Wednesday, May 26, 2010

W for Wayback Wednesday (Part 3)

Welcome to another edition of Wayback Wednesday! If you'd like to, you can catch up by reading Part 1 and Part 2 first. We’re gonna jump into the Wayback Machine and travel to Thursday, August 24, 2006…

The post you’ve been waiting for…THE Date!

As promised, I'm back with the long awaited details of last night's date.  I hope it's just as exciting for you to read as it was for me to experience, but I doubt that will be the case.  There's no way you could feel what I felt without being there and being me, but I'm gonna do my best to take you on the trip.  Now, we all should know by now that I can get a little “wordy.” I apologize in advance for that.  I just can't help it; I like writing, I type fast, and I try to tell the story as completely and accurately as I can.  No unnecessary detail goes unspoken unwritten.  I'll try my best to break this up into appropriate sections.  I'm considering you, dear reader, and your time by doing this.  Read a section, go take a break (have a little popcorn or a good stiff drink, whichever is more appropriate for you) and come back.  We'll get through this, or you'll get bored and give up.  Either way, buckle up now, 'cause here we go...

LEAD UP
I woke up yesterday morning excited and nervous.  What's this I'm feeling?  Cramps?!?!   You've got to be kidding me!!!!!  After not even a two week respite, shark week is returning?!?!?  (Editorial Note: I called my period shark week back then in order to avoid freaking/grossing out my male readers at the time. Better to let them think of sharks tearing into internal organs than to think about or imagine a woman's menstrual cycle.) Oh, this so cannot be a good sign.  Not at all.  I tell myself to calm down--it's probably just nervous jitters.  I wear "protection" just in case, take a hot shower, pop some extra strength Tylenol, and head off to work.

I was a nervous wreck all day.  It doesn't help that I got practically no sleep the night before, because my brain just wouldn't shut off.  I kept playing all sorts of different scenarios over and over in my head.  It was horrendous.  I truly am my own worst enemy.  All day, I alternated between being extremely excited to wanting to vomit.  I keep praying that it wasn't going to rain.  In my head, I'm yelling, "OHMYGOD WHAT IF IT RAINS?!?!?  THE WHOLE DAY WILL BE RUINED!!!!!!!"

BFF does her best to keep me in check.  Bless her heart!!!  Damn, this girl loves me—she must—I really don't know how she puts up with me sometimes.  I love her too. I don't know how I got lucky enough to meet her, and to become her friend, but I'm keeping her.  At one point yesterday, she told me I'm worse than a child.  She was totally right.  I needed to hear that.  I love that she just says those things that I need to hear, whether I want to hear them or not.  She assured me that I was going to have a great time and that she'd be doing her "I told you so" dance on Thursday, because as usual, I'm getting all upset over nothing and she's going to end up being right.  It was one of those times in my life where I was actually hoping I was wrong.  I wanted so badly for her to be right!

She made the best analogy in the middle of the afternoon, when I was once again whining about how nervous I was, she said, "You know people pay thousands of dollars to feel what you're feeling right now!!!  It's called skydiving!"  Perfect!  The girl is infinite in her wisdom sometimes.  I mean that was seriously the best analogy ever.  I realized that, unlike skydiving, this date more than likely wouldn't kill me.  I'd like to say I was significantly calmer the rest of the afternoon, but that would be an outright lie.

I obsessively checked both my cell phone and email all day--waiting for Music Man to cancel. (Suppose I don't need to tell ya that's his name, huh?  Yeah, now that the date has come and gone, I no longer have to superstitiously hide his name in fear that it will somehow "jinx" things to reveal it.  I've found out this past week that I'm apparently quite superstitious.  I suppose you'll see that here and there in this blog.  Make it a game:  Spot Elle's weirdo superstitions.  Maybe it will help you get all the way through.)  Yeah I know it was paranoid and utterly ridiculous to think he'd cancel, but I've never done this whole dating thing before, 'k????  Cut me some slack!

(If you can't cut me any slack, you may want to quit reading, because you're going to need to cut me some serious slack if you're going to get through reading this.  My ridiculousness yesterday knew no bounds.  Example to follow right now...)  

Somehow, I managed to convince myself that the reason that Music Man had chosen the location he did for our date was that it shares a parking lot with the police station, which was important because he obviously thought I was a psycho.  I was sure he was simply going out on this date to placate me, to keep my psychotic tendencies at bay long enough for him to go into hiding, but really he was terrified of me so he was taking steps to feel as safe as he possibly could.  Why would he think I'm a psycho?

Because in our two-hour phone conversation, we had at one point talked about TV shows we watch.  I mentioned that I love Forensic Files and all those types of shows.  Then, for reasons I'm completely not sure of, I said something along the lines of, "I know I've watched too many of those shows when I start thinking about, and planning for, the evidence I need to leave behind if I'm ever being raped or murdered.  You know; skin under the fingernails and that kind of thing, for DNA purposes."  What the hell?!??!    Even as I was saying it, I wondered what in the hell I was saying.  Why'd this guy have to be so damn easy to talk to, huh?!??!?!  (I'd come to find out later that this did not make him think I was a psycho. In fact, he didn't remember it at first, but then he said he thought it was funny.)

I checked my cell phone one more time at around 3.  No voicemails.  Okay.  So, the date was obviously happening.  I was definitely going to the mini golf place at 7 p.m.  Okay.  Breathe.  Just BREATHE.

PREPARATION
I left work at 4, which is about an hour earlier than usual.  I wanted to go home and shower.  I wanted to start with a "clean slate" to prepare for the date.  Yes, that meant doing the work of showering, hair, and make up all over again, but I knew I'd feel better if I did it all fresh and new.  Besides, getting ready all over again would take time, which meant less time sitting around just being a nervous wreck.

I realized on the way home that I should stop at the cash machine.  I went to the drive through ATM at the bank closest to my apartment.  It was out of order.  I freaked.  What a horribly bad sign!  I'm not at all ashamed to admit that I almost cried, which seemed like a perfectly normal reaction at the time.  I pulled around to the bank parking lot and went inside to make a withdrawal.  It took way longer than I'd have preferred.  I felt the minutes ticking away and my anxiety level increasing tenfold with each stupid second that ticked by.  "Do these bank people want to see me die right here?!??!  Would a massive coronary be entertaining for them?!??!  I hope so, because they're about to get one if this godforsaken line doesn't start to move!!!!" I thought, not so calmly.  Oh, my date fate was so totally sealed.  This whole thing was just going to be a miserable debacle; I was sure of it.  I was in trouble.  What on Earth was I thinking getting myself into this?!?!?  (Me?  Dramatic?  Maybe just a tiny, little, eensy weensy, bit.)

I got home at around quarter to five and began stripping immediately after walking into my apartment.  I had to jump in the shower!!!  I mean, thanks to all the slow motion jerkoffs at the bank, I only had about TWO HOURS to get ready!!  Keep in mind that it typically takes me only an hour, if that, to get ready to go anywhere on any given day.  So yeah, two hours was plenty of time, but I had to worry that it wasn't; logic and reason had left me long ago.  I was able to confirm that shark week still seemed to be threatening to unleash it's fury again all too soon.  Great.  Just great!  I wasn't gonna let it ruin my day. I was doing a good job of that all on my own, thankyouverymuch. I popped some Midol and hopped into the shower.  I'd like to be all poetic and tell you that it was a totally zen experience as I let the water wash away my nerves.  That would sound really cool, calm, and collected.  The truth, however, is that I was nowhere near zen.  I was whatever the opposite of zen is, and then some, multiplied by about a million.

After my shower, I decided I should try to eat a little something.  My body was hungry, in that my stomach was growling, but I so didn't want to eat.  I wasn't hungry.  I was nervous.  I felt like I was going to vomit.  I decided Cup of Soup would probably be the safest bet.  Good thing I keep that damn dreadful stuff around!  So, I slapped that in the microwave and headed to the balcony to have a nerve-calming cigarette; making sure, of course, that I didn't shut the patio door all the way. (Editorial Note: I’d been locked out on the balcony of my second story apartment before as a result of the patio door locking itself after I’d shut it.) I still don't trust it, and with all the bad signs I'd already gotten it, I wasn't taking any risks.

I was happy, and relieved, that Music Man is a smoker.  That meant I didn't have to freak out too much about smelling like smoke.  Very nice.  If you think the cigarette worked to calm me down, you don't truly understanding what a wreck I was.  (Maybe that's a good thing.  That means I'm not painting myself as a complete and total psycho-lunatic.)  I cursed myself for wasting time smoking instead of actually trying to use the moment to calm myself.  When I got inside, I went to retrieve my soup from the microwave only to find that it had boiled over.

How in the hell did that happen?!?!  I did everything right the way I was supposed to!  DAMMIT!!!  Bad sign number --- well, I lose count, but you get my point.  So, I carefully lifted the glass spinning tray outta the microwave and dumped the whole mess into the sink to be dealt with later.  (Note to self:  Go clean kitchen sink.)  I reheated another cup of soup.  I drank maybe half of it while I "watched" TV.  By watched, I mean incoherently stared at while I sipped my soup.

It was now time for hair and make up, which thankfully was uneventful.  I moved on to brushing my teeth.  I had no idea that little task could go as badly as it did.  Apparently, my stomach decided it didn't want to accompany me on this date, so it decided to try to escape, quite dramatically and quite violently, if I do say so myself.  In case you're not catching my drift, I'll spell it out:  In the middle of brushing my teeth, I ended up vomiting in the bathroom sink.  How ridiculous is that?!?!  It totally came out of nowhere, as these things tend to do I suppose.

I was quite thankful I'd only had that measly cup of soup, and only half of it at that.  I tried blaming it on the weird, horrible, ill-timed arrival of shark week part two and the amazingly harsh cramps it was ambushing me with, but I know that my nerves were definitely a major factor.  Way to go me!  What kind of rational adult gets so nervous about a date that they vomit?!?!?  Answer = none.  Remember, rational was totally gone.  I rinsed my mouth with half a gallon of Listerine mouthwash, gently brushed my teeth again, and rinsed with more Listerine.  I checked my breath a few times, and finally satisfied that there were no telltale signs of the horrible betrayal my stomach had pulled, I went to finish getting dressed.

All dressed up and ready to go, I only had about fifteen minutes to wait before leaving the apartment.  I felt as though I looked good, which really helped.  I talked to myself out loud as I listened to some of my favorite tunes. "This is gonna be fun.  I'm excited.  This is different and different can be good.  It's gonna be great!  Seriously.  We've talked on the phone and we have a lot in common, there’s no way this can go badly."  I left the house at quarter to seven...

THE DATE
The ten-minute drive to the mini golf course was the longest drive of my life.  I hit every red light that I possibly could.  Nice;  that's a sign, and in case you haven't caught on by now, not a good one.  When I got there, I was a bit surprised to see that the parking lot was quite empty.  "Well, this will help make him easier to find," I thought as I parked in the middle of a completely empty row.  A row or two in front of me and off to the right I noticed a red truck.  A hand holding a cigarette was sticking out the window.  I was sure it was him.  I busied myself with freshening up my lip-gloss and checking my hair in the rearview mirror.

I saw the truck window roll up.  I forced myself to open my car door.  As I got out of the car, I was sure I was going to pass out.  My legs were wobbly, my hands were trembling, and my stomach was doing fantastic acrobatics.  I paused for what seemed like an eternity, but really had to only have been a couple seconds, to give my legs a minute to stabilize.  I looked over and noticed the truck door opening.  I watched the guy I assumed to be Music Man get out as I walked towards the truck, hoping I wasn't wrong because I'd look really dumb if I was.  He walked towards me, smiling as he pulled up the legs of his jeans to expose the yellow argyle socks he'd said he was going to wear.  I couldn't help but to smile.  "This guy is cool and has a great sense of humor," I thought.

First impressions:  I was pleasantly surprised!  He was cute in a boyish sorta way.  He's about my height, which is good because I don't like shorter men.  His hair was lighter than in his pictures.  He's a bigger guy, which I knew and expected based on his initial ad and the picture he'd sent, but not obese or grossly fat by any means. I'll call it "cutely cuddly chubby."  (Yes, I am blushing.  I feel like a complete dork, but that's really the best description I can come up with at the moment.  )  I like my men to have meat on their bones, and in my opinion, he was nicely proportioned.  Okay, analysis over.  I feel skeevy for even analyzing another human being in such a way, but I know you all were wondering.

He didn't look shocked or disappointed at seeing me, which I took to be a good sign.  As I got closer, I noticed that he was wearing one of those "Hello my name is" nametags on the pocket of his shirt, with "Music Man" written on it in big blue letters.  Brilliant!    This guy was just too cute and too funny.  What a thoughtful, entertaining, and original idea!  We said our hellos.  I noticed, and pointed out, that we were both wearing blue as we walked to the mini golf entrance together.  So far so good.  I could feel the nervous tension drifting away (FINALLY) as we walked.

I dug my wallet out of my purse, taking out a twenty-dollar bill to pay.  The girl hit some buttons on the cash register, and when she realized Music Man had his wallet out too she said, "Oh, are you paying separately?"  Not wanting an awkward moment, and not wanting to rudely say that we were definitely paying separately, I said, "No, I'll just pay for both of us!"  It was six dollars.  I think I can handle that.  "Are you sure?!?!" Music Man asked.  I told him that it was totally fine; she'd already rung us up, so it would just be easier.  He said okay and thanked me.  I silently cursed myself for possibly calling his manhood into question, or belittling him, or something horrible like that, as the girl handed him two golf clubs.

I decided to be girly and picked a pink golf ball.  Music Man chose yellow.  (I'm sure you really care.)  We went to tee off.  Of course Music Man decided that it should be ladies first.  As I dropped my ball onto the green, he asked the cashier, "Is this your favorite part?  Watching people tee off?"  She laughed and said that it could be pretty funny at times.  She informed us that some people apparently get a little over zealous and end up hitting the ball over the fence into the parking lot.  I assured her that she wouldn't have to worry about me doing that.

I asked Music Man about his day as I teed off.  The conversation flowed from there.  Mini golf was really fun!  Music Man kept saying, "Gosh, this is really going fast.  I didn't think this would go so fast!"  He was right.  It's not like we were playing extreme speed mini golf by any means, but the course was empty, so we were getting through it quickly.  We got a good view of the attached water park at the third hole.  I'd never seen it before, so we stood for a moment just taking it in.  It's a pretty cool looking place with all sorts of giant water slides and other things. 

At around the seventh hole (it was only a nine hole course), Music Man was getting ready to hit for par on the hole.  "Ladies and gentlemen, quiet on the course please.  Music Man, putting for par." I said in my best golf announcer's voice, thinking I was insane and envisioning him running across the parking lot to the police station as I said it.  He looked at me like maybe I was a bit crazy, but smiled and hit his ball.  He missed the hole.  I was horrified.  "OH MY GOD!!!  I'm sooooo sorry!  I totally broke your concentration!" I screeched, truly horrified.  He laughed and hit the ball into the hole.

We finished up mini golf within a half hour.  We stopped on the sidewalk by the parking lot and both had a smoke.  Music Man started adding up our scores.  As he did so, he realized he'd stolen the mini golf pencil.  We debated as to whether or not it was really theft and whether or not he should return it.  I told him they probably had millions, and that part of our three-dollar fee probably paid for that pencil, so he could probably just keep it as a souvenir.  He agreed.  When I thought he'd finished adding up our scores, I asked what the verdict was.  He said he had to recount.  I laughed and playfully asked, "Do I need to audit these scores?!?!"  He smiled as he showed me the card.  I'd won by a point.  We agreed that we were pretty evenly matched in our mini golf skills.

As we finished smoking, Music Man asked the question I was hoping he would, "So, do you want to hang out for a while longer?"  I answered in the affirmative, and after a bit of discussion, we decided to head over to a bar/restaurant called Jake's for drinks and conversation.  We arrived there at around quarter to eight, and the place was totally packed.  We ended up parking at practically opposite ends of the parking lot and meeting at the front door.  I let Music Man lead the way to finding seats inside.  When the waitress finally asked if we'd like to order drinks, about twenty minutes after we got there, I ordered a Corona with lime.

I thought beer was a cheap and casual choice.  Music Man asked about what kind of wine they had, and the waitress said she'd get a wine list, but he told her not to worry about it and ordered a Jack and Coke instead.  We settled into conversation.  We talked about everything.  The conversation flowed incredibly well.  We laughed a lot.  Jake's is the kind place that lowers the lights as it gets later.  I noticed the lights getting dimmer and dimmer as we talked and laughed on and on.  We kept finding more and more commonalities between us, which was awesome.  One of the most important is that we both have crazy families, with lots of drama, but we both would still do anything for our families.  That's just amazingly cool.  There are definitely enough differences between us to keep things interesting too.

After we'd finished our drinks, Music Man asked if I'd like another.  I told him I'd have another drink if he did, so he asked the waitress to get us another round.  We continued talking.  I found out that Music Man had developed a back up plan in case of rain.  How cool is that?!?!?  He'd called Grand Slam, which is at about the halfway point between where we both lived, and found out that they had indoor mini golf.  Way to plan ahead!  Color me impressed.  I thought that was really cool that he'd wanted to be prepared, and that he’d wanted the date to go forward regardless of the weather.

I don't know how the conversation came up, but we ended up talking about just how nervous we both had been.  Neither of us has ever done "this kind of thing" before, so it was totally out of character for both of us.  We both admitted that we couldn't believe we'd taken the steps we had:  Him posting the ad, me emailing him, him asking me to call, me calling, him asking me out, etc.  Of course, I didn't reveal that I'd thrown up when getting ready to go out.  That was not a picture of me that I wanted in Music Man's head.

I was super relieved to find out that he was just as nervous as I had been.  He said, "I thought for sure that as soon as I got out of the truck I was gonna hear you yell 'NEXT!' as you turned around and walked away."  I told him that the thought hadn't even crossed my mind, and he seemed pleased to hear that.  Apparently, he too had thought that I might cancel our date.  We agreed that it was ridiculous how nervous we both had been; especially considering how good our phone conversations had gone.  We laughed at ourselves for being so ridiculous.  It felt good to laugh over something that now seemed so incredibly silly.

When the waitress came to ask if we wanted another drink or if we wanted to close our tab, we both just looked at each other.  Sensing that it was getting late, and already feeling quite warm from the two beers I'd had, I said that I was okay and didn't need another drink.  Music Man asked her to bring the check, confirming my decision.  When she walked away, he said, "I wonder what time it is anyway."  I pulled my cell phone out of my purse, checked it, and was very surprised when I announced that it was 10:30.  Music Man seemed just as surprised, "It's bedtime!" he exclaimed.  "I know!  It totally is!" I replied.  We both expressed our surprise at how quickly the time had passed; we'd completely just lost track of time.

When the waitress returned with the check, Music Man got out his wallet to pay.  I started pulling mine out of my purse and he said, "I'll pay for the cocktails."  "Are you sure?" I asked in mild protest knowing that I should, and was going to, let him pay.  He nodded.  We continued to chat as the waitress collected the check and we waited for her to bring back change.

Out in the parking lot, things got a bit awkward as neither of us seemed sure how to end the evening.  We continued chatting as we walked to the halfway point between our cars.  I didn't know what to say.  I started getting nervous again.  Music Man rescued me by saying that this had been really fun.  I agreed.  He asked if I'd like to get together again sometime, and I said that I definitely would.  He asked what my weekend looked like.  I told him that it was pretty open, so he said, "Well, how about Saturday?  We could go to the Science Museum to see the body exhibit?"

We'd discovered in the course of our conversation throughout the night that seeing Body Worlds was on both of our summer "to do" lists.  I was pleasantly surprised that he'd come up with such a fantastic idea.  We agreed that he'd call me Friday night so that we could set a time and firm up the details.  Then, we both stood there awkwardly.  Finally, we moved towards each other and hugged.  As we did so, we both said again that it had been a good time.  As I started to walk to my car, I said, "Okay, I'll talk to you Friday then."  "Yay!" He exclaimed as he walked to his truck.  I could hear the smile in his voice.  What a great way to end the date!!

When I got home, the apartment parking lot was packed as usual.  I was forced to park in front of the building and to use the front door, which I don't normally use.  How serendipitous that, as I entered the building, I saw a FedEx notice on the door with my apartment number on it.  My new contact lenses were here much sooner than I'd thought they would be.  Cool!  What a good sign.  It was a message.  I'd gotten the good, fun date that I deserved.

AFTERTHOUGHTS
It's far too early to say how things will turn out with Music Man.  It's far too early for me to declare any feelings either way.  I'll say this:  It's new, and that's exciting; not scary.  He seems like a really nice guy.  I have never met anyone like him before.  I like him, and I get the impression that he likes me.  We have lots in common, but there are also so many new things he can expose me too like the clubs that he plays at in Minneapolis, for example.  I had so much fun!  I'm really glad I went on this date, and I'm excited for our date on Saturday.  No matter what, I think that worst case I'm going to end up with a really cool friend to have some fun times with.  That's not half bad!

One of the most important things I got out of last night was a renewed and profound sense of pride.  I'm so proud of myself for stepping so far out of my comfort zone!  I learned that it's good to take risks.  You may end up quite pleasantly surprised, which I definitely was.  I learned that, while neurotic at times, I am strong and confident.  I can totally do this dating thing!!  Who would've thought?!??!  Surely not me.

It was only weeks ago that I was saying that I'd never date and definitely wouldn't search online.  I believe I said, "I'm not going to search for a relationship the same way I'd look for a job!"  I regret saying that.  I am officially announcing, right here and right now, that I was wrong.  It can work.  You can meet decent, nice people.  I'm so glad that I didn't hold myself to that archaic, naive, and scared level of thinking.

Right now, I'm just gonna let the chips fall where they may.  No matter what happens, I'm happy, which I know I deserve.  I just feel so good—centered, calm, strong, capable, and confident.  I've completely surprised myself with my actions and am completely amazed with the results.  I went out on an actual date, with a stranger, and had a really good time.  There's no way I could ask for much more than that!

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Monday, May 24, 2010

B for Birthday!

Well, I’m officially another year older, and thanks to a few semesters of college courses, I can say I’m another year wiser too! I know all sorts of crap about rocks and international film. You know, all the important stuff!

As I alluded to in my previous post, I had an awesome birthday weekend. Music Man had said we’d celebrate my birthday together on Saturday (a day early), because we had plans to go to my mom’s on Sunday for a family get together. Friday night I got to spend time just relaxing while Music Man ran around town trying to find a bike for my nephew.

The bike story is kind of a long one, but I’ll try to summarize it. Basically, my mom promised Li’l D a new bike if he was good all week; good defined as no potty accidents and good behavior. He worked hard to earn his reward. The problem? My mom couldn’t afford the $80 bike. She should’ve known this when she promised it to him, but she opened her mouth and made the promise anyway. Then, she called me to bail her out.

Now, if my nephew were a little older than four, I would’ve made my mom explain to him that she’d made a promise she couldn’t keep; that even though he’d worked his butt off, he wouldn’t be getting a bike. However, I know how hard my nephew had to work to keep up his end of the bargain, and I felt he deserved the bike. There was still a second problem though: my mom promised Li’l D a bike they’d found online at a big box store’s website.

Music Man went to two different stores during his lunch break on Friday and had no luck finding the bike. He called at least four other stores as well, only to be told that they also didn’t have the bike. So, he ran out to the last store that might have had one on Friday. Thankfully he was able to get the last one. Once again, auntie and uncle (mostly uncle) saved the day!

(Li'l D posing with his new bike!)

Music Man and I spent the rest of the night catching up on shows Tivo had recorded for us throughout the week, and I got my first birthday present from him and the dogs later in the evening. I don’t think I’ve ever told you this, lovely reader, but I have an obsession with fun, different pens. (As long as the ink is blue; I will not—cannot—write with black ink.) That being said, I was delighted to receive a red Crayola Executive Pen from my husband and “kids.”

It’s something I probably never would’ve bought myself, which makes it an awesome gift. It will certainly make the anticipated hell of summer classes a little more fun!

We woke up to nasty weather on Saturday. A thunderstorm was brewing, coloring the sky gray and stirring up crazy wind. Music Man gave me my birthday gift from the kids. It’s a beautiful collage frame containing one of my favorite wedding pictures of us and two of my favorite pictures of the dogs.

I also got the cutest card! It had a picture of a Pug with big red lips on the front, and inside it read, “Pugs and Kisses on your birthday!” Dexter* had “signed” it, “I da Pug. Love, Dex,” and Lucy* had signed it, “I da Kisses. Love, Lucy.” It’s adorable, because it’s so true; Dexter is, of course, a Pug, and Lucy looooooves to give kisses, even if (especially if) they’re not wanted.

Music Man ran out to get our favorite breakfast sandwiches from Panera Bread, and we lazed around drinking coffee. I eventually dozed off on the couch and had a really nice nap with the dogs curled up next to me.

After I was showered and dressed for the day, Music Man handed me money and sent me off to get a pedicure and manicure at the nail salon down the street. It’s become tradition that I get my first pedicure of the summer season at or around my birthday, so I was really looking forward to it. I wasn’t expecting Music Man to pay for it, but he insisted.

I got the deluxe spa pedicure, which involved sitting in one of those electronic massage chairs while my feet and legs (from the knee down) were pampered. The spa part includes bath salts in the foot bath, followed by the feet and lower legs getting slathered in moisturizing gel and covered with hot towels, followed by an exfoliating mud treatment, followed by a foot and leg massage, and finally a hot stone foot and leg massage. It was fantastic!!

I hate feet in general (particularly my feet) and I hate people touching my feet, but I love a good pedicure. It always amazes me that the salon technicians seem to know how to get through it without tickling my feet. They make it a nice, relaxing experience and afterwards I can’t help but to stare at my transformed feet and pretty toes.


(For those who questioned my webbed toes in Wayback Wednesday - Part 2)

Shortly after I got home, the mailman arrived. Music Man was thrilled; he had been cursing the late arrival of the mail all day. Shortly after a package was delivered to our door, Music Man told me it was time for my “big” birthday gift (as though I hadn’t already been spoiled enough!). I cannot even begin to describe how surprised and thrilled I was when I opened my birthday card to find concert tickets…

In the end of August, I’m going to see LADY GAGA!!!!! My BFF, who from here on shall be known as Rockstarr in this blog (per her request), and I have been talking about going to the concert for a while now. Gaga’s shows have been compared to Madonna in the 80’s; in other words, SPECTACULAR! Rockstarr and I like Gaga and her music, and we’ve heard the theatrics and costumes are such a site to see! Now, we’re going!!!

Music Man was thrown into a minor panic last week when I unknowingly and nonchalantly told him that Rockstarr and I were thinking about trying to get tickets, because even the overpriced crappy seats we were finding would be better than no seats. Our interest in tickets had been reignited by previews for next week’s episode of Glee, in which the cast is going to tackle some Lady Gaga songs. Good thing Music Man and Rockstarr are friends on Facebook, because he was able to tell her to stop looking for and talking about tickets. I don’t know how either of them managed to keep this secret from me!

Music Man is horrible at keeping secrets, and he’s kept this one for a while now. He was running around the house all week last week talking about how excited he was for my birthday and how he couldn’t wait to give me my gift. I thought for sure he’d spill the secret by the middle of the week, but he didn’t. The tickets arrived later than he thought they would; he thought he’d have them well before Saturday, which is why he was so antsy for the mailman.

The tickets he got are awesome—Rockstarr and I are gonna have kick ass seats! Apparently Music Man used to play in a band with a guy who’s working as a roadie on Gaga’s tour. The guy didn’t want the tickets he was given for the Minnesota show, because his wife wasn’t going to be able to use them, so he sold them to Music Man.

I cannot believe he got me such a fantastic gift! I am so freakin’ excited for the end of August! Classes will have been over for a couple weeks by then, so it will be a nice way to go out and celebrate surviving the summer of hell.

Music Man had made dinner reservations at one of my favorite local seafood restaurants for Saturday evening, so we went out and had a delicious dinner that included shrimp scampi and coconut shrimp. Overall, a fabulous birthday thanks to my incredible husband! I don’t know how I got so lucky to find such an amazing, thoughtful, loving, caring husband, but I cherish him every single day.

Thanks to Music Man, I got to sleep in for about an hour on Sunday morning. Usually, we both get up when the dogs wake us up early in the morning, but Music Man got up with them and left me to sleep. Music Man took me out to breakfast at IHOP, because I’ve wanted to try the cheesecake pancakes. They were pretty disappointing, but then again, it was IHOP. If I’d wanted a better breakfast, I should’ve chosen a better place.

Late Sunday afternoon, we went to my mom’s house for a family get together. In our 32 years on this Earth, there has only been one birthday that I can remember where my brother and I didn’t get to celebrate together, so I was really happy to hear that I’d be celebrating with him, and the rest of our family, this year at our mom’s house. The weather was brutal—super humid and very hot—but we had a good time relaxing, spending time with family, watching Lil’D ride his new bike, and watching both of my nephews and my niece swim in the kid pool my mom had setup for them.

Mom made a great dinner that included various salads—the perfect meal for a sticky, hot, humid day. My sister, a baker and pastry chef, made a heavenly trifle with chocolate cake, strawberries, and pastry cream for dessert. It was so, so good! After enjoying a few hours with the family, Music Man and I headed home to relax and prepare for the week ahead.

Overall, it was an incredibly fantastic birthday weekend!

(A not great picture of my twin and I on our birthday. Please forgive the awful hair and shiny face--it was so hot and humid!)


* The dogs used to be referred to as Wiggly (Lucy, the Boston Terrier) and Bug (Dexter, the Pug), but it’s a lot easier to just tell you their names. There’s no good reason to have my dogs remain incognito in my blog; except to confuse me, and I deal with confusion often enough as it is. No sense in making things more complicated than they need to be!

While we’re at it, my “real” name is Michelle. I shortened it to Elle for this blog, because I figured there was less of a chance of certain family members recognizing me if they happened to stumble on this blog. I recently realized that: (1) the likelihood of that is slim to none and (2) there are enough details and pictures here to give it away anyway.

Music Man will remain Music Man in this blog until such time as he tells me he’s comfortable enough for me to reveal his name. As it stands, he likes the nickname I came up with for him; so much so that he uses it on Twitter.

What I write here is the truth as I see it. It’s my views and personal thoughts on my life. In the unlikely event that certain family members were to find the blog, they’d still have the choice not to read it. If they choose to snoop around, and read something they didn’t like, that’s on them. I figure I’ll cross that bridge if I ever come to it. (For those of you out there who know me in real life, I’m not saying you should go sending the link to my blog to the whole family. You all know and understand why.)

Whew! Glad to have gotten all of that out of the way, lovely reader! I hope that none of this “news” was too groundbreaking or Earth shattering!

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

W for Winners!!!

Thanks to everyone who played along with the Chocoloate giveaway!! I wish I could give gift certificates for fabulous chocolate to all of you!

I've had a fantastic birthday weekend, which I'll tell you all about later. In honor of turning 32 today, I decided to pick two winners and to upgrade the Chocomize gift certificates to $15 each in order to allow the winners to purchase a couple bars and pay for shipping. I used random.org to pick the winners. Without further ado, the lucky winner of the chocolate giveaway are:


and

ChristineRaised Queer

Congratulations, ladies! Please email me from the email address you'd like me to send the gift certificate to!

This has been so much fun, lovely reader, that I promise there will be more giveaways in the future. I hope you had a wonderful weekend!!

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Friday, May 21, 2010

R for Reminder

Just a quick reminder, lovely reader, that my chocolate giveaway ends Sunday, May 23, at 7 p.m. central. That's just a couple short days away!

Don't forget to enter by commenting on this post: CHOCOLATE!

Already commented? Have you come up with any other fun flavor combinations? Increase your chances of winning by commenting again!

Oh, and have a fantastic weekend, lovely reader!

P.S. I promise I have some real posts with substance coming soon, so stay tuned!

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

W for Wayback Wednesday (Part 2)

Before we jump into the Wayback Machine today, lovely reader, I want to remind you to enter my birthday chocolate contest!! The deadline is Sunday, May 23, 7 p.m. central. Good luck!

Welcome to another edition of Wayback Wednesday! If you'd like to, you can catch up by reading Part 1 first. We’re gonna jump into the Wayback Machine and travel to Tuesday, August 22, 2006…

So this is what a heart attack feels like!!

I think if I were anymore nervous and/or excited about tomorrow, I'd probably spontaneously combust!

I gave myself a pedicure tonight.  My toenails are a cute sparkly peachy-pink color called "golden sand" and fingernails are soon to follow.  As I sit here waiting for my toenails to dry, I'm thinking about which sandals I'll wear to play mini golf tomorrow.  Then, I'm horrified when I realize that maybe I shouldn't wear sandals at all.  WHAT WAS I THINKING?!??  Why did I paint my toenails?!?!?  Why did I want to draw attention to my weird toes?!?!?  I think it's way too early for M to find out about my weird, webbed toes.  Yes, you read that right.  WEBBED!!  

The first and second toes on each foot are connected more than they should be.  I've been told it's not tremendously noticeable if I don't point it out, and if people don't know what they're looking for, but why risk it?!?!?  Why don't I think these things through?  I totally should've waited to start dating until fall. You know, real shoe season.  Then, I'd have plenty of time for a guy to fall madly in love with me before he realizes I have odd toes.  Oh god.  I think I'm going to stop breathing.

1....2...3...breathe...4...5...6...brea-- Oh, screw it!  Counting to ten and breathing isn't going to help!!!  I'll just have to wear the sandals that hide those toes, but still show some of my cutely painted toenails.  I mean I seriously tested the boundaries of my flexibility trying to paint the damn things in the first place!  I've gotta at least show them off a little bit.  Yeah.  Okay, that'll work!  Now, I just have to rethink my whole outfit to go with those particular sandals.  Dammit!!!  It totally sucks being a girl sometimes!  Geeeeeeeeeez.  Well, at least this all gives me something to do instead of sitting here worrying about how tomorrow will go.

One of my biggest fears at this point:  I show up, see him, he sees me, and then he pretends he's not him so that he can leave.  How horrifying will that be??!?!?  Odds of that happening, I think, are slim to none.  I mean he seems like a really cool, really nice guy and he seems to like me so far.  He asked me out, for cryin' out loud, so I don't know why I worry so much.  My other fear is that, after our short game of mini golf, he'll decide to just go home.  "Well, that was fun.  See ya later," he'll say as he walks away, never to be heard from again.  Again, probably being ridiculous, I know.  I just can't help it though!!!

This dating thing is so nerve-wracking.  With the way my mind (and heart) races, the shaking, and the sweating, I think dating should really be considered an extreme sport.  I don't know why I thought I was ready for this!!!!

I know I'm not going to sleep a wink tonight.  I barely slept at all last night.  It was ridiculous--all the thoughts running through my mind, both good and bad.

T minus 22.5 hours and counting!  Ohmygodohymgodohmygodohmygod...I don't know if I'm gonna make it!!!!!!!!  I feel like I'm having a heart attack.  If I feel like this right now, I'm going to be a complete frickin' mess tomorrow.  I must find something to make me calm down!!!!

I'm off to paint my fingernails.  If I can quit shaking long enough to actually do a decent job, that is...

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Friday, May 14, 2010

C for Chocolate Confessions (Giveaway Inside!)

I have a confession to make, lovely reader. I’ve been keeping a secret from you. I’m not going to try to make excuses for why, but I do want to apologize. I should’ve told you about this much sooner…

Back at the beginning of April, Jenny Mac at Let’s Have a Cocktail wrote a post that introduced me to Chocomize. Chocolate lover that I am, I was intrigued. Upon checking out the Chocomize website, I was blown away. I swear to you, lovely reader, I heard angels singing. If you love chocolate, or if you know someone who does, you simply must check out Chocomize.

The concept is simply genius: they sell chocolate bars that you can customize yourself. The process is simple and fun. First, you get to pick your chocolate base, and the whole spectrum is available: Dark (56.8% cocoa content), Milk (33.6% cocoa content), and White. After you’ve completed this step, the real fun begins. You get to choose the ingredients to create your dream candy bar, and you can select up to five decadent ingredients per bar.

The ingredients list is broken out into a few categories: Nuts & Seeds, Fruits, Herbs & Spices, Candy, Decorations, and Other. The options are nearly endless, guaranteeing that you will have a hard time making decisions. You will be amazed. There are, of course, the obvious ingredients one would think of combining with chocolate such as: almonds, peanuts, dried strawberries and cranberries, toffee pieces, and caramel pieces. Then, there are the more exotic ingredients: Edamame, Wasabi Peas, Goji Berries, Cayenne Pepper, Hot Curry Powder, and Beef Jerky to name just a few. The decorations are also fun and unique, ranging from edible plaques that have messages such as “Happy Birthday” to the more opulent 23-karat gold flakes and crystallized Violet petals.

Jenny Mac had a giveaway going on her blog, but I just couldn’t wait that long; especially considering the odds that I might not win. Music Man and I used the discount code she provided to order six bars of chocolate, four for me and two for him. I know; I sound like a complete glutton. When it comes to chocolate, I will freely admit that I am! I did it for you, lovely reader, in the name of research. I had to try each type of chocolate, and when I saw that they had an option for ordering from a menu of favorite popular flavors, I had to order at least one of those!

Also, did you know chocolate has health benefits? (I can justify anything. Oh yes, I can.) Well, it does. I’ve heard/read that fact in lots of places. I can’t think of any particular article or anything to link you to right this minute, but trust me on this. If you really don’t believe me, well: (1) why not?!?! I thought we had something, lovely reader! and (2) use your google-fu; you will find something about the health benefits of chocolate.

Oh, I almost completely forgot to mention another really cool thing! In addition to customizing your own chocolate, you get to pick a name for the bar. The creativity just doesn't quit! The name is actually printed on the candy bar packaging, which, by the way, is very cool. The bar is contained in a cellophane type bag that is resealable, which is inside a cardboard sheath with a large, enticing see through window that taunts you with the chocolately goodness inside. A label on the back lists ingredients and the name of your bar.

Now, the part you’ve been waiting for…I have to tell you about how the chocolate tasted! I have an obsession with the combination of dark chocolate, caramel, and sea salt lately, so that was the first bar I tried. (I named this one the Salty Dog.) It was incredible!!! The dark chocolate was everything dark chocolate should be: rich, sweet, and slightly bitter. Chocomize puts the selected ingredients on one side of the bar, and the other side is scored for easy portion control sharing. The caramel pieces and sea salt were spread generously, and fairly evenly, over the entire bar.

Music Man selected dark chocolate with cinnamon and cayenne pepper. I named his bar Hot and Spicy Chocolate, and it was amazing! If you haven’t tried cinnamon with chocolate, you’re totally missing out, and the cayenne added the expected kick while also enhancing the flavor of the dark chocolate.

I tried the milk chocolate next. I chose two milk chocolate bars: (1) Smore (one of the popular favorites), which had mini marshmallows and graham teddies and (2) my creation called Double Chocolate Strawberry, which included dried strawberries and dark chocolate chips. I love Smores, so I simply couldn’t pass up this non-messy version of a smore, and I'm glad I didn't...it was absolutely delicious! The strawberry chunks in the Double Chocolate Strawberry bar were huge, and again generously covered the bar; they tasted incredibly delicious combined with the milk chocolate and dark chocolate chips. The milk chocolate was perfect—smooth and sweet.

Finally, we tried the white chocolate. The bar I named Tropic Explosion had pineapple dices, mango dices, coconut flakes, and Macadamia nuts. Generally, I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate, but a true scientist sometimes has to make sacrifices in the name of research. The white chocolate is smooth and creamy; combined with the fruits and nuts I selected, it was very tasty. Music Man’s white chocolate with coconut flakes and diced lemon peel was also very good.

I enjoyed the chocolate and the experiences of customizing my own perfect candy bars so much that I will most definitely be ordering again. The four bars I had have lasted me over a month (see? I have self-restraint!), but they're now almost gone. I will be placing a new order as soon as I can decide which of the dozens of combinations I have floating around in my head I'd like to try next. Chocomize has definitely secured me as a repeat customer!

Have I made you hungry, lovely reader? Are you drooling?! If so, 
you’re going to be so excited about the news I’m about to share. In honor of my upcoming birthday, and to apologize for not revealing this secret sooner, I’m hosting my first blog giveaway! One lucky reader will win the chance to customize his or her own chocolate bars by winning a $10 gift card to Chocomize! The rules are simple:

1.     First Entry: You must be a follower of my blog. Let me know in the comment section that you are following.

2.    Next Entry: Go to Chocomize and take a look at the ingredient options, then come back and leave a comment telling me how you’d customize your bars if you won! (I have so many ideas for future orders already, but I’m nosey. Also, I think I can learn a lot about you, lovely reader, based on your chocolate preferences.)

The deadline is Sunday, May 23 (my twin brother’s birthday). I will use a random number generator to pick the winner. Good luck, lovely reader!!


Important Note: Chocomize did not compensate me in any way for this review. The gift certificate is coming out of my own pocket. I just get really excited when I fall in love with cool small businesses, and want to share the news of my discoveries with the world!

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

W for Wayback Wednesday (Part 1)

Before jumping into the first in the new series I'll call Wayback* Wednesday, I have to say that I have the best, most lovely readers and bloggy friends in the whole wide world! Thank you all so much for your support, encouragement, advice, and positive thoughts. You all are so beyond wonderful that I’m finding myself at a loss for words as I try to think of a way to tell you all how much you mean to me. Just know that I appreciate and adore every single one of you!!

I’m gonna leave the heavy stuff behind for today and lighten up a little bit. This is the first in a series I’ll call Wayback Wednesday. I was thinking about doing Flashback Friday, but I thought it might be a little more fun to do this smack dab in the middle of the week. I hope you enjoy this post, lovely reader!

(*I am aware that it should be two words. Call it artistic license. It just looks better to me that way, so I'm leaving it.)



Welcome to the first in the series of my Wayback Wednesdays! We’re gonna jump into the Wayback Machine and travel to Monday, August 21, 2006…

I HAVE A DATE!!!!! 

I'm sure you remember the guy I met online, the one I barely mentioned in my last post (Editor's Note: You, lovely reader, will not remember this because you weren't reading this on my myspace blog back in 2006; back then I wrote as though I were talking directly to my friends/family.); we'll call him M, since that's his first initial and I'm not yet ready to reveal his full name.  Well, after a week of emailing back and forth, and the obligatory "This is an awful photo of me, but it gives you kind of an idea what I look like" exchange, he said, "I have to say that you sound great!"  He also said that he thought that I was "a very smart, sassy, and fun girl" with whom he could definitely get along.  Cool, huh?!?!?!

So, he asked if I would consider calling him and he gave me his phone number.  He said he didn't want to be too forward, but he thought that there's only so much that can be said through email.  I agreed, and I didn't think he was being too forward.  We decided I'd call him Friday evening.  It was a phone date!

Oh. My. GAWD.  I cannot even being to tell you what a wussy dork I was all day Friday.  I was a complete freakin' basket case!  I was really freaking out.  BFF kept me cool. She kept reminding me that it was just a phone call.  I kept telling myself that the worst thing that will happen is that we won't click, and oh well.  I mean, I'd already gone way out of my comfort zone in the first place by responding to the guy's ad, so what was to stop me from going a little further and actually calling him?

I had been so impressed with myself for stepping so far out of my comfort zone already, and I'd obviously survived it, so I'd survive this too.  When I got home from work, I showered in order to help calm me down and to "look good" for the phone call.  Don't ask.  Like I said, I was a fucking whack job.  I decided I'd call him at 7.  He'd said he'd be home from work by 6:30, and I wanted to give him a little time to unwind before I called.

At a few minutes before 7, I dialed five of the seven digits.  I promptly hung up the phone after dialing that fifth number.  My hands were shaking, I was sweating, my chest felt tight.  It was utterly ridiculous!  I was just dialing a phone for god's sake!!!!  Finally, at exactly 7 o'clock, I dialed all seven numbers.  The phone rang twice, and I started freaking out that he wasn't going to answer.  Oh wait!!!  Maybe that was a good thing—yeah—I could just leave him a message that way; it shows that I made an effort by calling, and now the ball's in his court.  (Hey, I totally admit I was being ridiculous.)

He answered after the third ring.  We said our hellos and immediately launched into a conversation about everything.  It was like we were two old friends catching up—totally comfortable with each other—and talking about whatever came to mind.  The conversation wasn't awkward at all, ever.  There were no moments of silence; either he was asking me questions, or I was asking him questions, or we were telling stories of our lives, work, family, and friends.  We ended up talking for two hours!  It was such an awesome conversation!  We have a lot in common, and he's a really interesting, really nice guy.

Some quick stats:  He's 29, rides a motorcycle in the summer (which worries me a bit), has some tattoos, plays in a band (stand up string bass and guitar), is working to become a pharmacist, is close to his family, and likes pets.  Oh, and the weirdest thing of all?!?!?  He lives less than two miles away from me!!!  Fate?  Who knows.

He had joked in one of our prior emails that he'd felt like he was entering into a situation similar to the show "Next" on MTV.  For anyone that hasn't seen the show (Oh, admit it, you've seen it!), the premise is that one person is looking for a date.  They put five possible dates on a bus.  The possible dates get off the bus one at a time to meet, and briefly interact with, the dater.  If the dater doesn't like the person, they say "Next!" sending the possible dater back onto the bus and allowing one of the other possible daters a chance at romance.  The possible date that didn't work out gets a dollar for every minute they spent with the dater.  It's a horrible show; like a train wreck--you want to look away, but you can't help but to watch in horrified fascination.

So, anyway, back to my point.  I responded to his analogy of the situation by saying, "Well, I hope I don't get ‘nexted’ too soon, and if I do, I hope it's not because you decided to make me wear some kind of ridiculous outfit, realized I looked ridiculous, and then kicked me back to the bus."  He responded that it was a horrible analogy and that there would be no crazy outfits or strange buses.  It was very fitting then, that an hour and a half into our conversation he said, "Elle, you've been talking to me for over ninety minutes now.  You can either take a fictional ninety dollars, or you can go on a date with me."  I just about died.  How clever!  We already have our own inside joke!!!!  (Well, guess not, now that I shared it.  Well, if you ever meet him, pretend you don't know the "Next Joke," 'k?)  I responded that, while I could probably do so many cool things with that fictional ninety dollars, I thought I'd have more fun on a date.

We made tentative plans for Wednesday.  I wish I could tell you every word of our conversation, because it was sooooo cool.  I can't though because (a) it would take forever to transcribe a two-hour phone conversation, and (b) some things should be, and are, sacred.

I was just thrilled.  M seemed so nice and was definitely funny, and we really seemed to click.  Neither of us has ever done this before (this being "internet dating"), so we commiserated over how nervous we both had been and still where.  He sounded so excited to meet me Wednesday, and I know I'm excited.  He told me he hoped I had a fun weekend, I told him the same, and he said he'd call me to confirm our date.  I barely slept at all Friday night.  I was just too giddy; I just didn't know what to do with myself!!!

When I didn't hear from him Sunday, I got a little worried. I didn't remember when he'd said he'd call, so I just tried not to think about it.  I worried all day today about whether or not he'd call.  I was really getting myself worked up over it.  I really, really, really wanted him to call.  He finally did at around 7.  We now have a definite date set.  We'll be playing mini golf, meeting there at 7 (seems to be our magic hour!).  Then, we're just going to play it by ear.  Maybe that's it. Maybe we just play mini golf.  Maybe not.  Maybe things go well and we decide to go for a quick drink or something.  Who knows?  All I can tell you is that I'm too freakin' excited.

It's ridiculous!  I feel like a teenager again or something!  I was bouncing all around the apartment tonight after we got off the phone. I know that I'm going to be a complete and total wreck leading up to Wednesday at 7.  It's going to be horrible.  My heart already races just thinking about it.  I'm so nervous!!!!  I keep telling myself that, worst case, I get a friend out of the deal. 

I think the important part is that I actually did this!  I responded to an ad, emailed back and forth, worked up to a phone call, and now have a date scheduled.  I mean, holy crap!  I've entered the dating world!!!  WTF?!?!?  How'd that happen?!?!? Okay, I'm off to do more bouncing in the hopes that I can get rid of some energy and actually sleep tonight.  WISH ME LUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Friday, May 7, 2010

F for F- - -ed up Family

Lovely reader, I’m going to apologize up front for this post. It is a brain dump of negativity that I write more for me to get it out than for you to read. My feelings will not be hurt if you choose to skip this one.

I called my mom this morning to figure out what time she’d prefer we go to brunch on Sunday for Mother’s Day. As usual, no conversation with my mother can be simple or pleasant. Instead, I got all of my family’s current problems dumped on my shoulders. Let me tell you; my family is a mess. They are all falling apart, and I don’t really know what to do about it…

My mom and her husband live with his 18 year-old son with Asperger’s and my 4 year-old nephew, Li’l D. Mom’s deadbeat husband quit his job a few months ago, because he had back pain issues. Why he had to quit his job as a school bus driver, where he basically sits all day, is beyond me. Why he quit with nothing else lined up is just out of my realm of comprehension. Mom and her husband have always been the paycheck to paycheck types, so him not working for a few months has put them so far behind that they’re now apparently having trouble catching up.

Husband has a job now, but it’s another bus driving gig that apparently doesn’t pay well at all. So, he’s on the lookout for a new job, mom continues to work at her school bus driver job, and they are now seeking public assistance. Step brother is apparently making really bad choices lately and is acting out at an ever increasing rate. There have been talks about moving him to a group home, but mom’s husband is struggling with the decision for obvious reasons.

I worry about my nephew. I wonder if now’s the time for Music Man and I to seek custody. Then again, I have to remind myself that, if his mother were alive today, the life she’d be providing him would probably be quite similar. At twenty two years old, she’d be working a job that probably just barely paid the bills, and she’d probably be relying on public assistance for help with daycare and food.

In the mean time, my twin brother is apparently homeless once again. He struggles with a drug problem—marijuana mostly, from my understanding, though there has been speculation that he is using other drugs as well—and he is currently jobless. My dad and his wife had taken my brother in, but apparently the wife has kicked him out. Allegedly no reason was given. When my dad tried asking his wife why, he was apparently told that they would discuss it later.

I heard this all from my mom. My brother showed up at her place yesterday and broke down bawling when he got to the part of the story where my dad handed him $30 and said something about being sorry it didn’t work out. My brother looked at my dad and said, “I don’t need your money; I need a place to live.” At this point, I started crying at my desk at work. Not something I like to do.

To say that I’m disappointed in my dad and his wife is an understatement. Granted I don’t know all the facts, and I don’t know the wife’s reasons for making her decision, but still. My dad hasn’t been the greatest, most supportive dad. My parents divorced when I was five years old. Dad paid his child support, sure, but that was about it. We did eventually have visitation with him, and he would take us out to movies, bowling, camping, etc., but once we got to be 18 and child support was no longer mandated, his involvement in our lives seriously decreased. My stepdad was more of a dad to me than my dad ever was; however, he and my brother never really got along. As a result, my brother’s never really had a positive male role model in his life. He’s struggled with feeling unwanted and unloved by both our dad and stepdad.

This was my dad’s chance to be supportive of his son, to help him get back on his feet, and to show my brother that dad loves and cares about him, which is truly what my brother aches for. And dad blew it. I am beyond upset by this. I hurt so much for my brother.

Lest you think I unfairly villainize my father, know that I have issues with my mother too, but that’s a blog for another day (or another few days, because the issues are numerous). I will say that I am very disappointed in the fact that she seems to have written my brother off. After my brother told her he was going to stay at a friend’s house for the night, but didn’t know what he’d do after that, she told him to call her if he finds himself in a situation where he has no other option but to sleep in his car. (Aside: He found himself in that situation a couple times this winter, which broke my heart when I found out about it after the fact. Minnesota winters get dangerously cold and picturing my brother freezing overnight in his car gives me panic attacks.)

You’re thinking that my mom sounds pretty supportive right now, aren’t you? I mean, she did tell him to call if his situation gets anymore dire. Well, let me finish with what she told me: “I didn’t tell him that I wouldn’t be letting him stay here if he calls. I’d be putting him in the car and driving him to the mission.” Sensing my shock and horror over the fact that she’d take her son to a probably already overfilled homeless shelter instead of having him sleep on her couch, she tried covering with, “I think he’s at the point where he needs to hit rock bottom.” Wow. Just wow.

How can a mother even think about dropping her son off at a homeless shelter?!?! I understand that mom can’t take my brother in on a long-term basis because there is no room in their rented three bedroom townhouse. I also understand that my brother, as a grown ass adult, shouldn’t be relying on mommy for help. But it’s obvious that my brother has issues. He needs help, and I don’t just mean financially; he quite obviously needs some mental/emotional help as well.

Brother insists that he hasn’t smoked pot in over two weeks. He told mom that he realizes he needs to quit and that he needs to take control of his life; he’s sick of the way he’s living now. That’s all fine and good, but is it real? Once he gets a job and income again, will he start using again just as he has in the past?

I struggle with what I can do to help my brother. We are turning 32 years old on the 23rd, and it boggles my mind that his life is such a mess. He’s been in a downward spiral for a long time now, and it’s gotten so much worse since our youngest sister’s death. He admitted to me once that he isn't dealing with or coping with that loss well (or at all), and he promised me he'd look into counseling. Obviously, that didn't happen. I think he has hit rock bottom at this point.

Lastly, there’s my sister. My middle (now only) sister currently lives with her “ex” fiancé and their two children—my 9 year-old nephew and 4 year-old niece. Ex is in quotes because my sister says they are no longer together and that she doesn’t want to be with him anymore, but her actions tell a different story. Sister’s fiancé is an abuser—he has battered her quite a few times in the past, and it is not at all unlikely that he has abused (does abuse) his kids in some way as well. Sister keeps saying she’s going to leave, but she doesn’t.

I’m fed up with her whole situation. I’m appalled that her fiancé mistreats her and the rest of my family and many family members simply choose to ignore his behavior. For example, her fiancé told my husband to fuck off on our wedding day simply because my husband had asked him to remove his hat in the church, and my sister and my mother expected my husband and I to just let that go because fiancé was feeling offended that we didn’t involve him in the wedding in any way. I’m sickened by the mistreatment of my niece and abuse of my nephew. (I know my nephew has been abused. There was an incident at our house once where Music Man raised his voice to nephew because nephew had done something he was told not to. Music Man shouted, “Nephew, no!” Nephew cowered as though he were trying to avoid being hit and immediately panicked and became defensive, shouting, “I didn’t do it! It wasn’t my fault!”)

I’m fed up that my mom, who talks like some domestic violence warrior since my youngest sister’s death and serves on the local domestic violence coalition’s board, is all talk and no action. The only reason she's involved with the domestic violence coalition is that it gets her the attention she seems to be addicted to. She dubs herself an advocate, but when it comes to her own family, she sits back and does nothing. In fact, she continues to invite the ex fiancé to family events—holidays, birthday celebrations, etc. And, when sister was punched by fiancé (with her back turned and in front of her children no less) a few days after Thanksgiving, mom didn’t call the police to report it when my sister arrived at her house with the whole side of her torso bruised and two frightened children in tow!

I lost my youngest sister to domestic violence murder; I don’t want to lose this one too. (Yeah…there is a pattern there. My mom did not set the best example for us. I was fortunate enough to finally figure out that my prior relationship was abusive and that I needed to get out. I was also wise enough to realize that I needed help to deal with the aftermaths of the extreme emotional and sexual abuse I’d endured and to seek out that help. My sisters? Not so much.) As much as I want to, I can’t force sister to change her situation, and my advice (both solicited and unsolicited) and offers of help and support go unheeded. As a result, I’m forced to distance myself; perhaps trying to insulate myself from the pain that will come if I lose her too.

I’m pissed that she won’t put her kids first. This is no kind of life for them, and she should know this because it was no kind of life for us growing up either!! The bottom line is she’s not moving because she’s lazy and she’s scared. She doesn’t want to have to take care of her two kids completely by herself, and she doesn’t know how she’d make it on her own. Right now, her income is the only one supporting her family of four—deadbeat baby daddy has gotten fired from too many jobs to count—so she could conceivably support a family of three on her own. Still, she doesn’t leave. She just continues to make excuses to delay her move date. I’ve offered both financial and emotional support to help her move, and it doesn’t help.

I am overwhelmed. I feel as though I’m about to come unglued. Part of me wants to just turn my family off—turn my back on them unless or until they take control of their damn lives. How is it that I’m the only one who has it together?! Why am I the only responsible one?! Why do I feel like I have to fix all of these problems?! Why do I feel guilty that my life is so good compared to theirs?!? I’m so fucking sick of being the only goddamn responsible adult in this beyond dysfunctional family!

Music Man and I could logistically handle taking my brother in for a while. We have a mostly unused second bedroom that currently operates as a junk room storage room/office. I’d have to empty stuff out of in order to make room for bro to live in it, but it’s doable. However, we cannot afford to financially support my brother indefinitely. If bro had a job right now, it would be different. There’s also the issue of him needing help. I truly believe that, at the very least, he needs some counseling.

I’ll actually go a step further and say that I think he needs to be in some kind of treatment program; however, that costs money that he doesn’t have. In fact, the only way for him to get appropriate treatment at this point would be to basically become a ward of the state. He’d have to go to the state hospital and declare himself suicidal, he’d be put on a 72 hour hold and analyzed by a mental health professional, that professional would determine whether or not he needs treatment, and he would then be referred to the appropriate government program(s).

I could, and maybe should, take custody of Li'l D, but I worry about the impact that will have on my life and on my mom’s mental stability. I don’t think my mother would ever forgive me for taking him from her, and her already fragile psyche would probably be crushed into dust. Having that little part of my sister to take care of and dote on is the only thing that gets her out of bed some days! Based on his emotional issues and problems with even the smallest amount of change, I think that taking him from the only home he knows would hurt more than it would help at this point. I can’t be responsible for creating even more emotional issues for the little guy!

Since I have the means to do it (or at least the best means out of the whole family anyway), I feel as though I should take in my brother and/or my nephew. It would most certainly impact Music Man and me financially, and the emotional and mental toll would be large as well. I worry about the effects it would have on our marriage, and then I remind myself of how strong our marriage is and how much we’ve already weathered together. I will admit that I selfishly don’t want my and Music Man’s life to change. I like what we have. I like the way things are right now. I feel like we work hard for the things we have and have earned the right to just live our life. I’m so sick of sacrificing my needs for everyone else—I’ve done it my entire life!

On the other hand, what kind of person would I be if I let my brother go homeless?! I don’t know if I could live with myself if anything happened to him. As his twin, I feel as though I must do something. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always mothered my siblings; I’ve been burdened with the responsibility of caring for them since about the age of 10* due to the fact that my mom couldn’t afford to pay for childcare and was too focused on her dysfunctional relationship with my stepdad. (*My former therapist believes this has a lot to do with my decision to remain childfree, and I’m inclined to say that she’s absolutely right.)

I also feel a sense of obligation for my nephew. I was a second mother to my sister. Since I was ten years older than her, it was natural for me to help her out if she needed it, to shield her from our parents’ sometimes violent fights that would awaken us in the middle of the night, and to protect her when I knew she needed it or when she called on me to do so. I wonder how appalled she is that I’m not stepping in and taking over with my nephew. Would she have wanted me to do that? Is she disappointed in me?

I’m just at a complete loss right now. My head and my heart hurt, and I am emotionally exhausted. I wish I had all of the answers. I wish I could just magically fix everything—get everyone back on their feet. I’m stuck between wanting to do whatever I can to help and wanting to shout at them all to get their fucking lives in order and to leave me the hell alone until they do. I feel selfish for thinking about the mental and emotional toll this all has on me when they’re the ones suffering. I feel like a bitch for thinking that they’ve put themselves in these situations and now they need to fix them.

If life were easy, I’d layout my plan, they’d follow it, and everything would be fixed: Mom’s husband would take his son and go live with his mom while he tries to get his life back on track and realize what it takes to support a family. Brother would then move in with mom, find a job, and go to therapy/treatment. My sister would take her kids and move into an apartment on her own, being sure to check with the local domestic violence coalition for help on what she should do to protect herself and her children from her ex. (It is statistically proven that the majority of domestic violence murders happen after the victim leaves her abuser; my youngest sister became one of those statistics back in December of 2007.) However, that's not the way the world works. Life isn't easy. If I were to tell them all that this is the way things are going to be, they’d look at me as though I was the crazy one.

Instead, I’m going to recommend that my mom tell my brother to go to the hospital for a 72 hour hold and start on the path to treatment; baring that, he needs to try to get on unemployment and he needs to go to the workforce center to get help finding a job and/or returning to school, and then he needs to seek out therapy. Then, I will remind my mom that I can help out financially with my nephew. If she tells me what he needs, I can buy it for him. I can also give her grocery store gift certificates to help feed him. I will not give her cash, because I don’t trust her to spend it responsibly. Then, I’m going to remind her that she should call my stepdad (nephew’s grandpa) to let him know that she needs help. Again, he won’t give her cash, but he will give gift cards and he will make purchases that are necessary for my nephew.

That is all I can do at this point. It’s all I have in me. I just hope it's enough...
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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

O for Over(whelmed)

Well, yesterday was my last Geology class, dear reader. Yes; Geology is finally over!! It was a short class, which was nice, because I was home by a little after 7:30 versus a little after 9:30. We watched a video and took our final quiz. A few of us decided to wait around for the professor to correct the quizzes, but then he announced that he wouldn’t be able to do that, because his key was incorrect. He had put two questions on the quiz numbered 17, and he ended up having us cross one out, making his key incorrect.

I was surprised that we were not asked to complete a course evaluation. I have not taken a class yet where completing a course evaluation at the end of the course wasn’t required. I guess maybe they know how this professor and class will be scored, so they just let him forgo it, which is a bunch of crap if you ask me. Of all the classes I’ve taken, this one was the one I was most looking forward to evaluating. The professor’s teaching abilities were severely lacking, and the class location was ridiculous! Oh well. I guess I’ll just remember in the future not to take a class at this location ever again, if it can be helped.

While I would’ve liked to have known how I did on the quiz, I suspected that I had done about the same as on the last two quizzes. I didn’t find anything on the quiz to be too surprising and felt as though I had a pretty good grasp on the material. Really, what was most important to me was the final grade. I am super excited and pleased to report, lovely reader, that my final grade in Geology was an A!!!! I have managed yet again to maintain my 4.0! So, not only did I survive Geology, but I survived unscathed! Now I have three weeks off until the summer from hell starts.

Well, I shouldn’t say three weeks off, because that’s not entirely true. I do have to work on the Public Speaking Competency. It is my hope to have it finished up before classes start, so that all I’ll have to worry about is practicing the speech and arriving on the assigned date to give my speech and hand in my written materials. I’m confident that I’ll get it done within these next three weeks. I have to, because with the summer schedule being as hectic as it will be, I will not have time to work on it!

The good news is, once I complete this summer’s classes, I’ll be halfway through my associate’s degree! That’s awesome!!

It’s going to be a hard few weeks off and a hard summer though. People expect me to get together with them and to spend time with them now that I have free time again. It’s not that I don’t want to see or gather with friends or family, it’s just that I really need to spend my time wisely. I haven’t been feeling well lately—I’ve had massive headaches on and off and continue to suffer from extreme lack of energy. I think going off of my meds is playing a role, but I also think Minnesota’s early spring has created a helluva bad allergy season, and unfortunately all I can do is ride it out.

I hate making plans with people and then having to break them, and if I make plans too far in advance, I don’t know how I’ll be feeling when the time comes. Lately, too far in advance is only a week. For example, I had told my mom that Music Man and I would stop by this past weekend, but then I ended up not feeling well and sleeping the weekend away! We’ll see her this weekend for Mother’s Day, so I’m not too worried about it though.

We’ve been telling my stepdad that we’d like to have him and his girlfriend over for a barbecue for months now, and now that the weather’s nice enough to do it, they are starting to get a little impatient. So, Music Man and I have to sit down and figure out a gig-free weekend to have them over for a barbecue. Instead of looking at this as a burden, I need to look at is as a nice opportunity to spend time with family and to relax. I can’t help but to feel overwhelmed though.

When I know that people have these expectations of me, I get burnt out. I feel that I work so hard during the semester balancing school, work, and life, that the little free time I do get between semesters should be all mine. I should be able to nap my life away on the weekends and blog, watch TV, or knit on the weeknights if that’s how I choose to spend my time.

I get upset that people can’t just leave me alone and let me shut the world out for a moment; until I’m ready to rejoin life again. Sometimes I feel as though I’m too much of an introvert. I mean I love my family and friends to pieces and would do most anything for them, and yet I don’t want anything to do with them right now. I feel horrible just typing that!

Go ahead, lovely reader, just say it, “There are worse things in the world, Elle, than having people around who love you and want to spend time with you. STFU!” I know, I know, and you’re totally right. Still, I can’t help but to feel bitter and a little sorry for myself right now. I’m gonna wallow in my self-pity for a little bit longer and then I’ll move on.

I guess what it all boils down to is that I’m stressed out, wiped out, and overwhelmed, so I just want some time to catch my breath. But, I’ll make plans and will participate in family gatherings. I’ll try to schedule things so that at least one day of each weekend will be for downtime and/or time to work on the competency. I’ll even try to like it.

However, I will also be mindful of my time and the things I need to do. If that means only staying at a family gathering for an hour, then that will have to do. School needs to come first. I’m paying a lot of money and spending a lot of time trying to finish this degree so that I can move on to my bachelor’s, and ultimately, to a career I will find fulfilling and meaningful. Hopefully my family and friends can be supportive of my needs. If not, I guess I’ll just have to learn to be okay with being selfish.
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