Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Monster in the Bedroom

So I guess my mother's prayers were answered, but honestly, how was I supposed to know that God paid attention all those times she wished that I'd have a child someday just like me? I mean I ignored her, why didn't He? It would've been so nice to have a quiet, bookish child. One that likes to keep his room clean and his book bag organized. A son that rises every morning with a pleasant disposition and wants nothing more than to do my bidding.

But nooooooo... I just had to have a child that's just like me. I had no idea I was so obnoxious!

Every morning I walk into The Brain's bedroom around 7 a.m. and turn on his light. I come back 15 minutes later and lay out his clothes for the day if he hasn't, and then again about 5 minutes later to tell him that it's time to wake up. I rub his back and try and ease him into the day. Because I hate mornings too I try to do what I can to let him wake up naturally. I guess the naive part of me feels that he should appreciate the fact that I have to get up a lot earlier and almost never get a full nights rest. Get a clue mom; he just blames you for disrupting his peaceful dreams and making him freeze his ass off before lunchtime!

He emerges from the bed a snarling, spitting, biting monster that wails and gnashes his teeth, yelling and generally behaving in a way that would under normal circumstances get him knocked through a wall. He remains this way for about 15 minutes until fully dressed; both he and his brain join the rest of us, once again an agreeable, sweet child that will put his arms around me, say "Sorry mom, I love you", and start rummaging through the fridge for breakfast as if the monster was nothing more than a figment of my imagination.

It doesn't seem to matter how I approach him, what time he gets to bed or what enticements and/or punishments are thrown his way. Every morning without fail I play lion tamer to my 9 year old. No one told me when I first got into this that I'd need a helmet!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Now we fight

Ugh! I have just spent the last 15 or so hours researching and planning. Why you ask? Well, I'll tell you.

We live in Alabama, the educational armpit of America. It is not for nothing that we have earned the distinction of having one of the worst educational systems in the nation.

I won't get into why the schools are so bad in this post, God knows I want to rant about it, but right now I thought I'd explain what has led me to such extensive research.

My son, also known as The Brain is an exceptionally bright child that also happens to have ADD. I had him evaluated when he was five years old through a psychiatrist’s office. They gave him several intelligence tests, behavioral evaluations; you know... the normal stuff they do. The doc came out after the intelligence test was only about 3/4 of the way finished and asked me to come into his office.

He took off his glasses and just sat there smiling. He said "You have a very engaging and intelligent child. Unfortunately, I can't finish his IQ test today". When I asked why he explained that when they test children they give them short breaks in between questions every so often. This is done to give the kid time to regroup and relax. It seems that my little monster got tired of the breaks, asked the doctor to focus, and said "could you cut the chit-chat and hurry up? I'm hungry"! The doc thought it was hilarious and stopped stopping in between questions. This worked for about 10 more minutes, during which time my son gave every appearance of being bored. All of a sudden he looked interested again. Unfortunately, he also started answering questions incorrectly. The doc told me that he finally realized that my son was playing a game with him. He was determining the correct answer (it was multiple choice) and then deliberately giving the doc the wrong answer just to see if the doc knew the difference.

The doc told me that he also couldn't give me a complete assessment for ADD because of similar reasons. It seems that gifted kids also tend to share characteristics with those with ADD. He told me that he would evaluate what had been gleaned from my son that day and get back to me.

About a week later he called me back into his office and told me that his opinions were based on 35 years of experience as well as extensive personal studies that he has conducted. He recommended that I have my son tested again when he was around 8 to get a more formal result.

According to the doc The Brain has an IQ similar to that of only 1-2% of the population (again he couldn't specify because of incomplete testing) and that he appeared to be borderline ADD.

Since that time I have determined that he is in fact ADD and has been on a very low dose of medication to help with that. Educationally, well... that's a different story. I taught him basic Algebra (x+10=12) when he was 6. He was reading on a 9th grade level in 2nd grade. He can explain the electrical processes of things like radios (and fixes them when they break), and why bats can "see" in the dark. He has never forgotten anything that he has read. Ever. It is scary. It is also really, really hard to keep him interested in school.

I have begged his teachers to allow him to work ahead of the class. I have begged them to allow me to provide additional work for him to do. I have begged them to develop some sort of enrichment program geared for someone like him. My pleas, while met with smiles, are always denied. All children have to stay on the same learning tract in order for the standardized tests to work.

He has begun to really struggle with school lately. He made all A's a before. Last year and this year have seen a steady decline. On his last report card he got 1 B, 2 C's, and 1 D. He's so bored out of his mind that he can't see straight. He listens to the teacher, gets the concept immediately and then tunes her out. He feels bad about himself because he knows he's different, and so he will often answer in class questions incorrectly just to prove that he's just like everyone else.

It seems that when you combine giftedness with ADD you have a recipe for disaster and failure unless there is attention given to both.

Yesterday The Brain came home with a letter informing me that a meeting has been set up to evaluate him for the Special Education program (a horrid, horrid program designed to baby-sit the delinquents long enough for them to drop out or move). It seems that he was referred for this program by a school counselor that has been meeting with him. Even though I specifically declined to give my permission for him to be evaluated through the school, it seems that they have been pulling him out once a week for the last month and doing just that. I now have to appear before a committee to receive their recommendations regarding her "findings". All of this becomes a matter of his permanent file. Did I mention that this counselor isn't even a doctor? She has a counseling certificate in education.

The Brain was accepted into a Magnet program called the Academy for Science and Mathematics a couple of years ago. He can't actually attend this wonderful school (for children like him) unless we live within a certain area. Because of dad's health I have had to stay where we are. That will change after the first of the year.

If the recommendation for Special Ed stays in his file, it will make it impossible for him to go to the one school in our area that is geared toward what he needs.

I have already contacted my lawyer and doctor. I plan on having him formally evaluated and retested for the ADD and IQ thing prior to the meeting. I also plan on boning up on Alabama law between now and then as it pertains to testing without parental consent. I also thought that I would go ahead and do background checks on everyone that will be present in the meeting... only stuff that I'm legally allowed to do of course, in order to know who I am dealing with prior to the meeting.

The principal is very nice and has been very helpful with everything up to this point. As far as I can tell, she is not aware of what is happening so I thought I'd also invite her. It helps that she is a little afraid of me because of my job. Not my doing I assure you, but it works in my favor nonetheless.

What else can I do? I feel like I have to be on top of everything, but as a single parent I also feel like I'm fighting a losing battle. I have so little time with The Brain left before he hits his teens. I have to fix this before it's too late.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

I have no problems

Every year our local newspaper teams together with the United Way and prints Holiday Wish letters in the Sunday paper. These letters are carefully checked out prior to their printing and represent both the best and worst of what the holidays have to offer. It is heartbreaking to read some of these letters, friends writing on behalf of friends, family members begging for help for a loved one. They ask for things as basic as payment for an electric bill so they can warm their home or a warm coat for their child. They are not asking for selfish things, more often then not they simply need food or help paying for medications. These letters are printed to give anyone who wants to the opportunity to adopt a wish, to help a stranger in need.

My mother and I have been going back and forth since dad died trying to decide what to do with his electric wheelchair. He never wanted to get it in the first place; he moaned and groaned about the insurance companies robbing the common man blind. He thought it was a tremendous rip off to charge $8K for something that you do nothing but sit on. We managed to get him to agree to it by promising him that once he no longer needed it we would donate it to the local veterans home so someone else in need could get some use out of it. He was like that. He was always concerned about giving back; he'd give his last dime if he felt that it could do someone more good than him. I agreed with his decision and promised him that I would do what I could to honor it.

After his death my mother had to face the harsh realities of widowhood. She found that after paying of the mountain of medical bills that were left behind, the house, and various other debts that had accumulated over the last thirteen years of medical woes, that there wasn't as much left of the life insurance policy as she had hoped. She doesn't want to have to work the rest of her life, and I don't blame her. She receives money from my father's pension and will soon receive Social Security as well, but things will still be tight for her. She looked into it and found that she could sell dad's electric wheelchair for about $4k... a lot of money.

So up until now that was where we stalled. We both felt that dad would want her to look out for her future, but there was the issue of the promise that we made. It probably sounds like a no-brainer but consider how much sentimental value is tied up in that silly piece of furniture. It, in a lot of ways represented the last year of his life... I can't look at it without seeing him sitting there.

So there it sat… Holding us emotionally hostage.

Until today when I opened up the newspaper and stumbled across this letter:

Dear Holiday Wishes:

I am writing in regard to a lady that lives in the same nursing home as me. She has only one family member so it is hard to get everything that she needs.
She doesn't walk or stand. I am hoping that you could help get an electric wheelchair. it would make her life so much better. That way she could leave her room and get outside on pretty days. It would give her so many opportunities to interact with her neighbors.
Thank you so much for what you do for needy people.

The letter broke my heart. Here I am complaining about facing the holidays when there are so many out there that have SO much less.

We have decided to adopt this particular wish and donate dad's electric wheelchair through The United Way. I don't know how we will part with it, but I feel good knowing that it will go to someone that desperately needs it. I think dad would approve. Mom will take a tax credit for the re-sale amount and life will go on.

We have so much more than we really need; I'm ashamed that it took this letter to remind me of that.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Better days

It has been a better couple of days. Mother and I went shopping early yesterday morning and managed to get everything done by noon. We agreed to watch my brothers two little ones, aged two and a half and six weeks for the night so my brother and his wife could catch up on much needed sleep. It was fun right up to the point when we realized that they had neglected to pack pajamas, diapers, and a change of clothing for each of the kids. I swear, my brother is not a stupid child, really he isn’t. It seems that way since he has had children of his own.

So... The Brain and I found ourselves at Wal-Mart last night with the two year old, Talia, trying to figure out what size diaper she and her brother wear. It would've helped to know how much she weighed, but no such luck. I was tempted to take her to the produce isle and weigh her on one of the vegetable scales but it was too far to walk (sad but true). I tried asking another woman who was shopping there if she had a child Talia's age, but the woman thought I was begging for money. How embarrassing. Like beggars shop in cashmere! Anyway, we took a guess and an hour later made it home about a hundred dollars poorer (am I the only one that can’t seem to leave there without spending at least that much?).

I received an email earlier in the day from one of my friends who is having a hard time with the caretaking of his parents. I decided to head up to the station to check in with him after mother took over and the kids were in bed. He had a nervous breakdown a couple of years ago and has been having trouble coping recently. I don't think that it's possible to explain how hard it is to care for an ailing parent. It's one of those things that you have to go through to understand. I've found talking to him has been strangely cathartic for me so it seems to be a win-win. I didn't tell TV guy that I was going up there, and pretty much ignored him while I was there. I've decided that I have to stick with my initial thought on the matter. This new relationship that he is in needs to fail on its own merits, if I remove myself from both of them, I also remove myself from the drama. I really miss his friendship but I can’t help but feel that this is for the best for him. Hopefully he'll eventually find someone that isn't threatened by me, but until he does, it's probably better this way. I was a little embarrassed for him last night though, there were several people that came up to me and asked why he was dating someone that liked to dress like a hooker. I just said that it was for variety and then changed the subject. It seems that whatever drama exists over this whole silly thing as more to do with people questioning his judgement more than anything else. I feel badly for him, but really, what can I do? Everyone is entitled to make mistakes, right?

Maybe eventually we can spend time together again like we used to, but for now this is his doing and is a direct result of decisions that he has made. Only he can decide if it's worth it. I’ll just have to miss his friendship until then. I’ve always believed that sometimes the last thing you want to do is often the first thing that you should do, it still sucks though. I miss his friendship a lot.
I’ve decided to take an old friend up on an offer and go out tonight; it’ll be fun just getting away for a while, especially since The Brain is spending the evening with his grandparents. Maybe it will take my mind off everything. Maybe.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Well, today was about as bad as I was anticipating, mostly for the reasons that I expected. My brother is married to a woman who tends to be a little on the selfish side and has picked up on her tendencies. The Brain and I got the house decorated and cleaned while mom managed to put on a six course dinner fit for a king. Everything was perfect, except it wasn't. When my brother and his family (also known as the circus) showed up, things went from hard to horrible. It amazes me that there are people in this world that never stop to consider the consequences that their actions have, how what they say and do can make or break a day for someone else.

By the time the circus left I think that mom and I felt like we had been beaten up. It was all we could do to just sit on the couch and stare. Sometimes talking is just too hard. I was surprised when the doorbell rang and TV guy showed up with roses both for me and mom. They are beautiful. He sat and listened to my complaints about my brother, watched family slides with us, ate dessert, and basically helped to turn a horrible night into one that wasn't too bad. Why is it that flowers always seem to make me feel better? Mom commented after he left that his visit was the best part of the night. Sad but true. I wonder if he realized that. Probably not.

I'm to tired to stay angry about last night. I guess in a way I've just accepted what happened as being part of the way he is, nothing I can do about it. I will no longer check in with him about anything concerning the station, I see no reason to. I told him that I wasn't going to play games and I meant it. I figure I never checked in with Cindy when I went up there before all of this happened, I see no reason why I should concern myself about it now. Same goes for him. I'm not being ugly; I'm just choosing to remove both of them from that particular equation. I think it's best. They can make drama if they want; I'm just choosing not to be a part of it.

TV guy is not malicious or spiteful, he just doesn't know what he wants. I accept that. He's a great guy and no more perfect than I am. I'm not willing to hold a grudge over something that I can get around. Especially since I know he didn't mean to make me as angry as he did. Besides, I know that I'm probably a little more sensitive than I would ordinarily would be. I just gotta get through this next month.


Thanksgiving in my family has always been a loud, chaotic affair. Mom always started cooking and planning at least three days in advance, and the house has always been filled with laughter, wonderful smells, and just a little bit of craziness. It was my and my brother's duty to hang up the Christmas lights and make the yard look pretty while mom did her thing in the kitchen. Dad being dad, supervised and napped while it all happened around him. He always reminded me of a king at his court so it never bothered anyone much. He corralled the kids and supported my mother and did his part by generally staying out of her way.

I have been wondering how you celebrate a family holiday with a vital part of your family missing; it has plagued me for days, and to be honest, I have felt that this would be the hardest day we've had since the funeral. I had thought that I would go up to the TV station where many of my friends work last night and kind of draw strength from them. That was the plan anyway. You see, I don't have an actual office that I work out of where I live, I have no co-workers that I see daily, and no one really outside of the friends that I have made over the years that I feel close to. That is not to say that I am particularly close to those friends of mine at the station, but they are familiar, they know me, and for now, they are all I've got. I have known and been friends with most for about six years, and while I usually only socialize with them in groups or at parties, they are good to have around when you need to be cheered up.

So anyway, the plan was to spend some time forgetting about everything for a while, talk to one of my friends in particular that has recently found himself playing the role of caretaker (always need to offer support... it can be amazingly isolating), and generally try and cheer myself up briefly before i had to get home and try and sleep. As it turned out, it seems that Cindy still has a problem with my presence up there, and it quickly became obvious to me that TV guy didn't have the cajones to deal with her. It amazes me that someone that considers himself my best friend could be so callous. I have done everything I can to handle this situation with grace and class, it has been very hard to keep my temper in check when neither of them have shown any concern with how this all has played out. TV guy talks a great deal about being concerned about it, but at the end of the day, actions speak louder than words. I can see now the level of respect he must have for me, it is disheartening. The idea that she somehow has earned the right to play a victim in this, she, this person who as of yet hasn't found the spine to confront me... that I should at this time, this hellish time, have to consider her feelings about anything is beyond comprehension to me. So anyway, I hung up the phone completely disgusted with him and decided to just stay home. I've gotten through worse before, it's just 24 hours, I'll survive.

Anyway, enough complaining. I have a family, a home, food to eat, people willing to eat it. I have my heath and my sanity most of the time. I have a hell of a lot more than most people, and for that, I am thankful.

Things are happening the way that they are supposed to, even if it doesn't seem like it right now. I have a feeling that even the stuff with TV guy is playing out the way that it is supposed to, I guess only time will tell.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Depressing time of year

Death and mourning. Depressing words.

This time of year has always been hard for me. I'm a spring and summertime person at heart. I love warm weather and being outside digging in the dirt, sweating and laboring over my plants and flowers, waiting for them to show their colors. I know that autumn can be a beautiful time with the changing of the leaves and that the holiday season is equally colorful with lights and ribbons and bows, but despite that, it always seems to depress me a little.

I understand that this year will be a difficult one for my family. This will be the year that we have all unhappily anticipated for the last thirteen years. This will be the first holiday season that we will be without daddy. Intellectually I understand that time goes on and that there will be many, many more that will not seem quite so sad. Emotionally... well, I guess it's obvious.

It will have been sixteen weeks tomorrow since I made the drive to the hospital and was asked to wait in a small cramped room for the doctor. Sixteen weeks since I walked into the hospital room where I had left my father a few hours before, alive and delirious with pain and medications, to find him cold and lifeless . Sixteen weeks since I gathered his belongings from the room as my mother sobbed over his body and a nurse stood guard at the door. Sixteen weeks since I last held his hand and said good-bye.

Most of the time I'm fine. Dad has never felt very far away, and I have felt a profound sense of relief for him since his passing. Most of the time. There are times when I least expect it, triggered by a song on the radio, or the smell of something that he used to fix, and whoosh! The pain of it all takes my breath away, leaving me disorientated and gasping while the world continues on around me uneffected. It is these times that it is hard, it is those times that I want to scream and beg for just a few more minutes.

If nothing else, I am my father's daughter. I will survive this holiday season and I will move on. I doubt I will enjoy it much though.

Friday, November 18, 2005

What he will never remember

Being a mom is tough. I guess I envisioned something entirely different when I was expecting. My child would never be the kind you so often see in Wal*Mart tearing down the isles screaming bloody murder in nothing but Kool-Aid stains and a dirty diaper. My child would never talk back, be disrespectful, deliberately disobedient, or crass. No child of mine would dare because I would be a good mother.

And then I grew up.

I've decided over the last ten or so years of parenting that the things that will ultimately determine if I was a good mother to my son are the things that he most likely will never remember. He will never remember the times that I got up with him in the middle of the night to rock him back to sleep when he was sick. I doubt he will recall the many dirty diapers, vomit puddles, runny noses, and other various bumps and bruises that I have been in charge of tending to. I am almost positive that he won't understand the absolute anguish that I felt the first time I saw him hang upside down on the monkey bars, or what it cost me to allow him to do it.

He will probably never thank me for being willing to leave a full basket of supplies that we needed in the middle of the store so I could drive him home and spend the rest of the day fighting with him, looking for ways to make his life miserable... chores, time outs, extra homework... anything I could think of to illustrate to him that being obnoxious and demanding is not an option he can choose from while we are out shopping. He will probably not understand the amount of staggering work and diligence it takes to raise a child to have a strong work ethic and to teach them to care about a job well done until he has a child of his own.

It won't occur to him that I don't have all the answers, and that mom's often say "because I said so" not to be difficult or obtuse, but simply because it feels like the right thing to do and we have no other explanation.

Being a mom is the scariest, most demanding, stressful, and rewarding job that I have ever had. It is the only thing that I will ever do that will ever truly matter, and I pray every day that I will have what it takes to do it well.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Life is in the details

I've always believed that life is only as complicated as we make it. I think that as humans we like to get tied up in the details and often forget to look at the big picture. Details are messy and emotional and time consuming. Too bad there isn't an off switch in my brain that would allow me to forget about them for a while.

TV guy and I had yet another conversation last night, and I imagine like most of our conversations, we both left feeling like we had come to some sort of agreement on where things are between us (which probably only means that we once again left thinking different things).

I should care more that ours is an unusual arrangement: date other people but remain close friends. I'm just arrogant enough that I genuinely don't get what the problem with this is. I mean, I want him to be happy, I think that he wants me to be happy... so what's the big deal? We're grown up's right?

I guess the big deal has its root in the fact that everyone else isn't necessarily as enlightened. When I went with him to the TV station last night I hung out in the director/producers booth while he directed the show. I've been doing this for years, even before he and I met, and have developed friendships with many of the employees there. I guess it was because of this that it never occurred to me that things might be awkward. As it turns out I didn't even notice that Cindy was in there until about half way through the show. After I did I figured that I never paid her any attention before, so why break with tradition. I guess I was just oblivious to the undercurrents in the room. I guess I should start making an effort to place her on my radar, for his sake if for no other reason.

I get the impression that there may be some who believe that there is a sort of competition going on between her and me. That isn't the case at all… at least not for me. She and I are apples and oranges, there simply is no comparison. There may be more to her than just a piece of ass, but she has never made any attempt to show it if it's there. Frankly, I've never felt that she was worth the effort to dig deeper. I don't know, maybe I'm just tired. I’ve been there, done that, it’s rarely worth the trouble.

I told TV guy last night that if he feels that there is more there and wants to dig for it, than he should. I make judgments for myself, no one else. I commend him for wanting to make that effort; I just hope that he doesn't get burned in the process.

It does concern me that it appears that their physical relationship is moving as rapidly as it is. If she follows what I believe to be her pattern, she will prove herself to be the aggressor in this area. I can't help but feel that if TV guy just stopped to think for a second he'd realize that the vow of celibacy that she has claimed to have taken, the number of men she has claimed to have been with, and the story that she has told him do not make sense when weighed against her actions towards him, and other stories that have been told about things that she has done. Oh well. Live and learn.

I'm amazed that he seems to believe that none of this is hard for me. Of course it is. I've just recently lost the most important man in my life. Losing the security of our relationship (such as it was) is a double blow. It was a mutual decision that took root over a year ago but only acted on until now. Of course this hard. I am making it a point to not talk to Agent C right now, using people has never been my style, and I am in no frame of mind to make decisions. He will keep for a while.

I am trying like hell to do the right thing here. I hope that eventually this will get easier and count for something.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The importance of girlfriends

It's interesting how we sometimes forget the importance of girlfriends. I have several girlfriends that are like sisters to me. They are my Public Relations Team and my family. Girlfriends always seem to know what to say to make you feel a little better. I had forgotten how important to me they are until last night.

It's silly but when I found out that TV Guy had immediately taken up with what one of my more creative girlfriends termed a "club slut" the day after we officially split, it was the girls that I ran to. It's silly when I stop to think about it, but the idea that it may look that this trashy person may have come between he and I is revolting to me. Never mind that fact that I wanted it to be over, and have in fact tried to end it several times over the past year. Never mind that I know that she doesn't really have interest in him, just the idea of him. Never mind the fact that I shouldn't care what people think and usually tell myself that I don't. Despite all of those perfectly sound reasons that should lead me to feelings of relief, I realized last night that I was maybe just a little bit hurt by it all.

So... Because most of my closest friends are states away pursuing their own lives and relationships, and because it was almost 1 am at the time, I did what any semi-rational woman would do... I text messaged them saying "TV guy and I are finally officially over, he and Cindy are now going out, just thought you'd like to know".
Now I should say that everyone involved including my girlfriends know who Cindy is, they don't like her either. She works at the same TV station that TV guy does... Interestingly enough, TV guy tried to have her fired for incompetence a couple of months ago... But that's a different story.

So anyway, my girlfriends descended on me immediately. Here's what they text messaged me back with:

"You should be relieved, he obviously will hang on until someone comes along, you have been trying to end this for months, if anything be insulted that he was ignoring the fact that you have been pulling away for so long, he can still be your friend if you want, but now, no more worrying about his oh so fragile feelings or ego. Let him be her problem until she gets bored, which won't take very long. It's not personal for a girl like her, so don't take it personally".

"I know it's hard, especially since he doesn't even realize that he has been living in a fantasy world, but you know, at least it's over. This proves that he is incapable of changing and no good for you anymore. Who cares what everyone thinks, the ones that really care about you know what the situation is. You are more of a woman, smarter, more beautiful, more witty, and better dressed than she will ever be. Don't dwell on it, there is no need to analyze her, there just isn't anything to her".

There's a time when you may need your husband or lover, mom or dad, but no one can ever replace the healing abilities of a stiff drink and a girlfriend!

Thanks guys... you're the best!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Brain's latest ambition... sigh!

What a difference a day can make! My hair is three inches shorter (thank God), my gray is gone, TV Guy and I talked and are now on the same page... What a difference.

So The Brain comes up to me today and informs me that he has decided on how he wants to spend the rest of the year. Apparently he feels the overwhelming need to learn the Chinese language. Well, that and the art of fencing. He was completely serious! He is not a child that is given to whims, when he says that he wants to learn how to do something you can count on him actually taking the time to learn it.

Hey, works for me! When my stereo went out he was the one that figured out what was wrong with it and fixed it. He's 9 by the way.

So... gotta figure out where he can learn Chinese. The biggest problem I think will be the absolute lack of Chinese speaking people in our neck of the woods. For some reason, Alabama just doesn't draw them... Wonder why?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Taking stock...

Just as it is important to take stock of what supplies are available to you before you embark on a trip, it is (I think) equally important to do the same prior to embarking on a new personal adventure. So let's see...

Education - check. Have a couple of Bachelor's degrees and a Master's. In theory I should be educated enough to find a job that will meet my needs. Hell, gauging by the nice reminders that the student loan people send me, I should qualify to be the next American Emperor! Hmmm.... I wonder what that job entails?... Okay, what's next?...

Finances - Could be worse I guess. No real bills to speak of (ignoring of course the 65K owed to the student loan people), the car has about 70k miles on it and is paid off (finally). I plan on driving it until the wheels fall off, pray that it doesn't happen for a while though. No credit card debt, thank God. I learned that lesson young! Evil! Anyway, back on topic... Have no savings plan besides 401K. Gotta work on that...

Personal - I finally took the time to actually stop and look in the mirror this morning. Damn, I wish I hadn't! Okay, called the Salon and begged for an appointment. In exchange for my first born they promised to work me in today. Thank God! How has it escaped my notice that I haven't had a haircut in 6 months? A color touch up in 8 months? Tim (my stylist) is gonna kill me. Shit. This means I'm gonna have to be extra nice and beg him not to some strange shit to it like color it red. I'm Italian. I've got dark brown hair, olive skin, and green eyes. Red is striking but makes me look a little too vampish for my current job. Anyway, gotta remember to stop by the mall and pick up something nice to pacify Tim. I swear, if he wasn't the best in the region I wouldn't put up with him! Hopefully by my next post I will be happily waxed, cut, and colored back into something that resembles myself.

Speaking of resembling myself, how in the hell have I not noticed that I have put on about 60 lbs? Shit! I quit smoking and coffee (all caffeine) last March (yes, at the same time) after about 12 years of faithful servitude to both. Within a month dad took another nose dive and we began to embrace the concept of diapers. Yay. Anyway, I think at least half of it has been put on since then. The rest I credit to late night surveillance and sitting on my ass in my car for hours and hours at a time. Okay, Weight Watchers here I come. Crap, have I mentioned how much I HATE deeding? I wonder how long this will take? Size 14 to size 5... fuck. I must have been worse off mentally than I thought I was to not have noticed how bad things had gotten. Oh well, today's a new day, right?
Hmmm... Let's see... Oh!

Sex - Nope. I've been seeing TV guy for about 4 years now, but last Christmas told him that I thought that we wanted different things out of life. He's a great guy, but not ready to really grow up (he's 36). Anyway, he begged for time to prove that he was, and I gave him until June (6 months). June came and found us sitting in a restaurant having the same conversation all over again. I told him that I was through waiting. He cried. I got pissed. Anyway, about that same time mom and I found out that dad had only a few months left to live. TV guy has always been my friend (he really is a terrific person, just not husband/father material) and he was there. Not in the physical sense of the word, I have more sense than that thank God, but emotionally. Sort of. I don't know, all I do know is that I thought that we had come to an understanding that our "relationship" was over. I apparently was alone in this thought because a couple of months later, just prior to dad's passing, TV guy sat across from me in the car one night and asked me if "we were okay". I asked what he meant and he said "well, I mean, it's been forever since we had sex. I understand that you have a ton of stuff on you right now with your father, I just wanted to make sure that that was all it is". It was all I could do to just stare at him. I probably should have had that conversation with him again, but honestly I was just too tired. And yeah, I get that there is some passive aggressive manipulation going on there, and no, I haven't given a shit enough about it to actually DO anything about it. The problem is, I actually enjoy his company. I'm afraid that I'll have to choose between all or nothing, and I know that I will choose nothing if he backs me into a corner. I'm just not mentally prepared to lose anyone else right now. Chicken...

Sigh... Anyway, I've also developed a wonderful friendship over the last year with Agent C. He lives a couple of states away now, but we have been emailing regularly for about a year. I think the strange thing about this situation is that I never really paid him any notice when he was here. I didn't know him well enough. Since then I have come to find that he and I are very much the same people. We deal with life in the same ways, and while I have never told him as much, there were several nights that I got an email from him that saved me. Probably literally. I made it a point to try not to talk about what dad was going through (too personal) but he always seemed to know when I was at the end of my rope. He more times than I can stand to think about, seemed to know exactly what to say to reel me back in. I've developed a crush on this guy, but have no idea if I even would like him if I had to see him on a day to day basis. I swear, I feel like I'm in high school all over again. When did I become so pathetic? Anyway, it's just as well. I don't plan on having sex again until I can stand to look at myself in the mirror, and it looks like that's gonna be a while. I wonder how much Energizer stock is...

Anyway, I'm beginning to wonder if taking stock is such a good idea. It's beginning to put me in a pissy mood. Grrr...

Okay, in for a penny, in for a pound, right?

Employment - I investigate. The how and for who part are not appropriate for blogging. I have a badge, I have a job that requires that I talk to people. I have a job that bores me to tears and pays about half as much as I should be making. I've taken a preliminary offer from one of the larger agencies but don't know where they will want to put me. That will depend on whether I take the job. I just want a job that gives me enough money to live without being evicted every month.

That brings me to where I live. When I got divorced at the ripe old age of 22, I took my son (then about a year old) and moved back in with my parents. The plan was to get back into college and find an apartment. Dad took a turn for the worse about that time and mom and I struck a deal. She would watch my son, The Brain, so I could take classes at night. In exchange, I would help her take care of dad. There were many days that The Brain came to work with me during the day, and class at night, but overall, the arrangement worked out. My son's father went off the deep end while in the Air Force, so I couldn't get help from that corner. Dad filled the much needed male role in The Brain's life, and gave him someone to dote on. It worked. Every year dad declined a little more. Each Christmas for the last 6 years we were convinced that that one would be our last one with him. As things declined, the thought of moving became ridiculous. The Brain grew up and began helping to care for dad. It was all he knew, and several doctor's told me that there would be no lasting damage to his psyche as a result of this exposure.

So here we are. Dad died August 1st, The Brain is already in school here. We have to stay where we are until at least the end of the school year. My mother and I have gotten along without incident since I moved in, largely because our total focus has been on keeping the house running. We have had a common cause and a common goal. Now that that is gone it is time for The Brain and I to move on.

So... gotta change jobs, relationships, eating habits, hair, and probably cities. Shit. I knew I never should have started this list!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Another day in the neighborhood

So I've finally done it... I've become one of those people.

I guess it's because I believe that no matter how you feel, no matter how bad things have gotten, no matter how alone you think you are, there is always someone out there that will understand. Maybe a nameless, faceless person. Maybe a person that never comments or makes contact. Maybe they just read your entry and sip their coffee and think to themselves "Yes! I know exactly how you feel!" And maybe just knowing that makes it all seem a little easier.

I used to wish that my life would get just a little easier. I'm a single parent, I work full time in a very demanding job, and for the last decade or so I and my mother have juggled the care of my father. He was a wonderful, intelligent, proud man that was brought to his knees by 3 heart attacks, a heart transplant, renal failure, diabetes, and a host of other issues. For years I cried myself to sleep at night wondering if he would be alive in the morning. Watching him suffer, day by day, watching him diminish a little more every week was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I used to think to myself, "it's supposed to be hard. But does it have to be this hard?" I just wanted a little break. Just one nap where I didn't wake up frantically watching for movement on his chest. Just one.

He died peacefully in August, and all of a sudden life got easier. Go figure. I miss him and mourn his loss everyday, but will carry with me the lessons in courage he taught me for a lifetime.

All of a sudden I have to find a new normal. I have to make a life for my son and I that does not revolve around illness. I started this blog to chronicle my adventures as I learn to live life all over again. Wish me luck!