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DEMOLITION DAYS, PART ROCKIN’ 100!
In the best of friendly spirits. I live for this shit.
My Russian was good enough to listen to a toast, but not quite good enough to give one.
Therefore, I’d deliver mine in English. Then Galina, the company perevodchik, would translate for all.
I took a little slurp to test the ‘waters’, which was allowable and indicative of a long toast to come. Everyone else did likewise, not that protocol demanded, but out of sheer cultural reflex.
I began my toast with wide and earthy salutes to the geology of Western Siberia and it’s amassed riches. Then on to the geologists, engineers, and reluctantly, the other folks who were largely unsung in the pursuit of that black gold. Then onto the Russian industry that could transform the stuff into the everyday items we all needed to survive.
I was laying it on with a trowel.
Then I turned to our host, Dr. Bolotistyy; who was beaming a beatific smile.
I noted that it was so good that he decided to join us wearing men’s clothes; those ‘other’ rumors really didn’t do him justice. I mentioned how well the oil company must be doing and how he was still the ‘everyman’, eschewing opulence; I mean, just look at how shiny is his suit. Any shinier, and it would give his balding head a run for its money. It was further wonderful he had never had an accident in the field; very difficult when you never go to the field. I mentioned he must be sporting some incredible scars under his sharp shiny suit, a veteran of all those bloody boardroom battles.
Ball’s in your court, Dr. Bolotistyy. Galina was attempting not to laugh while translating.
I think by his laughter, and wagging his finger at me when the perevodchik finished translating indicated we were both on 100% common ground.
I shot-gunned my drink and raised the empty, upside down, in his honor.
He looked at me and realized that if this kept up all the way around the table, the whole legion would surely be wiped out. He made a slight sideways saw that toasts should only be 100 milliliters maximum. But since Americans do everything by and large, he’d forgive the faux pas this time, as he drained his glass.
Honor thus satisfied, we both sat down to dinner, as listened intently as the toasts ricocheted around the table. Dr. Bolotistyy was Tamandar, so was the titular leader of the code of behavior. However everyone else present were veterans of their own boardroom and dining room wars, so all knew how it was supposed to proceed.
The meal progressed nicely, with Dima even getting into the spirit of the evening. His was a profound toast to East-West relations, continued success, and a plea that the office-bound engineers wouldn’t screw up so much this year.
Dima was an engineer, but an engineer manager. He was tossing them in front of the bus to try to get them to up their game some. It’s all in the execution…
The toasting finally made it around the table just as the main course arrived. Fish, fowl, and some form of flayed flesh. It was done to a turn, fairly bland if I was being truthful, but Russian cuisine is not known for its piquancy. However, it was very flavorful and enjoyable in its mystery meatiness.
I think it was deer or maybe moose of some sort. Mynd you, møøse bites kan be pretti nasti...venison’s not near so troublesome.
After the main course and cessation of toasts for a while, spontaneous conversations broke out around the table. I found myself fielding many questions about why I was here and what I was planning to do.
It was a veiled attempt to say “Can I go too? I really want to get out of the office.”
I assured all that I’d post our schedule and if anyone wanted to come out to the field to see Dima and me in action, well then, by all means.
The meal continued placidly right up to the dessert course. The dessert cart gave off tangible Diabetes-2 waves in its wake; the offerings were that palpably saccharine.
I’m not big on sweets, so I asked for a fresh bottle of chilled vodka, some ice, sliced limes, and some sort of fizzy, sour citrus drink.
No one heard me ask our waiter and were all amazed when others were presented with tortes, cakes and other items of the sweet bakery when I had my particular order filled.
I was the cynosure of all eyes as I violated so many Russian drinking protocols.
Vodka was always served chilled, straight.
• Not on the rocks, much less with any sort of mixer.
• No fruit should adorn the drink, in fact, it was highly unusual for fruit to even be available.
• Fizzy drinks as a mixer? Fizzy drinks are for children. Vodka is an adult beverage.
But so combined into my eponymous cocktail; I raised it up on high, saluted my fellow oil folks, and drank deeply.
It helped both reinvigorate and rehydrate, what with all that fizzy citrus soda.
Almost everyone wanted to try one as well.
I don’t know how a Rocknocker goes with the Black Forest or Schaum Torte, but it damn sure is an exceptional accompaniment to a fine cigar.
Hours after this all began, most folks were flagging. Almost all had cadged cigars from Dr. Bolotistyy and me, and all had made heroic imbibing attempts to keep up with Dima, myself and Dr. Bolotistyy. He’s also a veteran of many psychic wars, and I respected him even more after our little dinner meeting.
The next morning, Dima and I had posted our proposed schedule and we’re heading back to Tomsk. I had figured out how to handle the accumulated oil and iron at the same time. But to do that, I was going to need explosives. And a shitload of them at that.
We arrived at the Army base, presented our papers and were told to go to Room 102, and speak with Major Vzryv. He was the camp commandant and would be able to help us with what we needed.
We found Major Vzryv’s office easily, and went in, sat down and awaited his arrival. We didn’t have to wait long.
“Papers!” he commanded.
This was old-time Russian military efficiency at its best. This character was probably a veteran of the Great Patriotic War Given the motif of his office, he brought a lot of it back with him.
He scanned our papers, barked something in 125 decibels Russian and an orderly arrived, took our list and quickly disappeared.
Major Vzryv quizzed us on what we were planning to do, why an American was here, and other such niceties of the day.
Dima explained what we were attempting to do, why they needed the Motherfucking Pro from Dover and why the military was less than useless in circumstances such as this.
Dima didn’t care for the Russian military, as he very nearly had to devote 3 years of his life, however involuntarily, to their cause. He knew it to be a refuge of hooligans, scoundrels, and criminals; all under the umbrella of so-called state security.
I just sat there and smiled, working on a cigar. I didn’t let on that I understood Russian and they didn’t bother asking. I took the full brunt of their ire over being an American in a central Russian military armory.
I just let my paperwork speak for itself. Even the Russian Army wasn’t over the KGB or NKVD, the ones that vetted and OK’ed my papers.
I was taking rapid mental notes, as Agents Rack and Ruin back home would never forgive me if I didn’t create a full dossier on the situation for them.
I was tempted to say something to that effect but at that moment the orderly arrived and said that our request was being arranged and if we could drive over to Docking Bay 94, our van would be loaded.
We took that opportunity to excuse ourselves and left Major Vzryv to his own devices; with his three reproductions of our orders, so everyone from Major to Captain could lose their own copy.
Over at Bay 94, we backed the Uaz in and with a deft flick of the forklift, we were loaded up. Our explosives were safe for the trip back to the field and our cases of vodka, beer and cognac snuggled up snugly behind our seats.
What? Doesn’t everyone drive across Siberia in the wintertime with a truckload of high explosives and high octane alcohol?
Dima took the first tour and drove us out of Tomsk once again and off generally north by east. I had brought a portable CD player and we were rocking along to the strains of the Notting Hillbillies, which Dima enjoyed extremely. He also was a fanatic for Dire Straits; which I had a standing order for CDs every time I went back to the States.
I opted for Pink Floyd, ELP, Jethro Tull, and Deep Purple. I could tell Dima more tolerated rather than enjoyed them.
I didn’t give a shit wither way. We’d listen to one of his CDs, then one of mine. If he wasn’t careful, I’d load up some PDQ Bach or Da Yoopers on my next turn.
The trip was made in the dark. We’d get up in the dark, go to work in the dark, come home in the dark, go to bed in the dark. It was known to cause real psychological conditions; exacerbated depressions, melancholy, lethargy, and Seasonal Affective Disorder. This was manifested by having problems with sleeping, experiencing changes in your appetite or weight, feeling sluggish or agitated, and having difficulty concentrating.
Hell, if that’s SAD, I’ve experienced it every month of the year one way or another, in both hemispheres.
But I’ve found that the brisk application of high explosives followed by the brisker application of high-octane spirits will banish all symptoms of SAD and whatever other mental maladies are vexing you that day.
We made it back to oil HQ and had the guard place a guard on the van full of explosives. We parked it out of the way, in a disused, but insulated, heated shed, just to the south of the HQ building. We could have stored it in the heated subterranean parking garage, but if there were malefactors about, this way, if they detonated our supplies, we’d only lose an old shed and rental van and not an entire office building and its personnel.
The whole perimeter of the area was guarded; by guards, dogs and was heavily wired for sound and motion. It was cold, windy, blustery and no one in their right mind would be out on a night like this. Even so, if they were, they’d most probably be ventilated by the Russian guards, and well-chewed by the Russian guard dogs before they could cause too much trouble.
Thus satisfied that our charges, ahem, were sorted until morning, I went for a swim and sauna while Dima went to call his family. We’d all meet up later in the cinema and see what movies were available for viewing later that night.
The swim and sauna were invigorating. I had both the pool and sauna to myself, as we were the only winter visitors. I didn’t get to run outside and jump into a snowbank, but they did have a ‘cool pool’ available. It was most refreshing. Sauna cocktails should be a universal commodity, in my view.
I went to the commissary, pulled a cold beer and sat for a couple of hours revising our schedule. I didn’t plan on missing movie night, but, hey, I ‘ve seen The Battleship Potemkin numerous times before. Yes, in the original Russian. Sergei Eisenstein was a real genius.
Dima showed up a while later and after commenting he thought he’d find me here; he pulled himself a cold tapper and sat down. He produced two cigars freshly liberated from one of my travel humidors and we discussed the next few days operations.
Several revisions, cigars, and beers later, it was getting late. We both decided it was time to call it a night He’d take our itinerary and get it copied and posted so whoever wanted to come along would know where we’d be and when.
We had appointments to meet with Chiefs Yoshchkigi and Vashchkigi out at the kyst tomorrow at 1000 hours. Good. That would give us time for breakfast and a leisurely drive out to the field.
Early the next day, I was traipsing around the demolished kyst, mapping where the errant drilling and production materials had fallen. I gridded out the area and was transferring that to one of my field notebooks when the two Chiefs arrived.
“Chief Yoshchkigi! Chief Vashchkigi!” I said very loudly, “How good to see you again.”
They spoke no English, so Dima stood in as translator for a pinch. My Russian was coming along nicely, but trying to talk with the Khanty chiefs flummoxed me.
We exchanged pleasantries, along with a couple of cases of vodka and two boxes of my cigars. They liked the vodka, but absolutely loved the cigars. Vodka was readily available in this part of the world, but cigars were as rare as Gallus dentition.
We spoke of many things; of mukluks — dinghies — and vacuum-packs —. Of cabbages — and tsars —. And why the sea is boiling hot —. And whether pigs drive cars.
They were most concerned that with our removal of the scrap iron littering the landscape, that there’d be another fire. And that his fire would consume the landscape and bring ruin to the councils of the Small and Only Locally Important.
They were worried that some of the nearby lakes would be polluted by oil and that if there was a fire, all the marsh and swamp grass, upon which their farm animals relied, would be destroyed or contaminated.
I explained our plans.
Dima and I were going to set off explosions and create some deep holes in the taiga. I assured them I had plenty of experience in this endeavor thanks to my Grandfather and Uncle Bår. These would be so deep, as to be well within the permanent permafrost that’s pervasive around these parts. It would be like lining a hole with impervious clay if we did it correctly and didn’t melt the stuff when we excavated.
This called for quick-fire explosives. None of that deflagrating stuff. I needed brilliant explosions.
Then, we’d shear up the semi-solid frozen oil, pile that up in great hulking heaps, and turn the dozers loose. They’d push the gunk into the freshly excavated pits and we’d throw in some 100 octane and light it up. That way, most of the oil would burn off, only giving some wintering tundra birds a slight case of asthma. When it appeared to have been mostly consumed, we’d douse it with lake water, and seal it with swamp muck.
It’d freeze solid, forever locking it in an icy embrace. The water would seal the hole and the swamp muck would fill in what was leftover. Only then would we attempt to cut the scrap iron apart.
Even there, I noted, we’d be using some new methods.
I explained and demonstrated, much to their delight, the utility of C-4 shaped charges and what Primacord could do to scrap iron. I’d try and alleviate the overt need for oxy-acetylene torches and keep the sparks from flying as much as possible.
They were most pleased; both with their gift and with our thorough plans in the remediation of the whole mess.
I asked them through Dima if any of their people were harboring nasty or anti-oil company thoughts or were actually doing things to roust the oil workers in these parts.
“I don’t present gifts to my enemies,” I noted.
Both Chiefs assured me that this was not the case; however, they would make it clear to their people that we were on the side of the good guys and that our company and all their workers were as well.
With that, I locked all the pyrotechnics away and broke out a small table and four chairs. We would toast to our understanding and smoke together to ensure there was no bad blood or dishonor anywhere between us.
It’s 1500 in the afternoon. It’s dark, it’s winter and I’m sitting at a table out in the middle of a combusted oilfield in Western Siberia with a Muscovite Russian and two local indigenous Siberian Chiefs. We’re smoking cigars, toasting, drinking vodka shots and relating lewd anecdotes.
Nowhere in the Petroleum Geologist’s Marching Songbook does this situation ever even come close to being covered.
After an hour or two, it’s getting late and we need to get back to HQ with our load of explosives. Chiefs Yoshchkigi and Vashchkigi present Dima and me with reindeer leather crafts created by the local Khanty women. These are of great ceremonial import, as one simply does not give away local handicrafts. They must be earned.
Khris turned the ones I gave Esme into a set of stunning earrings. Ones she still wears to this day. All my girls have earrings and necklaces created from these reindeer leather gifts.
We waved “Da svidonya” to the Chiefs as they left in their Land Cruisers.
“Dima”, I asked, “When did the Khanty Mansisk turn in their reindeer for Toyotas?”
Dima just smiled and poured me a double by way of explanation.
Back to HQ, the Uaz was nestled snugly back into its shed and Dima and I hit the commissary for a couple of beers, and some dinner. It had been a long, tiring day.
But one not nearly over. After dinner, I was back up in my room, filling out explosives diaries, and making notes on what had been used and how.
Bloody fucking paperwork.
I made further transcripts for Agents Rack and Ruin in Major Vzryv’s dossier, and even more in the dossiers of Chief’s Yoshchkigi and Vashchkigi. I updated our schedule and made notes to call for some heavy equipment in the morning.
I also called Esme to see how things were going on the home front. All was well, but Zima was a bit mopey, missing me evidently. More like missing my socks. I told Es I had some special presents for her, and if this went as planned, I should be back home within two weeks.
So all was more or less well on the home front. It must be the season, but I was suddenly blindsided by a surfeit of homesickness. Well, there’s only one cure for that…crack tubes!
The next morning, I’m in fine fettle. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever felt fettler. Perhaps because I spoke with my dear wife the night before and things are moving along smoothly. Or the fact that I’m going to go blow the living shit out of the Siberian scenery might have perked me up.
Dima had made the calls and all the heavy equipment on our list we were going to require was being rolled out to Kyst #7.
We were to meet them out on location at 1000 hours. That gave us a bit of time, so I told Dima I’d be out in the van going over our explosives and getting an idea of where and what we had on tap.
Dima noted that there were several office engineers that had signed up to join us in the field.
“Well, hell!”, I smiled, “This is turning into a genuine party. I hope someone gave some thought to a catered lunch because once the fireworks come out, ain’t no one leaving nor arriving.”
“Damn!”, Dima exclaimed, “I forget about that. Let me arrange a lunch out on Kyst #7 with the commissary. Probably take them more than a couple of hours to get to put together and out on site.”
“Not a problem”, I replied, “They have some provisions: sandwiches and the like. We’ll snag some of those and they can feed us dinner al fresco tonight once we’re done blowing shit up. How’s that?”
“Sounds like a real plan”, Dima smiles, “See? We make a Russian out of you yet. You’re always making plans. Russian don’t take a dump without a plan.”
“Make it so”, I said, “I need to go visit some friends. We leave in precisely one hour.”
Dima sorted out the sandwiches, fruit, and boxes of juice. I went and had a long talk with the explosives in the Uaz. I told them I’d take none of their guff. Sure it’s cold, but you’re Russia explosives, I expect them to act the part.
People think I’m a bit eccentric, or a little bit crazy, communing with inanimate objects.
But when you’re dealing with over a ton of high explosives manufactured in a country which until recently couldn’t design nor build a toaster that didn’t melt down on its third slice, you go for all the consideration one can muster.
It may seem goofy, but so far, I haven’t had any really bad incidents with such materials.
Well, if you don’t count that [REDACTED] incident. No, Rack and Ruin say I still can’t talk about that, so forget I said anything. No, really. It wasn’t anything.
Anyways, Dima shows up at the Uaz ready to travel. We stop by the commissary and take delivery of some snacks for our crews during the day. They will see the cases of vodka, cognac, and beer, but I’m keeping them under wraps until work time is done.
Consider it an incentive program.
Out at Kyst #7, we’re trying to figure out the best place to make our holes. It’s dark, and there’s a lot of stumbling around, but Dima decides to set up a temporary parking facility for the heavy equipment now arriving. He also sets up a parking and muster area well away from Ground Zero for the office engineers.
We’re out setting up gas- and battery-powered lanterns around the Kyst. They give a bit of illumination; at least enough so one doesn’t trip over their own feet or some errant crispy iron.
“OK!”, I say as I drive in a marker. “We’ll start here. Let’s dig a hole, not too deep and nice and cylindrical. I don’t want anything conical if you can avoid it.”
This caused all sorts of disconcertment. The Russian cat skinners and heavy equipment operators had no idea what the term ‘finesse’ meant.
“Big machine. Big hole.” I was told.
“Nyet, nyet, nyet.” I retorted, “I want something less a pit and more a hole. Got that?”
This went round and round for about an hour until one of the local farmers showed up on his tractor. Dima knew him, saw the direction this was going and wandered off to find him.
In the rear of the tractor, coming off the PTO (Power Take-Off) was a spiral drill. An auger, if you will. He used it to drill postholes in the unforgiving soil to repair his frost-heave ravaged fences every spring.
He had extensions on the auger where he could drill down some 20 meters. Not terribly fast, but we only needed a few of these holes. So we negotiated a price, which cost me some rubles, vodka, and cigars; and he was off merrily drilling away.
Since this idled all my other heavy equipment operators and caused the office engineers to giggle, I decided it was more or less lunchtime and broke out the coffee, juice, and sandwiches.
We all sat around in the afternoon gloom watching a farmer drill some postholes. Much more of this excitement would definitely put me into a looney-bin. So, I broke out some Primacord and C-4, Russian versions, and proceeded to mold me some shaped charges.
Everyone knew to stay away when I was in ‘the zone’. I was the only one trained, experienced, and licensed to handle explosives here. Besides, they were that much closer to the sandwiches and coffee as well away in case I made some slight slip-up.
The preliminary holes were drilled so now we had holes some 10 centimeters in diameter, some 15-20 meters deep. OK, how to turn these cylinders in the earth into open pits?
I sat back and smiled. I was going to get creative and ‘daisy chain’ some explosives, shaped charges no less, vertically.
OK. First, dump some water down the holes so it’ll freeze and give me something to push against. Then, I’ll take some heavy rope and wrap it in Primacord; spiraling it down along the length of the rope from top to bottom. I’ll set a couple of kilos of HERETEX binary at the bottom. Then up about 2 meters, some C-4 moldable explosive shaped into horizontal pancakes. These would detonate first and give the binaries a shove south. Compressing them, and giving me a maximum couple to the earth and most bang for the buck.
A few milliseconds later I’d detonate some pancakes, or blini if you prefer, mid-hole. This would loosen the ground and let the expanding blast wave heading north move more material. I’d follow with another shot at 5 meters depth and one at 1.5 meters depth, which would be the last.
Blow the mid-section, shoot the bottom and precede it with millisecond delays on up the hole. We didn’t have cases of dynamite or bags of ANFO, so this would have to do. But first, I grabbed Dima and told him to get a few of his office engineers over here. I needed to shoot some tests and I needed some extra hands.
They were not happy. They figure this to be a field trip and a day off. No one said anything about really working.
I ignored them and had them help me mold the C-4, warning them to wear gloves or risk the mothers of all nitro headaches.
Then I showed them how binaries worked. Then Primacord.
But before all this, we did the Safety Dance, Russian Style.
We did this for the entire compass.
Then toots via the airhorn.
Then more looking around. As it was dark, this was most important. We had to rely on outliers stationed at 100, 200 and 300 meters to give us the all-clear.
“Ясный, доктор Рокнокер!”
It appears I was getting through to them.
“Fire in the hole!” Three times in English, three in Russian.
And some lucky office engineers would depress the big, red shiny button.
I had to test what Primacord, C-4 shaped and unshaped and binary solid explosive charges would do to permafrost. It was all more or less what I had anticipated.
I had created 5 of the daisy chain explosive harnesses. I lowered each one into a waiting hole myself. All I left at the surface was a round tin plate through which lone two ignition wires protruded.
OK, it was nut cuttin’ time.
I told everyone that I’d wire them in and each time the hole was wired, I’d spark off a fusee or road flare. If you saw a flare burning, know well that next to that, in the hole, was about 100 kilos of high explosive. If you wished to continue breathing for a long time, you must stay far back from these. No exceptions. Dima would assist me and that was it. Get your ass over to the Muster Area Dima had set up earlier and stay there.
Dima ordered everyone into the muster area and took a quick headcount. Satisfied that all were accounted for, we began wiring in our charges.
Well, that didn’t take long. Galving all the connections as you go really does save some time.
We had 5 holes primed and ready to go. I asked Dima to select a few of his office engineers that he still liked. We’d reward each with the opportunity to push the big, red button.
He did so and walked them over to behind the Uaz, which I had set up chairs and a table as blast central.
“Dima”, I said, “The first one is yours. Please. The Safety Dance.”
We did this for the entire compass.
Then toots via the airhorn.
“Ясный, доктор Рокнокер!”
“Fire in the hole!” Three times in English, three in Russian.
Dima mashed down on the button and there were a series of low, muffled blasts until 650 milliseconds later, the ground erupted and where there was once a 20 meter deep cylindrical hole, there was a 25 meter deep open pit, some 20 or so meters in diameter.
Perfect. I told everyone to wait and I alone ventured out into the smoking no man's land to inspect our efforts. No worries about loafers here. C-4 and binaries either detonate or they don’t; if so, they all detonate. And that’s just the way it worked here.
It looked great. A tall hole, with a raised rim of shattered permafrost. I’d have the dozer drivers create an opening on one side, we’d shove all the loose oil in, torch it, and when burnt, flood the holes with swamp water and cover it back over with taiga.
Come summer, anything untoward would be encased in ice, buried under frozen taiga and swamp schmoo, for perpetuity.
With that, I let Dima handle the rest of the shots. The holes were all primed, and ready to go. He chose who got to push the big, shiny red button, did the Russian Safety Dance and blew the shit out of the local scenery.
The dozer drivers made each pit a receptacle for the oil they’d be scooping up in mere minutes. They opened an entrance to each hole and built a ramp, up which they’d shove what loose oil they could move. Once the area was pretty much scraped, Dima and I would go around with Primacord and stomp down C-4 plugs into the frozen oil so it could be broken up.
It got to be almost mechanical. They’d clear an area and move off. Dima and his office engineers would toss in some gasoline and a lit road flare. Soon, it was light enough to see without all our ground lanterns. Yeah, there was a lot of smoke, but better that than having it contaminate the local water table. It wasn’t a perfect response to the situation, but the best we could muster given what we had to work within the time table we had.
Dima, a couple of his more interested office engineers and I walked around on the frozen oily ground and punched holes into the oily, congealed ground. We’d add about a ½ kilo of C-4 , molding it into the hole. I’d follow up with a blasting cap and galv it into the spool of blasting wire I was dragging along with me.
Once we had charged a fairly substantial area, Dima got everyone not operating a piece of heavy equipment over to the muster area. We’d do an abbreviated Safety Dance and fire away. The ground would heave and convulse and the oily, nasty earth was broken up into manageable blocks the dozers would pitch into the nearest burn pit.
To be continued.
MIL bailed on baby shower... should I forgive her?
To preface some of why I’m hesitant is that whenever my stepfather used to be abusive and my mother demanded an apology from him to us, he just threw money at us by buying gifts no one asked or wanted. This was enough to placate my mom and she dropped it. Allowing the cycle to continue, and my disdain for being “bought” to increase while I was growing up.
Okay so back to present day. Last month my mother hosted a baby shower for my SIL (brother’s wife) and a baby drizzle for me. Both my SIL and I are pregnant, I’m pregnant with my second son due in October and she’s pregnant with her first child, my niece, due in November (5weeks between us).
The double shower was a women’s only event at a Chinese food restaurant. I offered to pay for half, but my mother insisted on paying for all of it via credit card. Mom booked the venue, sent out the invites. All but one person RSVPed. That one person was my MIL (husband’s mom).
We invited my MIL and SIL as she’s in college two hours away in the same state, so we figured she can come since end of August school hadn’t started yet, and if it did, it was on the weekend and the course material isn’t that difficult.
Originally MIL and SIL would’ve come by plane to arrive in time. I felt bad because it was almost a back to back event. MIL had just spent 3 weeks backpacking around Mexico with her book club? members, and an additional 2 weeks in her hometown of Mexico to celebrate her SIL’s second son and first son’s 2nd birthday.
So I assumed she would be financially strained. My husband said not to worry and my MIL said not to worry. Somehow during the Mexican trip, her debit card info was stolen and husband’s parents were forced to cancel all their cards with the bank and get new ones.
I didn’t know about this, she told this to my husband via text messages, and I found out through snooping. My husband has an infuriating habit of not telling me anything important, usually telling me the hour before something happens.... so when it comes to my in laws and their plans to visit, buy gifts, or whatever, I have to snoop through his phone and answer my MIL’s questions on my text messages to her (on my phone).
Why my MiL doesn’t text me her questions for me, is beyond me. She keeps saying she’s insecure about her English, but it’s fine and I can understand her. Ugh, anyway.
MIL says she’s not coming because of what happened. I texted her on my phone, and asked if SIL is coming (I was careful to not mention that I knew about the situation and her not coming). MIL said they are BOTH coming, which made me confused.
I trusted her. Told my mom that MIL said yes and to go ahead and book the venue for 15 people.
The day of (days later) I asked my husband when MIL will arrive, and my husband said they JUST left at 10 am. Okay no big deal they’ll catch a flight and make it here (flight is 2 hours). Nope. Turns out FIL is driving them here. What?!
The drive here from MIL’s home is 8 hours. The shower was at 3 PM. That’s 5 hours, there was no way they’ll make it in time! I was miffed that my mom was out money 💰 because she paid for 15 people instead of 13, but atleast my MIL is coming so I’d see her later!
My MIL texted me she’d be late, I told her not to worry and I’ll see her when she comes. She tells my husband that they picked up SIL about 1.5 hours before the baby shower. I thought that she could still come as the shower was a 2.5 hour long event and no one would fault her for being an hour late.
She told my husband (not me or my mom) that they arrived and won’t come to the shower at all. The inlaws took my husband and older son to go eat, put all their attention on older son and ignored husband. My husband texted me saying they were just finishing dinner and coming home, he suggested I stop by my mom’s house to drop off all the gifts and then come over. No big deal.
Except I didn’t take my car to the baby shower. I rode with my mom. And immediately after I arrived at mom’s house, my mom had to take the family dog out to do her business. Mom would be back in 20 minutes.
I texted my husband saying that I’ll come over in 20 minutes, or if the wait is too long, the in laws can come to my mom’s house for coffee, leftovers from the restaurant(that my mom brought anticipating their late arrival), and their cake slices.
That’s when my husband sent me a text that crushed me. “They just left” he said. Where? “They left to go back home, they were in a ‘hurry’, you know how my dad can be”.
Okay I get it, my FIL is an ass. He’s the driver. He has zero issues visiting his daughters for days but when it comes to husband, me, and grandson he stays for 1-3 hours, all of a sudden is in a “hurry” to go home and leaves with everyone. BUT that tactic doesn’t work if my MIL and SIL actually refuses him.
Husband swears all three tried to get him to stay, but I sincerely doubt it. What would FIL do? Abandon his wife and daughter in another state just because they wanted to stay one more hour? Yeah right.
I never saw my MIL and SIL. They came for no reason. MIL never texted me an apology. When my mom came back, she took me home, I carried all the baby shower gifts (8 bags) and food, to the apartment by myself knowing they were heavy because husband took too long to come out and help.
I was pissed because of all that disappointment, but it was mostly directed at FIL. Until I saw my husband’s text messages to his mom.
First: They arrived at 4 pm and decided to skip the shower. MIL lied about being so late that they’ll miss the shower. At 4 PM, we had JUST finished our appetizers (had leftovers of that) and were ordering entrees. So MIL and SIL could’ve shown up 20 minutes later at the restaurant and by the time we opened the presents, they would’ve been eating cake. No big deal.
Second: FIL only drove everyone because he wanted to personally give our son gifts they collected in Mexico. On the effing day of the baby shower meant for me and SIL, never mind the fact that MIL would come back to this state 5 weeks later for TWO MONTHS. So why didn’t they mail the gifts for older son? Why didn’t they decide to bring the gifts 5 weeks from then? Why bring older son gifts from Mexico (which older son trashed anyway on day one because it wasn’t age appropriate for him) on a day that the gifts were for younger son and SIL’s daughter?
Third: They decided to host their own “baby shower” with my husband and son. No big deal, except it wasn’t even about the soon-to-be-born younger brother —- they just used it as an excuse to play with older grandson and completely ignored my husband. My son LOVES his Abuelo and Abuela, he was besides himself with joy. He was very upset when essentially 2 hours later, they were like “BYE! We had fun! See ya!” and left.
Fourth: What kind of people travel 16 hours round trip only to see their son and grandson for 2 hours, on the DAY OF THEIR DIL’s BABY SHOWER?! Which they already said “Yes” to, and decided LAST MINUTE to not even say a “Hello!” or apologize not only to me, but my SIL for not showing up. We were both looking forward to seeing my MIL, even though she’s not related, my SIL genuinely likes my husband’s family and wanted her there too.
My husband just chalked it up to pregnancy hormones and that I’ll get over it. I lost it. Next day, no apology or phone call. MIL texted me a week later asking about my pregnancy, 🙄 if she truly cared she would’ve shown it. The fact that she didn’t and used her husband as an excuse to not stick around (throwing FIL under the bus so to speak), made roll my eyes.
I told my husband that I no longer wanted her here. That she’s not welcome in our apartment because of that BS. He thought I was over-reacting but both my mom and I don’t think so.
You see, back when my brother got married. My father had just had heart surgery (triple bypass), my father is also really poor he’s on section 8 housing with limited pension from his small stint in the Army during the Vietnam war. My own dad, who is a dead beat in both legal and non-legal definition, SOLD HIS POSSESSIONS AND CHOSE TO SKIP MORTGAGE PAYMENT on his house just to come to my brother’s wedding. The doctors told him he wasn’t cleared for travel over long distances (Tennessee to Arizona) especially by car, and he can’t walk more than 15 feet without paralysis kicking in (Dad had pinched nerve which he needed surgery for).
But my Dad risked his very life and homelessness, just to make it to my brother’s wedding and make up the time he missed my wedding as he was in a coma that day. That’s dedication and it earned a lot of respect from me and my family. Even my stepfather who hated his guts, found it difficult to berate my Dad.
So when my husband said “oh my mom tried. They were running out of cash, that’s why they left” I called it BS and basically told him that I didn’t know cold hard cash can suddenly grow legs and run away from you if you didn’t leave right that second.
I was barely on speaking terms with my MIL so I left husband to disinvite her. He didn’t. Instead he’s using the “i’ll calm her down” approach with his mother. How?
By allowing her to do what my stepfather does — buy my apology. Without my input or say so, my husband gave my MIL the Amazon wishlist I set aside for my husband and I, and MIL bought a crib, a boppy, Victoria Secret cosmetics (that was her own doing, I don’t shop there), and now they are in talks to buy a Queen sized bed frame and maybe a double stroller for us.
Under any other circumstances I’d be grateful but guilty for the financial irresponsibility, as not shortly after they came back to their home state, my inlaws told my husband someone was suing them in court for $5000.
I told MIL not to buy us stuff because she has other priorities and that we can handle it, she basically ignored me and is throwing money at us instead of dealing with the courts.
So because of the baby shower event and her throwing money at me to “buy” my forgiveness, I’m in a predicament. Family and friends tells me to let go and forgive, but I don’t view money being thrown at me as forgiveness. That’s a tactic my stepfather did on me to keep my mouth shut, and stop going to authorities or relatives. It backfired then and I don’t want it to start again with my inlaws. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I’m already banning her and my stepfather from the hospital day of delivery, but my husband just lied to MIL and said that we needed her to babysit older son and that she is going to meet younger son anyway. So it’s a moot point “banning her”.
I’m furious. That Amazon wishlist was for my husband and I, we purposely didn’t create a baby registry this time because we have most of what we needed and we wanted to save our relatives money so they can focus on my SIL’s daughter. My SIL needs the help more.
I felt like I was financially violated. She took the joy away of my husband and I buying a crib for our youngest son, that we painstakingly picked out since we never got a chance to do so with our oldest, and his crib fell apart by now.
I feel no one is listening to me. My husband recently got paternity leave for a month, so there was no need for MIL to even come. It was a suggestion earlier in the year incase husband didn’t get paternity leave until January, so MIL could’ve helped out during the two month gap.
But husband is staying after all to help, with the option of extending his paternity leave if he wants. Now I have to deal with seeing my MIL in the apartment for 2 months on top of my husband being there 24/7.
It’s going to be cramped. It would’ve been doable if husband just came home and slept and went to work, but he’s going to be home all day along with my MIL which would feel suffocating especially since he takes her side.
And especially since I can’t look at my MIL’s face without feeling angry, hurt, and betrayed. I’m afraid I’ll lash out at anger towards her with a few choice words. My SIL is disappointed majorly, and both my SIL and my brother “gave up” on my inlaws.
My mother no longer wants anything to do with the inlaws. She was willing to forgive, but once my mom found out the truth that they essentially bailed on us and didn’t even bothered to stop by afterwards, my mom gave me the leftovers, threw away the in-laws’ cake and said she’s NEVER going to invite them anywhere ever again. Honestly I don’t blame her.
My husband is fine with it. I’m not. My inlaws are punishing everyone else by being petty just because of my stepfather’s racist behavior towards my husband.
Never mind the fact that stepfather hasn’t been abusive for 6 years because his dementia pretty much made him forget everything, he came around to my husband as his only issue back then, was that he thought my husband and his family were gold diggers (when he realized they were pretty well off and in “respectable” fields, he backed off and I sometimes catch him bragging to his friends about how “awesome” my FIL is, and how my husband’s uncles are funny).
Point is, my stepfather had an issue with my husband and only him. No one else. Instead of following my husband’s cue and basically pretending stepdad doesn’t exist and forging relationships and friendships with the other relatives.... my in laws decided to ‘punish’ everyone by passive aggressiveness because of my stepfather. My mom can’t kick stepdad out because his name is on the house and he’s ill. My grandma can’t do much either as she’s nearing 90.
Both my mom and grandma adore my MIL and want to establish a stronger relationship with my husbands SIL and my SIL’s side of the family. They grew up in a culture where it’s normal for extended family members, even cousins 4x removed, to be part of the family, events, and milestones as if they were immediate family. My husband’s culture is like that too.
So this whole baby shower event and MIL bailing, broke their hearts. They forgave my MIL because she’s buying me gifts. But I’m the one having a tough time with this.
I’m not sure if I should forgive her, and let it go. Or keep my distance and act coolly around her. All I wanted was a genuine apology for her breaking my heart.