Sunday, January 25, 2015

Work ... Work ... and More Work ...


So ... today's earlier post was basically a moment of zen ... a moment of much-needed calm ... in a weekend of back-breaking labor.

The goal was to get the house ready to go on the market by the end of the month.  Okay ... so that goal might've been a little over-optimistic.  But still ... the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step ... 

It started Friday.  I had a dumpster delivered and took the day off work.  I spent seven hours filling garbage bags, walking to the edge of the porch, and pitching them about three or four feet into the dumpster.   The first day I cleaned out most of the kitchen cabinets and all of the pantry.  I threw away everything in the back room ... and the rest of the items in the closet in the dining room.  I finished the day by going upstairs and making sure the headboard was cleared off and everything was neat ... because ...

Saturday, Stoney and I went to the house first thing in the morning and met College One and her Mom and Step-Dad.  The five of us moved the couch and coffee table out ... then we went upstairs and moved out the king size bed, box springs, frame, and headboard.  They helped me do a few odd things ... like moving down the queen size mattress and putting it in the dumpster ... then left to go unload while Stoney and I continued our day.  He went to the store and ran errands while I continued cleaning and pitching.

Today I got up early, headed over to the house, for day three of my dumpster rental.  My old bedroom is completely empty.  I also finished probably 2/3rds of the twin's room.  There's still a lot to do in there ... but Stoney offered to help me with it tomorrow.   While I fill a couple tubs with pics from my Dad's family, and fill a few more garbage bags, Stoney is going to take apart the queen size box springs.  It won't fit down the stairs ... so we're having to actually break it apart to get it out of the house.

There's still a lot of odd things left to do ... a handful of kitchen cabinets still to clear ... the twin's closet ... things like that.  Then there's one big ... big ... thing left.  The basement.  It's bad.  Really bad.  I lived with someone who had hoarder tendencies ... and the basement was his domain.  Now ... now it's my domain.  And I don't want it.   This is where things have become difficult ...

A lot of people have offered to help ... First Wife ... my Mom ... Stoney.  So many people have offered to help me clean this house out ... and I just can't do it.  There's so much clutter ... so much junk that needs to be pitched.  And I don't feel right about having anyone else come in to do it.  It stresses me out to the point I can't function. 

In a perfect world, I would've taken this whole week off work and used the entire week to pitch and clean.  But ... it's not a perfect world.

Because that's the thing ... after all this dumping is done?  THAT is not the end.  I still have to clean.  The refrigerator is filthy ... and I can't blame that one on anyone but me.  I have everything cleaned out ... but I'm going to have to take the shelves out and scrub them ... all of it.  It's just a mess.   The kitchen floor?  That needs a lot of cleaning.  The living room carpet is going to need a professional cleaning ... as will the back room.  Oh and I also need to have someone pour new front steps.

Yes ...  January 30th was overly optimistic.  But ... I'm getting there.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  It's a pin prick .... but it's there.

Oh, kiss me beneath the milky twilight
Lead me out on the moonlit floor
Lift your open hand
Strike up the band and
Make the fireflies dance
Silver moon's sparkling
So kiss me

Sixpence None the Richer - Kiss Me

A Moment of Zen ...

I hate these steps
And I hate that swing
I hate this house
The whole damned thing
I hate that door
I hate this room
I hate this vacuum
And this fucking broom
I hate that carpet
I hate that wall
And those goddamned holes
Both big and small
I hate those stairs
And the basement too
I hate it the most
If we're telling the truth
I hate every inch
Every foot every yard
This house can go fuck itself
And fuck itself hard



Thursday, January 15, 2015

Death and Taxes ...


So I was listening to This American Life today ... that's my new thing ... and I came across an episode called "Death and Taxes."  The theme of the episode was dealing with things that are inevitable ... i.e., death and taxes.

There was a story in the episode about a woman who was dealing with the death of her step-father ... who she helped take care of through home hospice.  She ended up going to a hospice center to talk to the nurses to try to get closure about the experience and to find out if her experience was the norm.

Listening to it was hard.  So much of the story shadowed my own.  Sitting with someone during their last days ... listening to their worries ... trying to make them comfortable.  And listening to the nurses and their stories, I found myself remembering our hospice nurse, Billy.  He was just so ... kind.  He didn't lie ... he didn't sugar coat ... but even so, he was kind.

My strongest memory of Billy is probably the last day he came to the house.  He and Dad were siting in the living room and I was standing at the breakfast bar in the kitchen.  They could see me ... and I could see them ... but I was very much "outside" their conversation, if that makes sense.  Billy was taking Dad's vitals ... and they were just talking small talk.  Nothing important or notable ...

Until Dad said, "What if I don't die?"  Billy looked up from the blood pressure cuff and looked a little startled.  "What do you mean?"  "What if I don't die like you expect me to.  Everyone is expecting me to die ... what happens when I prove you wrong and I don't die?"  Billy smiled ... it wasn't condescending or mean.  I suppose it was a little sad ... although maybe I'm projecting my emotions into it. 

But he smiled and said, "Well, Sarge ... in you're still with us in six months, we re-evaluate your case.  They'd probably do more tests ... see if your heart function has improved.  But ... you know that's not going to happen ... right?"  My Dad teared up.  My Dad ... the ex-Marine ... teared up and said, "I'm not ready to go."  Billy nodded.

I felt embarrassed ... like I was eavesdropping on a private conversation that I was never supposed to hear.   Part of me wanted to walk in and lie and hug Dad and tell him everything was going to be alright.  Part of me wanted to stand there quietly and let Billy fix everything.   I'm a coward ... I did the latter.

Billy said everything he should say ... comforting things like everyone has their time ... and Dad wouldn't go until it was his time ... and maybe Dad would be there in six months ... maybe he wouldn't ... but he would be there to make sure Dad wasn't hurting.

That was on a Friday afternoon.  Sad died Sunday night.  There was a different hospice nurse on call that weekend ... and I talked to her a half dozen times ... asking what medicines to give him and how to handle different things.  She was so kind and sweet ... and her voice and confident instruction was probably the only thing that kept me sane those 48 hours.

Billy never got to come back.   I wish I'd had the chance to thank him for that day ... the day he comforted Dad.  So since I can't tell it to him ... I'll just say thank you to all the hospice nurses out there.  You're doing a job that's incredibly hard and incredibly important ... and you're very, very appreciated.


Monday, January 12, 2015

We've Reached Acceptance ...


We've discussed this many, many times.  I'm not a sports fan.  I will admit that I've caught on a little ... I found myself terribly disturbed this morning when, in a meeting, I was able to follow ... and actually understand ... a conversation my co-workers were having about whether or not there was a catch during last night's Cowboys/Green Bay game.  Someone spoke the words, "the ground cannot cause a fumble" ... and I shuddered as I realized that I both understood and had an opinion about this statement.

But I'm getting ahead of myself ...

So last night, the Cowboys played Green Bay.   Since I know little to nothing about football ... this was just another Sunday.   While Stoney watched, I ran to Walgreens and Lowe's ... then ran to my house to do a little packing and cleaning.  

By the time I made it back home, there wasn't much of the game left ... and Stoney was in a great mood.  The Cowboys had been in the lead most of the game and, while the score was close, it looked like they would be advancing to whatever happens next in the never ending playoff season.

I was relaxing on the couch scrolling through Facebook ... glancing up now and then when Stoney reacted to the game ... when he began hooting with joy.  One of the Cowboys made a play which, even with my untrained, uninterested eyes, still looked pretty impressive.  But a minute or two later, they reversed the call ... which caused ... a ... response.

A response that I only imagine he would make if I were to come home from work and casually say, "Hey, honey ... when I was pulling into the garage, I rammed into the back of your car.  Annnnyway, what's for dinner?"

Denial.  Anger.  Bargaining.  Depression.  I was watching the whole grief process right there in the living room.

He finally got up and began working through his frustration.  He cleaned off the ceiling fans.  He then cleaned out the fish tank.  He then scrubbed off the glass top on the stove.  I was so conflicted.  I felt so bad for him ... and wanted to say something to make it better.  On the other hand, we were on point to have the cleanest house in town.  So ...

I've experienced a hard sporty ball loss.   It wasn't the Super Bowl or the Stanley Cup or whatever the basketball equivalent of that is ... but it was still pretty heartbreaking.   I'm sorry, hon ... as a Cub fan, my I offer you my sincerest, "There's always next year ..."


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Can I Have Your Pudding Cup?


When you're little, you think grown-ups have it made.  Nobody's telling them when to go to bed.  Nobody is telling them to eat their peas.  Nobody is telling them to stop making fart noises with their mouth.

When you're little, you have no idea how horribly wrong you are.

When you're little, you have no concept of mortgages or bills.  No concept of jobs or deadlines or stress.  No concept of fashion or weight or health or growing old.   Stress is an unexpected spelling worksheet.  Happiness is an extra pudding cup.

Come to think of it ... even as an adult, happiness is an extra pudding cup.

No ... we adults are constantly doing things we would rather not do.  I'd rather not sleep with a CPAP ... but I'd also rather not stop breathing at night and die.   I'd rather not go to work every day ... but I'd also rather not live in a cardboard box under a viaduct.   Life is full of choices ... and the choices almost always involve choosing the lesser of two evils.

Let's take for instance this weekend.   Last night I got a text asking if I wanted to go see "Into the Woods" with a group of friends this weekend.   Flash answer?  No.  For several reasons.  Reasons such as ... I like the musical and I doubt the movie will live up to my expectations ... or ... I should be going to my house this weekend and finish getting it ready to put on the market ... or, most honestly ... I really just want to relax and watch a movie at home in my yoga pants.

But kids ... here's the problem with being an adult.  If you're honest with yourself, you make decisions that are the right decisions ... for the right reasons.  Even if those reasons hurt.

A year or so ago, my life drastically changed.  I lost K ... and that was hard.  Then it got harder.  I had friendships with daily contact ... friendships that I'd had for decades ... that literally disappeared in a matter of weeks.  My office closed and women I dearly loved ... women I considered my tribe ... they moved states away.

When you're a child, it's easy to make friends.  You have SO much in common.  "You go to first grade?  Hey, I go to first grade TOO!" or "Hey, you like Scooby Doo?  Hey, I like Scooby Doo TOO!"  As we get older, we gain experience ... we gain hobbies ... and people who we're compatible with slowly start to whittle down.  Education and work ... books and music ... all the things that make us who we are ... it's harder to find people we "click" with.

And so ... it would be easy to turn down the invitation ... to stay at home this weekend while Stoney goes to his fantasy football meeting.  To put on my yoga pants and watch some cheesy movie and be by myself for awhile.  That would be easy.   But I need to keep these new friends ... to stay in touch ... to spend an afternoon with them laughing and talking.  It's not the easier thing to do ... but it's the better thing to do.

Being adult isn't all it's cracked up to be.  I think I'm going to go home tonight ... maybe make fart noises with my mouth ... and have an extra pudding cup.


Sunday, January 04, 2015

I Need To Start Making Plans ...


When things were starting to get serious with Stoney, my mom sat me down and said she wanted to give me some advice.  I was convinced it was going to be some kind of awkward, painful discussion of my failed marriage ... it's breakdown ... and warnings of getting too close to Stoney or any man for that matter.

Silly me.   What was I thinking?  She loves him.

No ... Mom sat me down and told me that, for the first time, I was dating a sports fan.  And not just a regular sports fan ... a real sports fan ... someone who loved sports.   She told me that I had to remember that sports were a part of him ... part of the person I fell in love with.   She told me not to get frustrated or feel neglected when he wanted to watch the game and not be interrupted.  She told me to always stay independent enough that I could entertainment myself.

I told her not to worry ... after being with someone who had no hobbies, I loved that Stoney was a sports fan.  I loved that he has friends and I loved that the guys came over to watch games with him.  I told her I'm perfectly capable of entertaining myself ... but if a Sunday came and I was bored or lonely, she'd be the first person I called to do lunch or go to the casino.

Fast forward a year or so.

I'm living with Stoney for the most part ... and I've spent most of the 2014 football season at his house.  I've been here when the guys come over ... been here when his team won ... been here when they lost.   I don't think there's been any shocking discoveries.  I can't tell you, "Oh, my God ... I never expected such and such!"  Most of the time, I hang out in the bedroom binge watching Netflix or leave for awhile and run errands.

Today ... today was something special though.   He's a Cowboys fan ... and they played in their first playoffs game today.  He was super excited for the game ... and, once again, I gave him space.  I laid on the bed and watched most of last season's America's Worst Cook on the Food Network.   But I was on the same floor as him ... so I could hear his reactions to the game.

"Are you kidding me?!"
"FALL DOWN ON IT!  FALL DOWN ON IT!!"
"GODDAMIT ... seriously?!"

I'm not sure why someone would love something that stresses them out so much!  In the end, the Cowboys won ... and I even went out and sat in the living room and watched the last five minutes or so of the game with him.   He's happy ... deliriously happy ... relieved ... almost exhausted just from the stress of watching the Cowboys fighting from behind for most of the game.

So I'm not supposed to jinx anything by talking about it ... but if ... you know ... if they make it to the game on February 1st?  Yeah ... I think I'll be driving up North.


Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys
Don't let 'em pick guitars and drive them old trucks
Make 'em be doctors and lawyers and such

Willie Nelson - Mamma Don't Let
Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys

Friday, January 02, 2015

A Roll of Toilet Paper and A Christmas Tree ...


It's 2015 ... a brand new year.   The toilet paper analogy is right ... life goes quicker the closer you are to the end.  I mean ... think about when you were young.  Remember how those three month summer vacations felt like they lasted years?  Remember looking at a calendar and feeling like it was taking forever for Christmas to get here?  As Van Halen told us all those years ago ... it always felt like the clock was slow

But you get older and your whole perception of time shifts dramatically.  It feels like just yesterday that we brought the tree up from the basement ... and we're taking it back down this weekend.   I don't even remember summer.  Did we even have summer this year?

Stoney normally saves his last two weeks of vacation to take at the end of the year.  Today is his last vacation day ... and he goes back to work on Monday.  This morning, we were laying in bed and he said, "Where did those two weeks go?  What did I do for two weeks?"  And, working backwards, we tried to reconstruct the time. 

So all day, I've been pondering ... how time just speeds by now.  And considering how it feels now, what will it feel like in ten years?

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with

Jim Croce - Time in a Bottle

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Vitamin D and Fish Sticks ...


So, I feel old today.  I'm dealing with medical issues and I haven't felt like talking much today ... mainly because I feel like anyone who talks to me will feel like they're talking with their grandmother.

But ... hey ... I vent here, right?  If anything, I feel young when I'm here because I'm still ThirtyWhat ... even though that name hasn't applied in years ...

Way back on November 2nd, I had my first night's sleep with my very own CPAP.  I was a mess.  I was sure things were going to end badly.  I had all sorts of scenarios in my head ... some of which I shared with Stoney ... some of which I didn't.  In some scenarios, I smothered to death when the power went out.  In others, I would have a fatal heart attack because of forced air being pushed into my lungs.  In one or two, I developed a painful case of pneumonia after the CPAP's heated humidifier malfunctioned.  I have issues ...

But yesterday ... sixty days after starting therapy, I got my first compliance report.  I'm 82% compliant ... and you must be at least 70% compliant for insurance to cover the treatment.  So yay me.  Out of sixty days, there were ten days when I didn't hit the minimum hour mark ... and only one day when I didn't even turn the CPAP on.  I threw up that night ... so not wearing the mask seemed like a reasonable move.

On another front, I got my lab work back and my kidneys are down to 19%.  Normally this would be very bad news.  When you get under 20%, they start talking to you about what it takes to get on the donor list ... learning about dialysis options and whatnot.  But we think the reason mine dropped was because I was taking Aleve every day for two or three weeks.

Aleve ... well, any NSAID ... is a big no no for kidney patients.  We aren't supposed to touch it ... but I thought the risks of taking it would outweigh the risks of taking the narcotics they prescribe me.  I lost 5% in under a month.  That's a big negatory on the Aleve plan.   I gave my bottle of Aleve to Stoney ... that way I won't ever be tempted when my back is hurting at work.

Good news is that, since I didn't take it for every long, they think I'll bounce back up over 20%.  They don't know if I'll get as far as up 24% ... where I was before this debacle.  But she said it's possible.  So my job in the next 30 days is to keep hydrated ... keep taking my blood pressure meds ... and keep my fingers crossed for the next blood test.

Meanwhile, my parathyroid numbers are all jacked up.  This is apparently a Vitamin D issue ... because I'm still extremely low.   My once a month prescription pill isn't cutting it ... so they're giving me a "booster" Vitamin D pill each week to try to bump those numbers back in place.  Again, next month's re-test will let them know if this is something serious they need to look at ... or if a little more Vitamin D will fix me up.

Aaaaaaaaanyway ...

So, kids ... thanks for coming by and visiting grandma!  Be sure to take a piece of that ribbon candy over there on your way out.  I'm gonna go sit on the davenport and have a fish stick and watch my stories ... I hear Roman and Marlena are getting back together ...

I want to live
I want to give
I've been a miner for a heart of gold
It's these expressions
I never give
That keep me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old
Keep me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old

Neil Young - Heart of Gold

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Next Year Everybody's Gettin' Pez ...


So every Christmas, no matter how special, cannot come off without a snag.  It's some kind universal truth ... like Murphy's Law or Occam's Razor.   We'll call this one "ThirtyWhat's Theorem."   ThirtyWhat's Theorem states that the level of fuck up is in direct proportion to how large your attempt at Christmas magic.

For instance ... you give someone a Pez Dispenser for Christmas ... and the head just pops right off.  Not catastrophic.  Your attempt at being Santa's personal elf ... well let's just say you set the bar extremely low ... therefore the risk was low ... therefore the loss was low.

Now, let's say you plan a Christmas based on a theme ... and all the presents tie into one central gift ... and that gift has to work in order to enjoy the rest of the Christmas presents.  That's a big risk.  Everything hinges on that one gift working.   And when it breaks or doesn't work as expected?  Your Christmas is officially, 100% fucked.

This was my snag this year.  I got Stoney a turntable and ordered a handful of limited-print records to play on it.  The turntable worked great on the first album ... but every album after that, it skipped and skated and was basically unusable.   Skips happen on records ... that's just life.  But you can't use a defective turntable on new albums because you're running the risk of damaging them permanently.  And who wants that?

So ... we boxed it up ... sent it back to Amazon ... and ordered a different one.  It's far from the end of the world.  I've had worse Christmases ... much, much worse Christmases.  But it's frustrating and disappointing as the giver ... I'm sure it's twice as frustrating and disappointing for him.

The cherry on top is that the new turntable was supposed to be delivered today ... but for some reason Stoney's house is literally on the tail end of the UPS route.  I'm serious ... right before Christmas we were getting our deliveries between eight and eight thirty at night.   Yesterday's delivery came around 5:30 ... so ... any minute?  Maybe?  If we squint?

Next year, he's totally getting a Pez dispenser.

We are Santa's elves
Filling Santa's shelves
With a toy
For each girl and boy
Oh, we are Santa's elves

We Are Santa's Elves

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Yup ... I'm That Idiot ...


So I'm an idiot.  I think we're all clear on that issue.  No one is debating it.

Ever year, I've gotten those last minute e-mails from Amazon and ThinkGeek and Best Buy.   From about December 15th on, it's a count down.

"SIX more days! Plenty of time!"
"FIVE more days! You can still order!"
"FOUR more days! Free shipping!
"THREE more days! There's still time!"
"TWO DAYS! OVERNIGHT SHIPPING AVAILABLE!"

I have always scoffed at these e-mails.  "Idiots," I thought.  "Who waits until two days before Christmas and pays for overnight shipping?  How fucking stupid do you have to be to do that?!"

Pretty fucking stupid, let me tell you ...

So ... two or three months ago, Stoney mentioned a particular limited/collectible item that was going to be sold ... just casually saying, "Doesn't this sound cool?"  And so I bought it.  Boom.  First present.  This was probably late September.   Then in November I bought something else that kind of went with that gift.  I was well on my way to being done long before Christmas.

Then I thought of something I'd kind of like to give him.  I looked at options online two or three times a week ... never ordering.  Finally, last week, I got on Amazon ... picked one ... and ordered it.   The day before, I'd ordered several gifts for the girls ... and we ended up getting about nine boxes one evening.  The large box from Amazon was full of this and that ... gifts for four or five people.   And I thought his last gift was just part of the mix.

It wasn't.

I got back on Amazon three days ago ... just to make sure I was giving the right gift to the right girl ... and I noticed out of the corner of my eye that there was something in my cart.  But in my defense ... that happens a lot.   I'll look at something and consider buying it ... add it to my cart ... and go back a week later and either delete it or purchase it.  It's not something that's uncommon with me.

So fast forward ... two nights ago.  Stoney went to the bedroom to give me some personal space ... and I wrapped a few presents that I didn't want him to see.  I looked ... and this one odd little item was not in the box.  I looked everywhere in the closet.  I took boxes and tubs out of the closet ... thinking it fell behind something.  I finally woke Stoney up and asked him, rather angrily, "Did you get in the gift closet??"  He assured me he hadn't ... and I went back out to, once again, re-check the closet and boxes and discarded packing.

Finally, I sat down ... and, in desperation, looked at my Amazon orders.  I had never pushed the final "purchase" button.  The item was in my shopping cart.  Just sitting there ... staring at me accusingly ... saying, "Yeah, ya fucking moron ... you didn't buy me!  Christmas is ruined ... are you happy now??"

I was dejected ... and panicked ...

It wasn't a necessary gift, by any means.  But it was something small that I thought might go nicely with another present of his.   And so, the next day ... we're now two days before Christmas, if you're keeping track ... I went to work and set off to find this item.

Best Buy had nothing in stock ... nor did Office Max ... or Staples ... or Walmart ... or Target.  Even Amazon made it clear that they did not guarantee Christmas Eve delivery on any item.  Ugh ... I was that idiot.  I was trying to buy a specific last minute gift ... and I was willing to pay overnight shipping.  Jesus H. Christ.  What has this world come to?!

I found it ... and found a retailer willing to overnight it.  Even they didn't guarantee overnight delivery.  By bedtime, I hadn't received a shipping notice ... hadn't received a "final confirmation" ... and so I knew that I was swimming upstream.  I knew this was just not meant to be.

But this morning, I opened my email to find an invoice, a final confirmation, and a shipping notice.  I looked at the tracking number ... fully expecting it to still be somewhere on the west coast ... and then it happened.  The Christmas Miracle I'd been waiting for.  It was on the truck ... scheduled to be delivered today.

So yes.  I've fallen prey to consumerism and the large Christmas industrial complex.  I practically broke a hind leg to get a small item that he might not even want to use.  But goddamnit ... it's Christmas ... and I was going to get it.

The moral of this story?  Do not store items in your Amazon cart.  And be sure to hit the purchase button.  And don't pay for overnight shipping.  Basically, don't be me.

Bob - Fifth day of Christmas, my true
love gave to me:  five golden toques!
Doug - Four pounds of backbacon,
Bob - Three French toast,
Doug - Two turtlenecks,
Bob - And a beer, what was it?
Together - In a tree!

Bob & Doug McKenzie - 12 Days of Christmas

Monday, December 22, 2014

I Know I Should Be Happy ...


Okay ... so I'm admitting it.  I need therapy.  No shit.  No jokes.  I need therapy.

I'm taking this on me.  I'm admitting it's my problem.  I'm admitting that no one else is to blame.  I'm admitting that no one else but me can fix this.

My friend J sent me an odd e-mail this morning.  It simply said, "Give me your opinion on this house ..." and below was a link to a realtor's listing.

It was a very nice, upscale house ... just a hair under $200k.  I'm going to be honest ... I didn't look at the details of the house.  I can't tell you how many rooms it had ... how many bedrooms or baths.  I didn't look at the pictures of the rooms or the property.  I just saw the large splash image on the top of the listing.

I wrote him back and said, "That's a nice looking house. Are you buying it with Stitcher?"  He responded that he's already checked with the bank.  Once his house sells, he'll be pre-qualified for $200k on his own ... without Stitcher's income.  So the two of them are starting to look at houses now ... just to see what's on the market for when he gets his house sold.

I have so much resentment.  Just so much.  And as I said before ... this is on me.  I'm not blaming him ... I'm not angry with him.   I have this deep-down sadness that goes down to my bones ... and I know it isn't his fault.

I'm sad ... and a little angry ... because he lived in a shitty little house with my best friend.  It was a dirty, run down little house.   And now he's buying a $200k house with his new girlfriend ... with the money he got when she died.  You know who would've loved to have lived in a $200k house?  My best friend.

I'm not stupid.  I'm not insane.  Well, at least not clinically ...

I understand that none of this is J's fault.  I don't think he should be sentenced to live in a small, dingy house the rest of his life just because that's where he lived with my friend.  It's not like he killed her ... and he was her husband for twenty years ... so her life insurance should obviously have gone to him.

What I'm saying is that I recognize the logical side of this situation.  I don't have a problem with who he is dating now ... or that he's dating at all.  I don't have a problem with him moving.   I don't have a problem with him being happy.

I guess if I'm psychoanalyzing myself ... I have an issue with the fact that he's living this new, garish lifestyle ... wine tastings and concerts every weekend ... and he's living it because we lost her.

Again ... I recognize logic.  Maybe this is who he always was ... but he couldn't be that way when he was with my friend.  She was far from perfect.  She wasn't always an easy person to be with.  And I know that even if they had that kind of money when she was alive ... the lifestyle he's living now isn't a lifestyle she would've agreed to.  Her family was full of hopeless drunks.  She was the only sober leaf on her family tree.  So she wanted nothing to do with alcohol.   So maybe he finally feels free to be the person he always wanted to be?  Mentally I can accept that.

But emotionally ... these grand announcements of his?  Each one feels like a punch to the chest.

Again ... not his fault ... but when he announced that he'll be taking Stitcher on a trip to London, Paris, and Rome in the spring ... my heart ached.  And when he showed me that house today ... I teared up.   I can't help thinking about that horrible house they lived in ... the tiny ramp ... the hospital bed along the living room wall and the potty chair next to the window ... cat hair a half inch thick on everything.

I know I've said it before ... but for me, I feel like when she died, a part of me died too.  But I look at him and think, when she died, he hit the lottery.

I want to feel happy for him ... but all I can feel is sadness.  And worst of all ... I dread the day that I know is coming.  I dread the day I'm going to have to go to a lavish wedding and sit there and smile for everyone else ... while my heart breaks and I think to myself, "Her life insurance paid for this ..."

What am I gonna do
When the best part of me was always you?
And what am I supposed to say
When I'm all choked up and you're OK?

The Script - Breakeven

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Two Santa Hats and 14 Pounds of Meat ...

So ... stay with me on this one ...

You know how you can go to any store and find those cheap Santa hats?  I'm not talking about the faux leather Harley Davidson Santa hats ... or the ones with fiber optic lighting that blink "Naughty" off and on.

No ... I'm talking about the simple furry red Santa hats with the furry white cuff that you can find at any Walgreens or CVS or Family Dollar for about $2.99.

There are maybe a dozen of those generic Santa hats floating around my house.  Okay, that's an exaggeration.  But there are at least six or seven in the Christmas storage tubs.  That is not an exaggeration.  There used to be one for every person in my house ... and a couple extra.  Hell, I bought one specifically to put on top of the grandfather clock.

My point is that buying a Santa hat is not difficult.  You can't swing a dead cat in December without hitting a Santa Hat.

But let's say you want a special hat.  In my case, I need a bigger Santa hat.  Stoney wears a larger size hat ... and he's never found a Santa hat that would fit that handsome head of his.  Last year I bought him one from some website ... IGotABigHead.com or something like that ... and, besides looking cheap as hell, it was insanely small.   I discovered that Hobby Lobby sells Santa hats in sizes ranging from infant to adult xx-large.  No dice.  I knew standing in the store that it wouldn't work.

So what's the obvious solution?  Sew one!

I have a sewing machine.  I got an A in Home Economics back in high school.  How hard can it be to sew a basic Santa hat?  It's a goddamned triangle and a puff ball!

So way back in October, I went to Jo-Ann's Fabric and bought a yard of opulent, expensive red velvet and some thick, pricey white fur ... and assumed when I got around to it, I'd make a stunning Santa hat.

You know what they say about assuming.  You make an ass out of you and me.

Today I finally got around to sewing Stoney his hat.  I carried everything down to my new craft area in the basement and I started putting everything together.  I thought I'd measured everything perfectly.   In fact, I gave myself extra room and worried that the hat would be far too big for him.   But the velvet was stretchy ... and I'll have to take the blame on this crafting catastrophe.  I think I was pulling the fabric as I was cutting and sewing.  So ... the end result is a hat that still ... doesn't ... fit.

No big deal!  Not at all.  It's 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon.  I'll drive over to Jo-Ann's and get more fabric.  In fact, this time ... instead of velvet ... I'll get the right fabric.  I'll get that fluffy red stuff that every other Santa hat in the world is made of.  How hard could it be?

Famous ... last ... words.

I asked a clerk in the fabric department and you would've thought I was asking for plutonium to make an illegal nuke.  "We have the white fur.  Why would you want red?"  "To sew a Santa hat."  "You want red velvet."  "No, I want the red fur that is on the Santa hat that your store sells right there at the front of the store."  "Then buy that hat."

I left and drove to Hobby Lobby.  Their new location is like a crafting warehouse.  Surely they have the right fabric.  I walked to the pre-sewn hats, took one, and carried it to the fabric section.  "I need this."  "Sure!  It's right over ... wait ... you mean that fur?  No ... we have red fleece ... not red fur."  "I want to make this hat right here ... only larger.  You don't sell this type of fabric?"  "No.  In fact, no one does.  If we sold that fabric, no one would buy Santa hats.  Everyone would be making Santa hats."

SIGH ... I'm standing in a sea of cotton and twill and satin and denim and leather ... people can make everything.  Why wouldn't people be making Santa hats?!  Am I really asking for something so outrageous?!  

 How did I solve this ridiculous problem?  I walked back to the pre-made Santa hats and bought two adult-xx hats.  I'm taking my seam ripper ... I'm ripping one seam out of each hat ... and I'm sewing the motherfuckers together!

Seriously ... it has come to this?!

Stoney bought a smoker last week.  We went to two butcher shops on two separate sides of town before we found a beef brisket that wasn't the size of a small cow.  And the butcher took the brisket we bought, cut it in half, and vacuum sealed it for us.  On top of that, we found some neat items at the new store ... like peach cider.  And I picked up all the supplies to make two or three batches of peanut brittle tomorrow.   We got a stand installed on the bottom of the new smoker. 

Seriously ... until I started sewing, I felt like we were on top of the world.  How did I go from feeling victorious over a 14 pound brisket to standing in a fabric department feeling like a complete and utter failure?

Tomorrow is a new day.  I'm going to make brittle ... I'm going to work on fixing our friend's Wii ... and I'm going to try to make a Santa hat ... again.  Keep your fingers crossed, everyone ...

When I woke up Christmas morning it was clear and bright
My parents said my window had blown open in the night
I smiled as I told them that it must've been the cat
And they asked me where I got my big red hat

Harry Connick, Jr. - Santa Claus

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

I Ask For So Little ...


I want to talk about what I don't like about my job.

Let's discuss this in a vague, non-specific way ... so as not to offend any one person or persons.  I'm not complaining about any one person ... just a way in which things seem to work.  In fact, this is really not a criticism of anyone ... other than myself.  Because by writing this, I'm highlighting a huge character flaw of mine ... a complete and utter lack of patience.

So ... here's my bitch.

If you came to me and said, "ThirtyWhat, I'm hungry.  I want a box of macaroni and cheese ... but I've never made it before.  Will you show me how?"  I'm all over that shit.  I'll walk you through it.  Although, to be brutally honest, I'll be thinking to myself, "The directions are on the side of the box, numb nuts" and I'll be judging the shit out of you.   But nonetheless, I will help.

Likewise, if you came to me and said, "ThirtyWhat ... I'm making this box of macaroni and cheese ... but I can't remember how long to cook the noodles.  Do you remember?"  Again, that's reasonable.  I'm all over that shit.  Seven minutes ... spoon out a noodle to see if it's soft enough for you.  Bam. Noodles. Done.

Or how about "ThirtyWhat ... I'm making this box of macaroni and cheese ... but I can't remember ... do I use any butter when I add the packet of cheese?"  Yet another valid question.  

I have no problem with any of these scenarios.

Here's what I have a problem with ...

"Hey, ThirtyWhat ... I know I've made 
macaroni and cheese a dozen
times now ... but I don't remember ...
I boil the water, right?"

Yes.

"Okay, so ... the water is boiling ... 
I put the noodles in the water, right?"
Sigh ... yes.

"Okay, so ... I drain the water, right?  
Is that okay?  That I drained the water?"
Ugh ... yes.

"Okay, so ... is okay that I put the empty box 
in the garbage? I mean, it's empty so ... 
do I need to do something with it?  
Or can I throw it away."
(Sound of my head exploding)

I don't mind answering valid, reasonable questions.  That's the foundation of a good working relationship ... that we can come to each other with our issues.  I get that.  But if you interrupt my work flow to say, "This order says I need to mail a hard copy.  So, am I supposed to print off a copy and mail it to them?"

No.  Not at all.  You're supposed to choreograph an interpretative dance describing the contents of the legal documents ... then videotape yourself performing said interpretative dance ... then mail them a DVD of this same dance.

Jesus H. Christ on a rubber tipped crutch.  Where's the Tylenol.

Round and round,
But the conversation always ends where it began.
Round and round,
And I need a vacation.
I got a headache from you

Kelly Osbourne - Shut Up

Monday, December 08, 2014

Shake It Off ...


I think I might be crazy.

Not people in black cars are following me.  Not that kind of crazy.  But ... definitely not right in the head crazy.

So after a wonderful day of relaxation and fun on Saturday, I had to buckle down and get a few things down at the old homestead on Sunday.  After all, I need to get the place sold.  So I drove over and went to work on the upstairs bathroom.

I threw away a black garbage bag full of half-empty hairspray cans ... eye shadows I used once and hated ... an old makeup box that was full of lipstick and foundations that I would never use ... not in a million years.  After I cleared everything out, I scrubbed down the vanity and the floor and the toilet.  I still need to scrub down the bathtub ... but from the hallway, the bathroom looks completely sparse and clean.

It was at that point, that I started having trouble breathing.  It was probably the cleaning products.  In retrospect, I should've opened a window.  But I heard whistling and realized it was me.  I was wheezing badly.  I went downstairs, dug in my purse, found my inhaler, and had a seat in the kitchen ... just waiting for the medicine to kick in.

And looking around ... that's when everything seemed so overwhelming.  There's so much I need to do.  Stuff I can get done in one weekend ... okay, maybe two ... if I just put my head down and push through it.  But still ... so goddamn much.

I started crying.  I know part of it was self pity ... because I wound up being the only one responsible for someone else's debt and stuck with a house that badly needs upkeep.  It's an immature, selfish thought ... but I can't help wishing *I* could've just walked away from it all.  Part of the outburst was from frustration.  I can't find my grandmother's recipes or my dad's letters from Viet Nam.  For years I kept them in a special box beside my bed and now that box is gone.

I should've worked the rest of the day ... at least for a couple more hours.  But instead I did something completely un-helpful.  I picked up the bag of bathroom junk, put it in the garbage bin outside, locked up the house, and I left.   I spent the next hour or two driving around.  I went to an office store and bought some markers.  I went to Michaels and bought more markers.

It's true.  When I'm stressed, I buy art supplies.

My hands were shaking from the asthma medicine ... so I drove through Chi-Town and got a Cherry Coke ... another un-helpful action since I spent the next 12 hours peeing every 45 minutes.

I went to two Walgreens and picked up three prescriptions.  I went to County Market and got a rotisserie chicken.  I went to Joanne's Fabrics and immediately left.  They were having a sale and the checkout line weaved around the store like a sweaty, irritable snake.  I drove around looking for the Hallmark Store and discovered it had gone out of business.

I just drove ... listening to a podcast called Serial Serial.  Yes ... I was so desperate for entertainment that I was listening to a podcast about a podcast.   I think I spent close to $50 in this rambling quest for who knows what before I decided I needed three things.  I needed to cook, I needed to draw, and, most of all, I needed Stoney. 

So I headed for my new home ... where I made Christmas cards ... listened to more of the podcast ... ate a delicious dinner that Stoney made for us ... and watched Christmas Vacation with him.  He made it better ... he made me better.

Nothing is fixed.  I still have to finish cleaning out the house.  I've come to the decision that no one is going to buy a house right before Christmas.  But I think if I work hard, I could get this ready to go by January 1st.  That seems like a reasonable, attainable goal.   I need to just go in ... work through whatever anger or resentment I have ... and remember that the harder I work ... the quicker I get this behind me.

But I keep cruising
Can't stop, won't stop moving
It's like I got this music
In my mind
Saying, "It's gonna be alright."

Taylor Swift - Shake It Off

Saturday, December 06, 2014

The Happiest Kind of Tired ...


After a four day weekend, you would think it would be nice to get back to work, wouldn't you?  It was kind of the opposite.  The week was long and grueling ... despite the work load being no worse or better than any other week.

I have plenty to say about what frustrates me about my job ... but instead ... let's focus on something else.  Let's focus on today.

Today made up for that entire week.

Last week, Stoney asked if I'd like to go to Peoria today.  He suggested a day trip ... we'd see a movie, maybe go to our favorite bar-b-que joint, and end the day with the East Peoria festival of Christmas lights.  I couldn't wait.  I thought about it all week.  Quite frankly, the thought of going on this road trip probably kept me from going postal more than once.

I woke up about 8:30.   Stoney was, as usual, already wide awake in the living room.  I decided to start the day by texting him from the bedroom.  I sent him, what I consider to be, a hilarious joke ...

"Have you heard about that new movie, "Constipation?"
"Of course you haven't.  It hasn't come out yet!"

That last line ended with a poop emoji.

Omigod ... I laughed until I cried.   He laughed ... but I think he was laughing at me laughing.  He tolerates my odd sense of humor.  But I got out of bed ... curled up in his big recliner and woke up slowly by watching American Horror, and then we got on the road.

I enjoy going to Peoria with him.  He points out all sorts of places ... he worked down that road ... his brother works down that way ... just memories he has.   We stopped at the comic book store he used to go to years ago.  It was still open and was quirky and odd like all comic book stores seem to be.


Mockingjay was good.  Very good, in fact.  What I find frustrating, as a book reader, is that it's a two-part movie ... made out of one book.  So you knew that the story was going to stop mid-way through. 

Side note ... you don't realize how badly AMC sucks balls until you see a movie at a Carmike theater.  Holy crap ... the aisles were wide ... the seats were so comfy and reclined back ... the arm rests pulled up so you could cuddle while you watched.  And it was cheaper.  Take note AMC ... cause I'm considering driving up north to give my money to Carmike.

After the movie, we had dinner with Stoney's parents.  They're friendly and funny ... I was glad they met us.   Dinner was so delicious ... a literal feast of bar-b-que.  A full rack of ribs, a whole smoked chicken, pulled pork, brisket, corn on the cob, coleslaw, baked beans, french fries, and the sweetest corn muffins in the world.   All four of us ate until we were full ... and we still brought home two to-go boxes full.

I've only been to the Christmas light festival one other time.  K, J, Stoney, and I went up two years ago.  Last year, we talked about it.   We really wanted to go ... but between bouts of illness ... and typical winter weather, it just didn't happen.   This year, it was cold ... but not ridiculously cold.  No snow.  Nice enough to open the windows and take pictures.  We drove through the park, listening to Christmas music, and watching the twinkling lights.  It was beautiful.

We drove back to town and had enough energy to get groceries before heading home.  We're both beyond tired ... but it's a good tired.  A happy tired.

Tomorrow will be a busy day.  I have a lot of things I need to get done.  But today was nice ... it was fun and relaxing ... I couldn't have asked for a better day.   I might have even wound up with a little Christmas spirit.   Thanks, sweetie ... I appreciate everything!

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white

Bing Crosby - White Christmas

Monday, December 01, 2014

I Am the Luckiest ...


Happy Anniversary, world.  My first post was November 19, 2004 ... my last post was November 18, 2014.   I've been blogging for ten years. We should throw some kind of cyber party ... crepe paper and balloons and confetti.

It is true ... happiness writes white.

I think about posting almost every day ... but I'm usually beyond tired at the end of each day.   Sure, there's the simple, everyday tasks like working and doing laundry ... but add to that packing and cleaning ... transferring things carload by carload ... working with repairmen and movers.  Most nights I crawl into bed and Stoney says, "You should write a blog post!" and I say (with all sincerity), "I really should!"  But after a hot shower, I'm already mentally shutting down.

This isn't to complain, mind you.  What I do is a just a small piece of the proverbial pie.

If it weren't for Stoney, I'm not sure what kind of Thanksgiving we would have had.  I probably would've bought two pounds of deli turkey, a loaf of that amazing, crusty bread from Hy-Vee, a half dozen Hostess apple pies ... and told people to make themselves a sandwich because I was going to take a nap.

Stoney was on vacation and spent the week prepping the house and the turkey.  Our Thanksgiving was amazing ... so full of family and friends and the most delicious food ... and you can pretty much put that accomplishment on his shoulders.  That clean fish tank?  That's him.  The groceries in the fridge?  That's him.  Aside from dusting and running the vacuum cleaner?  That was all him.

And as if that accomplishment wasn't enough ... he keeps me sane.

I spent this weekend working like a rented mule ... moving things from my house to my mom's apartment on both Saturday and Sunday.  I also met with our good friend on Saturday morning and helped her pick up a few things from my house.  By Sunday evening, I'd completely passed being tired and moved into some kind of agitated fugue.  I didn't even eat dinner.  I couldn't ... I was wound far too tight.  While Stoney had fajitas, I sat there ... alternating between ranting like a Tourette's patient and banging my head silently on the table.

And so, after he ate, he said, "Come with me."  We laid down on the bed and he stroked my hair and kissed my forehead ... and we just relaxed.  For the first time in days ... we relaxed.  I stopped ranting ... finally ... and just let go ...

And so if I haven't told him enough ...

Thank you for making it a wonderful Thanksgiving ... thank you for moving my china hutch and my table ... thank you for waiting on me to put up the Christmas tree ... thank you for listening to me this weekend ... thank you for everything.

I try to put it into words
But the words just sound like mistakes
I try to find a set of chords
But you know how long that takes me
I don't trust my fingers
I don't trust my tongue
The work is too important
And we're no longer young, after all.
When I consider what you put up with
I'm amazed you still have skin
When I consider what you mean to me, 
It's everything.
It's e-ve-ry-thing.

Harvey Danger - Happiness Writes White


PS - I have a lot of things to catch up on, having been away for two weeks.  Idiot's anonymous is out of the hospital and slowly, but surely, healing.   My piano is relocated ... along with my china hutch and my oak table.  All the electronics are out of the house.  So much has been accomplished and yet so much more to do ... in any case, as Arnold said so many years ago ... I'll be back.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hug Your Loved Ones ...


Never, ever forget ... life is short.   In the blink of an eye, your world can change.  I learned that ten years ago when Dad had his heart attack.  And I learned that again this weekend.

Saturday morning, Stoney and I went to a funeral of a dear friend of ours.  He had cancer and had fought the good fight for years ... but eventually we lost him.  The funeral was heart wrenching and by the end, everyone was teary eyed.

After the funeral, we came home and started cooking.  I baked two pans of yeast rolls and Stoney made some delicious scalloped corn.   Saturday night, College One hosted the second annual Goobly Goobly Day ... a Thanksgiving/Birthday extravaganza that is beloved by all.  There are four birthdays ... her, her husband, her step-dad, and I ... all within two weeks.  So given that it's November, she bakes a turkey and we all bring sides.  It was a fun night ... full of laughter and stories and love.

But it was cold and snowing and sleeting.  

The drive out to their house is dark and winding ... and I woke up to the news that Idiot's Anonymous had gotten in a wreck.   Someone hit a patch of ice and slid around into her lane.  The State Patrol said she did everything right ... but there was no way to avoid the other vehicle.

Idiot's Anonymous is lucky to be alive.  I mean that with all my heart.  When you see the pictures of her car and the pictures of the van she hit ... and both drivers are blessed to be alive.  It's going to be a long road to recovery.   She had reconstructive surgery today on her hip and pelvis.  She'll walk.  She's a smart, strong, determined woman ... and she'll be fine.  It's just going to take a lot of hard work.

Just like that ... we went from being a happy, whole family ... to being a family in crisis.   You never know what life has in store.  Hug your loved ones ...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Walk Down Memory Lane ...


I was going to write a blog post tonight ... but after reading Stephalopolis's comment about a possible lead on my hallucinated cheese fever dream ... I fell in a hole.

I spent the evening looking at discontinued food on the Internet with Stoney.  Time just slipped away as we were remembering TMNT Pudding Pies, Chocodiles, and Aquafina.

So ... I'm going to sign off and get some sleep.  But if you have some time to kill ... check it out yourself!

30 Discontinued Foods We Sort of Miss


Monday, November 10, 2014

Calling All Children of the 80's ...


Okay ... so .... I'm calling out to all my faithful readers ... all twelve or so of you ... to help me with a conundrum.

I have a memory.  It may be false.  I have problems with the logic of this memory ... but there are a lot of details surrounding it that seem real.  So I'm asking if anyone else can throw in some facts and verify whether or not this existed.

I have a distinct memory of there being a product at the grocery store.  It was sliced cheese.  I think it was flavored (pizza maybe?) ... and the point of this cheese was that you were supposed to put a slice of it on a piece of bread (toast?), put it in the oven, and it would melt into this "pizza bread" of sorts.

I remember it tasting delicious.  I remember it was one of the few things that my mom allowed me to make for myself.  I remember that my mom stopped buying it because I was a heavy little kid with impulse control issues and I was eating a half dozen of these things at one sitting.

Now ... here are the issues.  I asked Stoney and he has no memory of this type of product.  I Googled and came up with nothing.  I asked Mom and she has no idea what I'm talking about.

Bigger issues?  How would I have made this?  Toast the bread first?  Okay but then how would you melt the cheese?  Microwave?  That would make sliced bread rubbery.   If I put it in the oven, did I broil it?   For me to remember this being something unique because mom would let me cook it, then I had to be young.  She didn't let me just play with the oven for fun.   We didn't own a toaster oven.  So how was the bread not a soggy mess under this slice of cheese?

Did I hallucinate this???

So I'm wondering ... any of you 80's babies out there ... does anyone else remember this?  Sliced, flavored cheese ... meant to go on top of bread and be melted.

Anyone have any ideas?  Anybody?


Fortune, fame
Mirror vain
Gone insane
But the memory remains

Metallica - The Memory Remains

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Miss Me?


Last summer, after we'd come home from his friend's wake ... the night before his funeral ... Stoney and I laid in bed listening to the "One Night Only for Terry Pace" concert that was streaming from the Shoals Theatre in Florance, Alabama. 

We missed the first few minutes ... but we caught most of the music and it was an incredible show.   I won't speak for Stoney ... but I listened to most of the show crying ... partially because it had been such a sad day ... and partially because the friend that had died loved this music and would've loved to have heard it.

Anyhow ... during the concert, Jason Isbell was talking about being in love ... being happy ... and why he stopped writing music for awhile.
"When I’m happy I don’t want to write a damn song … I want to keep on doing whatever it was that made me happy … I know it wasn’t writing a song."
I share that particular anecdote with you because it explains why, in a nutshell, I haven't written anything since October 27th.  After a year of almost writing a post daily, I haven't opened my laptop for nearly two weeks.

My mom complains because I'm not like my brother.   If you knew him, you'd know how ironic ... and misguided ... this belief is.  When he's sad or upset or down, his first thought is to drive back to Illinois and spend time with Mom.  Conversely, when I'm sad or upset, I don't communicate.  I shut down and just stay inside my head.  Talking is the last thing I want to do.

However, Mom would be overjoyed to know that, when it comes to my blog, I am like my brother.  After my separation, all I wanted to do was come here and write every day.  My posts weren't anything brilliant or inspiring or even lucid some days ... but writing was an outlet.   It made me feel better ... like I was accomplishing something in a world where I was accomplishing almost nothing ... where everything I'd come to depend on was crumbling to dust.

Now ... two years later ... that world is gone.

But, in its place, is a new, happy world that I didn't know existed.  A world where the house is bright and sunny ... where friends stop by with their kids on Halloween ... where the house is full of laughter and friends for cookouts and game nights ... where I relax and watch Shameless while Stoney watches football with the guys.

I feel happy ... I feel loved ... and, as Jason Isbell said that night, I want to keep doing on doing whatever it is that makes me happy.   I'll be better about the blog from now on ... hopefully.  I've brought my laptop to Stoney's so there's no excuse not to pick it up and write something ...

Whether it's something worth reading?  That is up for debate ...

So girl leave your boots by the bed
We ain't leavin' this room
Til someone needs medical help
Or the magnolias bloom
It's cold in this house
And I ain't goin' out to chop wood
So cover me up and know you're enough
To use me for good

Jason Isbell - Cover Me Up

Monday, October 27, 2014

So Pack Faster ...


Well, it finally happened.  Everything is upside down now. 

Tonight is the first time that I feel lonely ... and I don't like being in my own house.   I've been writing here about the slow transition ... from feeling like a guest at Stoney's house ... to feeling like a visitor ... to feeling comfortable.

Don't get me wrong, it still feels like I'm using his things and cooking in his kitchen and what not.  And that's the way it should be because it is his house.  But being there feels good.  Doing laundry at his house ... watching Shameless while I'm folding clothes on the bed ... cleaning up the dinner mess ... painting the mailbox ... whatever.  It feels good.

So ... after work, there I was ... driving back to my house.  One of our friends is back in town for a few days, so Stoney had the guys all over for football tonight ... and I have lots of work left to do over here.  So we decided this week I'd just concentrate on my house, getting boxes packed, and getting things ready to move.

Ugh, but I can't lie ... coming back here was depressing.  The house is lonely and quiet ... the night breezes carry the sound of drunks screaming at one another.  His neighborhood is peaceful and his neighbors are friendly.  Everybody's walking dogs or bicycling or planning community garage sales.  Over here, they're standing on porches yelling over who owes who money ... and who should go on the next beer run.

I've got to wrap everything up here so I can be done with it.   I miss him ... but that's alright.  Because if I miss him?  That just means I'll pack faster.

Every time I think of you
I always catch my breath
And I'm still standing here
And you're miles away
And I'm wonderin' why you left
And there's a storm that's raging
Through my frozen heart tonight

John Waite - Missing You

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Yeah, I'm Tired ... But I'm Happy ...


So I'm back at my house.  Going through drawers and filling garbage bags with things I know I won't need.  Old phone books for instance.  Or a year's worth of Entertainment Weekly.  Things that can just be pitched.

Stoney helped me so much this week.  He stepped in and contacted our friend to set up dinner with her and her husband.   He helped remind me of several things I need to get done ... and sometimes a little prompting makes all the difference in the world.  I called the doctor's office and got the missing doctor's reported faxed over to Memorial.  I called again today and got an appointment scheduled on the 31st with Memorial.  All good things!

The one thing I forgot to do today ... I forgot to call Toyota to see if I could get in this Saturday to have my car looked over and have the oil changed.  I'll call first thing in the morning to get that done.  If I can get it in?  Breakfast at IHOP!  Winning!

I've called two contractors to get someone to put the finishing on my front door.  One guy can't get back to me until next week.  One hasn't returned my call yet.  So ... fingers crossed.

All in all ... it's good.  Work is still crazy ... I left the office with a full queue ... and nine or ten orders sitting on my desk to be processed first thing in the morning.  But I have to take it a day at a time.  No sense in getting worked up about something I can't change.

For tonight, I'm going to take a hot shower and look forward to tomorrow night ... when I'll spend a wonderful evening with the man I love ... a couple we both love hanging out with ... and their adorable little girl.  I feel happy.  I feel loved.  I feel blessed.

Oh sweet darlin'
You get the best of my love
Oh sweet darlin'
You get the best of my love

The Eagles - The Best of My Love

Monday, October 20, 2014

Shake It Off ...


Does anyone want to buy my house?  Two stories.  Three bedrooms.  One full and one half bath.  It's two stories with central air and heating.  It also has a detached garage ... although the garage is currently inhabited by a race of advanced spiders who are in the process of planing world domination.  No, I don't have any solid proof about the world domination plans ... but they're overtaking my property one out-building at a time.  I'm sure there's a big picture involved somehow.

I need to call a realtor and get the ball rolling.  But first I need to call someone to empty out the basement and garage.  Quite frankly, the list of things I need to do is so overwhelming that I basically shut down every time I try to think of it.

Along with calling a realtor, I need to ...

Call my doctor and remind them they must fax that medical report to Memorial Home Healthcare as soon as possible.  I need to call a handyman to do the finish work on my front door.  I need to call a plumber about my kitchen sink.  I need to go to Comcast and return one or both of my DVRs and downgrade my service.  And, as of this morning, I need to take my car into the shop and find out why it randomly didn't want to start this morning.  It's working fine now ... but it's better to have it looked over now than to go out some morning and find it dead again.

My workload is so insanely heavy that there were over 100 unfinished orders when I left the office today.  In almost a year, I have never left work with that kind of unfinished business.  So adding that on top of tomorrow's work?  I won't have time to breathe ... let alone take a potty break.

I need to text the girls back ... Miniature Moose has texted me twice about Walking Dead and I haven't had a chance to write her.   College One is planning the Thanksgiving/Birthdaypalooza and I still haven't had a chance to talk to her yet.   And I wrote Baby Z's mom today to schedule dinner this week ... and had to tell her I'd write her later when work became too busy to even have a conversation.

I got home late tonight, as usual ... I balanced my account and ate a small dinner ... and now I'm going to take a hot shower and try to relax even if it's only for an hour or so before I fall asleep.   Say a prayer for me.  Tomorrow is going to be tough.  No joking ... I'm going to be busier than a mosquito at a nudist colony.

'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

Taylor Swift - Shake It Off

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pictures ... Old and New ...


Everyone changes over time.  The person we were when we turned twenty one is a far cry from the person we are when we turn thirty ... and even different still than the person we are when we turn forty.

If you take your high school yearbook out and look at the kids we were back then, you'll see a lot of young faces and bright smiles.  Over the years some of us grew taller.  Some grew gray.  Most grew fatter. Most got married. Some have kids.  Some have grand-kids.  Some got sick.  Some died.

Today on Facebook, one of my friends posted a picture of herself and her husband at Disney World.  I knew him long before I knew her ... but only in a distant, "circle of friends" kind of way.  He was always at our parties ... at weddings ... at gatherings.  My best friend married his best friend ... and I invited him and his girlfriend (the woman who would eventually be his wife) to a wedding shower/pizza party/blowout  at my apartment. 

I have a picture on my headboard of him that I found a month or two ago.  It's from that party. He looks silly.  He looks happy.  He looks drunk, if I'm being honest.  He was tall ... and he was chunky  ... and he was lovable. 

That goofy picture ... that is how I remember him.

The picture his wife posted on Facebook took my breath away.  He has stage four cancer and he is so thin.  So terribly, terribly thin.  He's smiling ... but all the pictures of him smiling now are different.  They look ... forced.  If you saw the picture from the party, he is ... smirking.  That's how he smiled ... or at least it's how I remember him smiling back then.

I know I don't look anything like I did at that party.  I'm fifty pounds heavier.  I find the occasional white strand in my red hair.   I don't look anything like the blurry-eyed girl who is hugging the stuffed, pink pig in the picture.   J doesn't look anything like he did ... and hell ... K is gone.  So I shouldn't hold my friend to any different standard.  If there were a reunion, none of us would look the same.

But still ... it's hard not to be sad.  For all of us.

Going round and round
'Cause you can't get on your feet
Going round and round
Still taking all the heat
Going round and round
Never touching down

The Cars - I'm Not The One

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Putting It All Togther ...


Okay ... there are a few things I have to get together.

First ... my laptop.

I've had a wonderful few days.  Steak fried rice one night ... pork chops another.  A Blu-Ray of Cabin in the Woods and shared popcorn one night ... shopping for groceries and an evening with First Wife on another.

I've been at Stoney's since Tuesday.  Which means ... I haven't had my laptop since Tuesday.  He graciously offered to let me borrow his ... which I appreciate very, very much.  He has a very nice laptop ... same brand and similar to mine but with a much, much larger screen.  His offer was tempting ... and it would've taken care of the blogging issue. 

Unfortunately for me ... fortunately for him ... he's a math whiz.  He has no use for Quicken ... which is the digital equivalent of "Balancing Your Checkbook For Dummies."  It keeps me square to the penny though ... and I love it.

And so ....  without Quicken, I haven't balanced my account since Tuesday.  Not a terribly big deal ... I have a nice cushion in the account.  But since the severance from my old job stopped last month, I no longer have the financial freedom I used to enjoy.  No more wild spending sprees ... and I haven't had a pedicure in at least six weeks!

In any case, balancing is a little more important now.  So I'm going to have to remember to throw it in a bag and take it with me if I'm going to spend any time at his house.

There were several times I wanted to blog about ... some happy ... some sad.  Let's see ...

I wanted to blog about the amazing chicken and noodles that Stoney makes ... so buttery and delicious.  That was happy.  I wanted to blog about the amazing candles we got at Bath & Body Works last month ... pumpkin pecan waffles ... they make the house smell like a Heavenly IHOP.  That was happy.  I wanted to blog about how we spent the evening with our friend and her baby daughter last week ... and how much it hurts to be around a baby knowing there's no chance to ever have our own.  That was sad.

I also considered writing about a nightmare I had that involved a basement full of spiders ... and how I woke up screaming ... and how Stoney hugged me and talked to me and kissed my head until I was calm enough to fall back to sleep.  Not a great topic for a blog post ... but in the end it didn't matter because I didn't have my laptop.

So ... let's add my laptop to the list of things I need to take to Stoney's house.  That list includes more clothes, my piano, china hutch, oak table ... and my old heating blanket since he seems rather taken with the one I bought this weekend.

I'm coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show
I'm coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show

Diana Ross - I'm Coming Out

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

EVERY Win Counts ...


It's good to have a partner who is supportive.  Sometimes I make things that are a hit ... other times ... they're a miss.   I tried a new recipe for homemade biscuits this weekend that was alright.  Not jaw droppingly awesome, but alright.   I followed it up with some BBQ chicken for dinner that I thought was pretty tasty.  Likewise, I made some of this new french onion rice for Stoney tonight that I like ... but the pork chops I made to go with them were disappointing.

I guess that's just life.  You don't know whether something will be good until you try it.   I think the biscuits will be better next time ... I just need to make them thicker ... and put less sausage in the gravy.   Everything new is an experiment ... and I'm blessed to have someone who is cheerful about testing everything new with me.

I'm so hungry.   I just didn't care for the pork chops and I was too tired to make anything different.  Plus we're both trying to eat healthier and I didn't think stopping to pick up a taco on the drive across town was a healthy choice.  So ... I ate a handful of grapes when I got back to the house ... and I'm calling it a day.

I didn't exercise ... I probably didn't drink as much water as I should ... but I didn't have a taco.  So ... I'm going to call that a win.

And hey ... even the small wins count ...

I'm winning
I'm winning
I'm winning
And I don't intend on losing again

Santana - I'm Winning

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Like a Room Without a Roof ...


I try not to get all gooey here about my relationship.  I don't want Stoney to feel weird about it ... like I'm just over here gushing about him.  He knows I love him ... and I try to look at it like that's enough?  But tonight, I want to gush ... just a little.

So, for the longest time, Stoney and I have been talking about me moving in with him.  For most of this year, I think?  We talked about whether I'd be moved in by the end of the summer ... or by the start of football season ... or by the time cold weather hit.  We even had our "test week" earlier this year ... and it went really well.

It isn't that I'm dragging my feet.  I'm just so overwhelmed with the mess of the house ... everything my ex left piled in the basement ... the spare bedroom that needs to be cleaned and everything that needs to be pitched.  I would work on it for awhile and then basically I'd mentally shut down.  It was too much to think about ... so ... I wouldn't.

But this last week, I've been boxing and packing and cleaning.   I measured the piano and china hutch so we could figure out where to put things at his house.  This weekend we're planning on me taking boxes over and basically getting the process started.

He talked to his parents tonight and they were both so positive.  His mom said something like, "It's about time!"  And this is all on me.  The first time she asked about me moving in with him ages ago, I put it all on him.  I told her he needed time to get used to the idea ... and when he was ready, I'd be good with it.  Well ... now ... it's on me.  I need to finish cleaning things out, work with the girls to get them their things, fix the couple things that I'm going to fix, and call a realtor.

I'm happy.  I have a lot to do ... but I'm so lucky ... and I'm so happy.

Okay ... time to pack some more ...

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Fears ... Both Rational and Irrational ...


Today has been ... better!  My garbage bin was (finally) delivered ... and my doctor's office called to let me know they faxed in the order for my CPAP.

Last night was weird and rough ... I packed and cleaned until I dozed off around 9:30.  Then I woke up at eleven and threw up my dinner.  I have no idea what that was about.  I didn't eat anything heavy or spicy ... just half of a turkey sandwich.  So I was tired this morning ... and felt weak most of the day.

Hopefully in the next day or two, I'll get my CPAP and maybe sleep better?  I'm terribly nervous.  I'm afraid of suffocating.  I'm afraid of having those big, ugly, red marks on my face the next morning.  I'm afraid of looking stupid every night.  It's not that I'm shallow ... but I don't have that much going for me as it is.  I can't have permanent red marks on my face ... and I don't want to look any stupider than I already do.

But bottom line ... I'm exhausted.  I've gotta try something.  Ugh ... CPAP ... here I come.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Random Thoughts On a Monday ...


I think maybe I need therapy. Not like in a, "That bitch is crazy" kind of way. Just in an, "I need to get over this" kind of way.

Stoney's friend passed away from ALS a few months ago and today his wife posted an update to his Caring Bridge website. It was a heartfelt note, written to let their family and friends know that they hadn't forgotten about them. They have two younger sons and it sounds as if his wife is struggling to deal with her grief ... along with trying to help two sons who are dealing with the heartbreaking reality that they'll grow up without their dad.

Reading her note brought tears to my eyes. You could just FEEL the grief and frustration in her words. She begged everyone to understand that they needed time and space ... and to remember that everyone grieves in their own way.

This immediately made me feel guilty for everything I've felt about J this last year.  I want to understand that people grieve different.  But I honestly don't feel like I can forgive him for writing me about another woman a week after we'd buried my best friend. 

That sounds like an exaggeration or a lie ... and I'll be the first to admit that I'll exaggerate on occasion if it makes for a funny story.  My dog obviously didn't talk to me the day of that snow storm.  But it made it a lot funnier to tell the story as if he had.  But my posts about J were never an exaggeration.  The week after her funeral, he was telling me about stopping by the bank branch his wife worked at because one young woman was giving him lots of attention, hugging him, texting him, asking if he needed anything.

In the months following all that, I got in an argument with one of our friends over all this. I said something in passing about him having a date two weeks after the funeral. She sharply corrected me and said, "It WASN'T a date." I angrily retorted, "No, but he THOUGHT it was, he WANTED it to be, and he was UPSET when he found out she had a boyfriend."

And that, my friends, is why I need therapy.

Who fucking cares?  I mean ... really?  Who CARES?

So he's an asshole?  So he's a thoughtless fuck who felt like he won the lottery when his wife died. So he's an unfeeling prick who flashed his bank balance (literally) in front of us.  So he's a greedy son of a bitch who bragged about the tax break he got from donating his dead wife's wheelchair?

What difference does it make now?  Why does it still hurt so damned bad? 

I can't think of anything that would help.  I've asked myself ... what do I want?  For him to apologize?  To break down, cry, and say he was wrong?  No.  Because, as frustrating as it is, part of me understands. 

She was difficult to deal with sometimes.  She was in a wheelchair and he was her sole caregiver. They'd lived paycheck to paycheck their whole life.  So why wouldn't he be happy to suddenly have lots of money?  Why wouldn't he be happy to not have to dress and bathe someone?

I understand all that ... I just don't understand why he couldn't see everyone grieving around him.  It's like from the night we stood at her bed in the middle of the night and said goodbye to her ... it's like at that very minute he decided everything was about him ... and no one else mattered.  Not me ... not Stoney ... not her brothers or her nieces ... not his sister or mother ...no one.

I just need to get to a point of forgiveness, I suppose.   It's just hard to believe that one friend is sadly asking her friends to understand why she's taking "so long" to grieve ... while another is angry that people didn't understand his need to avoid grieving all together.

Thoughts in my head. 

Meanwhile ... I pack.

How do I say goodbye to what we had?
The good times that made us laugh
Outweigh the bad.
I thought we'd get to see forever
But forever's gone away
It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

Boys II Men -
It's So Hard to Say Goodbye To Yesterday