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Today started out fairly well. I got a call in the afternoon from a university for a one-year visiting professor/lecturer/instructor position (ad wasn't very clear on the title of the position) out in Minnesota. We scheduled a phone interview for next week. It's specifically for Asian American studies/ethnic studies, so it's right up my alley. My nieces came over for their weekly visit with my mom -- grandma babysits on this particular day as my sister-in-law rotates taking my nephew to piano lessons and then the girls to dancing lessons. I hugged them, marveled over the haircut of the youngest -- which makes her look JUST LIKE a china doll!!! Super cute, but also so stereotypical (both the style and of my sister-in-law).

Then... the drama. My mom calls me in during the early evening to help her with something in the kitchen. Before she can even tell me what it is, we got into it. I merely asked if the rugrats had gone home since I didn't hear them running down the hallways or yelling down the house. My mom joked about what a lousy teacher I'll make if I can't even handle my own nieces. I pointed out, calmly and factually, that I have no training nor background in child development. I teach college-aged students, that means people eighteen years and older. She retorted, what students? I was completely aghast. She just erased the last eight years of teaching at the university I did grad school and the other universities for which I had been an adjunct/lecturer.

I was so angry. I told her, point blank, that this stretch of nearly six months has been the longest that I've been unemployed since I could legally work at the age of sixteen. She responded by rewriting my employment history. According to her, I only started working when I started undergrad at UCLA. Oh, I love how much attention she obviously paid me during my high school years! I had worked at an after-school program in my local school district (meaning: supervising the safety of the children as they waited to be picked up by busy parents after school ended for the day). I did this for two years. My mom kept insisting that I hadn't worked during high school. I pointed out that her lack of memory merely meant that she obviously hadn't paid an iota of attention to my comings and goings during high school, NOT that I had false memories as she kept implying, and I walked away.

I was still so angry that when I left the house to run some errands, I scraped the side of my poor, poor car when I parked it. I now have even less money -- or will have less money since I need to repair my poor, poor car. Ugh.

When I got home, she confronted me. She told me that I needed to rethink how I spoke to her. She might be a mediocre parent, but I was wrong in speaking back to her with such anger. I told her that she was the one who should weigh her words. I spoke to her factually and calmly in the initial part of the argument. It wasn't until she got snide and derisive that I got mad. And to that, what was inappropriate about being angry when she was being insulting and offensive?

I vented to an old college friend afterwards. My friend lamented that neither of us had good childhoods or supportive, loving families. We would be completely different people if we'd had even one adult in our lives, nurturing, supporting, and encouraging us. We would be less prone to depression and feelings of not having any worth, and we would be more self-confident and positive. I had thought that my mom and I had gotten passed the way in which she ignored me in favor of my brother (the prodigal son!), but really these moments only underscore how little she values what I have achieved, my goals, and my abilities. I used to think that it was just because my work is esoteric to those outside of academia, particularly the humanities, but these arguments point to something else at work. I think my friend is right; it's about how she sees little to no worth in me as a person and as someone in academia.

I'm so sick of living here with her. I'm grateful for the financial assistance of residing somewhere rent-free, especially when I was finishing the diss, but the psychic and emotional costs are too high.

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fersakyn

October 2011

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