Writer's Block: And the Oscar Goes To
What movie, whether it was nominated by the Academy or not, gets your personal vote for Best Picture of 2008?
It would be In Bruge. 
It's not a block buster so didn't get the hype, but for an amazing story and even more amazing acting...none of the nominated movies come close.  The time line and entire feel of the movie was that of reality.  Very stark, dark, and funny reality.  One of the best movies I've ever seen.

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I'm enjoying my new Sheri Tepper books.  I am again amazed at her descriptions.  The way she chooses words and then puts them together to weave a vivid picture.  I was up til 5 am one night... my eyes were exhausted and I used one hand to apply pressure to a point that allowed me to continue! *sigh* and I'm not even half way through! lol   :)

2009 is almost here
Happy New Year!

My Sheri Tepper books are here!
Got the Sheri Tepper books from the auction today!  I may be seclusion for a week or so....  ;)

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There is an interesting phenomenon going on at my house. 
My husband took the holidays off and our daughter is off school.  For the first time ever, we are all staying up very late (last night it was 3:30 am for Tom and I) and sleeping in late.  This isn't so odd for me, as I have always reverted very easily to a night owl schedule, and Stephanie is much like me too.  But it is very strange for Tom to do so.  I have never known him to sleep in much past 9 am and even then, maybe only once or twice in a row.  But for about a week now he's stayed up late and slept in past 10 am at first, then 11 for a couple days, and today it was noon!
It's almost creepy...
The good thing is that we have a party to go to tonight, so he shouldn't get real tired too early, and New Years Eve is coming and he probably won't fall asleep right after midnight!
We'll have a few days after New Years to work on re-adjusting to waking up early.  This should be very interesting.... :D

Happy Birthday to my sister Janice!
Today is my sister Janice's birthday.  She is 53 yrs old today.  My relationship with her is a bittersweet one.  When we were young, like most siblings, we didn't always get along.  She was more girlie and quiet and I was loud and a tomboy.  Relationships with most people, be they friends or family change over time and ours is no exception.
Janice still has a dramatic scar on her face from our early years.  One I can't help but feel guilty for.  As I said, I was the tomboy and as such, I loved to climb trees and fences and was known to jump off the odd garage roof here and there.    We lived in Chicago in a red brick building that had three apartments.  One was a partial basement and we lived in the upper one.  My best bud lived next door.  His name was Billy, we were the same age and were always looking for new adventures. One fence in particular was a favorite among the kids I hung out with.  It was two doors down at the corner building.  There was a raised train track that ran perpendicular to our street, so we always had a view of the tracks.
This one fence was maybe three feet or so off the ground.  We were only 5 or 6 yrs old, so it seems much bigger to us!  But we had many happy hours spent walking on top of it starting about mid fence on the part that divided the corner house from Billy's, then walking toward the back and turning to go along the back of the yard.  Our goal was the laundry post about 10 feet down.  It was more common back then for people to hang their clothes outside...though I 'm sure they existed, I hadn't even heard of clothes dryers at that time. 
This particular post was round and painted and was perfect for us to slide down off the fence.  My friends and I had done it countless times.  Janice wouldn't hear of it.  One day we finally convinced her to try it.  I remember how proud I was of her as I spotted her by holding her hand as she walked along.  Everyone was cheering for her.  When she got to the pole it took us a while to convince her that she could make it.  There was maybe 10 -12 inches of space between the pole and the fence.  Easy to reach with an arm, but it did take a bit of daring the first time to trust that you could grab it with both arms and legs to slide down.  You didn't want to slide with your body between the pole and fence, but off to the side.  Janice gathered up her nerve and took that leap of faith.  She ended up swinging all the way around to the other side of the pole.  Unfortunately, on that side there was the hook that held the clothes line when it was up.  She ended up catching her face starting at the corner of her mouth on the right side on that hook.  It was horrible.  All the kids scattered screaming and I helped Janice home while she held her hands to her bleeding face.
She had 150 stitches.  Seventy-five inside and seventy-five outside.  It was maybe two inches or so from the corner of her mouth up toward her temple.  In the center of the line was a circle of flesh.  It seemed an odd shape, but who can say how skin tears.
It was extremely traumatic for her as can be imagined.  The scar was always visible and it sure didn't help with her being quiet and shy.  I don't remember her ever seriously blaming me or being mad at me.  Even when she was mad at me (which was pretty often as kids) it never went beyond a minor condemnation.  When she was in her teens she had plastic surgery to help minimize the scarring and it seemed to help some.
Our teen years were far more tumultuous.  Our parents had divorced when I was 10. Before that we usually lived with one or the other as they fought their way toward the inevitable.  Our mother I am relatively certain was bipolar or some such.  It's hard to say since she had had such an incredibly violent childhood herself.  But when they finally parted ways, my father ended up with custody. 
This was the worst time for Janice and my relationship, and I could easily say that with all the stress of the violent atmosphere we lived in, we didn't like each other very much.
Once Janice graduated from H.S. our father and step-mother had been married for almost a year.  Janice had a very difficult time adjusting to her being there and her authority as our fathers wife.  There were many signs that Janice really should have had some kind of psychological help, but the one time my father tried to broach the subject, she pitched such a fit that he never brought it up again. 
She got a job once but she wasn't able to handle it and quit after a couple of days.  When she graduated she moved out and went to live with our mother.
I didn't see her much for a while.  My mother tried to help her get a job but it never seemed to be for Jan.  I know it was stressful for mom, but since she hadn't been with us for so long she wasn't about to give up.  She ended up moving to Arizona to 'start over' and brought Janice with her.  I've heard that things were really tough for them both.  I didn't hear from Janice at all during that time, only a few short letters from our mom.
In late 1977, my Uncle Bill (mom's brother) offered me the hospitality of their home and whatever help I need to get a job in Laguna Niguel, CA.  So I took off in my 1966 Dodge coronet, with a case of oil in the trunk for the oil burning engine and headed out west.  I stopped in Az to see my mom and sister.  According to my mom, Janice had taken off and she rarely knew where she was.  I was just 18 and Janice was 21.
Well, long story shortened, my mom sabotaged my car and I ended up stuck in Az.  But I got a job and made friends pretty quick and the next summer ended up going up to Jackson Hole, WY for the summer to work with my then room-mate and friend Carrie.  There were so many things going on in my life at the time, when in the middle of it, I went back to AZ and looked for my mom and Janice only to find that Janice was locked up in the county hospital.  The schizophrenia had hit her.  I can't remember what was going on with my mother, but she wasn't doing too well herself.
I went to see Janice and it was pretty surreal.  She looked at me like I was some kind of apparition.  I didn't know what to do.  Mom was not accessible and our father and Barb had there own life along with a new baby to think about.  So I ended up moving back to Arizona.  I hadn't really had any other pressing plans, but it seemed like the most appropriate thing to do.  I was 19 and ended up meeting my sons father at that time.
Over the next few years, Janice was in and out of the hospital and different group homes.  If she took her meds, she did ok, but usually she didn't.  She had numerous violent episodes and it was always like venturing into the unknown when I would go to see her.  Our mother ended up moving to New Orleans with her wacky boyfriend.  She really had a hard time dealing with what happened to Janice.  It was already tearing her up that Laura, our younger sister had severe issues, and I know that it slowly ate at her sanity.  She committed suicide in 1982.
In 1983, I was pregnant with my son Jon.  About 4 months into my pregnancy Janice became pregnant also.  Due to the nature of her illness, we're pretty certain she had been forced.  She ended up dealing with it by telling numerous different stories about how it happened.  Different people got different stories.  Some were ones of being forced.   Jon was born in Oct of 83 and Janice gave birth to a little boy in March of 84.  Because she was a ward of the county/state and had had to be locked up for most of the pregnancy to protect herself and the baby, they wouldn't allow her to keep him. 
They asked me if I would be willing to take him.  It was one of the most difficult and painful experiences of my life.  I couldn't do it.  My marriage was already tanking and I couldn't subject another child to that.  Our father and brother were also offered but they didn't want to create any kind of reason that might bring Janice back to Chicago and into their lives. (This was from their words, not my conjecture)
I talked with Janice about it and she and I agreed that he should be given up for adoption.  He was given to a foster family and they named him Andrew.   Over the next couple of years, we went to visit him when Janice was doing well enough.  The foster family was wonderful and loved Andy very much.  They asked if they could adopt him and we agreed.  He had a few developmental problems at first, but his new parents were diligent and he did very well.  The adoption was supposed to be an open one and afterward, the county stepped out of the picture.  It was up to Janice and Andy's parents now.  Unfortunately, Janice's illness was still in the worst time period.  People afflicted with this type of schizophrenia are worst in their 20's and 30's, and can improve from the 40's on.
As time continued, Janice's life kept it's roller coaster aspect.  I left my husband in 1986 and moved back to Chicago - somehow thinking that was a good idea...*sigh*
During that time I did keep in touch with Jan by phone, but had more contact with her state case manager.  I moved back to Az in 1989 and my relationship with Janice stayed pretty much the same for years.  Difficult and stressful.
In 1992 I belonged to a spiritual development group called Mahikari. It was very oriental in nature and it taught me many wonderful lessons about gratitude and connecting to the universal life force (God, basically).  One of the things you could do was to do 'Divine Service' for yourself or someone else.  Janice's case manager called me and said that they were going to have to drop Janice from the program because she was out of control, would not stay on meds and was having too many violent episodes.  I had seen some pretty amazing things through the teachings of this group so I decided to do 'Divine Service' for Janice.  I spent 24 hours in prayer and doing other service oriented tasks, such as cleaning tasks at the dojo.  During that time I focused on my gratitude and prayed to be allowed to offer apology and gratitude for my sister in her stead.  I didn't expect anything dramatic, but what I got was nearly beyond belief.  A couple days later, I got a call from her case manager and she told me that I would not believe what she was about to tell me.  Janice had had a complete turn around.  Her entire demeanor had changed, she was taking her meds and they would not be dropping her from the program.  People can say what they want about this organization, but there is some truth in the teachings and I have experienced many amazing things because of it.  I am truly grateful for the opportunity to experience what I did and for also for being given the guidance to move away from from it once I learned what I was there to learn.
Janice continued to improve and surprised everyone by becoming one of the sweetest and kindest people you would want to know.  She still had the schizophrenia, but the really difficult behaviors were gone years earlier than usual.
I met my current husband, Tom in 1994.  We were married in 1995 and our daughter was born in 1996.  After Stephanie was born I was afflicted with allergies, asthma and constant sinus infections.  Our family doctor said that I should move out of the Phoenix area.  Most people don't realize is that it is one of the worst places in the US for allergy sufferers...
So Tom began searching for a new job elsewhere.  We considered several locations, but for some reason, decided to move back to the Chicago area to be around my family.  We thought it would be good to be around family with Jon and Steph.  Tom had family too, but they weren't close. His mother and two brothers were just up in Minnesota besides.
He got a job at Motorola and we started planning the move.  I really didn't want to leave Janice and when I first asked her she agreed right away.  But change is extremely difficult for people like her.  She started coming up with all kinds of excuses why she couldn't go.  Finally, the move was only a week away and she still wouldn't commit and I had to get stern with her.  So she finally agreed and I had to scramble to get everything in order.
When we got there we stayed in a two bedroom apartment.  Tom, myself, Jon, Stephanie and Janice.  Janice is the type of schizophrenic that hears voices.  She had lived alone for nearly twenty years and now she was stuck in a small apartment with four other people.  Luckily, the county considered this to be an emergency case and did what they could to fast track her.  After about 7 weeks with us, they found her a spot in a group home nearby.  In the mean time, she had gotten great care.  She had had terrible dental problems due to the meds she had to take and her teeth were literally rotting out of her mouth.  Az had refused to do anything about it except to pull infected teeth.  We were only there about two weeks and she had new eyeglasses and all her teeth pulled and new dentures.  It was a God send.
Something I didn't realize at the time was the underlying anger that had been building up.  Part of me sort of believed that she was faking the whole thing and for several years I had had strange and very realistic dreams where I would yell and scream at her and sometimes pummel her with my fists.  I found them very disturbing.  Finally I talked to a young woman that worked at the home she was in and she explained to me what it was like for Janice.
She said that the brain of a schizophrenic retains just about everything it hears ~ from conversations to TV programs.  It then replays those memories in whole or in part, with no semblance of order or reason, back to the person and they hear it in their mind as if it's really there.
That conversation changed my view of my sister.  I no longer had the disturbing dreams and instead of suppressed anger toward her I found a new level of respect and admiration.  I can't imagine how she can deal with that. 
My sister is now someone I love beyond measure and I miss her terribly since I live so far away.
As much as I would have preferred to have brought her out her to be close to me, I have to say that she is in the very best place she could be both physically and emotionally for her.  She has had the same job for over seven years now!  I was there with her for all the job training and volunteer work she had to do to qualify for the program and she never once complained, and was often commended for her hard work and dedication.
She is in such a stable place that she was even able to quit smoking three years ago!  Another nearly unheard of thing for schizophrenics.
At the beginning of Labor Day weekend this past year, I was talking with her on the phone and she said how she would really like to be able to find Andrew.  I said OK, I would see what I could do.  So I got online to one of those search sites, paid them $2.99 and 10 minutes later ~ in absolute shock ~ I was speaking to his mom and then to him.
Alvina, his mom, said they had always wondered what happened to Janice and Andrew said he had been wanting to find her for a while.  He even has a 4 year old son himself named Drew.  We talked for a bit and even though they said they were very happy to hear from us, I said that I would leave the next move up to him since it was probably a shock for him too.
I cried for several minutes before I was able to get back on the phone and call Jan to tell her the good news.  It took a couple of weeks for her to mentally prepare, but they finally talked on the phone.  Andrew even called her mom.  
He and my son have gotten together and are becoming close.  They look a lot alike.  Jon says its kind of weird how he (Jon) looks like me and has many of my mannerisms and Andy looks like Janice and has her mannerisms even though he wasn't raised by her.
At any rate, it is my wonderful sister Janice's birthday today.  And I love her and honor her and all she has accomplished.
Happy Birthday Janice!

The Holidays
I have decided to write.
I love to write. 
I don't know what has kept me from it, but now that I'm doing it, I don't want to stop.
Sometimes I get quiet and have to think.  The past couple of days have been reflective for me and this is what I have to write about:

For the last six years, Christmas has been kind of hard for me.  I didn't have what you could call a good childhood.  I left home at 17 after I graduated HS.  My parents had divorced when I was 10 or 11 and my father had custody.  He is an alcoholic and wasn't particularly nice.  He said I could leave but if I did, don't ever ask to come back.  He also said that he would never step foot in a house of mine and that if I wanted to keep in touch I would have to do the calling because he wouldn't call me.
He kept to the first one until I got remarried and paid to have them all come from Chicago to Arizona for my wedding.  I was 36 by then, and it was the first time he stepped foot in a place that I lived. He did occasionally call though, for family kind of stuff, but it really was me that had to keep in touch. 
He had remarried when I was 15 and my step mother told him that if they had children that he would not be allowed to beat them, so my two half sisters never had to experience the physical and emotional abuse that I did.

When I left my first husband (who was also emotionally abusive) and moved back to Chicago (from AZ) with my then 3 yr old son,  it was 1986.  The very first thing he said to me was, "Don't expect me to be watching your kid." (And I never did...)  He always called Jon a brat and accused me of spoiling him. He never realy paid him much attention to him and so Jon has no memories of him, except one where he got spanked unfairly.  And I still took it.  We were only there for 2 1/2 years when I moved us back to Az. ~ it was only supposed to be temporary to help a friend of mine start a business, but you know how it goes...
Hindsight is always 20/20.  There were so many ways that I tolerated continual emotional abuse from this man.  I think that most children with abusive parents do this because children do tolerate things far beyond what they should have to.  Even as an adult I still had such an overwhelming fear of him that I couldn't disagree or argue with with him on anything.  It felt like I was a puppy wanting to be approved of and yet fearing a kick.

I have an older and younger sister too.  The older one, Janice, experienced quite a bit of the abuse too, but she was a quite, shy and more fragile type and the younger, Laura, is mentally disabled, so the state took custody of her when my parents divorced.  When Janice was 22 she was afflicted with a type of schizophrenia that is pretty severe.  She was in Az at the time and became a ward of the state there.   She and my step mother had never gotten on, and as the years went on and Barb's alcoholism worsened, her hatred for my sister did too.  The youngest child from my parents is my brother.  He got some of it, but my father pitied him greatly thinking he was 'sad' because of his mother and besides, he was his 'son'.  I on the other hand, was outgoing, gregarious and very bright.  He used to tell us stories about himself as a child/teen and often referred to himself as a 'punk'.  So he somehow considered me to be just like he was and always told me I was a liar and a sneak. 

After I left home, I still did my best to keep in touch and have a good relationship with them.  My first half sister was born in 1975 and I left home in 1976.  I ended up in Az in 1977 and my second half sister was born in 1080.  Every Christmas I spent hours shopping for every family member, then loving wrapped each specially selected gift and sent them back to Chicago in time for them to have them for Christmas.  It was so very important to me that they knew I missed them and loved them.  I always sent my half sisters gifts and called to talk to them on their birthdays too.  I really loved Christmas time and even if I never got anything but a card and $20 check in return, it didn't seem to matter.

Then, after I married Tom and my daughter was born, we ended up moving back to Illinois and I managed to bring Janice too.  She had been a ward of the county for quite some time and they have crap for mental health care there.  I worked with the county we were moving to in Illinois and the difference is like night and day ~ pitch black night and bright daylight even!  My father and stepmother praised me up and down in public about how great it was that I had done that for Janice... but I knew that under the surface they would have preferred she remained two thousand miles away.  I didn't care, Janice was thriving and today she has a terrific life and is happier than most.

But life for me being back there again was very hard.  I now had a wonderful husband and a great life and he couldn't insult me and put me down any more.  But he could still hurt me.  Mostly by just ignoring us for the most part.  It was like they were the 'family' and we were outsiders that kind of had to be invited but weren't really welcome.  We really didn't fit in with the type of socializing they do anyway.  We might only have one or two drinks in a night, where my father, stepmother, brother and sister-in-law could easily make the double digits. 

The second Christmas in Chicago, the first we had at our house, I tried to help make a connection with my father, Barb (stepmother) and my daughter by letting them know what would be the absolute best present to get her (and it was only $20, which fit their budget)  Weeks before I got them the information to order this stuffed JJ the Jet Plane, which was Steph's most favorite show.  I thought that they would get it and it would be great.  Then when everyone else is opening presents, Stephanie gets a card from them with a check for $20. O-o  I was pissed and told Barb that I couldn't believe she'd done that.  She apologized, but what can you say or do with people who are phony alcoholics?

A little after two years there, we realized that my husband job wasn't going to be around much longer so he started searching for a new one.  There wasn't anything out there for him job wise or for us really as far as family went (except for Janice), and so we ended up moving to where we are now in NJ.  We left at the beginning of October of 2000.  They had made such a big to do about how could we leave and how they wouldn't get to see Stephanie and Jon (who was 16 and decided to go back to AZ to his dad rather than come th NJ with us) that we said we'd come back for Christmas.  And we did. We even flew Jon back.  It was during that trip that I realized that they hadn't meant it and that they were actually glad we were gone.  We stayed at their house and I almost left Christmas Eve.  I was trying to have a nice calm adult conversation with my father and Tom.  My father was once again talking about what a problem I was and how if only I would have talked to him as a child/teen.  I kind of laughed when he said that.  I was never given the chance to talk most the time, once he decided what I'd done, that was it.  I tried to related that to him ~without accusation, only to make a point, (and I was tired of his saying that )~ the incident that happened when I was five and we children had been called up to dinner from the front porch.  I couldn't find my little sister Laura, who was three and couldn't open the door by herself ~ and in searching the neighboring houses for her, a couple of other kids told me they'd seen her and then gave me directions.  Now of course I realize that they couldn't have seen her go down two blocks that way, over one block to the right, then turn left etc... but at the time I was frantic and as I was responsible, I had to go look.  I got lost.  Fortunately, a kind man saw me crying and I knew my phone number so he called my parents and even brought me home.  My father thanked him at the door and without a word to me, grabbed me hard by the shoulder, drug me off to the bed room and beat me with his belt.  (I also wasn't supposed to have dinner, but my mom snuck me a sandwich.)  Well, he got very irate then and told me that that never happened, I had to have remembered it wrong.  I wasn't really prepared for the anger or to argue with him, but then he started saying "Well you know what your mother did to ME when we live there?!!"  And he then proceeded to talk about an experience I wasn't even there for, angrily as if I was the one that had done it to him... Fortunately, Tom was able to calm us both down.  I was ready to leave, but since I had to pick up Jon at the airport shortly, and it was Christmas Eve,  he convinced me to stay.  We agreed that we would never stay in his house again, and probably wouldn't have even come back again at all except that my half sister Tracy was getting married the next year and we were planning to come back for that.
The rest of that trip sucked, but it was when we came for Tracy's wedding that things got really bad.

You know how the universe can often support you or seem to try to be killing you?  The whole trip was a series of nightmares.  First, the wedding invitation from my sister said absolutely no children were allowed.  Stephanie was 4.  No note or call from Tracy to say that it wasn't meant to include Steph. I was hurt and since we didn't travel without her thought we wouldn't be able to go.   But I was talking to Barb (step mother) and she told me that Stephanie was invited.  So we came and stayed in a hotel, but we were told that we couldn't stay with them because other relatives were already staying with them.  LOL - as if. 
When I had gotten married to Tom in 96, Tracy had come out a day early with her then bf Joe (not the guy she was marrying) and they stayed with me and Tracy and Joe helped me do all the stuff I had to do for my wedding... decorating the small banquet room we rented and such.  We had a blast.  But her wedding was a really huge affair so I didn't really see her before or have the chance to be involved.  It did hurt that everyone else in the family, including my sister-in-law had some kind of role in it.  Stephanie would have been a perfect flower girl.  Everyone who knew we were going kept asking if she was going to be one.  Little girls are only little once... and Stephanie wouldn't (and didn't) have any other chance at this experience.  They did however have the 3 yr old son of a friend of the groom be the ring bearer. o.O
The wedding was on a Saturday and the Friday before was the traditional rehearsal and dinner after where the wedding party, family and friends go to dinner.  I got a call at the last minute from Tracy saying, oh yeah why don't you come.  I was very hurt and PMSy so we were about 45 minutes late because I had a hard time stopping crying.  My father pointedly ignored us.  We stayed to the end and were the last to go so we could chat a bit with Tracy, it was the only time I had to talk to her face to face and other than a couple of quick words in the bathroom at her wedding, the last time I've talked to her since.
As I said, the wedding was HUGE.  The ceremony was beautiful and the reception was at a very large banquet place.  When you came into the place there were places to hang coats, then you waited in line to leave you gifts, sign the guest book and pick up your seating assignment before you even made it to the room the reception was in.  We had Janice with us and had made it thru everything well enough but then there was no name tag for her.  (I personally believe that Barb swiped it just out of spite, no proof, but I'm 99% sure she did, 100% sure she would)  I asked Barb about it and it was the way she replied that gave me the impression I got.  So we decided that she was probably seated with us anyway.  We found our table and expected to be sat with someone from our family, since everyone was there.  But no.  The four of us were seated with Barb's second cousin, whom no one I knew had met.  My brother was up at the wedding table.  His wife and her neice and nephew were with our cousins and my other half sisters friends were seated with my Aunts.  I couldn't help it, I felt slighted.  Even insulted.  I probably made those people feel slighted, because I wasn't at the table unless I had to be.  I was off visiting my Aunts and other relatives and friends.  And as I mentioned, the only time I got to talk to Tracy was a moment in the bathroom when she said she would come find me for a picture.  She never did.  But I had a really great time visiting with other people I hadn't seen in years.
The next day we went to my fathers house again.  Stephanie was having a good time and wasn't being annoying or rude or anything. Not that she ever was anyway... I was standing talking to my father when Stephanie walked in the room and he said and I quote " You know, she has the same spirit you did when you were that age... and I did my best to break you"  Well, I was too shocked to speak.  And I have to admit that he finally broke me at that moment.  I went home and cried a lot for many months.  The wedding was in Sept and when Christmas came, I couldn't even open cards from anyone.  No one had called either.  The cards got put aside and eventually tossed.  We never got a thank you for coming to the wedding or for the gift. Though it could have been in the Christmas card... but I wasn't able to deal at that point.  It was probably June or July of the next year when I thought I might be able to call his house and not cry.  So I did.  He answered the phone and when he heard my voice he was using his cheerful 'Hey~ how ya doing.' voice.  Then he said 'so we haven't heard from you in a while' (really?) 'anything wrong?'  and I really did just want to be able to talk to him and tell him how I felt (not that he'd ever cared before) about what he said and how it hurt me.  So I did.  And I was very calm about it too - but no sooner did I mention that I was had been hurt and upset by something he said, then he started screaming at me telling how I think I'm so much better than everyone else and who do I think I am and how I was keeping his grand-daughter from seeing him.  And that was it for me.  I said, "NO, I'm protecting her from YOU!"  And I hung up the phone. 
I haven't spoken to him since.  No one else in the family has called me or written either.  Janice is still out there and we are in touch all the time so she fills me in. But she's technically an outcast too.  Tracy has three kids now and apparently my father babysits them! 

Every year at Christmas since then I've gotten very depressed. 
This has been the best year though. 
I'm not sure if it's just time, or if being out of peri-menopause and into menopause has made a difference. 
But this year I'm better. Much better!
Yeah, I cried when I wrote this, but not the heart wrenching wracking sobs that I usually had.  Just drippy eyes.
It's the best Christmas in many years.

Computer down :(

I am writing this Monday morning, December 22 on Microsoft Word. Why, you may ask…? Because we have no internet!!  Having only just recently come to the realization that I am addicted to the internet, I find the universe challenging me by killing my internet connection.  I called Comcast and they said it was our modem. So Tom brought it into the service center and exchanged it.  We hooked it up and rebooted, both anticipating the sight of our screens filled with words and pictures for our surfing pleasure.  Nothing but the screen saver and the Magic jack saying it has no internet connection.  But wait! We had to call Comcast back and have them reset it from there.  Hurray!  Fortunately, it was relatively painless to get someone on the phone, we gave him the number on the modem and still nothing.  So now we have to have a service agent come to the house tomorrow between 10 am and noon.  Arrrrggghhh!

I now find myself contemplating this newfound addiction.  We’ve had computers for quite some time and I’ve never felt like this before.  But there are just so many different things to do these days.  Now there are game web sites where you can meet people all over the world and chat with them while you play games.  Friendships are formed all without ever laying eyes on one another.  We inquire about each others health, family, vacation plans etc.  It’s become more than an interface to news and information; it’s a new connection to people and the world, all without leaving the comfort of home.

When I return, there will be few people who wondered where I was and I will be able to relate my distress and they will commiserate with me.

The world has gotten so big with international news available (usually) at the touch of a mouse, that having that medium turn into a new way to connect seems a natural step.  I hope it helps people realize how much we’re all the same too.  On FaceBook, we play some of the games and end up with ‘friends’ of every nationality.  Maybe the internet is a new way to peace…and maybe I'm looking for an excuse for my addiction! ;)

HUZZAH!  The connection has returned!  It's been on and off a couple of times.  It's too funny how we've reacted.  We got a whole lot of stuff done around the house while it was down.  When it came back I made Tom laugh by lovingly caressing the screen and telling it how much I missed it.  LOL I was only partly joking!

PMS should be: Alternate Personality Syndrome
So this morning I get up, and I can't tell if it just my back hurting or I have cramps.  I'm 50 years old and for the last ten years I have SUFFERED with a miserable condition called peri-menopause.  And I got to have all the most  suck ass symptoms.  So this year I have started what most women dread... menopause.  And I say YIPEEE!!!! *happy dance*. Finally!! I can be rid of the twice a month periods ~ constant PMS ~ well, I will stop there.  I actually went for three months with NO period - then got two in one month. :(  
I sat at the computer this morning mulling over what I wanted to start with and the power went out.  Oh man that was bad.  My family has a genetic disposition to addictions.   I refused the two most common ones in our family, alcohol and drugs ~ and until this morning thought that the only ones I had were for breathing, eating and sleeping (in that particular order... mostly)   Now, I think mine is the computer.  When the power went out I wanted to freak out "Wait a minute!!! I have stuff to read! to do! to write!... People to chat with!"  The Beast was here.

Tom was downstairs starting to make our Sunday breakfast.  So we decided to go out to breakfast.  It was almost noon mind you, which is late even for us.  We decided to go to Friendly's cuz we hadn't been there in a while.  On the way, I informed Tom that I was pretty sure I had PMS (I like to give him warning...) So we get to the restaurant and we are standing in the front and there is a woman there in front of us with three children.  The youngest was around three and she was carrying her.  They apparently had a party of 10 or so coming.  The woman looked exhausted already.  She set the little girl down and she immediately began to cry/scream very loudly, so the mom picked her up and the noise ended abruptly and you could barely tell this child had been upset.  Why that bothered me so much can only be attributed to my PMS (and YES, today I get to blame EVERYTHING on it!!)  As we were seated, I could see this woman seated with all the children and the little one was firmly ensconced on her lap.  I really wanted to go over and tell this woman that she was an idiot for allowing this child to control her like this.  But she already looked so incredibly miserable so I was able to restrain myself.  I wished she was able to give the child the choice of 1. sitting nicely next to mommy or 2. going to the car to cry until she was ready to sit nicely next to mommy.  Children do well given choices such as these ~ as long as you are willing to take them to the car to cry if that is the choice they make, they learn quickly that good behavior is not so hard.
Well, I was barely over my annoyance when the waitress told us that breakfast wasn't served after noon.  shit.  So I closed my menu and fumed a bit.  Tom said we could go but Stephanie wanted to stay.  I said, "No, no you guys go ahead"  Well it went back and forth for a bit.  I was doing rather well to hold in the internal beast that wanted to scream and rant and rave.  Tom had sent the waitress away at first and she came back and they gave her their drink orders.  The beast was restless so I said "I'm going.. I'll be back later to get you."  And I left.  I figured it was for the best, cuz I know how I am and I was better off alone at that point.  I went to WAWA and got a breakfast sandwich ~ a toasted English muffin with egg white, turkey sausage and cheese.  And a good cup of coffee.  The beast was a bit happier.  I looked around for a dollar store to go to for some stocking stuffers, but there weren't any so I went back to the restaurant to wait for Tom and Steph.  I parked where they could see the van from where they sat and I read through some of the things I  had in the car.  It wasn't long til they came out.  We then told each other what we had to eat and decided to go the this local winery to pick up a couple more bottles of a special mulling wine we knew they'd be running out of soon.  I told Tom that I definitely have a bad case of PMS and he said "Well all is forgiven then"  GROWL!!!  Oh man! did he have to poke the beastie?  I actually did very well and he realized his faux pas... and feebly tried to recover until I had to say "stop".  The rest of the trip went well.
So I realized that my 'beast' is remarkably like that little three year old and today I was able to calmly take it out to the car to do it's crying so it wouldn't bother anyone else. *sigh*


Mulling is over
So, today I'm feeling slightly better.  Still exhausted and my lungs hurt from all the coughing.  Tom is starting his vacation time ~ he'll be off for the next two weeks!  It would be nice if we were going somewhere, but we generally enjoy each others company so well that it doesn't matter much.  Steph has a day and a half of school next week.  We're hoping we get a good snow, but maybe we'll go up to the Poconos for a day or so.
We got some tasty wine at a new local winery last weekend - drunk normally, it's just ok, and we probably wouldn't bother with it, but it's really fantastic as a mulled wine.  They even sell it with the mulling spices.  Yum.  Tom just said that he hopes we are feeling better soon so we can drink one for Christmas!  I hardily agree.  We may have to visit the winery again this weekend to pick up a couple more... ;)


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