Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Live A Short Time, And Fail Miserably - re: my narcissistic ex husband

*Title of this post is a play on the Vulcan greeting "Live Long and Prosper"
...which is the opposite of what I wanted my ex husband to do.*

I had the following same arguments over and over and over with my first husband.  These days, I see them for what they are - his attempts to narc me.  I was relationship-stupid, but I wasn't going to fall for that crap.  From this distance, I am giving myself a high-five and a 'hellz yeah!'

1.  I told him many times not to tickle me [I have given bloody noses to people who tickle me.  It's not fun, or funny.  It's invasive and torture and I hate it.]  So he would walk behind me and *poke* me in the ribs to startle me, to tickle me.  I would get FURIOUS and then he would get mad at me!  So I would say:  "I ask you specifically and frequently NOT to do a thing.  Then you do that thing.  Then I get upset, and then YOU GET MAD AT ME!?  What in the fuck is that all about??" and he would just huff and walk away.  He had no answer to my logic.  This happened in varying ways several times.

2.  We were fighting (surprise) and he said something, a factual statement that differed completely from his last stance (he went to the store after work vs. he worked late, or something).  So I asked (YELLED AT) him "last week you said A.  Now you are saying B.  So, were you lying THEN, or are you lying NOW!?"  Oh, he hated that.  I have an almost perfect memory for conversations (hello scapegoat narc syndrome) and I could repeat VERBATIM what he had said the first time.  His attempts to gaslight me were laughable, but his reaction when I held his hand to the fire?  He couldn't THINK.  He would mutter something '...well that was...' and I would repeat "were you lying then?  or are you lying NOW?  it's an easy question asshole!  just man up and tell me which time was the lie??"  He would walk away.

Har.  They HATE being caught in lies.  And he wasn't particulary quick on his mental feet.  I'm GOOD in a fight.  Better than good.  Mike's dad has called me a 'verbal ninja' - and I can get behind that description.

I was still low-self-esteemy enough to stay with this disgusting creep for over 2-years.  But his attempts to give me the full on narc treatment were deflected every time.  There is so much more about this guy, that's another post.  But it was my use of Spock-like logic that drove him nuts.  He could not refute me!

OH!  He was driving my little SUV, we had bought a brand new van that I drove (on MY good credit, goodbye good credit!) and every day I would yell at him for smoking in the SUV.  He would try to tell me he wasn't.  Like you can't smell cigarette smoke EVERYWHERE, not to mention one of my super powers is my sense of smell.  One day I took him out to the car and showed him the line of ash on the outside driver door and back panel.  He muttered and stumbled and said 'well, IF i smoke I have the window down' <--if.  IF I SMOKE.  I was completely laughing at him, pointing at him and laughing (I am SUCH a bitch in a fight, you do not want to fight me when I know I'm right) and I was yelling at him "so you ARE smoking in the car!  I TOLD YOU I KNEW IT!  The car smells like cigarette smoke you asshole!  YOU AREN'T FOOLING ANYONE!

Oh, he hated that logic I used.  He hated that he couldn't get one past me.  (I married him, let's not get all egotistical about how smart I am)

He was never physically abusive, but it was going in that direction. 

(Mike, you have said you didn't realize he was that bad.  You were about 3, 4, 5-years old at the time.  I hid EVERYTHING bad from you.  It was my job as a mom to make sure you felt safe.  I'm glad you didn't know how bad it was.  But, uh, I MARRIED SOMEONE I felt I needed to keep you safe from.  MY child abuse was still ringing in my ears, I was still making bad decisions based on my childhood.  I thank every god there could ever be [like that guy from The Mummy] that I had the sense to keep you out of it.  JEEBUS it's like I almost let you get hit by a bus.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dust in the Wind Fan

Sitting on the sofa, thinking happy thoughts.  I should really get moving, I love my high ceilings.  Looka my fan!

So high up there!  So cool *wait* - wha...?

That ISN'T shadows, is it.  NOPE.  What in the fuh...?

Oh, my jeebus.  That is the thickest layer of filthy dust.  It looks like FUR.

Huh.  Guess I know what I'm doing today.

MORAL:  Don't look up.  It's like looking on top of the fridge or the floor behind the toilet.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Clutter is not the boss of you - and comments on a comment

Tundra Woman, you made an excellent comment on my last post, which, I mean - ALL of your comments are excellent.  But it prompted a reply from me, and now I want to expound on that a bit.  I realized that the idea of STUFF can be brought around to narcs, because OF COURSE, it always comes back to being raised by assholes.

(My reply to TW follows, but I've edited it for brevity, and bolded for emphasis.  For the original full monty, please go to the linked post and down to the comments.)

It was the feeling that I could only be a 'true grown up' if I had grown up things. Things like a storage closet with extra tile and paint, a bathroom under-sink stuffed with proof of my pampering of myself, book cases full of books, a kitchen stuffed with serving platters I never used.

I always felt that I at least had to have the 'costume' of a grown up, since I so obviously (to myself) (even with a full time job and a child) was NOT a grown up. These days I actually have grown UP in my head, so I'm finally out of the need for the costume.

I've driven the shitty ass cars that wouldn't start unless you climbed under with a screwdriver, and done the 'carry oil just in case' and kept a full change of clothes in my car in case of break down - I've lived in shitty ass apartments where Mike wasn't allowed to play outside with the feral beasts that passed for children. I've eaten expired food and had couches (and beds! and tables!) that I pulled out of dumpsters or off the side of the road.

I'm through living like that. While I am still frugal like a tight-fisted bitch, I buy better stuff now. It isn't the STATUS of crap, although I will admit to being enough of a human bean <--! to fall into that once in a while, it is more the feeling that I deserve better. I deserve a safe car, I deserve food that I buy because it sounds good, not because it's expired and almost free. I'm still shopping at Target, but not just the clearance racks anymore, I've moved on UP! (oh I am a dork)

But I also feel like, these days, I deserve to treat myself well. Which means not having crap in my life, having wide open swaths of carpet [that is easily vacuumed] and counter space [that I can wipe clean in seconds, no freaking toasters or blenders on it, just the lone necessary coffee pot.] And not having bills bills bills ruin my sleep (I need my beauty sleep!). No more having something just to have it.

No more keeping something that someone gave me, simply because it is a gift. I am DONE with the responsibility of gifts, they weigh SO heavily on a person. I think of that every time I GIVE a gift now - it's sort of like giving someone a horse. Now they have a horrible responsibility to that gift! I donated the glass head that woman gave me, and I felt guilty doing it. NOT FAIR. A gift shouldn't make the recipient a museum curator for the rest of their lives.

The things I am finding in closets, STILL! including photos, are bringing a lot of the past right up into my face. And this time I'm not bowing down to the memories and letting all of that emotion roil through me. These are OBJECTS. And I get to choose. The memories, good and bad, are NOT the objects.

The objects can be judged on their own merit. Ugly? Stained? Torn? Chipped? Useful? they either ARE or they AREN'T. They are just objects.

And objects are not the boss of ME.

That statement there, that last one, is my Profound Ah Ha Moment.  Maybe it will resonate with you.

Objects either ARE useful and right for you, or they ARE NOT.  Objects have no feelings.  Memories are not dependant on objects.

YOU have the choice.  To keep a thing, or to not keep a thing.  There is no guilt tied to an object unless you allow it.  There is no emotion other than the pleasure it brings you to SEE and USE the object, not just to HAVE the object.  Do you like seeing it?  Do you use it?  Does it bring you pleasure to do both?  You have a keeper.

Does the object bring you joy?  Does it function?  Does it make you happy to SEE it?  If not, it has no place in your life.  NO PLACE.  It is a hindrance.

A lot of the time, the objects we hang on to were given as gifts.  A gift can become an obligation.  I do understand the problem with gifts.  There have been many times I thought I had given the PERFECT gift, but the recipient wasn't as thrilled as I had hoped.  Or the other way around (hello, glass head).  I understand the disapointment.  But I do not agree to take on the responsibility of keeping and storing that item.  I DO NOT AGREE.  I get to pick if I like it and if I am going to keep it.

Once the gift is given, it becomes the recipient's property and they are free to use or dispose of that gift as they see fit.

For ACoNs, if your parents/narc have given you things [and I bring this up because evidently narcs LOVE to give things, my kind of narcs excluded] please remember that narcs do not give GIFTS.  What they give is OBLIGATIONS.  They give 'strings attached'.  They give GUILT.  it doesn't matter if they gave you a bottle of perfume or a lawn mower.  Narcs feel as though the given object should thereafter be displayed with lights and glowing arrows pointing at it, and a placard stating that they gave it to you ["on loan from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Douche Bag"].  It's a control issue, not a gift.  IT'S A WAY TO CONTROL.

And because we have been so well trained by THEM, we assume every single gift ever given comes attached with that obligation.  We assume that every gift from neighbors, every tchotchke purchased while drunk on vacation, everything that our children ever drew on is a forever item, that they are all valuable and full of MEMORIES and guilt and responsibility.  THAT IS BULLSHIT, my friends.

Your home is not a repository for other people's expectations of you.

Newspapers and magazines and unfinished knitting projects are another form of guilt.  It is expectations of OURSELVES.  'Finish what you start!' 'What a waste of money!'  Again, I call bullshit.

If your intentions were to cut out recipes, and you never did it, it's because that activity is NOT IMPORTANT to you.  Throw the papers/magazines out.  You are not a bad person because you don't have time, you are a discerning individual and that project doesn't make the cut of how you want to spend your time.  Same for that ball of yarn or those unused paints.  The money was gone when you spent it.  You didn't waste money so much as you were exploring possibilities.  You found out you don't like that activity.  NOW?  Now all you can do is pass the stuff on to someone who will use it/recycle it, and reclaim that space in your home or your head for things that make you sing.

The guilt.  The expectations.  It's all crap.  You get to choose.  What do you want to look at, to live with?  Don't let other people choose what you live with.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Books that Sing

George Lucas' library - I could live here

When we decided to move across the country last year from San Diego, California all the way to Lexington Park, MD, I decided to start shedding my extra crap.

This act of 'shedding' became an ongoing thing.  As I got rid of crap, I started getting more and more ruthless with my posessions.  I started donating/tossing/recycling everything I could possibly get rid of.

It's amazingly FREEING, the feeling of tossing and FORCIBLY EVICTING crap from your life.  Even down to oven mitts with holes in them or holiday decor made by your PRECIOUS SNOWFLAKE CHILD that has macaroni on it that is rotten and disgusting.  I started saving only the very best of everything, from glassware and baking dishes to Mike's school work.  [I simply didn't need every damned thing he had ever doodled on - it was bordering on hoarding and he told me THAT'S CREEPY MOM.  (I even had some of his baby teeth.  Don't laugh, you do it too.  I threw them away.  dis. gus. ting.)]

I decided, during that time, that 'good enough' (with regards to towels / bakeware/drinking glasses) was no longer OK for me.  Chipped, cracked, frayed, stained... all of that was GONE.  I no longer have toddlers/kids who spill and drop and break.  I am no longer SUFFERING for money, although we are desperately paying off IRS debt and other etc. debt, it isn't the same as when Mike was little and I had to buy his xmas presents at the 99-cent store.  I made the grand decision that while I (sadly) cannot log onto Crate & Barrel and just order everything I ever wanted, I DID have the option of walking into a Target or a Kohls and replacing things, a little at a time, with new, FUNCTIONAL, and worth-the-space items. 

I am done with two things relating to stuff: 

1:  Having more of it than I need.
2:  Having stuff that is actually crap.

This extended to my bookshelves.  One of the first things I did was grab my high school yearbooks.  I THREW THEM AWAY.  Jeebus, I am 52 years old, I don't even remember more than 2 of the names of the people who signed them.  I hated high school.  Those things were from 1977 through '79 - they were heavy.  It was stupid that I had moved them for the last (counting on fingers) 34 years.  Into the recycling they went, and MAN that was the beginning of being free of the tyranny of STUFF!

I gathered all of my ceramic stuff from the 20's, 30's and 40's and posted a picture of it all on facebook, and said first come, first served.  *blink* it was spoken for and gone.

I did the same thing with tons of other collectibles.  I saved a few that actually meant something to me, stuff I really liked, and got rid of the rest.  Some I gave away, some I sold to an antique store (for a HUGE loss, that stuff isn't worth even half of what I spent on it anymore).

THEN?  I started on my books.  I had gabillions of books.  Mike did too.

This is an OLD pic of Mike, he is about 13? here  Behind him are just two of the bookcases in my condo in SD.  There were boxes under my bed, several in my closets, books in the shelves in the living room, and the above adorable GEEK had 3 bookcases so full in his room they were sagging.  (We are an indoor bookish clan, pale and unused to the sunlight...)  Those books were 30 years old in some cases (Stephen King or my year books even) and I know I have gone over this before, but... 

The books you can buy at Barnes & Nobel are not made with anything near the best, top-notch ingredients.  Random House is not going to waste good quality paper, the best glue, on a $15 book (that I ultimately paid $5 for because I am a Bargain Shopper).  The paper, the glue, it rots.  It collects dust.  It DECAYS.  That is one of the things you are smelling in an old person's home.  That lovely miasma of decaying glue and paper and bug poop.  "Book Worm" - an actual insect that eats its way through book bindings and glue.  Bugs love old, decaying books.

Yes, I used to take all my books off the shelves, dust the shelves, vacuum the books, put them back - it was a Spring Cleaning CHORE.  Did you know that libraries are supposed to be temperature and humidity controlled?  Books were once bound in leather, which is what made them so costly and so precious to people.  Leather needs conditioning.  Ball players condition mitts, owners of leather books have to take care of the books.  It was/is a HUGE responsibility.  Books were very costly.  (Think of large English estates in those romance novels, they always had a library!)   That's one of the reasons books have traditionally been held onto for dear life.  They seemed irreplaceable, because essentially they were.  It was like owning heirloom crystal, you kept it in a safe place, only brought it out once in a while and then passed it on to your descendants.  Owning several books, or even *gasp* a large library was an upper-class thing.  For a long time, only the church had extensive libraries.  If you owned books, you took them with you everywhere.

Think of how many stories you have heard of wherein someone leaves their library to a college or university?  Someone who was interested in botany, or antiquities - they collected and amassed a huge inventory of books on the subject, and then left the entire lot to a private library.  Books were a BIG DEAL, is what I'm saying.

I was raised in an era that still held books as cherished heirlooms, even the cardboard and cloth covered ones.  You simply treated your books like treasures, and we were taught that from childhood.  I never, ever, got rid of any book, ever.  This mindset, which has not kept pace with REALITY, has created problems for lots of people.  The reality is, in the last ~150 years progress and innovation have happily made books available to everyone, every class, every income level.  They are cheaply made, but also inexpensive to acquire.  Great, because BOOKS FOR EVERYONE!  I love to read, love it.  Bad, because see above re: dust, decay, bugs, stench.  Books are now like TVs, microwaves, computers.  They are REPLACEABLE.  Unless it is a copy of 'Pat The Bunny' signed by a favorite aunt, you can recycle the old one and buy a new one.  It's sanitary and smart.  People of my parent's generation cannot fathom throwing out/recycling a microwave or TV.  They hang on to them - this is one of the facets of hoarding.  That shit is WORTHLESS, let. it. go.

I bought myself a Nook and I love it.  I love that I can download any book, at any time, and *bam* I can read it right there.  I love that my Nook holds so many books, and all I have to take onto the plane or wherever is that little electronic device.  I love that thing!

But I found myself missing books.  I miss the comfort of book cases.  I miss seeing them around me.  I miss the GOOD smell of books, like when you walk into a book store and that is just perfume to me. 

I had kept a few books that I absolutely loved.  Books I swiped from my dad's library, or books I acquired over the years.  But I parted with SO MANY.  My copy of Jane Eyre in particular was heartbreaking to toss out, but it was a crap copy and falling apart, and what the hell, I knew I would someday replace it.  But, I did keep a few:
Polly-Anna! Alice in Wonderland! Salinger!     
            Wodehouse!  Thurber!

So, long story as long as possible:  I started chucking books.  CHUCKING THEM.  Paper backs all went in recycling.  ALL OF THEM.  Mike and I together, we recyled about 10 medium sized boxes packed as full as possible of paperback books.  I didn't take them to a thrift store or the VA because, two things:  The VA said 'no, thank you'.  And thrift stores said 'no, thank you'.  NOBODY WANTS THEM.  So we recycled them into new books, essentially.  The hardcovers, yes.  We took at least 15 full, heavy (hi, Mike!) boxes of hardcover books to the independant thrift store, but we had to do it like Book Ninjas.  At night, under cover of darkness, we had to sneak the boxes onto the loading dock at the store.  They DIDN'T WANT THE HADCOVER BOOKS EITHER.  But I couldn't toss them, I just wasn't mentally able to do that.

But listen to me - nobody wants your old books.  They are worthless.  Think old CRT computer screens or TVs.  If you love a STORY, then the book is replaceable.  If you have a specific memory attached to a specific book, like I do with my Alice in Wonderland book, then it's worth keeping.  But like that sad ragged copy of Jane Eyre - I love the story (with my whole heart!!) but needed to replace the actual book.

So, just the other day, I decided it was time to ADD to my home, even while I am still in the midst of shedding and downsizing and tossing.  I bought two new books!  I bought two gorgeous, leather covered, excellently bound books.

Jane Eyre!  I love you so...
From the Ebay seller:  "The spine is ribbed and the page edges are gilded in 22k gold, as is the design on the boards and the title on the spine. The book has moire endpages and a satin page marker."

James Thurber! (one of the funniest authors I've ever read)

From the Ebay seller:  This book is part of the limited edition series published exclusively for subscribers to "The 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature". Book is in excellent condition, brown leather binding with ornate 22kt gold design on front and back cover as well as lettering and design on hubbed spines, gold gilt page edges, silk moire endpages and matching satin bound in page markers.

The cost for these books?  About $40 each, including shipping.  FORTY DOLLARS.  That is so inexpensive.  For a beautiful, quality copy of books that I love?  I can buy one a month.  Leather Book Of The Month Club.  HUZZAH!!  (I uh, I have to find a way to tell Jeff that I am bringing books INTO the house, shhh I haven't figure that part out yet.)  These aren't VINTAGE books, by the way.  These were printed in the 1970's or so, and are gently used.  I wasn't (and am not) concerned with 'new' and 'first edition copy' or any of that crap.  I just want quality.

I only plan on buying books that I have read and loved.  Once that copy of Thurber gets here, my shabby worn out copy is going bye-bye.  Each time I buy a replacement book, I will send my original copy off to old-book-land.  I have never read, nor do I want to read, Moby Dick, so I'm not buying that.  In other words, I'm not collecting these just to have a collection.  This is a labor of love. 

I have NEVER collected anything with this kind of purpose before. I want a copy of Steinbeck's 'East of Eden' - I want a copy of everything Jane Austen ever wrote. Can you imagine!? I can budget for and search for the exact book that I want. I can have books again!  Of course, I also have to research how to care for these books. Keeping them in a bookcase right next to a fake fireplace/heater is NOT the best place. But I am floored.

Floored that I finally found it in my soul to toss old books out, because it MAKES SENSE.  Floored that I am in a place now where I can start adding TO my home, because I have gotten rid of so much crap.  I have space now, space for fun stuff, quality stuff.  I am floored that I prefer NOTHING on my walls if I haven't yet found the one thing that sings to me.

Only own the things that sing to you.  Best advice I can give you.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Domecon Babies part 2

There really is no info available for how those poor babies fared after their year in the Domestic Economics labs.

Quoted from the website (bolded emphasis mine):

"Cornell essentially leased babies through local child welfare associations and orphanages, and the “Domecon babies” lived in the practice apartments for a year. Multiple students cared for the children, rotating strict feeding and sleeping schedules. Down to diaper pinning, the home ec students raised the Domecon babies according to the leading childcare principles at the time."

I don't know how many are old enough to have learned what the childcare principles were at that time.  I just re-watched an old black and white movie called "I Remember Mama" wherein the youngest child (about 4-years old) was in the hospital for an operation, and the mother was not allowed to see her own kid for 24 hours.  NOT ALLOWED.  She snuck in anyway.  I'd have scratched that doctor's eyes out.  "Children should be seen and not heard"  "Spare the rod and spoil the child" - the practice of wet-nurses and nannys.  Mothers were encouraged to not hold their children too much in fear of 'coddling' them.  Fathers were not allowed anywhere near nurseries or children until they were potty trained.  At least as far as I can tell.

Orphans, who were far too often the result of out-of-wedlock birth, were tossed to orphanages as a way to save the mother and her family from shame.  It wasn't thought that babies would remember anything anyway.

The only article I could find was this one:

Which references a book written about a fictional Domecon Baby, "The Irresistable Henry House". 

Here's an article written about that book - the book sorta shook everything up:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Domecon Babies

Imagine there were babies in an orphanage.  And there was a college nearby, that wanted their female students to be able to practice the 'Domestic Arts' under scientific conditions.

Imagine then that these women lived in 'practice apartments', and got to 'check out' an infant from an orphanage, like a book from the library!, for a year and take turns raising it under very strict scientific guidelines.

Yeah, that would never happen here in the states, right?

This during a time when babies were forced to cry themselves to sleep.  When holding a child was called 'coddling'.  Experiments in extra love, or no love at all!  what will happen when we do this, or that?  And because these children were orphans, they had no voice. 


Monday, February 11, 2013

Open Saskatchewan...?

So, a long time ago I promised to tell you the story of how I went to Sweden and met one of the crown princes of Saudi Arabia. Imma make good on that promise now.

Jeff works for a company that is a government contractor. **He is not an arms dealer, lol!!  Our military sells jets and crap to other countries!**  Jeff is in charge of making the numbers on the spreadsheet add up.  One of the countries he supports is Saudi Arabia. (The USA sells all kindsa weaponry to various other countries! Good to know! Not scary at all!) He goes to these meetings twice a year or so where all the details of the sales are hashed out and copious notes are taken, financial spreadsheets are dissected, etc. Sometimes these meetings take place in exotic locations like New Jersy or Detroit.  This time they all decided to have the meeting in Sweden.

Balcony in Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden

EEEP! He had gone on travel to enough of these things by that time to accrue airline miles, so my flight was FREE!  His hotel was paid for, so my housing was FREE!  Essentially, I went to Sweden for the cost of my food/drink – which, y’all know, I was still drinking then so uh, that was enough cost for anyone.  EXCEPT – and this will be important to the story – alcohol is NOT readily available in Sweden. It is a sovereign country, run by a monarchy. They govern the sale of alcohol with a very tight fist. You have to go to certain stores on certain days within certain hours to get any booze. And the store where you buy booze is NOT the store where you can buy mixers. (Not to mention, nobody in Europe knows what in the fuck ‘tonic water’ is, that is another rant) 

So we get there, and I am ecstatic.  I am ALONE blessedly alone all day, every day for a week!  I am walking the streets of Sweden, exploring Gamla Stan

and everything and just enjoying the fuck out of myself.  We didn’t hang out with anyone but Jeff’s immediate boss-type guy, and that was only at night.  It was summer so it never got dark at night! 
10:00 PM!
So it was just a fabulous time for me.  Jeff had told me there would be a dinner with the prince, so I had brought a dress and accoutrements for that occasion.  ßforeshadowing. 

~Prior to this trip, I went to Ross (discount store where clothes go to die) and bought a dress marked down to like, $9.00.  Then I went to Payless and bought myself a pair of black peep-toe pumps for $9.99.  I had already in my possession a black cardigan shrug sweater.  Bip bop, I was done shopping for this dinner.~

The night of the dinner, as we are getting ready in the hotel, Jeff happens to mention that no other wives would be attending. I was the only one. I have no idea how many wives actually came on this trip, but none were coming to this dinner. The excuse they all came up with was having nothing to wear. Um. We were within walking distance of one of the biggest malls I've been in - Sweden is pretty fashion forward. Alarms started sounding in my head but I just kept on straightening my hair. It turns out that these people had past experience with this type of dinner thing, and declined to attend again. UGH.

I had assumed the dinner would take place at a table much like this:
(NOT my picture - ganked from interwebz)

And that I would be WELL below the salt, as the saying goes.  Like, I'd be sandwiched between Jeff and some other poor shlub, far from the Royal Assness.  I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it, but I figured I’d see some things I wouldn’t otherwise and eat some food fit for a prince (hahaha) and be ‘on’ for a coupla hours and I’m done.  I thought there would be maybe 20 people at this shindig.

The dinner was being held at The Grand Hotel, Stockholm.  It is right on the water, one of the 'Grand Dame' type hotels.  Built in 1874.  It was old-fancy, the way places in San Francisco are.

So here is where the story really starts.

We had no before-party drinks because the bar in the hotel is not yet open.  We figure we'll get drinks at the bar in the hotel where dinner is.  So, no crutch yet.  We take a cab, arrive and head into the lobby.  I'm in a foreign country!  I'm seeing stuff!  Jeff locates the rest of his group, and we head over and mingle.  We are then led up some carpeted stairs into a small conference ante-room with a cloth covered table - it has some envelopes on it.  Jeff heads over and locates our envelopes.  this picture is horrible but the envelopes were labeled "Mr. Jeff Kravitz" and then mine was "Mrs. Kravitz".  HOW VERY 1950's.
 We were seated at table 9.  Seeing how there were only 5 FUCKING TABLES I wasn't entirely sure we were going to be allowed to sit INSIDE the hotel, but... onward:

**PLEASE NOTE**  Those envelopes are type written.  Not printed by a laser printer, OH HO NO!  There is, somewhere in that olde tyme hotel, probably in the basement, a poor 85-year old woman with a typewriter - POUNDING on the keys.  You can tell they were typewritten by looking at the letters, the keys don't hit the ribbon full on anymore.  JEEBUS Sweden, wtf?

So we move into the conference room, there are 3 or 4 tall cocktail tables covered with cloths and that looks like a good sign to ME, I need a dozen quick shots of vodka stat, but I'll take wine.  HAHAHA.  So, FYI - not only is this country sort of sticklers about liquor, um - the Saudi's are MUSLIM and they do not drink. 

Maybe you didn't hear the Phantom of the Opera music right there.  NO BOOZE.  I have to be 'on', in front of royalty (??), no crutch.  oh god.

At the same time, I am noticing what/who I am in a room with.  With whom I am in a room.  WTF?  I start notcing the other people.

*I am grabbing you by your shirt and getting all up in your grill, wild eyes and frantic gestures* here is a list:

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
His Right Hand Man, A General In The Saudi Military (wearing his uniform with cruel looking medals all over it)
TWO Ambassadors
TWO Diplomats Of Some Other Denomination
The Head and Vice Head of Saab <--they don't make only cars!
The Mucky Mucks of Jeff's Job

[OK - so.  I am getting sort of panic-attacky while I'm typing this.  Point is, these weren't just your average Los Angeles/New York type Power Suits.  These guys - I mean really.  NEVER have I felt so strongly the desire to see an American flag.  I am NOT KIDDING.  I was realizing, because I am slow, that being a foreigner in a soveriegn nation and meeting with Saudi's (a country not really known for its fair treatment of PEOPLE, not to mention WOMEN) was not a place you want to be.  Those other fucking wives knew.]

[Further digression - when I think about that general/right hand man guy, I always think of this:]
"Hassan CHOP!"

Talk about swimming with sharks.  I felt...  it was so weird.  I was so anxious and out of my element (money and power) and then also - there was no emotion going on in that room.  In a room full of women, or just a regular cocktail party, you get get the emotional temperature really quick.  NOT HERE.

These were predators.  Business predators, sure.  But also narcissistic dead-eyed predators.  I was located, absently smiled at (or bowed over my hand) and dismissed.  I was not business, and I was a woman.  I didn't exist.  They were hunting and I wasn't what they were after.  Like a hunter will kill a spider on his way to tracking a deer.

I have no pictures of this entire 'cocktail' hour OR the dinner.  I wasn't going to bring out a camera.  I was shitting my pants.

There were also Swedish secret service men patroling around.  They looked like James Bond and that isn't as sexy as you would think.

We went into dinner which was not a looong table, it was 5 round tables crowded into a room.  We were seated so conversations could be heard - it was close.  And on each place was this:
(Again with the type writer)
And also this:

 Evidently that palm tree with the crossed swords is the royal symbol.  That menu card was front & back.  Also - they brought The Royal Stationery with them.  GOOD GRIEF.

There were 5 round tables.  Jeff and I were seated in a corner, with two 25-year old Saudi's that looked like gophers?  They stayed on their cell phones texting the whole time.  We were seated WITH THE HELP. 

Dinner was ok, it was hotel food so it LOOKED fancy but tasted meh.  The waiters!  There was one head waiter.  He looked about 65.  Then there were two helper-waiters.  The head waiter was the ONLY one to serve the prince.  (guess who served us?) this head waiter - man, he knew his stuff.  He had two spoons with his fingers looped around and was using them like tongs, with surgical precision.  THEY NEVER SPOKE.  He communicated with the two helpers with looks and head nods.  NO WORDS.  It was fucking creepy.  Like Downton Abbey if the servents were afraid of losing their heads.

After the main course I was dying to go to the restroom.  I had been waiting and waiting, and I was so nervous - how does a WOMAN excuse herself to go PEE in a room full of men?  If it was the good old US of A, no problemo.  But here?  I worked myself into a fine tizzy until I said to myself "Self.  The US is the mightest country in the WORLD.  Just because these backward third-world country assholes are sitting here is no reason YOU, an American citizen, cannot avail herself of the facilities!"  So I finally found my gumption and stood up.  OF COURSE, everyone looked at me and the room went silent.  I just sort of smiled a sickly smile vaguely at the room and walked away I DIDN'T TRIP thank god.  I go around the corner and old Barney Fife the Swedish secret service guy followed me to the bathroom.  In Europe all bathrooms are tiny, this one was no exception.  I shut the door, sat down and reached over and turned on the water in the sink so this guy couldn't hear me pee.

He followed me because I was the only one in that room without a 'secret clearance'.  Do you see why it was so nerve wracking??

I get back to the table (Barney Olsen-Fife trailing me) and sit down.  Jeff then decides the coast is clear and HE gets up.  At this point the prince LEEEAANS forward, almost into his plate, to see me AROUND someone else, and calls out "I HOPE YOU ARE HAVING A VERY NICE TIME?" and every. single. person. looks at me.

There I am in my $9.00 dress, no booze, in a room of sharks, and all of the sudden they are looking at ME.  Time stood still.  I opened my mouth and I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I SAID.  I burst out in sweat like one of those Pokemon characters when they cry.  My SHOES filled up with flop-sweat.  I stuttered and smiled and had a hot flash and mumbled and SMILED and fuck me.  It was awful.

In the cab on the way back to our hotel I said I needed a bottle of vodka.  Jeff agreed to buy me as many drinks as I wanted but he said I had to shower first THAT'S HOW SWEATY I GOT.

Aaaand, that is my story of meeting royalty.  It was horrible.  The end.

*The title of this blog is from an old Bugs Bunny cartoon, called Ali Baba Bunny.  It's kinda funny.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Empty soda cans

I had a very strange thing happen to me last night.

I've told you all how peaceful my life is now, I don't have any real stressors at all, I take care of our house/laundry/finances/dogs but there is no schedule, no bells or alarms.  I never take this quiet for granted either.  I am so appreciative..

I'm living in pure PEACE these days, and I have been since we moved here a year ago.

So last night I was lying in bed (watching Big Bang Theory I just love that show) and I got up to get water and realized I was grrr grouchy.  Pissed OFF.  And I stopped walking just STOPPED and said to myself "self, who are we mad at again?" (cos I couldn't remember who had ticked me off THIS time) and the answer?  nobody.  There was NOBODY that I was mad at.

I had this emotion, like an empty shell, just roll through me.  Like an old coke can rolling down a desert street *clank clang clank* with nothing inside.

That isn't the first time either.  I'll get all IRRITATED and have to think, and then *huh*.  Whudya know.  I'd been working on Ebay for the last hour and nothing is irritating me, I'm in my pajamas and things are selling and hmmm...

So, here is a question.  Or a hypothesis.  Hypotenuse.

My brain is so used to cycling through these negative emotions.  FOR YEARS there was more than one candidate for each one.  I mean, ask me 5 years ago 'who are we irritated with again?' and *FLIP* there goes the 2-foot list. 

NOW?  Now it seems as though these emotions, this negative energy, are all just echos of past drama.  Empty soda cans rolling down the streets of my brain.

Can you just be USED to so much crap that your brain sorta goes along as if it was still there?  Like a movie where a building is abandoned, but the machinery keeps on moving, starting itself up and then shutting down, on a schedule somebody forgot to re-program?

It made me laugh, actually.  Like I said, it isn't the first time.  Sometimes Jeff will ask me "what did I do exactly?  WHY are you mad at me?" and then I have to dig my toe into the dirt and say 'oh gee, nothing, sorry, durr Imma DORK sorry'. 

This 'living in peace' stuff - man, it's giving me insight into myself that is so useful.  I live with a LOT of empty echos.  I was running for YEARS from monsters (some real, some my own idiotic creation), *panting* and *huffing* and RUNNING and creating chaos (tossing chairs behind me!  rolling kitchen carts into paths!) and the actual monsters had LONG been gone, most of them vanquished and dead, some of them *poofed* into smoke.  My defenses were up WAY longer than I needed them to be, but I was so used to living defensively, to expecting the next punch (so to speak), the next slight, the next irritation - that I didn't stop when I got to the finish line.  I blew right past it, never saw it.

Quitting drinking, I think, is really finally letting me see that the noise in my head is all just residual echos, and has been for quite some time.  I drank (a lot) back when I 'needed it' to help me survive all of that crap, to help me cope and relax.  Then I drank because I was used to drinking.  I was using it to quiet demons and it worked so well, I didn't hear the door slam when they left.

I don't have those demons chasing me anymore, there isn't ANYTHING about my old life that is still around.  I mean, I've known that intellectually - shit, it even says so on the side of my blog, that nobody is around who worries me anymore.  Nobody who irritates me either!  But muscle memory...  I had never given my under-brain a chance to catch up to my frontal lobe.  It's been years wasted on being a defensive asshole toward NOTHING.  Shadow boxing.

I'm free.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Mike just wrote a post about a subject that hits all of us close to home.

Living life one inch at a time.  (I highly recommend the video - Al Pacino is so good anyway.)

Sure, the 'big picture' is a good thing.  But that inch in front of you - that's the next hill you have to take.  THAT'S the most important inch in the whole fight.  And then the next one.  And the next one.

Whether it's an actual battle, war or football, or weightloss or sobriety or finances or getting away from your narcissistic abuser(s) - the next inch is the most important battle of your life.

And in a little while from now, you can turn around and see how all those inches added up to MILES and MILES of progress and peace.

But that next inch.  It's totally worth fighting for.  YOU HAVE TO FIGHT FOR IT.  Because the alternative is to give up.  To say YOU aren't worth fighting for.

And that is bullshit.

Movie Fone 2

I thought of another one.

Another movie where the 'under movie' is more riveting to me than the original story the writer/director is trying to tell.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

I can't STAND this movie.

Ferris has a best friend, named Cameron.  And Cameron's father is a beast.  He's a seriously horrible narcissistic abusive beast.  Cameron is deathly afraid of his Father and wants so badly to get the courage up to tell him to fuck off, Cameron wants to FLY.

I identified with this character so strongly, in fact, that I haven't watched the entire movie EVER.  I cannot sit through it.  I've seen it in bits and pieces when they are shown on tv.  I even looked on Youtube for the purposes of posting a link to Cameron's fear in this blog and my stomach went all clenchy and bathroom-y and I had to just stop looking.

I HATE THIS MOVIE.  And it's because of a secondary plot that most people laughed at.  The quirky odd Cameron.  Being that scared of a parent?  HA HA HA!  Who DOES that?  yeah, well, ME.  Being scared TO DEATH <--think about what that means.  I would rather have died than have my dad that mad at me THAT IS A SICK WAY TO GROW UP.

Danke Schoen my ASS.  I hope Cameron's father died a very painful death.  Seriously.  DEAD.