Monday, June 30, 2008

Ups and downs

Last week was not too terribly interesting, which is why there were no blog entries. It was a busy week at work, and I was dragging all the way until Friday. Tuesday night we went to see Kung Fu Panda at the local theater, which gives out free tickets to Optimum Triple Play cable/phone/internet subscribers on Tuesdays. The movie was very funny and quite thoughtful - but the seats and atmosphere at this older theater were pretty awful. I suggested next time we bring in wheelchairs and pretend that we're disabled - which we would have been if we had continued to sit in those chairs much longer.

Wednesday I met my friend Lori in the city and we had dinner at a vegan pizzeria, which was a first for me. It's so interesting how, in the nine months we've known each other, some aspects of our respective intimate relationships used to be so similar, and now are so different. When we first met, she was in a relationship with a man who was in a loveless marriage with another woman, who adopted a "don't ask, don't tell" attitude about the relationship. At that time, my relationship with Tara was strained in terms of intimacy, so I was dating other people at the time. Of course no one stuck, but happily Lori and I have remained close friends.

In the nine months since we met, Lori's paramour left his wife and moved into his own apartment, and during the same time, Lori moved out of the condo she shared with her parents and into her own place. Now they are talking about putting their stuff in storage and living together for real, full-time, instead of just "playing house" like they have been doing. They've also decided to be monogamous instead of polyamorous, as Lori has been in the past. She has also been flourishing professionally, since she was unemployed nine months ago, and now she has a job she enjoys that could turn into a full-time, permanent position soon. I'm just so happy for her, that her life is taking a course that is leading to love and fulfillment. And of course, in the past nine months, I've gotten back on the same path with Tara and our family after the derailment last summer, and we're now moving at our own comfortable pace, which is considerably slower than Lori's.

So, not as a point of contrast, but to continue the linear narrative: Thursday was a pretty difficult day for me and Tara. It was Bee's first day back to work after the dog attack, and Tara was rightly concerned about her being back after such a long layoff. That led to a long email exchange about its effect on our usual Thursday night date, which I was inclined to just abbreviate so Tara could be home early, but she disagreed. This led to a difficult discussion about our differing communication styles and the fact that I was acting very childish and feeling threatened, but eventually we worked it out that evening.

Any further ramifications from that episode were quickly drowned out by Bee contracting a stomach virus and having to go to the hospital Friday morning. She spent the rest of the weekend semi-comatose on the couch and vomiting at all hours of the day and night - poor thing! She can't seem to catch a break with the dog attack and now this.

So instead of the weekend we had planned with movies and museum trips, we all stayed close to home and took care of her. On Sunday, Tara and I went to Palisades Center to take a break and do a little shopping and time-spending together. I also tore through "Eclipse" for the second time, finishing it again last night before bed. I sure can't wait for "Breaking Dawn" to come out Aug. 2, and the the Twilight movie in December.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A vacation to remember

It's difficult to put into words how significant these past five days have been for me from a relationship standpoint. As I wrote in my last entry, I took last Wednesday through Friday off work to hang out with my family while Bee was recovering from her dog attack injuries and could not drive her car. It turned out to be quite an eventful extended weekend.

Tuesday night after work I took Tara and Bee out to Costco and Borders just to get out of the house for a bit since they had been housebound for most of the past two days. In the evening we watched the Yankees game while I started my book. When it got late, I said goodnight and left to go home. I reached the end of the street when my phone rang and it was Tara, saying that she and Bee had been talking and wanted to know if I would like to stay the night.

I pulled into a parking lot while I tried to digest this news, because I was not expecting something like this quite so soon, which I know might sound strange given how long we've all been together. But in the past when I stayed over, I slept on my inflatable air mattress and now we were talking about me sleeping with Tara in the bed while Bee stayed on the couch, where she usually begins her sleeping every night before sleepwalking her way to the bed. The only other time I've slept in their bed is when Bee and Bug were away on vacation, and that was just for one night (a night unfortunately when I was not feeling all that well). So after talking about it for a bit and getting over the shock, I went home to get my pajamas and a few toiletries before coming back to sleep with Tara in the bed while Bee stayed on the couch. I'm still a little surprised it happened, quite frankly, but I'm glad it did.

The next morning Bug decided to take a day off and join us for an adventure. We started by going to McDonald's for breakfast, and Bee suggested that we might go to the Empire State Building. So we bought our tickets online, printed them at my house and took off for the city. It was a cloudy day, but not hazy, so it would be perfect for sightseeing. We went through an incredibly complicated maze of queues to make our way to the 86th floor observatory. I'd been up there once before, about 10 years ago, and Tara had never been before, so she probably enjoyed it most of all.

Empire State, looking west over the Hudson

We had to hurry back to get Bee to her doctor's appointment, and then I had to get my allergy shot too so I did that at the same time. In the evening we started watching the Yankees game, but I had to actually go all the way back to the city to my office to retrieve my portfolio for a job interview on Friday that I scheduled via Blackberry while we were waiting in line that afternoon, so Bee and Tara came with me back to New York so I could get that.

On Thursday afternoon, I took Bee and Tara to the Passaic County Zoo, nestled in a park with tennis courts, a miniature train, a play area and a carousel. Unfortunately, we got there just a few minutes too late to visit the zoo itself, but took a ride on the train that gave us a sneak peek for our next visit.

Bee and I on the train

Tara and Bee rode on the carousel, but I didn't because the whole park experience called up some painful memories from my former life, a specific visit to the Houston Zoo and Hermann Park. I tried not to let those memories ruin the day though, so we went for lunch at a grill called The Fireplace, where I had a chipotle buffalo burger (yum), and then we went to Tuesday Morning, the closeout store I enjoyed visiting in Houston. I got a few things, and Bee and Tara both got stuffed animals that they fell in love with on sight. We stopped at the big Barnes & Noble for Tara to look for some rare books, which caused a little of the drama to bubble up, but we managed to get through it.

Friday I went to my job interview at a food distribution company in Edison, NJ in the early afternoon, which went very well. We'll have to see if this progresses to a job offer, but all signs are positive right now. When I got back home, Tara and I went out for a special shopping trip to buy her necessities for a future overnight stay at my place, something we've been talking about forever, but I had almost given up hope on ever happening. And it was still uncertain when this event might occur, but we were both hopeful it would be soon, and just the act of shopping for her bathroom stuff and a change of clothes made me happy and optimistic.

Friday night we had our family dinner and movie night because Bee and Tara would be engaged in something else Saturday, so we watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which was surprisingly fresh considering its checkered past. When the movie was over, Bee and Bug were dozing off, and I was feeling a little frisky and started making out with Tara. Bee woke up and a little minor drama ensued, but it was resolved with Bee unexpectedly suggesting that Tara stay with me that night. That was a very big move for all of us, being the first time she's stayed over since I moved to New Jersey (although previously she has left my bed in the wee hours of the morning when we've accidentally fallen asleep too long). It was very difficult for Tara (and probably also for Bee and Bug, who are used to having her home) but I tried my best to calm her down and make her feel comfortable. We made love and fell asleep holding each other, knowing for the first time we would not have to say goodbye that night.

In the morning I took everyone out to the diner for breakfast, and we had a very deep conversation about our respective spirit paths and workings we were involved with, which was very enlightening, even if I didn't have much to contribute. I guess my focus these days is more on building my relationships with my family and less about doing inner work on myself. I do intend to get back to my inner work soon, once things are a little more settled with my family. Saturday night Tara and Bee left for their event while Bug and I stayed home for dinner and watched Underworld: Evolution together, which ties in nicely with the Twilight Saga novels we are both reading. She just finished New Moon, and I finished Eclipse later that night after Bee and Tara came home.

And finally on Sunday, we had a bit of a difficult day, the turbulence in the family reflected by the strong thunderstorms that persisted all morning. I came over around lunchtime and read for a bit (starting up the Lucifer series again) and got a few minutes of private time with Tara before we decided to try and see if my pool was open. It was, so Bee, Tara and I went swimming, but a couple near-accidents with the boogie board caused some drama between Tara and I, and spilled over to affect Bee somewhat. The trend continued with some other issues trickling throughout the afternoon, and it made the rest of the evening a bit tiresome and deflating after such a sustained period of good vibes. But we are trying to get better at letting those negative things go and focus on the positive events and progress that we've made over the last six days around the Summer Solstice. It feels very much like a turning point for all of us, like last Memorial Day, like mid-January earlier this year. I feel this is the start of something that will last for a very long time.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Describing relationships

When I'm not blogging in here regularly, it usually means I'm distracted by all that life has to offer, both good and bad. On Friday, one of those bad things happened, as Bee was attacked and bitten several times by a large dog she was training. She suffered multiple bite wounds on her right arm and had to be taken to the hospital for a tetanus shot. She's going to be out of work for a week, recovering on workman's comp, which also means she can't drive her company car, which is her only means of transportation right now.

So to help out and get her to her doctor's appointment tomorrow, I'm taking Wednesday through Friday off work, which also gives me an opportunity to read my copy of Eclipse, the third book in the Twilight Saga which arrives today. Between reading that, my incoming Lucifer books and watching the rest of Season One of Heroes on library DVD, I should have plenty to occupy my free time over the next several days.

When I told my office I was taking time off to help a family member, I did get some queries about my relationship with Bee, i.e. was she my cousin? This is one of the few times I have had to deal with my new poly lifestyle in public, because usually I keep work and private life scrupulously separate, other than using my Blackberry. One thing I haven't found in poly is an adequate description of family roles that mirror those found in biological families. I normally think of Tara as my mate (an easy-to-use, non-gender specific term) and if she thought about it in those terms, she would probably describe me as her girlfriend, lover or (ideally) co-mate. But I don't really have an adequate term to describe my relationship to Bee.

We are not sisters or cousins, and it would be wrong to say we are. We are at once more and less than girlfriends - more because we consider each other family, less because we don't have that kind of BFF-type of relationship where we are completely comfortable with each other and can talk about anything. There really doesn't seem to be a word that can adequately describe my relationship to Bee (and Bug) that - without completely outing myself - would be understandable to the poly-layperson who doesn't even know what "primary" and "secondary" mean. So the best I can come up with is that they are all members of my intentional family, which seems to resonate with most people. If we're lucky, we all have two families: the one you are born with, and the one you choose; the unintentional and the intentional. This also works well since I'm not public with my sexual orientation at work, either.

So I had a very relaxing weekend with my family, with our usual movies (The Da Vinci Code on Saturday night, The Incredible Hulk on Sunday afternoon), swimming, Yankee baseball (playing the Houston Astros) and Saturday night dinner. I did get a little melancholy on Sunday morning when I was alone, which spilled into Sunday night just a bit, but nothing serious. I am trying my best to stay in the present and not let fear of being in pain ruin the brief moments Tara and I have together. I know that sounds really emo, but like I said, it's not serious.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Beach time

It's a quiet Friday at work, so time to blog. It's been quite an interesting week, actually, following Monday's night's poly women's meeting. Since I had that meeting Monday, and Mondays (and now Thursdays) are usually my date nights with Tara, Bee was gracious enough to switch her yoga night with me so I could have Tuesday night this week instead. So Tuesday Tara and I went to dinner at the local diner, where I had a very nice shrimp and scallop pasta with vodka sauce and Tara had her usual breakfast. We talked about a lot of serious topics, which is fine, but probably was a factor into how the rest of the evening went.

While we were having dinner, a huge thunderstorm rolled through and we had to drive back to my place through one of the worst lightning storms I've ever seen, and I used to live in Tornado Alley. We made it home and started fooling around in bed as we usually do, and we were both getting turned on when I asked her a question with a serious undertone that totally deflated the mood. After that, we just talked and continued to cuddle, but she wasn't into it and left early. Nobody was angry, but she was disappointed. I'm still learning the subtleties of how differently we communicate.

Luckily, we did not have to wait until Thursday to get back on track. I woke up Wednesday and the radio announcer said my train had been disabled by the thunderstorm. Normally when trains aren't working they provide buses instead, so I went at my usual early hour to the station and found that buses weren't running either, so I had to take a personal day off. I went shopping at Macy's one-day sale (since they opened at 8 a.m. and I was hoping to go anyway, just not be the first person in the door like I was) and spent about $100 on several tops and skirts. Then I went home, had breakfast, watched some TV and settled into bed with my newest Stephanie Meyer book, "New Moon" (which I finished yesterday). I had let Tara know I was home, but since Wednesdays are usually Bee's reserved days with Tara, I wasn't expecting to see her again. So I was a little surprised and very grateful when Tara called and told me Bee wanted to share her day and make it a group thing by going to the beach.

Island Beach State Park

Bee and me

We packed our towels and beach umbrella into Yoshi and had a nice 90 minute drive down to the Jersey shore to one of the loveliest beaches I've ever seen. I've never been to the Caribbean or Fiji or any of the really nice beaches (except Hawaii, I've been there) so my standards for beaches are admittedly pretty low. Despite the cool temperature of the water, made colder by some strong currents that brought even colder water from deeper depths, we had a great time swimming in the waves and body surfing with our boogie boards. I scraped up my leg a little when I rode a wave all the way up the sand and through a bed of broken clamshell pieces, drawing a little blood (but luckily not enough to attract the sharks). Bee did her yoga on the beach while Tara and I read our books in the fading sunlight of the afternoon. When it was time for dinner, we stopped at McDonalds for a vanilla shake, Boston Market for Bee's veggie plate, White Castle for my mini hamburgers and Burger King for Tara's hamburgers so that everybody got exactly what they wanted. Fortunately, all four restaurants were within a few hundred feet of each other.

And then last night Tara and I got a chance for a do-over of Tuesday, and we spent an intimate evening at home making love and snuggling in bed, followed by a late snack of frosted flakes while watching the Yankees game and cuddling on the couch. As many times as we've done this, it was probably one of our best nights together, free of drama and "serious" talks or thoughts about the future. Just goes to show - love is what makes the present a perfect place to be.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Poly meeting

I had a nice meeting with my women's poly group last night. Because of the heat, we met in our rain location, the West Side YMCA, where one of our members is an administrator and booked us a conference room. I enjoy the opportunity to talk through things and get some new perspectives in a supportive environment once in a while - plus it's just nice to know there are other people out there who believe that we humans can be in loving, committed relationships with more than one person at a time. It makes my world feel just a little less small-minded.

So I found this dictionary of poly terms on one of my poly blogs that I read, and I thought this entry was super-interesting:

Line Marriage n : a term from the works of Robert A. Heinlein, science fiction writer, meaning a marriage that from time to time adds younger members, eventually establishing an equilibrium population, spouses dying off at the same rate as new ones are added, this is a different form of familial immortality than the traditional one of successive generations of children

It's quite a radical concept of course, and probably not my cup of tea, but I wonder if for some people (maybe for all of us a little) is marriage a way for human beings to claim a small piece of immortality? With the traditional marriage, we pass on our genetic material to our offspring and they might be fruitful and multiply, and so a part of us in the complex DNA code lives on. My birth family, for example, can trace its ancestry back over 600 years, or something like that. Chinese tend to keep exceptional detailed records in that respect.

On the other hand, for people who don't want children, how can they achieve a piece of immortality? Of course if you're rich, you can build a college or a hospital, something that you will be remembered for. But for those of limited means, perhaps this is another way, to build a family that doesn't rely on having children, and yet can grow into something that outlives any individual member. A seed that, watered with lifetimes of love and commitment, becomes a tree that shelters many for a long, long time.

I'm not sure I really buy into this idea either though. My father once told me that personal happiness was about growing old with your family and generations of offspring around you when you die. Of course, in Asian culture that respects elders, family and longevity, this makes perfect sense. Time is also very important in this culture, evidenced by the fact the Chinese calendar predates the Roman calendar by many centuries, and the aforementioned emphasis on generational history.

I guess when it comes down to it, I'm not all that interested in immortality, at least in the material sense. I don't want monuments over my grave, or a big crowd of mourners at my funeral. I'm only interested in living in the here and now, and not for the future. And being Pagan, I don't believe it all ends at death anyway.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Heat wave

Just a quick post before I need to get my timesheet done for last week. My company is having a contest where everyone who gets all their June timesheets in on time (by noon on Mondays) gets entered into a drawing for tickets to the Fan Fest and the Home Run Derby Contest that will take place during MLB's "All Star Week" in July at Yankee Stadium. Since I know it would be a dream come true for my family to go to this event, I'm going to try extra-hard to have a shot at this.

Friday night we went out for a late showing of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, our second viewing of this movie. We weren't all that keen on watching any of the new movies this week, like Kung Fu Panda or You Don't Mess With the Zohan. Saturday the heat wave came, and I tried to get my errands done early to avoid the soaring temperatures. Poor Bee was out working in the 90-degree weather all day, so everyone came over early to jump in the pool (except Bug) before dinner, then we watched our second half of the Mummy series, The Mummy Returns. We are now ready for the third installment in theaters this August.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Relationship issues

I found this article in my poly reading this morning that I'd like to share, from the Telegraph newspaper in the UK:

"Four better or four worse for marriage of four" - June 6, 2008

At the end of the article there are some very insightful comments from prominent polyamorist Deborah Taj Anapol, author of "The New Love Without Limits," and the co-founder of "Loving More Magazine." She says if you're interested in pursuing polyamory, the first step is to have an open and honest discussion with your current partner about the possibility. If you can't get that far, she advised, stay monogamous.

"Polyamory to me is really a spiritual path," she said. "It's a tremendous growth opportunity. It will show you very very quickly any area where you're insecure. Any old wounds that you have will come to the surface, any weak spots in your relationship will come forward. Basically polyamory will show more quickly than just about anything else all the unfinished business you have in your life."
I think about this because yesterday Tara and I had one of our most open and relaxed talks about the future and other "serious" issues in a long time. We talked about the housing issue and the possibility of living together someday. We confirmed what I had pretty much concluded on my own, that it was unlikely we would ever share a home unless one of two things happened. Either there has to be significant changes in attitude among each and all of them (after all, this is mostly my idea) or they would have to be forced to leave their current house (hopefully in a less destructive way than they left their last house). So barring either of these unexpected turns of events, I'm planning on living alone for the foreseeable future, which is not my preference. But living alone is certainly preferable to living with the wrong person or living with people for the wrong reasons, so I accept that.

So to update the jury service situation - the sexual assault case was resolved without the need for a trial, so they sent all the jurors home early on Thursday, and that concludes my three days of jury service. I'm home free for at least the next three years, but I'll be happy if I'm never picked again in my life. I wish I knew how you got into the jury pool so I could avoid entering in the first place. But I think it's some combination of paying taxes, having a driver's license, owning a car or a home, and registering to vote that does it, and the only thing I plan on never doing is voting, so I'm probably screwed.

Since I got to go home early, I went to pick up Tara for lunch at a diner before coming back to my place and tearing each other's clothes off as soon as we got in the door. We rarely go more than two days without seeing each other, and we hadn't seen each other since Monday night. We spent about the next four hours in bed making love and dozing off in each other's arms, the bedroom flooded with the afternoon sunlight - it was wonderful. Eventually it was time to move the molecules as I wanted to buy some books to replace those I read while serving my jury duty. So we went to Borders and to Barnes & Noble in Paramus, and I bought three more graphic novels. We also had our nice talk about our relationship and came to some new understandings that I felt were minor breakthroughs for us. Perhaps it will lead to the more open and relaxed conversations about the serious issues that are necessary to keep the drama and negative feelings at bay.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Day 2 of jury duty

Just a quick update before I head off to bed. The only reason I'm up so late is that I don't have to be in court until 9:30 tomorrow morning, which is really late for me on a regular workday. So I can give everyone a quick rundown of Day 2 of Jury Duty 2008.

At the end of Day 1, I was one of the jurors waiting to be seated for a trial involving an armed robbery suspect. One by one, each juror was called up to be seated in the box, and one by one, they were dismissed by either the prosecutor or the defense counsel. Finally, I was the last potential juror left in the gallery, so when they dismissed one more, I had to go sit in the box and talk to the judge.

He went through the standard questionnaire, like did I know the defendant or the lawyers, and had I ever been a victim of a violent crime. I went through all the basic questions with no problems, but the last question was if I thought the criminal justice system was fair and effective. I said I could not honestly say that it was, based on the large number of overturned convictions due to DNA evidence of people who were innocent but found guilty in our so-called "effective" judicial system. I also thought about the fact that the U.S. has a greater percentage of our population incarcerated than any other first-world nation, and more than many despot nations that we act so morally superior to. Our prison sentences are exceptionally long, and yet it seems like it's not much of a deterrent to crime. I'm not saying I know what the answer is, but I could not honestly say, as all the other jurors already seated did, that the criminal justice system is the best it can be and is fair and effective. So the judge dismissed me.

I went back to the jury summons room - I call it Purgatory because it's basically a large waiting room where you wait for a judge to call for jurors for a particular case. After lunch and a couple hours of waiting, a judge called for about 80 percent of the jurors in the room, including me. When I got to the courtroom, I found out why - the case was that of an aggravated sexual assault of a child under 13 years old. It's going to be a difficult time picking 12 jurors and 2 alternates to try that case. At the end of Day 2, we were just getting through the preliminary rounds of voir dire (Latin for "speak the truth") where people were giving their excuses for why they were not able to serve as a juror for this trial, which could last two weeks or more. Tomorrow morning we'll seat the first 14 jurors in the jury box and start weeding out in earnest.

The whole experience has actually been pretty interesting for me, and of course, I'm making excellent progress on my reading. I completed three graphic novels (Lucifer Vol. 3 and Vol. 4, and Saga of the Swamp Thing) plus I'm up to Chapter 10 in Stephanie Meyer's Twilight. If I don't get chosen for the child rape case, then my service will be done tomorrow and I can resume my normal life on Friday. I'm really apprehensive about the possibility of serving in this trial, not just because of all the work I'd miss, but because of the subject matter. Despite my usually cool exterior, I'm a pretty squeamish person at heart, and I have no wish to get involved in such a horrifying incident.

That's all for now - hope everyone is doing well.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Jury duty

Today I spent the day at the Passaic County Courthouse serving jury duty, an obligation that requires a minimum of three days or one trial, whichever you complete first. It's not a lot of fun - really boring, actually - but in a way it's a nice break from the routine of going to work. The best part is having lots of time to read, and my Blackberry keeps me abreast of any serious issues at work.

The best way I can describe jury duty is that I feel like I'm in high school again, sitting in an uncomfortable chair (a hard wooden pew) listening to someone drone on and on, not being allowed to leave the room until specified breaks, and not being able to eat, drink or use any electronic devices (except the Blackberry, which is easily overlooked since I always have the sound turned completely off). So in a way, even though I'm not doing much of anything, the whole experience is quite enervating, and I feel completely wiped out even though it's not even 10 pm.

So for those of you who have written me lately, don't worry - I will write back soon, but for now, I'm going to bed. Night all!

Monday, June 02, 2008

A quiet weekend

Sometimes the smallest things can be very special when it comes to being with the ones we love. Saturday morning I slept in late, and Tara came over while I was still in bed. She buzzed my phone so I could let her in the front door, entered my apartment with her key, and crawled into bed with me. Given the fact that we have spent the night together in the same bed only once before (and that was either a year or two ago, I can't remember precisely) this was a nice treat to wake up on a weekend morning with my mate in bed with me, even if she did had to drive over to be there.

Friday afternoon I got a haircut for the first time since November. My hair grows really slowly, so length wasn't a problem, but it was starting to lose its shape and texture because of the weight. I go to a guy named Edison in Chinatown who was recommended by a co-worker, and he does a really fine job. Plus, he's a super-nice guy, and rather good-looking, although way too young for me (he's 23, I think). But he spends a lot of time on my hair, and does a very nice job making my hair look the best it can. Because of the way my hair grows, I don't have a lot of style options, but it feels nice to have some layers and texture back in my hair. Sometimes you just have to trust an Asian person to cut Asian hair.

Saturday afternoon after Tara and I got out of bed we went to Costco, looking for a new television to replace the one that I smashed several months ago. We looked at a couple of contenders, a Philips, a Vizio and a Panasonic plasma TV, and decided on the Philips LCD. Unfortunately, the last one in the box had just been taken by another shopper (I saw them taking it, but figured there must be more in the store). When the clerk said that was the last one and they were sold out, I half-decided that I should just give up and stick with my broken Vizio (it's still watchable, but about 15 percent of the screen at the bottom right is blanked out). But Tara said we should check with the other Costcos nearby, so we went over to customer service to inquire stock at the other store about 15 miles away.

When we got to the customer service area, I spotted one of the Philips TVs on a cart, new in the box. I quickly inquired if it was being held for someone, or if it was a return waiting to go back to stock. The clerk asked another employee, who looked at me and said, "take it!" so we did. Apparently someone bought the TV and got buyer's remorse or something and returned it without opening it, so we managed to snag the last TV in the store. It's a Philips 42-inch LCD with 1080p resolution and four HDMI inputs, for you tech heads out there. We brought it home and installed it behind my drop-down movie screen and moved the damaged Vizio to the bedroom, which replaced a 20-inch CRT unit that came with my apartment's furniture.

Speaking of furniture, on Thursday I finally found a nice footrest for the living room, a long, low padded footrest suitable for me, Bee and Tara to rest our feet on during movies (Bug sits on the loveseat). What I like about it is that it's not a straight rectangle, but a curvy rectangle, which gives it an organic, feminine feel. Plus the upholstery is a neutral beige with a subtle floral embroidery and dark wooden legs that matches well with my existing furniture. With this, my new full-length mirror and the new TV, I feel like I'm done nesting with this apartment and probably won't make any other major furniture/electronics purchases until I move into a house, perhaps next year.

Saturday night all the girls came over to coo over the new TV, and admire the hyper-realistic 1080p HD picture of the Yankees baseball game. We had a nice dinner together and watched The Mummy on the front-projection big screen, followed by a re-run of Saturday Night Live. Sunday I went out to run some errands, and met Bee and Tara back at my place so we could go swimming for the first time this year. The water was really cold, despite the warm sun, and we spent some time back and forth in the hot tub.

Afterwards, we had watermelon before Bee left to attend a yoga meeting, so Tara helped me take out all my trash, including the big TV box that I'd filled with garbage, then we went back to her place to eat an early dinner and watch the baseball game she had DVRed earlier in the afternoon. I dozed off on the couch while Bug wandered in and out of the living room from her newly renovated studio. After the game and when Bee got home, they did a little gardening and Bee, Tara and I went out to the Dairy Queen for ice cream. I haven't had a dipped cone in many years, and it was as good as I remember from my childhood.

All in all, this was a very nice weekend for everyone, probably the best in a few months. We didn't really do anything special, but what we did do, we did well and with peaceful intention. We didn't need to talk about the big things, or the heavy issues. We just tried to cultivate a healthy, quiet space where everyone could enjoy each other's company and still do what we wanted to do individually. That, in a nutshell, is what our family is all about.