Underneath my yellow skin

Set phasers to neutral

I’ve been watching a lot of reaction videos to Tim Minchin songs lately. Why? Because! I’ve been into Tim for decades and I thought he was pretty niche. Well, he was. He’s gotten bigger (and, sadly, more conservative not in politics, maybe, but in ideas) over the years.

My favorite to watch is White Wine in the Sun because people do not expect it at all. Tim is hilarious in a dark way, saynig things you don’t say out loud. He’s an atheist and very outspoken about it. So you’d think the song would be bitingly acerbic. You might not even know it’s about Christmas–which it is.

Then, there’s the dawning realization that while it des have a few digs at Christianity, it’s mostly a heartwarming song about his love for his baby daughter. It’s just a really sweet song and one of two Christmas songs that I actually like. It makes me tear up every time I listen to it.

Last year and this year, however, it hits especially hard. See, I think of it as an atheist Christmas carol, but it’s really an ode to family. And family is something I have written endlessly on, about how dysfuctional my family is.

I’ve also mentioned a time or a hundred that it was when I died and came back again–

By the way, I want to get a t-shirt that says, “I rose from the dead twice” on the front and “That makes me better than Jesus” on the back, but I won’t because that would be rude. But it’s funny. I told it to K and she burst out laughing. And she’s spiritual!

Anyway, dying puts things in perspective. It can bring out the best in people like my brother. He was my rock and held it down while I was unconscious. He did it all without a word of complaint. He talked to my medical team every day, and it was on him to make decisions for me because I did not have a partner.

He did all this while shuttling his sons around and still being a realtor. He didn’t forego his daily responsibilities, but he visited me almost every day. He wrote in his Caring Bridge journal about what was happening to me, but very little about his emottons.

It also brought out the absolute worst in my parents. And I will never forgive them for it. I was at my most vulnerable and they made it worse. So much worse. I really wish my brother hadn’t told them (I’m not blaming him, mind. He had to tell them. But, in retrospect, we colud have told them I had gone to Ian’s and they would have been none the wiser.

Think of that. I died. Twice. I was unconscious for a week (in a coma). And I would have preferred my parents not to have known.

This is something I’ve been grappling with in the last year. I can’t count on my parents in my time of need. The second day I was home from the hospital, drugged up and exhausted, my mother guilt-tripped me into showing a Taiji stretch to my father. Because he had a bad back. When I tried to demur, she pushed me even harder and I did not have the strength (either physically or emotionally) to push back.

It’s a very gentle stretch and on a normal day, I do it three times to each side without even thinking about it. The second day back from the hospital, though, it wore me out. I could barely get up by the end of it (you have to do it while lying on the floor).

This was when I fully realized that my mother would choose my father over me every day, all day long, and without a second thought. I died. Twice. And yet, my father’s bad back was more important. This is my mom’s brain. Everything is pushed out except my father’s comfort.

It would be profoundly sad if it weren’t profoundly aggravating. I’ll get to that in a second, but another thing is that my mom will bemoan that we are not close. She likes to labor under the impression that we were at one point, but she would be incorrect. Anyway, a month or so after she went back to Taiwan, she sent me an overwrought email about how we’re no longer close and she doesn’t know what to say to me any longer.

It was very carefully worded to make me feel guilty for making her feel bad, but what she doesn’t not acknowledge is that she has no interest in anything I have to say. I can give you a long litany–and I will! Back when I was in my twenties, I told her I was bisexual. After moaning about how I used to be  so boy-crazy, she asked me what was next, animals? Then she told me not to tell my father and never to bring it up again.

From the time I was 26 until I was 40, she nagged me to have children almost every time we talked. When I said that I did not want them, she said it didn’t matter what I wanted–it was my duty as a woman to have them. She cried to my brother abotu how special it was when a daughter had children (fun fact–she was thousands of miles away from her mother when she had my brother and me–and my grandmother never really acknowledged she had kids).

Once I hit forty, she gave up on kids, but then started nagging at me to get married so I would have someone to look after me once I got old. Which made me nearly burst out laughing beacuse she has catered to my father all our lives. Now, her days are filled with taking him to the doctor and neglecting her own health becasue she’s too busy dealing with his. When she had surgery a few years ago, he was no help at all.

When they were last here, I decided to show my mother the Sword Form. Why, I have no idea. I normally try to keep Taiji as far away from my parents as possible because it’s something that is just mine, but let’s blame the drugs.  I could only use the wooden sword and showed her the first few movements. She laughed awkwardly in the way she did when she was uncomfortable and said it was ‘cute’. Cute?!? CUTE????? I was insulted and told her sharply it wasn’t cute. I mean, come on. She could have at least said it was interesting if she wanted to go for bland and didn’t know what to say!

When Ian visited, I showed him the Double Saber Form just because. Well, in part because I do it every day. He exhaled audibly and said it was beautiful. I got tears in my eyes because it was so nice to hear about somtehing that means so much to me. He didn’t know Taiji at all except what I’d told him, so it wasn’t like he knew that much more than my mother. And yet, his reaction was in stark contract to her uncomfortable condescension. It wasn’t that hard to say something positive (and he meant it!), but yet, my mother couldn’t manage it at all.

It’s like the time I showed her a short story I had written because I had the insane desire to show her my writing. No idea why. It was a very bad idea. I chose something with no violence or sex–and it was set in the Hennepin County Government Center. I thought she would appreciate that because she had worked there for thirty years.

Nope. Her only comment was how there were so many svwear words in the story. I was crushed and vowed never to show her my writing–and I haven’t.

She is not capable of caring about anything that matters to me. She has showed that to me over and over again. I need to accept that it’ll be true for the rest of her life.


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