Greetings Slattern friends and family members!
Surprise, surprise, 2013 was (yet another) thrill-packed year for your favorite all-American family, the Slatterns! Although anyone who tunes in to HLN will already be familiar with some of the more sensational chapters of our story (where would Nancy Grace be without US this year?!), there’s more than that silly extradition business to fill you in on.
First the good news — and couldn’t we all use a little more of that? Owing to this year’s “recreational use” decriminalization statute, Grandma’s case was dismissed back in April before it ever went to trial. To tell you the truth, I think the Legal Aid lawyer was a little disappointed at not being able to try out the innovative “oldfluenza” defense he came up with, especially since this was going to be his first real case, but he perked right back up when Mr. Slattern pointed out that with all the “zero tolerance” policies at the assisted living facility, sooner or later the old girl is bound to run afoul of the law again. Next time she ends up in a holding cell, Grandma has promised that Counselor Schenkman will be her first call.
And speaking of involuntary confinement, Uncle Fred is finally back in the bosom of his family after that little misunderstanding at The Mustang Ranch in Nevada. Last summer, thinking he was headed for the dude ranch vacation he’d always dreamed of, our favorite “cowpoke” was more than a little surprised to find himself in a cathouse instead of a horse barn. Still, it was the work of a minute for him to rally the old Slattern spirit and go with the flow. By checkout time they had to use a crowbar to get him out of there. Literally, they chased him out the front door with one. Unfortunately, there was some additional unpleasantness about the bill, which included a long list of expensive “extras” that weren’t part of his package, but in the end management agreed to garnish his Social Security for the next fifteen years in exchange for his prompt and permanent departure. Thanks for all those get well soon wishes! We’re pleased to report that the doctors did finally find an antibiotic that worked. They say that the lesions should heal up eventually, and when they do, Uncle Fred’ll be as good as new.
As our cable-news viewing friends will know by now, young Master Slattern has become a real computer wiz. Although we’ve been advised not to make statements about his case, I can say that the allegations of his CIA database hacking and downloading, however sensational, are nowhere near the truth, and we are one hundred percent certain he will be cleared and our return to the US approved any day now. Nonetheless, I’m happy to report that Khazakhstan really is lovely during the winter holidays, with all the snow and ice out on the steppes, and in the parking lots, and the hallways. And our hotel room.
After two weeks in country, we’ve already mastered a few essential phrases in Kazakh, and boy, do they come in handy. Roughly translated: I’m sorry, but we ‘re not in the market for a camel today; We may look like Uzbeks, but I assure you we are not; and of course, No, my daughter is NOT for sale. With the help of these and several other little cultural tricks, we find that daily life goes on much as it did in the good old US of A with meals to prepare, housework to do and extended visits to the various embassies, consulates and police precincts to negotiate our legal status.
Supplies are a bit scarce over here, but in the outdoor market, I find I can trade my Klonopin and Valium for almost anything, and Mr. S has even developed a taste for the national drink, fermented mare’s milk, which he claims goes well with Russian vodka (it’s cheaper than tonic water!). Most days he can be found comfortably settled on his pony-skin floor mats with gallon jugs of both by his side, listening to the Voice of America. He almost never cries anymore.
I’m finding the combination of a crushing load of stress plus the local goat-based diet has made it possible for me to lose that pesky twenty pounds, and owing to the lack of internet connectivity young Miss Slattern has traded her Facebook and BuzzFeed habits for daily instruction in kick-boxing at the local gimnasia. As an added bonus, she seems to be picking up some Russian from her trainer, Nikolai Nikolaiovich, who is also quite the fashion photographer and cossack-about-town!
And that, my friends, is all our news. We are looking forward to having the warrants lifted and returning home soon. In the meantime, all donations to the Slattern Family Legal Defense Fund are greatly appreciated. The good folks at WikiLeaks have assured us that, although donations are not tax deductible, they’re not remotely traceable either.
Merry Christmas, everybody!