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.

Monday, October 27, 2014

My insides shake like a leaf on a tree

At work, I am stressed about

(1) A few type-A parents who are going to the Vice-Head and saying my manner intimidates their children (which no one believes or sees --- and we don't have doors in our classrooms).
(2) Falling behind in my communication, including the irritating Creature Swap project we're doing at the behest of our unhelpful Technology teacher.
(3) Falling behind in the work the kids are getting done.
(4) Conference aftershocks --- parents wanting feedback on stuff they were told about last week.

I am used to being the star and success coming easily.  This third grade thing is kind of rough.

***

So that call and text from Zaftig yesterday to LD was her saying she wanted to have dinner.  74 was going to watch all the kids.  So that's what happened, and it ran long.  I started to panic a bit for no rational reason.  The thought of Zaftig and LD socializing still sends me into flashbacks about  February, because of Zaftig's two-faced, controlling role in causing it.  I'm slowly, slowly, getting better, at least I hope.  I recovered, and we texted and had a quick talk afterwards. I learned

(1) Kraut is calling around to Deviltown and Swampland friends, including Zaftig and the loathsome Ugly Joe, complaining about me being around his kids.
[He knows this because the kids tell him.  After one session on Skype or phone where they babbled merrily about how I am funny, and draw well, and give them gum, etc, LD said, "Daddy isn't such a big fan of Chance, so maybe he doesn't want to hear about that.  Naturally, the next conversation, Crab started it off with, "Why aren't you a big fan of Chance, Daddy?  I think he is funny!  He..."  Kraut replied, "Well, it's a long story, Crab," and then proceeded to question Crab about my interactions with them, though he did not mention me at all when he spoke to LD..  LD had to say to the kids, "I know he is your daddy, and you can talk to him about anything, including Chance if you want, but you should just know it makes him sad."]
(2) Zaftig apparently told him I was a professional and didn't want to be their dad and he should come over here and spend time with them himself to solve the problem.
(3) 74 was stressed or pissed off or something and very cold, just barely civil, to LD and, her kids reported, yelled at them; Crab was screaming in the dark when LD got there, apparently
(4) Zaftig, wonder of wonders, apologized for "making this harder on you than it had to be" (can it be?  was this actual self-reflection?).

I have nothing but bad feeling for both Zaftig and 74 at this point.  They'd have to bend over backwards to get me to attempt to recreate our past bond.  I've stuck out enough olive branches and had them ignored over the past year.  Their smug nasty controlling crap is just too much.  I don't care if I ever speak socially to them again.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Reboot

Let's try this again.

The last reboot started, sadly, just before the Bad Times, which I won't go into now, if ever.  Let's just say there has been enough drama and enough tears for ten lifetimes.

These are better times, although still shaky and stressful.  There's still much that is up in the air and much that depends on external forces, which isn't a condition I gladly tolerate.  There are ups and downs.  But it isn't the nadir of hopelessness it was back in February.  Indeed, when LD and I say that word --- February -- it is shorthand for "the most horrible either of us have ever felt."

So.  Today.

I met LD and her three kids, Cake, Crab, and KJr, at the grocery store, where we shopped individually and together.  I then met them at her place.  Yes, she no longer lives in Europa. She lives here, in Mannontown.  So there's that.

The idea was that I should stay with the kids while she went to the office to catch up on work, but she lacked the energy for that.  So I watched the two biggies for just a bit while she went to go retrieve Cake from a birthday party.  Then we took them to the park and LD and I walked around and talked about us and other, less weighty matters, while the kids played on the equipment. I did a little work on her laptop, and then the five of us had spaghetti with meat sauce that she made.  We watched a bit of "Malcolm In the Middle" --- that show is funny and clever!  I never knew it was a notch above other sitcoms.  Then I helped clean up some of the mess and washed dishes.  It was all very domestic.

After the kids were asleep, LD and I had some much-needed adult time together, which was interrupted by a call and text from Zaftig, whose relationship with LD has been cooled and slightly awkward since LD and I got together.  (And Zaftig and 74's relationship with me?  Well, the first time I spoke to 74, my friend of 27 years, was last month when we met for a drink, and it ended in rather strained though civil argument, and no contact since; and I have literally not spoken to Zaftig since February.  Oh, except for professionally.  You see, I am their daughter Nora's teacher!  Ha ha!  It is awkward!)