad. I was supposed to be there at 5:30, but I didn't leave Uncle Marty's until 6:00pm.

On my walk to the bus, I decided to call my friend about our date. He'd suggested that we meet at a touristy spot in Times Square. I'd agreed but then I started to worry. The food would be mediocre, the prices high and I would be dissatisfied. What was I to do? How could I suggest that he suggest another place because as native-New-Yorker-like as I am, I am not a native New Yorker. My solution to the conundrum was to call him while drunk. Nice. Very nice.

As it turned out, it was a good plan. I wasn't nervous and he was agreeable. He came up with a new plan and all was well. We also had a funny conversation, of which I remember very little. I mean, it was me and I had two whiskey sours in 2.5 hours on an almost empty stomach. It's a miracle I didn't slur my words or pass out.

I arrived a full hour and a half late to the memorial. I missed Dad's speech. I didn't even know he was making a speech. Afterwards, we went to dinner with old friends of Dad's. But, the main old friend (Frances) was not available and Dad agreed to meet her the next day for brunch at 11:00am. He asked if that were ok with me. It wasn't ok, but what could I do? Frances is 81 and I don't get to see her very often. I said I would rearrange and I called my friend and pushed our date back to 12:30. I felt like a jerk for changing the plans, but he was gracious. He said, "I have infinite patience."
"Really? I hope not."
"Well, not really."
"Good. But I'm glad you have enough patience for this ridiculousness."

Dinner with old friends was fine. Getting home was fine. Falling asleep was slow. Strange house, extremely hard bed and unexpectedly free wi-fi conspired to keep me up late.

Dad started Saturday by quizzing me about my reproductive intentions. He has the subtlety of a sledge hammer. I came down to the kitchen and after offering me coffee, he says, "Jamy, do you want to have children?"

I said, "We've been over this before."

"No we haven't."

I sigh in frustration. We have. The last time he asked, I told him that I wanted kids, but I was old fashioned and was hoping to get married first.

"Do you want to have kids? You know there are options..."

"Oh my God. I don't believe you're going there. We are not talking about this."

"Why? It's a reasonable question. You're a woman of a certain age. There are things you can do, if you want to have children. "

"Oh no. I don't believe this. We are not doing this. I am not discussing this with you. A woman of a certain age. Incredible." I mumbled the last bit to myself after I stood up and walked out of the kitchen and back to my room.

My dad is suggesting that at my advanced age, with no prospect of a husband/lover/long-time male companion, I ought to go to the doctor and get myself knocked up. Wow. I have had one friend (work friend Nancy) suggest this to me, but her approach was about a thousand times more subtle. And it was in the context of a discussion of my most recent failed relationship. Also, it's how she got pregnant. She is a lesbian in a long-term, committed relationship. If I were a lesbian in a long-term, committed relationship, I would have no qualms about going to the doctor. My concern is that it would be awfully hard to raise a child on my own. I don't want to do it that way. I'm not saying I won't, but it's not my first choice. And do I really have to make that decision right now? And do I have to discuss it with my dad?

As we were getting ready to leave the apartment, I snapped at Dad. He said, "You don't need to be so short with me."

"I'm annoyed with you right now. You're going to have to live with it for a little while."

That shut him up.

What killed me was that I knew it was going to come up during my date. (As I've mentioned before, I can't help but talk about whatever is on my mind--and this was front and center.) I wanted to make a good impression. Instead I was going to vent about my father's obsession with my biological clock. You know how the boys like that. Yes, I knew I could play it for comic effect (which I did), but I was in a bad mood, and I pretty much stayed there for the rest of the NY visit. I just didn't stop being annoyed with Dad.

Brunch with Frances was a bit of a fiasco as the first place we went was closed and the second place we tried had gone out of business. Eventually, we found a good, open place, after making a complete circle back to where we began and a stop at a liquor store. We sat down to lunch much later than planned and I had to call to delay meeting my friend once again. Maybe he really does have an infinite amount of patience.

Have I built up enough suspense about the date yet? Who was this mysterious man I was meeting in New York City? Another blogger of course! Even better, another blogger who writes about dating. And he's a famous blogger too. Very cool and a little weird. I'm getting to be an old hand at meeting other bloggers, so I wasn't too nervous.

Bob is a funny guy and able to roll with the punches--as evidenced by his reaction to my drunken phone call and the many changes of plan. He thought my name was pronounced "Jam-ee" as in jelly or preserves. He had a funny and incorrect mental image of me. He is a lot more positive than his blog persona. We walked around, talked, I got cold, we stopped for coffee and talked some more. Walking around NY is one of my most favorite things to do and I wish I had dressed more appropriately. I'm glad we met and we will stay in touch. Thanks for the coffee, Bob. (Sorry for the paucity of date details. You should be glad I mentioned it at all. Writing about a date with someone who has read the blog and will read the blog is treacherous ground.)

I was supposed to be home to meet Dad at 4:30 back at the apartment. Bob had an engagement at 3:30. He walked me to the subway and we said goodbye.

I got on the train to go back to the Upper West Side. But I got on the B going to Queens, instead of the B that stayed in Manhattan. I was writing in my journal instead of paying attention, but the occurrence of a 23rd street stop long after we'd passed 23rd street made we wonder where I was. I was in Queens. I got off the train, crossed to the other platform and headed back to Manhattan.

I stuck to my intention of visiting the Town Shop even though I knew it would make me late to meet Dad. I love the Town Shop. I especially love that my grandmother and my mother shopped there. Buying bras as a family tradition. Why not?

Since I was late to meet Dad at the apartment, I went to meet him at our next event instead, which was drinks with another old friend (of Dad's). After we talked for an hour or so, Dad and I headed out on our own for dinner. I was mildly annoyed with him all night, but we didn't argue. Mostly, I was tired. I'd been walking around all day and didn't have a chance to rest. My detour to Queens was only part of the problem.

After dinner, we tried to go to a movie, but every attempt was met with a sold out theater. That's Saturday night in Manhattan. We ended up paying a lot of money to see 15 minutes of a documentary at the "South Asian Film Festival." We were too incredulous to ask for our money back. We went home and watched a movie on t.v. It was the original version of The Four Feathers. It was a beautifully shot and fairly well-acted film and one of the most racist, pro-colonialist bits of propaganda I've ever seen. It was entertaining and horrifying all at the same time.

It ended at midnight and I said, "It's a good thing I don't have Turner Classic Movies at home because I would never sleep again. And I'd have to quit my job so I could watch movies all day." I didn't get to sleep until 2am. No excuse for that. I wasn't even watching movies.

When I woke up on Sunday, all I could think about how I wanted a New York bagel. When I got to the kitchen, there was one waiting for me, courtesy of Dad. Wasn't that sweet? Too bad I was still annoyed at him. He even brought me a cup of Starbucks coffee (brewed--too damn dark!).

We got out to NJ around noon. The kids were fantastic. B1 was happy to see us, as was my sister-in-law, Theda. My favorite moment? I was alone with B1 in the kitchen, Dad was playing Stratego in the dining room with the second niece, Beth. Theda and oldest niece, Stella, were at her soccer game. The baby boy was napping. B1 said, "Are you still blogging?"
Guess he hasn't been reading. "Yes."
"Every day?"
"You never take a break?"
"I don't always post on the weekends. I skip a day occasionally. But it's pretty much every day."
Then he asked about readership. I mentioned how I'd met people through the blog and he was surprised. It is surprising--or is it?

Later, I took a walk with Theda and the girls. I told her what Dad said to me. She was sympathetic without judging Dad. I admire her for that. I love how she thinks I'm young and have plenty of time. She's 43. I told her that my dad should be satisfied with eight grandchildren, that's he's greedy. She said, "I don't think that's what it's about." Maybe not. Maybe he thinks I don't know very much about reproductive biology. Actually, it's one of the only types of biology I know anything about, given that I studied demography in grad school. Maybe I should remind Dad of that the next time (and there will be a next time) he raises this subject.

Later, I remembered that Theda's Dad died when she was 19. Maybe I should shut up and be grateful my dad is still around to give me something to complain about.

Oh, and while there, I realized that I'd completely forgotten B1's birthday. It was about a month ago. He was slightly hurt. What's wrong with me?

The time in NJ was much too short. B1 really needs to invite me to visit more often. (Maybe I'd remember his birthday then?)

The train ride home was uneventful. I read my book instead of writing. How crazy is that?

Now it's back to the grind. I finished unpacking quickly. I stayed home from work today (Monday) feeling slightly ill, but I think mostly emotionally exhausted and sleep deprived. Back to the grind tomorrow.

Grateful for: family.

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