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2004 is upon us
And so I begin my 2004 journal early, with an entry on December 28.
I’ve done a lot of soul searching about myself these last few days and I mean that in the strictest sense of the words.
My ex-husband’s mail order Russian Bride
I received a gift and a Christmas card from the Russian wife of my worst ex-husband.
My exes are rated by amount of turmoil they managed to keep in my life post divorce … this one tells me I’m stuck with him eight more years – I insist I want a full and final divorce now. And I mean it. We’ve been divorced legally since 1992. My kids can have him, and he can have a relationship with them. But my preference is to never see him or speak to him again.
No animosity, no bitterness, I’ve just had enough these last 15 years and it doesn’t get better with time. We’re stuck in the same stupid relationship we always had, except that now I don’t sleep with him.
He’s always had a relationship with me and someone else, it is just that now she and her children are part of our lives instead of a secret. With that history, let me tell you why I search my soul.
She, on Christmas night, when I dropped my children off at their house, ran to my car with a gift (chocolates) and a Christmas card signed for her, him and her two children. My kids ate the chocolates, I stewed over the card.
Now in my heart of hearts, I bear them no ill will. I wish him happiness and if he has found it with her, I really hope it lasts forever. We had been divorced more than 10 years when he brought her to this country last year. She hasn’t taken anything from me.
Cultural Exchange for my Kiddos
When she came to Georgia from Russia, I was at his house to welcome her here and introduce my children. I had visions of the same big get togethers we had then, only now she and her children would be part of them. I saw my children being enriched by a friendship with her children; exposed to another culture and enlightened by it. I expected that my children could help her children transition into schools here – make friends, get the in the flow. I imagined, if you can believe it, that she and I could become friends.
Ooops. She had ideas of her own, and they didn’t include me and honestly I don’t know how much she intended to include my children.
The problem is, we, my children and I, thought they’d be friends with US and all the ‘us’ she was putting up with was my children.
I’d long since stopped going into his house – the wifey would sulk in a bedroom for days if I did. Interestingly enough, my ex started knocking before coming into my house, and he still has a key! He understands that at a basic level our relationship is shifting and it is due to his marriage to her. Rightly so, I might add.
He and I were both okay with that, I was, anyway, and when she made it obvious she didn’t want to be my friend, I stopped trying.
The Worm Turns
Then they moved into a new house (large enough for me and my four kids) and it is the four of them. Suddenly, she wants me in the house every time I come to pick up my children. She’s friendly on the phone – and she gave me a Christmas present.
So I struggle with this. Now that I got what I wanted, I find it distasteful, even repugnant. Why?
Now that she’s comfortable, she wants to be friendly. Now that she’s ready, she’s offended me at every turn.
So am I unhappy that I was rejected out of hand? Yes.
A I unhappy that I didn’t get my European friend when I though I was going to? Yes.
And do I feel like a shrew-bitch because I don’t want her friendship now? Oh, yes.
I realize that I’m not teaching my children anything I want them to know — Bitterness, perhaps envy? (She got a new house, I still live in the one I bought before we were married.) Anger that he works so hard to please her; but not me, not his children!
I’m truly sorry but I don’t want to be friends with them anymore. Is it wrong of me to say so now? Perhaps not, but it is wrong to waste any more emotion being angry with them.
I don’t know that she’s a neighbor that I’ll love as I love myself (NAS, Mark 12:31), but I am seeking a new level of acceptance for them, who they are and what they are.
Two creatures plodding through this lifetime, offering a comfort to each other. If she is good for him, I’m truly glad. I wasn’t and we all know that. And! He wasn’t good for me. So why anger, now: A year later?
I don’t know except that I got used to her treating me badly and now she’s not. It seems artificial, showy and in bad taste.
Oh. Maybe that was me.
Steve Miletich, writing in the Seattle Times tells us there is a new clue in the DB Cooper case.
Steve reports the FBI has told him they have a promising lead . . . but the FBI is not on the verge of a “big break”; the FBI spokesman said the FBI received a tip that lead to a credible person who might have helpful information on a suspect.
I’m sure they’ve had lots and lots of tips. A post I wrote back in the ’90′s has gotten me more email than anything I’ve ever written about (save Aerosmith, of course), including long email and telephone conversations with two women who told me they were his wife and with him when he died, although both of them denied knowing where the money went.
It still gets more hits every day than ANYTHING else I’ve written about . . . maybe I should have stuck to being a coopersmith, instead of a wordsmith.
Here’s my original post, http://laloba.com/2010/05/d-b-coopers-legend-grows-as-the-crime-story-ages/
And here’s a link to the full store as told by Steve Miletich: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2015787564_dbcooper01m.html
Originally published May, 2001
It is officially Summer at Magnolia Manse. I know it is May, and the Season begins in June, but my children are out of school for two months and three weeks and that makes it summer.
This week I traveled to Chattanooga with my eleven year son, Matthew, on his class trip. We wandered the aquarium examining the fishes, telling each other everything we knew about every fish we saw.
This child is mine
This child of mine who I love so much it makes me ache, bounces up occasionally to kiss me, “I lazhu” he says, without embarrassment in our own ‘I love you’ language.
This child whose hair I would not cut until he was five because I loved the curls, and then cried over his falling locks while his father took pictures.
This child who can shinny up a rope effortlessly, fly on a skateboard and make the most profound remarks, is mine.
When he was 2 and his brother 4, I was convinced I’d birthed aliens. They are such boys. I didn’t realize how soft and dainty I’d had things until they disrupted my world and brought me their magic.
Their father was a young, street smart tough guy from Boston who hid his tenderness well, protected it from examination because he couldn’t stand to reveal it.
I know I’m a different Mother to the young four than the older two
I have another son, older, from another marriage, from another lifetime, when I lived on another planet. His father is reserved, controlling, controlled. At least that’s my memory of him. We’ve been apart so long, I don’t know who he is now, but in that lifetime, when we were together, I was reserved and controlled (by him) and our children are light years different from the children I had with the Yank. I know I’m a different Mother to the young four than the older two. Not better, not worse, but different.
My oldest son once said, “You are tougher than my Dad. Stronger.” I haven’t told him yet that he’s wrong. That his father’s strength is deep within him, grown from his secrets and his history and mine is sought for anew every day.
I find it when they insist that I give it.
When a neighbor calls the police about my children skateboarding I’m told officially that it is against the law to skate on city property and now they can’t. The officer apologizes to my children and to me, but she’s made a big stink with the police department and he must respond and stop them. And warn me.
I’m in the midst of my attempt to NOT respond in anger to anything. My awareness that the flutter of a butterfly wing in Mexico can add to a tornado in Kansas . . . that the ANGER I put into the cosmic consciousness might be the generation of a bombing somewhere and I’m overcome with inadequacy. Indecision.
Keep your cat out of my yard too!
I go to her house to confront her because she’s told me in the past she would let me know when there is a problem, and now she’s gone to the police . . . but it is pointless. She tells me I should be driving them to soccer and swim lessons, and assorted other “this-is-how-I-think-you-should-raise- your-kids” advice (that I’ve heard from way too many other meddling people). When she goes off on the raising of my children, I resist the urge to tell her to get a life, and repeat, You need to mind your own business.
When she screams that I need to keep my cat out of her yard, too, and slams the door, I think I probably really didn’t get anywhere with that whole thing. As I walk from her house I see my children and that’s when I lose my temper. I shriek at them to “Get off Her Street!” They’re bouncing around me like winning players on the home team and I’m unhappy they’re there. But their jubilation changes my mood and as I stomp back home I think I may be okay.
Oddly enough, knocking on her door has strengthened my bond with my children.
Dinner on the deck lasts into the the night as we talk, light candles, build a fire in the chiminea. They are my island in this craziness I live, my salvation, my life. My reason.
Our relationships are all so complicated
With my older two we’re still working out issues and angers about our disappointment from that failed marriage. I’d like to think I’m big enough to have let go of old hurts, but there are still things that more than rankle.
I lost the friend he was because I couldn’t live with the man he was. Strangely, I still feel that loss. My oldest child, still teaching me how to be a mother, forces me to stretch and grow and tries not to let me know she finds my idea of adulthood completely abhorrent. She wants a house and a marriage, and I’m not ready for this one: children. And when I was her age, I did, too.
She thinks my yearning for Europe with just a backpack is unthinkable and my fly by the seat of my pants attitude for living excruciating.
She wants security and I can’t explain my knowing there is none. Not here.
She has great insights into the workings of other people’s minds, and actions and explains her alien siblings well. I don’t ask her definition or explanation of me. She called me “Martha Stewart on a Harley” once and since I like that, I don’t want more detail.
Sometimes I almost think I understand.
Mostly though, I revel in the wonder they bring me in the questions they ask and the moments I have when they rush up to me in a crowd with a kiss and “I lazhu.”
We, as Americans, have become so enamored with consumerism and fresh acquisitions, we cannot perceive the abundance with which we are surrounded.
In our need/want/desire for more, more, more, we overlook those things that if lost, would prove to be invaluable.
I, too, have fallen prey to the art of acquisition. Choosing “Retail Therapy” to treat the lack of a satisfying relationship with a soon to be ex-husband, I was more than willing to spend two weeks’ pay on a wool gabardine suit from Neimen’s and another $700 on a pair of Jimmy Choos.
The fact that I’d saved more than I’d spent was deemed irrelevant by the husband who refused me couples therapy (the ONLY thing we should have spent that money on).
In later years, having ended that marriage and yet another, and raising my children alone, I reached a level of affluence to which I’d never dared aspire. I did this by working with real estate investors and leading them safely and more important, legally, through the quagmire of financing real properties.
Being exposed to their wealth acquisition models, and like many others, convinced that owning real estate was the road to wealth, I began my pursuit of rental properties. I had a long-term plan that was fueled by my experience with other investors and my knowledge of finance tools.
Had I begun in 2005 instead of 2007, I’d have accomplished my goal of retiring from that miserable business, residential mortgages, and have had a nice portfolio to place in trust for my children.
2008 changed my life-like a fight with a 900 pound gorilla and I’ve spent the last couple of years refining my idea of the truly important things in my life.
In no particular order these are the things that are worth more than any of my tangible accomplishments.
- the unconditional love of a child.
- the magic of the sunlight in the fall.
- the smell of sweet basil that persists in my herb beds even though it is the end of October.
- the beauty in the well-muscled gait of a horse.
- the wild cry of the red-tailed hawk that nests nearby every summer.
I’ve come to believe that more than anything we do in this world, the way we treat other people is the most important mark we’ll make on this earth. Something taught in Sunday School before you’re five, but in life, it seems seldom acted on.
Tomorrow, ten things you should know by now.
Is there any other reason (read that excuse) for his new flick, “Hot Tub Time Machine”?
I have that in his own handwriting, on a copy of the DVD High Fidelity that I bought off E-bay in a charity auction.
Evidently when you pay ridiculous amounts of money for a flick you already own (and don’t even like) Cusack is willing to anoint you “his biggest fan”. Look closely, there it is on the left . . . in his own hand. “To Trace, My Biggest Fan”
I’m certain to lose my crown if he reads this piece.
There may be some die-hard Cusack Fans who remember the Cusack Cult Website I had when I was really infatuated with all things Cusack . . . I had every Cusack movie up to 1408. I lived on e-bay and amazon to make sure that I had all his vids.
I reviewed each and every one. Lots of them were stinkers, but I really liked some of them: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and Grosse Point Blank, which he co-wrote and co-produced.
And, I really liked America’s Sweethearts, for which many of his fans derided him as a sell out.
As proof of my ‘cultism’ I’ve written two screenplays for Cusack (The Neptune Man and NightWindWoman); I tried to talk his publicist into an interview for the website for at least a year, complete with a fax of every review I wrote about him, and other seemingly encouraging words to get that damn interview. (Long story, maybe later); I even bought a copy of The Davinci Code for him, and shipped it off to his production office with instructions that he had to do the film.
(Oh yeah, one can find ways to become incredibly annoying to other people.)
And, of course, he didn’t, Tom Hanks did, and then went on to do the sequel (crappy, by the way) Angels and Demons.
Really, Johnny, my advice is good . . . Tom Hanks, duh, is not doing stinkers like Hot Tub.
Somewhere along this point in the timeline Cusack got an injunction against a stalker, and I had friends who told me they literally were afraid to click the links to the articles because they were sure I’d finally pissed the guy off! I disappointed them . . . she was not me.
Not even close. I’d read some press he’d done about people on the internet (trust me it wasn’t complimentary) and I was more than a little agitated about the run around I got from the publicist who referred me to someone else, to schedule my interview, and they blew me off.
Why the hell didn’t the publicist blow me off?
I was bummed, irritated at the run around, and lost interest in the site, not to mention Cusack.
I did get one of his more recent flicks, Martian Child, which died when it was released, but it was a really, really sweet movie. Based on a true story (I’ve read) the only truth that Cusack wasn’t willing to emulate in the flick was the author’s homosexuality. NOT going to do the Gay thing, (Too close to the truth, Johnny?) he had the script re-written for a straight guy who wanted to adopt a child. Honestly, it would have been more believable if he’d left it alone. I’ve never met a straight guy who would have gone to so much trouble with a troubled kid, and been so good at it.
And, Dammit, that was the real story.
Watch it. Rent it. Netflix it, or buy it at Amazon. It is really good, it has Amanda Peet, who I love, and it is a good, sweet movie.
But this, Hot Tub Time Machine? Are you f~~n kidding me??
I am reminded of a friend from long ago, Buddy Maxwell, whom I met after he left the Marines just after Viet Nam. He was/is a bubbly fun guy with an engaging, entertaining personality. Off the wall, sometimes, and this would be that. But he had an expression that comes to mind about this movie.
Not that I would use that phrase, mind you, but I will borrow it for this review, because there is no other way to describe how bad this movie is.
Surely the man is completely out of money.
And, likely to stay that way.
POSTSCRIPT 4.25.12 The Raven
I’m planning on seeing the Raven as soon as it hits town, perhaps Johnny will have redeemed himself with it.
Download this post, or listen to it here.
© 1999 t gregory
all rights reserved
There were once, in this land, great nations of people the white man called Indians. Among themselves they had respected cultures and their own names. The Cherokee lived in the East and were an educated, farming people, with their own alphabet. Before they walked the Trail of Tears. The Sioux nation, a part of the larger Tetons lived in the West, beyond Missouri and to the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Each of these cultures was known as savage, when in fact they had a civilization that is still unknown to the white race. They considered it honorable to protect the helpless, aid the weak, feed the hungry. They treated their children with respect due a human being. There was no child abuse, there was not even physical punishment.
The Sioux were fierce warriors against other Indians who would take their food or occupy their land. And eventually against the white man for the same reasons. In battle, they left their mark on or about their victims as a warning to others who might think to steal from them.
Sometimes it was a Sioux arrow in the ground, or a missing scalp. And, sometimes, in a gesture of true hatred, and as a warning to his enemies, a Sioux warrior would rip the heart of a man out of his chest and offer it heavenward as thanks for his triumph.
© 1999 t gregory
all rights reserved
There was a volunteer fire department in Laramie, with one pumper. The burning cabin was far enough out of town that no-one was worried the fire would spread. Laramie’s volunteers hadn’t had much excitement lately, though, and when the alarm bell rang, they rushed to the fire house for entertainment as much as anything else. They rode to the smoldering ruins of the cabin, in cars and pickups, behind the pumper. Wetting the cabin down for practice (there was no saving it), they would refill the tank from the river in the morning.
“Think there’s anybody in there, Jeb?” A tall man spat, then asked the fire chief.
“If there was, there ain’t’ now.”
The cabin was reduced to a blackened outline of the form it had been. Occasional rafters lay at angles from the roofline to the floor making odd geometric shapes. The stone fireplace rose from the rubble unscathed, the chimney pointing to the sky, oddly exposed in the moonlight. And the ruin.
“Think we oughta poke around in there anyway? Just to make sure? Old truck’s still parked under the tree there.”
“Who lived here, Jeb?” asked another.
Jeb ignored Tom Blake’s questions and answered the second man. “Della and that good for nothing Barnes from upriver. Had a young-un, too. Little girl, I think.”
“Think there’s bodies in there, Jeb?” Blake asked again, ghoulish in his eagerness to find carnage.
“They’re a might crisp if there are, Tom. You aimin’ to go in there pokin’ around them coals?”
“No. Thought I’d wait’ll it cools.”
“Uncle Jeb! There’s been riders here tonight!” A boy, fifteen or sixteen, broke into the circle of men, interrupting them in his excitement.
“What’s that you say, boy?”
“There’s been riders — eight or ten looks like — they took off west. One of ‘em went through the woods alone, you can see where he crashed through the branches.”
“Riders? Branches? Teddy, where do you come up with this stuff, boy?” his uncle put him off.
“I’m learning to track, Uncle Jeb, and there’s been horses here tonight,” the boy insisted.
“Tonight? How would you know that?” Blake interjected, in disbelief.
“Soft dirt. Moist, holds the print. Uncle Jeb, we’ve messed up a lot of them with the pumper and all, but they tore in here and tore out. In a hurry!”
“Onliest people around here who would ride at night is the Sioux, Jeb,” one of the volunteers remarked a little shakily.
“Aw, they wouldn’t be this far afield at night . . . and on horses!” another strove to reassure the others (and himself).
“That Della, she’s from the reservation. She left with Barnes three, no four years ago.”
“I bet it was a raiding party, Uncle Jeb. I bet it was!” Teddy still seemed the only one pleased with the thought.
“Teddy, you read too much — a raiding party! This is the ’40′s. Them Indians have been peaceful 50 years or more.”
“That one rider, Uncle Jeb, he followed someone into the woods. I saw the footprints. He was riding alongside ‘em. Then they disappeared. The woman’s prints. Like she was snatched up!”
“Teddy, that’s enough of that! We’re turning this over to the Sheriff. Tom, you want to dig in them ashes, you come back with Sheriff Tate. Anybody’s in there, can wait till morning.”
“Uncle Jeb. . .”
“Hush, boy! I’m goin back to town. And you’re goin home,” he cut Teddy off.
They climbed back into the odd assortment of cars and trucks and made a great commotion turning around to go back to town. The boy, Teddy, tried his best to keep them off the hoof marks he’d discovered in the half-light of the moon, to no avail. After an early morning shower even the prints of the woman and the horseman who’d chased her down were obscured by rain and falling leaves.
Teddy was back with the Sheriff when the rain cleared off the next morning, knowing his evidence was most likely gone. Tate was greatly relieved. He wanted the pension that came in another two years. The idea of a problem with the Indians now seemed an obstacle to that monthly pittance that could stand in his way forever.
Tall, thin Tom Blake was back too, even more eager in the daylight to search for bodies.
“Honestly, Tom, somebody’d think you got paid for bringing bodies in to bury.” The Sheriff waved him into the debris.
He stepped gingerly, afraid that there might still be coals even after the rain. It was a small place, one big room really: a sleeping corner, a table in front of the fireplace where the stones were still standing.
Teddy watched a moment or two and started into the cabin’s ruins behind the lanky Blake.
“You, young ‘un, stay out of the way there!” the sheriff called, but it was half-hearted and the boy knew he could proceed.
The bed was empty, he saw, picking his way through the rafters.
“Fire probably rolled right out of the fireplace and caught a rug or something. After that the place went quick.” Looking around, Blake called out, “Lookit this! A bottle of whiskey. Still got some in it! Musta been drinking himself to sleep and didn’t notice the fire.”
At the time Teddy’s eyes caught sight of a charred hand, Blake was lifting the remains of a table next to it. “Sometimes hard to distinguish remains in a fire, son,” he said, of a mind to impress Teddy. “Not a pretty sight when you find ‘em either.”
He groaned with the weight of the table and when he’d moved it he looked from Teddy to what was left of Barnes slowly and incredulously.
“Table musta kept the fire offa him, ‘cept for that hand, what’s left of it.”
The boy looked at Barnes, eyes wide as saucers. “Where’d all that blood come from,” he asked, aloud and of himself. Blake gaped as the boy pulled Barnes’ shirt away from his chest, slowly at first and then with some strength as it was stiff and board-like from the bloodstains.
“Lord above, Boy!” the man gasped as they looked in a great gaping hole in the man’s chest. “Where’s his heart?”
As one uses Feng Shui to balance and harmonize home and work environments, the purpose, as I have come to understand it, is truly to balance one’s mind, body and spirit. . . to embrace spirituality, to encounter God.
The Bible tells us to make our homes a Holy place, where everyone who enters will feel safe and welcome . . . Where Angels would choose to come.
Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?
Perhaps that is what we are to do. Offer our share of heaven and our spiritual experience with everyone we meet.
As we “feng shui” our homes, our work, our lives, we are giving physical form to those thoughts and prayers of what we want our homes, work and lives to be and become. The things we do (hanging wind chimes and decorating with certain colors) don’t cause the things we want to happen; and the “chi” energy we release isn’t some magical thing that comes up from the earth and grants all our wishes.
The chi energy we seek to encounter is that connection with God that makes all things possible; and the wind chimes we hang, the special colors we use are the reminders to ourselves that this is our purpose. They are a reaffirmation of our faith and our goals.
They are also a statement to those who know and understand feng shui that we have chosen to pursue a path of enlightenment; they are an invitation to come with me, come with me … come with me now!