Wednesday, April 11, 2012

But I Digress. A lot. Especially below.

My opening thought the other day, as I was outside having my first smoke and cup of tea? I wondered if my bathing suits from last year still fit me, which struck me as impossible, since I lost so much weight over the last year. I thought to myself, "You look like Gandhi with boobs."

Patti encouraged me to start working out once I'm well, but even when I was working out, I had this hanging skin that wouldn't muscle or tighten up with crunches and lunges and weight training, because I've lost, now, 100 lbs off my frame. No, I don't have the $ for a tummy tuck, a boob lift and reduction, or to get back some semblance of a butt, though I suppose if I mentioned it to my best male friend, he's pony up the cosmetic surgery dough, though he thinks I'm beautiful just the way I am, bless his soul (and get him some glasses!).

(Paul McCartney. iTunes Shuffle. "We Got Married," from "Flowers in the Dirt," 1989, before Linda died. Before he married the peg-leg gold-digger. Now he's married to some NE socialite. Pfft. "Flowers" was Sir Paul's last good album. Spooky but natural coincidence that I'm (soon, I swear) talking D-I-V-O-R-C-E. My iTunes shuffles are legendarily spooky when I'm blogging and ever-surprisingly on-topic. Anyway, this album was co-written and produced by Elvis Costello (under his real name of Declan McManus), with a great duet, "You Want Her Too," which I should put on a CD for two of my gentleman friends, one of whom reminded me recently of it with regard to the other, which is also spooky, with my one gentleman friend as Paul's part and my best male friend as Elvis' part, should they ever get into a conversation, which won't happen in this lifetime again if my best male friend has anything to say about it.) Here, I found a great demo version of the song, far less posh than the album version...

But I digress.

Yeah, up until Craig decided to cohabitate with his girlfriend and buy a condo, and the Evil Demon of the Mortgage Lender started asking him questions and requiring ages-old paperwork (we were always renters, not homeowners), our divorce and post-divorce legal headache was kept to an enviable minimum. And we got along, for all accounts and purposes, enviably well. We had an enviably well-adjusted child. We were still both playing on the same team and old wounds were healed in our hearts.

Despite it weighing out my pocketbook for $20 in mileage/gas money, yes, Craig gave me a lift to the Tattoo Factory last week. Despite his loathsome, bipolar but unmedicated mother loaning me her "prayer shawl" during my surgical recovery (blech!) and behind my back, to Luke, saying that *all* head piercings, ears included, were a "sin," and that I was somehow heading further down the path of unrighteousness by now having 10 piercings in my head, collectively. Despite the fact that lately, I feel, with Craig, and now Kelly, and his omnipresent mom, and Luke having issues with EVERYBODY all of a sudden, like my family dynamic, as I know it, is a big, fucking ticking time-bomb....

(Best line in the above song? "Eating cows with such persistence doesn't offer much resistance in this cockamamie business.")

The Harrison clip was a tiny-minor digression. Like a fender-bender. With slide guitar, though!

The Miklasz-Bechtels sat together at the church's Easter breakfast before church (for me), after church (for Craig, who sang in the choir at the 8:15 service): it was Craig, The Girlfriend, me, my mom, randomly Craig's mom (who only ate there, and worshiped at her Presbyterian church) and eventually, after helping out (as breakfast was a fundraiser for his summer work camp), Luke.

By the time Luke sat down, at 10:00, the rest of our table of church folk had vanished, leaving only our family. I saved Luke some of the "blueberry stuff" he asked me to, and no, don't ask me what the hell it was comprised of. I probably don't want to know. Luke loaded up another plate of food, got a cup of coffee, and joined in. I only heard like half of half of the conversation, but for some reason, Craig's girlfriend decided to go all-parental on Luke, chastising him for something-or-other. Something about his attitude about something, I think. Or his cup of coffee. I don't know and frankly I don't care.

The bottom line is this: *I* was there. *I'm* his mother. If he needs chastising, leave it to either Craig or myself. (I don't really like it when The Grandmas chime in and do the down-talking, but they at least are blood relations.) The Girlfriend does this with some frequency, as if she's presently entitled to an ounce of an opinion about the way my boy acts when I AM THERE IN HIS PRESENCE, AS IS HIS FATHER. When she's living with Craig and they're all in one cramped condo, whatever, let Craig do the parenting and while I shouldn't, I feel like telling Luke, "It's ok for you to say to her, 'You're not my mom!'"

Anyway, Craig's now asking me for decades' old paperwork, which I don't have in this house, and I tried explaining to him that the necessary paperwork and old debts that need to be erased from his credit report are sort of his responsibility, though I took care of a bill that turned out to be an insurance misstep from a pediatric visit Luke had some months ago. If something is mine and is legit, let them send me a bill with MY name on it to MY house, not Craig's. I told him weeks ago to go through his credit report and contest the outstanding debts that looked funky, and apparently, he hasn't done that yet. That falls under the umbrella of "Not Really My Problem As Ye Shacketh Up."

"This $8 dish will cost you $1,000 in phone calls to the legal firm of 'That's Mine, This is Yours.'"
--Harry, "When Harry Met Sally"

This was essentially my late afternoon on Monday:

I was having a pleasant enough day bantering with my son, who's on spring break this week, who slept until noon (Huzzah! Every parent's dream! When the kids start to sleep in late and you have unadulterated peace for like half the day!!!!) while I went to bed at 10:30pm and slept in until 8am, which is unheard of for me (I had a busy Easter and it wiped me out). Monday was the all-clear, post-hysterectomy to do stuff like carry the laundry down myself, drive the car (puhleeze--I drove last week and over the whole weekend anyway) and I did sit at my desk most of the day and fiddle about, though by evening, I was sore and thereby lounging. At least my abdomen no longer looks like you could play mini-golf on it. Craig happened to catch me at a very bad time Monday afternoon with all this mortgage bullshit, when I was trying to get Luke out-the-door to go to his dad's house with The Other Grandma. I accidentally let it slip in front of Luke that I thought Craig was being a "whiny prick," which Luke threatened to tell his father. Not cool.

But I digress.

(Ok, Offenbach? I completely can't handle you right now. Shuffle forth. Traveling Wilburys. Much better. Oh hell. "New Blue Moon" off the 2nd album ("Volume 3")? A song about waiting for someone forever and ever. Super. Shuffle again. Clapton's "Wanna Make Love To You" off the "Crossroads" collection. Negative. Try again. Much preferred Clapton's "I'm Tore Down" from earlier in the afternoon. And when *not* on shuffle, I'm *not* terribly pleased with the segue of Warren Zevon's "Keep Me in Your Heart" (which makes me weep and *has* to be played at my memorial service someday) being followed by "It's Raining Men" by The Weather Girls, which is just a guilty pleasure but I have the list alphabetically in the entirety of the library. )

Digression Commence!

(iTunes shuffle. The entirety of "Golden Slumbers/Carry that Weight/The End" by The Beatles. Beautiful.)

Easter was nice out at my brother's house in De Kalb. It was just the 3 of us--me, my mom and Luke, with my brother and my nephew. Recently divorced, I had the sort-of-uncomfortable discussion with my brother about dating. Perhaps our approaches to the dating scene are just different.

He believes in the Biblical notion of connecting to someone who is of the same yoke as yours...meaning simplistically, he doesn't think he could date someone who wasn't a Christian. Like an ox can't reproduce with a donkey (though I know of hundreds of people who've conceived a child with an ass, ha!), or something Jesus referenced or maybe it's back in the Old Testament, I didn't ask for a cite at the time. Yet you see it all the time, metaphorically speaking, in the world today. Unfamiliar with the Bible reference he was making, I confused "yoke" with "yolk," and told him if he dates someone who's not a Christian, he'll end up "scrambled." But anyway, the Bible says:

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14

My significant relationship history consists of the following: 2 atheists, a lapsed Catholic who created his own philosophical religion (he prays to someone named "Bob") and an at-the-time agnostic, raised-Presbyterian-converted-to-Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. You all know the one I ended up marrying and divorcing.

I guess I agree with Steve on the date-a-Christian part, for that's a great way to start a connection, and I did have a stint on for 3 dreadful months, and they were all religious zealot extremists, especially the somewhat cute ones, none of whom were remotely interested in me, no matter how flatteringly I spoketh of The Good Lord. It was an utter disaster. There weren't any run of the mill, just Christian guys on there, and certainly none remotely close to me proximity-wise. And they were all conservatives, which turned me off. The guys all seemed to belong to those big-ass Bible churches, the $$ ones. I quit after coming up with zilch during my membership, though the site is still begging me to renew (is it an offering or a membership?) by trying to sell me 33% off my membership fee. 33%? Are you serious? How tacky is that, given that's the (reported) age Jesus was when he died? Oh, Mylanta!

I was talking to one of my male friends Monday night who apparently thought my brother talking to ME about DATING was a funny concept. What's up with that? Just because I don't have the best track record in the history of romance, why would he think me having a conversation about being "out there" with my newly-single sibling would be a comical situation? Quite honestly, I was more intent on my long sleeves covering up my half-Sanskrit tattoo so that my brother wouldn't engage me in a religious debate.

I sort of subscribe more to the can't-date-outside-of-the-caste-system ideology. Caste systems aren't only found in India; they are uniformly found all over Europe, Asia, Africa, you name it. Even in the United States.

According to Wikipedia: "Caste system is not a natural result of any religion, because caste systems have been systematically practiced in societies that are, for example, predominantly Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Buddhist."

So it's not another case of "Look Out, Annie's Turned Hindu." My last relationship was me, as a relative peasant, dating WAY out of the extreme of my caste, plus an atheist, someone of a much higher socio-economic caste and education than I. I'm a college graduate and relative post-grad student, but I am not a Lincoln Park Trixie, no matter how Chris tried to dress me up like one. He tried, I'll give him enough credit for, to dress me up and buy me clothes that he thought were edgy, which may have been to him, but not to me. While he thought of himself as a "regular guy," and owned a handful of shirts he, gasp, bought at Target, most of his clothes, like all of his jeans and a lot of his dress shirts, were custom-made by a fancy personal clothier company, the Tom James Company. He'd buy $400 shoes at Nordstrom just because he could, but he tried to dress down to keep up with his peasant girlfriend.

(Re: me and Stylin' Out, the exception being the Burberry hoodie Chris bought me. I kept that, for sure, when I purged the 13 bags of clothes that were either Too Big or Not Annie Enough. And the Cole Haan boots, because those are sexy, no matter what caste you're in. And, of course, the custom-made Converse Jack Purcells that he made me that had pink skulls/crossbones on them, which I wore to work all the time with my pink scrubs. I may be the only punker chick in Chicago who digs Burberry ANYTHING, Hermes perfume, or Kate Spade accessories, like the wallet I now carry. And lest we forget the Louis Vuitton stuff I have, which has been all beaten to hell, it's been used for so long. Yes, I realize I'm walking directly into contradiction here from a stylistic and sociological standpoint.)

Chris bought me 2 items that my Polish friend, Paulina, who's from the old country, says a man should never, ever buy a woman he loves. 1) A watch, for that means your time together will soon end. (Chris bought me 2 clunky, too big-for-me watches, and I never wear watches anyway.) 2) Shoes, for that means he will run away from you. (It was I who did the running away, ultimately, in the end. And that was a good thing.) He thought those were silly superstitions, but they turned out to be true.

Chris worked in Corporate America, and lived in a very posh pad in the Loop. I don't work in Corporate America, though it's part of my overall resume. I loathe Corporate America. Even when I worked straight jobs in regular "companies," they all had lax dress codes out of sheer coincidence, and I just dressed like Annie, not in power suits (I don't even own a business suit at this stage of my life), the exception being wearing a suit the time I met former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley at Navy Pier when I worked for the company that made the Oscars. But that was like 15 years ago.

Never have I been, nor am I, a Ridgey, the nickname the freaks of my suburb give the upper-class, Stepford Wives and husbands in town who all DO wear Polo shirts and khaki shorts all summer long, sometimes with the ghastly sweater-tied-over-the-shoulders-look. The north side of Park Ridge is widely considered, since we're talking about castes, a much higher echelon of sophistication than the south side, where I live. Even most of the south side is nicer than where I live, which is the veritable Park Ridge ghetto.

At my last job of almost 3 years, I wore medical scrubs, but I picked funky prints, I had custom-made Beatles and Curious George scrub tops (which got to be just too big for me and ballooned me out after a while), and the same style of form-fitting, butt-showing-off-when-you-have-no-butt-to-speak-of scrub sets in roughly 13 different color combinations, mostly courtesy of Chris, though I worked for them by cleaning his apartment for money. Yes, I earned an extra $200 a month cleaning my boyfriend's apartment every other week. He didn't want anyone to know about it, for it seemed weird for him to have his girlfriend, er, "friend," as he always spoke of me, cleaning his house like a peasant, but again, you call a spade? It's a spade.

(What's more pathetic, scrub-wise? I started my stint there wearing small pants and medium tops, stuck with medium tops to accommodate Cagney & Lacey in there, but had to pare down to XXS pants, which were even getting to be too big on me. Pathetic!)

Anyway, my best male friend spoils me materialistically too, astonishingly so, and he's considered a freak, but he, like me, is an oddball who happens to live in a suburb. He, like Chris, is an atheist. He's monetarily (and spiritually, despite rejecting God) richer than Chris was or ever will be, yet isn't snooty about it. He doesn't work a straight job. He wasn't born into money, quite the contrary, so he has an appreciation for not having everything you might want or need in life at the moment, and doesn't, unlike my ex-boyfriend, look down upon me for it. He went a little nutso-gift-wise on me for Christmas last year, especially given the fact I essentially broke his heart some time ago, and lavished me last summer, all for which I'm deeply grateful. Read: grateful, not indebted to. That is a key difference between my best male friend and Chris. We have a long and complicated romantic history together, and it's always been a pragmatic clusterfuck, though we both love another a whole helluva lot. So while we were born into the same caste, he evolved into the upper class while I digressed from middle to lower-middle class.

My ex-husband and I were of a similar caste, though his was slightly higher than mine. Both relatively middle-class upbringing, and not terribly pretentious, though his parents were more educated than mine were. Of course, if Craig is going to become a homeowner now, that places him in a higher caste than I; in India, he'd be a Viasya.

My other ex-boyfriend, the one who started his own religion, is of the same caste (and tastes) as I am, which is partly what drew us together in the first place. He's a blue collar punker who works manual labor for the City, and is still close to me, though we don't get together and hang out as often as either of us would like to, since he works 2nd shift. He's not as tidy as I am, to be polite, ok, he's kind of a hoarder, which is our chief difference. He's very unique and has both his real name and his nickname, which might as well be his real name, on his apartment mailbox, for he gets mail addressed to both: Spaz Ciao. He's just a swell guy, and we've talked about re-connecting in a relationship again, but time hasn't been good to us.

That about covers all of my significant relationships in life, and yes, I turn 40 next month. If you WANT to go by the Indian caste system, this is what it looks like, and I fall under the umbrella of "Sudra." The two men (as per "You Want Her Too") who are in competition (though they both deny it) for me are Kshatryia. I think I'm too twin-like my best male friend for it to work out for us in the end, for I still believe we'd enable one another into bad behaviors again and demons we've both tried to mutually conquer over the last 2 decades, and there is that pesky problem of him already having one wife. Fucking pragmatics.

At least I've incarnated enough to get out of the category of "latrine cleaners," like where I was stuck with Chris.

(iTunes Shuffle. The Cure's "To Wish Impossible Things." A sad but pretty song from the "Wish" album that came out when I was in college. That album is all over the map. You've got the whimsical "Friday I'm in Love" with the former song, so it's ill-advised to listen to when you feel like you're about to have your heart broken for the umpteenth time.)

But again, I digress.

The caste system, according to Indian custom:

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