Category Archives:Family

Open Minds

Ever since I can remember I’ve been interested in the world, other cultures and travel. Especially after my step dad, when he was still dating my mom, invited us to live with him in Arizona for a few months while he worked construction. He had borrowed an RV from a friend for weekend trips, and we stayed in a mobile home on the San Carlos Reservation, an hour or two from Phoenix. In the RV, we visited just about every seeable sight in Arizona within a few hours of us, which is a lot. I spent my days, when my step dad was working, roaming the desert, catching lizards – as I had caught frogs when in the northwest. My om sat around the mobile home listening to CMT (country music television) which I couldn’t stand and was more than happy to be away from her. My school in Idaho had let me finish the school year by mailing in my homework, which I of course did on my own.

On the reservation, cows and horses roamed free so I would follow them around the riverbeds on their daily route to get water from the San Carlos Lake. By 10 I had decided that when I grew up I would either move back to Arizona and/or would live in or near a large city. When we returned months later I had to go into my school for one last assignment for the year, a presentation on Arizona. Before I left these kids had bullied me, thrown rocks at me, de-pants me (pantst?… pulled my pants down), called me names etc, now they were suddenly interested in me and my worldly life. Fuck them.

Later that year, a little before my mom and step dad married, we moved to Montana about 3 hours away from where we lived before, which was a half hour away from where I lived before that and so on and so forth, this would be my 8th school or so. After the first year however, my mom decided to “home school me” I was stoked, I hated other kids, and since my mom didn’t actually “school me” in any way I could just fill in my workbooks and spend the rest of the time playing. My step dad still worked long construction jobs and was usually gone the entire summer so I was free to watch whatever I wanted on our satellite TV with hundreds of channels from all over the world.

I cultured myself and trained myself to be curious, open minded and not think of the US as special, best or better than anyone else. I had already for many years refused to say the pledge of allegiance in school, half the time I don’t know why I don’t like things and years later find out why they didn’t sit right with me, that was a big one.

– me, just now

In Montana, we had some older neighbours in a mobile home down the road. I have always loved old people, having never had grandparents of my own, so I would visit them and we watched the entirety of Roots, something my step dad would have probably yelled at them about because he was a raging racist. I never appreciated that couple as much as I should have but what 10 year old would have…an anti-racist couple in rural Montana, what a couple of gems.

My step dad grew annoyed with my curiosity and other cultures, that I liked Boys2Men and not NKOTB (new kids on the block) and warned me a few times about “bringing home friends” who weren’t white. As for most of my childhood, I said nothing, kept my head down and waited to get the fuck away from these people.

They got divorced and within a couple years I was away from them, though in a Girl’s Home in eastern Montana instead. From 13 on I had no parents, though you can barely say I had them before that either.

Just a rant, sorry, no real punchline!

Sibling BBQ

So, I mentioned to Sarah that we should get together before she leaves for Vegas for a week but she took it as “all of us” and set up a group text message and made BBQ plans. Not what I had in mind but it mostly worked out. My other half sister Aimee and Sarah’s full brother Emery are very ‘country’ to put it one way. Aimee at least seems like fun but she’s also really religious, which is the opposite of fun to me. Emery didn’t really say anything and had really simple answers for anything I thought to ask. His wife, Kelly, was a little more talkative.

Aimee’s husband Chris is a tall, religious goober who likes to shoot animals, like, a lot. He didn’t say much but did walk up to me and start poking the big scar on my arm – subtle. Then everyone was looking at it and had to know where it came from, “a burn” I said. Technically true.

Aimee and Chris live on a giant property with 6 acres of green houses, a few horses, a Weimaraner, and a new female mule. Aimee is really into gaming and apparently has a game room like us, bur probably 10 times bigger and with way more consoles it sounds like.

Emery owns a construction company like I might have mentioned and is a pretty simple, short, fat man with a goatee. He was a jerk to Sarah as Travis was to me so I gathered he’s probably similar in a lot of ways. However I mentioned Travis and how mean he was and Emery said he’s surprised he isn’t in prison for murder or something – and that’s from knowing Travis when they were like 8-10 years old so that’s saying a lot. I am probably lucky I lived through having a brother like that.

I took no pictures but did get a couple pics of photos of our dad looking nothing like I ever imagined haha. What a dork.

Dumb Brains

So, I haven’t heard from my sister, Sarah this weekend so I assume she hates me and doesn’t want to talk to me anymore. I called my other sister Aimee and she didn’t answer or call back so I assume she doesn’t want to talk to me either. I did tell her that we’d probably be in CDA National Forest all day with no service but still, most of me assumed she would call anyways. Maybe this makes no sense, but I can’t help but feel like it does.

My brother Emery called this week and the conversation was mostly awkward and dumb. I tried to think of things to ask. He mentioned our dad being a drunk. I don’t remember him so it’s hard for me to comment really. The conversation ended with him saying “I’m really busy all the time and never take days off” aka, “so I’ll probably never see you, bye”.

Lisa, who I’ve known forever, mostly seems to want me to leave any time I’m around her. Like she decided a while ago that the friendship wasn’t worth it and merely tolerates me.

Ash will only keep plans or be available if it involves paying her.

I must be the worst person on the fucking planet. I won’t bother them anymore. I never should have assumed we were friends apparently.

I met my sister

So I called my sister mentioned in the previous blog. It was pretty hard for me, but I figured if I added so many new family members to my life in the last couple years and somehow coped (with therapy), I should be able to add an actually close relative, my half sister with a shared dad.

We met at a place on the north side that has lots of great vegan options and non vegan for them. She brought along her 2 daughters, which I wasn’t expecting but I was excited about. The idea of having nieces is pretty cool to me. I never thought I’d have any.

One is 22 and one is 15, Dejana and Devanee. We talked a lot about our father, our DNA tests and how confusing it all is. Apparently our father, as I was told, identified completely with being Native American, although our dna suggests there wasn’t much. DNA sites are always adding new data but it’s still surprising. Our dad literally went by the nickname “Indian Dave” in the town he lived in before he died. His story is pretty much one of the most tragic I can think of – but hopefully I learn more about him and find that he had at least some happiness.

I definitely feel different having met them and knowing more about our dad. It’s like questions that I’ve had all my life have been somewhat answered and satisfied to the best they can be. I’d still love to meet some of his friends in WallaWalla and see what they knew about him.

Off to a dr appointment so, more later!

*The feature image of the camper in the desert, is how I imagine our dad living for the last 20 years. He lived off grid on some mountain in a trailer.

You can buy a print of that interesting gem of a home here:

Cha-cha-cha-changes 🥺

Sooo, this evening I got an email from someone I haven’t seen since I was probably 5 and haven’t heard from since I was 12. With no contact in between. My half sister, Sarah. She was in high school when she wrote me the last time and I remember her letter seeming final, like she didn’t expect or need a reply, but I don’t really remember who even wrote who first. I still have the high school photo she included with her big permed 80s hair (it was 1991 so, understandable).

Since then I’ve spent a lot of time looking for our father and failing. I even found her brother Emery when I was about 15 and called to talk to him about our dad. He sounded like a redneck and couldn’t care less if I ever called again. In the last couple years I got a DNA test that made me question if he even was my father, and her my half sister.

Most of the doubt is because my first DNA test at 23 and Me came back 99% European and about 1% native American. My dad had dark skin from photos I saw, so I uploaded my DNA to another website, MyHeritage, which added 20% Iberian, which sounded more plausible, but really, confused me even more. It was through that website that Sarah contacted me and I saw through our dna that we are indeed related and share a father. So at least that question was answered. Screenshots from both sites:

23 and Me

And now a photo of our dad…hmmmmm. Me and Sara don’t even share Iberian, in fact I have Iberian and she has a little Italian. Very odd. And MyHeritage doesn’t show any native American, which I understand has to do with their databases.

At the same time I found out that I have another half sister, I also found out that our father is dead. Wtf life. It’s not that I wanted to meet him really, but I did want to learn more about him. No one seems to know anything at all about his past, parents, where in the country he’s from.

We’re half sisters, but only 28% related. I have another DNA test to send out to another site that might at least straighten out the Iberian thing. So confusing.

She has 2 daughters, one in her 20s and the other in highschool. So I have actual nieces. Half nieces but still…. So much to process. She sent me her number and lives in town, so I guess I better plan what to say. 😵

Always bringing us down

No matter how much time has passed our mother will always show her true self with an insult. 

When I was 19 and hadn’t talked to her for a couple years… after she moved to Idaho and left me in a studio apartment waiting to get evicted, my sister tricked me into stopping by her work in Couer d’Alene by saying she needed to stop and get something. The first thing our mother said to me was “I thought you’d be taller”. 

When she hasn’t seen my sister in years she usually starts with “you got fat” or telling her that her hygiene isn’t good enough. My sister reacts better than me however, she’ll just leave. I think I just ignored it for years, pretended I was her favorite because she’d shit talk my sister so much and never mention my brother. But really I was a scapegoat and somehow relieved her guilt for how she’s treated us.

She’ll never change. I haven’t talked to her since May 2018, She texted me in November with a little nicity, followed by “saw your website, I liked it when it was more personal”. 

It doesn’t sound like a big deal and I don’t even know which website she’s talking about, I have many, and they’ve all been the same themes for years, which only emphasizes how little she’s ever paid attention to my life. I mean, she doesn’t have to read my blogs of course, but she shouldn’t pretend to know what they look like just to have a new insult to sling. It’s just a build up of the same negative feedback she’s always given in a passive-aggressive way. 

Since she’s been gone

Since I haven’t spoken to her, and try not to even think about her, she’s become a more and more abstract person from my past, in the place she should have been decades ago. I didn’t speak to her from age 16 to 21 and did fine, but I got sucked back in and immediately regretted it.

Within a short time of renting a room from me in this big house I had in Portland, I don’t know why I couldn’t say no, she had managed to screw my life up. She suggested we share an insurance policy so mine would be cheaper and by the second month she had removed me from the policy without telling me. I hit a car backing out of a space at a grocery store and had to later explain to the woman why my insurance was no good. I asked my mom why and she said “I didn’t want to have to trust you to pay it” – despite it being her idea and my never being late on my own policy before her suggestion. The woman from the parking lot sued me even after I offered to make payments on her body work. $2000 I needed, to pay things like car insurance. I of course couldn’t pay it immediately and now had an uninsured motorist note on my record making it impossible for me to get affordable insurance at that age.

That’s just a small sample of her effect on my life whenever she’s in it. She doesn’t trust us, has never believed in us as capable humans (despite her…ok, well only me and maybe a bit my brother – but that’s her fault). Of course half the planet will say “buck up, take responsibility”, but that’s easy to say for people raised by normal people or people who keep their emotional and mental health locked up inside. I’ve always been sensitive and never got any sympathy or empathy from that woman. Not so much as a hug until I was in my 30s, and that was awkward. A childhood where being tucked in is the closest thing to affection from a parent (or anyone) you can get. If you don’t understand you just never will.

Getting on the road in the RV, after we dropped her off in New Mexico of course, was my chance to get away from her and stay away since I was more prone to continuously get sucked in and screwed over by her. Even if she seemed harmless and like she had nothing over you, she’d find something.

Aside from writing this posts, one I found in drafts and decided to finish, I don’t think about her much at all. Which is actually huge for me. 2 years ago when I started therapy, just about everything I did was haunted by memories from my childhood or worry about her future as an insane person, now making other people’s lives miserable. I wanted to apologize to everyone for her, fix her, help her without her moving in with us. But now, I can see things more clearly. She’s not my responsibility, I’m not the parent. She was barely a parent to us and will never be the aging mother sitting in a kitchen having coffee with me, not asking for money for cat food because she spent it all on ice cream and book clubs, not talking shit about everyone who ever tried to do anything good for her. She will be in care facilities or mental hospitals, stealing checks from her roommates and treating the staff like slaves. She doesn’t need us and never did. She only wanted me in her life so that someone would be on her side and let her k now she was doing the right thing, whatever that may be. I won’t be that sucker anymore, giving myself and getting in return a woman who knows nothing about me as a person, knows nothing about my life she can’t manipulate. Sorry, bye.

K. Back to not thinking about her anymore!

Photo 1: An abandoned cabin in a ghost town in western Montana. One of the houses was suspiciously newer and papers inside dated the last residence in the early 90s. Squatters perhaps, because the house was in rough shape.

Photo 2: The beach of Lake Erie. Partner was out of town for work so I had the RV park to myself, except for this odd couple. I would wander down to the beach during the day when I was tired of working and build little sculpture gardens out of the debris and garbage.

Throwing People’s Stuff Away

So, Sunday I spent the afternoon helping my aunt and uncle sort through my mother’s things, abandoned in her basement, into piles of what should be thrown away, what should be donated and what I might want. I didn’t really want anything but there were some dishes and a diffuser, a fan, and some family photos. It’s not that my mother is dead, they just didn’t want her things anymore after she’s been gone with no contact for nearly a year.

I couldn’t offer any alternative. I’m not going to pay for a storage unit and I have no use for most of it. I took 3 boxes of DVDs and VHS tapes for my friend, otherwise my aunt wasn’t even going to donate them, just toss them. There are some ok ones in there, we found 3. The rest will get a new eternal life with my friend’s vintage media center setup.

There were a few things that I recognized from my childhood even, but most everything was useless, newish or junk. She loves to shop and has abandoned her possessions many times in her life, often just taking what will fit in her Jeep – which my aunt and uncle also sold. I think it’s all great. They never had any reason to store her things for her. She stayed with them for months not paying them a dime from her generous SSI check and barely said thanks. The last interaction they had was my mother threatening to pee in her shed if my aunt. who was on vacation at Glacier, didn’t let her in the house to sleep there.

To be fair, my mother was a pretty bad Fentenol addict by then and not being especially manageable. She had left a care facility of her own accord, when she actually had 30 days until she was evicted, and showed up at a hotel wanting me to pay the weekly rate for who knows how long. I could not afford that. I paid for a night and sent her an email for a women’s shelter in the area. I didn’t hear from her again for a while but found out she ended up in Spokane in a homeless shelter, then hospital, then train station, then she somehow got a ride an hour back out to my aunt and uncle’s place so she could live in her Jeep, and subsequently threatened to defile my aunts shed. It was a very frustrating time. She couldn’t physically stay with us due to needing a scooter and/or walker to get around, she was being rude and nasty to everyone who didn’t reward her for her foolish mistake of leaving the care facility early without provocation. On facebook she went on a rant about her family being ‘fake christians’ and ‘sheeple’.  Not referring to me with the former, as I’m an atheist (*distant gasps*), but sure, I’m a sheeple if you like.

She was evicted for numerous reasons from the care facility. She demanded all sorts of special attention, wanted her clothing washed twice a day in the least, argued about paying rent (a state mandated amount) and worst of all, she wrote blank checks that her roommate gave her to use for snacks – as a favor while she was already there. My mother had been filling the checks out for $50 and keeping the change – for who knows what. These places provide everything you need except maybe some medication costs, of which she gets to keep $100 a month to pay that with. Her roommate soon after died. That pissed me off, she died knowing that someone she thought was her friend was stealing from her.

After all the following incidents, she was eventually put into a new place, who knows how she got herself to the top of the waiting lists. She had already screwed up 3 facilities by now. She was there just a few days before she was at the hospital nearly every day to get a pain injection. They had taken her off Fentenol without warning – which I don’t understand because that sounds dangerous. A week into the stay, she cut her leg so badly, on purpose, that it was considered a suicide attempt. The hospital called me to come get her, telling me that if I didn’t she’d be out on the street. I not only didn’t have a place for her to go but didn’t appreciate the threat and guilt trip. I told the woman, “She abandoned me as a teenager, I don’t think I owe her anything. I’m not qualified to help her with her needs, and she can’t get into our RV anyway”. I found out later that they can’t just throw patients out on the street anyway, the woman had lied to make me feel bad. The care facility refused to take her back (place #4) and she was taken by a policeman to a state run mental facility half a state away.

She wrote me while she was there, a lot, like 21 letters full of absolutely nothing. We were traveling around so I didn’t get them for over a month. Then, I ended up sending her late Christmas present to the wrong place because she told me she’d be in a new place by then, then, when I wrote her back, she had already moved on to another state facility. Over this time my therapist was a big help, helping me be less of a mess worrying about her and eventually helping me cut off contact entirely. Which I’m still struggling to do. Having a relationship with her is hard work and stressful, and due to our awful past, I will probably always feel uncomfortable around her. My plan is usually to have a few beers before I even see her and try to keep her busy so she doesn’t start talking about the past. She doesn’t talk about it in a way that’s productive, just things like “I wasn’t really sure who your real dad was until you were born. there was a blonde guy who could have been the father” – I was born blonde and the guy she always told me was my dad had black hair and darkish skin – so I think she got that wrong, thanks mom. I seriously don’t need bombshells like that – every – damn – time – we – see – each other. She is incapable of reconciling with the past, she is a self convinced liar and remembers things very differently. I tried to talk to her once and she told me “well, I went to therapy and I dealt with it so I’m fine… you’ll have to get over it” something like that, instead of “I’m really sorry for how I treated you kids, I admit I was irresponsible etc etc”, anything. My whole childhood was a lot of “you’re fine, get over it”. So I almost never cried or complained, and certainly didn’t depend on her to be there for me, and she obliged.

Divvying up her things, like she’s dead, was weird, but she will be in facilities from now on, either for mental reasons or her physical disabilities, and she could have contacted my aunt months and months ago, apologized, and sorted something out, but she did not. It’s really hard to go on with our lives and get comfortable, maybe even settle down in the area. I’ve spent the last 15 years worrying about her showing up at my doorstep – her and my sister, because they have. I don’t want to be like them, I don’t want to feel guilty for doing well or being comfortable – them both making me feel like Ross and I have so much we should give extra to them. “I don’t have anything to lend you” – “could Ross pay for it?”.. “no.” – that I can say no to. I won’t drag Ross into this mess that I need to learn to control myself. All helping them would ever do is enable them to keep it up, and make us miserable in the process, so the consequence is that they might resent me – which I’m trying to be ok with. “No you can’t even know where I live, seriously, because I know you’ll just show up on the front lawn” – is the level of no I have to be able to tell them.