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Archive for September, 2005

faaaark.

y’know how sometimes life hands you a day, and other times you’re handed A Day?

this, for me, was A Day, In Spades.

woke up early, tried to get in the groove, dozed off in bits and pieces thinking about what the day would hold, what i wanted to get done, listening, in the background, to hubby puttering around…

and was suddenly snapped awake. i tried to make the sound into a soundtrack for a Zatoichi film – grunts and screams as part of a combat scene. but when i crept downstairs, i found the reality was much grimier. the television was blank. and hubby was sick enough to be hurling.

much of my day comprised of checking in on hubby, making sure he was alive, offering to help, and mopping up. you know it’s a bad day all around when you slop down the back stairs.

(did i mention that his migraine pattern has been getting worse, and i had to call the doctor on his behalf? or, honestly, not so much on his behalf as in self-defense. having had migraines where i all i wanted to do was crawl out of my own skin, my heart hurts for him when he’s in that much pain.)

another good (?) portion of the day was spent in painful conversation. i get that my friends and family are worried about the choices that hubby and i have made, and how we may or may not come out on top. i love that these people care enough to make their thoughts known. it means the world to me to have that network out there. however…

when you get a call, and what you mostly hear is ‘how can you not have a job by now, damnit?’, and the person is calling as family… well. you can say the exact same words to me as family, or as friend. and depending on the hat you’ve chosen to wear, i’ll hear it differently. family members are able to hit so many more triggers (not of their own volition, necessarily, more that as listener, it’s much harder to separate emotional triggers when it comes to family) that the most well intentioned comments can be heard as emotional smackdowns. hell, i’m 38, but i heard the whole conversation as if i were 12. and it’s been a loooooong time since that happened. 😉

my immediate reactions were these:

1. how is it you think i haven’t been looking?
2. when did pretty become a standard for getting hired?
3. we all make assumptions when we don’t have the whole picture. how is it that you assumed in the negative?
4. why do you think i can’t see the big picture, and know the risks i’ve taken on?
5. and why is it that you seem to assume that i’m not able to look out for my own family?

there was a follow-on conversation, and i hope that i was able to explain that i get said person called out of love. i treasure the people in my life who belly up to the bar, so to speak, and put it all out there. i also needed to put a few things out there, after dealing with it all the way the 12 year old in me reacted. i am more than well aware of the risks that hubby and i have assumed; we both know how well or badly this may turn out, that we made these choices freely and of our own volition, and that we love our friends, but don’t answer to them. calling up to tell us what we should do, or how we might fail? nope.

call and say you’re scared for us. call to offer an ear or a shoulder. call to ask ‘how can i help?’

don’t call and rip me a new one. i’m more than capable of doing that on my own, thanks.

and then… (oh, yes, that’s only about half the day) after i rushed thru grocery shopping, i got to work it out with Little Man. he’s been dragging his his heels and testing the limits every night lately. he threw a fit when i went to pick him up… just as the center was closing. ‘buuuuuuut why can’t i stay?’ here i am thinking that a parent saying it’s time to go might be enough. silly me. (first and worst assumption of parenting, as i’ve found (YMMVW): never think that a small child sees the world as an adult does. don’t reason with them as if they think the same way you do.)

hubby has been telling him that whining will get him in trouble. so we get into the car, and i say, ‘you’re not in trouble, but i want to remind you. no complaining, no fits, no showdowns. dad talked to you about this last week. you don’t lose anything tonight, and i’m not mad, but. i’m reminding you.’ and so ensues the temper tantrum.

then we get home. we have dinner, and i explain to LM that he has half an hour to get things done before bed. we discuss what he has to do, and he’s spot on, knowing what has to happen. mind you, this is all about not nagging. so i don’t. LM chooses to futz around and not wash up or do his homework. i tell him, at least three times, that i’m headed out and he needs to get his stuff out of my car. he continues to choose to futz around. and i leave.

and then i get the phone call. ‘you left with his homework!’ yes. yes, i did. he had at least three chances to get it, and didn’t. ‘…’ see you in a few minutes. LM then drags out the homework time, and i tell him he can finish it in the morning. ‘but i… but i…. but i….’ and hubby comes down on me. i chose not to give in.

hubby thinks that i am setting up LM for failure. i think that i’m trying to guide LM to be more responsible for his time, and mirror school rules at home, ultimately setting him up for success.

more puke, more hamster pee, more mess…

gah.

it would be lovely if tomorrow were uneventful.

ed. note: some of you may have caught the original version of this post. i nearly never recall posts once they are out there, because i don’t want to get caught in the revision loop. however, the primary rule for me is that i won’t publish anything that i’m not willing to say to anyone face to face. i let my anger get away with me last night, and that’s not right. so i recalled the original version, did some light editing, and reposted. the content isn’t all that different, and the ideas are all the same. i did choose to take out some things that were over the top… because i don’t want to hurt anyone.

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(sort of like bad Chinese food leftovers come back to haunt you, the morning after a late night fridge raid…)

what happened at the birthday party was this: i was having a private conversation (as private as these things ever are in public) with another mother, working out who was with whom, and figuring out introductions. it’s always a bit odd, when you know someone by sight, to say a year after you first see each other ‘hey, do we know each other’s names?’ but i figured it was better to just bite the bullet and build a new relationship.

as we were talking, i could sense The Witless and Troublesome Parent (you work out the acronym) hovering over my shoulder. and sure as shit, as soon as i mentioned that i was Little Man’s stepmother, The Witless and Troublesome Parent jumped right in, uninvited, and commandeered the conversation. ‘oh, well, you know who Little Man’s mother is, right?’ says she to the first mother. first mother looked blank, either because she didn’t know, or was shocked by the interruption, dunno. so i stepped in, and tried to gracefully explain who TEW is. all went well, and i felt as if i walked away having taken the high road and used manners.

but man, oh man… the incident kept niggling around at the borders of my thoughts, and making my nutty. (hush, you. no comments.) and it all coalesced this morning.

set aside that The Witless and Troublesome Parent interrupted a conversation. set aside that she wasn’t invited to the party, so to speak. who the fuck is she to explain my family for me? honestly, who the fuck does she think she is? and i considered ways to present this to her, and thought about reversing the situation – if i jumped into one of her conversations, and said to the other person, ‘oh, well, you must know who her husband is, don’t you?’ she would hate it, *because it’s not my place to explain her family*.

and it gets stickier. The Witless and Troublesome Parent is close friends with TEW, and has always gone to bat for her friend. no harm there, in the big scheme of things – that’s what we all do for friends. however. we’ve been fortunate, hubby and i, to have worked out a civil, decent relationship with TEW lately. but The Witless and Troublesome Parent doesn’t seem to be privy to that development, has chosen to disregard it, or there’s more to the mix than i’m aware of at the moment. so. The Witless and Troublesome Parent continues to insert herself into situations where she’s not welcome, because she… is defending her friend? is needing to be noticed? has to be a Nosy Nelly? wants to stir up trouble as gossip fodder? who the hell knows…

what i do know is this: the next time it happens (and trust me, it will – note the ‘witless’ part of the description), i will have a ready retort in the holster. i was tempted to take The Witless and Troublesome Parent aside tomorrow and discuss the recent incident, but hubby pointed out that that approach was more hassle than it’s worth. no, i’ll just be prepared next time to cut her off at the knees (politely, of course), and let her know that her interference is both rude and unwelcome.

and i’ll try to do it in a way that doesn’t involve taking her into the girls room and locking her in a stall. 😉

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undo all the hard work she just did, stuffing every single tube full of wood shavings. 🙂

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(and given the current state of my brain, that’s not necessarily a good thing. most people, when worried about their significant other, have sympathy pains. i, on the other hand, have had entire sympathy nightmares for my hubby. he’s had several big performance dealios lately, and as a result, i’ve dreamed about working out entire onstage performance bits for myself – in my case, a 15 minute standup comedy arc based on jokes that Little Man has told me lately, as well as literature and grammar lessons thrown in for good measure. yeah. don’t go there.)

anyway… i realised, in light of something i discussed in a few recent posts, and the feedback i got, particularly from katherine and me-liz, that my writing here has not been true to form. that is, i’ve been self-censoring for far too long. yes, i’m happy with what i’ve written here, and pleased that some people like it. but…

while it’s all lovely to write about gardening (and i’d love to get some input from people who’ve planted bulbs), hammie-hammie (who will be the death of me for her Houdini-like ability to escape from enclosed spaces), and fishie (nothing notable there!), the birds outside (spotted a new kind today, much to my delight), and working at LM’s school (wonderful and productive, on many levels), discovering new layers and nuances to being married and committed to a wonderful partner (who rocks long and hard), and truly loving my life (as me, wife, mother, friend, daughter, aunt, volunteer, writer)…

i’ve only been writing about the lovely things, for the most part. and life – life is not always lovely. many times it’s challenging, and most of the time it’s pedestrian.

and as i was driving home from LM’s school today, thinking about various parenting things, and who i would talk to and how, it hit me. i’ve let my ‘audience’ (she said, air quoting her ass off) define my posts for far too long, based on some internal rubric.

according to my IP tracker, there are people from my old company reading here. that’s been the case for a long time, since way before the layoffs. i can make an educated guess, based on timestamps, who they might be. and some of them are part of an invited and welcome audience. but really, i can’t say for sure who comes here. and i’ve had in mind, when writing, how the gossip might go down. mind you, gossip is a fact of life, and things that you read on the ‘net make the rounds. so i don’t fault anyone. but i’ve been holding back because of that.

but, as i wended my way home today, i thought, ‘who are they to judge? and why should i care?’ after all, it’s not like it would cost me my job. 😉 when it comes down to it, i’ve been self-censoring based on some internally projected Bogey Man, and the concommitant imagined ills that could ensue. but there’s nothing that they could do to me now. no, not now. not after all that i have learned and gained in the past year. really, not after all i’ve learned and gained in the past few years. being with hubby, and finding a way to work out our commitment to each other in a productive and supportive way… figuring out how to become several new things, and let go of other roles… hashing out how to be me, and a mom, and a part of the step-parenting consortium (as the unholy alliance has become a friendly committee)…

these people who have been the imagined Bogey Man don’t have any hold on me, not any longer. if they feel the need to dish? how is that any different than what any other reader might do? if i’m willing to put myself out there in a public forum, and subject my life to discussion around any water cooler – why should i care about the one water cooler i can identify?

(i also want to say – this is not a case of wanting to trash my old place. not at all. i haven’t held back on that at all. no, they were good for as long as it lasted, we outlived our usefulness to each other, and then there was A Parting Of Ways. so be it. no, the self-censorship has been all on the personal front.)

i shouldn’t censor. and i won’t. this is my space. i will discuss what i want, when i want. if this is a free for all therapy space at times? so be it. if i talk incessantly about the animals (or, as hubby calls our home, The New Ark)? so be it. if i have more questions than answers? i imagine you can guess the response. 🙂

it may seem self-evident that if this is my space, the discussion will be held on my terms. but sometimes, i need to rediscover that concept. and isn’t that part of what it means to be a writer… constantly discovering?

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i was joking around with my mechanic about what i thought the harmonic balancer was, and how my car was out of tune. he said that it wasn’t just important to have your car in tune, but to have it in tune with the (and i quote) ‘hum of the universe’.

have i mentioned i love my mechanic?

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i’m not quite at the point where i can articulate any of it. my first impulse was to apologize for being so quiet, but really, isn’t a personal site about discussing what you want, when you want? so. no apologies, just a note to say that the slogging is taking up most of the brain time, both waking and sleeping. (and yes, this has led to some *immensely* interesting dreams with which Freud and Jung would both have their respective field days.)

and that hasn’t left much time for writing, which is a shame, because life is chugging merrily along, and Many Interesting Things are happening here on the home front, even if i’m not paying attention. 😉

Little Man is well into second grade, and i’m very excited to see how his year goes. he likes his teacher, and has decided she’s not ‘mean’ (don’t get me started on that conversation, which involved TEW), just puts people in line if they don’t behave well, and that she likes him just fine because he behaves. yay! and he’s excited about division. seems early to me (didn’t long division happen around 4th or 5th grade?), but he’s eager, and already figured out some of the basic precepts on his own, so, go Little Man!

hubby is doing well on the professional front, having recently gotten the nod from a local magician/booker, and made any number of connections, both new and renewed, lately.

me… i continue to be freaked out on a number of fronts, including the latest Car Escapade (more in a moment). *however*, i have been reminded, in many ways, that Life Is Good, and that embracing change and being in the moment will allow one to see and accept the rewards that are there. yes, that sounds all sorts of touchy-feely. and i’m fine with that. 🙂 really, taking the time to see what you *do* have in your life is an important part of the day. as one of my stepmother friends pointed out recently, complaining about the heating bill means that you have a roof over your head and you’re warm. it’s all in how you look at it.

as for the car. well. Penny has been squeaking and squawking for a week or two, and hubby said, every time i asked him to listen to the noise (good thing to ask a half-deaf spouse), ‘you should take her in to the mechanic.’ i kept delaying, but finally agreed with his assessment when i saw white smoke puffing out from under the hood while i was at a stop light the other day. for those of you who remember the Air Conditioning Debacle… well, white smoke is never good, altho better than black, oily smoke. that, plus when i got home and popped the hood, only to see glowing embers alongside the engine block… yeah.

so i take her in to my mechanic (who is worth his weight in gold), and they say it may be the water pump. hubby had guessed as much, so it wasn’t a surprise. what was a surprise was the assessment after they took her apart. the pump was intact (good). however, the harmonic balance was not, and as a result, the timing belt cover was shot, the timing belt was suspect, and the parts were starting to chew into the oil pan (perhaps the source of the glowing embers). now, not knowing much about engines when it comes down to nuts and bolts, i pictured the harmonic balance as some sort of teeter-totter part. (how that fits into an engine block, i didn’t work out.) when i picked up the car today, my mechanic showed me the part. and much to my surprise, it was fairly unexciting. it’s pretty much a big ring, which holds several other concentric rings inside, and the belts on the outside.

looking at one side and the other of the ring, it was clear where the problem was. one side was thick and rusted. the other side was half the width, and shinyshinyshiny and not level, as if it has recently been polished…or ground down by being out of place.

so very, very lucky that i didn’t fry the engine.

and as rocky as i’m feeling about the job hunt, other things are going well. hubby and Little Man are healthy and happy. the gardens are good, and i’m planning for next year. i finally met our Ghost Neighbor – the house next to us uphill appeared to be vacant for the longest time, but apparently, not so much. and she’s nice. i may go over with cookies next week. the bird feeders are attracting all sorts of birds, including a downy woodpecker at the suet feeder. jeremy the fish and snoozy the hamster are both doing well, and strat hasn’t disowned me yet. 😉

i’m actively involved with the school, and happy that the school year has started again. there are a few big projects i’ll be helping out with there this year, and that’s fun. and i’m fairly proud of the fact that the ex-wife and i are the ones who went to the open house at school the other night – and talked, negotiated schedules and commitments, worked out how to share projects at school and at home, and generally had a fairly lovely time talking. huh. who the hell would have known, a year ago, that she and i could have gotten to here?

and just because you’ve taken the time to read all this way down, here’s the funniest photo i’ve seen in ages:

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it’s death on all sorts of scales. a friend of mine just lost his dad to cancer (odd turn of phrase, that, losing someone – like they mught turn up behind the sofa if you just took the time to look).

William Rehnquist – gone, and the implications scare the bejesus out of me. also, Peter Jennings. that just makes me sad.

and the continuing death toll in the South in the wake of Hurricane Katrina… is just horrifying. how terrible must it be to be surrounded by water, when that’s what you need and can’t get? i’m angry about this one, too. for reasons i’m struggling to articulate, i hold the Shrub personally responsible for the slow move to help, and personally responsible for each death, in a way and with a level of anger that i’ve never felt towards a president before. let’s not even compound that with the continuing bleeding away of lives in Iraq… oh, hell, let’s throw that in, too. the man just makes me angry, because it all seems so wasteful, and his fault.

i’m leaving the television off tonight.

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