Posted by: Mark Nielsen | August 14, 2011

Zen & the Art of the Family Freakout


“Calm down”, says Barbie. “You’re going to give us ALL ulcers.”

        I’m sitting in my mom’s kitchen, 5:56am the morning of my planned departure to face a North Carolina judge over my end-of-June DWI. Mom just broke the news to me that after much hemming and hawing and anxiety, my niece Jessica’s coming on the trip after all with my sister Laura (the driver for NC, since I’m revoked there), and my son Graham and me.

So with the last minute, tearful 2am change of plans, I feel a bit like Barbie looks, too. But its fine, we’re fine, and I’m glad to bring Jess (and Barbie) with us. Glad to have these people in my life, too, and to have their help cleaning up my big mess.

Jessica will give Graham a playmate (and be the Costello to his Abbott) for the trip, and Laura doesn’t have to feel guilty about bailing on her. Plus Jess can keep Graham occupied while Laura studies (she just passed her L.P.N. exam [yay!], but still has a year to go in the R.N. program, starting the day after she gets home).

Where will I be, while they swim, study, and climb the Blue Ridge Mountains north of Asheville? Probably in jail for a day or two. Yup. (to quote Hillbilly Clem) No “community service” for this sinner. I is a firm believer in punishment and rehabilitation.

Okay, so maybe I don’t recommend The Prison Diet & Fitness Program at University of Super-Concentrated Boredom for everyone, what with such a shoddy corrections system (based on what I have seen now, in two states, from both sides of the bars thanks to some prison ministry volunteer work here in IL, plus hosting a friend with an “anklet” in my home for awhile a few years back). But in my case, a couple days in the slammer is just more good material for Chapter 5 of my memoir: “How To Waste a Fine Education, Without Really Trying”. So you might say this is a working vacation for me.

I can handle “doin’ the time” okay, since I did do the crime (barely… I blew a .08, but “buzzed driving is drunk driving”, or so the commercials tell me). But can we cut the REST of the family drama to the bare minimum for awhile when I get home next week? I can’t afford a therapist just now, and I’ve slowed up on the drinking, ’cause… well, y’know…

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