Thursday, March 29, 2007

Most. Humiliating. Moment. Ever.

I went to Olive Garden last night with Bear, his sister and her husband. I love Olive Garden. I had the spinach and artichole dip platter and the black tie mousse cake. yum. I took a lactaid, but knew that it probably wasn't strong enough to counteract all the dairy I was eating.

I did okay last night... no major belly upset. This morning when I got to work, however, I had to go. I waited until the bell rang for students to head to homeroom and booked it for the teacher's bathroom. I thought I'd have several minutes to myself because everyone would be busy with their homeroom. Once I got in there, my stomach let go, and man, did I feel better. I courtesy flushed because - well, it was pretty bad, even for me - and waited a few moments for the overhead fan to do its job.

When I got out of the bathroom, another teacher that doesn't have a homeroom started heading for it. I knew that it was still pretty smelly in there, and I knew there would be no hiding the fact that I was the bathroom-stinker-upper. Two other teachers were nearby, but it couldn't be helped. I blocked the door and said, "You might not want to go in there just now." Of course all three teachers lost it laughing, and my face flamed red. I have never been so embarrassed in all my life. he teacher that had been heading for the bathroom thanked me for "sparing him," and I booked it out of there. Two blocks later and I still couldn't face any of the three.

Damn my lactose intolerance!!


PS If you haven't voted for your favorite invitation yet, do it now!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wedding Invitation Conundrum

I thought I had my invitations all picked out. I'd gone so far as to buy the cardstock and the rubber stamp I'd need. Then Bear admitted that he isn't crazy about the design I'd chosen. He showed me a different type of invitation that he liked. It's just as nice as my choice, and now I'm stuck - which invitations should I make? Bear's choice would be better for getting across the information needed, but my choice is simpler. There are so many factors, my mind is whirling. So I thought I'd show you the photos of the choices and let you decide. The thumbprint choice is my favorite, the paint chip one is Bear's. PLEASE tell me what you think of each!!


Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday... Blessed Friday

I am so glad that it is finally Friday. This week seemed to drag on and on. Today is a half day student day and a half day inservice day, so it should more quickly. I am very tired and can't wait to get home and take a nap. I tohught I was going to get some great sleep last night, but sometime in the small hours I woke up with terrible stomahc pain - I'd eaten macaroni and cheese and forgotten to take my lactaid. After a painful half an hour spent in the bathroom, I managed to make it back upstairs. When I woke up this morning it felt as though I had never gone to bed. Don't you hate that?

Mom and Dad are coming up this weekend so all four of us can go to the Bangor Garden Show. I love looking at the beautiful displays and getting Daddy to buy me things. Last time there wasn't much I wanted, so this year he owes me TWO things. I'm thinking daisy seedlings and some butterfly bushes. I want to look at the photos in the photo contest, too... I am bummed I didn't get my photos in in time. There's always next year (or so my grammie always tells me).


Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Brothers Phillips

I have three older brothers. One of them, the Golden Child, and I share the same mom. The older two and I share the same dad. Their names are Mike and Mark (last name Phillips).

Mike and Mark lived with their mom growing up, but they did visit quite regularly during my childhood. After graduation, they went into the military. We saw them less often then, but they did still come home. Mark even lived at my parents' house for several months with his fiance when he was stationed here in Maine. After being discharged, Mike became a police officer in Rolla, MO and Mark moved to Florida/Puerto Rico with his wife.

While in MO, Mike got married and had a son, Zachary. He brought his wife and child home once when I was in high school. I think Zach was about two. I was fifteen or sixteen. Shortly after returning to MO, Mike and Gala decided to divorce.

I haven't heard from Mike since.

My parents haven't either. For almost ten years Mike has been MIA - I haven't gotten a phone call or an email, and I definitely haven't seen him. I know that he has been to Maine more than once, and at least one of those times be brought Zachary with him. When he is in Maine, he doesn't talk to anyone related to Daddy's side of the family. It's like we don't exist for him.

Mark divorced his wife, too, and for a few years we didn't hear from him, either. Then one day he showed up at my parents' house and apologized for his behavior. He was back in Maine working as a prison guard, and wanted to re-establish his connection with the paternal side of his family. He was welcomed back with open arms. He may have taken some ribbing, but anything that had gone before was water under the bridge. He is family, and family sticks together. Last year Mark moved to Arizona to become a Border Patrol Agent. He still makes time for Daddy and me whenever he comes home.

Until now. Last Wednesday I got an email from Mark telling me that he was flying home due to a death on his mom's side of his family. As soon as I got the message, I texted him to say, "I got your message. Hope everything is okay. Let me know if you want to get together." I didn't call because I didn't want to interrupt anything serious his family may be going through.

Then last night I logged onto myspace really quickly to check my messages before bed, and discovered pictures of Mark out partying with his best friend Alec, Mike, and a woman that looks like Mike's new wife. He didn't call me, text me, email me... nothing. But there were their faces, flushed with a good time, home in Maine without a worry.

If I were in the same state as one of my brothers, there is nowhere I wouldn't go to see them. I would drive for hours and hours to see them because I don't get to see them often enough. I haven't seen Mike in almost a decade. So I started to wonder - did thye exclude me on purpose? Does Mark only want to hang out with me when Mike isn't around? What is Mike's issue with hanging out with me? I never did anything to him! But the more I thought about it, the more I think about it, the more I begin to think that maybe they weren't thinking about me at all. It wasn't so much that they were trying to exclude me, but that I didn't enter into their consciousness at all.

Honestly, I don't know which is worse.

When I first saw the pictures, I was angry. I understand that this wasn't a social visit, but I wasn't asking for them to take me out to dinner... I was asking for a phone call, maybe an invitation to the bar that they were at Saturday night. After my anger wore off, I was just hurt. I still am hurt. I know from their history that this is the way they operate, but Mark, at least, I expected more from. I was raised that family comes first. I guess it has taken until now to see that their definition of family doesn't always include me.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spring is Here Again!

Today marks the first full day of spring. Fittingly, it is four degrees outside and showshowers are expected tonight. It will be a bit warmer the rest of the week, though, so that's good. Dunkin' Donuts is having a promotion today - FREE iced coffees ALL DAY! It's their way of celebrating spring, and I'm right there with them. I got my free iced coffee this morning (with sugar and skim milk, as cream will do a number on my stomach). I will stop by DD again on the way home to have one for the ride. Bear and I will probably also get one tonight when we're in Bangor getting groceries. You know the kid in "The Legend of Ricky Bobby" that says, "I'm jacked up on Mountain DEW!"? I'm going to be that kid today.

My students are going to hate me. :-D

Bear and I worked on wedding stuff last night. We got the guest list figured out, but we aren't terribly happy with it. It is just going to be so difficult to keep the guests down to the 100 we have space for. The only good thing about our list is that twenty of the 102 or so on it are children under twelve. I figure they don't need individual seats, especially as many of them will be down by the water swimming, fishing, or just chucking rocks. Am I right in that? There's not going to be specified seating, either - you just sit where you find a seat. That way I can bypass an entire wedding headache.

I'm beginning to think of the small things I am going to need, like signs to point the way to the wedding/reception area and possibly balloons for the mailbox to mark where people can park. I am also looking for a tongue ring with white balls on the ends (maybe even one that says bride?). Any ideas? I'm not sure where on the internet to look for that.

You didn't think I'd go without it, did you?


Monday, March 19, 2007

Only in Maine...

... can you shovel snow with a pitchfork (I know this because that's what I did yesterday - for hours!).

... are Citronella candles acceptable wedding reception centerpieces.

... can you wear your winter parka on Monday and shorts on Tuesday.

... is the summer divided into two separte parts: black fly and mosquito.

... are the animals big enough to make road kill out of YOU.

... is the epxression, "you can't get there from here" actually true.

... are red hot dogs and whoopie pies offered by caterers.

... does your car look like a salt lick by spring.

... is "ayuh" synonymous with "I do."

... do the bridesmaids have more facial hair than the groom (I've seen this also, so I know it's true! Thankfully not at MY wedding).

... are Winter Carnival dances held in Spring so the kids don't freeze in their outfits (also true, I am chaperoning the W.C. dance at my school this weekend).


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Warning: Major Rant Alert!

Last night Bear's best friend came over to hang out. Since it was a week night, Snake was by himself - Blondie, his girlfriend, only comes over on the weekend. This is because Blondie is still in high school. She's nineteen, so the age difference between us isn't great, but there is a wide chasm that separates us, anyway. We have very few common interests, our personalities and physical appearances are polar opposites. Blondie and Snake have been together (more or less) for five years, which is as long as Bear has known them. There is a LOT of shared history going on there that I can't even touch.

But that's not my issue.

Blondie is quite possibly the least mature nineteen year-old I've ever met. Snake and her mother dote on her, and do whatever they can to make her life easier. Blondie allows and even expects this treatment. "It's just who she is," Bear tells me. "She can't help it." Up to a point, I agree. Her childhood hasn't been the best and she has had to deal with some pretty bad things.

That's not my issue, either.

Okay, here's the part where I tell you what my issue is, with the help of a story or two to illustrate my point.

Snake, Bear and I were hanging out last night, and without Blondie there I felt free to voice some of my frustrations with her: that she can be really whiney, that she has to be the center of attention, that she can, at times, drive me crazy. Usually I don't mention things like this because either she's around or I get a lecture about how I'm "not trying" with her. The last time I got a lecture, I listened to what Bear and Snake said, thought about it, and changed my behavior. They were right: I hadn't been giving her a fair chance (in my defense, she is the same age as my students and that has been a huge hurdle to get past). Since that first lecture, I have made a consious effort to include her more, to direct more comments in her direction, to say nice things to her whenever I can. She absorbs compliments like a sponge. Even to the point of being disingenuous, I've been nice. I don't make any comments about her age, her high school status (other than to congratulate her on getting into college, etc.). I could go on, but I think you get my point.

Anyway, so I made a few comments about Blondie last night. After Snake left, Bear told me that I'd "gone too far," and was "bad mouthing Blondie." I was shocked! I'd said NOTHING that was untrue or exaggerated. Bear didn't see it that way, of course, and we had a bit of a tiff about it. "That's just how Blondie is," he said again. "You have to cut her some slack."

I have to say here that I have HAD IT with this line of argument! When I speak to Blondie, she does one of three things: She contradicts me, she one-ups me, or she ignores me. No one says anything to her. She's allowed to do it, because "it's just her way." Every olive branch I extend gets snapped up, chewed, and spit back out, rejected. I'm so sick of it. Bear and Snake rush to Blondie's defense, protecting her from anything negative.
"Poor Blondie," they say.
"It's not her fault."
"I hold you to a higher standard, Amalia."
"You're the grown up."
"Don't take it personally."

I do the best I can, truly I do. I give allowances for who she is, where she is in life, what she's been through. Every time she says something that upsets, hurts, or angers me, I forgive her, push my upset away, tell myself that I need to let it go.

I reached my limit last night. I turned to Bear and said, "You and Snake have Blondie wrapped in this little cocoon of safety. You always back her up, protect her, defend her. Who's defending me?" Some other points I made:
  • Blondie can say whatever she wants to me (including references to my weight), but I can't reciprocate.
  • I'm being held to a higher standard and am being assessed on how well I stick to it, while she has no standard at all.
  • Nothing she says or does is ever her fault, but I'm to blame for any tensions in the group.
  • I'm the one that has the problem, not her.
  • Just because I'm a grown up, doesn't mean I don't have thin skin.
  • If I hurt her, I need to change. If she hurts me, I'm over reacting and need to get over it.
  • I'm not allowed to use the "it's just the way I am" excuse, but she can.
  • She has NEVER given me a compliment. Ever.
  • Bear and Snake don't defend me if she has something negative to say about me.
  • I'm expected to turn myself inside out, shift my moral and ethical compass, but she can continue to be the way she has always been.
  • This treatment, while on a cognitive level I understand it, is unfair and it hurts me.
I said what I had to say, and Bear (God love him) listened. I hope that I was able to show him what life is like from my perspective. Just because I am strong, intelligent and independent doesn't mean that I don't get my feelings hurt. There's no age limit on that. I don't know if Snake has ever spoken to Blondie about how she speaks to me, but knowing what I know, he probably hasn't. It's not really his job... but I sure would appreciate it. I just wish that for once, someone would acknowledge that she DOES do hurtful things, and that SOME of her behavior can be modified. I wish someone would say, "Hey Blondie, you are out of line and it's not okay." She's not made out of stone - she can change. I don't know why I always have to be the one giving ground to keep peace in the group dynamic.

This is a really long post, and I don't know if I've made any kind of coherent sense. I was in tears last night and I'm in tears again now just thinking about this topic. I've always hated injustice, and I especially hate it when I feel like I'm a victim of it. I do, too. I know it's selfish and "not grown up," but I still feel that way. I still want to be backed up, supported, defended once in a while, too.

Maybe that's just the way I am.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Pictures part 3 (sorry for the sideways angles)

Pictures part 2

Pictures part 1

Obviously some of these pictures need to be cropped, but here are the originals. Tell me what you think!

Wedding miscellania

I haven't been updating about the wedding as often lately, mostly because there isn't a whole lot to report. Things are starting to come together, but there is still a long way to go. I'm offically 110 days away - it sounds like no time at all!

I received the estimate from my photographer. She signed me up for the cheapest package she has - $1,900. That DOUBLES my wedding budget. Seriously. I looked at my options, and I think I am going to ditch the package and just hire her a la carte - $200 per hour for three hours ($600), which comes with all of the proofs and all the photos on a CD. I'm going to get the coffee table book I want, which is probably another $150 - $200. It's worth it. After that, I think maybe one or two 8x10s ($35 matted and framed), and I'm good. Do I really need the $110 11x14? I just don't think I do. Not to mention that I can order and prints I want any time I want in any size I want AFTER the wedding.

I'm signing the rental contract this weekend and giving them the deposit my dad gave me. I'm also submitting some pictures I've taken to a photo contest. I will try to post them so you can tell me which ones you like best. Wish me luck!


Monday, March 12, 2007

Essay Part 2

Bear brings a piece of suitable plywood into the house from the garage for the moldy floor. He draws the holes he needs to cut for the pipes and asks me to hold the plywood as he cuts the holes with the sawzall. Have you ever held something while it's being sawzalled? Let me tell you, it stinks. It felt like I was trying to hold a jackhammer by the tip. It takes about fifteen minutes to get the holes cut out and the plywood down. Bear puts the old faucet onto the pipes (minus the vanity) so he can check that there are no leaks.

boy, is there ever a leak!

Apparently while cutting the old vanity bottom away from the pipes, he knicked the cold water pipe with the sawzall. Water starts spraying all over the place, most of it landing on the freshly-dried subfloor. The plywood is wet now, too. Bear turns the water back off due to my screaming, and surveys the damage. No help for it, we will have to go back to Home Depot for some new pipes. We're tired and cranky, and I haven't showered since Friday night. Bear thinks if he turns on only the hot water, I can at least shower. He goes down stairs to turn on the hot, forgetting he has taken the old faucet back off the pipes, leaving open ends on both. I stare in horror as hot water geysers out of the hot water pipe and all over the floor. It takes two or three seconds to realize there's a bucket nearby. I scream even louder for him to turn the water back off. He does, but then turns it right back on again. Nearly hysterical because my bucket is almost full, I screech, stomp, holler and generally cause a ruckus until he hears me from the basement and shuts the water off for good. We decide we will both have to call in sick on Monday to get the project finished. One good thing does come from this - I now have water to use the toilet. Ahhh, sweet relief!

Monday's trip to Home Depot was for two flex pipes, two shutt-off connector valves, and some asprin. Total cost: $25.

The pipes go in well and everything is looking good - no more leaks in the pipes and the vanity slides in smoothly. There is still one more problem - the drain pipes don't match up. I question if this is a big problem, because the drain works, it's just under a bit of pressure. Bear calls his uncle that lives near by, who promises to come look at it Tuesday night. A new piece of flex pipe for the drain (total cost: $5), and we have a new sink.

It's beautiful, and looks terrific. But damn, what a pain in the ass!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

How I Spent My Weekend - part 1

For a long while now, there has been a leak under the sink in the bathroom. I placed a cup under the leak and emptied it almost every day. It was a sizeable leak, but I certainly didn't know how to fix it, and it takes Bear quite a while to figure out that something is wrong enough to need fixing. So Saturday, we set out to Home Depot to buy a new J-pipe for the sink. We'd been experiencing a dip in water pressure, too, so we decided to buy a new faucet for the sink, too. Total cost: $40.
We get the new parts home and Bear goes into the bathroom to install them. He discovers that the wood bottom of the vanity is sagging and moldy from all of the water that escaped from the leak. Upon opening the box that the new faucet came in, he notices that a piece is broken and will have to be returned. He looks at me and says, "We really need a new vanity, hon. We can get it when we exchange the faucet." Sigh. Okay.
Sunday we take my car to Bangor (I have a station wagon big enough to fit the new vanity in). Back to Home Depot we go, this time to exchange the faucet, buy a vanity (complete with new sink), plumber's tape, silicon gel, putty, caulking, and a pack of gum (that's for me). Total cost: $180.
We get everything home, and Bear shuts off the water in the house so he can work. I forget to pee first, so I have to hold it. For several hours. He disconnects the pipes and we pull the old vanity out. Looking at the subfloor where the vanity used to sit, we see not only layer upon layer of slimy black mold, but mushrooms - actual mushrooms - growing. The smell of the mold and mildew is overpowering and for the first time, Bear and I realize this is much worse than we originally thought.
Bear and I had a pow wow at this point. What to do about the floor? Take the whole thing up? With what money? Will bleaching the hell out of it work? Can you sand subfloor? won't that put the mold into the air? In the end, we decide to bleach the floor and let it dry, then put a piece of plywood down to separate it from the new vanity once it is installed.

If only our troubles had ended there....