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Blog Entries posted by Capulet

  1. Capulet
    Hello, all.
    I'll say this entry is part one of two - I will owe  you all a very brief entry tomorrow morning after I have faced the scale.  Oh, yes, I shudder at the thought; last week's numbers having gone in the wrong direction certainly does a 'number' (pun partially intended) on one's motivation to step back on!  But I held myself accountable for it and I'm hoping that I am ready for tomorrow morning's outcome.  I've taken my usual Sunday night cocktail, hoping that Friday night's steak dinner (no fries on the side, skipped the before-supper unlimited bread and butter, had a salad with my meal, although the dressing was the most lethal part of it, AND I didn't even finish the whole steak!) isn't held against me; I was extra vigilant with my food intake on Saturday and today, hoping that reflects on the scale in the morning.  
    I'm also starting this entry now because as I type, I'm fighting off the urge to make myself a bowl of popcorn.  Stomach is growling, likely because I had my supper at 4:30pm.  Usually we eat hours later, but my fiancee brought a pizza home from work when she got out at 3 and we all know the best time to eat a pizza is when it comes out of the oven!  Soon as she got home, we each had two slices and a couple of delectable garlic knots.  I know I have a few more points (insert Oompa's voice here...."points") that I'm allowed for the day, but have decided to skip them if I can, the numbers have more of a chance of being more favorable if I do!
    Y'all know I'm good for a brief update in the morning.  Just say a rosary for me if that's your thing! ;)
    Anyway, I had a bit of a surprise when scrolling through Facebook earlier.  A friend (and I use that term lightly, explanation to follow) of mine, someone I knew BEFORE I met the wasband, just became a grandmother.  Her son, whom I remember being five or six years old at the time and the equivalent of Hell on Earth, just became a Daddy.  
    She posted photos of her brand new grandchild, a little girl.  She posted photos of her and her husband, cradling the new addition.  The years haven't been too kindly to either one of them - she's recently had some health problems and he's looking a bit gaunt.  When I remembered/spent time with them both, they were in their forties already.  He was working at the fire department and she was a SAHM; (stay-at-home Mom) they had a little side company deejaying on the weekends and would invite me to their karaoke nights (which is kind of silly considering I never could hear the music or sing along) and I'd go, for the free drinks if nothing else.  I'd then be drunk at the end of the night and their guest bedroom would be where I stayed until I was sober enough to go home.
    Some background information here - I'd met her online, we both volunteered for an AOL sponsored writing forum and upon conversing, discovered we lived 20 minutes apart.  This was back in 1998, just before the two-year anniversary of when I'd been sexually assaulted at a party.  So, that being said, I was NOT in a good overall frame of mind.  I was eighteen, nearly nineteen.  The flashbacks, the sleepless nights, the constant mini-breakdowns were common, and she acted as a sounding board during a lot of those times - she had some CSA issues in her background, and she kept my secret.  My family remained clueless.  Online, I had a small group of supporters - AOL had a chat room for survivors that I would frequent whenever the house was empty and I had ensured privacy - but in person, I had no one.  I kept to myself, I stared at the floor more often than I looked in front of me, I rarely made eye contact with anyone.  I was soft-spoken, I wrote my thoughts down.  My grades had slipped, so I focused more on pulling them back up than I did being social.  I didn't want to be around people who were my own age.
    As far as friends went, she was the most available.  The few friends I'd gone to High School with were either away at college or simply too busy to be hanging around with me.  She was home all the time, so whenever I didn't have classes or before/after school, I'd trek over to her house.  We'd to go lunch, go shopping, we'd spend hours talking.  I spent countless weekends at her place, usually following a Friday night karaoke session.  
    I eventually told her that I had trouble trusting men.  I shared with her my feelings of a developing bisexuality and told her I felt safer and more comfortable in the company of women.  I would later come to discover that this was true even before the 1996 rape, but it was a feeling that I couldn't shake at the moment.  I remember her laughing at me when I told her that I thought I was 'bi.'  I asked her why she would laugh at that, and her answer was, 'because I'M bi, too!"  So rather than table this conversation for a time when my mental state was more healthy, I allowed her to lead me down a dangerous, risky path that I have spent the last 20 years regretting.  
    Now, please don't misunderstand me, here.  I don't for one minute regret the last ten years I've spent with a loving woman.  J and I have a successful, committed relationship and we are happy.  Y'all have seen and heard what we fight about and it's usually nothing more than what we're having for dinner that night.  I don't even regret meeting the wasband - without that fateful blind date, I would not have had my beautiful son and daughter to show for that relationship.  Sure, I would have liked for things to have gone differently and to say that an ugly divorce wasn't a part of my life, but if it ultimately means my life would have improved, then I'm okay with having gone through a (failed) marriage/divorce.  Those are things that happen to survivors and non-survivors alike, so these are things I never use the word 'regret' for.  To me, that's life.  These are bad things that have happened that bring forth some good.
    Here's what I do regret, though.  And I do think that I use this word mostly to describe the choices I made while being friends with her.  And if YOU are not in a good frame of mind as you read this, perhaps you will come back later or altogether skip the rest of this blog entry because I am about to share a little bit more about myself and most of it is stuff I'm not necessarily proud of.  Oompa knows NONE of this.  My J, though, knows all of it.  Now THAT's a relationship!
    Okay, so...
    I regret being weak enough to allow this woman to become my first female sexual partner.  I would have liked my "first time" with a female to have been a little more special than that afternoon.  I was at home in my room when she called me from her house, saying she wanted me to bring over some sign-language textbooks so that I could begin to teach her.  I didn't hesitate.  I grabbed my books, drove over to her place.  When I got there, I let myself in.  At this point, I either had a key or she left the door unlocked, knowing I'd be coming by.  Anyhow, I searched through the house and found that she was in the bathroom adjoining her bedroom, and she waved for me to come in.  I sat on her bed while she blew-dried her hair.  We exchanged some small talk about the usual everything and nothing.  When she was finished, she came into the bedroom, stood over me and asked me if I was going to take my pants off, or was she?  Just like that.  I was so surprised at what she'd just said and don't think I was even able to speak.  But I tossed the book aside and the next thing I know, she's 'showing me the ropes.'
    I think my eyes were closed for most of the time.  I didn't participate because, really, I didn't know how.  I don't think she cared, nor minded that I wasn't reciprocating; she kept at it until I managed a weak orgasm.  When she was finished, I got dressed again and went home.  I felt different.  Not violated, because, well, if it was something I didn't want, wouldn't I have said something?  Wouldn't I have told her 'no?'  I didn't.  A part of me felt more mature because now I'd been with a woman and it was an experience that I no longer had to be curious about.  I think I also felt a slight bit of guilt because she WAS married and her husband wasn't 'in the know' of the new nature of our friendship.
    I didn't feel guilty for very long.  As time went on, I learned a lot of things about my "friend."  Things that led to more and more of the subsequent "bad choices" that I made.
    Not only were we fooling around on a regular/weekly basis (we took a few small road trips, we'd sneak in some activity while her son was in school and husband at work, etc), she was also known to fool around with other men behind her husband's back.  She was overly friendly online and made many of her online flirtations a reality, especially if the gentleman caller of the week was "close by."  I'll never forget accompanying her to meet one of them.  She spent most of the one-hour trip ranting and raving about how attracted she was to him.  Then when they finally met, I sat in the car and waited while she got into his back seat.  No details needed there.  
    She also made it her personal mission to promote my sexual health - she'd attempt to set me up with men.  I don't know if this is because she felt the need for me to have an all-the-time partner, just like she had her husband.  I didn't object.  I trusted her.  I was more comfortable with women, but I was also not ready to commit to a long-term relationship with one.  My family would never have understood nor approved of that.  And so, I allowed her to "introduce" me to some of her men.  
    I dated a guy who consulted with her on a deejay/karaoke gig.  This was short-lived; we just had very few common interests and he eventually moved on.  She attempted to set me up with various men that she knew from servicing her house at one point or another.  And I only agreed to date the carpenter because he looked like Matt Damon.
    (He really did.)
    But that didn't work out, either.  
    She sent me to meet a car salesman.  I don't even remember WHY...all I remember is going into a motel room with this (older) man and waking up naked.  I don't even remember his name.  His face.  Nothing.  I could have walked past him on the street and wouldn't have recognized him.  Yet, I consented to this, apparently.  I'll later attribute my fogginess to likely dissociation - I certainly don't feel as if I was violated by him.  But back then, I always thought and believed sexual assault to be what I'd already experienced it to be - the crying, the kicking, the screaming.  Not this.  This was more along the lines of my not giving a shit about myself and just doing whatever I thought would help make me normal again.  Whatever she thought would help me be normal.  Help me ENJOY sex.
    Whenever she and I were together, she'd make small comments that, in hindsight, give me more questions rather than answers.
    "You're like a robot," she would say to me, after we'd been to bed together, "You go somewhere else whenever I touch you in a certain place."
    Back then, I had no idea what she was talking about.  Now, I do.  I was dissociating.  I was 'checking out.'  It was my way of blocking out whatever it was that I was SUPPOSED to be feeling.  Because it wasn't right.  It wasn't wrong, we were both consenting adults at this point, but there was always something there that I didn't quite understand, nor could put my finger on.  Something wasn't right.
    Just like it wasn't right on the night I was drunk after karaoke at the bar and I'd retired into the family room.  I'd just fallen asleep when she came in, took my hand and led me into her own bedroom, where she whipped the covers off her naked husband.  I didn't object, I simply obliged.  I had sex with both her and her husband that night, all of it a drunken blur.  I can't say I was too drunk to remember what happened.  I could have stopped this if I wanted to, though.  I will not convey details of the 'during,' but the 'after' left me ashamed - mostly with myself for having done what I'd done and furthermore, wondering if this woman really was my friend.  Following that night, there were a couple more threesomes, both while I was lucid, each one leaving me more and more uncomfortable with myself and with them.  I began to hate myself and what I was doing, I felt unclean, I felt more damaged than I'd been at the start of this "friendship."
    And, so, I began to distance myself.  I stopped going to the karaoke events she worked, I stopped visiting her home.  I cut down on our communication, saying that school was keeping me busy.
    I met the wasband around this time, too.  From the moment he and I began dating, there was no more physical contact between her and I.  
    They eventually moved to Florida.  It was a number of years after I'd married the wasband.  By now, the son was a toddler.  She'd send a yearly Christmas card that I'd chuck into the trash when it was time to put away the holiday decorations.  Then, she found me on Facebook and both she and her husband sent me friend requests.  I accepted.  Don't ask me why, I think a part of me felt badly for dropping the friendship, even if deep down, I knew it was an unhealthy one.  Over the years, I've flirted with the idea of deleting them both but haven't done so, yet.  I don't know why.  I don't understand it.  I think a part of me holds onto a point in time when I trusted this woman with all of my secrets and cared about her.  I guess keeping her as a Facebook friend was my way of watching from afar and was harmless - perhaps it's a good thing to kind of know what she's up to without having to spend time with her.
    So, here's another thing I have trouble admitting, mostly to myself.  Because from a different, outside perspective (yours perhaps?) it is far more clear.  
    I never classified her as an abuser, and I've always had trouble with this kind of thing.  In my mind's eye, abuse is something you don't consent to.  It's rape, something I've experienced, thus making it easier to recognize.  It's violent.  It consists of the yelling, the screaming, the hitting, the crying.  It's repetitive.  I could have said no to her advances/propositions, but I didn't.  I allowed whatever happened, to happen.  I was silent through it all.  I did not cry, I did not experience any violence with her.  Eventually, I began to participate, although slowly.  It's just not something friends do to each other.
    I know now that when someone is being abused, a fair percentage of the time, they don't even realize it.  How else do you explain child abuse?  Spousal abuse?  A child is most likely to do whatever he/she feels will please their abuser.  Only they don't understand they are being abused.  A wife will move heaven and earth to appease a controlling husband and say it's because she made a vow to obey and she's afraid of what he'll do if she doesn't comply.  That's abuse.  Mental abuse is abuse, too.  It took me years, YEARS to realize and recognize the many forms of abuse.  And it's taken even longer to figure out which forms I can hashtag, 'me, too.'
    I'm older now.  I'm smarter.  I'm not a child anymore.  When she and I were friends, (again, throwing that term out there lightly) I was an adult only in years, but have come to realize that I was a child in so many ways, stuck in a child-like mentality when it came to sex and experiencing sexual things.  Yes, that was because of what happened in 1996, and this wasn't her doing.  However, she knew my reasons for becoming 'a robot' and she took advantage of that.  She hurt me without leaving visible bruises and scars, and with each passing encounter, she further battered my self-respect until, finally, I had none left.  
    When I met the wasband, I was a broken down, submissive product of this relationship.  It's hard to call it a friendship now; to refer to it as an 'unhealthy relationship' seems more appropriate.  It makes more sense now that I think about it and am writing about it - why I jumped from one poor relationship into another.  The light bulb, that's been flickering for many years, is now brightly lit.
    So, earlier this evening, seeing her picture scroll by on my newsfeed, I couldn't help but stare at the screen in disgust.  It became so much more clear.  She's an abuser.  Whether she realizes this or she doesn't, I can safely say she is an abuser.  And on top of that, this woman is now a grandparent.  
    I sure hope people change.  I know I did.  I suppose meeting her and being "friendly" with her for about two years shouldn't be a total regret, either - she taught me a lot, even though some of these lessons took years to be fully learned.  And I think she continues to teach me, even if she raises question after question on nights like this one.  I answer them all, even if just to myself.  And then, I ask them again, again, and again.
    On that note, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, folks.  What happened, here?  And how or why was I so blind to it back then?  Or was I just stupid?  (I mean, yeah, I know I made plenty of stupid choices!)  How does someone just do that to someone else?  
    In closing, I also want to mention to you all that I've forgiven her as well as myself.  That was something I needed to do in order to move on, bury the bad relationships as far away from me as possible, and proceed onto a happier, healthier union, such as the one I share with J.  I think keeping her on as a Facebook friend is part of this forgiveness/evolution.  No, I will never look back at those times and smile; but I'll at least say I learned a lot from those experiences and they're certainly not things easily explained.
    Okay, so...tomorrow's part two will consist of either happy me (numbers down) or pissed-off me (numbers up).  It won't be as long as tonight's entry, I promise. 
    For now, good night.  My  to you all.  
    - Capulet 
  2. Capulet
    ...not to my fiancee, of course!!!  
    Guys, I'm not that kind of girl.  Never have been and never will be.  I've been cheated on (likely by the wasband, and likely by other guys that I dated before I married him.  One girl I dated briefly (for a few weeks) cheated on me...with a man, no less.  Imagine that?!
    Either way, unfaithfulness and I do not get along.  I've no respect for unfaithful partners, the heartbreak they cause and the re-building of trust that is required afterwards - nope, it's not a road I ever want to go down, nor would I want to go down with anyone who was unfaithful to me.  Because really, that's a deal-breaker.  My lovely wifey and I strongly agree on this, it's a hundred percent over if either one of us were to stray.  I'm sure that a lot of why we both feel this way has to do with both of us having endured abusive relationships in the past.  
    So why the (clickbait) title?
    Last week, I was unfaithful to my diet.  I admit it.  I'm holding myself accountable to you all.  I'm writing this for a couple of reasons.  First off, I want to be able to come back to this whenever I feel the 'ah, screw its,' because a (small) setback like this one is likely to make anyone think that.  I'm still over the 20-pound mark, but now it's going to be a little bit longer to get to the 25-pound mark, which I'd been hoping for.  
    I got on the scale on Monday, my usual weigh-in day.  And yes, this is a big part of the reason I didn't update right away.
    I gained one stinking pound.  1.1 to be exact.
    After I kicked and screamed at the scale (half expecting it to scream back at me, "What the hell do you expect???  Do you know what the hell you ate this week?!") I rang Oompa to share the verdict.
    "Do you know why?" Was all she said.  My mother's had her own ups and downs, if anyone were to understand the frustrations of dieting, it's my mother.  She's been on a diet for as long as I've known her.  
    Let's see.  Monday, I want to say I ate normally, eggs for breakfast, chicken for supper.  Tuesday, we had pasta with homemade alfredo sauce (I was sure to use the cream of mushroom in a can rather than buy the store brand jarred alfredo sauce).  Wednesday, I made a pulled pork in the crock-pot and served them on rolls that weren't necessarily the healthy type.  Thursday, we had chinese take-out because the kids begged me not to make anything to do with chicken.  I guess I can't blame them - they've had enough at this point.  And so, the Son requested I make different things this past week, and I obliged.  And I also indulged.  My portion sizes weren't enormous; I can't eat as much as I used to.  However, I still ate mindlessly, without measuring, without being strict with myself, without cutting myself off when I'd eaten enough, regardless of whether I was still hungry.  On Friday, the wifey had a medical procedure done (more on that another time) and wanted a cheesesteak with fries afterwards.  I didn't eat the cheesesteak, but I ordered a chicken parm hero - when they handed me my plate, I think I might have said 'sweet Jesus' a little too loudly.  Suffice to say, I ate about 1/4 of that hero - brought the rest home where the kids devoured my leftovers.  Then on Saturday, we went to my nephew's birthday party and I ate two slices of buffalo chicken pizza.  Then I've got to consider the nights I had (fat-free but not point-free) popcorn for a snack.  I didn't track ANY of these foods - but I don't blame my weight gain on that.  I haven't been tracking via electronic app for weeks, because I was eating all of the same things and it got too easy not to write it all down.
    Here's what happened.  Like the kids, I got bored with the same ol' and I gave myself a little too much slack last week.  Lesson learned! 
    And yes, guys, I know - it's only one pound.  I do know I could have done a lot worse than that.  This brings me to the second reason I'm writing this and sharing here.  I need to convince myself, too, that it's not the end of the world.  Maybe I just didn't drink enough water and maybe retention is part of the problem.  And I know I COULD HAVE done a whole lot worse.  I was not strict with myself, but a part of me WAS careful and a part of me was doing some damage control - I think the numbers on the scale could have been a lot more grave.  So, while I'm annoyed with myself for not taking care and losing that pound rather than gaining it, I have to remember to also commend myself for having a degree of self-control and minimizing the damage.  
    And now, I must go on.
    I told Oompa I certainly did know what I did wrong.  There was just too much, so I didn't give her any details.  Not only did I go over my allotted points for each day, I was sure I surpassed my weeklies, too.  
    Interestingly enough, I won't admit these little menu details to Oompa.  I don't know why - like I said, my mother likely would understand anything I had to say about diets.  Maybe it's because for years and years, I rolled my eyes at her and made fun of her measuring cups and spoons and recipes...I can't tell you how many times she served me something that looked like cat puke....being a mediocre cook to begin with, her "diet" foods weren't appealing, either.
    God, I can't begin to explain why I hear her voice CONSTANTLY when I'm going down the food aisles at Wal-Mart.  "That there, you mix it with this here, and it's three points," etc.  Whenever I see the words on the app - I hear her voice.  "Two points."  "Zero points."  "Points, points, POINTS."  And I'm hearing impaired, explain that!?
    She's never scolded me for my dieting snafus.  The last thing she said to me before I hung up with her on Monday was, "It's all good.  Just keep going." 
    But I've got no problem with admitting it to you guys.  No one here knows me from a hole in the wall, and yet, sharing little things online has always been far more comfortable to me than sharing in person with someone who knows me.  Someone who can see me.  Tell me I'm not the only one?
    So, yeah.  I failed miserably last week, but I'm going to try to get back on track this week.  I'm going to get back into my app and starting tomorrow, pay better attention to what I eat.  I did make a lovely bean soup with white meat chicken on Monday.  Today, I had balsamic chicken with roasted potatoes and vegetables.  Tomorrow, J will be making pasta with meatballs, but I am going to measure what I eat.  And I'm going to be downing the water.  I wanted my popcorn snack while watching the baseball game tonight, but I decided against it.
    It's all I can do, really. These little things.
    Hoping to have better news for you all next week.  
    To myself...I'm sorry.  I screwed up.  I'm going to make it right.
    To the scale - screw you.  I'm coming back next week,  and I'm owning you!
    - Capulet
  3. Capulet
    Hello, hi, hola....shouting out to you all on this very dreary Sunday afternoon - however, the New York Mets' 12-2 start to the 2018 baseball season has me smiling even if the weather is not.   
    At least it's not snow, right?  Happy to report that we haven't seen any of that in over two weeks.  Looks like spring has finally sprung and the underboob sweating and rash season is upon us all!  (If you're a woman, you'll definitely understand this.)  J is already trying to convince me to install the air-conditioners but I feel that it's still too early for this.  I have, though, agreed to let her put the ceiling fan on at night.  Aren't I a doll?
    I do have some life updates, though.  Not many, but some. 
    The daughter's "boyfriend" (yes, you may picture me with the quotations again!) is now just her friend.  Apparently, she made the mistake of telling her father about her "boyfriend" during one of their (usually chaotic) dinner conversations and he immediately insisted that she 'downgrade' their relationship to just 'friends.''  I have to say that I'm not upset about this. She did her share of pouting over it, but now that the heartbreak is over, she's back to face-timing and chatting with him, same thing she was doing when he was her "boyfriend."  When I say she should just be friends, I get an argument, when he says she's going to just be friends with him, she complies without hesitation.  Go figure.
    On the same topic of my daughter, she's now "friendly" with that snooty problem child that she's been having issues with since the start of this school year.  So, I'm sure this means there will continue to be drama.  It just seems drama FOLLOWS this kid around.  I try to avoid it at all costs; I LOATHE drama and I just don't have the patience for it.  
    One of my baby nieces had a hospital stay over the weekend.  She was admitted on Friday night with a fever and pneumonia.  My niece is the only child of two medical professionals, so I'm guessing there is never a shortage of germs in the house.  My brother-in-law is a Pediatric Dentist and constantly has his hands inside the mouths of germy children and my sister is a Physician's Assistant and works at a hospital.  (Ironically the same hospital my niece was born in and spent the weekend in.)  Fortunately, she had two days of IV antibiotics and she's hopefully going home today.
    Saw my nephew and my other infant niece yesterday, at his birthday celebration.  Was nice.  Of course, now I see less and less of Oompa; but in a way, that's also an equivalent of a drama-free visit.  
    My mother certainly has her hands full now, with the "younger" grandchildren, and my daughter has resorted to eye-rolling at the mention of anyone in my family, not limited to Oompa.  She's in general annoyed with my mother, because Oompa doesn't see much of her (or any of us) anymore.  It's not entirely my mother's fault, because we DID move two hours away from the rest of them, but a large part of her absence these days is due to the arrival of my two new nieces.  My sister who is a PA enlists in Grandma's Babysitting Service two to three days a week and whenever she's not with that sister, she's with the other one.  Doesn't leave much time for her to spend with us.  So the daughter is in part, jealous, but she's also UIW (Under the Influence of the Wasband) and a lot of damage has been done because of his mouth.  He makes a career out of saying that she is "dividing" our family, giving the ones who live closer priority.  I know, this is not fair at all, but I'm tired, I've no longer got the energy to combat the bullshit that comes out of his mouth.  And so whenever I see him during a kid swap, a quick hello and goodbye is best.  My children are far too impressionable and they unfortunately adopt HIS unreasonable way of thinking more often than they make decisions on their own.  This isn't an update; it's something I've known for too long a time, now, and something I don't have a clue how to fix.  
    Little side note: it's taking me a very long time to type this.  I have a cat who insists that I don't give him enough attention during the course of one day.  He's being very demanding and whenever I look busy, he jumps onto my keyboard and insists I drop whatever I am doing until he's finished rubbing his (adorable) face against mine.
    I'm almost down a total of 24 pounds, will have a more accurate number in the morning.  Being Sunday night, it's nearly time for me to take my weekly laxative/cleanse pill before the morning weigh-in.  I will be doing that soon, then will watch the Walking Dead with some bathroom pauses, thank heaven for TiVo.
    For a little while, we're finished with Friday night bowling.  We didn't do as well as we'd hoped, but there's always next year.  We will just be bowling on Mondays for now, until that league ends and we start summer bowling.  One night a week for the summer; we've got some mini-plans and both my kids have birthdays over the summer, as well as my son's high school graduation being right around the corner (yes, NOW I feel old!) which means at least three backyard parties are in my future...
    Leading me to the last thing I'll mention for now - my need to clean up/beautify my back yard.  The people who lived here before us had a pool.  They apparently took out the pool (we never saw it), leaving us with a bunch of rotted wood that was built into the ground (it bordered the area that used to be the pool) as well as a lot of areas in the yard that are lopsided or otherwise uneven, terrain-wise.  I just dropped a little over a grand to have the tree people come cut down some trees that were dangerously close to the house as well as pull up these unnecessary slabs of wood that are no longer purposeful, then they removed a bunch of other debris from the yard and used their Caterpillar to try and flatten the terrain out some, but it still needs more work before I can consider hosting any parties in the near future.  Soon as it gets a little warmer (today was in the 40's) I will be out there trying to finish the job and will soon be seeing about some grass acquisition.  Right now, the yard is nothing to look at - there is a little fire pit off to the side, but the rest of it is a beige rock and dirt mess.
    Anddddd that's it.
    In a way, I'm guessing it's a good thing that I don't have much to report.  Whether that means life is going well or it means I'm just boring right now is debatable.  I guess this makes me human, we all have our boring moments, right?  Right?
    Hoping everyone else's life is boring right now, too.  Sometimes no big developments are enough to call it good news.
    - Capulet
  4. Capulet
    Today, I come to you all humbled, because I have no idea how to handle the Jekyll and Hyde type individual that is my soon-to-be 12 year old daughter.  
    Last week, she came to me with a smirk on her face saying that there's a boy at school that she's now calling her 'boyfriend.'  At the time, it was 'hush-hush,' meaning she didn't want me to share this information with her father.  It's not information I think needs to be shared right now, so I said nothing to him about this kid.  I did see texts from this aforementioned boy, and he's sending her little heart and rose emojis and being all sweet, to me it looks like puppy love and it's seemingly harmless.  Additionally, my daughter's lock screen on her phone has his picture on it.  I inquired as to what made him her boyfriend at this point.  She said they're 'dating.'
    "Oh, really?"  I asked her, "So, he came by on his bicycle to pick you up, then you went to a Disney movie together?"  I'm trying to think of what exactly two eleven-year-olds consider to be a 'date,' considering neither one of them has a penny to their names.
    "No,"  (and she added a little eye-roll in there) "We're together at school."
    "Oh, so you two share a smooch in between classes?"
    "Ewww, MOM!"
    I have to say I was relieved when she acted appalled at the last question, but then asked her if she was getting confused between friendship/crushes and a boyfriend, and she says she's not and insists upon labeling him her 'boyfriend,' possibly because, apparently, it's what's cool in middle school.  She talks about her friends having their own boyfriends, so I know it's something that is somewhat inspired by peer pressure rather than on her hormones.  In school, she's mature and she wants to be on the same level as her 'mature' friends.  On one hand, it's good that she and her 'boyfriend' are the same age and in the same grade, and if this blossoms into something a little bit more certain in a couple of years, then I'll begin to worry about the other little things and I'm sure the wasband will be inviting him over to come see his shotgun collection.
    Right now, I feel as if I have other things to worry about.  Like my daughter's re-occuring propensity for childish behavior.  On one hand, she likes to feel grown-up...the 'boyfriend' is just one little change; she's also been asking me to have her hair highlighted and she occasionally wants to get acrylic nails.  Then other times, I catch her doing childish things and feel she's in need of the same type of reprimanding you'd give a toddler.  
    So, this next thing I'm going to mention also happened last week; although a couple days AFTER she came to me to tell me about her 'boyfriend.'  
    She was in our family room playing video games, with her homemade slime and with her phone and iPad at the same time.  (I do think she's undiagnosed attention-deficit-disorder because she can NEVER just focus on one thing.  Even when she's doing homework, she has to have a million things going on at the same time.  It makes for a good future multitasker, but right now, it's not doing her any favors.)  So, she's got all her things out on the couch next to her, she might have also had a snack and drink in front of her.  I know there was also a pillow that may or may not have had a small hole in it before she started playing with that, too, but when I went down to check on her, I found her amidst a conversation with the 'boyfriend,' slime in her hands, game controller sitting idle on her lap, crumbs on the floor and feathers from the pillow scattered all over the floor in front of her.  
    "What the holy hell happened in here...???"
    "What, the feathers?"
    "YES, the feathers!"
    "Oh, they just fell out of the pillow."
    I can't...I just can't.
    I wasn't buying it.  Feathers don't wiggle their way out of pillows.  Nope.  I deduced that she was pulling them out, one by one, because for some reason, doing so fascinated her more than any of the other wonderful things that she had in front of her.  I called bullshit on them feathers jumping out of the pillow unassisted and said a whole bunch of things at that moment, but long story short, I told her that I expected it cleaned up before she left to go to the wasband's for the next few days.  She said she would.
    She got picked up on Saturday afternoon, this was the day after she made the mess.  Side note, I'm sure you're all asking - why didn't I go check to make sure?  Simply because I made the mistake of thinking that her age meant she was mature enough to do what she was told?  Well, lesson learned.
    Sunday, I went downstairs to fetch a new battery for my XBOX controller.  I had to go through the family room in order to find the Double A's in the garage and when I did, I saw that there were STILL feathers scattered about the floor.  Still a container of slime (thank GOD it was closed) on the couch.  Still the empty water bottle in the cup holder.  Oh, and about the feathers...there weren't that many of them out in the open, leading me to believe she DID attempt to clean up her mess, she just hadn't gotten around to putting the slime away, right?
    Already slightly pissed off that she didn't clean up 'properly,' I grabbed the nearby broom so that I could finish the job.  She's 11, I'm telling myself.  I can't expect her to clean the way I would clean.  I'm putting the bar too high.  At least she swept up most of the feathers, the reason I'd gotten annoyed with her in the first place is because I KNEW I was going to have to 'finish' her cleaning job.  Just like when I ask the Son to clean something, I ALWAYS end up in there after him, getting places he missed or just plain ignored.  That's the deal when you have kids...you make them clean up their messes when they're old enough to do so, and even so, that Mommy instinct goes in when they're not looking and you re-clean.  It's a way of life for me.  I don't know if it's because of my existing OCD but either way, at this point, it's expected.  As a result, I never ask them to clean too much - why bother?  I end up fixing it, anyway!
    When I went to sweep up whatever was left on the floor, I discovered that there was already a PILE of feathers BEHIND the TV stand.  It literally looked as if she'd swept the feathers and rather than sweeping them under the rug, she accumulated them all behind the TV stand hoping that I wouldn't find them there and accuse her of a job NOT well done.
    I flung the broom, narrowly missing a cat. (He's fine, he was just startled.)
    Out came my phone, and I texted her, making sure not to make any spelling errors:
    "Explain to me why it looks like a chicken exploded behind the TV in the family room?"
    I get back multiple emojis symbolizing that she's laughing/crying.  
    "THIS IS NOT FUNNY NOR COOL!" I texted back to her.  
    "Oooops.  Sorry," she texts back.  
    My OCD kicks in again.  I could very well have waited for her to come home (tonight) and made her pick each and every one of those frigging feathers up.  With chopsticks, if I wanted to be difficult and serve up a side order of payback.  Or I could have gotten into the car, driven to the wasband's house, picked her up, made her clean up in the above described fashion, then brought her back over there to finish out her time with him.  That's just even more work on my part than just the usual 're-clean.'  I could have done either one of those things, but no.  I couldn't have those feathers there for even a minute longer, especially in an area where various electronics are plugged in.  So I swept up and disposed of the feathers, all while thinking of what I could possibly do to inspire her to grow up.  
    And, by 'grow up'...I don't mean in the sense that I don't want her to be my little girl anymore, that's always going to be something that won't change.  The Son is looking more and more hairy as he approaches 18.  His voice is deep, he's driving, he's heading off to college in September and when I look at him, all I see are his baby-faced pictures and thats' usually all it takes for me to get nostalgic.  Same for her.  Only problem is, she's STILL acting as if she's five years old, and her recent redecorating with feathers is just the last straw for me.  I'm partially responsible, for not monitoring her every move, but in my defense - she's almost 12.  Why would I have any reason to believe that a 12-year-old had to be watched while playing video games?  But as I said before, lesson learned.
    I spoke to her again last night about it, after I'd had a chance to calm down and process further what she'd done...and asked her why she'd swept the feathers behind the TV stand.  Her response?  "Because I didn't want to clean it."
    I informed her that she'd already done most of the 'cleaning;' it takes the same amount of effort to sweep the feathers into a damn dustpan and then empty the dustpan into the trash than it does to put them in a neat little pile behind the TV for me to find and have a fit over later.  She giggled.  But then I threatened to take out her baby pictures when I finally had the opportunity to meet her 'boyfriend.'
     (And, yes, every time I say "boyfriend" you are all free to air quote!  I do.)
    Then her eyes got wide.
    "You want to have a boyfriend, you need to grow up," I told her.  "You're going to be 12.  Numbers go up, not down.  You need to start thinking before you act, cleaning up your own messes and learn to set an example for your younger sister!"
    I'm REALLY hoping I don't have to have this conversation with her, again.  Chances are, I will, because this is simply her Dennis the Menace personality - she once squeezed out an entire tube of my hand/body lotion into the trash can and on the bathroom walls, 'because she liked to see it all come out of the tube.'  And no, she wasn't five when she did that - she was about eight or nine.  NORMAL children that age simply don't do that stuff.  If they do, then I do apologize for the rant and for being mistaken but something tells me I am not.  I think she's, despite all of the things she has, actually BORED and she destructs rather than does things that can be seen as otherwise productive.
    Maybe I need to go into her room, dump a pile of feathers in the middle of her floor and when she got home, there they'd be, waiting for her to clean because I didn't want to clean them, either....  (Oh, DAMN, I should have!!!!  WHY do I think of these things AFTER the fact??)
    But that's what I'll be doing from now on, it's time to give this kid a taste of her own medicine.  
    Hope everyone's day is going well.
    By the way, new total for this week - 22.7 pounds gone.  I feel great, I am less hungry, I have more energy.  Looking forward to warmer, sunny days, so I can work on exercising outside more with Dennis, errr....I mean, the Daughter...she's going to try out for the 7th grade basketball team for next year, and I'm sure hoping this will distract her from some of the unfavorable behaviors she's been exhibiting.  We love our basketball hoop, which will be accessible again after tomorrow - Winter Storm Riley decided to droop a tree branch in front of where the hoop is, so a guy from the tree company is coming tomorrow to properly detach the entire branch.
    Meanwhile, I'm locking up the rest of the throw pillows until further notice.
    - Capulet
  5. Capulet
    Hello all,
    Apologies for not having been around lately.  I'm still here at least once a day; checking boards and my inbox, in case anyone's said 'hello.'  (hint, hint.)
    So, I do have a few updates for you all. 
    I won't get into too many of the weight loss details, but that's still ongoing, I've dropped 20 pounds and there's still quite a way to go!  But being able to bend and cut my toenails without looking like a circus contortionist is fantastic!  Oh, and I can finally fit inside a regular-sized bathroom stall and I don't have to wait for the 'handicap accessible' stall...you guys know what I mean, the biggest stall that you can find in almost every bathroom.  Mind y'all, I always could 'fit' into those half-stalls, but man, twisting and turning to take care of/clean/wipe certain areas wasn't an easy feat...
    On that topic, I haven't bought new clothes yet.  My old clothes are starting to get baggy on me, which is a nice thing to see but pretty soon, I'm going to have to get things a size or two smaller.  I started with underwear last week and am loving my new granny panties!  (I'll always still wear full briefs, I don't think any weight loss is going to change my attitude regarding the butt floss some people prefer - I'm going to be 40 this year, that butt-floss ship has sailed)...
    I also bought myself a new XBOX with my birthday money.  My birthday was months ago, but my old XBOX decided that it didn't want to recognize wireless connections anymore.  So my son called Microsoft to attempt to troubleshoot, but the fella on the other end had him reset the console to factory settings (basically wiping the whole thing out) in attempts to fix the problem.  All that did was render the console obsolete because in order to re-install games onto it, we have to have an internet connection.  They wanted me to pay $135 to have it fixed, so I just surrendered my birthday money, plus a little extra toward a brand-spanking-new XBOX.  And for the last several days, I've been playing GTA V.  (If you think I have a potty mouth, you should hear the language coming from THAT game!)  
    Okay - moving along...
    Most of you know that I have a problem with religion.  I don't understand it.  To me, it's just a set of rules that apply to only a select/elite group of people who believe they're right about whatever it is they believe is going to happen to us all when we leave this world.  Did you know? The Catholics are right about theirs, the Jews are right about theirs, the Christians, Buddhists, Islamics, Hindus, Slavs, etc are all right, too.  Here's my thinking - we're all headed to the same place after we depart this one, and EVERYONE can't be right!  If you ask me, I think the Atheists are right - you just gotta be a good person, the best kind of person you can be, and you're golden.  Sticking with that.
    So, holidays in general, especially the religion-based ones, are very rarely seen by me as anything other than an opportunity to enjoy some good food and family or friends.  I always end up feeling badly that I don't even think about the real reasons behind the Easter or Christmas...but then I remember that fact that no one ever feels the same about them and I don't feel so badly anymore. 
    It seemed fitting that I'd post a little blurb here today.
    I woke this morning at around 9:30; I was having some weird-ass dreams.  Something to do with one of the past Hell's Kitchen contestants trying to jack my wallet.  (As if I had anything in it!)  After I thoroughly checked the house for the thieving contestant and confirmed my wallet and it's contents were still in my possession, I sat down at my computer.
    I started thinking about how as a kid, my mother used to dress us in those god-awful Easter dresses with the equally as ridiculous bonnet/hats and we'd go to church before ending up at my grandmother's house for dinner.  My grandmother wasn't the best cook.  In turn, my mother isn't the best cook, either.  Her forte is cookies - she does well with the holiday baking, that's something she enjoys immensely, and partially why she's always on Weight Watchers.  
    My grandmother, though, was second generation Sicilian.  (I'm not even sure I'm correct using the 'second-generation' term; what I mean by this is HER parents were born in Sicily, Italy and came to New York before she was born.)  She was a gem of a women, although impoverished, had nothing and raised three children (my mother, aunt and uncle) on potatoes, eggs, and bread.  She didn't know how to cook anything unless it was eggs or pasta.  And when serving pasta, they had what was called Sicilian Meatballs, she used to plop peeled hard-boiled eggs into the sauce (or as she'd call it, 'gravy') and say that those were their meatballs because she couldn't afford the meat.  
    When I was a kid, we'd have real beef meatballs, but old habits die hard.  We were introduced to the hard-boiled eggs in the gravy when we were kids and every year on Easter, we'd have one meatball (a real one) and an egg in our pasta.  Gravy on top.  I know it sounds nasty, but when you're introduced to these "weird" eating habits as a kid, you're kind of doomed as an adult to introduce to your own family and friends these little culinary inventions.  I'll never forget when my kids looked at me as if I were crazy (I KNOW I am, I left that one wide open, so...shhhh!) when I asked if they want an egg in their sauce.  So I never did again.  
    I have to also mention that whenever I try to remember holidays when I was a kid, every single memory is tarnished; he was always, ALWAYS there.  My uncle, the priest.  As he was my grandmother's son, it's hard to cut him out of these memories.  He was always a presence; he lived in the same house.  I will admit to being adequately blocked-off so much, that I didn't mind him being around.  It was just a way of life at that point, an instance where I didn't have a choice.  It was one of those things that couldn't be helped, because wherever Grandma was, there he was, too.  In hindsight, I can certainly say I ignored the little things.  He constantly smelled like sweat and rotten farts, he had that birthmark on his hand that I didn't like, little things like those were ignored because the younger version of myself simply didn't know how to express or further process my reasons for hating him.  But anyway, he used to cook, (not very well, either) and since HE was a slightly better cook than his mother, our holiday dinners were hyped-up by my mother, his sister...it was usually "Uncle So-and-So is making a lamb for Easter," or "aren't we so excited to have Uncle So-and-So's turkey for Thanksgiving?"  As my grandma got older and older, he took over more and more of her cooking duties until she stopped preparing food completely a year or two before she passed away.  And I know I've previously mentioned that when she passed, a switch within was flipped.  I realized how much I hated this man, and now I feel as if all of my previous holiday celebrations were, well...fake.  
    I'm not even sure this makes an ounce of sense.  So I'll stop here.
    Just because I have an issue with religion-based holidays doesn't mean that you all should, too - we have different likes and dislikes...for me, it's all about the food and the chocolate and spending time with my children and watching them eat the things they love, but for others, it's going to have a completely different meaning.  I accept that and respect that.  
    So, in closing - enjoy your day, friends!  Enjoy the food, if you're partaking.  Enjoy the company, if you'll be with people you love and trust.  Or, enjoy yourselves if you've got plans to spend the day alone - do something wonderful for yourselves, you're worth it!  Either way, enjoy today, in any way you can.
    - Capulet 
  6. Capulet
    Seriously, Elsa?  
    After dumping a foot of snow and sending trees crashing down onto our power and cable lines two weeks ago, you're SERIOUSLY about to send us more of the powdery, annoying, pain-in-the-ass white shit we call 'snow?'
    Guess what???  It's SPRING.  Today is the FIRST DAY OF SPRING.  It is time for you, Mother Nature, to warm up to the idea of sunny and pleasant days.  Pun fully intended, as I'm sitting here in a hoodie and sweat pants.    
    Kids have missed enough school in a single winter up here than they ever did during snowstorms in New York City.  The NYC mayor didn't give a shit, we'd get a foot of snow the night before and school would still be open.  But now, because you're cranky, Mother Nature, there's an extra week tacked on at the end of this school year because of the shit you pulled during Winter Storm Riley.  Shit that we're JUST now getting over, just in time for you to get your second wind.
    Enough is enough!  I just went shopping too, so if you decide to render us all powerless for another several days, kindly throw a tree on the wasband's power lines instead of mine.  He has a generator.  He can deal with it.  
    Chill out!
    (And by that, you can assume I DON'T mean send us more freakin' wintery conditions!)
    - Capulet
  7. Capulet
    Hello, friends!
    Sending my usual apologies for not having updated in a while.  For the first time in several days, I can sincerely say we’re thawed out.  The new boiler is working nicely - we now have heat and hot water in addition to the restoring of our electricity and internet.  The kids went back to school this week; a lot of families in the area didn’t have power for the entire week last week following the winter storm, so the school district had some mercy on us all and closed the schools for the entire week while electric, oil, propane, cable companies all worked hard to get us all back up and running.
    Of course, my bank account is going to be quite sad for a while, now that we have to come up with a way of funding the new boiler, which is now on Oompa’s credit card.  I may have to consider selling my eggs.  I make cute kids.
    Anyway, amidst all this there was the usual wasband drama.  We never seem to go without.  We’ve gotten to the point where his name is mentioned and all eyes begin rolling.  Mine, J’s and depending on how they feel about him, the kids’.
    I cannot express to you all enough how much misery this man puts me through.  Even now, when I’m not married to him anymore and he now has a wife (his third) that he can annoy on a daily basis.  He has a new wife that he can order around, a woman who once was tough but now has succumbed to his endless manipulation.  No, I don’t feel bad for her, but at the same time, I do understand it all because the emotional abuse didn’t stop once the divorce papers were signed.  Because we share two children in common (and that’s about all we share that matters) he still seizes any and all opportunities to remind me that he is right, he knows best, he’s never wrong, and I am one hundred percent wrong, every single time.  Of course, that’s what he says initially, but after the volcano that is the wasband erupts, he cools down and somehow remembers how to talk rationally.  Even then, he wastes no effort in proving why he was right in the first place.  All I end up doing is nodding my head, because really, what the fuck is the point?  Nothing I say is going to be right and I don’t have the energy to argue.  I’m sick of seeing his pissed off face, the look of disgust when I talk to him or even try to tell him how I feel about something, the 'whatevers’ when I know I’m right and he does, too, and he just doesn’t want to give me an iota of credit.  
    I’m so tired, guys.  I’m REALLY tired.
    Know though, that the wasband came from a broken, abusive home and he’s been on his own since he was a teenager.  Add to that he’s ex-military.  By now, he’s alienated his entire family, and I do have to say that most of it was for justified reasons, but at the same time, it has destroyed him as a person.  He has only the concept of his own family, everyone else’s family is irrelevant to him.  I know he’s capable of being a good person when he wants to, but his need to control everything and everybody around him overshadows his finer qualities, as few of them as there are.  And now, he’s managed to brainwash our children into agreeing with everything he says because they’re afraid of what he’ll say to them if they don’t.  There’s so much I want to say to him, so much I want to scream at him, but I don’t because, what’s the point?  He’ll come back at me with the usual belittling bullshit he’s mastered in the nearly 20 years I know him.  He is truly an ugly, UGLY man, and right now I want to punch him in the face.  All I can do at the moment is hope for another stent collapse in the near future because REALLY, there is nothing at all short of his passing that will free us from this man’s influence.  And then there’s the subsequent feeling of guilt for having admitted that much because that’s just plain horrible of me to say.  
    Let’s get this straight, I’ll never hate him.  As much as his behavior is tedious, tiresome and unreasonable, he IS still the father of my children and he provides.  And so, I often have to force myself to soothe their ruffled feathers every now and then but I’m running out of ways to do that.  He doesn’t defend me to them, I’m sure.  Whenever they have an issue with me, for whatever reason, they bring it to him and of course, I get lectured about it and reminded of why I’m wrong.  He actually had the balls to tell me that they were losing respect for me, when ironically, their complaints about HIM have escalated in recent months.  However, when they come to me with problems they have with him, we listen and shake our heads, but we certainly don’t go running back to him.  We don’t get that luxury.  He’d just tell us we’re wrong, so again, what’s the point?
    God, I absolutely hate how he is.  I hate how he intimidates everyone around him, including our children.  Right now my daughter is grounded from all of her electronics, TV and social media because he feels she intentionally harmed her little sister when they were roughhousing.  My daughter claims and insists she didn’t mean for the little one to get hurt, but he flat-out accused her.  And so, I tried not to laugh when my daughter gave my phone the finger when she saw her father’s number pop up.  I spoke with the wasband over FaceTime and told him that I truly didn’t believe it was our daughter’s intent to hurt her sister, and he immediately started yelling at me and saying that by saying that, I was enabling her behavior.  
    And so I nodded.  Said, “okay.”  Said nothing more for the duration of the conversation.  I don’t think I heard much more of what he had to say after accusing me of enabling her bad behavior.  I saw just his face get all ugly, his sneering, his lip curls.  And so, like a robot, whenever he said ‘am I right?’ I would just nod.  Because I’m not in the mood to carry on this conversation forever because that’s about as long as it would take for him to see anything in the same perspective as me.
    You see, my own brain was going a mile a minute.  I know she has been acting out more than usual recently.  She HAS had an attitude lately, she HAS been defiant, she HAS been different since we moved here.  She’s also 11 years old, 12 in a few months.  She’s expressed how much she hates it here, she’s said she misses her friends, she’s unhappy with the way she’s being treated in school.  Not to mention, if she’s anything like me, her first period is likely on the horizon somewhere and she’s hormonal.  I brought up all of these points to him, not only to defend her but because I truly believe that’s why she’s behaving in the manner she is.  But basically, I was told to shut up and that I was allowing her to behave negatively and making excuses for her.  
    Thank GOD I have this place to vent, because I’m beginning to reach my boiling point with him and his bullshit.  He’s not only causing problems within his own relationship with our kids, but he’s also the cause of a lot of family drama and almost every issue I have with my family has to do with him in SOME way. 
    I’m reminded of the letters my T in the past had told me to write to my abusers but never to send.  He certainly qualifies as one.
    Last week’s events have made me think so much of what I’d want to say to him but because I’m still, to a point, afraid of what he’ll do or say in retaliation (For example, would he further brainwash my kids? Turn them against me? Fight me for custody? Make my life difficult in any and every way imaginable because he has acquired enough control over me and groomed me whilst married to him?) and so I don’t say these things.  I’m quiet.  I agree with him even when I truly don’t.  Then when we get home, I’m pacing the floor hollering about what a jerk he is and trying to convince myself not to give a shit because I know it’s not worth pressing whatever issue it is - because I will never win.  
    So, I’ll just say it here.
    I’d love to say to him - 
    Knock it off, asshole!  I’m sick and tired of being a puppet, I’m not your wife anymore, I’m nothing to you other than the mother of your children.  You don’t treat ANY of your children’s mothers with the respect they deserve, not only for bearing your children but also for putting up with you and your fucking mind games for however long they did.  If anything, we should be nominated for sainthood because YOU are not an easy man to be with, yet we tried our best to love you, to please you.  Apparently we all failed at that, because pleasing you often means we have to sacrifice our own personal happiness because all you truly think about is your own damn self.  
    Contrary to what you believe, you’re NOT the stand-up guy you THINK others see you as, no one will admit it to you because you’ve made everyone so afraid of you and rather than allow you to belittle them and make them feel an inch tall, the safer route is just to go along with whatever you say.  But here’s the truth.  No one can stand you.  Everyone I’ve met has expressed a complaint about you that I’ve kept to myself out of respect for YOU.  I’ve defended you for the sake of keeping the peace and in return, you continue to treat me like shit.  You treat your kids like shit.  You treat your current wife like shit, and like I was, she’s stuck because you’ve also alienated her family.
    You, sir, are going to die a miserable fucking old man with no one (except your children maybe, and that’s only because they have unconditional love for their father) to miss your militant, domineering ass.  And when your kids finally give up on you and decide they’re sick of your shit, too, do NOT look to me for help because you’re on your fucking own, buddy.  Just like whenever I need help with one of them, I’m on my own and then you proceed to ADD to the fucking problem rather than offer up a solution as a co-parent should.  Yes, you provide, and yes, our children have clothes, food, anything they could ever want, but we need more than that.  We need compassion that you’re not capable of showing, we need warmth that you’re void of as well, and we need compromise, whereas with you there is absolutely fucking NONE.  I’m SICK of pretending to like you for the sake of our kids’ sanity, when in all honesty, I hate more things about you than I ever loved.  
    In fact, I don’t understand myself for having ever married your ass.  I’ll say it was temporary insanity when others ask me what the fuck I ever saw in you, but you know, when I ask myself the same question, I’m not even sure anymore.  I truly believe you came along at a vulnerable point in my life and it was a time I was VERY easily manipulated and you saw an opportunity and charmed me into leaving home, moving in with you, raising your children.  I THOUGHT I loved you because you, being the master of deception you are, convinced me that you would protect me, you would support me, you actually said you loved me quite a bit back then, and I responded in kind.  But, truthfully, I think I was only in love with the idea of the stability you promised we’d have but we never really reached that point.  We had money problems, we fought constantly, and of course, you won every single fucking argument because you would verbally batter me down to a pulp, as you continued to do even after our divorce.  Thank you for that, by the way.  Best fucking thing you could have ever given me aside from our perfect son and daughter.  We always had chaos, I did most of the caring for the kids with little to no thanks from you verbal or otherwise.  There was ONLY criticism because nothing I did ever measured up.  Or it wasn’t done the way you wanted it done.  Or if I were to argue with anything you said, I’d be in for a fight that lasted all week and it’d be a quarrel that I emotionally couldn’t and wouldn’t sustain, so rather than argue, I went along with every damn thing you said, even if I didn’t agree.  And like a fucking asshole, I still do it, because you’ve trained me well.  But I was truly MISERABLE, you asshole, and even if you did notice it, you did and said nothing about it.  You’re a horrible husband…you tormented your first wife, you were horrible to me, you are currently an ogre to your wife.  You're quick to call other people 'pieces of shit,' but lemme ask you, what the hell do you see when you look in the mirror???  It BAFFLES me that you don’t see what just about EVERYONE else does.  
    But, you know, you’ll find that out when you close your eyes for the last time, most likely alone.  I believe that in that moment before death, your life flashes before your eyes and I hope you finally understand the wrath you impose on the people closest to you.  And I hope to hell you regret it.  I hope you truly understand what people who have crossed paths with in life see when they see you.  And guess what, you piece of shit?  It’s going to be way too late to go back and make amends, to right all of your wrongs.  You’re already nearing the point of no return with your own KIDS, how much more of your crap do you think they’re going to take??  Your way is not always the best way, and you NEED to learn to let things be, everyone would be so much happier.  And hell, maybe you’ll fucking LIVE longer, too.  All of the stress you claim you have (and probably blame everyone else for) is mostly brought on by your own damn self.  So…wake the fuck up!
    To you guys, I say thanks again for hearing me rant.  I’m sure there’s more that I’d love to say, no…SCREAM in his face, but this will have to do for now, as my own little inner volcano is now empty.  I feel cleansed a little, maybe my former T was onto SOMETHING.  And believe me, she wasn't right about everything.  
    Going to try to turn in for now.  Tomorrow (or rather, today) is a new day.  Going to envision his face on my pillow and beat it up a little bit for good measure.
    - Capulet
  8. Capulet
    My deepest apologies to you all for being MIA; my being scarce were for reasons beyond my control. 
    As some of you know, I live in Eastern Pennsylvania, and we have met our match in Mother Nature.
    Last Thursday, which will be one week since chaos had began to ensue, I took the daughter for her flu shot.  You’d think spending three hours at the doctor’s office (waiting, waiting, and WAITING - this lady takes literally an hour on each patient!) would be a forewarning of the holy hell that was about to arrive, pure insanity by the name of Winter Storm Riley.
    After the doctor administered the flu shot + two other overdue immunizations, we asked her if there would be any side effects.  To this, the doctor replied, “She may run a fever.  But we’re likely to not have school tomorrow, anyway.”  
    We look out the window.  The freezing rain had begun.  
    Now, this is a doctor whose office doesn’t even have the proper in-office apparatus to run strep or flu tests, so any throat cultures or flu swabs have to be done at another location, so that DOUBLES the waiting time in most cases.  And she can’t even tell me what my kids have right then and there, I have to go to the lab, have the tests run, then go home and wait for them to call with results and a diagnosis.  In what world is this even right???? 
    On THAT, though, she was one hundred percent correct.  The cancellation call arrived at night.  The automated, monotonous message that my kids have grown to LOVE.
    “This is a call from the Blah, Blah, Blah, School District.  Schools will be closed tomorrow, March 2nd, 2018 due to inclement weather.”
    Both of them high-fived each other.  “AWESOME!”
    Yeah, those are my two scholars.  Sadly, they both inherited my hatred for school, although the son does well without trying while the daughter, more like I did, has to work a little bit harder to get the higher grade.
    Anyway, we all sleep in on Friday morning, with the exception of J, who went to work for 7am.  When she left, the snow had just been starting.  Snow started early in the morning and accumulated quickly, along with some nasty winds that blew the snow around, making it pretty hard to see past a few feet ahead of us while standing at the front door.  I managed to get ahold of the wasband via text and come to find out that his power had gone out around 11am.   
    We stayed inside the whole time; none of us were brave enough to go out and attempt to shovel; I say brave, my son will still say ‘stupid.’  Because, of course, to a lazy 17-year-old, to go out and shovel and then have your hard work erased by more fallen snow, was pointless.  When it was time for J to leave work, I coaxed him outside, though, to attempt to dig out a spot for her to pull into.  But the whole, ENTIRE time… 
    “Oh, man, Mom.”
    “Ma, look, it’s really bad.”
    “Look, Madre, the trees are swaying pretty hard…and I think the neighbor’s Sycamore just fell down.”
    “Mom, you know, we’re going to die out here.”
    I told him to cut out the dramatics, suck it up and shovel…he did.  But he did also attempt to complain several more times before realizing that they had no effect on me.  We managed to clear the “wall” plowed into the top of the driveway and we went back inside knowing we’d done the best we could.
    Let it be known that J leaves work at 3pm.  By 4:30, she still hadn’t arrived home.  She texted to say she couldn’t get through the main road that she takes to get home.  There are about three or four different ways to get home.  Each path she had attempted to take was riddled with downed trees and power lines, cars were pulled over on the side of the road because they were either stuck, or also trying to plan out alternate routes.  She said via text that she was going to get a bite to eat at Wendy’s which was open, and then she’d try a different way after she’d had something to eat.
    I sat in the ‘worry chair,’ the same recliner I sat in when I let my son take the car.  Yep, we all remember that chair! 
    Then, at about 5pm, our power went out, taking with it our heat and running water.  For those of you who don’t understand that last bit, our well pump is run on electricity, so when there’s a power outage, there’s absolutely no running water.  Toilet-flushing is not possible unless you're a survivalist and have about a dozen gallons stored somewhere in the house, reserved for such catastrophes.  And apparently, no internet, either.
    “Oh, my GOD!!!!  My internet isn’t working!”  The daughter is screeching now, likely because her bestie’s face is now frozen on her iPad’s screen.  “Mommmmmyyyy!  There’s no WIFI!”
    “Okay, we’re just going to have to wait it out, kiddo,” I’m still sitting in the worry chair.  Where the hell is my better half??  I could just envision her being stuck and getting nowhere, it’s not a pretty thought at all.
    “You see?” the son is looking out the window, “It doesn’t even look like we shoveled.”
    He was kinda right.  I couldn’t even see the path we’d shoveled for J.  And daylight was beginning to run out, and we were soon to be welcoming darkness for an unknown period of time.
    I lit some candles, using whatever little light was left in the house.  I also fired up the fireplace, as that’s operated on propane, in hopes of conserving the heat we had circulating around the upstairs portion of the house.
    The son stated he was bored out of his mind (because, really, when there’s no power, cable or internet, what is there to POSSIBLY do?) and retired to his room, stating that I should wake him up when the power comes back.  The daughter too, went to her room and said she was going to TRY to sleep.
    At about seven, J walks in, cold, pissed off and wet.  Apparently a 30-minute commute had taken her FOUR HOURS, and had she found herself unable to get home, she would have gone back to work.  Thankfully, though, she made it home before having to resort to returning to her place of employment.
    After wifey had changed into comfy dry clothes, we went to daughter’s room to get her, then we dug out board games and a camping lantern we had lurking in the garage.  We ate ice cream for dinner/food since that’s usually the first thing to go in a freezer with no power.  We ate chips.  Anything we could possibly eat, we ate.  Many laughs were shared, especially during a game of LIFE, where J was the big winner and daughter and I retired with about a hundred grand apiece.  We played another board game with the son who came upstairs around nine, in search of a snack.  Got to say, he wasn't happy to see that his nap didn't fast-forward enough time where there was no power.
    "We don't have power yet?"
    "Yes, darling, we're sitting here in the dark and cold because it's fun.  Should try it, sometime."
    We played another game called "Sliders," where we had to knock each other's pegs out of play, tally up points and be the first to reach a certain number.  Then, after a couple more hours, I turned off the fireplace, we all put on hoodies and I was in my bed before midnight!  J had work early, so she was snoring within minutes.
    Y'all know about my issue with lights - well, as my room was PITCH BLACK without a single light being on for me to cover up, I left the house phone uncovered, just in case I woke up in the middle of the night.  If, at any point, I were to open my eyes and there was a little red light on, then I'd know power had returned.  
    The little red light never appeared.  I could kick myself in the ass for thinking about that too much in place of sleeping.
    J left for work early, while it was still dark.  I got up out of bed as soon as I saw the first signs of daylight.  No power.  No running water.  House was CHILLY.
    The first thing I did was go outside and begin to shovel the mess Riley left us.  Both of my kids remained dead to the world.  I didn't mind, this time.  I needed a little ME time, I needed to think, I needed to busy myself.  I, too, was suffering internet withdrawals and missing being able to connect with others.  I was worrying about the food in my fridge, food that I knew I'd soon have to throw away because we were more than 12 hours without power and the fridge was no longer cold when opened.  After I'd been shoveling for about an hour, I woke them both up and told them that if they came out and helped, we could attempt to get out of the house and go in search of water jugs (for the toilets, which by now STUNK to high heaven), hot food and cell service.
    I think it was the 'cell service' that got them to move.  The son came outside and helped me shovel a path from my car to the end of the driveway.  In the process, I pulled a tree branch a little thicker than a baseball bat in diameter, off the roof of my car, close to the top of the back passenger door.  There is a small dent from where it landed; I suspect it flew off a nearby tree and my car was, unfortunately, in its path.  It's not major damage, so we heaved the branch into a snowbank and carried on.
    We went to town, and my son took a number of photos of the devastation.  Driving through my local town was terrifying.  Traffic lights were out in most of the areas without power.  Thankfully, the locals were as nervous as I and people were, for the most part, considerate and everyone was careful.  A lot of "go ahead" hand waves, lots of open windows, blinking headlights to warn of upcoming road obstructions, which there were TONS of.  To be on the safe side, we took the route J had used the night before to come home from work and no matter where we turned, there were downed trees, some rested atop the power lines, some lines completely down, some telephone poles only five to six feet off the ground, some debris completely blocking off a lane.  Total chaos.  It took me roughly an hour to get to a part of town that normally takes fifteen to twenty minutes to get to, but boy, did we get a look at all of Riley's aftermath in the process.  I am going to ask my son to send me some of the pictures he took with his phone; as I was behind the wheel and slowed down in many areas, he took the opportunity to photograph some of the mess.
    We found a store selling water (and they were rapidly running out, too!) and I bought ten gallon jugs.  Then, we went to Wendy's, which was packed.  Lots of folks were without power and water, so this was the eatery of choice, being easily accessible and convenient.  Took us another hour to order and eat our food.  Then, we were back in the car, charging all our phones and tablets.
    "Shall we go home and see if the power is back?"
    "Sure, Mom."
    Sadly, our power was not back.  House was getting colder and colder by the hour.  My five cats were VERY confused.  The poor things were huddled together, at least the ones who could stand each other.  
    Rather than give a play-by-play of the last five days, I'll just mention the highlights, or this nightmare will NEVER end. 
    The wasband drove an hour and a half away and bought a generator from New Jersey.  By the time evening rolled around, my two kids were relocated to his house (and it was also his time with them so I wasn't gypped any of my time) where he now had limited power and running water.  Of course, the wasband was also kind enough to invite J and I to go stay over there until OUR power came back, but we politely declined.  Many reasons, but the two main ones were simply there is NOTHING short of chaos every time we're there, and we didn't want to leave our pets alone in a cold house without any heat source overnight.  
    By the way, yes, we do need a generator, and as I told my godchild (wasband's youngest) the other day, it's going to be what I ask Santa Claus for, come next Christmas.  That, and a snowblower.  I just don't have the funds to invest in one right now.  
    J and I relocated all of our food onto the back porch.  The milk, eggs, mayo, Ranch dressing, bags of cheese, other containers with leftovers and other perishable foods, all plopped into the snow.  I filled a cooler with snow and threw other stuff in there.  Fortunately, my freezer contents were still hard as a rock, so I wasn't worrying about those, yet.  But, in the meantime, some things were salvaged.  I was also able to fire up the propane grill and make us some meals out of whatever had defrosted.  We had to eat a lot of stuff cold, but it was better than letting anything go to waste.
    J insisted we move our queen sized mattress into the living room so that we could sleep in front of the fireplace, which is what we did until last night.  You can imagine what a NIGHTMARE this was for me; the living room is VERY sunny in the morning.  Oh, and trying to sleep in a room shared with five nocturnal feline companions who will use your ass as a springboard isn't easy, either.  Needless to say, the first morning, I woke up as soon as the sun came up.  I WAS still tired so I managed to fall asleep for several minutes at a time before I got up and got ready to go back into town, because that was going to be the only way I could connect with anybody.  Still no power, no running water, no service.  J and I planned at least three trips to wasband's house to borrow a shower.  
    We ate a WHOLE lot of pizza.  We ALMOST went to dinner at an actual sit-down place but the local restaurants were ALL packed - power outages for this long has left MANY people defeated and hungry.  Rather than wait hours for a table at a nicer, popular restaurant, we settled for local pizzerias.
    Both of our diets have gone out the window, at least for now.  
    We had bowling on Monday night.  A lot of the people we bowl with live in areas nearby.  Areas without power and running water.  The alley certainly smelled like everyone's ass.  
    Power went out on Friday, 3/2 at 5pm.  It was finally restored on Tuesday night, 3/6 at 8:30pm.
    FOUR days of this crap!
    But that's not even the end of it.  We were actually at wasband's house, (eating more pizza, taking another shower) when the neighbor texted me those three BEAUTIFUL words:
    "The power's on!"
    J and I said our thank-yous to the wasband and his wife, and we flew home.  Turned on all the faucets.  "Water!  We have water!!!"  The cats are even more confused now, because J and I are running around like headless chickens.  We checked all the lights.  "YES!  They work!"  
    "You go flush the toilets upstairs, I'll get the one downstairs!"  I swear to Merlin, the house was starting to STINK because of those toilets!
    We ran into our first problem when we noticed the oil burner wasn't running and the house was beginning to .  There's a button on it that you press to get the thing going again, but for some reason, it wouldn't start.  It actually did once, but then turned off and refused to turn back on, which means - no heat or hot water.  We did have water, just would be ice-cold until we could get the boiler running.
    "Well, it looks like we're sleeping in the living room, again," says J...one more night of relying on propane, but we at least had working electricity.  Which is good because yesterday (Wednesday) we were planning to meet Winter Storm Quinn (the next one!) and there were some people, including the wasband, who still had no power.  I had been hoping and wishing all day long that ours would be back because by now, we're DEFINITELY low on propane!  He does have the generator and they are warm and comfortable for now.  I was just glad that my fridge was running now, and before we had another foot of snow dumped on us, we transferred the food from the porch back into the fridge, praying that we didn't lose power again.
    Anyway, we ran the fireplace one more night.  While the power was on, it was still SO cold in the house, particularly the lower level where there had been absolutely no heat or activity in five days.
    Yesterday morning, we went around the corner to the fire station, which we discovered was an ideal and close-by location to get cell service, and we made phone calls during the 'calm before the storm.'  Managed to get the oil burner guy over and there is good and bad news here - the good news is, he managed to get the boiler going.  The bad news - we need a new one, and SOON.  The way he described it to us was - the exhaust motor was not present and the exhaust wasn't venting properly, the unit was old, for him to fix it this time was like putting a band-aid over a stab wound - we didn't know how long this 'fix' was going to last.  And, so...we consulted with our bank accounts and we have an appointment to have a new boiler put in on Friday morning.  Even badder news - it's going to cost us almost SIX grand to replace the whole system, because the previous owner of this house put the boiler through a BEATING.  He's also the asshole who probably took the exhaust motor with him when he moved, along with the doors and floors.  I mean, WHO does that?!  I don't even need to ask if people are truly that indecent, because I know they certainly can be.
    Yesterday, we got about six to eight inches more of snow.  Power stayed on, sans one 'hiccup' where lights were out for a couple of seconds and then came back on.  Additionally, I lost internet and cable a couple times.  Figured I would update this while it was back, not knowing if I'll experience another outage in the next few hours or days to come.  I don't want to say I'm back when things are still quite unstable but I can safely say I'm 'semi' back.  I'm here when I can be, I've been conserving energy whenever I can, although I don't think that stands a chance against a downed tree.  Thankfully winds aren't as strong today, so maybe this Pennsylvania town can begin to recuperate.
    I'm hoping we can, too, I think we'll feel better once the oil burner is installed on Friday morning.
    So, that's the long-overdue update for now.
    I'll be back when I can with another!
    Love to all.
    - Capulet
  9. Capulet
    I spent most of yesterday pouting.
    See, on Tuesday, I spent most of the day out...went to visit my brand-new niece, along with my slightly older baby niece and my nephew for a little while when he got home from school.  Of course, Oompa was there as well as my brother-in-law, as the new Daddy is enjoying some paternity leave while they are adjusting to being a family of four.  Anyway, we're currently a dieting family - Oompa of course, is dieting in order to talk herself out of having bariatric surgery, my youngest sister (#2) had her baby four months ago and is now on the bandwagon trying to shed the baby weight, then there's my brother-in-law who is very involved with the Spartan Races and with getting fit, he's lost over 40 pounds in the last year and a half.  My sister who just gave birth (#1) is still breast-feeding so she isn't counting calories just yet, but my brother-in-law has been preparing all of their meals over there and he only cooks healthy foods.
    We had a Weight Watcher friendly lunch...some of my bird-ball soup (chicken meatballs and vegs) and #2 brought some chicken patties that were pretty good, Oompa brought the Sandwich Thins.  We ate lunch, then we went on a 1.5 mile (round trip) walk to Dunkin' Donuts and got some low-point beverages. (I'll mention here that having an iced coffee with Almond Milk in place of the heavy cream is just NOT as pleasing...couldn't finish mine, didn't taste 'right.')
    So, all in all, it was a nice day.  Then, on the way back, J and I had plans to find a pizza place and have dinner there, being that pizza is a food we can't really do a whole lot of damage to our diets with. J, by the way, has lost over ten pounds as well!  So, we find a pizza joint about halfway home, go in, and order a pie.  It was about 7:30 when we finished and continued on our way home.  Pretty late, considering when we're dieting, we try not to eat anything heavy after 7-ish, especially the night before a weigh-in.
    Yesterday morning, I got on the scale.  I screamed when it said I was UP .2 rather than having lost anything.  Since last week.
    In hindsight, I don't recommend kicking the scale across the floor, especially when it's made of heavy-duty glass.  ESPECIALLY when you're barefoot.  Yes, that's what I did.  And there might have been a few obscenities thrown in there, too.  Okay, fine....MORE than a few.  But, oh, man, I was PISSED.
    "Don't worry about that," Oompa was telling me through texts, "It's probably because you ate late in the evening.  The check is in the mail."
    (Yes, she says that ALL the time.  Ever since it was said to her by her Weight Watchers leader, it's been gospel to her.)
    "Whatever," I told her, "I'm frustrated and I'm bored."  (The 'bored' part stems from not having too much of a variety, but I'm working on that, currently.)
    So, yep.  I was in a shitty mood for the entirety of yesterday.  I was snappy, I was cranky, there were a lot of clanging noises coming from the kitchen of Capulet last night.  J avoided me, the kids avoided me.  The kids aren't usually around, though, they're at the ages where they are in their rooms 95% of the time when they're not eating or using the bathroom.
    But I also did one other thing that I don't really recommend as something that should be done more than once a week, but the idea came to me whilst I was feverishly pondering what happened, what did I do wrong this week?  What happened?  It dawned on me that I'd not had a decent bowel movement in DAYS.  At the risk of sounding gross and anything less than human, I decided that was the problem, along with having eaten late the night before.  So, I found a laxative in the medicine cabinet and took two.  This was in the afternoon sometime, and by the time we'd finished dinner, my stomach was rumbling.  Many visits to the bathroom ensued, and I'd have to say my suspicions of the need of a good colon-cleanse were confirmed.
    I'll not say anything more about that, like I said - it's gross, no one comes here to read about what comes out of my ass.
    So, this morning - took my shower, washed my hair, washed away all the nasty thoughts I'd had the night before.  Did my usual thinking in the shower, too...what's for lunch...what's for dinner...how can I avoid having the same damn things I'm used to eating?  How can I get enthused about this whole journey again, given yesterday's setback?  Oh, and as of this morning, the rumbles are no longer there, meaning, I'm guessing, I'm all clear.  You're not supposed to do this, but I needed to see if this was indeed the problem, so I went to the other end of the bathroom where I'd kicked the scale the day before, and snarled at it.  "Allright.  Let's try this again."  Weighing myself 2x, 2 days in a row, not something we're usually told to do but I needed to know.
    I step on and see that I'm now two and a half pounds less than I was the morning before.  
    The scale has been apologized to, but as karma has it, my foot has a little black and blue from where I kicked it, so I'll consider us even.
    I'm going to work on a little something else for you guys to read later, as I'm going to be true to my word and talk about things other than this, LOL.  But I wanted to share promised weekly progress.
    This week, the check was just late.  
    And that's what I texted Oompa, too.  She thought I meant the child support check.  Kind of ruined the joke, I have to say.  ;)
    Til later!
    - Capulet
  10. Capulet
    Hello my friends...hoping each of you are having a lovely day!
    I've had a draining couple of days, so please, please (with fat free whipped cream on top) forgive me for not updating this sooner.  Fear not, though - I've spent some time thinking up actual blog-worthy topics non-related to my kids (although they may be mentioned from time to time) or my current weight-loss journey.  
    All I'll say about the latter, though, is last week, I only dropped.  One. Stinking. Pound.  Perhaps that can be attributed to my binge on chicken wings the other night, or it could very well be due to not drinking as much water as I did the week before.  I did vent to Oompa and she assured me that 'the check is in the mail.'  For once, I'm going to trust her and listen to her - not because she IS right a small percentage of the time, but because I'm down 12.6 pounds in three weeks - this isn't a bad thing.  It's slow and frustrating when the numbers aren't rolling back as quickly but the weight is STILL coming off.  And I have to remember, I ate my chicken wings and had pizza two days in a row last week and STILL lost that one stinking pound.  
    Okay, enough about that.  That weigh-in update is only there because of my once-a-week promise - no one wants to hear about these things in every blog post.  
    Now, moving onto other possible topics that I want to share my thoughts on.
    I've been seeing a lot of things posted recently, a lot of things that I can definitely relate to and as part of my own healing process, feel the occasional need to discuss.  I'll call it, 'maintenance.'  I define maintenance as simply touching up on these things before it builds up into something more severe, something that eventually I'll slap myself in the back of the head for not having dealt with sooner.
    Note, these are not things that I am currently struggling with - I honestly can't say I've been struggling with anything abuse or sexual assault related in years.  However, once in a great while, things tap me on the shoulder and remind me they're still there - but usually, I'll respond with, 'yes, I know you're still here.  I've got too much going on with my life right now, and I'm not going to give you any thought right now.'  And it goes away, for a little while.  It never disappears completely, and that's actually okay with me.  I don't think there is such a thing as a perfect existence; we've all got our demons.  Some of us are just better at completely ignoring these demons in order to function while others have their daily battles.  I like to think I'm somewhere in between - and being  'in-betweener,' isn't something that I consider to be a weakness at all - it just reminds me of the fact that we're all just trying to get through life, we all have our methods, we all have our ways of coping.  But it also reminds me - I've got shit that pops up from time to time and there's never, ever going to be a time when maintenance is not needed.
    I'm going to also say that happened to me has made me stronger.  It's taught me more about myself, about LIFE than any schooling ever did.  Some things I cannot remember nor make sense of, but I'm able to, at this point, understand why I'm feeling a certain way, even in some cases, recognize the reasons for my own reactions.  
    So...I'm going to keep working on lists of things to discuss in depth - shout out to those of you who have posted about these things recently - it's possible you inspired me.   For now though, here are a few things for you to look forward to in future upcoming blogs.
    - I'm going to talk about (sexuality) labels and why I don't feel that they apply to me, or to anyone else.  However, know this - if someone else is accepting of their label, I am one hundred percent supportive of that, because my thoughts on it are not going to match everyone else's.  I'm mostly sharing my own perspective on this.  I've been asked what I consider myself.  Am I gay, straight, bisexual?  The short answer to this is - none of the above.  The long answer will be revealed later.  
    - I'm going to compose a letter to three of the main abusers in my life, possibly four.  And, I'd like to warn everyone - I'm not going to be very nice.  So when you see that particular blog entry, please do proceed with caution and know that it WILL likely be triggering.  Because things like that, well...there's no sugarcoating.  It's pure unfiltered anger, and I'm going to allow myself to be angry.  I'm going to put it all right here where it belongs, and direct it toward those who deserve it.  My thinking is - I've held it in for far too long and it's an important piece of maintenance that SHOULD be done far more often than I've done it.
    - I'm going to talk about the old me vs. the me I am today.  I'm going to have a little trouble with this one since I have suspicions of CSA having occurred when I was a child; things I cannot remember too clearly now and only have fragmented memories to support these suspicions.  These suspicions didn't start until I was an adult, so my time-line is now a huge question mark.  I was originally dealing with the before and after the SA that occurred in 1996, now I'm not sure if the 'after' began much sooner than that.  Was I ever normal?  (Don't answer that, I know it's wide open, but...ya know...)
    I welcome your thoughts, too - if there's something you'd like to hear my take on, please, please don't hold back and hit the comment link.   You'd be giving my already-tired brain a little bit of a break from thinking. 

    - Capulet
  11. Capulet
    Not every post has to be about food or kids.  Okay, not MY kids, anyway.  
    So...ya remember my sister?  The one married to a jerk?  In previous blog entries, we referred to her as #1.  
    Well, that sister's water broke last night at around 8pm.  I was at Monday night bowling and heard from Oompa that she was meeting my sister and brother-in-law at the hospital.
    I stayed up all night long - I did trudge over to the bed around three-thirty this morning, but the anticipation of my niece's impending arrival effectively kept me from the deep sleep that renders me functional for the remainder of the day, so please forgive any run-on sentences or other grammatical errors.  I'm not all here today and I'm a bit zombie-ish, but still wanted to share with everyone some very wonderful news.
    My niece arrived this morning at 6:44am after 10 hours of waiting and countless texts between Oompa and I.  Oompa was there before and during the birth and for the cutting of the cord.  My brother-in-law doesn't do well in hospital rooms, so my mother was, for the second time, able to witness the birth of her fifth grandchild.  
    Both my sister and the baby are doing just fine.  Brother-in-law also doing fine.  
    I took a nap as soon as the first picture came through.  She's adorable.  Full head of hair.  Big, round, alert eyes.  Teeny-tiny little fingers.  Swaddled in the new-baby blanket that every single hospital in the United States has a patent on.  And the little pink hat they put on her head to keep her warm. Those widdle, teensy toes, too!  
    My uterus is tingling, guys.  Oh, my God.
    Not too much, though.  It'll pass.  I just SO miss when mine were that small.  The thought of nibbling on their toes NOW, at their ages, truly sickens me and simply wouldn't be right.  LOL.
    I'll just enjoy being an Aunt.   If we're counting my Godchild, we'll say I've now got three beautiful nieces and my one nephew.  All are happy, in good health and I couldn't ask for more.  
    I am very, very blessed, indeed.
    - Capulet
  12. Capulet
    I have been eating chicken.  A WHOLE lot of chicken.  Every. Single. Day.  Oh, and eggs.  Lots of eggs.  You'd think the eggs were being laid by the chickens I'm eating.  A typical morning for me is something like this:  Get up.  Go through the pantry.  End up skipping breakfast. (I know, it's not recommended but I do it because what else is there to eat but eggs!?)  Oh, and do you know how many points is in a wee cup of cereal and also for the milk you'll put into the bowl???  I don't think I have enough points in a day to waste them before noon!
    Sometimes I'll take a nap in the morning so that I don't have to actually put anything into my stomach until lunch time.  By then, I'm noticeably 'hangry.'  
    After going through the pantry for the second time on any given day around noon (because, really, you never know, the Food Fairy SOMETIMES puts something tempting in there while I'm napping) it's usually an egg salad sandwich that I end up making myself and eating.  
    I take teeny-tiny bites out of that sandwich; even though by now I'm hungry enough to be done with that meal in sixty seconds flat.  I savor every bite - because I'm telling myself that even though I'm still going to be hungry after my lunch, I have enough 'points' left to have a nice dinner that will satisfy. I can have some rice, I can have pasta, of course, there's almost ALWAYS something to do with chicken for dinner.
    So, this is the problem I'm running into, now.  
    Chicken, particularly white meat, is considered a "free" food.  I can stuff my face with as much lean chicken as I want, but of course, have to allow for the points used in order to prepare it.  (For example, if you sauté it in oil, you have to count the point for the oil, if you marinate it in some sort of sauce, you count the sauce's points.  But the eggs and the chicken, providing it's white meat, boneless and skinless, are both free proteins!)
    What the hell do I do when I get tired of chicken...and eggs!?  I'm not thinking eating this many eggs is in any way good for my cholesterol!  But I'm quickly approaching the point where I want to swear off both of these for a while.  There's only so many things you can do with eggs (including teaching myself to effectively make a frittata) and the chicken is rapidly becoming something I'm liking less and less.
    I want something different, SO badly.  I've told myself that I'll allow myself a red meat one night a week, as a treat.  I have a frozen steak in the freezer for sometime this week.  I'm just afraid of falling off that damn wagon that I've spent the last month trying to stay atop.  It was recently the Chinese New Year - I would have LOVED to ring in the year of the Dog with some fine Asian cuisine, but the amount of MSG used in their (SO SO tasty) dishes is not going to agree with me when the time comes to step onto (and likely cuss out) the scale on Wednesday.
    Yeah.  I'm not really expecting an answer to this little outburst; just being able to sit here and vent is sometimes helpful.  Not just about the things I can't change, because there are plenty of those!   But about these little things that I know I CAN change with a little on-screen thinking aloud.  I mean, I'm sitting here saying, "Jesus, Capulet, no one told you to go on a diet, no one wants to hear you talk about food woes!"  But at the same time, I'm asking myself...what AM I going to do about it?  If it's not food I have to complain about, it's something else.  Every single one of us has something to deal with.  Something that pisses them off on a daily basis.  Something that makes them question, something that makes them angry.  Talking about things, even if I'm not doing it verbally, helps me to put into perspective what I'm feeling and I thank you all for listening, if you've gotten this far.      THAT helps. 
    So, anyway....a little while ago, I just got back inside from hangry-shoveling...we had about two inches of snow last night.  The daughter and son have gone back to their father's house and J is not home.  So the big-ass driveway we have got a walloping with the shovel and I have to properly thank the sun for shining today, it made the job a whole lot easier.  So...at least I got some exercise in the process.  My back will probably be screaming at me in the morning, regardless.
    And, while I was getting my shoveling done, I made myself a little proposition for tonight's dinner.
    Tonight, I'm making chicken (what a surprise!!!!) but am making BBQ chicken wings.  This is not a 'free' meal as the wings have skin and bones but it's a small treat for yours truly considering the 'same ol,' is getting extremely tiresome.  My better half is on a double shift.  And so, that's my plan and my reward to myself.  Chicken wings and maybe a side salad.  Plus, they'll be baked in the oven and not fried so they won't kill the diet.
    As a parting note, if anyone would like to come and prepare unique meals for me and listen to me whine and complain, I'll repay the kindness with hugs and a lifetime's worth of gratitude.  Must know how to be creative with chicken and must be skillful at omelette-making. I also have a spare bedroom when Oompa's not here.   A full collection of Blu-rays.  What I don't have though, is junk food.  You'll have to bring your own.
    Furthermore, feel free to send me any chicken breast recipes - even if there's a lot of "no no" foods (butter, oils, etc) used, I can perhaps modify them some with their diet-friendly counterparts.  
    I'm having my water now (that's yet another thing - need to come up with more interesting things to drink.  I haven't had more than one or two soda cans in the last week and the caffeine headaches are becoming more frequent!) and relaxing before it's time to prep the wings.  
    Hope everyone's Sunday is going well.  Love to all of you beautiful people!  And thank you.  It means a great deal to know that y'all are out there.
    - Capulet 
  13. Capulet
    Today's Wednesday...weigh-in day!  Which means, update day!!!!!!  Yay, aren't we all excited?  
    (Although I'll try and blog more often about stuff other than my diet woes or kids.)
    I had a few choice words for the scale this morning, but it will live to see another week.  See, I lost 1.6, which isn't bad considering we (J and I) had our Valentine's Day date on Monday night.  We went to the local Red Lobster - and everything I ordered/ate was counted in my point total.  Lemme tell ya, it took me about twenty minutes to eat a single Cheddar Bay Biscuit because those fucking things are six points each.  Instead of finishing the biscuit in one bite, I'm using a fork to break off teeny-tiny little pieces of it...praaaaise the man or woman who invented those things.  Why the hell do they have to be SO damn good, so tasty, so worth it..???  Oh, and my fish was grilled, I omitted the butter from the lobster tail and instead dipped the lobster meat into the scampi sauce.  I did my calculating as best as I could. I definitely went over my daily allotted points, but still, I'm allowed to do that every once in a while.
    I have to also remember that I'm not going to lose 10 pounds a week.  That's just not realistic, as much as I wish it was.  Weight loss will slow down.  I just hoped it would slow down a little bit later.  It's just further proof that the majority of that 10 pounds was water weight.
    We also didn't have any snow this week, so there was no busting my ass shoveling the driveway = no cardio.
    "Fine, you can stay this week," I said to the evil scale.  "But if I don't lose at least two full pounds next week, out the windah you go!"
    I slept like ass last night.
    No idea why.  I'm not triggered, I'm not dealing with any added stress.  It's just the day-to-day BS that by now has become the norm.
    I'm also not even tired.  When you're not tired, you don't sleep, right?  My kids have been trying to tell me that for years.  And for years, I didn't give a rat's ass; if I was tired, they went to sleep regardless of whether or not I went to bed.  Now, though, the Son has become a night owl like me; the Daughter is still young enough to force into her bed at a decent hour. 
    For a while, I've gotten myself used to a 'swig' before bed; we pick up a bottle of the generic NyQuil whenever we hit up the neighborhood Wal-Mart.  I'm not as bad as J is, though - she swigs EVERY NIGHT.  I swig on the nights following a night like last night.  I swig when I absolutely need to sleep, or else I become that cranky old lady nobody wants to be around.  I'm moody, I'm hangry (anyone else use that word?) and I'm overall annoyed.  So, I do see a swig in my near future although I've been trying to avoid using "help" to fall asleep.  Because today, I AM tired! 
    Last weekend at some point, I had a dream that I have from time to time, for as long as I can remember.  It's one of my reoccurring ones.  It's not really a nightmare, it's just annoying.  I keep telling myself it means something, but honestly, there are too many question marks surrounding this one.  I may have posted about this, years ago, but nothing's changed.  I'm still having this ridiculous dream...seriously, I'd rather be dreaming of much more pleasant things, like the food I'm never going to be able to enjoy again without having some guilt.
    In it, I'm confronted by someone (I can't see a face, nor can I identify who this is, in any other way.)  I have a feeling, though, that it is a man.  The same way when we dream, we know things, we're afforded a depth of understanding that we can't otherwise explain.  Anyway, this is a man and he's in some way, threatening me.  Even if he is not touching me in my dream, I feel as if I'm in danger and I need to defend myself.  So I clench my fists.
    I want to hit him.  I have the opportunity to hit him.  And so, I attempt to strike him, as hard as I can, because I want to hurt him just enough.
    But for some reason, I cannot.  It's almost as if an invisible force prevents me from taking a swing.  Instead, it is a slo-mo, ineffective punch that does absolutely nothing to my enemy.  Have you ever punched straight forward, just an air punch that doesn't necessarily land anywhere?  Now, try doing the same thing underwater.  That's exactly how it feels.  Held back, restrained. Limited.  
    I'm seeing the image of the cartoon hammer that just goes limp in the hand; ha ha, you're not hurting anyone with THAT!  
    In some instances, I try and flee.  But that feels as if I'm underwater too.  My legs don't move quickly enough and I'm weak, weak, weak.  So, no success with running, either.
    And then I wake up, feeling as if I've lost.  I've been defeated.  Hundreds of times, every single time I have this dream, whether there's running involved or it stops at my attempts to attack the person I feel is threatening me.
    This make any sense to anyone?  Anyone else ever have a dream like this?
    About to make my lunch now.  I'm having hangry tendencies.
    Until later.
    - Capulet
  14. Capulet
    Here's the update I promised you all in Monday's post-Super Bowl blog entry. 
    It was either going to be a rant or a rave.  See, I've been down this road multiple times.  The rant will likely come in a future entry, when I've done everything right and the numbers aren't going down anymore.  That'll likely happen when I've plateaued and it's time to incorporate more physical activity into my daily routine.  For today, we've been hit with Winter Storm Liam, so I see some shoveling in my very near future.  The winter won't last forever, though.  If it would WARM up soon, we'll be able to go for walks by the lake we live near - something.  I've got a basketball hoop set up in the driveway for my daughter - next year, she'll be joining her school's basketball team.  While she can sink a basket more often than I can, she needs some work on her dribbling and her defense.  So, I'll probably lose the last few stubborn pounds by teaching her some fancy footwork.  But in order to be able to MOVE enough to do so, I need to drop some weight.
    A second aside for a small inside family joke...when my daughter was asked about her ability in sports in general, she shrugged and said, "I have two lesbians at home to help me."  
    Now, for the rave...
    Ok, so this morning, wearing only my birthday suit and socks to keep my feet from getting cold, I stepped onto the evil scale that had been banished into the bathroom closet since we moved into our house six months ago.  Didn't want to see it, didn't want it to sit there and silently mock me every time I walked past it. Because it did.  I'd see the scale, and immediately flash back to the juicy steak dinner I had the night before.  Doused in gravy, too.  The scale, even though an inanimate, non-living object, knows it too.  I'll bet it just wants me to step onto it so that it can yell at me.  I wasn't giving it that satisfaction, so into the closet it went!  Until last week, I decided to give weight loss another try. 
    A few seconds after I stepped on, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I am now TEN POUNDS LESS than when I weighed myself last Wednesday.  Ten pounds, EXACTLY!  In ONE week.  
    There was no eating out, no fried foods.  I did binge on chips and (oven baked, homemade) wings on Super Bowl Sunday, but I had my reserve points to fall back on.
    Side note:  WW has a point-system.  Point values are attributed to foods, so if you have an 'oops' moment and go over the number you're allowed per day, there are some 'grace' points they give you for the week. 
    I calculated and logged everything I put in my mouth with my trusty app.  I drank at least two 64-oz bottles of water for the last few days.  Overall, I do feel better.  I'm bored stupid with my food choices, though, I do have to admit.  I'll gladly talk about these things in depth with anyone if they want to discuss privately.   
    "You're shittin' me, right?" I'm talking to the scale, that no longer looks like something out of Fangoria.   It almost looks pleasant.  Who the hell calls a scale 'pleasant?'
    I step off.  Back on.  Same number.  More talking to myself.
    Guys...I CAN do this!
    "You and me are going to be friends, now," I say to the scale as for the first time in forever, I didn't feel the need to chuck it out the window.  Then I'm talking in the high pitched voice that I usually reserve for my orange tabby who usually accompanies me as I move from room-to-room.  "I will say hello to you whenever I use the bathroom.  I will visit you once a week.  If you keep the numbers going down, I may even replace your batteries more often than never!  Keep up the good work!"
    The scale survives another week. 
    And I am back on the bandwagon!  
    - Capulet
  15. Capulet
    Wow.  I haven't been paying much attention to my blog lately.  My sincerest apologies.  But in my defense, sometimes having nothing to say is a good thing, right?
    Lots happening here.  Nothing major but still, small things worth mentioning for those who delight in reading about my day-to-day insanity.
    Will start off with a small story.
    I finally (and this wasn't easy) allowed my son to take my car to his father's house - it's a very short drive down the road from my house to the Wasband's.  My stepson (Wasband's firstborn son) wanted to spend the night here and the Wasband suggested sending our newly licensed 17-year-old over to pick up his brother.  
    Alone.  Without me.
    I knew the Son would be more than willing to do this.  But damn it...I wasn't ready!
    So the Mom-worry-machine starts up.  "It takes seven minutes to get there.  Maybe five minutes to put your brother in the car.  Then another seven minutes to come back.  You shouldn't be gone more than 30 minutes.  Am I right?  So, you're going to go, grab your brother and you're coming straight home.  You're NOT going into town to get Taco Bell!  I'm going to be standing in the window, waiting.  If you crash, you're going to have to call J or someone else because I won't have a car to come and save you!  You better be careful of all the ditches!"
    (In hindsight, I guess this DOES put me in the paranoid mothers' department and I can see how ridiculous I sounded...so, feel free to laugh at me.  I know my son did.)
    So, just before he left, he gave me a hug.  "Don't worry, Mom, this won't be the last time you ever hug me."  
    Into the front window I perched myself.  I watched as he got into the car, rolled down the window and waved.  He knew I was standing there.  Then he drove off.
    I sat in the recliner next to the window.  I played a few games of Candy Crush.  I counted the number of cars to drive by.  We live in a rural area so, not many.  I checked the clock.  Repeatedly.  I checked my phone.  Repeatedly.  I texted my J that I'd allowed my son to take the car and I was in a panic.  Scared shitless.  And I'll tell you all the same thing I tell him.  It's not HIS driving I am afraid of; it's other people's driving.  We hail from New York City, we've seen the worst of the worst.  I learned to drive there when I was 16 and have to say, if you can drive in the city, you can drive anywhere.  Rural Pennsylvania should be a walk in the park, right?  You'd think so.  But the roads here are hilly, winding and there are very deep ditches along the sides of the roads.  My son is a new driver and gets nervous when a car comes from the opposite direction, he tends to move himself over to allow them (too much) room to pass and he tends to be dangerously close to the edge of the road.  I sincerely fear the "Ma, I'm in a ditch." phone call or text.
    J tried to quell my anxieties.  "Ya gotta let him go, you have to have faith in him, you have to give him the chance to get some experience."
    I'm still checking the clock.  WHY ISN'T HE BACK YET?!  IT'S BEEN OVER THIRTY MINUTES!!
    I think I counted a few dozen pine needles on the windowsill before my car FINALLY drives up.  He's home!!!!!  And yes, he took longer than 30 minutes, but at this point, I didn't care anymore.  He was home, my car looked as if it were still in one piece, and there he was, waving at me because he could clearly see me in the window.  I waved back.  Watched him park the car and when he came in with his brother, he confessed that the reason for his lateness was that the Wasband had been home and he'd spent a few minutes with him before heading back.
    "Mom, did you REALLY sit here and watch the window the whole time I was gone?"
    "Nah, I did laundry, did the dishes, I mopped the floors... "
    He nodded, pretending he believed me, 'uh-huh'd' me and they both went to his room to play video games.  
    So that's the little story.  Granted it was a kid story, but it was also about me.  Moving along onto other things
    So, guys...I joined Weight Watchers.  Again.  I was on it years ago, and lost over fifty pounds.  I made drastic changes in my lifestyle, but it was a slow process.  I don't want to say I fell off the bandwagon, because usually, when that happens, it's not too hard to get back on it.  No, I took a running leap.  Not sure what happened to make me altogether quit, but I think I put on a couple pounds, then a couple more, then it spiraled out of control from there.  Then just as easily as I'd lost it, I gained it back, and then some more on top of that.  I am now the heaviest I've ever been in my adult life and I don't like it.  I'm too easily short of breath, I'm ridiculously out of shape.
    So, the gal we all affectionately know as 'Oompa' was here this past week and stayed for a few days.  Now, my mother's been on Weight Watchers for as long as I can remember.  She's a plump little thing, she's about 4'10.  (Now you see where the Oompa Loompa reference originates!)  When you're that short and you like to eat (being Italian doesn't help) then there's a problem because where does it all go?  We don't have a whole lot of body, so the extra weight tacks onto our thighs, our ass, our boobs.  I have the same problem, although I've got her beat by about three or four inches.  Anyway, I've watched my mother fail at Weight Watchers year after year.  She's at the point where she's considering bariatric surgery because her desire to be thin is so great now that she's approaching 65 years old and she's recently discovered she's pre-diabetic.  My mother weighs a little bit less than I do, I'll have you know that much without revealing my own starting number.  So when she came here, she brought her own foods because she knows the pantry at my house is certainly NOT Weight Watchers friendly.  She brought her fat-free salad dressings, cheeses, all her WW recipe books and even her fitness DVD! (you know, the ones where the people look TOO enthusiastic about making an exercise video....anyone else see a problem with exercise videos featuring skinny, smiling, in-shape people????)  She showed me the program, I'm seeing a lot of foods are not counted toward your daily point total and for the first time in a while, I'm seeing a program that if I stick to it, I can probably have success with it.
    Anyway, long story short, barring the exercise video (I'm not ready to jump on THAT bandwagon, yet) I decided to try the Freestyle program again.  I truly want to be healthier so that my son can continue to give me mini-heart attacks with his driving and I'll still be around for my daughter's (she'll be 12) many upcoming milestones.  Diabetes is certainly in my mother's bloodline.  It's also in the Wasband's, and HE is diabetic, which is not good news for my children...they're two times as likely to end up with diabetes.  I am hoping that by eliminating the amount of junk we have in the house, they'll be forced to make better choices as well.  So far, so good.  I'll post on Wednesday, when it's been an official week with the amount of weight (if any) I've lost. 
    While Oompa was here, my sister called in hysterics.  I'll never forget it, we were gathered around the kitchen table.  Oompa and myself and my stepfather.  The phone rings and my mother answers.  
    *slight trigger warning for suicide* 
    We come to find out that her best friend took his own life the day before and she'd just found out from another of their mutual friends.  
    I remember this boy fondly.  He was always smiling, always a sweet, loving boy to have around.  He was openly gay and we knew it from back when they were in middle school.  He was ALWAYS around the girls.   My sister, along with three other girls and this boy were thick as thieves, they were tight, tight, tight.  Every year, they got together for Christmas, they were at each other's weddings. (he never did marry, just my sister and one of the other ladies)  Anyway, he and one of the other girls ended up moving to California (not together) after high school and they STILL remained close.  They were together for the last time last Christmas.  My sister recalls he was trying to keep it all together but she and the others could still tell he was struggling.  They knew he had a history of depression.  His father had taken HIS own life over a decade ago.  Still, they had faith in his bouncing back, his being able to pull himself out of the hole he was in.
    Still, the call had come that at 29, he'd given up.  He first called his mother, told her he was sorry and that he loved her.  After hanging up with him, she sent the police, but they had gotten to him too late. 
    My sister is beside herself, of course.  Along with the other 'widows,' she went to his funeral last week and said goodbye to her best friend of 18 years.  
    Guys, this really, really scared me because I know that once upon a time, I flirted with the idea of just giving up on everything, although not seriously.  I resorted to self-injury for a while.  Now, I know you've probably heard this before.  And I know from a family friend whose cousin committed suicide years ago - people who kill themselves TRULY believe that this is the only way to escape their pain.  I don't believe that for a second.  There is ALWAYS another way out.  Always.  So please, PLEASE - if anyone is considering this, PLEASE call the hotline and know that those who love you would rather struggle alongside you than lose you altogether.  Reach out.  Embrace the help and support that people are willing to give you.  It does get better.  That's all I'll say on this.
    Want to end this blog on a positive note.  So will toss in a few random snippets to attempt to lighten the mood before saying adios for the day.
    - I'll let you all know that I now know where NOT to buy my deli meat.  J and I went to the local supermarket and I was not-so-pleasantly surprised to see that the gal operating the meat slicer was none other than the Whiny lady from my Friday night bowling league who called us cheaters.  We went shopping while Oompa was here so that I could stock up on some healthy foods and there she was, giving me the evil eye from behind the deli counter.  
    That's all right.  I'll buy my deli meat at Walmart.   They're WAY friendlier there.
    - You may already know this but the Philadelphia Eagles have won the Super Bowl, which makes me happy.  For starters, I'd like to apologize in advance to any and all New England fans who happen upon this post - but I do NOT like the Patriots.  I'm sick of them, I'm sick of hearing about them and how their QB is a GOAT.  Then there's that deflate-gate scandal from years ago, it's hard to 'unsee' that.  My J is a Patriots fan since she's originally from New England, so I can't hold it against her, but really, no one wants to watch one Brady Super Bowl after the other.  Now I'm a NY Giants fan by default since that's where I was born and bred.  But now that I've moved to a different state, I've got to choose between the Steelers and the Eagles for a 'local' team to support.  I'm not a fan of Roethlisberger because of some not-very-nice things I've heard about Big Ben, so I've gone with the Eagles if for no other reason than Philly is simply closer to my location than Pittsburgh.  
    - J and I recently signed up for a free trial of Hulu and we're caught up on The Handmaid's Tale.  Anyone have thoughts on this?  It's a very thought-provoking show.  I wouldn't recommend watching unless you are in a healthy frame-of-mind as it deals with some questionable issues and some may find it triggering at times.  Otherwise, it was interesting to say the least.  One of those shows that can safely be called 'crazy!'
    - Remember the daughter's frenemy I've spoken of?  Well, as originally predicted, they're talking again.  I STILL told her that there won't be any sleepovers with this ungrateful child.  I posted a board about this girl's behavior and something she confided in my daughter - there are no updates on that.  Never got around to discussing with the Wasband on how to proceed.  See, now that's bliss, by the way.  Live with the man, have to hear his mouth every single day.  Divorce the man, the only time he speaks to me is when something comes up with one of our kids.  I can certainly live with that.  
    - I shoveled snow yesterday.  We got 1-3 inches during the day, and I knew we were going to be getting freezing rain afterwards.  Stupid me decided to take a bath BEFORE I convinced myself to go outside to shovel the massive driveway.  But I took another hot shower afterwards to warm up after the workout!  Better than the DVD Oompa prefers to play.  That ridiculous DVD...LOL.  
    Okay, folks, that's it.  Enjoy your week!  Look for a post (length to be determined based on my mood) on Wednesday after my weigh-in!  
    - Capulet
  16. Capulet
    Say it isn't so...a blog entry that has MOSTLY nothing to do with my children.   I say mostly because I'll start off by saying a couple quick things about them, just as a courtesy follow-up of my last blog entry.  You're welcome!
    The Son is still accident-free, but that's only because we got about six inches of snow this week and he hasn't driven since he got his license.  I refuse to let him drive when there's even a small amount of snow on the roads.  Mostly because I've got about 23 years' driving experience and I'm STILL scared shitless of driving on wet/slushy roads.  Thankfully, he takes after me and hasn't asked to borrow the car, yet.  Small blessings! 
    The Daughter is still 'in a fight' with her 'fake friends.'  And as much as I want to stick my tongue out at these petty sixth graders, I am behaving myself and I'm 'staying out of it.'  At the moment, she's face-timing with a 'new' friend.  She's had a rough couple of weeks with these other little shits, so I'm going to let her continue to talk to this new person, even though she SHOULD be sleeping right now.
    Hell, I SHOULD be sleeping, but I'm not.  I'm here instead, with something on my mind.
    So, let's talk about me for a little while...I actually got this idea from a post I read earlier.  Someone talked about feelings of isolation, of not liking to go anywhere, not liking to be out of their element at all...
    Well, folks, this is me.  To a T!
    I don't like leaving my house.  Unless J and I have to go somewhere, I am truly happiest being home, being in my own bedroom.  We already know how wonderfully (yes, yes, there is indeed a smidge of sarcasm in this sentence) I do with sleepovers/visits to the in-laws' or overnight stays in places other than my familiar surroundings.  Oompa has been inviting me to stay with her since we moved.  Take a wild guess as to how many times I've obliged. ;)
    I HATE parties.  Mostly because there are too many people around and I'm just not socially adept in any way.  I am the most awkward human being you'll ever meet, if it's in a party setting.  I don't recognize music as anything other than noise.  ANNOYING noise.  I'll smile, say polite hellos and make (very) small talk but I'm usually ready to get home and put my pajamas on before the coffee comes out.
    I am sure that my reasons for being a hermit stem partially from being hard-of-hearing.  When I tell you that crowds are my worst fucking nightmare, I'm not exaggerating.  I'm okay with SMALL crowds; two or three people, huddled around a table...conversations are FAR easier for me to follow.  Even so, I miss out on a chunk of it...and I find myself laughing whenever they laugh.  I'm also PRAYING no one asks me if I really got the joke, because then I look even more like an idiot when I'm honest and say, "nope, I just laughed because everyone else was laughing."  
    There are times where I'll be with a small group of people.  The dinner table at holiday gatherings.  A family supper.  A double date.  Anywhere in general.  Even little gatherings at a restaurant with me and J and as few as one or two others.  I'll find myself being able to follow a conversation for a few moments, but then I'll trail off.  Words become garbled.  The background ambience just overwhelms and I no longer am present.  I'm staring off into space.  I don't mean to LOOK bored but I'm just plain lost.  I'm in la-la land...until someone gets my attention and brings me back to reality.  This will happen a number of times throughout the evening.  Then later on, J and I will reflect, and she'll ask me if I remember when so-and-so was talking about her new job and I'll shrug and say, "gee, must have missed that."  My love will then recap for me.  She's a gem.  My gem. 
    Either way, I'm CONSTANTLY avoiding being around other people.  I feel that if I'm not there to begin with, then there's even less that has to be repeated.  A family or friendly gathering that SHOULD be a joyful time, I'll usually dread.  (Especially if they're with my family.  They simply aren't my favorite people, if you hadn't noticed.)
    J and I have been together for nine years, so most of our friends are mutual friends.  The ladies we bowl with, mostly, because the bowling alley is where we usually go together and we have made many friends there.  Most of them, we left back in our old state, but we're starting to become very friendly with the couple we bowl with on Friday nights.  The wife also bowls with us on our Monday league.  She's a sweet lady and I'm quite surprised at how comfortable I am at conversing with her or cracking jokes with her in between frames.  
    I gotta say, though, bowling alleys are easy.  There is no deep conversation required...you go, roll the ball down the lane...occasionally say, "nice ball!" or "great shot!"  I have to say though, most of my friends from where we used to live were friends who knew that in order to talk to me about anything non-bowling related, they had to first make sure they had my full attention.  
    Let it be known that I freaking can't STAND it when people come up to me and start talking before it registers in my mind that they're talking to me.  It takes me a moment...I first have to make eye contact with someone, then my eyes look at their lips...add to that I'm getting old and slower by the year...by the time I realize they're talking to me, I've missed half of whatever they're saying/the beginning of a story.  (I'm also aware that this sentence may need to be re-read a number of times before it makes sense.  It's way past my bedtime as well as the point of legibility.)
    So...when I have limited information, the fake laugh and the quick, smile-and-pretend-you-know-what-they're-talking-about reflex kicks in.  And then again, I pray they move on and don't ask for my input...my luck, it's on something they said and I completely missed.  75% of the time, I get lucky.  The other 25% of the time I have to ask them to slowly repeat themselves.  This is something I hate to do...truly.  The Wasband was a pain in the ass and if, God forbid, I asked him to repeat himself more than once or twice, I'd get a snappy "never mind" and an eye roll.  Even J at times, even though she is MUCH nicer than the Wasband, gets frustrated with me.  I get a much nicer, cuter "never mind."  Most of the time.  
    I do SO, SO much better online.  Why can't I live online?  Why can't my address be on Dot Com Street?
    In a perfect world, everything is there for me to READ.  Everything is closed-captioned!  (I'll take a moment here to profusely thank my family members for not being tempted to turn the captions off on our television...sometimes the words block out parts of the picture and are unattractive in general...still, J and my children leave them on because at this point, television shows are weird without them!  Bless each and every one of their hearts!!!!)
    My dreams are closed captioned, for Pete's sake...I don't know how else to explain it.  I'm not hard-of-hearing in my dreams.  Or maybe I am, since there's never been a time when I wasn't hard-of-hearing.  It's just that...people talk and I understand it.  Every word.  There are no "say whats?" or instances of me asking them to repeat themselves.  Everything flows naturally.  They're normal.  Except when I dream of talking monkeys or other impossible things, then I start to question whatever sanity remains.  Maybe it's like watching television for me...when I go to sleep, I'm reading my conversations.  Or maybe because they're my dreams, I have a natural understanding and there's no 'hearing' required...the mind being an amazing thing as it is, I'm leaning toward the latter.
    In fact, my two long term relationships originated online.  The Wasband and I met through a mutual friend on AOL, back when AOL was an overpriced, addictive thing.  And you all know by now that J and I met here, once upon a time when I hosted the chats here.  The written word has ALWAYS been my best way of communicating.  I'm pretty good with texting too.   I can follow conversations as well as anyone else, and I NEVER feel isolated.  I never feel alone.  I can be in a ROOMFUL of people and STILL feel as if I'm very, very alone.  I'm used to this, I'll be the big 4-0 at the end of this year (and I'll not repeat that) and this has been pretty much the norm for my entire life.  
    I'm not without concerns, though. Or the famous 'what ifs' that I have trained myself to run away from...as fast as I can!
    When I was diagnosed with having less hearing than a piece of furniture when I was four months old, Oompa's first mission in motherhood was to instill language into me.  Sign language was not an option; my mother decided that I'd become 'lazy' and I'd prefer signing over the spoken word, and so she did not promote interaction with other deaf children.
    (Side note...I just had to correct myself...as a result of my tiredness, I almost typed in 'dead' children.  There would be no interaction at all if that were the case.)
    As a result, I never was able to communicate with the peers that were most like me.  I don't quite fit in among people whose ears are in working order either, what I've described above is a perfect example of how isolated I've gotten used to feeling.  So used to it, that it no longer bothers me.  I confess, I LIKE it, sometimes...I can spend HOURS by myself...sometimes DAYS, before the need for company arises.  
    I'd love to say that this, like many other things that piss me off on a daily basis, is my mother's fault. I'm not sure if this is entirely Oompa's doing, though.  There are people who hear just fine but still feel out of place at social events.  What's their excuse?  Is this just a thing that God decides for a person before he distributes us into the world to be born?  "You, (enter your name here), shall become a social disaster.  This is is my will, so it shall also be thy will, too," I bet the Good Lord declares upon our souls before he stamps an invisible expiration date on our asses and thrusts us into the stork's possession.  We're then born, and we're all just pre-destined to turn out a certain way?  Or does life occasionally factor in and interrupt what should have been?  I'd like to think that it does at times, and not even a Higher Power can intervene once we're out there on our own.  It kind of contradicts what we're taught as Catholics.  You know, about the 'Big Guy.'  He sees everything, he knows everything, he CREATED everything.  He LOVES us all, his children.  Yet, he 'allows' unfavorable things to happen to us.  I don't even think 'allows' is the correct word and forgive me, folks, but I will ALWAYS struggle with this concept.  I'll just avoid those dangerous (holy) waters; a religion debate is not something I want to get into.  Not now, anyway.  Perhaps in a future blog entry.
    So...here's a what-if.  What if I was born with functional ears?  Would I still be this way?  Granted, I would likely be able to follow conversations.  I'd probably be a fan of some God-awful music group that my son would cringe at.  I'd be MUCH easier to talk to.  I might constantly be on the phone.  I might have LOVED to get together with a group of my favorite people, instead of more boring, low-key, one-on-one gatherings.  I may be a party person.  Or maybe not, because I had a very, very bad experience in 1996 that took place at a party.  Is THIS a contributor to my constant self-isolation?  I'm guessing it is.
    I wonder though, if there is anything I can do to self-motivate to become more of a social butterfly as opposed to the antisocial caterpillar that I've grown entirely too comfortable being.  You see, I'm safe now.  I know that. I'm not the same naive, clueless teenager I was back then; what happened then would certainly never happen again, at least not in a similar setting.  I am wiser, I am smarter.  In those ways, I've improved, but socially, I am still quite dysfunctional.  I panic at the thought of being thrust into a situation where I can be surrounded by people and STILL feel like I'm stuck in a maze that I can't navigate my way out of.
    Yanno, guys...
    Maybe I'm thinking too much into it.  Maybe it's okay that I'm the way I am.  Maybe it's time to accept it all as gospel.  Maybe I'm meant to prefer solitude, and fate kicked in and made sure of it in multiple ways.  Maybe there's simply no changing the spots of a leopard.  (Or a caterpillar, if we're staying on topic!)  Maybe it's simply too late for me, at my age, to try and adopt new ways...and this I admit I am guilty of doing because I worry too much about what others may think of me.  And I make myself uncomfortable on purpose, because I, on occasion try to be someone I am not, even if just socially.  Trying too hard usually doesn't end well for me.
    Either way...despite many failed attempts at being more 'socially acceptable,' I'm still me.  Take me as I am, I suppose...  
    With that, this caterpillar is going to sleep.  I'm fairly sure that tomorrow (at this point, today) I will still be the same socially awkward individual that you have all come to get to know, and hopefully accept.   And I also have to say that as I conclude this entry, I feel a little bit more acceptance for myself, a level of acceptance that no one else is qualified to give me.  It goes hand-in-hand with the notion that before you can allow someone else to love you, you need to love yourself.  Self-acceptance is the same thing.  I consider myself a very lucky, antisocial woman that J wholeheartedly accepts me for each and every one of my quirks.   Very lucky, indeed!
    G'night, all.
    - Capulet
  17. Capulet
    First of all, I’ve been told today (at this point, yesterday) is “National Kiss-A-Ginger” Day.  My orange haired cat got a big-ass helping of love earlier.  Luckily, the other four don’t really care whether they get extra kisses, they just want the Greenies.  
    Secondly, I know I talk an awful lot about my kids.  If you’re sick of hearing about them, you need not keep reading, because the majority of this blog entry has to do with my younger spawn.  
    At least, understand that my reasons for writing about them is simply because, well, they teach me things about myself.  The little things they do, the things they say, you name it.  Their experiences (the ones they tell me about) remind me of my own.  They made me who I am and in turn, I am STILL learning how to mold them into exceptional human beings that will have a far better life than I did, especially when it comes to school.
    I’ll start off with some news about the son, since there is less about him this week.  Yesterday, he took his road test.  And…he aced it.  Which means he is now a licensed driver.  
    Have I mentioned how terrified I am about this!?  I am sure I have.  I do have to admit that I am a step ahead of him, here.  He will NOT be borrowing my car to get to and from school until he speaks to someone about getting a parking permit so that he doesn’t get me a ticket for parking in the wrong place.  This would be a ticket that he wouldn’t have any money to pay, either.  So, I told him that until he gets that permit from the main office, he will not have car privileges.  I’d also prefer to wait until spring before I allow him to take my vehicle to school, which is 10 miles away from home, 10 miles of winding, narrow, mountainous roads.  Did I mention, ICY?  This winter has been wack-a-doo, to say the least and I’m not 100% confident in his driving skills, so I’m going to hope he takes his sweet time in getting the parking permit…  He takes his time with everything else, why not this, too!?
    So, that’s the son.  Moving onto my pre-teen...
    My daughter revealed to me earlier this week that one of her friends (one of the two girls who slept over at our house before the holidays) is no longer her friend.  They’re ‘in a fight,’ she says.  What the hell does that mean, anyway?  IN a fight?  Like, you're IN a pool, IN a car, IN a circus tent?  IN a fight?  I know, I've got teenagers but my son wasn't big on that kind of lingo, so I'm assuming she left out the words "the middle of" and she's simply saying she's in the middle of fighting with one of her ex-besties.  I’m sure there is drama (my favorite!) and that it will continue up until their graduation in 2020.  Then, perhaps spill over into their high school years until they realize they don’t remember what they were fighting about in sixth grade and they’ll kiss and make up.  (Or high-five, mind you…if she's anything like me, she wouldn’t dare open up THAT can of worms until at least, college!)
    Now, I was 11 years old once, so I know how the majority of 11-year-old girls are.  They are rotten, hormonal little shits with a bone to pick about every stinkin’ thing.  They’re loud, they’re rude and they ONLY care about themselves or their social status.  Every damn thing is a competition.  Who has better hair, who has better make-up?  Who’s got the cutest boyfriend (oh, horrors!!)?  Whose mother is the coolest?  
    (In my daughter’s case, she, hands-down, has the best mother.)  
    Or, do these little competitions start in high school?    
    But either way, my junior high days were nothing short of nightmarish and I often went home crying because of the cruelty of my classmates.  I was quiet, I minded my own business, I ate lunch alone, I read books, I wrote in my journals.  Whenever I tried to get involved in any group conversations or team sports in phys ed, they’d almost ALWAYS find something to pick on me for.  I didn’t follow conversations very well.  I didn’t run fast enough.  I misunderstood something, and they found it funny.  This, sadly, was a regular occurrence because of my poor hearing.  And, so, I kept to myself for most of the three years I was there.  I had a small handful of friends who were too smart to get sucked into the middle-school bullshit.  Unfortunately, though, none of these friends went to the same high school as I; we moved to another city the summer after my 8th grade graduation.  
    My daughter, though, is JUST like her father.  Not in the respect that she’s a difficult person to be around.  No…she has far more people and social skills than I ever did.  She probably STILL has a better chance of making a friend than I do.  She’s popular, ALWAYS face-timing one of her friends.  She’s got her phone in her hand CONSTANTLY, with the exception for the one week it took to get her phone repaired when she dropped it and cracked the screen.  For this, I’m happy for her - at least she’s having a better go at the whole middle-school thing than I ever did.  The wasband, too, was a leader more so than a follower, and no one crossed him.  She isn’t a fighter or a bully, but usually, she is surrounded by friends and is known to be a good kid, overall and everyone LOVES being around her. 
    So, she tells me that she and this girl are ‘in a fight.’  I ask her what happened.  Immediately, she clams up.  “Nothing,” she says.  “I don’t want to talk about it.”  
    Still, I pressed on.  And she refused to tell me.  This went on for fifteen minutes before she had to go to sleep.  I figured they’d be friends again before she even told me what they were fighting about, so I left it alone again.
    Now it’s Friday, and they are still at odds.
    Finally, I asked her if in any way, shape or form surrounding this ridiculous little fight, she was in the wrong.  She nodded her head and admitted that she had indeed done something wrong, but at the same time, so had her friend.
    “Well, you know, two wrongs do not equal a right,” I explained to her, “If you were wrong and you know you were in the wrong, then you’re responsible for owning up to whatever it was you did.”  She said she understood that, she would when she was ready, and she STILL didn’t want to discuss their quarrel.  And, so, I dropped it.  Apparently this was something they needed to figure out on their own.
    Okay, so this evening at the bowling alley, I had two different experiences that I’ll share with everyone.
    The first was with a woman on the opposing team.  When I tell you this woman was the biggest whiner I’ve ever met since moving here, I’m NOT kidding.  There is a gal on my Monday night league, who loathes J because her high score bested hers. J is the new lady, the outsider…and she single handedly beat this lady's 3-game series and high game one week and since then, has been in the number one slot.  I must say I am very proud of my fiancee, she’s turned out to be quite the bowler.  Monday Night chick though, is NOT happy and we get a lot of eye-rolling whenever J is on a roll.  No pun intended.  This lady I’m going to tell you about, though, is far more immature than most five-year-olds I know.
    During our 10-minute practice before league play began, the pinsetters were malfunctioning.  A first ball would be thrown and if there were any pins left standing, the pinsetter would knock them down instead of picking them up and clearing the excess fallen pins before putting them back down for a spare attempt.  This happened several times before we let management know about the problem and we got a late start because their repair person took a few minutes to fix the malfunctioning pinsetter.  
    Well, it was MOSTLY fixed.  
    The first problem occurred in game 1.  The woman on the other team, let’s call her Whiner, just for the heck of it, throws the ball down the middle.  She leaves the five pin standing.  My entire team and I saw the pin was still standing when the pinsetter came down and knocked it down, tricking the machine into thinking that Whiner had thrown a strike.  An ‘X’ appeared onto Whiner’s score.  She was giddy, thinking that we wouldn’t care enough to go and ask for the five pin (the one in the middle) to be put back up since it wasn’t knocked down by her ball in the first place, but by the machine in error.  She threw a hissy fit, called my entire team ‘cheaters’ because the machine clearly said that it was a strike, and here we were, saying otherwise.  J and the rest of my teammates were sitting there in disbelief while she carried on and on and ON about that terrible injustice done to her.  She even went to the front desk and complained to the poor guy who managed the alley.  He, too, had to tell her that occasionally, the machines make mistakes and that scores sometimes have to be changed due to those errors.  Then he looked at us and shook his head.  Apparently this was a crazy he’d gotten used to over the last few weeks.
    She huffed and puffed, and then loudly announced that she was going out for a smoke and taking her ‘sweet-ass’ time and ‘didn’t give a shit’ who was waiting for her.  Unfortunately for her, by making US wait, she was also holding up her own team.  Her husband at one point was telling her to knock it off.  Then, she threw a legit strike and nastily hollered in our direction, “should we put the five pin back up again?”  
    We just looked at each other and rolled our eyes.  I wanted to rip off my bowling glove and tell her that we weren’t going to have that bullshit, weren’t going to stand for being called cheaters.  We were honest, we all saw that pin still standing.  It wasn’t our fault that she’d turned around and was walking back before the pinsetters came down and she hadn’t seen the machine break.  Was this woman serious!?  I mean, this woman was in her fifties, maybe early sixties.  She was acting like a damned child and making a fool of herself at the same time.  We were there to bowl and have a good time, and here was this psychopath running her mouth and saying we were cheating, even when the broken pinsetter continued to break down numerous times after that whole episode.  To say I wanted to punch her in the face is an understatement, but I don’t think I’d last very long in prison, so I kept my glove on, my hands to myself and my mouth shut.  
    I can’t...I just can’t with this lady, though. 
    The second experience involved my daughter.  She accompanies J and I on Friday nights to our bowling league.  The bowling alley has a nice little arcade and she usually meets up with some friends from school, tonight being no different.  First, a different friend was there and hung out with her until the end of the evening rolls around and the friend she’s currently ‘in a fight’ with, shows up.  The first friend who had been hanging out with my daughter, subsequently drops her like a hot potato and goes to hang out with the little shit she’s bickering with.  The lanes we were assigned tonight were literally right next to the arcade, so I had a view of her the entire time.
    At one point, she was sitting by herself next to the air-hockey table.  The friend she’d been hanging out with for the last hour and change, was now standing on the opposite side of the arcade, with the ‘frenemy.’  They were chatting about likely everything and nothing, and my daughter looked bummed out in general.
    Deja-vu hit me then.  I flashed back to when that was ME, standing alone, because kids were too cruel to consider how I might feel.  Then there were the other two, kinda rubbing it in her face, eating ice cream and not speaking to her or including her in their conversations.  My heart broke a little bit.  (Okay, a lot.)  I wanted to smack some sense into the kid she’d been hanging with before the other one’s arrival; that was flat-leaving and I wasn’t cool with it.  It’d happened to me too many times when I was a kid…they’d hang out with me only if there was no one better, but when their real friends arrived, I was a thing of the past.  
    That shit hurts.  BIG time.  I could tell that my daughter wasn’t enjoying her alone time, but she was trying.  She was playing with her iPad and doing a pretty good job of ignoring the other two.  And the other two were giggling and having a great time.  
    Oh, hell no.  My maternal instincts were SCREAMING.  WHY am I not doing something?  Why am I not getting involved?  Why do I not have my daughter’s back, here?  How do I even do so?
    But at the risk of further mortifying my daughter and wrecking her social status and jeopardizing my cool mom status, I did nothing, even though in an alternate reality, I would have LOVED to travel back in time and have my 11-year-old self punch them in the face, too, because this was all too familiar to me.  We were almost finished when I noticed she was alone, so it would not have made any sense to say anything, as much as I wanted to.  Once our balls were packed and our jackets were on, I called her and let her know we were leaving.  
    She came out of the arcade with a grin on her face.  In the car on the way home, she told J and I that she HAD made an attempt to apologize for her part in the ‘fight.’  She said she verbally apologized and when she was ignored, she sent a long text to the other girl, and in turn, her nemesis ‘blocked’ her phone number.  Then she referred to the ‘first’ friend as a “fake” friend, for having left her high and dry upon the arrival of the other kid.  I told her that I had noticed that too, and that it was NOT cool in any way.  She should never do that to another person. It’s just a damn shame that she’d experienced it first-hand, but I guess it’s all a part of growing up.  Is THAT where the term ‘growing pains’ comes from?  Wouldn’t surprise me.
    I told her I was sorry to hear that her friends (and I was referring to both girls at this point) were ‘fake,’ stuck up and rude, but was proud of her for owning up to her contribution to the whole situation.  I then told her that the ball was now in her ex-friend’s court and that it was now up to her to make the next move.  My daughter claims she doesn’t care and that she isn’t bothered by any of it, but I know better.  
    See, she is big-hearted and sensitive.  Yes, she is a headstrong and pigheaded pain in the ass at times but she is also someone I have raised to always, ALWAYS think back on her actions and if she’s wrong, she’s responsible for admitting to it and then freeing her own conscience.  She needs to ask herself if she did the best she could to rectify a situation.  What she does with that information is entirely up to her and I’ve always told her that she can confide in me about anything, whether she is right or wrong.  In this particular case, she didn’t want to talk about what she’d done, but judging by the behavior I’d seen the two girls display, I sincerely don’t care if they’re ever friends again.  If they are, great, because I DO think that a small part of her cares more than she’d like to admit.  If not….oh, well.  Still, it's a loss she'll feel more than I, and that's not something I want her to experience, so young in life and over something undoubtedly petty and silly.
    I have to admit, she eventually made me think about the Whiner as well as this 11-year-old brat my daughter once considered to be a friend.  I think it’s amazing how she and I both had to handle ourselves in two unrelated situations this evening and ultimately, we both learned something new tonight.  I'm not sure how to put into words what I learned, other than some people never grow up and it's better to allow them to make an ass out of themselves than to put myself in a bad situation by losing my own shit.  She, though, learned an important lesson.
    She understands that we're simply not responsible for how other people act.  We're accountable only for our own behavior and how we handle any form of conflict.  Punching other people in the face, although tempting, is never the answer, as that's likely to land us in jail facing assault charges.  As we go through life, we're going to be repeatedly upset or offended by the words and actions of others.  Learning how to handle such situations is important, for the people we keep around us in the long run end up being the people who are also well-learned in the same form of mature conflict resolution.  
    I guess it takes some people longer than others, though.  I'm truly proud of my kid, though; she's certainly better at it than I was at her age.  My mother NEVER talked about these things with me, so I was ill-equipped to deal with any form of confrontation and as a result, a very weak child.  So, mission accomplished, on that. ;)
    I am now going to extend the "National-Kiss-A-Ginger" Day and give my boy some more love before I hit the hay.  That is, if I can find him.
    Til next time.
    - Capulet
  18. Capulet
    Can someone explain to me what the appeal is of a frozen breakfast sandwich?
    I'm not even talking Jimmy Dean.  I'm talking the Walmart brand.  Frozen.  $3.89 for a box of four sandwiches.  They're about a thousand calories each and are no bigger than a plum, plus the eggs are questionable as to whether they're real or just pretend eggs.  There's a sausage patty, also questionable as to whether they're made of mystery meat or real pork, which would surprise me.  
    My kids LOVE these things. And because getting them up in the mornings for school is a process that leaves very little time for healthy breakfasts, they'll usually grab one of these Walmart brand Sausage, Egg and Cheese Biscuits on their way out the door.  
    Once in a while, when I shop at Walmart (yes, if you've seen weird people at Walmart recently, you may have seen me...especially perusing the holiday clearances)...I will seek out such quickie meals for the kids, so that they have something in their bellies before school.  They will usually skip lunch (daughter more so than son, since he has half-day every day and will opt for lunch at home) simply because they don't find the school meals appetizing in any way.  I suppose I can't blame them there; MY middle-school cafeteria cook used to serve us slop that looked akin to vomit on a styrofoam tray.
    THIS morning, though, my two were arguing over who was going to eat the last "fake" breakfast sandwich.  She claims that he ate the last one on a day that there was only one left...(you do the math, two kids, four sandwiches in the box, two sandwiches per day = breakfast on Thursday and Friday mornings)...not sure how it got lopsided - perhaps because on occasion even the microwaveable breakfast didn't sound appeasing to one of them, but this particular morning, there was only one sandwich left in the freezer.  And he, before she could go looking for it, ate it.  In like, two big 17-year-old size chomps, it was gone.
    Swear to God, you would have thought he ate a filet mignon that she'd saved her allowance for months to buy....she lost her shit.  She went on for about thirty minutes before school about how much she couldn't stand her brother.  There might have been tears.  Some foot-stomping.  Some choice words screamed at his back when she thought I wasn't paying attention.  I vaguely remember shaking my head mumbling something about how the sandwich was now down my son's gullet and there was NOTHING that could be done, so I was going to walk away and drop the issue.  Along with making a mental note to buy more of those fucking sandwiches next time I went to Walmart.
    Fast-forward to last night - I was putting some groceries away and found the same thing I found that other morning.  A LONE SANDWICH.  A result of one morning when he'd come upstairs and fallen back asleep on the couch and hadn't eaten his breakfast.  (There, that's how it got lopsided...)
    So...there's a sandwich, wrapped in the clear cellophane.  I couldn't cover it with a package of chicken breasts fast enough.  She doesn't pay attention to much, nowadays.  She's 11.  But she saw that sandwich, clear as day.
    "DIBS!" She screeches.  "That's MY sandwich!  He ate the last one!"  Couldn't even tell her she was wrong about that, but I accepted that the sandwich was called for, and that I would guard that sandwich for her.
    Fast-forward to this morning.  Snow day!  No school.  Both kids came out of their rooms at just about noon - well rested and hungry.  She decided to have a can of Boyardee (another quickie meal that we really shouldn't keep buying) and when he finally came upstairs, he went straight to the freezer and lo and behold, spied the sandwich that his sister had called dibs on.  He reached in, thinking he'd struck gold.  
    It was like slo-mo.  
    Her eyes got wide.  
    MY eyes got wide.
    It was time to prevent a war.  Because if he would have gotten as far as opening that cellophane wrapper, there WOULD have been bloodshed. 
    "Yoursister'sbeensavingthat." I said to him, real quick.  
    "Whut?" The clueless teenage look we all know so well.
    "Your. sister. has. been. saving. that," I say again, holding my hand out.  "Surrender the sandwich."
    "Why can't I have it?" he wasn't seeing his sister about to scale the kitchen table and go ape-shit on him.  And just picture this, her lips saturated in Boyardee sauce, hair wild, eyes wide.  It wasn't pretty.
    "Because she's been saving it and she called dibs on it last night."
    He rolls his eyes.  Sandwich lands into my outstretched palm.  Crisis averted.  For now.
    Time to go to Walmart.  But I need the heat wave, first.  20's, I can deal with.  Negative temps are NO BUENO!  
    Hope y'all are staying warm.  
    - Capulet
  19. Capulet
    Let's all raise our hands if we're done with Christmas!
    If it were within my capacity to turn back-flips, I'd be doing that right now.  I'd likely end up in traction but it'd be worth it, compared to how I was made to feel this past Christmas season.
    I'm more happy that it's over.  It was over before it started, if that makes any sense...
    I'll further explain.  
    Most of you know that this was our first Christmas in our new home.  
    The house was beautifully decorated.  The tree was put up right after Thanksgiving weekend and the light show has ALWAYS been my favorite.  I love the multi-color lights, I love the tree being the only source of light in the evenings.  Such a calming, merry feeling while watching TV and all the other house lights are off.  At least for me, this was a nice and peaceful feeling and a feeling I look forward to whenever we're eating turkey leftovers.  Additionally, I'm happy to say that our tree ultimately survived the wrath of my youngest cat, who has successfully learned that he is no longer a kitten and is too big and fat to shimmy up the center of the tree and perch himself across the branches in the middle.  I did have to "repair" the branches at the bottom, that just fall to the floor because of his failed attempts to get into the tree.  A few ornaments ended up on the floor every morning, but there haven't been any fatalities this year; the glass/expensive ones were put high up because of aforementioned cat.  The other four don't give a rat's ass about the tree, it's always the youngest one that's the problem...
    Anyway...moving on.  We decorated the outside of the house with lights...something we'd never done before.  It looked lovely.  J and I were proud of ourselves.  I must say ours was the nicest looking house on the block!  We had lights in all the windows, a couple of those projector things with snowmen and snowflakes on one side, we strung up the wall at the end of the driveway, covered a tree with net lights....VERY nice!
    We hung a nice big wreath on the entrance door, another in the living room on the wall above the mantle.  I put the red shiny bows on the doorknobs and drawer handles, made things look nice and festive with the addition of little Christmas-themed knick-knacks and candles and anything that smelled like candy-canes or gingerbread or sugar cookies...out they went with little candies and M&Ms, whatever we could put in these little glass (Holiday-themed) bowls...I put out Christmas coasters...my halls were DECKED.  
    I put garland up along the edge of the fireplace, complete with battery-operated lights that went on every day at 6pm and shut off at midnight.  6 on, 18 off, easy-peasy with these battery-operated delights, didn't have to worry about replacing the batteries at all but will imagine they need new ones at the start of next season.  That is, given I'm in the mood to decorate.
    Oompa also "contributed" when she downsized drastically over the last year...and by "contributing," I mean, she threw whatever she had no room for into a plastic grocery store bag and brought them over to us to use.  I often joke among the sisters that she's simply giving them to me to throw away for her.  There WAS some salvageable junk, but most of it was unnecessary junk that I didn't want to use here, either.  We all get a daily text from Oompa, I'll have you know..."Do any of my girls want this beautiful hanger, passed down from great-great-great Nonna from Italy?"  And then the chorus of "no's" begins...
    Then the stupid hanger ends up in a bag and on my kitchen table because she has a sentimental attachment to it and will store it in the bedroom closet she uses when she's here.  I swear to God, you can't make this up - that bedroom smells like Old Lady, the efforts of Yankee Candle and Glade Plug-Ins combined cannot fully combat the stench...it's simply because she has too many "collectibles" that no one wants and she insists on putting into her room, and the door being closed at all times to ensure a cat-free zone further preserves and promotes the Old Lady sanctuary.
    These little, minor things, I can deal with.
    What I CANNOT deal with though, is manipulation.  Where Oompa is involved, though, let's call it mom-nipulation because that's fitting.   
    She has been bitching and moaning since the SUMMER (it was the beginning of July when we moved here, she wasted NO time) that I moved two hours away from her.  J has made comments to her that SHE lives 4 hours away from all of her family members but that has little to no effect on my mother.  I might as well have moved across the country, the way she has been carrying on.  My mother's biggest problem, if you ask me, is that she does not feel needed by me/us.  She weeps because she doesn't see us once a week like she used to, she clings whenever she comes, she complains when I decline an invite to her house for Sunday dinner, she then throws us moving back into our faces and lays blame on US for moving away and not making the effort in keeping the family together.  In return, I remind her that Sister #1 moved BEFORE we did, she chose the retirement community 20 minutes away from Sister #1 BEFORE we moved two hours away.  SHE was the one who got the moving ball rolling.  Sister #2 and her husband also moved 20 minutes away from her little retirement community (although in the other direction) BEFORE we moved.  Why should we move close to her/them when we had no intention of ever living in New Jersey!?  We told her YEARS before either one of us moved; we were bypassing New Jersey entirely and moving to Pennsylvania.  She knew this.  Yet, she still complains that it's not a location in Pennsylvania that is close enough to where she hangs her hat....
    All in all, I just do not have the heart to tell her that she misses me/us MORE than I/we miss her.  In a way, both of my sisters having babies within a six-month span of time helps - because now she needs to help THEM with their "new-parent" statuses, takes some of the pressure off of us, and in the meantime keeps her too busy to complain to us.  I'm fine with seeing her once a month!  Or less.  Really, because all she does when she's here is cry and complain and bit*h and moan and piss everyone off in the process.  
    You'd think that having a three-year old grandson and a newborn granddaughter with another granddaughter on the way in a couple of months would help...right?  But no, she finds reasons to complain, anyway!
    Christmas, particularly Christmas Eve, has always been my mother's thing.  She would have all of her daughters, their spouses (and in my case, ex-spouses), grandchildren, my father and his wife would come, along with the occasional extra in-law guest with nowhere else to go, etc, at her house (this was back in New York, before we BOTH moved this past summer...me to here, and her to a retirement community in New Jersey....hence her downsizing crusade) for a fish feast and present-opening extravaganza.  We did it every year regardless of her constant over-cooking of the fish, the drama that would ensue and the annual argument between any two or three random family members.  Not that the drama was wanted or needed, it was pretty much a given...because wherever Oompa is, the drama is.  
    With the exception of me and maybe Sister #2, Oompa breeds drama.  
    She starts it with her husband, my poor stepfather and both my sisters' father.  This man has endured her bullshit for thirty-five years.  She yells at him mercilessly, calls him stupid and orders him around.  In his old age, he's gotten to the point where he tolerates it less and less, resulting in full-blown arguments over the dinner/dessert table if not during all the preparation.  Sister #1 has inherited my mother's flair for drama and in turn, has absolutely no filter on her mouth, almost everything that comes out is an insult.  She truly met her soul-mate in her husband, who also has no filter nor a pot to catch HIS verbal diarrhea.  As a result, that is an aunt and uncle my kids don't care for.  They will say hello and goodbye at family gatherings but DREAD their presence at any one of them.  Lately, that secret dread has been made not-so-secret.  
    Anyway, last year was our "last" Christmas Eve at Oompa's old house, the house we grew up in.  That house was sold prior to our move.  We all said it last year...next year, we start new traditions.  I wanted the Christmas Eve torch and made it known to both Oompa and my father and stepmother and sisters as well as to the wasband and his wife and all of the kids.  
    Now, fast forward to this year.  Oompa's excuses began back in October with the birth of my niece.  
    "Ohh, you know, she's (Sister #2 and her husband) not going to drive two hours to your house with a newborn in tow...the baby's too small..." (why she thinks a baby won't sleep in the car for a 2 hour ride is beside me....my kids would sleep for six hours as long as the damn car was RUNNING)...but fine, I accepted that.  Baby's first Christmas, after all.  It was later told to me that they would be going to my brother in law's parents' house for Christmas Eve.  So, this sister was squared away.  I took no offense to this.  I understand it.
    "Your sister's (#1) husband is deathly allergic to cats so she won't come for Christmas Eve at your house, either...let's do it at my house in Jersey?" She tried this too.  I told her that I'd buy a supply of Benadryl for the asshole but I'm not putting 10 people on the highways on Christmas Eve to accommodate one person (my brother-in-law with the nonstop verbal diarrhea) because he's allergic to cats.  I'm simply not re-arranging my holiday plans because he won't come.  My sister would come because according to Oompa, they had nowhere to go either.  So I told her to bring my sister and nephew and come for dinner, if my brother in law chose to stay home, then that was on him.  But then more excuses...she's (my sister) seven months' pregnant and shouldn't be in the car for that long.
    Are you fucking kidding me?!
    So I finally put my foot down and told her that I was doing Christmas Eve...(which was also J's birthday)...here.  That's it.  We weren't hauling everyone in our family (to include wasband's because his family consists of the four other grandchildren she knew before the ones that take up all of her time NOW) over to her tiny little house in New Jersey because she wasn't willing to work with us as far as my sister and her husband were concerned.  
    Now, this was only three-quarters of the family.  My father (whom I inherited the drama-free attitude from) is retiring this year.  He lives THREE hours away from us.  He's not complained once.  In fact, he vacations frequently in the area we live in, so he was actually HAPPY to hear we moved where we moved.  He's come a couple times since then and stayed over, enjoyed his visits with us.  There have been ZERO complaints from him.  So, this year, he had but one request.  He couldn't come on the actual Christmas Eve because on Christmas Day, he had plans with his wife's family.  He has these plans every year, but the drive back from my house to where he (and his wife's family) would be too traffic-filled if he were to leave Christmas morning.  So he asked to come December 23rd, have an "early" Christmas Eve celebration here, spend the night, and head home on Christmas Eve (afternoon) so that his visit on Christmas Day would warrant less travel hassle. Makes sense, right?  
    So I agreed.  Oompa was invited for the 23rd as well, and she came on the 23rd.  My father's wife is not a cat-lover either.  When they arrived, I told them that my son's room (which has a full-size bed) was available for one set of grandparents while the other set would stay in the guest room that my mother has "old-ladied" to the max.  They'd hash out those details amongst themselves when they arrived but both sets of parents would have a bedroom with a door, clean sheets, etc.  My only suggestion was for my Dad and his wife to bring their own pillows, as the ones in my son's room are quite beat up.
    Okay, so Dad arrives on the 23rd.  Oompa was already there.  My stepfather busied himself tinkering with things around the house - he's got the need to be doing something at all times.  Anyway, Stepmother asked Oompa if she could have the guest/Old Lady room because it was the only room in the house completely closed off to cats and she was hoping for no stray cat hairs on her bedding.  Oompa, without consulting with my stepfather, said yes, that she and her husband would take my son's room (which really isn't a cat hangout - when he's not home, the door is closed...when he IS home, the door is closed...so it really wasn't too big of a deal) and my father and his wife would take the guest room/Oompa's room.
    So they put all their stuff in that bedroom, we had dinner...not exactly a drama-free dinner, because it was also my stepson's (wasband's eldest son's) birthday on the 23rd.  My kids wanted to go there for dinner, thus cutting our "fake" Christmas Eve short.  Not to mention Oompa screamed at both of them because they expressed a want/need to celebrate their brother's birthday and to have dinner with the wasband, despite my having planned a nice family meal over here.  I had to smooth the waters between my son and my mother, stating we would eat a little bit earlier, then they could go join the wasband for a SECOND dinner before we all went there for cake later on.  For the record, we usually DO celebrate his birthday on the 23rd but because this year, we had no other time to have my father over and my mother wasn't going to stay for Christmas Eve because that would, in turn, leave Sister #1 with no one to see or nowhere to go, we planned to eat our dinner and go to the wasband's for cake.  It was my attempt to make everyone happy, to see everyone for Christmas Eve, a day early.  Wasband refused to bring everyone over here on a day that was his son's birthday (and my stepson would NOT have cared, I know this about him...it was the wasband who was being difficult) and to combine birthday and holiday together.  So...we made the most of it and tried to squish everything into the 23rd so that everyone else could carry out alternative plans.  
    But no.  No one was happy, including me, because whenever I try and accommodate ANYONE, I end up inconveniencing others.  
    After cake, there was more drama.  My stepfather's boiling point was reached and he hollered at my stepmother, telling her that he wasn't giving up his room.  My mother hadn't consulted with him and he was angry about it.  He deserved to be able to sleep in the room that he always slept in when he was at my house.  He carried on.  My stepmother finally threw her hands up and agreed to move everything into my son's room.  My mother was embarrassed to no end, and the next morning, she left before my father and stepmother even came upstairs, weeping and saying it was the worst Christmas ever.  I did tell her she could stay that night for dinner, stay over until early in the morning, then go spend Christmas with Sister #1, since really, that would make sense...Sis #2 had her in-laws for Christmas Eve, Sis #1 kind of screwed herself because she did have every opportunity to come and chose not to...not my fault nor my mother's, so they could always find something to do or someplace to go...there WAS someone that liked them enough to have them over, I'm sure of it...there was ALWAYS a standing invitation for them to come to my house, too.
    That's when she tells me that Sis #2's plans changed.   Instead of Sis #2 going to her in-laws' as originally planned, her in-laws decided to bring Christmas Eve to her.  The arrival of my niece had rendered her useless in the kitchen, so they were bringing all the food and having the get-together over at her house.  Originally, my mother wasn't seeing her on Christmas Eve at all and would be seeing both sisters on Christmas Day.  Now, my mother would be attending THEIR celebration, mostly because it was closer to home.
    THAT's what offended me.
    I was even more pissed off when I heard that Sis #1, the one with nowhere else to go on Christmas Eve, decided to join Sis #2 and her family on Christmas Eve, too, at her house.
    Then on Christmas Day, they all went to #1's house.  
    Meaning, my mother chose to spend BOTH Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with those two, leaving us all here, wondering why we didn't get either day out of her, or any of them.  
    NOW, I'm pissed off.  I had my little meltdown that consisted of ugly crying into the fur of whatever cat I could reach.  I put on a smile for the rest of the holidays, and I got through them regardless of how pissed off I am at how everything unfolded.  
    I haven't had the talk with Oompa, but this year kind of set the stage for next year and all of the Christmases to follow.  My youngest sister wants to take the torch and wants to do it at her house from now on.  Right now, I'm too pissed, too BAH HUMBUG to bring it up, but when the time comes, I'm announcing that Christmas Eve will be held ON Christmas Eve, at my house, EVERY year.  They can come or they can stay the fuck home.  I'm not having a repeat of this Christmas.  There will be NO fucking rescheduling drama.  Not from Oompa, not from anyone else.  Yes, I moved, but I've also been to my sisters' houses, their neck of the woods more than any of them have come to ours.  It's the same drive, whether they come to me or I go to them, I'm just not bending anymore.  I'm not accommodating any of them anymore because they're too lazy or too allergic or too pregnant, or too inadequate in the kitchen, or for whatever other fucking reason they can throw at me.  The torch was supposed to come to ME, the eldest daughter, and I'm reclaiming it.  
    Now, I'm bitterly de-Christmasizing the house in between blogging and binging on Christmas cookies, simply to get rid of the fucking things.  I'm probably going to greet 2018 fifteen pounds heavier, but regardless, I'm ripping those fucking shiny red bows off of the doorknobs and handles.  I am pulling candy canes off of whatever little areas I've chosen to hang them in.  I'm throwing away the gingerbread house that Oompa and my daughter made together on the afternoon of the 23rd, after the yelling had died down.  I carried up the Rubbermaid storage bins and am throwing anything Christmas into those bins, to later be stored up in the attic.  I don't want to see or hear about any more Christmas bullshit anymore, which sucks because I always LOVED Christmas, the lights, the decorations, the tinsel and garlands, the excitement, the anticipation, the cookies, etc.  Now?  I'm Ebenezer Capulet and I'm dreading subsequent Christmases.  Maybe the hurt/aggravation is too fresh right now; I don't know...but this is new to me.  Something's got to give.  Changes need to be made.  And they are not all on my part.  I'm realizing this now - I've made all the changes I can make.  I need for them to be adapted to and for others to be willing to meet me halfway.
    Anyway.  I know in general, Christmas is never simple.  Everyone's got something.  
    I sincerely hope YOUR holidays were better than mine.  If they weren't, at least we can take consolation in knowing we have 11 months before the insanity begins again.  11 months to recuperate, before the holiday bullshit ensues again.  *sigh*  Either way, I TRULY hope that even though there may have been unnecessary stress this season, that we all had at least one thing to be grateful for, one thing that made us smile, one thing that was done or said that we can remember fondly.  That, I can say I did have.  There was at least one thing, if not a few, that I found myself blessed to have this year, even if it was that I was able to decorate a brand-new house for a holiday I hope I can learn to love and look forward to again.  My kids loved everything that Santa brought them, so there's also that.  The little things do add up.  
    Happy New Year, folks.  2018 for the win?
    - Capulet
  20. Capulet
    You all may remember that before my transition over to the ‘dark side,’ (term used in reference to the same-sex relationship I am currently in) I was married to an extremely difficult man.  Mr. His-Way-Or-The-Highway, also known as my ‘wasband,’ was always, ALWAYS stubborn as a mule, on top of being quite adept in the powers of intimidation.  No one wanted to deal with his wrath, people would feel as if they were teetering on eggshells around him.  He knew that, and of course, still knows that.  It is safe to say we are ONLY friends because we share children in common; most of the time, I don’t want to be around him either.  The only reason I spend holidays with him is because he INSISTS upon the children being with him on every major holiday and they’re not yet given any choice in the matter.  Plus, despite his shortcomings, the wasband is a VERY good cook.  It eliminates my need to cook or clean on holidays, small price to pay in my opinion.  The alternative is to spend the holiday with the Oompa Loompa and that’s an entirely different headache.  At times, she’ll come to the wasband’s as well, and usually a good time is had without my sister’s and brother-in-law’s guaranteed drama being present. 
    Anyway, my daughter has been telling me lately that she hates being at her father’s house, that he's harsh on them and makes them get up early and clean.  Of course, she's 11, she exaggerates, so I take that with a grain of salt.  Now, a huge part of her not wanting to go is that she’s forever locking horns with her father's wife.  Another contributing factor is that she is, in many ways, just like the wasband - stubborn, always has to have the last word, and doesn’t do well with being told what to do.  She doesn’t see her stepmother as an authority figure, so end result, she will fight with her Dad’s wife and giggle gleefully to herself when her Dad takes her side.  Yes, she IS a spoiled brat at times, but I do appreciate that he will keep his wife in check when he sees fit.  This is not to say that both he and I don’t put her in her place when she needs it.  However lately, he’s been cracking down on both of their attitudes (they don’t give it to me as much as they give it to his wife, and they certainly don’t do it in front of their father) and my guess is, he’s gotten to the point where he’s tired of hearing his wife complain about our kids.  Plus, he went from being able to walk to work to now having to commute 2 hours by car each way, leaving at 5am and getting home close to 7-8pm every night has turned him into even more of an unbearable pain in the ass.  His wife is the one dealing with all the housework, cooking, cleaning, laundry, kids, etc…so I can certainly understand the stress she puts up with.  
    Please don’t misunderstand - I do not envy her or sympathize with her.  When he asked me for a divorce back in 2008, it only took him a couple of weeks to “find someone online that he’d like to take on a date,” leading me to believe he’d been talking to her long before calling it quits with me.  If I were to ask him today, he’d deny it up and down and insist that his meeting her was one of those right time, right place kind of situations.  I’m a lot of things - stupid is not one of those things.  I shrugged it off back then and really didn’t see the point in caring too much about our inevitable split.  Part of me didn’t want to reconcile, anyway.  NOT if it meant being forever miserable.  
    But, ya know…if anything, his wife did me a favor.  She took him off my hands.  He is now HER problem.  And I’m in a MUCH healthier, happier relationship now.  She made her bed, now she has to live with her decision.  
    So…back to my daughter for a bit of a side story...
    Last night, my younger brat wanted to have two of her friends spend the night at my house.  She begged me from the moment she walked in from school…until I told her that there were a few things she needed to do for me before I’d allow it.  Her room had to be made spotless.  She had to sweep the stairs and hallway downstairs.  She had to clean the cat box.  She had to clear her desk of all slime-making supplies and then vacuum the carpet in her room.  She had to put her clothes away, properly, folded neatly and in the correct drawers.
    What do you know...she did it all!  She did need a nudge here and there but she did it.  Damn it.  I’d been hoping she would falter on her assigned chores and I’d have a reason NOT to allow her friends to spend the night…but when she sets her mind to something, she’ll do whatever it takes.  On a positive note, I guess this means she’ll not be able to make any silly excuses later on when she's asked to do these things again.
    So anyway, two friends met up with her at the bowling alley.  When I was done with my league play, I’d bring the girls home.  We get home and one of them says she didn’t eat lunch or dinner before coming to the bowling alley to meet up with my daughter.  Did I have any food for her?
    Okay.  The kid’s hungry.  So I nuke corn dogs for them.  Not exactly my food of choice but at 11pm, that’s all that I had the energy to make.  They inhaled those corn dogs and then disappeared downstairs.  By now, the late night headache was setting in and I retreated to my room.  I woke up with the same headache at 7am, took three Excedrin (because sometimes two does absolutely nothing) and went back to sleep.  I got up a couple hours later and went downstairs to check on the girls.  They were all awake.  I asked if they’d like breakfast.  The Corn Dog girl says yes.  So I go make them pancakes and scrambled eggs. Then I ask them both to check in with their mothers and make sure they find out from their Moms what time they need to be ready to be picked up.  Because usually, a kid’s mother wants them back eventually, right?
    No, I guess not, maybe their mothers don’t like them too much, either or they were perfectly fine with my keeping their kids for as long as their kid would like to stay at my house.  One girl’s mother wasn’t going to be getting home from work until after three.  The other one’s mother just said for her to be home whenever I could bring her home.
    Let it be known that neither mother offered to come get their kid from my house.  I do know both mothers are drivers and are capable of saying, “Hey, you’re feeding and taking care of my kid overnight, maybe I’ll make your life a little easier and come pick her up in the morning…”  No such thing was ever said.
    So, we’re eating breakfast now…Corn Dog girl eats her eggs and my daughter’s eggs too.  My two go to their Dad’s on Saturdays, mid-day.  So I told both my daughter’s friends to tell their mothers that I would be driving them both home at 4pm because my daughter's father would be coming at 4:30 to get her.  Now, MY daughter pipes in and says, “Why do I have to go back to Dad’s?  I hate going there.”
    I shrug and tell her that it’s how it always is, they’re with me Wednesday afternoons after school through Saturday evenings and with him Sat nights until they leave for school Wed morning.  It’s a split down the middle and my house and the wasband’s are literally seven minutes’ drive apart.  It works out nicely.  Of course, until recently, BOTH kids have come home and said they hate being at his house because it’s nothing short of chaotic.  
    “Did Dad ever abuse you?”  My daughter asks me.  In front of her friends.  Six wide eyes staring at me at the same time, now.  
    “No.”  I tell her.
    While it’s not the first time I have lied to my daughter, I feel that her idea of abuse is not the same as mine.  At 11 years old, she probably thinks being abusive is limited to being violent/physical.  The wasband was not that way with me, but he was certainly mentally and emotionally abusive.  He made me feel about two inches tall for most of our marriage, to the point where divorce was a blessing.  My 17-year-old certainly can make that connection and recognize his father’s words and actions as being abusive in nature but his sister cannot.  She sees him as angry and to her, anger equals violence equals spankings.  I just told her (and her nosy friends) that her Dad and I just couldn’t get along and that was why we divorced.  He’s absolutely not an easy man to live with, but he’s still her father and he still provides for her.  
    One day, I’ll tell her that there are so many different forms of abuse, and she’ll understand more in depth how her father is.  I’m still not sure how I’m going to touch the SA topic with her, but thankfully, the wasband is not in any way involved in any of my memories of SA - this is never a mental picture she will associate with her father, and for that, I’m grateful.  I do think it’s important for her to recognize any and all kinds of abusive behavior, but it just wasn’t the right time to have a heart-to-heart with two sixth graders at my kitchen table.
    Luckily, she accepted that answer, and we went about our day.  She and her friends played outside while I showered and got ready.  I then went to Wal-Mart to pick up another string of lights for the bedroom window and then told her friends that I would now be driving them home.  Of course, all three girls tell me they’re hungry, would I hit up the Burger King drive-thru on my way?  
    Sure.  Why not?  I told them to pick value menu stuff to have as a snack.  They’d had their pancakes and eggs at 11:30am, so how damn hungry could these kids be?  Especially Corn Dog girl, this kid is a string bean and the amount of food she’d eaten at my house was insane, I wasn’t sure where she was putting all of it.
    The other girl lived furthest away, so she was the first drop-off.  I’d met her mother at the bowling alley a couple weeks ago.  Her mother was also at home at the time we arrived.  I didn’t know where to park, so I pulled up to the front of the house and while I left the engine running, my daughter and Corn Dog girl both walked their friend to the door.  They disappeared into the house.  I waited, half-expecting the mother to come outside and thank me for getting her child home in one piece.  Or wave through a window.  Or come to the door in her robe and curlers and pretend she’d been busy instead of sitting on her ass all day long while someone else took care of their child.  
    No such appearance made by this girl’s mother.  My daughter and Corn Dog girl came back out, got back into the car.  Off we went to Corn Dog girl’s house next.  
    She mumbled a quick ‘thanks’ when she got out of the car…a brief expression of gratitude that I didn’t even hear until my daughter told me later on that she did indeed thank me for allowing her to spend the night at our home.  The first girl didn’t even get that far.  No mother in the bathrobe at Corn Dog girl’s house, either.  I asked my daughter if her parents had been home.  
    “Yeah, they were both home.”  
    “I see.”  I shifted the car into drive and headed home.  I then proceeded in telling my daughter that her two friends, as nice and as lovely as they both were, need a little bit of a lesson in MANNERS and so did their mothers!  I don’t expect much from 11 year olds, but I’ve always taught MY children to be grateful to anyone who shows them kindness, anyone who feeds them, lets them come to their homes.  You not only say thank-you once, you say it many times!  My daughter may be a brat, but she’s respectful.  I also told her that the next sleep-over would take place at one of THEIR houses.  Maybe my child can teach their parents a thing or two about courtesy?
    I got home around 4pm, which was pretty much on schedule, since usually the wasband comes for kids around 4:30.  I come to find out that he had called our son while I was out being my daughter’s friends’ taxi and asked that I drop the kids off to his house rather than him come get them.  Since he and his wife were not at home at the time this request was made, I said I’d do it if he’d set a place for me at dinner - J was working a double shift, my headache had intensified and I didn’t feel like cooking for just myself.  He agreed.  
    I waited a little while, strung up the lights I’d bought at Wal-Mart and then got the kids into the car and off we went to the wasband’s house. 
    We get there and let me tell you, I cannot be more grateful for what I have now as opposed to the chaos that ensues the millisecond you walk into his house.  Not only is it usually in disarray, it’s akin to walking into a zoo and all the cages, pens and enclosures are left open.
    To start with, he has four dogs that bark and jump simultaneously as soon as they realize that there is company present, three cats that don’t make much noise but will scatter in every which direction the dogs are NOT headed in,  and when our two are with him, SIX kids running around TRYING to look busy.  Then there’s of course, him and his wife.  He can usually be seen barking out orders and everyone following directions without question - because that’s how they’re all used to it being over there.  The son usually compares his father to Hitler, and I hate to say he’s certainly onto something.  When the wasband speaks, everyone listens.  When he says, ‘jump,’ we ask ‘how high?’  There is no middle road, no negotiating.  My children have had that indoctrinated in them since they were born.  I’m the gentle, more compassionate parent and he is, and always will be, the hard-assed slave-driver.
    Anyway, aside from the dogs barking, cats running away and messy house (and I mean MESSY) there was existing drama when we arrived.  I walked into the wasband’s house and the wasband was chasing the smallest dog around the house - apparently while he and his wife were at the supermarket, the dogs had some kind of a canine pow-wow in the living room and left piss and shit and a trail of Christmas lights, garlands and decorations strewn all over the floor.  Once he managed to catch the dog and rubbed his nose into its mess, he grumbled something about how he hoped I wasn’t in a hurry because dinner would be delayed for about an hour.  I told him that was fine and I sat in the den with my daughter while he and his wife prepped dinner.
    A little while later, I hear hollering coming from the kitchen.  I look at my daughter, inquiring what happened.  Apparently wasband’s wife’s son had been given the task of checking the pork chops that wasband had breaded and placed onto the smoker to further crisp-ize.  Instead of just checking that nothing was burning, his wife’s son decided to pick up a pair of tongs and turn them, subsequently causing the crispy coating to fall off.  It likely wasn’t even his fault entirely; the smoker perhaps hadn’t been sprayed with the anti-stick stuff so the coating on the pork chops had stuck to the grill.  Anyway, the wasband lost his shit.  He went ballistic on his stepson, then turned to my son and ordered him to go and do some damage control.
    My son apparently made a wise-assed comment back to his father, alluding that entrusting his stepbrother with the task of checking pork chops was not a good idea, what did he expect?  The wasband yelled at him, too, basically threatened the well-being of our son if he didn’t learn to control what came out of his mouth.  Then he loomed over him and dared him to keep talking.  My son said nothing, instead he bit his tongue until it bled and focused on the gravy he was now preparing.  He refused to speak to his father, or even to look at him, despite the wasband’s face being inches from his, and his urging him to speak, trying to bully him into saying the wrong thing.  Still,  my son maintained his composure and continued to say nothing.
    He reminded me so much of myself right then, I have to say.  There HAD been times, although granted, not that severe, when the wasband had dared ME to speak, to go ahead and disagree with what he was saying, and I’d freeze.  I’d say nothing because, well, there WAS absolutely nothing I could ever say that was acceptable to him.  He was right, I was wrong.  Just like right now, he IS right, my son was one hundred percent wrong because he’d talked back.  And even if a small part of me secretly applauded my son for speaking up to his father, I fear for him at times.  He probably WILL catch a fist from his father one of these days, and seeing as our son is just six months shy of adulthood, if it were ever to come to blows, he’d likely end up at my house permanently because he’d not have to follow orders anymore.
    I don’t want this for my children at all.  I want them to have a relationship with their father.  A HEALTHY, loving relationship with the man I chose to be their Dad.  I want them to know their father as a kind man, but even I don’t remember him being compassionate or kind or loving toward his family whenever we weren’t around strangers or he wasn’t trying to make an impression on someone or actually mislead people into thinking he were a stand-up guy.  He’s forever complaining about the kids, about how they’ve got mouths on them (gee, I wonder why?) and how I, as their mother, need to keep them in check.
    I don’t think they’re the problem.  I know that ninety percent of the time, the wasband is the problem.  He is a product of a broken home, himself.  His mother was a drug addict, his father was physically and emotionally abusive.  His parents divorced when he was a young child and he spent quite some time in foster care before he ran away from home at fifteen.  He moved in with a relative on the east coast and eventually joined the military right out of high school.  The military mindset was quickly adopted and that, as well as what he’d been taught about home life as a child, has contributed to the molding of the person he is today - you can see why he became the difficult man he remains to be now, even though he is retired from the army and his parents are not in his life.  The wasband has such denial about it all, too.  He doesn’t see these problems.  Instead, he points fingers.  The children all see it.  They make little comments to me, in private, and all I can really do about it is listen to them and in my own way, compensate for how they’re treated by the wasband by treating them with the love and respect they deserve when they’re with me.  He says I coddle them, but if you ask me, I have to, in order to preserve whatever shred of sanity they may still have in them.  
    Sadly, I’ve concluded that in the long run, he’s going to lose their affections entirely.  That’s truly unfortunate, because my kids are good people (they didn’t learn the good behavior from him…if they had turned out to be like him personality-wise, I probably would have let him have full custody!) and I’m proud to say that I’ve taught them to always be respectful to others.  Sure, they have their moments but you know, kids are kids.  They’re going to have moments when they mouth off.  No kid is completely devoid of smart-assedness but if you ask me, this is healthy.  A kid should be able to exercise sarcasm within respectful margins, of course.  There are, however, times they slip and that’s when you, as a parent, step in and using love and logic, teach them with words, examples and explanations, how to handle the day-to-day situations as they unfold in front of them.  I’ll never teach them anger, never teach them rage, and never, EVER will they be of the impression that any form of bullying is okay.  Because this is what their father is - one big, fat bully.  
    Not only do I have to teach them how to handle things in stride, I’ve got to teach my son how to be a good man.  I don’t know the first thing about being a man, obviously, but I do know that I don’t want him to be like the wasband, who is on his third wife, who tonight I think, was in tears because it had been her son who had messed up the pork chops.  She saw him lose his shit, interrogate the poor kid, rip into him for trying to be helpful (when really, that was all he’d been trying to do, help by flipping the pork chops…)  Because he was standing there screaming at and belittling her son, she eventually took his side and hollered at him, too.  I felt horrible for him, so I made sure to let him know before I left that the pork chops tasted just fine, even if the coating had fallen off.   
    Looking at her cry, though, I see that she’s trapped, like I had once felt I was, being married to him.  It also tells me that I have to teach my daughter something that I never would have learned for myself had he not initiated the divorce, and that is how to take a stand and how NOT to allow herself to be treated by anyone, be it a man, woman or a classmate.  There is NO excuse for the way her father behaves at times, but that’s just so damn tricky to explain right now, especially to an 11 year old.  I have to search for ‘loopholes’ and explain things to her in a manner where I’m not openly bashing her father, but at the same time, teaching her the difference between good and bad parenting.  And while I teach her, I have to remember that despite her reluctance to go spend time at his house, she does love him.
    As for the wasband, there’s absolutely no hope for him as far as change goes.  He is who he is because of the poor values instilled in him as a child; all we can truly hope for is that the children I share with him have learned to be more like me than they have him.  If occasional stubbornness is all they inherit from him, then I can certainly live with that.  I just hope it doesn't get to the point where their relationship becomes irreparable, because that will truly be the point of no return.  If that were to happen, then he'd have no one to blame but himself.  The only problem?  He's never to blame!
    Listen...if you’re a parent…tell your kids you love them, every day.  Even if it is done in a one-line text or a little note in their lunch bag.  Hug them, as often as you can.  Because these hugs, even if they squirm and complain about them, are still secretly loved.  Trust me on this.  Tell them they’re amazing.  Because they are.  Even if sometimes, they’re spoiled brats.  They’re still your children and they’re going to be just like you.  And you’re amazing too, aren’t you? ;)  
    In all seriousness, it has become so much more evident that children are more likely to mimic favorable behaviors if they witness it often enough.  I know I am doing my part.  It saddens me that people like my wasband, and my daughter's friends' mothers are teaching their children to be angry, bullies and just plain rude and ungrateful.  
    Sadly, we can only control the behavior we choose to show our children and others around us.  And of course, we can also control who we invite to spend an overnight at our homes, while we're at it.
    Until next time.
    - Capulet
  21. Capulet
    Shouldn’t trigger, unless language/the discussion of guilt bothers you.  
    Today, I spoke to my mother, also known fondly as the ‘Oompa Loompa.’
    We were trying to finalize this week’s Thanksgiving plans.  A couple entries ago,  I explained how she is still breast-feeding my 30 year old sister, who just had a baby of her own.   She goes there every day, cooks for her, does the housework, the laundry, et cetera, because apparently my sister doesn’t quite know yet how to allow someone else to hold the baby while she cooks or shops or does something productive around the house.  So, my mother continues to enables her and picks up the slack of being a wife, mother, grandmother, caretaker of a newborn, cook and housekeeper all rolled into one.  
    Now, this isn’t a jab on my sister - I know we all have to learn somehow.  It’s her first baby.  I KNOW how hard it is and how overwhelming it can be when all they do is cry, cry, and CRY.  I know that sleep deprivation can render you useless at any given time…hell, I’m sleep deprived on a regular basis and don’t have a squalling infant to blame that on.  So I shrug off my feelings and tell myself she’ll know the ropes by the time her second kid arrives.  I do have to say though, the end result of my mother’s excessive coddling has been rough because now she’s exhausted and WE haven’t seen her in over a month.  The time I planned to go and see her was derailed when J and I both had a stomach bug and we wanted to remain cautious and stayed away from the baby.  Will be seeing my sister and the baby this Saturday, after Oompa Loompa comes here for Thanksgiving.  
    This entry isn’t even about my sister, though.  Or the Oompa Loompa, even though much amusement can be derived from talking about her and her shenanigans…
    Before we hung up, Oompa had some news for me.
    Her brother, my uncle, the ‘Reverend,” his unholy disgustingness, is in the hospital.   
    Little background information.  Other than looking like your classic creepy pedophile, he was always overweight and unhealthy.  He’s diabetic, has bad knees and always, always seemed to have something wrong with him.  Aside from mentally, of course.  And now, physically.  I’m surprised that no one else has the same effect from looking at him.  I personally want to literally projectile vomit whenever I see his face.  But I guess the point I’m trying to make…he was probably a fucking cat with nine or more lives in a previous life…I don’t understand why or how he’s still breathing.  If you ask me, he doesn’t deserve the air he breathes.  
    Yet, he keeps coming back to life.
    See…I remember this time from when I was eighteen and in college.  I was living at my father’s house since he lived closer to the campus.  I remember coming home from classes and my father telling me that my uncle was in the hospital, having suffered a massive heart attack earlier that afternoon. 
    He survived that massive heart attack.
    Then, when I was somewhere between 21 and 22, my grandmother passed, and we all remember the flood of emotions that overwhelmed me.  I might have cried if he didn’t survive that first heart attack, because this was before I came to realize that there was some suppressed feelings of animosity.  He was Uncle L, and I hate to admit it, but on some level, there was love for him, because that was simply what being a family member entitled you, regardless of what a piece of shit you really were.  And I know I’ve said it before but kids have unconditional affection for members of their families, especially the kids who don’t remember that they’re supposed to hate them.
    He ended up in the hospital again, after my grandmother’s death (if you read the blog entry, ‘Want Some Fries With That Invalidation?’ then you may remember a rather uncomfortable encounter I had with him there) riddled with infection, and he survived that, too.
    He underwent a quadruple bypass about three years ago.  He was told by his doctors that he was a ‘ticking time bomb’ and the bypass surgery posed multiple risks, but if he didn’t have it, he was toast…it would just be a matter of time…  Well…despite my secret prayers for a one-way ticket to hell, he survived the bypass surgery, too.
    Apparently, right now, his tiny, black heart is causing him some issues (I didn’t care to ask what kind of issues) and they admitted him into the hospital last night.  She has plans to see him the week after Thanksgiving.  In the meantime, he’s going to rot there while they run tests to try and figure out what his problem is, this time.  
    I hung up with Oompa Loompa and felt the corners of my mouth turn upwards.
    Oh, my God, guys…  I’m feeling like I’m a horrible, horrible person.  Here I am…I’m SMILING like an idiot.  I might have chuckled, too.  I don’t think I’ve laughed completely yet, but…seriously?  Am I that heartless?  Am I capable of such hatred toward another person?  A SICK person at that?  I don’t think I like that about myself.  I wasn’t raised that way.  I was raised to be warm, loving, kind.  To be gentle.  To forgive.

    Forgiveness is so tricky in this case, though.  I think I’d sooner forgive the man who SA’d me in 1996 than I would my uncle, and I can’t even remember why I hate him so much.  My brain simply denies me that information, and for now, that’s okay.
    The thought of him being in the hospital is simply delightful.  The thought of him spending Thanksgiving by himself while I spend it with my loved ones, is pure joy.  Of course, if someone in the family would go pick his disgusting ass up, he’d come spend holidays with us but at this point, even my mother, his own sister, doesn’t want to take the two-hour trek each way, because not only would she have to go pick him up, she’d have to bring him back home to his cockroach-infested shit-sty.  Not to mention she knows well enough by now that if he is there, I will not be.  
    I haven’t seen him since my sister’s (the new mother’s) wedding day.  It couldn’t be helped.  I made sure to avoid him completely.  Didn’t look at him, walked away when he walked past me in church to say hello.  I made sure to leave the room whenever he walked in.  And that’s been perfectly fine with me because I have not one shred of love left for this man and I’ve no desire to see him until he’s laid out in a coffin, or even more appropriate, a cheap-o cardboard box.  If it were up to me, that’s what he’d get, only because by law, he would have to be placed into a receptacle before being buried.  Then, I can spit into his dead, lips-sewn-shut face just before they put him in the ground.  
    And then, after he’s been buried, I, Capulet, am having a party.  My house.  You’re all invited.  Lots of junk food and laughs to be had.  I will celebrate his departure from this world, just as strongly as I mourned my grandmother’s.   
    I will have you all know, I feel terrible for having just said that.  Just plain terrible.  It’s not something that as a mother, I would ever teach my kids to feel when someone is sick, in pain or otherwise hurting.  The guilt over having said such cold things about another human being is present, but at the same time, I’ve been waiting a very, very long time for my non-human friend, Karma, to show up.  
    I just wonder…how many chances at life is this man going to get?  What has he done to deserve all of these tomorrows?  Why do so many good people suffer, and these monstrous sons-of-bitches who prey on innocent children keep on ticking?  If that’s not the most fucked up thing in the world, I don’t know what is.
    On another note, I’ve been told that his death (whenever Karma ever does do her fucking job) may bring forth a slew of memories, of actual remembrances.  Another epiphany may occur and I’ll know exactly why I hate him.  I will know why the thought of him being reduced into a pile of shit, maggots and formaldehyde makes me giddy enough to smile.  Maybe I won’t feel so guilty, if I find that later on, my suspicions turn out to be the truth I seek.  
    Is that what Karma is waiting for?  For me to be ready?  I seriously  doubt that Karma is in tune with my suppressed memories, but either way, it’s taking too damn long for this pathetic excuse of a person to succumb to his shitty health.  
    I apologize to you all if this has shined a different, unfavorable light onto me as a person.  I’ll be honest with you all, I don’t like what I hear, either, when it comes to my thoughts.  Like I said before, I never thought myself capable of taking pleasure in another’s suffering, regardless of how rotten a person they may be.  But I also promised myself that I’d never sugar-coat anything in my blogs, ever again.  
    And so, I won’t.  I am sorry if I’ve offended anybody, because as much as I hate my uncle, I also hate the people who have hurt you, too.  I want Karma to take care of ALL of them!  I’ll not lie to anyone and say I have any sympathy for their abusers’ ‘misfortunes,’ shall we say…because I don’t.  I hate my uncle and I hate that people like him are still allowed to roam this Earth, I despise that these are the people who sully our beautiful existence and make us suffer.
    On the other hand, I know so many others feel and hear these thoughts, too.  I think, though, that we all have our thirst for justice, whether it is served by way of a painful death or incarceration, it ultimately means we are free of the mental prisons these predators have sentenced us to life in.    
    I think I’m going to be extra thankful this coming Thursday when I sit down to my turkey dinner, for the fact that I can safely say that I am a good enough person to feel even the smallest amount of guilt.  It may be misunderstood, it may be unwarranted because such despicable people do not deserve any of my guilt for feeling the way I do.  I know and have accepted that there are reasons I feel this way…even if these reasons aren’t known to me, they’re there, they exist.  And I can furthermore conclude that the guilt I feel for smiling at the thought of my uncle laying in a hospital bed, alone, stems from my having learned kindness, despite a tarnished childhood. 
    I’ll be damned if I’m guilted into showing him any kindness, now.
    With that, I want to take a moment to wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving.  Whether you’re spending it with family, friends or by yourselves, I hope you’ll take a moment or two to make the day special for yourselves because you, my friends, deserve that.  I know that so many of our lives are in disarray right now, and even though we struggle with our thoughts, there is always, ALWAYS something to smile about.  
  22. Capulet
    A light blog today, just because.
    Last night, we had a laugh as a family.  It hasn’t happened in a while but, damn, it felt good!  Not saying we aren’t a family that laughs, it’s just so easy to get caught up in the more serious day-to-day routines.  Sometimes we forget to laugh, to cherish these little moments that bring us a chuckle when times become challenging.  
    As most of you know by now, we recently moved from the city and became country bumpkins this past summer.  To find a supermarket, bowling alley, restaurant, movie theater or just about any other place after five o’clock in the evening means driving down the pitch-black back roads for about fifteen to twenty minutes and bringing ourselves to the busier part of the town, where there is everything.
    Everything, except for an Applebee’s.
    For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s a popular US chain American restaurant.  They’re everywhere.  It’s J’s favorite place to get a Caesar Salad and my son’s and daughter’s favorite restaurant, overall.  I personally prefer Texas Roadhouse (which we DO have locally) but I do rather enjoy the Wonton Tacos that Applebee’s serves.  The closest Applebee’s is about 30 miles away.  So it was arranged last week that yesterday, when J got home from work, we were going to get into the car and go treat ourselves to our favorite Applebee’s meal or appetizer.  
    Let me just insert a little story-supporting factoid here - when we first moved here, J began working for Amazon.  Yes, that Amazon, the one everyone shops at online. We thought it would be pretty damn amazing, plus the 15% discount she’d get on her own Amazon purchases were a perk we would have loved to enjoy come holiday shopping time.  However, J found that the bar was set way too high and the level of training was too strenuous and strict, they not only were inadequate in their methods of teaching and left very little margin for error.  Let it be known that J is an exceptional, thorough worker and she is the type to do well in just about any job she takes on.  Amazon, though, aside from being far too physically demanding, was too fast paced and simply didn’t want to take the time to properly train their new people…let’s call them one big-ass mindfuck, because at times, she would try to maintain accuracy and her job performance was better, although slower.  They apparently rate your quality of work and her quality was not matching up to the quantity…so they basically because of that criticism, she sped things up to try and appease them and I believe the problem wasn’t in the work she was putting in, but actually the presence of technical, computer errors with her scanning device she was using.  It was entering into the system incorrectly, resulting in the “too many errors” reason they gave her when she was terminated.  She worked there for three weeks before they fired her.  Normally, she’d have argued that the termination was unfair and unjust, but at that point, after constantly feeling overworked and underappreciated by them, she’d dosed herself with a healthy amount of ‘fuckitall’ and found a different job with better hours, benefits and pay.  And a note to Amazon before I continue, in the event one of you should happen upon this post - your company SUCKS.  I will still shop on Amazon simply because you do have the best deals at times, but the way you operate is absolutely ridiculous.  You put my wife through the wringer, worked her to the point of collapse, you didn’t step up and help her make any necessary corrections when you saw she was struggling…instead, to show your appreciation for her hard work and efforts, you fired her.  Y’all ought to be ashamed of yourself and your company.
    So, anyway…back to my tale for today…on our way to Applebee’s, we passed the Amazon Warehouse.  You can see this huge, white building from the highway.  J and I both flipped off the building as we sped past it, for they are a distant, but still unpleasant memory.  
    We found the Applebee’s, went in, sat down, ordered and ate.  Everyone got their favorite meals.  The bill came to just over $100 including a tip, but everyone was happy and so it was worth it.  The kids even suggested we do this every couple of months. 
    On the way home, we were soon to pass the Amazon Warehouse again, coming from the other direction.  J was being funny and in her tour-guide voice, says, “And over to our left, we will soon see the Amazon Warehouse that fired me.  Let us all show them our middle finger in appreciation.”
    All our middle fingers went up and toward the driver’s side of the car.  
    Yes, even my 11-year-old’s little middle went up; while I’m sure I’m not in the running for any parent-of-the-year awards, I still allowed for it because I feel she’s old enough to learn to express herself if the situation presents.  Plus, she’s seen and heard f-bombs come out of my and J’s and her father’s mouths on MANY occasions.  If she can successfully watch her mouth more often than letting a word slip, then I feel she’s earned the right to use a swear word when she feels the need to.  Because to me, swearing is simply your way of not sugar-coating anything and letting someone know how she REALLY feels about something.  If you ask me, swearing is healthy, but should still be done responsibly and she should be sure not to use such language around someone who could be offended by it (an older relative, grandparents, etc) or otherwise influenced by it, for example a younger sibling.  I know that personally, I feel better if I let out a string of well-placed swears rather when I say “oh, poo.”  I normally don’t condone unwarranted displays of vulgarity, but in this case, we were sticking up (our fingers) for one of our own.  
    What we DIDN’T count on, though was the car that had pulled up next to us on the left lane.  We were in the right lane and between the Amazon Building and our car, there was now another car full of unsuspecting people who, I’m thinking, probably thought we were flipping THEM off.  And they’d rather conveniently pulled up, JUST in time to see all of our middle fingers go up at the same time.  Add to this whole funny situation, the overhead light in the car is usually on when it’s dark outside so that lip reading is made easier…which means that not only were the cars next to us able to see our raised middle fingers, anyone driving along that highway at that particular moment could also see quite clearly our little family display of expression.
    When we realized this, we all quickly put our fingers away, there were a few “oh, my GODs” and “whoopses” and then, we erupted in an uncontrollable fit of laughter.  I’m sure my and J’s faces were red with embarrassment, but as soon as the car had passed us and was already a half dozen or so car lengths’ ahead of us, we joined the kids in hysterics.  We giggled at the pure timing of it all.  At what the occupants of the other car could possibly be thinking they did to piss us off.  At what the sight of a sweet, baby-faced, frizzy haired, 11-year-old with her middle finger up must have looked like, especially with her two moms and brother’s fingers up right next to hers, all pointing in the same direction.  At least, we’d given someone else something to ponder for the evening.

    We laughed for several minutes.  We laughed until the tears rolled.  We laughed until it hurt.  
    Then we just smiled at one another, for a memory has been made and tucked away for one of those times where we feel we need to pluck them from the reserves for one of those instant-smiles, because there ARE times we scramble for one of these 'remember when?' moments.  
    And, no one got hurt or arrested, so in my book, that’s a win. 

    Live, love and laugh a whole lot.
    - Capulet
  23. Capulet
    It’s been years since I got my hair did.
    I was born with a full head of hair.  Jet black hair at birth, then it lightened some to a brown that in the summer almost appeared dirty-blonde.  My hair has been colored multiple times throughout the course of my adult life.  
    I frosted it once, by adding streaks of blonde to my naturally brunette tresses.  Wore my hair down a lot at that time, so it looked pretty good.  It was also the trend; all the 90’s high school/college gals were doing it, so I followed suit.  I know, I know.  Thank goodness no one jumped off any bridges - I was naive enough as a teenager to believe that in order to fit in, you had to follow the leader and do exactly what they were doing. You had to wear whatever they were wearing, smoke whatever they were smoking, drive whatever they drove, and so on…tough trend to break, but I managed.
    Then, I went all-red.  That was a big hit.  When done right, I can get away with red hair.  Matches skin tone and eye color nicely, if I may say so.
    I went purple, accidentally.  Purple is my favorite color, let me tell you…I have tons of purple clothes, purple sneakers I hardly wear, purple walls in my bedroom, if I could paint my car purple, I would.  But hair?  I don’t think so…see, it was SUPPOSED to be the color of Lauren Holly’s hair in ‘Picket Fences.’  Unfortunately, the stylist who colored it was either color blind or simply too clueless to effectively lighten my hair before re-coloring it….either way, I rocked the purple for a few weeks before letting it fade back into my natural color.  
    Then, I stopped trying to find the best hairstyle and color for myself and started wearing my hair the same way, every day, for over fifteen years.  Those who know me, also know this look.  I pull it all back and fasten it with a messy bun in the back.  At one point, I had bangs, to better frame my face, but lately, my bangs have been pulled back, too.  It got comfortable.  J wears her hair the same way.  We’re often mistaken for siblings.  
    I’ll add that I’m still mad at some dude at the bowling alley who asked J if I was her mother.  What the holy hell, dude?  I’m only a year older than her.  NOT cool.  Next time we bowl against your team, I’m schooling your ass, JUST for that!  Hmmph.
    A haircut consisted basically of me pulling it all back into a low ponytail and handing J the scissors.  One snip and voila, it’s a few inches shorter.  But it was always long enough to continue to wear the same hairstyle.  And for years, that was good for me, because my hair is the only part of me that is THIN.  It was thick when I was younger.  I lost a great deal of it when I was pregnant with my son.  Now that I’ve had my daughter and it’s even thinner, I’m fearful of inheriting my mother’s Oompa-Loompa haircut…HER hair is so thin that it’s the only style that covers the bald spot in the back.  I lie through my teeth whenever she came from the salon…
    “Do I look any different?” (She’ll smile at me while she’s patting her hair…and those eyes tell me that I better have noticed that it was not only cut but it was also dyed…I better have the right answer or else she’ll cut me out of her will.)
    “Oh, absolutely, Mom.  It looks fantastic.  You look like you’re twenty years younger.  I hope I can rock that look one day, too.”
    LIES.  Lies, I tell you.
    So I went online the other day and asked for some feedback on Facebook.  Everyone I’ve spoken to on this topic has told me that they think I should just go for it.  Get a new ‘do.  My hair is ALWAYS pulled back, and even so, it’s very obviously thin and it shows.  
    One darling friend posted a photo of the beautiful Halle Berry.  Her hair is longer on top and one side, the back and other side are long-buzzed.  Kinda shaved but not to the point where the hair is so short, you can see the scalp.  It’s longer on top and kind of spills over to the side that is longer.  I suppose the best way to describe it is punky, but adorable at the same time.  I like the idea of hacking off all my garbage hair and starting over with new, thicker hair.  Unfortunately, my hair is too thin, too fine to even donate to Locks of Love, so the trash is where it’ll all end up once cut and swept off the floor…I further like the idea of maybe adding some streaks of red to the longer, top part.  I feel that constantly pulling back my hair, day after day, is probably a sign that having short hair is not going to make too much of a difference.  If anything, it’d be less maintenance.  
    If I take the leap and ultimately hate it, I have plenty of hats that I can wear throughout the winter.  Hopefully in the spring, it’ll be thicker and my hacking it off in the fall won’t have been a total waste. Then I’ll be googling different hairstyles and blogging about it.
    Anyway, after careful deliberation, I did whatever I normally do before making any hasty decisions and texted the Oompa Loompa earlier today when we were on the way home from our weekly shopping excursion, and shared the picture with her. 
    “I don’t know, it looks a little butch.”  She replies in the text back.  For added effect, feel free to add Doris Roberts’ classic Marie Barone voice.  Then she says, “Why don’t I get you a makeover for Christmas?  We can do some research and find another one that doesn’t look so…manly?”
    Mind you, my mother has seen me shop for my tee-shirts in the mens’ department for as long as I could remember.  She knows that getting me to wear a dress is like trying to peel the white off of rice.  She knows that I find shopping for shoes, purses, bras, anything ‘feminine’ to be about as much fun as a root canal.  She knows that I loathe parties or being invited to parties because it usually means I have to plan for those aforementioned ‘root canals.’  My dress-donning days are over, though.  Both of my sisters got married a few years ago and I was bridesmaid to both.  One dress has been donated to Goodwill and the other one narrowly escaped the burn pile, only because I’d buried it so far back in my closet and couldn’t find it when it came time to make these abominations a distant memory.  I still have the shoes, though, shoes that I never will wear again and only save so my godchild can use them when she plays dress-up.
    I’m just amazed at how much my mother, even though she’s accepted my lifestyle and has accepted J as my same-sex partner, is still a little too concerned about my image or what I wear, or that I don’t wear make-up.  Too often I’ve heard that I had to look “pretty” or dress up because someone was having a 90th birthday party next month and it wouldn’t be appropriate to wear ‘those ugly shoes’ or ‘those pants that make you look like a man’ or the same shirt you wore to Aunt Bertha’s funeral.  
    bit*h, please.  If they’re lucky enough to make it to 90, they aren’t going to give too many shits about what I’m wearing!  But you kind of see where I’m going with this…it’s always the same with her.  If I look or act like an idiot, it reflects badly on her and we can’t have that, now, can we?
    Back to the picture I showed her of Halle Berry…it is by no means masculine…at least, not to me.  It’s sleek, neat, elegant almost.  It’s gorgeous.  A given - I do not look like her in any way.  In fact, I am the complete opposite of Halle Berry.  She’s tall, I’m short.  She’s thin, I’m not. I can add to this list, but the gist of what I’m getting from my mother’s comment - the hair may look good on Halle Berry but on me, it looks ‘butchy.’  
    I almost instantly got annoyed as soon as that text came in and had to refrain from throwing my phone through the windshield.  J was driving and listening to music and at the same time, me swearing.  If only my mother knew how many times she has been the cause of my random swearing outbursts and my poor wife has had to listen to me come up with creative new ways to cuss out my mother.  Ay yi yi yi yi…  
    Eventually J asked why I cared so much about what my mother thought and why her opinion mattered so much.  
    I don’t even know the answer to that.

    See, if you ask me, she cares too much about what HER friends think.  I’m pretty sure she will tell everyone the success stories of her other two ‘normal’ daughters, before she talks about the one who was married at 21, divorced at 29, with a new partner at 30, oh, and let’s not forget that her new partner is the same sex, too.  Don’t get me wrong, she’s been wonderful around J and fully supports my decision to hop on over to the ‘dark side’ but I can’t help but suspect she doesn’t worry about the images of her other two daughters as much as she does mine.  
    I mean, one sister married an alcoholic three-year-old (says on his birth certificate that he’s thirty-something, but he often throws tantrums and acts as if he’s three) that looks like the title character of ‘Where’s Waldo?’ with this ridiculous ponytail we all envision cutting off one day, just because.  They already have one kid (who really is three) that was diagnosed with autism.  You’d think my sister would have enough sense to give up her theater days but she feels more comfortable dumping my autistic nephew into my mother’s care while she continues to pursue her dreams of someday becoming a Broadway star.  She got started with her crooning and performing when she was about four or five years old and no one has had the heart to tell her that she has about as much natural talent as a drunk banshee.  And even better - she’s currently pregnant with her second kid, another child that my mother will likely have to raise because she’s too busy running lines instead of a household.  She doesn’t cook.  She doesn’t clean.  She just sings badly.  My brother-in-law will pick up most of the slack at home, but even he’s annoyed and I’ve had to come to the conclusion that she is the main cause of his childish tantrums.  That just isn’t a stable situation at ALL.  
    Now, let’s talk about Sister number two.  This is the sister that I feel closer to, even though she’s further away in age from me than sister number one.  One, unfortunately has no filter on her mouth and often comes across as an overly critical piece of work.  This results in a lot of family tension and dirty looks from my children.  Two is more soft-spoken and knows when to hold her tongue.
    So, naturally, Sister number two is an overall better person and a more enjoyable person to be around.  She did marry a much nicer, better-looking, sweeter man.  They welcomed a daughter last month. Both are medical professionals.   They have a nice house that they paid way too much for.  About a week after the birth of their daughter, he had to return to work, so Sister number two calls up Mama, who, in turn, drops everything and rushes over there to help her care for the baby.  And this, I understand….we ALL need a little extra help when a new baby arrives.  But, man, oh, man she milks it.  Just like for years before she got married, she milked it.  She lived at home until the day she was married, even though she and her husband had an apartment already.  She spent most of her time at Mom’s house, eating Mom’s food and letting Mom take care of her laundry, pack her lunches for work, etc.  Her reasoning was, ‘Mom’s house was closer to her job,’ but I know that it’s simply because my mother enables her ‘let Mommy take care of it’ behavior.
    I wanted to go and see the little one last week and Mom texted me the day before to ask what I was bringing.  “Say what?” I ask.  Mom proceeds in telling me that Sister number two doesn’t cook, either.  Apparently, for the last month, my mother, as well as any visitors who have gone to see her has brought some kind of prepared-to-heat meal for her.  And it would be most helpful if I could throw together a lasagna or something that she could pop in the oven for dinner one night.
    “Mom,” I said, “She’s thirty years old.  She’s not the first woman on the planet to reproduce.”
    My mother made as many excuses as possible.  She’s tired, she just had a baby, her husband is working all the time, she’s overwhelmed, she’s a first-time mother, baby won’t let her do anything.…  Meanwhile I’m not buying that because well, isn’t my mother also there, every single damn day?  Can’t she hold the baby while my sister cooks her own dinner???  Then she starts with, “Your other sister brought her a pot pie the other day from Costco…because you know she doesn’t cook.”
    “Neither does this one, obviously!”
    “Out of the three, you’re the cook.  So maybe you can bring her something yummy.”
    I probably would have, because I’m nice.  But, I ended up not going to see my niece because both J and I came down with a stomach bug.  I’ve got plans to see her on Thanksgiving weekend, though.
    But I got to thinking about how much she enables those two for things that are far more serious than a dress or a haircut.  
    Look…when I had my son at 21, I took care of him.  My then-husband went to work every day and I was alone with a colicky child all day.  I shopped, did laundry for and prepared dinner for a family of five. (Husband and his two older children in addition to me and an infant = 5) I took the baby as well as his older two children to doctor appointments, took them to school, picked them up.  It wasn’t a paying job but it was a job.  I didn’t have a singing hobby on the side.  I think I called my mother to babysit only a handful of times when hubby and I would have our bowling night but as far as hobbies go, that’s about all I did with that three hours of freedom per week.  She used to complain that she didn’t see my children enough.  Now her biggest complaint is my having moved 2 hours away from her, from both sisters, and she feels even less needed by me.   They, and their children consume so much of her time and she often expresses anger at my moving so far away because I’m not there to help her help them.  Of course, she masks it all by saying she misses me.  I’m sure she does, but I think she’s just bitten off more than she could chew and spread herself too thin, simply because she is trying to uphold her idea of what the image of a perfect mother and grandmother is like.  She delights in hearing what other people have to say about her, it’s her way of making sure she’s successful.
    “What did your friend think of me?”  She’ll ask me after she’s met one of my friends.  I usually have to lie because any one of my friends already knows my mother before they meet her in person.
    “They want a mother just like you.”
    “I’m the best.”  She’ll say.
    The best enabler, maybe.  The best whiner.  The best pain in my ass.
    Meanwhile, what kind of an image have I provided for these two sisters of mine?  There’s me who is so used to dealing with things my own damn self…and then there’s these two who, because they allowed her to take over and be such a dominant figure in their married lives, have proven themselves useless and far too reliant on my mother.  And in turn, my mother meddles just enough within their lives to make herself look good in the process.  
    I’m pretty sure that in her world, there’s a lot of “Oh, would you look at that?  Look at Vee’s daughter, such a talented singer…and she’s got children at home, too!”  Or, “Look at this one, just had a baby, can you imagine how rough she has it, she juggles a newborn, long hours and prescriptions!”  Then of course when it comes to me, she’s afraid of hearing, “Oh…that one…she doesn’t have a job.  She’s home all day, she’s a bit of a hermit…and she’s just got a butch haircut.  Sssh.  I think she’s a lesbian.”
    Well…guess what?
    I don’t care.  I don’t give a shit.
    I don’t care what image my having short hair puts forth.  If it makes me look like the son she never had, then so be it.  
    I don’t care if I end up hating it because the sight of a pissed off Oompa Loompa will look funnier than me, any day.  Plus, hair grows back, so it’s not a life sentence.  
    At the end of the day, I care only what J thinks.  And she already has the image of me that she wants.  Hair isn’t something that matters to her.  Looks don’t matter to her.  (If they did, she would have chosen Halle Berry, hands-down.) 
    I already have the image of myself that I need.  I’m Vee’s daughter, but I’m also me.  I’ve worked hard to be the highly perceptive person I am today.  My sisters may be the ones with careers, but life-wise, I can safely say I’m smarter.  Aside from being the oldest, I’m sure a lot of life experiences have contributed to my being the way I am, and I’ve accepted that a long time ago.  From the time I got married too young, I’ve marched to the beat of my own drum.  I think the outcome you see in me today is truly a result of having broken away from Mama’s clutches before she could do any further damage.  
    It didn’t take too much longer than the drive home from Walmart, but I’ve decided that by the end of this week, I’ll have a new ‘do.  I’ll be sure to post whether Mama survives the heart attack she’s likely to have when I Face-Time her to show her my new haircut.  
    Maybe she’ll surprise me and say she loves it.  (I do have to keep in mind, I’ve lied to her about liking her haircuts for years.)  Maybe she can do the same for me.  I wouldn’t even care if she lied. 
    I just need her to stop trying to mold me into a person that I’m not.  
    Just like you simply can’t shape clay that’s already hardened into its permanent form.  
    Until next time,
    - Capulet
  24. Capulet
    Let it be known that we have five adopted pets that I adore with all of my heart.  All of them are currently of the feline species, but contrary to the title of this blog entry, none are named ‘Peeves.’  
    I think though, that in the future, I’ll consider calling a kitten by the name of Peeves, simply because the term ‘pet peeves’ is not only a humorous play on words, it’s my favorite way to describe those itty bitty details that annoy me to no end.  Not to say that a kitten would add to my level of annoyance.  Not at all.  I am a complete sucker for kittens.  They’re cute, they’re playful and I’m proud to say I’ve bottle-fed my share of kittens and rescued and still have a couple others.  I just think it’ll be kind of cool to refer to an actual pet as ‘Peeves.’  I like to think I’m creative that way. 
    On a serious note, let it also be known that cats are the most blunt little assholes you’ll ever come to know and love.  They don’t sugar coat anything.  They let you know when they’re pissed off.  They knock shit off of the countertops while looking you in the face at the same time.  They challenge you.  They take chances.   They turn any room in the house into their own personal playground, regardless of how many times you’ve tried to offer them alternatives.  They take turns playing ‘chase me!’ in the middle of the night when everyone else is trying to sleep.  By now we know that any random crashing or shattering of objects during the wee hours is the likely result of having five nocturnal children who have no idea the difference between a dollar-store figurine or that vase passed down by your great grandmother from Italy.  Buy them a thirty to fifty dollar scratching post only to find they prefer to scratch the side of the $1200 couch, instead.  Order them a fancy-schmancy cat toy, they’ll show you gratitude by demonstrating that they prefer the plain old cardboard box it arrived in, instead.  Cats are highly intelligent little shits that KNOW it annoys you when they do these little things, and frankly, they don’t give a damn.  You can holler all you want at a cat and in return, you get a view of their behind when they walk away from you.  They simply don’t care.  
    I think these little jerks are onto something, though.  
    One male cat we have is highly temperamental about his back paws being touched.  We can pet him anywhere and he will purr like there is no tomorrow, but when we get anywhere near the back paws, he’ll give us that look that tells us that if we proceed, we WILL require stitches.  Another cat we have is very apprehensive in general about any new people he encounters, but absolutely loathes my ex-husband.  Which, of course, we don’t blame him for.  He’s not our favorite person, either.  My ex has tried to pet him, only to be rewarded with the full-on, ears-back hiss that would make even the lion tamers at the circus think twice.  Then we have three female cats that each have their own specific quirks of their own.  One of them, a rescue, doesn’t like to be touched at ALL.  She will however allow you to pet her for no more than two seconds before she decides that she’s had enough of the likes of you and she’ll saunter off.  There’s one who will sit at the table thinking we will give her food (and she’s usually right, we end up tossing her some scraps) and there’s our oldest girl, that doesn’t care if you have had a hard day or are simply too tired to pay her any extra attention…when she wants affection from you, she will demand it by plopping herself on whatever pillow she wants, even if your head is already on it.  
    I think, basically, what I’m trying to say is - a cat will effectively let you know when it’s time to back off, and they have no fear of making you aware when something bothers them.  They don’t care if they offend you in the process.  It is after all, not about you at all. 
    I think this is something I need to teach myself.  I never want to offend anyone, especially when I know that to be bothersome is not the initial intent.  I’ve done a lot of apologizing over the years for times I’ve reacted unfavorably to something done by someone else.  I’m also of the belief that some of these little peeves are as a result of my history, leading me to the creation of this entry/post.  
    Here’s an example of one of my personal peeves…
    My lovely wifey, J, and I go bowling twice a week.  When we go bowling, it’s mostly just to get out and have fun…but at the same time, it’s a league so there is the competitive element behind it all.  However, it’s not that competitive that we can’t show decency, respect and sportsmanship.  When someone from the opposing team throws a strike, the nice, sportsman-like thing to do would be to hold your hand out for them to ‘five;’ it’s a league thing and simply a nice thing to do.  Every league I’ve been on has this unwritten rule, or a code, for lack of a better word.  Anyway, I’m fine with showing sportsmanship even if my team isn’t doing well at that time.  
    So, that being said, let’s rewind to last Friday’s bowling night.  We were getting slaughtered.  Not only was the other team bowling WAY higher than their averages, we, in turn, had forgotten that the purpose of bowling was to knock down all ten pins.  None of us were marking (getting a strike or spare = 'mark') and we were all kind of thinking to ourselves why we sucked so badly.  Anyway…I hold my hand out next time one of the guys on the opposing team throws a pocket shot.  He comes back and instead of the traditional quick hand tap, his ‘five’ seemed more like a ten or a fifteen.  His hand kind of lingered on top of mine.  Now, I know that’s not something that would normally bother someone (or is it?) but I didn’t like that at all.  Still, I’m certain the guy didn’t mean anything by it.  If anything, he was being overly friendly.  
    If I was a cat, though, I probably would have hissed and let them know with a unexpected swat that that didn’t please me.  But then that would have raised the question of my sanity above all.
    Instead, the next time he threw a strike, I decided to change things up a little.  I still held my hand out, but decided that I was going to call the shots.  A five is a five.  Not a ten or a fifteen.  Not a caress.  Not a palm reading.  Not a let’s-hold-hands-now moment.  Nope.  A five is a five.  And that’s IT.  

    So my hand is out.  He goes to tap it.  As soon as his fingers touched the palm of my hand, I pulled it back and did not afford him the opportunity to make it last any longer than the second of contact.  Done.  I am all done, sir, and so are you. 
    I am entirely comfortable with sharing little pet peeves with J.  In fact, she does this thing with cutting her nails with the little metal clipper we have in our end tables.  The noise it makes…I don’t know.  I guess while some have issues with nails on a chalkboard, the clipping of nails has the same effect on me.  No idea why.  Being avid bowlers, we aren’t long-nail type ladies, so we both trim regularly.  I’m not bothered when I cut my own; maybe because mine aren’t as thick as hers.  I don’t even hear it when I do cut my own fingernails.  But when she does hers and I’m nearby enough to hear it, I literally want to break something.  She’s gotten around to apologizing when she cuts her nails.  I’m sure it’s because she knows I’m trying to suppress the urge to walk away.  She knows I love her with every fiber of my being though, and if this is the only thing she does that annoys me, then I can live with that.  
    But this is even more important to take note of - this little peeve is something she thoroughly knows about as opposed to the days where I’d say nothing whenever something bothered me.  It should be always okay to share what bothers you.  I also feel that now, I am able to share without fear of offending her.  I know that because she has made me aware of things that I do that irk her, too.  Even if they’re not things that cause her discomfort, she can find the humor in the situation and we can laugh comfortably about it.  
    For example, my obsession with having TOTAL, PITCH BLACK darkness when it’s time to go to sleep.  
    Huh?  Okay, let me tell you about that, too.
    I’ve NO idea where this even came from.  My mother knows about this, as it’s been a thing of mine for as long as I can remember.  She refers to it as light-sensitivity.  I don’t know if that’s even a thing.  Is Count Dracula my father?  Because when it comes to light, even the littlest dot of light (like the power button to the cable box that even when the cable box is off, remains illuminated) I need to NOT see it when I’m trying to fall asleep.  I need to see nothing.  NOTHING at all.  It’s gotten to the point that sleeping somewhere else where I cannot control where any/all light may be coming from, is a nightmare.  I will go to lengths to avoid sleeping anywhere other than my own bed.  A visit to my mother’s house or even to the in-laws’ house is always dreaded, even if I have two or three weeks’ advance notice.  I’d sooner stay in a hotel, I think partially because I always feel nothing short of complete and total embarrassment having to do this nightly darkening ritual on someone else’s turf.  You can ask J about the time we went to Disneyland and I had to stand on a chair to cover the light on the smoke alarm.  It didn’t matter then because I wasn’t in someone’s home and I didn’t have to worry about them waking up to discover a well-placed sock on top of their DVD player.
    Even at home before bedtime, I’m going around the room, draping t-shirts or other items of clothing over the cable box, over the clock, over any little teeny tiny red or green dot that I can find.  This is of course, in addition to the drapes being closed, the blinds shut, any and all lights in the hallway turned off.  In the event that a hallway light is left on for whatever reason (a guest, kids still being up, etc) I will resort to blocking the light from underneath the door by laying a pair of pants across the floor at the foot of the door.  J will sit in bed and wait patiently while I do all of these things.  There are times when I’ll THINK I got them all and ten minutes after crawling into bed I’ll realize, NOPE!  There’s a little light on my cell phone flashing and I’ll get up and cover that, too.  I know she laughs at me, but that’s okay.  Is there anyone else who is like this?  I mean, I know there are some who prefer a little night light but this?  I don’t like bright lights.  I kinda feel like that cute, but skittish little Mogwai dude from Gremlins.  Bright lights!  Bright lights!  No bueno.  I prefer the soft ambient lights to those damn brights, any day.  
    Sunlight is not my friend, either.  I’m known to chain-sneeze whenever I step outside after being inside/unexposed to direct sunlight for an extended period of time.  That’s not a peeve, though, that’s a fact.  It’s called Achoo Syndrome.  And believe it or not, it’s actually a thing and it’s supposedly genetic.  My son and nephew are also sufferers of such a syndrome.  
    Mmm…I am also reminded that somewhere in Long Island, there is a nail salon that employs an Asian woman who was accidentally kicked in the face because she made the mistake of trying to massage my feet and toes during a pedicure.  I think it was one of the first times I’d ever gotten around to getting my feet done and it would also be the last for a very long while.  And fortunately for this poor woman, it was the last time I ever showed up at that particular establishment.  I did leave her an extra tip for her troubles, though. 
    I guess I don’t like my back paws touched, either.  Let’s add that to the list, while we’re at it.  I purposely avoid pedicures now, to protect other manicurists from suffering the same fate.    
    As I write this, my cats are asleep at the foot of my bed.  They’re such fascinating little creatures.  So full of personality.  So honest.  You know when they’re happy.  You know when they’re sad, scared, nervous.  You certainly know when they’re hungry or thirsty.  And you damn well know when they’re pissed off.  I admire how these cats fully grasp the concept of conveying their feelings.  I wish it was that simple for the human race.  Ever think about how much more simple life would be if we were all masters of that thing called communication?   
    How do you guys reckon a peeve is even born?  How does it develop?  How do you work through them?  (That is, assuming you don’t hiss, bite or scratch. If that’s your way, then my cats have already explained that part to me.)  
    Just a few things to ponder for tonight.  Hope everybody’s doing well.  Time for me to go cover some lights.
    - Capulet
  25. Capulet
    *Trigger warning - this very lengthy post discusses some of my broken up/fragmented memories and behaviors as a child.  No actual CSA details are shared, simply because I can’t remember any.  But some of these memories may be triggersome and I ask you all to please take gentle care while proceeding. 
    Today, I want to talk about something called validation.  Or the lack of, when it’s otherwise referred to as its counterpart - invalidation.  This is a term known all too well by survivors of sexual abuse and the many ugly forms it takes.
    Validation is something we seek more than we do most other things.  It’s that priceless feeling of being given air when we’ve been deprived underwater for long enough that we feel close to drowning.  It’s a form of relief that doesn’t come easily and I don’t know if I’m divulging a huge secret here - but it’s what we, as survivors, want more than anything else as we heal from the emotional turmoil that we now recognize as a permanent stain in the fabric of our lives.  
    Looking back at myself when I was a child saddens me.  Not only did I have the worst haircuts and a wicked overbite, I also had secrets that although I knew they were very real for me, they wouldn’t be considered normal if I were to be compared to my peers.  It wasn’t as easy as comparing stickers in an album or whose Barbie doll had nicer clothes or who had more charms on those 80’s plastic charm necklaces (remember those?).  My questions for them were ones that I knew even as a child that it was inappropriate to ask.  And so, I didn’t.  I said nothing, I went on thinking that I was different, I was crazy, I was the weird one. 
    You see, as an adult, I now have too many thoughts, too many contributing factors, too many suspicions preventing me from throwing up my arms and walking away from it all.  Especially since I cannot remember the possibility of certain events or occurrences that would have caused me to react in certain ways.  But even I can’t lie to myself anymore and say that there’s nothing there.  If I don’t have memories, then there’s nothing to remember, right?
    Wrong, wrong, WRONG on so many levels.
    I do not remember the circumstances nor the order of events, but I know now that something was truly off in the early years.  That’s the only explanation I can give for my subsequent behaviors as a young child.  There was something wrong with me.  Something happened, and I can’t say what the cause was for every effect, but overall, I know this…children don’t behave in an unnatural manner unless this behavior is learned or otherwise adopted as a means of self-preservation or coping.  Children do not come equipped with the knowledge or understanding or even the correct words to explain or describe their feelings.  No, that comes much later on in adulthood, and usually not before they are able to identify that what happened to them was likely a result of sexual abuse.
    And now, I’ll talk about the things and behaviors I do recall, now that I’m at least thirty years older and wiser.  I’m sure many people wonder why I dredge it up, why now, after so many years have gone by and nothing is going to be done about it?  Why not just forget it?  
    I’ll answer that, first. Partially it is because I still feel like I personally, for my own peace of mind, need to make sense of it all.  It’s part of the fine-toothed comb method of analyzing myself as an individual, identifying my past and present behaviors and trying to make sense of them so that I can finally move on, only this time with a wealth of information that will enable me to accept things that I can now recognize as facts.  Another part of me wants to be heard, to be believed, and to be validated.  I guess it all falls within the whole theme of this post. 
    One day, when I was a child, I remember being asked by an adult (unsure of what role she played…Was she a teacher?  A counselor or therapist?) why, during playtime, I made the Ken doll inappropriately touch the Skipper doll.  When asked who Ken was supposed to be, I said, “my uncle.”  I remember my mother being called.  And then, I never saw that lady again.
    I do remember soon after that, two different ladies showing up at my house with questions.  One of them pointed between her legs and asked me if I knew the name of that body part.  There was an investigation, not sure if it was official or unofficial, as no one ever took the time to explain to me why they were asking me such questions.  I do not know what went on behind-the-scenes, I was never made privy to any of that information, not back then and certainly never after it was all over.  I do recall my mother feeling the need to speak for me, though, possibly because as an individual, she is constantly trying to keep the peace, even if it means sweeping things under the rug.  I don’t know whether she fully understood the seriousness of the situation, or chose to turn a blind eye because it was something she couldn’t handle properly.  Either way, she convinced me, and quite possibly herself, that I, at the age of six, had miscommunicated the situation.  Had he only “smacked” my rear end because I didn’t behave?  To that, I answered yes.  Because my genitals/behind were in the same general area, that seemed an acceptable answer to these investigators.  Then, I remember nothing further, after I eventually told the ‘investigators’ myself, from my six-year-old mouth, that it had all been a horrible mistake.  
    I do believe that whatever had been going on prior to this, ended here.  Nothing more was done.  I maintained a relationship with my uncle. I saw him at family gatherings, I saw him at holidays.  A lot of time was spent together.  He used to take me to movies.  I remembered NOTHING from before the investigations, even though I would have been more likely to remember things back then, being only a few years away from the actual time frame where this would have occurred.  I’d remember more back then, wouldn’t I?  Certainly I couldn’t make more sense of it now that so many years have passed?  Time has repeatedly proven that theory incorrect.
    Even though I had no concrete memories of the possible causes, the ‘abnormal’ behaviors continued in the background.  And this is where it used to be embarrassing or shameful to share.  I mean, who would?  It’s private, personal stuff that would have been the exact reasons my classmates picked on me or made fun of me when I was a child and that would have been my worst nightmare.  And so, I said nothing, I held on to my secret behaviors, I hid them from every living soul.
    I, however, am now at a point in my life where I want to console, and also, validate that younger version of myself and tell her that I now understand why.  I understand why she repeatedly soiled herself, mostly during the elementary school years.  I understand why her hands wandered, mostly in the bathtub.  I understand why she craved the feeling a climax/orgasm provided, craved it enough to bring it on herself when she was as young as eight years old.  And I understand why this behavior continued all the way until she was in high school.  I understand now why I was brought to my first therapist when I was also around eight.  What I DON’T understand is why the therapy ended so abruptly a couple years after that.  I can only assume that since a resolution was never presented, that perhaps she was getting too close and it was nipped in the bud before any more ‘damage’ could be done.  I suppose that’s laughable considering how much had already been done.  
    The days, months, years that followed made me further question myself and who I was as a child.  For the most part, I knew that I was me.  But I also knew there was something very wrong with me.  Something that I didn’t have the tools to explain, and wouldn’t otherwise recognize until I was much older, much smarter and much more aware of the sick and twisted world we live in.  
    It all came to a head when my son was just under a year old.  My Grandmother’s death played a very strange role in my coming to terms with what very possibly happened to me at the hands of my uncle.  Let me explain.  When she was alive, she lived in a 2-family house, he resided in the apartment upstairs from her.  They had every meal together.  She took care of him.  He never married, he never had a family of his own.  He basically had his mother prepare every meal for him, he would come downstairs only to eat, or whenever we came over, but for the most part, he was a hermit living the better part of his days in that shit-sty he called home.  He was/is a priest, for crying out loud…a priest.  *insert the bright red flags here!*  He was never a ‘real’ priest to me.  He didn’t get paid to do what he did, he had a small chapel in his apartment upstairs.  He said mass daily, in his chapel, to a congregation of statues.  I am remembering he had the Blessed Mother, Jesus, Joseph, other saints in statue form, and more often than not, those made up the audience he preached to.  He didn’t belong to any church we could have visited him at.  If you ask me, he was entirely full of shit, he was a fake, he wasn’t a good person, and I could tell this of him without any of the past examples that still fester in the darkest corners of my mind today. But regardless, he was my uncle and a part of me loved him even if only for that reason.  His faults and shortcomings were overlooked, because a child’s affections are unconditional.  
    (And now that I think of it, this is probably where most of my issues with religion and faith come from!  But, that’s a topic for another time.)
    Anyway, Grandma fell ill when I was in my very early twenties.  It was ultimately complications from her osteoporosis that she passed away from, and devastated us all.  I was married to my (now ex) husband and we had our son, who was just under a year old.  The time came for us to go through her belongings, so I went to the house she shared with him to sort through what I might want to keep of hers.
    As soon as we walked in, it was like, a flip had been switched.  From off to ON.  The workings of the mind have always been fascinating to me, but this was by far the most intriguing self-realization that I’d ever experienced.  
    All of my Grandmother’s belongings were gone.  The room that used to be her bedroom was now empty and he had transferred those stupid statues from his chapel upstairs to downstairs, and there they all were, where my Grandma used to sleep, not even a week prior.  There was Jesus, Mary, Joseph, St. John the Apostle, other people from the Bible I didn’t know the names of nor did I ever want to know their names, having always experienced a sort of a mental block whenever it came to learning religion.  
    That wasn’t even what did it, though.  I looked at him and listened to him as he shared his plans to expand his chapel and to make the entire downstairs his own personal space.  All this when my Grandma hadn’t been dead a week, yet.
    At this moment, an overwhelming, freezing feeling came over me.  It hit me like a speeding train.  What was once dark was now bright and was staring me in the face.  Everything in me tightened, even the muscles in my brain.  It’s so difficult to explain but perhaps that was the part of my brain that held onto what I only knew and still know as only possibilities.  Either way, thoughts were coming at me from multiple directions, almost comparable to the image of a stuffed animal, tied to a post and arrows being shot at it from every available angle.  None of these arrows caused me (if we’re using the stuffed animal analogy, then that would be me) any pain, but to remove them all would have left behind multiple holes.  Holes, that I know can be patched up in time but never will this stuffed animal be the same.  No, not when now, this stuffed animal, this wounded creature, now sees these holes.
    I realized at that moment that I loathed this man.  My uncle, the priest.  The man I spent so much time with when I was a very young child.  The man who used to walk over at night and tuck me in before bedtime.  FYI, I attribute this time frame to be from when I was about three to four years old, because I remember my mother to have been single at that time.  He was the default babysitter/caretaker while she worked or was otherwise busy, which was easy, considering we lived in a tiny little studio apartment around the corner.  He’d have made comments about how he used to come tuck me in at night, and when asked about it now, I don’t remember.  I don’t remember him coming over at night AT ALL.  So what else was there that I didn’t remember?  That, along with other things, flooded my memories and I found myself having to sit down while I processed these new thoughts.
    I hated him, I hated how he looked, I hated how he SMELLED.  He has a birthmark on his hand.  I hate that birthmark, too, it makes me feel uncomfortable.  It makes me feel uneasy, sick to my stomach.  My feelings of hatred were joined by feelings of nausea and I had to keep myself from vomiting all over St. Anthony’s porcelain sandals.  I left there that afternoon and in the weeks that followed, I found myself questioning all of the behaviors I’ve talked about so far.  Was this the reason?  Was this why I was taken to therapy?  Why can’t I remember if he did anything to me to cause this overpowering feeling of hatred?  It’s not something I enjoy admitting that I feel about another human being but there’s no alternative word that fits.
    So here’s the dilemma.  At this point, I can’t remember details.  I don’t know what he did to me.  I’m fairly certain something happened but have absolutely no evidence to support it.  So I kept a distance.  I began to decline his invitations to go for lunch, to come for a visit.  It was progressive, but it was made clear to him that now that my Grandmother was no longer living, there was absolutely no reason for me to go to the house anymore.  And so, I saw very, very little of him in the few years following her death.
    Aside from the epiphany I experienced at my late Grandmother’s house, there have been very minimal “telling” moments, one of which came at a time the sonofabitch got sick, himself.  He was hospitalized, and my mother called to strong-arm me into going to see him.  Out of respect for her, and because he was her last living relative, I agreed to go and see him.  I told my husband to leave the car running and went up by myself.  I went to his room, where I found him laying in the bed alone.  He wore a gown.  He looked like the most pathetic excuse for a human being I’d ever seen in my life. 
    I sat in a chair, saying nothing.  I think I managed a weak “hello, how do you feel?”  It might have come out as one word.  “Hellohowyafeelin’?”  Either way, I was not there for him or for myself.  I was there for my mother, because I knew it would have made HER happy that I was there.
    He started sobbing.  His shoulders heaved.  He blubbered something about how sorry he was that we were enemies.  He then says in between tears that he didn’t mean it.
    I didn't know what the hell to do with that.  I told him that M had the car running because there was no parking.  I had to go.  I couldn’t sit there any longer.  And so, I got up and left.  I didn’t look back.  
    I did the next best thing that I could do for myself.  I cut him out of my life, completely this time.  I refused to visit him anymore.  I did not respond to any of his emails, his phone calls, his letters.  There was a point in time where he sought me out on Facebook and tried to initiate a conversation.  I deleted it without answering.  He may be still living on this Earth, but to me, he’s dead.
    I wasn’t and still am not ready to share with my mother my reasons for losing my shit whenever I hear that he’s going to be present at a family function such as a wedding or a funeral, these things cannot always be helped, but I’m ALWAYS requesting that he be seated as far across the room from me as possible.  She has asked why I’m so angry with him and I admittedly hide behind my Grandmother’s death and tell her that I have a hard time dealing with how he was able to move on so quickly and so disrespectfully, I didn’t like how he treated her when she was alive.  Of course, there’s a whole lot more than that, more reasons that I don’t dare share with her.  For now, that quells her and she knows now that I want nothing to do with him.  Additionally, if I can’t help the situation, (him being at the same family gathering as me) I do not allow him near my children, even though they are past the age where most damage can be done.  Still.  I don’t want him looking at me, I don’t want him looking at them, telling THEM how much they look like me.  I want none of that, as much as I want answers, I want the truth, I want validation!
    Here’s the tricky thing about validation, though.
    When you have no concrete memories, how do you  know the validation you receive is of the truth?  Just because it’s your own truth, doesn’t make it one hundred percent accurate.  And that is one of my fears.  I don’t know that I want validation for something that I question, something I have doubts about.  I need to be sure.  I need my truth to BE the truth.  I’ve asked myself that if he were to confess, would that be enough for me?  Was what he said in the hospital the closest thing I would ever get to a confession?  
    As of today, it is.  So I’m going with that.  
    In closing, I can’t help but wonder what a difference it would have made if I’d had the validation I didn’t know I needed when I was a little girl.  Validation from my mother, who instead of being the number one protector in my life, became my first invalidator.  Validation from the stupid-ass therapist I saw for two years, who obviously didn’t know how to do her job correctly.  (And I say this knowing that I don’t have the full story.  She may have said or attempted to say something that resulted in the subsequent pull from therapy.)  Either way, I have no answers there.  
    And so, I shall remain forever invalidated by my mother.  I will maintain the not-too-close, not-too-estranged relationship I have with her, because let’s face it…she’s my mother and I do love her.  She does a lot for me and for my children (perhaps out of guilt she’ll never admit to) and continues to do a lot for us today.  She did not physically harm me.  She did what she felt needed to be done at the time for my own protection, not necessarily the best course of action, but I accept it as the ONLY thing she felt she could do.  I imagine it got too overwhelming for her, so she threw up the blinders and hoped for the best.  I know that, now.  
    I can safely say that not only because of childhood, but because of other contributing factors, my trust has to be earned, and her actions have made it very difficult for me to trust her.  And so, given she did not effectively protect me as a child, I continue to refuse to share with her other things that have happened, things unrelated to my uncle and his suspected abuse.  
    Thinking back, I believe it’s a tit-for-tat kind of thing.  She had one job, one chance to do the right thing.  She didn’t, for whatever reason, or at least, she didn’t do it properly.  So, in turn, I will not share with her parts of my life that I feel are important enough for a mother to have input in.  For example, the first time I had sex.  I’ve had sex with multiple people and to this day, I tell her that I’ve only been with my ex-husband and my current partner.  It just saddens me that she is not someone I want to share with, these little things/first experiences that a daughter would ideally go to her mother for.  But I think all this mother stuff may be better reserved for a future post because there’s more that lies under the surface there; more that I need to fully comprehend in order to put it all into words.
    Anyway.  That’s my take on validation/invalidation for now.  I know a lot of other stuff seeped through, but it all goes hand-in-hand with the topic of validation. 
    I’m always, always thinking.  My eyes are wide open, as is my mind.  Please bear with me while I try and make sense of all of this.  I thank you all for listening and reading, if you’ve made it this far.  I welcome any thoughts and/or comments.  Like so many others, I’m trying to figure it all out and I know no one can do this alone.
    - Capulet
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