Thursday, December 29, 2011

A lot of luck

I think your life experiences help mold you in becoming the person you are in life. Sure, some of it is determined by your innate personality, but I do think your life experiences determine, to a great extent, how you live your life. If you’ve experienced great tragedy, it will affect you. If your personality is more resilient, a tragedy may affect you to a lesser extent. If your personality is more sensitive, it may greatly inhibit you for the rest of your life.

One of those statistics that I have in the back of my mind is that between 1/6 and 1/4 (depends on the source) of women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. I feel lucky to not be in this statistic for a number of reasons, but the main reason being that I think something like that has the potential to forever change your relationship with the rest of the world. Something like that has the potential of letting fear overtake your life.

I attribute my evasion mostly to luck. The odds were somewhat in my favor to begin with. Plus I happened to never be alone with anyone who was exceedingly disrespectful (luck). And I learned my non-expensive lessons earlier in life that shaped how I operated later in life (that one might not be luck).

I think about this stuff because I now have a daughter and maybe I watched a Lifetime movie in the past week, which can always be a reason to increase the paranoia level awareness.

Thinking back, I can only come up with three instances that even come close to the broadest definition of sexual assualt. But what is funny is that they occurred when I was young and before I ever dated. Each taught me a lesson, or at least I interpreted them as life lessons.

Instance 1: I was 8 years old, and it was summer. My mother had commissioned an older lady in a single wide trailer to watch me during the day while she was at work. I hated it there. The family dynamics were awful. There were two grown sons who were in and out. There were two other kids there (one girl, one boy), and I can’t recall if the older lady was babysitting them too or if they were her sons’ kids. Anyway, the older lady sat on the couch all day and smoked while we three kids did whatever we wanted. Well, the boy found a shed in the backyard that was full of pornography. Likely it was the older sons’. There were piles of hard core stuff. Then the boy wanted to act it out and got naked several times over the course of a few weeks. Nothing happened between us other than being subjected to pornography and the naked boy although it wasn’t that age appropriate. I insisted that I stay home alone to my mother vs. go back to that babysitter. I never told my mom the real reason – well, there were many reasons, but the plethora of pornography that I can still remember to this day because it is forever etched in my mind plus the constantly stripping boy are the most notable. Of course, the older lady was oblivious to all of it.

Life Lessons from Instance 1: Trust my gut instinct when I didn’t like the place on the first day. My judgment is independent of my mother's.

Instance 2: Sophomore in high school. The class setup had been moved in the previous class, and all the desks were squished together. My seat was behind the class jerk (a senior), and I had this tiny space to squeeze through next to him, and he was sitting at his desk while the teacher stepped out of the classroom. I debated my dilemma, and he was waiting to see what I would do. I chanced it and squeezed past him sideways. He pinched my butt, which I had halfway anticipated. The rest of the class saw it, and you could tell that they were waiting to see what I would do. I wanted to smack him on the head, and had I done it, I probably wouldn’t have gotten in too much trouble given the situation. But it was more that I was worried about retaliation from him and his friends because they were awful. I didn’t do anything, which in retrospect I would have done completely differently. Still, for some reason I still feel violated by the incident or perhaps it was my non-reaction to it.  

Life Lesson from Instance 2: How you react to things creates a pattern of interaction.

Instance 3: Unlike Instance 1 and 2, which were beyond my control given the situations, Instance 3 wouldn’t have happened if I had been less stupid. It involved Paul, the guy who later stalked me for a couple of years and who pulled a knife on me. When this specific instance happened, it was before all of the later escalated behavior on his part. BUT I still got a weird vibe from him. On this day in particular, he offered me a ride home from school, but he ended up detouring to his house first, which was further away than my house. Again, I felt uneasy about the whole thing and should have insisted he take me home, but at the time there was some sort of legitimate-sounding excuse on his part.  

Get to his house, and there’s no one home. In retrospect, the afternoon could have gone bad in so many ways since he was considerably stronger than me. Nothing too horrible happened, but it was bad enough to get a life lesson.

Life Lesson from Instance 3: Be less stupid about who you’re alone with.

All in all, each of these situations taught me something, and none were serious enough to do any long-term damage. I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I wish everyone else was as lucky.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Facts vs. Non-Facts

The in-laws took Miss J to S's brother's house for a day. It's her first night away from home. We're crossing our fingers that she does okay. S's parents won't admit if she doesn't do okay. For her sake, though, we're hoping she doesn't freak out.

The visit is going okay. By the end of Monday, I was done. We hosted Saturday, we hosted Sunday, we hosted Monday. By Monday a tiny house all by myself was looking really appealing. I rested some on Tuesday, and tonight Miss J is gone and should be back tomorrow night.

Let's party like rock stars!!! Or sleep...

S's parents are different from us in many ways. Aside from the political differences that go without saying, there are two other differences.

1) They are consumers, and we aren't as much. We have a nice house, which was important to both of us. But other than that, we aren't big consumers. We don't buy much. We buy new things when our original thing breaks beyond repair or there's a good sale. We go out to eat about once a month. We own about 6 DVDs (it's beyond pathetic). S's parents are uber consumers. They buy So. Much. Stuff. And they can't afford to buy all the stuff they buy. We have the means to buy stuff, but we don't have much in the way of desire. They have desire, but they don't have the means. But it's okay, in their words, because "that's what credit cards are for."  Ummmm, okay.

2) They make shit up. In my world and my husband's world, there are these things called facts that are not debatable. You know, people are born, people die, historical events happened on specific dates. We're not trying to pass off our personal opinions as fact. The "why" of some facts can be subject to personal opinion and interpretation occasionally. I get that. I try to preface my opinions and observations accordingly.

But when you make up non-facts and try to pass them off as legitimate facts multiple times without any caveat like "I think" or "I heard" or something like that, it's plain weird. As in, S's dad said that a specific member of a musical group died of pancreatic cancer. I didn't know this, which I said. However, he has a track record of making shit up, so I look it up and find that the person is alive and well, just as I had thought.

I cannot comprehend why someone would pass off non-facts as facts. Does he actually believe these non-facts are facts? Or does he want to appear smarter than everyone else, and he thinks making stuff up is a way to do that even though it makes me distrust anything he says? It really puzzles me. Maybe it's because I live in a world where there are facts, there are opinions, and I think I do an okay job of categorizing them. It's hard for me to fathom how someone can be so fuzzy on the differences between the two categories.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Merry Christmas! Hope everyone had a relaxing Christmas.

Remember my post about my Goodwill find?

Well, I need to amend it. I went through it again and found another gift card in it. The other one was a $50 gift card to REI.

I'm working on a longer post, or - well - I'm at least thinking about a longer post.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Being Replaced

Back in 2007, once this whole having a baby thing came into fruition, I really wanted a girl. Why? I don't know. I'm not particularly girly myself, but I thought it would be fun.

Then I had a girl, who is a complete daddy's girl and she can be a little too dramatic for my tastes. All my friends had these quiet, gurgling, content baby boys who wanted to be by them every second. Then I thought that a mama's boy would be kind of cool (grass is always greener).

Then I realized the terrors that some boys can be. Not so much the psychological terrors (girls still have that covered), but rather the terrors that literally climb the curtains and throw breakable stuff and draw on furniture with magic markers and look at you like you're nuts when you point out that any of these behaviors are unacceptable. THAT kind of terror that lands you in the emergency room far too frequently and causes you to lock or super glue everything in sight.

Then I came to appreciate having a girl - a thoughtful, non-reckless girl - again. If you come to my house now, most of the time you wouldn't realize we had a kid if you removed the kid books and few toys lying out. There are no cabinet locks, there are no toilet locks, breakables are sitting out, our trees are completely decorated and she doesn't mess with them unless she wants to look at an ornament. Of course, friends with little children who are terrors are mortified at the 5,233 ways a kid can hurt himself at our house.

Then I again see the attachment that little boys have with their moms and get a bit whimsical that I don't have a little boy.

And then, and then...

I realize what a strange, odd, peculiar dynamic that some mothers have with their sons and daughters-in-law if their sons get married or are in a serious relationship. It's as if the wife and mother are vying for the affection of the husband/son. At what point does the mother let go or, in some cases, does she ever let go? At what point will the mother realize that she shouldn't be washing his laundry and that her role has changed from caretaker/authoritarian to something more like a friend who should stay out of her son's personal life? Sure, she can give advice if asked, but at what point does she realize that the essence of her "job" as a mother is complete and she can take a well-deserved step back and appreciate the person she helped shape without treating him like he's still a child who can't make decisions for himself?

Not that I would be dealing with and/or observing this behavior at all, you know, with the in-laws in town or anything like that.... 

So now I'm back in the camp that having a girl ROCKS because I don't have to deal with this with her potential suitors. Well, I'm sure I will have to deal with her potential suitors, but I don't see me coming between her and her potential suitor in the same way that mothers can feel threatened by their sons' girlfriends/wives. You see, my reflections on her suitor(s) will be things revolving around her personal safety - do I get the drug dealer vibe from him, do I get the violent vibe from him, etc. I don't think I'll be having the same issues that I might be having if I had a boy. Then my thought process might go something like: I've been his whole world for a decade and a half, and now I'm being replaced by this two-bit floozy who can't even multiply single digits without face strain??? 

Instead, my husband gets to deal with all of those psychological "being replaced" fears while I'm the cool and collected one for once.

It's good to have a girl.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

An unexpected treasure

I went to Goodwill looking for a white elephant gift for the gift exchange. If you haven't participated in one of these before, basically you find a tacky gift to nicely wrap (so people want yours) and then the lucky "winner" gets to take the tackiness to enjoy in the privacy of their own home or office.

The best "finds" for these sorts of things tend to be tacky homemade craft pieces from the 80s that have been given to Goodwill. Crotcheted Santas with lots of bells, tackiness that sings loudly, crotcheted candlestick covers... anything a "crafty" grandma from the 80s would have made.

One of my grandmothers died before I was born, and the other wasn't crafty. I still have tackiness around my house, but I want to keep my tackiness. So I went to Goodwill searching. I didn't find the "perfect" gift, but I found something that made me chuckle. Done!

Then I got distracted by some other displays and ended up buying something for myself. Inside the box, as I was rooting around to make sure all the parts were there, I came across something. I saw a Christmas card. (Don't you love seeing Christmas cards to/from people you don't know?) Then I found something odd. It was a gift certificate to the Outback. Free dinners, including appetizers & desserts, up to a $45 dollar value. No expiration date. Since it was a gift certificate and not a gift card, I knew it had to be a few (or many) years old.

I bought the item, including the gift certificate, and brought it home. I called The Outback. They said they would honor it.

So S, J & I went out for dinner for free (except for tip). I paid $2.50 for the item and ended up getting a $45 meal for free. Woot woot!

You never know what treasures you'll find at Goodwill!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Non-breakfast foods

The world discriminates against anti-breakfast food people.

On Friday I flew across the state and back on the same day. I was up sinfully early at 3:30am after going to bed at midnight. When one wakes up at that godforsaken time, let's just say your first thought isn't, "What's for breakfast?" Your first thought is, "I wanna go back to bed and NOW."

I dutifully tried to take breakfast with me to the airport, knowing that I'd eventually be hungry. The problem? What is non-messy, portable (not needing dishware), and doesn't need reheating? (I tend not to like granola/cereal bars and they have gluten in them anyway.)  I ended up taking an apple and 10 almonds.

By the time I drove to the airport, parked, and got through security, I was famished. This usually happens to me; 1.5 - 2 hours after I wake up, I'm very much like "Feed me!" I demolished the apple and 10 almonds very quickly, and I was still hungry.  Then I decided to pick up something at the many places to eat at the airport.

I know I'm a picky-ish eater. I don't like eggs, I don't like most breakfast meats (bacon, ham, sausage), I should stay away from gluten pastries, I don't like coffee.

My first preference was Qdoba. Mexican burrito place like Chipotle. I practically run up there because it's OPEN! A yummy chicken, rice, cheese/sour cream burrito! But wait, they're ONLY serving breakfast burritos. Eggs, some pork meat item (no chicken this early), sour cream/cheese all wrapped up in a tortilla. But if I got one, I'd only end up with sour cream and cheese wrapped up in the tortilla since I don't "do" eggs or that meat. Fail. I asked about something else, and I was told no.

Then I go to the next option: Wendy's. Egg biscuit sandwiches, coffee, pastries. Eh, no thanks.

I even check out the Japanese food kiosk. Maybe I could get some teriyaki chicken. Umm, nope.

Then I see Ivar's (fish) is open. I could eat some fish and fries. Oh, silly me, they have a "special" breakfast menu. Maybe it would include clam chowder then? Nope. It's more egg biscuit sandwiches.

Why is there only 1 sanctioned breakfast meal served at the airport?

Who has determined that eggs and pork on a biscuit (Mexican version: wrapped in a tortilla) is the only acceptable form of breakfast? 

Why can we not eat anything else between 4am - 10am/11am at the airport?

At this point, I've given up hope. I will just have to have a rumbling stomach during the whole plane ride and chance passing out from being famished (don't you love when I get all dramatic???). I decided to walk the terminal a little more before my flight, and I spotted a Quizno's. I saw their big sign about breakfast. As you might imagine, eggs and breakfast pork on a sub. I go in and look desperate. "Is there any way I can get something else other than the breakfast subs? Pleasssssssse?"  She said they had salads. Salad! Yes!!!!!! 

I gleefully ate a chicken caesar salad at the gate, extremely happy that I figured out a way to get non-standard breakfast food at the airport.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Not much to say

I haven't posted in a while.

Reason 1: Something's potentially in the hopper. A big change of sorts for our family. Things are kind of loosey goosey, nothing definitive, but I don't really want to talk about it until there's a decision.

Reason 2: My family was in town for 48 hours this past weekend. It was a good but exhausting visit. S's parents and sister are coming starting next Wednesday, and the parents are staying for 3 flipping weeks. Sister will likely be staying 3 days. You probably don't want to hear me lament about the visit where we will stare at each other while I'm on vacation and S is working, right? I don't even want to think about it. One week I can tolerate just fine. Three weeks is pushing my tolerance level.

Reason 3: I've been fantasizing about a teeny tiny house (see above reason). As in, a 65 sq ft house, which is more like a jail cell ... but you could make a house the size of a jail cell kind of cozy.

Reason 4: I don't have much to say. I will spare you my bank saga rant for another time.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thoughts from Nano

I completed Nano.

For those of you who regularly read this blog, I doubt you are surprised that I hit the word threshold of 50,000. I can sputter 50,000 words of crap quite easily, you already know this. What I do feel accomplished about is to have written 50,000 words relating to one slightly coherent plot with a couple of sub-plots and with a slight amount of character development. That, folks, is not something I was sure I could do because I do have a bit of ADD in my writing.

I have tried to write a novel since I was 10 years old. I'd get to about page 20 and start to lose steam. I'd put it down for a few weeks, and then...I'd forget, and by the time I got back to it I'd have to re-read the whole thing, and I'd still be lost. Nanowrimo is great because it's writing a novel in 30 days. The timeline is so short that you don't forget where you're at or where you're going. It's a continuous word vomit. When I wasn't word vomiting this month, like when I was at work or trying to go to sleep, I'd mentally work out where I would be going next in my writing session so that when I was in front of a computer, I could word vomit.

In short, it was an awesome exercise in discipline. And I made it!

Now people are asking to read it. I think my husband asked, but he doesn't directly put me in a corner about it like a lot of other people have. One thing that I personally struggle with is not having people learn all facets of me. I feel incredibly vulnerable the more people know. My Nanowrimo project was almost like a huge therapy session due to the subject and the themes. I don't think the theme and subjects are ones that I discuss here, so for someone who only reads this would be taken aback. Plus it needs a LOT of editing work, and I think at least one of the themes isn't socially acceptable. So I doubt I'll be sharing anytime soon.

Around 42,000 words I felt done. I had lost sufficient steam. I'd written the conclusion; the end was there, but I still needed to get my word count up. So I worked on filling holes. And you know what? I was impressed with my ability to fill holes, and I ended up creating a sub-plot of sorts that I weaved through it. There's something to be said about forcing yourself to go a little farther when you already feel like you've done "enough." I hate that part in running, but in writing it's far more tolerable.

I feel kind of proud of myself. Not just in actually doing it, but in getting the time management down. There are certain people I know that get overwhelmed by only a 37.5 hour workweek. I get that we all have our own independent standards of "busy," but there's something strangely satisfying about working full-time, having a husband, having a kid, training for a 5k, AND writing a novel all in the same month. I'm sorry, I just don't have pity on people who complain they "can't" do things when really they don't want it bad enough.

It's all about the priorities you make in life.