Thursday, June 30, 2011

Visits from semi-relatives

Just did an interview with a very nice professor who is currently doing a research project on blogs + transitions into and out of religion. She might be contacting some of ya'll in the future.

Meanwhile, talking to her made me realize I haven't posted any updates in a while, and last week I had a visit from a sort-of-relative (my cousin's wife's mother) from my side of the family, so I thought I'd post about that.

A couple of weeks ago my dad emailed me about this lady visiting.

Actually, let's go back before that. About a month ago it was my birthday and I got the following message from my dad:

Subject: Today's family BBQ pictures
Hi AE,
You were sent regards and well wishes from the various family members who asked about you. They remembered that your birthday is coming up Tuesday and send "Happy Birthday" greetings. Zaidi turns 85 tomorrow.

Along with a whole bunch of pictures of my family's annual bbq. The bbq my family has had every memorial day since the year after I was born, in honor of my birthday on May 31 (and my grandfather's birthday the day before mine, and my cousins' whose birthdays are a few days later, but the party was always held at MY house by MY parents for MY birthday).

Apparently they are still having these BBQs but I am not invited to them. So about a month ago I get this bullshit email, which can be loosely translated as: "Here's some family pictures from a bbq you are no longer invited to which used to be held in your honor. Our family asked about you because I don't own up to the fact that you are not invited to these BBQs anymore, I just pretend like you can't make it. Then I send you the pictures to throw it in your face. I'm also oblivious to exactly how obnoxious sending you these pictures is."

Yes, yes, I'm sure he didn't mean it that way, but that kinda pissed me off, and I didn't respond at all. And right after he had made me slightly less pissed off in general by leaving a voicemail singing me happy birthday on my birthday.

Then like a week later I get this email:

Hi AE,

M, A's Mom, plans to travel to [your area] in the near future. She will be driving through [your area] and asked for your phone number. She will call to arrange a short visit to say hello. No special agenda. She is just being friendly.


A few days later M, my cousin's mother in law (so not really directly related to me) called to say she was going to be driving through my area of the south (on her way to her own house which is also in the south) and she was going to be stopping by. I haven't seen her since around 2003, when her daughter married my cousin. But those cousins lived right near my parents from 2003 until last year when they moved to Israel, and so she and my parents are pretty close since she went up to their area a lot.

This is the mother in law of my cousin who unexpectedly dropped by to try to convince me not to get married about 3 months before my wedding, so when my dad said she had no agenda, I was somewhat suspicious. I wrote back saying something like "So does she know I'm not religious and B isn't jewish? Just trying to figure out how awkward this visit is going to be"

And he wrote back this very mysterious response:
"Hi AE,
I saw M in NJ this weekend and she is prepared to see you. No surprises. Have a great visit. She is on my "good" list."

Now, it's this "good list" thing which is mysterious to me. Does this mean there are people on his 'bad' list? Is the bad list people who don't accept the fact that I'm married to a non jew? Or am I reading too much into this? But somehow reading this I got this vision of my dad defending me to random family members on a 'bad list' somewhere. I don't think that he would actually go so far as defending my decision, but I wonder if there are people being especially obnoxious to my parents about me?

Again, probably reading too much into things. But someday, when all this bullshit has blown over a bit, I would love to talk to my parents about what happened to them when I got married. Cause this talk of good lists and bad lists has me wondering.

Anyways, M came to visit last week and it was actually a pretty awesome visit. She was wearing pants and a low cut shirt with uncovered hair (although her husband recently passed away which might explain that) when she came to visit, which is hilarious to me- that entire side of my family (my dad's side, which this cousin is on) is full of people dressing up when they visit my parents to pretend like they are more religious than they are. Whenever this lady visited my parents she was dressed in full religious uniform, and her son in law (my cousin) has a non religious brother AND sister who both dress up all religiously when they visit my parents. AND I know for a fact that my parents act more religious around these cousins than they actually are! Like my dad is always hiding secular stuff away and saying all these dvar torah's and being extra stringent whenever they came over. We even used to have a joke about it- I would always make fun of him for doing something different when my cousin's were over by saying "as is our custom!" and he eventually started saying that too.

Anyways, it's all an elaborate show they put on- being more religiouser than thou or whatever- but she's actually much more modern than I thought, if she wears pants. She brought us 2 cupcakes and a housewarming present too- a really nice little cutting board made from a bunch of different types of fancy woods, and 2 fancy wooden spoons for cooking with. We gave her a tour of our house and then sat around chatting for a few hours before she went on her way- she was super nice and kept giving us advice about things and was all like "well I'm an old jewish lady I love giving advice to people, you can take it or leave it." Her deceased husband was an academic too, so we talked a bunch about that, and moving around to new places (which she has also done a lot due to being married to academic).

And she left with an open invite for me AND B to come visit her whenever we want. She lives about 5 hours away from us, so I'm sure we won't be taking her up on that in the near future, but the fact that someone I'm semi-related to has actually invited B to their house! This is a huge first.

In other news, after this visit I felt inspired to actually send my dad an update with what's been going on recently (Our dog Barkley just had to have a tumor removed- he has CPV, doggie genital warts. My dog is a slut! Also he will get tumors now for the rest of his live every once in a while, which sucks, but what are ya going to do). I hadn't really talked to my dad since around April on Erev Pesach. He let me know that my cousin in Israel (the daughter of the woman M who visited me) just had her 4th baby! And my cousin in NY (who is around 25 I think?) is about to pop with her 4th any moment! Oh and her sister who got married last year is having her first baby at any moment too, and her brother who got married a few years ago has a wife pregnant with #2. Man does my generation know how to breed. Especially those last 3 siblings who are all black hatters in a family that doesn't believe in using birth control.

Oh and the best news of all- my OTD brother, after 27 years of living at my parent's house, finally got his own apartment and is moving there this weekend! So I can finally go visit him, and crash at his place, since he doesn't live with my parents anymore! Really hoping I can gather up the funds for a trip up north in a few months or at the very least at some point within the next year. And there's a train right near his new place that goes to NYC...potential NYC OTD meetup???

In garden news, Zucchini Invasion!


  1. Oh, that whole story of people dressing more religious for other people is hilarious! I think outside of NY people feel free to dress they way they really feel.


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