Funny, God

7 02 2011

My mother is amazing.  Really.

She is incredibly smart, humble, gorgeous and totally naive about the world.  That makes her adorable.

The scene in my head that plays when I think of describing Mom is from Leverage Season 1 where Parker meets Nate’s ex-wife.  Parker says she’s adorable, pats her on the head, then sniffs her and somehow it’s not overly creepy.   And yes, Mom and I did discuss me writing this post so it’s not like I’m blabbing family secrets or anything.  We collaborated on this and decided you should be a part of our phone call.

I don’t know how Mom made it to me being 30 years old and not realizing that apocalyptic stories and prophecies scare me.  I shit my pants at severe thunderstorms and the apocalypse.  I’ve ALWAYS been this way.

It’s no surprise (to me, anyways) that I subscribe heavily to the Joss Whedon and Terry Goodkind school of thought when it comes to prophecy vs. free will.  I figure we’re all going to die anyways so I should CHOOSE to act in a humane and intelligent way because it helps me and those around me RIGHT NOW.  I don’t act right because of the fear of demons from hell shooting through volcano cracks to eat my brains.

My brain can’t comprehend or accept mass destruction so I live in a way I can wrap my thoughts around.  I also believe that so much emphasis is put on how the world ends that we’re busy bringing the very thing we fear to actuality.  If we hadn’t been working so hard trying to outwit it, it may not need to be outwitted.  And if it is true and inescapable then my part is to live my right here and now life decently.  If it all ends in chaos and despair, then the only reasonable thing to do is to live for joy right now.

Mom really leans towards the end of the world stuff and obviously the 2nd seal has broken and we’re all going to die in a blaze of glory or something here soon.  She also really likes to call and tell me about why and how this is coming about.  I want to know how prophets picked out accurate words when they described their vision because they don’t have a lot of room to write down details.  It’s like making life and death decisions based on a Twitter feed.  If a picture is worth 1,000 words and the prophet is so flooded with imagery that they clutch their heads and fall over, then it’s going to take a hell of a lot of paper and ink to write it out.

My eventual response, after fighting down the panic attack, is “Mom, the world’s been ending for a long damn time.”

I told her I’d write this thesis she’s assigned me when she reads The Sword of Truth novels.  If we both did our part, we’d come away knowing quite a bit about how the other one’s brain works.  At that point of the conversation, we just agreed to think about it and talk to God and see how it went.

We also talked about current events, the state of my brain and all the drama that makes up life.  IRL hasn’t been so steady lately and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and agonizing about how this good ship Dollins Family should make enough money to stay afloat for another year.  The whole his job/my job/my health/health insurance/education requirements dilemma.  When a day to day routine exists, there is comfort and safety.  When there’s no routine, there’s anxiety and insecurity.  I’m not so secure or carefree at the moment so a lot of our conversation was tinged with my IRL worries.

This is where God gets funny.

I laid down in bed that night and thought really hard “God, I just need a single direction.  Just a feeling that one way or the other is right.  I feel like I need a compass.”

Then I couldn’t sleep and decided to start on the next book in my reading list.

The Psychology of Joss Whedon: An Unauthorized Exploration of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly

Huh, this entire book is about the characters in the Whedonverse who are contemplating this very issue.

First, I laughed at myself for finding theological truths in science fiction and fantasy novels (but then again – have you ever actually READ the Bible as a work of literature?  It’s as good a sci-fi primer as anything.)  Then I laughed some more because just this year I’ve found and become a total Firefly geek.  Before, I didn’t want anything to do with it – I’d never seen the TV show or the movie, I didn’t have any conversations about it.  I really just thought it was a weird Star Trek vs Battlestar Galactica ripoff.  I had no idea.  Now it’s strangely relevant to life.

I read more today and I learned that I’m more like Mal than Buffy.  I tend towards antisocial behavior but its only after I’ve used up the more mainstream ideas.  If things had gone in a more mainstream manner in my life, I’d be a more mainstream type of person.  I’m not only shaped by events, but I live with a more individualized moral code because of those events.  If mainstream included me and people like me, then I wouldn’t have to be something other than normal and a more generalized world view would be relevant.

(Does anyone else think that the creators of “there’s only one way to God” people are just the theologians with a really good marketing campaign?  I mean, it would be a shitty campaign to say “our product rocks but so does everyone else’s product.” I mean, what would you advertise?  The fact that your god was cross-platform and multi-app compatible?  That’s just a quick way to become irrelevant.  It’s all about branding, people!)

Why don’t I just adapt?  Lots of people who go through weird shit adapt.  Why don’t you?  I ask myself that a lot and the only answer I can come up with is “it’s my personality type.”

I’m not that abnormal in reality.  Most of the people I know and willingly socialize with are unconventional.  They live in unconventional manners and with unconventional world views inside of cultural boundaries.  I speak for myself (which is why there’s a heavy I emphasis in this blog – I don’t like speaking for other people) when I say that I have a well formed, rationalized, and stable morality.  I would make a good space cowboy.  I would not make a good elementary school teacher.  I accept these things about myself and move on.

I think my message was pretty clear: learn about and accept yourself, then move forward.  The only wrong thing to do is nothing.

Besides, if the world ends tomorrow, I won’t have to worry about any of this.


the magic show

10 06 2010

Yesterday, as part of the summer reading program at the library they had a dude come in and do a magic show.  It was great and the kids really loved it.  I came away with different thoughts about each of my babies from watching them.  It’s a sense of pride to see them interact with the mass public and know that I had a lot of influence on how they interact.

Today is the 1 year point of our kids’ adoption.  For one year, they have been forever OURS.  I love that watching them interact and respond to things, I see Shaun and myself.  They’re listening and growing and they are part of us.  Our little family of 5 – we’re US.

LJ sat in between Chickpea and E.  He smiled when something was cool and he would lean forward and plug his ears with his fingers when the little kids would laugh and scream.  He doesn’t like large groups of people and I don’t blame him!  Afterward, he sat in a chair, expressionless until all the people cleared out.  When only a small group was left, he got up and started playing with the other kids.  He didn’t freak out or cry, he didn’t show that he was scared, he just pulled into himself until he was comfortable.  I was so proud!

Chickpea was totally immersed in the program.  She would sit up on her knees and stare at the magician without blinking.  She was looking to see if he was doing it “right.”  When he did something funny, she roared with laughter right along with the other kids.  At one point she raised her hand like she wanted to ask a question.  She noticed EVERYTHING and studied everyone and everything around her.  A couple of times, she turned around and searched the sea of grown ups for me and smiled when she found me.  God, I love that little girl!

After the performance she asked if she could go talk to the magician.  It worried me but I said she could and asked what she was going to say.  She said “he said his baby magic wand didn’t have any magic – but IT DOES.  He shouldn’t underestimate the baby just because it hasn’t finished magic wand school yet.”

I wanted to laugh so badly but she was so serious!  She went up and scolded the poor man while I’m having flash backs to my childhood where I was just like that.  It made me smile when I realized the magician was picking obvious pre-school students for his volunteers.  They’re less likely to be like my kid.

E is the world’s biggest pre-schooler.  He’s starting Kindergarten in the fall.  He’s 4 foot tall and almost 70 lbs.  He still moves like a very young kid – all awkward and sort of floppy.  He doesn’t have that grace that comes with growing older.  He has such a charm about him – he collects grandmothers like its a hobby.  He’s all big eyes and toothy smiles with that little kid innocence and it’s almost impossible to not squeeze him.

He’d rather charm the people around him than watch the show, but yesterday he got into it and laughed and pointed with the rest of the children.  After the show, he was jazzed up.  He didn’t calm down until right before bed time.  He didn’t care about telling Daddy every line of the show – Chickpea does that part with input from LJ – he cared that he figured out how to make his markers “splat” if he smacked them on the paper really hard.

Before dinner, he was laughing at something he thought was funny and just rolled in the floor and laughed.  None of us knew what he was laughing at but it’s impossible not to laugh at him.  Pretty soon we were all cracking up laughing at absolutely nothing.

E is the maker of chaos and disaster where order and peace were.  If everyone is quietly reading or playing a game, he’s the one throwing couch cushions with deadly accuracy.  If no one is playing with their food at the table he whispers to Chickpea “throw a chicken nugget at me, it’s funny.” He knows all his letters and numbers and can read and write, but he won’t do it if he knows he’s being watched.  How do I know?  Later, I find a picture of a fish with teeth drawn in his minimalist fashion and underneath it says “pirana etes met.”  I can hear him count to 50 through the wall but if I ask him to count to 10 for me, he leaves out half of the numbers.

I can’t be mad at him because it’s funny!  He’s going to be a hellion in school but I know he’s absorbing the information somehow.  He just doesn’t feel the need to show anyone.  He’d rather be funny.

Then I have to tell him that if he’s going to be BAD, he needs to do a better job at it!  There’s this pesky thing that’s called evidence that shows me the truth of who has been doing science experiments in the bathroom.  If he’s the only one soaking wet and smelling like Purell, then I know who did it.

I have to say that I’ve been wondering lately if it was a wise decision to adopt them with as sick as I’ve turned out to be.  I didn’t know it was going to be like this when we started but again, hindsight and good vision and all that.

I was afraid yesterday that I wouldn’t be able to get off the floor where we all were sitting to watch the magician.  I had taken my meds before we left the house but still, my body was screaming at me 10 minutes into it.  I was trying my best not to cry.  I was trying my hardest to enjoy the show and ignore the pain and the people bumping into me and squeezing in closer.  I was trying to breathe through the raising temperature of the room.

But I watch their faces – their body language – and I know that Shaun and I did this.  We made their lives fulfilling and opened doors and opportunities that weren’t possible.  This is worth it.  Even if they have a sick mom and a mom who can’t do certain things, they have a mom who is PROUD of them and who wants the best for them.  They’re strong enough to work through the rest.

make it work

17 03 2010

I’m toying with the idea of going back to work full time and letting Shaun do a stint as stay at home Dad.  Or at least hire a nanny or something.

When I say toying with, that’s what I really mean.  I know that with the heart problem and the migraines, that I need a very flexible environment and I also know that I can do the best for our home and children by being here.

I just REALLY miss working.  Not only is it 10,000 times easier than this SAHM deal, I miss figuring out problems.  I’m one of those people who has a knack for making abnormal things fix what needs to be done.  I like instruction manuals because if you read them with a critical eye you can find the ways to… adapt it to your purpose.  There, that’s a nice way to say “open door.”  If there isn’t a manual, that’s ok too.  I’ll figure out how to break it into its parts given enough time.

Tim Gunn would say I make it work.

I just hacked a mop.  I’ve been painting my Circa discs with nail polish.  Later today I’m going to turn a computer desk into a table for my sewing machine.

I even scheduled laundry days for everyone and color coded the hampers (they’re really rubber bins from the garden department at walmart) to match their water bottles and their toy boxes.  They also match their junior Circa journals.  (Which the therapists promptly copied and started using for other kids they treat.)  And yes, when the kids are on a scorecard/reward system – those will match their colors too.

I miss feeling like I’ve done something worthwhile at the end of the day.  Well, on some days.  Other days I came home feeling like I was the captain of the good ship WTF.

Ok – I miss being able to say “I can provide a service that you aren’t going to find anywhere else.”

xkcd today says that the average internet user SAYS they have an IQ of 147 and has a 9″ penis. I may not have a penis, but my IQ is a bit higher than that.

I used to say “if you can teach it, I can learn it.”  Now I’m more likely to say “if you can build it, I can break it.”  Then again, I also say “if you need a better mousetrap, you may as well just start naming the mice and congratulate them on their upward evolution.”  You can either make the problem work for you or you can buy a cat.  I’m a big fan of making problems turn into assets.  “That’s not a defect, it’s an unexpected application!”

Then I get a call from the teacher saying that my child is screaming that if the teacher doesn’t make it so that she isn’t in trouble, then she’s going to make life living hell for everyone.  I can hear her screaming in the background at the top of her lungs.  And it’s good I’m only 5 minutes away from the school because I know how to fix her, too.

This is the part where people laugh and say “a good smack would fix her!” But no, my daughter is not an Apple nor does she suffer from chip creep.

I know how to make it work because her IQ is a little lower than mine but still higher than 90% of the people in her school.  I don’t talk to her like a child and I don’t dumb it down.  If she can manipulate you or out-think you, you’ve already lost the game.  I’m probably the only parent you’ll ever see saying to a 6 year old kid “I don’t appreciate you trying to manipulate your teachers.  You can’t change the past but you can stop making it worse.  Your part on the team is to take care of yourself and keep your brain turned on.  If it’s not smart – don’t do it.”

She has the mental capacity of a child twice her age.  I get pissed off when someone talks down to me and I don’t expect her reaction to be any different.  (And yes, we’re both Capricorns.)  It’s best that she learns objective and logical reasoning skills now.

OK – off the tangent.

Another problem I foresee with going back to work is that I don’t have a degree.  I have several certificates from several colleges.  I have some co-op experience at a different school.  I have a year of actual college down but I got REALLY bored with it.

I was one of those kids who was hired directly out of high school into a dotcom because of my “special” skills.  Financially, it was the right decision because I was smart enough to put a little in real estate and made some well-timed stock sales.  It’s enough to make it where we’re able to live off of one income as long as we’re frugal. It just meant that I turned down a scholarship (and it’s accompanying student loans) to take the road less traveled.

Not having a degree wasn’t a problem with my resume as long as I stayed with that company because I could bank on my reputation alone.  Now that I’m looking at jobs equivalent to what I did for that company, they require a BS or a BA.  Only one listing I saw said “or equivalent work experience.”  Now, if the company does their own hiring, it won’t matter but if they’re using a recruiter or head-hunter I’d be hard pressed to get an interview.

THEN, once I did do the initial interview, I’d probably decide that the company didn’t fit my “niche.”  I’ve tested the waters and applied to a few places since quitting and here’s how one of my interviews went:

Nice Lady: I need to be sure you know <name of certain retail book keeping software.>

Me:  I haven’t used that particular one before, but I do have extensive experience designing and reporting with many of the more complicated financial systems.  <I named a few that I’m sure she’d never heard of.>

NL:  But you’ll need to know how to enter the data from our invoices into this program.  You really need to be experienced.

Me:  By the time we speak again, I’ll have learned enough about it to make it do exactly what you need it to do.  I just have a knack for software.

NL:  I see that on your resume you have experience coordinating teams and schedules.

Me: I do.  I’ve coordinated a team of 34 people and designed reporting systems on several hundred team members that were hand delivered to all levels of management.

NL:  You will, if you get this job, need to greet people as they walk in and also handle the schedules for myself and my husband.  You’ll also keep the files orderly and handle invoices and incoming phone calls.

Me:  Ma’am, your ad said that you were looking for a coordinator and manager with experience in financial systems.  Isn’t that correct?

NL:  Yes…

Me:  It sounds to me that you’re looking for a receptionist.  If you need someone to create reporting systems or work out a specific problem then I’m your girl.  However, if you’re looking for someone to smile at customers and do basic data entry, you probably need a different applicant.

NL:  Um… ok… thank you for your honesty.

Me:  You’re welcome.

This was all over the phone, thank goodness.  I doubt she could have looked at me and been as polite.  All my tattoos cover up and I clean up very well, but I’ve been told that I’m rather intimidating when I’m talking.

I’m the secret agent girl. 😉  I walk in to a meeting, looking young and well-dressed, carrying my signature bomber jacket Circa and a few documents disguised as simple files.  I get mentally written off as a girl who got hired to do grunt work and be an art piece for the male and lesbian contingent.  Then I wait for a lull in the conversation of “power players” and I say something outrageous.  All eyes turn to me and I open the file to my supporting document and prove to everyone that I’m right and I am going to get what I want.

Smart managers know how to use that to their benefit.

Not so smart managers are either enlightened or pissed off.

Neither matters.

Because THAT is what makes work worth going to for me.  I’m not looking for money or acclaim or to climb the corporate ladder.  I could give less than a damn about a vertical promotion.  I love solving problems in interesting ways, making them work, and convincing people to support the solution.  My thrill is in creating harmony where there was none and in turning data into a language people can understand.

train of thought

21 12 2009

Looking back over my blog, I’m realizing how helpful it is to have the ability to tell when certain things happened.  I’m having to document my medical history again (this time for a rheumatologist) and I can actually give dates.  Otherwise it would look like “a little while back I hurt very badly and it lasted for a… while.”

Reading back, I get reminded about stuff like “wow, that was THIS year?  I don’t remember that at all!”

One thing that has really stood out is that I’ve forgotten my personal policy of looking at the blessings instead of the wishes.  Wishing doesn’t make anything worse but my own mindset – I’m a happier person when I focus on the end result and the blessings that come from getting there.  I don’t do so well with goals.  It seems like setting a goal is the quickest way for me to either instantly succeed (so I don’t have to pay attention to it anymore) or to rebel against doing it (so I don’t have to pay attention to it.  )

I know my personality and I’ve always been this way.  I’m better at doing than trying.  (Thank you, Yoda.)  I have yet to find a motivational idea that works more than once for me.  A paper chain where I tore off a link every 1k words worked for NaNo in 2006.  It never worked again.  Writing prompts work for about a week – I can’t make it through an entire month of prompts.  Book lists work until I encounter a book that I’d have to consume massive amounts of alcohol to read.  365 days to a goal books never work to make me read the Bible in a year, clean up clutter, stay inspired, make art, etc… By January 5th, I’ve read the whole book and thought “what if I think July 12th is a good idea but March 2nd is crap.”

So, I’m blessed to know my own personality.  I’m blessed to have a blog that lasted for more than a few weeks.  I’m blessed to have access to medical care and I’m blessed to be able to bitch about it when I get mad and then am able to find DIFFERENT medical care if I need to.

Today I have a lot of sewing to do, so I’m thinking it’s going to be a watch TV on that computer monitor while watching the internet on this monitor and leaning back with my sewing stuff.  I have a ton of pictures to download and edit but I can do that later.  Today, I need to accomplish something.  Trying doesn’t make my brain happy – accomplishment does.

telling abuse related behaviors from age-related behaviors

11 12 2009

One of the hardest things for me to do is to tell the difference between behaviors that the children have because of the abuse they went through and just their natural personality and age based behaviors.  There are some things that are pretty obvious.

Climbing the counters to steal candy off the top of the fridge – age related behavior.

Grabbing a kid’s crotch at school – abuse related behavior.

Breaking toys when mad – age related.

Smearing poo on the walls – abuse related.

But what about the other stuff?  Things like acting out for attention, being a know-it-all, and competing with siblings and other family members for attention.  It could be related to an attachment or anxiety disorder or it could just be that’s how they are naturally.  (I know plenty of grown-ups who are know-it-all attention whores and I’m sure they were born that way.)

It’s hardest with Alyssa because she is so much like me but also so much unlike me.  She considers herself a small grown-up who has what it takes to take care of other people and who believes that grown-ups need to earn her respect.  That’s all just like I was as a child.

Then she also refuses to do her work at school or learn things just for the fun of it.  She’d rather make friends and play at school than do her part.  That is so unlike me – I always wanted to please adults and impress them with my mad knowledge skills.  I took control by exceeding all expectations.  She takes control by manipulation then acts out when people don’t comply.  I’m a perfectionist and hardest on myself.  She seems to believe that people should just give her stuff because she’s adorable and smart.  If I wanted something, I would figure out how to get it.  If she wants something, she just takes it.

So how do you tell?

reoccuring nightmares

21 10 2009

Every 45 mins or so last night I was woken by nightmares.  Sooooper scary fucked up ones!

I was dreaming that I had been hired back on at the company I used to work for.  (I haven’t worked there in almost 2 years.)  I would get hired and get to my cubicle that was way too small to hold dual monitors – much less a keyboard – so I would have to balance things on boxes and put the keyboard in my lap.  I was forced to sleep there as well and my spot on the floor was between two guys I know for a fact are straight.  (My personal practice is to only sleep with girls or gay guys if beds must be shared.)

After I realized how badly it sucked (and it sucked differently every time) I would go to find the boss-person.  The boss-person ALWAYS hated me and tried to fire me but for some reason they couldn’t.  Me, having the winning personality I do, would then troll the shit out of the boss-person.  When I finally pissed them off I’d quit.

How long is it going to take me to stop dreaming about that place?  On the most part it didn’t suck but I’ve only had 2 or 3 managers that I actually got along with.  I KNOW what my problem is personality-wise and I’m only half willing to work on it.  (If they aren’t going to work on their personality flaws, then why should I?)  Almost 90% of my peers I loved working with – it seems I only have problems with authority.

Anyways… it was better than the night before where I dreamed I was making soap out of my colored pee.  It was striped all different colors.  In my dream I knew it was fucked up to make pee-soap but I couldn’t stop.   I’m OCD in my dreams too.

Manipulation tactics

4 08 2009

Shaun and I were talking about manipulation last night.  It’s interesting how we all do it unconsciously and even children learn it very early – like in the first few months of life.  We have three children, three large dogs, two cats, and two diamond doves and all but one regularly manipulate us to get what they want. All but one step up their tactics or try aggression when manipulation doesn’t work.

That makes the one abnormal.  It’s really strange to see such blatant honesty lived out and she really doesn’t realize she’s atypical.  The one is our Great Dane, Nola.  All the other babies, human and fur, have manipulation tactics that range from playing coy, buttering you up, trying to get on your good side, using the sandwich effect*, and all the way up to blatant con-man tricks.  Ernie uses the whore tactic – make you think you’re the most wonderful thing in the world until he’s successfully stolen what’s on your plate and sampled your drink too.  Abbie stares and begs.  Cali pretends she’s dumb (she’s got the dumb act down PERFECT) then when you least expect it, she goes for what she wants.  Spooks has us all convinced that HE’S the master of the house and we should bring him gifts and attention.  Even the birds manipulate you – they repeat your coos and fluff up and act happy.  They know happy people give good things.  However, forget to pay attention or give them a millet spray, your ass is getting pelted with birdseed until you do it.

Nola just really is that happy.  I’ve read that about other Great Dane’s too – that they’re abnormally goofy and happy.  They want their people to be goofy and happy too… apparently so they can pretend to be lapdogs  and get hugs.  Nola LOVES hugs more than anything else.  She’ll come up, stand up on her hind legs so she can wrap her front legs around you and lay her head on your chest.  When she sees me or Shaun be grumpy, she looks so confused.  Like “what the hell?  You must need a hug.”

I’ve met other dogs who were just as happy but they were “touched in the head” as my Granny would say.  They aren’t all that bright and that’s ok too – there are plenty of dog lovers who love those big lugs.  We like dogs who solve problems and think for themselves.  This is a mixed blessing though – we end up with dogs who think up ways to get out of the fenced in yard.

But normally thinking dogs are more serious and sober.  Nola is neither serious nor sober.  Last night, Abbie was laying at my feet while I crocheted.  Actually, she layed UNDER my feet so that the soles of my feet were resting on her back.  Nola wanted me to play and I kept telling her no – the kids were in bed and to go lay down.  She laid down and then army crawled over right next to Abbie and set her head right ON TOP of my feet.  She rolled her eyes  up at me like “haha.”  Then she pounced me and wiggled her big but into my lap and tried to curl up.  Shaun tried to explain relative size to her but she just grinned at him.

* The sandwich effect is a business tactic.  If you have bad news or a message that will be responded to negatively, find two positive messages to sandwich the bad message in.