As the world churns

Am I to take any message from the way 2015 has begun? I sure hope not.  After a tumultuous Christmas that left me in a quandary as to why the holidays simply cannot go smoothly, when they are my favorite time of year in every way, the first week of the new year has only deepened my confusion.

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So, this post may be a bit disjointed as I simply chronicle the inner workings of my mind while the events of the holiday season were unfolding.  I might have titled this ‘as the mind churns’ or even ‘as the stomach turns’.  Anyway, I am sure you get my drift.

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Is there anything I can add to what has been said, world-wide, about the events in Paris on Wednesday? My good friend Cole has an interesting discussion that you can read, to take a scholarly approach to the entire subject of what I would refer to simply as schoolyard name-calling and a bully’s response.  To me, the core of the problem is the immaturity of a group of individuals who have justified their puerile — but deadly — behavior by adhering it to their interpretation of a religion. What they really are is self-humiliated.  They repeatedly throw themselves under the feet of people who are apparently unconcerned about trammeling the delicate sensibilities of a backward philosophy.  Should the mockery and taunting continue and be encouraged? Personally, I don’t think so.  After all, we can stand on principle and say we all have the right to free speech in the civilized, 21st century world.  But we must also recognize that this, like so many enlightened ideas, is anathema and opaque to low-information and perhaps reduced intellect (I said perhaps) individuals who fall into a certain sociological profile, taking offense at the mere mention of a name, and a 1500 year old one at that.  To these endarkened individuals, I want to say: get out of your own way.  But, mind you, they are also likely young, unworldly, certainly unwise, and poor.  That combination in any person, anywhere is likely to produce frustration. In some it is followed by violence.

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I feel no less frustration when I hear about them, than I do at people like Timothy McVeigh or skinheads or David Duke and his followers or scheming radio talkshow hosts who incite stupid people to hate and fear.

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The two are intertwined in my mind because just this morning Geoffrey put the last of our guests on a plane, finally.  It has been almost a month of disrupted schedules and outlaying thousands of dollars to feed, house, entertain and even clothe the various relatives that flowed through our doors this season.  All to have some of the extended circle make our lives more difficult by bringing up the inevitable emotional stew that every family simmers in this time of year, it seems.

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When Geoffrey drove down the street with this particular female relative, I couldn’t wait to see the last of her. Here on the very heels of my favorite group — who come and contribute joy and laughter — came someone who, at 79, might as well have been born in the 7th century. For one week I had to hear the largely disinformed position she holds on just about every topic. She literally arrived talking and I could see her yakking at Geoff as they pulled away.  I don’t think she stayed quiet for any time other than when she was asleep (10 hours from midnight to mid-morning, thereby throwing my schedule off completely the whole time, and with no recognition of it, even though we kept hinting that we retire early because we get going by 4 am).  Not only did I have to endure hundreds of trivial anecdotes from her life in a rural part of another state, but I also had her insult me on a regular basis.  How? Well, let’s say I challenged one of her wackadoodle stories (like, both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama knowingly and secretly allowed Osama Bin Laden to get medical treatment in Florida.  To which I replied that Bin Laden had never been to the United States and got an angry retort that she had it on good authority, i.e., her church, etc.).  At one point as she dismissively turned away from me, she asked Geoffrey if “that girl ever shuts up”.  Nice.

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Later, when I suggested that Geoffrey’s sister has rolled him regarding a piece of property he and she inherited from this woman’s brother, she stood up and seethed, “I don’t appreciate you lecturing me on my niece!”. She also tartly reprimanded us for having been out of touch with her and her daughter (who lives in Apple Valley, hence, part of the reason she parked with us during the week, so we could shuttle her back and forth, since her daughter and husband work at odd hours) for several years, which she attributed to the fact that Geoffrey must have been into drugs, drink, or organized crime (I am not making this up! Who could?).  She and that witchy daughter of hers probably had an old, extinct email and cell for Geoffrey.  They never tried to contact me.  They just kibitzed among themselves drawing ridiculous and insulting conclusions.  When I told her so, she let me have it.

Sigh.

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On Christmas eve I had another of Geoffrey’s brothers tell me that I was of that generation that expects men to take care of us. Really? Does someone go through nine years of college and three degrees because they intend to be taken care of by a man? Does someone virtually give up her own career to help salvage a failed family business? Even foregoing a salary for several years when the budget was tight? Only this week have I gotten over fuming about that salvo!

OK, I admit it.  I am complaining.  These are minutiae compared with what Europeans are facing today with the prospect of pop-up attacks by childish fundamentalists on the rise.

But wait, there’s more.  Remember my brilliant idea of getting a Nikon D610 because it is not only a slight upgrade from my current camera to a full frame, but also because I could use my $3500 worth of current Nikkor lenses on the FX or DX bodies? What I failed to recognize is that when the DX lens, no matter how fine, is on an FX body, no matter how flexible, it crops the picture to the lesser size camera.  Luckily, Geoffrey got it at Samy’s in Pasadena.  Back it went last week and in its place he was forced to get me a D800, which doubled the price of my Christmas present.  I had to agree that I could not justify spending another dime on the new lenses that I will have to acquire to use it.  Not having a golden goose in the backyard, and having spent twice as much this Christmas as we had anticipated, I will not be using that camera in the near future. Bummer!

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Stay tuned … something new and different will likely emerge by next week. 😀

Images: Beth Byrnes archives — my week’s worth on Flickr

 

 

40 Comments on “As the world churns

  1. Wow. You’re a better person than I. I’m not sure I could have put up with a ‘house guest’ of that sort for any length of time- let alone as long as you did so.

    Happy you’re back to some relative quietude- at least of a physical sort, if not a mental/psychological. I know I’m still reeling from the events of yesterday. Thank you for linking to my oh-so-wordy thoughts. I can’t get past my exasperation at people who believe in these ‘backward philosophies’. Each and every one of them.

    Here’s hoping that 2015 starts looking up. xo

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  2. People who are rude directly in front of you must be not invited again. I really believed this article when I turned 50 that some people are such drags on your energy that you should disconnect with them, since “Life is too shoirt…” to put up with such horrible behavior. I gave up one of my “Debby Downer” friends of nearly 40 years. She still runs into people who know me and asks about me, I just simply told her we were on ‘different paths in life.’ I hope you Geoffrey at least stands up for you, Beth!
    I am one who believes in open-ness and really have problems with some religious zealots… we are in agreement on this! The world has gone mad, I think. Many terrible disasters around the world, it seemed happened recently.
    I love the photos of the spider! My grandson, not too long ago, and I went on a ‘flashlight walk’ and I caught a spider in its web with the light on the web. My grandson found the ‘coolest’ picture was of him holding his flashlight upward into his chin, making him look eerie and kind of like a Jack-o-lantern. He is going to be 6 in February. It is weird that I have followed you for awhile but rarely are your posts in my reader. I opened my email box (which literally has 1000’s of email notifications) and there you were on the top of my pile to read, so there you go, reconnected once again. . . smiles, Robin

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    • Yeah, I have ended a couple of relationships this year, feeling, ‘enough is enough’. Geoffrey stands up for me to a point. He is so steeped in diplomacy in that madhouse of a big family, that he doesn’t do it quite as I would like. I have to take him aside and coach him so he doesn’t sound like he is merely a neutral moderator. She was rude, pure and simple, to my face, as you point out and on top of incredible hospitality that I largely engineered. Never again! I am so glad we are reconnected Robin. It is hard to keep all the people we want to communicate with in our minds and when mailboxes fail, well, we cannot take offense. xo (PS, that little boy sounds soooo cute! I can’t wait until Annabelle is that age. She is already like a little professor at 3 1/2!).

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  3. Oh Beth you are so awesome 🙂 Honestly I think you rock. What little family I have are each wonderful in their own way and I enjoy every single one. But you know the torturous life I had with my “crazy” mother and I view the anniversary of her death as a date comparable to, oh maybe Flag Day or something. Thanksgiving or Christmas might be a little extreme but a lower profile holiday is appropriate. I endured insults and irrational behavior for too many years all the while trying to be a responsible, albeit emotionally distant, son. So when you describe your family exercises I laugh with the greatest sympathy 🙂

    I’ve thought a lot about the events in Paris and I’ve been very saddened by the tragic loss of innocent life. And I’m disgusted beyond belief with the P’sOS (plural) that carry out the terrible deeds. The frustrating thing is that I see no rational way to solve the problems they view as worthy of death. Certainly they love their prophet and rightfully so, but he doesn’t mean a thing to the rest of us. Other than he was probably a good man unlike those who cowardly kill in his name. And we each have had our personal beliefs slighted in someway or another that can hurt feelings. I get that being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Over the holidays I was studying some family history about my ancestors who were on the receiving end of Missouri State Governor Liliburn Boggs who issued the Extermination Order for all Mormons living in Missouri in 1838. I had several family members killed by mobs and all had their homes and belongings burned and ransacked. But why carry that as a grudge? It only hurts me and besides this was 175 years ago! I can’t imagine holding hatred for others for millennia and wanting all infidels killed. Whew, I can’t stay mad at my grumpy tax clients for that long!

    So I guess it’s hard to have caricatures of sacred things published but for satirical cartoonists and writers nothing is sacred and if it’s offensive we just look away and move on to more positive images or stories. But I don’t think that kind of rational will ever work with the Islamic terrorists we see all around the world. In the meantime I have confidence in the 2nd Battalion 7th Marine Regiment 1st Marine Division and I hope they reduce the number of terrorists for the rest of us.

    Before I go I needed to thank you for including the cute bum picture amongst all the spiders. Whether you were thinking of me or not, I appreciate it. Maybe I’ll even zoom one of your spider photos in the future.

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    • It is good of you to take the time to comment so thoughtfully, Rick. I am going to come back and give you a more appropriate response after we run said relative’s leftover items out to Geoff’s cousin. I agreed to go along as long as he lets us hop up to Wrightwood (keep your fingers crossed for snow so I can roll around in it). Then I will come back, much happier and more peaceful, and address your excellent points with a clearer head!

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    • OK, here I am again, post-Wrightwood, where I am happy to report, there was snow. I will be posting pictures eventually.

      The bums baffle me. I don’t see any there that are too appealing. They were simply around the day we hit the spider pavilion, LOL. But hey, if it makes you happy …

      When 9/11 occurred and I had my run in with one of the 19 terrorists, I ran out and bought a bunch of books on Islamists. One of those was something like A Thousand Years for Revenge. These people consider any insult to be permanent. They have no sense of humor about themselves and zero self-awareness. Since they are also young, male and hormonal, they are very, very dangerous. I sure hope you are right about the Marines. What is to stop them from slaughtering us ad hoc on the streets of America?

      They shouldn’t take offense, but rather, simply turn away and ignore the insults, as you suggest. That is what mature people do. But, clearly, they are not mature.

      Frankly, I think they use Islam and the prophet as an excuse. They are frustrated, disillusioned, confused and angry. It is a Hatfield/McCoy thing. They just have to have someone to blame for their misery and yet they could just stop feeling sorry for themselves. Who wouldn’t love France, a socialist country that offers all kinds of perks. I did hear they were orphaned at a young age. That might help explain some of it. And they are not French, as the media is fond of saying. How ridiculous it is to consider them Frenchmen. I know the French. They are lovers, not haters.

      As for family — these people are in-laws, thank the gods they are not my blood relatives. They are narrow-minded, ignorant snobs. Typical nouveau riche and the fact that I am from NY and progressive makes them fairly itch to take me down a peg or two every chance they get. I am dedicated to making those opportunities as few as possible. It puts Geoff in a bind, though, which is a shame.

      You endured a lot with your mother Rick and that wasn’t right. It is wonderful that your own family is so nice and you all love each other, clearly.

      As for what Mormons endured, it sounds like a domestic holocaust. I didn’t realize that they were treated this way. Despicable! I am going to read about it more so I can understand.

      Thank you so much for giving all this to think about while I was avoiding slushy, dirty snow in the mountains! ❤

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  4. So happy that you’re back to normal now your house guests have gone, I sometimes wish we had rewind to show people how rude they were 😊. As for Paris you’d have to be really brave to continue with such a high price to pay.

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    • Thank you Charlotte. I am so happy to have everyone gone now, even the ones I liked! We were really burning the candle on both ends, up early, in bed late and having to entertain and feed and chauffeur people every single day. Sheesh! As for Paris, hearing the news just now and getting a better picture of these thugs, I really feel sorry for the French. They have 5,000 known terrorists living in France and only a few people to track them. What a horror.

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  5. I’m in agreement with the other comments. So I can’t add much more than what has been so eloquently said. I am glad said relative is not entering through your doors anymore. I’m glad to see that you have the strength to write about it, for she would be ever so tiresome and annoying! What a bloody cheek, saying what she did to you, in your own home. Life will return to some sort of normality now hopefully. More power to you hun. ☺️ x

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    • Jen, you are so supportive. I felt I had to write about it the minute she left. I couldn’t wait to get every trace of her gone and then discovered she left clothing to be stored at her daughter’s. Yet another trip to take care of something for her after she gave me a hard time. But that was it, never again. I can chalk some of this up to her age and era, but rude is rude and I cannot think of a single thing I have done to deserve it. I can now see I am getting my Irish up again, LOL! No more guests for awhile! xoxo

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        • You are so right, Jen. I should have done that but Geoffrey wanted to take things back himself so they couldn’t accuse us of having kept or lost them. Given their attitudes they apparently think we are outlaws, LOL!

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  6. First of all, I believe “as the stomach churns” was a spoof soap opera on The Carol Burnett show, and I do believe Carol and Harvey and Tim et al would have had a field day writing skits about the InFirm. Holy cow, woman! Some of them truly are horrendous. I was under the mistaken impression that you were getting to escape from ALL of it this time around, but I see that was not the case. So sorry.

    I don’t know about this 2015 business either. Not off to an auspicious beginning, or it just more of the same, and the date doesn’t matter?

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    • Oh man, I had no idea! Geeze, I might have been more successful writing sitcoms. Who knew. Yeah, I would love someone to make a movie out of all this. Truth stranger than fiction. Somehow I attract this. I did avoid a lot of the events during Christmas at their houses, but with people staying with me, somehow the boom came down anyway. Not Al, Deanna and Anna — they were great. But every time we had to be with the InFirm, there was some sort of problem. Even on Geoff’s birthday — it poured cats and dogs and the 45 minute trip took two hours, so we were late, because as usual we had to have it at a restaurant in their part of LA, not conveniently in ours. His family simply went ahead and ate, and some of them left before we arrived. Can you believe these people? I don’t think I can take another tough year, so let’s hope this was a fluke. Thank you! xo

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      • Well I don’t think you’re ‘attracting’ any of it. I don’t see how you could go any more out of your way than you already have for these folks. You don’t attract it, they project it. For some reason they have chosen to project onto you, but trust me if for some reason you just left entirely, they’d target someone else and keep on keeping on!

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        • Well, now that David is married to Laura, they love to use Vanessa, his ex, as a whipping girl. They were just jealous. Laura is chubby so they can feel superior. I think Greta and Heidi were totally intimidated by Van. Laura is so young and eager to be married that she fawns all over them to the point of embarrassment. If she ever got her ego together and glammed up, they would probably start in on her too.

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          • Well, I guess you could always gain weight…? Maybe just wear a fatsuit to family gatherings. In fact, David Sedaris has a hilarious story about his sister Amy doing just that. Her father always criticized her for eating too much, saying she was going to get fat, so one day before going over to visit she put on a fatsuit and tormented him for hours. Sweet revenge!

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            • It is funny you say that. One of my SILs struggles with her weight and is always commenting that I must be sickly to stay so thin. She was wearing a completely inappropriate teenager outfit of leggings with a billowy top at Christmas. I had to clap my hand over my mouth to keep from blurting something inappropriate out when I saw it. They would LOVE it if I were to blimp up. L-O-L!!!

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  7. Wonderful post. As per Rick Smith, I have to laugh in sympathy with all your travails.
    I’ve known “ladies” such as you so vividly described. I laugh in their face rather than
    mutter another word well beyond their comprehension. You’ll manage 2015 just fine.

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    • Thank you Bob. It really helps me to write about it because, after spending late night hours chewing Geoff’s ear off about this situation, I start to feel like a real shrew and then feel very guilty. Especially since his aunt is elderly. It feels like kicking a baby. It is therapeutic to write about it and see if I am actually crazy or if this is justified! I appreciate your support!

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  8. ps: I really appreciated / agreed on your analysis of the Charlie Hebdot tragedy .
    Might we see an opinion on how this “problem” might be solved or mitigated to
    everybody’s advantage ?

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    • Bob, I don’t think there is any immediate solution other than having the cameras, police personnel — trained to handle potential terrorist acts like these — and cracking down on the radical Imams who preach violence, divisiveness and hatred from their podiums. Apparently these brothers were radicalized in that manner, by attending a mosque with extremist admonitions week in and week out. In my opinion, these should not be allowed.

      Long term, using the internet to promote the countervailing philosophy and give hope to these disaffected young men might help. But now that this phenomenon has taken hold, that will be a slow and only partially effective measure. It would have been better to prevent this in the first place. Given what is going on, can we blame people for being inimical to open immigration?

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    • Further thoughts, as we learn about the broader problem, the “cell” these terrorist brothers belonged to, their accomplices, including another Algerian-French citizen, a woman:

      France has to stop releasing known agitators and terrorists after serving short sentences.

      The Qaeda/AQAP/ISIS recruiters have to be banned from Europe.

      These brothers were on a US no fly watch-list, and they were known to French authorities. Yet, because in part they pass as being “French” citizens, they were not monitored properly or extradited to their country of origin. The latter would be my solution.

      Too bad if they think that is unfair. Enough with the bleeding heart sentiments, as far as I am concerned.

      They also targeted a Kosher grocery store just before Shabat. That was no coincidence.
      I am sick of it and sick at heart about it.

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  9. I think you should invite them for every holiday, film the antics and make that sitcom and a fortune in the process. That would be sweet revenge. And the ‘stars’ could get to see themselves in action.
    Although, that’s where your post came in. That defies all logic and reason. Apparently, there is just no way to communicate with certain people if their minds are closed.

    Chin up, Beth, now that you have your home back and let’s pray that all sorts of people take a moment to look at themselves and question motive and method.

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    • There has to be a way to monetize these ridiculous pickles I find myself in, no? LOL! She told Geoffrey at the airport that she had “a wonderful time”, with absolutely no idea that she had been inappropriate or rude at all! Thank you Anne-Marie xo.

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  10. You paint a vivid picture, Beth, and I sympathize. I have a relative such as the lady you describe; it’s a trial because I see her regularly. Why is it that the people with the least (intelligent) things to say speak them so loudly? Oh well… pat yourself on the back for surviving it all with your sanity and marriage intact – and carry on. (I like A-M’s idea re filming it all… can’t you see the rellies gathered round to take it in;) Have a super 2015!

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    • Thank you Vera. G. and I were just discussing it. No more efforts from me on her behalf, no more cards, gifts, emails, gestures and definitely no more visits. Life is too short. Things should get better now that this ‘ordeal’ is over. 🙂 xo

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  11. First I’m amazed your able to write this and your not in jail for offing that nasty woman ugh Id tell her hat for the first day she did something like that to me and kicked her no good ass out of my house.

    Secondly the shit that is happening all over the place with these people who unfortently for them dont know what is sane and what is not to go around killing people because they are not a fan of say the news paper or whatever is getting out of hand wheather they are linked to Isis or any religin is a little cray cray. And as far as islomic or however you spell it I read up on it ther eis nothing in it to say go kill people. Those people are just fucked up there really is no two ways about it. And they give everyone else who is apart of that religian a bad name since there not all bad people you know what I mean?.

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  12. Hi Beth,
    Sorry to hear that the holiday’s were stressful and all the blow ups to boot. Hopefully now that the holidays are behind us there will be more peace at your house and in yur mind.
    You weren’t kidding about the ‘churn’ but it’ll work itself out I just know it.
    Wishing you a wonderful relaxing weekend.

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    • Oh, thank you! Yes. For once, I am happy to see the last of Christmas — so unlike me. And, to have my house back to myself. The television tells me that the entire planet is reeling, not just me. We all need a vacay! xo

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