The Knitting Journeyman

Gathering Up One Thread At A Time As I Weave This Web Of Mine.....

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What Started Out As About The Full Moon Dreamboard....Went Off To Tangentland...

            The Strawberry Full Moon.  Set in with a Solstice at the beginning of the week.  And a partial eclipse as well…
            That’s a great deal of cosmic power floating around in such a small space.
            I did not make a new dreamboard for this month.  As happens when I get into a bigger, more in-depth board, like last month’s, I tend to need to keep it around for a bit longer in order to work with it and work through it some more.
            Originally, I had planned to pick a piece of the larger dreamboard and work on that one area via a dreamboard this month.  It so did not happen.
            I know the move itself is over…but there is so much other stuff to do.
            It’s not always a good thing when you are moving into your best friend’s house, after watching what other women have done in the past, much less into a house where you once lived as a room-mate.  I have too much of my own personal ‘stuff’ about coming in and redoing everything and moving everything around. 
            When R and I had talked about moving in together before this…we talked about buying that third house, the bigger house, to move into…and that option took so much pressure off of me.  If we both move into a completely different house, then no one has established their presence or their dominance, no one is set in their ways, no toes are stepped on when things are put away…
            Not so when one party moves into the other party’s house.
            I don’t know why I insist upon making things so much more difficult than they need to be.  R has given me permission to move whatever I need to move in order to get everything settled in.
            I don’t want to move his stuff.  I don’t want to re-arrange everything.  I don’t know how to make things work this way.  I’ve never been confronted w the issues I am currently having.  I’ve never actually cared about someone as much as I care about R…and I am very sensitive to his space…even when he tells me to violate his space all I want.
            I don’t know how to maintain the integrity of his …demeanor? Reputation? I don’t really know how to put it… I am the airy fairy.  There’s a Guanyin statue at the front door now, outside, where everyone can see it.   I have my birds of happiness flying, but have not yet found a place for the elephants.  I come with a wide and varied assortment of Goddess and Virgin Mary statuary. 
            Not to mention, there’s art work to be hung, pictures of the kids to be hung…at least I did get rid of most of the silk flowers…I lived in the Dark for so long that silk flowers became an acceptable substitute for real…I still have a few, but the larger arrangements are all gone.
            There’s the fish tank, the table, all the stuff for the kids….the list goes on and on.  I have the rabbits…I have plants…we won’t even get into the whole I have books thing.

            I worked really hard this past month, moving everything out of one place and into his house.  I nearly had a break-down more than once.  He had to walk away from me to cool down too many times for my own comfort…and his.  Too many things went on and are continuing to go on this month…and all we really wanted was the ability to get all the hard working and heavy lifting out of the way, so that peace could return and we could work on putting things to right.

            Every time I take one step forward, I feel as if I’ve taken three steps back.
            E getting so sick this past week did not help at all.  I am already worried enough about her health and then this happens.

            N comes to us this week completely sunburned…despite the fact that most skin cancer is caused by over-exposure to sun before the age of ten (I read that ages ago) T seems to feel that N, with his ¼ Italian blood, just needs to burn and be brown, without worrying so much about sunscreen, because it’s ‘hard to keep applying it’ because ‘you have to re-apply it after so much time passes’, ‘after N jumps into the pool’…blah blah blah…it boils down to it takes too much time and effort for T to protect the future health of one small boy.
            T is currently a very large issue around here.  As if it weren’t bad enough when he didn’t give us any warning about that first full week N stayed w us, much less the Memorial Day inability to speak up on T’s part…I get an email last week offering me dates to pick from to have N for the weeks he will stay w us.
            What do you think when someone says pick two weeks you want in this month, but I suggest these weeks?  Does that sound like, hey, I need to arrange baby-sitting for the time you don’t want the kid, but his whole month is free from all activity so just pick something already?
            I asked where N would be the other weeks…and was told ‘camp’.  So, why was I given the option to “pick” out the weeks I wanted?  Now, I have been told not a thing by T about camp or what it entails or why N goes…all we have to go on is supposition.  Like the week after N’s week w us after E’s birthday (the one where we had no warning whatsoever about until we dropped him off on Sunday before the week started)…it seemed that T had forgotten to enroll N in anything and then had to scramble to come up w something to cover T’s butt…when T first told me about summer camp for N, he made it sound as if everything were already done and set for the entire summer…I figured all I had to do was wait to be told which weeks N would be spending w us.
            I should have known better.
            This week, N shows up.  No bag in sight.  No clothes.  No nothing.  A nice sunburn all over his body and his nose peeling like some crusty scab.  Just the clothes on his body.
            Now, we do have clothes for the boy.  I make sure we buy them for this specific and precise reason.  If we didn’t have clothes for the boy, he’d have to run around in his holey undies…as 99% of the stuff he shows up in is too small, too short, too stained, too holey—and completely inappropriate (as in he arrives in a very thin coat in the dead of winter, w nothing but too small undies and t shirts in his bag).  We do not send clothes home w N, because if we did, we know we’d end up buying all his clothes at both houses for him, because T would simply accept that it is our responsibility to buy N clothes instead of us working together on things.  Nothing that goes there comes back, unless N is wearing it when he arrives at our door step.

            I would love the opportunity to sit down w that man and work these things out, but that will never happen, because T has his own agenda and his own plans that do not include me, except as another free baby-sitter for N.

            I still cannot get over the huge shift in N’s behavior by Wednesday of the week he spent w us last time.  He was a completely different and much calmer, much more relaxed kid.
            I have spent the past year?  Nearly two now? Trying to remember when N started to drum on the floor (his one ‘official’ stim)…and it was, I swear to you, not until after he went to live w T.  Yes, N had issues, but they were speech and social ‘conformity’ issues…but the other stuff…his drumming, his getting sick all the time, his reacting to stressful situations by vomiting, there was none of that when he was w us before.  N’s verbal skills may have improved, but overall…I think the rest of his personality has eroded and become lost as he struggles to do what he is told, as he fights to fit into the box T shoves him into in order to get what T wants out of things.
            There is a light gone from that little boy, a spark, that began to resurface by the middle of the week he stayed w us.  Seeing that light again was shocking.  And painful.  Especially since there is not a great deal I can do to keep that light there when he is not w us.  I hadn’t realized it had gone out, until I saw it back again.

            R has offered to pay for testing for N, like getting his hearing tested.  Based on some of N’s speech patterns, based on my own experience w hearing impaired children and adults, N has hearing issues.  Despite what T keeps telling me.  I know T will tell me anything he thinks I want to hear to get me to shut up.
            Ahh…but this is an easy rant to fall into…

            There’s E’s illness, where not only was she genuinely sick, she stopped eating, because she was afraid she’d throw up.  We have enough issues getting her to eat enough as it is…and then this happens.  She now refuses to touch boost or ensure or any other drink like that.  She does not like smoothies.  She is using the movie Food Inc as an excuse to stop eating.

            Now, E got sick for the same basic reason we’ve all been sick this month: swimming in that hotel pool.  Except…everyone else, including N, got hit w the illness immediately.  E held on to hers, never mentioned a thing for the entire time after the pool, not a twinge in her stomach, not a sniffle, not a cough…three weeks later…she gets hit with something that makes her sleep for 2 days straight…and causes her to be sicky poo yucky for another five days or so…
            It’s not germs that got to her…it’s her own mind.  I am not saying she wasn’t sick.  She was truly physically ill.  BUT…all the vomiting, after that first day and probably that first day as well, was caused by her coughing…and by the way she held herself when she coughed.
            The child is terrified of throwing up—she hates it.  She would start to cough and you could tell by the way she held her mouth open, by the way she held her body, she was going to puke…it was inevitable…she was triggering it, whether she meant to or not.  When we changed the way she was holding herself, she didn’t puke.  In fact, there was one night when we knew germs were not a factor at all that she threw up 3-4-5 times…she’d been so sick during the week that I could not get any packing or anything done at the old house…so R watched her for roughly 2 hours so I could go pack things in the evening.  While home alone w R, the girl who had not coughed all day developed terrible coughing fits, and despite R’s best efforts to get her to relax and not tense up, she puked. 
            The original sickness has everything to do w her being afraid of moving in w R full time—which is actually just ludicrous—since we‘ve fairly much lived here the entire time anyway; we just used the other house as a storage facility.  She threw up that night, after I was gone for an hour, because she was afraid because I wasn’t back yet.  When I did return, she told me not to do that again, not to be gone that long again.
            Am I saying she is consciously doing all of this?  Nope.  I am saying after all her experiences w T, she’s terrified of getting into a relationship w R and trusting him as her father figure—because any such figure in the past has pretty much sh*t all over her and she doesn’t want to be shut out in the cold after opening her heart up to someone again.
            This is where the food issue comes in.  Jesus Christ on crutches…these are issues I had when I was a teen-ager…she has them now, at 9yo.  Food is the only thing she can control.  I see it—I am watching it—I understand it.  But I cannot tolerate it or allow it.
            I’m a cutter.  I was a drug addict and an alcoholic, among other things.  I am not going to let E go through the hells I went through.  I always meant to save her from that.
            My whole thing w my kids was not to force food on them.  Not to make them clean their plates.  Not to make them eat foods they don’t like.  Not to treat them the way my mother treated me.
            E is leaving us no choice.  Now she has to eat at set times.  She has to eat all the food on her plate, period.  She has to eat in a timely manner.  No more 4 hours of munching dry cereal and calling it breakfast and being unable to do anything else but nibble (as in unable to do schoolwork).  We still have the same rule of you at least have to try something, but since she has a tendency to just look at something and say I hate it, that tastes yucky, whatever, we actually have to step in and make her eat things…like chicken nuggets/chicken tenders.  She’s saying Food Inc taught her that chickens are treated badly in the slaughterhouse—oh yes they are—I 100% agree there.  I worked in a chicken plant—for all of three days.  Even away from the killing floor, it ain’t pretty.  I still refuse to eat that company’s products based on what I saw, despite all the guidelines and cleanliness procedures and whatnot.  If not for chicken, the kid might have faded away long ago…now she won’t touch chicken.
            She hates pancakes now—because (It took me years to figure this out) when we moved to MD, the morning we left MO, T took us to McDonald’s for   breakfast and E had pancakes—she can’t eat them anymore.  The smell of syrup makes her sick to her stomach.  After living w T, N is such a finicky eater…there’s no veg going into this boy.  But at least he is eating.  He’s always been sensitive to the chemicals in foods … no matter how slight.
            But E—she won’t eat macaroni and cheese, she won’t eat …tons of stuff that she used to eat…no matter if I let her cook it or pick it out or help cook it or we grow it ourselves…all the usual tricks I use to get healthy things into her…they don’t work.  She doesn’t eat cookies.  If I make bread, half the time the loaf is wolfed down and gone before it has time to cool…the other half of the time no one touches it and it goes all moldy.  She has decided she doesn’t want soups –and it’s summer so I am not all that upset over that.  But…we’re at a ramen noodle impasse…with a handful of cheerios thrown in.  She won’t even drink chocolate milk (and we used the vitamin and mineral packed chocolate powder to get that much more nutrition into her) because while she was sick she threw up chocolate milk…so that won’t fly anymore.  She doesn’t drink fruit juices, because she doesn’t like the taste.  She won’t even drink spite anymore, after her Aunt convinced her it’s the only thing to drink to help your tummy when you’re sick, because while E was sick this time she sipped the sprite and it made her burp and the burp tasted like vomit…so sprite is bad.
            We take her to the store and let her pick things out…whatever it takes (so long as it isn’t complete garbage, like cookies and cakes and ice cream) to get her to eat.  So far, it’s ramen noodles and cheese its.  If I didn’t make sweet tea, she’d dehydrate and blow away.
            If not for R being able to get through to her, I’d have had to have taken her to the hospital to have her tubed or something.  R has the ability to get through and to cut through all her b/s.  He does not give up.  He does not back off.  He does not waffle.  It’s exactly what this entire cadre of us needs, this little family.  Otherwise, we would be lost. 

            We are still working on trying to find a way to motivate her w her schoolwork.  I’ve been meaning to write more about our homeschooling experiences,  but she makes me so miserable some days that I don’t really want to whine and cry all over about things.  Offering incentives doesn’t work…not a membership to club penguin, not a new puppy, not a game system of her choice, not trips to the zoo, not trips to the science center, not playing board games as a family, not reading stories to her.  She just shrugs it off and goes on doing her thing.  Taking things away does not work.  We could empty her room of everything but a pillow and blanket and she’d still shrug it off and do her own thing.
            All I wanted to do was not be my parents when I had kids.  I had so many food issues and spent far too much time fighting anorexia and bulimia—and I am still fighting.  No one tells you this stuff is like any other addiction, be it alcohol or drugs.  You don’t conquer it; you live with it every single day of your life, for the rest of your life.
            All I wanted was to give my kids a stable family life where they felt safe and loved.  If T had ever been able to open his mouth, about anything at all, at any point in the relationship—then or now--things would have been so completely different.  If he had been the man he claims to be, things could have worked.  He’s not that man.  If he had been honest at all, with me, with himself, I would have gotten my own place and not lived with him.  We would have done the friends as parents thing from the beginning…but the man cannot and will not open his mouth.
            I made bad choices.  I allowed things to happen.  Yes.
            At least at this point in my life…I have the stable home life…the stable man…the stable world that I have spent my entire life searching for.  And heck yes, it is absolutely terrifying to have all that you have ever wanted and dreamed of dropped into your lap and made real.
            I love R.  I have always loved him.  I have always appreciated him.  Not the way I do now though.  I am all too often stunned by this man. 
            I have always held R up, especially to T, as an example of a real man.  R is a real man, hands down.  As I have watched our family this past month, with the move, the stupidity of his ex and my ex, work, weather, and everything in between…I am simply amazed, over and over, by R.  Honestly, his parents raised him right.  Somehow, he is what I have always wanted and expected in a man…in the best possible manner.
            To throw that into lupine terms, this man is alpha, and he takes that role very seriously.
            I had to sit down a couple weeks ago, before E got sick, because it dawned on me that I have never in my life been with a real man before…even though I would have claimed the ex-husband was, if I did not have an example right before my eyes.  Real men do not act the way that ex did…real men do not treat people, male or female, the way he did/does.  One of these days, I will probably go into this in more detail, about R.
            Every day, I am shocked and humbled and amazed that he loves me.  Not a day goes by, even under duress and stress, that I do not offer up thousands of prayers of thanks for this man in my life. 
            It hurts to look at him sometimes.  He deserves so much better than me…but he is willing to keep me around in spite of myself.
            He is the only person I have ever looked at and found myself smiling about the thought of growing old w him.  He is also the only person I have ever been so afraid of letting him touch me, because he goes so deeply into my soul that to say he completes me is …a misnomer and is misleading…he does not complete me…he SEES me…he sees me and he sees through me and he loves me anyway.

            All of this jabber, all because I have spent one h*ll of a month, moving and being moved, and wanting all of this to just be bloody well over…let’s get the walls painted, the new furniture arranged, the bookcases built, these boxes and bags unpacked and everything put away.  Let’s host our first welcoming party to have friends in to visit. 
            Let us get through the stress so we can stop bickering and yelling at one another and walking away from one another.  Let the rest of our life begin. 
            As my mother told me the other day, think of how bad things would be if we weren’t praying for you…
And thank you.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Got My Big Girl Panties On Today

            It started with that darn Mason Dixon book.  R wanted his swifty, which I did complete—I haven’t added the buttons yet as …well…I found the buttons (after 3 days search), but have lost the desire to continue the search for needle and thread—we’ve been using it by securing it on the dust mop thing w safety pins….
            BTW—what is with all the picking up stitches in this book?  I hate to pick up stitches, as I am never sure it’s going to look good once I am done.  I knit swifty once, then figured out how to exclude the picking up of stitches for the next swifty I will make.   I am making more—we love them—and we have shaggy dogs.
            Belinda grabbed me and would not not not let go…so much so I gave up and gave in…and searched through my stash, knowing I have Rowan Kidsilk Haze in there somewhere—but finding I don’t have enough of two colors to make this shawl…I don’t have as much as I thought I did, but I did try to stash drive.   I researched substitute yarns for this piece, before buying from elann…not only did I buy enough for one Belinda shawl, I bought enough for two …. Blue and green for one, black and red for the other….
            I’ve always planned to buy something from elann…I just never had a project in mind…I love them.  They have incredible customer service.  The prices are terrific.  I adore their free patterns.  Not to mention their selection of everything, yarns, patterns, you name it.  Shipping was fantastically fast.  Happy girl here.  Very happy girl.
            Of course, there is all the blather in Mason Dixon (book 2) about Fair Isle.  I live with a bloody Scotsmen…me w the Welsh Irish blood in me veins…and after reading all about Fair Isle in this book (and wailing over the whole steeking thing)…I found myself…darn it…FASCINATED! 
            You need to knit w both hands for Fair Isle.  You need to both pick and throw to really ‘get it’. 
            I ended up borrowing The Knitting Experience Book 3 from the library…and had been adequately intrigued.  I own Sally Mehlville’s other 2 Knitting Experience books (and plan to knit R his own Einstein coat—after finishing his socks and his hats for skiing…)…after submerging myself in the Mason Dixon book…I mean, I read and re-read the thing like a novel I could not put down…I ordered the Knitting Experience Book 3 (and received an autographed copy of it no less, completely unexpected!) to help me learn colorwork of all kinds.
            Add in finding out that our local library has one Elizabeth Zimmerman dvd (the knitting workshop)…as I have it for a week…I am watching it religiously…never in my life have I honestly thought, $48 for a dvd is an awesome deal…I own all but one of her books –and that last one I ordered this morning…I watch this dvd and I want to cry.  This dvd is that good…and then some.  I am learning something every time I watch it, no matter how many times I’ve seen it already.
            It’s not helping, the Mason Dixon book, with its story about Fern and the “perils of competitive knitting”…I had already ordered the Craft Yarn Council of America’s certified knitting instructor’s program and was awaiting the arrival of my supplies (which arrived yesterday…woo hoo)…I had looked into the Master Knitter Program, prior to buying the Mason Dixon book, and had decided I would do the instructor program first…mostly to make sure that I could actually …not fail the master knitter’s programs…
            Add all these little pieces together…throw in, what, three, four weeks of moving…and although my moving is over now (except for bookcases to be gotten rid of now—to make no mention of the unpacking) …I had a near break-down the other evening, which ended in me collapsing in tears and R walking out until I could calm down…
            I had already decided that I was going to learn to knit Continental style…I knit English style already.  Strangely enough, I taught R to knit and I swear he knits in a combination style…although we’ve not broached the purl stitch yet.  I am simply not sure how he learned it, but it works for him, so I am happy.
            When we dropped the kids off this past Sunday, for some obnoxious reason I decided to grab a ball of yarn (cotton no less) and a pair of wooden needles at the store.  FYI: cotton yarn splits like mad, and it is very frustrating when you are trying to learn something new…or that’s what it did for me.  I played and played w my Continental knitting while we drove and ran errands…but it didn’t take me very long to realize…I was doing it wrong.  I was purling the wrong way.  I was scooping the yarn up—but the stitches were facing the wrong way on the next row.  So, instead of ingraining the wrong way in my head, I put it down and waited to get home…
            Then comes EZ in, on Wednesday…I grabbed a different yarn, same needles, and played her teaching us knitting and purling over and over…and then went to knittinghelp so I could see between the hands, see the needles perfectly clearly, and I watched it over and over and over…until I finally got it.  I worked stockinette stitch for a good five inches…Did I mention I felt like Super Woman because EZ taught me the long tail cast on?!?  Long has the long tail cast on evaded my mastery… I think if I had not gotten so fascinated with EZ’s long tail cast on, I might not have fought so hard to learn Continental, at least not that day.
            I wanted to be sure I could work knit stitches and purl stitches in pattern, rather than just back and forth, so I started to work 2x2 ribbing.  I can actually work the purl stitch so much easier if it is in pattern.  The whole process makes sense to me; it’s easy for me to switch the yarn from front to back.  There is not a great deal of wasted movement.  I can see where once I get better at knitting in this manner, it is really going to open up new vistas for me.
            Please note: the second yarn, Vana’s Choice, does NOT like to be frogged out.  Even if the knitting hasn’t been knitted an hour.  As soon as I frogged my piece out, the yarn got fuzzy.  I frogged it out twice more, since the fuzzing was getting in my way.  After that, I set it aside and went elsewhere as that yarn was driving me batty while I was practicing.
            Now, as if Belinda was not enough…EZ is …eating away at me.  Strangely enough, I had all my EZ books out where I could find them.  Seems I have lost one in my travels…the very first EZ book I bought…  I am waiting for my new copy to arrive as we speak.  I had the others out…so they made it to R’s house before all the other books were packed up for storage…and they were also put up and away before the floors were done (more on that later)…and I of course cannot for the life of me find them! 
            The yarn for Belinda was only the beginning…knitpicks is having a sale…on books, on yarn…and with my new knitting instructors program, there are a list of references that I was looking into procuring…I did not buy a single referenced work for the program…although I nearly bought some Fair Isle and colorwork books…which is where my weakness lies currently…
            What I ended up doing was buying Knitting Around…and yarn for a sweater for myself.  EZ’s dvd shows a sweater that the moment I saw it, I knew I wanted to make it for myself:  The Medusa Seamless Yoke Sweater.  As soon as I saw it…all I saw were octopus tentacles…and I was done…I have been so wooly excited, I pulled out my son’s Captain America sweater that has been languishing since this past February when I became unhappy over the neck opening and frogged it out (only the shoulder yoke, not the striping for the bottom)…I must finish one sweater before I begin the next…and I know my daughter wants me to make her one as well…although I am so proud of her—I sat her down last night and taught her the long tail cast on and you’d think she’s the bee’s knees now, baby.
            Now, I did not think I was going to buy wool to make a sweater—what—with my stash?  Seriously?  Buy more yarn?  No way!  And yet…once I saw the EZ book on sale, the urge to hit that $50 free shipping caught me…and I checked the stats of the seamless yoke sweater pattern to see if I could fathom how much yarn to buy…I had to have real wool, not acrylic…and I wanted to make sure I had enough of everything in order to do this…
            Math is not my strong suit.  50 grams of yarn is not quite 2 ounces.  So, thankfully google helped me locate the math input I needed—and a few minutes later, after sharpening a pencil and scribbling out a few numbers—I figured out …6 balls of yarn was NOT going to cut it.  At least not for the body of the sweater.  I bought two complementary colors to use in the colorwork/yoke.   I think I figured out 12 balls would cover the body of the sweater, so I ordered 13 balls, just in case…
            Silly me.  Ever since I got my first EZ book, I have pondered the seamless yoke sweater.  I have had ideas in my head to make one for E, another one for N.  Never got around to them.  Never took myself seriously.  Never saw the Medusa version either…not that I remember…
            When I went to pack the remaining sweaters, after having sorted through and donated so many sweaters in these past few months, I found myself tossing out everything I hadn’t worn in the past year.  I think I did end up with about seven sweaters.  I did not care what sort of material the sweater was made of…I did not care about techniques or color or anything like that.  I simply tossed the things out.  As I was tossing these last sweaters, it dawned on me that I was making room for the sweaters I was planning to make—and how I would so much prefer the ones I make myself to the store bought ones.  I am looking forward to that.

            Other knitting news:
                        Was it three weeks ago?  Yes, it would have to be.  It was the first Jazzfest of the year.  I started yet another ribby tank in Lily Chin Harlem, using two different colors.  I started it because I actually want a tank I made myself that I can wear this year…and I wanted something very simple because we were already deep into the moving process by that first concert and I was wearing thin already.  The only time I worked on that tank was at jazzfest.  We missed last week’s concert due to moving issues, so I didn’t work on it then.  Since I didn’t work on it then, I found myself working on it in the truck while we were ferrying kids from one place to another.
            The first ball of lilac went farther than I expected.  I added the blue and thought the join went well.  As I came to the end of the blue, I found a knot in the yarn, cut it out as it would not untie, and worked it the ends into the piece as usual, just like any other join.  That went well enough.  I added the lilac for the next color block…and I did not like the join at all.  I do not know what I did differently that time, but it didn’t pull together as nicely.  I figured it wasn’t all that bad…and then round us back to the Mason Dixon book and the story about the creation of Fern…and that imperfection, small as it was, kept eating at me, nibbling at my edges, until I sat here in front of EZ, when I needed a break in between my Continental knitting and purling, and frogged the entire piece out to the very beginning.  I put that bag away, project in balls, waiting.  That is when I grabbed N’s unfinished Captain America sweater and started to work on it. 
            Working it this time went far faster and much better than before.  Since my Continental work is still somewhat uneven and much looser than my English knitting, I decided to finish his sweater using the English style…especially since I am currently working the piece closest to his face. 
            Once I get off this computer, I will be able to finish off the last few inches of stockinette stitch for the shoulder yoke and will immediately cast on both sleeves, so I can be sure they are even, and get to work.  After that comes the seaming and the weaving in of ends and all will be fantastic…I will have to find a star pattern and whip that up…the worst part is hiding the sweater so N doesn’t see it and want to wear it in this 90 degree weather!

            Add in to all of this today that I was finally calm enough to paint my toe nails…and I am a very happy woman today.  Indeed!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Love and Marriage

      Is there really any way to prepare for marriage
      Is there a ‘real’ definition of marriage to be had?
      Some say that living together is not the same as having an actual legal document, or having stood before God to make those vows.
      How can that be, when some of the strongest relationships I have ever witnessed are not legally condoned, as others point out?
      What makes a marriage?  Is it the ‘official’ vows?  If you are in an abusive relationship, just because you are married, is that a good thing?   Would you put up with the abuse if you weren’t married?
      Is living together less meaningful simply because you don’t ‘have the paperwork’?  How can you really be sure you’re in love?
      These are all pretty good questions.  I have to examine things from many perspectives.
      One: I married an abusive man, a mentally and verbally abusive man.  I dated him for years prior to marriage.  I lived with him for years prior to marriage.  I knew I shouldn’t have married him, but I did it anyway, because it seemed like ‘the right thing to do’, especially at that time.  Basically, for all the damage he’d done me and all the trauma he’d put me through, I thought I had earned the right to call him husband and to be called his wife.  I needed to be legitimized in the eyes of the world at large.  There is a great deal more convoluted idiocy involved there, but let us say between extreme emotional and mental torture, yes, torture, he made it sound like marriage was the only option open to me.
      I did not go into the marriage expecting much.  I had met him, come to find out, only two or three months after he married his first wife.  He and I had already been seeing each other for awhile before then.  My first thought, on that deserted country road where he told me, was to get out of the car and never look back.  BUT, I was a teen-ager, and I was stupid, and it felt like ‘real love’ to me.  So I stayed in the car.  I stayed in the relationship.  I was there through his divorce.  Eventually, as promised, he married me.  Numerous times, I wish I had run the other way, so many times over those what, almost 15 years of ‘togetherness’.
      I did get out.  It wasn’t easy.  What is worse is I got out several times, and he kept coming back, begging me to take him back.  Eventually, I found someone else, someone not as charming as he, but who abused me in the same familiar pedantic I am so much better than you can ever be milieu. At least I did not suffer there for half as long as I did before…and at least I didn’t actually marry that one.  We only lived together.
      Two:  I am a Minister, an Ordained Non-Denominational Minister. I marry people.  I hand-fast people.  I bless unions and relationships.
      My own views of marriage do not have to extend to those that I work with every day in the context of their relationships.
      My mother, born a Roman Catholic, who attended convent school, told me, point blank and hands down, always live with a man for at least one full year before you marry him.  You will never know a person, through and through, until you live with them.
      I can see the logic in this.  I often counsel people to do the same.  It’s harder to hide the temper, the angry words, the abusive tones, when you live with someone every day, day in and day out.
      I lived with the ex-husband for many years before we got married.  We probably lived together, off and on, for about ten years, give or take.  We were married for under four.  Why?  What changed?  He didn’t.  I never expected much from him.  You don’t sleep with a married man and then expect him to be completely faithful to you after he’s divorced.  That’s just … plain old stupid.  He cheated on someone else with you; he will cheat on you, and probably use the same lines on the next woman he sleeps with too.  Is this true 100% of the time?  No, nothing is true 100% of the time; however, the law of averages says if he cheats before, he will cheat again. (or she, for that matter)
      What changed is the fact that I finally awoke from my coma.  The man had hurt me so badly, crippled me so completely, that I was less than a zombie walking.  I worked a job I hated, because he told me I had to work it.  I couldn’t go to college, once that urge hit me, because of the job, and because he kept telling me there was no way we could make it if I took a lower paying job (which even then made no sense to me, and which makes even less sense now).  What it boiled down to was my head over heels, changing every single day, suck the life out of you telephone operator job suited his needs and his purposes.  He went to night school; he got to meet all sorts of women; he kept many on the side, throughout our relationship and our marriage.  Did that bother me?  No. I knew he was a cheater, long before I married him.  It was the lying, and the fact that he wanted me to challenge people who caught him cheating on me by confronting them before they confronted me to tattle on him that bothered me.  For the record, many people dropped hints, but no one ever told me a thing outright—and I never confronted anyone he told me to confront.  I was never his champion who declared he would never cheat on me.  I did on occasion say yes, I know he sleeps around.  We have that sort of relationship.  If he had stopped and listened to me, we did have that sort of relationship, only I had no desire to sleep around, and I was fine if he did, so long as there were no lies between us.  The man’s entire life is about lying and getting away with things.  He took a perverse joy in berating me and turning things around on me to make me feel as if it were all my fault, or all in my head, or both.
      Case in point: he was in bed with one of his women and had her call me, in the hopes, he told her, that I would get a hint and leave him.  When he got home, he couldn’t suck up to me enough to make sure I wouldn’t leave him.  He told me he couldn’t live without me.  He told me how much he loved and needed me.  Then there were gifts and dinners and … the usual stuff that never really meant a thing to me.  That was him—he was whatever the person he was with wanted him to be—but he was so sure of himself that he could turn, manipulate and control any other person, it didn’t mean a thing to him.  He told me later he was hoping that by calling to get rid of me, the other woman would see what a solid relationship he and I had and she would go away—while he was telling her darn near the same thing about me in regards to her calling. 
      It gets worse.  I finally had enough of his lies.  I was finally breaking out of my empty husk of a body, reawakening and wanting my own life, when I started divorce proceedings against him.  We were legally separated, living apart.  He was already in the process of moving a girlfriend into his house.  I hooked up with someone I was set up with, even though I knew it was a mistake and I knew it wouldn’t last…it wasn’t supposed to last… it was different…it wasn’t the almost ex-husband.  I felt loved and beautiful and wonderful.  I felt like a woman.  I also got pregnant at that time.  The almost ex knew the baby wasn’t his.  I was very specific about that at the time.  I told him specifically and in no uncertain terms, the baby was not his.  I had dates and everything to back up my statements.  He somehow not only managed to convince himself, and everyone around him, that the baby was his, but he had me convinced as well.  He used that to get back into my life, while telling his girlfriend I don’t know what, not only to be ‘together’ with me again, but also to convince me to move back into his house.  Even after a paternity test confirmed what I had said all along, he still maintained that we could be a family.  He took me home to his parents, with the baby.  The divorce was final, but he wouldn’t let go.  Thankfully, his girlfriend would not let go of him either. 
      Looking at my child is what got me out of there.  I never, ever wanted her to be in a position like that and think it was fine, because Mom had been there too so it must be ok.
      Now, after that, the ex-husband still tried to stay in my life, through my child, whom he professed to love and adore, and at first I was ok with that.  But I had been brought up to ‘need’ a man in my life.  So I took the first comer.  I didn’t look around.  I took what I thought the Universe was offering.
      Come to find out a man who lies to cover his tracks is not as bad as a man who lies to himself to make himself think he is a much better man than he really is.  I fell from one trap, into another, but both men verbally and emotionally abused me in such similar manners, I thought I was in the right place.  I thought I had loved the ex-husband.  I thought he had been ‘The One’.  I thought that man was my soul mate.  Then here comes this other guy, who is so similar to the ex-husband, but who would never do the things the ex had done.  A man to ‘save’ me from my loneliness, and children need a father, right?  Something else my loving mother told me, drilled into me.  No woman, I was taught, is ever whole, without a man.  This is a fallacy!
      Thankfully, I only lived with this man, even though we did have a child together.  Even though we were told by his Bokur we should get married, again, for the sake of the children.  I stuck by my guns and I refused. 
      Strangely enough, even while I was living with that man, even while I was pregnant with his child, real “Love” was never really an option for me in regards to him.  I loved him as a person.  I cared about him.  But being ‘in love’?  No…I needed him.  I needed a father for my daughter.  I needed the legitimacy of being in a relationship brought.  I also needed this man in my life in order to finally get rid of the ex-husband, or else the ex-husband would have kept coming back and coming back, because he simply could not let go.
      After that relationship ended, I didn’t date, for a couple years.  I took time off, to take care of myself and my family, to get myself back together, which I should have done long before the divorce ever happened, much less that break-up.  I needed to learn simply how to live.
      The Universe came into play again. 
      My best friend of ten years and I began to date.  Here’s the relationship that is making me re-access everything.
      First, he is not at all happy about the way our relationship started, simply because he was not done with the entanglements from a girlfriend who 1 didn’t want to be in a relationship with him (or anyone else really) and who 2 wasn’t about to let go of him, even when he broke up with her, until someone else came along, so she could save face with her friends and say hey I do have a man, I am not unlovable.  That is honestly the worst thing we can say about our relationship: he doesn’t like the way it started.
      We lived together, as room-mates, at various times.  He took care of my daughter and me right after the final split with the ex, when I started massage theraphy school.  He took care of me when things with my son’s dad went sour while I was pregnant with my son.  I even gave birth in his living room, with the help of a midwife.  We know each other.  We know we can live together.  We know we get along.  We have history together, as friends and as fellow students, as we’ve taken quite a few courses together, like UFT.
      I always held him up as an example of what a real man should be, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that he and I could be a couple.
      Now we are.  Amazing does not even begin to cover it.
      Everything I thought I knew about love and trust and communication and relationships and friendships and respect and so many other things….has gone completely out the window.
      I look back at that first marriage of mine and stare in awe, terrified horror.  I thought I loved that man?  Honestly?  I had a mild case of the flu for him compared to the way I feel about R, my best friend and boyfriend.
      I never trusted the ex-husband, never felt able to tell him the things I can tell R.  I never did … so many things for him or with him…that I do all the time for and with R.  Other than making me feel horrible, the ex-husband had no power over me.  R has the power to look at me, and melt me, or make me feel ashamed over something I’ve done or said.  He has the power to breathe on the back of my neck, and make me melt.  We’ve been together, as a couple, for nearly a year now.  It has been a very intense year for both of us.  We have no doubts about our relationship…and if any crop up, we talk about them.  We never let anything fester, at least not for long. 
      I don’t honestly know how to explain it.  So, his first marriage (while he was in college) and my first marriage technically do fall under the category of ‘starter marriages’, but both of us at the time thought we were doing the right thing.  As scary as it sounds, R found himself about to enter into another starter marriage, knowing full well the relationship would not last, because getting married was easier than breaking up…but thankfully for all concerned, the woman’s behavior at the time he was deciding if he should ask or not made the answer far too easy for him.  He dropped all thought of marrying her, immediately, even though it took awhile longer for him to reach that point where he had no choice but to admit he had done everything he could to salvage the relationship and that she, despite her words to the contrary, continued to behave as if she didn’t have the time to be bothered with the relationship at all.  Even after he broke up with her, despite her own claims that she broke up with him at least three or four months prior to his breaking up with her, she refused to act as if they were broken up, until she came to his house one day while he was gone (they had a dog in common whose ownership had never been discussed, even though said dog lived at R’s house and he took care of the dog, etc) and hacked into his email account…to find that he was dating…and dating me no less (please note: this woman hated/was jealous of any and every other woman in his life, no matter what the relationship between the other female and R, so that particular woman had hated me all along, without reserve or reservation…finding out he was dating me made her feel better, because she could now say that I was the ruin of that relationship –in spite of the fact that she herself told R things had been tanking over a year before I re-entered the picture after having lived across country for at least two years prior—and she has the satisfaction of now acting as if she is a queen wronged by a serf, even though that could not be farther from the truth…).  Only after she found out he was dating me did she decide, in a huge fit of violent temper, that she was done with him and it was over.  Yes, that is well after he broke up with her, but you can’t tell her that, because nothing is over until she says it is over…and she never really says it’s over.  She uses you (as in, several past boyfriends, from what we have gleaned from her and from friends of hers) moving on to another woman as justification that she has been wronged and she can now cut you out of her life without an issue.

      R and I are moving in together officially this month.  We’ve been unofficially living together since November?  Maybe December?  There is nothing we haven’t talked about already.  Children.  Mine and ours, when we do have ours.  Religion.  Communication skills.  Keeping house.  Money management.  Homeschooling.  Home birthing.  Television shows.  Movies.  Restaurants.  What sort of wine we like.  Any and everything…
      All of that is very important…that we talk and we work hard to make sure our styles mesh, especially when it comes to the care and raising of my two children, now his two step-children.  The real importance that we have found is simply that we do love each other, we are in love, truly in love, with one another, and because of that love, because of the strength and the depth of that love, we are willing to work together, willing to compromise, willing to hash things out, willing to argue, willing to cry, willing to talk, willing to give each other space. 
      R often questions why I am with him.  I have to ask, isn’t loving (you) enough?  He shakes his head.  With all the past relationships he’s had, no one has ever cared for or about him, about what he likes, about what he cares about, about what he does, about what he feels, the way I do.  This is a man who when we first started dating would call to talk to me on his way home from somewhere and nearly be in tears because I took his call and was willing to talk to him—a year later, he is still amazed he can call just to chat and for no other reason.  The ex-girlfriend had told him early on in the relationship, point blank, his work bored her, golf bored her, just about everything that interested him bored her, and she did not ever want to hear about anything.  Literally, she told him his stuff bored her and she wasn’t about to waste her time listening to his garbage.  If it didn’t pertain to her in any way, he was not permitted to talk about it in front of her. 
      Which brings us to: what is a relationship?  Why are you in the relationship you are in?  Does this relationship, even though the ups and downs that are normal, make you feel happy, or good?  Are you proud to be with this person, to show that person off as your significant other?
      I watched R walk towards the truck, coming out of a store, the other day.  I was walking behind, with my son, pushing the cart, and I was suddenly struck, completely breathless about how proud of R I am, how proud I am to be with him.  The other thing that struck me is that I have never been proud of anyone else I have dated.  I have never looked, in all the years I’ve been dating, at the man or woman I was with and thought, yes, let the whole world know he/she and I are together.
      I often tell R that so much of what we do together would not mean half as much as it does if we didn’t love each other the way we do.
      I have also begun to realize, and to stop blaming myself for all my insipid choices in my life, that sometimes you need those not so good, those bad, those absolutely terrible relationships, in order to see how good the really good relationships are.
      I don’t care who tells you what.  If you don’t have a marriage certificate, it does not lessen the value of the relationship.  Can you think of Goldie Hawn without Kurt Russell?  Although even long term relationships sometimes do meet their demise as both parties change.
      I deal with same sex couples more often than you think.  I have been known to offer a marriage ceremony or a hand-fasting for free to some same sex couples.  We as a country here in the US have been taught that in order for a relationship to ‘mean something’, to ‘have value’, you must have a piece of paper from the government, or that ‘God’ must hear your vows.
      I know of an amazing and wonderful couple who said their vows themselves, together, with no one at all in attendance.  No one will ever be able to take that powerful love and connection they have away from them.
      Perhaps, some of our forebears across the ocean had a better way of dealing with things, before outside sources intervened.  Hand-fasting originally meant a couple was married for one year and one day, to see if they were meant to stay together.  It was a test marriage.
      I am lucky enough to have friends, and to know many people, who still hold to the tradition of arranged marriages.  They give me hope and offer perspectives into relationships I might never have thought of without their influence.  Are these marriages of more or of less value since neither party is in love with the other in the beginning?  Do they stand a better chance, coming together in marriage, without all the preconceived notions that many of the rest of us have?
      Again, I don’t think it has to do with marriage itself.  It has to do with the people involved in the marriage.  Any marriage can be a good marriage.  Any marriage can be a successful marriage.  No marriage needs to be a hostile environment.  No one ever needs to stay for the sake of the children.  I know most people do not like to hear about this, but there are shelters, for the homeless, for abused women, there are people and associations out there who are willing to help you get back on your feet, no matter what your circumstances.
      Every person is different.  Every relationship is different.
      Some marriages are built to last; others are not.  Some people make excellent partners for others, but not everyone does.
      I don’t think any court anywhere has the right to tell people their love is meaningless.  I also don’t think God or religion is required at any point, having attended enough weddings at the court house in front of a justice of the peace, and having been married by a justice of the peace myself. 
      The gods know where I stand in regards to R, and vice versa.  And, for the record, even though the man I plan to have officiate at our wedding is very spiritual, he too is a Non-denominational Minister.  It is not his religion or his spirituality that leads me to him for our wedding; it is the simple fact that this man is a friend and both R and I deeply respect him.  I haven’t informed Jack of his part in the wedding yet, simply because we do not as yet have a date, although R and I have discussed getting married.
      When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter to me if R and I ever actually get married.  We have no plans to split up.  Our plans involve the rest of our futures as one together.  We can both see us together, growing old together, and living all our days together.  Neither of us has ever been able to see that in any other partner before, not even the ones we married.
      I can’t tell you what real love is for you.  It’s different for every person.  I have enough trouble trying to convince my 9yo that we do not love her 6yo brother more than we love her (jealousy issues does not even begin to cover that situation).  I cannot tell you how you should approach a relationship, or a marriage.  You have to do what is right for you in that very moment, even if later on you realize that it was mistake.
      The thing about mistakes is you have to learn from them, even if that means you have to make them again and again until you get the message across to yourself.
      You have to find your bet happiness in yourself, before you can start branching out to find happiness with another person.  That’s when the real blooming begins.  You can take a person along with you for the ride.  R was my best friend and watched me go through hell and evolve through it all.  He stood by me, as a friend, even when he thought I was nuts.  Some relationships really benefit from all the ups and downs and turbulence.  Don’t count yourself out of the game if things go sour.  Get up and try again.  You never know what you’re going to find.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Let's Talk About Time

Time management.

I read a lovely post here this morning.  Funny how when I am running around like a chicken these days, the things I chose to focus my time on…
I have been taking mornings ‘off’ the past couple days.  I take clients in the mornings, so until lunch I am available for clients.  Then I go pack up my house and move things over to R’s house…to unpack later in the day. Right now, I am sitting here w my 9yo, learning some interesting things about Harry Houdini via the history channel.  My 6yo creeps in to curl up on my lap and to stick his toes in his sister’s ear before going off to find his new NickJr books. This is time well-spent here.

I have been fighting for a long time to get some sort of handle on my life.  How to balance work and family and writing and knitting and all the other things in my life…and how to feel good about it.

All right.  So, I am in the middle of a move.  It’s more like organizing two moves. Not only am I moving out of my own house –getting rid of all sorts of things—I am moving into my boyfriend’s house—and he is getting rid of things and making space for us.
My rabbits need to go to the vet to get their post-operative check-up.  I have notices to send out about the move that I haven’t even started planning to write.  Not to mention my art work, dolls on request still languishing as skeins of yarn in bags, my own personal writing, my fiction writing…boom boom boom…and I am tired and I am still fighting off the remnants of my sinus issues…but…the show must go on.

Not to mention, it is not just time management I am facing…because when you get right down to it, every minute of your day is your own.  You make the choice to do whatever it is, every single minute of the day.  Every day of late, I stop and think to myself, I am choosing to get out of bed before 7 to spend some time w R before he goes to work…or lately, I am choosing to stay in bed just a bit longer to see how much sleep I can get before I have to start moving.  I am choosing to play w this simple dog to help him get his energy out before he drives me crazy rather than working on unpacking and sorting.  I am choosing to sit down and watch tv while I have a snack before moving on to the next task.  I am choosing to work on my knitting while we drive (R drives, I ride and knit).  I am choosing to curl up on the couch w R instead of drawing that tree I took the picture of the other day.  I am choosing to not finish packing my room, but to work on packing the kitchen instead.  Every single moment is a choice.

You make those same choices, whether you like to admit it or not.  You choose to get up in the morning to get ready to go to work.  You choose to get to work on time.  You choose to go to that job, whether you love it or hate it.  You choose to eat that Big Mac or that breakfast shake or whatever.  Every single moment is a hallway full of doors and you pick the door you are going through, even if you want to say you have no choice.  You always have a choice. 

It took me this long in my life to realize that one simple fact.  That I am in charge of everything.  My choices are my life.  My life is my choices.

It goes farther than time management.  As I am going through so many things in my own home, I am shocked over and over by strange things.  First, things were being let go of, even before R and I decided we were living together, full time, permanently (versus having all our stuff at our house and living at his house)…and w every item that goes into a bag to be donated.  Then, things shifted for me mentally/emotionally after that switch in my head tripped, the one that was making me so afraid of moving in to R’s house and …taking over and shoving him out and away.  I hate moving his stuff without him knowing, or without him there.  I do not go through his stuff.  It is his stuff.  I don’t mess w it.  This was the fatal flaw in previous relationships apparently—what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours and what’s ours is ours.  I don’t mess w your stuff.  I don’t have to know where you are every moment of the day.  I’ll let you go through all my stuff and I will tell you where I am every minute of the day if you want me to, but you’re pretty much free to have a life and to be yourself without me as your appendage.  Strangely enough, R and I have no issues there.  I haven’t changed.  A day or two ago, my brain went from ohmygod we are so ruining R’s life by moving in to ohmygod we are really moving in and this is the best thing in the whole wide world, for all of us, R included…that finally dawned on me when E and I were making plans to plant our beloved rose bushes…mwahahaha.

If I am thinking of planting roses, I am thinking we are going to be here for awhile.

That was the flip.  Not we’ll be in my house for about a year or so, until we buy that bigger house that we all move into together (which would eliminate my feeling as if I am an interloper in R’s house).  Not that we’ll be in this house for another year.  We could be here for several years.  Frankly, if we move any sooner, I think the neighbor across the street will kill us, but that’s another matter.  She likes us.  We improve the neighborhood.  We’re good neighbors.  Now, I am thinking, we can stay here, three years, five years, build our family…buy that much bigger house, fix it up the way we want it, before we start to move into it…heck, we’re having the floors refinished at R’s next week…and after they do the floors, w all the furniture out of the way, we’re painting the walls.

The interesting thing is what happened when I went to my house after that flip, even before I realized the flip had happened.  I went into my kitchen—which is the center of my home—I love to cook—I love to bake—I love to feed people—I mean other than my snarfy uber picky kids at times…I stepped into my hallowed kitchen and didn’t even inhale as I loaded up boxes and bags and more boxes of things that had to go.  I never paused.  I never looked at what went into the donation pile and thought oh I wish I could keep that.  I did giggle once, when it dawned on me the ex-husband was not entirely gone w that trunk…but here was a pan we received as a wedding gift, w our dog’s teeth marks in the bottom where they’d licked it clean after one meal or another, that I used to cook with so frequently –and it went into the bag of donations without a blink, without a flinch.  There was no attachment.

It was after that happened and I reflected upon it that I became aware of just how my brain had flipped and had started to process moving in w R in such a more positive manner.  It wasn’t the ex-husband stuff so much as it was the entire kitchen.  Oh, yes, I kept quite a bit of my kitchen stuff…but I let go of so much that it was incredible.

I’ve been so incredibly proud of myself for all the clothing I’ve let go of recently.  But…but…when I recognized that brain flip, I saw something else entirely.  I am notorious for holding on to things, for myself, for others, for just in case.  I come from that strain…I remember my grandmother and her root cellar of what I called her science experiments, they’d been down there so long—she could not and would not get rid of them, goods canned when my dad was a boy, because “someone might need them”—honey, when your corn turns a brilliant bloody purple, you can throw them out, really.  No one will feel bad if you do.  No matter how hungry they are, no one is going to eat that corn.

What I learned about myself is that I truly feel safe…Safe, capital S.  I am not holding on to anything ‘just in case’.  I not only feel safe—and better and healthier and so many other things—letting go of things…but I feel safe in the knowledge that should I ever need them again (if ever I should need to have three 2 cup graded glass measuring cups) we can buy them.  There is no doubt about our future.

That is the BIG thing…there is no doubt about our future…R and I are together and we will always be together.  Neither of us has any doubt about that.  We also have no doubts about our abilities to succeed, in all areas of our lives.  It is not just real estate.  It is not just his computer skills.  It is not just my artistic endeavors.  There are so many avenues that we are walking down together—that alone we would probably both lose our desire and wherewithal to achieve anything.

This is all about Time, right?  I am no longer living for the future.  I am no longer living in the past.  I am here, now. 
I no longer say I didn’t have the time…I always say now I didn’t make the time.  I am that aware of the choices I make every day.  I am glad of it, even if I do not accomplish everything I mean to accomplish every day.  At least I accept the fact that I chose to do the things that make me happy and that connect me with my family …and my home now…that much more.