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Who I Think I Am

Home Again!

Remember a while back I told ya'll that my mom is convinced I'm selfish? Well, I was thinking about that this past weekend.

On Saturday, my baby cousin is returning from a two-year stint in Japan with the Navy. He has been away and has missed the Boy growing into such a little pistol and he is anxious to come home.

When I say "home", I should elaborate. Cuz was born into a Navy family and so has lived many different places. His mom and dad live in Virginia Beach and we, that is, the rest of the family, live here in PA.

Cuz calls my house - "home". The story isn't that complicated, Cuz got into trouble as a teenager, as teenagers are wont to do, while experimenting with a little weed and a lot of alcohol. This experimentation caused him to get sent to a school for wayward boys. In addition, it caused his father to decidedly overreact and kick his 15 year old butt out of the house.

In the year that followed, Cuz lived with friends of the less desireable sort and ended up dropping out of high school. After seeing me at Christmas, wherein I told him if he ever needed anything at all, just call, he called.

Cuz felt like he was drifting away. At 16 he hadn't a home or a loving dad. At 16 he was directionless and it scared him. I was in Virginia by the following day. My husband and I moved all of his things into our spare jasminlive room. His mom signed over guardianship so that I could make legal decisions for him and he became, for lack of a better term, my foster kid.

Cuz was given three very specific rules: 1) he had to have a job; 2) he had to do his own laundry; and 3) he had to contribute a very insignificant sum of money for "rent" to teach him responsibility.

Beyond these three rules, I felt he was nearly an adult and was free to do as he otherwise wished.

Cuz was a dream. He simply was longing for structure, for any rule at all and for love. He and my husband bonded and became fast friends. We ate dinner together most nights. He got a job at Ikea and was employee of the month shortly thereafter. And we told him everyday that we loved him.

When he turned 17 I decided that he need to learn to drive. Once we mastered driving - something his dad had refused to teach him - we went to an auto auction and he bought himself a car. Funny thing was, he was afraid to drive it and so continued taking the bus to and from work. When I noticed he was starting to get bored, I began talking to him about what his plans were. We decided together that he would take his GED and that he would maybe go to college. So, he began studying for the GED. By 18 he had taken and passed the GED.

He then decided he was going to join the military. I'm convinced that his joining the navy had more to do with seeking love and respect from his father than anything else, but it was a decision I was proud he was making. He convinced the navy to allow him to join on a GED. He gave his car to his momma and he has been gone since shortly before he turned 19.

During the time he lived with us, I conceived and the Boy was born. Cuz adored the Boy. We send him videos, cards and pictures so that he can see how big the Boy has gotten. We show the Boy pictures so he never forgets Cuz. They share telephone calls and gifts.

All of this is important since he is coming home on leave this weekend. My son has already explained that he has big hugs saved up for Cuz. He is coming home to us because we gave him the love and support he needed so much.

I'm proud of what he has become. He is a good man. He has forgiven his father, even when his father hasn't asked. He will be visiting to see his mom and say hello to his dad while he is here on leave. But his heart seems to remain with us here in PA.

So, this weekend, when others are having a beer and watching tv, I will be waiting at the airport for my foster kid to come home so I can wrap my arms around him and tell him how much I missed him and love him and bask in the joy that he has become a fine young man who loves his country and the Boy more than anything else!

He once asked me how he could repay us for giving him a home when he needed it. My response has always been to be there for his family, to one day love his wife and children well and to never forget that we love him. Seeing him grow from a troubled youth to a fine young man is payment enough.

Blown-Star Recruit

I'm sold. I'm sold on blogmeets. The intimate, sitting on a 6th floor deck just hanging, kind of blogmeet. I'm sold. It felt like home and it was welcome!

I'm also tired. But, I will try, in my own feeble way, to recreate the fun I had.

After an interesting flight wherein we were ordered to sit at the jetway until four people got off our plane so that we could take on more fuel in the event we were required to circle Austin before landing, we were off. Landing in Austin, I saw no sign of the storms that necessitated this long wait.

I rang Shoe immediately to scratch out my apologies for my late arrival. "No worries" rang out as my welcoming crew was still waiting for bags. As I emerged from the baggage terminal, I was greeted by the friendly faces, and warm hugs of Shoe, Zonker and Omnibus Driver! I had arrived.

On to the liquor store for provisions! Let me tell you, I had never been in a liquor store where they did tastings. I'm just saying! From the liquor store we hit the grocer for smokes for Jim. At which point a rather stumpy rent-a-cop ordered Shoe out of her chosen waiting spot. We drove around the lot while Zonker aimlessly searched for us crying out in a feeble voice "hello, guys?, Um, I'm back . . ."

From there we made it to the hotel! As I gathered my things and got into the check-in line, I was met by T1G. Without missing a beat I was informed - or rather - told to "ask Tammi how she tried to kill me." With that, he was off to recline for in his a-feared state, he was unable to close his eyes and desperately needed some rest.

I quickly met Eric, who mistook me for someone else, but hugged me anyway. I also met several others just as I heard Tammi round the corner. Tammi, the lover of hugs, got several from the group and off to our rooms we went!

When next we emerged, it was off to the Salt Lick for some good BBQ and fine conversation. Being vehicularly challenged, I hitched a ride with "All My Ex's Live In Texas" and Redneck. Marcus navigated without any difficulty toward the Lick. After we passed a Hindu temple, we knew we were in the right place!

Which reminds me - exactly what kind of animal gives an "Elephant Pony Ride?" A pony dressed as an elephant; a small elephant, or an elephant riding a pony? Bygones.

At the Lick we were met by the lovely Christina and her fabulous livejasmin friend Susan. Not to be forgotten was Christina's mama, who we will call Maw-Maw. I received a hug that nearly broke a rib from said Maw-Maw. She is a beautiful woman, physically and spiritually. The wontons supplied by Maw-Maw and Christina were manna from Heaven!

Whilst congregating, I met Nancy, Denita, Eric and their little man and they brought pie!, Prestoagitato, and Beth. I met others from Texas as well, but their numbers left me without a proper roll-call and time was too short to engage in conversation with them all. When next we meet, I will be sure to bring a pen and pad.

Dinner was filled with lovely conversation and gentle ribbing and the next I knew, it was time to retire to the hotel, but the drive home was filled with so much laughter from Tammi, Bou, TJ and I that my sides still hurt from the very remembrance.

Saturday morning breakfast was enjoyed with some of my favorite people. Bou, T1G, Tammi and I, headed to IHOP for breakfasty goodness. Afterwards we joined our core group of blog-buddies on the pool deck for some mighty fine pickin and a singin!

The afternoon was spent enjoying each other's company. I even learned a thing or two, for instance, I learned how to catch a prince, I learned that a man, if standing still enough, could possibly make a good pole on which to dance, should one be overcome with the need, I learned the Gay Cowboy song, I learned that red toenail polish really does turn Acidman on, I learned that the sex trades have a very specific hierarchy, I learned that you can outfit a dog with blinking-bling, I learned that when a foot - fully ensconced in cowboy boot hits a foot - newly bare, from above, that pain ensues, and lastly, I learned that no matter how hard you try, you cannot help but laugh at a blogmeet.

For our evening repast, we caravanned to Maudies to enjoy some top notch tex-mex. Yummy! Afterwards, it was off to see the bats and a Stevie Ray Vaughn memorial - he's dead you know. Lucky for us, we found the memorial, not so lucky for us, we were at the wrong bridge for the bats. Ahhh, the perils of permitting drunk bloggers to navigate!

The remainder of the evening and into the wee hours of the night was spent on that rooftop deck conversing, laughing and singing with some of the best Live Sex Chat bloggers in the sphere!

While my tale is lacking in some major details, as I am of the feeling that we each should experience this wonder called-blogmeet, I will provide you with the following quotes heard round the deck, and my take on some fine bloggers below:

"Hey guys I wanna get a picture of you all with your thingys in your mouths" - Livey. She's a social butterfly who's not afraid to speak her mind and have a good time!

"Knine's an ass - man." - Knine. I only spoke to Knine briefly, but he managed to make me laugh so that means he's good people.

"Hey baby, you know you wanna tap all 300 pounds o' dis! You know you wanna hit dis!" - Anonymous *wink, wink*

"Nice of you to wear a shirt - Oddy" - Marcus. He is a charming man - perhaps why he has a cast of ex's? Just saying! Really though, Marcus is a delight and Austin was made all the better because he was there! Can't wait to enjoy your company again!

"Does it come with Sawwce?" - TJ. This chick purely and simply rawks! I love her. She is beautiful, funny and sings a sweet tune too! She and I could just laugh for days. I will definately be visiting with this fine woman again, and soon!

"Hot Grease Burns with Tammi" - Tammi's trip down was a surprise for some, but not for me - as I was the one begging like a spoiled child for her to hitch on down. Having met Tammi before, I was aware of her warmth, her strength and her charm. Getting to spend another weekend with her was a bonus. I love this woman. She is beautiful inside and out, has a quick wit and an infectious laugh. I can't wait to see you again.

"Bob Saget!" - T1G. I feel like I've known T1G all my life, he is an absolute delight. He gives great hugs, has a wonderful sense of humor and can spot rabies in large mammals. T1G! you can stomp on my foot, anytime! I love ya!

"Cesar Chavez Blvd. will get me there" - Boudicca is everything I've read and more. She is beautiful, charming, kind, smart and funny. I had been anxiously awaiting our meeting and she did not disappoint. Bou is simply wonderful and so are the stories she tells about her lovely family. I cannot wait to see her again. Oh, and ya'll she is tiny!!

My "latina" sista - Christina. Truth be told, this woman is the reason I hauled my cookies all the way to Austin! I've loved her since I first started reading her. She has a way with the written word that sucks me in everytime! She has grace and beauty and is thoughtful to boot. My trip would have been incomplete had I not had the time to sit and enjoy her company. Christina, quite simply, you are fabulous! Thank you for the lush and the wonton yummies. See you soon! Oh, and Maw-Maw, you are a wonderful woman. I love you back! But I must say, my poor ribs are still recovering from your bear hugs!

Dash - I don't have a direct quote (that hasn't been used already this weekend) for Dash because he is the quiet man who takes it all in with a smile. Dash is exactly what I thought he would be. Confident, gracious, and handsome! It was an immense pleasure meeting you and I cannot wait to make your company again!

"Hand me my bottle baby!" - Omnibus Driver. This lady is a firebrand! She speaks her mind, takes it all in and at the end of the day, you know you have a wonderful friend. While we didn't get much one-on-one time, we will one day soon. OD, you are fabulous! Loved that Stetson you got yerself! We will meet again!

Yer from Joisey? Which exit? - Jim. I am humbled dear sir! It was a pleasure, one I hope to have again. I could sit and listen to you and the guys pick fer days!

"Oh wait? You're Oddybobo?" - Eric. Though he mistook me at first, he warmly welcomed me to Austin and he gives great hugs! You, my friend, are a sweet, sweet man. I promise not to post/photoshop any umbrella pics and I hope to meet up with you again!

"You always beat me to Richmond's quizzes!" - Elisson. He is debonair! It was a pleasure meeting you. You are engaging and funny and I cannot wait to sit and talk with you again!

"I'm so glad you're here, I think . . ." - Zonker. A complete joy! I shall never forget your reenactment of parts of the Aristocrats! Austin would not have been the same without meeting you. Hope to see you again - soon!

Denny - Not a quote so much, as an entire song! The Gay Cowboy song was a hit! You rock and I can't wait to meet up with you again!

Shoe - the brains behind the entire meet! Either she has a strange fascination with the airport, or she, quite simply, is one of the most gracious people I've ever met. And she does a mean Sandy the Squirrel! Shoe, thank you for arranging this - it was hit because of you! I hope we meet again, I simply didn't get to spend enough time with you!

Kelley - coined the Blown-Star Blogmeet's name and she is awesome! She is also a beautiful woman! She glows, and it isn't just the pregnancy, though I suspect that has made her even more beautiful. I was so happy to finally meet her and cannot wait to see her again. Oh, and damnit woman - post something already! *wink*

"No shit!" - Redneck in response to my stating the obvious - "you're late". Redneck is a delight! I'm so glad I got the chance to meet him - and can't wait to meet again! If you are ever passing through my neck o' the woods, we'll go fishin!

Walrilla - I knew him right away. And no, the T-shirt blazoned with "Walrilla" didn't give it away! I hope to meet with you again soon as it was a pleasure.

"I may be old, but I'm not dead" - Acidman in response to an inquiry about red toenails! I didn't know you before man, so I can only say it was a pleasure meeting the new you. I could listen to you sing and pick all night.

Confabulator - It was a pleasure meeting you as well. It is exactly like you put it, like meeting members of your extended family!

El Capitan - dude! try not to blow up next time kay? I didn't get to spend enough time with you, as the time was too short and the bloggers were many. Hope to meet again!

Nancy - It was a pleasure meeting you! I hope to spend more time with you when next we meet!

And that was nearly it. On my way through the airport, I picked up some salsa for home. It's name? Salsa Bobos! Bitchin!

I had a tug at my heart when I was leaving, as these strangers I met on coming to Austin, are now considered friends. It was my fortune to have met you all! Until next time . . . this blogger is needing some rest!

I think it was over cookies

It was April 1996.

I was working as a legal secretary in a law office which consisted of two male attorneys. We'll call them "Tom" and "Dan".

Tom was a by the book, middle-aged, Catholic man who was kind and fatherly and smart. He had two striking boys still in elementary school. Tom would drive me home after work when it would get dark early so that I didn't have to walk through my dicey neighborhood alone.

Dan was an eccentric, old-line, Philadelphia Quaker who left the office everday at 2:30 so he could pick his three daughters up from elementary school. He was intelligent, quirky and fun.

All five kids attended the same Quaker school in Philadelphia.

These two men treated me a little as friend and a little as family for the four years I was in their employ. I grew quite fond of them and of their families, especially their kids.

Dan's three daughters would come into the office when they had a day off and clean. They would clean the office from top to bottom, entertaining me for the day. These girls were striking in their beauty. The oldest and youngest had soft features and dark hair and freckles. The middle child - the wild child, had wispy blonde hair. All three were fond of my chocolate chip cookies.

It was over a batch of chocolate chip cookies that we bonded. One sunny afternoon, the girls were in to clean. I knew they were coming and so I baked a batch of my chewy-gooey chocolate chip cookies. The girls entertained me and ate cookies and very little cleaning got done that day. When it was time to leave I received sweet thanks and three very heartfelt hugs. We quickly became buddies.

Over the last 10 years, I have had the pleasure of watching these three grow. I got to read letters from camp, attend plays, parties, and family cookouts. I got to sit in their kitchen and share lemon and sugar crepes or make sushi. I learned the proper way of diving off their diving board and where the best bread shop was in Chestnut Hill. I watched Some Like It Hot in their living room on an old film reel and projector. I saw Gladiator in the theatre with the oldest and we both jumped out of our seats when the tigers came after Russell Crowe. I learned how to harvest honey, watched as a wooden canoe was built from start to finish and was the recipient of candles and dough-people for every holiday.

I was witness to the prank started by their dad one day that grew into a way of life. Dan decided he would annoy his children by becoming a vegetarian. It did annoy the girls - at first. Then, one by one, each kid became a veggie - unless they caught and killed it themselves, a story for another day.

Oh and the driving lessons!

Now, while I have moved far away and two of them are attending college and making memories, I get to connect with them again. I mentioned the other day that the oldest of the three girls is on an Antarctic expedition. And now she's dodging seals and drilling cores! My how they grow!

If you haven't already, take a peak at what this remarkable young lady is up to these days! Pardon me while I go read up on icebergs!