Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ugh, Daddy issues.

I don't know why I keep expecting more of him, but I still find myself disappointed when he doesn't live up to my expectations. Probably because my expectations are so freakin low to begin with.

When I found out I got this job, I sent out an email to about 30 people who I know would really care about this- some relatives, every faculty member I've worked closely with, a bunch of my friends. And my dad.

I got long responses from just about everyone, including all sorts of people (some of whom I haven't talked with in years, like my old undergrad adviser) telling me how proud they were of me and how great it was that I got this job, etc. And this is the response I got from my dad, word for word:

"Congratulations! I hope it all works out for the best.


I don't know why, but this just triggered all sorts of resentments and now I'm feeling all pissed at him again. I mean, come on!! When I started dating B, my dad came up with all sorts of 10+ page treatises on why I shouldn't, some of which can be read in this blog. But finally achieving my dream of getting a professorship job, the job I went to college for 4 years and grad school for 6 years for (that's a total of 10 years of higher education if you can't do simple math) only warrants this bullshit impersonal one line response? What the flying fuck!

I know I'm overreacting and at least he wrote a response at all, right? But seriously, this is just part of a continuing pattern I really feel resentful about when it comes to my parents- all the things I care about, the things I am really passionate about, the things I work my ass off to achieve, they couldn't care less about- or they outright disprove of it. You know what my dad's response was to me getting into 8 out of 9 phd programs I applied to (Harvard rejected me, those bastards) and getting fully funded at each program I got into, all of which were top 20 and some of which were top 5 programs in my field? "Oh, I always thought your brother was the smart one" and a bunch of warnings about how it's impossible to ever have kids if the mother has a career (AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! And my dad has a PhD, so you can't just blame this on ignorance about grad school and academia). But anything having to do with religion, the one thing I'd rather just never talk about again, turns into a huge crazy to-do.

Oddly enough, my grandmother called me again last night. I thought for a moment my dad had told her about my job and that's why she called, but it turned out she had no idea and it was a coincidence (we joked that she has a psychic connection to me since we're related by blood- it was actually kind of eerie). She asked why I never call her (maybe because this is only her second call to me, and I assumed the first one last summer was to check up on me when she heard I was married and that she wasn't being serious about me calling her more often? But I guess she was, which is cool!). She asked me if I was talking to my parents, and I told her the truth- that I occasionally talk to my dad, but I don't talk to my mom because she said she didn't want a relationship with me after I got married, and I'm not pressing the issue.

We had a very nice chat for about 15 minutes and I told her about the job and the area I'm moving to, and I also got to ask her some stuff about her parents, which I've wanted to know. I've been reading this book "Palm Sunday" by Kurt Vonnegut, and in part of the book he talks about his family's history, as far back an older relative of his can remember and can find records of- so going back several generations. I realized when I read that I know very little about the generation(s) before my grandparents. On my dad's side, my grandparents were holocaust survivors, and my great grandparents were killed when my grandparents were teenagers, so I doubt even my grandparents would know much of their own family history. Now my grandmother on that side is dead, and my grandfather on that side is senile, so any history there is, is lost. But on my mom's side, my grandparents are both still very much alive and fully in command of their wits- so it would be great to get more info about my ancestors while that is still the case.

I found out from my grandmother that she grew up during the great depression but never really thought of it as a depression until later looking back, because that's the way everyone was living. She got married when she was 20 and my grandfather was 22, after dating a whole bunch of other dudes apparently (her mom died of appendicitis when she was 14- this was before the days of penicillin- so she didn't have a lot of parental supervision and "ran around" a lot as a teenager). And that her father worked in the diamond industry during world war two, and my grandfather's father used to manufacture convertible sofas. After we hung up the phone I realized that I have no idea if the great grandfather I knew as a child (he died when I was 7)- my Alta Zaidy- was my grandmother's father or my grandfather's father. I'm looking forward to catching up with her more at my cousin's wedding in a couple of weeks.

The next topic I want to ask about is migration patterns- how was it that my ancestors on that side of the family got from Romania to NYC? I know it wasn't a direct path, since I know my grandmother was born in Pittsburgh. And were they indeed all Romanian like my mother told me? My husband thought his mom's parents were both Sicilian until I talked to his grandmother last year and found out that while her late husband was indeed Sicilian, her parents were actually Austrian and Czechoslovakian if I recall correctly (I should double check that and write all this stuff down somewhere).

Now that it turns out we are moving down "mouth", I'm glad I have this wedding opportunity to hang out with my family members (at least the cool ones) one more time before I go. I have to remember to bring a notebook to take notes on this ancestry stuff, and maybe a package for my grandmother of some of my published articles + the article that was written about me + one of the school flyers I got from the university I got a job at, so that she can brag about me to all her other little old jewish lady friends, like I know she loves to do. :)


  1. See- this is why I think you might actually fall in love with the south. It's all full of people who care about where they came from, what their roots are, who their ancestors are and what those people did and were like. You may have inspired a blog post for me today. I must mull.

  2. Oh ms moon, I've already fallen in love with the south, just from my 3 day trip down there. :)

    I'm sure I was only shown the best parts of course, and after I get there my feelings may change, but for now at least it seems as if I won the lottery and got an ideal living situation. :) The cost of housing (and the architecture- LOVE those big southern porches), the weather, the food, the sweet tea, the grits, the people- all seem amazing to me. And the job is in a decent sized city, with affordable housing, so I don't have to live in a suburb! (I've always hated suburbs, ever since I grew up in one)

    Since going down there I've been wondering to what degree many negative northern stereotypes about southern people are actually left over from the old north-south civil war divide. Nobody up here ever talks about the awesome parts of the south...and there are many, and I'm sure I'll discover many more once I get there. :)

  3. Even people who don't have rifts with their parents have "parent issues". It was 13 years ago, but it feels like yesterday when I told my mother I was pregnant with my third child and she said "Oh God!" and NOT in a happy way. I'm 43 and I still feel like I will never really please or satisfy my parents.

  4. >this is why I think you might actually fall in love with the south. It's all full of people who care about where they came from, what their roots are, who their ancestors are and what those people did and were like.

    That's kind of ironic because much of AE's trouble with her parents is based on that they think she abandoned her roots. Remember, AE comes from a very traditional family which takes their roots very seriously

  5. Spinoza- I don't think caring about your roots and what your ancestors were like and NOT leading the same type of life that they did are mutually exclusive. You can do both, I do. :)

    Tesyaa- Oh I know, this stuff with my dad WAY pre-dates B or openly being an atheist/not religious, in fact the problems with my parents probably contributed to the horrific breakdown of our relationship over the past few years, more so than it going the other way around (with B causing problems).

  6. It is a fool's exercise to aggrandize oneself through the exploits of ancestors. Besides, people from the south ought to be ashamed of their heritage.

  7. being curious about your ancestors is not the same as aggrandizing them.

  8. AE, what a lovely story (the grandmother part, anyway). Grandparents are wonderful.

    Mine were so supportive of me when I was going OTD. I don't know what would have happened without them: suicide, Stern College, total estrangement from my parents, whatever. It's great that your grandmother is still living, wanting you to call more often, and proud of your hard-won achievements!

  9. vashty- thanks! It's something I never expected either...we've always had a fairly contentious relationship (probably becuase we are both very opinionated and argumentative) and there was actually a period of 3-4 years where we stopped talking to each other altogether (after she told me she was davening for me to break up with my ex fiance cause he was a convert, and I responded "well don't hold your breath")

    But then last year a couple of months after I got married out of the blue she just called, and now she's called a second time, so yeah, I think going forward we'll hopefully talk a lot more.


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