Thursday, February 23, 2012

Conference A-Go-Go

So, you all hear me talk about my big conference every Fall.  Back in 2007, that's where I had my little fling with SC.  In 2010, it was held at Ole Miss.  The woman I've referred to as Droopy Dog (the one who tried to start gossip about SC) gave a presentation to the Board there, to host the conference at her school.  They're in a little town in Illinois.  The presentation went something like this, in true Droopy Dog form:

"We're really not sure how you'd get here.  You can fly to St. Louis and rent a car, but it's a long drive.  There's a small airport near us, but their planes aren't very good...."

"We have a new Motel 6 you can stay at, but we don't know how we'd get you to campus for the meetings.  I guess you'd have to have your own car."

"We have a great barbecue place for the big Friday dinner.  It's won awards and stuff.  But I don't like it."

The president later said she wondered if she was the only one hearing how ridiculous this was, until she looked across the table and saw me "rolling [my] eyes uncontrollably."  She'd never seen me do that before.

The woman sitting next to me shielded her mouth as she turned to me and whispered, "OH MY GOD!"

When Droopy Dog finished, a strange silence fell.  Someone broke the silence by turning to a colleague from Minnesota and saying, "Didn't you say we might be able to come to your school?"

He looked baffled.  "Come to Minnesota?  In November?"

Yes, the presentation was that bad.  But he agreed to go ask his boss.

And that's when I did it.  I said I could talk to my boss, too.  I did, and he liked the idea, but not for 2011. Too much going on.  2012 would be better, he said.

So, at the next board meeting conference call, I was prepared to report that we'd submit a proposal to host in 2012.  I was sure our friend in Minnesota would come through for us.

"Sorry, guys," he said.  "My boss said no go on the conference."

My cell phone lit up.  It was my pal at Ole Miss.  The text said, "DO NOT MAKE US GO TO ILLINOIS!  TELL ME WE CAN COME TO COLORADO!"

So, I spoke up.  "My boss said we could submit a proposal for 2012, but I can ask if he's willing to bump it up."

"I can help with whatever you want," said my pal at Ole Miss.  "We just hosted and have all kinds of things to help since it's such short notice."

"Why don't you all want to come to Illinois?" said Droopy Dog's voice.

I honestly don't know what the answer was.  But I can tell you this - it was the last time I've heard from her.  At all.

So, we put together the proposal.  At the next meeting, it was approved.  We sent out the announcement and put up the conference registration site.

Guess who was the first person to register?  It was SC.  Immediately, I got a text from him.

"Are you staying at the conference hotel?"

"No, I live here.  About six blocks from the conference hotel."

"Oh.  So, if I want to make an omelette in the middle of the night, I can come to your place to do it?"

WTF?  Really?  Not only does he know all about Jacob, but I am completely aware that he recently remarried his ex-wife.

"Only if you don't mind cooking for my boyfriend, too.  I live right behind his house."


So, on with the planning.  It's a three day conference, with additional pre- and post-excursions to local attractions.  It all fell in my lap.  Even the stuff my boss said he'd do.  Oh, except for the part about scouting wineries for our excursion.  He did that part.

Let me say that where I live is the perfect spot for a conference.  It plays host very well.  Everything fell into place perfectly.

And SC was one of the first to arrive.  He was among the group going to the "Early Bird Dinner" on the first night.  I was in the lobby with the others when he showed up.  Now, since the last time he saw me, I've lost about 60 pounds.  He did a bit of a double take when he saw me.  He gave me a hug and said, "You look good.  I mean, really good."  I smiled and thanked him, and we all headed off to a great dinner.

Many of my good friends arrived later, wanting to go out for a late dessert and drinks.  The nearby Irish pub still had live music going, so we headed that way.  SC had gone back to his hotel, but texted to find out where everyone went.  When he got there, he managed to slide into the seat beside me.

At the end of the night, the group's ticket was placed in front of me.  Everyone leaned over to see their totals.  As SC leaned in to see, I felt something strange.  Then it became insistent.  It was his hand, gripping my thigh and moving upwards, into unwelcome territory.

I tried not to jump and make things conspicuous for the others.  I put my hand down to block SC's wanderings.  A few excused themselves to go to the bathroom before we left.  SC turned to me.

"Maybe I shouldn't be doing that."

"Right. Maybe not." My tone was not at all welcoming.

"Should I remove my hand?"

"You should."

"Okay, but you should come to my room.  I have some new music you should hear."

Seriously?  What a jerk.

The next evening, I was at dinner at a pizza place with other conference goers.  SC found us there.  I was sitting beside my pal from Ole Miss, and she was quite put out when SC worked a chair between us.  She told me later that she wondered why he was sitting so close to me, invading my personal space.  So, I told her why, and told her about the pub.

"What an asshole," she said, in that delightful Mississippi drawl.

Another friend (from Colorado Springs) overheard one of his repeated invitations for me to come to his room.  So, we explained the situation to her, too.

"What an asshole," she said.  Between the two of them, they decided that I would not be seated anywhere without the two of them taking up the space on either side of me.

You gotta love good girlfriends.

As we piled in vans that night to go to the big Friday night dinner, my Colorado Springs friend saw SC climbing into the van I was driving.  She made him sit behind her.  She spent the whole trip to dinner asking questions about me and Jacob.  Loudly.  Just gotta love her.

That was a stellar night.  Dinner at a winery.  Live entertainment from our theater department.  Perfect weather.  As people smiled and laughed, my boss came to stand beside me.

"You really pulled this off," he said.  "People are really having a good time.  This is a great group."

And I was early proud of myself, truth be told.  Months of hard work, and it was working out.  No disasters.  The following week, my boss actually asked when we could host again.  He wants us to be very active with this group, and support my activity in it.

SC did not relent, until the last day came and it was obvious that I was not accepting those invitations.  We haven't talked about it.  I just let it be.  Let him go home to his wife, knowing there was a line I wouldn't be crossing.  Jacob means a lot to me, and I won't put that on the line.

As we gathered for one last dinner, several people came to me to thank me for putting on a good conference for them.  I was flattered, and oh so happy that they'd enjoyed our little town.

The past president, who had seen me rolling my eyes at that meeting one year ago, pulled me aside.  "You're on notice," she said.  "Be prepared to be president, as of the next ballot."  She was the first of a few to say that.  It kinda scares me.  But to have their respect feels awfully good, too.


Looking back through my posts, I don't see anything about the man we've come to refer to as Dingus.  One of my favorite faculty members refers to him by this name, and she flat refused to work with him.  No wonder because he's a bit of an idiot.

In short, he's a Dingus.

Now, if I'm mistaken and I have written about this coworker, please forgive my repetition.

This all started with that never-ending search, the one that my pal from New Jersey made me look like an idiot over.  After the third round, we had to hire someone.  I was a little nerves about the choice because I wasn't sure how well a non-native English speaker would work with our faculty.  I could see potential problems there.  But that's not a very politically-correct or popular thing to I kept it to myself.

His job had two functions: help work with the faculty on instructional design (to take some pressure off of me) and help create media enhancements for online courses.  Red flags went up when my boss asked him what he'd need to help faculty record little video intros to their classes.  He listed a $5,000 HD camera, expensive editing software, and a green screen.

What the fuck?  We're talking web cam talking head videos.  You should have seen my boss's face.

He also insisted that he needed a tricked out iMac.  That he got.

Initially, I shared my office with Dingus.  I could see and hear everything he spent time on, including his negotiations with the cell phone companies for his new iPhone service.  And I about bought the boy a Kleenex box to stop the constant snot sucking that went on, between the slurps of his hot tea.  I could not have been happier when they moved us to new offices.  Until I saw the offices.

Cracker box portable buildings, with tiny office spaces in half of the building with the other half being classroom space.  Our paper thin walls did nothing to block the conversation on the back row of the classroom.  That was enlightening.

And I was still about 10 feet from Dingus.  Watching him move in was kinda awesome.  He disconnected all the fluorescent bulbs, brought in his own ambient lighting, and hung curtains.  He was told to make the videos work with a simple video camera, until the rest could be justified.  Still, each day, I watched him shut the door (like that did any good) and play with Second Life, listen to terrible jazz, and not actually do anything on the to-do list.

My boss kept asking what he did all day.  I didn't have much to report.

One day, I was working away in my little closet-sized office, and I smelled smoke.  I stepped into the tiny hallway and asked someone in another office if they smelled it, too.  They nodded.

Good God, I thought, this flimsy wiring has finally caught fire.

I flung open Dingus's door to warn him and was hit with a wall of the smoky smell.  "Oh my God," I said. "Do you smell that smoke in here?"

From beyond the haze and the bad jazz that hung in the air, he turned and gave me an indignant look.

"THAT is incense," he said.  "And it smells GOOD."

I scowled at him.  "I thought the place was on fire. It smells like smoke."

He huffed at me.  "Are we not allowed to burn things?"

"No, " I said.  "Generally, the facilities folks frown on fire in our offices."

He put it out, and was put out.

Aside from the personal annoyances, his work in general was a day-to-day struggle.  Each time my boss followed up on a project given to Dingus, the guy acted like it was a total surprise that he was supposed to do something.  He also couldn't understand that his job was to to control what our faculty could and couldn't do.  He kept trying to implement ideas to force them to use his designs, which didn't actually function most of the time.

Instead of making those little videos, the faculty suddenly got an email from him, announcing a new workshop.

"How To Create Your Avatar."

Again I said, what the fuck?

So did the faculty.  One of them called me.  "What the hell is an avatar?  And why do I need one?"

"Calm down," I said.  "You don't need one.  Don't worry about it."

When he'd been with us close to a year, he had his first review.  Afterwards, he came to me and said, "Wow, that was rough.  How did your meeting with the VP go?"

"I've never had a review with the VP," I said.

He looked baffled.  Apparently, he'd gotten raked over the coals.  This did not bode well for Dingus.

During that year, some significant decisions were made about our program.  First, we searched for and chose a new system to deliver online courses.  This transition would be a HUGE undertaking, to migrate educational materials, create new ones, and train everyone.  Second, we would adopt some national standards and develop an internal review process for online courses.  Again, huge undertaking to get that training out and get courses up to speed.

Third, we decided to host a national distance ed conference.  Remember that one I go to each fall?  Yep, it came to our place in 2011.  That will be a blog entry in itself.  Suffice it to say, though, that I was gonna need some help with this, and Dingus was expected to be that person.

So, what did he do?

He quit.

That set me up for six months of hell.  I've done all the transitioning, implementing, and conferencing.  I've worked constantly - all day, after hours, weekends, holidays.  Exhaustion has been a constant companion.  I've about lost my mind a couple of times.  The stress has been unbelievable.  But I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel now.

See, a nice footnote here is that 1) I now have a greg iMac in my office, and 2) we ended up redoing the search and hiring a rather nice woman, who is sharp, personable, and actually helps me with what I need to do.

So much so, that I am currently on vacation.

The absolute end of Ranger and Blogget

Of course, Ranger and I have been romantically over for a long time.  I maintained contact with him for a couple of reasons; he owed me money and he had one of my phones.  He kept promising to reimburse me for part of the Missouri trip.  That was part of the original deal, but then he just didn't get the income he expected.  The bold truth?  That financially obliterated me.  I incurred debt related to that and relied on his word to help with it.  My mistake, and I admit it.  I feel completely stupid for that, and many other things now.  More on that later, though.

He had one of my phones because we'd moved his cell phone to my account.  It was cheaper that way, and he reimbursed me for the $20 a month it cost.  He continued to do that after we split up, on the understanding that he'd be getting his own phone when he started receiving disability.

One day, he shows me this picture of a tiny baby, hooked up to tubes.  He tells me about a family he met while doing community service hours - a woman with a teenager daughter, who was the product of rape, and the daughter was pregnant by a rapist.  Tragic.  And he's been helping them out with the woman's younger children while other family crises were happening.  Noble of him, yes?

The baby is born premature and ill, thus the picture.  He helps while they spend time at the hospital.  He tries to date the woman, but she stands him up to go home with a guy she met at the bar where she and Ranger were supposed to have their date.  A few weeks go by, and the baby dies.

Here's where it really gets weird.  Ranger is totally devastated by this.  He starts talking about the funeral. He's supposed to create a slide show for the baby's funeral, but the baby's mother and the guy who thinks he's the father can't agree on the music.  Did you catch that?  The guy who thinks he's the baby's father.  I thought the story was this was a rapist?  Changing stories are big ol' red flags.

So, Ranger makes this slide show.  A half-hour slide show about a newborn who lived only a few weeks.  And he's totally torn up over this.  "I'm going through something really difficult," he says, one evening when he's looking for sympathy from me.

I said to him, "When you say that, it sounds like it was one of your own children."  I said it to give him some perspective, but as I said it...something new occurred to me.

Was this his baby?

The pieces of things he said, and other contradictions, began falling into place.  I have no way of proving it, but my gut says this fits.  It's the only way his behavior at the time makes sense.  The baby's mother is 16.  The whole thing makes me nauseous.

Time to sever ties with Ranger, debt or no debt.

I start telling him I need the phone back.  It's time for him to have his own account.  He stops answering me.  No texts, no calls.  I try emailing.  No answers.

Coincidentally, I start getting emails that someone is trying to request a new password on my cell account.  Yeah, coincidentally.  I let the cell company know about this, and they tighten the security on my account.  No changes can be made without talking to me specifically.

I go into my account and restrict that phone.  I block all texts and data access, and allow only phone calls to and from my number.

Guess what?  I get an email.

"I'm in Denver looking for work.  And my phone won't work at all!"

No shit, Sherlock.  I wonder how that happened?

I told him how that happened and why.  You can't take off with my property and ignore me.  He says when he'll be back and says he'll return the phone then.

That date comes and goes.  Nothing.

So, I call up the cell company and let them know, that phone has been stolen.  They shut down service to it.

I send Ranger an email.  You're carrying around a phone that's been reported as stolen.  Good luck with that, especially if your on-probation-ass is caught with it.

The next day, I'm at work and go to talk to my boss.  I'm away from my desk for about 10 minutes.  When I get back, there's a box on my desk.  The phone is in it.

Does that creep out anyone else?  The timing is too coincidental.  He almost had to be watching me, to find a moment when he could slip in without talking to me.

Coward.  Asshole coward.

It's a nice phone, so I decide to activate it on my daughter's line.  Before handing it off to her, I decide to make sure it's clean of all of Ranger's stuff.  Good thing I did.  He left several months worth of nude and pornographic pictures of himself and other women on the phone.  Some were dated from before we split.  Some were really young-looking, too.

I reset the phone to factory specs.  Daughter is over-the-moon happy with it.

To avoid extra charges, I had Ranger's old number reactivated on Daughter's old phone.  The contract runs out in October, which I will let quietly expire.  Instantly, I start getting calls and texts and photos from all sorts of women.  Some are asking why he hasn't contacted them.  I explain to each one who I am and why he doesn't have the phone anymore.  And I start hearing the stories.

Many of them met him online and then spent "romantic" weeks and weekends with him.  Then, he stopped communicating with them.  He got sex and money from them, then dropped them.  His job-hunting trip to Denver?  Not job-hunting.  It was one of these rendezvous.  All I can tell them is, I'm sorry, and go get tested.

What a class act.  There's absolutely nothing redeeming about this man.  He's complete scum.  I'm so ashamed of how profoundly stupid I've been.

I've spent months having flashbacks to times that were not what they seemed to be.  Good times that now seem to be little more than a ruse.  He also got what he wanted from me.  Bled me dry in several ways.  It's going to be another few months before I recover financially from all the ways he took advantage of me.  I've found ways he's stolen from me, too.  Materially, financially, intimately, self-respect.

This is hard for me to see, what a fool I've been.  It's completely humiliating.  It makes me sick on so many levels.  I'll never see him again, but the scars are there.  Jacob is so sweet to hear me rail against all of this, and still hold my hand, say he loves me, and that he understands.  We do that for each other, actually.


Would you like to have a major life change happen to you?  I mean, something out of your control?  Like, say, losing your job?

Then, date me.

Old BF couldn't find a good job.  Ranger couldn't keep a job (although, theft tends to do that).  And now...well, poor Jacob was hit by the curse.  

Here's what happened.  

He's quite the devotee of Twitter.  It's how we got to know each other, so that's no surprise.  When he'd go off on there, though, he made sure to keep it anonymous.  No names.  No places.  Nothing to identify the object of his wrath.  So, one day during a break at work, he tweets something about someone spitting on the floor.  

In response, he gets a message from an HR person at work, saying he's being negative, and they need to chat about it.

He texts something to me about possibly being in trouble, but it's middle of the week, and they only fire people on Fridays.

I was home for lunch, and suddenly, there's Jacob on my doorstep.  

"So, I guess I didn't have to wait for Friday," he says.  Yup, he got fired for what he said on Twitter.  Over a decade at that place, and that's how it ends.

Now, they do have a policy that an employee cannot be held responsible for things said outside of work.  And Jacob did find a legal precedent for a possible suit against them.  And tweeted about it.  That might just explain why they spent the next few days making sure his details and money got settled quickly.

But there you have it.  Time for a new career.

Long story short, he had money coming to him that would allow him to float for awhile and try his hand at a few options.  He researched the potential earnings and set about getting started.  First up - amateur porn.  Namely, shemale cam porn.

You guys are well aware of my hangups with fidelity and such, so when this idea first came up, you can imagine how I reacted.  Kneejerk was not a pretty sight.  We argued for two days about it.  Then, he put it in perspective:

"Do you really think I'd rather rub one out for some guy in India than be with the woman I love?"

Okay.  Point taken.  In the end, it's not about intimacy.  It's about turning your assets into income.

The third floor attic space of the house became the studio during the day.  Of course, none of this went on with children in the house, so it was sometimes hard to maintain a consistent cam schedule.  However, the income proved to be not quite as promised.  Jacob spent a lot of time looking at other cam t-girls and wondering how the hell they stayed so busy.

One was particularly puzzling.  We called her Snot Girl.  One day, he's showing me some of the other t-girls, and we notice this one.  Quite pretty, sexy outfit, and convincing as a female.  Her chat room has a fair number of patrons, chatting with her.  As we're watching, she sneezes.  Into her hand.  Then looks at it.  And wipes it on her sexy black stockings.

The room goes silent.  And empties.

Jacob looked in on her another time, to find her nose mining.  Ugh.

Eventually, Jacob found that he was making more money on referrals to the cam site than on being on the cam.  So, he moved on to the next career option: writing.

I won't go into all the details, but suffice it to say, he's found some level of success writing articles on-demand, fiction, and erotica.  We've discussed some ideas that I wish he'd push a little more - things that I personally feel he has a niche for - but that's up to him.  He's been doing well, and his writing is well-received.

Trouble is that freelance writing is a tough career to get off the ground.  And as a recent (very recent) financial crisis has reared its ugly head on our horizon, he's had to find another way to bring in more immediate funds.  So, within 24 hours of the crisis, he has three interviews and a very real possibility of being hired before the week's end.

That, in itself, illustrates one big difference between Jacob and Ranger or even Old BF.  He is a man of action, when needed.  Resourceful and determined.  No excuses.

And I love that about him.  I don't have to solve problems for us all.  He's reliable.  We are partners, in every sense of the word.

Thursday, February 02, 2012


That's the best way I know to describe my daughter.  She astounds me every day.  She's very confident and sure-footed about where she wants to be in life, and keeps a steady eye on that path.  She's quite realistic about what is good for her and what's a distraction.

That said, she's also aware of her own tendency to procrastinate and be...scattered.  She inherited her father's ability to leave a trail of stuff in her wake.  You can read her daily activities by the trail she leaves.  For me, it's still a good trade-off: messy for unusually level-headed.

She makes an impression on people, that's for sure.  Towards the end of last school year, she decided to join the school Art Club.  Just one of those "might be a good idea" thing, as she is an impressive artist.  She'd been accepted as a graphic artist for the school paper, so being in Art Club seemed logical.  And might be fun.

So, she went to a couple of meetings.  Enough to cast her vote in the club elections.  A couple of weeks go by and...guess what?

She's the president.

Good golly.

Her dad just can't seem to wrap his head around her, though.  His wife (#3) once said that I shouldn't expect him to relate to her because he doesn't "get" art and music.  Really?  That sounds reasonable to you?  So, their conversations tend to be superficial and, consequently, he hasn't seen her in about three years.

Her last birthday was a big deal, though.  It was her 16th.  Sweet 16.  That's a milestone.  So, I talked him into coming here for her birthday, as a surprise.  That would be huge for her.  But what about the party itself?  What the heck was I gonna do to celebrate her 16th?

I racked my brain.  I wanted to do something themed with the things she's into.  There's that obsession of hers with Korean boy bands, but...uhm, no.  Then, there's art, literature, and writing.  I needed some advice on that.  I called my friend, the head of the Art department where I work.

I explained about my daughter's birthday.  My friend has met my daughter and was impressed at the time.  "So do you know of any art-related spaces locally that I can rent for a party?"

"Sure," she said.  "We actually don't use the campus art gallery all summer.  You can have that, if you'd like."

I was stunned.  That's a brand-new, gorgeous space.  Glass front and plenty of space.  It's part of the new college center on campus.  "Seriously?" I asked.  "How much?"

"No charge," she said.  "I'll even help you set up, if you give me a snack."  See, she has this theory about how much better the world would be if people just had more snacks.

I spent the next several weeks secretly going through all of the artwork I'd kept over the years and all of the sketchbooks Daughter has stashed...everywhere.  I collected enough to cover the walls of the gallery.  I made plans to swipe her latest sculpture for the food table.  I met with the campus catering services people to get plenty of food for a group of teenagers.  Our favorite bakery designed a bass drum shaped cake in her school colors, to represent her love of marching band.

All she knew was we were renting a room on campus for her party.  That way, she could give her friends some directions.  She had no idea that it wasn't just any room, but that she was about to have her first "show."

Her dad made his travel plans.  It was cheaper to fly into a neighboring town, and he wanted her to be at the airport when he got there.  But keep in mind that this was supposed to be a surprise.  So, I told her I had to go pick up a visiting professor and take him to the campus there.  Would she like to go and have a shopping day with me?

Why, yes, she would!  That's my girl!  Don't pass up shopping.

The day arrives, and she dresses to the nines for shopping.  Heels, skirt...the works.  When we get there, I tell her to have a seat while I check on the flight's arrival.  Apparently, it had already gotten there because from behind me I hear:  "What are you DOING here?"

He's leaning over the back of her chair.  She's staring up at him, backwards.  Repeating two phrases:  "You're my daddy!" and "What are you DOING here?"

She was blown away to see him.

"Isn't it someone's birthday?" he said, laughing at her.  "So give your old dad a hug."

As she stood, I saw his gaze go from her feet to the top of her head, which was well above his.  Especially in  heels.  His jaw dropped.  His eyes went back to the shoes.

"When did you start wearing those?" he said.  "I don't like that idea!"

Now, it was his turn to be blown away.  She spent the rest of the weekend making him feel that way.

One day, I was driving him back to where he was staying.  As we sat in the car, he said two things to me that about blew me away.  First, he said I'd done a great job with her.  Second, he apologized for all the crap he put me through when we were married.

That was a big wow moment for me.

He's still an asshole.  He proved that at the party.  More on that later.

Jacob, his Eldest, my folks, and I spent hours setting up before the party.  It was great fun.  Daughter's dad arrived.  Have I mentioned that he's a Rush Limbaugh devotee?  Yeah.  He sent conservative political books to the kids for Christmas.  Ugh.  And he was apparently quite disapproving of my young, tattooed, pierced boyfriend.

He said something to my mother later.  And spent all evening texting his wife and not talking to anyone.  Judgemental asshat.  My mother apparently told him to remember that this man treats me and my daughter well, and makes us happy.  So stuff it.

But on with the party.  Finally, the big moment arrived.  Daughter had met her friends outside and was walking in with them.  The rounded the corner, where she could see into the big glass front of the gallery.

"Hey," she said, pointing.  "What's my stuff doing in there?"


"That's my stuff!"


"What's my stuff doing in there?!"

Her best friend Alan was beside her.  He pointed, too.  "Maybe it has something to do with the sign in the window."  It was a mock-show announcement, with her name on it.

She about flipped.  Her friends walked with her from one picture to the next.  They started from when she was a very little girl, until now.  They listened to her explain each one.  Then, they sucked down wings, cake, and lemonade while playing board games.

One little problem happened.  The lemonade had some kind of grossness floating in it.  Jacob slung the dispenser over his shoulder, and we headed to the kitchen.  They gave us a new dispenser.

Which still had grossness.

Jacob slung it over his shoulder again and headed out.  He came back momentarily with a crate of sodas.  "They won't be charging you for this," he said.

My hero :o)  Saved the day.  While dumbass sat in the corner, texting his wife.  I still smile about that.

I gave Daughter a lovely key pendant, with her birthstone.  In the card, I talked about how it represented the keys I hope I'd given her to go through life, and the keys she held to determining her own future.  A couple of months ago, her writing class had to do a poem.  Guess what she wrote about?  What that key means to her.  Still makes me misty to read that.

About a month after her birthday, her best friend Alan asked her out.  She'd decided to not date until she turned 16, so he'd waited for that to pass.  Everyone around them said, "About dang time!"

A couple of months later, though, things took a very different turn.  Kind of strange, really.  Alan told her about a recent relationship he'd had -- with one of their mutual friends.  A male mutual friend.  He told her he wasn't sure if he was gay or just bisexual, but he was working on figuring it out.

She felt awkward telling me about this, but needed to talk to someone about how to handle this development.  I explained to her that she didn't need to be uncomfortable with me, and that Jacob is actually "pansexual" - being attracted to individual traits rather than gender.  And that he'd also had relationships with men. That gave her some perspective, and a tool to use in talking with Alan.

Then, she got wind of something he'd said to another friend.  He's said he'd really enjoyed waking up with that male friend, but was disappointed that Daughter wouldn't do that.  Too true; she will not.

Then, he confessed that he wanted to date her to "know what being with a girl was like."  This hit her hard.  He wasn't so much interested in HER as he was in her gender.  Wow, that makes a girl feel special, doesn't it?

One evening, she breaks down crying and tells me she thinks she needs to break up with him.  "He's a great friend," she said.  "But a rotten boyfriend."

They'd had a conversation a day before, in which he'd had the brilliance to utter these phrases:

"I wish we'd be more intimate.  I'd hate to cheat on you out of boredom."
"So what do you consider cheating?  I want to know how short of a leash I'm on."

Again, charming.  Right?  We had a long talk about it.  She was pretty clear: "He shouldn't be with me if he's thinking about cheating."  I was glad to see that she has a clear idea of what a relationship should be for her, and she's not willing to settle.

So, that's that for the first boyfriend.  They're back to being best friends, and everyone is happy that way.

Today, she filled out her schedule for her senior year in high school.

When did that happen?