December 31, 2007

Last Entry for 2007

Well, this has been quite a year for me. I've moved into my brand new home, found new interests and rekindled old ones, made new friends and found old ones again. I've taken the ex to court twice, albeit without much effect, and I've managed to make it on my own even without the child support. I've sent my oldest child off to first grade, and mostly come to terms with the fact that my great-grandmother, at the age of 97, has breast cancer as well as dementia.

I hope that next year will be a better year. I hate my job; so I'm hoping to find a better one. I need the child support payments; so I'm hoping my ex will wise up and start paying. I plan to finish the book I'm writing by summer, and I hope to find a publisher that will like it and want to publish it. I'm also planning to finally lose the extra weight that I've been wanting to lose. I never work out b/c I don't have time; so this year, I'm going to make time. I'm going to make a point of putting myself first sometimes. I always put my kids, my job, the house, everything and everyone else first. While I'm not going to be selfish, I'm going to make at least one night a week just for me. To put the kids to bed a little early, take a bubble bath, give myself a manicure, pedicure, etc., and pamper myself. By making myself feel better, I'll be able to give more to my kids, job, and everything else. I'm going to start wearing make-up regularly again. I'm going to do my meditating more regularly; I've got too much stress and I don't meditate nearly enough to really relieve it.

It's been a good year, but it's also been a rough year. Here's hoping the worst is behind me, and that things will only get better.

To anyone who's reading this, Happy New Year!!

December 7, 2007

Stupidity and the inability to shut up can be such a beautiful thing

Dear You,

You know, after the last time, I thought you'd learn. And you did. Just not what I thought you'd learn. You've had chance after chance to change, to grow, to learn and to do what's right. Yet still, you persist in continuing on in the same way as before. Is this lack of ability or lack of concern?

I never thought you'd come over and talk to me before we went in. Of course, it shouldn't have surprised me. You're a coward, one that would never have the courage to talk to me if I was standing with friends or family. But because I was standing alone, you gathered up your meager store of courage and approached me. Your reason was that you wanted to know how our children were doing. As I told you they are fine. Not, of course, because of anything you do. Let's be honest here, you do nothing for them. That's why I made you repeat yourself more than once. I couldn't believe you were asking how my children were doing. Yes, I said my children. I do everything, you do nothing, I see no point to giving you any credit whatsoever.

And this is why I pity you even as you anger me, and even as I despise you. You do nothing for them. You have no idea what it is to lie awake each night, thinking and planning how you are going to ensure your children get 3 meals a day though you only have enough money for 2. You don't know how hard it is to watch your child struggle with homework, so desperate to give them the answer, but knowing you must bite your tongue because they'll never learn it if you give them all the answers. You don't know the physical pain of holding back your own tears after your child has misbehaved and you have to take away a much-anticipated sleepover at their grandparents and he stands before you, tears streaming down his face, nose running as he begs you to please change your mind and you tell him once more, no. You don't know how much those things claw at your soul, shredding it inside you!

You've never had to tell him you can't buy him a balloon animal that costs 50 cents, because you just don't have a measly half dollar to spare. You've never had to stay up late to figure out yet another way to make rice or potatoes because you can't afford anything else. You've never borrowed your parents' credit card to buy Christmas presents for the kids because if you didn't, they wouldn't have Christmas unless they starved for the entire month of December.

You don't worry every time you need time off from work that you might come back to find you have no job. You don't plan the ways you'll beg your boss not to fire you before you even tell her you need the time off. But then, that's not a surprise, because you don't want to work, so you probably wouldn't care if they did fire you.

But you know what, that's all okay. Really, it's fine.

Because while you don't do all that, you also don't tuck them into bed each night, smelling the watermelon soap and raspberry shampoo they used at bathtime. You don't kiss their sweet little boy cheeks, and hear their precious little voices say, "I love you" as they also wish you sweet dreams. You don't get the cuddles when they are sick or have a bad dream. You don't get to laugh at all their silly little stories and ideas. You don't get the sheer, uncomparable joy of seeing their amazement when Santa brings them exactly what they want on Christmas, or seeing them look at you like you're some kind of hero, when you fix their favorite toy for the fifth time this month. You don't get the rush of love that comes when you see them come running to you at the end of the work day, so thrilled to see you because they missed you so much while you were gone and they were with the sitter.

You don't get to feel the intense pride I feel when they behave well, or do well in school on an assignment. You don't get to brag about them to anyone who will listen the way I do. You don't get to take any credit whatsoever for the wonderful, good people they will turn out to be someday. That's all mine.

You are missing out on all the special moments in thier lives. You won't have any wonderful, precious, cherished memories to keep you warm when you grow older. You won't have the love and respect of these two precious people who still trust so easily and love so much. You won't have a relationship with them, because you don't have one with them now, and don't want one. And that, You, is precisely why I pity you.

I hate you because you've put me in the position of being a single mother. You've left me to be mother and father to them, to worry and worry constantly about how we'll survive, because you won't contribute to their support. Which is why you're in a small jail cell right now.

But I pity you for all you are missing out on. Things that you don't know and don't care about right now, but when you are old and alone because you've driven everyone away with your selfishness and lazy irresponsibility, you'll care then. You'll look back on these wasted years and you'll taste bitter regret on your tongue.

But so as not to drive the stake in too deeply, let me say it now: I told you so.


The ex and I were in court this week. He's still not paying, so I moved to have him held in contempt yet again. Sure enough, this time he got 60 days in the county lockup. It's really pretty sad, though. He's got a complete lack of ability to realize how easily he could solve this problem. He comes into court, no job, no money, and seems to think that boyish charm, or in this case, flat rudeness, will get him out of trouble. He admits to the judge that he does absolutely nothing all day, gets caught in more than one lie, and actually has the balls to get an attitude with the judge. As the title says, stupidity and the inability to shut up can be such a beautiful thing sometimes.

But, I do pity him. Not only for the things he's missing out on with my kids. Even before the judge ordered that he be incarcerated, he knew it would happen. He began getting his things together, taking off jewelry and belts and such that he can't have in jail, and asking the bailiffs to give it to his father outside. He knew how to hold his hands for the cuffs, he's gone through this so many times. I pity him for that. I find it so sad that someone I once loved and saw a forever future with has come to this. He knows arrest procedure and incarceration as well as the police officers do, and that is a shame. He's one of those people who has amazing book smarts when he applies himself, but not much common sense, and way too much self-indulgence and laziness for any one person to have.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not getting soft and wanting to go easy on him. That won't happen. My children are entitled to that child support. And since they are unable to fight for themselves, I will fight for them, and I will not stop. I just find it so pathetic that someone who could do good things if he wanted to, just doesn't. He's selfish and arrogant, and if it doesn't do something for him, he doesn't want to do it. How nice it would be if we could all be that way. Ha!

60 days in the county jail. I doubt it will make much of a difference in him. But, I do hope that on Christmas Day, when he gets his meal of whatever they give them in jail (and we all know it's not as nice as what we get at home), that he looks at that meal, and looks around himself at the bare, cold walls and bars of his cell, and at the other inmates around him, and realizes that this doesn't have to be his life. I hope that he realizes what it means to be a man, and lives up to that. I hope that other inmates might come to that same realization as well.

And if he doesn't realize it, then I'm just glad he incriminates himself every time we go to court. Makes my job so much easier.

November 27, 2007

Being My Whole Self

I watched a movie that I recorded from Lifetime tonight. It was called More of Me, starring Molly Shannon as a mother of twins who wishes there was more of her to go around to her career, twin children, and husband. In classic TV fairy tale fashion, her wish comes true, and out of a 3-panel mirror comes one of her to be the mother, one to be the career woman, and one to be a sex kitten to the hubby. Each of the alter egos end up spinning out of control, and going to extremes in their particular area. By the end of the movie, she realizes that she needs to be "my whole self" in order to be the best person she can be.

The movie was, I think, intended to be a comedy. It certainly was funny. But, it made me think. As a single mother, although all mothers do feel it, I often find myself wishing things were different. When I'm at work, I feel guilty and want to be home taking care of my children. When I'm home with my children b/c they're sick or something, I feel like I'm letting my employer down. And at least twice a day, once at work and once with the kids, I wish for some "me time". I feel as though nothing and no one gets as much of me as they deserve, or need. When I take time for myself, even something as simple as a bubble bath after the kids are in bed and sound asleep, I feel as though something somewhere is being neglected. I'll sit in bubbles up to my neck and think about how I should be in bed, resting for the early morning ahead of me.

But as I watched this movie, I realized that even though I feel as though I'm letting everyone down, I'm not. I need these different parts of myself in order to be what everyone needs. I wouldn't be a good mother if I never had any experiences outside my home and my children. How can they learn anything from me if I have nothing to teach them? And without work, and a little quiet time, I wouldn't appreciate my children as much as I do.

We often focus so much on what we aren't doing for others, what we don't have for them, what we can't do, can't find, can't say. We think more about our perceived failures than our true triumphs. I'm not one of those perky, dimpled smile people that drives everyone nuts with their upbeat attitudes. But I do think that the power of positive thinking has some merit to it. Maybe instead of focusing on what we don't/can't do for our kids, spouse, employer, friend, family member, neighbor, etc., we should focus on what we already do for them.

And there's something else that I had pointed out to me today:

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.
When you thought I wasn't looking , I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me and I learned that the little things can be the special things in life.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I knew there is a God I could always talk to and I learned to trust in God.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don't. When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn't feel good and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw tears come from your eyes and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it's all right to cry.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw that you cared and I wanted to be everything that I could be.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I learned most of life's lessons that I need to know to be a good and productive person when I grow up.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I looked at you and wanted to say, 'Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn't looking.'

That was sent to me in an e-mail at work. And although you can tell it's meant to be a reminder that children are watching, I think it's something to keep in mind for everyone. I think we all do things that we don't think other people notice, but they do. More than that though, I think we do things for others that we don't realize matter so much to them. A simple thank you for a job well done seems like nothing to us, but the person we're thanking might take that thank you as so much more b/c they're having a bad day, or week, or month.

With those thoughts in mind, and bedtime looming near, I think I'm off to do some guilt-free yoga. And tonight my mantra will be "I can't be what everyone needs unless I am my whole self".

November 13, 2007

Instant Gratification = Whining Adults

It's a really great thing to be able to go online, and read the news anytime you want, instead of waiting for 6pm or 11pm. It's awesome to shop online before you hit the store to get an idea of what you want, or to check flight times and book your flight and hotel for your vacation. But there is one problem with all this instant response stuff: It turns adults into whiny little brats.

I work for a company that wholesale distributes products to the retail store. This means that we deal with the retail store owners and their employees whenever they call in to place their orders, or have questions about a product. I have several problems with the behavior of these people.

First and foremost, is that they call in constantly with questions about how the product works, what it looks like, etc. Seems to me if you're going to sell it, you should be somewhat familiar with it. I, for one, am not impressed by the high-pressure salesperson who says, "I don't know how it works, let me call my distributor and ask."

Second is their attitude. These people will call up with the worst attitude I've ever heard in my life. Who do they think they are impressing here? They call up and they say to me, "I want to speak to so and so." I say so and so is on a call, but I can put them thru to voicemail, and in return, I hear, "Look, I have a customer here, so just get up off your butt and go tell so and so I'm holding, I need answers and I need them now." Excuse me?! If I ever heard a salesperson talking to someone that way, whether or my behalf or not, that would be the end of it right there. I would walk out of their store immediately.

What really gets to me though, is the whining. These people whine more than my children! When our computer system was down one day, it was supposed to come back up in 30 minutes which was when one of the salespeople went to lunch. When I told his customer that it would be up in 30, he says to me, "But he'll be at lunch then. How will I place my order? I need to do this now, before he goes to lunch. What will I do if I can't?" Uh, hello, the computer system is down. You can't place the order, even if I do put you through to your salesperson. When I try to explain to him that his salesperson will call him back when he gets back from lunch, he whines about the wait.

I realize we all have things to do, and I realize that the customer can just go on down the street to the next customer, but seriously: can we not wait 15-20 minutes for a return call? Why must they act like it's the end of the world instead of thinking of it as an opportunity to try to sell other stuff while they wait?

And they always want to hold, as if their salesperson doesn't have 20 other people to call back, and they are just the most important customer we have. I want to know how they can stand to sit there doing nothing but listening to cheesy hold music? That would drive me nuts. I never want to hold. I'd rather call back or leave a message and have them call me back.

Oh, and let's not forget the threats. I actualy had one customer call up (he does maybe $2000 worth of business a year) and when I said his salesrep was on a call, he said to me, "Put me on hold. And I better not have to hold long or I'll call Corporate. I don't want to call them, but I will if I have to." LOL. I guess that's supposed to make me leap from my chair and run at full speed to his salesperson and tell him that if he doesn't get off the phone with his $250,000 customer right now and take this other guy, he's going to call Corporate. Big friggin' deal. And frankly, when I'm threatened, I tend to respond by doing the exact thing they say they don't want me to do. I left him on hold for a half hour. Gee, he never did call Corporate. Hmmm...maybe he couldn't figure out how to dial all those numbers.

We claim our children are becoming selfish, and want everything now, now, NOW. I think, though, that if these people are any indication, it's our own fault. We've come to expect to get everything immediately, and have therefore taught our children that this is acceptable. I'm guilty of it too, although I do try very hard to teach my children patience and that there are times when you just can't have what you want right when you want it. I think I do a pretty good job.

Although it's great to have easy access to things, I think we should take a step back in time. Credit cards weren't always around; you had to save your money for things you wanted. You see it all the time in old movies, or even "Leave It To Beaver" and shows like it: the kid who stares longingly in the window and the bike he so desperately wants, but can't have until he gets enough money from mowing lawns. Most people would not have a lot of the debt they have if they quit using the credit cards to immediately buy what they want, and just saved for it. Don't misunderstand me: I have one credit card, and I'm broke. I'm a single mom with a sucky job that doesn't pay nearly well enough. But, I'm not broke because of my credit card. I use it one time per year: to pay for Christmas. That's it.

I'm just saying: While you can get most everything you want right away, sometimes you have to accept that it's just not going to happen, and be gracious. Be patient. Don't whine like a child. It's very unattractive.

November 10, 2007

Knowledge? Or just a big mouth with a direct line to a little brain?

When I was growing up, I couldn't wait to escape the tiny town I lived in. It was unbearably boring, with nothing to do and no one to hang out with. That was not offensive to my friends, because they felt the same as I did. Our parents were too controlling, shackling us with tons of rules and curfews, which as adults now, we realize were actually tender chains of love, not shackles.

Time passed, and eventually, I did grow up, and I did move away. I moved away, had my fun, and now, ten years later, I'm back, raising my two children here so that they can hate it as I did, only to later realize how nice it actually is.

I'm sure you're familiar with the name Wesley Snipes? Yes, honey, I am from the Ocala area. You know, that area where you just can't turn around without seein' a cross-burnin' or a lynchin'. I mean, goodness gracious, we're just so damn racist around here, we can't stand it. ***typed with a honey-thick Southern drawl***

Ok, I'm done with the sarcasm. Seriously, this whole situation is ridiculous. I mean, the fact that he's pulling the race card on charges of tax evasion...really. It's pretty simple owe taxes, if you don't pay them...hmmm, yeah you'll get charged with tax evasion.

But it's not just his claim. It's the fact that everyone who wants to agree with him, and say that this area is a "hotbed of Klan activity"...has never been here! Or if they have, they were driving through on their way to somewhere else! So, how, exactly did they discover all this Klan activity?

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying there aren't any racist people around here. There are. Just like there are in every other city, in every county, in every state. Racist people are everywhere. And they're wrong. Period.

With that said, this area, while it definitely does have it's share of rednecks, is not any better or any worse than any other area of the country. The thing I find most offensive, though, is that all the people who are saying how bad this area is, are people who've never been here or who've only passed through very briefly. That would be like me saying that Miami is full of Cuban voodoo. I hear all the time that there's tons of Cuban people down there. True? I don't know. I've never been there. Do they all do voodoo? I don't know. I've never been there, never met them. I'm sure there may be some, but that doesn't make it full of it. And I can't say either way, because, again: I've never been there. I would never presume to make a declarative opinion about something like that without having actually been to the place, living there, and making an effort to find out.

So, I'm left to wonder why people feel the need to spout opinions based on nothing more than air and call them fact. You can't call it knowledge when there is no knowledge behind it. So, the only thing I'm left with is that their mouth is bigger than their brain, and and so whatever few things filter down from the tiny mind flow out of the big mouth like water in a thunderstorm from a dry rain spout: unstoppable.

November 6, 2007

Role Models? Maybe not.

Have you noticed how we seem to hold "celebrities" to a higher moral standard than we do most "average" people? Let me put a disclaimer here: I am not condoning the actions of any celebrity, nor am I excusing, or justifying them either.

Dog the Bounty Hunter was just yanked off the A&E schedule for his use of the N-word. Now, again, not condoning, excusing, or justifying. With that said, here's how I see it: He was just fired for something he did in what he thought was privacy. His use of that word was wrong, pure and simple, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. He should not have used it; no one said. I agree with most people, though, who say that if people really want that word to go away, the rappers need to stop using it, and so do every day black people. But, back to my point. He was saying something to his son in what he thought was going to be a private message. Since when do we get fired for things we do at home? How many of us would be fired tomorrow if our boss found out what we said about him/her at home? And really, we've all had that really bad day when we came home and told our spouse, child, friend, neighbor, whoever, what a jerk the boss was.

Now, I'm not saying that he didn't deserve some kind of repercussion. This got out, and as a public figure, yes he does have some responsibility to set an example. I think anyone in a position of that type has an obligation to set an example, and to try to do good with their status. But, at the same time, they're entitled to make mistakes, just like the rest of us. And yet, when they do, we act shocked and amazed, as if we thought that they just couldn't do that.

Let's be honest here: If this was your best friend, your spouse, your sister/brother/mom/dad, neighbor, co-worker, whoever, and they'd made this comment in their home, and it got out, you'd be up in arms, angry and outraged that they were being fired for something they did in their home. And yet, when it's a celebrity, we demand they be fired, lose everything they've ever had. Is it a case of wanting to punish the accused, or is it a case of being jealous and wanting to bring them down to our status?

Now, don't get me wrong: I've never been a fan of Dog. I only watched his show because I think his son, Leland, is hot. I've always felt that Dog seemed a bit...hypocritical, doing his little prayer circle before hunting, and then calling the bounties all kinds of names. And I realize that we're dealing with the criminal element here. He's not the mailman delivering the phone bill. He's a bounty hunter, hunting down lowlifes who've broken the law, and then chosen to run/hide when it comes time to face the judge. Yeah, calling them names is expected, and hell, I say appropriate. But it seems hypocritical to me to stand around and pray first. You're a Christian, fine. You believe, great. But something about that whole scenario just seems weird.

Anyway, my point was to say, why do we hold celebrities to such a higher standard? Is it because they really should be? Should we really expect them to be so much better than us morally? And if we should, why? Why shouldn't we expect ourselves to be better? As I said, I believe that they are in a position to set an example, yes. But, with that said, I prefer my children's role models to be someone a bit more...down to earth. Celebrities have plenty of money at their disposal to do anything they want, buy what they want, and change whatever they want about their lives. Us regular people don't have that luxury. We go to work everyday at jobs we despise, working for and with people we don't like, who annoy or anger us, and come home to clean the house, cook dinner, help with homework, and repeat ourselves five times before we're heard when we say it's bedtime. I'd rather my children learn from that than from the celebrity who can crack up a car in a high speed car chase, blame it on the drugs and go to rehab, or spend ninety minutes in jail.

That's not to say we can't admire celebrities. In a previous post, I've named some of the ones I look up to: Queen Latifah, Melissa Etheridge, Reba, and I've recently found Jenny McCarthy to be another. But the people I've looked up to the most, my entire life, have been my parents, my grandparents, and other people like them.

I think we need to change the way we look at things. I think we need to expect good from celebrities, but not demand a public beheading when they screw up. I think we need to encourage our children to look to us for their role models and their ideas of how real men and women should act. We need to take control of our lives and the future of society instead of letting it rest in the hands of celebrities who are just as human as we are and make the same mistakes that we do.

Second disclaimer: Britney Spears, Nicole Ritchey, Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, and company are not included in this blog. They are just plain out of control and should be locked away somewhere until they get it together.

November 3, 2007

The Reality of Stephen King

So, here's a Halloween story for you, a couple of days late:

Two women, a mother and daughter, take the daughters two kids to a haunted house on the Saturday following Halloween. Being that it's within walking distance, they decide to walk. They make their way through the home of torture and fear, and then begin their trek back home. Turning onto their dark street, they walk a few steps before a truck turns onto the street behind them. The women take the children and step off the road onto either side of it, waiting for the truck to pass. The driver turns his headlights off and on, to indicate they should continue. Warily, they do so. The truck does not move. A few steps later, music begins to emanate from the truck. The daughter recognizes it as AC/DC, but not the precise song title. A lyric or two into it, she realizes it's "Highway to Hell". Appropriate.

They continue walking, trying to quell their unease. The truck finally begins to slowly move. They all crowd to one side of the street, as far off as possible to allow the truck to pass. Finally, he does so. A few yards down the road, he speeds up. Both women breathe a sigh of relief. They make their way, and about the time they get to the daughter's house, the truck turns into a driveway, backs up and turns around. "Highway to Hell" is still blaring from the speakers. The four step into the yard, to wait for it to pass, not wanting the driver to know that it is their destination. He stops in the road directly in front of the house. Trying to convince themselves that perhaps this is just some lost person needing directions, they step toward the truck, and he speeds off down the road again. Turning the corner, he is gone. The four make a mad dash for the house, thrilled that the mother's husband is on his way.

Spooky story, right? That really happened to me tonight! I told my mother the second he flashed his headlights at us, I said "This is a Stephen King novel waiting to happen." I sit here, an hour and a half later, still not knowing why this guy did all this, but still very uncomfortable. I actually went to my car and brought in a stick with a piece of lead on the end of it that I carry for protection. Fortunately, my car is parked in my attached garage, therefore I didn't have to go outside. This was just so weird. The thing is, this is usually a pretty safe neighborhood. I don't know if that made it more scary or not, but it got to me.

So now, I had stuff I was going to watch on TV tonight, but I'm so spooked, I can't bring myself to watch it because it's all scary stuff. This is so annoying.

On a lighter boys got kind of scared at the haunted house. My oldest really freaked out at one point, because they had this tableau with a boy being held captive to be turned into dinner, and the boy is reaching through the fence begging you to please help him, and he's only a couple of years older than my son. I understood why that upset him, and I sat down with him on the ground, and explained to him that it was fake, that the little boy was not scared. I told him that the boy was actually having a lot of fun pretending to be scared. I think he understood. He's sleeping now, so that's a good sign. I guess if he wakes me up in the middle of the night, we'll know it didn't work.

Well, I think I'll go watch "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion" on TV. A nice, funny movie to lighten me up and get rid of the spooks.

November 1, 2007

What's Important?

Last night was Halloween, of course. I took my children trick-or-treating at a walking-distance business that was having a haunted house/party for the kids in town. They were dressed up as Frankenstein, and absolutely adorable. I went as a vampire victim. LOL

They had a great time, as did I. My parents went with us, and we saw a lot of friends. One of whom was the business partner/best friend of the friend who died over the weekend. It was good to see him there. It was the first time I'd seen him since the death, and so I went to give him a hug and let him know I was there for him. He hugged me tight and I could hear the tears in his voice as he spoke in my ear. This is not a man who cries easily. I brought my boys home, and by the time we got washed up and into bed, it was ten o'clock. They weren't asleep until eleven.

I was frustrated, because I wanted to shower and get to bed myself. I was verging on angry, because I was just so damn tired, and I'd had a long day that I wanted to be over. Just when I was ready to lose my temper, I heard the echo of my friends tear-choked voice in my ear. And I realized that life is too short to be upset over a little lost sleep. I reminded myself that I should just be grateful that my children are here to keep me awake. That extra hour of sleep really isn't that important when you think that you could lose your child, your parent, significant other, friend, in just the span of time it takes to have the thought that you want to get mad at them. And would you really want them to die with you being angry at them? I know I wouldn't.

With that said, there is someone that I am mad at, and pretty much always am. And it ties in with the theme of what's important, because I cannot fathom this. My former husband owes me several thousand dollars in child support, because he hasn't paid in a couple of years. I've taken him to court twice to have him held in contempt for this, and he's been to jail once for it. He's a convicted felon on probation, which means this could, feasibly, send him to prison, under the right circumstances. I've filed papers to take him in again. This will be contempt #3. Now, there's more than one reason I can't understand him. The most obvious is: self-preservation. Most people would pay the support to keep themselves out of trouble, if for no other reason. Yet he seems to not care about that, or he's too stupid to realize how much trouble this could be. Which is entirely possible, because he's one of those people who couldn't dump water out of a boot with instructions on the heel. But, let's set aside self-preservation. How could you help concieve two children, profess to love them, to want them, and then just completely and totally turn your back on them in every possible way? How could you walk away from your own flesh and blood without a single glance back, without a twinge of guilt, and not feel the slightest remorse, guilt, regret, doubt, concern, SOMETHING?! The thought of walking away from my children is something I would do about as soon as I would grab a butcher knife and cut my own heart out of my chest. I do not understand how someone can do that.

My oldest asks me sometimes why his father doesn't come see him. I don't want to lie to him, but I also don't want to build his father up to him. So, I say the only thing I can, walking that fine line between truth and deceit: I say his father has problems he has to work out. Which isn't really a lie, I suppose, because not loving your child is a problem in my book. But I feel bad telling my son that, because I feel as though I'm holding something back from him. And I don't like to be anything less than honest with him, not only because honesty is a value I hold as important, but also because considering how much his father lies, I feel as though I'm doing my son a disservice.

This is where the title of my post tonight comes into play. What is important to you? After the recent death, and seeing my friend last night, I've really been thinking about this today. What's really important to me? I've always known my kids were important to me, that they come first, but today I've realized just how important they are to me. I've realized that making sure they are healthy, cared for, and have the values, morals, education, and abilities required to take care of themselves as they grow are important. So, tonight, instead of making dinner while I help with homework, like I usually do, I sat down with my son and focused on helping him.

I've also realized that I need to stop worrying so much about my weight. I've been overweight since having my children, and I constantly diet to try to lose the weight, and worry about what people think, and wish I had the figure I had before I had kids. I've decided I can't do that anymore. I have to accept that I am who I am, and that I am beautiful just like I am. Instead of worrying about what I can eat that won't make me gain ten pounds, or when I will find time today to work out, I'm going to enjoy my time with my kids, or reading, or whatever I'm doing. I'm going to focus on the moment, like yoga teaches.

I do yoga and meditate daily. I'm going to start using my meditation to focus on what's really important in life.

Oh, and just to lighten the post up a kids aren't scared of anything. LOL They didn't get scared of anything in the haunted house, although Mommy and Granny got scared a couple of times. There's another haunted house in the neighbor hood that will be open on Saturday, cause she only does it on weekends. We'll see if they get scared there or not. :)

October 28, 2007

Those left behind

Sometimes you come across a book that touches you and really makes you think instead of just entertaining you briefly. I just re-read such a book. The Snow Garden by Christopher Rice is a book....well, I'm going to give you my summary since the book has none that I've ever found. It's a book about a group of college students, all of whom have a tragic past that they are trying to escape, by creating themselves anew, some more than others. Randall Stone, who is running from the fact that he (possibly unintentionally) killed his entire town, is the most successful at doing so, although all of them, and even a professor, are all moderately successful at this task. The book follows them from when they start at the college, backtracking into their pasts to give you the story of why they are so desperate to escape who they are. It's a really good book.

As I read it, and after I finished it late this afternoon, I couldn't help but wonder, how many of us would really like to do this ourselves. I mean, I'll be the first to admit there are some things I'd like to outrun, change, erase, or whatever I could do to eliminate them from my history. But, given the actual opportunity, the chance, to really do it, would I? When I sit here right now, with it not being a true possibility, I can say yes, I would. But I also know that that's not a realistic answer, because I know I can't do it, so it's easy to say I would.

But, the weirdest thing about all this is that as I'm having these thoughts, I get a phone call. Someone that I've been acquainted with, and who's been a friend of my family for years, shot his girlfriend in the face and then killed himself last night. Her young son discovered her lying on the couch, injured but alive, and found his body. It seems so strange to have finished this book and now am trying to accept that someone I knew could do something like this. There is no explanation at this point for why he did it, although there will never be one to satisfy those left behind. What reason can you give for attempting to kill someone you love, and then killing yourself? What can you say that will ease the suffering and the grief that those who are left to pick up the pieces and carry on? As far as I've ever known, there is nothing.

But, at the same time, I'm also reminded of Stephen King's Lisey's Story, which is, to quote Nora Roberts, at its core, a love story. This book shows you the strange and twisted ways that people will sometimes show their love. We always think that people who abuse their children, kill their spouses, or kill themselves, obviously don't love those people. And while it will never make such tragedies right or acceptable, it does make you take a step back and think, "Wait a minute. What s/he did wasn't right. And obviously there was something wrong there. But maybe I shouldn't be so quick to say s/he didn't love them."

I say that because I know that in no time, there are going to be people who are going to say that he must not have loved her, or that he hated her, or what have you. And you know what, maybe they will be right. But, maybe, just maybe, they're not. Maybe he did love her. Maybe the problem did not lie in his feelings for her, but his feelings for himself, or some other situation. That doesn't make it right.

I'm not condoning what he did. I'm not saying he's right, or that what he did was acceptable, okay, or even understandable. I don't understand it. To be honest, I don't know that I want to understand it. That might require going somewhere in my mind that I don't want to go, somewhere where insanity and depravation lives in all of us. But what I am saying is that we should not judge him, should not be judge and jury in the trial of his life. Obviously, he made a mistake, and it's not one he can ever atone for or make right now. So maybe we should cut him some slack, and instead of passing judgment, think of those he left behind. Those, like the girlfriend he shot, who now has to forever wonder why he did this. Or her son, who will forever wake up from nightmares in which he continues to find his mother's bloody form on their couch. Or his best friend and business partner, who doesn't understand any of it, and just wants his best friend alive and well again. None of them want to hear anyone say how horrible a person he was, or how he didn't love whoever, or deserved what he got or any of the other millions of stupid, petty, judgmental comments we all make when we see these situations on the news and in the paper. Yes, I've done it too. But now that the news story exists outside the TV and the paper for me, I realize how wrong we all are to do that.

His friends and family will grieve for him. We will, because regardless of his reasons, he was a living man and he deserves to have someone grieve for him. But we will also grieve for the ones he left behind, the ones he left to try to pick up shattered pieces of life and try to glue them back together into some resemblance of what they used to be, even though it will never be the same. That gaping hole that was him will never be filled, and life will never be the same.

October 24, 2007

Regret? Or just wishful thinking?

When I was 17, I worked as a cashier in a grocery store. I loved that job; and I was so good at it, too. Not that I'm not good at the much more complicated jobs I've had since then; it was just something to really be proud of at that time. But, that's not my point.

While working at this grocery store, I met a much older man. He was 24. He was sexy, funny, sweet, everything a girl could possibly look for in a man. But, of course, being 17, I was too stupid to realize the good thing I had, and so for the next few years, we had a yo-yo relationship: up and down, on and off, him waiting patiently for me to grow up, me wanting something more exciting, dramatic.

Well, end of that story is that I made a huge mistake, although in some ways I don't regret it. I met my ex-husband and got pregnant with my oldest child. The result was, well, of course, my child, but that I married my former jerk-I mean, spouse. I was adult enough to call and try to tell my wonderful guy how stupid I was and what I was doing. After that, I never spoke to him again.

I don't blame him for hating me, despising me, or anything else he may, and probably does, feel for me.

Here's my thing though: There's a lot of nights, I lie awake, wondering where he is, what he's doing, and if there were any possibility he might still love me, and if I found him, maybe we could have a chance.

Which is why I now wonder: Do I truly regret what happened, truly still love him and want another chance with him, or is it the wishful thinking of youth gone by? Is it what I really want, or do I only think I want it because it's not an option? I've looked for him, used every resource I can find that doesn't cost (because as a single mother, I can't afford it!), all to no avail. Which is another reason why I wonder. I mean, if I could have just dialed his number, and had him on the phone, would I still have this longing for him? Or is this a matter of wanting what I can't have?

I'd like to think it's real. I do think it's real. This was a man who meant a lot to me, even though I wouldn't admit it at first. My ex-husband was a mistake, and had I not met him and gotten pregnant, I believe this other guy and I would still be together, with a family of our own. Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying I want to go back and change things. In one sense, I would, because I would still have the other guy. But mostly, I have to say, as much as I regret the end of the relationship, I'd still do it, because it gave me my children. My children are my life, my world, my center. I can't say I would change or regret the situation that resulted in thier births.

I don't mean to sound mopey and depressed. It's just something that I think of quite frequently. I'm sure other people do something similar. I just wonder....are we all regretting what truly could have been, or are we regretting what we've convinced oureslves would have been?

October 17, 2007

Popcorn, Cotton Candy and Music

Hmmm...betcha can't guess what this is gonna be about. :)

My son's school had a fair tonight. It was pretty cool...totally free, everything. Which, as a single mother, I love. Anything free is a good thing when your paycheck is stretched so thin you can see right thru it like a friggin pane of glass.

Anyway...for being a small deal at a small "country" school, it was a lot of fun. The kids got to slide on an inflatable slide, jump in an inflatable fun house, and just generally have a blast. The school librarian (and pretty hot guy...not just for his looks, read on) was in the dunking booth. My oldest couldn't dunk him, and neither could my little guy. But Mr. Wilson is such a sweetie, he had the teenage boy running the booth lift my little one up, take his hand with the ball and bang it on the target so he'd get dunked. :) We all got splashed and my 4 yr old strutted the rest of the night, crowing, "I dunked Mr. Wilson!" I love a man who can be so nice to kids. This guy definitely tops my list of awesome men just for that.

The Sheriff's dept. was there with their helicopter. All the kids got to sit in it, and at the end of the night, we got to watch it take off, too. I'm an adult, and even I have to say, it was pretty cool. LOL. I never realized how powerful they were, though. We were standing there and I was thinking how nice this breeze was that had come up. Then I realized the trees weren't moving off in the distance. That was when it hit me. It was the helicopter. My two boys stood there, mouths dropped open, eyes wide, amazement clear in their gazes. I got a thrill just from that, just from seeing them so amazed and awed by something so simple. I also was glad it gave me an opportunity to let them talk to a police officer and show them that the police are friendly and that we should trust them if we need help.

I embarassed my son, too. That was fun. They started playing the Macarena, so I started dancing. My son was like "Mom, stop that." I looked at him, and I'm like, "What?". He goes "Stop that, you're embarassing me." LOL I told him he needed to remember that moment the next time he wants to make a butthead out of himself in the grocery store. Then, I stopped dancing. LOL.

We didn't get any cotton candy, though, because the machine broke. My boys were very disappointed, and I'm disappointed for them. Cotton candy is a fair staple, and it just doesn't seem like you really get the full experience unless you get cotton candy. I promised I would buy some from the store for them...of course, now I have to find a store that has some.

All in all, they had a blast, and so did I, just from watching their joy. It's good to see a bunch of kids act like kids. All the kids there, no matter how old they were(it was K-12), just acted like kids. No one felt the need to act like they were too cool to be there, or it was boring, or whatever. It reminded me of what it was like to be a kid. To go do something just because it was fun, not because you had to. To do something fun on a school night, and not worry about the fact that you had to get up early the next day, or do dishes, or laundry, or pay the phone bill, or whatever. I think we all need to do stuff like that every now and then. We all need to set aside the worries of adulthood and be a kid again for just a little while.

But, here's what I find truly funny: My son is listening to all this music that they're playing, and telling me how much he loves this song or that song, and they're all songs from when I was a kid! I used to hear songs growing up, and come home to tell my parents about this "new song" I just heard, only to have them tell me it had been around since they were younger. I never believed it, until now. I have to laugh when my son comes home to tell me about this new song he heard, for example, called "Who Let the Dogs Out" and I tell him that I used to listen to that when I was pregnant with him. It's truly funny to see that look on his face. Priceless.

October 12, 2007

Ever notice how much life sucks?

Yeah, I know. Real blunt. I'm feeling blunt tonight. See, here's the thing. I'm trying real hard to be optimistic and upbeat and all that crap, but it ain't workin' so well.

My youngest child turned 4 last week. Not a bad thing, per se. But, as happy an occasion as it is, it's also slightly depressing for the mother. The sudden and yet not so sudden realization that my baby is growing up is not a fun one to come to. I look at my child, and see how different from the baby that was he is now, and although it's wonderful in some aspects, it's also saddening in some. I see hints of the man he will be one day, side by side with leftover tidbits of that chubby little baby I brought home from the hospital. The two different life periods intertwined make for a very bittersweet moment in time. This, in itself, is not the reason for my bad mood, though.

My great-grandmother is still alive at the age of 97. She's the only great grandmother I have left, along with one set of grandparents. I feel very fortunate to be 28 years old and still be able to say that I have grandparents, and a great-grandmother that are still alive. This gratitude is being rapidly worn away, however. My great-grandmother suffers from dementia and is now in a nursing home. This alone is depressing. She doesn't want to be there. She cries and begs for various family members to take her home when they visit. This is heartbreaking, even if you don't witness it first hand.

That's not the worst part. At 97, she's now been diagnosed with breast cancer. It started with a lump the size of a dime, and within 3 months was the size of a lime. They will not do anything to treat it. Logically, the 28 year old part of me, my mind, understands this. At her age, she might not survive the surgery, or might and then not survive chemo, or might survive all of it only to be pronounced in remission and die of old age the next day.

But my heart, that little girl inside of me, doesn't understand any of this at all. Why won't they try to save her? Why won't they do something, anything, to help her? Why did this happen at all? She's 97! Isn't it enough that she would die soon anyway? Plus she has dementia. She's already lost to us in mind, living in some world in her head, built by her own design, populated with her own little family and friends. Is it really necessary to force her to live in pain and agony for her last days?

I realize some of what I'm saying sounds like I'm being selfish and not wanting my great-grandma to die. That's not the case. I've long ago made peace with the fact that she will die, as will my grandparents, parents, even myself and my children, someday. This abstract concept is not a problem for me. The reality of my great-grandma's more imminent death is a little harder to accept, but I've made great progress in the acceptance of this. It's the way she will go that bothers me.

I don't want her to die a painful death. It just doesn't seem right. Almost a hundred years on this planet, giving birth to several children, seeing the births of many grandchildren, and even more great-grandchildren, seeing the world go from outhouses, no indoor plumbing, no phone, not being able to afford electricity, no cars, to a world full of CDs, DVDs, hybrid cars, MP3 players. She's lived through wars taking place on foriegn soil, and watched as terrorists attacked on our own soil. She's watched the world change from mothers staying at home with their children while the men worked, to single mothers having children, occasionally without a father. She's lived so long, seen so much, and it just doesn't seem right that her death should be one filled with pain. She should be able to die with dignity, in a way that is calm, peaceful, and uneventful. Is that really so much to ask?

People will tell you that things happen for a reason. No matter their faith, no matter yours, they all say that. I just don't see the reason for this. What possible reason could be served by giving a 97 year old woman a painful illness that, at her age, is incurable, and forcing her to live out her last days either in pain or in a drug-induced, but pain-free, haze. Neither one seems to be the option I'd want if I were her.

I've mostly come to terms with her death. I know one day, my phone will ring, and it will be my mother or father to tell me she's gone. And when that happens, I will cry. I will feel that ache deep inside that tells me that she's no longer here, and I will find the way to sit down with my children and find the words to tell them of her passing. Whether or not they will understand is another story, especially considering that I don't much understand myself.

So, I repeat my question: Ever notice how much life sucks?

October 1, 2007

Innocence of an early Fall Day

My babysitter had a situation to deal with today that required her to close, therefore I had to stay at home with my 3 yr old. We left the house this am around 6:45 to drop my 6 yr old at school and then came back home. By 7:30am it was raining. Then it stopped, rained again around 10ish, and then cleared up. We hung out inside, though, cause it was just easier. At 1, we left to get my oldest. I have an attached garage, so I don't actually go outside until I step out of my car at my destination. Or, in a case like today, until I roll the window down at the mailbox.

When I pulled up at the mailbox in front of the house and put the window down, the first thing to hit me was the temperature: It was beautiful. Comfortable, warm but not hot, cool but not cold, just that perfect temperature that makes you wish for this moment to last forever.

The next thing to hit me was the smell. You know that smell you smell when fall is just beginning? It's that indescribable scent that you just associate with fall: crisp, good, cleansing. It's not one you can explain with words like "salty" "spicy" or anything like that. It's just that smell that seems to float it's way into your nose, clearing out pollution, allergies, stress, all of it. It seems almost to slide into your brain, massaging the tension of life away, for that one moment anyway. It's also a fleeting scent. You only smell it that one time, at the beginning of fall. Tomorrow, well tomorrow it's supposed to rain, but if it weren't, the smell still wouldn't be the same. That first time you smell it, you have to breathe deep, take it all in, savor it, enjoy it, revel in it, because the next time you try to find it, it will be gone.

It was so wonderful I took my kids out into the backyard after we got back from school. Homework was left on the table for later, dinner put in the freezer to be cooked whenever we got to it, and the phone left where it was. No one needed to interrupt my precious time with my babies. So, we went out back, laid on the ground, and found shapes in the clouds. I haven't done that in so many years...I don't even remember when the last time was. Just like riding a bike, it all came back instantly. I saw a sheep, a girl on a unicorn, a duck, a dog, and when my oldest saw a crocodile, it took me only a split second to see through his eyes and see it, too. At one moment, even with my sunglasses on, I found my thoughts turning to complaints about the sun being too bright. I mentally slapped the thought away. Children don't complain about that. They simply squint and enjoy the moment; so that is what I did. I'll have crow's feet for it; who cares? I got to be a kid again for just a few moments, and it was wonderful.

Tomorrow morning, the alarm will go off at 5:30, that ungodly hour of the day when it is still dark and quiet and I'm starting my day with dressing, making lunches, and deciding how to wear my hair for yet another day at a job I'm growing to dislike more and more by the day. At that time, the stress, worry, tension, responsibility, and aggravation of adulthood will rush back in. And at that time, I will welcome them with open arms, as they are my life now. But for this afternoon, for tonight, I'm simply a girl. I may be 28, but that doesn't mean I can't still be a girl every now and then. Yes, I helped with homework, cooked dinner and loaded the dishwasher. But you know what? None of that pushed me back up the ladder to adulthood. It probably would have if I'd let it; I didn't. Like I said, tomorrow morning is soon enough. Right now, as I sit here with my fingers flying over the keyboard as they have since high school, I am nothing more than a girl. Old sitcoms on TV, 80's music on the stereo, a good book at my side, it all combines to make me feel as though I've gone back to that simpler time. That time when bills and grocery shopping were someone else's responsibility, and all I had to do was eat, sleep, do homework, and hang out with my friends.

Friendships are harder to maintain now. Grocery shopping and bill paying take up the time that used to be spent with friends. Homework has been replaced with real work, although homework still comes into play when your little one struggles, or when you want to be sure they understand how important education is. Eating and sleeping become things to schedule instead of things to enjoy, and even those things you enjoy so much tend to feel like chores because you have to plan and plot to make time for them, much as you would plan doing the laundry or plot who will do the vacuuming today.

Even with all the responsibilty, the chores, the bills, and everything else; I think we all need to take some time every now and then to lay down in the back yard and see the shapes in the clouds. To smell that sweet, here-and-then-gone scent of fall in the air. To feel the balm of smooth temperatures flow like tender fingertips across your skin. Squint into the sun without complaint; you can buy some Olay later to cure the wrinkles. Laugh with your children. They'll be thrilled; and so will you, if you just let yourself. Don't let Life stop you from enjoying your life.

September 28, 2007

R-E-S-P-E-C-T....what does it really mean?

OK, once again, no poem tonight. Tonight I'm blogging about respect. This is a two-fold thing. Part of it has to do with celebrities and part to do with just regular people.

Am I the only one who's noticed lately the slew of celebrities getting arrested and/or just plain attention for doing the stupidest, most idiotic things? Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Britney and all her problems, and now, even Keifer Sutherland has been arrested for a DUI! I used to think he was one of the celebrities you could look to as a role model but no more.

See, here's my thinking: A celebrity should be more than a face in a movie. They should be role models, someone to look up to, to want to be like. Not necessarily the whole famous, tons of money thing, but to be like them in terms of personality and good deeds. They just aren't that anymore.

There are about 5 people that are celebrities that I can think of right now that I admire and respect. Yes, I said respect. I have no respect for most celebrities today; I may like their acting/singing/writing etc, but I don't respect them because they just don't seem worthy. Let me tell you the people I do respect and why:

1. Melissa Etheridge: Yes, because she's a lesbian, and no, not because she's a lesbian. Let's be honest here; most people today feel the need to conform, to hide who they are, what they are, for fear that people won't like them, won't buy their movies/music/books, hire them, etc. Melissa doesn't do that. She also doesn't feel the need to crow from the rooftops about who/what she is. She simply is. Period. She's a happily married lesbian, with a beautiful wife and children, all of whom she loves, and she simply is. She's honest about it, but doesn't need to shove it down your throat. When she had breast cancer, she was honest and open, and showed the world just how tough she really was. I admire someone like that. Someone who can be who she is, without feeling shame, anger, or the need to be in your face all the time. She has a "Take me or leave me" attitude; either you like her for who she is, or you don't, and she doesn't much care either way. She's as human as anyone else, so I'm sure when someone makes disparaging remarks about her or her wife, it hurts her. But that doesn't make her run out and proclaim she's not who she is, or that she's being treated differently because of who she is. She simply moves on with her life and doesn't let it get her down.

2. Queen Latifah: This woman is another like Melissa Etheridge; she is who she is and you either accept her or you don't. She's a full figured woman, but you don't see reports of her starving herself, binging, or being on the newest crazy diet. She has accepted that she is larger, and made it work for her. This is the biggest part of it for me. I have had 2 children, and my body shows it. I am out of shape and overweight, but seeing someone like Queen Latifah helps me feel better about myself. It reminds me that we are all beautiful. She also doesn't get herself into trouble all the time. You look at some of these other celebs, and they're out drinking, and drugging, sleeping with whoever or whatever. She doesn't do that. Her love life is discreet, if she drinks or does drugs, it's behind closed doors. She sets a good example publicly. This is the kind of woman I want to be like.

3. Camryn Manheim: Same thing as Queen Latifah. She's a bigger woman who's comfortable with herself. You don't see her dieting, drinking, carousing, or generally making an ass out of herself. Again, she makes me feel better about myself.

4. Reba: A beautiful, wholesome country girl who can write, act, sing, run a business, raise a family all at the same time. What the hell isn't to admire there? She's multitalented, responsible, again, no drinking, drugs, dieting, no offensive comments coming out of her mouth, no fueding with anyone. She's one of those celebs that you just feel like if you met her on the street, she'd end up being your best friend. I think Melissa, Queen, and Camryn would be similar, but with Reba it's just something that you can't help but feel.

5. Stephen King: Aside from his incredible imagination and talent, he's just another down-to-earth person who doesn't seem to have let the fame and money go to his head. He has a wife, children, a life outside his public persona. He's humble, and real.

See, these are the kind of people we need more of. People who are real, who are humble, who don't let fame, fortune, and attention go to their heads. Nicole, Britney, Lindsey and the like have all let it go to their heads. Not to mention that they feel the need to live up to this ridiculously idealized image of what they should be. I don't want to see some size 2 bimbo as the ideal woman and what I should aspire to be. I want to aspire to be like the women on my list: happy with who I am, no matter what my size, lifestyle, orientation, money situation, etc. I want to be able to be comfortable with myself, and not constantly wishing I was smaller, taller, richer, more famous, whatever.

On to the next aspect of the whole respect issue...My employer has merged with another company, and is upgrading the computer and phone systems. Not a bad thing alone. But, I see bad things coming down the road with the power of a semi. I see my entire location being shut down by Dec. 1st., give or take a day or two. But no one in a position to know, and trust me they do know, will tell us anything. Now, while I understand that they may be concerned about us walking out on them, my problem is this: I have 2 kids to support. I have a mortgage, bills, food, etc. to take care of. If you're going to put me out of a job, couldn't you at least respect me enough to give me a heads up so I can prepare for that? Of course, if you call them on it, they'll claim they couldn't say anything, that they were told by the higher ups not to. Grow some balls, would ya? When you know people have families, responsibilities, bills, you should have the damn decency to show them the courtesy of a little advance warning.

People don't give or earn respect anymore. You used to be taught that you should respect someone until they give you a reason not to. These days, it seems that it would be more appropriate to say give respect only to those who earn it.

OK. I'm done with my rant for tonight. :)

September 27, 2007

The Vulnerability of Love

Anyone who's ever been in love knows just how vulnerable it makes you. Not just romantic love, any love. Love that's true, deep, intense, and real makes you vulnerable like nothing else in life can. Your heart is on display, outside a protective glass box. Anyone can throw a dart and pierce it so easily, when you love someone.

I've loved many people in my life. The obvious ones: parents, grandparents, blah blah blah. And I do love those people dearly. This is where one aspect of the vulnerability appears. My great-grandmother, a woman I truly love dearly, is 97 years old. She has breast cancer, and at her age, there is nothing that they can do that would serve any real purpose to help her. I'm 28 years old. I've lost other family, I've lost friends, to death in various forms, including to breast cancer. But this love that I feel for this woman, this love makes me nothing more than a child. I've accepted that she will die, I have for many years. I'm not living in a fantasy world, I know that eventually, all those that I love will die...that's life. But accepting an abstract concept of reality, and facing the rather immediate reality of that same abstract concept are two very different things. Now that I'm faced with the fact that she will be gone from my life soon, I find it difficult to face. My heart hurts, my eyes well with tears and my brain just can't wrap itself around the concept. Every time I talk to someone about her, we do the usual "How's Grandma?" "The same" or "Getting worse". The answers are what I expect yes, but not what I hope to hear. I still, childishly, pathetically, ridiculously, hope to hear someone say that her cancer has miraculously cured itself. I've never wished so hard for a cure for cancer than I have now.

She's not the only one I love though. I love my children even more desperately than my great-grandmother, my parents, myself. They are the beings that truly put my heart in the middle of the street for the world to run over. I would die for my children without hesitation. I would die for them on the hint of there being the need for me to do so. I want everything for them: all the things they need, the things they want, a bright future with a good job, nice home, loving wife and incredible children. I want to be able to simply hand them all these things, even though I know the only way they'll appreciate them is if they work for and earn them. Still....a mother wants to provide. That's our job. It's in the manual.

But romantic love...that's a funny one. We claim to love unconditionally. I've noticed, this unconditional part...seems to really only apply fully to those we have no choice but to love: children, parents, siblings, other family. Unconditional love when it comes to boy/girlfriends, spouses, and the like only applies when they do what we want and don't hurt our feelings. Think about it: When someone cheats, betrays your trust in someway, or does something we find morally reprehensible, suddenly we don't love them anymore. Or claim we don't, at any rate. What's up with that?

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not judging anyone for that feeling. I've done it. When my former husband cheated on me, generally the first words out of my mouth ran something along the lines of "I hate you!" or "I don't love you anymore!" Of course, in the end, those quickly spouted phrases turned out to be fateful prophecies of our future, but that's not my point. My point is, why do we claim to love someone unconditionally when, in reality, we place many conditions on them? For those of you who are sitting there right now, saying, "Hey! I've never placed conditions on my boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/person I'm seeing/insert your situation here", let me ask you these questions:

1. Do you expect him/her to be faithful?
2. Expect him/her to be honest, not lie to you?
3. Expect him/her to live without breaking the law?
4. I bet you expect him/her to work at a decent job, to want the same things you want, to have similar interests, right?

Well, look at that, there's 4 conditions right there that you place on your love, your lover, and your relationship. See? Now, don't misunderstand; again, I'm not judging. I have those conditions, too. My point is why do we want to be crow about unconditional love and such when really, we only love under certain, rather rigid circumstances?

I've had many loves in my life, some great. My ex-husband does not fall under the category of "great". In total brutal honesty, he really doesn't fall under the "love" category much at all...but that's a blog for another time.

One of my great loves was a boy I met at the very tender age of 13. He was a sweetie of a boy, and we were together for 5 years, until I was 18 and we went our separate ways. He was also the first boy I was...intimate with, hence his status as a great love. Sweet boy, and I truly, without a doubt, loved him. We just wanted different things and got to different stages in our lives, and it couldn't work anymore. We both felt bad, but we ended things amicably. I truly hope he's found happiness in his life and is with a woman who loves and appreciates all his wonderful qualities.

Another great love was a man I met when I was 18. He was my best friend for several years after we broke up. Part of why he was a great love. We loved each other even after we broke up. We looked out for each other, kept each other sane and from making huge mistakes with dating. We talked about everything. He was the first person outside my family to find out I was pregnant. He was so excited for me. Unfortunately, our friendship ended when our respective spouses found out that our very solid friendship started out with us dating and sleeping together. They were not happy, and both insisted we end the friendship. Although it was painful, we did what we felt we needed to do out of respect for our spouses. They deserved to know they could trust us, and we both could see how they might feel they couldn't in those circumstances.

The greatest love of my life, though, was a indeed a very tragic story. OK, not really, but it really does kind of suck. He's a sweet, really incredible guy I met when I was 19, and we've been friends for all these years, with an on-off relationship. Yes, it was off during the years of my marriage. We love (yes, I used present tense) each other so much it's just unbelievable. But, we want such different things in our lives, and can't seem to compromise. This is a man that I feel so safe, so secure with, that I felt comfortable telling him things about my marriage that I never even told my parents. He has truly, even more so than the other, been my best friend. He listens, makes me laugh, makes me feel sexy and beautiful and loved. But we're just so different. I live in a small town and love it; he wants to be in the big city. I love my children and have them with me 24/7; he loves his son, I know, but he doesn't have anything to do with him except to pay child support and ensure that his son is taken care of should something happen to him. He says he's doing that because he loves his son and he believes it's best, but I don't agree. I don't fault him; I just have a different opinion, and this is a bone of contention between us. It's very disconcerting to love someone, and yet you still can't make the damn relationship work. It also makes it hard to stay friends. That whole thing about once you say I love you, the friendship never stays the same, is very, very true. Our friendship has never been the same since we took that destined step.

Which brings me to my point...I think. Love makes us so vulnerable; puts us in a position of insecurity, doubt, and reservation, and yet at the same time makes us more powerful, safe, secure, and happy than anything else. It can hurt, and end badly, and yet we still search for it, seek it out endlessly, hoping for that happy finale. Why? Is it because we enjoy being vulnerable, being open to hurt and pain? Or is because we are so desperate to have that happy power, that security that we'll continue to risk the hurt and pain until we find it? I'd like to think it's the latter, but some of the relationships and couples I've seen make me think the former might really be the truth.

And while I'm on the subject, let's talk about the other love: who the hell is anyone to say someone is wrong for who they love? I get so sick of people who want to criticize gay and lesbian couples, and deny them the same rights as any straight person. I happen to have a very close family member who is gay, and I see no reason why he should be treated any differently. What the hell difference does it make if he loves a man instead of a woman? If he's happy, and the man he's with loves him and treats him with respect, love, and dignity, what the f*ck is the difference? I hear people say that allowing gay marriage will undermine marriage between a man and a woman. Can I tell you a secret? I was married to a man, and let me tell you, he undermined our marriage all on his own. The two lesbians five houses down or the gay guys three miles north of us didn't have a damn thing to do with it. I say if someone makes you happy, then it doesn't matter what their gender is, they make you happy. Life is too short to try to conform. Take your happiness, and your love, where you can find it. A lot of the time, love only happens once. Why on earth would you want to pass it up just in case there's something more "acceptable" and "normal" down the road? Who defines "normal"? Certainly no one I want defining it.

It's late, and I have work tomorrow. I think I'm off to bed, to dream of being vulnerable in love once more. And to contemplate once again just what lengths I would go to for love of my children and others that I love.

September 26, 2007

A day without problems would be...a miracle

There are days when I love my life, adore just everything about it. Then there are days when I feel like everything and everyone is out to get me. Today is somewhere in between, I suppose.

I currently have satellite service with an unnamed DISH provider. I am extremely displeased with their service: the signal goes out if you breathe too deeply, and they consistently charge me for a past due balance that does not exist. Here's the best part though: When asked to explain how I owe this alleged past due balance, they tell me about the money they owe me!

Last week, we had a very, very nasty storm rage through the area during the night hours. Now, Florida storms can be bad anytime, but they are much more intimidating and problematic at night, when you can't see a tornado coming if one should form, which they did that night. Needless to say, I lost my signal. There were tornadoes nearby, and I knew nothing about them because I had no television. The storm was so ferocious that I couldn't even get a radio station on the stereo. My parents down the street still had cable though.

So, I decide I've had enough of DISH provider, and I'm going to get cable. I'd already started checking into it, but that made my decision. The local cable company, BRIGHT HOUSE people that they are, claimed they needed to do a survey to determine if they could service my house. OK. My house is brand new, so I can understand this. This process took more than 2 weeks, however. And in the end, they say they can't service my house. I'm in the middle of my block, surrounded by houses that can or are fully capable of getting cable, and apparently, somehow, I'm the ONLY house on the block that can't get cable.

I'm thoroughly disgusted. The only option left to me was to find out what another provider could do. So I called a DIRECT satellite provider, which a co-worker of mine has and swears by. They insist that their signal is very good, and that I will rarely lose it. Of course, they're paid to say that, just like I'm paid to say my company is the best. But, I get more channels with them than I do with the idiots I have now, for the same price, so I figure what can it really hurt right? I mean, if the service sucks, I guess one sucky service is the same as the next right?

The biggest problem I have with all of this, though, is this: customer service. Almost 12 years ago, when I started working, I worked in retail sales. The first thing we were taught is always smile. Never argue with the customer, no matter what. If you must argue, argue politely, with a smile on your face, and don't sound like you're arguing. The people I have dealt with, with the exception of the DIRECT people, have been rude, argumentative, harsh, impatient, and clearly annoyed by the fact that I have simple questions I want answered. Now, I won't lie to you: I work in a job where I deal with customers, and yes, they do annoy me. You'll see, in the future, on my blog, me complain about them. But I never complain to them, I never let on that I'm annoyed, my voice is always perky, polite, happy, and helpful, no matter what they say to me, no matter how stupid, rude, arrogant, annoying, or whiny they may be.

I know I can't be the only one who's noticed that customer service seems to have deteriorated in recent years. It seems like no matter where you go, who you call, or what you need, the people you have to deal with are impatient, rude, or bored. Or....ohhh...the one I really love: the one who makes a mistake and then refuses to admit they messed up. The BRIGHT people did that one: she tried to tell me on the 25th that they came out on the 26th. Not that they were coming out, but that they DID come out. HUH? I say to her: You can predict the future? She says: What? I say: The 26th is tomorrow. If you're telling me they came out on the 26th, then you can predict the future. She says that's not what she said, but I heard her say it. She keeps coming up with different things she claims to have said, and each time I shoot down her excuse, she comes up with yet another. Wouldn't it just be easier to say: Oops, I messed up. I'm sorry. ? I guess not.

I'm just disgusted with society in general right now. It really seems as though we've stopped caring about our fellow humans, and only care about ourselves. We only seem to care about not looking bad, and how long until our shift is over so we can get back to our lives. Or how to get the cute guy we saw in the store, or whatever shallow concern is obssessing our minds lately. Is obssessing a word, or did I just make that up? I don't know. I don't care...hey, look at that. One simple statement, and I'm just like everyone else.

No poem tonight. I couldn't find one that I'd already written that fit, and I just don't have the energy right now to come up with something new. Tomorrow night, I'll have one. Maybe a love one...maybe I'll write about love. We'll see.

Stay tuned. :)

September 25, 2007

Childhood revisited...through another's eyes

Standing on the brink
Of a new and wondrous adventure
You look back at me
Excited fear in your eyes
Holding onto my hand, fingertips to fingertips
On the very verge of letting go
I give you a trembling, encouraging smile
Hiding my breaking heart
I don't want to let you go
Even though I have no choice
You do not belong to me alone
Though, deep down, I wish you did
I wish you could be my own little angel
That I could hold you safe from harm
But that just isn't the way it works
I can't hold you close and protect you forever
So off into the world I'll send you
To watch you grown and learn
To see you move away from me
Become the man you're meant to be

My oldest son is 6 years old. He'll be seven in a few months, but I refuse to think about that right now. :) He's in first grade, which is a very different first grade than the one I was in. We live in Florida, which is a state that has implemented the stupidest system for determining how much a child has learned. But, that's another story.
My point, and as others have said, I do have one, is that my child is in school, and he brought home his interim report today. My son is very, very intelligent. I know, I'm his mother, and I'm prejudiced, but in all seriousness, and not being a braggart, my son really is incredibly smart. He has the ability to do so much with his brain. His downfall, which is also his greatest gift, is his imagination and his energy. He gets the imagination from me, so I am (partly) to blame for this. He cannot sit still. On those rare occasions when he can be still, he drifts off to a world of his own design, where no one else can join him. This makes for some very poor conduct grades come interim report time. He got his interim report today: A's & B's and nothing else for his academics, which I'm so proud of I could bust. But all N's for behavior. This does not make me happy. He could be on the A/B Honor Roll if he could just behave. My biggest problem is: How do you tell a child to stop using his imagination and to contain his energy at school without stifling that same creativity and turning him into a lethargic lump? It seems like a catch-22: If I tell him to stop, he'll take it so literally that he'll stop using it period, but if I don't tell him to stop, he'll get in trouble all the time. It's frustrating, and yet at the same time, I have to be proud, too, because so many people these days seem to lack imagination and energy. The energy to run and play, the energy to chase their dreams and hopes and wishes. The imagination to come up with creative, outside-the-box solutions to world problems as well as personal everyday problems, to dream and dream big, to inspire, create, and grow.

My other son has the same imagination and energy, but those will not be his downfall. His downfall is, without a doubt, his unequivocal stubbornness. He gets an idea, a thought, an opinion and just will not back down. If he thinks he's right, that's the end of it. He won't hear otherwise. When he wants to do something, he will never stop trying, and if he's not allowed to do it, he will never stop trying to think up ways around that. Isn't it amazing how something so silly can be such a double-edged sword? It can be your best trait or your worst.

I get frustrated with both of them, for those things mentioned above. I don't know how to get through to them, to get them to see that they must compromise, between where they are now and the complete opposite. My mother will laugh and remind me that I was this way as a child, too. When I deny this, and I do, she points out specific instances that I have blocked somewhere behind the pain of childbirth and where I left my car keys when I got home tonight. Oh, yeah, I forgot about those. But still, my children are supposed to be better than I was, right? No, my mother says. I have that old axiom wrong: I'm supposed to want better for them, not expect them to be better than I was. Damn. Can't we re-write it?

But, as mothers do, she made me think. And when I look back on my childhood, I see those same traits that are so blocking me in my sons, blocking my parents with me. And I see how I turned out, which if I do say so myself, is not half-bad, thank you very much. So, I guess it can't be too bad, right?

When I look back like this, though, I see other things as well. I see dreams that fell by the wayside as I grew and changed and experienced life. Reality has a way of tearing dreams to shreds, sometimes, and others, we just are lazy and decide not to hold the tender threads of those dreams together. And when you pick the tatters up later, it's impossible to tell which was the case. Some dreams are destroyed with no hope of revival, such as the dream of having only one marriage that lasts my whole life through. Divorce tends to run over, shred and burn that dream while it's still singing it's love theme. Others can be revived, with a little CPR and TLC. And then there are the ones that didn't fall away, that are still present, still being dreamt, but you just forgot you have to work at.

My still alive dream is to be a published writer someday (no, a blog doesn't count. Unfortunately.) I write poetry, novels, short stories, whatever mood strikes me. I've never given up this dream, never stopped thinking of it, but I've stopped working at it. I write my poetry, and post it on a website and forget about it. I write my stories and novels....whenever I'm bored and think about it. I get tons of ideas, all of which I duly note...and then promptly forget about. In the hustle and bustle of school, work, homework, dinner, baths, bedtime stories and childhood illnesses, I tell myself that I just don't have time, too busy, have more important things to do. But really, is there anything more important than a dream? Think about it: Food sustains the body, love the heart, but what sustains the soul? Dreams. Without a dream, your soul will starve. If your soul is starved and slowly dying, what will happen to the heart and body? I can't help but think it wouldn't be good things. So, I think everyone needs a dream.

And I would not have thought of this if it were not for my child and his unacceptable behavior. It's interesting how something as mundane as a school interim report can send you on a journey through your memories and dreams, to help you find that place where your soul resides. Not just your soul, but your childhood self, to remind you who you used to be, before children, work, responsibilities and life itself took over and turned you into an adult while your back was turned to put away your barbie doll.

September 24, 2007

Seeing is Believing

Who do you believe
When everyone is telling lies
What do you have faith in
When all you hear are half-truths
Everywhere you look
You see people hating others
Slinging insults, throwing slurs
All based on your skin or who you love
Yet they ask you to believe
They're doing what they should
Because what they have faith in
Would want them to
You're expected to believe
In something great and good
Even though everywhere around you
Evil and horror fester and grow
They want you to agree
There's magic in the air
And that you can close your eyes
And change your life
So, I ask again
Who do you believe in
What do you have faith in
Do you believe at all

What a note to start my blog on, right? LOL. I'm just having one of those periods of time where I'm feeling very pessimistic and down. It seems like when things don't go right, it happens all at once. And unfortunately, I just don't have a whole lot of faith in people right at this moment.

There are those people that you know you can always count on. My parents are two of those people. My parents give everything they can to me and my kids, and often, including just today, give what they don't have for my children and I.

But then, there are those people that you should be able to count on, and just can't. My ex-husband is the epitome of this. He is the father of my two children, and does not one damn thing for them. Doesn't visit, doesn't call, doesn't pay the child support he was ordered to pay. I gave the man a break, and let him start fresh with a clean slate even though he should have owed me several months of back support. I've bent over backwards giving him chance upon chance to change, to start paying, but he just ignores all this. He thinks this is nothing more than a big game.

Sometimes I feel that I'm the only person who understands what it means to be a parent these days. I sacrifice every day to ensure that my children have what they need. I wear clothes that are five, six, or more years old, with holes in the ass of my jeans, and never get to go out, to be able to provide the things my children need. To me, this is being a mother: your children come first, regardless of what price you personally must pay.

But because my ex doesn't pay child support, I find myself in situations such as: going to the World's Fair at my child's school, I had to tell them no, they couldn't have a balloon that cost fifty cents because I couldn't afford it. Am I the only one who knows what it feels like to watch your child's face crumple with utter disappointment over something that should be so simple and easy to give them?

My ex doesn't understand this. He's never had to do this. Hell, he's so fucking heartless and self-centered that it probably wouldn't affect him anyway. And that pisses me off more than the rest. That my heart is on the outside of my body since the day my first child was born: everything I see, hear, think or feel affects me deeply. I cry at any hint of a child being hurt or suffering, for anything. And yet my ex can stand there and feel nothing when it's his own child. How do you turn your feelings off like that? How do you turn off the love that should be so natural, so effortless, so impossible to not feel?

It's not just my ex...there are thousands of other people out there that do the same thing. And that's what bothers me. How do all these people manage to just shut it all off? People complain about the way the world is today: this is why it's like this. Because everyone just turns off their feelings, and ignore the wars, the child abuse, the hunger, the loneliness, the natural resources that are so rapidly disappearing. They just decide that if they don't like something, or it bothers them, they'll just turn off their emotions and pretend it doesn't exist, and I guess that's just supposed to make everything better.

I find it very difficult to believe in much of anything anymore. You can't believe in other people, because except for the very rare few, they will only let you down. You can't believe in a higher power, because you can't see anything to indicate they exist. Plenty of us pray in desperation, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. And most of the ones who do that, do it for exactly the reason I said: desperation. They don't pray to try to solve the world's problems, they pray when their personal problem grows so great, and they are so desperate for relief or a solution, that they'll do anything, and why not pray? It's as good as anything else, right?

I'm just disgusted with the world tonight. It's not a good place to be right now. And no one cares enough to try to change it.