CLICHE POST-GRAD FAMILY THANK YOU NOTE

Graduation just passed, and this weekend I had a million things to talk about. Planning. Hard work. Hating the morning. Good food. Family. Stress. Over eating. And so on…yet somehow today my mind has pulled a blank. Probably because I was up until nearly 3:00 am giving life (relationship) advice to a good friend of mine, and I am now understandably sleepy. But I’m sure as I am typing, something will come to me.

Speak of the devil, and you will be rewarded in kind. Let’s talk about family. Family is a great and terrible thing. Somehow they are always there for you, yet also removed from your being (at least, this is true for me). Don’t get me wrong—I love my family. In fact, I think deep down, I would fall into the “family before country” group. Though, the caveat to this would be that this doesn’t apply to ALL members of my family. I don’t know my second cousin once removed who lives in wherever of wherever. I honestly don’t think I would jeopardize my life success over them. My mother, brother, sister, father, aunt, and/or immediate cousins though? Yeah probably. Actually not probably—definitely. Those are the people who keep up with and care about me, and I care about them.

Which is like…duh, Cassady. Of course you would care about your mother. Who doesn’t? I mean maybe it is a bit obvious, but at the same time I am not as sold. Perhaps it is due to the stresses of my life, which have been in many ways caused by certain family members, and I have seen people that I once would have placed on a pedestal fall into the depths of contempt. I also have family members that aren’t technically related to me by blood, yet they mean more to me than the biological grandparents on my mother’s side that I never knew. I have family whose image and ideology has influenced me long after their death. In part, I attribute the success of my life to their life lessons.

But again, like…duh Cassady. Of course you are shaped by your family and their teachings. You ranted about this when you talked about religious upbringings. Eh. Yeah. I suppose so. But what exactly is life without a little thankfulness. I don’t currently believe in an afterlife, which is perhaps my nihilism seeping through. But I do believe in life after death. I’ll explain quickly, since this post is getting a bit longer than I’d like. After we die, I don’t see much reason for us to actually have much going on after. If you disagree, that’s fine. It just doesn’t make much sense to me in the traditional sense, since if we have life after death, why shouldn’t the cat, or the dog, or the dolphin. What makes us so special? Because we claimed it? That sounds like vanity.

Regardless though, we can live after death through things. Images are a common one, but those don’t really impart the idea of life. Through our family we can live on, in the sense that our ideas will continue to flourish and develop. Thoughts we once had will find their way into the minds of brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and so on. Heirlooms seem to carry a similar quality, which is what makes them so…irreplaceable. You know what I mean? Let me know what you think! Is your family that important to you?

——

 

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CONDITIONAL LOVE

It seems like a good day to talk about family. Everyone has family struggles in their life. Bad parents. Bad children. Bad siblings. None of the above…the absence of family is still a family struggle, right? But we often don’t talk about how important family is to the general scheme of our lives. Which is perhaps because we take them more for granted than we should. I certainly do.

Then again, family can really be a difficult thing to understand. People love to throw around the term “unconditional love,” which I don’t really understand. I mean, I love my family—both my immediate family and the vast majority of my extended family. But I don’t think I could call love unconditional. I mean, people often say “I love you unconditionally” to their spouse, but if they caught that spouse out with three hookers for a week long cocaine binge, they probably wouldn’t find it in their heart to continue loving them. Maybe. But probably not.

Likewise, family has a similar conundrum, right? We all have that one sibling that gets on our nerves (if we have siblings), but that doesn’t mean we have to cast them out, right? But at what point is the breaking point?

Let’s say they turn their back on everything their family stands for. Like a man from a Jewish family renouncing his faith and joining the Neo-Nazi party. Is that far enough? If love were unconditional, no. How about being betrayed by someone because that person was so desperate in their life, they decided it was worth punishing their family as some sort of…extended blame for their own problems? How about then?

What if a family member goes insane and starts murdering people without justification or anything? As loosely defined as it is, these technically fall under “conditional love.” Not murdering people seems like a pretty reasonable condition to me. But like…not loving someone because they didn’t share their milkshake with you would not be quite so reasonable.

Which leaves me curious about why we choose to use words like “unconditional love” when discussing our relationship to our family. I mean, it might have to do with the hyperbolic nature of human kind, and that’s perfectly plausible…but it is not that entertaining. I think it might have to do with the fickleness of love in the first place. Love, like all emotions, is not entirely sustainable. It ebbs and flows. Think about it. If every minute of every day you were desperately in love with someone, you’d probably kill yourself. Just like if you were constantly enraged with everyone. Or, if not, you might grow bored of them. Pizza is great, but eating the same pizza every day can grow a bit stale. Maybe it takes a week, maybe it takes a month. Maybe it even takes twenty years.

But we don’t eat pizza every day. We have other things. And like with food, we experience other emotions. And those other emotions impact the ones we currently feel. One might say they love you unconditionally, and mean it at that moment. But over time, that love fades and becomes conditional, simply because that’s how emotions work, no? Does that make sense? Let me know what you think in the comments.

——

 

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BEDTIME STORY PART 2

Before you begin, make sure you have read part one of this short story, so that you have context for it. Enjoy!:

 

The next evening went very similar to the one before. I made dinner, Lizzie watched TV, I cleaned up, Lizzie ran around the house screaming wildly. She brushed up and got in bed. I was tired from my long day at work, but as I was walking Lizzie to the bathroom to brush her teeth, she piqued my interest.

“Can you tell me more of that story from last night?” she said in a solemn voice.

“The one about you in the boat?” I asked.

“Yeah!” her face lit up as she doused her toothbrush with bubble gum toothpaste. I smiled and nodded my head, then went to set up the chair in her room. A few minutes later, Lizzie was in her bed ready to sleep. She was really quiet, and it filled me with a slightly anxious feeling. Even I didn’t know what would happen next.

“Do you remember what happened yesterday?”

“Yeah!” she exclaimed, “I was on a boat and then I was in a cave and then I fell asleep by the fire.” Her eyes were aglow with excitement.

“Pretty much,” I said, “OK, so then…” I paused and thought for a moment, “so then you wake up with a start. There was a chilly wind that passed through the cave, and it sounded almost like a low bellowing voice calling out to you. You were so shocked from your sleep that the memory of the dream you were having fades too quickly for you to remember it. The embers of the fire have nearly died out. They flicker lightly against the darkness of the room. You apprehend the cave around you, and realize something seems quite different about it. The air tastes different; the smell of lilac and grass from the meadow before has been overtaken by the rock and stone of the cave around you.

“Finally it becomes clear what’s missing. The water! The endless river that had brought your here had disappeared! Your boat, along with all your things, sits on an empty shore. It was as if you had slept for ten million years. You pack your things to go, taking care not to spill your lantern from the night before. Just as you turn to leave the cave, a second wind pushes you back. Again, the low hum of some unknown calling rings in your ears, and you turn back to the darkness of the cave. It seems deeper than the night before—as if it were to go on forever. You pull your lantern from your bag, unsure of what it could be, and set out into the depths of the cave.

“The darkness envelops you, the light of your lantern extending only a few feet out around you. As you walk deeper, you hear the echoes of your feet bouncing back from the distance. It’s eerily silent. The air is cool. You walk for nearly an hour when suddenly a flash of blue lights appears to your right, not thirty feet away. The lights are moving, shifting, rising, and you realize that the cave is shaking as a massive beast rises from a slumber. Its furry body is covered with unearthly gemstones, which light up the area to look as though it were under the sea. It is on two massive legs, and looks fat by its proportions. Its massive arms hang low against the ground, and its hands hang in a loose fist. It rears up to its full height, the blue light from its shoulders illuminating the previously unknown ceiling of the cave.

“You hear it bellow in a deep voice, which seems more ancient than the Earth itself, ‘Who has disturbed my slumber?’” I glanced at my watch. It was nearly ten o’clock. “Alright Liz, that’s a good place to stop.”

“NO!” She exclaimed, “please no I want to know what happens.” Her voice was pleading.

“Well, then you’ll just have to wait till tomorrow.” I smiled at her in the darkness of her room, and kissed her on the forehead. She was frowning, but remained silent. “Goodnight,” I said to her, and turned toward the door.

“Goodnight,” she called back to me as I closed the door behind me.

——

 

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DON’T LET THEM SERVE ME FIRST

“…and please, dear God, don’t let them serve me first” exclaimed Peter. Ann and Peter had been on the road for nearly three hours, on their way out to visit Ann’s parents in Minnesota. It was a frosty day, and nearly everything was covered in a layer of white snow.

“What? Why? Pete they’re going to love you,” said Ann.

“Well I hope they love me but what happens if I do something weird?”

“You’re not going to do anything THAT weird,” Ann rolled her eyes, “just do what we normally do back at home.” Ann was driving the car with her gaze on the empty road before her. It had been a quiet drive for the most part. There had been no traffic—in fact, had they not been in the heart of a city, one would have thought the roads to be completely abandoned.

“I can’t do what we do normally back home because normally back home I wear boxers to dinner,” Peter said, as he tried to contain a giggle behind his anxiousness.

“Ok, come on,” Ann chided, “you’re not a baby you know how to act appropriately at a table for dinner.”

“But what if your parents decide to say Grace?”

“They’re not going to decide to say Grace, they haven’t practiced any fo—“

“But what if they do this time!” Pete interrupted, “What if this time they decide they want to and I’d already started eating? I’d look like a savage idiot.”

“What do you care what you look like? Aren’t you always talking about how you’re the best businessman at meetings because you don’t care what people think about you?”

“Well, yeah, I mean, yes, you know, but it’s different,” Peter stuttered. He took a deep breath, then continued more fluently, “I care more about our relationship than some business meeting.” Ann looked at him with a playful sarcasm.

“Aw. Aren’t you sweet. But that’s all this is. My parents just want to see what you’re bringing to the table. And the bedroom.” A devilish grin crossed Ann’s face.

“The bedroom?” Peter’s eyes bulged, “what have they set up cameras? That’s a little creepy.”

“No you fuckin’ idiot!” Ann slapped Peter’s thigh jokingly, “like how you look. I know and you know that looks aren’t a huge deal or anything, but my parents care about the success of more than just their daughter. They also care about the family as a whole. If you were some feeble, cowardly guy, they’d want to give input.”

“Ok that’s fair, but I still don’t want to be served first.”

“Fine.” Ann paused, “you’re such a baby.” She reached over and pinched Peter’s cheek, then said in a babying voice “who’s my little baby? Hm? Petey’s my little baby.” Peter pried her fingers off his cheek and tossed her hand back at the steering wheel. He turned to pout at the window while Ann laughed. After that, they sat in silence for a little while.

“How much farther is it?” asked Peter.

“We’re actually just around the corner,” said Ann, “now I don’t want you making a bad first impression. So stand up straight, open the door for me, and carry the bags in.”

“Fine.” Peter slumped his shoulders. They turned a corner and drove up to see a couple standing out on the sidewalk.

“Look! There they are!” Ann pointed. She looked over at Peter with a glare, “Pete sit up. This is going to be a good time. Ok? Try to enjoy yourself. They gave us the guest room down the hall and everything so that we can enjoy ourselves. They realize we’ve been dating for a while.” Pete sat up and put a smile on his face.

“Yeah but they’ll love you no matter what,” he muttered to himself. The car came to a stop, and Pete smiled to Ann’s parents through the window, then hopped out of the car to get Ann’s door.

——

 

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SPOILED BRAT

Good morning my dear!

I…I said good morning!

Can she even hear

What I am saying?

I asked my husband
You know, I think not.

It looks like she’s got

No time for her parents;

Just time for our presents.

What a spoiled brat.
No mom. I’m just asleep.

I was up all night.

And I’m only up, dad,

Because you don’t let me

Go out during the day.

A spoiled brat, indeed.