Parental Deception; chapter two, part two

When I get home, I feed the cats some treats and make a ham sandwich for myself. The emails from that man are weighing heavily on my mind. I suppose I should respond because I’m starting to feel rude in ignoring him. I send him a brief email saying I can’t meet with him before Thanksgiving and leave it at that. He immediately emails back and asks if we can meet on Friday instead. I have hunch I’ll be spending Thursday night at Rembrandt’s as well as Wednesday night—our first two-nighter!—and I don’t want a time constraint on Friday. Then again, it’s a good excuse if I need one to skedaddle from Rembrandt’s place if I start feeling claustrophobic. I write back to that man and say we can meet Friday afternoon and suggest Diamonds Coffee Shoppe on Central any time after one. I’m a late riser if I don’t have to get up for work, and I don’t make appointments in the morning if I can help it. He agrees and says he can’t wait to see me on Thanksgiving. I don’t answer because I’m done with the conversation.

I eat my sandwich and check my social media. There’s not much that interests me because I’m in denial about our new president. I’m keeping myself abreast of all his insanity, of course, because it’s my civic duty, but I don’t see the point of hyperventilating over every idiotic tweet he makes. It’s something that’s always frustrated me about liberals—they’re addicted to the poutrage. There are several people on my Twitter feed who watch Morning Joe every morning and gripe about how awful he is. I always want to tell them, “No shit, he’s awful. That’s his shtick. Tell me if he says something reasonable—that would be news.” I decide it’s time to write a post, but not about Trump. My topic is going to be holidays and family. I’m still not sure I want to write about my current situation, but I have to write something.

The last month has been the worst month of my life, bar none. First, my best friend gets murdered by a crazy stalker woman who thought she was in love with me. She decided the way to get me to notice her was to get rid of the perceived competition. No, it doesn’t make sense, but that’s how she saw the situation. Then, after I started dating someone, she went after him as well with the intent to kill. Fortunately, he was able to fight her off, but unfortunately, she gouged out one of his eyes prior to being foiled.

A few weeks later, my brother-in-law was kidnapped by a delusional woman who thought they were meant to be together. She thought if she held him captive, she would be able to get him to see her point of view. Once again, it makes no sense, but she was a seriously disturbed woman.

Now, we’re coming up on Thanksgiving, and normally, I’m not a big fan of tradition and all that shit, but I’m feeling a bit wistful this year. Losing someone so close to me has made me realize that I don’t want to take my loved ones for granted. Yes, I can theoretically get together with them any time of the year, but it’s easier to do over the holidays.

I see my older sister on a semi-regular basis, but I haven’t seen my younger sister in years. She’s flying in on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, and staying for a week. I’m excited to have all three Liang sisters in the same place at the same time. I love my older sister who’s been like a second mom to me, but we are polar opposites in terms of our beliefs and our temperaments. Our younger sister is somewhere in between us, and she’s an efficient mediator when my older sister and I lock horns.

I write in this vein for another half hour without mentioning my current predicament. I’m not being coy for that man’s sake, but because I don’t want to air my family business in public. Yes, I blog about my life on a daily basis, but I try not to write about other people without their permission. I have made a tacit agreement with myself that my life will be an open book—to a limited extent—to my readers, but my loved ones have not made that same agreement. This isn’t my best post, but I publish it, anyway. I’d rather have something up that is pretty good than hold it back until it’s perfect because then it’ll never get published.

That’s another thing that seven years of taiji has taught me—there is no perfect, and the progress is what matters. Yes, that’s trite and obvious, but it’s not something I had accepted before I started studying taiji. Before that, I had training in two cultures, Taiwanese and American, that had drummed into my brain that I had to always excel. Partly, it’s because I’m a minority and we have to be twice as good to be thought of as equal. A second reason is because Americans are still into ‘no pain, no gain’. That is the direct opposite of taiji philosophy, and I’ve come to fully embrace that ‘no pain, no gain’ is detrimental to my health. I have an online friend who is constantly complaining about how his bum knee will never fully heal. It’s because he refuses to rest it until it’s completely better before going hard on it again. He twisted it a year ago, then tried to run five miles a month later. Needless to say, that put him out of commission for even longer. When he started feeling better after that, he went skiing and twisted his knee again. He’s been doing this for the entire four years I’ve known him, and I’ve given up trying to give him any kind of advice. Not that I gave much to begin with because that’s not my style, but around year three, I completely stopped suggesting anything. In fact, I don’t even show him any sympathy any longer because I feel as if it’s just enabling him to continue his bad behavior.

I check my latest post to see what kind of comments I’ve received. There are several that sympathize with my pain. They share their own stories of woe, and it seems as if 2016 was a shit year for many people. There have been several deaths, loss of jobs, and divorces. There are much fewer comments from people who have had a great year. Then again, my post was on loss, so it makes sense that people would share more about the negatives in their lives than the positives. SittingShiva writeSs, “This has been the worst year of my life. I lost my mother in January, my sister in April, my nephew in September, and my dog, Jack, two weeks ago. I’m only forty-two. I shouldn’t have to deal with this much loss in one year. 2016 can kiss my black ass.” I feel compelled to write back to her. “Man, you’ve had your share of loss this year. My wish is that you only know joy in 2017. May the hole in your heart be slowly mended over the upcoming year.” MNborn says, “My man’s twin brother died this year, and it devastated him. I feel so helpless as he sobs himself to sleep. He’s a typical man in that he’s embarrassed when I see him cry. I try to be supportive without being obnoxious about it.” JuicyJunk adds, “This has been a decent year for me, so it hurts me to hear about everyone else who has suffered. I got a raise at my job that I love—I’m a graphic designer—my fiancé proposed to me –we’re getting married next summer—and I just discovered I’m pregnant with our first child. I feel almost guilty about being so lucky this year.”

I go outside to smoke, thinking about that man. I resent being railroaded into meeting up with him again, but it just goes against everything I’ve been taught to be that rude to an elder. Even if he’s not my father, he’s my father’s age and Taiwanese, so by default, I have to be civil to him. I guess I could call him Uncle as I call other older Asian men in my life, but that still doesn’t feel right to me. I’ve been avoiding it so far by not calling him anything, but I presume that’ll become awkward at some point in the near future. What I really want is just for him to go back to San Francisco and never bother me again. I’m not convinced he is my father, and even if he is, why has it taken him forty years to contact me? I can hear Jasmine’s voice in my brain admonishing  me to forgive and forget. She’s said it to me often enough, and it’s guaranteed to piss me off when I hear it. Our society is so focused on forgiving and admonishing the one who’s been hurt if she doesn’t forgive in a timely fashion, but I don’t see as many people holding the perpetrator of the offense accountable for her action. I remember asking a youth pastor at a friend’s church once why God got all the credit when things went well, but none of the blame when things went poorly. I can still remember him puckering up his mouth as if he’d eaten a lemon before saying, “God works in mysterious ways.” I wasn’t a believer before that, and that certainly didn’t convert me. I don’t believe in letting people off the hook for their bad behavior. If someone has done me wrong, I expect them to show contrition and make amends before I even think of forgiving them. That’s my issue with current Christianity—too much emphasis on forgiveness and not enough on repentance.

I peek at my blog, again, and there are even more answers to my last post. BaldBear writes, “My daddy left my family when I was ten. My mama was a stay-at-home mom who had to start cleaning houses to feed four mouths. I was the oldest, and I picked up odd jobs wherever I could to help out. My daddy returned ten years later, and none of us would talk to him. It took five years of him persisting and being very patient before I would even answer his phone calls. Now, ten years later, we’re close, but it took an enormous amount of work.” RetroChic says, “I haven’t talked to my mother in seven years because she’s a narcissist who shouldn’t have had kids in the first place. She didn’t care about my brother, my father, or me—only herself. She had affair after affair, and it was up to me to cook for my little brother because my father worked two jobs. Construction and factory. My mother died two weeks ago, and I feel nothing but relief. I’m struggling not to feel like a monster.” I write in response, “It’s only natural to feel that way when you’ve had a terrible relationship with a parent. It may not be acceptable to say, but just because someone gave birth to you, it doesn’t mean they’re worth your tears. You can be thankful to her for giving you life and still not be sad when she dies. Be gentle with yourself and don’t be surprised if the sorrow hits you later.”

I close out the tab, finish my cigarette, and go back inside. Onyx and Jet yowl at me as soon as I lock the backdoor, and I go to the kitchen to get them some Temptations. I give them each three, but that’s not enough to mollify them. I tell them they’re going to see Ginger tomorrow, and they just stare at me. They adore her and she them, but I’m not sure they understand what I’m telling them. I give them each two more Temptations, and that makes them less aggrieved. I grab a Diet Coke and go to the living room to watch some Criminal Minds on Netflix. It’s mindless entertainment that allows my brain to veg while watching it. I don’t want to think about anything, especially not that man, so it’s the perfect way to do that. I watch three episodes without stopping. Netflix is like crack when it comes to binge-watching. They make it easy to compulsively watch because the next episode auto-plays when the current episode ends. I’m in the seventh season, and while the show is markedly worse than it was in the beginning—which wasn’t that great to begin with, let’s be honest—it’s still enough to keep my mind occupied. I like the actor who plays JJ’s husband—a lot, and he’s in the last two episodes of the season, which makes me happy. He has that slow, Southern drawl that immediately makes me want to get naked and horizontal. Josh Stewart. That’s his name. His accent plus his lazy smirk make me want to do unspeakable things to his body. And those eyes. His stare can burn right through you. I waste several minutes dreaming about sexing him up before stopping myself. I consider it unseemly at my age to be drooling over a celebrity, no matter how smoking hot he is.

I nod off as I’m watching, which leads to a steamy dream involving me, Josh Stewart, and a can of whipped cream. I’m not a big fan of food and sex, but if I don’t have to clean it up, it’s perfectly fine. I’m more limber in my dream than I am in real life, and we fuck for what seems like hours. It’s hard to tell in the dream world how much time has passed, so I just enjoy myself without worrying about it. It’s weird because I know I’m in a dream, but I can’t control it. I can lucid dream at times, but this is not one of those times. He’s a good lay in my dream, and it’d be nice to find out if he has the same skill in real life. I wake up with a smile on my face, which is rare for me, especially these days. Sleep is never my friend, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve had such a pleasant dream.

I take a luxurious shower because I’m up a half hour before my alarm. I’m going in an hour later than usual, anyway, so I had plenty of sleep last night. Onyx and Jet are waiting for me on the counter when I get out as usual, and they meow in unison as I stand dripping on the small rug in the middle of the floor. I make faces at them as I wrap a towel around my body. In unison, they tilt their heads to the right and meow silently in response. I poke each of them on the nose, and they rear back in disgust. It doesn’t hurt them, but they don’t appreciate it. I chuckle at them as I go into the bedroom to get dressed. Since there’s only going to be three or four of us in the office today, we’re allowed to be super-casual. I pull on a pair of black slacks and a red blouse. I can’t wear a t-shirt and jeans to work, no matter how casual we’re allowed to be. I put gold hoops in my earlobes and go into the kitchen. Onyx and Jet cavort after me because they know it’s time for breakfast. I give them their wet food, and they wolf it down. I make myself some scrambled eggs and cheese, one piece of toast, and then pour myself some orange juice. I take it all into the dining room and sit down to have a full breakfast for once. Most mornings, I just toast a bagel, smear it with cream cheese, and call it a day. I savor every bite, and I can see why people cook for themselves on a daily basis. It’s not something I want to do for myself because cooking for one is not worth it, but it’s enjoyable the few times a month I do it.

When I’m done, I clean up the dishes, then do my morning routine. It’s only twenty minutes of taiji, but it’s enough to get me going. I don’t always want to practice, but I usually feel better after I do it. I clean the litter before going back upstairs. I go outside for a quick smoke, scratch the cats behind the ears, then take off for work. There aren’t many people on the road, so I don’t have to be as tense about driving as I usually am. I make it in record time, and I slip into my chair with little fanfare. There’s no one within three or four desks of me, so I’m able to do my work with no interruption. I skip lunch and get everything on my list done by two, then I leave. I’m home by two-twenty, and the cats are surprised to see me. I give them treats, then go upstairs to pack my overnight bag. Once I’m done with that, I go into the living room and check my emails. Nothing of importance. I check my texts as well, and there are several, but none of them are important, either. I read Marcia Muller’s latest on my Kindle. I’ve been slack on my reading in the past few years, so I try to catch up whenever I can. I spend a few hours reading before it’s time to go.

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