Monday, March 23, 2009

Pop Quiz

Trueself will not be posting for an as yet indeterminate period of time due to which of the following difficulties:

(a) non-life threatening, extremely annoying illness,
(b) a dead laptop,
(c) limited internet access from work,
(d) all of the above.

C’mon, take a guess.

Hint #1: No matter which one you guess you will be at least partially right.
Hint #2: Really? You need another hint after #1? Nope, sorry. If you didn’t get it from the first hint then, really, there is no hope for you.

Carry on.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Weekend Update

So how was my weekend with Drama and The Man? Well, I’ll start by saying it took me this long to recuperate enough to write a post about it just in case that gives you some idea.

And now to the details. What to tell first? Hmm. . . Okay, okay. You’re dying to hear about The Man so I’ll give you my impression of him. (Keep in mind this impression was formed within less than 48 hours of meeting him so accuracy is not guaranteed.) I like him. He seems like a solid, decent guy. He has a steady job. He has spent a good deal of time helping Drama get settled in her new place, putting up blinds and shelves and things. He seems genuinely nice, and he seems to genuinely care about Drama. Are they meant for each other in the long term? I don’t know. Only they can decide that as time goes by. What I do know is that they seem to mesh well with each other’s personalities. I give The Man my thumbs up approval to date Drama. (As if she needed my approval, but hey it’s good when the friends get along with the main squeeze.)

Drama’s new place is furnished in early modern cardboard boxes. Heh, heh. She’s only been there a couple of weeks and is still unpacking. She does have walking paths through the apartment, and if I didn’t have such an amply sized booty I probably could’ve walked around without bumping into things and knocking things over. Fortunately, I didn’t knock much over (and nothing breakable), and I had nothing at all to do with the curtain rods falling all on their own on Sunday. Drama was worried that the mess would bother me, but I thought the place looked as well as could be expected given the short time she’s been there and the lack of storage space in the apartment. She worries too much.

Of course, my visit did nothing to help the unpacking process. She spent Saturday entertaining me, taking me to lunch with friends from her workplace, and that evening taking me to dinner and later an Irish pub with her divorce support group friends.

I came away from the pub with these observations:
  • If you are a senior citizen it isn’t cute to spike your hair, wear skin tight clothes, and act like a teenage groupie over a band full of 20-somethings.

  • If everyone is staring at you when you’re the only one dancing, that does not necessarily mean you are being favorably judged by those staring at you.

  • Tact and manners is not your forte if you think it’s okay to try to wave over a band member, and upon being unsuccessful, walk over to him and ask "When is the f***ing music is going to start?"

  • There is a difference between making polite conversation and conducting the grand inquisition. Asking someone to tell you about their children is polite conversation. Asking someone if they know who the baby daddy is when told of a pregnancy is not polite conversation.

It’s nice when outings can be an educational experience.

We didn’t stay out late like last year when I visited Drama. We got home early, around 11:00 p.m. I think. That doesn’t, however, mean that the party was over. Drama, The Man, Drama’s best friend, and I played a card/board game until the wee hours of the morning. There may have been a wee bit of drinking while playing. There may also have been a wee bit of laughter, and some incredibly interesting conversation. All I can say is I will never again hear the phrase “I’m parched” without at least snickering and perhaps laughing right out loud. Also, I will never again follow five beers with three Buttery Nipples. I’m too old to be that wild anymore. I suffered the consequences, and I don’t care to have any repeat performances. I haven’t drunk that much since my college days, when I swore I’d never drink that much again. I’m renewing that vow now. Hopefully, I’m old enough and wise enough to keep it this time.

If you ever make it to the great state of Illinois (we aren’t all corrupt politicians here you know, in spite of how it appears) I highly recommend partying with Drama. That is one girl who knows how to live. Oh, and invite me too. I’d hate to miss out on a good time.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Meme: a Great Way to Avoid Posting for Real

1. How old do you look? Old enough to know better, young enough not to care

2. Where do you live? In a very strange little place in my own imagination.

3. Are you waiting for something?
Wisdom. Courage.

4. What’s one pet peeve of yours that is not common? People without compassion for the homeless people they step over as they walk down the street.

5. Do you want/have kids? Have one, would love one more, but that won't happen.

6. Have you ever thought about converting your religion? Nope, because my religion is as individual to me as anything could be. It has roots in mainline protestantism but is incarnate in me in a very individual and unique way.

7. Last shocking news you heard? W's huge credit card debt.

8. What was the last thing you drank? Coffee, black, just as God intended it.

9. Who do you most look like in your family? My brother, FU. It's pretty much the only thing we have in common.

10. If you could have something right now, anything, what would it be? Having the divorce finalized.

11. Where does most of your family live?
In their own strange little places in their own imaginations.

12. Where did you grow up? TV1, TV2, TV3, and ST2

13. Where do you want to go on vacation?
Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Australia, UK

14. Have you ever had a panic attack?
Yes, I've even blogged about some of them.

15. What can’t you wait for? My divorce to be final.

16. When’s the last time you told someone you loved him or her and meant it?
This afternoon

17. Have your parents ever smoked pot?
I find the entire notion laughable.

18. Want someone back in your life? Sigh. . . yes. FU to name just one.

19. What do you order at the bar?
Usually Jack & Coke

20. When was the last time you cried really, really hard? When W told me about his excessive credit card debt

21. Ever licked someone’s cheek?

22. What is your favorite thing to eat with peanut butter?
Apple slices

23. Where were you on July 4th, 2008?
At my parents' house.

24. What are your nicknames? I always wanted a nickname, but nobody ever gave me one.

25. If you could go back in time, how far back would you go? 1979 when I entered college so I could change certain decisions.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Out of Town. . . Again

I’m heading off tonight for my weekend with Drama up in the ‘burbs. Drama has been known to keep me out as late as 4:00 a.m. on past visits so there’s no telling the kind of trouble we might get ourselves into this weekend. Also, I get to meet The Man. What that tells me is that Drama trusts that both he and I are pretty normal, and that she trusts neither of us will freak out about the other. Also, what that means is I can give a full report back to the bloggers who care about our dear Drama so you know the scoop on her new guy too!

This is my third weekend in a row out of town. Although, for the most part, I have enjoyed, and will enjoy, my weekends away I am kind of looking forward to next weekend. Next weekend will be all about sitting in front of the TV in sloppy sweats watching March Madness (hope the NCAA doesn’t drop by and sue me for trademark infringement), the first round of the NCAA tournament. Yes, it will be nice to travel no further than the kitchen and bathroom during halftimes and between games instead of heading off to various Midwestern cities and sleeping in strange beds. (I understand, though, that I’ll get to sleep on Spongebob sheets this weekend so, you know, there is an upside to all this travel.)

Speaking of basketball, the Illini will be playing this evening in the Big Ten tourney without the benefit of their team’s backbone, Chester Frazier. Lips are tightly sealed around the circumstances, but apparently his right hand is “severely injured.” He may be out not only for the Big Ten tourney but the NCAA as well. That would be a shame. One wonders if tight lips are because the injury is the result of some youthful impetuousness on Frazier’s part. This year has seen little in the way of off court antics by the players. Maybe we just couldn’t make it through a whole season without it. I’ll be listening to the game on the radio as I make my way up to Drama’s place. If you happen to be out on the IL interstates this evening and see a middle aged woman driving down the road yelling and gesturing, that’d be me. I’m animated when I watch/listen to basketball games. Ask anybody who’s ever watched/listened with me.

Oh yeah, and it’s Friday the 13th again, for the second month in a row. That’s what you get for having one in February. Unless it’s a leap year you’ll have another one in March. I’m counting on having no ill fortunes today. (Hmm, perhaps those anti-depressant meds are working after all.) I am looking forward to a good start to a great weekend. No more Friday the 13ths until November. Just in case, you know, you cared.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Trueself’s Appalling Lack of Social Skills

Or Why Trueself has no Friends

The last few therapy sessions we have dealt with (as I sat with arms crossed in front of me; can you say body language?) my lack of friends. Perhaps you could have guessed that from some of my recent posts here. In addition, I attended a lecture last month at school on the topic of bullying. I shuddered a few times during the talk as I vividly relived memories from my childhood. What is amazing to me though is that during that lecture was the first time I ever got the message (it may have been said to me before, but I never got it before) that what happened to me as a kid was (1) completely wrong and (2) not my fault.

This particular topic can cause me more tears than almost any other. My perception of myself is that I am a complete and utter failure at being a friend. The conclusion I draw from that is that I am completely unlikable and not worthy of friendship. (Yes, I tend to overgeneralize a lot and always look on the negative side of things. What of it?) The truth of the matter is that I am so scared of being hurt by people that when friendship gets too close I immediately and definitively push it away. Better for me to push others away than risk being hurt one more time I always say. Thus I become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I expect to be friendless. I push friendship away. My expectation is met. Way to go Trueself!

Case in Point
Since moving to LNJ I thought I was developing a real close friendship with C, even named her my bestest best friend over there in the cast of characters on this blog. It seemed like that was where we were heading for a while. We did things together. We chatted occasionally. We had some good talks together. Then it started to close in on me, and I pushed away.

Now because she was my hairdresser we should have continued to see each other at least every 6 weeks or so for routine color and haircuts. However, due to my financial situation I gave up my salon appointments. I’ve let my hair go back to its natural color and let it grow out long and scraggly as I just can’t see spending money that I don’t have on vanity. Even though I explained to C my reason for not coming to the salon I suspect that she doesn’t believe me even though if she were to see my hair she would have ample evidence. So the combination of me pushing away plus being embarrassed at being able to no longer afford going to the salon means that I have lost a friendship that very much meant something to me, but I’m afraid to do anything about it for fear I can’t resurrect the friendship anyway.

Getting back to the point, and I might just have one in here somewhere if I look hard enough, I need to work on me to make things better. I need to work on me because I am the only one I can change. I can’t change anyone else (much as I would like to sometimes, particularly those of you who disagree with me) nor can I change anything that is in the past. All I can do is change me in the present. I can change my attitude. I can change how I react to people. I can change my self-talk (I loathe the psychobabble, I really do, so forgive my use of it here). I can change the things I think and say and do.

The fact of the matter remains however that I’d much rather change you than me. After all, if I could just change you and get you to see that I’m always right and know better than you and that things would be a lot better if you just did things my way then life would be grand. If I could just make you treat me the way I want to be treated, and never upset me, and never disappoint me, and never be mean to me, then we’d have no problem.

Yeah, well that ain’t happening . . . nor should it. My head is smart enough to know what a fallacy that kind of thinking is. My heart isn’t so sure it wants to give it up, but my head knows better. My heart tried to start an uprising against my head by instigating my other organs but they pretty much wanted to play Sweden and stay out of it. Actually my stomach was more interested in playing Mexico than Sweden, but I think that had more to do with guacamole, and perhaps margaritas, than anything else.

Have you noticed how I use humor to deflect things when I get too close to something uncomfortable for me? You have? Yeah, me too, and you’re right. The humor isn’t all that funny. Sorry.

Anyway, when it comes right down to it I fear that much of what I do to keep from having friendships is just due to downright appalling social skills. No, I don’t mean that I belch loudly and then laugh about it in public. I’m not quite that crude. I lack things that are more subtle than that. I lack an ability to read people, to know when they are approachable and when they aren’t. I lack the confidence to look people in the eye, or to say hello first, or to ask if I can sit at their table, or to invite them to join me. I have no idea how to introduce myself to strangers in such a way that will keep them from looking like they are annoyed at the intrusion. I have no idea how to join a conversation at a party. I have no clue how to behave in social situations other than to sit in the corner and try my best to disappear into the background. Now if someone is actually brave enough to try to penetrate the Trueself Force Field of Anti Social Behavior ™ they will likely find themselves chatting with the TS who will quite happily chat their ear off. TS will feel such relief at having someone to talk to that she will quite likely make quite the pest of herself to this kindhearted person until the person is aching to get away. Again with the appalling social skills! Now add to this my fear of actually letting people in if they can find a way to overlook all the lack of social skills and there’s just very little chance of me developing deep and meaningful friendships.

I think I should start with trying to hone my social skills. Until I feel confident that I am not a bumbling idiot in social situations I don’t think I can progress much further. After that, I can work on not pushing people away when friendships start to form.

BTW, it’s incidents like the one after the basketball game a while back that just send me into a tailspin wondering if I lack all sense of propriety. I have such a perception of my own lack of social skills that I immediately put the blame on me when interactions go awry. Thank you to those who commented and let me know that I wasn’t the problem in that situation.
Also, my lack of comments lately to your comments is all about me withdrawing, being afraid to engage and converse. I’m just riding through a tough moment in time right now, trying to claw my way into seeing myself as being okay. I’m trying not to push all of my readers away, but that is my natural tendency (see above for how I push friendships away) after all. It’s scary that there are a few of you out there who would actually agree to be called my friend (tears well up just typing that sentence). It’s scary to let you in.

Ask me sometime to tell you about the three friends I had who died within a relatively short time frame several years ago. It’s another piece to the puzzle of why I push people away.

I’ll bet Drama just can’t wait for my visit this weekend after reading this post. Don’t worry girl, I think I’m beyond the pushing away part with you. I already tried that, and for some crazy reason you stuck with me in spite of me. You just might be the closest thing I have to a best friend right now. If that doesn’t push you away, nothing will!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Random Thoughts from the Weekend

  • Changing to Daylight Savings Time sucks, particularly when you are already spending your weekend one time zone to the east of home.

  • It is not particularly pleasant to drive more than 150 miles facing head winds upwards of 40 mph

  • Having a particularly nasty headache that prevents you from sleeping much the night before can make both of the above items even less pleasant.

  • Flipping the bird to a jackass in a big ass truck blocking traffic by insisting on backing into a space into which his truck barely fit in the crowded parking lot of the basketball tournament and knowing he saw both the gesture and the nasty look on your face can be exceedingly satisfying, at least for a moment.

  • Having your son tell you “I wish I never had to spend time with you ever again” does not make you feel better about spending your weekend taking him to a (final of the season thankfully) basketball tournament 150 miles from home.

  • Dumping your son on your ex as soon as you return home so that you can take a nice long nap can make you feel better, at least a little.

  • Blogging about it so that the whole world knows just how shitty your weekend was can also make you feel better.

  • Now that basketball season is over, spring soccer is here. I think I now understand why my parents never encouraged us to play sports when we were kids. Well, lack of coordination and athletic skills may also have had something to do with it, but the travel and time commitment must have been at least a factor in it.

Friday, March 06, 2009


Accountants are used to the concept of reasonableness. It’s a concept that’s applied a lot in auditing and reporting. Often it’s what you do before sending a report out to someone: check it for reasonableness, making sure there isn’t something that looks glaringly out of place, too large, or too small.

It is interesting to me that W spent the better part of his career as an auditor, and yet somehow in his own personal financial matters he doesn’t seem to use a standard of reasonableness in any way. When I met him he was several thousand dollars in debt on his credit cards, making minimum payments and continuing to spend as though he had money. I wouldn’t marry him until the credit cards were completely paid off, and he promised that we would not live beyond our means but charge only what could be paid off monthly. A couple of times in all our years together I agreed to charge things and pay over time, once when it was some expenses related to the adoption. I don’t remember what the other was for but I’m pretty sure there was a second time, perhaps when we bought furniture for our first real house after moving from the mobile home. Anyway, in more than 20 years together we paid very little interest to any credit card companies. I just don’t spend my money that way.

Apparently when W moved out (at my insistence as he likes to point out) he decided that he was completely free to do all the things I’d prevented him from doing up until then. He was always wanting to get involved in the latest get rich quick scheme, always looking for the easy money that he knew was just waiting for him if only he could invest in this, that or the other thing. I, on the other hand, am old school, a child of parents raised in the Depression who taught me that you don’t go into debt, and you don’t invest in risky things. You may get a lower rate of return, but money in CDs in FDIC insured banks will still be there when you need it. While we were together the only money W could use for his risky “investments” was the monthly income he received from the trust his mother set up for him before she died. (Yes, his mother knew him well. I believe she left him a monthly stipend rather than a lump sum to prevent him squandering it all at once.) Once we were no longer together W was free to “invest” to his heart’s content, and he did in one internet enterprise after another. He was involved in several “businesses” and was sure he was going to make money on them, except he had to pay for expensive start up costs. He could have never done it with me around, but with his freedom he was able to charge what he needed to on his credit cards convinced he would soon be making all the money he would need to pay back what he had borrowed. Oh yes, he’d show me just how wrong I’d been all those years that I held him back.

However, the longer things went on the more obvious it became even to W that he was making no money on these enterprises. Well, actually he made a grand total of $35. Let’s see. $35 on a $70,000 investment, a 0.05% return on the investment. Hmm, not sounding so good, is it? So now, embarrassed, broken, and broke, he confesses it all to me. He was anxious for me to know, though, that he has shut down all his businesses, and there will be no more money going towards them. To what purpose did he make this confession? Well, it all came out during a argument discussion we were having over divorce settlement issues. It all came out because he was pushing on me to get the refinancing completed prior to the divorce being finalized. I was pushing back that I was having a difficult time getting refinancing in my name alone as long as the divorce wasn’t finalized.

One of the sticking points also to the divorce settlement is child support – he doesn’t think he ought to pay it because it was my choice to divorce not his so I should have to be solely responsible for N’s support. I don’t get his logic, and I know he can’t legally bow out of child support. However, he is choosing to make it a sticking point.

So now that I’ve had time to digest the information and get over the initial brain freeze that occurred just by the mere mention of the amount of the debt, I’m set to return to the negotiating table. My proposal will be that I will get a loan from my parents as they had offered so we don’t have to wait for the finalization of the divorce, and instead of paying him his full share of the equity in the house that I’ll pay him his share less the present value of the child support he will owe until N turns 18. That way he won’t get enough to completely clear his debt, but he can either negotiate a lower settlement with the credit card companies or at the very least pay them down to a level where he will have a better shot at paying them off eventually, and I will not have to compete with creditors and “investment opportunities” for child support for N as I will have gotten it up front and will leave him alone about it. The alternative if he insists on his full share of the equity is that he will have to wait for the divorce to be finalized for me to pay him his share, and I will pursue child support through the court and have it garnished out of his pension checks (something I know he doesn’t want me to do).

The silver lining to all of this is (a) he and I always kept separate credit cards in our individual names only so I am not a party to either of the cards on which he has balances, and (b) he filed a quit claim deed this week giving me sole ownership to the house as even he didn’t want to see it compromised by his debts.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

So Livid I Haven’t Even Been Able to Rant

Yes, once again W managed to upset me to a level that put me into an emotional shitstorm the last few days.

I still can’t rant. The words don’t come. I’m speechless and beside myself. I sit here trying to write, and there are no words.

Let’s just leave it at this:
While I have
(a) stopped going to the hairdresser altogether because I can’t afford it, and
(b) scraped to find the money to keep N on his sports travel teams, and
(c) resorted to buying off brand toilet paper and feminine hygiene products,
all to keep my finances under control how was W contributing to the economy? W was busily running up $70K in credit card debt on various work from home get rich quick schemes. There are so many ramifications to this, just so very many things that it impacts.

Sigh. . .

I’ll be back when actual words return to my brain.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Weekend Highlights and Lowlights

We took the train to the City. Riding the train is fun. It is very relaxing, you get to watch the world go by as you travel, and security is not as ominous as with air travel.

On the other hand, although I left my winter coat on for the entire train ride to Chicago I was cold. I got very chilled, as in chilled through and through. Once we arrived at our hotel I had a very difficult time warming up and eventually climbed into bed fully clothed and pulled all the covers up around me trying to warm up. Finally I lay there long enough (and napped even) that I warmed back up and was comfortable again. I’m not sure why I’m so susceptible to getting over chilled, but it does happen to me repeatedly. Don’t even suggest I get my thyroid checked. Every doctor I’ve been to in the last twenty years has checked my thyroid because of my coldness and weight and deemed my thyroid function perfectly normal. I sometimes wonder if low blood pressure may impact feeling cold, but I don’t know. After the fact, I thought that a good hot shower would’ve probably warmed me quicker, but I didn’t think of it at the time.

Friday night we had stuffed pizza from Eduardo’s for dinner. It was the best stuffed pizza I’ve ever had. I used to think Giordano’s was best, but that was before I tried Eduardo’s. If you’re ever in Chicago you really should try Eduardo’s stuffed pizza. It is excellent. As luck would have it, Eduardo’s happened to be right across the street from our hotel so not even my being overly cold hampered us from enjoying it as BJ went over and got it and brought it back to our room. Room service! At least for me.

Saturday we spent much of the day at the Art Institute. We lucked into going on the last day of Free February at the Institute making it less egregious paying for the overpriced lunch we had in their café. I love looking at original paintings admiring the various techniques and looks that artists can achieve through different mediums and different canvases. I love seeing the exhibits at the Institute that show styles of furniture from various eras. I am endlessly fascinated with the intricate hand carving that went into fine furniture in the past. I am also fascinated by sculpture and the exquisite detail that is included in much of it. I’ve only been to the Art Institute twice and haven’t come close to seeing all that is there. It is one of my favorite things about Chicago.

Saturday evening was dinner at P.F. Chang’s. I know, I know, it’s a chain, but it is one of my favorites, and I hardly ever get to eat there. BJ agreed that it was an excellent choice. I had two Mai Tais with dinner leaving me quite pleasantly buzzed, perhaps teetering on the brink of drunk, or perhaps drunk enough to be really, really happy.

Fortunately, I awoke on Sunday morning without a hangover. That was a blessing because I don’t think I’d have taken the train ride home very well if I had been hung over. For some reason, the train ride home seemed bumpier than the train ride to Chicago. Perhaps going the opposite direction we were on a different bumpier track. This time I didn’t get chilled. I don’t know if the train was warmer on Sunday, or if I was different than I had been on Friday. Aunt Flo made herself well known yesterday on the train, as I was overtaken by the flooding of the Red Sea. I sure wish that could have held off until today, or at least until yesterday evening, but one doesn’t always get what one wants. Also, Aunt Flo? She’s never been that great at coordinating schedules with me. Actually, she really seems to like going on vacations with me, and often has ever since I was a teen, so perhaps she’s actually quite the expert at coordinating schedules. God bless her.