Monday, February 8, 2016

Disappointing Update

Disappointing because there really isn't an update. Stephanie messaged me Friday afternoon and we had a VERY brief exchange, and that was it. She did go to the concert on Saturday, and I can only assume she went with him. That got me thinking about the space she needs to figure out her life before she tries to deal with any relationships. Am I the only person she needs space from? Is she getting space from him? I'm not going to ask, and I'm not going to drive myself crazy by checking Snapchat totals (that way lies madness), but I do have to wonder.

I texted her on Sunday morning saying that we'll have to talk later in the week. Her reply was one word: Why? My reply was also one word: Saturday. I didn't receive a reply. We have plans for Saturday night. She's coming into town, I have reservations at Sambuca, and she's spending the night. Now, before you start thinking dirty thoughts, I'm sleeping on the couch and giving her my bed (I've been in extreme cleaning mode for my bedroom and bathroom for the last couple of weekends...I've even cleaned the baseboards!). Cross my heart. We did the same thing on New Year's Eve. With things as up in the air as they are, sex would only complicate and confuse things.

I'm smoking again. I just can't handle the quitting while going through this relationship mess. During the week, I'm having one in the morning when I get to work and one after lunch. It calms me down. I'll try quitting again once this thing with Stephanie is resolved.

I listened to a lot of honeyhoney this weekend while in the car. "Sugarcane" resonated with me the most the past few days. I can look at it from Suzanne's point of view or the point of view of whoever she's singing about/too. Lyrics below, with the relevant ones highlighted.

I'm the salt in your sugar cane
But it's not the taste that I blame
It's not you or I
Because we tried tried tried
The more we change
The more things stay the same

Your eyes were red
Mine painted black
My thin blue dress
Slid down my back
You held me close and you cried cried cried
Cause we both knew I wasn't coming back

And maybe I have always been the one to say good-bye
And I won't no lie, no, If I don't stick around

You're not gonna die
You're not gonna die

She was sweet when you were down
I hope what you need is just what you found
You say you're fine, then you sigh sigh sigh
So when I fuck around don't ask me why

Maybe I have always been the one to say good-bye
I won't lie, no, If I don't stick around

You're not gonna die
You're not gonna die

Now you're here and your jeans are ripped
A cigarette, between your lips
But you don't smoke I guess now you do do do
Cause what you want I just can't give to you

Cause what you want I just can't give to you

Friday, February 5, 2016

Making It

I haven't had a cigarette now in almost 52 hours, and I feel a lot better than I did this time yesterday. My anxiety mostly dissolved when I left work. That said, I haven't communicated to Stephanie since Wednesday night, and I feel absolutely terrible about that. But she wants space, so I'm giving her her space. If she wants to text or talk with me, she knows I'll jump at the chance. I'm just scared, though, that the more time that passes when we do finally talk, it'll be our last time. I'd like to hope she'll call tonight, but I'm not holding my breath. I know we won't speak tomorrow. Tomorrow she'll be in Nashville with him going to a concert. I'm not threatened by him anymore. He was NEVER a threat to me. Anything that happens is Stephanie's decision. Sunday, though, I'm expecting we'll have a HUGE conversation. Be prepared for a happy or tear-filled post on Monday.

I'm comforted by a couple of things, though. One, she hasn't called it off yet. She's REALLY thinking about things. I can't imagine everything that's going through her mind, but whatever she's going through and thinking about, she hasn't called it off yet. Two, less than two weeks ago she told me that she did in fact miss me, and that had she could she would have run right to me. There are feelings there. I, of course, don't know exactly what they are, and I'm sure she's taking this time to figure out for herself what they are. But they. Are. There.

I listened to I Fight Dragons in the car last night and this morning, and I'm having a difficult time choosing a song to post. I'm considering their cover of the Beatles' "And Your Bird Can Sing," their cover of John Mayer's "Heart of Life," "With You," and a handful more. Y'know what? Screw it. It's Friday, it's my blog, I like the you're getting all of 'em.

Link to lyrics.

You tell me that you've heard every sound there is
And your bird can swing
But you can't hear me, you can't hear me

There are two versions of this song. Link to lyrics.

Maybe we will be everything we say
Maybe all that we dream will fade to gray
Either way, I will stay with you

Link to lyrics.

Pain throws your heart to the ground
Love turns the whole thing around
No it won't all go the way it should
But I know the heart of life is good

Link to lyrics.

Jet black hair and eyes like the tiger
But when her eyes meet mine
I can see inside
Oh She knows she got a hold on me
Oh she's sacrilege and destiny
Oh it's more than what the eye can see
I know she
She's got sorcery

Link to lyrics.

Everyone you know will lie
Those you trust will make you cry
All "hello"s end with goodbye
So, who's afraid to love?
Not I

Link to lyrics.

Disaster has a way of remaking our hearts
Long after all the thunder and scars
Days pass and bit by bit we begin to restart
Our disaster hearts

Link to lyrics.

Now and forever true
If you'll be mine then I will fight for you

Link to lyrics.

Tonight you look like a dream
Then again, you always do to me
After everything we've been through
I still just love to look at you

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking.

It's been 29 hours since my last cigarette. I know I only picked this back up two months ago, but that doesn't mean I didn't jump back into it with both feet. Looks like I do that with a lot of things.

Stephanie and I (well, pretty much her) killed our Snapchats. That was something she and the other guy started, and she introduced me to it. She was the only one I ever Snapchatted with, and there's a good chance I'll delete the app if/when we stop seeing each other. I wasn't a big fan of it other than providing me with a daily picture of her between actually being able to see her. The thought had actually crossed my mind a few weeks ago to stop communicating that way, but I didn't want to relinquish those infrequent glimpses of her.

We haven't talked since Sunday. Since we started talking, it's the longest break we've had. I don't like it. We've only text for a handful of minutes since Monday night. I'm hoping this space I'm giving her is helpful. She said she's been doing a lot of constructive thinking, and that's good. To me, though, it feels like I'm falling into this space and I can't stop. This happened a couple of weeks ago when I tried to stop smoking, so I know my anxiety isn't totally about our relationship. That's why I'm pushing through this and not bumming a cigarette from a co-worker, no matter how much I'd like to. I know that how I'm feeling and reacting right now fly in the face of everything I typed out yesterday, but yesterday I had a cigarette and was clear-headed. Again, I know the majority of this anxiety is from the nicotine withdrawal. That DOES make me feel better; at least I know I'm not going crazy. I just don't know how long this is going to last. I don't even remember going through this a few years ago. If it lasts through the weekend, though, at least it's my weekend with the kids and I won't be at home all alone.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Mindset Reset

I did a LOT of thinking yesterday. A LOT. About who I am, what I'm doing, what I want, what kind of relationship I want, how I handle relationships, and who I want to have a relationship with.

I thought I had spent the last six years recovering from my separation and divorce by finding out who I am, but I've learned that what I've done is just packed that relationship person away until it was time to bring him out again. I jumped into this thing with both feet. When it started, I thought we were on the same page. After a couple weeks it was evident we were moving TOO fast, and she wanted to slow it down. That was fine with me, but I didn't really know how to do that. I had already fallen pretty damn hard for her, so it was difficult to apply my brakes and slow it down. How do you do that when you have such strong feelings for someone?

I didn't see what my sad attempts at slowing down were doing to her. In my blindness/hubris/selfishness, I thought her issues were only in dealing with her ex-boyfriend. I thought her leftover feelings combined with him stringing her along were causing her stress. I didn't see that, although I was adamant about not pressuring her into making any decisions, my constant BEING THERE through texting and social media was doing what I didn't want to do. I was pressuring her.

Earlier this week was her breaking point, I think, and it took that for me to fully see that, yep, my gung-ho attitude about this was as much of a factor as his lackadaisical attitude. Hence my deep introspection yesterday.

My life is not defined by my relationships. My relationships should ENHANCE my life. My relationship with my kids, my parents and sister, the rest of my family, my friends, and those I fall in love with...these relationships cannot control who I am, what I do, or how I think. They are here to build me up and fill me with love, but I'll never be completely full if I don't love myself. Yeah, that sounds way to New Agey for me, but it's true.

I let my kids get under my skin too much without stepping back and really appreciating them for who they are and how they're growing up. #1 is so fucking smart. I was a very above-average student, but I didn't apply myself, so I skated through everything. #1 soaks up knowledge wherever he can. He DOES things. He's got more going on as a 6th grader than I did in middle school and high school combined. He plays the saxophone because I did, and with less than a year under his belt, he's better than I was at his age (and I was pretty darn good). He's got a really good group of friends, and he loves being a Boy Scout. I fucking admire him so much. But he's also incredibly emotional, and I think that's what I see of me in him the most. He's quick to anger, especially at his younger brother (which, to be honest, is justified a lot of the time). Out of the three of them, he's the only who will ever remember his mom and me married. He had to grow up very fast when she left the four of us, and it just makes me sad.

#2 is so much a girl. She likes make-up (although I don't let her wear any yet), dresses, Barbies, babies...yeah, very much a girly girl. And that's not something I pushed, but she chose it, and I'm okay with it. I tried to get her into nerd stuff via comics and TV and movies, but she's not into it and that's fine...she's blazing her own path. She tried gymnastics and cheerleading for a few years, but that started to bore her. She's always loved music (there's my girl!) and singing, and after she showed me a song she wrote (holy shit, it was amazing for 9-year-old), her mom and I decided it was time to talk about music lessons. But we left it up to her. She was currently in Girl Scouts, and she ended up choosing singing and piano lessons over that. I cannot wait to she her grow as a musician. She has so much talent and heart that I just know she's going to do incredible things.

#3 probably has the most of me in him. He's energetic, but he also loves to spend tons of time on the computer (closely monitored by me, don't worry). He's not nerdy like me (that's all #1), but he's also crazy smart...but he doesn't do anything with it. He does his work, does it well, but beyond that he doesn't enjoy learning like his older brother does. He also changes gears pretty quickly. He did "ninja" class for almost a year before getting bored. He plays basketball, but he really has no idea what he's doing. He's in Cub Scouts, but I think he goes just to see friends and go camping every now and then. His emotions are always just under the surface too, but it's more about frustration and sadness as opposed to #1's anger. He tears up easily if he gets yelled at (which I tend to do more often than I should. That said, he is also the sweetest boy. He wakes up every morning with a smile. He's quick with hugs and kisses on the cheek. He is probably biggest headache causer out of the three, but sometimes he's the easiest to forgive.

Why do I let these wonderful kids get under my skin so much? Why do I get exasperated with them? They make my life better just by being here. When they're with their mother every other weekend, my house is quiet and still and lonely. I really don't know what to do with myself when they're gone. Then along comes Stephanie.

Stephanie is also a single mother with kids Bobby's age. Somehow, miraculously, when we started going out we discovered our kid-free weekends synced up. How perfect was that? The last two weekends we didn't see each other, though, and I kind of spiraled into a "what am I going to do with myself?" mode. There was smoking, and there was drinking. Looking back, I can see that my relationships with my kids and with Stephanie were dictating my attitude and feelings. They weren't there, so I couldn't be happy? Bullshit. That's just bullshit, and I'm just now realizing that. I cherish every second (despite headaches and tantrums and sibling spats) with these people I love, but just because they're not around doesn't mean I still can't be happy. I have friends. I have interests. I have hobbies. I have a house that has been neglected for far too long. I have OTHER THINGS.

My life is not defined by my relationships. Stephanie and I have been talking constantly since the beginning of October. For better or worse, that's when the relationship really started. But in that time, we've seen each other a total of five times. Only. Five. Times. Five times does not a boyfriend/girlfriend make. SHE knows's just taken me this long to figure it out.

I'm still in love with her. I won't say that won't ever change, because things happen and it's very early in this messed up little relationship we have. But being in love with someone shouldn't make you or them sad. I honestly can't say with any certainty that we'll make it. I'd like to think we will, but as with all relationships, if it does end I know I'll be taking good things away from our time together, things about me that I've realized and can put to use (which I'm already starting to do) in my life and, hopefully, in future relationships. But right now I'm going to do whatever I can to make this work, and right now that means giving her space. I think I spoke on that in yesterday's post. I was pretty successful yesterday I think, and I hope it wasn't the cigarettes helping with that, because I crumpled up the remainder of my pack and threw them in a dumpster this morning (I did save ONE to have before starting work...hopefully my last one ever) so I can't rely on their calming effects anymore. They were just a crutch anyways. As far as communication with her goes, I'm mostly following her lead. I'll text in the morning with a "Have a good day!" and possibly send out a Snapchat if we're still trying to keep our streak going, but daytime contact will be instigated by her only (my decision). I'll text in the evening to see how her day was, and if she wants to continue texting or talking once the kids are in bed, then that's her call. If she doesn't text or Snapchat during the day, then that's no problem. She's got stuff to do, I've got stuff to do...and we've only been out five times. Her frequency of contact does not determine my happiness or who I am.

This was a pretty big revelation for me, so I guess this post ended up being a lot longer than I originally intended. If you read the whole thing, I appreciate it. If you're coming here for pop culture reviews, I apologize for the abrupt change in posting topics, all this is very therapeutic for me, and obviously it's helping. I wonder who IS reading this, though? Do I know you? If not, how did you stumble upon this? I know Stephanie used to read it, at least when I was going through my divorce and posting links on my Facebook page. She hasn't mentioned anything about it, so probably not?

Time to work. Thank you all for reading. Here's my favorite Paramore song, as a treat (lyrics copied below the video with the relevant ones bolded).

When I was younger
I saw my daddy cry
And curse at the wind
He broke his own heart
And I watched
As he tried to reassemble it

And my momma swore
That she would never let herself forget
And that was the day that I promised
I'd never sing of love
If it does not exist, but darlin'

You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception

Maybe I know, somewhere
Deep in my soul
That love never lasts
And we've got to find other ways
To make it alone
But keep a straight face

And I've always lived like this
Keeping a comfortable, distance
And up until now
I had sworn to myself that I'm content
With loneliness

Because none of it was ever worth the risk

But, you are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception

I've got a tight grip on reality
But I can't let go of what's in front of me here
I know your leaving in the morning, when you wake up
Leave me with some kind of proof it's not a dream, oh

You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception

You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception

And I'm on my way to believing
Oh, and I'm on my way to believing.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Working and thinking, thinking and working

That's what I'll be doing today (see this post's title).

I need to immerse myself in work today. I never have a lack of it, but I need to get out of my head for a bit. That said, I also REALLY need to do some thinking.

Yesterday I shared a little motivational pic/quote to her Facebook wall and commented that it was directly related to something we had talked about on the phone the night before. That pissed her off. She thought I posted it on her wall as opposed to texting it to her just so HE'D see it and know that we talked. We talk almost every night. Is that why I did it? Was I subconsciously "marking my territory"? I don't know. I don't think so, but now I'm second guessing myself.

So she's pretty upset that there seems to be a pissing match between him and me over her, and she's made it clear (to me, at least...God knows what they talk about in limited Snapchat shares) that she's not mine or his. And you know what? I get that. I really do. She's not a prize to be won. She's not a trophy. She's not a THING. She's a strong, beautiful woman who I fell in love with, and each day it's just more and more difficult for me to be the only one who's really into this relationship.

So I don't know if I'll be able to make it to Valentine's Day, less than two weeks away. I just...don't...know.

I'm taking a communication break from her today. No Snapchats, no texts, more than likely no phone call tonight. I think we both need it. So I'm going to listen to Spotify (with the Friend Feed turned off), do my work, think my thoughts, and ultimately I'll have to change something. At best, I'll have to change my mindset about this relationship. At worst, I'll just have to let it all go.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Back-Up Boyfriend

I don't want to type out everything I'm thinking or feeling right now...not here. I'm about to start a letter to Stephanie (it's been almost a week since my last one, so I've figured out that when I'm in a good place, the letters stop). I do want to put a few things out there, though, and maybe get some advice or thoughts from anyone reading this. I won't necessarily TAKE that advice, but I'd like to hear it anyways.

Right now I feel like a back-up boyfriend. I'm almost kind of okay with that, but mostly I'm not. I try to take solace in the fact that she's with me, as much as two people who live three hours apart and can maybe only see each other every other weekend can be with each other. But as much as she's with me, as much as we talk or text or Snapchat, her heart is still with him.

Two weekends ago I started to feel better about our situation, or at least her situation with him. From what she was saying, he was doing all he could to push her away, and she was starting to go. She told me she missed me. It was the first time she had ever done that. That was HUGE. She said that if our situations had been different that weekend (we both had our kids), she would have run right to me. THAT was huge. For the first time since our relationship started, I actually felt wanted...not just needed, but WANTED. I haven't felt like that in so long, and coming from her, well, it was one of the best feelings ever.

Later in the week he continued to piss her off. She called me at work to vent (and vent she did!), and while I was happy to be able to let her do was all about him. Sure, she was pissed and I could see the end of them continuing, but the fact that she was venting about her ex-non-boyfriend to her current, I don't even know, guy she's dating (I think we're a ways away from boyfriend/girlfriend labels), it hurt me a LOT. I was hoping I'd be able to go to Martin on Saturday and see her and just be there for her, but on Saturday morning she was still upset and wanted a weekend alone. I can't fault her for that...she had things to get through, and although I missed her terribly, I wanted her to have her space. But then she bought some furniture and spent part of the day on Sunday with HIM and told me, as we were on the phone last night, that her previous upset was out of context and the situation was different than she had assumed.

So now it seems they're back to, fuck, I don't even know. THEY don't even know.

There's a HUGE war going on right now between my head, my heart, and my gut, and it's terrible not only because they're fighting, but because they constantly change sides and views. My head knows that I should get out. She still has very strong feelings for him and me being "around" can't be helping her figure out exactly what those feelings are. My heart says to end it because it's constantly breaking, every time she says his name and gives him another chance to be noncommittal. My gut, though, is is the stalwart hopeful optimist telling me to hang in there, that she does see how much you care for her (love her...she's not stupid...she knows how I feel even though I haven't directly come out and said it) and ultimately she's strong and smart enough to see through all his bullshit and posturing and immature games. So then the gut talks to my heart and he says, yeah, that's right, I do love her. I can work through the pain and I can mend the heartbreak and when this all does work out for the better (because my heart is full of hope), we'll be stronger and closer and we'll know better how we both think and feel. My head is a little less forgiving, but when the heart and gut team up, he softens up a little. He just tells me to be cautious and not put SO MUCH out there because it still might not work out...but he's still supportive.

Maybe I shared too much, I don't know. I do know that I love her, truly, madly, and deeply. If I didn't have these strong feelings for her, I know I would end it. But I do, and I don't think I can. Two big weekends are coming up: next week they're coming to Nashville for a concert, the week after that she's coming back to see her family and spend some time with me for Valentine's weekend. We'll see how both of those nights go. At least I'll have my kids to distract me this coming Saturday, at least until they're in bed, then it'll just be me alone with my thoughts, and that tends to be a horrible combination.

I'm going to leave you with a song I heard for the first time as I was typing this. It's by Rilo Kiley, who I had heard before but didn't really take to. They, along with Jenny Lewis' solo work, have gotten a new respect from me thanks to some song shares from Stephanie (one of which was sent to her by him, which she then sent me...this is all just very weird to me). It's the first verse that really gets me. Song with lyrics to follow:

There are worse ways for a guy to spend his time

Than to sit and think of you
I think I'd marry you
Just your smile
Keeps me satisfied
Though you're not mine

So for the rest of my life
I'm gonna search for someone just like you

And we tend the garden all day long
Watching history unfold
And I'd be enough
And you'd be enough
And we'd grow old

So for the rest of my life
I'm gonna search for someone just like you

For the rest of my life
I'm gonna search for someone just like you

Yeah, for the rest of my life
I'm gonna search for someone just like you

I hope I don't have to search for someone just like her. I've found her, I love her, and she's all I want.

Updated to add a title.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Two months ago today...

...was my first date with Stephanie. It's kind of weird, the whole relationship thing. My feelings and intentions are out in the open...she knows that, and you know that. She's still going through some feelings for her previous...whatever it that occasionally makes things a little tense between us. But things are still nice. I miss her horribly, though. We haven't seen each other since New Years Day, and there's a good chance we won't see each other again until the day before Valentine's Day. That'll be six weeks. I don't like that. I'm hoping I'll be able to drive to Martin on Saturday so we can spend a little time together, but that all depends on her ex-husband and what day (Friday or Saturday) he is able to keep their kids. Then the following weekend she's coming to Nashville for a concert with her previous whatever it was. That hurts me. She says it's not a date, just there and back on Saturday night, but yeah, it still hurts. Now, I've taken girls to concerts before and they weren't dates...but they were kind of trials for possibly dating. So I don't know if I'm being hypocritical or judging this on my experience, but the concerts we went to, neither of us were dating anyone else, and we weren't exes (well, not recent ones...just 20 years ago in high school for about a minute, and that's not the same).

Her song of the day today was "Trouble" by Cage the Elephant. Here's the song:

We both love music. We need it to function. If I'm awake, I'm listening to work, in the car, fixing dinner, cleaning the house, mowing the yard...whatever. She's the same way. We also occasionally share on Facebook the songs we're really into at the time. When we do that, there's always something MORE about it. It's how we're feeling/felt/want to feel; it's directed at someone; it's cathartic.

So I listened to this song as soon as she posted it on Facebook. I was on the balcony outside my office smoking my only cigarette of the day (I promise!). It was cold, and my hand was kind of freezing, but listening to the song, I felt it wasn't meant for me. It felt like it was meant for whatever-it-was guy. And the thing is? I could totally share this to her from me.

Here are the lyrics:

We were at the table by the window with the view
Casting shadows, the sun was pushed through
Spoke a lot of words, I don't know if I spoke the truth

Got so much to lose
Got so much to prove
God, don't let me lose my mind

Trouble on my left, trouble on my right
I've been facing trouble almost all my life
My sweet love, won't you pull me through
Everywhere I look I catch a glimpse of you
I said it was love and I did it for life, do do it for you

Will I come to pass or will I pass the test
You know what they say, yeah, the wicked get no rest
You can have my heart any place, any time

Got so much to lose
Got so much to prove
God, don't let me lose my mind

Trouble on my left, trouble on my right
I've been facing trouble almost all my life
My sweet love, won't you pull me through
Everywhere I look I catch a glimpse of you
I said it was love and I did it for life, do do it for you

Trouble on my left, trouble on my right
I've been facing trouble almost all my life
My sweet love, won't you pull me through
Everywhere I look I catch a glimpse of you
I said it was love and I did it for life, do do it for you

Got so much to lose
Got so much to prove
God, don't let me lose my mind

I haven't told her I love her yet, but I've told you, and if she reads the blog (she used's how we got back in touch after more than a decade since the last time we saw each other), she knows but hasn't said anything to me about it. But I do love her...I have for most of these past two months. I fell fast, and I fell hard.

She hasn't come out and said that she was in love with whatever-it-was guy, but with us actually dating and them NOT and her still having feelings, I can't imagine that she wasn't. From talking with her just this past week, though, it sounds like she's starting to turn a corner and is almost prepared to put him in her past. We've had some GREAT talks over the past week. She's said a couple things that took me by surprise and I wasn't expecting to hear so soon. So, I still feel good. I'm confident. I do realize I might be setting myself up for a long fall (fake Internet points for anyone who can tell me where this comes from without looking: "How come the only way to know how high you get me is to see how far I fall? God only knows how much I'd love you if you let me, but I can't break through at all."), but the biggest rewards always come with the biggest risks, right? I'm ready to take the risk.

Monday, January 25, 2016

That was a good, snow-filled weekend

I felt REALLY good this extended weekend (after a harrowing drive to work, working for 20 minutes, and a longer drive home, I spent the majority of the day at home on Friday). I've come to realize that yes, the anxiety is not all about my lady friend. I think that's actually very little of it. I think the nicotine withdrawal was the big thing, so I had half a cigarette on Thursday night, and that really helped. I had another half of one onFriday morning before heading home from work. One more half on Saturday morning, then I finished it after the kids and I went to the grocery store. Then, and I'm REALLY not proud of this, I had two-and-a-half on Saturday night...half while walking from our parking spot on the other side of the Frist Center to the Flying Saucer, one while walking from The Saucer to Bridgestone (Tool, bitches!), and then the last one while walking from Bridgestone back to the car. Those two-and-a-half really had nothing to do with my anxiety. I was out, and I was drinking, and holy crap the smoke INSIDE Bridgestone was ridiculous.

So, besides smoking, how was the snowy weekend spent?

On Friday the kids couldn't wait to get out in the snow after I picked them up from my parents' house. I made them layer up, and because I never think about these things in advance, I made the boys wear plastic Kroger bags over their socks because they don't have snow boots. We get snow like this maybe once a year, so buying them seems like a bit of a waste. #2 had a pair that she got as hand-me-downs, so she was good to go. I didn't let the kids stay out TOO was still snowing and #3 was pretty much rolling around in it and getting covered...I figured they'd all be frozen solid when they came in. I made lunch, I let them get on their devices, I started the weekend laundry...not very exciting. I let them go back out for a bit in the afternoon. #2 and #1 have friends next door so they spent some time in their house, but #3 has learned how to have fun outside by himself. He's got a friend in the neighborhood, but he lives on another street and I'm not comfortable with #3 going over there by himself yet. So they play whenever the other kid makes his way over. Honestly, I don't like him all that much, so I'm glad he's not over much. I just hate that #3 doesn't have someone else to play with all the time. All three TRY to play together every now and then, but they usually end up fighting and/or crying.

Saturday I took the car out in the neighborhood to the main road to see if we'd be able to go to the grocery store. Some kind soul had plowed the street in front of our house, but not the rest of the neighborhood...not sure why, it's not that big. But I got out to the main road just fine, ensuring us a trip to the store. it was when I got home that I had half of a cigarette. I decided to save the other half so I wouldn't be wasting it. I'm so frugal...just ignore all the Locke & Key stuff from the last post. Keep that half was a BIG mistake. I put it back in the pack and put the pack in a zipper pocket in my jacket, and when I opened the pocket up before going to the store, stale cigarette smell wafted out. I Febreezed the hell out of the jacket when we got home, kept the cigarettes (the last one is in a unused glasses case in front of me on my desk at work right now), and threw the pack away. Yuck.

That afternoon the kids played outside some more before getting ready to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house for a sleepover while I went to the Tool show. The show was good, but not the best one I've been to. I was looking forward to it for quite a while. I love listening to Tool, I just don't think I'm a big fan of them live. Maynard stayed in the shadows the whole time, which I thought was odd. Also, the smoke was UNREAL. There were people smoking cigarettes all around us, people vaping, and more than once we got some strong whiffs of pot. Yes, I know I've started smoking again, but I hate the smell, and I REEKED of it when we left. My jacket got Febreezed again when I got home, everything I was wearing went into the wash, and I jumped into the shower to try and scrub the nastiness off. It mostly worked. I made it to bed around 1 a.m....and woke up just before 5:00. I was able to eventually fall back asleep, but only for about an hour. I was dragging all day on Sunday.

After picking the kids up from my parents' house, going to church, and then all of us going to IHOP for lunch, I was an unmotivated, lazy bum on Sunday afternoon. I ALMOST fell asleep while catching up on an old blog, but I didn't. I ended up getting a second wind late in the afternoon. I did a bit of cleaning, then made a drink and started dinner: chicken cacciatore subs. The kids had plain chicken and provolone (with #2 and #3 adding ketchup), and I really enjoyed the cacciatore. I just had another for lunch. After dinner it was #2's turn to stay up a little later and watch a movie with me, and we started on The Prisoner of Azkaban.

So that was the weekend with the kids. The other thing that really made it a nice weekend was all the talking and communicating I did with the lady friend. It was nice. It was really good. Some things were said that hadn't been sad before (and some things I hadn't planned on talking about until MONTHS down the line), and that made me feel REALLY good. Also, it seems like she's closer and closer to cutting ties with the guy before me. THAT makes me feel good. Yeah, it doesn't feel great that we're dating but she's still a bit hung up on this guy, but she is WITH me and not him, so...I don't know. It doesn't look like she'll be coming here this weekend for the Macklemore concert, but that's okay...I've already got backup buyers in place so I'm not out money. There's a chance I'll be able to go see her on Saturday afternoon, and that's all I really care about.

Geez, when I started doing this blog again, I didn't really anticipate it turning into this. It's a far cry from my random pop culture reviews. Ah, it doesn't matter...this is more for me than anyone else.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Locke & Key Obsession

I'm quitting new comics. This Wednesday, when I go to Rick's Comic City in Donelson to get my last batch of new comics, I'm going to cancel my hold box. I don't know if my dwindling enjoyment is just a thing (I've quit a few other times in the past) or a product of the re-emerging depression, but I'm okay with it. I'm pretty excited about the money I'm going to save. I'm also attempting to sell my collection. I've done that one other time, and I learned some things from it. Primarily I learned that if I REALLY like a series or character, I shouldn't get rid of it.

This time I'm keeping a few boxes, and I'm going to be slowly adding to that collection. Starman is my guy. The James Robinson series in the '90s was AMAZING. So I'm keeping all of those books. But this post isn't about Starman, it's about Locke & Key.

The only reason I started reading Locke & Key was because I'm a huge Stephen King fan, and Joe Hill is King's son. At the time of its release, though, I was at the tail-end of my previous no-buying kick. I was, however, reading them online. I was hooked after the first one. When I got back into buying, this series of mini-series was the first thing I added to my pull list.

Over the past year or so, I've worked hard to track down the issues I've missed, along with variant covers, trade paperbacks, hardcover collections, special collected volumes, and collectibles. This post is just a way for me to show off something I'm really proud of.

Bleeding Cool #5, Doctor Who Classics #2, IDW 10th Anniversary Comic, and IDW Coming Attractions 2009 #1 -
These contain either short stories or previews of one of the L&K minis. I think all I need is the retro variant cover to Doctor Who Classics #2.

This is the first mini series. The only regular issue I'm missing is #1, and apparently there's a foil variant out there, but I've never seen it. I'm also missing the Deluxe Hardcover, the Signed Limited Hardcover, the slipcase for the hardcover set (I bought all my HCs separately through Amazon), and the 2008 SDCC Slipcase sets (three of them). 
So, these pictures are going in alphabetical order, not publication order. These are ALL the issues of L&K: Alpha #1. I'm not missing a single thing.

These are the Wondercon variants for Alpha #1 and 2.
These are all the 2nd issue of Alpha. Again, I'm not missing an issue.

This is the complete Clockworks mini. The only issue I'm missing is the variant for issue #2.

This is Crown of Shadows. I'm only missing the variant covers for issues #3, 5, and 6. As a neat little aside, I've got a coworker who custom makes crowns and other items. I've shown her some pictures of the Crown of Shadows, and she's going to make me one, and hopefully I'll even be able to put the Shadow Key in it! I can't wait to post a picture when she's finished. Why don't you check out her Etsy page?

These are two one-shots: Grindhouse on top and Guide to the Known Keys on bottom. I'm missing two variant covers for GttKK, the convention variant and one with a red bar instead of a blue one in the top left corner. I think it's a 2nd print?

Here we have Head Games. I've got all the issues and variants, I'm just missing the signed limited hardcover, some black label hardcovers (I'll address those a little later), a blue label hardcover, and the Subterranean Press hardcover with dust jacket.

This is Keys to the Kingdom. I'm missing the variant covers for issues #2, 3, 4, and 5. 

This is Omega. Looks like I've got all of these. :D

These are the Welcome to Lovecraft specials that reprinted the very first issue. I just got the half-key variant that's on the far right a few weeks ago.

Here's the Red Label hardcover for Head Games.

This is one of the Black Label hardcovers for Head Games. Mine includes an original sketch by Langdon Foss.

This is Gabriel Rodriguez's Artist's Edition Portfolio. There are eight (I think) prints inside of uninked pages from throughout the series. They're pretty neat to look at.

This is the IDW 10th Anniversary Slipcase. I know I already have the comic that comes with it, but I also wanted the book. Maybe one day I'll eventually open it and read it. :D

These are the three oversized hardcover collections of the first three mini-series. I don't know if IDW is planning on releasing the rest of the series like this.

Here we've got the oversized treasury edition of Crown of Shadows.

This is the first volume of the Master Edition. Each volume will collect two of the mini-series. The one on the right is the convention variant. I've already got Volume 2 preordered from Amazon.

There's a coloring book! I bought two of these, one to keep and one to actually color. It's hella detailed and kind of a bitch.

This is a slipcase that collects all of the standard variants for L&K: Alpha #2.
Deluxed Edition hardcovers for Welcome to Lovecraft and Head Games.

All of the standard hardcover volumes, as well as the convention exclusives for volumes 4 and 6 and the covers collection.

Trade paperback slipcase.

Odds and ends: L&K the Game as well as an extra key card that was a convention exclusive, some temporary tattoos, a bookmark advertising the audio book (bookmark for an audio book? whatevs), and a L&K themed weekend pass for the 2012 C2E2 convention.

The aforementioned audio book.

Framed poster for Crown of Shadows.

Framed poster for the audio book. 

And finally, I'm pretty sure these are ALL of the keys produced by Israel Skelton and his Skelton Crew Studio. They've got some other stuff I'd eventually like to have, like a bust of Bode and some jewelry. Yeah, I'll even collect jewelry...hence calling it an obsession.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Today Was a Good Day...

...and I kind of hate why I think it was so much better than the past few days.

I started smoking again last month. I was never a big smoker, but I'd have a couple during the day when my divorce was in full swing. I don't know how long I did it...maybe a year? Maybe a little longer? I used to kid myself that I smoked when I REALLY drank, but apparently I was doing it wrong for the longest time...I wasn't inhaling.

Here's how I figured that out. One day at work, a big group of us went to the Flying Saucer for lunch and beers. This was back when you could still smoke in bars in Nashville. Somebody had cigarettes, and I bummed one, apparently doing my non-inhaling imitation of smoking. In the midst of a non-inhalation, somebody told a joke and I DID inhale it, and OH. MY. GOD.

So that lasted for a year or so? Maybe? I don't know the timeline exactly. But I quit, and it was pretty easy. I just stopped.

Last month, we had another luncheon at the Saucer, and smoking was suggested. I had had three beers, so I was in the mood. Cigarettes were procured, and two were smoked in the parking lot of the Exxon station that's being renovated just down from the Saucer. And then I had another when we got back to work.

On my way home after another night of drinking just before New Years, I broke down and bought a pack. It took me almost two weeks to finish it. Then things started getting stressful, and I bought another pack. I smoked one, felt awful, and threw the pack away. Then MORE stressful stuff happened. I bought another pack and ended up smoking 2/3 of it in two days. That was last weekend. I tossed the pack in the garbage can on Monday. I got it back out on Wednesday, but tossed it again on Thursday morning. Yeah, yesterday. Yesterday was awful. My anxiety levels were off the chart. I tried coloring in my Locke & Key coloring book. I tried doing my letter things (but man, the anxiety SHOWED). I wrote a blog post. I did a LOT of work. Nothing helped.

I picked the kids up from my parents' house, we got home, and I got that pack of cigarettes BACK out of the trash. This time I had one. Well, I had half of one. It was plenty, though. The nicotine hit and my anxiety just melted away. Those few hours that night, while not as good as today, were much better than yesterday.

Today I braved the snow to go to work. I HAD to send some emails for a trial that starts next week. It took me about 50 minutes to get to work in the sleet and snow. It wasn't great, but it wasn't horrible. I even managed to get my Camry up the big hill...we'll, it's not a BIG hill, but it's a very STEEP hill. The parking lot was very empty. I got upstairs and saw our deputy director in the hallway. I told him I was there now, but I wouldn't be all day. He said we'd probably close early, maybe noonish. As I was walking out of the kitchen with a mug of water instead of coffee (which I'm glad I didn't have), he met me in the hall and asked if I could get done with my stuff by 8:30. I said I could, and I did. I was done by 8:00, in fact. So I had another half of a cigarette in the parking garage before my hour and 20 minute drive home. The roads were horrible, but I managed extremely well, if I do say so myself.

The rest of the day was pretty swell. The kids played in the snow. I played a little and attempted to help Bobby with a snowman that ended up just being a big pile of snow. I read some. I did my letter writing thing. I texted. I started the weekend's laundry. I made lunch. I watched TV. I talked on the phone. Yeah, it was a good day.

And all I can think is that I was going through nicotine withdrawal. THAT'S why I was a wreck. THAT'S why I was blowing things out of proportion in my mind. So I'm going to use these last few cigarettes to attempt to ween off instead of going cold turkey. After last time, I kind of feel weak for having to do that, but as long as I quit, that's the main thing. I was hoping to have a quitting buddy, but she's not quite ready yet. I'll be there to support her when she is, though. We both have health issues in our family that don't do too well with smoking, and we both have kids that need their parents around.

But all in all, today was a good day.