Monday, February 28, 2005

View from the Cuckoo's Nest

I bet our life looks pretty funny to outsiders. But holy freaking cow, the utter madness that engulfs us sometimes...

My poor husband tries to soak up most of the blast, but occasionally (like tonight) the kids and I get some of the blowback. The latest craziness really started Saturday afternoon, when #1 Son came home from playing at a friend's house and mentioned that another kid had accidentally kicked up a smallish rock that hit him in the head. There was a small red mark about the size of a dime on his cheekbone, and we pretty much let it go at that; kids get hurts and this one wasn't major.

Well, then yesterday I took another look at it and the bruising was getting darker and there was a scrape that could use some Neosporin. Remembering that next weekend was his time with "Mommy" and that it might not heal before then, I mentioned to my husband that he ought to email her about it or face her wrath when she finds the scar later. So he did. Unfortunately, he was a little fuzzy on the details, not having actually been there when the event occurred. But he gave the story to the best of his knowledge. This, my friends, is apparently called "lying" (especially if you happen to be from a Red State).

Well, Miss Thing read her email this evening and went totally ballistically batty. She called up and grilled my husband about the incident, then demanded to talk to #1 Son and grilled him. He told the same basic story, kid kicked a rock, which hit his head, he's fine except he had a headache afterward. To her questions about how he was feeling today, he said he was OK at present but had had stomach ache earlier in the day. Diarrhea? Not for a few weeks, thanks. Yes, he sometimes got headaches. Then her husband the cop came on the phone and made the boy repeat himself a million times.

Of course, then came the "Daddy? Mommy wants you..." (followed by the requisite cynical snickers from my direction). Shrill, hysterical haranguing followed, along the lines of "You lying, evil, child abuser! My baby has a concussion! Take him to the emergency room immediately or I'll report you to the police!" Husband's voice, calm and patient as always, "No, he's fine, really. It's not serious at all. No, he hasn't been throwing up. OK, I'll ask him. (Asks #1 Son.) No, he says he hasn't thrown up, just had a stomach ache. OK, I'll ask him that. (Asks about other troubles.) No, he says not. Well, I don't know what you think you heard. No, I don't think he needs to go to the emergency room. No, really....(Pause for long bit of hysterical harangue.) Fine. May I hang up now?"

He wandered in to the room where I'm tucked up in bed, scribbling away on my novel. "She's calling an ambulance." (Grimace.) He filled in the gaps in what I'd heard and I gave a primal scream. He called over #1 Son and told him not to bother getting in the tub yet, telling him that his mother was concerned about him and was sending an ambulance for him. Look of total confusion from #1 Son. "Um, why? I told her I was fine." Yes, so did everyone.

So we all snuggled up in jammies for story time and awaited the nice paramedics. Surreal was really the word. Sang a couple songs, read a story, then the doorbell rang. It was a nice police officer with a flashlight. Chuckling, he said the dispatcher had opted not to call out the busy and very expensive ambulance until there was some verification. I found myself musing about whether Domino's ever does this with prank pizza orders. Nice police officer shone the light into our boy's eyes, asked him about the incident, asked how he felt since then, asked my husband how he thought the misunderstanding occurred, then asked if there was any "bad blood" there (between him and the ex). That'd be a BIG yes, but of course, my man played it down, trying to stick to his policy of not talking smack about the biggest psycho on the planet for the good of his child...

Anyway, police officer took himself off, wishing us all a good evening, and we celebrated with brownies. Got the kids peacefully to bed, and now we're trying to just let go of the anger and irritation all this brought on. 'Cause you know there'll just be another psychotic episode tomorrow.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Lost, Lost, Lost....

I don't even know what to say tonight, except that, more than the Colorado education system, more than even Ms. Devil's Advocate, I hate the stupid judge who slept through our entire trial and then had the gall to say he didn't have enough information and didn't believe our evidence and doesn't see why we can't just stay here in squalor for the rest of our lives ('cause I'm sure never getting a pay raise) while my husband grows old and dies without a college degree or any real earning potential or much self-esteem and our children's potential is wasted in this poor excuse for a school district because who cares about any of that as long as Miss Mommy Thing retains her stupid "rights" to a child she's never ever ever ever cared for in her whole stinking stupid self-absorbed whiny lying slutty lazy irresponsible deceitful treacherous fricking LIFE.

Apparently, I've forgotten everything I learned in my recent "How to deal with meanies and still stay Christian" class. I guess I ought to try harder, but people just have no idea. None. I forgive them all, though, even fricking Judge Gilmore, 'cause I'm not having this on my head, oh no.

Time for more painkillers. This hurts.

Friday, February 25, 2005

You Are SO Not Going to Believe This...

OK, finally, here are my Ten Things I've Done That You Probably Haven't. Every single one of them is absolutely true.

  1. Got a perfect score on the GRE
  2. Worked inside an old Nazi bunker
  3. Slept in castles in England and Scotland
  4. Stopped an international crime
  5. Hiked more than one Hawaiian volcano
  6. Was pregnant 4 times before my 5th anniversary
  7. Received a marriage proposal in the furniture department of Dillard's
  8. Watched the changing of the guard at Edinburgh and Hradcany Castles (not at the same time, obviously)
  9. Was piped onto a battlefield while wearing woad and a velvet gown
  10. Parked my white BMW in the exact spot by the Charles Bridge where the car blew up in "Mission Impossible"
I left out most of the racy and/or classified things, most of the things that I did with other people who might read this blog ("stole a piece of Kenilworth Castle" didn't make the list) and things I've mentioned before (e.g., "wore a tiara to work"). Any takers?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

And the Geek Goes On...

There's just something about me, baby, so right....

(Penny for anyone who can name that band-- except you, Kory.)

I've been collecting funky little quizzes that purport to tell all about me. For example, which Happy Bunny am I? cute but psycho
You are the cute but psycho happy bunny. You're
adorable, but a little out there. It's all right,
you might not have it all, but it could be worse.

which happy bunny are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

And yes, I did edit that; dear heavens, does no one pay attention in school anymore? (What am I saying?)

You'll understand more about that little quirk of mine when you discover what obsolete skill I am.

Songs of Innocence, Introduction
You are 'regularly metric verse'. This can take
many forms, including heroic couplets, blank
verse, and other iambic pentameters, for
example. It has not been used much since the
nineteenth century; modern poets tend to prefer
rhyme without meter, or even poetry with
neither rhyme nor meter.

You appreciate the beautiful things in life--the
joy of music, the color of leaves falling, the
rhythm of a heartbeat. You see life itself as
a series of little poems. The result (or is it
the cause?) is that you are pensive and often
melancholy. You enjoy the company of other
people, but they find you unexcitable and
depressing. Your problem is that regularly
metric verse has been obsolete for a long time.

What obsolete skill are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Which only figures, really. Am I the only person who writes old-school poetry anymore? Sheesh. My Bloginality is INTJ. In case you couldn't tell, I really am an INTJ, 'cause blogging is life, dontcha know.

And (almost) finally, I couldn't resist this little meme, courtesy of
Geeky Mom:
Bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in, and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.
They didn't ask for a list of countries, but mine would look something like this:
Austria / Belgium / Czechoslovakia / England / France / Germany / Holland / Liechtenstein / Luxembourg / Mexico / Scotland

And one LAST (I swear) proof that I'm unbearable:

I am nerdier than 92% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

I'm still thinking on the "Ten Things I've Done That You Haven't" meme. Will post later. (How much later can you get than midnight? Oh shut up.)

Monday, February 21, 2005

A Clear Case of Counterfeit

The opposition is getting desperate, I can tell. Not smart, and certainly not wise, but desperate in a sadly amusing way. This woman who claims to want nothing more than to regain custody of her son goes about it in some bizarre ways. For instance, she signed over physical custody of the boy when he was 2 1/2. Taking care of toddlers is hard, after all. She tried to sign over all custody in exchange for not having to pay child support, but the state of Hawaii requires support even if there's no parental contact, so that went out the window. For $90 a month, she gets to do basically anything she wants with the kid on his break time and retains the privilege of turning him back over to someone else when it's time to do the work. I may have mentioned this before; what a sweet deal.

But something or someone whispered to her what a lousy excuse for a mother she was, and if she was to be worth something as a woman, she must regain her child or die in the process. I think it was her mom. Anyway, soon after the divorce, she started throwing these histrionic scenes, going on about how she's been wronged, cheated, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, and how she will fight to get her child back. She points to her current big dumb boyfriend and says, "And BDB's promised to marry me so that I can get custody," cause we all know that married people are more likely to be given custody of children in court... (If they haven't just willingly signed it over to someone else, you stupid bimbo.)

Well, she quit her job at the sex shop, moved across the country, and eventually, yes, did marry BDB, who was a soldier and consequently, of course, a highly reputable and upstanding citizen. ("No good! I've known too many soldiers!") This was, however, after my husband had married me, a senior civil servant with a good salary and better benefits, not to mention a college degree. Even better, our marriage wasn't based on selfishness and greed, so we stayed together quite happily while she fumed and fretted and cheated on BDB (now BDH) whenever his back was turned. Still, she swore to wrest away control. (#1 Son, age 4, hangs up the phone, crying, "Mommy says she's going to fight Daddy!" What a loving mother.)

I don't know whether divorcing BDH was part of her plan, but she used it anyway, wailing at her boy, "I'll never get married again! Men don't like me!" A few months later, my husband asks her permission to move, she refuses, sending the matter to court. Suddenly, she's engaged again. This time, she thinks she's got the profile pegged. I'm older and have a college degree; to counter, she'll marry someone who's 20 years her senior as well as college-educated. And who could ask for a more respectable profession than police detective? Granted, a gullible one. And we won't go into what Dave Barry says about cops (and teachers). This time, she thinks she's done it. She's gonna win. She totally ignores the fact that her new husband's son is a child molester and has repeatedly assaulted her son in their home. In fact, she really doesn't see the big deal, but her lawyer's smart enough to downplay it in court.

I won't repeat the story of our court date last week. As of today, we're still waiting for the judge to decide our fate. Everyone's. 'Cause it's not just a matter of where one 10-year-old boy lives, although that's important. It's a matter of whether our family has a member amputated--whether our younger boys cry for their brother for the next couple of years and wonder when it will be their turn to be sent away, whether it was their fault, or his fault, and what on earth could be worth doing this to our family. This decision will determine how our son's life turns out, whether he learns to value hard work, responsibility, and honesty or flighty self-indulgence and deceit. There's more to it than that of course, including whether we go merely broke or full-blown bankrupt, but those things aren't as important.

So, as I was saying, the opposition is trying a new and even more desperate strategy. This evening, #1 Son came back from his weekend with "Mommy," commenting that his day couldn't get any worse, meaning that he'd spent half the day in an SUV stuck in traffic. He got home late but basically unscathed, which is a blessing.

Then he mentioned that three girls are going to be living with "Mommy" for a few years. (I'll believe that when I see it; she doesn't stick with anybody that long.) When pressed for details, he said he didn't quite understand it, but "Mommy" had said something about "Foster." (Hmmm.) Foster-parenting three girls? Yeah, he said, that sounded about right. For a long time, like several years? Again, the affirmative. He couldn't provide any other details, like why on earth a commitment-phobic, um, person like her would take on no less than three foster children (or what kind of lunatic would give them to her). I nudged my husband. "Money." He looked confused. "They pay foster parents, didn't you know?" The light dawned. "So that's why there are so many kids found starving in basements!" Yep. It's all about the Benjamins, baby.

But in this case, there's more. "Mommy" hasn't been willing to have any other children biologically ('cause this whole custody thing is such a pain, and who needs more of it?), but she sees that having younger siblings is something our boy really values. In fact, it was a major reason for the evaluator's recommendation to have Son1 stay with our family. That is, we are a family. He has a strong bond with his brothers and it would injure him to have it broken. "Mommy" considers that, dismisses the ridiculous idea of actually leaving him with our family, and comes up with her own clever counterfeit: A call to Social Services, and voila! Instant family, with her instead of us. What more could the boy want?

It's really sad that she thinks a cheap imitation should be as good as the real thing. Worse, that she's using innocent human beings for her pawns. But it's even sadder to think that a court of law might take her side anyway.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Male Pattern Blindness

Warning: Drug-induced Sexist Generalizations Ahead, but don't mind me...

Some visitors dropped by this evening to check on how our family's doing. I was feeling a little better, so I had my husband wheel me out to the living room in a chair. I hadn't been out of the bedroom for several days, so the "completely trashed" state of our house was a bit of a surprise to me. My husband had been telling me how much housework he was getting done, saying the place looked pretty good. I was mortified, but I hoped they'd understand, what with me being bedridden and the kids being out-of-control monkeys and so on. My poor husband hardly even gets a bathroom break lately.

I don't think they noticed. They made small talk while I grimaced in pain, my children alternately climbed up cupboards and jumped off couches, and my husband dashed from room to room, trying to keep everyone alive. It must have been obvious that neither of us had showered today. Or maybe not. Our guests made ready to leave with the comment, "Let us know if there's anything we can do for you..." Gee, I'll think about it.

Then our fearless youngest, with all the energy of the crazed rugby player that he resembles, flung himself off the back of the couch, flipped over the arm, and landed BOOM on his head, twisting his little neck and emitting a LOT of terrifying screams. Our visitors waited long enough to make sure he wasn't dead, then resumed heading for the door, amid the shrieking, muttering that same mantra, "If there's anything we can do...."

By this time, my pain was so bad I couldn't unclench my jaw, or I would have screamed, "Are you blind?!" But maybe they were. They're men, and more to the point, they're men who aren't responsible for running households day to day. They don't cook, clean, and take care of children most of the time, and they don't have to care for an invalid 24 hours a day to boot. Not only could they not see the filth in our house, they couldn't see the needs to be filled.

It's probably unfair of me to criticize; it was a nice thought and I appreciate them taking the time to stop by. But I wanted to tell them that what they could do to help is send their wives next time.

Friday, February 18, 2005


My parents brought books for our kids this week. Among these was "Oh Say Can You Say Dinosaur?" (a Cat in the Hat book). So storytime goes something like this...

Dad: Oh say can you say "Archaeopteryx"?
Pirate Boy: Arr-kee-OP-ter-icks.
Punkin Baby: Bird!

Hah! I told you my kids were smart.

What My Brain Does On Vacation

I'm not sure who came up with it first, but my father-in-law says this all the time: "Pain is nature's way of telling you to slow down."
Here's my corollary: A ruptured disc is nature's way of telling you that your purse/briefcase/diaper bag is too heavy.

I have slowed down so much as to be indistinguishable from a corpse. Gives me a chance to read and do other things I always want to but can't. Like make up stupid limericks:

There once was a gal with a cane
Who said, "I am tired of this pain.
It keeps me in bed
And on powerful meds,
Which prevent any use of my brain."

Looking forward to more lucid times.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Live! From Percocet City!

I thought about titling this story "Curses! Foiled again!" My husband says I should call it “Things can always get worse.” They certainly can. For example, when you’re going into battle against Satan and her attorney, and your family and your very life are on the line, don’t be surprised if your judge's name turns out to be Gilmore.

Don't be shocked when your witnesses disappear or chicken out or have emergency surgery or have to stay in Missouri to take care of a spouse who is suddenly deathly ill. Don’t be at all surprised if your babysitter suddenly cancels on you the night before the trial and none of your friends and acquaintances are home on a Tuesday night to answer your calls for help. And it goes without saying that you should expect bad weather and bad traffic.

I have to admit, though, that I never expected to throw my back out an hour before the trial. I didn’t expect it to take more than an hour to get the kids dropped off and get to the courthouse. And I never expected or even heard the ambulance zooming into the intersection we were entering.

I am SO lucky that it didn’t hit us, and even luckier that my mom and dad made it to town in time, so one could take me to the emergency room while the other stayed in court to watch the carnage. As bad (OK, excruciating) as the pain was, as I clung to the siderail of my hospital bed, I grinned at my dad, “ This is still more fun than being in court.”

After I left the hospital, I went to see my primary care doc, who said it was likely a ruptured disc and that surgery was possible. Oh, yay. At this point, I just wanted to go home and lie down…but when we got there, I realized (through a codeine-induced haze) that I’d left my keys with my husband…at the courthouse…20 miles away. Of course. What to do…? We didn’t have the baby seats, so we couldn’t go get the littler boys.

Then it occurred to me that after the morning’s fiasco, I didn’t even know where our oldest was, so we set off to find him. I’d arranged for his Den Mother to pick him up after school before I knew that they’d cancelled Scouts that day, but I wasn’t quite sure where her street was. So we went to a mutual acquaintance’s house to get directions, since I’d left the info in my car…at the courthouse…20 miles away. This friend was just pulling out of her driveway as we drove up, but we caught her and got directions to the scout leader’s house. Scout leader was just heading out too, and said that our boy was in fact at the other friend’s house with our other little guys. Back across town we went to that tiny apartment full of kids and toys, but not much else.

Then we just waited. Eventually my husband would show up or call. ‘Cause no, we don’t have a cell phone or even an answering machine. As we sat there amid the chaos, trying to have a grownup conversation, my dad discovered that the husband of this friend was from the same obscure little area of eastern Utah that he’d grown up in. “What? So-and-so’s your cousin? He was my best friend!” And so on. Meanwhile, toddlers fought over who got to ride the tricycle in the house, preschoolers fought over cookies, and the older kids fought bad guys on the Xbox-like thing. And I fought the pain.

Eventually, my husband called & said he was on his way over. Did he mention how the trial had turned out? No. The booger. (He’s wonderfully romantic and a great husband and father, but he’s still a booger.) My mom called next and gave us a bit more information. First, we didn’t get a verdict. Second, the opposing attorney is evil (this from the woman who sees the good in everyone). And third, what would everyone like for dinner? I love my mom; she’s so practical.

The folks left for the airport before 5 a.m. today so they could be home in time for work. Crazy, wonderful parents. I’ve been bedridden since yesterday and expect it to continue for another few days at least. Today was my deadline at work. I didn’t get that last article in. My coworkers came by to say not to worry about it and give me flowers. Nice people. And a dear friend from church brought us dinner (and more flowers) tonight.

So I ask you, am I cursed? Or the luckiest woman alive? Either way, it makes for a great story.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Isn't It Romantic?

Holy cow! My husband gave me a tiara for Valentine's Day! Shall I repeat that?

A tiara.

And what may be the world's largest heart-shaped balloon, surrounded by smaller (by "smaller" here, I mean only 18-24 inches across) heart-shaped balloons. And a giant red glass urn full of roses and other lovely things. And a gorgeous red desk pen topped with a silver heart...And did I mention the tiara?

I'm wearing it to work tomorrow, I swear.

The flower-shop guy who brought it said that this was the biggest delivery in town today. I bet it was. I have the most romantic husband in the entire bizarre, wacked-out world, and I love him to pieces. He says it's his mission in life to make other husbands look bad. How's he doing?

Friday, February 11, 2005

Faith and Hope

I've spent most of my life trying to be strong and independent; I never thought that was a fault. My mom will probably confirm that my first (and for a while, only) full sentence was "I can do it myself!" It's what we do in my family. Work, be self-reliant. That's great as far as it goes. But I never developed much in the way of faith, or even hope. If it wasn't something I could make happen myself, it probably wouldn't happen. What basis this idea had in fact is lost in the mists of time and my lousy memory.

The converse idea also took root. If I wanted something badly enough and I worked hard enough at it, I could make it happen. Right? Well, it worked for a while. Did great in school, got through college on scholarship, got dates with (and even a few proposals from) guys I liked, graduated with honors, and managed to snag employment as a, well, let's say "glamorous international super-spy" (c'mon, humor me here). It was awesome. In that same vein, I married my first husband, whom I'd been dating in college, figuring I could make it work, even though we didn't agree on everything (or more precisely, anything).

Turns out I was wrong. One person can't make a marriage work. One person can, however, make a divorce happen. After the obligatory year of complete insanity, I went off to Hawaii. I figured that if nothing else worked out, a few years of wiggling my toes in the sand would do me good. It did. I began to see a glimmer of wisdom.

Then I met and married my second husband. (That story elsewhere.) I got pregnant right off the honeymoon; how deliriously happy we were! And how utterly and unbearably sick I felt! But it was all right, I was strong and independent enough to get through it and still do my job. We wanted this baby so badly, we'd do anything. We were going to name him Jareth.

Until an ultrasound discovered that our baby wasn't going to live. At that point, I didn't think I was going to live, either. It was so foreign to me, the idea that no matter what I did, I couldn't save my baby. I couldn't make things right. I couldn't even get through the workweek. I delivered my baby at about 17 weeks, a few days before Christmas. We named him Gabriel.

When I got back to work in January, my boss had a LOT of harsh words for me because of the time I'd taken off. Reeling from the loss of my baby, the huge hormone surges, and the total unfairness of his accusations, I thought it over for a day or two, then submitted my resignation.

This was a low point for my life in more ways than the obvious ones. More than just the grieving over my baby and the potential baby, more than the loss of the career I had loved, I felt like my world view had been shattered. No matter what I did, I couldn't make things right. I felt like a total failure, especially as a woman. I questioned whether anything would ever be right again.

But I moved forward. I kept putting one foot in front of the other, sometimes yelling curses at the cosmos, but eventually feeling a little bit humbled. I really needed it. A few weeks of unemployment, with a family to support, at the height of the pre-recession boom did another number on my self-esteem. "Willing to move just about anywhere, please give me a job!" didn't work as well as I'd hoped. But I'd started to hope.

And this is where my faith started to take hold. It turns out that the trauma that we started our marriage with just made our relationship stronger. Going through it all with no one to lean on but each other brought us closer together. And after losing Gabriel, we better appreciate the sweet babies we've had since then. Plus, my new job gives me the freedom to work from home, which I just couldn't do before. So when I was pregnant the last time and partially bedridden, I just curled up with my laptop and kept working. And because I don't work in the suburban D.C. area anymore, I felt a guilty sort of relief when the terrorists, snipers, blackouts, and blizzards struck there.

I never wanted to believe that things always work out for the best, especially bad, horrible, traumatic, nasty things. But it may just be true. This time around, I'm willing to have faith. (I'm still going to work my independent tail off, though.)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Bundle of Nerves

As I may have mentioned, we've got this wee bit of stress going around our house lately. Next Wednesday is our custody trial, which will have kind of a big impact on our family's future and an undeniably huge impact on the life of a little boy we're not even allowed to tell about it. Actually, he's not that little (10 years old), he's not totally clueless, and he really deserves to know what we're doing and why.

What we're doing is trying to move one state over so that my husband can get a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering. (More details here.) That's nothing threatening to the boy's psyche. What messes with his head is the fact that his mother is deliberately and maliciously putting roadblocks in our way. So we're not allowed to acknowledge that. Of course, it's in his best interest. Just like everything else she does. What? She's his mother.

So things have been a bit tense around here. All the kids can feel it, even though we're not allowed to tell them what's going on (probably because of that). We can tell them that Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Shannon are going to be visiting (very briefly) next week. They're very excited. And much rowdier than ever. I think our toddler has turned into a small, red-headed kangaroo; he won't stop jumping (mostly on his parents, but often on the beds).

My point (and I do have one) was going to be that it's not bad enough we have the constant deluge of court motions, lawyer bills, and even a subpoena, for heaven's sake! (Who decided they had to subpoena the "petitioner" to come to the court, I don't know, but it had "Devil's Advocate" on the letterhead.) No, I very cleverly ran out of my Prozac prescription at the same time. I called it in when I still had a few left, but of course they had to call my doctor's office, and then there was the weekend, and on Monday night the pharmacy still didn't have the meds.

So here's me coming home on Tuesday afternoon, after 3 days without the stuff: Bang! SLAM! (Flinging of laptop onto a chair and storming around the house.) To husband's worried glance, I snarl, "I'm going to find the &!*#$%# phone, and I'm going to say a lot of nasty words into it at the doctor, and then I'm going to go somewhere and SCREAM!" Strangely enough, when the doctor's office was good enough to call me back, my prescription was magically at the pharmacy. And when I actually took the beautiful meds, birds began to sing and rainbows to appear.

Well, not really. But I'm feeling a lot better.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Risky Business

I'm thinking of writing for Zero Boss' Blogging for Books contest this month. Topic: a time in my life when I took a risk on something or someone. Tell you what, that's my whole life. (Even the time I spent in northern Idaho, also known as the "Somebody Kill Me" year.) I'll tell you what else: There's no way I'm admitting to a lot of the risks I've taken; some of my friends and relatives drop by here once in a while. I don't want them to drop dead, too.

On the other hand, there are some doozies I could mention. Like when I asked for a divorce from my first husband. We were in this romantic suite in a beautiful castle in Scotland, his parents were in the next room (just arrived for a visit after 2 years), I could have been incredibly happy, but I spent the whole night crying and yelling very quietly lest the in-laws hear and figure out that we weren't getting along. And then to actually go through with kicking him out and living on my own in a foreign country and being miserably lonely but so much happier without him... No, that's not the one.

I could talk about the time when I shifted gears suddenly in my career and moved from suburban Washington D.C. to Hawaii in pursuit of a relationship that had already ended by the time I actually arrived in the islands... Actually, that one turned out pretty well, too, and I'll tell you why when I get to

Big Risk #3: My second wedding day
No, it wasn't the getting married part that was risky, not comparatively. The biggest risk I took (that day or any other) happened at about 7 a.m. as I was sitting on my lanai, still in my nightgown. Everyone else in the house (my then-fiance's toddler son, my parents, and my younger sister) was still asleep. I had spent a miserable night on the living-room floor, mostly sleepless, anxiety-ridden, anticipating. When my intended stepped quietly out of the guest room, looking equally haggard, I went to put my arms around him, but he pulled away.

"I don't want to get married today," he said. I did not scream or cry, though I wanted to. Hoping for a longer discussion and possibly some explanation, I grabbed his hand and pulled him out onto the lanai (front porch). I sat him down and made him repeat it. "I don't want to get married today." I struggled to remain calm. "OK. Do you want to get married at all, do you think?" He looked downcast. "I don't know."

At this point, I was pretty angry. "This is a lovely time to start thinking about it," I managed. As he stammered out something I don't remember, I was thinking furiously. "OK, would you mind telling me why you don't want to marry me?" Still keeping my voice even, although my jaw was about to lock from the effort. I wanted to know whether it was just cold feet or something else. It was something else, all right. "I want my son to have friends" was one of the reasons he pulled out.

Me, still with the intensely controlled voice, "OK, and how do you think that I'm going to prevent him from that?" I wasn't sure he realized how bizarre and flimsy his excuses were. The one about fearing that I'd be like his ex was more understandable, considering the misery she'd put him through. But I pressed him to name one way in which I was like her. He couldn't think of one, except that we were both female.

Still, he insisted that he didn't want to get married. "OK, so, as your friend," I said, "I have to ask what you plan to do instead." The idea of moving back in with his parents and trying to finish college in Alabama-- and then what?-- seemed to bother him, but that's all he could think of. "As your friend," I continued, "I have to tell you that I think that might not be the best path for you to pursue. But it's your decision."

He squirmed but stuck to his guns. Then I pulled out mine. I told him that it was certainly better for us not to get married if he didn't think any better of me and our relationship than he'd conveyed. I told him what I was looking for in a marriage: friendship, children, and a loving, supportive partnership no matter what life offered, through all the hard times, always being there for each other and, with luck, dying in each other's arms as frail octagenarians. Then I told him he was free to go just as soon as he could pack his bags. Heck, his parents were in town for the wedding; they'd take him home with them. "If marrying me isn't what you want, then go ahead-- leave."

Then I waited. The few heartbeats of time seemed like an eternity. I wanted more than anything else in the world to marry him, but I wasn't going to play stupid games anymore. Life's too short.

And you know what? He married me that afternoon, in a tropical garden on the set of "Fantasy Island." And (he says) he's never had a day's regret in these six and a half years. No more have I.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Let Slip the Blogs of War

I am absolutely not going to go political; it's way overdone. Plus, I don't want to annoy people or turn them off to my writing just because my perspective is a little different, especially on the topics of the military, war in general, and intelligence reports in specific. A lot of people who get all het up about these things (and this is just my guess here, so please correct me if I'm wrong) don't actually have any practical experience. It's OK; I understand. I started out that way, too.

But then I got my first real job, and George Bush was signing my paychecks. I got a big kick out of it, I have to say. And then Gulf War I started, and I got immersed in the realities of intel and war and oh-my-gosh stress and feeling like people's lives are depending on you and more stress because they are. It was awesome, quite literally. I don't think I got a full night's sleep from August to February. Rotating shifts, sometimes 15 hours long, wracking your brains trying to figure out what this thing means because the whole international community is watching, and no I can't take the call from that @&#!$(# senator right now-- can't you see I'm trying to SAVE THE WORLD?!

Lot of pressure for a 23-year-old. Constantly on. I had to be; I worked with a couple of sailors whose wives were both deployed to the war zone, and boy, were those boys jittery. I couldn't let them down.

So I understand what goes on. I know that the policymakers are sometimes clueless. I also know that there's a lot going on that they can't tell you. They have to just sit there and let people throw rocks at them and call them all sorts of horrible names and slander their families back to the fourth generation. In fact, they have to do it so that you'll go on having the freedom to call them names. But don't mind me. I'm not going to get political.

What started this whole topic was my 4-year-old being hilarious again. This afternoon, he jumped out of the car (as always, in his pirate hat and brandishing a sword) and shouted "Fried haddock!" in his best General Chang voice. After that, I couldn't resist.

"Don't we hear the chimes of midnight?" Not quite yet. I'm off a'pirating...

Thursday, February 03, 2005

(Don't) Give the People What They Want

I always get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when any mail arrives with our lawyer's return address. (Sicker still when it's someone else's lawyer.) Today we got a bucketload. Ill, ill, ill. But I have to read it because it just gets worse if you don't know what you're in for. So I did. Turned out to be several court motions, mainly of stuff I coulda guessed at-- witnesses for the opposition, documents and other evidence planned for the trial, etc. However, a tiny little scrap of paper stuck among the others very inobtrusively held an intensely interesting detail.

Specifically, what the woman wants. Between the lines, mainly, but it's there. What the lines say is:
  • We want to take our oldest boy with us when we move out of state (not very far, but an inconvenient distance) so my husband can finish his education.
  • She ("Mommy") doesn't want us to take him anywhere.
  • A highly respected psychiatrist who evaluated the situation recommends that we take the boy with us and send him to visit her quite often, at our expense.
  • We say OK to this plan. Education is important.
  • She says no.
  • She says that she should get custody (after signing it away willingly 8 years ago) AND (this is where you should start paying attention) "the non-custodial parent should have the child for all except one week of his time out of school."

And now we know what she's angling for. She doesn't really think that she'll get custody; the odds are severely against it. She doesn't want it, anyway. She just wants to look good by pretending to want to care for her son, and the visitation clause makes her look reasonable when actually she's pushing for more for herself. More than almost all his free time, with him delivered to her door at our expense: She wants it all. Except the hard part. All the free time, none of the work. It's typical, but if I point it out, I'll look like the bad guy. Very clever, this mistress of evil.

My only hope is that someone else will point out that taking the boy away from his home for every bit of his free time is probably going to be bad for him in some way. The psychiatrist is on her witness list. I'm not sure whether she really expects him to help her case. She's also roped in the second-grade teacher she used to lie about, apparently to prove how involved with her child's schooling "Mommy" was two years ago. Yay for Mommy, good Mommy. Sheesh.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Do or Do Not...Bite Me

I did eventually get up this morning, with the kind help of my big strong husband. He looked at me and asked whether I could make it. I just laughed. It's not like I have much choice. Lack of choice is bad, but so is falling down dead.

Later this morning (in one of those interminable Tuesday meetings), I started thinking about a former boss who took the same line as the school in Filegirl's post today (which I didn't read until tonight, honest!). Of course, he was an Army officer, and I'm pretty sure that whole Yoda attitude is required for OCS graduation. Army officers say, "No excuses" and "There is no 'try'" all day long. Much as he irritated me, I'm sure my refusal to buy into his philosophy annoyed him more. 'Scuse me, sir, but if you'll notice, I never enlisted, and civilians don't have to put up with bullying, begging your pardon I'm sure, sir.

Then I started thinking about another boss I didn't get along with very well-- not an Army officer, an (ex-) NFL player. Same basic lack of sympathy and sensitivity, different haircut. When we were going through some massive layoffs and budget- and time-crunches a couple years ago, my direct supervisor (not coincidentally female) decided to stop asking nicely but obliquely for help and put the situation to him straight. "We are working ourselves to death," she said, and backed it up with medical documentation. So what does Mr. NFL Guy do? Does he hire us more help? Does he at least plead our case with the corporate masters? Shya. He goes around bragging that his team is suffering more than anyone else's. Big help, Irving.

If women are from Venus, men are from another galaxy altogether. Tell you what, though: my female supervisor and I are still alive and employed (and promoted), and Mr. NFL got waxed in the next round of layoffs. Now he knows the awful truth: Failure is TOO an option.

Out to Lunch

When the alarm went off this morning, I rolled over with a scream. "Yeeeooow!" Then a giggle. "I'm James Brown!" My husband, who understood that the scream was directed at my aching back and not at Eddie Money's singing on our clock radio, chimed in with "I feel BAD!" We both lay there giggling for a while.

Sometimes I worry that he doesn't really love me; I mean, he keeps bringing me cake and chocolate even though I desperately need to lose weight. (A paranoid whisper in the back of my brain shrieks "He's trying to kill me!" but I stifle it with chocolate.) But who keeps eating the chocolate, after all? [Total aside: An astute observation from our 4-year-old on this subject has become an aphorism around our house. "Chocolate makes the crying stop." So it does.]

And then there are moments like this morning, and Christmas morning when I explained why I bought him the Pirates! game even after reading some bad reviews and after he'd taken it off his wish list: Secretly, he still wanted it. I knew that, and I want to show him that I love him. But more than that, in these moments, when nobody else in the world can follow our reasoning, we know that we understand each other. And that feels good.