Diapers and Dragons

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Woohoo!!!! Cue Happy Dances And Cooing Noises!

I am officially a TeacherAuntie!!!!! My nephew arrived very punctually and in an organized fashion this morning, on his due date. No artificial persuasion required! He even waited until an hour and a half after midnight to start the process--and until the day after his parents had gotten everything set and the house cleaned!

Very much like his father already, that one.

And in a few weeks they'll move to Canada, thus being, ironically enough, only three and a half hours away instead of fifteen.

So we can go SEE HIM.

*happy baby-induced sigh*



Wednesday, August 25, 2010

If It Wasn't For Meme, You Wouldn't Have Me At All

Well, at least right now. Because life, it's a little crazy. Bless DraftQueen for tagging me. I'll be Up North in the Michigan backwoods for the next few days, so I will not be on the Interwebz. Well, even less so than I have been lately.

So. Ten questions (and answers, natch) about me, and then I'm supposed to tag six people:

1. If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing it that way; if you are not anonymous do you wish you had started out anonymously so you could be anonymous now?

Well, I am and I'm not. My name and my fambily's names are, obviously, nom de plumes. But I did that whole Oooooh I'm writing a blog! Come read me! Do you need me to make it email itself to you automatically???? thing for my extended family and friends (and The Ex, who wasn't my Ex back then) that a lot of beginner bloggers do, and there have been times when that has been...inconvenient. Ever since I crashed and burned back in December 2008/January 2009 and then started blogging again in March 2009, I've been as open and honest as I can be. There are times when I need to write about something that I'm not comfortable being read by certain people, however, and that's when I resort to friends who will lend me their blog for a day or two.

Thank God for bloggy friends.

What was the question, again?

2. Describe one incident that shows your inner stubborn side.

HA! Which to choose, which to choose...because really, it's not so much an "inner" stubborn side. It's pretty much HERE I AM AND WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?!?! Um...okay. Shall I be all open and honest here? And you can decide whether this is me being stubborn or all conflict-avoidance.

There's a friend who has been a fairly good friend for quite a while who said some things to me back in January about my divorce and how she saw my future playing out. I was pretty hurt and bothered by some of it, and I haven't talked to her since, even when she's texted or Facebooked me. I even composed a letter in my head explaining why I was hurt (I don't think it's even the part she expects it is) and why I've been avoiding her. But I haven't written the letter.

I suck.

3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the face in the mirror?

Someone beautiful and flawed and fulfilled. You have no idea how amazing it is to be able to say that with honesty.

4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?

Iced tea with lemon, NO SUGAR thankyouverymuch. Though I have to say the tropical sangrias I imbibed at the Olive Garden last Friday would top my list if I was more of a drinker.

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?

READ. Lavishly. Preferably the kind of books that do NOT end up on summer reading lists, though I think those lists could use more like what I read. Ugh. Remind me to whine vent tell you about that another time.

6. Is there something you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?

I seriously think I'd like to be published. I'm not certain whether it would be for poetry, fiction, or essays, but I'd really like to be published. You know, by other people. And ideally also read by other people.

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the class shy person, or always ditching school?

Oh, definitely the overachiever. For a long time my intelligence and academic success were the only things I thought worthwhile about myself.

I still attend school occasionally, by the way, because there's that pesky ongoing education requirement for my certification. Nowadays I'm the class smartass. I'm still at the top of the class, though.

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what do you see?

Past? Future? Sad-poignant? Happy-poignant? Come on, people, be specific! Um.

Past sad-poignant was the moment last year I realized my marriage was dead. Not just dying, but dead. I'd already cried all my tears, so I didn't weep for it again, but it was a moment that I'll never quite forget.

Past mostly-happy-and-also-freaked-out-poignant was the moment DramaBoy was first shown to me and I fell in love in a totally different way than I expected. I also realized that life would never be the same and I wasn't quite so sure I was ready. Turns out, I wasn't. I survived, though.

More recent and purely-happy-poignant was when MTL first told me he loved me. I already knew it, but still, the first time those words are spoken...I can still picture it all perfectly. *mushy sigh*

As for future poignant--well, refer back to my answer to #1. Maybe I'll tell you once it's happened. *wink*

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?

I don't think I can help but write about myself. Very few of my posts are about other people without my involvement. This is essentially my rather non-private diary. Same for my poetry--it's all based in reality.

Sure, it's navel gazing, but they say to write what you know! Hehe.

10. If you had the choice to sit and read or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?

Oh, the answer to this one should be obvious to anyone who's been reading my blog for long! Sit and read ALL THE WAY!!! It's my addiction, after all. Even more so than shoes. (I know. Gasp.)

I actually prefer texting on the phone to talking on it. And I'll take talking to someone face-to-face over the phone any day! I've become more like my mother that way as I've gotten older. Now sit down with me over a cup of coffee or a lovely slice of dark chocolate cake with raspberries, and I can talk--and listen, believe it or not--for hours.

Which is what I plan to do the next few days, because my parents are IN COUNTRY and IN TOWN until Sunday, when they fly out to Boston for the birth of my nephew!!!

MTL finally met them last night. I won't tell you how nervous he was. How very, very, very nervous. *ahem*

(He survived.)

(I love that man. As he says, I better. Heehee.)

I'm supposed to tag people, right? Eeek. Um. Okay. Yikes, can't tag DraftQueen. Or Brenda at MummyTime. Or Wanderlust. Or Melissa at Rock and Drool. DQ already tagged them. Dammit, woman!

Okay. I tag:

Lori at Random Ramblings of a Stay at Home Mum
Pants With Names at Pants With Names
Katie at No Missed Opportunities
Nicola at Some Mothers Do Ave Em
GingerB at Gas-Food-Lodging
Monica at And I'll Raise You 5

Your turn!

You're welcome.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sometimes Eventually Happens

How do you and MTL deal with real life so easily? she asked, and I sat there thinking how on earth to respond to that. It was a bit of a shocker, really. I don't view myself as someone who "deals" all that well, truth be told, considering the more or less daily soap opera playing out in my head for three decades. Days of My Life: now with more child actors.

But I think I know from whence her question came. She and her best friend, both former students, had called me up late at night in fear and anguish, and MTL and I had gathered them up, plunged into their drama, and been the safe haven they could not find elsewhere. She also knows a good bit about my own drama played out over the last two years. And because of their own sufferings, I had talked with them about what happened when I was five.

I suppose MTL and I have dealt with "real life" and its sorrows better than many. It's the "easily" part that struck me, because it has not been that, not for either of us. What seemed so easy to her?

It isn't really our own strength, I told her. We both have faith in God, not to take all the hardships away or make everything go right, but to give us the strength we need to deal with what comes. We've both had to lean on him pretty heavily at times. That's what makes it look easier than it is.

I've been reminded these last two weeks just how much I do need to rely on that strength and grace, because life has been messy and draining and complicated. Those friends' drama, with its unhappy and maddening and ongoing outcome. Learning the ins and outs of a blended family and providing for and monitoring and parenting five children (plus the occasional friend staying over, which makes us a full-blown Brady Bunch even without the kitten). Attempting to deal with an angst-ridden fourteen-year-old girl who does not want to go to a new school in a new district with new people on top of starting high school.

It's bringing back some awful memories, that last one. I'm remembering too well the anger and depression of being fourteen, coming back to Michigan for a one year furlough, going into my sophomore year with people I either did not know or who might remember me vaguely from fifth grade as that weird girl from Africa. And who wants to make friends with someone who doesn't have a clue about anything that is Important like the popular clothes and music and movies and TV shows, and will be leaving at the end of the year anyway?

I get it. All too well. Add all that drama to the natural angst of being female and fourteen...

It's been interesting around here.

So last weekend when The Dark One invited me and MTL to go with her to her church (she wanted us there! with her! in a public place!) we went. We were rather delighted with the service. And the pastor, who is an energetic young man with four kids and dreadlocks. We'll be going back.

Before his sermon, Pastor Devine (pronounced "Devin") talked about the need to hand over all our burdens and worries to God so that we could come freely before Him, and he asked us to bow our heads and then raise a hand if we were in a situation where we needed that strength and grace. My right hand shot up. I felt MTL's hand cover my other, and we held each other tight as we prayed. There's grace right there, I thought, this man standing beside me.

This week has been a testing of that prayer. Each day has gotten busier and crazier as I have performed the tasks of chauffeur, launderer, cook, maid, mother, stepmother, and teacher. Yesterday was the peak. I hadn't actually written out a list of everything I needed to accomplish (which might have helped my focus, really), but if I had, it would have covered at least two pages.

At one point I caught myself getting strident as I urged the children to get their chores done and rooms cleaned before I had to take the four oldest (MTL's three + The Dark One's BFF, who has adopted us as her parents and calls us Mommy and Daddy) the 50-minute drive out to their mother's place. One of the many, many things I've learned from this new family experience is that when I start getting strident, things get worse. The kids get sulky, resentment builds, and I end up feeling guilty and mean.

So I took a break. I went upstairs and closed myself away in the sanctuary of our bedroom, and I picked up the book I had grabbed at random off my bedside table the day before. It was a God-step, because in the pages of Anne Lamott's Grace (Eventually) I found the words I needed to bring me back to center, accompanied by the wry humor that appeals to me about her work. I even underlined some lines, the ones that spoke to me and reminded me that (1) we're all in this together and we're all a mess, (2) I'm not in charge, (3) yes, parenting is hard, but that's normal, and (4) God loves me and sometimes that's not a warm and fuzzy thing.

Let me share, because she puts it all so much better than I can (well, outside my head, where this blog post was ever so much more eloquent this morning, let me tell you):
We're invited more deeply into this mystery on a daily basis, to be here as one-of; a mess like everyone else, and not in charge. That's why we hate it. (125)

Why was he [her son Sam] sabotaging himself like this...and for what? Well, this is what teenagers have to do, because otherwise they would never be able to leave home and go off to become their own people. Kids who are very close to their parents often become the worst shits, and they have to make the parents the villains so they can break free without having it hurt too much. Otherwise, the parents would have to throw rocks at them to get them out of the house. (190)

It turns out that all kids have this one tiny inbred glitch: they have their own sin, their own stains, their own will. Putting aside for a moment the divine truth of their natures, all of them are wrecked, just like the rest of us. That is the fly in the ointment... (193-194)

I had behaved badly? It all started up in me again, but this time it didn't take over, because something got there first. You want to know how big God's love is? The answer is: It's very big. It's bigger than you're comfortable with. (125)
Then I said the stupidest thing to God: I said, "I'll do anything you say." Now this always gets Jesus' attention. I could feel him look over, sideways, and steeple his fingers. And smile, that pleased-with-himself smile. "Good," I heard him say. "Now you're talking. So go home already, and deal with it." (192)

So I took a deep breath and tossed a mute Help! and I'm sorry! and Thank You! up to God, girded my mental loins, and headed back into the fray. But I made sure to talk to The Padawan and apologize for my tone and thank him for all the help he's been giving and the good job he's been doing with his chores and the little kids. And I took the time to talk to KlutzGirl about how I know it's hard to suddenly be the only girl with a bunch of boys so much of the time. And I made sure to give DramaBoy and The Widget some hugs and cuddles, however brief, in between dashing about Getting Things Done. And when I picked The Dark One up from her orientation that she hadn't wanted to attend and over which she had actually cried, I took her to 7-11 to buy a Monster, and I told her how proud I was of her for going and trying even when she really really really didn't want to.

That's grace, really, in those small yet not-so-small moments: the strength and patience to do what needs to be done without losing track of the hearts and minds and souls of those God has placed in your life. It's stretching me, making me grow in ways I never dreamed, widening my capacity for love and patience. If you had given me the same sort of day with the same sort of To-Do list just a couple of months ago, I would have broken down. Instead, the day ended in smiles and laughter and connectedness.

It all has its rewards. Last night when MTL held me close and told me how much he loves me and how much he appreciates everything I do, I told him that I finally am starting to understand what some of my friends have been saying: these friends with big families and crazy lives who say that they find joy in the insanity, that they have a sense of fulfillment in parenting such large broods.

I feel the challenge, yes, but I'm also feeling the blessing.

Today they're all gone, all of these children small and large, off to their other homes and other parents. There's a part of me that relishes the silence and sanity and prospect of uninterrupted hours spent with MTL. And there is, against all logic, a large part of me that misses them and their noise and squabbling and laughter and craziness.

It's not easy, this life. But it's full of unexpected grace and joy.

All quotes taken from Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Toast Me

I just solved a great domestic engineering mystery.

I figured out where to set the dial on the new toaster.

Now before you scoff (you scoffing scoffers you), keep in mind that this toaster simply had a set of numbers on the dial going from 1 to * (no really, an asterisk, following the 9) with no indication whether 1 was "barely toasted" or "charcoal briquet", and no clue whatsoever what the punctuation was for.

When I took a stab at it yesterday, I set it to 4ish in a wishy-washy middling attempt to determine the proper setting. The resulting toast was....edible, but the "left a little too long over the campfire" sort of edible. There was also an accompanying odor of baking plastic as it toasted, so I suspected that perhaps there was some sort of coating on the interior of the toaster. I elected NOT to scrub it off in the sink.

My intelligence is not purely of a literary nature.

So I set the dial at * and let the toaster toast air, in a crazy guess that perhaps the asterisk was some sort of self-cleaning setting. Correct or not, at least this morning it only emitted the lovely scent of toasting bread rather than burning petroleum-based synthetics. However, I still faced the problem of where to set the dial. Was 9 the highest regular setting, or was 1? I tried 6.

I'm a little confused now. Are there people who ENJOY eating toast that looks like it should be fueling a grill? Because if the resulting blackened bread at level 6 is any indication, level 9 produces filler for charcoal bags.

RIP those two pieces of bread, by the way. I don't like wasting food, but I also didn't really need an emetic this morning.

So I settled on a setting of 2.5, and the toast came out Just Right. Still on the slightly darker side, which makes me wonder what someone who wants light toast is going to do.

And yes, I very much enjoyed my Nutella toast, thank you very much.

With a side of Victory.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Waning

Slender silvered fingers stirred the air, trailing streams of moonlight shimmering faintly with otherwordly argent. Glittering strands wove a simple pattern that unraveled too soon. A cloud drifted across the moon's face and the fingers faltered, stilled, dropped. The weaving faded. Her face shadowed with the moon, ice-blue eyes dulled, and her head nodded to her chest, too weak to hold.

Too little remained. She was alone and lost in this mortal world, and the bridge to her own had waned with the passing of her people. She had no way to return and nothing to which to return.

She had been so sure that she knew better than the Elders, so certain that the love she bore for a mortal man would survive the Waning, so convinced that she could thrive in a world made for other than her ilk. Foolish. Rash.


He had been young and beautiful, the mortal man who had stumbled through their weavings and across the Bridge, protected by his innocence and the pendant around his neck. A gift offered out of selfless love, it was, and bound about with the rites and magics of the Sacrificed God. Her sentinels could not harm him and instead brought him before her for judgment.

His beauty was of a sort that did not exist in her world. His skin was dusky, his hair the shade of wood from other forests than hers. His eyes also shone darkly, but the color did not fill the orbs between his lids as did hers, instead surrounded by ivory. They seemed more expressive than those of her kind, full of fear and curiosity mixed.

And he was young. Young, with a rushing warmth and vibrancy no longer found in her old, cold race. His was the quickness of the short-lived, those who grasped each day with hunger, for their days were few in number.

He did not see her many years, for hers was a people who did not show age. She could no longer remember the years of her youth, spent in a long ago. She had been the last child born to her people, the last of youth in a people waiting for the end. She, too, waited for the Waning, for the passing into rest.

He stirred her slow blood, this child-man. And his eyes on hers spoke of a stirring in his, a heat that spread molten through her veins until she gasped with the life of it.

He told her of his world, the lands his father held and where he had walked boldly into a forest feared by his people, out of a desire to find new challenge in a summer grown dull with peace. She motioned to the pendant around his neck, and he, out of desire to please his lovely hostess, tucked it in his pouch for safekeeping. They sat to dinner, and no wine poured could match the sweetness of their gazes upon one another.

He warmed her bed that night, and the night after that, and those following: nights that passed with a speed that dizzied her. A breath of his time had crossed the bridge with him, and the quickening was a liquor in her blood.

The Elders murmured in her ears, but she did not hear them. He was hers, and she was his.

Forever, she pledged to him, and Forever, he said in return. She wound a strand of hair about his finger where it twined and shimmered into silver and white gold. His braided hair about her finger showed no transformation, but she felt the weave of the troth nonetheless.

And the Elders spoke. The time had passed, the end was come, and the Waning was at hand. She must give him up, for where they were passing he could not go.

She was not ready. She no longer desired rest. Her blood roared through her veins as though she was young again. In his eyes, in his arms, she was young again. Since he could not come with her, she would go with him. She would cross back over the bridge with him, return with him to his lands and his people.

They will adore you as do I, he told her. How could they not?

So she did not Wane. At the last, before the bridge faded from their lands, they crossed over, hand in hand, their rings of hair and not-hair binding them. When the weavings vanished and the mists parted, she stood in the light of the mortal sun.

The molten orb was young and seared her with its glare. She gasped, the very air flaming in lungs long accustomed to the silken touch of ancient light. Her steps faltered, her slender form wilting like a delicate bloom thrust too near the flame. He barely glanced at her, eager steps racing back to the home for which he yearned. She stumbled in his wake. She clutched at his fingers in sudden and unaccustomed fear, and he finally slowed.

He turned, a half spoken word of vexation on his tongue. His impatience turned to concern when he saw her face, and he clasped her close just before her knees gave way.

His people had given him up for lost years before. Time had passed strangely in the other world, he found, and for each sennight spent in her soft bed a year had passed for his loved ones. They were grown a little older, a little greyer, a little sadder without his sweet humor to cheer them. His father had fallen to a bandit raid just the year before, and they welcomed him as their lord.

His homecoming was joyous, tinged with wonder over the strange swooning bride he brought back from his travels. She was all silver and pearl, with great ice-blue eyes, no whites, fringed with frosted lashes longer than any they'd seen. Her hair was spun snow cascading over a form so slender they wondered how she stood in a wind. She was not of their world, and they whispered in corners over her alien beauty, his unaltered youth.

One woman alone welcomed the wintry maiden with no hesitation. Her chestnut braids were laced with white that had not been there last he saw her, but the love in her eyes was the same. She embraced her son's bride as she embraced her son, and her words sent servants scurrying to prepare a place for them to rest.

The white lady lay breathless and still for hours. Hesitant servants tended her, held cups of rich broth and sweet wine to her lips, bathed her brow. He sat by her side much of the day, then lay beside her as the relentless sun slipped below the horizon.

As the gentle moon rose full and round in the night sky, she stirred, then rose and moved to the window. She raised her face to the silvered light that spilled across the strange land outside. Her fingers moved, and soft weavings glimmered a moment, then faded.

He slept all the moonlit hours she stood looking out, and finally she crept back to his side as the sky grew rosy with approaching dawn, clinging to him like a child lost. When the sun climbed again, driving the strength from her limbs and the breath from her lungs, he left her in the shadow of her curtained bed. He had lands to survey, people to reassure, a place to take hold.

That night she rose again with the moon, and once again he slept. The moonlight was a little less this night, the edge of the disk slightly blunted. Again her fingers wove faint patterns in the light, then stilled upon the window ledge. When she returned to his side, she flinched from a new burning. He woke at her gasp and looked down at his chest, where the pendant lay as it had before.

My mother asked where it had gone, he told her. I must wear it. It is our way.

She said nothing, and the cruel sun rose again, and she lay in silence.

Each day he rode out on his lands, and each night she stood with her face to the vanishing moon. Once, when his people had a great banquet to celebrate his return, she rose early and descended to the table on his arm. The bread was ashes in her mouth, the wine acid on her tongue. She sat silent and wan as he laughed with friends renewed, and after scant time she returned to the sanctuary of her room. The whispers grew to open comment, and even his mother bore faint lines upon her brow.

He came to her angry that night, affronted by the insult she had not meant. He grasped her narrow shoulder and spun her away from the window. She winced, but he did not notice the bruise already purpling on her skin. She stood silent and pale before his fury, and at last he left her. He did not sleep in her bed that night, or the night thereafter. When at last he returned to her, he found her at the window, gazing at a moon half in shadow.

They lay together that night, but she had little strength or passion in her limbs. When at last he slept, she slipped from the sheets and stood again in her moonlit place. Her face was streaked with tears.

He grew impatient in the days following. He came later and later to her bed, and finally not at all.

One night the moon did not rise, and neither did she. She lay in silent stupor in a room filled with shadows. His mother sat beside her day and night, urging broth and watered wine between her lips. He visited briefly, but was too busy to stay. She still breathed, though shallowly, as though she had not the strength to move her lungs more deeply.

As the moon grew in strength, so did she, though with only a fraction of what she once had. She asked for him, and after long hours he entered her room. His eyes held none of the warmth she sought. She grasped his hand, and her fingers found no ring bound about his.

I have been working the horses, he told her. I could not wear it. What is it you need, my lady? Are you lacking anything in care?

But she had no words, and after waiting a moment, he turned from her and left the room.

That night she went in search of him. She wandered halls in slow distraction, finally passing a door where she chanced to catch a hint of laughter. His laughter.

She placed one slender hand on the door, then opened it with what little strength she had in her. Flickering firelight illuminated a disheveled bed, sheets wrapped about gleaming limbs entwined. His head was bent to that of a woman whose raven hair cascaded across lush curves and golden skin. They moved in ancient rhythm, and his laughter turned to fervent gasps.

They never noticed her motionless form in the doorway, nor heard the door close when she slipped back into the hall.

She did not know how long she wandered until she found the main door, nor how she found the strength to open it and escape into the night. She stumbled across the unfamiliar landscape, her eyes fixed upon the distant line of thick trees. At last she crossed into the waiting cool of silvered leaves, her hands bruised against rough bark.

The weavings were not there. The bridge was nowhere to be found.

She sunk into the cradle of two great roots and lifted her face to the weak light of the moon. Her fingers lifted and she traced ancient patterns, memories of a world she could no longer reach.

A nightbird flew through the trees on delicate wings. A white shape beneath its home caught its ebon eyes, and it alighted a safe distance away. The moonlight played strangely over the form. There was no movement save some faint breath. Then even that small motion hitched, slowed, stopped.

The nightbird hopped closer, then, feeling no danger, flitted to land beside a slender limb. A dark strand wrapped about one narrow appendage drew its attention, and the bird picked at it curiously. The filament broke, then crumbled in the nightbird's beak. Disappointed, it flew up to a branch, then lifted its head to the distant moon.

Its mournful song echoed through the night.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Now All We Need Is A Middle-Aged Housekeeper With A Boyfriend At The Butcher Shop

Though with the snarky senses of humor rife in this not-so-Bradyesque household, we could probably do without Alice's corny witty one-liners. They might just put us over the top.

Anywho, remember when I said all we needed was one more girl?

Well, heeeeeere's Halo!!!!

Oh teh itteh bitteh kitteh!!! Teh cute, teh cute!!!

The Padawan went up north with his Nana and Papa and his cousin T. back on August first. Yesterday, he came home--but not alone! His uncle had found T. a free kitten, and The Padawan called us a couple days ago asking if he could bring home its sibling.

Here's the thing: MTL and I may be snarky and sarcastic and whatnot, but we both have soft smushy centers.

(Don't tell MTL I told you that.)

And we both have very soft smushy centers when it comes to babies, especially the soft and furry kind. We're particularly partial to cats, as they are so easy maintenance-wise. Plus, The Padawan swore he'd take care of the litter box, and while I don't tend to believe too many kids about such things, I do believe it about him. He's a responsible little geek.

So when The Padawan climbed out of Papa's car yesterday, he was cradling a box with the itsiest, bitsiest little ball of stripy fluff.

Oo's teh cute kitteh? Oh, oo is, isn't oo???

I don't squee on principle, but my voice may have climbed a register or two. I don't exactly remember. It all fades into a fuzzy mushy memory.

MTL reacted much the same way when he came home and saw her, truth be told. She's pretty much designed for melting hearts.

The Padawan chose her name--after the video game, of course, being a proper gamer-in-training, though I myself am hoping it encourages an angelic nature. Her nickname is Cutie Patootie, which she is.


She spent the night in a large box in MTL and my room, and she only mewed her teensy tiny little mew a few times. And she's already potty-trained and quite polite about it.

It would be awfully nice if human babies were that way, have to say.

So if you happen to call me up and my voice is all soft and squeaky, don't worry.

I'm just Under the Influence of Kitteh.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Justice is blind today
not as as she is intended
(to race gender creed
but to Truth
they are strangers here
in a system no longer bent
on protecting the innocent
punishing the guilty

she must be lying
they say
apparently a marine is incapable
of crimes like this
he fought for his country
and therefore is infallible

we all know no military man has ever raped a woman
it's unheard of

and because he did not break and beat her
(the damage to her soul and psyche
doesn't test in a forensic lab)
she must be lying

she must have wanted to endure those hours
of questioning
repeating again and again
the words she could barely force through trembling lips

she must have wanted to rip apart the only home she had
lose her friend
the sister closer than any of dna
lose the father figure who only hours before
had sworn were she a year younger he would adopt her
lose it all
when they could not choose between her
and their flesh and blood

she must have wanted the pain

i saw the emptiness in her eyes
i heard the story of those days
i felt the reality of her words
(as did the officer who wrote them down
i saw his eyes too)
my stomach churned
bile rose to my tongue
a stench like sulfur and brimstone
the work of hell in a suburban home

but now
out of his hands
out of mine
others make the call

and she
abandoned by family again and again

has given up
called it off
walked away

Evil once more has won

and i
i have lost my faith
(or rather
my naivete)
in a system so broken
so biased

so blind

Friday, August 6, 2010

While I'm Waiting

Some days are more frustrating than others. I've had a couple lately. Today I'm stuck inside waiting for a repairman who is supposed to appear sometime between the hours of nine ay-em and six pee-em. Oh yes, peoples. I was given a NINE HOUR time span in which I must roam the rooms of my (fortunately wonderful) new home and wait for someone to show up and replace a hose on the washer that was installed incorrectly a week ago. And since we're renting the appliance from some national appliance company, we don't dare make the repairs ourselves in case they then decide that we have voided the rental agreement/warranty/whatever. They're only showing up today instead of next Tuesday because I begged.

I just love those impersonal national companies that don't even have a clue where you're really located when you call them. Oh, you're in Detroit? the representative asks after pulling up your account, not even using your own phone number or address because it's kind of through the rental complex.

No; West Bloomfield, Michigan, you reply.

Oh. Well, I have a lot of S---------- Villas listed here, he says, apparently unable to figure anything out for himself. And then switches you over to Customer Service where, you hope, they train the representatives to think for themselves marginally more.

The new representative assures you that there is someone coming, but no, she can't pinpoint the time span any more than the NINE HOUR one already given.

You can always just let the leasing office know and give them permission to let us in if you need to leave, the new representative tells you in a cheerful voice.

Because you're so comfortable with letting people in while you're gone so they can do who knows what and then feed you some bullsh*t about nothing being wrong and that leak being part of the service, isn't that lovely? It's a new feature! when you call to complain that you still can't run the clothes washer without flooding the utility room.

No thank you. I guess I'm stuck here.

It's been over four hours now. And we all know perfectly well he/she/it will show up at 5:55 this evening, right?

Face it, I'm grumpy. I'm feeling a bit guilty about that, because really I shouldn't be. I have so much to be not grumpy about.

The move went well, thanks to the invaluable assistance of ten other people, including five former students, who helped us move everything on Saturday and Sunday. I've been working steadily since then to unpack and organize everything, and overall it's gone quite well. There are only a few more boxes and smaller pieces of furniture to move out of the garage and into place, and I'll wait for MTL's help this weekend for most of that.

I love our new home. It's roomy--oh so very roomy!!!--and comfortable and feels like home already. The next door neighbor is very friendly and sweet and turned out to be the mother of one of my students who graduated last year. She and I have already exchanged numbers and spent time chatting, and it's lovely to feel a friendship developing.

At the same time, however, other stressors keep raising their uncomfortable heads. MTL started a new job last week, and although he's happier there and earning a bit more money and closer to home, he's coming home exhausted because it's more physically demanding than the last one. We've been very tight financially this week due to moving costs. We have a growing list of things we need to purchase, some more urgently than others.

With my personality, not being able to finish setting up the house and the kids' rooms bothers me. The fact that I don't have picture hangers so that I can spend my copious hours stuck inside by putting photos and art on the walls bothers me. Having to wait until next week to get the kids registered in school bothers me.

And not having had Just Us time with MTL in weeks bothers me. I've become a bit spoiled, I know. A bright, shiny silver lining in having Exes is getting fairly regular time to ourselves without kidlets around. Summer alters the schedule, and the various events of the last month have further mucked up arrangements. We haven't had real time to ourselves since we went out to Saugatuck the week after the Fourth of July.

Here's my confession: as much as I really do care about The Dark One and The Padawan and KlutzGirl, I'm still adjusting to becoming the stepmom, much less monitoring five kids. And reality alert! Working with teens in the classroom is a very different thing to working with them in the home. Especially when there isn't a bell that lets you kick them out the door after an hour or so.

What makes me feel rather small and petty are the occasional feelings of jealousy I have. Jealousy at having to share MTL with so many others, jealousy that their mother shares something with him that I can't, jealousy that my boys as well as his children sometimes would rather be with their other parents rather than us (and yes, I know how paradoxical that is considering my need for Just Us time with MTL).

I know this is pretty normal and that I need to get used to it and develop a thicker skin and all that, but yesterday was just Hard. My back was hurting and my allergies were so bad I felt cotton-headed and dizzy. I had KlutzGirl, DramaBoy, and The Widget with me all day. They play together quite well, but their noise level and the occasional need to referee quarrels were wearing me down. MTL arrived home exhausted. And then a minor difference in opinion between me and MTL on the issue of late-night snacking topped it all off, and I fell apart, leading to a rare argument between us.

The reality is that blending families is hard. We have it a lot easier than many, I know: both of us are amicable with our exes, our children like each other and us, and we generally have very good communication. But no road runs smoothly, and there are and will be issues that have to be worked out. Sometimes they seem to be minor, but the solutions aren't necessarily simple.

For example: I don't give my kids sugary snacks (or really, much in the way of snacks at all) later in the evening. They both tend to get a little hyper on sugar, especially DramaBoy. MTL's children don't react the same way, and he's never worried about their snacking, especially since he doesn't usually have much junk food around. But then we come up against situations, like last night, where I gave The Widget a graham cracker, but KlutzGirl wanted something else, and MTL gave her a little packet of Fruit Snacks (you know, the gummy thingies.) What do we do in these situations? Suddenly change the way things have always been for his kids and tell them they can't have what they've been allowed to have before? Deny my boys what the other kids are having?

It also goes to deeper issues, of course--and I'm not telling you the whole story, as there are aspects that are better left between me and MTL. But overall it does come down to blending two families into one, and we each are bringing in somewhat differing practices and expectations and parenting approaches. Sometimes that means we offer each other alternatives that are better than what we've done before individually; sometimes we don't see eye to eye. Add in two strong-willed individuals who have become used to doing things their own way, and we end up having to battle our own selves to find a way to compromise.

Our overall goals and desires for our children are essentially the same. What isn't always identical is the path we take to get there, and that is what makes the road a bumpy one. There are some very strong, solid foundations, however, that make it worth the work. We want to raise strong, independent children. We love our children, biological and not. And we love each other, enough to talk through the anger and the hurt and reach for the understanding on the other side.

Just...some days are a little tougher than others.

I'm not really asking for solutions here (and definitely not asking you to take sides on the stupid snack issue), though if you have practical experience in blended families, I wouldn't mind hearing what has worked--and what hasn't. I just needed to get it out, vent, throw the words out into the universe before girding my loins to return to the task at hand.

I think I need to go find that book on Stepcoupling I've been reading. I think it's still buried in a box somewhere.

And I still have four hours of waiting on that repairman to find it.
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