Monday, April 27, 2009

Hey there, all!

Originally uploaded by bbackprple
Peeking out from my blogging break to post this photo for the I Heart Faces theme of Reflections. (It's so great that they have the themes posted ahead of time). I knew exactly which picture I should use for this.

Things here are crazy. Tonight's my last night in the house, and I'm all over the place, emotionally & physically. Happy, sad, confused, excited; sick, exhausted, & sore. (Mostly exhausted and sore.) I'll be staying at my grandmother's for the foreseeable future, while all the repair & painting type work gets done at the new house, so posting will continue to be catch as catch can for a while now.

In the meantime, enjoy this picture of Lil Girl reflected in her dad's picture: it's certainly captured the whole "looking forward, looking backward" vibe I've got going in my life right now.

Hope you all are well, and, if you get a chance, head on over to check out the rest of the I heart Faces pictures!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Because I need some smiles

and, although I missed Monday, these are My Best Shots: Lil Girl looking all grown up. (Which she needs to stop, immediately.) iThe first one, in my mind, lacks only a big banana clip, and then she'll be a totally awesome 80s girl.

And this one shows her feistiness in all it's glory. She's a handful, but it's a fun, wonderful handful, that's for sure. :D

Hope you all are having a great week!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Everybody says

"Just call when you need help: I'll be there."

But it's not true. They won't, all. Or they'll come and not help, or they'll come and make things worse. Or they show up the first day, but they don't show up the next time. Or they just get sick of helping.

And that's one of the things that sucks most about having chronic, disabling illnesses: There are just some things that you can't do on your own.

So you ask for help, and you're supposed to be - you are, even - grateful for what you get. But it's not always what you need, you know. It certainly isn't always what you'd like.

Sometimes, it'd be nice not to have to ask. Sometimes, it'd be nice if people just put 2 and 2 together and realized it equaled 4 without you having to call and tell them so.

Sometimes it'd be nice if people just showed up, ready to work. And didn't fight with you about the work you needed them to do, or amongst themselves over who was doing the most work. If they didn't fall asleep in the middle of the job, or stop often to text their friends. If they were genuinely pleased to be able to help you out, instead of making you feel like the least capable adult of their acquaintance. If they showed up when they said they were going to, and stayed till the work was finished.

If they realized that asking for help is sometimes just as hard as giving it.

And while I do have a few people who've come and helped and don't make me regret asking, and a few people I probably could've asked that would've helped better, overall, this whole 'getting people to help you move' thing has been horrid.

Considering that my siblings often make promises they then fail to keep, I shouldn't be surprised, but I am.

This moving thing - it's a big deal. And yet, it's also not. It's not even the scariest thing that'll be happening in our family that day, so let's all just take some deep breaths and motor on through, shall we?

I stopped talking about the whole moving process here for a while because it was overwhelming me, really... I couldn't think about it one second more, so I used this place as an escape hatch, but it's been running our lives for months now. A year with the house on the market, 4 feverish months of searching every open house, and, now that we're down to our last week (!) here, it's all coming to a head: number of storage units (so far), 2; number of rooms empty, 0; days left till all rooms must be empty, 9.

We're not even halfway through this process - we've got to get the rest out, the new house --- we finally found one, thank the goddess --- cleaned and repaired and painted, and then move all of the stuff into the new house. And yet, 90% of our 'helpers' are petering out, everybody is cranky and tired and some are acting worse than the soon-to-be-3 year-old.

It's crazy and sad, and we all just want to be done with it, but we're not. And it's pissing me off that my some of my siblings, who have accumulated upwards of 13 moves in the past 16 years - all of which my mother helped with - don't see this as their responsibility too. Even the one that lives here seems to think it's optional. I know they each have their own lives, I know it's grueling work that nobody really wants to do, but I can promise you that once we're all moved in, there isn't a one of them who won't want to have dinner there on a summer Sunday.

And it'd be nice if they'd remember that this Sunday, and pitch in a little bit more, without making me feel like I've asked for the impossible.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

According to Netflix

... because I am interested in Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer I might also be interested in Being Ron Jeremy.

... because I like musicals, I would probably love High School Musical 3.

... because I enjoyed Schoolhouse Rock I would also enjoy SNL: The Best of Gilda Radnor.

Netflix: You do not know me nearly as well as you think you do.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

In case you missed it...

There's a big kerfuffle over Amazon and its deranking of certain "adult" books. The kerfuffle being that the only books being deemed "adult" are those that contain GLBT themes and characters, and some erotica. What follows is the (3rd) draft of the e-mail I'll be sending them tomorrow... Any ideas for improvement?

Recently, I have come across numerous blog postings regarding new Amazon policies that either remove certain books from the front page searches or remove the sales rankings from certain books. According to these posts, the sole justification for the changes is the content of these books - specifically that they contain erotica; or are published by a mainly erotica publishing line; or that they contain characters who are homosexual, bisexual, or transsexual. Now, I will not pretend that I understand ranking and what it means to the sale of books, or even exactly how important it is for a book to be reachable from a front page search - I'm not in the publishing industry at all. I am, however, an avid reader, and I know that I often use your front page searches for books I am looking for, and if I don't find them there, I quickly move on to a different book. So I can see that the practice of removing certain books, imprints, and publishing lines from these searches would be detrimental to their sales.

Supposedly, these books are being adjusted based on their inclusion of "adult" material, and - while I do not condone that sort of practice at all - if that is your policy, I expect that it will be a blanket policy and apply equally to ALL books that are posted in your system. Unfortunately I'm seeing case after case where this is not what's occurring. If you were, in fact, to apply this policy to all of your books, then your search feature would become obsolete, your rankings meaningless.

Sure, lots of erotica contains "adult" material: so do lots of OTHER books: Fiction is full of "adult" material - will Lolita be losing it's rank? How about Shakespeare? What about regular romance novels that are published by mainstream publishers, rather than just those that are published under other imprints: I hardly ever notice who's published the book I am reading, but just glancing at my shelves, I know that there's more than one mainstream - bestselling - author whose work contains "adult" material: will their rankings be adjusted as well?

I'm quoting now from a blogger who's listing the books who's standings have been changed, and he writes "the only "sex scene" in The Well of Loneliness consists in its entirety of the words "And that night they were not divided."" The Well of Loneliness had it's sales rank removed, and yet I can think of more explicit sex scenes in almost everyone of my beloved Nora Roberts novels, and after checking three of her books, I see they are all still ranked. As is Playboy Nudes, Spring 2007.

And it's not just fiction - apparently, The Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy for Lesbians: How to Stay Sane and Care for Yourself from Pre-conception through Birth, 2nd Edition has lost it's ranking: I fully expect, then, that What to expect when you're expecting will be unranked from now on as well? And that to search for it, you'd have to search from Books rather than All Amazon? And what could possibly be the justification behind labeling Young Adult books as "adult" material and giving them this treatment - unless you're also going to be de-ranking books I loved in my young adulthood, too? Will Are You There God, It's Me Margaret be no longer available from the front page search?

I am shocked and saddened to learn that it is your corporate policy to discriminate. Perhaps this is, as has been suggested in the blogosphere, an extreme programming error on your company's part - a glitch where books are being removed/de-ranked based on arbitrary keyword searches. Even so, the fact that those programs would be searching for terms that include words like 'gay', 'lesbian', 'bisexual', 'transexual', or 'erotica' to the exclusion of words like 'nude' or 'graphic sex' is incredibly discriminatory, and it's not something I can support.

Personally, I don't think you should be excluding any books from the searches, as it is obvious that you can not create a filter that will give the proper "consideration to your customer base." And I think it is very shortsighted that you would even try to - I am your customer base - I'm a reader, a book reviewer, and a friend to untold authors - I was certainly not "considered" when this decision was made. As a customer, I think it's more important for me to know that I will get accurate results from my search, rather than censored results. If I type in the name of a book, and the book doesn't come up until page 5, what's the point of searching? (As an extreme example - what good would it be to me if I searched for Hamlet, and instead got Green Eggs and Ham as the first result? Hamlet, after all contains violence & paranormal elements - perhaps they would be the next keywords to be excluded?) You do a disservice to all of your customers when you pick and choose what to include in the search results.

Judging by the responses I have seen online so far, your policy is going to start costing your company a lot of money, very soon. For my part, unless I see that your policy has been quickly changed, and an apology has been issued, I am one avid reader who will begin searching for my books somewhere else. I will also no longer link to books on through my blog, and will be removing my wish list widget from my sidebar: I cannot knowingly contribute to a site where such policies are considered as sound corporate practice, and I am not alone - I think that you will find that if you'd like to earn the title of "earth's most customer-centric company" you have quite a ways to go

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Looking for the next imaginary place

as we start the last final few weeks here.

We're amping up the packing, finding all sorts of memories hidden unexpectedly in corners, in trash bags shoved in the back-beyond of closets, in endless foot high stacks of papers. Every breeze that blows in the window carries a reminder of some long ago day when we chased each other around the tiny tree or sat on the back porch listening to the rain. Every curve in the wall is a place long forgotten - the third step down that was our favorite place for telling secrets (apparently, acoustics was not our best subject at age 8), the hole in the floor between the parlor and sun parlor that we used to think hid a secret room. Random sounds combine into the first songs she taught me to play on the piano, the dripping of the pipes overhead as I played with my dollhouse in our dank dark cellar, the off tempo clock that only half ticked as I spent another lazy afternoon visiting the Green Gables. Even ordinary smells seem to hold extraordinary pockets of memories these days - the brand new tube of Crest toothpaste in the bathroom reveals the Easter eve night we had a sleepover upstairs, and in that moment, I could almost still swear that I'd truly seen the Easter Bunny that night.

Everywhere I look there's another story I'm afraid I'll forget again, another little piece of who we were, here. Then. I tenderly pick up each one, put it in my pocket, my dented and patched up boxes, my recycled Rubbermaid containers, and I wrap them in bubble wrap, cushion them in cotton, do anything I can to make sure that they'll survive the trip.

Andrew Largeman: You know that point in your life when you realize that the house that you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of the sudden even though you have some place where you can put your stuff that idea of home is gone.

Sam: I still feel at home in my house.

Andrew Largeman:
You'll see when you move out it just sort of happens one day day and it's just gone. And you can never get it back. It's like you get homesick for a place that doesn't exist. I mean it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for you, kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something. I miss the idea of it. Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place.
From the movie Garden State

Friday, April 10, 2009

My quote this week

"It's a strange thing, but when you are dreading something, and would give anything to slow down time, it has a disobliging habit of speeding up."

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling

Time is going both too fast and too slow just now. The closer we get to our move out date of April 30th, the more I want time to just pause - not slow down or go faster, but to just wait a minute for me to catch my breath. Just wait a minute for me to make tough decisions, for me to know which is the right way to go, what is the right thing to do.

As time shows no signs of actually complying with this request, I figure I better just pick something, or else.

And I'm not really up for any 'or else's right now, thank you.

Hope your Friday is going ok, and wishing you all a nice, restful weekend.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

I've been writing a post for more than hour

that's supposed to be about how ... well, I guess if I could narrow it down to one thing, then it'd be a lot further along than it is right now.

Mostly, though, it's about how I am pissed off at feeling so bad, about having no answers, about having to find the energy to keep looking for solutions. I'm pissed off at having to explain myself to people who don't even care enough to really listen. I'm pissed off about where I am in my life, and the options I've got, and the not knowing what comes next.

I'm just pissed off.

A lot.

So there: 75 minutes of writing, and what it comes down to is I'm pissed off.

Only the other post had more cursing.

I really need to find a way to finish it, because I so rarely feel like cursing that I don't want it to go to waste.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

If you're having a hard time

trying to decide between laughing and crying, I'm going to add to your problems and link you to some "Science."

I hope to god that's a joke... because if that's how people are learning their 'science', I'm surprised we as a species, still exist.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A new ballet

Amazing. Ballet is so beautiful to me, and I love it when there is something new to see.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Sorry, no MBSM

today, as I'm not in a "best of" anything sort of mood.

Instead, I'm allowing myself to feel sorry for myself, which is better than feeling angry at myself, which is where I was about 4 hours ago, so it can only get better from here.


No big deals or anything, just pouting because this newest, bestest, totally heavy-duty/take after major surgery pain med the doc put me on this weekend has been no more useful to me than taking Tic Tacs three times a day. Probably even less useful than Tic Tacs, because they've never made me itchy and never - even when I eat an entire tin at one sitting - made me nauseous either. Can't say that for this newest mega-drug.

It was only a three day trial course, but I feel like if they don't start inventing new drugs soon, I'm going to eventually - and not that distant in the future type of eventually - run out of options. And it's hard enough to keep up hope when there are other drugs still to try. When there's none? Yeah, I'm just not going to let myself think about that until - IF - I ever get there.

But I'm still going to let myself feel sorry that it wasn't this drug. That it wasn't this weekend. That it wasn't this answer.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Creepy and The Cool

when it comes to what's new for kids:
First the creepy: a "peekaru" carrier -

(Very Alien ish, if you ask me.

Then the cool: Shoes that grow with your kid's feet -

If they actually work, how awesome would those be?

Both images via The Shopping Blog

Saturday, April 04, 2009

New meds this weekend... so far, besides making me a little itchy, no help, no hindrance.

We shall see.

Hope your Saturday night is more exciting - and less itchy - than mine.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Friday Quotables

"You don't think she lived happily ever after?" Lord Richard asked softly, his fingers brushing past Amy's as she traced the contours of a small bird.

"That's an ending for books, not for people."

"What are books about, if not people?

- p289, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, Lauren Willig.

I'm having much better luck with books this week than I am with people, so this quote seemed like something I should try to remember. If you're interested in seeing more quotes, or in participating, click on over to Bookish Ruth for today's other Quotables.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Off to cry

while watching the ER series finale. I'm sure I will, so I've penciled it into my day.

Other than that, I'm going to be pissed a phone call was promised but never came and an audio book that wouldn't play. But those are minor annoyances, and we took Lil Girl to the library today where she was excellent, so all in all, a very good day.

I hope yours was too.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Speaking of fools...

**** Hey Sister of Mine - This is probably not a post you want to read, unless you feel like crying or being pumped full of rage. It's about the PUS. Feel free to skip. (This goes for anybody, of course, but my sister especially). I'd rather not write it, to be honest, but it's probably a wiser option than waiting till one of them comes by and kicking them in the face. Which is what I feel like doing. So; writing it is. ****

The PUS are just about all moved out now, with just their part of the cellar and what the realtor calls 'a few odds and ends' left upstairs to take with them. I can not fully explain how amazing it feels to be in this house and not be afraid of having to leave because of something they've done that will make me more ill. Or how it brings me peace to be able to take Lil Girl outside to draw with sidewalk chalk and not have to worry about someone pulling into the driveway and shooting us dirty looks, or worse, attempting to talk to me. It is bittersweet, to the extreme, to have this house be almost the way it always should have been - ours.

Only Nana is missing.

And she has been on heavy on my mind lately as we move into this final month of our residence here, how could she not be?

Her best friend came over to visit us yesterday. Because she's afraid that we'll move too far for her to come again, the visit was full of unnecessary goodbyes, (as we aren't moving anymore than 30 minutes away no matter what) but she also spent a good deal of time rehashing old hurts: cursing the PUS for all they did to Nana, cursing Nana for putting up with it, wishing she'd been able to convince her to do something about it. It was like listening to my own soul talking, especially when she said

"If we could've found a way, she'd probably still be alive today."

To outsiders, this statement makes no sense, I'm sure. An overreaction, perhaps, or wishful thinking to the extreme. But to me, it is a mere fact --> my grandmother, no spring chicken when she died at 84, would most likely have had a longer (and most definitely a happier) life if she hadn't had to battle everyday for just the air she breathed.

Stress, we all know, is aging. It's detrimental to your body on a cellular level. It hurts physically and emotionally. And my Nana lived in a soul crushingly stressful environment. It wasn't even just stress, it wasn't ordinary familial tension - she lived in a place where she was abused, everyday.

It takes a lot for me to write that. To know that it is true and to know that there were choices we all made - choices that I made - that enabled that abuse to continue.

I hope that in all my life, I will never do anything that I could regret more than not doing what I know was right. I hope that I would be strong enough, now, to know that having her mad at me for calling the cops - over and over again, if necessary - would be preferable to not having her at all.

"She wasn't beaten to death," you might say, "She died of cancer." And you would be right. She did. She did die of cancer, but she also died because her environment was toxic; because her son and his 'family' poisoned her everyday.

By ignoring her. By making her feel worthless and stupid and vile. By treating her as if she were little more than a bank - a bank where loans never had to be repaid and interest was never charged and you could insult the clerks at will. By hurting her heart and allowing their children to say that she wasn't their grandmother, or that they'd never really loved her. By screaming at her and calling her hideous names. By not caring for her when she was so obviously sick, and not caring enough to let anyone else have the chance to care for her either. By bullying her into believing all the wretched things they said about her (or us), and threatening her if she dared to stand up for herself (or us). By treating her as though she was invisible - by showing her that her opinion meant so little it didn't deserve to be heard, that her presence meant so little it wasn't even worth noting. By making it so that no one else could stand to come to her house, since it meant being in their presence, since it meant having to sit by seething while she was belittled or being belittled themselves.

(I would say here, in order to keep myself from becoming completely enraged, all over again, and because I am listening to the Harry Potter books on cassette tape, that she was Dobby, and they never gave her so much as a sock. If that makes sense to you, I think we should be friends:) )

They poisoned her, as sure as if they'd been feeding her arsenic, and 22 years worth is a lot of arsenic to swallow. It's a long time, and a lot of damage, and if every day you're living on a battlefield, using all your strength and energy to fight off poisons, you don't have any extra resources when you need them.

And that's really what happened to her - she just didn't have the resources she needed for that next battle, and it happened to be against a foe she couldn't best.

I'm not saying she wouldn't have had cancer. I'm not even saying she would have survived the cancer, really. I'm just saying that she would've had a better shot at doing so if she didn't have to also survive her 'son' and the rest of the PUS.

You may disagree, and I haven't written it before because, well... it sounds so stupid written down like that, even to me. But they wore her down, they wore down her spirit and her energy and her self, and when she got sick, she needed all those things and didn't have them. So yeah: I think that the damage they've done is immeasurable. And I am damn glad to see them go.

But today, alone in the house, as I heard the footsteps of Hippobeast PUS (the daughter - who's 22 now & who was one of Nana's frequent tormentors) thump on the back steps, I had a moment of "What's to stop me?"

My anger was so clear and sharp and focused that if I were capable of climbing the stairs, I thinkknow, in that moment, I absolutely would have. I wanted to yell at her. To tell her how evil I think she really is; to tell her the truth.

We haven't talked in over 12 years, and I assume that she thinks I am as horrific as I think she is, but in that moment I just wanted to be able to look her in the face and say: "Listen, you need to hear this from somebody, and it sure as shit ain't going to be your fucked up parents that tell you because they're even more delusional than you are. So hear this clearly, and know that it is true - YOU are wrong.

All those things you did, at first because your parents did them, and then later just because you could? The hateful things you said and the punishing ways you acted? Were wrong. Were evil and hurtful and poisonous and led directly to the dissolution of our 'family' and to Nana's death. And you can never make that better.

I can't go back and do the right thing - I can't go back and call the cops when I should've or actually send that letter to the lawyer the way I wanted to, and that will always haunt me. But you can't go back either, you can't undue the harm you did, the hurt you've caused, and I can't let you leave this house without letting you know that I hope it haunts you. Because it should."

It's probably good that I can't climb the stairs, because even as I was thinking about how great it would be to deliver this truth to her in person, I didn't, for a second, imagine that she would just sit there and let me say all of that to her. And that would've pissed me off even more, and things would most likely have escalated. (Although, seriously? Giving her the chance to punch me might have been worth any increase in pain because you know I would've called the cops then, friends.)

And by the time she plodded her way back down the stairs, I had calmed down enough to return to my Harry Potter and plot about how to 'accidentally' aim a Cruciatus Curse at them all instead, but the wanting is still there. Because I know that they still think they didn't do anything wrong.

That they will never think they did anything wrong - that they were the victims of a family that turned their backs on them, as opposed to the perpetrators that caused a family to be shattered.

And that's not okay with me. But I'm just going to have to let it go.

So, even though we still don't know where we'll be, I am definitely looking forward to thirty days from today, when I won't have to see them again. Or hear their false voices again, or suffer under their hands ever again.

And then? I shall have to settle for the Obliteration Charm instead, wiping them from my life once and for all.