Random equations in the mathematics of life

Posts tagged ‘us’

Divisions

The holiday season is one of my favorites.  Despite not being religious, I still sing the traditional “Christmas” songs of my childhood at St. Madeleine Sophie church/school.  I’m the person who has lights wrapped around the ski rack on top of my car (yes, they work and yes I get complimented on them!).  I actually love finding cool gifts for the people I love, and even wrapping them.  I have fun finding goofy, hilarious cards, and even writing the letter and taking the photo to slip inside.  Decking the halls is fun, spending the day going to the mountains with my family to choose and cut a tree is one of my favorites.

But I have to say that there is one thing that brings out the Grinchy McScroogerson inside me.

I cannot stand people who whine and complain about the phrase, “Happy Holidays.”  There is no “war on Christmas.”  No one is cursing Christianity by using the phrase, “Happy Holidays.”  What they’re doing is recognizing the fact that there are a bunch of holidays that occur this time, and making a genuine attempt to show respect to ALL of them.  People who crow about “Jesus is the reason for the season” need to check their history books.  The birth of Christ has been definitively shown to have occurred some time in August.  The celebration was moved to December in a vain attempt to overshadow Saturnalia and Solstice.  Yet, in as much as the Christian faith wanted to abolish the Pagan holidays, it has no issue with bogarting several Pagan traditions such as mistletoe, decorated trees, and wreaths.  In fact, I would absolutely love to have a Christian reader explain to me why, since Pagan religions are so evil, they fly in the face of their own bible to have Christmas trees in their house?  Jeremiah 10: 1-5 certainly seems clear to me.  Hmm.

So instead of whining and complaining when someone doesn’t look at you and inherently know what faith you practice, and which holidays you celebrate, maybe you could step back, remove your head from your colon, and just accept the fact that someone is being nice to you.  Smile.  Say something back.  If you prefer to use “Merry Christmas” simply because it’s what you celebrate, and you don’t care what those other heathens say, Jesus would never want you to acknowledge or respect other traditions, fine.  Rock on.  But stop acting like a self-righteous douchecanoe when someone wishes you peace, love, and joy in a greeting.

*****

The holiday season also brings out family issues for me, and I realize that I am not the least bit unique in this.  Guilt is slathered on thickly in my family, wielded by an expert in the application.  My mother has always sought to have things exactly as she wants them, no matter what the cost to anyone else.  She decides how the scene will unfold, and Dog help anyone who dares deviate from her wishes.  When we were kids, she refused to tolerate even the hint of a lie.  Yet in her own world, she will say whatever she feels needs to be said to maintain the level of control she seeks over her children, her friends, her whole existence.  She would, at the same time, insist that she doesn’t lie.  She “forgets” or “misunderstood” but how dare you suggest that she lied?  What she actually does is interpret things differently, and then conveys those interpretations in the most convenient translations.  But lie? Noooooo.

I have crumbled in the face of “family first” so many times I can’t even count.  I have betrayed my own heart and soul to accommodate the whims and wishes of my mother, to bend over backwards to keep peace, holding silent on episode after episode of bullshit.  So this year, I’ve decided to listen to my therapist and try to stay true to me.  I have no desire to pretend to be happy to hang out with Golden Boy and his new girlfriend, or my aunt who is so utterly clueless that she hasn’t figured out that her wardrobe needs to evolve beyond that of a 25 year old (she’s nearly 60).  My sister approached me last year with the decision that our families should not get together anymore.  I was more than a little surprised, as my family, while not enthused at attending these holiday farces, were at least willing to do so with a shrug.  That her family was “absolutely on board” as she put it, hurt my kids a lot.  They had issues with one of their cousins but not so much with the other.  So when the one cousin made an attempt with an olive branch this year, it truly was too little too late, I guess.  I don’t get in the middle of it anymore; they’re nearly adults and need to figure out their own way.  But they’ve seen quite clearly from my own life that genetics do not make “family”.  Love, trust, and loyalty do.

My holiday season will have its share of stresses, as my in-laws will be with us for my entire break.  They’re good people, but have no hobbies or interest beyond sitting around the house.  It doesn’t mesh well with our family, but we’re going to hopefully make it work for everyone.  That being said, I am determined to have my own peaceful few weeks.  My Zen Holiday.  I’ve got presents wrapped as they come in the house, cards ready to be sent tomorrow, shopping done, menus planned.  I have definitely decided not to work over the break, unlike the chaotic deadlines of last year.  But most of all, I am not attending my “family gathering”.  My mother flew at me when I mentioned possibly being away for the weekend on which it’s planned.  She swore that my sister said she told me the date and everyone said it was fine.  Not true.  I know to double check with my sister on anything my mother says, and she confirmed that my mother hadn’t even mentioned the date to her.  Then last night, when my mother was out to dinner with my sister’s family, my sister mentioned my being absent that weekend.  My mother furiously denied this, swearing up and down that she checked the date with me and that I’d said it was great.  See what I mean?

This season is going to be about my family – the Scientist, the Professor, the Artist, and the Ambassador.  It’ll be about the people who mean the most to me, my chosen family, outside of those four, and it’ll be about that elusive Zen.

Wishing you and your family love, joy, Zen, and  “Happy Holidays”, no matter which ones you celebrate!

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Across the hypotenuse

So it appears that we may have a preliminary decision for the island destination.  Now, this is by no means set in stone, and I am not unrealistic when it comes to the changes that can occur over the next five years.  That being said, I feel like you have to start somewhere if your goals are to be attained.  You need a focal point, of sorts.

That focal point, barring any unforeseen complications, will be St Thomas, USVI.  The backups are about equal in priority; they are Grand Cayman and Barbados.  (I’d rather Barbados, he’d rather GC.)

I do think the USVI will work well; easy access to the rest of the VI, and easy access to the kids.  We can spend the day on St John or Tortola, spend the day at the Baths in Virgin Gorda, or go watch the sunset over Christianstaad.  That ease of access is why Barbados isn’t #1 for me.  It’s pretty far away, and we want to be able to get to the kids fast if we need to, and we don’t want it to bankrupt them to come to us, either.  I’m slightly concerned about the fact that it is still a US territory; part of the point here is that I want out of the political firestorm that’s brewing.  If by some change, the republicans win the election this fall, life is going to change for women.  (In fact, it already has!)  The good ol’ boy club wants to set women’s rights back a few hundred years, objectifying us as property and taking up permanent residence in our vaginas.  Not my idea of fun.  So part of the research for me will be to see how far the laws on the mainland affect the “territories” that the US controls.  That could definitely cause a shift in priority, depending on what I find out.

There’s a little part of me that does wonder if the Scientist will back out.  It isn’t like I’ll be pissed off if he does, especially since I know full well that he doesn’t do change, and this will be one of the biggest changes of his life.  We’ll see what happens, though.

So that’s where we’re at, for now.  I’m a bit more at peace, having a point of reference so I can start the processes.  Tax laws, ex-pat laws, citizenship considerations (for the backups), all of that has to start somewhere.  It’s nice to feel a little more settled into some semblance of a plan.

In the meantime, I offer this shot of the Charlotte Amalie harbor, in St Thomas:

Parallel Play

Every time we go into a therapy session, our shrink (whom I adore!) always asks how things are going in each of our lives and then how we’re doing “as a couple.”  We always kinda stammer and stutter at this, never really knowing how to answer.  We’re not fighting much, but we also spend very little time together.  He has stuff going on, I have stuff going on.  We share space at night, but during the day, we lead very separate lives.  Weekends tend to progress in much the same way, with the exception of when we do stuff with the kids as a whole family.

Now, don’t get me wrong: this isn’t a matter of avoidance.  It’s merely that we just have other stuff to do, and that stuff doesn’t really include the other person.  I got thinking about it while driving today (big surprise, right?) and I think the concept that works best to describe things with us is Parallel Play. (Yes, this is seen in toddlers; it’s a corollary, people!)  I first learned about the concept in one of the many psych/child development courses I took as a student, and it genuinely does seem like an apt description.

There’s very little animosity there, and there is interaction between us, but we’re both basically just doing our own thing.  I’m ok with this; just wish I could read his mind to know if he is as well.  And it isn’t an extreme thing, either: it isn’t like we never talk or hang out.  It’s just not a common occurrence.  Strange though that allegory seems, though, I think it’s the best way I can describe us right now, and will probably be my answer when we’re asked next week.

I guess it’s one more piece of evidence to prove I spend way too much time in my head sometimes.  =)

Sister-Wives

I kinda fell into watching this show by accident.  One of my [many] weird quirks is that I cannot fold laundry or iron without either talking to someone or watching TV.  No idea why.  Just one more oddity, I guess.

Anyhow, I’ve seen most of this season’s episodes, and found it fascinating.  I’d watched “Big Love” (courtesy of NetFlix), but that’s scripted, where this is a real-life family of polygamists.  Now, understand that in theory, I couldn’t care less who sleeps with whom, and how people construct their families, so long as everyone is working on the same page.  And it absolutely seems that this family is doing just that.  I truly wish them all the happiness in the world, and they certainly appear to have a lot of love in their lives.

But I have to admit to wishing I could talk to the wives, to ask the questions rattling around in my head.  I think I’d chicken out, though, because I sincerely have no wish to offend.  I’m just so curious as to how they feel about things sometimes.

The husband’s name is Kody, and his wives are, in order, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn.  Meri admitted at one point to having some jealousy issues, despite her genuine enthusiasm for the lifestyle.  In fact, she was the one who felt the first connection with Robyn, and suggested that Kody consider forming a relationship and inviting her to join the family.  These women are truly like sisters, and I respect that bond.  They all know that if anything happens to them, their kids are taken care of, and that there is plenty of help to go around.  And in a way, I think I could easily get into a communal living type environment.  I have always loved and embraced the idea that “it takes a village to raise a child,” and I am so very lucky to have that in my kids’ lives.  They have two very involved parents, but my kids also know without a doubt that they have options for a “second opinion” when they feel they need, or even just want, one.  The Artist, at one point, when having difficulty with some relationship issues, talked to me, and then also sought the advice of the Musician.  The Ambassador, on another occasion, didn’t like my answer to a question, and went straight to the Trainer.  I fully support these interactions, and I know this family definitely has that kind of attitude as well.

But something did kind of induce an eyebrow raise from me…each wife has Kody in her bed on every fourth night.  Absolutely fair division, makes perfect sense and all that.  But it got me thinking.  While sex is part of most “normal” marriages, almost more important to me in the marriage bond for me would be the friendship.  This is your best friend.  And after a long day, part of the “reward” at the end is to crash out in your comfy bed with your spouse and just chill together and talk in the dark.  It could be a comforting massage, maybe brushing her hair, or just holding hands, laughing quietly at the absurdities of life.  But not in a communal marriage.  Think about that for a sec.  You pledge your body to one man forever.  But not only can he pledge his body to however many people he wants when you cannot, but you only get to enjoy the closeness with him one week out of the month.  He gets to have that snuggling, the warmth and security of a lover against him when he wakes up at 3am.  But you?  You spend 3 weeks out of the month in your bed alone.  Your sexual needs don’t count unless it’s on your calendar night.  Have a shitty day and want to cry in his arms for a while?  Not if it’s another wife’s turn.  She has been feeling the same loss lately, and she isn’t about to give up her turn to have him in her bed.

I’m not the jealous type, and if the Scientist took a lover, or even got into a relationship, it wouldn’t bother me.  The thing is, though, that if he is spending the night with her, I too, have the freedom on my side, to decide if I want to do the same.  I’m not saying I want to date someone or anything; holy hell, not even remotely.  I cannot handle the drama or the effort right now, and there is already way too much chaos in my life.  But the fact is that marriage is a partnership, and to borrow a stupid cliche, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.  I just don’t see the fairness of the way that’s handled in polygamist marriage.

Again, I don’t mean to offend anyone.  I honestly do respect their choices and their decisions.  They are all intelligent adults, who entered this way of life with open eyes and a clear understanding what it entails.  Their religious beliefs are no more valid or invalid than any other dogma, and they have as much right to those beliefs and practices as anyone else.  It just got my mind swirling last night, and so I core dumped it here.

 

I feel the need…the need…for…sleep?

Things have been absolutely insane around here.  I realize this is nothing new, but it seems almost more chaotic than usual.  Part of this is the fact that several soccer games were rained out, and had to be dropped into the season’s already packed schedule for make-ups.  The Ambassador is stressing out because his school work is quite hard, and he’s getting real tired trying to keep up, but like I keep reassuring him, the season is done in 11 days.  The Artist and the Professor both have college exams going on right now, along with their usual papers and projects to do.

Weekends are packed for right now, as well, but they too, ease off when the last of the candy corn and Jack-O-Lanterns are cleaned up.  Fall break for the girls was last weekend, and Jay’s roommate came home with her to stay.  The Poet is a sweet girl; she fit right into the family seamlessly, even following along with our crazy sense of humor.  This weekend, the girls and the Scientist are ziplining as an early Christmas gift.  The Ambassador can’t join, as he’s acrophobic, and I can’t either with my knee, but I’ll be in tow with Alejandro (who is, by the way, ecstatic about this excursion!) to capture the action.  Next weekend is the Professor’s feis in Charlotte, and the Writer is coming down from Minnesoooooota to join us.  Cannot wait to see her!  Then on the 29th, Girlyman is in town and we will go spend an evening relaxing as a family with some phenomenal music. We baked for them last year when they performed here, and will again.  But I’m not sure what I’ll make this year.

And then, we have November.  Aaahhhh.  No plans on any weekends yet, no sports to attend, nothing to rush off to after work.  I will have time to work out in the evenings, we will have a routine in the house again, I’ll actually cook instead of having dinner on the bleachers three nights a week.  Bliss, I tell you.  I’ll get my bulbs into the ground and my gardens mulched, hopefully get the closets cleaned out and stuff taken to Goodwill, and just relax.

Work isn’t any more insane than usual, but we do have project deadlines coming down the pipe.  Luckily, for once my stuff is done ahead of time, and I will not be the redheaded step-child.  I generally have system issues, or whatever, like most people, but I’ve clashed with a few certain DPI people in the past, and they hold grudges like no one I’ve ever seen.  Not surprising, but whatever.  Right now, I’m actually the eye of the hurricane as my teammates are nowhere near ready, and our content lead is tweaking out because people higher up the food chain have gotten some misinformation and are pushing in the opposite direction than we need to go.  Just stupid, really.  If they would stop and think first, they would’ve realized that what they were asserting wasn’t even possible.  Duh.  Honestly, people.

So in a few weeks, life will settle down, I will catch up on sleep, my house will get cleaned the way I want it, the gardens will be done, wars will end, there will be enough food for everyone…oh wait, I think I got a little ahead of myself there for a second.

Aaaanyhow.

Until that time?  The spiral spazziness of my existence continues.

Now batting for the Wunderdogs…

I am a sports girl.  I grew up watching football, baseball , soccer and hockey, with Olympic sports tossed in every few years.  I will admit that basketball bores me stupid, and tennis and golf don’t even keep me awake with the aide of Mountain Dew, but there aren’t too many others.  I used to love to play sports, but now that I am relegated to the role of spectator, I prefer of course, to watch through a lens while capturing the action when I can.  For things like December football games, nothing beats curling up on my bed with a soft blanket, some snacks, and my Steelers rocking the house.

My kids started sports early.  I wanted them to have the benefits of the social interaction, the healthy lifestyle, and the fun.  But I also wanted them to understand teamwork and to learn how to function as part of a team, and so we kind of adopted a team attitude towards our home life as well.  We function as a team in many ways, and I find that the payoff is well worth the effort.  While the idea of an “allowance” is cool with me from a parental perspective, it doesn’t apply to the “usual stuff.”  Help me clean out the gardens before I set in fall bulbs?  I’ll toss in some cash.  Do the dishes after dinner?  Guess what?  You live here.  That’s part of the team.  So each kid has a “Chef Night” where they are responsible for prepping dinner for the family and then cleaning up after it as well.  Haul boxes down from the attic and back up there?  Money can change hands.  But cleaning your bathroom?  Sorry, dude.  You live here, you clean up after yourself.  And so it goes.

The team approach is used with extra-curriculars as well.  If one person has a game/match/feis/tournament, we all go in support.  Siblings have wrapped up in layers of blankets on snowy sidelines for soccer games, they’ve been jostled through crowds of wig-clad girls at feisanna, padded their butts for softball tournaments, and a myriad of other occasions.  One goes, we all go.  Now, as they got older and schedules became tighter, that wasn’t always feasible, and the reality is that sometimes we can’t all go.  And that’s ok.  Policies are meant to grow and adapt with the family, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  But when we can all be there, we are.

My family also approached my disability as a team, stepping up to help fetch and carry, take on extra chores, whatever they needed to do to help me stay involved, but not cause problems for myself physically.  Asking for help is not my forte, but I’m getting better at it, and it seems to be working.

So now we have a new situation, and it’s time for the team to flip the rally caps over and pull together.  I used to joke about the Scientist’s penchant for sweet tea consumption (by the gallon!) was going to turn him into a diabetic.  About 6 months ago, I suddenly realized that I was no longer joking.  I was worried.  He was having actual symptoms, and I was watching them add up to danger.  As is the way of men (but never women, no!), he ignored me.  I made mention a few more times, but the fact is, I’m not his mother.  I’m his best friend.  Well something finally got through, and he went online to read the symptom list and it tweaked him right the hell out.  A doctor’s appointment and a vampire’s 3 course meal later, we had our answer: Type II Diabetes.

He is, of course, absolutely on board with managing things correctly.  He had preferred his little Egyptian vacation, but he isn’t stupid.  He is quite cognizant of the deadly properties of this insidious disease, and he has no desire to check out any time soon.  And really, if a patient does make the commitment to managing their diet/exercise/levels, it will never get to the point of messing with insulin injections or hideous infections and losing toes.  There is no need for it ever to go there with a bit of due diligence and support.

Obviously, there is a ton of information to process, and we’re working our way through it.  He was very frustrated at first, feeling like anything he put in his mouth was “bad,” but now we’ve worked out a bunch of meal options to get him started.  He’s got Greek yogurt to make smoothies, eggs, and such for breakfast, soup, whole wheat tortillas to make wraps (instead of sandwiches), frozen meals that are high in protein but decent with carbs, and then some sugar-free options as well.  One fun little twist to our hero’s story is that he is allergic to aspartame/NutraSweet, which makes shopping for sugar-free stuff really interesting.  Stevia and Splenda are great, but the vast majority of the sugar-free options are made with aspartame or a blend, which makes every one of them a “no-go.”

We’ve got 4 diabetic cookbooks arriving in the mail on Monday, which will provide a huge help to us, I’m sure.  I’m having the kids peruse them as well, because when I overhauled the pantry and fridge, my plan was to overhaul all of our diets.  Now, I do not want the kids messing around with food chemicals, so they will not use sugar substitutes much.  But I didn’t want this to isolate the Scientist, where he eats his special diet meal over here, and we eat some decadent food right in front of him.  That’s just not acceptable to me.  So we’re going to eat healthier as a team, and support him as a team.  The kids felt a little bit of a disconnect with the whole thing, so I bought the wristbands (kinda like the LiveStrong ones) in red that say “Cure Diabetes” on them.  They are quite stoked to wear them in support of their Dad, and I bought extra in case any of our Village wants one, or if one breaks or something.  He’s got a profile on Spark Pages, which I think is a cool idea, along with a blog, which will be great for him, too.  I’m really glad he’s got the support from his friends; receiving a medical bitchslap, which I have done 4 times in my life, can be truly devastating, and the more support you have, the better off you are in handling it.

So it’s his turn at bat…time to knock the Diabeetus out of the park.

 

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