Sunday, November 25, 2012

My First NC Thanksgiving as a Married Woman, Some Travel Tips for the Non-Southerners & Life Updates

After over 6 years of marriage, I finally got to take my husband to NC for Thanksgiving dinner with my family. Seriously, because my husband has a worthless union and the same managers took the same holidays EVERY SINGLE YEAR since time began, we had no chance of me ever getting to see my family for a major holiday unless I went by myself.

I don't know about you but me personally, I feel that if you've got a spouse you actually care about you don't go off by yourself to see your family for the holidays. That's what I did when I was single & we were dating; it's a different story if you're happily married. I'd actually miss my husband & be very unpleasant to be around if I didn't get to spend a major holiday with him. Plus, I do tend to get hit on if I do things by myself & who needs that headache?

Finally, you can't underestimate the advantage of moral support if you're essentially a stranger in a strange land like I am in NC. Let me spend time around folk who aren't trying to play fashion police on me or demanding me to be an old frump for the sake of their kids.

Our journey takes place in the small town of Lexington, NC. My mom finally got her dream home out in the middle of nowhere but because of my sister's housing situation, we were placed in a hotel. This hotel was awesome & for more reasons than one.

For one thing, we got an upgrade to a suite since there were no rooms we had booked that were available for our full stay of one week. I called it the "rock star suite" since we had our own fold out couch & a table with chairs as well as a HUGE tub & shower in a decent sized bathroom (if you saw our bathroom at home & bathrooms in NYC generally, you'd agree with me on this). The water pressure there was also the best I've encountered at any hotel, probably better than what we have at home. Oh, and when they'd told my family they pride themselves on their cleanliness they weren't kidding. Our room was pristine!

They also had an eating facility that was open even when the local restaurants weren't. I didn't eat anything there but I liked the convenience factor. We were also near a dollar store, a grocery store, a few gas stations & a lot of stuff. You could feel the train come in on occasion but being on the third floor, it never bothered me in the morning. I only felt it once when my husband told me about it & I felt some shaking in the bed; it just felt like we had a vibrating bed for a moment.

One of my reasons for visiting was to see my niece & nephews. I'm childfree but I don't want these kids not knowing who I am or being influenced by me. I view it as one of my life duties to influence those kids. Heck, my niece looks just like me so as a rule she's got to have some influence from me. I told my mom & sister I'd be making sure my mini-me didn't let anyone push her around or treat her badly. She cried some but I'd find her making noise, talk to her and if she wasn't hungry or in the dark, she'd stop crying and just look at me. She'd also make some noise on occasion like she was trying to talk to me. Having a grown version of her apparently captivated her attention; at least, that's what my family told me.

My younger nephew, though, is totally my sister's kid in the sense that he's a screamer & largely non-verbal. He's sort of known as the problem child. My father's even started calling him "Chuckie" (from the Child's Play series if you don't get the reference; he's not a redhead or afraid of everything like the Rugrats character). Being around that kid & the constant screaming he did (forget my sister even going to the bathroom; he'd scream & bang on the door and stick his feet under like a cat) makes me even more staunchly childfree. He's getting checked out soon for his issues but being around small kids is STILL exhausting & my husband doesn't do well with screaming kids since he gets headaches from that stuff.

He spent more time with my sister's oldest kid, who's 9 & said I was his favorite. That kid is the one who apparently acts most like me since he's like a 20 year old living in a 9 year old's body. My husband was bugging him with tickle attacks & I said he should be nice to my nephew since he'll very likely be taller than my husband when he's a teenager. My sister's hoping for that anyway since she'd like a kid to play basketball for UNC-Chapel Hill.

My younger nephew might have a shot as a wrestler if he keeps his form & demeanor.

Let me tell you, visiting kids is not the same as having them & I'm more than happy to not deal with it. My mother even said that anyone trying to pressure me to have kids or who thought I should was stupid since I pointed out I couldn't handle what my sister is doing in caring for her 2 small kids. I wouldn't have the patience & those kids would end up wearing duct tape as a permanent fashion accessory. Give me a sick cat any day!

Years ago, I thought about what it would be like doing my sister's life instead of being in law school & I felt law school was much easier than being a single parent (this was shortly after her first husband died & my older nephew was himself a little kid, though not a screamer or as difficult).

Thanksgiving itself was fun. My husband got to have Honeybaked Ham (a tradition at my family's along with turkey, homemade pumpkin pie & so forth; he never gets it at any of his family members' homes) though he didn't get to have more Italian fare like we would if we'd gone to his parents' house instead. He also didn't have my mother complaining about cooking; she just got annoyed when she couldn't find things at the store & when the turkey didn't come out to suit her (thought I didn't have any issue with it & my older nephew told her it was good). Overall, my husband said he was thrilled to do Thanksgiving someplace else since he didn't have to deal with his family's drama. My family certainly has drama, don't get me wrong, though I didn't get into any big fights with my sister. My husband pointed this out to me later & said we'd matured. I said "No, I just didn't want to be an asshole having fights in the presence of my younger nephew." Consideration after my former friend decided to have her little outburst in front of her 4 year old.

Guess that brings one to the deadbeat report: basically, my former friend is still doing the same shit & her former husband has already found someone else. Good for him, except he's neglecting their kid & epitomizing the term "deadbeat dad." I don't think kids deserve to be blamed for the conduct of their parents or punished for their parents' sins, real or perceived. That's a huge reason I'll get nasty if you ask me things about my parents & use that to make judgements about me or my "status" in your eyes.

Imagine if we blamed everyone for what their parents did or the financial status/family name of their parents: most of us would be in prison & the permanent underclass would be much larger. At the very least, a lot of people would be societal outcasts. Just because someone's parents are scumbags doesn't mean that person became a scumbag as well. Some of us actually learned something from our childhood experiences & had as much contempt for things our parents did as anyone else. Some of us bothered to take steps NOT to be like our parents. I'm an individual, damn it! Judge me on my OWN merits, not that of my family members (especially the ones I don't even talk to or wouldn't piss on if they were on fire). That's how I judge others.

We also got to spend time with my husband's aunt & uncle. This was fun since we didn't go anyplace featuring heavy, greasy food and on Friday, got to go to a tea. It was my first actual one (unless you count the one I planned for my sorority with some help from the member who came up with the idea in the first place; I was told I did a good job, though I felt the credit should have gone to the previous Collegiate/Alumnae Liaison who'd suggested it & graduated before she could execute it). The food & tea were great and the venue was fantastic; in fact, I'd like to do it again sometime.

So, if you're going to travel to the South here are some tips:

1. Try to avoid taking the toll road if you can. Yes, there's a way to get there from NYC without having to pay tolls after leaving NYC. You can't really do this in the winter time but in the spring or summer, you will want to handle it this way.

2. The cuisine in the South is VERY heavy & greasy. Seriously, if you didn't grow up there or you're going after being away from there for years you're going to feel it. I have when I've gone back. There are things I really can't eat anymore or have to eat in limited quantities.

This probably answers the question of why so many Southerners are hell bent on controlling the sex lives of others: little children as well as greasy cuisine are massive libido killers. It made me wonder how I managed to have a functional sex life when I lived down there. Maybe it's because I lived in Atlanta so I had more options. Or my body had adapted to being in all this pain on frequent occasions. Funny thing is once you're down there a while, your body can adapt to it.

However, if you can I strongly suggest getting home cooking. It's less greasy unless, of course, everyone you know who cooks down there drowns everything in lard. When I had Thanksgiving dinner, my stomach didn't feel so bad like it had when we'd had to live off food we got from many places down there. Try to find the non-greasy fare if you can't get home cooking.

3. Make sure you get a hotel room that has a fridge & at least a microwave. I would have liked an oven but at least we could go to the grocery store & get some staples so we didn't have to eat out every single day. When you're a kid, eating out everyday sounds like a good idea. In reality, though, you will start to feel like crap after about 2-3 days. If you don't, you've either got a cast iron stomach or some kind of weird health condition I think I'd rather not know about.

I guess part of my experience is my whole prior baggage of living there. Maybe I'd view the area differently if I hadn't grown up there & had the childhood I did.

Oh, and if you saw my article in the latest New York County Lawyers newsletter, thanks for reading. If you didn't, go here & find it on page 12.

I also got named to be the Subcommittee Chair of Entertainment & Media for the eMIPS committee there (which is short for Entertainment, Media, Intellectual Property & Sports). This came as a total shock since I figured an unconventional type like me had no chance but apparently that whole thing worked this time. Shocked? I certainly am since I'm not the typical bar association leader & it sort of epitomizes my whole making the field fit me instead of conforming to someone else's rules.

I'm using it to my advantage & have my own ideas for things. Just have to talk to some more of my creative peeps before I formalize what I have. As far as I'm concerned, you don't assume what people want & should ask directly. I know what I've seen & how I want to make my mark so instead of making assumptions on what people want or need, I figured it was better to ask directly. Lawyers are in a service industry & if you're in a service industry, you're supposed to be giving the people what THEY want. If you don't, you're messing up big time & will screw yourself in the long run.

Retailers who don't have what I want or listen to my feedback? I don't waste my time on them. This isn't rocket science; it's common sense. We have the Internet & I have happily gone there to buy things I'd buy at a local store if they only bothered to carry them (like a long skirt slip I needed for this long white skirt I have that's totally see through otherwise). Plus, you can't complain if you're part of the problem.

Now to follow up on this job opportunity I interviewed for, do some writing tasks & generally get used to being back in my home with my kitty and in my city. One sign that you belong somewhere is that when you come back, you feel like kissing the ground & hugging people out of happiness. We'll see if my cynicism will still be warranted or not. At the very least, I have a game plan if I didn't get that opportunity.

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