Vacation Sort of 

This has been the closest thing to a vacation I’ve had since 2013. The In-laws were not residents to our state until exactly 6 months before they filed the law suit in order to establish grounds to ask for temporary conservaturship of Alice’s daughters, and when they were eventually granted joint conservaturship they moved back to their original residence across the country and filed the lawsuit again over there, dissatisfied with the verdict.

Fast forward to later in the story and you see a family consisting of four partners (legally two married couples) and four kids under three years of age taking a road trip across the country. I made crocheted stuffed Pokémon for the kids. Guinevere has an Espeon, Gaston an Umbreon, and Ginger a Leafeon. I found the free patterns on 53 Stitches site where the artist also sells the finished product. In anticipation of the trip (and out of frustration with its current length) I convinced Ed to cut my waist length hair to shoulder length. I felt sprightly and more attractive with my springy, low maintenance curls and actually looked forward to the trip more.

Espeon was made with blanket yarn, so it’s a bit bigger
I happened to have scrap yarn in similar colors to 53 Stitches’ patterns.

Edward was eager to go back to his and Alice’s home state they had left during the recession in 2008. He said to himself a few times that when he left, he had nothing there, but now his family is there and he has a reason to consider moving back. He lit up occasionally to show me the patterns in the clouds affected by the geography, like where the warm air vented through, or where wisps curled up above the mountains like ocean waves. He eagerly pointed out when the leaves started to turn over to take in water from the anticipated rain, and the different species of ducks and other birds. In hindsight he said he was spoiled growing up in such a naturally beautiful and diverse state. He knew I was outdoorsy and made it a point to take me outside as the storm approached, intending to take me to the gazebo by a pond to watch the storm go by and savor the smell of the rain. I regret we didn’t make it in time, but I was moved that he was so eager to show me things that were important to him that he knew I related to.
While we were in town we had visitation with Alice’s daughters. Ed had promised them that he would take them to a scenic hike, which was on our to-do list after meeting some of his family. His family was really casual with us, remarking more on the size of his “tribe” than on his number of partners, despite that they were not actually in agreement with our family structure. We also visited his family’s graveyard, which still feels as foreign a concept to me as a traditional family.
Before we could embark on the nature hike, Gloria had a nervous meltdown. Then her panic made Ginger start crying. This was never a problem before the court case started three years ago, yet these meltdowns have been the underlying bitterness that flavors our visitations. Eventually we did make the hike, wading in the cool pools that carved out the surrounding caves. I was reminded how much I enjoyed hiking, and everything was so beautiful.

After such a long drive to this state and the exercise, we were ready to take a break 1from the chaos and rest with the company of the majority of our children. However… Gina was particularly distressed about a subject she meant to keep quiet over, but it surfaced anyway. The Girls were severely infested with lice. And it spread. I had lice for the first time in my life (good thing I cut my hair). Gaya, who is under 6 months old, had lice. Nearly everyone got lice. We had to drop $60 unplanned and stay up until 5 am to weed out nits, which pushed back our trip home by another day in order to not get stranded.

The lice on the Girls was so bad, it appeared that it must have been untreated for at least a week, and that’s with the benefit of a doubt. Geraldine did tell us that their grandparents were indeed aware of the infestation, but from what she told us it didn’t sound like anyone sat them down to pull out the vermin. But this is coming from a kid, so who knows right? When our visit with the Girls was over, Alice spoke to her mother about the infestation. And her mother wasn’t surprised. In fact, they had been trying to treat it for months and hadn’t realized that the source was the Boys’ mother’s house. I burn inside over the idiocy of not sharing this apparently known issue before exposing all of us, including a baby! Was it lack of consideration? Was it spite? Were they expecting us not to notice? Can they not understand the severity of the consequences? I cannot understand what their motive was.

The day for court finally came. I marveled at the beauty of the city on the way to the court house, how my favorite shades of blue were everywhere in the sky and buildings. There was a smell that took me back to my childhood like it was quoted by 21 Pilots, and I had flashbacks alternating between two chapters of my childhood. There had been several moments like it throughout our trip, despite that I had never been here before.

I did not permit myself to meditate on the possible results of this hearing or what I might have to say or do and was relieved that all there was for me to do was wait for Edward and Alice outside the courtroom with Bailey. I was also relieved to never be addressed by Alice’s parents; I wasn’t sure that I could withhold the bitterness I had for their shenanigans. I scrolled through Reddit and showed the choice finds to Bailey to pass the time.

Eventually they emerged and Ed showed us how quickly a skyscraper elevator goes to the top floor. Besides the results of the hearing and scheduling for the next one, we discussed how we felt about moving here. I felt that I had nothing holding me back. I broke “no contact” with my mother and sister and am still debating on whether or not I regret it, and the only other family I had in town was Anakin, who was in jail, and I did not mind leaving town before he was out. I still have friends around the world so it’s not a loss for me to move. We would be closer to all the kids and the transition for them would be easier. The grass is literally greener on this side. Edward and I have been wanting to open a table top gaming store and realized this would be a great place to do so.

Since the hearing, we have been able to actually enjoy spending time with Gwendolen and savoring the beautiful weather and lush vegetation that reminds me of my trip to Europe in 2012.

When a Storm Knocks

It was warm. Edward surprised me with a date to a bar and grill and we enjoyed burgers and beer so cold it froze the orange wedge. We talked about developing NRE (new relationship energy) between Bailey and me, the warm fuzzies one gets when they’re in a new relationship that can go dormant in established relationships or when there are other factors such as the stress of a court case. We got her late Valentines gifts of a party size bag of M&Ms and a bonsai for her desk at work. When we stepped out of the store we were met with the forecasted, belated rain.

We were out just in time to pick Bailey up from work and give her gifts. Once we were home we settled down, and I tried to pull her attention away from the movie on her phone to talk when my phone went off. The alert derailed my attention. “Ed, did you get it?” I knew he was decompressing with a gameon his own phone and would notice it, too, a tornado watch alert.

“We have five minutes,” he announced. He went to the computer to pull up the radar. 

“We have to get the kids out of bed?” I just wanted to confirm it before undoing the work of what may have been hours. I grabbed a gallon of filtered water and slid it into the bathroom with my phone, went with Bailey to the kids’ room where she grabbed Gaston, I grabbed Ginger, and as considerately as I could dragged Guinevere out of bed, excitedly chanting “we’re going to the bathroom for a party!” As I walked, I stepped in puddles formed from new leaks, and the lights flickered. 
One of the Ladies had grabbed thick blankets and tossed them in the tub where we gathered the kids. Because of Guinevere’s reluctance I piled in with them, and Alice cuddled with us holding Gaia. I played Me Without You and Alice chided me, saying it would stress out the kids. I looked at them. They were dazed, and these are kids that fall asleep to heavy metal. Me Without You, the album Ten Stories, went perfectly with the mood and I still regret not being able to play it. Bailey suggested 21 Pilots instead, and I played the top tracks while we read Psalm 91 with the inflections of a story book to the kids. Bailey teased me for bringing water when we were in a room with access to water. 
I watched Ed’s face reading the radar from his phone. His expression changed just as the lights flickered, the sound of hail and rain ceased, and I listened the the odd rumbling of thunder, somehow distorted, and listened expectantly for the screaming of the tin roof shredding. The whole ordeal was strange. I thought to myself tornadoes don’t happen here. It felt like a drill, and I messed up by not packing enough water and by forgetting my shoes. 
The lights stabilized, the rain resumed, and Ed described the iconic black dot on the radar that passed over the location of our house. 
We discovered later that the tornado had touched down on a restaurant down the street from us before picking back up into the air and passing over us. Had it been lower, our home would have been gone. We also learned that a leak sprung over the bed, right above Bailey’s spot. She slept on the couch and I slept with a bucket beside me. The kids cried over going back to bed, and I grumbled that I had to be up in six more hours. 

I want to say thank you to the stranger that read, like, over 40 of my posts three months after my last update. I’m not sure what your motive was, but it inspired me to sit down and crank out more words! 

Starting the New Job with a Bang. Of Deployed Airbags. 

I don’t like writing about work. However, it’s impacted my ability to write as much as I want, so why not write about the thing getting in my way of writing.

The call center I worked at closed. I didn’t even update my social media to reflect when I started and stopped working there because of how temporary it felt. For two years I felt every day like it could be my last, that somehow I would accidentally mess up and would be “promoted to customer”. I didn’t want to have to answer questions when I updated my status to no longer working there, so I never put that I started.

Part of me celebrated the change. I knew there should be something better available but I didn’t have the motivation to search until it was inevitable that I would need to. Fortunately I found something that might contribute to my longterm goals, at the pay I asked for, and with phenomenal benefits, an opportunity to move up or around, and with a sense of permanence.

Things were looking better and better for the family. We could afford and now needed a second vehicle and bought one at an amazing deal. It was an old, gold Buick, with oversized rims that rubbed the shroud at the turns, an upgraded radio, and a second battery installed under the back seats. On top of getting a new-to-us car, I got new-to-me clothing for work attire and brand new beautiful sneakers shaped like ballet slippers that are a cloud to walk on.

The first day brought with it a cold front, and with it chilling rain. Bailey had the radio on, and I turned on the GPS on my phone for her and worked on filing my nails so I wouldn’t feel the need to during training.

I get paranoid in a car. It’s not enough to be a phobia, but I will make sure that I’m fully aware of the fact that I am in a metal and glass box going at a rate that is faster than I regularly fall or propel myself, moving in between other fast moving metal and glass boxes that are all piloted by mortals. When this thought crosses my mind, I say a quick prayer less formal than “Jesus take the wheel” and put it out of mind. I made such a prayer under my breath when my wariness dreamed up some catastrophe as it occasionally does and went back to filing my nails. And then I felt that familiar drift, when the direction of inertia shifts ever so slightly. That familiar feeling I had driving a Hummer through the mud, ever so mindful of the barbed wires and their distance to the paint on the vehicle waxing and waning. In my flash back I miraculously never scraped the fencing.  In this moment I thought to myself ‘it can happen and it also can not happen. Anything is possible in this moment where you have no control.’ And the cement barrier approached the hood and met it and my phone flew to my right off my lap and I saw a commercial asking how will you call for help when you’re in an accident and the air bags deployed and my wife screamed and just as suddenly we stopped.

“You’re okay,” I convinced Bailey. I don’t remember needing to remind her to move to the shoulder, though I remained ever so mindful that we were now perpendicular to the flow of traffic on a busy street on a bridge. Once she had us pulled over she gave into sobbing. I reminded her once more that she was okay. I was reluctant to call 911 and chose instead to call Edward first. I’m sure that if there was blood my priorities would change, but I felt like everything was on pause and that I could take my time. I had him on speaker.

“Hello.”

“How do you turn the f***ing radio off.” Bailey was still crying in the background.

“What? What’s going on?”

“We got in an accident.”

Pause.

“Are you serious?”

“Yes.” Pause. “I call 911, right?” I didn’t trust my competency too much because of the adrenaline.

“Yes call 911. Where are you? I’m going to get you.” I told him our location and he reminded me to call work to tell them I would be late.

“Bailey, I’m going to call 911 and they’re going to ask us where we are. I’m not that good with directions, so I’m going to need your help. They’re usually not that nice to me.” I put my phone on speaker and reassuringly held her hand. After I reminded Bailey that she was okay I asked if she was injured. After the call disconnected she complained her head hurt.

“When they ask if you’re okay, that’s the time to say something like that.” I joked with her about starting my new job with a bang, and chuckled when the emergency vehicles came up the access road just ahead of us and kept going.
Edward reached us before them. I had a flashback to a news special I saw about a police officer that repeatedly had his car crashed into when it was parked on the shoulder. He came up to Bailey’s side and she opened the door, nudging him towards traffic. “Open the window.” She closed the door and opened the window. “Charlotte, they have a hundred percent attendance policy. I’m going to take you right now.” I looked again at my door and found that we were parked against the shoulder, and I instead climbed over the car seats to escape out the back.

During the training for my new position, if things became too quiet I saw the cement barrier meet the hood. I still rattled from the adrenaline. Bailey didn’t find my nail file when she emptied out the car, and the two short nails on my left hand brought me back to the moment of impact over and over. I texted on my breaks and learned that the car we had for 10 days was totalled. After work I was informed that the total insurance coverage would pay for the car at retail value. I also had it confirmed that Bailey was okay, and there were no other cars involved in the accident at all.

“Can we get a Prius next?” I fantasized about the look on my mother’s face when she saw I had my dream car.

Edward responded, “We really need a minivan to transport the kids. But after that.”

Coffee for Two .03

I would like to speculate on dreams with you over coffee. I realized that the things that take place in our mind aren’t all that universal. For instance, I discovered that it’s not common for a woman to regularly dream that she’s male. I’ve also learned from others that it’s not universal for people to hear a “voice” when they’re reading text, or when they’re thinking to themselves. I would ask you why you think conversations like this don’t come up, because I personally find it fascinating and will see if the kinds of dreams you describe tell me about who you are as a person. Edward would point out how masculine I sometimes am, and I wasn’t sure that I believed him until I spoke to my female friends about my dreams and they responded that they’d never dreamt of being a man and asked me about my genitalia in my dream. (To answer, I don’t think about my genitals enough in real life for it to come up in my dreams, usually.)

One time I was a father with kids and my wife was threatening to leave me, but usually I’m head over heels and trying to win a woman’s favor, I’m an emperor, or I’m a paladin. These kinds of dreams make me feel powerful the next day, and I like meditating on them. I realize that it’s probably not common to dream you’re a divinely charged warrior, so I wondered what you dream about.

A Letter for You

Dear Readers,

I don’t know what to say, and I’ve struggled with this for a few months. That quiet that I’ve referred to that comes before a storm, it’s lasted an awfully long time. Still, there’s a shift in pressure, a momentum building. If you were to ask me how the case is going, I wouldn’t know how to answer, because just like the last time I posted there hasn’t been any big enough changes to mention.

I’ve tried to distract myself with Pokémon Go, but I think it’s finally bored me. Last Saturday I went on a walk to a Pokémon gym up the street, but after 20 minutes there I only knocked down the prestige a few levels. I evolved all the Pokémon I had saved up for a while, and after finishing my task I didn’t have anything else to look forward to. On the way back someone driving made a turn too fast and almost hit me. I remember that in an instant I realized I could have been hit, assumed the driver must not actually see, and threw up my hands to be noticed, still running out of the street. The scream was utterly involuntary.

I don’t think I handle adrenaline as well as other people. My only qualm with hunting is that once I pull the trigger, I shake for hours from the adrenaline. I don’t know if this is at all linked to the migraine that I had later, preceded by an “aura”. Some migraine sufferers are familiar with a combination of weird sensations that occur as a symptom of a migraine before it starts, but this was the first time I’d experienced it myself. I could see, but I couldn’t read. If I focused, I could tell that there was something moving in my peripheral, but at the same time it didn’t register. After 20 minutes of puzzling over my vision, I felt pins and needles from halfway down my left forearm down to my fingertips, and nothing but pins and needles. My knowledge of auras before then came from what I’d read when researching a treatment for the chronic headaches I used to have, but I knew my supervisor had more experiences in this matter than I and described it to her. She confirmed it, and the migraine that came confirmed it, too.

That may be the most eventful thing that’s happened for some time. Aside from that, I bought an ebook, and read it. I don’t have the energy right now to tell you how much happier I’ve been since having a book to read that I liked. I read it twice. I’m content as a cat.

That’s another thing: energy. My job position is being eliminated (the desk job, not the charity job). At first I was excited that I was being forced to look for better opportunities. Now I’m burdened by the thought of it, and Pokémon isn’t distracting enough, and I finished my book twice.

What a dull post I’ve composed. But now you know why I haven’t written and how things have been. Maybe this weekend I’ll sing a different tune for you. Thank you, Readers, for sticking with me.

(Note: Why did I use so many commas this time?)

Time Traveler

What would you do if you went back x number of years? Someone asked me and I asked the specifics. Did I time travel, or was I in my younger body? Did I have my memories and experiences from current me? Specifically, I considered what it would be like, having my current memories and experiences trapped in me during my freshman year in high school. I hated high school, especially now that I’ve lived ‘real life’. “I would chew my mother out,” I finally answered.

“Really?”

“Yeah. And I would enroll in more extracurricular. I felt like she didn’t let me enroll in extracurricular.” He was surprised, especially with my bitterness towards that chapter in my life. He somehow had drawn the conclusion prior to our conversation that I was popular and social in school. “No, I was the outcast of the outcasts.”

I understand myself now well enough to have been a counselor for young me. I would have been able to point out why I was looking so desperately for validation from my peers, and that I do behave differently from them due to the isolation I went through. I would point out that the reason why I was not drawn to boys my age was because they lacked the ambition and leadership skills that are not commonly found, especially in boys, but that there were people out there that would love me for me. In fact, if I went back in time as my friend suggested, I would spend those years waiting and preparing to come back to where I am now. I would make sure to be at the college cafeteria during the first week of school where Alice and Edward would see me and invite me to sit at their table for the first time.

I even considered the relationship with my ex and how it affected my relationship I’m in now. I wouldn’t date him. I wouldn’t be content to be with anyone knowing my “soul mates” were out there and I would meet them again. What I would do is I would surprise my ex by telling him things that others didn’t know, and tell him that he was important and needed to not give up. I wonder what that would have done to him, to not have wanted anything from him and still validate him as a person. To kill time (I’m waiting years for true love) I would have probably made friends with him still, and taught him what a non-sexual significant other is, and then hang out with him and tell him the future. I think the mistake I made with the first go was that I thought that if I loved him enough he would love me back, and in a weird way it eventually kind of worked, but it wasn’t organic so it was disastrous.

I would have studied the bible more, and burned my Tarot cards sooner. I would have worked on my relationship with my mother and sister. “I know I’m not like the person I was yesterday, but today I want to be my true self, and that’s what I’m going to do, whether you can appreciate it or not,” might be the first conversation I had with them. From then on, I wouldn’t be feeble, and I would try to allow myself to argue back. I would have defended my writing time, making the argument that this could be a sign that I’m a young prodigy and my mother wouldn’t want to get in the way of that. I wouldn’t let myself be afraid anymore. I would have been a completely different person by the time I put that into practice.

I think I was still going to my father’s place every other weekend per court order, and to be honest, I would have allowed myself to go one more time. I’ve struggled now with my memory, and I think by reliving one visit to his place, I would have enough fuel for my novel to flush out my character confidently. And then I’d draw the line and say more bluntly that I was not going to be around my father anymore and that he made me uncomfortable and crossed boundaries. I think I could have prevented him from molesting my sister, and he also would not have gone to jail years later. That makes me feel strange, that the abuse my sister went through has resulted finally in my ability to go anywhere in the city without looking over my shoulder for a few years.

I would have gone up to Bailey when I saw her in the hallways, and I would have kissed her and told her I would marry her someday, before walking nonchalantly to class. She would have appreciated it, too, even before knowing. Hell, she would love me more now if I had.

I asked her this evening what she would do if she could take her current experiences and go back to her first year in high school. I’m glad I asked, though her take would have been almost opposite mine. “I would tell everyone I was bi and polyamorous, and get the shock factor out of the way then so it wouldn’t surprise them with my relationship now. They will see it coming.” And she would have made sure to have fun. Because we went to high school together at the same time, but weren’t close, it was an interesting and enriching conversation. I got to learn more about her now by hearing about the old her and her motivations, and some of my memories returned to me. I also have a greater appreciation for who I’ve grown into.

Lessons by a Rose

The six weeks that I went by myself through Europe is when I transitioned into adulthood. Never before had I gone so long away from my family, and I realized the impact it had on my ability to see myself as a real person. No one else spoke on my behalf but me for once, and I was fascinated by myself for having adult conversations. I was impressed with myself for doing so in French no less, but just as much if not more so in Germany with P. She knew me when I was a child, so it was more empowering to me to speak without my mother present. I realize at this moment that what I was experiencing was a degree of inhibition for the first time.

One of our conversations turned to literature, stemming from a quote she made that went over my head. She was astonished the “The Little Prince” wasn’t a mandatory read in the states, it was such a classic! And she told me it was available in French, German, and English on Amazon and continued to speak highly of it.

Shortly after I returned home to the States, an unexpected package arrived for me. P had sent me a copy of “The Little Prince”, and I sat down that moment to read the slender book. It’s a sentimental story about the integrity of being a child, which made it ironic for me to fall in love with it at the turn of adulthood.

Now a mother myself, I look back on my childhood to see the ways it influences the way I raise my children. Oddly I don’t remember a lot of it anymore, as a result of trying to leave it behind me and build myself back up. I consider regretting it now that I’m a writer, since many argue that one of the intentions of writing pertains to emotion and experiences and I’ve deliberately buried mine deep. I wrestle with this when working on my novel I first conceived over a decade ago to relieve the stress from being abused. In my research I came to the conclusion that Anakin (my father) is a narcissist, so I’m something they call an Adult Child Of Narcissist(s). One of the most dangerous aspects of this kind of abuse is that it is interpreted as normal by the victim and the abuser, but is hidden from the outsider.

I intended to work on my story more before Alice asked me to look after the babies. I had Ginger, Gaston, and Guinevere gathered in the same room and wondered how to use my time besides getting things done. Guinevere pointed at my laptop and asked, “movie?” I figured it was adequate research to watch something from Netflix. Bailey informed me that “The Little Prince” is available, remembering that I had the book and tried reading it to her one time. I was eager to see what they did with this classic.

I used to not be sentimental. I don’t know if I was emotional from my research or if the sentiment of the story seized me, but I had tears in my eyes through the entire movie. I meditated on it each time we paused it (life happens when you have kids) and came to be more and more enlightened. For starters, the heroine’s mother shows narcissistic tendencies: lives vicariously through the child, controlling the child’s schedule, giving the child value based off of his/her accomplishments, isolating the child. Secondly, the comparison of children and adults is made often, and frequently in conjunction with the phrase, “growing up is not the problem. Forgetting is.” Initially it’s clear that they are referencing the innocence of childhood before the corruption of the world- don’t forget, stay true to the “inner child”. And then it clicked for me- forgetting in general can be a problem. After all, that was the obstacle in accomplishing my goal of writing this story with truth and purpose was to communicate the trauma of what I went through while still giving myself a happy ending I dreamt up in my youth.

My past includes my experiences, even the bad ones, and I think I have accepted that. In my present I can give my children the childhood they deserve, and I can protect the future by reaching those living my past now.

P is the one I came out to by email and said she would respond when she had more time, but I have yet to hear from her. As she hasn’t disrespected me, I feel no ill toward her, and am still eager to hear  back.