Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy Near Year, again

My wish for 2007 is that it be a healthy year for all of us, creatures great and small. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Tiger plants a cub

Isn't it great when the media thinks people can arrange things like this? We all should be so lucky.

Woods and Elin Norde.gren of Sweden married in October 2004, and Woods has said that he wanted children sooner instead of later. He did not say when in the summer the baby is due, although it likely would be between the U.S. Open and British Open.

Of course, folks like them really do get to plan it that way.

Our new addition

Meet Janie Betta, named in honor of her being a New Year fish, hence our contrived nickname for January as well as the preferred name of the daughter I never had. I do love naming things. My son made the mistake of offering that I could help, so I took over naming duties right quick. Take that Julia R0berts. I got to name a fish.

Below is how Janie chills. She gets a swimming jump and wedges herself up onto the plastic foliage, staying just below the surface of the water, still and completely relaxed in the warmth of the too hot, cheapo Ikea light above. Manicure, pedicure, and she'd be set.

When I researched female bettas after we brought her home, I learned, "A well conditioned breeding female will often display horizontal stripes." At least one of us is fertile. Take that Julia R0berts.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Who knows?

Luke left a long message last evening on my cell. My son and I were seeing the Ben Sti11er flick, which was better than the reviews. We really enjoyed it. I giggled seeing him on screen with his mom, especially when he tried to buffalo her.

Anyway, Luke and I talked later. He misses me and thinks of me often. When he left a message on my voice mail, he'd been trying to call me in the space of time between work and picking up his kids. Without me asking, he said he'd secured babysitting for the next few days; he seems confident and comfortable about it. Later, I told him I've been very concerned, but did not mention the arrangement I'd considered.

I have come to realize that us breaking up doesn't really stick, because we like and care for one another. Since HS, I have never had break/unbreak ups with a person. I am much too decisive for that.

I must fall back on my mantra: Love (or something leading to love) is not enough. L.I.N.E. The proper logistics must be there for a relationship. And I have begun online conversations with other guys.

During our phone call, Luke reminded me about him feeling sick on Monday and it turned into something like his eldest son had. That son threw up three mornings in a row and had reduced appetite, nothing further. Don't know what happened with Luke. Anyway, he mentioned it because it prevented him from saying things he meant to say on Monday night and I guess he wants a chance to say them.

I haven't mentioned it here before, but Luke has a health concern that is over riding. Several months ago, he had a growth removed from his voca1 cords. The tissue was painful like a barb and made his throat sore, but they could not identify what kind of growth it was, except to say it was benign.

In the last two months, he had a different growth develop and, by scope several weeks ago, it appears to perhaps be above his voca1 cords, but they could not be sure. I saw the pictures. I also saw him struggle to swallow the Xmas dinner he'd cooked. His voice is definitely affected now, much raspier.

He has another appt in about two weeks, but I don't know when he surgery will be - for his last surgery, his summer girlfried with all the PDA took him. That time they told him that repeated growths/voca1 cord lasering will steal his voice. He is very, very fearful of that.

How can I simultaneously be decisive and compassionate? You don't have to answer that.

Not again

Julia R0berts is better than us again, y'all. She got to skip SIF completely and is on the road to kid three.

Can't wait to her her perspectives on this, with it being a singleton and destined to be so easy as such.

Bitter anyone?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A new twist on IVF and adoption

Video: Custody battle turns ugly*

Not exactly what I had in mind

My son came home yesterday and, over time, I got the list of things he'd gotten for Xmas from his father and visiting grandmother.

If I was surprised about the leather jackets my son and his 16yo step brother got, then I was absolutely shocked by their dual Lifetime Memberships to the NRA.

I like getting these reminders about why we are divorced.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Infertile couples praying for a baby miracle

Road trip to Rome. Yeah, right.

I can't locate the video again. Here's the transcript from CNN's Anderson Co.oper 360 Degrees:

CO.OPER: Infertility affects about six million people in the U.S. alone. The problem, of course, is heartbreaking for a lot of couples who are desperately trying to have a child. Most people turn to modern medicine for help conceiving, but there are those who are willing to travel thousands of miles in search of what they hope will be a miracle.Here's CNN's faith and values correspondent, Delia Gallagher.


(voice-over): Hundreds, even thousands of faithful come to this church in Rome each week. Many are women who have all but given up on having a child. And they are desperate for a miracle.

From the outside, the Church of Sant'Agostino looks like so many in Rome. Built in the 13th century, its facade is said to be made of stones from ruins of the Roman Coliseum.

Inside, there's the tomb of St. Monica, Mother Sant'Agostino, and this, the Madonna dei Pellegrini by Caravaggio, a once controversial painting depicting the Virgin Mary in a less than sacred setting. But look at this. This is why these women come. It's Iacopo Sansovini's Madonna del Parto, the Madonna of childbirth. Often accompanied by their husbands, they are drawn to the statue. They sometimes cry and always pray. Father Bernardino Pinciarolli is the friar of Sant'Agostino. He says he has seen the sorrow and the hope in the eyes of couples who ask for something that appears to come so easily to others but for them is so elusive.

FATHER BERNARDINO PINCIAROLLI, FRIAR OF SANT'AGOSTINO (through translator): This is the most beautiful thing, to see these women and next to them their husbands with the same sadness, but at the same time seeing that there is joy in the request.

GALLAGHER: For 500 years believers have come here to ask for their tiny miracles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I have always prayed to this Madonna. I prayed to her every time I've been with child, and now I'm a mother of three. So I've become devoted to her.

GALLAGHER: So many of the women who came to pray wouldn't speak to us on camera. But Louisa, here to give thanks for her three healthy children, told us there are many stories of how the Madonna helped women whose only wish was to have a child. There's no question that those who visit the Madonna believe in miracles, perhaps with good reason. Father Bernardino says the church doesn't keep count of how many babies have been born after parents came to pray at the statue, but he does know how many have returned through the years to show their gratitude. From the thousands of photographs kept carefully in albums. Overjoyed parents with their newborns and baby booties, ribbons, toys pinned to the walls. Tokens of thanks from thousands of grateful mothers and fathers.

PINCIAROLLI (through translator): I've seen and heard extraordinary things. Sometimes they come here from baptisms and say, "Lord, this child was given us to by Mary." It's a beautiful thing.

GALLAGHER: The Madonna and her child, bringing hope to couples who seem to have so little. The miracle of childbirth has a special meaning here.

Delia Gallagher, CNN, Rome.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Because we all should be thinking of eating somemore

Here's my annual plug. is a great place to get restaurant gift certificates on the cheap. Generally, they are either $10 or $25 and they're purchased for $3 or $10. If you get on their mailing list, you find out when they're even cheaper. Right now, they're 70% off, only $3 for a $25 gift certificate. I am lucky that there are many restaurants around here participating. Check for your zip code and see for yourself.

The current offer code is CHEERS and you plug it in on the last page. I just bought $45 worth of certificates for under $5.

Be sure to watch for the certificate's stipulations - time of day, day of week, amount spent, etc.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Another Christmas, Another Break Up

Yup, had to do the deed over Xmas clean up.

Excuse followed excuse about why he tended his children every waking second and I said I cannot be with a man who cannot prioritize me in the least. It happened before with work and school. It happened with his kids, who are very high maintenance.

Specifically, and to his surprise, I said, "It's not them. It's you." He kind of stepped back with a shocked look on his face, but he finally got it.

I pointed out that the dynamic of me being in the background and us having no PDA in front of them will become how it'd be next Spring Break/summer/Xmas as well. I was particularly struck by the idea that most of the time between January and June, when his kids are gone, will seem like a honeymoon, but his true reality is the rest of the time, precious visitation. That's where his excitement and heart lie. All else is false. He has no space for a relationship when his loyalties are that way. No relationship could survive what would feel like a lack of commitment during those holidays. He is struck by my insight and my ability to communicate it. He realizes he should not be dating, particularly when he actually says his goal is a long term relationship!

To help him deal with his kids, I suggested several parenting books - Your [insert age] Year Old - which would prime him on what his kids should be able to do when he has them for these short periods. He should not be catering to them or bend to their whim, because it will always wind up two against one. Although it seemed disrespectful to say it, I wanted to coach him to learn to say, "Because I'm the adult," in dealing with them balking him all the time. Further, they should have little responsibilities and grow instead of regress while with him. Otherwise, what began when a kid was three will be the norm fallen back on even when the kid gets older because of the sporadic nature of their visitation.

For example, no seven year old should need Daddy's company each time he takes a dump and no four year old should need extensive assistance for each piss. Luke was up and down with their calls constantly, me interrupted mid-sentence and feeling invisible.

This happened once with the eldest just as Luke and I had our very first quiet moment together all day. This was Saturday. I was just about to ask him to open his Xmas present from me when the eldest had to poop. No present, special time over.

Then, as it turned out, the youngest went hog wild opening gifts this morning and opened mine to Luke - the high quality darts I had imported and were the most expensive gift I bought this season. Of course, Luke was on the phone to his ex when this occurred and she heard "darts" and he lied to her about what she'd heard, thus lying about my existance. He said he never saw the tag and had no idea who they came from. Cast quite the pall over my gift for sure.

I walked in the door today (no kiss, of course) and asked if he had opened my gift yet. He laughed it off, said what had happened, but my eyes welled up. Much later, I told him that I knew I would get very little from him the week (e.g., no hand holding and I had to friggin' walk right past him with no kiss as I entered his apt each time b/c of his no PDA rule and his kids eyeing everything suspiciously, especially the elder, in order to report to their mother), but giving that gift was truly my bright spot. I was getting a lot out of giving a special gift we could do together and commemorated a very special evening we shared. I admitted that perhaps I put too much significance on it, but I knew I'd be at the short end of the stick for a few weeks and I was purposefully looking out for myself with that sole situation.


At least he allowed me to draw some boundaries (i.e. Kids, you've eaten, but Daddy cooked [ha - warmed] all day, so he will not play a game until he is finished eating.), even if he didn't uphold them very well. I guided them a good bit and he really liked my interactions with them. I taught them games, read to them, played cars, etc and they were good with me; even the older one warmed to me today. The younger stayed on my lap and the older was eager for high fives during games. He actually smiled repeatedly and was happy.

Honestly, it's just called parenting - steering/diverting for a desired result instead of arguing, whining back, and caving. Kids like boundaries, especially if you let them think they are in charge and give them confidence in decision-making. Plus play therapy is so valuable, too; give them a specific time to feel the boss. It takes a confident, informed parent and I don't know how he can accomplish that on holidays.

Between Luke and I, it specifically came down to him having too much on his plate - school, work, kids, health - and I didn't see a place for me. In fact, I generally felt in the way, a distraction for any of these "more important" things. When I helped, it was too much, stuff he should be doing for himself.

(Besides airport and fish duties while he was gone, I spent two hours installing new tags on his car; he tried doing it before he left, but couldn't. After I started, I realized he didn't have the right tools or WD-40 and I had to do it at my house in the rain in the dark [with my son holding the flashlight and me yelling/cussing a lot] - his old tags were out of state and expired, so it had to be done, but the bolts were rusted and mere screw drivers would not work. The guy didn't have the time or organization to do it on his own and I'm butch enough to fix things.)

Further, I asked him if it's always this way with him buzzing around to the beat of someone else's drum and he couldn't say. That's odd to me, not knowing your own patterns. However, it came down to him knowing he needs to work on himself.

At least he was open to what I said to him and essentially agreed, although he felt like he lacked perspective. Funny this. Yeah. To get perspective, he plans to start therapy next month. He'd mentioned it before.

That brought me my only real tears of the day as I questioned why I bring men to the point of them wanting to fulfill the potential I see for them. Why do I make men evolve to the point of understanding that they're needing something more to help themselves? Why do I lend them such focus? Why can't that be done along side me?

Honestly, though, I don't think either Luke or ex-f could fix enough stuff to make me comfortable enough to stay.

We may talk some time in the future. We didn't leave it on bad terms, but I was tired of feeling neglected and he didn't like feeling like he was either using me or overlooking me.

Yeah, so Merry Christmas to me.

Another one bites the dust as the Yule log fades. It's an Xmas tradition now.

At least this year, I took my gift home - I'd requested Pa1oma Picass0 and he came through on a gift set. Yum.

Better than last year



Bump. Crash.

It's okaaaaaay, he calls out. I really like juggling.


I am trying hard to focus on today, but last year keeps creeping in. I think that was one of the hardest days of my life. And I am much more unresolved than I like to admit. None of it makes sense; I miss him. I want to send an email, but will abstain.

Instead, I am focusing on getting my son to his dad's in a little bit, then going to Luke's. He's cooking, or as Norma said, he's warming. See, cooking a fancy dinner to him is apparently green beans, yams, corn, gravy, and cranberry sauce from cans, plus Stove Top from a box. At least he is cooking a turkey. I talked him out of the canned ham a few weeks ago.

His kids are here: four and seven. The youngest one is whiny, with both of his parents complaining, but I think it's his age and he's cute enough and affectionate enough to get away with it. The older one is literally dark and broody - at age seven. I told Luke the first day that I've never seen a first grader act like a teenager before. The boy reminds me of L, which gives me the heebie jeebies.

Nothing's perfect. Sigh.

But I am so very thankful for this airplane-building, dinosaur-excavating, GI Joe-playing, juggling, clowning, kissing boy of mine. It's going to be hard giving him up for two days.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Finding spirit(s)

I am finally decorating. Fill my stocking with a little cheer, plus whatever you deem I need, want, deserve, lack, desire, or should really, really have.

Cricket's Stocking
Leave a gift for Cricket
your username:
your gift: (30 characters or less)

get your stocking

Thanks, and back at cha.

via Diana


We've established that Luke really hates the assumptions that come from looking like a little Lat1n guy with a definitive Lat1n surname. Besides ordering at Taco Bell, he's never spoken Span1sh. However, he's been mistakenly brought documents at work as a project to translate from Span1sh and, on the flip side away from work, without speaking a word he's been brought a translator to work for him. He's pretty much stunned by it all, by the assumptions made from his surname and/or his appearance.

I have my own version of that and I am trying hard to keep it in check, better than him anyway. It is well-established that I am pretty WASPy looking.

Why is it the greeting of the season, "Are you ready for Christmas?" One could argue that people are just being friendly and probably subversively saying, "Naaa naaa, I'm ready and you're not."

Actually, what they're assuming is that because I look Christian then I must be Christian. I don't appreciate it, particularly because I do nothing Christian in society to make anyone think that would be my religion. I have an English last name, but so does an old friend who looks WASPy, is Jewish, and married Christian. The appearance does not match up with reality.

I don't like the assumptions.

A bit fed up with it yesterday and faced with the question at school by the school counselor who I think should know better, I gave her much more than she was seeking. I don't like her and I don't care if it showed, not to mention with her counselor status and all, I figure she can find her way out of it just fine.

SC: Are you ready for Christmas?
AC*: I wonder if there are any studies about the warpedness of children born to atheists as the kids try to get through the Christmas season.
SC: The what?
ACWLTMUW*: Warpedness.
SC: Oh

She quickly walked off, ensuring enough distance between us so that none of my atheism rubbed off on her, as I declared a small victory creeping out a person who I really don't care for who obviously needs to find a sense of humor under her blasted tree.

* Atheist Cricket
** Atheist Cricket Who Likes To Make Up Words

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Lest you think I come from an indecisive line

My mother broke up with her beau. Remember, he was the angel collector so worthy of my time and efforts. I gather she didn't cotton to life on a shelf.

Exasperated, she told him this weekend that she already had two husbands that did nothing but sit on the couch and she'd be damned if she was going to go through that again. Apparently in three weekends, they'd gone out to eat once, ordered in once, and sat on the couch the rest of the time.

When he played the "I had open heart surgery last year" card, she told him that it merely confirmed that they want to/are able to do different things.

All I can say is that maybe some warning was in order, as I don't have the impression she tried to talk to him directly about this ahead of time. That's not to say they didn't talk, because she'd emailed me previously that they spent hours each night on the phone and she signed up for call waiting just because of him. I guess they didn't talk very constructively. And I guess that allowed him to sit on the couch during phone calls more than she would have preferred, sort of setting a precedent for when she was there.

The guy, an Egypt1an, rather exotic for her, plead with her about maintaining a friendship, but she is of the same mind set as me there: nope, over is over. I do wish she'd reconsider, as I believe they had a lot in common.

So my mother is single again after over a month. And she's asking me when I'm going to dump mine.

Mine is trying, but there's a lot of substance there. He is a genuinely good person with a moral backbone much like mine. He is overly patient, too, which leads us to trouble when he is overly patient with his ex-wife.

I think he creates day-to-day drama and he's been put on notice about that. After his kids are gone in January, classes are over, and peak time at work is through, if he keeps up with the scurrying about like henny penny with no time or focus, then he is history.

I hate more than anything feeling like I am in the way or hindering someone's productivity, yet I hate to cede the way for someone not using their time well. For his graduate class, he took an incomplete, this after taking more than a full day off of work to write a paper he didn't touch, him taking time from me yet spontaneously inviting me to do things while he's supposed to be doing his paper, him not even going to church - all for naught. Well, worse than naught because he has one semester to make up a paper and a final, so it won't be ending any time soon.

He's very good at spinning his wheels and I refuse to feel responsible. Norma told me the other day that I'm enabling him, in part because Friday night I stayed up all night - not having sex for the last time in weeks - but wrapping his kids' presents and packing his kids' clothes. What was he doing as I wrapped? He was not washing clothes, packing, or preparing for his pre-dawn flight. No. He was writing Xmas cards, something he could have done with his half day of flying the next day, but he insisted that flying is for sleep. Sometimes we literally are not on the same page. In this case, I feel ashamed that I completely decorated his apt, put up his tree, and wrapped all his gifts over the last few weeks when I have not done one of these things for my son here. Guilt.

Bottom line is that we have very similar personalities and, to boot, I think he's ADHD like me. One in a relationship is weird enough.

I'll be patient until the holidays are over and his kids are gone; maybe he can prove himself. Remember how bad it was last year around here? I want calm, even if it has a small price. I'm not going to do like I did about four years ago; I'd been dating a guy maybe two weeks and talked to him February 13 to tell him that I didn't want to see him anymore. He told me to enjoy the flowers I'd be getting the next day. ba dum bump I don't have to be quite as decisive like my mom this go around.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

All's quiet

And that's a good thing that I'm trying not to get bored over.

My son's teacher wasn't going to ask me to do the class party, but since I had to cancel my big project due to the funeral, she felt bold enough to ask, then she added she didn't have a craft for during the party.

I wracked my brain for something cheap and, of all things, decided to tape together two Fancy Feast cans to make either drum ornaments or New Year's Eve noisemakers, depending on the child's inclination. I got streamers from the dollar story to wrap around the outside. Okay, it's a four year old project, but the cans are free. Good thing I didn't take out my recycling recently.

I am slowly buying Xmas presents - getting the 2 for 1 Whitman's for neighbors and generally going cheap, yet ever so thoughtful. heh

I finally got a bunch at Marshall's for my son today. I love that store for all their educational gifts. J recently used a National Geographic King Tut sarcophagus kit for his Egypt project for school; I gave it to him two years ago and the assignment made him eagerly want to do it. I'll regret it, but today I got him a slime-making kit, astronomy stuff (and I'm sure he'll be looking for Pluto and these will pre-date Pluto's reclassification), a magic kit, an archeology excavation kit, etc.

He told me recently that I give the better gifts at Xmas when compared to his dad. I know he was just buttering me up and I feel so guilty for him making the comparison, but I am lapping that shit up. I won't hold the crown this year because ex got the shoes with wheels in the sole and a hover craft, but with good luck I can make my son keep that crap over there. I hate the wheel shoes; kids get so distracted and unruly, prone to injury. See, I know he won't hurt himself putting together an Erector set motorcycle here... Oops, they do have sheet metal. Moms will find hazards everywhere.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I feel special

Don't you, my fellow bloggers?

We, the peons with the fat asses in front of the computer, are Time's Person of the Year. I'm sure each of you worked as hard this year to earn this achievement as I did. Although there were neither births nor miscarriages around here, we had drama. There was a significant break up, injury, health issues, death, and a lot of stress. Maybe there was good stuff, too, I forget.

It is asked,

Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I'm not going to watch Lost tonight. I'm going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I'm going to mash up 50 Cent's vocals with Queen's instrumentals? I'm going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?
Well, I do.

And damned if I don't know how I'm going to up myself for next year. Pregnant at 45, not likely. The good news of a decent follow up pap, hopefully again. Aiding in feline longevity, hopefully also. Managing to stay put in my current house, perhaps. Volunteering too much, a given. Staying moderately vested in while not over analyzing a fledgling relationship, we'll see. Having a "cured" brain and trying to put it to better use, pleasantly likely. Painting, please. Pausing long enough to drink in my precious son as he shapes himself into manhood, absolutely.

What about you? What were your contributions to "You" and how do You want to up yourself next year?

Shhh, but next year, instead of "You," I'd like to see "Her" as in "It Should Have Been Known as 'Woman of the Year' All Along."

PS - I do love YouTube. Those folks, even though they're associated with Google, deserve it more than I.

I watched Junk in a Box yesterday and today. Putting it here will remind me to watch it tomorrow. Highly recommend it if you haven't seen the JT SNL skit.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Oh What A Week

My aunt was noisily leaving the inner church as my son and I arrived a tinsy bit late right on time for the funeral. Rather than proceed in, we stayed in the entry for her to howl on us, along with her aunt/cousin/somebody's wife/whomever. She wailed about her father and railed on her mother.

She said, "Oh Cricket, you would enjoy this. When we were in the hearse [I'm figuring that was a Freudian slip] on the way over, I heard Daddy's voice plain as day. He said, 'That is one mean ol' woman,'" referring to my grandmother. She said she had to bite her lip to not bust out laughing. It had been a very difficult morning.

Much later and after a particularly brutal outburst from my grandmother, who I now realize is well into the mean stage of Alzheimer's, I overheard my aunt telling her her daughter in the next room about it, so I took the liberty of telling a few family members about it where I was. My father piped up and quoted my grandfather from a month ago, Grandpa referencing his wife, "Her mean has mean." Classic. I believe I will borrow that line. Exponential mean.

My grandmother never was really mean to me; she was always very demanding of her kind, gentle husband. With me, she was more neglectful or dismissive with a dose of the opportunistic, taking advantage of my good nature. (Don't laugh. It's true.)

After the burial and me lying low for a few hours, when my son and I went back to my grandparents' house, I hung out in the living room, great room, and closed in back porch. There was not a single picture of me, my son, or my sister; there was one of my sister's daughter from about a decade ago. Just ask how many there were of my aunt, cousins, and father. Sorry, I lost count. At one point, I commented to my oldest cousin, the chosen male, that I didn't see any pictures of us around there and he kind of stammered that he does remember seeing one of my sister in her nurse's uniform, but he didn't see it then. Then he began to sort of look around; I said we should have to look so hard and he kind of got the point, one he had not noticed before.

Later, when I went back toward her bedroom, I saw the line of three pictures of my sister and I in the hallway over the long bookshelf. They've been there over thirty years, part of the annual series my mother would have professionally taken each Xmas. When I got to her bedroom, there was one I'd taken the weekend that my son was baptized (yes, he was baptized in my pre-heathen stage) - it is a wickedly cute picture of my sister's 3 yr old daughter holding my 2 mo old son, her flashing charming dimples in great satisfaction with herself.

So, my grandmother did remember us, just not like the ones she saw more often in kind of an inversely proportionate relational thing.

My aunt was full of surprises and full of herself. Her antics took the heat off of me and I was grateful. As we were preparing to leave, and know that getting out the door and down the driveway is a two hour process, she hugged my neck, as any good Southerner does not merely hug, but must hug the huggee's neck. She whispered in my ear. "Cricket, I know I love my family, but you were always special to me. So special. Maybe it was because you were my first. I was in the ninth grade when you were born; I got to start school late because of you. You were the first diaper I ever changed. I'd never even considered it before that, but I did it for you and never thought a thing about it. You were the first butt I wiped."

Okay, how bad a response could I give?

"Well, I still need the service just about every day."


I was absolutely shocked in a positive way at her comment, never expecting it as I didn't think she showed me favor, to her credit, I guess. My sister and she have the long legs/short torso/dark eyes from our grandfather and my sister earned her nickname "Little Aunt" just by being born. I'd considered them closer.

Her eldest has always been the chosen one by my grandmother, who favored boys anyway - funny both the Greek and the Southern sides of my family were so boy-focused and there was only one boy amongst them. Too smart for his own good, my only boy cousin skipped two grades in school. Now he's about 40 and has never been married - introverted, not gay, I'm pretty darn sure. He and his BIL were joking about being "Geeks, not Nerds" and I'm glad he has a sense of humor about it.

Regarding my sister, the source of some severe anxiety: for the first half of the day I steered clear of all mostly because of her and I didn't want a scene. She stayed clear of me, too. After the burial when 'the family' was in the little grave house receiving place, I hung outside on that beautiful day talking with my grandmother's nephew and his son, my second cousin. I always thought this cousin, a year or so my junior, was ever so cute. This week, I gather it was reciprocal, even though it's been twenty five years since we've seen each other. Good thing he's married although second cousins ARE legal. (I'm joking, but funerals are rumored for hooking up with cousins, as the joke goes.) We used to go to their town where my grandmother's family lived for a reunion of sorts the weekend before each holiday. I remember one year when I was probably 14 or so, we all went roller skating and Oh What A Night was a popular song then, hence the title of this post. He and his father seemed to enjoy it this week when I said that I always associated that song with him, skating, and that day.

Anyway, the three of us had a lively conversation in the unusually warm afternoon as we watched the grave diggers cover up my grandfather. During this time, my sister wandered the cemetery, but didn't come by and she'd spent just as much time with this cute cousin as I - he fell between us in age. She kept her distance.

Her 12yo daughter played with my son, so they were well occupied and very happy together.

My sister didn't talk to me until a few hours later. We were stuck in the backyard for the obligatory picture-taking of the grandchildren. She walked up to me and said, "We need to talk." I replied kind of in shock, "We do?" and she said, "Yes, we need to talk."

And that was it. She left perhaps an hour later, I don't really know, because she didn't say goodbye to me. I was still in the back. My son was playing in the front yard, so they goodbyed him.

Hmm, whatever. My optimistic side wants to think of it as the precursor to an apology, but I don't know. As it turned out, I learned after I got home that she emailed me the morning of the funeral from her daughter's email account, one her daughter must check at her dad's as my sister doesn't have a computer. It said:
my daughter's email address is xxx
Please send me some mail.

So I fear all is well in her head and I'm supposed to roll with it. I'm not usually very apology-oriented, but that's what I need - a direct and specific apology. I guess I will send some pictures to all of them when I get them downloaded to break the ice again.

All in all, after a stressful week and a lot of driving, I guess I am a little less spooked by my family. To put it succinctly, I think we all realize that none of us are monsters, mostly. (I still have my doubts about my step mother.) My grandfather had a lovely funeral; his daughter provided the drama for the funeral and his wife for the burial. I provided no drama, but was more like a Shakespearean character providing humor in the grave yard with some other cut ups. My son rolled around fields and yards, covered with grass stains which will be apt souvenirs.

I love my grandpa, but I am at peace. I think he finally is, too.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Boo. Go away people.

My g'pa was diagnosed with lung cancer two weeks ago. I had decided to go see him over Xmas weekend, thinking he had a month or more left. Turns out, my ever-communicating father told me after the fact that his father had taken a severe turn for the worst over the last week. With him being with Hospice only nine days, my grandpa is dead.

I am unhappy that my father didn't communicate that the days were so limited. I would have tried to bump up our visit.

Of course, the big volunteer event I've put a thousand man hours into is this week and I am having to cancel it and reinvent the wheel next month. I had wanted to do one thing at a time and was led to believe that it would be okay to wait. My brain is exploding with all I need to undo.

I asked that my father schedule the funeral late in the week, but of course there was no way that something would be planned around my schedule, the one coming the farthest.

Next, my sister called to bitch me out and said that she'd share a hotel room with us. I dared to bitch back, then was told it all centers around me - I wanted to ask if she just has stock phrases for arguments, as she wasn't making a lot of sense within our given conversation with her cliches. By the end, I said that I didn't know if I'd be going to the funeral, but I did know I would not be sharing a room with her. Her high horse gave nose bleeds.

I didn't get it about her hostility, but I was tempted at one point to ask whether she'd been drinking. She well could have let her call end at goading me into driving there, because G'pa somehow deserves my respect, but she had to go many places she had no right going, lots of salt and lots of wounds. I told her that me attending a funeral had nothing to do with the respect I felt for my grandfather. Heck, I'd already paid huge respect by preparing his genealogical info to share with other genealogists. That's my best way to honor him, to make sure he's remembered properly.

In more out of this world news, I don't know how she was privy to my income amount or my income streams, but she slammed me for not working, when she apparently has to work 40-45 hours per week to earn the same - she's an RN and I think if she kept the same job for more than six months, she'd have earned some raises, but I didn't say that. I asked her not to be jealous of my lifestyle, but it is set up this way for a reason. She freaked about the jealousy comment, but then she would believe no supporting evidence I could provide back when she'd talked herself into a corner. Then she had the audacity to challenge whether I'd considered moving, when I said how expensive the market I live in is, but I am keeping my son near his father for now. I didn't ask for her scrutiny or input. I hated feeling like I needed to defend myself, but she spoke such craziness.

I do not know where her hostility came from and I will not be so cliche as to say it is misplaced grief for our grandfather. It was much more than that and incredibly inappropriate.

A part of her attack revolved around me saying that I don't really have the money to come visit and pay for a hotel, especially at this time of year. That got no respect, but then she's been the most recent of us to lose a house to foreclosure... um, not that I ever have. Fucktard - that she would tell me how to spend my money is absurd.

As a result, my son and I will drive many, many hours there, purposefully arrive 10 minutes late for the funeral, sit at the back, and leave. I do not want to sit with the family. I feel no kinship with them. I did like this grandfather. He was a sweet man with a big heart, a ready smile, and a henpecking wife whose attitude trickles down.

I need to come to terms with this process somehow: to make boundaries that are then highly criticized, to offer olive branches, but to really only want to do so half way, i.e. it is not attractive to me to stay in a hotel room with her. I don't want to drive 25 hours this week out of spite. If it were one on one with my grandfather, I could handle that. One on mass of hostile relatives just won't feel good.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

In which I rag on my mother

My mother is an absolute idiot. I can usually let it roll right off, but I'll admit to her getting under my skin this go 'round. I can say these things and laugh, so it is not a big concern. Mostly, those of you with nice mothers, I want to show you that sometimes a mother is way worse than a mother-in-law. I don't have a mother-in-law, but I sure feel in the competition.

As anticipated, the whole 'make me into an angel' fiasco didn't end well. Allow me to excerpt some emails and realize that the woman is essentially illiterate with few capitals, little punctuation, and many incomplete thoughts. I am ashamed to call a spade a spade, but so be it.

On 11/27, she "placed an order" via a special phone call, asking me to make her an angel. In trying to figure out what she wanted and how I might do it best, it took a lot of prodding to learn that she wanted it of me so that she could give it to her current man. Just as it didn't matter to her that she was asking favors of my time to donate elsewhere and seemed to know it wasn't kosher, it didn't matter to her that I am not a portrait artist and that I couldn't do it in my preferred medium of pastels. I told her that it might resemble her somehow, but it wouldn't look like her. She said she was fine with it all and didn't care about the medium. She wanted it by the end of December, but I thought it best to do it right away. Actually, I was motivated to try my hand.

The next day, I emailed her a few times showing the progress of a practice drawing. I chose the pose because it would just be doing a head in profile, not a whole body, so it suited my meager talents better.

11/28 Cricket: I made some adjustments in the contrast. I need a good BW study before painting, so I'm just sorta letting you in on the process. Let me know if you like the composition.

I called her a few hours later and she'd already seen it, but had not responded. She said without any tact that she didn't like it at all. Because she is an idiot and cannot put real thoughts into words, I tried to pull from her what she didn't like - the composition, the pen/ink, size, what. The best I could get was that the hair was too big and the face too sad. I told her that the hair would be easy to remedy. The face to me looked humble and pensive, which of course doesn't suit her in the least (I only thought this), so I'd do my best to change that, but I don't do people, so what goes down is what goes down - I don't have a lot of control. By the end, she said it had grown on her.

The next day, I adjusted the wing size and did a watercolor, something I could easily mount to send her. So I emailed a scan.

11/29 Cricket: I want to darken the eye a bit, but this is your painting. I may define the wings more, don't know. I had an extra mat. This is 8x6 and the cream mat is 12x8.

Days went by, with only stupid, crapola, spam, inspirational email from her. Finally I took the lead,

12/2 Cricket: Did you like the angel watercolor? If so, I'll mail it next week.

12/2 Mother: I love you. I wanted Jack to take a pitcure of me at the angle of my face. We got buzy and didn't do it- Will try again on Monday. I have a fater face. I kind of looks like a man. Sorry. I have a date again today. We have talked on the phone 2-4 hours each nite. I like him alot.

12/2 Cricket: You are too picky. I am not a portrait artist!
[I had lost patience by this point and dispensed with the greeting and closing. Further, an angel with short hair tends to look like a man! I was just following instructions.]

12/2 Mother: you are doing me a favour I want the way I want itor name your price

What, free with donated mat and shipping, costs too much?

12/3 Cricket, with composing assistance from Luke: You're not understanding. That was my first ever watercolor portrait. I don't do portraits. In fact, that was my first watercolor in over five years.

I am a landscape artist. I work in pastels, but they need special treatment not suitable for what you want, quickie home framing.

I did the best I could and, without watercolor portrait training, I cannot do much differently. I can't spontaneously become a portrait artist, no matter how much you wish it. I'd thought an attempted representation, my interpretation as best told through my skill level, would be alright and I thought that's what I'd warned you of at the outset. Now you want more, but I can't give it.

Perhaps there is a portrait artist around there who can do a better job, but I can't provide you what you want at any price. I don't do people and you make me realize I do people even worse than I thought I might do people.

12/3 Mother: Cricket I am sorry that I ask so much of you and you don't feel that you can do it. You are my daughter and in my eyes you can do anything . I just asked for to much.. I know you are a great painter at what you do and enjoy. Please forgive me. Mom

I love double-edged apologies; they do wonders for my psyche. Fucking passive-aggressive bitch.

The painting sits on my desk and I have no idea what to do with it.

On Tuesday night, I emailed her pictures from the big, glamorous, special, exciting tour that my son, our little neighbor, and I took that day. I thought sending pictures might unruffle her and I would be extending the olive branch with hot off the press pictures of her grandson.

However, I got no response; instead I got another 10 idiot, inspirational, pass this along, bulk, BS emails from her.

This morning, I responded to one of the email crapolas:
12/7 Cricket: Did you get the pictures I sent?

To which she replied later Thursday morning:
12/7 Mother: from the big place--yes.

Rather cold, huh? I didn't have to send her the pictures. Makes it pretty clear where my sister's "what have you done for me lately" attitude comes from.

The whole thing reminds me when I was in HS and college. She would make plans to go out with her friends on the weekend nights. Part of her plans would be me, by default, babysitting for her friends' kids and me earning a cheap ass quarter an hour. Man, did she have a system for securing her and her friends' social life.

She thinks my time is hers to use at her disposal. I am merely an extension of her, a terrible parent trap. It doesn't matter if she thinks I am talented and she seemingly apologizes for giving me too much credit for things I don't know how to do. It's that she thinks whatever talent I have is open for her to apply to someone else in her life, in this case a new guy she's only been dating about three weeks.

She pisses the living fuck out of me.

How dare she: "you are doing me a favour I want the way I want itor name your price."

Yeah, I'll give you a dose of what you want right in the kisser.

PS - no consignment today - maybe tomorrow, but I've realized the stumbling block. When I did this before w/my wedding ring, they pried out the stone to sell separately and gave me the 18K setting w/2 trillions in a mangled heap; I have it in a baggie someplace. I don't want to see my beautiful platinum setting ripped apart, as I really love this ring, but I'm sure they won't want to sell the pieces as a unit. Need to get over this.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Holding out

It's been a while since I didn't have a fluffy post. I'm guilty. I've been the Artful Dodger again.

A week ago, I was breaking up with Luke. In the mean time, he told me, "I miss you," and it plum ripped the heart out of my chest. With him, I am destined for the potential of the head strong and tumultuous (two way street there, our personalities are so alike), although the last week has been calm, per my preference and request. No mountains out of mole hills produced. His sister thinks he was trying to push me away, because of being burned so badly in the past. He's comfortable with that line of thought and he seems to have let things go.

Apparently, there's a scene in "S1eeping with the Enemy" in which Julia R0berts peers in her cupboard and sees meticulously arranged rows of cans, a control-oriented habit she continued per the lingering preference of her overbearing former lover. The philosophy is that there comes a point that you have to mess up the cans and reclaim yourself - and he realizes that I'm not his crazy, ethnic ex-wife, so he's trying to mess up his cans. I do enjoy him using movie references all the time. He has a lot on the tip of his brain.

So, I've held out talking more about him, almost embarrassed and not wanting to jinx it, that things are good.

Tonight I'm holding out on the art class. Again, I am embarrassed at not going, but I couldn't find my bootstraps today. Took two very short naps - kind of like when I was in college and had 20 minutes between classes to catch up on shut eye. I guess I needed it, but it feels odd holding out on the art teacher. She's good to me, although she is a strange bird, a little too sappy sweet and with 3" of make up so she looks like a Toulouse-Lautrec painting.

I'm tired because my thyr0id doctor had made me lower and then gradually raise my thyr0xine dosages again - because I am now on BCPs. Oh the irony, but I was tired of the pain and extra bleeding, plus I'm 44 to boot and pained about being over the hill (see recent post). Apparently there can be an interaction between BCPs and thyr0xine level, so I have to fiddle to find the right dosage again, hoping that I don't explode again at Xmas in the process. However, my college-style naps and cold nose are probably because of the thyr0xine being too low, so it should pass.

Luke asked over the weekend about the BCPs, "Did you really go on them because of me?" Poor thing, he really takes his motility etc numbers to heart. Perhaps they're stellar, but not to my fucked up body. I am trying to not to do thyroid/antibodies research to learn perhaps why I couldn't reproduce again, but it seems most likely. I'm holding out on myself with that one, head in the sand.

Okay, I've been holding out on you on a couple other new developments. For one, I am consigning my wedding set from P - tomorrow, and hold me to it. My schedule has been so busy and I keep bumping it back, but I think tomorrow is the day. At this point, I'm a little embarrassed that it is momentous feeling, but it is. I miss him and football/tailgating/cooking Thanksgiving/hanging out even as I don't want him. It is momentous, too, because I fucking love that ring and wish I could convince some other guy that it'd be okay to use for some hypothetical future marriage. heh

I've also been holding out on a new diagnosis. Yeah, I needed another, but I am officially ADHD. I received the diagnosis through doing some fancy electronics, something the psychologist is doing pro bono for lucky me. Otherwise, this course of treatment would be over $6000. Next month, I should be able to sleep and focus. My brain will no longer turn off, bombarded with sleepy waves, when I try to concentrate. The new and improved will blow us all away. I have hope where I've not hoped for anything in a long time. No more meds, no more side effects, chains gone.

And I am trying hard not to regret what I might have been if my brain had been corrected 30 years ago. Let not the same fate happen to my son. Let ex's latest get rich quick scheme work so my son's brain doesn't continue to fall asleep at the wrong times, too.

Lastly, I've been holding out about my volunteer project, which has been both rewarding and tedious. It comes to a head next week and I hope I can speak coherently in front of a crowd. Maybe I'll talk about it more when it's over. I am glad to have done it, have honored the ones who did it before me, have provided great opportunities for many children, and have run myself ragged, but in a good way. Next week, after the invitations and medals and certificates and displays and cake, then I'll relax. And probably do it again next year. I won't hold out that I'll do any different.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A new hobby

I learned this weekend about another type of Cricket, besides me, Spit's cat, the British batting sport, and the insect. Cricket is also a form of darts. Perhaps you are a bar fly and knew already, but I am slow to the world of darts, regrettably so, as it is something I've wanted to learn for some time. Now I know. I could see Luke or my son and I going to play.

For my future reference:

Additional rules and ways to play Cricket
More types of darts

It occurred to me that a set of darts would be the perfect Xmas gift for Luke - something to do together, isn't too personal, is generic without being cold, and hey! I could keep them if we break up again before Xmas. If I do buy some, perhaps I'll invest in this extra set of flights:

[Shoot, I cannot get the picture to upload.]

Click here.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Friday, December 01, 2006

Portraits of a Chinese man

These are five rendentions of the same man, the vantage of each artist moving from his right to his left. Click any to enlarge.






Class only lasts about two hours. I'm pretty amazed at what we can accomplish. This man was so sweet, almost 70 and sitting there with his iPod and listening to Tchaikovsky.

For this being my fourth pastel portrait, I am happy with the outcome and can see significant progress.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Female clicks

These are interesting links relating to women.

Want to live to be 100? Be the first born child of a young mother. Her eggs must be better.

You are what your grandmother ate. The mechanism for genes being expressed comes with programmed instructions, with gene expression being altered by diet.

Want to be mind-bendingly intrigued? Check out some photoshopped masterpieces newly redesigned for jest advertising. My favorite is half way down: Frida with the broken spinal column and dozens of nails poking in her skin photoshopped as an advertisement for Advil.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I pulled out the watercolors and did an angel painting. Instead of looking sad like my mother's interpretation of the sketch, this one looks like she has a sense of humor, I hope. I think her expression is pretty motherly, as in chiding while laughing at a child.

I have a kinda elegant off white mat that suits it. This is 8x6 and the frame w/mat will be 12x8.

I would like to work a little more on the wings, but I don't know what. Suggestions welcomed on that and all else. Although it doesn't show up here, I did use irridescent medium on the halo and wings.

I have never done a watercolor portrait before. Portraits are so hard to do, something I was not able to convince my mother of on the phone because she enthusiastically, yet wrongly, thinks I can do anything. Overall, this is only my fourth portrait ever. It resembles my mother a little, not much. The hair is smaller per her request, so perhaps she'll be happy.

Fat chance.


Click to enlarge. It makes a difference.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

For my mother, sorta

I am busy to the gills with my mental turmoil over my father's family and wondering what I'll do about Luke, plus my volunteer job has come to another head. My project is going beautifully, but it is full of details involving lots of people and I'll have to really perform soon.

In the mean time, my mother called this morning and asked for a kind of performance as well. Her new "friend" collects angels and she wanted a rendering of herself as an angel so she could give him one, as he has called her an angel.

So, here's my sketch. I am doing people better. I am doing darks and lights better. I won't be able to do this in pastel, because it'll be zippy shipped and framed, too casual a treatment for picky soft pastels. I might do it in watercolor with ink, maybe just one or the other.

Anyway, if I post it, you will hold my feet to the fire to complete it this month, right? She first called it a favor, then called it a commission. What do you want to bet that she likes my rendering of her and she wants one for herself? It kind of looks like her, well, more than it doesn't look like her. She'll like the youthfulness.

ETA: Of course she hates it. The hair is too big and she thinks it looks sad. I said it looks flowy, elegant, pensive, and humble - none of the things she is, but I call it artistic license. I asked about the composition, because facial and hair details will change whether I want them to or not (I'm not that good to be able to duplicate) and she couldn't say what she wanted. She'd given me free reign. Ug. Then she finally said it's growing on her. If I reduce the hair. Fine. I told her that this is what she gets, having an atheist drawing an angel.

I need more stress. A bit ago, I sent a defining email to Luke, not breaking up, but definitely slowing down.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Rains ... pours

My grandfather is dying of lung cancer. He found out over the weekend when my grandmother took him to the ER. He was not a smoker, however when one inches toward 90, something has to do you in, I guess.
I was very lucky to meet/know several of my great grandmothers, one even living until after I'd graduated from college. I lost my first grandfather when I was over 30. Very lucky, I've had three grandparents since then, although I've not been particularly close to any of them.
Of all my grandparents, this grandfather is one I like the best as a person. He is a sweet, gentle, kind person who has been hen pecked to oblivion by his wife. Grandparent-wise, I was actually closest to exMIL's father; we shared a special relationship and I balled when he died shortly before my own.
They're supposed to call the oncologist about my grandfather today, but not much is expected. At least he's not in pain right now; he's complained of a general malaise for some time and that's why she finally took him to the ER. He just plain didn't feel well and had no appetite.
I learned today that my grandmother had a triple bypass in October and my newly retired father has been spending weekdays at their home, his sister coming on weekends. Before yesterday, I had not spoken to my father in two years or my own sister in one. They frustrate me too much and I feel better without their influence, but I was thrown back into the fire yesterday.
My grandparents have been in decline for some time and my father is having my grandmother evaluated for A1zheimer's this week. It would be quite strange to me that both of my grandfathers die of lung cancer and both of my grandmothers linger because of A1zheimer's.
I hate this stuff, especially on the heels of my mother's dog dying because my mother went out of town to visit her sick brother. I don't want to go out of town and leave or even travel with my 18.5 yo cat; I have more loyalty to her than my own family. Norma offered to help while we were out on our walk today. I couldn't go visit my family for long, because I couldn't afford the hotel. It feels awful to contemplate a trip to your hometown and have no place to stay; everybody else has moved away except for my exMIL. She'd welcome my son and I, but it'd be so weird.
Okay, I'm not depressed. I swear.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Imagine this

You've stayed at someone's house for perhaps a week total over the last month. Although you generally do not drink tea or coffee because an unceremonious glass of tap over the sink suffices, you have made that someone tea regularly per his convention and have had some yourself. In that short amount of time, you realize that one small mug, a sort of composite plastic one, gets very hot in the microwave. After finding that out, you once even boiled the water in another mug to transfer to this one. The blue one is light and smaller, so the "standard" two minutes in the microwave is entirely too much and you wish the "House Standard for His Highness' Tea" were adjusted by someone to account for the physics of cup composition, cup weight, cup size, and the resulting variance in amount of water contained and heated.

Imagine that you are fully dressed one morning, occupied by the sink on the other side of the small galley kitchen, and without your knowledge someone has used the overheating mug in question. All the while, you have assumed, with it being someone else's possession and with someone else living there for a year, that someone was aware of the limitations his own slight mug. And you felt it not your place to point it out, because who are you with only three weeks on the job total? And you didn't want another mountain made out of a mole hill again, aka the song and dance that you feel something about a given subject and then are given in return a litany about why you shouldn't feel that way.

Suppose someone grabs said mug in the microwave, reacts to the heat of the handle, knocks over the mug, and boiling hot tea spills all over the counter and floor. Suppose that you're the only one in the kitchen with shoes on, but you step back and adeptly on your own avoid all harm. Suppose someone else who is right next to the microwave is in skivvies, barefoot, with the great savior with arms flung out to shield the peons behind him, that someone only really needing to save himself.

After the mess is cleaned up by the someone causing it and by his insistence to not have help... oops, let's go back to the discussion about the still hot mug and, as it turns out, its companion from the cabinet. Suppose you remarked that the cups will go in the trash, right? And suppose you were met with a tap dance, then rationalization that he could give them to his boys to play with when they visit on holidays/summers. Imagine saying that the mugs could recirculate to the kitchen to be potentially reused, that they should be in the trash, that they are dangerous. Danger, Wi11 Robinson, danger. That finally sinks in and the mugs go into the trash.

Round Two. Now it's time for the replacement cup of tea. It was prepared in a more substantial mug and put into the microwave for the standard two minutes. Suppose you were standing next to the microwave when it beeped at the end, and you joked, "I'm going over there," indicating a proposed move to the opposite end of the kitchen.

How surprised would you be if someone got over your joke? If someone felt made fun of to the very essence of his being? Suppose someone then said in all seriousness he saved you the last time and you should be grateful?

This someone, who requests that people be thick skinned enough around him that he's allowed a bad day, is so routinely thin skinned that everything can be misconstrued to bother him. It is explained that you joking about another potential tea catastrophe is akin in his mind to a scenario he hears at work and you are then considered callous with a poor sense of humor demeaning people.

At work
Guy 1: A A A A SChhhhhheeeeeewwwwwwwww
Guy 2: Hey, man, do you have pneumonia? If you die, I get dibs on your chair.

You joking that you'd go stand by the door is in the same vein as a banal person jokingly wishing a guy dead, something that someone does not take lightly. Someone considers low humor to be too low, but seems to generalize low humor much too broadly. And what he's missing is that joking about the chair really means that you value/like/care enough about the guy enough to be able to joke with him about his chair. It implies a sense of humor.

I think someone must have been picked on too much as a kid and there's not a damn thing that anyone else can do about it. I think it was lovely going to the ba11et with him and it warmed my heart how excited he was to be there, leaning up in his seat to peer over the edge and see the orchestra as well. It was magical. I told him that it was my best gift ever and him enjoying it made it even better.

But as expected, we fought beforehand; we fought afterward, too. The ba11et was magical because he had his mouth shut and he wasn't criticizing me in list format. In fact, as I was leaving shortly after the tea episode, I said, "At least the ba11et was good."

I thought it would be over today, but I couldn't do it with my son around. I left stuff there that I want back. Soon.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Boots made for walking

Although I am not a shoe hound, I do have two pair of low black boots and two pair of knee high brown ones. You'd think I'd have mixed it up a bit, but they were pretty much sale-driven purchases.
Despite the fact I don't expect us to last much longer and, of course, I'll discuss that later, going out with Luke has made me dig out shoes. A year ago, I was very unhappy, felt like a cow, and could care less about footwear. I've been a bit more motivated this year.
Most of my shoes are unceremoniously stored under my bed and my son dives under there with a flashlight for me periodically to fetch "black with heel" or "black without heel but with buckle" depending on the occasion.  A week ago, as I was digging through my clothes trying to find something, anything that fit and matched, I began pulling out the tall brown boots to evaluate them. Specifically, I was trying to coordinate an outfit for church last Sunday. Couldn't look too much like a harlot or a heathen.
I held up one of each type of tall brown boot and asked my son which one he preferred. It was so evident to him, there was no question.
"Just look at them, Ma," he said, incredulous that I didn't already know. "This one, um," as he pointed to the mock croc skin, "looks like death and isn't the point of church life?"
Where does he get this stuff?

Everyone is raving about the all-new Yahoo! Mail beta.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Warm fuzzies

This morning I dozed on Luke's couch as he readied for work. When he was leaving, after he'd coordinated our outfits for the evening to match, he stuck he head back in the door and said how excited he is about tonight.

(If you saw his hands move, his eyes twinkle, his smile, his small stature, and our coordinating outfits, you'd, too, wonder if he's gay. I'm glad he's not, so I can hit on him effectively.)

Although he even emailed later about making sure to coordinate his shirt/tie with my sweater/skirt, I can't exactly say he's excited by the ba11et per se; his point is taking me to someplace to do something I really want to do. He's begun trusting me that what I like is good. He'd balked a bit ahead of time on some elements of my Thanksgiving spread, but he loved them when it came time to eat.

(Food-picky Norma came, too, and loved it, too, although I'll admit was put out a bit that nobody helped cook at all - even after being asked - and nobody set the table or helped clean up at all. Bastards.)

On Thanksgiving evening, I like to go to a movie. Norma had gone home, as her purpose was to get a lot done on her day off, but Luke didn't want to see the new Will Farre11 movie. I insisted. I said, "Trust me," and he finally did. He beamed afterwards, liking it even more than I and thinking I have great taste. Actually, I was so tired from the cooking etc (oh, just let me play martyr for once, people, plus the turkey kicked in), I had to fight sleep, so I didn't think it quite as good.

I'm not so good at thankfulness and often forget that's the purpose of the day over creating the perfect dinner that is all hot at the same time. Son aside, I will readily admit sometimes it's hard to find things to be thankful for. At least I had good company - although between Norma and Luke, I got my dose of religion for some time. I let them talk, but I did interject once or twice that moral and ethical people do not have to have religion. Norma insists that my religious background is what make me moral and ethical, but I countered that it has been the way I always was, me dragging my family to church when I was five. That was a call for the structure of good, not any inkling of religion itself.

But thankful? I don't know. I'm truly embarrassed, but I'll confess the day made my heart ache for P, with whom I'd cooked the last two years and felt very appreciated. He told me last year that I made his house a home and it makes me cry still. Yesterday, I'd worn a wooden necklace I'd gotten in C0sta R1ca with him and it got lost, not sure if it was at the theater or at Luke's. I didn't even look for it, beyond my hair and shirt. I guess it could be a message from the Universe, huh? I think that's what my therapist would say. (To be clear, I also wore earrings from my sister, who I haven't spoken to in over a year, so the necklace associated with P was not alone in my carrying my sordid past along.) Nonetheless, I am sure that P had a hole in heart yesterday, too. I don't wish that on anyone. I dread Xmas day.

Overall, that's not to say Luke didn't appreciate me being there and cooking - he was kind of weirded out b/c his ex is foreign and he had to do everything with her all the time, so he's not used to being done for. I needed a shade of gray with his help, but he feared coming in the kitchen and taking over, so it was black or white to him in helping. I'm glad this finally came out after the movie, b/c I understood the day better. As we'd prepared for Norma's arrival, we had parallel play while he picked up his piles, much more than was necessary - gosh, this guy can dally more than me - I am constantly trying to keep him on task - and I My.martyr.hands.still.smell.of.garlic.

Luke is a kind, dear man, but I am still stumbling over my past. Unfortunately, his past is even more present than mine and I was a pained witness the other night to an extended conversation he had with his ex, someone he has to finesse to milk any cooperation, which feels to me like him cowtowing and I hate to hear him that way, although he wants to in order to see/protect his kids. I think she's dicking him around and I also think he needs to get a handle on it, regardless of who the future women are in his life. It's not fair that a 10 minute check in with his kids turns into a semi-nightly additional 30+ minutes with his ex wife.

There's always another layer to the onion, huh?

I don't want to revisit my past, though. I hope the necklace is gone for good. I guess I need new memories to replace the old. And I am working on that, as is he, regardless of whether we're doing it for each other.

At the end of the evening, as we talked to clarify things and I understood how his actions didn't really match his emotions, I told him it was a wonderful gift to give a warm fuzzy, especially when cooking at Thanksgiving is a natural thing for me to do. It is very special to be able to give that just doing what I am good at. With all he's been through, he deserves a warm fuzzy, but I do, too. Mine comes tonight in color coordinated outfits.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Getting my way

When Luke said he wanted to see sights around town, I asked what he might like to see. He said that more than anything he wanted to see what I had not yet seen, but really wanted to. [melt]

That's what led us to the art gallery on Saturday. I have a few more of them I've ignored too long. There are also a number of museums I've yet to take in. He said that if they're kid-oriented, we should save them for when his kids visit, but he'll see the more mature ones with me.

Honestly, I could take the man to the poor house for all the activities I want. I've warned him of as much.

This weekend, we're doing something I have wanted desperately to do for many, many years. We're going to a famous ballet put on by a famous company at a famous place. I've only been to one other real ballet, Swan Lake over a decade ago. For this one, I've seen it in live action on stage and even in puppets. My son even has a computer program of it. Now I will see this piece the real way.

It is the best gift he could have given me. Xmas has come in a little Lat1n package.

Happy Thanksgiving, people. I'm cooking. Grub is at Luke's. My son is with his father, Norma's is with his father, so I'm trying to get her to come to Luke's, too. It'd be good to walk after a big dinner.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Mop Memorial

My mother's dog died yesterday morning.
My mother had flown out on Thursday to visit with her brother in the windy Midwest. I've mentioned before that her brother was found to have colon cancer and had surgery this summer. He had quite severe complications, additional surgeries, paralysis, physical therapy, and spent over 90 days in the hospital.
My mother really needed to see him.
My mother really didn't want to board her dog to go visiting, but she did. She said her 14+ yo shitz tzu, Nina, was bounding around like a pup Thursday morning. Nina loved when the weather turned cooler. About five years ago, my mother feared Nina's quality of life was too low; she was in arthritic pain, but prednisone did wonders and it gave her five more years.
My mother's flight was early Thursday, so she had a friend take Nina to the vet for boarding. Somewhere in the transition, nobody gave the vet the phone number where my mother would be. The dog, who did not like going to the vet, went into cardiac arrest very soon after arriving.
She was not a sweet or cuddly dog. She was a pain and liked to inflict painful bites to mother, vet, groomer, grandmother. I'm not sure if I ever even touched the dog. Nonetheless, my mother loved her.
The vet, who really thought ill of my mother for not visiting her sick dog, misunderstandings abounding, kept Nina alive through the weekend, making special trips in to check on her. He said he knew she was ill because she didn't try to bite him once. When my mother arrived to pick her up Monday morning, the vet pulled her aside and gave her the news. He told her that he feels like the stubborn dog lived only to see her return.
My mother took Nina home and snuggled together with her on the couch. Nina got down eventually and asked to go outside. She definitely had her wits about her. Then my mother put her back on the couch and my mother heard her gasp, knowing it was the big one, Elizabeth. My mother took her back to the vet and tough little Nina still had a faint heartbeat, but my mother asked that she be put down.
My son made her a card last night. I'm not sure what else to do. I feel like my mother is so lonely because her best guy friend moved away over the summer and my grandmother is withering away with A1zhimer's. I know she doesn't want another dog, but sometimes I wish we could move down there to give her some company.
With my cat now rounding 18.5 years, I understand the dilemma between having a life and caring for an aging pet. I've not visited family in other states because I do not want to disorient my precious cat.
I am so sorry about Nina and what she meant as a companion to my mother. She said they gave her flowers at work today, so I'm glad they're there for her.

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Our three sons

After the movie on Saturday night, we were driving home and I was pointing out sights, one of which was a pool hall that I took my son to a month ago. Luke asked if I wanted to go, so we did. We lucked into seats at the bar directly in front of the TENNIS TV!
We'd both really enjoyed the movie and things were good, despite the military gate stuff from earlier. After regaling about too much tennis, I began talking about my son, something about his grades. During the parent-teacher conference, I learned that he's doing well this year, above grade in math, science and social studies. He's on grade in reading, as expected. I said to Luke that his reading, although it has improved, really frustrates me, because he'd probably be in the gifted program if he did better, that it's kind of a waste that he's not allowed to do the other subjects in the gifted program.
Luke replied bitterly, "Do you know how painful it is for me to hear about your normal son in light of my own? Do you understand how much I wish my son was getting good grades and able to do well in school?"
At birth, Luke's eldest had flat-lined and needed a c-section. Luke was told the boy would not make it, but he did. With years of therapy for his developmental delays, he has thrived, but he is apparently still a little slow, although I can't define that any more completely. He is reading on first grade level, right where he should be. Of course, I have not met the boy, but I know how hard Luke fought for his care (mom wouldn't even take him to the dr or therapist) and how successful Luke has felt with the progress. (Further, Luke's younger son has tested positive for a grave disease, but has not exhibited signs of it. From what I've read, it can come out of dormancy at puberty. It's not a picnic with either of his kids and it weighs heavily on him.)
But he had another thing coming if he thought I would roll over on that nasty comment to me about me talking about my son. I told him he needs to get a grip that I am not comparing kids. My son had a bad placenta and, if my water had not broken early, my son might well have the same or worse. Of course, Luke's take is that it didn't happen, so I didn't really earn that martyr's feather in my cap, my words.
Further, I told him he does not need to resent my son for being an agreeable, easy kid. Luke had lamented how my son is good in art, makes friends, plays sports, whatever and does things his son is not so good at, apparently. I honestly don't know how to read the filtered data I get about his boy - I'd thought that reading on first grade level in first grade is pretty good - my son read on K level for the first half of first grade.
Anyway, I told him that I've been through the resentful before. I had the good kid, ex-f had the bad one, as much as I hate such statements. My kid was easier to love even by ex-f and he was easier to be around and plan things around than a teenaged girl. So, for being easy and easy to love, my son was ultimately resented by ex-f. And if my son ever misbehaved, all hell broke loose in kind of an open season on the otherwise good kid.
Luke understood.
I also told Luke proactively that he needs to wipe out resentment that he could potentially feel just because my kid is local and he could possibly be around my son more than his own. Will his loyalties be divided when he falls for my kid? How will this play for the holidays/summers when his kids are around? How step-childy could this become?
Luke understood.
I told him that I will not stop talking about my son, positive or negative. I told him that his comments were out of line. Exasperated, he asked what could have been done better with his words, because he didn't see any other words to express his feelings. I said that he could just listen to me get out what I needed to get out and he could bring up his own line of discussion the next day so that it didn't feel like a comparison. I had the floor, I was talking about my son - he was the one bringing up his own. His agenda was not the issue at hand from my perspective. Apples and oranges.
So he asked if there was any better way to phrase his comment if he did not want to wait. I said there would have been a means of eliciting some empathy instead of hackles just by saying, "You are so lucky that your son is x,x,x,x and x. I wish the same for my son(s)." While this is not perfect (ie, I had the floor, so it would be preferable to redirect another line of comments to later), it would have gotten a little different response out of me. I do not want to feel deflated for bringing up my son.
Man, we sure have condensed some hot issues into this mini relationship of ours. And we still don't hate each other. In fact, Friday night after going to four bars/dance clubs and while we were still at the last one, he was gazing into my eyes (all total we had two drinks each, so it wasn't hazy gazing), he said, as he is prone to do, "I want to say things that I should not yet say."
We've both criticized the 'L word' and how it comes up too quickly. Guys will say it to me within a month or two. Luke said he recently got the "you would be so easy to love" comment on a second date. (Jeez, was she wrong! He's a PIA!) He feels strongly that anyone using the word too early doesn't really understand the emotion. So, we are both very conscious of not going there, not rushing further what has already been rushed.
He'll be gone 10 days in mid-December and then I'll meet his kids over Xmas. Absence and then combining kids, those will be the real tests.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Visuals from the weekend

Luke and I saw 007 on Saturday night. Stellar and deserving of 95% + on Rotten Tomatoes. It was so crisp and gritty. Danie1 Cr@ig wasn't the wussy, awkward type that the media had falsely portrayed when his role in this movie was announced. He was perfect, sexy in an nontraditional way.

I wasn't so crazy about the love interest, Eva Green. I didn't see her deserving of the exaltation to Bond Girl status, but she a good job as an actress. I really didn't understand her at the end, though, but that's a script thing.

For earlier on Saturday, Luke had wanted to do some sightseeing, my choice. I took him to my favorite small museum. The exhibit was unique and we were both glad to have seen it. Then we went down the block to a large art museum I had not visited before. For him claiming to not know anything about art, he had keen powers of observation. Plus, he listened when I tried to teach him some art history. I really appreciated that.

In between the museums and movie, he wanted to make a stop on a government installation. With me not having a military id card or my vehicle registered, we had to stop and get a visitor's pass. Of course, the guard felt like my proof of insurance was too old (it was), so he said I'd need it faxed on a Saturday evening from my insurance company. Yeah, right. Luke got on the phone with my insurance and it got ugly. Then it got uglier. He didn't like my behavior, but he had not come clean with what had happened on the phone, so I didn't have all the facts at my disposal. He also didn't quite understand how much I really despise military things.

Later, when he brought it up to discuss (b/c the guy can't let anything rest), I asked him to see my dynamic - long time military wife w/a marriage ruined by the "mistress" of her husband's job and gyped out of retirement in the process, who feels accosted when trying to enter a military installation. So, when I say "I fucking hate this shit," it is not based on a single incident or a lack of exposure. I've hated this shit for years. In fact, over the last four + years, if I were approached by a military guy, I'd turn tail and run. Luke is a first there and he had to prove a lot to me to get there.

The military lifestyle is a hot button to me pushed too easily. I had told him these things, but he had not seen them in action. Plus, he doesn't blame me for feeling like I do, not in the least, he just didn't like my reaction to that "fucking shit." BTW, we never made it on the base, because the insurance phone directory led nowhere and I wasn't willing to go through all that again with the grocery store closing momentarily anyway. That was another bad choice on his part; the stop was superfluous, frustration unnecessary.

Do you know that when you enter a military post and, depending on the whim of our color coded American life, that when they make you open all the doors/hood to your vehicle, it is done only under the convenient guise of terro.rism? We are actually sheep, baaing 'yes sir' to the little man with all the power while he is actually looking for loose hand guns or other weapons. It's not terror1sts they're after; it's instead a 'free' ticket for them to search you, the law abiding citizen. It is a complete affront to me and my civil liberties. One could say that one should choose not to go on a military base, however, in another hot button issue to me, scouts do their camps on military bases, so parents and volunteers have no choice but to be subjected to it.

Luke is well versed on all these matters with his previous positions. He simultaneously is adamantly anti-war and later constructively expressed to me that I put my energies about government intrusion into something more constructive in that venue and do it along side him. Good resolution.

We had another heated discussion after the movie concerning our kids, but I'll save that for another day. Suffice it to say that we, the hard headed couple, really do take direction well from one another. We discuss and generally resolve without lingering feelings of disdain.

Oh, and I went to church on Sunday with him. I thought the sermon was entertaining fluff (it was actually based on Earl's notion of karma), but Luke said he heard nothing he could grab hold to. Typical. We didn't fight too much about it, but he needs to realize that if he wants me to suck it up and go to church with him, he fucking better like it.

Another oh. He's trying to get me to quit cussing. I am shaking my head.

Ending on an up note: Luke, who'd heard me refer to Uncle Fest3r, asked me which character he might be, I immediately replied P3pe L3Pew. He didn't seem to mind, so it'll have to be one of the things I get him for Xmas. I began calling him P3pe.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Weekend visuals

Of minimal importance to world peace, but, man, was this index entertaining! I looked at almost every one. NSFW or K(ids)
Have a great weekend.
Who is your favorite?

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ABCs of me

[A is for age:] 44

[B is for beer of choice:] Sam Adams, if not Guinness Half and Half

[C is for career:] Mostly mother, often volunteer, artist in passing lately

[D is for favorite Drink] Black Russian

[E is for essential item you use everyday:] Toothbrush

[F is for favorite song at the moment:] Hello It's Me, Todd Rund.gren, from 1972 has held that spot ever since I got my old analog clock radio for Xmas and would stay up all night listening to music. I learned that I cannot fall asleep to music.

[G is for favorite game:] Yahtzee, which my son and I have been playing a lot lately - it's how I learned math, so he can, too. I always hear echoes of my grandmother grumbling, "those damn twos." Or alternatively Trouble. Or Connect Four. Or Monopoly. We're board game people around here.

[H is for hometown:] yes, I have one or three

[I is for instruments you play:] When I was a kid, I took clarinet for a year, then the accordion for two years. I still have the accordion and sometimes it comes out to be squawked at Xmas.

[J is for favorite juice:] orange - I have an orange juice gulp reflex and it takes all my will power to not down the entire glass thing immediately.

[K is for kids?:] one son

[L is for last kiss?:] juvenile and wet with a big fishy pucker, just a bit ago

[M is for marriage:] once, but no longer, yet dating a man married three times, who swears against it happening again while simultaneously admitting he said that the last time - whatever - I don't need a ring - and I don't need to even be thinking of such

[N is for full name:] Cricket Cricketson, if you must

[O is for overnight hospital stays:] As an asthmatic kid, I stayed in an oxygen tent for a week when I was in K. When I was about 30, I stayed a week because of a myriad of symptoms that were not given a diagnosis, except to say I learned I had endo six months later. Then I had a few days in the hospital when my son was born.

[P is for phobias:] none

[Q is for quote:] "You're not very bright. I like that in a man." Kathleen Turner to William Hurt in Body Heat [which is in direct contrast to how I feel, to be clear]

[R is for biggest regret:] I waited too long to have children, okay, back that up a bit... married the wrong guy.

[S is for sports:] tennis, football, baseball

[T is for time you wake up:] 8:20

[U is for color underwear:] usually yes and all my favorites are blue

[V is for vegetable you love:] spinach if cooked in something like artichoke dip or spoon bread

[W is for worst habit:] picking

[X is for x-rays you've had:] mouth, neck, lungs, arm/wrist, CAT abdomen x2, BE, IVP, HSG, trying desperately to avoid another round of colon invasions

[Y is for yummy food you make:] I make a stellar turkey.

[Z is for zodiac sign:] Leo, although I am not very fussy about my hair

What about you? What are your ABCs? Link to yours here.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Luke lives about 15 minutes from me. During rush hour in the early morning, it only turns into 25 minutes. Pretty good.

Overlapping with visitation, I've stayed over on two Wednesday nights and one Sunday now. It only took 20 minutes today, but when I rolled up, J was getting out of his dad's van. Jeez, I was embarrassed. Busted.

To his credit, ex didn't act as if anything was out of the ordinary. When we were gathering stuff up to take it in, J asked me where I was. I pretty much told him the truth once we got inside, that Luke and I had watched a movie (C0nstantine) and it was on until 1am, so I just stayed over. That's pretty much the truth and he accepted it. I'm glad he met Luke over the weekend, so it doesn't feel random. Actually, it probably feels pretty good because Luke had a donut craving last night (whatta guy!) and I asked him to buy J one for this morning. Now that was a hit.

This scenario, however, supports ex's contention that I live a "Singles Lifestyle" with all being free and easy. This contrasts strongly with the "Wife and Kid Lifestyle" he sought probably with a reduced capacity for judgment about his own real need for a "Singles Lifestyle."

Alas. I'm a big girl, huh? Unlike Luke's situation, ex and I chose not to have a clause in our divorce prohibiting the opposite sex from sleeping over. (This could be an issue/non-issue over Xmas when his kids come and he wants to keep us on the down low so the youngins don't report back to Mom like they did during the summer.) Lordy, I never expected ex to be the one to do that drill first anyway. Except for once in the Spring when P slept over and J came back from visitation, crawling into bed with us (per his usual modus, so I made sure we had on drawers), the overnighter has not been an issue around here. Last night was kinda the opposite, anyway.

However, Luke is wanting it to be an issue, or at least to try to be sneaky about it. I am accustomed to being a free agent and only visit during visitation, but Luke feels hampered by that. He wants to come here for dinner and Monopoly, for example. He wants a real relationship and has discovered my walls, my ill-placed boundaries. He's willing to help me fix things around my house so I'll be more comfortable doing that. He is a treasure.

Another reason he's a treasure. Last night, I had him set up as the face-only model for my art class. (If I know you, I'll send you a copy. Even though it was only my third portrait, it was the best in the class. Woot!) He was dog tired, but he's a trooper. In fact, he was offered OT for two hours at work, which translates into comp time, something he's saving for his boy's visits, he declined because of his plans with me.

I am touched on so many levels. He kept a promise to my class and teacher. He used those two hours with me instead of saving them for his kids down the line. He chose me over work.

For my marriage, the military was the mistress. I didn't stand a chance. With P, his daughter was the mistress. I thought we could co-exist, but he didn't have the backbone for that. I have found a man who values our time together and doesn't (within reason) want to put something ahead of me. Priceless.