There hasn't been too much knitting going on worth mentioning. A couple of pairs of socks started and rotating around, (Cam's are coming along now) and a few rows on the sweater back. Ho hum. Er, I ate Malaysian food. And had some excellent chicken mole which passed the San Felipe test (which is, if it's as good as the mole in San Felipe which was the pinnacle of mole, the measure by which all subsequent mole is judged, then, it's good mole) and some very crappy sushi. How do you fuck up albacore? I ask you? Is albacore so hard? Albacore is the standard by which all sushi bars are judged. If the albacore is good, I'm happy. Aside from that, a truly spectacular migraine chipped out a few days from my week and we had a houseguest. Woo! I went on a quest to find the Hollywood sign. High drama. What an exciting life I lead and aren't you totally glad that I haven't been documenting every bit by thrilling bit?
Today was spent with the husband's family. They are not quite like me, we don't share much in common. They are fundamentalist Salvation Army, right wing, homophobic, anti-feminist and very conservative. I love them because they are the family I married into, but I do not understand them. We share very little and 98% of my life is a closed book to them. For ten years, I've maintained a quiet balance. Mostly we go, I sit and knit in a corner. Mostly I shut the hell up, listen a lot and I try to show respect to them and find points to be positive about. I've tried really hard.
I do enjoy my tiny nephews who have not yet absorbed their parent's ideology, not yet begun to believe in ideas that break my heart. I have this hope that maybe just having exposure to their whacky auntie and her family, that they'll absorb the idea that people come in different packages and it's okay. That by knowing us, someday they'll somehow realize that if someone can have purple hair and be okay like their cousins and auntie, maybe another someone could also be gay and be okay, feminist, pro choice and okay, be 'not like them' and still be okay. And if one day one of my nephews realizes maybe he's something or someone that his family can't deal with, maybe he'll remember that we were a little different but still okay. Maybe he'll remember and give us a call. Because I'd totally be there and we're family.
That quiet balance is getting harder to maintain. It's getting harder to shut up. In recent visits I've had to shoot back rebuttals, dive into open cans of worms like feminism, sex education, birth control and reproductive choice for teenagers and gay marriage because I could. not. shut. up. any. more.
Cans are open. Worms are everywhere.
Today, was really just the most bizarre visit ever. I've certainly seen anti-Semitism before, duh, who hasn't. But I really haven't experienced much of it personally (some kids in grade school who called me Christ-killer but it was a small town and I was like, a novelty.) So we're sitting around and my MiL starts telling us this story about this woman who pissed her off earlier in the week (broke Godwin's Law at a Kiwaniss meeting, I guess) and then she says (as if this explained it all), "Well, she's a Jew."
So I kinda sat there, open mouthed, shocked, thinking (but too shocked to speak out loud), "Well, I'm a Jew." and she says "She's a Jew. She makes everyone feel guilty."
So I said (out loud this time), quietly, "Guilt is actually not a genetic trait specific to Jews." and it doesn't really matter what else got said because it all boils down to this.
"Well, she's a Jew."
I wish I could reproduce the tone here in print. Like, "Well she's an evil pile of shit." or "Well she's satan." I mean, it was really like that. Like she was describing something ugly. I wish I could express how much it disturbed me. I truly think in that moment, my MiL forgot that I am Jewish and that my children are Jewish and so she let down some guard and what? something a little ugly came out? I am still trying to comprehend it, still trying to wrap my mind around it, still figuring out how I feel.
"Well, she's a Jew."
One of those. Because obviously there is something bad implicit in the Jewishness? What the hell? Whisky Tango Foxtrot? And my children, my Jewish children were sitting in that room eating cake and I could not believe that those words came out of her mouth. I did not know how to speak to that. So I didn't really say much of anything. And now I feel like a coward, like a person who enabled something ugly, I feel as if it was my obligation to SAY something and I blew it because I froze up, didn't know what to say.
I'd never really looked at anti-Semitism in the face before. I've seen racism, sure, lots of times. I've seen homophobia, intolerance, I've seen it. And I've spoken. But all those other times I've seen it and deplored it, it was directed at other people by other people, usually strangers to me. It wasn't about me. This? This hit me where I live. It was in my family, and even if it wasn't directed at me, that's where it landed. That shoe fit. And I don't know what to say.
There really are no words.