Tinderbox?

I have the weirdest dreams! Had a sequence of them that included standard, if in some cases rare, settings of a mall, an old amusement park, my great-grandmother’s house, and my grandmother’s house. Not so standard: North Korea. In one sequence I was in a mall with two other people. The only clear part is when we each bought a slice of bread with butter for a dollar from a storefront Chinese restaurant. I was last and ended up lagging behind them. To my rational mind, it was weird, but in the dream it was completely usual to buy this thing from this type of seller as a cheap snack. The other thing I recall is a sense of urgency, and that perhaps things weren’t what they could have been, for all the mall looked fairly busy.

Another sequence involved going into a broken down amusement park, small, which morphed into more of a playground, with adjacent Soviet-looking run down buildings. There was a downpour and we all sought shelter under playground structures, tables, or wherever we could, if we weren’t already prepared. I tried to get under something and found the side wall went to close to the ground, and was one of the last left standing.

That morphed into a similar looking “park” or square that was in North Korea, though it seemed a bit prosperous for that, in retrospect. I was meeting people there or something, and passed along a tote bag that I hadn’t even looked in to a contact. I saw when he looked into it that it was shrinkwrapped bundles of magazines, Playboy and something else. Contraband. The clearest thing about that dream segment was an oppressive fear, similar in a way to the pervasive fear of nuclear holocaust that some of us grew up with, but not as low-key. I remember terror that we might have been seen as doing something wrong or being with the wrong person, and the need to get out of there.

Next I was in a house that was the one my great-grandmother owned, and was in the family until my great uncle died. I regretted not having the money at the time. They sold it for very little, but it needed work. My grandmother’s 1/3 of the proceeds in part paid for her new septic system, still so new that the builder who bought the property finagled things to ensure he could use it for one of the new houses being built. But I digress. Near as I can tell, I lived there. And while it was not in North Korea, there was almost the same fear of the government and being spied upon in place. There was just a pretense of freedom over it. Someone else was there. I don’t know or remember who, now, and there were other people I saw who didn’t live there. In the sky there were balloons, more like zeppelins, but small, that were a show of presence by the government. After they passed by, a more zealously revolutionary friend stopped to let me know that the revolution was starting. Apparently the main thing we were going to do was show we simply didn’t take the powers that be seriously, mocking them rather than battling them. He drove off with big balloons trailing behind his car, mockeries of their observation balloon things I had seen just before. That put me into full alert, because all hell was going to break loose and he’d made the mistake of not spreading the word as thoroughly as could be. I grabbed a few provisions and went with whoever the woman was in the same house to what in real life was my grandmother’s house, driving in what I am sure was an old Dodge Dart. Green.

At the other house was a woman I did not know, a little girl who was her daughter, and someone who may or may not have been my mother and/or grandmother. They were surprised to learn the revolution had started, which was when I knew word had spread poorly, or too many people just had no idea or interest. I agreed to take the unknown mother and daughter with us after the woman said “I don’t drive” when asked about driving. I started looking for provisions, mainly food, and putting some into a cloth bag. But not much, weirdly, being selective with no apparent rhyme or reason. To my shock, my grandfather was sitting at a table in the kitchen, not dead, but so feeble he may as well have been. I had to decide on the spot that he wasn’t going to go with us and would be left to his fate. If he wasn’t simply an apparition. Going through cabinets that weren’t where they really were (they were by the porch door, on the wall where the original kitchen sink had been, where the table was in later years), there were a huge number of cans of beans. I found one on the bottom that was bulging top and bottom, and on the bottom edge had actually sprung a leak. I was completely disgusting when I got spoiled beans on my hand. Looking in an upper cabinet, I found it almost completely full of boxes of matches. Wondered why they’d have stockpiled THAT many matches, but knew I wanted some. While grabbing a couple boxes and trying to decide whether to take more, I noticed that most of them had been made in North Korea. I went back into the dining room and living room one more time to talk to people, but after that I woke up.

As for what it means, well, not that odd to be nervous of the government, concerned about spying, the economy, the need to be prepared for trouble, and generally feeling that things aren’t what they once were or could be. North Korea could be indicative of that, if you take it as a direction we don’t want to be going but seemingly are, however far we may appear to have to go. On the other hand, it’s not that odd to dream something that suggests North Korea as a tenderbox or danger to world stability, despite its size.

I May Have Started This

Waaaaaaay back about 2003 I described Die Hard as my favorite Christmas movie. I feel like it has taken ten years for it to become something of a meme, enough for people to say that, yes, Die Hard is not a “Christmas movie.”

For the record, I meant it tongue in cheek. I had developed a tradition of rewatching Die Hard at this time of year because it’s so worth watching again, and the Christmas elements made it seem timely. The same is true of While You Were Sleeping, even if that is not a “teach it in how-to-make-a-decent-film class” the way Die Hard is.

Arguably the meme peaked for me a few weeks ago when I saw a character is Josh Roseman’s fantastic Secret Santa ebook refer to Die Hard as his favorite Christmas movie.

So while I sympathize with Sean Hackbarth in his defense of it on Facebook, I am more inclined to agree with Doug Mataconis et al.

But I reserve the right to keep calling it “my favorite Christmas movie” if only out of habit. It’s a Wonderful Film.

Posting Under the Influence…

Of grief and anger, of feeling the fool, of the overdue shedding of illusion or delusion, however much self-inflicted, is not necessarily conducive to writing only well-considered, entirely accurate, or otherwise ideal text. Venting will do that. Recognition of your own stubborn obtuseness will do that.

Thinking

I was getting ready to start this post and happened upon this one, in which Julie says one of the things I have been thinking, but in fewer words than I might have achieved. I have worried about authenticity. Not merely in expressing myself online, but in living my days, pursuing my works.

So. I have been job hunting, in response to Deb going on disability, on the idea that I both need to at least make up the shortfall, and that I am free to pursue such a thing. I love my part-time job that had more or less perfect SAHD hours around her schedule, but it was all I generally felt I could do, besides herding kids and being a crappy housekeeper and an awesome cook. Yeah, I kept thinking “write, dude” and similar things, since when would I have even that much of an opening. Yet I didn’t even keep blogging up well. Whenever the question of what I really want comes up, though, writing is way at the top. Even if it’s blogging.

That was a great thing about my job in outsourced Microsoft support years ago. While in one product, during an annual review I expressed how much I would love doing work centered around writing. That was part of a career growth kind of thing, as I recall. The manager, who was fantastic, didn’t see much chance of that happening, yet under my next manager it did. I had more to do with that than management did, apart from tolerance, initially, and doing what Microsoft wanted, when one of my counterparts there effectively appointed me to full time “web response” support of the product. This was a new thing. It had only been done by escalation level people at Microsoft itself, by our primary weekend guy, and ad hoc by me and a colleague, in any available time we could find between calls. The weekend guy would handle the cases he got as far as he could, then escalate them, even if they were easy. One Monday, Microsoft assigned them all to me and that was it for phone support. I was writing from then on, with rare exceptions, and was one of the pioneers.

Things that make me think.

I’ve been doing a web site migration for an extended family member who had some sort of falling out with his original designer and host. There was more to fix than I might have expected; ways in which they were sloppy. I figure it’s because of a graphics person going into web development, versus someone with a programming background. It’s been a blast. I could do this a lot, but I’d need to farm out graphics to build sites for people that needed new/nice ones. I can do simple, though I lack the tools I once had, and the money to buy nice ones.

I got a call from an unsolicited prospective employer. On the phone I said I was interested, but the guy was skeptical due to the commute. He had read my town wrong. Off the phone, I found it’d be at least 110 miles a day round trip, an hour minimum each way. I did math. They pay over the amount I must make net of added costs for things like commuting and tax considerations, but not enough even to pay for gas at a charitable price. Then there is the opportunity cost of the hours driving, other car costs, the fact it starts out temp, albeit long term, and that I would loathe working in the industry. Which, near as I can tell, is closely involved with making Obamacare fly. That and the type of work is the secondary type I seek, the “or I could do this.” I got an effective rate of pay for the hours added to what I spend on my PT job that is well below my PT job’s hourly rate (which is just $5 below what they pay before doing the math).

There wouldn’t be enough money to move nearer the job and support me in a room or small apartment plus send enough here to keep things rolling. Since we apparently are separating again but for real this time, moving out is actually a goal, but isn’t going to happen until and unless it’s viable. We have a good arrangement and set of roles, and that would shake things up far beyond money. With her home, we have changed roles, so I am no longer the main crappy housekeeper, laundress and dishwasher, but I am still the primary cook. In job hunting, I have had a low key “I can relocate” aspect that I hadn’t before. At a price and within reason, though what’s reasonable depends on price, as always.

That made me think about what do I want to do, or particularly not do. Do I even want a job job? The bottom line for making up Deb’s shortfall is to nearly double what I make from the PT job. We once had ads on sites and peaked at almost 2/3 of that number. From blogging. Or more accurately, from residual value of having blogged and run a blog carnival. I had some resentments that led me to mostly stop blogging, and to keep starting new sites that’d be mine alone. In fact, I have a conundrum that was going to be another post. We decided to return to AV, which I’d never loved the idea of leaving, the act of which lost us most of our audience and momentum. We were staying together. We would have a joint blog again. Happy days are here again. I had actually made a bit of progress with a solo blog, settling on one to build. Albeit not as I’d originally planned. The site in question was going to be a portal to posts at various blogs on various topics (more blogs, topical ones, easier to get ads), while also having original content, and importantly, promoting myself as a “help you create/maintain a blog or web site” service for side money. When we were really screwed financially, Deb did a brilliant job of building multiple income streams that by themselves might not support us, but contributed, and in some cases bordered on being “yawn money.”

Yawn money is a term a friend and former colleague introduced me to (not sure if he coined it) for things that bring in money while you sleep. Anything that gives you residuals or royalties would be like that. Ditto for ads. Once you get past the initial work. Selling something like crochet patterns isn’t far removed, where you do a fair bit of work, but then it’s a download with automated sales, or worst case, sending e-mail with them to buyers. My ideas for that have extended to reviving the blogging enough to generate revenue again. That’s not so much yawn money as it is getting paid indirectly for writing. It becomes yawn money in that you can coast for a while before it goes away. And to writing a book I have had in mind, though I could blog the story serially as well. It’s a business experiences thing.

Now, I should pursue some of this regardless of whether I search for full time work, even if I am going to set my standards low for what I accept. Especially if I set them low. I keep thinking there is something I am missing. A way to make lightning strike. Like it’s a game and I need to learn to play it.

One of the things that kept me from blogging was the fact too many of the wrong people read me, and I had to watch what I said. It’s not so bad as the Facebook account where you’d barely know I had a political opinion, due to the diversity among friends, and especially the vocalness of the leftier, sometimes almost to the point of commie, people there. I sometimes want to throw all caution to the wind and be myself. Which also applies when I am looking for work, blogging on my real name site that is oriented mainly to that end.

In fact, I have developed mixed feelings about this identity. Too many people know the real one, or could figure it out. At the same time, if what I am selling is that I write, that I know something about business and economics, that I managed/edited a thing on those topics that was in its day a big deal, then how am I to deal with the fact that I can’t admit to those things without revealing my pen name, and revealing all my opinions and maybe the less [adjective chain here] things I might have written along the way.

I am also thinking that I am at a juncture like the one when I job hunted following college. I sought accounting work because that was my degree, but my heart wasn’t in it. I didn’t know what else to look for, though, and I stubbornly resisted taking just any job anywhere and seeing what happened. That is the correct tactic. You explore, learn an industry, make contacts, get work experience cred in general, and avoid having zero income or doing something that can’t lead anywhere. Because I kept adding tech stuff, in the form of software I’d used, to my resume, on the idea accounting needed computer skills and especially knowledge of Lotus 1-2-3, eventually I landed in tech support. Hiring people saw an opportunity I had no idea existed. One that was ideal for me.

Now I feel somewhat the same about support, at least in the call center sense, if not about tech generally. Thus I had focused more on “analyst” as a job title, be it called business, systems, data, or something else that still means you’re in the same continuum. Aspects of this harken back to my business background and experience, go along with my ability to cross-communicate between geeks and ordinary people, the times I’ve worked on determining business needs, and my ability to hold a big flow in my head while also handling detail and accuracy.

Obviously, I have an idea of something I could do and might enjoy, but I am not sure anyone will hire me at it, or that I’d be comfortable starting at a high level version. Yet I keep thinking that I am missing something, and that an astute hiring person might say “aha, you could do…” some cool thing I had never considered.

I’ve done self-employment a lot. I’d have done more over the past few years, but for tax complications and SAHD duties. Working on a web site for someone is ideal as a do at home task, for all I am not obliged to do things that way any more. Though it is actually more possible, given the presence of another parent and more viable age of the kids. The tax complications are gone. My weird reticence about charging adequately still needs work. It was another factor in making me not care whether I did business.

Any conclusions? Well, I am going to work on some of the side money angles, and on associating some stuff with my real name without necessarily shouting out my pen name to the world. There is a business blog can be revived easily, and that was the single most successful ad vehicale we ever had, the one that generated most of the money over time. It might still be, had it not lain fallow. I’ll personal blog, and it’ll probably be here, despite my mixed feelings about the joint versus sole blogs. I’d been meaning to post here more than has happened, and to migrate posts from the old version that was in Expression Engine, which doesn’t port over in a friendly, convenient way. Personal blogs weren’t a big seller for ads, but hey. The only blog with an ad is a tech blog I never post at, and that is a candidate for revival. That and the business one go with skills I am emphasizing for Real Job potential. I also had a site that was going to be my next business. It never went away, but I have it blank right now because the content, including what I did for services, pricing and all, was stale. I mean to do something with that, even if I do limited business. That is because I added that as a position on my resume, as well as because, well, any work I can get is much needed income. If it actually flies, I can see a tiny office in my future, which would be a nice supplement to a tiny apartment or room rental I also see in my future, eventually. I’m going to emphasize more the web stuff than I did before. I’m going to stop failing to play with technology. It was exhilarating recently to make a laptop work, including tearing it apart more than necessary and seeing how it ticked. I have computer carcasses and parts to go through and mostly purge, but in the process I can get my groove back. Funds are an issue, obviously, but I learned the hard way you can’t build or even keep a business running without spending on it in ways that get you and keep you current. I used to be angry that everything I took in at the old business went to home expense and I felt unable to put money into anything “extraneous.” The office rent got paid, though sometimes that was an eventuality rather than a given, but the technology I worked with got older and older, internally and not just with the client. If I couldn’t pay me enough to live on (and I felt like I couldn’t trim things as much as I needed – funny what necessity changes) and keep both the taxes and medical insurance/expenses paid, I certainly couldn’t buy new computers, devices, software, training, whatever. And that is part of the problem with my weird reticence about pricing adequately. Which back then wasn’t a problem, long as I charged the clients for everything I did. Too few clients and too much restriction by one on my ability to service others was a problem, but the hourly rate was at least close to where it should have been.

That job prospect I mentioned saved me turning them down by simply not calling me back or e-mailing as promised. I was prepared to say no. That’s something I am learning! I can say no. I don’t have to take work that pays too little or has demands that are all wrong. Obviously there needs to be some work being had, and it can be a matter of marginal revenue in a storm, but the abuse can be limited.

I figure as I blog, as I muck out my room and work through the old computers, I might have ideas. I am feeling hopeful and my brain feels like it’s funtioning fully now, so I am more likely to have a clever, creative idea and be able to follow it.

If the economy were better, I might be focused purely on jobs, but I have already been turned down for no-brainer opportunities. That’s an element I forgot above: The need to piece a living together, to be a rennaisance man, perhaps.

Sprechen Sie Deutch?

There are 21 counties in America where a substantial number speak German at home, which I agree is more fascinating than the amazing number where that is true of Spanish.

The real story lies in where, and in what other languages are included. Predictably, in my neck of the woods, it is Portuguese. There is enough of this that you see a demand for portuguese speakers to work for doctors, and bilingual signs in places like banks. The same applies to Chinese in Eastern Massachusetts. When I lived in Quincy, you were almost out of place if you weren’t either Irish – and not necessarily umpteenth generation off the boat – or Chinese. Bilingual signs everywhere, and a Chinese supermarket near my apartment.

No surprise there’s a lot of French up near the border between Canada and the Northeast.

Surprising might be the lack of Pennsylvania counties where German is 10% or more, and the number where it is not the highest even when looking at the specs for the uncolored counties that fell under 10% of one or another.

Awesome Sex

Dear Daughter hit a nerve because it is exactly how I feel, and I’d lately seen too much of the dad with shotgun meme. We always had a saying for how we treated our kids: they’re little, not stupid. For the shotgun parents I would say: they’re people, not property.

I would also caution any young person not to be me, and any family member or peer not to do what was done to me. Not even entirely sure how, but I came to feel in my bones that sex was evil and I was vile for wanting it, and more so, that nobody would ever be interested in me romantically. I “learned” that girls are completely disinterested in sex, that there is something deeply wrong with me for expecting them to allow me (but not necessarily other guys, maybe, sometimes) to have it with them, and that they are in total, complete control, doling it out as a gift on impossible to comprehend whims.

And I wasn’t even raised Baptist, or even Catholic. Though I did fall under the influence of a messed up Baptist girl along the way.

So it was that I all but didn’t date, reached 42 expecting I never would date, marry, have sex, or have kids. This was overcome by blogging. Once I became sure I’d never marry or have kids, I did, but to more of a best friend than a romantic partner, and detrimentally without having experience what is out there and how to navigate alien relations. I once saw relations between the sexes compared to practice for relations between completely alien species.

While I would not advise becoming a parent at 15, I would certainly advise my kids to LIVE. I feel like I didn’t live for decades, and continue to have sort of a half life due to my reticence that is so hard to shake. With more than a touch of resentment at all I presumably missed. I was and am completely convinced that if we broke up, I would not date and would be single for the rest of my life. Not blind, of course. Never blind. In my head I’m a teenager or twenty-something, still trying to figure things out. As well if I did not notice the young and attractive who are only my age in my mind, because that just makes me sad and disappointed at what I missed.

So go, enjoy, live life, have experiences, be bold. Yes, be aware of cautions and consequences, but be a human.

If I Were Religious…

I might be intrigued by the fact that only 4.9% of the universe is matter and such that we can perceive. Most of the rest is dark energy. Plus some dark matter thrown in. OK, even if I were ot religious per se.

Hmmm… energy we can’t perceive directly. All around us. Suffusing or underlying the material world. Use the Force, Luke. Channel the One Power, Rand. Pray for God’s power to achieve miracle, Father. What do you mean consciousness appears not to be an entirely corporal thing, scientists?

My take on dark energy and the unseen has long been that there is so much more to the universe than we can perceive or perhaps even conceive of, and it could open endless possibilities. If there is that much energy extant and we could ever tap it… and it’s everywhere. Tesla would be pleased. If it’s a well of all the “souls” that ever were or even may be, to which “you” return, well, wouldn’t that be something.

It sure fires up ideas for fiction.

Marriage

Speaking of being late to the party, some of us have been talking about privatizing marriage and polyamory for years:

So let’s start with the fundamental question: What is marriage—and what do we want it to be? Is marriage a government program, meant to incentivize certain social goods? Is it a religious institution that should be separated from the state entirely? Is it a personal romantic choice?

In fact, it was our agreement on then less-promulgated views of marriage that went a long way toward establishing our relationship back in 2003.

Speaking of Obsessing…

 

You Are a Red Gummy Bear

You are the gummy bear most associated with raspberry and cherry flavors. And like a berry, you pack a lot of flavor.
You are an intense person with strong feelings and reactions. Life can be very sweet for you – and sometimes bittersweet.

You feel like your life is full of ups and downs, but you just notice them more than most people. You are very emotional.
You experience the world on a deeper level than most people. This can be exhilarating, but it can also be disturbing.

When you love someone or something, you develop a strong obsession. You don’t go halfway on anything.
You love luxury and you love to treat yourself to something nice. You spoil yourself a bit – no one else is going to!

Facebook and Me

Once upon a time, I was in the fourth grade, lo these many years ago. 1970/1971, to be exact. I had my first crush, which was not something I understood or could have labeled at the time. She was in another classroom, I never learned her name, and when I tried to figure out the next year who she’d been, I couldn’t. Nobody looked like her. It was formative, in that the way I felt was how I expected love to feel, and it may have helped set the stage for my addiction to unrequited serial crushes that started in seventh grade. The closest thing I had to a crush between those two times was the year-younger sister of a friend in sixth grade, with whom I now work. If anything, that one set a pattern of being terrified, rather than merely clueless. Anyway, in fourth grade, the peak experience was when we were in much-hated gym class at the same time, doing some kind of dance thing, and I got to hold her hand briefly in the course of that. It was like… magic. And she looked nothing like Meg Ryan.

Much later, in 2007, I was invited to Facebook, which I joined under my given name, but didn’t use for an extended time. Basically just had a couple of former colleagues as FB friends. I forget the impetus, if there was one, but before it quite got to where everyone was on Facebook, I became more active and added a lot more people. I thought it was cool to find people from as far back as elementary school, in most cases getting to know them as I never actually did before. In the most extreme case, I friended someone I’ve known her entire life, since she was nine months younger than me. Her father was my father’s best friend, and her parents were the witnesses when my parents got married.

I was surprised some of them even wanted to connect with me, since from my perspective maybe I was embarrassed, which for me tends not to fade or be forgotten, or didn’t like them, or thought they didn’t like me. Time. It passes. There are clear exceptions, and some I don’t understand, as they tend to be people I did like, remember fondly, or have no reason to be embarrassed about.

So it came to be that I even had many of my crushes as FB friends, especially the most major ones, including the first major one, from seventh grade, and the last major one, notable for having finally broken me of fixating on some girl or another – or more than one at a time, sometimes – and convincing myself I was in lurve, capturing That Feeling. Or trying to. The huge exception is my ninth grade crush, arguably my biggest, who strangely, since we never dated, was the first ever to say “I love you” to me. I even have one of the only two girls I think of as people I dated before meeting Deb, whom I arguably didn’t date, just married. Quibbling would give you a couple more, including the one of the major crushes who convinced me no girl would ever have me, and one whose sister’s wedding I was her date for.

But who was the mystery girl?

Finally, this girl named Cheryl came along and friended me. I didn’t really remember her, and only vaguely recognized her maiden name. I never knew her at all. Then someone posts a class picture, with her front and center, in sixth grade. There she is. Looking identifiably the same. She looked completely different, later, with the short hair I actually remember enough to associate with the name.

So I discussed it with her and learned she had not been at the school in fifth grade and part of sixth, thus not being able to identify her the next year. I am so close to certain it was her as to make no doubt. She described our gym teacher as sadistic, and was pleased she brightened the experience a tiny bit. Heh. He wasn’t like the elementary teacher, but the main high school gym teacher I had is one of those Facebook people I have steadfastly not friended. Between my elementary gym teacher and my moderate degree of disability, I was put off gym, or the more recent fad of going to commercial gyms voluntarily, forever. She was tickled, because she didn’t think anyone liked her in elementary school, and pretty much had only one friend. Made worse by an abusive dad. In a fit of synchronicity, she once lived in an apartment just three houses away from where I am now, her favorite one ever. Now she’s in another state, with a superb husband, grown kids, and cute grandkids.

Privacy? All the internet are belong to us/AOL revisited? Scary data mining? Well, yeah. I have a friend who won’t go on FB, or anything else, because she is convinced it will make it easier for the scary conservatives to round her up when they liquidate all the Jews, forgetting that fascists who did that and the like are of the left. Yet I can see being concerned, while it’s also going to have to come to fighting technology and non-privacy with the same. And yeah, it stole the thunder of the blogs circa when I started ten years ago, where you had a sense of community and cross-commenting and linking, but the mega blog sites that want to be news sites also did that (we always talk about how we missed the monetization boat, yet it might not be all that) I will always be appreciative of Facebook resolving that longstanding mystery for me, as well as connecting me with the lives of people I might never have crossed paths with again. That is what it’s all about.

Like Ground Beef?

You Are Grounded

If slow and steady wins the race, then you’re going to be crowned grand champion. You are consistently consistent.
You pride yourself on being dependable and reliable. You are a rock, and you are especially loyal to your friends and family.

You’re the kind of person who finds it hard to say no to someone in need, and why would you even want to? Helping out gives you a sense of purpose.
You do well with a routine and consistency. You find ‘boring’ to be quite rich and deep. You enjoy perfecting your everyday tasks.

You are agreeable whenever possible. Disagreeing stresses you out, so you only stand your ground when it’s necessary.
You are patient and very open to changing your mind. You are always willing to hear someone out, and you are a good mediator.

Happy Anniversary!

On this day nine years ago, we were on our way from Fresno to Las Vegas, arriving late in the afternoon at the Luxor. After checking in, we searched for the place where you pay the government for the right to be married. And searched. Eventually, we found it. A clever sales guy outside snagged our business for the Las Vegas Wedding Chapel. No idea where we’d have ended up, left to our own devices. That worked out, and we rewarded him for the good sense to patrol the opposite side of the street from the mob of other chapel sales people.

And so we got married, as originally planned, sight unseen, we’d hit it off that well long distance. Is friendship the best basis for marriage? Does agreeing on most things supply longevity that might not be there if it were mainly about an overheated attraction? Perhaps. We each had some second thoughts, even then, and we’ve not been problem-free. Yet we don’t seem to be going anywhere, and non-traditional though we may sometimes be, the kids do not appear to be doomed to grow up in a sundered household, as I and so many did. Have the rocky parts ultimately strengthened us? Arguably so.

All told, I can’t imagine my life alone, or with that hypothetical wasn’t-gonna-happen someone else. Or without the three kids. These specific kids, born of this particular mother. I can regret my age and timing, and ponder mightabeens, but wow. Just wow.

Time travel to the post I wrote after my return home, five days later, apparently my first substantive post following the wedding.

Mystery Solved

There is a mystery that has haunted me since 1971. I never knew the name of my first crush, in fourth grade. My second was not until seventh grade, and in fourth I didn’t understand what I was experiencing, except that it was magic, and how I always expected it to feel later on.

The girl in question was in my grade, but not in my class. Multiple classes would go to gym together, at least sometimes. The high point was in gym, learning some kind of dance that involved temporarily holding hands before changing partners. It was, to overuse the term, magic holding her hand oh so briefly.

The next school year, perhaps in part as I became more aware of what it was that had happened to me, I kept an eye out, but could never identify which girl on one of the classes it might have been. That seemed odd, and I was forever baffled.

I seem to recall associating her later with the song I Think I Love You, which I loved when I was in fifth grade, but don’t remember being aware of until then, though it came out in 1970 (fourth grade was 70/71).

Anyway, courtesy of Facebook, I am as certain as it is possible to be at this point that I know who she was. How amazing is that! The girl in question came late to the large number of former classmates who’ve friended me, just a couple weeks ago. I placed the name, but had no mental image of her. Apparently we rode on the same bus one year, and that’s mainly how she remembers me.

Another classmate posted a picture of her sixth grade class. It includes that new Facebook friend, looking very familiar. Two years later, but could it be….?

The clincher is that she was in my school through fourth grade, then moved away, returning halfway through sixth, in time to be in that 1973 class picture. Thus being unable to identify her in fifth grade, as if she had disappeared. It would have been easy to miss her return, and lose all track once we went to the larger school.

It made her day to learn of this, since she thought nobody liked her back then. It thrills me to have a name, and have her as a newfound friend.

$63>$5

When I got my stents, they put me on Effient, which is now $63 a month for my copay. At the time, we asked why that versus Plavix, which is $5, and the hospital cardiologist thought it possible, even likely, that my regular cardiologist (a funny description for someone I have seen once) would switch after a month of “and we mean it” treatment at the hands of the newer drug. I understand they have slightly different mechanisms, but the main thing is the result.

It’s been a month. Took my last Effient today, and have to get one or the other today, for morning. I am still waiting for a call back from cardiology. She is not in today, so they were leaving my cardio a message. We are so strapped this week, it borders on being not possible to fill the prescription, but not doing so could be deadly. Lovely situation. And one I’ll have to start planning around, so as not to be in it again.

Even if we get that drug this month, it’s a huge hit to the budget if we can’t switch, which is already hundreds a month in the hole. That’s a big kick in the balls, being worse off in real terms than before we increased our income hundreds per month this year, to the point where we are poised at the edge of the donut hole. Get into the donut hole, and suddenly costs are more than what you make extra, between tax effects and loss of income-based benefits of the sort we’d prefer not to need.