Category Archives: Family Matters

Catching Up

Things are coming along nicely here. I’ve made quite a bit of headway with the sorting, packing and tossing of junk. You wouldn’t believe the amount of crap one mom and one kid could have accumulated in just two short years in one place.

The kiddo and I spent the greater part of the day doing yard work. Our landlord is showing the house tomorrow and we want to make it as presentable as possible. I’ve done a fair bit more than I’m required or obliged to do, but that’s just the kind of saint person I am. Thank you, and please hold your applause.

We’ve got homeschooling down to a science. We usually get everything done inside a couple of hours. John is looking forward to going to a new school, though; he’s even decided to join the choir there.

Bonnie has been just great about everything, and she even helped prepare for John’s enrollment in his new school; I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to thank her and her husband properly.

When I was writing to her the other day, a line from the poem To Have Succeeded came to mind:

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this is to have succeeded.

By this standard, these two dear people are already a huge success!

I miss being able to write every day. I have a few posts sort of brewing in my head. It’s not that I can’t make the time, it’s just that after a day of packing, cleaning, errands or whatever happens to be on the day’s agenda, I’m just too drained to focus. Most nights I can barely keep up my end of a conversation with Mike. I decided to stop early today and post a little something while I’m still able to form a few coherent thoughts.

Some things I want to write about when I’m able to concentrate:

  • More on the economy and stimulus bill
    While I’m certainly no economist, some of the misinformation that’s being repeated ad nauseam could be refuted by anyone willing to pull his head out of his butt, apply a little common sense, and stop hanging on Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh’s every word.
  • News vs. commentary
    The two are not mutually exclusive. At the end of the day, the important question is: Can the reporter and/or commentator pass a fact check? Commenting on the news or expressing opinions about it does not negate the facts being discussed.
  • Pleasant vs. rational
    When I was a teenager, I knew a woman who called me Dorothy, introduced me to her friends who weren’t really there and served ‘us’ tea using an invisible tea set. She was a lovely woman whose company and imaginary tea parties I truly enjoyed. But that did not make her thought processes rational.
    Pleasant and rational are not synonyms.
    (This is not a shot at the mentally ill. I’m really going somewhere with it. Please stay tuned.)

Well, that’s all for now. I hope you’ll keep checking in.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2009 Rambling On


Portland, Oregon

Mike and I have always planned to move out of Texas. We thought we would be doing it together, but in light of recent developments, we have agreed that now is definitely the time to go.

We’ve discussed this at length and considered several different places, but the conversation always comes back around to Portland, Oregon.

Although it rains a lot, the temperatures aren’t too severe, and the scenery is nice. They have good public transportation, and Portland is pedestrian and bicycle-friendly.

The public school system has got to be better than it is in Texas, although I realize that’s not saying much.

Portland is also full of lefties like us, and Oregon has the fourth largest percentage of people identifying themselves as “non-religious” in the United States. Mike was excited to learn that, with twenty-eight breweries within the city, Portland is home to more breweries than any other city in the country.

They do love their beer!

I’m not going to judge the economy one way or another because it’s broken everywhere, although it seems slightly less broken in Portland, from what I’ve been reading.

I’ve been looking into housing and it seems to be quite common for people in Portland to rent space in their homes. I’ve already found tons of ads for people renting as little as one bedroom, to those who have converted their basements into efficiency apartments.

I think this kind of arrangement might work for us because we’ll have to travel light and leave a lot behind (kitchen items, bedding, etc.) With this kind of arrangement, we could move into a fully equipped home, so we wouldn’t have to exhaust our resources right away, buying furniture and other essentials. I could get my son enrolled in school, and start looking for work right away without worrying about having a pot to cook in.

Plus, we could be around other people. I’ve found several ads placed by single moms who want to share their homes with another single parent. A few of them have boys around my son’s age. Since I’m not planning to leave until the end of February (I want to give my landlord sufficient notice) I have plenty of time to start corresponding with people and try to get a feel for things.

Of course, any sort of house share would be temporary, but I think it might be a good place to start.

I’ll start putting out feelers there, as well as updating my résumé. I suppose it can’t hurt to start sending it out now.

I’m definitely open to suggestions and advice; this is going to be quite an adventure and I’ll take all the help I can get.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2009 Rambling On


Things Can Only Get Better

About three hours ago, I received a call from my employer. They laid off three hundred employees today, and I was one of them. I will receive a layoff package that will pay the bills for about a month, but I’ve lost my health, dental and life insurance.

I’m not exactly sure how to proceed from here. I’m still a bit disoriented and even frightened, but this could actually be the window of opportunity I’ve been waiting for.

I’ve wanted to leave Texas for a long time, and the two major ties were my job and my son’s school. Now that we’re homeschooling and I’m unemployed, there’s really nothing keeping us here. I’m thinking about pulling up stakes and getting the hell out of here, once and for all.

I’m not sure where I want to go, but I want at least one state between us and Texas. I don’t even want to live on its border. Guess that rules out New Mexico.

I think the saddest part, and perhaps the biggest blow, is the fact that this is going to further delay Mike’s immigration. He and I agreed that this isn’t exactly the time to be forking over a large sum of money to an immigration attorney. Having a spousal visa won’t do much good if there’s no home for him to come to here. Besides, I need to be working in order to sponsor him.

Shit.

This came to mind a few minutes after I hung up the phone with Mike:

And do you feel scared — I do
But I won’t stop and falter
And if we threw it all away
Things can only get better
— Howard Jones

Lyrics

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2009 Rambling On


Signs of Life

A couple in the town where I was raised had five children, all of whom were at school with my sister and me at one time or another. I will call them the Bradleys. I remember them all fondly to this day.

Sometime around the mid 1980’s, the Bradleys’ oldest child was killed in a plane crash when a couple of pilots from the local Air Force base took one of the planes out for an unauthorized joyride. She was only in her early twenties, and left behind a toddler son whom the Bradleys subsequently adopted.

In 1992, their second oldest daughter disappeared. She was twenty three-years old. She was last seen leaving work, and her car was found abandoned three miles away. Foul play was suspected, and the girl was never heard from again. No body was ever recovered, and she is presumed dead.

On December 4th of this year, just a few short weeks ago, the Bradleys were celebrating their 46th wedding anniversary. The gathering took place on their houseboat where the family stayed overnight. They awoke the following morning to find their oldest son not on the boat.

After an extensive search of the grounds, and finding his car still there, they contacted authorities. Their 43 year old son’s body was found in the lake. As far as I know, the cause of death has not yet been released.

This couple has buried two children and lost three. I can’t even begin to imagine what that must be like, and what they must feel living in the house where their children were and still should be, looking around and not seeing the people who ought to be there.

As I look around my house, I see Nerf gun darts all over the floor. The television is blaring in the next room and no one is in there. My son has left it on again! He gets excited and runs out, leaving the door wide open, he drops dirty clothes in the bathroom floor, and he plays his music too loud.

These things usually irritate the heck out of me. Tonight, though, I’m thankful for them because they’re signs that my son is alive, well, and safe at home.

The next time I find a peanut butter smudge on the counter top or step in a sticky patch because a spill wasn’t cleaned properly, perhaps I won’t scold, but will gently remind my son to clean up after himself.

Dirty footprints, crumbs on the carpet, scattered toys and books, the sound of Nerf guns firing in the house. These are all signs of life, evidence that my son is still here; that he’s happy, healthy and enjoying life. Sure, these things can be irritating, but the agony of not having my precious child around to make messes or noise would be absolutely unbearable.

I am so very thankful that my son is only shouting distance away right now. I will hear him singing in the shower later. I may have to tell him for the umpteenth time to pick up his dirty clothes, but when I do, I will remember the parents who would give anything to find a mess on the bathroom floor tonight.

Tonight, I will also hear my son laugh, see him smile, enjoy his company, hug him and kiss him goodnight; and in the morning I will have breakfast with him. Because my son is here, and he is fine.

My thoughts are with the Bradleys tonight, and with all the parents crying themselves to sleep again — if they sleep at all.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On


Christmas Past

I’ve been looking through some old photos of my sister and me when we were kids. We always looked happiest in our pictures together. I guess even with all the turmoil we both endured as children, having each other made it bearable.

I absolutely adored my little sister. Oh, we had our problems, but I always loved her. Looking back on those old photos, it appears the feeling was mutual. We hugged a lot, danced together and looked generally happy and comfortable in each other’s company.

On Christmas mornings, Julie and I were awake by 4:00. We didn’t dare wake the parents, but we would sneak into the living room to see if Santa had been there.

The next two hours felt like an eternity, but we would wait together either in her bed or in mine, giggling in anticipation and trying to guess what was hidden beneath the pretty wrappings and bows.

Those days never ended as well as they started. But I’m not going into all that.

Julie died eight years ago this coming February. She was thirty years old. It’s hard to believe that the vibrant little girl in those old Christmas photos is gone. She’s gone and the world keeps turning, people keep going and life moves on.

Sometimes it just doesn’t seem real.

I don’t really know what I’m trying to say here. My thoughts and feelings are all over the place. I want to play this song in Julie’s memory tonight, in memory of the good times we shared and the bad times we helped each other endure. The song was special to Julie, and it speaks a lot to how I feel tonight, particularly the chorus:

And now I’m glad I didn’t know,
The way it all would end,
The way it all would go.
Our lives are better left to chance.
I could have missed the pain,
But I’d have had to miss the dance.

Maybe you’ll enjoy it too.

The Dance
Garth Brooks

Looking back on the memory of,
The dance we shared,
‘Neath the stars above.
For a moment all the world was right.
How could I have known,
That you’d ever say goodbye?

And now I’m glad I didn’t know,
The way it all would end,
The way it all would go.
Our lives are better left to chance.
I could have missed the pain,
But I’d have had to miss the dance.

Holding you, I held everything.
For a moment, wasn’t I a king?
But if I’d only known,
How the king would fall.
Hey, who’s to say, you know,
I might have changed it all.

And now I’m glad I didn’t know,
The way it all would end,
The way it all would go.
Our lives are better left to chance.
I could have missed the pain,
But I’d have had to miss the dance.

Yes my life, it’s better left to chance.
I could have missed the pain,
But I’d have had to miss the dance.


Always The Last To Know

It happens when you’re the black sheep, you know? People don’t tell you shit! They either think you’re not worth telling, or that you don’t care. Well, in a way I’m glad to be estranged. My family (parents mainly) are dysfunctional in too many ways to mention. Fortunately, my sister married a decent, stable and relatively normal man who, as far as I can tell, has done a fantastic job of raising their two kids since my sister died nearly eight years ago.

I spent a lot of time with their oldest when he was a baby and through his toddler years. We bonded then, and I can still feel it when I see him, however seldom that has been. I don’t know if he still feels it, but I do and, damn it, I want to know when he does something like join the Army fresh out of high school.

I found out about an hour ago that he had joined the Army right after graduation this past summer. He had orders to Afghanistan which were canceled. He’ll end up going, though. There’s really no question about that, is there? It’s only a matter of time.

This has been quite an emotional morning for me and my thoughts are all over the place. I’m tired of hiding out, unable to be in contact with people I love or speak openly about specific things that I do and places I go because of a fucking psychopath who is a complete waste of oxygen.

Sorry folks. It’s 9:30 a.m. and it’s already been quite a day.

Work. Yes, that annoying task that keeps the lights on and the heat running. I’d better refocus and fast. Maybe I can write more coherently about this some other time.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On


Melissa Etheridge: “Forget About My Taxes”

Melissa Etheridge is taking a powerful stand against California’s Proposition 8. She says that since she and her wife (roommate? partner?) are considered second class citizens, California can forget about their half million in state taxes.

Anyways, she and I are not allowed the same right under the state constitution as any other citizen. Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen. I mean that would just be wrong, to make someone pay taxes and not give them the same rights, sounds sort of like that taxation without representation thing from the history books.

Okay, cool I don’t mean to get too personal here but there is a lot I can do with the extra half a million dollars that I will be keeping instead of handing it over to the state of California. Oh, and I am sure Ellen will be a little excited to keep her bazillion bucks that she pays in taxes too. Wow, come to think of it, there are quite a few of us fortunate gay folks that will be having some extra cash this year. What recession? We’re gay!

The Daily Beast

I have to say that I admire Melissa’s stand, and I would love to see other celebrities and California residents get behind her on this.

[Edit to add: Thanks to John Bisceglia for providing this update in comments under this post.]

Melissa closes with this heart-warming statement:

Today the gay citizenry of this state will pick themselves up and dust themselves off and do what we have been doing for years. We will get back into it. We love this state, we love this country and we are not going to leave it. Even though we could be married in Mass. or Conn, Canada, Holland, Spain and a handful of other countries, this is our home. This is where we work and play and raise our families. We will not rest until we have the full rights of any other citizen. It is that simple, no fearful vote will ever stop us, that is not the American way.

I can’t think of a better way to follow that than to watch Melissa Etheridge perform California:

California
Melissa Etheridge

Raised up on mid-western dreams
Only a few shall get
What everyone shall need
I took my family’s burden
Strapped it to my chest
A few hundred bucks,
And a kiss for luck
And I pointed my dreams west

To California
Come rescue me
California
I am almost free

I kept on driving to the setting sun
Galaxies of angels
Welcome everyone
I took my heart out of its box
Attached it to my sleeve
Well, I will be here every night
Because that’s what I believe

In California
Come rescue me
California
I am almost free

I will find my love
I will know my peace
I will seek my truth
I am almost free
I am almost free…

I am almost free
I am almost free
I am almost free

In California
I am almost free
In California
I am almost free
(Rescue me)
California
I am almost free