It's funny how things pile up. It is even stranger to contemplate how circumstances seem to arise in bunches and clumps. Alternative circumstances and choices seem to sprout up at once, like toadstools after a rain. If nothing else, it certainly makes life interesting. I live like a hermit. I live in a mostly comfortable, habitual routine. For as little time in my life that I spend not living like a hermit, I am often shocked at how much turbulence, either for good or for ill, can find its way into my circumstances. It makes me wonder about people who are so much more "engaged" in the hurly-burly than I am. How do they manage? Perhaps they don't. I know so many many people who are taking medications of one kind or another to deal with reality and their lives. Maybe that is why. I can't even begin to imagine that set of circumstances and choices. In this society, in our quest to be "free" we have discarded so much. We have thrown away history, tradition, religion, locality, family. We have tried to rid ourselves of superstition. I think the jury is still out on that last one. I see so much of superstition, even in people who are vehement about being entirely free of its influence. I think we have only moderate success in freeing ourselves of self-delusion, if at all, really. Rationality is a demanding task-master, but one does not flunk out of his tuition and prosper. Do we prosper, really, today?
I wonder how many people remark upon this process, this journal keeping, that ironically, the more that happens in our lives the more difficult it is to sit down and write about. I wonder if people can be divided into two classes on this criterion: those who would agree with my assessment of irony and those who just don't see it. Does humanity divide down the middle on the question or is the division asymmetric? My elder daughter once said that a lot can happen in three weeks. When I first heard her say it, I found it amusing. She lives at the pace of a teenager; almost nothing radical happens on the scale of three weeks, in my life.
I guess that started changing the first week of February. Jackie decided that she wanted to move in with me in Livermore — by the end of the month. Of course I told her that she was welcome but I was concerned that she would be dropping out of classes in the middle of the semester to accomplish such a move. Apparently, she had begun feeling pretty uncomfortable with the situation at Crystal's house. She and Crystal's spouse have a problematical personality mix and they but heads frequently. She was also concerned about the cramped nature of the accommodations in Sacramento. Crystal had been looking for a new house at the time, but there were four adults, one teenager, and two children living in the house. So anyway, with a little reluctantly given advice, given the precipitous nature of the desired move, Jackie began to look into transferring her job, and her school credits to accommodate moving to Livermore. Naturally, her mother and I wanted her to finish up the semester in which she was presently enrolled before uprooting herself and moving in with me. Other than that though, I was actually looking forward to having Jackie's company at my house. Crystal and I decided to see if we could encourage Jackie to finish out the semester up in Sacramento before moving. We got her to agree to go out to lunch and dinner with us where we could discuss things and see if we could come to some more academically friendly arrangement.
I went up there on the 19th of February. We went out to Jamba Juice for a snack in the afternoon, since it was too late for lunch and too early for supper. The first thing I heard from Jackie was that the move was off and that she was going to finish out the semester and remain with her mom in Sacramento. I was surprised, because I was expecting that it was going to be problematical for Crystal and I to get her to agree to do just that. There's always a catch. The second bit of news out of her mouth was that she is pregnant and I am due to become a grandfather sometime in mid-October. Jackie is staying in Sacramento in order to profit from her mother's availability and advice, not that I can fault that reasoning. What a shock. Apparently, she is one of the two percent of women who experience the statistical limits of protection afforded by birth control pills. I am happy that she's made what I believe is the right decision in not going out and getting an abortion, but she'd broken up with her boyfriend a month previously. Things on that front are still up in the air with respect to the baby. They've certainly decided that they don't have any future with each other, but what kind of arrangements for the child are going to be made are still in a state of limbo with regard to him. Obviously, Crystal and I are going to do whatever it takes to make sure Jackie and the baby are secure, but what role Jackie's ex-boyfriend is going to have in things remains undecided.
So, sometime in October, if all goes well, I am going to be a grandfather...at 46. Somehow, I always believed that I would be in my 50's at least, before facing that particular prospect. It's kind of strange to contemplate. I knew both sets of my grandparents. They were both married. When I first was divorced that's one of the things I thought about — what would it be like to be a single grandparent. It just seems strange and unnatural to me. I guess I get my chance to find that out as well. It feels strange to me, to seemingly be pulled between generations like this. People of generations prior to mine tend to find the modern zeitgeist confounding. People of younger generations than mine don't seem to have reference to the cultural history (and thank you, modern education). People of my generation are caught in the middle of this apparent sea change. My parents are going to be great-grandparents, I am going to be a grandparent...and I am still flirting with the idea of dating. However unlikely it is, the potential is certainly there, that I could end up dating, and subsequently being in an intimate relationship with a woman for whom conception is not yet inconceivable. I'm still not even entirely certain how I feel about this, but I've certainly spoken with women who are younger than forty and are still entertaining the idea of having children of their own. I am of two minds on the subject, and the potential seems a bit far away at this point, given that I'm not even dating anyone consistently, yet, but still, there sits Jackie's observation like a portent: a lot can happen in three weeks. Ever since she said it, it seems my life has been bent periodically upon proving to me that her observation is truth.
Again, it's funny how serendipity sneaks up on you sometimes. I've actually been pretty much out of the dating frame of mind this year — at least for the first two months. I was chatting with my friend prettypoet43 about the vagaries of dating sometime in the first week of March and we each mentioned having a profile on OkStupid. I got curious to see her page and she gave me a link. Prior to this, my flirtation with that site had been sporadic. I think I had visited once every other week, at most frequent, this year. Nevertheless, after looking over E.'s page, I dropped back over to my home page, where, among other bits of information, OkStupid randomly displays, upon page refresh, pictures of three nearby users whom OkStupid thinks would make a good match for you. Well, when I popped up the home page, there she was, someone whose picture caught my attention.
At that point I clicked the link, expecting to check out her page and find that I wasn't all that intrigued by what she had to say about herself. I guess I'm kind of "fussy" about that. If someone doesn't have something interesting to say about themselves then I usually don't bother contacting them, regardless of what they look like, because then it is more of a crap-shoot for what kind of person is going to answer, if she answers at all. A pretty face is a blessing, but it is not really a substitute for intelligence, wisdom, humor, spirit, etc. Perhaps I have been spoiled by my other LJ friends who use OkStupid. I love reading people who can write, and that is who I like to add to my LJ friends list. Consequently, my friends are the kind of people who make very interesting profile reading when they join OkStupid. Many of them make me wish they lived closer. Alas though, I have found that a large percentage of OkStupid's membership is not as erudite or as interesting as the people on my LJ friends list, at least on their profile pages. I was prepared to be unimpressed, which is kind of why I had previously not been visiting the site regularly. I periodically become convinced that the on line dating venue is not really something that works well for me. On the other hand, I have met a few interesting people there. I guess my opinion of the site varies with my mood.
So, I went to look at the profile page of the lady with the nice eyes and got pleasantly surprised. Her profile was one of the better ones I have read. It certainly had a lot of things on it that appealed to me personally. The page paints a picture of someone creative, intelligent, sensitive, self-assured, witty, ambitious, friendly, an individualist — and not twenty miles away. Now I'm intrigued. I dropped her a friendly note, commenting on her page. I got back a cute three word comment on my note, but it opened up an avenue of discussion, so I sent her a letter on the topic. We've been exchanging e-mails and a couple of chats. The profile was obviously not ghost-written — she's coming off "in person" as interesting as her page implies. I've been trying to talk her into going out for a cup of coffee with me but she's expressed some misgivings about being ready to date again due to a recent painful relationship experience. OkStupid can't be helping on that score. She's claimed that she's kind of "over" OkStupid and hasn't been back since Friday. I've heard horror stories from some women about some of the mail they've gotten there. It's easier for guys, straight ones, at least, in that if we don't write we don't generally hear anything, so we only tend to get mail from women in whom we have some interest and with whom we have taken the initiative and sent an introductory note. Women, on the other hand, or straight ones, at least, tend to get notes from any male who can manage to find the letters on his keyboard and put some of them together into words. I'd be discouraged, but she did give me her "real" e-mail address and tells me that it is all right to write her there. That's how I got started talking to Kara.
Saturday morning I got a call from a friend, for whom I hold more than a little affection, telling me that a couple of hours prior, she'd been in a fight with her husband. It had turned pretty ugly and he had hit her. My estimation of this guy has managed to fall a peg or two every time I hear something about him. I have heard subsequently that they have arranged separate living accommodations for the next couple of weeks while she figures things out, and subsequent to that, I heard word from her that things have gone completely sideways. It looks like the situation, her marriage and all, are just disintegrating around her, all in the space of the past few days. I feel bad for her. She's in an awful situation and I can only imagine what she's going through. When my wife left, at least I had a stable environment and financial situation, and that was bad enough, just having the emotional ramifications and household logistics with which to deal. Even if one can obtain a measure of cold objectivity and consider that it was perhaps a series of unwise choices that got her into this mess, how can anyone say that she has deserved the unhappiness and stress that the consequences appear to be bringing her? I know I can't say that. It's just awful, no matter how it is sliced. There seem to be so very few indulgences granted by reality for valiant efforts and good intentions. Only people can do that, and it occurs to me that we often times do not cut each other much slack.
I got a call from my mother Monday evening. She's getting hip-replacement surgery and she finds out Tuesday when she's scheduled to go in for that. It should be happening in the next couple of days. She's been putting everything in order to be ready for the long recuperative process. Mom told me that Judy, a cousin of mine, killed herself with an overdose of pills, apparently within the past couple of days. She'd moved to Arizona some years ago and I haven't seen her in years. The family grapevine has it that her second husband had asked for a divorce. I come from a large family, on my father's side. Judy's father, Jim, one of Dad's brothers, died a couple of years ago of a heart attack. Judy's mother, my aunt by marriage, died some years ago in a freak auto accident on her way to work. Judy's husband called my uncle's "widowed girlfriend" (how weird is that?) and told her the news. Jim's girlfriend called an aunt of mine, who relayed the news to another aunt, who told my mother. I remember my brother and I playing with Judy and her sisters as children, at my grandparents' house. I liked her. Of my uncle's four children, I would have thought that she was least likely to do something like this, but maybe, in hindsight, maybe it's not completely surprising. She was one of the quiet emotional types. It's such a shame though. My uncle's family has been such a tragedy. It never ceases to amaze me how difficult people's lives can become.