Monday, February 08, 2016


I dreamed of Squeak Saturday nigh. I took him to the vet. I had to park my car in a space without feeding the meter. I stood in line to check him in, realized that I had forgotten some papers, so I had to retrieve and stand in line again. He was sick, I would have to leave him overnight. The kennel section at the vet had a window facing the street. As I walked past, I could see a tech cuddling him. He was happy, snuggled against the tech's shoulder. He saw me as she it him down and looked at me. I held my hand up to the window, then walked away.
Now I am in tears. It has been a long time since he died. I miss him terribly right now, but I am strangely happy that my brain bought forth his memory so I could see him again.

27° Clear

-- So it has been a day and Squeak is remains in my thoughts. It was around this time that we bought Wigford home from the shelter, several months after Squeak died.

I still feel guilty about missing how sick Squeak was at the end of his life. He should not have to suffer the way he did. I've tried very hard not to make that mistake again. Letting go of Axel and Lucy Snowe was difficult, but there is not a moment that I doubt that I did the correct thing.

I have one photo of Squeak, an analog shot taken of him as a half-grown kitten sitting in a basket of clean laundry, being scratched behind his big ears by an old friend. I don't have his ashes (there was no money at that time for more than basic cremation). All I have is memory.

Twelve years and I still miss him so much.

Thursday, January 14, 2016



I normally don't become sad when I learn about the death of a famous person. It always struck me as unseemly to invest emotional energy into mourning an individual that I don't actually know in real life.
Alan Rickman is different. I absolutely adored him as an actor and I am terribly sad to hear of his death. He one of my fantasy husbands, along with Martin Straka and Colin Firth. He was riveting onscreen. From all the stories I have read today, he was also a stand-up human being in his personal life as well. 
My first Rickman movie, was Die Hard. I did not know him as the Alan Rickman then. He was just this great British actor with amazing presence who made a run-of-the-mill action film extraordinary.
When I saw him again in Robin Hood, I did not recognize him as the same man who played Hans Gruber. I adored every single scene chewing moment he was on-screen. But I still had little idea of how good he was.
My eyes were opened in An Awfully Big Adventure. I rented the movie to watch Hugh Grant, but it was Rickman's performance, as an emotionally wrecked drunk who begins an affair with a young woman who does not love him and turns out to be his daughter, that caught my notice and Rickman's character who I connected with emotionally.
Sense and Sensibility left me officially smitten. From then until now, I knew that I would enjoy any movie in which he as a part and that has turned out to be true.
I've spent most of today reading through the conversation of his death on Metafilter, watching clips of his movies and public appearances and trying very hard not to cry.

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Tequila Sunrise and More Contemplation

Back in the office today. It was nice to interact with grown adults, even if most of my day was spent looking at data tables, trying to ascertain which needed updated to complete updates the data model I work on.

Still wrestling with whether to invite J's family to dinner. The more I think about it, the more I would rather just limit it to my family. I don't think I can deal with the bullshit and inviting four to six additional people to act as buffers would not be a solution, just piling on additional stress.

In truth, the anticipation is probably worse than what will happen in real life. Or not.

I'm having a lot of moments of silently simmering anger towards J and I don't know what to do about that either. I anticipate another one occurring shortly as I hear the garage door going down, which means he is done working on the kitchen table for the night.

I can't quite pinpoint where this round of frustration is coming from, just that it is here. Today it was walking in the door after work and seeing the sink filled with dishes, even though I've asked him repeatedly to keep in clear so I can cook more easily. Then him asking, *while I'm in the middle of cleaning up something* if there is anything he can do for me. If I tell him the truth, to look around, see what needs done and *just do it* he'll just get pissy and complain.

Then there is the fact that when he gets a DVD from Netflix, it can linger around the house for a week and it is not a big deal, but when I get one he goes two days maximum before he starts nagging me about watching it.

Either that or this is displacement anticipatory stress of having to care for Linus by myself for 11 days manifesting itself in some strange, strange ways.

Like the burning desire to order the medium 1904 Porter Rough and Tumble bag in Tabasko waxed cotton canvas, the same style I saw in Toad & Company in Freeport. Roughly three weeks and I am completely obsessed with the silly thing. To keep myself from buying it, I paid all the bills (credit card with the new bed tomorrow) and moved $500.00 into savings. Now I just need to freeze the credit card to keep myself from charging it.

It does not help that the bag is EXACTLY the size I have been looking for and would make an amazing replacement for my nylon Fossil bag, which is s.l.o.w.l.y falling apart. Or that I just spent a goodly amount of money on a leather Frye satchel that suits all my needs very, very well and has garnered quite a few compliments since I purchased it with some of our tax refund money last spring.

The mantra that I don't need the bag, I just want the bag is not helping right now, no matter how true it is. I honestly don't need this bag. I have the Frye, the Fossil will survive for several more years, the Sherpani Verona is an excellent replacement for the Fossil, the Timbuk 2 is holding up phenomenally well, and I have an additional bin of miscellaneous purses and totes that need to be discarded before I buy anything else.

What I need is to figure out what I'm trying to fill by buying the bag, and take care of that instead.

Sunday, August 30, 2015



I am contemplating a dilemma this evening.
Family (my parents, both siblings, siblings spouses and possibly two dogs) are coming to the house to celebrate an early Thanksgiving, the weekend before Thanksgiving to be precise. Since we no longer exchange gifts (or try not to at any rate), my father's only desire for the holidays is that we share a meal together.
So we shall, in my big comfortable house. With new furniture in the living room and refurbished dining room chairs.
The dilemma? Should we invite J's family to this dinner? Have I lost my mind?
The instinct of general etiquette suggests it would be a decent and honorable thing to do.
The instincts of past history of hosting my in-laws are screaming “hell no”. The last time we hosted J's family, his father waited until an hour after I put the food away (which had been sitting out untouched for over an hour before I cleaned it up) to pull out two frying pans and cook hamburgers he had bought with him “because he was hungry again”. Which meant another hour in the kitchen cleaning up the pans, silverware and additional dishes.
We have kicked around some ideas that might make it easier, such as inviting the parents of both my sister in laws. But then it also occurred to me that I both my brothers that it was ok for them to bring their dogs - which means that I have to allow J's niece to bring her dog too. And if what J's parents are reporting is true, her dog is showing signs of aggression towards other people and I don't want an aggressive animal in my home.
(You know what pisses me off? When I clearly state to J that I am writing, only to have to deal with him being affectionate towards me even though attention from him is the last fucking thing that I want at that moment. I don't want loving gestures, I want to be left the fuck alone to think and form sentences.) 
– End rant. I love J, but I really wish that he could hear “I'm writing” as “leave me alone right now”.
So I did what any sane person in this day and age would do. I wrote to the hosts of the podcast Awesome Etiquette to see how they would answer the question.
In the meantime, I will consider my options.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Settled and Sunday

I made a trip to see my parents. They put their much loved, but difficult to maintain home up for sale and moved to a small cottage in a retirement community. Both of them acted out in expected fashion prior to the move on Monday. My mother was argumentative, my father obsessively packed random objects in the middle of the night. My brothers helped them move into the cottage, I came out this past weekend to help unpack boxes and see what they need to be settled and comfortable. I now have a list that includes a non-slip bath mat for the guest bath, a pair of pretty slippers for my mom and a couple more sets of new towels of the bath and kitchen variety.
My dad pointed out a box and bag, set aside for me to take home. The bag held some quilts and shams. The box contained the rest of their wedding silver, including my favorite pair of silver candlesticks, two birth certificates, the one from the hospital marked “baby number 2”, and some miscellaneous items from college and high school.
There was one carefully wrapped object that turned out to be a photograph of me at age sixteen, dancing with my maternal grandfather at a family wedding. I was genuinely surprised that my mother let the picture go, as she adored her father and it is one of the last photographs of him healthy and vibrant. Shortly after that wedding he became incapacitated by a series of strokes and died a month before I turned nineteen.
I am glad she let it go, as I adored my grandfather too and she has all but admitted that I was he favorite grandchild of both her parents.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Family Vacation Planning

I have a lot to talk about. Some of it is even worthy of dusting off my blog and publishing. About how cute it is that Kayne West is such a fan boy of Beyoncé. How awesome that the Day One application actually has auto-correct for Beyoncé.

I could talk about my doctor-mandated weight loss/food lifestyle makeover and how that is going (surprisingly well, thank you). I could talk about the umpteenth bone scan my mother will have, due to suspicions that the cancer has metastasized to her spine. I will need to talk about that if the scan shows cancer, as I will need to create some response scripts to the inevitable raft of “well meaning” comments and questions.

Or I could talk about family vacations. Specifically extended family vacations, the kind you take with your parents, your children, your siblings, their spouses and their children and live in a single space for a week or so.

About the fact that J's sister, who does not pay for the home rental, is able to dictate the time (first week in August) and the place (Outer Banks) over the wishes of the rest of the family.

After last year, J's parents said they going to start renting a houser earlier in the summer, as July-August was hot, a bit uncomfortable and expensive due it being high tourist season.

When J and I learned that they were returning to the Outer Banks in August we sent a list of alternate suggestions. Included in the list were islands such as Mackinac, beach towns on the New England East Coast and Nova Scotia. All cooler places with lots of family activities.

All rejected. The explanation given was that J's sister did not want to deprive her children of a beach vacation as that is where the rest of their classmates went in the summer. It has to be in August because they would miss other activities if it was not.

Did I mention that she doesn't pay for the house rental and that we suggested beaches? Or that one of J's brothers actually hates the beach and would also enjoy going somewhere different.

J and I have decided that we are not going this year and are looking into visiting Nova Scotia instead, if I can get Boy Alien's passport organized in time. J's parents have asked if we are interested in taking a weekend trip to Mackinac Island with them in the spring, sans the other siblings. I said yes, as it is on the list of places J's mom has always wanted to see and I think they are offering it as a way of soothing over the bad feelings.

My frustration with her does not end with vacation planning. J's sister holds some strident pro-life views, which are about to run smack into the end-of-life care decisions that my family may be making in the near future.

My mom is going for another bone scan. She broke a rib due to tripping over a coffee table and is experiencing a tremendous amount of pain in her back, possible signs that the breast cancer has metastasised to her bones.

She has already stated that she will not go through chemotherapy again. If the cancer has metastasised to the bone, treatment would be pointless in light of her other health issues. It would not extend her life and would severely limit the quality of whatever time she has left. My brothers and I understand and accept that a return of cancer means she will elect palliative care.

J's sister will not understand this. If her prior comments on the subject are an accurate reflection of her beliefs, she is a big proponent of “by all means necessary” to extend the length of a life without regard to the quality of such a life. She would interpret my mom's refusal of treatment as affront to this belief.

She is intellectually lazy. Suggestions that she try to understand by reading about the mechanics of dying or learning what it means to have a severe illness with comorbidity are not viable, as scientifically-based sources will conflict with her world view.

And she will not respect any boundaries I attempt to put around the subject. Although I have asked J to handle this issue with his family, I have no doubt she will attempt to make her thoughts known directly to me. She will harangue and harass until she believes her point is made and play offended when I tell her that my mom's decisions are not her concern.

I could be completely catastrophizing this entire thing. The bone scan could come back negative for cancer, rendering this whole entry moot. It could come back positive and J's sister could act like a decent human being.

I'm not holding my breath.

34° Fog

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Thing About an Abusive Relationship

Note: I've turned off comments for all posts, as I have no desire to open myself up for attack from the legions of assholes.

Sometimes it takes a while to learn that you are in one. Especially if he doesn't hit you.

In March 2007, I wrote a brief entry about a bad relationship. It was written in a light-hearted tone, the kind I would take when swapping dating and breakup horror stories among a group. When you tell those kind of stories, you downplay the really horrible parts and focus on that one aspect of the relationship that screams "bad match!" You don't want to bring the rest of the group down.

Since I wrote that post I've done some reading. Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear. Rosalind B. Penfold's Dragonslippers: This is What an Abusive Relationship Looks Like. Kate Brennan's In His Sights. I recently finished Lundy Banecroft's Why Does he Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. In between there have been blog posts, articles and essays. There have been multiple hundreds-of-comments long threads at Metafilter and an especially excellent entry on Sick Systems at Live Journal.

All that reading to confirm what I always suspected, that he was abusive and I was lucky.

So I downplay the really horrible parts.

I talk about the arguments we would have whenever we went out in public together. But I don't talk about how those arguments lasted hours, until I was exhausted, demoralized and ready to agree with anything he said just to end the "discussion".

I don't talk about how those argument were primarily him accusing me of wanting to fuck other men and hours of him haranguing me for denying it.

I talk about him sulking when he felt like he was not getting his way about something. But I don't talk about how he would freeze me out and refuse to speak to me for days.

I don't talk about how he never allowed me to stay over at his apartment and flat out refused to spend more than ten minutes in mine.

I don't talk about the comments he would make about my body. About how he would dump me if I gained weight but expected me to stay with him no matter how he changed.

I don't talk about the time he deliberately tried to get me pregnant. Because to say it out loud meant admitting that he was escalating from verbal abuse into something much more dangerous.

When I tell the breakup story, I don't tell the part where he called me at 2:00 AM wanting to discuss things.

I don't talk about how I would go out of my way to avoid him for the rest of the time I was in school. How I would look for him where ever I went, mentally planning escape routes in case he our paths crossed.

I don't talk about how I took J to a mutual classmate's wedding after our second breakup, as I knew that was the only way to keep him from approaching me.

After the first breakup I went back to him because I genuinely believed I was the problem. I left the second time because I figured out that I was not.

But I'm not any smarter, more self-aware or more confident then other women. I figured it out sooner then most, soon enough to prevent any real permanent damage.

He was abusive. I was lucky.