Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Send Me the Love

I woke up this morning in something of a blue funk; I had hoped I would feel better for longer after getting home from Seattle, had hoped that the rest and relaxation I got would carry over into my real life for more than a day, but that hasn't been the case. The house is still a crappy mess, the kids still fight all of the time, I still have some major financial issues that I am trying to address but is taking much longer than I thought; basically, it is still my life. Not that I thought it would somehow magically transform itself while I was gone, you know, but-I don't know, I just thought I was in a better frame of mind and would be able to see things differently with some fresh perspective. Not so.

I am just so tired. We live in this really small, crappy house that is suddenly falling apart, and my landlady just doesn't have the money to fix the things that are going wrong, so it just gets worse. I hate it, and we looked at another house yesterday after work, one with an extra bedroom and bathroom, but I just can't swing it financially; not just the increase in rent, but the increased heating costs (it is a two-story older home). Which is why we have been stuck where we are, because it is more than I can afford to get into another place. Yes, I am on the waiting list for the Idaho Housing Authority, no, we don't qualify for a low-income apartment (for those of you who are inevitably going to make suggestions, I have tried them all. Don't qualify to even apply for Habitat for Humanity, cannot get a home loan, etc...). I went home last night and just felt so discouraged I wanted to sit down and cry; there are clothes in laundry baskets in one corner (my "closet"), books piled on every available surface, the closets (all three of them) are filled to overflowing, and we just don't have any room. Therefore, the house never looks clean even if it is, and it makes me feel like shit that I can't even really invite people over or anything because it looks so awful. I do what I can, but it just doesn't seem to be enough.

I usually do pretty well with accepting that this is where things are, and I can only do so much to change things. In a general sense, I am maybe not wildly happy but am at least content, because things are better than they used to be, for sure. Right now, though, I just feel like a rodent on one of those wheels that run and run but never get anywhere; I have entertained more than once the idea of getting a second job, but then there are all of the repercussions of that, like not being able to be a parent, of having my 15 year old daughter assume the role of parent to the younger boys, which isn't an option. Neither do we have an after-hours daycare in this area, so I couldn't take Owen to a babysitter while I worked at night; which I wouldn't want to do anyway, after having had him in daycare all day. Goes back to this thing called parenting, which I want to be able to do. So I stop and think about all of these things, and realize that even though on paper, a 2nd job makes sense, in real life it doesn't. It would create more problems than it would solve, for sure. And none of this has to do with the house specifically, that is just the one tangible thing to focus on that make sense, you know?

I am so fucking tired of being alone, too. Yes, I have an amazing group of friends, yes, I have a lot of love in my life; I know this, and am continuously grateful. It just isn't enough sometimes. I am so tired of being the only parent in my kids' lives. I am tired of looking around me and seeing that everybody else seems to be doing it so much better than I am. I know all the right things to do; eat right, try to get enough sleep, let myself feel however it is I feel and then move on. I know well that it is better to be alone than in a shitty marriage or relationship. I know firsthand that me alone is better in SO many ways than some of the people I know who AREN'T alone; I know on a deep, elemental level that I provide for my kids some really, really important, life changing/affirming things. I know that. But knowing all of that doesn't always help; it doesn't change the fact that at the end of the day, I am still alone. I used to have this, I don't know, vision? Dream? Whatever, about the kind of person I would be with, and let me tell you, that has changed dramatically; instead of a rich man who would take care of me and, by proxy, my kids, I just want someone who loves me. Who wants to be with me not for what I can give him or how good I can suck him off, but because he thinks I am something pretty special. It isn't settling, it is just-different.

God. I am in kind of a bad way here. Maria was asking for donations awhile back for a new computer, and I am thinking about asking for donations for a life. This guy, has one for sale; any takers? Not really, but-I just don't know anymore.

I need some love, guys. I need you to lie to me and tell me how great I am, how any guy would be so lucky to have me and Steve is stupid for not seeing that. I need you to tell me that I am not totally fucking up, and that things will somehow, some way, get better. If you are a believer in anything, send up a prayer for me. When you are done with that, head on over to see April, because she needs to feel the love, too.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesday: Post Vacation

It is Tuesday morning, and I am back from my vacation as of 6:00 last night. It was an absolutely lovely time, I am so grateful I was able to go.

I stayed with my friend Camille and her husband, Dan. They haven't been married very long, just about 5 months, so this was the first opportunity I had to meet him-and what a lovely, lovely man! When we got to their house on Thursday night, he had a simple meal and fresh coffee waiting for us, and I immediately felt his warm and welcoming presence. He is retired, but is anything but your typical retired person. He cooks, for one thing-and not just hamburger helper but these lovely, huge meals with beautiful presentation and high-end restaurant quality. I think he was slightly taken aback by the huge amounts of food I managed to shove down my gullet, but it was that good. Also, what it felt like to me was being nurtured, which is something lacking in my daily life. Food is, for me (and if you know me at all, you know I have all sorts of very traumatic food memories, and I have had a love/hate relationship with food my entire life), such an elemental need that goes far beyond simple fuel, and Dan was an excellent caretaker in that sense. There is nothing so comforting as feather-light biscuits with real butter and homemade jams, or homemade guacamole that tastes fresh and creamy, or halibut and asparagus with homemade Hollondaise sauce. I could wax euphoric about all of this wonderful food for days-but the significance of it for me had, quite simply, to do with the fact that he was taking care of me; what a blessing!

And he is good to my Camille. I won't go into too much detail because it is her story to tell or not tell, but let's just say that she hasn't had it easy-in relationships, in life. A fellow (but now former) single mother, she has had a hard row to hoe, but has managed to put herself through law school and become a kick-ASS family law attorney. Now, she has this great partner who loves and nurtures her the way she has always deserved, and while I don't think she was unhappy before Dan, I can also see very clear signs of contentment from her. This alone would make me love Dan, because Camille is such a freaking amazing woman who deserves someone who so obviously loves her and just wants her to be happy, and that hasn't been the case for her.

While I was there, their home was a refuge for me. I hadn't realized how strung out and on the edge I really was until I had the chance to just stop for a moment and rest. I am not talking about a short rest after strenuous activity, but rest in the far deeper sense of the word. I really, really needed to be able to sleep when and as long as I wanted, to eat good food and drink coffee and have conversation if I wanted it, but it wasn't a necessity. I read books and "helped" Dan make a pie while Camille was occupied with her son, and we went shopping and they had mutual friends over for dinner to celebrate my birthday on Saturday night, but there was nothing required of me. Camille is gifted with the ability to see me as I am and loving me anyway, so there was no need to worry about fitting in or feeling self-conscious or trying to pretend to be anyone I am not; that is truly a gift.

There will be more post-vacation posts, of course, because Seattle? Blog fodder for WEEKS. but for now, it is enough to be home and be happy to be home, and to feel so blessed in these people I can call my friends.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I just can't do it.....

You all know that vacation I am going on tonight? Four days and nights with no kids? I have, quite simply, decided that I can't go. I mean, really; look at these photos; can I really leave all this?

Here is my Eli, looking oh sweet at his birthday last year.....

And Sambo, who though you can't see it, is holding his bunny who has actually lived for an entire YEAR!

Owen camping last summer; the only thing missing from this picture is a can of beer; doesn't it look like he should have one?

So. Look at these sweet faces and tell me if you really think Ican do this. Haven't been anywhere without at least one of them in, oh, ever. Do you blame me for getting a little teary-eyed this morning and kissing Owen so many times that he finally pushed me and said "GO!", or for telling Hannah about 11 times that I love her...

Am I really thinking about leaving?

You bet your ass I am!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

To Hell with Conflict-It's My Birthday!

You lucky folks, you get a double post from me today, being as it's my birthday and all. I thought I would give YOU all a present by posting twice. Yeah, right, whatever.

In all seriousness, though, I got some rocking presents this year, and I wanted to share some of them with you. I am leaving for vacation tomorrow after work, thanks to my friend Camille who got my plane tickets for me; how freaking cool is THAT? I have NEVER been on a trip without at least one child with me, so this is quite a gift, and I am so grateful. Next, dude, I got THE coolest smoker last night! Yes, for those of you who are not as white trash as I am, it is a receptacle in which I can put charcoal and wood chips (the preferred flavor at our house is hickory) and actually smoke me some MEAT. Or fish, which is my personal favorite. Or turkey. Or ham. Anyway, I have really been wanting one, and Steve got me one. Along with some wool "Cabin Slippers," which really look cool on me. They are green and cream wool, with a leather bottom, and they lace up at the knee. Love them. From the kids this morning, I got two Oreos and lots of hugs and kisses. A few checks in the mail from various family members....and an awesome fucking birthday post on my behalf from my friend April.

But to wax sentimental here, the presents are, of course, really nice, and I am grateful, but the things I have this year are so much more than that. I keep looking back at the last year, from #35 (AKA the Kiss of Death) to this one, the big 36, and it has just been such a crazy, awful, wonderful year, and I will be the first to say that I am not the same person I was a year ago. I have learned and grown so much, from people I would never have expected to learn things from, and no matter how I might feel tomorrow, today is a good day. I have been heartbroken for the LAST FUCKING TIME in the last year, I have been literally bankrupted by an ex-husband, I thoroughly got screwed by this online group of mommies with whom I fell in love and I had to leave (for some reason, those conservative Christians women tend not to care for me; can't quite figure that one out. Do I maybe swear a little too much?). I have experienced all sorts of craziness, a lot of major things and even more minor ones, all of which make up this thing called life-and I am still here.

And here is my little thank you to a few very important people: to my April, for the same reasons she posted on her site about ME. Believe me, honey, I would be even more fucking nuts and emotionally unbalanced than I am without you to vent, cry, yell to-and then to laugh with and talk about how much we love our kids and want better for them, for ourselves. To Jacquie, who is my best IRL friend, and Janet-two strong, beautiful women who do all of those things that women do for people they love: they have fed me, cried for me and with me, wiped snot and tears from my face, and then told me to get my shit together and take another step forward. Without these three women, I know I wouldn't have made it through the last year with any semblance of grace or dignity or sanity.

There are so many other people, though, online and IRL, that I can't and won't list them all. Not because I don't want to acknowledge them, but because hey, it is almost 5:00; time to go to Jacquie's, where we will be feasting on steak and potatoes and birthday cake.

Life is so good, SO beautiful, and if you can't see a glimmer of that on even the worst days, open your eyes a little wider. We don't have a lot of time here in the greater scheme of things, and I don't know about you, but I sure don't want to waste anymore of it.

PS: NappyRash? Good luck. I will SO be praying that Spencer swims long and hard, my man!

A Continuation....

I wasn't actually going to waste anymore of my time on this much-debated issue brought about by Discovering Dad, because it is, really, beating a dead horse. Neither he nor I are going to agree, nor is he even willing at this point to see where or why he might have struck a chord with me or any other person with tits. He wants to talk down to me and be condescending? great. His wife wants to step up and defend him and basically tell those of us who had the balls to disagree that we are pussies? No problem; I can deal. But let me clarify a little bit about why I-and a whole lot of other people I know-feel the way I do.

Whether you people with testicles want to admit it, we still live in a YOUR world, and our choices, thoughts, feelings are based on the fact that we still get fucked because we have a vagina. I get so fucking sick of hearing men talk about all the great things they are doing for their kids and their families-because they want some kind of medal for doing what they should have been doing all along. That fucking sucks. I think it is a really great thing, and one of THE most important things a man can do for his children-whether married to their mother or not, dads need to do the awesome things that men like Discovering Dad, BusyDad, and lots of men I know in my real life are doing for their kids. Because you ARE; I have never disputed that, and won't. Just don't expect me to do a happy lap dance for you because you are doing what you signed up for. I mean, if you want to get all technical about it, the fact that you poor men have gone under appreciated and unacknowledged for all of these years is your own fault-after all, isn't that how you wanted it? For we women to stay home and cook your dinner and take care of your kids and put out whenever you want it, all while you get to go out and make the money? And then one day, you all woke up and realized that you wanted better for your kids, for your wives, for your selves, and you finally stepped up to the plate-better for everyone, obviously. However, one of the biggest problems that remain is this mindset that you are entitled to special recognition and special treatment for, again, doing what you signed up for. THAT is what I don't understand.

To clarify another thing: there is a difference between mutual love, respect and a willingness/desire to do things for your partner because you want them to be happy and the reward system. Like my good buddy XBox4NappyRashsaid, "I don't take an extra breath mint to reward her for bringing me a cup of tea, and she doesn't offer sexual favours when I bring in the mail." We do-or should do-things for our partners because we want to, not because of what we think we might get out of it. Nor should we as women have to coerce, manipulate, bribe, or cajole our men. For any reason. In my opinion, whoring myself out-allowing you to do it, either-is wrong, and when I feel like I have to do X, Y, or Z in order to convince you that you WANT to do that which you SHOULD do, well, you're my pimp, baby, and if I am going to allow myself to be victimized that way, I should be making a fuck of a lot more money than I am. And that really has nothing to do with sex, but the whole mindset.

I agree that when both partners are doing things out of a desire to make the other person happy, everybody benefits. When Owen's dad says, "Let me take Owen for a couple of hours so you can go bowling," that makes me happy-which in turn makes me much more willing to be generous when he says, "I can't take Owen tonight because I am going to see a movie with my sister." Last night when Owen dumped the entire box of matches in the back of the truck and screamed when Steve told him to pick them up, Steve acknowledged to me-as the primary caregiver (in addition to having three other kids and a full time job and no husband)-that it is hard work having a two year old, and I didn't feel the need to say, "No shit, you fucking dick, why do you think I am such a bitch all of the time?" Instead, because he acknowledged that the work I do is both important AND difficult, I gladly helped him and Owen pick up the matches. And I really think-and could be wrong-that this is what Discovering Dad was trying to get at-that when both partners are willing to do things out of a desire to have things run smoothly, it works. What I totally disagree with is the added responsibility we women are being given by saying that we should be taking on the additional role of cheerleader and Chief Motivator. I have enough responsibilities as it is without taking on another one, and I don't see it in any way my job to make sure you do yours.

And no, I don't agree with the reward system, EVER. Not after the toddler years are over, anyway. And this is probably arguing semantics, but I don't see praise as a reward. I don't have a single problem with giving praise when it is deserved-but by the same token, doing your chores at home? Doing your homework? Sorry, you don't get praised for doing that which is expected and part of being a team. Now, if one of the kids goes above and beyond what is expected, then they absolutely get a pat on the back-but they are never "rewarded." I don't bribe my kids, nor do I offer them something-monetarily, physically, emotionally, in exchange for doing their jobs, so to speak. I offer love and respect freely to my children, we spend huge amounts of time together as a family, we are big on hugging and kissing and telling each other how much we love each other. Is that a reward? No, I think that is normal and healthy. I believe in doing the right thing because it IS the right thing. I believe in actions and consequences. I don't reward good behavior because I EXPECT good behavior. I don't reward passing grades because school=job for my kids. I don't give the baby a cookie for not throwing a tanrum or for peeing in the potty (which, okay, is NEVER going to happen, he will be the first of my children to go to college wearing a diaper). If he does something wrong, there are consequences. That is the way things work best at our house-that doesn't mean that is how things have to be at yours.

It is so easy to cloud the issue with perceptions and ideas, and it is not wrong or abnormal to use our own life experiences as a springing off place. I have never made a secret of the fact that I have had some really shitty men in my life, so of course I am going to use that to draw upon. But I am also adult and self-aware enough to know that this kind of attitude-that I should be the one to motivate my partner-would never work for me. that doesn't mean it is wrong for YOU, as men and fathers and partners, nor for your spouses. I really and truly believe that the bottom line is that you talk about what works for you, and if someone else gets something useful out of it, the more power to you. More importantly, more power to ALL of us. No matter what tools we use, whatever it takes to make our families stronger and happier is a good and powerful thing. I don't have to agree with you, and vice versa-but it doesn't mean that you OR me are bad people. I liked the debate-I LOVE a good debate-and also believe that if we are all talking about it-even if we disagree-then only good can come of it. Do I disagree with the attitude? You bet your ass I do. But do I disagree with what you are trying to do? Never, not in a million years. Kids need both their parents-and as long as each pair (be it lovers, spouses, co-parents but not "together," gay or straight, whatever form that takes for each of us) is committed to raising healthy, happy kids who are getting what they need from both parties, then we are all doing the right thing. It just doesn't have to be the same for all of us.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sex is SO Not Happening!

I was feeling like I had a little bit of writer's block this morning, and was toying with the idea of just not posting anything today-because I actually do that a lot (meaning NOT POST), as those who read this regularly know. However, I followed a little blog trail and came across this post by Discovering Dad. Now, I will put in my little disclaimer here by saying that I have absolutely NOTHING against this guy personally. Like many, many parents, he is just trying to find his way to being a good father, and God knows that we all have to do that our own way. We all have our own perceptions about what that means and how we are supposed to go about doing it, and I give him a full 10 points for making an honest effort. ESPECIALLY when he told those slacker dads (of which there are millions!) to STOP giving real dads a bad rep-I hear that, and give a resounding Hallelujah to him for making that statement.

That said, this particular post really pissed me off. Again, not at him personally, but about this testosterone-laden, oh-so-manly-mindset that is portrayed in it. See, I don't understand why men feel like they deserve some kind of accolade for being a parent; I don't get why they feel like they have to asked to do something around the house. I mean, if the garbage is full, the baby is messy, why the fuck should I have to ask you to dump it or change him? Unless you are blind and have no sense of smell, you should be able to see what needs done. Just do it. And quit bitching about how picked on and overworked you are. By nature, that is the definition of being a parent; if you really want to BE one, get used to it.

He also talked about the "reward" system; being a guy, of course his idea of a reward is sex, but also mentions that there are other kinds of rewards. And I am thinking, um, again, why should you get rewarded for being a parent? Maybe after spending the day working either outside OR inside the home, then having to spend the evening cajoling, asking, begging, and bribing you to help out, giving you a happy blow job to reward you is SO not happening. I am tired. I have been puked on, done four loads of laundry including your dirty underwear (can you not freaking WIPE?), I have made dinner and asked you nicely to take out the garbage and get Baby ready for bed, and when that didn't work, I asked again, not so nicely, and when it still didn't happen and the six year old has homework and the 13 year old is pissing and moaning about how hard HIS life is, while you watch the game, well, honey, ain't nobody getting fucked tonight. Rewards? Please.

I understand this thought process, though, I really do. Many, many men are trying to take more an active part in parenting, and I commend those who do. It IS work-which Discovering Dad acknowledges freely. To be fair, men are living with stereotypes that are hard to overcome, because they are "supposed" to be the bread-winners while mom stays home and takes care of the kids-to do anything less than that (or MORE than that) just isn't the accepted thing to do. By the same token, though, expecting your wife or partner to feel like she has to teach you to do the right thing, to ask instead of tell, to respectfully and lovingly ask you to mow the lawn and if you DON'T, to not take up the slack, and then blow you, well, you ask too much.

I have come up with my own little list of Do's and Don'ts for those of you with a penis:

1. Don't pretend you don't smell the shitty diaper. Just change it already. It can't smell any worse than the bathroom after you have spent 20 minutes in it. Just think: you might be rewarded for this one! The reward would be a clean, sweet-smelling bottom that DOESN'T HAVE A RASH. This is why we do it when you don't FEEL like it; it isn't about taking up the slack, it is about making sure our kid is clean and comfortable.

2.Don't pretend that you are going to mow the lawn as soon as the news is over. You know you aren't going to. Also, don't bitch when I don't pick up the slack and we get ticketed by the city for having an overgrown lawn. Cut the grass, pay the ticket, or hire the neighbor kid.

3. Do give me the same respect you think you deserve. We don't care if it is chicken from the grocery store deli, provide dinner one night. And then make sure the dishes are done afterward. I might really like the chance to have 20 minutes alone with the teen aged daughter who just had her heart broken for the third time this year.

4. Do fix the fucking fence instead of yelling at the kids for not watching the dog closely enough.

5. Do thank me every single day for not only squeezing these kids out of a very small place, but for not killing them within the first month. Thank me for making the choice to stay with you even after I have asked a thousand times to have the leaky sink fixed. Thank me for putting up with your mother and pretending that it doesn't matter when she tell you that you could do better.

In short, you are asking for a lot, you men, but don't seem to be willing to do the same in return, and even more a problem, you don't see why we think we deserve more from you. In your mind, it seems like as long as we women are getting SOME help, we should bend down and kiss your sweaty feet-and then give you a reward for being a parent? I commented on this post about how I am better off being single, and I think I am right-because if this is the kind of 50's behavior men think they deserve, no thanks.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Birthday Blessings

My birthday is coming up in a couple of days. Last year at this time-hell, last year a month EARLIER-I was in a depression about the upcoming date. I turned 35 last year, and I dreaded it terribly. I cried and felt depressed and figured I might as well just give up because I only had like three good years left.

I don't know-it seems like once I passed the actual landmark date, though, everything changed. Another year has gone by and I feel maybe better than I have in years, as far as life stuff goes. It doesn't seem to matter much anymore that after four kids, my bra less boobs hang down to my waist and my ass keeps on jiggling long after I have stopped shaking it (which I really only do when I am in the grocery store and the kids are with me and they are pissing me off so I want to embarrass them). It doesn't seem to matter as much that I am not where I thought I would be at this juncture in my life-because I LIKE where I am, for the most part. I believe that there are things about my life that could be different or better, but perhaps for the first time in my life I am confident that with time and hard work and the occasional small bit of luck, I will get where I want to be. Believe me, this is not my nature-for a lot of reasons, I have spent a large amount of my life just waiting for the next bad thing to happen. Now, though, I am well aware that bad things ARE going to happen-because hey, it is LIFE-but that I can actually be content even through it all.

And I have these wonderful friends who remind me that I am loved. Jacquie took me to lunch and shopping on Saturday, to pick out a new outfit to wear to Seattle. Yesterday, my dear friend Janet fixed a feast for me and the kids, and also gave me a new book, one I had read and loved as a child. On Tuesday, Steve is making dinner (my favorite that HE makes, hickory-smoked pork chops), and then on Wednesday-the actual day-the kids and I are going to Jacquie's for dinner. Thursday night, then, I fly out to Seattle, the tickets for which were given to me by the friend with whom I will be staying. This type of largess is not something I have had in the past, and maybe for you "normal" people this kind of stuff is daily fare, but for me, this is what gets me through the day. Not just on my birthday, but every day. I think I have just been paying better attention this week, because I have been the recipient of so much love in such a short period of time.

I think-believe-that it is true that the more love you give, the more you get in return. Part of my recovery-from alcoholism, childhood abuse and trauma, a terrible-on-a-thousand-levels-marriage-has involved both learning how to give AND how to accept love and kindness and generosity, which is never very easy for me. Because, you know, I like to do things myself. I don't need help. I am strong, in control, have it all handled. But all the years that I lived that way, things were slowly falling apart at the seams, and I had to start all over and learn how to say "I can't do this. I need advice/a listening ear/a shoulder to cry on/a safe emotional haven." In doing such a simple thing like asking, I have been given so much more than I would ever have believed possible. By the same token, I am so much more able to give those things in return.

Along with my book, Janet gave me the best possible card she could have. On the front, there are pictures of four sets of legs-three dressed in high-falutin business shoes, dress pant, heels. The fourth? Blue jeans and tennis shoes. Inside was the caption, which applies to my birthday and my LIFE: "It's your birthday. Accommodate NO ONE." I love this. This is who I am learning to be, and am finding that people love me more honesty and fully than they ever have before.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Flashback Friday-Second Grade

Oh, what an unoriginal post for Flashback Friday! Still, after having read CableGirl's post this morning, well, I just can't compete. You have to go there to get the full effect, but suffice it to say that I am going to have a very disturbing mental image in my head all day because of it.

Of all of the years I have spent in school, I can honestly say that Second Grade was the best. It was a year full of firsts for me: my first crush on a teacher, my first black friend, my first "boyfriend," all sorts of different things that made the year stand out in my mind. We lived on the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, which meant the school year always felt a little disorganized and chaotic due to the constant stream of kids coming in and out; it was very unusual to go to school more than one year with a kid, and more often than not, you would see new faces every few months, or at least that was how it seemed at the time. This was before I got into my major control issues, of course, because I LOVED the fact that it wasn't the same every day.

My teacher was a woman called Sherrie Clayton; she was very tall, and blond, with a bouffant hairdo and those little cat-eye glasses (OK, remember, please, this WAS the 70's!); she was like a queen to me, all kind and soft and quiet, and I thought she had to be THE most beautiful person in the entire world. She also liked me; a lot. Which was, okay, a new experience for me. She thought I was someone special, and is quite literally responsible for instilling in me the feeling of safety and security that school has always given me. Which in turn led to a lifetime love of books and paper and pens and yes, even homework and the joy of a well-done assignment. That poor woman, I followed her around like a lovesick puppy all year. In fact, when we moved off of the Academy a year later, I still kept in touch with her. When we later moved to Idaho, we wrote letters back and forth. I think I was in 4th grade when we took a trip back to Colorado and I even went to visit her-and remember feeling betrayed that by then she had two small children;she was MINE. The last time I remember having contact with her was when I was in about 8th grade; we actually wrote letters all that time. I don't know where she is now, but I will always think of her when I think "2nd Grade."

Also in 2nd Grade: The first boyfriend. He was one of the kids who was there for only a few months, and my god, to this day he remains etched in my mind as the most handsome specimen I have ever seen. His name was Rick, and he had this fabulous long, curly hair with an Eric Estrada grin (OK, again, reminding you of the Era!). I remember one day we were playing one of those ridiculous games where you have a bag full of old clothes and your job was to do the relay thing where you rush to the bag, put on all the clothes in the bag, rush to the other side where you had to take OFF the clothes and your partner would put them on and run back again to the other side. I hate those kinds of games to this day-I didn't like the pressure, and wasn't very good at it-but this day he was my partner and hey, we kicked some second grade ass. And at the end? He winked at me, and I swooned. I think we even went so far as to hold hands at one point, but then alas, he moved again, never to be seen again.

Tasha was the first black girl I had ever seen; I think she was the only black person in the class, actually, so we all thought she was very exotic. I remember that her hair was always perfectly braided, not a single one of those fuzzy little hairs escaping, and she has the whitest teeth I had ever seen on a person. I also realized then what being "racist" really meant, and that my parents WERE. I was not allowed to play with her outside of school, and I never could really understand why; in my mind, she was just another little girl. I loved her; she was pretty and funny and so, so beautiful; I sincerely hope that there were other parents then who weren't as awful as mine were-otherwise, I would think she led a very lonely life, and that makes me feel sad for her even now.

One of the most important things about 2nd grade, though, was that it was where I learned to love writing; we had an assignment to write a story, and I really got into it. I thought it was so cool that I could actually make things up (i.e. lie!) and get away with it! that I went off the deep end a little bit. I mean, like I wrote a new chapter to this story every week, even going so far as to send them in little installments to one of my grandmothers. I think this particular obsession is what damned me to nerd-dom the rest of my life, but it was a label I have always secretly liked. I found something powerful in the act of writing, which has been both a blessing and a burden my entire life.

Funny, I don't really remember much about school after that, at least not until I was much older. That year, though, is etched into my mind in the smells of chalk and paste, the taste of markers that would work better if you touched them to the tip of your tongue. It was a year of hot lunch spaghetti and being a tree in the class play, of finding out that friendships come and go and it doesn't kill you, of discovering something about yourself to believe in and allow to flourish. It was about having a grown-up see something special in you and having the ability to help you see it in yourself as well. I would like to say that I wish ALL of my school years had been like that, but really, I think I am content enough with the one year where it was a beginning of everything for me.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Stop the Ride

I got a phone call here at the office a little while ago from a client who had a few questions; I answered here questions, and then she went on to say, "I have one more question that has nothing to do with my insurance," and I just got that sinking feeling in my stomach-and before she could even ASK the question, I said, "Yes, I am so-and-so's ex-wife." Sure enough, that was exactly what she was going to ask me. How did I KNOW that? I am not sure, as I certainly don't believe I have any special powers of precognition or anything like that, but still, I knew.

There ensued a too-long conversation about the ex, what he has been doing and where he is at now, and it left me with a headache and a sour stomach. I was so excited last month because I had a line on where he was living, which meant that maybe, if he stayed there for any length of time, I could get Child Support Services back on his tail; and I did let CSS know where he was, but of course the wheels of "justice" are slow, and they were not able to serve him with paperwork before he upped and moved again. This time to another state, but not the one he was living in before he moved back to Idaho the last time, which further complicates things. I just feel so hopeless and despairing that anything will EVER be done to him, which in the lexicon of a toddler throwing a tantrum, is just "NOT FUCKING FAIR." You would think I would know that by now; this battle has been going on now for years, and you would think that I would totally get the fact that his rights and responsibilities are both greater and smaller-he has far greater rights than I, as a single mother, do, and his responsibilities are far less. Still, it is frustrating and disheartening, and I just want to lay down and cry.

As if that weren't enough, when he packed up and moved, he also loaded up a "borrowed" vehicle full of someone else's drugs, which means he has a couple of pissed off dealers after him, and this is where the headache and sour stomach comes in. See, we have been here before; we have dealt with the middle-of-the-night phone calls from angry, violent men looking for him-even though he was my ex. We have been through the weeks of having the house under police surveillance 24/7 for our protection. I have been through the sleepless nights wondering whether or not the little noise outside the house was, in fact, the neighbor's dog having gotten loose or whether it was someone who might bust into the house looking for the ex, the money, or the drugs.

I thought we were safe; I thought that was all over and done with, and while I bitch and vent and cry (for both practical and emotional reasons) about his lack of responsibility, I would rather feel safe than have his fucking child support-hands down. It would be great in a perfect or even okay world if I had both, but now I have neither. I would like to think that the dealers know that threatening or actually harming me nor my children isn't going to make any difference to the ex; it isn't going to make him cough up any money, because he simply doesn't give a fuck. I would also like to think that if they watched me and my kids for one day, they would see that I have no extra money that I could have gotten from the ex-but. Yeah. Right. Because dealers are known far and wide for their great powers of perception and kind hearts. Mmm hmm.

So okay, this also seems insignificant but I hate the fact that someone I work with-one of my clients, no less-has made the connection between me and the ex. I have tried to keep it under wraps-when people come in and ask for my family tree (this is a small town, and since the last name is a common one, they want to find out how, in fact, I connect to so and so), I don't LIE, but I do say that I am not from around here and my ex-husband wasn't, either. I don't like to advertise the fact that he is such a loser and a criminal to boot, because whether it SHOULD matter or not, it DOES. It just makes me feel a little ill that now this person who trusts me to provide a service for her now knows this-because it is just a little leap ahead to think she might assume I am cut from the same bolt of cloth. I am not, my boss knows I am not (not only do we live in a small town, but we have a small office, so the basics are known), the big-ass Department of Insurance, after an extensive background check, also knows that I am not a criminal, but it still makes me feel unsettled and uncomfortable. I want to scream as loud as I can, "THERE IS A REASON WE ARE NOT STILL MARRIED!!!"

I guess my only consolation is that this woman-and while I know of her and her husband, I don't know them-knows the ex quite well, and some of his friends are HER friends, so maybe I shouldn't worry too much about what she think, right?

I am still just sick, though, that all of this shit is right there again. It brings up all sorts of unresolved issues, a lot of anger and fear and disgust, and I have been guilty of thinking, "Hm, if one of the dealers DOES track him down, maybe they will take him out and at least I would get Social Security for Sam!" Which would be heartbreaking in a lot of ways, but I also think it easier for a little boy to accept death rather than abandonment. I don't know. I try not to think that way, not because I really care about what happens to the shitfucker but because I don't want to fuck up my own Karma.

Sigh...I don't like this ride and I want to get off.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Busy Dad ROCKS

I have often been accused of being too militant about mom's rights-especially single moms-while not giving enough credit to those guys who do actually show up and be present in their children's lives. I have also been accused of being an inveterate man-hater, have been told, "If you are such a bitch, no wonder nobody wants to stay married to you!", and have struggled on a daily basis with the reality that most men, married or otherwise, are simply not the kind of active parents that kids need. I don't feel sorry for single dads who have gained custody of their children, because quite frankly, I don't get any sympathy or support for being solely responsible for my children, and until and unless we single parents have equal rights-to sympathy and understanding, to support and caring during this enormous undertaking called parenthood-then I don't want to hear your sad story. If you have a penis, you are almost automatically put on some mythical pedestal of Godhood when you have custody of your kids; by the same token, we single moms are denigrated in the media and in the workplace and in the playgroup. I freely admit to anyone that yes, I am bitter; yes, I am angry, and resoundingly, YES, I am a bitch.

That said, I want to point out this post by one of my all-time favorite bloggers, Jim Lin. Since I am pretty much cold and jaded when it comes to men and parenting, it is something of a miracle that I regularly read and love this blog, but I do. And today's post, in honor of The Amazing Fury (and as the mother of three boys, I really DO think he is amazing, and talented, and funny, and silly, and heartbreakingly lovely), brought goddamned tears to my eyes. You totally have to go read it-and don't skip a single word or the lovely photos that accompany it-to get how beautiful this really is.

Why do I love this blog so much, and why am I getting so emotional over some photos of the kid in honor of his birthday? Because this is a dad who wasn't planning on becoming a dad, yet stepped right the fuck up to the plate and started swinging. He took the ball and ran with it. Whatever sports analogy you want to use, this guy is doing it. Not only is he doing it, but he is doing it well. In a society where he had no one telling him what to do or how to handle a situation, in a world that tells men that when pregnancy happens, the woman is to blame (admit it, guys, this is SO true!), this great, strong man had the balls to say "Oh my god, fuck, shit, we got pregnant," and then, well, he learned how to deal.

That is one of the things I find the most amazing about Jim; because he deals. With the crazy, sad, funny things that happen to everyone, the things that are hard enough to handle being childless but are a million times harder when you have this little person hanging around the periphery, watching every move you make. It is hard enough to BE an adult, much less to try to show a child how to be one. I can't speak for Jim, or any other parent, but in my own life, there are days when I look at my kids and think, "Now, how is it that you are here and still alive and basically okay? Because I really suck at this parenting stuff." Yet here we go, getting up every morning and starting all over again, because to paraphrase Jim, we matter. What we do and who we are suddenly becomes so much more important, not for us but for our kids.

That is why I love the blog-because here is a man who knows how important it is for him to be a parent; he knows that it is a huge responsibility far beyond finances or showing up at home every night after dinner. He is, in short, a DAD, in the truest sense of the word. I wish more guys would read this blog and say hey, THAT is fucking awesome. I wish more kids had dad's like Fury does-and there is no doubt in my mind that if Jim and Lisa were to split up, Fury would still have a dad. THAT is what it is all about. What an honor, to be able to have the opportunity to witness the transformation from swinging single dude to manly dad; what a privilege to be able to say out loud "This is what being a father looks like."

Neither respect nor admiration for men come naturally to me for a variety of reasons, some legitimate and some maybe less so. However, and for whatever it is worth, Jim has earned both from me.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Beaner, A Navajo, a Cracker, and a Honky

Oh, boy, what a weekend. I tried to keep my eyes open for blog fodder, because I have a hard time pinpointing things about which to write. My reasoning is simple: my brain is so full of wildly varying and extremely intellectual thoughts about everything that is is a lesson in futility to try to pinpoint just one. Yeah, right, whatever. So here is a little bit of everything that went on at my house over the weekend.

Saturday: It was the day of Eli's birthday deal with his friends. Took the two little boys to their granny's house at 9:30, where I was greeted by a very surly and rude (to me) grandpa. Rude in the sense that he wasn't planning on letting me into the fucking house to say goodbye to my boys. NOT happening; I walked right past him into the house (and I am sure there will be repercussions later for that one) to say goodbye, then went home to call Owen's dad to cry about how hurt I was. I am such a pussy.

Off to pick up the one friend of E's who wasn't already at the house. The other two boys with us know me, so are well used to my, um, personality. Also, they have both inadvertently seen my tits (because Eli forgets to tell me that someone is there, and I inevitably walk out of the bathroom in my bra), which has created a bond. We got there, I was listening to Sarah Brightman sing Andrew Lloyd Webber (and April, I know you hate him but I love the music. So there!), and poor W. looked at the car full of boys, me, heard the music, and he never said a word for the next 1.5 hours. However, we stopped to let R. pee, and I decided I like W. See, we call R. the Beaner, J. the Navajo, E. is the Cracker, and finally, W. decided it would be okay to be the Honky. Only amongst teen aged boys are racial slurs an acceptable form of affection, and since all but W. adore me (or my tits), I also get to use them. Note: Do NOT walk into the convenience store and say out loud, "Damn it, you beaner, how long does it take to pee?" I got a few dirty looks, while R. laughed hysterically.

But THIS was really cool: We were all at the counter waiting to pay (soda and candy for them, cigarettes for me-because dude, a two hour car trip with four teen aged boys calls for something more than chewing gum!), and I was basically just herding them along and we were all laughing and chatting, and then I said, "Ok, boys, get out of here and get in the car," and the checkout lady was in something like awe. "Are all those handsome boys yours? They are so sweet!" "No," I told her, but I do have three more of my own at home," and she said, "You are so nice for someone who has four kids!" I thought it was cool, even though of course it is all an image. I am SO not nice that anyone who knows me would have heard that and busted up laughing.

Dropped the boys off at the place they were swimming, then went to have lunch with my sister and my niece and my sister's boyfriend. After we ate, we went to his house, where he was showing me all of these little projects he has going. He is a great guy; he and my sister ended up together over a year ago out of tragic circumstances for both of them. K. came home one day to find her things packed, having been kicked out of the house unbeknown st to her. J. woke up to a gunshot on a Sunday morning to fins his long-term girlfriend had killed herself in the spare room. So we all thought maybe it was a "Let's get each other through this" deal, but it seems to be growing into something far more real and positive; I am so happy for her. He is not odd in the sense of "Eeew, gross," but just-different, in a good way. At one point during the afternoon, he was strolling across the yard with a little dachshund (AKA Yappy Fucker; I HATE little dogs!) under one arm and a broom in the other, yet still managed to look manly. They are a good fit.

Sunday: Didn't do shit. It was almost 80 degrees here, so we just played and worked outside all day. I did have one moment of panic when I sent all the boys home and went out to the tent to get some of the blankets out. In the corner were three rolls of toilet paper, a bottle of lotion, and a slightly risque photo. I am hopefully correct in assuming that because the rolls of TP were still wrapped, they didn't actually go out and TP someones house; haven't gotten a call yet, so I think we are okay. The lotion and photo? I don't want to know. Really.

Good to be back at work. For those who have visited over the weekend in the hopes that I might have some wonderful words (yeah, right), I don't blog on weekends. No Internet at home(something about a twelve year old boy, some unsupervised time after school, and porn), so I have to wait until I get to work AND get a break in my day.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Flashback Friday-The Cat Called Bob

I know the animal thing has been SO done before, but thinking of the post for Flashback Friday(originated by the always lovely CableGirl), I got to thinking about this cat I had named Bob. My then-husband has pissed me off somehow (by breathing, maybe?)and to make up for it, found and brought home this enormous, scroungy, many thing called a cat. I am not the most warm-hearted, lovey person in the world, and if I lived in another country, I would have no problems raising cats for meat (even though I have two now), so why he thought this would be a good idea, I am not sure. But there he was, this huge, ugly tomcat weighing in at 27 (yes, I weighed him, on the scales the ex used to use to measure out his drugs, so it may have been off just a bit), and for some reason the beast fell in love with me. Like, to the point where I felt like I was being stalked, and was almost afraid to go to sleep at night because old Bob would kind of lurk over me and drool, rubbing his little tiny cat penis on the blanket. Eeeew...

So I thought I would get him fixed, thinking that at least then I would have to worry about any gross cat ejaculate on my blanket. Took him in, got him fixed, all was well until about two months LATER when one of his testicles grew back. Sure, sure, maybe the vet who had been practicing for 20 years made a mistake, but I am convinced that the fucker was just that special. For some reason, the fact that this guy loved me so much that he stubbornly grew back at least one testicle, well, it made me fall in love with him as well.

And then there was the fact that he hated my ex-husband; he (Bob) would do all of these very endearing things like jump up on the ex's lap and act like he was settling in, then dig his claws into his leg as deep as possible before leaping off and smirking. I never failed to laugh at this one, because the ex fell for it every time. "Oh, look," he would say, "Bob is deciding to like me!" Another great trick was to go sit down about four feet from the ex, lift his leg, and very nonchalantly lift his leg and lick-loudly-his one remaining testicle while starting at the ex. For some reason, C. hated this, so the more he would yell at the poor dear, the louder he would lick. you gotta love an animal with that kind of sadistic behavior, really.

We moved one time, and since I had the car full of kids, I told C. that he would be in charge of transporting Bob (Bob did not travel well, and my intentions were pure-I did not want him to scratch one of the kids in his angst). We got about halfway to the new house when I saw C. coming up behind me flashing his lights furiously. Pulled over, but could figure out why he was just sitting in the truck instead of getting out to tell me what was so urgent. Grumbling the whole while, I got out and walked over to his truck to find him with both hands gripped on the steering wheel and the cat on his shoulder-I could see Bob's claws gripping C. tightly, and could also smell the unmistakable stench of cat shit, where Bob had let loose all down C's back. God help me, but all I could do was laugh. I don't think C. spoke to me for the rest of the week, as if it were somehow my fault that the cat was afraid and did some nervous clawing and shitting.

And then there was the time the ex had knee surgery; he was on crutches, and we lived in this single wide trailer with a very narrow hallway, so if he was hobbling in to the bathroom, no one else could be in the hallway because there simply wasn't room. So one morning, early, I heard a resounding crash and rushed in to find C. blocking the hallway, on his face, with a huge bite mark on one of his ankles. He was screaming, "I am going to kill that fucking cat!" Apparently (and I am still sorry I missed this one), Bob had been laying in wait for him, and just as C. got past him, Bob bit his ankle (he even drew blood), then scurried just out of hitting distance before turning around to stare and lick his ball. God, I loved that cat.

We kept Bob for three more years, until I actually had to be a responsible parent and get rid of him due to Sam's allergies. I found a good home for him, and all of us except for C. cried when it was time to take him to his new place. He did give me one more great laugh, though, by puking all over the back seat of the car on the way to the new house. The ironic part about that was that at the last minute, we decided to take C.'s car instead of mine. Yep, good times, good times....

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

So I Lied-Shoot Me

I posted yesterday about having the best of both worlds, and for the most part that is totally true, but as life often does, things changed overnight. Owen, the toddler, is sick. Again. I noticed he was a little feverish last night before I headed to my meeting, so doped him up with some Motrin, and when I got home he was sleeping like-well, like a baby. Which means restless and noisy and fretful, in my book. I am SO dragging ass this morning, because he was just a wreck all night, off and on. This morning? The Sweet Prince had blood and pus coming out of his ear (what the fuck is this with OOZING things at my house? Last week it was his penis, then it was his nose, and now it is his ear; I don't do well with things that ooze.)and was still feverish...

But since he isn't contagious, I had to take him to daycare this morning, which broke my heart; he is really just needing snuggled and loved and held by mommy. It must be a throwback to his 15 months of nursing (or maybe he just has the manly genes already out in full force, I don't know), but he really, really loves nothing more than to lay on my chest with on hand covering my left breast (though as a totally unrelated aside, I also really like my left breast; it is so much more user-friendly than my right one! Even a little perkier and, dare I say it, sexier?), and this morning, he just wanted to sit there and hold me as closely as I wanted to hold him. He cried when I left, which has maybe happened three or four times in the year he has been at this daycare, and as much as he loves Jacquie, he loves me more; it is so hard sometimes to have to harden my heart long enough to leave.

In the midst of all of this, it is my Eli's birthday today; a very masculine, lovely 14 years old this morning! Because of Owen not feeling well last night, I didn't have time to make the cake. I tried to convince him that it would be okay, just this once, for him to have a store-bought one, but no, it clearly isn't. I am counting my blessings because Jacquie, in addition to caring for my sick baby, is also running her daycare as usual, is also going to bake the cake for me today during nap time (which goes above and beyond the definition of friendship in my book!). At some point, between taking Owen to the doctor at 11:30 and scarfing down some lunch in order to be back at work by 1:00, I also have to go to the store and get the things for Eli's birthday dinner tonight. Last, I made arrangements over the weekend to go see a man about a dog, and tonight was the only night that worked for either of us. After work, then I have to go gather up all of the kids and drive out to bumfucked Egypt to see if we want this dog. Which today, seems like just one more responsibility in my already stretched thin life.

And you know what else? I am lonely today; I want nothing more than to get through the day (and I will, and we will have fun when it is all said and done; it all depends on my attitude, and after I post this, I am going to work on changing the way I am thinking at this point in time) and put the kids to bed and lay on the couch with someone who loves me. I want, for one one night, to be cherished and cared for and nurtured. Now, I am all about self-nurturing, and I try to do that on a regular basis. I know well that I am better off alone than with a man who is not worthy of my considerable love. I know all of that. I am not, in a general sense, at all unhappy with where my life is today. But every once in awhile, I am so strongly reminded of what and whom I thought I had, before he made the choices he made, and it hurts. I hate feeling like this, but at the same time I know that the only way to get through it is, simply put, to get through it. Can't get to the other side until you walk through the shit first.

God. It feels like death sometimes, that things can be so suddenly changed, literally overnight, and that it takes so long sometimes to accept that hey, life happens, and I am strong and can do everything that needs done today, and that tomorrow is another day...all of that, all of this emotion and pain and feeling torn, and I have only had one cup of coffee. Looks to be a long day.....

Monday, April 7, 2008

TGIM-The Best of Both Worlds

I love Mondays; I know I am going to receive public censure for actually saying this out loud and in so public a venue, but I so not have it in me to be a SAHM. I have done it, and did well at it, but after my divorce 5 years ago, I was forced back into the workforce and a whole new vista opened up to me. We aren't talking about getting a job at my local McDonald's (not that there is anything wrong with that, you understand, and a lot right-I mean, they get benefits!), but a real job. An 8-5, M-F job-which, with four kids, I really need. I need to be home on weekends and in the evenings. Anyway, I digress. I have a job that I actually love, and I really think I would go crazy if I were in a position to stay home with the kids. All but one are in school, which I will be the first to admit makes a difference; if I had three or four younger than kindergarten, I might feel differently. But as it is, with just the toddler at home, I would go fucking nuts.

That said, I will also go on to say that we had a most excellent weekend. My older two were both gone for the weekend-because, of course, they are teens, and ANY house is better than theirs-so it was just the 8 year old and the 2 year old and myself, and it was actually quite lovely. I can't say that we did anything especially exciting, but it was still a nice change. Quiet, for one thing-relatively speaking, of course, but no older siblings with which to fight, no arguments between the two oldest, just-quiet. Usually, by Sunday night, I am going so crazy that it is a relief to know that I get to go to work on Monday morning, but not so this morning. Instead, even knowing that within a few hours I would be going nuts, it was hard to say goodbye to Owen at daycare, and also hard to let go of that brief moment in time where everything was just right. I get these moments, sometimes days, where everything seems okay, even GOOD, and it is so hard to just enjoy them while they last, take every possible second of joy and peace and love, and make it my own. And when I DO manage to do that, well, everything just feels so much better, brighter.

And the funny thing is, we didn't do anything special; it was just a normal weekend, filled with normal weekend activities. It was fairly warm and windy, though, so I got to hang clothes outside on the line to dry, and we were also able to do some yard work. Owen has a little wheelbarrow and rake set, so he and Sam "helped' me rake leaves and clean up the yard, or at least start on it. On Sunday morning, I had a bit of a problem with Steve, Owen's dad, but even that felt like it will work itself out without my help. I got to make pumpkin bread and some cookies, and even put in a chicken to bake. When Hannah and Eli got home, they were both in good moods, glad to be home, and even (gasp!) willingly went outside and played with the little boys. We all ate in the living room (bad, yeah, whatever) while we watched "Sweeney Todd," though Sam had to close his eyes a lot of the time. Baths and bedtimes for the two little ones while the two big ones cleaned up the dinner dishes and the kitchen, and then quite suddenly it was time for ME to go to bed.

Still and all, it is always a relief to get back to work. I love my kids beyond all reason, but I am self-aware enough to know that I am a much better mom when I get to go outside the home and be an adult. I might feel differently if I had a husband or partner; I mean, it IS hard to be a single parent, and that in part is why it is so important for me to be someone besides just a mom. I don't think I would feel differently, though. And the feelings of needing to talk to adults and be "Kori" instead of "mom" are universal to EVERY mother I know, whether she stays at home or NOT (though, okay, insert your own name where mine is, right?). There are days when I am really torn between needing/wanting to be home with my kids and HAVING to go to work in order to provide for them. When O. isn't feeling well, I have to weigh the options carefully; yes, I know that even if he isn't ILL, sometimes he needs his mommy, and those are the days when I wish I had the option of staying home with him because he needs me. As it is, my need to provide financially 100% of the time is just as important. When push comes to shove, obviously the kids take first priority, but it isn't always an easy decision.

So I got everyone off to school and daycare and myself to work, on time, and immediately became immersed in my job. I love what I do, I love the person it has taught me I can become, and I love he fact that at 5:00 tonight, I am going to put down whatever I am working on, leave it on my desk, and go home to be a mom. I really and truly have the best of both worlds.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Flashback Friday-Religious Conversion

Again, thanks to CableGirl for coming up with the Friday Flashback deal; I am actually having a lot of fun with it, because it gives me a focus-not always an easy thing for me. I mean, I know I have a lot of things about which to talk, also that I am brilliant-but a lot of the time I have difficulty with narrowing the thoughts and feelings down to one particular subject. This has been a great tool for me, and I would encourage all of you to go check out her posts and follow the links to get your cool little Flashback Friday button!

So. As I posted about yesterday, I a have been/am engaged in a fascinating discussion about Atheism vs Religion over on Possummomma 's blog. I have "met" some pretty great people over there, and have been forced to think outside the box a little bit more on this one. That is a good thing; one of my biggest joys is that I get to meet a lot of people from different walks of life, different beliefs, different lifestyles, and they encourage me to stop and think about things. How powerful that is! So this conversation has led me to really explore my own beliefs, and to talk about when or how or why I got to where I am, believing the things that I do.

When I was a kid, we were dragged to church every Sunday without fail. My mom and step dad were very, very active in church, taking part in the choir and running the Youth Program and teaching Sunday School-the works. Which sounds good and wonderful and very Leave-it-to-Beaverish, but I sensed early on that it was just a lie, a cover up. The things that went on in our home were so terrible and unimaginable that it was so hard to reconcile the the thiings my parents talked about at church with the reality of our lives. As a result, I chose to stop going to church or believing in God as soon as I was allowed to have a choice-which actually didn't happen until after I left home. So I was one of those people who thought, "If this is God, then no thanks," which is NOT Atheism.

Blah blah, years went by, and two marriages and a lot of drinking and fucking people whose names I didn't know, along with lying and stealing and pretty much going against everything I knew was right; not from any religious standpoint at all, but from a common-decency standpoint. And not only did I not go to church regularly (I did do the Easter/Christmas deal, to make granny happy), I never even THOUGHT about God. It-he-just was not something I was at all interested in. Still, on some level I still believed, because even now, I am not denying that he was there, just that I didn't give a shit.

But I got sober, and I started to change. The things I do are based on spirituality, not religion, and I listened to people talk-people who were even further down the scale than I was, and they started to make sense. Not only did they not drink, but they were good and kind and loving and were happy. Happiness-what a novel concept! Inner peace: totally far beyond the scope of my imagination. I wanted it; I wanted to feel the way they did about life, about themselves. I wanted to not have to drink anymore, or to try to hide the pain and sadness and grief by using alcohol or sex or food or drugs. So I decided to keep an open mind to the possibility that maybe the God I grew up being taught about was not, in fact, what he was really about. I tried to keep my mind open to the idea that there is someone out there who cares about me unconditionally.

I didn't really believe, though, until some really, really bad stuff happened with my the soon-to-be-ex husband; I didn't have anyone to turn to for help, I had no one to lean on, and people in my groups kept telling me to give it to God. But not in the holier-than-thou attitude of "Just pray and it will all be fine," which to this day pisses me off, but in the "Get off your ass, do the work, and pray for the strength and willingness to live a good life in spite of this. Don't pray for God to miraculously win the lottery and solve your problems (though like a selfish child, I have often thought that if he really loved me, that would happen),because that is YOUR job. And if you do this? Things will change." And you know, they did. I started praying, and doing the work. I started to bitch and moan to god because he was the only one who had the patience and willingness to listen to me complain about the same things, over and over, and in doing so I found that He was there. Still requiring me to do the right thing, still forcing me to deal with life on life's terms, still expecting me to be a kind person and do the right thing. And I hated that about him, and sometimes still do, because by nature I am lazy; I want it to be easy! I don't want to have to work at anything! I want what I want, when I want it, with no visible effort on my part. Again, selfish child comes to mind...

I don't have any explanations; I will be, as I have said, the first to admit that there is nothing rational about believing the things I do. Even now, sometimes, I think, "Oh my god, you idiot, this is just all one crazy-ass freak show!" That very well may be the case, I don't know. I may die and find out I was wrong. I don't have any reasonable explanation, I don't have scientific evidence, all I have is faith. My God doesn't look like your God, for sure. But it is what works for me; my faith, my spirituality, my belief in God as the cosmic Big Brother is not something I can explain with logic or coherence or even and sense of rationality. I is there, and it is real to me; that is enough.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Choice or Feeling?

I have been blog hopping a little bit this morning, and came across this great discussion going on over at Possummomma. The topic is about religion vs atheism, with one particular Christian getting pretty overboard about what he/she thinks is right. I commented about how this person is a huge part of why people choose not to believe in God. Innocuous enough, but it apparently touched a cord with someone. I think this person wrote something back about how what you believe isn't a choice. I am all for freedom of thought, belief, whatever, so this comment didn't bother me in the least. Neither does the fact that the awesome possummomma is an Atheist. I frankly don't care one way or another.

But this has made me think, which is awesome (so thank you for that, knobby!). Not so much the original post (though it did as well), but that comment. Really, why is it that what a person believes isn't a choice? I don't get this, I really don't. I guess because I believe that our lives are made up of choices-from what to wear in the morning to what we want our kids to learn about life to whom or what we believe or don't believe in. I believe in God, but that is my choice. The feelings follow: the feeling for me of having this person kind of hanging out and watching over me and helping me along. I have likened my relationship with God to that of an older brother (minus the pestering and hair pulling, but on the bad days, it feels like that, too)-you know, he is kind of lurking in the background, watching over me to make sure the bullies don't kick the entire shit out of me, just half, and there to pick me up when I inevitably fall on my ass and need some help and guidance. He will also sit back and let me do the things I thing I need to do in order to live and love and be happy-and when I learn what doesn't work, He is there to nudge me in the right direction. So sure, I feel His presence on a daily basis, but I have made the decision to believe. By the same token, and for whatever each person's reasons are, some people choose NOT to believe. Or they used to believe and now don't. Or they never even entertained the thought and are happy about that.

And religion (which I don't particularly espouse, actually)-or shall I say spirituality-is only a small part of it. I just think that how we feel about almost anything is a choice. Except, maybe, whether we like a certain food, because no matter how you wrap it up in bacon or add gourmet spices, meatloaf is still meatloaf to me and I don't think there is a choice in that one. Take love-is it a feeling or a choice? Yeah, sure, I believe in the heart going pitter patter and the stomach turning to mush, but is that lust or is that love? And once all of that is gone and you are left with the companionable guy (or gal) with the pot belly and the wrinkly face, how much of it is love and how much of it is a choice? An action? I don't know, really, not having been able to sustain a meaningful relationship for any length of time, but that is my theory. There is scientific evidence that there is no God. There is also scientific evidence that love is not a real emotion, it is just a biological occurrence designed to propagate the species, but despite evidence to the contrary, people-millions of them-still choose to take the chance that it is a real emotion. There you go: choose to believe.

You know, I am not trying to get into a huge religious debate. You aren't going to change MY mind any more than I am going to change yours. Because I don't WANT to. I don't care what you believe, as long as it doesn't involve hurting other people. I am interested more in how other people think about the whole choice vs feeling issue. Plus I find the way other people's minds works fascinating. I went back into possummomma's post to read the comments, and one person gave me a lengthy, well-thought out an written explanation for why the atheists feel the way they do. I already knew everything she was saying (knew as in am already aware, LOL, not that I KNOW. I am no expert by any means!), but I completely respect her for a) expressing her beliefs in a totally non-confrontational way and b) choosing to NOT castigate me for the things I choose to believe. How cool is that?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My Own 7 Things

I am so grateful for both April and CableGirl, because if it were not for either of them, I don't think I would have anything to blog about in recent days. CableGirl is the Flashback Friday gal, which always provides some inspiration, and April? Well, today she kind of generically tagged people, and I chose to make it a specific tag to me. She did the "7 Things" meme, and I thought okay, surely I can find SEVEN things about myself to write about.

1. I am petty and childish at times. Today? The dumb boy in my office? He got in trouble. And man, that was good; it was "the first sip out of an ice-cold beer after mowing a lawn on a hot day" good. I am still on a high about it. See, he is ten years younger than me, had to take the state licensing exam around the same time I did, and failed it. Twice. Yet he got hired on making more than I do (and I have been here almost 4 years), as well as gets 5% more commission. All that would be okay IF he was bringing a lot of business to the table, but he just isn't. Near as we can tell, he spends a lot of time looking at risque photos on the computer instead of selling. And when he DOES sell something, well, let's just say that even after having been here for going on two years, he still doesn't know what the fuck he is doing. On top of all of that-which is reason enough to be annoying as hell, he calls taking care of his kids on the nights his wife has to work "babysitting." Now, my boss knows that I personally don't like the kid, for a variety of reasons, and since I am not the most tactful person in the world, well, let's just say I have had to learn to just shut the fuck up or risk getting myself into trouble. but today? The one NICE woman in the office actually got annoyed enough to talk to the boss about it. And there was a conference between the boss and the kid, complete with closed doors and raised voices. Man, I am SO loving this!

2. I have a small cut on my right wrist, about an inch long but very thin, like a paper cut. This I got while staying home with an ill toddler yesterday (he has a really disgustingly oozing penis, poor little guy!) and having to stick my arm up to said wrist into the toilet to retrieve a piece of sidewalk chalk that the little darling had decided he needed to flush down. You know, the cute little egg shaped ones that Crayola put out for Easter, so it wasn't as if it was small enough to just dissolve. That is no big deal; what makes me both cringe and laugh is that I got it out before it got TOO wet and thought, "Hey! This will dry out and be juuust fine." Clearly I have turned into my own mother at some point in my life. Kill me now.

3. There is no noise I hate more than the sound of someone chewing with their mouth open. This is to the point where I cannot be in the same room with the kids when they are eating anything even remotely chewy or crunchy or, well, basically anything. This has also led to tears and those awful "bad mom" moments where I tell the kids if I hear them chew one more time I am going to tape their fucking mouth shut and they can drink through a straw for the rest of their lives.

4. I don't eat out alone. I am not afraid to go other places alone, like shopping or to the bookstore or Starbucks alone, but eating out? In a restaurant? Can't do it. I CAN go through a drive-thru alone, I can also order a meal to be picked up and taken home to eat, but cannot force myself to go into a place and sit at a table by myself.

5.I love to go to the dentist and have my teeth cleaned. Not only do I love the way my mouth feels afterward, I also love the fact that there are TVs on the ceiling. We don't watch TV at our house, so I love to go to the dentist to be able to watch TV for half an hour without explaining to the kids why it is totally okay for ME to watch it, just not them. And I am such a nerd that I actually loved The Price is Right when it was on...

6.I am currently totally obsessed with my own ass. I recently went on this diet called "The Boyfriend Dumped Me and The Ex Stole All My Money," which I wouldn't recommend in terms of silly little things like, oh, health and mental stability, but you know, my ass sure does look good these days.

7. I had a long cry at lunch today, then came back to work with a whole new attitude. All in all, my life is pretty freaking good.