So we left the next morning for North Dakota and arrived at my parents’ house at 6pm. The four of us went out for dinner and it was actually pleasant. The whole time I just kept thinking, “smile and nod, smile and nod, smile and nod.” My mother surprised me by being tolerable, and my dad refrained from any anti-gay, anti-black, anti-anything garbage for once. He’s quite the religious freak. I have nothing against my parents being religious, but I do have something against a man who will sit there and claim that gays getting married would adversely affect him. There’s just no rational explanation for anyone thinking that gay marriage would hurt them. It’s like saying that if Hank in Florida cuts his toenails at 6:09pm on Tuesday that Joe in Montana will get a migraine.

The week progressed well. I was mad that there wasn’t even winter weather up there. It looks like I’m not going to see winter at all this year. Oh well, at least I saw it snow in Dubuque for an hour a few weeks ago. That’ll have to do me for the whole year.

Something happened on Wednesday that has never happened in my entire life. My brother apologized for hurting my feelings. We had been playing a new game that is basically like a combination of a spelling bee and Monopoly. Well, there is a particularly evil rule that if you land on a certain space after being sent to dentention(jail) you are automatically out of the game. Of course I landed on it. I got up from the table and let the other three keep playing. I was visibly upset because I didn’t want to just sit there by myself for the next hour or so until the game was over. Stupid rule!! Near the beginning of the game my brother made a comment that kind of pissed me off. I chose to ignore it in the interest of family sanity. He said that he was “by far” the best speller in the family. About 10 mintues later he said it again and this time I couldn’t ignore it. I looked him in the eye and said, “Oh yeah?” He stared me down and said, “Yes, I’m the one who used to read the dictionary just to learn how to spell new words.” Shortly after he said this, he failed to spell the word “boudoir.” It was all I could do to keep from laughing. Then on his next turn he failed to spell “Oedipus.” After failing that word/name he actually had the audacity to say that he was the only one in the family that should even know how to spell that word since he knows the most about it. Well folks, I was an Humanities/English minor in my undergrad. I read the play, studied the Oedipus Complex in psychology class, and in general know how to spell the freaking word. Nobody in my family has less than two degrees; we’ve all been in LOTS of school. He guessed: edipos!!!!!!! His arrogance was really starting to hurt my feelings because it was obviously aimed at me. He’s insanely jealous of me because I didn’t drop out of grad school like he did. Actually he got kicked out because he’s an ass and burned all of his bridges. Basically, he’ll never earn another degree in his field again. He’s working at a pizza place and is obviously unhappy. One of the things I hate about my family is the feeling that we are all in competition with each other. I hate it when I participate in such things, but it’s really hard to avoid because I’m a weak person. Anyway, after I was unceremoniously kicked out of the game he mocked me because I was crying and basically made me feel like crap. It seems so petty and stupid now, but I was really upset.

I left and went to a coffee shop to cool off for awhile. Eventually my mother called me to ask what kind of pizza I wanted for supper. That’s how my family operates. They (we) fight and then 10 minutes later it’s back to normal again. It didn’t even occur to her that I might still be upset about how my brother treated me. I eventually came home at the insistance of my husband. What made me finally decide to come back was the guilt I started to pile on myself for leaving my husband alone with those freaks.

I got back and finally got up the nerve to go upstairs to talk to my parents and see what was going on. He overheard my comment about not wanting to talk to him in the forseeable future and called me into the office where he was sitting at the computer. We actually talked for a few mintues and he APOLOGIZED. He actually said the words, “I’m sorry.” He explained the obvious to me: he is unhappy with quitting school and messing up in general. He’s sick of working at a stupid pizza place, sick of living in a far away state (his wife is in grad school there), and was taking it all out on my because he was jealous of me and my success. I was floored and speechless. When I regained my composure I thanked him for being honest with me, and then my husband, brother, and I went out to do some last minute grocery shopping before Thanksgiving.

Part three is forthcoming.