A Solitary Life*

As a child I was left to my own devices much of the time. I remember being five years old and playing in the sandbox for hours. At one time I mimic'd my parents' planting flowers and planted 'flowers' (weeds) in my sandbox. I grew a nice crop that year. I spent a lot of time picking cherries off the tree in our back yard and eating them and even more time playing with my beagle puppy.

As I grew older I spent time with  my dog or doing chores… everything from taking out the garbage to shining my fathers' shoes to weeding the gardens to picking up the apples that fell from the tree and scooping dog poop out of the yard. I was to set the table and clear the table and do the dishes. Saturdays were not for cartoons but for cleaning house. Dusting, vacuuming, cleaning of bathrooms with old toothbrushes, washing windows until they gleamed.

Somewhere in-between was homework and cooking and living – trying to be invisible.

I became very good at entertaining myself. Some would think I was a bit odd… I would sit and rock and stare at my image in a mirror and wonder why my parents hated me and why I wasn't good enough. I would listen to music and read and write and dream. I would save the screaming and crying and throwing myself down the staircase until those times when I was alone in the house. It never seemed to hurt. The bruises were already set in too deep.

I wish I'd figured out earlier in my life how to break this awful cycle before my childen had to experience it. I think they forgive me. I hope they forgive me. I can't expect them to forget. That's just not the way it's done.

I lived a solitary life and in many ways am still a very solitary person, surrounded by the bubblewrap of love that my husband and children have provided me. It keeps me sane in those times when the darkness threatens to envelope me again. I will not let it have me – not with the full immersion it held me in once. There will always be that glimmer of light that my family, and, yes, even you guys give to me. It keeps me whole. It keeps me sane.

*Re-printed from The Dark Madness

Five Days of Thankfulness: Day 2 – I'm so grateful that "god" (whatever that represents) felt my pain and sent me my beautiful children and husband. Without their love each and every day I couldn't laugh. I couldn't enjoy this life that's been given me. I used to teasingly tell people when I was in my teens and early twenties that I was insane. When they would ask, 'really'?… I would answer 'certifiably'. Although I was never officially diagnosed as such, I'm convinced without the people in my life I would be locked in a padded cell somewhere never to laugh again… well, unless it was maniacally. Even on my worst days they bring me joy.

Monday Mumblings

* In case you missed it… I GOT SLEEP! WHOOOT! Amazing what a few extra hours and a long nap can do for an attitude.

* I am actually taking two days off of work to prepare for Thanksgiving. I will clean and cook and clean some more (and hopefully tuck another nap or two in there somewhere). Not all my kids can come as some are going to their spouses family get-togethers. That's fine. I knew it from the get-go that when they got married and/or started dating seriously that I would have to "share". Doesn't mean I won't miss them, just means I understand. I bit the bullet and invited my parents… and MIL… and, yes, even BIL and his family. I had an inside tip that his wife is spending the day with her parents, so it may be managable. Oh, and my MIL has a sis and bil visiting, so I said to bring 'em. Once you get to a certain point, what's a couple more?

* Several people are doing this 30-days of gratitude thing. I'm a little late getting on the band wagon, so I'll just make it five days of gratitude in honor of Thanksgiving: Day 1.  I am grateful for all my blog friends who come around day after day even though I've been too busy to reciprocate. I appreciate each and every one of you. Thank you for being here.

Encouraging Realism

Do you ever think of something, write it down, then look at it later and wonder what the hell were you thinking? Okay, maybe it's just me. We've talked about the way I think. Just go with it, 'kay?

I was having a conversation with Hubs the other day. He's a bit of a cynic when it comes to the internet. I was explaining this whole Google Talk thing and how, if I remember to boot it up, I have it on at work. It just sits down in the corner and, basically, tells me when I have new mail. That's my primary use for it anyway. However, one of its uses is supposed to be for people to IM each other. Although I don't really use it much for that purpose, there is one guy who pops in pretty much daily just to say 'hi' and to see how my day is going.

The other day I got home from work and went in my home office to see the Google Talk window open on my desktop. I was surprised to see "I" had been talking to him. Thinking back, I had not logged into Talk at work that day, so what the heck was this? It appeared my daughter must have been out to the house and said something to him on Talk, then left… leaving him wondering what was going on. There were several inquiries on his end and, of course, no responses.

Later I got online and explained to him what happened and he said he figured it must be her, as he reads her blog too and knows she can be onry.

I was telling all this to my Hubs and laughing at it all when he asked, as he does when I talk about people online, "who is this?"… and I cut to the shorthand "he's the young journalist from Kentucky". Hubs says, "Suuuurrrreee he is", in that skeptical tone. Well, how do you respond to that? I defend. "He is!"  Of course Hubs replies, "He could be anybody. He could be a Mexican posting in Afghanistan".

Now, I don't like to think of myself as gullible. I like to think I'm smart, especially when it comes to the internet. Of course, Hubs does have a point and yes, I realize I'm living on a farm in Iowa… I may not be the most savvy person on the planet. Perhaps a bit too trusting? I like to think I've got some idea what you people are really like and that you are being good, honest people. I like to think that the emotional bonds I'm forming with you are real and not just a figment of my imagination and that some day I may actually meet some of you and find you to be just as you are in this virtual world.

Which brings me to the real thought behind this post. I was thinking about how many of you are going through troubled times right now. How many are suffering because of loss, or medical issues, or strained relationships, or financial difficulties, or problems related to other things completely out of your control like weather or wildfires. I appreciate your sharing. I do. It sounds strange, but I am glad you choose to share… I feel it makes you more human, more real. Having said that, I get emotionally invested in some of you. Although I have never met you, I sincerely wish you well. I want to go beyond the pathetic electronic {{hug}} . Yet, the words aren't there. How do you make someone you've never met understand that you really do care? Hand in hand with that, how do you protect yourself from the people who are making you feel this way and it isn't even real –  just a scam devised to wring that emotional investment out of you? I think it is a fine line between trust and caring and that need to be cautious.

What do you think? How do you get that feeling across to someone that your really care? How many times has it backfired on you and you've found out you've been duped?

When Friday Used to Mean the Weekend Was Coming

It is Friday.

In some most people's lives this means the weekend is just around the corner. Only a few short hours from now, two whole days of rest and relaxation – or at least some choice in personal activity – will occur.

For lots of people Friday means payday.

For some people Friday night is 'date night'.

For other people Friday night is 'go out and tie one on 'cause you know you have two whole days to recover' night.

Most often, weekends now mean I spend one day cleaning and doing laundry and all the 'chores', and with luck, the other day I get a 'jammie day'. If I'm feeling particularily lazy, I may even take a jammie weekend. (Mmmm…jammie weekend. Give me a second to relish.) That sounds soooo good right now!

When the kids were young, Friday night was pizza night. We lived in the country, so no delivery, but we'd go get pizzas and  watch "Miami Vice" and stay up late to watch "Friday Night Videos" (before we had cable and MTV, and when MTV actually played music – don't pretend you don't know what I mean.)

Friday is the day to make plans for the weekend. If you are doing home repair or remodeling, it is the lists of tools and supplies and where and when and what will you transport it all in. If you are cooking meals for the week it is the grocery list and the coupon clipping. If it is mid-sports-season it is tail-gate planning or figuring out which of your friends has the best TV to watch the big game on. Kids? Parties are usually on weekends as are play dates and special homework projects or, god forbid, five little-league games. Are you going on a trip? Logistics. If you are vegging? What do you need to do tonight so you don't have to leave the house the rest of the weekend.

I think this is one of the things I miss most about this time of the year. I'm so busy I don't get to relish "the weekend", so it makes Friday just another Tuesday.

What does Friday mean to you? Do you have weekend plans?

Special Delivery

Today's the day. I've put it off long enough. It isn't that I don't like to do it, I just don't feel I have the time to do it. No one does, not really. Not this time of the year. Yet? There is no other time of the year that it would work as well. It has to be now. This week. I'm even more tired just thinking about it.

Those of you who have been around the last three years of this blog probably already figured out what I'm talking about. Then again, you aren't required to remember each and every post and the various activities I talk about here. That can be a good thing, when I feel I want to be a lazy-ass and pull something out of the archives to cheat post. I considered it this time. Only briefly. Then decided in the whole Nano-poo-blo thingy I would make it a fresh post. Just. For. You.

Figured it out yet?

Today is turkey day! Whoo! Wheee! Wowwee!

Confused?

Every year my boss gives away turkeys. I laughed when a friend made some remark to me about "how nice of him to help out those in need". Only it isn't "those in need". He's giving them away to customers who spent x-amount of dollars (think big) with our company this year. This can add up to thousands of turkeys company-wide and they all need to be hand-delivered this week. Right in the middle of one of the busiest times of the year for us in terms of work, we have to spend time running all over the countryside delivering turkeys.

I'm lucky, in that I only deliver a few to our landlords. It still will take me several hours after I get off 'work' tonight to do this. Depending on the person you're delivering to, it can mean you have to visit a bit… one of my least favorite things in the world, you know, being all "avoidant" and such. (I used to say I was anti-social, but was corrected…thanks Deb.) Usually Hubs goes with me and that almost makes it worse since they're his landlords, too, and if they know he's in the car then they really want to chat. Tonight I'm hoping to let him off the hook and possibly speed up the process… my daughter has agreed to go along. With any luck, I can just wave toward the car and say something like, "my daughter's waiting, gotta get going" and we can wisk on over to the next stop. Keep your fingers crossed, 'kay?

I'm tired already.

Kids – Not the Billygoat Kind pt II

My husband got the pre-packaged family. When he got me, he got two kids – under the age of five. To his credit, he always treated them like his own. To the point where he's gotten very jealous when they had to go to their biological dad's on weekends… or, in more recent times, he had to see the 'other family' at the kids' weddings. To be honest, the kids have loved him like a dad, too, and have even told me that when they hear the word 'dad', that Hubs is the person they think of.

When we got together, adding to the family was discussed. Hubs' dad was an only child and was the last of the family line. At that point, his sister was married and had a boy child, but had given him the family name as a middle name (does that really count? I don't think so.I think that's just making you feel better) His brother had no serious prospects on the horizon, so who knew if he would ever produce offspring (as we know, he did end up with two boys – goody goody). So in talking about expansion, I gave told him he could have three shots at a boy. Thank goodness he got it in two! 

As I look back and as I've stated many times before, I made tons of mistakes. I always say kids don't come with manuals (no, Dr. Spock does NOT count). Most people do the best they can with the knowledge of how they were treated. You either set your mind that you won't make the same mistakes, or, if you were lucky enough to have a wonderful childhood, you try and figure out how you can do it exactly the same. But it is impossible. Every child is different. One thing I could never get over was how different my children were. Out of four kids you'd think at least two would be alike. All four looked different, acted different, and had to be dealt with differently. Strangely enough, they are more alike as adults – even looking more alike – than they ever were as kids.

I am really proud of my kids. I love them deep into my soul. Each of them has a special place, none more than the other. Despite me… they turned out to be really terrific people. My eldest, the only one so far with children, is such a good mom. Her son is a fantastic kid. Yet? I'm not one of these people who feel that urge to have grandchildren. I love my grandson to bits. But to say I need more? No. If any of the others decide to have children, I'm sure I'll love them to pieces too… but you will never catch me pressuring anyone to have kids. Not everyone wants them and that is just fine with me. I feel for the women who want them desperately and can't have them… and the ones who go through IVF and other procedures because they want them so badly. At times I feel guilty because it was so easy for me… almost too easy. When we started 'trying' to have children it didn't take for a couple of months and there were disappointments, but a couple of months compared to some women who try for years… a drop in the bucket. (If you get a chance and want to see a beautiful baby love success story, go over and see Helen. I can't think of too many people who are so deserving.)

Strangely enough, I have a hard time with other peoples' children. Yes, I can tolerate the extra noise in a restaurant. No, I don't think you should take your baby and/or underage child to the movies. Yes, I can look at them and think they're cute. No, I can't stop the feeling I'd like to smack them sometimes. I can totally see why some people never want kids. Pets are much easier. Also, you can crate them when their bad. Kids? Um… no.

Kids – Not the Billygoat Kind

Ellen had a post that I had to put my two cents worth into. (You've probably noticed how much you all influence my thoughts. Remember that. Be careful what you post. You never know who you'll influence!) She was explaining why she didn't have kids. I understand perfectly. As a matter of fact, every time I remember I have children it floors me. Seriously.

When I was growing up an only child I wanted siblings. Most kids do. I don't think I wanted them for the normal reasons… for someone to play with, but rather I wanted someone else to take the heat from the 'rents. When you are an only child and something gets broken, you have very little wiggle room. There is "me" or "the dog" and "the dog" usually wasn't the culprit. You don't have the allusive extra child living in the house… "Notme". As much as you would like to have "Notme" living in the house, when you are an only child "Notme" doesn't come around. At least, if he does he certainly doesn't stay long.

As I grew I became convinced I never wanted to get married nor did I ever want to have kids. I'd seen what a balls-up job my parents did of their marriage (yes, still married even to this day… happy? the verdict is still out on that one.). I also wasn't too crazy about their child-raising skills and from my angle I certainly didn't want to make that trip with another human being.

In my teens I babysat. A lot. If that doesn't convince you not to want kids, I don't know what will. I did maid service for some people in the neighborhood, too. People who I also watched their kids sometimes. Let me put it this way, I would rather clean their houses.

Of course as the saying goes, "we make plans and god laughs"… He/she/it was laughing long and hard. I'm in my second marriage (I'm much better now) and have four grown kids. One even has a kid of her own! I'm not sure how it happened. Turns out I was one of the 0.3%. Twice. That makes me special, right?  You know, the Pill is 99.7% effective? Now you understand? Let me be clear. Once I began the process, there was no turning back and I've seriously never regretted having kids. But it was rather ironic that I would be such a fertile myrtle, doncha think?

My first was not an easy baby. She was a premie by two months and only weighed 3lb 6oz. Luckily, she had very little trouble and after a couple of months in the NICU to get up to the 5lb release weight (like she's a fish…hmmm..) she came home. That's where she became work. Premies that little will literally sleep to death if you let them. They don't have what it takes to wake up and eat. So, every three hours I would have to wake her up and try and get an ounce of formula down her. This involved rough treatment – flicking the bottoms of her feet, rubbing her head, basically all the things that would really piss off a normal baby. It would usually take at least an hour to get it done, then back to sleep for another two hours until the next feeding. 24 hours a day. Not only the feedings, but back then they didn't have such a thing as premie diapers or clothes. Newborn ones were huge on her. I had to fold newborn diapers up to make them fit, and an aunt gave me doll clothes for her to wear. She rarely was out of the little sleeper sacks, because it was the only thing that would fit!

When my second baby came almost exactly two years later, he was such an easy baby by comparison. He would eat, sleep, and grow all on schedule and it was such a change. Of course, by the time he came along my first was only just starting to catch up so at one point it was almost like having twins. Is it any wonder they grew up being close?

~~to be continued~~

The Man Factor

Andie brought up a point on her blog that I'd like to address. (She's private, so you may not get "in" to her.) She was talking about her experience being hassled in a store by someone trying to get her to sign up for some stuff and she kept saying 'no', but the guy wouldn't listen until she mentioned she had a husband, then he finally heard the word 'no'.

My experience is similar but different. Yes, I too have had the experience where the 'little woman' can't make the decision on her own so we mustn't talk to her – especially if the husband is standing right there. When that happens, my husband is quick to point out to them that I am the one making the decision, so they'd better snap to it and talk to me.

This happened when we built our new house. Hubs left it all up to me. The design, the furnishings, the location. He had input and I asked him for suggestions on areas that directly invoved him, but basically I handled it all. (He just wanted to know how much it cost.) He would have the contractor or electrician call him up with questions and he would always refer them to me. They learned quickly that calling him got them nowhere.

The farm is a joint effort. Although I work "in town" and he works the farm, he keeps me in the loop and even as he tries to get me to make decisions on equipment, I'll tell him that's "his department". I always tell him I don't expect him to buy the computers and he shouldn't expect me to make the decision on equipment. However, it is nice to be asked. He also makes all the marketing decisions – a job I don't envy one bit. Other day-to-day farm things are handled by him, too. I handle the bills and the bookwork. Occasionally there will be some mix-up and I'll have to call a vendor to try and straighten out the problem. Nothing makes me madder than to have them tell me "we can't talk to you about this because it is in your husband's name". Don't go there. My name is on it, you may just not see it. This irritates Hubs, too, and he's been known to call them up and chew them out for not talking to me. I don't want to hear you bring up privacy, 'cause it isn't the issue here.

My current pet peeve on this issue is my new car. Skippy the Deerslayer just had her first birthday on Friday. She turned one. I love her. No, I mean I like her a lot (you should never love something that can't love you back.). When we bought her the salesman learned quickly that she was going to be my purchase, my decision, and he was very good at speaking to me. From that point on, I've been pissed with the company. Why? Because every little email, survey, customer promotional material, reminders, everything comes in my husband's name. He won't even drive the thing!! I've told every person who called about the car that this needed to be changed, I've told the company where I bought it, I've indicated it in written responses. Everyone keeps telling me "we'll get that taken care of"… and, needless to say, nothing has been done. It really is souring me on the company. If they don't listen, it isn't likely I'll be back. Yeah. I'm like that.

So… have you had situations like this? Yes, I understand this can go both ways. Men, feel free to tell me if it has happened to you, too.

Good News Bad News

Ah, yes… again we have a quality Na-no-poo-poo blog post. (Why can't I remember the name of that thing? Oh yeah. We talked about that. Nevermind.)

It is Sunday, typically your day of rest. Somebody's day of rest. Not mine.

In the bad news department: Tech support never contacted me and my computer program is still locking me out.

In the good news department: Tech support never contacted me and my computer program is still locking me out.

See how nicely that worked out? If tech support had, in fact, unlocked my program, I'd be writing this from work instead of the cozy confines of my bed.

Further good news bad news~

Bad news: Yesterday afternoon I get a call from Hubs. My son was driving the tractor through the field putting on anhydrous (if you don't understand this farmer-speak, just keep reading as understanding is not necessary) the windshield of the tractor exploded!!

Good news: Son wasn't hurt, just scared shitless. Hubs said when son called him his voice was about four octaves higher than normal. It will be fixed, but probably not until Tuesday. No clue why it happened.

More? You say you want more?

Good news: (Didya see how I switched it up on ya there? Keep up, people.) The new ergonomic keyboard and mouse I bought work beautifully, after some minor adjustment to my brain. The keyboard takes some getting used to but once you do it works famously.

Bad news: I am going back to my old keyboard. Why? Because I can't type a fucking thing right on any other keyboard now. The world doesn't run on ergonomic keyboards. If it did, I'd be set. Unfortunately, even changing out my home desktop computer to an ergonomic keyboard has only managed to screw up Hubs' typing skills (yes, he has mad skillz). Still? Typing on my laptop became a joke. A JOKE. I don't like to be joking when I'm trying to type in a swift and accurate manner. So… anybody want an ergonomic keyboard? I'm keepin' the mouse. I loves the mousie.

So, that's it for today. Looking forward to a day off. Well, off of my "town" job. I still have all that laundry, dishes, bookwork, yada yada yada… you know. Still? The company is much better at this job.