When my mom taught some 40 minutes away from home, my siblings and I would go with her. We were taken care of by the mother of two of her students. This woman, Mamian, is probably the best, most loving, most caring person in the world. Did I mention she's the best? Because she is. There is no doubt that she was my second mother. When I was in fourth grade, my mom decided to teach closer to home, so we stopped seeing Mamian on a daily basis. Not wanting to sever the connection we had with her, my mom (to this day! Thanks mommy!) gets haircuts out there every month or so, so we can spend time with our second mommy.
Unfortunately, with Alexandra in college and now overseas, and with Noah's strange work schedule, I'm usually the only one who can make the trip. This was the case for the most recent time.
This thing is ridiculously long, poorly written, and very VERY whiny.
If we've been friends for a while, you probably know my mom and I often do not see eye-to-eye. We'll argue about the stupidest things, like the color of the sky. I'm 26 now, and it took me nearly 25 years to FINALLY learn to just… shut up sometimes. To… take deep breaths and admit that maybe I'm wrong and walk away. But sometimes, I just can't help it.
So my mom picks me up one Wednesday afternoon and we start driving to Tracy. She talks about this and that, how she's trying to design this person's backyard (she wants to be a landscape architect after she retires from teaching, she's taken all the classes and everything), how the other day her class was on this field trip and this parent did that and another did this, and so on. Eventually I bring up this discussion I had on Twitter. It was a stupid thing, one person said something that was mostly false, so I asked them about it, and then they got upset and talked down to me, and then I got upset and tried to clarify, and then they were pretty bitchy, and I finally walked away because the person seems too stubborn to admit that maybe they were not entirely correct. The story wasn't all that important, but it led directly into another that was good and happy and— nope. My mom questions me about my story. "Why is this important? This is dumb. Why do you care about what this person says?" Well… I was just making small talk. But… it IS important to me because this person has a lot of followers and they are spread false information. I don't want their followers to judge what this person was talking about (which is important to me) based on their incorrect statements. And to be honest, this person rubs me the wrong way. When they talk about their friends, they often talk as if their "friends" are just there to cater to their whims and they classify their friends in one of three derogatory categories. WHO DOES THAT? But this doesn't phase my mom. "So?" She asks. So? SO? It bothers me that this person looks down on their FRIENDS. They just BOTHER ME. Sure, I'm not directly affected by most of what they say, but I just… don't like people like that. My mom looks at me and says, "So? That's not a big deal." I paused. "Really? You think it's okay to look down on your friends and call them harsh terms, and probably not be joking when you call them that?" She looks at me, straight-faced, "Yes. I don't see the problem."
And it was about then that my head exploded. When I was younger I had… umm… very personal issues with a couple of girls who I thought were my friends and who treated me like this person seems to treat her friends. It made me nearly incapable of making friends for three years. So this sort of thing hits home, you know? My mom knows this, but suddenly it's okay to be an asshole? What?
I take a deep breath. Then another. Maybe mommy and I are missing each other's points or something. Let's change the subject, maybe that'll—
"I don't know why you waste your time with this 'Twitter', anyway." She starts. "You're always caught in the same group, over and over and over again. Why did you ever talk to this person if they anger you so much?" Well. She DOES have a point. I think for a moment before saying, "It's true. I really shouldn't follow this person. But… even if I didn't follow them, their circle of friends/followers and my circle of friends/followers/people I follow overlap quite a bit. So when they start talking shit, it's likely I'd hear about it anyway. People will retweet it or other people will mention it, and eventually I'll probably see it, even if I don't want to." My mom sighs. It's one of those patronizing sighs. "Annaliese, this is because you only exist in this tiny tiny layer of the stratosphere. Everyone you interact with is in the same layer." Whoa whoa whoa, what? Ohhhhhhh, mother, you know this bugs me. I know you think my life is 670% anime/manga, but it's not. Does most of my life revolve around it? Yes. VERY YES. It's my passion, it's my job, so of course most of my friends/acquaintances will be anime/manga people. But that's not all I'm interested in. Just look at my Twitter list! Type accounts, sports accounts, history accounts, design accounts, art accounts, even a couple clothing companies! There is a WIDE variety of people I follow, it's not like I'm only into ONE THING. (And even if I WAS just into say… manga, it's SUCH a huge medium why would that be such a problem? People rarely bat an eye if someone says "my interests are pretty much… just books." Why is manga all that different?) I try to explain this to her, but she waves me off. "I don't use Twitter and I don't play Words With Friends. I don't care about other people's opinions."
Let's stop there for a moment. How did she connect Twitter and Words With Friends? I don't get it.
Anyway. Well, as she just said, she doesn't use Twitter. Maybe she doesn't really understand how it works. "No, mommy, you see, Twitter… sure, it can be opinions, but it doesn't HAVE to be. Take for example this history account I follow. They post links to new historical finds. It's not opinion, it's archeology. I follow the Oakland A's too, and they post stats and schedules and information about games and players. Those aren't opinions. Twitter is what you make it to be." She gives me a 'tch,' and looks at me again. "Annaliese, I don't care to read about when someone's dog pooped." Did she just miss my explanation? "Well… okay, you can never guarantee that people won't talk about their dog's poop, but you COULD just follow news accounts or something. Like I said, Twitter is what you make of it. For me, I get news and information, but I also get updates on what my friends are doing. I work at home, so there's no water cooler to chat at or break room to chill in."
There's silence for a little while, then my mom stiffly says, "Well, I talk to people in REAL LIFE. It's your fault that you don't." Annnnnndddddd thank-you mommy. Once again, you've missed the point. She continues, talking about how I really don't have any interests or ever go out and try things and my life is so pathetic (pathetic wasn't the exact word she used, but it's close enough). I interrupt. "No interests? Never go out? You know, out of all the us kids, I try more new things, I have the most varied interests, and I am the most adventurous one (no offense to my siblings!). Just because I work from home doesn't make me an invalid. Sure I'm not rubbing elbows with a million people a day, but I try to get out every day, try to talk to people. I like trying new things, I like learning… Come on, mommy." She's horrified, like I had just kicked a puppy. "ALL YOU DO IS THE SAME THING EVERY DAY. LETTERING. THAT'S ALL. NOAH MAKES PRESENTATIONS, TAKES PHOTOS, FILMS THINGS, MAKES CHARTS, HELPS AT EVENTS. DO YOU DO THOSE THINGS?"
Hm. Take photos? Yes. For work? Nope. Makes presentations? Well, I haven't in a few years, but I think some 5+ years of Webcomics panels, being a Minna no Anime officer for a while, all those school presentations, and Oh! Yes! That 3-hour presentation! Yeah, I've made presentations. Professional-level ones for school things definitely. Not for work though, my job just doesn't entail that. Film things? Yeah, but not for work. Makes charts? Oh! Yes! And I've done it for work (to put on pages)! Helps at events… well, I'm staffing at Fanime, though behind the scenes stuff… so that sorta counts? So yeah mom, I do those things. Maybe not for work, but I do them. And my job? What do you think it is? It's not like put A on B, rinse, repeat. Some days I just put text on pages, but others I'm redrawing famous works of art, developing my own font, or juggling four programs at once. It's not the same thing day-in, day-out. I take a couple deep breaths, trying to steady myself.
"Mommy, I know you don't approve of my job." "I NEVE—" "You don't need to come out and say it this time, you've told me it plenty of times before and it's pretty obvious with how you refer to my job you don't think it's an actual job and you definitely don't approve of it. Don't tiptoe around it. I'm, sorry you don't approve, but I love my job. I may whine about it, but I love it." Again, it's like I've kicked a puppy. "Annaliese!!! You're always playing the victim! I NEVER SAID THAT! You're always making things up about how people are out to get you! Just like how every teacher is out to get you!" (Once upon a time there was a high school advanced chemistry teacher that told my class straight-out that she was going to make the class as hard as possible to show us we weren't ready for college. From what I hear, the administration told her to pull back a bit when the certified genius in our class was repeatedly getting D's. The rest of us failed every test, btw. Another time I had a Stats teacher that didn't really teach, so the whole class did poorly. The last time was when a teacher was indeed picking on me, marking me down for correct answers because of silly reasons. As soon as I started kissing his ass, he started grading me just like the other students and turned his strange misplaced wrath on another student that sat near me. That's all I can remember about teachers "out to get" "me." Some bad teachers and one asshole. The End.)
My mom isn't done trying to put me down yet. "All anime people think alike. Always victims, all the same interests, never leave the house, the same opinions. And YOU! You always only talk about anime! Why do you always just tell me about things I don't care about? Why are you like this, Annaliese?" …………………………In tonight's top news, everyone that likes something MUST BE ALL THE SAME! Hey anime friends, I guess we're all basement dwellers that never see the sun. We have one hive mind, and everyone is out to get us. Just thought I'd let you know! Luckily, it was at about this point when we got to Mamian's place and I was able to cool my head. (P.S, mother: I don't ALWAYS talk to you about anime, and most of the time when I DO? It's just that anime is a vehicle for the conversation. Like… "I have this friend, we met online during a discussion of _____ anime series. So we decided to do this art project together…)
The ride home was pretty nice and calm. My mom tried to bring up bits of the argument but I was in NOPE.JPG mode about it the whole ride home. I chatted politely, but just ignored what she said anytime it felt like she was prodding at me. So she decided it would be SUPER COOL to talk about plants for most of the trip. Because, *ahem*, let me quote myself here, You always only talk about anime! Why do you always just tell me about things I don't care about? Oh, sorry, sorry, here we go: You always only talk about
In other family blow-ups, it's totally okay for my uncle and dad to complain about taxes, but I should shut my mouth because I have no idea what I'm talking about. It's not like I have to pay taxe— Oh wait, I do. Four times a year. Yeah. But really, not like I understand how it feels to suddenly have the government decide that you owe $12k more than they themselves predicted and will make you pay a fine because you made more than they thought, right? Yeah! Oh… OHHHH WAIIITTT, THAT DID HAPPEN! How crazy! But to be honest, it's not like I have to pay property tax and stuff, so I'll quiet down a bit. What's that? Tax deductions? Yeah, I can deduct a lot of things because my job is pretty much my life, so that's really nice. Books, programs, trips places (when they include buying supplies for work)… Okay, yeah, here we go, gonna chew my ear off on how it's "not right" to deduct some of these things even though my tax preparer encourages me to write off MORE than I do. Ugh.