Sunday, March 27, 2005

Church on Easter.

If I live another hundred years, I think my family will still never find cause to tease me as much as they did this morning while I was getting ready to go to Jasmin's church. Oh, man, they thought that was funny. We're not big church goers; but if I was going to go to church, what on Earth was I doing going to a Pentecostal church? On Easter? And dressed like that?

Jasmin's church isn't terribly formal, so I was going to wear my pink converse for The Boy. He would've liked it, I think. But as I was walking out the door, my mom flipped out on me for going to church, on Easter, looking like a bum. So she made me dress up. Sort of. She made me dress up in that terribly dressed down sort of way my mother always makes me dress up; enough to make me feel awkward and uncomfortable, but not enough for anybody else to particularly notice that I look less like a bum than usual - because, to be fair, I don't look much less like a bum than usual. Also, my sweater was very, very warm. It was sort of irritating, but on the other hand, my family sure got a kick out of it. I guess that makes it worth it.

Anyway, once I actually got to church and the embarassment over the fact I was there wore off, it was kind of nice. I'm not much into passion plays, or church pageants or whatever, but they did a good job. Jasmin was bawling, and even though I wasn't all that terribly moved by the play itself, the fact that she was so sensitive made me more so. It was maybe the first time in church in a while that I wasn't sitting there weighing everything the preacher said against some rule of theological accuracy somewhere in my head. I just listened to the Sermon on the Mount and let the words change me.

Tin Jesus.

I'm feeling sort of underappreciated. Or something. I don't know if that's quite the way to put it. I've been feeling disconnected in general lately. Transitions aren't always easy. But there seems to be quite a chasm between what was and what is. I don't think I'm the one who changed.

I guess this is a problem I should have foreseen. My ego is rather precariously attached to an activity that I show no talent for whatsoever. I may have spoiled my own chances. In trying to be all things to all people, I became something rather undersirable to someone that I can't stand not loving me.

There's no turning back. I can try to set a new path, and try to goad the journey down. But it seems that I'm mostly just along for the ride.

If there were any chance I could control it all, I would gladly sacrifice my future, even my life itself. But I'm learning to resign myself to living. I will be a small-time martyr, but never a grand one.

I'll be loved, but never loved best. I'll be followed, but never very far or through very tough terrain.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Columbus with the boys.

Back home from Columbus as of last night. I had a lot of fun actually.

I had The Boy, X and Kobe. We went to COSI and Magic Mountain, and they got to swim and play GameCube all they wanted. I think they had fun, especially at Magic Mountain. I owned at Laser Tag! Yeah, so it was 5'5 me against my three boys, and two others, who aren't even pushing 5' yet, and one other dad. But still, I rocked! Just because I could look over the obstacles and shoot them from across the room, whereas they were far too short to do the same to me, well, that's irrelevant!

I'm totally the best babysitter ever. I sent X home with a giant knot on the back of his head. We were riding one of those centripetal force sorts of rides, where the force makes you stick to the wall, and the floor drops out from underneath you. X was terrified of it, but I talked him into going. I promised him he wouldn't get hurt, blah blah blah. Well, the poor kid rested his head on a bolt or something, and the force pushed his head back into it pretty hard. So now he's black and blue and swollen; like a golf ball on the back of his head. Yes, folks, trust me with your children!

On the bright side, he's very interested in centripetal force now. He's amazed at how we "flew." The Boy was less fascinated. He was mostly upset that they didn't have an arcade at COSI. Kobe liked it though. I think he's naturally more inclined toward liking science than the other boys.

The Boy was very impressive on one count though. We were walking in the park, waiting on COSI to open up, when we found a Spanish language Bible that somebody had left under a bridge. When The Boy realized it was a Bible, he insisted that we bring it home with us, because you can't leave a Bible out in the weather. What if it rained? Or snowed? So we ended up taking it with us. I don't know what purpose I'll have for a Spanish Bible, but you never know I guess.

I'm probably going back to Columbus for a few days next week. I'm trying to think of fun things for the kids to do there. They'll never get tired of Magic Mountain, I'm sure, which is relatively cheap, but it's kind of boring for me. There's the Zoo, if the weather is decent. And there's always just hanging around the hotel and playing basketball and swimming, I guess. Maybe I should rent some kid friendly movies to take down with us.

Columbus with the boys was a blast, but reality sort of hit when I got home. Geez, I have a lot to do next week. As for now, I need to get ready. My brother, mom and I are planning on going out to dinner in a couple of hours and I've been too lazy to so much as grab a shower so far today.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

No posts 'til Friday.

Today I took The Boy and D.C. from down the street to see The Incredibles because I'm entirely too poor to afford a recent movie. It's Tuesday, and dollar movies only cost seventy-five cents, and with snacks, I can almost afford that. The kids had fun; nothing traumatic happened at all.

I was nervous about taking D.C. Considering his family's apparent madness, I would sort of prefer not getting on their bad side. And with ghetto dwellers, it's often just not to make any sort of contact at all if that's your desire. But I don't think he gets to do nice things very often, and he was at the house when I was getting The Boy ready to go, and somehow it seemed impolite not to invite him.

So we went. The kids were good, and I even kind of liked the movie. It beats a lot of the schlock they dish out to kids these days. I've never been a huge fan of family-is-the-end-all-of-all-human-life style films for kids, but this wasn't terribly overdone. At least when they got kind of longwinded about family, they usually busted it up with something funny.

It's a strange thing that Hollywood pops out so many family first style films for kids. Considering how few kids have "in tact" families, it's definitely not reflecting society at large. I guess it appeals to our inner need to have a mom, a dad and lots of siblings. Most people secretly want that; in our society, few people really get it. And film has always been an escape from reality.

Tomorrow I'm going to take Jasmin's kids, The Boy and X, and her little brother Kobe, down to stay at her hotel for a few days. Matt's trying to get out of work early, too, so hopefully we'll get to do something nice with the kids tomorrow night before he has to go back home. I'm hoping to be able to take the boys to COSI or something this week. If not, they'll still be stoked to be able to go swimming and stay in a hotel room and all that sort of stuff.

So, anyway, probably no new posts for a few days. Mom doesn't want me to bring my laptop to the hotel with me. She has a point; I don't want it getting stolen. On the other hand, I really think it would be fine. It's a businessy sort of hotel and my computer won't be left unattended long. Still, it seems better to avoid a fight.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Who can give me answers?


I've been all pins and needles in anticipation all day.

In the end, I messed it all up. My grand plans backfired and blew up in my face.

It's sort of like a drug, actually, the little things that used to send you soaring slowly affect you less and less. Every day, you start needing a stronger and stronger fix. And when you don't get it you're just left wanting. Eventually, you realize that all you are is a gaping maw of desire.

Meanwhile, the Creator and Sustainer of this world is everywhere, in everything. And He's big enough to fill up all your emptiness. He's your only true desire.

Realizing it, and realizing it; somehow they're two different things.

The Holy Fool.

The other day we got a letter from my brother Tony. He always writes to my mom, but the whole family reads the letters. My brother is in prison for assault and kidnapping or something like that - we've never been entirely sure what the charges were - and so, we primarily keep in contact through the mail. Phone calls from prison cost too much, and they never seem like real calls anyway; you can always tell that someone's monitoring everything that's said, and you always seem to run out of time just as you're really starting to get to the part of the conversation with some meaning.

Tony's being held in a hot state which I won't mention by name because of all the rumors that he stole thousands of dollars from a local drug lord before he left Ohio. While I doubt any local drug lord really even realizes that Tony's my brother, much less spends his days perusing my blogs for tidbits of information on him, I tend to be a little on the paranoid and protective side, and it seems wiser not to mention exactly where he is. Suffice it to say that it's a long damn way from here, and visitation is out of the question. Particularly since my mom is terminally ill, and a walking pharmacy, and even every day travel can be a pain in the ass.

I don't really know my brother all that well. I think I was maybe ten or eleven the last time I saw him in person. For most of my life prior to that, I'd only seen him in the family visitation room in the Reformatory. Before he went to prison that time, I was only a toddler, and he hadn't lived with me since I was an infant.

Even though I don't know my brother, I love him. It's an odd thing that you can't really explain to someone who doesn't have a brother like mine. All my life I've heard stories about him, and he makes up so much of my family's past from before I was born that in a lot of ways he seems almost mythical to me.

It's hard to explain. There are all of these places that smack of a boy I never really knew. That's what remains of the treehouse that he fell out of and broke his tailbone. That's the phone number he carved into the window frame because he couldn't find a pencil. That's the grease stain that my poor mom could never get rid of in the kitchen after he passed a bitter afternoon mindlessly flicking french fry grease onto her freshly painted wall. I guess it isn't quite the same as seeing where Ben Franklin was buried, or walking into the Colliseum, but somehow it does give me the same sense of finding out that my own family's history is real and that all of those stories really happened once as those other places do.

My brother's letter was interesting because it built on the last several letters theme of his newfound Christianity. For the record, we don't come from a religious family, and neither one of us ever spent much time in church as children. I'm told that he's pulled stunts before while he was in prison, where he begged money and trust because of his redemption, or whatever, but I can't remember them personally. It definitely sounds like something he would do.

This letter was a little different. It may be that he's just getting more clever and manipulative, but the tone was so much different that my mom and dad really don't think he even wrote it himself. The handwriting and bad spelling is his; but they don't believe that those could be his words. I have a slightly different opinion. I'm pretty sure he wrote it. He borrowed all of those phrases from Low Church Protestantism 101.

He's definitely been hanging around church, and chaplains, and that's where he learned all of those Bible verses and getting ideas about getting a job and starting a family and paying back my parents and I for all the money we've sent him. My parents have never been around church, so they don't know how common those phrases are, or how easy it is to pick up the lingo. They've also been screwed over so many times that they can't believe that he could be for real.

I have a pretty hard time with that last part too. But there are a few differences between my parents and I. For one thing, I'm a sister, not a mom or dad, and sisters see their brothers differently than parents do. I don't pretend that Tony's a reflection on me or my value as a caretaker; in general, this makes me better able to see how flawed he is, and how flawed he isn't. I'm less prone to praising him, and less prone to giving up on him entirely, all at the same time. Perhaps more importantly, unlike my parents, I'm a Christian and I do believe in repentance and redemption. I do believe in the miraculous, in sinners turned into saints, and I know that God loves to use the humble and the lowly to astound those wise in their own eyes and the proud.

I decided to write my brother back. I've only ever written him a few letters in my life, and he's never actually responded to me directly. He's occasionally sent me thank you cards, that he drew himself, when I've sent him money. As well as I don't know him, he knows me even less. As I said, I was a baby when he lived with me; a pre-teen the last time he ever actually laid eyes on me. And he doesn't have the benefit of having heard all of the stories about me that I've heard about him. Tony and all of the things he did happened before I ever came along; his life is my history. I'm just what happened to his family after he stopped being a part of it. I'm life after his life ended, and that's a less interesting subject altogether for someone like my brother. He's Imperial Rome; I'm just street vendors and gelato.

But once again, I'm in a unique position. I'm the only person in my family who'll dare to be naive enough to support my brother in this. I'm not stupid; I know that he could easily just be running some new con. But as a Christian, I can't write him off entirely. As long as there's life in him, I know he can be saved. Not because he's good or even has a great interest in becoming good just now, but because God is very good and very faithful. My brother is, no doubt, a great sinner; but at whose salvation do the heavens rejoice?

So I wrote him a letter about how proud I was of him and how thankful I was to hear that he's practicing his faith so seriously. I wrote about what a great witness he could be to our family, and to the world. In his letter, he'd written that he'd tried to turn his life around before and had failed. I wrote that he failed because he couldn't save himself; that the Bible says that if a person casts out a demon, and doesn't fill up that space with Jesus, seven more demons will come. But there's still hope, since God still loves sinners. I wrote that he can become a new creation in Christ, through whom all things are made new; that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him.

I wrote it hardly believing a damn word I said, and feeling hopelessly stupid for having written it. Those words are all true, but my faith is so weak! I'm worried my family will hear, or worse, read what I wrote, and think I'm an idiot. A stupid born again. We hate those kind of people in my family; even I hate those people, and I don't want them to think I'm one of them. Once again, my faith is so weak and pitiful!

I went to sleep and had nightmares and nasty thoughts all night. I was guilty of what I'd written. I'd cast out one demon, but filled myself up with faithlessness, and attracted seven more.

I guess I know that there's still hope for me, since God still loves sinners. And even though I'm a very great sinner, the heavens rejoice when those of us who stray are brought back home. I'm going to send that letter, foolish and naive as I may sound in it, to those in my family who don't yet understand. The best parts of me would rather be a fool for Christ than wise in the eyes of a foolish and dying world.

The Boy's Birthday.

Yesterday was an interesting day.

I spent the first half of it with my family. I'm sort of awkward around them. I don't really know them very well because my mom and grandparents got in a big fight when I was nine or ten, and I didn't see anyone on that side of the family until I was twenty. I think that they're all pretty nice and all, but I don't seem to have a terrible lot in common with them and I always feel like I'm being misunderstood.

I'm naturally shy anyway, and a little paranoid, so maybe they think I'm great. But I don't do well in social situations like that. I'm never more backward around people than when they think that they know me, but they really haven't a clue. I'm fine if there's no preconceived notions; Jody always said that was the best part about going to Europe with me. And I love spending time with people who know me almost as well as I do myself; in theory, anyway, it is sort of annoying not to be able to get away with stuff. But I have a hard time with people who try to hold me to a standard that I never even claimed as my own.

The second part of the day I spent as Jasmin's house. I bought The Boy the first Donkey Konga game for his new GameCube that he got for his birthday. Jasmin's little brother, Kobe, and her stepson, X, were spending the night for The Boy's birthday, and Matt, Jasmin, the kids and I were all playing it. I bought a second set of the bongos so the boys wouldn't fight, but I think the adults liked the game almost better than the kids did. The Boy was almost a little disappointed, I think; he probably would've preferred Super Smash Brothers. X and Kobe liked it a lot more than he did. Kobe won like nine games in a row on the battle version. You can play a limited version of the game on Nintendo's website for free. It's not as much fun without the bongos, but I did kill half an hour beating it this morning.

Then I came home and started to rewrite my letter to my brother Tony. More on that in my next blog.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Ghetto Hoop From Hell.

So, on to today’s trauma.

I already mentioned that a kid down the street, D.C. we’ll call him, had a basketball hoop put up in the vacant parking lot across the street. Since the Jasmin Family lives in the ghetto, The Boy has not traditionally been allowed to play outside very often, and I have no real desire to change that tradition. But he’s obsessed with basketball right now, and really is missing his momma, so I’m prone to giving in a little more than usual on things just to keep him occupied.

After the usual fight over getting him to do his chores and homework, which was almost as unusually bad today as it was yesterday (I hate this damn basketball hoop), he begged me to go out and shoot hoops. I decided to let him for a while, and went out to watch because I don’t like the neighborhood and I didn’t recognize most of the people already out there.

Mercifully, some older cousins of D.C. were monopolizing the hoop, so D.C. and The Boy gave up and started playing football farther up the alley, closer to the house. Suddenly, I heard people yelling obscenities, and somebody screaming for somebody else to call the police. I grabbed The Boy and gave him a shove toward the house and, for once, he actually listened to me the first time and ran in the house.

D.C’s dad and another guy, and I still can’t figure out if he was his uncle or his step-dad, were in a fist fight in the parking lot. Supposedly D.C.’s dad had been hitting on D.C.’s mom’s roommate, who was either a relative or significant other of the uncle/step-dad. D.C.’s mom got in the way, and got hit a couple of times.

D.C. took off running, and I chased after because I didn’t want him freaking out/watching his mom/dad/uncle/step-dad get beat in front of the whole neighborhood/getting in the middle of it and getting hurt. I found him behind an abandoned car, shaking and crying, and saying that he couldn’t believe this was happening. I took him to The Boy’s house and promised he could stay as long as he wanted or needed, and went outside to find some non-fighting member of his family to let them know where he went.

D.C. calmed down as soon as he wasn’t watching them fight. It was almost disturbing to me because when my parents got physically violent like that when I was a kid, and it was extremely rare that they did, I was terrified by it. He must have seen it an awful lot, because it hardly phased him. He was playing with The Boy and having an altogether fine time as I watched his mother get loaded into a police car.

I told D.C. he could stay at The Boy’s house, and his little sister/cousins too if they needed, as long as they wanted. He nonchalantly thanked me and said they might need that since his mom was in jail, and his dad didn’t live there and would probably be going to jail anyway in a little while when the cops figured out what happened. He went home at 6:30, amidst cries from The Boy that he wanted to go and play basketball again.

This basketball hoop is already a pain in my ass. It brings the whole bad neighborhood out into one convenient location, where they can fight and swear and drink and etcetera that I don’t want The Boy around. And all The Boy wants to do is play basketball. And I would really love to let him, except for the whole cops having to be called after only two days of the damn hoop even existing thing.

The Boy’s birthday is this weekend, so his parents won’t have to deal the hoop very much since they’re planning a trip out of town for him. This is irritating because it prevents the formation of a No-Ghetto-Hoop policy that I can enforce without The Boy hating me and fussing every day about how I’m not even his mom.

Monday I will have to deal with the hoop again. I’m hoping he’ll be a brat and I’ll be able to ground him and just deal with that fussing instead of spending the whole night out guarding the friendly neighborhood Ghetto-Hoop and probably eventually getting my ass kicked/car vandalized for constantly reminding the other boys not to swear/fight/break stuff that doesn’t belong to them or re-rescue D.C. as his family brawls in the street.

Hopefully this week, we’ll keep very busy indeed. I’d already planned on taking him to a movie on Tuesday, and we will hopefully get to spend Wednesday, Thursday and Friday down in Columbus with his mom for Spring Break. The farther away I am from the accursed hoop, the happier I’ll be.

Long Blessed Week.

My goodness, it’s been a busy week!

Since Jasmin’s been training in Columbus this week, I’ve had her nearly-nine-year-old son pretty much full-time. He was missing his momma pretty bad, so I was trying to keep him as busy/distracted as possible all week. So after school, we spent the remaining daylight outside playing basketball. I’m old and out of shape and unaccustomed to so much physical effort.

I’m also not accustomed to rolling out of bed at 6:15 to drive to town to get The Boy on the bus. I’m used to being up that early; that’s usually when my brother drops my niece off. But I’m not used to actually driving. And like, talking to people who aren’t four months old; such people tend to be much more demanding conversationally.

In any case, I loaded the child up on Thursday and took him down to Columbus to see his mom. For whatever reason, he chose that day to test me as much as humanly possible. Jasmin and family live in the ghetto, and he usually isn’t allowed to play outside. But a kid down the street set up a basketball hoop in the vacant parking lot across the street on Wednesday, and The Boy wanted to go and play.

Not today, I told The Boy. Today we have to hurry and get everything done so we can leave and see the mother you’ve been missing so horribly all week long. But he just wants to play for a few minutes! No, The Boy, if I let you out of my sight, you’ll never get back in, so start your homework. But he only wants five minutes! He never gets to play basketball or do anything fun! He hasn’t played in weeks! Nevermind, dear The Boy, that I’ve taken you out to shoot for hours the last two days in a row, much to my poor old body’s detriment. No, I hadn’t, I was informed by The Boy, he never got to play basketball.

So after being threatened with having even his memory of television/games/the outdoors entirely removed, the hard way, he finally started to sort of read his book. I was running around trying to locate all of the crap Jasmin wanted me to bring down with me to Columbus. He was trying to sneak out of the house.

It really wasn’t the night for me to ground him. I really wanted him to have fun with his mom, and I really didn’t want to break his mother’s heart by telling them both that we were just staying home and he was going to sit in his room all night. So I conjured up wells of patience I didn’t know I had as I screamed: “Don’t you go out that door! Don’t you dare step off that porch! YOU GET BACK ON THAT PORCH! OR ELSE! THAT’S IT! YOU’RE IN SO MUCH TROUBLE!” and didn’t actually beat him severely about the head and shoulders or cancel the trip. Or more pleasingly to my immediate temper, both.

It took more than half an hour longer to leave than it should have because The Boy happens also to hold the title for World’s Pokiest Child. I held the door open for three whole minutes (I know because I counted: one Mississippi, two Mississippi…) for him to walk the perhaps ten yards between the porch and the car. We’d driven about a mile before we discovered that he’d forgotten his swim trunks, and had to go back.

I ran upstairs and was looking for his swim trunks. Since he’s not my child, and I never took him swimming last summer, I really had no idea where his swim trunks would be kept. He had been supposed to be following me upstairs. After I’d searched his entire room, I went back downstairs, where I found The Boy engaged in the oh-so-helpful activity of opening and shutting the screen door, for no apparent reason. I screamed: “GET UP HERE, NOW!, OR WE’RE LEAVING WITHOUT YOUR SWIM TRUNKS, AND YOU’LL NOT PLAY YOUR GAMEBOY THE WHOLE TRIP! AND WE WON’T STOP AND GET ANYTHING TO EAT!...” Three days later, he actually made it up the stairs and found his swim trunks.

Then he looked at the time, screamed at me that we needed to hurry up so we could see his mom. And then my head exploded.

We then spent another fifteen minutes at McDonald’s where the unusually inept staff, even for a fast food restaurant, kept us waiting while they got more ones, while they figured out who was supposed to be getting our order, while they fixed the fact that they messed up our order, and then again when they messed it up a second time.

Anyway, traffic was unusually light, for once, and we made it down in pretty good time. We were almost forty-five minutes later than I’d planned, but hell, I didn’t get lost or anything, and found the hotel straight off. So it was okay. We had a good time at the hotel.

The Boy found some friends at the pool. He was diving for quarters with a kid named Max when Max’s four year-old little brother pooped in the pool. It was pretty funny because his poo was just sort of floating in the pool, and they had to get the skimmer thing to get it out. The little guy, Xander, was pretty embarrassed, but traumas pass pretty quickly when you’re four, and he was back in the pool ten minutes after his dad got him cleaned up a little.

We left late from the hotel, and then there was a huge, mismarked detour on I-270 and I ended up picking Brittany up from school forty minutes after I was supposed to be there. The Boy was pretty impressed by the Deaf School. He’d never seen so many deaf kids before, and was surprised that a St. Patrick’s Day Party at the deaf school would have such loud music. I explained that some of the kids were only hard of hearing, and even the ones who weren’t could feel the vibrations from the bass, and that’s why the music was so loud.

I got him home at about 10:20, got him in bed, and then had to leave for Shelby to take Britty home. I actually almost ran out of gas, like an idiot, because I was tired and not paying attention. I rolled into the station on fumes. I got home myself a little after 11. After debriefing my parents and getting the next day’s plans all worked out, I actually fell asleep about 12:30.

I was up at 6:00 this morning, to get The Boy on the bus. I cleaned for a while after he left, since Jasmin was coming home tonight and I wanted things to look nice so she could relax. But exhaustion made my good intentions rather short lived.

I came home, went to sleep about 9:30 and got back up at 12:30. I hit the shower, rolled in the car, got The Boy off the bus and then started today’s traumas. Will post a new blog for that. This is already like three pages long.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Tired on Tuesday.

I went to a Social Work meeting at school yesterday. It felt pretty good actually. I was excited about it when I left. I met some people who didn't seem like total jackasses this meeting, which, was a bit different than the last one when I left early out of disgust.

I was so excited, in fact, that I ended up sending in my grad school application last night. I still have to do my application for the Social Work program itself, but I will quite soon (at least very likely) be accepted as a grad student at Ohio State.

Apparently, the government now considers me financially independent. I don't have to list my parents on my FAFSA anymore. Of course, it's all irrelevant anyway, since all I'm hoping for is loans.

I have a lot of work to do. I'm too sleepy to do much of it. Or care very much about it for that matter.

Jasmin's damn dog peed on the couch again today. It was irritating. I don't know if he's developed some kind of bladder control problem in the past few weeks, or what. But he's about to develop a busted ass problem if he does it again.

Kidding, of course. I'm not much of a dog abuser. And if I were one, I wouldn't choose Jasmin's dogs to abuse. They deserve it more than other animals, but Jasmin's more scary than most pet owners, and I do believe she'd kill me. And not in my sleep, in a fast, painless and peaceful sort of way either.


Hoping to sneak a nap in now.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Just Another Stupifying Saturday.

I took the puppy to the Humane Society in Wyandot County today. It was nearly an hour's drive away, but it was worth it to know that he won't be gassed to death. In my county, they euthanize dogs in the gas chamber, and I can't stand taking any animals there. In Wyandot, they of course can't promise not to have to eventually put the dog down if he's unadoptable, but they do it very rarely. And when they do have to put a dog down, they do it humanely. It kills me to think that that puppy will ever have to be put down, but it's much nicer to think that he won't suffer than to have to imagine that he will.

The new Ashton Kutcher/Bernie Mac movie Guess Who looks really dumb. I didn't love Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, but I guess I can see where it had its time and place. The black protagonist in the original probably had to be a little too perfect to protect against the racism of the day; the white protagonist in the remake has no excuse for being Ashton Kutcher.

Damn, I'm thirsty! I'm craving chocolate milk. I always crave chocolate milk when I'm missing my grandma and grandpa. My niece and I were talking the other night about how my grandma's house was sort of like the happiest place on Earth. Whatever your troubles elsewhere, they never seemed able to follow you to the farm. Maybe you got picked on at school, or your mom and dad didn't love you; it didn't matter at grandmas. When you were with her, you were perfectly loved and perfectly supported. You were also half-drunk on chocolate milk and fig newtons, and didn't care much anyway.

I didn't wake up today until noon, but I'm already looking forward to going to bed. I haven't been able to sleep much the past few days. I'm not exactly tired right now, but the idea of laying in pitch-black silence is definitely a pleasant one. As much as music calmed me last week, the quiet seems to be comforting me now.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Stray Dog.

So traffic court went well. Brianne had to pay a fine, plus court costs. The paper she was given only read $86. I think it will end up being a little more than that, but at least she wasn't hit with $250 out of the box, with more to be added later. I think she'll get out under $200 and she can probably afford to pay that, so it's very good. I'm confused though about how light the sentencing was. I thought driving with no insurance usually meant a suspended license and sometimes even jail time. There was no mention of that today, though maybe we'll hear something later. In any case, still good news so far.

My head is spinning with times and dates and paperwork I need to fill out and children I need to pick up and things I really do have to get to the store and buy. Somehow it seems like no matter how much work I'm getting done, there's always more to do. Transitioning sort of sucks. When all of the new things in my life become routine things, everything will be much smoother.

My new least favorite day of the week is Friday, I think. I'm going to have to find a way to juggle my responsibilities. I can't be in Columbus at 3:00 if I have to be in Mansfield at 3:15; even if I start driving as crazy as my brother does. I'm relatively settled for the next three weeks, what with Spring Break and all that. But I think the ensuing weeks shall prove to be a pain in me arse.

There's a stray dog at my house that we're going to have to take to the Humane Society tonight, I think. I hate doing that, but our two dogs are scrappers with most strays. He's a sweet pup. Part Brittany Spaniel, I think, and part some kind of hound, judging from the way his bark boofs. He's hyper as hell, and runs around barking a lot. He nearly wiggled himself out of his skin with delight when I fed him a hotdog for breakfast this morning (I don't know why strays always seem to hang around my house). He's howling outside right now. I feel bad for him, since it's freezing cold out. Elsewise, I'd fight for him to hang around for a week while we ran an ad in the paper.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Irritation + Busyness = Frustration!

The last few weeks seem to have flown by. I forgot to fill out my FAFSA on time, which hopefully won't end up screwing me over at grad school. I don't think it will, actually, it's not like grad students get a ton of government money or anything.

I almost forgot to pay my very first student loan bill, which, once again would have been brilliant, considering the fact that I'm about to go back to school. Finding myself in default and thereby barred from student loans might have proven to be somewhat of an issue.

I did manage the rest of my bills. So, that's a bit of a relief. I filled out my mileage sheet for Britty today, and will mail it out hopefully tomorrow. If her school actually pays me again, that would be rather nice and I would be less broke than I've been for months, and that would be quite lovely.

Jasmin and I agree that Americans should say "cheeky" more often. I also want to bring back "darling," because Eleanor, my dear Swedish friend, said it so charmingly. I lack the personal charisma necessary to bring anything back; my affectations usually have the opposite effect. But Jasmin knows everyone on Earth, and is much cooler than me, so she actually stands a chance of getting the job done.

Church last night once again underscored the necessity of my becoming less...myself. My playing small isn't helping anyone out. My hesitance and general reluctance to go out on a limb may have to go. As Slick Shoes once sang: "Sometimes I sit and think too much / But it never gets me anywhere / Results come from actions / So you've got to get up off your seat / You've got to go and try / You've got to go and try."

Brianne's court date is tomorrow. Hopefully it will turn out as un-miserably as possible. Hopefully, also, school won't be cancelled and I won't have to babysit in the morning, and I'll be free to take her. Elsewise, dad will be irritated.

My mom still isn't doing well. Last night she went to the emergency room and the doctor gave a list of things that could possibly be wrong. He didn't think she had gout; at the last minute he changed his mind. He wrote a prescription which would help if it was gout, but I wouldn't let her take it until we called the kidney center. ER doctors know jack about transplant patients. Turns out that the drug is toxic to mom's kidney, so thank God she didn't take it. She has another appointment tomorrow. Maybe this one will be less of a waste.

The kidney center still hasn't called us back about the protein leak issue. It's been five weeks. We've called three times this week alone. The nurse promised to have the doctor paged today, and still no call back. We'll try again tomorrow.

I now have to figure out whether or not my wireless company has been double billing me. How can I be this broke, and still so incapable of recognizing this sort of problem? Blah. Will have to sort this out.

Goodnight, you kings of New England, you princes of Maine!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


So I must type very quickly since I'm boiling water for macaroni right now.

Updates on this week's stressors:

Mom got her test done yesterday at the hospital. Turns out that it's definitely not a blood clot in her leg. That's the good news. Bad news is, they don't know what it is. We may be spending the evening at the emergency room. Still no word on her kidney test from three weeks ago. This is very irritating.

Babysitting is actually working out quite well. I enjoy it. My niece dropped a drool bomb on me today while I was holding her up in the air. It was pretty funny. At least, everyone else thought so.

Crestline schools finally paid me last weekend. I can now afford to buy my Ramen noodles in dollar packs of five. Yay!

Must check on water. Boy will kill me if his macaroni takes longer to make than it absolutely has to.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Busy Little Bee.

Yesterday was quite a long day!

Due to persistent insomnia, I didn't sleep much Sunday night. So I was groggy as hell as I forced myself out of bed at 6:30 on Monday morning to take my niece to the Social Security Administration.

Having only a vague idea of where my niece was staying and an even vaguer idea of where the SSA was located, I had a rather lovely time turning around a lot. But eventually I found a) Brittany; and, b) the Social Security Administration.

We walked into SSA with two minutes to spare, and I was feeling pretty good about the day. I checked Brittany in at the extremely busy front desk, forgetting to mention that a) I wasn't Brittany; and, b) the actual Brittany is deaf. So after fifteen minutes of waiting for no particularly good reason, I went back up to the front desk and informed them of those facts. Both times I had been standing behind a rather longwinded lady who had to be interrupted so the kind of grumpy guy behind the window could ask in a loud voice: "What is it you want?"

So I informed him that he needed to page the interpreter. He looked confused, told me to go sit down, and he'd take care of it. Meanwhile, Britt's caseworker came out holding a sign reading her name, looking all the world like a particularly hairy version of one of those chicks who walk around boxing rings flashing what round it is. I missed it since I was talking to the guy at the front desk, and Britty wasn't going anywhere without me, so we ended up waiting another ten minutes for the caseworker to come back out with the sign.

He took us back to his cubicle and told us nervously that the computers were running slow. I found out later that actually the entire system had crashed. He rushed around in a huff for the next half hour or so, leaving Britty and I to talk. When he finally came back, he let us know that they had forgotten to schedule an interpreter. So bascially, the entire trip was a wash. It took another half hour or so to reschedule the appointment. The plus side was that he called the interpreter right in front of us, so we're reasonably certain that they'll show up next time.

I will give the SSA credit for this much: They didn't blame us for the mistake. I've become quite accustomed lately, to businesses blaming me for all their mistakes. See: Sprint, X5 Wireless, Verizon, etc. and treating me like some chump. In spite of the irritation of having had to waste time, in the morning (of all of the rotten times one can be conscious), it was extremely refreshing to hear the guy say: "We're really sorry about this. I can see the order for an interpreter on my report. Whoever scheduled your appointment was supposed to schedule an interpreter, and they just didn't do it. No excuses. I promise we'll get it right next time, and I'll take care of it myself right now."

So after that, we left for Columbus. Britt wanted to stay at her girlfriend's mom house for the day, so she could go out to dinner with them that night. However, the exit off 270 to her house was closed. We ended up lost for about 45 minutes before I finally dropped her off.

I went to my sisters' house in Crestline after that to drop some pictures off to them. I was complaining to Denise that I haven't seen Tyron in weeks, and she managed to get a hold of Jessica for me. So I jetted over to Jessica's house to get the baby. It's usually a 30 minute trip; I sped like the devil to get there in fifteen. I had to be in Mansfield to get Jasmin's son off the bus at 3:15.

All would have been well, except Ty's coat had just been washed and was still wet. I had to wait until 2:50 before the bugger was dry. It's usually a half hour to forty minute drive to Jasmin's house from Jessica's, and I couldn't drive like an idiot with the baby in the car. I was pretty much freaking out. But miraculously, I missed almost every single light, and made it to Jas' house with five minutes to spare. As an additional bonus, the bus was five minutes late arriving anyway, so I had time to get the house ready before the boy arrived.

When he did get there, he brought a friend. So I made Jesse and his friend Christian do their reading together, which, if you know Jesse, you would know is no small task. Ty was in serious need of a nap, and I was trying to make him agree to one, when another one of Jesse's friends drops by. I let the kid stay, though that makes the second time in a week I was scheduled to have one to two boys, and ended up with three to four. It was kind of crazy, though this time it was actually much smoother, and besides coaxing little man into a nap, I hardly had to do any work at all after homework was done.

How do people with large families manage? I can handle two eight year-old's and a baby, with only a minimal amount of weeping and gnashing of teeth; but goodness, add a third eight year-old, and it's a mess!

In any case, after the real adults got there and Ty and I went home, things should have gotten calmer. Little man went to sleep early, around 9:30. I knew that was a bad sign, but when he awoke at 2:30 I was really unprepared for the trouble that would ensue. It seems that he developed an ear infection over the course of the night. His two top front teeth are about to break through, so he's been crying a lot anyway. His mom and dad decided earlier this week that it was time to break him from the binky. Aunt Sarie disagrees. It's not time for a major life change, when I have a sick, sore baby overnight. It's really not.

Anyway, flash forward an hour-and-a-half, and every song I know sung three or four times over until my throat's sore, and Ty finally fell asleep. I didn't have such an easy time. I was up until six, and back up at eight when the baby naturally awoke again.

By that time, my little niece was here too. Ty's nine months old, and she's nearly four months. Though I should've been getting him ready to go home, I ended up letting them play together on the floor for a while. They had a blast!

He was in love with her from the start, though she was slower to warm up. He conked himself on the head with a plastic hammer a few times, and blew some bubbles to make her laugh. The latter bit was all it took. They’re quite in love now, and I think they will be for some time yet. I think they have the potential of becoming very close as they grow up, seeing as they’re so close in age. Like Jimmy and I used to be, with nine months between us.

All that playing, however, meant I was running late. Add to that the fact that I still take fifteen minutes to strap Ty into his new car seat, even though I’ve done it forty times by now. Also, I’ve never been to Jessica’s new apartment before, and I had no idea where it was at. I had a lovely time taking a lot of wrong roads, and turning around a lot, and even knocking on the wrong door once. But success at last came around 11:30.

I came home, wrote this, am preparing to take a shower and then I will head back to Mansfield to get Jasmin’s son off the bus.

I think I may just pass out comatose for a couple of hours. That would be nice. It’s funny though, after the past 36 hours of insanity, my next 36 hours will probably pass so bloody uneventfully that I’ll be bored to tears. We’ll have to see.

More of my crazy week later! This is long past long enough anyway.

Sunday, March 06, 2005


Yesterday and today I’ve done almost nothing but sit and vegetate to music. When I was a teenager, I used to do this a lot. Sometimes I think the sole secular driving force behind my survival of adolescence was my cd collection. Since I’ve been older, and happier, I’ve spent a lot less time listening to music.

I drive a lot, so that means that I’m still probably hearing more music than most people do. But sometimes I even get tired of listening to music in the car now. The older I get, the more comfortable I am driving around with nothing playing but the thoughts in my head.

These past two days though have been nothing but music. Actually, I spent Thursday at Jasmin’s (read: hiding from the world since everyone who lives there was at work/school, and therefore I didn't have to talk to anyone) downloading music too. I’ve found some good new stuff, and I’ve revisited a lot of really great old stuff that never became part of my classics file just because I wasn’t as into music when I first heard it.

So, anyway, if anyone’s been hurting for quality music to listen to lately, here are twenty songs (in no discernable order) that I wish all my friends loved too:

Don’t Wait Too Long – Madeleine Peyroux
Come to Jesus – Mindy Smith
Run – Snow Patrol
Ordinary People – John Legend
Collide – Howie Day

Annabelle – Gillian Welch
Devil Had a Hold of Me – Gillian Welch
Rock of Ages – Gillian Welch
Send Down an Angel – Allison Moorer
On a Clear Blue Morning – Allison Moorer

Trust – Sixpence None the Richer
No More Words – Slick Shoes
Nothing But the Blood of Jesus – Chris Rice
Angel Doves – Mindy Smith
Jesus on the Mainline – Mississippi Fred McDowell

Honey and the Moon – Joseph Arthur
Nobody’s Fault But Mine – Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Gravity – A Perfect Circle
Motherless Children Have a Hard Time – Blind Willie Johnson
Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground – Blind Willie Johnson