Thursday, January 31, 2008

What Do You Think? Strikes Again Dept

What did you think about the State of the Union Address? I have to agree with Adam Leatham, Crossing Guard:

"He's right. No one can deny the results of No Child Left Behind, because thanks to the program, no one has any basic reasoning skills."

(For readers new to the blog, among the many ways in which Shrub -- i.e., the Little Bush, to steal Molly Ivins's untoppable nickname for Dubya -- annoys the heck out of me, the indefensible No Child Left Behind program is very near the top of the list.)

By the way, why would any Republican vote for John McCain for President? If it's McCain versus Obama, I'm voting for Obama. I mean, if you're going to elect a Democrat, wouldn't you generally prefer to get one from the Democratic Party? I'm not a Republican myself and don't have any particular objection to watching those of you who are make fools of yourselves, but why would any Republican want to be governed by Democratic policies whose failures were guaranteed to be blamed on the Republican Party? If you don't believe the ideas and policies of the Democratic Party are a bad idea, why are you a Republican? If you do, why would you vote for McCain?

I'm seriously befuddled here, by the way, not just goofing off. McCain would make sense to me as a challenger of Obama and Hillary for the Democratic nomination. But I can't for the life of me figure out what Republicans see in him.

Lack of Realism in Evan Almighty Dept.

If God really were to choose a modern-day Noah, my irrepressible friend Tina points out, He'd find the real-life going a lot tougher than He does in Hollywood make-believe...

And it came to pass, in the fourth day of the sixth month, that Noah settled in the land of Massachusettes. And behold, the LORD spake unto Noah and said, "Again hath the earth become wicked, and it repenteth me that ever I made man, and behold, I see the end of all flesh before me. In three years, I shall cause to open the floodgates of heaven, and every living thing that walks on the earth shall perish. But thou, Noah, shalt build thee an ark, and thou and thy family shall I save. Thou shalt take onto the ark two of every living kind of animal; male and female shalt thou take onto the ark with thee, and thus shall I replenish the earth when after I have caused the waters to recede and the dry land again to appear.”

And God did give Noah plans for the ark. And God said, “On this day three years hence shall I come to you again. Be thou ready.”

And it came to pass that on the appointed day God returned to Noah, in dark clouds and great wind. But Noah was found standing alone before his tent, weeping in dismay, for there was no ark.

And God waxed wroth, and demanded of Noah that he justify himself before God. And Noah pleaded for God’s mercy, saying, “Oh LORD, Thou knowest that I am now a stranger in the strange land of Massachusettes. And I began to build the ark as thou didst command. But the rulers of this land demanded of me a building permit, and the marshall of fires required of me that I install a sprinkler system, and my neighbors did brandish before mine eyes the covenants of building and did show therein restrictions of height. Therefore did I seek justice from the Development Appeal Board; but they have scheduled my hearing for next month.

“Then also did the Department of Transportation demand of me a bond for the future costs of moving power lines and overhead obstructions in clearing a way for the ark to proceed to the sea; nor would they hear me howeversomany times I did urge upon them Thy word that the sea would make a way to the ark without the hand of any man.

“Nor would the Environmental Protection Agency allow me to set the ax to the root of any tree, for it is forbidden to cut the forests in these lands, lest the spotted owl should perish; nor would they hear me howeversomany times I did urge upon them Thy word that the spotted owl shall verily perish and disappear from the face of the earth if so be that I fail to build the ark. And they did rule that it should not be allowed unto me to build any ark until they had completed an environmental impact study on Thy proposed flood; nor do they propose to begin this study of which they speak until six months from next Christmas.

“And also did the vile servants of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals fight against Thy holy will, for they did file suit against me, and did name Thee as a co-respondent, charging cruelty and inhumanity to animals, for that the stables within the ark were not in their eyes adequate for long confinement – though verily I do believe that their lawsuit is filed under false pretences and is merely an act of malice against Thee, for that they be yet pissed off over that whole sacrifice thing.

“Further, O LORD, know Thou that the Human Rights Commission and the United Construction Workers of America have filed a joint restraining order against me lest I and my sons build the ark, for the trade unions say that my sons lack adequate experience, having built only a single ark in earlier days, and the Human Rights Commission doth accuse thy servant of nepotism and of not hiring minorities; nor would they hear me howeversomany times I did urge upon them that my sons and I are Jews, for they say that the sons of Israel are too successful to count as minorities and that we oppress others rather than being oppressed ourselves; and indeed both the University of California at Berkeley and the Nation of Islam did sign amicus briefs taking the part of Thine enemies.

“The Department of Homeland Security did discover that neither I nor my family had passports or green cards, and that our homeland is in the Middle East. But of that, O LORD, Thou needest not concern Thyself, for that was lo these three years ago, and behold, it now seemeth that the Department of Homeland Security hath forgotten where we live. But it is not so with the Internal Revenue Service, which hath seized all my assets because I cannot produce my tax returns for the years of 266 and 267 B.C. And lastly, O LORD, the Department of the Interior hath filed criminal charges against me, claiming that I have conspired to export endangered species beyond the borders of this land with no export permit.

“So, O LORD, now do I beat my breast and plead Thy mercy, for I see not how I could build Thy ark in less than twoscore years.”

Then did the sky clear, and the sun shone brightly, and God set a rainbow in the sky as a sign. Then was Noah struck with wonder, and he asked of God, “O LORD, hast Thou truly in Thy mercy changed Thy mind, and wilt Thou now truly not destroy the world?”

But the LORD answered him, saying, “Verily, it is too late for that; for thy government hath beaten me to it.”

Monday, January 28, 2008

Moving day

Well, in the end, I didn't get the apartment I wanted...but having just received in the mail a $2,500 bill from my lawyer I think it's safe to say I couldn't have afforded the one I wanted anyway. So I suppose we wound up in the right place.

It wound up being a mad scramble at the end, because Kristina, last Thursday night, begged me to find some way to let her stay in the Stafford school district. That would be because she absolutely loves Stafford High School, making this the first time since she set foot in America that she has gotten up every morning excited about going to school. Well, that counts for a lot for me, and I talked it over seriously with Anya and Natasha and they both told me they would rather stay in Stafford. So I told them, "Okay, guys, here's the deal: I am not going to be homeless. So I am due to sign that lease for the apartment up near Memorial and Dairy Ashford on the 29th -- and I am going to sign a lease on the 29th. Either we find a place AND we like it AND we can afford it AND they approve us, and it ALL happens in time for me to sign a lease on the 29th -- or else we move to Dairy Ashford on the 29th. Because I WILL sign a lease on the 29th."

Then we spent an hour driving around in the car scouting nearby apartment complexes, and I hunted up a map of the Stafford MSD boundaries on the web and spent another four hours on and sending out e-mails to every apartment complex within the district explaining the situation. And much to my surprise we got a response, from an apartment complex a half-mile from Duane's house -- only two-bedroom (though not actually all that much smaller than the squeezed-in three-bedroom apartment that was Plan B), but I got a month's rent free even with a six-month lease, and they gave me $50/month off their market rent, bringing me in $150/month below the other place -- and that's not counting what I'll save on gas by being able to keep carpooling with Duane. Easily a thousand-dollar difference in the first month (which, as soon as I got that lawyer bill, assumed a great deal more importance). There was only one problem -- they looked to be right near the district border. So I asked them if they were in the Stafford MSD or in Ft. Bend ISD -- and they told me that of their twelve buildings, nine were in the Ft. Bend district and three were in the Stafford district (the city limit, it turns out, runs smack through the middle of the apartment complex).

"Um, this is kind of important, because the whole point is to stay in the Stafford school district...which building is the one with the apartment you have available for immediate move-in?"

"That's in Building Two."

"Is that one of the Stafford buildings?"

"Yes, it is."

So I applied on Friday, they approved us and I signed a lease on Saturday, we cleaned out the storage facility and dumped everything in the new living room on Sunday as my parents pulled out of West Virginia and headed for Stafford, and tonight we'll move most our personal stuff over and buy groceries and actually sleep in our own apartment. Tomorrow morning my parents get here and they will take over all the settling-in logistics (such as, for example, dealing with the fact that Kristina has a 3:00 job interview and that I have no furniture other than air mattresses and bookshelves) so that I can, for the first time in two weeks, focus properly on my job.

And on Friday Desiree gets back, and for the first time in months she'll be able to live in her own house without having to put up with me.

So while money remains very, very tight (and will for the foreseeable future as I don't foresee any alterations in Dessie's tactics that would allow me to stop running up legal bills), the housing situation is at last settled, and while it's not a perfect situation there's enough to like about it for me to breathe a sigh of relief that's the result of two weeks of breath-holding.

Thanks so much for all your prayers.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Papa's Education as a Single Dad of Teenaged Daughters Commences

A couple of weekends ago I was going through one of my typically hectic weekends-with-the-kids in which I scramble around trying to get time with each one of them while also getting them properly dispatched on their various social errands. Late Sunday afternoon I was working my way through my to-do list, which included (a) dropping Merry off at a youth group event at her church, (b) getting my hair cut (already postponed about a month beyond reason), (c) ferrying Anya to Walgreens to pick up her medicine, (d) picking Merry back up after the youth group event ended, and (e) picking up Sean and Kegan from their friend Cameron's house, a task complicated by the fact that I didn't know where Cameron's house was exactly and still hadn't gotten the call from Sean to give me directions.

No, no, no need for pity, I'm used to this stuff.

I dropped Merry off, Anya and I got the prescriptions, and I raced off to the little $4-men's-haircuts barbershop to which I habitually, albeit infrequently, resort, but which I was afraid was about to close since it was right at 5:00 already. I was relieved to find that they were scheduled to stay open until 6:00. Anya and I walked in and sat down to wait my turn. And then Anya informed me that she wanted to get her hair cut.

Now that was a bit of a surprise to me because (a) she's very proud, and rightfully so, of her long hair, which (b) had not been cut since she set foot in America two years ago. But she had enough of a balance in her checking account to cover it. (Since she was over 18 and therefore not included in child support payments even while she was living with Dessie, I paid extra child support directly to Anya to help cover expenses that I knew Dessie wouldn't be able to help her with, such as clothes and...well, haircuts.) Actually at the time she had a ton of money in that account because I had temporarily misplaced the debit card for my main account, and had transferred a big chunk of money into Anya's account because I still had the debit card for that one. But even allowing for the fact that most of the money was really mine and not hers, she had enough to get her hair cut if she wanted to. So, sure, fine with me.

Now, Anya knew how she wanted her hair cut. Only, she only knew it in Russian. She informed me confidently (in Russian), because generally speaking she has confidence in her papa's competence, "Papa, I want a 'ladder' haircut."

But while her papa may be competent in many fields, the designation of young ladies' hairstyles is not one of said fields. I had no more clue than the man in the moon of what a "ladder" haircut might be, or of what English term one would use when requesting it from a Vietnamese hairdresser. It turns out, though, that hairdressers keep these big books full of pictures of different hairstyles, I presume for the sole purpose of assisting single papas of Russian-speaking teenaged daughters. Very thoughtful of them.

So Anya hunts through the books and finds something close to what she wants.

But this causes a new and disturbing development. Lots of the women in those pictures have streaks of blondeness in their hair, or, to use the English technical term that even I in my male cluelessness am able to remember, "highlights." (In passing, I have always wondered what would possess anybody to name a children's magazine after a beauty treatment? Very bizarre. Probably some sort of subliminal-message plot. But I digress.) And now Anya informs me that she would like to have blonde highlights added while she's at it.

I check my watch and silently tell myself, "Uh-uh, no way, gotta pick Merry up at 6:00 and I bet it takes a lot longer to do a woman's hair than my four-dollar haircut's gonna take." But, you know, I don't want to be unreasonable. So when the lady right in front of us finishes with her customer and looks at us, I ask her, "Do you have time to put blonde highlights in her hair?"

The hairdresser looks at her watch and, to my surprise, says, "Sure, I have time." I silently observe to myself, "Wow, I figured that would be a major undertaking...guess you learn something new every day." So I tell Anya, "Okay, fine, go ahead." Her face lights up with a smile so big it almost forces her eyes closed, and she settles, still beaming, into the chair. And since just at that time one of the male barbers pops over to ask if I'm ready for my haircut, I tootle off to the other side of the shop.

A few minutes later I'm done and I'm paying. I figure I'll pay for both of us since it's all coming out of Anya's account anyway: four dollars for me, and fifty dollars for Anya (the relative cost of hair care is Reason #337 I'm glad I'm a guy, Reasons #1 through #336 having to do with the number of months between age 12 and age 40). I add a ten-dollar tip because I've glanced back over in Anya's direction and she's still beaming and I appreciate the fact that the lady is making my daughter so happy.

I go back and sit down to wait for Anya to finish, noting with a bit of surprise that the hairdresser appears still to be cutting hair; I would have figured she'd be doing the highlight thing by this point. I check my watch; yes, we do seem to be a bit behind schedule. Wow, they must have that highlighting process down cold.

My barber walks up and babbles something to me in heavily-accented English that I'm not paying much attention to, but he seems to be asking whether he's supposed to share the tip with the girl who's working on Anya's hair; so I tell him, "Sure, of course." He drops a five-dollar bill on the girl's workbench and walks off...and then I realize that he asked if I wanted him to "split" the tip with her -- which he has just done fifty-fifty, in the process trousering a five-dollar tip for a four-dollar haircut. This honks me off so much I decide I probably had better not say anything about it because there's a good chance I'll be intemperant in my remonstrations. Besides, the hairdresser is trying to ask me about the whole adoption thing and I don't want to be rude to her. Plus Anya, to judge from her general demeanor of delight, seems to be enjoying herself and I wouldn't want to dampen the party.

The hairdresser now goes to work on the highlighting. This process turns out to involve taking what seems to be pretty much one hair at a time, slapping dye on it, and folding in up in six layers of tinfoil, and then moving on to the next individual hair. I realize, with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, that the reason the hairdresser has assured me that she has time to do this highlighting thing, is that she has every intention of staying at work late in order to finish, and that there is no way on God's green earth she's finishing by 6:00.

What's more, I still haven't heard from Sean, whom I was supposed to pick up (along with Kegan) at least an hour ago.

I excuse myself and step outside to try to figure out what to do. I check my watch: 5:45, and I'm due to pick Merry up at the church at 6:00. I stick my head back in and tell Anya I'll be back, and then I head for the church. The first few doors I try are locked but then somebody lets me in, and I make my way back to the youth area, where I discover that, even though it's 6:00, they're jamming away to praise and worship music with clearly no intent of stopping anytime soon. Apparently I had the time wrong and was supposed to be here at 6:30.

I head back for the hairdresser's, trying to figure out how in the world I'm going to find the boys. I can't think of anything other than to call the Williamses, where Sean and Kegan have been spending lots of their time since Dessie and I separated, to see if they know Cameron's number. I call, and one of the Williams kids answers, and to my surprise (and relief) she informs me that Sean and Kegan and Cameron actually never got around to leaving for Cameron's house and are still there at the Williamses -- and that house, I can find. I get Sean on the phone and tell him to expect me around 6:45, and by the time I hang up I'm pulling into the parking lot at the hairdresser's.

Anya is no longer in the seat where I left her. The hairdresser tells me that Anya is getting her hair dried and -- to my relief -- that "she's almost done." She sends me over to the back part of the shop where the big hair-dryers are (I didn't realize they still used those things, by the way), so that I can sit on a chair and talk to my daughter...though I'm not sure what conversation I'm supposed to have with a girl who has an industrial-sized hair dryer pulled down over her head and turned up on high. I wait patiently for a couple of minutes and then the hairdresser comes back and turns off the hair dryer.

But then she marches Anya over to a sink and starts to wash her hair.

I'm thinking, "What the heck?" In the first place, um, I realize I'm not an expert here, but wouldn't you ordinarily wash your hair and then dry it, not the other way around? And in the second place, does this mean...oh, great Caesar's ghost, it does. "She's almost done" didn't really mean she was almost ready to go -- it just meant she was almost done with the hair-drying stage, or, rather, since I presume they're going to have to dry her hair again now that they've soaked it so enthusiastically, she was almost done with Hair-Drying Stage One.

I start worrying that I'll be late for picking Merry up at 6:30.

We proceed back to the hairdressing chair where all this started. Anya has just gotten her first look in the mirror at the new 'do, and she is floating on air...and I have to admit it looks very nice. A very immodestly-dressed, but apparently good-natured, teenaged girl has settled into the nearby waiting area and is perusing those big books, which causes me to assume that she also speaks only Russian. But that assumption is proved false when she immediately strikes up a vigorous conversation with Anya and the hairdresser about how great Anya's hair looks, and what color dye Anya was using (there's some sort of number code, apparently, and this girl seemed to have committed most of the number code to memory). The hairdresser is chirpily explaining how Dye #10 goes perfectly with Anya's natural hair color and Anya is explaining why she wanted her hair cut the way she did and the immodest-but-well-meaning teenager is talking, with many exclamation points, about how well it suits Anya...oh, blah blah blah I am so not a part of this conversation.

But I wish you could see how happy Anya looks. I'm trying to remember when I've seen her this happy and nothing comes to mind. In fact I go out to the car and get my camera, and to Anya's momentary horror, and subsequent outraged amusement, I pretend I'm going to take a picture of her there in the hairdresser's chair. The hairdresser asks me some more questions about the adoption and how Anya came to live in America, and I answer them while Anya sits there, smiling, to steal one of Brother Dave's more vivid phrases, "likeunto a 'possum."

Almost done now. I'm just going to have to apologize to Merry for being late. But suddenly the hairdresser stops drying Anya's hair for a moment, looks me in the eye, and asks me a question I hadn't seen coming at all. I hadn't realized it was so obvious that, even though I didn't know anything about the whole hairdressing experience and was bored and mystified by it, still I was delighted to see Anya so happy. Also I sometimes forget that people who have not adopted children themselves don't understand how little love really has to do with biology. At any rate, the hairdresser stops what she's doing and asks me, with an air of wonderment:

"So how is it possible for you to love her as much as you do?"

All I could say was, "She's my daughter." And I felt like that pretty much said it all -- or at least, if you couldn't understand it from that, then I wouldn't be able to make you understand it even if I spent a week trying.

Finally, at 6:35, the hairdresses pronounces herself finished. I leave an extra five dollars to repair the damage done by the barbarous misallocation of my original tip, and we hustle out to the car and race to the church...where, to my astonishment, the party still shows no sign of slowing up. Maybe it was supposed to go to 7:00? I'm late for picking up Sean and Kegan now; so Anya and I buzz over to the Williamses' and get the boys, and we head back for the house, and just as I'm dropping them off the phone rings: Merry, saying, "Dad, you need to come pick me up." Believe me, kid, I'm tryin', I'm tryin.'

So, in the end, it all got done, though not because of my mastery of organization and planning. And I now know much more than I did when I started about what it's like to get your hair done when you're a twenty-year-old girl rather than a forty-year-old guy who gets four-dollar haircuts. I presume this new knowledge may someday come in handy.

And I wound up with a very, very happy daughter; so I'll close this post with a picture:

On pain and failure and perfection

This is an excellent article throughout, but the final quote from legendary wrestler Dan Gable takes it to a different level, and says an awful lot, I think, about the reasons God allows catastrophe into our lives -- and the role our own attitudes play in determining whether that catastrophe accomplishes what God had in mind.

Gable's life is defined -- by himself as much as anybody -- not just by his staggering, unequaled success as a wrestler and wrestling coach, but by the loss of his murdered sister when he was a sophomore (for which he blamed himself) and by the one wrestling match from his career that anybody ever remembers -- namely, the one he lost. But unlike tragic figure Donnie Moore, Gable took those two failures and used them to forge himself into a better person. And so we come to Gable's final quote, with which that excellent article ends:
The losses, first Diane and then the match to Owings, made him. He didn't just go on, he got better. That was the hardest part, he says. The focus came at such a high price, with so much hurt underneath.

You ask him: What is perfection? What has it meant to chase it for so long?

He's still in pursuit, he says: "If I could figure out how I could have gone back and saved Diane, and how I could have gone back and not had that loss in that tournament, and still gone on to be the same person I am today, that would be perfect."
...and still gone on to be the same person I am today...

The Official Peril Married Couple of the Year

Before we get to the main story here, let me quickly point out that one has to wonder about the objectivity of the reporting when one sees that Mike Smith is reporting that Mike Smith has learned that Mike Smith may get the Falcons head-coaching job. I regret to say that I got this link from the unfortunately-monikered Aaron Schatz, rather than from yet a fourth Mike Smith.

Now, without further ado, here is my favorite married couple of the year. I could have sworn I blogged this a few months ago but apparently I didn't. Bob Hayden is, clearly, the kind of guy you like to have around. But check out his wife Katie, who, as her 65-year-old husband put the beat-down on a couple of guys who went crazy on an airplane flight, calmly kept reading her book. Her final quote is so priceless I can't stand to make you wait until you've gone and read the link:

"The woman sitting in front of us was very upset and asked me how I could just sit there reading," Katie Hayden said. "Bob's been shot at. He's been stabbed. He's taken knives away. He knows how to handle those situations. I figured he would go up there and step on somebody's neck, and that would be the end of it. I knew how that situation would end. I didn't know how the book would end."
And there you have it, folks: the Official Redneck Peril Married Couple of the Year.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bummer about the apartment

Didn't get it. Don't feel that I can explain why on this blog without violating some personal guidelines I try to abide by. So, we'll just say too bad for me and the Troika (and the other kids, for that matter) and move on without further explanation.

But I did get accepted at my Very Much Plan B. I'm going to have to float a short-term loan (up to the 1st, which is my next paycheck) from somebody to cover the move-in costs; but as long as I can get past this ten-day cash flow crunch, the girls and I won't be homeless. There's no problem once I get to the 1st, but unfortunately I have to do some major disbursements before then. But I try not to worry about it too much because God generally provides.

Anyway, thanks very much for the prayers. If you could keep them coming for the next ten days or so, I'd be grateful.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Urgent prayer request

There's a particular apartment I badly need to get into. I've been trying for a week to track down all the paperwork necessary, and got everything in order except that they wanted two years' worth of rental history -- and they don't not just the names and numbers of the people who had rented houses to me; they want copies of the actual leases.

All that sort of legal paperwork is at the house; I e-mailed Dessie a few times asking for it and didn't get any answer for a few days. I got a copy of the most recent lease from my divorce lawyer. I spent a couple of days calling the previous landlords, finally managed to get through to them; they both very generously agreed to try to hunt up the old leases. One of them ("Austin Guy") called back; he had cleaned out his files and didn't have the lease anymore, but he gave me the phone number of the real estate agent he used to lease it out...who hasn't picked up her cell phone, or responded to my voice mails, in two days of calling from me and from Fertuna, the leasing agent who fell in love with the Troika and has been desperately trying to figure out a way to get us into that apartment. The other previous landlord ("Katy Lady") I didn't hear back from at all. I did finally hear back from Dessie: she had found a copy of the lease I already had, but no longer has the old leases. So I called Fertuna this morning and told her I had pretty much struck out.

A few minutes ago I called back Katy Lady just to thank her for trying -- and she told me she had found the lease this afternoon, called the apartment complex, and e-mailed it to them. I called Fertuna and she went looking for it...and it turns out that her manager talked to Katy Lady and had the lease in her office, and she hadn't yet gotten around to looking at the lease; so I still was first in line because she hadn't rejected me yet. Also Austin Guy did talk to Fertuna and confirmed verbally that I had leased his house and was a good tenant.

So the ONLY thing missing is that one bloody lease, and even for that the landlord has verbally verified it and recommended me as a tenant.

Tonight or tomorrow morning the apartment manager will review my application and make a decision.

So PLEASE pray very hard that she'll be generous about that one missing lease and let me have the apartment anyway.

Thanks, have to go now or I'll be late for the start of my weekend with the other kids.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Yet another way in which the Patriots are so much better than their competition it's hardly even funny

Before the season started, when Wes Welker was not yet a household name, TMQ pointed out the following tidbit that is on a par with the Pats' having snookered from the hapless 49ers a high first-round draft pick in a running-back-rich draft:

Consider the net of New England's many receiver transactions of the past 12 months... The aggregate of these transactions is that the Flying Elvii [i.e., the Pats] have Moss, Stallworth and Welker for approximately the same in salary-cap terms that it would have cost to retain Branch.
Let's see, you take Branch, we'll take Moss, Stallworth and Welker...wonder which one of us is going to kick the other one's sit-me-down-upon?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

An update

Anya, Natasha and Kristina (the "Troika" in my own verbal shorthand) are now, rather unexpectedly, living with me, I would say pretty much for good, which means that I'm suddenly scrambling to find a much bigger apartment than I thought I would have to find at this stage.

And I think that's all I'll say about that or anything else family-related, which I suppose gives you guys a good idea of just how the whole divorce process is going.

I suppose I should say that the Troika are very happy at the moment, which is nice. But there's one particular apartment that I badly need (for various reason) to be approved to rent, and it's not going to happen unless Dessie can come up with copies of the old leases for the last three houses we've rented, which would be a heckuva feat if you ask me. So you can pray very hard about that. And also pray that, failing our getting the one we really need, we'd be able to get into my Plan Very Much B apartment...'cause at this point I haven't yet been able to find a Plan C and I gotta be in my own place before Desiree comes back with twins and grandparents at the beginning of February.

I apologize for not posting more frequently; divorce pretty much has me consumed at the moment, plus I've been sick as a dog for the last few days.

I'm not nearly as depressed as I must sound, by the way...I'm used to the divorce going badly by this time, and it's after 1:00 a.m. and I'm sleepy. Just wanted to get this update in.

Hope you guys' New Year is going well.