Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween and Holidays

I do not like it. I do not like Halloween.

Years ago as a single mother, I would tell teachers at the start of school that we were Jehovah's Witnesses so I'd not get assaulted for candy and have to make costumes. My mom knew I had no money for costumes and I'd tell her I wasn't doing Halloween which for my control fanatic mother, she'd arrive a few days before with costumes and take my daughters out. (If I told her I wanted to do it but lacked money, she'd ignore me. I didn't do that on purpose-- I just realized this as I typed!) We'd always be American Evangelicals by mid-November again.

My husband was furious with me. In the past month, I've sent him e-mails directing him to costumes and he ignored them. I talked to him about getting outfits in basic colors that I could dress up with bandannas and he told me to "watch what you spend." I didn't want to deal with it so I blew it off.

Last night he was mad at me. "Why didn't you take care of this?" he yelled. I told him that I had sent him e-mails and he could have ordered them if he'd wanted, that he blew off my comments. Well, I was supposed to give him direct requests for money. I am so sick of asking for money. I hate it when the kids ask me for money, their little hands up towards me, and I hate it when I have to beg as well. He took them to the store and they were sold out of EVERYTHING. I kid you not, he'd have broken the bank to do costumes rather than plan before. I am soooo sick of asking for gas money, clothes money, etc. and having him say to me, "I gave you $100 last week! What did you spend it on?" "Oh, candy to eat to give me the curves you lust for." He knows that it costs more than that to fill up my SUV!

As it was, one of my daughters is reusing a ballet outfit that I'd spent $90 on last year for a recital that I couldn't see due to a fear of crowds, and she found some shoes and made some fairy wings. She looks stunning. One of my sons found his camouflage pants and matching top and a white t-shirt and some fake dog tags that he got in a party goody bag last month. Another son wants to be a karate guy and is wearing a t-shirt with jeans and a red bandanna. Still another son found a Spiderman costume that one of my older kids wore a few years ago.

This starts the holidays for us. I do not like holidays. My husband pesters me to keep costs down so I do, then he calls me a grinch and over spends. I hate going to his sister's house on holidays-- she is a nice person but she is LOUD. Creative, funny, well mannered and pretty, but loud. Her husband runs a church of over 1,000 members. As I am not American Evangelical and am Byzantine Catholic, he thinks I am going to burn in Hell and worship icons, and that I have led my husband astray by converting him as well. If he and I sit down to chat which I enjoy, he gets a hilariously comical expression on his face, "I am having an intelligent conversation with a heathen!" and he stands up and walks away. If his (truly) delightful wife, my husband's sister talks to me, he walks over to her and interrupts her to do something that he can do himself. Since she is submissive she gives me a cheesy smile and walks away. It is un-fucking-believable.Their kids are sweet, but they are showing off their presents which is a financial issue for us. We don't have loads of money to spend, and I am a quasi-hermit and don't have as many friends as they do who also lavish on their children. I don't like driving up the cliff that leads to their house anyway as it scares me with the kids and seat belts that I don't trust that my husband insists are "just fine!"

I like on holidays to chill out at my own place with my family. A few of my kids have also told me they like this. It's nice to wear PJ's till 1:30 if we want. I like to rent a bunch of movies, take care of a turkey in my oven or make whatever my family wants (I like cooking Greek food the best,) I often do a huge "summer feast" where I make fried chicken and mashed potatoes and a couple of salads and what-have-you. I make the best fried chicken, the way God intended us to have it. You rinse a chicken (no joke-- for us I cut up THREE chickens) and dip pieces in flour with some salt added. No batter-- just rinsed pieces of chicken, patted dry or not, dipped in flour, and fried for 20 minutes on each side. We eat around 2:00 in the afternoon, then have left-overs the rest of the day and have a bundt cake and pies that I've made and bought way later. We have no rushes.

Byzantine Holidays rock. We are coming upon the season of fasting. I enjoy Advent. I seldom go to church, but I like the fasts and observing them. We are some of the few who lose weight before Christmas! St. Nikolai's Day arrives in December. I fill their shoes with candy and presents. This year I will petition my lord and master for money with which to buy them all watches and special candies that they like, like Pop Rocks and expensive chocolates. One of these days I want to figure out how to put an ice fishing pole into my husband's shoes!

We have one birthday in September, one in October then Halloween, two birthdays plus Thanksgiving in November, St. Nikolai's Day, Christmas, New Years, four birthdays in January, Valentines' day, a birthday in March and Easter sometime in March or April and a birthday. There is another one in mid-summer. We have a lot of Orthodox holidays all over the place. We celebrate names days when we can, too. I love St. Nikolai's Day because it's our day-- not many people celebrate it. There is no pressure and we have fun and the kids are off to school. New Year's is fun because I usually go Greek and we have a plum pudding that I ignite. Birthdays are a drag-- I feel so terrible because I cannot out do the last kid who had a party and we have homemade cakes and nothing as fancy as other kids. My kids notice it, but there are so many of us, we still have a blast. Last years I made everyone learn to sing Happy Birthday in German, French and Japanese and the recipient had to sit through it as we tripped through the verses.

My Handwriting and Linguishtics

My handwriting used to look like Spencerian Script. It has gone to hell in a hand basket. I am learning Russian. I think that I am learning nothing and envision my mind to be like a glass that is full to the top and the more my professor puts into my head, it just overflows. This is not the case because in reality, the Russian letters have hijacked my hands. What was once lovely script has been replaced with me making three humped letters that look like cursive /m/'s for English /t/ sounds. English /m/'s are now pointed and could look like /w/'s, but they are not. I just wrote a thank you note to my former art professor and realized that I couldn't read anything but "thank you," "wine" and "enjoy." As I had done Japanese brush art on the envelope and and card itself, my husband told me to send it, "It's been a week since we ate with her, your note is late, and it's beautiful. She'll know what you mean." My Russian handwriting is very pretty, but my English handwriting which I have never had to think about-- is very, very bad. I have to remind myself to print or just write very, very slowly.

I think the Russian is getting to me because of the letters coming out in my handwriting. Sometimes I see license plates and if they don't really spell anything, my brain switches to Russian and I start trying to pronounce it and figure it out. This means that it is working itself into my brain.

The other night I drank TWO beers. For me, this is a lot of beer. Actually-- I was starting my second beer. I sat down to type and my 17 year old leaned over my shoulder. "Mom, I think you'd better stop drinking. You're slurring your words."

I laughed, "I'm working on a paper and not talking to you!"

She laughed and told me to take a second look at my last paragraph. "Super" was /shuper/, "miss" had become /mish/. These were not mere typos. I was writing as I would have spoken. I wasn't drooling or tripping over myself when I walked-- I was just buzzed. ("To be! To be is to buzz!") I was writing as I'd have spoken. I had sat down at the computer knowing what I needed to write, and I articulated my answers very well. There was just the spelling issue. I wrote as I always do, writing a paragraph and checking it then correcting the red underlines in Word without thinking, then going on to the next paragraph. I got up and got a couple glasses of water to rehydrate my body which needed it, and gave my husband the rest of my beer.

We know there are areas of the brain that control speech and different aspects of it-- I wonder if there is something in us that controls how we speak and hit keys and do all that. Very interesting.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I have been putting on weight. I used to do yoga three or four times a week, but now I have three classes on line. My butt is getting big and I have probably gained 20 pounds since August.

I like what I am getting. I had been long and lean, but as I have always felt, beauty moves in curves. I have gone up a cup size with my bra (the breasts are the first to gain and the first to lose weight) and my hips are filling out. Am I wrong to be loving this? When I draw from live models, there is no doubt that the curvaceous ones are the best to put on paper. Light reflects beautifully off them and there is a sense of "abundance" to their bodies that I find undeniably sensual. Men need to be on the leaner side-- I just think that's how men are supposed to look, like they can go out and fight a battle or something. Women? We bear children. We no doubt need the curves. I will probably have no more children, but I still like the curves.

I let my corsets out a bit and am enjoying my body. It's amusing because while In The Act when I am slender, I obsess over the tiniest bulge, worrying that my husband sees it and dislikes it. He doesn't care, but I do and I obsess. We have been to busy for Romance (note my references to sex! LOL) but last night I made the time. He'd not noticed what my body has done in the last few weeks and he noticed last night. He didn't say anything until after I mentioned that it's been a long time since I really got into it and why. He of course noticed it said that the waist to hip ratio that I have now is sexier than when I had a small waist AND a small posterior. I don't know if he likes the curves or the confidence, but he probably enjoys the combination.

Now I am trying to decide if I am going to work in a couple of dance classes into my schedule next semester. Of course I will, but them I will loose the weight right away like I always do, and I don't know if I want to.

How to Tick Off a Magazine Article Writing Professor

I was assigned to write a report about the magazine industry. I started out hating it-- it was boring and I. . . I like to write about what I like to write about, dammit! I wound up enjoying it.

My professor, who is a passionate magazine article writer, did not like it. I tore down his livelihood. I told him who my brother is, a professor there at the college, and that he had told me years ago that the media does not exist to provide information so much as it exists to sell advertising. That is what I wrote about. I wrote about how every magazine sells to a niche and that advertisers pay to sell their ideas. Magazines show you how to use the latest "stuff" not now to use what you have.

It's an unfortunate fact of life that this is true, and while I have not seen my grade, my professor had a tone that makes me wonder if I will pass the class.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

One year ago yesterday. . .

I flew down to Arizona and we found out a half hour after I landed that my dad had no hope. The next couple of weeks will be sad for me. He'd die on 2 November, his birthday.

His ranch was in bankruptcy. I got his two favorite Stetsons and the Romeros, who he told me that I had to see at least once in this lifetime. Is there anyone richer than I? My mom also sent me a couple of horse shoes that I asked her to send. One day they will go on my office wall.

I went down and vowed to be a doctor. In his last days he was having me tell him about medical schools and I told him that I'd have his picture up in my office. I wanted to impose his picture over a dark reflective surface so that when people asked me why I became a doctor I would show them the picture and they'd see their own reflection in it.

A year later I have been on the Dean's list twice. I am struggling this semester and don't know how I will do other than that my professors say, "Come on! You HAVE to pass!" when I tell them how tired I am and just want to give up. I will not be a doctor. I can do the science, but I lay awake at night thinking of how people speak and diagram their language. I get off on linguistics. I keep making A's on my papers that I write. I am a writer. I process science by writing about it. My dad just wanted me to finish my degree-- he didn't care if I became a doctor or not. Maybe one of my children will be a doctor. I still think it is the highest calling, but it's not mine.

I believe that my dad went to the Romeros concert with me. I think that when people die that they still pray for us and be with us. My dad and I grated on each other and I don't think he hangs with me, but he drops by every so often and maybe sees the grandkids that he never met. I can't say that I miss him. I dreaded calling him and my mother because he was always sarcastic and mean to me. Right after I had TeaCup, I was stressed out and my mother invited me to go be with her for a week. I didn't go because I knew that after 24 hours with my dad and most likely her, I'd feel suicidal if I couldn't get off their ranch. My dad had to be sick to be nice to me. I hate to admit that, but he did. He had to be at the point where time was limited and making jabs took too much energy.

Such is life. It's been a crazy year. I miss Arizona at this time of the year and when I stress out and need to relax, I think of using tongs to pick prickly pears off the cactus on his ranch, touching the warm rocks in Dragoon, and making jellies and enjoying the warm sun. I'd never seen a lizard before and when my dad was in his bed and we were alone, one was on his brick wall. I shrieked and called it an iguana as I'd never seen a lizard before. He couldn't laugh very easily but he had tears in his eyes from wanting to laugh-- I was pretty freaked out, then the cat saw it and pounced on it and ate it and I turned as green as the lizard. I think I was comic relief for him.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

One of the greatest nights. . .

Last night my husband and I went to see the Romeros, a national treasure of Spain. Last year when my dad was dying, he spoke of their music and said that if there was anything that I must do in this life, it was to see them in concert. He said that their music never left his soul. (It was right around this time last year that I went down to be with him.)

I came home and shortly after that received a postcard stating that they were coming up here. I was in a drawing class at that time and took the post card to my teacher along with some CD's to play in class while we worked and asked her if she'd heard of them. She laughed, "My husband knows them! They'll probably be at our restaurant afterwards!" I was ecstatic and we spoke of them several times during the semester and she played more of their music and told me stories about them.

Last night I watched them and cried and I don't know why. It was so amazing. Pepe was playing and I kept looking to see if his classical guitar was electric-- he made his guitar make sounds that guitars don't usually do. The four of them got together and "talked" with their guitars.

At the intermission, I was standing in line to buy a drink and saw an anthropology professor who I knew almost 20 years ago. He came to me and addressed me by my first name and asked how I was doing and how my children were. He remembered me from that long ago and I was pregnant with my second baby and he remembered! He was one of the most interesting people ever and I got to introduce him to my husband which was really nice because my husband honestly told him that I brought his class up quite a bit after all these years!

After I saw him, my art professor caught my eye and she came over to me and hugged me. I'd written a nice letter to the administration about her and she said it helped secure another invitation for her to teach the class again this spring. She whispered to me to come to her restaurant afterwards.

After the show, the Romeros came out and I started crying when I met Pepe. I told him of my father and he kissed my cheek three times and hugged me. I had felt like my dad had been at that performance and meeting him and seeing him play-- I understood why my dad said his music never left his heart. I told him of a PBS special where Pepe was teaching a little boy the guitar ("that was my nephew! Bernardino!") and-- I cannot tell you how happy I was. All of them were so nice! And Pepe's English-- I love how he speaks!

We went to my prof's restaurant which is one of the nicest, most friendly restaurants in the City. The sign said they were closed but we stepped in and I was nervous and told the hostess that I thought my professor was expecting us. My prof came around and hugged me again and said of course she was expecting me. We went to sit down and she brought us wine and food. There was an older lady who was eating a lone and I went to talk to her-- she had a cool artistic blazer on and I knew she was an artist. Her son was a chef who worked there and she is a children's book writer! We asked her to sit with us and she hadn't seen the Romero's play but had been a guitar teacher and the conversation was so exciting! As much as she knew the restaurant, she hadn't met my professor who came around again and we made introductions. My prof was like, "All this time I have seen you but had no idea that you were _____'s mom!" They had a lot in common of course and were happy to meet each other with their interests! My husband and this lady had quote a bit to talk about because her family is deep in the city's history as is my hsuband's family and they knew many of the same people and had great stories to share.

As we were getting ready to leave, the Romeros came in. Pepe came over and posed with us and invited us to stay and have something with them, but we had a long drive and had to leave. He told me that eleven years ago his father died and that he played for him as he died. He said that my connection to music is a connection to the eternal.

That had to have been one of the nicest evenings of my life. To think that had my dad not told me of them I'd have missed it. . .

Friday, October 19, 2007

Yoga Class & Tips for All Yoga Teachers

  • Last night I went to yoga-- it was the first time in a few months and I was happy to be there.What is it about yoga teachers? I have had ONE out of many who is actually good. The rest are insecure, unprofessional whineybutts who beg for accolades.

  • I got there and the teacher was new. She asked if I minded that she was new. I said, "What do you call an MD who has been practicing for fifteen years in private practice?"

    She said she didn't know. I said, "Doctor. The same thing you call an MD who graduated ten minutes ago. This class isn't about you, it's about us focusing on our bodies. Don't worry about being new. It's not about you. Saying how new you are takes off thinking about what we are supposed to be doing and unless it's a liability and you have to say it, it's not an issue to anyone." I thought I'd made a point. I was wrong.

    Three teachers came in who I know. "Oh, your first class! WE wouldn't miss it!" (High pitched sqeallies all around.)

    All through the class, the new teacher giggled and chattered just like the teachers who came in to offer support/ re-enforce bad teaching habits.

    Why are so many yoga teachers feelers and not thinkers? I'm a feeler but I also pay attention to people!

    We got into some balancing poses and just like the three numbnuts who came in do in their classes, the teacher chattered about "the quiet place." She started freaking describing the quiet place! I kid you not, her voice nearly knocked me over. Every time I got focussed, she'd say something trying to elongate her voice. The three ditzes were complimenting her, "You so have a gift for this! hee hee" One would say something and the others would repeat it then the other women in the class had to add, vigorously shake their heads, contribute.

    This isn't just the new teacher-- this tends to be yoga teachers in general.

    Like most other yoga teachers, she went into reminding us all through the session what NOT to think about! "Leave your husband, your kids, your shopping trip (giggle) outside this roooom!"

    I tried tuning her out, of focusing on relaxing, etc.

    Then she started talking about getting tired. This was like throwing a weight at me. Why do yoga teachers tell you exactly what you shouldn't hear? I finally said, "I'm not here to talk about being tired! I am here to get pumped up! Whoooo! A little fatigue won't get me down!" Everyone in the class looked at me like I was crazy. I said, "I'm going home for cold beer. Beer!" They probably thought I was an alcoholic but I didn't care. Those people were about to drive me to drinking.

    The silliest thing she did was talk about how hard a series of poses would be then said, "Think only of the here and now! Be. Just be in the present." WTF?!!!

    She kept talking about "Relax. Americans have too much stress." OK, this isn't about the rest of America. Yoga is about the individual. Oh now, "Americans eat too much fat. Americans this-Americans-that. I wanted to say, "Americans talk too much in yoga classes."

    What made no sense to me was during the final rest she said, "Breathe in peace and love and spread harmony all around you." What on earth does that mean? She told everyone to "share" their wishes for the class. They said the sappiest things I have yet to hear but are typical of these classes, "I just want everyone to go home to night and experience love!" I said, "Beer. I want beer and for everyone in this class to go home and enjoy a cold beverage of their choice. BEER!" They all moved their mats further away from me.

    I love yoga. I love the meditative aspect of it but it is so hard to get to a class where the teacher doesn't have diarrhea of the mouth. I know that the fault probably lies with yoga magazines and yoga DVDs where they just don't show people being silent.

    This teacher had going for her a decent voice. She could be very effective if she knew how and when to be quiet. One of my friends owns the studio and I sent her an email. I hope she likes what I told her. My friend is a great yoga teacher who follows what I have said but most don't.

  • When you are new, don't say it more than three times per class or if you must, to the late students that come in if you have liability issues and HAVE TO TELL THEM. This isn't a performance and if it was, you'd want people to think more of what you were doing, not that you are new.
    • A person who keeps saying how new they are will get most people to tell them they are great even if they can barely get through the poses. This isn't a focus on the teacher: this is a meditative work out and the focus is on the students stretching and meditating. STFU and get on with the class.
    • Never, ever refer to your class as guinea pigs.
  • If the class is looking tired, do not say how tiring it is. I don't know I am tired-- when I am in class, I want to be thinking, "I'm stretching the right leg as far as I can, my alignment is good, I am fixing this leg. My balance is getting better." Commenting on being tired is like throwing a weight at me. "I am tired. I want to go home to bed. Bed. My husband is in it. He is probably going to want sex and he will make a dumb remark about my flabby butt being firmer and that I can crack walnuts in it or some other stupid cliche." I loose my focus on my body when teachers jabber about that.
    • I THINK that they could better help us by telling us instead that our muscles may be getting fatigued which happens as we work out toxins. A little fatigue is good-- teachers need to teach us to be aware of bad fatigue that we need to be reminded of lest we faint. "Dizzy is not good. If you are dizzy, come out of the pose. Get a drink of water."
  • During drishti (I think I spelled that correctly-- Eagle, Dancing Shiva, Tree) they need to give us tips going in to the poses, to relax our mouths and hands etc., then STFU and let us find that "silent place" and focus. I don't know how most people feel, but when a teacher babbles on and on about the "silent place," they keep me from focusing. "I am going to be silent for the next thirty seconds then say 3-2-1 and you need to come out gently and I will guide you into the other side." That would be beautiful.
  • Talking about other classes, talking about the next three poses before we do them, THEN telling us to focus on the here and now is counter-productive.
  • When they remind us of what stresses to leave at home, "Work, the kids, the partners" they bring them all back up into the front of my mind and I tense up. After ten minutes into class, I am THERE. I do not be reminded of what not to think of. That just makes me mad that they never catch on.
Yoga teachers need to have good voices for teaching. If a student tells you what a great airy or pretty voice you have, fix it. They are not thinking of the work out. Airy annoys the hell out of some of us.

Yoga instructors need to be aware that it's not about them. It's about them giving their class a great workout where they focus and help the students forget about everything for a bit. If I am trying to block your voice out and only filter in your tips on holding a pose, you have FAILED.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I went to the Synagogue!

I went to a reform synagogue yesterday. It was great. We didn't understand a lot as it was half in Hebrew. Peaches loved it because towards the end he asked if there were any questions, people asked questions and he basically said that it doesn't matter what you practice but your intent and that God gets sick of hearing people run through things without having any meaning to them. Peaches is tired of the ritual in our church, but she was furious when some evangelicals made some nasty remarks about us. She wants to learn religion so I am trying to get her to the synagogue to learn about Judaism. The rabbi spoke of learning why we do things and of applying them to make them real. It's where she is at. I miss it the synagogue.

If my long-ago fiance hadn't wanted to go double diamond (with a pyramid-type selling company that rhymes with "scamway") before he was 30, I'd have converted and married him. Don't get me wrong, I love my husband and I know I am to be with him, but I liked the synagogue and felt comfortable there. While people in my church happily talk about obedience to Christ and following Him like little children, the rabbi is saying, "Educate yourself!"

My children were hilarious. I took Peaches, Sunshine and the younger three. Mr. MAN and Teacup started miming food and pretending to eat cookies. Peaches was furious and trying to make them stop and I said as long as they weren't miming brushing their teeth where they would make the toothbrush action with their tongues in their cheeks, or acting like they had a dog on a leash, they were fine. They'd not stop and I finally mimed a bag for Tia to put her "cookies" in, which she laughed and did. Mr. MAN took his, unzipped a pocket and put it in, then zipped up his pocket. I whispered, "Don't forget to take it out before I wash it! I hate getting things like that on my laundry!" He gave me the "OK" sign. Teacup made sure to grab the "bag" before we went to the back to socialize.

I used to me a mime. How did this become genetic?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sunshiney Day

Today is better!

My house is not as bad as I'd feared-- the construction firm of Chicken Little and Henny Penny came back with a huge, inflated cost to fix my whole house and claimed they were doing ti as a favor. We saw that coming! (Chicken Little and Henny Penny were two little birds who had something fall on their heads and claimed that the sky was falling and alarmed everyone and created a stir and got eaten by a fox at the end who took advantage of their stupidity.)

I got two new builders in here and they said they can do my bathroom for way less and said that many houses have mold-- mine has it in corners and it can be fixed with a simple do-it-yourself job and they will come in later and I will pay them to show much husband how to do it efficiently so that it looks professional. The plumber said that the toilet had a weak seal but the problem wasn't big. I asked about the puddle in the crawl space and he said it was just a puddle-- not a "Great Lake" as the Dramatic Duo had said it was. He took a bunch of rags down to mop it up.

To think that the first two guys had me almost convinced that I needed to move my family out right away and I'd have done it had I the money infuriates me. It's a good lesson for the future to not react.

Russian was great-- we learned about some of the rulers. My personal favorite so far is Mikhail Romanov whose story can be found here. It's brief and sweet! What is interesting is that the rulers before Peter the Great looked very "tribal." My prof didn't spend much time discussing them, but my curiosity is sparked. What is interesting is how similar the tribal dress is to Alaskan Aleut dress. Of course the Aleuts went to Alaska via a land bridge and they share the same ancestry.

I am memorizing a poem in Russian. It's by Pushkin. This is the English translation. These are some of the sweetest words spoken to a woman. To recite them in the original language is an honor!

Love Poem
by Alexandr Pushkin

I loved you well. Affection's fire unfading
Still glows, perhaps in secret, in my heart.
But let it pass. No more your peace invading
To grieve you now could never be my part.

I loved you well. In hopelessness unspoken,
Now faint with joy, now filled with jealous pain.
Such love sincere, such tenderness unbroken,
God grant that you meet it's like again.

I hope I can find a picture of the woman he write this for.

I keep listening to my professor recite it and I'll kiss a duck if I can ever trill my /r/'s! It is so frustrating to not be able to make that sound. She laughed, "You have been learning for a month! You will be amazing if you can trill them at the end of the year! Adults learn differently than children! Your muscles don't know what you want!" It's fun working towards it.

I went to a Russian grocery store. In my area Russians are normally reserved. The proprietress at this one is not. She dresses like my professor and laughs easily. She is very outgoing. I walked into her store and she said, "Hello! Welcome!"

I said to her in Russian, "Does anyone here speak Russian?"

She and her customers started laughing and said how good my Russian is. My Russian is bad-- I've only been speaking for a month but they were encouraging and want my class to come and do a study group there. Her place sells grocery items and she wants me to do my grocery shopping there for the family of eleven. I took my kids in and they quickly learned to say, "I like chocolate" in Russian!


My dad died on last year. I have been thinking about him a lot. I left to see him on 22 October. When I got to see him, he asked if I was close to finishing my degree. I was like, "I can't afford it-- the kids, you know--" He shushed me. "What do you dream of doing?"

I was surrounded by angels of death and felt them there. I said I wanted to be a doctor. I really did want to be a doctor. His doctor came in and he said, "This is my daughter. She is pre-med at the University of _____ at ______." I was in a medical training facility and whenever Dad dozed, someone poked their head in and said, "Hey Tea! Check this out!" His physician had been told that I had a fear of flying and had not left my state in fifteen years-- both facts are true. He was sad that with nine children that I'd seen so little so it seemed that on little errands that interns, nurses, and social workers had, I got to go along to get laundry or eat lunch across the hospital and see something on campus. I was there for a couple of days. I'd been a hospice volunteer and they asked me about death and things of that nature which was all that we had in common.

They knew that I wasn't pre-med as I told them that I'd been out of school for 15 years and was just going back. Still, they showed me around for the time I was there. I miss the 70 degree heat in October. I'd be willing to overcome my flight issues again to go down there! I took care of his horses and fell in love with the American Southwest. My family's home is there in the land of Wyatt Earp and Nellie Cashman and the other legends of the area.

I got home and worked at Wal~Mart as a cashier and it was good for me to get out of the house and be at someone elses' beck and call. I loved some of my coworkers, and the ones I didn't like I called "cow-orkers." They took me as being playful so they didn't mind and I could stand them being my cow-orker friends!

Anyway, I got money for college and decided to finish a degree in social work and take science classes and go into medicine. I can do biology and chemistry-- and I may still lean that direction. For now I am where I need to be. I couldn't take so many "hard" classes and do well enough in pre-reqs with so many kids, anyway.

I am thinking of my dad because of this comic strip. Last year, Jim, the grandfather, had a stroke just a few days before my fatehr did and he was recovering as my dad was dying. Now "Jim" is back in the hospital. The family is grieving the possible death. Jim is trying to communicate with his family. This strip is usually happy, but it is always realistic. The main character in it, the mother, had her daughter April right before I had Peaches. Michael, the eldest son, had his children within days of me giving birth to Roo and Boom-Boom. The family had a sump pump when we needed a sump pump! (How much sump/ would a sump pum sump/ If a sump pump could pump sump?) Seeing Jim in the shape that my dad was in last year is weirder than had he died when my dad did.

My dad and I didn't even get along-- but right now I keep thinking about how we did for those two weeks before he succumbed to the cancer. My mom just called and said that she'd bought my tickets and that I had to leave in eight hours.

We didn't even know it was cancer until I got there and the doctor operated on what was to be a four hour operation and then called us a half hour later and said he closed him up as there was nothing he could do. I really liked him-- I remembered his name from (I think) a Newsweek article back int he eighties after he headed the first team of surgeons to do a liver transplant. His name is really cool, which is why I remembered it. I was a debater in high school and basically memorized everything I read before the internet hit.

Now I am doing English and I love it. I get excited about linguistics and speech fascinates me. The deeper I delve into linguistics, the more I go into history and the psychology of the peoples I am studying. I know my dad just wanted me to finish my degree. He didn't care if I became a doctor or not-- he hated doctors, anyway. He'd gone into medicine but left it because he was in it during M*A*S*H when "everyone wanted to be a Hawkeye." He'd go in to operations and they'd be cracking jokes and he was furious as they were disrespectful toward patients. He was in his thirties then and was an early nontrad, but he refused to conform to it and walked out. (Oddly, as a father, he was full of ridicule to me, but the best people are often jerks in private! Everyone liked him and he was a prince most of the time to non family members-- but he liked us and abused us verbally. It was odd.)

When my dad died, of course all of his money was in his ranch and my mom has it all, but i got what I wanted: his cowboy hats! I have two Stetsons of his.

As of late, I have been having nightmares about his cancer on me. I keep touching my neck and my arms and feeling under the skin. I am not scared of it-- if it ever takes me, the one good thing is that it's fast. I miss the side of him that I liked. The image of him that I have is actually a picture of us when I was my baby Tatiana's age (2) and he was my brother's age. My brother looks just like my dad. He was laughing at what looks like me miming a wall.

Grief is a funny thing. I know that after the official anniversary date of his death, I will let go of it for the most part. The anniversary affect is on me right now.

I'll be more cheerful tomorrow. I have learned a great deal in Russian about history today and cannot wait to share!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Mould in my house and other things

I had a carpenter come by to check out my house. The humidity in it is high and quite bad and I have black mould. The guy came, got a friend, came by twice then he had his friend call and say that my house is a bio hazard. He said that neither one of them would come over, etc. and how they couldn't understand how with nine kids I was still alive.

I was freaked. He told me this right before Russian class and my mind was blank. I called a friends' husband who is a building appraiser who said that was odd that he would say that as they usually try to make other arrangements. He gave me a number to call and I will call the guy in the morning. I got to Russian, my face was apparently ashen and sad and I told my prof what had happened and she said, "If they call you in a few days and want a higher price to fix it, refuse them." She thinks the carpenters were trying to scare me. Both she and the appraiser said that you don't make such bold claims and leave a person hanging-- you tell them the next steps.

I'd thought that I'd failed a test on Tuesday but I got 21 out of 23 on it which is still an A.

I get to memorize a poem by Pushkin.

Mrs. Me, Queen of All She Sees

Pageants. . . I am going to be in one for my state in a year and a half. I have run twice before but my time is coming to actually place in the top ten. I really want to do it right when I do it.

My husband bought a book for me about Grace Kelly. I photograph well and he said that her shots need to be studied and that I need to see a photographer about specific ones. I am trying to get him to pose as Prince Ranier Grimaldi in a Napoleonic military suit but he says he can't. The photos of Princess Grace are amazing. I wonder if looking at her everyday can make me prettier! She was so perfect.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Gotcha Day!

Today is my third daughter's Gotcha Day that she celebrates with my husband. It's the day that he adopted her, ten years ago when she was a little over a year old!

She got up and made him lunch this morning and made him a sweet little card.

He takes her to the nicest restaurant that he can afford.

This man who I occasionally threaten to divorce is a great guy 99% of the time. We had dated off and on and I had her when he and I were not dating. I didn't expect him to want to marry me. I had two children from a previous marriage and then she was from six years later, after that marriage ended. I never expected anyone to want to get with me after that and there he was, a man with a master's degree, asking to go out as we always had. Not long after that he asked me to marry him and when I stared at him he said, "For God's sake, say yes before you get into more trouble!" At times I am ungrateful but he is really a great person!

Munchausen Syndrome

My ex's wife is showing signs of Munchausesn's Syndrome. She has for years. She is on all kinds of antidepressants and had had lots of stomach stapling surgeries and operations and orders to take medicine, but she is also an alcoholic and frequently drinks with her medicine cocktail. She let herself get into a mess last week with certain issues and the ex had to go home from work to rush her to the hospital. Peaches started to google various terms and told me what she thinks she has. I've known it for years. Peaches is trying to act like it's not a big deal so as to not positively re-enforce her behavior.

I hate seeing doctors, but she relishes it. It is so weird. I get doctors smirking at me and I get up and leave. One poor guy called me on my cell phone after I walked out on him and was like, "I've never had a woman throw her clothes on with me in the room and leave. What did I do wrong?" I told him that he smirked at his nurse when I mentioned certain female-related symptoms and asked about herbal remedies instead of hormones. Well, he said that it was my age and he hears it a lot, thought nothing of it, it was just typical of women of my age to ask about. I asked him what he'd do if his kids rolled their eyes at each other when he spoke. He apologized.

I hate talking to nurses about my problems, then telling the doctors when I am in a gown. If I seem stressed out, they downplay it and if I act like it's no big deal when I am worried, they still go slow on reacting. Therefor I go see the doctor once a year. I have one who I have clicked with. I coach his son's basketball team. I feel like knowing him out of the office makes a world of difference. He knows how to joke with me and his nurses and I have taken classes together. He does the history on me himself which is really spoiling me, but he said, "You have nine children and you are a good person. I just want you to be healthy and comfortable getting help when you need it."

Anyway-- my daughter's stepmother relishes medical appointments. Tiger said that when she lived with her and my ex husband, her SM was always seeing doctors and complaining that they didn't take her seriously. She had stomach stapling surgery and started binging on purpose, has always obsessed over taking her antidepressants and she'd get into a situation and grab her happy pills. When Peaches spoke to her last night, her two days in the hospital was exaggerated to a week in the hospital. She made the tests sound worse. Argh. Do people with Munchausen make it impossible for the rest of us? If I go in with pain over say a pulled muscle, it takes me two hours with most doctors to get two doses of weak pain medicine-- for my daughters' step mother, they said that she goes to the hospital when it's busy and complains and they can't get her out fast enough.

I asked what good things were happening to other family members for her to do this as it seems like it happens when all is good with everyone. Well, their son was getting honors in Boy Scouts, then my ex got a promotion (that he had had to drop so he can be home with his wife,) PEaches is getting college scouts calling over her GPA and languages, Tiger was given a raise at the college job she is in after three weeks of working, and basically, everyone was getting attention so she didn't get her due and drank instead of taking certain pills that she needed to treat diabetes, headaches and whatever. Tiger doesn't even listen to her. This woman is someone who'd fake suicide to revenge someone.

My daughters asked me if this will go on for the rest of their lives and I said I didn't know but the truth is, I think it will and she will keep it up. She's someone who looks at people in wheel chairs and envies them--it is gross. Weddings, births, college graduations. Peaches said that with how she drinks that she won't live long. She drinks a big bottle of brandy every day.

How can people afford that?