Saturday, June 27, 2009

Stuff I've Lost

Last night, I had a mini meltdown of sorts. Luckily, the Captain slept through it. If he hadn't, here is what our conversation would've looked like:

Captain: What's the matter?
Me: I don't want to tell you.
Captain: (already getting cranky) Great, a guessing game. Are you in love with another man?
Me: Yes, but he lives in Hollywood, so it's a long-distance thing, and totally one-sided.
Captain: What's the matter?
Me: I think I'm sad about Michael Jackson.
Captain:(rolling over and going back to sleep) Oh, for the love of God...

And then I'd have heard about how I woke him up for nothing over breakfast this morning. So, all in all, it's best that I deal with these things while he sleeps through it.

I realized yesterday that my three remaining pieces of memorabilia may be lost.

Firstly, there's the glove. It was possibly the thing that got me hooked on crafting in the first place. It came in a kit. A white cotton glove and some silver glitter glue for me to decorate myself--brilliant! Technically, I have the components of this kit in my sewing room right now, so I could make another one, but that would just be lame.

Then there's the glove pendant. I got that for my 11th birthday, and it was awesome! A pendant representing a white glove, and it was all sparkly, like someone had gone over it with a layer of glittery nail polish. I wore it while listening to Off The Wall on my high-tech walkman, and then it lived in my jewellery box for a couple of decades, and I know I saw it recently, but now I can't find it.

And finally, my pin. I had one of those round buttons you put on your denim jacket or your backpack when you're a kid with a picture of Michael Jackson on it. I loved this because I think it was the best picture ever taken of him, and a perfect representation of him before the craziness took over. Everyone knows this picture. He's wearing a yellow sweater vest and a yellow bow tie and looking oh so shy as if he wants to ask me out on a date but isn't sure he should. And no, I was not reading a little too much into that picture.

I think this stuff just signifies a certain time in history for me. We'd just come to North America from England. It was summer, so there was no school and unusually, also no constant rain and dreariness. My dad had this great auto industry job and we were suddenly flush, and enjoying all the consumerism America had to offer. I was learning to speak with a mid-west accent and tasting rootbeer-flavoured lollypops for the first time. We ate at McDonald's at least twice a week, and we listened to Huey Lewis and the News on the radio, and Journey, and of course Michael Jackson. It was a time like no other.

Now here we are a couple of decades later, and all those jobs in Detroit that changed our lives are gone. People are struggling to make ends meet everywhere. And Michael Jackson, who became gaunt and white and so weird, is dead.

Maybe I thought we'd eventually get back to that carefree, fun time, and now I know we won't.

Didn't I just predict yesterday that Farrah would be totally overshadowed by Michael? And poor hard-working Ed McMahon is now playing third banana to a hairstyle and a guy who lived with a chimp.

That's it for me and celebrity death talk. I'm off to see if we have a rootbeer-flavoured lollypop around here someplace.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Power of Three

I think it's safe to say that I don't get topical too much, particularly regarding celebrities. I'm just too old to keep up with that stuff. But it's been a weird week.

When I was 11, and Michael Jackson was still black, I wanted to be the girl in the Thriller video. That part at the end where he throws his arm over her shoulder, then turns around and flashes the evil yellow-eyed smile was the stuff of my pre-teen daydreams. Then things got say the least. So the big thing I've taken from the life of Michael Jackson is that it is not a parent's right to exploit the things that make his or her children unique and special. That's how you turn your kid's life into a circus. Today, I moonwalk out of respect.

Farrah Fawcett was kind of overshadowed yesterday by Michael, which is too bad because she was awesome. Coincidentally, a few days ago, I had this urge to feather my hair and be one of Charlie's Angels, so I found the old logo from the TV show and (illegally) made it my facebook profile picture. I'm going to leave it as such for a few more days now. The Burning Bed was one of those made-for-tv movies that I always remember, and occasionally, in a fit of extreme melodrama, compare my own life to, while the Captain rolls his eyes and laughs like a girl.

And finally, because these things seem to happen in threes, I have to state for the record that Ed McMahon, for all his TV blooper shows and geriatric bathtub commercials, was a legend. This doesn't mean I haven't made an occasional crack about him rising from the dead and terrorizing the local villagers by continuing to hand out oversized Publisher's Clearing House cheques, but we all handle grief in our own way. Mine generally involves zombifying the recently deceased. Sue me.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reality, You Fail Me

Thank goodness for books.

Yesterday a debate of sorts broke out on Facebook. Was it a political debate, you might ask? Something to do with world hunger? World peace? Universal health care? How about education?
If you guessed any of those (or the next million important current issues on your own personal list), you'd be sadly mistaken. Yesterday's fight was about Jon and Kate.

Here's how it started. Brother #2 wrote a status update about an episode he'd just watched. It was a controversial comment (assuming you care about these sorts of things) taking sides with one of these two idiots, and blasting the other. But the response it sparked kind of made me flinch. People either agreed or didn't, and then things seemed to get a little heated, and finally I even jumped in to play devil's advocate, which I shouldn't have. I can only just barely stand to watch the highlights of that show on youtube, though it does save me from having to sit through a full hour of a really annoying show about really annoying people, while still helping me remain current on the crucial reality-TV issues that apparently affect us all.

So, judging from the response, it would seem that a lot of people feel strongly about these twits. Some think she's a miserable cow and some think he's a terrible husband. Here's my opinion: they both suck.

She may be a harpie, and he may or may not be completely and utterly useless. But the reason they are both unworthy of calling themselves human is that they sold out their children to be on TV! Come on! How can anyone think this is okay?!

Fine. They have eight kids. It's all very interesting. But my parents had seven and I'm not crying to a therapist about my televised potty training 30 years later. I doubt these kids will be able to say the same. I know I'm being a little hypocritical here, considering I do occasionally blog about my own children, though at least I keep it semi-anonymous, and within the context of what an average parent might be experiencing at any given moment. I don't use my kids to make money like they're some sort of circus sideshow. Plus, until recently, I wasn't actually aware I had any readers, and 99% of the time this blog is all about me, me, me, anyway. But I digress. Despite my own failings as a parent, I still feel compelled to wonder what kind of mom exploits her kids this insanely, and what kind of dad lets it happen? Or vice versa, depending on who you think is the most evil.

However, my issue is not specifically with these horrible, horrible people. It's with what has happened to TV in general. This "reality" garbage has taken over just about every facet of television and turned us all into creepy voyeurs. To be a celebrity now doesn't require even the tiniest modicum of talent. Just be willing to use and abuse your ovaries, or your family, or your "teammates" in the most outrageous way you can think of, and fame and fortune is yours! Gross!

Can we please return to a time when great television was all about a talking cartoon dog, his hippie owner and a gang of groovy teenagers solving low-level mysteries at the haunted amusement park? Setting people up in unbelievable circumstances and then staging every situation to result in scandal and melodrama really should not be passed off as "reality". Can't someone sue the TV studios for fraud over this? Come on, this is NORTH AMERICA, people! Frivolous litigation is what we do!

Okay, I guess this rant needs to end before I start suggesting solutions that involve sawed-off shotguns.

Besides, it's time to take Rosemary's Baby out to play, and I haven't even written our script yet.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Man's Other Best Friend

In recent years, my bookishness has gone by the wayside. When I was young, I read a lot. I had (and still have) many, many books. I liked reading.

But then things got kind of busy. When I was teaching, I'd come home at the end of the day feeling like my brain was that fried egg they used in the 80's to turn us all off of drugs, and I'd turn on the TV and let it get even softer. Then the kids came along, and every minute of my day was taken up with feeding and changing and cuddling them, or else folding the piles and piles and piles of laundry their existence had suddenly created. The idea of trying to follow any kind of plot in broken-up one-page increments seemed laughable, and more than a little pointless.

I subscribe to magazines and our small-town weekly newspaper, so I'm not yet fully illiterate. But when it comes to novels or non-fiction books of any length, I realized recently that I could be doing a lot better. My kids both love their books, and they should see me reading.

So, while the Captain was away this last time, I started forcing myself to turn off the computer at night and open up the detective novel that's been sitting on my night stand for the past year or so. And, holy cow, I'd forgotten what I was missing!

I have to admit, I used to be a bit of a book snob. I got my degree in English, so I read a lot of classics, and I turned my nose up at anything that seemed even remotely trashy. But these days, I don't always have the brain power for something that isn't an easy read, so mysteries, chicklit and all manner of popular bestsellers have worked their way into my reading lists. And, for the time being, I'm moving away from gritty, realistic deconstructions of modern-day angst that make me ponder the pointlessness of my existence and my role in a society that will never really respect me. Seriously, it's a good thing. I get my fill of cranky husbands who complain about my terrible coffee in real life. I don't need to read about it too.

And literature isn't just an escape from reality either. I think if you took my blood pressure before and after a half-hour of reading, you might find it actually has health benefits. A few nights ago, after the Captain and I had a noisy late-night argument about something so ridiculous, it shouldn't have even been a discussion, let alone a fight, I was too mad to sleep. So I opened up my book and read for a while. Afterwards, I was completely calm. No leftover urges to sprinkle grated extra-strength Ex-Lax on the Captain's cereal, or "accidentally" put my pillow over his face while he slept. I can't say I was looking to kiss and make up either, but I was plenty calmer than I had been. And that's never happened after sitting in silence for an hour and watching David Caruso take off his sunglasses ten times. Reading is good, cheap, old-fashioned therapy!

The Captain and I like to check out a couple of times a year, and put in a big order when they have a sale happening. I like buying books this way, because instead of looking for something specific I've been wanting to read (which I could just do at Chapters), I check out what's available and add anything that looks interesting to my cart. I find new books and authors I'd never have discovered otherwise.

With the first day of summer having just passed, I think it's a good time to get a new shipment of books in. Sitting out back, listening to the birds singing, drinking iced tea and lounging in the heat with a good book seems like a great way to spend an afternoon.

If I'm lucky, maybe I can even find a scandalous unauthorized biography of David Caruso...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Taking Care

It's been a crazy week!

My kids never get ear infections or things that require antibiotics, and I'm certainly thankful for that. But they do seem to acquire more than their fair share of stomach bugs. This past week, Rosemary's Baby brought home one last stomach bug before school was out. And, yet again, I caught it. I'm just fine now, and the Captain returned home this morning, so life couldn't be better. But because this was the fifth stomach bug for me in less than two years, and because four of those bugs hit while the Captain was away, I've determined that, with a six-month deployment in our near future, I need to start taking better care of myself when I'm playing the role of single parent.

When I'm on my own here, I tend to cut myself slack in all the wrong areas. I'm betting a lot of moms, military and otherwise, can identify with this one. You want to be the best parent you can be, so you focus on the kids, and then you use that to justify ignoring yourself. As a result, you walk past the hall mirror one day and find yourself startled by the unkempt woman in stained sweats and a stringy topknot looking back at you.

For me, when the Captain heads out, the first things to go are exercise and nutrition. There's no one to keep an eye on little explorers while I'm on the treadmill, and my kids won't eat much of what I cook. Cooking just for me seems like a waste of time and energy, so I end up eating toast, or popcorn, or the disgusting processed meat products the kids like. My vegetable intake goes way down and, apparently, so does my immune system. So, when the Captain goes away again, the first item on my list of positive changes is to cook myself a nutritious meal every evening, and to fit in exercise any way I can.

Then there's the childcare issue. I am lucky enough to have a sitter here in town, and two nearby daycare centres with a casual childcare program in place. Packing snacks, lunches, changes of clothes etc sometimes seems like more trouble than just staying home with them, so I don't use these services as much as I should. My kids really are my life, but once every couple of weeks, a morning apart is good for all of us. I recharge and they get to play with new toys and new kids. It's win-win.

And, lastly, I have GOT to get more sleep. When the Captain isn't here to keep me in routine, going to bed at night is kind of lonely, and staying up late feels like a bit of a luxury. And that'd be fine if Rosemary's Baby wasn't genetically programmed to be jumping on my bed every morning before 6AM. I can't sleep in, so staying up late isn't a healthy option. And the things I do with those extra few hours could hardly be considered constructive either. Two nights ago, after a phone conversation with Sister #1, I spent about two hours online watching the ShamWow infomercial and researching this product, as well as the guy who peddles it. After becoming way too emotionally invested in the legal troubles of the ShamWow guy, I think it's fair to say that my time would've been better spent paying off my sleep debt. So, when I am alone again, I vow to be in bed with a good book by nine, lights-off at ten.

I have a sneaking suspicion that staying a little healthier isn't actually rocket science. If I follow a few old-fashioned rules that mothers have been spouting for centuries, I'm betting I can cut these stomach bugs in half, at least.

If not, at least I can clean up the mess with my new ShamWow.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Two Projects for Teachers

Well, it's that time of year again. Nursery school is just about done for Rosemary's Baby, and Firstborn has a couple of weeks left as a kindergartener. The countdown is on!

I needed to make a quick thank-you for Rosemary's Baby's three wonderful teachers, so I whipped up some tags and attached them to bags of homemade cookies. A very quick and easy project!

Firstborn just has the one teacher day-to-day, though I'll be throwing something together for the school resource teacher and his beloved gym teacher before the end of the month as well. I wanted to make a special card for his teacher because she's made his first year of school an incredibly positive experience for him, and I know all too well what an exhausting job she has. I saw the inspiration for this card in the latest copy of Paper Crafts magazine, and I just happened to have a zillion white flowers punched out (I can't remember why. Motherhood has erased my memory). In future, I'd use a more colourful background, or more colourful flowers, since I think these get a little lost in the monochromatic-ness of the card. But I do love the overall concept. I'm probably going to pick up a gift card to go inside, since I'm quite sure she doesn't need another scented candle.

When it comes to the crafts, I feel a bit like a child with ADD these days. I had a frenzied week or so of wanting to sew, sew and sew some more, and then the feeling completely passed. Now I'm onto cards again. The Captain is home early next week, and then on leave, so I should really get onto planning for his homecoming. Perhaps today I should ignore the urge to create and actually do a little housework?


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Six Things That Make Me Happy

I recently came across a challenge on this blog to come up with six seemingly unimportant things that make me happy. And since I love writing prompts of all kinds, I immediately started thinking about my six things.

1. Satellite Radio: I know I talk about this a lot, and I'm as surprised as anyone that I love it as much as I do. When the Captain first brought up the idea of getting it a few years ago, my response was that if I wasn't willing to get cable, why on earth would I pay for radio?! But when I heard it later for the first time at someone else's house, it took me no more than 15 minutes to be completely convinced. Whether I'm making bread in the kitchen or driving down the back roads of Manitoba, Sirius is my constant companion, and it never lets me down. If I want to listen to cheesy 70's pop, there's a station for that. Classic rock, contemporary country, 80's new wave, or kids stuff for Firstborn and Rosemary's Baby--Sirius has it all. I even once listened to the gay and lesbian station where a couple of guys discussed parenting in this busy, scary, stressful post-9/11 world. It was fascinating! And the best part? No commercials! That alone is worth the subscription!

2. Blossoms: When the trees out back start flowering, it never ceases to surprise me, and then fill me with happiness. I don't know why this is, because when those blossoms turn into apples that inevitably get blown all over the lawn during the first windstorm of the summer and I have to run out there with my laundry basket to grab them all before they rot, I always heave an exasperated sigh and wonder how much apple butter I can unload on my neighbours this fall. But when they're just pretty white (or pink, as is the case with our plum tree) flowers, it gives the yard a whole different feel, and I love being out there.

3. The Grow-Op: Yes, I moved it out of the bedroom, but it does still exist, just on a smaller scale. Now I have a couple of shelves with grow lights in an unobtrusive spot in the hallway so I can keep some potted herbs growing inside. At least I think they're herbs. The only things I can actually identify are the basil plants to the right. I've used none of the other stuff in my cooking for fear it may actually be poisonous. But the basil is coming in so handy. You can put it on just about anything, and it just grows so easily it makes me feel like I have a green thumb, which I don't actually think I do. I added some lettuce for salads and sandwiches, yesterday. Growing your own stuff is work, but it's so satisfying!

4. My Mug: Everyone has a favourite coffee mug, right? This one is mine. I needed to replace my "I Love Teaching" mug, which mysteriously exploded in my hand as I was contemplating whether or not I ever wanted to return to teaching...odd. Anyway, I had to make do with what I had in my cupboard until this one caught my eye during a pit stop at the Canex. The sentiment amused me, and the mug is a good size. I like the decadence of a nice, big cup of coffee in the morning, since the rest of my day is usually decadence-free. Unless actually getting a shower and three meals is considered decadence.

5. Magazines: My subscriptions to a few fashion and craft magazines are a guaranteed monthly treat. Finding them in the mailbox, when I've just started to forget about them, is thrilling. But last week, it got even better! In our teeny-tiny town, we have a thrift store. I went in for a browse and discovered a huge rack of used magazines. On closer inspection, I found several older issues of my favourite cardmaking magazine. So, for the low, low cost of 25 cents each, I got 4 "new" magazines to browse over a cup of decaf after the kids are in bed. What could be better than that?!

6. Re-purposing: Sometimes I also call this "recycling". I take useless things and turn them into something. Today, I went through my jewellery box and yanked out a whole bunch of things I have never worn: a cameo pendant I found at Value Village (I am mad for cameos and can never pass them up when I find them in thrift stores), a big blue blingy pendant I got during my trip around the Maritimes, a single shoe clip which found its way into my late great aunt's collection of costume jewellery, one of those cheesy portrait charms you get with your package of pictures at places like Sears, and a flimsy silver-coloured (not to be confused with sterling!) bangle bracelet from who knows where. The bracelet, I wired up with beads and turned into a wreath. The rest I left as-is and strung with ribbon to be hung on the tree come December. If they're out and on display for one month of the year, that's one month more of usage than they've seen in the last decade, and they'll make my Christmas tree unique. I'm tired of perpetually re-buying those glass balls that are always crushed in the bottom of the ornament box by the end of the year. It's time to use up what I've already got!

I think what I liked best about this prompt was that it recognized that little things can bring us great happiness, and it attempted to make me think about those things instead of all the big things I think about all day long which, incidentally, also often come with big monthly payments. It's important to stop and look around from time to time. If you don't, you could miss all those little pleasures that make life what it is.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Chain Letter, The Dessert, and The Four-Legged Visitor

First up, we have what I think is possibly the most misguided thing any parent has ever come up with. Yesterday, after hitting Capital City to catch up with a visiting friend I haven't seen in over ten years, I hit the post office to pick up my mail. Amongst it all was a letter for Firstborn, which I immediately recognized as a party invitation we've been eagerly awaiting. So I gave him the mail unopened, and went about the business of sifting through my own. In case you're wondering, there were no party invitations for me. But that's okay.

When Firstborn squealed with delight, I turned to find him holding a new pack of stickers and two photocopied pages. In with the party invitation was a chain letter telling Firstborn he was part of a "sticker club" and to send packs of stickers to a child listed on the letter, the sender, and six new friends, with photocopies of the letter and the sender's mailing info on it so these six friends could send him his stickers. The idea was that each child would send out about eight packs of stickers, but receive 36. It included a guilt-inducing reminder for parents that if we don't participate, excited little children like mine won't be receiving their stickers.

Obviously, I could not at this point return the stickers and refuse to participate, so now we have to hit Booming Metropolis and buy eight packs of stickers. However, what I will actually be doing is only mailing the one pack to the first kid named on the list and giving the other seven to the party boy so he doesn't get short-changed, with the explanation that I didn't get around to sending the other six out. And I'm doing this because I have no interest in lumbering six of my friends or family members with this same ridiculous task.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a complete grouch. I like fun, and Firstborn likes receiving things in the mail. And I don't blame the mum who sent me the letter. I'm guessing she was just as irritated as I was to receive it. The one I'm actually a little irked with is the person who came up with the damned thing in the first place. Honestly, I don't even have a job and I don't have time for this, so I can't imagine what all those working mothers out there thought when they got it. Who in their right mind thought this was a good idea?!! Sigh...End of rant.
On a more delicious topic, I invented a new dessert! I had half a box of phyllo dough left over and sitting in the fridge, and several (hundred) jars of freezer jam waiting to be used before freezer-burn set in. So, I pulled out Regan Daley's fabulous In the Sweet Kitchen and used her very handy pairing chart to create this tasty baklava-inspired treat.

This dessert is structured just like a traditional baklava, with layered sheets of phyllo, a nutty filling, and a syrup poured over the top directly after baking. But instead of using all the traditional stuff, I used things I had on hand that Regan said would taste good together. And she was right!

For the filling, I chopped up some dried figs and mixed them with a handful of slivered almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon and a little melted butter (sorry my measurements aren't more precise here. When inspiration calls, I'm a slave to my whims). For the syrup, I mixed a one-pint (500ml) jar of peach jam with some orange juice to thin it out and heated it in the microwave. This, incidentally, was way too much jam. Half a pint would've been plenty. I layered the phyllo and filling and brushed it with melted butter before baking it at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, then sliced it into 12 pieces and promptly poured the hot syrup over the top.

Now, I won't pretend this was as good as real baklava. Using jam instead of a honey syrup definitely changed the end texture, and the taste itself wasn't as sweet. But Firstborn polished off a whole piece in less than five minutes, and in our house that constitutes success. And the picture looks more like a slab of lasagna, but don't let that fool you. For something whipped up out of stuff that was bound for the trash otherwise, it was pretty swell!


And finally, we had a visitor last night, and not a very shy one either. I opened the front door to go collect the blankets I'd used out there to protect the vegetables from the inch of frost we got the previous night (I'm sorry, were you under the mistaken impression it was JUNE?! Me too!), and this guy was standing on my driveway, looking me square in the eye.

Naturally, I slammed the door shut and ran for the camera. Sorry for the crummy shot, but I wasn't about to come face-to-face with him again, so took it through the window instead as he wandered towards the neighbour's field. He was limping around, holding up one of his hind legs, and I'm a bit worried about this. I wonder if I should've tried calling animal control. Not that they'd have come all the way out here on a Saturday evening for anything other than a python wrapped around my neck, but the mother in me hates the thought of him out there wandering the fields all by himself with an injury. And this is why so many stray cats show up on my doorstep...

Anyway, we're getting a fox sighting here every other day at the moment, and it's driving Rusty and Jerome crazy. I have a sneaking suspicion that if I did actually let them out the front door, they'd stand there looking at each other, wondering what the heck to do. But for safety's sake, I don't want to risk experiencing the trauma of animal violence, so I keep them inside when wildlife shows up and they put on a great show of bravado, jumping at the windows and pulling down the curtains. They are truly the ultimate show-offs.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Cheater, Cheater

Years ago, I got cheated on by a boyfriend. I look back on it now as a gift from God, a true blessing. We were incredibly wrong for each other and he did me such a huge favour. Before he cheated, we could well have been on the path to marrying each other because nobody better was available. There's no denying that, for me, this was a very lucky escape.

In talking to people lately, it has occurred to me that this really isn't that uncommon a problem. In the 90's, every other episode of Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones, and every mindless talk show in between, showcased mullet-headed, toothless guys in ripped jeans and wife-beater tank tops "revealing" their infidelities to women who would never have the brainpower to come to the conclusion on their own, and would still never leave this paragon of male excellence because she "loved him". Then the other woman would come out, and a brawl would ensue, complete with post-production "bleeps" every three seconds. Ah, the golden age of television...

Not that I was much better. When it happened to me, I was about 20 years old, and pretty darned clueless. While the guy wasn't really a terrible boyfriend (you know, until he stuck his you-know-what, who-knows-where), I wasn't so crazy about him that I'd have put up with what he did based on some skewed perception of what constituted "love". But these things are never that cut-and-dried, and I did attempt to stick it out for a few months afterwards. My reason? I didn't want his parents, or mine, to be mad at me for dumping him. Boy, oh boy.

Now, you might ask why on earth I wasn't shouting what he did from the rooftops and making sure all the parents were well aware that a nice, loud breakup was completely justified. That's the other complex part. And I'd be very, very interested to know if anyone else has ever experienced this, so do let me know.

When I got cheated on, I knew logically that this was not my fault. It was entirely down to the person who did the cheating. And it didn't even devastate me to have to end the mediocre relationship. But almost immediately, this nagging little voice appeared inside my head. It started making some pretty preposterous, but totally convincing arguments. He cheated because I was somehow not good enough. I wasn't able to keep him faithful. Everyone will hear this news and know that something is wrong with ME!

So I kept quiet and stuck things out until they became unbearable and I no longer cared who was mad at me. Eventually, the whole pathetic thing fizzled out like a flat glass of generic brand diet cola.

But that obnoxious, insulting voice remained.

It's one thing to have a negative little murmur like that present itself. It's quite another to shut it up. And unlike other doubts I've heard in my head from time to time, this one stuck around for years. I think I can honestly say that it took me 5 years to beat that rotten, lousy, destructive suggestion to its eventual death. That was more than twice what the relationship itself even lasted, and was way past the point where I was over the guy and onto far more profitable pursuits.

So, for the benefit of anyone who has ever been treated to a healthy dose of infidelity at the hands of someone who probably didn't deserve them, I'd like to state what I eventually came to accept and believe about this subject. If you take only one thing from this post, let it be this.

Cheaters cheat because they are cheaters. No matter how lousy a relationship is, cheating is something that people do when they don't have the coping skills to deal with their problems appropriately. It is a reflection of their own issues, and has nothing to do with the cheat-ee.

When we're young, I think we have this notion that if we can be just the right person and do just the right things, we can keep people from straying. It just doesn't work that way. And after this experience, hoping to make something positive out of all that time I wasted on him, I reflected hard on what I was looking for in a life partner. In the end, I realized that I wasn't looking for someone who wouldn't cheat on me. I was looking for someone who wouldn't cheat on anyone. And once I figured that out, that "someone" wasn't too hard to find.

And while he may not be keeping things exciting by ambushing me on Jerry Springer, I like him just fine.