Thursday, December 29, 2005

Squishy sand and cold concrete

I have a friend who has a sister. She's married to an immigrant whose legal stay here long since expired. For years, he has used the excuse of "This is how it's done in MY culture" as an excuse for his bad behavior. She cooks, cleans, takes care of the children. Then, she does the same for his dozens of "family" who come to their home. They come, without her prior knowledge or permission. They speak another language in front of her, and laugh at her for not knowing what they said. He disappears for days, spends all their money, doesn't hold a job, and says she has no right to ask what happened because it's his "culture."

One day, a "cousin" came to stay, with a little baby. She believed him. Then, the "cousin" was pregnant again. Then another came to stay, also with a baby. Guess what? They weren't cousins. I know -- you're as shocked as I was. (with a resounding "Duh.")

So, here's the shocking part. He says he won't share their bedroom with her anymore, and moves the first girlfriend in there. And she lets him. She and her daughter sleep on the couch.

Yep, daughter. The child is growing up thinking this is normal. Good modeling for her own married life someday.

With enough pressure, she leaves. Her father has the scum evicted from the house. (Did I mention it was her FATHER'S house?!) She gets the house back and she lives in peace with her child. The scumbag moves in with the girlfriend, but the wife doesn't know where.

She won't divorce him. Why? "Because I might not ever get married again." All together now: "WTF?!?!"

He's with someone else. Having babies. He rarely contacts her, and that's to see their child. She's alone. But that's a marriage. She doesn't want to give that up, for the chance that she might NOT be alone the rest of her life.

I know another woman, married to a military man. When he's sent elsewhere, he doesn't contact her often, he spends money like it's water, and other women give him expensive gifts. When he finally gets home, you'd think he'd be one of those guys on the tarmac, hugging the daylights out of his kids and wife. He's not. He won't speak to them for a week or more because he's "adjusting." Now, he spends his time at home playing online (games, allegedly) and sleeping.

He doesn't give gifts to his wife. No Mother's Day. No Birthday. No Anniversary. And this year, no Christmas. No spontaneous "I love you."

They left town for the holidays. Suddenly, he's going and doing. Smells like a whole tank of fishy, methinks.

I have to wonder, why do they put up with it? Where is the breaking point for these women? The latter is starting to say, "How do I raise my kids to know this isn't how a husband and father behaves?" So, maybe the kids are her line in the sand. It was that way with me.

For the former, when does he step far enough for that emotional band to snap? He's stretched it far enough for even Dr. Laura to tell this woman to grab her child and cut this man from her life, at all costs.

Not that I should dare to point fingers. I'm fully aware of my failings in this arena. I keep erasing my line in the sand and drawing a new one. What am I afraid of? Contemplating that answer makes my innards feel squishy. I hate feeling squishy. It's not solid. It's not stable. It's downright uncomfortable. Much like sand.

But concrete is cold, hard, unyielding. When do we decide to pour the concrete and draw that line?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Humping reindeer and silly romantics

For the third year in a row, some demented little soul out there thinks it's knee-slappin' hysterical to put our decorative Christmas reindeer in compromising positions.

Okay, I have to admit laughing the first time I pulled into the driveway and witnessed the reindeer and their unabashed passion on display for the whole neighborhood. Get a room...er, stall, you two.

However, when their antics actually busted one of the reindeer, it quit being funny. And when I pulled up and actually caught them in the act, it quit being funny. The car I saw matched that of a horrible (more accurately, whore-able) woman who vehemently hates a member of my family. She didn't dare to come back again last year.

She came back tonight. Christmas Eve Eve. We have a new reindeer and I don't want it broken, too. She got caught again, though. My dad saw her and the car is different, but the person is the same. He scared her off.

All I have to say is, how old are we??

---------------------------------------

I just finished watching "Little Women." The old one with June Allison and Elizabeth Taylor. Jo was so right -- the brainiac Professor is soooo much better than the silly boy. The ending scene always gets me....

Rain pouring down on the two huddled under the umbrella. It soaks into her dress, drips from his coat.

"I have nothing to offer, but these empty hands."
She grasps his outstretched hand with her own. "They're not empty anymore."

Gets me. Every. Single. Time.

Now, there's a sweet, World-War-II-propoganda-filled oldie on, with Claudette Colbert. (Does anyone remember her anymore? Besides me?) Anyhow, I'll probably watch it, too. I adore those drippy films.

So, I'm spending the wee hours of my Christmas Eve with sweet old movies instead of sleeping. Why? Because I'm listening for reindeer pornographers sneaking around my front yard.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Whoever wrote "Suicide is Painless" is stupid

(Does anyone even know that song anymore? Or know where it comes from?)

I'm a closet Indianapolis Colts fan. Boyfriend is a big fan, so I've watched them for a few years. This year, they are spectacular. I've learned what a huddle-less offense is and it seems bad-ass. I hope they go all the way, but shhhh....don't say that too loud or I'll jinx 'em!

In case the news hasn't reached you, the Colts' head coach Tony Dungy has an 18-year-old son who decided to kill himself yesterday. Here's the Fox Sports article.

Before I total taint any positive image you might have of me and launch into my rant, here's my disclaimer: I am not insensitive. I am not unsympathetic. I feel absolutely horrible for Tony Dungy and his family. This is a hurt that will never go away. Time will dull the shock, but they will always miss that boy and wish he was there for the milestones in life, theirs and his. They will always second guess themselves and carry the guilt. They will always, like it or not, have a bit of anger towards him for doing it to them. I feel so terribly sad for anyone going through such a horror, especially when they are mourning their child.

I even feel a bad for the boy. No one in their right mind takes their own life. I firmly believe that. Things just get all screwed up and you can't think straight, I know. That said, I'm totally pissed at that kid. I don't tolerate selfishness well, and this is one of the most insanely selfish things I've ever heard.

The Colts lead the NFL at 13-1, with only two more games in the regular season. 2005 should have been the year in Tony Dungy's history when he led an NFL team to a near-perfect season. He should be enjoying the pinnacle of his career.

Instead, it's the year his son died. Not only died, but killed himself. And just three days before Christmas. How very sad. Not only has the man lost his child, but he can't even enjoy what should have been his best year yet. That boy took everything away from that man. Merry Christmas, Dad.

Alrighty, then. I can feel the vibes from here. Dang, Blogget, you're a cold one. The poor kid probably didn't have his dad's attention and was in desperate need. Even if that is the case, you don't take your own life. You don't destroy your life and the lives of those around you just because you're having a hard time. It's not fair.

On the other hand, it's not my place to be mad at that kid. He didn't inflict hurt upon me. Unfortunately, he's opened old wounds. I hear about the reactions of people hearing about his death, and it comes back to me.

"Julie is dead. She shot herself."

Julie was my cousin. Well, she still is. She's just not where I can tell her about my kids or go to her wedding or hear about her kids. We grew up together. Matching dresses on Easter and Christmas and the lot. She got into a messed up world and I guess saw no other way out.

But there was another way. She had a family who loved her and would help her. She didn't have to choose the way she did. I'm still a little mad at her for doing that to us all. It's surreal to see her name on a headstone, beside my great-grandparents and grandparents. It's just not the way it was supposed to be.

I don't know how her mother was able to clean out her apartment afterwards. I couldn't have faced it all, being within the walls where my child lived, fell apart, and died. Now, I'm reading about another family who has to do the same thing.

Suicide is not painless. It's an act that leaves immeasureable damage in it's wake. It causes a pain that runs deeper than any comfort can reach. I'm profoundly sorry for anyone who has to join the unfortunate fraternity of those who suffer through that pain.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Another sing along! "All I want for Christmas is...."

A puppy.

No really, I do! This isn't one of those, "Oh, they're so cute! Can I have one? Please! Please!" and then you don't know what work it is to actually take care of her/him. This is my honest-to-gosh, heartfelt, all-I-really-want-for-Christmas-besides-world-peace wish.

I know it won't come true because the others in my house don't want that, but my heart breaks for want of a dog.

I've never been without a dog. We had a Border Collie when I was born. Cocker Spaniels when I was growing up. As an adult, I've had a Great Dane/Doberman, an identifiable mutt, a Lhasa Apso, a Border Collie, a Cocker Spaniel, and a Labrador Retriever.

And then there was one. She out-lived them all, but had to leave this earth a few months ago. Life just got too dangerous and painful for her. I know, I know...I've heard it a million times..."You did the right thing." Okay. I still miss her each and every day, when I get home and she's not there to greet me.

She's visited me since then and given me comfort. Yeah, I believe in spirits, or "ghosts" if you prefer. I have too many stories that affirm that to be able to tell them all here. Maybe I'll make another blog about that and absolutely never get my work done! Ha!

The point is that I love dogs. I love MY dogs, especially. I've never been without one and I miss having that companionship in my life. There's an unconditional validation they give to your existence, even on the darkest days. I miss my dog terribly and want desperately to love another.

So, yes, I really do want a puppy. Cold nose, soft ears, warm heart. Ah well. Maybe Santa will find one for me next year.

--------

Sidebar: Boyfriend explained himself about the neighbor comment. He didn't mean the guy is easier to talk to, just that he doesn't pay any attention when Boyfriend is in a bad mood. He just doesn't care that much -- which is why he's not a better choice to talk to.

Oh, and I was talking with my recently-divorced-for-the-second-time ex-husband last night. We were making arrangements for the kids' Christmas Eve. The conversation took a sudden twist and next thing I knew, he's telling me how this friend of his feels that he (the ex, not the friend) belongs with me, that I'm his first and only love. How do you tell a person "been there, done that, and never ever wanna do it again" when they are the "there," "that," and "it"? I mean, other than divorcing them. I would have thought it was a clear enough message.

Ah well. I'll handle it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Hmpf

Let's check the clock, shall we?

Boyfriend declared he was turning over a new leaf at about 3:00 Sunday afternoon. Then, he called about 10:00 last night. By 10:30, I'd had enough and hung up on him. It took about 55 hours for him to be rotten and snotty to me. I don't tolerate being treated like an idiot. I get absolutely effing furious. You'd think after having known me for over six years, ge'd grab a clue about that, too.

So, what was his problem, you might wonder? He has a lot to do today and he has to leave town on Christmas Eve. So, instead of creating a "To Do" list like a reasonable person, he calls me, lists it all, gets stressed out, and takes it out on me. I'm sure it made him feel so much more in control to make me feel like an idiot, with his "Uhm, yeah, I know" and "Of course." Or rather, to try to make me feel like an idiot. All it did was make me mad.

And sad. I really believed the new leaf was being turned. That really was stupid of me.

It goes deeper than the rotten tone he had, though. For reasons too ridiculous to waste the typing on, we get to talk for only a few minutes each evening. It's supposed to be a time to touch base, see how our days went, and share news. Last night, he wanted to spend that time listing his errands and being awful to me. He never asked, never cared what happened in my day. List, list, list, rude, rude, rude, goodnight, bye.

And I had news last night. I was excited to share it with him and discuss it. I was looking forward to that give and take. As it turned out, all he wanted was a verbal punching bag.

Right before my phone battery gave out, he apologized and started comparing talking to me to talking to his neighbor friend. Then go talk to your neighbor, bud. I've met him. You two can be rude to each other all night. Delightful.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What Do Teachers Teach?

I promise, this is not another rant about how ignorant some teachers seem to be. I'm just wondering....

Why do some teachers decide to teach?

That old saying, "Those who can, do, and those who can't, teach," doesn't hold true these days. Getting into teaching isn't easy. It's at least four years of college, plus your requirements for certification. I once looked into getting my teacher certification. It was going to take as much time as a Master's degree, so I went for the Master's instead.

And it doesn't pay the big bucks, so that's not a draw.

Some people just love kids, I'm sure. They love being with them and watching them learn. They care about quality assignments that spark higher order thinking. They are the ones you see getting awards from Disney and such. They see a kid struggling, they help. They gladly work with the parents, too, and get them involved in improving their child's education. Those are the ones who have a place in their hearts for "their" kids. Year after year, those kids come back to hug them and say "Thanks for making a difference."

Those are the ones who made the right career choice. Those are not the ones in the majority of schools where the majority of our kids are.

Or so I'm convinced.

Take this lovely piece of crap I'm dealing with right now, by way of a fine example. She has a 10-year-old student who slipped from A/B grades to C/D grades within three weeks. Three weeks. Three. Fifteen school days. At the beginning of the school year, she made sure the parents knew how much she looooved having their children in her class. "Ah believe in communication," she twanged. "Ah always keep mah parents informed."

Hooey.

This child's parents were shocked to see the three-week progress report. They worried and talked to the teacher about the change in their child. They worried and worked out a plan for getting work done to improve this child's grades and attitude. "Ah'll get that raht to you," twanged the teacher.

The progress report went home thirteen school days ago. The semester ends tomorrow. No work has gone home. The child's mother has all but begged that teacher to send home the work, to acknowledge their conversation in some way. She gets nothing.

I don't mean she got an answer to her messages that she didn't like. I mean the poor woman and her child are out in the cold. No response. Nothing. Like they don't exist.

The mother has even contacted the principal. Still nothing, and what's to be done?

I don't know, but I worry for that child. She's fully aware of her teacher's indifference. She's aware of the principal's indifference.

Not that he was a pillar of sensitivity in the first place. He's heard me holler often enough about his foolishly planned school activities, that inevitably alienate some of the kids. Things like "Twin Day" where they must pair up and dress just like their best friend. Or the 50s Day "Poodle Parade" where you must be wearing a poodle skirt to participate. Or a special assembly for kids who haven't been tardy -- as though getting their siblings ready and driving the car to school is in their control.

Nonetheless, she's aware. And sad. No one likes to feel that they aren't liked.

So, I have to wonder, why did this woman and that man get into teaching? Not for the kids' sakes. And I also have to wonder something more bothersome -- what have they taught this particular child?

Here Comes Ranting Santa, Here Comes Ranting Santa...."

A follow-up to my "Here Comes Secret Santa...." post:

My Secret Santa ROCKS.

The tchotchke spell of years past is officially broken! She totally gets me.

To be exactly accurate, they both do. I play the Secret Santa game in two circles. It's true that it's the thought that counts and both of these ladies really had me in mind. I'm very grateful to them both for going so out of their way for lil' ol' me. I hope the ladies I shopped for feel equally cared for!

Just a little bitty side rant here: This whole "should we say Christmas or Holiday" thing is stupid.

If you're talking to a Christian and want to be sensitive to that, or if you're the Christian and want to be sure everyone knows it, then say "Merry Christmas." Heck, paint it on the rooftop so Santa and every passing plane gets it, too. I don't care. And guess what? No one else does either.

It's just like if a Buddhist holds the door open for a Christian and gives a smiling, "Happy Holidays!" Are you honestly going to refuse that greeting because he didn't choose to say "Christmas"?

No reasonable person is going to throw your well-wishes back at you because you named a holiday they don't celebrate. In this world, we need all the well-wishes we can get, from whatever god or spirit wants to shine on us.

Saying "Happy Holidays" isn't offensive. It's considerate, and since when did our world need less of that? To say "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" is to not only acknowledge that we have more than one religion in the air, but we also have more than one holiday at the end of December. I don't mean more than one gift-giving holiday, but New Year's.

Besides, all of those rabid Christians out thereneed to take a closer look at the phrase they so vehemently oppose. "Holiday." "Holy Day." Are you honestly opposing the acknowledgement of a "Holy Day"? Idiots.

I get so sick of these people who claim to follow Christ, but can't manage to behave as Christ would have. Love one another. Go look it up in your Bible. Highlight it if you have to, but do something about honoring it. This contentious crap isn't helping anyone.

Okay, so it wasn't such a little bitty rant. Happy Holidays, y'all. ::wink::

Monday, December 19, 2005

Left turn, Clyde

Boyfriend and I went out to dinner Saturday night. It was rocky from the beginning. He was in one of his scowly, irritable tempers. The restaurant was crowded (i.e. plenty of opportunities for scowling). I said something that he decided was stupid, so I received a gritted-teeth scolding. Loudly.

I was understandably upset. And thought he was the one being stupid. And said so. Loudly. He apologized.

I was in no mood to deal with his cranky attitude. The "pickle" was occupying my head, too. I'm going to do something, but what? When? How? I can't deny that I was distracted. I finally spilled it and asked Boyfriend what he thought I should do. His reaction was certainly not what I expected.

"Wait. When did you see this guy?"
"Nearly two years ago, when we had that bad time." See, he doesn't like me to go into the particulars of that bad time. It makes him look quite terrible.
"You had dates then?"
"Of course I did. You knew that, but you also told me not to tell you if I had a date, just to let you know if it went further than that." Besides, did he honestly think I was going to sit at home, mooning over his assholeness? Get a grip.
He nodded, remembering that and thinking for a moment. Watching him, I could see his temper dissolving right there over the mashed potatoes.
"So, you had dates during that time? How many?"
I paused to scratch the info out of my memory. "Uhm...five. Well, six, but two were with the same guy."
His eyes went wide.
"Obviously," I said, "none of them worked out at all. What are you freaking out about?"
"I don't know. I've always said I knew guys hit on you all the time [note: they do not] and they'd want to go out with you. I just didn't realize...." he paused, looking upset, "...how close I was to losing you completely then."

I had nothing to say to this. It had been a bad, bad time. He'd let his life fall apart and tried to make me shoulder his responsibilities for him. I wasn't willing to drown in his poor decisions with him.

He was getting it back together at about the same time I was realizing that after six dates with five critically selfish men that no one understood me like he had, or cared about me like he had. And maybe, just maybe, that man was making his way back to the surface.

I got his viewpoint on the pickle. I'm forming an idea of what I'll do.

And I've shaken Boyfriend's world. He's so shaken that he didn't even care that the Colts lost yesterday. He always cares when the Colts lose.

At the end of the game, he called me.
"I'm sorry the Colts lost," I said, anticipating the topic.
"That's okay," said his depressed voice. "It's not important. What's important is that you know I love you, and that you know it every day. I'm where I am today because of you. And I didn't know how close I came to being without you forever."

I was nearly speechless. But I managed an utterly brilliant, "Okay."

"If you'd taken a shine to one of those guys, if just one of them had been good to you, I'd have been out of luck. I know you meet smart, clever guys every day. One of them will take a shine to you, and why wouldn't you be interested in that? I'm not giving you anything better."

He paused. I remained brilliance impaired.

"I have to get my act together. I have to make myself totally irreplaceable to you. I have to make sure you have no reason to be unhappy with me. I have to take care of you, like you take care of me."

I was understandably....shocked.

He's scared crapless of losing me. Not 12 hours before, his irritation at me had boiled over spectacularly, without any hint of caring what I thought or felt. Now, his world will collapse without me in it.

We'll see how persistent this turning-over-a-new-leaf attitude is. In the meantime, the pickle actually did me a favor.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Well, here's a fine pickle

Flashback to May 2004:

A friend of a friend sets me up with a friend. We meet and go out. He's obviously not the age the friend claimed, but I let that slide as the friend's mistake. This guy's problem is that all he seems to want to do is make out. All hands. He sends me an email shortly after that date, telling me how much he misses me and wants to see me again. His email is a Yahoo address, so I look up the name to see if there's a profile.

Oh yeah, there sure is. A few keywords jump off the screen at me:
"Married but Looking"
Member of the "Extramarital Affairs" and "Flashing" groups.
"I like women and sex, not necessarily in that order."

I was understandably upset.

No one told me he was married. What a total louse. Needless to say, I don't have those friends anymore.

Oh, and for what it might be worth to someone, he goes by Ash. Ash W.

(((Return from Flashback Land.)))

Tonight. I'm at my son's basketball game. I'm catching up with a friend whose son is friends with mine, but on the opposite team. My ex shows up and sits by me. It's going to be a long game.

Then, the game gets longer.

My friend is joined by a woman I don't know. She introduces us. Nice lady. She points out her son. I point out mine. The nice lady's husband sits down beside her.

Ash.

We don't make eye contact. Ever. I'm not sure what I'd have done if we had. Maybe stuck out my tongue. Then again, he might have found that encouraging. I was furious.

When the kids went to bed, I went to see if his profile is still posted. It is, and he's still claiming to be about 13 years younger than he is. As if, dude.

So, what to do? Nothing? An anonymous warning? Like a copy of the profile, addressed to her? It's scary that this guy is running around, bringing home God-knows-what to this poor woman. Or am I sticking my keyboard where it doesn't belong?

Yes, a fine pickle indeed. Dang small world.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Christmas tune....

....for a rant. Can you hear that sound, like something scraping across the floor? It's just me getting the soapbox in place.

Now, stepping up.

Ahem.

People. Are. Stupid.

Present company excluded, of course, so we're free to talk about the stupid people.

My most recently gathered evidence to back up my claim:


  • I asked a waiter for some hot cocoa and a glass of water. Waiter brings a glass of water and a package of powdered cocoa mix.

  • "American artist Pablo Picasso...."

  • "When did Sherlock Holmes publish his first mystery novel?"

  • "On September 11, 2002, three planes were hijacked...." (this one is actually from a history teacher.)

  • From an MBA student: "i wont email this week b-cuz i m studying 4 finals" (Oh good Lord, please don't let him email me again!)

  • "He came in 4rth place." (no, not a typo.)

  • "We are located on the High Planes of Texas."


I'm leaving out the many instances of "I'll be their" and "we'll have a party hear" that I've seen lately. Those are so numerous and painful that I just can't bear (bare? baer? bayer? beer?) to list them all. The point is still the same:

What the h-e-double-hockey-sticks has happened to the average IQ?

I see these mistakes made by professional business people and educators. We're talking about people who should KNOW better! And the mistakes I see on the evening news. I mean, that's out there for God and everyone to see! I can't tell you how many days went by that our local news show proudly displayed their new logo for a "Music Fesitval." Days!

Does no one employ editors anymore?

And why is it that I can write an email to ask someone more than one question, but all I get back is the answer to the last question I asked? Did I just not need to know the rest and someone forgot to tell me?

Think about it. How many times a week do you hear something on the news about someone doing something insanely stupid and it gets someone killed? I'm just so tired of dealing with people who just won't think. I make a clear distinction between "can't" and "won't."

Maybe in our age of convenience, we're expecting less of our brains. Or, more to the point, less of others' brains. So much is automated, with spell check and grammar check, that we just don't exercise as much gray matter. I've also noticed that an aversion to opening a book is spreading like an epidemic. I adore books, even work with books, so this is particularly alarming to me.

So, what's to be done?

A lot of people need to step up to the plate and hold to a higher standard, whenever possible. Catch a misspelling on the TV? Call or email and let them know! Someone, somewhere will get tired of hearing about it and make a change.

We need to monitor ourselves. If you know better, then just make sure you do better. That MBA guy above knows better. He's almost finished with an MBA, for pity sake. He can manage to look more like a literate person than his emails suggest!

We need to monitor education. If your child's teacher is giving the wrong info, say so. Go to the Principal if necessary. Your child deserves better.

We don't have to sit here and let our world sink into illiteracy.

You might be wondering what brought this on. I spoke to a teacher yesterday who couldn't understand why her exams were under fire for not meeting the state education requirements. They called for her exam to include a question in which "the student describes the impact personal decisions have on health, well-being, future employment, and family." What question did she create to meet this requirement?

"True/False: Snacks are not nutritious."

Oh good gravy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sing along! "It's the most stressful time of the year..."

First, let me say that my Secret Santa is really good at being a Secret Santa! Well, except the "Secret" part. I know who it is because I held the front door open for her today and saw the shopping bag with a gift inside. I couldn't see the gift, but the same shopping bag was delivered to me today, with my gift bag inside. Hmmm... ANYHOW, she's perfect. She's really made an effort to shop for stuff for me, specifically. It's great to know someone is thinking about you.

Good news: I'm about finished with Christmas shopping. Bad news: It's not even the 15th of the month and my budget is obliterated. eBay, here I come! That'll add about, oh, $4 to my pocket. I'm broker than broke and half a month to go. Bummer.

Life has thrown me a few more cherry pits, and I'm in desperate need of a sounding board. You know, someone who cares about you and your trials and wants to help you with that burden by listening and giving advice, if needed. Usually, that's a significant other. So, I talk to Boyfriend about what's on my head right now. He makes a vague comment or two then it's back to that ol' Toby Keith song.

You know the one. It goes:

"I wanna talk about ME!!!"

I'm not sure he even heard me, and he sure as H-E-double-hockey-sticks won't give it a second thought. It's all mine and mine alone to figure out.

Thanks for the support. Sweetie. You know, this isn't the person he used to be. What's more is that I said the exact same thing about my husband, right before seeking out a divorce lawyer.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Here Comes Secret Santa, Here Comes Secret Santa....

....Right Down Secret Santa Lane!

Yes, I play Secret Santa at the office. And man oh man, do I get into it!

I get that wish list and start making a list (and checking it twice!) of things I can match to this person's favorite things! I shop with them in mind. I don't spend a fortune, to be true. I'm on a budget, after all (like nearly everyone else!). But I bust my can to get something(s) that matches the list.

I mean, I put a lot of effort into making sure my Secret Santa list was full of all my likes and tastes, so the person drawing my name has a lot of options and ideas. I assume everyone else does the same. So, I try my little Christmas-loving (or should that be "Holiday-loving"?) heart out for them.

So, the big day comes and I send out my surprises for that person, through my Secret Santa Delivery Network. This is the thrill for me.

It's a good thing the receiving isn't what I look forward to because nearly every year, it's the same. I get any old bit of tchotchke they found at the dollar store or local garage sale.

Wait a minute, now. Hold up. I can hear a few gasps out there, those of you thinking, "This Blogget gal has some nerve! It's the thought that counts, not the price!"

Let me say, you're exactly right. About the "thought that counts" part, I mean. That's my point. I do not care how much something costs. I care that someone put the effort into finding something that suits me, that they thought of me while shopping. I filled out the paperwork, just like they did. I put thought into it...for what? So it can be stuffed into a purse with all the holiday receipts and cold-weather-runny-nose tissues, to be tossed out with the other Christmas litter? No, that's not really what I had in mind.

Just remember this, if you're in one of these Secret Santa things, too. Don't be a lame-ass Secret Santa who doesn't care whose name is on that paper you drew. It can make the difference between making someone's day, or being regifted.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sleigh bells ring...are you listenin'?

Ah, the holidays! Something new hit retailers this year -- the fear of the word "Christmas"! It seems, they are suddenly afraid that using the word "Christmas" alienates a larger portion of shoppers. Suddenly. How many years has it been used? And no one ever stopped at the doors of a retailer and said, "Oh no! It's a Christmas sale! I'm Jewish, so I can't go in and save like the Christians can!" Puhleeze. None of my Jewish relatives ever turned away from a good sale....

I've done my share of shopping online, finding all sorts of things that the people on my list didn't even know they needed! I still enjoy the in-store shopping, though. Nothing like making your decisions standing there, at the shelf, then happily lugging all of your great finds to the cashier, and try to do your own spur-of-the-moment analysis of which shopper ahead of you will be fastest through the line. Ah, the thrill of the chase!

So, I'm wandering the Target toy department, late on a Sunday. The kiss of death actually happened before I left home. I looked in the mirror and said, "Good enough. No one I know will be out anyhow." This statement caused the fabric of time and space to rip open and snatch this guy I used to know from whatever life he had, and deposit him in the same toy department, at the same time.

As he turned, I recognized him. It's been years, but he's still as cute as ever. Nice, warm, friendly smile. He saw me and his eyes lit up. "Hey! I thought you moved away!" No, I didn't. "I'm still here," I said brilliantly.

We talked for about 20 minutes. This guy and I have a common interest and he's come up with some interesting ideas on it. He wants to talk more about this, another time. I get his email address (today's version of "Can I get your number?") and find out he's gone back to school, too. Good for him. He's too sharp to let a good education pass him by.

And there I was in my oversized t-shirt and the leggings I only wear when I haven't done laundry. Crap. At least I was having a good hair day (for me).

So, I'll email him in a moment. I know this could be trouble. I have the he-tries-to-cheat-but-has-been-with-me-a-long-time boyfriend. I've warned him that even though life proves to me incessantly that I'm not "enough" for any man, I still hold onto the dream of being all that to someone. I've warned him that if such an option comes up before he can show me I'm enough for him, I might just take it.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though. The nice guy just wants to chat. He might not be interested in me personally anymore, but misses the work we once did together. It could be nothing more, and no problem.

We'll see. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Blogget "Effed Up" Jones

Time to bite the bullet and take the plunge. I'm about to show my most unflattering, insecure side...and I know it ain't pretty. But my head's full, my heart is heavy, and that's what a diary is for, eh?

I mentioned before that Boyfriend cheated on me, about a year and a half ago. I believe he tried before, years ago, with a woman he worked with. She was a pea-brain, though, and left messages for him on the voicemail we shared. "I'm sorry I can't see you tonight. I really wanted to." And so forth. He said nothing happened. I think it didn't happen because I got the messages first. She left town for long time, but when she returned, who did she call? Yeah, see? You're already smarter than she was.

Being cheated on is a really heavy blow, for more reasons than I can say. (And I can't say because rehashing it makes me relive it.) We were having a rocky time back then, but we'd been together for a really good date less than 48 hours before he slept with her. Later, I found out he'd been cultivating that relationship behind my back, even playing with her kid.

Long, infuriating story short: He and I decided to work it out. The healing probably would have gone much more quickly and much smoother if other incidents hadn't happened.

For instance, I found a profile he posted on an Internet dating site during our "rocky" time. His list of "favorites" there was pretty disgusting. I mean, how much of a lady do you have to be to spread 'em for the camera and post it on the Web? The most hurtful thing was that he used it as a forum for saying terrible things about me and our relationship -- and I might add, things he admits weren't true. He said later that he was just upset when he wrote it.

I should clue you in to something here. I'm really, REALLY good at finding things on the Internet. I'm also REALLY good at guessing his passwords. He's predictable that way, and I know him really well. For him to post at all was monumentally stupid. For me to break into it was easy. I changed the email addy and password long enough to hold it as proof, after he tried to deny it. Then, I deleted the account.

He also has a habit of flirting with other women, in front of me. Nothing says lovin' like watching your fella fawn after some cute thing hustling for tips. He's told me about women hitting on him and he tells them, "My girlfriend will kill you if we do anything."

Did you notice the problem there? I'm sure you did because we've alrady established that you're smart.

He doesn't say, "I love my girlfriend and don't want you." I've noticed, too. We're both smart, you and I.

So, you're wondering, hey Blogget, what's the draw with this guy? Here it is: I'm not an easy person to be with. I'm hard to match. It's not that I'm difficult, because I really do take care of my man like no one else will. But I also have other constraints and commitments in my life that make it hard to date and hang out like couples often do. It takes an understanding and patient person to tolerate the unpredictability.

Also, I'm bored with dim guys. Heck, I'm bored with some smart guys. I need witty reparte! I need conversations with meat to them! I need literacy (an alarmingly difficult attribute to find these days)! I need someone of substance. I'm a strong-willed woman of substance, a force to be reckoned with! He has to be able to take me. This guy can take me. And he likes to take care of me and be sweet to me.

I just don't know if he can be faithful to me.

A month ago, I found his profile on AdultFriendFinder.com. I broke into it (I told you this stuff was easy). Phrases burned my eyes.
"Email/Erotic chat only"
"No strings attached!"
"I'm bored to tears with my current relationship."

My heart sank. It still hasn't recovered. He let me down. Again. The disappointment and ache is palpable.

I confronted him. This time, he didn't do it out of being angry or upset. He was just horny. That's it. Just horny, and I wasn't good enough to talk to just then. Such a base and crude reason.

"I didn't realize you were 'bored to tears'," I said.
"Not really. I just wanted to try something different."
"Have I ever denied you? Ever turned you away?"
"No. Me being bored isn't your fault. I just haven't asked about some things."

I'm baffled at this. He knows some of my history. He knows I'm, to be completely honest with everyone here, pretty much insatiable.

So, I don't understand that whole thing. The need to post at all. The need to make it personal. The need to lie. And the ability to actually do all of it. That's what makes it hard to get over.

Last night, he called at 10:30 and I had to call him back. 15 minutes later, he's not answering. All night, he's not answering. What's the excuse this time? Fell asleep? Forgot the ringer?

No. He got drunk watching Monday Night Football and it put him out.

I'm sorry -- how old are we?

I'm getting sick of it all, and I have to wonder a few things. Can he redeem himself enough to be trusted again? HOW can he accomplish that? Will I ever accept what he says at face value?

When will it come crashing down again? And should I let him have that chance?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Ah! The Traditional Thanksgiving....Flu?

Another smashing Thankgiving has flown on by. Family. Turkey. Dressing. Sweet Potatoes. Pie.

And the stomach flu.

Luuuvvvlllyyy

Those trimmings aren't nearly as appetizing in reverse.

And where was my dear sweet love? They guy who says he can't do without me? His life is over if I'm not in it?

About 7 hours away. He had a good excuse, I suppose. Family, blah, blah, blah. So, when he hadn't heard from me that "luuuvvvlllyyy" morning, he finally called to find me barely coherent in a dehydration-induced stupor. I had to tell him I couldn't talk. I didn't have the energy to hold the phone any longer without losing consciousness.

Later that day, when I was more lucid due to the miracle that is Phenergan (and if you've taken it, you'll know what really says that I was MORE lucid on the stuff!), he says he's deathly worried about me and can't wait to get home. He's obligated to see an old friend that night, but he doesn't want to be out for long, so he can rest and get home to take care of me. What a sweetheart!

Flash forward to 1:30 AM: Ring goes my phone. I manage to swim out of my Phenergan-cradled sleep and grab it. On the other end is my boyfriend's slurry voice. He just got home and would like me to know it. He's been "good" (which apparently involves splitting pitchers of too-expensive beer at a place whose chief draw is skimpy-outfitted "lumberjack girls"), he wants me to know. I can't remember the end of the conversation because we both fell asleep.

At a more reasonable hour, I let him know I'm making arrangements to be able to see him that night. He says okay and he'll let me know when he's leaving town to head home.

[Insert the spinning clock face here, as the hours tick by.]

No word from Sweetie. It's early afternoon when I finally call and get an answer. His dad informs me Sweetie is asleep on the couch. "He'll head home tomorrow," he tells me.

Great. Thanks, Sweetie.

I'm understandably upset. Again. But too weak to be too agressive about it. Truth be told, I haven't talked about it with him yet. I'm even more weary of having to stick up for myself with this guy. What the hell is wrong with me that this is the best I get?

And he wonders why I don't feel important to him. Wow.

I finally decided to drag my ass out of bed on the third afternoon after coming down with the crud. A shower and fresh jammies and it's bedtime again. Heaven knows, I need a good night's sleep for work.

Monday, November 21, 2005

New blood!

The office has new blood! Usually, I'm not so insistent, but I wasn't about to let the testosterone in this place overrule common sense. With all of our personnel changes and problems, we're a bit behind in some areas. Heaven forbid we hire someone who can actually help!

Backstory: G the Backstabber tried some rather nasty shenanigans against me. Turns out, she does that to mask the fact that she has no effing idea what she's doing. Cut off his head to make yourself look tall -- that should be embroidered in a sampler for this woman. She even went to the trouble of documenting what I did "wrong" -- only to prove that she was incompetent and I wasn't.

The real story is long and astronomically frustrating, so I'll spare you and say it backfired. E actually asked A in my presence, "Why did we hire G again?"

To summarize: We were down one person due to OCD's departure. Truth be told, we were down two people, since G is an idiot.

Let the hiring process commence!

A whole new field of idiots comes out of the woodwork when a job posting goes out. My favorite had to be the one who created a GIGANTIC graphic as some horribly pretentious letterhead that covered half of the page. No exaggeration. HALF of the page! Then, the one-paragraph cover letter was set in tiny script font. Yeah, I wanna work with that one!

The required interviews droned on. In the end, we had four choices. Gee, which would you pick?

1. a guy who had the experience and required skills, plus the bonus skills.
2. a bubbly blonde girl who didn't meet the required experience, had some of the skills, and said she could learn the bonus skills.
3. a woman with lots of experience, but a padded resume, who asked for more money than the boss makes.
4. another bubbly blonde with the experience, but lacking skills.

Seems a no-brainer, yes? Sure, when you're thinking with a brain and not a less-rational appendage.

One of my brilliant coworkers actually said, out loud, in public, "1 sounds good, but I like 2 better because she's prettier."

No effing kidding. To quote one of my new favorites songs: "This time somebody's getting hurt." I mustered every drop of professional hard-ass I could find in me and pushed. The fact is, we need help. NOW. What if 2 can't learn the skills? I mean, G can't and has us pickled over it.

The boss doesn't want another pickle. 1 is here now and has been doing a smashing job ever since. Except that he talks ALL THE EFFING TIME! In my office. You'd think that would quit being fun after awhile, but then again....it's me .

Catch ya later, diary.
Blogget Jones

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Blogget's Home Away from Home (i.e. WORK)

The winds of change have swept my office! And they've turned things around in a good way for yours truly!

First of all, the personnel changes.

Y "The Short-Timer" is gone, as I mentioned previously. OCD is gone, too -- off to explore greener pastures.

Four new people have joined our disfunctional little family:

G of the "Intelligensia"
G is the newest one. I say "Intelligensia" not because I consider her among their number, but she certainly does. So many nice email discussions have come to a dead halt because she decided to respond in Latin or French, and it disgusted us into silence. We don't like show-offs.

In my experience with her, she has proven her incompetence repeatedly and persistently. For a kicker, she's also a liar and political maneuverer. She pulled a bunch of crap a couple of months ago, trying to take me down, but it all backfired in her face. See, I work above-board and within what I know my bosses will approve. Read: I cover my ass. She's an idiot. A Latin-French-speaking idiot.

B is cool
Really. He's a really smart, cool guy. Kinda cute, too. He's experiencing some bitter personal problems and they occasionally take him down for awhile, but he hangs in there. He's sharp and makes a good contribution, but doesn't buy the crap from The Powers That Be. Needs to wash his hair more often, but he's a good guy.

M is naive
M comes to us after retiring elsewhere, so he's used to being in administration. The Powers That Be have assigned such tasks to him, even though he's one of the new kids on this block. He's blind to the problems with The Powers That Be, and likes it that way.

A shake-up happened in our company, and one division was splintered and reassigned to other divisions. We got two new kids in our family because of that. They are:

T is for Tough Cookie
She's sharp as can be, knows the system inside out and upside down. She should be in the administration now, but they royally screwed her out of it. Didn't even buy her dinner first. It was an ambush. She's come through it gracefully, though. T certainly doesn't buy the crap doled out by The Powers That Be!

U has T's back
They used to work together in that defunct division. U witnessed the travesties that happened to T. They're in it together. She's a sharp one, too. She's caught on to what I've taught her quickly. She hasn't realized yet that (1) sound carries in our offices and (2) she talks REALLY LOUD on the phone.

There's been a division of duties in our area, too. E and A are still joined at the hip, but their offices are separated by a floor and they have equal amounts of authority over their new areas. I've emerged as a content expert, after finally being allowed to do more of what I do best. That's when G made her challenge at me, and lost. I think E would have fired her, to my absolute and total glee, but A is softer than that. Ho hum.

I've become Queen of the Conferences, too. I actually come back with proof that I learned something, and sometimes I'm presenting a paper there. They figure it's money well spent. Unlike G, who came back from spending the company's money to say, "I didn't get anything from it." Three whole days and you didn't manage to get ANYTHING from it?! WTF?!

I had a ten-page report on what I got from it. She's an idiot.

Back to the grindstone. More later.

Blogget Jones

The Dilemmas (Men) of Blogget Jones

Man, oh, man, time flies! I just noticed that it's been a loooooong time since I've updated my diary here. Apologies to anyone who was actually reading before! I'll do my best to catch you up and keep things current. Promise!

One thing at a time. Personal stuff, then work stuff later.

Personal stuff: Men. Mr. "I'm freaking out!" did eventually send me a message. Get this -- he asked why we ever fell out of touch. Can you believe that?! WTF is wrong with this guy? My response was short and not-so-sweet. I pretty much said it was because he couldn't handle it and I didn't push it, and I moved on. No more messages. Funny thing -- a curious Internet search revealed the possibility that he might have been married at the time, with kids. Great. What a jerk.

There was another brief jerk. All the things a girl loves to hear: "You're wonderful!" "You're beautiful!" "I can't wait to see you again!" Then...weeks of silence. Nothing. Finally, a message with a story I can't quite believe, but decide to leave alone. We make a date. It goes great. We make another. He stands me up. I get the story the next day -- another hard to swallow story. So, I do what I do best -- hit the Net. From that, I find out for sure that he's full of crap. This is the Information Age, people. Lies are easy to find. What a jerk.

Then there was the guy I met once, then he started text messaging me all the time. This guy barely knows me and he thinks it's a good idea to send me something that says just, "Booty Call!" all the time. He was shocked that I was insulted by that. Go figure. What a jerk.

Oh, then there's the guy I met for a lunch date once. He seemed into me, but he didn't impress me as my type at all. After lunch, he sends me an email that says, "I know you really wanted to kiss me. How about next time?" No, thanks. A couple of days later, I get an email from a woman I don't know. I'm one of about 20 recipients. She says she's engaged to this guy and found all of our names in his email address book. She wants us all to just be honest with her -- have any of us slept with him? Did any of us know about her? I wrote her back and said that I didn't know about her, but that I just had the one lunch with him and nothing more. No sex. She responded that it was good to hear that, but that at least 15 others had responded so far that they WERE sleeping with him and none of them knew about the others. I felt bad for her, and them. Wow, what a major jerk!

I have to backtrack here. Before all of these fine examples of manhood, I had been seeing the same guy for years. Then, he kinda fell apart and stopped managing his life. It fell to me, but that's not a grown-up relationship. So, we moved apart, but we still managed to see each other. I had dates with other guys and realized that these guys just couldn't love me like this other guy has, when things were good. He started working on getting his life back together. I finally give in totally one night. To make a long, really painful story short, 48 hours later, he gets drunk and sleeps with his neighbor.

NOTE: If you ever consider cheating on someone, be aware that the pain you'll inflict on them is profound and devastating. You just can't imagine the hurt and the torturous thoughts that they'll go through, possibly forever.

It's particularly bad when the one being cheated on has had others pull similar stunts in past relationships. The underlying feeling of being inadequate, or just "not enough," can be crippling emotionally. Cheating on them only reinforces and intensifies that feeling.

I found out about this because his behavior became strange with me. He later said it was guilt, not wanting to face me. I went to his place and this woman comes from another apartment, saying I don't have any reason to come by any more. She starts advancing on me, threatening. He about decks her, to stop her from coming near me, but lets her know that she'd have gotten her ass kicked by me if she'd followed that threat. I was in no mood for anyone's crap.

So, I heard the whole story. We went through a hard, hard week after that. He was saying he didn't realize that me being physically available to him meant that I was now emotionally available, too. He said he was drunk, and he wouldn't have done such a thing sober. He said he told her, right after it happened, that even if I left him forever, he wouldn't be with her. I was the woman he loved and nothing would change that.

Tell me, is it wrong for me to take pleasure in knowing he picked me over her, no matter what? See, she'd known him awhile. She knew he was in love with me. She'd been told by other neighbors to leave him be, that trying to take him from me would backfire on her. She persisted, anyhow. She wanted me to be mad enough to leave, so he'd go to her. It didn't happen that way. So, is it wrong for me to take pleasure in the idea that she sees him with me, and she knows she failed? It probably is, I know, but she isn't going to manipulate anyone while I'm around.

So, he and I decided to work on it. A few months later, I find that during our "off/on" time, he posted an Internet personals listing, saying some pretty mean things about me in it. That was hurtful, and I almost left. Maybe I'm too understanding, but figured that it was created during a time when things were rotten for us. He deleted it.

So, I live with the paranoia of having another incident, finding out about someone else. That's a daily struggle and I hate it. The problem is that I'll be just as paranoid about anyone else, forever. A couple of weeks ago, I found that he'd placed an ad at an "adult" site, for "erotic email" with someone out there. I confronted him. He said he was just horny that night and I wasn't available, and he didn't consider email as personal contact. It's faceless, after all, like reading porn.

I was understandably upset.

We've talked about it a lot since then. That day, I hated him for the first time ever. I was furious and hurt. I wanted to hurt him back. I told him that my relationships seem to prove again and again that I'm just not enough for the men in my life. I never have been. Even though I feel condemned to not being enough, I still hold to that ideal of having a relationship in which I am enough for that man, and he loves being with just me.

He said I *am* enough, that he was just being selfish and stupid. I'm not sure that's enough for me.

So, we are still together, but it's shaky. He knows that I am not sure it'll work out. He knows I don't trust him. He knows that, despite his reassurances, I feel inadequate. He knows that I need to feel that I'm better than adequate and that I'm loved enough to not hurt. He know that if I find someone who might be a chance at that type of love, I'll most likely take it.

He wants to be that person to me, but I just don't know if he has it in him. I wish he would. I've wished that for a long time because we're a great match otherwise. He keeps up with me intellectually, listens to me, supports me, and cares when it seems no one else does. But he also lets me down more than anyone else.

I went to a conference recently, and seemed to catch the eye of a colleague -- who lives half a continent away. I bumped into an old classmate last night, and seemed to catch a spark from him, too. So, what will happen? I just don't know. All I know is that I seem to find an ache in my chest no matter what solution I consider.

More on my work life later. I actually need to do some of it.... ;o)

Thanks for reading!
Blogget Jones