Saturday, March 18, 2006

#609 I'm Tired

I met some folks for brunch today, and then got back to the basement about 2 pm. It's 6 pm now, and I'm going to knock off for the night. My back is complaining, and the dumpster is almost full. I think tomorrow I can cut up the boxes I emptied over the past few days and that will finish that corner of the basement. I'll have them pick this container up maybe Thursday, empty it, and bring it back. There's still the remaining 3/4 of the basement to do, not to mention the attic. I can't wait to find out the weight for this load. Anyone want to make a guess?

There's a Christmas tree, two dehumidifiers, and a television set that I want to put in this first load, but I can't lift them over the side of the dumpster. The dehumidifiers have to go on top so they can be easily pulled out for special handling.

The header for this entry says I'm tired, and I am, but it's not the physical tiredness that's getting to me. I am emotionally tired. I am tired of being responsible. I am tired of making decisions. I am tired of doing the worrying. I am tired of being in charge. I want someone to take care of me. To make the big decisions, and hug me and tell me everything will be all right.

I had neither a real childhood nor a normal adolescence. My parents didn't take care of us, in the "making us safe" sense. We pretty much survived on our own wits. When I was married to Ex#1 he was physically absent through the whole marriage, and I had to take care of me alone, even when I was pregnant and laid off, and after losing the baby. When I was married to Ex#2 he was mentally and emotionally absent. I didn't exist for him, sometimes he didn't speak to me for literally weeks at a time, and so I had to take of me and our daughter alone. After I left him, I was a single mother for more than 10 years, and I took care of us alone. Then there was Jay. With his Aspergers he needed a manager and a mommy, so I took care of us, and then when he got sick it was high-powered taking care of him, alone.

Now I'm tired of it. I've done a good job. I have a healthy and drug-free Daughter who is well prepared for whatever she wants to do. I have enough money that I don't have to work any more.

I'm tired. I want it to be my turn. I want someone to take care of me, to coddle me. Someone to at least help with the decisions and share the worries.

Someone to keep me safe.

Friday, March 17, 2006

#608 Dumpster Progress

I worked only about two hours yesterday on clearing out the basement, but I put in over four hours so far today. I got the dumpster (they call it a "roll-off") a hair less than half full today before it got dark, which is scary because I've been working on only about one quarter of the basement, and not even the worst quarter. The dumpster is about 9 feet by 12 feet by 40 inches deep, and I am flattening everything I can before I throw it in. I can't get inside to shift stuff around, so there are some airspaces, but that seems to be minimal. I think I might be able to work a little longer tonight with the outside lights over and under the deck, and if I turn on lights in both bathrooms to shine out the windows.

I'll bet I walked several miles today. Each load I carry runs probably 40 pounds. A lot of it is old math and chemistry textbooks, and those suckers are heavy! Worse, the top edge of the dumpster is at chin level on me, so I have to lift high to heave junk over the side. You're supposed to be able to open the back, but it's on a slight slope toward the back, and I can just see everything sliding out and down the hill, so I didn't make more than a cursory attempt to open it.

I knew pretty much what to expect, but it's even worse than I thought. A three foot high stack of telephone books from Pittsburgh and Dallas, going back to 1975. A 1977 used car price guide. Every math and chemistry textbook he ever used. Every issue of every professional journal and ordinary magazine he ever received. Every listing from every computer program he ever worked on. Every manual for every system he was even remotely acquainted with. And more....

I was aware of two kites, but I found seven more. I threw out two chemistry sets ("no hazardous materials allowed in the dumpster!") on the theory that they were marketed for children, so there was unlikely to be anything too nasty in there. Then I found Jay's REAL chemistry sets! There are four boxes of bottles full of all kinds of nasty stuff. Most of the bottles are labeled on the lids, but one box, full of larger bottles wrapped in ancient brittle newspaper, didn't have visible labels. I unwrapped one bottle to see what it was, and tipped it on its side while unrolling the newspaper, and the cap was loose, and some liquid got on my right fingers. Stupid me. My fingers started to burn, so ... three guesses what I did. Yup. Stupid stupid me stuck my fingers in my mouth. I do know better than that! At about the same time the newspaper came off, and the label said acetic acid. I ran upstairs and ran my hands and mouth under water for a while. The acid must have weakened with age, because I seem to be suffering no ill effects now.

I don't know what I'm going to do with that stuff. I'm going to need someone who knows what it all is and how to dispose of it safely.

If I can't get enough light to fill dumpster tonight, or if it gets too cold, I'll still have plenty to keep me busy flattening all the boxes I emptied over the past month of sorting. I threw out two five-foot stacks of flattened boxes today, and I figure I've got that much more to flatten now that they're empty.

I am going to throw out Jay's skis. They're good skis, but they're locked together with the poles with a virtually indestructible combination lock, and of course, I don't have the combination. (Please, no suggestions. I MUST throw them out, and this is my excuse.) His ski boots, scuba mask and flippers, and lots of other stuff that I don't even know what it is -- already gone, buried under 30-year old textbooks and professional journals.

And I'd like to find the idiot who has given out my phone number as the contact for the Cub Scouts' Pinewood Derby. I'm getting tape-filling messages from people looking for information. I do call them back and tell them they've got the wrong number. I wish they could tell each other and get me out of the loop.

#607 Billion

The next time you hear someone in the government use the word "billion" casually, think about it.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend.

One advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into perspective in one of its releases:

A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

A billion days ago no-one walked on two feet on earth.

And a billion dollars lasts 8 hours and 20 minutes at the rate our government spends it...

Scares the living daylights out of you, doesn't it?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

#606 How I Ruined My Sister's Wedding

Background: I was born in 1944. My brother "Duke" was born in 1949, sister Sheryl in 1950, Janice in 1952, and David in early spring of 1960 I believe, during a difficult delivery that kept my mother in the hospital for months, and too weak to pick him up ever. Her strength gain was always behind his weight gain. So at the age of 15, in the 10th grade, I was the surrogate mother for the household - cooking, cleaning, shopping, changing and laundering diapers, sterilizing bottles, getting up for night feedings, and dealing with my violent father. David was pretty much my baby. I left him with a neighbor while I was in school, and picked him up after.

It was during this period that I first made plans to kill my father if he ever hit David. We lived on an Air Force base (my father was the commander), and it would have been easy to shoot him after a trip to the rifle range with the airmen (I was a darn good shot with a handgun). But I left for college in September of 1962, before David was old enough to be in danger, and I rarely went back for visits after that.

In about 1970, sister Janice got married. The reception was at my parents' home. My mother was a volunteer ride-along with the Orlando police, and the manager of a restaurant popular with the policemen, so she knew them all, and they all adored her. During the reception, there were always two or three patrol cars parked in front of the house. As another car arrived, they'd tweak the siren, and whoever had been there the longest would leave, and the next patrol car would pull in. So the living room was full of on-duty but on-break uniforms.

I walked into the kitchen just in time to see my father slap David so hard he spun. The bride had offered David a sip of champagne from her glass, and my father had walked in just as David tasted it.

I totally freaked.

My father was about 5'5", so in my high heels I was at nose-to-chin level with him. I pushed my face into his and shouted, "If you ever touch him (pointing to David) or her (pointing to my mother) again, I will kill you. I will get a gun, and I'll be on the next plane down here, and you won't know I'm coming. You'll be walking out of the house, or out of the dry cleaners, and I'll be there, and I'll blow your head off. Right between the eyes. Point blank. I will kill you. And there isn't a jury in the world that'll convict me when they hear what you've done to us. And don't think I won't find out. If you touch them someone will tell me. (All three other siblings nodded.) I WILL kill you!"

Then Duke stepped closer and said "And if she doesn't, I will."

Then Sheryl stepped in and said "And if they both miss, I won't."

I turned around to walk out, and saw at least six policemen crowded into the doorway, all looking very shocked, and studying the floor or the ceiling, like they were pretending they hadn't heard anything.

I was shaking so hard Ex#2 had to walk me around the block several times before he thought it was safe to go back to the house. When we got back, the reception was pretty much (prematurely) over.

My father died of a heart attack about 6 years later. I think my mother blamed me - he never did beat anyone again after my threat, and when he died, my mother said "His anger had nowhere to go but his heart."

Incidentally, nobody notified me that he had died until like two weeks after the funeral, so I didn't get to see him dead, to really know that he was dead, and for years afterward I had dreams that he was alive but that people were hiding him from me, and that he was stalking David to beat him. For years after, I rescued David in nightmares.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

#605 This is a Stupid Title

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The dumpster arrived today. I was also supposed to get tubes put in the garden cart tires, so the flippin' things won't twist under a heavy load, lose their air, and fall off, but the tubes didn't come in until late, so I get to have that done tomorrow morning. Then I start tossing! Everything that I haven't used or appreciated in the past two years, or can't think of a specific use for within the next two years, is going! (Um, except books. Books, I need to think harder about.) I'm not going to open all those boxes from Jay's old office. They're going out unopened.

I hope we don't have rain for a while. Today we had "gee, is that snow?" showers. It was about 38 degrees, but the wind was so stiff and cold that my ears fell off while I was showing the man where to put the dumpster.

Neighbor Anna stopped by early this morning, before I was dressed. She's in big trouble. Her husband has cleaned out the accounts and she has no money. She hasn't been able to stay anywhere for more than two nights because he calls all night long wherever she's staying, and after two sleepless nights and a dose of fear her friends ask her to leave. I asked how does he know where she's staying, and she said he calls all of her friends all night. Seems like that should be actionable....

He has a lawyer. I told her she needed one, but she said she has no money and would need a translator.

She got involved with some church group that made her give up the restraining order, telling her that they couldn't help the two of them get back together as long as she had the order against him, and as soon as she gave up the order, that's when he came back to the house and threw her out, and now the church folks have for some reason backed off and won't help her.

I don't completely understand. Her accent gets very thick when she gets emotional.

She says she's been trying to find a job, but - nothing. She wanted me to hire her for something, anything, but I have nothing she could do. And I'm not going to give her anything, either, because now I'm wondering if that's why she first appeared on my doorstep to begin with - because she saw this coming. She says he does this every five years or so, and they'd always gotten back together before. I asked if he beats her, and she said yes, there are hospital records from the last time.

So, I looked up some phone numbers today, and I'll call around tomorrow and see what social services and legal aid might be available, and see if I can help that way. I really really really don't want to get in the middle of this. Anyone who knows anything about my early life should understand why not. But for the exact same reason, I feel really bad for her.

Now, where did I put that Voodoo doll?

#604 More Reasons For Avoiding the News....

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Billings Learned Hand: "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it."

I'm afraid that we're losing it. I was in my late teens and twenties during all the Viet Nam war protests. I remember how everyone had an opinion, and no one was afraid to express it. What has happened? Why have we become so complacent? Why aren't we objecting more strenuously to some of the really rotten things that have been going on? Why can't we quietly protest (T-shirts, placards, signs) anywhere a politician, or a reporter covering a politican, can see it? Why are people still being held without charges or legal representation? Why are our phones being tapped without judicial oversight? Someone said, in the '50s, referring to the fear of Communism, that the greatest threat to liberty is fear. Are we really allowing fear of terrorism to erode our liberties?

I don't understand.

Another thing that's been bugging me is the way "we" want Muslim nations to adopt our system of law and courts instead of Shari'a, and yet "we" want to inject more (radical Christian) religion into our own courts. Muslim Shari'a is not ok, but Christian religious law is?

I don't understand.

Read reports and commentary on Sandra Day O'Connor's speech to a group of lawyers, wherein she voices her fears over attacks on US democracy, which she sees as a path to dictatorship, at
and,,1729345,00.html. Note that she is a Republican, and was appointed to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

#603 Frustration!

I waited all afternoon, and the dumpster never came. The guy called about 3:30 and said that the driver had been held up because high winds had closed the transfer station, slowing him down on his schedule. They'll deliver it tomorrow morning. For my inconvenience, they are going to discount an amount equal to the fuel surcharge and the state tax.

#602 Amusement

The following came off a Yahoo jokes group. Most of the jokes are pretty bad, especially when the German guys try to make up their own. These aren't technically jokes, I guess, but I found them amusing.

All about Marketing

You see a handsome guy at a party. You go up to him and say, "I'm fantastic in bed."
- That's Direct Marketing.

You're at a party with a bunch of friends and see a handsome guy. One of your friends goes up to him and pointing at you says, "She's fantastic in bed."
- That's Advertising.

You see a handsome guy at a party. You go up to him and get his telephone number. The next day you call and say, "Hi, I'm fantastic in bed."
- That's Telemarketing.

You're at a party and see a handsome guy. You get up and straighten your dress. You walk up to him and pour him a drink. You say, "May I," and reach up to straighten his tie brushing yourself slightly against his arm, and then say, "By the way, I'm fantastic in bed."
- That's Public Relations.

You're at a party and see a handsome guy. He walks up to you and says, "I hear you're fantastic in bed."
- That's Brand Recognition.

You're at a party and see a handsome guy. You talk him into going home with your friend.
- That's a Sales Rep.
Your friend can't satisfy him so he calls you.
- That's Tech Support.

You're on your way to a party when you realize that there could be handsome men in all these houses you're passing. So you climb onto the roof of one situated toward the center and shout at the top of your lungs, "I'm fantastic in bed!"
- That's Spam


Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multinational corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

Jesus loves you and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.

HMO's and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's cocaine conviction is none of our business.

Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

What Bill Clinton did in the 1960's is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80's is irrelevant.

Monday, March 13, 2006

#601 Pity Post

Monday, March 13, 2006

Marge Simpson: We can't afford to shop at any store that has a philosophy.


You know, one of the things that happens to me over and over, and always distresses me, is that my accomplishments get ignored. Over and over at work, people got awards for things I had done to no acclaim the month before. One summer at work I turned in over $3,700,000 in cost effectiveness achievements, the most they had ever received in one year from one person ever. Six months later, they started a "Millionaires Club" for anyone who did a million or over, with awards and bulletin board recognition. They didn't make it retroactive. I was never mentioned. No one ever knew. (I didn't even know until then that over a million was something special.) Stuff like that happens to me all the time.

So I went to the spa last Friday, and there's a board, "Congratulations!" to the following members, who had lost 2" or more over the past month. I lost 4". I wasn't on the board. And I'm a lot smaller than anyone else, so it's proportionately an even greater accomplishment. Left out and forgotten again.

It didn't surprise me. Sometimes I feel invisible.


The man came early today to clean the furnace, so that's out of the way for another year. While he was here I took the torn tire off the garden cart. If I take it to the tire store in Rhinebeck, they can order a new one for me. I really want to use that cart to get stuff up the hill from the basement to the dumpster, but I'm afraid I won't get the new tire in time. All I can do is try....

#600 Sunday Goddess

Monday, March 13, 2006

Laverne on "Empty Nest": Those who help those who won't help themselves are stupid.


Man, I'm so goddessed-out I can't even remember yesterday. Everything is all running together.

There were a few children at the fest. One particular little boy (6 years old?) was totally out of control all three days. If he wasn't running in circles and climbing on everything, he was up on the balcony that wrapped around the room throwing hats and napkins down onto the stage and dance floor, or running the circle around the balcony - thud thud thud while people were trying to perform. And his father sat there in dreds and rasta cap smiling at the kid. Like he was proud of him. (This IS Woodstock, after all.)

After I had left Saturday night, the kid knocked something glass off the counter, something made of very thin glass, so Sunday there were tiny shards of glass all over the floor, tracked everywhere. The girls dance in bare feet! So The Pixie and I swept the floor. And swept and swept. My comment was that I'd like to spank the kid's father.

I remember (and my memory is all mixed up now) only one group dancing Sunday, Serpentessa's advanced students. They were fun. One very pretty girl didn't smile the whole time - a few times she almost broke into a smile and then she quashed it. It's ok to keep a deadpan expression when dancing, but when you do, you should keep your eyes lowered, or look at your hands. That sends the feeling of shyness, or intense internal communion. Otherwise, deadpan audience contact looks like fear or boredom. If you look up, if you make eye contact with the audience, you really should have some expression. A smile, anger, challenge, flirtation, wonder, something.

There was a beautiful white-haired woman who played the guitar and sang. She was good, and enjoyable. But, well, it's Woodstock. I don't always "get" the music. Especially original stuff. And it was hard to hear the words over that rotten kid. She also sang one song in duet with the woman who sang at the harp on Saturday, and the harmony was very nice.

The Gypsy, the Pixie, and I walked to the art gallery to see the Dark Prince's work. I was expecting photographs, because that's what I know of him, but there was only one (amazing) photograph. The rest of his work was paintings, his chief interest. We've gotta get him to do some larger work for next year.

The owner of the gallery had some wood pieces of her own work displayed, double-sided panels about 7 feet tall, carved/painted/inlaid. I was very interested in one of them, and asked how much it was (I expected a high figure - the amount of work in them was amazing), and then found out that they were three of a four-part set, that, when finished, would sell for something like $170,000. Oops.

A postscript: Concerning the college group that danced Saturday, it turns out I called it right. They don't have an instructor. They just got together and started dancing.

Driving home, I took a side trip past the little four-room log cabin I had lived in when I first moved to this area. (The place in Ruby that I had showed you, Daughter.) Well, it isn't there any more. Instead, there's a big two-story colonial!

And another piece of nostalgia bites the dust.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

#599 Saturday Goddess

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Amos B. Alcott: To be ignorant of one's ignorance is the malady of the ignorant.

Another interesting evening in Woodstock.

The first group of dancers was from a local "artsy-fartsy" expensive private local college (no, not Vassar). Which meant that a lot of students had come to see their friends dance. They were NOT a nice bunch of kids. They were loud and drunk, and out of every five words, one was the "f-word", and the other was "like". At least that was true of the bunch clustered around where I was sitting, at the end of the bar. They especially frustrated me because they had no respect for the performers. There was a woman playing a harp and singing, and when she began playing, the kids, instead of hushing so others could hear, got louder so they could be heard over the performer. If I were running the show, I'd have thrown them out (or at least asked them to move to the lobby). They were so loud that the singer at first thought her mike wasn't working.

Then the college group danced. Now, before I tear into them, I should note that I realize that they are students, and they probably haven't been studying mid-eastern dance for long. However, there are some very basic things that they should know before they get up on a stage. Like, I doubt that anyone has ever mentioned the word "isolation" to any of them. It looked like they had seen a bellydancer somewhere, and said "Hey, that's easy. I can do that!" and proceeded to do so. Ladies, if you don't know how to do snake arms, don't do them! And it's a shoulder shake, NOT a boob shake! Isolate those ribs! And never EVER kick back and display the sole of your foot to the audience. I was shocked - that's a gross insult! Please remain rooted to the earth. You draw your strength from the earth.

One of the group was apparently the instructor. She had good moves, but there was heavy jazz and ballet mixed into her solo, which is ok only if you call it "fusion".

The place was full of experienced mid-eastern dancers, and it was significant that although there was plenty of applause for them (dancers will always appreciate and support courage) there were NO zagreets*. Not even from me, and I'll do it at the drop of a veil.

Lady Aleeza did her tambourine dance, which I always like. However, she didn't do the super sexy apache-like dance with her husband. He was in full costume, so I had assumed he would be dancing too, but he just drummed.

The Gypsy (Crimson Gypsy Designs) had her renaissance fashion show. I'd seen a lot of her clothing in photos and occasionally on dressmaker dummies, or running through a sewing machine, but this was the first time I'd seen her things on bodies in motion. Gypsy, I'm changing my planned order. I want the "Ruffled Chemise with Gauntlet Cuff Sleeves" and either the "Classic Bodice" or the "Victorian Sweetheart Corset". Or both. I'll probably need a lot of custom fitting (even with the weight off my measurement ratios will be unusual), so let's talk after I've lost the rest of the weight, and when you have a slow period. Like next fall, maybe.

You can always tell when a very special dancer is next up. At Rakkasah, the enormous room full of a gazillion vendors and attendees suddenly goes quiet, and people stand three deep along the walls near the stage and sit on the floor practically under the apron. And they wait. The anticipation is palpable. After the fashion show last night, the room suddenly went quiet. Women, especially other dancers, sat on the floor in front of the tables, encroaching on the dance space, which had not been done for any other dancer. People edged up to the pastry case like they were pretending to buy something, but instead turned, three deep, to the dance floor. An anticipatory hush descended. And then Willow danced.

I know she knows she's good, but I don't think she knows how good. She does incredibly difficult things with no apparent effort. She flows and floats, with incredible strength and muscle control and no bones and pure feeling for the music. (Willow, I wouldn't want you to get a swelled head, so stop reading about a paragraph back.) The zagreets are quieter because when she dances, everyone's throat closes.

We have been urging her to dance at Rakkasah - she should be better known, and she's in her prime right now - but she has always been too busy. Her life is full, and it's here, which is good, but I feel like the rest of the country is missing something by not having seen her dance. A sadness.

I skipped out early again, before the last dancer. I had been sitting on a stool, and my back had about had it by 11 pm.

Going back today.

(*Zagreet - ululations. A piercing sound of encouragement. Also zaghreet, zahgreet, zagreeb, sahgreeb, and multiple other variations. Open your mouth slightly, and say "lu lu lu lu". Now tighten your throat, pitch your voice higher, pull your tongue back a bit, and "lu lu" faster. Your tongue should vibrate, with a buzz, against the top front of your palate.)