You’re My Sweetheart

Yesterday was a terrible day. It is rare that my mother can affect me, but it does still happen occasionally, and yesterday was just one of those days.

But today…today I got notes, texts, and emails from friends telling me they love me. My mother-in-law did the sweetest thing and deleted my mom from her friends. Today I played with kittens, snuggled my husband, had lunch with my family, read a book, wrote a synopsis for my NaNoWriMo novel, signed up for a launch party, looked at knitting patterns to take to the knitting retreat next weekend, ate egg salad sandwiches for dinner, put away laundry, and wrote a long letter to a friend while laying next to my husband on the bed.

At some point, Ron went into the kitchen and came back with a handful of smarties. He unrolled one and set it in the middle between us. I was busy typing and not looking; I reached my hand over and felt the now empty wrapper, then started feeling around for another roll. I let out a frustrated yowl and Ron quietly pushed an unopened roll between my searching fingers.

This is love. While fancy dinners, unexpected flowers, and expensive chocolates are nice, it’s the smarties roll gently nudged into your searching hand when you’re stressed out that lets you know you’re special.

While my husband is far from what most women would consider to be perfect, he knows how to love me and he does it well. He knows when I need to rant or when I need to just be held in silence. He makes me laugh, but lets me feel my feelings before trying to distract me from them. He makes me toast and tea and laughs at my “your face” jokes that really aren’t funny. He listens to my weird dreams but knows the difference between those and my dreams of what I want for my future, our future.

Smarties. They are better than flowers.


Trigger Warning: Trauma and the News

As a woman, I can’t help but be horrified at Donald Trump. Even before the Billy Bush / Access Hollywood tape was outed, I was disgusted at his treatment of women. But my issues have gone beyond that of feminism and now reach into my personal experiences of assault and the people who covered it up.

I’ve discussed this before, but for those just joining us, I was molested by my stepfather until I was 14 years old. I suffered constant covert molestation even after that; comments about my breasts, questions and suggestions on masturbation, being called a slut for doing less with a boyfriend than what I suffered from my stepfather; the list goes on.

For most of my life, I believed that the molestation started when I was about seven years old because that was the first memory that really stood out in my mind as outright sexual assault. I will spare the details because even writing about it turns my stomach to this day. Sadly, it’s not the worst thing he ever did to me.

However, during therapy in my late 30s, I kept flashing back to a time when I was playing with the little plastic circles that were in the middle of film that came in canisters. My stepfather was a movie projectionist, so I spent a lot of time in various theatre booths as a kid. Because he could take me with him to work, this was my parent’s solution to child care.  This particular time was at the Majestic Theatre, which was converted into a performance venue a while back, but was a film theatre during my earliest childhood. I’ve attended many an event there as an adult, and sitting in the balcony still has the power to make me queasy and shakey.

It wasn’t just one, but two separate events that stick out in my memory of the Majestic. The first involved my stepfather sitting me between two film reels that were used to hold the film that needed to be spliced together. Back then, movies came in three to five canisters and had to be carefully spliced into one long strip that sat on platters that seemed 10 feet wide to me. I think they were actually about five feet in diameter, but I was only three at the time. Anyway, when the splicer was turned on, film would go by in a blur; the edges of the film were very sharp and I was often warned not to touch it. I saw my stepfather get cut more than once, so I had a healthy fear of the splicer. Needless to say, sitting behind the splicer with my legs dangling over the edge of the desk and under the moving film, I was trapped. I couldn’t slip under the film because it was only a few inches above my legs. I couldn’t move forward or jump down without being cut. I wasn’t bound or gagged, but I was caught and speechless with fear.

After my stepfather placed me on the desk and wound the film in front of me, he told me not to move so I wouldn’t get cut. When I asked to get down, he said he would let me down after I spread my legs and let him touch me. I could either acquiesce to his abuse, or I could risk being sliced to ribbons. Instead I sat there and cried and screamed. He slapped me and told me to shut up (although he was quite safe as the projectionist booth was solid and nearly sound proof). Eventually, crying and near hysterics, I let him touch me between my legs and once the film ran out, he let me down. I now know that it only took a few minutes for film to wind on the splicer, but to me at that moment, it was an eternity.

Not too long after that, I met my stepfather’s colleague. My stepfather worked the night shift, and this older Latino man worked days. As they chatted, I went and sat in the balcony to watch whatever movie was showing at the time. A few minutes later, the day shift man came and sat next to me. My stepfather was busy doing his beginning of the shift work and so couldn’t see or hear me (as I said, the booth was nearly soundproof). This man proceeded to offer me candy and kept stroking my hair. I didn’t like it and asked him to stop. He told me I had to respect my elders, then he put his hand on my knee. I was wearing a dress that day. I cried as his hand crept up my skirt and in the words of Kirstin Anderson, he touched my vagina through my underwear. He told me I couldn’t tell anyone or I would get in trouble.

But I did tell. I told my mom, who said my stepdad could never find out or he would kill this other man. Of course, then she told my stepdad, and he was FURIOUS. I remember this was the first time I was caught in the hypocrisy of molestation. Although it was fine for my stepfather to molest me, I was HIS property and wasn’t to be touched by anyone else.

But nothing ever happened to the older man who touched me. My parents never left me alone with him, but everyone pretended that nothing really occurred. The message I got was clear: I was my stepfather’s property, and my importance was well below that of his comfort with his coworker.

There are many more incidences of my being molested by my stepfather; as I said above, I used to believe it didn’t start until I was seven, but in my 30s I realized I must have been age three, if not younger. I didn’t know how to read yet, and I learned to read at age 4, so that helps me with the timeline.

As more and more (over nine million at last count) women speak out about their first encounter of sexual abuse, I am encouraged to once again speak out about mine. It is difficult. It is disgusting. I still feel shame even though I now know I was not to blame. I feel dirty. I don’t want my husband to touch me.

Even so, I know I am a survivor. I will move past this. Again. This time, I know I am NOT ALONE. Over nine million other women are openly with me, with God only knows how many still hiding in the shadows. If nothing else, this election is shining a light into dark corners.


A few months back, I had to have an abdominal CT to make sure I didn’t have anything more serious than an exceedingly painful IBS flare. While I didn’t have anything major like a hot appendix or an intestinal blockage, they did find a supraumbilical hernia. I love when I get to add to my list of shit wrong with my body.

For years, I would have periods of feeling like my belly button was stretched, much like when I was pregnant. It gets so stretched, it burns. What used to be periodic has become constant. I thought I had this pain because of my weight but the more I lose, the more pain I have. Even better, now that it doesn’t have as much weight to hide behind, I now have a prominent lump above my belly button.

Thanks to my “migraine” debacle (during which nothing less than four specialists ran a ridiculous number of tests and STILL didn’t find what my one neurologist diagnosed in thirty seconds…not migraines but instead, I have hemicrania continua), we’ve met our out of pocket and deductible expenses for the year. It’s the perfect time to have surgery. Whoo hoo!

The migraine debacle has made me extremely wary of specialists. Having to find a surgeon on my own would be near impossible if it weren’t for I typed in “hernia repair” and my zip code and got a list of doctors and their ratings from patients. Now I just have to get a referral from my GP and hope the waiting list isn’t ridiculously long.

Meanwhile, I am spending a lot of time locked away in my house. My headache medication makes me unfit for human companionship. I didn’t think it was possible but apparently I can be a bigger bitch! I hate everyone and just about everything. I’m not sleeping well and when I do sleep, I have bizarre nightmares. My belly button hurts. I’m irritable and mean.

For the moment, the solution is complete isolation. I have a follow up in September and I am hoping my doctor has some ideas about additional meds that can help my mood since I cannot get off my headache med. Even missing just a single dose causes lightning bolt pain through my left eye. I’d like to avoid that.

So I’m knitting. And shopping online. And having services done at my house, like using a mobile dog groomer. I’m also playing the cutest mobile game called My Singing Monsters. It’s a great way to teach Mendelian genetics to kids.

And I’m waiting. It’s the waiting part that sucks.

Come Play With Me

My husband called me this afternoon at an odd time and for no reason. I immediately thought something happened at work and he was done (his last day is supposed to be July 8th), but he just said he was bored. He plays an adult well in the real world but in real life, he’s a dorky five year old. And this is why I love him.

We’re on the downhill slide to 50. We are OLD. But Ron still makes me feel like we’re teenage kids together, faking our way through life like we have no idea what we’re doing. I mean we really don’t have any idea what we’re doing; who does? We have a modicum of a plan but day to day stuff? We still occasionally eat chips and queso for dinner (not as an appetizer) and vegetables just aren’t as prevalent as they should be at our age. We bicker over whose turn it is to do various chores. We laugh and giggle and play like kids.

I know that at work, my husband is strong and capable and smart and an adult, dammit. But with me, he still gets toddler face when he has to do something he doesn’t want to do, like mow the lawn or take out the trash. He randomly makes funny noises. He makes up songs to the cat. He wakes up with his hair sticking up and is plain adorable. I can easily imagine him at age two, or five, or even 15.

He works hard to cultivate his adult image and I’m sure I’ll get crap for marring it, but he is ridiculously child-like with me. He keeps me young because he makes me laugh. I’m often torn between wishing the entire world could know how awesome he is and wanting to keep him a secret all to myself.

Our marriage has had its ups and downs (like hell level downs) and there were a few times we weren’t sure we would make it, but the past two and a half years have been amazing and it doesn’t show signs of stopping. Since we learned how to communicate, we are stronger, happier, and more fulfilled. If there was one single thing I could wish for my children it would be to have this level of communication with their future partners. There is no passive-aggressive manipulations. If I want something, I ask for it. He’s still learning to do that but he has drastically improved.

I think the other thing we’ve learned that has made us both happier is acceptance. I love him for exactly who he is and I don’t try to change him. I do make him stretch his comfort zone now and then but I don’t expect him to suddenly start bringing me flowers.

Having someone to play with, who makes me laugh and who laughs at my horrendous “your face” jokes is a relationship goal that I never knew to aspire to. My first marriage made me feel old and worn out. My second marriage made me feel like I had a third child. But this baby bear is just right.


Love Without End, Amen

It’s Father’s Day today. This does not hold the same traumatic emotions that Mother’s Day does, thank goodness. Not that I had a good father, neither my biological nor my adopted one. Even my first husband was a shitty dad when we were married and he’s even worse now. He hasn’t had any contact with his children since 2005, in spite of living less than two miles from our current house. I can only wonder what kind of relationship he has with his stepson. Shudder….

No, my actual fathers were crap, but I had some amazing male role models and both my second and my current husband were and are both inspiring dads. Although Jon was only part of our lives for four years, he gave us a normalcy that I and the kids had never had. We had a beautiful home, fantastic home cooked meals, and he was always up for playing games and having fun. He and Aubrey are still in contact although not as often as they used to be. I am so happy that he now has two daughters of his own to spoil and be a great dad to them.

Ron is everything a dad should be. He’s supportive without being overbearing. He takes care of all us without question. He works hard and comes home to work even harder, be it cooking, cleaning, or studying so he can move forward and take even better care of us. He gives the dogs their meds twice a day, makes me coffee every weekend morning, and tries very hard to not punch Aubrey’s boyfriend in the face. He does almost all of the grocery shopping, all of the laundry, all of the dishes, cooks almost every meal that we eat at home, takes care of the yard, and makes us laugh with his little idiosyncrasies. And all that is just the tip of the Ron iceberg. Every day, he amazes me with how incredible he is and I know exactly how blessed I am to have him.

Unlike with mothers, I’ve never wandered around grasping onto male father figures and asking, “Are you my father?” But there have been some truly special men in my life. I think the first one was Delbert Rowland, the Vice Principal at Alamo Heights High School during my time there, although I didn’t know it then. He reported my mom to child protective services because he cared about me. Of course, my mother has fictionalized it as he was persecuting me, which I believed at the time. As an adult, I know better. He actually believed I deserved better than what I had, and while I didn’t recognize it then, it has helped me in my trauma recovery as an adult. I cannot thank him enough. He wasn’t out to get me, he was out to get her, and he tried his best to make a difference.

Also from AHHS was Mr. Paul Foerster. He was the only teacher who ever gave me in school suspension for missing class. He knew I was capable of more than what I was giving, and he expected better from me. Even then, I knew he punished me because he cared, not because he was mean or being an asshole. I think he loved all of his students equally (and he was there FOREVER, so that’s a LOT of students), which was also a great lesson; love is infinite and there is plenty to go around if you let it. He never ever ever played favorites, unlike almost every other teacher I’ve had.

Which leads me to Glenn Boswell, affectionately known to all of us as Boz. He also never ever ever plays favorites. Ever. He makes every person (not just his students) feel special, and worthy, and capable, and accepted. I remember he told us that he had to fix his ex-daughter-in-law’s car and we all thought that was crazy. But to Boz, she was the mother of his grandchild and would always be part of his family. That set a shining example for me of how love should be; unconditional.

Boz always underrates his importance in changing lives. So many kids go off to college broken in some way, both minor and major. At a junior college, the rate is even higher. I was more broken than most; in an abusive and controlling marriage after surviving an abusive and controlling childhood. Many times I floundered, to say the least. But Boz was always there to pull me through. He didn’t have to do anything special…he just was THERE. When I was knocked down, he lifted me back up. When I said I couldn’t, he told me I could. He gave advice with no expectation of it being followed. He offered comfort when my life was at its worst. Most of all, he believed I was amazing, and he made me believe I was amazing, too.

Without Boz on my side, I would likely have stayed in my miserable marriage for much longer because I wouldn’t have had the means to support myself and my kids, both financially and psychologically. Not only did he teach me everything I know about computer architecture and half of what I know about programming, he gave me glowing job recommendations. I always got the job. Not only was I able to leave my abusive husband, I was able to provide a good life for my kids when they were young.

Even now, Boz is still the angel on my shoulder. When I don’t blog often enough, I get a gentle nudge reminding me to post something. I think a quarter of my entire blog is due to Boz’ nudging.

It’s been 20 years since he came into my life. While I don’t get to see him often enough in real life, he is still a major influence for me. Although he never signed up for the job, he’s the closest thing I have to a father and that is more than a lot of my friends have. For that, I will always feel blessed.


That’s What Friends Are For

18 months ago, my life was so much different. I had a slew of what I considered to be good friends. I was knitting in a different group every day and considered myself somewhat popular. Then I made the mistake of becoming close to the wrong person and when the schism inevitably happened, just like in any divorce, friends took sides. I. Lost. Almost. Everyone.

It was HARD to cope with the sudden changes. I went into a major depressive episode and returned to therapy. Oddly enough, a miracle occurred and I gained a new perspective on my need for people to like me. For the first time, I truly was able to say, “Fuck it,” and concentrated on spending time with the people who actually do care about me rather than chasing after the ones who don’t.

Every once in a while, I come across an FB post that is evidence of my non-importance to those I called friends and I admit that it does sting for a moment or two. But then I remember the real people who matter and it’s like aloe on a burn.

There is one person that I particularly miss, though. J.S. was someone who soothed my troubled soul, whom I thought loved unconditionally, whom I loved unconditionally. Even when we didn’t see each other as much as I’d have liked, she would randomly text that she was thinking about me. Then she stopped responding to my texts. I was ghosted. It hurt because I loved her.

Months later I received a single text that she wasn’t upset with me, but that she was dealing with stuff and didn’t feel up to socializing. I accepted that because I’ve been there. I never heard from her again. But today I saw a selfie with her hanging out with someone I don’t like, to put it mildly. That’s cool; I never begrudge someone else’s choice in friends. However, I can’t help but think that I was easily replaced by someone she considers to be better in whatever way. My heart broke a little to know that it’s not that she doesn’t want to hang out, it’s that she doesn’t want to hang out with ME.

So today, I am sad. Heartbroken, even. I miss her. And that is OK.

After grieving for a bit, I will go back to being excited that my best friend is moving all the way from Connecticut back to Texas. She will be within easy driving distance. Leigh is more than a friend, she is the closest thing I have to a sister. She is the other half of my heart. While losing a friend can be devastating and leave me feeling unwanted and “less than,” I think of Leigh, who swore she’d never move back to the same state as her mother and sister, saying, “I need to be near you more than I need to be away from my family.”

me and leigh

Leigh and Me

I am loved. I am wanted. I am enough.



From My Kitchen Pantry. Rich and Luscious Crème Pâtissière.

Ron and I are making eclairs this pastry weekend. I had never made pastry cream before, but have made curd numerous times. I was thrilled to find out they are equally easy. I used this recipe and followed her instructions exactly and my cream turned out perfect on the first try!

The Paddington Foodie

Creme Patisserie

This weekend we’re celebrating my husband’s birthday, and as always I’m baking a celebratory cake. Last year we embarked on a serious chocoholic indulgence with a Chocolate Mousse Torte with Candied Morello Cherries and Hazelnut Praline, this year it’s to be something lighter – a berry and cream filled Pavlova. Of course for my family one regular sized pavlova just won’t do so I doubled the recipe. What to do with eight left over eggs? Make Crème Pâtissière; an idea initially inspired some time ago by Ana over at her blog Delicious By Ana.

Crème Pâtissière is a ludicrously rich and luscious French pastry cream or custard that can be used to fill all manner of desserts, tarts and cakes. Think simple fruit tarts, choux pastry puffs, mille feuille, éclairs, Napoleons and layer cakes.  In my family it is also enjoyed inelegantly and stealthily; by the spoonful, straight…

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