Monday, December 18, 2006

Blow harder

Posting was definitely interrupted by the huge storm of '06. Hopefully my home internet will be restored today, so I'll be back later with a post about the holiday party/storm, which occured simultaneously. If that isn't enough - we were on the 75th floor. Ha!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

la vie dans la mort

I read in someone’s blog the other day about how after death she would like to be cremated and the ashes spread over the Pacific Ocean, and it got me to thinking about how my wishes have evolved.

When I was younger, I always thought that funerals, headstones and lavish coffins were a horrible waste of money, so I always said that I wanted to be buried in a recycled wood box in an unused field somewhere. That was fine with me for a while, but then even that seemed too much, so I just said that it is all stupid and the best thing for all would be for me to be cremated and my ashes flushed down the toilet, for what does it matter. I’m dead, after all.

Then Oliver died, and while I couldn’t imagine burying him in cold English soil, leaving him so far from his parents who would soon be living again in the United States, flushing him down a toilet was unfathomable. Just the thought sends shivers up my spine. So we had him cremated and put in a little tin urn where he still sits to this day on a table in our bedroom.

From time to time we discuss what to do with the permanently. We tossed around the idea of spreading the ashes over the Atlantic Ocean – the divide between his homeland and his parents, mixing the ashes with the soil in which a bonsai tree is planted, putting it in a capsule and burying it under a bench donated in his name to Green Lake, or just buying a fancier urn and keeping him forever.

It’s this attachment and concern for what to do with the ashes that reminded me that it’s not about the dead one, it’s about the living. We all have our wishes that we hope are respected, but in the end I’ve learned that my family could never flush me down a toilet. They wouldn’t be able to do that no matter how much I requested it, and I feel silly for ever dismissing the significance of mine or anyone else’s remains.

I’ve learned a lot about life and death this year, more than I have in my entire life. Losing a child will, I suppose, do that to you.

But still, does anyone really need the Cadillac of coffins? Nobody’s body is that special.

I know this post has been a little morbid, as some people can't stand to think about what happens then, but there are other people who can't stop. In which camp do you fall?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Happy 2nd Annual Blog Cookie Exchange!

As I’ve stated a blogillion times already, I love Christmas. Love. It. So when I saw the invitation for the 2nd Annual Blog Cookie Exchange last week over at Susie’s, I counted down the minutes till today with my handy dandy abacus, which, for sure, helps the time go by faster. And what do you know, here we are. You have to go read Susie’s entry, because she is so much more Christmasy lovin’ than even I, because I love the holiday, but because of life crazy haven’t been able to enjoy too many traditions the past few years. But as instructed, I’ll tell my:

Favorite holiday recipes
Special traditions
Favorite gift to give
What you wear when you don your gay apparel :)

One of my favorite things to do every December is to make a buttload of candy. Ever since I was a wee narcissist, I’ve loved to dabble in the confectionary arts. Years of staring at the candy thermometer, pulling taffy, which God bless me, I will never do again, and all the other temperamental duties that go along with making good candy, have made me into somewhat of a pro, though I do emphasize somewhat. So I’m not going to share cookie recipes, because I only make the standard sugar and gingerbread.

Favorite Holiday Recipes

This year, this coming weekend in fact, I am going to hunker down in my kitchen, throw on my apron and my candy chef cap and whip up some pralines, divinity, pumpkin fudge, nutty fudge, peanut brittle, and peppermint patties (insides colored red and green).

One year, my really good friend and I decided to make candy to give as presents for all of our friends, because poor college students can’t afford more and will gladly gobble up food gifts of any kind. The fudge turned out perfectly, so we turned our attention to the divinity. We whipped up the eggs, and started to measure out the sugar when we realized that we were short by nearly a cup full. We went through her mother’s cupboards searching everywhere, but there was none to be found save for a couple of plastic containers of colored sugar crystals typically sprinkled over baked cookies. We looked at each other, then to the red and green sugar and over to the sagging egg whites. “It’s still sugar,” I shrugged and measured it out and dumped it in before she could object. The pristine, white mixture became a putrid, purple hue, and there was nothing divine about it. The little balls we dropped onto the cookie sheet became flat, little pancakes of goo. Oh how I'd wish we'd taken a picture. But once they set a little, we discovered that they didn’t taste all that bad. The taste and texture were nowhere near that of divinity, so we knew that we had to come up with a new name for our unique concoction – thus was the birth of Rebecca and Alyssa’s Mmm Bop Mess-up Cookies. Try it yourself some time.

Special Traditions

Because my family moved around so much when I was young, we never really were able to set up too many traditional traditions. It was never Christmas Eve at grandma’s with all of the cousins, aunts and uncles together, we didn’t go Christmas caroling in our neighborhood, and the times we had open fires, there sure weren't any chestnuts to be had. About fifteen years ago, we started getting a Christmas tree on my brother’s birthday, Dec. 8th, every year, because nothing says “Happy B-day, Son” like a big, bushy fir tree. And we always opened our presents on Christmas Day, no exceptions because of the Dad Nazi, though my mother always lobbied for one present to be opened on Christmas Eve as was her tradition growing up. Sadly, it never worked. This year, I am going to adopt her family’s tradition of the pajama present that gets opened on Christmas Eve. Maybe next year, I'll start another new tradition after I find it. I love traditions, the every year of them, the warmth and routine. One tradition I dropped though, was my dad’s habit of making mince pies and Waldorf salad every year. We never ate them; there were too many other good things on the table - including my divinity. We also used always to get an advent calendar and take turns between the kids who got to open the day, but I can never find them nowadays. Do they even still exist?

Favorite Gift to Give

Well, besides my presence, of course, I enjoy giving real presents. It is actually my favorite part, watching people open the gifts I lovingly chose for them and carefully wrapped and topped with a sticker-backed bow. I also love to give handmade gifts, hence all of the candy. This year I’ve added another handmade gifts generating hobby to my repertoire, so I’ll be posting pictures of those soon. But the favorite gift of all that I am giving this year has to be one of them that I got Steve – his ultimate dream – an Aston Martin DB5. Pictures of that, too, will be forthcoming.

How I don my gay apparel?

Hmm, well sensible shoes and khaki pants aren’t really my thing. Oh wait, I don’t think that’s what she meant. God, I’m bad. I don’t do Christmas clothes either – I love pretty, party dresses, but red velvet, snowman sweaters, Christmas earrings? They are definitely not me. You go ahead though. I’m not knockin’ it, just not rockin’ it.

So fa la la la la la la blah blah blaaaaaah.

I hope you’ll join in on this fun exchange. If you do let me know below, because I would love to read about it. And drop in on Susie, as this is, after all, her party.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Big screen book

Two days till the holiday party, and three days until the big reveal. I’m not telling which one I got until then that way no one can say I did badly, which might just make this neurotic decide to take the dress back. And Lord knows that I don’t think I could handle that. I did win the prize for spending the most on the dress, but I should have just stopped with the $30 dress I got on clearance from Arden B., but it just wasn’t the dress. I just bought it because it was a cute little black dress. I didn’t even take a photo. My wallet would love me a lot more if I’d refrained from buying the one from Cache.

Last night, I was the biggest old lady on the block. I baked and I did things with yarn. Throw in a couple of crossword puzzles and I would have been utterly geriatric. But it was okay. I watched some Christmas movies, ate leftover pasta and thoroughly enjoyed spending the evening alone.

Steve’s new job has its definite downfall. The hours he works have so far been double-edged. I barely see him, but on the other hand, I really, really enjoy the me time. Tonight I’m having a girl’s night – happy hour and a movie.

When I first saw the trailer for The Holiday, I told Steve, “I’ve read that book, but it wasn’t called that.” And I pondered and pondered, trying to figure out what it was. I mentioned the plot similarity to Wynn, my aforementioned work buddy, and she exclaimed, “I’ve read that too!”

So we both wracked our brains to no avail. Finally I turned to my trusty friend Google, isn’t he your friend too? I entered “Ireland, house swiap, book plot” into the search engine, and VOILA. A site popped up featuring an interview with Maeve Binchy popped up. She was discussing Tara Road, one of my favorite novels of hers. “Duh!” I blurted. And then I looked at the IMBD site for The Holiday. It told me that the film had been written with the four leading actors in mind. Hmm, they forgot to mention how much Binchy was on the screenwriters mind. Oh I forgot. The plot’s a little different. They swap between L.A. and England and not Ireland and New England. Wow! That’s a leap. The film deal should have been Binchy’s.

But I’ll see the film tonight. And I’ll read the book again, for it has been a long time. And I’ll do my own investigation as to plot similarities. Hmmmm

Friday, December 8, 2006

calling for dresses

Malls at Christmastime… Not my favorite place to be, but sometimes il est tres necessaire. (Aside: I don’t know why, for I am hardly fluent, but I often find myself thinking, writing and speaking in the French I do know. Strange because I don’t know anyone who speaks French, nor have I been to a French speaking region.)

As you all know, I spent the majority of Saturday shopping for my holiday party dress. I was so excited to find so many wonderful dresses and to read of y’all’s input, and when I read the paper Sunday evening and found that the special occasion dresses at Macy’s were 25% off and I had a 20% coupon, the little bargain-loving bug in my belly went hippy-skippy since 2 of the most voted on dresses were from Macy’s. I was so excited about my coupon, so pleased that I hadn’t purchased the day before and would now save 45% off my dress.

At work the next day, I proudly showed off my coupon and cautiously shared news of the sale with my colleagues after eliciting promises that they wouldn’t buy “my” dress. And as the day wore on, I looked at my phone, my 28 days old phone that I bought to replace my perfectly good Razr. I decided I didn’t like it. I decided that I wanted something else, as in BlackJack something else. So, I called the cell company store, had them set a couple aside for me and told them I would drop by later in the evening to change them out.

Steve arrived home that evening and we headed to the mall at 7:30 and decided to hit the S*ingular store first. We were pleased to see our friend working, the one who’d given us a splendid deal on the other phones.

As we waited to see him, we oohed and aahed over the BlackJack features, and sneared at our old phones, which had seemed perfectly lovely less than a month before, in disgust. After our guy was ready to see us, I began my little tapdance, because, you know, momma loves a bargain. It’s a $449.00 phone. Would I ever pay that much? Utter a collective “oh hail nah” please. So I asked our “friend” to work us up a deal.

He said, “Well, I can give you the phones for $300.00 with a $100 rebate.”

I looked at him for a moment, “Earlier a colleague told me I could get one for $200 and one for $300.”

He laughed, “Oh did he, now?”

“If I was lying,” I smiled coyly, “Wouldn’t I have said that he’d offered both the phones for $200 without the rebate?”

“Probably,” our helper said, and began taking my Sim out of the old phone and putting it in the pretty, new BlackJack.

“So, are we going to make a deal here? I’m going to be adding a lot of things to my account right now.”

I batted my eyelashes and made him laugh a lot and pretty soon I had the BlackJacks for $100 each, a 20% service discount placed on my account, and the assurance that from now on, if I come to him I can get whatever I want buy one get one free.

I know where I’m doing my Christmas shopping. And I think I now want a career in negotiation. Aaaah.

I got the deal I wanted and I saved a butt-load of money, but now it was 9:30 pm . That was two whole hours of standing in 4 inch stilettos that my feets just didn’t need. Thankful was I that I’d tried on dresses all ready, so I’d just have to run into Macy’s and buy THE ONE . I hobbled into the store, found tossed off my heels and padded barefoot to the dress section.

It was a sea of nothingness. All of the racks were dangling with sorry excuses for picked-over dresses. My heart sank. How had I ever deluded myself that at the end of the two-day sale there would be any left? I flipped through the nearly empty racks, I scoured the put-backs, but none of the dresses that I had tried at the other Macy's were there.

I begged Steve to drive to Bellevue Square , so we could go to that Bellevue Square , and he agreed. So we drove all the way across Lake Washington , and I scampered into Macy’s just after 10 PM , thank God for extended hours, I tell you. Thank God. I found the dress department and NOT. ONE . DRESS in any size in any style that I liked was gone, and not one size 2 was left in the ENTIRE FREAKING DEPARTMENT.

Skinny coupon using bitches stole my dresses. I grabbed a frazzled sales lady. "Any chance there are any more dresses in the back?"

She laughed and kept walking. Merry Christmas to you, too.

This story sucks. I'm done writing now. Goodnight.

P.S. Shout out to my brother, Red, proudly serving his country in the Navy. It's his 21st B-day today!

Thursday, December 7, 2006

too short

I am a little drunk, a lot tired and my toes feel like someone's been banging on them with a hammer. I only had time to write half of today's post, so I will put it up tomorrow morning.

Today was a good, good day - with a cruddy ending, but that's even okay. half is better than none

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

the irresponsible woman

I always had a strained relationship with my ex mother-in-law. I never approved of the way she did things, lots of things. Does it surprise you to learn that I tend to be overly judgmental and “always right?” I was horrified when she wanted to give my little baby chocolate. Why would I give my baby chocolate or sweets of any kind? My mother never gave me sugar for my first two years. It was my grandparents that introduced me. Is that the grandparents’ job? I’ve been fighting a lifelong addiction to sugar. I’m finally overcoming that aching yen for all things sweet. What if I’d never had sugar my entire childhood? But I hold that my mother’s basis of nutrition for my first two years is responsible for the healthy body shape I’ve get even through two pregnancies.

It wasn’t so much that I was trying to protect Audrey from my candy obsession, more that I valued nutrition and wanted to make sure that every bite my baby took aided her physical and mental development to the fullest extent. Chocolate, sugar – not exactly making that list – I was surprised that she even suggested them. When I balked at the idea, she noted that there was a picture of Audrey’s face covered in chocolate sauce. No, no of course not. It was spinach I told her. Spinach, not chocolate.

That was the nature of our interaction. She would want something that went completely against my idea of good parenting and seemingly resent me for disagreeing. Did I think she was a good mother? I’m sure she was. A nutritionist? No. Her children all grew up obese, not mean-spirited, just a scientific fact. Do I think she has a good idea of what children should eat? Not at all. She gives Audrey bad food and drink because I’m not there to stop her, and that’s the price I have to pay. It saddens me – people who think it is kind to let children eat whatever they want, however much they want. It is better to teach your child proper nutrition and help them learn limits.

Nutrition is one thing. This was another. When Audrey was two, she horrified me by driving her only grandchild around without a car seat. In my mind, that’s playing Russian roulette with a life that is not hers with which to gamble. She got herself in a serious car accident reaching for a cell phone. What if Audrey had been in the car that day without her car seat?

Okay, now I’ve just been ranting. I guess my hatred of her spawned the day I got that paper and it showed that Sam got the $5,000 lawyer money from her. I could just imagine her gleefully writing him a check with the hopes that her evil safety and nutrition minded ex daughter in law would soon be a distant memory. Ugh.

So when Audrey told me last night while we were at the gas station that her granny let her go into a gas station alone to look at the candy while she stayed with the car putting gas in, my blood curdled. She’s still playing roulette with my daughter’s safety, my daughter’s life. It only takes a moment for something to happen. A moment. All I could think about was the little girl whose mother let go to the grocery store bathroom alone only to be followed in by a miscreant who molested her. It only takes a moment. It doesn’t matter at all that nothing happened to Audrey while she was alone in the convenience store, what matters is that something could have happened and has happened to other little girls. Why take preventable, irresponsible risks? A five year old does not belong in a convenience store by herself under any circumstances.

I’m not overprotective by any means. I’m not. But there are certain basic safety precautions every individual ought hold to when entrusted with the life of a child. Am I being unreasonable? Maybe it's dangerous for me to have a blog - it's just too tempting to rant about the dark side.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006


I’ve been drifting in and out of my past a lot lately. I pulled up the archives from the first two years of this site that I keep on a memory stick and couldn’t read much at all. I try not to feel ashamed of everything I’ve been through, but that is only possible if I don’t think about it. So I don’t, and I got to thinking about how that is indicative of how I deal with a lot of my life struggles and black experiences.

I was reading a woman’s blog recently, a woman who is dealing with acute pain resultant of the loss of two babies almost exactly a year apart. Her pain is crushing and intense, and as I read it, I reflected on my grief process for Oliver – the whirlwind of those days and months. It still feels like a foggy dream from which I’ve awoken and still am trying to bind the wispy strands together to make a complete memory. Glimpses of the hospital room, the shirt I was wearing, the stocking that fell down my leg during the funeral with only three attendants, the plane ride with ashes in my carryon bag…and sometimes I find myself overwhelmed by them all. Sometimes one moment whelms me, just that one moment when I pushed the button on the door to be readmitted into the PICU ward and stood waiting for what felt like hours to return to the bedside of my dying son while another mother assured me my child would be okay, and I could only smile weakly knowing that in the morning we were to turn off the machines.

But I don’t get those flashbacks, I don’t get that emotion every moment of every day. Oliver is on my mind often, but I block out the pain and deny myself the grief. When he died, I had to get on a plane and fight hard not to lose my other child. How does one grieve with another child on the line? There was no time to reflect and mourn, but to strategize and press toward middle ground.

At Bellevue Square tonight, Steve and I sat on a bench while Audrey played on the tug boat in the play area and both of us watched a little child playing nearby, and I knew both of our hearts went in the same direction.

“Oliver would have been close to walking,” I noted, watching the little pudgy hand slap the carpeted dock. Steve nodded wistfully and squeezed my hand. We allow those moments but rarely. Strength has been our mantra. There have been milestones and rare setbacks, but for the majority of the time our grief is set aside.

Sometimes however, I wonder if I’ve gone about it all wrong. Should I have been more incapacitated, should I be angrier, sadder? Is it better to dwell on him and my loss? What is normal, right?

In drifting between past and present, I have found myself thinking recently of this time last year – when I, a world away from here, was roaming up Bond Street and down Oxford Street maneuvering my growing belly in and around the bustling crowds of Christmas shoppers and tourists. I looked forward to a year so different from the one that is now ending, and I almost feel embarrassed at how naively I envisioned a rosy future. How grey that pink year became. How black.

I’ve become jaded. I’ve narrowed my foresight. I’ve become less trusting. I’ve become less naïve. I feel ruined by 2006, robbed, like I should be holding my arms out, turning circles and shouting curses at the heavens.

But I don’t think about it. Except when I do. Which is why I don’t. I don’t like to think about grief, wrong or right, naïveté, trust, blackness. That’s what the heart box is for. I’ll stop drifting between past and present, and I’ll put that memory stick back in the shoe box. I’ll reaffix the blinders. I’ll pretend.

Everything is okay. I am happy.

Are you?

la vie en rose

Monday, December 4, 2006

Yea! Boohoo( Story tomorrow

What I got today:

What I didn't get today:

Sunday, December 3, 2006

MMM TV GOOD stomach pain bad

Wow, it's amazing how much time you can spend in blog land. That's what I did this morning - surfed blogs. If I missed yours so sorry. Do you know how many blogs there are out there?

You know what else I did today? I washed my sheets and my underwear. Are you fascinated yet? No, well I also stared at pictures of myself trying to figure out which dress to buy. You guys are so helpful but also very divided. I'm going to decide in the next couple of days and then go shopping again. Party number 1 is this Thursday.

Oh, and I know there are nine dresses posted below, but that was because I posted one twice and then removed it, as the tenth dress, which should have been up there, was actually a happy absence, since upon closer eyeballing I noticed that my red lacey girlie wear was visible. Yeah, not buying that dress and so not posting the picture.

Yesterday on break from all of the dress shopping, my mom and I went to see Stranger Than Fiction. I must say I was pleasantly surprised. Will Farrell was quite good, and the story had more depth than I expected. Can I just press upon you how wonderful an actress Emma Thompson is?
Her mannerisms and expressions are not that of Emma Thompson, but those of the novelist whom she is portraying. Isn't it refreshing when an actor is not herself in every film?

This posting every day crap is hard than I thought. I have a stomach ache, wah. So rather than pushing myself to write, I'm curling up on the couch with Steve and the DVR. Adieu

Saturday, December 2, 2006

The dress

I am in a really bad mood. Like wishing the demise of several people bad mood. As I drove home from shopping Bellevue tonight, so busy was I thinking of all of the fun accidental ways certain people could meet their untimely doom, that I did not even notice the pretty Christmas decorations on the ginormous mansions that dot the shores of Lake Washington until my mom pointed them out to me. I always notice Christmas decorations, but I had tunnel vision. I was pissed, seething, and I kind of still am. The bad mood, however has stuck. But here's to hoping a blog post will alleviate it a little.

I went shopping today for the perfect holiday party dress. I brought my mom with me because sometimes moms are the perfect shopping buddies and we could use the bonding time. We shopped a. lot. And I tried on a billion dresses, and I just so happened to have worn exactly the wrong clothes. What a moron. You know - never wear four layers on top, and zip up boots with your jeans tucked into them when you are going to be changing in and out of it ten times in the course of a few hours. Everytime I got into a changing room it was peel off blazer, shell, tank top, bra, boots, jeans, socks, try on dress, try on dress, try on dress, put on socks, pull on jeans, zip boots over pant legs, because I'm cool like that, snap on bra, slink into tank top, throw on the shell and button up the blazer. Repeat, rinse, dry. Geez, that was annoying.

I thought it was going to be more difficult to find dresses that I like, because my Amazonian frame is prone to odd fits of the torso and mammery gland variety, but this year was a banner year. And golly, what a tough time I am having deciding between them all. Luckily I remembered to bring my camera, so guess what? You get to help me pick my dress. Isn't that exciting? Yeah, I know, not so much. This dress is for our Black & White Holiday Party, hence the lack of color in my prissy palette, Steve's Brmmm, Brmmm Party, and my mom's Family and Friend's Holiday Party. So whoopee, I'll get to wear it THREE times. I love it. That means I get to divide the cost by three and spend way more. HA!

So without further ado and any particular order, here are the 10 dresses that made the cut, though Steve and I agree there are 4 forerunners. And yes, next time I'll put a little more variety in my poses. What a bore I am. That's why no America's Next Top Model for me. Yeah...

Sometimes I am hopelessly inept. I can't for the life of me label these and I don't feel like organizing them into one numbered picture, so just imagine them numbered right to left. I'm tired now, and lucky to get this posted with 37 minutes left in the day. What a shame it would have been if I failed on day 2 of my resolve. I'll be visiting blogs on Sunday. Leave the homefires a' burnin'

Friday, December 1, 2006

decks the halls with daily blog posts

fa la la la la la la la la

I honestly do not know why they picked November for National Novel Writing Month and all of the NaBlo wha who events that have been developed in its wake. Isn’t November a busy month for people? I know that the US is the only Thanksgiving Day country, but even England has Guy Fawkes day. Couldn’t they have picked a different month – say April? Really, who is busy in April?

By the time we hit November, I have just had Steve’s birthday, then Halloween and the first day of the month is Audrey’s birthday and it goes uphill from there. So how am I supposed to find the time to write a 50,000 word unreadable piece of literary waste? And please don’t’ take this to heart, but I chuckled at the blog everyday of the month people, because isn’t blogging in its essence a daily activity?

But it did inspire me just now, right this very minute. After months, well, close to a year and a half of terribly spotty posting, I am going to make it my goal to post daily for the month of December. I want to get back in the habit of writing. I want my brain to start thinking that way again. So it’s time to stretch beyond. So I know, December is much busier than November, which makes it that much more of a challenge. So booya! You can do it too. Any bloggers that skipped the NaNoBloPoHoMo brouhaha care to join me? If so comment below, so I can exercise my visiting other bloggers muscle more strenuously. I don’t have any pretty badges for you to post on your blog, but it can still be fun.

Oh yeah, one more thing. I've changed the name of this blog countless times now depending on my whim and what I've been going through. When my primary blog was Narcissistic Flight, named so because that's how I described my divorce, I started this blog, calling it The Narcissist's Secrets. When all of my secrets were out of the bag, I changed it to The Narcissist. It was hard to feel like a narcissist after Oliver died, so the blog became The Next Chapter. Fed up with the name changes it became Narcissistic Flight yet again. But I think I've finally found the perfect descriptor for me, hence the new blog name. This is it. No matter what, I am never changing my name again.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

This and that

I heart snow. That little rustling sound snowflakes make as they settle to the ground is so peaceful, and the way it covers everything – rusted out cars, litter, bare tree branches – with a coat of forgiveness almost convinces me that the world is clean and a better place for it. But of course that is just the surface.

Enter Seattle. November has been the rainiest month, well ever – we just broke the record. We have now had more than 13” of precipitation. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s Seattle, what did I expect? Well I’ll tell you what I didn’t – snow. Since Sunday, Seattle has been a winter wonderland of sorts – that is if a wonderland is a place where your evening commute becomes a four hour nightmare and hundreds are forced to abandon cars along roadsides. I’ve never felt so lucky A. to live in the city and B. to have four-wheel drive. I love it though. Every moment white fluffy stuff drops from the heavens widens my smile.

I’ve always gotten childlike pleasure from snow, which is why I miss white winters, why I hate the constant rain so much, why Seattle’s rain makes me dreary and why I turn into a five year old every type the watery sky yields flakes rather than drops. My favorite snow memory is from when we lived in North Pole, Alaska.

My parents went to pick my grandmother up from the Fairbanks airport just as a blizzard hit the region. By the time they came home the snowdrifts were 3 feet high and the power was off. Being in the middle of winter, we only had a couple hours of daylight, so it wasn’t as though we had much time to play outside. Instead we stoked the wood stove in our little log cabin and hunkered down as a family. My dad had horror stories of his mother as a child. To him she was an Irish Catholic child-having ogre who bore 14 kids but never told them she loved them, but for those four days she was our loving grandma. We played games, cooked over the wood stove and got to know my grandmother, whom I seen only once before, by the light of the kerosene lantern. We didn’t even have running water. It was just like Little House on the Prairie, only we didn’t have piss pots or an outhouse. Cleverly, my dad melted pounds and pounds of snow for the toilet tank because three days of seven people on one toilet was just not going to work otherwise. I shudder even now. If it hadn’t been for the snowstorm and power outage, we probably would have spent sometime watching television or playing our new Nintendo. Instead every moment went to family time. We couldn’t even do dishes.

It was as if it was meant to be. After my parents left to take my grandmother back to the airport the power returned. I washed the dishes that had accumulated for days and turned on the Nintendo. Back to life as usual.

Do you have a favorite snow story?

Thing Two

So now you know I love the snow. But did you also know that I love, nay adore, Christmas movies? Every time a bell rings, I’ll shoot my eye out for a white Christmas. Yeah, a lot of them are cheesy, but I love love love the claymation from the 70’s and look forward to the nightly holiday magic on the FoxFamily channel, or whatever it’s called nowadays. The Christmas List with Mimi Rogers is at the height of cheesy goodness. When I was a child, my mother taped several Christmas specials for us, so every year after it was a tradition to watch that tape – it has the Chipmunks Christmas, Smurf’s Christmas, and wonderful 80’s commercials for Crayola with a song I can still sing and an ice skating Ronald McDonald. I don’t know what happened to that tape, but I just had to get back the Chipmunk Christmas groove, so I ordered me some Alvin goodness. And then I decided to add some Holiday magic to my basket with a collection – Boystown, Christmas Carol (1938 version) and Christmas in Connecticut. For those of you who haven’t seen Christmas in Connecticut, you are missing out on a tremendous classic holiday film. One of Barbara Stanwyck’s finest films, you have to see it. Come on over, we’ll pop popcorn and watch all three! But no sooner had I hit the purchase order button on and clicked over to read some bloggy goodness than I came across this post. My gasp could be heard round the neighborhood. Okay so not everyone likes holiday films, some even don’t enjoy Christmas music, though I try to perish that though, but it is almost blasphemous. Holiday films no matter how unrealistic or silly, cheesy or farfetched are great fun. Well, at least the old ones were – you won’t catch me at in line for Home Alone at an airport or Competitive Christmas, but happy will my heart be when Scrooge wakes up Christmas morning and finds out it’s not too late to right all of his miserly wrongs or when Kevin McCalister turns around to see his mother standing in the living room. Thanks Christmas movies. I love you.

Thing Three

I’ve always had a love hate relationship with comments. I turn them on, I turn them off, I reply to everyone, I read them and let them be, I get nasty ones, I get nice ones and sometimes I get none at all. For some reason I can find myself getting a little obsessed with comments – like one only gets three comments, was it not interesting enough, what can I do to write better next time and on and on. Right or wrong I figure that the amount of comments is connected to the quality of my post. But perhaps you don’t comment because I don’t respond, which is totally okay, believe me. I don’t know. Personally I just like to read blogs, not comment except on posts that really elicit some response for me. I hate sitting at a blog trying to figure out what to say to a writer even though I’ve just enjoyed what they’ve written, if I have nothing to say why comment at all. I write a blog because I like to write, and while I really do enjoy the comments and the friendship, I am having a hard time finding time to reply to all of the emails that have backed up, I can’t visit everyone’s blog as often as I would like and I find myself going crazy at the hugeness of the blogisphere. And Lord knows I don’t need something recreational driving me crazy. Blogging can be a never ending job or it can be fun. I would just rather it be fun, but I would also like the readers that stuck around through my disappearance to be happy and maybe pick up a reader or two along the way So I put it to you – do you want comments to be open or are you happy for them to stay off for the rest of my blogging days so you can read and enjoy rather than feel compelled to comment? I’ll just go with what y’all want. What are your thoughts of comments in general? What is comment etiquette?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Doopity Do

My sister called me at 3:48 am . I was sleeping and grumbled, “We were supposed to be out the door by 3:30 . We’re going to be too late now.” I pulled myself out of bed anyway and kissed Steve’s cheek before throwing on clothes and heading out the door just as my mom and sister pulled up. I hopped in the car and off we went. To Best Buy. Pardon my naïve behavior, and I will pause for a moment while you cease your laughing. It was my first time. I didn’t know that you are supposed to miss your Thanksgiving dinner and head instead to the electronics store to line up 15 hours in advance to save $500. It should be banned. Yes, I was surprised by the line that wrapped completely around the store and straight on till morning.

“I, for one, am not getting out in this cold and waiting in that line for something that is sold out before the store opens. No thank you. I don’t want a cheap 32” plasma all that bad.”

My sister decided that it wasn’t worth waiting in line either and kissed her dreams of a bargain laptop goodbye. And my mom sighed. She was just along for the ride, dear heart.

We did drive up to Alderwood to check out the line there and after shuddering uncontrollably at the monstrosity of the thing, by the time we got back to Northgate it was just about time for Best Buy to open. We parked, sat in the car until 5:05 and then waltzed into the store. Once inside we encountered chaos and the type of people that get in line for a TV 15 hours before a store opens and the type of people who join them, uh that’d be me. As the store surged with shoppers, I felt myself losing my sanity. And the employee with the bobbing purple balloons – ooh I wanted to get a beebee gun and shot them all down. He marked the end of the line and he was no where near the front of the store and the gaggle of shoppers streaming before him grew and grew. And then my head exploded.

After picking up the pieces of my brain and shards of skull that had gotten lodged in the cardboard plasma TV box held proudly by a little piglet, I went back to my mom’s car and waited until 6 am , which was when Target opened. Target was much better – a dream compared to the madness of Best Buy. I snatched myself a wee 19” LCD TV and all the Harry Potter TVs and all was right with the world again. And….no lines. It was amazing. I love Target. Target is the best. Go Target.

By the end of Black Friday, I had a TV, 6 DVDs, two pairs of earrings, a necklace, two pairs of jeans, three pairs of high heels, oh yeah baby, four sweaters, one measly pair of slacks (the world was experiencing a shortage on 2 Longs, damn the world) and a partridge in a pear tree. Yeah that’s right. All for me. ME me me. All you bloggers bragging about finishing your Christmas shopping – that could have, should have, would have, been me.

Except, you know, how when you have a really crappy year and you give and give and give, then realize your clothes are too big because the stress made you lose weight again and if you don’t treat yourself soon that Oompa Loompa penguin pant lady feeling is never going away.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Dinner with the Brits

Thanksgiving part two happened just an hour after the one at my mom’s house. Steve surprised me with the accepted invitation at the grocery store that morning, “So by the way, Nigel, the other English guy at work, invited us over for dinner tonight and I told him we would be there for six,” as though it were any other night. I guess that would have to be the way those crazy Brits look upon our night of grateful pigging out day, as if it is different from all the other times Americans stuff themselves with far too much food. Well, that’s food for thought, but moving on, I looked at Steve like he’d just kicked the puppy I always wanted, got, then wished it been a kitten instead. “My mom’s not going to be too happy about this, but um, I guess, okay, let’s go spend the evening with virtual strangers.” I rolled it over my brain and half of me wanted to throw a fit, but the other half realized that I got to spend the day with his family, so why not help Steve spend time with his, as a British coworker whom he has known less than a week must surely be, for they share the same accent after all.

It was hard to swallow the guilt I felt when I informed my mom of the development. The look on her face, which she quickly smoothed away, enhanced the twinge, and I forgot the “but Mom, Big isn’t even coming at all” speech and instead reassured her with promises that we could do whatever together all Friday and Steve should get to have a say in the day just a little bit even though it is not his holiday and he couldn’t care less about Pilgrims and popcorn, and then I threw my arms around her and blubbered because I felt torn.

So after Fruitsaladgate, we packed Audrey into the car and drove over the river and through the woods to Union Jack Nigel’s. When we pulled up to the gigantic house that could fit five of my apartment, we could see into the dining room where everyone sat talking and eating and it filled me with that warm gooey feeling I always get with tradition and family and dining room tables filled with people. I used to spend Thanksgivings with my good friend in South Carolina rather than go home, and one of our favorite things to do after eating with her family was drive around the neighborhood and peak in on other people still sitting around the table. At this house it was the men sitting talking and the women were clearing the table, at that house it was the opposite, and at other homes the tables were full or empty. There was just something about it that we both loved.

Steve, Audrey and I went into the house, were greeted warmly and introduced to the smiling faces around the table. This is where those food biases that I mentioned yesterday come in. Lovely home, lovely people, wouldn’t it follow that there would be lovely food? You’d think so, wouldn’t you? I know I did. So after naively serving up a plateful of pretty looking Thanksgiving food and artfully moving the gag-inducing mush around said plate, I sat back to enjoy the conversation and get to know my new friends just in time to hear the guy sitting by Steve say, “yeah, my name pulls up nine pages on Google – I’m that successful.” And that was when my eyes glazed over, I pasted a smile on my face and I heard only remnants after that. Remnants such as, “well, we all have Bluetooth in our cars, don’t we?” from that man’s snobby wife with the golf ball-sized rock on her finger. Uh, no lady, but mine has a dent in the side and a cracked windshield. Those are features you just can’t buy, my dear. And then the man started telling jokes. This I did hear. “A very blind man [as opposed to a not very blind man goes into a bar, a blonde bar to be precise. He sits down at the bar, orders a scotch on the rocks, then says loudly, ‘Does anyone want to hear a blonde joke?’ The entire place goes silent. The blondes all look at each other. ‘Well?’ he presses. One of the blondes, a tall drink of water with everything on her walks up to him leans over and whispers in his ear, ‘So were you wanting to tell that joke to me? I’m a black belt. Or to the blonde behind you. She’s a sharpshooter. How about the blonde at the end of the bar? She’s a WWE wrestler.’ The very blind man paused for a moment, thinking to himself, and said, ‘Well, if I have to tell it three times, it’s just not worth my breath.’” The man paused for laughs, but it’d taken him 5 minutes to tell the thing, and I’m sorry that punch line, well it just didn’t have a whole lot of, well, punch. We were silently looking at him waiting for more, but it didn’t come.

“Pie?” the hostess asked carrying a tray of three delicious looking pies. “We have apple pie made by Tony.”

“I used my grandmother’s recipe,” he smiled and we oohed and his wife rubbed his arm proudly.

“And we have a pumpkin chiffon pie and a mince pie both made by Frannie,” our hostess continued putting the pies on the table before us.

Steve straightened up at the mention of mince pies, and memories of the mini variety of which we ate so many last year in London day and night with our tea flooded both our minds. After weighing the merits of each pie, tossing out the apple pie, because well a man made it, tossing out the mince because well it wasn’t the mini variety purchased in a six-pack from Tesco, I decided on the pumpkin chiffon. Steve went for the mince to no one’s surprise.

I eagerly took my plate and took a nice big bit of pumpkin goodness only to discover that in my mouth was a malflavorous (yes, I made up a word for the occasion) concoction, which can only be described as well, gross, icky, don’t wanna eat it, mommy bad. I looked over at Steve and guess from the full plate that his was inedible as well. So much for dessert. I tried to get back into the conversation, but as soon as the man started telling a story from an old Burt Reynolds movie and pausing for laughs as though it were his own material, I tuned out again and instead found my self looking around the table at the façade of the picture. Happy, smiling people around a beautiful table with a beautiful centerpiece with beautiful china, talking to each other, glad to be together again – on the surface it was the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving that’d I’d longed for for so long. But for heaven’s sake, need it have been so dull?

I excused myself from the table and walked around to find Audrey who’d attached herself to a seven-year old girl who had a thing for dropping stuffed animals from second story balconies. As I stood at the doorway of the dining room, I heard Nigel ask Steve is I was okay. Then Nigel came up to me and said, “I just want to make new friends. I like people and I like to have lots of friends. I invited Steve because I really like him. I’m glad you could come. They don’t know this about me at work, but I love to party. I am a big partier. Partying is my favorite things to do. Here let me take you on a tour of the house.”

With my head spinning and me feeling sorry for the two sons he tosses into the playroom with an Xbox and a babysitter while he goes out to do all of this partying, I tried to stem my judgments as I took in room after room and listened as he expressed his desire to buy the much larger home across the way and turn the bonus room into a media center and blah, blah, blah material things.

As Steve and I drove home last night, I was thankful for my life. I have a deteriorating Durango, a terribly small apartment, and a tiny television, but I don’t look across the way obsessing because this neighbor has a theater and I only have a playroom or this neighbor has 4,500 sq.ft. and I only have 3,500 sq.ft. Everything may not be Norman Rockwell, my family may be split to hell, but I learned a lot from those three hours with the rich folks. Thankful I am and thankful I’ll be. Maybe someday I’ll have the 3,500 house, the Bluetooth car and the golf ball ring, but Lord help me, until then I’ll be learnin’ some proper jokes and getting friends who can cook.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Fruit Salad...yummy, yummy

On Thanksgiving a friend’s baby died in birth because of the cord wrapped around her neck, and I gave thanks for the twelve days I had with Oliver.

On Thanksgiving my uncle was able to go home, and I gave thanks that the heart attack he had the day before didn’t take him away from us.

On Thanksgiving I learned that my biases for my family’s cooking are not at all overrated, and I gave thanks that my mother taught me how to cook.

Last Thanksgiving I was 7 months pregnant and marooned in London – the only American for miles. Steve was in America – the only Brit for miles. He’d returned for a something important, though it sure didn’t seem very important to me as I wandered around Tesco aimlessly searching for something anything pumpkin. Why oh why hasn’t the rest of the world caught on to that lovely sunset hued squash of deliciousness?

This year, I bought the first pumpkin pie I saw – a gigantic 15” round monstrosity from Costco for 5 bucks. I think I ate the whole thing myself afterwards wondering again why I don’t weigh 500 pounds. This year, I made food for 20, but in the end it was my Mom, my sister, Steve and me around the little table with the old table cloth and mismatched plates. Audrey lay asleep on the couch, exhausted by all of the waiting and asking “Is it ready yet?” There were no empty chairs around this table, but the absences carried tangible ghosts. My aunt, in California tending to my sick uncle, my brother, on a navy base in Connecticut being trained to defend our country, my brother, at some other table nurturing a grudge, my father, last rumored to be in Massachusetts, paying for the sins of his past. Happy we were though, our small little group, the food was excellent, and the company – well, my sister and I didn’t fight, so that was something. Although,

Earlier that morning, I collected ingredients for the famous fruit salad and called my mother. “Should I put nuts in it?” I asked because my sister has been rumored to be somewhat allergic.

“Well, why don’t you just cut them up really small. She won’t even notice,” my mom suggested.

“Okay, you’re the mom.”

So I sprinkled the nuts theatrically and Audrey stirred them in as I always imagined. When we sat down to dinner, we piled our plates full of everything, and after a while my sister said, “Ooh, my throat’s getting itchy. I think I ate a nut.”

My mom and I exchanged guilty looks and carried on, neither willing to admit what we’d done. So we ate and talked and enjoyed, and then my sister went back for seconds. She picked up the serving spoon to the fruit salad and looked closely, “There ARE nuts in here!” And so it began. I learned that you don’t mess with a nineteen year oldand not to trust my mother when she tellsme to put the nuts in anyway.

Rebecca’s Fantastic Fruit Salad…Yummy Yummy

1 can pineapple tidbits

2 cans fruit cocktail

2 cans mandarins

2 medium Granny Smith apples, cored, chopped into bite size pieces

2 bananas, slice

¾ bag of colored mini marshmallows

¼ cup shredded coconut

¼ cup chopped walnuts (Note: Avoid if anyone is rumored to be allergic – just a hint)

1 container Cool Whip

Drain all canned fruit until nearly dry, mix all together with apples, bananas, marshmallows, and coconut. Sprinkle nuts on theatrically (see note above) and mix in cool whip, refrigerate, serve and enjoy.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Not too norman rockwell

Thanksgiving Day is coming

And Mr. Turkey said,

“If I don’t be real careful,

I will lose my head.”

The pumpkin heard the turkey.

The pumpkin said, “Oh my!

“They’ll mix me up with sugar and spice

“And I’ll be a pumpkin pie.”

A long time ago we used to sing with my dad that song complete with hand motions acting out the cutting off the head, the mixing of the sugar and spice and the eating of the pie. I can still see my dad’s facial expressions and hear his voice perfectly as he sang the song again and again until we’d learned everything. I still have no idea how or where he learned the song, but I loved it because it was the only Thanksgiving song I’d ever heard.

This year I taught it to Audrey, and it’s brought memories of those Thanksgivings when my family was complete flooding back.

Family was always important to us. Because we moved around so much, we were all we had. So no matter if it was just the six of us or a mix of aunts, cousins and strays, we valued the time together. My dad prided himself on cooking the Thanksgiving meal, and he always appointed me his helper, and I was always excited to oblige, because I thought this year would be different. It never was. Being the helper meant watching him pour nutmeg or cinnamon into his pumpkin pie mixture and listening as he extolled the spicing qualities of each and lauded his abilities to make each pumpkin pie the best he’d ever tasted and being the helper meant fetching three eggs from the fridge, handing him that bowl and most importantly of all – cleaning up after him. But I looked forward to it all even though my eyes would glaze over when he would theatrically sprinkle nuts into his fruit salad or baste the turkey with gusto. He was just dad.

Nowadays our family is very different. It has been eight and a half years since he was pulled from the house by police bearing a restraining order. See, beneath that fatherly father exterior lurked a lot of bad. I tried to stay in touch because I was the oldest and I felt bad for him. I couldn’t imagine one day having a beautiful family and four children and then next spending all of your holidays on your own. But the burden was too much for me to bear. I had to cut him off, so now he is out there somewhere with a new name and no job, avoiding child support like the plague and stalking my silly siblings on their silly MySpace pages with their silly real names plastered all over the things.

So tomorrow as I make the fruit salad, I won’t be able to help but throw a little theatrics into the way I sprinkle the nuts into the bowl, but I think I’ll let my little helper Audrey stir them in. And I’ll tell her about how I used to help her granddad just like she is helping me, and I’ll think of him and hope wherever he is and whomever he is with that he is well.

He won’t be the only one missing from our Thanksgiving this year. The grudge brother has yet again rejected a family event invitation because I will be there.

Yes, he hates me and has for a while, though it started with his girlfriend and I have no idea the cause now. It’s all in old blog entries that I’ll repost someday soon, but for now I’ll just say that I wrote something, they didn’t like it, didn’t like my apology and now they won’t speak to me. What I did wasn’t unforgiveable…that is unless you are the best grudge grudge keeper in the whole grudge grudge keeping society in this grudge grudge keeping world, which his girlfriend is. Her avoidance of her own sister ended, so it was only natural that she start something with his sister to sort of keep the grudge ball rolling as it were.

When my little brother, Red, came to town just after my birthday in July, I tried to fix it then, but they refused to come to the big family dinner, where even my uncle from California had come to, because I was to be there. Oh how I cried. Buckets. You don’t know how many. And I keep saying that I am going to wash my hands of them. I keep trying to convince myself that I don’t need them in my life. Because you know he did some REALLY bad stuff to me.

Like when Sam knowing of our relationship issues called Big for advice on the whole “try to take Audrey from her mother” bright idea, Big was more than willing to tell Sam that was a great idea. Blood is thicker than...My ass! Big knew before what Sam was planning to do, and he didn’t tell a soul. And then he did not acknowledge that Oliver existed after he was born, and he never was sent any sympathies or acknowledgements after Oliver died, even though he was at my mother’s house when I called her with the news. His nephew died tragically, and even that did not budge him from his grudge keeping grudge-full ways. At first I thought it was because of what I wrote, and then I thought it was because he wasn’t too sure about Steve because of everything that happened before we went to London together, and now? I have no clue, because nothing is bad enough to ignore your sister when she loses her child, is it?

Everyone keeps calling me up now to ask about the whole thing. I tell them if they want it over, they should boycott Big. That’s my honest opinion. If you want avoid family events, well then you shouldn’t get to have clandestine other events to avoid spending time with your sister. My mom says that at this point they just think it’s too awkward to be around me and that his girlfriend has gained a lot of weight and doesn’t want to be around a skinny minny. What? Am I supposed to apologize now for not sitting around porking out on God knows what? Argh!

Part of me thinks that I should just forget him like he’s forgotten me, but I can’t. I keep thinking back to those Thanksgiving dinners of yore. I see him standing next to me as we sing the Thanksgiving song with my dad and I can hear his little voice. I see us all sitting around the dinner table – a dozen different ones all over the country and world – and we’re together.

We’re not the same people anymore, but we’re still family. My dad may be somewhere out there, but my brother, he’s one mile from me.

What would you do if you were me?

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and may your lives be much less Jerry Springer than mine. Kiss your nieces and nephew, your sons and daughters, and never let the petty things keep you from the ones that love you. Maybe I’ll call him just one more time.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

In the Navy

Y ou see, I am a very lucky woman. Despite all of the horrible things on which I write in the post below, I have the little munchin that came of my "lifelong mistake," as he acknowledges himself. She is a sparkle. I love that she takes note of the world around her - birds, clouds, music, style. She wants to be a model. Okay, so we do talk a lot about fashion at my house. She's just a five year old with her own sense of chic.

But she is also athletic, loves books and she knows when not to say certain things that she fears may hurt another's feelings. She is clever and intuitive and likes David Bowie the best, though she has a marked interest in one of the Girls Aloud videos. She's a pretty cool kid, which I must admit worries me. In my mind, the cool kids were always the ones that did the bad stuff. I was a middle of the road kid who got great grades, had lots of friends and had absolutely no idea where drugs came from. But still, she's cool, and that's cool with me.

I love that our camera pose is so similar. These pictures were taken days apart - me in most of my Halloween costume, she in the outfit she picked out for her birthday lunch with Steve. When I loaded them onto the computer, I had to laugh. She is her mother's daughter. And that makes the world spin aright. She is my pumpkin and no matter how many weeks of the year she spends with the dark side, nothing can change that.

Oh and while I have that Halloween picture up, how discouraging is it to me that I am so not endowed in the cleavage arena that I have to wear a tanktop to keep the little I do have...well I may as well just tell the Halloween story....since I'm here.

It was the Saturday before Halloween...You know, the day when Audrey told me about the penis baths...and Audrey and I were on a mission. Steve and I were invited to a costume party and I was determined to get something English, composed Steve would wear. Since he was working all day at a large Seattle event in his suit, I stroked his ego and suggested Clark Kent. All he would have to do is don some fake glasses, throw a Superman t-shirt under his suit and he'd be good to go. So I went from store to store looking for a Superman t-shirt, braving the crowds of people all searching for last minutes pieces to complete their own costumes. Okay maybe the world has run out, maybe I was looking in the wrong place.

My last resort was the costume store. As I neared, I shuddered at the endless line of cars awaiting entrance to the house of prefab horrors and opted to parked across the street and wondered why noone else had thought of it. I clasped Audrey's hand tightly as she took in the hubbub around. We pushed our way up this aisle and that searching, searching for anything beside the cheesy pre-muscled synthetic fibered Superman suit before alighting upon the felt square section. Eureka. I snatched up a red square, a yellow square and quickly found a pair of plastic black rimmed glasses that perfectly fit the Clark Kent look and hurried to the checkout stand, which none to my dismay wound through the store and back to their curious Christmas cisplays. As we stepped into place, I noted how akin the two burly men ahead of me are to the Swine and his Yakimafia when Audrey asked, "Mama, do we get to go home soon? I'm tired of shopping."

I sighed, "Well, after a couple of hours in line here..."

But before I could finish my sentence the Swine lookalike turned around and said, "Oh no, they're very good here, they'll have you out in a flash." And he turned back to his friend just like that.

I couldn't help but cock my head. Appearances definitely deceived me. When he opened his voice, he spoke in the very definitive manner of a gay man. I took in his appearance again - big? check. burly? check. rough stance a la a few years in prison? check. high-pitched voice dripping with lisps and sing songyness. check? I smiled to myself at how wrong stereotypes can sometimes be as he nudged his friend in the side when a hot guy walked by, whom he then proceeded to hmm and ooh at until said hot guy turned a corner at which time Swine part deux (SPD) noticed something else lifted his arm straight in the air and begain fluttering his hand up and down at the wrist. More burly men, who I swear all looked exactly like the Yakimafia (it's what all of the Swine's friends who moved to Seattle from Yakima called themselves - it's fitting), joined them and they began tittering in the same high voices, same lisps and motioning with their hands in that way that you think of when you think of those stereotypes. It was like biker guys and The Village People had been thrown into a blender and this was the result. I still can't tell if my surprise is inflammatory or insulting, but it was amusing.

The SPD was right though. Shortly after his friends moved on, we zipped through the rest of the line. Audrey and I made one last stop at Target (ahem penis talk, ahem), where I bought a blue t-shirt, and then we hurried to my mom's house.

I helped my sister get ready for her party with the loan of my devil horns and tails and fun makeup and she loaned me her sailor outfit, which she'd worn the night before. When I put it on we laughed hysterically as my boobs or lack thereof totally hung out. "Did you wear a tank top with this?" Nope was her reply. I looked at my waiflike self in the mirror. Well I certainly wasn't going to be the sexy, buxom sailor she'd turned out to be, but I'd make it work. My mom teased my hair and I applied some fake eyelashes and liquid eyeliner. When I was done I was more of a cute, 60's sailor girl, nothing sexy or buxom about me, but it was still fun, though the shoes, oh the shoes, 1 size too small and narrow at the toe, I was dying before I took a step, but I was willing to make the sacrifice for my costume. After I was ready, I took out the pieces of felt I'd bought earlier, looked up the superman logo on the internet, cut the S from the yellow, sewed it to the red and had a wonderfully close rendition of a superman costume after I pinned the logo to the blue t-shirt.

So I left Audrey with my mom and went home to await our departure. At ten I called Steve eagerly looking forward to his arrival. His tired voice answered the phone. "So what's this party? Who's all going again? What are we doing" He asked them all at once. I could tell immediatly that he didn't want to go. I mentioned that I was all dressed up and that I had worked really hard putting together and making his costume and he agreed we could go for a little while.

I called Wynn, "Hey there," I said brightly, "Are you guys already there? Steve is going to be home soon."

"Well, actually we had such a long day, so we aren't going to go. I talked to Lee and they aren't going either. I tried to call you at around 7, but your phone said the network was busy so it wouldn't let me leave a message."

"Oh, you guys didn't go? Yeah, it is kinda late." I made my voice as cheerful as possible to mask the dissapointment. The party is hosted by their friend, so without them I lose my in.

"We're just so tired. You didn't get all gussied up, did you?" Wynn asked.

I popped my squinched toes out of the blue suede heels and smoothed the skirts, "No, no, of course not, I was waiting to get dressed because after Steve's long day, I wasn't so sure if he was going to want to go..." I trailed off and we said our goodbyes.

I slumped down on the sofa and waited for Steve to walk in. When he did the relief on his face made my disappointment worth it, and he thought I looked totally cute and made me pose for pictures. And then we curled up together and watched Shaun of the Dead (Best. Zombie. Movie. Ever.), which you know, was nice, but there were no cute sailors.

a spoon full of sugar helps this bitter post go down

I am fighting fighting fighting the bitterness and hatred that just won’t dissipate, though I can’t decide whether I feed these feelings or try my very best to starve them into nonexistence. Every time I speak to him, my veins go stiff and my head starts to pound. Each conversation shoots me back to that hopeless day, and the pain has not lessened but intensified. Resentment fills my voice when I answer his questions, and I can’t help but bring up my lack of understanding of his action at the beginning of the year. So I do. I bring it up again and again, and nothing he says aids my comprehension because it seems even he doesn’t know why he did it the way he did. How can you lie to your daughter? How can you build her excitement so high only to dash it in one fell swoop? I can still hear her little voice asking me how many more days until she would see me, how many more days until her baby brother would be born so he could see him. And I can hear the pain in her response when I have to tell her that she doesn’t get to come anymore.

The last time I brought it up he told me that he just didn’t think I am a very good mother. So you will understand the rage this incited. My voice was shaking as I asked him if he thought so why he ever agreed to let me go to England in the first place. Why make that agreement? Why? Why? But he doesn’t have an answer.

I have one though. And until he gives me a proper one, it is the only one I have, so forgive me if it sounds overly contrived. When Sam and I spoke of my moving to London, he brought up at the same time his plans to move to Hawaii with his then-girlfriend. We discussed timing and henceforth came to the understanding that because of the timing of my move and the planned timing of his move, Audrey would stay with him first then come to me while he moved and blah, blah, blah – verbal agreement / plan for the future, etc. Silly me. His plans changed. He and his then-girlfriend somewhere along the way decided not to move to Hawaii – could have been the whole impending break-up thing, but that’s just me. So what does my lovely husband do in light of this development? Well, he goes to a lawyer and ruins my life. Isn’t that lovely? Isn’t he charming? Wasn’t I a complete fool to trust someone and hope that we could continue to be friends?

So this is something I haven’t been able to get over nor forgive. Each time I see him, I want to wire his jaw shut for the benefits would be two-fold – he would lose the dreadful gape-mouthed wanderer look and the extra hundred pounds as a fantasy bonus. Each time I hear his voice I cringe knowing that once upon a time he whispered things in my ear and we made love and had a child.

So yes, I hate him. I hate everything about him. I hate that I ever thought we could be friends most of all. I hate that I ever confided in him. That more than anything else in the world is for what I am paying. I trusted a snake, and I got bitten. Should I be surprised? I wish that every one I know could hear the conversations we had about the move, the underhanded trickery he used to get me to send him her passport and to get me to give him my address again after he’d lost it so he could send the court papers.

That big mistake, nay huge mistake, that I made in confiding in that slime was that when we were friends and I thought I could trust him I gave him my blog address. Shockingly naïve of me. I’ll be paying for it for the rest of my life. He gave it to others. So you can see how this pattern of trusting him was just sooooo very wrong and I warn all other women to cease and desist immediately. So these others – apparently they still read the blog. You know to laugh at the pieces that are left in Sam’s destructive wake. Hi laughing others.

One of these others may or may not have been the girl with whom Sam was planning to move to Hawaii. And said person may just have read the entry on Sam’s dating Audrey’s teacher. And apparently Sam did not really do things on the up and up by this poor girl. Raise your hand if you are surprised.

So I apologize for letting the cat out of the bag that Sam is a dirty, rotten creep who likes to lull women into a false sense of complacency and lead them on in a horrible, nasty way. Welcome to my world, my friend. Welcome to my world. You have my sincerest apologies that you too have been hurt by the Swine, which by the way seems an aspire new blog name for my esteemed ex-husband.

And I’m the bad parent? Yeah….

Oh and lest all the others forget…my forum, my blog, my freedom, my perspective, my words. Want to tell your own side? That’s the beauty of the internet…Blogs for everyone!!

P.S. We will hopefully be back to regularly scheduled joviality posthaste.

P.P.S. But first...I totally need this for Christmas. Any taker?

Wednesday, November 8, 2006


So, the battle is just finding material now. I have mixed emotions because I feel a responsibility to my reader that I never felt before. I suppose when readers stick around for 7 months without a peep from me, one feels a certain burden to be entertaining, to be the best – but without tragedy, heartache and the other stuff that I don’t like to mention, this is just a girl, who goes to work, gets home late, watches show taped on the DVR while knitting and sleeps next to the man of her dreams before starting the cycle over again the next day. Sure I have a social life as well, and Audrey says the darnedest things, but for a while there I was living that crazy soap opera life. And finally the chapters are closing on that part, so I suppose it’s time to write it up like CH and I talked about.

Perhaps I’m just savoring the good life, appreciating the fact that I fall more in love with Steve every day and I’m still surprised by it, because I come from a world where love doesn’t last. But that’s okay. It doesn’t for everyone, and it’s nice to be surprised.

Still, I agonize daily. What do my readers want to read? Should I ask their opinion for this dilemma I have right now? Well, now that I’ve mentioned it, I might as well…

The Saturday before Halloween, Audrey and I were running billions of errands as I sought out the perfect costume for Steve for a party we were to go to that evening, and just as I was getting her out of the car to go into Target, she said, “I’m so glad that I’m a girl.”

“Ah,” I said to her, smiling sweetly down at my sweet little girl, “Why’s that, Baby Girl?”

“Because then I don’t have to touch penises!” she smirked.

After scooping my jaw off the center console and wiping away the immediate thought that her mind will soon change as I enjoy touching penises very much and I am a girl, I asked, “So when have you seen penises?”

“When Hera gives me and Jonah a bath when we have sleepovers,” she wrinkled her nose and hopped out of the Durango , “I see his penis, and it’s gross. I don’t want to touch it."

“Hera bathes you with Jonah? And you're both naked?" I am incredulous, shocked, incensed, but I try not to show it.

I go into the store with Audrey skipping beside me already forgetting our conversation. I had done anything but.

I called my mom and told her about it. She was shocked as well. I told Steve when he got home from work. He was shocked.

So the next day I decided to talk to Sam about it.

" I was just wondering if you could talk to Hera about that," I said, finishing sharing my concerns with him.

"Speak to who about it?" Sam asked.

"Hera." I said.


He hung up on me. I stared at the phone in wonder. Huh. So it begins. Our commitment to raising our daughter together.

A couple of days later after several emails from me, Sam finally wrote me that he and Hera discussed the issue. And that was that. So I wrote him back asking what was the result of said discussion. No answer. I wrote him again. No answer. I wrote him again. No answer.

So, internet friends, I put it to you.

1. Is five years old indeed too old to have nude baths with a male friend?

2. Is it wise for a person to attempt to parent a child every other week with no knowledge of the goings on in her life during the off weeks, which essentially means that you have nothing whatsoever to do with exactly one half of your child's life?

3. Okay, I'm just slipping it in, but does anyone else think it is ethically questionable for a teacher (Hera) to date a child's father (Sam) thus exposing her to family secrets and biases of which she would otherwise have no knowledge?

Monday, November 6, 2006

Three Kinds of Showers

The cakes were supposed to look exactly like the ones in the Martha Stewart magazine. Wynn got all of the ingredients. I just volunteered at the last moment to come over and help. But it was that moment when she opted against the fondant that everything kind of just went down hill. We spent the evening staring at the candy thermometer waiting for that crucial soft ball stage, mixing, pouring, baking, and still nothing was frosted. I pooped out at 10 pm with promises that I would return in the morning.

Saturday never really dawned, but more sort of became a lighter shade of grey. Rain streamed from the heavens reminding me that yes, the Seattle winter was indeed inevitable and has indeed arrived. And God decided to give us all the rain at once.

Ick, ick, ick, I thought to myself as I raced to the Durango, wondering why I decided to be the martyr when I lent Lee my umbrella. I suppose it’s that soft spot for pregnant ladies. But still, my freshly coiffed locks weren’t exactly liking the humongous drops of environmental leakage plummeting upon them. I drove through the torrent and near-flooded streets to Target, where I again found myself roaming the baby aisles for yet another baby shower gift. I fingered the soft sleepers and plush toys before deciding on the Boppy, God’s gift to breastfeeding mothers worldwide, and some bibs, because every baby comes with a mandatory oversupply of spit-up and drool and nothing whatsoever so to absorb it all. Sure they wouldn’t be as adorable as the hat with panda ears or the iddy biddy baby robe (really, who puts their child in a baby robe? Totally-scrumptious-pinch-their-cheeks -cute? Hell yes. Practical? I think not.), but I guarantee my gifts will get quadruple the mileage. I may not get the oohs and ahhs upon unwrapping, but like my little tortoise friend, in the long run, I win the baby shower gift race, so BOO-YAH sisters.

So after loading my so very useful but not very adorable baby shower gifts in the car, I rowed my trucks to Wynn’s house. After swimming to her front door and wringing eleventy gallons of water from my coat (why oh why had I worn heels?) I entered her house to save the day.

“Rebecca! You’re here! Thank God.” Wynn cried. “I added food coloring to our buttercream frosting and it curdled to hell, so I tossed it in the food disposal and bought Betty Crocker frosting. Help!”

As visions of exclamations points, candy thermometers, mixing bowls and the recipe’s note that “if frosting curdles upon addition of vanilla keep mixing” dancing in my head, I asked, “Um, did you try mixing it some more?”

Wynn stopped in her tracks, an indescribable look passed over her face and she lifted her chin defiantly, “Well, actually no, I just said ‘F- you’ and tossed it out, but by that time it was so late, and….I should have gotten the fondant, dammit”

Feeling dreadful for abandoning her so the night before, I set about the whipping up the royal icing while she began carving the cake into blocks. After frosting and piping and making a complete mess with plumes of confectioner’s sugar floating through the air, sticking to the moisture from the heavens, no doubt, I compared our efforts to those of our very favoring ex-con home diva and her team and decided that it’s much like the difference between Wal-Mart and Pottery Barn furniture. Wal-mart may strive to give us Pottery Barn styling without the price, but fails miserably in the execution of said goal.

We carefully packed our little baby block cakes into the Durango, and I vowed to drive carefully – no Formula One turns, not one. And she loaded up her Mini with the gifts and we were on our way. No sooner than the turn lane on Northgate did the Durango jerk immensely when I pressed on the gas and the transmission failed to engage immediately. I closed my eyes and slowly turned my head to the cake-filled tray in the passenger seat. Well, let’s just say that the baby blocks because tumbling blocks. I looked at my cell phone. Should I call Wynn and warn her or wait? I opted for the latter, turned up the radio and pretended like nothing had happened.

Half an hour late for the shower, we walked in soaking wet, bearing cake, gifts and tired smiles. We ate and drank and I watched a little two year old terror race around the clearly unchildproofed house while her weary mother halfheartedly breastfed her baby brother. When he was done eating, I asked his mother if she would like a break. She eagerly handed him off to me and went off to fill her plate, able to eat with two hands for probably the first time all day, so I found myself holding a baby for the first time since Oliver.

I smelled his baby smell and kissed his baby cheeks and held his baby hands. His baby eyes pierced my own, and I laughed when he tried to give me a hickey. But it wasn’t until he fell asleep in my arms that emotions overwhelmed me. Looking down upon his little baby lips softly parted in sleep immediately transported me to that day in the hospital when I held Oliver that one last time and gazed down at his little baby lips softly parted in death. Tears filled my eyes, and I quickly turned my back on the party urging the drops to disappear. And as I continued to look at him through the sheen of tears, I felt my heart lift and the joy return. It was a needed moment, and I felt triumphant.

When Steve and I were together that evening, I curled up in his arms on the couch and looked up at him amazed as always how like him little Oliver was even after only ten days. “I held a baby today,” I said.

He raised his eyebrows, “Oh? How did that feel?”

I smiled and kissed his cheek. “Really, really good.”

Friday, October 27, 2006

Like a Jerry Springer Episode

So sometimes I just think I will never be able to escape drama. If it is not one thing, well, then it is definitely another.

A couple of months after I started my job, I’d already become good friends with two of my coworkers, Lee and Wynn. I was at a Mariner’s game with Wynn and her boyfriend, when she got a call from Lee. She left the stands, so she could hear better, and when she returned she was beaming.

“Guess what?” she gushed, “Lee’s pregnant!!!”

I clenched my jaw to keep it from dropping and pegged up my cheeks in a desperately forced smile. “Wow!” I said with all the excitement I could muster, “That’s great for her.”

“Yeah, and she didn’t even know it – she’s three months along.”

I smiled again and focused my gaze on the pitcher’s mound, trying to ignore the swirl of emotions within me. After Wynn and Freddie left soon after, I crumpled into Steve’s arms. I could no longer contain myself. I was going to have to watch my friend’s belly get larger and larger, and I was going to be subjected everyday to cheerful baby talk. How would I do it?

I made up my mind that night that I would have to tell Wynn the truth. I would have to tell her about Oliver.

The next morning, I dreaded going in to work. I didn’t say anything to Lee about the baby, but when Wynn came in, she said, “Rebecca, Lee has her ultrasound photo! You have to go see it.”

I smiled and turned back to my computer. An hour of so later, Lee went to the bathroom, and I stopped Wynn as she walked by. “So, remember how I said that I just went to London to take care of Steve’s bedbound mother for a few months?” I asked.

She nodded, her brow furrowing in confusion.

“Well, that’s not exactly the entire story. Steve and I actually were going to live there. I was pregnant. I had my baby in February. He died mysteriously after 12 days.” I looked down at my hands as her look of confusion turned to one of pity. I stemmed her words by rushing onward. “I’m okay, I’m getting better all the time, but I just wanted to tell you because I am just not quite ready yet to be happy for Lee.” At this point my eyes brimmed with tears, which I quickly brushed away. “It’s just that, well I didn’t want you to think that I am a complete jerk for not glowing over the ultrasound picture, and I know that this is just going to be a little tough for me to handle for a little while.”

Lee walked up as Wynn expressed her sorrow for my situation, and though I hoped to avoid telling my terrible story to a soon to be first time mom, I found myself telling them everything, the move to London, the pregnancy, the suddenness of his illness, and ending with the horror of the custody battle crammed on top of it all. They couldn’t believe that I hadn’t said anything before.

And several days later, I found myself sitting with Steve, Lee, and her husband Nic at happy hour in Belltown before we were to head to the Real Madrid/DC United game at Qwest Field discussing that very thing.

“I just can’t believe you never said anything before,” Lee said with awe.

I shrugged my shoulders, “It’s not exactly something you bring up in interviews. Could you imagine?” I assumed a sobbing voice. “Please hire me. I really need this job. My baby just died, I don’t know why, my ex-husband is suing me for full custody of my daughter because he is saying I abandoned her, I don’t know why and my boyfriend is stuck in London until I have an income. So puhlease give me a job!” I stopped the faux sobbing abruptly “Yeah, I’m not thinking that would have gone over too well. They might have thought I needed more mental health time before letting me step another foot in the office.”

“Or, they might have thought you were trying out for an episode of Jerry Springer,” Nic said laughing.

Steve, Lee and I joined him, but I quickly sobered up. Funny though it may seem, it was all too true. My life is a friggin Jerry Springer episode, or even a whole slew of them. He could base an entire season just on my life. And it sucks.

I wonder sometimes exactly how much of this Jerry Springer drama is due to my choices or if I am just doomed. I’m still not convinced I am in the clear, but some days, much like this one, I am sure that the powers that me are out to get me.

My brother, whom I’ve written about many times before (which reminds me, I have all of my old entries on disc somewhere and as soon as I find it and I have my computer up and running again, I edit them and get them up on the site again – I’m also going to fix my template. I hate it right now), still won’t talk to me, despite many efforts on my part to bandaid our relationship. I haven’t even a clue as to the cause of this continued estrangement, but if anyone should be mad at this point, it’s me, my brother neither acknowledge the birth of his nephew, nor the passing of his nephew. If that’s not harsh, I don’t know what is.

So I have a lot of fronts I’m fighting in my battle toward some sense of normalcy. Some days, like today, I feel light years away. Others, like last Saturday, I feel like true happiness is just around the bend. But there is always something or someone. And I am determined to conquer it all. Happiness will prevail.

Won’t it?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Okay, okay

So I'll come back. I've partially written so many entries, but just couldn't bring myself to publish any of them. I tried and I tried. I avoided my blog email account like the plague, because it fills me with guilt knowing that I haven't written a soul back in ages and I have ignored so many really good blog friends. I've peeked in on everyone though - still following along silently on other journeys through life, yet unable to chronicle my own, even in a private journal. I've wanted to return, but I know it will never be the same for me, and probably not for you either. See, I think I've lost my writing voice. No longer do I narrate my every move, my every thought. My inner Sedaris, if you will, seems to have gone on extended leave. I’ve missed writing, but without the narrating voice I sit staring at the Puget Sound waiting for the words to pour themselves through my now-idle fingers. I can honestly say that this has been the worst year of my life. Who wants to write about that? Or better yet, who wants to read about that. But after many, many months of waiting for it to return on its own, I've decided that if I'm ever to write again, I may just have to force it. So here I am - in a very different place than the last time I posted.

I had to get over the death of my son. Not that it’s something you can ever really get over, but I had to get to that place where I could look at another baby without forcing the sobs back to that corner of my heart where the pain burned. So a couple of weeks ago I went into Target and bought a baby shower gift for a coworker and I wandered through the aisles smiling at this cute cardigan or that cute pull toy, and never did a tear stream down my cheek. I was so happy. I have contained the grief at last.

I had to get over the horror of being taken to court on fraudulent charges of the neglect and abandonment of my daughter. I will always hate and despise that man, and never will I trust him again, which saddens me, because we had a wonderful, friendly relationship before this happened. Betrayal stings so much more when you are caught by surprise on a frozen windy morning when a doorbell you hoped rung by a mailman bearing photos of your daughter’s trip to Hawaii turns out to be rung by a nosy server who reads your personal papers before throwing them in your stunned face and the cause for this is the man you once thought you loved, the man you once thought you trusted. He still maintains that he did the right thing, but there is no excuse for the lying to his daughter, telling her she would go live in England , then destroying his daughter’s dream and her mother’s well-being in one fell swoop. All it would have taken was a phone call. So yes, I hate him. Yes, I think he is worthless. And yes, I mourn everyday he spends with her. How could I not? A good person and father would never have done what he did in the way he did. Bitter? You better believe I am bitter, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a woman that would not be. So we came to an “agreement.” Two days ago the judge signed off on our case. It's over. For better or for worse. It's finally over. We each have her one week on, one week off. Does he spend every day with her? No, he ships her off to his mom and other people quite often. He's dating her preschool teacher, which means he can fill her head with crap about me and bias the school in his favor. Do I think either he or her teacher are ethically in the wrong? Absolutely. Can I do anything about it? Oh how I wish. But for now I just try to be the best mother possible to my daughter. She’s stupendous. And even if she weren’t, I couldn’t possibly love her more, but still I will always rue the day I married that white trash SOB. What was I thinking? And mom, why didn’t you try harder to stop me?

As for Steve and me, well, this year has been no cakewalk. And some shadows tend to stick to us. We are still trying to rid ourselves of the Itch completely, but I will never again speak of that here. Steve and I love each other dearly. We are a couple made in heaven. We live together in a snug, little apartment near Greenlake. Some days it's a little too snug, but it keeps us all close. And most of all, Steve loves Audrey to pieces and she loves him “bigger than all the planets and stars and moons in the universe” (her words), and we hope to have another child. Timing on that, as always, is up to the Lord.

Steve is working at a job that couldn't have been written more perfectly for him. I haven't exactly found my dream job, but I have definitely found my dream coworkers. And that's just what I needed right now. Friends. It's been so long since I've just enjoyed having friends - well, since the divorce when I gave them all to Sam, because not doing so meant having to hang out with him, and after the wonderful party where Steve and I fell in love and a friend of ours starting raging at me for being a brazen hussy because she hadn't gotten the divorce memo, I'd had enough. Friends are great, really.

And I've missed all of you Internet friends as well. I just signed on to my email - I don't think I'll ever be able to answer them all, but I'll give it a soon as I replace the cord on my laptop. It broke, my battery's dead, so I am *gasp* without a computer at home!!!

So that's it. My first blog entry in what feels like a millenium. I'll try my hardest to be a better blogger with a hope that that little voice soon returns...