Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Here comes the stress again....

Ranger is unemployed again.

He agreed to a wonderful job with an energy company, with benefits and all, that was due to start in another month. The company had to let someone in another job go and hired Ranger in his place, with the promise of the bigger job in a month's time.

So, he started this other job with them. They put him on a project that their corporate engineers have been unable to solve -- and he was to learn the job and solve the problem in a week's time. A little ridiculous, you say? Yeah, I say so, too.

But he was trying. Busting his ass. Then, the news reaches him that his promised job, the carrot they dangled, had been given to someone in the company who wanted to stop working in the field.

He spoke to his supervisor about this. Sure enough, the carrot no longer existed. "So, what am I doing here? Am I stuck in this other job forever?" he asked.

"Well, you have to solve that problem. Soon," the boss said.

"But what if I can't? I mean, your engineers can't even do it."

"You'd better. We're not going to pay you until it's done."

You heard right. They are not paying Ranger for the hours he's put in until this impossible problem is solved.

So, he quit. He's thinking of clerking at convenience stores now. And maybe working on his teaching credentials.

I'm making a concentrated effort to stay out of it. He's a big boy and can wear his own pants without my help! Unlike Old BF....

So, here we go again. I'm weary of it, but I'm being supportive and not letting him see that.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Can I just run away from home? Please?

I need another weekend. This one was way too rough.

I'm in a busy time at work and the stress has piled up. I have to move offices this week. This will be the fourth office space I've had in a year. I'm being displaced by people being displaced by construction. I'm moving into a space half the size of mine. And not nearly as quiet. But here's the thing....

I'm going to occupy my boss's office. He is the head of one of our satellite campuses, in another town, so he's only here once a week. He'll get a corner of "my" office. And I'll be in the middle of the suite of offices occupied by the Dean of Academic Affairs. The Dean's office will be, oh, about six inches from mine. I'm still deciding if it's a good or bad thing.

Anyhow, I ended the week absolutely exhausted. Ranger and I went out to dinner on Friday, then he headed home. He was getting sick. Sicker than I've been with the cold I got from Greg's Dr. Pepper. I could feel Ranger's fever coming on. I loaded him up with Vitamin C-rich juices and some cold medicine, and sent him on his way.

Ranger was a sick, sick fella all weekend. I barely spoke with him. I didn't call because I'd wake him, so I texted and he responded when he came out of his medicine-head fog. When I did hear from him, he mostly made "I feel so terrible" groans and moans. I'd tell him a little something, but he wouldn't really hear me before he was drifting out again. He spent the whole 48 hours sleeping, taking cold meds, and sleeping again.

And I missed him. Very much. I felt so disconnected from him. I asked what I could do to help, and he said, "Stay away so you don't catch this."

I spent Saturday in the most horrible mood ever. I mean, ever. Stormfront Blogget began to brew at 3 AM Saturday, when my doorbell rang. Yes, doorbell. At 3 AM. Mind you, I was beyond exhausted. I needed solid sleep. NEEDED. Craved it like a nympho craves....well, you get the idea. And the damn doorbell rings at 3 AM.

Not just one ring. No, no, no.... "dingy, dingy, dingy, dingy, ding!" And then what sounded like a truck sped away. I lay in bed thinking, this canNOT be good.

I don't have a peephole. I opened the door to see my yard covered in toilet paper and cotton balls. Shit. I'll have to clean that up in the morning. I went back to bed. Damn teenagers. I'm going to slaughter my son's friends.

About three hours later, my sister wakes me. (Yes, they're still visiting. Will it never end?) "Hey, Blogget. You gotta get up and help me clean. Our cars are covered in mustard and bologna. And yours has Kotex pads stuck to it."

You could hear the thunder of Stormfront Blogget moving in.

I put my "crazy hair" in a ponytail. Even the sweet memory of Greg stroking my curls and saying, "I love your crazy hair," didn't lighten my mood. It usually does. I put on last night's clothes, and hard-soled slippers. Then I stormed out to the driveway.

Slaughter was on my mind. I had a few names picked out, until I got to the end of the driveway. In ranch-dressing letters, it said, "Hey Gage!"

Stupid fuckers. Gage doesn't live here. He moved over a year ago. Were the Texas plates not a give-away? How about the window stickers from a high school they've never heard of? What a bunch of bungholes.

I picked bologna off the cars. Sprayed off the mustard. Sprayed off the ranch dressing. Did you know that stuff stains concrete? Then, I started to peel the Kotex off my paint job. And it left adhesive. Adhesive. All over my bright, pretty paint job. I'd worked hard to get a nice, new car two years ago. And some stupid-beyond-recognition, brain fart, dumbass teenager thinks it's funny to ruin it.

Thunder and lightning, I swear. A cloudburst was coming.

I had to pour Goo Gone on my car to try to loosen the adhesive. It didn't help a lot. I spent two hours rubbing and scrubbing to get that shit off. And the kicker was that my sister and my son thought it was funny.

"I really didn't need this today," I said.

"None of us did," my mother said, defensively. I just stared at her, unable to come up with a civil response. The thunderstorm brewed around my brain. I was looking at three people who had spent the week taking off time from work to run around to the mall, museums, downtown shopping, and driving around pretty scenery, while I worked 9-10 hours a day, missing lunch breaks, and still cleaned up the dinner mess for at least 10 people at home each night, by myself. Unless Ranger was there. He'd help me. Sometimes my daughter mops the floor. But was Mom effing serious? W. T. F. ?

I'd expended what energy I had on this, and was about to spawn tornadoes.

My phone went off with a text alert. It was so not a good time for Old BF to be on my case again. I snatched up the phone and saw, "Good morning." From Greg. "How are you?" he added.

He has a sixth sense for asking this just when I need to tell someone. I told him. "Who did it?" he asked. I told him what I knew. His response: "They suck. Kill 'em." I had to laugh, which felt good.

Stormfront Blogget lingered in my house all day. And into the night. Exhaustion, frustration, and a generally pissed off attitude combined into something Truly Foul.

I did have to laugh when my son and his cousins were horsing around and my son accidentally yanked the younger boy's finger, with explosive gaseous results. Yep, it was a "pull my finger" moment. As all the kids scattered from the stench, my younger nephew rolled in hysterics, and his brother yelled at my son, "Oh my GOD! NEVER, NEVER, pull his finger! I mean, NEVER!" Okay, so it's sophomoric, but damned hysterical!

Late Saturday night, my phone goes off again.

"Has your day gotten better?" Greg asks. I have to admit being a little touched that he remembered.

"Yes. Still in a bad mood, but calming down. Thanks for asking! How's your day?"

"Bad day, but I'm on my way home." I hate that he has to walk home most nights. It's dark and he's tired, and it's about a four mile walk.

But he's a little depressed that night. He's been thinking of everything he had that his soon-to-be-ex destroyed. Of all of his possessions, only one DVD survived. "I think God doesn't want me to have nice things," he said.

"I can't believe that," I said. "You've just had a hard time lately."

"My entire life!" he said. It's true. Nothing has ever been easy for him.

"Maybe this is what had to happen to wipe the old life clean, and start a new one, without all the crap."

Then we switched topics and chatted about his upcoming birthday. I've been encouraging him to do something for himself. I'm going to get a used set of golf clubs from a friend of his for him, and he's really pumped about it. "I want you to have exactly what you wish for this birthday," I said.

"Well, you're not here," he said. "Did you know you're the only one I've been with besides my wife?"

No, I didn't know that. Honestly, I'd thought otherwise. But he's been dropping hints about this lately, so I'm not too surprised. He'd mentioned that sex is very emotional for him, and not something he takes likely. He's opened up to me a lot more, since knowing someone else is in the picture.

We ended the conversation on that note, since it was time for sleep.

The next morning, I made the mistake of answering the phone. It was Old BF. He'd been going through his box of memorabilia from our years together. All the gushy love letters from before I knew he'd lie and cheat. When things seemed so open and possible for us.

"I want you to still be part of my ever after," he said. "I feel like I've lost my chance at 'happily ever after' and it's not fair."

"Not fair?" I said, incredulous. "Here the thing. I lost my happily ever after with you, too, but guess what? I didn't have a choice. It was taken away from me. You took it away. How fair was that?"

"I know," he said. "That wasn't fair on you, and I'm sorry."

"I'm glad you are, but it won't fix it. We've been through it too often," I said. My head started to hurt. "Listen, do I really have to go through this right now? Again?"

He decided to drop it. I laid in my bed, looking at the too-early sunlight coming through the window. It was hot. I kicked off my sheets. Still too hot. Someone had turned off the swamp cooler, which makes my room sweltering. I'd asked them to not do that.

Loud voices came from downstairs. Did no one understand the words, "I really need to sleep"? So, I went downstairs and reiterated that fact. But plans had already been made for me.

"I can't handle all the kids at church by myself," my mother said. I glowered. Why the hell not? I did exactly that last week. My sister was staying home. My father was sick. And two of the five kids weren't going. The ones who were going were well-behaved. However, to argue was to cause a maternal meltdown, so I gave in. What can I say? My backbone was worn out.

Two hours later, in the church parking lot, my son made a bad strategic move. He yelled at me. Through gritted teeth I informed him that even the slightest affront to me would result in him being confined to the house for the rest of the week. After, my mother pulled me aside.

"Well, we're in a bad mood, aren't we? Why are you being such a bitch?"

We have achieved cloudburst.

"My first problem is my teenager's mouth. Not putting up with it. And being a bitch? I've been telling you all morning that I'm so exhausted it hurts. I mean, real pain. And you haven't even heard me."

"You're always saying you're tired," she said, literally giving me a dismissive wave.

"Yeah, and you said the other day that it worried you," I said and she looked surprised, like she'd forgotten to be worried. "But when I'm telling you how bad it is now, it's like 'Who cares?'"

And that's all I had to say.

After the first hour's meeting at church, we made sure each child went to the right class. Then, Mom suggested we go get a soda. (Notice that? I said "soda." Not "coke." In Texas, all sodas are cokes. I'm adjusting!)

Over said soda, she explained that she feels like she almost lost my sister in her accident with the air pump. So, she's so overjoyed she's here that she gets carried away.

"I understand that," I said. "But do I have to disappear to you? Does she have to be the only one you listen to? Does she have to be allowed to turn everything upside down? She gets here and our routine disappears, and is replaced by hers."

"Her routine?" Mom asks. "What routine? I don't see where she has a routine."

"My point exactly. She has chaos, and now we do, too." And it's true. One day after their arrival, Ranger asked, "What happened to your house?" It's a complete wreck. I clean up the kitchen at night and the next afternoon it's destroyed. Piles of things everywhere, sticky messes, dirty dishes, laundry everywhere. My daughter hides out in my room during the day, where the other kids aren't allowed to tread. My son is working to stay out of the house.

My mother's response: "We just have one more week."

So, pray for me, dear Diary. Again.

Friday, June 20, 2008

It's a small, small world....


I had a most bizarre conversation with Old BF today. He was talking about his niece being tested for some problems she's having.

He said, "Her delayed speech reminds me of this little boy I met when I was still in Lubbock last summer. I think he was autistic."

And he proceeded to describe a little boy the same age as Greg's stepson. With the same name. With a mother with the same name as Greg's soon-to-be-ex. Who was separated from her husband at the time.

Did it give you the same chill I got?

But here's the thing. I've not heard about this woman from Old BF before. The only reason he ever neglected to tell me about a woman he met and hung out with was when he was actually sleeping with her....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

One less stress

Ranger found a job. Whew! One that really does suit his various skills. And it isn't in a cubie, which is even better. He needed something that kept him moving and learning, that combined his talents in technology and geology. And it has full benefits.

One great big huge sigh of relief here.

Now, I'll get to see if this obsessiveness is a reaction to stress or if it's real, for lack of a better term. I've wondered if he's gone into overdrive about us because everything else in his life has been in a tailspin. Last night, he talked again about coming on too strong and being afraid of scaring me off. We'll just wait and see.

One thing is for sure. I do not want to be exchanging vows in a month's time!

And I won't be pressured into it. I know he recognizes that he's pressuring me too much, but does that mean the pressure will let up? The thing he doesn't know about me yet is that pushing me, cornering me, just makes me plant my feet and become immovable. I'm too strong-willed. Hey, I'm a Leo....what do you expect?

It might become a moot point with this new job of his, though. He might not be in a position to take that time off. If that's the case, I'll be in Vegas on my own. Not an idea I like, but I have business to do there, anyhow.

On other fronts, I answered my phone yesterday and heard:

"I. Miss. You."

Very distinct and emphatic.

Now that Greg has a phone of his own, he texts me all the time. Occasionally, he calls. Like this call.

"I know," I said, and laughed a little. "I'll get back down there as soon as I can."

"Please do," he said. He asked, and I updated him on Ranger's situation. Greg updated me on his soon-to-be-ex's situation. He helps her financially, worrying that they (she, her mother, and occasionally her son) won't have food or air conditioning or transportation. He's managed to arrange to see the little boy when she does not have him. The child is living somewhere in Dallas now, so Greg goes there when he can swing it. After all, Greg is the only father-figure he's had in his short little life.

He also asked how I'm feeling, and laughed at me. See, I have a nasty cold. I caught it when I shared a soda with Greg at the movies. This is also how I learned he likes Dr. Pepper. I don't like Dr. Pepper much. It tastes like prunes.

It alarms me that Greg won't answer my questions about his health, but I'm trying to squelch that worry. What can I do about it, anyhow? I can't make him tell me. I can't make him go to the doctor. So, I breathe deep and hope for the best for him.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day

It was an excellent Father's Day. Last year, it was just my dad, my son, and I for Father's Day, since we were in the middle of the Big Move. This year was the polar opposite: My dad, my son, my daughter, me, my mom, my sister, two nephews, and a niece. My dad had a Father's Day with ALL of his grandchildren. What could be better?

Well...maybe peace and quiet....but that ain't gonna happen at my house for awhile....

We cooked pre-fabbed chicken cordon bleu for dinner, and had cake and ice cream.

And my ex? Son has been dodging his calls because he's tired of his dad's griping. Ex emailed me last week, wanting me to intervene and make him call back. I told him: "Wait....wouldn't that be controlling of me to make him call? You said I'm too controlling, so I'm really making an effort to change that. Besides, when I last tried to help you, I got screamed at. Son is almost 17. I think you two can work it out."

So, on Sunday, my ex had his stepson text Son. When Son responded, ex called him. The text told him Son was available and had his phone in-hand. Son talked to him for Father's Day, which was probably a good thing.

However, Daughter also tried to call him. She left a Father's Day message on his voicemail and asked him to call back. He did not.

He's burning bridges with her, and it breaks me heart for her. I don't understand why he's this way with her. She's spectacular, but he can't be bothered to even ask about her interests or react to her excitement over something. How much effort does that take?

I didn't tell you, dear Diary, what happened while we were in Salt Lake City. On our last night there, we went to this place called The Mayan Adventure. It's a restaurant that feels like a Disney Theme Park ride. You walk into this building that looks like a Mayan temple and are greeted by people in safari-type outfits, in an environment that looks like an expedition camp. They lead you through tunnels until it opens up to a large are with "ruins" on all sides, with three stories of tables nestled into them, and three-story cliffs with waterfalls and a pool. Every 15 minutes, the Mayan King and natives appear and do a show on the waterfalls. The natives are actually cliffdivers!

Pretty dang exciting, for a Sunday dinner!

They serve Mexican food, which is surprisingly inexpensive. My daughter is not an adventurous eater, and her dad rides her about trying something new. So, she did. She had poblano alfredo pasta. The whole dish was green.

She looked at it and said, "Dad's not going to believe I'm eating this." She took a photo with her phone and sent a message to him. After a long time of no response, during which her excitement over this whole experience was building, I suggested she go ahead and call him, to share it with him.

When he answered, she started chatting a mile a minute about all she was seeing and trying. She was so happy to be sharing it with him! It had been an overwhelming three days for her and she just let it pour out.

Now, I've probably not mentioned that my ex is in foodservice sales, supplying all a restaurant needs. One of his more annoying habits (and there are a number) is to check the sugar packets and silverware at restaurants to see who their supplier is.

When she slowed down and paused for his reaction to all of her news, I watched her listen to him. Her broad smile melted away, and she looked down at the table. "No, Daddy," she said, quietly. "There aren't any sugar packets on the table that I can check."

My heart broke, my temper boiled, and I wanted to cry and scream at the same time. She hung up the phone and whispered, "I hate it when he does that." I pushed my shock and sorrow out of sight and worked very hard to salvage that evening. She was smiling and laughing again by the time we left.

Come Father's Day, after a full week of being away at camp and not speaking to her dad, Daughter was happy to just leave a voicemail for him. She didn't try to call again.

Ranger came over for Father's Day dinner. I gave him a book and CD he wanted, and a sweet card. It meant the world to him. He'd talked to his son early in the day. His daughter called from camp while he was at my house. He's been tiptoeing around the "girlfriend" subject, not knowing how his daughter feels about it.

When he answered the phone, she could hear my household sounds in the background. "Where are you?" she asked.

"Having dinner at a friend's house," he said.

"Your girlfriend?" she asked. He hesitated, so she added: "It's okay, Dad. Mom told me about it. It's all right."

"I'm glad to hear that," he said.

"What's her name?" she asked.


"That's a cute name! I like that."

And they proceeded to talk about her camp and such, for about a half an hour. He was a little teary-eyed when he got off the phone. He loves his children so intensely.

At dusk, we sat on the porch and watched the sunset. The birds started coming out and diving through our yard.

"Are they getting bugs?" I asked, trying to figure out the activity.

"Yes," Ranger said. "But those aren't birds."

I looked harder. What on earth were they then? I gasped as it dawned on me.

Bats. We have bats.

Ranger once worked at Carlsbad Caverns. So, he stood at the edge of the porch and made a clicking sound. He was calling the bats. And it worked! They flew closer and closer to us. A baby bat flew right over our heads. "Stellaluna!" my niece exclaimed.

I watched Ranger with the children, showing them how to change their position to make the bats more curious about them and drawing them closer. We had kids all over the back lawn, with its huge slope down to the pond. Each child was in a different pose, with arms outstretched, gasping and oohing and ahhing as the bats flew overhead.

Their little faces were almost as delighted as Ranger's, standing among them with his own arms held skyward. My dad sat on the porch laughing at all their antics.

It was a good Father's Day in the Blogget household.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I'm just sayin'

Okay, I'm just going to lay this out on the table and see what thoughts occur.

Ranger now lives in the same town as me, so I see him on a daily basis. He's job-hunting, which is often a revealing process about a person. The first alarm bells I had with Old BF were when he was unemployed. I realized I was the one looking for the jobs. I even put in some of the applications. When I stopped, he tended to sit on his ass until the day before rent was due.

With Ranger, I'm not sticking my nose in the job hunt. I'm leaving it up to him to see how he handles it. I've learned from those past mistakes. He doesn't rule out almost any job, since he needs money coming in soon. The source just doesn't matter at this point. He can still look for his ideal situation, while getting a pay check from whatever will do for now. He's also selling his rock shop inventory to shops who need it, so that helps.

The thing is....often, when I call in the middle of the day, he's at home. Sometimes he's napping. Sometimes he's watching TV. Once a day, he looks at online job boards and applies for jobs online. He tends to not pursue job leads that someone else finds. My mother sent him some listings, and he finally applied for one of them, but they'd filled it.

He's very focused on me. "You're the only positive thing in my life right now," he says. So, he's surrounding himself with the positive. I visited his new (albeit temporary) home the other day. He gave me advance warning that he'd been decorating, and laughed. "You'll just have to see it," was all he said.

I walked in the door and literally jumped. One wall is covered with (yes, I counted) 29 8 x 10 and 9 4 x 6 pictures of me. All are pics he's taken of me himself, with my kids, with him, and on my own. It's a little intimidating to be confronted with a whole wall of yourself. He (thankfully) refrained from putting up the one he took of me coming out of the shower. I was wearing a towel, but still....

He's been applying a little pressure about Las Vegas. He says he just wants to make those commitments to me and he wants to be sure "no one can come between us." But at that point, we will have known each other a whopping four months. Last night, he acknowledged he was pressuring me too much and agreed to let up. He's a little frantic about this, though. Is it because he knows I still talk to Greg? And that Old BF pulled the guilt trip thing recently? I mean, his ex pulls that, too, and he still talks to her on a friendly basis often, but I'm not freaked out by it.

The Wall of Blogget caught me off-guard. I mean, he loves me like no one else has. We have such a synchronous relationship that we act on the other one's thoughts before those thoughts are even expressed. But...has this focus gone overboard? Should I be alarmed about the way the job hunt is going? And the pressure about Las Vegas really needs to stop.

I've been fighting these inklings of concern because I love him so much, but am I right to do that?

I sooo hate it when I do this to myself.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Layers of love in my life

Here's how the end of the week has played out.

Ranger met with a judge last Thursday morning. Of course, his recommendation is to plead "No Contest with stipulations," and pay the $500 fine. He wants Ranger to turn over his documentation of irregularities at the Park to the proper authorities. And he's investigating what happened to Ranger's $700.

But Ranger's panic over something screwy happening and being arrested again is unfounded. He's all right. That relieved a lot of the stress I'd heard in his voice last Wednesday. He sounded much better when he called Thursday morning. So, I'm relieved, too.

However, he did manage to set off his ex. He informed her (just after the stressful call to me on Wednesday) that should he be taken into custody again, he had signed Power of Attorney over his affairs to me. The actual act of doing that really caused his distress because he hates to put such a burden on me, but that was a separate issue. In a nutshell, his ex was pissed.

See, she would dearly love the opportunity to sell his rock shop inventory and keep the proceeds. So when she heard that I could actually be in a position to do the same, she lost it. "Fine, do that," she said. "And just make sure your children have nothing."

Yes, indeed. She's accusing yours truly, Blogget Jones, of greed equal to her own. And beyond. The only time she's spoken to me, I was offering all the strings I had available to pull to get her son home to her. I'm a Mom. I understood her worry.

So, that comment of hers didn't sit well, but go figure. Ranger almost didn't tell me because he was so afraid of how mad I'd be. But I handled it well! (Patting myself on the back.) All I did was call her a selfish bitch. And not even to her face. See? I was good!

Thursday, I had a last lunch at Friday's before heading to the airport. Greg apologized for wimping out the night before. I apologized for my tearful mood. He gave me a "don't be ridiculous" look and said, "Not your fault. You had too much coming at you at once."

I told him about the call I got after I went back to the hotel, that just made it worse. Old BF was pulling on me what Greg's ex had been pulling on him. "Come back to me! I need you! I can't handle my life without you!" Then, he pulled some guilt trips, and I was just too emotionally worn out to handle that. I didn't feel guilty, but I felt bad all the same.

Greg told me he'd made a decision about his ex, too. "I told her that I'll help her when I can financially, but there's nothing else. I don't even want her to talk to me. She wants me to sleep with her because she knows that if I give in to that, I'll give in to everything else."

He paused. "See, if I sleep with someone, it's too emotional for me." He threw a glance at me, and looked down. "I'm just not one to jump into bed with someone." That struck us both as funny.

"You're different," he said, smiling and putting an arm around me. "I wanted you so bad from the moment I saw you. I've never been that way about anyone else."

"Yeah, I remember the first time I saw you," I said, smiling. "I thought, wow, he's cute. But then you seemed indifferent to me, so I called Stella. But you corrected that perception."

"How so?"

"When you sat down and started talking to me. I realized you weren't so indifferent, and I'd just have to call Stella later."

He laughed. Having my affection and friendship seems to mean a lot to him. I learned a lot about Greg during this trip. He spoke more freely to me, more as a friend. He told me how much he enjoyed my company. He told me about his mother, who had him at sixteen. His real father deserted her, and Greg never knew him. She had three other children by the time he was seven. Then, she sent him to live with someone else, in another city. He tried to reconcile with her when he was 17, but it didn't work and he hasn't spoken to her since. "I still don't know why she didn't want me, but kept the other kids," he said. My heart broke for him.

The strange thing is that almost the same scenario happened to my own father. He was adopted by his aunt at the age of seven, leaving his four half-siblings with his mother. Odd coincidence, isn't it?

A friend came to meet me for lunch. We talked about Ranger when Greg was out of earshot. No reason to rub that in.

We also talked about Greg, and I quietly updated her on his chaos. And Greg visited frequently. At one point, we talked about his upcoming birthday. He'll be 29 this year, and I finally revealed my own age.

"I have a big birthday this year," I said.

"You'll be 30 this year!" Greg exclaimed.

I laughed. "Oh, you're very sweet," I said. "But no."

Greg furrowed his brow. "35?"

"Still sweet. But no."

His furrow got deeper. "36?"

I laughed again. "Yeah, the Big 3-6 you always here about."

He looked confused. "40? Are you going to be 40?"

I nodded. "You got it."

He was surprised. Bless him.

"When are you coming back?" he asked, and my friend wanted to know, too.

"I don't know," I said, honestly. "I have to go to Vegas in July...."

He turned to my friend. "It's my birthday and SHE is going to Vegas. Isn't that nice?" He was joking, but I realized that I actually do leave ON his birthday. Ranger and I leave, rather.

It was time for me to go. Greg put an arm around me again, but held me to him this time. "I can't give you a full hug or you might miss me too much." He winked.

With that, I headed home. A long day of traveling, and Ranger picked me up at the airport. I was so happy to see him that I started to cry. I wanted to drop my bags and run to him, but I'm sure that would be slightly alarming to the security people. He held me, kissed me, touched me like he just couldn't stand to have air between us. And I soaked up each moment. No one has ever loved me as completely as this man does.

The only person more overjoyed to see me was my daughter. She waited, sleeping in my soft bed. I walked in and watched her for a moment before she woke up. She was snuggled into my quilt (it was a chilly night at 42 degrees), surrounded by all the dolls and stuffed animals from our recent trip together.

My heart is indeed full.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The things that tie me in knots

"You know, you never see me on my last night here."

He grinned at that, and I was struck again by how beautiful his blue eyes are. "I know," he said. "I like that."

"You like that?"

"Yeah. It gives me a bit of mystery. Something for you to come back for."

I laughed at that. After the things we've done with each other in the past, you can't really say there's much mystery there.

Greg had just told me that he couldn't hang out with me tonight, as he'd promised earlier. He was feeling sick. Really sick.

But he doesn't like telling me no. "It's not like I don't want to," he said. "I mean, have you seen you today? I just need to go to sleep." He's studying my face.

"Stop worrying about me," he says and leaves to take care of another table.

Saying he's sick is an understatement. Something is very wrong. Every time he goes to the bathroom, it's full of blood. He told me yesterday that he has a hernia that he's never had fixed. But he has no insurance. He has no means of paying a doctor. He doesn't even have a regular doctor to go to. At the moment, he has no transportation to get to a doctor, either.

I'm worried. My worry face makes him worry about me. He puts a plate of fried green beans in front of me, and I take a bite. "That's what I like to see," he says. "Eat something and quit worrying about me." He sounds like my late Jewish mother-in-law.

He gets busy with other tables. I decided to call Ranger.

His voice broke as he answered the phone. He cleared his throat.

"What's wrong?" I asked immediately.

"Nothing," he said, too quietly.

"I know better. What's wrong?"

"This is just hard."

"What is?"

"I'm writing you a note to tell you what to do if the worst case scenario happens. And I'm emailing instructions to you, too. It's just hard to think about."

"What do you think will happen?"

See, Ranger has to go back to court tomorrow and settle this thing. He has to plead something to the "altering documents" charge. He's at a complete loss. And he's really afraid they'll change something else and arrest him again, and he'll find himself defenseless in jail again.

"I just don't know what they'll pull, okay? I don't trust them. And I don't like having to write these things, in case they do more to me." He paused. "If they put my in jail again, I'm giving you full Power of Attorney over my affairs. It's in this note, too."

That surprised me. He's leaving me full step-by-step instructions of how to access all that he has, and the power to make decisions with it. The full weight of what he is worried about hit me, and I began to worry, too.

Would they really do something like that to him? It's all been so ridiculous. It's all so unjust. I remembered the helpless feeling of not knowing what's happening. I started to be scared, too.

Ranger wanted to finish writing what he needed me to know, so he got off the phone. My eyes started burning. I felt panic rising. My breathing was faster. A lump formed in my throat.

"Are you all right?" Greg's bulky frame loomed over me, almost protectively. I looked up into his worry face.

I swallowed. "Oh, the good news keeps rolling in."

"What's going on?" His eyes seemed to burn right into mine. I looked down.

"It's a long story and I'm not sure you want to hear it."

"What's going on?" He said, biting at each word, his look of concern growing stronger.

"It's Ranger," I said. He nodded, telling me to go on. I gave him a quick synopsis of what had happened, up to that moment.

"That's complete bullshit," he said. I agreed. He looked up and another table needed him. I waved him on.

I thought about Ranger, in such turmoil at that exact moment. I watched Greg, knowing that something inside him was bleeding, badly, as I watched. I bit my lip and ducked into the bathroom. I stood in a stall and cried as silently as I could.

When I had it under control again, I returned to my table. Greg moved to a nearby table, but mouthed to me, "Are you all right?" I nodded. I lied.

He asked several more times. I lied then, too.

Embarrassing Moment #3,542

I'm staying in one of those extended stay hotels. Since I'm not staying a full week, I'm not supposed to get housekeeping service unless I ask for it. I can get all the towels I want at the desk, but maid service isn't supposed to come into my room unless I say so.

Did you catch the wording? "...supposed to..." and "unless I say so." You might guess, it didn't work that way.

I usually leave a tidy room with everything put away. However, I left in a rush this morning. I neglected to put something away. No biggie....I'm supposed to be the only one in here.

I get back this afternoon and there's a note on my counter. It says (verbatim):

"If you'll like your bed changed just let the front desk know. Make sure it free of any items.
Thank you.
PS: Have a great day!"

Any items? Oh God, no.

I looked past the counter to my bed.

Where my Friend Rabbit the Vibrator sat, in the open.

oh good golly

Monday, June 02, 2008

To Lubbock again....

I'm back in Lubbock at the moment -- a trip that was planned and paid for before I met Ranger. It's been a weird time. I don't know when I'll make it back here again, so it's kind of surreal, with a little panic about seeing everyone and everything this time.

So, what have I done while here? Gone to the movies three times with friends. I've seen "Indiana Jones" (no relation!) twice and "Sex and the City." Loved 'em both! But I won't launch into a review yet.

One of the friends I've spent time with is Greg. The chaos in his life continues, but he seems relieved and happy to see me. He told me his shift started at 12:00 on Sunday. I took my sweet time getting ready that day and got there about 12:25. He was waiting at the hostess stand.

"Hey, 12:25 is not 12:00!"

I shrugged. "Yes, I know. So?" I arched a brow at him.

He backed down and seated me. He brought me a drink and said, "So, I've had a hell morning already. My ex called and she's lost her job now. I bought her some groceries and gave her money for bills. The bar was a mess and I had to set up everything. And then I've been waiting for this really hot girl to show up, but she gets here nearly a half-hour late." And he grins.

Okay, so I wasn't so ticked about being scolded since he called me "hot" in the process. I'm a sucker.

However, I had to tell Greg about Ranger during this visit. At first, he just wanted to know his first name. Little by little, though, he has more questions. The kind of questions that intend to compare himself to Ranger. I'm not answering those. He's just gotta cut that out. I don't have any honest answers that he's going to like.

But I told him, I still think he's beautiful and I still have him in a corner of my heart. Our lives just don't work well together, as relationships go. But I can be his best friend ever.

And, apparently, you call your best friend at 7:30 AM when your soon-to-be-ex has thrown you out of her friend's apartment and you're walking him.

He'd responded to a call from her early this morning and got a ride to her friend's apartment. There, he found that she'd spent the grocery money he gave her on cocaine. An argument ensued. When that died down, mostly because she was too coked-out to get it, she and her coked-out friend wanted Greg to have sex with them. He said no. She kicked him out.

About an hour into the three-hour walk home, he decided to call me for help. I'm a sap. I picked him up and gave him a ride home. He wanted me to see where he's living, was just a lot earlier in the day than I'd planned!

He and his roomies have started a law-mowing business, too. So, he went off to his jobs and I went off to see "Sex and the City" with my friend. I spent the day doing that, checking on my old house (which STILL hasn't sold!), having lunch with another friend, and hanging out with yet another friend. A good day all-around!

Each of my friends has to tolerate me droning on about Ranger. I even brought some sappy pics of us! And the sweet card that was with my orchid plant. Yep, you heard that right -- I drag that sappy, romantic card around with me everywhere!

Greg called late in the afternoon to go to the movies. This is actually the first time we've been out together, doing something date-ish. Except now, it's not a date. And it might be the last time we go out like that, too. The irony is a little painful, actually.

Walking beside him, I'm struck by exactly how very tall he is. He makes me feel petite....and I'm nearly 5'10"!

Emotional and physical exhaustion was setting in, though, and he actually dozed off in the movie. He's seen it five times now, but loves it takes a lot for him to doze off in the middle of it! I nudged him to make sure he didn't snore. He dozed for about 25 minutes.

I've spoken to Ranger frequently while I'm here. He started the stop-gap job he found, but it's not going to work out. No one there is nice to anyone else. It's a very difficult environment....and just the kind that really hurts his heart to watch. He's already looking for a new position.

And I miss him desperately.