I am guessing I have now paid off about 7/10s of the temples I burned down in a past life

I take some steroids for breakfast, some codeine for DIZ-sert/
By the time they bring the pancakes, I’m only partly alert

(With non-apologies to Kanye West but I will link to the lyrics page because that seems to make them send me emails to ask me to stop linking to them. Jolly times.)

Up betimes and pretending to do my taxes, except actually emailing with my contractor, Jolly Mike Ehrmantrout, about some last minute plumbing stuff. It turns out the pipes under the bathroom sink faucet are not long enough to make a connection to the water below. Ha! Solutions are being solicited and bandied. I had to ride my tauntaun to the outlands of West Seattle yesterday to see if they carried a faucet that would come with long pipes.

Also:

Me neither, JME! This means I get to see Jackass Plumber again. The last time I saw him around Xmas he “fixed” my laundry set up, then left, and my basement trench flooded. I was not supposed to see Jackass Plumber on Thursday when he was here and was to be finishing everything up, since I was supposed to be at work, but I got derailed again (more on that soon). He came up to talk at me about pipe problems and give me some bizarre recommendations for faucet brands. I brought one recommendation to the plumbing store in West Seattle and they pulled out the catalog and said, “Er…see, that brand doesn’t really do residential, just mostly pretty plain industrial-purpose stuff.” Er okay.

Since Jackass Plumber woke me up, he kind of figured out I was sick. That and the giant pile of pill bottles on the table, which were not arranged so artfully then.

If we are keeping score at home, that’s two types of steroids now, an inhaler, Tylenol 3, Vicodin, and Ativan for sleeping. Last month I was taking the occasional Advil, and now look at me. My pill regime comes with a booklet with FUCK YES CAPLOCKS instructions on how and when to take all of these pills. Stapled onto it is a helpful pamphlet titled: “Will You Ever Poop Again? Your Guess is as Good as Ours.”

This could be the motto for blogging, yes? I should cross stitch this onto something.

I told the plumber, briefly, that it happened in Hawaii last month and was still kind of a mystery. He launched into a story about Kehei and how his wife tried snorkling but her fake boobs were too big and she kept popping up again? He said something about saline, but it seemed just as likely somehow that he thought that’s what regular boobs are made of. I am barely standing, here, bub. I don’t want to hear about The Wife’s (I think that may be her actual given name) “pontoons.”

Jackass Plumber promised to be quiet, but I was really worried about P., who was trying to sleep so he could function well when the girls got home. We are trying to stay very engaged with them in a normal way. For the first two weeks I was home when I was sleeping, sleeping (pre-steroid wakies) I would force myself to get up around the end of school and let them yam on about their day and ask questions and sign field trip forms and make promises for upcoming kid functions I hoped at least one of us could fulfill.

P. was so tired because he had gotten up with me Thursday morning at 3:30 to take me to the ER, since my breath was getting so short I was wheezing. This was one on my list of red flags supplied by urgent care on Thursday. “Go if your breathing gets worse or is labored.” This won’t get any worse, I thought. And then it woke me up. I’ve never had asthma, but I was told that’s what it looked like and sounded like. The ER is pretty nice at four a.m. on a Thursday. Apparently no one was out getting their arms sliced off or anything, so I had the joint to myself.

They checked for congestive heart failure, since the inflammation is traveling inward and that is a likely place for it to go, and cleared that. I had a CT scan on my lungs to look for blood clots. Being injected with iodine, if you’ve never experienced it, was not fun. It really burned going in, which I was not warned about, since it wasn’t supposed to happen. The pain hit my toes and I started crying. The tech started out by warning me that when it went into my veins it was very warming and I would feel like I was peeing myself, but I wasn’t. That hit me suddenly, and I did have to go, and I was convinced it was happened. “Well, this is it. I’m going to have to tell her now that I actually did it.” But I hadn’t. Dark magicks!

This bad boy took four jabs and two nurses to get in, but thank heavens it worked so they could proceed to poison me with iodine.

I was also given some kind of breathing mask thing that issues a mist that I was supposed to suck down for ten minutes to open me up. “I’m skeptical that this will work,” the ER doctor said, “since I don’t think this is an asthma-type reaction but some other kind of inflammation. But it won’t hurt.”

The nurse removed the mask when the medicine was gone. “Now how’s that?” she asked.

“Are my lungs supposed to hurt now?” I asked, in the most polite tone I could muster. No, she told me, surprised. I knew they were trying to help. Holy hell did I spend the rest of the day annoyed about that every time I coughed. Lung rage. I told them I felt like I had a small cat on my chest now instead of a great big one. I was back to wheezing by last night but now I have an inhaler which seems to be helping?

Also as of yesterday I am losing my voice, so I assume my vocal chords are inflamed as well? My nose is bleeding too (lightly), but I think it’s because my whole body is dry. I douse myself in the take-no-prisoners, wait fifteen minutes before sitting on a slippery surface, industrial-strength moisturizer anyway, because that is how my skin rolls, and it usually is happy for twenty-four hours or so. But my skin on my legs and arms is peeling off in sheets and pills, as if I sustained a bad sunburn weeks ago.

Everyone I see says the same thing–they cannot decide if it is auto-immune attacks (extreme body pain and inflammation), or if I still have an infection (extreme body pain and fevers). Or both. The roulette wheel has been spun and my primary care doc has referred me to an infectious diseases specialist. So I’m going to pay him a visit on Monday. More tests have rolled in–no dengue, no HIV. Still waiting on Lyme’s.

I’m thinking about writing up a little history of this to bring in since it’s long. The timeline. What I feel like now. What I felt like when it was acting like “normal” flu at first. What I feel like when they taper me off steroids right now. (Like this: ;;;;____;;;;) There’s a lot there.

I’m trying to get on part time at work next week and for the next little while. I tried to work full time last week and the first half of the day was decent and productive and the second part of the day was extremely painful and distracting. It’s pretty weird being on a double dose of steroids, now though. I think it’s making me a little manic. So I am shuffling around very productively. I cleaned the leather in my house, and busted out the Murphy’s oil soap and went to town on a midcentury tiled tray that needed some spiffing up. I used to eyeball trays like these at Antika (r.i.p) but they were always four times as much there. But now I have the hook up. I also oil soaped a giant tiki shield that I am going to hang in the bathroom as well, in case some Visigoths invade and I cannot find a towel. Basically I want to oil soap all of the old wood in my house now, especially my velvet painting frames which I can never quite undust completely. I think spring is making me projecty, which I will do very sloooowly.

I’ve been hitting my hook up spot for ye olde crap in search of tiki theme thinggummies for the basement bathroom, which is going to be a janked up fruity paradise wherein I could entice magically undead Gauguin in take a bath with me. (Note to self: procure Gauguin prints.) But of course I see other things there. Like the tray.

No scotch, which is for the best right now, but still kind of a sad look. Part of me wants to fill them with tea or pus or something decorative for just now.

Also, asking for a friend, do you know anything about the care and feeding of these jobbers? This is a lamp, which, when turned on, oil beads cascade down the strings. It is very classy, like courvoisier and pina colada butt lotion However, alas, a couple of strings are “jammed” and the spice does not flow. Also her center needs to be dusted so it’s off for now.

Observant readers will notice that this “friend” also has decided with her impeccable taste and infinite wisdom to paint her dining room bronze as well. Quelle coïncidence!

Seriously though I am going to have to sign P. up for some clubs or something so he can be gone more at dinner time, so he will not obstruct my view of her perfectness.

Okay, I don’t appear to be receiving my life’s guarantee of death today, so I better start its counterpart, taxes.

Thirty-five dollars and a six-pack to my name

So what happened in April is that I had a new baby. Okay, I did not HAVE it. Someone else did. That is complete hyperbole. TSK TSK SHAAAME. But between getting up twice a night and having laserlike focus on the ground level, kind of like having a toddler, I have been TIRED. Also I started a new..wait for it…job. But at this one my status is FTE. Fancy that, I am not a contractor now. Anyway, boring.

Complete and utter gormlessness. That’s not true. Horace is a good boy! WHOOOOO’S A GOOD BOY? AND WHOOOO’S going to be a calendar someday! Monetize the canine! J/K, that’s gross.

I have a lot to tell you, but I imagine it’s best to let it out in dribs and drabs like this is less of a blog and more like some kind of fistula.

xoxo,
Asshole Girl

The Curious Incident of the Asshole in the Afternoon (Epic)

“But it’s Mine!” screamed the bird, when she heard the egg crack.
(the work was all done. Now she wanted it back.)
“It’s my egg!” she sputtered. “You stole it from me!
Get off of my nest and get out of my tree!”

Horton Hatches the Egg

Dear Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity Diary,

So what happened in court? I hope I am not boring you with my, um, life, but I have to get this all down so I don’t forget it. Yesterday I was the petitioner, so I got the opportunity via paperwork to make the initial arguments, he replied, and then we got one more chance to rebut statements via more arguments and exhibits. The action was a Motion to Modify the Parenting Plan.

As I mentioned in a previous post, what was at stake was:
1. Would we be allowed to modify the parenting plan? The problem with the parenting plan was that it was 50/50 time, which does not work out when a kid has over an hour commute to her father’s house. This is a tricky one and I’ll discuss it in more detail.

2. Would we be allowed to roll back to the “temporary” plan that we had followed since he moved in 2008? Last month the temporary judge had ruled that we would be moving back in time to 2005, meaning she would be commuting 3 hours on school days and one time on Sunday.

3. Could a guardian ad litem be appointed to examine the child’s life, speak to her, her family, look at her home, and so forth, in order to speak for her in court should the case go to trial?

His argument was that we should keep the 2005 parenting plan.

The trial date is set for October 2012. I guess this problem is solved since the world is going to end next year anyway! Just kidding, this situation is still going to keep stinking up a small corner of my life.

Short answer: the commissioner ruled in our favor. She said a LOT of things, some of which I will describe. First, she was about a half hour late returning. Court was supposed to start at 1:30 p.m.–we were the only case to be heard (the other two were no-shows) and we sat adjacent to each other, waiting, waiting. I felt like we were twisting, dangling over a cliff.

I snuck looks at SeaFed and it looked like he was working on his laptop and chatting with his lawyer occasionally. He was wearing the same terrible suit coat and tan pants and a blue tie. When he first came to the hall and walked by us in he was wearing a flat cap and snapping his gum. I had that feeling like I wanted to kick him under a table or something, which I have actually done before.

Seattle courts don’t look anything like the pristine courtrooms of stage and screen. There are boxes of printer paper laying around, the clerks have mini-fans and cacti, and there were coats piled up on what I think is a witness stand.

Finally, we were called up. My lawyer was allowed to make arguments for more than the allotted five minutes, since the courtroom was empty, and his lawyer did the same. His lawyer led with a paraphrase from Sherlock Holmes, saying what was significant was that the dog didn’t bark. Either I am about to see some wind get inherited, or he has nothing, I thought to myself. His lawyer talked about the fact that the document we submitted about her crying in class was the first day of her commute, and nothing after that. I found this frustrating, because she had continued to talk to her counselor and some of her teachers, but indeed, there was no other written documentation about the fact that Franny was still upset throughout the month. Thus, “the dog didn’t bark.” THE DOG WAS BARKING, OK?

The commissioner gave her opinion then. “Does this meet the requirements for modification?” she asked. “I will go through them, all four points, and speak to them.” I could have died then. If I lost, I would have to hear her opinion on all the points. She had already spoken at length by then, and I felt like I was being roasted over a spit on some mezzanine of Hell listening to her opening remarks. The RCW is lengthy on this, but she hit four points.

1. Was what was happening considered to be permanent by the parents and child? Was the child integrated into my household? She spoke at length to this, but my summary is, yes. The commissioner said that she felt three years was long enough in a child’s life to constitute a permanent change. Not to be outdone by SeaFed’s lawyer quoting Sherlock, she paraphrased Shakespeare and commented that you can call our living situation a rose all day, but it was actually a daffodil.

She asked the opposing attorney if he could say that Franny could not be integrated into our home because she already WAS integrated into our home (which was his argument), due to the fact that we started at 50/50, would he take it to the extreme and claim that a child who was under a 50/50 plan but lived with one parent for 363 days a year and spent the other two with the other parent–would he not say that child was logically more a part of the majority household just because the plan in place said the parents were 50/50? She rejected the notion that a wibbly-wobbly 50-50 custody plan could not be changed just because the plan was supposed to be equal. Shit, bitches, this is when I am so happy to have a lawyer. Also, according to their side, I was trying to pull a “fast one” on him by sneakily taking care of our kid after he moved.

2. Was there a substantial deviation in the parenting plan? Yes. It was no longer 50/50. Franny’s life takes place in Seattle. Her father lives in another city. The commissioner talked about the importance of friends and social activities for a teenlet and how it’s important to respect that.

3. Was it by agreement, was there consent given to change the parenting plan? Yes.

By this point we had racked up three and I tell you I was shitting myself. You don’t want to stand there stupidly in your doofy clown clothes looking crazy, so I settled for wringing my hands instead of crawling under the table or wetting myself. I did start crying when I realized we were winning because I was so relieved.

The commissioner decided that because SeaFed had signed paperwork in our 2007 mediation that looked VERY like the schedule we were following from 2008 onward, and for the simple fact that he had allowed the schedule to continue, that his consent was given.

4. Would keeping the parenting plan in its current state harm the child? YES. YES. YES. That’s about all I can say about that.

So she rolled it back to the “temporary” parenting plan, which we have been doing for the past 3+ years. She ordered that we mediate in the next 60 days. I liked what she said about how many times we have found a way to agree on arrangements in the past, which is absolutely true. We also were ordered to appoint a guardian ad litem in the hallway in case mediation failed.

SeaFed bargain-basemented on the GAL, picking people solely on price. His attorney did not really know many of the GALs, which made sense to me, since my lawyer cannot remember opposing him in family court. (My lawyer mentioned that she trained to be a GAL but then was advised that she should park at peoples’ houses and other places with her car facing out for a quick getaway and then realized it was not a life for her.) This sounds right for him, really. Penny wise, pound foolish. I thought it was funny in a way, because I know he just bought himself and his stay-at-home wife and retired mother-in-law new iPhones. IN A WAY.

I picked Franny up after and broke the news to her.

“We won.”

She was SO HAPPY. We went out to our favorite teriyaki place and my appetite has shrunk to about half of my normal bento-hoovering abilities, but that will change soon enough. She is looking forward to VISITING his house this weekend and coming back home on Monday.

So, mediation again. I am a bit nervous that if he runs out of money he will hit up his Daddy Warbucks for it. As always, stay tuned, and thanks for reading and telling me I am not crazy. Court is hard. Court lines (don’t do it). On the other hand, if $LASTNAME vs $LASTNAME is someday precedent for getting someone out of a pickle when they are 50/50 and in an integration dispute, I would be happy, though I will never know.

Dear MF Diary: YOU CAN PIN AND MOUNT ME LIKE A BUTTERFLY

Dear Sparkleprincess Unicorn Slambook,

HI HOW ARE YOU? This is that post where I am saying I should be doing something else right now, specifically editing recipes. That’s going well. What a difference a day makes, as they say, or maybe that’s more like eight months. Sometimes you have to dump things for a while and have a good cry to find your passion for them again. In other news, I hate posts like this, because it’s sort of like when someone is making a grocery list in their head while they’re having sex with you.

“Eggs!”

“Yeah, EGGS, baby!”

“No, we are OUT of eggs.”

My boner!

Longcat is long, so you know it’s warm.

New contract is going well. It’s in one of Seattle’s “fun” neighborhoods and the commute if very reasonable. I am making zucchini bread. The recipe calls for “three medium zucchinis” but if your zucchini is the size of a baby, then the recipe should call for “half a baby,” eh?

I thought my Victorian recipes were pretty complete other than that pesky “conversion to British” thing, but it’s taking a bit. Cups are going over to grams, liquid measures are going over to ml. A British pint in not a US pint, but you are so smart and probably knew that already.

Goethe gerroff my zucchini batter.

That’s better.

I do still have my other two cats, of course, it’s just that Gertie Pie is the one who comes around.

I am listening to the Song of Ice and Fire series via audiobook. I think at this point it’s almost a habit more than anything. I hate it when I get into this loop where I can’t decide if I’m enjoying myself or not, yet I continue. This seems like a very human thing to do, eh? Deer are more “there is not try, only do,” I think. Sometimes I wake up while listening to them and I’m on some weird chapter and someone is getting stabbed and I’m all WTF is happening, you fell asleep again, dummy. But most of the time I am upright and listening properly.

Lemon cucumbers for days! I eat them like apples. Yum!

En dotry nouvelles

Franny called yesterday, from her father’s house. I’ve been so scattered with new job and the abrupt end of old job that I realized I’ve been blurting on Twitter but have not written properly about things. Franny called to say she misses me and cannot wait to come home on the first, and that she was delighted to receive a letter from her sister yesterday. It sounds like she’s having fun visiting as well, though. I told her that just an hour before I had walked to the local plastics store and bought two sheets of plastic to construct a guinea pig habitat–she’s getting guinea pigs for her eleventh birthday in October. It’s going to be her jam, with heavy supervision from me to make sure the enclosure stays clean and whatnot. So now I’m reading up on them on a few sites. Really enjoying this one–it’s chockablock with guinea pig “activists” among the actual decent information, so occasionally you can watch them run someone off for not doing everything exactly right. OH INTERNET.

Two things have happened. I received a letter from the prosecuting attorney’s office saying that all the 4,000 pieces of personal and financial information they had requested from me had been received; were adequate; were processed, and now I have a COURT CASE and that I would hear from them regarding court date etc. “soon.” I may hear from them soon, but I reckon that I won’t have an actual court date until sometime around Q2 of next year. That’s OKAY. I am a tortoise.

For my mediation appointment with SeaFed we were required by the mediator to submit a statement saying why we wanted to mediate. I’m grateful to her for this since it clarified everything for me like bang. I would not allow myself to reply “I don’t want to mediate” so I made myself put “to appear cooperative,” which is a pretty shitty reason to do anything you’ll spend a lot of money on and get nothing out of (forced parenting class during my divorce comes to mind as well). He replied, well past the courtesy deadline the mediator asked for, naturally: “My purpose in mediating is to nullify the temporary living arrangement we’ve been adhering to and return to the original parenting plan.”

Well, that tore it. What a colossal waste of time this expensive discussion would be. I was also lulzing at the fact that when SeaFed is put into some kind of grown-up communication situation, he never uses one word when three officious ones would do, much like I imagine a twelfth-grade honors English essay reads. With a great sense of relief, I cancelled the appointment, saying that I didn’t think it was the right venue in which to make a change like this…because…it’s NOT.

The plan for now is to carry on until things change somehow, meaning he gets mad enough about child support to sue me to move to 50/50 time and I lose. I know he will object to child support once he officially gets a chance to do so (it’s worth noting that he STILL has not mentioned that I’ve filed for child support in any of our communications). I’m relieved that child support and the state of the parenting plan are two separate issues, requiring separate efforts, paperworks being filed, attorney fees. I got an email from his father the other day that led me to believe he has no idea that his son is being sued for child support, which makes me think SeaFed hasn’t hit his dad up for attorney fees yet.

Since my brain is back with a vengeance and steel trappin up and down and all over town, I’m going to create a schedule for this next school year, holidays included, using last year’s calendar for reference to see whose turn it is to have Thanksgiving and whatnot. This is partly prompted by sadness and irritation at his lack of ability to get his shit together to figure out what time he’d like to pick his daughter up at the appointed location before the day of this summer. I don’t have time to fuck with this shit now that I am back to a desk job for now. It’s the same old shit as always, but I’d like to take a break from confused, last-minute emails for the school year, thank you. The last time I made a schedule for SeaFed to follow ended with him drunkenly screaming at me from a party. But that will not happen again, because we are older and wiser now, yes? (Ha.)

So, I have been validated by the County of King: I have a COURT CASE. Soon I will have a COURT DATE. I have cancelled mediation. I have lost my hobbles and this has become such a small part of my life and concerns…why my 2004 self would hardly recognize my 2011 self. Looking forward to having a last hurrah out of town before school starts.

Morgan’s Story

On Monday night, I got a very excited text from the casino. The next morning I got the rest of the story.

“I woke up and I had this funny feeling!” Morgan said about Monday.

“Me too,” I said. “I was like, excited for no reason. Slightly manic.”

“Yes!”

“Well, for me it was probably the girls being back at school after spring break…”

“ANYWAY! It was weird. I checked my horoscope. ‘Today is a lucky day for Cancer with money,’ it said. I thought about that. I went to work. Everything was great! I told my co-worker near the end of the shift that I had this funny feeling and we needed to go to the bingo hall.

“We’re about to close and she calls her boyfriend in Olympia who is driving up and says ‘TURN AROUND AND GO HOME MORGAN SAYS WE HAVE TO GO TO THE BINGO HALL.’

“We get to the bingo hall and it’s closed! Everyone is leaving and the workers are standing around going ‘closed early, closed early,’ who knows why? So I told my friend that we had to go to the casino!”

“Wow,” I said.

“I went in planning to spend only $40. I started on a slot machine and BAM, I won $37. I put it into my wallet. Then I played again, BAM! TRIPLE SEVENS! The payout was $500! All the old ladies surrounded me and said ‘Oh, honey, what did you get?’ and I said ‘I GOT THE MONEY I NEEDED TO PAY FOR MY DIVORCE!”

Last night she came home from work and said that most of the staff had heard the news about her winnings.

“Were they trying to marry you?” I asked.

“No!” she said.

“Watch out for gold diggers.”

“You should have played the Lotto, dude.”

“Ah, I don’t gamble ever,” I said.

“It was hard to put that money into the bank,” she sighed.

Please Keep Me In Mind/20-Feb Taibas Jones Glorious

Last night, well. Is it a good idea to make an appointment to tell someone something terrible? I don’t know. I have a lot to say.

I had thought that I was solely clean up crew, in the wake of SeaFed being unhelpful regarding my mother, but that’s never really how it works. Of course my sister was trying to clean things up too.

My sister and I sat at my table at the appointed hour, watching her cell ring on speaker phone, leaning over it–CALLING: MOM. My sister said later that I looked queasy, which I believe, but I actually felt pretty calm. My mother picked up and my sister did her best, explaining that she thought that SeaFed had gotten off the point in his conversation with my mother earlier that week.

In a patented SeaFed move, he sent Morgan an email assuring her that he told our mother that Morgan had a problem with her and her drinking right now, which Morgan had asked to be left out of and did not want to interfere with or pass judgment on. She told him several times that she was speaking to him on my behalf with regards to my concerns about Franny spending time with her, and her relationship wasn’t the issue.

“I don’t need HIM to talk to my mother for me about how I feel about anything,” she said earlier in the week. No kidding. Good gravy. The thought of SeaFed as mediator, healer, peacekeeper, FAMILY UNITER, makes my special vein in my forehead come out to say hello to everyone.

Then it was my turn. I decided to get right to it, since there were no pleasantries to exchange.

“We’ve decided that going forward, visits with Franny will be supervised.”

This was apparently new information; SeaFed had told me that he would be discussing this when he spoke to my mother, since he is the one who maintains contact with her. I could hear anger and indignation oozing out of her voice. I don’t blame her really. I wouldn’t want to be sneak attacked with…me.

She asked where this came from and I told her I had compelling evidence that things were out of control regarding her drinking. That kind of confrontation, accusation, that one really blows the doors off things.

“WHAT? Who is telling you this? You don’t KNOW me anymore, you haven’t for years,” she said. “You don’t know what I do.”

I reminded her that Morgan is in my life, that things were the same when I was a kid, that Franny was a witness to her drinking.

“What have I DONE to hurt Franny?” she said. I stuck to my point. I was not going to argue with her, to tell her I was right and she was wrong and bad. It was just about a parental decision, and that decision was not open for her to debate. I did not say, but I had hoped, that SeaFed could carry this one message to her without my involvement, but here we were. I picture Lucy Ricardo running around in the switchboard inside his head, frantically pulling lines out of holes and shoving them into others willy-nilly.

“Fine, if this is all this is about, I will stop drinking right now. I quit as of this moment,” she said. In a way I cannot really explain, it hurt me to hear the conviction and sincerity in her voice.

“Okay,” I said. “We can revisit things when you are serious about sobriety. Perhaps a year in.”

“How will you even KNOW, SJ? How will you KNOW what I do? You won’t know what I do when you’re not around.” My sister and I glanced at each other–whiplash.

“You’re right. I don’t know what you do when I’m not around. I made the choice to be away from you for myself and my kids.” I can only operate on the information I have, I thought, which doesn’t sound starkly different than the way things were when I was growing up.

“This is about YOU,” she spat. “You’re SO bitter. You’re such a bitter person. This is about how I gave your kitten away when you were five. You hold grudges for years, don’t you?”

“This call is to tell you that SeaFed and I have decided that visits with Franny will be supervised now.”

“Well, you’re showing me. You FINALLY found an opening to punish me with. You took away my grandchildren and now this. Who’s going to supervise these visits, anyway? How are you going to enforce this?”

“This isn’t about punishing you, this is about me doing what’s best for Franny. When we agreed on this, SeaFed said he was willing to do it. There can be breakfasts or other meals together without alcohol. I’m sure you’d be welcome to go out where they live, too.”

“Ha! SeaFed said this was ALL YOU. That is was ALL COMING FROM YOU and he had nothing to do with this.” If this is at all true it might explain why she sounded surprised when I had stated my purpose at the outset–maybe? A few things she said seemed like half-truths–they just felt off.

“Okay, if that’s the case, then I will supervise the visits.” I slipped then. She riled me. “I’m sure we have a lot of catching up to do. It will be so much fun.” I’m not proud of that, at all.

There was really nothing else for me to say after that. I thought it was fair that she asked why and was willing to answer. I forgot how manipulative she can be, how mercurial. I listened to her heap abuse on my sister for what amounts to telling my mother’s secrets.

One thing that I hate about an emotional abuse situation is when the the person with the problem explodes if the abused person tries to take ownership of their own experiences and relate them to other people, rather than keeping it a secret. It was obviously a massive betrayal that Morgan had told me about my mother’s behavior around Christmas, which was scary and hurtful. There was no personal responsibility, only us attacking and betraying her.

After it was over, Morgan and I compared notes and we caught her in a couple of lies, so I’m not really sure what’s been said elsewhere. I’m willing to white knuckle through this weekend and give SeaFed a pass until I talk to him today or tomorrow. I did not slag on him during the call and presented a united front, which to my knowledge, it is. I’m going to present me dealing with my mother from here forward as a good thing and something I am taking off his hands, and thank you so much for dealing with the hassle of the commute for this long.

Most of the things my mother said to me did not really bother or surprise me. I spent a lot of time crying over the past in the past, and I am content with my decision. The only things that really bothered me was the implication that I was happy about causing this “havoc,” about turning the table over like this. I feel like if she could at all see straight right now, she would know that my ideal situation is everyone in my family fucking skipping together and holding hands with matching bows in our hair or beards.

There was also the implicit threat in a few of her statements that I don’t have control, that I don’t really know what’s going on, I felt it hovering over me. “I will take advantage of the chaos in your life” because I don’t have a reliable co-parent in SeaFed. I have let go of a lot of my control over things anyway, so I wouldn’t say I’m even approaching panic.

If there’s one thing being divorced has taught me, if you keep your head down and keep plodding and being the best parent you’re able to be, things may change, as in, you may be given the gift of your ex-husband leaving a voicemail message to say he is moving away the next week. And in the meantime, while you are hoping that things will get better, you look up and remember that you are doing all the best parenting you can and that your kid loves you and feels safe.

“It’s corny,” I said to Morgan, near the end of the night and the end of our energy. “But you know what we’re doing here? We’re breaking the cycle, for you, for me, for the girls, for if you have kids. We can do better.”

************

I dreamt I was crossing the street. It was my old house, the cul-de-sac I had grown up on. To my surprise Nietzsche came exploding out of the neighbor’s bushes. There must have been some mistake; I got new cats when my cat was actually right here. She was so glossy and young-looking, and looked up at me expectantly like she always did to be petted. She was never a leg-swirler or meower.

The neighbor came towards me from her yard.

“She looks so good!” I said, petting her smooth coat and feeling her healthy flesh underneath.

“Yeah, it turns out you just weren’t taking care of her right,” she said.

“Oh.”

“This is for the best,” she said, and turned away as I started crying.

“You Might Know Me From Such Films as, ‘I Can’t Sing, But Neither Can You.”

POLL: Awesome book title?

Hors D’œuvres From Chaos

This is the next-next-next book! Next title will be 26 words long, I think. Yes, I do think I am Goddam Fiona Apple, thanks for asking. Next-next is untitled, and I hope will be a picture book starring everyone’s favorite petty criminal and deadbeat dad. No, not HIM. I said “FAVORITE.”

I confess to you now: writing is this thing that I can’t stop doing, even though half the time I feel like my chest is going to cave in or my brain is going to pop or something. I write well sometimes, and terribly often, and I put it all away and do nothing with it and get told off by opinionated people for losing the discs or letting a computer die without a backup. Part of me doesn’t care what happens to it; part of me cares so much I can’t stand to see it ever again.

Can I make that meet in the middle and cough something up? A few years ago I put together a pilot and pitch with some people for television. Hardly anyone saw it, but I think it was a step in the right direction. I did not die from someone else reading my work. It is a funny thing to love something so much and yet feel such anxiety around it.

Cooking By The Book

I seem to be segueing into some kind of early fall hermity thing. I LIKE IT, BY JOVE. It’s keeping me out of trouble and writing, which is always good. Posts here are going to be kind of kid-heavy for the next little while, I think. I hate to be all cats-and-crystals about things, but I am pretty far into my own head…and at the same time nothing is happening. It’s like the Fat Head of John Travolta in an infinity mirror on some kind of film loop. It doesn’t make sense, and at the same time nothing’s happening. I am reading and writing a lot, and the postcard summary is that I’m Happy and Keeping Busy. I will let you know if I am doing something, or, you know, leave the house to go somewhere besides the grocery store.

Franny asked me to dye her hair, like for real, for real Oprah-Winfrey-whole-segment for real. She cleaned bathrooms for a few weeks in a row to earn the moneys. Are you sure, I asked her. She was really pissed when she was 5 and her father took her in to get her hair bleached to be a flower girl at the wedding of a cousin she barely sees. Is it okay to demand that a human prop in your wedding risk scalp blisters? I will let you decide, gentle reader.

Is it okay to do it now? I will let you decide that as well. I told her it would sting. We did it. Now she sort of looks like that adorable child from Lazytown. I need to snap a pic of her today. No scalp trauma, but I kept a close eye on it. It is pretty.

I am kind of bemused with the layers of weird bureaucracy at the girls’ new school. They get stamped when they leave the bus, so they do not forget their bus number. Strudel wears a badge and a wristband with all of her infos on it. They are not allowed to ask for water with their lunches; their choices are cow, chocolate cow, or soy. “What do kids who cannot have those do?” I asked. “Oh, there is a drinking fountain,” Franny told me.

I was told very sternly that they would not be let off the bus unless I was there, because Strudel is five. I was throwing on my shoes yesterday to come out and pick them up at the bus stop when they walked up to me through the yard, several minutes early.

“Whoa, you girls are home early, eh?”

“Yes,” said Franny, who usually acts as spokesdwarf. “And YOU WEREN’T THERE, so we decided to come home.”

“Okay, good call. No one cared? They did not try to hold you?”

“No,” she said. Well, okay.

Strudel had her first homework assignment this weekend. I know some people (Montessauruses) who would begin spontaneously bleeding from the ears if they heard “kindergartner with homework” but we are in lockdown now, yo. Do your time, don’t let your time do you.

“I don’t feel like doing this right now,” Strudel said. It was Sunday, and I had suggested to her for the 48th time that weekend that she might want to sit down and do her homework.

“The weekend is almost over. Just knock it out, baby,” I said. We read the instructions together. The worksheet said that the child should make a poster summarizing her summer in pictures of the activities with simple words or phrases labeling the activities. Her father suggested she make a list of all the things she remembered from this summer.

Strudel’s response was to get irritated. “THIS IS STUPID. WHY DO I HAVE TO DO THIS?” Franny, the occasionally-frustrated but overall lover of homework and all things school-related, looked at her incredulously from across the table, where she was at work on a drawing.

“What’s wrong with homework?” Franny said. “It’s a drawing, you like drawings.”

“I’M JUST GOING TO SCRIBBLE,” Strudel informed us.

“No, you’re not,” I said. “Do a good job. This is your schoolwork. You have to actually try, okay.”

“I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS? WHY DO I HAVE TO DO THIS?”

“It’s a life lesson,” I said. “You do this now, and then you get to do fun things you want to do later. Most of life is figuring out how to follow the rules so you can find joy in other places, where there are no rules, or only your own rules.”

She looked down and started drawing a picture of a large house that dominated most of the picture, possibly to get me to stop talking, since I had gone into Lecture Mode. She informed us it was her Grandpa’s house, where she had stayed for a weekend. The final cut for the poster was the house, a pool, her lost tooth, and roller skates.

The last thing to do was write the title of the poster: Strudel’s Summer.

“I HATE THIS TITLE, I THINK IT NEEDS A DIFFERENT TITLE.”

“It’s in the directions, dude, give it up.” I wrote it down on a separate piece of paper so she could copy it in her careful cursive.

“Do you think there is a high rate of suicide among teachers?” her father asked me in the kitchen a few minutes later, out of earshot.

“Yeah, these are my genes, sorry,” I said. “Chin up, though, little soldier. Only twelve more years of this.”

Later I was flipping through Alice Waters’ bio when Franny sat down next to me and said that someone besides her teacher was coming into the classroom and having “carpet circle time” with them.

“Oh?” I said. “Some kind of reading thing?”

“No, this lady asks us a bunch of questions about what we like and what our families are like, and we all have to say answers.”

“They are trying to see which of you are mental and which of you, if any, are being burned with cigarettes at home,” I told her.

“Oh,” Franny said.

“There’s really no reason a government agency needs to know any of this about you or us. I have already filled out the forms with your vital stats. All they are there for is to present information to you, hopefully educational. I would advise making answers up.”

Franny began frowning at me.

“See the inherent challenge: How quickly can I get the school to call my mother?”

“MooooooOOOM come ON,” Franny said.

“I’m serious, they want to waste your time, you waste theirs right back, okay, poodle?”

Fly Like a Rat: Liveblog for No Good Reason

6:23 a.m. HELLO. Welcome to Liveblog* ’10…Electric…Bonobo Pen. (???) Expect more of that type of massacring of the English language as the day commences, because those four hours of sleep I got last night simply FLEW by. BOY I thought I was free-associating yesterday? Just wait. Seriously, though, I am very excited to wrap up this contract, which has been good to me. Very good. When I am at work, I don’t even walk: muscular, beleaguered hamsters act as a gentle live palanquin. Don’t even question that. The Seattle tech scene is all about the hamster palanquin. This group was especially dedicated, however.

Sitting here thinking about my day I feel pretty good. I am going to be optimistic because I had several moderate head injuries in high school and say that I may even get through my to-do list. HA HA HA! JUST KIDDING! Or am I? BRB commuting, see you in a couple of hours.

8:37 a.m.: I’ve Got Fangs, You’ve Got Rabies Well HELLOOOO there. It’s pretty quiet here this morning. Last night I was out til 12:30 at live music with Ruby. We saw Quintron and Miss Pussycat, which is an outfit out of New Orleans. Ruby wanted to see some shows on her return from the Midwest–she even went to Noah’s Ark in Wisconsin, which is allegedly the largest water park in the U.S. I believe it, as the Wisconsin Dells are a tourist trap of delightfully epic proportions. I have a story about Noah’s Ark, which I will tell later.

The verdict on the show: not so good. Once I saw it was a possible show we could go to, I went to the googamachine and hunted up some videos to see how they were. They looked awesome live–kind of some hybrid of The Cramps, the B-52s, and Boss Hog. I was in. The show started with a puppet show which was adorable and well done, and about as simple as a kids’-style puppet show with an adult twist should be. There was jungle animals and magic and policemen getting beheaded.

Then the music started. It was like a switch flipped and every former frat boy shoved to the front of the stage. Elbows were flying and the ladies who were up front quickly fled to the fringes, except for this small chick who was obviously tripping balls and kept sitting down. Shirts flew off and white men were getting sweaty. CROWDSURFING started. Seriously? Crowdsurfing? The music was danceable and had a great beat, and it was nice to see Seattle audiences enthusiastic for once, but ock, no, bad touch. The hipsters who hung on to the edges were doing their little skippity hipster girl dances, via the spirit of undead Calvin Johnson. We kind of gave up a few songs in and called it a night.

“I am embarrassed for white people right now,” Ruby said.

However, I still like their music. Ok, back to work.

9:54 a.m. Dr. Dre “Still”: Woo it is Bastille Day! I don’t know about storming castles today, but I like the pattern forming here. I quit my last job on my birthday last fall. That was pretty ace. I had a funny thing when Ruby and I went out to dinner before the ugh-fated show last night. We were back at Quinn’s, which I cannot seem to stay away from lately.

We were seated and our server approached. “Do you have…a blog?” he asked me.

“Yes,” I said, my face burning. “I mean, noooo.”

“I cannot take you anywhere,” Ruby said.

Later I asked him if he would indulge me and tell me how he’d heard of me. It turns out a friend of his was a reader and passed my link on. “This is when I lived in Toronto,” he said.

“HOLD THE PHONE ARE YOU CANADIAN AND ARE YOU SINGLE,” I said, licking my finger and smoothing my eyebrows. This is how goddam suave I am. I should write one of them pick up artists books. Chapter One: “TAKE OFF PANTS NOW Y/Y.” Aggggh. I get into trouble when people know about the blog because I feel like that is a disclaimer. “Oh, so you KNOW I am an asshole already. My work is done here, we can just skip to the break up part.”

“NO and NO,” he said quickly. Ruby was rolling her eyes so hard I thought she was going to pass out.

“Ah,” I said. “I have a thing for Canadians. You are safe.” He humored me by looking relieved, in spite of the fact that he could not have possibly believed for one second he was ever unsafe. Was I even drunk at this point? No, I was not. I have no excuse. Later I was drunkish and I told him he looked like a cuter version of Crispin Glover. WHAT who was THAT LADY. It was like liquid cheese was coming out of my pores. I was a delicious human nacho fountain. Rudy was audibly tsking. At least she is never bored when we are out.

Lesson: if you ever encounter me and are Canadian, lie and say you are not.

11:23 a.m. Dan Savage Lovecast:

Over the past few months, my desk has gotten increasingly pinker where my left wrist rests. Whoops. I’m like the love child of King Midas and Strawberry Shortcake. Pink Creep!



12:15 p.m. Pete Rock, “I Got A Love”:

I just had a run in with my boss. “Can you do X, Y, and Z?” Yes, I already did. because I know how you roll and I am just that awesome. She invited me for a drink, which would be fun, but I knew everyone else on my team is out of town, so I had already made plans for tonight. They are talking about creating a position here with me in mind, which sounds nice and is very flattering, but sometimes these things do not get off the ground.

1:35 p.m. GETTIN ANTSY HERE. “Expert Chef”

HEY I just had what P. likes to call Crap by the Pound, which is buffet that gets weighed after. Then you have to have that reckoning moment where you say, am I really going to eat 47 pounds of Spaicy Tofu? Yes, yes I am. I had to go and have food down here one more time though. I also had a nice 15 minute conversation with my copyeditor and you will be pleased to know that we solved the whole world’s problems.

I was going to tell you about Noah’s Ark. Sorry, this story is going to be the razorblade in the apple that is my fluff today. But it will be short. When I was wee, my grandparents had a farm in Wisconsin, near the Dells, and we would spend time in the middle of nowhere in the woods doing things like hunting for asparagus and also time in town doing things like looking for the totally most bitchen gold-plated Eyetalian horn at the mall. (That was more the younger relatives.)

One summer we were planning on going whole hog and taking the entire pack of wild Italians to Noah’s Ark. The baby oil would flow! The white bathing suits would be rocked! And then there was me, the little whitey stepchild who was along for the ride…until I did or said something that pissed off my stepfather. We rolled into our parking spot, which seemed so far away from the park the waterslides looked like plastic piping.

“She’s staying here,” he said. “All day, in the car alone, as a lesson.” I was six.

I think about leaving my girls alone in a car outside of a waterpark for five or six hours while I went in to have fun, and my stomach just twists. I still remember that as one of the longest days of my life–I have rarely felt so completely alone. He doesn’t know it, but he taught me a lot about parenting, and that I would rather be loved than feared, though sometimes you need to choose what you will call on.

3:21 pm. It’s that bad place, you know? That ZZZZZ place. Oh, and Mos Def “Ms. Fat Booty”

I am on my last task. Switching to twitter after I leave, as is my custom after work to make a flurry of twoots fly out of my twoottwat and then I will try to update one more time later. Ok, be back drunker, ilu.

*******

*All content comes from a timed release feed, outsourced from Romania, and is not actually live, nor is it created by the author, and especially not today on the clock. LOOK IT’S THAT JESUS-BUGGERING ELVIS-WIG ELEPHANT I LIKE SO MUCH.