Why I Am Possibly a Bad Listener

The holidays.  What can I say?  This year was a rough one.  I am still unemployed and yet tried to be festive.  Forced gaiety is exhausting, by the way.

I drove a couple hours to see family.  And I did what I always do when I am around family –  try to figure out where my malfunctions come from.  I mean, I spent nine years of my life with a man who clearly, in retrospect, did not want me in his life.  (He was always searching for someone better.)  And to make matters worse, after I finally came around to this situation, I fully expected this guy to apologize and feel remorse for the years he kept me at arm’s length (years in which I missed out on having a real relationship and family).  The delusion continues to this day.  I am utterly stupid.  I am not blaming my family, but this shit has got to come from somewhere.  Right?

me

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Unfortunately, no light was shed.  But I do get enjoyment from seeing my mom, who is both unassuming and evil at the same time.

My mom and I went to visit my grandmother Christmas Eve day.  (Is there an easier way to say that?  The day of Christmas Eve?  Because it was not actually Christmas EVE, as in the evening.  Gah.  It was Monday.)  After being there for a while, I noticed that my grandmother’s thermostat had a plastic lock box on it.  Like the ones you’d see in an office, or a school.  I asked my mother about this and she informed me this was the solution to my grandmother’s excessive use of the heat.  Apparently, her home was like a sauna.  Because she is old and is always cold.

But now her thermostat temperature is set to go down at night and go back up during the day.  I asked my mom what my grandmother did if it was night and she got cold.  My mother replied simply, “She puts on layers.”  I started teasing my mom – “Too bad, Gram, you’ll have to wait until sunrise to get warm.”  My mom laughed the laugh of the bitterly resolute and we carried on with our day.

Oh, are you cold?  Tough.

Oh, are you cold? Tough.

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My mom’s laugh was a lot heartier when I said, “I think my glasses make me look smarter.”  She laughed too hard actually.

And when I asked her when she was going to quit smoking, I did not even let her reply.  I quickly said, “Just say you are not going to quit so we can stop having this conversation.”

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By far, the most interesting revelation this holiday was the truth behind my mom’s incredibly long conversational pauses.  When I say “long”, I mean LONG.  I’ll say something that should elicit a response or I’ll ask a question and, I swear to you, the pause from her is endless.  I’ll eventually just blurt out, “are you listening to me?”  She’ll usually say, “yes, I’m listening…I’m just processing”.  No.  No, mom.  You cannot possibly take that long to process a reply to, “So, what do you need in the grocery store?”  I AM NOT ASKING THE MEANING OF LIFE.

Even her boyfriend finds this behavior maddening.  She does the same thing to him.  And he also accuses her of not listening.

I finally reached the breaking point and said to her, “You know, it is weird when you do that.  It is totally like you are not listening.”

Her reply: “Yes, I’m listening.  But sometimes…I’m not listening.”

I KNEW IT.

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Happy Holidays, y’all.

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