Saturday, October 29, 2016

Ready, Set, Go!

The Boyfriend is giving 30 day notice at his apartment and moving in with me by December. Here we go!

I'm happy to say I feel really good about it and have no reservations. We had a very intense conversation about moving in a few weeks ago and really hammered out all of the remaining issues, almost all of which revolved around money.

I came to realize a fact - this is, he makes very little money. And will probably always make very little money, despite working his butt off. Basically, he's the working poor. I've been there. I need to let go of the dream that he might one day "hit it big" in his business. It might happen, but it might not. All my life I told myself, and anyone that would listen, that I don't care how much money a man makes, as long as he can cover himself and won't mooch off of me. As long as he's a hard worker, enjoys his work, and has integrity. Well, I've found all those things. Am I really going to break up with this man because his income doesn't reach some arbitrary number I have in my head? It's time to put up or shut up. 

So for now we have a financial plan that works for both of us. I'm sure this isn't the end of the conversation, and I know this stuff can get tricky. But you have to try things in life. 

I've never lived with anyone before; never even been close. I'm a little nervous, of course. Last night I asked him to promise me that he won't suddenly morph into a dangerous psychopath the minute he moves in here. He laughed. As one who's been divorced twice and lived with countless women, I'm sure this is old hat to him.

He's pretty much lived here since the minute we started dating anyway. With the exception of the couple of weeks when we broke up in June, he's spent all but maybe two nights a month at this house; we already share a closet and drawers. He has no stuff to speak of. So our day-to-day lives won't change except that he'll be giving me money now, which will be awesome. 

He did tell me when we had our big talk that I should be prepared that he may never want to get married again. This surprised me since all he's talked about for the last year is wanting to marry me. But I get it. I don't feel anywhere near ready for a step like that - and, really, marriage would only be a disadvantage to me since I'm the one with all the stuff (can you say iron-clad pre-nup?). But I do want to get married. Or maybe I just want a big party and a princess dress. It's hard to know what the real motivation is sometimes. goes nothin'!


Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Yesterday I attempted a social experiment on Facebook. It's rare that I post anything other than event stuff, pictures/anecdotes about the kids, or plugs for things I'm enjoying watching or listening to. But after a day of stewing I just felt compelled to speak out. And the results were fascinating.

To give the back story, the band played Denver this weekend. As always I was seated on stage when not singing, which is about 2/3 of the time (three hour evening). As often happens there wasn't much room on stage so I was kind of hidden behind a speaker, which makes what happened next all the more ironic.

Monday morning I wake up to an email sent to me and the bandleader cautiously advising that the writer (an older man guessing by his name, Hal - I don't know anyone under 65 who uses this nickname) had some criticism of me that "might sting" so don't read the email if I don't want to hear it. He said when I'm singing I am engaging and lovely, but when sitting on stage I look so bored and depressed that it puts a damper on the whole evening "for the whole audience" (ie the one or two people he bullied into agreeing with him) and that in future he suggests that I get seated somewhere out of view of the audience or off stage.

You know, because a woman's non-smiling, normal resting face is so upsetting to men that they need it to be removed from their existence so they can continue the fantasy that every woman in the room lives to please them and make them feel wanted and comfortable.

At first I took it as a (semi) legit criticism because I have actually been accused of this before...and so has every other singer I've ever mentioned this to. But the BF assured me this was just some old crank and to forget about it. "Fuck that guy" was his exact phrasing, as was my bandleader's when I texted him about it.

But as the day went on and I kept ruminating about it, it occurred to me that this was a uniquely female problem - your appearance, indeed your very essence, being criticized and commented on by men - in particular, men's constant exhortations that we smile more because we'd look so much prettier. And that this guy wasn't just an old crank but a gross chauvinist who felt he just had to put me in my place. For not being open, smiling, and giving the appearance of being sexually available, non-stop for three hours. Before long, I was boiling over with rage.

So I posted on Facebook, with the explanation that yes, I have a Resting Bitch Face, and gee, where do you think that came from? Maybe a lifetime of sexual harassment and intrusion? Did you ever think of that?

Not surprisingly, all of the women got it, but many of the men did not. That no, I did not post this to have everyone say, "but you're so pretty and talented!" nor "ahh screw that guy, why are you getting all worked up over some idiot? Forget about it!" I wanted people - men in particular - to really think about how they see, think about, and treat women. Really, really think about it. Why is a woman not smiling so offensive to you? Why should a fat woman cover her body and act ashamed of herself? Why is there something wrong with a woman who won't wear makeup, or skirts, or heels?

I think I may have reached a couple of people. In which case I did my job. But you know, I've been doing a lot of reading of/listening to Lindy West lately, and she's really inspired me. I feel like I don't want to be silent anymore. Women endure these stupid little aggressions every day of our lives and are so used to it we don't even think about it anymore. But you know what would be awesome? If maybe we mentioned it every time it happened so people would see how ubiquitous it is and how it's time to make a change. Instead of just "fuck that guy".

But really, fuck that guy. The sooner these aging chauvinists (I'm looking at you, Donald Trump) drop dead the better off we'll all be.

I've decided this is my new "sitting on stage face":


Monday, October 17, 2016


I don't want to jinx it, but things have been going pretty well around here. I kind of love fall with kids. There's lots to do and a lot of excitement - cooking and baking projects, Halloween stuff, school pictures - and for me, since the event is freshly over, lots of planning and budgeting.

My new shed is a day away from completion - and it is a masterpiece. It is not a shed. It is a fully functional living space - if you can forget the fact that you would have to drywall it first, and the fact that I cheaped out and chose to leave it on cinderblocks rather than pour a concrete foundation. But, yeah. Bobby has already claimed it as his teenaged room. Pictures to follow.

I am starting to worry about my tax burden this year. Even though I made a big fat pre-payment, I'm afraid of being slammed come March. So after everything is paid around here I may try to, for the first time in eleven years, make a contribution to my 401K. It probably won't help that much, but I'd rather that money go to my future self than the IRS. I wanted to do a big foundation project (repairs to my 110 year old foundation and house bolting) but that's a lot of dough. Still, with all the talk lately of us being "due for another big one" it's been on my mind. That and replacing my eleven year old emergency kit from the old shed. Lots of work still to do around here. 

Theo is talking up a storm - much like his brother, at 2 1/2 he suddenly started talking, even though a lot of it is hard to understand. Still, just being told "it's too hot" when he won't eat something is such a help. 

They do love each other, but boy are they brothers - there's tons of bossing around on Bobby's part, tons of annoying on Theo's part, and lots of good natured fighting that goes sour and requires me to step in and offer a "family hug" to two crying boys. I feel like I make someone apologize at least four times a day. It is exhausting. 

For the first time in his preschool career, Bobby is getting in trouble at school. Nothing major, but I have been pulled aside by his teachers more than once to ask if I could work on Bobby's listening and "being aware of his body". For some context, this does not mean he is a bad kid. One kid in his class gets an "incident report" written up pretty much every day, and the teachers always tell me that all of the kids were having a hard time listening that day, etc. Still, it bums me out. You want your kid to be so perfect. But in the end they're kids and of course they're going to misbehave. I still have a hard time dealing with this. I have snapped pretty bad a few times and had to apologize to him for yelling or getting mad. I always tell him I love him no matter what. The last thing on earth I ever want them to feel is that my love is conditional. 

In other news, Bobby has asked to play the violin. I don't know if this was just a momentary fancy or what, but I keep asking about it and he keeps wanting it, so I've been looking into it. There are a couple of schools near me that teach kids this little, and thank God allow for rentals of the instrument in case your kid loses interest. I don't have the slightest idea how to keep a four year old interested in practicing an instrument, or when/how to let them quit if they really want to quit. But the idea of little Bobby playing violin positively makes my heart sing. I hope it works out.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

The sandwich generation

So many of my friends are experiencing the deaths or ailing of their parents. One referred to us as the Sandwich Generation - stuck between small children and aging parents, all of whom need lots of care and attention. It's hard.

A couple of weeks ago I dropped everything to attend a friend's mother's memorial service. When her older brother spoke, I was in a flood of tears as this man broke down on the podium and explained that he now understood the significance of "rending your garment" when grieving - he said that you grab your shirt at the neck and pull down, and it makes a visual representation of how you feel inside: a hole in your heart. 

Later I asked The Boyfriend how he felt when his mother died of skin cancer when he was a young man. He said, "you're not going to like this, but...for a long time I felt all alone in the world." This is exactly how I picture it - that even if your mother isn't in your life, even if she rejected and abandoned you, even if you never speak, that somehow from even before birth it is imprinted on us that as long as The Mother is still alive somewhere, we are protected and everything is ok. This is how I feel now. As many of you know, my parents are both out to lunch and we have no contact. Yet, they are alive, in Brazil, and somehow this gives me some bizarre comfort. The Parents are alive so I am ok. It makes no sense, but there it is. 

Both of them have been in poor health and so I worry about getting "the call" at any time. Today I heard my cell phone ringing but I was all sticky from eating a pomegranate with Theo and so ignored it. When I went to check it, it was an oddly formatted number that was identified simply as "Brazil". I immediately called my sister to see if she had gotten a call, but she hadn't, and there was never a voicemail or a call back (yet). I googled the area code and it was from a region of Brazil far away from both of them - but of course this doesn't mean much. 

For all I know the call was merely a coincidence - a wrong number from the one country I have a connection to. But it does make me think about what has been in my mind a lot lately. That one day - maybe today, maybe 20 years from now - my mother and father will die, and I will be left unprotected and all alone in the world. This isn't of course true, but I know it will feel that way. And even worse - one day I will have to leave these boys. And that thought crushes me far more.

I hope whenever the moment comes that I am left parentless - even more than I am now; even more than I have always been - that I allow myself to howl and rend my garment. If I allow myself to really feel it, then maybe I can allow myself to really move on.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Pumpkin patch!

This weekend I took advantage of the one free day I had this month to take the kids to the pumpkin patch. I invited the donor siblings (twin three year old girls) and their moms, and a swell time was had by all. It's funny how four adults were barely enough to keep up with four kids. It was a bit like herding cats. Still, I had a much more enjoyable time this year than last. Perhaps a two year old and four year old are, in fact, easier to manage than a one and three year old? 

I bought tons of gourds to make a little display on our front stairs. At the moment it just looks like somebody dropped the groceries. I may move them to the porch in an effort to discourage theft - my neighborhood is still marginal at best. 





Then today, despite having no one to go play dress up with, I went to this annual 1920s event which was a blast. As I was stuffing myself into some shapewear so I could squeeze into this vintage dress, I remarked to Bobby, "why is this so hard to put on??" Without skipping a beat, he said, "because you're 44." I have no idea if he knew what he was saying, but kids do say the darnedest things, don't they?


In other news, The Boyfriend and I had a bit of a kerfuffle over money last week - ie, his never having any - but we seem to have worked it out. As of now, our major issues - his heavy smoking, his financial irresponsibility - have largely been resolved; he has mostly quit smoking (never smokes around us anymore and says he only smokes 1-2 a day at work and sometimes goes days with none at all), he is entirely up to date on his taxes and has a payment plan to pay the back taxes (only a few thousand). He's done everything I've asked of him. Now, he just has to get this business of his off the ground, which for reasons too complicated to go into here has been difficult until now. Do I believe he can do it? Believe me, I want to. Nothing would horrify me more than discovering that he, like my mother and father before him, is just a fantastical dreamer with nothing to show for it, full of empty promises and hot air. But I do know he would never expect me to support him, bankroll his dreams or subsidize his life, and I wouldn't if he asked (and he wouldn't). So, what next? Well, now he buckles down and goes for it the next couple of months, and if all goes well and he starts to make the money he expects to, then he can move in. It's exciting and terrifying all at once. Will we make it? Will anyone other than me and the kids ever live under this roof? Only time will tell!