Monday, May 26, 2008

memorial day bbq with the parents, sans B

Oh where to even start talking about what happened yesterday.

Got lost on the way to my parents house, as I think this may be the first time I have ever driven there. So in the end it took about 2 and a half hours to drive there.
I was the first 'guest' to arrive, as my family has a perpetual lateness problem. I got there just in time to see my brother (the non-religious one, the other one is in Israel for the year) leave for work about 5 minutes after I got there. So for a while it was just me and my parents. My mom put me to work carrying things around and making sauces for the chicken legs. I brought her some books for a book donation thing she is doing, and she gave me a bunch of books that she was going to donate, but that I asked her to save for me (including a heck of a lot Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Ursela Leguin books that I grew up reading).

She only made one comment about B. I brought a cooler with me so that I can bring leftovers home (my mom always gives a ton of leftovers to people after these family gatherings, as she cooks enough for 4 bbqs), and she made a snarky comment about how I should only take enough leftovers for myself, because she doesn't want to be feeding people I live with.

Spent most of the day hanging out with my cousins on my dad's side of the family, and their 3 kids, 2 of whom were infants the last time I saw them, and one of whom wasn't even born yet. They were cute, and I taught the 3 year old how to play catch.

Didn't mention anything about B to most of the extended family (although one of my cousin's knows I've been dating someone for a long time, but doesn't know he's not jewish). When asked how I got up there, and who's car it was I was driving, I said 'A friend's.'

Had an interesting discussion with my Aunt about Barack Obama- interesting to me, because her reason that she would never vote for him is because he "Is Black and Muslim". And also his wife is a jew hater apparently? We got into a whole argument about how he isn't Muslim, with my Aunt insisting that he is because his father was (and me insisting that his father was an Atheist, and that he wasn't raised by his father, and that he is clearly a Christian. She was having none of it). I countered with an argument about how the next president is going to be appointing a lot of supreme court nominees, and she kept saying that I was right, but I still don't think she is going to vote for Obama.

But I think this muslim argument is interesting..I was reading some article somewhere (don't remember where) about how Jewish people are convinced that Obama is Muslim, because they are very tied to the idea that religion is intergenerational, and that you are automatically the religion of your parents, while most other religions don't necessarily believe that. And B confirmed for me when I got home that most christians don't believe that, and pointed out the Bush family, where Bush sr. is Episcopalian, Bush Jr. is an evangelical born again United Methodist, and Jeb Bush is Catholic. Now I have no idea what the difference between those first two are, but I know catholics and protestants are definitely different religions (even if many put them all under "christian").

I also was regaled with a lovely story about how when my cousin's wife first visited Brooklyn (from Monsey where she grew up) she was confused about the Eruv, and was going to take things outside on shabbas!! Because apparently there IS an eruv is Brooklyn, which is good enough for the chassidim (and my other cousin's husband also follows it), but it's not good for my cousin's family's rav. And then my cousin's wife told me all about how she is trapped inside the house on Saturdays, because she now lives in Brooklyn, and can't carry the baby outside because there is no Eruv. Fascinating stuff!

Hmm, other highlights-
*Realizing that I was the only woman at the table over the age of 20 who is not a. married b. a mother AND c. a stay at home mother. And there were at least 7 other women there who were all of those things.

*When my Aunt started talking about how she has to marry off my other cousin soon, because she is 19 and ALMOST 20!! And her sister was already married by 20!! Oh Noes!! I pointed out that I'm turning 26 next week, and I'm not married yet (the implication there are you saying these things to me, as I clearly don't agree with those values? Or even if I do that implies that I can't find a husband, so would probably be insulting?) But she pointed out that my cousin isn't getting a phd like I am, so if you get a PhD apparently it's ok to not be married by age 20.

*My grandfather telling me how he hopes I meet a nice jewish boy soon (he doesn't know about B, and every time we meet up he tells me I should get married to a nice jewish boy soon)

My grandfather is cool though. At least, unlike most people in my family, he has a big appreciation for education, and was very impressed when I told him I have a publication coming out in August, and when I gave him a copy of my business card (which says "doctoral candidate" under my name, which he pointed out with pride). In fact, he spent like 10 minutes reading my business card and looking impressed, which was cool.

*My Aunt and Grandfather asked for a copy of my newest article, but I'm not sure if I want to send it to them, as it's about stay at home moms, and they might be a bit insulted by it (my mother took it as a personal insult when I started working on the project this article is based on, because she is a stay at home mom, and if I was not planning on being one, and writing an article about them, it must be because i don't approve of them. Or so she thinks. Also I point out structural constraints that lead to more women leaving the workforce, and apparently my mom is insulted by the insinuation that her behavior might not 100% be based on free will, and that structural constraints may exist in society. sigh.)

I ended up giving my dad a ride to the airport, after discussing it with B that morning (when my mom heard I was driving up there, she was like "Oh you can give your dad a ride to the airport on your way home!"). I made a point of noting that B knew I was giving them a ride in his car, that he was ok with it, and that this was all despite them refusing to meet him. My dad then spent the half hour car ride asking about what 'rules' we have for stuff like housework and money and me using his car, and talked about how that's similar or different to marriage. He was surprised that B does most of the housework around here, that B isn't resentful of that, and that whenever I try to do more of the housework, B insists that it's him who should do it. (all true, and partially due to me working 70 hour weeks and B insisting that since he works less hours he should do more than his fair share of the housework. Not that I don't do anything, but he definitely does more). I brought up the idea of my dad meeting B again (I don't think my mom is at that stage at all), and he said he doesn't want to condone our relationship, so I was all "it's clear to everyone involved that you don't approve. We get it. It's gotten. We all get it. You don't approve."

In the end my mom gave me some leftovers despite her earlier snark, and me and B had some lovely chicken legs, corn and watermelon when I got home later last night.


  1. All in all pretty good. Good for you. Just learn to not mind people talking about marrying off their children as no matter where you go people will say that. You just be happpy for them and do what you feel must be for you.

  2. ((people who value education))
    My poor dad, with his almost-32-and-still-single daughter. lol. I don't think most of the people in his current life know I exist. On Sunday, at my cousin's son's 2nd birthday party, my dad was discussing how he wanted to hook up a lifelong friend of my cousin's with some chick (oy, the shidduchim). This kid wasn't even wearing a yarmulke. I kind of wondered if I was chopped liver, or what, to him. Not observant enough, probably (!). I have some issues with my dad that I will work through with my stepmother and him, if they ever get a free moment.

  3. Not that I think it has any relevance to him as a politician, but I do believe Muslims might consider Obama a lapsed Muslim since he did practice Islam in some form as a child with his step-father in Indoseia and they do carry religious status through paternal descent.

    Though, in any case, making this a reason to vote or not vote for someone is simple bigotry.

  4. Hey you survived! I think that was a total success. Nobody wanted to kill anybody else- that's a victory sometimes! Pat on the back eh!

  5. Really interesting discussion of Obama being regarded as a Muslim. My parents both believe that he's a Muslim and I haven't been able to convince them otherwise. In addition to what you stated, the average Jew sees the idea of Jewishness as tradition, genetics, and religiosity, all being essentially inseparable. Thus, the Jew can't understand someone abandoning the religion of their fathers. In fact, to the Jew, this is impossible because Jewishness isn't a reflection of the individual's values but merely a component of his blood. For the Jew, no one ever truly leaves the tribe, despite their condemnation of the Jewish religion. In your case, this is especially pertinent. From my cursory reading of your blog, it seems like your cardinal sin isn't your atheism, but rather your serious relationship with someone not part of the Jewish clan.

  6. It's truly incredible the way humans think. No food for non-jewish boyfriends, Obama is a muslim, old maid at 20...

    Overall, it seems your visit was uneventful. Could've been worse.


  7. AE - to be fair, I know a few older mixed marriage couples (husband Jewish) where a wife snuck her child(ren) to church and had them baptised knowing full well that husband would object. I also know full fledge "goyim" who go on and on about no-god and that they are athiests, but come children and they go to church and baptise, just in case, they add.

    What I'm basically saying that in predominately Christian countries like US and most European, people claim that they aren't Christians, but when push comes to shove they are. They may be tolerant of different versions of Christianity, but they are still Christians.

    I suspect that Moslems percieve everything in similar manner from my limited personal experience and what I've seen and read.

    So, it's not only Jews who associate birth parents with someone's religion, it's most of the world.


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