Thursday, August 28, 2008

Layers of my stress

At breakfast with Ranger this morning, I counted the layers of my stress. Wow, was that a bad idea. Now, it's all I'm thinking about.

Oh, and he added to it. Reluctantly, but still. His job has been going great. Promotions, etc. He expressed a concern the other day that the owner was sinking money into her other business and not this one. He was seeing important bills not being paid. Apparently, an hour after that conversation with me, he was told the store is closing. In a week. Great.

So, let's count that as Stress #1. On to Stress #2. I've mentioned that my office is now located in the VP's suite of offices. This is the Student Affairs office, where students come to ask questions, complain, and generally have meltdowns. From my corner of the world, I can't hear people coming in the door unless their drama continues into the office space. And that's okay with me. My work is not at all related to this department, and I have no clue how to help them.

The other day, the Assistant VP said something that bugged me. She came back from lunch early to find that the door to the suite was locked, and I was the only one there. Now, I didn't lock the door. The last person out for lunch locked it because no one was there. I got there a little while later, apparently, and left the door locked. I mean, I can't hear someone come in and I can't help them, anyhow.

So, anyhow, she said to me, "Now that you're in this office, you'll have to step up and come out here to help people when they come in. If you hear the door, you need to see who it is and say, 'How can I help you?' and see what you can do for them."

Uhm, step up? "How can I help you?" WTF?!?! I know nothing about what they do or the questions they answer. It's a different department. I don't work in their department and I didn't ask for my office to be put there.

One way or another, I need to address this with my boss. However, I'm thinking the best option is (as much as I hate it) to move me again. We have new offices in a new building, on the same hall as many professors I work with. It might be worth it to move again, rather than have a politically-damaging "discussion" with the Assistant VP.

Stress #3: My ex-husband is here, visiting. Got here this morning. I've had to act as his GPS on the phone for the last couple of hours, but I haven't had to see him yet. He'll be here until Sunday. I feel all my defenses up, looking for where the next ambush will happen. I cleaned the house and removed anything he likes to think should be his. There's a box in my closet now, with all these things hidden away.

Stress #4: Son is having oral surgery next week. The thing is that his first root canal of the year maxed out my dental plan and his dad's. We had $117 of coverage left. Anything beyond that comes out of my pocket and my ex's. Then, the second root canal happened. And now he needs a "crown lengthening" and all four wisdom teeth (which are impacted) removed. And another filling. I'm sooooo broke. For something like....forever.

Here's a good side note: Drama Queen was throwing a pout last night and my mother asked her what was wrong. She was upset about Son's surgery...but not for the reason you might think. "He's having surgery next week," she said. "But I don't know anyone else at school yet. He'll be gone and I won't have anyone to hang out with!" Isn't her unselfishness overwhelming?

Stress #5: I noticed son freaked out every time I went near his bathroom. And when his grandmother went near it. She saw him take something from there and hide it in his room. Now, he and I have established that his room is fair game. I can and will go looking if I feel a suspicion. The thing is that whenever I get that suspicious feeling, I always find something. Kind of like with Old BF.

So, I looked. Drama Queen is an artist, if I haven't mentioned that before. What I found were some very hardcore pornographic drawings by her, including one that was extremely disturbing in it's sexual violence and gore. Very upsetting. Very disturbing. I'm worried over these. I also found his wallet. With a condom in it. Now, the package is worn as though it's been there a long time. However, this is the wallet I bought for him in May, so that's the longest it could have been there.

I put the drawings in a locked portion of my desk. I took a Sharpie and marked a corner of the condom package. If I look later and find that mark is missing, then I know the one I found has been removed. Son has lately claimed to be "trying really hard" to start making smart choices, so we'll see how this goes.

I'm not going to confront anyone about these things until after my ex is gone (because his answer is "just cut it off"), and probably after Son's surgery. So, I have about a week to figure out what to do. I have to tread carefully. Son is rather volatile. DQ has a heavy influence on him. I really have to think this out. Obviously, nothing I've tried so far has gotten through to these kids. And what's coming from her head is really disturbing, and Son is keeping it around.

SO worried.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Is something in the air?

I don't know what weird kind of synchronicity is happening in the universe, but it started yesterday afternoon and I'd like it to quit.

In a work lull, I checked my home email. Lots of email, but one sender's name jumped out at me.


Do you all remember Karl from Florida? Adorable, sweet Karl who dropped off the face of the earth when he hit some stress? Now, months later, there's an email from him. Okay, so it's one of those silly forwarded "Here's what life was like for school kids in the 50s" kind of emails. It was fun, so I replied and said so. Not sure why I bothered. He didn't answer email months ago, why would he answer now? Moving on....

That's when a professor walked in my office and started asking questions. This is the guy who not only wants instructions, but wants me to watch him go through the entire project he's working on, just in case he has a question.

My cell phone starts ringing. I silence it, but sneak a glance at the caller ID. It's Karl. He actually leaves a voicemail. My curiosity is burning. The more this professor talks, the more fidgety I get. I listen patiently, but the back of my mind is screaming Go Away!

He finally does. The voicemail is sweet, about missing visiting with me and wanting to know how I am. Sounds like he was a little afraid I'd respond to the email with anger, or maybe not even at all.

I called him back. A lot has happened in his life. He's still looking for work out here, but it's more urgent now. His company is screwing him over. He's recently turned 50, but isn't nearly as excited as I am about 40. I told him he should be. What's really bugging him is that he just became (wait for it) a grandpa. Oh, he's not liking that word! But he sent me pics of himself and the baby, and Proud Grandpa is tattooed across his whole face now. He still hates Florida, though.

It was a lovely conversation. He actually called back later in the day, and we talked about dating. He's still frustrated with the high-maintenance types he finds there. "It's really tough to have a relationship with someone when they believe differently spiritually," he said. "Or they have different priorities. "

pause. "Or they don't like your music."

pause. "Or your truck."

I don't know where that last bit came from, but it cracked me up. It was said with such bitterness that I just knew he had a story to tell about some high-maintenance chick turning her nose up at his beloved truck. Too funny.

I called Ranger about mid-afternoon. He was on a break from work, but he wasn't chatty with me. I wondered if he was angry with me. "Nope," he said. That's about the extent of the conversation. His answers were "nope," "yup," and "okay." Very curt and pissy. But he said nothing was wrong. Isn't that one of those games women are supposed to play? He was better later, though, as if that conversation never happened.

I'm having trouble getting him to understand that I can't just go to his house after taking the kids to school, and lay in bed until it's time for him to go to work. My office is really public now, so any lateage is noticed. He's getting pissed about it, but I don't know what else I can do.

The day wore on and soon, I was sitting in bed with my laptop, in my jammies. I'd just talked to Ranger, who was drifting off to sleep and lamenting about wanting a weekend getaway with me. I was checking out the Gateway Canyons site when my text alert went off on my phone.

"How's things?" wrote Greg.

I told him, as best I can in a text. He's just gotten home and was headed to bed, but he thought of me and wanted to say so. Working three doubles in the coming days. It's rent time. When he stopped answering texts, I knew he'd drifted off, too.

Back to the laptop. I was checking an email message from a fellow Star Wars freak, and something popped up.

"There you are!" It said. It was South Carolina. No kidding. They're coming out of the woodwork, I swear!

"Hey," I said. "What's new with you?"

"Can I call you?" he asked. And so he did. His southern drawl was very soothing. We talked about cooking, work, kids, and dating. His kids are grown and he assures me it all gets better. He sounds about over his ex, although he has a wary toe in the dating pool. He's worried about the latest one he's been seeing because there's a sizable age difference.

Then, he made my night (note: that's sarcasm you hear): "I'm 48. You're...what? 42? 43?"

"I just turned 40, SC. Like three days ago."

Silence. "No way." And he giggled. He giggled!

"Yeah, really. 1968."

So, he went on with his story. But he stopped midstream. "You're being serious? You just turned 40?"

Okay, so what's the giggling about? I mean, he was incredulous. Lately, I've had about a half dozen people tell me, "Wow! No way you're old enough to have a nearly-17-year-old!" or "40? You can't be 40!" But then comes SC and completely bursts my bubble. Thanks, dude.

He told me several times how he can't wait to see me at the conference in November. He's a presenter, too. He laughed when I said I'd been talked into two presentations. Then he said he can't wait to see me. Again. His voice became very tender when we said goodbye. At 3:30 AM his time. What a sweet fella he can be.

Morning came way too early today. I'm dragging my sleepy butt into work and my phone rings.

"Hey," says Old BF. He sounds stressed.

"Hi. You all right?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," he said. "Just wanted to see how you are."

"Good. Working too much this week. How about you?"

"Just fine. I just wanted to call you and tell you to have a good day," he said. He paused. "Considering what day it is and all."

What day it is? What day it is? I'm at a loss. My birthday was three days ago. His is in March. His mom died in July, a few years ago.

"What day it is?" I finally asked out loud. I heard him sigh sadly at me. Simultaneously, my eyes find the calendar and rest on the date. Oh shit.

It would would been our 9th anniversary today.

Thanks for reminding me, pal.

"Oh," I manage. "Yeah. I remember."

That conversation ended awkwardly. He's been making an effort to let me know how depressed he is without me lately. I think I just caused another tailspin.

It's been 24 hours of reminders for me, of old pulling on the heart strings. Some are bittersweet, some I've found still have a little place in my heart. Some have not-so-little places. What an odd day.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Lordy, Lordy, I'm lovin' forty!

Oh, it was a glorious day! Ranger made a concentrated effort to make sure my 40th was perfection. It truly was.

Now, it had the potential to be a complete disaster. My sister called the day before. She was headed to the emergency room in horrendous pain. She said it was worse than labor. She just had that lap-band surgery about three weeks ago. So, we were worried. The ER sent her by ambulance to a urologist. She had a 1/4" kidney stone, backed up by a 1/2" kidney stone. They scheduled her for surgery Friday morning. It ended up taking 2 1/2 hours to break up the stones with a laser. She's doped up on pain meds, but much better now.

Friday morning, we got a call from the assisted living place where my aunt lives. She was going by ambulance to the hospital with chest pains. My folks headed there. Turns out, it was an esophageal spasm, which mimics heart-related chest pains. They delivered her back to her place, and all was well.

With all the commotion, I was running a little late Friday morning. I rushed downstairs at a little past Time To Go time and found Daughter scrambling eggs, happy as could be in her little world.
"Uhm, sweetie," I said. "Do you know it's 7:05?"

"WHAT?!" she said, wide-eyed. She looked at the not-yet-ready-for-prime-time eggs and said, "Would you mind packing my lunch for me?" Then, she grinned. I packed the lunch. She ate the eggs out of a travel cup on the way to school. Hey, at least she got a good breakfast!

I dropped her off and called Ranger, to let him know I'd been delayed. "No problem," he assured me. "I'm just getting in the shower. Come out here and we'll go."

Then, I called and lied to my mother. Okay, so I don't like doing that. I hate doing that. But I also completely despise the criticism I get for taking a day off and not spending it doing what SHE wants me to do. It's my 40th birthday, for pity sake. I'm not spending it cleaning house. So, I told her I'd be at the other campus, about 90 minutes away. With all the commotion, she and Dad decided to not work that day, and spend some time together. Cool.

Once I got to his place, Ranger and I got a little more off-schedule. He let me see some interesting packages he had in the corner of his room, all wrapped in pretty paper. I could look, but not touch. Interesting, indeed! Then, we relaxed and made love, and let our schedule get a little more off. Never even made it to the woods. It's just been too long since we had Alone Time!

Ranger told me the plans changed, though. No picnic. He was driving me down to Gateway, which is a pretty little resort town. He wanted to take me to lunch at a place where crossing the threshold means stepping back in time. An old-fashioned, 50s-style diner. Best burgers in the world, he swore. Complete with an authentic soda fountain, where you can get shakes, malts, and fizzes. He was like a kid, so excited to show this place to me.

So, we headed off to Gateway, through red-rock cliffs, gorgeous valleys, and lovely forests. Take a look at the picture here, and you'll see a good view of the road we drove. Glorious, yes? We listened to the radio (no mp3 players this time!) and talked. He pointed out some geological anomalies. I saw beautiful horse farms. It was all so pleasant and relaxing to me.

Except for one weird moment. We came across a bit of roadkill. A bobcat. Ranger was so saddened by that. He loves wild cats. He stopped the car and said, "Are you squeamish about things like that?" Now, I can watch autopsies all day. But a mutilated animal? Can't take it.

I watched in the mirror as he walked back to the bobcat and circled it, examining the mangled body. For a moment, I was afraid he was going to pick it up and put it in the car. He came back (empty-handed, thank God!) and said, "Looks to be about three years old. Beautiful markings. That's really too bad." And we were off again.

He told me about a little resort in Gateway, where he'd once considered working. He took me by there to show me the lovely setting. It's a fascinating place. Lots to do, like ATV tours, horseback riding, canoeing, fishing....or just relaxing in the hot tub on your private patio. Too fun!

Then, we headed to the diner. As we got close, Ranger started saying, "no, No, NO!" And then I saw it. A sign in the window that said, "FOR RENT."

It was closed. Not long closed, though. We looked in the windows. I saw the old soda counter. The juke box. The dishes were stacked on the counter, as though ready for service. An antique Harley was parked by the front window, with a leather jacket slung over it. Nothing had dust on it yet. No, it hadn't been closed long. But it was certainly closed.

Ranger about cried, I think.

We headed back to the resort and had lunch at their grill. Check this place out: Gateway Canyons Resort. A nice place with an international staff. Our waitress was Ukrainian and another waiter was South African. Their general store was well-stocked for the guests. The rooms have their own little kitchenettes, so they actually have produce and groceries available. I started thinking of what a nice getaway it would be some time. A little weekend away, for some peace and quiet. I've tucked that in the back of my mind, for future reference.

On the way home, we stopped at some historical markers along the way. I love doing that! No one has ever indulged my curiosity, though, and allowed me to check out these roadside markers. But Ranger does. He might even encourage me! Anyhow, my favorite was in Unaweep Canyon, and is pictured at the right. It's called Driggs Mansion and was built out here in the early 20th century by a wealthy New Yorker. You can read more about the history on page 5 of this document. The weird thing is that the Driggs family camped out at this spot for four years, while the construction was going on. Four years. Once the house was finished, they stayed in it a few weeks, then abandoned it. Go figure.

History is so odd. I love it.

We made it home and planned to have a celebration with my family Friday night. I headed to my house, which was empty and quiet for a few minutes. My folks had taken my kids shopping for me. When they got back, my mom whispered to me, "When you open your gifts, just keep in mind that Son was hungry when he was shopping." Son tends to pick out odd gifts, anyhow, so I couldn't wait to see what had happened this time!

I had my choice for dinner. Steak or chicken? I'm a Texan. I want steak. My dad grilled outside. We had red potato salad. And peas. I love peas.

Ranger picked up a birthday cake for me. His eyes literally sparkled when he showed it to me. An ice cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery, called "Midnight Delight." Chocolate goodness inside, covered in chocolate ganache. Oh. Wow.

We had seven people there for my birthday. We had eight slices of cake. Guess what I had for breakfast on Saturday? Oh yeah.

I stared opening presents. Daughter gave me a Star Wars book about Darth Vader and the Clone Wars soundtrack. And I saw what my mother meant about Son. He gave me cookbooks. Four of them. Ranger and my folks got me the same book. A Star Wars trivia book, with 2500 questions in it. Ranger also got me a beautiful glass heart and Star Wars movie posters.

Here's the thing about the posters. When I opened them, he told me they were first-run, theater-used posters of the original trilogy. He'd gotten them at that movie memorabilia store in Breckenridge. I was over the moon! What lovely collectibles! And he had to have spent a pretty penny on them. He was beyond tickled to have gotten them for me!

But I took a closer look later. They are reprints. Although they have the appropriate 1977, 1980, and 1983 copyrights on them, they also have little 1995 copyrights on them. They are not first-run, theater-used posters. But I don't have the heart to tell him. I feel sure he was cheated and lied to about these, but I think it would break my heart to burst his bubble. I love what he thought he was doing for me, and the reality of what they really are doesn't change that.

My parents told the story again of the day I was born. Or rather...the day before. It was a terrible rainy night, in El Paso, Texas. A rain storm like they hadn't seen in ages. My young parents (each age 20) and my uncle (Dad's little brother) had scraped together the money to buy steak for dinner. They were preparing it when it happened -- labor pains.

My dad braved the storm and reluctantly left his steak to take my mother to the hospital. In 1968, dads didn't go into the delivery room, so he decided to skip the waiting room and headed home, with steak on his mind. He braved the storm again, knowing my mother couldn't eat her portion, so there was more to be had.

But he'd also left his little brother home with the steaks. And my uncle figured he now had three portions to himself. And he did. They were gone by the time my dad got home.

So, he braved the rain storm again, so he'd be in the waiting room when they came to tell him I'd arrived. And he was. When I was born nearly 24 hours later. he still remembers how uncomfortable that couch was. My mom doesn't seem to care.

And so, at 5:32 pm on Friday, August 22nd, 2008, my thirties became a part of my history. Here's to new chapters ahead!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bad Blogget. Bad, Bad.

I've been a terrible blogger lately. Rub my nose in it and call me bad. I keep starting a new post, then something interrupts me. Like work. Pesky work. Can't they just pay me to blog? I am, determined to get a post to you, dear Diary!

Today is a significant day. Almost as significant as tomorrow. For today is the last day of my thirties.

Yessiree Bob, tomorrow I am officially a forty-something.

And I just can't wait!

Okay, no doubt some of you are now giving me the look I've been getting all week when I say that to people. You're looking at this screen as though I've sprouted a second head. But I mean it when I say I'm looking forward to the end of this era and the beginning of a new one.

See, I turned 30 in the middle of my divorce. I'd just re-entered the workforce in the Weirdest Job Ever. I'd end up laid off of that job after a buy-out from a company in Houston. The first guy I dated seriously (he proposed) couldn't stop meeting women online, then making dates with them in person. Then, I went to work as a technical writer for a health PPO. The lack of advancement there sent me back to school for my M.Ed. That was ROUGH. Two years of no sleep.

I also started dating Old BF at this time, and we all know the emotional rollercoaster he put me through. Cheating bastard. During the "off" times, there were other dates, many of whom turned out to be nothing but horndogs or lying married men. My ex has married twice and become increasingly more difficult to deal with. My son has had a very difficult adolescence. I've had a hysterectomy. And this move has been a tough one, even though it's been a good move in general.

So, it's been a rollercoaster, with more struggles that "ups," it seems. All my forty-something friends say the forties are great, so I'm looking forward to it.

My ex-husband is actually coming to see the kids next week. I'm sure I'll hear all the good ol' age jokes then. I don't get that. He's older than me, and he tries to insult me over my age. Well, I never said he was a bright man. He's more like...a Weeble.

But knock me over with a feather, he's coming to see the kids here. My daughter told him last week that she would not go see him in Houston. My son told him, "We'll see." In Teen-Speak, that means No. So, he's wobbling his way up here. The kids are excited. I'm...well, not looking forward to it. Ugh.

Work has been nothing less than insane for two weeks. It happens three times a year. The week before classes and the first week of classes just kill me. I work all the damn time. And you'd think that people with a PhD would be able to follow instructions, but they can't. Well, maybe they can. I think it's more that they just want me to do the work for them. Yeah. That'll happen.

Ranger is doing okay. No bouts of depression lately. Then again, no crisis lately. He seems to be handling all he needs to do all right, if a little slow for my liking. I mean, this stuff is urgent, but he's content to sit and wait. We'll see how that works out for him.

So, tomorrow is my birthday. Ranger has planned to take me on a picnic in the mountains. Something quiet, cool, and relaxed. That probably involves presents, chocolate cake, and getting laid in the woods. Happy Birthday to me!

Monday, August 11, 2008

My life, the Circus

It wasn't supposed to be a stressful weekend. My son and Drama Queen set off for their hiking trip in Wyoming on Thursday morning. At 4:30 Thursday morning, I would like to point out. Ugh. My brain doesn't function at 4:30 in the morning. Anywho, my folks decided to head in the same general direction later that day, to see where the hike was happening and explore Casper, Wyoming. So, my daughter and I were on our own for the weekend.

Thursday night, we went shopping. School supplies, school clothes, and dinner out. Great fun! Ranger called while we were out and about, and I was relieved when he said he was headed home. I'd been afraid he'd ask to meet up with us, and this was Mommy-Daughter time.

It was a successful, but exhausting, shopping trip. She just appreciates everything so much, which makes me feel good.

Friday night, Ranger took us to see "Mamma Mia!" Good movie. Really cute. It was great fun, and good to hear my daughter laughing out loud during it. During the mother-daughter scenes, she would reach over and hold my hand. So sweet. I had a couple of wonderful moments where she was holding my left hand and Ranger was holding my right. Very nice.

On the phone later that night, Ranger said. "I have an idea. Why don't you get up early tomorrow and come over here, and sneak into my bed for awhile?"

"Because I have a child here," I said. "I can't have her wake up and wonder where I am. She knows me being gone on a Saturday morning would be weird."

He whined, but relented. He respects that my kids come first, so he really had nothing to argue.

Saturday was a lazy day. The rest of the family was due home that evening. We had a couple of things we needed to do, like clean up the kitchen, do laundry, and work on the lesson Daughter had to teach in her youth class at church the next day. But 1:00 in the afternoon still found Daughter and I on the couch, with her head in my lap, still in our pajamas and watching junk TV.
About 2:00, we finally dragged our lazy butts into the kitchen and started cleaning.
Daughter started her laundry, then came and put her arms around me. "I'm not ready for everyone else to come home," she said. I felt the same. We'd had a couple of days of peace, the major sources of stress having left the house. Now, we braced ourselves for their return.

I know, it's a sad statement. She's truly happy when my folks and her brother are not around. I'm so sorry for that stress in her life.

We went out to dinner, just the two of us, one more time. My folks got home shortly after we did. They had a wonderful trip, which was nice for them. Now, we just had to wait and see what kind of mood Son would be in, after their trip. I was hoping it would be something meaningful to him, despite his horrendous attitude when they left.

My folks headed off to the church to wait for the buses to return. I remembered at the last moment that my son's hot water knob in his shower had broken off right before he left. I grabbed the replacement and headed upstairs, knowing he'd want a hot shower after three days of being in the dust.

Before he left, he'd had to shut the water off with a paid of pliers. So, I used the same pliers to turn the stump of the handle, to figure out the problem and how to fix it. Well, that was the wrong thing to do. A little turn and the water started running. Okay. Then the noise happened. A rushing noise. I reached to turn the water off and...


The handle and cover shot across the bathroom, followed by a GEYSER of water across the room. I mean, high-velocity scalding-hot water!

I was understandably upset.

I hollered for my daughter, telling her to call her grandpa quickly. She came around the corner and started screaming. She's not really good under pressure...but she called Grandpa and handed me the phone.

I think I impressed the urgency of the situation because he drove about 65 miles an hour on country roads to get home. His headlights hit the front yard, to reveal me on my knees in the grass, trying desperately to get the bolts off the water box cover, so I could get to the valve.
to shut off the water.

My daughter sat in the grass next to me, FREAKING THE HELL OUT because she could still hear rushing water coming from inside the house.

My mother hauled my hysterical daughter upstairs and gave her a job: get a trashcan and start bailing water from the tub into the sink and toilet.

When the water box wouldn't cooperate, my dad ran t the water heater and shut it off. That worked. Wish I'd thought of that sooner.

The tub drained and the bailing stopped. My daughter had a new job: get towels and start mopping up water. We discovered a space in the tile, which was allowing water to drain from the floor onto the ceiling of the laundry room below. It was dripping in there.

We stood there and surveyed the scene. Shit.

My mom went to pick up Son and Drama Queen. I called Ranger and told him what happened. He offered to help fix the faucet-knob thing. I relayed this to my Dad.

"I know how to replace a faucet," my dad said, seeming pissed I'd said anything. "I don't need Ranger's help for that."

I knew I was risking insulting his plumbing-manhood further, but I had to ask. "Well...then why are you saying we need a plumber to replace it?"

He blinked at me. "I guess we don't. But I have to go get the right parts and it's too late tonight for that." He still acted pissed that Ranger offered to help. I don't get that.

My mom walked in and said, "Watch out. The kids had a terrible time. Sounds like it was awful."

Oh. Great.

And in walked two very sullen, dirty, smelly teenagers. The point of how hard the pioneers had it seems to have been lost on them. They are pissed at people in their respective groups who did not do their share of the work. My son's left hand is swollen to where he doesn't have knuckles because each time he got distracted while pulling the handcart, this other kid would smash his hand. This was apparently a "game" the two of them devised, called Bloody Knuckles. What is wrong with teenage boys?

Two of the boys in Son's group regaled them at night with their incarceration stories. My son turned down their invitation to sneak off and go cow-tipping after everyone turned in.

"She said I couldn't go," he said, indicating Drama Queen. "The guys said I didn't have to tell her I went, but I figured she'd find out and be mad."

"No," said DQ. "I didn't say you couldn't go. I said you had a choice."

He shot a look at me. "Yeah, a choice. To piss you off or to not piss you off."

"It's your choice," she repeated.

I had to laugh. But I also wondered -- where had the adult leaders been for this??

We talked and laughed a little longer. They told us stories of things that happened on the hike. Son said his Texan-ness showed when they were warned about the rattlesnakes, and he said, "So, who has the shotgun?" The stares from the group told him that this was a distasteful idea to this bunch. Sounded reasonable to us!

I told them it was time to get DQ home. It was almost midnight. I waited for them to get everything gathered up for her to take home. They started hauling it to the car, but something was different. Son's demeanor towards me had changed, very suddenly. He was being downright hateful, slamming doors and deliberately doing rude things to me.

This didn't improve when we got home. It got worse. He was in my face, hurling insults. Their bad time was all my fault, he shouted. I should have listened to him when he didn't want to go. "Not like it's something you could do," he sneered at me. "We'd have to baby you through something like this. You can't take it."

That made me blow my cork. "Don't you dare think you know anything about what I can and cannot do. You've never made any attempt to understand the path I've walked in my life. Do not assume you know anything about what I've endured and overcome. It's more than you've ever had to deal with, and I keep going and I keep providing for you."

See, dear Diary, I haven't had a single day without pain since I was 15 years old. About 25 years now, it's bee a daily struggle to push through and keep doing what I have to do. Why? Because I wanted a normal life. Because I'm not a quitter. And once I had kids, it was because they needed me, and you can't just collapse on that.

So, I went on to tell him that all these privileges he has and takes for granted can and will go away, until he can behave with some respect and gratitude.

What did he say to that? "Whatever." And he walked away.

I could just cry, but I'm afraid it would give him satisfaction.

I'm at a loss. I don't know what to do. So far, he's been locked out of the house computer. He's asked me to take him to get snacks at fast food places. The answer is a firm no, but I don't think he's getting it. Still, I don't think these things are the solution, but I can't think of anything else.

Ranger's heart breaks for me, when he sees this happening to me. He wants to protect me, but he can't step between me and my own son.

Sunday morning, we got the geyser to a trickle through the faucet and turned on the hot water long enough for Daughter to shower. She was the only one going to church because she'd prepared a wonderful lesson for her class and was excited to give it. The rest of us would wait for the repair to be done.

We headed out the garage door to go to the hardware store. In the car, we pushed the button to close the garage and...nothing. We got back out of the car and investigated. Now, this door was fixed about a week ago, when it wouldn't open. $200 and it won't close now. A cable had snapped, causing a wheel to bend, and it was stuck.

We went back in the house and sulked.

Later, Mom and Dad decided to fix it. They ended up snapping other cables and bending the track, but the door is closed. And it'll stay that way for awhile. That's going to be a nice bill, I'm sure.

Sunday evening, the faucet was finally fixed. It turns out, the replacement I bought wouldn't have fit, anyhow. Our fixtures are too old and difficult to fit. Dad gave me the pieces and said, "Here, you might be able to return this." Uhm, I'm pretty sure Wal-mart wants all the parts of the package back, too....

My daughter hugs me a lot, and kisses me on the forehead. She is thinking what I'm thinking. We're remembering a couple of days and nights of peace, enjoying each other's company, and wishing for it again.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Relieving pain

So, the doctor has cleared me to "resume normal activity" on Monday. This means I go back to work in my office. :::sigh::: I'll miss working from my little laptop, on my comfy couch, with the kitchen only steps away. Amazingly enough, I've managed to not gain weight during the last three weeks away from the office buzz, which I'm pathetically proud of!

I tried to take it easy on Friday, and enjoy the last day to work at home. However, the last few days have not been all the restful. Son needs another root canal. He also needed to see a chiropractor about his back. Yep -- sixteen years old and he has back trouble.

Thank you, Texas Football.

As Son's back has started to hurt more, and he's walking more and more like an 80-year-old, a few things have come to light that I didn't know. Things his coaches in Texas told him he'd be punished for letting anyone know.

This particular back pain started four years ago. Four years ago! The coaches pushed him to lift more than his body was capable of handling, and he hurt himself. Through his first year of high school, the pushing continued, including threats if a boy complained, showed pain, or was injured. All of these were considered signs of weakness, and would not be tolerated.

I didn't know about all of this at the time. Son has been telling me more details lately of other things that went on. The most alarming story he's told me lately is about a large unmarked bottle of pills in the coaches' office. He says the pills were also large, and uncoated for faster absorption. Players with any pain were given these before a game, and 10 minutes later the pain was gone. They boys were told, "If anyone asks, we just gave you ibuprofen."

I don't know what my son was given and that scares me. How do things get so askew with these coaches? I don't get this!

But the issue in the present is Son's pain. I have a wonderful chiropractor, so I took him in for an assessment. They did a multitude of x-rays and scans that showed the misalignment of his hips, legs, and spine. I had no idea his range of motion was so restricted until I saw him in action during these tests. The results really surprised my son, and it seemed to shock him into taking his treatment seriously.

Having the chiropractor work on him freaked him out at first. He had trouble relaxing. So, the doctor had him do some breathing and it helped. When he heard his body popping, he was shocked by the sound. But then he stood up. He felt talled. He stood straight. He could move his neck. He could walk without stooping. Instant relief.

And his attitude has improved greatly since that day. He actually wants to help with school shopping. My son? Shopping? Never thought I'd see the day. He's been more cooperative and pleasant, too. All I can say

He and Drama Queen are leaving on a church-sponsored hiking trip next week. They are assigned to different groups on the trail, thank goodness. They must dress in pioneer clothing and hike a 14-mile stretch of pioneer trail in Wyoming, recreating a point in history. Some will actually pull handcarts on the trail, too. They each also have a name of someone who really make that trek, including their personal history.

It'll be a great experience, but not if he's in pain. Thursday, we made a step towards making sure he can have this experience.