Friday, September 26, 2008

The first argument....

....has now occurred. And it's a doozy.

I actually started to write this post while it was going on. I was in a tailspin and came here to think it out. When I get upset, my hands and fingers go cold. They were freezing when I started writing, when the first disaster happened.

It started with Ranger's ex-wife. She got mad and wrote him an email, letting him have it for a lot of things. I was sitting there when he opened it. He uses his big HD screen as his monitor. His computer is integrated with his entertainment system. So, he sees it, the preview pane shows part of it, and my eyes come to rest on a particular sentence before he closed it.

"I know you slept with my friend Barb when we were first married...."

Okay, he's told me the story several times about how Barb hit on him, but he refused her and told his wife what her friend had done. So, this sentence stuck in my craw a bit.

Later, he told me he'd gone back and read the whole email. He was mad about it and read excerpts to me. One of them was that same sentence, but he changed it. He said, "And get this. She writes, 'I believe you slept with my friend Barb when we were first married....'"

I said, "Isn't that the same one you told me hit on you, but you said no?"

"Yes, the same one. I even told my ex about it and she got mad at me and didn't believe me."

Okay, so I checked the story again. But why would he change that sentence? I was sure that in the email she made a statement and didn't say "I believe you did this." I tucked it in my brain.

See, dear Diary, Ranger and I have had many discussions about my trust issues. Old BF lied about so many things, and it was when I caught him in a fudge that I'd find the rest of the iceberg. Ranger has reassured me so many times that he's an open book, that he'll always be honest with me. I've fallen into a very comfortable trust with him. My fears of something hidden have been going away, at least with him.

Anyhow, so Ranger got mad at his ex and responded to her email. He called and told me last night about his response. He answered line for line, disputing all of the fabrications and insults that were in it. He pointed out where she wasn't taking responsibility for the pain she caused him. He told her he was happy now. And he told her that enough was enough, that they needed to communicate in email only unless it was an emergency.

"I really stood up for myself," he told me. "You'd be so proud of me! I didn't let her get away with the stuff she usually does."

So, he sent it and his phone started ringing at 4:30 AM. And kept ringing. She's not leaving voicemails. "Oh, she's pissed!" he said. "But I told her email only, so I hope it's not an emergency!" I said she would have left a voicemail for that.

Later, I'm sitting at my desk, thinking about how he finally told her where she could stick it with this stuff. I understood that he also mentioned us. I was curious. So what did I do?

The thing I should know better than to do. I used the password information he gave me. He knew Old BF did this to prove his trustworthiness to me, so Ranger said, "But I mean it, where he didn't. I want you to go look whenever you want, so you know exactly what's going on, at any time. I'm completely open to you."

Why do guys do this? And why do I use it? It always bites both of us in the ass.

So, I read his message to her. Stupid, stupid Blogget.

He did change that statement she made when he read it to me. Why? Because he actually did sleep with her friend Barb. He admitted it in the response to her. No flirting then turning her away. He actually slept with her.

Why did he lie to me about it? I chased that around in my head for awhile. I kept coming up with the same thing. He lied to me. My extremities went cold. My chest hurt.

See, it's not the fact that he cheated once, twenty years ago, that bugs me. I won't judge that because I know I was a different person, in a different situation, twenty years ago. It's the lying to me about it that chaps my hide. Well, it does more than that. It hurts me. And it hits at all those bad feelings from Old BF -- all the lies I found out about by accident.

I texted him because he can't talk on the phone during the day. I told him that I knew, and how I felt. It took five texts, but I told him.

Soon, my phone rang. He heard my voice and said, "What's wrong, baby?"

"You haven't seen your texts," I said, the tears were spilling over already.

"No, I'm on the work phone. My cell is in the car. What is it, babe?"

I took a long, shaky breath. I told him I'd used the password and why. "I know about Barb," I said. "Why did you lie?"

He was quiet for a moment. When he spoke again, his voice was low and shaky, too. "I suppose in that respect, I haven't been honest with you," he said. "I have a customer. I have to go." And he hung up.

About two hours later, I get a text. It's Ranger, in a "Text to All." It says, "I'll be out of Grand Junction by tomorrow night."

WTF?!?! You can imagine that hit me hard on several levels. I don't get a reply to just me. I get a "text to all." And with no discussion about this, he's just leaving. Leaving.

I texted back. "Why?" Nothing.

I called. Nothing. I was getting panicked and furious. I called his work number. He answered, and I could hear the strain in his voice.

"Why?" I said. "Do you really care about me so much that I get a blanket text to everyone, telling us all that you're leaving me?"

"It's better that way," he said. This pissed me off even more. I looked at the clock. Nearly lunchtime. I could hear voices in the background. "Can I talk to you later?" he asked.

Then, I made a mistake. "Okay, but I'm headed your way," I said.

"I'll talk to you later," he said again and hung up.

See, my mistake was alerting him I was going there. When I got to the shop, his car was gone. I called his cell. "You're running from me?" I asked.

"You just need to forget about me," he said. "All I do is fuck things up, and you're better off without me." Sound familiar? That was his reaction when the child support thing happened. It pissed me off then and now. Why? Because who the hell does he think he is to tell me what's best for my life?

And I told him so.

"I just fuck things up," he said again.

"You haven't fucked it up yet," I said. "But if you want to keep running from me, you will. Yeah, I'm hurt that you didn't tell me the truth, but it's more hurtful that you won't even talk to me about it, that your first impulse is to run from me."

I heard dogs in the background. He was at home. I thought so...I'd already headed in that direction. What I feared was that he'd gather up his essentials and run to the middle of nowhere, where no one can find him. He knows how.

"I didn't tell you the truth when we first talked about it because I wanted to have a chance with you. You're great and I didn't want to lose you. Each time I've told the truth to someone else, they stop talking to me." He took a deep breath. "The thing is, I've been wanting to tell you the truth, but can't figure out how. It's really been on my mind. But that doesn't matter now. I should have known this would happen."

"What would happen?"

"That you'd find out I cheated before and be mad at me, like you are."

"No, that's not the case," I said. "I'm not upset that you slept with her. I'm upset that you didn't tell me the truth."

But he wasn't listening. He kept repeating that I was judging what he'd done. "I'm ashamed of it as it is, and no one will let me forget it." So, I repeated myself. Several times.

Then something dreadful happened. He dropped his phone. It smashed to bits, apparently. All I heard was "oh shit," and the phone went dead. I called. And called. As I drove as quickly as I could in the direction of his house. I watched the oncoming traffic for his car.


Crap. Crappity crap crap.

To get to Ranger's street, you have to make a u-turn at a bigger intersection, a block past his street. There's a small hill there, and when you're at the light, you can't see his street. I swear that light has never taken so long. I watched in my mirror to see if he left his street, but I couldn't see over that damn hill. I thought I saw a flash the same color as his car, but I couldn't be sure.

I whipped the u-turn and started down the street. No Ranger car. He'd gone again. That must have been his car I saw. Crap. Again.

But I had an idea of where he'd go next. His camping gear was in his storage building. So, I headed that direction. I kept calling his number while driving. I was hoping he would remember to try his Bluetooth headset, which might solve the problem of not being able to hear through his phone.

About a block from the storage place, he finally answered and said, "Hello?"

"Can you hear me?"

"Yes," he said. "I can hear you."

"Where are you?"

He paused. He was considering not telling me. "I'm at my storage." I was relieved. I didn't tell him I was almost there. I could hear him shuffling things.

"What are you doing?"

"Looking for something."


Pause. "Just something."

"Why won't you talk to me?" I asked, again.

"Because it won't help," he said. "You know what I've done and you won't want to be with me, either."

"You know," I said. "I'm about sick of being lumped in with everyone else you've dated. I mean, do you really not know me at all? Does that really sound like me? And have you not heard anything I've said?" I repeated myself. "I'm hurt that you lied to me. I'm not hurt because you cheated one time, twenty years ago. And I'm getting more hurt by the minute because you just want to leave and not even try."

The damn gate was closed and locked. I didn't know the code. I pulled over and parked near the gate, but out of the way.

"I should have fucking known this would fucking happen," he said. "It happens every fucking time." And he hung up. I knew what he was doing. He'd told me this before, about his ex. He would start cursing when he wanted her to shut up because the "f-word" pushed her beyond mad. He was trying the same with me, but I'm a different breed of cat. I don't back down easily. I don't give up without one hell of a fight.

I knew what to say because it was tearing a hole in my heart.

I called him back. He answered. "I'll say it one more time," I said. "I am not 'every fucking time.' I'm me. But I guess that's nothing special to you."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, I'm the one doing all the fighting for us here. You're running away. You're leaving. I'm just not worth fighting for, am I? Nothing special."

"Don't say that," he said. I could tell he was crying. "You're everything special. You're worth it."

"Then why aren't you fighting for me?" A truck pulled up and entered the gate code. The gate stayed open extra long, and I was able to drive in. A couple of rows back, I spotted Ranger's car beside an open unit door.

"Everyone else just lost interest in me when they found out I screwed up," he said. "I'll just go and save us both the hurt."

"You're hurting me more with what you're doing right now, abandoning me," I said.

Pause. "I see you're here," he said and hung up, as I got out of my car.

I stood in the doorway and he sat on a crate. I saw what he'd been looking for. He was flicking a lighter and holding a pipe in one hand, stuffed full of pot. I saw the baggie beside him.

"Don't do that," I said. "It won't help anything. You need to think more clearly than you are, not less." He put it away.

So, we sat there in the storage building and had it out. He was stuck in the "this is best" and "all I do is fuck things up" rut, so I just kept saying he was proving that I wasn't worth fighting for. I hadn't been worth it to anyone else in the past. I told him he was supposed to be different, from all he'd said to me, but he was acting just like all the rest. I cried. A lot.

"Stop saying that!" he said, starting to cry as he watched me cry. "I told you that's not true! Why do you keep saying that?"

"Because saying it is easy," I said. "But what you're doing tells me something else. If I was worth fighting for, then you would. Instead, you're just leaving."

"No," he said, quietly. "I'm not."

Watching my pain was too much for him. It was cutting through the bullshit he was chasing around. He settled down. He found a seat for me. He held me until I stopped crying. He explained all about Barb and how it happened. He explained how ashamed he was and how he was reminded of it by his ex almost daily for 18 years. Then, her own infidelities (yes, plural) came to light.

He told me about the women he dated who dropped him as soon as they knew. When he met me, he wanted a clean slate. So, he didn't tell me. Then, I turned out to be the best thing that ever entered his life. He was stuck. There was a lie hanging out there and he needed to come clean. But how? He was scared I'd leave.

"I should have known better," he said. "You don't judge me. I could trust you with it. I'm so sorry I didn't. I never wanted to hurt you."

"You hurt me by how you handled this," I said. I started to cry again. "I'm scared now. I was the one fighting for us, not you. Ranger, I can't do that again. I don't have it in me to do the fighting for both of us."

He wiped my tears. "I know. I'm sorry. I'll never make you do that again."

"I have to know we're in this together," I said. "I have to know you won't walk away every time there's a problem. This is twice now that you tried to just walk away."

"I know, baby," he said. His eyes were intense, looking into mine. "I promise, I'll never push you away again. I'm just not used to this. I've never had someone try to fight for me, fight with me, and not against me. Fighting was always a way of belittling."

"That's not me," I said, emphatically. I completely resent being lumped in with....well, anyone else.

"I know," he said. "I realize that now. If I'd stopped and thought about it for a minute, I'd have known that in the first place."

We needed to get back to our respective jobs. He emptied the pipe and put it away. He made a scoffing noise. "Do you know how old this pot is?" he asked me, tossing the bad aside. "This is the same stuff I shared with Tony. That's the last time I got high."

That was about a year and a half ago, when he happened to meet Tony and spent an evening hanging out and getting stoned. If you watch cable much or are a "foodie," then you probably know who Tony is. He's a chef/writer who hosts a travel/food show. (I won't share his name here, in case someone Googles him and might arrive here. But if you're curious, I'll share in email.)

Ranger tried to make me laugh before we went separate ways. He took my water bottle and tried to dribble it on me. "No," I said. "I really gotta pee, and if you do that...." He laughed, and it was music to me.

"What are you doing tonight," he asked, holding onto me for a few moments before we had to leave.

"The air show starts tonight," I said. "We're going to watch the fireworks from our porch. I'd like it if you could come." He nodded and it was a date.

I'll blog more about how that went later. This one is long enough! But we came through this a different couple. We learned something. I'm still scared of how he handles crisis situations, but I've made that abundantly clear to him. That can't happen again.

I came really close to losing Ranger completely, and I didn't like it one bit. It scared the shit out of me, to be blunt. I haven't been scared like that in a long time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Reply vs. Reply to All

You wanna laugh? This is good.

But before we get to the good part, I want to give a quick update on Ranger. Something interesting happened while I was out of town. He called me while I was in New Mexico. He was down. And yes, he'd managed to bring himself down. Again. He'd been looking at pictures on his computer and found old Christmas pictures of his kids. So, he dwelled on them and spiraled into a depression.

"It was just so happy," he said. "Before everything went to crap." And he really wanted to talk about how everything went to crap and how wrong it was and how it changes his kids' lives.

But I was dealing with a funeral. A funeral, for pity sake. I was surrounded by grieving people. I could not participate in helping him wallow in how bad the end of his marriage was. And we all know how well Blogget deals with insistent wallowing. I hate it.

So, I told him I was sorry and yes, I understood, but I just couldn't get into it just then. And you know what happened? The next time I talked to him, he was fine. Over it. Not even mentioning it.

Good for Ranger. That's a step in the right direction!

Okay, so now for the good part.

I'm working away in my little world this morning, and my desk phone rings. I don't know the area code, which usually means it's a vendor. I've been putting lots of them off lately because I just don't have time to focus on their product and what it can do to revolutionize distance learning.

"Blogget?" said a soft male voice.

"Yes, speaking," I answered, in my professional I'm-in-charge voice.

"Hey, girl," he said, and I could hear the smile already. "It's South Carolina."

I smiled, too. "Hey! What's new?" See, he never calls my work phone, so he must have really wanted t get ahold of me.

He laughed. "Well, I've had a really wild couple of minutes here, and I needed to talk to someone about it."

For a moment, I worried that he'd found this blog. I replayed everything I've said about him here, in a flash.

Here's what happened to sweet SC. He and I are both presenting at a conference in November, and we just got the preliminary schedule this morning. When he looked at it, he saw that his presentation was opposite his friend Grace's presentation, and he wanted to see it. So, he replied and asked if his presentation could be flipped with someone else's so he could attend the other session.

Now, Grace works for the institution hosting this conference. So, his request went to her coworkers. We know Grace from the professional organization that's having the conference. She very professional and is happily married.

Soon, he gets a reply from one of the conference organizers, Sue. The message had been forwarded to her to take care of. She tends to be quite rude and abrupt. She says: "I should have known this would happen. This guy has a crush on Grace and wants to go to her session. I'll talk to so-and-so about it."

This message was never intended to go to SC. But it did. He was stunned.

So, he called me.

He answered her, asking what exactly she meant by that. He also forwarded it to Grace. Then, he called Grace to make sure there was no misunderstanding. She's a friendly professional contact, but he would never cross that line with her.

Now, between you and me, SC is all about being a Southern Gentleman. Sometimes, that sweet charm can be taken as flirting. He doesn't see it, but it happens. Even though he draws the line at flirting with married women, he could have been misunderstood. And I told him that.

"Then I guess what I need to do is reply again and make my case," he said. "I need to tell them, calmly and clearly, 'I am a professional. I do not have a crush on Grace. We are acquaintances through this organization. If you doubt me, ask Blogget Jones. We fucked each other's brains out last year, and I have a crush on her.'" Then he laughed. "How's that?"

"Well, maybe not the fucking part," I said, laughing. But I made note: SC wants me to know he has a crush.

Then, he got an email. It was from Grace. She was calling Sue about the email.

Hot on the heels of that, he got a reply from Sue. "Have you ever had one of those days?" she started. She continued on with an elaborate story about a student worker who was using her computer earlier. Sue had left the reply to SC open and unfinished. This student (with no apparent ax to grind) decided to add the part about SC's crush and send it.

Smell that? It's someone's pants on fire.

All I could say to him as he read it to me was, "Wow."

We laughed about it for awhile longer, but we realize we have a heads-up now. Sue is a vicious gossip. Watch your back.

But dang, it's funny that she got caught!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I love...

...where I live, and I love my family.

Once in awhile, I see something nearby to us that makes me giddy, thinking, "I actually live here! Whoa!"

The route we took goes through some of the best places on the planet, not to mention in Colorado. Namely, Ouray, Silverton, and Durango.

When going from here to Farmington, NM, you can choose from two routes. The Red Mountain route or the Moab, Utah route. Both are lovely to look at, but for different reasons. This is why I like the Red Mountain route:

You can see why it's called Red Mountain. And can you see the ghost town in the foothills? Here's a closer look:

Nifty old buildings that are the remnants of a mine and mining town. You can take a Jeep trail to it, if you like. Too cool.

And speaking of cool, they have some snow already, too:

You just gotta love it. Well, at least, I do. Son wasn't so fond of the Million Dollar Highway, as we skirted the edge of cliffs without a guard rail in sight. Did I mention, he's afraid of heights?

We stopped in Ouray and Durango on the way, and Silverton on the way home. I could have spent days there. I noted some of the old hotels, for later getaways with Ranger. I love the "old West" kind of towns. I love the ghost towns nearby.

Silverton is particularly intriguing to me, with it's old mining town history. You know what fascinates me? The history of the brothels and bordellos there. The women who ran them scratched our their own kind of power in the town, using what they had to bargain with. The place was full of men who would do anything to enjoy a woman, and the woman who could supply that carried a certain clout in the town. Yes, there's a seedy and unpleasant side to this history, too, but that's the fascinating double-edged sword of it.

But our primary destination was Farmington. Here's a picture that I took near our hotel. It illustrates Farmington pretty well. (Hint: Look at this pic full-size, so you can read the signs.)

So, we headed to the events surrounding my great-uncle's funeral. He'd been sick for a long time, and took a sudden turn last week. I was told that he told everyone that day, "I'm going today," and that he was just waiting for his older brother to come. His older brother died several years ago.

This uncle was a twin, and the youngest two of nine children. These twins are good ol' cowboys, with the hard living that come with the territory. The other twin survives him, as does one sister. His twin lives behind the mortuary and just a stone's throw from the church. So, we all gathered there, at his brother's home.

Of my dad's siblings and their families, we were the only ones to come. My kids were disappointed because that meant no one their age would be there. However, they sat among the old family, listening to the stories. Had other kids been there, they would have missed this.

They've heard the stories from my dad. Now, they heard the stories from everyone else's perspective. "Yeah," my uncle (the other twin) said. "I remember he was too small to get in the stock tank himself when we went swimming. We just picked him up and threw him in."

My dad laughed. "You all corrupted me at an early age!" And they all laughed. The twins were a handful, to say the least. My dad would spend summers with them at his grandparents' home. The little house with the hand pump for water and wax paper for windows. A hard but simple life, and good memories for my dad.

I got re-acquainted with people who remember me as a child. They see my children and are shocked, as they think of me as the little one they baby sat. More than once this weekend, my mother said to me, "This is so-and-so. She used to change your diapers!" My kids laughed at that, knowing I liked to embarrass them by saying such things!

My kids had quite an education during this short trip, as they realized what characters share their blood. These aren't just names anymore, but distinct personalities! And they saw me as someone else. A granddaughter. A niece. A cousin. They heard about me from people who remembered me as a child, and who are proud of the woman I am now.

I got to visit with my great aunt, too. She's a delightful woman, and I adore her. But visiting with her is a bittersweet experience for me. See, I lost my grandmother very suddenly in 1988. She was 56 years old. She was always a young grandmother; I was the first grandchild and was born when she was 35. The surviving aunt and uncle I mentioned are her brother and sister.

So, my great aunt has a striking resemblance to my grandmother. Her features, the way she talks, the way her eyes sparkle, her facial expressions....she gives me flashbacks to being a child, sitting on the stepstool in the corner of my grandmother's kitchen. Watching and listening and talking, and knowing I was the most important thing in her world at that moment, as she laughed at all my little stories.

I miss her so very much, even now -- 20 years later -- I remember the shock and grief of being told she was gone.

And my great aunt misses her, too. And we talk and focus on each other, and feel the way she made us feel. And I get to see her face, just a bit, again.

I see her in my great uncle's face, too. His laugh is hers, and I know it's also mine. When I'm with this family, I feel the "one-ness" of our blood.

The funeral was short and sweet. My great uncle's girlfriend sat in the front. She took care of him for 15 years. she was certainly part of the family now, too.

We gathered in a family room before the service started, for one last viewing. As we walked in, I realized my kids had never seen a dead person before. They were a little stunned. It was obvious he'd been sick for awhile. He looked nothing like I remembered. I'm glad the program had a picture in it from before his illness. I included it here. He had kind eyes, like my grandmother.

He was buried with his cowboy hat.

As the family filed out of the chapel, behind the casket, my great aunt touched the hands of those she passed. She came to me, pulled me to her, and kissed my cheek. That meant the world to me.

The trip was long and difficult, but deeply satisfying. I can put up with this kind of exhaustion.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The weekend outlook....

I'm freezing. Seriously. I'm in my bedroom and it's effing freezing in here! And you know what?

I love it!

I know it'll be mid-80s later today. But we might get thunderstorms today and tomorrow. That makes me happy, too! Yep, I love cool, damp weather. If a lightning show gets thrown in, then it's all the better. Tomorrow's high is only 77. It just gets better! Look:

Speaking of storms, there's one in my stomach. That's why I'm home. So, not all the news is good, but I'm looking on the sunny side. Or stormy side. Depending on how the day turns out.

I'm hoping for it to clear up (internally, that is), so I can take the kids to Cross Orchards this afternoon. They're doing their Two Rivers Chautauqua, remembering World War II. Son has to go for school, but I think it'll be interesting for everyone. We might even go tomorrow at noon, to hear the Eisenhower Chautauqua.

THIS JUST IN: My weekend just went topsy-turvy. Good thing I was home. My aunt just called to say one of my great uncles just passed away. He was one of my dad's uncles who practically helped raise him. We have lots of good stories and memories of him. The funeral is Monday, in New Mexico. So, we're packing up the car Sunday and heading that way. I haven't seen my dad's family in some time. It will be so good to see them, even if it's for this reason.

I'm the oldest of sixteen grandkids on that side of the family. Now, we all have kids, too, so the clan has really grown! Three of my cousins are expecting babies soon, so it just keeps going.

I miss my Grandma so much....she would have loved seeing all of these kids. When I think of her, she's always smiling. And cooking. Chile Rellenos. It's funny, when I smile, I feel her in my own features. I love that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Don't think Old BF....

....will be contacting me anymore.

He called me the other day. To ask what size underwear he wears. No, seriously. This is exactly what he asked. He was shopping and couldn't figure it out. When I said, "Go with the same size as your pants," he asked what size that was.

Helplessness is a HUGE turn-off for me.

He launched into a spiel about how lost he is without me. How much he loves and misses me. How he's changed and he'd do anything to be with me again. He even promised he hasn't flirted with anyone since I've been gone. "If I can't be with you, then I don't want to be with anyone," he stated.

My Spidey-sense tingled.

He's lying. I know it.

I've asked him to stop putting me through this. While I'm not in love with him anymore and he's hurt me to the core, I don't like to hear him hurting. I don't like hurting him by saying no. I know it makes him depressed and that's BIG GUILT.

If I can prove he's lying yet again, then I'll have proved my case once and for all. And we'll be done with it.

So, I read his email. Now, before you get all up in my face about privacy and all, he gave me the password a few months ago. He invited me to look any time I felt suspicious, so I'd know he wasn't hiding anything.


I found messages back and forth with a woman who is suffering from a rare condition, requiring medical care. She even begged him to always be honest with her because she's been hurt so much by people who were mean about her condition. She has a low self-image, which made her vulnerable to his flattery.

He told her that he and I broke up because of my family, that they hated him. Then I moved away and he was nursing a broken heart. He said thank goodness he never married me because I would have been the wrong woman. He said he'd be lost without her. He professed to love her, and she said she loved him.

This is while I'm getting emails about how I'm the only one for him and please come back and he can't imagine loving anyone but me.

Gotcha, butthead.

So, this woman and I are now communicating. I told her the truth. She asked for proof. I sent her the recent emails. She's pissed. He is screwed.

I told him what I found, and that THIS is exactly why we're not together and won't be. And what a bad, bad man he is for doing this to a woman who is ill and warned him how vulnerable she is. What if I'd said okay, let's get back together? He knew full well he was going to hurt someone. He knew full well that he was lying to two people, who didn't deserve his crap.

His reply? (and I quote.)

"It's just chatting. Also, I never professed to love her. She's just some one I am talking to, who is an entire state away and completely disabled and unable to date in any capacity. Finally, regardless of what you say, I DO love you, I did NOT lie, and have NOT seen anybody in the time since I've been in Dallas, because as I have said before, I'd rather be alone then without you."

How many lies do you count in that short message? I see at least five, maybe more. (By the way, the woman in question is not debilitated to the point of not dating.)

He's busted. Once and for all.

He has yet to react. The coward. He won't face me, knowing I've talked to her.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A personal note to NCB

Sorry to take a detour, everyone, but I screwed something up and need to make a post to a particular visitor:


I managed to delete that post without saving your contact info. Please email me at, when convenient, and we can set up the visit you're wanting.

By the way, I intended to delete the post you commented on last week, but had to wait until today. Unfortunately, Google is still showing a cached page, but I hope that eventually disappears.

Thank you!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My annual remembrance

Seems like I'm making a habit of this. Each anniversary of 9-11, I remember what it was like for my family in 2001. The world changed after that, so I think it's important to remember what a significant day it was.

I was living in Lubbock, Texas, and working for a health PPO. I was a technical writer and just beginning to realize that my job had no advancement possibilities. I was contemplating graduate school. Both of my kids were in elementary school. Son was in 4th grade, and Daughter was in 1st. I tended to listen to my own music, and not the radio, on the way to their school and work. So, I didn't hear news until I got to my office.

I was working in a cubicle then, in the IT department. The programmers around me were the kind who would email questions to me, even though I sat four feet away from them. So, the silence in the office wasn't unusual.

I saw the alert on my desktop, but had trouble loading any information from the Internet. "Hey," I said, breaking the room's silence. "Have you all seen what's going on in New York?" They nodded and one started filling me in. We were all trying to get news from the Internet, but so was everyone else in the world.

I called my mom. She'd already heard. I called Old BF (who was a current BF then). He was in a convenience store and saw the news, but thought the pictures were of some war in the Middle East. He was shocked and went home to his own TV set.

I remember watching the Today Show. They were showing live footage of the first tower, spewing smoke, and interviewing a lady. I think she was in a nearby building. She was describing the plane as being a large jetliner, and Matt Lauer was using his condescending voice to say something like, "Now, certainly it wasn't that big...." When you could see a little dark spec enter the picture and head straight to the towers. I remember the chill I got, realizing the thing wasn't veering away. What the hell....?

Then the bright blossom of the explosion out the front of the second tower. The lady talking to Matt Lauer screamed and said, "What was that?" It took them a moment to see their own live pictures and realize the second tower had been hit.

And it all changed in that moment. This wasn't an accident. We were being attacked.

The health PPO was headed by an aggressively born-again Christian who wanted to encourage the Christian-ness of each employee. So, each Tuesday and Thursday morning, we had the opportunity to go to a devotional, led by the owner's pastor. We actually got extra time off if we went to this regularly. So, I went regularly.

By that time, we'd heard about the Pentagon. Someone volunteered that the last news they heard was that the capital building was on fire. We prayed for our country.

My boss went home and got a small TV to put in her office. Not much work happened that day. Late in the morning, our mayor had her own press conference about security in our city. Then, she announced that all school children had been released for the day.

WTF? No one told me this! I turned to my boss and said, "I have to go." She agreed.

Our local news anchor broke in on the Mayor's press conference. "We've been told that the schools have not released students at this time. The school schedule will continue as normal. Parents do not need to go pick up children at this time. The schoolchildren"

I sat back down and felt a little relieved. I told my boss that I would leave early anyhow, to pick up my kids myself. My mother wanted to, but I needed to be the one to talk to them about what was happening.

Elsewhere in the world, my sister was coping with a bigger mess. She lived in Cherry Point, NC, on a military base. She was trying to figure out how to talk to her kids about this, without alarming them about their father's safety. Seeing as how he's a soldier, the kids' concerns were about him going to war. When she picked them up from school, her oldest was beside himself. His teacher had wheeled a TV into their classroom and turned on the coverage. No explanation. No discussion. Just the news, running all day. To kids whose parents were Marines.


When I picked up my kids, Son was full of news. A friend of his had gone to the dentist and heard about the attacks, early in the day. "We're being invaded!" my son said. I shushed him and said he and I would talk about it privately at home, when I could speak to each of them individually. My daughter was blissfully unaware, and I wanted to be careful how she became aware of what would be frightening for a six-year-old to see on TV.

Also, I understood that we were experiencing an important point of history. They were living it. Someday, they would be asked about what it was like. I didn't want to shield them from it and not let them remember it as it was, good or bad.

I avoided turning on a TV when we got home. Since my son had a little information, I spoke with him first. I explained that no, we weren't being invaded. I told the story of what had happened that day. I told him what he'd see and hear on TV. Did he know what hijacking meant? Did he know what terrorists were? He did. I let him turn on the living room TV once his sister had come to see me.

Daughter was harder to talk to. Her wide eyes told me that the words "hijack" and "terrorist" were foreign to her, as was the hate associated with them. The idea that someone would hate another kind of people so much that they wanted to kill not one, but all off them, was a concept that had never occurred to her.

And I resented it to my core that I had to tell her about these things. The world changed for all of us that day, and a little innocence was lost.

She sat in my lap as we all watched the news together. Son considered himself beyond sitting in my lap, but he stayed close. We talked and I answered questions the whole time. It made him angry, and he wanted to know what would be done about it. That one, I couldn't answer just yet. I suspected the answer, and my mother was already freaking out about "What if the bring back the draft?" and "What if Son is drafted at 18?", but I didn't want to voice any of that to my children.

I noticed two divergent reactions among the people I knew and the people I saw interviewed on the streets of New York that day.

The men wanted revenge. "These animals don't deserve to exist on the face of this earth!" one man exclaimed. As a whole, the men I knew wanted to take up arms and swim the ocean if they had to, to get revenge. The women wanted to rush home, gather their loved ones close, and protect them. They wanted to be able to reach out and touch everyone they cared about, keep them under their wings, and be sheltered and safe. I still find that fascinating.

Another thing sat in the back of my head. It was September 11th. The following day would be Son's tenth birthday. What shitty timing. Okay, I know that sounds selfish, but I was looking at this little boy who had been looking forward to this milestone birthday, and now.... I just didn't know how to pull off a birthday party with this cloud literally hanging over everyone.

Apparently, Son had the same thought. As I tucked him into bed that night, he said: "Mommy, can we put off my birthday? I can wait another week or so. It just doesn't seem like a time for people to be thinking of me."

That moment is one of my best memories. I was never so proud of him as I was in that moment.

I agreed with him, and made the calls the next day. We still had our family celebration. We went out to dinner at his favorite restaurant. During dinner, Daughter lightly tapped me on the arm and pointed up. I hadn't noticed the TV so close by. It was showing 9/11 footage of the disaster. The sound was off.

Daughter's little voice whispered to me and her eyes looked frightened. "Is that an old picture," she asked. "Or is it happening again?"

I hugged and reassured her. She went back to the celebration, visibly relieved.

And it's that innocence lost, that lingering fear, that seems to be the 9/11 legacy for our family. I do resent that, still.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Clever kid

Today, I got the statistics for our students who are currently taking online courses. Last fall, we had about 600 online students. Now, we have over 1,000. The program is growing, and I hope my position at the college will grow with it!

But here's the one statistic that jumped off the page for me. It was the box where the column for "Exclusively Online Students" intersects the row for "Living On-Campus." It says, "1."

I blinked and checked the info again. But that 1 is truly and rightfully there.

We do indeed have 1 student living in the dorm and taking only online courses.

Dang, I wish I could have done my undergrad time that way! Imagine it. No set class times. You sleep when you want. You fire up the laptop and do your school work. You only have to leave for bathroom breaks, food, bathing, laundry, and maybe the occasional trip to the library. But they're even putting that online now. If you have a job, you leave for that. And partying. If you want.

It's college campus life on your own schedule. Brilliant.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

One of those days....

It's 8:06 Tuesday morning, but it might as well be Monday. Mine is the only light on in the suite of offices where I work. I'm not sure why everyone else is late this morning, but someone is going to yell that I haven't turned on the lights and unlocked the door.

Here's the deal with that. The rest of the office is Student Services. They have a steady stream of students coming through with all kinds of questions, complaints, and general crises. I have no clue how to handle such things. I work with computers and faculty, and that's pretty much it. I don't even work for that department.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I came back from lunch to find the door locked. I let myself in, went to my office, and left the door locked. No one else was here, and I can't hear the door from my corner of the dungeon.

In a little while, the Assistant VP comes through and unlocks the door. She proceeds to tell me that, now that my office is here, I need to "step up" and start greeting people who come in and answer their questions. WTF?!?!

I'm not one to usually pull the "that's not my job" thing, but THAT IS REALLY NOT MY JOB! I don't know where to begin doing what Student Services does. It's like me telling her to sit at my desk and design online courses. I don't even work for these people!

And to say "step up" I'm not doing my part. I work 40+ hours a week. I bust my ass. I'm completely overwhelmed, and she wants me to do some of their job, too.

I. Don't. Think. So.

So, here I sit with the door locked. She's gonna yell again.

It's been that kind of morning.

The shower leaked and dripped in the room below it. That can't be good. The air conditioner broke. That won't be good later this afternoon. I broke my favorite water cup, that goes with my little bedside water jug. Smashed it to bits, and had to spend time I didn't have cleaning it up. Looked at my bank balance online and seem to have about $100 less than I think I should, and we're not even half way through the month.

Cleaning up the cup and checking out the shower ran me late this morning, so I had to abbreviate my shower. It wasn't until I was almost out the door that I remembered that I see the massage therapist today. When I see the massage therapist, there's one little thing that I am very self-conscious about.

Unshaven legs. I'm fairly sure I'd die of embarrassment if that poor woman had to work on my bad knee and tense calf muscles through my hideous stubble. Or worse, because I don't think I'd shaved since Saturday morning. Three days of nasty growth. I was mortified.

An idea struck me, though, and I grabbed my razor before flying out the door to get Son and Daughter to school on time.

Once the kids are delivered to their respective schools, I make my way to my office. At that time of morning (about 7:30), everything else in the building is shut and dark. Pretty darn quiet. Even the bathroom light is still off, from the previous evening's cleaning.

And this was where I headed first. Our little one-stall bathroom. Now, I knew this might take some time, so if anyone came in I'd have to give up and leave, so as not to cause a restless waiting line. Besides, they could see my feet and would know something weird was going on.

I shut the door and pulled my razor from my purse. And yessirree, if you haven't guessed it already, I shaved my legs at the toilet.

See, I needed the water to activate that little moisture strip thingie on the razor, to make the process of almost-dry-shaving bearable. I think I blew through a brand new razor in a matter of minutes, but not I can let my self-conscious self go. The legs are smooth, and not prickly-gross for the therapist.

Chalk up another bizarre day to my existence.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Beyond exhausted

Son had all four wisdom teeth out Wednesday morning. And what's called a "crown lengthening." for that, they remove some of the bone around a tooth in order to get enough room to put on a crown, like after a root canal. The trouble with Son's teeth is that his wisdom tooth was in the way, and "deep bone impacted." They all face the wrong way. So, they took out all four and removed that bit of bone.

To say he was in pain is a gross understatement.

The anesthesia pissed him off. It does that to me, too. I do NOT like the feeling of not having full command of my body. He didn't like it, either. "We're a little angry," the nurse said, as she helped him from the wheelchair and into the car. He was pissed and mumbling to himself, drooling blood. Later, he would tell me that as he woke and found himself hooked to equipment, he got angry and started cursing people. "I don't think they understood me," he said. His mouth had been full of gauze, thankfully.

We got him a shake (no straws!) and he ate some, so he could take his pain medication. We're alternating two Big Gun Pain Pills every three hours. But the anesthesia wore off quicker than the pills acted, so we chased his pain most of the day. I felt completely helpless, as I watched my big tough-guy sink to his knees in the kitchen, weeping with pain and frustration.

And he apparently learned something about himself today. I think it's important for both of us to know, too.

He still needs his Mommy.

You know what else? Drama Queen learned this, too. She insisted on coming over after school. I dreaded it. If she tried to assume the caretaker role with him, after what he and I had been through together today, I was going to lose it.

She made one attempt. "Aren't you supposed to call the doctor if he still has bleeding?" she asked. I looked at her for a moment, like do you think I need you to tell me how to handle this? Then I calmly answered with all the information I had, from talking to the nurse already, and what I knew to do. I saw the test-pattern look come over her. Too much info for her to handle.

After that, she backed off. She tried to cover him with a blanket once, but got it sideways and his feet stuck out. I carefully fixed it, so as not to wake him.

She seemed to have a problem with letting him sleep, though. She kept touching him. He'd doze off and she'd do something to touch him and wake him. I finally told her to cut it out and let him fall asleep. She did.

The idiot tried to kiss him when she left. He waved her off, annoyed. It was a stupid thing to want to do, with his mouth swollen and sore. She kissed the top of his head and went home.

As I'm typing this, he's asleep in the recliner next to me. The doctor told him to sleep sitting up tonight, so it's the best place for him. And you know what? He asked me to sleep on the couch beside him.

"Are you going upstairs?" he asked, as I tucked him into the recliner, with a soft blanket. He was mumbly and dopey. He looked up at me, and for a moment he was my little boy again. He looked a lot like he did at age 6, when he had his tonsils out.

"I don't have to," I said. "I can sleep right here on the couch, if that would help."

"I'd like that," he said. "I'd feel better if you were here."

He didn't want to be alone, and if he needed help, he wanted me there.

There's a peace between Son and I. He is trusting me to help him. He wants my help, my presence nearby, as though he's comforted by this. So far, he's made it clear that he wants my help and only my help. Anyone else says, "Want some pudding?" and they get their heads bit off. I do, and he says, "That would be great. Thanks."

How long will it hold? I don't know. Will he remember it? I hope. For now, it feels good to get this last chance of taking care of him.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Getting through the loooong weekend

My ex's visit has come and gone. For the most part, it was a good one. Friday night and Saturday was rough on my son, but it was his own doing. Drama Queen now completely understands why I'm not married to the man anymore, although it's for a different reason than the actual one.

Ex arrived on time Thursday morning. His plane from Houston to Denver was early, allowing him and his luggage enough time to make the connection in Denver. "That airport is stupid," he said. Yes, I agreed. I'd warned him already.

He called me from the airport here, which is a little over a mile from my house. We watch the planes coming and going from our back porch. "Could you have picked a more remote place to live?" he exclaimed. Why yes, I could. I could have picked Alamosa, CO. I had an offer there, too. It's much more remote, cold, and barren. The airport is a double-wide, I swear. So, yes, could be worse.

"This reminds me of Palo Duro Canyon," he said, looking at the Bookcliffs. Uhm, no, Ex. Here's Palo Duro Canyon (in West Texas):

"Well," I said to Ex. "Our canyons are a little bigger." Like this:

He'd learn a lot while he was here.

Son filled him in on the low crime rate here. Front page news is that you can't park backwards downtown. Back in Texas, our front page news was about drive-by shootings. What I was most happy to see, though, was that Ex made an effort to get to know Daughter. Without his wife here to interfere, Daughter was able to shine and sh0w him the spectacular young woman she has become. He saw her with open eyes, and he was really proud of her. And I think a little sad that the little girl in her has gone.

As soon as he got his rental car, he started driving around the city. The night before, he told me he'd been looking at maps of Grand Junction and "it didn't look hard to get around." He didn't even bring his GPS. Because of that, I became his personal GPS. "This is so stupid!" he kept saying. It kinda is, truth be told. Our north-south streets are numbered according to the number of miles they are from the Utah border. Like 25 Road or even 25 1/2 Road. Except for one portion of the city that is numbered 1st Street, 2nd Street, etc. The east-west streets are lettered a mile apart. So you have G Road and H Road, or even F Road and F 1/2 Road. Say that one out loud. It's funny!

So, Ex called about 50,000 times that morning, trying to find Daughter's school. I guided him there. She was really surprised to see him show up in the lunchroom. He met all of her friends and ate some lunch with her. Perfect. This is what she needed from this visit.

Both of the kids needed to know that he put out the effort to be here for them. The trip needed to be about them and his relationship with them. Without his wife here to keep him angry and stirred up about everything, he was peaceful and easy to get along with.

That night, we took him to the Farmer's Market with us. It's held downtown each Thursday during the warm weather. He and the kids browsed the merchant booths, while I did my shopping. Fresh roasted green chilis. Candied almonds for the kids. Eggplant. Palisade peaches. Enstrom's ice cream, fresh from the factory (about two blocks away).

The kids' friends came up to them in the crowd. One boy was particularly happy to see Daughter. He shook Ex's hand, and immediately got a lesson in how to have a "proper" handshake. Poor kid! But he tagged along with Daughter for awhile anyhow.

I got everyone something to drink. Ex stopped for ice cream and offered it to everyone -- except me. I actually didn't want any yet, but that chapped me anyhow. I'd just bought him something cool to drink, and he took this chance to be rude to me. Wow.

The next day, he had lunch with Son and Drama Queen. They went to this hole-in-the-wall Mexican food place that Son loves. Ex was rather condescending about it, until he tasted it. Great stuff, that place. He started to learn that just because something is small doesn't mean it's not good. Coming from Houston, this seemed to be a surprise to him.

We picked up bagel sandwiches for everyone that afternoon, picked up the kids, and went up to the Grand Mesa for a picnic dinner. My dad, Ex, and Daughter rode in one car on the way up. My mom, me, Son, and Drama Queen rode in another. We'd switch kids on the way back down.

I'm not sure what started it, but Son was in a horrible mood as we left. It might have been something as simple as his grandpa telling him to hurry up, when we were all outside waiting for him. I'm not sure. But he listened to what I call his "angry music" all the way up the mesa. About an hour's drive. It's a GORGEOUS drive! Ex was bowled over. Beautiful pine and aspen trees, and pristine lakes. I think he was beginning to see why we live here.

So, we got to a picnic site that overlooked a lake. We unloaded folding chairs, and I asked Son to carry some. Apparently, I sat them down with the handles facing the wrong way.

He snatched them from me and said, "Jesus...." Now, this is a big no-no in our household. And he knows it's particularly offensive to his grandmother, so he says it where she can hear it. I can't imagine wanting to upset my grandma, but he does it all the time.

She walked away.

I stopped him. "Hey, try to grown some niceness," I said.

Ex walked up just in time to hear Son say one more thing to me: "Bitch."

Oh, that did it. Ex came unglued at him. He didn't yell, but he was furious. So was I. Many things were said. Son's watched me with a look that said, "So what?" and he blew off anything said to him. I can understand being irritated with his grandpa, even though Grandpa was right, but this degree of anger I didn't understand. Where had it come from?

He grabbed his sandwiches and headed down to the lake with Drama Queen. Ex and I talked about Son's attitude and what had just happened. I told him about Son cursing at his grandmother all the time. About his temper fits. About the struggles. This time, Ex was listening. He'd seen it first-hand and was shocked.

The rest of the evening was fairly pleasant. Ex ate his sandwich, then headed down to the lake after Son. I couldn't see them. Apparently, in the course of their conversation, Son called his dad a dick. Son claims to have been kidding, but Ex smacked him in the back of the head for it. Yeah, that went over well.

We stayed until sunset. It was hard to leave. Sitting on the side of a hill of wildflowers, looking over the lake and the trees. The breeze was cool, but the sun warmed you still. A small moment of peace, to recharge our batteries before heading back to life in the valley.

Son came and apologized to me as we were leaving. I told him I was glad he was sorry, but we really needed to discuss how all this was going to stop. "It's over the top," I said. He nodded and got into my dad's car.

On the way down, we stopped at the Visitor's Center to use the restrooms. When I came out, Ex was waiting for me.

"I'm really disappointed in his behavior," he said. "You know, a year ago, I'd have blamed it on the move and probably on you. Now, I can't do that. I don't understand it. He's not been raised like that."

Wow. You could have knocked me over. Yet another thing he'd never have said with his wife around. We talked for a moment about what's wrong and what we might be able to do. He wanted the kids to read The Last Lecture. I told him to send the audiobook because they were more likely to listen to it than read it.

I was starting to notice something, though. Ex has been reading a lot of self-help books. He's full of kitchy catch-phrases and analogies. He used to regurgitate Rush Limbaugh. Now, he sounds like Dr. Phil.

When we all got back to the house, my dad was annoyed and Drama Queen was silent. Until we took her home. Apparently, all the way back down, Ex had interrogated Drama Queen about her life and her plans. Then, he was full of advice as to how she should conduct her life, even down to what career he thinks she should pursue.

Interior decorator, for those keeping score.

The next morning, I hit the shower before waking the kids for the day. My folks had gone to Monticello, Utah, to visit the LDS temple there. As I showered, I started getting cranky. Every voice on the radio was driving me nuts. I hated it all. I was sick to death of Casey Kasem's voice. The music was highly annoying. I was drying off and getting dressed, and turned off the radio, and I was still about to go ballistic. That's when the shakes set in. I stood there trembling, with my hair dripping, and it dawned on me what was happening.

My blood sugar was dropping. This only happened when it crossed a dangerously low threshold. One of the effects is that I don't think or articulate clearly. That's why it had taken so long for me to realize what was happening. Now, I could feel it plummeting, and no other adults were around to help.

I was in trouble, and getting worse.

My legs were too wobbly to go down the stairs. I went to my daughter's room, but she wasn't there. I headed back to my room and then saw her. I'd walked right past her. She stared at me, and I thought of how pale I must look.

"I need your help," I said. It was a desperate struggle to hold on to each word and get it out of my mouth. "Sodas are in the fridge. I need one. And a yogurt. Fast."

She took off to go get it for me. I sat in my big red chair, in the corner of my room. I felt like I was going to pass out, if my body stopped shaking long enough to let me. I held on to the sounds of my daughter getting what I needed from the kitchen. She ran to me and handed me the soda. It was in a bottle with a pop top.

"Opener," I said, and she took off to retrieve an opener for me. I started to dig into the yogurt, too. I hadn't eaten anything yet that morning. It tasted funny. Later, I'd notice it was expired. At that moment, I didn't care.

She came back and opened the soda. I started downing it, knowing it would take a few minutes to hit my system. Please hurry, I thought, willing it into my blood stream.

I pointed to my cell and told Daughter to call Ranger. I could see she was worried, and I needed another adult here. He said he'd be right there.

Poor guy. He was beside himself with worry as he got into his car and headed to help me. He got up the block and his car died. See, his gas gauge is broken. It said half a tank. It was really empty. There's a gas station on the next corner, though, so Ranger grabbed a container and got some gas to get him going.

When he got to my house, Daughter had already helped me get Son up and going for them to see their dad. I was still in the red chair, and my head was clearing, but I was very cold. I was wrapped in blankets and still pale. He sat down in front of me and held my face. He was so worried, he had tears in his eyes.

"What can I do?" he asked. He felt bad about not getting there sooner.

"Nothing," I said. I indicated the empty soda bottle. "That's bringing it back up. I'm just really chilled now." I told him what happened. I didn't know how low it got because my meter isn't working. I need a new one, and would get a prescription for one later that day.

He propped my feet in his lap, and we chatted while I got back to normal. He was so desperately worried. This hadn't happened to me in over a year. And I hadn't even had my diabetes medication the day before, so my numbers should have been high. However, it looks like the combination of losing weight recently and high stress made a dangerous cocktail.

Ex came to pick up the kids for the day. Before he left, Son came to me and asked, "Are you doing okay, Mom?" I almost cried. He actually cared. I told him I'd be fine, and he headed off with his dad.

Ranger and I ended up going to get some breakfast. A nice, hot bowl of oatmeal for me. With cream, brown sugar, and raisins. Heavenly comfort food, and just what I needed that day. The soda would actually make my blood sugar go too high, which makes me sleepy. So, Ranger tucked me into the couch at home with pillows and blankets. And there I stayed for most of the afternoon, dozing.

He eventually left me to nap. Then, my folks got home, and I told my mom what happened.

"Why did you call Ranger?" she asked.

"Because I needed an adult here," I said. "And you all were in Utah."

"Oh, that's right," she said, and her look told me she'd momentarily forgotten that I was home alone with the kids.

Then, Ex arrived with the kids. He'd apparently invited Drama Queen and Daughter's best friend along, too. They'd gone to the movies and to the mall.

Daughter and her friend giggled through the door and all the way to her room. Son stormed in and sat on the couch. Drama Queen went out the back door, to pout on the porch.

Ex came in. "What's the trouble?" I asked. He didn't know. He said he'd had some attitude problems with Son at the mall. Then, Son and DQ got into an argument. Now, they were texting each other, which is how their arguments go. They don't talk. They text. Weird!

Ex looked up Hurricane Gustav on the computer, to see if it was headed to his home in Texas. Apparently, his wife was calling many, many times, wanting him to come home early because of the storm. He didn't want to, but he was getting the facts.

Later, we decided to go to dinner. Son was still in a glowering mood. He popped off a few rude comments, and Ex had enough of it.

"Come here," he said. "We need to step out and have a talk."

Son lost it. "No! I'm not going anywhere with you!" he yelled. Yes, yelled. In the middle of the restaurant. "I've had enough of this today! I'm done with it!"

Son turned to me. "He's been on my case all day. I've had it!"

Ex leaned over his shoulder, whispering things to him. I couldn't hear it, but he looked furious. Son just stared at me as Ex talked. Then, Ex went to the restroom.

"Seriously, Mom," Son said. "He's been on me all day. I'm so sick of it."

In a low voice, I said, "You know, Son, he wasn't that way until the incident last night. He might still be pissed at you for that, so he'd coming down on you harder."

"Yeah, that could be," Son said, calming his voice a little.

"And no matter how you look at it, the way you just handled this was really out of line. Hollering like that isn't appropriate at all. Get ahold of yourself and think before you say anything else to your dad."

He was still unhappy, but calming down. He was thinking of refusing to eat, but his love of chicken-fried steak won out.

The rest of the evening went by fairly pleasantly. Ex was leaving the next day. Son needed to salvage the visit.

The kids had breakfast with Ex the next day. He had to get to the airport around noon. We talked before he left, and he told me how impressed he was with Daughter. She showed him more of her interests and talents, and he really paid attention.

"One thing disturbs me, though," he said.

"What's that?"

"My daughter has boobs." This was his way of saying she's not a little girl anymore, and he's shocked my it. Yep, since he last saw her, she's changed into a young woman in mind and body. She has curves. And he doesn't like it one bit.

He left. And the kids and I watched movies all day. Drama Queen came over that evening, and we watched more DVDs.

DQ runs cold all the time. There's no meat on her bones, so it figures. I watched with suspicion, though, as they carefully arranged the blanket over Son's lap, stretching it high and tight. Both of DQ's hands went under the blanket. Even though they tried to hide it, movement started around Son's crotch.

And I'm sitting right there! His mother is right beside her on the couch! His grandmother is dozing in the chair next to me. His grandfather can see them from the kitchen. What are they thinking?!?! WTF?!?!

I catch Son's eye. "Lose the blanket," I said, quietly, glaring at him. DQ couldn't hear me. I was talking low enough so as not to attract grandparent attention.

He tried to play dumb for a moment. "Why?"

"I know what's going on," I said, holding his gaze. "Lose. The. Blanket. NOW."

So, they did. At least, they put it down, sat straight up, and all hands were above the blanket.

Our DVD ended and we were going to start another. They started cozying up again.

"I need to see you in the other room," I said to Son.


"Don't mess with me," I warned. "Come with me NOW."

He followed. In the other room, I said. "Okay, I know what was going on under the blanket." He started to deny it, and I stopped him. "No. Don't lie to me. I'm not stupid and I'm not blind."

He gave up. "I tried to stop her," he said. "But she wouldn't stop."

"Oh really? Okay then." And I called DQ into the room, too.

She had that deer in headlights look she gets when she's caught at something. I repeated myself. "I know what was going on under the blanket."

She stared at me. "Son here says he tried to stop you and you refused."

Still wide-eyed and silent.

"This crap will stop," I said. "I've had it. For now, no more sharing blankets. You're lucky that I'm still allowing you on my couch together. And you should realize that you're REALLY lucky I'm allowing you in the same house together."

Still wide-eyed and silent.

"You are 16-year-old children and you're playing with fire. These are adult things, and you are not ready for an adult life. And you BOTH know this isn't appropriate behind my back, much less in front of my face." I stared back into her wide eyes. "If you can't stop it because it's the SMART thing to do, then I'll stop it for you. Don't be foolish enough to think I can't."

Wide-eyed stares.

Oh, just wait until I confront them about the pictures.... I'll have to be more calm when I do that, though. This situation pissed me off in the biggest way.

I was right there. RIGHT there. How stupid.