addiction, daily, family, interweb

In my kingdom, there shall be a ban.

I am, admittedly, awfully new to the parenting game, but man I gotta tell you, this shit is hard.  It’s a huge learning curve; every new situation, every meal, every everything is first and foremost me trying to figure out where the booby traps are, what the words are that might set off the next chain of exploding land mines.  The kids were in this family before me, and there are so many days when I would tell you myself that they run this joint, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

They, of course, do not feel the same way.  Though I am usually decent and amusing company for them, there are more than a few moments when they look around for their father, likely hoping that he’ll notice how his wife is once again trying to rule with an iron fist when they’d be much happier to have her sucking up and asking for their approval.  These looks do not go over well with me, and I’m beginning to notice that my ire is compounding over time.  The more I don’t respond, the more I want to and the more likely it becomes that I’m eventually going to.  Every day, for example, I struggle to resist the urge to plan and legislate every second of their time at home.  I am oh-so-tired of cleaning up after them, of saying “please don’t eat pineapple fruit cups on the couch” and then having to clean a sticky mess off the cushions when they get up.  I am so done saying “don’t carry soda cans into your bedroom” and then having to buy ant poison for the subsequent and inevitable infestation.  If they had chore lists and set punishments for their dumbassery, maybe I’d get a break from the relentless movement and the neverending urge to scream at the top of my lungs in frustration.

But as the parent who is the most present in their lives (my sweet husband works a lot), I am most often consumed with worry rather than anger.  I’m 43 years old, and I’ve seen enough of the world to know that there’s some scary, dangerous stuff out there.  I’ve also been around the block enough times to know that most of the time, it’s our own bad choices that bring the shitstorm down on our heads.  I would very much like to save them from either of those truths whenever possible.  I am therefore seriously considering a mandate from my high position as step-mother:

HENCEFORTH AND FORTHWITH, ALL HUMANS UNDER THE AGE OF 39 WHO LIVE IN THIS HOUSE WILL IMMEDIATELY (AND WITHOUT HOPE OF SUCCESSFUL APPEAL) RELINQUISH THE EQUIPMENT REFERRED TO AS CELL PHONES AND THEN TRAVEL BACK IN TIME, POST HASTE, TO THE RENAISSANCE ERA, WHERE THEY WILL START READING ACTUAL LITERATURE AND DRINKING TEA AND NEVER AGAIN UTTER THE WORDS “YOU TUBE” OR PERFORM THE MANEUVER “DAB” EVER, EVER, EVER AGAIN.  ALSO, THEY WILL WEAR VICTORIAN CLOTHES AND SPEAK AS THOUGH THEY HAVE SOME SENSE AND A DECENT EDUCATION.

I don’t know…maybe it sounds a little extreme, but it’s beginning to feel like desperate times call for desperate measures.  I mean, I was about 18 when I started learning about computers and building my first, scary-looking websites, but the integration with technology nowadays is freakin’ scary.  It’s more than just wanting to play on your phone when you’re bored, people (including children) today are so addicted to their phones that cell phone addiction has actually become a thing.  It adversely effects concentration, test taking, and even sleep.  Consequently, what formerly was an occasional flight of fancy about taking the phones away from the kids and returning to board games, books, and actual eye contact has now become an almost zealous belief in the inherent evil of cell phones and a determination that next time some shit goes down and punishment is imminent, removing the phones (and all other access to social media) might well be the first (joyous) step.

Aside from the scary addiction factor, I’m also worried by the extent to which cell phones are causing our kids to grow up much earlier than they should.  And I know that wouldn’t be possible if we were monitoring our kids’ phone usage as closely as parents once monitored our internet usage, but for the most part, for whatever reason, we aren’t looking.  Ironically, I think we were in far less danger than are the kids and teens of this generation.  I mean, suicides are happening because of Facebook and Snapchat, y’all.  I wouldn’t want to have to tell people that’s what happened to my kid, especially since the mere idea of a death caused by something so intangible is still pretty much unfathomable even to people my age who were in the first high school level computer classes as teenagers.

How does something so small get so big and important in the lives of children?

I think my sister (in-law) has it right, as usual, and we should be seriously limiting screen time and snatching the phones at random–right out of the hands of the children we love–to see what the hell is actually going on in their lives, what information and everyday horror they’re being presented with in a place that is so very obvious and easily accessible, and yet WE NEVER FREAKIN’ LOOK.  I mean, I had to do some serious plotting to read my first smut book at 15, and dammit, I don’t think my step-kids should have it any easier.  Also, if they want to know how to build a bomb or start a cult, I really think they should have to perform a little exercise and walk their crazy little asses down to the library, but hey, maybe that’s just me getting a bit drunk on all that new step-mother power.

But I’m serious, y’all…I’m worried.  I’m going to try to pay more attention, but I have a feeling that it’s only going to take a feather to push me over the edge of reason on this subject, and I’m taking all the cell phones with me on the trip down.

daily

Hot, empathetic hatred

I like to think that I’ve gotten more empathetic as I’ve gotten older.  I used to be horrible about it; in any given bad/sad/horrific situation, I had no idea what to say to those involved or whether to say anything at all–consequently, silence was my default position.  Nine times out of ten–I have no doubt–this was wrong.  “Socially inept” doesn’t even begin to describe it.  But as I said, I do feel like I’m better now.  I now know, for example, that when someone dies unexpectedly or too young, just being there and listening is best.  Dispensing platitudes is ridiculous and redundant, not to mention ultimately being painful for everyone involved.  Even in everyday situations, I try to be more aware of other people and ask first before offering suggestions or prospective solutions to the problems they present, just to make sure that’s what’s wanted.  Surprisingly often, folks just need someone to listen.

For the past couple of years, I have hated my husband’s job right along with him.  I’d tell him how sorry I was that he was miserable when he sent me pictures of the thermometer inside his department at work and when he said that he never stopped sweating from the time he walked in to the time he left.  I’ve cringed and shaken my head when he described how sometimes, just being in the immediate vicinity of the machines is hot enough to cause the skin on his arms to bubble.  (Honestly, I thought I pretty much understood even though I’d never experienced anything at all like that.  I have a decent imagination, and I survived childhood without air conditioning, even though I was one of those unfortunate kids who started sweating as soon as the thermometer topped 80.)

Y’all…I had no clue, and to be absolutely honest, I most likely still don’t.  This afternoon, we drove over to my mom’s for a short visit, and I managed to lock my keys (spare key included) in the car.  It was 97 degrees, I parked in the full sun, and my car is black.  For about half an hour, Hubby and I pulled on my passenger door constantly in order to be able to move the metal hanger back and forth and (seventeen years and two heat strokes later), we finally got it unlocked.  In the last five minutes of the struggle (before it was ultimately won), I had to give up and go back in the house.  I felt like I was about to vomit, my fingertips were both burned and bruised, and I have never sweat so much in my life.  Aside from sweating even more than I was and bearing the brunt of the frustration with how long it was taking to break into my car, my husband was totally fine.  When we were finally in the car on the way back home and I was pressing the lukewarm water bottle to my wrists in an attempt to cool off even just a little bit, I asked him if that was as bad as his work.

He was hesitant to answer, I think, because he doesn’t want me to feel too awful about the job he has to do to support us all.  “It’s pretty bad, babe.  But what’s worse is when they turn on the fans and all they do is circulate the scorching air and dehydrate you more.  They’ll run the fans today.”

We have a plan in place to get him out of there in a few years.  The eventual solution begins with him going back to school in the fall, a course of action that will be hard on all of us and seriously eat into the time we get to spend together.  But I hate that place almost as much as he does, and he needs to get the hell out of there, and that’s what I’ll say from here on out instead of shaking my head and thinking I understand.  It turns out that sometimes, the socially appropriate response is to share equally in the other person’s hatred.

And really, I should have learned that lesson from my sister years ago when she told me (at a particularly crappy moment) that she understood completely and that–in the event I ever found myself needing to be rid of a body- she’d be happy to help me with the disposal and get damned creative doing it.  I could not have been more grateful to her for saying it; I badly needed a laugh, but it was also really great to know that no matter what happened, there was someone there with me.

daily, family

An impossible-to-describe, once-in-a-lifetime (if you’re lucky) kind of love.

Mama is pretty sure she’s won the son-in-law lottery.  She outright says so all the time, but last night, she called needing help with one of her poems-in-progress and asked me to list the qualities that make me describe my husband as the best person I know.  I’m not very good at the lists (and let me assure you, this is not the first such request that I’ve received from her over the years), and so I did a lot of hem-ing and haw-ing and stammering around the edges of the subject with no idea in what direction I should go first.

Why is my new husband the best person I know?  Basically, she was asking what I loved about him, and anyone who’s ever been asked that question knows that it’s not so easy to answer, particularly without sounding like you’re running for reelection as the mayor of Shmaltztown.  Obviously, that’s never been me.  I’m also not the girl who oohs and aahs over romantic dinners or flowers on special occasions: In other words, it takes a different kind of man–and a different kind of relationship–to get my attention in the first place, let alone keep it.

IMG_0848
St. Louis Botanical Gardens, on our honeymoon.

I have to admit that it helps that I’ve known the man since he wasn’t a man at all.  When I met him, he was a too-tall 12-year-old with Tim Curry lips, an unfailing respect for his mother, and a kindness that is truly unheard of in a kid.  Despite a first marriage that began before his teenage years ended, three kids in six years, a given up dream for a job in the medical field, a medical discharge from his second dream job in the Air Force, and disappointment of every sort at every turn, by the time I saw him again in 2013, he was still the person I remembered–how does anyone manage to stay so decent after all that shit?  We smiled at one another constantly, and I felt totally at ease with him in a way that I never had with any other person to whom I was attracted.  Almost from the start, I wondered how we’d managed to get and stay so far away from one another for almost all of our adult lives.

Our absence from one another’s lives seems particularly farfetched when you consider the following:  His sister is my best friend to such a degree that I stopped calling her my friend and started calling her my sister years ago.  When I moved back to Illinois from North Carolina at the end of 2014, I moved into his mom and sister’s house.  All of this ready-made closeness to his family (even independent of my relationship to him) made us getting together a total no-brainer, especially for me; I had just come from a 14 year relationship wherein I was kept as far outside the family circle of the person I was with as it’s possible to be.  In his/our family, I couldn’t possibly feel any more included and loved than I do.  Admittedly, he got a little something from the deal as well:  he had a ready-made family in need of a mother figure, and I was a mother who had only ever wanted a family to care for.  He got someone to take care of him and to help him hold his life together in a real, consistent, and sustainable way, and I got someone who looks at me as though he can’t wait to keep looking at me until (and after) the wrinkles on my face will comfortably hold a ten day rain.

We are quiet together.  We read many of the same books and enjoy most of the same music and television shows.  We are accomplished car singers with widely varied repertoires.  We both detest the president (and liars in general) and want more than anything to run off to a secluded cabin in the woods where we will have so few visitors that whoever finally discovers our bodies will likely only find the bones.  We take pointless day trips in the car just so we can share space only with one another.  (Sometimes, he takes me cruising through the really bad parts of St. Louis so he can show me how good our life together really is…ha!)  He dyes my hair every month without fail, and there’s never so much a hint of griping about it.  He amuses me.  I mean really.  Most of the days we spend together end with me lying in bed massaging the area around my cheekbones, knowing that I’ve once again over-exercised my facial muscles, and I’m going to have to think real hard before I smile the next day, assess whether or not it’s worth the pain.

Mostly, I just can’t believe my luck.  How does a person who has made the mistakes I have end up with a man like this?  He works hard.  He loves consistently and well, without any games or pretense.  He is generous and kind, smart and funny, and he’s secure enough to let me be all of the great (and not-so-great) things I am, too.  He might be younger than me, but there is sometimes an emotional maturity about him that humbles me right down to the soles of my spoiled rotten feet.

In short, I have no idea how I got him (or really what the heck he sees in me), but I’m keeping him as long as I possibly can.

But I didn’t say nearly all of that to Mom because a) it would’ve made me cry, and b) her poem is for little kids and definitely not that long.

daily, weight loss, writing

Full circle(s)

I turned 40 in 2014, and as I was staring down at my much over-candled birthday cake, I made a decision:  I was tired of being fat, and I was going to make sure I never was again.  In the succeeding six months, I lost 60 pounds, which got me within 15 pounds of a normal BMI for the first time since I was ten years old.  I managed to keep it all off for a year before I started dating my sweet husband, and…I guess I can only agree that it’s true what they say about happiness and heaviness:  if the former is a new thing, then it will almost certainly cause the latter.  By the end of 2016, I had to put all of my “skinny” clothes into the boxes that had previously contained my “fat” clothes, but from the moment I did it, I knew I couldn’t stand to keep things that way for long.  I could not go back to plus-size clothing, not with my pear-shaped build (read:  I am not so blessed in the boobies department, and plus-size clothes are made for women who are).

But I ended up keeping the weight longer than I intended.  It turns out that feeding a couple of teenagers means keeping in the house a lot of Oreos, cheddar and sour cream potato chips, ice cream, and pizza, and after more than a year on a calorie counting diet, I found not a single thing on that list that I could resist.  That is…until this week.

ocean recording
Recording the ocean sounds for when I inevitably miss it later.

A week ago last Saturday, we got home from a week in Myrtle Beach.  It was the first vacation we’d ever taken as a family, and the first vacation that the kids had ever had in their lives.  It was a good time, even though the heat was stifling and led to much less time on the beach than we wanted.  But despite the good time and the total joy of being in a place I love with the people I love most in the world, here is what I primarily took away from our vacation:

THERE IS NOT A SINGLE PICTURE OF ME FROM THAT WHOLE AWESOME VACATION THAT I CAN STAND TO LOOK AT.

So I came home, ate about ten more Harry & David’s chocolate covered cherries, and decided that come Sunday, it was back to counting calories for me.  I’ve done great.  As of this morning, I’m down eight pounds and back on the road to being able to wear my sweet American Eagle jeans by fall.  But I’ll tell you what, it feels even more amazing and unbelievable than it did the first time–I can’t believe I’ve found the willpower to do this on top of so recently giving up smoking.  The first time, all I had to do when I felt like eating was light a cigarette.  This week, I haven’t had that fallback and so I had to find something else to occupy my mind and my fingers.  It’s been rough though, I’m not going to claim that it hasn’t.

I have, however, really tried to make lemonade from the lemons.  I started writing again–every day, whether I felt like it or not.  And then, a few days ago, I came back home to online journalling…for the first time in more than four years.  It’s great to be back, and I intend to stay long past the time when I can stand to look at pictures of myself again, perhaps even after my fingers stop itching for a cigarette.

glbt, religion, tv

To B or not to B, that is the question.

I was re-watching the first season of The L Word this afternoon, only half paying attention while I worked the 250th row of my 53rd afghan and drank my afternoon cup of hot green tea.  At some point–somehow–I became a 43-year-old, heterosexual married woman with a couple of step-kids, but in the twenty-some years immediately prior to that, I was pretty serious about being a lesbian.  And the truth is, I still consider myself part of that world.  The feeling becomes all the more acute when I’m in the company of lesbians or when I watch this show:  I still can’t help smiling when Shane comes on screen; I still innately understand and commiserate with Bette and Tina, and I still think Alice and I were meant to be.

This afternoon on the screen,  Shane is talking about sexual fluidity, trying to convince Dana that things aren’t so cut and dried as she believes.  There was a time in my own life when that particular idea would’ve been difficult for me to swallow as well, but it’s certainly several years in the rearview now.  In my late 30s I had this therapist, see.  And while she was all coupled up and happy (as was I at the time), she indicated that should I ever find myself with a few free hours, I really should check out this book, Sexual Fluidity.  I’m not sure why she suggested it.  Probably it had to do with my areas of research and interest–which often tended to run into the vicinity of gender studies–but it could be that my very enlightened and educated therapist also had hella-great gaydar, and I was throwing out mixed signals.  In any case, I read the book.  At least…I read the book in that way graduate students read books when they only want the gist and not the technobabble.  I like to think I got the point, though admittedly I’m not so sure if it’s conclusions were much different from those reached by Alfred Kinsey back in 1948.  Kinsey posited sexuality on a spectrum; Sexual Fluidity seemed to have the same idea, but also claimed that the spectrum wasn’t fixed and might slide in either or both directions over the course of a lifetime or an afternoon.

The thing is, I don’t think the fluidity part actually fits me at all.  I don’t feel like I’ve suddenly skated over to the boy side any more than I used to feel that I had moved over to the girl side.  I do not at any time think: “I like women” or “I like men.”  Instead, it seems to me that I have always loved with specific people in mind, regardless of their biological sex. I love/am attracted to John or Jill, not I love/am attracted to a generic chunk of hims or hers simply because they’re blessed with the right genitalia.

kyra-ghan
Cat and afghan, neither of which give a crap about books, religion, or bisexuality.

At this point, my GLBT friends and family would likely insist that I take ownership of my true label or shut the hell up, and honestly, I would if it didn’t make me, my husband, my ex, my mother, and probably everyone else I know cringe.  Is it just me, or do bisexuals get a freakin’ awful rap even among ourselves?  It’s like…for all our liberal claiming that sexuality doesn’t matter, that rights to marriage, etc. ought to be the same for all couples, we really really REALLY don’t like the idea (or the conception, or the intimation) that sexuality is ever a choice, and bisexuality pretty much proves that notion.  Gay and lesbian Christians like to take their argument to their straight brothers and sisters’ doorstep by appealing to commonly held values:  “I was born this way–God doesn’t make mistakes.” But bisexuals and their partners are often manifest physical proof that this claim isn’t true, or that, at the very least, “born this way” has become a lot harder to pin down.  Were bisexuals born preferring one sex, mandated to switch when they turned 20, and then destined to switch back again a few years later?  Did God really preordain all of that?  This is the kind of intellectual leap that our black or white society doesn’t like to make (despite the fact that they assume God performs much more complicated feats than this every minute of every day all over the world).  

As for me, my problem isn’t God-related.  I’m not sure what I think of God, but I know I don’t much care to have anyone else’s conception pushed at me as the only possible Truth.  Whatever God-idea I eventually arrive at will be one that I know I can live with (and I think the world would be a better place if more people considered God on a personal–instead of a political or societal–level).  Anyway, my problem isn’t God, it’s people.  It’s straight people.  It’s GLBT people.  It’s my own fucking SELF, for the love of God.  Why does it matter to you (or to me) that I’ve been with both men and women in my life?  I’ve gone where I thought I was supposed to be and I’ve stayed as long as I could.  Along the way–the whole way–I’ve been honest about who I was and what I wanted.  My suspicion is that, in doing this, I’ve been quite a bit more decent than most of the other people in the world.  

And yet, when I married my sweet husband last year (after knowing him and his entire family for 25 years and knowing without a doubt that it was freakin’ FATE), I felt like I was suddenly and unequivocally ousted from the group I’d been a very vocal member of for the entirety of that 25 years.  The truth is, I don’t feel any different.  I didn’t wake up the morning after my courthouse wedding and think “I’m not a lesbian anymore.”  I still feel the struggle with every fiber of my being.  I still take it all SO PERSONALLY…at least until I remember that it isn’t so personal anymore.  Now that I’m married to a man, I’m in quite the little pickle:  I still feel like a lesbian and I still consider them “my people.”  And yet they would not be at all pleased to count me among their number, nor would they appreciate at all that I occasionally remain silent and don’t volunteer the information that I no longer belong.  For as much as we all like to act like we’re on the same page and “it’s all good if it’s love,” I just can’t shake this feeling (which I freely acknowledge has no basis in actual facts):  I’m on the outside now, whether or not I choose to own the B in GLBT.

addiction, daily, tv

A cancer-causing fantasy kind of morning

It’s been kind of a rough morning, addiction-wise.  For some reason, ever since I started blogging/writing again, all I’ve wanted to do is chain smoke and there’s not a cigarette to be found in this whole damn house (and there hasn’t been since Memorial Day).  It’s actually getting pretty horrific, the jonesing.  Bad enough that I’m afraid if I leave the house for any reason today, I might end up tackling a smoker who’s just innocently trying to make his way down the damn street.  It’s not looking good for The Kid today, y’all.  She’s contemplating a full out, broad daylight wagon jump and when she lands, apologies are going to be the last thing on her mind (or her nicotined breath).  So anyway, I’m trying to hang on, but I’ve simultaneously got a healthy little fantasy life going on here.  Consequently, I’m thinking the following might be my totally sexy and not at all needy call to The Cigarette Smoking Man (who I can’t even picture beyond the coffin nail in his hand and who I therefore should probably not be naming after a beloved and elusive X Files character or talking to like he’s Cheech to my Chong):

“Heeeeeeyy, man.  How ya doin’?  Hey uh, uh…I know it’s a lot to ask, but man, sweet freakin’ JESUS I could use a cigarette.”

It’s good, right?  If someone said that to you, you’d be compelled immediately and unquestioningly to share your goodies.  And if you didn’t have any (if you–God forbid!–didn’t smoke), you might even walk into the nearest gas station and buy some just to give that very intelligent and well-spoken woman the thing she needs to get through her day.  After all, you care about your fellow man.  You live in the same small town and you know damn good and well that–no matter what you tell your whining teenagers on a Friday night–there’s really nothing else to do but smoke and drink (and fool around…as long as you’re married to the person you’re foolin’ with).  Plus, your mama raised you right and told you to do the next right thing and not be a judgmental bastard.  Just because you believe cigarettes smell like ass and that they might one day be the death of this obviously intellectually superior woman, that doesn’t give you the right to deny her her Bliss.

C’mon, man.  Give me a cigarette.  Come on.  Please?

family, upcycled

The Brothers Three

211178404_b8e5aff309_oI come from a big family, and in case I don’t get around to mentioning it very often, they really are an important part of who I am now and who I grew up being.  While my tendency is to talk mostly about Mama (especially when recounting times past), the truth is, the boys played just as big a part in who I am.

When I say I miss my brothers, I mean I miss all of us together, the way we were as children. There are particular things that I miss most. If you asked Mama, she’d say she missed the singing – all of us piled together in “Old Green” (an army green former utility truck of some sort that came to us already beaten and abused, one of the few things the four of us didn’t have a hand in destroying further), singing song after song from the late 60’s and 70’s and marveling at the acoustics. Or maybe she’d say it was listening to the four of us thump around on top of the truck while she drove the five or six blocks from Farm Fresh back to the house on some unbelievably hot summer night when riding in the open air at 20 miles an hour was the only breeze to be found.

Strangely, though they’re certainly relevant to who I am, these aren’t my favorite memories. My favorites all occurred on some weekend or vacation when Mom had long since gone to bed and the four of us were gathered around the minuscule television in the living room playing some video game on near-mute and trying to be quiet enough as a group that we wouldn’t wake her. I don’t remember any of us every arguing over who got to play next or longest. We just played. And when we weren’t playing we were watching each other play.  (My love of video games endures to this day. And as it was then, it doesn’t matter a lick to me whether I’m playing or watching.) There were a million things feeding into us having a good time on those nights. First, we weren’t supposed to be up so late, and that alone was cool. Second, we only owned one game ourselves, so usually, any time we were up late playing it was because we’d suddenly gotten some spare change and Mom had agreed to rent us a game. (The renting, by the way, was almost as cool as the playing. Nate and I would spend almost an hour poring over titles and back-of-the-box descriptions, making sure that whatever game we ended up getting wasn’t going to disappoint us in the first ten minutes. There wasn’t another one where that came from and we all knew it.) Third, if there was spare change for a game, then in all likelihood, there was also Coke, chips, and sandwich stuff.  (Food was not always readily available at our house.)  And fourth, Dad was never home any time we stayed up late, which meant our house was a fairly quiet place. After all, there was nothing for the four of us to argue over among ourselves.  That fact alone is an amazement to me–four siblings with nothing to argue about?  But back then, it was true.

No matter how we dressed, no matter how our house looked compared to everyone else’s, no matter what car or beat up old truck Mama drove us to school in, I was always proud of the boys and proud to be with them. Though we always had to watch out for the youngest, Jake (who had a tendency to suddenly disappear or run headlong into oncoming traffic), most of the time we were the best behaved brood of children that I’ve ever encountered.  Oddly enough, I don’t recall any of us believing that at the time.  I think somewhere in the back of their brains, all children must believe they’re inherently rotten, if not for what their parents tell them, then for the thoughts they think at night, in the quiet darkness of their rooms.

Sometimes I think there isn’t anything I wouldn’t give to have us all in one house again. And if I had minutes or years to live over, I’d choose those when we were together every time. There are changes I would make. Maybe I could keep Nate from all the heartbreak and trouble of his mid-teens and early 20s.  Perhaps in a changed and bettered future, it would be possible for all of us to be together in one place without the arguing and ill will that happens now when such gatherings occur. I would have liked very much for all of us to be adults together, for ours to be one of “those families” who stay together, who laugh and play and drink together well into middle age.

I hate that we’ll never be the versions of us that I dreamed we’d be.  And while it’s easy to blame Ty or mental illness or geography or a million other things, the truth is, I think the blame probably rests with all of us for not remembering the children we were, the things we lived through, or most importantly, that the only reason we made it at all was because at one time we were Angie and the Brothers Three.

**This entry was originally written and posted in 2001.  It has been slightly edited.