It’s been a while since we talked, so I’d like to bring anyone interested up to speed on all the little things that have been going on in my small corner of the world…
My Boys: My boys have been doing fine. Nick started grade 2, and while he doesn’t seem to particularly enjoy school he is doing well at most things, except reading. He struggles with reading mightily, and what’s more he doesn’t seem particularly interested in it. He loves being read to, but has little curiosity in learning how to read himself. I’m slightly concerned, but not yet alarmed. He excels at math, and seems to love numbers which is a bonus. I was competent at math, but found it dull and never excelled at it the way he does.
In all other respects, things are good between us. We have a better bond now than we have had since I left, and he enjoys the time we spend together. It seems like a dog’s age ago when he would throw screaming monkey fits on the sidewalk until he was throwing up when I’d try to pick him up for the weekend. In reality, that was only 16 months ago. We’ve come a long way since then.
Little Gerry and I have bonded much stronger since we last talked as well. He rushes to the door when I come to pick him up and is so excited to see me he sings the Spiderman theme song (Spi-ermah! Spi-ermah! Does hmm hmmhmm hmm spi-er can!) and when I drop him off, he clutches me hard, crying, and I have to pry his fingers one by one off my shirt so he’ll let go of me. It feels good to be wanted like that by your kids.
We’re not without our conflicts though. Even though I only have the boys a handful of days a month, it is still hard work, and I do not have a lot of help with them. My parents are shut-ins who do not leave the house, and my sister, as wonderful as she is, is not very comfortable around kids. Gina, whose apartment is next to mine and her teenage daughter Carly have been godsends when things have gotten rough. I often forget that the boys are still very little (7 and 2) and I lose my composure with them more often than I should.
The Ex: We’re civil. And that’s about as far as I’d like to be with her. No passive-aggressive nonsense lately out of her camp. On that front, things have been quiet. Perhaps I think she may finally be growing up. But who knows?
Work: I’ve been working a lot. 50-60 hour weeks in the last few months. This is the meat of why I haven’t been talking to you all lately. I had even taken a second job driving truck a couple of evenings a week. I have been a busy little beaver.
There’s been a couple of unexpected expenses crop up in the last few months. First was Gerry’s daycare bill, which was unexpected (the ex didn’t tell me she was putting him in daycare until the day before he started, when the waiting list is months long… did I mention she was passive-aggressive?) and added nearly $200 extra dollars a month to my expenses, and there was another unexpected $2000 bill that came up that took me completely by surprise. I had two options: deplete my savings that I worked hard to save since splitting with the ex, or take on extra work. I chose to take on extra work. And the good news is that I am once again debt-free and the ex has a daycare subsidy that reduces my half down to $25 a month. The further good news is that all that extra go-gettery at work has caught the attention of higher-ups and the word around the water-cooler is that I’m being tapped for a promotion in the near future. Nothing official has been said yet, but this promotion offers a substantial increase in pay. Like almost double what I’m making now. I’m adopting a wait-and-see attitude, but I’m cautiously optimistic.
The bad news? All that work, eat, sleep and nothing else really depleted me. Couple that with my mom’s illness last month (which I’ll get to in a minute) and I was practically wiped out. So much so when I did take a week’s holidays at the beginning of this month, I got a cold that I have really only started to shake last week. In my teens and twenties, I could put in 60+ hour weeks and still party until the wee hours. Not so much anymore.
But things have calmed down now, so I am not working so much, nor do I need to. Work is work. But it’s better than it has been.
Family: I alluded to it earlier, but about the middle of last month, my mom was taken to the hospital with respiratory problems. Turns out she had a nasty bout of pneumonia that really knocked her out. In addition to that, she is a heavy smoker and has COPD (which she previously denied, and did not take medication for, my sister and I found out from the doctor at the hospital). She was in the hospital for about a week So for that week, I worked 10 or 11 hours, hustled to the hospital with supper that I’d cooked the evening previous, because she was not eating hospital food at all, and stayed with her until she fell asleep. Went home, cooked supper for her for the next day. Repeat for 10 days.
My dad was a walking zombie during that time. My mother and him never had the best relationship and were often on the brink of divorce, but he looked hollowed-out and impossibly older than he usually does, and he’s traditionally looked about 15 years older than his 67 years so he had taken things hard. If mom died, I think he knows he’d be off to a home as both myself and my sister would be unable and unwilling to take care of him.
Anyway, she was released after her pneumonia cleared up, armed with a bag full of inhalers and whatnot, and promptly went back to smoking 2 packs a day. I know from personal experience how hard it is to quit, but she didn’t even try. She didn’t even have a pretense of trying. I’ve never had a close relationship with my mom, but I want to see her final days reasonably healthy ones, not ones where it’s a constant exhausting struggle to breathe. But the choice is hers, and I cannot change her. I can give her my opinion and leave it at that.
Romance: This one is easy, because there is none. Nada. Zero. Nothing. In fact I’ve been out socially twice (not including seeing family or playing soccer) in the last three months. I have simply not had the time or the energy or the money or, frankly, the inclination. My last post a few months ago says otherwise, I know, but I’ve just been too overwhelmed to entertain anything intimate. Until the last couple of weeks, that is. Then all of the sudden, like a ton of bricks, my libido started screaming in my ear directly from the reptilian portion of my brain: ‘YOU MUST MATE NOW!’ over and over about 6000 times a day.
Fortunately, I’m a little older and wiser now, so I can turn down the volume on that voice. Listen to him and follow his advice, and it’s a recipe for not making the best choices. Sex is there if I want it. But it means waking up stuff with a few women in the past couple of years I put to bed a while ago, and I’d prefer to just let it sleep and look forward. Sex for the sake of scratching an itch without any deeper emotion behind it is not that palatable for me right now. That could change, I suppose, but for right now it’s not a viable option. One night stands have become boring and awkward instead of hot and passionate. The next woman I get involved with I would like to be involved with for a good, long while, even if it isn’t on a deep level. If I’m resigned to another friends with benefits relationship, I’m just as, if not more interested, in the friends bit than the benefits bit.
I’m generally happy with the person I am, but this is one area where I wish I was a little different. I wish I was a little more… I guess charming would be the closest word to describe it, but that’s not exactly it.
Back when I was in university, there was this guy who used to couch-surf at our apartment from time to time. He wasn’t special in any particular way. He was a decent enough guy, although very irresponsible as he could never seem to keep an apartment for very long. He was handsome, but his looks didn’t exactly give nuns dirty thoughts. He had an average body, a little on the emaciated side, but okay. He barely ever had two nickels to rub together and he was a pretty shabby dresser as he had one small suitcase of clothes he carried around with him when he was between apartments. But when we used to go to a bar on the weekend, within a hour he’d have some girl blushing and giggling and crushing all over him and after a while they’d be slow-dancing and making out and eventually he’d go home with her (or he’d take her back to our place, if he was staying with us, while we went to an all-night diner after the bar closed). Every single time without fail. We all quizzed him on how he managed to do it and he shrugged and said he didn’t really know, that he just started talking and it all just fell into place.
In other words, he had ‘it’. Be it a certain smile, a gleam in his eye, or some potent pheromones (or a combination of many of these things), it was just something indefinable many women responded to. I’d like me some ‘it’ too. Most of us would, I suppose. But I don’t have it.
I’m not self-depreciating, but it’s true. Very rarely have I ever had that instant connection with a woman. I’m handsome in a decidedly safe and average way. I don’t make women swoon or do double-takes on the street (for the most part, anyway), but most lady friends I know will honestly say I’m handsome/attractive/cute in a generic, non-specific kind of way. I’m fit, but I’m not built like a Greek god by any stretch of the imagination.
What I lack in initial charm I make up for with intelligent conversation and quirky individualism. So while I’m not able to make a quick impression (and often I make a poor first impression, because I can come off as very aloof – in actuality I’m introverted and a little anxious around people I just met), when I’m chatting with someone about something I care about, I’ve captured more than one woman’s attention. I also have a dry, sarcastic, but not mean-spirited, British-inspired sense of humour that some women I’ve met find wonderfully funny. And I am my own person. I don’t pretend. Who you see is who you get. The guy who’s athletic and loves soccer and physics documentaries on Youtube and collecting European folk music on vinyl and playing dinosaurs with his kids. In a sea of phonies, some women have found me very refreshing for this reason.
So maybe in my own way I have ‘it’. Just not in the way that I like. Isn’t that a commonality we all share!
Screw it. Once in my life, I’d like to give a woman across the room a fiery, come hither glance and she’d return with a melting, sensuous gaze and as we meet in the middle, we slow-dance passionately as we lose ourselves in each others’ eyes, our lips touching in a kiss…
Ahem… yeah, as I said, my libido is screaming at me right now. Forgive me.
It’s unofficially winter now. We got a massive dump of snow over the weekend, and I feel that is going to be that until spring. I bought my finest, cheapest winter brandy, and I think you and I are going to get reacquainted.