I have been neglecting you dear readers but I have some news and reflections and such for you today, Dear Ones. Like the solar system, my life seems to run on an elliptical trajectory. When bodies orbiting the sun are closest to it, they move more rapidly. On the outer pass, slow, baby, slow. I’m at perigee now.

I am with the children and Kindest Man and his family on beautiful Chincoteague Island, one of my favorite places on the planet. In the early morning we drove to Assateague Island National Seashore before sunrise to confirm the existence of God. It looked like this:

God. (Image creds to Sissy.)

Sissy, again. She’s good with a camera, no?

We have house sitters so if you happen to be a would-be robber, don’t bother.

I started this post last night on the Fourth of July. It was after a stunning sunset and after everyone was mostly settled. I sat on the dock and there were fireworks in the distance. I could hear them over the water and then I looked and could see them blossoming far away. I was reminded of Midwestern Independence Days long ago, the dysfunctional family cookouts and the fireworks displays in all the little towns on the long drives home. It’s good to be whole again.

Headlines, Dear Readers, I promised headlines:

MTSWW— He is a great guy. Yup, I love him. I do. Also I don’t want to do what one much-loved blogger and certain friends have encouraged me to do. I don’t want to eff him. (‘Eff’, in the verb form. Hat tip, Mama.) (Also, MTSWW appreciates Twain but he disses Shakespeare. There are a lot of layers of incompatibility and some of them involve roasting pigs whole.)

(Yeah, I love him and NOT in the I really want to have sex with him sort of way. I mentioned that, right?)

Also he bet $1 on the content of any comments, so win me some money, Dear Readers!

ZEEP— He did something really—cover your virgin ears—shitty. He stole something. I am prohibited from telling you much more. I can say that the clerk who called me “a good mother” for marching Zeep back into the store was a saint. I can say that Zeep is a better person for the experience.

“I am ashamed of what you did,” I said, crying.

He hated that.

“I want you to be proud of me,” he said quietly.

Part of the reason we are here is —well, it’s a long personal story and it involves NASA and Zeep. He gives plenty of food for a mother’s pride not just for a mother’s worry.

Ex and The Outlaws—There was an unfortunate exchange of emails with Ex’s sister in the aftermath of Ex’s visit. It all started when she sent a friendly and wholly condescending thank you which I could not have—and probably should have—ignored. She praised me for making such a nice visit for Zeep and expressed her appreciation that Ex and I could be civil to one another for the kids’ sake.

(A dragonfly just alighted on the screen of my laptop which was lovely.)

I responded with a lengthy email explaining that I have nearly always been civil toward Ex, even while he was throwing tantrums in front of the house. I didn’t stop there either.

What goaded me was this idea—oh let’s call it what it is: prejudice—that some people have. They think that in any high-conflict situation, there are two parties and it takes two to tango. Both parties must be responsible for the conflict, probably equally.  I got a note recently from a reader/friend asking what I was willing to do “to take the bitterness out….” Let me just be clear for everyone once and for all:  I CANNOT TAKE THE BITTERNESS OUT.

A tango is a beautiful dance with two partners dancing together. It is harmonious. What we have here is one partner consciously stomping on the other’s toes. If I could “take the bitterness out” I would have done so years ago. I have not been perfect, but God knows I’ve wearied myself trying. When I was upset with Zeep recently he told me that Ex and his sister had told him that “pissing people off is a family trait” that he “unfortunately inherited.”

“I don’t think so,” I said. “You have choices.”

“I know,” he said, “I’m not going to be like that.”

In my email response to Ex’s sister, I appreciated Ex’s new efforts at civility, even though he still takes no responsibility for the discord. I also expressed my frustration:

Regardless, your implication is either that I have had to let go of past grudges—say for [Ex's] abuse—or learned to ‘grin and bear it’—say for [Ex's] abject refusal to support the children despite losing in court three times, and the ongoing stress to the children of his on-again-off-again interaction including two years since his last physical visit. I do of course whatever I can for the children, including posing in that photo with [Zeep] and [Ex], but please appreciate that no amount of politeness and false grins does a thing to compensate for past and ongoing harm. This is a question of paternal responsibility, not bad manners, and [Ex] has deliberately all but failed. He has and is still committing serious wrongs that cannot be ignored in the name of comity. (Thanks to Kindest Man for the verbiage.)

I went on to appreciate that Ex didn’t drink during the visit even if he said his newfound sobriety was really for his “new sweetheart.” I expressed my hope that it ‘sticks’ and that he is finally getting the treatment and support he needs. I thanked Ex’s sister for her support of the children and for arranging and funding the visit. It was a polite note but it was not well received.

She wrote that I had dashed her hopes of continued civility. Did I mentioned that I have been almost unfailingly civil since the end of the initial litigation? (The notable exception being the day Ex injured Little Man and that was a brief tirade after which I gritted my teeth and regained composure and was perfectly dignified.)

I replied that she was rude which was true but shouldn’t have been said. Anyway, they got some nice photo ops out of their visit.

The StormLike much of the rest of the country, we had a storm in the DC area last week. It wasn’t a little storm. It was a derecho—a straight wind storm or land hurricane and it was scary. It downed trees and knocked out power around the region. When we left there was still an enormous tree blocking one of the main roads. Men from the neighborhood had worked all day with saws to try to remove the tree to no avail.  They finally gave up and resolved to wait for the county to come with their big equipment. It may still be there.

It reminded me of another other derecho I experienced. I was eight months pregnant with Zeep. Ex and I were living on a rambling and rundown farmstead just inside the city limits of our small Midwestern college town. Ex was in law school and he had taken his bicycle to class. Storm sirens sounded even though it was a perfectly clear, if stiflingly hot, afternoon. I was puzzled and walked out the front door to look at the sky and I saw the darkness coming fast. I snatched up three-year-old Sissy and ran for the cellar steps. The dog and cat had already wisely retreated. The wind slammed into the house before we made the landing. I heard glass break as I ducked through the door into the cold damp cellar. The power went out and I sat on a stored cooler holding my daughter tight in my lap in the darkness as the house rumbled, water seeped in through the walls, and the dog whined from somewhere deeper in the cellar. I sang to my daughter for a full fifteen minutes and then, as suddenly as the storm had hit, it was eerily silent. We emerged to find the carpet and furniture drenched—I hadn’t had time to close the windows. The heavy patio furniture was gone and windows were broken. I began to clean up as I worried over my then-husband’s safety. Twenty minutes later, Ex was at the door, covered in mud.  He had bicycled home through the fallen trees, debris, and downed power lines. He hugged me as though it was for the last time. Symbolically, it was. Zeep’s birth was a few weeks later and it heralded Ex’s betrayals and long decline.

The hole. (There was no caution tape the night of the fall.)

Last Saturday the boys and I walked to a nearby pizza place. Much of the neighborhood remained without power. The heavy rains had eroded the ground beneath the bricks around a storm drain. On the darkened streets I stepped on a loose brick and I fell into a hole. It was entirely unlike Alice’s adventures. It was a lucky fall, nothing was broken but I scraped up my legs pretty bad, lost my shoe—which Kindest Man later retrieved—and sat bleeding on the sidewalk for awhile.  We delayed our departure by a day to give me an extra day to recover and it has been tough to keep the wounds clean while at the shore but I am healing.

I am healing, body, mind, and spirit. Life is good and you know, Readers, there was a time when I didn’t think it would ever be good again. I hope it is good for you, too. If it isn’t and you are doubting, as some of you surely are, that it will ever be good again—I hope with all my heart that it will be and it will be soon.


12 comments to Headlines

  • WOW! You love him, eh? Well, well, well! Good for you! I don’t think I was one of the blatent “f” him gals, but I am chuckling at the roasting a whole pig comment as that was a tradition on one side of my family for many years. Sorry to hear of the conflict, but good for you standing up to Ex’s sister. I agree that it doesn’t always take two as so many want to repeat. Personally I find those pushing it in my face the most are those that don’t want to see the wrong they and theirs have done while I’m openly admitting my wrongs and reparing them. The high road is so often a hike not a stroll, right? So glad I have you clearing the path for me (although without blood would be preferred). Heal fast, dear one!
    Melissa D recently posted..ConflictedMy Profile

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  • Liadan

    OMG…I live 40 minutes from where you are. Come visit! I can guess why you are at Wallops. Hope Zeep has fun.

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  • Loved reading this, Annie. You deserve much happiness.
    Pauline Gaines recently posted..I Must, I Must, I Must Increase My BustMy Profile

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  • Wonderful to discover you.. absolutely agree with you feeling your sister in law ex was in the wrong.. there are many times when it is truly just one person that makes the dynamic off kilter, so good on you. I am glad you are healing from that miss step on the pavement, it looks like a quite deep hole and where you could easily have broken your leg!! All the best from across the pond.. j

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  • Good god, what a post. “I cannot take the bitterness out.” Amen. I get it. In my gut, in my head, in my soul. Me either.

    F@#$ the sister-in-law. How dare she imply to Zeep that he’s doomed to be an asshat like EX.

    And if you don’t feel like getting physical with MTSWW, then don’t. Trust yourself.

    Best of luck to you with everything.
    Denise Emanuel Clemen recently posted..The State of Legal Writing TodayMy Profile

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  • Tyler Durden

    “MTSWW— He is a great guy. Yup, I love him. I do. Also I don’t want to do what one much-loved blogger and certain friends have encouraged me to do. I don’t want to eff him. (‘Eff’, in the verb form. Hat tip, Mama.) (Also, MTSWW appreciates Twain but he disses Shakespeare. There are a lot of layers of incompatibility and some of them involve roasting pigs whole.)

    (Yeah, I love him and NOT in the I really want to have sex with him sort of way. I mentioned that, right?)”

    Hi, it’s me. I’ve been pretty busy lately, silencing women’s voices, attempting to shout them down, using the patriarchy to soothe my own deep-seated feelings of inadequacy by opressing women and so on, so it’s been a while since I have checked in on this blog. I am certainly glad I did, however — it just gets more and more surreal.

    So, you allege to be an adult heterosexual woman. First of all, that’s increasingly hard to believe — I am drawn to the theory that this blog is written by some bored, very creative college kids.

    You have found a man. You say you love him. You write about it, and him. I have to confess that if my girlfriend wrote about us, I would be PISSED. But, let’s overlook that.

    However, despite giving him a really cute nickname, you will not have sex with him. And that’s okay with him?

    And you blog about that, too. And that’s okay with him also?

    Wow. I mean, words absolutely fail me. I mean, call me all the things you have already called me, but it’s kind of my understanding, no, policy, that a loving relationship between two mature, experienced, consenting adults should, in fact, must involve a healthy amount of what Keith Richards, God bless him, described as “boinky boinky boinky.” And not only don’t you do this, but you then WRITE ABOUT IT. Who would put up with either? And both? Wow. Again.

    And best of all, the cherry on top of this sundae of nuttiness, is that one of your stated reasons for this insane rule is that … hold on, folks … he doesn’t like Shakespeare. Who has been dead for almost four hundred years. I love that. Good thinking. Good reason.

    Keep up the good work. This just keeps getting more entertaining.

    P.S. Just to really bake your noodle, I have an honors English Literature degree from one of the top liberal arts schools in the country with a concentration in, yep, Shakespeare. And Milton. I’ve literally read everything the fucker ever wrote, except for some of the minor sonnets.

    P.P.S. Personal note to MTSWW: Uh, dude, at your age and situation, there are literally hundreds of interesting, smart, hot women out there who you can date and with whom you can actually have sexual intercourse on a regular basis. They like it. This is ridiculous.

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    • Well, hello “Tyler.”

      I have to admit I got a little thrill when I saw your name in the comment thread. What will that knave say next? You didn’t disappoint. Also I’m glad you have gone from “take this fucking site down” to “keep up the good work.”

      I must say, however, I am disappointed by your lack of sophistication in understanding love. You apparently think there is only one variety of love and it necessitates “boinky boinky boinky.” Your focus on sex is interesting. Of course men are only interested in one thing: getting their dicks wet. Without that, who needs love? (Um, no. It may well be, however, that you are exactly the sort of man whose boorish behavior gives rise to the prejudices that underpin such misandry.)

      You made some assumptions that were incorrect, but to be fair: I was deliberately vague. As I said, I do love MTSWW. I have no interest in hurting his feelings. I didn’t want to recite the long list of incompatibilities, the deal-breakers. To do so would violate MTSWW’s boundaries and mine. Either way, he and I are close and my life is richer for knowing him. I think he would say the same.

      Subtleties are lost on men like you, men who think that if a woman declines a sexual advance it is because she is either a lesbian or frigid. (I’m chortling over that one. Chortling is underrated. There should be more chortling in the world.)

      I am not sure what sort of women you spend your time with, but I am not the sort who trades sex for affection or love, nor am I the sort who would fall recklessly into bed with someone simply because he is interested in “boinky boinky boinky.” For pity’s sake, I am the mother of three kids, two of whom are teens. Propriety! I’m not looking for Mr. Right Now. I’m not looking for Mr. Right either, but if he happened by, I *might* be open.

      I have no doubt that MTSWW will find someone for romance and for fucking, too, if that is what he decides he wants. Whomever it is will surely be worthy. It’s gross to assume that either women or men should take whatever they can get, that they shouldn’t be choosy in who they “boinky boinky boinky.” (What? Are you even of legal drinking age?)

      It does not “bake my noodle” that you were—or perhaps are—an English major at “one of the top liberal arts colleges.” I am not surprised that your area of study is/was dead white dick-lit. It’s perfect, really, even if you made it up. No doubt it has informed your opinions on gender relations more than say, a study of modern sexual ethics. If yours had been a school slightly closer to the “top,” perhaps you would have correctly spelled oppressing. Then again, maybe not. I suspect words like that aren’t/weren’t part of your education at all which is rather a damned shame because you seem like a reasonably bright guy.

      What does “bake my noodle” is the cowardice of your anonymity.

      Such inordinate and low desires,
      Such poor, such bare, such lewd, such mean attempts,
      Such barren pleasures, rude society,
      As thou art match’d withal, and grafted to!
      (Da Bard, History of Henry IV, Part I, Act III, Scene 2)

      Speaking of Shakespeare, that was obviously not the reason MTSWW and I didn’t fall into bed. The reference was a personal gesture to him after a funny and flirtatious bit of sparring in which he called me bougie and after which he gave me a thick volume of The Complete Works of Shakespeare. (Sadly, I lost my first copy in the divorce.) Maybe you would like to borrow my new one to read those missed sonnets?

      You aren’t that bad, “Tyler,” really, as trolls go. Thanks for reading.

    • @Tyler: I’m sorry, anyone who calls sex “boinky boinky boinky” shouldn’t be doing it. I hope you don’t call it boinky during boinky.

      OK, you say you have a girlfriend who puts out. Well, bully for you. (Wait, didn’t you just say it would be crass to write that about someone in a blog?) Obviously this is important to you, whether for recreation or compensation. I am amused that your moniker is drawn from _Fight Club_, a film pervaded by homoerotic themes and populated by men preoccupied with their fear of emasculation … not to mention that Durden is a deeply pathological character. Hey, just sayin’.

      Don’t bother speculating whether Ms. BD delights in making the beast with two backs … and other beasts as well. The catch as I read it is that her libido for boinky requires more than access (which is so depressingly easy to get from men, many are oh-so-helpful in that way).

      It should go without saying that her cited disagreement about Shakespeare was simply a coy way of stating—without dissing or dissecting anyone—that the chemistry was lacking. That’s really the whole thing. For the right man, a chemical Vesuvius (optionally hung like a horse), I suspect she’d weather quite a lot of disagreement.

      On a serious note: she’s also recovering from a lousy marriage to a pindick pinhead with misogynist, violent, and Lolita tendencies (Nabokov, it’s next to Milton). She has covered all this elsewhere. So tread lightly lest you trample others with your chauvinistic cluelessness.

      You tell BD you’d like to “bake your noodle” but you’re too late, Ex did enough noodling. I suspect you’re thinking with yours. Dude, I don’t know MTSWW’s psychology or understand your “policy” of compulsory concupiscence but it IS possible for a man and woman to love without boinking. It doesn’t require abandoning the relationship even as you seek boinky elsewhere.

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