Friday, November 30, 2007

It's. Really. Cold.

And I love it! Seems very weird that the town I left in Texas has a blanket of snow, and my new home in Colorado does not. We're promised some wet stuff soon and the ski resorts have high hopes for this weekend. But it's cold, and I'm enjoying my sweaters, fluffy coat, warm gloves, steaming cups of yummy things to drink, and my wood-burning stove. Yep, I'm a snow bunny :o) I might even get talked into trying snowboarding. We'll see.

Fella had a big game this week. Winning it meant getting top seed position in the final tournament and skipping the first round. Because of his habit of not calling lately, even when messages are left, I haven't been calling or texting, unless asked. However, with the information he laid on me on Saturday, I knew he'd leave the next contact to me, to see if I still wanted to talk to him. So, I texted my well-wishes for the game and said I'd like to hear about it. And I got a call the next day, not only about the game, but asking all about my week. If this weekend goes well, I might see about going up to see the last game of his season next week. Again...we'll see....

I sent Aspen an IM last week, but didn't get an answer back. I know he's busy at work, with people getting things fixed before the big snows hit up there. So, a couple of days later, I get a call. I answered and heard, "Do you forgive me?"
"For what?"
"Not answering your message. Forgive me?"
I laughed. "It's all right. I know you're busy. I'm not mad."
"Not mad? Really? Come on. I feel bad. Yell at me or something."
I laughed again. "No, really. I don't want to yell at you!"
He seemed surprised about this. We talked about Thanksgiving and family, and how insane his holiday was, being dragged to the mall by the estrogen side of his family, on Black Friday. By the time he asked about my holiday, I told him he didn't want to hear it.
"My holiday was quiet," I said.
He sighed and said, "I'm coming to your house next year."

South Carolina has been updating me on his ex's condition. They are still assessing the damage the small stroke caused. He says he sees the difference, but she doesn't seem to. She's home from the hospital, though. She's receiving physical therapy to assess physical effects. Time will tell on the cognitive effects, but right now she can't remember her children's names or where she works. Her sister is sitting with her for now. He's headed to another conference next week, in New Orleans.

I told him about my bummer Christmas plans. He asked all about where I'd be staying and how long I'd be there. In my wildest dreams, he'd meet me there and keep me company. But I have a lot of wild dreams....

Speaking of those Christmas plans -- I was going to stay with an old, dear friend there. However, my dear friend has flaked out on me.... See, Lubbock used to have a hockey team, until this season. She was a devoted fan....of one player in particular. He's gone to another minor team and will be playing in Denver the weekend after Christmas. So, she's ditching me to follow him to Denver. So, it'll be me, myself, and I, in a hotel for the week of Christmas, and what friends I can piece together to keep me company.

All because my ex is a spineless idiot and his new wife is a wicked bee-otch. And my best friend is a flake.

I did hear from a guy I have dated in the past, very casually. He's from Houston and talking about coming to Lubbock to take me out that week. How sweet :o) And Old BF wants to come see me, too. But that won't be good. Even if I wanted to see him and even if he made it there, he'd expect me to pay for everything because he's been in Dallas nearly four months and and can't manage to find a job. Any job. Oh bother....

To top it all off, I'm entering the time of the semester at work that I like to call....HELL. It's my job to set up all online courses for the next term. And teach faculty what they're supposed to do. Now, if everyone would just understand that I don't need any other projects....I'd be happy. Again with the wild dreams....

But it's payday :o) Hooray! It's Christmas shopping time! Check out the pic to the left -- someone added a red dot to the deer crossing sign near my house. And yes, we do see them among the houses! Gotta love it!

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I spoke with Fella's daughter this afternoon, about what she wants to do with her life. This is something we started last week, when she became depressed about where she is in her life. She has been offered the job that's two hours away, but she doesn't know if she wants to make that drive anymore. She is thinking about going to school and getting the degree she really wants, to do what she really wants. She was talking to me about bad bosses and changing careers for about a half-hour, then says, "Oh yeah, Dad's out running errands. You're supposed to call him on his cell phone. He has a new one, so he hears it now."

So, I do. We make plans for later. Dinner and a movie. We see the movie first -- "No Country for Old Men." If you don't want my opinion of it, then skip to the next paragraph now. Okay, still reading? Then I'm assuming it's okay to say....this movie bites the big one. No kidding. It's horrendously violent, with a "message" at the end that is incredibly depressing. And the ending is extremely bizarre. You know it's bad when the credits start rolling and someone in the dark says, "You have GOT to be kidding!"

We went to dinner and talked about a lot of things. We're particularly batting around this idea I've presented to my boss about taking our distance learning program beyond higher education and into the 7th-12th grade market. It needs more research, but is doable. At least, we think so. So does my boss. Now we have to research it thoroughly.

He tells me about the situation at his school, which has the potential to become very bad for him soon, with the resignation of his school's principal. In the past, I'd mentioned to him the possibility of working in a local school. I have a friend who can pull those strings. I refrained from mentioning it again. Good thing. This conversation took a left turn.

You know, I think we had one of those "hard conversations" he talked about a few weeks ago. He said we'd have to have a "hard conversation" about things he done that he's not proud of, if we decided to take this to the next level.

Well, I really don't get the feeling that the "next level" is in the foreseeable future, but for some reason he felt the need to have this conversation. For two hours. I knew something different was coming, I could see the left turn ahead, when he stared a little too intently into his water glass, nervously thumping the side of his glass with his fingers, and not looking up at me.

So, here's the thing that makes it hard, the thing he's not proud of. During his divorce, he took up with a woman he taught with. About a month into it, he realized she was a serious meth and cocaine addict. Instead of bailing, he decided he could, single-handedly, "fix her." Does that work, boys and girls? No. Never. He ended up dragged into the muck with her, culminating in their arrest for cocaine possession.

His case never went to trial, his records were sealed, because he agreed to a course of action that included counseling and random testing. But his personal and professional life went to Hell.

His ex used it as the basis for getting a restraining order, to keep him from contacting his then-11-year-old son. She tried to force the 19-year-old to follow suit, but he refused. She didn't speak to the son for nine months for that. Fella was in agony over not seeing his youngest son for about 6 months, and she willingly stopped speaking to the other son. I can't fathom that, really, but that's another topic.

He lost his teaching job. He taught on a reservation for a year because they were the only ones who would have him. He needed to be close to his family, so he took other, almost demeaning, jobs closer to them. He spent the next three years looking for that one school in Colorado who would give him a second chance. He screwed up, but he is a damn good teacher.

He told me about all the good interviews that went bad when they learned his history, the teaching positions that dried up because of "anonymous tips" from the school where his ex-wife works. Then, he told me about getting the call that gave him that break, literally while packing his moving truck to move from the home he couldn't keep. And the tears flowed again, when he talked about looking up from the back of the moving van to tell his father he would finally be teaching again, and holding onto him and his oldest son while they all cried in relief.

When the pause came, I told him that I really feel like most of us have things we'd rather not remember, but that it's what we do with it that matters. We have a choice. He nodded vigorously, but kept his eyes downcast.

Again, the Lord answers our prayers in unexpected ways. I have been praying that if Fella and I are meant to be closer, that He let me see this happen soon. Time will tell if "closer" is happening. When I left his house, he seemed reluctant to go in. He lingered with me. He kissed me twice, and said, "See you next time." I'm not sure he could have said anything more ambiguous.

But that's all right. I'll see how this settles out. I'm not sure what made him decide it was time for a hard conversation, as he calls it. When I left his house, I decided enough had been said about it all, so I left it alone. Did he want me to say more? And if so, what? I don't really know what else can be said. He might be waiting to see if I run away. We'll just have to see.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Things that make me smile today

We took advantage of the holiday this week and visited a nearby site. The falls and caves at Rifle, Colorado. It's also a State Park.

I'm testing out Blogger's new "Slideshow" feature and have added the pics I took of the falls and caves. Enjoy :o) It's a little gem here that I was really surprised to find. I'll have to revisit and take pics in the spring, when it's all green there, instead of winter brown. I've also added some funny pics from Fruita, Colorado, which is abut 10-15 miles away. They are all decked out for Christmas, including the giant concrete dinosaur that lives in the town square.

Traveling to the falls was good family time. I loved sitting outside one little cave, hearing my son point out things for his sister to look at and take pictures of. And there's no cell service in a texting. It was a beautiful thing!

And speaking of beautiful things.... I got a message from South Carolina this morning. I'd assumed his Thanksgiving was being spent at the hospital. I was wrong. He's cooking Thanksgiving dinner for his family today. He spent yesterday (and every Thanksgiving, apparently) with his daughter, helping to deliver 156 turkey dinners to those who otherwise wouldn't have one, and cooking four smoked turkeys and dressing for a women's shelter.


Between standing at the foot of the falls, seeing Christmas in quirky Fruita, Colorado, and talking to South Carolina, I'm having that holiday and family warm-fuzzy feeling today.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Just what a teenager needs....

My son goes to Grand Junction High School. Last Monday, they had a little disaster, to the tune or 250,000 gallons of water in the school. It took out the mechanical rooms in the basement, among other things. They had to shut down the school this week. Now, we hear they'll be shut down next week, too.

Next best thing to a snow day, to a teenager. No school. No days to make up. No snow to slow you down. And everyone else in town is working or in school.

Including your parents.

I'm scared shitless.

At least my son's girlfriend goes to another school, in a town 15 miles away. But it's still causing some problems in my household. Right now, I have this pouty, attitude-laden teenager wanting free-rein of the town.

The trouble is that he has a close friend who lives about a block away. This close friend is completely turned loose by his parents. I've given him rides in bad weather, picked him up at 10:30 at night on a dark country road, and given him a place to stay when he didn't want to sleep all weekend in an empty house. He's said many times that his father hates him, might still have a drug problem (for which he's been in prison for in the past), and his stepmother drinks too much.

Yet my son says this boy's life is better because he can do anything he wants, when he wants. And he's throwing a large pout tonight because I said no, when this friend called and wanted him to walk the three miles to Taco Bell with him, on Thanksgiving Day.

I pointed out to my son how often this boy wants to be at our house. He comes by often and stays for a long time. He's reluctant to leave and go home. So, dear son of mine, who envies what life?

Now, I have to find a way to keep these boys busy during the next week. Too much trouble is to be had by two 16-year-old boys with absolutely no supervision. The brainstorm is on....

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It's so not fair

I have a certain idea in my mind of how I want to be loved. I don't want to compromise it. I'm not talking a put-me-on-a-pedestal-and-shower-me-with-attention kind of thing. I want to be appreciated. I want what I give to be reciprocated.

So, I get this in an email today.

"A cool breeze just blew through the trees and blew some of the prettiest red leaves I've ever seen through the air that reflected in the morning sun in a beautiful display of God's handiwork. It made me think of your soft curls and how they shine so prettily in the sun. It made me miss you something fierce and want to thank the universe for granting me the company and affection of a woman as wonderful as you. You are wonder in motion, MoChroí. I love you."

It makes me want to cry. MoChroí. That's my nickname, meaning "my heart" in Gaelic. Who wrote that?

Old BF. The one who loves me like I want to be loved -- except for the fact he can't stop lying to me and trying to cheat on me. For eight years, he couldn't put a stop to that. To be loved by him, and to love him, is to be hurt by him. It makes me ache with how not fair that is.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A hard day across the board

7:30 this morning, I get a text from South Carolina. "The surgery is underway."

He went to Georgia yesterday, where ex's first surgery would be performed today. Kids (grown), SC, ex, and ex's sister all went. This is the most invasive of the two surgeries she needs. This is the one for which she updated her will and created a living will.

I texted back. "You're all in my thoughts and prayers today. Please let me know how it goes. Take good care."

About 6:00 this evening, I started wondering if not hearing from him was good news or bad news. I texted, "Thinking of you...hope it all went well today...take good care!"

About 7:30, I got a message back. "Didn't go so well...she had a small stroke during surgery...she's in ICU. I'm still at hospital. More tests tomorrow."

I know the kind of exhaustion they are experiencing right now. It's a bone-weariness that seeps into every cell of your mind, body, and soul. I hate that feeling, and I wish there was a way to alleviate it for him. But I'm 1800 miles away...all I can offer is support and a listening ear. So, it's what I offered.

On the lighter side....

I'm waiting in the drive-up line at the bank today when I become aware of eyes on me. I glance to my left and our eyes meet. "Please," his gaze says, "Kill me now." So, what did I do? Whipped out the camera phone to take pictures, as I got closer.

Here, folks, is the most pitiful soul in the world today (I'm so sorry the pictures suck so bad):

Poor fella. The collar is probably insult to injury....the look just screams "I've been neutered," doesn't it?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another weekend flies by....

...and just a few minor things to tell.

It's been an up-and-down week. I'm still behind on work from being out of town. So, I cleared my Friday, to catch up on work. I got to the office early and had no meetings scheduled until 2:30 in the afternoon. I settled in, fired up the iPod-dock-speakers, and went to work.

Thirty minutes later, the music dies, the computer shuts down, the teapot (love my herbal tea) stops simmering, and the lights go out. Power outage. Over the entire campus. After two hours of this, I head home. Even if I can't access campus resources, I can do work that doesn't require it. The power is up again at noon. Of my planned seven-hour catch-up session, I get two and a half hours. Crappety, crap, crap.

So, what did I learn? Technology work is great, until it's unplugged.

The votes are in and the new guy has a new name. [drum roll please] He will be henceforth called Aspen. Thanks to all who voted! This name won with 58% of the vote.

And Aspen has had a rotten week. We live off the Grand Mesa here. It's gorgeous up there, and covered in snow now. Aspen and his daughter, age 8 (I think), like to go up there and wander. She's the navigator. At any crossroads, she decides which way they turn. They ended up in Crested Butte once. This time, they got out and played in the snow a bunch. As they chased the setting sun off the Mesa, Aspen realized....somewhere in the vast white they were leaving behind was his company cell phone. With my phone number on it.

I got a quick IM from him on Monday, telling me what happened and that it would be a few days before he had a replacement phone. I didn't hear from him the rest of the week. Which was okay. I talked to Fella just as much, this past week, and I'd even texted him. But more on that later....

By Friday, though, I was concerned that I hadn't heard from anyone. I'd IMed with South Carolina, but he can't make my weekend interesting from there. Finally, Friday night, I hear Aspen's ringer coming from my purse.

"Oh, thank God!" he hollers when I answer. "I have a new phone but I didn't have your number! I went through the numbers in my last cell statement until I found it. And there you are!"

Okay, this guy actually problem-solved to find my number, and to find it now. He could have IMed me next week, but he didn't wait for that. He really wanted to talk to me. Now.

He's had a bit of a hitch in his life. His daughter stays with him on weekends (I know...makes us having alone time a little difficult...we'll work it out, if it goes that way). Last Wednesday, she calls him. "Daddy, guess what? Mommy gave me my Christmas present early!"
"Oh yeah? What's that?"
"A PUPPY!" He says his initial reaction was....oh, great. That makes four dogs in my house each weekend.
"What kind of puppy, honey?"
"A Scooby Doo puppy!"

Anyone remember what kind of dog ol' Scooby is? That's right. A Great Dane.

This is a purebred pup. So, think Marmaduke. Think HUGE. He now has three dogs and a pony in his house every weekend. He's hating his ex-wife about now. Not that it hurts my feelings any....

So, he's no fun this weekend. Well, to me. This is his Thanksgiving with his daughter. And he's looking at property in De Beque - 30 minutes away. Why do they want to move away from me?!

South Carolina told me the other day that this is the weekend his ex moves in. Her surgery is Tuesday. Her sister is also moving in. He's not thrilled. "It's not that I mind helping her," he said. "I don't. But...." Yeah, I know.

I still wanted to go out Saturday night. Don't be too disappointed in me, but I called Fella. Hadn't talked to him since Monday, even though I texted my frustration over the power outage. I called his cell and left a message. Two hours later, nothing. I was cruising through Target, rehearsing my kiss-off message to Fella, when it dawned on me to try his other number. I did. He answered.

"Hey there," I said. I didn't identify myself.
"Hey!" he answered, obviously happy to hear from me. This started a deluge of "What's up?" "What are you doing?" "What are you going to be doing?" and other questions about the answers I gave. I was a little baffled, to say the least.

I returned the questions, and he said, "We can go do something later if you want." We decided on a time when we'd meet at his house, then go to dinner.

When I got there, daughter was engrossed in her laptop on the couch. In her pajamas. Her employment situation has her very depressed. She just thought she'd be at a different point in her life at almost-30. We talked about what she wants to do, can do, and some options. I promised to help.

Fella picked up the paper and I saw him looking at the movie ads. We headed out for dinner and he cruised by the theater, wanting to see a movie together, too. Over dinner, we discussed more about his daughter's situation, what's going on with his son, what I do for a living and how I can expand it....etc. A great conversation. As I ate, I pushed the super-hot peppers in the dish to the side. Without a word, he'd spear them from my plate and ad them to his own.

We watched a movie at home and had a good time. Two things became apparent during the evening. First, he isn't getting my text messages. Second, he didn't get my earlier message. When we returned to the house, he picked up his cell and said, "Oh look! You called!" and laughed. It had been off the whole time. When I left, I wasn't sure he'd kiss me goodnight, partly because son was nearby. But he did. And didn't stop, until son's girlfriend came around, too. It was a good night.

Then the rollercoaster plummeted again. I called tonight to get daughter's email address. She answered, and sounded odd. She assumed I wanted to talk to her dad and gave him the phone. He sounded odd, too. So, I told him what I needed and she got back on the phone with the info. Then, back to her dad. He asked a little about what I'd found out, then said he had to get dinner on the table. "I'll talk to you...," he paused. "...another time." The bad vibe was palpable. Something was happening and I stepped in the middle of it. The entire conversation was plodding, stilted, and almost rude. Exactly what I'm sick of.

It's Thanksgiving break, and I'm thankful for the break.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"Guess what? So are you."

This post is for my loyal blog pals and anyone new who happens by, who needs a lift. Words to live by....

The song below is by a blues artist named Keb Mo. South Carolina introduced me to his music and I'm hooked! Love this. There's a link at the end to help anyone find it who wants to hear it.

I'm Amazing

Brother, I need to talk to you.
This might sound strange.
And you'll prob'ly think I'm crazy.
And I've lost my mind.

I'm amazing.
I'm incredible.
A miracle.
A dream come true.
I'm marvelous.
I'm beautiful.
Guess what?
So are you.

People, it's becoming clear.
I can feel it down in my soul.
I know that I am you,
And you are me.
And I'm grateful, for the simple things,
That we take for granted every day.

I can walk.
I can talk.
I can use my mind.

I'm amazing.
I'm incredible.
A miracle.
A dream come true.
I'm marvelous.
I'm beautiful.
Guess what?
So are you.

That don't mean we're better,
Than anyone or anything.
It's a call to come together,
And accept responsibility.

[modified chorus]
And be amazing.
You're a miracle.
A dream come true.
I'm marvelous.
I'm beautiful.
Guess what?
So are you.

Guess what?
So are you.

That's right.
So are you.

Listening to: Keb' Mo' - I'm Amazing
via FoxyTunes

It's not my job, but...

...some things you just can't ignore.

It's my job to teach the teachers. Hold their hands, if need be. Bring them into the world of education in the 21st century. To address the needs to the traditional and the non-traditional students out there, who need technology-delivered learning experiences.

Some of the more traditional among those teachers have trouble with this. I mean the really traditional.

By "traditional," I mean old. Really old.

Usually, they have tenure and you just can't get rid of them. They aren't throwing in the towel. Academia is a good gig for them. Set your own hours, dress how you like, and get paid (usually a lot).

It's up to their departments to decide what they can or can't teach. If I decide they're untrainable, they don't teach online.

I teach regular workshops to show faculty how to use our online course management system for teaching online. For those wondering, the system is WebCT. It's a giant in the industry and a royal pain in the ass. When I do presentations in which I have to mention it, I set a mouse-over to play the Imperial March from "Star Wars." I hate it. But it's a necessary evil on this campus.

I taught one of these workshops this week. It was a small group, which is fine by me. However, I was dreading one attendee. He's an elderly Math professor who demands a lot of individualized attention. He tends to head off in the system and do his own thing, then expects you to stop everything to help him out of the quicksand he's stuck in. Very annoying.

So, he's taking this workshop for the second time. Some people need refreshers, so it's not too unusual. I set up a "test course" for each attendee to play with, so they don't do anything that goes live. He already had a test course waiting, since he'd taken the workshop before. About five minutes into it, though, I noticed a problem. He seemed unusually lost, unable to find even the login screen.

His test course comes up, and he looks confounded. "You already put stuff in here," he said.

"No, that's just the work you did before," I said. The others were beginning to react, seeing their courses blank. Why didn't I give them stuff he got?

There's a blank look on his face.

"You know," I prompt him. "When we did the last workshop."

Nothing. He furrows his brow at me and starts muttering. He's sure I put that stuff in there.

Throughout the workshop, he accidentally closes his window or gets lost in the system. I spend a lot of time over his shoulder. The last 40 minutes of the workshop, he puts his head back and goes to sleep.

I'm worried. He literally has no memory of doing this before. The simple functions he followed before, he's not following now. Something is wrong.

I've discussed my concerns with my boss. This professor is still teaching the same classroom classes he always has, and doing well with them. He wants to learn the technology, but I'm not sure the faculties are there. But we don't want to discourage him from learning, but it's clear he won't teach online. Unfortunately, it's a sticky political situation because the man's wife is dominant on campus.

So, the best I can do is arrange for a student worker who knows the system well to be positioned beside him each time we have a workshop, to gently help with the his struggles.

But...I'm still worried about him. It's not my job to worry and I'm not a close personal friend or anything, but I can't help it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Your input is needed.....

I'm having an indecisive day. The new guy is just making his presence known, but I need to have a name for him. I've posted some ideas in the poll above, but if you have more suggestions, please email them to me at

I've stopped calling and texting Fella, and I've gotten spontaneous phone calls. Very "How are you?", "How was your weekend?", "How's your son?" Get off the fence, jackass. However, maybe he's read the blog? His promises to call are now, "I'll talk to you later." Dangit. I was all set to discuss the not calling problem, and he manages to fix it on his own. Phfft.

South Carolina has me hooked on a musician I didn't know about before the conference. Keb Mo. Dang, he's good. Somewhat James Taylor-ish, but more bluesy. Love it. Look it up! I'm hooked on a sweet song called "I'll Be Your Water." Wow. And "Shave Yo' Legs" cracks me up. Oh and, guess how South Carolina spent his evening? Smoking a dozen turkeys for a charity fundraiser a local women's group has for the holidays. Damn 1800 miles.

Okay, time to switch gears for a moment. I need some perspective on a situation with my son. This happened while I was out of town. My mom called one evening to tell me that my dear man-child had gotten into a fight. I mean, a knock-down-drag-out punchfest. He came away from it with a cut under one eye and a shiner.

I spoke with him. How did this happen? Where? When?

"It was after school, Mom. Off-campus. I couldn't help it. This kid has been a real ass, picking on my friend Cal. The last couple of days he decided to pick on me, too. He hit me today, but I told him I wouldn't fight on school grounds."

"So you met after school? Do you know how dangerous this is?"

"Yeah. This guy is little, Mom. Well, littler than me. But a real pain in the ass, threatening us all the time." (Should be noted here that my son is 6'2" and his friend Cal is taller.)

"What if he had a gun? Or knife? Or friends waiting for you?"

"But he didn't, Mom. It's okay. I couldn't NOT fight, Mom. I couldn't back down once he hit me."

Okay, so this argument apparently makes sense to the testosterone-dominated people in my life. The kid who started this didn't come to school for a couple of days, but my son doesn't know if it's because he was hurt or scared. He didn't stick around to see what damage he'd done after the fight. The kid hasn't bugged him or Cal again, and there have been no repercussions from school or other parents.

It still scares the living crap out of me, though, with all the "what if's".... Am I overreacting?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Taking inventory

In church Sunday, we had what's called the Primary Program. This is where the children, from age 3 to 11, put on a musical program instead of having speakers with sermons. I looked at their shining little faces and realized....this is the first year that I don't have a child up there. My daughter turned 12 this year, and moved on to the pre-teen/teenager group. I felt a twinge. That same twinge I get when I hold an adorable, cooing baby...until s/he starts fussing or smelling....

So, I sat there and took inventory of what's what.

My job is running me in circles, but is going well. I'm definitely needed here and made the right choice to come here. My old boss misses me, too. My skills definitely have value.

I need to get my Ph.D. studies back on track. I put it on hold for this job and should now get back to it. I still want to be Dr. Blogget.

My family is....well, they're about par. My folks are working again, which makes Dad happier than being at home. Being retired, he could pick a job that's 3/4 time. Mom has a difficult boss, but she's not on a career track and can jump to something else with no hesitation. Both of them need to release some control issues, especially Mom. They were very controlling parents, growing up. I'm not that way, and it bothers them.

My son is 16 with a vengeance. I worry about the level of selfishness I see in him. He wasn't raised to be that way. He lets people influence him negatively, instead of being the positive influence he could be. I pray every day for him to wake up and make a difference to others. He makes it so much harder than it has to be. He realized the other day that he's in the "real world" in a scant two-and-a-half years, and has no idea what he wants to do yet. Maybe that will help. He has so many talents, and needs to not waste them. He's frustrating me lately. I hope he finds a woman who makes him want to be a better man.

My daughter is 12 and a sparkling personality. I wish her dad could appreciate her for who she is, but he can't relate to her. I first fell in love with her name when I saw Madeline Kahn in movies. So, I suppose her personality followed suit. She is unique in all ways, and has a need to make it known. She's a classic beauty. She's taken up wearing these red and black striped gloves everywhere. The face of a Botticelli, topped by a main of black curls, with funky fashion sense. I hope the world is kind to her and she marries someone with a true appreciation of her free spirit.

I'm not hurting for men in my life....just ones that don't drive me insane.

My ex-husband has become someone I abhor. I never thought I'd hate him, but I often do. He doesn't know how much he lost over the summer, with his children. Selfishness destroys his life. I've had to tell him to not contact me except in writing. And his nasty wife, too. I don't need the onslaught of crap from them. I'll spend Christmas alone because of their shit.

Old BF calls several times a day (not that I answer several times a day). "I know I screwed up and lost the love of the only woman I care about," he proclaims. "But I'll win you back!" No, you won't. I gave you too many chances. I have you all I had. And I was never enough. Done with the lies and betrayal. Done being the only grown-up. Finito. I do help with advice about his little niece, whose mother drinks herself into unconsciousness daily. He's become the little girl's caretaker, but has no parenting model to follow. So, I help where I can and am willing to. Thank goodness he's in Texas, though. He found a pic on the conference Web site of me and South Carolina. "He looks into you," he said, jealous. So be it.

Fella. What else can I say? I did talk to him on Saturday. He's been very, very ill, and his daughter has it now. I stayed away, let him know I was doing my own thing. "Get better," I said. Did not talk to him again. If he gets his stuffy head on straight and calls this week, good. If not, fine. Something has snapped with me and I just don't want to worry about it anymore.

South Carolina. He's very sweet. We have a lot in common, and we work well together. Synergy. Sparks. But he's 1800 miles away and his life just got complicated. I can be a support, but that's all I can do right now. It might be that once a year, at this conference, we have a romantic interlude in our lives. We'll see what time and tide brings.

And there's a new one.... I need to think of a name for him. He works in the office for a "roofing company to the stars" in Aspen. Nice guy. Smart. Head full of useless trivia -- just like me. He has a little animal farm. The thing is that there are three traits that really turn me off with guys. Beards -- but all the men I've dated here have beards. And ponytails, and piercings. This fella has a long ponytail and an earring. But I enjoy him. So, maybe "rules" change.... We'll see how it pans out.

I have numerous friends, here and around the country. Some are close, some are professional, some are acquaintances, some are blog pals :o) and some just want to get in my knickers. Either way, I care about them and they care back. And that gives me peace.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Not sure what to think....

....and not worrying too much about it at the moment...although other moments drive me stinkin' bonkers. Another day in paradise. (did the sarcasm come through?)

Fella is seriously screwing things up. I talk to him on his way home on Monday. He's exhausted beyond belief. We're having a good conversation, and all of a sudden he says, "I'll call you back later. Okay?" I say ....okay.... and I know full well he won't call back later. And he doesn't. No one is surprised. I text on Tuesday morning, to wish good luck for the basketball game (they've had two games and one tournament so far, won the games and took 2nd in the tourney) and to say I'm a little worried about him being so worn out, so be careful. He calls Tuesday night. They won the game, but he's even more worn out and getting sick. Hoping it doesn't turn into bronchitis or pneumonia.

It should be noted here that he's been really cranky in both conversations. His physical state is really getting to him.

He gets to the canyon and says bye, and he'll call me the next day. Any bets on him calling? Anyone? Yeah, I wouldn't take that one either. No call Wednesday. I did text to say I hoped he was feeling okay. No call Thursday, even though I left a message. Any bets on hearing from him today? Now I'm getting cranky. I know, I know....he's probably sick. Have some patience. I just remember a couple of weeks ago, when he'd text "You up?" and such. You'd think he could do something.

I'm thinking my weekend is blown, one way or the other.

South Carolina and I had a chance to talk, in email, about our respective situations. The conversation was delayed because of a sudden need to dig up his banana trees and move them inside before the frost. Yep, banana trees.

He's a nice guy, but with some serious upheaval going on. I told him about Fella, including the fact that we do not have a physical relationship and that I feel he's really taking me for granted, although I've been quite involved with his family. And he told me about his situation. His crazy, effed-up situation.

His marriage fell apart because his wife had an affair. Sounds to me like he still hurts from it. "It makes me cringe," he said. I can understand that -- I know the pain of that betrayal all too well. However, his ex has recently been diagnosed with two brain aneurysms (he gave me all the medical terms, but this will suffice). This will require very serious surgical procedures. The first, and most invasive, will be on November 20th. She'll need help in recovering, and it's been decided she'll move back into his house and he'll be her caregiver.

"I know this is really effed up," he said in an IM to me. "And I'm sorry."

Danger, Will Robinson!

Yeah, I see all the red-flag possibilities, but what do I want from this after all? I mean, he's nearly two thousand miles away. We talked about that we each go to a lot of conferences, and this kind of thing has never happened before. He put it as, we have "synergy" on many levels. There's mutual trust, respect, and (of course) affection. We'll just have to ride it out and see what's what.

In the meantime, he wants to know all about my life, my family, my ups and downs. And I want to be a support to him in the upheaval he has going on. He's keeping me updated.

And he's sending me a banana tree.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

One of my top ten embarrassing moments....

So, instead of running around wondering what South Carolina thinks of me and our little fling, I decide to put all the cards on the table with him. I wrote him a good-sized email, explaining that what happened, happened. It wasn't something I normally do. I enjoy him a lot. BUT he doesn't have to worry about me pushing for more. I fully understand being 1800 miles away, but I'd like to maintain our friendship thus far and see what happens if and when we're together again.

It was a blunt email about a lot of things. I included some intimate details. Like: "It's been a very long time since I've shared my bed with a man," and "You're a sweet, gentle lover," and how much I enjoyed being surprised in the shower.

I hit Send. Soon, I have a reply. I hold my breath, not knowing what to expect. A kiss-off? A professing of devotion? Go away, slut? I open it. Here's what it said:

"Mr. [South Carolina] is out of office today...forwarding to his home email. Good day...Jane (Graduate Assistant)"

His. Assistant. Read. It.

Ohhhhhhh....fuckety, fuck, fuck, FUCK!

I never thought a real person would be handling his email, in his absence. We've only communicated via work email addies. I don't have another one for him. And now his ASSISTANT saw the intimate details of his trip, with me.

He's going to hate me forever.

I pick my head up from the desk and realize he must be warned. I start composing a text message. "So, I royally effed up. I sent you a personal email from...."

My phone is ringing.


"Hey." Oh, good Lord, it's him. Does he sound mad? It's hard to tell from one word.

Then, he starts laughing. "Don't freak out."

The deluge starts. "Oh my GOD! I'm so sorry! I had no idea your assistant would get that! I...."

"No, no," he's shushing me. "It's all right. Jane is a grad student. She doesn't read the emails. Just enough to see how to categorize it. She sent this straight to my phone. Don't worry."

"You're sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure," he's speaking softly, reassuringly. "I'm at the grocery store, but I just had to call you right now because I knew you'd be freaking out."

"Oh, I sure was!"

He's laughing again. "I thought so. When I saw it, I thought 'Blogget's going to freak' and I had to let you know it's okay. I'll write you back later. Okay?"

Yes, it was okay. Much, much better. But I'm still embarrassed as hell.

Monday, November 05, 2007

I really should learn.... expect the unexpected.

It's been a whole dang week of "unexpected." WARNING: Loooooong post ahead. I have a lot to say.

So, last week, I'm gearing up for this conference. There's a listserv for members of this organization. So, one of the newbies (first-year attendees) sends an email to the entire list, saying he's new and his flight gets in at such-and-such time, he's renting a car, and does anyone else need a ride to the conference hotel? That makes me think about dinner that night, for those arriving early. So, I add a post, saying what time I'm getting in and offering to pick up anyone from the airport, and asking about getting together an "early bird" dinner.

Newbie emails me about dinner. He's from South Carolina, so that's what I'll call him. He asks more about the people, the conference, the group. I've been going for five years and I'm now on the Board of Directors, so I offer to introduce him around. I tell him about last year's excursion into the heart of blues country. He's impressed with my taste in music. He gives me his messenger ID, and we start chatting even more. He tells me how much he enjoys our "banter" and getting to know me. We exchange pictures, for recognition sake. He tells me the most recent pic of me is the youngest-looking one. Nice. And he likes my hair. We say we'll meet up with our laptops and compare music collections. I'm such a geek....

"You know what I really want to do there?" he asks, in IMs.
"Find a place to dance. Like 70s and 80s music." Sounds very good to me.

Pause here for a poll: Anyone see this coming? Show of hands. Mmm-kay....those of you who raised your hand, you're a step ahead of where I was.

As I'm packing Tuesday night, I'm aware that Fella has not called me. He knows I'm leaving town for five days. No call. No text Wednesday morning. I know it's a busy week, though. And he's aware that I'm packing and getting out of town. Maybe he doesn't wish to disturb.....I don't know. I can guess all day and still not know. :::sigh:::

My Wednesday drive goes great, after I decide to change my windshield wipers. It's a beautiful drive, and I hope to post some pics later. I listen to my new favorite song about 84,000 times. It's "Into the Night" by Santana and Chad Kroeger. Lovely Latin beat. It's about a couple dancing all night. There's a line I love: "Spinning in circles, with the moon in our eyes/No room left to move in between you and I." Is that not just an effing turn-on of a line?

Headed into Ogden, everyone is delayed by rush hour traffic. A 30-minute trip becomes an hour-and-a-half. I get to the hotel and the huge group of about twenty people that I put together for dinner is already waiting. I hear a chorus of my name being shouted and hugs all around. What a feel-good moment! Two years ago, most of them did not know my name.

I rush to change clothes, and, if I may say so myself, I look smokin' hot. I love this blouse - deep purple, long length, empire waste, with stretchy gathers that cling to the curves of my well-endowed-ness, with a squared neckline that skirts along the cleavage. Just enough to tease and still be classy. I wear my new, shapely jeans. I pull my hair back loosely, with little curls around my face. It's a good night. And I can think of about half a dozen men in the group who I'm aiming to impress.

By the time everyone shows up for dinner, we have about 40 people in the back room of this microbrewery. Three of the men I'd like to impress are not there, including South Carolina. I called him to warn about the traffic and he was already stuck in it. I hear his southern drawl for the first time. Lovely. I tell him where we are, and he promises to make it.

I get to visit with my LSU pals more. You might remember that job fell through for me there.... Well, they can't stand the lady who got it, but their director is so bad that they say it's nothing short of Hell. My LSU guy-pal introduces me to people as, "This is Blogget. She came this close to being in Hell." The lady-pal from LSU says, "I love you and I wish you were there, but I'm so glad you're not stuck in a mess like we are." Everyone wants to know about Colorado. "Looks like Colorado is agreeing with you," my guy-pal from LSU tells me, smiling.

Soon enough, I look up and there he is. He's taller than I thought he'd be. A few more wrinkles around the eyes. He scans the room, his eyes stop on me, and his face lights up. I smile and wave, as he makes his way to the seat across from me. He sits down, still smiling and we introduce ourselves, although it's not necessary. I introduce him to the others at the table. He just keeps smiling at me, and acting a little nervous. The conversation flows around the big, big table again. He asks me who other people are, and I give him the stories.

When I look up again, I see my former bosses and a coworker (and my co-presenter at the conference -- I adore him!) coming in. They make their way to seats near us, and one former boss does something odd. I mean, this is Captain Germophobia. He never touches anyone. For anything. As he passes my chair, he stops. "It's so good to see you! Wow!" And he's rubbing my shoulders. He actually strokes my arms. WTF?!?! He finally moves along and I look at South Carolina. He winks at me and smiles. He thinks the guy is gay, I find out later.

South Carolina offers me a ride back, instead of walking. He's a little concerned that the group will wonder why I'm climbing into a car with someone they don't know well. Not to worry....we're a big happy group, very welcoming. There's really no "thinking bad" of anyone.

South Carolina, me, and my two LSU friends are standing in the lobby, shooting the breeze, when we look out the glass doors and a tall man is facing us with his arms open wide and an even wider grin on his face. He's a big Celt of a man. We holler his name (those who know him) and LSU lady and I get big hugs. This is our friend from New Jersey. It's about 9:30 and he's hungry. We go right back to the microbrewery, the five of us. South Carolina sits beside me. He's the only one at the table who isn't on the Board. Not bad company for a newbie ;o)

I show New Jersey some pics from my new home in Colorado. He wants to move, and says I'd understand if he sent me pics from Trenton. All too soon, it's last call (the place closes at 10:00!) and New Jersey orders another pint. The little waitress says, "First of all, you still have two in front of you. I can't bring another yet. And are you sure you want a third?" We bust out laughing. The Celt from New Jersey downs one of the pints in about one swallow, hands her the glass, and says, "I'm sure. "

Finally back at the hotel, South Carolina asks if I'm tired or if I still want to listen to some music. I've gone to the trouble of loading ALL of my CDs on my laptop. We are going to listen to it, by golly. We agree to meet at my room.

Lemme ask again: anyone see this coming? You're still a step ahead of me.

I answer the door and he asks if we're going to start a rumor, with him coming to my room. I tell him not to sweat it. We're all grown-ups here. We pick a genre on the laptop -- the 1940s. Music from WW II. The Andrews Sisters kick it off, and we talk about the music of that era. Even sang along. My room has two beds. I sit on one. He stretches out on the other, and listens. He looks at me.

"Did you change your hair from that last picture?" No, I didn't. It's longer, though.
"Is it a different perm or something?" No, this is all mine.
"Really?!" He gets up and stands in front of me, raising his hands to my curls. "May I?"
I nod and remove the clip. Gently, he runs his fingers through my curls, as though savoring them, massaging my scalp. It feels goooood.....

He withdraws and whispers, "Thank you," and sits beside me. He lays down beside where I'm sitting, listening to the music. We talk about the songs. He's tracing my hands with his fingers. It's cold in the room. He curls up close to me, tracing my arms, my back. Pulls me down beside him, to curl against my back. This is all happening very slowly, very gradually. He traces my side, my hip. I shift to a more comfortable spot, but not facing him. He puts his arm over me. My eyes are closed. I feel his beard on my cheek. It tickles and I move, but he moves, too. I feel his breath on my lips. A small movement and we're kissing. Light and soft, then firm and passionately.

Again, it's all very slow. What seems like an eternity later, we're still clothed, but obviously aroused. "I really didn't anticipate this happening," he said. I didn't either, honestly. I planned to be alluring, but not to this degree.

"Should we slow this down?" he asks quietly, his hand having strayed to a more intimate position. I shake my head. We have all of five days there, and the first one is almost over. He goes to his own room in the wee hours, saying he wants to sleep without worrying about waking me with his snoring.

And I've been dying from lack of action lately. Fella has let me know that no forward movement is happening with us for now. And I always play it "safe" in these situations, too. And this guy is from South Carolina, 1840 miles away.

We're scheduled for different activities the next day. I'm visiting BYU's independent study shop and attending my first Board meeting. Which goes swimmingly. I'm pegged for three committees. All day, South Carolina is texting me. "Having fun?" "When will you be back?" Captain Germophobia is sticking close to me. He probably asked about ten times, "So, you like your new job?" "So, you enjoy your new place?" So, I'm thinking, are you regretting letting me go? Haha! It's a good day. Again.

We have a reception Thursday night. South Carolina is waiting for me, dressed very sharp. He looks nice in a suit, sans tie and collar loose. Our entertainment is the Tap Dancing Grannies. What a HOOT!! These old folks are a scream! Oh, to be that spry at 86!

South Carolina is trying to maintain professional decorum in front of our colleagues. As we watch the performance, South Carolina presses his leg hard against mine under the table. He looks like he gets an important message on his phone and texts a reply. My phone vibrates. The important text was for me, to make me laugh.

We all wander down the road to a restaurant for dinner. We pack out the place. Food, drink, and merriment abound! South Carolina, Captain Germophobia, and I end up at a table together. We talk shop. We talk about personnel needs. Captain says, pointing at me, "We need to hire a new you, which is damn near impossible." I glance at South Carolina, who gives me a little grin. He's impressed with the reputation I have here.

We talk music. Lots of music. I confess my episode at TxDLA last year, when I flew home to see Nickelback and flew back to the conference, without missing a session. I realize that Captain is completely into what I'm saying. Wow, that feels a little creepy. I learn how old South Carolina is. He says he saw Elton John in concert in 5th grade, in 1971. He catches the twitch of my brow.

"What? Were you not born then?"
"Oh, I was...."
He looks relieved, until I say, "I was three." He shakes his head and laughs.

South Carolina agrees to do a shot with the group before some of us leave. It's Peppermint Schnapps and Tabasco sauce. Just a whiff of it about puts me out. We hit the streets to walk back. He gets a call. Someone has found a club having 80s night. Hot damn! We'll meet them there. As we pull up to the club, my new favorite song comes on and I lose my mind momentarily, dancing in my seat. He laughs. No room left to move in between you and I. Love it.

In the club, we figure out pretty quickly that something is amiss. I'm about 20 years older than the oldest person there. The songs start out as something we know. "Hey! It's the Eurythmics!"'s not. It's BOOM BOOM chicka chicka waaa waaa BOOM BOOM. Ugh. They hip-hopped the tunes of my high school days....

There's a lot of really dirty dancing going on. He leans to me and yells, "I wonder how many Mormon parents would go nuts seeing their kids doing this?!" I smile, realizing he doesn't know that I have Mormon parents who would be none too pleased at my behavior, either!

He's sipping a beer and we're wandering the crowd, looking for our friends. No where to be seen. As we move through the crowd (which looks a little rough), he's protective of me, keeping me close, making sure he has my hand at all times. We find a spot to watch the dance floor. I'm holding close to his back, and he's moving against me with the music. Then, we decide to go. Our friends were probably too old to be there, too!

By now, it's very late. Our conference sessions start in the morning. Back at the hotel, I go to my room and he goes to his. I start checking my email, and my phone rings. "Can I come down?"

He's there fast. I tell him to pick some music on the laptop. I need to spend 5 minutes in the shower to get the club stink off of me. It's in my hair, and I can't escape it. About the time I finish washing my hair, the lights go out. There's a tiny nightlight, with a soft little glow. I hear him. "Hey, can I join you? I need to rinse off, too." Deal. I've never showered in the dark, but it has it's rewards....

We fell asleep to the Beatles. And we slept together all night. I mean, literally slept. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy sharing my bed with a man, especially one who wants to touch me, be against me, hold me. In the wee hours, he woke and passion took hold. We slept a little more, and he went to his room to prepare for the day, before the others would be up to see him going from my door.

It should be noted at this point that I still hadn't heard a word from Fella.

During Friday's conference, we sat by each other when possible. We didn't go to all the same activities. Disaster struck at lunchtime, though. "I need to go back to my room," he said. Something was wrong. I checked later and something had made him sick. He got a prescription for Phenergan. Have you taken that stuff? Coma in a tiny little pill, I swear.

"Did you take a whole one?" I asked, alarmed. Yes, he had.
"I feel loopy," he said. "But it was such a tiny little pill!" He felt better, but couldn't shake the loopiness. He wanted to go to the 4:30 reception and 5:30 dinner. He said he could make it, in just a few moments.

Many moments passed. He didn't answer his phone. I started to worry. I went to his room. From the hall, I hear snoring. Loud. I knock. More snoring. I knock harder. He makes it to the door. "Hi! What time is it?" 5:00. "No way!" Yes, way. "I'll be right there, I promise. Thank you so much for looking for me! I'd have been pissed to wake up and it's 8:00!"

My room is beside the reception room. My other former boss, the lady boss, is standing there. She asks about South Carolina and I tell her what happened. "So, how long have you known each other?" she asks, fishing. Ah-ha. Someone has noticed. Was it the legs under the table? Being with each other whenever possible? The little looks and winks? I smile and give a vague answer.

He appears. Groggy, but there. Ready to eat something. But he's kinda punchy. Things are way too funny to him. But he's a social butterfly, anyhow, so he's fine. We get on a bus for the ride to the dinner and entertainment for the night. It's wonderful, delicious, fun. We are at a table with my former coworkers and the woman who got the LSU job instead of me. Dang, she's obnoxious and more than a little ignorant of the business she's in. Oh, my poor LSU friends!

My cell phone goes off. It's a call from home. Being a worried mama, I step outside to take it. My son got in a fight. He has a black eye and is saying he just couldn't back down. The phone beeps. They can leave a message. I'll deal with this first. I finally agree to talk about it when I get home. I check the message that came in. It's Fella. Wanting to "touch base" and see how things are going. I call him back. It's been a long week and will be a long weekend. He has a basketball tournament from 5:30 AM to 9:30 PM on Saturday. Double-elimination, so if they lose twice, he can go home earlier. He asks about the conference. Promise to talk Sunday. Drive careful. Bye.

I stand in the cold air for a moment, letting the humming in my head settle. South Carolina. Fella. Son in a fight. South Carolina and I have not talked at all about our personal situations. We're both divorced, with kids. His are grown. We haven't asked. We haven't told. What happens after this? No idea. We don't talk about that either.

So, with both men, I have no clue what's going on.

I hear movement inside. We're leaving. I get my stuff and we head back. South Carolina is feeling bad again. He needs more meds. I'm worried about him. We get back to the hotel, and he's looking a little green. I have to practice my presentation with my co-presenter. We say goodbye in the elevator and I say I'll call when we're finished, but for him to get to bed. Others are around, so we keep it quiet and inconspicuous.

My co-presenter is my former co-worker. We don't need much practicing, but we have lots to talk about what's been happening since I left. He's been about to BUST, wanting to tell me about it all. We also have that law suit in common. We do not want to be subpoenaed. It's a mess. My phone rings at about 11:00. It's old BF's ringer, though, and I don't answer. It proceeds to ring several more times before midnight. My dear old coworker is flabberghasted. That leads to a discussion of bad relationships. I haven't ever had such a great conversation with this co-worker, and he's a good friend. It's nearly 1 AM when he leaves.

I send a text to South Carolina instead of calling. He's bound to be in a Phenergan-induced coma, and he needs to sleep. I text and let him know we're done, but I don't wish to disturb him. See you in the morning.

My presentation is at 8:45 AM on Saturday. Ugh!! I get a text from South Carolina, saying he's at breakfast. I'm setting up. He comes to my presentation. It goes smashingly well. We go to the silent auction, and my momentary insanity takes over and I win everything I bid on! Except for the chocolate basket. I made a deal with a woman to stop bidding on something else and I'd leave the chocolate alone for her. Ah success!!

Saturday afternoon, South Carolina decides to take it easy and watch college football. It's his favorite thing. I promised my former bosses and coworker that I'd play tour guide for them in Salt Lake City. That saved us the $50 for the official tour the conference folks are taking. Besides that, there's a group looking for dancing for the evening and another looking for a good bar. In the dancing group, there's a young guy who seems taken with me. In the bar group, there are two really cool guys - one from North Dakota and the big Celt guy - who have been showing me a lot of attention. They all have my cell number and we'll figure out what's going on later.

I'm in downtown Salt Lake, and my phone goes off. South Carolina is texting to see if I'm having a good time. He calls, too. He's alone, watching football. He's supposed to tell me when he hears what's going on that night. Back to the tour, and we're having a ball. It was a great experience. Even Captain Germophobia liked it. My sweet co-worker watched out for me all day. I kept setting things down and almost leaving them! He'd pick it up and patiently hand it back. Sweet guy (but he has a girlfriend back home).

I get back to the hotel. My old co-workers and bosses are going to sleep, to leave early in the morning. So, we say our goodbyes. Hugs from everyone. Please come see us. We miss you. Thanks for doing the presentation. Captain hugs me tight, though. He holds on to me. "Call me if you need anything, okay?" I say okay, and it just is so different from how he's ever been with me. I think he really does miss me.

The official tour group isn't back yet. South Carolina isn't answering his phone. I try three times over two hours, and I'm getting pissed. WTF?!?! I give up. He's obviously out somewhere and not answering. The official tour gets back and my LSU pals call the big Celt guy. They're at a bar nearby that's having 70s night. Sounds good to me! About that time, my phone rings. It's South Carolina. He's at the same place and is about falling over himself to come pick me up. No, I'll ride with LSU. Thank you.

This is a funny little local watering hole. A bar area, smoky, with a room for a band, and a dance floor. They're playing "Hurt So Good" when I get there (I know -- not 70s, but I didn't point it out). We walk in and everyone is at some tables by the door. There's South Carolina. He turns and sees me, and all pretense of professional decor between us vanishes. He wraps me up in a big hug, keeping an arm around me. Half the table is singing to "Hurt So Good" and I join in. The young fella seems particularly impressed by this. They are all there -- the dancing people and the bar flies. And a good time is being had by all!

There's this one little blonde, though. I don't like her. She's snotty. And she is flirting with South Carolina. She's shooting me glares. She dances with him once. He dances a lot, though, with a couple of different ladies. He's a social butterfly, I tell ya. I dance with young fella and a local guy who asked. A reggae song comes on and South Carolina considers is. "Do you want to try to dance to this?" I say yes. Reggae can work well with a Latin step. So, we hit the dance floor.

I've watched him dance with the others. He's in a world of his own, with the music. There's no sense of distance because he's with his partner, but not really. She can do what she wants. He's into the music. This is the dance I think I'm in for.

He turns to me and takes my hands. We dance together. We're close. He twirls me, then brings me back close. Turns me behind him, and face-to-face again. He twirls me in close, holds both my hands in front of me, so we can move together, my back against his chest. No room left to move in between you and I.

The song ends. "That was good," he says. I agree, I haven't danced in a long time like that, but it was very nice.

He stands near me all evening, singing to me now and again when he knows the song. Funny thing, if he moves away from me and comes back to find another man talking to me, he stands close again. The little blonde is still trying to flirt with him. The band plays ZZ Top's "Tush." He's singing along, and runs a finger up my backside, as I'm leaning on a high table. I turn and smile at him, and he keeps singing.

I look at little blonde. Flirt all you want, little girl, but he's coming home with me tonight.

We're exhausted. We cash out the tab. We leave. He's so tired that I'm not sure he'll come to my room. He says he needs to take a few minutes in his room, and I figure he'll crash. My phone rings. "All right if I come down now?" Yes, of course. "Sure?" Yes.

When he walks in, he makes himself at home. "I'm so wiped out!" he says as he kicks off his shoes. "I might just crash on you." That's okay. I still need to shower, so I head that way. Soon, the lights go out again and he's in the warm water with me. I make it about relaxing him, running the washcloth gently over his skin. He almost falls asleep standing.

We dry off and climb into bed together. It's cozy and warm, and we're asleep very soon.

As daylight breaks, we're awake again. I've learned one of his quirks -- he can't climax in the mornings. But I make sure he gets as close as he can. "Oh my God," he says. "You're very good at that." Something to remember me by.

Later, we check out of the hotel and have lunch before I have to hit the road. We say goodbye as though we'll see each other soon. The kiss is small and undramatic.

What does it all mean? I don't know. Maybe nothing. Maybe nothing more than to let me know I can be attractive to someone other than Fella, who is working on really screwing things up with me.

I don't know why Fella calls sometimes and won't call other times. Tonight, we talked, but he abruptly said, "I'll call you back later," and that was it. No explanation. We all know he won't call. I don't know if I'll put out the effort to call him. I'm weary of this right now. He's taking so much energy, and his attitude hurts me. So, we'll see how it pans out.

I spoke with South Carolina last night, guiding him around downtown Salt Lake via the phone. We traded texts today, as he traveled. Maybe we'll chat again

So, an eventful conference. Not what I expected. And that just might have been a good thing.