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Monday, May 28, 2012

White People Problems

There's a commercial on tv these days that irritates me every single time I see it.

A medication to help you grow eyelashes.

How is this seriously a real thing???

Are there people out there with so few problems in their lives that the number of eyelashes in their eyelids is an actual concern?


And we all know that every medication has side effects. Thankfully, this one doesn't have anything TOO horrible. There are certainly worse side effects out there for other medications (like that ever so pesky "death" side effect). This one just has a temporary eyelid darkening issue that goes away once you quit using it. But there's also the potential for it to darken the color of your eye as well.

Call me crazy, but does anyone else see this as a problem?

I'm not talking about the cosmetic issue. Maybe some of the people who are so worried about their eyelash count actually would like to have brown eyes.

But if this medication is messing with the color of your eyes, what else is it doing to your eye? What fun little complications are going to show up in another decade or so - especially in long-time users of it?


Whole eyeball turns black?

Tumors the size of grapefruits growing out of your eyelids?

I'm just amazed by the things people think are important in life. Eyelash count? Really??

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Pain is Still There

Image found here.

It's taken me 17 months to write this.

I'm still angry.

I'm still hurt.

It took me a while to realize that I suffer from a little PTSD because of it.

I had my plan all worked out. My beautiful son (I knew in my heart he was a boy) was going to be born at home. He was due on January 25th, but I wanted him to be late - so he could be born on my sister's birthday. My midwife and I had talked about how things would go.

I wasn't even done shopping yet. I still had another month to get things done, so I wasn't worried about it. Thank goodness we at least had the car seat!

When my water broke that night, more than 4 weeks before my due date, it was easy for me to deny that this was actually labor. But when my contractions started, I had to admit that this was it. The midwife was out of town at a convention and she and I decided over the phone that it was probably best for the baby that we go to the hospital.

I talked about his actual birth story here, so I won't repeat that part now.

While his birth was stressful and nerve-wracking, I commend the doctors, nurses and ambulance workers who took good care of me. I didn't plan on having a hospital birth, but they helped me manage to have my completely natural birth that I wanted.

But my little baby had some fluid on his lungs and wasn't breathing right. I trusted all the people in that delivery room that they were doing the absolute best for my tiny son. That highly industrial and impersonal room felt like a protective little bubble where everyone cared about how I felt, and everyone cared about what was best for my little boy.

But then, he was whisked out of the delivery room and into a world of bureaucracy and hospital protocol that I couldn't stop no matter how I tried.

I went into my room to take a little nap while they got him settled in the NICU. When he was a couple hours old, I went to see him. He looked so tiny in his little bed. I could barely see him for the little c-pap breathing mask* and all the tubes. I could hardly even tell that he was my son. The nurse taking care of him told me that I shouldn't touch him too much because he was having sensory overload issues. She brought me a stool, and I sat next to him, stroking his foot from time to time. I just wanted to pick him up and hold him. But she'd said not to touch him. She's a professional, and she was taking the best care of my son, right?

*It was so hard to comprehend that such a tiny piece of equipment could even work!

I look at it now and think of COURSE he was having sensory overload issues! Strangers kept touching him and poking sharp things into him and messing with him. He didn't know where his mother was. Maybe if I'd been ALLOWED to hold him and talk to him, he would have been better!

And then there was the confusion when Surfer Pirate got there, and I took him into the NICU to see him. They had moved him to a different spot in the room, changed his nurse, and hadn't notified me. So I took my husband to see a totally different baby! Underneath all those tubes and machines, who could tell? I was horrified that I couldn't even pick out my own baby through all the mess! Why didn't anyone tell me he'd been moved??

Somewhere during the next day, they moved him into one of those little enclosed bed things. Thankfully, the tubes were gone! I could at least see his sweet little face. This new bed and new spot meant another nurse. Seemed like they were always changing nurses. It was confusing, but I don't really have a problem with that part.

They let me nurse him. Which meant I got to hold him! But there was always someone there, determining how long I could hold him and when I could touch him when he was in the little bed. Rules governed EVERYTHING. That's when I became a milking cow. I was to nurse him every two hours. I would nurse him, and then go back to my room to sleep. Heaven forbid I didn't show up every two hours like clockwork, or they'd be calling me to inform me I needed to get my butt down there! I would show up 5 minutes late, surrounded by guilt, and would get there to find him sleeping! They'd made me feel guilty that he was starving and screaming, and he wouldn't even be awake!

I was so sick of hospitals! So sick of rules! So sick of people not letting me take care of my son the way my instincts dictated!

I had no idea it was just going to get worse.

When my mother had me, she informed the doctor that she would be taking me home the next day. And she did it! I tried that trick. I told the doctor that I would be taking my son home before Christmas. Didn't work. I could swear I saw a mocking look in the doctor's eyes when he informed me otherwise. They were trying to get my son to regulate his temperature, and the nurse informed me that there were specific rules about for how long that would take. THIRTY SIX hours was the rule!

No one seemed to care about the fact that my son was FINE! He had passed every single one of their milestones much sooner than they expected, but they still kept following all their strict little rules! I was so angry I could hardly see straight! I felt helpless and trapped. I felt like these nurses (who were almost a decade younger than me!) were treating me like a 15-year-old unwed mother, not a 30-something experienced woman. I constantly felt like someone was going to pat me on the head any minute. It was a very condescending environment.

And then, a light. The doctor who was the department head of the NICU worked a few short hours. He looked at my son's chart and asked the nurse "Why is he still in here? He's more than ready to move into a crib." Then he patted the arm of this stressed, frustrated mother and assured me that they would move my son out of the NICU as soon as possible.

True to his word, my son was moved to a crib. Still in the NICU, but no more machines. He still had an IV - in his head, poor baby - but otherwise, my little boy was allowed to breathe on his own and regulate his own temperature.

And then the blessed moment when my little boy was released from the NICU! They told me they still needed to keep him under observation, so we wouldn't be able to go home on Christmas Eve, but possibly the next day! I couldn't think of a better Christmas present!

The move to a pediatric room* meant another new doctor. Another Protocol, Protocol, Protocol doctor. No longer did I have the wonderful NICU doctor who knew my son was fine and shouldn't be there. I'm not a racist person, but it didn't help my frustration to have a doctor who didn't speak English as his first language. Not only did I feel like the rules were more important to him than my son's well-being, but I couldn't understand half of what he said!

*Yeah, that was fun. Being the only adult sleeping in a kid's bed in a pediatric room. I was no longer a hospital patient, so I couldn't stay in the maternity ward with the other new moms. My son was the patient, and that was HIS room.

We had a few blissful hours where it was just my little family in a hospital room all together. No machines. No nurses telling me when I could and couldn't hold my son. We were still stuck in the hospital, but I finally felt like I could breathe!

It didn't last.

That night, they informed me my son was jaundiced and would have to go under the uv lamp. Rules started all over again. I could only have him out of his little crib for 30 minutes at a time, every two hours, for nursing. Again, I was being told I wasn't allowed to hold my son!

To add insult to injury, the next day, the sun came out! The days before had been grey and snowy, but now the glorious sun was out! Sunshine! The best thing for jaundice! Yet they STILL wouldn't let me just sit with my baby in the sunshine. He had to stay under the lights. Rules, rules rules. Protocol, protocol, protocol.

By Christmas Day, I was stir-crazy and about to lose my mind. Christmas in the hospital is HORRIBLE. Add to that the fact that our truck broke down after Surfer Pirate and Pirate Munchkin had arrived. We had no money, no transportation, and we were stuck in the hospital on Christmas Day. The hospital's social workers were amazing! They set my little family up in a really nice hotel and arranged for cabs to shuttle them back and forth. Then, they filled an actual WAGON full of gifts for my kids! The wonderful NICU doctor I loved so much showed up with his grandkids and gave my baby a Christmas ornament!

The only other good thing about the hospital was the chicken taco salad. I ate at least one every day I was there. They were amazing!

Christmas night, I'd had it. I couldn't sleep with that stupid blue light absorbing every color in my brain. I couldn't sleep knowing I wasn't allowed to hold my baby boy any time I wanted. At about 3 or 4 in the morning, I pulled him out of his little crib. I no longer cared if that was going to delay his recovery from the jaundice. I no longer cared if some nurse was going to come in and yell at me for not following the rules. I was tired of feeling like a worthless teenage unwed mother. I was going to do what I felt was best for my son - hold him in my arms. Holding him, I slept for the first time for days.

Finally, the next morning, they told me his bilirubin count was low enough that we could take him home! The doctor hadn't wanted to do his circumcision until just before we left. (Honestly, that doctor didn't want to do the circumcision at all. He very definitely didn't believe in it, but Surfer Pirate and I had very specific reasons why we wanted it done.) They took him to do that. Then he had to go back to the NICU for a little while for his car seat check (to make sure he was stable enough to ride in it for our long drive home). I didn't care. All those steps meant we were finally going home!

Everything was ready to go by 1:00 that afternoon. But we couldn't leave until Pirate Baby had peed. They needed to make sure everything was okay after his circumcision. So we waited. And waited. And waited.

One of my wonderful church leaders had driven halfway across the state to pick us up. He'd been waiting all day as well. Finally, around 7:30 the nurse decided our baby was just being stubborn and she would get the doctor to okay us going home. I didn't have much hope, but she came through for us! We were finally able to go home around 8:00 that night. This sweet man drove us two hours to our house, then had another 3-4 hour drive to his house. He had to have been incredibly exhausted!

But we were finally home!

I have almost no pictures from the hospital. Surfer Pirate hadn't made it to the hospital in time for his birth, so there were no pictures of him when he was minutes old. When he was a few hours old, he was buried in machines and tubes. I couldn't bear to take his picture then. I got the few pictures above when he was moved into the covered bed thing (for the life of me, I can't remember what it's called). Most of the time in the hospital, he was restricted from being held. There are no pictures of his proud parents holding him. No pictures from the first time he met his big sister. We have a few short videos of us at the hospital - one of the first time he was nursed, and one later on when he was first moved into the pediatric room. There are a few others from our hospital time- none of which are anonymous enough for this blog.

The days in the hospital were all a big blur. I honestly couldn't tell you if my son was in the NICU for 1 - 1/2 days or 2 - 1/2 days. It wasn't until looking at the videos we took coming home that I realized we were at the hospital for 4 days, not 5. Time didn't exist while we were there. It felt like we were trapped there for weeks.

I realize that the protocols and rules are in place to protect the hospital from malpractice suits. It's a shame that our country is so sue happy that it's come to this. But I feel robbed of memories. I feel robbed of those precious first days with my son.

No amount of malpractice protection can fix that for me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Friends Are Crazy

When I was 16 years old and got my driver's license, my mom had a Ford Tempo - very much like the one in the picture below:

Picture found here.

It's a fairly compact little car. Seats four semi-comfortably. Seats 5 if you squish 'em up a little in the back seat.

*This would also be a good time to add that people who come up with car paint color names have no clue what colors are. Notice how the car in that picture is so light grey that it's almost white? They called that color "Charcoal." I would call it "Ash" or maybe "Dust".

In my church, they want all the kids with the same morals and beliefs to spend lots of time together, so once a month, we would have a youth dance. Kids from 14 to 18 were invited, and it was usually a great time.

The night had come for one of these dances. I know I wasn't in the greatest of moods that night, and had hoped that the dance would fix that. (Most likely I was mooning over some guy who didn't deserve my attention. I did that a lot in high school.) But this particular dance never really picked up. Maybe there was some major activity going on at another high school, maybe a lot of people were out of town, who knows? Either way, I was disappointed with the lack of turn-out and was getting bored.

My friends The Two S's were there, along with some other friends. They were enjoying each others company, laughing and having a great time even though there weren't a lot of people to dance with. But since I wasn't already in the "Yay! We're having a great time!" kind of mood, I just couldn't get into their enthusiasm. I mentioned to my friends that if things didn't pick up soon, I would probably leave.

I started roaming the halls and wasting time in the bathroom, checking my makeup every 5 minutes.

I went back into the dance for a while. My friends' moods had just gotten even better. They were laughing and having a wonderful time. After a while, I announced I'd had enough and I was leaving.

They told me good-bye, and continued laughing and giggling.

I walked out to the parking lot to discover my mom's car had been hit by a little pickup truck!

I didn't have a camera with me, so I don't have pictures of that night, but imagine that I was walking up from behind the black car in this picture:
Picture found here.

I was horrified! My mom was going to be so upset!! I'd taken her car out for the night, had parked it perfectly responsibly in a more unused side of the parking lot, and someone had still hit it!

I had that horrible feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you find out something really bad has happened.

I walked slowly up to the car to see what the damage was.




....there WASN'T any damage!

In fact, the little pickup wasn't even TOUCHING my mom's car!


My car was clearly moved like it had been hit really hard. But it very definitely hadn't been hit. It was locked. The keys had been in my pocket all night.

I went inside and found my friends. I was still really confused while I explained to them what I had found.

They doubled over, laughing hysterically! They couldn't even talk, they were laughing so hard!

And that's when I realized they were responsible for it!

"Alright guys. What did you DO?"

They explained to me (through their laughter) that while I had been wandering around the church, a group of big football players had come in. They were talking to the guys and had come up with the idea of playing a prank on me to cheer me up.

They sent these big guys out to the parking lot to PICK UP MY CAR, move it sideways to look like it had been hit. Then, they chose another vehicle parked nearby that was small enough for them to pick up, and moved it in front of my car so it looked like it had hit my car.

Turned out that the pickup belonged to a guy we knew named Jack*. We went to track him down to have him move his truck. (The football players were afraid they would get in trouble for their part in the prank, so they had left.) Jack didn't find the prank nearly as funny as the rest of us did, but he didn't have much of a sense of humor anyway.

*not really his name.
Click to enlarge.

I didn't stick around much longer after that. The dance still never really picked up.

But I definitely left in a better mood - thanks to my crazy friends and some big unknown football players.

...although, I probably would have stayed longer if the football players had stuck around to dance with us!

Monday, May 21, 2012

When Celery Goes Wild

Picture to be described shortly...

I've been really struggling lately with my self esteem.

The main problem is all the weight I've put on in the last 11 years or so. There was an issue that came up at that time with my first marriage, and in order to deal with the stress of that, I started eating.

After the divorce, I managed to lose 30 pounds! I was very impressed with myself and feeling really good about how I looked.

And then I fell in love with a cute surfer guy and got a little distracted from my goals...

And then my sister died.

And then Surfer Pirate broke his back and I spent a whole lot of time sitting around with him because he couldn't really move for 2 months.

And then I had a baby.

All of these things affected my weight. In a bad way.

And when you don't feel good about yourself, it's really easy to put off trying to deal with it. There's too much weight to lose. It will take forever. It won't work. Or you've tried before and just put it all back on. And then you get depressed about how you look and so you eat to make yourself feel better.

It's just a nasty little spiral.

The motivation to get myself to do something about my weight has been really tough.

But sometimes, you just have to open your eyes and realize you have really good people in your life who believe in you!

Yesterday, my wonderful, adorable best friend from childhood (Love you, B!) took a step FOR me in getting me motivated. She bought me a little present. 2 bottles of my favorite diet pills!

Now normally, I'm not a big fan of pills. I've grown up hearing my mom say (in a mostly sarcastic tone) "Better living through chemistry." I think that people are much too quick to take pills for different things, and doctors are MUCH to quick to prescribe them. (One day I'll have to tell the story of the quack ER doctor I had a run in with once.) But sometimes there is a time and a place for them.

But sometimes I have to accept that I need a little help. While I'm stubborn and prefer to do things on my own, trying to lose weight on my own has resulted in me ADDING at least another 15 pounds. Sometimes, I have tell my stubborn self that it doesn't hurt to have help, and maybe it's okay to take advantage of your resources. I have used these pills in the past, and they worked very well for me.

So having B. buy me not one, but TWO bottles of it makes me feel like she's making a little investment into my health.

And it makes me feel like I'm WORTH that investment!

Meanwhile, she's struggling with her own weight and has needed some motivation. Even though we live 780 miles away from each other, we're going to be workout buddies!

We'll check in with each other, report on our exercise and eating details and motivate each other longdistancely. (Yes, I just made up a word.)

And eventually, we'll look like some of these happy girls in this ad for my diet pills (who's name I won't use here, but you can possibly guess from the picture).

Meanwhile, in an effort to make better eating choices, I decided to have some celery and carrot sticks with my lunch today. I had cut them up previously and had them in containers in my fridge. I could tell as soon as I pulled out the celery container that something was wrong. The celery had gone bad. They were an off color and smelled weird.

"No big deal," I thought to myself as I threw those in the garbage, "I have another package in the crisper drawer."

When I put that celery in the drawer, it looked like any normal bunch of celery.

But now it looked odd. It was all bendy and wonky.

I think my celery has actually been GROWING while sitting in the crisper! Is that even possible?

Oh well. It tastes fine.

And now it's all been cut up into nice even little sticks.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Eyes Have It

My first experience with parenting was helping to raise my two step-sons. They were a handful, but I loved them (still do). Obviously, since they weren't biologically mine, they didn't look like me.

Then I got Pirate Munchkin. And then I temporarily had her sister. Again, since they weren't biologically mine, they didn't look like me.

So when I got pregnant with Pirate Baby, I really looked forward to finally having a child in my life who actually looked like he belonged to me!

...and then he was born...

...and he looked EXACTLY like his father.

Don't get me wrong. That's not a bad thing. I happen to think Surfer Pirate is pretty darn good-looking! Having my little boy look like his daddy is a great thing.

But still part of me was a little disappointed.

My dad counseled me, "You know, eventually it won't matter because Pirate Baby will look like Pirate Baby."

Which is true. He definitely has his own look.

But part of me was STILL disappointed because I wanted to be able to see some of ME when I looked at his face.

Eventually, random people in stores started pointing out that his eyes were shaped just like mine. They were right! They are the same shape, and they are HUGE just like mine were when I was little. I took consolation in the fact that while his eyes were blue, they were the same shape as mine.

By the time he was a year old, I had accepted the fact that my son's eyes were blue, and started to really enjoy the color of them. They were a really pretty dark blue.
...sometimes, they would even turn brown depending on his mood and the lighting in whatever room he was in.

But recently, I noticed something. The blue is almost gone. It's still there when he's outside and the sun is really bright. But mostly, his eyes are green and brown.

Just like mine.

So while he has his daddy's nose. And his daddy's ears. And his daddy's blond hair. And his daddy's mouth. And especially his daddy's chin. He has my eyes.

My little boy.

And for those of you who aren't on facebook, here's my daughter in the really cute (but insanely difficult to make) poodle skirt that I made this week:

The spring concert at her school was a 50's theme. The kids were encouraged to wear 50's style clothes, and I was THRILLED to have an excuse to make a poodle skirt! I always wanted one! My best friend B. had one when we were kids, and I was insanely jealous. So at least I get to live vicariously through my little girl.

She loved it.

But she was less than thrilled to hear that she would have to wear socks. She thought that was really weird.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Love of Books

Beautiful book picture found here.

Books have been on my mind a lot lately.

First of all, my mom posted an entry on her blog about reading books to her grandchildren. It was really sweet.

This morning, my friend J. and I were talking about children who love books versus children who hate to read.

I am so very grateful that I come from a Book Loving Family, and that my children share that love!

Many, many years ago, when my sister was 19 months old, she had a SCARY huge vocabulary! (Makes sense. As an adult her IQ was in the 170's!) My mom made a recording of her talking that she'd planned on sending to the grandparents. She never got around to sending it, and when we were older, she found it.

We LOVED listening to it.

On most of the tape, they were looking through a picture book and talking about the pictures.

I still have the book. The pages are getting old and a little brittle, and you can see the binding has been taped together.
When my mom was here, she brought me a tape player because I no longer had one, and I really wanted to listen to the old cassette tape. (I also have a few others in a box somewhere of the two of us playing together.)

I sat down a few nights ago to listen to it. I was filled with excitement as I plugged in the tape player, took the old tape out of its case and popped it in. I hit Play, and....


When I pulled the tape back out to look at it, I noticed the tape was broken.

Thankfully, I'm not afraid to take things apart and mess around with them. The only problem was I've misplaced the tiny set of screwdrivers I needed to really do the job correctly, but I made do with what I had. I discovered the old cassette had two different kinds of screws, and two of them wouldn't budge. I managed to pry the one side open and then was able to twist the case until the last one came out. I reconnected where the tape had separated and attempted to put the whole thing back together.

And attempted again...

and again...

I figured I needed to take apart another one to see what I was doing wrong, so I went downstairs to get my collection of old cassettes. (I need to write a blog entry about the treasures in that case!) I found one that was a home recorded one that I have since replaced with DVD, and figured that would be a safe one to disassemble.

This one was much easier to take apart since it was a good twenty years newer. Once I had it open, I realized that I could just put the old tape inside the newer cassette. The recording is certainly more important than the cassette that holds it, after all.

I carefully moved the old tape into the new(er) cassette and closed it back up. I put it back into the cassette player. Then, I took a deep breath and hit Play.

My sister's sweet little baby voice came through the speakers. I'm currently 6 years older than my mom was when she made that tape, and it was really fun to hear MY OWN voice coming out of the speakers! There was enough of a difference that it was still her own distinct voice, but it was fun to hear how much of it sounded just like me. I've always been told I sound like my mom - the actual comparison of us in similar ages is really interesting. And my sister was only 3 months older than my own little Pirate Baby is now.

Meanwhile, I'm so happy that my children love books so dearly. I used to read to Pirate Munchkin all the time when she was little, and now she is rarely found without a book in her hands. And Pirate Baby is just as interested in books - although right now, he really just wants to turn the pages.

This is one of my favorites to read to him. It's really cute.

The other thing that's fun about having children who love to read is trips to the library can bring up really fun memories. I remember going to the library as a family when I was growing up. The rule was we could check out the number of books that matched our ages. I follow the same rule with my daughter. (Which reminds me. I forgot to tell Pirate Munchkin that she gets to check out 8 books now that she's had her birthday. I need to remember that for next week.)

We went to the library yesterday, and I was delighted when she picked out this favorite from when I was little:

Books were always a big deal in my family. For generations, there were always treasured books in the house. I remember seeing my grandparents read, both of my parents, and my children see me reading all the time. It warms my heart to see they share that same love.

The Day Pirate Dog Went to Jail

A few months before Surfer Pirate and I started dating, I had just put my sweet, 9 year old German Shepherd to sleep. I'd had him since he was a puppy. It was really hard, but he was sick, and it was time.

Plus, I was a single mom with a 3 year old and 4 cats. I had my hands full enough.

When Surfer Pirate and were newly dating, he suggested that I get another dog. It took a while to talk me into it, but I realized I had really enjoyed the security I felt having a big dog around to protect the house.

So one day, I went to the animal shelter. I looked around at several dogs, and I fell in love.

...with another German Shepherd.

This one was a female. A tiny little puppy.

...and she was being treated for mange...

*my mother warned me divorce makes you temporarily insane.

I told Surfer Pirate about this little puppy, and he had the sense to talk me out of it. I was working full time, not exactly the best time to try to train a puppy. And did I REALLY want to take on a sick dog with all the other things I had going on in my life?

So this time, the three of us went to the animal shelter together, to look for an ADULT dog. I showed Surfer Pirate the other dogs I'd been looking at. He kept going back to this yellow lab with a really sweet personality. He walked up to the dog, pointed at him, said "Sit", and the dog sat! "That's the one" he said.

It made me laugh.

So we took the happy guy home.

Less than 2 weeks later, I got a phone call at work.

"This is so-and-so from the animal shelter. Your dog was picked up by Animal Control wandering the street. We need you to come pick him up."

That afternoon, I went down to the animal shelter (aka: The Pound). The lady at the desk told me to go back to the kennels, find my dog, pick up the clipboard on the door of his kennel and bring it up to her.

I saw him before he saw me.

He looked so terribly sad and dejected.

I could tell he couldn't figure out what on earth he'd done to get locked up again.

I walked up to him. "Hey Pirate Dog. Do you want to go home?"

He grinned from ear to ear and started to jump up and down! He was SO excited to see me! "Mom!! You're here, you're here!! I thought I'd never see you again!!!" his happy little face seemed to say.

Then, I grabbed the clipboard, told him I'd had to take this to the front.

As soon as I walked away, he started to HOWL!! "MOM! Where are you going??? Don't you love me?? DON'T LEAVE ME HERE!!!"

I laughed to myself as I walked to the front. I was still laughing when I paid the $35 bail fine to get him out. The lady said she would bring him out to me.

Next thing I knew, he came racing out to me, dragging the poor woman behind her like she was a little kid!

It was far from the last time he got out of the yard and ran away. Thankfully, that was the only time he got picked up by Animal Control. Usually, a neighbor would find him and call me. I found out later that labs are notorious for running. And we also found out later that a woman a couple blocks away from us had two female labs, and that's where he had been going.

He was a character, and he sure made life interesting. :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Advantages of Marriage

Subtitled: Another Disaster in Online Dating story. Previous stories here.

Marriage has lots of advantages. You have a partner to help you make decisions. There's someone else around to do the cooking when you're sick. You have someone to snuggle with in bed. And ...other advantages that (ahem) I won't get into.

But one of the biggest advantages of being married?


***Unless your spouse is a weirdo. I definitely still recommend date nights, even if your spouse IS a weirdo.

About a month before I met Surfer Pirate, I had met another guy on good ol' Myspace. He was the epitome of the kinds of guys they say you'll meet on Myspace. But I was newly divorced, and as my mother had warned me "Divorce makes you go temporarily insane", so I didn't recognize just what a creep this guy was back then.

First of all, he was BEAUTIFUL. Latin. Great body. Gorgeous dark eyes. Just my type. He sent me many pictures of himself. He had several tattoos, but by then, I'd realized I was really attracted to that.

I'll call him Roberto no, forget it. His name was Hector. Screw him. He was a jerk, so I'm not going to make up a name for him. I can't remember his last name, so that's enough anonymity for him.

Anyway, we'd talked online and on the phone and decided that we should get together. We lived several hours away from each other, and agreed to meet in a town about halfway between each of us. I made arrangements for my daughter to spend the night at someone's house so I wouldn't have to worry about time when I made that long drive home.

This was the first time meeting someone I'd met online, and I was overly cautious about it. When we arrived at our meeting point, I made a point of texting a description of what he looked like, what he was wearing, and a full description of his pickup and the license plate number to my family. That way, if I disappeared, they would have all the information I could give them to provide to the FBI.

First of all, he had told me he was 5'8". I'm 5'5". I wore my favorite 3 inch heeled boots (because they look amazing on me), figuring we'd be at eye level with each other. With my boots on, I was at least 2 inches taller than he was. He was also MUCH skinnier than I'd expected. He claimed to be a martial artist, and he had the muscle tone to prove it, but I still expected someone a lot bigger. As my sister would say, he was "pocket sized"*.

We'd planned on spending the day exploring this town that neither of us knew. I just didn't plan on it being so stinkin' cold! It was January, but it was supposed to be really nice that day. But there was a looming Just About to Snow crispiness in the air. We had lunch, and after freezing half to death, he made the suggestion that we rent a room to get out of the cold. (So not sneaky.) I debated, but finally decided it was better than freezing, and better than trying to figure out somewhere else that we could go and not get kicked out for loitering for hours. We went in his truck, and he checked us into a little motel. I sat in the parking lot waiting, feeling a little like a hooker. (Hi Mom! We just kissed a little. Promise!)

In the room, we watched some tv, kissed a little bit, and talked a lot. I thought we got along really well. After a while, we decided to go see a movie. At the theater, I was very self conscious about how much taller I was than him, and was wishing I'd worn something without a heel. We saw the movie Jumper (with Hayden Christensen - I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it). After the movie, it was painfully obvious the snow was coming. He tried to talk me into staying at the motel with him overnight (promising nothing would happen... yeah right), but I said I needed to get home. He drove me to my car and we said goodbye, making tentative plans to meet up sometime in the future.

I drove home in the worst blizzard I'd ever experienced! I will be eternally grateful to the truck driver who was in front of me. I stayed close enough behind him that the snow blew over the top of my car instead of directly into the windshield like it had been. Visibility was almost zero, but as long as I could see the truck's reflectors, I knew I was okay. I just hoped he could see well enough that he didn't drive us both off the road! Truly the most terrifying driving experience of my life! I was very sad to see his turn signal as we got to a town along the way, and worried about how I would do the rest of the drive without that big friendly truck. But right at that town, the road curved and the snow was coming sideways instead of straight at me. I could finally see! I blew a kiss to my hero the truck driver and made the rest of the way home with a little less stress.

When I got home, I checked in with Hector. The roads were so icy that he'd actually ended up in a ditch, and had to be towed out!

As the next couple weeks passed and Valentine's Day came around, he'd started getting distant. If you're not familiar with Myspace, you used to be able to post all kinds of little posters and things on people's pages. He made me a lovely collage of pictures for Valentine's Day - full of pictures of him. (Vanity, thy name is Hector.) Things were just not the same. After a little snooping, I'd discovered that he'd made another Valentine's collage thing for some other girl - full of pictures of BOTH of them.

It became pretty clear that he was really interested in her, not me. I was the booty call he'd tried to get until he could go visit her in Texas - where she lived. I sent him a text message that said "You know, if you really wanted to be with another girl, you could have just told me. We could have just been friends."

No answer.

I'm glad the jerk slid into the ditch that night.

A couple weeks later, I met Surfer Pirate online. He was sweet and charming and made me laugh until tears streamed down my face! Our first date was at my house where we were going to make dinner together. Within a half hour after he got to my house, I got a text message. From Hector. A MONTH after I'd sent him the last text! He was babbling on about how I needed to let it go and move on. (Uh..... that's pretty much what I did. A MONTH ago!) I excused myself to Surfer Pirate telling him I had to deal with some "unfinished business". I basically told Hector to grow up and get over himself.

Then, I set my phone down on the counter.

I took a deep, cleansing breath.

Then I turned around, walked across my kitchen, bent down to where Surfer Pirate was sitting at my kitchen table, and kissed him for the first time.

Not too long after that, he stole my heart.

If you're married, hug your spouse a little tighter today. If you're single, you have my sympathies.

...and my best wishes that you may never have to deal with Hector.

*She was almost 6 feet tall. She loved Sylvester Stalone, and was pretty upset when she discovered he was only 5'9". She said she wanted to pick him up and put him in her pocket.