Bundle of Joy

UPDATED: Now with 100% more historical accuracy (and fewer words.)

Everybody is abuzz this afternoon; excitement over Judge Vaughn Walker overturning Proposition 8.  When the news came down I thought, “I should probably blog about this.  But what would I say that would be original and interesting?”  The fact is, lots of people are going to have blogged about it.  I’m not really sure I have anything to say.

Here are my thoughts on the subject, in a nut shell:

  • I’m genuinely surprised.  It only makes sense, but I really didn’t think it would happen, not at this stage.
  • I don’t really understand what this means.  Could I run right out, this afternoon and get married if I had someone to marry?  Is there a date when it will become legal?
  • What’s the point?  Everyone knows that the Prop 8 folks are just going to appeal to the next level of courts.  AND, they asked for an injunction to prevent same-sex couples from getting married before the next round of trial is completed, “so they wouldn’t have to invalidate any marriages that take place in the interim.”  (Aren’t they sweet to think of our feelings.)  It’s not like this thing is even sort of settled.  I just can’t get excited about it; not yet.
  • Still doesn’t have a direct impact on my life.  I know, I’m a “bad gay” but I’m just not that invested in the outcome.  I have an opinion and I want to see same-sex marriage legalized for the sake of justice and equality, but it doesn’t affect me, today.

And that’s it.  That’s all I have to say on the matter, so I decided to write about something else instead.  I warn you, it’s long!

~~~~~

I was sort of saving this little tidbit for later but, in the next couple of weeks my sister, Erin, will give birth to her third baby and first boy; the first male grandchild in the clan.  What follows is either going to be as funny to you as it is to me, or you’ll find it really uninteresting.  If it’s the latter, I apologize.  Check back tomorrow for better stuff!

Erin was last pregnant six years ago when her second daughter, Regan, was about to be born.  Before she knew what she was having she chose a boy name and a girl name for the baby she was carrying.  I really liked the boy name she picked out and assumed that she was still going to use it now that she is having a boy baby.  At the end of an e-mail on an unrelated topic I asked her.

From:      Riggledo

To:            Erin

Speaking of the baby…  Is his name Rory Alec, or have you guys picked something else since you were pregnant with Regan?

From:      Erin

To:            Riggledo

Yes, the name is still the same, but after a little more intense research, the spelling has changed.  The proper spelling is Rauiri Alec.

From:      Riggledo

To:            Erin

You’ve become one of those mother’s who hates her child!  🙂  Why Rauiri?  That looks middle eastern to me.

From:      Erin

To:            Riggledo

That’s because it virtually is middle english.  We have been trying to keep it authentic.  I hate the way that everybody changes the spelling and/or meanings of words to fit their personal desires.  We have put effort into finding the authentic Irish or Celtic spellings.

Kind of like Ailis is Regan’s middle name.  You don’t see the “H” in there anywhere, but it is there in the pronunciation.

~~~~~

In the meantime, I tried to look up the meaning of this name my sister planned to saddle her child with for a lifetime.  Google, in its infinate, helpful wisdom, proposed a different spelling than my sister had listed.

It is important to understand, at this point, that my sister was diagnosed in elementary school with a learning disability with regard to spelling.  She’s very smart and excelled in all other areas of school, but she’s always been a bad speller which added to my confusion and disbelief that she’d choose such a strange way to spell such a simple name.

~~~~~

From:      Riggledo

To:            Erin

Wait!  Based on this, have YOU misspelled the name?  I can’t find results for your spelling.

From:      Erin

To:            Riggledo

You may be right.  I need to look back at my papers.

She never did get back to me on the spelling.

~~~~~

It’s difficult maintaining “Favorite Uncle” status when you live on the opposite side of the country.  This past Christmas, I put a lot of thought and time into selecting great gifts for my nieces, things I think they would really enjoy.  This past Christmas.  These gifts are currently sitting in a box on the floor in my living room, waiting to be wrapped, packaged up and shipped.  To be fair the item I bought for my older niece is oddly shaped and larger than every box I found for a very long time so packaging and shipping was proving difficult.  I found an appropriately sized box a month or so ago, and now I really have no excuse for not having shipped their stuff.

~~~~~

When I was a kid my mother taught me how to crochet.  I had an enormous ball of scrap yarn that I used to “make stuff” out of.  I’d crochet till the yarn was all used and then I’d rip it out and start something new.  One day, I decided that I was tired of making nothing and ripping it apart again and I bought a pattern book and some yarn and since then I’ve been crocheting blankets.  I’m not sure what else, truly useful, I could make by crocheting and I don’t know how to knit so I’m limited to blankets.

I’ve made blankets for my mother, several friends, my grandfather and of course myself.  I’ve also made blankets for every baby in my life and a few that aren’t (except my brother’s baby – but that’s another story.)  Both of my sister’s daughters got their baby blankets after their first birthdays.  I thought it might be nice if my nephew had his when he was born (we shall see if that happens,) so I needed to know if her due date had changed since last we discussed it.

~~~~~

From:          Riggledo

To:                Erin

Hey, Just wondering if you’re still due on 8/23?  I have a baby blanket finished (sort of) for your son whose name I don’t know how to spell.  I’m hoping to get it (and all the stuff I have for the girls) packaged up and sent off next week.  Just thought it’d be nice if the blanket actually arrived before he did as opposed to a year or so later like with the girls.  🙂

From:          Erin

To:                Riggledo

That would be nice.  Yes, the due date is still 8/23 although I think everybody is hoping for the week before that.  And really what is so hard about Ruari or Rauiri?

From:          Riggledo

To:                Erin

Well, for starters, which one is it?  I’ll get it eventually (after a few instances of seeing – and using – ONLY the correct spelling).

You need to realize though, that you, and he, are looking at a lifetime of confusion about how his name is supposed to be pronounced/spelled.  If you lived in Ireland it wouldn’t be so big a deal ’cause some people still spell it that way. But here, nobody knows that spelling and it will be an ongoing issue.

Despite how it might sound, I’m not telling you what to do… Or maybe I am… 🙂 But if it were me, I’d reconsider spelling it the more common way.

That being said, you still haven’t told me what the correct spelling is.  (Kinda proving my point.)  In the end, though, I will get behind whatever you decide. 🙂

From:          Erin

To:                Riggledo

We were settled on a spelling, but when I looked it up yesterday I found one that I think I like better because it seems more pure.  So now we are discussing it again.  I think ultimately it will end up being Ruari.  Primary point is that the proper way to pronounce it is with an “ahr” sound, not an “or” sound and we want to emphasize that.  People are lazy and pronounce Aaron as Erin all the time, but at least the spelling is there.  I understand what you are saying, but I am more interested in making it say what it is supposed to mean rather than just be comfortable for everybody else.  The name means Red King or Great King and rua is the Irish word for Red or Great.   (Given the reaction from both you and mom, I guess it’s a good thing we are not having a girl named Eibhlin (pronounced eve+linn or ave+linn) meaning pleasant, beautiful, radiant or in other places identified as a bringer of light. – We think it is a beautiful name, but sounds like you guys would have had a cow or maybe a heard of them.)

At any rate, you would think that people can’t mess up something as simple as David, but you wouldn’t believe how often we have to correct people and tell them his name is David, not Dave.  So I don’t see that there is ever an easy answer to spelling or naming convention and so I don’t really care.  I have dealt with being Lee my whole life, I am constantly telling people how to properly spell Caitlin, I already described the problems we are having with Dave vs. David, and most of the world wants to make Regan into Reagan, so what’s one more?  At least I am not making up names like some of the individuals we have known in our lifetime.

I know you will ultimately get on board with it, cause that is the kind of person you are.  Mom is irritating me about it a little bit.  But then what is new.

~~~~~

Now it’s important that I explain two things about the next one.  A)  My sister’s first name is Lee.  She was named, at my Paternal Grandmother’s adamant insistence, after a brother of hers that was killed in “the war”.  Erin has always hated being named Lee, because it’s the masculine spelling, and has, therefore, always gone by her middle name.

2)  My sister and her husband (primarily her learning disabled – in a lot more than just spelling – husband) home school my nieces.  I’m not sure that it’s going particularly well and I pray that they give up the idea and send the kids to school.  Erin, who I have already described as being very smart is a product of the public school system, but some how, suddenly public school is not acceptable for her children and they can’t afford to send a brood to private school.  Home School was supposed to be their solution, but I don’t think its a good one.

Anyway, we carry on.

~~~~~

From:          Riggledo

To:                Erin

Ouch.  My cheek hurts.  🙂  (From your smack down).

Actually, Ruari is not so bad.  I have seen Ruairi and Rauiri and maybe a few other things and those one’s concerned me.  Ruari is still likely to be mispronounced by people, like, say, school teachers (if he ever goes to a school.)  Ru-air-ee.  That’s what people will likely guess his name to be.  I have never heard it pronounced with the “ahr” sound (There was a character named Rory on this most recent season of Doctor Who and it was pronounced with the “or” sound) but if that’s what you’ve learned is “correct” and want to emphasize then I can understand why you’d go with Ruari.  (By the way, now that I’ve typed Ruari several times, it’s ingrained so you can’t change it now.)  🙂

I have to say that while you make the point that you went through life named Lee, you also hated it for at least half of your life.  For that reason alone, I would think you’d want to give your children something a little more “mainstream”.  Dave is a nickname for David and people have a bad habit of assuming it’s OK to use nicknames (I get called Kev sometimes.  I don’t like it but I’ve gotten over being mad about it), but that’s not the same as “bastardizing” the proper name.  I find it interesting that you have to correct people about spelling Caitlin’s name, because I would never have thought of spelling it any other way.  Granted the first time I was aware of her name was on the Ultrasound picture mom sent me that had her name written on it (and I was surprised you were giving her Leigh for a middle name – I know what you hated was having the masculine spelling, but still.)  Maybe it’s just my Irish genes that made Caitlin my assumption, but I would have to be corrected if people spelled it any other way.

Regan’s name I guess I can understand.  Now that she’s (gasp) six years old, I guess I’m used to her name.  When I read your e-mail this morning at home on my BlackBerry, I read “Reagan” and thought Reh-gan as in the president’s name and thought, “That’s a totally different name”, but just now as I was going to type “That’s a totally different name” I realized that Ronny’s name was spelled Regan, so I guess I understand that confusion.  To be honest, I didn’t like that name at all when I first heard it and I secretly hoped you’d change your mind before she was born.  But it’s grown on me and now that I know her and she’s had that name for (gasp) six years I like it and can’t imagine her with any other.

[Ronald Reagan was not spelled like my nieces name and my original argument stands (though it won’t be presented to my sister.]

I didn’t have any idea there was any other way to spell Rory so I was surprised when you told me that it had changed, and like I said, I saw the spelling with the extra i and didn’t care for that.  Rauri is just fine with me.  You have my seal of approval.  I know how important that is to you.  🙂

I’d like to tell you that you’re wrong about “Eihblin”, but…  Yeah, that would be a tough one.  (Keep that in mind when you get pregnant again.)  🙂

Mom?  Irritating?  What on earth do you mean?  What did she say?

~~~~~

Erin sent me the following e-mail conversation:

From:          Mom

To:                Erin

Kevin just told me you’re planning some “off-the-wall” (That’s a quote!) spelling of Rory.  Says he can’t even remember what it is, it’s so far off the mark.  What in the world is he talking about?

I’d like to put my oar in, though, and remind you that it can really be a drag to be saddled with a name you have to explain to everyone for the rest of your life.  Why not just Rory, plain and simple?  Just wondering. . . . .

From:          Erin

To:                Mom

I am still somewhat undecided.  (David likes the name and is not terribly concerned about the spelling.)  Every time I look it up I find different spellings.  According to the sources I am most comfortable with, the proper spelling is either Rauiri or Ruari – meaning Red King or Great King.  (Kevin came up with a different one from some source he searched – Ruairi.)  It is in keeping with our spelling of Caitlin being the original Irish/Gaelic spelling.  Besides, he is home schooled, so who will he have to explain it to until college?  And yes, I remember what a drag it is to have to tell people about your name when you meet someone new, or on the first day of school, or when you go to the dr/dentist, etc.  Been there done that all my life.  😎

And of course Alec, actually English, means Defender of the People.  If I wanted to be truly Irish I believe the equivalent is Alastair.  But we like Alec.

From:         Mom

To:               Erin

Or Rory Alec. “Caitlin” is in keeping with standardized American usage.  Ruari or Ruairi isn’t.  Home schooled or not, he’ll have to spell it out (for those who think to ask) all his life.  Most people won’t ask.  They’ll just spell it wrong.  I say simplify his life by not going there.  That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it! Too late for you, but not for your son!

Yes, I know you’ve dealt with it all your life.  That’s what I meant when I said I was “reminding” you – not “telling” you!

~~~~~

From:       Riggledo

To:             Erin

Date:         Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Subject:   Fw:  Re:  Re:  Baby Name

Wow!  Hung me out to dry, didn’t she!  🙂

From:          Erin

To:                Riggledo

At least you can count on her for something.

From:          Riggledo

To:                Erin

Looking forward to this visit are you?  🙂

For what it’s worth, I apologize.  I’m realizing that at the end of the day, this is entirely your thing and I can imagine it must be frustrating feeling like you everybody else thinks they’re entitled to an opinion or input.  This is not, after all, a committee decision.

Also, I suppose I MIGHT have said, “off the wall” (although that conversation took place a couple of weeks ago – not “just” on 8/2 – so she might be misremembering) but I definitely didn’t say “off the mark.”  🙂

Maybe that’s splitting hairs, but to me “off the mark” is much worse and more offensive  Just sayin’!

From:          Erin

To:                Riggledo

you are right, the only committee that counts here is David & Erin.  But I understand the concern and I don’t mind it being expressed, just harped on.  Furthermore, the slap on your cheek would probably not have been as rough had Mom not been there first.

And while I would have preferred Original to Off the wall, I agree that off the mark is worse.  However, I was a sufficiently aggravated by that point in the email and I didn’t even notice the change until you just pointed it out.  Thanks!!! (just kidding)

So in the end you are forgiven.

What’s So Bad About Being Alone Anyway?

I had my bi-weekly therapy appointment today.

It never ceases to amaze me how some weeks I feel worse when I leave than I did when I got there.  It’s not always like that, but sometimes it is, and today was one of those times.

Our conversation started out awkward as I told her I wouldn’t be able to pay her until our next visit.  Too many automatic bills on the same payday as my rent is due.  It’s out of my hands… Only it’s not really, but I don’t know how to control it… yet.  I couldn’t help feeling like — I don’t know what, really.  Deb said it was almost like I was afraid I was going to get into trouble.  Maybe she’s right, I don’t know.

It’s not like she has to worry.  She knows I’ll pay her for both sessions next time.  It’s happened a few times before when the timing was bad and I’ve always made good on my bill.  I’ve never given her any reason to worry that I’ll skip out on her.  I feel guilty though, because she’s self-employed and relies on the payments from her– what am I a patient?  A client?  I don’t really even know.  But I can only assume that, unlike me, she is not living paycheck to paycheck.

I don’t know.  Maybe I wanted her to tell me exactly how this would affect her, or more specifically, how it would not affect her.  Maybe I wanted her to let me off the hook when in truth, I’m the one who had me on the hook in the first place.

From there our conversation turned to my relationship with money and what I lacked growing up and my need to fill the void.  I talked for a bit about the financial lack I grew up with and how earlier in my adult life (not so terribly long ago at all, actually) I had a bad habit of frivolously spending money and then not having enough for the things for which I needed it.  I’ve made significant improvements in that respect; thinking carefully about how and on what I’m spending my money and whether or not it’s worth the expense, whether I can truly afford it.  I’ve learned a lot and done a much better job of controlling my finances each pay period and what I’ve learned is that I now need to work on effectively managing my money on a monthly basis, carrying over funds from one pay period to the next as needed to cover expenses that the next check won’t be big enough to cover.

This whole being a grown-up thing kinda sucks.  I really hate “I can’t afford it” being the thing that holds me back, the thing that keeps me from doing what I want to do.  But it is and it does.  Being a grown-up kinda sucks.

Then Deb said she felt like we weren’t just talking about money, lacking material things.  She thinks there’s a relevant connection between the lack of material goods that I’m apparently trying to make up for (or at least I was) and the lack of emotional provisions I grew up with.

This is an old song, and if you’ve heard it before, please forgive me and skip down a few paragraphs.  But here’s the thing.  My parents split up when I was two years old.  I’m the youngest of three with a sister three years older and a brother five years older than I am.  My Father cheated on my Mother and ultimately left us for the other woman.  I saw him on two week-ends a month (sometimes less) and the other two watched him come to the house and take away one of my siblings and leave me behind.  (He thought he was doing a good thing by spending one week-end alone with each of us, and then the fourth one with all three.)

My mother was clinically depressed and had nothing to give her children in the form of emotional support or availability.  She didn’t manage her money well and left her family lacking in material possessions and good food on a regular basis.  She was always “too tired” to deal with her children.  She never helped with homework, she never “played” with her children.  She never even wanted to listen to us.  Oh, I could tell you stories about her inability to be available, but suffice it to say, she wasn’t emotionally available and she wasn’t paying attention enough to know what that was doing to her children.

My brother hated me.  He used to beat me regularly.  The world is a different place now, but if we were kids today, we’d have been separated and taken out of my mother’s home by now.

My sister and I got along OK, but she’s three years older and there came a time when she was more interested in teenager things, and her friends outside of the home, than she was in me.

I was unpopular and relentlessly teased in elementary and middle school.  And in middle and high school, my mother never approved of the people who actually did want to be my friends.  She wouldn’t let me go out with my friends.  She’d yell at me to get off the phone with them after 15-20 minutes. And they couldn’t understand what the situation was.  Eventually, she drove a wedge between me and each of them, until being my friend was just too much trouble for them to go to.

I was alone all the time, even in a room full of people.  It sucked, but I got used to it.

I truly believe I have worked through most of the anger and pain that I felt for so long over the lack of emotional connections growing up.  But despite working through those things, I don’t know how to “undo” the damage.  I’m working from a deficit, here.  I don’t know how to do emotional connections and I’m not at all convinced that it’s worth learning, even if I could.

I told Deb, “I don’t know how to fix that ‘lack.’  I don’t have any control over that, so I just focus on what I can control; money, things.”

And then we stared at each other for several agonizing seconds, like we were in some sort of Mexican stand-off.  Maybe I was trying to convince her, maybe she was waiting for me to reconsider.

People are so afraid of being alone.  They’re so afraid to be alone that they’ll stay in bad relationships, years after they’ve stopped being any value at all.  People hop into bed with the first person who shows interest in them, all in the name of emotional connection; trying to fill the void of love left by their parents or other significant figures.  Only it never works and people hop out of that bed and into the next one, over and over, just trying to find something that can’t be found in the first place, and for what?  So that they won’t be alone?

But I’m used to being alone and it’s not so bad.  I’ve got no one to answer to. No one to fight for the remote, or argue over what shows to watch.  No one to clean up after.  No one to be dissatisfied with how much, or how well, I clean up after myself.  No one to hog the covers at night or squirm in the bed while I’m trying to sleep.  No one taking up space in the closet or dresser.  I go where I want to go, do what I want to do, watch what I want to watch, listen to what I want to listen to.  I deal with my own problems and I don’t have to listen to anyone else’s.

So really!  What’s so bad about being alone, anyway?

Irony, It’s Where It’s At

I used to hardly ever talk to my mother.  Not because I don’t love her, or she me, just because I don’t like being on the telephone, and e-mail seems like it’s pointless unless you’ve got something specific to say and then it feels like it needs to be lengthy enough to justify the effort on the part of both parties.  My aversion to talking on the telephone came from her, for two reasons.  First, she always made it clear that she had no use for protracted phone conversations.  Make the call, say what you have to say, and get off the phone.  That was her philosophy.  It was never acceptable to call someone “just to say hi” or “just to talk.”  Secondly, when I did get on the phone with friends, she would always tell me to get off the phone after about 20 minutes or so, even though I was in another room where my talking wouldn’t disturb her and even though the only people who ever called were my friends, or bill collectors so she never answered the phone anyway.  Nevertheless, through these experiences, she taught me to prefer not to be on the telephone for long periods of time.

A couple of months ago, I got a text message from my mother:

“Do you text?  Just wondered.  going to bed now. ‘Night!”

I confirmed that I do and that was the end of the conversation, that night.  Since then, however, we’ve exchanged text messages and had full conversations via text  every few days.

This morning I received a text from her while I was getting ready for work and we proceeded to have a conversation on text until I got to work when we moved to Instant Messenger.  She informed me that she had gotten a new cell phone with a QWERTY keyboard.  She said, “I wanted something with a keyboard so I could text without having to hit the keys several times to get the letter I wanted.”

I answered, “Based on the speed and length of your texts, I had a feeling you had a keyboard now.”

“Yep.  The [Boss’s family] are big on texting, so I needed it to keep up!”

“I am too,” I answered, “then I don’t have to ‘talk’ to people.  How sad is that?”

She answered, “Pretty sad, by my lights.  But it’s the way of things nowadays.”

Hmmm.  Interesting perspective for her to have.  I continued, “I text Michelle a lot, because if I want to make a quick comment about something, it could turn into a 45 minute conversation and I have a thing against doing other things while I’m on the phone so it blows my whole evening.  (I know that’s terrible.)”  I was making light of things here, I don’t really think it’s that bad.  It get’s said what needs to be said without derailing my plan for the day/evening.  And when we get together and I can focus my attention on her and our interaction we talk plenty.

“It’s just one more way in which nuance and empathy and other such non-quantifiables are being eliminated from people’s relationships these days.  I just think it’s sad.”

“Yeah, but it’s quick.   :-D”

I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of this situation.  Here we are, having conversation by means of electronic written technology and she’s telling me that it’s sad that people don’t spend more time on the phone even though she hates being on the phone as much as I do.

Sometimes, her inability to recognize the irony in her words, and yes, even her hypocrisy, just makes me laugh.