Friday, January 16, 2009

DJing Tonight - ACK!

In case anyone is interested in hearing my not-so-dulcet tones, I'll be DJing a Celtic-ish/ rock-ish in Second Life tonight at the Blarney Stone in Dublin. You can hear me out here in the real world by tuning your online media player thingies* to

If you hear the DJ refer to herself as Ajay, that'd be me. Ajay = A.J. = Amanda Justice... etc. They're all just me.

*Yes, I'm aware it's a miracle I can function with all the technological know-how I exhibit. It's a gift.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Yet another entry today. Must mark this date on my calendar...

Basically I'm babbling because I'm aggravated by my writing. I think I was doing pretty well back in the summer of 2007, but during my hiatus my brain went on hold or something, because now I'm right back where I was around 2002: using four words when one will suffice and other literary sins.

It annoys. That's one reason the "snicker" entry just doesn't read well. I was somewhat uncomfortable writing about the topic and my first line of defense when uncomfortable is to cram as many syllables possible into a paragraph and hope it doesn't look like crap.

Well, it looks like crap. Fortunately that kind of fits the subject matter.

Eh, working on it. But I'm leaving the miserable entry up so I don't forget how hosed my writing can be.

Worse Yet...

Yesterday I was talking to one of my coworkers about the entry below. I had related the story to her and mentioned I finally had the post up. I commented,

"I don't think it came out quite like I wanted it to."

We looked at each other.

More snickering ensued.

Because we're twelve.

Monday, January 05, 2009


Note: those of you who a) can't handle fart stories, or b) would prefer not to hear a fart story in which a female has the lead, please ignore this entry.

For the rest of you, well, here goes...

On Saturday as I was excavating my closets, both the boys were supervising my work (i.e., I had spectators). I tell you, there's nothing like busting your butt to get something done with loungers in attendance. Nothing would do for them, though, than to be right in there with me, alternately staring at me like a fish in a bowl or giggling punctuated by occasional attempts at fratricide.

Eventually the Gum Zombie got tired of watching me get pelted by the avalanche of sweaters on the upper shelf and left to go do something more exciting like count how many times the cats befouled the litter box in an hour.

The elder offspring, however, continued to loll in my bed playing either his Nintendo DS or his Sony PSP (I can't keep track of which one he's enamoured of from one moment to the next) as I attempted to extricate myself from the pile of shoes, sweaters, and assorted goodies and not-so-goodies I'd unearthed from the closet. I finally managed to pry myself loose and was almost standing when I felt an unfortunate, erm... escape. Of the gaseous nature.

I pretended nothing had happened and all was well until about fifteen seconds later when the elder offspring lifted his head from his video game and said,

"Mommy? Did you fart?"

"Uhm... I may have."

Sniff, sniff. "Mom, that's DISGUSTING!!!"

And he fled.

I snickered.

Peace reigned. And conveniently, as my nose has been a bit stopped up, I didn't suffer any ill-effects from the bomb I apparently detonated.

I might have to do that more often.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Cleaning House

It's amazing the amount of stuff one person can accumulate over time.

Back in early 1998, I was thinking of doing a purge of my belongings. I knew I had just too much STUFF. But the thought of going through everything was absolutely overwhelming to me. Not only because, wow, timesink, but also because nearly everything I owned was in Alabama and I was in Florida, so it would necessitate a trip up to a town I really didn't want to go to in the first place and force me to deal with a disaster not entirely of my making.

I knew I had to do it. I was in the process of moving back down here after my first divorce (I hate typing that -- having to specify just which divorce it was, lest there be any confusion... ouch!), and although I had a few books with me and a decent portion of my clothing, as well as my computer and violin, the lion's share of my clothing, books, and all my furnishings were still up in Alabama.

I remember going to bed one night in early March of that year thinking rather desperately and recklessly, "If that house would just burn down I won't have to deal with it at least." And then I fell asleep.

At 4:00 that morning my mother woke me up to tell me that my next-door-neighbors in Alabama had called. My house was burning down.


Actually, I was pretty calm about the whole thing. It was done. Over. And to be honest, the mustard yellow shag carpeting was actually hugely improved in appearance by the smoke and water damage.

I moved out of my parents' house into a little one-bedroom apartment, blissfully unencumbered by any storage issues.

But in the years since then I've managed to accumulate probably as much stuff as I lost in the fire, and now the time has come to haul in the proverbial backhoe and actually do a conscious purge. I don't want any desperate situation to force me to do it. It's just that the time has come, and I need to suck it up.

I'm an adult, dammit. Time to act like one.

Since I went through my books a couple of years ago, my priority at the moment is my closets. First in line? The clothing closets. I'm halfway through my primary closet (not to be confused with my secondary closet, which I took over when my ex moved out), and holy CRAP!! I haven't worn some of the stuff in there for nearly a decade. I still had maternity clothes hung up in there.

People, my youngest child is SIX. Erm... yeah. Those have to go. I think.*

I also have a couple of sweaters in there from the eighties that I took with me to Florida, so they escaped the housefire. HUGE necks, ala Flashdance, shoulder pads... oy gevalt. Not so sure I want to lose those though. I mean, they could come back into style, right?

Yeah, this is gonna take awhile. Back to the salt mines, folks.

*Note: in my defense, one reason I hang onto the maternity clothes is for birth control purposes. My theory has been that as long as I keep the gestational-wear near at hand I won't tempt the Fates into letting me get knocked up again. Hey, it's worked so far!!

Thursday, January 01, 2009


Another year gone. Wow.

I'll be thirty-nine this year. For the first time, people, so cut that out! Actually I don't have a problem with aging as far as the numbers go, but wow... thirty-nine? Am I really pushing that close to forty?

I look at what I've done with my life since I became an adult. I'm not where I thought I'd be. My plan back when I graduated from college was to teach, go to grad school, get married, have a couple of children after three years of marriage, and continue that grad work while I was staying at home with my perfectly-behaved genius-level offspring, one of whom would, naturally, be a girl. After that, I figured we'd see.

Instead here I am breathing down the neck of forty, and... ouch.

I managed the teaching thing. I taught English to students ranging from seventh through ninth grades, and additionally taught elective courses with students through twelth grade. But after six years, I'd had enough. I loved my students, and there are absolutely some rockin' moments from my teaching career, but those good moments didn't outweigh the complete exhaustion I felt while in that profession, the sick feeling that started every Sunday afternoon by 2:00 p.m. as I realized Monday was coming, or the so-sick-to-my-stomach-I-really-threw-up episodes I'd have each morning of the first day of school that the students arrived.

Every year people, I was so sick I literally puked.

So uhm... no. Teaching for a lifetime wasn't in the cards for me. That said, I think my kids' teachers are awesome and I am so glad that there are people who are able to make teaching their life's work. I'm also glad I had the teaching experience because I think that as a parent it makes me even more able to see the educator's side of things when one of my blessed offspring does something marvelously obnoxious.

I also managed the getting married thing. Twice, in fact, which wasn't in The Plan. Nor were the two divorces that followed at all in the plan. I come from what we now refer to as an "intact" family, meaning one father and mother who have been married for forty-one-and-a-half years now. I knew nothing else, growing up, and I had every expectation that my marriage would be the same way.

Nope. My first husband was a child when we got married, and looking back I married him for all the wrong reasons so it's not as if I'm blameless in the situation. After a couple of years of me working and him being irresponsible and basically lolling around, we called it quits. It was pretty amicable as far as those things go, although there were also some very bad moments, again, as those things tend to go. But we didn't have any children, so that made things much easier when we decided to end it.

About six months after my first husband and I divorced, I met the father of my children. He seemed to me to be everything that my first husband wasn't: adult, responsible, employed. We were married almost a year to the day after my first divorce was final.

Note to self: dating for only six months before you get married? Not the best idea. Not saying it can't work for some people, but in my situation I really should have employed some watchful waiting, especially as he was so gung-ho on getting married. I guess some covers can only be maintained for so long.

During that same timeframe I'd moved back to my hometown and was simultaneously working and taking classes toward an information systems degree. I figured that since dealing with actual humans all day apparently wasn't in the cards for me, I'd be better off specializing in machines.

Enter pregnancy #1.

Then pregnancy #2.

My sons' father traveled for a living and for the first four years of our marriage he was home a maximum of one week per month, and a minimum of one weekend every four months. That made it pretty easy to handle the little relationship issues that would crop up, because there was such a tiny window to have to deal with things.

It also left a very tiny window for conception, but apparently he and I were exceptionally fertile together considering our reproduction rate.

The elder son and I were pretty much a unit of two for the first four years of his life. Due to his father's work schedule, I was essentially a single parent. I was and still am incredibly blessed that I live in the same town as my parents, who helped out amazingly (and continue to do so), but even so, I'm not going to say it's easy knowing that everything that happens, and I mean everything, all comes down to just you. No parenting team -- just a solo act. The buck started and stopped with me.

I continued taking classes for my IS degree, and in that time I learned that hey, I can do math!! Hee. This is a realization that may never have come to me if I hadn't opted out of teaching. But see, math is definite. Concrete. There is always a right answer. It's a beautiful thing, and I learned to appreciate that beauty once my brain realized this important point: math is just another language.

So I learned to translate math into English, and maintained an appallingly high GPA through Calculus 1, Calculus 2, Physics 1, Physics 2, Boolean Algebra, statistics, microeconomics, macroeconomics, Accounting 1...

I think I'm more proud of that than the Phi Beta Kappa key I earned with my B.A.

With the birth of our second son, my then-husband made the choice to come home off the road (which he'd been wanting to do for some time). That's where the problems really started.

Less said about that, the better.

Still, we had two children, and I did love him very much. So we tried, and tried... and during that time I went back to work when the Gum Zombie was eighteen months old and have continued to work since that time.

My classes have gone on hold indefinitely. I'm not even sure I want to do the IS degree anymore. I spent a couple of years working in the legal field as a secretary for attorneys who handled criminal and family law. I loved it. Every day there was something new, I was mentally stimulated. It was awesome. But the awesomeness began to pale with the realization that I was taking these people home with me.

I had no one to talk to about any of this either, because my ex was dealing with his own work issues and anything I experienced simply couldn't be heard as his problems were so much more severe to him. So I was left to stew, and finally, I listened to my father when he suggested (for the fifth time) that I really consider putting in my application for the job of office manager at his company.

I'd worked for Dad's firm for years, off and on. I started there when I was eighteen years old as the office go-fer, and over time, during college vacations, during summers when I was teaching, after my first divorce, and during my second pregnancy when the boys' dad was temporarily out of work (he used to work for WorldCom, and we all know how that went). During those years I progressed from running errands and scrubbing bathrooms to doing much of the typing and adminstrative work. I already knew the business, and my training time would be minimal.

I've been there since July of 2006, and I don't regret a moment of it. I don't have the issues with clients that I had working at the law firms, and I don't feel sick on Monday mornings. Sure there are some weeks when I'd rather be, say, HOME... but that's due more to the incredible volume of stuff I have to do here at the house (and occasional bouts of laziness) than it has to do with any work-related stress.

This past July, my marriage imploded. Suddenly everything I'd been ignoring (I was in serious denial) came to a head.

I couldn't ignore it anymore.

And yet I didn't leave. Even then, I tried to stick it out. We had nearly ten years together. We had two sons together.

But finally, in September, it was over. There wasn't any huge revelation at that point like the explosion in July. It's just that the final straw hit. Like that last feather on the balance that tips the scale... poof.


Even now, things aren't quite balanced. The boys' father loves them in his own way and sees them once a week most weeks on Wednesdays for about three hours. That's all he says he can manage. No overnights, not anymore. He can't see working and then having to pick up the children and then having to take them home, get them fed, ready for bed, etc.

Hmmm... sounds like something I do nearly every single day. But I guess I'm just special like that.

And as for child support? It ain't happening. He finally found work a few months after the divorce was final, but it's barely over minimum wage and he's been unable to find a job that pays more. The child support he's ordered to pay is below state minimum guidelines for someone even making minimum wage, but still he makes no effort to even contribute a dime to his children's care.

I don't see it happening, either. Back when I was working in family law I was talking about people who seemed to believe that they shouldn't have to pay child support for their children, and in a rare fit of relevant communication the man told me, "Well, if you ever left me you'd never see a dime. I'd sooner disappear and change my identity than to ever pay child support again."

Lovely, eh? And yet, somewhere in my feeble obviously-overly-optimistic brain, I thought the responsibility I saw in him back at the beginning of the relationship would somehow kick in, and he'd see that children need the support, both emotional and financial, of both their parents.

That's one reason I actually wear my Phi Beta Kappa key: to remind me that I do have a brain, somewhere. All concrete evidence to the contrary.

So now, here I sit, on the cusp of thirty-nine. Twice-divorced. Single mother. Single income.

Two cats. One dog. Two beautiful brilliant sons.

One job, that miraculously covers all my expenses for the month. Barely, but it does cover them.

And one boyfriend I've been seeing since shortly after this divorce was final. No, that wasn't in the plan either. My intention, when I asked for the divorce, was just to stay single. I'm obviously no great shakes at picking husbands. The goal was simply peace.

I can do solitude. I can handle being a single parent. Although I'm the sole responsible adult in the household, with that comes some freedom. It's not all bad that the buck starts and stops with me.

The children are secure and happy. No, we don't have everything we want, but we have everything we need.

And yet, into that came this man. This wonderful, caring, patient, kind man. Over the past months (WAY more than six, thankyouvery much -- I do occasionally learn something) we've gotten to know each other better and better. And slowly, our lives have blended. It's been close to a year now, and he's still everything he appeared to be on first meeting.

He seemed responsible. He still is.

He seemed kind. He still is.

He knocked my socks off. He still does.

The forties? Not looking too bad.

Here's to a great 2009, everyone.