So we’re back from Militiagan, we got back last night. When we got home, Alex & Ronny were here so we watched The Leafs lose pitifully to the Penguins while eating steak & potatoes for dinner and reminiscing about the lovely ol’ US of A, where Ronny also happens to be from.
Oh yeah, since I missed several days of work, this post is going to probably be all over the place because I’m working all day today.
Anyway, blah blah Ronny & Alex, dogs were happy to see us, so was cat. Kids are still up North (Blake’s picking them up right now but I bet they’ll be back by the time I finish this post).
So obviously, if you’ve been following along, Blake’s grandma, who was 98 or 99, finally died. She’d been dying for a really long time, as long as I’ve known Blake, and this was like…”finally”. People were sad of course, but like I said in a previous post, I think there was also a lot of relief.
We left for MI Wednesday night after I was done work and the drive was pretty uneventful, no issues at the border which we were worried about because Blake’s US passport is long expired, I don’t even have one, and Blake’s permanent residence card for Canada is expired as well. But no issues so whatever. We stop at a gas station just outside the border in MI and there I found a TREASURE TROVE of goodness, behold my bounty (oh PS, this post will have a lot of pictures):
You cannot get these everywhere in Canada. I’m told other provinces MAY have them from time to time but you cannot get these in Ontario. I was very excited.
But nowhere near as excited as I was to see THESE:
I loved these. We used to have these. They stopped making them or distributing them in Canada in 2002 and when I learned of this, I went out and spent around $100 buying up every box I could find, hoarding them for like, 2 years. I was SHOCKED when I saw them at this MI gas station. So I bought 9 of them. Not 10 because that would have been the whole box and what if someone else wanted one? So I just got 9.
Did I mention that I love these? Remember that. We’ll come back to it later.
We got to our hotel at around, god I don’t even know, I want to say it was near midnight. Our hotel room was pretty cool, it had a fridge, dishwasher, 2 element stove and a microwave but we got the handicap suite so it didn’t have a bath tub and therefore all the Lush stuff I’d brought with me never got used. Didn’t matter, there was no time on this trip for Lush baths anyway.
As it turned out, Thursday was to be the wake/viewing (they called it a viewing, my family would call it a wake, I dunno if they’re the same thing, they sure seemed the same) and Friday was going to be the funeral, so we planned on staying until Sunday but I had a minor freak out Friday night after way too much stimulation so we decided to leave Saturday instead. But I’m getting way way way ahead of myself.
So Thursday morning, we got up early and Blake went to visit his friend Mandy and her baby while I got an hour of work in and then we had to get ready vite vite vite because the wake was at 2pm. This is what I wore:
Another Free People outfit (with my Docs) because when I leave the house, that’s basically all I wear.
The skirt is sort of a peachy sheer thing and the sweater is a charcoal grey that flows out over your bum.
I was paranoid the whole time that I was showing everyone my ass but Blake assured me I was not.
I wore beige underwear just in case. ;o)
The wake was…overwhelming. Blake’s family is Albanian (this was his dad’s side) and a lot of them are newer immigrants from the last 20 years or so. And there are a lot of them. I can remember who everyone was and more or less how they were related to Blake but it was a lot to take in all at once. It was nice though, that they included our family in the big boards Blake’s Aunt Pat had made with pictures of the whole family and all the grandkids and stuff and Blake’s grandma looked pretty good, probably the best open casket job I’ve seen to date (I hate open casket though, I think it’s gross). “The family” got there at 2 which meant Blake’s Aunt Pat, his dad (who’s a fuckbag) and his dad’s wife Kim (who’s a mega-cunt), his Uncle John and these cousins from New Hampshire that I’d never met before, Marc (nice, old guy), his son Boyce and Marc’s sister (I think?) Diana who is 72 and a total riot. I loved the crap out of her and honestly, without our kindred spirits connecting I’m not sure I would have made it through the whole thing intact.
There were deciding the order of the procession to the cemetery the next day and it was funny because Blake is the last Vulpe male and he took MY last name when we got married, therefore Wes the other “last Vulpe male” has MY last name as well, so we Blake told them what kind of car we drove and his name, Blake Crittenden, his dad like, paused and gave him a look because I think this was news to him and it was SO FUNNY. Anyway, we were 2nd in line for the procession with Blake’s dad, Kim, Uncle John and Aunt Pat in Blake’s dad’s car being first. Then Marc, Boyce and Diana behind us and other people all behind us.
At the wake I met about a hundred and fifty million people, namely the aforementioned Albanians, Blake’s Uncle or cousin (???) Nico and his daughters Tina and Helena who I HAD actually met before but that was 8 years ago now and honestly, they were teenagers them so I barely paid any attention to them. Now they’re all grown up. I’m not sure was Tina’s in college for but Helena is just starting her residency to be a neurosurgeon. SUPER nice girls. I added them on Facebook the night after the funeral and from what I can tell, the whole innocent thing isn’t an act. These girls, well, women I guess, don’t really swear or drink or show their boobs on the internet or anything even remotely controversial from what I can tell. So strange. But nice girls nonetheless, I really enjoyed their company.
Something I noticed almost right away is how close the Albanians are with each other, like, they’re a REAL FAMILY, like the Greeks I knew growing up, who were also mostly recent immigrants. And it makes sense that they’re so close, because all they’ve really had is each other and the church which is just so interesting to me because my family sucks, on both sides. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m GLAD AS HELL that I wasn’t raised in a religious environment, but our family plays so many psychological games and there’s so much bullshit it’s unbelievable and with the Albanians, there’s none of that. They just love each other BECAUSE they’re family and that’s just what you fucking do. Like I remember when Wes was born, Nico and his family sent us baby clothes for him and this was BEFORE I’d even MET THESE PEOPLE. But Blake was their family and that’s just what you do BECAUSE they’re your family.
And that whole vibe or attitude or whatever was SO strong and so prevalent at the wake and the funeral and the “thing after the funeral with food” (reception?) that I was actually feeling really weird about it. Like on one hand I was totally jealous over it because I’ve never had that and I didn’t even really know I wanted that until that moment but also I got kissed and hugged by so many Albanians who I didn’t know and they just automatically embraced me wholeheartedly. I married Blake and I am their family, no matter what. I’m probably not even doing the experience justice but it was POWERFUL and I find myself like, craving these people. It really makes me sad that Pat deleted her Facebook but I promised to keep in touch via e-mail, which I will do. I added Tina and Helena, like I said, and I’m looking forward to dancing at their weddings one day. As much as I hate going places and as much as I hate the border and as much as I hate blah blah blah come hell or high water I will stay in contact with these people, to the best of my ability, with the…well I won’t promise, but with the possibility of visiting as often as we can. As I can, I guess. They are my family, no matter what.
More about them later though, the funeral was Thursday and we had to get up at ass o’clock because Blake was a pallbearer, they decided, which meant we had to be at the church super early. I think like, 8:45am.
The night before we tried to watch The Kids Are Alright but were too tired to finish it so we watch the other half Friday night. It was alright, I hope it doesn’t win any Oscars tonight. I love Annette Benning and thought she was genius as always, but there are so many other deserving films…anyway….
So we were at the church right on time. Here’s what I wore, which you’ve already seen me wear with jeans but this time I wore it with a black tulle skirt that matched the tulle of the slip so I was super gauzy and I loved it:
The church thing was weird. This was only the 3rd or 4th time I’d ever really been in a church and I’d never ever been in a church like that with all these icons and the stained glass windows and a chanting/singing priest and bible stuff in Albanian and incense and doing the sign of the cross (which I don’t even KNOW) and kissing icons and crosses and shit. It was crazy! And I was SO tired and the incense was making me SO sleepy that here I was, sitting in the front row with the family (more on that in a sec) half falling asleep. Pretending I had my eyes closed to listen, so I’d nod and look contemplative from time to time but really I was just about falling asleep. lulz. Blake and I both felt really awkward sitting in the front pew with the family and being 2nd in line in the procession. See, at first, at the wake, Nico was kind of a little bit short with us and Blake thinks it was because Blake sort of moved to Canada and never visited and the family felt abandoned and rightly so. All was forgiven by half an hour later, if in fact that’s what that was about, but still, Nico and his family stayed by Blake’s grandma’s side until the very end and we felt that they should have been sitting where we were because who the hell are we? I mean, to hell with what’s proper and let’s go with what’s right! But Pat & John wanted us so we just did as we were told. I felt horrible though, I mean, I’m not even family.
And then there’s the fact that I barely even KNEW Blake’s grandma, she was pretty well far gone by the time I met her but I found myself getting a little “misty”, we’ll say, at the funeral just because, I think, of all the love and warmth that was just pouring out of all these people. It was incredible, I’ve literally never experienced anything like it.
Blake’s Uncle John was sitting beside me and he was pretty upset so I just hugged him and wiped his tears and told him I loved him. He’s suffering (pretty severely, I’d say) from early onset dementia and it is SO sad. He’s probably the person on Blake’s dad’s side I know the best and he is (was?) such a great person and to see him so unlike himself and out of it broke my tiny, black little heart. More about that later.
I gotta hand it to myself though, for being smart. Before we got to the church, I made Blake stop at a CVS and pick up a bunch of those mini travel Kleenexes for people, which I think was appreciated. Blake’s dad asked me for Chapstick too, which I gave him because I always have at least 3 in my bag, but Blake’s dad has herpes so we threw it in the garbage when we got back to the hotel so I wouldn’t use it by accident. *shudder* Herpes aside, I was glad to provide, even if he is a shitbag.
Next was the procession to the cemetery.
Meet Blake’s dad:
Yes, that is his real license plate. It’s on his fucking Escalade.
I hear his penis is minuscule.
You would think a funeral procession would be uneventful, and it was, except that I think we drove halfway across the state to get to the cemetery and then GUESS WHAT? I WAS IN ROSA FUCKING PARKS’ MAUSOLEUM! (Which is also a memorial.) That’s where the cemetery part of the funeral was! Inside it! I asked Blake if his grandmother was being uh, I don’t know the word for it, like put in a drawer there or however they do it, and he said he didn’t think so but his dad’s like, a bajillionaire so it’s totally possible. I was in absolute shock, I didn’t even know the whole Rosa Parks thing happened in Michigan or that she was from there. You’re goddamned right I Foursquared that! lulz again.
Speaking of Foursquare, I am totally bummed out that I didn’t get a badge for being in another country. I feel cheated. Especially considering the fact that I spent over $50 on data usage while we were there because I don’t have a roaming plan. Oops. And Charlie even warned me about that too, but it snuck up in me. :o/
After the funeral was FINALLY finished all of its components, Blake and I went back to the hotel because I’d forgotten my phone and was hating the crap out of his Blackberry, then we went to this fancy restaurant with valet parking for the reception. We were basically the last people to get there, which was fine, and we sat with who I’d call the “core” Albanians and they all spoke Albanian with each other and pretty much ignored Blake and I for the most part, which was fine. Normally I’d be paranoid in a situation like that that they were talking about me, but I didn’t feel like they were and truthfully, I don’t really feel like they are that kind of people. The mom, Tonzi, married to Nico, was really nice to me and asked about the kids and stuff so I showed everyone last year’s school pictures, which I had in my wallet. Then they went back to speaking Albanian and ignoring me, which again, was fine. I didn’t mind, especially because George (pronounced gee-u-rgie in Albanian) doesn’t speak English. The food was excellent and I because I’m a big fat sucker, I asked Blake to please give his dad, who he hadn’t spoken to in 7 years, the pictures of the kids I had in my wallet. So now I don’t have pictures of my own kids in my wallet anymore but I think I made an old man happy so that’s okay. I have the genuine articles. Maybe he wouldn’t be such a shitbag knowing what he’s been missing out on these past 7 years, right?
Well, let’s give credit where credit is due: Rudy has never been anything but nice to me to my face and the same with Kim but neither one of them is warm toward me in any way and they’ve both been awful to Blake for most of his life and that’s why I hate them.
On Saturday we went to Pat’s to have breakfast and Blake’s dad (Rudy if that wasn’t obvs) was there, much to Blake’s dismay, as was John, Diana and Pat’s friend whose name is completely escaping my brain at this present moment but it’ll come to me. She was very nice and it bothers me that I can’t recall her name right now. :o/
Anyway, Blake’s dad was basically bragging about Blake’s niece being invited to the Junior Olympics for skiing and how she goes to a “magnet school”, which I think is a private school, which no doubt he pays for, and that Blake’s other 2 nieces, who are babies right now, will go to the same school because the public schools aren’t good enough. I have issues with this line of thinking, but whatever. Then he got on Blake about being healthier and stuff and telling both of us to get into winter sports and basically lecturing Blake to be more active, which he;s been lecturing Blake about since Blake was a toddler. Just falling back into fuckbag territory after Blake hasn’t spoken to him in 7 years, like nothing ever happened.
Luckily he left before we had breakfast so after that, we just had a good time with everyone else. Diana, as I mentioned, is GREAT and both her and Pat cleaned me out of business cards (lulz once more! They’re probably reading this right now, aloha, ladies!) which I thought was cute and supportive. I haven’t decided which one yet, but I think I’m going to send Pat one of my paintings. I’;m thinking “Shimmer II” off the top of my head, but we’ll see. Anyway, a great time was had by all, I think, we just sat around and shot the shit and it felt so relaxed and NORMAL and I loved it. John made me sad because he’s just not John anymore, he literally acts like a clown, like if you dressed him up and painted his face and taught him how to make balloon animals, there ya go. Like he’d tweak your nose and make faces at you and strange sounds and stuff, never making a lick of sense. So sad. And scary because with Blake and I, that could literally be either or both of our futures. I’m wondering now if there’s a genetic test you can get done to see if that would happen to you and if you test positive, if there’s anything you can do to prevent it. I know I’m susceptible being bipolar but I also know that being medicated early in life (relatively speaking) protects me somewhat, or that’s what I understand from talking to our family doctor about this whole thing.
So that was pretty much the whole funeral/trip EXCEPT, Blake took me to a Meijer for the first time and this is everything we hauled home because we just don’t have this shit in Canada!
Generic brand American mixed nuts are a must because Americans are less healthy than Canadians, or at least they have less food guidelines, and therefore they have a LOT more salt on their nuts than we do. These were actually kind of a let down in this regard, CVS actually has the best ones, but they were still pretty great.
There are no Keebler elves in Canada, just Santa’s elves.
I’ve never had these before but they looked pretty good.
“Better Made” is a Michigan brand and Ronny wanted us to bring him home some “hot” Better Made chips, which we did, but these looked good too so I grabbed a bag. After trying them last night, I wished I’d brought home a zillion more bags because they’re delicious.
In case it’s not obvious, I like pretzels and these looked pretty rad. Rold Gold is my favoured pretzel brand, but we don’t have the variety the US has.
I actually got this at a gas station.
It was pretty weird and despite the fact that I generally like all things cinnamon, especially Hot Tamales, I didn’t care for this very much so I gave the rest to Alex.
Canada doesn’t have Pepperidge Farm.
When I was living in New York, my boyfriend’s work, which was a sound studio, bought P. Farm stuff in bulk for clients and we used to steal it constantly. I was bummed I couldn’t find the soft Sausalitos but ya take what ya can get.
We have Goldfish crackers in Canada, so it’s weird we don’t have everything else P. Farm, but again, we don;t have the variety of Goldfish the US has. There must have been 10 different types at Meijer. I got the neon ones for my little sisters, I hope Blake remembers to give them to them.
OF COURSE we have Jones Soda here, Jones Soda was invented in BC!
I’ve just never seen it in 1L bottles. Especially with “litre” spelled wrong.
Tra la la la la!
More Better Made chips and my sexy-assed husband:
This was a total let down. Not like theatre popcorn on all.
Then we went down the cereal aisle…
(I always get Cookie Crisp but this is a NEW ONE!)
I’m kinda surprised we don’t have this here.
GOOD SOURCE OF VITAMIN D!
And last but not least, the only thing I really cared about because we don’t have it here and I don’t understand why: Cherry and Vanilla Coke Zero
We’ve never really had Cherry Coke here so it’s not surprising that we don’t have Cherry Coke Zero here but we used to have Vanilla Coke, which you can still sometimes get, yet we have no Vanilla Coke Zero? I think it’s a travesty that we don’t have either of these in our fair country and that it costs a million dollars to ship because it’s so heavy and that you can’t ship it in the winter or they’ll explode.
And that concludes my post on the US of A.
Glad to be home.
Edit: Blake tells me Rosa Parks did the bus thing in Alabama but moved to MI later in life.