Monday, February 28, 2011

Music Madness

Big music weekend.  What was cool was that the music we saw was from opposite ends of the spectrum.

Friday night:
"Put it in the Dumpsta!"
All of the friends (BFF(A) & husband, BFF(J) & husband, myself & Xing Fu), went down to the 8X10 to listen to a New Orleans Funk band with a bunch of the Neville Brothers playing: Dumpstaphunk.  We also caught the tail-end of another great band from L.A. called Orgone.  Great horns.  We enjoyed the groove, danced a bunch, and then remembered that it was almost the beginning of Mardi Gras--(March 8th is Fat Tuesday)--even better.  It was a great time with the besties, even if we had to hike to BFF(J)'s hubby's car about 3 miles away...& me without my jacket.  

Saturday Night:
  We went to see a "semi-staged" production of The Magic Flute at the BSOXing Fu had never been to the opera &  I thought that this might be a good intro as he loves Mozart (as do I) and that it was a bit condensed (narrator for the in-between bits) as opposed to the entire performance.  The leads wore costumes & it was actually quite humorous as they interacted with the narrator & at one point Papageno flirted with the conductor.  The Queen of the Night's second aria was just amazing--the skill needed for that particular piece--  After it was over, Xing Fu accused me of taking him to a chick flick---hardly--women are considered secondary supports & evil (Queen of the Night)--hardly a chick flick theme...ah well.  Regardless of his erroneous conclusions, we had a good time & met one of his friends from work afterward for dessert--finally had the flan & creme brulee we've been after.

I think Xing Fu said it best in the following email I received this morning: "Good friends, good music, good food, good times together."  Yup--my response was that we've enjoyed many such weekends & will have many more.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Scary Monster

Last post I talked about how I sometimes felt we were stagnated regarding moving our families together.  After writing that post I fretted a bit about broaching the topic with Xing Fu--he is very sensitive to his kids' ability to handle these changes & he has been pretty reluctant to move forward sometimes.  But I decided to talk to him about it as we'd already planned a small activity on Sunday leading up to dinner on Sunday evening.  Happily he was receptive to my ideas & so on Saturday evening I went to his place & spent a quiet evening with him & his kids.  I think it went quite well, actually.  I brought a couple games with me: Bananagrams & Anomia.  I want to think that I'm not coming off as trying too hard but I felt that having something to do rather than just sitting & watching TV was important.  At first just he & I played & then everyone else got in on the act.  I hope everyone else felt similarly; that it was successful--Xing Fu did, so that was certainly key.

On Sunday we took a little time in the afternoon to go geocaching--just with one of his kids as the rest of ours were otherwise occupado.  It was great fun & I think again bridged the gap from stranger to I hope, at least friend.  When this all began, I felt that I was this big, scary monster to his kids--and perhaps I was--but as we've integrated things more & more, it is getting easier--I just hope we are able to continue the forward momentum.  I don't think there's any going back to the scary monster--I just hope that we all continue to grow together...and perhaps grow fond of one another.

Been reading some advice columns on blending families & thus far it seems that Xing Fu & I are on the right track..I know that it won't always be easy, & it hasn't but I feel very positive about how we're doing.  My mom even said that she was impressed with our very thoughtful approach to a very challenging & certainly one of the most important aspects of our lives--she said that she felt that the way she did it was not the greatest--I would agree.  Which is why I want to make sure I don't repeat the mistakes that she made--but together, we won't.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Blending & Bending

Other choices have been whirling around recently as well--more like frustrations in some ways.  Xing Fu & I have been working to, to use the vernacular, "blend" our families more.  There are choices on how to go about doing it.  It has been a very slow process  (he'd say that it has been timed just right).  I guess my kid is better able to adjust--perhaps because he's had more years since my divorce or because his father pretty much just shoved his new family in his face without even attempting to blend gradually.  Either way, he's been in a good place regarding Xing Fu's presence in our home & lives for the past year.  I know that in the case of my own parents' divorces & subsequent remarriages, they did it all wrong. All of a sudden, there were these new people--no discussion, no gradual coming to terms--they were just there--it totally sucked & both Xing Fu & I are determined that will not happen in our situation & it really hasn't.  Good. 

Anyway, we are certainly moving forward but I sometimes think his choices of pacing things stagnates a bit.  Generally what we've done thus far has gone very well--but our opportunities bringing our separate families together have been more like events & not the normal comings & goings of life.  What I'd like to see is less of that black & white degree of separation & more of shades of gray.  Activities together for sure but what about the quiet evening at home just chilling?  If he has his kids that weekend, if there's nothing specific going on, why not spend a quiet evening together?  Some of the kids may be around & others may be out with friends--the normal flow of a weekend.  Currently, as I am the sole parent for my son, my ex being in another state, the ebb & flow of our weekend when Xing Fu does not have his kids is just like that at my house.  My son may be home, may be at a friend's house or the friend may be here while Xing Fu is with me.  Nothing special, no event.  I guess that I feel a bit isolated from him when he has the kids & would like us (my son & I ) to be more involved in some ways. 

"Also, as the biological parent, recognize that you have a bond with your child that your partner does not share. This can leave him or her feeling isolated. Be sensitive to this and try to include your partner in daily routines as much as possible. Be sure to find activities that you all enjoy doing together."  

This is an excerpt from an article from the University of Florida entitled Couples Considering a Blended Family by Kate Fogarty, Millie Ferrer, and Sara McCrea.

Kinda where I am right now--I don't want to spend an ENTIRE WEEKEND smooshed together...just a portion...I want to normalize something that has been anything but normal for about a year now--slowly, absolutely, but not stagnated.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


I am happy to report that all of the struggles to get my child into a private school have come to a positive conclusion.  He has gotten into 3 schools & now the burden is: which one.  Which one will best help him mold his future pathway to college.  Which one will nurture & support him the best--where will he begin to become the adult he will one day be?  Tough questions--of course the best place MUST have a rigorous French program--for a kid who's functionally fluent in a language--it is one of the more important aspects of our choice.  And finally, where did my son feel the most at home--did the other kids tell him how much they loved their school?  Or, as in the case of one that he visited, tell him how much they hated the school & that he should not go there.  My son will tell you that he's already made his choice--I am not so sure.  His opinion is certainly one of the deciding factors as all three schools offer a rigorous college preparatory program that I am satisfied with, but I need to be as sure as I can & so I investigate them all.  Conversations with the French teachers are the first order of business--an honest discussion as to whether or not the school can offer him a challenge in the upper grades.  He is currently taking what is equivalent to French III in high school in the 8th grade.  There's only 2 levels beyond that so where does he go after tenth grade?  And, over all--a well-rounded academic & extra-curricular setting--not just sports, sports, sports, or arts, arts, arts....a mix of both.  And the acceptance that both are important to my child.  He will never be the one always making an assist in the middle of a soccer game or always acting in the middle of a play--he loves both & that is the kind of child I am happy to have--I want that encouraged.  I must say however, that it is nice to have the choice of the three--but it certainly poses its own challenges...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Last year we were brand new & my feet never touched the ground.  This year I'm happy to say that even though my feet have found the solid earth, I am still glowing.  For Valentine's Day I made reservations at Miss Shirley's which is open usually only for breakfast & lunch but makes an exception for Valentine's.  They have a great menu & I thought it would be nice to celebrate there.  My BFF(A) & her husband joined us & we had a wonderful dinner.  Before dinner Xing Fu brought me a dozen long stemmed red roses--I am a sucker for roses--actually usually any flowers, but these were quite beautiful.  No stuffed animals in sight.  I had painted him a little picture of some sailboats which I gave to him & had pasted a copy of e.e. cumming's poem entitled "yes is a pleasant country".  That poem has always meant a lot to me--pretty sure I've posted it on the blog too.    It was a wonderful evening--we are lucky.  

Today I came across the following article:  How Do You Know When You're In Love.  I really liked what it had to say (not just about being married--again, this applies to LTRs as well) & reminded me of how I often think about Xing Fu in that way.  The downside from the article: I don't ever want to get to the point where I only tolerate him...if that ever happens, it will be time for us to part ways.  I honestly can't think of when that will happen and that is a good thing.  But I was struck by what the author had to say about the Scottish couple he stayed with--how long they'd been in love & the seemingly "little things" that kept them connected.  Saying goodbye for example--that longing, however small, to be with the one you love.  Or wanting the person you are with to be happy--seeing their joy & it then being wrapped up in your own sense of well-being & happiness.  Being in the presence of the love of others & appreciating that. 

It truly was a weekend & Valentine's Day for the record books--been a long time coming. 

"You don't know. And I don't know. You have to look for yourself. Measure carefully and you'll almost always be right."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

January Hymn

On a winter Sunday I go
To clear away the snow
And green the ground below

April all an ocean away
Is this the better way to spend the day?
Keeping the winter at bay

What were the words I meant to say before you left?
When I could see your breath lead where you were going to

Maybe I should just “let it be”
and maybe it will all come back to me
Sing oh January oh!

How I lived a childhood in snow
And all my teens in tow
Stuffed in strata of glow

Hail the winter days after dark
Wandering the gray memorial park
A fleeting beating of hearts

What were the words I meant to say before she left?
When I could see her breath lead where she was going to

Maybe I should just “let it be”
And maybe it will all come back to me
Sing oh Janu...
Oh January oh

---The Decemberists

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Groundhog's Day

On Groundhog's Day my mom & dad celebrated their 33rd anniversary.  (Yeah, dad is stepfather but he essentially raised us so he's more like my dad in everything except blood.But that's not what this post's about.  On that day I asked my mom about their longevity.  I asked her if there was one thing she could say that contributed most to the success of her marriage what would it be?  Her response did not surprise fact, a lot of what I've been reading lately about successful relationships (marriages), has what she said and it is stated rather prominently in these articles.  She said that she & dad share most activities together--they love to do the same things: sailing, traveling, golf, etc.  That their level of energy is very similar.  And it's true--when I think back over the years, mom & dad have always been together doing something.  The doing together.  In fact, my mom had great role models too--my grandparents who were married forever (72 years!), did everything together as well.  I'm pretty sure that my grandmother was not quite the fan of sailing as my very obsessed grandfather was (hmmm..I wonder where I got that gene?), but almost every weekend until she wasn't able, she was out there with him on the Chesapeake, often sitting, baking in the no-wind doldrums of a bay summer, dishing out a full-course luncheon.  Or golfing, or traveling, or the many other activities that they did well into their 80s--together.  They saw the world together--made sure that their grandchildren learned to want to try new things & took us everywhere--but usually it was the both of them--

I think that's rare now & perhaps that's why many folks have that disconnect after a while--they begin to lead very separate lives.  One goes & sits on the sofa watching TV when the other wants to go out & go to see music--and so the pattern begins.  The destruction of the partnership--the separation. Of course having children creates a way different paradigm but after the kids are old enough to have their own friends & arrange their own "play dates", well, then you have one another again.  Do you embrace it or are your lives so separate that you can't retrieve the togetherness anymore?  

My ex-husband & I were completely different--he, so NOT a sailor, loved to be on the computer ALL OF THE TIME & me, I just wanted to be out in the world--disconnect.  At first I enjoyed playing computer games with him but then my true nature took over--I wanted to be out in the mix of the world not sitting & watching it go by while playing computer games or chatting online with people thousands of miles away that I'd probably never meet in person.  It just never got any better & we could not retrieve our togetherness & after a while we just didn't try anymore.  I think that happens a lot--we didn't really share the same activities when we got down to it.  All I wanted to do was get out & sail as much as possible & he had NO interest in anything water-related--even the beach held little excitement for him.  When the family would go to the beach, we all have a collective mental image of him sitting in the living room with his feet propped on the coffee table, reading a magazine for most of the time while we went off to the beach or walk in the town, or go to any other number of activities.  For someone else, I assume his current wife, it is OK, for me, no way & thus contributed to the downfall of our relationship.

Yeah, you don't do everything together--my BFFs' husbands join us occasionally for a wine tasting, & they certainly do not go shopping with us, but many, many other activities are done together.   I look at my friend's marriages & I also see them doing activities together--having been married for almost 20 years--and their's are successful as well.  There are the bumps to be sure, but, they are out there--skiing, seeing music, camping, whatever--but it is together. 

Ok, so what this all boils down to is of course how it relates to the relationship that I'm building--where do we sit on this?  I have mentioned before that Xing Fu & I have a lot in common--we both love being out & about--last weekend seeing Dr. Dog at the 9:30 Club & enjoying Ethiopian at Etete right before the show, case in point.  But one of the biggies, one that a friend of ours once said & I've been saying for a while myself is "Never date a non-sailor."  We spend our summers sailing and our winters thinking & talking about itIt is part of that common ground--the activities that we do & what we love to do together--I think that bodes well for our future, together.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Walk Down Memory Lane

I received an email this afternoon from a guy from one of the dating sites I thought I'd discontinued a long, long time ago.  (I went back & made sure to cancel the subscription.)  All of a sudden I was transported back over a year ago to my continued online quest for no more frogs.

"OK, so I appreciated the honesty, charm and smarts of your profile -- rare in the online world. As I read it, I kept nodding my head "Yes" so much, that now I have a neck ache. (You'll be hearing from my attorney.)" 

He seemed like a nice, earnest guy--called my desire for a man between the ages of 40-55, "quaint" (he is 59), & seemed rather literate--possibly someone I may have been interested in at the time (but the age difference does give me some pause).  While it was nice to receive the email, I am grateful that I am no longer "on the market" & sent Xing Fu an email telling him as much.    So strange to think about it--in such a different place--now more worried about communicating thoughtfully & enjoying even the mundane in our relationship.  Certainly no more negative alone on Valentine's Day sentiments.  Just don't give me any stuffed animals.