The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Once Upon a Time

Well, here goes. You may want to buckle up. There's still a pretty significant risk of random lane changes and high-speed babble. Feel free to bail at any time.

When I was a kid, I used to read alot. Growing up with C.S. Lewis and Rudyard Kipling and Roald Dahl and Frank Baum and James Barrie for company. Often feeling a little like Matilda when it came to relating to my family.

As I got older, my tastes changed. Didn't help that I got busy developing a social life. Between school and friends and various activities, I wasn't reading as much. People took the place of my imaginary companions, and music took a much more significant role in my life, too. Perhaps that is all healthy. I'm not sure. Looking back, I can say (with some regret) that I don't remember missing books, then.

They weren't completely gone. I found I was still spending time with writers like Isaac Asimov and Madeleine L'Engle and Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen King and (forgive me Highlander, I was young) even a little Terry Brooks. I'd read in spurts. Spending a couple weeks holed up in my room until the outside world would not be kept at bay any longer. Once I opened that door and let the rest of my life in, the books took a backseat to rollerskating, going swimming, catching a movie, being with people.

During my college years, I was studying. And when I wasn't studying, I was partying. Recreational reading took an even bigger hit. I'd go months without picking up a book that wasn't required reading. I remember feeling guilty. Feeling as if were leaving something important behind. Something far more important than my keys. Still, my life was so full of stuff that I justified putting books aside. Something had to give, right?

My life slowed down a little in the years after college. I remember picking up Marion Zimmer Bradley's MISTS OF AVALON in '83, and enjoying it quite a bit. Working nights at a laundrymat, made it easier to pick this hobby back up. And, once I had, I found I'd missed it more than I'd realized. It was then that I tackled Tolkien and Moorcock and Auel and McCaffery and Orwell and Bradbury and so many others that I can't remember. Working nights in an environment where it was often "slow" afforded me the opportunity to read alot. Also, most of my friends were either still in school or working during the day, so I had quite a bit more "free time" on my hands, too.

Reading helped me fill it up. Mostly sci fi and fantasy, but also a heaping helping of horror and mysteries as well. Of course, I still found time to hang out with my friends, but I was glad to have this part of my life back. Very glad.

Always, I have been drawn to libraries and bookstores. Feeling and smelling the volumes lining the shelves. Row after row of them. Combing through them all looking for something new. Something perfect. Sometimes finding it. Sometimes not. But, always being impressed by books and awed by the textual images that filled them.

When I got married and started having babies, well, I pretty much turned my life over again. Putting aside my own reading in lieu of Dr. Seuss and H.A. Rey and many, many, MANY children's books. All of my recreational reading was done in tandem. A tot in my lap, or lying beside me in a bed, as I did it. No regrets. None. I was introducing them to something that I deeply loved. And I willingly put my reading aside, again, to help them with theirs.

Not reading so much to the older two anymore. Little bit is reading herself, now. It won't be long before these days will be behind me, too. I'll miss the bonding and sharing desperately. I will not miss the one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish" quite so much...;)

Thoughts that maybe I'll have a little time to read for myself again, have started creeping in. Likely, the hundreds of books that are in my home that I've never read could have something to do with it, too.

Let me share a little secret. Many months ago, when Highlander was still in the Land of the Hurricanes and I was here in River City, living in a small apartment, but feeling very lonely, I used to fantasize about him reading to me. In my mind, we had a blanket wrapped around us and I was snuggled in the crook of his arm. It didn't really matter what he read to me. It was always something enthralling. It felt very warm and safe and...right.

Mentioning it to Highlander seemed silly. Not that he hasn't seen that side of me often enough. I just couldn't find the time anyway and decided it was something for farther down the road. Tomorrow. Like so many other things.

A couple weeks ago, he was reading something in bed. I leaned over and asked him to read to me. He gave me a look. One of those "are you being serious?" looks. I'd been reading the book over his shoulder anyway and I just thought it would be easier. And, well, you know, I had this fantasy thing, too...;)

And so, because I'd asked, he did. He was in the middle of John Varley's RED THUNDER and it didn't matter. Not one bit. I loved hearing about Travis and Jubal and Jubal's crazy family. I loved hearing the inflections in his voice when he read it. I loved sharing the book with Highlander. Silly, though it sounds. I was filled with such warmth and it felt just as wonderful as I knew it would.

He finished that book alone, later, at work. I'd wanted to hear how it ended, but I will go back and read that one on my own. Sometime...heh.

Interestingly, what happened is that Highlander enjoyed it, too. He'd had no idea that it was something I'd enjoy so much and, well, he takes great joy in making me happy. Could be that he liked sharing that with me, too. I'm not completely sure.

Rather than looking at it as a one-time thing, however, he gave a little thought to it and decided that it was a chance to share some of his most favorite novels with me. Consequently, for the past couple weeks, each night when we go to bed, he reads to me. Depending on how tired I am, sometimes it's only a few pages. But it's a book that neither of us reads other than when we can do it together.

Right now, he's sharing Lois McMaster Bujold's TEST OF HONOR with me. I'm having a hard time waiting to read it until bedtime. I find myself wanting to sneak read to find out what is happening next. I'm not, though. I think he's enjoying sharing it with me, as much as I'm enjoying sharing it with him. But I'm getting almost as bad as my six year old about wanting someone to read me a story every night when I go to bed.

Ironically, at a time in my life when I still feel guilty for taking time for myself to read, rediscovering what I've been missing has me regretting letting that part of me lie for so long. Twisted, huh?

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Draining My Brain

Ever since I started blogging, I find I have all this random stuff floating around in my head. It's always been there. Just that I never really used to pay alot of attention to it before. I mean, I knew it was there. Stuff like, "remember to lay some meat out of the freezer for dinner tonight," or "I forget when that doctor's appointment is and I should call and check on it." Things that kind of swim in and out of my conscious awareness. The not-so-critical cranial clutter. You ignore it while you can, deal with it when you have to, but you can't seem to let go of it completely until you do. Or at least, I can't.

Anyway, now I find that when I want to focus on something, so that I can blog on a specific topic, all this random stuff starts rushing to the front of the line, interfering with my intended purpose. Do you writer types deal with this, or is it just me? Cause if you do, how do you put up with such aggravating non-topical bullshit?

Last night, for instance, I started a post that I'm still hoping to get up here later today. I was upset because I'd just broken my FAVORITE vase (a delicate little thing with hand-etched flowers on it...simply lovely) and Highlander had kicked my butt at three consecutive games of Magic. Now, NONE of that is what I had wanted to write about last night, but I couldn't get around it. It was like this HUGE barricade trapping all of my relevant ideas behind it.

I'd try to focus and then my mind would wander back to when, exactly, I got the vase, various flowers I'd kept in the vase, how I should have played something differently in game two, and so on and so on and so on. ARGH!!!

Finally, I saved what I had written, made a few notes about some points I didn't want to forget, and figured I'd finish it today. Work stuff is slipping in a little, and some tentative plans for this weekend that I need to get finalized, but most of today's mental melange is related to testing of the civil defense sirens. From the sound of it, they are in the parking lot outside my office. Okay, probably not, but they are obviously nearby. They've been testing them for like four hours now. No exaggeration.

With Highlander posting stuff from his favorite woo-woo sites, my focus goes to far weirder places than "What the fuck are they DOING to those things???" I start wondering if we'll ignore them (assuming more testing) when it's the real deal. I mean, it's not as if anyone warned us about this today. And, frankly, I'm only assuming it's testing. Hell, maybe there's some serious shit going down right here in River City, and I'm sitting here blogging.

Again, though, NONE of this has anything to do with the post I want to post. I'd very much like my brain to cooperate. I just don't seem to be able to will it to do so. Any suggestions will be appreciated. Otherwise, well, it's certain to be reflected in the next post you see, and nobody wants that...;)

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Schoolhouse Rock

Ever since Opus blogged about this...

Schoolhouse Rock preamble School House

I can't get THIS song out of my head...

School House Rock Im I'm just a bill SchoolHouse

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Checking the Mail

Guess what I had in the mail today? A letter from my state Senator, that's what!

It would be considerably cooler if it looked something like this...

Dear SuperFiancee:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the recently debated stem cell legislation. I appreciate you taking the time to share your feelings with me on this very important issue and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

While this is, in addition to being an historic opportunity to improve the quality of life for billions of people, a highly charged emotional issue, I found your letter compelling. I was moved to put aside my own personal beliefs and vote in accordance with what is in the best interest of ALL of my constituents.

President Bush's veto was disheartening, but not as much as the House of Representatives' failure to overturn it.

As it is clear that the majority of my constituents value the scientific research that is being gained in this area, I find I MUST be the voice of those I have been elected to serve. ALL of those I have been elected to serve.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. I hope you will continue to keep me informed of the issues that are important to you.


Harry Lickspittle
U.S. Senator

...instead, only the first and last paragraphs above are from the actual letter. The main body is considerably different. A great lot of moralizing on how stem cell research is profoundly unethical and how he simply can't bring himself to vote for advancements that would expand it.


It's just wrong.

For the Bible tells us so.

This fella has been a senator for many, many years. He's moved up well in the party and his seat is quite comfortable.

I will, once again, cast my vote elsewhere when the time comes. Truth be told, I have NEVER voted for him. Could be why my opinions don't carry much weight with him. Certainly, my party affiliation must be 'askew', as far as he is concerned. I suppose the fact that he had one of his lackey's respond to my letter should be all that a democrat has coming to her.

Talking to a wall is tiring sometimes. Doesn't mean I stop doing it. Just means it's tiring.

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Batmobile Toy commercial from the 60's

Okay, I SERIOUSLY cannot stop laughing.

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1971 Rock Flowers Doll Commercial

A little early Flashback! Scary as it seems, I had these dolls. Worse, I dressed like these kids!

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Monday, August 28, 2006

'Fess Up

I know this is one of you guys.

Just not sure which one.

Somebody needs to own it, though.

Come clean now and a free sphygmomanometer could be yours!

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If I bleat when I speak it's because I just got fuckin' fleeced.

Alma ain't the only one mourning events in Deadwood, gang. Another good episode last night. But a season finale? A SERIES finale??? Uh uh. No way.

Highlander and I CLEARLY not the only ones disappointed in what was handed to us after the monumental build up to the conclusion of this last season. All over the blogsphere, there's this and this and (heh, even) this.

Copping out, after how wonderfully well-written and rich this journey has been, was an option I never saw coming. I worried that Milch would have to rush through it. With so many threads dangling and so much yet to accomplish, I hoped that it would be a two-hour show last night. Alas, that was yet another dream never to be realized.

So much time and effort wasted on the Langrishe troupe. A storyline that just went nowhere. Kinda like Aunt Lou's son, Odell...and the Earps...and the build up of men (Al's vs. Hearst's) on both sides. Yes. I admit it. I wanted him to tie it up all pretty and put a bow on it. It was the last one, you know. And if he did, well, what would that leave for the movies that are supposed to be coming next year? I don't know. Maybe a "Deadwood: Trixie and Sol Wedding Celebration" or "Deadwood: The Night Hearst Came Back".

There were things that just never sat well with me last night.

Things like why we never saw any preparations for Hearst to be leaving so quickly. Aunt Lou wasn't busy packing his shit, instead she was getting Richardson ready to vote. I could see him wanting to get out of harm's way before the throw down (you know, the throw down that never happened), and the wisdom in keeping that information confidential, but when it happened, it just kind of seemed like Milch looked at his watch and said, "Shit, there's only ten minutes left in the episode, what are we gonna do with Hearst?" And I felt very cheated.

In the Character's Stepping Out of Their Norm category, it seems strange to me that Bullock didn't have any more problem with Al (or anybody else) killing Jen? Bullock. Overlooking a murder. Okay, he's Sol's friend and Sol wouldn't have liked it either, but it would have been more preferable to him than Trixie getting her throat cut. Things like that just don't sit quite so easily with Seth, though. At least not usually.

I was glad to see Wu in the last episode. Even if it was ever so brief. But no Doc? Not even a little bit? C'Mon??? And, is it me or has his "cough" been getting better? Does he live? Does he die? Maybe that's "Deadwood: A New Doc in Town."

Anyway, I'm a little let down today. Sad that my favorite show is done. Glad, though, that I've got all the episodes to watch again sometime. Mad that Milch cheated me (and the rest of you cocksuckers) out of what was rightfully ours. A series finale that was equal to the quality of the rest of the series.

Now we wait and see if we get a movie. That is what we're doing now, right? Augh, talk about aggravating!

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Being Bad

I was a pretty good kid. I don't say that to be immodest. I didn't get into much trouble as a youngster. My teen years a little more. The first two years of college, well, probably best we never speak of them. Or at least not use them as a basis for comparison in this regard. Mostly because the memories are spotty at best. I have never been, though, what my parents would have called a "bad girl". Until lately.

For one week a month, the week when my children are with their father, I can do whatever I want. And sometimes, I do. I mean, hey, the only person at risk of my 'bad influence' is Highlander. And, well, he got a pretty big headstart on that without my help.

* I've been known to stay up WAY past my bedtime on a weeknight watching trashy tv. (This weekend it's been a great lot of Justice League - Season One and Angel - Season 4. I rented Angel - Season 4 from a video store last Thursday evening and picked up the JL disks knowing Highlander hadn't seen them and would enjoy them.)

* I've eaten ice cream as a meal. Or popcorn. Or both. (Not this weekend though. Leftovers for dinner tonight.)

* I've stayed in my pj's for 24 hours. (Almost there as I type this...)

* I've [explicit sex scene deleted] in the middle of the day, right in the living room. (I would elaborate here, but what happens in the living room, stays in the living room.)

* I've slacked off and done little or no housework. (Big slacking this weekend. Only one load of laundry, grocery shopping, some dishes and baking some choco chip cookies. All the rest has been deliciously, decadently slackdilicious!)

* I've played cards until the wee hours. (Okay, 'wee hours' for me is midnight. I probably would have played on into the night last night, but Highlander was a sleepy boy. For the past week or so, he's been reading a delightful novel to me and before either of us got too sleepy, we wanted to get some of that in.)

* I've surfed the net instead of making the bed. (Go look. Right now. Bed completely mussed. And me without a care about it. Okay, not much of a care.)

The weekend when the kids leave for a week has always been a difficult one for me. For nearly two years now, I have ached each time they hugged me goodbye. I have spent that first weekend missing them desperately. Walking from room to room and wondering what they are doing. Where they are. Hoping that they are happy and having a good visit with their dad, but wanting them here with me and counting the days until their return.

Having Highlander in my life has made that first weekend more bearable for me. Some weekends he has to work harder at it than others. Some weekends he has had to hold me while I've cried until I couldn't stop. Never once telling me to 'buck up' or 'calm down'. Never once making me feel weak for being emotional. Never once making me feel inadequate because I need him.

I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am for his love and support. Always. But, especially during these difficult times. Before he was here, I would spend the weekend sulking in my apartment alone and feeling so very sad. I don't imagine this part of my life will ever be easy, but I cherish the fact that I have Highlander to help me through it.


THIS weekend I've been trying to show him what that means to me. A little breakfast in bed for him. A little waiting on him hand and foot. A little this. A little that. A little something to show him that I adore him. And appreciate him. That every Saturday and Sunday when he has had to prop me up, or distract me, or just hold me, have meant something to me. Have been important to me. Every one of them.

I love you, Highlander. Even when I'm being bad...

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Friday, August 25, 2006

The 28 Rules of Manhood

I'd like it understood that I claim no authorship of the following. It was simply forwarded to me and I am reproducing it here in order to help the female readers understand what we are dealing with, and help some of you metrosexual men see the errors of your ways. Without further ado, I present...

The 28 Rules of Manhood

1: Under no circumstances may two men share an umbrella.

2: It is OK for a man to cry ONLY under the following circumstances:
(a) When a heroic dog dies to save its master.
(b) The moment Angelina Jolie starts unbuttoning her blouse.
(c) After wrecking your boss's car.
(d) One hour, 12 minutes, 37 seconds into "The Crying Game".
(e) When she is using her teeth.

3: Any Man who brings a camera to a bachelor party may be legally killed and eaten by his buddies.

4: Unless he murdered someone in your family, you must bail a friend out of jail within 12 hours.

5: If you've known a guy for more than 24 hours, his sister is off limits forever unless you actually marry her.

6: Moaning about the brand of free beer in a buddy's fridge is forbidden. However complain at will if the temperature is unsuitable.

7: No man shall ever be required to buy a birthday present for another man. In fact, even remembering your buddy's birthday is strictly optional. At that point, you must celebrate at a strip bar of the birthday boy's choice.

8: On a road trip, the strongest bladder determines pit stops, not the weakest.

9: When stumbling upon other guys watching a sporting event, you may ask the score of the game in progress, but you may never ask who's playing.

10: You may flatulate in front of a woman only after you have brought her to climax. If you trap her head under the covers for the purpose of flatulent entertainment, she's officially your girlfriend.

11: It is permissible to drink a fruity alcohol drink only when you're sunning on a tropical beach... and it's delivered by a topless model and only when it's free.

12: Only in situations of moral and/or physical peril are you allowed to kick another guy in the nuts.

13: Unless you're in prison, never fight naked.

14: Friends don't let friends wear Speedos. Ever. Issue closed.

15: If a man's fly is down, that's his problem, you didn't see anything.

16: Women who claim they "love to watch sports" must be treated as spies until they demonstrate knowledge of the game and the ability to drink as much as the other sports watchers.

17: A man in the company of a hot, suggestively dressed woman must remain sober enough to fight.

18: Never hesitate to reach for the last beer or the last slice of pizza, but not both, that's just greedy.

19: If you compliment a guy on his six-pack, you'd better be talking about his choice of beer.

20: Never join your girlfriend or wife in discussing a friend of yours, except if she's withholding sex pending your response.

21: Phrases that may NOT be uttered to another man while lifting weights:
a) Yeah, Baby, Push it!
b) C'mon, give me one more! Harder!
c) Another set and we can hit the showers!

22: Never talk to a man in a bathroom unless you are on equal footing: i.e., both urinating, both waiting in line, etc. For all other situations, an almost imperceptible nod is all the conversation you need.

23: Never allow a telephone conversation with a woman to go on longer than you are able to have sex with her. Keep a stopwatch by the phone. Hang up if necessary.

24: The morning after you and a girl who was formerly "just a friend" have carnal, drunken monkey sex, the fact that you're feeling weird and guilty is no reason for you not to nail each other again before the discussion occurs about what a big mistake it was.

25: It is acceptable for you to drive her car. It is not acceptable for her to drive yours.

26: Thou shalt not buy a car in the colors of brown, pink, lime green, orange or sky blue.

27: The girl who replies to the question "What do you want for Christmas?" with "If you loved me, you'd know what I want!" gets an Xbox. End of story.

28: There is no reason for guys to watch Ice Skating or Men's Gymnastics. Ever.

We've all heard about people having guts or balls. But do you really know the difference between them? In an effort to keep you informed, the definition of each is listed below:

"GUTS" is arriving home late after a night out with the guys, being assaulted by your wife with a broom, and having the guts to say, "are you still cleaning or are you flying somewhere?"

"BALLS" is coming home late after a night out with the guys smelling of perfume and beer, lipstick on your collar, slapping your wife on the ass and having the balls to say, "You're next!"

We hope this clears up any confusion,

The International Council of Manhood, Ltd.

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Flashback Friday!

Thinking about parenting styles/skills lately has me remembering a story from my adolescence. As it's Friday, I thought I'd offer up some thirty year old Flash today. No cameras, please.

Last chance to cover your eyes.

This is my dog. (Well, actually, this is a picture that looks just like the dog I had when I was twelve. Play along, okay?)

His name is Snoopy. Not terribly creative or cutesy, I know. I'm not like some huge Charles Schultz fan or something. Just that my sister and I couldn't come to any kind of agreement on a name and finally, after days of endless suggestions and useless negotiations, we just settled on Snoopy. Sometimes, even though he was a "he", when I was feeling particularly goofy, I called him...Snoopeth Ann. Yeah. I know. Be glad you don't live with me, even though my goofiness is a rarity.

Snoopy was Beagle/German Shepherd mix. Mostly, to me, he always looked like a short German Shepherd.

We adopted him from our local pound, after a great deal of begging from me and my younger sister. We'd wanted a dog sooooooo badly.

My parents don't like animals. Well, except when they're cooked, I guess. (Though, I'd like to qualify that by saying they don't like cooked dogs.) So, it was no small feat that we were able to mind-control persuade them into agreeing to let us have the dog in the first place. Of course, we had to promise to walk the dog and water the dog and feed the dog and the dog was our responsibility and they weren't to be bothered with or by the dog.

My sister and I shook our heads, crossed our hearts, and promised the moon and stars. Al the while, inside we were ecstatic at the thought of having this dog to love and take care of and play with. Giddy, that's what we were. Positively gleeful.

Our backyard was fenced and, as it so happened, the previous owners had left a little red doghouse in the corner closest to the house. It was ready-made for our canine addition to the fam.

Things with Snoopy started out well enough. My sister and I loved playing with him and walking him. All summer long we had a ball.

When fall came and we had to feed him before we left for school in the (already too early) morning, that's when the first grumbling came. Neither of us wanted to get up earlier and clean out the dog's dish and refill it and get his water. Ugh. Couldn't he wait until we got home???? Our mother was having none of that. We'd agreed to be responsible and it wasn't his fault that we had to go to school. She resorted to logic and replaying our promises. What a diabolical thing to do!

As winter came, going out into the cold to do it became even more of a bother. Often the dog's water dish was frozen over and we'd have to crack the ice on the top of it to empty it. And it was cold out!! We weren't playing with Snoopy as much. I remember asking my mom if he could stay inside with us over the winter and she adamantly opposed it. No dogs in her house. Not now. Not ever. I'll give her that. She's kept firm to those rules.

By spring we were busy riding our bikes and doing other things. Snoopy was all but forgotten in our backyard. Forgotten, that is, until...

I remember walking home from school that day. It was late in May. Nearly the end of the school year. It was sunny and so very warm outside. As I approached our house, I could see something very unusual in the backyard. It looked as if the entire backyard had been covered by a pristine snowfall. Apparently a very 'localized' snowfall, as it didn't appear to have snowed in any of the neighbors' yards. And, well, odd that it would snow when the temperature was in the 80's, too.

Peering over the fence, I could more clearly see what had actually happened. It wasn't snow at all. (I'm sure that comes as no surprise to you. You are, after all, great with wisdom. There's simply no fooling the likes of you.) It was foam rubber bits. And they were scattered over the entire (very large) backyard. Not one blade of grass was showing through anywhere.

Snoopy was back towards the back fence with something in his mouth and he was shaking it violently. I didn't recognize it at first, but the more I looked at it, I soon realized that it was one of the cushions from the chaise lounge that had been sitting on our patio. When I looked to the spot where it normally sat, I saw that the cushions from both of the chaise lounge chairs and two OTHER chairs were missing. Obviously, missing in action.

I'd like to say that some kind of bomb blew the cushions up that day. That it was not Snoopy's fault that we had to shovel our backyard that May day. But I can't. Not definitively, anyway. Without more facts, the only hypothesis that seems to make any sense is that if you take one bored dog + one sunny day + four foam rubber filled cushions, you might very well get something that looks a great deal like a snowfall in your backyard in 80 degree weather. Oh, and it doesn't melt.

I found it kinda cool. Honestly. I thought it looked amazing. And wanted to play in it.

Mom? Not so impressed. After the screaming stopped, my sister and I were handed trash bags and shovels and instructed that not so much as one piece of foam rubber should be left in the yard.

After a couple hours, we became more and more impressed (though less and less interested) with just how much foam rubber had been stuffed into each one of those cushions. If you have no experience with this, let me tell you, it's astounding. You don't ever want to have to clean it up, but it is something else.

When we started the task, Snoopy was sulking in the corner near his doghouse. Oh, he'd gotten a dose of my Mom's ire, too. We tried to tell him that we knew he didn't know any better, but he didn't seem particularly comforted by that. Like us, he knew she was pretty pissed.

Eventually, we'd met the challenge and had bags and bags and bags of foam rubber bits to put out by the curb. (We couldn't leave them in the backyard or we'd just be doing this again...and we were CERTAIN we didn't want to do that.)

The sleep of the dead overtook us that night. Exhaustion from such hard work, I'm sure. When we awoke the next morning, we naively went off to school and into our day.

Arriving home that afternoon, we found the backyard gate ajar and Snoopy was nowhere to be found. My sister and I began to panic. She began checking around the neighborhood, I called my Mom at work. Her response to my angst at the loss of my dog, "Well, one of you most have left the gate open and let him out. You've been told to be careful about that." I realize that makes my mother sound a little cold. Mostly, she's not.

I knew she was still pretty angry about the lawn furniture, and probably wasn't too sad to see him gone, but it hurt that she was displaying nearly no compassion when we were so obviously sad. She had no suggestions to help us find him, so I let her go, grabbed my bike, and headed out to see if I could find him.

My worst fear was that I would find him. Lying dead by the side of the road somewhere. That thought scared me badly. Thankfully...very thankfully...I never did find him like that. Sadly, though, I never did find him at all.

After several sleepless nights spent crying because we missed him, feeling remorse for having left the gate open, worrying about whether he was hungry, or hurt, or even dead out there somewhere...after a week's worth of afternoons spent riding our bikes out farther and farther looking everywhere for him, asking anyone and everyone we saw, hanging up Lost Dog signs all over the mother realized we were not going to give up easily.

It was then that she made a startling revelation.

We'd just come in from a couple hours of canvassing the area and she was just getting home from work. We shared with her that it had been ANOTHER fruitless expedition. She looked at us and told us not to keep looking. I'm sure we looked confused, but she elaborated.

Angry about the cushions that the dog had destroyed, she had called the pound and had him picked up. She instructed them to "leave the back gate ajar so that it will appear that the dog has run away" opposed to us assuming that our mother, who loved us, would have our dog sent away without telling us, and then lie to us and make us believe that he was gone due to our own negligence.

That deception took me a long time to get over. There are still times that the hurt comes back. Less that she did what she did to Snoopy (which I find unseemly, don't get me wrong), but more that she would play that kind of head game with us. It was the first time I ever remember thinking to myself that when I had kids of my own I would NEVER do something like that to them. NEVER.

We never saw Snoopy again. And I'm not sure about my sister, but I know I never looked at my mother the same way again. Even thirty years later, I can still vividly remember how stunned I was that she had done something like that to me. It gets better, but it never goes completely away. It's like touching a scar and having the memories of the wound come flooding painfully back. On some level, it stays with you always.

Parenting is always a difficult, and often a treacherous, journey. EVERY parent makes mistakes. The best you can hope for is that they are mistakes that don't leave permanent damage. My mother made mistakes. She, like every parent, did what she thought was right, and did what she believed was the best she could.

Experiences I had as a child made me want to strive to be a better parent. I wanted to be a mother who would be open and honest with her children, and who wouldn't engage in psychological games. I felt it was important to protect them from some of the hurts that were inflicted on me, and I felt it was entirely possible to do so.

I'm certain I've made parenting mistakes along the way, please don't think I believe otherwise. My own children will tell you that I'm tough. They will also tell you that I'm fair. They might tell you that I'm a little strange, too, but you shouldn't listen to that part. What's most important to me, though, is that I have their love, their trust, and their respect.

I hope all of you have a most excellent weekend. Highlander and I will have to find something to do alone, as my girls are headed back for a week with their dad this weekend. I'll miss them terribly. In fact, even though they're not gone, I already do. It's nice to know, though, that wherever they go, they always carry a part of me along with them.


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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Dude. Check This.

Not a big fan of Tool. But when I saw this site I was reminded of a Tool video that scared my kids. Sure, introducing kids to your music is way cool, but some of the lyrics just don't seem like fodder for lullabies. Could be me, though.

I can't say what I want to,
even if I'm not serious.
Things like....
"Fuck yourself,
kill yourself,
you piece of shit."

Now, the products are advertised as child friendly. To do that, they've removed the lyrics from your "favorite music". I suppose that part was unavoidable, huh? Bummer for the folks that dig on the lyrics, though.

I should
kick you,
beat you,
fuck you,
and then shoot you in your fucking head.

Apparently, they tone down the instrumental, removing the driving bass lines and heavy drums, and use more kiddie-friendly instruments and tones. Elevator musak?

I had a friend once he took some acid
Now he thinks he's a fire engine
It's okay until he pisses on your lighter
Kinda smells kinda cool kinda funny anyway

satan, satan, satan...

But wouldn't you, as the parent wanting to introduce your child (at an early age) to music that you, yourself, enjoy, be tempted to sing along even if the lyrics weren't on the cd? Like this rift from "Prison Sex".

Got your hands bound, your head down,
your eyes closed.
You look so precious now.

I have found some kind of temporary sanity in this
shit blood and cum on my hands.

I've come round full circle.
My lamb and martyr, this will be over soon.
You look so precious.

It's so catchy, how could you help yourself? Even if you didn't sing along, wouldn't YOU still know what the songs were about? Some little secret to keep from your child, perhaps?

You know you're gonna have another accident?
You know I'm involved with black magic?
Fuck you. Die. Bastard.
You think you're so cool, hm? Asshole.

So you can reconcile how you feel about the lyrics, but how do you feel about having the instrumentals "babied down" for the new audience? I mean, if the whole point is to share music you love with your child, doesn't changing it defeat that purpose?

Just remember I will always love you,
Even as I tear your fucking throat away.
But it will end no other way.

Now, they do have some Beach Boys and Nirvana and a few other bands that might not be quite as rough as Tool.

I've just got to wonder, is it really so wrong to throw a little "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" at your kid? For a while, anyway? Not that you couldn't introduce him/her to the Classics According To Mom and Dad a little later. I'm just saying.

For the record, the Classics According to MY Mom and Dad had a lot of Conway Twitty and Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs in them. And just look what it did to me.

Parents, think about this stuff. Because, some of those marks never go away.

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About Damned Time

Not that any of you have been up my butt to do this, but I've been so incredibly remiss that the guilt was eating at me something fierce. Oh, I know it doesn't look like it has, but you should see how thin my wrists and earlobes are!

In any event, I wanted to note, with some fanfare,

::doot doo doo doot::

...that you will see several new names on the list of blog links to the left.

It's not that I don't read you guys regularly and point folks there when I get the chance. Just that I haven't updated my template in ages. Oh, I keep meaning to do it. I'll say, "You know, I've got a few minutes, I should add so & so's blog to my link list." With the best of intentions, I'll sit down at the computer and...and...and...I'm just easily distracted, I guess.

However, due to the shame I felt reading T-Bone's blog today, I wanted to take what I wish was more time (at least then I could better justify the delay) to rectify the situation.

So a belated "Welcome!" to the following folks:

Relative 'newbie' Lisa Gibson's Riding the BiPolar Express, is a wonderful mirror to her hubby's Abject Conjecture. I'm really happy to share my "rookie" status with her, too! With Mark blogging so seldom these days, it's nice to keep up with the haps from the north, via Lisa's spin.

Opus P. Penguin's talented (and often poignant) writing style can be found at Rooting for Gargamel, and frequently in my comment threads, as well. How come Highlander's ex's are so much nicer than mine? Oh yeah, he has EXCELLENT taste in women!

Motherhood, culture, cuisine, humor, politics, and the ever-popular slice of life stuff...a little bit of everything is what Spider Girl dishes up at Spider Girl's Blizzogizzle. I'm always jealous of her travelogue stuff. She definitely makes living fun!

If longtime commenter Your Girl Friday weren't off at wild parties all the time, she'd be wroth with me for leaving her Sweet Nothings...and such off of my blog link list. She's a very sweet kid from down under and such a nice girl you can't help but love her!

When I started this blog, almost all of my links were to fellas. Texas T-Bone is the only guy in the new inductee group, this time, though. Something tells me, he won't complain TOO much about being the only guy in a group of lovely and articulate women. Always something witty to say. Sometimes on purpose, even.

I'm sure I'm leaving out a few folks, but I'm thinking maybe I won't wait so long before adding some names next time. In the meantime, though, you should check them out. All of them.



Leave them comments.

Thank me later.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Getting Girly

It's getting harder and harder for me to blog on the weekends. Weekends when I have the kids, there's always something going on with them or someone needs my attention or I'm doing laundry (ALWAYS) or cooking or cleaning something. Once in a while there is sleeping. Weekends when I don't have the kids, there's always something going on without them or I'm doing laundry (ALWAYS) or cooking or cleaning something. Man, it's hard to work full time and keep a family running.

Not that I would ever trade it.

As hard as it gets sometimes, there are moments that make it all worth it, plus put some in the bank for the times when you are looking up the number for gypsies in the phone book while packing some kid or another's stuff.

Want a confession? (Heh. Like I haven't made enough of those around here!) I'm about the least girly girl I know. A couple of my female "real world" friends who read this blog are laughing out loud and saying "No Shit!" I know lots of things. And I know some girly stuff, too. But, it's not my forte'. Not by any stretch.

My fingernails are kind of longish right now and I was thinking, last week, that maybe I'd polish them over the weekend (yeah, that's how NEVER I do that) and do [Kid 3]'s at the same time. Toenails, too. When I mentioned it to her, she decided that we should do each others' nails. Uh huh. [Kid 3]. Who is six years old. Hard to back out of that one.

Now, [Kid 3] is the queen of fashion shows and hair styling and all things girly. I shan't argue that. But [Kid 3] (who tried to cut her own hair at school last week, btw) is NOT a licensed cosmetologist and has never worked in a nail salon one day in her life. Not one.

As I said, I'm not particularly girly, so my expertise at doing my own nails is quite limited, anyway. Her enthusiasm was so contagious that I simply couldn't decline her very sweet offer.

So, Saturday morning, she started. "Are we gonna do nails now, Mommy?" "Not now, Sweetie. Probably late in the day. We've got a lot of running around to do today and I need to get that done before we'll have time to do nails."

I had to get a few more items of school clothes and some medical items and the grocery shopping and I can't remember where else we went, but we didn't get back to the house until 3PM.

(Oh, hey! One of the errands involved me getting my VERY OWN, really cool, sphygmomanometer!!)

As soon as we got back home, though, "Is it time for makeovers, Mommy?" "Sweetie, believe it or not, I've got to start cooking dinner. It's a dinner that takes a lot of time today and I think the best time for us to do nails is gonna be after that. I don't want to mess them up cooking after you've done them for me. Why don't you help me cook tonight?"

She's actually an excellent sous chef. Following in the footsteps of [Kid 2]. She rubbed the dry spice rub on the ribs for me, as I got the eggs and potatoes boiling for my potato salad, and together we started on the chocolate chip cheesecake I was making for dessert.

I was in the kitchen for about 3 hours non-stop on Saturday. She didn't hold out quite as long. As [Kid 2] doesn't like potato salad, and had been asking me about potatoes au gratin for a couple weeks, I threw together a small batch of that for her. I thought it would work with the bbq ribs and corn on the cob I was already planning. You've no doubt heard the legend of my potato salad...LOL!

After dinner was finished, the kitchen, as you might imagine, was a disaster area. I would say that FEMA was knocking on my back door, but we all know they won't be there for another week or so. Anyway, I wasn't even up from the table and she started another round of "Is it time, YET???" "Let me clear the table and start some dishes and then we can do it. Why don't you get things together in the living room and I'll be there in a few minutes?"

By this point, the manicure/pedicure plan had turned into a full-blown makeover. [Kid 1] and [Kid 2] thought it sounded like fun, too and wanted to join in. Before I knew it, I had a girly glam party on my hands. The kids asked me if I thought I could talk Highlander into letting us make him up. (There is something that girls find quite mischievously joyous about putting make-up on a man. Why is that?) In any event, I had to shut that down before it ever grew (hairy man) legs.

With one of Highlander's comfy afghans on the floor, my girls and I sat in a circle and [Kid 2] decided that we could work on each other's hair in one direction and then we'd switch and work on each other's make up in the other direction. Of course she thought that sounded like a marvelous idea. [Kid 2] wasn't going to have a six year old working on her in either direction.

There is something about sitting on the floor with my kids, just laughing and cutting up and getting as silly as we can get, that lifts my heart like nothing else. Highlander took a ringside seat, pretending to busy himself on the nearby computer. I know he was jealous, though. Even if he was acting like he was ignoring us.

I ended up having my nails done by [Kid 3]. Thick globs of bright pink (and, yes, pink IS my favorite color...but...but...) glitter nailpolish and then she did a matching theme, coating my eyelids with a white glitter paste. It's an interesting look for a woman my age (or a man my age, I suppose). The other two girls were laughing so hard at me, that the glitter became a mandatory addition on everyone, as we competed for the worst make-over.

With my hair poofed out and my eyes stuck open from the glitter paste on the lids, I'm sure I was doing a pretty good impression of what Marty Feldman would look like as a drag queen. I'm here to testify, though, that every one of us looked pretty damned bad.

Yesterday, as [Kid 3] rode her bike out in front of our house, I spent a good half hour out on the front porch with some cotton balls and a bottle of nail polish remover. It was HELL getting that stuff off! Never trade it, though. Never. I have such fun with them. And I love knowing that they have such fun with me, too. You better believe that THAT keeps those readings on that new sphygmomanometer looking better than anything else!

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Flashback Friday!

Another week. Another opportunity to do a little historical analysis of my life.

With school starting and the end of summer drawing nigh, I've been thinking a little about my summer camp days. (Talk about days of yore!) Not sure where this will end up, but, hey, I hardly ever do on Fridays. So pack your knapsack and grab some calomine lotion, and join me for another Flashback Friday!

Just saying the words "summer camp" can evoke such vivid images and memories for most people. Campfires with roasted marshmallows, pillow fights, mosquito bites in places you can't imagine getting bitten in.

In trying to remember exactly how old I was when I went, I found I had to do some cranial gymnastics. I guesstimate it would have to have been the summer just before I turned 13. My younger sister would have been nearly 12.

By that point, I'd done a little (very little) overnight camping with the girl scouts, but I'd (like most first time summer campers) never really been away from home for a week before. I was pretty excited about the prospect, though.

In my mind, I suppose I was expecting some swimming and archery and arts and crafts, maybe. I really had no idea what to expect as my younger sister and I, and a WHOLE lotta other young girls that I didn't know, boarded those buses to head off to some rural Kentucky wilderness.

Cue the banjo's, please.

As we arrived at lovely Camp Earl Wallace, everyone (myself included) was filled with excitement and anticipation for our week ahead. From the buses, we were herded onto the bleachers around the ballfield for a brief orientation lecture and then we were assigned to cabins where we'd spend the next week.

Pulling a little data from the Department of Fish and Wildlife's current website, I want to draw your attention to the camp activities. For the record, they are virtually the same as they were ::ugh:: thirty years ago, when I spent a week there myself.

Camp Activities:
Scheduled hands-on activities include:

Boating and Canoeing,


Wildlife Identification,

Outdoor Survival Training,

Firearm Safety (rifle and shotgun shooting),

Hold on there a minute. Ten, Eleven and Twelve year old kids shooting guns? Um, Yee Haw! You betcha!!

Now, to dissuade you from thinking this is some kind of scary hillbilly version of summer camp, their list actually goes on to include fishing and swimming as well, and completely eschews whittlin', juice harp lessons and the distillation of moonshine. (Though I find that incredibly hard to believe!)

And, back in the day, our group dabbled a little in the arts and crafts. Though nothing quite as elaborate as this popsicle stick inlay masterpiece. I'm pretty sure we were doing dreamcatchers and picture frames out of our popsicle sticks. Rebecca made a birdhouse, as I recall. But there was noone else in her league.

Our counselors (who were actually college kids and looked nothing like the dashing fellows to the right) got us all settled into our cabins and showed us around to the showers/bathrooms, the dining hall, the "Canteen" (where you could get junkfood and postcards and souvenirs), you know, all that kind of stuff.

I remember meeting a girl named Jill Gilbert, the very first day, and the two of us became the best of buddies that week. We swam together. We learned first aid together. We sang in the talent show together. And yes sirree, boys and girls, we shot guns together. Young girls bonding through firearms. That brand of girl power might be just a little southern. I'm not sure.

Feeling that shotgun kick my shoulder the first time, and knowing the power behind that load of pellets shredding the paper target in front of me was, indeed, an eye-opener.

Now, my father has been a decades long gun collector and recently got his smithing certificate. I was never able to express to him, after returning home that summer, how shooting that gun had made me feel. The feeling of simultaneously being invincible and dangerous and vulnerable.

He loved firearms and I simply wasn't the "radical child" (that I would later become) in those days. Much later, when I became a more outspoken advocate of gun control, he expressed his displeasure by framing and hanging a picture of Charlton Heston (then NRA president) on the wall next to the framed photos of his grandchildren. Thankfully, that picture is now gone. Not so thankfully, it's been replaced by an autographed photo of George and Laura Bush.

But, I digress.

When my oldest two were of age, they brought home literature about summer camp from school. I chuckled to note...

that it was the same camp.

Feeling all nostalgic, I signed them up. Thinking all the while about the fun they'd have swimming and canoeing and singing around the campfire...and about the guns. Surely they didn't still do the guns. I'm here to tell you, folks. They do. At least they did as of about 4-5 years ago when my oldest went the last time. Given that it's still listed on their website, I'd have to imagine it hasn't changed even now.

Surprising to me that, in the aftermath of all of the "school shootings", this wasn't removed from the list of activities for liability reasons by their insurance carrier. I mean, you ARE handing a loaded weapon to an adolescent (and potentially hormonally-charged) child who has had no psychological testing prior to being accepted at camp, and from whom you won't be able to wrestle it until at least SOME damage has been done. A camp full of potential lawsuits is just standing around waiting to be picked off.

As for my summer camp experience, I enjoyed myself. Rather thoroughly, in fact. And I found it quite educational, too.

I learned to drive a motorboat.

Learned to get in and out of a canoe without tipping it.

Learned I'm no good with a bow and arrow and should not apply to the women's Olympic archery team. Evah.

Learned that guys aren't the only ones who need to be careful about dropping their soap in the showers.

Learned that people have the best intentions when they say they'll write and you'll always stay in touch, but life will often derail that train.

Learned that I sometimes talk in my sleep.

Learned that camp talent shows (like the school ones) are most often popularity contests. (Not because I didn't win, but because the kids who should have won, didn't.)

Learned that when you run out of spending money, the guy running the "Canteen" will let you sweep up for a few pieces of candy or a soda.

Learned that bussing 200 girls into the wilderness sucks all the peace and quiet right out of the place.

Learned that I FAR prefer swimming in a "cement pond" than I do a lake full of fish and turtles and algae and other things that I can't see that ::shiver:: touch me under the water.

I learned that sunburn really, really, REALLY hurts and that it should be avoided at all costs. Also, I learned that Noxema feels really good on sunburn, but that the smell will create a lifelong olfactory memory.

Learned that some girls, even in the presence of only a handful of MEN, and no boys, will still stuff their bras.

I learned that no matter how big a crush you had on the counselor who taught boating, he was still 21 and was not remotely interested in a twelve year old kid. Especially one who couldn't even be bothered to stuff her bra.

Learned that, in the woods, the air does smell different and the birds do sound different and the sky does look different. Or maybe that was me.

Learned how to bait a hook on a fishing pole and how to cast a line. I never did get any good at that, though. I was always hitting a low branch or the dock or some innocent turtle.

Learned that getting away from my parents for a week and having fun stuff to do all the time was a plan I could get behind. (Despite missing them just a little at the end of the week.)

Learned that sliding into second will scrape the HELL out of your knee if you don't know what you're doing. (Maybe, even if you do.)

And I learned that shooting a gun is an experience I'm glad I had, but that I never need again.

I learned a lot from summer camp. Mostly, I learned about me. For the first time in my life there was a "me" that was independent from my family. A "me" that had her own feelings and interests and adventures and beliefs. For the first time, I felt like an individual.

When I relived it vicariously, as my daughters experienced it firsthand, I learned just how much I could miss them. And just how much of my heart they always carry with them. But some part of me also took strength (and great pleasure) in knowing that they were experiencing that "me" feeling for the first time, too.

As the rest of you put away your camp souvenirs and sleeping bags (and bandage up those cuts), I'm hopeful that your summer held some fun times and a little time for some introspection. Somehow, I suspect that's what summer camp is really all about, anyway.


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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Funny Thing Happened...

I keep forgetting to share this funny thing with you guys and it's prolly too late now and it'll be all lame. Will that stop me from doing it? Heh. You. Wish.

See, a funny thing happened on the way home from work the three weeks ago. I got off the bus (remember when I was all public transportational?) and started to cross the street heading towards home. (For those in the know, the stop is right in front of the yummy pizza place in my neighborhood.)

Anywho, as I said, it was around 6:15 or so and I was crossing the street and this group of people was crossing the street at the same time. There were, I don't know, maybe a dozen assorted aged men and women and they were all in front of me walking up my street.

I didn't think much of it. They seemed to know each other as they were chatting back and forth. I was close enough behind to hear, but I was mostly ignoring them. I just wanted to get home. You know?

There is a big church on that corner and as we were approaching the back side of the church, a couple more people come over to this group (from the other side of the street) and they're all glad-handing and hoo-ha-ing and such. Great. Fine. Move it along. They start going up steps onto the church property and it occurs to me.

They'd mostly come out of the coffee shop on the corner. I'll bet it's a 12-step meeting of some kind. Kinda en masse, as it were. Heh, and I started thinking that they probably thought I was one of them. Weird person that I am, that, for some reason, amused me.

The two women and one man directly in front of me were turned such that they HAD to have had me in their peripheral vision, but they obviously knew each other and blah blah, "did you see", etc., etc. So, just as he's heading up the stairs, the guy turns around and holds out his hand.

He says, "Hi! I'm John. Welcome." I smiled and shook his hand and said, "Hi! I'm some random stranger walking down the street." He laughed a little and apologized (I guess for mistaking me for someone with an addiction...hey, it's not like you can spot 'em that easy) and I told him not to worry about it and kept on walking. I totally kept the goofy giggly thing under control.

Remember how easy it used to be to spot the folks who needed the 12 step programs? Not anymore. They totally look like regular people. Well. Regular people, and, apparently, me.

We'd given each other a little chuckle, John and I. That's never a bad thing. Of course, he could've been too drunk to remember any of it. I don't know.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Flim Flam Fidel

Not that there is any way I need to put another post up here today, but I just ran across this link about Fidel Castro, and wanted to share.

That Castro, he's one tricky fella. A master in the art of deception.

I suppose it pays to be one, though. I guess that's what got him his current gig.

So what do you guys think? Is he or isn't he?

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Can he swing from a thread, Take a look overhead

Last night, as Highlander and I were taking a walk around our lovely neighborhood, we came across a thick white mass (similar to this one...only scarier) high up on a tree branch.

The alley was very quiet. Not even the semi-normal chattering we usually encounter. Maybe the humidity had driven everyone indoors. It was pretty bad, after all.

I kept looking at the mass. I found I couldn't NOT keep my eye on it. It wasn't undulating or anything (a'la ARACHNOPHOBIA), but still, I kept getting this eerie feeling that I couldn't quite explain.

Didn't help that heading to work that very morning, I had an...I don't know...episode...with these things in my own yard. The tree in our backyard (that overhangs our driveway) has five or six big webs in it right now. Yesterday morning, when I went to my car to drive to work (oh, how I love the sound of that), I'd found that one of the spiders had been busy all night spinning silk from the tree to the roof of my car. She happened to be perched on her web just above my car door at the time. Did I mention she wasn't small, either?

I eased into the car and then peeled out of the driveway, ripping the web and leaving Ms. Spider dangling on the remnants of her elaborate creation.

It was a considerably freakier way than I'd wanted to start my Monday, I can tell you that with no hesitation. Several times throughout the day, I caught myself thinking about that spider and all those big, dense webs on that tree. Feeling very uneasy about the whole situation. (Let me note that I don't usually have a spider "thing". Snakes, however, are an entirely OTHER matter. Ewwwww!)

Finally, though, given my normally hectic life, I was able to get my mind on other things. I was able to let that weird spidery feeling go. But, it all came back when Highlander and I were walking through that alley last night. The milky white tangled mess was the same basic size and shape as those on the tree in my back yard, not that I was giving it terribly close inspection.

That ooky feeling started coming over me again. My neighborhood's becoming populated with these giant chrysalis-like things and I was getting this dread in the pit of my stomach. I pointed out the web to Highlander, trying to be somewhat casual about it. Kinda hoping he'd dismiss it or explain it or something. He looked at it for a minute. Then, he looked at me and said, "I have this weird feeling that I'm in like the first ten minutes of a horror flick."

Yeah, see, THAT didn't help me feel better nearly as much as you might think.

I guess 'tis the season or something. Gotta tell you, though, I do not like them, Sam I am. Oh yeah, and if I go missing, you may want to check the tree in my backyard first.

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What We Have Here a failure to communicate.

Communication is a most delicate art. It goes far beyond 'potato' and 'potato'. Or, wait. Perhaps, that illustrates my point rather succinctly. They look exactly the same written. How the HELL are people supposed to figure this stuff out?

Maybe you guys can help me out, though. I've recently had some communications issues with a couple of folks. If I give you a multiple choice (and somewhere, even as I type this, I can see someone copying this format to mock me...oh well, as Nate says, 'originality is for suckers'...and these folks certainly are not original), would you help me see where the communication errors may be?


"If we didn't read each other's stuff wouldn't it be it's own answer."

Which phrase below best captures the intended meaning of the one above...

(A) "In the event that the parties involved, freely elected to avoid reading items written by each other, the problem would be solved."

(B) "I'm saying I will read his and I hope he reads mine. I won't start anything but if something offensive is said I will react. If we both accept that we can poke at each other mutually we will have an understanding."

Did you select (A)? I did, too. But, we're wrong. The correct answer, apparently, is (B). I got confused by the whole "didn't read each other's stuff" part. I never guessed it meant "read each other's stuff". Did that confuse you, too? No, huh. Well, a lot of you are far more educated than I am. I'll give you that one. But, how about this one...

"I can tell you that THIS address is not Highlander's email address, nor am I his secretary, mother, warden, complaint department, or babysitter."

Okay, again, which answer below best matches the intended meaning of the one above...

(A) "It seems odd that your his email spokesperson."

(B) "Issues with Highlander, should be taken up with Highlander."

::peeking at the paper to my left:: What'd you get for that one? I put (B). You put (A)? How could you possibly get (A)? I mean, I overlooked the whole "your"/"you're" thing and still got (B). Dammit. Let me try one more. I mean, I gotta get one of these right, huh?

"Baron's ex is just plain being nasty. Even HER significant other is nasty."

Again, which answer below is the logical response to the passage above?

(A) "She didn't call Baron's ex nasty, she called her significant other nasty."

(B) "She called BOTH Baron's ex and her significant other nasty."

Damn. That's one's tough. I'm going with (B) again. (A)? Are you sure? It just doesn't seem right that I'm not getting ANY of them correct! I mean, I'm smart and everything!

"I won't read your stuff anymore, or comment. You have a right to a private place to vent."

One more time, gang. Which one below matches with the one above?

(A) "I won't read your stuff anymore, or comment. You have a right to a private place to vent."

(B) "I can disregard your private place to vent any time I so choose. In fact, I can do it 4, 6, 8 times a day if I want."

Hmmm, I pick none of the above. (B) clearly isn't, but (A) seems like some kind of trick answer or something. I have to pick one? Well, if I gotta, it's gonna be (A). ::sigh:: Wrong again.

0 for 4. Egads! Is it any wonder I fail so utterly at this communication stuff? How many did you guys get right? If you did better than I did, can you help me out a little? Maybe you can explain where I went wrong in my logic. Thanks! I really appreciate it! 'Cause I'm frustrated as shit!

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School Daze

Haven't posted in a few days. After that last one, I'm sure there are more than a few folks anxious for me to put something else up here. Frankly, I'm one of them.

Today is the first day of public school here in River City. All the kiddies are off into their new routines.

[Kid 1] officially ruling the school as a new senior, caught her bus at 6:15 this morning.

Say it with me. ::groan::

Her classload includes an art class, a photography class, drama and chorus. Oh yeah, there's some English in there somewhere, too. In any event, it should be a (predominantly) fun year for her. I'm glad. If I can keep the drama in her personal life to a minimum (always a difficult task), I'll be in good shape.

[Kid 2], my sophomore, took the bus to a new high school this morning. A better school than last year (and we'll get to a little more of that here in a second) and one that she has long wanted to attend. I'm pleased for her and am hopeful that she adjusts quickly. Given her history with stress, I'd hate for any new problems to kick that rock down the hill.

As a note, for any inquiring minds, her hair has completely grown back in and there is little evidence of the damage she did last spring. The new hair is fairly short (and more curly than she'd like, given the relative straightness of the rest of her hair), but the length will come.

[Kid 3] also started a new school today. A first-grader this year. Looking adorable in her blue uniform jumper, I dropped her off at the school on my way to work. Another (slightly older) little girl invited her to play dolls and she just beamed. I can't wait to see her this afternoon and hear all her excited "first day of the new school" news.

I wish it weren't a rainy morning (though it appears to be stopping quite early), as the new school has one thing that deeply appeals to her that her previous school did not. A playground. Two actually. Not sure she'll get to sample it today, but I'm crossing my fingers for her.

Now, while we're (and by "we're", of course I mean "I'm") yammering about school, I've got a little newstory I wanted to share. But, first a little back story for you.

Last year, [Kid 2] had some difficulty with a geometry teacher. Mostly difficulty understanding the material. (She's far more an algebra girl.) My ex and I actually met with him at one point in the year, and I have to say I never got a vibe off of Mr. Garren that led me to believe I had any of this stuff to worry about.

[Kid 2] mentioned, after he had been reassigned, that he had been taking pictures of the kids in his classes (including her). Apparently, he'd been photoshopping the pics a little. I can't tell you how mad this stuff makes me. And how glad I am that he's not teaching in this school system anymore.

Between this teacher, and the English teacher who was so rude to her last year about wearing her hat to a concert while she was dealing with her problems, it makes it clear why so many folks opt for private schools. The public school system is rife with people who should not be teaching our kids. More and more and more reports make that clear.

I, myself, spent seven years as a student in the public school system here in River City. I had a couple of exceptional teachers in those years. Major props to Lorraine Abrams and Dee Roberts (if either of you google and find this, well, you made a difference in my life, ladies), my Freshman English teacher and Senior English teacher, respectively. Both of them encouraged me to write. Both of them taught me a great deal about writing. And about life. Couldn't ask for anything more.

Unfortunately, the public school systems are strapped for money everywhere. Pretty much always. That translates to hiring less qualified teachers who are in a position to accept a lower salary. It also translates to hiring people who have other issues that most parents (myself definitely amongst them) may rather the adults charged with teaching and taking care of our children didn't have. Ever.

As the school system grows (and River City is a large town), the percentage of problems with teachers has to grow and spread proportionately. Between these dangers, and the level to which school violence has grown, home-schooling (which has always seemed to me to be a terrible injustice to do to one's children) is looking more appealing every day. Less so, perhaps, if I didn't have a first grader who is looking at many more years in this system. It's just very frustrating thinking that you have to protect your children from, not only the bullies and the school shooters (which is plenty, thank you very much), but from the teachers as well.

Welcome to another year of it. It appears that in addition to the (recently added) child-sized body armor and chastity belts, I may need to add a glock to the school supply list.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Flashback Friday!

Ran across something the other day. Something I wasn't very surprised to see. Probably should have backed up and run across it a few more times, too. But I didn't.

Instead, I sat down and thought about it. Likely more than was merited. Hey, I'm like that sometimes. Self-examination is rarely a bad thing. And while it's not way in the back of the vault, I found myself doing a little Flashback! on Wednesday. (Is that premature flashbackulation?) Since sharing my memories is what Flashback Friday! is all about, here I am, singing a sad song and pouring out my heart, again. Consider yourselves warned.

For twenty years, I lived with a man who (very frequently) actively refused to help himself, or to help me, in much of anything I did for the two of us, or our family. When I'd ask for help with any particular task, his response was to ask what I was doing that prevented me from doing it myself.

When I'd ask him to get the kids dressed so I'd have time to pack lunches, he'd remind me that he didn't know what matched, adding that he didn't want to learn, either.

When my paternal grandmother died only six months after my maternal grandmother died, he added to my load by refusing to emotionally support me. Apparently, I'd exhausted his resources the FIRST time; it was simply too tedious for him to have to have to deal with me needing his shoulder to cry on again.

When I would come home with a carful of kids I'd just picked up from daycare and immediately start cooking dinner and going over homework, he'd have already been home an hour. Relaxing, in a quiet, empty house. And still needing just a little more time 'him' time before he could find it in him to step away from the computer and lend any kind of hand with our always hectic nightly family routine.

When I overlooked his addiction (an addiction he'd had long before I met him, though he now claims that it was his way to medicate himself against the evil that is me) and tried, time and time again, to get him help or to try to help him myself (even when his sister suggested an intervention), I was met with sulking and furious resistance and often promises that were never kept.

I put up with it for much longer than I should have. I rode it out, counting my blessings, trying to make the best of it. I did all of this because I loved this man. I made a life with this man. I had my children with this man. I did it because I felt he needed me, and that maybe I made his life better.

The lessons he taught me were to be self-sufficient, to never expect or require appreciation, and to understand that any time I absolutely needed his help with anything, there would always, always be a price tag on it.

It's all right now, I learned my lesson well. You see, you you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself.

Not exactly, but, you get the point. I tried to make it work. And I helped him immensely to get to where he is professionally, often putting myself second or third or fourth to what he wanted or needed. It became second nature, something I did almost instinctively. There was simply no other way to make my marriage work.

When he was gone (working out of town), I missed him terribly, but I went about the business of living. Working full-time and taking care of babies and keeping house and making sure the bills got paid and keeping in touch with my family and his family and managing things. I had to. I wasn't given a choice.

His tutelage was not wasted, however. I became quite competent at getting things done. In fact, I exceled in a great number of areas. I lost a lot of "me" in the process, but sometimes you pay a price. Sometimes, in a relationship, you make sacrifices when you care about someone. You make them willingly, because you know that together you are better for it.

I didn't realize, though, that becoming self-sufficient, becoming competent at doing the things that needed to be done to keep his home and his family going, things he chose not to do, that were simply too bothersome for him to trouble with, would earn me a badge.


Never once, in the twenty years we were together did he tell me he thought I was "controlling". He told me he was proud of me… once or twice. Told me I was a good mother fairly often. Told me I was his best friend many times. Told me I was a good cook every once in a while. But never once did he advise me I was "controlling".

In fact, I should add that my sister used to joke that everything I did had be "run by congress for approval". I wasn't allowed to have the final say on anything (things as minor as the menu for the week), without talking to him first. And if it was anything that would inconvenience him in the slightest, or cause him any discomfort at all, it got vetoed. "No change orders" was his clever little refrain, whenever I'd suggest something new, or try to revise a previously agreed upon plan or procedure. "No change orders" was, apparently, the way he felt a family with three kids could and should be run. And for years, I did my best to let him live in that little fantasy world, too.

When things between us had deteriorated to the point where we clearly couldn't stay together, and even his pleading couldn't make me stay, he tried to accept the reality. He now says (to anyone who will listen...those who were not around back then and do not know better) that he was relieved when I left, happy for the first time in years, and that he finally realized how miserable I had made him for so long.

He tells these gullible new friends of his that the only reason he wanted to stay together was for the children. And that once I'd left, and he was free from the agony that is me, he was finally able to kick his drug habit.

It's strange to me. Perhaps I'm insane. Yet, I seem to recall that at the time, he told me he was kicking the weed because he didn't want to live his life under that shadow any more and he wanted me to come back. He knew I wouldn't if he was still using. I'd enabled him long enough.

I'd told him the only thing I HADN'T tried to help him quit was leaving him. While it was the proverbial 'last resort', I hoped it WOULD be the catalyst for his healing. Now, somehow, all this has transmuted into something he could only do for himself after my onerous influence was gone.

Honestly, I don't want the credit for helping him break the cycle of dependency that held him for over thirty years. I'm happy that he was finally able to pry that monkey from his back by whatever means. But, it's so unnecessary, and so wrong, for him to make me the cause of his addiction.

My recollection of this time seems to be different from his, though. While I'm sure keeping the family intact was important to him, I know...and I believe HE knows...that he loved me deeply and didn't want me to leave because of ME. Because having me in his life was a good thing. But that's certainly not the story he's telling now.

Little seeds of doubt started working their way through my subconscious Wednesday, when I came across strange and different accounts of this period in our lives.

Maybe I'd misremembered, in some way, the way things had actually been. So, I went back to email. I save the stuff religiously. In fact, anyone around here who has ever sent me email, should be warned that I've probably still got it. I never throw that stuff away. (Heh, now my email correspondence will dry up even more...)

Periodically, I go back and reread stuff. Kind of like looking at old snapshots. Like snapshots, they are moments in time and they remind me where I've been and how far I've come. It's simultaneously empowering and nostalgic.

Anyway, I went back to email that he had sent me months after we'd split. Here is what I found. (Let me first note that had a precedent not been set here, I'd have been hesitant to have included these personal emails on my blog. However, carefully selected and edited passages from my private email to my ex has somehow found its way onto the Internet at his behest, so, it seems that he has no compunction with this behavior that others might find inappropriate.)

November 10, 2004 (a couple weeks after our separation)

Hi, Tam -

You make my day when you reply like that. I can't wait to spend more time with you. I know this is all tough but I miss you. I hope someday to show you I'm the guy that you wanted all along. I think Friday will be best for lunch. I hope spend sme "buddy" time wth you this weekend as well. Soon let's take some quality time and just talk. I don't want to keep wedging myself under your need to be independent but your so good to see.

I bought a used file cabinet and Friday I should get my bed. I always look forward to seeing you.


December 1, 2004 (approximately one month after we separated)

Hi Tam,

Your stopping by was great and I hope you do it again. Surprise me. Hopefully tonight maybe more and at least the lovey dovey stuff. I'm sorry I said what I did when you were honest with me. I understand that you feel you need your space and checking in stops that fee space you want. I need to learn how to deal with it. After being together so long my heart wants to be where you are (sigh). Can I do anything else?



December 15, 2004 (approximately six weeks after separation)

Sweet Tam,

Despite all the rough times and the self doubt, I want you to know you always curl my toes when we get fleshy together and even when I think about it.

If nothing else, I count myself lucky to be your bud in this way. Maybe someday I can learn to be a little more independent and let you stretch your wings.

I hope you find yourself. If I can be in the mix that would be nice. I do care about you with or without me. Your a great person.



December 20, 2004 (approximately two months after separation)

Hi Love,

Sunday sounds very good. I look forward to it. Saturday is good to pick up Christmas stuff and the girls and we'll settle up on monies. Tell me what I need to get ready for you.

I deeply regret that I made you upset tonight. I guess I could have used more tact but sometimes our frame of minds don't sync like they should. Let's continue to get along. Your a nice person and I want to be able to be buds. We'll punch through this short rough time. You're a great person. I enjoy your company.

Take care sweetums.



January 10, 2005 (approximately 2 1/2 months after separation)

Hey Tam,

>Forgot to mention to you that [Kid 1] has started, today, her bi-weekly >"I >don't want to go to Dad's" thing. During the course of the discussion about how she needs to give you more of a chance, despite the years of

problems and mistakes she feels you have made and that she doesn't want to wait around until you figure out how to fix them, she mentioned that she wished I would find someone else soon. I told her that I hadn't started looking, but should.

Thanks for your support here. For now (and since the split), the warmest person I've known is you and I haven't sought out that warmth again. After I hurt you so bad it
would crush me to even began to put anyone in a position where I would act like I care for them on such a thin pretense.



February 8, 2005 (over three months after separation)


Thank you very much. I think the world of you and regret fighting. You are special. Know that I never want to hurt you.

I wish we could have been more for each other in the end. I blame myself for being a pot head way too late in our relationship. had I stopped sooner and been less lethargic, I think things may have been some what different, but you know what they say about hind sight.

It's ok to want to know about each others lives. Friends (and more) should be open and honest.



March 27, 2005 (approximately five months after separation)

Hi Tam,

Ok, I'm intriqued. What must you have you answered to get your score For Dr. Phil that I didn't? Do you poise yourself different when you talk to others? Do you sit unique? How do you sleep? Curious minds (me),want to know. I at least must be as secure as you. argh.

Ok, ok good night, take care. Despite contentions, you're a sweet person. Talking to you is so much fun sometimes.



April 4, 2005 (just over five months after separation)

Hi Tam,

If Wednesday is ok with you, it's ok with me. I have to go to [My sister]'s on Tuesday to get her mail and feed her cat. When I come home I will lay out [Kid 3]'s clothes. I look forward to seeing both you guys.

It was nice talking to you earlier. What we have is special in it's own way.



April 6, 2005 (a couple days after that)

Hi Tam,

Sure, lunch is fine as far as I know. I will update you tomorrow after I
check my schedule. Why didn't you ask when we were together this early evening?

Buds for life,



That last was his response to my invitation to the infamous lunch when I told him I wanted to embark on a relationship with the man he'd most rather I hadn't.

I've omitted many, many more "suggestive" notes, because that isn't the point.

The point is that as much as he may now be declaring to the world that he was always miserable while living with me, the truth is very different. The actuality is, even after obtaining the freedom he so relishes now, he was making it very clear that he loved me and thought I was a good person, and gave no hint, even after the divorce papers were signed in January of 2005, that he had ever considered our marriage to be him "staying together solely for the sake of the kids".

Further, at this time he knew I was still good friends with Highlander. And while he now claims that Highlander writing unflattering things about him on one of his blogs had so incensed him that he could never, ever forgive him for it, or me for associating with him… well, this didn't seem to be such an issue at the time of those emails I've reproduced here, either.

It was only after that lunch that suddenly, and apparently retroactively, I became the object of his decades long oppression.

Meeting me that day, I know he thought I was planning to talk to him about a reconciliation. That I didn't, and that I told him, instead, that I was planning to start a serious relationship with someone else, is when things turned nasty between us. He simply couldn't handle the fact that I'd moved on, that our romantic relationship was really over, and that, the actuality was, 'being buds' was all that he and I could be, from that point on.

It's important to me to make this clear: I know that nothing I did prevented me and my ex husband from continuing to be friends after our separation and divorce. No turn I took set us on the road to this mutual hostility and antipathy. We had had no trouble, obviously, being friends prior to that day. The only thing that changed was that I was beginning a relationship with someone else. Someone who had defended me and supported me when my ex had deeply hurt me (and to whom my ex had first made untoward and wholly inappropriate accusations), by saying things on his blog that my ex found insulting (due not to a lack of accuracy, but to the colorful verbage used).

But, again, I want to emphasize that the incident between him and Highlander had occurred long prior to our lunch, and it certainly didn't seem to be an issue in his ongoing relationship with me. He had no reason to tell me the sweet things he did in the many messages above (as well as the many I've omitted) that came after that date, unless he truly felt them. Certainly, I believed he meant them at the time.

Perhaps, I was foolish for believing those things, yet I still do think (arrogant though it may sound) that he missed me and wanted to put our marriage back together. That by leaving him, I had finally forced him to confront just how much he had taken for granted, and never truly appreciated, when he had it.

I suppose it's easier for him to remember things the way he chooses to remember them. Everyone has a tendency to alter or embellish the past to make history more palatable. I'm no different in that regard, I suppose. I'm lucky enough to have the "photographs" that show me the way it really was. He, and his friends, can choose (and have chosen) to paint me the villain in our break up, and certainly, I initiated it, and I've never denied that.

After having dealt with the pain prior to my split, the uncertainty of life after I finally left him, followed by the active hostility after that fateful lunch date in April, I have accepted that he is who he is, just as I've accepted that I am who I am, and I'm okay with that. It's not the first time I've been cast in the black hat role. I imagine it won't be the last.

He and I, though, and our kids, we all know the truth. The TRUTH. Lying to others is one thing, and it's bad enough. Believing your own propaganda – self deception on this level - is something worse, something far less healthy.

The deliberate lies he tells are probably the hardest thing for me to work through. Especially lies about turning our children against him. Most of you know how hard I have worked to help him have a good relationship with our girls. It's been very recent that I've pretty much just thrown up my hands in this regard, and honestly, it's mostly out of exhaustion. After many, many attempts (which I may outline in another post at some point in the future) to help him right things he's done that have hurt our children, I've just given up. I NEVER want to see my daughters in pain (doing whatever I can, whenever I can to minimize it) and I've been the one who has, from the beginning, urged them to work on the damaged relationship with their father, even as they protested that he doesn't respect them and has inappropriate outbursts of temper, with which I myself am all too familiar.

I'm tired of fighting every second with him, trying to get him to do right by them when he refuses to understand, or even try to. Just as he used to refuse to learn what colors went together, so he wouldn't have to dress the kids, he now refuses to listen to anything I might have to say about how to parent better, despite the fact that I have 17 years of experience parenting his children, THESE children, and he pretty much started from scratch less than 24 months ago. No matter how hard I try to foster a better relationship between him and our daughters, he's always completely unappreciative of my efforts to help. Instead seeking advice from people who do not know the children or the history, and giving them only the bits and pieces of the situation that he's bothered to collect.

Worse, my older girls have started to feel that I'm being unsupportive of their very legitimate concerns as regards their father's fractured relationship with them. That I'm taking his side, when I try to remind them that he's their father and always will be, and someday they will want to have a better relationship with him, and that he needs more time. Always more time. Time that they don't want to give him. Time that he spent putting himself and his addictions first.

I'm not his wife anymore, but I AM their mother. I always will be. From that, I gain my greatest strength. From that, I chart my course… and while I do believe the girls would benefit from an improved relationship with their dad, I can't keep doing the heavy lifting for him, and it's not fair to expect them to do all the work, either.

I imagine that my refusal to live in his fantasy land has hurt his feelings in the last year. We've both done a good deal of that to each other, I suppose. I don't ask his permission to live my life anymore, and his daughters and I expect him to step up to the role of co-parent that he insisted he was able to handle nearly two years ago.

Sorry to bore you guys with this melodramatic bullshit, but I had to get it outside of me. My personal weblog is still where I come to do that.

Many of you suckers good friends have been there for me for years and are intimately familiar with this period of my life. The support of people like Highlander and Mike Norton and Nate and Mark and Tony and even Mr. Tice (if he's lurking out there somewhere), as well as my "real world" friends and family, got me through that time. Helped me realize that I'm not the bad guy (even though I look pretty fine in the black hat when I need to wear it) and that I did everything I could have done to make it work. All of you have earned a very special place in my heart for that, too.

All of my new friends here (and elsewhere) who weren't there then, but are here now, (as the roller coaster of my life continues on its track) help, too. Thanks for the advice and the shoulders. I appreciate them deeply.

Highlander's constant reminders that I am special and wonderful are pretty helpful, too...;) Thanks! I love you, Sweetie.

And thanks to all of you out there for joining me in my Flashback Friday! reality check!

I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends

A chance to share old memories and play our songs again

When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name

No one recognized me, I didn't look the same


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