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.