10 June 2010

when my mother says "generic," she really means "genetic."

After spending the last 5 days with family, I’ve realized that some things are genetic. I’m not just talking about the run-of-the-mill hypertension or thick calves, but the other things, the intangible things, the quirks that really label you as part of your familial unit.

To share (since that’s what I do here on Jackson Riley), to be part of my mother’s family, you need:
  • The ability to leave your keys in the front door several days in a row. Srsly, the only people to do this at my apartment are me, my mother, and my cousin Andrew. (See this post for more complete picture.)
  • An uncanny knack for multitasking. Everything. At once. It doesn’t have to be particularly successful multitasking, but it’s the constant effort that separates us. Microwaving water, grabbing your cell phone, and brushing your teeth. Talking on the phone, writing a note, and straightening up the dining room table. Drinking coffee, checking into your flight, and participating in a discussion on the best way to the airport. (And this was just me this morning.) We are tenacious in our multi-tasking. We relentlessly pursue efficiency. To quote my cousin Andee, “It usually doesn’t work, but when it does, you can look around and realize it’s completely amazing how much you just got done.”
  • A perfected decoy smile that means “I heard what you just said, I am nodding my head as if I am listening and agreeing with you, but in reality, I am going to turn around and do this my way because my way is the best way.” This is why Grandma Wanda kept nodding when I told her we needed to keep our hearing aids in and why I kept finding them on the table 3 minutes later. Let’s recap:
“Grams, we need to put in our hearing aids.”
A convincingly confused look in my direction.
This may also be the reason why I told my mom I only needed to be to the airport an hour early and I ended up there with an hour and fifty-five minutes to spare. I’m telling you … we only hone our skills with age.
  • The belief that we, alone, are the only ones who know how to do things correctly. My family has 32 Chiefs and precisely 0 Indians. Hence the above.
  • An obsessive need to organize. Anything on a countertop it adjusted by everyone who comes in. Gram’s kitchen table looks like a complicated Tetris game: everything is exactly square to everything else. This trait may have something to do with #1, but I’m waiting on further scientific evidence.
  • Lastly, the ability to laugh quickly and easily. Which is why awkwardfamilyphotos.com made us laugh for hours (um... literally hours), why we are the one giggling in the hallways of the hospital because we’re remembering when my mom straight-up lied about being a lawyer to bust my gramps out of extended care, and why we are – I’m going on record here – absolutely the life of the dining room at my grandmother’s retirement community. It’s tough being us, but somebody’s got to do it.
And that, ladies and gentle-folk, is what I picked up from my adventure to the Midwest. Now please excuse me, I need to go obsessively rearrange my kitchen cabinets after I told Amos I didn’t care which way the dishes were put away. I can’t help it. It’s genetic.


  1. Once again, your post made me laugh a lot! Family is great, isn't it?!

  2. This is too funny!! I think your fam and mine would get along. Because the decoy smile and all chiefs no indians phenomenon? Yup, we rock that too.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this post. The uncanny similarities between family members makes me sometimes question the concept of individuality. But then one of my aunts will do something crazy (bless 'em), and I'll calm down. I really enjoy your blog.

  4. Anonymous15 June, 2010

    Ha ha, so true! My sisters and I are just like my mum in so many funny little ways! It's good to know we're all just slowly turning into our mothers, it's not just me!


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