Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Leaving for the Wild Island Today.

I figured if I just disappeared for the next 5 days without a word, you would assume the Stalker Congregants got me. We haven't seen anymore from them, although now I am looking over my shoulder everywhere I go again. Damn!

But I am leaving today to go to the Wild Island that does not have much internet access. I'll be able to check my email 15 minutes everyday, but I won't be able to blog, so look for me again Monday. Hopefully I'll be rested and relaxed and won't even think about the fact that I'll be going back to work for the woman who says I don't compliment her enough.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Stalker Congregants

were spotted at our church today!

For those of you just joining this blog, I need to give you some background information. Several years ago our church was infiltrated by con-artists. They were an older couple with a "Bless your heart" kind of attitude. They both dyed their hair with the same jet-black color and they were loud and outgoing. He claimed to be a former funeral director and she claimed to be a former officer in the Salvation Army. Our church had been struggling for years with low attendance and lack of participation, so when this couple started attending, they jumped right in and planned church dinners and get-togethers and socials. People loved them.

They told a story about an inheritance that was always "coming" to them. It kept getting held up for some reason or other. But when they got it, they said, they were going to buy things for people. They promised one woman a car. They promised to put a new roof on the church. They even told me they had bought the school building that was for sale on the corner of my subdivision for me so that I could start my own school. And yet, something always happened to these promises. The day after they told me they bought the school for me, the sale of the school WAS announced, but not to them, to local school district to start a pre-k.

Because their money was always "held-up", they always had to borrow money. They would tell a sob story to select people and these very wealthy and kind-hearted souls would "lend" them several thousand dollars. Only to this day the money has never been returned. We started to discover that they were opening accounts in the church name, saying they were the vice president (our church doesn't HAVE a vice president) and then letting the accounts fall into delinquency. Hubby started to question them and they started to spread rumors and lies about Hubby. They interfered with his authority and tried to have him removed from the church.

But the worst things were not any of these things. The worst things were what they did to me personally. I have a sixth sense about people. I always have. The day I met them I knew they were con-artists and I warned Hubby. He didn't believe me at first. They bought my daughter gifts, trying to win me over when I didn't warm up to them. But then strange things started happening to me at church. My stuff would start to disappear. CD's that I was supposed to sing to, Vacation Bible School materials or Sunday School lessons I was supposed to teach that day, little things. Or my song that I was supposed to sing that day in church that had been perfectly cued in the tape deck would be completely run to the end of the tape when it was time for me to sing during the service. Or the man would find me when I was alone and yell and scream at me and slam doors in my face, but deny it ever happened to others. They even stalked me at my house. E was 3 when this all started and they found out when her nap time was and called every single day at nap time, purposely trying to wake her up. They came to my door when I wouldn't answer the phone and knocked for 20 minutes, drove around the block and repeated several times a day.

Finally I did some sleuthing and found out the woman was using an alias and the couple had a long criminal history. The woman had spent 9 years in jail. At this point there's so much more I could write. We kept a file on everything they did to us andwhat we learned about them and the file is 53 pages long, but I won't bore you with any more detail. Anywho, this couple pulled a final straw and Hubby threw them out of the church. It took 6 months after and an off the books visit from a local sheriff friend to get them to leave ME alone before they finally seemed to be gone for good.

Until today. Today a church member said that she saw them driving very slowly by the outside of the church as she was walking in. They didn't say anything to her, but you have to wonder, what do they want? Maybe they just wanted to see if Hubby's name was still on the post outside. Maybe they were just there coincidentally. Or maybe, just maybe, they are planning to try to cause trouble again. But I'll tell you, if I see them, they won't get a second chance from me, I'll be calling 911 and having them removed from the premises. They messed with my sense of safety for too long. I will not go through that again. I played nice last time around, but that won't happen again! Pastor's wives get pissed off, too!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Watch Out for Flying Pigs!

Many years ago I fell in love with a good 'ol Southern boy. He was charming and attractive and treated me like his world would stop if I experienced one moment of discomfort. He was kind and attentive and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. It didn't matter to me that he was from a very hot climate and I was from a very cold climate. I was willing to move to a middle ground so neither of us would suffer. It didn't matter that he didn't have a lot of money. Money just bought you things, not a man who could and would write 2 page love letters and send flowers "just because."

I thought for sure that this Southern boy came from a genteel old world Southern family who drank mint juleps and wore crisply lined poplin pants and oozed that charm you always see on TV.

I was wrong. Hubby's parents are quirky. They like Jeff Foxworthy and they are LIKE Jeff Foxworthy and...well...the exact opposite of Hubby. Now I can see them for who they are. But it has taken 15 years for us to find a place where they don't think I hate them and I don't feel like they disapprove of Hubby marrying me. And it all started Christmas day in 1995.

Hubby and I lived 10 hours away by car from my midwestern family and 10 hours by car from his Southern family. That first Christmas we were married we didn't have enough money to travel to either homeplace nor could we take the time off of work to do so, but we didn't know who to invite to our house. We didn't want to offend either set of parents, so we invited both sets to spend Christmas with us. That turned out to be a huge mistake.

Both parents came to us that year, mine stayed in a hotel two blocks away and Hubby's stayed in our guest room. All was going well until Hubby's parents rented the movie "The Shawshank Redemption." This is a great movie. I have watched this movie several times. Heck, it was filmed in Ohio, I know some of the extras in it. But this movie has a very heart wrenching suicide scene in it and this was only our second Christmas after my brother had committed suicide. While by then we had moved on in our grief, the holidays still made us tender.

Anywho, I asked my in-laws not to watch the movie while my parents were around, but my in-laws chose to ignore my request. One thing led to another, things got very tense, and my parents ended up hiding out in my kitchen while I sat in my closet crying and whisper-screaming at my husband about how insensitive his parents were being to my family's feelings for not being more sensitive about the movie. Of course my apartment was very small and my parents could still hear the movie in the kitchen, so when the aforementioned scene came on, my dad lost his temper, took my mom and stormed out, swearing he would never again be in the same room with my in-laws. It was a horrible day in my life.

My dad was true to his word. When E was born the grandparents took turns sharing events in her life. My mom got the actual birth but the in-laws got the baptism (they're more religious). But now that my parents live so close, it is not so easy to explain to E why she couldn't have all 4 grandparents in the same room. So today, my dad conceded and we all went to lunch together. All last night I made myself sick with worry about what was going to happen. Was my dad going to say something rude and start an argument? Was my father-in-law going to try to manhandle me (as he has a tendency to do) and piss my parents off? Was I going to make it?

Do you know what happened? Nothing. They were all civil and polite and pleasant towards each other. No one was exactly ecstatic to be there, but for the love of E, they were all trying their best to just get along.

And now you'll excuse me while I go watch the pigs fly over while Hell freezes below.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All is Quiet!

Shhh...Do you hear that? It's the sound of silence. It is 6:34 PM and...

I
am
completely
and
utterly
ALONE!!!!

Don't feel sorry for me, this is the best Christmas gift ever. Uncle Junior rallied and is off of all wires and tubes. He will forevermore have to be on dialysis, but his heart and blood/oxygen levels are back to normal and the infection is responding to treatment. But because of his reversal in health, my in-laws did make the trip and arrived here safely yesterday.

So how, you might ask, have I ended up sitting here all by myself on Christmas Eve? Why am I not at church and singing the perfect Christmas song at our wonderful/ most well-attended service of the year? Well, I came down with a nasty chest cold on Sunday (don't feel sorry for me, I always do at this time of year) and then my in-laws brought their big, fuzzy, long-haired, chow mix allergy dog into my house and basically destroyed my chances of feeling better. So they took care of E all day and I cooked some of tomorrow's food a little bit, rested a little bit, cooked a little bit more for tomorrow, rested a little bit more. I read "The Water is Wide" by Pat Conroy and have started on "Nickel and Dimed" by Barbara Eiren-something or other. Aside from the raging fever, it's been wonderful. I haven't had time to read in months. I took a nap with my head in Hubby's lap and I took an hour long bath. These are all luxuries that I had forgotten existed. Maybe I am milking being sick for all it is worth and I feel like crap, but I think I earned a little bit of R & R.

So that being said, in this quiet moment in my life, I would like to take a moment to share what I think are the greatest gifts in my life, things that can't be bought with money.

1. I am thankful that I have a daughter who decided she wanted to feed the homeless for Christmas and didn't just assume someone else would do it. She gathered her friends together and went Christmas caroling through the neighborhood to raise money for the local food bank and made $22.11.

2. I am thankful for friends who heard the tale of her caroling and mailed her blank checks to add to her cause, raising the total she collected to $102.11.

3. I am thankful that when my daughter asked me to buy her fresh cherries in the grocery store, I didn't have to stop and say "I'm sorry, honey, we can't afford to pay 7.00 for fresh fruit." Last year at this time, that would not have been the case.

4. I am thankful that I have a husband who, instead of taking shelter and hiding, is not afraid to face head on into the storm when I start to rage and feel turbulent. He has a way of soothing my savage soul when no one else can.

5. I am thankful that I have managed to reconnect with some old friends this year. They help remind me that who I was is not lost.

6. I am thankful that I have made some new friends this year, albeit online. It's been a tough year for my emotional self and all of your comments have made me realize that others feel exactly like I do, so maybe I'm not as crazy as I thought. So thanks.

So I hope you won't be offended if I wish you a Merry Christmas (my husband is a pastor after all). But whatever your beliefs, I hope the spirit of the season brings you peace, joy and laughter.

Namaste!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For

All Advent season I have been moaning and groaning about everything I have to do and how stressed out I am and how all I really want is to have a quiet Christmas all to myself with just Hubby and E. My in-laws are supposed to be arriving from another southern state tomorrow, but I knew that if I could just make it to next week, my life would become so much easier. For you see, next Wednesday we are supposed to leave for one of the very few perks we get as a clergy couple. We get to spend 5 free days at a condo on an exclusive remote Wild Island if Hubby only agrees to officiate at the Sunday service. That's it. He has to work two hours and we get 5 days in a 2 bedroom condo, two bikes and golf cart plus ferry tickets to the island- FREE! It's heaven! I know we already live by the ocean, but it's different. Our congregants can't get to us!

But this morning Hubby got a call from his mom preparing him for bad news. Hubby's Uncle Junior (yes, he's that Southern) is a diabetic who has had a foot wound that has refused to heal. A few days ago, he was admitted to the hospital for more intense treatment. Today his wound turned deadly and has started to attack his bones. His kidneys shut down completely and his heart is only functioning at 20%. No one is saying MRSA, but since my family has all had MRSA, I really think that is what it is. (Did you know pastors are at a high risk for MRSA since they make so many hospital visits? Hubby has a special nose medicine just to protect him.)

Anywho, now we are in a holding pattern. Hubby's parents may or may not make the drive tomorrow. We may or may not have our family Christmas. We may or may not have our Island vacation. So many ifs. Sorry. I just don't have anything witty or acerbic to say about this and it wouldn't be right to complain. I love my husband too much.

But I do have something of interest. We have someone in our neighborhood who is going through the mailboxes and opening Christmas cards looking for money and such. It has gotten so bad that I called the sheriff and filed a report. Sadly, the sheriff said there wasn't anything he could do, but he suggested I talk to the neighborhood association. Which I did. The VP of the association asked me to tell any neighbors I saw about what was going on so we could all keep an eye out. She asked me if I had any suspicions about who it was and I said no, even though I did. There is a man who lives down the street from us with a golden retriever. He's a nice man and he has lived in the neighborhood longer than we have. I talk to him occasionally and he is always SO friendly. But lately he has changed his dog walking habits. I don't know why that seemed odd to me. After all, he's so NICE.

Hubby and I were heading out for dinner last night and we saw the man walking his dog. He is a neighbor and I had been asked to spread the news, so I told Hubby to pull up to him to talk to him. After all, I was just being silly. He was walking his dog at a different time of day. That was no reason to suspect him of being a thief. Right?

But as Hubby and I are pulling up to him, I am grabbing at Hubby's leg, desperately trying to get him to drive on and keep going, trying to get him not to say anything because damned if that man wasn't opening our other neighbor's mailbox! The man had his hand in the mailbox but closed the door quickly as Hubby, who had failed to comprehend the situation (gift of hindsight thing), started telling him about the mail thief. Hubby and the man exchanged pleasantries, Hubby told the man where we lived and then we drove off with me smacking him across the shoulder going "DIDN'T YOU SEE HIM IN THE MAILBOX?"

We haven't called the police...yet. We're hoping we have scared him, or at the least, he will leave our house alone since he doesn't know if we saw him or not. But my next door neighbor has outdoor cameras (he keeps a lot of work equipment around) and is turning them out onto the street. Hopefully, if he does come around again, we'll get him on tape.

Ah the intrigue at Muddy Waters Lane.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Importance of the Clanger

Yesterday was our last day of school before the winter break (oops, I almost slipped and typed "brake".) Anywho, we had the children and their parents gather for a singalong and cookie social. Earlier that morning, before the parents had gotten there, the lead teacher read all of our kids The Polar Express. I figure almost everybody knows what the book is about, so I won't rehash it's plot, but the eventual lesson of the story is that as long as the main character can hear his little bell from Santa's sleigh ring, he'll always believe in Santa. Preschool children interpret this lesson as Santa will always believe in THEM.

Well, for the very last song of our singalong, the lead teacher handed out a small gift of a large jingle bell to each child. Only one child, who just happens to be named a very Christmas-y name, went to ring his bell and...nothing happened. I saw this little boy's face fall out of the corner of my eye as he shook the bell again, even harder, and still no sound came out. Suddenly, the little boys mouth twisted into a tiny, puckered pout and he let out the most heart-wrenching wail I had ever heard:

"DADDY! I CAN'T HEAR THE BELL!!!!"

Luckily his daddy was one of those completely in tune and on the ball types and saw this horrible event unfolding and told his son that Santa knew that he still believed in him. We replaced the bell with a working one and all was well. But I have to say, I think I will hear that horrified cry for the rest of this Christmas season.

And on another note, thanks to Wide Lawns for mentioning me in her blog. I have been a fan since I read a wonderful post she wrote about a redneck and a trampoline. That was actually one I read out loud to Hubby. I wanted to let everyone new know that I did not write the little blurb to the left about Living in Muddy Waters. That came from a pastor's sermon at a progressive church in the mountains. I thanked him in the very first post of this blog, but I can't remember his name now at this moment. I'm cursed with being scrupulously honest, so when I started to see new names popping up reading my blog, I thought I better mention it again.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Smarter Than A Second Grade Teacher?

My daughter's second grade teacher is a real piece of work. I have nothing good to say about her and now she can do nothing right in my eyes. But tonight I really blew a gasket when my daughter came home and told me that she was told she got a sentence wrong on her spelling homework. Her word was "brake." She was supposed to use brake in reference to a device that stops a machine or vehicle. Her sentence was:

"Alice lost the brake off of her scooter. "
Alice can't stop now because she DOESN'T HAVE A BRAKE! She was marked wrong for that and for using the word "brand" incorrectly. Her sentence was:
"I got brand new Christmas stockings."
That one I might overlook, but BRAKE! ARGH!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And In Conclusion...

Essentially my boss told me today in our meeting that she didn't like or trust me because I don't give her enough positive affirmations, that since I never tell her that she is doing a good job she doesn't know what I think of her. Those are her words not mine. And that's all I am going to say on that.

So last night I dreamed about my dead brother and my husband had to shake me awake because I was screaming in my sleep. In my dream my husband was leading my brother's walking, decomposing body into my room and my brother was saying "Mom...Dad" in this low gutteral tone. I was so freaked out when I woke up that I had to keep telling myself over and over that we had my brother cremated.

How many days until Christmas?

Monday, December 15, 2008

As If It Wasn't Enough

My boss told me today that we need to sit down and talk in the morning tomorrow because she "doesn't enjoy working with me. That I am unapproachable, stern and that she doesn't feel like she can talk to me." This is the same woman who told me that when I wore my hair in a ponytail I made her uncomfortable because I looked too "stern" (again with the stern). I stopped wearing my hair up to try to appease her but refuse to do that anymore after the lice scare.

I don't even know what to do now. This is like the pot calling the kettle black. I have tried to enage this woman in conversation. I have asked her questions. I have tried to make her laugh. She has always remained standoffish. She has been critical of me and made me feel two feet tall. Maybe I do look stern, but wouldn't you? So now do I just sit there tomorrow morning and take whatever she has to say and just try to get through it or do I fight back, have my say but make my situation miserable until my contract runs out in June? It's not like this is exactly the best economy to be looking to a new job in even then.

I can't breathe. Will somebody please open the lid to this box I am in and let me out?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

In a Nutshell

If you know me or had been reading my former blog, you know that I suffer from low self-esteem. I always have and I probably always will. I usually manage to compensate fairly well and get by in life without it being a huge issue, but like the strange alignment of the planets recently, things in my life have changed and I have been taking a beating.

First and foremost, my parents moved to town. This has been the worst thing in the world for my self-esteem. I am now within a stone's throw of their constant criticism and I get to experience it first hand at least once a week. And it comes from both parents, not just one. If E has a cold, or a bruise or bumps her head, my mom essentially calls me a bad parent for not rushing her to the ER. If I took E to the ER everytime my mom told me to, I would be suspected of child abuse or Munchausen's syndrome. Seriously! My dad watches every single bit of food that I put in my mouth. If I don't eat, he comments. If I do eat and it is not a leafy vegetable, he comments. And then they both make those comments. You know the kind. The veiled, trying to be supportive but really knocking you to the ground, kind of comments. "Well, you've been heavy all of your life, of course you can't lose weight."

Next my boss is hypercritical. I can't do anything right. Actually, it is not just me, it is everyone in her world. She corrects all of the other teachers and parents as well. It's just that I am the one who works day in and day out with her and it takes every ounce of energy I have to keep a civil tongue in my head when I am being constantly criticized. I am a good employee. I am a damn good employee. And yet, she constantly finds fault. That does not help my self-esteem issues. I have been trying to not complain but it has been chipping away at me, especially this past couple of weeks because...

Lately people have found it alright to raise their voice and yell at me. It's weird. I seem to be fair game for people to take some strange internal wrath out on. First it was the Santa incident at church. Then yesterday Hubby got irrationally frustrated with me that I bought the wrong Christmas lights and even E told him that his tone of voice was "very stern." Lastly, a woman in choir yelled at me for jumping a note during warm-up for our Christmas cantata. I made a mistake in practice. A mistake I had never made before, but she saw fit to raise her voice like a harridan and screech at me in front of all of the choir. I was flabbergasted and just not able to shake it off because of all of the other issues I am having. She hit me where it hurt. I am afraid to make mistakes, especially when it comes to my singing, and she called me out on it.

So all of this is coming to a head now at Christmas time because I hate Christmas. And I hate Christmas because, really, I make Christmas for so many other people. My friend the Assassin calls me the Arranger in our relationship. That's who I am in the world. I am the Arranger. My parents, husband and family rely on me to create the right Christmas magic, cook the perfect meal, bake the perfect goodies, sing the perfect song on Christmas Eve, buy the nicest gifts, wrap all the presents, and still find time to smile. I am the Christmas spirit provider in my house. Right now, and in this time in my life, it is just too much pressure. I am suffering in myself and not able to rise to the challenge. I am afraid I am going to fail and let everyone down. I never do, but this year I have all of these added things tugging away at my psyche making me feel crazy and I can't even stand to smell all those 72 sugar cookies I made yesterday, much less eat one to make myself feel better. But I am tired of all of this responsibility for other people. And I am tired of other people yelling at me unprovoked. And I am tired of not being able to accept that I am who I am and that should be good enough. I am tired of not feeling like I am good enough.

So there. Go ahead and order your cheese. I have provided the whine. But I just needed to get it out. So please. No more yelling at me.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Two Thumbs Up

If you are looking for a good movie to watch with a loved one this holiday season, check out Elizabethtown. It stars Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. The first 15 minutes are complete drivel and mind-numbing, but if you make it through that, it turns into a really funny and heartfelt movie that perfectly shows my relationship with my in-laws to a T.

I'm still struggling through some stuff so I don't have a lot to post, but a high point of my week was when the lead teacher decided to put a lit candle in a little self-contained lantern on a small table at waist level with the 3, 4 and 5 year olds. I didn't think it was a good idea, but she overruled me, of course. So do you want to guess how many children were burnt? Two children burned their hands and one of my little 4 years olds whose own mother says she is a space cadet burned her MOUTH. Why she put her mouth on it, I don't know, but again I say: WHY WON'T PEOPLE EVER LISTEN TO ME?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bleh

I'm still here. The angst is back with a vengeance. It seems that now that the Topamax has taken away my ability to eat, I no longer have a means of soothing myself since I used food as my crutch. I feel like a baby who has lost her binky. I'm suffering from some mid-life crisis stuff and when I can write about something that doesn't make you want to ask for some cheese with my whine, I will return.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Read Wednesday and then come here

I purposely failed to mention that my little girl who put the bead up her nose is also the girl I am convinced has OCD. But...as I have been accused of labeling children too easily, AND as my request to put the beads away was denied, AND as the girl was allowed to continue to work on her project that she started yesterday...

Do you see where I am going here?

I turned just in time to see her sticking a bright blue bead up her nose again. I barked her name so quickly she dropped it and the stunned look on her face spoke volumes. Luckily this time I saw the bright blue bead drop out.

WHY, WHY, WHY won't people listen to me?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's Really NOT Funny...and yet....

I live in a miniature world. All day long I am surrounded by tiny people who work at tiny tables and sit in tiny chairs. They have tiny fingers and tiny noses. They are oh, so cute, and yet, sometimes they lack the ability to use good judgment.

Take today for example, I was kneeling at a tiny table working with a child when I felt another child whoosh up on me in a sheer panic. Her face was distorted, she was breathing hard and I really thought she was going to tell me she had cut some body part off with scissors. I turned towards her, told her to take a breath and asked her what was wrong. In a very high pitched wail she said:

"I PUT A BEAD UP MY NOSE AND NOW I CAN'T GET IT OUT!!!!" This wail immediately caused all of the other children to turn into shelties and they started running in circles, screaming my name wondering what I was going to do. The girl had been working with perler beads and decided to see how it would feel to put the bead up her nostril. The thing is, this girl is a nose picker, so I didn't even need to ask her why she did it. I grabbed a tissue, held the non-bead filled nostril closed and told her to blow, but alas, the bead was stuck.

The poor girl started to cry even harder, terrified that the bead was going to be stuck forever and even more terrified when I told her we were going to call her dad to come get her and take her to the doctor. I explained to her that this was no big deal, really. That while she should never again put something up her nose, she is not the first nor will she be the last child to put something up her nose. She was fascinated when I told her that I had a kid who stuck a raisin up her nose and another who put a black bean up her nose. She was completely calm when the lead teacher walked back into the room, asked me what was going on and, when she found out, started berating the child. All hell broke loose again. The poor girl's nose was whistling from the bead, the other children were anxiously clustered around and I was once again trying to calm the scene.

The girl's dad arrived, took the child to the doctor and she was back within 2 hours. When he arrived back, he told me that "In the future when that happens, you should try to close one nostril and tell her to blow through the other." To which I replied, "Well, hopefully she has learned her lesson and this WON'T happen again, but I did try doing that and it didn't work at the time."

Ah, the joy of the preschool class.