----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: "Happy" Holidays

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

"Happy" Holidays

Last night, we sat down to watch the first two episodes of Arrested Development from the season one DVD box set I gave my husband for Christmas. I had never seen the show before, and I must say, I think it should be required viewing around the holidays. I know it made me feel a lot better about my crazy family. Compared to the characters on the show, my close relations don't seem half-bad.

I really do like Christmas, but this year tested my good cheer. As you all know, I am no longer employed, which actually worked out quite well because I had plenty to do to prepare for Christmas. All that gift-buying and house-decorating and cookie-baking takes up a lot of time. And it's all stuff that I enjoy doing. But I began to get the sense that my gainfully-employed husband was taking advantage of the situtation, especially once I realized that I had purchased all the gifts that we would be giving out. Not just the ones for my family...all of them. I had to shop for gifts that I thought his parents would like, with very little input from him. Luckily, they liked what I had purchased, but of course, he got most of the glory.

To be fair, my husband did do a few things in preparation for the holiday. Here is a complete list:
  1. Accompanied me to purchase Christmas tree and tied said tree to roof of car.
  2. Carried tree to house and inserted it into tree stand.
  3. Scanned wedding picture onto computer for Christmas card.
  4. Picked up finished Christmas card from Coscto.
  5. Purchased Christmas gift for wife.
  6. Vacuumed house.

Six things. I do appreciate his help on those six items, but let's just say that the list of things I did to prepare for Christmas was significantly longer and included the aforementioned gift-buying, along with decorating the tree, addressing all the Christmas cards, wrapping all the gifts I purchased, tidying the house and cleaning the bathroom in anticipation of his parents' arrival, and many other chores.

As Christmas Day approached, the tension in our house thickened. My husband spent hours mixing a CD for a friendly competition that he and his friends do every year, and I began to wonder, if he had so much time for computer work, why he couldn't spend more time helping me out. He claimed that work on the CD was a creative outlet and was something he loved to do, and it was unfair of me to ask him not to spend time on it. That I could understand. But when he combined that reasoning with complaints about the fact that he was being forced to spend Christmas with my very ill grandparents instead of getting to watch the Lakers vs. Heat game...well, I became resentful. And it's hard to have good holiday spirit when one is feeling resentful. Then my mother-in-law arrived.

I like my mother-in-law, I really do. But her arrival just ratcheted up the tension another notch. Things came to a head Christmas morning when, after opening our gifts to each other (which were very lovely and thoughtful, by the way), my husband said that we needed to go pick up his mom from the hotel so she wouldn't be alone. Fine. No problem. Perfectly understandable. But why did he then freak out when I wanted to stop by my parents' house to say hello to everyone and eat some delicious homemade cinnamon rolls? It was all too much.

I thought perhaps that things would get better once the actual Christmas celebration was over. Alas, they did not. My mom invited everyone over for breakfast the next morning, which was very nice of her. But then, when we got there, she was a total stress-ball and yelled at everyone to get out of the kitchen and just go sit down. Once we were all seated, we should have had a pleasant and delicious meal. But talk quickly turned to our future plans. My parents wanted to know what my husband and I planned to do about our living situation--we rent a very nice condo, but my husband doesn't like the town. He wants to move farther south, which is fine with me, although I am quite sick of moving every year. Eventually, we want to buy a house, so we can't spend too much on rent, either. Then my mother-in-law wanted to know if we were considering other opportunities outside the area, which we are not. I have no plans to leave California, which I told her, only to have her retort that I didn't know what the future would bring and just because I wanted to stay in California didn't mean that I could if another job opportunity came along. Well. I know where I want to live, and to me, that is more important than reaching the next rung on the career ladder. Besides, San Francisco, L.A. and New York are the major hubs for the creative work that we do, and we've already decided that we're not going to New York and we're sick of L.A. Why? Why must people assume that I don't know what I want or what I'm talking about?

Things finally settled down that evening when we all went to see a movie. Then, the next day, my mother-in-law left and my husband began to return to his normal jovial self. I, too, relaxed and stopped being an emotional shrew. One of my good friends came over and spent the rainy afternoon with us and we shared a bottle of wine and watched Arrested Development. And now everything is much, much better.

Family is great...in small doses.


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