Colorless Green Ideas Unintentionally Amusing In Person
Friday, March 26, 2004
Disintegrating Disaster Family In-Law
I shouldn’t be surprised that the Disintegrating Disaster Family In-Law has had yet another major breakdown, should I? No, no, I shouldn’t, because, it’s been nearly 2 weeks since:
-16 year-old BIL, driving on his learner’s permit with MIL, totaled the car (no one was hurt, thank god)
-50-plus MIL went in for surgery to deal with some problems stemming from her hysterectomy
What now, do you ask?
Well, MIL cleverly left over $1,000 in cash in her purse when she went in to surgery. She left her purse in her house, where her 16-year-old son was going to be staying, unsupervised, until she was released from the hospital. BIL had some friends over Sunday. Sunday the house was “robbed”, and $400 was taken from MIL’s purse. BIL insists that the house must have been broken into, because his friends “just wouldn’t do that”. Mmmmmmkkkay. The $400 was part of the money earmarked to pay for their tickets and accommodations in Portland for the April Wedding Bash.
After the “burglary”, BIL went to stay with a family friend. While staying with the family friend, BIL asks for, and receives, permission to surf the net on the home computer. (Family friend has previously been using said computer for email only, using MS Outlook.) After BIL uses the computer, family friend notices that it is “buggy”, and a file name has been changed in a weird manner. Diagnosis: Trojan virus messing about with the system. Note that the OS still seems to be working, but is “buggy”. It is revealed that family friend has no virus protection on the computer, and has never had any. (WTF?! This is the computer equivalent of standing outside with no pants on, your wrists handcuffed to your ankles, and $100 bills flapping between your cheeks, yelling, “HEY WORLD, I’M TOTALLY DEFENSELESS HERE!”)
Family friend decides that OS must be reinstalled to fix the problem, but her OS is not a legitimate copy, and the (burned) disk is scratched, so she cannot reinstall using her (pirated) CD. Another friend, who “knows about computers”, tells family friend to get another copy of Windows 2000, because “that new stuff is unreliable” (WTF?!). Family friend then
-takes BIL to the hospital, where MIL is resting under Dr’s orders, after surgery, so BIL can tell MIL that he “broke (family friend’s) computer, and needs to buy her a new OS”. Family friend is a hospital nurse, and should know better. But family friend is wigging out because, although she has access to other computers with email capabilities, she must have her computer fixed RIGHT NOW. Excuse offered is that her grown son in Japan must be able to email her daily, or he “gets weird”. We know grown son, and this is patently ridiculous. Family friend probably gets weird, but grown son is just not that sort of person.
-drives BIL around and buys a $300 copy of Win2000 (WTF?! $300?!), which she insists that he must pay back, in spite of the fact that SHE HAD NO VIRUS PROTECTION, and she could very easily have purchased an OEM copy of WinXP Home for $100.
(TH & I were recently forced, through a combination of stupidity on our part and bad luck, to replace our hard drive and OS, and buy new virus protection. We bought a hard drive, WinXP Pro, McAfee Virus Shield, and Personal Firewall Plus, for under $300 TOTAL. We did not force anyone else to pay for a cent of these costs, because the primary triggers were some dumb oversights on our part—no virus protection, and lack of regular backing up. It sucked most tremendously, but these things happen.)
Total potential losses up to this point: $700, for a family that lives on probably $500 or less a month
MIL was also told by a nurse in the hospital that the surgical repairs will hold up fine, provided that MIL never lifts anything over 10 lbs, EVER AGAIN. MIL is currently in the process of selling her house on Lummi Island, so she can move to CA and “start a day care” that will somehow make enough money for MIL & BIL to live in the very very expensive Santa Cruz area. There are all kinds of major practical problems to this plan, which TH & I have pointed out repeatedly. MIL is unhealthy, 100 lbs overweight, asthmatic, has severe allergies, has chronic depression and fatigue, sleep apnea, and Type 2 Diabetes. MIL is also not certified to run a day care in CA. MIL was also planning to run this day care from a rented house. It’s clearly completely insane, but MIL continued to insist that this was a workable plan.
However, strict medical orders prohibiting lifting more than 10 lbs pretty well kills the (non-viable) “plan” in a way MIL can comprehend. MIL is sure that the nurse “must have made a mistake”, but is going to check with her Dr. If her Dr. confirms the “no lifting” rule, MIL will probably end up with $100,000 (less taxes), no house, no marketable skills, and no plan.
She will, most likely, move to CA anyway (losing the low-income health insurance she & BIL now have in WA state), and throw in with her brother, J, who is on the lam from $30,000 in credit card debt (no, he won’t declare bankruptcy, we tried to convince him already). BIL will go through his senior year of HS in a new school, and then be plan-less too. BIL also has no job experience, no marketable skills. He doesn’t even have a driver’s license! J has some marketable skills, but no recent verifiable job experience, and doesn’t want to get an over-the-table job because of the credit card debt. I imagine they will eat through the $100,000 in a 3-10 years, and then there will be nothing.
I have no idea what to do, if we can or should do anything at all. If it wasn’t for the BIL, I’d probably just say “whatever, they’re adults & it’s their right to screw their lives”, but BIL is going to be seriously, possibly permanently impacted by this. And TH is not going to have an easy time watching his mother ruin her health & life in poverty and misery. The compassionate thing to do would be to take them in, but we’re living paycheck-to-paycheck on my income as it is. It’s possible that by the time the $100,000 from the house runs out, we might be in a position to deal with them, but that is a HUGE burden to have hanging over our future.
It’s the Disintegrating Disaster Family In-Law! Don’t you wish you had one?! You can totally have mine!
(For extreme contrast, yesterday my parents went to my sister & BIL’s civil ceremony yesterday, and then they all went to dinner. Sister & BIL just bought a condo, are planning their big wedding for July, are stable, self-sufficient adults. Second sister is a professional social worker with her own small house—also stable & self-sufficient. Dad is retired on a state pension as of 2 years ago, and is happy and healthy at 55. Mom is due to retire on another state pension this year, and is also happy & healthy at 55. Mom & Dad own their home, a 98 Toyota Camry, and a new Toyota Highlander. They come into town, stay with my mom’s sister or in a hotel, and buy us dinner. They shop at Eddie Bauer. They are boring, but at least they aren’t jumping from crisis to crisis and slowly imploding and causing unending stress!)
Less than three weeks until the April Wedding Bash!
-I made our wedding-night hotel reservations. King-sized bed... bo-chicka-bo-chicka-wow-wow!
-I made an appointment for my dress fitting next Saturday, but I'm hoping I will need minimal or no alterations, since the size 10 was really close to fitting before, and I've slimmed down a bit since the order.
-I made an appointment to meet with the photographer Wednesday (tomorrow!), just to go over shots & whatever.
-Bought an (expensive! But on sale so the price was less than I was dreading!) strapless bra this weekend (tried a bodyshaper with a built-in, and the strapless ones have no chance with the D-cup boobage. No.F#cking.Chance.)
What's left? Uhhhm, this:
-Finalize ceremony & vows (haha) and email or snail-mail them to everyone participating in the wedding. Since we're not having a formal rehearsal, this is the best way I can think of to let everyone know what they're expected to do & when, so no one shows up and says "You need me to what?!" and runs away.
-Centerpeices (TH's job, including buying plants, scheduled loosely for the end of March)
-Get film for our freinds (who we're going to encourage to take candid photos-- tomorrow!)
-Figure out if we're doing a guestbook & get stuff if so. TH had a really good idea about this-- he thinks we should carry the guestbook around and encourage each guest/couple/family to write or draw something personal. We'd also use this as our recieving-line subsitute. (tomorrow!)
-TH's suit needs to be tailored (end of the month)
-TH's shoes need to go in & be assessed for repair (tomorrow!)
-TH needs to decide about his shirt & tie (don't ask me, I keep bugging him)
-Final guest count to the caterer along with 95% of the balance owing (tomorrow!, since we'll be there to meet the photographer)
-Figure out who is taking the out-of-the-country groomsman to the airport the day after the wedding, cause it won't be us!