Monday, November 03, 2014

Soften a bit until we all just get along

At work, we had a video conference with another school.  We had done a little art swap project with them, where our kids made something and then sent directions to them, and vice versa, then our kids made their artwork, and they made ours.  We showed the attempts to follow directions and replicate art, and then the kids told each other about their respective schools.  Since Prestigius is a fancy-pants private school in the big city, and our conference pals were at a public school in a small town in a struggling state, I think the other teacher got a bit peeved at how much our kids talked about all their classes and the spacious grounds and opportunities and so on.  I said, "No, we're jealous of you!  Your school sounds great!"  At which some of my kids screamed, "No it doesn't!"

I chastised them severely for this afterwards.

Later, the adults got into a tizzy fit because some people's scheduled were inconvenienced by the video conference project, and --- mea culpa --- I failed to adequately warn them that this would be happening.  (Although I still feel that should have been the tech teacher's purview.  She is extremely half-assed and lazy.  My excuse is that I am a bonehead.)  Educated adult drama!  People with zero problems making trouble!  It would be amusing if it weren't so stupid.

***

LD got a sitter to watch her kids while she worked late, and she came by my place before heading home.  We were both a bit stressed out and distracted, especially her of course, and so her visit was a bit awkward, but we sat and talked and I think I made her feel a little oasis of comfort and calm.  At least I hope so.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Old lady judges watch people in pairs

Today I had to go to work because we had an Open House for prospective parents.  I wore my shiniest shirt and crisp checkered shoes.  Or possibly the other way around.  Anyway, my ostensible role was to greet any touring prospects and answer their questions about third grade. Ms. Yule had the shift before me and told me that she fielded a few queries, but since most of the prospects had children aged 0-3, really very few had any interest in finding out about third grade just yet.  So I ended up standing around like an ugly male caryatid saying barely two words to any adults.  I did engage in a bit of persiflage with the Prestigius students that were attending, but that was about it. Afterwards I stayed and got Monday's spelling words and homework ready.

***

But!  Before that, I drove up to LD's house.  Eyeball had taken KJr out for a fishing trip (indoors somehow, as I understand it), so I went out to lunch with the three girls.  I really like Crab a lot.  I mean, Cake is sweet too, but I have a soft spot for Crab.  LD remarked that we share the same goofy facial expressions and mannerisms.  She cracks me up with her self-aware joking.

Tonight, LD and the kids went over to 74 and Zaftig's house, with Eyeball (the Family, as they used to call themselves), for Nora's birthday party. I felt left out and mildly resentful at the entire situation that has robbed me of old friends, as usual, but I am in a much more solidly grounded place psyche-wise nowadays and getting better slowly (I hope).  Unfortunately, afterwards I heard some really annoying and disturbing stuff about Zaftig.  LD told me she was making gross jokes about vagina restoration, certainly something she is copying from her new fancy super-rich Prestigius doctor friends.  But not cool, and disturbing to LD.  Especially, as LD said, Zaftig herself has been on the other end of that joke in her life.  (TMI!!)

Much more disturbing to me is the resurrection of a very old conversation, back when this first started, between Zaftig and LD.  Desperate to sway LD from me any way she could, Zaftig dragged me through the mud.  She characterized me as a quitter ("he'll walk away when things go bad"), as miles out of LD's league, as someone who LD should know better than go near because I am toxic, as someone who verbally tormented my Ex, as someone who dated a string of young women (ha!), as someone whose Ex was a 2 on the attractiveness scale while LD is a 10 (Zaftig is about a 3; I thought the Ex was cute), etc.  All very insulting and nasty.  It only reinforced my feeling that I am just fucking done with those people.  They are entitled to their opinion, but this insane passive aggressiveness just turns my stomach.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

It only believes in a pile of dead leaves and a moon that's the color of bone

LD and I have a tenuous tradition of date night on Saturday.  She sends her kids to Dutch classes in the afternoon which is sometimes additional time for us to be together, but she gets a babysitter for the evening.  Today, she had to catch up on work during the afternoon, so we only had date night.  We both agreed that given our situation, we also need to strengthen friendships and relationship, so she invited Eyeball to go out with us.

It was a fun evening.  We hit three nice restaurants and had drinks and appetizers at each one.  Eyeball is a very blunt person with no filter.  My behavior on this night, right before February, was caused by this bluntness.  However, whereas back then I took her comments as a deliberate attack, I am reasonably confident now that she's on the side of acceptance.  She is brutally honest, but sympathetic.  For example, early in the evening, she referred to me, half-jokingly, as "home wrecker."  I shrugged and accepted it.  That is a label and one way of looking at it.  But Eyeball then said, "Of course, that wasn't a home, and there wasn't any wrecking; that's my opinion, anyway."

Later on, we were talking about tattoos and she asked me, "Didn't one of your wives have tattoos?  I mean the young one."  Anyway, it was all good-natured ribbing of the particularly biting kind that close or long-time friends indulge in.  At one point both Eyeball and LD needled me for thinking I was superior to other people (which I really don't think is true), citing the fact that for years I did not know their names or talk to them.  Well, it is true I don't pay much attention to people until they show me something that wows me.  But in my defense --- and I wouldn't say this in return to Eyeball, though Friar agrees with me --- Eyeball herself doesn't exactly brighten up the room and engage people with her warm personality.  She is well-read and travels and watches good TV, but she projects a somewhat sour or reserved exterior.  It's only after a while, as with me, that she starts to thaw a little. 

I'm really glad we went.  Eyeball is officially neutral in the Rift, but it proving to be, if not an ally, a refuge from attack.

Friday, October 31, 2014

You know you got a lot to live for and you're gonna be mine

Halloween!  The one holiday I don't mind.  It's so unabashedly commercial and honest.

At work we had our traditional Halloween parade.  The kids all come to school in costumes and all the parents line the roadway around the school, and we all tromp by under their beaming gazes, and then there are photos and such, and then our normal day resumes.  I think it's sweet.  It does this old man's cynical black heart good to see kids enjoying themselves with such innocent, child-like pursuits: dress-up, pretend, creativity, escapism into fiction or adventure, candy.

74's family was there, of course, including two sets of grandparents and the boy D, taken from his school for this important event.  Nora seriously and earnestly hid when they tried to take pictures, but eventually 74 got one and posted it on Facebook.  I know this because LD told me.  I am apparently now excluded from 74's Facebook feed.  Family only!  (This includes LD, since, as 74 is fond of telling me, he and LD's family are "close as cousins at least," even though he doesn't actually like her.  Awesome.)

And, breaking a years-long tradition, 74 and Zaftig cancelled, at the last minute, their planned trick or treating with LD's kids, instead taking her own two kids to a party with some Prestigius parents.  This, I am sure, confused and hurt LD's kids, who practically worship 74's kids (Crab insisted on getting an exact copy of Nora's costume), and pissed off both LD and Eyeball, who has traditionally accompanied them all.  The decision to cancel this much-anticipated-by-kids event was, I am sure, half precipitated by the Rift (per the supercilious 74, LD needs to make her own friends, be taught a lesson, cannot use their old nanny any more, etc etc) and half just pure social climbing on Zaftig's part.

So I went over to LD's house, where her old friend from Boot State, Queen, and her husband, Anderson, and their two kids were.  We had some wine while the five kids tore around the house having fun.  Anderson and I hit it off to a degree; he is a cameraman and has some interesting stories about hi work (he has worked on shows in the lot next to where they shot "Seinfeld," and worked on the show "Homicide").  It was nice to have some adult conversation, if only small talk.

After they left, I read to the kids a bit, and then LD and I sat on the couch watching TV and being together.  It was a great evening.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

I’m the car in the weeds, if you cut me I’ll bleed

"But Chance," I hear my non-existent readers roar as one, "You said in the reboot post that you and LD are having ups and downs, yet all we read from you is domestic bliss!  What gives?"

Well, there's a lot of backstory and high drama that I've skipped or glossed over.  LD's family are all in various degrees of dudgeon about her affair with me.  Her parents have given their reluctant, disapproving support; one of her sisters is at this point basically dead to her due to the horrible things she's said about this whole mess.  I've mentioned how 74 and Zaftig have broken with both of us in tongue-clucking moralistic horror.  And of course there's Kraut's mental breakdown and lucid, serious threats on my life.

These things take their toll.

The other day, we were talking about us, as we do, and I said something like, "Of course we aren't really together yet, but..."  LD laughed and said, "In what sense are we not together?"  And while it is true that we are quite couple-like at this point, the fact is we aren't together in the very real sense that, say, her kids don't know about us, and we can't bandy about our relationship at work or with certain acquaintances.  (In the case of her work, it's doubly touchy since they knew Kraut, who used to work for them as well.)

ANYhoo, today I volunteered to pick up her kids from school again right after work so she could stay late and get some work done.  She ordered a pizza from work, and I fed the kids, let them watch cartoons, and then at a certain point made them do homework.  All very nice.

When LD got home, she was extremely stressed out, and the kids got all hyper the way they do, and they climbed on me playfully and I read to them, and they got send to bed after much pushing, and she had to clean up Cake's bed because she had an accident in it.  By the time we had some time together, she was pretty high strung.  In talking about the kids' schoolwork (they're all three behind because in Europa, kindergarten doesn't teach anything, so much as a letter shape, but is just all-day play, and the older one is very bad at reading English), I said something true but foolish about Prestigius being about a year ahead of public school curriculum, and that sort of sent us downhill.  She knows she can't afford that for her kids, at least not as a single mom, and said so, which made me pretty hurt because my prime fear is that this life she has as a single mom will be so hard that she'll go back to Kraut.  And it got worse from there.

[Yes, I worry.  I worry that when Kraut comes here in late December, he will cajole her, "Look, all the things you complained about back in Europa is solved now.  You are here in Deviltown, with our friends, and have a job, and I will have a job and make money, and we won't live in a one-bedroom townhouse with my interfering mother and brother and evil bitch sister-in-law anymore, but a four-bedroom palace, and I won't be crazy any more, and everything will be good."  And I worry that even though I know LD loves me and Kraut has been a dick to her, she may choose to be persuaded, because after all it is easier and better to make a life with the father of your children; practicality is often more powerful than romantic sentiment.]

Well, the evening got better and we made up, but it is an example of how we can have some badness with the goodness.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

One more block; the engine talks

Today at work, I gave the kids a reading quiz that I wrote (two adapted Aesop's fables, plus the questions), oversaw their partnered reading and looked at a few reading reaction pages (problem and solution), then went over homework.  An hour and  half goes by fast; what I just wrote out really doesn't seem like it would take all that time, but it does.

In adapting the fables, by the way, I took the one about the milkmaid and reworked it so that it was about a young man dreaming of using his money to buy a fine new tractor and lording it over his neighbors and spilling the milk as he acted out his fancies, rather than a girl tossing her head at suitors.  The original is (David Brent voice) a bit sexist, innit?

***

I literally had no idea the World Series was going on until I saw the CNN headline about the winner just now.

***

Saw The Vikings (1958), surely one of the worst major motion pictures ever made by Hollywood. From the bad acting, to the atrocious dialogue, to the off-kilter casting (Ernest Borgnine as the Viking Chief! Haw!), to the movie's bafflingly propagandistic association with a Germanic, proto-fascist people at the expense of our Good Old Ally England.

Among many of the unintentionally funny scenes: Monk makes sign of cross. Kirk Douglas says "Take your magic elsewhere, holy man" before pushing him to the ground.  Ha!  I don't know why that's funny, but it is.  That's funnier than a rotating chair.

I am still watching "The Walking Dead."  It is preposterous and thrilling!

I have also watched every episode available on Netflix of "Comic Book Men," a "reality" show about Kevin Smith's comic book shop in Red Bank, NJ.  It is staged and pretty goofy, but I am enough of a nerd to binge-watch it with at least one eye open.  Speaking of unintentionally funny, Jason Mewes (Jay, of Jay and Silent Bob fame) attempting a believable reaction shot to anything is hilarious.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I'd ask you what you want but I don't think you'd know what I mean

LD is super overworked at her job, which is a mass of backbiting and undercutting, apparently.  I really don't want her to lose her value there, because frankly she was lucky to get that job (at a place she'd worked years before) because of the three-year gap in her resume.  She makes twice what I do, and with three kids she needs it.  When a kid is sick, she racks up yet another unwanted absence.

So when she texted me that Crab was sick, I drove up there after work.  She left me with Crab lying on the couch watching TV.  I walked over to her kids' school and picked up the other two; I'm on the list, this having happened before.  They watched a lot of cartoons (Garfield!  Phineas and Ferb! Some French series of shorts about a shark who loves a clueless mermaid and protects her from the hyena who wants to eat her!) while I graded some papers.  I made them two corn dogs, two breads with Nutella, and two pears.  Also Popsicles, after they took their various medicines (diuretic for Crab's stomach, antibiotic for Cake's ear infection, reading log time for KJr's lectophobia).  They eat huge amounts.  They are pretty big.  Wait til they're teenagers!

[Her kids are big because LD is tall.  LD is five foot eleven; I am five foot five or so on a good day.  We are both fine with this reversal of typical gender body dimorphism.  Some people aren't.  Her kids love to point it out.  Crab told her recently that daddies shouldn't be shorter than mommies.  They can be the same size, but not shorter.  On a similar note, apparently one of the topics covered on LD's last talk with Zaftig was battles with weight, and the perils of a woman weighing more than her partner.  LD doesn't talk about her weight to Zaftig because she doesn't want to hurt her feelings --- LD and I weigh approximately the same.]

After a couple solid hours of work, LD drove all the way down to my place, where she fed the dogs (she has been around enough that, unbelievable as it may seem, Dog II --- who has lunged snarling at my landlord, my neighbor, and my brother when he came to stay for a week once --- allows her to pet him and even enter the house without me, although he does run around crazily, barking and jumping on her).  Then she drove way back up to Mannontown to her house, where we all (including the kids!) had dinner of salmon and pasta.  So domestic.  Then the kids were driven reluctantly to bed.  We cleaned up, I tried with mixed success to pay LD's bills online, and then we absconded to the couch for some adult time.  We also watched some of "The Office" (UK), which I love.

LD and I butt heads occasionally on her willingness to let kids in her bed.  I think as a third grade boy, KJr is getting too old to share his mother's bed.  In particular I dislike the demanding way he asks her to go to bed, as if he were a partner in the bedtime process and not a child.  She would be happy to have her children sleep with her every day until they go to college.  It's not such a big thing to argue over, but I wish it didn't gnaw at me.  I certainly don't want to create rivalries before their time or have petty jealousy about her kid, for Pete's sake.

I got home around half past midnight.  I'd been gone from home since about 7 a.m.  This was only possible because of the thousands of dollars I put into having a six-foot fence built around my yard and a dog door put in the back.  These improvements have really changed how I structure my day!  My schedule used to be tied to getting home to let dogs out.