Thank you so much to Knocked Over By A Feather for nominating this blog for the Liebster Award!
I am flattered to have been nominated. I still feel new to this blogging community and it’s nice to be included. Reportedly, this award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers that another blogger feels should get some recognition.
There are 4 steps to receiving this award.
- List 11 things about yourself.
- Answer your nominator’s 11 questions.
- Choose up to 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers and ask them your own questions.
- Inform your nominees of their award nominations.
I routinely break blog rules. For example, my blog is not about one topic (except me) and I tend to follow blogs I enjoy even if the writer seems (on paper) to have nothing in common with me. That said, I’m going to take some liberties with the required steps because I’m finding them very difficult for me to follow.
Writing facts about myself is hard because I’m in the process of rediscovery and rebuilding, so I’ll list just a few.
1. I have a really hard time writing facts about myself — duh.
2. I do not have a favorite song.
3. I am more comfortable doing public speaking than I am speaking one-on-one.
4. I once tried to be Miss America.
5. I know how to set a fence post.
6. I could live the remainder of my days without eating ice cream or chocolate.
My Answers to questions from Knocked Over By A Feather.
1. Fact or fiction?
- It’s a fine line.
2.What is your favorite animal and why?
- I like dogs. They are loyal and responsive.
3. Do you think being rich would make you happy?
- No, but it would alleviate much stress, and that would be a start.
4. Are you bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning, or grumpasauras rex?
- I am grumpy, but only if my sole purpose for getting up is to attend to things I don’t feel like doing. Also, I never get enough sleep.
5. What is your favorite dessert?
- I can live without dessert, but when I have it, it is cheesecake.
6. What is your favorite thing about blogging?
- I am always amazed that people read it, especially people from around the world. That is so cool.
7. Do you like reality TV shows?
- Depends on the type. I like the DIY type shows because they help me in my home repairs. The only entertainment competition show that I can watch (only parts of) is American Idol. I dislike singers trying to out-sing each other in head to head competition on stage at the same time, so the newer shows irk me. They all irk me, actually. The dating shows, no. Most of the other types of shows merely showcase high maintenance (almost drag queen levels of made up) women behaving badly — so I can’t stand them. Plus, you know, like, I really thought that, you know, it was going to happen, but you know, when I see him and her there I don’t know what to think . . . you know?
8. If you could have lunch with one famous person, dead or alive, who would it be?
- I can’t answer this one. I can’t commit.
9. What is your favorite breakfast cereal?
- I never eat cereal.
10. Do you believe that love is all we need?
11. Chocolate or vanilla? Possibly strawberry?
- Chocolate, if I have to choose.
Okay, I’ve had some difficulty with the rules, as is obvious. I don’t know how to choose 11 blogs with relatively few followers because I don’t look at the number of followers of the blogs I read, I just read them (also, unless the number of followers is on the home page, I don’t know how to find out). Admittedly, I’m not as good as I’d like to be in keeping track of blogs since I read so many different kinds. Choosing them started to overwhelm me. (Sounds lame, but for some reason this proved to be so hard for me.) And so I will nominate only one blog, with the proviso that I hope she feels no obligation to accept the award’s rules because she has a lot going on and I don’t want to give her any more stress.
I Won’t Take It — This is a blog I discovered recently about a woman going through some tough times. I think she could use judgment-free support.
I will not ask her any questions. I can’t really explain why, except that when person is going through emotional turmoil, even the simplest of questions can cause anxiety. (Don’t ask me how I know.) I just want to give I Won’t Take It a round of applause and build her support network, without more.
Just Me With . . . a Liebster Award.
Well, I did it. I prepared Thanksgiving dinner in my own house for my parents. It was just the three of us. The children were with their father.
Since my marriage ended years ago it has been our practice for the children to be with my ex-husband for Thanksgiving and with me for Christmas. See, All I Want For Christmas is My Kids. So, I’ve been kid-less for many Thanksgivings. I’ve spent a couple of Thanksgivings with my best friend and her large, extended, ethnic family. They are very nice and welcoming and I had a good enough time, but it started to feel weird being alone with someone else’s family. Two years ago I did absolutely nothing (I think, I can’t remember). Last year I went out for Thanksgiving dinner with my parents. We didn’t go to a really nice or fancy restaurant, more like a diner, a nice diner, but a diner, nonetheless. The food was okay, but I found the whole scenario depressing. There were a lot of older people, elderly people. It smacked of a refuge for souls who had no where else to go.
So this year, I decided to stay home and cook dinner at my own damn house. I decided this on Monday, declining my mother’s offer to have Thanksgiving at their house. That can be (has been) depressing as well, going “home” for Thanksgiving, completely alone, feeling like a grown child, the only child who never moved away (which I count is a personal failure), knowing my sisters are with their families at their homes, knowing that my children are with my ex-husband’s wife’s family. Just thinking about going to my parents for Thanksgiving felt like it was one small step above being the middle-aged single man living in his parents’ basement.
No, I have a home, I reasoned, and even though the children wouldn’t be there, I decided that I would serve Thanksgiving dinner to my parents. Plus, it’ll give them a break.
I’ve hosted Thanksgiving dinner before, but that was in The Big House (formerly the marital home) for my (now Ex) in-laws. This was different. This is my home, alone (except for the bank). My little home that gets very few visitors, despite its extreme makeover. My little home to which some of my kids are too embarrassed to bring their wealthy friends. My little home which has a very nice, slammin’ new kitchen.
So I cooked, for me, for my parents. Cooking does not give me any joy. See Confessions of a Skinny Mom. Still, it was so much less awkward than being at the restaurant. My Mom and Dad ate my food; they were appreciative, and it was good. And though my long-married parents have a tendency to bicker (huge understatement), today they did not. I can’t help to think that it was the locale of the dinner. Had they been at their own home, they would have fought.
In some ways it was my first grown up Thanksgiving, because it was my home, and more importantly, my decision, as opposed to just figuring out how to pass the time while the kids are gone or making sure my parents have somewhere to eat (or, in the old days, doing time with the in-laws). Now I’ve christened my house as our family home. It only took three years.
Weird that my first Thanksgiving dinner in my own house did not include my children, but at least they know that holidays can happen here in our new
Just Me With . . . leftover Turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and something crossed on my bucket list that I didn’t even know was there.
I have a theory. Some tasks will take as much or as little time as you put aside to do them. I apply this theory to two things: packing for a move and Holiday shopping.
Packing for a Move
The Early Packer:
If a person is planning a move, he or she can start packing six months before. When the move date arrives, packing will be almost complete, boxes will be labeled and stacked and moving will commence. You’ll get out on the date you are supposed to, you’ll move in on the date you’re allowed to.
The Last Minute Move:
Dealing with the same move out date, a person can start three weeks, 2 weeks or days before and the move will be the same. You’ll get out, you’ll get in. It might not be as pretty, might add serious stress, but if you have to get out by a certain date, you have to get out by a certain date. Stuff will get thrown on a truck, in your car, in the trash, on the curb, but you’ll be out. And when you arrive at the new digs you get to open boxes and bags and see what you actually brought with you.
In either scenario, there are always things that you simply cannot pack too early — the everyday items you need to function. Consequently, some last-minute packing is inevitable. Yes, plan and organize. Throw stuff out so you have less to pack and move, but don’t force a six month packing plan, unless you actually enjoy packing and want to pack for six months. If not, it’ll get done, because it has to. You won’t have the luxury of making agonizing decisions about what to keep, what to move. You won’t live with boxes before you move and after you move. You won’t have time to purchase endless containers and organizing materials. You’ll probably have a lot less to organize and you may take less crap with you. Of course, you may also discover that you threw a bunch of trash into a box and moved it, but you will have still moved.
The Early Shopper:
We all know someone who gets all their shopping done by Thanksgiving and they seem so smug and relaxed. Often, we see or hear of that same person shopping in December, catching a sale, exchanging one gift for another for a better deal or because the recipient bought it for him/herself before Christmas. My point is that starting early doesn’t necessarily mean you are done.
Starting early does mean you’ll likely shop longer. If you start in August, you will shop from August to December 24th. Even if you think you’re finished, there will be a sale, or you’ll find something perfect for someone or you’ll remember someone you should buy a gift for, or you’ll shop for yourself, etc. So you’ll still be shopping one way or another until December 24th. It that’s your thing, go for it. But the retail establishments know that the sooner you start, the more you buy, this is why Black Friday sales now start before Thanksgiving and stores open at midnight. Cha-Ching!!
The “Last Minute” Shopper:
If you start the second week of December, it’ll still be done by December 24th. It has to, so why stretch it out? Sales and mark downs? Guess what, except for the ridiculous black Friday sale items you may have trouble finding and may not need, the “Holiday” sales go on right up to and often after Christmas day. If you are indeed looking for that perfect gift that you think may be gone if you wait too long? Well go buy it, but don’t spend six months shopping for it, unless that’s your thing.
Christmas will come, whether you are ready or not.
So why spend months spending?
Why not just get what you got?
Am I preaching procrastination?
Maybe. I’ll get back to you later, heh heh heh. I’m not a procrastinator by nature on other things. I was never the type of student to pull an all-nighter, I believe in daily preparedness. However, I don’t want to pack for six months the next time I move or travel. I don’t want to shop for six months.
It’s not so much as waiting until the last minute; rather, it’s choosing the best time to start and establishing a limited time frame in which to accomplish the tasks at hand. (That sounds better, no?)
This is where I think all those Hoarders and Clean House type shows have it together. They give people three days to get it all done. What do you think would happen if you gave those people six months to clean their houses? The clean up crew would come back every day for six months waiting for the home owner to decide whether the plastic flowers she received as a gift in 1981 have a place in her home. No, sometimes things just have to get done. Make a decision. Done.
Starting early isn’t always the answer.
I probably won’t begin Christmas shopping until December 1st. In the meantime I can do some preliminary planning, make lists, budget, and I’ll figure out the last day I can order something online for it to arrive on time without paying extra shipping.
Then I will shop. No, I will buy. I won’t have the luxury to shop. I’m traveling for Christmas so I’ll have to be finished by December 21st anyway. It’s like a move out date.
It’ll get done. It has to.
I’m okay with that.
Just Me With . . . a strategy deeply rooted in procrastination and efficiency.
Caveat: Do not apply this theory to academics or work or personal life. It could result in — bad things.
Phew! I actually started this in 2011 but I got busy with the holidays and never finished. Ha!
Other holiday related posts:
Blowing Off the Holidays — Just say no.
Keeping It Simple At Christmas — People don’t always need the bells and whistles.
The Annual Christmas Party — At Least I Wasn’t Insulted This Year — Unfortunate comment.
All I Want for Christmas is My Kids — Splitting the babies after divorce.
A Good Neighbor, An Accidental Friend, and a Christmas Surprise — You never know the impact people have on each other.
Craigslist Angels — One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure — Giving Away Christmas Decorations Can Be A Very Good Thing.
My First Grown Up Thanksgiving — Kind Of — Thanksgiving at my house, without my kids.
I’m getting my house painted this week. I know I’ve written about painting it myself, describing how That Hoarders Smell inside the house was so bad that it engulfed me even while I was painting outside. So yeah, I painted the house already.
But I never finished.
I painted the front under the porch. Then I stood on the porch roof to paint the second floor. And, along with my nephew, I perched on scaffolding temporarily left by another contractor as I prepped, primed and painted the back of the house.
That left the sides, where the paint was peeling so badly that barely brushing by it caused a snow flurry of dirty paint flakes, some big, some small, some lead-based, some not.
So although usually one preps, primes and paints from the top down, I started from the bottom up, reasoning that since we were about to move into this house I didn’t want the children to be exposed to this peeling paint at eye level. The upper floors weren’t peeling or flaking as badly as the lower level and at least no one would be touching it. So, for safety’s sake I tackled the first floor. Well, safety and the fact that I could reach the lower level and paint it myself without scaffolding or big ladders that I didn’t own.
The top side sections, however, have not been prepped, primed, or painted.
It’s tacky. It’s been this way for over two years.
I had every intention of painting the rest of the house myself. A contractor friend even lent me some scaffolding and we put it up on one side of the house. Then, well, stuff happened, and I changed and eventually went off my meds, which gave me vertigo, poor equilibrium, extreme dizziness, and severe sensitivity to light. I couldn’t even think about doing it then. My friend eventually took his scaffolding back, unused.
Since then I have struggled with my half-painted house. I struggled to find the energy to paint my house, struggled to find the motivation and money, struggled to conquer my newly developed fear of heights, that I will fall and lay broken and bleeding in my yard —and no one will know.
And, I lost my Mojo. I’d done so much work on this little Hoarders house. I’d tried to make it nice. I did make it nice. But recently I’ve been feeling that no matter what I do to this house, which sits on a busy street and backs up onto the perimeter of an poor neighborhood, it will always be compared to the much larger marital home situated in a park-like setting. I don’t miss that home at all, and selling that home was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made — that decision may be a subject of another post — but I don’t love where we are now, I tried . . .
- I installed a stone patio and fire-pit for us to enjoy — that no one uses.
- I partially finished the basement so that we’d have a place for the drums and could jam — but no one does.
- I made a music room for lessons for students that are fewer and fewer in number each year.
- I planted shrubs to give us some privacy — that died.
- I bought a shed to house bicycles — that nobody rides.
But. . . I never finished painting the house. Perhaps part of me became comfortable with my half painted house. Maybe it was some sort of admission of defeat. The move been an adjustment, a difficult adjustment. I’m not going pretend otherwise — anymore.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of my accomplishments with respect to this home and my family. I’m happy that we have a roof over our heads and that the kids didn’t have to change schools — which was the reason why I bought the little hoarders home in the first place. And I know things could be a lot worse, and that things aren’t really that bad, or really bad at all.
Still, the unfinished paint job screams that there are still struggles in this home.
Anyone looking at it would ask,
“Cute house. But when is she going to finish painting it?”
Well, the answer is “Now.” I’m borrowing from Peter to pay Paul to pay some Painters that gave me a good deal because one of my “Friends Without Benefits” told them to.
I’m waving the white flag in surrender. I will not finish painting the house myself. But I will not leave it partially unpainted for another year as a shrine to my failure to renovate our way into happiness — or the land of denial. I’ve got to think of resale value and protect my investment. So, I’ve called in the professionals.
It is what it is. And it has to get done. At least it won’t look tacky anymore.
“Maybe it will lift my spirits,” I thought, as I’ve been feeling a bit blue lately.
And then, the universe threw me a bone.
The painters here are very nice guys. Just now one of them stopped me and said,
“I don’t want you to get a big head or anything, but I gotta tell you . . . you look just like Halle Berry. Hasn’t anyone ever told you that? Mike (the other painter) said it yesterday, too. I’m a movie buff, so I would know.”
I have to say, I’m starting to feel a lot better about hiring these guys to paint my house. A lot better.
Just Me With . . . a paint job in progress, in butter cream with hunter green trim, done expertly by — my new best friends.
Postscript: The painting is finished. The house looks great, it really does, and just in time for Winter.
Sadly, one of my kids informed me that her friends told her that they aren’t allowed to come to our neighborhood, for fear they might get mugged.
I’ve written previously about an encounter with Marla, the deli clerk, who had asked me point-blank why I got divorced. “Why Did You Get Divorced? The Dreaded Question.
I saw Marla again over the weekend. I was alone, the store wasn’t busy, so we had time to talk.
Marla, an older woman, is petite in stature, slim in girth. She manages to look quite stylish in her grocery store uniform, which is a brightly colored tee-shirt, smock and visor. Her hair is curly, worn pulled back as required, but she always has wavy tendrils hanging down and framing her face, and she sports side bangs. I’ve never seen her without full make-up on her olive skin, including heavy eyeliner and blue eye shadow, and she wears big dangly or hoop earrings.
I felt differently about chatting with Marla this time, because this time she didn’t ask about the divorce. She asked about me.
She wondered what I do for myself, asking whether I’ve been getting out, having any fun, doing something other than taking care of all the children.
Again she launched into a series of compliments, saying that I’m so beautiful and have a great smile and I’m so nice, that I work so hard for all my kids. She commented on how difficult parenting is, queried whether my ex-husband gives me a break, noted that men don’t want independent women like us, etc. She said, not to worry, all things come around.
Then Marla said, pointedly — really, she actually pointed at me with a crooked finger,
“You’re gonna have it all. Mark my words. This Gypsy Lady says you’re gonna have it all!”
Whoa, she’s a Gypsy?
Now that’s a whole different take on things.
Just Me with some good fortune coming my way, because the Gypsy Lady told me so.
I live in a strange neighborhood. I engage in running narratives about my neighbors stemming from my over-active imagination and my lack of social life coupled with my tendency to snoop and their odd behavior.
Brian, let’s call him, is the man I sometimes refer to as Creepy Neighbor Number Two. For a long time I suspected that Creepy Neighbor One might be a serial killer, but I digress . . .
Brian is more odd than creepy. I found it suspect that he and his wife, let’s call her Nancy, had a baby that we rarely saw, nor did we see evidence of said baby. On the couple of times when I saw either Brian or Nancy with the baby, they didn’t seem to know what to do with him. On one very cold day they had the baby in the stroller at the grocery store. He had on a hat and jacket, but nothing on his feet. Nothing at all. I hoped they’d get him home soon. Then other times, for weeks at a time, the couple would hold weekly yard sales, selling antiques, and though both were home, the baby was not.
When I was in the midst of exterior renovations and landscaping, Brian used to walk behind my home at least once a day, say hello and sometimes chat. He was painfully thin, with short-cropped hair, had bad knees and sometimes walked with a cane. Brian was always friendly and gregarious. I admit I’d go in the house when I saw him out and about. He made me uncomfortable.
But then, he was gone.
After Brian dropped off the face of the earth, I’d seen his wife Nancy from time to time, but not the baby. One fine afternoon she was walking a seriously drunk and belligerent friend home. On another occasion my kids witnessed her having a heated argument with a guy on a bicycle in the alley behind my house. My kids thought it was a drug deal gone wrong. Clearly, they’ve inherited their mother’s tendency to fill in the blanks. The last time I saw Nancy was at a convenience store — she didn’t acknowledge me and was very jumpy and very, very thin.
Drugs, it had to be drugs. Plus, she had no baby with her.
Then in the Spring Brian reappeared in the neighborhood after having been gone for at least a year. His appearance had changed. At first I didn’t recognize him. His hair is much longer and he’s put on a few pounds. He seemed healthier, had no cane and often was on a bicycle.
Plus, he’d taken to going shirtless — most of the time. He is not cut. I mean, on a beach or in his yard this would have been fine, but every day walking or biking around the neighborhood? No.
On Friday evening Brian knocked on my door and invited me to his home for Saturday night. He wanted to cook me dinner.
“Hi Diane. How are you?”
“Good, It’s Roxanne.”
“Oh all this time I thought it was Diane.”
“Well, I have the house fixed up and I wondered if you wanted to come over for dinner tomorrow night, I’ll cook for you.”
“Oh wow, tomorrow? I don’t think so, not tomorrow.” I was caught off guard.
Awkward silence, which I then felt compelled to fill, bad Roxanne, bad Roxanne.
“I’ve had a rough week,” and after another awkward pause, “and plus I have plans with friends that may or may not happen.”
“Oh, well, if you’d like to come another time, just let me know.”
“Okay, I’m glad you’ve got the house together.”
“Yes, well, it’s coming along.”
“Okay, well, see you later.”
Ouch, right? Why didn’t I say yes? Did I actually have plans?
Well, I had plans with old college friends I rarely see that were never confirmed so no, no real plans. It is true that I’d had a hellish week and didn’t want to have dinner with him — or anyone else.
But let me paint a picture. Three of my kids were standing or milling about behind me and heard the whole conversation. I was mortified. He saw that the kids were there and asked me out anyway. The invitation did not include the children. It was painfully awkward. Plus, the kids knew that I had been avoiding this guy and that while I don’t think he’s a bad or menacing guy, I do think he’s strange. If I’d said yes, they would know either that I was lying about not liking him all along, or that I agreed to have a date with him out of pity. Not good either way.
To be fair, I’ll admit that I knew the invitation would be forthcoming. He’d told me weeks earlier that once he got his house fixed up (his wife had trashed it) he would have me over for dinner and tell me all of the horrific things that have happened to him. In true overly polite and dating challenged Roxanne fashion, I’d said, “Sure,” thinking, hoping it would never happen.
Should it ever become a reality, I had decided that I would not accept his dinner invitation.
When Brian made a followup nonspecific dinner suggestion more recently I’d given him the classic girl response,
He had not been dissuaded, however, and he had showed up at my door.
This time, I just had to say, “No.”
Though I’m single and I need more purely social interaction with adults, I don’t have to date the guys that walk by my house, just because they ask.
Plus, he’d previously turned me off by saying stupid things, like;
“We should get together sometime. Wait, how old are you?”
Dude, no, seriously?
And repeating the same statements to me. “Did you know you can get free mulch?”
One week later: “Did you know you can get free mulch?”
Another week later: “Did you know you can get free mulch?”
And he’d stopped by to chat on one of his walks, reeking of liquor. He’d done the same with the workers at my house, reeking of liquor. Though this was before the disappearance.
More recently he knocked on the door and asked to borrow DVDs from my son, though we had never had a previous conversation about sharing movies.
Just the other day he waved at my house even though no one was outside.
He’s just not quite right.
Call me shallow, but these are red flags to me.
People can get down on their luck, I know I am. But my instincts told me to say no.
And let me add more color and texture to the picture I’ve painted. The last time I had a conversation with Brian he confirmed some of my suspicions, telling me that his estranged wife is indeed a drug addict– a coke-head actually, and she’s crazy, that his child is in foster care (hence no evidence of a baby), that he’d been in prison for the last year for trespassing on his own property. Ahhh this is why he’s been, as the lawyers at the firm used to say, “out-of-pocket.” But for trespassing? Really? Now, given my experience with my own War of The Roses situation, I know that absent physical abuse or a restraining order one cannot be arrested for being on a property that one owns jointly with a spouse. So it must have been something else, or there was indeed a restraining order against him, which opens another can of worms. Brian also told me he used to make a lot of money in computers but is now unemployed and that Nancy and her mother had scammed him out of everything he had, including his unemployment checks. He also offered that he had recently called the police to have his wife removed from the house when she showed up uninvited. This information did not make me want to pass a pleasant evening at his home.
What if his drug addict wife showed up again?
Yet, even given all that, Brian seems like an “okay” guy, and it sounds like he’s trying to get his life together. If he has an addiction of some sort, it’s always a good sign when a person puts on weight. Truthfully, I’d been worried about the baby and was relieved to hear that the child has been removed and is in a safe, temporary home. But I didn’t want to hear any more of his stories, not over dinner alone at his house.
Maybe he needs someone to talk to and is reaching out, but he has always made me uncomfortable. Plus, I just wasn’t in the mood. Thanks to some of my own problems, I probably wouldn’t have dated any of People’s Sexiest Men Alive last weekend. So the usually shirtless Ex-Con didn’t have much of a chance.
I wanted to be alone, truly.
Still, when I refused him, he looked so sad I and I felt guilty. I hadn’t meant to hurt him.
It’s okay to say, no, though. It is. I don’t have to date the guys who walk behind my house unless I really want to. This I know. This, I’ve learned. See Not Digging the Landscaper Guy – Part I, Landscaper Guy and the Female Chandler Bing, Part II, The Landscaper Guy and The Phone Smarter Than Me – Part III and The Snowman.
Just Me With . . . no date on a Saturday night. And that’s okay.
Damn, this is an unusually long post that I apparently needed to write to convince myself that it was okay to say a very short word, “No.”
I had Another Encounter With The Ex-Con which confirmed my decision. Even the dog knew something wasn’t right.
I just finished a road trip with my five children. I know no one asked, but I thought I’d share what we listened to and watched on the ten hour drive home.
Piano Concerto No. 2
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Piano Concertos 1 & 3
3. “The Foundation” by The Zac Brown Band
Because you know I like my chicken fried . . .
4. Soundtrack to West Side Story
Can’t believe I almost forgot this one!
5. The Radio — remember that?
“Momma said, ma ma ma momma said . . . ”
7. Les Choristes — A beautiful French language Film about a music teacher for troubled boys in 1940’s France.
8. Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo — Comedic Japanese (manga) Anime.
(I don’t really understand Bobobo, but there was lots of discussion about nose hair.)
For the most part, each of the choices were approved and enjoyed by all of the tween and teen kids
. . . and myself.
Just Me With . . . an interesting collection . . . of children.
Yeah, I know, Father’s Day is over. But here’s a story about my Daddy.
When I was little my dad was a teacher, but at a residential school for delinquent youth. This meant that in addition to his classes he had to work night shifts at the school. When I was in kindergarten he worked from 1 to 9 pm. My mom was teaching during the day while my older sisters were in school. So it was Just Me With . . . my Daddy in the mornings before I went to afternoon kindergarten and he went to work.
One day my dad was fixing my lunch, which meant he was heating up a can of soup. He’d put the soup on the stove and went outside. My dad is not the kind of guy who sits still for very long. I think he was working in the yard or something.
But he forgot about the soup.
My five-year-old self saw the soup boiling over and ran outside,
Of course he didn’t come right away. But I persisted and screamed,
“Daddy, Daddy, come QUICK!”
I’d made him listen to me. He ran inside, turned the burner off and the crisis was averted. The house did not burn down. All was right with the world. I had saved the day.
He was so proud of me for making him listen. He was so pleased in fact that he took me out to the toy store and let me pick out a Teddy Bear.
Now, we were not a wealthy family. We got presents for Christmas and birthdays, I’m guessing picked out by my mom, and our parents provided us with what we needed, but “just because” presents were few and far between. Plus . . . I’m just going to say it, my Dad is, well, . . . frugal (the voices in my head are screaming CHEAP!!!!!). My Dad buying a gift for me when it was not a national holiday was a big deal. Even at five I knew that.
Most importantly, my Daddy made me feel like I saved the day. He was impressed with his baby girl and let everyone know it. It might not sound like much, but it must have meant a lot to him. He has retold this story countless times over the years. And to hear my Dad tell this story, mimicking my little girl voice — “Daddy, Daddy, Come Quick!!!” — is just the sweetest thing ever! Notably, he usually leaves out the part about buying me a Teddy Bear.
I had made him listen, and he made me feel important — and a little bit like a superhero.
That Teddy Bear was one of my most precious toys, she stayed with me for years to come. I credit my Dad with instilling in me the feeling that I matter in this world and that I can make a difference. It’s the little things.
And bonus, my older (evil) sisters were sooooo jealous that I got a present. Heh heh heh
Just Me With . . . a Dad who made me feel like I have the ability to save the world! [insert Superhero music]
I think I’m done. I’m done agreeing with the generalized small talk and factually inaccurate praise of the mere suggestion of the presence of my Ex-husband in our children’s lives — like he’s some kind of magic man.
People who know, know better.
An ex-neighbor dropped by yesterday. I hadn’t seen her in over a year. We don’t have much in common and she does not read people well. She’s had four husbands, yet when my husband up left me and the children and I was visibly devastated, dehydrated and malnourished, she went on and on about how we should stay together and that maybe there’s hope.
“I wish I’d tried harder. Don’t give up. Maybe he’ll come back. I hope you can work it out.”
That’s what she said to me. She said this to me, though she knew that my husband had, suddenly, cruelly, left me. Now that I’m thinking back, it is quite possible that this woman is a nut job.
She was one of the people I avoided back then. Some people say the wrong things. They can’t help it, they won’t change.
Yesterday, she dropped by unannounced to invite me to her mother’s memorial service. She arrived just as the kids were preparing to go on a dinner visit with their dad. Like before, she went on and on about how that’s so good that he sees them, that –the alternative in her mind — total abandonment — is so bad, and told me a story about how her daughter-in-law’s absentee father showed up on her wedding day and practically ruined it. So she reasoned that my situation is so much better. blah blah blah
I don’t recall asking her opinion at all.
I did not enjoy our one-sided conversation. There are always stories of the most horrendous parents, male and female, but if you set the bar at those folks, hey, everybody looks good. I have one good father and know many more. The fatherhood bar is high in my world, or actually, it’s where it needs to be, but I digress . . . Not only did this woman irk me, but she went on and on while there was a child within earshot. I wonder how it makes kids feel to hear an adult praise their father for merely seeing them? Completely clueless, the ex-neighbor didn’t notice when I tried to change the subject by talking about the children themselves, their accomplishments. I was being polite. Perhaps too polite.
“Bitch, you don’t know my life.” Is what I wanted to say.
I’m sorry folks, I don’t usually talk like that, but sometimes people piss me off.
In fact, I’m a polite sort –to a fault, really, I can make small talk and seem to agree to the most ridiculous statements for the sake of decent society. But sometimes, it seems, this gives a pass and an exaggerated sense of importance to people who don’t deserve it, as well as an acceptance of past, current and likely future bad behavior. And sometimes, it just makes me mad.
As we sat in my tiny living room, on a house on a busy street, in the neighborhood of “The Help” that I had to work my butt off to get the Hoarders smell out of , it seems that no matter what transpired and how well the children have adapted to and excelled in a difficult situation, the most important thing for her to discuss was the seemingly magical appearance of their father.
I call bullsh*t.
So now, instead of nodding politely, I’m going to try to opt out of the small talk that makes me blinding mad. I think it’s better that way, don’t you?
And before I get the “What about the kids?” speech, I’m talking about conversations between grown folks. Children are not invited.
From now on every time some random acquaintance inquires about the time my kids spend with their dad and says,
“Oh that’s good, he still sees them.“
My new response will be,
“Yeah, I hear there’s gonna be a parade.“
And then I will launch on full-out campaign, an attack, if you will, describing the awesomeness of my children in excruciating detail. And I will note that my elderly parents, even at their advanced age, rarely miss a concert and get to many sporting events each season — because they enjoy it and they are so proud . . . and the kids are . . . wait for it . . . AWESOME!
And then I will turn and leave, because, you know, I’ve got things to do. I will not talk about or allow discussion of the perceived importance of the (magical) father’s (mythical) encouragement of said real accomplishments by these awesome kids. His is not my banner to wave, or shoot at. As I said, I’ve got other things to do.
My point is this: It is presumptuous to make sweeping statements about the perceived importance of an absent party, without any knowledge of or inquiries into the actual situation, and expect me, the one clearly in the trenches, to agree.
And frankly, it’s rude.
Just Me With . . . good manners.
The general public’s persistent blanket praise of fathers who may neither be good men nor good fathers is a disservice to men who are both. It’s a disservice to the mothers who are doing the best they can with or without (or in spite of) the existence of “the father.” It’s a disservice to the brothers, cousins, friends, sisters, uncles, aunts, neighbors, teachers, grandparents and whole loads of people who provide support and encouragement and love even though they have no parental ties nor court ordered obligation to do so. It’s a disservice to the kids, the children who should expect parents to do for them, without kudos.
So I’m opting out.
I have other things to do.
For other misinformed comments, see: Weekends Off .
For other misplaced praise, see: The Unspoken Pain of Sharing Celebrations
I danced around it on my Angela Jolie Post, my Adultery Diet Post and I described some of the effects of it with We Thought You Were Dead, Mommyand the Twilight Zone posts never really say it. Even here and now within the constraints of a blog post I’m not going into great detail, not in one post anyway. Plus, posts are supposed to be short, right? I can only write so much here. (Thank goodness.)
There have probably been seeds of it implanted in me from my childhood, and in young adult life when I did a miniscule about of modeling. Years later I lost a lot of weight after my children were born, initially as a result of breastfeeding multiples and later from sheer exhaustion. See Fertile Myrtle.
But somewhere in my mind I have had this fear of “getting fat.”
Then there was the negative reinforcement of the world, it seems, when people said,
“You don’t look like you have five kids . . . “
It is meant as a compliment. But it probably got my psyche thinking, “What if I didn’t look like this?”
So, after the children, I kept busy (as if I had a choice with all those kids), watched how much I ate, and stayed slim. And I’d pretty much given my body to my husband, “Sex On Demand“.
Maybe I was still feeling vulnerable from my his stupid brief affair with a much younger woman.
“Maybe,” I thought, “I can’t get younger, but I can make sure I don’t get fat.” I don’t know.
Maybe I felt out of control because I suddenly had so many children and was completely overwhelmed yet somehow needed to make it look effortless. The Superwoman Syndrome.
So I stayed slim, but not yet dangerously so. I got some new clothes, highlights in my hair and was trying to give myself a home makeover — the new me — still fabulous after five kids, who were finally out of the diaper, toddler, and preschool grind. I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe we’d be able to leave the house soon?
But then . . . my husband left me
. . . and I pretty much stopped eating.
Ironically his love interest at that time was younger and significantly heavier than me. My being thin and sexually available was ultimately unsuccessful. Maybe I just should have become an incredible cook . . . but I digress . . .
At first I was too devastated to eat, and that, simply, continued.
I never used laxatives, or induced vomiting. (I absolutely hate throwing up). I just stopped eating, or really ate just enough to keep from falling over. I had a lot of other “behaviors” — they call them. Whatever, I don’t want to think about it now. Though it never got as bad as those horrifying pictures one sees on the internet, I admit it makes me uncomfortable to look at pictures of myself during my worst times . . . and I have destroyed most of them.
I was a bit like Emily in The Devil Wears Prada, except not nearly as glamorous.
I was in the throes of a deep, deep depression. But I had children, so I continued doing what I had to do for the most part, except . . . I failed to nourish myself. Or, I nourished myself just enough to continue to take care of the children, short-term.
Was it a cry for help or a form of suicide when suicide was not an option?
Funny thing happens when you don’t eat much or often,when you do eat you are rewarded with pain and nausea. Hardly incentive for a person who was crying all day long anyway. So I ate just enough to function, but my resistance was down, physical strength drained and when I started having dizziness and heart palpitations and losing my hair and a couple of hospitalizations and a blood transfusion later? Well, perhaps there was a problem. (Ya think?) Not to mention my historically unhealthy relationship with my estranged husband, see My High School Self, and the crap I was dealing with when he left. It was a rough time.
Call me Forrest Gump, but that’s all I have to say about that — now, anyway.
They say I suffer(ed) from Anorexia.
I actually don’t feel like talking about this stuff. I mean, I’m hardly the face of —- gulp — an eating disorder. I’m an adult woman of color who has been diagnosed with a disease whose poster child is the face of a 14-year-old white girl. The stereotype for me is either the big mama in the kitchen or the strong, sassy and proud single mother. Well, I was/am neither. Food and cooking holds no interest for me and I did not choose, nor do I wave the banner of my suddenly single mother situation, it’s just something I have to deal with.
No matter, “Anorexia” is in my medical charts, I have been referred to and evaluated by a facility for eating disorders where they determined that because of my family obligations, I should be treated privately. Whatever. I don’t feel like discussing it right now. Wait, did I already say that? It’s too much for a blog post, anyway, right? (Thank goodness).
Long, painful, story short, I’m so much better now. Therapy, medications for depression and medications for my chronic stomach ailments caused by my poor eating habits have helped tremendously. Though I’m off the daily anti-depressants now, see Getting Off The Meds, I’ve found that changing my lifestyle and removing triggers — as much as I can — have helped tremendously also.
So I eat now, not always well and not with enjoyment, but regularly. I’m at a good weight, or so I’m told — I never, ever look. People tell me I look great. (People in the know are careful not to exclaim that I’ve gained or lost weight.) To look at me now, no one would know of my “issues.” Still, when I am down or stressed, I don’t eat. And sometimes, I just forget. It’s probably something I have to watch for a long time, maybe forever. But whatever. I am much healthier than I was, which is the most important.
Just Me With . . . well, they say it was anorexia. They say.
P.S. This may be the first post I delete.
Other health related posts:
Before I get beat up in the comments because I’m a mom and have to take care of myself for my kids, etc. , know that this just skims the surface (I mean people write whole books on this stuff), that I love my children and have worked my behind off for them, have tried to protect them and have provided a good home (a good part of which I built myself), that even mothers can go through a bad time, having children does not make one immune. I’ve learned that I have to feel good about me. Period. The rest will/has to come from that.