After Dinner Debriefing

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I’ve been trying to come up with something to write about my dinner with my parents last Saturday, but the only thing I can come up with is it was normal. It went normal anyway. It felt normal. Even though it was the first time since I moved out twenty years ago that they’ve come over for a meal, I wasn’t expecting anything dramatic or uncomfortable.

When they knocked on the door I got a little apprehensive, but once they walked in I calmed back down. I know they were nervous… obviously, since they had no idea what to expect. In their minds I’m sure the worst case scenario involved an open fire, some sticks and having to skin their own steak. Mom called in the afternoon to ask if they should bring a baguette… I told her if they wanted bread they should bring some because they’d be lucky if the chicken was cooked. So when they walked in the door they had a box of food with them.

The only other time I was nervous was when I was cleaning the apartment, because the only thing I did during the week to prepare was to set up an Ikea bookcase I bought a few months ago on Friday night, and buy the food on Friday afternoon.

So on Saturday morning, after playing GTA IV for ninety minutes, I swept and washed the floors, washed the dishes, organized and dusted my three bookcases, cleaned out my recycling corner, vacuumed my rugs, hung some photos, hosed down my bathroom, cleaned the stove and put a doily on my PlayStation… basically nine hours of work in seven hours of time.

There were a couple of times when I’d take a break and took a look at what was left to clean and thought about rescheduling, but I didn’t. The amount of dust was incredible. I live in an ancient building which basically sits in the intersection of a fairly busy highway and the Main Street of my village. And my cleaning schedule is usually semi-annual. So there were layers. Not only that, I also have a tendency to stack things and never return. I found newspapers under my desk from 2005.

But once it’s done my apartment actually cleans up pretty nice. I also picked some red and yellow tulips from the garden, and some purple lilacs from the tree out back for a centrepiece.

When I was a kid my mom used to host dinner parties for her artist friends, so I learned the lessons and now I’m pretty good at hosting my own… make sure there’s some fairly obscure brand of alcohol; some chunks of cheese; maybe some olives and veggies with a dip; music loud enough so people have to speak slightly louder than normal, and; make sure there are photos and stuff displayed which will start a conversation.

Mostly we talked about my grandfather and how fast he’s deteriorating, and my brother’s wedding next February. And hockey. And books… I have some old and rare first and third editions, and mom’s an archivist. My parents, having now seen my apartment lit, want to buy paint for the walls and they’ve offered me their couch and chair when they buy new ones in June. Couch: yes; Paint: probably not.

I also bought mom a bouquet of belated Mother’s Day flowers. For a lot of reasons I’ve never been very good with Mother’s Day… obviously I don’t have much reason to be sending cards on Father’s Day, but over the past bunch of years I’ve been doing a lot better with getting mom a card or some flowers or a phone call.

Overall my parents were very impressed with the meal and the state of my apartment. They really were expecting barely cooked chicken and boiled potatoes, but again, how could they not? And considering the last time they were here together it was because they thought I was dead — a couple of years ago I stopped having any contact with the outside world and after ten days my parents used my landlords key to let themselves in so they could find out if I was alive or gone or both — this was definitely the most fun we’ve all had here.

I think I’m going to make this an ‘every-other-month’ kind of thing… it’ll give me an excuse to do the dishes again.




About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression when I was nineteen, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. It's now 2022, and I have an 8-year old son, and a 12-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at
This entry was posted in Bipolar, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, crazy people with no pants, Grand Theft Auto, Health, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Mental Health, Poverty. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to After Dinner Debriefing

  1. XUP says:

    Congratulations! Sounds great AND you’ve got the bonus of a sparkling clean apartment. The every other month dinner party idea sounds just the thing. You seem to have a knack for this with the music and the flowers and the nibbly things.

  2. giannakali says:

    wonderful! normal is good.

  3. thordora says:

    I’m glad it went well. Sometimes it’s nice to feel real… 🙂

  4. bromac says:

    Awesome….I’m glad it went off without a hitch.

    And, hey, maybe you can stay on top of the cleaning and it won’t be a 7hr job next time. 🙂

  5. Marcy says:

    You really did well. I’m glad it felt so normal.

  6. exactscience says:

    Well done, my parents have never set foot in my flat. Hope you keep on top of the cleaning.

  7. bine says:

    i’m still grinning about the doily on the playstation.
    but this sounds good. normal sounds good. makes me very happy for you.
    oh, and i think our cleaning schedules are quite similar. you must have done an amazing job in 7 hours!

  8. Clare says:

    Aww good job G. The menu sounded tasty!

  9. zoom says:

    Good for you – sounds like you thought of everything and it all went off without a hitch. As a mom, I can say with some authority that ‘normal’ is a good thing to experience when you go to your kid’s place for dinner.

    Nice touch with the flowers, by the way.

  10. Lydia says:

    Yay! I also invite people over in order to force myself to clean.

  11. Jenny says:

    I am so proud of you. I love your honesty. I have dealt with depression on and off throughout my life. I know the feeling of not getting the basics done and feeling as if you can not socialize. Thanks for talking so openly about it.

  12. Gabriel... says:

    Sorry I haven’t replied sooner, I’ve felt like crap for the past ten days. It has taken me longer than I thought to recover from my parents being here. It still takes me a few days to prepare for an “event” and a few days to recover. Then the appointments and necessary stuff I have to do to survive get in the way of that recovery… when I’d sit down to reply individually I’d get one sentence into it and my brain would cramp. Actually, just writing this post was really difficult. The mini-recoveries seem to reflect my overall one… but now my brain feels great and, right now, I’m preparing to have a couple of friends over to watch Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals where the Pittsburgh Penguins are playing the Detroit Red Wings, and to play Call Of Duty 4. So I’ll be back in a little while to do this properly.

  13. Hey, congratulations on pulling dinner off. Sounds like it was really hard for you to be ‘normal’ for them. I’m glad your brain is feeling great, let’s hope it stays there 😛

  14. aikaterine says:

    I am late to the party again…

    Glad to hear that you pulled it off, and possibly enjoyed it.

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