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2007-07-17 - 10:15 a.m.

..imagine...hurricane june....

I had a surreal experience this morning - I woke up at about 5:30am to hear the John Lennon song "Imagine" broadcast through the park across the street. That was it. Just the one song, played at morning twilight, in a soft rain. It was rather loud, and quite odd, but actually very peaceful.


My brother-in-law's family has been visiting us since July 7th. Up to now, I've been trying to avoid writing about the hurricane known as my sister-in-law. They are currently away on a visit to Seattle, because June wanted to see the art museum there. This means that we are enjoying a couple of days of peace away from her demanding, sulky, controlling behavior.

It is sad to have such a strong negative reaction to someone, but I have been truly amazed by her level of total self-centeredness. She really thinks of no one but herself.

WHISTLER: One day she asked me where I had bought my necklace - and I told her that I had found it while visiting Whistler. She then decided - at 11:30am - that she wanted her husband to drive her to Whistler Village and back (4.5 hrs of driving) and sulked and stormed out of the house when he said no. A similar incident occurred over her day trip plans to Banff - a mere 9-hour drive in each direction.

THE MUSEUM: On Saturday, she wanted her husband to drive her to a museum that is an hour and a half round trip for him - but he had already made other plans with K - these are in fact the ONLY plans that the brothers have made with each other. We suggested that she take a bus or a taxi, but she wouldn't hear of it. Instead she sulked at home until her husband returned; she sulked through lunch and refused to say a word to us, and then ultimately her husband drove her off to the museum. At this point I couldn't stand being around her any longer, so I stayed home.

DINNER PLANS: We had discussed having dinner together that same evening, but instead she bought fast food frozen fish and chips which she cooked in the kitchen for herself and Jeremy (my nephew). So much for planning dinner together.

THE PAPAYA: As she walked past the many fruit stands on the drive, she was reminded of eating papayas everyday as a child. K suggested she stop and buy one. Instead, she waited until she came home and then sent her husband back out to buy one for her (he had no idea where they were, and had to execute a minor search for the right fruit stand). The newly bought papaya then sat with the other fruit for days. I finally asked her if it was ripe enough to eat, and she informed me that it was too rotten to eat now. So...instead of removing her freakin' ROTTEN fruit, she left it to mildew all over the other fresh fruit that we had bought, until WE cleaned up after her.

This is another theme: CLEANING. I understand that house guests are not expected to clean at all...but she is the ONLY person in the house who does not contribute. Everyone else has participated in cooking, doing dishes, and even doing laundry. She is happy to sit back and let us serve her and clean up after her.

We did have a good time together on Sunday when we visited a local suspension bridge. I simply shut my ears through her elaborately detailed description of how awful her childbirth and emergency c-section were - how this was the most awful experience of her life. It is, after all, the type of conversation that every newly pregnant woman wants to hear.

Perhaps the most disturbing behavior is the way she tries to CONTROL JEREMY, her son. She's the only person I've ever met who allows the child 45 minutes at the children's museum, and then subjects him to FOUR HOURS of walking through an art museum, because that's what she wants to do. Whenever she doesn't want to do something, she blatantly lies, and uses the child as an excuse. My favorites were: "Jeremy doesn't like amusement parks." which she said because she rather wanted to go to the anthropology museum. And "Jeremy doesn't like ice cream." which she used because she didn't want the ice cream parlor to take any time away from her shopping in Chinatown.

She is loud and aggressive - not surprisingly our cats have resorted to permanent seclusion when they are here. In some instances, K and I follow the cats, because we are unable to listen anymore to the way that she talks at Jeremy. (Jeremy is not allowed to answer his own questions when she is around.)

The whole situation is just very sad for us. K is very close to his brother, and so we are trying very hard not to say anything bad about her. He has to know that she is a difficult person, and we see how she has completely manipulated their lives so that she gets everything she wants, while my brother-in-law does all the work. I feel terribly uncomfortable because I can feel my hackles up the whole time - I am trying very hard to be cordial and polite, although I fantasize about telling her what I really think...and then I cut the fantasy short because it would hurt my brother-in-law first.

ah, the joys of in-laws. The best thing is that, once the tension is past, K and I see at once how good we've got it together - what a natural pair we are, and how supremely lucky we are to have found such compatibility in life (even if it did happen later than most). The other joy is realizing what a supremely wonderful family I have in my parents and brother's family. I can honestly say that I like them all, and that in spite of their driving me crazy from time to time, I REALLY look forward to being with them. Sometimes, it just takes a hurricane to reinforce those thoughts.

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