Friday, May 30, 2008

Flashback Friday-The Daughter's Accident


Another episode of Flashback Friday, brought to you by the lovely CableGirl over at 42. Go check it out; always worth it. In fact, go ahead and put her in your reader while you're at it.

As hard as this might seem to some of you, I really don't have a topic for Flashback Friday today; too many other things going through my head to get the words to string together into a coherent sentence. Therefore, you get another photo post. After all, Cablegirl said we could use any medium...

And yes, folks, this would be why The Daughter will never drive again.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pimping on the Blog

Pimping April here: she is going to be doing this thing called Blog For Educationon June 20th. Go check out her page and tell her you want to be part of it. I think it is a great idea, and would love to see every one of "us" blog about it. I am not going to get into any kind of political discussion about educational funding other than to say George W. sucks ass and I place the decline in our educational system directly at his feet. But I know that something has to change, something has to be done, and since I have no great ideas of my own, I am happy to jump on the bandwagon for this one.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Random Craziness Today

Just a few little random snippets today. As you can see, I now have an AWARD over to the right. April sent it over to me via email quite some time ago, but I didn't remember until today when I saw her gratuitously handing out the award right and left. To everyone but me. So when I pissed and moaned to her, she set me straight and reminded me that I did, in fact, get the award, from her, and I should just, you know, POST IT ALREADY. Instead of letting it languish in my saved items folder. Which is where it had been gathering virtual dust for several months now. Yeah. I am so together.

And boy, my little mantras haven't been working well today when it comes to things getting dicey in my head. I have been having trouble with three different blogs not "getting" my comments; I would post, and they would just disappear. So I was somehow sure that all three of these women whom I love to read were getting together behind my back and had decided to blackball me from commenting. You know, because that makes so much sense. Again, April set me straight there, too, by telling me to just email them and let them know. Hm. Novel idea.

So. I have been messing around with my play list today, and I only have a few more songs to add before I get all 100 on there; I don't HAVE to have that many, but I somehow like the number. I have also been debating about whether or not to update my blog roll; I have seen a few others do it, and when I look at my reader and then the list, I realize that they are not, in fact, the same. Guess I should get going on that. Not because I care, mind you, but I know that somewhere there is ONE OTHER PERSON who is as fucked up as I am and will look at my list and think, "hm, I wonder why I am not on there?"

Fess up. You know it's true; there are others like me out there.

And last, a huge thank you goes out to BusyDad; apparently I won a Snapfish gift card for commenting on his Mother's Day post. He emailed me to let me know I won, and I guess he mailed it right after he got the address because I got it yesterday. That is some good service, and I am thrilled to have won. I love Snapfish, too, use them all of the time, so even better.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Losing-or Relinquishing-Control

"Expect nothing. Hope for everything."
I have these two meditation books (as in reading and reflecting type "meditation," not "ohm, ohm" meditation; I would so suck at that!) which I read every morning, one for AA and one for Adult Children of Alcoholics. Sometimes I read them and think, yeah, okay, whatever, but last week I read one of them and there was the above quote. It hit me; I am not sure why, but it did. And along with my little six-word-meme mantra I have been repeating to myself, it has been bouncing around in my head for the whole of the weekend.

Okay, Jesus, let's be honest here. Sorry, I reverted to old bad habits there for a second, in an attempt to make myself appear more together than I actually AM. I know EXACTLY why that hit me so hard: because I have such high and unrealistic expectations of people that it has really caused me problems in the past. In my relationships, in my friendships, in my dealings with the kids...the list goes on. And for me, a natural consequence of having such high expectations (and I have them of myself, too, I might add) is that of course people can never live up to them, which in turned reinforces my very basic belief that 99% of the people in the world suck, will let you down, will hurt you. Can't be relied up whatsoever. It ALSO doesn't help that there have been a goodly number of people-starting from infancy-who have also reinforced that very basic belief. I have been in therapy, I know the reasons for why I am the way I am, but sometimes knowing the problem doesn't really offer a way to solve it. And for me, in my life, what this boils down to is control. Having such high expectations of people is just another way to try to control them, to manipulate them into doing what I want them to do/say/feel. Again, I know why I feel the need to control, it just isn't as easy to actually give that up.

And the second part of that quote, the "hope for everything" part? Oh, yeah, because THAT is so much easier than letting go of expectations and control. Puh-leeze! See, for me, hope is a dangerous emotion-it feels very scary to me to have hope, because so often, in so many ways, it has come back to bite me in the ass. I have hoped and prayed for-well, for lots of things, and then when it doesn't happen-or more importantly, doesn't happen the way I think it should, well, doesn't that just more strongly reinforce my negative view of life and people? Yeah, I think it does.

So I have been chanting my two little mantras all through the long weekend, and you know, it is helping. Every time I found myself getting annoyed or hurt or angry with someone, I took an extra few seconds to chant these things to myself, and found that so much of my angst and panic has to do with things not going the way I expect them to, not that anyone had actually done anything wrong, per se. Well, I guess I knew this, really, but it has just been more present an issue lately, one I am making a conscious effort to work on.
And already, I have noticed a difference in the way I feel-and isn't that what it is all about, how I feel? Because when I feel good and strong and calm, EVERYONE in my life feels better. When I feel sane, the house runs more smoothly, there is less conflict between the kids, and I am much more able to take things in stride. On Saturday, there was an incident with Steve where he wasn't doing what I had expected him to do, and for a moment, I got pissed-but then I said my little mantra and lo and behold, I was no longer angry. Then yesterday, I had gotten up and chanted this again a few dozen times, and when Steve showed up with two tomato plants-complete with the wire cages and the food stakes, I was able to be totally and completely thrilled because he did it because he wanted to, not because I expected it of him. By the same token, last night he felt free enough to invite me and the two big boys to the movies (Indiana Jones-and I don't care how old he is, Harrison Ford still gives me a tingle!), because I no longer expect anything of him. It just makes me feel so much better, and Steve and the kids are all already reacting in a positive way. And here is the really, really big thing: I am not doing this for them. It is a definite bonus, of course, but I am so tired of feeling crazy and emotional and out of control; I have to do this for me.

I have no illusions. I know that this is no cure-all, magic trick to fix all of the problems in my life. I know that this-the letting go of control over people, places, or things-is something that I know how to do; I lost sight of in the midst of the seemingly overwhelming problems going on, but it is time to go back. To work harder at doing the things I need to do to stay even slightly sane, because if I am no good to myself, if I feel like this all of the time, then everyone in my life suffers.

Yeah. I think it is going to be a good day today. Because I am not in charge of anyone today save myself. I am expecting nothing from anyone, but oh, hoping. It feels scary, and huge, and...right.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Six Word Meme

Before I say anything else, I want to say that I absolutely love this whole "scheduled post" option that Blogger now offers. It completely rocks.

So now. Quite some time ago, April tagged me for a six word meme. Six. Words. I have to tell you, April, that I have not been ignoring you, but six words? Please. When have you ever known me to stop at six words when describing anything, much less myself? So all this time, when you thought I was ignoring you or had forgotten, this little challenge has been floating around in the back of my head, popping up at these very odd moments. I would think I had something just perfect, but then alas, too many words by one, or not enough...I don't know, panache? Something, I don't know. But I couldn't think in terms of six.

Last night, though, after yet one more incident involving panic and insecurity, one of those times where I was just sure that I can never measure up and that this is my life, it hit me. And I let it go, really, thinking "Okay, well, if I still remember it tomorrow, maybe..."

This morning? Yep. Still there. Loud and clear. It describes me right this moment, and it also destined to become my personal mantra when things start getting dicey in my head again.

"Competition over... I am perfect enough."

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Music Hath Charms...

I have been messing around with figuring out how to embed a playlist on the blog, and as you can see, I now have two; one on the side bar, one at the very bottom. I actually came in to the office on a weekend in order to mess around with them, going through all sorts of songs and picking out which ones just HAVE to be included...and the list keeps growing. I have a specific memory or, perhaps more importantly, feeling associated with every single song on my list, which has been a little bit scary. I know that certain smells can trigger the same feeling, and I know that songs can as well, for everyone; I am not unique in that respect. However, in going through all of this, I have been almost assaulted with memories and feelings, and it is almost sensory overload.

To pinpoint a few: The Pixies. You guys remember them? The one song, "Here Comes Your Man" was on the first album by them that I ever heard. It was given to me by my friend J. (of the horny bear fame, you can see an earlier post if you don't know the story), handed over in our French class, and I went home and heard this song. Alone in my room, I listened to it, and felt, in that young teenaged naivete, that somehow J. was trying to tell me something. I cringe as I think about it now, but that is how it felt then.

There there is Exile; "I Want to Kiss You All Over." I lived on the Air Force Academy, second grade, and this song used to come on every single morning on our way to school. It was the first time I ever "got" that it was a slightly naughty song. There is a smell associated with this one, too: little yellow flowers that smell like cinnamon, wafting through the open windows of the car.

Tool: "The Pot" I love the bass. I saw this group in concert in December and I was totally floored. You need a really good stereo system, with a lot of bass, to get the full effect, but just listen. If you are AT ALL a music aficionado, you have to at least appreciate the talent, if not love the music. For me, it is both. At the concert, which was the most awe-inspiring event I have been to, I felt the music in my bones. This song in particular. And then Steve and I went to Taco Bell at midnight, went back to the hotel and ate and had excellent sex. All part of the memory.

I could go through every song on the list and have something to tell you about them, but I won't do that to you. What I AM going to do is ask you to go through. Pick one song to listen to. Just one, on either list, and then tell me what you think. Each one of them will tell you more about me than any meme would, or ten posts. Come on-it'll be fun.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Tip of The Iceberg

One of my new favorite blogs is note to self... and the ever-lovely, terribly knocked up Jillian tagged me for this meme; she titled hers "More Than You Wanted to Know," but since I clearly have far more inflated (and, I am sure, far less reason to have one) ego than she does, well, you saw the title. I am an enigma, a mystery, a delusional...'nuff said.

What I was Doing Ten Years Ago: Let's see. 1998. Ten years ago I was still drinking perhaps more than was good for me, so I would imagine that whatever it was, it had something to do with alcohol. I was also married to Husband Number Two, who was using drugs perhaps more than was good for HIM. We worked on a ranch, and I also worked as a Ward Clerk/CNA for the local hospital, plus had a part-time job tending bar. Hannah and Eli were 5 and 4 respectively, just turning into little people instead of toddlers. Hannah started Kindergarten, but Eli started off his educational career by being too smart for pre-school. That was the year I got pregnant after 13 months of trying-Clomid helped out. Ten years ago I will still naive enough to think that if I loved my husband enough, he would get better, still naive enough to believe that life would work out just because I wanted it to, as if sheer will were enough.

Five Snacks I enjoy:

2. BBQ Corn Nuts
3. Peanut M & M's
4. Mint Three Musketeers
5. Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Gingersnaps

Five Things on My To Do List Today:

1.Take a shower.
2.Change out of my pajamas.
3.Go buy smokes.

Come on, on a Saturday of a three day weekend? Please!

Five Things I Would Do If I Were a Billionaire:

1.Buy April a house.
2.Buy myself a house.
3.Set up my Jones-McCaffery Foundation for Single Mothers, which would provide help for, you got it, single moms. There would be a lengthy application process, because even though I would WANT to, I wouldn't be able to help every single one, and I would also have to weed out the freaks. And I would pick maybe ten per year, but each "award" would be different based on that particular individual's needs.
4.Oh, God, luxury: Buy a freezer and totally fill it with food. TOTALLY. And as part of that, I would throw away-not even donate but flat CHUCK-every single package of Top Ramen and Macaroni and Cheese. Never again.
5.And then I would go buy this picture from Anna over at Borderline Bonkers, or beg her to paint a similar one.

Five Jobs I Have Had:

2. Calf Feeder at a dairy
3. Bartender
4. Greens keeper at a golf course
5. Insurance Agent (current).

Five of My Bad Habits:

1. I take everything personally; in a bad mood? Surely must be my fault. Don't comment on my new shirt? It must be ugly. Don't call me when you say you are going to? You are a bitch. It's all about me, in a bad way. 2.Like Jillian, I also bite my nails compulsively. To the quick. I don't bite the skin, though, just the nails, to the quick.
3. I have recently discovered that I can be very vindictive. Threaten or hurt my kids? You are so busted. I don't like this new discovery about myself, either.
4.I am capable of hurting people I love with my words. I have never physically abused my kids, but I have yelled to the point of a sore throat. I have also used my tongue as the sharpest weapon imaginable, and almost instantly regret it when I lose control.
5.I throw all my mail on the kitchen table, opened or not, and then get mad because the table is always covered up with papers and shit.

Five places I have lived:

1.Evanston, Wyoming
2. Colorado Springs, Colorado
3.Columbia, South Carolina
5. Here,Idaho

I am supposed to list five people I would like to get to know better, but I can't stand the pressure, really. So if you want to play along, please do; I would be honored!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Flashback Friday-The Red Boots

As usual, everyone else always has the good ideas. This one comes from CableGirl. Go check her out and add your name to the list. I love Flashback Friday!

Three years ago I bought a pair of red boots. Cowboy boots. It took me two years after actually seeing the boots before I bought them. My justification-and what I tell everyone in my real life-was that it took me that long to be able to save up the money to buy them, and that is partly true, but an even larger part of my reluctance to purchase the red boots was rooted in fear. I know, I know, afraid to buy red boots? What a freak! Still, strange or not, it was very real, very there.

See, I am not in any way a "country girl," nor am I a "cowgirl." I love horses, true, and would love to own one again someday, but I have no desire to suddenly become a barrel racer and wear Wranglers. I don't live on or near a farm, and though I used to work on a ranch and loved it, it was also just a job that put food on the table, not a calling by any means. In my mind, the wearing of red boots put me in this category of being a hick, of walking around with a straw in my mouth, spitting tobacco and scratching my ass in public and listening to, god, Willie fucking Nelson. So that was one reason I was afraid to buy the red boots, because I was afraid that overnight I would turn into the poor equivalent of, I don't know, Dolly Parton.

But in case any of you are particularly observant today, you will notice that the word red is continually highlighted, because that is the biggest reason it took me so long to actually buy the boots. Not just because they were cowboy boots, but because they were, you got it, RED. I am not the kind of person to wear red. In fact, until The Boots, I never actually owned anything red. Not a shirt, pair of socks, underwear, nothing. Not because I don't like red, but because it is such a bright color. It so...well, red.

I have spent the majority of my adult life simply trying to blend in. Not do or say anything that might be noticed, not to wear clothes that might make me stand out in any way. All of the clothes in my closet were brown, white, green, and blue-and not bright shades of those colors, but the most bland, soft permutations of them. Khakis for work, Levi's for home. That's it. I loved getting an office job because then I could pretty much wear the same thing every day and get away with it. I used to live my whole LIFE this way, just going along and trying to escape notice. There are a lot of reasons for this, which some of you know, and it is funny how things just stay with you as being a safe thing to do.

So these boots called to me, for two long years. Every time we were at the store in which I found them, I would stand there and look at them. Try them on. Carry them around the store with me just in case, you know, I might actually buy them. And then I would trudge back to the shelf and put them back, thinking, "Nope, not this time." This went on for, like I said, two years, until one day I just thought "Fuck it" and took them to the cash register with me. And paid. And took them home.

And then I didn't have anything to match the boots, so I had to get a red shirt. I wore them on a Friday Casual day, and I felt loud and conspicuous and just-not like me. But people noticed, and they complimented me, and I got through the day. So then I had to get a red sweater, because it was starting to get chilly, and I wore them to the grocery store. Nobody said anything, but I noticed I felt better. More alive. Almost, well, I'll go right ahead and say it, sexy. Which, like the whole cowgirl image, is not a feeling I would ever have ascribed to myself.

In the last three years, I have totally branched out. I wear orange now, and of course the red, and even some lime green and light blue. Not pastel blue, and you will still find that the only pink thing I own or will wear is a ratty old t-shirt that I used when I clean house, but my wardrobe has changed. Because I have changed. It isn't about being noticed or NOT being noticed, but about feeling comfortable with who I am, and wearing what I like. What I want to wear. I don't buy clothes very often, but when I do, I make sure I will not just wear it, but love it. I buy them because I like the way they make me feel, and it really doesn't matter so much how they look. And I know that the change wasn't brought about by the red boots; I know that the change is internal, that it is about finally deciding that life is too shirt to spend it shrinking into the background and trying to escape unnoticed. The red boots were simply an external manifestation of the major internal housecleaning I had been doing.

Today? Yep, wearing the boots. And a red sweater and some hip-huggers that are NOT, in fact, Levi's. I am also wearing all four earrings (two in each ear), and a silver ring. None of them are flashy-simple silver hoops, simple silver ring, but they are jewelry. They look good with the clothes, and with the slight tan I got last weekend. I am listening to the play list I created yesterday (and you can check out what I like by clicking on the little icon down at the bottom of the page), because it is music I LIKE. I ate oatmeal for breakfast again, not because it is healthy or filling or any of that crap, but because, again, I like it. And I am finding myself grateful again for the red boots. For me.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Owen!

Happy Birthday, Owen!

I want to say right up front that I was not in any way intending to have another child. It had not



I was DONE.

I looked like the above photo when I found out I was pregnant; sad, and scared, but far less cute. I cried. A lot. And tried to figure out how (simple biology aside) this had happened. I was on the pill. I wasn't in love with this guy, though I thought he was cute and we were friends and I wouldn't have minded hanging out with him and seeing what might happen. but then THIS happened, and everything changed. Overnight, I went from being the mother of three kids in school, which meant more freedom and more LOTS of things, to puking all day, to arguing with Steve about just whose fault it was.

It took me a long time to become resigned to the addition of a baby to our family. For personal reasons, abortion nor adoption were options, so what was left but to have him, and find a way to be happy? Even so, I went through a really hard time after he was born. I was diagnosed with post-partum depression after I couldn't stop crying; I would cry all the way to work, then suck it up until time to go pump my milk, and lock myself in the bathroom with the milking machine hooked up and cry again. It was all I could do to get out of bed in the mornings, and everything was just so HARD. Over time, with drugs and therapy and a lot of support, I got better, and I fell in love with him.

Our story-Steve and I's-is similar to BusyDad's, without the happy ending. We are not together now, which breaks my heart every day. I loved him then, I love him even more now, but there you go. Sometimes life just turns out that way, right?

Now? It isn't anybody's fault. I can love Owen with every particle of my heart, even though I am not supposed to love his dad. And I love this kid. I love his sweet face, and his laugh, and the happiness that he has brought to me and my family. I love all of the lessons being an older parent has taught me, and I love knowing that no matter how hard it is sometimes to be in this alone, this little guy deserves and needs to be here. He has added more to my life than I ever thought possible. He has brought out the good in me in ways that have benefited all of my kids; he has made me a better parent, a kinder person, a more enlightened human being. I am so blessed in him that words don't EVEN come close, so I will end by saying again, Happy Second Birthday; I am so grateful you are here!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Is it Wednesday?

To all of you who commented and were so supportive of my Sam and I yesterday: thank you, so much. Sam is okay today, although he has a bruised arm and a wee bit of whiplash, or something like it. His neck is quite sore, anyway, to where it hurts to turn his head too quickly. He had a hard time falling asleep last night, though, and an even harder time getting up this morning. The kid is afraid, for which I don't blame him in the least. So physically, he will be fine, nothing worse than one of his many bike wrecks. Emotionally, I think he is still shaken. I don't think he has ever really been hit by someone who was intent on hurting him (besides a sibling, of course), so he is still shocked. And afraid. He begged me to take him to school this morning instead of going to the bus stop with him to talk to The Boy about the incident. I acquiesced, only because I understand his fear and the awareness that it will just make the situation worse in some ways. School is out tomorrow, and with hope the problem will end here. I have, however, put the word out in my own little gangster way (well, not really, but I DO have friends!) that if I see anything like this happening again, whether the victim is my son or not, there will be hell to pay. I also left a message for his mom; we'll see what happens there. I don't have a lot of faith in that, to be honest. I had to call the parent of a girl who was harassing Hannah a few months back, and that was a lesson in futility. But maybe...

To the asshole who put the beer bottle underneath my tire: Thanks so much. My dryer is broken, and I was hoping to be able to get it fixed. Instead, I had to get a new tire. That is really, really thoughtful, and I hope you feel well-pleased with your juvenile behavior. You accomplished so much by pissing me off; really. You should be proud of yourself, that doing something like that makes you feel like your dick grew ten inches overnight. Just an FYI here: I don't have the drug money that my ex-husband took from you, nor do I have the drugs, and the last I heard, he lives somewhere in Nevada with the hooch who helped him steal your stash. Leave me and mine alone. Oh, and if you DO find him, please let him know that he owes me $16,000, will ya?

To the man who thought I was being nice when I stopped at the intersection and let him through: I wasn't being nice. You have your insurance with us, and I know how many accidents you have on your record. I am not nice, I am afraid. Really.

To the woman who cried with me last night: If I could make this better or easier for you, I would. I don't understand why you stay with him after what he has done, but I love you anyway. And I can't imagine being confronted with the physical evidence of his infidelity on a regular basis, but I do what it feels like to have been betrayed. I can't fix it for you, but I can maybe help you get through it. Also, thank you for being a person whom I could talk to and say, "I suck at being a single parent and I need some help." I did not know that about you, and I am glad for the opportunity to see you for who you are, not what your life looks like.

To Philip Morris and Juan Valdez: Thank you for cigarettes and coffee I wouldn't make it through my day without either of them, and frankly, I don't think I would want to try. Silly to wax rhapsodic over nicotine and caffeine, but there are few things in life better than the first cig and the first cup of coffee of the day; preferably taken together.

See, the thing is, if I don't laugh about some of this stuff, I will cry. Yesterday, we had a freak cloudburst, the rain falling in sheets and the gutters running over within moments, and I found myself NOT enjoying the way the air smelled, or the fresh, glittering look of the world, but instead thinking,"Well shit, the clothes I had on the line are going to have to be rewashed, and since the dryer is broke I can't hang more out tonight, and the laundry pile is getting out of control..." which is just insane. God is in the details, in the small things, and I have been focusing so much on the big things that I have been missing out. I am trying to change the attitude a little bit, make light of some of the things over which I have no control, be grateful for the love and support I get form people and also rejoice in the opportunity to do the same. So today is going to be as good a day as I can make it, and we'll see what happens.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

They Beat Up My Kid

See that kid in the picture above? That is my middle son, Sam. He just turned nine yesterday; I cannot believe he has been hanging around for nine whole years. He is the one who is the most attached to me, and always has been. He was born early, at 33 weeks, so the first few weeks and months of his life were crazy and chaotic and more than a little scary, and I count my blessings daily (or at least weekly) that he is okay. He has terrible asthma and requires pretty constant monitoring in that respect. Also, he is seriously underweight, weighing in at a whopping 51 pounds-all skin and bones-to the point where his doc is actually considering it a health issue rather than it being mostly genetic. I am not complaining; I will take it, because the problems that COULD have manifested themselves due to his early birth have not, and my God, it could be SO much worse than it is.

In addition, his dad is, well, to say it as nicely as I possibly can, gone. Not dead, just-gone. And hasn't been around in any meaningful way since Sam was a little tiny baby. So Sam has me, and I have him, and we are pretty close; for him, it has always been me who has been a constant in his life, more so than the other three because, well, they still have their dads, and however peripheral their presence might be, it is still something. Sam doesn't have that, and never has. This closeness can get pretty annoying at times, I will be the first to admit, because no matter how much I might TRY, I cannot make up for the lack of a father in his life. Nor can I lavish all of my time and attention on him when I have three other kids whom I love equally. I don't love him more than I do the others; with all four, there is some little thing that makes them special to me, more special than the other three, but in a different way.

So this morning-and for once I am grateful that I forgot something and had to go back home-I was driving back home to retrieve the Almighty Coffee Cup when I came upon this scene: the above little boy being held down on the ground in a headlock, with an arm twisted behind his back and a foot on his tiny little butt. Being beat up. By a teenager who is taller-much-and bigger-MUCH-than I. For a moment it didn't register; I see the kids at the bus stop every morning, and they are always horsing around and wrestling and pretty much just being rowdy kids. So at first-for a split second-I didn't really recognize what was going on. And when I did, I pulled over and stopped just as the school bus was pulling up to pick up the high-schoolers. I went to Sam who was very manfully trying to hold back tears and rubbing the back of his neck, and my heart broke. His whole shirt was covered with dirt-the new shorts he just got for his birthday yesterday torn in one spot and absolutely filthy, his face covered with dust and small bits of leaves and gravel and blood. He was rubbing his arm and trying desperately to look like he was okay, until he saw me and came running over, bursting into tears as he ran.

To say that I am angry is an understatement; I am furious, and sick, and afraid. Furious at the boy who thinks it is somehow okay to beat up a little boy. Furious at my oldest son who was AT the bus stop and watched and did nothing to stop this. Furious beyond belief that not one of the neighbors who peer out their windows regularly in order to find juicy gossip to spread about people surely saw this and did nothing. I am sick that the little boy who has already learned early on that life is damn harder than it should be just had that opinion reinforced. I don't doubt that Sam may have instigated it a little; he tends to have a smart mouth and a wee chip on his shoulder at times, but I cannot imagine him saying ANYTHING that warranted having the shit kicked out of him.

I am disgusted today, both sick and afraid for my kids because I cannot be there to protect them all of the time. I am disgusted that this older boy clearly feels powerless and angry and chooses to make himself feel bigger and better by beating up a small child. I am disgusted that this is where things have ended up, where we as a community will sit back and watch, but not do anything about it. I am also afraid that there isn't anything that I can really DO. For a variety of reasons too messy to go into here, I will not be going to the police, and I know that. I AM going to be at the bus stop with Sam tomorrow, and I plan on having a chat with this boy. I don't know what I hope to accomplish, I really don't, but it can't continue. What I would really LIKE to do is find me a group of big men who will help me beat the shit out of this kid; I would like to follow him home and kill his dog. I would really LIKE to do a lot of things, but I won't. Partly because I don't want to go to jail, of course, but also because I want to be part of the solution, not the problem. I don't believe in acting on the desire for retaliation; we all FEEL it, but to act on it just causes more hatred and violence in an already strife-ridden area. At the same time, I don't want my sweet little guy to be afraid and to get beat up.

I just don't see the sense in all of this. I don't see why things have to be the way they are today, where even in a town that looks small and safe and quiet, we have to worry about things like this. I don't see why we can't all find a way to become a community again, to care about what happens to everyone, not just those who look the same way we do. I don't understand how it has gotten to this point, and I understand even less what we need to do about it. I just know that we have to do SOMETHING.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Flashback Friday-My 17th Birthday

Come on. Be a joiner. You know how you always wanted to be part of a very cool, very hip clique? Now is your chance! Thanks to CableGirl for Flashback Friday and the opportunity to finally feel like I am one of the popular kids!

I know, the whole "High School Was Hell" thing is SO done, so I am not going to go into too much detail save that is was, in fact, HELL, and were it not for a handful of really great friends (so great, in fact, that I have no idea where they are or what they might be doing)there was no way I would have made it through. Enough said about that. What I want to write about is my 17th birthday. Because it rocked.

Like I said, I had these friends. And for some really odd reason, they (I) thought it would be really fun to go to the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle for my birthday. My mom let me take the car, which was this Monte Carlo, a sporty silver-grey thing, that made me feel like a high school pimp(ette)driving it. We always used to have to take the bus everywhere, so it was kind of a big deal to get to drive somewhere. Especially into Seattle. So it was a lovely, sunny day, and we were 17 years old and hot shit.

***I might add that the effect was somewhat marred by the fact that there was a tiny little glitch in the windshield wipers in that they would randomly come on. For no reason. And then they would equally randomly go off.***

We got to the zoo and my friends had gotten for me a crown to wear. Not just any crown, not a Burger King Crown or a little diamond tiara, but the most awesome crown ever that said, "BOW. It's My Birthday!" I believe there were balloons as well, and maybe a present or two, in fact I am sure there was but I can't remember what they might have been-whatever it is that 17 year olds get each other. We strolled around the zoo taking pictures and laughing and just having one of those rare days where everything is just so.

And my friend J. was wearing this, I don't know, a beret? The flat little hat that French guys wear, anyway. He was very tall, thin, wore these black sweaters with his Levis and combat boots, and had the skinniest little ass known to man. I always remember him as looking very Gallic, with a cig hanging out of his mouth and the smoke rolling up and making his eyes squint-which is an odd way to see him as so far as I remember, he didn't smoke. *shrugs* Anyway, we got to the bear cage, and it was fun and crowded and blah blah blah, but really, the bears were just sitting there, not doing anything remotely bear-like. Until one of them spied J. far above the crowd, with his little black beret. And the bear went fucking nuts. As in every time J. moved, the bear would follow him. So of course J, being the kind of person that he was, started running. Back and forth in front of this enclosure, the bear getting more and more agitated, roaring and snorting and making these very odd huffing J. would just run faster. I think that there were an equal number of people watching both the bear AND J., as if perhaps judging which one of them was, in fact, the most dangerous.

I really don't remember what else happened, at least not after J. got too tired and flopped onto the ground panting, and the bear kind of hanging on the side of the cage moaning like some lovesick girl in the thorse of her first..crush. I don't recall the drive home, nor anything that happened later. Perhaps there may have been beer involved, perhaps not. All I really do recall is the car, the crown, and the bear.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Go Ahead and Laugh

I think God is trying to tell me something. Last week-or was it the week before?-I got stung twice by a wasp in a rather personal area. Got over that. But on Tuesday night, I knocked a cup of tea off of the arm of the couch into my lap. A cup of tea that head been boiling mere seconds prior to being dumped. And it was one of those things where a split-second before I knocked it over, I actually thought to myself, "Hm, better not set that there." Can you say holy FUCK? In retrospect, it IS funny to think about it. I jumped up so fast that the cup went flying across the room, and even in my drinking-and-getting-laid days, I have never taken my clothes off that fast. NEVER. I was standing in the kitchen with no pants on, a cold, wet towel wrapped around both legs, crying and also laughing at the same time. Not fun. And can you imagine the embarrassment at having to call my boss yesterday morning and explain why I couldn't make it in to work? Because I am clumsy and burnt the piss out of my thighs and, marginally, my hoo-ha (though I didn't actually share that info with him, it is is true)? Yeah, nice. And all he could so was laugh and say "Oh, man, I am so sorry, ha ha ha...that must really hurt, snort snort giggle, I hope you can make it to work on Thursday, guffaw..."

But you know, I am all right, and it is kind of funny. In a sick kind of way. There are blisters, or were before they popped and oozed and caused my pajama pants to stick to them...and it hurts like hell but is way better today than yesterday (I credit Lavender Essential Oils for the quick healing; it truly is remarkable how well that stuff works). And I am so sick that I actually thought, "Hm, I wonder if there is a way I can take a somewhat tasteful photo of this and post it on my blog?" Yep. Sick. But no worries, you will all be spared that sight. And if you have any ideas about what exactly it is that God is trying to tell me, please let me know.

That said, I am better in lots of ways today than I have been. Nothing in my life has changed, but I am on a much more even keel, feeling much more at peace than I have in quite some time. I think-no, I know-that part of my angst and emotional turmoil comes from feeling like I am responsible for everyone else's emotions/feelings/actions in addition to my own, and I have been consciously trying to give those things back to the person to whom they belong. Not generally verbally, but symbolically (although with the kids, it tends to be verbal: as in, "Sam, I am so sorry that you still can't find the Scout book that you were supposed to put in a safe place and therefore can't finish the work to get your badge. However, I am not responsible for your having lost it and I am not going to buy you another one."), and it helps. It also helps to write my problems/issues/concerns down and put them into my little God Box, symbolically letting God take care of them because when I try, I just fuck them up. I have long since proven that when I try to run my own life, I get myself in trouble, but every now and again I forget that and try to assume that I know how to handle things a lot better than I really do. And then I go crazy.

So today, I am okay. A little worse for the wear physically, but WAY better emotionally. And I felt so bad for so long that I am really, really grateful for feeling so much better. Life is good today, and maybe today is all that matters.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Photos: Part 1

I think I should rethink my life's work; surely, surely, I could be a beauty queen of some sort, as is indicated in the below photo (I am, of course, the one vamping on the big ottoman thingy)? This is me and my friends after the birthday dinner C. and D. had for me while I was in Seattle. I am laying down for two reasons: They are all at least 6 inches taller than me, four of the five considerably more than that, and I didn't want to look even shorter than I really am. Like, midget-sized. And I ate so much dinner that I really didn't feel like I could support the extra weight any longer; I needed to rest. Really.

And here

is the place where C. and I went shopping; isn't is beautiful? This was at University Village, which is (obviously) by the University of Washington. I love the way the rain made everything look so clean and new and fresh. There was this one store called Restoration Hardware that I absolutely loved. Although they did not have candlestick holders, they did have this chair, which would look really excellent under the painting I was posting about yesterday. Which Ican't link to. And I don't know why. And this one has to be one of my all time favorite pictures. Can you tell whom I am voting for?

I have more where this came from, but am not good enough at the whole adding images thing to do them justice; perhaps I will have to do these in installments.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday Again....and Again...and Again

You guys want to know what the very worst thing about being poor is? I mean, beyond the obvious like not having enough to pay all the bill, buy new shoes for the kids, etc... No. Here is the worst thing. There is this painting by Anna over at Borderline Bonkers that I love. And it is for sale. And it isn't even expensive, because it is an original and it is stunning. But I can't buy it. She offered it to me because I was the first person to comment on how much I loved it and WANTED it, so a resounding Thank You! to her for the offer. I am so sad that I can't, though, and I want to piss and moan about this picture and the fact that Iwant it but can't have it as being the worst thing about being poor-you don't get to buy the things that you want. ***sniff*** Where is the goddamn lottery when you need it? Okay, okay, I will suck it up and stop now.

I want to send a big thank you out to Jim over at BusyDad; when I got to work this morning I had some correspondence from him that fit just what I needed at that moment. So thanks, Jim, for the words of encouragement. It meant a lot to me. 'Nuff said.

And I wanted to go into this rant about Mother's Day and all of that crap, but I won't, because it really just doesn't matter. For the first time in 15 years of being a Mother, I got gifts from my kids that were NOT HANDMADE AT SCHOOL, because Hannah is old enough now to take some initiative. And took her babysitting money to get me some things, and I came home from an overnight deal to a clean house and yard. So, it helped, a lot. I took a nap. Cried most of the afternoon, but was also productive by weeding out the flower bed and talking on the phone and smoking while I was crying. And then we went to a dinner thing at Steve's mom's house. I felt marginally better that HE didn't even acknowledge it becuase he pissed and moaned about having to sign the car I got for his mother. HIS mother.

I know it is strange that I write about Steve, and we obviously do things together still, yet still consider myself single; if you want to know, I will tell all. Or not. But yeah, it is strange, I will be the first to admit it.

Rambling a little today, but I had to go home early and spend most of the day at home with a sick kid, and by some strange turn of events, found out that the dog had her puppies. Talk about odd. See, I had to go to work early since I had to go home early to be with The Boy, so we were all in a hurry this morning and din't go out to check on the dog. I came home and gave The Boy his drugs (so I could nap), then heard the dog out barking like mad. Since she usually reserves her barking for around 11 p.m. I thought I should look to see what the hell was going on. Peered out the window and she had gotten herself all tangled up in her tie out, but was sort on lunging toward this hole and barking, barking, barking. I thought maybe a snake had gotten under her house or seomthing, so went out with a shovel (because, you know, I am handy like that) to find: four puppies in the hole. Apparently she had been just tangled enough that she couldn't make it into her house to have them, so made an existing dip in the groun bigger and popped them out. However, at some later point, she got herself even MORE tangled up and couldn't get back to them. Isn't it strange how that worked out? Because if The Boy hadn't gotten sick, I wouldn't have been home, and it got hot today; puppies would not have made it out in the sun with no shade and no mama.

The dog actually licked me in happiness, which is a first. And then promptly went into her house and plopped out two more. Six. Puppies. Fuck.

And that was my Monday. Let's hope that tomorrow is more normal, okay? Considering I am on the edge and all...

Friday, May 9, 2008

Flashback Friday-Family Vacation

If you want to play along today, go see CableGirl and get your name on her list. Come on; I know you have always wanted to be a Flasher! Or am I projecting?

The summer between second and third grade, my parents decided we were going to take a long family vacation. We loaded up our monstrous Ford Econoline van (including a mattress in the back, as that was long before seat belts were a big deal) with the six of us (the Parents and us four daughters), as well as our huge Old English Sheepdog and headed cross-country from Colorado to Kentucky; that was where the parents of my step-father lived, and we had never met them before, so when the Step Dick-I mean dad-had a month's leave from the Air Force, they though it would be a great time to go.

And this remains to this day one of the best childhood memories I have. We all loved music and loved to sing, so we had this huge fake leather carrier thing filled with cassette tapes-from The Sound of Music Soundtrack to Dolly Parton and the The Andrews Sisters, BJ Thomas and Johnny Horton. Miles and miles each day, singing along to the radio or reading or falling asleep to the hum of the wheels on the pavement. I used to ask my mom to wake me up if we came to a town at night, because I loved to see the lights at night, all of these houses lit up with families inside; it always made me feel unreasonably happy and safe to imagine what their lives were like, and the lights of the big cities and the small towns alike filled me with a sense of possibility, like somewhere out there along the road, I would meet my own life, my own self, and know I was going to make it.

***Yes, I really did think like that when I was a kid; didn't you believe me when I told you I was a nerd? Now you know why.***

I don't really remember much about our actual destination, Kentucky. I have a vague memory of the street my step-grands lived on, with a neighbor boy who had a bike he would let us ride, the faint smell of cabbage and endless glasses of iced tea. I remember thinking that my step-grandma was something like God to me, because when my step-dad yelled at us for not eating the Brussels sprouts, she smacked him on the hand with a fork and told him to stop. She stood up to him, where we certainly couldn't. In retrospect, I imagine he was as afraid of his parents as we were him, but at the time, I felt protected and safe. And that pretty much sums up my memories of the visit itself.

But I remember the trip: the driving, and the stopping. We went to a reservation in New Mexico, and I remember how odd it was that there would be shacks made from corrugated metal, no power lines, chickens scratching around in the dust-but with shiny brand new trucks parked alongside the house. I remember feeling very, very white when we would stop at little stores along the way, buying penny candy sticks and wondering why everyone seemed so tired and worn down. Still-New Mexico was beautiful in a strange, wild way I had never experienced, and I made up my mind then that I wanted to live there. It hasn't happened yet, but maybe. I also found out that I didn't like the Grand Canyon. At. All. It scared me, and I actually do not care if I ever see it again.

I remember the thrill of watching life unfold in front of me, and the way it looked from behind. I remember being mesmerized at the way the shadows from the power lines swooped up and down, over and over, looking like they were moving but the van was standing still. I remember the roadside diners and stopping at rest areas to pee, remember the feeling of being completely alone even when I was surrounded by my family, and I remember the soft sound of my mom singing as I fell asleep.

I think this is why I love to travel, to just get in the car and drive. I never did get bored in the car, and still don't. I thank this one vacation for my love of the road, and the desert, and the way life could be. Three weeks of nearly idyllic living, and I haven't stopped looking for it since.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I Found This Book....

My daughter brought this book home last night, and since I am totally out of books to read at the moment, I thought I would look at it and see if it was something I could get into (I love reading some of the books the kids bring home; some of them are books I read when I was their age, and it has been a really great experience to be able to share that with them). Three hours later, I put the book down, absolutely stunned. I read a lot, and I love a lot of different kinds of books, have a lot of favorites, and this book now ranks up there in my Top Five. It is called the perks of being a wallflower, by a man called Stephen Chbosky. Have any of you read it? I was actually looking online and found that there are a lot of references to this guy, whom I have never heard of. And on the surface, it is not the kind of book that I personally read. Anything with the words "coming of age..." anywhere in the description are out, as is "..a sweeping saga" or "An epic novel..." But I was bored, the book was there, and lo and behold, I stumbled upon a masterpiece. It is supposed to be about a kid in high school, and it is, but far more than that, it is a story about the human condition as I see it, the struggle for acceptance and finding out just who you are and where you belong. Those kinds of things aren't high-school-specific, and follow closely along with my belief that part of our problems in the world have to do with having lost a sense of community, of being part of something so much bigger than we can imagine. I can't begin to tel you how much I loved this book, so you should go read it yourself, really. I did, however, want to quote this poem that was in the book. I won't make any commentary or analysis of my own, but will say it made me cry.

once on a yellow piece of paper with green lines
he wrote a poem
And he called it "Chops"because that was the name of his dog
And that's what it was all about
And his teacher gave him an A
and a gold star
And his mother hung it on the kitchen door
and read it to his aunts
That was the year Father Tracy
took all the kids to the zoo
And he let them sing on the bus
And his little sister was born
with tiny toenails and no hair
And his mother and father kissed a lot
And the girl around the corner sent him a
Valentine signed with a row of X's
and he had to ask his father what the X's meant
And his father always tucked him in bed at night
And was always there to do it.

Once on a piece of white paper with blue lines
he wrote a poem
And he called it "Autumn"
because that was the name of the season
And that's what it was all about
And his teacher gave him an A
and asked him to write more clearly
And his mother never hung it on the kitchen door
because of its new paint
And the kids told him
Father Tracy smoked cigars
And left butts on the pews
And sometimes they would burn holes
That was the year his sister got glasses
with thick lenses and black frames
And the girl around the corner laughed at him
when he asked her to go see Santa Claus
And the kids told him why
his mother and father kissed a lot
And his father never tucked him in bed at night
And his father got mad when he cried for him to do it.

Once on a paper torn from his notebook
he wrote a poem
And he called it "Innocence: A Question"
because that was the question about his girl
And that's what it was all about
And his professor gave him an A
and a strange steady look
And his mother never hung it on the kitchen door
because he never showed her
That was the year that Father Tracy died
And he forgot how the end of the Apostle's Creed went
And he caught his sister making out on the back porch
And his mother and father never kissed or even talked
And the girl around the corner wore too much makeup
That made him cough when he kissed her
but he kissed her anyway because that was the thing to do
And at three A.M. he tucked himself into bed
his father snoring soundly

That's why on the back of a brown paper bag
he tried another poem
And he called it "Absolutely Nothing"
Because that's what it was really all about
And he gave himself an A
and a slash on each damned wrist
And he hung it on the bathroom door
because this time he didn't think
he could reach the kitchen.

-- Taken from The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (and written by a man called Dr. Earl Reum)

***And no, folks, I am not about to go do myself in***

This is just amazing, and because I am a dork like that, my whole life just got better because I read a book that I love.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Dating Game-Under 300 Pounds

So, a friend of mine who shall remain nameless (because she might not want people to know this about her) and I have been debating about whether or not we should start the whole dating thing. And thanks to Liz over at a bright future for THAT wonderful idea. Because we are both single moms with an already-full schedule, online dating seems both the easiest way to at least "meet" guys, so we thought we would both kind of try it. I even thought it was a GOOD IDEA, which just goes to show you how absofuckinglutely insane I am. Like that is a surprise.

So I went into that little Orkut thing offered by Google, and put some basic information in my profile. Then I went to the search option and Holy Hell, you would SO not believe some of the people on there! I saw penises galore (and one of them looked like it had to hurt him just to carry it around; no way would THAT ever get near me!), and men from other countries, and all sorts of odd ducks; all the while, I was thinking, "Oh, honey, maybe posting your photo isn't the best way for you to get a date," or things of that ilk.

But the BEST: I went into Craigslist (a note of caution: make sure you type that in correctly! If you forget the "s"after Craig, a porn site pops up) on her advice to check out the guys in HER area, and there was this totally great ad. The headline said, 'Must be under 300 lbs!" I don't know why, exactly, that made me laugh so hard, but really, what happened to the poor man to make THAT his criteria? So if someone 299 lbs. responded, he would still give her the old college try? What about 301 lbs; is that an automatic scratch? It is funny to ME, but I have a certain amount of sympathy for the guy.

At the end of the day, though, I remembered that I don't like to date. In fact, I hate it. I hate everything about it. I hate the first date/first dinner/first kiss thing. I hate the idea of trying to sell myself well enough that someone wants to go out with me. I just-well, in case you hadn't gotten the drift, I hate it. Before I met Steve, I dated some, and I really suck at it. I don't do casual sex. I refuse to order a salad in order to impress a guy with my small appetite; for one thing, look at my ass-does it LOOK like I eat a lot of salad? Also, really, if I am going out somewhere for dinner, I am SO not going to waste the experience on a salad-bring on the bloody meat. I also am not willing to sit through one more uninteresting manly-type flick like "Die Hard." Just so not into it, and why pretend? Nor am I going to fall for the candlelight dinner by the water (if we had any here, which we don't. But you know what I mean), or the "I LOVE kids! Let's have a picnic at the park with them!" guy. Really, if you are THAT enthusiastic about spending time with my kids, you are probably a pedophile and I don't want to date you either.

All of this leads me to believe, then, that I am just not ready. If I were ready, there wouldn't be so many specifications (although I am thinking if I ever DO feel ready, I am so going to steal that guy's "under 300 lbs." line). I wouldn't be able to find so many reasons why I hate the whole idea, and I would certainly be more open and, I hope, less judgemental. So for now, ix nay on the dating thing.

And right now, I just can't see myself in a position of wanting to date. See, another big surprise, but I don't like men very much. No, wait, that isn't true, I LOVE men, and know some really great ones, but I don't especially trust men. I swore after my ex left me that I wouldn't ever open up my life to someone again, but then I met Steve, and I got pregnant, and thought I would give him a chance; and in doing so, fell in love hard. Opened myself up to feeling things I have literally NEVER felt before, and then I got totally trampled on. So no, I can't see myself ever allowing myself to get there again. I still love Steve, even when I know it isn't going anywhere, even though I know there are a lot of valid reasons why I couldn't be with him even if he wanted to be with me, which at this point he doesn't. But knowing that I am making decisions based on what is best for me and my kids doesn't make it any easier, nor does it make the pain any less. And I don't want to go on dates to try to make me "get over him." I have tried the rebound relationship thing in the past, and it has just caused more problems.

However, I don't think I am going to be able to resist peeking through the ads now and again; I am just amazed and stunned and amused (and in some cases, afraid) at how crazy some people are, and for some reason, I want to see more of THAT. Just like a car wreck, dude-I can't keep driving by without slowing down to look at least once!