Saturday, December 31, 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011


You will, I hope, forgive me if I erupt all over this post.  I've been bottling it all up for days and I'm starting to get depressed.  You've heard me go on and on about my dad, but I've pretty much left my mom out of it.  She's so sweet, if you get mad at her, you feel guilty.  But I am mad.  And of course, since it's my mom, it's stirred up a whole pile of shit that would be better left untouched, you know?  But stirred it is, and probably typing will help.

I want to say that I'm nothing like my mom, and it is true that in terms of personality, as much as it pains me to say it, I'm much more like my dad than I am like her.  But my mom and I have so many things in common that it's not entirely true.  For one thing, the older I get, the more I look like her.  And we share many of the same anxieties.  Is that what mothers pass on to their children?  These are the things that should make your stomach clench.  These are the things that should make you worry about your worth as a human being.  These are the reasons why you can never relax. 


Do I do this to Nell?  Probably. 

Anyway.  Usually my mom and I get along pretty well as long as we're not together more than 4-5 days.  She chats endlessly to fill me in about all the relatives and what's going on with her friends and the book she's writing.  I enjoy hearing all the news, and although we long ago parted ways on opinions of any importance, we're both smart enough not to discuss that stuff.  And I help her with her computer questions.  That's one place we are entirely different-- she has not a molecule of technical proficiency in her entire body; I took to computers like a duck to water when I first encountered them in graduate school.  (don't laugh, it was 1983.)

I'm rambling.  This time, my strategy of just listening to her talk didn't work.  For one thing, I was (am) exhausted.  I finished the semester three days later than I was planning to, and then had nearly all of the Christmas preparations to do.  We hadn't even decorated the tree yet.  I spent all last week creating Christmas from the ground up, which all of us who are mothers (who celebrate Christmas) probably understand.  Usually I love doing it.  But I was just so tired this year.  It came together pretty well, and everyone, including me, had a great day. 

But I didn't do anything right as far as my mom was concerned the entire time.  I was doing too much.  I wasn't doing enough.  I would regret it if I didn't do this.  It doesn't make any sense to do that.  The major feeling I got from her as the days went by was disapproval.  Make that disapproval.  or maybe even DISAPPROVAL.  It was exhausting and demoralizing.  And I took it out on her by griping right back.  It's entirely possible that she's having exactly this same discussion with one of my sisters this week. 

Anyway.  What stopped me dead in my tracks this morning was thinking how different my life would have been if I had ever felt even a modicum of support from my parents.  My dad, for all his craziness, was far more supportive of who I am as a person than my mom ever was.  But he was crazy toxic, and not much help.  My mom just wanted a different kid than I was.  I was never social enough, acceptable enough, thin enough, popular enough.  I was far too introverted and I was interested in all the wrong things-- science fiction, music, deep questions.  I never cared enough about my social standing in our small town, and how that might reflect on her or on our family.  I liked being different, I liked being a nerd and going to science fairs and wearing overalls on Friday and playing up on stage in the symphony instead of wearing fancy clothes and handing out programs as a Symphonette like all the popular girls did. 

And yet at the same time, I can't blame that on her.  She never actively stopped me from doing any of those things, and she was very proud of my musical accomplishments.  She never forced me to take Social Dancing or finishing classes as many of my friends' moms did.  She wasn't awful.  We just didn't have the same priorities. 

And I'm still exhausted, so I'm ranting when there's really no reason to.  I will try to get more sleep this weekend and post something less whiney next week.  The new house renovation is proceeding.  It is (of course) going to take about ten days longer than we expected, but we should be in by the end of January.  We are packing like mad while Dean is off this week, and he has been beyond patient with my grumpiness. 

I was right.  I do feel better for having typed this out.  Hope y'all are all enjoying the post-holiday slowdown.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

until we meet again....

I thought I had interesting things to say this week, but every time I try to type them out, they turn into rants.  I think it is going to take awhile to recover from the end of the semester.  I've been a full-time student so far, but I decided last week that starting this coming semester, I'm going to drop back to part-time.  It's just too much.  I don't ever want to live through another week like that again.  

So, I will return after the holidays, probably next week.  Happy Solstice to all my friends who celebrate it!  and Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukkah, or enjoy Kwanzaa, Festivus, or whatever variety of winter holiday you celebrate. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

your rodents are safe

I'm finally finally finally done.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


You know, I have a bit of sexual abuse in my past, from when I was a kid.  It wasn't anything spectacularly horrible, but as anyone who has been there can tell you, it isn't the "amount" of abuse that makes a difference, it's that it happened and you can't go back and undo it.  You have to deal with it, even though it's not your fault.  There was a time when that abuse and my struggles to heal were overwhelming, and I went through several years of therapy.   

But I don't think about it very often anymore.  About 6-7 years ago when I suddenly realized one day that it had been weeks since I'd thought about it, I was so happy.  You can't ever get to the point where it didn't happen, but you can get to the point where it is firmly, safely in your past, not sneaking around and wreaking havoc in your present.  I don't avoid thinking about it, and I don't want to repress thinking about it because the years that I spent repressing it were far worse than the ones that I spent dealing with it.  It just doesn't come up. 

Unless something brings it up.  Which is why it's so difficult that this mess at Penn State is everywhere you turn.  I hate that--mostly for the victims' sake, of course, but also for my own, and for everyone else who has ever been there.

So when I walk in the room and Dean is listening to ESPN and someone is describing exactly what the graduate assistant saw and heard when he walked in that locker room, I have no good choices-- avoid it, or let it in. I don't like either one of them.  Avoiding it's no good, but I don't want to dwell on it either.  I don't want to remember that sick feeling, that twisted, perverted energy from the person that abused me that was in some ways worse than the actual actions that happened.

I don't have any wisdom here.  I just think it's better to acknowledge it than to not say anything.  So this one is for everyone who's been there.  We're strong.  We survived.  And for the victims that are still dealing with it.  Stay strong.  You will survive, too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

a plea for help

It is not going well.  If you are willing to sacrifice a small rodent or maybe a sheep or a goat to the Gods of Getting Through the End of the Semester, I would be ever grateful.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

riffday: AB goes to the movies

So I let myself take off about half the day on Saturday, between papers.  Saturday night, the three of us were home, so we decided we would watch a movie.  I was trying to think of movies that have Christmas in them but aren't specifically Christmas movies-- we have a raft of those we watch every year, but we have to wait till Nell gets home next week (Rudolph, both versions of the Grinch, maybe A Christmas Story, White Christmas, Christmas Vacation, etc).

I'm considering going off on a tangent here about how we came to love the second Grinch movie just as much as the first after boycotting it to start.  But that's probably the whole story right there.

Anyway.  The ones I thought of were:  Hook, Home Alone, While You Were Sleeping, Die Hard.  and I'm putting It's a Wonderful Life in this category as well, even though everyone thinks of it as a Christmas movie.

We ended up with While You Were Sleeping, which I love with a great love.  It might be the only romantic comedy that I like, I'm too curmudgeonly for the rest of them.  We hadn't watched "Sleeping" for at least 3-4 years, so it was great.  I love the scene where Jack cuts the cards while Peter is in a coma, and Jack's goofy family, and "I'm really, really sorry about your carpet."

"Why didn't you say anything?"  "I didn't know how to tell you."  *sigh*

Tonight Dean and MadMax are watching Transformers 3, while I am supposed to be working on paper #2. (And I am.  Intermittently.)  It will probably destroy whatever shred of feminist credibility I had left to tell you that I kind of enjoyed the first Transformers movie.  The parents are hilarious, and if your kid grew up watching the Transformers cartoon, you already know all the characters.  But the second one was barely worth watching, and the third one is awful.

If you had asked me after Transformers 2, I would have told you that Megan Fox's role was the ultimate eye candy role-- there's even one scene where she's half naked draped over a motorcycle.  But that was before Transformers 3.  The blond, I don't even know what her name is and I don't care enough to look it up, doesn't even have any lines to speak of. *smirk*  She plays absolutely no part in the plot.  A new low for female sidekicks.  At least Megan could hotwire a truck and drive it through (what city is that?  Manhattan?) to save Bumblebee.  And the special effects are so non-stop that when someone actually has a line to speak, it sounds weird.

OK, I really should get in another hour or two of work before I go to bed.  The thing is, I have this feeling of false confidence at the moment because the outline came together much more easily than I was expecting it to today, so I've been cutting myself some slack this evening.  I will regret it later, oh, yes I will.

Oh, and Julie-- you remember when I told you in an e-mail that I was pretty much past using food as a reward??  HA.  that's all I have to say.  HA.  When I finished that paper yesterday and was proofing it, I ate about a dozen mini-Reese's.  I had to raid the stuff I've bought for the kids stockings because I try not to keep candy that I like in the house.

Now if Nell decides to make one of her rare visits here, she'll know that I buy her stocking stuffers and not Santa.  Dang.

Can you think of any other movies set at Christmas time that aren't about Christmas?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

the before part of before and after

Here ya go:  the red plaid carpet

and the last little bit of the paneling that hasn't been covered by drywall:

and the master bath, done in Early Bordello (this looks orange, but really it's red)

Oh, and by the way:  MY FIRST PAPER IS FINISHED.  Phew.  I was pretty pleased with it when I finished typing it, but then I went back and re-read it before e-mailing it to the prof, and I shouldn't have.  On second read-through it sounded awful.  But at least it is done.  Next paper is due Wednesday, so I'm about to disappear again.  Then an exam on Friday, and then I really am done.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

fortress of solitude

OK, I took the pictures at the house, but I don't have time to post them tonight.  But!  I have a better picture to tide you over, never fear.  When I was driving back from UTown today, I saw the most amazing thing.  I practically drove off the road looking at it.  Then I remembered that I had the camera in the car from taking pictures at the house, so I turned around and drove back.  I had to stop on a bridge, with a shoulder that was only half as wide as my car, in a 70mph speed zone with cars whizzing by me, so this is not the best picture in the world.  But way cool, yes?  Sorry about the telephone wire running right through it.  I'm assuming it's a sweat lodge, but I know nothing about it other than what's in the picture.

love this

I love XKCD.  I don't always get them, but I love it.  Here is today's, which seemed appropriate to some things we've discussed recently. Well, I guess it's yesterday's by now.

And by the way, in case you were wondering, this paper is the worst paper that anyone has ever written in the history of the world.  It's due on Friday, and I have five, count them FIVE, pages written out of the twenty that are due.  and that's after spending practically the entire day working on it.  I am discouraged.  I will be in UTown most of the day tomorrow, and then I will come home and somehow manage to put together another fifteen pages of this utter garbage and then I will turn it in and I don't want to talk about it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

not poetry Tuesday: Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney is an Irish poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995.  I've never read any of his poems, but I read his translation of Beowulf, and it's wonderful.  This is "not poetry Tuesday" because it is a quotation from Heaney's Nobel Prize acceptance speech, not one of his poems.  During the speech, he read one of Yeats's poems--click on his speech if you want to read it-- and then said of it:

"[This poem] knows that the massacre will happen again on the roadside, that the workers in the minibus are going to be lined up and shot down just after quitting time; but it also credits as a reality the squeeze of the hand, the actuality of sympathy and protectiveness between living creatures. It satisfies the contradictory needs which consciousness experiences at times of extreme crisis, the need on the one hand for a truth telling that will be hard and retributive, and on the other hand, the need not to harden the mind to a point where it denies its own yearnings for sweetness and trust."

(I added the italics.)  If things weren't so crazy (see previous post), I would attempt to make some sort of wise commentary on that, but since even the thought of that threatens to make me scream, I will just hand it to you and let you do with it what you will.  It occurs to me, though, that the difficulty in finding the balance between those two is more continually with us than just in times of extreme crisis.  In fact, sometimes the daily accretion of little, inconsequential, awful things can be as insidiously difficult as the big stuff. 

Monday, December 05, 2011

why my hair is mostly pulled out

Here is what you should not do two weeks before the end of the semester:  do not buy a house.  especially do not buy a house that needs to be remodeled.  especially do not buy a house that needs to be remodeled that keeps having more and more problems the more you work on it.

Because you will have to spend all the time that you should be spending on your two 20-page papers running around town picking out paint colors and getting stain samples and looking at ten gazillion colors and types of tile (who knew there were so many different kinds of tile?), and meeting with the carpet installer to find out how to solve the problem of not one level floor surface in the house.  And you will need to "pop over" to the other house at least two times a day and sometimes up to four to respond to various questions that come up as our valiant, beleaguered carpenter tries to do the things we asked him to do in a house where nothing is quite right.

Every time I'm over there I make myself stand in front of the window, even if it's only a few seconds, to remind myself why we're doing this.  Julie reminded me that it would be good to have before and after pictures, but it's already too late.  The old carpet is pulled out, they're drywalling over the cheap 70s paneling tomorrow, and the 30-year-old fiberglass jacuzzi tub got pulled out the first night.  Ha.  But I just remembered that the bright red-plaid glue down carpet in the laundry room is still there.  I'll try and get photographic evidence tomorrow.

It's entirely possible I will be insane by the end of this.  I went to Costco this afternoon and bought a bunch of frozen food because I will not be cooking for the next two weeks.  Other than to slide things into the oven or the microwave.

The carpet installation guy (who is already booked out until mid-January) said to me today, "Remodeling is brutal."  Why, yes.  That would be correct.