Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Working through it all, little by little

We were in the car, talking. Ranger had taken my face in his hands and was sweetly telling me how he feels about me. A love from the depths of his soul. More than list itself. I started to cry.

"What's wrong?" he said.

"I have to ask you something," I said. "But I hate to spoil the moment. I just need an answer to this."

"What's that?"

"If you feel so much for me...if you feel it so deeply...how could you turn to someone else?"

He was quiet for a moment. I'd caught him off-guard.

"I need to know that," I said. "To understand how this isn't going to happen again, like you promise."

"I've actually thought about this a lot," he said, finally. "How I could have done this to you. I think it comes from guilt I was feeling. I mean, there you were, hurting. I couldn't do anything about that. You could barely make it back and forth from the bathroom...and you know what I was thinking? I was thinking how beautiful you are to me and how I wanted to wrap you up in my arms and show you how much I love you."

He paused. "You're hurting, and I just kept thinking of how much I wanted to make love to you. I felt so selfish."

"Why didn't you tell me that?" I asked. "You know I want to hear what you think. I don't judge the things you say and feel like that."

He paused again. "The thing is, I think of you like that all the time. I fantasize about you all the time." He looked at me, finally. "But I don't want to share all of that and have you think that's all I want. I don't want you to think I look at you as just a sexual thing."

"I've just kept all that in," he said. "I didn't want you to feel disrespected. I think the guilt I had pushed me over the edge. I had to express this stuff somehow, and you were in pain. So, she came on to me, and I let some of those feelings for you get transferred."

"So, you actually have feelings for her?"

"No! No, not anymore. It wasn't real, you know? It was you I wanted and not that. I let myself get confused. Never again. No one can be like you, in any way. You're amazing to me, in all that you do. I'm not willing to risk losing that, ever again. There's no one like you. I do love you so much, and nothing is worth losing you."

He paused again and said quietly. "I told her that. I told her she's not worth it. She's not worth risking losing you."

That actually says a lot. He had to have known that saying such a thing might be hurtful. He doesn't like hurting anyone's feelings. It must have been some conversation to push him to say that to her.

"My heart can't belong to anyone but you," he said. "And I intend on spending the rest of my life proving that to you. I want you to believe in me again, to believe in us again."

"I want to," I said, but the tears were coming again. "I just don't know how to compete with a 23-year-old. How do I know you won't get confused again?"

He was holding my face again, wiping the tears off my cheeks. "I'll be sure of that. You'll know that I'm focused on you. Always. There is no comparison. No competition. No one is like you. Sometimes, I just like watching you do anything. You have a grace to you, the way you carry yourself. I've thought that since the day we met."

I wanted to make something clear. "You're telling me a lot of things I didn't know you thought," I said. "Why are you holding back from me?"

"It's what I've learned to do," he said. "Before you, I had to be careful what I shared. My ex-wife thought that everything I said had an ulterior motive. She didn't like her body, so she didn't want to hear any sexual thoughts I had. So, I've been scared that I'd make you feel that's all I wanted and all I saw in you."

"Honey, you can say all of those things to me," I said. "I enjoy knowing all your thoughts about me. If you say the sexual and the non-sexual, and then we know it's balanced. Right?"

"So, you don't mind hearing all my little fantasies?"

I laughed. "Uhm...no. I'm the one who wanted to read erotic literature with you, remember?"

He laughed. "Oh, yeah. I forgot that. I just need to express some emotions physically. That's ok?"

It is. And he hasn't held back since. I have to say, the man has a colorful imagination. But so do I. So that works out.

Friday, December 25, 2009

'Tis the season

I can't drive yet, so I've really relied on Ranger to do the driving for me. This has allowed us some time alone, away from my three-ring-circus household. It's hard to go through what I'm going through...what we're going through...when every wall at home has ears. My niece is a nosy child, so that doesn't help.

Christmas shopping has been our excuse for escaping the madness. Going from one madness to another. But it did give me a good moment of laughter that I sorely needed.

It was in the bathroom at Walmart. The place was insane with little children. I let those people go first. Not because I was being particularly generous; I just didn't want the little ones on the loose peeking under the bathroom door at me.

The circus left, and the place quieted a bit. Enter a woman with a baby, headed to the changing table. She was singing to the tune of "O Christmas Tree." Not surprising -- I had the tune stuck in my head because of a holiday display they had that played this song over and over.

So, she was belting it out, singing to the baby. Her words to the tune were:

"O smelly butt! Oh smelly butt! Whatever are they feeding you!"

It still cracks me up. Get your holiday cheer where you can find it!

On a side note, Ranger did something interesting for me for Christmas. First, he gave me something very thoughtful and useful. I tend to have very cold feet. So, he gave me something to help, "for those times when I'm not there to warm them for you," he said. Microwaveable booties. Oh yes! No more frozen toes.

Then, he gave me the sweetest card. It said so much that we've said to each other. In it was a note. He's bought a URL for me to start making and selling bra purses online. He has programmed all of the storefront functionality for me. All I have to do is make them, take pictures, and put them on the site. An unusual gift, but one I think was thoughtful.

Peace and joy, everyone!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Promises and proof

Ranger called me when he woke up this morning. Fridays have been our "date night," so we talked about what to do and when. And he thanked me for the millionth time for an early Christmas gift.

I gave him a standing heater. Sounds a little utilitarian, right? But you have to realize that the house he lives in has one heat source. A woodburning stove. He's keeping his door closed and locked now, though, so that the woman who has been involved in our troubles will stay away. So, he doesn't get as much heat in his room.

During the warmest part of the day, his room is 42 degrees. When he wakes in the morning, he can see his breath in the air. Despite the hurt I'm experiencing, I couldn't stand to see him suffering like that. And the sentiment meant the world to him.

And we talked about us.

See, I have questions, concerns, thoughts. He's open to them, which is different. With Old BF's infidelity, if I had something to say after the initial argument, he got furious with me. Ranger doesn't. He knows I'm trying to work through this and how I think. He also knows I'm not trying to beat him up with my questions. There's just things I need to understand.

One of the things we talked about yesterday was pretty intense. That message I saw had sentiments and scenarios in it that I thought were just for me, from him. I thought he thought of only me in those ways and in those "fantasies." I'm having a lot of trouble understanding how all of that became so...."fill in the blank." And I feel like just another blank now.

"When you touch me now," I said. "How do I know it's how you want to touch just me? When you say it's good to lay with me, how do I know it's how you feel with me? Or could it be just anyone?" I was crying, as I do a lot lately.

"It was all so special to me," I added. "And it wasn't."

"It was," he said.

"Then how could it be given to anyone else?"

"I know it feels that way. I just ask that you give me time to show you, prove it to you. Let me have a chance to undo this. Please?"

Our conversation this morning was not as intense as that. However, about 10 minutes after we hung up, he called back.

"I've been getting ready to get my work done here," he said. "But my thoughts are so on you. I can't stop thinking about something since yesterday. And I have to tell you...."

His voice was breaking. I could hear the tears behind it. He paused to compose himself. Then, he said, through the tears:

"Baby, I want to be everything to you. I want to fulfill everything for you. And only for you. You are so beautiful. Inside and out. You are so wonderful to me. You are everything I've ever dreamed of, and I want to be everything you've ever dreamed of. I don't ever want you to hurt again. I will never, ever do anything to cause you pain again. I will never, ever do anything to risk you and what we have again. It's not worth it. YOU mean too much to me. Just give me time to show you and prove it to you. I swear I will."

Now, we're both in tears.

I need our date night tonight. I need to look in his eyes and see in them what's behind these words. He says that no one has ever looked at him with the love that are in my eyes when I look at him. I need to see and feel that again, too.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Since then....

I haven't slept well for a few days. For awhile, I considered using the pain medications for numbing more than my incisions. That's not healthy, though.

Initially, it was a long, ugly phone call. I was shaking so badly I could hardly talk. My brain buzzed.

The message had been addressed to one of Ranger's roommates. A 23-year-old incredibly messed-up mother of two toddlers. The week before my surgery, this same woman had stopped me and told me she asked her pastor to prayer for me, that all would go well. "I know how much Ranger cares for you," she said. To my face.

Ranger gave me a very flimsy explanation. His story was that she had made a pass at him the previous night, but he'd refused her. This made her feel bad, so he wrote the message to make her feel better.

Okay. So, dear Diary, scroll down and read that message again. Does this explanation make sense? No. It does not.

"It's just my fantasies," he said later. That doesn't quite cut it either. You don't tell someone you hope they enjoyed you, in your own fantasy.

Repeatedly, I picked apart the message and pointed out how this didn't make sense. Over and over, he said, "I don't know what to tell you when you won't believe me."

Ranger and I have dozens of discussions about what it's like to have a partner cheat on you. I find myself facing my own advice. The question has been, what do you do when you know you aren't getting the whole story? Well, you assume the worst and decide if you can deal with that.

I'm trying to. I really am. All those old wounds that Ranger helped me heal have just been ripped open again. By him.

"You promised," I cried to him. "You promised I'd never have to feel this way again. That I was enough...more than enough...for you. You know how I've hurt. How can you be the one to hurt me like that again?"

I've lost track of how many times I've said that now. I've lost track of how many times he's apologized. For several days, I couldn't escape the words from that note. They drifted through my mind constantly, torturing me.

"All that you promised was mine, and mine alone," I said. "You've given it to someone else. The things you've said to me, they aren't mine anymore. They're words. Just words. For anyone. I'm not you're 'Beautiful'; anyone is."

He disputes this vehemently. His feelings for me have not changed. The next day, he pulled this roommate aside and told her nothing could ever exist between them. He told her "distance" was best. Do not even call, IM, or text.

He left out emailing.

I was with him when he got notice of a new email through his phone. It was her, through her cell phone. I happened to be looking at his phone when it came in.

"What's that?" my Spidey-sense tingling.

He stared for a moment. He clicked and read the message. All it said was that one of the other roommates had beaten a video game they'd been playing. "It's her," he said.

This happened eight days after the initial incident. We've been trying to work on this during that time. He's not only handed me access to all of his email accounts and his phone, but set his email to forward all new messages to me automatically, so nothing can be deleted and hidden. He's been very intense on trying to re-convince me that it's a mistake that will never happen again, that I'm his world, that he'll never risk losing me again.

But back to the emailing. This made me crumble. As I've been telling him for the last week, I'm not on sure footing anymore. It's up to him whether I find that footing again with him or not. And I have to see if I'll ever trust him again.

As I watched, he replied, saying, "Please do not email me."

In tears again, I told him that she obviously did not get the message. And I can't help but wonder why. I told him so. "If I hadn't been looking when that came in, maybe you would have ignored it. And it would have just continued."

Apparently, he went home and told her point-blank to stop emailing. He didn't know what part of "distance" she didn't understand, but he put a block on her number and address on his email server. And he said it to her in front of the roommate she's sleeping with now.

Oh yeah, that. Right after Ranger told her to scram, she turned her attention to another roommate, and is now apparently sleeping with him. She made Ranger feel irrelevant. He put everything on the line for that.

It's been an intense week-plus. Lots of tears. I don't like to cry, and I find myself breaking down in public, when I'm with Ranger. I'm not allowed to drive yet, so he's been driving me around to get my Christmas shopping done. We need the time together away from my insane, over-stuffed house, so we have the privacy we need to hash this thing out.

What's going to happen? I just don't know. He's desperate to reassure me that he means all the promises and that we can fix this. But there's a "trust hole" between us now. I don't know how to heal that.

Am I a fool for seeing if this can be worked out? Maybe. It wouldn't be the first time...but I've given lesser men second chances.

All I really know is this, as I've told him through many tears - I can't survive another blow like this. And I can't live a life of wondering. He's promised profusely to prove to his worth, his undying love, to me. To see how raw my pain is causes him great pain. To see me so sad hurts him. And it should, I told him.

I'm working on this a day at a time right now. We are. I'm being very open about my thoughts, pain, and doubts. And he's letting me, and listening.

We'll see. For now, I'm just so sad over promises broken...and a broken heart.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Unexpected pain

I've taken some time to make this post. The event is over a week old, but this is the first I've been able to write about it, both physically and emotionally.

Ranger has watched over me beautifully. He stayed at the hospital, even when his sleeping accommodations were terribly uncomfortable. He comes to sit with me each day at home. We watch TV together, talk, have lunch and dinner. He hangs out with Daughter and I when she gets home from school, too. If I need anything, I mean anything, he's the one getting it for me and helping me move around. See, my room is upstairs. Once I climbed those stairs when I got home, we knew I'd be there for a few days before I'd be able to brave the stairs again.

On December 7th ("...a day that will live in infamy..."), he was getting ready to leave my house, to finish some work at home. It was starting to snow outside.

"I wish I could take you up the road by my house, to a quiet place up there, where we can see the whole valley. And we could climb in the back and cuddle up, and enjoy the snow coming down. And each other." Maybe when I'm better.

I stood by him and we held each other, saying goodbye. Our normal banter when parting goes like this:

"I love you," I say.

"I love you, too," he says.

"For always?"

"For always," he says. "And in all ways."

I added something this time. "Only for me?"

He smiled. "Only for you."

And off he went. When he got home, he wrote this message:

"ok... so the dreams... first one was minutes after I fell asleep. I drempt that you came back into my room... wearing a big towel. You closed the door and said I put this on, because I think you are finally someone that can truely appricate me in this... and dropped the towel... and you were wearing what I think is your camo lingere. I woke back up looking for you!!!

"Second dream was I was taking you somewhere... store or something. We rushed through the errand, and then drove up the road... up into the snow and storm... until we were socked into the clouds. We got in the back of my suv and made mad passionate love until snow covered all of the windows

"I hope you enjoyed me as much as I enjoyed you. It was so nice to be with you, you sexy beautiful thang!"

That's something else, eh? The kind of thoughts and feelings every girl wants her man to think, feel, and express to her. Wowee!

But there's one little problem.

I don't own camo lingerie.

This message was not written to me.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Getting back on my feet

I'm back! Ouch. Sorta.

Surgery went as planned, on November 24th. I didn't get really nervous until about 10 minutes before, while talking to the anesthesiologist. He looked at me and said, "Are you anxious?" I admitted it. He gave me something wonderful to chill me out, through my IV.

Here's how the thing is supposed to go. The doctor makes a small incision on one side, to get at my spine from the side. He takes a long, thin instrument and carves out the middle of what's left of my disc. He inserts a little mesh bag filled with bone material in it, coated with a substance that encourages bone growth, so that it all fuses together. He then makes a small incision over my spine and inserts screws in the facet joints, to keep that level of my spine from moving.

The only hitch was that my disc degeneration was worse than expected. Initially, the doctor could not get the instrument into the space between my vertebrae. It was too narrow, being bone-on-bone in some places. He maneuvered enough to get in there, though, and the surgery went well after that.

I'm just getting to the point of being able to use my laptop. Apparently, it's a day my boss has been waiting for. A couple of days after my surgery, my pal Cathy was in a meeting with him, when a question that I'd usually answer came up.

"Can we just prop Blogget up and ask her this one?" she joked.

"I'm just about ready to do that," he said. He's been the one fielding the questions that usually go to me.

I'm not telling him I can use the computer just yet.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Biscuits and Okra

It's been wild lately! Lots to tell. First off, Ranger and I enjoyed a nice trip to Denver a couple of weeks ago. I actually had to attend a workshop there, but that was fine. We braved the snow on the Front Range and had a lovely time.

My favorite moment was the Saturday morning before we hit the road. We took our lazy time moving that morning. He went downstairs and returned with all kinds of breakfast goodies. We sat on the cozy bed, watching TV and munching away on breakfast sandwiches, juice, and coffee. It was a peaceful moment to the two of us, before facing the real world.

I saw the surgeon yesterday. He explained the procedure they'll do on my spine, then sent me to the hospital for pre-op testing and all. I'm in terrible pain this week, though. Had to resort to morphine to get through the night. The surgery can't come fast enough, in some ways.

A lot of yesterday's pain was brought on by traveling. Last week, I attended that conference I love to go to every fall. The one I know Vince from. This is my seventh year to attend. I'm on the Board. So, I have many friends I look forward to seeing each year.

Just for the record, SC was not there again this year. A couple of people asked about him, but all I could say was last time I heard from him was about 3:00 AM when he was having dating trouble, which happens when you date your ex-spouse.

My co-presenter, my friend Cathy, made all kinds of noises when I said we needed to be at the airport at 5:30 AM on Wednesday. She grumbled to her husband all the way there that morning. "Blogget better be here," she said. "Making me get up so early...."

I was there and already checked in when she got there. Ha!

We had a decent layover in Dallas on the way to Montgomery, Alabama. It was 9:30 in the morning, and Cathy wanted pizza. All right, I thought. What the hell? We had pizza for breakfast, at the DFW Pizza Hut. As we're leaving, Cathy points. "What is that doing here?"

One condiment bin was filled with...grape jelly.

At a pizza place. WTF?

That kind of set the tone for the day.

Once we arrived in Montgomery and made it through the cabbie we couldn't understand, we settled in at the Renaissance Hotel in the downtown area. Love, love, love this hotel, by the way. You gotta love any place that has the Star Wars Cantina Band song among the tracks in their Jazz selection in the lobby.

I spent a little time working on the research report for the conference. We conduct an annual survey of distance programs, and I'm in charge of it this year. A database glitch caused me to get some of the data late, so I was still compiling the report upon arrival. Cathy checked her email, then we headed out to kill some time.

Montgomery has this great trolley system. Two routes take you on a tour of the downtown area, for a quarter per ride. So, for a whole dollar, we both rode on both routes to get an overview of things to see in Montgomery.

Wow. This is what blew me away on this trip. This town is not only rich in history, but it's also history that happened in layers. I mean, on top of each other. And the issues are so entwined. It's completely amazing. And I never left the downtown area.

This one pales by comparison to the historical sites in Montgomery, but our hotel was across the street from the Hank Williams Museum. The trolley recording told us that they have the car he died in. So, knowing nothing about his death and being a morbid person, I looked it up. I expected a car accident, but no....it's a much more bizarre story. I won't retell it here, but go to this page on The Death of Hank Williams to read it.

All I can say is it's a pathetic story. How sad is it that someone can be such a drunk that no one notices he's DEAD for hours? I mean, people with him, driving around his dead body, thinking he's just passed out again. Wow. His driver even got pulled over, given a ticket, drove into the next town, went to see a judge, paid his fine, and got back on the road....all without noticing his passenger was dead. I mean, really?

On our last day there, a bunch of us visited his grave. Someone had left a nearly-empty bottle of Crown Royal at the grave, with cups they'd used to drink to him. How ironic. Here's a pic -- note the bottle and cups on the ground:

But it's the rest of the history of Montgomery that fascinates me. Here's the spot where Rosa Parks caught the bus that fateful day:

By the bus stop is the building that was the Confederate Post Office. Close by is the building where the telegram was sent to clear the Union troops from Fort Sumter, starting the Civil War.

Walk about a block and a half from that spot, and you're standing where Rosa Parks was arrested. The museum with her name on it stands there now. The theater that used to be there was where Hank Williams won his first music contest. It's also where the slave markets once stood.

Go a few blocks in the other direction, and you're standing in front of this church.

This church is significant for its former pastor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. See those lower doors? That's the room where the bus boycott was planned, and became the headquarters for the civil rights movement. While I was in my Board of Directors meeting the following day, Cathy went on the tour of this church. She was the only person there, so she was allowed to stand at MLK's pulpit and sit at his desk. Wow. I was so jealous....

Anyhow, see the woman pointing in the picture above? This is what she's pointing at:

The monument in the foreground is right across the street from the church. RIGHT there. The monument marks the spot where Jefferson Davis's inaugural parade started. He took the oath of office on the portico of the capital building, in the background. The Civil War memorial is to the left, in the trees.

See what I mean? Layers of history, in one place. Absolutely fascinating.

After our wanderings, we met the other "early birds" for dinner that evening. We went across the street to an Italian restaurant called SaZa's, run by chef Joe DiMaggio, Jr. AMAZING food! Authentic Italian that apparently outdid Cathy's Italian momma.

And who sits down next to me but Vince. I had been debating about whether or not it would be cool to bring up the review visit.

"I'm coming to see you in a couple of weeks," he said. Well, that put an end to my debate.

Vince is a wine enthusiast, so I told him it's a shame he won't have a chance to visit some of our dozen or so vineyards. He said, "Maybe you're unaware of the customary gift basket given to reviewers...." Ha!

The more we talked about where we live, the more people around us listened. Now, the debate is, when can we have the conference in Grand Junction? That would be exciting for me, to show off some of this area.

Our food began to arrive. Plates of manicotti, spaghetti, pizza, and other wonders were set in front of us. I ordered rigatoni bolognese. I didn't get a plate.

I got a big, black, clay pot. Everyone around me went gaga. "WHAT did you order?"

It had a HUGE wooden spoon stuck through the lid's handle. It was poking me so I had the big spoon in my hand when the waiter appeared again, ready to put a plate in front of me.

He eyed the big serving spoon in my hand and said, "If you want to eat it that way, you can. But I'd recommend the plate and fork." Funny boy.

He opened the pot for me. It was filled with the most incredible-looking food, with the most incredible-smelling aroma wafting out with the steam. "Good thing we have a fridge in the room," I said.

"But you don't have a microwave," said Vince. Good point.

I ate the whole dang thing. It was just too delicious to stop. I was miserable, but wouldn't have given up a bite!

Cathy and I spent part of the next morning doing some work. She answered email, and I finished compiling the research from the group's survey this year. I sent it off to the Webmaster to post online, and we were free until my Board meeting later that afternoon.

We set off down the street, to see if the baseball stadium had a shop that was open. See, Montgomery has a minor league baseball team. It's the AA affiliate for the Tampa Bay Rays. That makes it the perfect souvenir for Son. It's just that the team name is a little funky....

They had a contest to name their team. A local lawyer won, when he said, "What could be more southern than biscuits?"

Oh, yes, my friends. They are....the Montgomery Biscuits.

Intimidating, yes? Especially when you see the mascot, Monty the Biscuit:

The pad of butter in his mouth makes me laugh. Apparently, they shoot biscuits from cannons when they make a home run.

This just might be the most hilarious mascot ever. Or so I thought, until the next day....but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Lots of people at my house ended up with Biscuit souvenirs! Truly unique, and I love to make people laugh.

Vince wandered into the Biscuit store, too. Which, incidentally, is called the Biscuit Basket. He likes baseball caps, so we left him to find one and went to get lunch.

Across the street, we found Dreamland Barbecue. Oh, the smell coming from that place was heavenly! We settled in and ordered some sandwiches, and set to chatting. Someone was seated at the table on the other side of a low wall from us. They reached up and put their hat on the wall. It was a Biscuits hat. We looked at each other. Could it be....

Yup. It was Vince. He decided to join our table. He doesn't know Cathy very well, so he was very gentlemanly in getting to know her, too. We talked about the apparent differences in Texas barbecue, Kansas City barbecue, and Alabama barbecue. Soon, another good friend from Vince's school joined us. This was my dear friend who gave us the lightsabers last year. He's just arrived in Montgomery.

"You should have been at the restaurant we went to last night," Vince said.

"Was it good?" the friend asked.

"Good?" Vince said. "You should have seen Blogget! We had to pry her head out of the dish her food came in!"

"Licked it clean," I said, laughing.

Have I mentioned how much I love seeing these people every year?

At the Board meeting that afternoon, the major issue before us was the drop in registrations for the conference. We usually have about 100 people. Last year, we had 90. This year, with budgets being slashed all over the place, we had 50. Dang. We're undergoing a name change to clarify the group's purpose and attract more people in our field, but we've gotta get the ball rolling on that. People want to debate all day, but I'm soooo sick of that. Just get it done, people!

What's sad is that one of the people who couldn't come due to budgets was the president of the organization. Unbelievable. I had to pay most of my own expenses to get there, and I was doing essentially three presentations.

We had various committee reports. I had submitted one of our courses for an award, but it didn't win. Remember droopy-dog lady fro last year? The one who got caught trying to start gossip about South Carolina and a woman in her office? She's on that awards committee. Again, this year, she opened her mouth and some of the dumbest things I've ever heard spilled out.

"I never read those cover letters people send," she said. This made me fume because our cover letter had contained really important information about the course. "And if there's too many steps to get into the course, I don't look at it. That indicates a problem with the course."

No, it doesn't. That's a problem with the school's online system. Not the instructor's fault. They should be given points for working with a wonky system.

My good friend Mick from Minnesota arrived. We Twitter all the time, and I'd agreed to help with his workshop on using Twitter for professional and educational endeavors. Mick also sends me lots of cool Star Wars links via Twitter. We're complete geeks, and love it!

We had a opening reception that night, but a bunch of us met for cocktails in the hotel bar before that. I can't tell you how many times I heard, "Let me buy you a drink!" on this trip.

Have I mentioned yet how much I love seeing these people, each year?

One of the highlights of this conference for me is the silent auction. Everyone brings things from their school and region to be auctioned, then the proceeds go to a charity in the area where the conference is being held.

And I'm horrendously competitive at a silent auction. I apologize ahead of time, because I can and do lose control. Seriously.

So, I'm cruising the silent auction items, and lo and behold, I find out that I was wrong the previous day. The Montogomery Biscuits are not the most hilarious mascot ever. This fella is:

The Delta State University....Fighting Okra.

He's an angry little vegetable.

"Look at the pickle!" Cathy said. She was corrected. He's an okra. With boxing gloves. And a very angry face (like that makes him a scary side dish).

I bid on the Fighting Okra hat for Son. Vince was bidding against me. "You're driving up that price," he finally said to me.

"You don't understand," I said. "I'm bidding on that for my son. You're going against a Mommy here."

He gave me a level stare. "You want a good review, don't you?"

I let him have the hat. Son got the t-shirt.

Have I mentioned yet how much I really love seeing these people?

The next morning, we started with a breakfast meeting and keynote speaker. We're all sitting nicely and looking all professional. Then this happened....

Seriously. This woman stood up at her seat, during the keynote speaker's talk, and did needlepoint. While doing this marching in place thing. She even did three thread color changes on her needlepoint, while standing there as the man is trying to talk. Wow.

I ditched Twitter for this one and sent Mick a text. He had his back to this woman. It saw him do the subtle "I'm just looking around" thing, and spot her. His expression was priceless.

Now, on the marching in place thing, I gave her the benefit of the doubt and thought maybe she had a circulation issue and couldn't sit that long. But no....she sat just fine through the rest of the sessions that day. Still doing her needlepoint!

Unbelievable. People can be so weird.

At lunch, my friend from Texas - the fiery little Hispanic woman I see whenever I visit Lubbock - was getting nervous about our presentation that afternoon. "I have to go over my notes," she said. "And I keep reminding myself, 'You can't cuss. You can't cuss.'" Gotta love that!

This post is getting long, so I'll spare the rest of the details. The presentations went very well. My friends noticed the addition of the ring on my hand, and were full of questions about Ranger. More questions about my upcoming surgery.

As I do every year at this conference, I felt the love from people I admire and respect, and am humbled by their admiration and respect.

Saying goodbye is always hard. Cathy and I stood in the hall, watching the elevator doors close. The crowd inside waved and yelled goodbyes to us. "See you next week!" Vince hollered as the doors shut.

Man, I love seeing these people.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why I hate my brother-in-law

I've probably railed about this guy before. I think the only reason my sister is still married is that one of her kids has some mental instability that makes it doubtful he'd survive a divorce very well. The kids idolize their dad, of course. He's a Marine in Afghanistan. He's a hero. To them.

Not to me. Can't stand the guy. He's a complete asswipe, in my humble opinion. He'll be here for Christmas, though, and I couldn't dread it more. I just don't know if I can make nice for that long.

So, he has this leave coming up for Christmas. Of course, the kids are over the moon about seeing him. He's been in Afghanistan for a long time, which is not only far away, but also quite scary for them.

For my sister's part of this, she caught him cheating last year. With a woman involved with the youth group one of their kids was enjoying. Thanks, Dad, for making it impossible for this child to return to something he loved doing. While he's been gone, he's been swearing he's working on changing, that he wants to save his marriage. He's a new man, who makes his family more important now.

Yeah. Right.

My sister plans a big reunion for them in December. She books his flight from California to Salt Lake City, so they can meet him there, see the sights, enjoy the pretty Christmas lights, then come here together for Christmas. The kids are beside themselves, counting the days to seeing their Daddy again.

Asswipe calls the other day. "I think I'd rather go see my mom during my leave," he says.

Instead of seeing his kids.

After months of being gone from them.

At Christmas.


My sister refused to change the plans. So, instead, his mom is coming here, too. A day before Daughter and I leave for San Antonio. Lucky us! His mom is an asswipe, too. The type of woman who deliberately gives her grandkids things my sister says they are allergic to.

But...can you believe the man would actually think this was reasonable?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


So, the cardiologist visit went well.

He looked at my EKG and said that he actually would not have run the stress test based on that. He showed me the report from the stress test, which basically said I possibly had a "small area" that possibly had a "minor" problem.

In other words, it's the possibility of the possibility of a minor issue. I'm a lot less worried now.

The doctor wasn't worried at all, but will look in on me when I'm in the hospital.

Surgery is still on, for the 24th.

When we left the office, Ranger crumbled a little. He held on to me, right there in the hallway, and let the tears of relief go. He'd been holding in his worry, so he didn't upset me more, and now it was over, so he just let it go.

"I don't know what I'd do without you," he said into my shoulder.

Next week will be rough. I know I'll be out of it for most of the time. He plans to be at the hospital the whole time, watching over me. Then, he'll be at my house, watching over me.

My mother is a little intimidated by this, but she'll just have to deal. She's talked to me more in the last couple of days, since thinking I had a life-threatening problem, than she has in months. But Ranger is constant and consistent, so I know he'll take good care of me.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

STILL scared and impatient

They scheduled the stress test and scans for Friday the 13th. So appropriate, given how that number follows me around.

On Thursday, the nuclear medicine department calls me to change the schedule.

"We ran out of the stuff that makes it easier and faster for the patient," the guy said. "So, we have to give you the other stuff."

Don't you love that?

So, I was to report to the hospital at 8:45 AM - fasting - for a 9:30 appointment. They'd do a chemically-induced stress test on me, since my back and knee won't allow me to be on a treadmill for long. Then, I receive the radioactive stuff (Thalium, I think) and get scanned. Then, I get more radioactive stuff and go home for four hours, and come back for more scans.

About 3:30 AM on Thursday, I woke up panicked. I was sure I'd just eaten some licorice and blown the whole test day. But wait....I didn't have any licorice. It was a dream. A very vivid dream. I tried to go back to sleep, but no good.

About 7:30 AM, my sister tells me to come down for breakfast. She's made waffles.

"I can't eat," I said.

"Oh no!" she said. "I'm sorry! And you've been smelling these cooking, too!"

Uhm, yeah.

Ranger picked me up to go to the hospital. He was super worried, I could tell. I changed into that lovely gown they give you and got an IV started. Then, I waited to be called for the test. Ranger and I made fun of a magazine in the waiting area. National Geographic....from July 1998!

Soon, a woman named Marijana (if that doesn't make you do a double-take....) came and got me for the test. They hooked me up to all the cords and the stuff that would simulate a physical stress test. It's day-glo yellow. Once it started, I felt flush and my head buzzed. And a headache started. And my stomach hurt. The test lasted for about 15 minutes. Then, I got the radioactive stuff and went to the scan room.

It looks like a feet-first open-air MRI. They strap you in and put your arms up, and you sit still while huge camera rotate around your chest, taking pictures of your radioactive, glow-in-the-dark heart.

Then, you get another dose of radioactivity and go away for four hours. This is when I noticed that they bring the medication to you in a lead container. Kind of intimidating....

When she put the medicine in my IV, she asked, "Does it give you a bad taste in your mouth?"

I said no. "It makes everything smell funny."

She gave me an odd look. "I've never had anyone say that before."


And I'm free to go. The headache has gotten worse, though. She gave me the remedy: "Go take a couple of ibuprofen and two cups of coffee. It'll reverse the effects of the stress test."

So, with that prescription, I head out with Ranger to find food and caffeine.

I made it about three blocks before the dry heaves set in. I was completely miserable.

We found food I could tolerate. While we waited for our order, Ranger ran across the street and bought some ibuprofen for me from a convenience store. It actually relieved him to have something to do that would help me. The poor guy just doesn't know what to do with himself when I'm feeling bad.

Long story short, four hours later, my headache was gone, and I went back for the second scan.

"When will I get the results?" I asked the radiology tech.

"It takes a couple of days to get the report," she said. "So, call your doctor on Tuesday and see if she has it yet."

Tuesday. Wait for Tuesday. Four days. Ugh. That's a big stretch of my patience.

So, I set about distracting myself. Ranger took me over to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I don't move so quickly these days, since they took me off of my anti-inflammatory in preparation for the surgery. The pain has been incredible. So, I made my slow-poke way around the store, looking for a new pillow and birthday ideas for my dad.

This is about when I realized that I left my cell phone at home. Dangit! So, I texted my mom and my daughter (she's in Vegas on a school trip right now) from Ranger's phone, to let them know to call me there.

Ranger and I decided to go to dinner, then call it a day. We had a delightful dinner out, with him being sweet to me. I'd taken some pain medicine, so I had the illusion of being pain-free for a short time.

We spoke loving words, and I appreciate so much how supportive he is of me. The health issues have been heavy lately. We talked about our first few dates, how we did some hiking around the Monument. Now, I couldn't do that. I look forward to being better able to move, without pain. There's a light at the end of the tunnel....

Back at home, we chatted with my mom and sister for awhile, watched a little TV. But it had been a long day, so Ranger headed for home early. Time to turn in.

"Where's my phone," I asked, before heading to bed. I'd missed a couple of Tweets. A text from Daughter, that she had re-texted to Ranger's phone. And a call from "Blocked ID" with a voicemail.

Probably a telemarketer, I thought, but I dialed voicemail anyhow.

But it wasn't a telemarketer. It was my doctor, calling from her private phone. At 5:30 PM. After office hours.

"Hi Blogget. Your test results show you definitely need more workup. We'll start first thing Monday morning to get you to a cardiologist before surgery time. You definitely need to be seen before you have surgery. This needs a closer look. If you have any questions, call me Monday. We open at 8:00 AM. Otherwise, we'll call you about your cardiologist appointment."

For a moment, I couldn't breathe. She sounded urgent. Concerned. I started to kick myself for forgetting my phone, but realized I wouldn't have answered a Blocked ID, anyhow. And she called after hours, so I couldn't have called her back right then, either.

I have to wait for Monday to get details. I don't even know what exactly is wrong with me. But I now know for sure, something is definitely wrong. With my heart. My heart. And it could have been going on for awhile.

My mother thinks it started when Son beat the crap out of me in April. She says that the week after that incident, I complained about my chest hurting. I just remember being bruised and sore. She says I haven't felt well since then. Then again, I have a family history of heart trouble that's scary, too.

I don't know what to think. It's like I can feel my heart beat, constantly. I find myself thinking, Was that right? Did it beat wrong just then?

Ranger took the news hard. He became very depressed that night, and he was desperate to prove to me that he would always be there for me, no matter what. He was afraid he hasn't done enough to show me that now. I'm afraid I was weak on convincing him he has not let me down, that I know he's there for me. I mean, I told him that, repeatedly, but I was too worn out with my own reeling from the news to completely reassure him.

I was just ill-equipped in that moment to handle someone else's emotions. Especially when he told me that he kept thinking of his ex-wife's brother, who went in for routine surgery and died on the table, with a heart problem that had recently been diagnosed.

"That didn't help me feel better," I said. He apologized for sharing that with me, that he should have thought more before speaking. We were both overly emotional at the time. Sleeping on it, as much as I could, helped a little.

So, I'm waiting again. Monday, I have to find a way to deal with this AND the visit by the HLC reviewers. I'm not sure how I'll pull that off.

11-17-09: My doctor got me an appointment with a cardiologist today at 12:45. Anxiously awaiting that appointment, to find out more details of what's wrong. My doctor explained yesterday that the radiologist called her Friday to say that I showed "borderline" reduced bloodflow to the coronary artery. The cardiologist will have to determine what needs to be done, if it can be done before my scheduled surgery, if the surgery needs to be rescheduled, or if the treatment can wait until after surgery. Stay tuned....

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Scared and impatient

I know I've said this before, but I'm not a patient person.

Pain doesn't help that situation. With the upcoming surgery, I've been able to focus on a "deadline," of sorts. The point at which I'm likely to get some relief. I know, it'll hurt more before it gets better, but there's hope on the other side. I can make it to November 24th.

The other day, the hospital did all of it's pre-op testing. Yesterday, I went to my regular doctor to get medical clearance for surgery.

She furrowed her brow at the hospital's EKG report. "Have you ever had symptoms of a heart attack?"

Now, there's a question you don't like to hear.

"No. I've never had a problem. Why?"

She points at the piece of paper. "Right here, on your chart, we like to see a nice little bump there. Yours is flat. The report says this indicates that at some point you've had restricted bloodflow to this part of your heart."

Or, in other words, a heart attack.

"You've never had symptoms?"

No. I haven't. But neither did my dad, when he had two stints put in his heart and was told he could have had a major heart attack at any moment. And neither did my grandmother, when she had a heart attack no one saw coming, and died at age 56.

So, tomorrow morning, I go for a stress test. The doctor said the anomaly was "very minor" on the EKG, but we need to make sure. If anything shows, I need to see a cardiologist and surgery will be postponed. The thing that makes it worse is the waiting to find out. I'm a scared, impatient person.

Ranger is worried. He's always at a loss when I cry.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Not a peon....

Although, our VP has thought so. Until now.

Our school has applied to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) to create fully-online degree programs. They're sending two reviewers to check out our distance program next week. Our VP is understandably stressed about this visit, which has a trickle-down effect to my boss.

So, I'm sitting in my boss's office a couple of weeks ago, discussing this. He says, "I finally got the names of the reviewers and what schools they're from." He's digging around on his desk for the piece of paper, while he tells me the first name. It means nothing to me. He finds the second one.

"Here it is. Vince Paulman."

I laughed out loud, startling him. "Really?" My boss is looking at me like he's considering calling security.

Dear Diary, do you remember last summer, when my favorite conference was approaching, and I decided I wasn't going to do any presentations that year? I let the proposal deadline pass, but my phone rang a week later. One of the organization's big-wigs called me and said, "We noticed you didn't submit a proposal. I'm calling to ask you to please reconsider. If you need a topic, I'll give you one. If you need help, I'll co-present with you. How about it?"

That call came from Vince Paulman. I ended up doing two presentations, one with him.

So, back to my boss's office.


"Yeah. Why?"

I gave a thumbs up. "Vince is my bud. I've known him since 2003." I explained how I knew him, and my boss started picking my brain about him. I went to my office, pulled up some titles of Vince's articles, and sent them to my boss.

Pretty soon, I get an email from the VP. "Do you have copies of any of these articles that I could read?" I sent what I had, including the one that described Vince as "America's foremost expert" on the history of our industry.

What I didn't know was that at the same time I was talking to my boss, my other co-presenter for the conference last year was in a meeting with the VP and the President of the college. The names of the HLC reviewers came up, and she had just about the same reaction I did.

The President looked at her and said, "You know him?"

"No," she said, waving away the suggestion. "Blogget Jones does. They go way back."

She said his head about spun around. She described it as seeing a light bulb come on with him and the VP.

Maybe Blogget isn't such a peon after all. Maybe she actually accomplishes things at these conferences.

Other than having a good time, that is. Although, I do have that. The post about this year's conference is coming!

Monday, October 26, 2009


The thing is, I just don't want to live at my house anymore. It's become a very unpleasant place to be. But for now, I'm stuck.

Here's a run-down of the situation. Since my divorce, I've shared a home with my parents. We buy two-story homes together, where they have a wing of their own and the kids and I have the upstairs. We share the kitchen area. I've always been close to my mother, considering her a friend in adulthood. Sometimes, it's obvious I'm her only friend. She isn't a social person.

My sister has always been the loose cannon. She's the one who got into all kinds of trouble as a teenager, including alcohol and drugs. She has also demonstrated a frightening ability to turn her back on family (including her own children) when she finds something else she'd rather do. The maternal instinct seems to have missed that one. In short, she's a flake.

I've learned in recent years, though, that when she comes to visit now, she becomes the center of my mother's universe. Our relationship goes on the back burner. My sister does what she can to make sure it stays back there. She snipes about me behind my back. She exaggerates or even makes up situations, with a spin to put me in a bad light. She says I've said terrible things about my mother. And she makes sure my mother and I don't have any private conversations, as much as possible.

After a couple of weeks, Mom usually realize this is happening and makes an effort to repair the damage, rebuild the bridge. And we start over.

Then, last summer happened.

My sister came to visit and stayed for the entire summer. This was a couple of months after her near-electrocution. Later, my mother said, "Maybe it's because I felt I nearly lost her that I soaked up everything around her." As she put it, she got "lost in SisterWorld" and saw only what she constructed for her. And that was a world where I was the bad seed and Ranger was my evil partner. She picked on Daughter, and bought her way into Son's brain. He soaked it up, too. He has the same frightening ability to turn on the people who most support him, too, when he sees advantage in being close to someone else. It scares me and breaks my heart.

The thing is, my sister doesn't like her life. A husband who constantly cheats. Health problems. Children who are difficult to manage. No career or skills for getting a career. She sees the life I've made, and she longs for it.

After my sister had gone back home, it took a couple of weeks for my mother to come back to reality. She felt bad that she'd gotten so immersed in it, especially when she realized the damage to our relationship. She felt a little foolish to have allowed herself to be blinded. She even made an effort to get close to Ranger again. Things got back to normal.

When I knew my sister was coming this summer, I tried to talk to my mother about how to keep her from taking over again this year. I was too late. "That never happened," my mother said, when I used her words about "SisterWorld" back at her.

"You're paranoid," she said. That's her new buzz word, by the way. I'm not sure she knows what it means.

"You're just jealous of your sister," she said. That is laughable. Jealous of what? The difficult children? The cheating husband? Yep, that has to be it.

"You're just trying to cause trouble," she said. When have I ever done that? I've always been the peaceful child. But she had already forgotten that. Apparently, the sniping had begun. I was indeed too late. SisterWorld had arrived, even before my sister had.

It's been downhill from there.

Early in the summer, I had problems with migraines. I went to the doctor and the ER several times. My mother not only never asked about accompanying me (something she actually likes to do), but she also never asked how it went. She'd criticize that it was taking me too long to feel better. She would try to pick arguments with me. As I was taking morphine to try to dull the pain, she and my sister would holler across the house, slam doors, turn up the television in the common room, and berate me for not cooking dinner or doing dishes.

A strange thing happens when you have a chronic illness. Those who cared for you in the beginning get tired of it. They forget about it. They carry on without you. This is what happened with my mother. She never asked how I was doing anymore. She never visited with me. She hardly spoke to me.

She came down with a flu about this time. I went to her room one day to check on her. She was depressed. She was watching TV by herself, listening to my dad and my sister laughing in the next room.

"After a couple of days, they forget about you," she said. "They forget you need anything. I think I've been guilty of that with you lately, and I'm sorry." Wow. Some insight happened. Maybe things would change.

Then, the car accident happened.

I have to pat myself on the back for a moment here. In that accident, I had the presence of mind to avoid what could have been a much worse collision. I consciously avoiding t-boning that woman's car, which would have probably killed her and put us in a head-on situation. I also swerved so the impact was on the right front corner of the car, instead of on the passenger doors of my car, which would have injured Ranger and Daughter.

Did I hear about "thank goodness you were able to do that"? No. See, the woman was still accelerating when she hit me. I couldn't stop the skid into the other side of the highway. I could have gone into the ditch or into the oncoming lane. No cars were coming, so I stayed in the lane.

What did I hear? "You could have been killed, going to the other side like that."

Funny thing, the migraines stopped. I dealt with pain in my hand, neck, back, and chest. Everything got better, except the back. My degenerative disc disease had been under control for a couple of years. Little pain, until the accident. It pushed the issue and bent me up again, like I haven't been in years.

One Sunday morning, I could hardly move. I could feel the bone-on-bone sharply. "Why aren't you ready for church?" she said.

"Are you serious?" I said. "Look at me!"

"You haven't been to church in a couple of weeks," she said. "It's always some excuse like this."

I exploded that morning. An excuse? I can't walk, and it's an "excuse"? Her priority was how it would look to others for me to not be in church that day. No concern whatsoever for what was happening with me.

And the walls in our house are thin. As she went back to her room, I could hear her voice and my dad's, as she told him all about my "excuse" and what a poor example I was to my children. This from my mother, who had once been my friend. The one I'd always be able to lean on.

The sniping continued with my sister. See, Ranger comes to see me. He dotes on me. He takes care of me and my kids. He makes sure I have anything I need, and that I don't have to do anything that hurts. My sister has never had that.

So, again, we became a target for her, together. She actually combed through his photos on Facebook. She found some that were taken in his old apartment, but she ran them to my parents with a new spin. "Look! They're in a hotel room together! And they posted this where the kids can see it!"

Can you believe it?

When confronted, I showed my mother what the pics really were. "Oh, she made a mistake," my mother said.

"No," I said. "She wanted to cause trouble between my and you and Dad. She wanted to make me look bad."

"She'd never do that." That's the view from SisterWorld.

So, then I came down with a recurrence of the infection that caused the cyst last summer.  I came back from the doctor and sat gingerly on the couch. I've become accustomed to having no one ask how I'm doing and pretty much ignore me. My mother watched me sit down, though.

"So, when do they think you'll be well?" she said. I looked at her in disbelief. It was not said with concern. It was said with a sneer, with full condescension. I looked at the two of them, a matched pair, completely put out with my obvious discomfort, and the inconvenience it caused them. As if I enjoy feeling like an invalid.

I went to my room. When I'm in there, I'm "out of sight, out of mind" to them. But it shelters me from a lot of crap. Still, it breaks my heart that crossing that threshold pretty much means I cease to exist in my parents' world. And that it gives my sister what she wants, in the end.

The clearest example I can give is one particular evening, when I got home from work. My folks, my sister, and her kids were in the driveway, laughing about something. I pulled in, literally parking among them. I waved at my nephew and started gathering my things to go in the house.

I looked up to see my sister ushering everyone inside. Then, they shut the garage door, almost literally in my face. I opened it again, walked through the house, and upstairs. I've never felt so invisible.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself that the pain medication is there for physical pain, not for the emotions I want to numb.

Things were a little better when my folks traveled to Florida recently. My mother texted and called me, just to say "How are you?" I'd answer, and sometimes get a little conversation about it. I had to wonder, was she feeling the end of my sister's visit coming? They should be leaving after Christmas. Maybe she's a little scared that she's burned the bridge with me, and she will be without a buddy when my sister leaves.

See, since being here, my mom and sister have become peas-in-a-pod, as I called them. Mom goes to work on her own, but outside of that, they do everything together. And to the exclusion of others. Well, the exclusion of me. They ask Dad to join them sometimes. They don't even tell me if they go somewhere. They're just gone, leaving the kids with me without my knowledge. I've gotten to where I don't tell them if I have plans. I just take care of my stuff, and Daughter's stuff. She's left out, too.

Then, Mom and Dad got home. Things went back to "normal." Mom stopped talking to me. She and my sister stayed in her room, talking about the trip. I went in and, again, might as well have been invisible. When I chimed in, suddenly it was time for bed. I didn't even get to finish what I was asking.

The next morning, I figured out why my mother's attitude changed. Sometime the night before, it had been determined that my sister and her kids would be with us another year. Her husband is being deployed again after Christmas. Mom's buddy is not going away.

This is a nightmare for me. Family has always been my #1 priority, where friends have been my sister's. Now, I see their backs turned on me. I see her manipulating things, and I'm just not up to fighting for it anymore.

Ranger is worried about my upcoming surgery. He's worried about the care, or lack thereof, I'll receive at home. Already, he is the one who goes to the doctor's appointments with me. He is my other set of ears. He's the one I discuss my options with.

I asked him the other day, "Do you want to be there when I'm coming out of anesthesia?"

"Yes. Definitely."

"Then I should warn you...."

"Anesthesia makes you sick?"

I laughed. "No. That would probably be better. It pisses me off. I will apologize now for how foul I will undoubtedly be." He laughed, but I'm serious.

So, now, I spend a lot of time thinking about what IS worth fighting for.

My kids. Son is always a little tenuous. You never know when that tide will turn. He's 18. He's wanting to be his own person, have his own space. College is coming soon. Daughter is devoted to me. We have a unique bond. She's loving her high school years, and I'm here to support her for that.

Ranger. My relationship with him is what I always thought love should be. We are strong together. We support one another.

And there you have it. What I think I should do is pay off the debt I have and find my own house, for the kids and I. Then, help Ranger get financially stable (which is getting there - he just reopened his business), and get married. Go on a honeymoon. See my kids through to independence-hood.

When I retire, Ranger and I can buy an RV. We'll tour the country, seeing everything we just talk about now.

And my folks? Well, I think they always counted on me to take care of them in their twilight years. Now I think they can stay in SisterWorld.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fall is upon us again!

I love Fall. The changing weather. The cloudy days. Dragging out the heated mattress pad so you can still sleep with the window open and not freeze your ass off at night. Cocoa. Fire in the woodstove. Just love it all!

I took the above picture as I was walking to work this morning. It was a cloudy morning, but the colors were still so lovely. It almost made me like the walk to my office.

But those injections have very much worn off, so walking isn't so fun. I feel like an invalid. I walk at a steady pace, but everyone still passes me. I need a shorter walk, so I'll have to beg the parking people for that.

What to do now? Surgery. Injections are no longer an option because they made my diabetes go completely haywire. That's too dangerous. On November 24th, I'll go under the knife. They'll remove the almost-gone discs and start fusing the vertebrae. I'll probably be in the hospital for Thanksgiving, but Ranger promises me a picnic dinner in my room. I love stuffing, with Worcestershire sauce all over it!

And Daughter is anxious to take care of me. "I'll be here for you, Mommy!" she said. Fourteen and still is comfortable calling me Mommy. Gotta love that. She's really coming into her own lately. Marching band has given her a place to be and an identity. Not only is she a proud band geek, but she's also a DRUMLINE band geek. That's legit, she says.

While other bands are winding down their season, hers is getting ready for competition in Las Vegas and halftime at the Alamo Bowl. It's going to get cold out on that practice field!

I'm getting ready for that favorite conference of mine, the first week of November. It's in Alabama this time. South Carolina will not be there...again. That's okay. According to his Facebook page, he's engaged to his ex-wife. I spoke with him the other day, and he said, "It's going okay, and I'm taking it slow." What?!?! You're engaged to her! The woman whose cheating caused your divorce, and who you've already caught cheating again. Good luck, dude!

For my relationship wonderfulness, my horrid outbreak is almost healed. Three weeks, my ass. It's been six miserable, painful weeks. No sex since September 1. Not that I've felt oh-so-romantic with this crap going on....

I've bitten off more than I can chew with this conference. I've agreed to two presentations, one workshop, and presenting the annual research report. Yep. I'm an idiot.

Dang, this is a rambling post. I don't have anything in particular to tell, but a lot of here-and-there for you, dear Diary. Except the surgery. I'm a little worried about that.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

According to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department....

(And I quote, from the newspaper's police blotter)

"Deputies were dispatched to the 400 block of 30 1/4 Road on a report that a juvenile boy was getting bad grades and not listening to his parents. Deputies advised everyone on possible solutions."


His folks called 911 for this.

And the Sheriff's department really responded.

And the paper really printed it.

You just gotta love small town life.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I think I saw....

...a ghost.

She seemed real. I was walking down the hall, to the bathroom. She came from the stairs and stepped in front of me. She looked over her shoulder at me, then kept walking ahead of me. I noticed a tattoo of Marilyn Monroe's face on her shoulder.

Coincidentally, this happened on the anniversary of Marilyn's death. (Yeah, so I know that date.... She's one of my morbid fascinations.)

Anyhow, we're both headed to the bathroom. Yeah, really...the toilet. That bathroom has two little stalls. She goes to the furthest one, and I go to the close one. From my stall, I can see the feet of anyone leaving the restroom or washing their hands, before they get to the door.

A moment later, the bathroom door opens again. I think, that lady will have to wait because both stalls are full. But no....the newcomer walks past my stall and enters the other one. She uses it. Flushes. Leaves.


That girl never left. She never used the potty, even. I saw her enter the stall. I heard her latch the door. Literally, a moment later, the other woman entered.

I repeat....WTF??

Go figure. We have a potty ghost.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Things aren't always what they appear

Son passed his driver's test yesterday! I can't tell you how many people have responded with, "Stay off the sidewalks!" Ha. Ha...

He had an appointment yesterday afternoon, so we took his car. He's pretty puffed-up, considering he didn't get marked off for anything on his test. He just exhuded an I'm-the-best-driver-ever attitude.

So, we're cruising along the road, and this guy in a pickup pulls up beside Son. We look over, and he's doing this thumbs-up motion at Son.

"Look!" my confident kiddo says. "He likes my car!" Goofy grin in place, he returns the thumbs-up sign and says, "Thank you!" He looks like a proud daddy.

He pulls ahead, but the guy comes alongside again. This time, he's rolling his window down.

"Up top!" he says, motioning again. "Your iPod is on top of the car!"

Son's grin falls, and he reaches to the top. He drops his iPod on the console. I'm starting to laugh, when the guy pulls up again.

"Your phone!"

Son reaches up again and retrieves his precious cell phone.

Good thing for soft Landau tops, or I'm sure the things would have flown off miles ago.

I wave a huge "Thank you!" to the man and he pulls away.

Son is slightly humbled.

I laughed all the way home. "Thumbs-up" indeed!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sometimes I have conversations....

....that I can't believe happened.

One of the college's education courses has an online component in which students participate in online discussions. It's a message board, and the students are graded on their participation.

Three instructors co-teach this course. Each has her own discussion topic in the online course. One of those instructors is my friend and co-presenter from last year's fall conference, Cathy.

I got a frantic message from Cathy:

"Big, big, BIG problem. That new teacher, Lonnie, just deleted some of our discussions. I don't know how, but she did. Please tell me you can restore it from somewhere. Please?"

Well, no good news there. I can't restore it.

Next, I got a call from Lonnie. She told me what she'd done, then said:

"Can't you just restore it from a backup?"

"No," I said. "We do regularly scheduled maintenance, which includes backups, throughout the year, usually at the end of a term. If an instructor wants a backup done at a different time, they have the capability of doing it themselves."

"Well, that's weird," she said. "I don't know why you all can't just keep continual backups of my course yourself."

"The drain on our manpower and servers would be incredible," I said. "That's why instructors can choose to do periodic backups themselves."

"I don't know how to do that," she said. "And no one has told the others how, either."

"Yes, I have. It's in the training workshops they took." I reminded her that we're offering said workshops in a couple of weeks.

"Then I guess I need to take a workshop. You never trained me properly when I started. Cathy showed me what to do, but I shouldn't have been allowed to touch this until I'd had a workshop."

I smiled. "True. If I had my way, no one would use the system until they'd taken the workshops. But too many of your colleagues take exception to being told they HAVE to do something, so it hasn't happened."

"Then you should have had one when I started." Which was about two weeks ago. Yes, ma'am, I should hold four-hour workshops each time a new faculty comes to work at the college. Just for them. I'd never get anything else done.

And I said so. She had me repeat the dates of the workshops to her, and she picked two.

"You know," she said. "I should call the publisher and see if they can do anything about this."

"The publisher?"

"Yeah. The people we bought this WebCT thing from. I'll just call Novell."

WTF?! I tried my best to explain who Novell is and what they do. I ended with, "They have nothing to do with WebCT."

"Then who did we get it from?"


"Then I'll call them."

"That won't help. Like you said, we bought this from them. It's ours. We maintain it on our own servers. The company of WebCT has nothing to do with what's on our campus."

"Oh," she said. "Still, I don't know how this happened. I was just trying to delete my own stuff."

"Well, it sounds like you just accidentally hit the wrong checkbox. That's all."

"I just can't imagine myself doing something like that." Of course not.

"How about this," I said. "Just don't click anything that says "Delete," anymore. OK?"

So, in the end, it was still everyone's fault but her own.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I'm looking forward to having her in my workshop class. Oh joy! Can't wait for that day!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Summer of Insanity

Well, technically, it's not still summer. The weather is cooling down. We're just starting to see fall color in the leaves. Kids are back in school. But for me, it's an Indian summer of insanity.

Since going to the after-hours place, I've learned a couple of things. First, that asswipe doctor didn't believe me that this is the first time I've had an outbreak like this. He put me on the dose of Valtrex that's for recurrences. It's half the dose, for a shorter time, than I should have had. How's that for judgment?

They didn't even tell my regular doctor I'd been there. They are two doors down from her office and didn't send the note that they are apparently supposed to send, to update my records with her. See, in the Grand Valley, the medical community has this great policy of sharing. The hospital here can pull up my x-rays from Montrose, in a moment. But when someone isn't sharing nicely, the system breaks down.

So, I finish that course of Veltrex and am hurting like all hell still. I call my regular doctor. Imagine her surprise to hear I'd been at her neighbors, and she had no idea. She checks it out and calls me back. I get on the right dose of Valtrex, well after the time I should have had it. She's still scrambling to get the lab results from what they ran.

Friday night, about 8:30, I get a call from the after hours place. It's a different doctor, a woman I've seen before. She asks how I'm doing and if I'd gotten all the lab results.

"I think so," I said. I explained about the Valtrex dose.

"What about the urinary infection?" she asked.

"He said it was just a trace," I said. I had a sudden feeling that Dr. Asswipe was about to strike again.

"Oh, no," she said. "We got the culture back from the lab, and it's a severe infection. Have you had fever?"


"Lower back pain? Painful urinating?"

"Yes. And yes," I said. "Plus, I have a really sensitive urinary system." And I explained the whole three-kidney thing.

"Oh, dear. Have you had trouble with infections before?"

"All my life. They even hospitalized me for it when I was a kid."

"Oh, honey," she said. "Can you go pick up a prescription right now?"

Well, no. My pharmacy was already closed.

"All right," she said. "But you go first thing in the morning." Her tone was very "you poor dear." She kept calling me "honey." On some level, I really appreciated that.

Now, I'll finish the Valtrex and the new antibiotic today. I'm nauseous all the time from this, and I'm still having serious pain. Yuck. Please remember, I don't have a low pain threshhold. I haven't had a day without pain since I was 15 years old, when I came down with Junior Rheumatoid Arthritis. It went into remission four years later, but those were some excruciating years. I'm accustomed to pain.

And poor Ranger has had the stomach flu for three days. It's just as well, because he has to come and go through a dirt road. We've had three days of rain. He's not going anywhere, anyhow.

The only thing pleasant has been the weather. I love rain. I adore thunderstorms. We had a nice one Sunday night. Right now, it's 57 degrees outside and cloudy. I can't get enough of that! Bring on autumn. Please!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A milestone for Son

Son turned eighteen on Saturday. I still can't get over that. In a year, he'll be in college. College?! When did that happen?

I talked to him about this milestone the other day. "I know you are about to be a legal adult," I said. "And you think that means you automatically get a lot of responsibilities and freedoms. But you need to remember something. You are still accountable to me. You still rely on me to make a lot of things possible. There's things you have to take care of for that to continue."

"Yeah, I know," he said. "I can't act like a kid anymore."

"Like, I feel like you are more than ready to keep your room in decent shape."

He grinned sheepishly. "Yeah, I know that. If I expect to drive around town on my own, I should be able to handle that."

Well, knock me over with a feather.

He's doing well lately. This new girlfriend has been good for him. She's low-maintenance. Her parents don't let them go unsupervised. I've had a brief run-in with them at my house. They heard me coming close, and I saw her leap from his lap into another chair. I called him aside.

"Certainly, you don't think I didn't see that," I said.

"Yeah," he said.

"You know what's appropriate and what's not. Don't push it. I won't tolerate what I went through with Drama Queen."

"Okay, I'll handle it."

Later, I came upon them again, making out in my living room. This time, I said something. "When you come in my house and behave like that, I feel disrespected," I said. "Disrespect me again, and you won't like what happens."

They stopped, but she didn't move away from him. I took note. However, nothing else has happened.

Ranger has a $50 gift certificate to a local Mexican food restaurant. It's a use-it-or-lose-it kind of deal, so he wants to take me, Son, and the new girlfriend (I need to come up with a name for her) to dinner for Son's birthday. I think that might help us get to know her better.

Son has had trouble finding anyone to talk to him about a job before he's 18. So, he's been doing little jobs. He's refereeing soccer games on the weekends. It's decent money, for a teenager. He'll train to be a baseball umpire in December. He's really looking forward to that.

He decided to take his car to professionals to get some basic things fixed. He looked at some of the problems himself, but found that someone else had tried to fix the wiring and made a mess of it. So, he shelled out some dough and got the heater and turn signals fixed.

See, it dawned on him the other day that having a working heater isn't a big deal when you have to keep rolling down the windows to do arm signals!

On Saturday, I watched this 6'2" man-child roaming around my house and thought about him so many years ago. Is it possible that so many years have gone by? I remember turning on morning PBS cartoons while he played with his beloved trains. He had a train track playset that would end up meandering all over the living room by the time lunch came around.

We also marveled at how fast his feet grew. I could never say, "Act your age, not your shoe size," because his shoe size was way ahead of his age. He stopped at size 15. His dad had a puppy who liked to make a bed out of the top of Son's feet.

We adopted Son when he was 18 months old. For those who don't know the story, his birth mother is my sister. She was quite young when she had him. She met a man and married him when Son was about a year old. He was horrible and abusive, so the marriage lasted about 5 months. After that, she decided single parenthood wasn't for her. She asked me and my now-ex to adopt him.

Immediately, he ate like there was no tomorrow. Breakfast was waffles, fruit cocktail, cereal or oatmeal, eggs, toast, milk, and juice. And he loved cottage cheese. After breakfast, I'd send him off to his trains while I cleaned the kitchen.

One day, he hollered, "Mommy! Come see what I did!"

He had his Tinker-toys out and had been building away. He proudly showed me his handiwork and demonstrated it for me.

The child had built a catapult.

"Oh, sweetie," I said. "Mommy has to go back to school now, to keep up with you!" He beamed.

I love him so much. At times, he's been my greatest love, and my greatest heartache. I hope life is good to him, and he's good to life. And that he makes the most of what God's given him.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Our quick trip to Denver (but a long blog!)

Just a quick note here, before getting into the Denver thing. It's just unbelievable, so I have to mention it. Five days later, and Greg is still asking me for money. Asking, begging, lying, threatening, insulting...anything he can think of to get me to send some cash. Some of his tactics I don't get, like threatening to not speak to me if I don't send something. He even tried, "I want a day off. Send me something so I don't have to work today." Really, dude? I mean...really? Grow up.

All in all, Denver went well. We had a rocky start, though.

See, I finally got my car back from the collision repair place on Friday. Yay! It was 56 days at the shop....yikes.

Saturday morning, there's a big puddle of transmission fluid under it.

Back to the shop it goes. They couldn't finish it on Monday, so they got me a rental again. A little GMC Canyon pickup truck. Ranger was about beside himself with I pulled up. "Oh my God, you look so sexy driving a truck!" he said as he got in the car and nuzzled my neck.

Off to Denver we went. I hate driving long distances myself, but in a rental, I have no choice. The pickup makes my back feel weird because your feet are out in front of you, rather than in a more chair-like position as in my little SUV. Took some adjusting, but I managed! Every once in awhile, the bottom of my foot would go numb, so we'd stop and walk around until it came back.

We made a rest stop at the top of Vail pass. It's so lovely up there! So breezy and cool. When I left the bathroom, I found Ranger looking at a map on the wall. "Hey, on the way back, want to stop in Central City?"

"I've never been there," I said.

"It's a refurbished mining town," he said. "Wooden boardwalks and all. It's like stepping back in time. You'll love it." And it's true. That sounds like my kind of town.

Usually, I like to stay in an extended stay hotel in Aurora. I like the kitchenette. Sunday night, though, I got looking at that plan again. Ranger's court time was 8:30 on Tuesday morning. How early did I want to get up to drive through morning rush hour to get there?


And my back needed a better mattress than previous trips, so I went hotel deal hunting. I found a discount site running 40% if you booked over the weekend. I looked up the court building on Google maps, then matched the downtown hotels to that. Well, the ones I could afford. The court building location wasn't precise, but I knew I was closer than Aurora!

And then I found the Hotel Monaco. This is what the room looked like:

It's a funky hotel. They describe it as "whimsical." And here's an unusual amenity. Look what you can request to have in your room, during your stay (for free):

Yep. A pet goldfish. You just gotta love that.

We finally made our way into Denver close to 8:00 Monday night. Thank God for GPS routing us through traffic and to the hotel. You have no choice but to valet park your car, but they let us take about 20 minutes to get freshened up and snag the car again for dinner.

I've been dying to try this place in Denver. It's the oldest restaurant in the city, established in 1893. The Buckhorn Exchange. The walls are covered in game trophies and signed photos of famous people who have visited there. Among the appetizers are a rattlesnake dip, alligator tail, and Rocky Mountain Oysters. Guess what I had?

Yep. Bull's balls. Sliced up and fried, dipped in horseradish. Yum!

And beer cheese soup. Oh yum.

Ranger had buffalo prime rib and I had elk medallions. The most amazing flavors you can imagine! We about rolled out of that place.

By the time we made it back to the room, I was about to drop. I decided to shower while Ranger watched some TV. I got undressed, then realized I'd left my toiletry bag on the other side of the room. I had to cross between Ranger and his show.

"Pardon me," I said. "Sorry about that...."

"Wait a minute," he said. He turned off the TV. "Did you just apologize for walking naked in front of me?"

I nodded.

"Let's get something straight here and now," he said. "Never apologize for that! Just make sure you do it more often."

I had to laugh. The shower felt nice, and I climbed into bed sleepy and happy. I made a conscious effort to not think about the morning. I welcomed Ranger's hands sliding across the sheets to me. I let him just take me away in sensations. He was in a pleasing and teasing mood. One of the things I like about him is that he's not at all intimidated by sex toys. He's completely into the playfulness of all things sexual.

Things were going just fine when suddenly he dialed the intensity of the thing way high. I yelped and noticed the bizarre look on his face. He held up the buzzing toy.

"Uhm....it's stuck."

And sure enough, he's pushing the button on the thing, but it's not helping. It was an absolutely hilarious picture...Ranger trying to calm the thing by madly pushing the button, while the buzzing was going off the charts.

So, he turned it off and abandoned the thing. Fine with me!

But it would not be ignored! As Ranger and I engaged in our delightful maneuvers in the dark, a sound came from the sheets beside us.

Buzz. (pause) Buzz. (pause) Buzz. Buzz.

We had a haunted sex toy.

That was just it. We busted out laughing. And this is another thing I love. The ability to laugh together during sex, and not take ourselves too seriously.

We lounged against each other until way too late, watching "Futurama" and "King of the Hill." We finally drifted off, but morning came way too early.

Time to face the reality of this trip. We were both pretty quiet that morning. We had a good breakfast. Dressed nice for court. I repacked my purse, to make the security entry easier to manage. We headed to the valet to get the car, and get directions to the court building and public parking.

I handed the tag to the valet guy, and told him where we needed to be. When I asked for directions, he blinked at me.

"You're going where?"

I repeated myself.

"Uhm," he said. "It's right there."

I turned to see where he was pointing. Two blocks away.

"Seriously?" I said.

"Yeah," he chuckled.

I got the car tag back from him. "Thanks." Ranger and I were laughing, too, as we started down the sidewalk.

"You didn't know you'd gotten us that close?" he asked me.

"Nope. I knew I was closer, but not that close!"

In the court building, I hung back and let Ranger take care of things. I sat in the courtroom and listened to them reiterate everything. I listened to the possible sentence, the recommended sentence, and finally, the real sentence.

Five years probation. Pay restitution. Don't incur any debt until restitution is paid. No halfway house recommended. Congratulations, you're now a sentenced felon. All rise.

My brain was screaming. My chest felt tight. But I sat quiet. I waited while all the paperwork and red tape traipsed by.

Ranger was visibly relieved when we left. He hugged me tight. "Thank you so much for being with me here," he said. We walked back to the hotel, holding hands. It was 9:30. Checkout time was 12:00. Time for a nap.

As we got undressed and slipped back into bed, the words in my mind were burning a path to my mouth. "I need something from you," I said.

"Anything," he said, as we pulled the sheets over us.

I turned to face him, looking straight into his eyes. "I need a promise," I said. I felt my throat constricting, forcing my voice to a whisper. "That nothing like this will ever, EVER happen again."

Tears came with the words. I'd been strong and supportive, but I needed to fall apart a little. I'd held it in, and now it was time for it to flow.

I could see this register on his face. He watched my fascade crumble, and it broke his heart a little to know it was for him. He held my face in his hands. He wiped my tears with his thumbs. He looked into my eyes, and said with a solid resolve, "I promise. Never again. It's all over."

The words kept tumbling from me. "Because I can't see you like that again. The man in the courtroom is not the man I know. This was a really bad decision, but it's one that put me and us and everything on the line. You risked it all. I can't be risked again."

His eyes were welling up now. "I know. And I'm so sorry. I won't every do anything to risk us again. I promise."

So, I let it all out. I cried into his shoulder until I fell asleep. We napped, then we got ready to check out and get some lunch. We had our stomachs set on burgers and wings at The Cherry Cricket. I got some special dog treats for the four-legged kids at home at Three Dog Bakery. Then, we hit the road.

It's a pretty short trip to the turnoff for Central City. And they want to make sure you don't miss it:

The town itself isn't too far off the highway, as the crow flies. But this is the route the Parkway takes from I-70 (near the bottom of the pic):

But what scenery! I wish I hadn't been driving, so I could have looked around some more.

Central City is kind of compact. Many buildings, most original to the town, and narrow streets. Here's a look at Main Street:

The fronts of the buildings are protected as historical landmarks. The insides are another story. While the town has kept it's wild-west-mining-town flavor, the old boardwalks that Ranger remembered are now paved. As you pass what you think might be quaint storefronts, only a few have merchandise. Through the others, you see the flashing lights and quietly desperate faces scattered around casinos.

The gamblers have taken over the mining town.

We spent a little while in the Visitor's Center, talking to a very enthusiastic woman who was an absolute fountain of knowledge. We'll do some research on the area and the history before we go back. It's a good place to still experience a chunk of Colorado history and explore what had been a very rich mining area. We'll plan a getaway, some quiet weekend.

Then we headed home. The truck turned out to not be too bad on my back, but I was glad to see the massage therapist the next day.

And now we start putting together the pieces of what make become a life together. We have many ducks floating around, and have yet to see if we can get them in a row enough to turn fantasies of life into realities of life.