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.”