Nov 8, 2002

Hey, I learned a couple of important tips over the past week that might help some of you out.

#1).  If your husband ever has one of those days where they get a bug up their ass and decide to complain about what does and doesn't get done in the house, here's a firm plan that works quite well.  I experienced this on Sunday.  Eric went mad and started fussing about the house and did that usual deferring of Husband Angst to places where it ought never be.

I am not a good housekeeper and don't pretend to be.  I'm getting better all the time and the house isn't totally embarrassing, so I just don't worry about it.  His mom was superwoman who held down three jobs and toothbrushed the bathroom floor at midnight and lived for the clean house kind of thing.  I just can't do that.  It ain't in there.  I've apologized to him for it and beyond that, I do the best I can (usually).  Most times, if he gets fussy about it, I'll feel bad (Really bad - I mean, so many other women can do the Better Homes and Gardens thing.  Why can't I?  That was his question as well), cry and berate myself and then get busy spending the weekend cleaning like mad so he feels better.  This week, he said something that struck a particular nerve and I just wasn't interested.  I thought about what Dr Phil says, "We teach others how to treat us" and "You don't do anything without a payoff."  I realized that his rant usually gleaned him just what he wanted:  a scrubbed house.  This time, I decided to do something different, so when he had vented his deal, I said, "OK.  Sorry you're upset.  I'm going grocery shopping."  His mouth opened and closed a few times (as Mary Poppins would say, "We are not a codfish.") and he started to insist that I stay and clean, but I just told him "Nope, gotta get groceries."  I left and came back a couple of hours later.  He had cleaned the kitchen, but run out of steam before doing much more and was lying on the bed reading.  Nothing more was said.  He got to rant.  I didn't have to cry and power clean and that was that.  My advice:  If you're getting chewed out for something and don't want that to be the way someone motivates you, don't give them the payoff by doing what they want.  Do something YOU want.  

Additionally, I learned that when you have a small child at your side, whining over something that they want to do that you have denied them flat out, if you cup their face in your hands, look them in the weeping eyes, then lick them from chin to hairline, they will instantly stop crying, look at you in horror and flee to their room, where they will remain for quite a while.  The long term therapy investment of this technique has not yet been evaluated, but in the short term, it's fabulous.

Does anyone ever watch Dr Phil and want to seriously slap some reality into the moms who "can't tell their children no" ?  Some of the kids I've seen on that show would be in dire straits if Katrina was their mommy for a day.  My kids are by no means perfect and definitely, I'm more lax than I should be, but if one of mine EVER talked to me like that little three-year-old ("All he'll eat is cheese and junnnk fooood, what do I dooooo, Dr Phil???) kid did today, he'd be tied up and thrown in the closet for a good long spell (with Mom casting the spell).  Yikes.

Watched the remake of "Carrie" on Monday and it was surprisingly wonderful.  I've only recently gotten a horror flick addiction, I guess around '96 or so.  Prior to that, real life was horrifying enough.  I'd seen the original with Sissy Spacek a few times and it was OK enough.  I've also read the book and though it is far from Stephen King's best work, it's quite good.  The casting (including Rena Sofer - ex-Lois from GH - as the gym teacher) and acting were stupendously good and I really enjoyed every minute.  I was surprised that the ending was changed, but it was a good change.  It was also cool to see the casting go multicultural.

My son, Joe, and I are Stephen King fans and have a theory about him.  We love all of his earlier work for the most part, with the exception of Cujo, which I thought was fairly blah.  Firestarter, Different Seasons, The Dead Zone, It, The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Stand, Christine (a movie in desperate need of remaking), Night Shift, etc were all fantastic.  His stint as Richard Bachman was even quite good.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of Misery and Gerald's Game, he began to lose me.  In Misery, I thought the story was quite good, but he seemed extremely incapacitated when he restricted himself to a limited cast of characters.  His best stuff seems to come when he can sprawl out over the gradual development of several different kinds of characters.  Misery was a good book, but it lacked the punch he usually delivers, in my opinion.  It was also one of the times that the movie was much better than the book.  In Misery, he offered an unusual dedication "This is for Stephanie and Jim Leonard, who know why.  Boy, do they."  

For those of you who do not know, Misery is about an author who has an automobile accident in the snow and is rescued by his #1 fan, the reclusive and, we learn later, totally insane Annie Wilkes.  Annie loves him and cares for him as he heals (she's a nurse that we also learn later was responsible for the death of several of her patients as "The Angel of Death") until she learns that in his new book that has just hit the stands, he has killed off his star serial character, Misery Chastain, goddess of the bodice ripper romance genre.  That's when things get ugly.  In the course of the story, Annie demands that he write a new book, bringing her back to life (he was thrilled to be rid of the character and of romance novels) and when he resists, she tortures him, including hobbling him when he tries to escape and killing the sheriff who attempts to investigate.  This is also King's first foray into writing with a severely limited use of paranormal aspects to the story rather than the paranormal playing front and center stage.  

Anyway, what I wanted to say is that Joe and I have wondered if the dedication was just a ploy for publicity or if something really happened to King around that time that just isn't discussed.  From around that time on, his books take on a totally different flavor, constantly bringing social issues to the forefront to the point of almost becoming public service announcements.  The hard core grittiness is gone for the most part and he is left with just a story that is told, often in an anticlimactic fashion and certainly without the jab, jab, jab cadence of his earlier work.  I've heard he had publisher troubles (which is why he published under Richard Bachman for some of his work), but I suspect something deeper and more sinister than perhaps an overstressed, overtaxed, burned out writer tiring before his contract was fulfilled.  Around the time that his books started to go all girlly - I'm going to use Gerald's Game (an odd book about a middle aged woman who goes with her husband to their remote country cabin for a sort of second honeymoon, lets him get into some kinky time with handcuffs and a cast iron headboard, only to have him freakin' DIE on top of her in midsex with the key to the handcuffs out of reach!  Doh!) as the defining moment - and lose the classic Stephen King punch, I think Steve may have had a melt down.  I also think that around that time, starting with Gerald's Game and going all through Delores Clayborn and Insomnia and on and on, that his books started to read EXACTLY like another author I've read who likes to deal more with the psychological side of horror than with the physicals.  The author I'm thinking of loves to use the stories to carry along messages of social and societal import and has always seemed to be working in the shadows, enjoying only a modicum of success despite a fairly respectable talent.  Good writer, but just never really found the vehicle to drive to fame.  That writer is Tabitha King, Steve's wife.  She wrote The Trap and Small World and I'm sure a few others, like Gerald's Game and Delores Clayborn and Bag of Bones and "he Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, for instance.  I think Steve had a contract, Steve had some kind of experience or meltdown that made him say, "Screw this" and turned the writing over to his wife, who could earn a certain fame from ghost writing his books while he fulfilled his contractual obligations and they collected the bucks.  I do know about the accident Steve had where he was run over by a car, but that occurred after his books took a dive.  I think that with the book, "Dreamcatcher," which Tabitha has publicly denounced and refers to derisively as, "That book," Steve decided he was ready to write again and she wasn't ready to give control back.  I have Dreamcatcher, but haven't read it, but according to Joe, it carries the old King one-two punch again, so it's in my TBR stack (to be read).  

Just something to think about!  Just call me Oliver Stone.  I see conspiracy everywhere.  :)



Nov 8, 2002

WHAT a terrible night!!  Yikes!  So let me tell you a story (that really happened). 

On Sunday, like I said below, Josh left to go to Idaho, then called on Wednesday to tell me he was getting on the bus in an hour.  I don’t know how many of you follow the Weather Channel, but California had a tremendous storm last night with really heavy duty winds and lots of rain.  Since the bus from Idaho has to go through Donner Pass (yes, of the “eating” variety), I knew Josh was heading right into a world of mess.  Eric told me that the forecast said it wasn’t going to get cold enough in the mountains for the storm to freeze, so I relaxed a bit.  He was getting in at 9:45pm, so I called the bus station 4 times before I left to see if the bus was on time and there was never an answer.  I got downtown around 9:30 after braving sheeting rain that made it nearly impossible to see where you were going.  Lots of accidents.  Around the bus station, there were roads blocked off for some kind of repair and cops were around to make sure the areas stayed clear.  The bus station is an easy walk from the Capitol building, so they are pretty vigilant around there.  The result was that there was absolutely no parking on the street anywhere near the bus station.  *sigh*  I found a parking garage, nearly empty and parked as close to the street I needed as possible.  Then came the walk in the rain.  It was about 4-5 blocks (not really a lot, but in rain, it sucked), so I started out.  I hid my purse in the trunk before I left, not wanting to walk in that part of town (let’s face it, bus stations aren’t put in the fabulous forties block) with it.  Our window is still broken out on the Intrepid, so  I prayed no one would just reach in and pop the truck with the remote.  Our key is bent and won’t turn the trunk lock any more.  When you think about the broken window, also think about how the monsoon that I drove in affected my mood.  >:< 

So off I go to get to the bus station before Josh.  The walks to and from school every day were my friend and I was able to make it on time, stepping over a few people who were sleeping on the sidewalk and easing through the bar crowds that were bleeding (fortunately this was figuratively and not literally) out onto the streets and sidewalks.  The station was jam-packed.  Everyone there smelled like Pabst or Hamms and was wearing a stained men’s T-shirt.  Every child, boy or girl, had a long mullet.  I went up to the ticket counter and sure enough, all buses out of Reno were delayed 30-40 minutes.  I finally found a seat on the molded wire benches and settled in for a long wait.  I amused myself by trying to imagine where everyone was going and what their story was, but I got bored when the stories started repeating themselves.  When the bus was an hour and a half late, I checked again and this time was told that the 9:45 out of Reno had already arrived…30 minutes late, but had arrived.  The lady went back and verified with the man who supposedly brought the bus in, even bringing him out to talk to me.  ??!!  I really couldn’t imagine how I could have missed him.  Did he miss a connection somewhere?  Did he fall asleep on the bus and miss the stop?  My head was reeling.  The lady told me they had no means for passenger tracking, so they couldn’t tell me what stop he got off at or if he was still on the bus.  Shit.  So I went to a phone booth to call Eric and let it ring off the hook.  No answer.  Called his cell, hoping it was in the room where he was no doubt sleeping.  No answer.  Well, crap.  Frustrated, I decided to go home and just wait to see if Josh called from *somewhere,* preferably some place in California.  

I left the bus station and started walking back to the car.  It was 11:20pm and I was tremendously grateful that the rain had stopped and the wind was somewhat died down.  I got past the bars and such and was heading toward the parking garage when I saw a big black guy (that just so stereotypical to say, but it’s true) step out from under the awnings of one of the little closed shops.  He watched me go by and then I heard him say, “Right here.”  (??!!)  I turned around to see if he was talking to me (stupid me, I always figure someone is being conversational before I figure they are being felonious) and as I did (I had a good car’s length or two between me and him by that time), I saw a little skinny white guy get out of a car that was parked near where the other guy was.  They started walking behind me.  I discontinued my interest in conversation. 

I couldn’t even see the parking garage yet and the street was fairly deserted as far ahead as I could see.  I started walking a bit faster.  I could hear them walking behind me and as I sped up, so did they.  Shit.  Every now and then, a car would go by and I would hear them fall behind a bit, but then pretty soon, I’d hear the footsteps behind me again, probably maintaining a car’s length or so behind me the whole time (I had some freaky, “only a fool breaks the two second rule” chant running through my head that I remembered from an old public service announcement about tailgating). 

Finally, I saw the lights of the garage, remembered that it was virtually empty 2 hours before and my heart sank.  I knew what was coming and I felt it strike my head and heart like lightning.  They were waiting for the parking garage.  Talk about “fight or flight.”  My stomach dropped out of my body and is still somewhere on 8th street (shouldn’t I have gotten some weight loss points for that?).  I started to pray…a lot.  I called on Kali Ma, the defendress of women and asked her to please, please, please send help.  I thought of Eric, blissfully asleep in MY bed, not answering the phone, while this drama was unfolding.  I thought of Josh and wondered where he was.  I told each of my kids I loved them in my head.  I could feel it all in a moment.  I could feel love and life and death and joy and pain and terror.  Shit.  I turned into the parking garage and ducked under the chain (that exit had been closed while I was in the bus station).  The crazy thought ran through my head that since it was after 11pm, ALL of the exits might be closed.  I mean, who assumes a parking garage is open all night?  Jeez!  How stupid was I??  

I heard the chain clink as the guys stepped over it and one of them swore at it and the other one laughed.  I had my hand on the keys in my pocket, wondering if there was any effective self-defense I could enact with them.  Against two guys?  Probably not.  I might gouge an eye or a nad, but that didn’t bring me back to life again.  I continued to pray.  “Kali, send help, please send help, sendhelpsendhelpsendhelp!”  Why hadn’t I parked closer???  Why did I take the first parking place I found and walk to the exit??  As I rounded the corner to where my car was (which was a very, very, very long 100 feet or so into the garage), I very nearly collided with A SECURITY GUARD OF MAMMOTH PROPORTIONS who was, I guess, making rounds of the garage or something.  All I knew is he was right there with me in that moment.  I could have tongue kissed him…anywhere he asked.  I smiled and said, “Excuse me” and he told me to have a good night.  He started walking toward the guys with his hand on the butt of his gun.  They left.  He stood by while I got into my car and drove to the lower level, which actually had an exit that was open. 

I didn’t recognize the street onto which I exited (the Downtown Plaza, which is where I’d parked, is gigungious) and Downtown Sacramento is a labyrinth of one way streets.  I drove around for a little while, the tank on empty, shaking like a leaf, chanting “thank you’s” like mad.  I stopped at a payphone to call Eric (who knows Downtown Sac like he knows our front yard from working there forever – both places, actually) to help me get home. Nothing.  Still, no answer.  Rang off the hook.  I prayed he was in a different sleep cycle this time and would stir.  Damn.  Luckily, I found the street leading to the freeway and was home in about 15 minutes.  It felt like forever since I left the bus station.  It had only been about an hour.  I stormed into the bedroom, eager to tell Eric what had happened and get some cuddles and feel safe again (I figured Josh would eventually turn up or call) and all that came out was, “When I’m going to the ghetto in a fucking monsoon, PLEASE take the phone with you so you can be available if I’m in trouble!!!”  He took immediate offense and we ended up fighting, probably the worst we’ve had in years.  Crap.  I never even bothered to tell him what happened because he was not at all interested in tears or fears.  It was ugly. 

Josh called to say that the bus had just gotten into the station (LIARS!!!) and had been delayed for two hours due to a windshield wiper incident.  I drove down and got him without further madness.  Had to take Dylan, who woke up from the gale force tension that blew into the house.  He chattered all the way, most of which I couldn’t hear because of the roar from the window being broken.  Josh was in good spirits and we talked for a little while before I turned in to sleep on the couch (didn’t want to go back into the mouth of hell that is evidently my bedroom now).  Kids slept late this morning (unheard of, but I appreciated it) and are being extremely well behaved.  Eric left this morning without saying good-bye and hasn’t called, which is also unheard of, so I guess he’s still pretty mad that I yelled at him.   I’m still working it in my head.  Part of me feels like I didn’t do anything wrong.  He *should* have been around when I was in that situation.  Then I hear Dr Phil saying, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?” (Proving Dr Phil is NOT a Virgo or he would know that one of those just can’t live without the other).  I suspect I’ll call him soon and apologize, but it’s not going to feel right.  I just need to get this over.  Maybe I’ll never really tell him what happened.  I should give you guys his cell phone number and have you call and tell him.  Reliving it just to write it out was hard enough and I started crying like a GIRL all over again.  God knows how I’d do talking to him about it.  

I keep telling myself that this was just a moment in time:  a scary, miraculous moment in time.  I’ve wondered if there really was a security guard in the Plaza Parking last night.  Hell, I’ve wondered if there really were two guys following me.  It seems so different in the light of day, but talking about it sure brings the emotions right back into focus.  Maybe their car was also parked there and the guy was saying, “Right here” as in “I parked my car right here” (even though the parking garage was not visible from where we were).  Maybe…crap, well, a thousand maybes.  

All I know is I have GOT to get my act together or it’s going to be a really long day. 

I’m going to go…I dunno, take a nap or something.  God, I wish I had a daiquiri and a spa and a babysitter and masseuse.  I so need a vacation. 

Love ya,


Nov 7, 2002

Things here have been so crazy, hence, my not writing.  My kids have been passing around a stomach virus that produces unholy emissions from each end of the digestive spectrum.  I can’t remember the last time I slept all the way through the night.   My kids have taken to waking up, open for business (not that sleepy awake that can be coaxed back into at least drowsing) at 4-5am for the past 3 weeks or so and now the time change (grrrr – don’t get me started) has pushed that back even further.  Fortunately, they have now altered their waking according to the change, so we’re back on 4-5am now.  They’re up through the night as well, ralphing and pooping.  Everyone seems better for the time being, except for the business of Delena trying to fake me out on school, so I hope we are finished with this for the time being. 

I'll be writing again soon to catch you up on all that has been going on.  I write to you guys all day long in my head, but it feels like I never get ten minutes to sit down to the computer and put a few words together.  

Everything is OK.  There are definite challenges as we try to get caught up again after 2 months of unemployment (Rent two paydays in a row!!  Triple months of utilities!!  Delena's birthday!  Christmas!  Yikes!! - smile).  The VW bus has *died* at the same time the newer car is supposed to be repossessed.  Thankfully, they are taking their own sweet time with the repo.  That also puts off the time when we have to start paying off the balance on the loan!  

My beloved Bissel steamer carpet cleaner also died.  The repair guy called today to say it would cost about $250 to repair it (I only paid $199 for it new!).  My carpets are a disaster.  I'm wishing another carpet cleaner into manifestation.  :)

I'm about to go to the bus station to pick up Josh (the 20-year-old son).  He left out Sunday night and we were sure this was "the time" he was actually leaving home.  He went to Idaho to live with friends, but ended up having to leave after a couple of days.  Now it's time to come up with another plan.  It's going to be a hard transition for him because as soon as he left, I converted his room back into a family room and I don't expect to be changing back again.  His privacy will be limited, as will his sleep since the boys get up so early, but life moves on.  Here's hoping he finds his own, wonderful path very soon.  

Gotta get going!

I'll be around tomorrow to write more.   


Nov 7, 2002

I am so pleased that Election Day has come and gone!  I look forward to it each time it rolls around.  Noooo…it’s not because I’m out there pounding the pavement, pushing election bumper stickers for my favorite candidate and sweating out the counting of the ballots.  I’m thrilled because it will be months before I have to see another campaign commercial or someone’s name stuck on a stick in the middle or on the side of the road.  I don’t know how it was in other states, but in California, everything from the gubernatorial (I love that word.  It makes me think of Mayberry.) race right on down to the dog catcher elections turned dirty and evil so that every time you turned on the TV, you heard, “He said, she did, I didn’t, there’s no proof…”  I really admire everyone out there who goes hog wild on the elections and feels passionately about one candidate or another (as long as they are not on my door step, phone or TV), but honestly, I don’t even feel qualified to vote!   

I spent years and years as a military wife, where you are nonresidents of whatever state you live in, therefore, not eligible to vote in the local elections.  The other side of the coin is that you are not present in your home of record enough to know who should be running the place there either.  Now that I can vote in local elections, I have to wonder how a person goes about deciding who should be elected into office.  Where do you get the real story?  Certainly not from the camp of the candidate, who will be glossing over and glamorizing the bad stuff and touting the good stuff.  Certainly not from the opposition, who will be shining a light in every dark corner, looking for something to move.  I suspect that anyone old enough to run for office will have some skeleton (at least one) dancing around a closet they don’t want opened and lord knows a political adversary is going to find it.  Sounds to me like the only way you can responsibly vote is to do your own independent investigation, look into the person’s political background if they have one and their business background if they don’t, contrast and compare how they voted on any measures or legislation that came down the pike and canvas their current political platform to see where they stand on current issues. 

My own political views are so varied and intense that it’s going to be virtually impossible for me to find a candidate who isn’t totally blowing one or more of them.  How can I support a candidate who is perfect for my religious freedom needs but trashes my views on abortion?  What about a candidate who has consistently voted for measures that would improve the schools, but is raping Medicare to do it?   It’s a no win situation.  I can’t get a good story on the people who are running for office without an exhaustive amount of research, for which I definitely don’t have time, and I can’t trust ANY of the info I’m given.  It sucks because we are pushed hard to be a “Good American” and get out there and VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, but what if you really, really don’t give a shit about who’s elected to what?  Take our gubernatorial (Mayberry) race here in California.  Our candidates are Gray Davis (who has proven himself basically incompetent to run the state) and Bill Simon (who has proven himself basically incompetent to run about anything he has ever attempted).  As nearly as I can tell, it’s a wash.  I’m not sure who is the new governor-elect of California, but I figure today, I’m a winner either way because today my TV was campaign free!!  Whoo hooo!  I think Davis won, but at this point, I’m apathetic enough to not bother to check. 


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