Yes, even though I am a Buddhist, I still celebrate Christmas. It's a cultural holiday for me, and a time to embrace kindness and goodwill, the tenets that form the heart of Buddhism.
So to all my friends - including all the ones I have not yet met - I wish you a very heartfelt Merry Christmas!
25 December 2010
Yes, even though I am a Buddhist, I still celebrate Christmas. It's a cultural holiday for me, and a time to embrace kindness and goodwill, the tenets that form the heart of Buddhism.
14 November 2010
For the last couple of months I've been waking up with stiff and swollen-feeling hands and wrists. Sometimes, the sensations diminish as the day progresses; sometimes they don't. When I mentioned it to my husband (the medical provider and, IMHO, most brilliant diagnostician I've ever met), he asked me several questions, examined my hands, then told me I had RA - rheumatoid arthritis.
In case you were wondering, RA is a debilitating auto-immune disease which targets the joints, usually starting with the small joints (hands, wrists, feet, ankles) first. It's two to three times more common in women than in men, and usually starts between the ages of 40 and 60. (I'm almost 44.) There's also a genetic component; in my case, both of my parents have it.
And there is no cure.
The best I can do is begin to take medication to stave off the pain and swelling, which will slow down the debilitating and disfiguring effects of this disease.
I'm a bit at a loss with this; yeah, I know I'm getting older (gray hair doesn't lie), but I hadn't expected anything like *this.*
This sucks. It really, really does.
31 October 2010
My apologies for being AWOL from blogging in recent months; my day job kicked into high gear with a new project, and I haven't been writing at all. No writing = no blogging. Gah.
I'm not happy with the fact that I'm not writing, though, so in a effort to kick myself back into the writing habit I've signed up for NaNoWriMo, which translates to National Novel Writing Month. I (and lots of other, similarly insane folks) will be trying to write 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30, which roughly translates to writing about 1,667 words a day. This is an exercise in production ONLY - no editing! - just to see how much you can do when you just write.
If anyone feels like joining me in this lovely writing craziness, check out the NaNo website.
Well, there you have it. I hope to be blogging about my progress throughout the month, but don't hold your breath in between my posts - they may be few and far between. Whatever happens, I will certainly be updating y'all by November 30, when (hopefully) I'm writing "the end" on this latest project.
17 August 2010
I've been writing away for the past several months, just noodling at a couple of ideas that have piqued my interest. They're fun, but they don't draw me in; I'm not so invested that I want to see any of them through to publication.
That's been an issue for me for years, now: what do I really want to write? I've dabbled in the realms of Regency historical, urban fantasy, fantasy, and paranormal, but nothing seems to "click" for me. There's no spark, no flicker in the darkness that draws me onward like the proverbial moth.
I think, however, that I may have discovered the source of my malaise. On our way to the grocery store this weekend, my husband was playing a podcast where the hosts were discussing the works of H.P. Lovecraft, the source of his inspiration (Edgar Allen Poe, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and others), and the effect his work had on more modern writers. The hosts spoke of worldbuilding, of mythos creation, and a writing style that mirrored ancient saga and legend.
My skin prickled at that - of all the things I've written, what makes me happiest is a work of fantasy whose tone and style mirrors that of the Odyssey. I never tire of references to the "wine-dark sea", and now I think I know why.
I'm looking for something different, yet that hearkens back to the works I loved as a young adult: Icelandic sagas, Egyptian myth, ancient Greek legend. I want to draw on those elements and infuse them into my writing, all the while creating something that no one has ever seen before.
I think I may be on to something. I'm not sure what it is, yet; for now, it's just a flicker in the darkness, but it's drawing me ever closer. I'll let you know when I find the flame.
07 August 2010
For the past couple of weeks I've been in very mellow mood; even multiple crises at work haven't broken my new-found sense of calm.
Maybe it's because I've started lengthening my meditation sessions. Or that I finished the first phase of my work project ahead of schedule. Or because the Buddhist precepts I've been studying are finally starting to sink in.
At any rate, I'm eager to continue down this path. After so many months of discord and anxiety, this peace is most welcome, and I'm going to do all I can to make sure it continues.
01 August 2010
A series of events over the past year left me riddled with grief and doubt, and effectively shredded my sense of self-esteem. Everything I thought I was, everything I thought true about my life, ended up getting turned around and stomped on.
Soooooo not fun.
Time and effort have restored me, but not without cost, both physically and spiritually. My Buddhist leanings are still at war with the cynicism engendered by these events; it's difficult to feel compassion for people who have hurt you and betrayed your trust. Indeed, it's difficult to trust people in general when your experiences have proven them irredeemably selfish, self-centered, ungenerous, hypocritical, and untrustworthy.
Granted, not everyone in my life conforms to this model; I now keep company with a select few truly generous souls who do NOT make me crazy, or make me feel bad about myself. Better yet, I've learned to spot the ones who do and avoid them. My upbringing led me to be a doormat, a people-pleaser who accepted being treated badly as part of life. I was kind of like a Labrador retriever - any attention was good attention, even if it left me beaten down and whimpering.
Not any more. I may have attracted that kind of person once (several ex-"friends", and one ex-husband), but I'm done. I like the person I've become, and I have a right to live my life free of toxicity. My life is just that - mine - and I don't give an airborne rodent's patoot what anyone else thinks I should be doing with it. Compassion, the root of Buddhism, also needs to extend to oneself.
On that note, I leave you with the 10 Commandments of Self-Esteem:
1) Thou shalt not consort with people who make thee feel bad about thyself.
2) That shalt cease trying to make sense of crazy behavior.
3) Thou shalt not keep company with those more dysfunctional than thyself.
4) Trust thy body all the days of thy life.
5) Thou hast permission at all times to say "NO," to change thy mind, and to express thy true feelings.
6) What is not right for thee is not right for thy brethren.
7) Thou shalt not give beyond thine own capacity.
8) What thy brethren think of thee mattereth naught.
9) Wherever thou art, therein also is the party.
10) Thou shalt sing thine own praises all the days of thy life.
And one more thing: "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
28 July 2010
Meaning is so subjective; rarely do people share the same definition for certain words. It's taken me many years to realize that "friendship" is one of them.
What makes a friend? A pleasant person you see on occasion, with whom you share a superficial bond? Or is a friend someone to whom you can trust your darkest secrets and most fervent hopes, whose company you crave on a regular basis, and whose very presence in your life makes your life that much better?
As an introvert, I tend to have very few friends, but many acquaintances. But those I do count as friends I hold very dearly - those are the folks for whom I'll walk through fire and help bury bodies (joking!), and who would do the same for me. Ours is a balanced relationship, with equal give and take, and the vicissitudes of life only serve to make our connection that much stronger.
I've come to learn, however, that not everyone defines friendship the way I do. Or perhaps I expect more from others than they're willing to give. Or they once were, but we have since grown apart and they don't make as much of an effort any more. Or perhaps I'm just not that good at reading people, and offer the bond of friendship to those who aren't willing-or able-to reciprocate in the first place. That, then, is my fault, and one I'm working to correct. It's caused me a measure of heartache over the years, but I've come to think of it as an adaptive process.
What does being a friend mean to you?
24 July 2010
Milwaukee made the national news recently, but not in that good Las Vegas way. A series of monster storms over the past three days dumped over a foot of water on us, rendering Milwaukee and its environs waterlogged at best, flooded at worst. They even had to close the airport due to water-covered runways. Go to CNN's website and the first thing you'll see is the gigantic sinkhole in the northern part of the city that swallowed a Cadillac Escalade and a traffic light without so much as a burp.
Our house escaped relatively unscathed this time - not sure how it happened, but I'm thanking my lucky stars. But the company I work for has not been so lucky. A couple of the facilities folks dropped by our office yesterday, tired, unshaven, and grimy; turns out they'd been up all night, trying to get to several of our Milwaukee locations. When I asked what had them looking so worn out, the guys produced pictures of flooded basements, and 8-inch diameter pipes venting veritable geysers of water over building railings into an already swollen creek below. Not only did they have to contend with these disasters, but they had to actually fight to get *to* them - several major highways were closed due to flooding, and they had to find alternate routes that didn't involve fording newly-created waterways.
Wow. Talk about being up a creek without a paddle.
Our location was lucky - we had some minor leakage, but that was it. Events like this make me definitely want to count my blessings!
Hope you are all staying high and dry. With any luck, the guy with the ark should be here soon....
17 July 2010
I've been doing a lot of soul-searching lately about happiness, life, and what I can actively do to make sure the two are not mutually exclusive.
They have been, of late; I've been so caught up in angsty contemplation of the vicissitudes of life that I'm forgetting to actually live.
How's that for a brain buster?
It boils down to this: there are so many would'ves, should'ves, and could'ves that cloud our vision, that prevent us from actually enjoying the innate happiness and peace within each of us. In Buddhism, this is reflected in the Four Noble Truths:
1) Life consists of suffering.
2) The origin of suffering is attachment (our desires, cravings, etc.).
3) The cessation of suffering is attainable.
4) There is a path to cessation of suffering, through the right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. (These are called the Eightfold Path.)
I guess you could say I've just fallen off the path.
It's time to find my way back.
12 July 2010
"You gotta know when to hold 'em,
Know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run...."
- Kenny Rogers, The Gambler
Knowing when to make an exit is a valuable skill, whether it involves a party, a visit to a friend's home, or the fellowship of a group.
When your participation in any of the above causes you more grief than it does pleasure, you know it's time to go. The cause of that grief may or may not be aware of what he or she is doing; in the best of all possible worlds, we would all have the introspection to realize when our behavior is toxic to others. Unfortunately (with apologies to Dr. Pangloss), this is not the best of all possible worlds, and confronting the source of the conflict often does more harm than good; in that event, the only other option is to remove yourself from the situation, which is exactly what I have done.
Kenny Rogers had the right of it. Now, if only I could get that damn song outta my head....
11 June 2010
And I'm not just talking about the weather!
Last night SYTYCD aired its first Hollywood show of Season 7, but the performances were a showcase for the top 11 dancers and the returning "all stars" from previous seasons - no voting yet.
I have but two words to describe it:
Nggghhhh! (That's the sound of me swallowing my tongue and drooling....)
Know who else I was delighted to see? Mark Kanemura, from Season 4. So charismatic, so talented, and so twisted - my eye kept going back to him during that routine. Whoever gets paired with him is going to have to work extra, extra hard to make themselves seen beside that man.
Oooooh! I'm getting chills. Can't wait for next week's show!
Ugh. Sooooo didn't want to wake up this morning. Srsly - I've been exhausted, both mentally and physically, and under so much stress that I've been clenching my teeth at night.
I just have to make it through today; my vacation starts at 5 PM! And then I'll have plenty of time to sleep in, sit in coffeehouses with my laptop...and buy a nighttime dental guard.
08 June 2010
Four days until vacation.
Four days until it's just me, a lovely coffee shop, and my laptop.
Four days until I can take afternoon naps with my cat.
Four days until I can take myself shoe shopping.
Four days and counting.
(Can ya tell I'm looking forward to this??!)
04 June 2010
It's taken me all week to recover from the CF that was last weekend (with my DH on call and having my sleep interrupted every four hours), and I'm *still* tired.
Thank goodness today's Friday. Tomorrow I'm going to sleep in, and when I finally do decide to get up, I'm going to hunker down with my laptop to have some more fun with writing. Yay! And after next week I'll be on vacation - also yay!! And I get to see my lovely BWC chickies, too - another yay!!!
Now all I have to do is get through today....
01 June 2010
DH has been on call all weekend for his job in the medical profession. His place of work called him at least 3 times during each day, and at least once each night, waking us both from sound sleep. After each call, it took me at least 30-45 minutes to get back to sleep.
Consequently, I'm going into what's going to be a heavy (and early) work day more than a little sleep deprived. Add to that the fact that the cat has just yarfed all over the house (three times!!), and I'm cranky, to boot.
Even if Mondays didn't exist, the first day of the work week would still kick our collective asses.
31 May 2010
Sorry for the yelling - I'm just that psyched!
I hit the three chapter mark yesterday, and could hardly believe it! I haven't written that much in over a year! w00t!
It takes me longer these days to crank out pages, but I'm not letting myself get discouraged. Some days, of course, are better than others, but I'm trying to keep up that forward momentum. My crazy work schedule is such that I have time to write only on weekends, and I find myself really looking forward to having that special one-on-one time with my laptop.
Just had to share. *grin*
28 May 2010
OMG - I just watched the first audition show for season 7 of SYTYCD, and I have but two words for it:
It made Adam Shankman hot. It made Mia want to do a ballroom chorey. And it gave me goosebumps in a very, very nice way.
The season's off to a great start, no doubt about it. So let's hear it for summer! Boo-ya!!
"Ground control to Major Tom...."
Not really, but that's what it feels like! Stage 3 of my big work project is now complete; we went live yesterday with only one minor hiccup that already has been remedied.
It was anticlimatic, as every other stage has been, but that's a good thing. I'm exhausted, truly and deeply (not to mention more than a little cranky), so it's also a good thing that there's a long weekend coming up.
Because Tuesday we have to hit the ground running. Again.
Anyone seen my track shoes?
26 May 2010
I hate stupid people, I really do.
I'm ready to work on some issues with my FOO that have been festering for a while. After wading through a total clusterf*ck between me, my EAP and a snotty "I obviously hate my job" counseling clinic receptionist two weeks ago, I thought I had come away with an appointment - today at 1:30.
But when I went to the clinic today at 1:30, the yotch of a receptionist said she had no record of me ever having scheduled an appointment.
No apology. No accepting of blame or responsibility, even though she'd obviously screwed up; they had my EAP's authorization number in their system, but not my appointment. Why in the hell did she think I showed up on this day, at this time - for funsies?! She just gave me an apathetic stare and a halfhearted offer to "try" to find me another time to see my counselor.
I wanted to leap through the glass window and strangle that stupid c*nt. Instead, I told her (and the office manager who was lurking behind her) that she'd already screwed up twice with me, and I wasn't feeling charitable enough to give her a third chance. Well, but maybe I'd think about it and call - I suggested she hold her breath until I did.
When I returned to my office to call my EAP to get a referral to another counselor, I ended up on hold for 15 minutes while they tried to find my file. By the time they located it, I had to go back to work. The EAP agent got snippy with me because I didn't want to hold a three-way conference with the stupid yotch at the clinic; the agent had absolutely no empathy for my situation, despite the fact that I was in tears by this point. She snottily said she'd have someone call me back later.
All I wanted was some help. I've been depressed and anxious for weeks leading up to and since the latest Hallmark holiday (Mother's Day). Instead, I get apathy, ignorance, and incompetence all rolled up in one putrid bundle. All I want is for people to do their jobs. All I want is some help in exorcising my demons. (And a pony, and a plastic rocket...) But all I've ended up with is a case of seething, raging, unapologetic misanthropy.
Stupid people suck.
01 May 2010
Last weekend I attended Spring Fling, the bi-annual conference hosted by Chicago-North RWA. Although I wasn't formally registered for the conference, all of my Broken Writer pals were going to be there, and we had planned an informal get together in the lobby of the hotel.
I drove down in the morning with my friend Nancy, and ended up staying all day. But instead of huddling down in a corner of the hotel lobby with my laptop the entire time, as I had thought I would, I turned a complete and total social butterfly - schmoozing, imbibing a few tasty adult beverages, and generally having a fabulous time! I felt so good that I even showed my WIP to one of my dear BWC friends, who gave me some wonderfully positive feedback. Talk about a shot in the arm!
Although I came home exhausted (as an introvert, schmoozing has that effect on me), I also came home with a renewed sense of purpose and...(wait for it)...a renewed sense of *enjoyment* for writing!
Since then, I've actually finished one of the BWC goals I set for myself - I finished the first chapter of my new WIP. And this weekend, once my chores are done, I'm going to continue my headlong plunge toward finishing chapter two.
I can't wait!!
10 April 2010
Magic. Mojo. The Groove.
Call it what you will, "it" has been noticeably missing from my writing life for the past...well...years. All the joy I once had for writing was totally and utterly kaput; every session at the keyboard was filled more with angst than productivity, or even enjoyment.
Ever since my divorce I've been on a journey of self-discovery. Most recently, it's been that my writing troubles do not stem from the emotional gulag that was my marriage and divorce; they go back much further, to my family of origin (FOO). Getting through this process has been akin to clawing my way through a labyrinth of thorns - horribly painful, but there's no other way out.
As a result, I'm writing again - and enjoying it. When I sit down at the keyboard, all that matters is the story in my head, and getting it out onto the screen. It's the first thing on my mind when I wake up, and even when I'm at my day job. Trust me - this hasn't happened in *years.*
Now, I'm not saying I'm cured - far from it. My Inner Editor, fueled by a lifetime of casual, hateful criticisms from my narcissistic mother, still has the power to cripple me. At least now I can recognize this roadblock for what it is; I'm becoming more and more adept at blockade running.
I suspect this will be an ongoing battle; writing, as a process, will never be as easy for me as it is for some. But it's MINE again, at least for the moment. And I couldn't be happier.
03 April 2010
The weather has been beautiful this past week - sunny and warm. Crocus and daffodil are starting to bloom, and we winter-weary Wisconsinites are venturing out of our holes, pale-faced and pasty, to blink incredulously at the sun. Time to put away the sweaters, the wool socks, the turtlenecks and winter parkas, and bring out the capris and the - gasp! - open-toed shoes! Woohoo!
Even now I'm going through my nail polish, trying to pick out the perfect pedicure color. I can't wait!
What's your favorite facet of spring?
20 March 2010
The first day of spring, and it's snowing.
Welcome to Wisconsin.
Time to hunker down with a cup of tea and some contest entries and hope this shizzle melts by Monday.
Have a good weekend, everyone!
13 March 2010
When I was 10, I started writing stories about characters from my favorite TV shows. I filled notebook after notebook with longhand pencil scrawl. I never finished anything; all my scribblings were just for fun, and centered around the immediacy of getting scene ideas out of my head and onto the page.
That's what I really miss about writing - being so into just one scene, one idea, that I can't wait to get it down on paper. Never mind scene structure. Never mind plot arc, character arc, or any other writing rules. Just pure, unadulterated fun.
When I was writing for publication, writing became a chore. Despite my best intentions, I struggled to meet deadlines. Although I produced some fine stories, it wrung me out. The joy disappeared from my life.
Now, I have very good friends for whom the opposite is true: they produce fine stories, can write quickly, and are having the time of their lives developing their writing careers. I am tickled pink for them; they deserve to enjoy every single moment.
The point of all this rambling is that I've taken a very hard look at my life, at all the angst I've been putting myself through over writing, and have come to the conclusion that I'm happy with my life the way it is right now. I enjoy my day job; I enjoy it much more than I ever did my writing career, such as it was. And I want to rediscover the joy that I had as a 10-year-old, bent over a notebook, scribbling away, oblivious to the rest of the world.
So for now, I'm content to be a recreational writer. No goals, no pressure, no expectations. When an idea strikes, I want to be able to write about it for its own sake and have fun doing it. I may never publish again, and strangely, I'm okay with that. My writing is once more my own.
06 March 2010
My back is feeling better; it's not 100% yet, but I'm no longer white-faced with pain. The weather is gorgeous; the cat is a purring bundle of happiness on her sun-drenched perch in our bedroom. I just finished ordering my DH's birthday presents, and I actually managed to find some things he did NOT suggest. Speaking of DH, he just came home from shopping and brought me a new bottle of hot pink, very spring-tastic nail polish.
And I'm working on not one, but TWO fun stories.
A better weekend all the way around.
01 March 2010
Not sure how I did this, but I pulled a muscle in my lower back this weekend.
OMG. I'm in total pain - can't even sleep. Been taking Aleve, but all it does is dull the achy, shooting sensations that, when I stand for an extended period of time, go all the way down my left leg.
Muscle relaxants, anyone?
15 February 2010
Well, not really, but it sorta feels like it. Today's a bank holiday, which means I have the day off. Boo-ya!
What to do, what to do?
Well, there's the usual maintenance stuff (laundry, clean house, work out), but it's not going to take me all day.
Think I'll settle down with a book and my laptop, and read and write by turns.
I love days like this!
05 February 2010
That's what I feel like at the moment.
Work has me running around like mad - we're one week post-launch of our new product at my job, and we're discovering all the things that don't work the way they're supposed to, which has all of us scrambling to fix things ASAP. I've been working overtime, which has meant being at the office by 7 AM and not leaving until 5 or 6 o'clock in the evening.
And, to top it off, I can't sleep.
Once the weekend hits, and I get some errands out of the way, I'm going to raise the drawbridge, lower the portcullis, stock the moat with ravenous, telelmarketer-eating alligators, and snuggle down in my footie pajamas with my kitty and a good book or three.
Wake me up when it's Monday.
20 January 2010
I know now why I'm having so much trouble writing of late. Previously, I'd ascribed my angst to my divorce and the ensuing yearlong trauma that process produced. Now I'm not so sure that's the case.
One of the gifts I got for my recent birthday was the book Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcisisstic Mothers, by Karyl McBride. As part of the recovery process, the author recommends journaling to purge oneself of the anger, betrayal, and sense of loss that comes from being raised by a narcissistic parent. I started my journal yesterday, and made a horrifying discovery.
In addition to repeatedly calling me a difficult child, criticizing my hairstyle at every opportunity (she likes my hair very short, which makes my face look even rounder and fatter), denigrating my taste in clothes and jewelry, and giving away my cherished possessions, I realized while journaling that my mother has never supported my writing aspirations.
After I sold my first book, a feat of which I was enormously proud, my mother said something along these lines: "That's nice, but I always thought you had something literary in you."
In other words, since my book wasn't literary fiction, what I'd accomplished wasn't nearly good enough. To this day, I'm not even sure she's read anything I've written.
Wow. (cue gazillion-watt lightbulb overhead)
For years, I've swum upstream first against my mother's narcissism and my father's catering to her, then against the narcissism of my ex-husband. I've been drowning in it - messages that I don't matter, that I'm not good enough and never will be. No wonder my Inner Critic is so hateful; she's been parroting back messages learned at the hands of these bastards.
Well, I've had it. This is where I stand up and say, "No more!" I'm a worthy person, a good writer, and I cannot, will not allow anyone to tell me I'm not. I realize this will not happen overnight; it will take a while for me to deprogram myself from years of narcissistic abuse. But I am determined, and I will prevail.
15 January 2010
I have the day off from work today. Given that my last "vacation" was anything but relaxing, and that my current company assignment is working me to a frazzle, I thought I'd give myself a break and take time to stop and smell the roses. (At least, I would if it wasn't the dead of winter.)
Sure, I have a gazillion things to do today in preparation for my day of writing tomorrow - errands, cleaning house, laundry, all kinds of not-fun stuff - but I realize I'm happy. Happy to not have to get up at 4 AM to work out, happy to be able to spend extra time at the computer with the cat on my lap, and just...happy.
It's a wonderful feeling.
14 January 2010
Have you ever had an idea that just won't leave you alone? I have...only this idea is a character I created many years ago.
After my divorce, I did manage to complete an entire manuscript - a rambling, hopelessly flawed thing - but gave it up after a couple of years of trying to rewrite it, with little success.
But my love for the lead character persists to this day; in fact, she won't leave me alone. I read back over my first, failed manuscript and my revamp attempts, and realized that the problem wasn't my heroine, it was what I'd done with her.
I've been taking a break from writing these past few weeks, trying to decide if it's time for me to give it up entirely. But this character fascinates me, prods my imagination so much that I have to admit I am *not* ready to give up yet!
My birthday is this Saturday, and I've decided that my gift to myself will be a full day of leisurely, uninterrupted writing. I want to find out what this character has to tell me.
I can't wait!!
05 January 2010
Smiling and laughing, my narcissistic mother uttered those words to me and DH as the two of us decamped (prematurely and in haste) from my parents' home last September, after having had our fill of insults and humiliation.
She stopped smiling when I finished that infamous phrase for her: "Just go away - right, Mom?"
Now, of course, she and my father are trying to act like that debacle never happened, down to sending me gifts for appropriate occasions. But the thing is, now the gifts are mere tokens, articles that manage to convey their disapproval, yet show the world they're making an effort. The token gesture this Christmas was a one-pound tin of stale, chocolate covered nuts, addressed just to me.
Can you feel the love?
I received another such item last night, in a telltale Amazon box. (My birthday is approaching, you see.) With the care of a bomb squad agent, I gingerly opened the gift receipt before even looking at the wrapped item within: it was a cookie cookbook, with the gift message "Now you can continue to be a hit where you work!" Gee, thanks. As if my two promotions last year hinged exclusively on my culinary skills. The title might as well have been Baking for Bootlicks. Nice.
I would have been happier had they sent nothing at all, but appearances are everything to my parents. And of course, if I don't send a proper thank you, they'll whinge to everyone and sundry about what an ungrateful child I am. I'm sure they've already sung that song, but what's one more refrain?
Aarrrggghhh! I'm furious and despondent by turns. The rational part of me knows they'll never change, never admit wrongdoing. The irrational part of me, the part that still holds a shred of hope, is dying a slow death.
But I will not bow down to tyrants, bullies, and narcissists - been there, done that, and my self-esteem is still paying the price. I'm returning this "gift" to get something I really want, and moving forward with my life.