Thursday, November 29, 2012

Police Action

As is often the case, Xing Fu & I went to Annapolis last night. To see music--specifically, Graham Parker & the Rumour.  Good show--been a while since I listened to his stuff--like mid-80's.  We had a very nice evening & even Duke pulled out a win from Ohio State.  But that is only a very small fraction of this story....

When Xing Fu & I have stuff to do mid-week in the evening, I often take light rail to to meet him.  Saves me gas & the headache of the Baltimore Beltway & it is nice to sit & read my Nook uninterrupted instead of cursing out a bunch of stoopid drivers.  So I'm sitting there reading a good book, minding my own business, other than to hand the MTA transit police my ticket to show that yes, I did indeed purchase a light rail ticket.  All of a sudden I get a text from my son who is at home for the evening hopefully cooking himself dinner & doing his homework.  He is 15 & has been home by himself many, many times before.  The text reads, "Mom, I think we were just robbed."  OK, my heart just started beating out of my chest & I'm sure that my eyes were also bulging out of my head because what the flip can I do to help him stuck on the light rail at Lexington Mkt in the middle of downtown Baltimore??? I call him immediately & he proceeds to explain to me, rather calmly I might add, that he was downstairs in the house when he heard the front door crash open & a lot of running & someone (s)? clanging (his word) around upstairs making a lot of noise & then hearing them loudly run out, slamming the door behind them. He also explained that he yelled "HELLO!" numerous times & heard no response.  I immediately tell him to stay put downstairs because even though he thinks that they left, you never know.  I also told him to call the police & tell them to call him when they are outside the front door.  I then call Xing Fu to tell him what happened & thankfully he picks up right away. Xing Fu seemed far less concerned & asked me what could the police do if we were broken into?  I said, at least they could make sure that my kid was ok & that there wasn't anybody in the house & take a report of anything missing.  At this point I'm almost to my destination & say that I need to call back my kid & make sure he's ok.  He says that he's a little in shock & kinda upset but dealing.  I tell him to hang tight until the police arrive & then my call-waiting beeps.  All of this is happening on the light rail in front of about 20 other folk who I'm sure are enjoying the schadenfreude drama being played out in front of their eyes--poor mother with a house that was just robbed & a teenage son stuck in his room until the police arrive, which, since it's just a home invasion & they do not suspect that the perpetrators are still inside, so it is not considered a top of the list emergency & therefore they are not in any real hurry to get to our residence. And because my kid sounds like an adult man on the phone, the police don't know that he's still a kid & wouldn't be in any hurry anyway....

When I pick up the call, it is Xing Fu.  He tells me that he thinks it was his daughter who came in because she needed her work uniform.  She had apparently texted him earlier in the afternoon that she was dropping by.  Um, OK, that's fine, but HOW THE FREAK IS MY SON SUPPOSED TO KNOW THIS???? Especially if he called upstairs & no one answered & that Xing Fu's daughter apparently made a hell of a lot of noise when she did come in.  I might be a bit alarmed myself....lesson learned in blended family how-to manual:

If someone is going to drop by unexpectedly or unplanned, and it is certainly fine to do so, please make sure that the folks who might be in the house already know that they are coming. We can then avoid calling the police to our door & otherwise setting the neighbors' tongues wagging....

Monday, November 26, 2012


not sure why this boat is keel-less
It was busy of course.  The holiday that is.  Sis in from Chi-town with her family & only a little time to see her--just her.  I wish sometimes that she'd secretly fly in & we'd have a few days together but that is just never the case. Holidays can be difficult that way but I'm thankful for the little time that we did actually have.  But the theme to this blog post is leftovers--and true to the word, I felt that our time together was kinda the leftovers--that's why I wish she'd sneak into Baltimore to visit--like earlier in the summer when we spent an ENTIRE day together in Hampden.  We had soooo much fun--just she & I.  

True to our seemingly new tradition (3 years old), Xing Fu & I went geocaching on Thanksgiving day.  This year it was just splendid out & we went to Cromwell Valley Park & hiked up into the forest to find caches.  This time we found this guy guarding the hidden treasure:
 Xing Fu almost stepped on him as we dug out the hidden cache.  I'd never been to this park & I look forward to returning--there are a ton of geocaches in there & we only had time for three & it didn't help that my cell phone died just as we were trying to use the compass to locate the fourth. My only complaint with geocaching is that sometimes when there are lists of cool stuff inside, there's really just junky leftovers (heh, that theme) & nothing cool to trade for.  I wish folks would put good stuff inside--that's the whole point--to find treasure. But regardless, it was great getting out & traipsing around in the woods for a few hours with my best friend.

The last leftover, in keeping with the theme, was The Leftover Bowl.  Take a gander at the picture at the top of the post--that was us a few times during Saturday's race for the leftover CBYRA (Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association) prizes that were unclaimed at the end of the season--hence, the leftovers....heh! Crazy, windy, cold, race but exhilarating on many levels.  We were reefed in on main & with our number three jib & still we were way over-powered at some points during the race--kinda scary, cool when you look straight down into the water while hanging on for dear life as about a half a foot to a foot of the leeward side of the boat is gunwales in. And at one point we avoided a near collision as another boat tacked right on top of us--as I looked at that boat, which was seriously knocked down, I saw the crew beginning a scary slide toward the water & our rigging near missing theirs as their mast, etc., was almost parallel with the water.  Like I said, my heart was in my mouth for a few minutes at that point.  But we managed to keep our wits about us & finished the race with a few gray hairs more than we wanted, but enjoyed the ride nonetheless.  Of course the chili party after the race at the new EYC clubhouse certainly helped.  Yum!  It was great getting together with some good friends that I've enjoyed racing with for what could be my last race of the year.  But I could be speaking too soon as last year I raced on a J/80 in December so who knows!  As for this one being the last--what a way to finish the season--with a bang! Or almost bang....

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Switching Shoes

Here I sit with about 5 different story lines for this post revving through my head.  It's nice to have ideas but I'm just not sure which one to go with.  I guess I can start with the cool stuff--I hadn't posted about this before but I was Top 5 in both of my categories for the Mobbies.  How cool is that?  Unless all two of my readers voted for me everyday & that's what I'm seeing.  Or, I actually have a little readership & that there are people out there who like what I have to say--or laugh uproariously at my stoopidity....regardless, thanks to everyone who did vote for this blog to catapult me from anonymity right up to Number 4 in Lifestyle out of 34 & 5th out of 36 in the Personal.  Awesome!! 

OK, so as usual, what started off as a step in the right direction invariably got flushed down the "terlit" by the end of the weekend.  Eventually, we need to figure this thing out--that it's tough to be on eggshells all weekend; afraid of making a squeak, let alone allowing some steam to be seen coming out my ears.  And that communication just breaks down because I get strident & he gets passive-aggressive & I end up looking like a dope; bad person in front of his youngest.  I so do not want her to have that kind of information to store away & share with sisters & BM so as to provide them with the appropriate schadenfreude.  It is embarrassing & by the time I realize that I've been played the ultimate in passive-aggressive non-communication, I'm in the thick of it.  All of this because I needed affirmation that I'm important to him even when his darlings are inhabiting our house for the weekend.  Don't ask why, please just appreciate that it is needed.  And so, I've done a little research & this is what I came up with:

Put yourself in your partner’s shoes. By understanding their background (and baggage)you develop a sense of why they feel the way they feel. This understanding opens up the opportunity to validate your partner’s feelings by saying, “I understand why you feel that way. I understand why that would hurt or upset you, and I apologize.” Sometimes, oftentimes, our partners just want to be heard and/or understood. I think this is one of guys’ most common communication mistakes. Women want acknowledgement, guys want to prove their point – which makes men oblivious to the obvious – ladies want that emotional validation. (Marcus Osborne-Your Tango)

Putting yourself in the other's shoes is very difficult but perhaps eventually we will be able to do it.  All I can say is that in this instance I needed some affirmation & I didn't get it.  It happens a lot when the skids are around & it makes me less likely to be an understanding & more resilient GF--perhaps Xing Fu may want to put himself in my shoes in this particular circumstance & just do it. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

It All Started With The Who

I am a Who fan.  I have been for, like, ever.  On Tuesday one of the coolest things happened, besides having awesome seats to see The Who, was that I shared the experience with my boy, who I also turned into a huge Who fan & Xing Fu, who being another huge Who fan, was how we started it all.  But first things first.  I must give credit to my 6th grade best friend's uncle who turned me on to the Who when I was an impressionable lass of 12.  Way back in '79.....

Now, I also had a crush on him--he was only 15 himself (don't ask about the uncle thingy...but it's true, he was my 12 year old best friend's uncle).  And I definitely worshiped the ground he walked on, puka beads & all (it was the 70s, yeesh!).  He had this cool attic "tree house" that he'd rigged for stereo sound & it was there, in the throes of pre-teen lust, that I fell for the Who (and the uncle too). He played me Pinball Wizard in its entirety, & that was it...done.  I was a convert & from there, well, My Generation, I Can't Explain, Quadrophenia.....followed until I had amassed every single Who album known to man & some bootlegs too.  The uncle was soon out of the picture but my love for the band that he also loved remains.  To this day, I still think that The Who is my favorite band in the world, even if Pete & Roger are close to my mom's age & can't quite windmill as well, twirl the microphone 10 feet in the air, & don't destroy guitars what, their voices are surprisingly still pretty damn good. 

Cut to present time, or about 4 years ago.  I had just started sailing again & was bringing my son with me for Wednesday races on the West River.  If you go back in the blog archives there's a lot about getting back into racing down there. Anyway, after racing, the crew would have dinner together & one evening I sat near one of the guys who appeared to be around my age--turns out that it was Xing Fu but at the time, he was just another dude that I sailed with.  We got to talking & found out that we were around the same age & had kids & after a bit of that kind of exchange we also found out that we both loved The Who. We talked about which albums we liked & continued to have a great convo about music.  And from that point on, we would sit at the table together after racing & talk about music.  He became my "Music Buddy" & then, we are almost 3 years later going to see the band that started it all before we were an us.  WOO WHO!

Monday, November 12, 2012


As most of my two readers knows, I rarely write much about my work on this blog--this is a forum mostly about my personal trials & tribulations.  But I wanted to take the time to talk a little about where I work & the children I work for.  I work in a Baltimore City elementary school.  It is a small school & we often fly way under the radar (we actually like it that way) & rarely get noticed. Like most of the schools in the city, we are entirely a Title One school--many children come from poorer households & we do what we can to supplement the community.  For example, we have a food bank, & we have many organizations who volunteer their time to help our students in the classroom & outside in the community.  

Every year our school hosts a Winterfest for the students & their families & this year is no exception except that one of our major donors is unable to help in the manner that they used to.  In the past they donated toys, books, games, & craft kits so that every child would go home with a present.  In fact, they donated Santa Claus too.  But this year, with the economy the way it is, the organization is just unable to do as much.  A few of us on staff have posted on facebook the following:

"Hoping some of you may be able to help. I work in an amazing school in Baltimore City. Every year we have a Winterfest where kids have fun, food and games. Every child is given a gift to ensure they get at least one gift for the holidays. However, this year the agency that sponsors us is under financial constraints. If anyone is able to buy a gift or gifts please message me. Thank you." 

Within minutes I received numerous offers to help.  I am grateful that many of my friends & family are able to help the students in my school even when some of these folks are facing the same financial constraints.  Usually, I am rather disenfranchised with the whole holiday thingy which appears to begin these days the day after Halloween with ads already for Black Friday.  The consumerism just makes me quite ill.  This year, seeing the response that I have so far received, I am taken with most folks' generosity & willingness to step right up to the plate. Thank you to all of you who are willing to help my school's children receive a gift for the holidays.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Space Between

Take my hand
'cause we're walking out of here
Right out of here
Is all we need dear
The space between
What's wrong and right

Is where you'll find me hiding waiting for you

The space between your heart and mind
Is the space we'll fill with time
The space between
The tears we cry is the laughter keeps us coming back for more

--Dave Matthews The Space Between

I've read a lot of interpretations of this song but I always come back to the evening that Xing Fu & I were alone in the house, sitting on the couch listening to this song after we'd had a bit of a stubborn, line-in-the-sand struggle. And both of us are very stubborn people.  The lines that Xing Fu said to me were the most meaningful: "The space between your heart & mind is the space we'll fill with time."  Time--we talk about it a lot--how to get our families to a place where we are comfortable & have love for one another.  Anyone who tells you that they loved their stepfamily from the start is delusional at best.  And also, like a new marriage, we need time to fill our relationship with the laughter as we negotiate our differences.  Even if we have our stubborn differences, and the children will witness them, we are modeling how to resolve them as a couple.  We both have failed that before & the last thing we want to do is fail again.  We want our children to see that two adults can have a positive and lasting relationship--filling the space between with joy, love, & even tears & pain.  That's life. I came across this article on yahoo yesterday that has a lot of good pointers towards building a lasting marriage:

I showed it to Xing Fu & he liked them all but especially the part at the end regarding the little things: "What really matters is all the small stuff that adds up, such as being there for each other when one needs to vent, or noticing when he needs a hug, or making him his favorite meal just because. 'It's also giving up on the idea that you have to feel in love all the time. Marriage is about trust and commitment and knowing each other,' says Wilk. 'That's what love is.'" Time will get us there.

***Now, everyone take the time to exercise your right as a US citizen & go vote!  And if you are in Maryland (and I usually don't endorse any political viewpoint but I feel VERY strongly about this one) Vote for Question 6--let love marry!!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Rookie Mistake

“Stepfamilies, too, fall victim TO THEIR OWN VERSION OF PARTISAN POLITICS. By virtue of coming into a family once formed and since dissolved, a stepmother, in many ways, has the odds stacked against her.”  ~STACY SPENCER THOMPSON  Stepmom Magazine

Ok, so it seems that I’ve made a mistake.  Here’s the story:  My BFF(J) plays guitar with a few folks & is performing at a Woodhall Winery  tonight.  On Tuesday she asked if Xing Fu & I wanted to go see her performance at the winery.  I told her that I’d find out what was going on this weekend & get back to her—I knew that Xing Fu’s daughters would be there this weekend but one would be away & the other has a very active social life so I was pretty sure she’d be out with her friends too & we wouldn’t see her for a good portion of the weekend as usual.  I came home on Tuesday after picking my kid up with the skids already there & said to Xing Fu that BFF(J) wanted us to come see her play Friday night.  Somehow, that translated to one step daughter as, “Get lost, we don’t want you around on Friday!”  Not sure how that happened exactly because that certainly wasn’t my message or intent.  It was more like, “I know that usually everyone is doing something Friday night—out with friends, etc., so why don’t we go support my BFF(J) at a cool winery?”  So my assumption was incorrect, but usually it is true—most of the offspring have something planned & often Xing Fu & I are alone on Friday evenings. So now I feel like an evil stepmother & I guess they think that I don’t want them around—not true.  I suppose from now on I need to not make innocent announcements out loud in front of the skids in case they get offended & skew my intent.  If this were a normal family dynamic, it would never have mattered.  When will I learn?  It wasn’t intentional but I guess I’m punished now.  When you look outside in the backyard—that’s me in the doghouse.  Bad stepmother!  Bad!