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We Are Family

So we aren't getting our new roof started today, for the work has been washed out by the weather - but the roofers will begin bright and early tomorrow. Frankly, I'm kind of relieved. Don't get me wrong: I'm looking forward to having that job out of the way, but right now I could really use a day off to recover from this past weekend.

It was a busy weekend. The kind that requires a good long nap (or two, or three) and a good stiff drink (or two, or three). For you see, my cousin Chelsea graduated from college.

That may sound like cause for celebration, for there is now a new nurse out there in the world! And yes, it's a joy to be sure - but it also means that my mom's entire family came to town for the event.

And now a side note on my mom's family. When I say "everyone" I mean the following: my family matriarch grandma; my grandma's little sister; my mom; my sister, her husband, and her toddler son; my mom's sister #1; sister #1's four kids (including the graduate herself) plus sister #1's oldest son's daughter and youngest son's wife and son; my mom's sister #2 and sister #2's three kids, plus her daughter's husband and infant son.

By my count, that's about twenty people - all converging upon Tennessee.

Now, let's be real - under the best of circumstances, managing twenty people staying in five different locations around town for two days would be An Undertaking; but if you've ever had any passing encounters with these people, then you're probably laughing your ass off right now.

(Dad, I'm looking at you.)

Even the most ordinary task can devolve into a math/logic problem rejected by the SAT board on the grounds of BULLSHIT nothing that ridiculous would EVER HAPPEN.

SO LET US SAY prospective college student that you have people in need of lunch. Your party contains several vegetarians, a vegan(?), someone who violently loathes red Italian sauce, one person who eschews garlic with the vehemence of a vampire, and a large number of people who keep kosher.* Therefore Italian food is problematic, seafood is largely off the table, BBQ is right out - and you need to find a place that will host an indeterminate two-digit number of people because one branch of the family is participating in passive-aggressive feud-type behavior and may flounce off. There was a big fight a few years ago - death threats, gun quests, and a visit from the swat team on Thanksgiving. No one will mention it, because it upsets Grandma.

NOW let's say you have only five cars. But three of those cars have one seat occupied by car seats or booster seats, at least two are so full of luggage that their capacity is compromised; in addition to this, one of the older ladies is mobility impaired, and cannot get in and out of vehicles without the assistance of at least one strapping man - but there are only a fixed number of men to go around.

NEW PROBLEM: One person has other people's luggage in his car, but he has to take off for the airport before the family convenes for food after the graduation ceremony. Whose car can hold the extra luggage (for the people who are NOT headed for the airport) and take over passenger duties now that we're one car (and only two warm bodies) short? Can arrangements be made to swap the luggage before the ceremony ends and the crowds let out - when everyone tries to leave the parking garage at once? HINT: The two vehicles needing to make this exchange are parked a couple of blocks apart. Have fun with that.

EXTRA CREDIT: No one over the age of fifty can hear very well, half the people with cell phones aren't answering them at any given point in time thanks to service issues in the conference center, and no one has made reservations in advance.

HONOR ROLL: No one knows where to find the graduate in the crowd of thousands at the convention center, due partly to lack of planning, and partly to the extra credit complications.

NEXT: Your head count for lunch remains uncertain, but someone needs to pick a place and make reservations NOW. A cousin and his wife - let us call them Red Leader Team - commit to finding a food-place that will take us all. They look up likely phone numbers and make calls, even though their son has pooped his pants (I think?) and now they're headed off-site with the Bonus! luggage to try and maybe put everyone down on a waiting list someplace. Can you and your sibling/remaining cousins cat-herd the rest of the family and (a). figure out how to get perhaps as many as fifteen people into three cars? (b). nail down that head count, for that matter, (c). make sure you have one Strapping Lad, so you can get mobility-impaired aunt in and out of your vehicle, and (d). track down the graduate somewhere in the convention center?

GOOD LUCK. Oh, by the way - coordinate this from the ceremony itself, whispering back and forth down two aisles of people, some of whom more or less refuse to talk to one another, and some of whom are absent - walking fussy babies who have had it up to HERE with all this sitting still and being quiet ... while everyone around you glares, hisses for you to SHUT UP, and generally hates you. You totally feel them.

HINTS: Once you've retrieved your vehicle, you have as little as 2-3 minutes to complete the task of loading all pertinent parties and securing them, for you will be evacuating from not-exactly-a-loading zone that blocks a lane of traffic, otherwise the Itty Bitty Biddy Committee will be forced to exit through the expansive, crowded, winding halls of the conference center and this will not happen any sooner than oh, say, June. So, really I guess you have however long it takes the cops to notice what you're doing. Should you accomplish this particular feat without being ticketed or arrested, you must get them on the road and await word from Red Leader Team - while hard-of-hearing people repeatedly make cell phone calls from your vehicle to other vehicles, primarily to ask "What's going on? Where are we going? Who's in charge here?" and you give up answering them, in favor of just driving them to a location and trusting that one way or another, everyone will find some-goddamn-thing to eat wherever Red Leader Team has found enough seats to hold them all.

DEAN'S LIST: Upon locating the graduate, you find that she's retrieved her boyfriend and he (a). has no ride back to campus, and (b). will be joining the family for after-commencement food-times. How will he accompany you?

(Teacher's edition answer: Your sister will rock out and save his day - he will ride shotgun in her car, with the graduate sitting on his lap ... so that one was kind of a trick question. This arrangement holds until it's time for everyone to part ways, because the graduate and her mother - plus Red Leader Team - are going back to Atlanta and literally could not bring him unless he was folded in half and shoved in sideways. Then you notice that you will be bereft of strapping lads to help elderly ladies in and out of cars, and you still have to take them back to their hotel and load up their room - and you tell the boyfriend [a lovely fellow, mind you] that if he'll share the back seat with your mom and grandma, you'll take him home. And then you use him for his good-natured strappingness, for it will become his job to load the car with the ladies' hotel room contents and also to lift older ladies in and out of SUVs.)

Gentle readers, this was just four hours on Sunday.

I just ... I can't even. I mean, look - it's always great to see everyone, and of course I love them all dearly; but it makes for an exhausting couple of days, and I wasn't looking forward to spending the next three days getting up at 7:00 a.m. for roofing work and/or some work on the garage (which coincidentally overlaps the roof work a bit).

So I say all that to say this: Today I am trying to relax, and tonight I am going to bed early. Tomorrow morning bright and early, I'll relocate the hanging flower baskets which have become bird nest baskets ... thirty feet away, to the dogwood tree in the front yard - where it is to be hoped the mother-birds will follow. (The eggs haven't hatched yet.)

When all is said and done, we'll have a new roof - and we won't have to worry about it for another 25 years. We'll also have a garage that functions as something more useful than a shed, and we'll once again have the peace and quiet I so cherish.

But that won't be until Thursday at the soonest. So don't expect word counts or anything.

Something tells me, they aren't gonna happen.
[:: collapses ::]

* We were raised SDA, but not all of us remain in the church, cough cough.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 7th, 2013 12:03 am (UTC)
Haha. If I didnt know better, I would swear you were related to my inlaws! Hope you get some much deserved rest and a tasty adult beverage:)
May. 7th, 2013 12:53 am (UTC)
That's such an exhausting-sounding experience that I'm ready to hop in the car and show up at your house with a bottle of bourbon, because you totally deserve it. I think all family events have that sort of dysfunction and chaos to some degree, but this really takes the cake. (The red velvet cake, I'm guessing.)

In other news, if Chelsea's boyfriend didn't flee in the middle of all this, he's a keeper!

(Also, isn't Chelsea about 15? :-P)
May. 7th, 2013 01:15 am (UTC)
Oh. My.

May. 7th, 2013 01:16 am (UTC)
Oh, my. About all I can say, is: "0_0"
May. 7th, 2013 01:59 am (UTC)
I sincerely hope you got some time in quiet isolation today and did NOTHING.
May. 7th, 2013 03:18 am (UTC)
HAHAHAHA! Oh, I know I shouldn't laugh. This all sounds like a bunch of friends and colleagues attempting to go out to dinner at Comic Con. When some mysteriously break out of that hopelessness, they just get absorbed into another clueless dinner group -- unless they run away very fast. And you didn't have that option.

"There was a big fight a few years ago - death threats, gun quests, and a visit from the swat team on Thanksgiving. No one will mention it, because it upsets Grandma." Oh, there must be some kind of amazing book or story in there - maybe more than one!
May. 7th, 2013 03:56 am (UTC)
yikes. just... yikes. makes the pre-wedding plans going on in my family (niece is getting married) look like a walk in the park. nonetheless, it's a scary park. (one day, we should compare family war stories. what is it with thanksgiving and weapons, anyway?)

still... no advanced algebra has been required. so far.

my sympathy. [hugs]
May. 7th, 2013 06:56 am (UTC)
Chinese Food.

Hey, in my family, at least 3 people are armed most of the time, there is always some personal conflict between certain family members, Grandma was a lot meaner that folks gave her credit for, and we are nothing but entertaining when we get together.
May. 7th, 2013 03:36 pm (UTC)
Good Grief. My brain locked up at Vegan Kosher - I think the most complicated my family ever got was how to pull of Thanksgiving in a Kosher home (turns out "removes" make it all work - meat never hits the table in the same course as anything with dairy in it, the rest works itself out ;>).

You are Legion! Now relax, with a Julip on your veranda!
May. 7th, 2013 03:47 pm (UTC)
You need quiet, tea and cuddle time with the furry four-legged. :)

I am still attempting to figure out the keeps kosher side of your family!
May. 8th, 2013 04:20 pm (UTC)
Go spend a week in New England, then you can pretend it's tainted your politeness and just pick a place that will seat everyone. The vegans can get a salad and think about their life choices and the passive aggressive can just deal because they didn't participate. I'm in the middle of wedding planning for two families that can only be dealt with by informing them of plans and leaving it up to them to make it, otherwise one will be a half hour early, order off menu, and complain about the service, the other will be two hours late, and you can flip a coin to see if they've already eaten.
May. 19th, 2013 06:33 pm (UTC)
Sounds about like my graduation a couple weeks ago with all the family and friends.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )