Saturday, August 06, 2022

That Bill that was Signed into Law...

I hate the Hoosier state.

I hate the party that controls the legislature by packing and cracking votes.

I hate the religious zealots who elect ignorant and corrupt people into power.

 Fuck 'em all.

Friday, May 06, 2022

I Didn't Sign Up for You

Forgive me for mishearing the lyrics of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," but I've used the phrase "I didn't sign up for this" as a tongue-in-cheek way of saying, "This wasn't part of the experience I had imagined prior" for years.

My older daughter is finishing up her first year of college, with finals wrapping up tomorrow afternoon. About two weeks ago, she told her mother and me that she didn't think she was going to pass her algebra class. 

This would be the second time she had taken this class because she had failed said course in the fall. What's worse is that the material was no harder than what she had already covered in her high school years, where she supposedly passed two years of algebra and a year of pre-calculus.

Putting aside my own frustration, I sought to help her get a realistic assessment of her chances. We looked at the syllabus to determine the basis for the grade, noting the weight for tests, quizzes, homework, and finals.

She had done a good chunk of her homework, but there were some chapters where she had not done much. Tests and quizzes were awful. Since the homework was done through an online system, we could view a ramp of progress over the semester. It looked like sometime in March, she had gone into a lull, and after that she had put in some effort, but not enough to improve things much.

The instructor reopened some of the modules so that she could resume working on them, and I put in time with her via Zoom to get her back on pace. By yesterday evening, she had completed 90% of the exercises successfully. 

Side note: She had been on edge the past few weeks already because the front axle broke on her car, leaving her without wheels. Since her mother works from home some days, she was able to use her mom's minivan a few days, but on days she was without a vehicle, she was taking Lyft to her work, which was about a mile from her residence hall and not safe to walk alone in the evening.  There is a lead for a used car that she should be able to pay cash on for most of it, but the seller had to get a title reissued, which will mean that she's without a vehicle for another week or two.

At the end of last week, she came home because she had a dance competition on Sunday. She had a meeting with an academic advisor on Tuesday, and she had to work on Wednesday. She had only two classes that had finals. One was an online exam for an English class, and the algebra final was on Friday afternoon. 

Her mother an I agreed that I would provide a ride for her to campus on Tuesday for the adviser meeting, help move out some things, and then bring her home with me so that she could focus on studying algebra. I would take her to work on Wednesday evening. My hope was that she would devote today to working through the final exam practice materials her instructor had posted.

Instead, we spent most of the afternoon packing up and moving her out of her residence hall. She lacked boxes for smaller things, so we spent about an hour organizing things to go into the boxes, and then we got some lunch and I managed to get some empty boxes from a liquor store. We packed up the items and got a basket cart from the front desk. My car, a sedan, was packed pretty tight, but nothing was left behind. I was tired and not in the best mood, but I was doing my best to not raise the temperature by expressing frustration at her.

I drove her to her mother's house to unload the materials. By then it was just before 4, and downtown traffic was clogged with early rush traffic. The closure of a section of major interstate for the past year or so has resulted in some serious clogginess. We made the trip, in about double the time it takes in light traffic. So I was really worn down.

On the way home, she was trying to convince me to leave her at her mom's instead of taking her back with me so that she could study more for algebra. I said I didn't think that was a good idea because I worried she would be more inclined to watch TV than study at her mom's. Moreover, her computer and final exam study materials were at my house. I also didn't want to make a trip back in the midday to pick her up for her final.

When we arrived at her mother's, she said she was going to stay there anyway. I said that's fine, but that she would need to figure out how she was going to get her computer and materials because I wasn't going to make the round trip to bring them to her. That would have been another hour's time at my expense.

At this point she just lost it. She started throwing the items she had in her hand on the ground... a hand vacuum, her cell phone, her lanyard, and a towel. She yelled obscenities at me. Told me that she was glad that she could say what she really felt and that I wasn't her father (she's adopted). I didn't say anything to her because I didn't want to escalate. I carried items into the house and placed them in her room because her mother was clear that she didn't want them in the family room.

I went home trying to process all of that. There had been times when she had been angry with me, but never to this level of intensity of language and never with throwing of objects. About 40 minutes later, she texted, "I'm sorry I said all that stuff to you. I did not mean to get upset with you." I didn't answer because it felt like an abusive pattern, and I didn't want to feed it.

I exchanged some texts with her mother afterwards to keep her in the loop about what was going on. She wasn't home when all of this happened. She said that our daughter had behaved similarly at times with her. I told her about the text and not replying. She suggested I send her a list of the items that were here, and I did, without any additional commentary to avoid escalation.

As she was raging, my daughter was bringing up stuff I had said in the past that she said made her angry at me. One of them was the phrase, "I didn't sign up for that," in reference to something I had to deal with as a parent. I can't even remember exactly what was being discussed when I used the phrase, but she interpreted it in the most negative way I could imagine.

She contacted her best friend from her high school days and got picked up to go to her apartment. They came to my house to pick up the materials she still had here. It was a brief exchange and she was icy. Her friend did well in math, so she might be able to help her prepare for the exam in a way that I wasn't able to.

This was difficult for me because on one hand, I didn't want to reinforce abusive behavior, but on the other, I didn't want her to fail her class by not studying after we had put in all that effort. Ultimately, though, she is an adult now, so she needs to be responsible for the things she does. I had sacrificed and rescheduled to work around her times as best as I could. It was out of my hands now.

About 10:00 tonight, I had a rare weekday glass of wine. I don't like doing that.

Friday, November 05, 2021

The Wait is Over


Three or so years later...



Sunday, July 18, 2021

Was it Really that Long Ago?

 (Checking blog archives...)

(Notices the date stamp of the first post...)

Fifteen years?

Five years since the blog was officially ended?

Yeah, that time did all fly by.

(Composes self...)

To those who stumble upon this blog using search or whose RSS feeds still point here, greetings!

I'm still here. Maybe it would be easier to catch up by noting what has changed over last half decade.

2016 was a rough year. In addition to it being sort of a Rapture of the Talented, my father died in May. A dog we had adopted back in 2001 just before the 9/11 attacks had to be put to sleep because of deteriorating health. Finally, I got a better feel for the density of racist @$$holes in the United States and it depressed me utterly.

The next few years were a blur because it seemed like an endless stream of awful in the political sphere. I became more active, attending protests, writing letters to representatives and calling them, and even trying to register voters.

I changed jobs in 2019 to go work for a startup founded by some co-workers at my prior job and realized that a couple of them, too, had worldviews that were either steeped deeply in the alternative fact universe or just too lacking in empathy to be worthy of respect.

A source of stability in all of this was my girlfriend, with whom I had been in a relationship since 2011. With her older child graduating from high school in 2017, we started to make plans toward combining households. I had some repair work done to my house in 2018, but there were some issues with the drain that required me moving out towards the end of 2018, and I haven't lived there since.

With a home equity line of credit, I continued to work on repairs and get rid of stuff we didn't want to keep under a combined house. Then in the summer of 2020, a lavatory feed line burst while I was on vacation and it resulted in requiring major restoration that continues to this day. I'm hoping to have the house on the market by the fall and finally out of my hands. Fortunately, the real estate market here has been strong, and I've had neighbors ask me if I am planning to sell.

 The relationship with my girlfriend has been strong. She has been supportive of me through some dark times, and I have been there for her struggles, too. Sometimes the spectre of discontent lurks in my peripheral consciousness, but I've accumulated enough tools to keep it in check. The filters that see only the negative can sneak in unnoticed, but once I see them there, I can push them out of the way.

My line of work has evolved. Since early 2008, I had been working on developing web applications using a loathed dynamic language that begins with a "P" and JavaScript. When I changed jobs in 2013, I transitioned to different, more respected language that also begins with a "P." By 2016, I had gotten involved with data sciency stuff at my employer and started to learn about machine learning, which propelled me into the startup I'm working at now.

I have slowly started to make and maintain contact with old friends from my college days, including two people with whom I roomed for two years back in my undergraduate days. I might actually show up at my 30-year homecoming this fall if the pandemic isn't too crazy again.

My older daughter graduated from high school in early June and is planning on attending college this fall. She's had some emotional struggles this past year because her birth family reached out to her over social media during the pandemic (long story). While she has met her birth sister and a half-sister a few times to exchange gifts, she has been reluctant to meet with the birth parents.

My younger daughter, who used to have intense bouts of anxiety about missing me in her grade school years has managed to move on. She's had a boyfriend for about two years going. She's entering her junior year of high school and will be taking classes through a local career center toward an associates degree.

More recently, I received word that a high school teacher from my hometown had passed away. I had taken several of my math classes with him and had a high regard for him because it was in high school that I really got bitten by the math bug.

I've debated traveling back to my hometown for the visitation, but I think I will make a donation in his memory to a charity mentioned in his obituary. I feel estranged from my hometown because the area is staunchly conservative, with an emphasis on gun culture. I didn't know his family that well, and I don't have any contact with anyone in town except for my step mom. Moreover, with COVID-19 cases on the rise, I'm not really feeling up for a large gathering, even though I reach full vaccination as of late May.

I may pop in here now and then to write down some things just so I can re-read them and get perspective, but I can't guarantee huge volumes of overanalyizng and agonizing. I don't really want to go back there because when I look back at some of those posts, I don't like what I see. Maybe that's a sign that I've grown? I dunno.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

The Benefits of Keeping a Journal

 On Saturday, the New York Times published an article about the benefits of keeping a journal. It made me think of this blog, which served a sort of a journal, yet hiding in plain sight. Comparing this space with the guidelines from the article, I cringe at some of the things I dwelt upon or in the way I expressed them. Still, I highly recommend journaling as therapy and encourage you to read the article.

With respect to relationships, I have been in a wonderful one for nine years now, hence my choice to remain silent on this space. The things that unsettle me have more to do with the present Zeitgeist, and I don't believe anything I would have to write would add anything new to the conversation.

The spectre that haunts me now has more to do with the suffering of others and the questions I ask of myself are what I can do by action or donation to replace that suffering with justice.  

Friday, April 27, 2018

Monday, July 18, 2016

Ten Years After (or Here's Where the Story Ends)

On this day in 2006, I published my first post on this blog.  For the first two years, I churned out a lot of content, as I chronicled and digested the latter days of my marriage to X.  The legal dissolution of that union was finalized over six years ago.  As the xkcd Timeghost would put it, "The end of your marriage is clooooser to the first day of the post of your blog than it is noooow."

I almost let the 10-year mark pass by unnoticed.  I hopped onto Feedly this morning to check the RSS feeds for blogs I followed when this blog was much more active.  The only public blogs that continue to publish periodically are The Drunken Housewife, The Edge of Vanilla, and I am Doing the Best I Can.  On the private side, Anais continues to publish on Dancing with Myself.

I was surprised to see that Phyllis RenĂ©e of the Diggersphere had resurfaced after a long hiatus.  In her June 21, 2016 post, she noted that she had gone through a divorce, and that prompted me to go to my own blog and check the date of the first post.  Sure enough, the first post was dated July 17, 2006.  Then I looked to see when my last post was... mid-June 2015!  Over a year of blogging silence.

Over the years, I've tried to envision how I would bring this blog to a close.  Back in 2007, when I was contemplating moving to the Bay Area after the collapse of my marriage and the realization that my employer at the time was teetering on the abyss, I thought I would wrap up the blog, and move on to a new chapter in a separate blog, maybe 3 am Eternal, but that never happened.

I continued to use the blog to give updates to followers as I tried to chart a new course for my life.  I grew a lot, both emotionally and professionally.  I also passed through some very dark phases of loneliness.  I had some relationships along the lines of Sam Phillips' "Stay with Me," craving intimacy and companionship, but not willing to develop a deep romantic bond.

I met someone in mid 2011, someone a few years older than I.  We happened to be only a couple miles apart from one another, and we had much in common.  The relationship blossomed, with our attentions focused almost solely on one another on the weekends we didn't have our kids.  Eventually I would get introduced to her family, and we got along very well.  The loneliness that had haunted me both in marriage and on my own finally seemed to dissipate.

At the end of 2012, I bid my employer, Company Line, farewell, and set off on a new path, working for the state's largest college.  I liked the people at my new job, but I hated the commute because it was 20 miles away, and not feasible by bus.  The job meant a good sized pay cut, and my house started to have troubles with the roof and drain.  Plans to blend households got put on the back burner.

Also complicating things was my love's ex, who was becoming less reliable.  That meant that a lot of our kid-free weekends got the kibosh because the ex had too much month at the end of the money, so he wasn't able to do things like feed his son.  The daughter, going into her high school years, started to refuse to go to her dad's and became increasingly jealous of the time my love and I spent together.

2014 was a hard year, and I fell into deep depression.  I started to see the cancelled weekends as my love putting distance between us.  My insecurities about being unlovable kicked into high gear.  Still, I wasn't so overcome with my emotions that I could see that I needed help.  I took advantage of my employer's EAP to get some counseling to sort things out.

With 2015, things got a little better as we started to have overnights even when her daughter decided to stay.   I went on medication.  I looked for a higher paying job, but wound up staying with my current employer after getting a promotion to something that aligned better with my career goals.  By this time, I had grown tired of web application development and wanted to make the transition into data science.

 While I still miss our weekends of complete togetherness, I've reached a place where I can talk with her about how we can share time together, even when the kids are around.  We have a weekly night where we have dinner together at her house.  We go to church together on Sundays.  We keep connected with texts during the day and we talk on the phone nightly when we don't see each other in person.  We make it a point to get out and see live music together by ourselves on a regular basis, because this is one thing that touches us on a deep level.

Do I wish we had greater physical intimacy?  Yes, but I don't feel the hurting like I did with X.  My love and I remind each other in some subtle ways that we crave each other, and when we do get alone time, it is wonderful.  The difference is that I feel desired for who I am, just as I desire her for whom she is.  We share our lives as much as we can, given our circumstances, and we continue to plan for a day where we will be under one roof and sharing the same bed.

Outside my relationship, life continues to be busy.  My daughters are now 13 and 11.  I'm very much a part of their lives.  Both are active in dancing and learning piano.  The older one is more athletic and runs both distance and track events.  My younger daughter loves the creative arts.  She takes lots of art classes and works on crafts on her own volition.  She also has inherited my propensity for anxiety, which challenges her mother and gives me pause to reflect on how I would have liked my parents to have helped me manage my own anxiety.  We'll be going on a vacation with my love's family in the week to come.  They get along with them very well.

I have become increasingly involved in the church where my love grew up.  It's a struggling congregation.  It served an area that was once more middle class 40 - 50 years ago.  The loss of major employers in the area in the 70s and 80s meant that some of those folks moved away, or their kids moved on as they grew up because opportunities were elsewhere.  Others left as the congregation took a more progressive direction on matters of sexuality.

I like the pastor because she is very honest about her own humanity.  Although it is the same denomination as the church I grew up in, this church takes a less literal view on scripture, emphasizing the importance of being agents of God's love rather than God's wrath.  Over the past year, we have come to realize that if we don't develop a stronger connection of service to our neighbors, the congregation will die out, so we've been hard at work trying to examine where we do need to change, and I have been active in helping to chart that course.

My father passed away two and a half months ago, after almost 15 years of physical deterioration from a stroke.  His own challenges have haunted me over the years.  The stroke hit him early into his early retirement years, at the age of 51.  On one level, I was relieved to see the end of his suffering, but I also grieved over the moments where his aliments limited what he could do with the grand kids and me.  My mother is still alive and in mostly good health.  She lives up in the northeast suburbs now with two rescued St. Bernards as companions.

Anyway, I'm making my way through life, accompanied by the ones I love.  I've become more grateful for what I have.  I'll probably still have flirtations with existential dread, but I'll do my best to use them as passages of growth.  With this post, I am hereby freezing this blog, with no future posts to follow.  I'll still be reachable at the e-mail address in the sidebar.  If I know you well enough, I'll give you my Twitter account handle so you can follow the day-in and day-out stream of my consciousness.

As surely as this Sunday has come to an end, so does this blog.  But it will remain here to serve as a guide post for others who may have found themselves in a similar situation.  I leave you with one last late night listen.