Thursday, May 31, 2012

Waiting, waiting, waiting....

Have been waiting on phone calls all day. I wish people would tell me exactly when they're going to call and then call at that time instead of "after" or "around" a time. That makes me end up sitting here miffed because I could have been doing something else but they're the one who wanted to talk to me and asked me to be available. Really not in the mood for this right now....

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Leave the bear alone you hillbillies!!

All day I have been listening to the local police scanner. I keep it on because if there's an emergency that isn't being broadcast on the local news channels, I can usually get some information from the scanner. Plus after years of having worked as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and disaster preparedness/response person, I'm just addicted to it.

So today's noteworthy broadcasts have been about a small black bear that has wandered into town. It's not hurt anyone; it's not gone into the residential areas; and it's trying to find its way back to the woods. At first someone thought it was a dog when it was near a residential area but it stayed over by the local airport (not an overly busy one). It has been wandering around and I'm not worried about it coming over into the area where I live because it would have to cross a large Interstate highway plus the busy traffic at the intersection that crosses over it. The state conservation agents have been working with the county law enforcement to track the bear and make sure that it keeps heading towards the woods.

Sadly, though, all the yokels in town have been coming out in droves to see it -- especially after the story was aired on the local news. Now the police are being called by the businesses in the area next to the Interstate highway because people keep trying to get closer and closer to the bear so they can take pictures of it. Some have brought their dogs with them, like the conservation agents need that little bit of "help" with a bear that really doesn't want to be where it is in the first place.

Right now it's up a tree next to the local Pizza Hut. It wanders between one of the banks, the Pizza Hut, a furniture store, and a Captain D's restaurant. I'm sure it smells plenty of trash from that area it would love to eat. Hopefully the conservation and law enforcement agents will get rid of the crowd before the bear hurts itself. The poor thing just wants to get back to its home (with a snack to-go if it can grab one).

Here's an idea -- if you want to see a close-up photo of a bear, pick up a book! If you want to see a bear in person, go to a zoo! If you see a bear in the wild, then lucky you -- but for cryin' out loud, stop trying to get in its way! least now there's something else to listen to. Some drunken fool is chugging a Mountain Dew and whiskey outside a local grocery store and has pushed carts into the major 4-way intersection of town. Now that sounds more like an average night.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A nice, uneventful day

Today I'm very thankful for a day without too much happening. It's been very stressful since this time last week and I'd like for the stress to remain at bay.

Of course, I have my appointment with my therapist tomorrow, so we'll have to see how that goes. And I've got more questions to answer in regards to my ERO case that I've filed.

Hopefully Youngest Son will have learned a little something over the past week so that I can maybe give him a privilege back. Never give it all back at once. I make my kids earn them since they're the one who did something stupid enough to lose it.

So, off early to bed tonight. If we get thunderstorms again like last night, I just hope they don't wake me up again. It was nice to know that it rained last night but I could have waited until the morning to see the wet ground and been just as happy.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day -- You're doing it wrong!

On this Memorial Day, we sit out on our decks and party. Three days we've got off from work with burgers on the barbie. But if you take a moment to reflect, away from your party scene, the radio will remind you what this day truly means.

It's time to save, I said SAVE, on a waterbed! It's time to buy a great mattress at an even greater price! I've got two words for you -- It's "Tire Sale!" We've got rock-bottom prices and the time is running out!

You've got one full year, that's right -- one full year! No interest! No payments! This could be the Memorial Day Weekend you enjoy for years!

Oh, yeah, and something about guys who died for our country..... (-- "Memorial Day" parody by Heywood Banks)

Sadly, that song which was written as a joke to show just how out-of-touch we are with what Memorial Day really means is truer than you think.

I've seen and heard lots of people talking about their holiday weekend. The "fact" that it's the first weekend of summer. About how much they've enjoyed their mini-family vacations and days spent on the lake or fishing or perfecting their barbeque techniques. I've also seen a lot of people posting photos/cartoons and statements thanking veterans for their service.

Memorial Day is not the day we say "thank you" to our veterans. EVERY DAY should be a day we say "thank you" to our veterans. But for those who can't be bothered to do that every day you see someone in uniform or someone wearing a hat or jacket showing they were one who promised to put their life on the line for our country, then at least say "thank you" on Veterans' Day (11 November).

Memorial Day is when we should stop what we're doing and remember that it's the day set aside to say "thank you" to those veterans we CAN'T thank in person anymore. They gave the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefields, wherever they were. And we remember those veterans who have passed-on and the service they so proudly gave to our country.

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and was started by Major General John A. Logan from Southern Illinois and the GAR, the Grand Army of the Republic. The GAR was an organization of Union veterans. Three years after the Civil War, in 1868, he said that on May 30th all the graves of our war dead should be decorated with flowers (which would be in bloom across the country at that time). In his orders, he stated:

We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. ... Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

This was done because in many areas immediately following the Civil War, only those of either Union or Confederate forces were being remembered and the graves of the "enemy" were falling into neglect. One of the first records of equal decorations came in 1866 when women visiting the sites of the Confederate dead from the Battle of Shiloh near Columbus, Mississippi, noticed the graves of Union casualties being ignored and desecrated because they were they "enemy." Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the ladies placed flowers there as well.

Many Union or Confederate Decoration Day ceremonies are still held every year. Memorial Day, however, was made a Federal holiday by an act of Congress in 1971 and the last Monday in May was selected as the date in order to be fairly consistent with the orders given by Maj. Gen. Logan as well as coinciding with the local/regional celebrations that had been occurring since.

Every grave in every national cemetery will have an American flag placed upon it today. Some are placed by soldiers, some by civic groups such as the Boy and Girl Scouts. Many family members will also decorate the graves of their loved ones in national, state, and private cemeteries. Speeches will be made and politicians will "pay tribute" across the country today. But it shouldn't be just them making an effort. And it shouldn't be just the veterans who were able to come home to their country and families and who live with the memories of how their comrades gave the ultimate sacrifice. It should be all of us -- every single person who enjoys the freedom for which those brave men and women laid-down their lives.

It's not about the sales; it's not about the picnics; it's not about a day off with or without pay. It's about gratitude; it's about honor; it's about those we can never say "thank you" personally to again.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

How bored am I today??

Got a chance to sleep-in a bit this morning. Mostly because I forgot to set my alarm and Celeste realized I was sleeping soundly and didn't want to wake me. Sadly, that made me late for taking my medication. Oh, it wasn't so late that it made me ill or have a bad reaction -- it just meant that the time I would be zonked-out because of the side-effects would be much later in the morning and could have screwed up my schedule for the day.

But then I remembered, I didn't have a schedule for today. Laundry was done by Husband (THANK YOU!) and the dogs and cat were watered and fed this morning by Youngest Son.

So, what have I done today? Sadly, I've sat and watched a marathon of The Pink Panther, Return of the Pink Panther, and Revenge of the Pink Panther. If I wanted to, I could switch the channel at the moment and watch A Shot in the Dark -- the funniest of all of the "Pink Panther/Inspector Clouseau" movies. Actually, my favorite characters are Cato and Inspector Dreyfus. Burt Kwuok was hysterical and Herbert Lom perfected the nervous tic that showed just how insane Clouseau made Dreyfus.

I remember watching the early "Pink Panther" movies on television (since I wasn't born when they were made) but the later ones I remember going to see in the theater. Of course, as a kid, I thought the slapstick was hysterical. Now that I'm much older, the same things don't make me laugh but I still get a big chuckle out of the jokes I didn't understand years ago.

Classic movies are the ones that can stand the test of time. I worry, though, that these classics will soon be removed from the "classic bin" because many people today would not get the jokes and/or cultural/current event references made in them.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Best of all he (Odin) liked to sleep. Sleeping was a very important activity for him. He liked to sleep for longish periods, great swathes of time. Merely sleeping overnight was not taking the business seriously. He enjoyed a good night's sleep and wouldn't miss one for the world, but found it as anything halfway near enough. He liked to be asleep by half-past eleven in the morning if possible, and if that should come directly after a nice leisurely lie-in then so much the better. A little light breakfast and a quick trip to the bathroom while fresh linen was applied to his bed is really all the activity he liked to undertake, and he took care that it didn't jaunt the sleepiness out of him and disturb his afternoon of napping. Sometimes he was able to spend an entire week asleep, and this he regarded as a good snooze. He had also slept through the whole of 1986 and hadn't missed it. - Douglas Adams, The Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

It's a long weekend and I've enjoyed quite a nice, long nap today. I have to sincerely thank Husband and Youngest Son for allowing me to sleep-in this morning. Well, when I say "sleep-in" I mean that I did get up at my usual time to take my medications and let the dogs go outside for "walkies." But, while they went to yard sales I was allowed to crawl back into bed and sleep away a lot of the stresses from this past week. I don't usually do that, but today it was imperative that I do so. Plus, weird dreams when I'm stressed-out happen and if only I could have filmed it. I would have made a great B-movie (or even worse).

Friday, May 25, 2012

Towel and Star Wars Day -- Celebrate both!

No new news on the job front. My Cadre Manager was supposed to get back in touch with my ERO counselor but that didn't happen. I have been given lots of really good advice and had friends recommend a lot of options. I'm keeping everything open at the moment. I'll continue fighting for what's best for my family and me.

So, since there's really nothing new, I'll just wish everyone a Happy Towel Day and Happy Star Wars Day. Towel Day is for fans of Douglas Adams and his "Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy" (all six books) and in memory of his death on this date in 2001. Star Wars Day marks the anniversary of the premiere of Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope in 1977. 35 years, I feel old.

I've lost track of how many times I've read Douglas' books (not just the H2G2 series) as well as listened to the radio shows, audiobooks, and watched the movies. Douglas Adams also worked on episodes of Doctor Who and Monty Python's Flying Circus. You can tell I'm a big fan, huh?

I've lost track of how many times I've seen the original trilogy of Star Wars. I even have the theatrical releases on DVD because I can't stand watching all of the added on stuff from 1997. I remember seeing the movies in the theater, when that was the only option, and then recording them off HBO onto our Betamax player (yes, I really am that old) and watching them every day after school.

Hey, when your dad is the principal of your school, you don't hang out with a lot of people, and you're focused on keeping your grades high you find yourself as one of the biggest geeks doing what geeks do best -- reciting movie lines. After I'd seen each of the original three over 500 times each, I quit counting. I still have no idea how many times I've seen them all. In college I could win bets by having people play a part of the soundtrack and begin to act and recite the exact scene just based on the music! Okay, it was only good for winning bar bets and has never helped me in any sort of career, but it was fun all the same!

So all you hoopy froods, get your towels and grab a bottle of Old Janx Spirit (from H2G2 or SW, your choice) and head out to Millyways!
Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all. -- Douglas Adams

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Can we say "discrimination?" I thought we could!

*Insert loud screaming in frustration noise here*

Well, I just heard from my Equal Rights counselor regarding my long "quest" to find out why I wasn't reappointed to my job and to try to get it back. I still have another phone call coming from her when she receives the message of whether or not the person she is dealing with has the right to reappoint me or not. At the moment, however, I couldn't give crap one if they try to reappoint me to my old position. There's no way I could possibly stand to work for these people after what I was just told they said about me and my disability!

So, quick rundown before I have to go grab another Xanax. The main Equal Rights Officer I worked with last year to get my reasonable accommodations to have Celeste come to work with me stated that I had proven that I had a disability and with all the letters from therapists, doctors, co-workers, and the trainer of my service dog that I had proven the need and should be allowed to bring her with me. My assistant Cadre Manager signed-off on all of the paperwork and sent me a memo stating how in the future I was to notify her when I was deploying with Celeste and the rules/regulations that I would have to follow for having her in our field offices. Basic stuff, all approved, all signed, and copies (both physical and electronic) are saved for my records.

Then, the counselor contacted my Cadre Manager and his assistant to speak with them on why I wasn't reappointed to my job. He stated that he'd heard my name but didn't know who I was. He also stated that he knew that there were issues last year with me bringing Celeste and problems at the office (which there weren't any from her, just from others who wanted to pet and play with her) and that she was not a "service animal" but was a "comfort dog." Really?? Since when did he become so educated on what constitutes the difference between a SD (service dog) and an ESA (emotional support animal)?? And this is a man I've only ever spoken to once since I started working for him in 2009 because he never returned my emails or phone calls and I always had to go through his assistant.

And speaking of his assistant, she was very quiet throughout the interview. I have her signature approving my request for reasonable accommodation but she told the counselor that all of that was handled at headquarters by the ERO officers.

I was right!! They were discriminating against me when they didn't reappoint me. The Cadre Manager stated that my "comfort dog" would cause a problem and I couldn't be deployed or retained because of it. Also, he said that he had to drastically reduce the number of people he had employed but he only released two people in my section. I guess all of the people who I trained last year will be able to go on to have full employment and success now.

I'm not expecting to get my job back because he said he'd be happy to write a letter of recommendation for me (which was the easy-out option given if they weren't going to keep me) and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't want me back anyway now that I know what I know. But, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

I'm shocked. I'm flabbergasted. I can't believe that someone would be so bold to basically state outright that my disability is the reason they didn't keep me -- especially since this is a FEDERAL position and there are FEDERAL laws to protect the disabled.

You can be sure I'll keep things updated as more info comes in. However, for anyone who thought I was just uselessly chasing a dream, I'm not upset and I'm not going to dance around with my tongue sticking out and my fingers in my ears saying "I'm right and you were wrong!" I've always had a tenacity to grab hold of something and see it all the way through to the end, regardless if I'm right or I'm wrong. I'm glad that I have that now because I have proof that I was right this time. And anyone who feels that they've been wronged should be brave enough to stand-up for what they believe in and fight for what is right. I hope I've been a good example.

Now I need to try to relax before I pop a vein in my head. That would kind of make going on to a formal complaint process difficult.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Accepting suggestions on "training" a teenager!

Again! I can't believe I have to go through this crap again! The kid is 13 years freakin' old -- how much longer will it last???

I had to go to an appointment today. Usually I can trust Youngest Son to be on his best behavior (or something like it) while I'm out for a little while. I come back and what do I find? I find one of the premiere rules of the house broken and him lying to me about it.

We have a very strict rule about the computer. Because of the questionable content out there and the threat of viruses, worms, and Trojans, we do not allow our children to access the computer unless we're with them or we give them a five-minute window to check email or Facebook. We did it that way with Eldest Son and we're doing it that way with Youngest Son. Even though he has a computer in his room, there is no Internet access to it (not even Wi-Fi) and he's not allowed to turn it on without our permission. I have a special key that allows Internet to be connected if he needs to work on a homework assignment but either Husband or me is in the room with him while he's online. Usually, though, he wants to use our main household computer (from which I also run my online business) because it's newer, faster, and has more programs. Again, though, he must be supervised while using it.

I was gone for an hour and came back to find that not only had he been on the computer when I was gone and without permission, he'd also accessed the Internet and even looked into the history folder for our web browser. That threw up red flags all over the place because he could have been to a site we don't allow and deleted the information. So, I asked him what happened while I was gone.

Nothing. He gave me the standard teenager shrug of the shoulders and a monotone "I don't know" as an answer. I started listing the items he has privileges to use and/or owns and which ones he would be losing as he continued to feign an inability to recall anything he may or may not have done over the hour that I was away from home. Finally he said he looked at the history to see if we had bought him a birthday present online.

He must think I have "stupid" written on my face because I don't believe that for a moment. And I told him that as well. His birthday is over a month away and I certainly wouldn't purchase anything this far in advance, mostly because I never know when he's going to pull a stunt like this and end up grounded again.

A couple of years ago he took something of mine and lied about it. I could prove that he did it and even showed him the evidence. He continued to lie and for over half and hour he lied and lied until he realized that he was just digging himself a deeper hole of punishments. And every time he continued to lie or did something else against the rules, we just added the time for that infraction onto what he'd already earned. The kid was grounded for about six months! You'd think he'd have figured it out by now that we, his parents, are much smarter than he is and will find out when he does something wrong (especially since he's not good at covering his tracks) and that just admitting to what he did and apologizing would get him in far less trouble than lying about it.

I don't know what to do. Seriously. This keeps happening over and over and over and I'm sick to death of it. Right now his "privileges" are to eat, sleep, use the bathroom, do his household and yard chores, and practice his trumpet. He can read while he's in his room (he's got LOTS of books on many subjects). But there will be no television, video games, computer, MP3, cell phone, telephone, texting, or going out unless it's to walk the dog or we're all going somewhere together.

This is my first summer home in years. Usually I'm deployed away to work a disaster and I've missed being able to just spend free time with him. No schedules; no worries about work or him having to go to school. He's only been out of school three days and he can't keep it together! I really worry about him in the future.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

About what do my dogs dream?

Yes, I noticed that I made sure my title was grammatically correct. OCD has checked-in for the night!

Anyway, I do wonder what goes through my dogs' brains when they're dreaming. I can look over at the cat who is sound asleep at the moment and she never moves until she wakes up. However, I can watch either Celeste or Harley and sooner or later they'll start to run in their sleep, snore loudly, or sometimes even bark as if they're trying to say something.

Celeste is five years old and has had a lot of experiences with and without me. She was a show dog and has traveled around the country and also worked as a service dog for a lady in a wheelchair (who sadly didn't know how to care for her even though she'd had service dogs before). So, I could see some memories coming back to her mind and perhaps she sees things she remembers.

Harley, on the other hand, has been with us since she was nine months old. She was abandoned and raised for a month at a farm before they took her to the local Humane Society because they couldn't afford to keep another abandoned dog. She's been on trips with us (vehicle only, no planes yet) and has romped around in the yard or at a dog park. Most of her time she's comfortable on the couch and when given the opportunity will watch car races or other dogs running on television. Harley also lived here with my service dog Cody who passed away in 2010. She was there when he died. She also has a lot of his habits and mannerisms because he made sure that he taught her how to act and didn't let her get too out of control.

Cody would snore loudly and run when sleeping too -- but he only came to live with us when he was much older. He had been a puppy mill breeder dog that had been abandoned on the side of the Interstate when he'd gotten to old to make the owners more money. We took him in and even though he had no idea how to play or act like a normal dog, he learned commands quickly and was eager to please because he loved being loved by someone instead of just ignored. And he still had the gumption to put the cat in her place when he came to live with us and she wouldn't shut up one night. He just closed her mouth with his and looked at her as if to say, "See? Quiet is better."

When Cody would snore loudly and move as if he was running when he was asleep, I could always imagine that he was reliving something that had happened before we had him. Maybe it was running away from the handlers at the puppy mill. Maybe it was finally running free when they first got rid of him before he began to struggle to find food and water in the sweltering heat of the summer. I would always hope that his dreams would include meeting us and enjoying a nice walk or just being cuddled.

I'm watching Harley's legs move while she's asleep as if she's running for her life. Maybe there's a rabbit or a squirrel in her dream? She loves to chase them in the yard, though I don't think she'd have any idea what to do with one if she caught it. She's running and running and you can hear her snorting loudly with every "step" she takes. Whatever it is, she's either thoroughly enjoying it or making damned sure that she gets away from whatever she doesn't like.

I know humans put too much emotion into our pets. We talk to them as if they're people and try to read their facial expressions and actions like we do non-verbal communications from other humans. But I think it would be fun if we could see about what our dogs are dreaming. Finally catching the ball; scaring a flock of birds; or maybe just laying on the couch getting their tummy rubbed. Anything could be a fascinating dream for them.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Not in the mood again....

*sigh* Just not in the mood to post anything. Have been on the computer all day trying to post items on eBay and still have a lot more to do tomorrow for my business' website.

My eyes are exhausted, my brain is frazzled, and my emotions are depressed. I even polled the voices in my head and they came up with a unanimous "I got nuthin' today" answer.

Oh well, better short and staying on schedule than not posting and freaking-out about it all night.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Stupid clouds....

Today there is to be a solar eclipse. I remember the last one that we could see from this area back in 1994. I was still in college then and there was a big viewing party down by the science building. It was great and everyone enjoyed it.

Now, all of the clouds that were supposed to be around during last week that didn't come all decided to show-up today. I was hoping that Youngest Son would get a chance to see the eclipse since it will be his first.

Then again, when it gets all dim and gloomy outside on a hot day like today, it just makes ya' want to take a nap. Which I've been doing with great success today.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tired today....

LONG day.... Took Harley to have her yearly "shearing" at the groomer. She grows so much hair during the winter you could almost make enough wigs/toupees for those little hairless dogs. Then they wouldn't get so cold all the time. We also went to our favorite gaming store and sold them a few items for store credit. Just some old books that we didn't like but that their customers will love buying. And the credit can stay there until the next Warhammer 40K tournament or when we need to buy something for someone's birthday, etc.

Also started shopping for a new phone since mine is having battery issues. I first went to a store run by the company with whom I have my service. They said that they don't make stupidphones anymore. I said that I knew he was lying because (1) I'd seen an ad for one and (2) there were some hanging on the wall in the store. He, of course, wanted to show me every smartphone in the place but I told him I wasn't going to pay a bunch more per month for the privilege of having a phone that can do a lot of things I can't afford for it to do nor would I use it for them. I guess I should have also taken a photo (the one "fancy" thing my stupidphone can do) of all of the basic phones we saw at a large electronics retailer in town as well. And if I wanted a smartphone I could get it there for even less than the service company was advertising! But, no, I did not replace my beloved stupidphone.

When Harley's grooming appointment was over, we went to pick her up and I asked the groomer to grind Celeste's nails so that I won't have to clip them for a bit. Celeste was a show dog before she became a service dog but you would have thought that no one had ever touched her feet before when she started trying to escape from the groomer. Fortunately, the lady had a great attitude and just chased her around the grooming table, keeping one paw in her hand at all times, and got it done. Another of the ladies working there asked me if she could know why I have Celeste and when I told her she was thrilled to hear someone else has a service dog for psychiatric issues. I gave her my name and number and the name and number of Celeste's breeder/trainer because the lady and her husband are trying to get a service dog for him to use. I wish them the best of luck because I know that Celeste has helped me more than I could have imagined!

Hopefully tomorrow will be relaxing. I know Husband can use a nice relaxing day after working hard all week. And Youngest Son is now home from school so I'll find plenty of chores/activities for him to complete!

Friday, May 18, 2012

End of the Junior High Era

Today was Youngest Son's last day in junior high. Next year he'll be a freshman. Lord help us all.

I'm incredibly proud of him and am very, very happy that he's had some great experiences and made new friends since we moved to this town three years ago. He's been in three school theatre productions; he's participated in All-District Honors Band (was first-chair trumpet, too); attended the State Band Contest; has made the honor roll; and has a gang of friends that he really enjoys hanging-out with and who enjoy having him with them. As a kid who moved from school-to-school, I know it can be hard to fit-in when you're the new kid on the block. Youngest Son learned a lot more at a faster pace when he was homeschooled, but I agree with him that his past three years in public school have helped him grow in many different ways.

I'm especially proud of him as he has received the President's Education Awards Program Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence. To qualify for it, he had to have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or more over his junior high career and test above the average and rank in the top of the State's Assessment Program that's given every year. He received a very nice certificate and a lapel pin that he can put on his jacket when he goes to high school. He pointed out the "autograph" of President Obama on the certificate and I told him that an auto-pen did that. He said he was surprised they just didn't Xerox it and is not impressed by it. He was actually disappointed because he didn't receive a plaque for best brass student in band and was awarded for his academics. I reminded him that it will be his academics that helps him get into the college he wants and will follow him through life. A plaque won by your "nemesis" whose parents can afford for him to take private lessons in order to be better than Youngest Son will only someday be an unwieldy paperweight that your children won't even be able to get rid of in a yard sale.

I think he feels a lot better now. And he enjoyed his last day there. No, he didn't participate with one group that wore the colorful Morph Suits that everyone was buying around Halloween and at least he wasn't dared like one of his other friends to come dressed like a princess today. He made sure he had phone/text numbers for his friends so they can get together over the summer before high school band camp starts in July.

Eldest Son texted me today that he's learned how to weld in his sculpture class in college. I told him I was proud and that the welding experience can also be used in other jobs as well. He hopes to finish his classes soon so that he can graduate in the next semester or two.

One going into high school and one leaving college soon....where does the time go?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

We'll see what happens now....

Today I got a call from an EEO/ERO person regarding my previous "quest" to find out why I'd not been reappointed to my employment position. She asked a lot of questions; I gave a lot of answers; I forwarded a LOT of emails; and she said she'd be making some phone calls and would get back in touch with me.

I have no idea if it's really going to make a difference or not. This has been such a stupid thing that I almost don't care which way it turns out. But, note that I said "almost" in that last sentence. I'm still very proud of the work I did with that agency and believe that I still have/had many years left to help others.

If nothing else, it gives me one more step towards closure. Who knows what will happen?

Just my typical Type-A/OCD self -- have to see it through all the way to the end regardless of the outcome.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Am I paying for this???

Today I had another therapist appointment. She began the session by trying to tell me about Jay Leno on the "Tonight Show" last night and how she really liked this "black female comedian who must be new." I mentioned the name Wanda Sykes and she said, "Yeah! That's her!" I began to list a number of television shows, movies, and voiceovers she'd done before and my therapist still had no idea who she is but thinks she's the funniest person she's heard in a long time. I agree, Ms. Sykes is funny. But then my therapist attempted to recount the entire conversation and all of the jokes between Jay and Wanda, but she couldn't remember all of the bits.

She sat there trying to tell me jokes and repeat what had made her laugh so hard but couldn't remember all of the punchlines or even some of the stories. What she did tell me didn't make any sense at all.

Then she began to tell me the story of how her dachshund had escaped from her house when a friend was dog-sitting and the very intricate details of how turkey hunters and neighbors (she lives in the country, so "neighbor" means "lives within a mile of you") had seen the dog but weren't able to catch it. On and on the story went and she was stunned that the dog had been gone for 15 days and had survived. The vet says it has tapeworms now because it was probably eating rabbits while it was away. She couldn't believe that her dog, a pampered pet, could kill something.

I reminded her that dachshunds were bred for hunting and ratting. They're low to the ground and have short legs so they can follow their prey into the burrows. And, most importantly, that it's a dog and when hunger sets in it's not going to debate over whether or not the food comes from a can or hole in the ground. It will go back to its nature and hunt, especially if it's a breed originally designed for that.

She kept on-and-on about how shocking it was and could I possibly believe that her dog (which I've never met) could do something like that and then, oh by the way, did I know that her pig was getting bigger? I had to stop for a second and ask her to repeat herself. She was telling me that the small piglet she'd been bringing into the office because its mother had stepped on it and it had a large wound that needed to be cared for was doing much better and is getting bigger. She also asked me what she should do with such a large animal. She's raised pigs before, so she knows that sows can become VERY large. I suggested that she make it a banquet centerpiece but she said there was no way she could eat it. She might consider breeding it but she doesn't know what to do with such a large animal.'s a fun fact -- if you breed a very large animal, its young will also become very large animals!! If you think you don't have room for one now, having a bunch of others isn't going to help your space issues!!

I was about to ask, "Am I paying for this time?" when she finally asked me a question about how I was doing. I asked if she was telling me these disjointed tales as an example of what it's like to talk to me and she said that she didn't realize she'd talked so much. She then asked me why I'm not writing a novel and wanted to know more details from some of the posts that the voices have been writing and suggested I take them and write a book with them.

Yeah....people really want to read the Great American Novel about a plain kid with a dysfunctional family who's bat-shit crazy. Sure, it will be the top of the bestseller list in the category of "Most purchased for use in lighting fires" or "Most purchased as cheaper alternative to toilet paper."

So, my one-hour session didn't quite last that long today but at least it gave me subject matter about which to post tonight. I was too depressed to type much today anyway and still am. However, the goal of having a post every day is intact. My OCD is still sated for another 24 hours.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Seeing crooked....

Hate it when it's incredibly hot outside. Hate it even more when I don't realize that it's going to be very hot outside and accidentally wear dark-colored clothes which just help absorb the heat that my black car doesn't take from the sun. Fortunately, with Husband driving, I can either crank-up the air conditioning or hang my head out of the window. Celeste doesn't hang her head out the window like other dogs and prefers the air conditioning (and not having to see her "mommy" looking like an idiot).

Today I had to travel across the state again for my eyes. This time I was there for low-vision occupational therapy.

Yeah, I was like you. "How do you do visual occupational therapy?" was the first thing through my head when I heard about it. Actually, they have you try to read a lot of different items in many different sizes, try-out different types of light sources, determine how much functional vision you have, and make more suggestions on how to improve or adapt your current vision to what you need.

Unfortunately, there's not much they can do for me regarding my night blindness and decreased vision when driving. That's just something that I'm going to have to learn to live without even though I prefer being an independent person. Relying on someone to take me places just drives me crazy and I hate having to bum a ride from friends. I'm very thankful that Husband understands what's going on and isn't bothered by taking me places at night (well, not yet at least).

Fortunately with my desktop computer I have a large monitor and it makes it easier to see. When I'm on my laptop, I can increase the print size and make things easier to read. They showed me a special flourescent lamp that has a nice blue-tinted light that is very even and doesn't have a "hot spot" like an old incandescent bulb has. When we tried a regular desk lamp and one of the flourescent lamps, I was able to read much more and even smaller print with the flourescent one. It's not up to 20/20, but it's better. Now I've got to find some to put in the house so that I can enjoy reading my books like I used to. I can still apply for audiobooks through the state's library for the blind, but I hate having to listen to them and not being able to start and stop when I want like I can in a printed book. Some have suggested an E-Reader, but I prefer the feel and smell of a good old-fashioned book.

What surprised me the most today though was how the therapist helped me find a "sweet spot" in my vision. She noticed when I was having difficulty viewing certain items that I would shift it until I could read it more clearly or I would shift my eyes rapidly as if searching for something. I've always had issues with that. I would use my right eye for reading and seeing up close and my left eye for distance viewing. Anything in the middle is a toss-up. The therapist had me look at her face (focusing on the center of her nose) and describe what I could see. I knew she had hair, eyes, a nose, cheekbones, and a mouth. She asked me to describe what I saw and it was all there but blurry. She then pointed at different places along the sides of her face and asked me to focus there and tell her what I saw. There was one place where her eyes disappeared; another where everything was so blurry if I hadn't already seen her I wouldn't be able to tell where some features were.

And then, it happened. She pointed at a spot to the left of her eyes, causing my eyes to shift to the right. Suddenly, not only could I see her face but I could also see the color of her eyes and the darker ring around the outside of her irises which I'd never noticed before. We couldn't pinpoint whether it was my right eye, my left eye, or both working together that made the difference, but just shifting my vision about four inches to the right made things so much better.

She gave me a bunch of worksheets with practice lessons to help train me to look at things "crooked" so that I'm using the "sweet spot" of my vision. She also showed me with a light meter how much I need to be able to see more clearly and we tried different light sources again. The blueish flourescent lamp was the brightest and now I've got to find somewhere that sells them. I want floor models in the living room & bedroom and a desk version I can move about the house and take with me if I'm gone with work or on a trip.

I'll be going back for another session sometime in the near future. I have to look at Youngest Son's schedule for the summer since he wants to get a class out-of-the-way this summer so he won't have to take the class during the school year and free-up a period for something else he wants. But I can tell already that learning to look to the right to see something is a trick that's going to be really hard to teach this old dog to do. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 14, 2012

They're back! Voices in charge again!!!

Aha!!  The voices in my head are still going at it.  Oh sure, it's been a few days since they last ranted like this, but I think that's just because they've been saving it up for a nice explosion.  One where not many people come out happy or unscarred.  One where the majority of people who read this won't give a rat's ass and others will either be embarrassed, offended, or so confused they won't know which opinion to choose.

Things are just stupid all over and I have no idea why.  I hate chaos and disorder except when the disorder is created by me.  Then it just looks like disorder to others but I know where everything is and I don't want anyone touching it.  But the past few days/weeks have me remembering more in the continuing story (which I'll get back to soon) and watching things happen that just have me shaking my head in disgust and frustration.

Example:  Husband read a post by Half-Sister on her Buttleaflet account.  She made a comment.  He replied to the comment.  Nothing offensive, just an opinion.  She called him an asshole and de-friended him.  So what?  They're adults and can do whatever they want.  What I thought was strange was that she did the de-friending after calling him an asshole and that prevents him from seeing it.  He didn't know that she'd responded until I was on my account and saw what was posted.  Not that either of them care, I'm sure -- they've never gotten along for a laundry list of reasons (some I know and some I don't) and I don't think either one feels slighted and/or vindicated by the actions.

So it seemed strange to me when I was reviewing my account online today and found that one of my Sisters-in-Law had de-friended me.  This was weird because quite a while ago we'd had a bit of a difference of opinion regarding something I'd posted somewhere and what she typed to me hurt my feelings.  I let her know how I felt and she replied and I realized that we were both reading way too much into things (which we both admitted) and mutually apologized to each other.  Just recently I'd been seeing posts from my niece but nothing from her mom.  I thought maybe she was just being unusually quiet recently and had even received an email from a mutual friend wondering if she was okay.  Now I know why I've not seen anything.  Am I sad?  A bit because we were close in age and had a lot of things in common and always have enjoyed each other's company.  But, if that's her choice, then I have to respect it.

So, all of the voices are now trying to get me to continue with the retelling of my story ('cause we're getting to some of the juicy parts) and argue over whether or not being able to contact family members online is a good thing or a bad thing and lamenting over yesterday being Mothers' Day and not hearing from Eldest Son.  He sent a brief text, but that's all.  I don't want a parade or anything like that but he doesn't call or return messages anymore.  He didn't say or do anything for his step-father's birthday and the last time I sent him info about what Youngest Son was doing he seemed disinterested.  I always take his calls, regardless if I'm at work or in an appointment.  Just as long as answering my phone won't cause a dangerous situation (like when I'm driving) I answer because I worry about him being far away from home.

But is it "home" to him?  He lives closer to his biological father and paternal grandparents who give him everything he wants.  I see him for maybe a week around the Christmas holidays when I pay for the Amtrak tickets to get him here and back.  He should be graduating from college soon and I certainly don't want to miss that, but I can't get an answer out of him when I ask when he thinks he'll be done.  He used to call me for everything -- even issues I couldn't solve for him but he knew that I'd give him my best advice and intelligent options for him to weigh.  Now it's nothing.  No texts.  No calls.  No emails.  And he dropped Buttleaflet and the other thing with a plus sign after it when he wasn't interested in it either.

I don't really know what to think about much of anything anymore.  I make up my own mind and have my own opinions and invariably someone gets offended.  I explain that my opinions are just that -- mine -- and that anyone who is offended should (1) say something to me so that I understand that their opinion is different than mine and we can come to a mutual understanding that I'll have mine and they'll have theirs and be respectful of it or (2) be quiet about it if all they're going to do is try to shove their opinion down my throat and tell me what an awful person I am for thinking or believing the way I do.  I have seen and experienced a lot of things I'd never wish on anyone else.  I have friends who have seen and experienced a lot of things -- some thousands of times worse than anything I've had -- that they'd never wish on anyone else as well.  We all come from a damaged background in one way or another.  It was different when people lived tens/hundreds/thousands of miles away from each other and only called/wrote every now-and-then.  With the Internet, everyone is in everyone else's business 24/7 and people don't understand that sarcasm/humor/anger/despair won't translate well through printed words.  So we all (and, yes, I include myself in this) jump to a conclusion based on what we see and what we believe that person would say/do/think.

I try to make a point of stepping-back and thinking about what I've read and how it could be interpreted different ways.  I've been doing that with a lot of things from my past recently, too.  That's one of the reasons the voices in my head keep telling me to write more and get things down on paper.  It's not to beg for pity or to embarrass someone else by airing anyone's dirty laundry.  It's trying to see things objectively and get them out of my system once and for all.  The voices have been rummaging through the cabin trunks in my brain to clear out the crap and make more space for the penguins (if you're a Douglas Adams fan you'll get that reference).

So now that I've gotten that mess out of the way for now, I'll pick up where we left-off in the story.  My parents decided to divorce and the summer between my 4th and 5th grade years of school they took me on a really long "family" vacation.  Then they waited until the summer between my 5th and 6th grade years to actually finalize the divorce while I was away at summer camp.

I talked briefly about 6th grade but it needs more information.  Not only was I again attending a school where my biological father was the principal but his mistress was the school secretary there as well.  Oh joy.  As if I needed further reminders of how much my life was going into the crapper.  But, I was an honor student and was meeting even more people because the school district had two elementary schools and the students from both combined into one class during 6th grade.  Yay....not only did I have the ones who knew me and knew my dad was the principal but I had a whole new set who would look at me as if I was the privileged one because my dad was the principal.

I can assure you that being "privileged" was far from the truth.  Some of my teachers liked me because I was a good student and I worked hard.  Some of my teachers just outright hated me because they didn't like my father or his mistress or both and were determined to make my life hell and were upset that they couldn't fail me because I made high grades in all of my classes.

There was an instance, however, where people felt I was being given too much privilege during my 6th grade year.  Previously I mentioned that I began playing the flute in band in 4th grade.  When I finally made it to the middle school where grades 6-8 attended, my father said that he was going to try to get me into the beginning band (7th grade) because I'd already had band experience.  He also knew that I was going to be bored to death in the 6th grade music class because I'd already learned to play the recorder and the keyboarding part of the year would be equally as boring since I'd been taking piano lessons since 1st grade.

One afternoon, my father told me to bring my flute to school with me the next day and I would be allowed to play with the woodwind class.  I happily entered the classroom the next day and was excited to get back to playing.  The band instructor said that it was "Challenge Day" and we would have to play a section from the book to see who would be placed in which chair based on our performances.  The students in the classroom had already been playing together and were in their "chairs" so I was told to take the last seat and would play first.  I played the piece from the book (which was the exact same book I'd already completed in 4th grade) and did better than the person next to me, so I took her chair and moved up the line.  This continued over and over again.  Each time I would play, then the next student would play, and then I would be moved up another ranking by taking their "chair."  Finally, I had moved all the way from last chair to second chair.  This is when I got really, really nervous because the person in first chair wasn't just the child of my 6th grade science teacher but was also a boy.  I'd not played against a boy before and I'd heard that he was very, very good.  He took lessons from the same piano teacher I had started with in our new town and if he could play the flute half as good as he played piano I knew I had no chance.  I was so nervous and I actually made a mistake while playing the same line that I'd been playing all day.  He, however, played it perfectly and remained in the top spot.  I was humbled and highly impressed at the same time.

I didn't even get to finish the week.  Word spread quickly of what I'd done and how I'd nearly unseated the top player in the class.  How dare I, just a simple 6th grader with 2 years of previous playing experience, walk into a classroom of older children who happened to live in a district that didn't allow them to begin band (in school, they could have taken private lessons though) until they were 7th graders and do so well?  How could this happen?  Who would allow it?  After enough teachers and parents complained, my father wouldn't allow it.  He yanked me out of that class faster than I could think possible.  He tried telling me it was for my own good that I stayed with my "regular" classmates but I knew better.  He was always trying to be popular with everyone and if someone said something negative about me being in band, he took it as a personal assault on his character.  It never mattered if I excelled at something -- if someone said or even thought anything negative he would immediately stop me from doing whatever it was so that people would think highly of him.

And it just wasn't in school that he did this.  He enrolled me in golf lessons at the local country club.  I wasn't the least bit interested in playing golf the way he was.  He bought himself the newest Jack Nicklaus "Golden Bear" clubs and made sure that he was seen playing with anyone he thought could get him viewed in a more positive light.  I had a teeny kids' set with a 3-wood, a 9-iron, and a putter in a vinyl bag.  Yeah....that was going to get me into the LPGA someday.

I suffered through the lessons and one day went with him to play a round at the country club.  I'd never played all 18 holes but he wanted to be sure he was getting his money's worth out of my lessons.  As predicted, he did much better than I did on every hole (and he had me teeing-off from the men's tee instead of the women's).  Every hole....except one.  There was one hole that had the longest par 5 on the front-nine and from a short kid's perspective seemed to go straight up instead up a sloping hill.  I got there in par -- a feat I was never able to reproduce but I was thrilled.  My father did not fare as well.  It took him more strokes to complete the hole than I'd made but he was still ahead in the game.  It didn't matter to him.  That wasn't even the last hole on the front-nine.  He was angry.  No, he was pissed-off in a way I'd not seen for quite a while.  He was shocked that I beat him on that hole.  He couldn't fathom the idea that a young kid could get lucky (with a bit of training) and make a par on that hole when he couldn't.

Immediately, he said he was done and didn't want to play anymore.  Just like a spoiled child, he took his toys and said I couldn't play in his sandbox anymore.  He wouldn't finish the entire game.  He wouldn't finish the front-nine.  He never asked me to play again.

So, with my broken family and the semi-acceptance of "friends" from school and church and my mother's depression and ranting at me as if I was the cause of everything evil in the world, what was I supposed to do?  If no one was happy seeing me or wanted me around, why should I be?  But, I wasn't quite ready to give up breathing yet.  Summer was coming and my favorite thing was just around the corner -- summer camp in Mississippi.

I escaped to Mississippi by begging my mother to take me a day earlier than usual and spending the night in the nearest town so that I could arrive very, very early the next morning.  All of the campers were allowed to pick the cabins they wanted to stay in, the hobbies they wanted to learn, and the bible classes they wanted to attend.  But, all of those were first-come, first-served.  If you weren't there early enough in the line, you didn't get anything you wanted.

I needed this to be a good summer.  She agreed and we went early so that I could be one of the first in line.  I knew that my second week I would get pretty much anything I wanted because they would allow me to pick my cabin/hobby/class before the others would register so that I could help show people around the camp, answer questions, and make sure that parents were comfortable leaving their kids.  I even had one father who, when he heard the name of my hometown, demanded that I look-after his daughter 'cause she'd never been away from home and anyone from where I was from had to be "good people."  I said that I wasn't a babysitter and that she'd be fine but we were going to be staying in the same cabin so at least she'd have a friend from day one there.  We actually got along and had a blast that week she was there.

During lunchtime, all of the campers would get excited about mail call.  Some kids were shipped items they'd forgotten from home.  Some kids got care packages from their families as if being in the middle of the forest prevented them from obtaining decent food.  (We got decent food, and lots of it!)  Some would get letters from boyfriends/girlfriends back home but most never received any.  I usually didn't get mail because it would take 3 days to get there from where I lived and by the time a letter would arrive I'd either (1) have already been able to call home on the weekend ('cause campers weren't allowed to call except in emergencies during the week) and found out everything or (2) I'd have left after the second week.

This year, though, there was a letter for me.  I was stunned.  The Camp Director enjoyed teasing the kids by pretending there were things written on the outside of the envelope, usually the gooey-eyed type of phrases people thought that people in love would say to each other.  It always got a big laugh and usually helped whomever received the letter he chose to play with feel better.  My family and I were good friends with him, so when he saw this letter I became the target of his humor.  It was funny and I proudly walked through all of the applause and laughter to receive my letter.

It was from my father.  This was very strange.  And it wasn't handwritten.  He'd typed the envelope and the letter.

After lunch we had a mandatory 30-minute "rest period" in our cabins so that our food could settle before the swimming pool would be open for the afternoon.  Yes, we had a huge lake there but it was much safer to swim in the pool!

I sat on my bunk in the cabin and read the letter.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  I still have the letter somewhere in my house.  I've packed it away with other important items but made sure that I've put it somewhere where I won't casually find it but also where it will remain for a long time because it was a great turning point in my life.

My father typed a letter to me saying that (and I'm paraphrasing here) he knew I'd be having fun at camp; that he hoped that I got to be in the classes I wanted that summer; and, oh by the way, that the day I'd left for camp he and his mistress had traveled to Arkansas and gotten married.  He gave a half-assed excuse for not inviting me or letting me know about it before I left for camp and that I should be prepared for them (him, her, and her 2 kids) to pick me up at the end of my second week.

I don't really remember much after that.  I was shocked and hurt.  To think that he purposefully didn't want me to know what was going on was the worst.  I can only remember them coming to pick me up in his diesel Chevette and me being crammed into the middle of the back seat between her kids (both of whom I was older than by many years) for the 8-hour drive back home.  No stopping except if they wanted to stop.  No eating anywhere except where they wanted to eat.  It was if coming to get me was a huge chore and not an attempt to help mend any wounds or begin to create a family.  I couldn't stand it.  It still makes me ill to think about it.  I was ignored the whole way back and dumped-off unceremoniously at my house.

"Well," I remember thinking to myself one day around that time, "this is it.  Mom's mad because she's divorced and has me to take care of on her own and Dad's being a jerk as usual except he's rubbing it in my face with his new 'son' (step-son, actually) that he's always wanted.  What's the point anymore?"

I went to the church camp sponsored by our local church that summer as well.  Fortunately, they drove a bus to get us out there and back so I didn't have to suffer either of my parents' unwillingness to deal with me.  I tried to have fun and I remember our group of girls (we were divided by age and gender) doing well on contests, but there were many who didn't want me in their group.  And I dreaded every day having one or both of my parents showing-up to give me some additional news that should have been told in person but was just haphazardly typed-out in a letter.  It didn't happen and I don't think I could have stood it if it did.
Well, poop....looked at the clock and all of my time is gone again.  The voices are still trying to cram words down my arms and to my fingers on the keyboard but I've got errands to run.  Need to get things done or Husband will be irritated that I stayed inside all day again.  I know he says he's not but I also know that it does upset him because I used to be very outgoing and my disabilities are not getting better.  Maybe in the long-run this "therapy" I'm trying with these posts will help.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Day for Mothers brings voices back

I hate holidays. Scratch that. The only holiday I don't really despise is Halloween. All other holidays are over-commercialized. You know that you're going to spend money on costumes, candy, and makeup for Halloween but why does everyone try to guilt us into buying more crap that no one needs just because it's a holiday?

Today is Mothers' Day and it's allowed us (the voices) to move forward and take over the post 'cause even though I have kids, Mothers' Day has always been somewhat annoying. Eldest Son sent a brief text message (just "Happy Mothers' Day). No call or even an email after months of no contact. Youngest Son and Husband though did do a good job at making me feel better though. They allowed me to sleep-in and then made lunch and bought roses for me. Very, very appreciated it was and no overspending. If they're going to overspend I'd prefer that they overspend time with me during the day. It's better than anything they could drag home from a store.

Did call Biological Mother today. Wished her a happy Mothers' Day and received the same in return. Always thought it was strange when she'd wish me a happy Mothers' Day because I'm a mother but I'm not her mother. I think that's just a OCD thing. Husband called his mother to wish her the same today. I have no idea what she had to say because he's the only one who talked to her. She sent me a Mothers' Day card (again, seems silly but that's just me) and a note inside which thanked me for sending articles to her that I didn't send and asking me how I spell my name (by the way, Husband and I have been married almost 17 years now). And when I'm feeling the way I am today (and the voices are more likely to keep redirecting my concentration), it's best I don't talk to too many people.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

To "Potter" or to "Potter Squared"

Just returned home from finally being able to see The Avengers. Really enjoyed it, even more than I thought I would. A lot of the "inside" jokes and the two scenes during the credits were very good. Saw the movie in 3D but it really didn't seem to make a difference. Of course, with my poor vision, I'm not surprised.

Now I'm debating with Husband and Youngest Son about what to watch on television tonight. HBO is premiering Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 tonight. I have them all on DVDs and Blu-Ray, but I still love watching the movies (and reading the books).

In honor of the premiere, HBO is showing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1followed by Part 2 as a sort of "mini-marathon." HBO East is currently showing Part 2 (and I'm watching it as I write) but Youngest Son also wants to watch both which will start in about 20 minutes on HBO West. Husband doesn't want to watch Part 1 but I think he's been outvoted on this adventure.

And I still think Warner Brothers and J.K. Rowling missed the boat when these movies could have been shown back-to-back in the theaters during the release of the 2nd part. I can do 2 in a row, but if they ever try to show all 8, they'll need to provide lots of caffeine and blankets for naps.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Got nuthin'

Nope....just not in the mood to post. Gotta fill the space, though. Sitting here with 2 hours left and nothing I've tried writing looks good.

So, I'm going to sit back and watch the old "Addams Family" movie. It's silly but it's still fun to watch after you've not seen it for a long time.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Busy! No time! Got to hurry!

Sorry y'all but I'm really busy today. Have eBay auctions that are ending, ones that have ended and paid for that have to be packed for shipping tomorrow, and I've finally heard from the EEO officer and have paperwork to read and sign for him.

Plus I've not been able to get all of my playing with the dogs, television watching, napping, and all-around laying-about done today. Guess I'll do that tonight. Maybe. Or I might just brave the couch and see if it causes me to pass-out like it does the guys.

Gotta be ready for tomorrow -- Youngest Son has his last junior high dance that night. He swears he's not asked anyone to go with him but I think he'll find someone or at least hang-out with "the gang" while he's there.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I can see why the USPS is in the crapper....

Everyone's complaining that the United States Postal Service (USPS) is going to be closing post offices and processing centers and probably raising the prices on stamps a zillion more times before the end of the year. There's a very, very good reason why, but first let me start with my story of the day.

I like to sell items from my website. I also like to sell items on eBay. Many times I have items that need to be shipped overseas. So, I use the USPS to ship overseas because it is cheaper than UPS, FedEx, or any of the other commercial carriers. Today I had a World War II Brazilian officer's belt buckle that had been sold, ironically enough, to a gentleman in Brazil. I had listed that the weight of the item was about 1 pound because it's small, brass, and isn't hard to put into a padded envelope or a small box. Today when I attempted to ship it, I weighed the buckle and it was actually 2.9 pounds. That's fine -- not a lot of difference since I'm going to be sending it Priority Flat-Rate International where items up to 4 pounds can be shipped for one fee. However, what they failed to tell me was that I also needed to weigh the box with it. If it's a flat-rate box and it says I can ship up to 4 pounds, why are they also charging for the "free" box? What's the point of me using their "flat-rate" service if I'll end up paying the same amount as if I used my own box?

It's things like this that explain why the USPS is really in the crapper. Back when UPS, FedEx, DHL, and the countless other commercial shipping companies that have come-and-gone started vying for our business, they promised overnight or next-day or 3-day shipping and that's exactly what you got. The USPS' attitude was that "it will get there when it gets there" because it's run by the government with overpaid government employees. I'm not talking about your standard letter carriers who are actually out in the heat, ice, rain, and snow actually delivering your mail -- especially those like my letter carrier who still has to do it on-foot and not in the cute little air-conditioned truck. When the Postmaster General of the United States makes a 6-figure salary and never actually handles a piece of mail, something's wrong. And it's the lackadaisical attitude of the "perpetual government employment" and specialized benefits that have the higher-ups not really caring if people complain about the service they receive. It used to be a one-horse show back in the old days. Them days, partner, are over.

With all of the shipping choices people have now it's no wonder that the commercial shippers are driving the USPS out of business. They're in it for the profit and if the customer isn't happy, they'll tell their friends who will tell their friends and pretty soon your company has no one using it. I've seen quite a few come-and-go over the years. The ones with staying power offer the services you want at a reasonable price and guarantee that you'll get it. The USPS always has a "window of opportunity" of when something might arrive. Rarely do I ever see a confirmed date with the Post Office.

The USPS constantly is trying to remind everyone that they're self-funded and not assisted by the Federal Government and that only your use of the Post Office can keep it going. Guess what? That's the same thing you'll hear from a privately owned business! Gee whiz, who'd have thought that if you gave good service, didn't overspend on benefits and retirement (something that occasionally is done in commercial companies as well), and tried to stick to your budget that you could be successful? But, the Federal Government doesn't require that the USPS make a profit; it just has to break-even. And then they're also supported by taxpayers through the "Postal Service Fund" but they don't like to talk about it because they usually come up with a profit at the end of the day when it's all is said and done.

And they wonder why people prefer email and commercial shipping?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Happy Birthday Husband!!!

I'm using this post on my blog to wish a very, very happy birthday to Husband. He's 15 years older than me though at times you'd never know it. I think that's one of the things that makes us great together. We're matched both intellectually and psychologically very well (I'll let you guess which one represents whom).

Last year I bought him a rifle. This year I got him a 2-year subscription to a magazine he likes (not adult-only). I told him I felt bad at the difference between the two gifts but that I also blamed him for it because he wouldn't give me any suggestions of what he wanted. He and I both agree that we're getting to the point where we have what we need and just buying something because we want it isn't practical. Youngest Son didn't know what to give him either so he dedicated his last band concert of the year to him.

So, here's to another year of good health and happiness to Husband!!! I love you very, very, very, (continue repeating very ad infinitum) much!!!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Still irritated at Mythbusters' "Swinging Pirates" episode

I know it's just a minor thing, but I really liked the effect in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie that showed the six pirates swinging in a ball made of bones and climbing their way to the top of the cliff and saving themselves. The Mythbusters tried to recreate the myth that it could be done and messed it up. Big time. In my opinion anyway -- I'm not a scientist.

They used metal to create the ball -- good idea. They had openings at the bottom of the ball large enough for them to crawl through -- bad idea. They used two cables to hold the ball above the ground -- not accurate since in the movie it's supposed to be a single vine. But they did prove that they could climb up the "cliff" by having everyone help climb a cargo net on the side of a building. They really should have replicated the actual conditions. The two safety cables impeded the ability for the momentum to increase.

However, on the same episode, the Build Team made a pulse jet and had an expert come and show them an effective way to build one and how it should run. I wonder how many WWII British survivors watched the episode and had bad memories afterwards? The one their expert built sounded just like a V-1 flying bomb, also known as a "Buzz Bomb" or "Doodlebug" by the British who listened to them as they flew overhead before crashing and exploding. And if you've never heard of the V-1 -- go look it up. They did lots of damage.

Now I'm going to watch the new episode for this week -- any time you make a hot water heater explode on television is awesome.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Survived another sleepover!

Why is it when Youngest Son has a friend or friends over to spend the night I'm the one completely exhausted the next day? It's not like I'm up watching movies at 2:30 a.m. or trying to finish the last slices of the jalapeno pizza they ordered on a whim!

Fortunately, Youngest Son's friend (to whom he was going to introduce the game Warhammer 40K) enjoyed it very much. I loaned him some of my army since he wants to play the same one I have and he picked up the rules very quickly. They played for over 3 hours and then started another game this morning. We all then went out-of-town to the closest gaming store and Youngest Son's friend had left-over birthday money that he used to purchase some figures so he can start his own army. We even bought him a really cool figure that was already put together and painted that he saw and liked (and it wasn't too expensive) and gave it to him as a belated birthday gift. After having lunch and a running a few more errands, we came back to the house and Youngest Son began teaching his friend how to assemble the figures. They got two done in the short time they had left and they're both looking forward to the time after school gets out for the summer when they can spend more time together assembling, painting, and playing with the figures and ships for their respective armies. I'm very, very thankful Youngest Son has friends here. We were worried that it would be hard for him to make friends since we're "not from 'round here" but he's fitting in with a pretty good group.

Well, this is going to be short 'cause in an hour Syfy is going to be showing the new "Treasure Island" with Eddie Izzard, Elijah Wood and Donald Sutherland. DEFINITELY want to see it!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sleepover time again!

Just a quick post 'cause I'm trying to get things ready for tonight/tomorrow. Youngest Son is having a friend over for the evening and to spend the day with tomorrow. He attended his friend's birthday party last weekend and bought him a present that has had the friend fascinated all week.

Husband, Youngest Son, and I enjoy playing the miniatures game Warhammer 4000 (also known as Warhammer 40K). It's a fun strategy/tactics game played with miniature figures and vehicles on a tabletop that you "decorate" with obstacles and terrain to make it look like you're "invading" another world. Husband plays the Space Marines -- humans, and has his battle suits painted with the 35th Infantry Division patch on them. Youngest Son plays the Eldar -- an alien race that is very powerful and has a special character called an Avatar that can basically walk-through the playing area "killing" anything in its path. I play the Tau -- an alien race somewhat based on the Samurai/Bushido code where they believe everything is "for the greater good" and use highly specialized weapons that don't require the soldiers to be close enough for hand-to-hand combat (VERY long-range weapons). Youngest Son's friend was looking at different types of characters and picked the Tau as well. The gift Youngest Son gave him was the Codex for the Tau -- a book published by Games Workshop (the publishers of the game system and who make ginormous sums of money on the expensive figures, paints, books, and accessories to play the game) which explains who the Tau are, what they do, how they fight, what they believe in, and then specifics on each type of character and the weapons, vehicles, and other accessories they can use during the game.

In the game, teams or individual armies face-off on large tabletops and roll dice to determine if they can move and/or attack and must remain in-range of other persons/items/equipment, if required, and everything is based on whatever you roll on the dice required for the type of movement or attack you're attempting and a chart in the book that tells you if you're successful or not. Simple, huh?

Yeah, I'm still trying to learn it all and this game has been out since the 1990s and Husband used to play it a LOT back then. I never got involved with it and probably wouldn't be now except that Husband lucked-out on an entire Tau army with additional personnel, vehicles, and lots of extras that had the whole set been sold at a gaming store or online would have cost over $400, easily. He found it at a thrift shop for $18. For that low of a price, how could I resist? Plus, if I ever get tired of it, I can sell-off the items for the going rate and definitely more than double my money! That is, if Youngest Son doesn't try to get them -- he keeps asking me if I want to trade armies with him. He just doesn't like it because my basic strategic move is to set-up my armies at the far corner of the table and shoot at everyone from there because I have weapons that have a range of 36-inches and most tables aren't that big. That means, almost no matter what I roll, I'll hit them.

So Youngest Son and his friend are going to attempt to play the game tonight since his friend is really, really desperate to see how it all works. I told him I'd loan him a few figures to play with so he can get the idea. Then tomorrow when we go out-of-town to get the huge bags of dog food I need for Celeste and Harley and to take Husband for an early birthday lunch, we're going to swing by the gaming store so that his friend can spend some of his birthday money if he wants to on an army (or parts of one). Then the two boys will be able to play each other at their houses once school is over and might be able to enter some of the tournaments at the gaming store during summer vacation.

I've tied the voices in my head to the back of my skull for the day. I'm not in a manic mode today and I'm holding well on keeping myself out of falling into the depressive side. I'm sure they'll get free and the story will continue again sooner-or-later, but for now I have to decide which figures I'll let the kiddo borrow for the evening. Fortunately, my metal figures (which they no longer make) are really too powerful (and expensive) for a beginner and he can use my plastic figures (which are easy to repair if one should accidentally fall off the table and break).

And, yes, May the 4th be with you!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Voices are quiet at the moment....

Shhh!!! We don't want to wake them!!!

I feel crappy today and even though a few are still rattling around in the back of my head trying to get me to continue my postings from the past two days, the rest of the brain is not taking well to the weird changes in the weather and I've been switching from feeling hot and sweaty (from my own personal global warming) to dizzy and sleepy (which could be any number of reasons). So, I'm quietly going to back away from the computer before the rest realize I'm here and try to relax today.

I'm sure those of you waiting for the rest of the story won't be disappointed in the future -- they're not about to let me leave a tale unfinished.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Voices are in charge again! Day 2.

So...yeah....the voices are still going and I've got loose ends from yesterday that I've got to tie up.  I just got back to the house from my therapist's office.  She told me she got my application for disability request and was completing the information for them.  I'm sure she's got more to add today since I described to her about (1) the "rule of thumb" for hazardous materials incidents (if you can't stretch your arm out to full length, look down the length of it and cover the entire object that's leaking the material with your thumb, you're too close), (2) how the length of your forearm (from the bend in your elbow to the bend of your wrist) is the same size as your foot, (3) the fact that I found a new show to watch the other night on H2 (used to be History International) called "10 Things You Don't Know" and how it's now a challenge for me to see if they can come up with things I don't already know (the one on Hitler I knew all of them), and (4) how I not only applied for disability as she suggested but I also applied for a temporary job at the same disability office.  That ought to confuse them.  Oh, and when I was talking about the "10 Things You Don't Know" episode they did on Caligula and how I knew most but not all, she had a strange look on her face because she didn't know who he was.  I find myself often having to explain what I'm explaining to her because I forget that there are people who don't collect every bit of knowledge they have and store it somewhere until it's triggered by something else and pops its way to the forefront of my mind.  Today was a lot of those little "side-story" kind of days where my brain didn't want to stay on-topic.

Oh, and I gave her a copy of the first part of this "log" (for lack of a better word) to put into my file.  That ought to show them I'm nice and bat-shit crazy enough for disability.  Probably not, but who knows?

Anyway, back to where I'd left off yesterday.  I needed to explain how I'd "retaken" the fifth grade.  After my stellar grades in Kindergarten and the same happening in 1st grade, my biological father informed us that we were moving to a new town where he was going to be the principal of the elementary school.  I remember my parents trying to find a house to rent in the small town where the school was located so that we could live there during the week and in our permanent house on the weekends.  The house they found had a lot of issues and we ended up not living there.  I was happy because I remember going to run the water in the bathtub and it all came out black.  That's not because the house had crappy pipes; that's because the whole town had crappy pipes.  Even at the school you weren't really sure what color the water in the toilet would be after you flushed it and washing your hands could sometimes make them look worse than before.  I don't even want to go into the drinking fountains.

Even though we didn't move to the town, my dad was insistent that I attend school there because that's where he would be and, at the time, my mother was going back to college for her second degree.  This time, she was majoring in education and was going to be a teacher at the school as well.  She ended up in the junior high/high school part and we moved away from that district before I ever reached those grades, so I never had her as a teacher.  I did used to substitute teach years ago and would often get called to teach her classes, but that's another story for another time.

Since my father was the elementary school principal and realized that I'd been very advanced (and bored) in school where I had been attending, he made the decision along with my 2nd grade teacher that I should be promoted to the 3rd grade.  Once I finished all of the lessons in the spelling workbook I was officially moved-up into the 3rd grade classroom and took all of my classes with them.  I moved along with those students from 3rd grade to 4th grade and then 5th grade, even though I was still considered only a 2nd grade, 3rd grade, and 4th grade student.  I did all of the work and made the honor roll in the classes that were a year advanced of where I should have been.  I didn't mind because I was able to learn more at my own pace and do things more advanced than the others.

But when I was chronologically a 5th grade student, we moved school districts.   My father had gotten a job in another town as the middle school (junior high) principal and would be overseeing the 6th-8th grade classes.  I was at summer camp in Mississippi for two weeks when they came to pick me up and announced that we were going "home" and we arrived in a town I'd only visited before after taking a LONG summer vacation (more on that later).  They'd found a house and moved our stuff an hour away from where we had lived before.  It was sad because I did have one friend that I would hang-out with and I was going to miss her.  Most of my other friends I'd had in Kindergarten and 1st grade had moved-on without me because even though I lived in the town, since I didn't go to the same school I didn't exist.

The new town was a lot bigger and much different than where I'd lived or gone to school!  In my previous school, I was in the minority as a white person.  In the new town, that's all I could find!  Other kids thought I was crazy when I asked where the black students were and why no one was friends with any.  The house my parents had rented was just temporary until they bought a new one -- and it was brand new!  The local trade school had built it and the home economics department decorated it.  The house was auctioned and we ended up winning it.  It was a nice house on a nice street and I had a nice neighbor -- a gal that I'd met in 2nd grade until she'd moved away and now we were living next door to each other.  So, at least I had a friend when I got there.

I thought for sure I'd be going to the middle school but my father didn't want me standing out from the crowd too much.  I asked about band because I'd begun playing the flute in 4th grade band and wanted to continue.  In the new town, students weren't allowed to start band until 7th grade.  Even though I'd had a year behind me, I wasn't going to be allowed to play.  And I wasn't going to be allowed to go to the middle school because my father decided that it would be better if I stayed with the students my own age.  So, I had to "retake" the 5th grade.  Even the textbooks were the same as we used in my old school!  I mentioned this to my parents and the teachers but no one would budge.  So, I did 5th grade again and then finally moved to junior high.

Oh, remember me mentioning that my parents moved while I was at summer camp?  That wasn't the only shocking thing that happened while I was away from home, but the camp I attended in Mississippi was a religious camp, 8 hours away from home, and I loved every minute of it each year that I went.  The first year I went I was 9 (the youngest age they allowed) and I was only allowed to stay for one week since my parents weren't sure how well I'd get along on my own.  My friend Russell and some other guys from our church went as well.  We knew about the summer camp because it was the same place in the winter where men from around the country would go for a religious deer hunting retreat.  My dad would always bring home a buck and a doe and he and his friends would spend hours in our garage hanging the deer and dressing them.  I loved watching it and wanted to help.  When I was 8 years old, he returned from his week-long retreat with the deer and a BB gun for me.  I was in heaven!  And, since it was close to Christmas, I knew what I'd be doing out in the snow.

And, no, I never shot my eye out or killed anything with it.  But, boy, I could sure hit the back of an old heavy aluminum Dutch oven hanging on the back fence!  The "thwing!" that BB made as it ricocheted off the metal and into who knows what direction was thrilling.  Of course, this was back in the day when parents would let their kids have BB guns, you could use a BB gun in the city limits legally, no safety equipment was worn, and no one concerned themselves about the return trajectory of the BBs as they "thwinged" themselves off of metal objects.

I loved my first year at summer camp.  I got to swim in the pool and tried to water ski on the lake but just ended up being dragged around on my face.  I met a lot of people from all over the southern United States who had absolutely NO idea what I was saying because I was a "Yankee" and didn't have the Southern Twang that was needed to communicate.  I also took horsemanship classes and got to take care of a horse and rode it every day.  I was so busy having fun that I forgot that the large suitcase of clothing and personal items I brought with me included a brush and other objects with which to clean myself.  I don't remember it but my parents had a good time teasing me when they came to pick all of us up at the end of the week that I looked liked I'd gone wild because I forgot to brush my hair the entire time I was there.  At least I swam and the chlorine in the pool could count as "bathing" more than what Russell did.  He completely forgot to bathe or change clothes the entire time.  We were both sent back to our respective cabins before we were allowed in the car with the other guys to return home.

We were all crammed in the station wagon -- a big Oldsmobile full-sized station wagon with plenty of room in the back for our luggage, vinyl bench seats, and fake wood trim along the sides.  My parents and I sat in the front (me in the middle with my feet on the "hump") and the two older boys shoved Russell into the middle of the back seat between them.  On the way to the main road from the camp was a very winding road that was gorgeous but wasn't optimal for people with a tendency to have motion sickness.  Russell was one of those.  We heard a strange noise and then my mother and I looked over our shoulders into the back seat where we saw each of the teenage boys pressed as close to the doors as they could get while shouting that Russell was being sick all over the floor.  And he was -- and not just the floor.  We had to pull over on the side of a barely two-lane gravel road and get Russell changed and try to clean up the sick.  Thank goodness for those vinyl seats.

I never returned with the other guys and Russell to summer camp.  Each year until I was 16 I went on my own.  I'd stay for two weeks and have the time of my life.  My maternal grandparents even bought me a joke book on "How to Speak Southern" which I actually used as a translation guide and my second year there people could understand me.  I'd pack my dad's old Navy trunk with enough clothes and books and other things to keep me occupied on rainy days and looked forward to going every year.  And after we'd moved and I started my new school, I became even more desiring of being there because it was somewhere I could be happy.

The summer after my 4th grade year I spent two glorious weeks at camp and then my parents, with our dog in tow, showed up to get me.  I was stunned by this but my dad was really good friends with the camp director and had made arrangements to sleep in one of the VIP cabins (where the speakers or other guests could stay) so that on the last day of my stay we could leave as soon as all of the "goodbyes" were said and tears were shed.

They packed my trunk into the back of our 1980 Chevrolet Chevette along with the luggage they'd brought which was much more than for a one-night stay eight hours away from home.  I thought something was up and my suspicions were correct.  After we'd headed up the twisty road towards the main road, my parents announced that we'd be going on vacation.  With both of them being teachers, we had all summer so I sat in the back seat with my dog and watched the miles go by.  We traveled through Mississippi, across Alabama, and finally stopped in Georgia.  We visited Atlanta and went to the Six Flags park there.  I remember having to stand in line for an hour to get my hand stamped with a time to return so I could stand in line some more to get to ride the new Thunder River ride.  My dad complained the entire time but I was just glad to be having some fun.  We also visited Stone Mountain while we were in Georgia and I really, really enjoyed seeing and learning a lot about it.

We ventured north into South Carolina and I remember we stopped in Maggie Valley, North Carolina one night.  There was a HUGE water slide there and I'd never been on one before.  I begged my parents to let me try it and while my mom wasn't a big fan of being in a swimsuit in public at the time, my dad agreed and bought passes for the two of us.  This wasn't a fiberglass water slide like you see these days -- it was concrete and built into the ground (which pleased my mother because that summer she had seen too many reports of water slides collapsing at parks and people getting hurt).  There were two tracks -- one was short and fast and the other was longer but had bigger drops.  We were given neoprene mats and told to be sure to hold on to them tightly as we traveled down the chutes.  I loved it!  It was like an open roller coaster and I wanted to go faster and faster.  My father, however, thought he'd show me some "moves" that would be "cool" and I remember seeing him leave the top of the slide, the mat coming down the slide, him coming down the slide on the rough concrete, and then a large "splash" in the pool at the bottom and him saying that he wasn't going to slide anymore.  Oh, and Mercurochrome was located for the scrapes he had.

After spending time in North Carolina we ventured towards the Virginias and the Smokey Mountains.  We got to see bears on the side of the road and made a side-stop in Knoxville, Tennessee during the 1982 World's Fair.  I've heard that it's been listed as one of the worst World's Fairs of all time and I'm here to say that I wholeheartedly agree.  Everything was about the environment and new technologies such as solar and wind power.  It was also extremely crowded and, of course, my dad complained the entire time.  He and my mother even had a very loud argument in the parking lot on our way to the gates that for all she cared he could sit in the car by himself while she took me inside to see and learn new things.  Every country's pavilion we wanted to visit had a line at least two hours long and many, like the Chinese and American pavilions, had lines for you to wait to get your hand stamped with a time at which you would come back and stand in line again and wait to get inside to see the exhibits.

It was hot.  They'd paved over a huge park to install the World's Fair which looking back seems like a really stupid thing to do if you're trying to talk about saving the environment.  Everything was expensive and, as usual, my dad complained even more loudly as the day continued.  The only pavilion we visited was the Canadian exhibit because (1) it had a shorter line and (2) it advertised that it was air conditioned.  When we got to the front of the line, the air conditioning was no longer working.  I don't really remember anything from their exhibit because my dad dragged us through there as quickly as possible because he was getting sick from the heat.

My mother and I found a building where people were exiting out the back doors and suddenly felt the cool refreshing breeze of air conditioning.  Not caring what exhibit it was, we darted inside and, yes, made sure my dad came too.  It was full of computerized exhibits and video games and everything "futuristic" you could think of at the time.  I remember Nintendo had a HUGE area where there were Donkey Kong games lined-up side-by-side and each one was being played by someone who, like me, had never played a videogame like that before.  We stayed inside the cool building for a while so that we could rest and recharge before going back into the sweltering heat.  We stayed in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and I ended up sick with a fever for a couple of days which threw-off some of the plans they'd made.

After I was better we went to Louisville, Kentucky where an old Navy buddy of my father's lived with his wife.  My parents had been friends with them for years and we'd visited them once when they lived in Iowa.  Now he was a big attorney for General Electric and we were invited to come and stay with them for a while.  We toured Louisville.  I got to see the original pot in which The Colonel made his first batch of Kentucky Fried Chicken and the "safe" where the secret recipe was "kept."  We all also ventured to Indiana and visited Santa Claus Land in Santa Claus, Indiana.  This is WAY before it became Holiday World and Splashin' Safari!!  Santa Claus Land was basically a cheap carnival with exhibits and stores where every day, 365 days a year, it was Christmas.  Some poor fool had to sit on a throne in an overstuffed Santa costume for hours a day in the middle of summer and listen to kids tell him what they wanted for Christmas or scream their heads off in terror because they didn't know who he was.  My favorite memory was my dad trying to tease my mother into riding the Tilt-a-Whirl because she gets motion sickness very easily.  He kept teasing and taunting and finally she agreed that we three would ride it together.  After it ended, I had a wonderful view of my father leaning against a large pine tree throwing up everything he'd eaten and complained was too expensive at the park.  I wanted to take a picture for posterity but decided I'd be safer if I didn't.  After Santa Claus Land we went to Squire Boone Caverns in Corydon, Indiana and I fell in love with caves.  Oh, I knew I was claustrophobic and afraid of heights and falling (which wasn't ideal since one of the first things you cross is a very large chasm that seems to have no bottom on a very small bridge).  But I loved going through the cave and seeing new things each time.  My parents and their friends waited outside while I went on tour after tour.  When we all went together we made sure to pose for the "obligatory" photo at the beginning that they said they used "to make sure that everyone on the tour makes it out of the cave and will know who's missing."  My dad hated the picture because he's standing in it with his legs crossed like he needs to go to the bathroom.  My mother said we weren't posing for another just because he didn't like it and that he should have gone before we left.

After the long vacation, we went to our new home, I started my new school, and things started to change a lot.  My mother was attending graduate school to receive her Master's of Education and my dad was busy at the middle school many evenings.  I'd be at home by myself (remember, this was back when you could do that and not be scared of someone snatching your kid) and he'd tell me that if I had problems with my homework to call him at the school.  I wasn't sure what he was doing there but I know that he didn't answer the phone when I would call.  I guessed back then that he thought I'd be able to do all of the work on my own or figure it out and would never need to call him 'cause I had no idea where he was.  When he came home he'd tell me he was at the school but I had my suspicions that he was never fucking there.  Well, he might have been fucking there -- but that's an image I don't want in my mind.  It's bad enough when you come to grips with the fact that your parents had to have had sex at least once to get you into the world, much less any more than that. (Told you I could swear and this is where it's necessary.)

No, my dad had introduced me to his secretary and she had introduced me to her family.  She had two kids (a boy and a girl, both younger than me) and I absolutely loved her parents.  They treated me as one of their own.  My mother and I would go out and pick blackberries and corn and other fruits and vegetables on their farm and in their gardens.  We were welcomed with open arms and they loved having me visit and go fishing or riding three-wheelers with them.  They even gave me my own rabbit to raise (which had to be put-down after it ate it's babies) and taught me to milk cows and work with other farm animals.  It was great!

Then it happened.  I went to summer camp and came home to a changed house.  My dad had been having an affair with his secretary and my parents had decided to divorce.  Being the naive kid I was, I thought the reason my dad had moved his stuff into the guest bedroom during the year was because he snored too loud and he was often up late at night typing his thesis for his Specialist's in Education degree.  To me, it seemed logical that he stay in there where we could close the door on him when we wanted quiet so we could sleep.  I had no idea that was the first step in him moving-out.  I went to camp with married parents and came back a child of divorce.  They'd decided to do it while I was gone so I wouldn't have to speak in front of the judge and so I'd be happier.  That's what they said, anyway.

My 6th grade year was controversial just like my 5th grade year.  I was meeting new people and finding that being the principal's daughter did get you invited to a lot of the best parties and events in town but only so people could say that I was there, not that they really wanted me there.  I'd often find myself in the corner alone watching everyone else participating or I'd try to get out there and dance or play the games or whatever they were doing and was told indirectly (and sometimes very directly) that I wasn't welcome in what they were doing.  It was difficult trying to find a place to fit-in.  Everyone knew who I was because everyone knew who my father was.  I was in Girl Scouts and played intramural softball and participated a lot with the local youth group at the church we attended.  I tried to convince others at church to attend summer camp with me but no one was interested.  The church we attended had their own one-week camp they sponsored and I decided to give it a try as well.  It wasn't as much fun, but I was with people I knew from school and hoped for more friendships to grow from it.

Of course by now everyone in town knew that my parents had divorced and who my dad was seeing.  As I've said before, I know their marriage had been rocky for a long time but I never dreamed it would end.  I didn't know people who had gotten divorced.  Or, if I did, I was never told about it.  The "scandal" didn't help me in winning friends.  I hated hearing people whisper, "Do you know who he's dating?  She's from that family!  How could he sink so low?"  And it really upset me, too, because her parents had never been anything but kind and loving to me and I had no idea why people were speaking poorly of them.  Even after my parents divorced they invited me over and let me have fun fishing or just playing outside.  I guess they wanted to help me through the transition as best as they could.

In the divorce, my dad gave my mother  the house (with the mortgage) and one of the cars (the Chevette that would later become mine) and he took the money from the bank.  And not just his half of the money -- ALL of it.  And everything in the safe deposit box which included my coin collections he'd tried to help me start and all of the savings bonds my paternal grandmother had bought me every birthday and Christmas since the day I was born.

I'll never forget one night when my mother was upset over the whole thing.  My mom hadn't been drinking or anything like that.  She was just pissed and wanted to yell and scream at someone and, since I was an only child and the only other person in the house, I caught it full-blast.  I remember trying to retreat into the kitchen to get away from her screaming and she cornered me.  There in the dark, I swear I could see her eyes glowing.  She screamed at me, "You'd just better get used to taking care of yourself because you're not going to have a mother to come home to!  I'm so pissed and I don't give a shit anymore that I just might go and kill that asshole father of yours and maybe his slut and then you'll be on your own 'cause I'll be in jail and I don't give a fuck!"  That was one of the first times I can ever remember being totally speechless.  I didn't know what to do!  She stomped off towards her bedroom and I just stood there with a glass in one hand and my other hand outstretched as I had been preparing to turn on the lights.  I just stood there in the dark and I remember hearing my brain "saying" to me, "Yup, got it.  That one's going right in the files with the rest," as the recorder in my mind turned switched off.

I knew she wasn't serious because I had the only weapon in the house (my BB gun) and she didn't like guns.  I didn't think she even knew how she'd try to kill someone but I didn't move for quite a while.  I waited until I heard her go into her bedroom before I dared move.  She never mentioned it again and I'm sure she wouldn't remember doing it now.  But it's definitely stuck in my memory banks.  Could be one of the reasons I became depressed my 6th grade year.  It could also be the reason that along with another event triggered my first real consideration of suicide, but that story is going to have to wait.

Again, I've sat here for I don't remember how long (more than a couple of hours) and typed as different voices in my head have brought things to the surface.  Some I've had to push back because they're trying to get me to tell stories out-of-order and, of course, that's just not my style.  OCD is a bitch no matter which way you look at it.  Maybe I'll continue again tomorrow with this.  I'm sure many of the people who read this and know or are in today's story won't be happy -- but my brain is whirring like a car that's idling too fast.  I know if I don't do something to slow it down soon it's going to break.  And this is all I have at the moment.