Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Anniversary to Us! #3

Marriage is the basis for family and family is the basis of community. Unfortunately, it is evident that most people base their choice for marriage on something other than any sort of thoughtful process. It used to be that the old song 'Making Whoopie' was right ~ people married for sex. Nowadays, it could be to have a party. When the party is over so is the marriage. I also know that people think they need to be married in order not to be alone anymore. Three Dog Night sang 'two can be as lonely as one' meaning you may not be alone but you can be very lonely.

I can't advise anyone how to find the perfect mate/spousal equivalent. I only know my own truth. I believed with absoluteness that I couldn't be in a relationship where anybody would be happy. I couldn't make anybody happy and they couldn't love me for more than I could give. Different people have different opinions and it isn't possible to have matching personalities. This is all true. Nobody can make anybody happy, the responsibility for that is on the individual themselves. There is no absolute match. Mr. or Ms. Right is a fairy tale that resides in a Disney Fantasyland.

Michael had already been married twice before I met him. I gave up on that whole picture a long time before he met me. I was open to new friendships and so was he, having recently moved here and not made the acquaintance of people he could value. I only valued people for what they proved to be 'Actions speak louder than words' and, in a lot of cases, that amounted to 'not a whole lot'. He proved to be what he said he was ~ he had a dog and he loves animals, protector of people especially those he loves, capable of jumping into a project and taking the bull by the horns to get it done with the know-how to get it done right, likes things simple and slow and appreciates people like him probably because he can understand them best. We have a lot of the same opinions which he voices where I don't and preferences he makes the most of and I'm learning to do more. He is a real man in that he is capable of displaying his affections and emotions without thought that such displays make him less than what he is. He can make me cry tears of joy and that's far beyond most of humanity.

Three years ago today, we promised forever and always to love and honor. It is my honor to keep that promise.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rapunzel? Not me

I have had a love/hate relationship with my hair for most of my life.

I think every kid starts out that way. We never saw it but it never made anybody else happy. Mom would brush it, tearing at the tangles, cut it when it got too frustrating. When I was 12 she cut it off. That began my hate of it. I tried to take over from that point, but being new at it and maybe she wasn't ready to lose control, plus again, she had to look at it ~ I never saw it once I walked away from the mirror ~ taking over my own hairdo was easier said than done. Most of the next few years she kept it short, once it was a Dorothy Hamil style, which was fun at first but needed more work than I wanted to give it.

When I was in high school I had a bad perm job, which thinned it out plenty because it was burned in. In my senior year, I finally started getting some length but it never grew past the middle of my shoulder blades. I really wanted the hair the girls had in the shampoo commercials but I would lose faith that it could ever be that way and do something stupid to it again. Like maybe another perm. I colored it, starting when I was in my mid-twenties but never with a permanent color, always the kind that washed out in a month, and always something close to my natural color because I just wanted the grey I've had since childhood to disappear.

Apparently, I'm not the only one in the world with hair anxiety. Some of my favorite movies have big major life changing haircuts. For instance, Audrey Hepburn in 'Roman Holiday': 1933 'Roman Holiday'

And then there was Jo's dramatic donation to her family's effort in 'Little Women' (I like the Katharine Hepburn better but I couldn't find a clip of it, even June Alyson would have been better than this but you get the idea from Wynona Rider): 1994 'Little Women'

Not to leave out the guys ~ I remember laughing myself silly over Ice Skating Olympian Scotty Hamilton's exhibition performance to this song: 'Hair'

The last fifteen years or so, I just pretty much let it go. I wash it, let it dry, if it's not behaving put it in a pony or a braid. I quit coloring it when I turn 40, I figured I deserved to let the whites shine. I also have discovered I have severe trust issues with stylists doing their own thing or their interpretation of what they thought they heard me say.

My hair never got very long until about 18 months ago, I started using a shampoo & conditioner that said it was 'made for fragile or hard-to-grow-long hair'. Finally I got some length. It's still fine, the braids were pretty teeny, but it was waist length or longer. I think last week it was to top of the pocket on my jeans. I loved the way it felt silky on my skin, feather touches on my elbows and forearms . . .

This is me in the chair at the salon. I had the stylist use my camera to photograph it before he cut it off.

This was a really hard thing for me to do. I kept thinking about little kids with problems, like cancer or alopecia (can't verify that's the correct spelling) that don't have any hair, little girls wishing they had the hair the princess movies all make such a big deal about and thinking they are less than . . . Little Superheroes with nothing on their noggins. I had to donate it.

The really cool part of my little story is that my co-worker also donated hers the same day without my knowing it or she knowing I was donating mine. Her final cut is much shorter than mine so perhaps her sacrifice/donation was greater than mine. She has a 7-week-old baby and said it was getting to be in the way all the time. Her hair was that healthy mommy hair, and when I saw her the day after it was all gone.

Mine's about shoulder length now. I miss it so much. It feels stubbly and hard. So, I can't wait for it to grow back.

Because it will, you know.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Checking in? Not much happening

There's really not much going on that I can talk about. I just wanted to update a couple little things.

1. Self Storage: Such a weird time right now. Every crime show has done a storage unit episode and there is reality shows becoming popular about the auction process, so the daily phone calls have increased: people are calling to find out when we are having one. Well, I have worked very hard to make it so I'm NOT auctioning people's stuff. Desperate times, I guess, mean people try to take advantage of other people's desperation. Something like that. We've only had to auction about three units this whole year. In fact, we've been able to accomplish something we'd not been able to do before ~ we ended the month with EVERYBODY paid, no one went 30 days delinquent. So, not only do we know we have no auctions in December but we also have no units in line for auctions in January.

And while I was hoping that made our bosses happy, I got myself in trouble. Every time I need to communicate with my superior, I pause to think 'is this an emergency or shall I not interrupt whatever or wherever she is and send a fax or e-mail?' and if there is no urgency except some feedback would be appreciated, I opt for the e-mail or fax. And wait. And wait. My cobwebs accumulate and the dust becomes embedded in my scalp and still no return message. Days go by and my messages do not get returned.

So, when we knew we had the zero delinquencies, I sent off an e-mail because I was so very excited. Two days later, she called all excited because I'd also achieved 101% of expected gross income for the month. I was in shock, because this wasn't what I was hoping to hear. She found my response greatly lacking and chewed me out for 'bursting her bubble'. I'm still unimpressed. The thing she was excited about was about having something that would impress her boss, about money. That bit of news actually screws us because it was achieved through prepaid clients paying for the next year, and means that it will now be VERY hard to achieve the base income expected of this facility, which, in turn means little to no bonuses for us.

Not only did I piss off my boss, I'll need to find a second job to make ends meet. Yeah, me.

2. Knitting: I have so many projects in queue, and can only go so fast. I have a hat here for my sister, and some scraps for beanies waiting to create and send to her son in Afghanistan, trying to finish off another big project and my Mom brought me some wonderful ANGORA! I was about a third through a sweater when I realized that the pattern wasn't falling straight and I need to rip out. . . Got some sweaters for the dogs done, so now we walk in woolly warmth, in case of rain, but if it's raining we don't get to go. Which means mommy doesn't get the exercise she needs and so

3. Diabetes: Pretty sure my blood sugar is wonky and too chicken to check it. I have confined myself to meat and veggies, but the regular everyday stress is making me want to bite the heads off of little idiots because they came into my view. The frustration with my boss, the depression that comes with dark weather days, the anxiety over money that doesn't stretch far enough in winter. My husband can't hear what I'm saying and I don't seem to be speaking English created some heated discussions. . . All keep me up at night, I look and feel terrible all the time. I wish I could just have chocolate scent in the air to help adjust my attitude and not whack at my blood sugar. I wanna do the happy dance again.

4. The dogs are having a rough time. The rat terrier's nails got so long her pads were sore and every different day she limped on a different foot. That was probably my fault too. We purchased a nail trimmer tool that is a little sander, and seems to work pretty well, but it won't hold enough power anymore to do more than freak her out and the sander parts are not rough enough to get it done quickly when there is power. She's almost ten so this entire mess makes her seem old now. The Jack Russel rescue girl has had her schedule thrown off, mostly due to the inclement weather, she seems confused about what she should be doing when she's outside and has had to make messes inside. She can't indicate when she needs to go out because she's so afraid of everything. On the positive side, she seems to be more accepting of us all the time, she's chosen to sit closer to me on several occasions, has actually crawled up on the bed with me a couple of times.

5. Family: Well. My timing with the previous post (see Skeletons) about stuff I don't seem to cope with very well couldn't have been worse. Unbeknownst to me, my paternal grandmother died the day I posted that. I'm sad that she died, but only just a little. She chose how our relationship was to be, and I hadn't seen her in nearly thirty years. Then there was the funeral gatherings and my brother expected we all go, in attendance with my father. After it was all over (no, I didn't go, but my sister did and my brother who lives on the East Coast made the trip, I've seen pictures of different ones that were there) I sent the link to the post to my brother. I hoped we'd be able to talk about it, to see if there was any more he needed to know and to ask for his protection, EVEN though it is not the same experience for him. But so far, he's not spoken to me or answered my messages.

Part of what may have prevented him from doing so may be that my maternal grandfather suffered a major stroke over the holiday weekend. And of course, I was intolerable and didn't behave concerned enough and a few more family members are avoiding me. (By that I mean, I didn't travel to see him in the hospital, didn't get in on the 'what should be done' conversations except that when people needed to vent I let them, and then pissed them off because I didn't take a side. My only concern was that people not fight because all have health issues that make stress downright dangerous.)

And, of course, I can't tell if my daughter, who I was thinking of when I wrote that has even seen it. I've seen her a couple of times, once because I was being the overprotective Mommy I wished she'd always had and went to where she works and hung out while she closed her store by herself. The week before she worked the last seven hours of her shift by herself, including the close which she'd never done alone. Mommy was sickened to discover that her little place of work is right next door to a mass transit stop and wondered why this employer was willing to jeopardize the safety of her one-and-only . . . and there I go again. Agh!

That's all. Everybody is doing their best to just get by, but nobody seems to be getting anywhere. Even me. Hope you are well, I will try to post something thoughtful and unprovoking someday soon. I anticipate I will have something to write in a couple weeks as our anniversary is coming up. Prepare for that by purchasing your antacids now!

Good night, I wish you peace.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Day you were Born ~ 11/14

Have I ever told you how that all went down?

Well, you were born on a Saturday. Friday night, I was having some stomach pain at the lower front that was unusual, so I called and spoke with the on call physician for Dr. Nicky, who told me to use a heating pad on low temp. Didn't really have any appetite, so just had a little bit of mashed potatoes for dinner. All night long, I couldn't get comfortable so we went up to the hospital ~ this was like the 12th time we'd gone up ~ just to make sure this wasn't it again. Well, Dr. Nicky told them to keep us and start inducing labor because according to their guesses we were nearly two weeks overdue with you. I say their guesses because I calculated you would be born about the 16th, and they, being the highly educated folks that they are, would only go as far as November 2nd.

That was pretty early in the morning. Your dad was supposed to be at work at 6am, so he ran the keys to work and came back. I really don't remember much after he left. The medication they gave me to induce labor sorta left me loopy. From what I gather, Grandma was in there (my mom) and they had to ask her to leave because I was so out of it, I was getting confused. They had to break the water and you might have panicked because your heart rate got really excited. They had me in a birthing room and moved me to a delivery room, don't remember that either. I remember that room, and the last few contractions, and there you were, all red and gooey. Black curls all over your head and teeny, sweet red lips. Your dad was crying, but it must have been a stressful day for him. In fact, he could probably fill in a lot of other details that they never told me about that day. Probably the closest to be drunk or stoned that I'll ever be. You know, not able to recall the events of the day I was very much a part of . . . You were born about 6:30pm. You weighed just under 8 pounds, about 20 inches long. Perfectly baked, as far as the due dates were concerned, not overdone at all.

I remember your Other Grandma coming in, she'd been pretty stressed because she'd made airline reservations to go see your Auntie K in SoCal and was afraid she was going to miss seeing you before she left. So, she was taking lots of pictures to share. Your Auntie C came in and I remember she thought you looked like Snow White.

I was at the hospital for a couple of days, I think they sent us home on Monday or Tuesday. I really didn't care for the hospital, they kept complaining about you not latching on to nurse, but they wouldn't let you stay in my room for any length of time and certainly not in the bed with me, and they'd given you that stupid pacifier! The first night, I was wide awake from having slept all day, starved and all they could get me for dinner was a sandwich. But the room was at the end of the hall, where they had a little waiting area with windows. We watched for your Grandma's plane to take off from there and waved to her.

There was snow on the ground when we brought you home. We lived in a tiny one-bedroom house and had set up a bassinet (it was your Auntie C's when your cousins were born) in the corner of the living room, just for you, with a little dresser nearby and Winnie-the-Pooh on the wall.

Ever since that day, it has been my priority to make sure you were happy because you brought so much light to my life. Love you, baby. ~mom.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Are YOU talking 'bout ME?

On the Wikipedia website:

Gossip is idle talk or rumour, especially about the personal or private affairs of others. It forms one of the oldest and most common means of sharing (unproven) facts and views, but also has a reputation for the introduction of errors and other variations into the information transmitted. The term also carries implications that the news so transmitted (usually) has a personal or trivial nature, as opposed to normal conversation.

The term is sometimes used to specifically refer to the spreading of dirt and misinformation, as (for example) through excited discussion of scandals. Some newspapers carry "gossip columns" which detail the social and personal lives of celebrities or of élite members of certain communities.

It goes on with the etymology of the word GOSSIP as deriving from the old english word 'god-parent' and basically referred to old woman who had too much to say about the neighbors, or a tattler.

Then, of course, it gets into the scriptural references. Proverbs 18:8 described it as food that is absorbed into the inmost self. Then the Apostle said in Romans chapter 1, sorted it into the category of maliciousness deserving of death. Later in chapter 3, he instructed to only speak of one another with love.

Wanna hear how I define it?

Anytime you discuss someone with someone else, collecting and spreading personal information you haven't bothered to confirm with that person as to whether or not that any of it is true, you have gossiped.

It's so easy to get there, too. I think it may start with a sincere concern. Perhaps you are worried about someone and you want to confer with another person who may know more than you that you have reason to worry. Who wants to be dramatic over nothing? The saying 'making mountains out of molehills' comes to mind. Nobody wants that kind of chaos, right?

But, what if that person didn't know anything about it? Now, they are seeing things they hadn't before and they may go to yet another person to figure things out. The gossip chain has begun.

Not all gossip is that innocently begun. Some is started by someone who thinks higher of themselves than their subject. Take for an example: a mother speaking about her daughter-in-law. Mother may know more about her son; she has been his mother his whole life, after all. Perhaps in her opinion, the daughter-in-law will never measure up. Isn't it malicious to belittle the daughter-in-law to all the neighbors or other relatives, rather than support her son in his choice.

I think the recent awareness about bullying has a lot to do with gossip. 'The first cut is the deepest' sang Sheryl Crow. Someone with a need to elevate themselves over someone else finds a weakness in that person and tells yet another person. They may never strike that person, but what's said always gets back to the subject and causes injury, even if it never becomes physical, there is wound inflicted and scar tissue on a soul, that takes time to heal, or in the case of the increasing rates of teen-age suicides, may never heal.

I have always had issues with gossip. I tend to turn and walk away from any conversation that goes in that direction. If that's not possible, I do change the subject forcibly, 'how about those SanFrancisco Giants, huh?' which gets met with nasty stares most of the time, but I don't have to listen to where this was going.

I have been the subject of gossip. Usually, when it gets back to me, I can be tough enough that it doesn't hurt. Once, though, it nearly killed me.

I once sought help for a very painful situation from a shepherd in my (religious) faith's congregation. I had always done my best to be an encouragement to all I associated with, so I was stunned when this 'shepherd' repeated things to me that had been said in the congregation. He stated that these were things I felt and said, but had never occured or even been considered. I was in such shock that I couldn't speak or defend myself. I left in the blackest state of mind and even though I continued attending, the wind had been knocked out of me, until I couldn't make myself go anymore. Without that joy of worship in my life anymore, I lost hope. Having no way to find help or to deal with my sadness, I began to plan my death. I became just like these young people in the recent news reports, someone without alternatives except to put an end to it all. What happened in the end was just to walk away from everything, rather than allow the people I loved more than myself to watch me fall apart completely. That was my solution, and I don't advise it to anyone else, because I ended up in a pretty dangerous situation. I believe I was protected because of the person I had been up until then, but without my past, my future could have been obliterated.

So, how do we get rid of gossip? I think it is time to declare a personal war on anything that resembles gossip. Anytime I become concerned about a person, I will go to that person and express my concern. Hopefully, that's how it will be taken, because I would only do that with someone I loved. Next, I will not listen to anything about anybody. No more gossip tv shows or thinly veiled 'news' programs, no more gossip magazines, no more talk shows that discuss someone's troubles without interviewing them to figure it all out. Only the positive about anyone will be spoken that I will hear.

. . .The hardest part will be leaving the knitting group when it goes round that way. . .

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In Appreciation of Beginners Credit Cards and Good IDTheft Protection

The other day, I found a post by a young knitter over on Ravelry trying to figure out how to get credit. Being the nosy busy-body that I am, I posted this:

OK. I’m formerly from credit repair industry and before that I worked with credit card applications. So, my I would like to voice my opinion and my experience.

There is a lot of information out there given by financial experts. Heads up on most of them: They do not like credit cards. That’s OK for them if they have money. They will tell you not to get any cards, or if you get them, not to use them, if you use them pay them off every month. If you are hoping to build your credit, none of that will help. You need to look at it from the view point of those who would be offering you credit. They need to see that you are responsible enough to make regular monthly payments and not over extending your financial self.

My advice before applying for credit is to build your savings. Make sure your rainy day fund (which is money you can access at any time for any reason) is enough to cover you for several months. It used to be three to six months of your current income is the goal, but I think in the last couple of years it would be smart to go even further. This is solely to cover your butt when life changes, like losing your job. Life is change, be prepared.

When you are ready for credit cards, you probably won’t qualilfy right off the bat with low interest rates or high credit limits. The Orchard Bank card suggestion is a good one. If you can’t find them, they are also known as First Premier Bank. A lot of people speak negatively about this bank, but here’s the deal: You do get a high rate, like higher than 20% and you do get a low credit limit. Don’t do the joint card method because that builds only the primary cardholders credit. Those kinds of suggestions are great for immediate help, but won’t help you in the long-run.

When you get the card, do not use it beyond 50% of the limit. This shows lenders that you are in control. Pay the bills on time (that’s true of all your bills) without fail. Pay more than the minimum payment required, again proves that you are financially responsible. Don’t pay it off. Lenders need to see that you can carry a balance over time.

With the Orchard Bank/First Premier cards, the initial fees will put you over the 50% I just suggested so you probably won’t be using it immediately. The minimum payment will always be at least $20, plan on at least $30. You can contact them every 6 months to request a review to have your limit increased but it won’t ever be more than $750. Also know that they are each month reporting to all the credit bureaus what you are doing with your account and that more than anything else will help your credit profile. It is a good card for a new consumer, but if that new consumer is not yet responsible, it can also be the worst thing you can do. It is great for the emergency half tank of gas the day before payday, but you’ll probably not ever be able to buy a set of tires with it.

Hope that’s helpful. If I can think of anything else, I will add it later.

The feedback on my post was varied. Most people believe that responsible use of credit cards means paying it off every month. That would be advice given by a financial expert like Susie Orman. These financial experts do not like seeing you spending your money without having something to show for it, such as the interest on balances carried from month-to-month. However, you do get something out of it: you build your credit. Besides these financial experts are making big money compared with the rest of us, so of course, they can pay the cards off every month and don't need to build their credit.

One very smart young lady wrote asking me how to fix fraud and told me what she'd already done. What she had already done was exactly what she needed to do but now she knows how important a Identity Monitoring service is, how much time and money is consumed trying to fix it herself. I told her about the IDTheft protection I market with PrePaid Legal. It is different from other identity theft products out there, I know because I used to sell them when I was taking credit card applications ~ they only cover the one person, not the husband and wife, and are only there to tell you how to fix it yourself. This service monitors your personal information (and your spouse) FOR YOU and watches your all your personal information, contacts you each month, or as something appears, to let you know either nothing has happened or 'Something has shown up ~ please confirm this was you'.

It made my day to be able to send her information about this. My sense of being someone able to help someone else was very gratified.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

SKELETONS as in the closet kind

I really don't want to write this as it's very personal. (That would be a warning to anybody not looking for something awful to read.) I've been thinking a lot about family and the stuff that gets hidden and becomes damaging, the skeletons in my family's closet. I had been thinking about it quite a bit, because my daughter asks questions I have felt are not my business to answer, which leaves her hurt. Wynona Judd was on 'Oprah' the other day, she was telling how hurt she was to find out at 30 that the man she thought was her father and the folks she thought were her grandparents weren't hers at all, and that her younger sister Ashley knew, but nobody told had ever bothered to tell Wynona. . . I'm guessing there's a lot of that families do to each other. I don't intend to advertise this post, but I want you to understand, this is gonna get vile and disgusting. If you are my family reading this, I'm sorry, but maybe you should know.

My story is multi-generational. Nobody in my family will be happy I'm posting this, so I'm going to have to change some of the identifying points. I don't think that will matter, they will still not be happy with me. Of course, I've always been the loud-mouthed child, considered to be the one who didn't know her place. I will only tell what I know to be true, that was confirmed by other people, because what I know has been disputed as 'what I was brainwashed by my mother to believe'.

Most of this has to do with my mother. To me, every time there has been a major change in her life, she has had to become a different person. The person she is now is a lot like my grandmother was at the end of her life, sweet, humble, believing she is cherished (whether it's true or not) by all she loves, and completely dependent on others. Before she was married to my step-dad, she was very independent, made major decisions like when it was time to buy a house or a car, went where she needed to go and saw who she wanted to see, when she wanted to see them. (Part of the difference lately may be that she's retired, but to me that's only made it more striking.) When we children were all in the house still and she wasn't working outside the home, she seemed to be holding back from engaging in life too, maybe from depression. When we were very little, she seemed to be a bit 'Mommy Dearest' but that could have been due to the stress of where she was.

My mom was married the first time, I think, at 18 years old, had me at 19. She looks in the photographs of the time, to me, to be content with her decision, but not the overjoyed blushing bride you normally see. Many people are glad to get out of their parents home and be a grown-up, but I believe her motivation was beyond that. I believe the 'contentment' may have been due to the relief of being out of the house. What she has told me, and other family has confirmed, is that while her mother had been laid up due to back injury a couple of years before, she was molested by her father.

She didn't tell me this, of course, until I was very much adult, but it explains a lot. Her father has a hold on her and a couple other family members that is borderline sexual (which is stomach churning to watch when in his presence) and with his ability to manipulate others with money (their need for it and his having a little) has caused me to not want to be around and I have chosen not to when given the opportunity since my grandmother died, even if it means missing out on seeing other family members that I love. He has caused other kinds of pain to family members, some of which resulted in deaths of their children . . . That was not something my mother will discuss with me, she seems to want to cover it over. He has never apologized or been punished, has demanded love and respect as patriarch that I can't give. Of him I want nothing but to be left alone and will not encourage the association of others in my family with him. However much I miss my grandmother, however much I admire her dedication to her family by staying with him, when she must have known who it was she was married to, possibly believing there was no where else to go. I can't honor her by having anything to do with him.

Now, someone (religiously) may point out that this would be considered unchristian, or Biblically unrighteous, based on the commandment that we are to 'honor your father and mother', certainly I may have family members who would say that, and I would have to argue, being the loud-mouth child who doesn't know her place, I would have to stand up and say that would apply to individuals that were Honor-able. You can't honor someone who has no honor. The way that he would have earned honor would be to admit his sins, ask for forgiveness and worked to regain his honor even accepting punishment, which I have searched for and cannot see has ever happened. I don't wish to judge him, but to protect myself and those I am in a position to protect from life-changing hurt, I won't have anything to do with him.

If ever anyone thought that our life wouldn't be changed forever by that kind of hurt, I'd have to disagree with you, based on my own life.

My earliest memories are mostly being terrified of my father. When I was a preschooler, probably between 3 and 4 years old, he very nearly broke my arm. I had been standing on the floor between him and the television, and, with anger, he lifted my by that arm and carried me down the hallway and flung me onto the top of the bunk bed. It was three days before he took me to the hospital, my mom tells me, but what I remember was trying so hard not to cry over the pain of my injury that I nearly wet my pants trying to control my sobs. He spoke a different language from my mother, in that he could curse anything and everyone horribly, violently, where the memory of her voice at that time was gentler but anxious and worried. Later, when their were five of us, out of control and wild, her voice elevated to screaming, and that may be what my siblings remember. I had a fear of her, but I was terrified of him. He was so angry all the time that I did fear for my life. When I realized he was beating my mother, I feared for hers as well, and for us all if that did happen.

The first time I remember they were separated, came when I was in the first grade. I was surprised one day when someone from the office came to get me out of class with all of my things. My grandfather had come to take us to his home away from my father and all of my family and our belongings were packed in their trucks. My mother reconciled with my father about a month later, but I stayed behind at my grandparents house to finish out the school year. Later, I was told by a family friend that there had been irrefutable proof that I was being molested by my father. I don't remember that happening. I do know my mother was miserable. She was trying to do the right thing and being told by my grandfather that she was stupid and couldn't do anything right that she felt compelled to go back when my father said he was sorry and he would be better. She had to believe him, because the alternative wasn't a very nice option either.

When it was time for me to go home, too, I was surprised that it was only him that showed up to collect me. On the journey home, we stopped. That was the first occasion I remember him touching me inappropriately. However, looking back on it, I was not surprised by his actions, so perhaps it had been happening before and I was just not aware it was wrong until then.

As a child of a violent parent, I think there is a tendency to attempt to please, in order to direct the parent's anger elsewhere, or to calm the anger. Dogs do the same thing: a person can beat a dog mercilessly and the dog will turn and lick that person's hand. I believe that I tried to ignore it as inappropriate and tried to believe that by participating I was gaining his love. He told me so, and that this activity prepared me for adulthood and it was his job to prepare me for a husband.

When I was in the third grade, my mother got him out of the house, I think she had him arrested. I'm not sure now how she got him out, but for a while he was gone, and during that time we went to court. I had to testify in a judge's chambers, in front of a group of strange men (the only woman was my mother and the only other person I knew was my father) of how he had touched me and describe where and when. The result of all of this was that he had to see a therapist. My mother told me that this therapist basically blamed her for my father's actions and he came back home. I don't know really what the therapist's opinion was, but I know from my own experience that it is very easy to be made to feel that way.

Over the next few years, we made visits to my grandparents house. I have an uncle who was about six years older than me and an aunt a few years older than him who were both living at my grandparents house. My aunt was very hard-working and had many responsibilities, and we admired her for all that she did. My uncle was constantly in trouble. We kids thought he was just like us and we loved him too. Over those years, he starting taking me to hiding places around my grandparent's home and asking me questions about what my father and I had done (apparently he'd overheard some of the grown-ups conversation that I hadn't) and having me demonstrate on him.

In fact, I believed that sex was happening everywhere I turned. The neighbor girl who lived across the street and I were running around playing one day and we ran through the front door to her house. Her father had her older sister naked on the sofa and was on top of her. She must have been a teen-ager because I remembered seeing her pubic hair and wondered if she got it because her dad was touching her and then dreading when mine would start.

There was a place in the basement of the house where my father started digging a hole. It was about four feet by four feet and the depth eventually became about 12 feet, I think, as a child I thought it was incredibly deep. He had all of us kids working on it, believing it was for a swimming pool or a tunnel to China. The dirt was piled around the foundation of the house, in the basement. We worked on this hole for years, and it became wider at the very bottom.

After I was done with the fifth grade, the school district we lived in made some changes and I was assigned to go to a school hours from home by bus; desegregation. My mother was worried about me on the bus so far from home for so long every day, but my father's issue was that I would be going to school with black kids. So, my mother held me out of school and he searched out a new neighborhood to live in. Eventually, he found one about 30 to 45 minutes away, and they enrolled me in that school district. That meant I was in the car with him every morning and at night after school until we could get moved. I dreaded that time in the car every day, sitting in silence worrying about my new school and classmates, watching the cars pass slowly and the changes in the weather through the fall, listening to him cuss out the other drivers.

One day, I remember my mom was really quiet and her eyes and face were puffy that morning when I saw her briefly. He was more silent than usual, not speaking to me or cussing out the other cars. That night, he picked me up and took me home and immediately left for work. It was then I found out he'd attempted to kill her the night before. There were horrible, deep scratches on her wrists and neck, and I remember a lot of bruises. Later, she said she understood what that hole in the basement was for: he'd made a pine wood box that would have fit into the bottom of that hole. We'd been told it was for the move but there was only one box, too small for furniture and too big to be filled with smaller household items, it would have been too heavy to carry anything at all. She believed it was to dispose of her body.

After the move, things became impossibly strained. My mom was going next door to make phone calls to her parents when he was gone, and grandma's letters were full of coded language. A couple of months later, right as I turned 12, she had a friend drive us to the bus station, each with a suitcase and we left him again, for the last time. I only saw him once after that, when he brought the station wagon filled with stuff we'd left behind.

I believed it was my fault that our folks split but I was too afraid of him to think of going back. I also thought that what had happened to me and what I felt was the same for my brothers and sisters. I couldn't have been more wrong, but didn't realize that until just the last few years. Our father has visited my brother and he has gone to visit him, and he has discussed his visits with our mom and my siblings. My mother, naturally, is horrified. The rest of my siblings are like him, don't understand why our father was taken away . . . When I try to explain, I am the 'one repeating my mother's words'. I think they are good people who think that our father is like them, all good people who try to do the best for their children. I really can't impress upon them enough without going into sickeningly, graphic detail, that this really did happen, he really was that way, I won't visit him, I won't tolerate his being told about my whereabouts or well-being.

My uncle, too, got into lots of trouble, beginning with breaking and entering, and getting into drugs. Eventually, he went to prison on multiple accounts of child abuse. Very early on, my mom and I had a conversation about him, when I told him of what he'd done, and when he was initially punished, I believed it was because of me, too. Later, my mom told me she didn't know and doesn't remember ever having had that conversation with me. It turned out that what I told her was universally unknown and he was never brought to account for it. Much to the detriment of others that I loved. I think some of the information about his child abuse case was hidden from me, purposely, so that I wouldn't get involved, open my big mouth and be the child that didn't know her place.

So. Three skeletons in this closet, accounted for. There's some other stuff but these are the only ones that affect me directly.

During my teenage years, I came to realize that I probably was damaged goods and no one that I admired would think I was marriage material. When the son of the elder in my faith said he needed me for his wife, I was very, very honored. So shocked, that I didn't question that he never said he loved me and refused my kisses. I also knew that he'd also had some inappropriate sexual encounters and was found masterbating by a parent. I have to call it the first two of the three 'sexual encounters' I knew about, not rape because they did not involve someone who knew better taking advantage of someone who didn't. The last one I would say was rape, he was molested by an older male. I was led to believe that these instances were something he looked back on with shame and sorrow and wished never to think about again.

Our relationship was not what I'd hoped it would be. My hope was that we would be able to work together toward a common goal. I couldn't understand why there was no intimacy ~ not sexual intimacy, but the kind where a couple in love are bound together, attachment, craving to be in each other's presence. Home. I tried everything I could think of, and studied ways I could make that happen. I really don't want to go into detail about our sex lives, but I will say this: I always initiated sex. When I realized this, I would wait to prove to myself I was wrong. Eventually, I would be so depressed and blaming myself that I would initiate again, but I knew I was not cherished in the way I should have been. For a while I saw a therapist, who had my husband come in once and they basically said my issues were my fault ~ the same as what happened to my mother.

Other odd things manifested over time. It became apparent over the twenty years that we were married that those sexual encounters that happened before we were married was not something he looked back at with disdain but with longing. There are things that disgusted me when I found them out that I have an issue sharing them here, but in the interest of identifying the skeletons in the closet I feel I have to. I found out when our daughter was about two years old that my knitting and crochet needles were being misused ~ I won't go into how that occurred, but I did entirely give up all of my knitting for about ten years, only to taking it up with the largest needles. The other thing was that one of those previous instances (before we were married) was with a dog. That craving did not go away as I would have hoped, because I found e-mails requesting that kind of porn (incidentally on our 18th anniversary) that included a very nasty account of the occasion, with the response that this request could not be fulfilled because it was illegal in this country. This happened when I had been refraining from initiating again for the three previous years and was about to capitulate again. Finding this convinced me to give up trying to be close to him, finally. It was not a surprise to me, however, that he found a boyfriend after we were separated. My shock on that score was that I thought he intended to continue to hide that side of him from his family and our daughter.

These individuals are not people I will seek to have contact with. I will be civil if I am ever unavoidably required to be in their presence but I will not share anything about my life with them. Others in my family who would defend them or attempt to force me to associate with them are not individuals I will seek out either. The ones I love won't force me and never have and have always been honest with me when I need to understand, which makes me love them more.

I doubt that these skeletons will every truly change their location, as in out into the open, but they don't scare me. I know that they will receive their judgement someday. I know I won't be standing next to them when it does, because the loud child who doesn't know her place is the squeeky wheel that gets the grease and gets on with her life.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hockey jacket, hooray!

My husband's grandson attends NHL Minnesota Wild Hockey games fairly often. So I thought I would create a jacket for him. Using the same seamless raglan pattern I've often used and Lion Brand Wool-Ease worsted in the Cranberry color I started at the neck.
This was the end of the first day. The safety pin marks where increases in the pattern went a particular way.

The second day I made fairly good progress.

I think this was the fourth day, I had a little stripe of the gold color and working into the hunter green at the bottom, with the sleeves on hold. I decided I would create the logo on the back at this point so that I wouldn't have to try to manipulate it later when it was finished and have the full bulk of the sweater working against me.

I found the logo that I wanted to use, and then searched the internet for a FREE chart generator.

I used duplicate stitch to create the logo on the back of the sweater. When that was finished, I worked to the end of the body. I believe this was the progress by the eighth day.

I picked up stitches along the bottom of the front to create pockets. Here is the finished left pocket and the beginnings of the right.

Pockets weren't part of the pattern and neither was the hoodie. I picked up the neckline stitches, the same as for a collar band, added a few for a casing and along the center back to the top then kirchener seamed the crown. I created an i-cord and used spring toggles to finish the hoodie.

Then the left sleeve and the right, with ribbed cuffs.

Try as hard as I might, I wasn't organized enough to sew the zipper in myself, so I called around and found a nice lady at the dry cleaners who sewed it in for me. I think she did a very nice job, as good as I would have done for myself, double stitching the zipper both near the teeth and at the edge of the band, and took care to match the colors. Her meticulous care really finished the whole project.

I took pictures of it and we boxed it up and sent it off to Minneapolis. On Saturday morning, we got a call from a very happy sounding ten-year-old.

It looks like it fits him pretty well too.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Self Storage Manager, Pros & Cons

I really do like my job.

There are some really cool aspects. For one, I'm home all day. So, I can do all kinds of housewifery things that I've never really been proactive at, like laundry. I'm constantly on the look-out for crockpot recipes and wondering if it's nuts to think I need more than one. I'm not big on baking but the occasional pot on the stove cooking all day is pretty cool. Not having to rely on convenient fast food feels healthier too and probably less expensive. Also, I have two dogs, so they get a walk during the day whereas if I worked somewhere else that may not ever happen.

A lot of people see the commute as the big advantage, which is pretty cool, I admit. My favorite part is that my husband is also here with me and so we keep tabs on each other health-wise and mental-wise. We get lots of affection and can show each other all the affection we crave as long as we aren't making customers or the dogs sick!

In this particular situation we also have all the utilities paid, so don't have the worry about the power bill or the water/sewer/garbage. We take care of the cable and phone bill, but I know in some companies, that's paid for. Not much that I need my car for, occasional runs to the bank or post office, so that cost is greatly reduced too.

One thing that I really love is that on occasion, I'm right where I need to be. So many people are struggling, and this is technically an unnecessary bill for most people. I am able to help somebody, whether it's a listening ear in times of trouble (an elderly woman came in who'd lost her spouse to cancer the night before ~ I had to give her a hug), or directions to the nearest location for FREE moving boxes. A few weeks back, a prospective tenant was confused about what size unit she would need as she needed to get rid of a few pieces of furniture and didn't know how to go about that. I was able to help her photograph and post those items on internet want ads, which sold almost immediately, and she was able to get on with her plans right away.

My tenants have become my community, my neighbors. I get to visit with them regularly and even when they no longer need storage, we have smiles and get caught up when we run into each other in the store, or out walking the dogs.

There are times when I wonder if Self Storage as a career choice was really the best decision I could have made.

As I am a resident, on-site manager, there's a lot of people in the world that think our office is also open 24/7. The other day, a perpetually delinquent tenant pounded (literally with his fist) on all the doors to the office and apartment because he couldn't get in, which got the dogs all riled up and disturbed our dinnertime. For them, this quantifies as an emergency, I guess. There doesn't ever seem to be a time when I am considered off duty, which can make it hard to be social with family, or to get things done for myself that requires I leave the facility like grocery shopping.

Also, I seem to be viewed by people who don't know me as out to steal what's stored here (intent to keep what's here for my own), or to use their personal information maliciously. Nothing could be further from the truth. I really loathe the extra stuff that gets left here, there has been very little of value that I've acquired, and most of that I've purchased because someone said they couldn't use it anymore and it was something I needed. I have a nice, real wood dresser upstairs, and a oak rocking chair that were in units on the facility and became mine that way ~ pretty minimal acquisitions in three years. (Oh, yes, many people see me knitting at my desk and bring me yarn ~ lots of acrylic stuff I can use in blankets or something.) Somewhere in the world, some person in my position must have stupidly done things like that, because I get a lot of ridicule for it.

The absolute worst part is having to auction someones things. I work really hard, beyond what my company asks me to do, to maintain good contact with tenants, and to make sure they are aware what's happening with their account. Even still, I've had to auction a unit or two this year. People treat me as if I'd stolen their things, when nothing could be further from the truth. It amazes me that the people who attend the auctions are so cavalier about it, too. They start calling days and weeks before the scheduled date, trying to pick me for information about the size or contents of the units and when the day arrives, they sign-in at my counter with eyes glazed and dreams of treasures making their cheeks glow. I suppose it's just like with any number of business ventures, people trying to make a living off the misfortunes of others. It makes me very ill during those days leading up to it and until it's over, and resurfaces when the individual who's lost their things calls to ask about it.

I do wish my facility was two or three times bigger than it is, we would like to be busier than we are, but for the most part, I am pretty content with where I am. Especially afternoons like today, where I'm sitting at my desk admiring the sunshine and the initial autumn colors outside my window, with my knitting in my hands. I feel like a contributing member of the human race. And I have the chocolate on my counter and a smile on my face ready for anybody that walks through my door.

Friday, October 15, 2010

For the baby

I'm waiting for a phone call about a sweater we mailed off a few days ago, so while I hold off posting about that, here's a different project that was recently completed.

A co-worker is having a baby in the next couple of weeks. Well, she's due in another week but she's being induced for health reasons on Monday. Last weekend, a few of us from the company got together with gifts for the, as yet unidentified gender, little one.

A couple of months back I showed you a simple garter stitched afghan, you may remember I referred to another one on the needles. Well, here it is.

Started on August 4th and finished on September 3rd, this is the same square knit from corner to corner with a lace edge. I was using up sport weight in my stash, but still I ended up needing to purchase the lighter blue (I chose blue, not because I suspect the baby will be a boy, but because mommy's got an affinity for it ~ when I filled in for her last spring, it was blue all over the office . . .) because I didn't have the quantity I thought I had and also two skeins of the white to finish the square and complete the edge. The edge, by the way, was from the book 'Victorian Lace Knitting Today' that I have borrowed repeatedly from the library but this was the first time I attempted any of the patterns.

Apparently I didn't get a completed shot of the back of this, so I may have to post the in-progress shot, if I can find it.
Anyway, this is the same raglan sleeve top-down that I've done many times, again adding the collar. I thought I would do the whole thing in mini cables, but then realized it would be too snug and not make the gauge. I began to think of a sleeper I had for my daughter that was a tuxedo style that I loved because it seemed to celebrate her introduction to the world. (In fact, it was the outfit I dressed her in for her first studio portraits at 4 days old.) So I sort of went with the bib design in front and tails in the back. Moss stitch for the bottom, to keep him rooted to the earth and stay with us a long time. This was worsted weight acrylic, and I know you can't see it but I made the button with some of the leftover and one of my stitch marker rings.

Socks, in a fine, possibly lace weight acrylic. I've made this pattern a few times, blue ones for the UPS guy, pink ones for the grandbaby girl my husband's friend was blessed with. And I have just made some yellow ones for the bank teller's baby, who doesn't know if its a boy or girl either.

If you are on, the pattern for the socks were free. Look for 'Baby Cable Bootie Socks by Dawn Brocco'. Actually there is such a wealth of patterns there, for free and to purchase (some are purchases with profits to charities) that I would recommend anyone who is not already on Ravelry and who knits or crochets needs to get themselves over there.

Hope your fall is starting off smoothly and I will be posting again with the latest project in just a couple days so don't forget to stop back by.
Oh, and just a note about all the acrylic used here: I have been knitting for about 30 years and, while I would prefer to knit with some of the finer fibers, I really can't fit what I would easily consume into my budget. That may be the primary reason but even if I could afford it, I would probably still use acrylic for such as blankets and kitchen potholders (I have crocheted many and my husband loves the ones in our drawer) but for new mommies, I feel very comfortable with making items of acrylic for them. New mommies can get easily overwhelmed, remembering as you toss the little things into the washer 'How was I supposed to wash that?' is not where I want them to be focused. Also, until any allergies the baby may have can be determined, acrylic is less likely to cause problems. I would hate to be the auntie that gave my kiddo that nasty rash.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My nightmare, two years ago

I very nearly lost my dear Superman, two years ago today.

This was part of a note I sent after that happened.

At 7 am, he woke me. He was ash gray and hurt all over, couldn't really speak to me. We called 911, they were here in about 2 minutes. They took us both by ambulance to a hospital a little further away because they had a CATHlab. Amazing but true: people don't get out of the way of ambulances. We got to the hospital, they were asking me all kinds of questions I couldn't answer like his SSN, his family's health history. Finally, I told them we haven't been married a year yet, I just didn't know. They got him through ER quickly and into that lab for a stent. At 9, just two hours later, I got to see him when they finished with him, he was no longer in pain, had good color and wanted to go home, in contrast to earlier he was VERY talkative and joking with everybody, almost wouldn't shut up!

His stay in the hospital was painful for all of us. Our little rat-terrier, Maggie, has had it tough, at one point I put the phone on speaker and let dad talk to her. That was almost cruel, she perked up but then she ran back and forth from the garage where the car is parked to the back patio door where his truck is parked for almost 20 minutes. I kept the office closed Monday, but I got up pretty early Tuesday to see him before coming back to open the office. Felt like I was running frantically to get back up there in the evening, early again Wednesday. On my way home that morning, he called to say they were sending him home.

He has been full of energy since he's been home. Not too many restrictions since his procedure did not include anything invasive. Our chiropractor came by today, his visit with him was about the longest he was in one place all day today.

Now, the uphill struggle: We need to apply for financial assistance to pay for all of this (we don't have medical insurance), not really sure who will help with what. Also need to find out if his stent will prevent him from flying, he goes to visit his daughter Monday for his grandson's birthday.

A lot of this seems overwhelming to me. The shock of almost having lost him when we'd only been together for so short a time hasn't completely worn off. Occasionally, it comes back to me and starts the tears again. This whole thing wasn't nearly so serious as some heart attack stories we've heard. Or some other stories for that matter. How in the world did they keep it together as well as they did when their loved ones first got sick? I was there with my mom when my step-dad had his by-pass surgery and with my good friend years ago when her husband had his. I was the one keeping everything together and organized in those situations but this time nearly broke me and that surprised me too.

So, I try to focus on the good news parts and the pieces of joy. I try to keep him from being frustrated with anything and keep him calm. I thought I was getting lots of hugs and kisses all day long before but now I can say it's almost constant, we are both so happy he's home. Yesterday, I was as happy as I can ever remember being, it was all I could do not to run outside in the sunshine and dance in the parking lot!

Remembering that day and thinking about all that's happened since, or what wouldn't have happened like getting to meet his grandkids and his daughter, meeting his friends, or adopting the second dog, or even remaining at this facility ~ none of those things may have happened if I had lost him. Losing him so soon after we were married, just two months short of our first anniversary, would have been a tragedy. I remember that they let me talk to him for a moment before he left the ER and headed to surgery and all I could think to tell him was not to leave me already. . . .

We still don't have medical insurance and we are still paying on those bills. Life has not been easy since then but it would have been unbearable if he hadn't been here to march through with me. I try not to think about that, but every day I do. Especially when we get stressed, or things are discouraging, I worry for his heart.

If you had a Superman in your life, I'm sure you would too.

Monday, September 27, 2010


One of the things I look forward to in the fall is the nearby fiber festival. Here at the self storage place they are one of my tenants. The first year I went I had no idea what it was about, but as a knitter I was intrigued by the 'fiber' in the middle of the event's title and plucked up my courage and went by myself.

The next year, I went, knowing a few of my new knitting group regulars would also be there. I shopped with them a little, but I love to just sit and people watch the best. I'm usually pretty broke, so people watching is pretty fun and low cost (please read that as FREE) for me.

That's what I did this year. I went over and found a spot in the shade and knitted away in my front row seat to the event.
This attendee brought their own fleece! And was as happy with being out in the sunshine as I was.
One of the things that I've heard many people look for when they attend the festival is this nice lady who spins angora wool right off the rabbit. She had two, a dark one and this little treasure. I've heard she also performs this amazing feat at the county fair. I'm thinking kids would be pretty impressed with that.

This gentle creature walked by me also, but I couldn't unclutch my knitting and warm the camera fast enough to get a better shot than this.
One of the things I like watching for is the projects people may have made from the treasures they've picked up in years past. These socks weren't made from festival finds, but I had to get a shot of them. Grandma made the five-year-old grandchild matching socks because she liked grandma's but they didn't fit!!!I think this was an exhibitor with yarn from her store, made into a beautiful jewel-toned shawlette.
This cardy looks like something I would have done. Feather and fan lace is one of my memorized patterns and my 'OCD' would have me sort the colors into this order. . .

A staple of this event is to purchase one of these South American baskets. I haven't purchased one, but I do own one that was left behind in a storage unit. It contains all my little leftovers.

One of the things you can count on seeing at the Fiber Festival is spinning. Some of these ladies are also in my knitting group. There is lots of tools to be found, to spin the various fleeces either on wheels or drop spindles, to the looms, needles and hooks, yarn to be purchased individually or in kits. One of my friends who attended for the first time told me that by the time we met up she was on overload.
I came home content, received lots of compliments on my project, many friendly faces and an afternoon in the sun is always a good thing, especially an afternoon spent knittng.
If you are wondering why I didn't post any pics of the project I was working on, stay tuned. It's to be a gift, the recipient should have it by mid October and then I can show it to you, too.
. . . and May the Fleece be with you.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Beach Time! ~ Labor Day Weekend 2010

Last winter I wanted to make sure we got to go to the beach this summer. Well, after sitting on pins & needles fretting about the weather, we actually kept our reservation and went. We got there about dinner time on Saturday, this was the view from our picnic table under the pop-up canopy.
Maggie is very happy to go anywhere. She ran back and forth into the waves very playfully. We think it may have been Dori's first time with sand in her toes. She seemed to like it, mostly walking with ears and tail up, sniffing strange things and running as much as I could keep up with her.

The weather was about as near perfect as could be. The only precipitation was some misting both mornings.

The park had some really great paths. This one looped around the airpad, paved for bicyclists, about two miles long.

I was hoping to get a picture of my knitting at the beach, but that didn't happen. Does knitting while blogging count?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The last adventure of August

I know it's September as I'm posting this and I'm late. It's been a kinda crazy week here at the Self Storage place. I have a afghan I'm trying to finish, I have been working on it for a month. I set a deadline of tomorrow night to finish it. I won't be posting pictures of it for a while as I have some other stuff to do that goes with it, but I will give you a hint: If you read a few posts back you've seen a similar project to the one in my hands.

I have been downloading some other stuff, and with this post I want to share with you. Last weekend, we attended an Art & Air Show about an hour from my house. It was nice to get away for a little while. Performing that night was the band 'America'. Outdoor venue, for 40 years of rockin', these guys still sound very good. I think what came through the best is how much they love what they are doing and appreciate that they are still doing it together. I will post the video on again, and the link will be here.

The next day, my walking buddy and I went over to the Dalia show. I took about 120 pictures, and posted the ones that weren't too out of focus over on my facebook profile, so if you came here from there, you've already seen them. I will share a couple of my absolute favorites here for those that didn't see the others.

That's about it for now. I'm hoping to post soon about how my Dori-dog is doing, and when I get this knitting project done. I have some other stuff in my head I'm trying to work through, and I'll probably be posting later about that. In the meantime, appreciate the summer for all it's worth, think the good thoughts for those you love and are far away and we will visit again soon. Happy September, everybody.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Adventure is 'Journey'

One of the many things that I love about my Superman is that he sings to me.

Singing, to me, is good medicine. If you are in a car, or in the shower, and you are moderately content with life, you sing. I believe that singing is sending your inner joy out into the world, and, let's face it, the world needs all the joy it can get.

Now, at this point, I could ramble on about all the things I love about him, but for now, let's talk about music. When I was alone, before we met, I spent many weekend evenings watching live music performed by bar bands. I love going to the park to watch the symphony. In fact, if it's free, I would go. I don't care if it's anybody I've heard, or what kind of music.

Nowadays, we don't get out much. It's hard. He tells me all the time about different concerts he's attended. Coming from off the beaten path, he had many occasions to win free tickets to see just about anybody you can think of. I have done that before too. It's really hard in the big city to get in on the contest lines. I probably wouldn't try, unless it was somebody I was hurting to see, but not with much optimism.

We have a bunch of cd's in the truck that we like to listen to, mostly greatest hits of different performers or bands. Not a lot of range, like my own personal collection would have, but it's his truck. On our recent roadtrip, we listened to The Eagles, America, AC/DC, Roy Orbison, Bad Company, Bread, Chicago, Hall & Oats, Santana, Neil Diamond, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Heart, etc. He sang along, it was loud enough I could sing the harmonies and not mess him up.

Earlier this summer, I was looking at all the different bands that were going to be in our area for the summer, wondering if anybody was affordable enough for us to see. Outdoor concerts at the winery, the zoo, the fairs, less expensive than some of the better venues, but at $40 a piece still out of our range, especially if you have to add entrance fees for the fair too.

About a half hour from home are a couple of different rodeo arenas that have events beyond the rodeo gatherings. We heard earlier in the summer about a Journey tribute band and started checking with the hardware store that was supposed to carry the tickets. Journey is one of those cd's we listen to, that he sings along with to me. I remember most of their music very particularly because I worked in a skating rink as a teen-ager where their stuff was played fairly often. We started reading about the cover band, who turned out to be local. Superman was getting more and more anxious about it, as the hardware store didn't get the tickets till about a week before the event. We could have purchased at the door, but this saved us about half the cost, which we really needed.

Finally, the big day arrives and we go out to the arena. The doors opened at 7, and a country band, complete with a talented fiddler, played. Superman felt conspicuous about his hair. I was wearing sandals with a skort and t-shirt, underdressed for the roped-off gravel parking lot, so not any more comfortable than he was. When his band came on after almost two hours of waiting, and struck up their first notes, he was glued to the stage.

Here's the thing I gotta tell ya: My Superman has a big heart, that's been pretty badly broken. He carries so much sadness around with him, plus the physical pain of unresolved health issues, that very rarely do I see him enjoy anything. Yes, I work at it and I do see him smile or laugh, but those are almost rare. It means so much to me to see him happy.

So, when I saw him drawn to this band, I sat back and watched him. I didn't want to break that magic spell. I could see that he was floating, elevated, like people wish heaven could be. I watched the way people reacted to him, I went to him so that they could see he was OK, just really enjoying this VERY GOOD THING he'd found. You must know that in this rural area, country music is king, and southern rock only tolerated, since a lot of southern rock was the rock & roll of the 70's, this band was acceptable only as in-betweeners to the other bands.

We left after they were finished. It was late, the dogs had been locked in the hot house for hours, it had been a very long day (attended a gathering for the company earlier) and we were very tired. It may have seemed rude to leave without hearing the main act, but we weren't the only ones and we were so exhausted we wouldn't have cared if anybody had said anything.

For days, Superman flew. So buoyed by the euphoria of hearing some of his favorite music performed really well by true musicians who were young enough to have the energy to really rock and mature enough to care how to do it well was priceless to him. He had seen Journey in person once, live, after the singer known as Journey's best lead singer, Steve Perry, had left. So, in his opinion the best thing about seeing that earlier performance was the guitarist. This cover band has excellent musicians, but what Superman appreciated most was the guitarist. 'He didn't miss a lick' I heard him say repeatedly. Over those next few days we found the band on the internet. We found that they form parts of other local bands. He 'friended' them on the social networks and got responses! I use the exclamation point there because that's how he felt, excited and grateful to be acknowledged. He saw that they had one more performance scheduled and then nothing else on the calendar as the Journey tribute band, so, he purchased tickets to go to that too, wanted to get a t-shirt for both of us that he didn't at the first performance and didn't get and was truly regretting.

See that smile? It doesn't happen often enough. He's a happy boy in his new shirt.

At this point in the movie tragedy strikes. The particular event was sponsored by a radio station. When we first got there, we were put off by the music being blasted over the loudspeakers. The doors were to open at a scheduled time, but apparently the venue was hoping people came ready to spend money, because they were probably never closed. We were half an hour early, and people had gathering in a banquet room and finding seats at large tables. We listened to other people around us, it felt like they were there, like we were, to hear some of those great songs that trigger happy memories from decades ago. One man was wearing a Journey tour t-shirt, he and his wife were celebrating their 27th anniversary. Another couple was celebrating their anniversary too. A woman in line in front of Superman at the bar said she was wearing a wig and recently had a double mastectomy. I couldn't have told you that from looking at her, she seemed very happy to be there.

I wasn't too impressed with the opening band, and not sure I can identify why. Something seemed off with the sound, the acoustic and electric guitar, the harmonies were like lemon juice and salt in the wounds to my ears. There were a few girls that danced and flirted with them, very drunkenly. We were a little put off but we were looking forward to our band and didn't think anything of it.

They had set up a stage with a dance floor in front of it, seemed like 12x12 feet, but maybe it was 20x20. Once the local radio station guys let our band get started, it seemed incredibly small. I tried to enjoy watching Superman enjoy his music again, and enjoy them also for myself, this was such a treat to see them again so soon, but my aversion to having bodies rubbing themselves on me, being able to smell their drinks, their breath, the product in their hair and the coverup on their pimples began to sicken me very quickly. People kept shoving Superman too, and several times nearly fell onto the stage. We started about four feet from it but were soon mere inches from the band member's feet. After about four songs, he said 'let's go' and I turned and plowed my way out of there, pulling him with me. I was shaking so bad while I drove home that I'm sure I was driving as erratically as all those bad drivers I wished the cops would catch. I sat up for quite awhile after we got home waiting for all that negative energy inside me to fade, but was up to open the office the next morning.

He was online when the guitarist from the band logged on the morning afterwards. It hadn't been that great for them either. The lead singer's wife WAS pushed and fell onto the stage. He said that after just a few songs they looked out to see all their friends and they were gone! There was also a fight that broke out in front of them, and no security came to break it up. I don't think there was ANY security. Superman told them how great it was to see them, but was rethinking the venues to which we would try again. It sounded like that band was pretty disappointed in the end also.

While they were instant messaging back and forth, the guitarist invited us to see them at the private gig that same night. This was the next night after the disaster, and only one full week from the first time we had seen them the first time. We were incredulous. What an honor! I took a nap, Superman tried but I think he was too excited, and after dinner we went. This event was the 20th annual garden party a couple in neighboring suburbia put on. Never having heard of it before, we were unprepared for the professional stage, sound and lighting set up between the garage and the house, among the fruit trees, with lawn chairs in the grass of someone's back yard. We met the man, and tried to thank him at the end, but I'm not sure he understood how truly grateful we were. Certainly the effort he must put in to doing this every year, with the great potential for upsetting the neighborhood was herculean.

And our boys, exhausted as they must have been from the previous night's hellacious efforts, were wonderful. The wanted Superman to model his shirt, but he didn't have it on, so another fellow did, and he felt bad about that, but that was the only bad thing about the evening. He's waiting for me now to download video of the night, but I see he's fallen asleep in his chair now. I think there's a sweet smile on his face.

I couldn't be more happy than if he was singing to me.

(I've tried to post my video of the band but it won't load. You can check them out at

Or you can view the video I posted.