With my new schedule I only have one three day in a row stretch and it starts Saturday - today. Used to be, in my old job, that the day before three in a row was a complete loss because I dreaded the next day so badly. That's not the case anymore, thank goodness, and the day before the work run starts is just another day. A pretty good one, even.
The younger boys are with their dad for the weekend, Sasquatch is out and about with his friends, and I had the whole night tonight to get to a few things that I haven't been able to do with kids around. It has been a really nice evening, but now it's time to get to sleep and rest up for tomorrow.
What are the odds of my good luck streak continuing?
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
The Internet is a really interesting thing. And while for the most part the Internet greatly adds to my quality of life, there are times it gets a little odd.
Case in point:
The FX spent last night in the cardiac evaluation unit of my hospital. He called me yesterday to tell me he was having chest pains and to ask my advice on what to do. I asked him a few questions and then told him that my advice was to Go Straight To The ER. He didn't want to do that. I asked him a few more questions and then repeated the Go Straight To The ER advice. He clung to the heartburn theory. I told him to take some Mylanta and if it didn't get any better ASAP to Go Straight To The ER, or, if he still felt stubborn, to go have an EKG done at our doctor's office at the very least. He took both the Mylanta and the EKG advice, and then called me later leaving the doctor's office to tell me that the doctor had told him to Go Straight To The ER. Jeez. It's not like this was the first chest pain I've ever seen. I'm about at the point where I can triage in my sleep.
Bottom line - he called me at ten last night to tell me that they were admitting him for observation. Labs and EKG looked okay, but he's got some crappy risk factors and some health issues that are not in his favor. He called me from his room, on his cell phone, with his laptop by his side.
And this is where the weirdness started. For the entire duration of our marriage, I was the one who communicated. I kept in touch with his family, I bought his mother's birthday and Mother's Day gifts, I called to let people know when anything especially good (or bad) happened. Even when we lived thirty minutes away from them, I was the one who took the kids to visit, and I was the one who built really solid relationships with his family - relationships I am assured continue to this day, despite the change in our marital status. As his mother said to me last week, "I'm almost 70 years old. You are my daughter. I'm not about to shake things up now." As happy as I was to hear that, it put me in a very weird spot last night.
See, I really felt that it was his responsibility to let his family know what was going on. Not mine. His. I told the kids, because Surfer Dude put on his big bionic snooping ears while we were on the phone at one point and I had to come clean. But the rest of his family - no matter how dear to me - needed to be told by him, as far as I was concerned. He had his phone. He had his laptop. California is two hours behind us. He had the means and he had opportunity.
And he didn't utilize either. But he did post a status update on Facebook, which his sister saw. (This is the sister who is the closest thing to a sister I'll ever have. And she and I are on the same page about virtually everything FX related). She then told his mom who posted her own status update, saying basically how fricking dysfunctional is this, that I have to hear this on Facebook? His sister and I then exchanged private messages where I said, Hey, I love you all to bits, but this is HIS responsibility. (The whole Facebook thing is weird to start with. Two of his sisters just joined, and they pulled his mom in. They all three friended me, which is great. But they also all three friended him, which is weird. It's a thin line in terms of privacy between the FX and I and I'm not sure what I think of it. When his mom sent me a friendship request, I accepted it, but made sure she knew that I might say things about her son from time to time that she might not be thrilled with).
He's fine, anyway. No cardiac issues, just a more pressing need to address some health problems he has been in deep denial over. And I'm sure he's talked to his mom by now and all is well. But I spent part of today feeling like I should feel guilty that I didn't take care of this for him and then feeling bad because I couldn't even make myself feel guilty about it. It's not my job anymore. He's a big boy. He can run interference for himself.
One little note before I move on - and this has absolutely nothing to do with the Internet in any way, shape or form. I do believe that the FX is a much nicer and more trusting person than I am. Either that or he's self-absorbed to the point of being comatose. Because if the situation had been reversed, there would have been no way in hell you would have gotten me into that ER. I would've driven to the next hospital thirty minutes over, because I don't think he fully understood what hostile territory he was venturing into. I'm not saying his medical care wasn't top notch. But these are the people who have seen me coping on a day in and day out basis over the last year, the people who have become a huge part of my life, and let me just say that he doesn't have many fans there. When I mentioned to my boss during my review that he had called asking for advice on his chest pain, she said "What did you tell him to do? Eat a hot dog and go mow the lawn?"
Back to the Internet, I've wondered today how we ever gathered information in the dark ages pre-web. I tried an experiment today. I casually asked a couple of people if they knew hot tax fix-it guy, including one of my friends who I was sure would. She didn't. But now she wants to meet him too. Sigh. (This is not a huge town, but it's not tiny, either). I'm leery of asking too many people since a) it's not my style and b) I'd be guaranteed a big ol' butt bite somehow. So I got on-line, and in about fifteen minutes nailed down the info I wanted.
In the right age range.
Single. And looking.
And a picture proving that my eyes were working just fine yesterday even as my lungs struggled for air.
Gotta love those open social websites.
Damn the Internet.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
This was not a day I was particularly looking forward to. There were too many meetings, too much uncertainty, too much interaction with the FX in a forced civility sort of way. Surfer Dude's school conference was looking to be a no-stress situation, but the first tax filing post divorce was a little unnerving, especially with splitting kid deductions and mortgage interest and all those other fun things that are guaranteed to make peacefully divorced people squabble. In the end, nothing at all today worked out the way it was supposed to. Odd thing is that virtually everything came out better. Whoa. April Fools Day is a month off. What gives?
First off was the guy who did my taxes. Damn. The man was hot. And exactly my type. Not that I'm looking, mind you. But I do have a type. Not that it matters, mind you. But if I was looking and it did matter, he was my type. To a Tee. He even laughed at my jokes (and not my gross income). Hot tax man got even hotter when it turned out that he has his own handyman/house repair business, and he whipped out a card and said, "I'm hoping you want one of these."
Well, hell, I know he's only drumming up business, but damn. Have I mentioned the man was hot? Would he look even hotter patching plaster? Repairing staircase spindles? Replacing the light fixture in the computer room that the FX pulled out a year and a half ago and couldn't figure out how to get back in?
Is it warm in here, or is it me?
Then there was my annual performance review at work, which went so well that I almost felt like I was being Punk'd. I guess handing out twenties to all the charge nurses really does help. When my boss read back some of the peer reviews I honestly thought for a minute that I might burst into tears, but I didn't. I don't want to look all puffy in the eyes if hot tax fix-it guy finds an error on my return and out of the goodness of his heart decides to hand deliver it and give me an estimate on my foundation at the same time. Be prepared, that's my motto.
Off to Surfer Dude's conference, which produced a bright, shiny row of A's. And a teacher who is determined to place him in advanced math and English classes next year in Junior High. Now, I have experience with the gifted English classes from my older two kids, but math? In this family? Maybe the Punk'd crew was following me all day? Could there be any other explanation for this?
In between these things, I ran four miles, had a lovely, sunbathed catch-up chat with a dear friend on the playground while our boys ran around taking advantage of a gorgeous warm day, shuttled Gumby and Sasquatch all over town, and finally collapsed in front of the television with SD and a Strawberry Blonde beer - my new favorite.
It may not have been the quietest "day off", but it sure had its moments.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
What kind of a pinhead schedules the appointment with the tax guy, her annual job performance review and her youngest kid's parent/teacher conference all within a five hour period?
And then has to spend the night before frantically rounding up necessary paperwork for both the tax guy and her boss?
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Surfer Dude and a couple of his friends are members of the brand new Engineering Club at their Elementary School, and last week there was a competition held at the college right up the road. They all entered in a couple of categories, but the Egg Drop was the one that made the biggest splash -at least around here.
I'm sure you're all familiar with the Egg Drop. You take an egg and rig it into some kind of contraption that keeps the egg from breaking when you drop it from a certain height. Early last week there were four boys in my house in feverish preparation for the event. They each showed up on my doorstep clutching a dozen eggs and then disappeared into SD's bedroom to work out the kinks. They were engrossed, they were diligent...they were quiet. I chalked the silence up to an overactive sixth grade work ethic and went about my business.
That was my first mistake.
I was in the kitchen putting dinner together when I heard the sound of something hitting the patio outside with a big gushy splat. When I stuck my head out the back door to check it out, I almost got beaned by an egg hurtling way too fast toward the brick patio. I looked up briefly and then jumped back into the safety of the doorway as it began to rain eggs all around me. Four boy's heads peered out of the only screenless window in Gumby's room and watched intently, hoping (futiley) that one of the eggs landed intact. Meanwhile, three dogs peered intently out of the open screen door and as if they were one, bolted out for a little pre-Easter egg collection. I have mentioned they're Labs, right? Before I could get them rounded up, they had each wolfed down more than their fair share of raw eggs. Pieces of eggshell clinging to their muzzles, I corralled them in the house and went to have a word with the Egg Beaters. They sat upstairs, dejected. Forty eight eggs dropped and forty eight eggs broken. It didn't look like this was going to be such a hot event for them, although no complaints were heard from the canine corner.
Forty eight hours later, cleaning up yet another doggie present from the double ended GI Upset Store, I thought they should change the name of the event. The Egg Drop didn't do it much justice. It wasn't a fear of broken eggs that kept us from walking barefooted through a dark room without turning on a light.
Is Cause and Effect even an engineering term?
Monday, February 23, 2009
Okay, this is the last one - I swear. I even pinkie swear. With peanut butter fudge and maraschino cherries on top. I mean it this time. I thought I was done, until I read something that made me change my mind.
This is an awful story, and I'm just as horrified by it as the next guy, but it really strikes a note with me in light of recent events. An eleven year old boy in Pennsylvania has been accused of shooting and killing his father's pregnant fiancee as she slept in the house they all shared, along with her two children from a previous relationship. Various family members have been quoted as saying that there had been jealousy issues in the past, and some have even claimed that the boy had actually threatened to harm the girlfriend. And what does his dad have to say about all of this?
According to the defense attorney assigned to the child, the father is "a mess" and "had no indication that his son had a problem with [the fiancee]. He's in a state of actual shock and disbelief."
Why am I not surprised?
I'm not making light of his shock and grief. This whole thing is a god-awful tragedy and it's probably going to get even worse in days to come. Something tells me (based on too many days brainstorming with the Social Workers lately at work) that there are some seriously funky family dynamics at play here. But how is it that so many other family members knew there was a problem and the dad had no clue? Was he really that ignorant, or was he so preoccupied with keeping his Southern Default Brain satisfied that he couldn't be bothered to pay attention to his own child's emotions?
This is not a rhetorical question. How the hell does something like this happen?
I know men who are amazing fathers. Men who are totally tuned into their kids and what they're feeling and needing. Men who have no problem putting their kid's needs in front of their own. But I have to say, in total honesty, that these men are by far the minority. A whole stinking bunch of them are just clueless when it comes to their own children. They're so busy looking out for Number One that they forget all about Mini Me. No doubt I'm a little sensitive to this right now, but how could you not be just outraged by this story?
And in the same vein, but with a 180 degree twist, I humbly admit to all of you who commented that you're totally, absolutely right and I need to let go of the whole idea of a lost 21 years. Of course they weren't lost. I wouldn't be the person I am without the experience, I wouldn't have the perspective and world view that I have, and most importantly, I wouldn't have the three overgrown rugrats that make my heart go pitter pat on a regular basis. I have to get over this notion, and I will. It's all part of the process, but I'm sure I'll get there. I've already got a pretty good start.
I took my new Shuffle running today and forgot that I had loaded on this song that I loved way back in the 80's. And as I kind of zoned out and ran, I thought that this song did a pretty good job of saying what I have so much trouble spitting out. (And how about those 80's music videos, huh?)
And now, I'm done. I promise.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
Rather than do an immediate Mt. St. Helen's impersonation, I met my friend Stacey for some emergency lattes while we hashed this out. The kids were at home (MY home) with their dad, and I was climbing higher on my anger scale by the second. I'm not one of those people who believes that anger is a bad emotion, but I do fully understand the thin line between productive anger and volcanic eruption. I was aiming for the middle ground, but I was missing. I was all magma. And that wasn't going to get me where I needed to be.
Because here's the fine line. All of my justifiable anger, all of my legitimate and reasonable issues, could, if one chose to look at it this way, be chalked up to jealousy. Jealousy of the new girlfriend. Jealousy that he had someone and I didn't. Jealousy that he had "moved on" while I was still "locked in the past". I had to find a way to say what I wanted to say without making him feel that I was doing this because I wanted him back, that I missed him, that I was feeling left out. I knew the true story behind those ideas and I somehow had to convey it to him.
I knew one thing. I was tired of pussy footing around the whole issue. It was (again, for the love of god), like the floodgates had opened and I would not rest until this was on the table. I went home to take Gumby to a drama class, and as I was getting ready to leave, I asked the FX to come along with me. For the ride. I don't think I said it in a terribly nice tone, for what it's worth, but he agreed and climbed in the car. He knew something was up, but couldn't quite put his finger on it. It was a three minute drive to drop Gumby off. My mind was on auto-pilot in preparation.
Gumby had not been out of the car thirty seconds when I played my opening card.
"I have two things for you - a question and a favor", I said.
He looked at me guilessly and said, "Okay, go ahead."
So I did.
The question shouldn't be a surprise. Why did you feel it was necessary to tell the kids about your new relationship at this stage of the game? Well, let me rephrase that. It may not be a surprise to anyone reading this blog, but it sure seemed to be to him. He was silent for quite a little bit before he answered. And while I don't think a lot of his reasoning, it's not really out in left field for him. In a nutshell, he and the gf have been hanging out mostly in the town where she lives. They want to be able to hang out here without the fear of accidentally running into the kids or their friends and freaking them out when they see Dad holding hands with a woman they don't know. He figured it was better to give them a heads up.
I told him how upset I was that they had all come home stressed out after he had told them, and said that I really believed it might have been smarter to keep it under his hat for awhile longer. Told him that I had spent two days doing damage control and cleaning up his messes. He said they hadn't seemed at all stressed out when he talked to them., and that they all seemed to take it in stride. That's when my (ahem) floodgates opened.
"You know why they didn't seem stressed with you?" I asked. "It's because they are afraid to show you how they really feel. They put on a good face with you all the time because they don't want to upset you. You left our marriage with almost no warning, and they're terrified that you're going to leave them too. What do you think they're going to do when you tell them something like this? Tell you they don't want to talk it? Or just smile and not rock the boat?"
There was more. A lot more. I pulled no punches on the fact that he was on the verge of totally blowing his relationships with his children. Told him that he was going to have to be especially careful with his new situation that the kids didn't feel like they were coming in second place. Pretty much everything kid related that I'd been wanting to say for quite a while got laid right out. There was no sugarcoating whatsoever on my part, nor was there any exaggeration. By the time I was done he looked a little sick. Fine. If that's what it takes, that's what it takes. We ended up having a long and hopefully productive talk about steps he needs to take with them, and then he really surprised me by thanking me. I know it wasn't easy to be so blunt about this, he said, and I want you to know that I really appreciate it. You can show me that you appreciate it, I replied, by doing what it takes to make it better. I know you want to be a good dad. Now just go and do it.
And then we came to the favor.
I want you to stop treating me like a friend, I said. That's the favor. I'm not your friend. I'm your ex-wife, and if we didn't have three children together we probably wouldn't have anything to do with each other. His face was assuming that stunned look again, but I kept right on going. I don't want to chat on the phone, I really don't care about your day unless the kids are with you, I'm not interested in your new relationship or the fact that you've just now told me you think it could be a long-term thing. We were friends once, but we won't be friends again until you do two things. First, you'd need to apologize to me for the absolutely despicable way you treated me all year last year. And second, you'd need to be able to look me in the face and accept responsibility for all of the ways you destroyed this marriage while blaming it all on me. I want specifics. Man up. I've said this before, I'll say it again. I don't hate you that you wanted out of the marriage. I hate you for making it all my fault. Until you accept your share of the blame, I really have nothing more to say to you.
And to my absolute amazement, he apologized. Said of course it wasn't all your fault, accepted more than the lion's share of responsibility and stated once more that he just hadn't known how to handle the whole situation. This turned into a conversation in which I was able to say a large percentage of the things I'd been formulating in my head for a year, and the two of us had a really decent talk about our marriage and our lives. We sat in my driveway for over an hour while my children quietly starved to death waiting for dinner inside.
We had one of these discussions last July, and I mistakenly thought that one talk like that would be enough to clear the air, but I realize now that I was looking at it the wrong way. I was looking at the divorce talks as one big clear the air type of eruption, but it's more like a bunch of zits. You get them, they come to a head, you pop the suckers and you move on. There's a whole bunch of them, but they don't have to be huge. They just have to be dealt with. One way or another.
And the whole jealousy issue? Very early in the conversation I brought it up, and he almost cut me off with a snort. I don't think for a second that you're jealous, he said. Why would you be? You've already told me that you've been miserable for years.
It's true. I have told him that. And I meant it, too. We were just not good for each other, not right for each other, too different, too much the same. I'm happy, he told me. And I want you to be happy too. Oh, but I am, I said. You have no idea how happy I am with my life. But there's this one thought that pops up sometimes...
You can't imagine what I would give to be laying in my bed crying myself to sleep all night because I miss you so much. So lonely I could die. Sobbing because I wanted the marriage back so bad. Because that would mean that I hadn't thrown 21 years of my life away on something I don't even miss.
I'm sorry, he said. I wish I could give you 21 years back. I had no idea you'd been that sad for that long.
But in the game of blame, I have no one but myself to blame for that.
This night has totally gotten away from me, and I'm not entirely sure how. But it has, and I'm going to have to leave the latest installment of my own personal General Hospital for tomorrow's post. I have too much to say to do a rush job and I'll botch it for sure tonight.
In the meantime, thank you all more than I can say for the wonderful comments, emails and other assorted forms of communication regarding the last week's posts. It may have been a roller coaster...but I never felt like I was on the ride alone.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
So the roller coaster continues.
If anyone out there is interested in writing the definitive book on divorce, please dedicate at least one chapter to the Roller Coaster. More would probably be better, but at least address it somehow. It's the black fly in the Chardonnay of divorce, and very few people warned me about it.
All emotions are good in their own way and all emotions are valid. Don't you agree? Now - that said - I've had a really rough 24 hours. And it all came down to one emotion. Anger. From me. Lots and lots of it.
I've spent the last day going over my mental checklist.
Am I having ambivalent feelings about the divorce? No. Check.
Am I unhappy with the life I have now? No. Check.
Would I want to go back to the marriage we had? Hell, no. Check.
Am I upset that the FX has a girlfriend? No. Check.
Am I mad that I had to do damage control with my kids this week? Yes. Check.
Wait a minute. What was that mad word? Because I feel a lot more of that coming on. Mad. I am mad. Furious. Livid. But in a quiet and controlled kind of way. No head spinning or glass breaking. No yelling or screaming. Not necessary. I'm far more dangerous when I'm quiet.
I'm sure you're all getting really tired of my Ah Ha moments, but I had another one yesterday. A big one. I'm not mad that the FX is moving on. I'm mad that he's moving on with a clear conscience. I'm mad that he's moving on never once having acknowledged that he was an absolute and total shit to me most of last year. I'm mad that I never got to do my final summation in which I got to tell him exactly what I thought about the whole thing. It just moved too fast. First I was blindsided, then I was frantically kissing butt to stay in the game, then I knew it was over and I started pulling back and then it really was over. All in the course of eight or nine weeks.
When you're in a relationship and you have a fight, you get the chance to explain yourself when you make up. You get to say "good point" or "that was really uncalled for" and all of those things. But when you're fighting like mad for your marriage, you don't get that chance. You start choosing your words very, very carefully. (And wasn't it Erica Jong in Fear of Flying who said that people always try harder to save loveless marriages? I can't remember what her reason was, but I'm not about to argue with her conclusion). But I had listened to some of the most amazing things coming out of the mouth of this man I had been married to for so long, and they all were some variation of the same statement - "RC, this is all YOUR fault". And now, this same man wanted to be "my friend". He wanted to sit and chat over coffee. He wanted to keep me up to date on the office politics that had always bored me silly to start with. He wanted to have me ask about his day. Well, I don't know about you, but my friends don't treat me like that. They wouldn't be my friends if they did. And now, with no effort whatsoever made to even attempt to clean up the mess he had made here, he was off to do it again somewhere else. I just snapped.
I was sitting in my dining room trying not to explode when there was a knock on my front door. And lo and behold, there stood the FX to help Surfer Dude with a science project. He thought I was at work and I never knew SD had asked him over. We eyed each other warily.
And all of a sudden I realized that there was no way in hell I could carry this anger around for another day.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
This exercise thing is going way better than I would have hoped. I was thinking about it today as a way to keep myself motivated, and this is the scoreboard so far.
Twelve pounds down - and redistributed somehow.
I'm up to running three and a half miles at a time, and it's actually not been bad. I'm slow, but I get there. Three days a week I meet a friend at the gym and we keep each other honest. It's also good because we're switching up what we do, which keeps me from getting bored.
My ankle is doing great. Thank god. The first day I ran, I iced it and popped a handful of Ibuprofen but it never even twinged. I'm still hyper vigilant, but it hasn't been a bit of an issue.
The big one is that I just feel better. More energy, calmer, sleep like a rock. These are all very good things.
The first weekend in March I'm running a St. Patrick's Day 5K with a lot of co-workers as a charity fundraiser. It's the first organized run I've ever done, and I'm still not quite sure how I got roped into it. I'd never realized how Type A some of the people I work with are, and there's a lot of pride on the line here. There are a bunch of us who are just hoping and praying that we can drag our sorry bodies over the finish line in less than ten hours. On the other hand, any race that ends in a bar can't be all bad. Green beer and all.
Today I did a one hour power weightlifting class that makes me shake with fear at the thought of getting out of bed tomorrow morning. This will not be pretty. It's already ugly tonight. Where the hell did I put the Ibuprofen?
This is the physical - and final - component of the emotional cleanse I've been immersed in for the last year. All the bad crap has been raised to the surface, and now all I have to do is flush it completely out of my system. For good. Every drop of sweat is healing in an oddly profound way. I feel like a million bucks.
Until tomorrow morning.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Just because I'm not bothered by something doesn't mean that I don't want to know the motivation behind it. And even though I have made a concerted effort the last year or so to not over- think things, I'm still curious about this one.
I'm talking about the FX and his new girlfriend, of course. But before I get into the rest of the story, I have to go back and fill in a detail I left out earlier, because in the interest of getting to the meat of the story, I chose to not put the veggies and potatoes on the plate. (This takes on added significance when you factor in that I really don't like meat, but I digress). The detail is this -
The reason he told me this, said he, is that he wanted my opinion and advice on how to a) tell the kids about this gal and b) get them all together in a stress-free kind of manner. It's moments like these that make me grateful for the poker face I've cultivated all my life, because without it I'm afraid I may have hurt his oh so considerate feelings a smite. My answer was short and to the point. You're on your own, said I. This is something we're each going to have to work out for ourselves. I don't have the magic answer and even if I did I'm not sure I'd share. I am, as you have repeatedly pointed out to me, not your mother. The only thing I did say was that I thought if he told the kids he should make sure they knew that I knew, so they wouldn't feel like they were having to keep secrets from me.
That's where we left it. Oh, he had to tell me all about her and ask me about my love life and make chit chat like we were friends or something, but the reason for this charming little catch up session was already on the table. So there you are. The end.
I can't help but wonder why? Why is he doing this? What is the ultimate goal, the hidden purpose? Why does he want the kids in on this? And this is the direction my thoughts keep going off in. First off they've only been going out a couple of months. (And I believe this, for reasons I don't really want to get into now). Second off, he only has the kids every other weekend, and even that has been getting shortened as the kids are asking me if they can go there Saturday morning instead of Friday night. Third, they've only been going out a couple of months. Oh, wait. I already said that. Never mind.
If we had split custody I could understand it. If the kids were with him seven days out of fourteen and he was in the heady throes of getting a new relationship off the ground, I can see the point of telling them about it. I wouldn't do it if it were me, but I can see where some people would. But if you're seeing your kids one or two nights out of fourteen, can you not take care of your love life in the other twelve or thirteen? Do you really want to spend the few nights you have with your kids on a "date"? And what if it doesn't work out? Then what? Will you make sure they meet every woman you go to a movie with? Why is this necessary to their lives?
Then there's the option that he believes that this gal is the one, the Steven to his Spielberg. That he wants them to start in immediately on the happy integrated family routine. (She does have kids, but they're "grown", whatever that means). I sit somewhere between awe and horror at this thought, with a heavy right shift. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that his major preoccupation has been trying to find someone to be with, rather than doing a little introspection about his issues - the issues that two separate therapists assured him would follow him from one relationship to the next unless he sucked it up and addressed his problems. Perhaps I'm still smarting from being told repeatedly that I single-handedly killed the marriage with all my issues, but there's a little part of me that hopes this gal has a clue of what she's getting into. I know for a fact that he's quite presentable on paper. I have the paper to prove it.
I even, out of the goodness of my heart, started a little mental list for her. Ten Things You Should Know About Him. A minute or two later, I had to upgrade it to Twenty, because that's how I am with these lists. As a matter of fact, I've integrated my love of lists into this book I'm writing that is kicking my butt. I shouldn't complain, because every time I think I'm running into a wall, I just keep getting more material thrown my way. Anyway, these lists started with one I wrote last Spring. I couldn't write it now because I'm just not in that place anymore, but if I do say so myself, my Ten Things I Won't Miss About You List (quickly upgraded to Twenty), may be the best piece of writing I've ever done, in an Alannis Morissette You Oughta Know kind of way. You wouldn't be wrong if you imagined a fair amount of overlap in the Things You Should Know/Things I Won't Miss lists. Of course she isn't asking for my advice like he is, but here's a freebie just because I'm nice that way. Absent minded men who misplace everything they touch should never be allowed to take erotic pictures of their women. And that's all I'm going to say about that.
If you're sensing a little hostility seeping through my words, you're right. All three of my kids came home last night very subdued after having this news sprung on them. One of them has been stomping around the house, snarly and surly, one refuses to even admit he heard it, and one looked at me really tentatively and asked if I'd heard about Dad's news. I said I had, and asked what he thought about it. Yikes. And that's all I'm going to say about that. Empathetic dad that he is, has he called to check in on them to see how they're doing after his little sound bite? Come on. What do you think?
Where the hell was I? Oh, yeah. Sorry. I sidetracked myself.
Why did he feel he needed this on the table? Who has something to gain here? Possibly the woman is pushing for this for her own reasons, but it's hard to imagine why. The kids, in my opinion, have nothing to gain by this. I'm simply a bystander to this particular car wreck, except for that pesky little bit about my children's psyches and the newfound need to patch them up. And that leaves the FX. What does he have to gain from this?
It's taken me four days, but I think I've finally figured it out. No, scratch that. I'm pretty damn sure I've figured it out. And I'm not being coy, but I'm going to wait just a bit before I write about it, because I want to see how this plays out. Sometimes I think he still checks in here just because he can, and even though I think that's a pathetic thought, I can't rule it out. I'm not tipping my hand on this one.
Even during the last days of our marriage when we loathed everything about each other, he was still forced to admit that I knew him inside and out, knew what made him tick and why. And if I'm right about this - and I am - he doesn't even know he's doing it. He certainly hasn't gotten as far as the why.
And I think that's a little...sad.
Monday, February 16, 2009
There are all kinds of different shifts at my job, but for the most part they're either day shifts or night shifts. 7-7 is the standard in nursing - either 7 am to 7 pm or vice versa - but the ER runs more varied shifts than the regular floor. There are noon to midnights shifts, 3 pm to 3 am shifts and so on. Whatever your internal clock, there's a shift for you.
I have always worked the day shift, if not always the 7 am to 7 pm, at least close. I don't do nights very well, and would never willingly choose to work nights. This is unfortunate, because most hospitals pay a huge shift differential for nights, but the way I look at it is that if I get fired for falling asleep on the job or accidentally killing someone, the shift differential won't make much difference anyway.
Night shift has always fascinated me, though - in terms of sheer logistics. Do they always sleep during the day and stay up all night? Even on their days off? Or do they switch back to a "normal" schedule as soon as they have a day off? Different people do it different ways, but I'm always curious how they make it work.
But even though they may work all night, one of the things about nursing is that you tend to work the same shift all the time. It used to be that they would have to rotate between days and nights, but not anymore. If you're hired for days, you stay on days. Same for nights. Some of the PRN people may go back and forth, but that's their choice, not a demand. In a situation like this, it seems to me, it being your choice and not foisted on you would be huge.
The doctors, however, don't have this option. They work all different shifts on a regular basis. And this is what made me think of this today. One of our docs worked all day Saturday with us, but then came back to start his Sunday shift a few hours before we all went home for the day. So he worked roughly 8 am to 8 pm Saturday and then came back Sunday at 5 pm for a twelve hour shift. They basically self- schedule, so he did this to himself, but still. When do you sleep on that schedule? If you sleep normally Saturday night then you'll end up having a 24+ hour day on Sunday. How do you skew that schedule so you don't fall over mid-shift? It really intrigues me, being that I turn into a pumpkin at midnight no matter what fun thing may be around the corner. (Or as fun as you can get at work, anyway).
Anybody out there worked night shifts? Swing shift? Any variation on the above? And if so, how did you manage it? Fill me in. Because I just can't imagine.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
If you go into an ER and notice your doctor sitting at his work station with a life sized blow-up doll at his side - smiling at him adoringly-
would you think that the rest of the unit really know how to pick a birthday gift?
or would you just go to another hospital?
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Valentine's Day has never really been my holiday, so it wasn't exactly something that could be totally ruined for me. Even so, last year was a doozy. That was the day I was pushed so far in our "marriage" counseling session that I threw in the towel and said I wanted a divorce. It took me a few hours to calm down and remember the promise I had made to myself - that if the FX wanted out that badly, he'd have to be the one to man up and do it. I wouldn't do it for him. And I didn't.
So when he chose today to tell me that he's been seeing someone for the last few months, it didn't come as any kind of surprise. Truth to tell, I'd have thought it would've happened a lot sooner. He's a man with a strong need for an audience, and it was pretty clear that he'd keep looking until he found one. I wish him luck, and hope that this past year has been as incredible a growing experience for him as it has for me. At the very least, I hope he's been able to clearly see the negative and destructive behaviors that he brought to the table in our relationship, since if you can't see something you're far more likely to repeat it. I've spent the last year being introspective in spite of the pain it caused, and would like to think I'm on solid ground with this train of thought.
But even thought I knew this announcement was coming, I still spent the rest of the day waiting for the sucker punch feeling to my belly that I somehow felt should happen. The feeling of loss. The feeling of jealousy. The feeling of betrayal. All the things I felt I should feel, based on what I have no idea. Aren't those feelings the norm?
Um. Evidently not. Or maybe I'm not normal. Who knows? All I know is that this has caused not the tiniest ripple in my calm, not upset my emotional boat in the slightest. My mood is virtually unchanged from the last several months - I feel almost giddy with anticipation of the future, and don't think I've ever been this mellow in my entire life.
Damn. Maybe Celine Dion was on to something after all.
Friday, February 13, 2009
One of the women at work has been out for a week tending to her really sick mother. This co-worker is in her early 50's, and had to drop everything on a dime when her mom had an unexpected medical emergency. Luckily, the mom came through, and today my co-worker came in carrying a small folder like a priceless treasure. Inside the folder were photos.
She showed them around and explained each one. I looked at the faded, sepia toned shot of her and her mom and wondered. Her mom is clearly, traditionally Asian. My friend, while having a hint of the same features, also has a very deep olive complexion and kind of wiry hair. I asked about her dad, and was amazed when she simply said that she didn't know. Her mother would never talk about it. I'm lucky, she said, that I even got these pictures out of her. It's taken me a long time just to get these. One of these days, she continued, I'll find out about my dad. But not today.
I know I should have kept my mouth shut, but I just couldn't. Doesn't that kill you?, I asked. Not knowing something that important? Well, sure, she replied. But my mom has never been willing to talk about it, and I never could figure out a way to force the issue. She started leafing through the photos. This is my half-sister, she said. She's a few years older than me. I looked at the picture and casually asked what her sister's name was. I don't know, she replied simply. My mom doesn't want to talk about it and I can't remember. I haven't seen her since we came to the US when I was six. She stayed with her dad. You were six?, I asked. Well, she said, that's what the papers say. But I think they were falsified and I'm really a few years older.
My inner control freak was having a very quiet meltdown. You mean you don't really know how old you are?, I asked. Well, it's not even just that, she answered. My birthday is in the winter, but I clearly remember celebrating it during the summer when I was a kid. I think, she continued, that when they changed the papers they changed my birthday. But what about your mom?, I asked. Surely she knows when your birthday is. Yeah, she answered, I'm sure she does. But it isn't something she's ever wanted to talk about. She doesn't understand why we can't just let things be.
This gal at work has had a difficult life, but came out just fine. She raised three kids on her own and made a very nice life for all of them. She's always upbeat and has a terrific sense of both self and humor. But I kept watching her all day, unable to get this thought out of my head...
How can you know who you are if you don't really know who you are?
Thursday, February 12, 2009
So I've broken my new vow of thriftiness already.
It lasted three days.
Here's the story in a nutshell. I've been meeting a friend at the gym and have been really dedicated to exercising. But even better, I finally got up the nerve to start running again. Last week I ran a mile straight, fretting about my ankle the entire time. It never even hurt a bit, then or later. Day before yesterday I was up to two miles at a clip and I could have gone more - it felt that good. I was never even out of breath. (I realize that this is a far cry from my marathon ambitions, but a girls gotta start somewhere).
But right before that two mile run, I popped in my earbuds and went to pick an upbeat motivational song, and my (relatively) new iPod died right there on the spot. It just froze on the song it was playing - Alannis Morissette if anyone is interested - only it wasn't playing it at all, it was just stopped. I fiddled and I swore and I may have even begged a little, but no luck. It was a goner. And since I'd bought it used on eBay, my warranty options were...nonexistent.
Now the dilemma began. Should I just pop the $50 for a little piddly iPod shuffle to get me through my workouts? Should I suck it up and run sans music? Should I take a friend up on the offer to borrow his iPod, hoping it didn't fall under the spell of iPod death that pervades Casa RC? (Just last week, Sasquatch dropped his video iPod into the toilet accidentally. You may have all heard the wails. One more reason to not wear cargo pants. I'm just sayin'). For a full 24 hours I agonized. I would (and do) spend it on my kids in a heartbeat. Why could I not justify spending it on myself?
Today after the gym, my car seemed to be driving itself to Target, in spite of all of my protestations to the contrary. And before you knew it, I was the proud owner of a wicked hot pink iPod shuffle, a pink so violent that it virtually guarantees that none of my boys will accidentally "borrow it". I wanted the green, but I wasn't born yesterday. I drove home marvelling that something that small could be that fricking expensive. (This tells you how many diamonds I've had in my life).
My late iPod was belly up on the kitchen counter, and I glared at it as I plopped my Target bag down. Walking past it, I gave it a violent poke with my finger just because I felt like it.
And it turned back on. And has worked perfectly ever since. Son of a biscuit eater. It's my very own conspiracy theory.
I'm keeping the shuffle anyway. It's little and it's cute and it's pink. There's not anywhere near enough pink in my life. But mostly I'm keeping it because if I just spent $50 to keep running...I'd better keep running.
I'm too cheap not to.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
It was Bunco tonight and our group tried out a new dish. I wasn't crazy about it, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it. Anyway, here are the specifics:
Take twelve women and marinate in beer.
Pick the tenderest flesh you can find - say perhaps a recently divorced (and relatively gun shy) gal who has found herself inexplicably on the receiving end of some offers of the dating variety. The finished dish is much more satisfying if she has not been terribly communicative about these offers with the beer ladies, in a futile attempt to keep Cougar off the menu.
Grill her unmercifully for details until done. If she fights, hold her down. Eleven to one is good odds.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
It's Pop Quiz Time at RC Confesses. The time has come to prove just how well everyone pays attention when I babble on and on about work.
Pick the best option for all of the questions below.
#1. You've somehow managed to fall off the roof of a building, landing on your shoulder and head. You immediately
a. call 911
b. thank god you're still alive
c. go have a beer until the bleeding stops
#2. While sitting at the bar, you notice that one of your ears appears to be in about sixteen pieces. You immediately
a. order another beer
b. call all your friends over and say "Hey! Ain't this cool?"
c. wrap a bar towel around your neck so the blood doesn't stain your new Nascar T-shirt
#3. When your girlfriend squeals at the sight of said ear, you decide it's time to do something about it. You immediately
a. ponder your options over another beer
b. mosey on into your friendly ER
c. go to the Dollar General and buy some Super Glue
#4. Two tubes of $1 Super Glue in hand, you enlist several friends to help hold the pieces in place while you reattach them. You immediately
a. realize this is futile and seek prompt medical attention
b. decide the girl just isn't worth it
c. apply the Super Glue liberally, and then, just to be safe, put bandaids on top of it to make sure it holds
#5. Temporarily stymied when you inadvertently glue one of your fingers to your ear, you immediately
a. ponder your options over another beer
b. fumble one-handed for your keys to drive to the hospital
c. ask around to see if Jerry Springer is recruiting participants for his show
#6. On arrival to the ER, you immediately
a. really wish you had another beer
b. ask yourself What the hell was I thinking?
c. try to play it off as a stupid Frat Boy prank gone bad, even though you are clearly not a Frat Boy. Stupid is another story.
#7. When the kind doctor and the nice nurse try to help you, you immediately
a. tell them they can't come near you unless they give you certain narcotic medications first. Provide acceptable list.
b. look them in the eye and tell them you haven't had a beer in a year
c. remember that you're violently allergic to Super Glue
Pencils down. Papers to the front.
The grading starts now.
Monday, February 9, 2009
I think about my almost seventeen year old son who has driven me to shrieks and tears lately with his off and on unreasonableness and it's all about me attitude. I consider the sense of entitlement that he carries like a birthright, and I think about fact that I'm regarded mostly as a combination of a short order cook and an ATM, with a generous dash of chauffeur thrown in.
I think about his friend, the first friend he made when we moved here, the friend whose parents I'm still close to, who decided last week to drop out of 11th grade, making the choice to hang out with his friends and get high instead. He's gone through his entire savings account in six months. This is the kid who had sex at thirteen, wrecked a car at sixteen, has been caught by more than one mom hiding a cigarette behind his back. Arrest me, he told his parents. Do what you need to do, because I'm not going back.
I think about the horrendous stack of bills I paid today, and the beyond horrendous mortgage payment that is due next week. I think about the "extra" check I got with three pay Fridays in January that I hoped to sock away for a rainy day, but instead watched go up into the ozone. I think about the roof that still needs replacing and the foundation that needs some tweaking and the fact that it may be years before I can sell this house in the current economy. I think about the fact that the FX dropped in tonight to have a discussion about money that did nothing positive for my blood pressure.
I think about other people I know who aren't lying in bed waiting for the ax to fall - they're already under it. It's down. Husband and wife out of a job in the same day. People who have jobs that have all of a sudden become superfluous - massage therapists, waitresses, graphic designers, fundraisers. People who had a great retirement and a really lovely life planned out...until this year. I see it at work constantly. Families with no health insurance and no options. Mothers with small children living in cars in below zero weather. Students with severe mental health issues who cannot afford to take the meds that allow them to function. Society going to hell in a handbasket, with the ER workers in a ringside seat to watch it happen.
I think about my headache and the fact that my head has been about to split open since yesterday afternoon. (Not coincidentally, after I had just spent $300 on groceries). I consider how sick to my stomach I feel, but don't want to call in sick because god forbid they realize they don't really need me after all. I flirt with feeling sorry for myself that I worked on my feet for six weeks with a broken ankle and absolutely no change in my work requirements, hobbling to and fro to take care of patients who had nothing more wrong with them than a severe case of I Need Some Narcs.
I think of a coworker who is fighting breast cancer, who comes to work in between treatments, and is covered with the most god-awful radiation burns I've ever seen, burns that prevent sleep and cause unending pain. A coworker who still has the smile and attitude of an angel. I think of my friend Maggie who has been fighting ovarian cancer for over a year and a half now, and has been through hell. I mean hell. She's a realist, and she's a fighter and she's human. She gets down and she gets scared, but her head is always up and she's always ready to tackle the next battle straight on. My awe at her grace grows by the day, and reminds me that my piss-ant complaints are, indeed, piss-ant complaints.
Perspective is an amazing thing. So is gratitude. To look at your life and give thanks - even if to no one other than yourself - is an incredible, empowering thing. I'm a firm believer that you can't appreciate anything until you fully accept how much you really have, and how many things you have to be thankful for. Every night before I go to sleep, I run through my gratitude list in my head. It keeps me grounded and it keeps me away from my own tendency to play the It's all about me game.
But, as the feelings of panic all around continue to grow, as the outside news gets worse on a daily basis, as more and more people find themselves in positions they never ever expected to be in, it gets harder to keep that sense of perspective. This isn't a dream and it won't be gone when we wake up tomorrow morning. This is something we'll be grappling with for a long time to come. And that can be almost impossible to fully grasp.
Maybe I should be grateful for that.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
The elderly woman appeared a little out of place being led to her room with a cop at each side. She would have looked more appropriate in a cookie commercial, but since she had tried to beat the bejeezus out of her husband with a jagged broom handle, looks were clearly deceiving.
The bruised and bleeding husband refused to come into the room (or press charges), but the daughter came in grim faced and sat at the bedside. The patient was on the downhill side of dementia, but she seemed absolutely sure of her facts. When asked by one of the cops why she had attacked her husband, this was what she kept repeating:
She had been sitting in her living room sipping her cup of tea when an enormous man came in through the front door and forced her to take her clothes off. Once she had done that, fighting and kicking the whole way, he then made her raise her hands up in the air and keep them there. Her husband, watching from the next room, didn't intervene at all and let the strange man do whatever he wanted to do. And that's why she had hit him with the broom. Given the chance, she told us quite clearly, she'd do it again. Perhaps even harder the next time. If your own husband won't protect you...
The daughter put her head in her hands and sighed heavily. And when she lifted her head up, she said (through clenched teeth),
"Mother, you crazy old woman, that was your physical therapist."
Friday, February 6, 2009
Starting next week - for the first time since I've been a nurse - I'm going to have a set schedule. It won't be the same every week, but it's a four week rotation that keeps repeating. So week one will always be the same, and week two and so on and so on. On the one hand it will be a little less flexibility, but on the other hand it will be so nice to know months in advance what my schedule will be. Actually, the flexibility probably won't even be an issue. You can almost always muster up a shift trade when you need to. And since so many of us have kids, it's a pretty sympathetic crowd.
I'm excited about this for lots of reasons. One, I like to know ahead of time when I'm working. Two, we'll finally be able to get the kids on a set schedule as far as being with their dad every other weekend while I work. Three, I got almost exactly the schedule I requested, which is pretty darn sweet, if I do say so myself. And four, it allows me to make some plans. Plans that I keep putting off because "my schedule is so weird".
It always amuses me that I love filling in empty calendar slots as much as I do. I love to write down appointments and kid's classes and after school activities and days I work and any number of other non-social things. But the reason it amuses me is because I love nothing so much as an empty slot on the calendar. A whole empty square makes me very happy indeed. And if I can resist the temptation to fill it in it makes me even happier.
However, into every life some structure must fall, and mine is no exception. So I'm using this new, set schedule as a means to build some structure where before there wasn't much. And the first place I'm starting is with exercising and working out. At least this is the plan as it stands now.
I've gotten back on the gym wagon since my ankle is basically healed, and it's been going fine. (I'm still afraid to run, but that's a whole other post). But it's been fly by the seat of your pants gym-going, and I'm looking for something a little more thought out. It would be nice to use this gym membership I have for something other than walking on a treadmill, when I have a perfectly good treadmill out in the studio that I never touch. So today, in between my three hour nap and my popcorn/Laura Ingalls Wilder binge, I pulled out my gym schedule and took a look at classes. (This was also to assuage my guilt that the nap won hands down over actually going to the gym today). And before you could spell Pilates, I was filling in calendar boxes with a misguided vengeance that looked good on paper but probably wouldn't translate well to reality. I erased it all and rethought.
I want a program that will keep me interested. I want to get up my nerve to start running again. I want to try some classes and get back into weights. I'd like to see if Pilates really is all that. And I know for a fact that I slept like a baby when I was doing yoga. But I don't want to go to the gym more than three days a week, although I don't really care how long I stay once I'm actually there. So I'm a little stumped as to how to make this work. Cardio three times a week, weights two to three, classes one or two...gee. I'd better quit my job now and free up some time.
Does anyone want to share their fitness routine and give me some ideas? Even if it's bench pressing the box of donuts before you open it, I'd like to hear about it. Because I do overkill really well, and I'm pretty good at sloth, too. But that prudent moderation business? Gets me every time.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Alright, let's start with Monday.
The shift started with almost half the unit full. This isn't typical, but the night hadn't been typical in any way. The ER was virtually empty the entire time the Super Bowl was on, but within minutes of it ending, the unit was packed. Evidently, everyone sat at home ignoring whatever was bothering them until the post-game show, and then BAM. The precedent for the day was set. Every single room was full all day, including the trauma rooms. The waiting room was overflowing into the parking lot. It turned into one of our highest number of patients seen days ever.
It wasn't just the numbers. It was the timing. For some reason, I kept discharging or admitting my patients at the same time, which meant that I would then get slammed with all new patients at the same time. At one point, I admitted three ambulances with unstable patients into my newly opened rooms within a five minute period. One of my patients had a full-blown psychotic break at exactly the same time. We were all too busy to even help each other, so it was every nurse for themselves. When we thought we were as stretched as we could possibly be, one of our patients coded. Halfway through that, with everyone either in on the code or watching additional patients to cover for the staff in the code, cardiac monitors started blaring in another corner to announce another patient who was in a full code situation. My patient with the psychotic break thought he was at a Bingo parlor with all the noise and started loudly calling numbers outside of his room, dodging people running down the hall at full speed pushing crash carts.
And Tuesday wasn't noticeably better.
Oh, it was slower for a while, but then we got slammed again. I got backed into a corner by a violent and intoxicated patient and it took three law enforcement officers to retrieve me. I hit my very own personal best in blood alcohol levels. Well, not mine. A patient's - almost nine times the legal limit. And breathing just fine on his own, how I don't have a clue. Soon before shift change, I got a trauma that kept me at work an hour late stabilizing her enough to ship out. By the time I got home, my legs were cramping and my vision was blurred. I was in bed by ten, where I thrashed and tossed all night.
And then there was Wednesday. It was the same exact story - all day long. Even down to the now obligatory code at shift change and an overflowing waiting room for twelve solid hours. As I sit in bed writing this, I can feel my pulse in both of my feet as they throb to the rhythm of my heartbeat. All I can think is four days off. I have four days off. And then it's back to the salt mines.
I just keep telling myself, it's job security, right??
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
I can't do it. I'm sorry.
Today was just about the worst day I've had in this job and I don't think I can put off collapsing long enough to write a post. I was falling asleep in my ravioli ten minutes after I walked in the door, and now, at the ridiculous time of 8:30 pm, I'm going to sleep.
Tomorrow's just got to be better.
Monday, February 2, 2009
My kids love Super Bowl day.
We have a tradition - going back quite a few years - of doing a junk food/appetizer dinner, and that makes them all very happy. For one night they get away from their crazy mom and her whole wheat pasta and great big bowls of steamed veggies. We go to the store and pick out the greasiest, nastiest frozen appetizers we can find and cook them up. Mozzarella sticks. Onion rings. Buffalo wings. Pizza bagels. Egg rolls. Normally we also do chips and salsa, but this year the two bags of chips I had bought and hid mysteriously "disappeared". I always put out carrots and dip, but even I know I'm delusional. This day is not about raw carrots.
Personally, I don't get football. Every single year I volunteer to work Super Bowl day because I just don't care, and I figure someone does and would like the day off. Now, the Wimbledon finals is not a weekend you'll ever find me working, and the last Saturday of the US Open - Super Saturday - is third on my major holiday list, right after Christmas and Thanksgiving. Besides, I'm already exhausted and in sports overload from the Australian Open, even if I had to watch it all in replay since the 17 hour time difference kills me. I have gotten up in the middle of the night to watch it live, but not this year. Probably just as well. I'm a huge Roger Federer fan. If I'm gonna cry, it should at least be daylight outside. But my kids are not me, and they look forward to the Super Bowl with a vengeance. Every single year.
And the game? Oh, we never turn the game on. Super Bowl day has nothing to do with football.`
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Much better experience at work today. Thank god.
Then tonight, we had a little female bonding kvetch session at my house after I got off work. A few of my closest friends, some wine, some chips and salsa...it's all good. And now I'm off to bed to sleep for as long as humanly possible before I pick the boys up from the FX tomorrow morning.
It's funny how some days just suck from the starting gate and others are really calm and mellow all along. I like calm and mellow. I like it a lot.
Or maybe I just appreciate it more in comparison to what things could be like.
Posted by the rotten correspondent at 12:36 AM