Thursday, March 26, 2015

Every Day Another Step ...

Today is a momentous day.

(No, honey ... I still haven't called Direct TV ... but soon.  Soon ...)

No ... today I left our house for the first time since my surgery.  I drove over to my house and picked up the mail, drove to my mom's house to get her mail, and went to County Market to pick up a few things.  Nothing extraordinary or Earth shaking.  But it was something.

This week I tried to do little things to keep moving forward.  One day I put on makeup.  One day I got dressed.  Yesterday, I picked up around the house and made dinner.   Okay, fine ... I "heated up" dinner.  First Wife actually made two dinners for us ... but I put the chicken and macaroni and cheese in the oven ... and I made some biscuits ... so I get partial credit, right?

Unfortunately, the cold that started tormenting Stoney last week has now taken up residence in my head.  I'm congested and snoggily and coughing ... my stomach is aching and I am bone tired.

So bottom line ... right now, I can't tell if the pain I'm feeling is because I pushed myself too hard and did too much today?  Or if it's just part of the healing process?  Or maybe it's just the head cold that's making me so achy and tired?

Probably a little of all three ...

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Hugs and Cookies and Soup ...

Well, I had hernia repair surgery on Wednesday.  Sometimes it feels like weeks ago ... sometimes it feels like hours.  Thursday and Friday were bad.  For three solid days, I couldn't stand up ... or roll over ... or walk to the bathroom.  Basically, I couldn't do anything without Stoney's help.   

For three days, Stoney made bowl after bowl of chicken noodle soup.  He brought me cold ginger ale and chocolate pudding and a beautiful bouquet of flowers.  Despite his ever-worsening head cold, Stoney didn't quit ... even getting up in the middle of the night several times to help me walk to the bathroom.  He was amazing and I'll never be able to thank him enough for everything he did.

So ... I woke up this morning and actually felt halfway normal.  I had energy.  I felt sore ... but good.  I could get out of bed myself ... I could stand up and sit down unassisted ... and I was able to go ten hours between pain pills.  I felt strong ... I felt invincible.

However, as I've been getting stronger, Stoney has been getting sicker.  The DayQuil and Mucinex  supplies in our house are sharply in decline.   And so this morning I thought, "I can make us breakfast!"  It wasn't just a randomly passing thought ... it was an imperative.  Stoney is sick ... he has done everything for me since Wednesday afternoon ... I am making Sunday breakfast for us!

So I shuffled into the kitchen.   I baked a few biscuits ... made a pan of maple bacon ... scrambled a few eggs ... and put them together to make breakfast sliders.  Were they good?  I don't know .. my taste buds are still completely out of whack and nothing tastes right.  My biscuit was warm ... it was edible.  That's about the most I can hope for at this point.

Stoney's fever is down ... so that's a good thing, although he's still coughing and snoggily.  My stomach muscles ache from making breakfast ... you'd think I was doing pushups instead of moving a pan of biscuits from one spot to another.

Time for another nap ... and hopefully it won't be so long between posts next time.

Monday, March 02, 2015

More and More and More and More ...

In grade school, I had a teacher who would be instantly infuriated whenever she heard a student say, "I'm starving."

"Are you starving?" she would begin. "Are you really? Do you know what starving even means?" she would continue as we would cringe and pray that the floor would swallow us whole. "Children in Africa are starving. YOU, however ..." and at this point she would coldly look us up and down with the kind of look which instantaneously spawns eating disorders ... "You MIGHT be peckish.  At best.  But you are no where near starving."

Since meeting this teacher, I have always been keenly aware of hyperbole ... fixedly aware of exaggeration.

I say this to make it perfectly clear ... that when I say, "I am exhausted ..." I mean that I am literally, by definition, completely and utterly exhausted.

I spent last week alternating between feeling like I needed to sit down and have a good cry ... and wanting to curl up in our big, comfy bed and sleep for 24 hours straight.  We went from a perfectly stable, quiet life ... to the wheels falling off the train.  My train is now sitting in a field, miles away from tracks of any kind.

After an ER trip that confirmed the hernia in my stomach, Stoney and I went to the surgeon's office to learn about treatment and recovery options.  It was the first time he'd accompanied me to a doctor's appointment ... and it was both new ... and wonderfully comforting.  We left the office with a tentative surgery date and a plan.  He'd already scheduled PTO in March so he could stay home and watch the NCAA tournament ... now I'd just be a (hopefully) small part of those plans.

We parted with a kiss in the frosty parking garage and I headed off to work, happily believing that things were well in hand.  Less than two hours later, I got a text from my aunt.  My mom had fallen and hurt her ankle.  They were on their way to the ER.  I asked if I should meet them ... and she said Mom said no ... wait until after work.  Okay ... mom fell and sprained her ankle.  This is a manageable calamity.

An hour passed before I texted my aunt again.  Were they in a room yet?  Had mom been x-rayed?  My aunt sent a short, cryptic text.  It said something about them being in the back, mom getting an IV and, what concerned me most, that she was "finally" being given a shot of morphine.  My chest tightened with panic.  Morphine?  For a sprained ankle?  What was going on?

What was going on was a lot more than a sprain.

Mom fell ... and managed to not only break all three bones in her ankle ... she dislocated the bone.  She was in excruciating pain and the foot was hanging there ... loose.  I drove to the hospital and sat by her side while we waited for the orthopedic specialist.  Her ankle was as big as a softball ... and approximately the same hue as an eggplant.  The morphine wasn't helping and she was nauseous from the pain.

The specialist pulled me outside mom's room and told me privately that, due to her age, she couldn't just have the bone set normally.  He said, when treating younger people, they would usually just set the bone and let the patient "scream it out" ... but the risk was too high that mom would go into shock from the pain.

So ... I was asked to take a walk.  I sat in the waiting room while they knocked her out.  They gave her Propofol, reset the bone back in the socket, and put a cast on her leg ... all in the smallest emergency room cubicle imaginable.

Her surgery is day after tomorrow ... two weeks to the day before mine.  They are putting a plate on the ankle to hold the bones together.  It took two days ... but she finally agreed to move in with her brother and sister-in-law until she can put weight on her foot.  It was a rough 48 hours for all of us ... very little food ... even less sleep.

As if all this drama wasn't enough, we think Stoney might have torn his meniscus moving things out of the house.  His knee has been causing him a lot of pain and his doctor is having him take medicine, wear a brace, and ice his knee regularly.  When it rains ... it pours.

So ... if I don't write a lot here in the near future, it's because I'm balancing my time between my job, working on my house, checking my mom's apartment, and checking on her.  I slept a lot this weekend ... but it wasn't enough.  I feel like I could sleep right now.   Is there such a thing as trauma-induced narcolepsy?  Can someone look into this?  I would ... but I'm too busy teaching myself how to sleep with my eyes open ...

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Cookie Correlation ...

I love cookies ... but then, who doesn't love cookies?  Everyone with a pulse loves cookies.  So that should've been our first clue that there was a problem ...

I've been having problems eating for the last week or two.  My stomach just hurts.  It hurts when I eat or when I drink.  Anytime I reach anything near "full," I feel achy and bad.  One night last week, Stoney and I decided to have popcorn ... but after I popped one bag, I gave the bowl to him and passed on any for me.  Just smelling it made me nauseous.

Then came the red flag.  It's Girl Scout Cookie season ... and, even though we're trying to lose weight, you just can't pass up on something that comes around once a year.  So last Thursday, Stoney stood up and said, "I'm getting myself a couple cookies.  Do you want me to get you some?"  I shook my head no.  "How about one cookie?  Wouldn't you like one cookie?"  "No thank you."

Red flag.

I don't turn down cookies ... especially Girl Scout Lemonades.  Cookies are a sign that God loves us and wants us to be happy.  So we should've known something was rotten in the state of Denmark.

Friday night, I was getting ready for bed ... and I felt a lump.  It was above my belly button ... to the right an inch or two.  It was hard.   So I went to Stoney and said, "This is going to sound crazy ... but feel this."  The left side of my belly was soft as usual ... but the right side was hard and painful.  He said he could feel it ... and told me to call the doctor.

Well, it was Friday night.  What are you going to do?  I didn't think my life was in danger ... so I waited to call the doctor's office until they opened on Monday morning.  All weekend my stomach hurt ... and by Sunday, when I took a shower, I could look down and see a rise on the right side of my abdomen.

I called my kidney specialist this morning ... who told me to call my primary doctor since they didn't believe a cyst would get that big.  I called my primary doctor ... who told me that even if they could fit me in, I needed to get a CT scan and I needed it quick.  They said, at best, they wouldn't be able to get me scanned for a few days ... and if I could see and feel the lump?  I needed to go to the ER immediately.

I drove over to the emergency room and Stoney met me in the parking lot.  They took blood and did a CT scan ... and then we sat.  We sat for almost six hours.  Now keep in mind that we hadn't had breakfast ... we hadn't had lunch ... and the nurse said I couldn't have food or water ... I couldn't have  anything until the results were back.  So we sat there.  Tired and worried and starving.   We heard the nurse call down to radiology every 20 minutes ... with no positive results.

And so as we sat there, I began to get punch drunk and irrational.  I wanted a chicken sandwich.  I wanted Stoney to go to the cafeteria and smuggle me up a chicken sandwich.  I wanted him to go to the cafeteria, buy a chicken sandwich, put it in his cheeks like a chipmunk, and bring me a chicken sandwich.   I wanted him to sneak down to the cafeteria with me and get me a chicken sandwich.  He said no to all these options ... but did sneak me a couple ice chips just to keep me from attempting a violent coup, which I was threatening if that damned blood pressure cuff went off one more time.

In the end, I have a Supra Umbilical Hernia.  It's not life threatening ... just uncomfortable.  They sent my results to a surgeon ... and I have to call him in a day or two to see what he thinks about the images.  He'll decide if this is something we need to fix immediately ... or if we can wait and see.  I don't want surgery ... however, I can't lie ... the stomach hurting thing is getting old.

We'll see.  At the moment?  I'm just tired.  I came home and took a two hour nap ... and I'm still tired.  The hospital says my kidney function is down to 18% ... although the calculator I use said 20%.  So I don't know if the fatigue is from the low function ... or stress ... or the lack of chicken sandwich.

All of those things are possible ... well, except for the chicken sandwich bit.  On the drive back, Stoney stopped at McDonald's and brought home the ultimate get-well food ... chicken nuggets.   So my chicken craving has been assuaged.   I'm going to snuggle with him while he watches the Sportyball Combine ... I'm going to read my new book ... and I'm going to try to not worry about the future.  It's worked out alright so far.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mega Winterpocalyps Snowmaggedon Killstorm 2015 ...

So Stoney and I were having a discussion this morning about how we all have this inherent tendency to mis-remember our childhoods.  We have these epic memories of events ... and the majority of these memories are inaccurate at best ... and Victoria Jackson-esque crazy at worst.

Everyone exaggerates the past.  I'm guilty of it.

Like take yesterday morning.  We were watching the morning news while an annoyingly perky anchor was listing off school closings.  I looked at the list scrolling by on the television and said, "What a bunch of bullshit.  I sure as hell didn't get a day off school just because it was cold."

Is that true?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I went to a rural school that relied on school buses to deliver ninety-five percent of the student body.  So if the wind chill was 20 below?  We probably got the day off.  Maybe.  Fuck, if I know.

What I do know is that I have memories that I know are faulty.  I'll give you one as an example.

When I was about three, my Mom was raising me alone while my Dad was in Viet Nam.  It was winter and we lived in a rental home that didn't have a driveway or garage.  We had to park on the street ... which wasn't a problem until it snowed.  And we live in Illinois so it snowed.  A lot.

So one day, Mom needed to go shovel the walk ... so she could then attempt to shovel the car out.  She couldn't leave me alone in the house because I had a habit of eating sticks of butter if I wasn't being watched continuously.  (Note:  Don't ask ... I liked butter.  My mom spent two years finding sticks of butter with tiny teeth prints on them.  I was a three year old with a high probability of atherosclerosis in my future.)

Aaaaanyway ...

She bundled me up and we went outside.  She shoveled a couple feet of space off the walk ... and then put a two step step-stool on the cement.  She brought me down and told me, "Stand on this step stool.  That way you can watch what I'm doing.  Whatever you do, do not leave this step-stool."

She shoveled.  I watched ... probably day dreaming about delicious, un-guarded sticks of butter.  When I got the most marvelous idea.  I climbed to the top of the step-stool ... and ... I jumped.

I jumped into the snow drift ... snow filled the air ... and I immediately sank down until the drift until the snow was higher than my head.  I started shrieking like a three year old, butter-junkie, banshee ... and my mother, I imagine after considering for a split-second how much easier her life would be if she just left me and my poor life choices in the goddamned drift, came and rescued me.

Now my memory of this day is how much fucking snow there was.  It was over my head.  Snow was everywhere ... as far as I could see.   There was so much snow that I almost drowned in it.

But that's not true, is it?

I was three years old.  It probably snowed what?  A foot or two?  After all, I didn't just jump into the snow ... I jumped into a drift.  So even though I'm sure it was an enormous pain in the ass for my mom to shovel all that snow with a butter-burgling toddler trying to commit hare-kari ... this wasn't a storm of the century for Christ's sake.

My point is that memories are faulty.   There wasn't that much snow that day.   Things haven't changed that much for most of us.  There are, statistically speaking, about as many snow days now as there were twenty years ago.  And it's okay to bitch about the cold ... because we basically live on the outskirts of the the Snow Miser's asshole over here ... but try not to make the past quite so epic.  Because it wasn't.

I need you
I need you
More than anyone, darlin'
You know that I have from the start
So build me up
Build me up
Don't break my heart

The Foundations -
Build Me Up Buttercup

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Today's Pet Peeve ... Pennies ... Again ...

I hate pennies.  I hate pennies with an illogical hate that most people reserve for things like world hunger and elder abuse.  I hate pennies.  I don't understand why they exist.  How are pennies still a thing?

Did you know there used to be half pennies?   Because there were things that cost less than a penny.

"Here you go, that will be two and a half cents."
"Thank you, my good man ... here is three cents."
"Thank you, good sir, and here is your half penny in change."

That was a thing.  I get that.

It's 2015.  Are we, as a society, not able to round up?  Seriously.  If I'm expected to pay five bucks for a grilled chicken sandwich, could we maybe not make it five bucks and seven cents?    Yes, I'm sure there was someone back in 1857 who said, "But we can't get rid of the half penny!  Do you realize how much those fuckers will over-charge us when they round up?"

Alright ... they wouldn't have said that.  They would've said, "Soft!  Wherefore should we forsake this coin?  Methinks our churlish foes will hoodwink us by our trusting nature!  They shall purloin our tuppence!"

Okay well ... that's ridiculous.  They wouldn't say that either.  I have no idea what anyone was saying in 1857.   But I do know what people in 2015 are saying.   Why the fuck do pennies still exist?

When Stoney is leaving for work and says, "Hey, hon?  I'm going to run by County Market on the way home.  Do we need anything?"  I don't say, "Um, sure. We need a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk ... oh, and can you pick up a jar of leeches?  I haven't been feeling very well lately?  I don't know ... I think my blood is thick or something?  Yeah, grab some leeches.  Extra strength leeches if they have them!"

Leeches were a thing.  Pennies were a thing.  

Basically, what I'm saying is ... for the love of all that is holy, stop giving me pennies.  They weigh a goddamn ton and I can't pick up my purse anymore.  Charge me a nickle and stop this copper-colored madness ...   

Penny lover, my love's on fire
Penny lover, you're my one desire
Tell me baby could this be true
That I could need someone, like I need you

Lionel Richie - Penny Lover

Friday, February 13, 2015

Even the Smallest Thing ...

It's weird to feel ... safe.   It's a completely alien feeling to realize ... it's okay to ask for help.  In fact, it's not just okay ... it's no big deal.  The only person who thinks it's a big deal ... is me.

I got home last night to find two dozen gorgeous roses on the coffee table.  Next to the roses were four, huge chocolate-covered strawberries ... and a beautiful card ... all early Valentine's Day gifts.  Tomorrow  afternoon, he's having Giordano's pizza delivered to our house ... a gift that's too extravagant ... but one that, honestly, I cannot wait to arrive!

And all these things are wonderful.  I appreciate every petal on every rose ... every bite of every strawberry ... every piece of sausage and each pound of cheese that's gonna be on that pizza.  I appreciate it all.  But that isn't what makes me love him.

What makes me love him is every little thing that he takes for granted.

He makes dinner most nights because he gets home from work first ... and I love him.  When I'm stressed and trying to work on getting my house ready to sell, he offers to do a load of my laundry ... and I love him.  He offers to run by the store and pick up gummy vitamins ... and I love him.  I love that he wakes me up so we can talk for a few minutes before he leaves for work in the morning.  I love that he lets me sleep in on the weekends.  I love that he warms the pancake syrup.

When we started, I didn't feel comfortable letting him do things for me.  I didn't invite him to go along most places because I always expected to hear him say "no."   But ... I'm better now. 

Yes, I still have irrational fears, which he teases me about.  Every time I take another step, I ask him if he wants to change his mind.  "They're delivering my piano tomorrow.  There's still time to change your mind."  "They're picking up the bed at my house tomorrow.  So ... I won't have a bed after tomorrow.  There's still time to change your mind."

He hasn't changed his mind. 

And I appreciate everything.

On a night when bad
Dreams become a screamer
When they're messin' with a dreamer
I can laugh it in the face
Twist and shout my way out
And wrap yourself around me
'Cause I ain't the way you found me
And I'll never be the same
Oh yeah
Well 'cause you
You make my dreams come true

Hall and Oats -
You Make My Dreams Come True

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Relax! It's Paid ...

So ... I paid my mortgage today.  

It's due on the 1st ... but, in my defense, my coupon book says something about paying before the 16th to avoid late charges. 

So ... I always make sure to pay it before the 16th.

Copacetic, right?


I got a call today from my mortgage provider.  They were extremely unfriendly. 

This is a call to collect a debt.
You are?  Wow ... um ... okay.  Is this about my February mortgage payment?
Yes.  Why haven't you paid?
Because my coupon book says I have until the 16th.
It does ... but anytime after the 1st, it's late.
Oh ... okay.
Well, when are you going to pay?
Before the 16th.
Would you like to make the payment over the phone?
Well how are you planning on paying?
On the website. Like I have been. Every month. For the last three years.
I can take your payment over the phone.
I prefer to make it on your website.
We also take payments by Western Union.
Um, is your website down?
Okay, then I'll pay by website.
Alright. When?
Before the 16th.
Okay.  Will you be paying with income from your job?
Pardon me?
Your job. Will you be paying with income from your job?
Um ... how else would I pay?
Well, are you paying with a disability payment? Or a settlement?
How is any of that your business?
I'm just making sure that we get our money.
You always do. I don't understand why you're calling me.
Because it's after the 1st.
I've always paid sometime between the 1st and the 16th.  Look at my account.
I can't see your account, ma'am.
You can't?
No. This is a robo call center. Your name just came up.
So, I have you down as making a promise to pay by the 16th.
And you're going to pay by the 16th?
I always do.
Ma'am, you're late.
I'm not late ... it's the 12th.
Any day after the 1st is late.
I think we covered this.
Do you need assistance?  Illinois has a mortgage assistance program.
No.  I'm good.
And you're keeping the house?
No.  I'm going to sell it.
You are?  Okay, I'll make a note of that.
Alright, and I have a promise from you to pay by the 16th?
(Bangs head on desk) ...

Jesus Christ.  I haven't had a collection call in years ... decades even ... and I sure wasn't expecting this one.  The money is in my account.  In fact, as soon as I hung up, I went to the website and made the mortgage payment.  I just have a bad habit of procrastinating.

Yes, I put it off ... but I always make sure to make the payment before the 16th so I don't accrue late charges.  Apparently that doesn't matter.  It's after the 1st.  So ... fine.  I'm taking steps to sell it ... in the meantime, I will stop procrastinating, and just pay the damned mortgage payment earlier.

I feel irritated.  And stupid.  But mostly irritated.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Presents and Presence ...

This weekend was the perfect blend of fun and relaxation ... combined with a healthy dose of sweat and hard work.  Sometimes work isn't so bad when you've just given yourself a day off.

Saturday, Stoney and I drove out to College One's house and we had our (very) belated family Christmas.  Miniature Moose couldn't join us ... she asked for the day off work but there were too many in line before her.  But thanks to the magic of Apple FaceTime, we were still together.

Idiot's Anonymous is walking!  She's using a cane and is getting around wonderfully.  I didn't get to talk with her as much as I'd like ... as soon as this damned house is done, life will get back to normal and we go can go to dinners and movies again.  I miss my normal life.

Anyhow ... back to the good times.  We spent the day snacking and opening presents ... just talking and laughing.  I played with Sophie and tried to rub as much glitter on their cat as possible.  It was a good day ... and I'm proud of all of us considering we've already scheduled the 2015 Christmas celebration ... so there's no chance of us being six weeks late this Christmas!

Sunday, it was back to work.  And I really have to thank Stoney for this ... because I was really dragging my feet.  I wanted to work on my house about as much as I wanted an ass beating.  I moped around the house ... making excuses, "I'll leave right after I eat something" ... "I'll leave right after this show" ... "I'll leave in another 15 minutes."  He finally got me going by promising to make us a dinner of grilled, BBQ chicken wings ... my all time favorite.  So ... begrudging ... I went.

And here's where I can't lie.  I went to my house and sat at the kitchen table ... primarily because that's literally the only place left to sit in the house ... and I played with my phone.  I sat there a good 20 minutes or so ... feeling sorry for myself.  When finally, my mood broke.  I started working.

Two or three hours later, I had everything moved downstairs.  The suitcase and three bags of clothing ... in the car.  The two old CPUs to be recycled ... in the car.  The two boxes of boxes and keepsakes I wanted are in the dining room.  The small bookcase is in the dining room as well.   I vacuumed the upstairs carpets and swept the twin's room.   The only things left is two or three tubs of photos that I need to sort and bring downstairs ... and with that, the upstairs will be completely done.

I came home to delicious, perfect, crispy, bbq chicken wings ... and, much more importantly, an abundance of hugs and love.  In the end, there's still a lot for me to do ... and a lot I'm going to have to pay someone else to do.  But it's progress.

Thank you Stoney for being patient with me when I'm dragging my feet and being unmotivated ... thank you College One and Mr. College One for hosting last weekend's activities ... and thank you girls for a very merry Christmas. 

I promise this house nonsense will be done soon ... and then I'm taking us all to lunch.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Just a Little Further ...

So I feel a little better. 

Not ... "Wow! I'm getting this done!" better.  But ... "In the end, maybe this will be alright." better.

I spent part of the evening yesterday with College One.  She met me at the house and we filled her car with tubs full of books, big baskets for her and her sister, and a dozen other other odd items.  After we filled her car, she helped me carry all the electronics down.  We filled my backseat to the roof with old DVD players and VCRs and speakers.

But that isn't what made me feel better ...

What made me feel better about it all was her expression when we walked upstairs.  She looked around and said something like, "Wow!  It's so CLEAN up here!  You've done SO much work!"  She's the first person who has seen the upstairs since I started really throwing everything out. 

See ... last week, Stoney was with me almost every night.  He helped me each night after work ... until he hurt his knee moving the heaviest stuff downstairs for me.  We've ordered a knee brace for him ... and hopefully nothing is permanently damaged.  But since he's been hurt, it's just been me ... sorting and bagging ... cleaning and pitching.

So to hear someone else say that I've done a lot ... that helps.

I called this morning to have the sanitation company come get their dumpster ... and I can say that I have a plan.   I have a list of things that need done ... and I am ready to start calling contractors and handymen to do odd jobs.  College One is coming back in a couple weeks to go through a few more things with me ... and her mom is coming to get a bed frame at some point.

While I schedule carpet cleaners and plumbers, there's still lots for me to do.  I can work on cleaning out the fridge and scrubbing the floors.  There is still several things I need to take to Stoney's ... and I'll do that in the next week or two as well.  My new goal is the end of February.  It will take a lot of work, but I think it's do-able ...

In the meantime, I'm going to have to start being a little more careful with myself.  I can't keep pushing so hard.  I went to the recycling center and dropped all the electronics off.  Good news, right?  Except that I had to carry it all in myself.  For liability reasons, the employees can't help you bring anything onto the property.  So I carried a couple hundred pounds of electronics ... one arm full at a time.

I'm proud that I got it done ... but I think I broke a cyst in my right kidney.  When I picked up the last item in the backseat (a large, heavy sub-woofer) I felt a sharp pain on my right side.  There's blood in my urine again ... so I'm going to have to take it easy this weekend.   I've got to be careful ... if I get a kidney infection, I'll really miss my February deadline.

Baby steps, people ... it's all about baby steps.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Uncle ...

So I took the day off work yesterday ... one last gasping attempt to get my house ready to sell.   I feel defeated.  I feel like each attempt I make puts me further away from my goal.  Although I can give you a list of tasks I completed yesterday ... and every other day I've worked ... I still drove away feeling overwhelmed and upset.  I spent six hours at my house yesterday ... six hours ... and yet I still haven't been down in the basement.  Each task I do just seems to highlight all the tasks left to do

Yesterday's goal was to finish the second floor.  I think I came close.  I would like to say I accomplished the goal ... but after six hours, I hit a physical and emotional wall.

My bedroom and walk in closet are empty.  The bathroom is empty.  College One's bedroom is empty.  The twin's room ... sigh.  It's not.  I'm admitting that I need help.  People have offered and I've always said no ... but I surrender.  This is no longer something I can do on my own.

Upstairs I still have six or eight or ten electronic components (old VCRs, DVD players, speakers, etc.) that I need to carry downstairs and take to the recycling center.  I have three tubs of books for College One and a basket and tub for Miniature Moose ... items that I was simply too weak to carry downstairs.  I also have a large suitcase and three garbage bags ... each one full of clothes that I need to bring over here ... but I couldn't lift them.  Did I mention I was exhausted?

I called a shredding service yesterday.  I have one extremely large cardboard box full of old insurance forms ... it must weight several hundred pounds ... and a garbage bag full of cancelled checks, old bills, etc.   I was working on shredding them last week ... but I burned the motor out in my shredder.   So rather than risk using Stoney's equipment, I found a company willing to help.  For $35, they will come to my house, carry my papers to their truck, and shred everything in front of me.  The cost isn't much ... but it doesn't matter. It would be a bargain at any cost just to be rid of the whole mess.

A couple years ago, a good friend of mine (the mother of my two god-children) sat me down and told me, "There will come a point in your divorce when you will agree to anything just to make it end.  It won't be fair ... you'll be screwed over ... but you will agree to chewing off an arm if you can just make it all go away."

She was right.  

Come to find out, that philosophy applies to other situations ... like this house.  I just want it to be over.  It's a financial drain.  It's a physical drain.  It's mental torture.  I'm tired of driving home crying because I've pushed myself to the point of exhaustion. 

I'll be calling the garbage haulers soon ... I'm raising the white flag.

I'm looking for attention
Not another question
Should you stay or should you go?
Well, if you don't have the answer
Why are you still standin' here?
Hey, hey, hey, hey
Just walk away
Just walk away
Just walk away

Kelly Clarkson - Just Walk Away

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Live Blogging the 2015 Super Bowl - The Second Half

The Second Half ... let's do this!


Clash of Titans - A - The Premise?  Liam Neeson plays Clash of Clans and is seeking revenge.  That. Was. Epic.


Dodge - C - the Premise?  Elderly people tell you what they've learned.  For the first 15 seconds, I was going to write and tell you how touching this commercial was ... live life to the fullest ... don't cheat ... life is good.  Then they used that good will ... to sell me a car.  Sigh ... someone's been watching the Don Draper/Kodak Carousel scene a few too many times.


Toenail Fungus - Jublia - D - An animated toe (with fungus) plays football?  Stone is in the other room insisting this is a joke.  Sadly?  I don't think so.

Okay, so here's the thing.  The second half sucks ... at least as far as commercials go.  I'm just quitting.  It's boring at this point.  I'd much rather lay down and read ... or look at Facebook.  Anything that doesn't involve advertisements involving toenail fungus.

If you're into sportyball, maybe it's good?  The Seahawks are up ... 24 to 14.  Is that a lot?  Is that close?  I don't have any idea.  But you know what I do know?

My team won donuts because of some pool score thing ... and a trip to the vending machine.  So ... Yay donuts!

The winner of this half?
The sequel to Ted ...
 and anyone who doesn't
have toenail fungus. 

Live Blogging the 2015 Super Bowl - The First Half

My first year live blogging the Super Bowl with Stoney!  Woot!  And guess what?  This year I actually know who is playing!  Seattle and the Patriots.  Where are the Patriots from?  I don't know ... but Markey Mark was on the pre-game show wearing one of their hats so ... um ... Boston?

Last year, we had a Super Bowl party ... so I didn't blog.  This year, Stoney was inviting to another party ... but his knee is all messed up.  As one of our friends put it?  He has a hitch in his giddy-up.  So ... he's stuck with me.  I have wings baking in the oven and three different finishing sauces ... so ... it can't be all bad?

Side note:  The Patriots came out to Ozzy and Crazy Train.  Seattle came out to The Verve and Bittersweet Symphony.  Um ... one of these things is not like the other?  Confused.

First Break (Pre Game)

Reebok/Crossfit - C - Okay ... so ... I'm conflicted.  On one hand, I'm in awe of these people and what they do. After all, Crossfit is something I will NEVER be able to participate in.  It hurts my kidneys to pick up a six pack of Propel ... that's not a joke ... they impress me!  On the other hand, I have a sneaky suspicion that these people are going to rise up and kill us fatties in our sleep.

Pizza Hut - Crust - Okay so I don't want to talk about the commercial.  I want to talk about the steaming bucket of shit that is Pizza Hut.  I don't care what kind of crust they invent.  Asiago and Parmesan?  Pretzel?  It's all Toe Jam and Ear Wax to me.

Spongebob Movie - Omigod!  I love this!  This is gonna be so ... wait ... what?  This isn't Hot Tub Time Machine?  It's not 2002?  Ohhhhh, okay ... this is gonna suck balls.  Gotcha!

Chevy Trucks - D - The premise?  Women love guys in trucks.  Ugh.  No, we don't.  If you put a douche into a truck?  He's a douche ... in a truck.  Congratulations, Chevy ... you're going to have showroom full of douches there to buy a truck ... fully believing it will make women like them.  Hey, girls?  Know how to avoid dating a douche?  Start avoiding all guys driving a 2015 Chevy.

McDonalds - New Form of Payment - A - Or as we like to call it ... Big Macs for BJs!  Hey ... it gives all new meaning to the Happy Meal!  I'm only giving this commercial an A because I look forward to watching hundreds of teenagers paying for their meals with hugs and all the awkward boners that are guaranteed to follow.  (Side note:  Wouldn't Awkward Boner be a great band name?)

Jurasic Park - This isn't a product ... but wow!  That looks fun!  Chris Pratt is my new actor crush ... I'm kinda hoping, at some point in the movie,  he inexplicably picks up a guitar and belts out a verse of  "Bye Bye Lil' Sebastian!"

Chevy Colorado - D - The Premise?  What if your TV went out?  Fuck you Chevy.  I thought there was snow on the dish again.  Not funny.  Although ... wifi in your vehicle?  Hmmm ... the geek in me is intrigued.

Esurance - B - The premise?  Lindsay Lohan is "close" to your mom.  It's kind of sad when an actress falls to the point she makes money by making fun of herself.  Also ... she's starting to sound like Clint Eastwood.  Please, Lindsay ... stop with the Marlboro Reds.

Toyota Camry - Legless Woman - D - What in great green fuck does this woman have to do with owning a Toyota?  Sure ... she's impressive as hell?  But will owning a Camry empower me to do a fraction of what she does?  No.  I'm doing good to make chicken wings.  Mmmmm ... chicken wings.  I need to check on the chicken wings.

Turbo Tax - Tea Party - C - The premise?  If we could've filed our taxes for free, we wouldn't have fought the British.  Cute enough ... I guess.  This commercial did not involve a puppy ... or a donkey ... or a Clydesdale so ... I'm giving it a C.

Game of War - D - Um ... have you played a game on your phone?  Have you bought one of these apps?  There are no stunning graphics.  There are no tits.  Please, please believe me, teenage boys ... there are no tits.

Tomorrowland - This isn't a product ... but Jesus!  Is it possible for a movie suck harder than a Dyson?  It's a movie about an area of Disneyland.  That's it.  Just the name.  Hey, here's a thought ... let's make a movie called, "Produce Aisle" ... doesn't that sound awesome?!  No ... it doesn't.

BMW - A - The Premise?  Bryant Gumble and Katie Couric don't understand technology ... again.  Damn, that was cute!!  Adorable!   


Snickers - A++ - Brady Bunch -The premise?  When Marsha is hungry, she becomes Danny Trejo ... and Jan becomes Steve Bucemi.  GODDAMN ... that was awesome!  That's easily in the running for the best commercial of this game.

Carnival Cruise Lines - F - John F. Kennedy - Seriously.  SERIOUSLY.  You're going to sell my tickets to a cruise by using John F. Kennedy?  Why don't you sell me a Mercedes Benz using Janis  Joplin?  Oh wait?  You have.  Goddamned soulless marketing assholes. 

Skittles - B - Let's Settle This the Usual Way - The premise?  Everyone from the elderly to babies settle disputes by arm wrestling.  It's creepy ... as most Skittle commercials are?  But oddly fun too.  Also ... um ... can somebody front me some Skittles?  I'll totally pay you back tomorrow.

T-Mobile - F - Kim Kardashian - Save the Data - Fuck you, Kim.  If the only use America has for its data is look at Kim Kardashian's ass?  Take our iPhones.  Take them all.  We're better off without them.

Budweiser - A - OMIGOD ... I LOVE THAT PUPPY!!!

Side Note - I took a break at this point to eat copious amounts of chicken wings.  Were there commercials?  Yes.  Did I blog them?  No ... because my fingers were coated with an array of num num sauces.  So, to wrap this up ... I'm back ... although I'm food drunk and, to be brutally honest, uncomfortably full. This will probably affect the grading curve.  

Nationwide Insurance - F - Dead Kid - The premise?  Kids die.  Did you know that?  Kids die.  In horrible, horrible ways.  Let Nationwide show you a few scenarios.  See?  They die!  Wanna pay for the funeral?  Get Nationwide.  I guess?

Esurance - A - Say My Name.  The Premise?  Walter White is "Almost Greg" ... that was dark ... and awesome.  Not as dark as, "Hey, your child is gonna die" ... but we call can't be manic-depressive goth teenagers disguised as advertising execs.

Side Note - At some point, they played a domestic violence ad that was, no lie, disturbing as fuck.  Disturbing.  Horrible.  Between the dead kids, the domestic violence, and the "Daddy" ads, I think we can safely call this the "2015 Prozak Super Bowl!"

Half Time Show
Hey, everybody!  It's Katy Perry in the Pepsi Halftime Show!  Wouldn't it be great if her backup dancers were called the "Awkward Boners"?!  See, America ... told ya that would work!

First thoughts on the show?  Who put the acid in my chicken wings?  Damnit, Stoney ... there are smiling palm trees and singing beach balls!  Dancing sharks?!  Who gave me acid?!

Stoney just pointed out Katy has a Wii strap on her microphone.  Safety!  Way to go, Katy!

Also?  Before we start the second half? 

Always Panty Liners just commanded us to empower women to have more self esteem.  Know what would give me more self esteem as a woman?  Not having to watch tampon commercials.  Please, corporate America ... stop ... for the love of all that's holy ... stop.

Winner of the 2015 Super Bowl First Half?
Danny Trejo in Marsha Marsha Marsha!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

It's Just a CARD ...

So I'm standing at Walgreens the other day ... perusing the Hallmark aisle.  I was looking for several cards ... one for my mom's birthday ... another for Stoney's dad's birthday ... another for our friend's housewarming.   And I noticed the large (large) section of Valentine's Day cards.

Technically, I still have several unused Valentine's Day cards at my house ... ones that I bought for Stoney then decided not to use.  The first year was extremely hard on me ... I think I ended up buying three cards.  One was too romantic.  One wasn't romantic enough.  One was, as Goldilocks would say, just right.   The next year, true to form, I bought two or three ... and jumped through the same mental hoops ... is this too wordy ... this one is too funny ... this one isn't wordy enough.

Okay.  Yes ... I over think things.  Yes ... I put way too much thought into a damned card.

Our first Valentine's, there was almost no writing on my card ... although I put a lot of thought into his gift.  Last year there was more writing.  I guess I was a little more secure in the whole thing.  This year, I'm once again pressuring myself to find the perfect card.  

So ... back to Walgreens.  I stood there ... picking each one up ... reading it ... then discarding it.

"Dear Valentine ... although we've been married for twenty years ..."
"Dearest Valentine ... even though we've cried a lot this year ..."
Hmmm ... no.
"To my outdoorsman who loves hunting ..."
Christ, no.
"To the greatest husband and dad ..."
Well, we do have a fish ...

This went on for twenty or thirty minutes.  I finally walked away without buying one.

I do need to go back before they're picked over ... but I decided I needed to be more relaxed.   I won't be spending much on Valentine's this year ... we need to save for a new roof.  But damnit ... I want the card to be just right.

Is everyone this neurotic about something as silly as a card?

No, I don't know the name
Of the band, but they're good
Aren't they?
Would you like to dance?
Yeah, I like this song too,
It reminds me of you and me, baby
Do you think there's a chance
That later on I could drive you home?
No, I don't mind at all
Oh, I like you too
And to tell you the truth
That wasn't my chair after all
George Straight - The Chair

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?!"
"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!"

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 ... 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