This weekend I got the joy of experiencing one of the great social traditions of modern married life. A visit by the in laws. Now, I say modern married life not because 50 years ago young wives had it easy and their mother in laws peed roses and shit sunshine while happily humming a tune about how great their daughter in laws were. Nope as my gran likes to tell me in laws have always sucked. The thing that has changed though is we’ve all started to sort of spread out. My gran’s generation, and even my mom’s to some extent, didn’t really leave the town they were raised in. Born there, met man of your dream’s there, got married there, bought a house down the street from where you grew up, popped out some babies and then proceeded to grow old and die there. Dealing with your in laws on basically a day to day basis. Yep that’s life where I come from.
Then PPG closed the plant. Chrysler is closed about as much as it’s open. The lead smelter turned out to be pumping toxic chemicals into our air and our water supply and the economy sort of withered. You can drive 90 minutes to the nearest metro area and maybe find a job. But then again – maybe not. So a lot of us, like a lot of other 21-40 year olds from small towns, left and went seeking adventure. Or a town with more than one stoplight. Or heck, just a chance to be different from who we were perceived to be back home. Which has its up moments. (Oh don’t start you lovers of traditional family values or the 3 people from my hometown that read my blog it has its downsides too). But one thing it has created is the “Yearly Visit of the In Laws” or as I like to refer to it for short – “Hell Week”.
Even though the visit is for 2 days it takes up a whole week of my life. Parts of my house are scrubbed and polished that haven’t been since the last visit. My kids are suddenly reminded of those little subtleties I let slide but know my mother in law will disapprove of. Menus are planned and relentlessly scrapped because I just forgot so and so doesn’t eat the side ingredient in this dish. Yeah, if this happened more than once a year I don’t think my mental health could stand it.
So I gave you that whole long winded intro as an excuse to tell you what I was thinking about while I scrubbed toilets like made at 2 am this week. See the thing is in my new book, Luck of the Devil, I explore the family dynamics of what happens when the Devil has a family reunion. So all of a sudden a whole lot of people seem to think that this either makes me a.) an expert on family dynamics b.) an expert on crazy families c.) a Satanist. For the record, I’m definitely not a Satanist. That whole blood sacrifice thing sort of squicks me out. After that, I’m not exactly an expert on crazy families or their dynamics but I do have a large – very large—family and they’re all pretty much nuts. So maybe I am an expert on that? Who knows?
Anyway back to where we were. And so you have a good visual – we’re with me in my upstairs bathroom, in a pair of gray sweatpants that have definitely seen better days and a ratty Ozfest t-shirt, hair back in a ponytail, glasses on, scrubbing toilets at 2 am getting ready for the arrival of the in laws. Yes, the glamorous life I lead still surprises me some days.
The next day I’m up early, kids are scrubbed, I’m clean, even my office is somewhat clean and let me tell you – that never happens. I did find a manuscript I thought had gotten lost forever though so maybe cleaning my office wasn’t such a bad thing. An hour later they announce they’ve just then left brother in law’s house. 5 hours away. So much for being on time. Shit, these kids aren’t going to stay this clean for 5 hours. Send them back upstairs to put play clothes on. Oldest grumbles about this meaning she’s going to have to take another bath.
Once kids are in everyday clothes we get the errands done. Post office? Check. Library? Check. Grocery Store? Check.
Grab lunch so I don’t have to dirty up the kitchen cooking something. Get home. Feed kids. Send oldest upstairs to do something quiet. Better half takes youngest upstairs for nap. I manage to check email, Facebook, Twitter, ect. In laws text. They’ve stopped for lunch. They’re now 3 hours out.
Should I be irritated? Hell yes. Am I irritated? Hell no. The house is quiet and I have a golden opportunity to plot my next novel. Which is sort of kicking my butt because it’s a contemporary romance where no one is paranormal. Yeah, I’m sort of at a loss without special powers. But my hero? Uber sexy. So I am persevering to make him happy.
3 hours later I am this close – this bloody close – to having this bad boy plotted out and ding dong. Better half goes for the door and all I can think is “no, no five more minutes. Five. More. Minutes.”
Alas those five minutes were not to be. Instead, there was 8 hours of awkward throat clearing and idle chit chat. Lots of pictures were taken. My plot languished, alone and lonely in the office. My hero may have cried, cut off from the happy ending that hadn’t yet been resolved for him.
Then, they left. Not to return for another year. And once the door was closed and both kids were in bed my better half sighed, smiled at me and …
“Wait just 5 minutes,” I announced and scrambled into my office, grabbing the dry erase marker and scribbling the one thought that had been in my head all damn visit. There, plot is complete. Fictional characters in my head breathe a sigh of relief and I mentally prepare myself to start banging this little baby out the next morning (today actually).
“Feel better?” Better half asks.
“You can only imagine.”
“Aren’t you glad they only do this once a year?”
“Oh yes.” After all my characters couldn’t handle any more than that.