Monday, April 24, 2017

How You Know It's Monday

This is how you can tell it’s Monday. But to fully explain it, we take the Wayback Machine to Saturday night. Well, actually Friday night. You see, the kids had spent Spring Break at Disneyworld with their dad, which meant that I didn’t get them back until Friday evening. They were supposed to go camping on Saturday, but since they’d walked roughly 50,000 miles during the week and hadn’t been home in six days, they decided they just weren’t up to camping. That’s all well and good, as I always miss them when they’re not home – until they’re home for about 15 minutes and start sniping at each other, at which point I don’t miss them as much. But I digress. 

So my Saturday was thrown off, because it’s hard to work when they’re unexpectedly home. So I was falling progressively behind. At about 10 PM on Saturday night, I had the choice of either working late or going to bed early and starting work early on Sunday. In my vain attempt to have a regular sleep pattern, I decided to go to bed early and get to work at 7 AM on Sunday and kick everything out by noon, so I could spend the rest of the day with the boys. (This always sounds so plausible in my head.) 

I do manage to fall asleep at about 11 PM. Victory! About 45 minutes later there’s a loud explosion. That’s not hyberbole. A really loud explosion.  The power goes out. But we have a whole home generator, which kicks on immediately. And sits right outside my window. And sounds like a jackhammer. I get out of bed to check and make sure the air conditioner is off. You should not run the air conditioner on the generator.  (The thermostat in my house is haunted. Even though I have expressly forbid anyone else to touch the thermostat, whenever my back is turned, it is mysteriously set to “arctic,” which at my house is an actual setting. I blame the boys’ father, who always kept the house at a temperature suitable to play ice hockey in. That seems to be an inheritable genetic trait. Although neither child will ever admit to being the one who set the thermostat to “Minnesota in January.” ) The air conditioner is off. I check the outage map on my phone. Whatever blew affected only 12 houses, all on my street. We can get into an argument later about whether Thor was trying to specifically smite me and missed. 

I trundle back to bed. I try and watch something on Netflix on my phone, because that invariably puts me to sleep. I start with a Danish crime drama that was recommended to me. I forget by whom, but they are stupid and evil. I become annoyed with the moody Danes and move on to a horror movie. I could tell the director had good intentions, but he would be better off working a key-duplication kiosk at the mall. Strike two. The jackhammer is still going, so I check the outage map again. ETA on power restoration is 7 AM. Lovely. (The S/O later asked me if there isn’t a way to turn off the generator. I’m sure there is. I don’t know it. A well-placed axe blow might work, but seems inadvisable at this juncture.) I finally do drift off somewhere south of 3 AM. I am awoken at about 5:45 by sudden silence. The power is on, the generator is off. But it’s really cold. Too cold. I trudge to the hallway. Someone has turned the thermostat to 60 degrees. When this happened, I don’t know. No will admit to doing it, of course. I turn the air conditioning back off, and go get back in bed because it’s freezing, but just for a few minutes.  This was a mistake. All of the sudden it’s 11:45. I was supposed to be done with work at noon. That’s not going to happen. 

But there are bills to be paid and a full inbox so I start to work. Nick comes in a while later in a panic. He’s worried about his country report, so I put work aside so we can knock out a rough draft for him to take to his teacher. “Knock out a rough draft” when dealing with a picky and indecisive 11-year-old takes a lot longer than you would think. It took us an hour to choose a font for the cover page.  And then you try condensing every fact about Japan into six pages. It’s harder than it sounds. I feel like I’m compounding his indecisiveness, so when the S/O calls at 5-ish to ask if I want to go walking at City Park, I jump at the chance, telling Nick to keep writing, and I’ll help edit when I come back. 

I’m gone for a couple of hours, because it’s a lovely evening and the weather is nice and I really don’t want to know any more about Japan. In my head, I’ll come back and Nick will have finished the last four pages and we’ll spend 30 minutes or so editing and be done with it. When I come through the door, Nick is in his room watching MST3K.  I ask him how the report went, and he says he “wrote some” but needed more help. Well, it’s nearly 8 PM, so we make dinner, eat, and then head back out to the office. 

“Wrote some” turned out to be a sentence. At which point he was stricken by writer’s block. Sigh. So it’s back to work. Loch comes out and mentions he has to do a paper too. Of course he does. He says he’ll wait until Nick is done. I realize, at this point, Nick may never be done.  It is a slog. Loch comes back an hour later. I tell him to do his Sunday night chores, which include doing his laundry, cleaning his bathroom (because teenage boys are filthy disgusting animals) and taking out the trash, which means emptying the trash cans in my bathroom, my bedroom, Nick’s bedroom, Loch’s room, Loch’s bathroom, and the kitchen, sorting the recyclables out, and then taking both the bagged trash and recyclables out and taking the cans to the curb, because the trash pickup is Monday morning around 6 AM.  This is the same routine every Sunday night, so it is not a surprise.

Fast forward to 11 PM and finally Nick’s rough draft is done. I send him to bed and fetch Lochlainn, and we finish his paper at midnight. As he’s heading out the office door, he tells me, “Oh, by the way, I don’t have my school clothes here.” His school clothes are at his father’s apartment an hour away. Nice to know at midnight. 

It is now officially Monday morning, and I haven’t done any work. This is the point where I either commit to trying to get 4-5 hours of sleep or just staying up and pulling an all-nighter. In the vain hope of not being exhausted in the morning I decide to chuck it and try for sleep. The minute I set my alarm my door opens. It’s Nick. He woke up because he forgot to do his laundry. Okay, I tell him, I’ll take care of it, because he needs to have his school clothes in the morning. So I get up and blindly shove the contents of the hamper into the washer, then wait for an hour so they can go into the dryer, realizing that 4-5 hours of sleep have turned into 2-3 hours of sleep. 

The alarm goes off at 6 AM. We need to leave no later than 6:30, because it’s at minimum a 45-minute drive on the Interstate to the town they attend school in, and we have to make the stop so Loch can change clothes and won’t be tardy at 7:40. I go to pack Nick’s lunch. He doesn’t have his lunch bag, which is also at the apartment. Never mind, I keep a five dollar bill in my purse for cash emergencies, so I’ll just give him that to buy lunch. I tell him to get his school clothes out of the dryer. He comes from the laundry room empty-handed. He forgot his school clothes at his dad’s too. So I stayed up to do laundry for no reason. Double sigh. I tell him to go back to his room and grab his backpack, while I let the dogs out. Biz is a 16-year-old lab who needs help getting up in the mornings, because he’s  old and the house is always freezing. As I’m going back to get Biz, I notice that the trash is not emptied. Because of course it’s not. Hoping that I haven’t missed pick-up, I yell at Loch to get Biz while I start gathering the trash. As I’m sorting out the recyclables, Loch tells me he can’t find Biz. So the dog is lost somewhere in the house, and garbage truck is due any minute and it’s 6:25.  As I head down the hallway with a bag full of aluminum cans to see if the ancient dog has wandered into the closet, I notice a lump in Nick’s bed, which turns out to be Nick. Who laid back down and fell asleep because Lochlainn was “taking too long.” I’m not yelling and throwing things yet, but I’m close. Now Nick is up, I have the trash, and my mom comes in from her apartment to tell me she let Biz out because he had made it to the living room without assistance while we weren’t looking. At least we’ve found the dog. I fling the trash at the boys and get in the car, where I realize belatedly that I was supposed to get gas on Saturday, but forgot. Me and the dog are both old, confused, and cold.

It’s 6:32. Hopefully traffic will be light. I stop for gas and while I’m pumping, send Loch in to get me some caffeine, because the 2 hours of sleep is not quite cutting it and dog forbid we should all die on the highway. Loch has not returned by the time I’m done, so I go in after him. He’s behind a woman who is trying to pay for her Polar Pop with either Canadian pennies or craft animals fashioned from lint at the bottom or her purse, I’m unclear as to which. Eventually a deal is struck and she moves along.  I don’t check the time because it would just make my head hurt. 

About 15 minutes into the drive, I have a horrible thought. Each of the boys has a key to their father’s apartment. Neither of the boys is ever in actual physical possession of the keys. I hesitate but finally ask Lochlainn where his key is. Of course it’s “at the apartment.” I ask Nickolas, and his key is hanging on a hook on the back of his door at home. My ex-husband commutes an hour to work the opposite direction, and I doubt he’d look kindly upon my breaking into his apartment. I yell at Lochlainn to call his father and see if he’s still at the apartment. Amazingly, he is, so I tell Lochlainn to tell him to stay put until we get there. Then I proceed to yell some more at the boys, demanding to know if they ever get tired of me yelling at them, because it sure seems like they don’t. They don’t have any school clothes, keys, lunch sacks, the trash is not out, and the temperature in the house is the equivalent of the Antarctic research station at the end of John Carpenter’s THE THING, when everything has burned down and Kurt Russell is waiting to either freeze to death or be consumed by the space critter wearing Keith David’s skin. At this point, I would welcome being consumed by a space critter. Or freezing to death. I’m not picky. 

I pull up at the apartment and order my children out of the car. They are the slowest beings on earth. They look like Ray Harryhausen stop-motion animation dinosaurs. I watch them meandering up the stairs to the second story of the fourplex while I check the time. We might make it. I wait, and wait some more. One child emerges. He has made it down the stairs, across the street and to the car by the time the second child emerges. SLOWEST BEINGS ON EARTH. 

I refrain from peeling out once they’re in the car, but barely. We make it to the high school at 7:38.  I drop Nick off at his school, remembering to give him the emergency fiver from my purse. Whew. Then I make my regular stop at the Hoppin’ Harleys for a biscuit and some more caffeine, because, dammit, I’ve earned it. 

I get a Coke Zero and get in line. You know how I said my children were the slowest beings on earth? I was wrong. Ahead of me in line are three middle-schoolers trying to decide what they want for breakfast. At least I’m gratified to know my 11-year-old’s indecisiveness is not unique to him. Finally they decide on sausage biscuits. No. Not sausage biscuits. Do they have chicken wings? No. Not chicken wings. Three servings of bacon. Where are their parents? Why is this roving pack of sixth graders out alone? Oh, they forgot to get drinks. It’ll be just a second. 

I’m back on the road with my biscuit.  I get on the interstate and I’m a mile from the junction to get on the other interstate. In the list of things you don’t want to see when driving on the interstate,  someone pulling up beside you and honking and gesticulating wildly while pointing at your car has got to be right near the top. So, of course a helpful women in a little red coupe does just that. Hell and damn. 

I pull off at the next exit and into a service station. Sure enough, it’s the dodgy right rear tire, which randomly goes a little flatish. New tires are on the list, but the list is long and getting longer. I usually check it when I get gas, but, well, this morning I was preoccupied. I know that if I air it up, it’ll be fine for a few weeks. Luckily there’s an air station here and I check and it takes $1.50 in quarters. It’s not until I get inside to get change that I realize that I gave my emergency cash to Nick for his lunch. The woman at the counter is apologetic when she tells me I can’t get cash back with a purchase. But there is an ATM machine. Of course the ATM machine wants $2.75 for the privilege of dispensing $20 of my own money. At this point I can’t make a stand on principle. I just want to go home.

I get my $20,  buy another drink, get my change and head back outside, where I see three workmen in a truck with a trailer pulling up to the air station. You know how I said middle-schoolers trying to choose breakfast are the slowest beings on earth? NO. Workmen on a Monday morning are the slowest beings on earth. And as a corollary to women not being able to go anywhere without each other, men can’t go anywhere WITH each other. Each guy goes in independently to make his purchase, and the next can’t go in until the other has returned. 20 fucking minutes waiting for them to finish their arcane breakfast ritual and vacate the air station.  

I air up the tire and get back on the road. Upon merging onto the interstate, the check engine light goes on. I try to remember if solid or blinking is worse, and fail. Ordinarily, I ignore things like check engine lights. But the S/O, who is a mechanical whiz, has repeatedly explained to me that it is unreasonable (actually I think he used the words “crazy” and “irresponsible”) to assume that mechanical problems will spontaneously heal themselves if you ignore them long enough. He called it “magical thinking” like it was a bad thing. Whatever.

But the last time the check engine came on, it was because I hadn’t turned the gas cap far enough to hear the final click. Why this would cause the check engine light to come on is beyond me, but that’s what the mechanic told me. He said to reseat the gas cap and drive about 40 miles and see if the light goes off. It did. Seeing as how I had just gotten gas in a rush at 6:30 in the morning after two days of little sleep, I decide to roll the dice. I stop, reset the gas cap and get back in the car. It’s about 40 miles more to home, so I listen to NPR and keep an eye on the treacherous check engine light. Of course, now I need to pee, because I’ve drank roughly a gallon of Coke Zero this morning, and every single damn thing has taken 30 times longer than it should have. I’ve been in the car long enough that the NPR feed has looped and I’m hearing the same stories I’ve already heard once, and most of them are about how Donald Trump is certifiably insane, like I hadn’t noticed. I keep trying not to notice it, but it’s nearly impossible when you have to check outside the window every few minutes to assure yourself there are no mushroom clouds. Although nuclear annihilation would probably render the check engine light obsolete. 

By the time I reach my driveway, the check engine light has winked out. Either because it really was the gas cap, or because it has given up trying, like most of America. My GPS reads “WELCOME HOME” with a happy little exclamation point. Indeed.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Starting Up A Brand New Day

Sleep schedule has been wacky for the last two months. Having the boys here and then not here, too much stress and mental anguish and uncertainty.  Then the floods and delay in school starting, which threw things off even more. I was sleeping an hour here, three hours there. Getting up at 3 in the morning or going to bed at noon. Not a great recipe for normalizing your life.

But today was the day!  Oh, frabjous first day of school!

So last night we did dinner, and then cleaned up and laid everything out for the morning. Nick was getting crabby, so I had him take a bath and threw in some lavender essential oil and eucalyptus epsom salts, telling him it would relax him. Whether it actually worked, or it was just the power of suggestion, he crashed early and did not move until I went to wake him up at 5:30.

Me, I crashed also. I was asleep before 10. Of course, I was also wide awake at 3:15. Instead of chasing sleep, I got up and just started doing shit. Cleaned out the fridge, cleaned the bathrooms, sorted stuff that was laying around and found a home for it. By the time I got the boys up, I was feeling sort of good about things. Which was a novel feeling.

This is a new thing for me -- after 27 years of being 24/7 mom, I'm going to be kind of a parttime mom. It wasn't something I wanted. You'd be shocked at how much I did not want it. But sometimes when someone is determined to fuck up your life, the best thing you can do is to give them exactly what they want. If you find yourself in an endless tug-of-war, just let go of the damned rope.

So I dropped the boys off at school this morning, and I'll pick them up after school on Friday afternoon. And I'll do that every week for the forseeable future. Terrifying. The big house is suddenly much bigger. And quieter. (And cleaner.)

But I'm going to look at this as an opportunity. For all involved. I'll finally get a break, and I can work and write without spending the majority of every day pulled in 12 different directions at once. The boys will learn how to adapt, how to be more self-reliant, how to maneuver without me. Their father will have the chance to be part of their lives again. At the very least, he'll have some idea of what I've done every day for the past 27 years, and how much of it I did without asking for a cookie or a pat on the head. How much of it I made invisible.   Hopefully we'll all learn something, and be better for it.

Of course, I'll be Skyping every night. I'll worry endlessly. (I'm a great worrier. And a bit of a control freak.) Baby steps. Lots and lots of baby steps.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Fall, Again

It's almost fall, and this is a good thing. It's been a stupid summer. After the last two stupid years, it's been an incredibly stupid summer, made worse by the fact that things were finally supposed to settle down.

Life was supposed to change. But it didn't. Instead it was a sort of doubling down on some of the most troubling aspects of the unfortunate series of events that began like a horrifying domino cascade in July of 2014. Every time I thought I had gotten past the worst of it, I would realize it was just a lull. Nothing was every fixed permanently. I ended up living with a series of those cartoon filing cabinets, where when you shove one drawer closed, another one pops open and spills shit everywhere, endlessly.


But you know what, that's sort of the way life is. You fight for your peace. It's a mistake to think that you get to finish things.  I mean, sometimes you do get to finish things, but assuming that is the natural order of things will just lead you to heartache.

So now I find myself looking for another lull. Hopefully a longer one. Hopefully one that becomes more permanent, and hopefully a life where the waves that crash against me are smaller, and I handle them with more grace and steadfastness. When your life is turned upside down so absolutely and completely, it's hard to recalibrate. Part of that is dismay, because you've had to deal with something so utterly horrible that you never imagined it. It's so fucking horrible. It's so fucking unfair. And sometimes it's hard to get past the fact that it is SO. FUCKING. UNFAIR. You just stop in your tracks. You write more lengthy entries in your Book of Grievances. (And we all have a Book of Grievances, even the best of us.) You become flummoxed by simple things, things you might have taken in stride in your old life, the one that's now a smoking ruin behind you.

Some people can't get past it. The fall completely into that darkness. Mental illness. Suicide. They are broken and they don't get better.

Some people adjust to the degree they can. They limp along. They jump from one rock in the river to the next. Some of those jumps are small. Some seem incredibly long. Sometimes the gap between rocks seems so vast that you think you won't make it, but you do.

Some people get stronger. They get better. They incorporate the lessons learned, or at least understand that there are some lessons that can't be learned, and let that shit go. That's the hardest part, in the end, letting that shit go.

My favorite proverb tells me that for every evil under the sun, there is a cure or there is none. If there is one, then find it. If there is none, then never mind it. In other words, let that shit go.

It's a process. It doesn't necessarily have an end, even when you believe with every fiber that it should. And one things that I have realized is that I'm still angry. The events of this summer have clearly defined my anger.  Like a good girl, I've always been taught to reign that anger in. Growing up the way I did -- and living in the adult relationships I've had -- I became someone who placated others. Who swallowed the anger, or boxed it away, or attached a fucking cinderblock to it and sunk it so deep in the waters of my consciousness that it was never supposed to surface again.

But nothing is ever gone for good. So now I'm forced to deal with it some more. To find a better way to deal with it, maybe. I dunno, work in progress. But at least recognizing the degree to which I'm still angry is a start.

I recently moved house.  (And houses are important to me. Maybe the most important thing.) I left a house I had loved, but had become a museum or sorrow. I bought a house, MY HOUSE, that I fell in love with the moment I saw it. I made the mistake of thinking that leaving one house and moving to the next meant that I would leave behind the worst of what was killing me. It didn't, at least not yet.

Because, you see, in sorting out and packing up, I thought I was dealing with all the components of my sorrow, of my anger. I tried to keep what I loved and discard what hurt me. I packed away, gave away, threw out, burned, sold, returned so many things. Every thing. It was hard, it was painful, and sometimes, after cleaning out a closet I would just sit in the middle of the floor and cry and hug my dog and cry some more.

I made the mistake of thinking that getting rid of the things would get rid of the emotions. That removing the tangible evidence of a life destroyed would somehow make me magically whole. That moving away would mean moving on. Don't get me wrong, moving away was the best thing.  Getting out of that house (the museum of sorrow in my head) and getting out of that poisonous town, was necessary and in many way has made my life so, so much better. But it's not quite enough.

So now we come to the last of it. Finally finding a way to deal with what's left, and in doing so, searching for my peace. And so I'm writing again. When you strip away all the things I am and have been (a wife, a lover, a friend, a mother), I'm a writer. That's the essence of me. Words are my house.

And so I am coming home again. I'm angry. I am wounded. I am also joyful. I am determined. I am mapping my new country. This is what saves me.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Random Thoughts -- 7/27

(Programming note -- I'm in a better place.  And no, it's not Happydale. Physically, emotionally, financially.  So maybe not so complainy. Still, well, me. Acerbic? Darkly humorous? I guess that's a kind way of putting it. So more than just random thoughts, it's what I've been up to )

-Woke up with Dickie Bennett hair this morning. I don't know whether that means I slept well or poorly. I had a vivid and confusing dream. Same thing I always dream about, but different. Weird.

- Hermit crabs make surprisingly engaging pets. (Loch and Cate got hermit crabs, Nicky got turtles.  The turtles are way cuter than the hermit crabs, but less fascinating.)

- Going to the store requires putting on a bra. Unfair.

-Speaking of stores, we now have a Walmart Market, or whatever it's called.  Now, I hate Walmart and try to avoid it like the plague, but sometimes it's a necessity. I live in a healthy food desert, and Piggly-Wiggly, for all it's charm and the fact that everyone in the store knows you by name, does not carry a wide variety of healthy foods.  So I was kind of excited, because I thought I would be able to find some things that I NEED, without having to drive to another town. NO. Just the basics, and if not the basics, versions that I don't want. They have Morningstar Grillers, but not the Veggie Burgers, Mushroom Burgers, or Black Bean Burgers.  They have no fizzy water. Not even Dasani. No Mamma Chia (especially not Blackberry Hibiscus.)  And the only Luna Bars they have are Lemon Zest and Chocolate Dipped Coconut.  This is not working for me. Sigh, so it's still a trip to Amite. (Where they have BOXES of Chocolate Peanut Butter Luna Bars, and La Croix fizzy water in grapefruit.).  That makes me sound like a frou-frou food snob. But after the last year, I am on a specific and healthy diet that is carefully balanced. Except if I go out to eat. Then all bets are off....

- HBO GO is pretty awesome.

- If someone keeps showing you who they really are, no matter how horrifying it is, you should believe them.  If you don't, it's your fault, not theirs.

- Along those lines, never try to crash an echo chamber.  If you go outside, stare into the sun, and hit yourself repeatedly in the head with a ballpeen hammer, you'll get the same effect and it will take less of your time.

-Found a great pair of hoof trimmers for the goat. I was not aware that it is markedly harder to trim goat hooves than horse hooves.  Mainly because the goat is like, "No."  And I'm like, "Yes."  And the goat is like, "No. Really."  And I'm like, "Yes, really." And the goat is like, "Then I am going to kick you really hard and run away." And I'm like "Whatever." And then the goat is like, "Don't say I didn't warn you."  Sigh.

-Speaking of the goat, a couple of weeks ago it was raining tremendously hard, really sheeting, with wind. We had built the goat a shelter, but it proved inadequate, because we really hadn't considered sideways rain. GOATS HATE TO GET WET.   So I brought Loki inside, because there was no other option at the moment. The first thing he did was carefully remove everything from my office trashcan, proceed to get his horns stuck in the mesh, and then run around with the trashcan on his head. THIS IS WHY GOATS ARE NOT HOUSE PETS. He then proceeded to eat half the cover of my thesaurus and a bill I hadn't paid yet. (Goats are not like dogs. They can't be shamed. If you yell at them to stop doing something, they don't even glance at you. It's all, "La-la-la-I can't hear you," and an eventual tug-of-war.) Eventually he curled up on the dog bed beneath my desk and went to sleep. (He's no bigger than Bismarck, the lab/pointer mix I unexpectedly inherited.)  We have since built a better, raised shelter, so now he can't be pathetic if it rains.

-Along those lines, it has been brought to my attention that we are sharing our lives with 11 critters now. Some people think that's excessive. But you know what, screw them. When I was a kid we were surrounded by animals. At the ranch we had cattle and horses and sheep, and various and sundry other critters. (My aunt had an attack goose that scared everybody, and I remember learning how to rope with goats. I was still never very good at it.) At home we always had a variety of animals: my horse, cats, dogs, pheasants, quail, rabbits, ducks, and mice, rats, gerbils, fish.  (One year my dad filled the swimming pool with trout. They used to come to the side of the pool if you tapped and would eat out of your hand. When winter came, we had to let them all go in a stream in the mountains, because we were so attached to them that we couldn't bear to eat them.)

So what I'm saying is that being surrounded by other life is good for kids and it's good for adults. It teaches them responsibility, empathy, compassion. It makes them richer people, and expands their knowledge. They learn that pets aren't disposable, that they are other beings to be taken care of, that there are commitments you make that you can't break just because it's more convenient for you . It makes them more aware of the wonders of the world around them. I know my children are better people for it. So, yes, I currently live with four dogs, 2 cats, a goat, two hermit crabs and 2 aquatic turtles. And they enrich all our lives immeasurably.       /gets off soapbox.

-What is the best way to tell someone you're not talking to them without talking to them? Is it just ignoring them? This is a terrible dilemma for someone who always has one more thing to say......

-Had a PET scan.  The doctor looked like Jensen Ackles, only taller, and cuter. Way cuter. Yeah. Which only proves what the kids have said, that somehow I got signed up for Handsome Doctor of the Month club. It's like central casting out there. NOT THAT I AM COMPLAINING.  But, damn. It makes you want to become a hypochondriac. (If you will remember my adventures with Handsome Doctor Who Should Just Take His Shirt Off; Handsome Doctor With Whom I Want to Run Away To Tahiti With; and Handsome Doctor Are You Sure You're Old Enough to Be a Surgeon?) And I just realized I said Doctor Who. It would be much more awesome if my doctor was actually The Doctor (preferably the Ninth, Tenth or Eleventh). And, yeah I'm one of those people who likes the Eleventh Doctor slightly better than the Tenth Doctor, so shut up.

-Have finally come to terms with the fact that I quit smoking and it ain't coming back. It's been long enough now under enough stressful situations (UNDERSTATEMENT) that I'm confident. I have quit for long periods of time often, but whenever stress got too much I would fall off the wagon. I think mostly it was rebellion. It was a "You can't control ME," kind of thing. And I'm just realizing now that there has been A LOT of that in my life. So detaching your motives makes something more controllable. If you understand the patterns, it's easier to get rid of what you want to get rid of. (I do have a Vapor Pen that I can pull out if I get really stressed. But it's so NOT a cigarette that it helps get rid of the familiarity and comfort. And it helps get rid of the Nicotine addiction without freaking out about it. Also, no smell, no ash, which is the biggest plus.) Dr. Sunnydale was very pleased, and stopped giving me the disapproving look he gave me last year.  (not his real name, but damned if he doesn't look like Armin Shimerman, who was principal of Sunnydale High on Buffy. Hence he is not a member of Handsome Doctor of the Month club, but I really like him anyway, even when he gives me the concerned look.) So yeah, my smoking habit is dead as a Norwegian Blue. And I'm finally glad.

-Realized it was time for lunch and there is nothing I want in the house. Not even fizzy water. Dammit, I am not driving to Amite.  It will be overripe bananas and almond milk for the second day in a row.

-Kid coming home from New Mexico soon. Despite him being an angst-ridden, sarcastic, teenage know-it-all, I really miss the little monster. Well, he's not so little, but still.

And this is long enough, and too me-centric. Back soon and it will be all about how much I miss Justified, Hockey, and how fascinating hermit crabs are. Just Kidding. It will be cogent and more fascinating than a hermit crab. Maybe.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Random Thoughts Before May Day

I miss Justified. I mean like a missing limb miss. It's hard to believe I will never see those people again. In the store the other day my phone rang.  I had forgotten that I'd changed Kid #1's ringtone to the Justified theme.  For a minute I thought I would burst into tears. Yes, I am a pathetic fangirl. I feel like running down the road  at the end of Shane, yelling "Come back, Boyd!  Come back!" Sigh.

I think the counter guy at the post office is annoyed with people who come in to buy one stamp.

The Minnesota Wild have the worst fans in the league. (Sorry, Minnesota fans who aren't absolute dicks -- you must be out there somewhere.) You don't cheer when a player from the other teams goes down on the ice with an injury.  You sit there respectfully and hope he's okay, and when he does get taken off the ice, you cheer. There are rules, people!

I have a black hole somewhere on my desk. Things go missing and I never find them again. Most recently it was a bottle of Lorazepam.  Some days the only thing standing me between me and the abyss is a lorazepam.  I try to take them as seldomly as possible, and save them for the big panic attacks, but the last week has been extremely trying. So, hey, gremlins or space men or whoever or whatever keeps hiding things, BRING THEM BACK. (I heard if you stand in the room where a thing is lost and say that loudly and sternly, you'll quickly find the object. And you know what, I did it for a set of keys once, and I walked out of the room and walked back in and found the keys.  Whether it's a psychological cue that helps you remember where something is, or you're actually talking to some inter-dimensional being from a pocket universe, I don't know. I just report the facts.)

Speaking of keys, my key arrangement is huge and unwieldy, the better not to lose. I have an Avalanche lanyard, with a bunch of stuff on it: a Volvo emblem that spins, a pin from Buffy the Vampire slayer, a pewter Avalanche key ring, and three keys.  A key to the Volvo, a key to the house, and a skeleton key that has extreme sentimental value (you don't need the details on that one....).  Anyway, I lose the damned things EVERY SINGLE DAY and spend hours looking for them. That's one of the worst things about my cognizant deficit: never being able to find anything. BAH.

The other bad things about the brain problem are (in no particular order):  not being able to spell anything anymore; sometimes being totally unable to text, because I can't even make the corrections; substituting a word I can't manage with a word that is definitely not the same thing; being unable to park the car -- I'm either too far out, too far in, or not anywhere close to being between the lines.  I apparently currently have no depth perception. Also too many loud noises make me all jangly, I've developed some form of agoraphobia, and I can't listen to anyone talk while I'm thinking, which I used to do with ease. This is not as fun and exciting as it sounds.

Fun Fur and spray adhesive are dangerous in the wrong hands.

It should be illegal to play music in supermarkets. It's like a time bomb. You never know when some song will be played that sends you into emotional distress. And then you can't escape it, because it looks odd to drop everything and run out of the store with your hands over your ears. Thanks, Barry Manilow.

Why is Pokemon still a thing?

Yesterday I listened to a Billy Joel song all the way through. In fact, I turned it up loud and sat in my car in the parking lot and sang it at the top of my lungs. Big step, because Billy Joel, again, has great sentimental value to me.  And sure it was Only the Good Die Young (I'll probably never be able to listen to And So It Goes again, and the whole Stormfront album is probably out of reach), but it was progress.

And I like Billy Joel. And Sting.  And Barry Manilow. And the Barenaked Ladies. And that one song by the Backstreet Boys. So shut up.  (We will not discuss my long-ago tween obsession with the Bay City Rollers. Hey, they were guys with accents wearing kilts. 'Nuff said.)

Have you ever been victim of a drive-by text? It's that thing where you are bopping along, maybe standing in line at the grocery store trying to block out the music wafting down from the hidden speakers, and your text alert goes off.  It's someone hysterically screaming IN ALL CAPS ABOUT SOME INVISIBLE RULE THAT YOU BROKE THAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW EXISTED, AND EVEN IF IT DID EXIST YOU DIDN'T BREAK IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.  The worst thing is that you can't even text effectively enough to say "WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG NOW?"  without having to make eleventy-billion corrections. Clearly I need to hire someone to accomplish my texting, and weed out the crazy before it reaches me.

And this thing that didn't happen was obviously some cog in my Nefarious Master Plan. Apparently I have a Nefarious Master Plan that is so secret I don't even know about it.  So clue me in, will you?  I don't have the time for a Nefarious Master Plan right now, because I am busy working 12 hour days again, providing a normal life for my children after the horrorshow the last year became, trying to deal with the destruction of everything I thought was true and safe,  looking at a mountain of bills, having to fit  an unending stream of doctor and therapy appointments into days that are already so full of other things that they are running off the side of my trusty calendar, AND trying to find the time to write.  Maybe I need a Nefarious Master Plan planner who can take care of the details for me. Maybe I should give up the glamorous and fun life I am now living to become a Nefarious Master Plan planner. Apparently I would be very good at it.

Have you ever looked at someone and immediately thought, "Does your hair look like that intentionally? Or was it some unfortunate industrial accident?"  I would provide an illustration, but that would be impolite.

There should be a rescue league for archaic words. I can't do it all myself. Discomfited. That's a good word you never hear any more. Example: I am discomfited by the current turn of events. Sometimes I wish the house was taller so I could effectively defenestrate myself.

I use the word "apparently" too much.

A DVR is a dangerous thing, especially when it starts filling up with things you just can't bear to watch anymore because it's too upsetting. I have  whole seasons of Castle, Major Crimes, and Mad Men. Yes, I need more therapy.  The thing about PSTD is there are so many fucking triggers everywhere. I had to put all of it in a separate folder that I don't open.

The best thing about the end of the month is that all the bills are paid. The worst thing about the end of the month is that all bills start over again, usually on the first of the month. ("Hello, Mortgage, Health Care Premium, Emergency Loan and Private School Tuition!  I have missed you so much!" she said sarcastically.

Have you ever had so many overdue hospital and specialist bills that you just want to see a giant cage match, the winner of which you will actually be able to pay? In my head I just see a bunch of lower middle management drones whacking each other with briefcases and stabbing each other with sharpened paper clips.

Speaking of lower middle management, did you know it's not the same as being a "top executive"? Strange, but true. Embroidery is a hallmark of crippling insecurity.

Did you ever get an email that you couldn't delete fast enough because it makes you start considering a tri-state killing spree? I just did. There are certain people I would happily forget the existence of if they would just fucking stay out of my line of vision, lest they fall victim to my Nefarious Master Plan.

And speaking of email, the overflowing email box calls. It's like an impossible task that starts over every day. Like Sisiphus or the guy who got his eyes pecked out over and over again. 

I plan to return with thoughts on the end of Justified, the destruction of everything you thought was true and safe, and complaints about various stuff and things.  And maybe the unveiling of my Nefarious Master Plan!

In the meantime, remember: There are fucking rules, people!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Journey of a Thousand Miles Usually Ends Up as another Journey of a Thousand Miles.....

I've hit a rough patch. Everyone I've told about this rough patch says, "Oh, you should write a book!"  Nurses, doctors, people at the bank, clients, all manner of people. It certainly would make a compelling story. But I've been reluctant to start. One reason is because it feels awkward talking about myself. Another reason is because it's painful to relive some things, and painful to relive things that you did that were wrong or careless or hurtful. And sometimes it's hard to come to terms with what the people you love have done, because you still love them and you don't want bad things about them to be true.  So I've been pretty "good," except in the eyes of the people who watch my every move and parse my every utterance to manufacture their own outrage and help themselves feel better about the guilt they may be carrying.

I've pushed it all down, for so long, I've been cooperative and helpful  and bit my tongue and made sacrifices and concessions while getting nothing in return expect lies.  Last night was the final straw, the last kick in the ribs, the insult briskly stirred in with the injury. I'm done with being Ms. Nice Girl, and I'm not ashamed to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And names are not being changes to protect the guilty.  Remember, kids, it's not slander or libel is everything you say is true.

I am nobody's whipping girl.  And the minute you come after my children, you are going to end up in a bad way.

Friday, December 19, 2014

It's (Not) A Wonderful Life

I've always loved It's a Wonderful Life. I mean, seriously, like always. Of course I was one of those nerdy kids who loved old movies from the time I could turn on a TV and even at six or seven  -- like the darling lil insomniac I've always been - would stay up all night watching the old black-&-whites on Channel 2 from Denver, where in the good old days they would play classic movies all night long (you could sometimes catch four in a night) until they started up with The Little Rascals or The Abbot and Costello Show about the time the sun came up. Eleanor Powell dancing to Begin the Beguine with Fred Astaire in Broadway Melody of 1940, where it looked like they were flitting across a floor made of stars. (Oh how I wanted to be Eleanor Powell for a time -- or Kim Novak in Bell, Book, and Candle, or Veronica Lake in My Favorite Witch. Yeah, I was a weird kid.) I love Fred Astaire, and I loved Ingrid Bergman. But there were always the big three: Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart. So, given that, there were certain movies that were favorites of mine -- heavy on the screwball, the sophistication, and the schmaltz: The Philadelphia Story, Bringing Up Baby, Arsenic and Old Lace, and, of course, It's a Wonderful Life.

So, it being the holiday season and all, and this holiday season in particular, that movie has been on my mind.

For anybody who has lived in a cave their whole lives and is scared by moving pictures, this is the plot in a nutshell:

Everyman George Bailey lives in the All-American hamlet of Bedford Falls, where he runs the family savings and loan, having given up his dreams to travel and do what-not because of various things that have happened and he, being the sincere, responsible, Jimmy-Stewart-everyman that he is, has put off everything to take care of whatever needed taking care of. And life happened to George Bailey -- he married and had children and bought a drafty old house that he couldn't pay to fix up, because being selfless tends to keep you from being rich, unlike Old Man Potter, who is the opposite of George Bailey and, being the scurvy spider that Old Man Potter is, hates George Bailey and all the schmaltzy, sweet, idealistic things he stands for.

And so it comes to pass that on Christmas Eve, George Bailey finds himself in crisis -- his life didn't turn out like his dreams, he really doesn't care for his job, his children are in need of constant attention (as children are wont to be), and his wife sometimes snaps at him because she has just as much to deal with as he does. And now he's found that because of a series of mistakes/happenstances, the old building and loan is going to fail. So George sees himself as a failure, and in his despair, goes to throw himself off a bridge because he figures he's worth more dead than alive. George Bailey has had enough.

But, because this is a magical place, this sweet, 1940s hamlet of Bedford Falls, an angel stops George and shows him all the terrible things that would have happened had he not been who he was, had he not been there at all. And by the time Clarence the Angel is done -- and he has quite the job, does old Clarence, because George Bailey has really had quite enough -- George realizes that, indeed, he did have a wonderful life, because he was kind and thoughtful and responsible and had ended up with the things that are the most important: the love of his family and friends and the respect of those around him. And so George Bailey -- praying that it's not too late -- goes home and finds that all the people have rallied around him, because George Bailey didn't realize how much he was loved, and how much he had touched everyone's lives. And he's still in the drafty old house with the decrepit bannister, and he still has a passel of kids that need constant attention, and his boring old wife who is busy with keeping the family running, and he still has his plain old job at the good old building and loan,  which is not fun or glamorous or exciting or any of those things.

And I still cry when George finds Zuzu's petals in his pocket, and when Harry raises a glass to "my brother George Bailey, the richest man in town."  (Just as I still cry when the Grinch hears the Whos down in Whoville singing and his heart grows three sizes, just as I still cry when Linus tells Charlie Brown that "it's not such a bad little tree.") I cry because those things are woven into me, despite my years as a card-carrying cynic -- and I was a pretty good cynic even at age 7-- because, especially in this season of goodwill towards men, and magic, and belief, I believe. I always have. 

And I am crying as I type this, because all those other things that could have happened to George didn't: he didn't throw himself off that bridge, he didn't carry on with Violet, he didn't leave Mary and the kids in that drafty old house and run off to a quiet and uncomplicated shack in Potter's field. And, yes, maybe I'm as heavy-handed as old Frank Capra, but it irks me when people are shallow and facile and selfish, and they pretend they understand what these things mean.

And I get up in the mornings these days, and I try to be George Bailey, even though I have come more than passing close to throwing myself off a bridge into the inky blackness below a few times lately. Because, despite it all, I have had a wonderful life in the important aspects: I have four bright, kind, marvelous children; I have spent the last almost-20 years with a man I adore, who has almost always been George Bailey himself; I have rescued my share of critters and given them their own wonderful lives; I have created things of beauty, or at least honesty; and I have tried my best to be kind and faithful and true and brave.

So this post serves as my Annual Christmas Post -- which has usually been about how fortunate I am.  Because right now my wonderful life is pretty much a smouldering ruin, or at least feels like one, and I am daily fighting the cynic and trying to hang on to my belief.  There are a few Old Man Potters around me, who seem to hate me just because I am not like them, and I do my best to ignore them. They're used to winning, because it's easy to win when you're selfish and thoughtless and shallow. But still....the Whos keep on singing, and Charlie Brown's friends wave their hands and uncover the beauty of the sad, little tree, and somewhere, George Bailey finds Zuzu's petals in his pocket and realizes it's not too late.

So happy season of belief to all my friends and those I love -- may you find your own wonderful life, and even when it's darkest, may there be a light you follow to guide you home.