Singularity

Merriam-Webster defines singularity as:

noun \,siŋ-gyә-la-rә-tē\ :  the quality of being strange or odd

Hmm.  How very appropriate considering my avatar.  But I’m not writing about being strange or odd.  The definition continues:

1 : something that is SINGULAR: as

a : a separate unit

There’s more, but for the point of this post we don’t need the rest.

Occasionally over the past few weeks I’ve had various notions flit in and out my brain.  They don’t last long and I don’t dwell on them – they’re sort of glimpses, if you will, of what my life might be like if I were single again.

I don’t take that to mean I want to be single; I really don’t and I’ve asked myself that very question.  I’m not sure it means anything really; I’m treating it as a sort of imagination exercise.

The last time I was single I was raising three daughters, two of whom were teenagers in high school.  Between the four of us there wasn’t a good week in the entire month!  Just kidding.  If you didn’t get it then you’re probably not familiar with PMS.  Go look it up.  Or don’t.  As you parents out there know, when you have children your life is not always your own.  You make choices and do things based on your family first, then yourself.  Usually.

But if I were single now with all my kids grown?  So many possibilities await me!  There is always a chance I could be single again down the road – there are no guarantees in life after all – so I thought I should make a list of the ideas that have been floating about.  I don’t want to forget them if I need them someday.

If I suddenly found myself single I would move closer to work.  I loathe commuting.  I could probably afford something closer to town if I lived alone.  First of all, I wouldn’t need such a large place and I’d only be feeding me; and possibly a pet.

I would eat at home more, experimenting with foods I haven’t tried.  Living closer to work I’d get home earlier, and there would be time for kitchen chemistry.  In the evenings I’d take a walk or ride my bicycle (I would get a bicycle).  In the rainy season I would probably hit the Y gym or the pool some evenings.

I’d go to the movies by myself, buy my snacks there – price be damned – and sit in the quiet, dark theater and bask in the anonymity.

Another activity I want to try is a community garden.  I have brown thumbs AND fingers.  Plus I have no idea what I’m doing so I pretty much do nothing.  If I could join a community garden I could get down and dirty under a garden guru’s guidance.  And – BONUS – bring home fresh produce!

Going back to school is another attractive idea.  I don’t want a to earn a degree, I just like the idea of finding an interesting subject and joining in with others who are interested.  I could just as easily find some sort of social group for that I suppose.  Square dancing anyone?

Traveling!  There are so many wonderful places I haven’t been.

One of my very favorite ideas though is visiting bookstores.  New bookstores, old bookstores, junk shops, variety stores – anywhere there are books!  Many moons ago I took a weekend trip with two girlfriends.  One of the days we went for a drive and the only rule was that we had to stop wherever someone wanted.  During the drive any one of us could holler out that they wanted to go THERE and whoever was driving would pull in.  We also talked about what our very favorite thing to do was.  Mine was to browse in a used bookstore all by myself with no timetable.  I would still enjoy that.

I think if I didn’t move closer to work I’d like to live closer to the beach.  I was born in a beach city, maybe that’s why I’ve always felt an affinity for the salty spray and the sea breeze.  I commuted by ferry for many years and I loved parts of that commute while hating how long it took.  If I could live by the shore I’d be such a happy camper!

All this talk about moving reminds me of something else I would do if I were single – minimize!

We have so much STUFF.  Sure, you need furniture, appliances, clothing – I get that.  But we have a room full of things that just sit there taking up space.  We own two full size SUVs and a fifth wheel.  Let me tell you, those would be gone in a heartbeat.  Well, the suburban and the trailer would go; I might keep the pickup.  I like my pickup.

This raises yet another issue I have – upgrading.  If I were single again, I would upgrade nothing, nada, zilch, zippo.  At least until there was no choice.  I was happy with the 37” flat screen television we were using.  It wasn’t that old and the picture was great.  Now it’s one of the things in the back bedroom that sits gathering dust.  JD’s plan is to install it in the 5th wheel (and you know how I feel about the trailer).  I don’t need new and improved or bigger and better.

What I want is enough.  Just give me enough to get by, along with a teeny bit more for an occasional splurge.

Phew!  I had no idea this would go on and on.  I guess it’s a good thing I wrote it down, right?

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The truth can be ugly

It turns out that I’m a liar.  Not just white lies or little fibs either.  This was a blatant, though not face to face lie.  I’m a lousy liar.  My face turns red and I can’t look the person in the eye.  Lying via email is soooo much easier.

JD’s daughter (let’s call her A shall we?) emailed this morning to let the family know her youngest is being dedicated at church next month.  She hoped everyone could join them and maybe have a potluck at their house afterward.  I emailed back by replying all (so JD would see my response and not rat me out by mistake), and said we were going away that weekend because we didn’t get to go camping.

You have to understand something here in order to “get” why I lied outright.  JD is Jewish through and through.  On the surface you would never know it.  He doesn’t attend a synagogue or practice his faith openly that I’ve ever seen.  The only time he plays the Jewish card is when he’s joking about getting something cheaper.  But it is his heritage and it’s in his blood.  It hurts him that his daughter chooses the Christian faith over her birthright.  I think he should just suck it up and be happy she’s a woman of faith.

He sees it as disrespecting him.  Wait, what?  That makes no sense and it’s futile to expect a child you weren’t allowed to raise to follow your path; especially when your path isn’t all that clear.  In my opinion, respect has to be earned and with an attitude like his he isn’t earning any points toward that goal.

Let’s move on before I digress into a tirade about his attitude; none of us want that.  We did attend the dedication for A’s son a few years ago.  They belong to a nice church.  As a formerly regular churchgoer myself, I enjoyed the atmosphere that imbued the service.  I could see myself going to services there, if I were to ever decide I need that in my life again.  The entire time we were there JD was on a slow boil.  He didn’t say anything to the daughter or other family but I definitely heard about it both before and after the service.

Every time we meet up with this daughter and her family there’s always something that sets off JD.  It could be as simple as them saying grace over the meal we’re all having.  Before JD agreed to go to Passover with Mom, he demanded that grace would not be said before the meal or he would get up and leave.  He would have too.  On this point I agree with him.  Passover is Jewish and therefore Jewish traditions should be honored.  Here’s where I think A has a lot more class than JD.  She worked with her son N, who would be the youngest male there to teach him the questions which are traditionally asked.  To my knowledge, she didn’t grumble or whine about not being able to pray as she is accustomed to doing.  In my mind (and after some of my experiences with The Church), A is a good example of what a Christian should be.  I would be proud to call her my daughter.

JD thinks if one of my kids chose to be a Rastafarian, Buddhist or some other faith that I’d understand his disappointment.  I hope I would be more tolerant (and I abhor that word) if they chose to practice a different faith.  Being spiritual doesn’t necessarily mean being religious and I’m the first to admit I’ve been lacking in the faith department lately, which is completely beside the point.

It isn’t only the daughter’s choices that irritate JD.  He personally doesn’t make the effort to celebrate Hanukkah for example, but grouses when we’re invited to “Christmas” at his sister’s.  She still goes to synagogue – once in a while anyway.  But she too married a Non-Jew and her husband’s daughters celebrate the holiday with their father so they have a tree and exchange gifts.  I’ve tried to work around JD’s animosity about the family celebration by making sure the grandchildren get both a Christmas gift and a Hanukkah present.  It has not helped.

He acts as if everyone is out to make his life completely miserable.  And in the process he makes mine miserable.  I used to enjoy the holidays but I often dread them now because of how JD reacts.  It’s pointless and a complete waste of time and energy.

Is it any wonder then that I lied about having plans?  I think not, and I’d do it again.

I have a new obsession

Talking with a neighbor the other day at the pool I somehow got on the subject of my half-brother who was given up as an infant for adoption.  I think the “ladies who swim” were discussing family and the conversation evolved from there to include that I didn’t know my father or his family because he’d left around the time I was born.  She suggested I get on ancestry.com, and related that she’d had a lot of success tracing her family there.

Had I known the outcome I may not have … no, wait – that’s a lie.  If I had known I’d have jumped in long ago!  Researching genealogy is addictive y’all.  The second day I was on the site I’d given up on my dad for the moment and searched for family members I knew more about.  Almost 2 hours later I realized it was time to go home.  It’s insidious as it sucks you in deeper and deeper!

I found my grandma plus her mother and father and brother Philip (who I remember from when I was very young as a funny, plump bald man that I liked).  There were photos (duplicates of ones I already had) and birth and death records.  In addition, they were included on other family trees at the site, one of which I believed to be my cousin’s.  I knew C had worked on a family tree at ancestry.com so I presumed because the entries were all about our family that it would be her tree (the owner didn’t use their real name) and I contacted her through the site since I hadn’t received a response to an email I’d sent her a few days before.

It was not my cousin, but my former sister-in-law, who had added those members when my daughters went to her for research help because she was so experienced.  Can you say AWKWARD boys and girls?  Was I ever surprised!  Since she’s been doing genealogy research for 40+ years she knows her stuff and she graciously helped me track down my father with only his name, age and state of birth!  I now know about multiple relatives on my father’s side!  Grandparents, grand aunts and uncles, great grandparents.  There may even be an aunt and an uncle still living.  I even think I resemble one of the aunts a bit.  In addition, she steered me to a free research site that is sponsored (I think) by the Mormon church.  Since my father’s family came from Utah that seemed like a good resource; I’ll be checking it out one of these days.

Now I’m researching JD’s biological father, who left when JD was less than a year old.  Plus we’re looking up his step-dad, who married his mom and adopted JD and his two older siblings.  JD knows a lot of that family’s anecdotal history but it’s very cool to see it documented.  They immigrated from Russia and it’s fascinating to follow the progression.

I only have nine more days left of my trial membership so I will be researching every free moment.  My SIL says after I cancel the membership I can still view the trees but I won’t be able to search on my own.  She’s promised to send me any more information she finds.

And now I must close this and log back on.  Who knows what other lovely tidbits are waiting for me!

The Ray Bradbury Noun List Twist

Better late than never I suppose.  This was yesterday’s Daily Prompt.  I chose my five nouns:

tombstone, camper van, wedding, river, thunderstorm

and got to work.  Unfortunately, I am at work, so writing has to fit into and around what they pay me for which is why my post is late.  In any case, here’s my response to the prompt.  I hope you enjoy it.

The wedding was beautiful – I know that’s what people say about every wedding ever but it really was.  Rays of sun slanted over the river, dust motes dancing lightly.  Here and there puffy clouds marched across the perfect blue sky.  No one could have asked for a more picturesque day.

The altar had been staged before the river with rows of chairs facing it on either side of the aisle.  My 3-year old niece Darla toddled up the aisle, too busy grinning at everyone to toss flower petals.  The bridesmaids, each in a different shade of spring, followed Darla more sedately; but they too were beaming, and my groom awaited me, a serious expression on his face.  Until he saw me that is; then it was as though the sun shone on him and him alone.  Glowing back, I practically skipped up the aisle to meet him.

Hours later, we collapsed and slept like the dead – there’d be time to consummate later.

Early the next morning we packed the camper van for the honeymoon.  We’d planned a leisurely trip which would include stopping when and where we chose.  There was no real destination, just the yen to be away, be alone and be renewed after all the wedding preparations.  Family saw us off and Gran tucked an envelope into my pocket as she hugged me.

“Have a wonderful time Olivia,” she murmured close to my ear.  The scent of honeysuckle floated lightly around her and I inhaled deeply, squeezing her back.

“Thank you for everything,” I told her.  “We’ll bring back lots of photos.”

We climbed into the van, fastened seat belts and waving at our entourage, pulled away from the curb, the adventure begun.

***

Three states away we pulled in to the cemetery Gran had identified on the card she’d given me.  We stopped at the small building inside the gates and got out to stretch.  This last leg of the journey had been longer than the others.  But Kyle had insisted we make the trek and find the grave.

“It’s your birth mother,” he pointed out reasonably.  “Who knows when we’ll have another opportunity to travel out there?”

This is a perfect example of why I fell in love with him.

After obtaining a map of the cemetery from the office and chatting with the lovely woman there, we wandered among the tombstones, commenting on a particular name or design.  Several minutes later we found my mother’s grave.  Her stone was smaller than the others near her.  The pale gray marble was veined with a deeper gray and pink.  A typical stone, it included her full name, the dates of her birth and death, but it also included a very personal message:

Mother of Olivia May, much desired, much loved daughter.
I so wish I could be with you now.

Unsurprisingly, tears stung my eyes.  Kyle slipped an arm around my shoulders but didn’t speak.

I’m not sure how long we stood there; it could have been minutes or hours as far as I knew.  Absorbing the knowledge that my real mother had wanted me, loved me, I was oblivious to the time passing.  Time could very well have stopped and I probably wouldn’t have noticed.

It wasn’t as though I’d had a horrible childhood; my adopted parents had been wonderful.  But they’d never hidden that I was adopted and there had always been questions in the back of my mind.  I didn’t want to hurt them by discussing it so I confided in Gran.  Sweet Gran had taken it to heart and here I was, seeing my mother’s love for me written in stone.

I swiped away the remains of my tears and snuggled into Kyle’s arms, sighing.

“I love my Gran,” I murmured, eyes still on the stone.

“Me too,” Kyle replied, tightening his arms briefly.  “She gave you the perfect gift.”

After taking a few photos of the stone, we started back to the van.  Clouds had been gathering overhead for some time, thick and black.  Spatters of rain fell just as we slipped inside the van.  Kyle started the engine and as he backed out the torrent began in earnest.  Even with the wipers at full speed, visibility was very limited.  The plan had been to backtrack to the campground we’d passed earlier in the day but it was several hours away.  Neither of us was eager to travel for long in these conditions so we agreed to find a motel.  While Kyle kept his eyes on the road, I did a search on my phone for the nearest lodging.

Following the longest 20 minutes of my life, we found a Quality Inn and got off the highway.  A few minutes later we’d registered, received our card keys and cocooned ourselves in the room.  Across the parking lot was a small café so we wouldn’t have to go far to grab a bite to eat, but that could wait.  We opened the drapes and pulled the chair over to the window.  Kyle sat and held me on his lap while we watched the thunderstorm.  Somehow it seemed a fitting end to the emotional day.

I’m HOW old?

Today’s Daily Post prompt asked us to write about age – I won’t duplicate the post here, you can check it out yourself if you’re interested here.

I read a few of the posts in response to the prompt and enjoyed those perspectives, but none of them really said what I was thinking, what I guess I’ve been thinking about age for some time.

It isn’t that I dwell on age, I don’t.  Certain ages I have been stand out in my memory but overall I just go through each day, trying to focus on the present.  I remember 35 being a particularly bad year.  I was still mired in a disintegrating marriage and couldn’t see any way out.  But I survived that.  Hell, I survived much worse.  Forty was probably one of my best years – I’d lost a lot of weight, was the smallest I’d ever been as an adult and I was single again.  I was solely responsible for my happiness and it was glorious!

So when I really think about it at all it’s to ask myself, “Why don’t I feel older?”  Seriously.  For example, I’ll be 58 this year, but whenever I’m faced with making a decision that’s harder than what to have for dinner or what to wear to work, I feel like I’m in high school trying to decide my life’s course.  When I was a kid I was SURE that when I grew up I’d know what to do, where to go, what choices to make, how to live.  Forty some odd years later I’m still waiting for that certainty.

Sure, I understand some things better as an adult than the child did, but I still don’t have a lot of trust in all my decisions.  And some of them have been so very bad!  The consequences of those poor choices have chipped away at my self-confidence.  The ripples affect all aspects of my life.  Do I throw my hat in for the lead secretary position?  Or will I just screw that up?  Should I update my resume and look for a better job?  Maybe I should go back to school.

I know most people face these types of choices.  Do they also feel like they’re still little kids, pretending to be grown-ups?

Or is that just me?

Best Friends

I’ve had a few BFFs in my lifetime, though I suppose they were more BFs since nothing lasts forever.

In high school my best friend was Marta G.  We all called her Markee and she was probably the sweetest girl in our clique.  She didn’t join in when there was gossip or backbiting – at least I don’t remember her participating.  Perhaps she did and my reminiscence has colored the memory.  One particular memory I know is not complete.  I didn’t follow our high school sports much but one year a few of us went to one of the home football games.  Markee was sick with a nasty cold but she showed up anyway, a bottle of Nyquil® in tow.  By the time the game ended she was completely wasted on cold medicine and the part I don’t remember clearly is how we all got home that night but I do know she survived so she must not have OD’d too badly on the nasty stuff.

Not long ago I found a photo of her in a jumble of memorabilia.  The cameras back then did not take the masterpieces we can get with even our cell phone today.  But while it was grainy and a bit blurred, it was unmistakably Markee.  Her light brown waves were pulled back into a loose tail and she was looking over her shoulder at someone or something in the hall at school.  Looking at the familiar face, I ached just a little for the loss of her friendship since we all went our own ways after graduation.

One marriage, four children and many years later I met Deb.  Bold, brash, and blonde, Deb was as tall as I, but slender where I was more curvy.  We worked together and she brought me out of my shell.  I’d always been sort of quiet, afraid to risk rejection or make waves.  Deb had no such fear.  She was funny and cheeky and loved a good time.  After she started working in our office a group of us would go into The City to dance and drink beer.  As the adult child of an alcoholic, I was playing with fire, but it was so freeing.  I don’t know how else to explain it – it just felt good to go out and play.  Deb was the friend who recognized the symptoms of my child abuse (another survivor often can see what others cannot) and recommended a book that changed my life.  I went back to the therapist I’d seen immediately after my divorce and I started meeting with a group of other survivors.

I thought Deb and I would be friends forever.  She and her husband moved out of state and not long after I moved to the same state and went to work at the law firm where she was employed.  Even though we didn’t live all that far from each other we didn’t do much socializing outside of work.  Eventually, they moved again for her husband’s work and we lost touch for a bit.  During that time she went through breast cancer treatment and I followed her progress via email, the occasional phone call and Facebook posts.  Then a couple of years ago they moved yet again, back to the Midwest where the rest of her family lives.  If I got back on Facebook she’d “friend” me for sure.  We still email once in a while. But we’ve lost touch overall.  I’ve come to believe the chief reason she came into my life was to steer me toward therapy.  Once I was on the road to recovery, her work was done and she moved on to others who needed her.

Another several years later I started an anonymous blog.  I wanted to keep it under wraps from family because it was where I would rant about issues that drove me crazy.  Unfortunately, there was this fear that JD would discover it or I’d let it slip or something and because of that fear I never really unloaded all the frustration, grief or anger there.  But by being online and following other blogs I met L, who is now one of my dearest friends.  Chatting about husbands, daughters, grandchildren, we’ve developed a relationship different from my other friendships but so much richer in my mind.  We’ve actually had the great pleasure of meeting in person a couple of times and we’re in touch by email and text somewhat regularly.  So even though we’re don’t live close enough to meet up often, we still reach out and support each other.  We make each other laugh and we listen when the other needs to vent.  She is the only person in my life who knows about this new blog and knows who Janey really is.

I know nothing is forever but I hope and pray with fingers and toes crossed that L and I are friends for a very, very long time.

 

Pardon me if I brag…

but I am a R O C K  S T A R y’all!

No, not in the literal sense silly.  I can’t carry a tune in a bucket and the only thing I can play is the radio.  See?  I know from literal.

I certainly hope no one minds though if I toot my own horn (again, not literally – that would be awful!).

HE'S happy I'm not playing!

HE’S happy I’m not playing!

Today I rescued one of the attorneys in our office.  Wait – I guess that makes me a S U P E R H E R O, not a rock star.  Hmm, well anyway.  Attorney P was dealing with tracked changes in a Word document.  His secretary and I were both trying to figure it out because it was a rush project.  Since our local Word guru was out today, we finally resorted to calling the main word processing group in the home office.  Someone in that department called Attorney P to find out more, but when he tried describing the issue they had no idea what he was talking about!  These are supposed to be the experts in processing documents for heaven’s sake!

So I turned to Uncle Google and once I (with a little help from yet another secretary) figured out how to frame the search query –  wham! there was my answer.  Well, it wasn’t quite that easy; none of the results addressed our specific problem, they were more how-tos than how-to-fix-its.  But I finally saw someone else had posted an identical problem on a board.  The answer provided by the “expert” on the site was more of what I’d already tried which was frustrating.  Then I skimmed down the comments from other users, and lo and behold there it was!

I didn’t want to get my hopes up yet again (I’d tried multiple possible fixes over the previous half hour) but I selected the comment, printed it and carried back to Attorney P’s office.  As we drilled down through the menus he said it was looking familiar.  By the time we got to the window where he actually got to do something besides open another menu, he knew we were on the right track.  He’d unchecked this box before in the office he transferred from, but that had been some time ago and he’d forgotten.  In addition, because of the recent software upgrade he didn’t know how to find it in any case.

He thanked me and I left him to get on with his revisions.  Sometimes it just works and you feel like you really know what you’re doing.  And when you don’t you turn to Uncle Google.  I guess that makes Uncle Google the superhero — but hey, it was ME who did the googling after all!  I think that qualifies.

Thank you Uncle Google!