29 December 2010
I feel like I'm kind of cheating on the Favorite HNT theme this year. With only a handful of shots, it was pretty damn easy to whittle it down.
I chose two.
The one you see below probably expresses the real me better than any photo has in quite some time. It's just me, the sun and the road. It's times like this that I feel the most freedom from all of the noise in my head and in my world.
The *click* (for those of you new here, clicking on the picture will give you a different - NSFW - photo)? I am a very tactile person. I vividly remember the feeling of that silk scarf dancing lightly on my skin when I took that photo.
Yesterday, our Aunt Becky put up a post about her son Ben, who just happens to be on the autism spectrum. In discussing his "rejection" of her, she writes:
The older he got, the worse I felt. The pain was exquisite. It was compounded when I enrolled in school full-time to earn my nursing degree while working part-time as a waitress/bartender over the weekends as I didn’t see my son much.
He didn’t care.
I, however, cared very, very much.
While reading this I had one of those moments where a thought bubble containing a light bulb appeared over my head. And why is it a light bulb? Why not a telephone or chop sticks? Those are both inventions too! Anyway, light bulb moment.
For most of my life I have "battled" with my family about my level of attachment to them. Yesterday, I received an email from my Aunt Wiener (don't ask - long story) that said, in part:
I hope you and Cam had a great Christmas. I am going to say something that I hope you take in the vein it is given ~ with love. You sure have pulled away from family. I understand your need to live your own life and respect that, but it is as though you are just a person we once knew. Whether you realize it or not, you do have people that love you and care about you, but you seem to pull away and want to do life your way or the highway.
I believe that it is a sad day when your parents and family have to go on Facebook to make sure you are still around ~ somewhere.
I sat down and wrote a lengthy email response, attempting to explain - yet again - that my lack of attachment has little (nothing?) to do with the family and everything to do with me ... which prompted me to write a very overdue email to my parents.
In it I told them that I understand my lack of communication and regular updates looks selfish, purposeful and might even be seen as a reflection of negative feelings towards the family. That I struggle with relationships, be they family relationships, romantic relationships, work relationships or friendships. That I know what others expect and, although I can manage it for a while, it becomes emotionally overwhelming and exhausting. That I refuse to make another promise to be better at keeping them in the loop when I know that I cannot keep it. That my actions are not some passive-aggressive way of lashing out for perceived childhood wrongs.
I also shared with them that I now realize that I was likely a much more difficult child than I ever owned up to.
I concluded the email with, "I just want what everyone else wants, to be accepted for who I am, for it to be OK for me to be me."
In spite of my pity party on Christmas, I know that my family cares a lot about me and Cam. I know they love us. I also know that I don't show them my love in the way they expect to see it, and that makes their hearts heavy.
Some of you might think I should change - that I should do what everyone else does and be a "good" daughter. That I should quit being selfish and thinking only about what I want.
I don't know. Would tell a blind person to just try harder to see? That they should just do what everyone else does and be a "good" citizen? To quit being so selfish and expecting others to lead them around obstacles?
A bad analogy? No ... even though many of you may want to argue the point, it's actually surprisingly accurate.
28 December 2010
Click the pic to find me today and (most) every Tuesday ...
27 December 2010
There's nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning
and not be a child.
~ Erma Bombeck
Maybe that is where the sadness came from - memories of childhood Christmases that revolved around family and, at least for a few minutes on Christmas morning, knowing that people were thinking of me.
We all, at some level, want to be acknowledged and validated.
Last year was a difficult Christmas. The move out of husband's house was still raw and scary, but people opened their hearts and made it one of the most memorable Christmases for Cam and me.
This year? They were gone. I should be all settled now, right? Last Christmas may have been difficult, but someone else needs more attention than I do, right??
Yes, I did find find joy in giving. A few opportunities to pay it forward, trying to recreate that joy that I felt last year, for a few people who really needed it this year. I hope I was successful.
Cam had gifts under the tree and a stocking filled to the brim. He hadn't asked for much, instead wanting to spend money that would have been spent on him on others (primarily his girl friend).
I keep telling myself it shouldn't have bothered me that there was nothing under the tree for me. After all, Christmas is about giving, not receiving, right? I was able to provide for my son and share some joy with others. That should have been enough, right?
Yet waking up Christmas morning and facing the fact that there was nothing for me - that other things (people) were more important - hit hard. It made my heart heavy.
I snapped when we picked up Cam's girlfriend Christmas morning and she began reciting the long list of gifts she had received. UGG boots, a flat screen TV for her bedroom, $250 in gift cards. I was disappointed that I wasn't able to do that for Cam and angry that her "bragging" resulted in Cam trying to "justify" the few things he did get.
My snotty toned, "You know, Christmas isn't about all of the things you got" comment managed to quickly shut her up and simultaneously piss off Cam.
A phone call from my step-son Christmas Eve led me to believe that Cam and I would be making a visit to husband's house - spending time with family - something that really has far more value to me than any material gift possibly could.
A text message from husband Christmas morning took that gift away. He was irritated that plans hadn't been made far enough in advance and told the kids not to come for Christmas. There would be no opportunity to spend time with what little family I have here.
My father, who specifically asked what Cam wanted for Christmas, didn't come through with one of the few things that was on Cam's list. I knew I shouldn't have trusted him with something Cam actually asked for, but hoped beyond hope that he would come through for his grandson even though he never came through for me as a child. He didn't. I was silly to think he'd do things any differently than he has in the past.
There was an invitation for dinner from a dear friend, but I couldn't bring myself to go knowing that I would likely ruin a joyful day for others. I knew I wasn't in a place where I could fake being happy which meant going would have been extremely selfish. I stayed home.
I kept trying - really trying - to let go of the feeling of invisibility - of feeling like I just didn't matter to anyone - but the glaring reality was difficult to ignore, especially from my own family.
I take responsibility for most of this. I've built walls. I've kept people out so that they can't hurt me and instead I end up hurting myself. Somehow that is easier than letting other people do it.
I've got to figure out how to stop this. How to be a better judge of character, choosing relatively safe people to open up to. How to feel comfortable letting people in because keeping them out? That just invites misery and self-deprecation and honestly? I'm tired of feeling not good enough damn it!
25 December 2010
Thursday Thunks - The Christmas Version
C- What color/flavor candy cane should I put in your stocking?
In my world (a perfect, consistent, black and white world) this is a silly question. Candy Canes come in one color combination - red and white - and one flavor - peppermint - and I would prefer they be used for decorations on the tree rather than find their way to my stocking - EEUUUWWWW!
H- If Santa really comes down the chimney of people's houses and he busts out the bricks on the way down, do you think that is covered by his Christmas insurance?
I'm thinking Santa doesn't carry Christmas insurance ... which is why I live in an apartment without a fire place.
R- Did you know that rabbits eat their own poop to get the nutrients from the food that they didn't get from it the first time they ate it?
No, I didn't, but I think I'll suggest this to Cam as a means to lower our grocery budget.
I- Have you ever sucked on an icicle?
Is that a euphemism?? Ummm ... YES!
S- Do you think there is too much sex on tv?
I think there is not enough sex in my bedroom.
T- We're eating tacos. Taco sauce - hot, medium, mild or OMG my butthole is going to hurt tomorrow! ?
Is there a level above "OMG my butthole is going to hurt tomorrow"? I like a challenge!
M- Are you sick of Christmas music yet?
I love instrumental Christmas music - classical piano, symphonic and acoustic guitar. I could listen to that type of Christmas music all year long, and in fact I do. But that muzak crap pumped through every mall and grocery store speaker? I was done with that before it ever even started.
A- Add up the number of windows in your house, subtract that number by the number of doors you have in your house, multiply that by the number of hallways you have in your house and then add the number of light switches. Whats your answer?
4 windows - 4 doors * 0 hallways * 7 light switches = ZERO!
S- You build a snowman (yes you really do), what color hat do you have him wear? And now you are going to build a sand castle (yes, shut up, you do that too), does it have a moat?
Cross dressing Frosty will be wearing a red hat with a veil and the sand castle? A moat? Of course it has a mother fucking moat! It's a sand castle!
22 December 2010
Soooo ... do I get kicked out of HNT if I don't play by the "rules"?? I think not!
You say it's Three Wishes HNT week? I say I want to play Christmas Tree HNT this week. See, I don't like that three wishes crap - no one ever picked me (and it's all about me! Me! Me!) and I didn't have my tree up last week, so there!
Last year, just weeks after Cam and I left husband's house, I was decorating a freecycled tree with hand-me-down and misfit ornaments. There was something about this ornament that really touched my heart then, and still does now.
18 December 2010
Well, after much anxiety and stress, the year-end bonus checks arrived! I was expecting a significant decrease in the amount - the economy has hit my industry pretty hard (we manufacture products primarily used in new construction) - but was pleasantly surprised. Although there was a decrease in the bonus, I couldn't get past being abundantly grateful that we received one at all.
The best part? Anyone who was reading me last year knows that Cam and I were on the receiving end of AMAZING generosity. This year? We are able to pay that forward. Isn't that what Christmas is really about?? I mean other than the baby Jesus and all ...
I really miss HNT, and surprisingly, not for the nekkidness! Good self portraits are really difficult to take, especially if you want them to evoke feelings from the person looking at them.
Reviewing my Dana Does Digital photos, it became quite clear that I am far more comfortable taking pictures of things than people, and although things can and do arouse feelings, portrait photography takes that to a new level.
Time to work on the things that are more difficult for me rather than allowing myself to get too comfortable.
There are a couple of reasons for that. First and foremost, it's a project I strongly believe in. I see writing as free therapy - as a way to connect with others when what you feel is stifling loneliness. Band Back Together - the brain child of Mommy Wants Vodka's Aunt Becky - is a safe place to write and connect with other people.
I am far more of a behind the scenes person that a lead role person. I like knowing that I was part of the nuts and bolts that enabled a presentation to sparkle. In other words, I don't mind getting covered in glitter, I just don't want to step on the stage sparkling.
Aunt Becky asked if I would be interested in helping out with the editing of Band Back Together. Not only was I extremely flattered that she believed I had the skill set to successfully edit, but hell to the yes! This is right up my alley.
I edited my first post just a few days ago and plan on being an integral part of Band Back Together's continued success.
but comes through continuous struggle.
And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom.
A man can't ride you unless your back is bent.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
14 December 2010
Click the pic to find me today and (most) every Tuesday ...
13 December 2010
It answers the question so many of you are just dying to know, "What was the first line from your blog the first day of each month that you posted in 2010?"
January - 2009 was an interesting year, to say the least! (Little did I know that 2010 would be even more interesting)
February - You might understand, especially if you'll be celebrating Valentine's Day a little differently this year! (This post was titled "Overwhelmed" - not sure why I was so overwhelmed ... )
March - Today my Boo-Bear turns 14. (This - a birthday wish - will likely be my opening line every March 1st)
April - Good Friday. (And it was!)
May - I miss you too, but this isn't about us anymore - it's about the people in this family who are at the mercy of our decisions. (It was a Sunday Secret)
June - According to a recent article in the New York Times, Owners Stop Paying Mortgage ... and Stop Fretting About It, foreclosure is becoming a way of life for some folks. (A post on "Real Live Lesbian" - a weekly guest post gig I picked up this year)
July - For the past 20 years, the 4th of July has been far more than just a celebration of U.S. Independence. (A post reflecting on my husband Alan's death by suicide)
August - Olivia Harrison's parents spent a great deal of time looking into pre-kindergarten programs for their daughter. (Another guest post on "Real Live Lesbian")
September - Life is funny sometimes, giving you what you need to hear when you need to hear it. (A post about worry)
October - WooHoo?? It's October?? How the hell did that happen? (A Friday Wrap-Up Post)
November - Relationships. I suck at them. (A post on family facebook drama)
December - What is an auditor? Someone who arrives after the battle and bayonets the wounded. (The first day of the HUGE internal audit at work)
10 December 2010
Wow! I cannot remember the last time I posted only three times in a week. Now I realize some of you might think that is still too often ... ehhhh ...
Work continues to kick my ass. The auditors are ... well ... auditors. They ask for silly things, requiring I spend hours at the copy machine and then double that time at the file cabinet putting everything back in order. Any free time I have is spent doing my "regular" job.
The upside? I've managed a few hours of overtime the last two weeks - something that seldom happens. It's kind of nice right before Christmas.
Rumor has it the bonuses are still going to be paid out, but with the economy being what it is, I don't bank on rumors ... or do any Christmas shopping on rumors. Let's just say I may be asking Jay and Matt to do a radiothon for Cam should the bonus rumor turn out to be false.
I think, more than anything, it's the absence of information trickling down that is the most frustrating. I know there is a group of people who know exactly how this is going to be handled, but they are - for whatever reason - keeping that information to themselves. Assholes ...
- Picking up my geeky-chic glasses. That's right! I decided to embrace my inner geek and display it on my face. Or something like that. My glasses have been ready for pick up for a week, but it requires I travel to a MALL. AACCKKK!
- Doing laundry - lots and lots of laundry. The rule in my house is that I do not pick up clothes. I wash whatever is in the laundry basket. There has been nothing in Cam's laundry basket for three weeks now, and trust me, he doesn't have that many clothes. Something tells me this will be the week he realizes his clothes are now standing on their own on his bedroom floor.
- Shopping for the Secret Santa gift exchange at work. The accounting and IT departments get together every holiday season for a luncheon and Secret Santa gift exchange (can you say wild and crazy party animals?). We exchange names, and a list of three items - each under $20. We then buy one item off the list of the employee whose name we draw. I got an easy one this year that requires I shop a Starbucks. I like that!
- Writing out Christmas cards. That's right, this year I will be sending out a limited number of Christmas cards decorated by the students at Cam's therapeutic day school. I haven't seen them yet, but I have no doubt they'll be beautiful! If you'd like one adorning your holiday display, DM me on twitter or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) your mailing address.
07 December 2010
06 December 2010
Wanted to write with abandon?
Wished you could post something deeply personal on your blog?
Had something to share but feared the wrath of the trolls?
Or maybe you have family and friends who read your blog and speaking freely could create unwanted and unnecessary drama.
I'm not usually one who promotes other blogs. It's one of those things that can kind of snowball out of control and, quite frankly, if I think your blog sucks, I'm not going to to send people that direction to waste their time.
That said, occasionally a blog comes along that I think really has a purpose and fills a need. Band Back Together - where I posted Friday - is one of those blogs.
From the about page:
The brainchild of Aunt Becky from Mommy Wants Vodka, who, after delivering her third child, Amelia, who suffered from a neural tube defect at birth, realized (with the help of her amazing Band of Merry Pranksters) a need in the blog world for a place where we could all come to put our secrets down. A group blog that we could share our struggles and our triumphs as we walked through.
Band Back Together was formed.
So we invite you to put on your most comfortable pair of pants (or none at all, as the case may be) grab a drink or three, pull up a chair, make yourself nice and comfortable, and share your stories. Everybody needs a place where they can let it all out. Now you have it.
Don’t be shy now. Introduce yourself. Have a look around. There are all sorts of nooks and crannies for you to explore. Some may be empty now but soon will be brimming with people and stories. You’ll make some friends here; find some new people. Your people.
It’s safe here.
All the comments are moderated, all judgment checked at the door with your soggy wet clothes. Inside it’s warm and dry. We’re not here to judge how you feel or why you feel the way you do. So let it out. Write when you want to, support when you can and remember: you never know who might be helped by your words.
We’re none of us alone. It’s time to Band Back Together.
This was where I chose to share my feelings about hitting the one year mark away from husband because I knew that it would be OK just to be me. I knew that I could say, "You know this has really sucked at times" without someone stopping by and calling me a victim. I knew that other people considering leaving an abusive environment get tired of hearing, "Just leave" when it really isn't always that simple.
I am well aware that this type of writing just isn't what some of you do, but I also know there are quite a few of you out there who could really use this outlet and have valuable life experiences to share with others.
Think about it.
It's a good place!
03 December 2010
I have no regrets about my decision, other than I wish I'd made it sooner - before the damage became so severe. But I didn't.
I wish I could tell you it's been all glitter and unicorns. But it hasn't.
Sometimes life just doesn't sparkle.
You can read my reflections on the year here:
01 December 2010
Someone who arrives after the battle and bayonets the wounded.
29 November 2010
I debated whether or not to write this post.
Chances are, a few of you will act in your normal, judgmental fashion and feel compelled to spew your vile mortification. So, let me get this out of the way now.
Fuck you! I don't need, or want, to hear you condemnation of my parenting. I've questioned (and continue to question) how I failed in this situation. If you are inclined to use this as an opportunity to attempt to humiliate me, go away now. Clear?
While Cam was at Fall Retreat last weekend I went through his room. That's right ... I invaded his privacy. You see, I am a parent who believes privacy is earned. If I have reason to believe you are doing something illegal or harmful to yourself or others, I will go through your stuff (including text messages), for as long as you live in my home, I am legally responsible for your actions, and I pay for your cell phone plan.
Based on what I was hearing from the Addiction Counselor at Cam's school, I thought it might be a good idea to take a look-see.
The good news? I found no drugs nor any drug paraphernalia.
Instead, I found condoms and empty condom wrappers. OY!
I had an idea Cam and his GF were sexually active. I've talked to them together, and Cam individually, on several occasions. We've discussed that abstinence is preferred (especially at this age) but that if they decide to make adult decisions about having sex, they had better act in an adult way and use condoms - EVERY time.
The GF's mother and I operate on the same level. The two are not allowed to spend time together - alone (i.e. without an adult in the home) and doors to bedrooms remain open. Although this doesn't guarantee nothing will happen between the two, it certainly lessens the opportunity.
I thought I had my bases covered.
I was wrong.
Yesterday, I was visited by the mom of one of Cam's "friends" ... of the girl variety. This is not a girl who Cam has ever "dated", but she has been to the house on occasion and Cam has spent time at her house.
Apparently they've been spending some alone time together.
This conversation could have gone really, REALLY bad. We could have been talking about a 14-year old being pregnant rather than discussing her emotional and physical well-being (for that I am grateful).
I was thrilled (in an odd way) that her mother came to the house to talk to me. It was a conversation between two concerned parents rather than personal attacks and finger pointing.
We have a plan in place to address this.
I also promised the mother I would talk to Cam.
It's a good thing I had several hours to contemplate my approach on this as it allowed me to be calm (kind of) and rational (almost).
When Cam got home from his GF's house, I said, "We need to talk" - figured I had better get him used to the anxiety associated with those 4 words - he'll hear them many more times in his life.
I told him that I had been visited by "friend's" mother today and asked him if he had any idea why she might have stopped by. He told me he had an idea to which I replied "Tell me your idea."
He gave me that look - the one that says "I'm too embarrassed to tell you and besides, you already know."
I addressed his silence by saying, "If you are going to make adult decisions, you are going to sit down and have an adult conversation with me about your decisions." The look of horror on his face was priceless!
We did sit down and we did talk, about the physical ramifications of his actions (i.e. condoms are NOT an option and they are NOT reusable, no matter what his friends might tell him) the emotional ramifications of his actions (according to the mom, her daughter is now obsessed with Cam and is using her willingness to have sex with him as a means to "take him away" from his GF) and the ramifications on his future, her future, and the future of everyone else who would be impacted should there be a pregnancy.
This was not a discussion I expected to have with my 14-year old son. He is far too young (IMHO) to be sexually active. I explained that I was extremely disappointed in his decision and his actions, but that my greatest concern was for the emotional and physical well-being of all parties involved.
He understands that he will be buying condoms - I will finance the purchase, but he will go to the store, take them from the shelf, bring them to a cashier and pay for them. If he is too embarrassed to buy condoms he is not in a position to be making the decision to have sex.
And all the while I am feeling like a complete failure as a parent.
This is not what I wanted for my son.
I didn't think this was how I was parenting him.
Obviously I screwed up ... again ...
27 November 2010
As most of you know, I was kind of dreading Thanksgiving - by far my favorite holiday. Plans to head east for a blogger-Thanksgiving fell through (on my end) and I started throwing myself a pity-party.
Early in the week, I became rather disgusted with my shitty attitude and decided to see if I could find somewhere to spend my Thanksgiving helping others. Apparently everyone else was thinking the same thing!
The United Way puts on a big Thanksgiving Community meal at a Cultural Center near (defined as less than a one-hour drive) Podunk. I called them to see if I could help out. They had all of the volunteers they needed, but if I wanted to drop off a pie ... uhhhh ... no ...
Next call was to the Salvation Army near Podunk. Again, they had all of the volunteers they needed for serving their Thanksgiving meal.
Defeated, I decided I'd cook the turkey for Cam and I and celebrate anyway, but then something magical (like unicorns and rainbows magical) happened ...
Y'all know Aunt Becky from Mommy Wants Vodka (NOT to be confused with Vodka Mom who may or may not have changed her blogger identity to ride the coattails of a more well-knows name), right? Well, she and The Daver (and Ben, and Alex and Amelia too) live about 45 minutes from me. I had made several attempts to meet up with her (i.e. said I'd head her way and never did), but social anxieties got the best of me ... until Thursday ...
I'm actually a little surprised she didn't ban me from the bright yellow house based solely on my level of flakiness in the past.
Seems our Aunt Becky and her family were going to be spending Thanksgiving alone, and I had a bacon wrapped turkey. Clearly this was a match made in heaven.
Late Thursday afternoon, me, my bacon wrapped turkey, the fixings for dinner (nothing says Thanksgiving like generic Stove Top Stuffing, instant mashed potatoes, jarred gravy and a can of jellied cranberry sauce) and my google maps route headed southeast (Cam spent the day with his girlfriend).
I knocked on the door and ... Ben answered (clearly our Aunt Becky sends her children to the front door as appetizers for any potential serial killers).
After drawing a quick flower on the Magna Doodle for Amelia, it was time to put together the rest of dinner ... and it was good!
We sat, ate our meal and gossiped about you, and you, and especially you. I also uncovered ALL of the secrets of becoming a famous blogger. You know ... all of those secrets that our Aunt Becky keeps to herself so she'll have no competition for readers? Mmmm Hmmm! It's amazing what you can get out of someone when you bribe them with a bacon wrapped turkey.
Dooce better watch her ass 'cause my blog should be going viral, just like a double rainbow, any minute now!
Now, I'm sure y'all are expecting pictures of our Aunt Becky, The Daver and their merry band of crotch parasites, but alas, there are none! Why??
Well ... SHHHHH! Don't tell anyone, but our Aunt Becky is really a man. That's right! And The Daver, Ben, Alex and Amelia?? Yeah ... she ... ummm ... HE gets them from Rent-A-Center whenever there is a need to prove mommy blogger status.
Ohhh the stories I could tell ...
Unfortunately for all of you, our Aunt Becky (Uncle Pervy) swore me to secrecy ...
25 November 2010
22 November 2010
1. Tell us about your very favorite (yes we know that's redundant) Thanksgiving.
My very favorite Thanksgiving would be one where I was with family. Traditionally, Thanksgiving was the one holiday where my entire family got together. Christmas? Easter? Not so much, but you could count on a house full of 40-50 people every Thanksgiving.
The women prepared the meal, the men carved the turkeys and brought all of the food to the table and the kids did all of the dishes.
2. What are you doing for Turkey Day this year?
Well? Probably nothing. It looks to be just like any other day here.
There were hopes of heading out east for a blogger Thanksgiving, but I just can't get caught up enough financially to set aside cash for air travel.
Damn it anyway! I was looking forward to getting felt-up by the TSA folks!
3. If you were to go to somebody else’s house, what would be your favorite dish to bring?
My family's traditional Thanksgiving dishes differ a little from what I've seen served anywhere else. There is no green bean casserole, but there is green salad and pea salad.
The green salad is not the leafy goodness that comes to mind, but a lime Jell-O, cream cheese, pineapple and mini-marshmallow fluff of greatness. It is the only way I'll consume Jell-O.
The pea salad is probably what I would bring. Peas, green onions, chunks of cheddar cheese, water chestnuts, a mayonnaise based dressing and BACON!!
4. Tell us about the funniest person that you'll be with this Thanksgiving.
I guess that depends on who is lurking on twitter!
5. What would surprise us to know about your Thanksgivings?
I haven't spent a Thanksgiving with family in 20 years, not by choice but due to logistical issues.
6. Does your usual mix of guests result in drama, or is it a group you’re happy to see?
You know, when it's been 20 years since you've spent the holiday with family, you forget about the drama. I have no doubt Thanksgiving with my family would result in drama (don't they all?), but it would be nice to experience a little family drama, because it would mean I am with family.
7. What did your family do for Thanksgiving when you were a kid? Do you still do it?
We were all about the traditions of Thanksgiving when I was a kid. Every year I knew what to expect and every year met my expectations. There are times when I feel extreme guilt for not being able to give Cam that experience.
8. We know you've been asked this probably 15 times this week. But share with us in 2010, what are you most thankful for?
Wow! You know, it's been a rough year on so many levels, primarily emotionally and financially, but I am most thankful for getting a little closer to finding "me". I didn't realize how much I had changed while living with husband, and not in a good way.
This year has reminded me of the things that are really important and enabled me to place my focus back where it should have been long ago.
For that I am thankful.
9. Okay, the big question: are you going to 'attend' any of the "Black Friday" sales? ...and if you are, are you hard core serious like the 5 am "be there" crowd?
I'd love to - just once - but it is not in the cards this year. My year-end bonus will be paid out the week before Christmas, and any shopping will have to wait until then.
19 November 2010
Ahhhh ... Friday! My weekend will officially start at about 6:00PM, when I will drop off Cam at the church for a weekend high school ministries fall retreat. He has been in rare form these past few weeks, likely due to frustrations with his lack of progress in school (that topic deserves a post of its own) coupled with the lunar cycle (anyone who believes lunar cycles have no affect on behavior is CRAZY).
We both need the break, and since I cannot leave him for the weekend (there are times when I've considered it), I am grateful he is leaving me. Hopefully, when I pick him up Sunday afternoon, we'll both have better attitudes.
My landlord knows that Gina and I are fairly good friends, so she took it upon herself to visit Gina's salon (with several customers there) and began quizzing Gina about Cam. Is he a "good" kid? Has he ever been in trouble? Is he a bully? Do the tenants have reason to be afraid of him? Would Gina allow Cam in her house with her kids? Is Gina afraid of Cam?
When Gina explained that Cam was a typical teen - a kid who can occasionally get lippy but is generally a "good" kid - she also asked the landlord if something specific had happened with Cam that caused concern. That's when the landlord told her that a tenant in the building has come to her telling her Cam "scares" them and they are "afraid" of him.
I'm fairly certain I know EXACTLY where the problem is. Of the remaining four tenants in the building, one of them regularly pays Cam to take her groceries from her car to her upstairs apartment, one is a late 20's kid who has let me use his GPS and often stops to chat with Cam and me, and one is a "typical," single cat lady (5 cats and 2 dogs in a 2-bedroom apartment) who has asked Cam to walk her dogs when her bunions are acting up.
That leaves the gun rack in the back window, pick-up truck driving, NRA bumper stickers holding the right rear corner panel together, late 50's gentleman and his wife who live directly upstairs from me but have NEVER spoken to me.
Hey! If they are going to make assumptions, it's only fair that I get to too!
And guess what? Unless they have specific issues regarding things that have actually happened, rather than a case of their ignorant imaginations running wild, they can kiss my big white ass.
Thanksgiving is fast approaching and I am PMS-ing ... which isn't a good combination. See? I don't get bitchy (usually) during hell week, I get extremely sappy and emotionally sensitive. Of course, that can only lead to a big ol' pity party.
I've been whiny, needy and generally irritating on twitter these past couple of days - so much so that it actually drives me bonkers to read my own time line.
I have much to be thankful for, yet my focus has been on what I'm lacking - what I wish I had - this holiday season. What's odd is this isn't about material needs/wants, it's about emotional needs/wants.
Menopause can't come fast enough. Then I can just be bitchy and unreasonable ALL of the time and blame it on hormonal fluctuations.
17 November 2010
The therapeutic day school setting is a foreign (to me) mixture of staff. There are actually more therapists, counselors and other support people than there are teachers. As a parent, it is not unusual to be contacted by a therapist, program assistant, diagnostic coordinator or, as I was recently, an addictions counselor.
I received an email from Ms. K (addictions counselor) that said, in part:
"I have been meeting with Cam to assess his level of substance use and to discuss triggers and potentials to his use. During our conversations Cam has a tendency to provide inconsistent information pertaining to his use so I'm hoping you could shed some light on what you see, if any, of Cam using cannabis, alcohol or any other substance."
Let me tell you, this is not an email any parent of a teen wants to get, especially a parent (me) who knows there has been some history of drug use in the past, that there is a strong family history of substance abuse and, that with Cam's refusal of prescribed meds, it is highly likely that he will self medicate.
I spent some time composing my reply to the addictions counselor. I have never been one of those "not my kid" parents. The last thing I wanted to do was come across as being defensive.
I decided the truth *gasp* was my best option. I felt it was important for the staff at the school to know why it is that it would be difficult for Cam to pull one over on me, even though telling the truth would likely make me look like a less than desirable parent. I started with:
"I am all too familiar with drug/alcohol use/abuse. I grew up in an alcoholic family, started binge drinking and smoking at age 12, have a history of drug experimentation (mushrooms, LSD, cocaine, prescription pain killers, etc.) and struggled with a crystal meth addiction in my early and mid 20's. I am no stranger to drugs and alcohol. I know the signs/symptoms of use/abuse and am quite familiar with drug paraphernalia and 'lingo'."
I spent the next few paragraphs summarizing the disaster that was the summer of 2009 (if you want the details, you can read the 6-part "The World Gets a Little Smaller" post that starts HERE).
I absolutely hate reliving that time. It ranks right up there in my most difficult parenting moments, but again, honesty seemed like the thing most likely to help Cam.
I also shared with the school that I am concerned about a new preoccupation Cam seems to have a preoccupation with Synthetic Cannibinoids.
Have you heard about this stuff? it is an "herbal-incense blend" with cute names like Peace Out and Serenity Now. It's quite easy to find in smoke shops and online where it is sold as incense. It contains JWH-018, a synthetic cannabinoid receptor, and is used to "legally" achieve a marijuana-like high.
There is nothing better *dripping sarcasm* than having your 14-year old son tell you, "I can smoke Peace Out right in front of a cop and there is nothing he can do!" ... and know he is right.
It's times like these that I would gladly revisit the sleepless, colicky nights and diaper blowouts. The sleep deprivation - and shit - that parents face with teens has far greater repercussions.
16 November 2010
I'm sharing a few of Jeff Sheng's photos over at Lynn's place today!
Click the pic to find me today and (most) every Tuesday ...
12 November 2010
There were a lot of comments on Let's Play Pretend post that indicated y'all thought I was talking about my own blog when I said, "gotta love StatCounter and Blogger Stats for 'proof' that you have a 'stalker' - which these days seems to be defined as someone visiting your blog that you wish wouldn't." I wasn't ...
I hate Stat Counters ... hate, hate, HATE them ... so much so that I get a little crazy when people start talking about stats. To me, it always sounds like "Neener, neener, neener - I am more popular than you are - and I know who you are and how long you read my blog." Yes, that would be my personal insecurities rearing their ugly heads. *shudders*
I look at my stats to see if there is unusual activity, like far too many visits, or folks coming from some other blog that I've never heard of. With the exception of one of my blog readers, I have no idea who stops by unless they leave a comment.
The reference to Stat Counters was specific to the situation I was discussing in that post - not my own blog.
I will admit to setting lofty goals - to having extremely high expectations for myself (but oddly, not others) - and to getting down on myself when I don't meet those expectations.
I struggle - a lot - with goal setting - what's reasonable - what's setting myself up for failure. I don't want to let myself just "get by" because *I* can do better than just getting by.
Ehhh ... one of these days I'll get it right.
My first reaction (kept silenced with a forcible tongue biting) was "Fuck you! It's my blog I'll do what I want," but I took my own advice and looked at things from the reader perspective.
This wasn't a threatening "you better do this" request from a reader, but rather a "this is how I feel" discussion. I decided to come up with a compromise that I felt maintained my integrity, yet addressed their concerns.
I had every right to dig in my heels and scoff the reader's feelings - it is my blog - but in this case, that really wasn't the "right" thing to do.
It felt good - hopefully for both of us.
11 November 2010
Penelope's post is the yin to my yang when it comes to Veterans Day, and clearly her views (based on the comments) are felt by many.
In her post, Penelope lists 5 points that she believes support her position that Veterans Day is "wrong." There is validity in all of her points (bolded and highlighted below), however her assumptions and generalizations, although common, are way off the mark.
1. What about all the other casualties of war?
Penelope discusses how war affects more than the military member, in fact, reaching beyond the families of military members.
I agree - war impacts everyone, but does that mean we don't acknowledge those on the front line? Are we really able to say there is no difference between a young couple who gets married and has children so that the husband can avoid being drafted (her example), and the young man or woman who enlists in the military today, knowing they'll likely find themselves in Afghanistan sometime during their enlistment?
2. Veterans of WWII did not “give their lives for their country.”
Penelope insists WWII was a moral obligation, not a military obligation. I would argue most wars are "morality" based. She also sees no difference between the sacrifices people made on the home front (ex. waiting in line for food in order to ensure food for the troops overseas) and the sacrifices made on the war front.
Seriously? I'm fairly confident in saying those waiting for food on the home front weren't subjected to bullets and mortar rounds while they waited in line for food. There is a big difference between being inconvenienced and putting you life on the line every minute of every day.
3. Veterans of Vietnam hated Vietnam.
Penelope states, "People want to be celebrated for what they choose to do, for what they are proud of, for what they feel like they did well. Vietnam veterans think Vietnam sucked."
Vietnam did suck, but that doesn't mean there is any less honor for those who served there. We sometimes forget that the war and the people are not the same thing, and many in the United States, during the Vietnam war, failed to do that. They were upset with the war and took it out on the service members returning home.
4. Veterans of recent wars do not go in order to serve our country.
I found this point of Penelope's argument most offensive. From her, "Anyone who has a great career ahead of them, and makes enough money to support their family, and is genuinely admired for how well they have navigated their life so far, is unlikely to enlist in the armed forces," to her "It’s telling that the military has to lure recruits with free college to get them to risk their lives. The people who will risk their lives do not perceive that they have a way to pay for college," this argument is riddled with false assumptions and blatant disrespect.
Do all people who enlist in the military go in order to serve our country? Absolutely not, but I would argue that most do - at least in part. Penelope's implication that admirable people don't enlist in the military - that the military is a last resort most people - is highly offensive.
And this idea that enlisting in the military pays for college? I paid in $1,200 for my GI Bill benefit, which gave me a $12,000 educational benefit. Although that money helped finance my further education (I enlisted in the Army already having a 2-year degree), $12,000 doesn't go far in securing a University degree.
Yes, the benefits package offered by the military is usually a factor in any one's decision to join the military, but I don't know of too many people who - if that was their single motivator - would agree to literally put their lives on the line for $12,000 in educational benefits.
5. We should replace Veteran's Day with National Service Day
Penelope argues that there are less "offensive" ways to serve the ideals of the United States. She gives examples of men who give up high-paying jobs to run for office, women who campaigned for the right to vote, and parents who sacrifice health insurance in order to work at a non-profit that can’t afford insurance. She states that, "These people give resources and take risks in order to make the world a better place."
She's right. There are thousands of ways we - as citizens - can serve our country, the problem is that most don't.
Penelope wants to cancel Veterans Day - she sees it as "celebrating military service over everything else - teaching people that one is more valuable than the other."
I think Penelope is making a dangerous assumption that most citizens of this country actually serve this country in some way. Most citizens of our country never have to serve in any capacity because 1% of the population chooses to, and that generally keeps us all safe.
You may not like what that 1% does - war is an ugly, ugly necessity - but each one of us benefits from what that 1% does. Arguing that we, as a country, for just a single day, should not recognize those who have have served in a military capacity is nothing short of a selfish, entitled, "Ugly American" attitude.
Besides, if we cancel Veterans Day, when will we hold mattress sales?
09 November 2010
I was supposed to be on a vacation day today. I had big plans. I was scheduled to head in to the city to get the tattoo I talked about in THIS POST. The vacation day was approved. The preliminary art work was emailed to me.
I canceled the appointment early this morning.
There were a few things that factored into this decision. Timing (things are extremely hectic at work with two audits on the table, and I am currently behind on work completion expectations) and money (I had a bit of a financial glitch this month thanks to the Social Security Administration) were certainly concerns, but more than that, I wasn't ready emotionally.
Every single time I come face-to-face with Alan's suicide, some other unresolved issue slaps me right up along side the head. I think I'm in a good place with it - I've moved beyond the stigma and the grief - then WHOMP!
I asked the artist for a yellow ribbon (the Suicide Prevention variety) as part of Alan's name - his birth and death dates - and some of her AMAZING Mehndi style artwork to fill in the gaps.
She gave me EXACTLY what I asked for.
What could possibly be the problem?
I knew this ink would elicit questions, most often from strangers. Who is Alan? How did he die?
I should be an ambassador for suicide prevention. I should be willing and able to share my story, even with strangers. You'd think after 20 fucking years it would be like reciting my grocery list.
But it isn't.
Yes, I've shared the story on this blog, but I can still count - on one hand - the number of people I've looked in the eye and spoken to about it. And I still have fingers left on that hand for counting.
I should be stronger, braver, more willing to share.
But I'm not.
08 November 2010
It's Monday morning - a great time to play a little game of pretend - although some of you might be saying to yourselves, as you read this, "Pretend hell! That is real manufactured drama right there!"
Let's imagine you've got a bitch with someone in the blogosphere. Say they posted a blurb glorifying someone recently caught in the middle of a BIG cyber lie, or maybe someone took a picture you felt copied one of yours (for those of you unable to determine tone - I am making fun of my own manufactured drama here - not trying to justify my sometimes - Shuddup! It's only some times - over-the-top approach to things).
You decide you are going to take the issue to your own blog. Write a post or two calling them out for their "bad" behavior, or maybe you are defending yourself against an "attack" from someone else. Whichever the case may be, you are going to make an example of this person for all of the cyberworld to see.
This is the part where you'll need to focus on using your imagination because there are a bucket load of you out there that would never consider doing such a thing on your blogs. You are the non-confrontational types - the DM, email and chat bitchers. The ones who have a very strong opinion but you choose to share it with only a select few. You prefer your blogs not be weighed down with cyber wars because you ... well ...I'm not sure why you do that ... but you do and that is your prerogative.
So just how would you write such a blog post? Would you go all passive-aggressive, knowing the person reads your blog (gotta love StatCounter and Blogger Stats for "proof" that you have a "stalker" - which these days seems to be defined as someone visiting your blog that you wish wouldn't) and that many of your readers will know EXACTLY who you are talking about without mentioning their name, or would you link to their blog and the posts on their blog that you want to address, insuring there was no question as to who you were talking about?
More importantly, why would you make the choice that you make? Be honest. Comment anonymously if you prefer.
I am choosing not to respond to any of the comments on this post because my intent is really to understand those of you who do this differently than I do - not to argue/bully you into believing my way is the right way - even though it is - *gigglesnort*
Oh! And I promise not to follow up this blog post with another blog post making a public example out of you or your comments ... not that I would ever do such a thing ...
*EDIT V2* Since Hubman outed himself in the comments, his I AM the sanctimonious assbag! post was, indeed, the inspiration for my post today. Honestly? I'd have done EXACTLY the same thing he did under similar circumstances ... and in fact, I have.
05 November 2010
It's been another fun and exciting work week. In addition to month-end tasks I learned that we will be having not one, but TWO audits this year. The first one in December for fiscal year 2009 (Can you think of any better way to say, "Happy Holidays!"?) and the second in March for fiscal year 2010.
The March audit? We'll be damn lucky if we are actually DONE with 2010 when the auditors show up. This should be about as much fun as a root canal without Novocain.
I went in last night to pick up my Vanilla Smirnoff (on sale for $11.99/750 ml) and walked out with one of these ...
... and a 4-pack of this ...
It wasn't my fault ... really! See, at the Podunk liquor store they lure you with samples of liquor. The owner insisted I try the Tres Leches (who keeps plastic shot glasses at the cash register anyway?) and then he had the audacity to have a 4-pack of the Leinenkugel's Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout sitting right there at the check out counter.
I mean, seriously?? Who does that sort of product placement in a liquor store where functioning alcoholics frequent??
... a chronicle of my journeys on foot through the lesser-traveled wards of Chicago, where I currently live, and, from time to time, of New York and Los Angeles. Partly, it’s about nostalgia: for a postwar streetscape of corner taverns, neon signs, cigar shops, and the like. But mostly it’s about seeking moments of beauty, pathos, and humor in the everyday life of overlooked neighborhoods—blocks that have resisted change and retained a connection with their past. In short, it is the story of everything I love about city life.
I'm not sure if it is the stories he tells, the photos he takes, or just the change in scenery that captivates me most, but I am really enjoying stopping by his place and reading about places like this:
I'm taking Cam and one of his fellow band geeks to see this group - Project Trio - perform Saturday night. Don't be fooled by the beginning of this video ... the style changes drastically.
Although I'm really looking forward to the concert, I am really excited that Cam is exited about going!
04 November 2010
03 November 2010
If you read [THIS POST] you know that I wasn't going to do it. I was making a statement - doing something - by exercising my right to NOT vote.
I was provided a list of candidates that I felt were severely lacking in the ability to represent me and what I feel is important for my country. Democrats were too far to the left. Republicans were too judgmental. Independent, Libertarian and Green party candidates weren't attractive either.
It was a lesser of the evils vote - a vote against a candidate rather than a vote for a candidate.
I changed my mind a few hours after writing that post. I decided I would vote - for the only "non-candidate" issue on my ballot - a proposed Amendment to the Illinois Constitution.
As a voter, I'm not sure how to send the message that says, "None of you are worthy of my vote."
In comments, Hubman (click that link with caution - often Hubman is NSFW) mentioned that he'd love to see a "No Confidence" choice. That is what I needed yesterday - a "No Confidence" choice.
I hope that in my limited voting yesterday, my voice - the one that screams "NONE OF YOU ARE WORTHY" - is somehow heard and not misinterpreted as something else.
02 November 2010
01 November 2010
I suck at them.
It doesn't matter if they are friendships, romantic relationships or relationships with family, if they involve me, I disappoint.
It's not that I don't care. I do. I would like to have more friends. I would like to be able to nurture a loving romantic relationship. I think it would be great if I was actually "close" to my family.
It's not even that I don't know how. I mean, I get the steps. I can follow a relationship flow chart. It just requires so much work.
After receiving several emails from my mom, and one from my dad, I posted this facebook update:
It was meant to be funny. As you can see by the comments, my dad (Jim) didn't take it that way. In fact, after his reply on facebook he sent me the following email:
UGH! OK ... now what? So I send him this email response:
I'm thinking issue resolved. I just won't post any more updates on facebook. I've been trying to keep family updated that way, but either they want more details (Why? It's not like they can fix anything) or they don't get my humor and create more drama.
Then dear old dad sends this email:
Missed my point - entirely - not surprising and not worth trying to explain because it's become abundantly clear to me those efforts usually do little more than make things worse.
Let me use this (awkward and nonsensical) "Tale of Lima" to illustrate the challenges I face in nurturing any type of emotional relationship.
Once upon a time the world is taken over by residents of Lima, Ohio. Now that the Limans are in charge, Lima Beans randomly, throughout the day, materialize in your mouth.
Each time one does, you must chew it - savor it - with a smile on your face convincing everyone that you love Lima Beans. If you don't? You'll alienate people. They won't like you. You'll be considered rude and elitist, and you will be shunned from the community of Lima.
Now, for some of us, this is GREAT! We love Lima Beans. We look forward to the random materialization of those Lima Beans in our mouths.
But for most? You know what you are supposed to do with the Lima Beans, but it seems silly. It doesn't come naturally for you to find that random Lima Bean in your mouth. The fake enjoyment is manageable early in the day, but as the day goes on and your mouth continues to be assaulted by Lima Beans, you tire of trying to do what you know is "right" but which makes no sense to you.
Seriously? Why must these Lima Beans materialize in you mouth anyway? You aren't hungry. They don't taste good. What is the point?
Relationships (generally) are my Lima Beans. I know what I'm supposed to do. I watch (closely) to what other people do in relationships and try (desperately) to emulate them. I can manage to fake the process early on, but over time I tire of trying to do what is "right" but which makes no sense to me.
How many times must I ask someone how they are when I really don't care?
When a co-worker gets a hair cut that looks like crap, why must I say, "That looks really good."
When someone stops in my cubicle to chit-chat, why must I engage in eye contact and pretend that I care what they are saying.
I know it's the right thing to do, but it makes no sense to me.
I love my parents. I care about what happens in their lives. But I am more than OK if I don't talk to them for months at a time. It seems silly (and requires a HUGE amount of effort) for me to engage with them regularly, so I don't. They take that personally.
Typical of my emotional relationships.
I'm not an idiot. I am more than aware that the common factor in all of these relationship failures is me. I am more than aware that the only person who can make this right is me.
I just wish everyone I engage with would have random Lima Beans materialize in their mouths many times a day - every single day - for 46 years.
Maybe then they'd get it ...