Monday, November 30, 2015

The thing I remember about my Grandpa Art

My grandpa Art died today at the age of 99.  I called him a time traveler. 

The thing that comes to me when I think about him is faith.

He had enormous faith.

Faith that if you put seeds to the earth and added water and tending, plants would rise up.

Faith that if you sat patiently enough and set the hook correctly you would bring home fish for dinner.

Faith that wood and nails could be sculpted into a table or a shelf or a swing. 

And an unwavering faith in God.  Faith that God would provide and God would show the way.  I never knew anyone else who held such faith in their beliefs.  His faith was something that was a part of him.  It was simply understood that my Grandfather placed his trust in Jesus and believed that all would be well.

He's been trying so hard to find his way to the other side over the last few weeks.  Last night, my mother was decorating her house for Christmas and talking to my late Grandma Ruth.

"Ruth, we need a little help down here.  He's trying so hard but I don't think he knows the way.  Please help him. We love him so much and he's working so hard."

And she came to get him.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

I'm going to spew my opinion

So, once again Planned Parenthood is facing being defunded by the government.  There are conservative lawmakers that don't like Planned Parenthood and want to stop them from receiving reimbursement funds from treated women using Medicaid.

Why don't they like Planned Parenthood?  They say it's abortion services.  They dismiss the fact that PP offers a LOT more than pregnancy termination.

Planned Parenthood is an easy target to make an example out of for a pro-life politician looking to move up.  And they don't have to feel bad about denying access to health services to anyone because the women they're impacting are women who have sex.

Women who aren't married who are going to have sex with multiple partners.  Women who are married but don't want to have babies.  Young women who aren't going to tell their moms.  Women who want to have sex and want to stay healthy while having sex go to Planned Parenthood.

These women aren't deserving of easy access to anyone who can help them control their reproductive cycle and keep them healthy.  Women who have sex should be ashamed.  Ashamed and humiliated and accept the title of "whore" and "slut" and slap a red letter "A" on their blouses so everyone can see what a harlot they have become.

The underlying tone of these proceedings is that women should not need birth control or abortion, they should keep their legs closed until marriage and then have as many babies as God chooses to give them.  (Ironically, Planned Parenthood is happy to help you with prenatal care to make sure you have a healthy baby.)  Planned Parenthood is encouraging women to have sex and have it without getting pregnant.

Any misogynist would go after Planned Parenthood with a vengeance.  Because women aren't supposed to actually HAVE sex.  Women have been sexualized for centuries.  What we're seeing now is the craziness that is starting to get attention.

Young women and girls in schools are being told that their bodies are distracting to boys so they need to cover up.

The message is essentially this:  The boys are distracted by your tits.  And it's your fault because you're the one with tits.  If you didn't have them we wouldn't have this problem so you need to cover up. No, we're not going to tell him to learn to focus and have respect, he's not the one with tits.

We live in a culture where when a woman is raped, she's told it's her fault.  Was she drunk? Why did she go to his room?  Why did she drink so much?  Why did she go home with him if she didn't want to have sex?  Wasn't she sending a mixed message?

When Charlie Sheen had the police called on him by an adult film actress as he'd shoved her around and thrown her stuff all over the room, the question everyone asked her was if she was there to trade sex for money.  If she was, then that was a business transaction and he still was in the wrong to shove her around.  She and her attorney were interviewed by George Stephanopolous on Good Morning America.  He pressed the issue saying "Because if she was it says something about your client."  In other words:  Your client is a dirty whore who had it coming.  

It's goes even deeper than that.  When girls as young as 12 are arrested for prostitution in certain states, they are not taken into the foster care system where they can get off the streets. They're processed like any other woman selling herself and is tossed back out for her pimp to pick up. Even a CHILD who takes money for sex, which cannot possibly be her choice, is seen as a nasty whore.

I recently read a book about a string of prostitute murders on Long Island in the last 5 years.  Nobody really cared because these women took money in exchange for sex.  Women who take money for sex are disposable.  They're raped and killed and tossed along the sides of the road like trash, because that's how they're seen, as trash. 

How many child molesters are given probation on a first offense?  Of course, it's the first reported offense, not the first first offense.

It's a general disrespect and, frankly, disgust for women that is held by a chunk of society.  And women do it too.  Women have GOT to stop calling each other 'slut' and 'whore', it just hurts all of us.

Sorry if this didn't make much sense.  I'm kinda pissed. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

My job, I didn't lose it, I still know where it is but there's some other guy there doing it - Bobcat Goldthwait

As Bobcat said, I know where my family is, there's just someone else there doing it. It's been that way since I moved out.  I relocated, and another woman has been there every time I go to see my kids.

It's reminding me of how the actor playing Darren on "Bewitched" changed with no explanation.  It's like I punched out and she punched in to take over laundry, dishes, serving dinner at the table and making home repairs.

Like it's not bad enough there's another woman involved at all.  And has been involved for a very long time.  I get to show up twice a week and be reminded that someone else took over my family after I fucked it up so badly.  Not that I made the mess all by myself, but that's another story.

I've been having a lot of mixed emotions about my situation the last several weeks.  I don't want to be jealous of my ex and everything she's given him and my children, but I am. 

The kids went to visit their paternal grandparents for two weeks.  When I arrived to pick them up after they'd returned, I saw that all the house windows had been replaced with dual pane jobbers.  Something I'd wanted for a long time, but we'd never had the funds to make that happen. 

So, here I am, working 9 to 11 hours a day, on my feet, in a kitchen which leaves me tired all the time.  I miss my kids desperately and I'm too tired to play with them when I see them during the week.  I see them 6 hours a week when they don't spend the weekend with me but they're with their dad's girlfriend all day when school is out. 

She took them shopping for birthday gifts for their dad, but they didn't even know it was my birthday until I told them the morning of. 

I've been summarily dismissed. 

I was at work today, filling rice bowls and thinking about how much Christmas is going to suck this year.  My kids are going to get some extravagant gift from her and their dad, while I'll be giving them something inexpensive or something I made.  They'll hug their new mom, tell her she's the best and shrug off the sad little stuff they got from me. 

And all of a sudden, I had the very clear understanding of why some parents choose to move away and do the long-distance parent thing.  It hurts so much to see them with someone else.  If I relocated, there wouldn't be anymore back and forthing.  They could be in one place all week long.  They wouldn't have to tell their friends "I have to go to my mom's now."  or "I can't sleep over I'm going to my mom's tonight."  They wouldn't have to listen to me tell them I can't afford to get them earbuds or another Xbox game. 

(I'm going to interject with a confession.  I almost didn't move here.  I almost stayed in California with my children.  I realized last week that I should have listened to my instincts and stayed on the west coast.   This entire venture was doomed from the start.  Making that admission to myself was incredibly difficult.)

Then my mind wandered off into thinking about  the possibility of  just leaving them to have their family and I wouldn't have to watch.  I wouldn't have to  be reminded of my massive failure.

So,  on my break, I took to Facebook and said "I'm having a particularly difficult time dealing with the divorce today. It's one of those days where I wonder if it wouldn't be easier if I removed my self from the picture. Then they could be a family but I wouldn't have to watch."

There was an outpouring of wonderful comments, messages and texts from many people in my life, for which I am very, very grateful.  It brought me back into a better head space and I was able to go along with my afternoon with my children.  They brought a couple of friends with them to my place.  We had a nice swim and a nice dinner and a generally nice time.

My son still asks to go "home", when he gets tired.  They'll come stay with me this weekend for the first time in almost a month (the trip to see their grandparents ate up two of my weekend and then the four of them went to an anime convention in San Antonio the weekend after they got back) and I know I'll have to deal with that. 

I'm still very sad, but I'm getting myself prepared to be hopeful. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

It's been a Harper Lee themed week

I got the new book Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee for my birthday.  I got 20 pages into it, got mad and had to put it down for a few days.  I had to come back to it with a more intellectual approach and understanding that this was a first draft of a first book.

It is definitively NOT To Kill a Mockingbird. But what in this world is?  Still, the writing is crisp.  The attempt to make her point is very heavy handed and required me going back and re-reading, trying to understand what she was trying to communicate.  And I'm a smart cookie.  I ended up having to look up facts about the constitution to try and grasp what it was she was trying to tell me.

There are glimpses of the writing I knew in Mockingbird, which I thrilled to see. 

After finishing it, I decided to go back and re-read To Kill  a Mockingbird. This book changed my life.  I could go on for days about it, but I'll suffice it to say that I enjoyed re-discovering it after a few years of not touching that particular volume. It still reads like the wind to me.  Reads like the wind, paints pictures, engages me and still makes my mind boggle at the unfairness in the world and the importance of doing the right thing despite what society's rules tell us. 

This Saturday, the Paramount theater in downtown Austin had a screening of the film version.  Joel and I went to check it out as we're both big fans.  The person who coordinates the programming for the summer film schedule made a short speech before the movie.  He told us that Rock Hudson was the person the studio wanted to play Atticus.  I said out loud "Oh, that would have been soooo wrong."  How could anyone but Gregory Peck play Atticus Finch? 

I expected to enjoy the movie but I didn't expect to cry.  I didn't expect tears to come running out of my eyeballs when Scout says "Hey Boo."  or when Tom Robinson was testifying or when Mayella Ewell flew into hysterics because she thinks she being made fun of when a man is being polite to her. 

I wasn't the only one. There was a great deal of sniffing and rustling of napkins.   Joel and I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around South Congress having sodas from Big Top Candy and discussing the movie.  We got off on a tangent about what makes a person trashy while talking about the Ewell family.

What does make a person trashy?  It's not income, because I've known people who have tons of money but have a trashiness about them.  It's not appearance.  I work with a woman who is missing one of her front teeth and has a couple crude tattoos, but she has a distinct level of class about her.

It's this odd, intangible concept much like charisma.  I haven't been able to put my finger on it.  Do you have any ideas?

We also wondered if there's a new movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird in the works.  He asked me who I thought should play Atticus if they should make the horrid mistake of remaking the film.  I thought a minute and answered Daniel Day Lewis, although I don't know that anyone could do the part justice.  

I will say, all this submersing myself in southern gothic literature and film has kept me distracted from the fact that my 25th wedding anniversary would have been this week.  It also helped that I completed a new painting, am finishing up one I started a while back and I've got the background to a third washed in already.

Meanwhile, my children have returned from their two weeks with their grandparents in North Carolina and I'll see them tomorrow for the first time in sixteen days.

Macaroni and cheese in on the menu.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Yeah, I haven't updated in a long time

I haven't updated in a while.  Frankly, I've been depressed and don't want to whine at everybody.

But, here's what happening with me. I've been wallowing around in a couple of the seven deadly sins.

Envy.  Oh, yes.  Envy and I are very familiar with each other.  I don't think it's an accident that my favorite color is green.  I've been very envious of the ex-husband.

Firstly, my children  have a stepmother already.  They're not married and I don't know if there are plans for that step to be taken.  However, the Monday after I moved out she was in the house cleaning, cooking, doing laundry and serving dinner at the table.  When I pick up my children she's there.  She's spending more time with my kids than I do.

The ex was out of work from the end of January until the beginning of June.  During his time of unemployment, she paid their bills.  His car died.  She bought a BMW for him to drive.  The first thing my daughter said about it was that legally it belonged to their dad's girlfriend but they got to drive it.

Since the beginning of the year, the ex and the new (well, old really.  She's been his girlfriend for a long time) girlfriend have been on four out of town trips and she produced his album.   The last trip was with the kids to Houston for a Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror convention where they played a concert.

My parents are helping me out with my rent, yes.  And without them I'd be renting a room with nowhere for my kids to visit me.  I'd be reduced to seeing them at McDonald's twice a week. 

I have a place for them to come stay with me, but I have to tell them no a LOT.  I have to explain that I don't have any money.  I can't do things for them the way I want to.  Once I start paying child support, I will qualify for food stamps.  I really need a new car, but that's not going to happen for a while.  When I need repairs I'll end up being like Baby in Dirty Dancing and going to my daddy.  Again. I'm going to be donating plasma in exchange for money again starting this week.

Jealousy for the ex's situation is part of my life.

Let's discuss my birthday.  I have a freak out before my birthday every year because nothing happens on my birthday.  One of the bones of contention between the ex and I was that he'd never given me a birthday party where I had tossed him several.

I stopped celebrating my birthday for six years because I was so sick of getting my feelings hurt when I got a "Oh, happy birthday." from him.  I got a birthday present from my good friend, Chris (she's in the cast of characters), last year.  That was the only birthday gift I'd gotten in years.

I've tried to toss birthday celebrations for myself to so-so success.  For my fortieth, I was in California with the kids and I invited a bunch of people to have dinner with me at the Napa Rose in Downtown Disney.  To my great surprise, sixteen of us had a grand time.  In my previous attempts I got lots of "I don't know, maybe.  I might have something going on that day."

I have a tendency to equate gifts with feelings of love and affection and friendship.  Earlier this year, a person I'm acquainted with got on Facebook to say that she was going to be evicted from her apartment, her car was going to be repossessed and her electric was going to be shut off so she had a GoFundMe going.  She couched this in the context that her "film company" was going to lose it's space.  Her film company is her and some friends who make movies for Youtube that don't make any money.  She works on and off.  And she's done this before, gotten in financial trouble and asked her friends for money to bail her out.

She gets it.  People gave her money.  Like they have before, they gave her money. Therefore, they love her.  Because that's what you do for people you love.  I mentioned this theory to a friend of mine who is also acquainted with said woman.

My friend's response?  "Jesus, Amanda, they feel sorry for her."  Then I started giving myself a bunch of negative self-talk for even having feelings about it.

Negative talk leads to depression with leads to:


I watch a lot of TV. I eat a lot of junk food.  I let the housework go. I get the laundry done but I don't put it away.  I play games on my phone.

Sloth.  Slot and I are good friends.  We understand each other, sloth and I.

And then there's the good stuff going on.

My daughter is handling things beautifully.  She likes to come to my house. She has friends who have divorced parents she can talk to.

I have a job.  I can do it with my eyes rolled back in my head.  With all the stress in my personal life, this is a good thing.  I have weekends off and health insurance.

I'm painting.  As much as my budget allows for canvases, I'm painting.  My new friend, Joel, convinced me to get some size going.  I'm working with as big a canvas as I can fit in my car.  I've done some of my best work in the last five months.  Currently, I'm into elephants and balloons.

And I'm seeing someone.  He writes me poetry. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

That which pushes me to tears every single time

As you all know, I have a great deal going on in my life right now.  I'm fully aware that I'm doing a great deal of denying of feelings, stuffing, ignoring and otherwise not dealing with emotions I have going on right now. 

I'm spending a lot of time with friends, keeping myself distracted.  I'm painting.  I'm sleeping too much.

Anyway, I'm doing all this emotional denial and then I'll crack to pieces over issues with my health  insurance.

I'm grateful to have health insurance at all.  Having none would be a lot worse.  But, the incredible amount of stress that has gone along with getting coverage started and then navigating the various obstacles the company has tossed in my way has pushed me over into crying fits several times.

First, just getting coverage was a toughie.  I had to fax proof of dependents.  Then I had to fax proof that we were not covered.  The company then made our eligibility date retro active.  They charged us for coverage we were eligible in the past.  Since they had not received the premium for this coverage, they charged me 1 and 1/2 times that much over 3 of my paychecks.  None of this was disclosed to me and since I don't have a Tardis or a souped up Delorean, it was impossible for me to take advantage of the benefits I was charged for.  They validate this charge by stating we could submit receipts for any doctor's visits we had during the time we weren't covered. 

So, I get through all that.  The premiums settle into what they are going to be for the rest of the time I'm with this company.  Then, we move into prescription coverage.  The top tier antidepressant that works for me isn't something the company wants to cover.  They want me to be on something generic or have preauthorization from my doctor.  I spent over 90 minutes on the phone with my doctor's office, the pharmacy and the insurance company.  The preauthorization finally (after almost 3 weeks) arrived in the mail this week.

In addition to the authorization I was waiting on, I got a couple of letters from my prescription coverage stating that if I didn't go with picking up a 90 day supply of my 'scrips at a time, I would have to pay full retail.  This involves me calling my pharmacy, telling them I need the 90 day supply.  Then they call my doctor to get approval of a 90 day supply.

If my doc refuses to give me 90 days at a time, I'm SOL.  I have to pay close to $400 a month out of pocket.  Or I have to swap medication or swap to a doctor that will allow me 90 days at a time.

This bullshit, THIS sends me into crying hysterics.  I'm able to hold it together through everything else, but dealing with my insurance company reduces me to the emotional equivalent of a tired, over-stimulated 2 year old that has been denied a cookie.

Thank goodness I have tissues.

Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30th

On the 15th of March, I had only smoked one cigarette.  The following 15 days were filled with nervousness, anxiousness, pacing, walks and a general sense that something was missing as I dealt with nicotine leaving my system.

This was not my first experience with quitting smoking.  This time around I was smoking 5 packs a week.  I cut down to 1 cigarette a day. 

One.  Some days I didn't have any.

I had to select the time of day very carefully. If I indulged in the morning with my coffee, it was enjoyable, but then I had the rest of the day to think about not smoking.  If I told myself I could have one before bed, I could likely get through without having any nicotine at all. 

I felt that if I could get myself off the American Spirits there were many other things that would fall into place for me.  Whether this was true or if it would be self fulfilling prophecy, I didn't know.  Did it really matter? 

As I was going through withdrawals, I wasn't sleeping particularly well.  When I did sleep I had bad dreams.  By Friday the 27th, I was exhausted.  I cut my visit short with my kids that night and went home to rest.  I was unbelievably grateful that I was able to get a nap. 

The following Sunday, I took them to the last day of the local renaissance faire.  My children were 3rd generation faire goers and this was our 3rd trek to this particular one.  These trips were bittersweet for me.  Scott and I had gone to a lot of faires a lot of time with a lot of friends and I had a lot of good memories. 

Riding on the big swing with my friends Stephanie, Kathye and Susi, kicking our feet and holding our arms up, turning my face up to the sun and feeling the breeze in my hair while I laughed with my friends.  Scott and I smooching on the kissing bridge. Discovering new artists and collecting their work each year. Getting drunk by noon and then laying down in the deep shade by the big pond for a nap.  Playing tug of war with thirty other people, no one having any investment in winning.  Untying my bodice before getting in the car to go home and taking in a huge breath for the first time in hours.  The wonderful feeling of showering off the layer of dust and sweat upon arriving home.  Doing it all again the next weekend. 

Zoe and Will loved the faire.  The one we attended was fairly small, with a large number of stages.  This venue was very clear about the fact that they were a family friendly event.  This was not a place to get sloppy drunk and publicly make out.  (Although that did happen and I found it wonderfully amusing when it did.) They had their favorite shows and performers.  They both ended up on stage in at least one show each time we attended.  I took photos and posted them to Facebook.  The performers thanked me for coming and I'd become Facebook friends with a few of them. 

It made me very happy that it was something I could do with them, a place where we could make memories.  We always drove through Starbucks before driving there and stopped at Sonic on the way back.  They each had their favorite things to do.  Zoe liked to throw tomatoes at the insulter.  Will liked to run through the kids maze while I timed him.  (I did have to put a limit on how many times we could do this since it cost $2 for each run.) 

Then it came time to go to the car, get our Sonic snack on and drive them home.  Then it was time for me to say goodbye to them again. 

I still thought "I'm walking out on my kids."  every single time I told them goodbye.

And I went home to get ready to start a new week.