Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Oh, how I wish this post was about George Michael. You have no idea how much I'd love to tell you to wake me up, before you go go.

Nope. This is a crappy post. Like, maybe keep some kleenex nearby.

I went over to CN's last night to watch tv with him. He's been a little down lately, because of his dad's poor health. I wanted to see how he was doing and besides, I missed him. (Yes, I miss him after 18 hours. Shut up.)

"Hi Babe!" I said, walking in the front door.

"Hi!" he said from the couch. He was watching tv.

Then, I went over to explain to him why I was at his house, instead of making him a peach cobbler like I told him I was going to do. It's because I can't keep the fresh peaches longer than 6 hours before they rot (I have no idea what is up with that, but it's very frustrating). After three tries of using fresh, local peaches, I had given up and decided to use frozen peaches. I had originally planned on baking the cobbler on Sunday, but we had been at the hospital all day and the defrosted frozen peaches had rotted in the fridge and yadda yadda yadda...

That's when I noticed he had a Bible next to him.

Not that this is totally out of the question, because he and I have talked about God before and we both pray before we fall asleep at night, and I do want to start going to church again. But he and I don't really crack open a Bible at the end of the day, either. This was out of the ordinary.

I knew it had to do with his dad. Something was up. Which stinks, because he's the kind of guy who doesn't like to talk about crappy stuff, like sick parents. Basically, we are opposite in this way. Which leaves me not really knowing what to do. Do I ask and make him uncomfortable? Do I make him talk about it, because I know it's good to talk about this stuff, even if it isn't exactly a picnic? Or do I allow him to remain quiet and lost in his thoughts? Should I just STFU and watch tv? To be honest, I haven't exactly learned what to do when it comes to Serious Crappiness Relating to The Boyfriend. I am sort of trying to learn what to do as I go, and hoping that I don't upset him or piss him off in the process. I will be the first to admit that he and I are still learning how to communicate with each other in certain situations. [See post from earlier this week...]

I decided to just ask.

"Have you talked to your mom?" I squeaked, hesitatingly.


And that's when he told me. His dad is getting radiation all week, and going home on Friday to recuperate. If the radiation doesn't work, the doctors are giving him 6 weeks to live. If it does work, they are giving him 8 months. Eight months. Best case scenario. Fuck. Actually, you know what, "fuck" doesn't even begin to express how much this sucks. For him. For CN. For their family. Stop and imagine how it would feel if you got this news. "Hey, by the way, that person you love very much? That person you have known your whole life? Yeah, they won't be here next summer. This is a good time to take that vacation you've always talked about."

Kinda puts stuff in perspective, huh?

The doctors want his parents to sign all the end-of-life paperwork. Which is not fun to fill out, because it asks questions like, "If you are unable to breathe on your own, do you want the doctors to resuscitate you or not?" and "Would you want to be on life support? Have feeding tubes? Be in a permanent vegetative state? Or do you want us to pull the plug?"

As you can probably tell, it's not looking good. And unless you've been through this type of shit with your own loved ones, you are not fully grasping it, let me tell you. I helped my mom fill out that form when my dad was really sick. He died a month to the day after we filled out that paperwork. When the doctor told CN's mom he wanted her to fill it out, I knew what it meant (oh shit, that's not good), but I could tell that CN and his mom did not fully grasp it. The look on their faces was more along the lines of, "That's just a precaution, right? Right?"

I was filled with flashbacks. If you are in the club, too, you are probably having flashbacks of your own loved one's illness right now, as you are reading this. What club am I talking about? The Grief Club. Not exactly a club I was hoping to be a part of. Anyway, until you have lost a close relative or loved one, you cannot understand what it's like. You think you do, but you don't, trust me. When I was in your shoes, I thought I could understand what grief was like, too.

Grief is like a brick wall of sadness. And you hit it, face first, at about 95mph. Again and again and again. All day long. Every 2 minutes. Until further notice. It could be a week. Or a month. Or a few months. Or the rest of your life. It's like being trapped on a scary rollercoaster, wanting to get off, but never being allowed. You can't talk. You can't think, unless you are thinking sad things. You can't look people in the eye. You want to be alone, but at the same time, you want to be surrounded by people. It feels weird to laugh, but you want someone to tell a funny story about that person so badly, even if you cry and laugh at the same time. You definitely do not feel like yourself.

And then one day, you are ok. You start to feel non-zombie again, and you start to do normal things again. Like eating. And sleeping. And not crying every second of every day. You can go to the grocery store, and actually make it home before you burst into tears. This is good!

Every day gets a little bit easier. You are thinking, "Ok, cool. I made it. It's all going to be ok." And then WHAM it hits you again out of nowhere. Like when you see something that reminds you of that person. Or when someone's dying in a movie. Or when you pick up the phone to call them, and realize that you can't. WHAM. You're back on that rollercoaster.

Right now, I have volunteered to get back on the rollercoaster. Because I can't watch CN's family go through all of this without thinking about my dad. And I can't just opt out of being there for him during all of this. Heck, at this stage in my life, I practically have a PhD in Grief. I'm exactly the person who should be with CN right now. He needs me. And as difficult as this is going to be for me, I have to be there for him. It's part of my Official Girlfriend Duties. *salutes*

As we pulled into the hospital last Sunday, I said aloud without thinking, "This is the first time I've been in a hospital since my dad died." WHAM. CN doesn't know this, and I hate to admit it, but part of the reason I didn't go with him on Saturday was because I knew this would happen. I knew all the grief feelings would well up inside me again. And it's a sickening feeling. A helpless feeling. A sad feeling. And I know it's selfish of me, but who wants to sign up for feeling like that? I knew that if I went with him, I'd have to go there. To that painful place, full of tears and emotions and memories. I hate going there.

As we walked up to the room where CN's dad is, all I could think was, "Please don't let there be tubes coming out of his face. Please, no tubes. I can't handle tubes." Thankfully, there where no tubes. And the hospital didn't have that "hospital" smell. Which was a big relief, too. I hate that smell. It smells like sterile cotton pads, mixed with body fluids, cafeteria food and stale air. Seriously, if you work in a hospital, and you are reading this, can y'all buy some damn febreeze or something? Cuz you are just used to it, trust me. It smells like ass where you work.

I did ok during most of the visit, but it definitely had its WHAM moments. The beeping machines. The bags of fluids. It was a lot to take in, without much mental preparation. I did ok on Sunday, but ever since then, it's been a long descent. Back on the rollercoaster. I have been carefully repairing myself these last three years, putting all the grief feelings behind me. It's like I have been building a brick wall, one brick at a time, very slowly. Not that I would ever fully brick it up and close it up. That's impossible. It's with you always. But I had built a wall high enough that it didn't hurt anymore. It was starting to be ok to talk about it. Even feel happy about the time I did have with my dad. I felt ok putting it away. Way back in the long term storage area of my brain. Like a cherished toy from childhood. Not that it's not important to you anymore, but somehow, in a way, you have moved on. Enough time had passed. Life goes on. He's still there, with me, inside my heart. Death is part of life. It has taken me 3 years to get here.

And now, all the wounds are split open again. I get to experience it all, from the beginning stages to the end. Only this time, I am on the outside, mostly. It's like having an out-of-body experience. I am experiencing the same feelings, but in a different way. I know what's going to happen. I know there will be urgent phone calls and moments of hope that will be dashed to pieces. I know there will be lots of crying and exhaustion. I could probably predict every moment right now. But this time, there is a new element. I get to see someone I love very much deal with a whole lot of pain, and there's nothing I can do or say to prepare him for it. I can't stop it. I can't do a whole lot to make him feel better. This time, in addition to feeling my own grief well up inside of me, I have to watch someone I love feel grief for the first time, which is almost as painful, because I can't fully feel what he's feeling. I can only feel a ghost of my own grief. It's like sympathy pains. Kinda.

I know what is coming down the pipe for him and his family. It's like going to the doctor, knowing you are going to have to have a shot. You know it's going to suck, and there's no way out of it. Only with grief, it's like, 1,000 times worse. And I can try to describe it and warn him about it all I want, but I will never be able to. It's something he will have to experience with his family. The most I can do is be by his side. We will ride the roller coaster together.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday, Monday

Well, it's certainly Monday. Let's see. Where should I begin? I think I will ease into it with something funny.

I have told you how my little sister, Smurf, is a horrible driver. Well, despite a year's worth of practice, involving a learner's permit, driver's ed and much practicing with family members, she is no better today than she was the first time she got behind the wheel. Somehow, this did not stop the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles from issuing her a driver's license last month. Do not ask me how on earth she passed the driving test, but she did. So she got her license in mid-July. That was only a few weeks ago. She now has THREE tickets. She got them ALL on the same day: speeding, running a stop sign and driving on the wrong side of the road. "It was only for a second," she told me. "And there was no one else on the road." I told her that apparently, there was someone else on the road. She says she's learned her lesson, but I doubt that will be enough to convince the judge that he should not revoke her driver's license, which is probably what he will do. My poor mother and her insurance rates....yeesh.

This weekend, CN's dad had to go back to the hospital again. "Do you want to go with me to visit him?" CN asked me Saturday morning. I asked CN why he was in the hospital. CN was pretty vague. So I declined because...
1. The request was phrased in a way that made it seem optional.
2. It was my weekend off.
3. The hospital was an hour away.
4. I was having a dinner party that night for my girlfriends, and needed to prepare.
5. When my dad was sick, he was in the hospital a dozen times before things got serious.

By now, you have probably realized that "No" was the wrong answer. Unfortunately, I am not nearly as bright as my readers. Because I should have realized that CN isn't the kind of person who would say, "Look, I am really worried, and I really want you to come with me." Because if he had said that, then yes, I would have dropped everything and gone with him. But I am dense, and he downplays things, which leads to misunderstandings and people being upset. This is not the first time he has downplayed something important, and I was too stupid to figure it out.

By Sunday morning, he was pretty angry with me, and I could tell something was wrong. He told me I had really let him down and that he was really worried about his dad. I instantly felt like a candidate for Worst Girlfriend Ever, apologized and explained my reasoning to him. He agreed that he should have explained things better, and I canceled all my Sunday plans and went down with him to the hospital yesterday.

Not long after we got to the hospital, CN's mom took us to lunch, where she explained that CN's dad had been acting funny lately, which was part of the reason she had put him back in the hospital. She just had a hunch something wasn't right. So the doctor gave CN's dad a MRI (or was it a CT scan?) and we were waiting to hear the results. The doctor called when we got back from lunch. And the news was not good. CN's dad has prostate cancer that has metasticized all over his body. And the MRI showed that he now has lesions in his brain and they are bleeding. So he's being put back on radiation again today. It's not looking so hot. Because the doctors have actually had him on a break from the chemo/radiation treatments because his body can't really handle too much more. So I don't have a good feeling about all of this.

Obviously, I won't be skipping any more hospital visits, either. I am thinking I should maybe quit my Dildo's job, so I will have more free time to go with him to the hospital.

Then, at 2am last night, I was awakened by my roommate, E, again. She and her boyf broke up (again) and so instead of being at his house all the time, she's now at my house all the time. Which would be fine, except for the fact that she has insomnia, so she gets up all through the night, which wakes me up. She has woken me up just about every night for the last 2 weeks. It's getting old.

Anyway, at 2am last night, I awoke to the sound of her giggling. I got up to shut the door to my room, only to realize that there was a 2nd voice -- a man's voice -- giggling with her. In the shower.

"Great," I thought.

I was already upset about CN's dad and I had to get up early this morning for work. So I had a difficult time falling back asleep. I tossed and turned for at least an hour, furious at her inconsideration. When I got up this morning, I noticed that this random guy's car was still outside. This kind of annoyed me. I mean, if you want to hook up with random guys, fine. But do it on the weekend and make sure he's gone by the morning, you know?

I started to get ready for work, and as I'm getting ready, I hear my roommate quietly slip out and leave. That's unusual for her -- she usually asks me if her outfit looks okay every morning. And I didn't hear a man's footsteps following her. Hmmm.

I finished getting ready, trying to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. But when I went to leave, I saw that the random guy's car was still parked outside, and my roommate was gone!

I. Was. Furious.

I threw open the door to her room and woke up Mr. Random.

"You have to leave. Now." I said, fuming.

"Ok," he replied, groggily.

I just stood there, waiting, with my hand on my hip, as he shuffled around, trying to get dressed.

"Let's go! I'm late for work! I'm leaving and you can't be here!" I yelled.

"It's not what it looks like. E and I have known each other for years," he said, trying to explain.

"Yesss," I hissed. "But I don't know who the fuck you are, and this is MY house, so you have to get the fuck out of my house. NOW."

Apparently, I communicated my rage very clearly, because he left the house in nothing but his boxer shorts! He carried the rest of his stuff and didn't even put his shoes on fully! LOL

"Did you see his wiener?" CN asked me later.

"No. And he's lucky, because I would have ripped it off!!!" I replied.

E and I are going to have a loooooong chat this afternoon, when I get home from work.

Wow. I was a total bitch this weekend, huh?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Well, crap.

Ok, remember how I was waiting to hear if I got to teach a class this fall? And if I got to teach the class, I could quit my part time job at Dildo's? And then I wouldn't have to work weekends anymore? Well...

I didn't get a class.

So now, I am stuck at Dildo's. Unless I can find another part time job. One that doesn't suck. I hope it's soon. I am getting really tired of Dildo's. And there's no way I'm working there over the holidays. I have worked retail during the holidays before, and it's a nightmare.

Y'all, I am really bummed about this!!! I guess I got my hopes up. I knew I shouldn't have done that. Because you know what happens when you do that. Counting chickens, etc.

It's not like this is the end of the world, but I'm starting to get really burned out and was really looking forward to having more free time. But now, after paying off about $2,000 in credit card debt, I'm kind of hooked on watching my balances go down, you know? I don't want to quit now. I'm just starting to make a big dent!!! 25% of my credit card debt is GONE. That is a good feeling!!

I can quit whenever I want. Yadda yadda. But it's hard to quit when you want to pay down debt. And it's really nice to have that extra money around when little emergencies come up (example: my car battery died the other day) or when you want to treat yourself to gorgeous handbags*. I can pay for these things without breaking a sweat. Since I have budgeted paying $500-600/month on my credit cards, but my Dildo's job sometimes pays more (because they work me to death), I usually have an extra $100/week to spend on crap. I like buying crap. Crap makes me happy. Not the dammit-will-I-ever-get-to-quit-this-stupid-job crap, but the look-how-freaking-fabulous-my-new-bag-is crap.

Ugh, this is such a blow to my morale. You have no idea how much I have been day dreaming about sleeping in on Saturdays, lazy Sunday afternoons where I read a book on my couch, weekend trips, a clean house, having time to work out again...*sigh*

I guess I will just have to keep my eyes peeled for a better part time job, and maybe cross my fingers that I can teach a class in the spring.

At least now I won't have to worry about whether or not CN and I will take a trip over Labor Day weekend. Dildo's settled it for me: I will get to work extra-long hours that weekend, thanks to our Labor Day sale.

Crap!!!!! This sucks donkey balls!!!!! Please leave me cheery and encouraging comments! I am bummed out!!!

* I have this purse, in a beautiful pearlescent white leather, on hold at Dildo's right now. Thanks to our kick-ass sale going on at the moment, instead of $248, I can buy it for $87. WOOT!

Friday, August 15, 2008

My Little and How Camp Traumatized Me

I was recently matched up with a Little Sis from Big Brothers Big Sisters. YAY!!!

Her name is V. She's 11 and about to start 6th grade. I was really excited to hear that she is this age, because middle school was the most difficult time for me when I was a kid. That's when I was picked on by bullies and when I felt at my most awkward -- glasses AND braces. To make it even worse, I was the first girl in my class to hit puberty. It was a rough time. So I am excited to be there to support her and be someone she can talk to, because I know how mean 12 year olds can be. I'm hoping that I can help her have enough confidence to weather the storm, you know?

She's really nervous to start 6th grade next week. I told her that the first couple of weeks might be a little sticky, but after that, she'll be a pro. Luckily, lockers don't seem to phase her. I, on the other hand, would have daily battles with the lock on my locker throughout my 6-12 grade years. My stubborn locks caused me to be tardy many times. I never did get the hang of combination locks, and I still avoid them to this day. So I was relieved to hear that she found them to be of no concern.

Her concern is more about getting to the right classroom at the right time. I can totally understand. A natural rules follower myself, this was my secondary concern when I was a student. (The first, of course, being those g-d combination locks.) So I told her that the teachers usually give everyone a break for the first week or so, until you get your little routine down. I told her by the third day, she will feel pretty comfy with where things are. She seemed relieved to hear this.

V and her little (biological) sister live with their mom and grandma. They just got a dog who looks like a pit bull mix. Her name is Zoe and she's very sweet. What I think is really cool is that the mom, the younger sister and V are all cloggers. And apparently, pretty good at it -- V just tried out for the competitive team, and she made it! If you are not familiar with this part of the country, you might not know about clogging. It's like....Riverdance. Kinda. But more country-music oriented (IMHO). And there's outfits. Colorful, sequined, knee-length dresses with crinolines that they wear for their recitals and competitions. This is right up my alley -- bring on the girly-girl stuff!! Let me see if I can find a video so you can see clogging in action. It's pretty cool! Take a look at an example:

Other than clogging, V is into Hannah Montana and The Jonas Brothers. So I am rapidly becoming acquainted with this whole pre-teen phenomenon. Apparently, there's a lot of albums and 3-D concerts on the Disney Channel. Oh, and Nick is the hottest Jonas Brother. That's what I've learned so far.

V and I hung out last night. We took Sammy on a walk in her neighborhood and she told me all about camp. She just went to camp for the first time, and she loved it. I was very relieved to hear this, because I. HATED. CAMP. I thought it was the most horrible idea ever, and begged my mother to never ever take me there again. The Czarina, always the penny-pincher, was happy to oblige this request. So aside from one horrible week the summer after 5th grade, I was spared this experience.

Why did I hate camp so much? The main reason was that it seemed everyone brought their best friend with them to camp. I apparently missed this memo and arrived solo at Camp Merri-Mac, which is located near Asheville, NC and is probably a wonderful camp, if you are not 11 year old VB. But I was a naive 11 year old, so when I was being dropped off at camp, I was a ball of excitement, ready to pack my days full of all the fun activities you find at camp.

I remember that all the cabins were named after celestial bodies: moons, stars, planets, etc. I remember getting excited about the fact that my cabin was called "The Milky Way", because that is and always has been my favorite candy bar. "This is a good sign," I thought. So I got to my cabin, greeted by my super nice counselor, Jodie. Jodie, I would find out later, was from Michigan, which at the time seemed as exotic as India to me. (I didn't get out a lot.) The first thing Jodie did was give me a "fun size" Milky Way candy bar. So far, camp ROCKED. I remember thinking, "Ok, Mom, you can go away now!" (Actually, I think this a lot...but anyway.)

After talking with my mom for a minute, Jodie took me inside the cabin and announced my arrival and introduced me to the other girls in my cabin. They all said "Hi" and then went right back to what they were doing. The bliss of summer camp all came to a screeching halt when I realized that all the other girls in my cabin were already paired up, because they had gotten that "bring your best friend or camp will suck donkey balls" memo. And they had no interest in me whatsoever. They were gathered in pairs, talking excitedly as they unpacked. I was being ignored. Not that I am an attention-seeking person, but I was old enough to realize they were intentionally sending me an unfriendly vibe.

Since I was new to the whole camp idea, I had a lot of questions for the other campers. Where do I put my toiletries? What time do we get up in the morning? My questions were met with one word answers. I got the impression that they all just wanted me to leave them alone. And since I was extra-super shy and possessed the self-esteem of a homeless crackhead prostitute at that stage in life, I didn't do anything about it. So I spent the week alone, silent and shunned.

I definitely got a very snooty vibe from the other girls. I remember one of them looking at me with disgust when I told her that I hadn't started shaving my legs yet. I still remember what town she was from: Jupiter, Florida. She had long blonde hair, subscribed to Seventeen and shopped at some mysterious place called "The Gap". She already looked like a teenager. I, on the other hand, still had baby fat and secretly played with Barbies and wore clothes my mother picked out at Stein-Mart. She watched 90210. I watched Disney movies. Forming a picture in your head yet? Yeah, it was kind of sad, really. This Florida Girl was sort of the ring-leader and enabled the snootiness to percolate in the cabin for the entire week. I can still see her face when I close my eyes. Brown eyes, bangs, a turned up nose.

My counselor, Jodie, was extremely nice and I believe, totally clueless about how Florida Girl treated me. I still like the name Jodie because of her. Jodie = fun size Milky Way bars. It's a good association to have.

Anyway, there was only one other girl in the cabin who shared my fate. Her bed was directly under mine. We shared a bunk because we were the only two girls who hadn't arrived with best friends from home. I can't remember her name, either. But I remember she had frizzy brown hair and big red Sally Jessy Raphael glasses. She liked animals and she talked too much. So she was an even bigger dork than I was. She was easy pickings for the snooty group in our cabin. By default, she and I hung out together for the week, despite the fact that I didn't really enjoy her company. But I do remember sticking up for her when someone said something mean about her.

Ah, pre-teen girls.............they are possibly the most evil and cruel group of humans on Earth.

Where was I? Oh yes. The rest of camp was not very memorable. I remember lanyards and archery and swimming and Shepherd's Pie. But mostly, I remember feeling rejected, extremely lonely and homesick. It was the first time I had ever been away from home longer than a night. It was the first time in my life I had no one to talk to or "play" with. (Remember, I am from a big family, so being alone is a foreign concept to me, and very scary, actually.) I remember crying quietly into my pillow, so the mean girls wouldn't hear me and make fun of me. It was horrible!

By mid-week, I was counting down the days until my mother would arrive to pick me up. Finally, she came! I have never loaded my stuff into any vehicle so quickly in my entire life. Then, she and I did the COOLEST thing that almost erased my traumatic week at camp: we stayed in a bed & breakfast in Asheville and went to Biltmore the next day before we drove home to Virginia. I don't think my mom knows how much better this made the whole experience for me. If it hadn't been for that portion of my time in the Asheville, NC area, I would vow never to near that horrible part of the country again.

To this day, I have a tendency to go out of my way to make new people feel welcome, or at least not lonely and shunned. And I also have a tendency to hang out with people who are alone, even if I don't enjoy their company. Weird how things that happen to you in childhood stick with you.

Did you go to camp? Did you like it?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Annivesary Present??

Thanks, everyone, for all the supportive comments (and emails) on my last post. It is really comforting to get some reassurance on that! Every once in a while, my normally great mother turns into a total wack job. Ugh. Mothers.

Anyway, let's move on. I have a dilemma and I need your help. I have two weeks to figure out what to do to celebrate a one year anniversary with CN. Yes, it's been that long. It feels like it's only been 6 months.

The problem is, I am having a rare moment of indecisiveness. At first, we talked about taking a trip somewhere for the weekend (Labor Day weekend is basically our anniversary). We talked about maybe Charleston or Asheville, but it seemed so expensive, so I told CN that we shouldn't do all that.

"Oh, sweetie, that's too expensive. Let's just stay here in town and go out to a nice dinner," I said.

"Ok, how about The Melting Pot? You've always said how much you love it, and I've never been," he said.

"Yes, I do love that restaurant. But it's so expensive. Like, you will drop $100," I replied.

"So?" he said.

Anyway, our plans are kind of up in the air, because I can't decide what I want to do, and CN is basically down for whatever. I really would love to take a weekend trip, but it's expensive and the traffic will be horrendous (it will be on Labor Day weekend). But it would be nice to share an experience like that together. We've been talking about taking a weekend trip somewhere for MONTHS. I guess we could split the cost 50/50 and that would make it simple. And then we wouldn't have to worry about presents for each other.

Staying here just seems kind of...ho hum. And once we are done eating at Melting Pot, that's it. It's over. No photos. No memories. No keepsakes. Just a bloated and sleepy feeling from eating too much (seriously, y'all, I stuff myself SILLY at that place). So I'm not totally loving this idea.

Then there's the problem of what kind of a gift to get. If we do go the Melting Pot route, I need to get him something. Do I get something sentimental, like a photo memory book? Or should I just get a regular gift? I could get tickets to an event for us. Or a conglomerate of small gifts that I know he would like...


You see, about a week ago, I had it all planned out: We were going to do Melting Pot and I was going to give him tickets to a USC football game. This would have been the perfect present because the first time CN and I hung out, we tailgated at a USC game. So it was a gift that is sentimental, something we could do together and it would be a memory-making experience. Bingo!

My friend's dad was the guy with the tickets for sale. He was selling them at face value, which is unheard of. But by the time my friend asked him about the tickets, he had already promised them to someone else. DANG!

So now I'm back to the drawing board. USC tickets are like $100 a piece, if you can find them at all, and that's for the bad seats! So it's a little out of the budget for me.

Do you think I should get/do something that is a joint activity? Something romantic? (Yes, he's the kind of guy who might actually like that sort of thing. I mean, not like flowers. But he's a really sentimental person.) Or should I just get a regular gift and leave it at that?

I have been pouring over, and the Atlanta Falcons website (he's a major fan) all morning. And I've got nada.

Does anyone have any ideas? Have you ever received/given a kick-ass anniversary present? Keep in mind that CN is not into any of the following activities:

playing sports
hard liquor
adrenaline-junkie activities like cliff diving
dressing up (so cuff links are out)

This eliminates like, 80% of the gifts out there. He's basically into beer, Hooters, the Falcons, the Braves, the Gamecocks, his Jeep, music and his Playstation 2. Guys are so hard to shop for!!!! I asked him what he wanted, and do you know what he said? He said he wanted a hooker. I told him no.

I have already gotten him tix to a Falcons game in the past, so that's out. So is an iPod shuffle. And I can't afford one of these, or one of these, even though I know he'd love to get one. Besides, they aren't very romantic, and I'd rather spend that kind of money at Christmas, anyway.

Anyone have any ideas???? At this point, I'm considering going back to the original weekend trip plan, and we split the costs. Hmmmm....... HELP!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Mother of All Lectures

The other day, I got an email from The Czarina. "Call me. I haven't talked to you in a while," it said.

You are thinking, "Oh, that's nice! She misses her daughter. VB, shame on you for not calling your mother!"

I am thinking, "DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!!"

Since you are not her daughter, you wouldn't know that my mother's email message is code for: "Get ready to be lectured. Topic TBA."

So I decided that a good time to call her would be the next day. I wanted to just get it over with. Besides, if I called her in-between leaving my main job and going to my part time job, she could only lecture me for a maximum of 45 minutes. This was good. I would have an excuse to cut it short, if necessary.

Unfortunately for me, the next day was filled with lots of work-related stress here at the library, which I won't get into right now. So by the time I left my main job, I was already frazzled and on edge. I called The Czarina anyway -- again, just wanting to get it over with. I would not rank this decision high on my list of lifetime achievements, let me tell you.

The lecture topic? Why CN and VB Have No Business Dating, Let Alone Ever Get Married.

Not exactly a topic devoid of emotion, at least on my behalf. "Oh Jeez Louise!" I thought. "Not this! Not today! Why did I call her??"

She started with a rather insulting premise: "Now, I like CN. I really do. He is a sweet boy, and he treats you like a queen. And if you were to call me tomorrow and tell me that you two are engaged, I would be so happy for you. But let me just play devil's advocate here by saying..."

What followed was a litany of reasons why she thought he and I are incompatible: I am too domineering (which isn't good, since "the man must run the show"), he doesn't have enough ambition, I haven't had enough serious dating experience, he will be boring...yada yada yada.

Nevermind that:
1. I have never at any time called her to express any doubts about CN. At all.
2. I am nowhere near as domineering as she was towards my father, and they were happily married until the day he died.
3. This isn't 1955.
4. If ambition were important to me, I would never have dated most of the men I've dated over the past 15 years. In fact, all the lawyers and ambitious guys I've dated have either been pompous assholes or incredibly boring. Besides, I don't want someone who is married to his job. Funny, but I would like to see my man at the end of the day.
5. Last I checked, it is not necessary to turn down multiple marriage proposals before accepting the right one. (Mom would feel better if I had "already broken off a few engagements". Because that's a goal to strive for!)
6. CN and I have yet to be bored. Ever. Actually, he and I never lack for fun ideas of things to do together. We like to do all the same things: antiquing, shopping, exercise, reading, travel, etc.

And let's not forget the most important point I would like to make: CN and I have never talked about marriage, proposals or anything closely related to that. We haven't even been dating a year! For Pete's sake, I just got the guy to say the "L" word only about 6 months ago! UGH!

My mother is INSANE. The whole time she was rambling on and on, all I could think was that she was grasping at straws, looking for reasons to say why I was making The Biggest Mistake of My Life and totally wasting my time. There were moments when I honestly felt like she was just simply making shit up!

Of course, the realization that she is totally bonkers was overshadowed by the following thoughts inside my brain: "OMG what if she's right? What if she's totally wrong? How dare she say all of this, when she hardly knows him!! Why is she saying all of this, when I've never once come to her with complaints or concerns about my relationship? I am not feeling quite as concerned about all of this as she seems to be. But maybe I should be. After all, she has a 28 year marriage under her belt. I don't."

Fighting the urge to plead with her about why she seems to be interested in making me miserable, I tried to keep an open mind and remember that The Czarina has a tendency to think that

1. I am her mini-me. Which is simply not the case.
2. I am a moron who cannot think for herself. Thank God I have my mother to think for me!
3. Everything is more important than it actually is. (Can you say "high strung"?)
4. It is 1955.

So with my head spinning, I managed to get off the phone before I burst into tears. I was totally confused, not to mention upset that she looks at CN and sees flaws. But I have never been happier in my whole life than I have with CN. When I think about the future with him, I get butterflies, not worry or dread. I really don't have any major concerns, and I can't imagine him not being in my life. Besides, we haven't even talked marriage yet. But I trust my mother's judgement. She is, and I hate to admit it most of the time, almost always right.

I had to make sense of this. So that evening, I did a lot of thinking. And since I was stressed out and upset, I did what always makes me feel better: I talked to CN. I guess maybe I shouldn't have brought up that whole conversation with CN of all people, but my poker face leaves something to be desired. He could tell I was upset about more than just work that day. So he dragged it out of me. I told him about what The Czarina said and told him that I was confused and didn't know if these were her issues or if they were my issues. He was upset because he felt like The Czarina hates him. (And I can totally see why....which makes me feel really badly about bringing it all up...) He's also afraid that he's not what I'm looking for. As soon as he said that, I knew something didn't feel right. The Czarina's concerns just didn't sit well with me. They weren't meshing. The whole time she was talking, I never once thought, "That's a good point...I have actually been worried about that myself." All I could think was, "I'm not really getting where she's going with this."

I know it sounds stupid, but maybe it's a daughter thing. Or an oldest child thing. But even at my age, I crave my mother's approval and trust her completely. And you'd think that after moving away, going to grad school, buying a house and being financially independent, I would learn to trust myself a little more. But one lecture from my mother can make me doubt myself totally and without question. She could make me doubt that the sun rises every morning.

Luckily, as I have aged, there has been a little voice in the back of my head. It says, "You cannot live your life for your mother. You have to live it for yourself. Only you know what is best for you."

And the voice was there. And I listened to it. I am not exaggerating when I say this might be the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my whole life. Just trust myself. Believe in myself. Such a simple concept, right? But so terrifying.

If there were a resume for this sort of thing, it would be impressive. I listened to no one when getting my dog. I adore him. I picked out my house without the help of anyone else. I didn't even get a 2nd opinion before signing on the dotted line, and I have loved every minute of it. When I graduated college, it was my idea to try teaching school. It ended up being the only job I've ever loved. These were all big decisions and I was perfectly happy with all of them. It's so easy to forget that I've already done a good job in this department.

My mother was just crazy, that was all. I could ignore her. Nod and smile. Nod and smile. Cut the phone calls short. I can do that.

But why on earth was she doing this in the first place? Most of the time, our phone calls are jovial and relaxed. We talk about decorating or books or travel or our family. We trade exercise tips. But every once in a while, The Czarina will call me and I swear it's like her whole goal is to remind me of how I am screwing up my life! And it makes me hate her!

It wasn't until the next day that I had an epiphany. I realized there was a pattern to these horrible lectures. They tended to happen after I hadn't talked to her in a while. I used to be better about calling her once a week, and if I did call more often, the lectures would either be very mild or totally absent from the conversation. I don't get the lectures when I go home to visit her.

It seems that I get the lectures when too much time passes. It's like she sits and stews and thinks up all these things to advise me about. But by the time we talk, she's about to boil over, so it all comes gushing out: wrong boyfriend, wrong job, wrong diet, wrong name it!
And since my dad passed away, the lectures have gotten worse. They are more frequent and longer.

Which leads me to my conclusion: When I don't call, it makes her feel like I don't need her anymore, which scares her. This causes her to grasp at straws, trying to think up reasons why I might need her. So she starts to make mental lists of things I am probably not thinking about or doing correctly, and then dumps them all on me at the next phone call. And now that Dad is gone, too, she has even fewer people to lecture, which is why she's been lecturing me more often.

After 29 years, I finally figured it out.

Some people are amazed and even heartbroken to hear how far away I live from my mother. But after phone calls like this, I want to move to a remote region of Siberia. And have no telephone.