I would be lying to say that part of our Disneyland scheme wasn't to find an apartment and get out of town as quickly as possible. Part of this was because we felt like maybe running away would give Mom a wakeup call, and part of it was that it was becoming clearer and clearer that Mom wanted to move to Fresno and leave us with all the packing and moving of all the stuff in the Glendale apartment. Thanks.
So possibly the ultra-hyper-suckiness alpha 3 (okay, so it probably wasn't that bad, and I'm sure there are people who have been through much, much worse) that followed was divine retribution.
Before I go into that, I would like to say that we were still trying to talk some sense in Mom. We would have preferred she not marry Steve at all, but, seeing that that wasn't an option, we settled on trying to get her to wait. That way Sarah, who was on drill team at her school, would be able to stay at that school long enough to go to the competitions, the company Mom was working for that really loved her would have her for tax season, and we would have some time to figure out what to do with ourselves.
It seemed like a win-win idea for everyone, but Mom was convinced that if she didn't marry Steve that December, she would be too busy with tax season to see him, he would find another woman in the meantime, and she would be alone and miserable for the rest of eternity. This is not an exaggeration, and any time we tried to approach the situation, it always ended up with that argument. She did have one plausible argument--that if she waited until after tax season, accounting firms wouldn't be hiring as much. I'll give her that one, but that doesn't mean I can't find a bunch of arguments against it. It's moot now, though.
And because we were trying to get her to wait to get married, thus condemning her to an eternity of solitude and misery, we were even more evil. And, whenever Sarah agreed with us, we were still more evil for being a bad influence.
Anyway, as for the apartment search. We were working together with a friend (the afore-mentioned Ginger) with the whole crazy Disneyland scheme. She came with us to apply, and got hired herself. Now the only problem was finding a place, which none of us was quite sure how to do. It didn't help that none of us drove. We were all mega-stressed, and I felt bad for dragging her into it. She was fortunate enough to have a family who she could still live with if everything fell through, and who cared enough to forbid her from taking public transportation through Los Angeles during the wee hours of the morning after working at Disneyland. In contrast, the few times Mom did give me a ride home from work, I was constantly lectured for causing everyone else so much inconvenience.
This was especially trying because I was trying to do what Mom wanted us to do--get a job and move out--but all I got was criticism. Now you can see why we were less than enthusiastic about Mother's Day. We went to her once, I think before we applied at Disneyland, and said we felt like we were trying so hard to do the right thing but we only ever met with failure. Her response to that was to ask if we needed counseling. Based on how she was so happy with the results of Celeste's anti-depressants, we assume (though possibly incorrectly) that she was hoping she could get some magic prescription for us to make her troubles go away. We said sure, we'd love counseling, because I'm always curious to know what a professional psychologist would say about my sanity.
So she took us to the bishop, because she would need help to pay for counseling, and that's where she'd get it. He wanted to talk to us to see if he felt we needed counseling before signing us up for anything. Not surprisingly, he judged us as being sane, and said Mom could benefit from listening to us once in a while. So she asked us what we thought about her availability to the firm she was working for for tax season, we said something she didn't like, and that was the end of that.
But now I've gotten off-topic. Due to all the stress of everything, we realized that our plan of sneaking out and into our own apartment was not going to happen. Mom was still railing at us to stop talking big and do something, so I finally asked her to help us. I was a wreck at the time. Ginger was there at the time, and, unbeknownst to me, decided to ask her own mother as well. The next day, Mom comes to us with a plan to come down to Anaheim with Steve the next weekend and go apartment-hunting. Much as we hated Steve, it was comforting to have a plan that involved someone who knew what they were doing. And one thing that we learned about Steve is that he knows how to get what he wants, so we should be able to get a good apartment.
So for a brief time, we felt like things might finally work. Then Ginger called. She had talked to her mom, as I mentioned before, and her mom suggested going down to Anaheim the very next day to look for apartments. Stress combined with stupidity led me to ask to please not have to. I think I already knew by then that anytime anyone wants me to change my mind, they decide to let me think about it and make the decision on my own. I told her not to let me make the decision, because I always decide wrong, but she put it in my hands anyway. So we decided not to go with her mom. When I called her back and told her, she said it was okay, but I wasn't convinced, so I kept talking in the hopes that she would come out and say, "On second thought..." or something, but she didn't.
Later, we got a phonecall from Mom. She said she'd heard that we had turned down an offer from someone to help us go apartment hunting, and that if we weren't going to help ourselves, she couldn't help us either. Obviously Ginger wasn't as okay as she'd tried to lead me to believe. I don't hold this against her, because when you need an apartment, it really is a better idea to look for one. She had spoken with her mother again, probably because she was stressed and needed someone to talk to (apparently she was so stressed that she called in sick and not gone to work, despite having been in transit to Disneyland when I talked to her). But she had forgotten that ever since elementary school, her mother had been in the habit of calling our mother and telling her to punish us whenever we did something wrong.
We were devastated (yes, again). We didn't know what to do. We had put up with people telling us everything was okay when things weren't for far too long (our roommates had been exceedingly stupid to us our last year of college), and we didn't want to take it anymore. We decided to go to the afore-mentioned bishop and see if he had any advice. Since he was also in charge of Institute, we walked over to the Institute building to see if he was there. We could have called, but we needed to get away somewhere. He wasn't, so we walked to the church. He still wasn't there. We didn't want to go home, so we waited until it started getting dark and cold, and then we started wandering around town. We finally made it to a shopping complex, where we found a payphone and called the bishop. He picked us up and took us to the church where we started talking.
Now, while we were walking around town, we were talking. It was at this point that we thought maybe our best option would be to forget everything and move to Japan. We also realized that if we didn't move to Japan just then, it would be a long time before we could afford any sort of trip to Japan, because all our money would go to an apartment and bills and stuff. We told all this to the bishop, and he thought it wasn't a bad idea, so he called the previous bishop of the ward, who had also been on a mission to Japan and still had contacts there.
While we waited to hear back from him, we went and got passports, I kept trying to quit work at Disneyland, etc. etc. We told Ginger our plans, and she was supportive, but it was about then that she stopped talking to us, except in cases where she was my ride home from work, or when I met her in the costuming center.
I don't think it was the Japan thing that turned her against us so much as the Aurora thing. Aurora, our oldest sister, had come back to Glendale from Utah so she could work for her favorite company singing Christmas carols. She had a friend who was going to put her up once rent ran out on the place we were all living, but there was some roommate thing, and the plans fell through. And so one day she just says, "So I was thinking we could all get an apartment together." We say, "Um... we're moving to Japan." "Right, whatever. I'm going to need Athena to come with me and look at these apartments..."
To this day, we don't know whose idea it was--Mom's, Aurora's, Steve's. But we do know that Aurora had no money, and we had 2.5grand and better credit than the entire family. We definitely felt like we were being taken advantage of. Aurora's got a very dominating personality, so we went along with the idea for lack of any other options, but we did tell her we were going to move to Japan.
And of course, as it turns out, our Japan thing fell through. We felt that in this case, we were probably better off moving into a place with Ginger, but by that time family problems were keeping her with them.
Aurora was actually being pretty friendly by this point. We needed some friendliness, so I was willing to believe it was genuine, until I heard her talking on the phone one time about how she was trying so hard to be nice to us but all we were doing was giving her grief. This probably has something to do with the lack of packing that was going on. As I mentioned before, it was pretty obvious that Mom expected us to take care of all the packing, and I really do think that she made her plans specifically to get out of doing it herself.
I had to be gone almost all the time because it took just as long to get to work as it did to work a shift, and I was really worn out the rest of the time. But that didn't excuse Athena. She didn't want to pack by herself. It felt especially unfair because the family moved into that place three weeks before we went to college--most of our stuff was in boxes already from lack of anywhere else to put it.
But we did manage to unpack some very important things--our manga and DVDs--which were prominently displayed on shelves in the living room. Apparently these represented all of our worldly possesssions, and those of everyone in the family, and therefore if they weren't packed, nothing else was packed. We were thinking we had better pack them last, in case we wanted to look at any of them, and we figured it wouldn't take long to pack them. So when we were packing, we were sorting everything everyone (including Aurora) had accumulated in the bedroom, so it was rather difficult to monitor our progress. Aurora, of course, didn't have to pack because, not only was she working singing Christmas carols, but she was working as a receptionist type something at the firm that loved Mom so much. It must be nice being the favorite.
But since the manga and DVDs represented everything everybody owned, the fact that they weren't packed was stressing Aurora out to no end. Then one day, she said that if the manga wasn't packed within forty-eight hours, she personally would throw it all away. This is not the best way to deal with the people who will be paying your rent. We decided to leave. We said we were going to buy packing tape, and we meant to, but first we wanted to go hide somewhere, so we walked to the nearby Barnes & Noble. It started raining torrentially while we were there, so we bought some new shoes for Athena at the FootLocker next door and walked back.
When we got back, the couches were gone. This was the day that Mom and Steve were going to come get Sarah and take her to their new life in Fresno. Since they could only come down for one day, it was Aurora's job to call a moving company to move all the furniture into our apartment. All the furniture, except the couches, which Aurora was ashamed of and had thrown away.
Not having a couch is a very, very lonely feeling.
Aurora was also there, and she said she was worried about us. This was the Tuesday after Christmas, so Mom and Steve left the presents for us (a $25 gift card from BestBuy each and a t-shirt for Athena, since she was the recipient of Sarah's gift this year--Aurora was supposed to give me a present; I got nothing) and went out to dinner with Sarah and Steve's son, whom they brought to help with the moving. We met up with them at the restaurant and gave them the presents we had bought--a Snow White picture frame and little purse thing for Sarah (I had Sarah; Athena had Celeste, but Celeste was in Oregon) and a Haunted Mansion Clue game for their family. Steve assured us that we could play Clue with them when we visited, but guess who's never played Haunted Mansion Clue. And there's my bitterness coming out again.
When we got back from the restaurant, the piano and all the sheet music on the piano (my favorite sheet music, because it's what I like to play) was drenched. We had sprung a leak. I called Mom and asked what to do, and she said to have Aurora talk to the manager. We were pretty freaked out, because, one, all my favorite sheet music was drenched (including the autographed Shunichi Miyamoto sheet music that baranoneko and setralynn were kind enough to get us while they were in Japan), and two, last time we had a leak and didn't do anything about it in torrential rain, the ceiling collapsed. We followed Mom's instructions, but Aurora didn't want to go to the manager, and, she said, they couldn't do anything about it anyway since it was New Year's weekend, and don't worry the ceiling's not going to collapse.
I'm sure you can all guess that the ceiling did, in fact, collapse. Aurora argues, and she's right, that if we cared so much about it, we could have talked to the manager. Still, we had had it. Especially after the comment, "I'm just trying to be nice to you! It's a wonder anybody is." This was something we couldn't argue with, as we had just been very successful in alienating our last friend.
So I called Mom and told her there was no way we could live with Aurora. It almost seems like she was waiting for this call, because the next thing we knew, she and Steve were in the office of an apartment complex in Fresno (Clovis, actually) getting ready to have them draw up a lease. Still, we didn't think it would be right to leave Aurora out in the streets, so we asked her what she thought about it, and, like everyone else who's ever hated us, said she thought we should do whatever would make us the most happy. She also assured us that she would be okay, and that if she couldn't stay with any friends, there were people from Mom's old office that were happy to let her stay with them until she found a place. I really wonder why we didn't have anyone like that.
And so we agreed to move up here. Steve rented a moving truck and on New Year's Eve we packed as much stuff as we could fit and left everything else behind. We felt very defeated.
Fortunately, after we got here, we were able to distance ourselves from Mom and Steve, and calm down and everything. We still don't like Steve, and we still hate that Mom's married to him. It's especially frustrating to hear them talk about all the wonderful family things they do together. It brings up the question, "If you can do all that with his family, why couldn't you do it with ours?"
But we finally managed to convince ourselves that it doesn't matter. As soon as we can afford it and arrange it, we'll move to Japan, and then we won't have to deal with these people ever again.
And then the Thanksgiving thing came up. And Steve asks why we don't want to go. And now here I am opening up these wounds, which apparently never healed properly.
I think what happened on the phone yesterday is that he said if we ever, ever needed anything, don't hesitate to call him. This was one of the selling points to getting us to move up here--we'd have people who would be able and willing to, for example, drive us to the grocery store. But there were so many things we'd heard that indicated that they hate the inconvenience. I can't really blame them for that, but I do like to think they deserve it.
Steve's idea to get us bicycles for Christmas is one of those things. We first heard of this idea when Mom was driving us to the grocery store because we were out of catfood and money. Had we had money, we would not have called Mom (in fact we hadn't asked Mom to take us to the grocery store since August), but it is interesting timing for Steve's idea. It's almost like he's telling us, and maybe it's just my fear that everyone hates us, to stop being such nuisances.
So when he said if we needed anything to call, I said that he's taught us not to call. And so the argument began. He says that he's only trying to help us be more independent, because he cares, because it's the right thing to do, etc. etc. I ask him, if he cares so much, why doesn't he help us do what we want to do. He pointed out that he sent us a few e-mails about going to Japan, which he did, because he doesn't want us to go there and be taken advantage of. These e-mails were sent during the time that we were sure we would be going to Japan, which was also the time that we wanted absolutely nothing to do with Steve. Oh wait, that's still going on.
I pointed out that the main thing preventing us from going to Japan right now is the fact that we had to get an apartment. He has mentioned at some point that it was he who got us the apartment, a fact of which we have always been fully aware, but as it was his fault we needed an apartment to begin with, we feel we owe him nothing for it. Especially since he didn't pay for the apartment, he's the one who convinced Mom not to cosign our new lease, and they're still using our spare bedroom as storage for Mom's furniture (and not paying for it). When he mentioned helping us to get the apartment (I think it was after I brought up the lease, pointing out that that seemed more for their credit rating than for our independence (he seemed to ignore that part)), I said I like to think he helped us because he felt some guilt over nearly making us homeless. He said he felt no guilt at all, because that's a non-productive emotion. My theory is that he never feels guilt because he's so good at convincing himself that he's always right.
Anyway, he concluded with a list of things he has done to help us, and said that he did it all because he cares, and because it's the right thing to do. On the one hand, I definitely feel like he's full of it. But on the other, he did in fact do all those things. As you've seen, I could sit here and regale you with reasons that he's still full of it, but President Hinckley did just give a talk on forgiveness, which he wouldn't have done if he didn't think it was important.
And because I'm torn between wanting to mash the man to a bloody pulp and the possibility that maybe he's not so bad after all, I'm more than a little stressed.
All we wanted was to stay here for Thanksgiving, or get a nice bribe in exchange for going to Seattle (you know there's a Kinokuniya up there).