Saturday, March 30, 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

Major Lint in the Bellybutton

Ah… A quiet Friday night.  I really need to write more.  Remember when I was good at this?

I am going to try a new mini-project every Friday. Maybe I’ll call it "Friday Retrospective", to start.  Or "Navel Gazing Friday".  I wish I were clever, and could set it up with a link like ”Six Word Saturday”, so everyone could try to tackle a common question.  But I’m not that clever;  so, I’ll just write.

Here’s today’s question:  How did you view yourself as a child?  How did others view you?

I don’t recall having much of a sense of self.   I did not think I was pretty or smart, and mostly remember trying to create a world to which I belonged.  I tried to look different by giving myself long hair (three pairs of tights on my head, then braided.  It’s pigtails!)  I tried on a lot of personae as a child.  I read compulsively and modeled myself after the heroines of my books:  Caddie Woodlawn, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne of Green Gables, Jo March, Barbara Barry. 

Wow, I sound like a sociopath.  Can you hear the psychiatrist now?  “No personality.  She only absorbs the personalities of others.”

How did people view me?  Not positively, at least mot my family.  I remember very little in the way of kind words from  them:  drama queen; little Sarah Bernhardt; liar. 

Looking back, I see that I was too emotional to be a good fit with the rest of my family.  And it’s also possible that I was always playing roles instead of discovering who I actually was.  I went on to be an actual drama queen, acting in school pays and whatnot. 

Today, I have made friends with this emotional, passionate side of myself.  It mostly feels joyful.  Large!  Hyperbolic for sure, but also entertaining.  When I’m with my mom, though, or any of my siblings, everything reverts to how it was, so I shrink myself to a more comfortable size. 
Any of my readers want to take this on? 
How did you view yourself as a child?  How did others view you?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mixed Bag

First of all, I would like to apologize to my blog-buddies out there:  I haven’t been visiting your blogs the way I want to.  We have been having Internet problems. SOOOOO SLOOOOOOW.

Today has been a little bit blah.  Can I whine?  Tough.  I’m going to anyway.

First of all, my mouth hurts again.  Remember the evil herpes outbreak of December?  I started feeling that telltale prickling in my mouth on Friday, so I went to the InstaCare and got a prescription for an antiviral.  The doctor told me to take it for three days to nip this little bastard in the bud.  Despite having followed her directions carefully, my tongue is prickling again… I am cursed. 

And, our school’s Development Director is leaving to work at a different agency.  I really like her and I am not psyched about a change.

Additionally, I don’t think Chuck and I can be married in Wisconsin after all.  And not in August.  The kids’ schedules are just making it too hard to find even a single day that works.  We are now thinking about a Plan B:  June in Santa Barbara.  I feel sad though. Chuck really wanted to get married at my family’s cottage.  We had visions of sailing, swimming, hammock napping, Scrabble games, root beer floats…I think Santa Barbara is GORGEOUS, but he is jaded, having grown up and married his first wife there.  Why get married in Santa Barbara, California when you can get married in Wautoma, Wisconsin?!?  AND when I called my mom today to tell her, she told me that my sister-in-law has applied online to be allowed to perform weddings, so she could officiate at mine.  I would have LOVED that!  I think she was going to surprise me.  I’m bummed.  What if Chuck’s grandmother can’t come to Santa Barbara?  My mom definitely can’t afford the trip.  And when I told her I would fly her out there, she objected very strongly and kind of got mad. 


Life’s not all bad. Time to look at the bright side.

After all, I am going to marry my guy one way or the other.  We will get used to the June in Santa Barbara plan, I think!

I also think we may be able to go on an actual honeymoon!  [whispered] SPAIN!  More details to follow.  Anyone been to Spain lately?  Suggestions for the very most fun things to do?  Oh, boy!  I hope it happens!

The newspaper arrived on time this morning.

I have started a new book:  This Body of Death, by Elizabeth George.  I love her murder mysteries!  I stayed on the exercise bike for a full hour today, because I had Elizabeth George to keep me company.

Chuck’s ex-girlfriend, Marianne, has moved out of the house next door, at least temporarily.  I think she has plans to make some changes to the house, then move back in.  For the time being, it is nice not to have the weirdness of my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend living next door.  Not that it was bothering me much, though. As time went by, I thought of her less and less.  Except when her boyfriend broke the snowplow.  That was note-worthy.  Otherwise?  Who cares?

Finally, I have been very good and haven’t eaten any junk-food today.

All in all, this day was a solid "B-". 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013

I Blame Dr.Seuss

Because it was Dr. Seuss’ birthday this week, Jodi, the Kitchen Manager, made Green Eggs and Ham for the kids.  The eggs were very green, thanks to a little food coloring.  The ham was regular, ham color.
Because Jodi made too much, there were leftovers.
Because the leftovers were available, I had some, and the ham was really yummy.  I complimented Jodi on the ham.
Because she was flattered, she offered me all the rest of the leftover ham.
That got me thinking.  About a nice ham and cheese sandwich.  About how beautiful the weather is today.  About the very long hours I have put in this week: writing proposals; presentations; award nominations; and doing a load of post-testing.  About how much I want to pack some ham sandwiches into a little backpack, got on the tandem with Chuck and have a sunny, picnic-y day off tomorrow. 

I went to see my boss.  She told me to take it and not even call it a vacation day.  Just consider it a compensatory day for all the extra hours I did this week. 
Do you like green eggs and ham?!  I do so like green eggs and ham!  And I will like them on a bike, and I might like them with a kite; I would like them at a park, and with a beer, and with my guy.  And I will take my sunscreen, too…

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


 Our school's pop machine is ancient.  A collectible.  But we own it!  We can sell soda for 50 cents.  There are special tricks to get it to work properly.  If you don't do eveything just right, it will eat your money.
So, I found this message very inspirational.  Balm to anyone who has ever lost their quarters or received a Sprite instead of Diet Dr. Pepper. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Biting It

OK:  where do you stand on this issue?

When you are out running (or walking, or skipping or whatnot) and you trip on an uneven pavement and fall down like an idiot, do you:

1.  Leap back up immediately and look around surreptitiously, to see if anyone was watching?  Or do you
2.  Roll over on your back and stare at the sky for a moment, cursing the universe?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Bicycle Built for Two

[Our night out with BBQ and Blues was fun, but not what we expected.  We got there nice and early and saved a table for the other two couples.  As it got later and they didn't show, I texted one woman.  She told me that she had been stuck late at work and couldn't come after all.  Texts to her husband to see if he wanted to join us anyway went unanswered.  The other couple simply didn't show up.  I would never make a stink about it to them, but I do think it is kind of rude to make plans together, then not bother even contacting anyone when your plans change.  Does this ever happen to you?  However, a large group of couples arrived after the band had started and could not find a place to sit, so they asked if they could crowd our table.  We all squished in and laughed and chatted and listened to music.  I danced a couple times with Chuck and once with one of the women at our table.]

Chuck is a really good cyclist.  I am a toodler. I have never owned a pair of bike shorts, or a helmet or anything.  I briefly owned a 10 speed in high school. 
And now I know why I should have stuck with this MO.  Leg fat!  I bent over and took this photo of my thighs, which is why they are upside down.  Leg fat is also the reason that whenever I wear gartered stockings, I always cut off the elasticated part at the stocking's top. Don't want that elastic cutting in to my leg fat and leaving bulges.  Today was sunny but nippy, so I was happy to pull on a pair of tights over the bike shorts.  Maybe by summer, I will not have so much squishiness going on.
 There it is!  Our new (well, second-hand, but you know what I mean) tandem.
 Chuck and his ex-girlfriend Marianne used to have one.  She bought it for him as a birthday gift, but when they split up, it mysteriously disappeared from the house. The specially designed roof-rack as well.  He was really sad about it, so we saved up and got another one.  We still haven't seen Marianne (who is now our next-door neighbor) out riding around with her boyfriend on the other one.  Maybe when the weather is warmer. 

Tandems are good:  never any arguments about who was going too fast and leaving the other person behind, etc...  And it is fun! I laughed my head off a lot of the time we were out.  The stoker position is a little odd and takes getting used to:  you need to pedal at the speed the person in front wants to; and you can't steer either.  That's disconcerting.  At one point, we were going through some tight places and I couldn't help steering.  It does nothing, though, except jiggle the seat under Chuck's butt.  I have a feeling that we will be doing this a lot as the weather gets warmer.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

Spring is Overdue

Before our regularly scheduled programming, I need to make a side note about a previous post: "No Shit, Sherlock".  I said that if I bought a house, I wouldn’t be able to ask Chuck to help me with it.  What I meant was that I have hangups about asking him to sink his limited funds into a house that will be solely mine, even to the extent of maintenance or remodeling.  If he knew I needed anything, from a switch plate cover to a granite counter top, he would do everything he could to get it for me.  The questions, though, is whether it is fair to ask him.  We did end up deciding to look at two of the properties my real estate agent found; but they have both been temporarily taken off the market.  She says she’ll keep looking. In the meantime, if Chuck and I want professional advice about how we should handle managing our money together, what sort of person do we talk to?

 While we get all that squared away, spring is trying to come to the mountains.
The sledding hill has lost its appeal.
The wood piles (for heating and for cooking) are both all gone.
The house is chilly.
The snow looks dirty and tired. 
It is slowly melting to reveal some dirty little secrets, like the Christmas tree we blew up on New Year's that is still lying out there, festooned with soggy firework wrappers.
On the other hand
I can see the compost box.
The septic system has its own melty patch, exposing green grass.
I am re-reading Animal Vegetable Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver, which is making me think about asparagus and... 
I can see the sailboats…

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hi, My name is Anthony, and I am AWESOME!

Don’t you wish you could be a fly on the wall at the Vatican this month, for the Papal Conclave?  Well, OK, neither do I.  It will probably be boring; but I bet the food will be good…  The part that intrigues me is that the cardinals supposedly do not know each other very well, which will make it more challenging to select the next pontiff.  According to National Public Radio, some time will be spent at the conclave getting to know each other.  I am picturing it right now:  passing an orange from cardinal to cardinal, under their chins… or maybe that game where you pass a lifesaver on toothpicks.  However, both of these games involve a level of physical intimacy that may be uncomfortable for these guys.  There’s always the game where you pull off a bunch of toilet paper and you have to tell one personal tidbit for each square that you pulled off…

Monday, March 4, 2013

No Shit, Sherlock.

It’s not always elementary, I’m afraid.

After almost two years of entirely friction-free relationship, Chuck and I finally had some serious unpleasantness last night.  I don’t want to call it a fight:  we weren’t arguing about anything.  We just didn’t deal well with a tense topic that we were trying to discuss – me buying a house.

I can see that, with interest rates being what they are, this makes good financial sense.  It would be a rental.  But I’m scared.  For me, it is a big step.  Just looking at some listings my real estate agent had sent me, I felt like I was going to hyperventilate.

I am just finishing up The Hound of the Baskervilles, in which Sherlock Holmes employs deductive reasoning to solve a mystery.  He takes specific details and builds a generality.  Chuck tried to help me by doing the opposite:  breaking down each component of why I was nervous and coming up with a rational contradiction.  He often does this.  Sometimes, this helps me.  But when the real problem is that I’m having an emotional response to something, this is not helpful.  It devolved into Chuck feeling frustrated; me being hurt by his tone of voice; me leaving the room and going to the spare bedroom, where I could curl up in a blanket and cry lustily on my own. 
The world is a big place; and I, when imagining my life as a single woman, always thought, “I’ll live small.  I’ll live simple.” 
I should be bolder, I know.  But.

Two years ago, I didn’t even know how much money I earned.  I hadn’t written a check in years.  I didn’t know how to make a budget, or anything about my taxes or retirement plans.  S-L-O-W-L-Y I have been coming to grips with all of this, but there is still a lot I don’t know.  I now manage our day-to-day household finances like a pro, including paying all the bills on time, setting the budget, deciding what to do with the monthly savings, etc…  I am still trying to figure out taxes.  I am still trying to get to the bottom of my various long-term / retirement savings plans.  I always imagined that I would achieve mastery at those things, THEN buy a house.  And the element of having it be a rental just makes it more complicated.

AND.  I’m a busy woman.  I have a demanding job, kids that need to be shuttled hither and yon, a relationship that needs to be nurtured.  A house that needs to be cleaned.  Pets.  Friends.  Where will I find time for the cleaning, the repairs, the problems, the postings, the walk-throughs, the bugging people to pay their rent?  I already feel like I do not have enough time just to relax and catch my breath and watch the clouds for a few minutes.  I’m going to be a landlady!?

FINALLY. I am going to get married this summer.  Chuck and I will be a “we”.  But this is my money, my house, my choice, my risk.  Chuck is present and supportive, but he will have no financial skin in the game.  That means that, when something breaks, I can’t ask him to fix it.  If I can’t find a tenant and the house is sitting vacant, it will be my accounts that are being drained to pay the mortgage.  It’s just like parenting.  He’s there: he’s my friend and sounding board; but I make all the decisions and mete out all the punishment.  Is this how second marriages always are?  It doesn’t feel like “we”.  

I finished my lusty cry and went to bed.  Chuck soothed me and told me everything was all right.  But here’s the last problem. My former husband was unbelievably cruel to me about any tension, conflict, or upset.  And that is not hyperbole.  I would end up begging him to forgive me, just so he would stop saying the things he was saying.  I would think long and hard, trying to find something I could apologize for.  In 19 years of marriage, he NEVER apologized to me even once.  He told me that, any problems between us made him love me less.  So here I am with a very different type of man, and I’m kicking myself because I failed to be perfect.  I wasn’t a Stepford wife.  I was flawed, and I hate myself for that.  Does he still even WANT to get married?  I’m trying so hard not to think that way.

In the meantime, anyone out there got advice about coming to grips emotionally with large financial decisions?  Anyone else out there ever been scared to buy a house? Anyone want to give me advice about second marriages?