Category Archives: Family

Long Day

Yesterday turned out to be quite a long and exhausting day, both emotionally and physically. I was hosting a program at work yesterday, which means until it was over, I was busy getting everything ready and situated. Plus, I was taking care of our speaker, showing him the museum and also answering questions for a class that was in the museum at the same time. After the program was over and had the the speaker heading back home, I had a meeting on the other end of campus, so I had to quickly try to eat something for lunch and then head to my meeting. Our campus might not be very large, but it’s all up hill to the building my meeting was in. By the time I got back, I had to “put out another fire” with something else that came up at the museum. When that was taken care of, I went home.

Whew! If that wasn’t enough my mother and sister called me to tell me some upsetting/disturbing family news. Mama gave me the worst version of the news, and my sister called with more details. It wasn’t as bad as Mama had told me, but in a way, it was even more disturbing because of how long this has been going on. I don’t really want to say more than that, but it was quite upsetting.

Today, I’m probably going to be working from home. We got nearly a foot of snow last night, and my apartment’s parking area and driveway has not been plowed yet, making it difficult to get out. The roads might be ok, but what I’ve seen on the news this morning, I’m not counting on it. I’ll contact my boss shortly and see about working from home.

One More Day

One more day and I then I’ll be heading home to see Isabella. My trip has had moments of good and bad, and I just need to get back to my own life. Yesterday, I visited with my aunt and that was nice. I got to see one of my two cats that she kept when I moved to Vermont. Edith allowed me to see her and seemed to recognize me, but Lucy hides from everyone. If I’d stayed and spent the night, Lucy would have heard my voice and came out, but I wasn’t there long enough. My aunt and I went to lunch and then saw some old neighbors and some elderly relatives. 

My aunt is conservative in some ways, but she hates Trump, and even though she’s a huge fan of Auburn football, she thought Tommy Tuberville was too dumb to be elected to the Senate. She’s also liberal on a lot of things that the rest of my family is not. It’s not necessarily that she’s liberal as that she doesn’t judge other people for being happy. Several times she pointed out men she knows and told me about their husbands. One is even an interracial gay couple, and while in most places that wouldn’t be much of an issue, gay and interracial is horror inducing to most people in Alabama. My aunt was very matter of fact about it as if she was talking about a straight couple or anything else. Trust me y’all, this is not the attitude of most Alabamians, but it should be. 

My aunt has always been gay friendly. She’s been a dental assistant for the past 40 years, and back in the 1980s, she worked for a dentist who was gay. He as forced to quit his dental practice when he contracted HIV. He eventually passed away from AIDS. I never heard her say anything disparaging about the fact that he was gay nor that he died of AIDS. My aunt has her faults. We all do, but for the most part, she’s a good-hearted woman who does not discriminate. She only gets upset with people when they are unkind to others. 

She undoubtedly knows I’m gay. We lived together for several years before I moved to Vermont. She also kept most of my books that I couldn’t take to Vermont with me. A lot of them are gay history or gay fiction. There is no mistaking what they are. I’ve never officially come out to her, but I know I could. I’ve just never known how to tell her. I’ve never been good at coming out to people. If I ever get in a serious relationship with a man, she’ll be the first family member to know because I know she’ll be accepting.

Anyway, I’d started out wiring this post planning to talk about how much I wanted to get home to see Isabella. It turned out to be quite different. It happens, but I’m keeping the title and picture I started out with for this post.


I made it down here. God help me! I’m trying not to let them drive me crazy. As soon as we got to my parents’ house, I went straight to bed, although apparently they don’t understand that somebody is trying to sleep. They were watching tv and talking away. However, I was just too tired to let it keep me awake.

The orthopedist’s office finally called about my hand, but not until I was somewhere in the air between Burlington and Washington, DC. I had about a two hour layover, so I was able to call them back. I ended up playing phone tag with them until I was finally able to talk to someone. I have an appointment on the day after I get back to Vermont.

Going Home Again

In about two weeks, I will be heading to Alabama for Christmas. I have not been back since before the pandemic. I knew too many people who had gotten COVID, even if vaccinated, because of the vast number of people who refused to get vaccinated. My sister’s family refused to get vaccinated until my brother-in-law’s employer mandated it, and there would have been no way to avoid them if I had come home for any of those other Christmases. I was safe in Vermont, and I planned to stay that way. My mother, though, insisted that I come home this year, and since she was paying for the plane ticket (though I wish I could have gotten her to spring for First Class instead of Coach—she didn’t realize that I opted for Main Cabin Plus or whatever they call it), I agreed. I could not have afforded to fly home this year by myself. The ticket was nearly $1000! I have flown to Europe cheaper. Anyway, I am getting off-topic.

I have very low expectations for going home. Yes, they will be glad to see me, but I know my father will be an argumentative asshole—he always is, and my mother will make snide nasty comments—she always does. My sister and brother-in-law will be their usual redneck, annoying selves. My niece and nephew will be excited to see me as well as some other family members. It’s what I expect. My mother will try to control everything I do and not want me to be out of her sight. Sadly, she will have some control over me because I will be staying with them, I can’t afford a hotel room for a week, nor can I afford a rental car for the whole time. So, anything I do will depend on borrowing her car.

However, I have already told her I will not be under her thumb the whole time. I have a good friend with whom I plan to have lunch while I am home, and if he can still make it, she’ll have to live with it. She’s not happy about it, but I’ve already told her that she lets me go for a few hours to have lunch with a friend, or I am just not going home. For now, she seems to have relented. If she brings this up again and tries to prevent me, I will flat out tell her, “You either let me do this or this is it—period. Once you take me to the airport, don’t call me, and don’t expect to see me again. We will be done for good!”

My parents controlled my life for too long. I let much of my life pass me by trying to get their love and acceptance. I DO NOT NEED IT ANYMORE! They can love me the way I am and accept me for who I am, or we don’t have to deal with each other anymore. I’ve had all I can take. My mental health has been much better in the three years since I’ve been away from Alabama, and I have no plans ever to go back to the way it was. I have only low expectations for going home. I know it will be awful and tiring and emotionally draining, but I will give them a chance to act like human beings for once. It’s the last chance I will give them. If there are arguments or hatefulness, then I don’t need it. I’ll get on that plan on December 29 and not look back.

Certain Phone Calls

My mother called last night. For a variety of reasons, it depresses me to talk to her these days. One of the things she said to me was, “I should have had three children, then maybe I’d have had a normal one.” WTF! She always has something hurtful to say like that. She always has to get a dig in, though she acts like she’s joking, but she never actually says it in a joking tone.

Then, she started in on “that idiot Biden.” I told her I’d voted for Biden because he was a good Christian who went to church every Sunday, while she voted for Trump who never attends church. The problem is that Biden attending church regularly means nothing to her because she doesn’t believe Catholics are real Christians. She’s not the only ignorant Protestant that believes that. She also sees Biden as godless because he’s a Democrat, so she can’t allow herself to believe he’s a Christian and deludes herself that Trump is a good Christian even though I have no idea how that delusion exists. 

I reminded her that she’ll vote for anyone and everyone with a (R) behind their name even if they are a rapist or someone who tried to overthrow the government (Trump) or a child molester (Roy Moore) or any number of complete idiots (ex. Tommy Tuberville). Her response was, “Yes, I will. Do you go to church every Sunday?” I said I don’t because I can’t find a church up here that I like, but I study my Bible every Sunday. I would love to tell her that I have people from all over the world of many faiths who read my devotionals every Sunday and often write to me to tell me what an inspiration they find my writing. She would just get mad and not understand. She can barely use the internet, so it would do no good.

She just pisses me off so much! And, she wonders why I don’t call her. I will probably go home at Christmas, but it’s more to see friends of mine than to see my family. I know I’ll be depressed and made to feel like crap while I’m home. The only enjoyment I get from being with my parents these days is doing all of the cooking while I’m home. I can immerse myself into that and disregard the rest, at least for a little while. I don’t think she understands just how much my mental health and physical health (except for the headaches) have improved over the past couple of years that I haven’t been home because of the pandemic.

Benevolent Hatred

I grew up being taught that “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Although, I prefer what Clairee Belcher (Olympia Dukakis, may she rest in peace) said in Steel Magnolias, “Well, you know what they say: if you don’t have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me!” 😂 I try to be a nice person, but sometimes, the gossipmonger in me comes out. I think it’s part of being a southerner. We love to gossip, which is often one of the worst things about the South. I grew up around people who never wanted to show outward hatred to anyone. Yes, in private, they would say horrible things about people, and they would often discriminate against people subtly, or sometimes not so subtly. They always wanted the outward appearance of being nice. That outward appearance was far more important than actually being kind. A kind person is loving and giving out of the goodness of their heart. Nice people often just want to avoid conflict at any cost. Charlie Ray, a gay Birmingham, Alabama, TikToker says it better than I can:

In the South, there are a few phrases that are meant to be nice, but are often anything but kind: “Bless your heart” and “Aren’t you precious?” Bless your heart as a phrase has multiple meanings. It can be used as a sincere expression of sympathy or genuine concern. It can be used as a precursor to an insult to soften the blow. It is also sometimes used to mean “you are an idiot, but you can’t help it” by individuals who wish to “be sweet” and do not wish to “act ugly.” It can also be a “pleasant” way of saying, “Fuck you.” I once heard that it was like aloha in Hawaii, there were many meanings according to the context. I think only true southerners can really interpret the meaning of how it’s being used at the moment. Then there is Aren’t you precious? Although this phrase sounds like a question, it can genuinely be a statement to compliment something cute or sweet. It’s usually intended as an interjection and generally in reference to a child’s outfit or behavior. But in the South, beware. If you hear someone saying, “Well aren’t you precious?” it’s probably being said sarcastically. It’s a phrase usually said if someone has said or done something you find stupid or insulting. The same goes for the phrase of calling someone “sweet.” When you see a baby that is just not attractive, I’ve often heard, “Well, isn’t he/she so sweet?” It means that the person did not want to say, “How beautiful!” or “What a pretty baby!” but they couldn’t outright say, “OMG! What an ugly child!” My mother used this one a lot.

One of the hardest things to handle when I lived in the South was when people were nice to me, but they never really accepted me because either they knew I was gay or perceived I was gay. They would hug me when I saw them. They’d ask about my day or my life and mean it. They would welcome me over for dinner and make sure I got more than enough to eat. They’d laugh with me (though often you could sense they were laughing at you). However, no matter how nice or kind they acted, they never accepted me. I remember one time I mentioned that I thought a guy was attractive (this was amongst a group that I was out to), and the husband of a friend of mine said, “I don’t have a problem with you being gay, I just don’t want to hear about it.”


#gay folks don’t need your acceptance or your #bigotry & #hate #lgbtq people are just like you. #bekind #blm #pride #gaypride

♬ original sound – Desi P

It’s hardest when they are kind because then when they are not kind it cuts more deeply. When they ask about your life but then you see the tense jaw and the pursed lips as you answer. Even when you are telling about something that is incredibly important to you or that you are passionate about, they have a hard time actually feigning interest. You can see their tension if it goes against what they deem appropriate, proper, and/or Christian. They might respond with a “that’s nice” but you know they are thinking it’s anything but nice. Then, the next time they ask about your life you are more careful. You tell the sanitized version. You leave some stuff out. I did this a lot. When I felt someone’s judgement of me or was told I told too much (that they did not want to hear), then I’d censor myself around them from that point onward. It kills you a little bit each time it happens, each time you have to censor yourself. It wears away at you when they are nice because it’s harder to say, “Your behavior hurt me.” They will almost always say they didn’t mean to hurt you; they were just sharing their beliefs. Often, they will claim that you are being too sensitive.

Later on, when they realized that they missed a big part of your life, they might even call you dishonest. They will say you left too much out, that you deceived them. They will say that you are the one who shut them out of your life. They will never realize that they are the ones who set the boundaries on the acceptable conversation and behavior with their non-verbal gestures, with their snide comments back, with their clear disapproval. They will say that you hurt them, or you made them feel excluded. They tell you they love you and want to be in your life. Then we often try again to let them into our lives, but we get the same response, and it hurts even more this time. They will often claim you were the one who caused the rift. You weren’t respecting their feelings or beliefs. They will claim that you weren’t willing to compromise. Even though, for years, you were the only one to always compromise and kept your mouth shut and acted the way they wanted you to act. I have spent nearly forty years denying myself happiness because I spent so much of my life hiding parts of myself from my family. 

Maybe you are someone who sits alone on a holiday or misses out on a family gathering because you simply cannot bear to go and hear people force you to be someone you are not for one more holiday. You cannot bear to smile even though you want to be weeping. You cannot bear to keep so much of yourself hidden. You become the one who is alone, and you feel like you are punishing yourself, when it is they who are punishing you. Maybe you know you did the right thing to save your sanity, but it still feels like you are the one being punished. For many of us, we realize that whenever we meet someone new, it’s their voice you hear in your head telling you that you aren’t worthy of love. But it’s a subtle voice with kind tones. This is benevolent homophobia. In racism, it’s akin to paternalism. People in positions of power restrict the freedom and responsibilities of those subordinate to them in the subordinates’ supposed best interest. The same is true of homophobia, they want to save us from ourselves by imposing their twisted beliefs of what they believe the Bible says to force us to conform to their twisted morality. Some people do this with “kindness,” but it is veiled hatred, and we cannot pretend it’s not.

A Glimmer of Hope?

Last night, my mother called. It was the second time she had called yesterday. The first time was to ask about a recipe, and in the second, she called back to tell me about a procedure she had done with her eyes. Mama has macular degeneration, just like her father had. It had begun to deteriorate because of a blockage in a blood vessel, so they had to give her a shot in her eye. The good news is that the doctor said it was very successful, and she probably would only need one more injection. 

After telling me about the procedure, she asked me what I would do on Christmas Day. I told her I would likely cook dinner, and that was about all I’d do. Then she asked, “ Do you have anyone to spend the day with?” I told her that no, I didn’t have anyone. I said that maybe I could spend some time with my downstairs neighbor, who she knows is also from Alabama, but I doubt I’d see anyone. Then came the glimmer of hope. She asked, “No, I was wondering if you had met a guy you could spend Christmas with?” Now there could be any number of reasons she asked this. She may just be worried about me being alone on Christmas. She could have only been curious or thought this might be the real reason I was not coming home for Christmas.

In the fifteen years since she found out I was gay, she has never said anything positive about being gay. It has always been a nasty, snarky side comment when she has mentioned my sexuality. The examples are too many to name. She asked this with no malice in her voice, just curiosity (and maybe a bit of hope that I would not be alone on Christmas). For some, this would not be a big deal. For me, it seems like a possible reason to hope that she is finally accepting my sexuality. I could be reading too much into this, but I know my mother very well. I know when she is lying. I know when she’s being manipulative. I know when she is being nosy in a malicious way. This comment did not seem like any of those things.

Only once before had she ever mentioned a possible man in my life, and that was my college roommate. She thought that we might have had something going on. We did not, and I told her so. I did try one night when we were drunk but was rebuffed, then after college, I came out to him, and I’ve never heard from him since. We were roommates for four years, and I haven’t heard from him in nearly twenty years. I haven’t tried to contact him, and he hasn’t tried to contact me again. It wasn’t awkward or anything when I told him, and I am terrible at keeping in touch with people. It’s easier now with Facebook, but Facebook wasn’t around or popular back then. Anyway, I am sidetracked.

I don’t know exactly what my mother meant when she asked me if “I’d met a guy I could spend Christmas with.” Once I said that I had not met anyone, she said she had to go, and we disconnected before I could say anything more. The thing I can’t stress enough is that she did not seem to be negative in any way when she asked about me meeting a guy. Maybe I shouldn’t see so much hope in this little question. Time will tell if she has had any kind of change of heart. I wish that I had a guy to spend Christmas with, cook for, cuddle up with on the couch, and watch a Christmas movie. Maybe someday that will happen. I find it increasingly doubtful, but I can continue to hope. 

Maybe if I met someone and decided to spend Christmas with them instead of with my family, she would decide it was okay for me to bring him home to meet them. That’s probably really wishful thinking, but maybe she’s had an epiphany. Isn’t that what happens in all the Christmas movies? Scrooge had an epiphany about his miserly ways. George had an epiphany in It’s a Wonderful Life about the many lives he has touched. In every Lifetime or Hallmark Christmas movie, a woman decides that her life in the big city is too hectic, and she’s better off with a simpler life in rural Vermont with a guy she met two days ago . It’s a common theme at Christmastime. So why can’t I have a glimmer of hope that my mother has also had an epiphany about her homophobia?

I’ve been here for five years, and it still hasn’t happened to me either. Dammit, Hallmark! 

Be Thankful and Be Safe

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 4:6-7

This year won’t be my first Thanksgiving without seeing my family. Since I moved to Vermont, I have chosen to go home for Christmas and not Thanksgiving. It’s always been impossible to afford both. However, this year, I won’t be going home for Christmas either. The pandemic is just too bad in Alabama, and I don’t want to take the chance of getting the virus and spreading it to my parents. I think this will be the second time that I have spent Thanksgiving on my own. Since I moved to Vermont, I have spent most years having Thanksgiving with friends or coworkers. Last year, I spent Thanksgiving and my birthday with my friend Susan in Manhattan. It was one of my most memorable Thanksgivings and birthdays. For once, I got to spend those two days with someone who loves me unconditionally for who I am. With my family, it’s always on the condition that I don’t speak about being gay.

This year, the United States (and to a certain extent, the whole world) is in the middle of what disaster-preparedness experts once believed would be a worst-case scenario. A highly contagious virus with unpredictable symptoms (sometimes mild, sometimes fatal) is raging worse than ever in the United States. The curve is not flat, nor is there even a curve. It’s a line that is starting to point straight upward. More than 1,000 Americans are dying every day, on average. Soon that number will likely hit 2,000. Over one-quarter of a million people have died. That number may rise to over 300,000 by Christmas, or more if people gather together from multiple households over Thanksgiving, which will see the United States have thousands of super-spreader events. It doesn’t look like there is a lot to be thankful for this year. However, 1 Chronicles 16:34 tells us, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

I know that few things sound nicer for many of us than sitting around eating with friends and family after so much isolation and worry over this seemingly never-ending year. But from an infectious-disease standpoint, the guidelines at this moment are stark and frank: 

  • Limit activities to those essential to life. 
  • Don’t gather socially. 
  • Don’t travel. 

Many doctors, public-health experts, and some civic leaders (though not enough) have begged us in recent weeks to follow these guidelines. They have asked us not to celebrate Thanksgiving in anything resembling the modern American way—with multigenerational gatherings that involve travel and prolonged conversations over an indoor meal. Canada celebrated its Thanksgiving on October 12. In the days and weeks following Canada’s Thanksgiving, coronavirus case numbers immediately started to rise. From November 12-19, Canada reported three of its five highest single-day totals in the entire year, all within the span of a week. Canada’s COVID-19 surge since after Thanksgiving is a warning for Americans.

In any other administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would issue guidelines to Americans. In a coordinated effort with the president and coronavirus task force to advise and coordinate with governors, mayors, and citizens. Instead, there is a messaging void. The president has spent his time golfing and tweeting about the election being stolen from him, including saying dead people voted when the families of over 250,000 people are mourning the death of loved ones from a virus he has done nothing to control. He has effectively quit being the president and at the same time trying to hang on to the false belief that he won the election. He has broken with his task force and refused to concede or transfer power to incoming experts, leaving them without vital information. The CDC has a barely adequate page of new “considerations” for holiday celebrations that the agency’s officials have neither publicly announced nor explained in news conferences.

If people don’t stay home and have Thanksgiving with only the members of their households, this virus will spread exponentially, and thousands more will die. The truth is that we will likely need to be more vigilant with each passing day this winter, not less. The virus knows no difference between holidays and workdays. Our default should be to treat Thanksgiving as a day when the health guidelines are no different from any other day. As the prevalence of the virus increases, things that were previously low risk become more dangerous. This is why it’s so important to follow the directives of not gathering indoors or traveling. It’s never been advisable during the pandemic to socialize with people outside your bubble who can’t manage to wear masks and keep their distance, but it’s especially ill-advised now. 

No family member should put pressure on others to gather. Many people will likely join reluctantly because they do not want to be the ones who are no fun or to keep others in the family from acting indignant or insulted. That’s what my parents are doing by going to my sister’s in-laws for Thanksgiving. Just simply say no. Say that you are thankful they are currently safe and healthy, and you would like to keep it that way. If you don’t, it might be the last Thanksgiving you do see your family. Remember, the risk of such gatherings is not limited to those who gather. Each transmission of the virus can possibly spread to dozens more, and those dozens will spread it to dozens more, and the spread goes on and on. We are all in this together, and we can’t forget that.

Take the opportunity to think about what you love most about the day. Focus on how to re-create that, and even build on it. Maybe learn to cook one of the dishes that someone else usually brings to dinner. Think of the people you actually look forward to seeing, and call them. Think of the people you don’t look forward to seeing, and don’t call them. Maybe most important, this year is an opportunity to bond over the moral certainty of the moment. At its core, Thanksgiving is a day of giving thanks for the blessings of the past year. While there may not be a lot to be thankful for when it comes to 2020, 1 Timothy 4:4-5 tells us, “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” This year, families, friends, and communities can work together to achieve something meaningful and good: ending the pandemic. All you’re asked to do is eat food at home.

Whatever you do, have hope that next Thanksgiving, if the news of an effective vaccine proves as promising as it sounds, we can go back to whatever traditions draw people to Thanksgiving. We can hope and pray that this is a one-time deal. Next year will be an opportunity to be thankful for the fundamentals of the holiday that we tend to take for granted in normal years.


In 1976, Jimmy Carter famously said in a Playboy Magazine interview, “I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times.” Carter was referring to a particular Christian theological idea about sin. I was taught two things about sin growing up: 1) all sins are equal in the eyes of God and 2) if you contemplate a sin, it is no different from committing it. I have always had a fundamental problem with both. Carter did not. I think the supposed sin of a “lie of omission,” which is leaving out part of the truth on purpose and is still considered a lie, is not nearly as bad as murder. How can the two sins be equal? Furthermore, we all contemplate sins at various times. Many of us lust after people we shouldn’t but that is not the same as acting on lust nor is it adultery even if the person is married. If contemplating a sin was really a sin, then I am going straight to hell, “do not pass go, do not collect $200.”

I had the opportunity to be very cruel yesterday, but I held my tongue. My mother called upset that her preacher had died of COVID-19. I said I was sorry to hear it, but what I did not remind her of was that he had refused to wear a mask even though he was in a high risk category, and he had continued to hold church services even when he was told he shouldn’t. The man was elderly and had Parkinson’s but did not try to protect himself, his family, or his congregation. Did he get what he deserved? No, no one deserves to die like that. However, I am not going to feel a great deal of sadness over it either. Will those around him that still refuse to wear a mask learn from this? Again, no, they won’t because they would rather listen to the lies of a president who denounces science only because he is against abortion. I will not feel great sorrow for them if they get sick either. I will admit that I have a few prejudices; Republicans and Southern Baptists are at the top of the list. Both groups have done so much harm to the LGBTQ+ community and to me personally, not to mention minorities and whoever else they deem to hold in contempt. 

As I mentioned in my post about depression, when I needed my mother the most, when I was at the two lowest point in my life, she was not there for me. She never knew that I attempted suicide when I was a teenager, nor did she really care. She never understood the bullying I faced at school or my struggle with my sexuality and when I have tried to point out the bullying to her, she refuses to listen. She also constantly reminds me how wrong it is to be gay. When my friend died five years ago, and I called her because I wanted to hear her voice and wanted her to comfort me, she dismissed my sadness because my friend was gay. Some of you may be asking why I would have even sought comfort from her, but I used to be very close to my mother, and I so desperately wanted her to try and make it better. She has failed me many times, and yet, I still keep her in my life. I still love her. I know my relationship with my family is far from healthy.

Phone Calls

Yesterday afternoon, my best friend who lives in Texas called me. We talked for a few minutes; the conversation we had lasted maybe 30 seconds. The rest of the time for about 30 minutes or so, she talked to her three-year-old son who was in the backseat of the car. I have no idea why she called. I hate when people call me and apparently, don’t really want to talk to me. I have one friend I never have to worry about with that. She’s going to have something to say when she calls. However, my friend in Texas, my sister, and my aunt are the worst about calling and not really having anything to say. I guess they want me on the phone, but really have nothing to say. When my sister calls and does have something to say, it’s usually something idiotic, like telling me about a trip she took to Florida or Tennessee in the middle of a pandemic. Whenever Mama calls, she never wants to talk long, and she seems to try to get off the phone as quickly as possible. And people wonder why I have issues with talking on the phone.

After my friend called, my mother called. She wanted to tell me that a neighbor I grew up next to had died of pancreatic cancer. It’s sad because she left behind three young children. However, I barely knew the girl. Honestly, I don’t even remember her name. She lived next door but there was a pasture between us. I grew up in a very rural area. My mother didn’t really want us associating with the neighbors, so I never knew any of them very well. After she got through telling me this whole story about this woman who died, I mentioned that Olivia de Havilland died. Mama is a huge Gone with the Wind fan as is my sister. Apparently, my mother and sister had already had a conversation about Olivia de Havilland’s death, so it wasn’t news to her. Anyway, Mama was confused about who de Havilland had a long love affair with. I tried to tell her it was Errol Flynn, but she wasn’t listening to me and kept talking about the man she’d been in love with was the one who played all the pirates in movies. Again, I told her it was Errol Flynn, and she said, “Oh yeah, that’s right.” Then as I continued to try and talk to her, when she interrupts me and said, ” I have another phone call. Bye,” and hung up. 

Then I get another call. This time it was my niece, who apparently was at my parents’ house. (I won’t even get started on what’s wrong with that, since it is not safe for them to be around the grandchildren right now with the pandemic.) My niece basically said, “Hi, Uncle Joe,” and then it was like pulling teeth to get her to talk to me. She was obviously distracted by something. What it was, I don’t know. I tried asking her about school starting back, and eventually she answered me. Finally, she said, “Grandma wants to talk to you.” I was thinking I just talked to her, it had only been 2 or 3 minutes, but I didn’t say that. Mama proceeded to ask me if I will be able to come home at Christmas because apparently, she has heard that AOC is trying to shut down all travel. I started to write that I don’t know where she gets this stuff, but I do know. All her craziness comes from Fox News. I don’t even have to ask. Why can’t the FCC just shut that shitshow down for all the misinformation they spread. Anyway, I said that I would probably not be able to come home but it had nothing to do with AOC but with the fact that the university has asked us not to travel outside of Vermont, especially to high risk areas, of which Alabama is one such place. Then she tells me how sad it will make her if I can’t come home at Christmas. I said that it would make me sad too. I was in the middle of explaining about why the university doesn’t want us to travel and when I would start going back into the office, when she breaks into the middle of what I was saying to tell me that she needs to get off the phone. All she called for was to make a nasty remark about a Democrat and when I tried to tell her something, she didn’t want to hear it. My family drives me crazy.

So, I basically had four phone conversations about nothing yesterday afternoon. Finally, my friend Susan called. She always has plenty so say, whether I do or not. Last night, I was actually in the mood to talk, we ended up being on the phone for nearly two hours. When we both have a lot to say, we end up on the phone for a long time. I always feel better though after talking to Susan. If she hadn’t called, I would have probably remained in a pissed off mood about the useless phone calls I’d received that afternoon.