Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

My father is the oldest of his mother's five children. She had him when she was all of 15 years old.  He has one brother and three sisters.

I was born when he was 20, so my grandmother became a grandmother at the ripe old age of 35.  I'm the oldest of 15 grandchildren, and many of us have children of our own now.

My dad's second sister started dating her eventual husband when I was still a very little girl. Years later, my uncle would often tell stories of how I'd stare at the two of them as they sat on my grandmother's couch together. I'd just stand there, silent and staring.  He'd finally say something to me, anything, to break the ice with this little toddler. My response?  I'd holler, "I'm telling my daddy!" and run away.

My dad is big man, with the presence and stature of John Wayne.

This young man didn't want me telling my daddy anything!  So, I scared him.

I grew up with this uncle around, though.  They had five children, and we were all playmates.  Their youngest daughter was the flower girl at my wedding.  She's still very special to me.

You could describe my uncle as a redneck, and many have.  Theirs was the house with the car on blocks in the front yard.  I heard him talk about the troubles with the "Mesicans" at work.  Not an uncommon pronunciation in their town in New Mexico.  Incorrect, yes.  Ignorant, probably.  However, he's the first one to take up for you in times of trouble.  When I got married, he told me that if that fella ever hurt me, he'd have to answer to my uncle.  He'd take care of it for me.  Rough, yes.  And loving, in his own way.

Recent years have been hard.  He and his youngest son (named for my father) have had to take construction jobs all over the country, away from their families.  That's hard on a marriage.  He and my aunt divorced recently, but still had a great love for each other.

He moved to Arizona, which I gather caused some hard feelings.  But he came around.  He moved back to where he would be close to his children and grandchildren.  The other day, he even went to his youngest son's birthday party.

Last night, they gathered again.  He left on his motorcycle.

My phone rang just before midnight.

It was my sister.  Talking about a drunk driver.

My aunt got to the scene and held his hand while the paramedics worked on him.

He died at the hospital.

My uncle is gone.

Now, we remember.  We memorialize.

And another soul's story is told.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Getting to know you, Getting to know all about you...."

Or so the song goes. I feel like I'm finally getting to know all about Jacob.  I've had this feeling for so long that there was a secret.  And I hate, hate, hate hidden things.  They scare me because I have no way of preparing for them or combating what happens behind my back.  I've had my fill of things happening behind my back.

The funny thing is that I keep lingerie in Jacob's closet.  So, I've been in there.  I just never turned around, or I would have seen the rack of women's shoes.  He prefers higher heels than I can wear in practical situations.  I mean, he's 5'6". I'm 5'9".  Too much of a heel makes me an Amazon.

So, one afternoon, we're lounging around on the bed in silky bathrobes.  Well, mine's like a kimono.  We'd just finished looking through the closet.  He'd asked me to come try on shoes.  Did I mention we were the exact same size?  Anyhow, I'd kept a pair on that was particularly comfortable and flattering on my foot.

"Would you find it off-putting if we went shopping together some time?" he asked.

I thought about it.  "No, I wouldn't," I said.  "Sounds like it could be fun."

"We could go shoe shopping," he said, grinning at me.

"Yes, we could," I said.  We'd talked about this.  He can't try on shoes in public without drawing stares.  So, if he saw something he found appealing, I could try them on and see how it fit.  And I could borrow, too.

"See, you get a two-for-one here," he said.  "A boyfriend and gal-pal, all in one!"  I laughed.  His face changed.  "Are you sure this doesn't weird you out?"

I paused and did a quick internal check.  "Nope, not weirded out," I said.

He smiled his wanton smile.  "So, then is it weird that I find it really hot that you're laying here with me, wearing my heels?"

"What? Like I'd be bothered that something I'm doing is turning you on?  Heaven forbid!"

That was a good afternoon.

Monday, May 23, 2011


I've been debating for weeks about whether or not to blog about this.  Yet another twist in my dating life, and it might lose a few readers and might gain others.  In any case, since it happened, it's sent me off on an unexpected journey of self-discovery...which again, might lose or gain readers.

But this is about what's in my head as a result of my dating life, dear Diary.  I haven't shied away from honest topics before now.  So, I've decided it will be blogged.

It apparently started when Jacob and I were having one of our conversations, sitting on the couch.  I don't remember the context, but I was saying that if someone tells you all about themselves, secrets and all, before you get involved, then it's "full disclosure."  You know what you're getting into and can make the choice of whether or not to get into it.

I guess Jacob thought about that and decided the next day that it was time for full disclosure.

We were having another of our conversations, in the kitchen.  He seemed a little distracted.  I knew something was amiss.  He has this gesture he does when he's unsure, and he was doing it a lot. 

"You mentioned 'full disclosure' the other night," he said.  "There are things you don't know."

That buzzing in the back of my head started.  The white noise feeling that starts when something painful is happening.  I think it tries to protect me, not let me get overwhelmed when something really hurts, and I need time to sort it out.

I'd had suspicions that there was a secret, something hidden.  WYSIWYG was too good to be true. I just had a feeling that something was brewing under the surface.

"So, tell me," I said, calm as I could manage.  "What is it you think I should know?"

He was holding his phone, messing with it.  I could see the screen from the top edge.  My eyesight isn't sharp.  From that angle, I can make out forms, but not details.

He was staring at a picture.  Holding it in such a way that I couldn't get a clear look at it.  But I made out forms.

It seemed to have been taken in the same room we were standing in.  I could make out a human form.  With a halter-style bikini top.

A woman.  He was looking at a pic of a woman. 

Was I really at this point yet again?  Another woman. Hanging out here with him.  Just like I did.  Another relationship, parallel to mine.  Another woman.  Again.


My heart started to break instantly.  Was I really not enough to Jacob, too?  What the hell....

He sighed one of those "here we go" sighs.  Then, he turned the screen to face me, so I could have a better look.

And there she was.  Blonde. Pretty.  Leaning against the antique stove, with a smile to Jacob behind the camera.  I felt the tears welling up. The buzzing got louder.  I wanted to puke.

Then I noticed it and froze.

She had a little tattoo.

In the middle of her forehead.

Identical to Jacob's tattoo, in the same place. 

And the light started to dawn....

She wasn't smiling to Jacob.  She was Jacob.

The buzzing ceased. The tears subsided.  In this moment, Jacob was not betraying me; he was trusting me.

"Oh," I said. But it was more an expression of intrigue than anything else.  "So, tell me about this."

He retreated.  Jacob is a very non-confrontational person.  He was uneasy.  "What do you mean?"

"I mean, tell me about this.  Tell me what it means.  Tell me what role this plays in your life," I said.  "Tell me what to expect."

He cocked his head at me, like he didn't understand.  Then, he started talking.  In short, he likes to dress as a woman, now and again.  After seeing Rocky Horror, his ex admitted to being excited by the image of Tim Curry, in women's lingerie.  So, Jacob obliged and found he enjoyed the feel of it himself.

"Basically, half of my closet looks like it doesn't belong to me," he said.

"And what should I do?  What can I expect?"

He thought.  "Just don't be shocked if you climb into my bed and find another woman there." He laughed. Jacob handles awkwardness with humor.

"Are you totally freaked out now?" he said.

I took a step back and examined what was happening in my head.  The heartache stopped.  The buzzing stopped.  I felt...relief.  Really? 


To my surprise, I found that what I felt was...peace.

"No," I said. "Actually, I'm not freaked out at all.  Surprised, but not freaked out."

He smiled.  He looked relieved.  "You know, I was really happy when you said you wear a size 10 shoe," he said.  "Same size as me. I have a lot of sexy shoes.  Want to try some on some time?"

Did I mention Jacob has a bit of a foot fetish?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Taking things too personally

Honestly, I do.  I know it.  I know why, and I have been working on it.  But I'm not out of the woods yet....

See, I was raised in a household where everything meant something.  At 17, I once forgot to meet my mother to get a box of tissues.  This became a huge incident because my forgetfulness meant that I didn't care enough about my mother, didn't appreciate her, and I was generally a huge ingrate and horrible child.  Twenty-five years later, she still throws it in my face as an example of how I haven't treated her right.  That's just one example, though. Another standout was the bawling out I got for buying her a box of chocolates once.  I'd been at the mall with my friends and picked up this little box for my mom.  I remember being so tickled to give it to her, then heartbroken when I got screamed at for "wanting my mother to be fat."  Thanks.

Of course, the flipside was that her actions show us how much more she cares for us.  She takes the smallest piece of cake because she loves us more.  She picks up my daughter because she makes her a bigger priority than I do. I got tired of that one, so she doesn't pick her up anymore.  I don't answer my phone during the workday because I ignore her (despite the fact that I will text when I can).  Every "meaning" tends to support her role as victim.  This drives me out of my mind.

I've recently realized that this has caused a rather paranoid backchannel chat in my brain. It's negative, and stressful, and deeply ingrained. And I cannot express how much I hate it.  It's a gut-level reaction from decades of conditioning.

Add to that the years of conditioning that certain "red flags" mean my partner is cheating on me, or his interest is drifting.  It would be one thing if the flags would happen, then nothing would come of it.  But for years, the flags would be validated.  More negative backchannel chat, telling me that of course I'm not enough for a man, again.

So you see, I have a lovely basketful of crap to drop.  And drop it I do.  And it has to stop.

Jacob is a peaceful person.  These moments are stressful on him.  On us.  I've already gotten better about some things, but when it still happens, it makes me feel insane.

Some triggers (aka red flags) have happened, and I've had to unlearn the outcome.  We used to have some text routines before I moved almost literally to his backyard. 

I'd send him a sweet text during the night, so he'd see it when he woke.  He'd comment on it in his "Good morning" text, when he got to work the next day.  That doesn't happen anymore.  I've almost stopped sending those texts because they go unacknowledged. 

It doesn't mean he's losing interest in me.

The thing is that the "good morning" text is unnecessary now.  We actually see each other and say it face-to-face.  At some point in the morning, one of us will check-in and see how the other is doing, but we've already said good morning.

I noticed we would say goodnight, and he'd go to the computer as soon as I left.  Sometimes, he'd log out of the screen when I was coming.  Red flags from the past that something was hidden. 

It doesn't mean he's flirting around on me. 

I might know now what's going on with that, but that's for another time.  In short, Jacob has taught me that he's not the type to flirt around on me, through things he's said, done, and expressed.  I've learned to relax that trigger and trust him.

He used to refer to me in Twitter by calling me his "Lady" when he made comments about us.  And if he was on Twitter, he was also messaging or texting me.  He still tweets about us, but without referencing me.  For instance, he used to say, "I want my Lady," but now it'll be, "I'm feeling wanton."

This doesn't mean he's nullifying me to his followers.

We've had some privacy issues with Twitter, with people in our lives who dig and use it against us.  By not having the specific banter between us, we avoid the comments from those nosey people about our private life.

If I'm home when he gets home, he doesn't often come to see me.  He walks near my door to get to his gate, but usually goes straight to his house.

This doesn't mean he doesn't want to see me.

Jacob has a specific wind-down routine at the end of the day, transitioning from work life to home life, in the few minutes he has between work and picking up children from school.  He spends those few minutes being very careful to not do anything to delay leaving to pick up his girls.  He can't be late, for obvious reasons.

These are all examples of the little things that could be huge triggers for my conditioned responses, but Jacob's gentle way has taught me to settle down and trust.  It's not easy, but I've made some great strides.  In my humble opinion.

I still have bad moments, though.  I feel bad for those.  It confuses and worries Jacob when I'm like that, and that's totally not fair to him.  It's a process, I know.  But I sure wish it would hurry up.  I hate, hate that feeling.  I just look forward to the day when the worry and ache go away for good.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Viva Las Vegas!

Daughter and I embarked on our annual Spring Break trip this week.  Instead of Salt Lake City, though, Daughter decided she'd like to see Las Vegas.  She goes there for band trips, but she wanted to see the sights with dear ol' Mom.  Gotta love that!

We headed out on March 13th.  I didn't plan that 13, but it worked out that way.  Daughter is recently into Asian boy bands, so guess what we listened to almost all the way there?  I don't know that I've ever been so happy for an iPod battery to die.  Not that the music is bad.  It's just repetitive after a few hours....

We finally made it to our hotel in Vegas.  Hand the keys to the valet, drag our luggage into the lobby, and...are greeted with the longest check-in line I've ever seen.  Another hour of stand-and-drag, stand-and-drag, and we finally have our room keys in hand!  As I watched the clerk write the room number on the folio, I had to smile.

She assigned us a room on the 13th floor.  No kidding.

A quick look at the Guest Services book, and we found our dinner.  A nice pizzeria in the hotel.  The place was noisy, but smelled good.  All the noise seemed to be coming from this huge table of people celebrating something.  One woman seemed quite far gone and was loudly asking each man at the table (whether or not he had a wife present) if he was a member of the Mile High Club, and if he'd help her gain membership.

One guy seemed to take her up on the offer.  During the negotiations, I heard one of the most unfortunate quotes ever uttered by a man:

"Okay, but you'll have to loofah my stretch marks."


The thing about vacationing with my daughter is that you'd better not plan on doing anything in the mornings.  She sleeps like the dead until mid-day.  The upside is that you save a lot of breakfasts.

So, we ventured out on Monday, looking for lunch.  Bought our three-day pass for the monorail and off we go.

Daughter is loving her French class this year, so naturally we catch the monorail (bless that thing) to the Paris hotel's La Creperie.  Thanks to her proficiency in this class, I actually said things correctly when ordering.  The French woman behind the counter remained unimpressed, as the French generally do.

Let me just say here: Good God, Vegas is expensive!!

$50 later, we'd each had a savory and a sweet crepe.  Her mood improves drastically with food.  The pouty I'm-so-sleepy teenager is replaced with the bubbly personality I know and love so much that crepes are worth $50. For once.

We spend the afternoon cruising the shops on the Strip, until we figure out that we can afford nothing we seen. Well, not if we want to get home.  So, our grand plans of shopping here, there, and everywhere kinda crashed and burned.

Soon, it's time to head to our first scheduled event: The Lion King show at Mandalay Bay. Second row. My daughter LOVES the story of The Lion King.  And let me tell you, if you haven't seen this show, it's a spectacular sight to behold.  The costuming is an amazing combination of costumes and puppeteering. The music is beyond brilliant.

My daughter has this friend at school who is adorable, and adorable with her.  Tall, gangly boy with a through-the-roof GPA.  They are in marching band together.  She can't leave school every day without hugs to and from this friend.  He came over for dinner at Jacob's one night.

"Daughter says they're friends," I explained.  "But I think he really likes her.

So, Jacob watched them as they did their homework at the dining table.  He returned to the kitchen, chuckling.  "You're right. He likes her."

"She's really clear with everyone on the fact that she's not dating until she's 16," I said.  Her birthday is in July.

"I know," Jacob said.  "But he strikes me as the kind of guy who has that marked off on a calendar somewhere."

Flashback to Vegas.  While we're waiting for the Lion King to start, she's texting this friend about the show.  All of a sudden: "Oh my gosh!  His favorite song is the same as mine!"  Dash to the gift shop.  Come back with a Lion King CD for him.

After the show, we're crossing one of the bridges over the Strip.  We see a homeless man with a cardboard sign: "Hungry Hungry Hobo."  A moment later, another man is panhandling on the sidewalk:  "Spare change for marijuana research!"  At lease the guy is honest about how he'll use it.

We found some dinner at The Sugar Factory, where Daughter ordered a dessert that made the neighboring tables gawk. Soda Pop Cotton Candy Crepe.  Toasted marshmallow-filled crepe, topped with (deep breath) ice cream, whipped cream, gummi cola bottle candies, cola cotton candy, Pop Rocks, and sweet and sour cherry syrup.

She was kinda sick after that.

We cruised the Sugar Factory candy store, too.  I got some technicolored Gummi Bears for Jacob.  See, they love those things, to the tune of 10 pounds a month.  Then, I saw it.

It's a 4.25 pound Gummi Bear.  Not a 4.25 pound package of Gummi Bears.  One BIG Gummi Bear.

But at $45, it stayed at the store, and I sent Jacob this picture of it.

After I got home, we talked about it.  How fun would it have been for him to pull this out of his lunchbox at work, at set at it with a knife and fork?

The next day, we decided to do a little sight-seeing.  Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum was a hit and a half with Daughter.  Except for the many moments when I had to explain who people were.  Like Sean Connery, Debbie Reynolds, Shirley Maclaine...and Ben Affleck.  That was a sad commentary on a contemporary actor's career....

But we took some great pictures.  Daughter and Will Smith.  And Lady Gaga.  Me and Elvis.  And Johnny Depp.  And Nicholas Cage. Gotta love that.

With time to kill before that night's entertainment, we headed to The Mirage to see Sigfried and Roy's Secret Garden habitat.  Lions, tigers, and dolphins! Oh My!

Sorry...lame joke, but the dork in me couldn't resist!

We were watching the lion habitat.  Daughter was at one end, with a large crowd watching one male lion sleeping, and I was at the other end, watching another male lion sleeping.  Then, my lion got up and started roaring. And roaring.  Dang, he was agitated.  He strolled over to the other lion, roaring the whole way.

He snuggled his head against the other lion and laid down.  The crowd went "Awwww!"

The other lion got up, sniffed his companion, and started humping him.

The crowd silently and awkwardly dispersed....

The Sigfried and Roy habitat.  Go figure.

So, we boarded a tram and went to see Cirque du Soleil.  Again, a brilliant show.  Those performers are unbelievable.  I loved watching Daughter laugh so hard and be so amazed.  Pure magic.  Moments I treasure, watching my little girl.  Who is growing much too fast.

When I booked the show, I didn't get to select our exact seats.  It was "Best Available," so I was kind of holding my breath on what that would mean.  I had to laugh when we picked up the tickets.

Row D. Seat 13.


After the show, we made our way down the Strip, reliving the amazing moments we'd just witnessed and looking for dinner.  We stopped at Serendipity 3, intent on using our coupon for a free frozen hot chocolate.  They seated us outdoors, along the wall that overlooks the sidewalk along the Strip.  Perched above the hedges there, we had a perfect vantage point for people watching.  The breeze was cool and gentle - a perfect evening.

"I'm hungry," Daughter said.  "I think I'll get the steak sandwich."

"That's a 10-ounce steak. Aee you sure?  It also has bacon and three fried eggs on it."

She was sure.

The waiter, Justin, came by with drinks.  When Daughter gave her order, he said, "I hope you're hungry! That thing is huge."

"I am," she said, but he still looked skeptical. But off he went.

We watched the people and the cars.  We enjoyed the evening.  Soon, our food came.  From where I was sitting, I could see it coming.  It was unbelievable.  I mean, my foot-long chili dog was something to behold, but Daughter's sandwich was....gargantuan.  The plate was almost as long as the table.  Justin handed her a steak knife and wished her luck.

In short, I watched her devour the whole stinkin' thing.

When she was halfway done, Justin came to check on us.  "Wow!" he said.  "I didn't think you'd get even that far!  You were hungry!"

Daughter nodded, still chewing.  Off he went again.

A little while later, I saw Justin heading our way again.  Daughter's plate contained a little bit of bread, but she was about to finish that.  She'd cleaned the plate.  I sat back and waited for him to round the corner.

"So, how are my girls doing?" he was saying. Then his eyes lit on Daughter's plate, and he literally took a startled jump back.

He gaped at her.  She smiled coyly, through long curls and big brown eyes.  "I was hungry."  Blink, blink.

"Bull. Shit," he exclaimed, and ran to the wall beside our table.  He looked over and down into the hedges, just sure she'd dumped it over the side.  Nope.

"I've seen grown, manly-men get their asses kicked by that sandwich," he said.  Then, he started applauding.  "Bravo!"

Others in the restaurant clapped, too, but had no idea what they were clapping for.

Then, she shared a frozen hot chocolate with me.

The walk back to the hotel was a little painful.  It's what I call "stupid full."

The following day, we took in the exhibits at the Luxor.  We went to "Bodies" first.  I know, the idea of displays of real human bodies, dried and posed without skin seems macabre.  And it is, if you stop among the exhibits to think that all of these were once people like you and me, with lives, loves, joys, and tears.  But it's also completely astounding to see how your own body really looks inside.  It's jaw-dropping amazing.

Daughter looked at most of it with an artist's eye.  "So, when I sketch a man's arm, I should remember that this is what the muscles do under the skin."  Things like that.

Then, we visited the Titanic Exhibition next door.  This was a somber experience. At the beginning, you're given a card with the name and story of a passenger.  At the end, you find out if your person survived.  Daughter's did.  Mine did not, along with all of her children.

The exhibit itself is unbelievable in their recreations.  They've reconstructed steerage, the promenade deck (with chilly night air, stars, and water), the grand staircase, and a first-class cabin.  The artifacts are amazing, too.  The things that survived a disaster and decades under water....  Completely amazing.

In one room, you can touch a large piece of ice that would have been almost as cold as the iceberg that Titanic struck.  They also have a huge section of the side of the ship that was salvaged.  To stand there and know this is Titanic.... Not a recreation.  Not a movie.  This is the great ship herself.  Gives you goosebumps.

Jacob loves the story of Titanic.  We picked up a replica Third-class cup, with the White Star logo.  He was thrilled with it, when we got home.

The drive home was long, but good.  Weather cooperated, and Daughter was in charge of the music.  I've heard a lot of Korean boy band music lately....  But having time with her like this is so precious to me.  She's getting more independent every day, but still calls me "Mommy."  At the moment, we're happy and building such good memories.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

We're movin' on up!

Jacob's house is over 100 years old, on the Historic Register.  Behind the house is a little cottage that was originally his home's carriage house.  It was converted to living space in the 1950s.  When the tenant gave notice that she was buying a house and moving out, I got to thinking.

This might be an opportunity that's too good to pass up.  Daughter and I were spending almost every evening at Jacob's house, and I was developing a strong dislike for the four-mile drive home each night. And it comes with storage space in a detached garage.  No more storage unit with Ranger.

Jacob said he'd rather I was moving boxes into his house, but he'd take what he could get.  So, it was a done deal.  We rented the carriage house.

Moving day came very quickly.  Daughter and I cleaned, sorted, and packed.  We had an ungodly number of boxes.  I rented a truck, Son, and a friend of his for the day, and so it began....

First, we went to clear out the storage unit.  Ranger assured me that it was easy to get to my stuff, that he'd organized it and left a clear aisle to get to things.

He was sorely mistaken.

My things were buried in two places in the unit, with his rock tonnage in the way.  After I threw a fit for awhile, we started digging out.  In the process, Son spotted some rocks he thought were ultimately cool.  I let him take them.

He also spotted some of his old toys and was transformed.  The light that came across his face as he handled the pieces of his wooden train track and old crayon drawings was of such child-like joy....well, it did my heart good to see that my little boy is still behind that "I'm a man now" attitude.

Son and his friend cursed my love of books on more than one occasion that day.  The number of book boxes is kind of overwhelming.  I need more shelves.

At the carriage house, we started the unloading process.  Instantly, we encountered a problem.  The staircase takes a sharp turn at the foot, then there's a low overhang going up.  The combination of the two made it impossible to fit the box springs to a double and queen bed up the stairs.

"You'll just have to get out of the lease," my mother said. Always butter-side up, I swear.

I went to talk to Jacob, who was home sick from work.  He came and examined the problem.  In no time, he had the double bed's box springs up the stairs.  Son was gaping at him.  My folks were impressed.  Leprechaun magic, I said.

The queen wasn't so easy.  Jacob tried removing the handrail.  One good shove and...the box springs knocked a big hole in the wall.  Someone suggested dismantling the box springs, then reassembling upstairs.

As this discussion went on, Jacob laughed to himself.

"What?" I asked.

"Oh, I was just thinking that we could take it over to my room," he said, quietly to just me.  "Then, you and I could break it, then move it over here...."

Yeah, we know how to break bed-things.  I had to laugh, too!

Plan B.  No box springs.  We got plywood and built a platform in my bed frame.  Jacob later made a sweet offer.

"How attached are you to that bed?" he asked.

"Very," I said.  I love this furniture.  It's the bed I bought when I finally released I didn't have to keep the big king bed that I'd bought with my ex.

"Oh, because I could build you a nice platform bed," he said.  "Very Japanese!"

So, Daughter and I have been settling in to our little cottage.  It is little.  Tiny, actually.  But it's oh-so-cute.  And we're all oh-so-happy with it.  Seeing her, the first night she snuggled into her bed, amid a roomful of boxes, smiling as she typed out a journal entry...well, she was happy.

As am I.  And Jacob and his girls.  He stops to say "Good morning" to me as he leaves in the morning.

"I don't have makeup on," I said.

"You're beautiful," he said, then kissed me and went on his way.

The other night, I crept over to his house and snuggled into bed with him in the wee hours.  It marked the first time we awakened together in the morning, and it was beyond delightful.

Only one incident marred the week.  I was home, unpacking.  I took a break to play with Foursquare.  There is a checking spot for the Historic District.  I used it.

Unbeknown to me, Ranger was waiting at a bus stop.  Four blocks away from my house.  I've avoided telling him where I'm moving to, although he's aware I moved my part of storage.

Apparently, he saw my checkin and set about finding me.  He spotted my car.

I got a text.  "123, eh?" he said.  ("123" being the numbers of my address.)

Then, a knock on the door.

I was not happy.  I'm making my Foursquare checkins private now, so no one else can see them.

Jacob asked later if he could help.  "I can come out and act like a psychopath," he said.  "Try to bite my own face and all that."

That mental image about slayed me.  And it just might work!  Ha!

But today, we switch gears.  Daughter and I are off on our annual Spring Break trip.  Vegas, baby!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Daddy dearest

Since my divorce, I've determined that my children will forge their own relationships with their dad.  I will guide and protect them whenever necessary, but my experiences and opinions about the man will not impact their own.  They love him and see him in a different light than I do, and it's as it should be. 

The tough part about all this is that I can't warn them about him without looking bitchy and bitter.  That harms my relationship with them, and we can't have that.  So, I'm there when he lets them down.  It's inevitable.  He's big on promises and small on follow-through. 

For instance, there was the promise to never move away from them, follow shortly by the announcement that he was moving 10 hours away.  Then, there was the time he married a woman they had met once and couldn't stand, without telling them.  He told me a few days after the fact, and I was supposed to break it to the kids.

This is how he shapes his relationships with them.  I don't have to say a word.

Over the last couple of years, Son has been asserting himself with his dad and setting boundaries.  Basically, he's said, if you can't do anything but chew me out when we talk, then we won't talk.  So, for a year and a half, they didn't talk.  Now, if your child wasn't talking to you and told you why, would you consider changing your behavior to make it right?

Not this guy.  He just sent Son blistering emails and voicemails about what a jerk he thought he was being.  This is why Son doesn't listen to voicemail anymore.  He sent them to me, too.  He wanted me to force Son to talk to him.  Yeah, that'll work out nicely for everyone.  He retaliated by not sending Son birthday and Christmas presents.

He finally got it and backed off.  He and Son talk occasionally.  But I still hear about it when Son doesn't return a message.

One of Daughter's most embarrassing moments happened on a visit to her dad.  Riding in the car with her Korean friend, he decided that doing his Chinese accent would be a good idea.  She was mortified.  It's evidential of how he doesn't take Daughter seriously.  She gets weary of conversations with him because everything is a joke to him.  She's stopped talking about friends and interests because he either makes a crack or just says, "Oh."  It's frustrating to not be heard, so she finds little to say.

When he married his third wife, the woman told him that Daughter is a teenager, so she wants to talk about boys.  Neither of them really bothered to figure out the reality of what Daughter wants to talk about.  They just decided.  Keep in mind, this is the man who told me he's not into the same things his daughter is, so that means he doesn't have to try to relate to her about them.  I know - he so doesn't get that it's not about him.  Was I into baseball when Son started Little League?  No, but I learned because it was important to him.  It's about the child, not about you.

For the record, Daughter does not want to talk about boys.  She is comfortable in the fact that dating doesn't start in our house until age 16.  She watches her friends' dating drama and is thankful to not have it.  Her guy friends are her friends.  But she doesn't mention them because her dad is predictable in his reactions.  He'll hassle her about them.

That said, Daughter has developed her own entertainment surrounding her dad.  She'll toy with him.  It's become sport to her to make the man go into orbit.  Anything related to her growing up will set him off.  I've watched her do this.  For instance:

"Dad, I am starting to wear makeup."  She grins, waiting.

"Makeup?  Why would you want to wear makeup?"  His hackles are up.

"I'm old enough now.  And I like how it makes me look."  Grins again.

Now he's indignant.  "You're not old enough.  You can wear makeup when you're 35.  And you look just fine without it." (Not that he'd know....he hasn't seen her since September 2008, but that's another story.)

She laughs.  "I made Dad get all puffed up," she says.

She has a new obsession lately - Korean boy bands.  Remember that Korean friend of hers?  Yeah, she shared some YouTube links and got her hooked.  Daughter talks about them all the time.  I mean, ALL the time.  She even infected Jacob's oldest with this obsession.

But she does not tell her dad.  Why?  She doesn't want to hear the Chinese accent again.

However, last night, he sent her a chat message on Facebook.  After getting a good raking over the coals for not answering her phone (dead battery), she decided it was time to mess with him.

"Hey Dad, I have a new hobby."

"What's that?"

"Korean boy bands." Sends a link.

Pause.  "Are you serious?"

"Yes!  They're so cool!  Check out these videos."  More links.

"Ah so.  Me like-a sushi."  Really?  Attempting an Asian accent online?  Daughter face-palmed.

"No, that's Japanese, Dad."

Pause.  "Ah so. Me like-a chop suey."

"No, that's Chinese."

"It's all the same, anyhow."

"No, it's not."

"Why Korean boy bands?"

She debated about telling him about her Korean friend.  Instead, she got my attention and said, "Watch this."

To him, she said: "Because they are HOT!!"

Pause.  "No. You did not just say that."

And Daughter is in hysterics.  Button pushed.

She's almost 16.  You wanted her to be interested in boys, Dad.  Now, she is.  Deal with it.

I can't believe she's almost 16.  We're beginning to plan her Sweet Sixteen party.  The head of the Art department here is a friend, and she's letting me have the Art gallery for this event.  She's met Daughter and seen her work.  We're going to hang Daughter's artwork from over the years, play music from her iPod playlist, and have it catered with her favorites.  It's all about her.

Will her dad be here?  I don't know, since he still feels he doesn't have to relate.  That still breaks my heart a little, but she and Son have learned to be content in the relationships they've made.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Cruising right along....

That earlier experiment worked out so well that we did it again. A day off to ourselves, but this time I picked up breakfast burritos so we wouldn't have to leave the house, if we didn't want to. And we didn't want to.  It was sensuous and cozy and wonderful, all day.  There's something to be said for spending a day at home, without the necessity of pants.

Best of all, we got the chance to just talk.  We don't often get time alone to speak freely, without texting.  We paused our movie and cozied up on the couch.  At one point, he apologized for feeling so talkative that day.  Really?  I soak up such moments, and wish they happened much more often.  We always discover more parallels we have

Mid-afternoon, we picked up our respective children and had a wonderful evening with them, too.

Our "family" evenings (as we've come to think of them) are spent with dinner, movies, games, and Legos.  One of our favorite games is Apples to Apples, the Disney edition.  If you haven't played this game, the short description is that the "judge" player puts down an adjective card and all the others (anonymously) put down noun cards to go with it, then the judge decides whose noun wins the round.  You can lobby for your noun card to win, too.  Every time we play, we laugh until it hurts!

One night, during the game, Jacob excused himself for a moment and disappeared in the direction of his office, returning shortly without explanation.  When it was my turn to be judge, I found out why.  As I'm flipping through the noun cards everyone else put down, I find this:

(in case you can't read it, the note says: Pick this one)

It caught me by surprise, and I about laughed my ass off.  "Gee, which card is yours?" I asked.  Jacob grinned. 

I can't remember at the moment, if I ended up picking this card for that round.  I also kept the note.  Later, I was looking at it and thought how each day, I find new ways this man is beautiful to me.  I texted him.

"Some thing occurs to me, about your 'Pick this one' note," I said.  "In many ways, I already have."

More smiles.


Last week was an up and down kind of week.  It started out rough.  I was typing away on this blog, during a break at work, when the light from my window dimmed.  It's behind me, so I turned to see what happened.

Ranger stood there.  Looking in the window at me.

When he saw I spotted him, he came into the building and sat in my tiny office.  He seems to think he can talk his way out of this situation.  Like, if he can convince me to let things go back the way they were, then he doesn't really have to get off his ass and get his life in order.

Let me say here that I really do hate hurting him.  I hate hurting anyone's feelings.  But he's putting in the position of saying things that he doesn't want to hear (again), and saying them bluntly.  I mean, I don't have a heart of stone.  I cared about the man for a long time.

For the next hour, we rehashed why I'm not with him and that, no, his promises to do better are not going to fix things. Promises mean nothing.  Words from Ranger mean nothing.  Too many lies and secrets have existed there, and still do.  I can't live or love that way.

He seemed genuinely surprised.  "So, me just saying so isn't enough?"

Right. Not that this should be news to him.  But right.

For an hour, we did this.  At my place of work.  That cannot happen.  I told him that he couldn't show up like that again.

"But doesn't it prove something that I'm willing to walk all this way to see you?  Especially when I'm hurting like this?"

No, it doesn't.  It's creepy.  And the hurting he's referring to is not emotional; it's physical.  He has a serious problem with his back.  So, he thinks he's proving something because, in his mind, he's hurting himself for me.

Does that sound sick to anyone else?  Because I'm a little disturbed by the whole thing.

I finally had to leave to get him to leave.  I literally had to take him somewhere else to get him away from my office.

The rest of the week was ok.  It's the week before payday, so things are always a little thin.  I got my tax refund, which was much less than previous years.  I booked the annual Spring Break jaunt with Daughter, but on a tighter budget this year.

I discovered a Borders gift card that I didn't know I had.  Our local store is closing, so I high-tailed it over there.  They were out of the books I wanted, so I snagged a Lego set that I thought would be fun at Jacob's.

That night, at his house, I lamented that I wasn't able to find those books.  "What books?" he said.  I gave him the author's name.  He grinned.  "What titles?"

I named them, and he went to his shelves.  "You should check with me before buying any books now," he said, handing me the exact title I wanted.  He had the other one, too, but it was out on loan.

I love this man!

After dinner, more smiles.  He'd gotten Lego sets for everyone.  As we dumped out the bags of little bricks all over the dining table, he said, "We're gonna need a bigger table."

True.  It was covered.  We played, and we were all very happy.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Say hello...maybe

I started this blog in 2004.  Over the course of the last seven years, a handful of people have discovered this blog, and then discovered that they really do know me.

"You're Blogget Jones" is not a phrase I hear very often in "real" life, but it has happened.  A couple of friends from the past have read this and then sent me feedback privately.  One other fella wanted to know why he wasn't included.

To my knowledge, no one I've actively written about has seen this blog.  Well, until now.

He has said that what's here isn't important.  It's my private business, and he trusts that I'll tell him about anything I write about, in any case.  So, I don't know that he'll ever read this, but he might.

So...Dear Diary, wave hello to Jacob.

It was a heart-stopping moment when I realized he'd found it.  A heart-stopping, kick-myself kind of moment.  Two things had happened simultaneously:

He followed Blogget on Twitter....
...then tweeted an "oops" message.

I'd waited too long to explain Blogget to him.  I've never wanted to reveal my secret identity to anyone, but this had been troubling me with Jacob.  I wanted to tell him, but needed a chance to warn him first that Blogget's writings are sometimes unflattering to me.  When I've done stupid things, I've written about them.  I sometimes look (and feel) like an idiot.

And I'm sexually blunt.  But I doubted that would bother him.

I also realized that others could find this blog so easily, too.  I deleted Blogget's Twitter feed.  That had been a stupid move on my part.

It's important that a few key people not read Blogget Jones's Diary. But Jacob is welcome to it, in all it's sometimes-embarrassing glory, should he decide to visit. I don't write anything he doesn't already know.

Monday, February 21, 2011

If you could, would you?

It's been a huge week for me at work. For about a year now, we've had two large decisions hanging over our heads:

  1. Do we officially adopt certain national standards for our online classes, and undergo all of the training to review and rework all of those classes?
  2. What will our new online delivery system be? Our current system is being discontinued, so we must move to something new. 
It's been a year of paperwork, research, testing, meetings...rinse and repeat.   The respective committees finally made their recommendations, which had to be presented to the President of the college for approval.  After all, it'll mean he signs a huge check for these things.  In a year when everyone is expected to slash budgets, we're asking for an expenditure of about a million bucks.

We had both meetings with the college President last week.  That was a fun morning.  No stress at all.  Luckily for me, my boss did most of the talking.  I was there to do presentations and fill in details.

The first meeting gets underway.  The whole committee is there, to support the recommendation.  My boss is explaining the whole thing, talking directly to the President.

And the man turns to talk to the person sitting next to him. In a normal, conversational tone.  While my boss is talking to him. Boss kept talking, but he threw a knowing grin around the room.  Apparently, everyone else was accustomed to this rudeness, but I was still appalled.

Still, we got what we wanted and were told to proceed with implementing the program and training we needed.  Cool.  One down.

The second meeting set up much the same.  I'm at the front of the room, waiting for my cue to show the pretty presentation I had for the President.  He sits down and flips through the handouts.  "You guys know more about this than me," he says.  That's about all he says.

My boss is sitting beside him, with the IT director.  They are going through the hows and whys of our recommendation.  They're, like, two feet from him.

He whips out his iPhone and starts texting.

They keep talking.

He gets up. And leaves.

My jaw dropped.  Seriously?

The accounting guy tells us we're free to proceed with the contract.  They know all they need to know.  Rubber stamp, and we're done.  We got what we wanted.

I must have had a look on my face because someone asked me to go ahead and show the pretty pictures.  I did that, but felt rather patronized.

On the way back to my office, I was elated that we got what we wanted, but I was still appalled by the behavior of our President. It was arrogant and demeaning.  I'm still a little speechless.

At first, I wished that it was acceptable for me to do something similar.  When I'm tired of a meeting, I just leave. Wow.

But would I really be that rude to people?  No, I wouldn't.  It's a matter of respect.  By showing me the disrespect he did, with his rudeness, he also harmed my respect for him.

Friday, February 11, 2011

My warm-fuzzy Valentine

Jacob has two adorable little girls, ages 10 and 8.  He says he thinks his life looks pretty bad, from the outside looking in.

"How so?" I asked.

"Two kids, with two different mothers," he said, making a face.  "That has to look irresponsible."

"No," I said.  "You have two daughters who you are making a good life for, and making sacrifices to see to it that they come first.  That doesn't look bad at all."

"We do what we must," he says.

"In my experience, a lot of people don't care what they 'must' do," I said.  "Especially where kids are concerned."

I've worried a little about the youngest being uncomfortable with his relationship with me. We know his oldest doesn't have a problem at all.  She's been testing my reaction to "I love you" lately.  She'll say it like, "You brought pie!  I love you!"  I hug her, kiss her on the head, and say, "I love you, too," and she seems happy.

Last week, when Jacob wasn't near, his youngest threw her arms around me and said, "I love you."  I reacted the same way with her, and she happily scampered away. Last night, I'm sitting on the couch with the youngest, playing video games.  Jacob came to sit by us, just sitting back and watching the goings on.  Youngest takes the controller (because I suck at games!) and leans against me to play.

"I love you," she says.

"I love you, too," I said, kissing the top of her head.

I looked at Jacob. His jaw was slack and his eyes wide. "That's huge," he said, mouthing the words.

I gave him a puzzled look.  "It's the second time," I said.  His jaw dropped more.

"She doesn't do that," he said.  "She'll answer you, but she'll never say it first."

I was speechless.  That moment meant so much to me.  To Jacob, too. His smile was of utter joy and delight, as she cuddled closer into my lap.

I saw that smile again, later, when we saw all three of our girls, sitting in a cozy pile together on the couch, watching television.

Finances are stretched at the moment, so he asked if I'd mind not making elaborate plans for Valentine's Day. I don't mind one bit.  Valentine's is about love.  And right now, I find that cup filling nicely.  I have my Valentine, many times over.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

WYSIWYG. No, really.

I found my perfect remedy for a headache.  Soft pajamas, Excedrin, and Jacob massaging the back of my neck, while I rest my head in his lap.  Defeated a migraine in record time.

I couple of days later, I had a little mini-breakdown and became one of those high-maintenance women that I generally despise.  Jacob texts me right before going to sleep.  And I do mean right before.  When you get the "Goodnight" text, you have about 30 seconds before he is out and oblivious to the world.  The man can sleep like the dead, and it's something I find endearing, strangely enough.

Anyhow, that night he said something about crawling into his "cold and empty bed," wishing that we weren't apart.  Not sure why this hit me so hard, but my first reaction was guilt.  Later, I understood he was just communicating how he missed me, but my gut took a big Carl Lewis-sized leap over the boundary of reason.

Actually, as I'm writing this, I realize why it hit me so hard.  In the past, such words have been the precursor to a nasty surprise.  Old BF said it was leaving him alone like this that caused him to cheat on me.  I wasn't there, and he wanted a warm body, so....  Ranger had the same problem, except it was because of my bad back.  My pain in those last weeks before my surgery was so extreme that our sex life took a nose dive.  He sought to fill the gap with his roommate.

By the way, Ranger and I have had some "words" in the last couple of weeks.  Things that seriously pissed me off and told me that I was making the right decision.  In those conversations, I have mentioned that I never got the whole story from him on the roommate.  He never once disputes that and has pretty well confirmed that there's more to the story, and I'm not going to hear it.

One day, he threatened suicide and deliberately made sure I wouldn't be able to locate him for many hours.  Left his phone, his wallet, his keys, and an "I can't do this..." note, where he knew I'd see it.  I went by there to get the rest of my stuff that he had, and instead of being there to help me dig it out and haul it to the car, he left all of that for me to find.  I did the digging and hauling myself, causing a great deal of pain with the surgery site, and vowed not to play the game.  I did not go looking for him.  Instead, I thought about what to tell his children if he followed through on the threat.  He ended up emailing me later that night and told me where he went.  I would have been right, had I tried to find him. But I'm not playing that game.

But I digress....

I felt terrible about Jacob and his lonely nights.  See, as long as my daughter is at home, I will not go stay the night with him.  She has to be the priority, and I won't disappoint her.  He understands that.  Still, I felt terrible.  So, I apologized for it.  And I said, "I just hope you don't grow weary of this and decide I'm not worth the wait."

"Ouch," he said.  "It's all right. What makes you think such things?"

"It's happened before," I said.

"You shouldn't worry so much," he said.  "I do understand. It's just how it must be for now.  I Love you." (He capitalizes the word "Love" all the time, something else I find endearing.)

His "ouch" made me think, though, that this expression of my insecurities could come across as an insult to him.  It made me think more about my worries and how I express them.

To be true, I have a basket full of insecurities.  My romantic experiences have taught me that I am often...insufficient.  Or even deficient.  I fall short of what the men I love need.  That's happened so often that I now seem to be hardwired for those feelings. I'm trying with all my might to shake that, to become rewired.

Unlearning is hard, though.  It hurts in that it brings up past hurts.  For instance, Jacob and I usually text each other constantly when we're apart.  When he isn't answering me, the worry sets in.  If he's not talking to me, who is he talking to?  Why am I not important to talk to?

And I have the added bonus of my mother's attitudes in my head: "If I meant much to you, then you'd talk to me at your first chance."  Oh yeah.  I grew up hearing things like that.  Hardwired, I'm telling you.

Then my brain starts spinning on little details, obsessing on hidden meanings.  Like, he called me "Love" today, but not "my Love."  He doesn't want to be with me anymore.  Or I mentioned dinner, and he didn't answer.  He doesn't want us to have dinner together anymore.  It's an insane kneejerk reaction, and I'm generally able to unspin it in a little while.  I recognize it as unreasonable, so that's a good thing.

They are all old triggers, with their attached meanings.  So, they tromp through my head and my heart hurts, and I start unwinding myself.  Then, I get a message. With a picture in it.

He had been making a Lego rendition of me. Little things like that mean so much.

I'm doing better at keeping my rampant insecurities corralled. I'm still experiencing the kneejerk reactions that have been so deeply instilled in me, but his reactions teach me about better outcomes.  The kneejerk reactions don't have to be true, anymore.  He doesn't know how he is teaching me a different way, by just being who he is.

I'm adjusting to a relationship with someone who says, "What you see is what you get," and actually means it.  I am enjoying the sense of relief that comes in little stages, when the negative speak has learned to stand down.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

A day off

Jacob and I decided to try an experiment.  We each took a day off and committed the day to each other.  It's the most time we've spent together yet.

So, I dressed for the occasion.  Baby-doll blouse that hangs just past my hips.  Ruffled rhumba panties.  Over-the-knee socks.

When I got to his house, he still had sleepy eyes.  He'd gotten his girls to school and was working on his first cup of coffee.  He told me to get comfortable while he showered.  I left him with a little tease.

"I wore good socks today," I said.  He loves my funky socks.  He glanced at my feet, which were still partially covered by my jeans.  "When you're done showering," I said.  He grinned and headed off to the hot water.

I lost the jeans in a hurry.  When I heard the floorboards creaking, indicating had finished his shower, I headed to meet him in the doorway.  I couldn't have planned it better.  The sun beams crossed that doorway as I leaned against it.

The expression on his face was such a thrill to me.  His eyes studied me for a moment, lighting on the long socks and then the sun in my curls.  "You're stunning," he finally said.  For the first time in a long time, I thought I might believe that.

Suffice it to say, the next few hours were...incredible.  We didn't break the bed again, but we managed to move it.  Afterward, we lounged and talked and laughed for a long while, until we couldn't ignore our growling stomachs anymore.

We dressed and headed downtown, to a lovely little cafe I found that serves the best Eggs Benedict, and with multiple variations.  We each got the Crab Cakes Benedict, with lemon hollandaise sauce. Oh so delightful!  It's the first out-and-about meal we've had, just the two of us.

He usually cooks for us, but he's letting me share that burden more often now.  Daughter and I spend so much time at his house that it just has to impact his grocery budget.  I can't let that happen.  Besides, he likes to clean up, too.  It's not fair that he cooks and cleans!  So, I'll cook now and again.  I try to clean, but he won't let me.

After brunch, we headed to a favorite bookstore.  With yummy, warm drinks in hand, we wandered the shelves.  No children in tow, saying, "I'm bored!"  So, we stopped and looked and read and discussed (and kissed) at will.  For hours.  It was sheer heaven.  See, my family hates to accompany me to bookstores because I can be there for hours on end.  Even Daughter, who is a major reader, loses patience after awhile.  But not Jacob.  He has the same problem, but we seem to have found a solution in one another's company.

We also stopped at Target.  To look at Legos.  Where I'm a Star Wars devotee, Jacob is a Legos fanatic.  I'd picked up some playsets he day before, and he and his girls were chomping at the bit to get at them.  My daughter had this reaction:

"I'm no good at Legos," she said.

"Then we'll get you a Duplo set," I said, smiling.

"You're not funny," she said, scowling at me.

So, Jacob and I stopped at Target.  And got a Duplo set.  Well, and a real Lego set that we thought she might enjoy.

The time passed too quickly.  Soon, it was time to pick up our children.  He looked at the time and frowned.  "Why does time move so fast when I'm with you?" he said.  He sighed, put his arms around me and kissed me.  Leaning his forehead against mine, he said, "Grrr."

This is a multi-purpose word.  Grrr means "I love you." Or "I wish for something else at the moment."  And he has a special Grrr for me that mean "I want you."  This Grrr meant all of that.

"Grrr," I said back.

And we went our separate ways.  I snagged Daughter and went about our errands.  We picked up dessert.  We were to meet back at Jacob's house for dinner, games, and Legos.  His oldest has asked that we now have a game night together once a week. 

After dinner, we cleared the table and brought out the toys.  As Jacob is passing around the boxes, he said, "And here's the one for Daughter."

She stared at the preschool box of Lightning McQueen from Cars.  "You're not funny, Mom," she said. But she was laughing.

Jacob burst into laughter.  "But it's Lightning McQueen!" he said.  "How can you not find that cool!"  They took the big blocks out and started assembling.  Which was literally two blocks to make the car.  Jacob pulled it apart and added another block. Lightning McQueen on a lift kit.

Then, he handed her the real set.  We all set to work pressing little blocks together and playing with the resulting toys.  He's right.  They're incredibly cool.  And my office now has a Lego landspeeder in the window.

Daughter learned that not only is she good at Legos, but she enjoys them, too.  She can't wait for the next Lego night.

As with almost every evening we all spend together, we laughed until it hurt.

As we said goodnight to the girls, the oldest hugged me tight and said she didn't want us to go.  "Why can't they just live with us?" she declared.

The following morning, my phone woke me as it buzzed with a Twitter update.  Jacob had posted something new.

"Yesterday, I spent the morning with my lover, the afternoon with my friend, and the evening with my family. It was a great day."


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ve haf vays uf making you talk!

So, I'm texting with my colleague-friend the other day. After actually talking about work, the conversation turned to what might happen when my mother meets Jacob.

"I'm a little nervous," I said. My mother tends to be very judgemental, on first sight."

"What's there to judge?" she asked.

"Well, she hates tattoos."

"Then she'd hate me! I'm tattooed and not done with it!"

"He has an obvious one. In the middle of his forehead."

"Why would he do that?"

"Don't know, but there you have it."

"My latest one is on my back."

"He has one there, too," I said, blissfully unaware that I was about to contract foot-in-mouth disease. "It's large. It's actually in four parts."

A pause in the texting.

"Uhm," she said. "And what was the occasion you had to study the construction of the tattoo on his back?!?!"


I'd be sooo good under interrogation.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dinner and a movie, small town style

Last night was a big night for all of us: the first time we had an outing all together - Jacob, me, and our daughters.

Once a week, the old historic theater downtown has "Dinner and a Movie" night.  They show a film that's not in current release (like "The Wizard of Oz," "Gone With the Wind," "Giant," "The Jerk," "Serenity"), and admissions are $5.  If you have dinner at a downtown restaurant, then you get two free admissions with every dinner receipt.  Our downtown area is literally Main Street USA, nicely restored and maintained, with a variety of shops and eateries.  This is where my beloved Farmer's Market happens in the summer.

So, we headed out to this week's movie and a pizzeria for dinner. There, I spotted a friend of Daughter's from marching band at a table, and she started to chat with him. The boy's father walked up and said, "Hi there! Long time, no see!"

I thought he was talking to us, as fellow marching band people.  No, he was talking to Jacob.  Who looked really surprised.

"Hello," he said.  "I don't think you've met my oldest daughter."

"No, just the younger one," he said.  Jacob introduced his daughter, then the man turned to my daughter and me.  He kind of had to.  His son was hanging over his shoulder, pointing across him at Daughter, excitedly saying, "She marches!  She marches!  She marches!" and making drum motions.

He shook Daughter's hand and mine.  His son said the drum thing again, and he responded, "Then all is right with the world!" And we found our table.

"Wow, it's been years since I've seen him," he said, a little awkward.  "His son is big now."

"His son is a senior," I said.  "He's a friend of Daughter's."

Jacob laughed.  "Small world."

At the table, the girls had some whispered conversations.  "You can't tell those two," Jacob's oldest said to Daughter.

Of course, she told me.

The little one had asked my daughter, "So, do you think we'll really become sisters?"

From the mouths of babes.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Accepting my "hotness"

Apparently, I do things in my daily life that are "hot."  Either I've been oblivious, or they're only hot to Jacob.

I make pot roast.

I wear toe socks, with skulls and crossbones on them.

I put Louisiana Hot Sauce on my fries.

My mother likes to say we met online.  We got to know each other through Twitter.  We talked awhile before saying we should meet.

"You'll be disappointed," he said.

"I seriously doubt that," I said.  "But what are you afraid of?"

"I'm a social pariah," he said.  "Pierced. Tattooed. Eccentric."

"And?" I said. "What I see is someone taking responsibility for his own.  Intelligent.  Good priorities.  Lots in common.  Makes me laugh and smile.  If it's all true, how could that be disappointing?"

I paused.  "Perhaps you're the one who will be disappointed...."

"I won't be," he said.

"How do you know?" I asked.  "I'm not exactly the popular idea of attractive.  I'm not...small.  Never will be.  My body is 42, scarred and blemished, ravaged by a bad recovery from pregnancy."  Okay, so I'm self-conscious about my body.  What can I say?

"Confession time?" he said.  I let that sit for a moment.  A confession?  What could he have to confess?  Of course, my curiosity went berserk.  Holy crap, is he married?  Gay?

"Ok...," was all I responded.

"I've already seen you."

"How's that??"

"At Wal-mart. A couple of weeks ago," he said.  "You used Foursquare to check-in there and posted it to Twitter, while I was there.  I hope that doesn't alarm you.  It's nothing creepy-stalker-ish.  We were both already there...."

I got a tingle in my spine.  It's a small town.  I knew this kind of thing was inevitable.  I've already had people I know find me using my check-ins.

"I spotted you in the store," he said.  "Our shopping lists had us crossing paths several times.  I thought that was lucky."

"Oh wow," was all I could say.  My mind was reeling, thinking back to shopping a couple of weeks ago.  Who was I with?  Was it one of the trips where I was annoyed with Ranger?  What was I wearing?  Or saying?  Did I do anything embarrassing? 

"You're gorgeous," he said.  "I've never seen a woman move with such confidence and grace. You're very attractive."

And I blushed.  And worried less.  Since then, he's taught me a lot about worrying less.  I'm unlearning a lot.  I've been conditioned to worry about hidden things, about nasty surprises.  He understands that, and he's completely open to me.  His serene manner is contagious.

Daughter and I went to Jacob's house for another evening of dinner and movies, the other night.  As he and I stood in the kitchen, chatting over the dinner preparation and listening to the happy sounds of our girls, he said, "What are you thinking, Love?"  It's his favorite question.

"I'm glad to be here," I said, with complete honesty.  Being all together like that is very comfortable, for all of us.

He put his arms around me and said, earnestly, "It's good to have you home."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Something new

So, there we stood, in the low light of the lamp, surveying the damage.


Then, the laughter started.

We'd broken the bed.

A first for me, I might point out.

And so, with the exception of a crashing bed, things with Jacob are nothing short of blissful, at the moment.

I'm still around Ranger now and again.  Our lives are still entwined with things like a shared storage unit. But I get little confirmations that I've done the right thing.  For instance, he got a great lead on a job, but what did he do about it?  Nothing.  All he had to do was make the call.  And he didn't.  All right.  Makes me sad to see him go that way, but it's his own choice.

For the last few weeks, Daughter and I have been spending a couple of evenings a week at Jacob's house.  Well, more than a couple.  We help each other's children with homework.  We make dinner.  We watch movies.  We play board games.  My daughter has infected his oldest with her YouTube obsessions.  Watching the younger ones with my daughter is nothing short of witnessing idol worship.  She has a fan club.  His girls go to bed promptly at 8:00, and we get goodnight kisses before going to our own home.

I remember, a few weeks ago, when Jacob went to the kitchen for a moment and came back to find his youngest curled up in my lap.  The look on his face was of such happiness, seeing her cuddled to me. 

After one of my first visits there, Jacob's oldest came to him and said, "It's all right with me."

"What is?"

"Come on," she said.  "I know."

What she "knew" was that Jacob and I "liked" each other very much.  And she was saying it was okay with her.  She'd liked the idea of having a single parent, after being through a nightmare of a stepfather with her mother.  But she was telling Jacob that she was cool with me, and with he and I being together.

Jacob and I have much in common, including our love of literature.  And we're techno-geeks.  We text a lot.

One day, he asked me, "So what comes next?"

"What do you mean," I asked.  "What do you see coming next?"

"Speaking of hypothetical possibilities, of course," he said.  Then, he quoted Shakespeare to me:
"If that thy bent of love be honourable, Thy purpose marriage...."

From Romeo and Juliet, which was the first movie we watched together.  In that moment, he took my breath away.

He actually does that quite often, more than he knows.  Simply watching him is a study in masculine grace.  The lines of his anatomy are thrilling to me, in every cut and angle.  He is not tall, but he's muscular.  He has a physically demanding job, and it shows.  He wears his long, blond hair pulled back.  There's a gesture he does to sweep it from his face that I've told him is "terminally sexy."

One day, I got to the house earlier than expected.  He's given me his security code for that very reason. (By the way, the code has two numbers. The difference between them is 13.)  He was just stepping out of the shower, and I learned something new.  Jacob has curly hair.

It was almost more than I could stand.  Jacob in a towel, with disheveled curls falling on his neck.  Oh good lord, can a man really be that beautiful?

Jacob's manner is serene, almost a Zen-like quality.  His sense of humor is sharp, and he can move in an alarmingly silent way.  He refers to himself and his girls as Leprechauns (yup, he's Irish!).  He has a keen intelligence and refers to himself as a nerd.  He often thinks this is a bad thing, asking me if I mind. 

Hello?  Have you met me?

Leprechaun Love.  Nerd Love.  Any way you look at it just now, it's blissful.

"What happened to your bed?" the girls asked him, the morning after the crash.

He thought for a split second and said, "This is why you should never jump on your bed!"

Monday, January 03, 2011

Ghosts of Christmas Present...and Future?

It's crappy to break up with someone at Christmas time, but it's been obvious for the last several weeks that my relationship with Ranger is ending.  A friend read this blog and dropped me an email, speaking bluntly to me: Ranger knows he's fucked things up, but don't be taken in by gestures that are salvage attempts.  Keep your eye on the big picture.

Sometimes I know things, but need to hear them from someone else.

So, here's where I'm coming from now.  I love Ranger and care about him very much.  But not romantically.  I had planned to make a life with him, but those plans became one-sided.  It's time for him to stand on his own because he seems to expect me to support him indefinitely.  Two things in particular were in the way of us getting married, and I gave him all the tools he needed to solve them.  Not picking up those tools and doing the work himself shows me that resolving those things isn't a big priority to him - and neither is being with me in any permanent fashion.

It's either important to him to move under his own power, or it's not.  I won't be the nag who needles him into accomplishing things.  It's also time to be honest with me about a few things.  I need a partner, not someone I'm dragging along.  And he's expecting to be dragged.

In the meantime, I'm not willing to put the blinders on, sit around, and wring my hands.  If someone else comes along who offers me the relationship I want with the stability I need, then so be it.

If I can love them and be loved by them in the way that I've always thought it should be, I'd be a fool to pass it up.  For my sake, and my kids' sakes. Especially my daughter, who looks to me to model how a healthy relationship should be.

I've spent more time with Jacob, who is proving to be a very good companion.  He has a peacefulness about him that is soothing to me. He has a clarity of thought that puts my own in perspective.  And he is fiercely devoted, once committed to someone.  How long have I wanted that, and never seem to quite get there?  Do I dare think that this could be the one who won't let the bottom drop out of my world?

I've spent some time with his daughters, too.  And he's been around mine a little.  Mine thinks he's great fun, with great taste in books.  He recommended some steampunk that she's loving.  His daughters are very sharp, and apparently enjoy being around me.  He told me that his oldest daughter has been very attached to the idea of having a single parent, because of a bad step-parent situation with her mother.  However, she's let him know several times that it's quite all right with her if I stick around.

We talk via text messages off and on all day, every day.  I've started a routine of stopping by his house on my way home, for a sip of tea and a "How was your day?" chat.  On Christmas Eve, after the kids and I had gone looking at lights, and I delivered the last guest to their own home, I sent Jacob a message.

"Driving past your house in a few.  Still up?  Want a Christmas hug?"

His answer was emphatic.  "Yes, please!"

His oldest daughter was already asleep upstairs, while he was hanging stockings.  His younger daughter was at her mother's house, which caused him great sorrow on Christmas morning.  He met me at the door so I wouldn't have to knock.  We tiptoed into the living room, hugged, wished a Merry Christmas, and chatted in whispers. And we kissed a little. His kiss is sweet, gentle, but communicates enough "I want you" to make me weak in the knees.

Then, his phone goes off.  He looks puzzled and picks it up. And starts laughing.

He turns the screen to me.  I see his oldest's name, with the message: "I don't want to come out and see any presents, but was that Blogget at the door?"

It was like a texted little hug.  "She really likes you," he said.

He handed me a little present in a gift bag.  I started to peel the tissue paper back, but he stopped me.  "No,'s for Christmas. You have to wait!"

For the record, I behaved. Christmas morning, I unwrapped a cute little R2D2 Lego watch set.  It made sense now.  A few days before, he'd asked who my favorite Star Wars character was.

The day after Christmas, he invited me to join them on an excursion to a model train show.  We made French bread pizza at his house, then drove to the show.  It was set up by the local model train club and charged a small admission.  Jacob smiled almost bashfully at me when the man charged us the "family" rate.

The towns that the trains chugged through were models of our hometown and Glenwood Springs, which is up the road a bit.  I've written about visiting there with Ranger, a couple of times.

The model of our town included a tiny replica of the mercantile owned by the people who built Jacob's house, around 1900.  Between the towns was a row of tiny little houses.  Jacob's daughter pointed out the tiny people, coming and going from the little houses.  Jacob leaned in and looked closer, then shot a look to me.  I checked it out.

The women on the porches of the tiny houses were scantily, if brightly, dressed...waving to men who were leaving their houses.  Or rather, establishments.

She'd found the model train town's red light district.

The Glenwood model included a replica of the Hotel Denver, which I dearly love.  I told Jacob about the lovely stained glass windows inside.  He couldn't place the location.  As I described the block, I said, "There's this great steak place down the street...."

His eyes lit up.  "Juicy Lucy's!"

"Yes!  I love that place!"

"Me too!  It's the best ever."  And it is.

After the train show, we went back to his house, made cocoa, and watched the Doctor Who version of "A Christmas Carol."  His oldest is really into Doctor Who, both the show and the books. Jacob and I sat cuddled together, as I rested back against his chest.  As I absently drew circles on his ankle with my fingers, I apparently found a previously undiscovered erogenous zone.

It was a completely delightful, warm afternoon, in a virtual cocoon of near-domesticity.

So, I'm left to wonder, what will Christmas future look like for us now?