Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Fourth and Long

I had almost given up. I had nearly given in. My Christmas cards were going to win this year. It would be the first year in over 20 that I wasn’t able to come up with some creative, catchy, thematic, homemade original card/picture/letter to send to my friends and fam. I nearly admitted defeat.

I had made cards over the holiday weekend. I wasn’t happy with them at all, but I had spent hours cutting and stamping and coloring and gluing and hating every second of it. I had tried a couple of rough drafts at a letter but nothing came from them. I had helped my brother write his (which he never does) and I thought for certain it had sapped all my creativity and now I would be left with none for my own.

So last night I was sitting on the floor with my puppy who seemed ill and I was watching football and chatting with G on messenger and I was complaining about not having my card idea. They are ALWAYS in the mail by December 1st and it was really getting close. I watched the Colts, I talked to G. I cheered for the Steelers, I responded to G. And it finally hit me….football.

G wasn’t too excited about the idea initially but today I improved greatly upon the rough notion that existed in my head last night and he threw in a few great lines that helped it even more.

I stopped at the craft store on my way home from work and invest FAR more money than you can imagine in MORE supplies to make NEW cards that will go with the football theme. LM and I worked on them tonight and they’re crafty but cute. The letter will get polished and printed tomorrow, the picture will be taken tomorrow night and duplicated at nauseum on Thursday and then the cards will be stuffed, sealed, stamped and mailed. ON TIME!!

THE DID NOT BEAT ME!!!

(Note to anyone out there toying with the idea of stepping it up a notch and doing more than just signing their store-bought cards this year: DO NOT DO IT. Once you start, you can’t stop. Relatives write and say how much they look forward to your cards every year. Grandparents show you the box where they have saved each and every one. Complete strangers on the street say, “ooooh you’re the one…”)

Oh, and if you were thinking that I was going to show you what the cards look like or copy the letter here for you to read YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!! December 1st they are released. Not a moment sooner. You’ll have to stand in line outside the door until then.



On a completely different note, I need some advice from any dog-owners out there. I live in an upstairs condo. I have to physically take my dog out when he needs to go which means I need shoes in this kind of weather. It would be oh-so-handy for said shoes to live at the bottom of the stairs on the mat where the mud and grime can drip off instead of tracking up my stairs, but poocherooski here thinks he needs to chew on my shoes if I leave them when I go to work. I have tried spraying them with bitter spray. I have tried moving them up the stairs but in an open-faced cabinet. I don’t know what to do!! I need shoes in a convenient spot down there, but he EATS them. I dare not say how many shoes he has eaten for fear of proving how much of a slow-learner I am. I just keep thinking he’ll quit. But he doesn’t. He never ever chews them when I’m home. But he knows he has done something wrong as the moment I come home, he’ll peek at me at the top of the stairs and then run into the living room. HELP!!

Can You Hear Me Now?

Last night I stopped by the Verizon Wireless store and visited with the technical service dude. I had brought my cell phone in about a month ago - the screen had a bad habit of freezing up each time someone called, so my brother might call at 10am and at 2pm the phone would still declare "G is calling!" They uploaded new software at the time, but over the last week or so it has regressed to its old ways again. The guy working tech support was nice, looked up my account and said they'd just replace the phone. Told me to hang on for a moment which I thought meant I'd have some paperwork to sign, but the next thing I know he's handing me a brand new phone, just like my old one and he's converted all my contacts and such into the new one. Good to go, he says! WOW!

Later, I logged onto Verizon.com to renew my wireless dsl service. They were offering me another year at the same price I had paid this year, which was fine with me (no increase is a rarity, it seems) and so I wanted to just log on and seal the deal. When I did, I found out that staying at my same price actually got me more speed at this point. OR I could stay at the same speed I have now and save $15 a month! Yep! Do that!

All I have to say is that Verizon impressed me. And in the customer service realm it seems like I spend more time pissed off than I do impressed, so well done Verizon. Good customer service. Un. Believe. Able.

They can send me a few bucks for the free advertisement now.

A Lengthy Blog About Being At A Loss For Words

Last week, a woman called to place an ad in the newsletter I publish. She’s a psychotherapist and wanted to get her contact information into a business card-sized ad. I offered my assistance and in so doing found myself roped into a lengthy conversation. She specializes in bi-polar and depression therapy but when I asked if she wanted that listed on the ad she adamantly declined saying, “then you get all these suicidal people and they need you 24/7.” Well, yeah. So she asks me, “What do you think people turn to therapy for nowadays?” Um…isn’t SHE the therapist? And is she implying I should BE in therapy? So I say, “I guess from my experience and the friends that I know that have pursued counseling, it’s mainly for marital help.” “Oh yes!” She says, “Marital help!” and I swear I could hear her taking notes. (Is the thought of doing marital counseling a new one to her?) She says, “Did you find your marital counseling to be successful?” Is she looking for me to become a client? Is this not a bit too personal of a question? I try to avoid actually answering by saying, “It depends on how you measure success, I suppose.” “What do you mean?” she says. I say, “Well, it didn’t save the marriage, but it helped me to see that it wasn’t a marriage that could be saved.” “Oh! Why couldn’t it…” and before she can say another word I tell her I have the layout of her ad finished and I’ll email it right over, if she has any further questions, please let me know.


Today, a woman at my office asked me about my Thanksgiving. I said I had enjoyed a quiet, peaceful weekend. She asked if I had my son for the holiday and I explained that no, he was with his father. She asked, “Is your ex husband good with your son?” I answer dismissively, “yes, he’s a good dad” hoping we can be done with the topic, but no, she continues. “Is he remarried?” Well, that’s an interesting question considering the circumstances, so I say, “He’s involved with someone, yes.” I turn back to my desk hoping she seriously drops the subject at this point. But, no, I was not to be so lucky. She says, “Does she have kids?” Well, she is a HE, but “yes” was my only answer. “Does she try to be a mom to your son?” Well, since he’s a DAD, “No, not at all.” “Oh, that’s good….my ex’s wife thinks she’s the grandmother of our kids! Can you imagine?” Well, step-grandmother, yes. My step-mom is a grandmother to my kids, but I shake my head in the politically correct way and say, “No, I can’t imagine!” And off she trots, happy with herself.

I have been out on a date with a new guy before, (imagine that!) and at some point the conversation will turn to why I’m divorced (naturally). I remember one guy seemed to be stunned that I am so amicable with my ex. He finally said that he didn’t understand why I was divorced if I could be such good friends with him. So I explained. He seriously slapped the table and shouted, “he is NOT!!! No freaking way! You are making this up!” Dude, if I could make it up, I promise it’d be better than that.

I have been known, when prodded in a less innocent manner by a less pleasant individual to simply state “My ex husband is gay” and just lay it out there for all its awkwardness (for the person asking, I’m over it -mostly ). But in normal conversation I guess I try to just bite my tongue. It would just be too much of a topic for the situation, I suppose. I realize it’s not common enough for people to be careful about what they say, but I’m not certain of how I’m supposed to respond anymore. I’m not one who is prone to lie, but I have also been known to be too blunt in some cases, so I try to hold my tongue and not make people choke when I reply. I really don’t want to be standing there with their jaw on the floor as I try to explain that it’s all really okay and it’s not that big of a deal or something to help them recover.

We live in such an interesting world anymore where assumptions are more often wrong than right. There seems to be nothing “safe” left to say. And yet, as I can recognize that none of these people, or any of the many many others I’ve encountered have meant any harm, it doesn’t make the situation any easier on my part. I feel like I’m continually trying to make the asker more comfortable, to save them from unforeseen pain and embarrassment, and yet, I was the one who was in the wretched position to begin with. I was the one who had to battle to come to terms with all of it, full of pain and embarrassment.

Maybe I just need a witty retort that would save us both from continuing the conversation. I just find myself on emotional eggshells at any hint of the topic that I can’t be clever about it anymore. That and some days it doesn’t feel very funny.

I wonder how LM will answer when put in similar situations. I know right now he answers with the innocence of a child who doesn’t understand the reaction he might get to his unique situation, but that will change. All too soon that will change.

I know that homosexuality in America is ‘every day’ enough to be on prime time TV (not to say that I think that makes it “right” but I’m not forging that argument here today) but in my town, in LM’s elementary school, in my circle of friends, family, co-workers, I do not know one single soul who has gay ex spouse. My situation isn’t responded to as commonplace, it’s the sort of situation that gets you a free flight to the Jerry Springer show. For years I have been able to handle the innocent questions about my “mom and dad” from someone who doesn’t know my mom passed away a dozen years ago. They don’t know, I understand that. But somehow, to explain that she passed away is simply understood. It’s a normal situation. It’s not so out of the blue that it leaves the person speechless. I don’t know how to handle these questions with such ease.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Nothin' But The Facts, Ma'am

The good: when I balanced my checkbook tonight to pay bills I discovered a math error in the thereabouts of $250 in my own favor. WOOHOOO!! (How I missed it to begin with, I’ll never know).

The bad: still haven't heard back on my interview. Not hearing can't be good news.

The ugly: my puppy puked. eeeeewwwwwwwww

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Want To Play A Game?

Last night as I was watching football an IM popped up on my computer from my Little Man. He was in Pittsburgh with his dad and had logged onto the computer to play one of his games. We got to chat back and forth for a little bit and then he wanted to play chess through messenger with me. I'm very rusty at the game, I learned it to teach him a number of years ago when a friend of mine suggested that LM might love to play it, and now LM plays far more often than I do. But we played a couple of games and it just touched my soul. He is so smart, and so gifted and just 'gets' this stuff. I need a cheat sheet to remember how the rook can move and what the bishop can do and even then I'm making horrible choices. At one point, he types, "Move the queen, Mom. The queen." I about died laughing. He's trying to help his poor mom be a better chess player. He's NINE.

Today he called on his way home to say he and his dad had just been in a car accident. Everyone was okay, but it shook him up and shook me up, too. I miss him so. Sometimes being a mom is harder than I ever imagined.

He'll be home on Tuesday. One more day.

P.S. extra credit points for anyone who knows what movie the title is from. (LM would know!)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Party Of One

I know the holiday season can be difficult when you’re single. I know. I’ve been single for five years now. Because of our shared custody and with relatives on both sides living at least 6 hours away if not further, we don’t “split” holidays, we just give the holiday entirely to one or the other.

What this translates into is that I spend either Christmas or Thanksgiving alone each year. The first few years I used the time for major projects (catching up on years of scrapbooking or painting my condo, for example) other times I used the time to watch “classic” movies and their sequels that I had never gotten around to before. Godfather was the film choice one year.

But I’ve steadily become so accustomed to spending the time alone that I don’t think twice about it. People around me seem to have more difficulty with the notion than I do. I thought perhaps I could highlight some of the reasons why I enjoy the time so much. Don’t misunderstand me, I would LOVE to have LM for every day and every holiday but if he can’t be here then I’ll try to take advantage and enjoy the time.

Here is Amy’s list of why it’s GREAT to be single for the holidays:

1. It’s 9:30pm and I just got now got out of my jammies, took a bath and put on clean jammies.
2. There was nothing on the television today besides SportsCenter and football. I didn’t have to surrender the remote ONCE.
3. I had three meals today that required absolutely no cooking; I ate them whenever I was hungry and with no consideration to anything else and I ate all three of them in the living room while watching tv.
4. The kitchen table is covered with the necessary supplies for G’s album. I feel no need to clear it off before a meal or before going to bed for the day.
5. I was able to properly ogle a pair of rustic brown leather boots in the Boston Proper catalogue that lace up the front but have a hidden side zipper for those of us with calves that aren’t supermodel thin. The cost of over $200 did deter me from actually buying them, but I was able to ogle them for a little while at least, without any guilt or anyone accusing me of being ridiculous.
6. “Jammies” means a soft, worn in, tattered t-shirt and sweats. I haven’t given a single thought to looking sexy for bed in years. It’s all about comfort and warmth!
7. When football ended earlier this evening, I picked up the latest book from my favorite author and started reading without a single interruption. I’ll finish the book before I’ll close my eyes tonight.
8. I have finished all my Christmas shopping. There was no one here to contradict my choices, to ensure I adhered to a spending policy other than my own or to suggest that I overdid for my family and underdid for theirs.
9. I didn't have to be nice to anyone I didn't feel like being nice to.
10. I didn’t make my bed today. Even better, I put my sheets in the wash and never moved them to the dryer so tonight I’m sleeping on blankets and under blankets. Doesn’t bother me at all, but it’d be a pain in the neck if I had to share.

Maybe it’s just because being selfish feels so indulgent that I treasure these days. I would rather be with my son and with my family, don’t get me wrong, but the distance and the finances don’t allow that to happen each and every time. It’s just times like these when I like to see all the simple joys I’ve gained and not the pieces that are still missing.

So You Say You're From Where?

Sooooo…I turn on SportCenter this morning to get my daily fix of news and humor from yesterday’s athletics and I’m half paying attention while I work on G’s scrapbook and munch on a few crackers and I hear “Huntley, Illinois” which is a tiny little town in northern Illinois significant only because I grew up about 10 miles north of there. I wonder, “Why is Huntley, Illinois on SportsCenter?” and then they tell me. It was the Annual Turkey Testicle Festival. For $3 you could contribute to local charities by partaking in the Midwest’s version of Rocky Mountain Oysters.

And people ask me what brought me to Pennsylvania.

Need I say more?

(P.S. Aren't you glad I can't post pictures?!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Put Some Gratitude In Your Attitude

I am thankful for:

Little Man. I could make a whole list of reasons why but my life isn’t long enough.
My sister, Bear, Little Bird and George.
My brother, G.
My dad, whom I miss today.
My step-mom
My G’ma and G’pa that are in Illinois
The people that help care for my G’ma and G’pa
My friends and all the states they live in
My mother, whom I miss everyday
My home
Gabriel, Scout and Jonah
My job and my hopes at finding a new one
My dependable car
Music
Freedom
A table full of Christmas gifts to wrap
Photographs
Email
Books
Heat
Sunshine
Plants and flowers
My faith
Laughter
Hugs
Warm, soft sweatshirts
Days off
My family's woodworking talents
that I have known true love
my education
a stocked fridge
birdfeeders
football
high def
the holiday spirit
my friendship with my ex husband
the real reasons why we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas
my mom’s letters



Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone. Take time to count your blessings and say thanks today and everyday! May God Bless!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Naturally

It’s Tuesday night but I’m not watching the Amazing Race. Since I’m still able to sit on my couch and puppers hasn’t floated up to the ceiling I’m certain the earth is still rotating on its axis just fine. I flipped on “The Natural” earlier, a movie I have never seen and I am so hooked on at this hour that I haven’t switched over to my favorite show, Race. Maybe it’s because it’s about baseball. Maybe it’s because it’s about integrity. Maybe it’s the wrinkles around Robert Redford’s eyes that I can see even though they’re not yet there. Maybe it’s just because watching something classic, something romantic in essence has captivated me tonight.

In any case, consider me enraptured.

Monday, November 21, 2005

With a Side Of Shampoo

Upon the realization that a holiday is actually just days away, I made it a point to stop by the groc (short for ‘grocery store’ and pronounced, ‘grosh’) to stock up. I have previously made the mistake of not stocking up prior to a holiday when I didn’t have Jacob and realizing the only thing open that day for food was the Wawa (like a 7-11, but way better!)

It’s just me for the duration so my cart was full of soup, frozen dinners, cereal, popcorn and soda. I get to the checkout and the woman says “So, are you hosting Thanksgiving this year?” Um, yeah, and I’m serving garden vegetable soup with a side of Golden Grahams and natural light popcorn for dessert. Come on over!!

So THIS is why I usually do the self check-out!!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Ah Yes, The Happy Holidays

After trying to drive home from the movie yesterday in surprisingly (to me) heavy traffic with drivers that were making driving a fourth priority on their list of things to do at the moment I realized: Holiday shopping is upon us. With no travel plans (heck, no plans whatsoever) for the Thanksgiving holiday I had somehow lost track of the fact that here in America we are on the cusp of the worst five weeks of the year. Worst in the did-you-really-want-to-just-go-to-the-store-for-necessities kind of a way. From here on out, a simple trip to get bread and milk will take four times as long. I’ll have to battle for any available pump at the gas station and God forbid I need to actually go to a store NEAR the mall (I rarely have use for the mall itself) I will never find a parking spot even if my needs have nothing to do with the holiday.

I got down to business this morning to alleviate my need to ever leave my house again until after Christmas is over.

LM and I logged onto our favorite website, the great and powerful, Amazon.com and looked up the gifts we wanted for my niece and nephew. Little Bird has a birthday in early December so we were on double-duty for her. Offering free shipping we thought we had hit the ultimate in jackpots! We would have them gift wrap the presents for the cost we’d normally spend on shipping and have them sent directly to my sister’s door and we’d have taken care of the whole of it from start to finish! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed at all to putting time into a great gift. Not in the least (i.e. my brother’s scrapbook) I do however HATE having to fight the Wal*Mart rednecks for wrapping paper and the hour-long wait at the post office just to mail ONE box. This was my ticket to holiday paradise.

Only our gifts didn’t qualify for free shipping after all. So, we trudged off to Wal*Mart and found half of the things we wanted. Darted over to Kmart and found the rest of what we needed. Upon returning home, I set LM down at the computer to order his gift for ME. You need to understand that as a single mom, with all my relatives living far away, it’s difficult for LM to buy something for ME without ME there. We used to go to his store of choice, and I’d find a salesperson to help him pick out some things, bag them and then I’d just come up to pay the total, but somehow last year the sales woman seemed to think it was completely reasonable for an 8 year old to spend $94 on one person and so we had quite a time at check out with me explaining that she would have to UNpackage several of the items as I wasn’t paying nearly that much for ME.

So, LM was given a couple of websites of stores he knows I like. But apparently he stumbled upon something totally different and got so excited about it that I couldn’t tell him no. When his dad arrived (at noon to pick him up to go to Pittsburgh. I ask, what part of noon is “first thing Sunday morning” as he had said earlier in the week?! Ahhh, ex husbands…) he helped him through the check-out process on the website as I was forbidden to see any of it and they even decided to have it shipped to his dad’s so I couldn’t see the return address on the box. I’m afraid. I’m very very afraid. But I promise not to peek at the my bank account statement when it arrives.

BUT, this is to say, we are very close to having what we need to have done. I picked out several items for LM today as well and have an idea of a couple stops to make early this week to get some of the rest.

I might actually enjoy the season after all. Now, if I could just think of my clever, catchy, one-of-a-kind, self-created Christmas card theme/card/picture/letter deal, I’d be all set!


P.S. just to add to the irony that is my life, my sister tells me today after all my dilemmas and agonizing yesterday over Harry Potter that they bought LM a collectible HP magic wand for Christmas from the Skymall on the plane. Read that: no return option. I cannot catch a break on this, it would seem.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Lessons Learned

I have tried to blog four times already tonight and I'm really struggling with it. I’m writing with constant thought to the arguments that will be put against me and that’s not why I blog. I blog because I want to express myself only for my own benefit. Not for an audience.

So if you came here to rail against me, please take it elsewhere. If you read the following and feel the need to correct me in my opinion I will ask that you keep in mind I’m not writing this for you. I just need to spell it out for me. I need to remember today.

I have struggled today with anguish and heartache, guilt and shame. I have had to come to my knees tonight to find the resolution that brings peace to my heart again. I believe there is no higher priority in my own life than to raise a moral child. Today I saw how far off-track I had allowed myself to get by indulging in something that seems so “innocent”. I am constantly reminded of how the indulgences we permit our children when they are young can germinate and grow into bigger, unintended evils later in life. I do not indulge in Halloween. My son is clear on all the why’s and understands my beliefs on the subject. I have an inability to rationalize the violence and destruction of college students (and adults) on Mischief Night without taking it back to its roots as an “innocent” holiday tradition. I have never believed that any single aspect of witchcraft, sorcery or magic is ever simply “innocent imagination”.

Which is why, today, I am utterly ashamed that I gave in to the Harry Potter phenomenon. I did not give in without a fight. I was valiantly opposed initially. For all the above reasons, and all the reasons the Christian Voice stated over and over at the time of the first and subsequent book releases. My sister battled me heavily. She did not understand how I could let LM enjoy Star Wars and not let him read Harry Potter. I still did not give in. LM can state a hundred examples of the analogy of Star Wars to the Christian teachings; good v. evil, light v. dark, etc. He can make the leap to understand why Annakin thought the dark side SEEMED powerful and enticing and how it led him to his death and the Hell that was graphically demonstrated in Sith. He gets it. Very clearly.

I gave in to HP when LM came home from school and said the kids were playing “Harry Potter” on the playground and LM didn’t know the characters and felt left out. I felt horrible. I have such a soft place in my heart for being “left out” in school and I didn’t want to contribute to that.

Today, we watched the fourth movie. I had read parts of the first book long ago, and have listened to LM talk about the subsequent books but I was ill-prepared today. The lines that seem so clear in SW seem so grey in HP to me. Everyone is a part of the magic. Everyone is a bit of a sorcerer. I left the theater with an extremely heavy heart. I spent the day cranky and irritable and found myself arguing with my sister once again on the phone.

What I know to be true is that HP does not fit into the moral teachings that I bring to this home. It may work for others, it may not seem nearly so evil to anyone else, but I cannot sit peacefully by and excuse it or forgive it. I can’t. LM and I spent quite awhile this evening talking this all through. I explained exactly how I felt about it and gave all the reasons why. I explained peer pressure and how it caused me to give in when I had originally stood firm. And I handed the choice over to him. I told him that he was going to need to think about it and decide for himself what he thinks God thinks on the subject. He could choose for himself whether or not HP was innocent or whether it planted seeds that were not in accordance with Christian teachings. I explained how God spoke to me through the guilt on my heart today and how he needed to listen to his own heart and decide. Not an easy thing, not by a long shot, but deciding religion and beliefs for yourself is a lifelong struggle but learning to take ownership of those beliefs and not accepting them for the sake of your upbringing is something I think is best learned early. He may very well make the decision not to read the books anymore because he knows I’m morally opposed. He might. But I hope to help him decide it for himself. I have expressed to him the right for us to disagree, and that I will not ban the books or movies from the house as I believe he can decide that for himself. It’s a start.

I am headed to bed tonight with the voice of a woman I knew years ago ringing loudly in my mind. I remember talking with her when LM was but an “itty” and her children were pre-teens. She remarked at how ‘easy’ it was when they were so tiny. Sleep-deprived, starving, exhausted, harried, and skeptical I questioned her on how she could ever think so when her children were now remarkably independent and could certainly feed, dress, clean and entertain themselves. She explained to me that the ‘itties’ are so physically demanding, but as they get older they are so emotionally demanding. Raising children is a daunting task in and of itself. Raising moral children can feel impossible. Providing food, clothing and shelter is nothing compared to providing them with a moral compass on their heart that will guide them when they are no longer under your watch. Letting them learn the lessons and the reasons behind the lessons can be far more exhausting than any sleepless night with an infant.

She was absolutely right.

I will never get it all right. I will never be a perfect parent. But I pray that God continues to steer me and speak to my heart when I get off-course. And I pray that I continue to listen.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Profile Pic

Knock On Wood

I’m not superstitious. Not in the least. I own a black cat. I walk under ladders. I don’t throw salt over my shoulders and I don’t have a lucky pair of anything that I wear when I cheer on my favorite team. All that said, I don’t want to talk about my day today just yet. Hopefully I’ll talk about it next week and tell you the whole kit n’ caboodle but for today I just want to shush about it and hold onto my hopes.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Monday, Monday, Can't Trust That Day

Today was a Monday. The calendar may say otherwise, but I know that it was.

Yesterday, I sent out five resumes. In this world of technology, it took two of the companies only 24 hours to email me the news that I still suck and they do not wish to even speak to me about employment. Another called and started to leave a message on my machine but was cut off before I know what company or what she had to say about it.

Today was inspection day for my vehicle. For those unfamiliar, like I was before moving to Pennsylvania, the state enjoys mandating an annual inspection and emissions test that alone will cost nearly $80, but the joy is that the lucky mechanic can also decide your tires are too bald, your brakes are too worn, your transmission is in need of overhaul, or maybe your blinkers just need blinker fluid. So the total bill is never to come under $100, but must at the very least triple that. So, despite driving a relatively new car (an ’03) and faithfully rotating my tires, I still had to replace two of them today and very nearly all four but the other two passed by the hair of a flea and I was saved that much. For now. I left $300 poor-er but with all the necessary stickers and paperwork to keep the police from pulling me over. At least for that reason.

In addition, the appraiser came by tonight. It’s all an effort to show my mortgage company that I do, in fact, own more than the necessary 20% of my home (I stand firm that I must own the bath AND the closet by now) and no longer need to carry the accompanying insurance that I’m paying through the nose for. The man was seriously not in my house for more than 3 minutes, took pictures of my kitchen and bathrooms, asked many a quick question about my dog and left with my $300 check in hand. I need a job that pays $100 a minute.

In about a half hour, a notary is stopping by for my John Hancock on paperwork to officially seal the deal on getting my finances in better shape. Although it would seem from today’s activities that they are getting worse by the second.

I have paid the bills and found myself to have about enough again for a coke. A small one, at that. I am grateful that I at least can pay the bills, and the mechanic and the appraiser, although one of those will have to be truly paid at a later date. But I am wondering how I am going to get through the holidays with only one small coke to share.

Ah, sigh. A Monday, certainly. I do hope that somehow the world rights itself by morning and I find it to truly feel like a Friday. If you can keep a secret, I have tickets (free, even!) to the premier of Harry Potter on Saturday. LM doesn’t know a thing about it. Shhh…don’t ruin the surprise. On Sunday he leaves to go with his dad for the Thanksgiving holiday. I won’t see him for a week. That week will surely feel full of Mondays without him.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Wednesday Evening

I could blog. I could.

But I’d rather listen to Anna Nalick tonight.

Besides, Lost is on in two hours. It’s far more entertaining than this blog. Go watch it. You’ll see.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

And To Think She Called ME!

Call me a slow learner.

My sister called tonight. We hadn’t talked all weekend and she wanted to chit chat and catch up.

Exactly two minutes into the conversation she starts talking to Bear. Apparently he has lost his cell phone. So, my sister picks up the house phone and starts dialing his cell number so they can listen to it ring. But they don’t hear it. So then she has to call her friend that they went to dinner with tonight to see if it’s at her house and ringing. But it’s not. So this whole time she back and forth with me on the phone, “Sorry, I’ll be right there….I’m so sorry…” Bear decides maybe the phone is outside since he was working on the wood pile today. So she goes back to dialing and dialing and dialing. And then she’s yelling at him through the windows because he’s flashing the light at her and she doesn’t know if that means he found it or what. I say, “I think if he found it, he’d answer it.” Just a thought. After much yelling back and forth to tell her to keep dialing, he finds it. In the leaves. Which he nearly wiped out on cause they’re slick and all.
And silly me, I thought we were back to our conversation after this 15 minute intermission.

But I was wrong. Remember, despite my four point in college, I’m a Slow. Learner. The oven timer goes off and she needs to get the nuts out of the oven. She’s in charge of snacks for Little Bird’s class tomorrow, so she makes these yummy nut things. And then she starts yelling at George because he wants a cookie, but she’s in the middle of taking hot stuff out of the oven. And then she explodes the sauce in the microwave and it goes all over the place. George still wants a cookie and she screams that she’ll be with him in FIVE minutes.

We try to have a conversation. I try to introduce a couple of things from my life to her. (With an eldest sister, I’ve found it’s best to ease into the ‘big’ ticket items in your life. She’ll come around to the concept easier that way.) But I can’t even spit three words out and we’re interrupted, so here I am trying to say something significant like…”So, Jules, there’s this guy that wants me to move to Aruba…” and she’s not even hearing me. Ugh.

She asks, after all of this, if she can call me right back. George is hysterical and she can’t find Bear. Sure, why not, call me right back. I’m SURE it will be better then.

She calls back, talks to me for about three minutes to finish up the story of my Saturday night (worthy of a blog in and of itself), she tells about how they went to three different Lowe’s to find Christmas candles for their windows and put them all together only to discover she doesn’t like them and now she has to take them all apart and return them. And her friend calls to find out if they ever found the phone. And then she has to go. Little Bird’s hair isn’t dry and George needs to be rocked and she’s got her hands full…..

Ah, yes, always nice catching up with Jules…

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Gift

To say I’m crying wouldn’t even scratch the surface. It’s been so long since tears have poured like this.

My brother, G was 13 when my mom died. He has spent the years since begging for us to tell the stories again and again, trying to find memories of her locked in his mind, envious of my sister and me for the long memories we have of her, including the years before cancer. He doesn’t have those, he was only two when her world and ours changed.

I decided this summer that I wanted to do something, create something to give him parts of her that I have only from the luxury of being 8 years older. I decided I would make a scrapbook and include photos of mainly him and of him and Mom. I would write down some of the favorite stories for him to read anytime he wanted to. I would give him this book, this collection of memories to call his own. For him to own and hold and pour over and read and cry upon, and grieve. To finally grieve.

I had to ask for help. I asked my sister and my dad for any photos that they might have that would be useful to this purpose. Neither of them is nearly as sentimental as my brother or I am, but they were more helpful than I had anticipated and both sent me boxes of photos about a month ago.

Just this past week I worked up the courage to open them. I know this is for G, but I knew it meant digging through photos of when I was little, and when she was healthy and it’s all I can do to get through it sometimes. To cope with seeing her. It’s been 12 years, but sometimes it only feels like a day ago that I heard her laughing.

In my sister’s box were 20 photos or so and a stack of envelopes. There must be 100 letters in this box that my mom wrote to her parents over the course of 10 years or so. I’m sure it’s not all of them, but it covers an enormous span of time. I have been pouring over them with the objective to find snippets about G that I can copy and include in his book.

As I sat her tonight reading letter after letter in no particular order at all, many not even dated, I realized that these pages are absolutely the greatest gift I will ever hold in my hands. They tell me of things I never knew and things I know all too well. They tell her side of the story. They tell of things she found important and things she found joy in. They tell of her faith and her struggles with it at times. They tell of us kids and how she felt as a mom. These letters have become the scrapbook more so than the photos. These are her words, and G will treasure them as much as I do.

I just sat and wrote a letter to my grandmother. God bless her, she has buried two of her three children. I told her what an incredible gift these letters are. I thanked her for saving them for all of these years and for giving them to us that we might know Mom this way.

And with the tears still rolling, as I was writing to G’ma, I realized that if my mom were alive, she would have a stack of letters from me about my life, and my child and my loves and my faith. And someday she’d give them to my kids.

I miss her so much tonight. Having her writing in my hands brings her so close I can almost hear her voice. I can almost see her expression. I know she’s in Heaven, and while I don’t know that she’s spending her time watching all of us down here, I know that God had a hand in these letters all along. God made her talk through writing for a reason. God gave her such a warm, tender, caring mom for her to turn to, and He moved them far enough apart to have record of their conversations on paper. He knew I would need them someday.

It’s all I can do not to call G and fly him up here from Atlanta this very minute and sit on the floor and read through every single one of these letters. Just him, and me, and Mom.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Well, That's One Solution

My sister called a bit ago. She was planting daffodil bulbs alongside her driveway (using Bear’s drill to dig the holes – THAT will not be a wise choice when he finds out) and talking on the phone to me. Such an over-achiever. She was telling me about how their mailbox has been knocked down for about the 10th time since they moved in last year. Bear hollered for George and off they went down the driveway to fix it. When they came in there seemed to be some giggling and some whispering and when she asked what they had been up to, they both said “nothing” with a little too much practice behind it. When pressed, little 5 year old George said, “Daddy and I put boards with nails sticking up around the mailbox and hid them with leaves.” Julie said, as calmly as possible, “Why did you two do that?” George said, “So that when the people try to knock our mailbox down again they will get a flat tire!” and laughed and laughed. Julie glared at Bear and George said, “Daddy wants them to get a flat tire so he can SMACK them!” Julie gasped, “WHAT?” Bear looked all stern at George, knowing he had just shared a bit too much with Mom, and George, knowing he had said something wrong tried to save himself and said, “He didn’t say he’d ‘smack the CRAP’ out of them, Mom, he’d just said he'd smack ‘em!”

I told her she had officially achieved White Trash status as far as I was concerned.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

It's All Percolating

I wish I liked coffee. Or tea. To me they both taste like you plucked something off the ground, crushed it up, ran boiling water over it and strained it. Oh, wait, that IS what you do. At any rate, I have moments when I envy those who relax with a cup of hot bean water.

This morning, due to the shift in the clocks this weekend, I am up earlier than necessary again. My body didn’t get the memo that the time has moved so I find it difficult to keep my eyes open long enough to watch football at night, and difficult to believe the alarm clock when I wake before it does. I’m sitting here this morning, fresh out of the shower with oodles of time to get dressed, watching the birds at the feeders and enjoying the morning light. A cup of joe seems to be all that’s lacking for a more picturesque moment. Coffee is like the wine of the morning.

Today feels filled with promise. Slowly but surely I am getting things in my life sorted out and arranged better. Last night Edmund in Texas helped me get one step closer financially to some of my goals. Today I will make another phone call that will help in that regard. Pieces to the bigger picture.

All in all, I know that life is good. I know that the things I want to accomplish are attainable. But I recognize the time between now and the realization of some of those goals. I might want a house in the country with all my heart, but I know that I’m a few years from being able to make that happen. I might want to plan a vacation of my own choosing, but I know that won’t happen in 2006.

I might also want to be in a relationship again, but I am well aware that I’m not even close to being ready for one. I have a great dislike for myself and an extreme mistrust of others that makes a relationship more than just a challenge, it makes it impossible. I am the queen of sabotage for anyone that tries. I will get there. I will get to the place where I feel like I have a lot to offer someone again, but I’m not there now. While we are all works in progress, I’m still building the foundation. I need time. I don’t want to carry all my issues into a new relationship. I want to resolve them first.

Winter is coming. Far from my favorite season, but this year it reminds me of the self-inflicted hibernation I’m in. It’s a season of the year and of my life when stepping back and regrouping leads to an incredible springtime. I look forward to the day when I feel like I have some of my ducks in a row. When I feel prepared to face the world knowing I have already faced my demons and won.

To that, I raise my non-existent cup of java and say “cheers!”

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

So That Would Make Me How Old, Exactly?

This morning over breakfast, LM was telling me about a project his class was working on in Art. It involved creating quadrants of the same image by using printer’s blocks and rolling ink across them. I started to tell him a story about how my dad used to take me up to the high school printing room and layout posters for school plays and “print” them using that very same technique. I said, “This was all before computers and such.” LM said, “Before electricity, you mean?”

I put the sign out for the gypsies this morning. “Free. One nine year old boy. Slightly beaten.”