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Saturday was a late-getting-started day. We slept until about 11:00, then called Scooter at work to see if he still wanted to go to the range before VJ's luau. He said sure, so I ran to The Dreaded (Mini) Mart of Wal for ammo while +Kyle got the guns ready.

At the store, a couple of guys probably in their 40s - one of them had a kid around age 10 - were getting fishing supplies or something. I was at the counter rattling off the different ammunition sizes I needed to the clerk, and one of the guys asked if I was going into the military. ^_^ It struck me as funny, but I just smiled and said that no, I was going to the range for some target practice.

Scooter has just moved in with Rick, as the dorms at MSC have been sold to the Chickasaw Nation for some other use, and the new dorms haven't been built yet. Rick lives upstairs at the funeral home in Tish. It's a *very* strange arrangement, but it sounds like a sweet deal - $250 a month, all bills paid! Rick lucked out for sure, and I guess they're splitting the rent now.

Anyway, we got to their apartment around 12:30, and he had basically decided not to go. His car had been overheating after the shortest of drives (like from Rick's to the Shamrock station and back...maybe a mile round-trip.) So he wanted to look at that, and was in rather an unpleasant mood from our conversation the previous evening. He'd been late to work - a first for him - and was just not really in the mood.

+Kyle was pretty distraught over this, as the disagreement & upset was his fault. He kept pushing last night, instead of letting the issue drop, and pushed way too far. We stood around for a little while just talking, and +Kyle apologized for being so paranoid, for not truly forgiving, being so accusatory, and the rest.

The other night we were talking, and he actually gave me credit for being able to think of a scheme to get him to end our marriage on his terms since he wouldn't do it on mine. Something about me being so ready to try to work things out as a way to throw him off guard so I could leave later or something. Short of being annoyed with his paranoia, I was flattered that he thought I was clever enough to come up with something that devious. I'm just not.

After much coercion, and finding that the Corsica was excessively low on water, we finally got Scooter to come with us to VJ's house to make an appearance and then leave at his discretion, as she'd said it was a 'come and go as you please' thing. By now, it was 2:00, so we told him that after we decided to leave, we'd come back by Rick's and see if he felt any better, and we could go to Western Inn or even the range, since it doesn't get dark until late.

So...VJ's luau was a lot of fun. I didn't know who all to expect, but besides the three of us, it was her family. She had the backyard set up with chairs, tables, and an inflatable water slide for the kids who would ostensibly be coming over later to play with Lynze. She also had one of those quick set up pools - the ring around the top is inflatable, and I guess it just fills itself. They're nifty, and work well! They are only just deep enough to swim a very little bit in, but one could get a pretty good whirlpool going if they tried. Oh! Must not forget, she had a slip 'n' slide type thing, too.

We all sat around and chatted about nothing in particular over summer sausage, fruits, veggies and soda. Oh wait, it's Oklahoma, so the word is 'pop'. My bad. ;) Anyway, VJ plans to go low carb, see about joining the reserves (I think?) when she gets her weight down, and I think she mentioned a career, but for the life of me, I can't remember it. I'm so proud of her, and it sounds like she has her plans figured out nicely. Brian seems to be supportive, so that's cool. ^_^

VJ had some cute games, too. One was a deal where you lay this ring on the ground, then try to flip these jellyfish-looking things into the ring. Problem is, they bounce erratically when they hit the ground, so the trick is to get them high enough where they bounce more controllably. We all eventually got the hang of that one. Scooter left after about an hour, which was longer than we'd expected, but he seemed to have an enjoyable time, so we thanked him for letting us kidnap him.

Lynze had played in the pool already, and been out, but wanted back in, so I went in to get changed, and we played for awhile. It was a warm day, and the water was a good temperature - just slightly chilly, but not enough to be unpleasant. We had fun doing that, and when she wanted out, she, VJ and I all played with the slip 'n' slide. I don't remember it hurting that much when I was 10. LOL! It was fun, though. Lynze and I played in the little slide thing, too, but I didn't slide. It had a small pool, so we just sat in it and tried to hook these inflatable rings on the pokey-things in front. It was rather silly, but fun, anyway. Lynze is a trip.

VJ also had two badminton raquets and birdies. Lynze wanted to play that, but she's 5, so she swings wildly most of the time. Eventually, she figured out that she could swing more gently, and then I had a chance of hitting it back to her. We got it going back and forth three or four times, then she got excited and whacked it across the yard. LOL! Ah well. Eventually, one of her swings resulted in the pink birdie landing on the roof, well out of reach.

After more noshing, chatting, and visiting, +Kyle and I left around 4:30.

As promised, we went back up to Rick's to see if Scooter wanted to go out to the range. We really didn't expect him to, but had offered and wanted to make good as this would be the last chance. Surprisingly, he did! So we went and shot for about two hours. He's not comfortable around guns, but did pretty well, considering, and really seemed to enjoy the events. We all tried out +Kyle's sniper rifle, which isn't sighted properly, so none of us hit what we wanted to, or even got very close, but it was still fun. Of the semiautomatic pistols, I can't decide if I like the 1911 or the Taurus better. I didn't shoot the .22 this time, but we all giggled about the toy-like ping it makes when compared to the bigger stuff.

The best part was when we got out the shotgun. +Kyle put a new recoil pad on it, and it is SO nice to shoot now! Before, it would bruise your shoulder because there was no absorption. Now the kick is anything but unpleasant, and of course that BOOM! is satisfying. We all took a shot with it, and then I rounded up some cans and bottles that other people had left, laying them out on the table. (Actually, I had done this earlier to practice with the 9 mil, but I only hit one of them - at the bottom, and it went FLYING up and back about 10-15 feet. That was just funny.

But back to the shotgun! We had those cans and things lined up, and I took the first shot, and caused serious harm to a Gatorade bottle. We all did, and finally we bunched them all up, and Scooter took a shot, and they arced up and back in perfect Hollywood fashion at 10:00, 11:00, 1:00 and 2:00. It wouldn't have been a more beautiful shot if it had been planned. I really wish we'd had video of it.

The containers were long past being useful by this point, the cans shredded, and the bottles even moreso.

It was around 7:00 by this time, and we decided to pack it in and go, sans coffee break, as Scooter was pretty well exhausted. I think he told us later that he crashed around 9:00.

Don't remember much of the rest of the evening. It was probably spent in much talk, and likely some DDR, as well.
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I'm really looking forward to Friday. VJ & I will probably wind up going to dinner, a movie, and then dancing 'til the wee hours at a place she mentioned last time we went out - Ten Buck Two. I've since learned from Scooter that he and a lot of the peeps from MSC go there (and other places), although they usually go out on Thursday nights. Some of them *may* be there Friday though, so maybe we'll all get to party. Even if not, VJ & I always have fun.

I've been talking with Scooter a bit over the past few days. He's fun; we mostly just goof off and talk about music & anime, although he's expressed interest in learning Japanese. I'm putting together a crash course, just in case. :P He speaks a little German, too, which is fun. I kinda miss Doitsugo, but I need to concentrate on actually finishing this little language project. I'd like to learn SOMETHING completely, at least once. LOL

I'm surprised and relieved to find that I'm not feeling anything dangerous. (I daresay the unknown was far more dangerous than the known.) I'd feared that this new attention might draw me away from +Kyle, but in fact we've been doing really well since getting over Tuesday night. This is of course no reason not to be vigilant, but it's good to know. I usually have a pretty good feel for these things. Scooter has expressed nothing but friendly concern toward me, so I'm not worried about him - but we all know how easily I get attached to people who give me positive reinforcement. So yeah. If I feel like things start going in the wrong direction, it'll have to be 'sayonara'. I don't like that, but +Kyle and I have come too far over the past few months to let even a friendship interfere.

Thankfully, at this point, I don't forsee a problem.

Well!

Feb. 21st, 2004 05:21 am
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Hey, I got more than 4 hours' sleep this morning! Can't sleep any longer now, but the neighbors are playing their music too loud again, anyway, so...*shrug*

I've been trying to decide what to do next weekend while +Kyle's out of town. I think I'll take a couple of the instant cameras around and take pictures of all the 'Crappe Emporiums' in the area. We've talked about doing it since we moved here, but with only a couple of months left, it must be done.

I also need to take some boxes of stuff to Goodwill or Salvation Army. Shall I go to Durant or Ardmore?

I'm starting to get scared about this whole moving back thing. I guess the reality of it is setting in. We have been here for so long, and feeling trapped for so long that it seemed we'd never escape. Now that the days are getting slimmer, I find myself being afraid to make that journey home. Do I want to live in Oklahoma for the rest of my life? God forbid! But now I have ties here, too.

Someone told me the other day they thought it was interesting that we were making all these friends suddenly, now that we didn't really *need* them anymore. It saddens me, because now it's going to be hard to leave, instead of being a completely joyful release and escape. I love VJ to death, and since I've been getting closer with friends from MSC, there are more people I don't want to leave. I have friends at work, too. I think I'm going to miss Jon the most, and vice versa. Every time my leaving comes up, he gets this sad little puppy dog sound to his voice, and says, "I don't want you to go." We have so much fun cutting up at work, and share music all the time, etc. Kindred spirits.

It's time to capture some memories. There's not much time left for it.



Speaking of capturing memories, I finally found the disc of pictures from Christmas! WAI! This is a good example of the *subtle* "goth" look that I usually wear. It's not that bad, now, is it? I'm especially proud of the katana picture. I couldn't have gotten a better shot if I'd tried.
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Well!

We got an unexpected phone call about 4:30. VJ called and asked if we wanted to go out with them in about 45 minutes. We had talked last weekend about getting together for Valentine's Day, but neither one had managed to actually call the other to make plans.


When we woke up to snow this morning, it looked like it was going to get nastier throughout the day, so I didn't bother to call and ask. LOL! By 3:00, things were clearing up, although the roads were never bad. Nonetheless, you get these hicks who freak out and think you need snow tires to drive on wet roads just because there's snow piled up on the sides. But I digress...


So of course we said, "Yes, we'd love to!" and got ready. This would be the first time that +Kyle met her husband, Brian. I've known all along that they would probably get along well, because they seem to have similar personalities, but Brian has always struck me as this stoic fellow. He's never said more than a few words when I've met him before, although he'd shown real concern when he found out I'd been hit by one of the Madill police last October.

They got here around 5:30, and VJ met Washu. She's actually terrified of dogs, but hides it extremely well. Mutt jumped on her, so we need to break out the collar again and get her out of that habit. She calmed down pretty well over Christmas, being socialized all week, but she hasn't had that since we got back.

We had to decide where to go. VJ had asked +Kyle to decide where we'd be eating, but he didn't get it, so they asked if we'd been to Rick's Red Onion Grill yet. We had, and love it, so we went there. It was divine, as always. I'm going to have to get one of the steak dinners next time, because the soup it comes with was realllllly good.

We sat and chatted. First VJ & I took up much of the conversation, and we discussed everything from John Nash and his Game Theory, to Lynze's latest faux pas, to Muppet getting hit by a car, to her continually bringing up wanting to take pictures of me. We discussed at length the night we had at Jugg's last weekend. +Kyle was asleep when I got home, and I had given him a condensed version of the evening over the phone, since I was going to be home in a minute, anyway, not thinking he would *be* asleep already. He never asked anything else about it, so I never thought to tell him everything, like the whole lesbian thing. Then again, I hadn't heard either that Ricky had told that guy off rather loudly that, "No, they aren't lesbians, they're married" and embarassed the fool out of him. LOL!

Anyway, VJ decided it was time to let the boys talk awhile and "shut her yap". She said, "Brian, tell one of your funny cop stories," and it was all over. The boy can talk! LOL! He told us about a chase that went down a couple months ago, where the moron trying to escape went 120 miles on the back roads in Tishomingo. Johnson County doesn't keep the roads out there in very good condition anyway...much less the *back* roads. Anyway, the guy who was leading the pursuit had the whole thing on tape, and his dog is howling in the back along with the siren, and all of a sudden, he hits one of the *deep* potholes, and when he came out of it, the car went flying. I guess you really have to hear Brian tell it, but it was funny. :P He also told us about the narcotics dogs, etc. +Kyle and Brian also sat and talked at length about guns in general. Brian's a cop, of course, so he has a need for weapons, and also seems to enjoy them as a hobby. They really hit it off, so I'm glad we got together. It's a real shame we never got together sooner, but we've agreed that we must spend many fun evenings together over the next four months.

We all sat in the restaurant drinking our sweet tea, Dr. Pepper, unsweetened tea, and Sprite for awhile. VJ ordered some chocolate fudge ice cream brownie thing after awhile, then coffee. Then +Kyle decided he wanted to try the cheesecake after all, and we both thought coffee sounded like a good idea. He's a much bigger coffee drinker than I am, but I admitted that working at the Record has driven me to drink. Everyone got a good laugh out of that. ^_^

We sat at the restaurant just talking for *hours*. It was so much fun. The manager came out, and they offered us a complimentary "Happy Valentine's Day" cake, which was pretty good. I had 2 or 3 small bites of it, but stopped when I felt my body going, "Ooh! Sugar! More!" :P Stupid body.

As we were leaving, we talked with the owner a minute and, well, apologized for just sitting there so long, and thanked her for being so great. She assured us that she *loves* it when her customers sit and chat, because it means they feel at home, and that means they come back. ^_^ We assured her we'd be back. She also told me and VJ to get a rose on our way out, because they had a vase full of them for the couples who came in. ^_^ I have put the two from +Kyle into borax in hopes of preserving them, so I still have a pretty thing to smell. I am, in fact, holding it as I type. ^_^ I love the smell of roses.

I told VJ to expect to go out on the 27th, and that I need to stay out like all night, since +Kyle will be out of town. He's got another Student Government seminar to go to like the one he had in September, and I don't want to be up all night crying alone again. She was all for the idea, and we figure we can go see a movie, maybe have a couple of drinks, go dancing, shoot some pool, etc. etc. If it comes down to it, we can rent some movies and stay in. She did mention that she knows the lady who has the keys to the student room at MSC, so we may have a place to ourselves to shoot pool if we so desire, although we may have to be careful how late we stay. I hope that works out.

We did all decide that our next outing shall be at the Durant Bowling Center. VJ isn't much for bowling, because she has a bad shoulder. I enjoy bowling, but I'm worse at it than I am at pool, so I don't go for it so much, either. +Kyle loves bowling, but we never get to go. He and I plan to take *them* out for dinner next time, though. We figure Simple Simon's Pizza and an evening of games will be most entertaining.

I really love these guys. I'm going to miss them both terribly when we move.
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Well, DUH, you went out with VJ, of course it was fun. :P

Many of you will be glad to know that the square dancing thing didn't work out, after all.

VJ was running behind, so we didn't get out until 7:45, instead of 6:30. No biggie. :) She looked so cute tonight, with a blue velveteen turtleneck kind of thing, and sexy, wavy, hippie-dread hair, which I subsequently learned was a wig. She chopped her hair a la Susan Powter (not quite that short, but you get the idea), and "broke her mother's heart." Like Edith's hair is *so* much longer than VJ's is now. LOL!

She had to get gasoline, then we stopped for gum and she wanted some Dove chocolate, since she figures she won't get anything for Valentine's Day. Poor dear. (Not that I will, either, mind you.)

We drove out to the dance hall, but it was dead. No lights, no cars, no sign of life. (I almost said no sign of intelligent life, but that would have been a slam on us for going out there in the first place. :P) It was nearing 8:45 by now.

Naturally we talked this whole time - how's life, etc. Brian wants out of Tishomingo, yet he brought her the keys to a different house *in* Tish. Go figure. I told her things were mostly going pretty well right now. She did mention that, when something you've waited on a long time is finally on the horizon, it gets harder to wait on it. I'd noticed that trend lately, and affirmed it.

"...So what do you want to do instead?" We never have a plan B, so we always end up having an adventure. We circled around, came back through Madill, and opted to go to Kingston. If we couldn't find anything to do there, there would be Durant, and if we got really desperate, Sherman, although it was already getting late to be going all the way to Texas.

She's always wanted to check out Carlotta's Cantina. It's supposed to be a nice restaurant with one of the biggest dance floors in the area. We stopped for directions, only to find out that it probably won't open until the end of April, because they close down for the winter months. Maybe if it does reopen in time, we can hit it one night.

"The Lodge!", she exclaimed, while remembering an old flame she's reminded of every time she goes there. He was the love of her life in seventh grade, and they went out a couple of times as they got older, but nothing ever really came of it. One night (I guess they were in high school or college by now), he came to her on the stairs at the Lodge, and confessed his love. She was convinced he was drunk, so she paid it no heed. When she saw him again six years later, he asked, "Do you ever think about what I said that night on the stairs?"

"You remember what you said that night? I thought you were drunk."

"I hadn't had a single drink. I meant every word."

"Oh..."

She laughs about it now, but ouch... You miss 100% of the chances you never take.

Anyway, the Lodge was dead as well. The bar was completely dark. There was one room with a pool table, but we decided to keep looking for the time being - she really wanted to dance. Yeesh, on a Friday night, you'd think there would have been something to do, even in a hick town. We wandered around inside the Lodge for a few minutes. There're a lot of historical documents on display, and the architecture is really pretty. VJ said the Kingston Alumni has a public dance there every spring, and it's standing-room only. I think it happens at the end of May, though, so I'll probably miss it.

We pondered whether Art's would still be open this late, but decided it must have been closing around 9:30 the last time we went. That had actually been her first thought when we found out the dance hall was closed - I told her, "First thought, correct thought," and we decided that we'll just go there first next time we go out, period, the end. :P

Running out of ideas, we opted for debauchery. She's been threatening to take me to a casino ever since we met, so we went to the new one between Kingston and Durant. We each spent $5 on penny and nickel slots, which was amusing. We both had some small wins, but did wind up spending the whole $5 by the end of it. I was ahead by about 2 cents once. LOL! I guess we stayed about half an hour or so. It was actually rather depressing, despite the pretty lights and sounds. So many people gambling on hope.

Shelly was there, so we chatted a minute. She's loving school. VJ informed her that we were in the process of further corrupting me.

About 10:15, VJ decided she needed chicken, largely because there's a KFC built onto the casino/gas station/smoke shop. We were amused by each other's reactions to having gambled. Now, she's done it before on several occasions, and admitted to having the fleeting thought about taking her change from dinner and playing some more. I felt absolutely no need or desire to go back. It's fun for a little while, and I can see how the lights and sounds could mesmerize people...but not for *hours*. I guess my attention span is just too short for...ooh, look! Shiny things!

All in all, casinos are sad places. +Kyle and I still want to go to Vegas someday, but I don't forsee becoming Gamblor.

So now it was nearly 11:00. We decided to check out the new club in Kingston, Juggs. They ran an advert in the paper, and I mentioned that Wednesday was free pool night. Obviously this was not Friday, but we thought we'd see what their lineup was.

Wednesday: Free Pool
Thursday: Ladies Night
Friday: Just Party
Saturday: Karaoke

We decided to check it out and deem whether or not it would be worth coming back on a Wednesday or Saturday. It's actually not a terrible place, inside. For it's size, it looks like it could be pretty seedy, but it's clean inside (even the restrooms!), and the managers are really nice, and run a tight ship. There are pool tables, a small dance floor, a stage for a band and karaoke, and a section with tables and chairs. We sat down, and were subsequently carded. The lady returned our licenses backwards - VJ got mine and vice versa. I'm glad we caught it before, oh, say, the next time I need to show my license at the bank or something. :P

We sat for a short while, then decided to wait on a pool table. We both suck royally at it, so we knew it would be a good time. We asked the proprieter, a sixty-something looking woman, what proper pool ettiquette was. She said to put our quarters on the table, and when the game was finished, it would be our turn. Then the guys who were playing at the middle table left, so we waited until it looked like they weren't coming back, and she set up the table. They immediately came back with drinks, and asked if we minded playing doubles. VJ said, "as long as you don't mind the fact that we're terrible at pool, sure!", so doubles it was. She's played a lot more than I have, so she picked up on it much quicker. I think I pocketed one ball in the whole game. LOL! I spent the rest of the time figuring out how to hold the cue, how to gauge lining up the angles, and trying to figure out why I tend to hit to the right.

It should be noted that these guys were probably 35 and 40 (if not older), rather drunk, but not particularly sleazy. They asked what our situations were, and were more impressed by our honesty than trying to pick us up or anything, although the older one (Ricky) offered to buy us drinks, too. I didn't want anything, and VJ knows I can't drive a stick, so she had a soda.

It should also be noted that we overheard some of the hicks behind us muttering things like, "look at those two lesbians back there." LOL! We were tempted to play it up, but didn't, because we'd have probably been asked to leave.

After one game, Ricky asked VJ if she wanted to keep playing or go dance, so they went off. I checked on her a couple of times to make sure she was okay, and learned later she was doing the same for me. Brian's best friend is a cop in Kingston, so we weren't worried about having trouble, but we both prefer to err on the side of caution. I played what must have been the longest game of pool in history with the other dude (neither VJ nor I knows if he said Justin or Dustin), and won. I'm sure he let me win, because he was sobering up, but it was still fun. By the time there were only two balls left on the table, I was getting pretty comfortable with the cue and lining up shots. Not that I'm anywhere near being a champion, but it was fun, and that was the entire point.

It was about midnight now, so I went to see what VJ was up to one last time, and we danced together for a couple of songs. The jukebox had a good mix of classic rock, mostly southern like Tom Petty and Skynyrd, as well as the obligatory country. VJ is a great dancer. She moves so smoothly, and obviously has fun with it. I had fun, too.

Don't know if we'll be back to this place, but I told her I have to try karaoke before I move, and we *did* have a lot of fun with pool, so we'll see what happens.

About 12:30, we headed back. I called +Kyle to let him know how the evening went, and that we were en route from Kingston. He sounded tired, but not terribly put out with the hour this time. :)

When we got back to my house, we sat and talked for another 10-15 minutes or so. We're really going to miss each other when +Kyle and I move away, but VJ has a sense that we'll get to know each other even better after we're apart, and that maybe we'll even see each other again. Her friend Rachel, who she thought she'd never see again after they parted, ended up in Lawton, just a couple of hours away. VJ doesn't want to live in Oklahoma or even Texas for the rest of her life, and desires life near a real beach. Virginia has some very nice beaches, quoth she.

I love you, Vera!

Going out!

Feb. 6th, 2004 07:04 pm
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Going out with VJ! Going out with VJ!

She should be here in about 15 mins... I can't wait! Not so much for what we're going to do tonight (she wants to try square dancing), but just the fact that it's VJ. ^_^ I love her so.

Let it never be said again that I refused to try something new. Don't know how well we'll like this new venture, but the company will definitely be agreeable.
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Just got home from going out with Vera. She's always a delight.

She took me to see The Haunted Mansion which was cute. Not one I'd go see on my own, most likely, but for a girls' night out, it was good.

We then went exploring Durant. There's a lovely coffee house/buffet called Art's Eatery, and they have performers on Thursday and Friday nights - usually a jazz band, but a girl named Megan was soloing on guitar tonight. It's the kind of place I've dreamed of finding, and I envision spending hours there huddled in the corner with a sketchpad. They'll be closed for most of the hols, but we've determined to go back after they reopen on January 5th. The owner is quite a nice fellow. The place is relatively new, and just taking off, but with Durant being a college town, I think it'll fly. Am going to see if Lydia would like to go sometime, or maybe Aszra.

We drove around Durant for awhile...she went to school at some point, so it's her old stomping grounds. There are a lot of places that 'used to be _______'. How sad that some things change. She's still a bit bitter over the city taking her best friend.

We talked about a lot of stuff. She'd asked how +Kyle & I were doing, and I'd let on a bit about what had gone on, but told her the whole sordid affair tonight...The fights between me and +Kyle...the dance, and my mysterious attachment to someone I don't even know...everything. She's a good listener, but also a sage. Naturally, she's glad things are better between us, overall. She'd known I was unhappy before, but I don't think either of us really realized that it was anything more than stress from work, and from having a dry sponge.


This brings me to a conversation we had back in...September, I guess it was. +Kyle was out of town, so I'd gone to spend the evening with VJ. We rented The Banger Sisters and talked about everything as we do. At some point, she said, "Do you know what I see you as? You're someone whose sponge is about to break."

"What do you mean?"

"Well...your sponge is your relationship with your family. It makes you happy, and a stronger person. If you have a sponge that's wet, it's resilient...hard to break. But when it's dry, it's very brittle, and could break at any moment. I think yours is about to break. You need to see your family and get your sponge wet."

I hoped it wouldn't break before Christmas.


I think VJ's better for me than I am for her. I don't seem to have much of use or construction to say, but then, she's been around the block at least once more than I. Still...we seem to complement each other well, and she said on several occasions at various things, "that's why I like hanging out with you..."

At some point, Wal-Mart became a necessity. She had to obtain things for her daughter's class' Christmas party, so we milled about and looked at clothes, jewelry, makeup...all stuff she doesn't get to do much with a little one. I found the tiny silver hoops for which I've searched, and was going to get them, but VJ said, "Merry Christmas," and wouldn't let me argue, so... *shrug* Thank you, Vera!

We also entertained an employee in Housewares, Amber. We'd been talking rather generically about arguing with men, and the differences between how we handle things versus the way they handle things. Her advice: let them go on for 10 minutes about whatever they want, then say, "Okay, so do you want to tell me what's really bothering you?" Sage. She also said something about letting them go into their cave, but I think that was a reference to a book or something...

Anyway, Amber...she asked if there was anything she could help us with, and VJ said, "Thanks, but no, we're just talking about men." Amber piped up, and said, "I'll bet that, no matter what you've been talking about, I can do you one better. This guy proposed to me, then a week later told me I was terrible in bed, and the next day, went out and got a girl pregnant." Well, she was right. I have little reason to worry about petty arguments, and VJ said something to that effect as well.

So we went over to get her party stuff, and naturally noticed several cute guys. She's worse than I am. :PPP I'll swear on my own future grave that this was an accident, but one just okay-looking employee walked past, and I was pulling my hair back (been wearing it down a lot lately, and am still getting used to it being in the way all the time), and I guess it fell just right or something as I *happened* to glance at this guy. She turns around and looks at me, and goes, "You FLIRT!"

"Hey!"

"Not that that's a bad thing, but..."

"See, VJ, that's the thing...that's just who I am, you know? Pretty much anyone who knows me figures this out fairly quickly. Even so, I wasn't even trying that time, just getting hair out of the way."

We were highly amused. But then, when she was "in her prime" as she'd say, she could walk into a room, and everything would stop for her...just for a moment, but there was that breath of silence. I believe it. I find it hard to believe it doesn't happen to her anymore, but she says that's passed now.

So after the dreaded Mart of Wal, we stopped for coffee at a generic Waffle House, which wasn't bad. I guess we sat and talked for another hour or so... We talked a lot about memories and how there are always special ones that you never forget...you keep them for yourself, and when there's a rainy day, you can take one out, relive it for just a little while, or maybe for the whole day...and it's yours, and no one can take it away from you.

We talk about everything, really. She's really my wiser sister when it comes down to things. I find it so hard to believe there's 10-years difference between us. I've always gotten on well with people of all ages, but we're so alike in a lot of ways. We're often in similar places in our lives. I'm not sure that's such a good thing, really...are lives truly so cycular, or do we just never really learn from our mistakes? Nonetheless, she's someone I needed to know, and I'm so thankful for her.

On the way home, she brought up one of her own theories...men are pets, or at least, we should treat them as such. I couldn't imagine this being like her mother's philosophy that men are toys: to be used and/or put away as needed or desired, but I listened.

"Men especially are like cats. In my experience, you only really get to pet them when they want to be petted, and generally they don't need you or show you affection as often, or in the way you'd like."

I couldn't see where this was going, but it seemed uncharacteristic. Edith is of the opinion that we really don't need men at all, but that they need us. I suppose there's some truth to that, but not perhaps to the extent she takes it. Vera takes quite a different approach, usually, so I wondered how she'd tie this together.

"Pets," quoth she, "are something that we bring into our house. We feed them, we clean up after them, and we love them. They don't give us anything, really, back in return. They don't cook. They don't clean. They don't really *do* anything, and we don't really expect anything of them. But we love them anyway. Now why do we treat animals like this, and we won't even treat our fellow human beings the same way? We should treat each other - everyone - like pets. When I'm having a hard time with Brian, I try to remember that."

Somehow, the subject of extended families came up. She doesn't get along with her in-laws, which is a shame. It's not so much that they hate her as they don't understand her... It's sad to hear that, because I look at how Peggy is with me. She tells me every time how much she loves me, and how I'm like her own daughter to her. She tells +Kyle how wonderful she thinks I am. I always know, because he looks at me and says into the phone to her, "Yeah, she is, isn't she?"

Somehow else, the conversation of extended families led into the need for spiritual guidance, particularly in the home. I guess it was because we agreed that those who do not command respect naturally often resort to saying, "Well, I'm the man of the household, thus _________", and do not deserve the respect they desire. Conversely, those who command respect do not need to say that, because it's a given. Anyway, spiritual guidance... Somehow our evenings always end with some conversation about God. We really should get together and just study.

"You know," she said, "that love you've been seeking? There's somewhere you can go for that that will be there even when +Kyle fails you. Awhile back, I was talking with a friend, and they asked, 'So how are you and Brian doing?', 'Not too good,' I said. 'Well, you don't seem terribly worried about it.' 'No, because even though Brian may not be in love with me anymore, I found a love that makes me not care about that.'"

I thought about how often I've searched for that love and never really found it to the degree I've wanted. Maybe I never really tried hard enough. Maybe I was expecting the wrong kind of love. I told her I was at a place where I wanted it, but at the same time, I didn't really know if I cared enough to try to get it.

"Oh, I've been there, too. I've found it, and lost it, and found it again, and lost it again...we go through these cycles, but we can always find it again if we want it. Some of us just don't want it badly enough." She went on to talk about David and Abigail, but now I'm not sure where she was going with that. By then, we were almost back to her house, anyway.

I'm so thankful for my lovely, wonderful friend. She always cheers me, and always has good things to really edify and uplift me. She says I do the same for her, but I don't see how. All I can do is hope to spend much more time with her than I've been able to up to this point...with only 5 months left, I realize how much I'm going to miss her when we do move.

January 2012

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