Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Upcoming Nuptials

So I'm getting married on Saturday.

It has come up so quickly. There is so much to do (add moving and going on a weeklong jaunt to NYC for the latest chapter in Belle's acting/modeling career), and I'm kind of overwhelmed.

Excited, though. Very excited. Henry is truly one of the good ones, and this new chapter of life looks to be very full :-)

Okay, was just seeing if I could blog from my iPad while drinking coffee. Turns out I can :-)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Is Facebook Reverting Adults Back to Eighth Graders?

I am a Facebook addict.  I really am.  I post updates about the weather, random quotes (primarily from famous drunk Irishmen), and pictures that nobody cares about but me.

I mean, does anyone really want to see either Belle's modeling pics or her "Beaver Face"?

She does clean up well, no ;-)?

But seriously, one of my FB friends posted last night: "Age does not define whether you are an adult.  Your actions do.  Some 'adults' are so fuc*ing childish", and I had an epiphany.

Facebook has made it so much easier for adults to act like children ... for teens to bully each other ... for cruelty to perpetuate.

How often do you hear, "Well, so-and-so said this about Joe Blow on FB.  The post isn't there?  Well, it was.  They must have taken it down so there's no proof."

No proof?  What is this, a court of freaking law?  It's a social networking site!

So I commented to my FB friend, "Amen!!!! And FB has really exacerbated this...I am soooooo amused by adults 'punishing' each other by unfriending.  It's like being back in eighth grade."

Her response?  "Or people who can't talk like grown ups, instead choosing to rant about someone on that person's FB and then delete and/or block them.  THEN do this so  many freaking times they have to keep making new FB pages with different versions of their name because they've pissed off too many people and can't keep track of who they've deleted, blocked, or ranted to.  Yup.  Very adult."

All of which got me thinking how lucky I am to have avoided that degree of drama.

My own personal experience with this is tied to one person (well, two, I guess...three if you want to count my fiance, who probably set the wheel in motion), and while part of me would love to rant about his transgressions, both emotionally abusive through Facebook and physically abusive in reality, I try to be better.

Suffice it to say that when someone should be on the post office wall for deadbeats, somehow has the money to travel all over the place virtually every weekend (and document said travels on Facebook, which is one of the rudest and nastiest in-your-faces I can imagine) and buy sweet new cars (with pictures proudly posted when, as a result of said deadbeatery, his child is riding in a car with 250,000 miles on it), and post on FB pictures of a child he chooses not to see for month-long stretches at a time as though he were there and involved instead of yoinking pics from someone else's wall, it is pretty deplorable.

And yet nobody said ANYTHING about those transgressions.  He totally got away with being an irresponsible, self-centered douchebag.  Were these things frustrating?  Beyond belief.  But when you're an adult, you take the high road.  (And lest you think, as you're reading this, "Well, she's kind of doing what she claims to hate", please know that I am leaving out a million things and keeping this very general).

My fiance Henry, who considers the little girl in question the absolute light of his life, snapped over the combination of his princess' distress that "Daddy loves his girlfriend more than he loves me" because he chose to spend Father's Day with his girlfriend over his daughter and the far more disturbing FB post that he and his girlfriend went out for "Father's Day brunch" together (a fact that we made sure to keep from a little girl who would have been either more devastated).

Anyway, Henry made a comment on a Facebook post that was probably not particularly mature but was 100% accurate.  And was promptly unfriended, blocked, and otherwise wiped from the warped existence of an utterly insane world.

Which I can understand.  I mean, who wants to be called out publicly on his bad behavior?  It doesn't matter if it's true (in fact, it might even be worse, because ... well, I do wonder how some people sleep at night), it's probably humiliating to have the world potentially know just how badly you suck, particularly when you try to put up this professional facade which is a total joke to anyone that knows you.

Oops, I'm starting to cross that maturity line there ...  Focus!

What I do not understand, however, is why I was likewise unfriended, blocked, and otherwise wiped from the warped existence of an utterly insane world.  I did not make the comment.  I have always been there for this SOB, no matter what he's done to me, and I've never been snarky about the amount of money he spends on himself and his girlfriend even when I've had to roll quarters (and occasionally dimes and nickels) to have enough gas money to get to work because he is not paying child support.  

Okay, that was a little snarky.  God's honest truth, but still snarky.

The thing is, it's no great loss.  Frankly, the best thing he could do for his child is drop dead; he has lied to her and hurt her enough for a hundred lifetimes.  She is completely done with him, and forcing her to call him on the phone each night is an exercise in torture for both of us.  But, as they say, there is no luck like an alcoholic's luck, and so the nightmare will probably be continuing for the forseeable future.

It's the way it was done--"Henry pissed me off, so I'm going to delete YOU from Facebook"--that really hurt my feelings and, yeah, made me pretty angry.  Of course, it epitomizes this twit's M.O. and approach to life, so I guess there's that ...

One other thing that totally cracked me up is that I guess I'm in good company.

A friend who has managed to avoid his magic delete button told me the funniest story (yes, I'm aware of what I'm doing here ... consider it driving the point home).  He posted a quote from John Nash talking about how mathematicians are prone to "maniacal characteristics, delirium, and symptoms of schizophrenia".  One of his FB friends put "So are drunks!!!!!!"  The comment was removed...and so was the friend.

Some people need to play God and control their warped realities, I guess ...

Which brings this back to Facebook.  Never before have we had that degree of power over who our "friends" are, what we choose to publicize, and how we can show up on other people's pages via comments or pictures.  It's kind of scary ...

And it would be nice if people could act like adults on Facebook.  Of course, it would be nice if people could act like adults in reality, but this is a platform that unfortunately reinforces the opposite.

I love Facebook because I enjoy seeing what my friends are doing.  I like making plans through an outlet that ensures nobody is excluded because it's ...  you know, public.  I love getting to see pictures of my nephews and jokes and interesting articles.  And I adore hearing the latest quotes from my nephew in Baltimore, who is possibly the only person in the world more naturally funny than Belle.  

I try to avoid drama.  I see an awful lot of it, though, in my news feed, and it makes me feel uneasy.

In my world, I try to be nice to everybody.  I try to believe the best in others, and I constantly tell myself that their intentions are just being misconstrued.  I don't expect everyone to feel this way or try to live this way or whatever, but it's a nice aspiration.

And I truly believe that Facebook makes this more difficult.  The immediacy with which you can vent and complain and act without thinking through the ramifications is scary.  The ability for teenagers (and yeah, probably adults) to go on someone else's account and wreak havoc is even more frightening.

So what do you think?  Is Facebook (and, to a slightly lesser extent--unless you're a celebrity--Twitter) lowering the maturity level of mankind?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Jeopardy" and my Mother

When my ex-husband's insane abusive alcoholic tendencies destroyed any semblance of financial security, my daughters and I were forced to move in with my mother. She was generous enough to take us in and give 100% of her time and energy to making our transition back to life as easy as possible for all of us.

She will never know how much I appreciate it, how grateful I am, and how much I love and admire her.

As our time with her is quickly drawing to a close and we're getting ready to move to our new home (and, you know, that getting married thing), I find that I'm cherishing every second with my mother.

We watch "Jeopardy" together every night. I find myself tearing up at the very theme music; the slightest glimpse of Alex Trebek chokes me up.

We've added "Wheel of Fortune" to our evening TV date tonight.

I'm writing this so I don't cry...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Been Here Before ...

Do you ever feel like your life is one big, bizarre cycle of repetition?

Sometimes I feel like Sisyphus with his stone, rolling it over and over again up the hill only to have it make its way to the bottom, where I have to start over again.  The same stone.  The circle of life.  As Stephen King said, SSDD.

I'm having pancreatic/liver drama again.  Blah.  The details haven't changed much from this post written three years ago.  It's pretty sad.

I was in so much pain I spent most of last Wednesday in the hospital.  I am going to the gastroenterologist today.  Again.

I guess you can tell how tired I am of all this by the brevity of this post ... my blog posts are usually overly wordy, if anything.

It's just funny, there are some other things that are going on that remind me of things that have happened before.  Over and over and over again.

This is chicken broth.  Fat-free chicken broth, in fact.  It's delicious...well, not so much.

I'll just keep pushing my rock.  What else are you going to do?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Can You Ever Really Know Another Person ... And Does it Even Matter?

I've come to the conclusion that, when I'm having trouble sleeping, it's far more beneficial to find something to occupy my time and attention than complaining about not being able to sleep (I do that, too, sometimes, although I've definitely gotten better).

Anyway, last night was a "Facebook-surfing-to-occupy-my-time" way to deal with insomnia (rather than reading or watching TV or whatever), and I found myself intrigued by the following picture I found on my friend Jen's Facebook wall.

I put it on my own wall immediately because I was curious to see how many people knew these things about me, then I went back and filled it out for Jen (I did pretty well, by the way ... only missed numbers 5, 9, and 11).  Nobody has really bitten in terms of filling it out for me, other than a friend opining that "You either possess or partake in all of the above.  It is official, I am omniscient", and that's all well and good.

Honestly, it's not like knowing my favorite candy or my shoe size really means that a person truly knows me. In fact, I would argue that the people most likely to answer these questions correctly in terms of me probably know me less well.

There are people that might not know that Barq's root beer is my favorite soda and I wear a size 8.5 shoe but are aware of the basic gist of my nightmares, who know what my dreams and hopes and flaws and passions are.  I suspect that those people know me a bit better than someone able to look at a couple of pictures and deduce that my natural hair color is brown.

I know, by the way, that this little Facebook game was meant to be silly fun.  I even took it that way (I identified Jen's favorite soda as "Coke (especially with rum ;-))", which was her right answer).

It's just that it got me thinking about the deeper question of whether or not you can ever truly know someone else, and even more so whether or not that even matters.

One of my students asked me recently (shortly after we finished reading John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, in fact) a question that totally blew my mind: "If everybody changes, can you ever truly know another person?"

This young man, a freshman in high school, stymied me with this concept, something I think he was pretty proud of (I am rarely at a loss for words).  He was also fairly incessant about asking me for my insight, refusing to take "I really don't know how to answer that" as an excuse (I cannot imagine where he learned that from ;-)).

Anyway, I finally told him that there's an old saying about how there are three different kinds of friends--friends for a reason, friends for a season, and friends for life.  I explained that this pretty much went along with his question because, if everybody changes, then you either stop being friends with someone as and/or after they change, that you change yourself as a result of his/her change, or that you are able to roll with the punches and accept that both you and other people are going to change but that, if the person is worth it to you, it won't matter in the great scheme of things.  Basically, you can know another person as much as you need to depending on the situation and taking into account the necessary depth (a family member or close friend would obviously be more complex than an acquaintance, for example).

If you're thinking to yourself, "Geez, Katie, that sounds like a deflection", you're right.  It was.  My student didn't realize it--he was just excited as hell that he'd made me think in a way that was challenging for me--but it was.

So, why deflect?

The truth is, I do not believe you can ever truly know another human being, no matter how much you might think you do or want to.

I thought I knew many and varied friends, family members, and colleagues who suddenly and with neither warning nor reason given essentially disappeared emotionally.

I thought I knew my ex-husband, but the person he hid behind a facade of good humor and gentleness was always buried there; I am actually grateful that the wine brought the monster within forward, because I've come to know that it was always there, that it's there still.

I thought I knew my onetime best friend Andy, and his response to arguably the worst thing that ever happened to me just about destroyed my self-esteem, self-love, and feelings of self-worth.

But I guess the bottom line--and the piece that is very uncomfortable to think about--is that if it is true to consider these things about other people, than you really need to look in the mirror and consider whether they're true about you as well.

And I think they are.  I think they have to be.  Nobody is without sin, error, or general screw-ups.  To quote REM, "Everybody hurts sometimes", but to take it a step further, everybody hurts others sometimes.  It is sometimes completely unintentional and almost always done without malicious intent, but that doesn't change the reality that the biggest danger to the psyche of a human being is another human being, frequently one that you care deeply about.

But that's kind of a negative thing to say to a kid, so I kept my mouth shut and let the old proverb rule the day.

Seeing that pic on Facebook reminded me of my thinking on the subject, though, so I figured I'd share and, as always, ask for your input.

To end on a positive note, I do want to emphasize that I believe most people are primarily good.  The pain they give others is largely accidental, or else tied to a stupid error of judgment.  Speaking for myself, I just wish the love I feel in my heart for so many people could keep any unintentional, stupid spikes of pain from reaching out and hurting others.

I would do anything in the world to help another person, and anybody that knows me is aware that this is true.  But is that dedication to helping others the bottom line of my existence?  Does it wipe out my numerous faults?

So my own bottom line is this: no, you cannot ever really know another person, and no, it really doesn't matter because all human hearts have dark shadows within them, crevices that can hopefully be overcome by love and caring.

What scares me the most, though, is that it is easy enough to look at others, to pass judgment, to know them as well as you can and love and appreciate them for that, hopefully being strong enough to overlook the darkness that lurks under the surface if you do not want to write a person off entirely.

It's turning that magnifying glass inward that is frightening ... but perhaps even more necessary.  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

On (Gulp) Guns

I have played around with the idea of writing about guns on here since the Newtown shooting, but I was hesitant.  I mean, who wants to offend what is likely a fairly high percentage of people that read your blog?

But then I got thinking about the purpose of my blog, at least in my mind.  I WANT people to have conversations.  It is my deepest desire that people will engage in meaningful discourse, and that's not going to happen if I'm not willing to get into tough subjects.

So here goes ...

I hate guns.  In fact, I hate violence of any sort.  In my dream world, nobody would ever feel the need to resort to hurting other people physically.

That being said, I recognize the need for guns to exist.  Furthermore, I agree with the right of American citizens to bear arms.  If you feel the need to own a gun to make yourself feel safer, you should have that right.

The problem that I have with the status quo is twofold ...

1.  Based on the increasingly common instances of gun violence being perpetrated by mentally unstable individuals who should never have had access to firearms, guns are clearly waaaaaaaaaaay too easy to get your hands on.

I don't understand why people that want to own guns for legitimate purposes (hunting, home protection, target shooting, whatever) would have a problem with there being oversight in terms of gun ownership.  The second amendment gives you the right to bear arms, and it doesn't put a cap on how many arms you can choose to bear, but is there any sort of compelling reason that there shouldn't be a record of this?

I see it more as public safety ... as a parent, a teacher, and a human being grateful for every breath of air I take in, I see no feasible argument against keeping track of where guns are and who owns them.  You have the right to bear arms, I have the right to live in a world where a maniac isn't going to start shooting up a movie theater with guns he should never have had access to.

2.  At Sandy Hook Elementary School, 20 children were slaughtered in a matter of a couple of minutes.  In fact, that's more measurable in terms of seconds.  When we're talking about firearms that have the capacity to cause that degree of destruction in such a short period of time ...

Well, we shouldn't be talking about it.  I do not see any compelling reason for weapons capable of destroying large numbers in seconds to be available to the general public.  I have yet to hear anybody give a compelling reason for why these types of guns should be accessible to people without good cause.

And, I'm sorry, but "Because it's my right as an American citizen" is not, in my humble opinion, good cause.

Someone explained to me that the second amendment was originally meant as a checks and balances kind of thing against the government.  In other words, the American government could not go running completely amok because the American people had the right to be prepared to do the whole militia thing under the provisions of the second amendment, and the government was completely aware of this.

With all due respect to the U.S. Constitution, it was a document drafted in the 1780s.  Many parts of the original piece would be downright offensive now; amending the Constitution is neither new nor out of line, so why people froth at the mouth when it comes to the second amendment in particular is just beyond me.

I should mention that I've been avoiding news coverage on what's going on with Congress bickering over semantics and President Obama talking about executive orders and so on because it is such a hot button issue, and one I'm not sure that anyone is fully taking the time to think through, instead doing the whole "knee jerk" thing, which scares me perhaps even more.

What are your thoughts?  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Kids and the News: Good Idea, In Moderation, or No Freaking Way?

My eight-year-old daughter might just have more of a grasp on what's going on in the world than many adults do.  Or, at least, she's exposed to what's going on more than most.

I am not a morning person.  My weekday morning routine consists of getting jumped on by a black lab and a golden retriever (in that order) at 5:30 or so, letting them out, staggering to the Keurig to turn it on, feeding said dogs, operating the Keurig (usually ... sometimes I forget to put the K-cup in), letting the dogs in, putting Splenda and skim milk into my coffee, letting the dogs out again, urinating, letting the dogs in once again, staggering into the living room and turning on the news, and calling Belle down at six.

She and I snuggle and watch the news for 15-20 minutes.  We're both in half-asleep world.  I never dreamed she actually paid attention.

Belle has been watching the evening news with us since about halfway through last year as well.  She likes to know what's going on.  I'm good with that.

Or I thought I was.

The disaster at Sandy Hook gave me my first pause.  Was this something she really needed to see?  (I should note that my doubts were assuaged when they interviewed a child development expert who broke down the ages of how much to tell kids about ... Belle fell in the "if the parents think they can handle it, let them watch the news", which she totally agreed with)

So the idea has been on my mind a lot lately.

Something odd happened the other night, though ...

Even though I have the news on in the morning and at night, I get the lion's share of my information from reading news sites.  My auditory processing makes "watching" the news a less-than-ideal medium for me, so much of my phone usage is dedicated to reading the news.

Belle's latest obsession is my iPhone, and she's gotten to be downright nosy.  I was reading about the preliminary trial of the Aurora movie theater killer, and all of a sudden, I heard Belle say over my shoulder, "What's a trial?"

Because I am sometimes inarticulate, I drew her a picture.
I explained the whole concept of a trial to her, and then I wondered why I did that.  I wondered if I should have done that.  I wondered if there was any reason for this child to be aware what terrible things transpire in the world.

And I wondered, most of all, if she understood what I was talking about ... and if it will transfer into her increasingly complex thought process.

Oh, and, of course, should children be watching the news?  Is it worth the cans of worms it opens up?  Where is the line between "protection" and "fantasy world"?

I am proud of the connections Belle makes and her really very impressive knowledge, but I am very aware that the news is never a 100% happy experience.

What are your thoughts on this?

Sunday Stealing: 40 of the Most Random Questions Meme (Part II)

Even if you're not a fan of memes, I've found that Sunday Stealing is a different kind of thing.  It's a community.  It's a world unto itself.  It's a ton of fun :-)

21) What’s something you’ve always wanted?
A son, just because I have the perfect name picked out.  Also, my daughters have given me unspeakable joy and happiness ... you always hear, however, about how "sons are easier".  That would be pretty sweet.  I'm too old, though, to start over again on the kid train.

22) Do you have hairy legs?
Not really.

When I had my foot surgery in November, though, I couldn't take a shower (or even a bath) for two weeks.  I was an obsessive sponge bather, of course, but since I could not stand on one foot without causing a fair amount of discomfort (hey, I'll just be honest and call it freaking agony), shaving my legs became a minimal priority.

And then I had an incident involving my foot and a dog long deprived of her usual game of fetch ...  I ended up at the doctor scared that the incision had opened or the bones were broken or whatever.  Everything was fine (minus a couple days of additional agony), but I was mortified to see that I looked like a male when my pants were rolled up to take the x-ray.

Now, I'm not sure why this bothered me so much (I'm not exactly appearance-obsessed on general principles), but it just really freaked me out.

So I've been better about shaving regularly and thoroughly since then.

23) What does “Semper Fidelis” stand for?
Always faithful.  It's good to know that studying Latin in high school instead of a more ... well, useful ... language wasn't a total waste of time.

24) Would you rather swim in the ocean or a lake?
Ocean.  There is no comparison.

Generally speaking, swimming in a lake is like being in a bathtub (I know there are some exceptions).  With the ocean, you never know what you're going to get.

When I'm in the ocean, I am reminded about the power of nature.  And of higher powers.  And of my small yet legitimate place in the world.

Lakes are just boring as heck after that.

25) Do you wear a lot of black?
Actually, I do.

One of my colleagues asked me recently if I was going to a funeral.  It was kind of awkward.

The truth is, I am the biggest klutz in North America.  I can't eat without spilling food on myself.  I almost always end up wearing splashes of morning coffee.  I slip and fall in mud puddles.  I wipe off dry erase marker smudges without thinking and smear my pants.  I play fetch with two insanely hyperactive dogs.  My eight-year-old daughter is the second-biggest klutz in North America and, whenever she has an incident, she wants to be held; transfer of stain potential is a daily issue.

So, yeah, I find that wearing black helps.

26) Describe your hair:
My hair sucks.

27) Do you have Entomophobia? 
Nah, bugs don't bother me.

I am, however, a card-carrying ophidiophobe.  **shudder**

28) Are you an adult?
Well, technically, I suppose.

29) Do you own or rent?
This is far too complex to explain on a meme.  "Living in the attic of your mother's barn" is not an option, nor do I feel it appropriate to get into the reasons for this situation.

Henry owns his own house, so I suppose I'll be moving in that status direction sooner or later.

My life is very hard to explain at times ;-p

30) Do you have a tan?
No.  No, I do not.

I don't tan.  I can't tan.  Even the fake stuff doesn't work well on me.

My skin is too damn Irish white to be anything more than ... well, Irish white.  I mean, I don't even burn ...

The irony is that both of my daughters are these tanning machines ... even wearing sunblock, they develop these perfect tans.

31) Are you addicted to TV? 

I go in phases with TV.  There are a few shows that I like a lot and will watch ("Elementary" is one that's standing out at the moment), but I'm not obsessive about it.

I should mention that, when I'm having a lot of trouble with insomnia, I watch a lot more TV.  I'm having a lot of trouble with insomnia these days, hence I've been watching a lot of TV.

32) Do you enjoy spending time with your In-laws? 
I don't have any in-laws.  I like Henry's parents, though, so hopefully that won't change once the big event transpires.

I have already endured the worst mother-in-law possible, a truly evil woman who was the root cause of terrible and unspeakable pain for my ex.  She was the only 100% bona fide human monster I have ever met in my life, and she committed crimes that were worthy of torture.  Extreme torture.

I am one of the most bleeding-heart people on the planet, but if she still lived and she was burning on the street, I wouldn't pee on her to put the fire out.

33) Are you a sugar freak?

When I get junk food cravings, it's more about carbs and salt.  Cheetos are my freak food.

If there are brownies or cookies or whatever sitting around, I'll eat them, but I don't seek them out in general.

Give me a cheeseburger any day ;-)

34) What happened to Larry King?
Honestly, I don't care.

35) What sign are you? 
Need you ask?  I'm a Scorpio!

36) What do you wish on your birthday?
I hate my birthday.  I wish it wouldn't happen.

37) Who did you copy this from? 
 Sunday Stealing :-)

38) Do you eat breakfast?
Nah.  I've never been a big breakfast person, but when I was pregnant with Addie, I got violently sick every single morning for nine months.  VIOLENTLY sick.  It's been eighteen years, and I still can't eat in the morning.  It's weird.

I do drink a veritable ton of coffee, though ;-)

39) What would you name the royal baby?
Baby.  I think that might be entertaining ...

40) Do you buy a newspaper?
Nah, I read the news online.

I do buy trash celeb magazines, though.  It's a guilty pleasure ...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

What You Leave Out is as Important as What You Put In

A number of people have asked me why I almost never blog about Henry.  People I know in real life, the blogosphere, and through Facebook and Twitter will say, "You never write about him."

So I guess I should ...

Or, at least, I should write about why I don't write about him.

Henry is my fiance.  He has fantastic taste in rings, right? (The question was asked and accepted back in September ... I'm pretty sure I didn't mention it on here and, if I did, it was peripheral)
And we've set a wedding date, have a location, are working on a guest list, arranged the JP, chosen the bridal party, and so on.  Really exciting stuff, but not anything I feel like I need to blog about.

Why?  Because ... well, it's just part of the happy, calm, non-drama that my life consists of now.

The most important thing, of course, is this ...

Okay, here's the thing ... I have absolutely no respect for people who change who they are based on the person they happen to be in a relationship with.  None.  I think it's sick and twisted and warped.

That being said, I have changed a lot outwardly since I started dating Henry ... but it's more that I have found the strength to believe in who I've always been, to face my fears, to stop taking myself too seriously.  The hidden pieces inside myself, the shards of my soul that had heard, "You're not worth anything, you're not good enough, you're not smart enough, I'll take care of it because you'd just screw it up if you tried" for so very long, have joined together and allowed me to become who I always was.

If that makes any sense at all ...

The most obvious example I can think of is that I've learned how to tackle fears I've faced for most of my life.  I got on an airplane in August (with a lot of Valium, yes, but I got on an airplane) and flew to Baltimore to visit my sister when she needed me.  As recently as a year before, I would have taken a train or driven.  If someone I love needs me, I have always been willing to be there, but it wouldn't have been on an airplane, a fear I've had forever.

And it's not like Henry went with me on the plane, which I mention because some people seem to be equate spending 24/7 with your partner as a positive and healthy thing, and the only way to give and receive "love" and "support"--a concept I disagree with as Henry's love and support is present even when he's not physically with me, which I suppose emphasizes its enormity and strength.  He did drop me off and pick me up at the airport (in fact, we had a fight when he picked me up because the flight was really turbulent and he was late and I just wanted to be home, so I was snappy with him), but that's it.

And I should mention that the very fact that we "fight" is kind of refreshing.

I can remember how proud I was, how sure that it was a sign of perfection, that my ex-husband and I never fought.  I didn't realize back then that two people will never agree on everything 100% of the time, that I was either being indulged like a child or pretty much brainwashed into having my mind changed so my opinions were no longer my own, that I trusted him to do everything because the impression was given over and over again that I was incompetent and incapable of doing anything on my own.  The irony, of course, is that the exact opposite was the real truth, that he was the one unable to stand up and get his hands dirty and do what needed to be done, instead choosing to crawl into a wine bottle.

I was the one with the strength.

It's funny, my ex continues to find women that pretty much want someone to "take care of them", to tell them what to do and how to live.  Stephen King wrote a short story called "I Know What You Need" available in the anthology Night Shift, and it gives me the shivers when I read it now.  I married a mask; that he seemed so interested in what I was, that he "took care of" things when I was afraid to, that he seemed to know exactly what my needs were ... my God, it's so pathological looking back now.

I mention that because what Henry and I have is pretty much the polar opposite.

Because we are both high school English teachers, many of our interests and experiences are a natural match.  We both love books, although our tastes dovetail at times; we have a longstanding debate, in fact, over Tolkien (I think Tolkien is completely overrated, while Henry thinks he set the stage for pretty much every fantasy writer ever ... I'm pretty sure that came long before J.R.R.).  Henry loves comic books and graphic novels, while I think they're pretty dumb; sometimes he'll reference an epic like Neil Gaiman's Sandman in terms of what I consider "real" literature, and I'll roll my eyes.  He does the same when I elevate Stephen King to golden statue status (although he enjoys King, too).  We disagree.  We talk.  We think.  We learn.  We grow.  It's freaking amazing.   

Henry knows pretty much everything in the world about the history of rock music.  His knowledge is fierce, and his collection of various shows, purchased music, and memorabilia is ridiculously extensive.  My eyes glaze over sometimes when he starts talking about this or that bootleg and how "Hallelujah" has been covered 239 times and how such-and-such a guitarist is so coked up in a YouTube video that his nose is bleeding, and so on, but that's okay.  I enjoy Henry's passion and little-boy excitement ("REM is releasing 25th anniversary CDs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"), and I love how it's okay that I don't know what he's talking about half the time.  That he is so willing to share of himself with absolutely no reservation is just ... well, refreshing.  And extremely endearing.

And there is no perfection ... which is, of course, perfect.  I can be a moody and difficult person.  Henry gets that ... he laughs at me and makes me laugh at myself.  Or he knows to give me ten minutes to get over myself.  Or he'll call me on it, which I need sometimes.  Or he'll give me a reason (not an excuse or a lie, but a reason).  We are doing Weight Watchers, and today is our weigh-in day.  He lost 4 pounds, I gained 2 ... as I was about to completely melt down, he pointed out that I'm taking prednisone and an antibiotic so am retaining water (which reminded me that it's that time of the month where fluid retention is at its peak as well), so instead of getting depressed and eating a couple of doughnuts and a bag of Cheetos since "it doesn't matter anyway", I'm good.

Probably my biggest pet peeve is when people say things wrong.  For example, I want to scream when someone says "supposably" instead of "supposedly" ... and I hear it all the time.  Not from Henry--that would probably have been a deal-breaker--but he does say "all of THE sudden" instead of "all of a sudden", which is also fairly high up on my irritation list.  He argues that either one is correct, but he's totally wrong on that even if he doesn't want to admit it (based on my research, "all of THE sudden" became acceptable because so many people said "all of A sudden" wrong ... so using that logic, maybe everyone should start saying "supposably" and it'll become acceptable under the either/or-due-to-ignorance clause).  So even though it drives me crazy that he says it wrong, I kind of like it at the same time because he has the balls to stand up for himself; he is not going to change who he is just because the way he says something irritates the hell out of me.

Perhaps the coolest thing about Henry, though, is his modesty.  He is freaking brilliant, but there is no in-your-face about it (he was a National Merit Scholar, an impressive achievement that he forgot all about until finding the 20+ year old newspaper clipping while cleaning his basement).  He does not pretend (nor feel the need) to be the best at anything, instead enjoying life as it comes.  You find out about his many and varied life accomplishments piecemeal, usually with a self-deprecating story (Henry did not pass the English Language Arts Praxis II the first time he took it because he had no idea what the source material for the essay was ... the second time he took it, the question was one of his areas of expertise, so he totally nailed it and got an award for achieving one of the top scores in the nation, which I just found out about a couple of weeks ago--and I should mention that my ex got the same award for the mathematics Praxis II, but he made sure it went on his resume and that everyone knew about it).

Anyway, the bottom line is that I don't write about Henry and our relationship very often is because I don't have to.  It just is.  The highs and lows (and there have been some pretty intense lows because sometimes life happens) just sort of fit into who I am and what I think ... I am exponentially enriched by having Henry in my life, but I am not fundamentally different.

Well, except for one thing ...

Public speaking is my greatest fear.  Presenting to parents at Open House nights used to be prefaced by copious vomiting because I was so nervous.  I almost chose not to get my Master's Degree after completing the coursework because of the presentation requirement (and I think I only received credit for that out of pity ... it was pretty bad).

The first day back to school after the holiday break, I gave a professional development presentation to the full faculty at my school on "Text-Based Discussions" in a student-centered classroom.  Even though it's an area of expertise for me, I was petrified ... didn't sleep the night before, spent some time with my head in a toilet shortly beforehand, the whole nine yards.  That being said, I did it.

And Henry?  He helped me organize my ideas, articulate my objectives in writing (written objectives are hard for me), and listened to me bitch and cry and totally freak out.

And then he helped me practice. 

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As a public school teacher for sixteen years, I sometimes feel like I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen Standards come and go (and despite the brou...