This grief is making me tired.

I wanted to be writing about backpacking in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula today, to be sharing with you some details, lessons, and views from my recent adventure. But I can’t, not right now. Life as we know it has been interrupted. There’s been a huge bump in the road, a snafu. A shift in the fabric of the universe.

My sister died. And that’s all I can think about right now.

It was sudden. I’m stumbling around wondering what exactly to do with myself, as I have been for the past 28 hours or so. My family came together last night, all who could make it, to cry and hug (two things we do not do often); to offer support and share the pain that each of us were just beginning to feel. There’s been an outpouring of condolences, thoughts and prayers, and well wishes on social media as well as multiple organized efforts to help her husband and two young children through the next few weeks. It’s touching to see the reach my sister has had in her community. She is, or was, an amazing person. Everyone is sorry and sad.

This loss, her death, the permanency of it is only just starting to sink in. It’s still catching me off guard as the initial news did. A sucker punch to the gut, a riptide pulling me off my feet to sweep me into the tumultuous depths. Waves of numbness followed by deep, hollowing grief are washing over me, changing the shape of my soul. I’m not sure what to do with it all, not sure how to adapt, how to be okay today. Or tomorrow. Or next week.

There aren’t words in my head, there is no vocabulary for a world without my sister in it.

My sister and her daughter circa 2014

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A year in review (and what a year it was!)

While my co-blogger thoroughly enjoys looking ahead into the fresh New year & making resolutions I like to sit back at the start of the new year and reflect on everything that happened during the year. So that’s what I’ve been doing… For the past week and a half.

But 2017 was quite a year!!! It deserves some reflection even if it’s coming a bit late.

Change and chaos have been two constants of my life the past five or six years. Between 2012 & 2016 I bought a house all on my own, went through a pretty rough & long divorce (and somehow survived), adapted to a custody arrangement that’s less than ideal (or really even functional), tried real hard to change said custody crap, went back to school, ran a handful of half marathons, applied to dental school and got rejected, & delved into the world of online dating.

And then 2017 came and kicked some ass.

I’ll stop burying the lede here and just tell you: I GOT ACCEPTED to DENTAL SCHOOL!

That was the most exciting change/accomplishment of the year but it’s far from the only one. 2017 was a year of big leaps forward; it was a year of transitional achievements.

In April I finished my bachelor’s degree and graduated from college. As a former teen Mom (way before it was glamorized by MTV) and someone who struggled through my twenties, this was a huge deal for me. I’m super proud of myself!

My oldest son graduated from high school. His junior and senior years were a mix of opportunity followed by frustration and, to be honest, disappointment. He did not go out in a blaze of glory but he did successfully go out. And while he struggles to find direction in life (or even get off my couch some days) I am proud of the kind, decent person he is despite some shit that life has thrown at him. I’m hopeful for his future; I know that once something lights a spark of interest he’ll take off.

Early in 2017 I waded back into the murky waters of online dating this time with in hopes of finding a potentially “regular person”…an actual sustainable relationship (whatever that might look like). In February I met & started dating this guy, my boyfriend. He’s great. It’s been fantastic. And almost a year. I’m super impressed with that. Part of me was not sure I had it in me to sustain a relationship after the mess of my marriage and divorce. I really questioned my ability to trust at the necessary level.

And, of course, there was the usual making and renovating and carrying on of wrangling my monkeys and managing my circus.

When I look back at my adult life there are years that, in retrospect, stand out as pivotal. Years of fundamental shifts; they changed life and created a new direction. (2012 & 2014 for example) 2017 is among those years and life will be drastically different because of it.

Did I mention that I’m going to dental school in 2018?!?!?!

Procrastination, Why Not

Today’s lesson in adulting is brought to you by procrastination. I’m not talking about day-to-day, small time procrastination, I’m talking things that you just kind of put off for years until those little things have evolved into Big Deals that bite you in the ass four or ten years later. When the consequence of your procrastination hits you a decade after you avoided the original (probably very simple) action you should have taken, an epiphany occurs…Maybe procrastination is not always an acceptable lifestyle choice.

Yesterday my gas got shut off. I haven’t had utilities shut off since my early twenties if ever. Generally I pay my bills when they’re due. Okay, fine, within a few weeks of when they’re due. My gas bill is no exception; heat and hot water are important especially when you have kids who will complain magnificently when they have to take cold showers. So how did my gas get shut off then?

I had noticed something was off with my gas bill maybe two months ago. It was very high, maybe twice what it would normally be especially this time of year when the weather is getting warmer. Then I found another gas bill behind the bench in my foyer, an older one. I’m not very good about getting the mail off my porch on a daily basis (ahem, procrastination) and sometimes my kids will grab it and toss it just inside the front door onto the bench. Obviously this is not a very efficient system. I figured I had managed to miss a gas bill so I paid it twice in April and went along my merry way until yesterday. I opened the newest bill (after it had been sitting around for about a week) and, Holy Toledo, it was $500! This could not be right. Clearly there was a mix up somewhere along the line. I planned to call and figure it out…right after I went for a run.

When I returned from my run there was a tag hanging on my front door saying my gas had been shut off. Crap! If I called and got it sorted out by 2pm they’d turn it back on same day. I looked at my watch: 2:05pm. Of course.

I did some sleuthing before calling and discovered that the account number on my bill and the one in my bank’s online bill pay system didn’t match. My first reaction was to think the gas company had changed my account number but why would they do that?  After much waiting on hold and pressing random buttons I was able to speak to a customer service agent at the gas company. She confirmed that my two April payments had not, in fact, reached my account. I mentioned the discrepancy in account numbers and asked if they had changed mine. She said No, they only give you a new account number if you’ve moved. I’ve been at my current address for almost four years now AND I’ve paid the gas bill online for a while…like, five or six years. There had never been a problem before.

Turns out my last two payments along with a heating tax credit I qualified for were sitting in the account associated with my previous address. Then I remembered seeing something on my bill about my payments being forwarded from account and the previous address listed. I had meant to call and find out what that was about. Like years ago. Or even months ago. But I procrastinated. It seemed like such a little thing. Until it wasn’t and we had to take cold showers for a day.

This wasn’t the first time long past acts of procrastination had caught up with me and given me grief. About a month ago I took my sixteen year old son to the Secretary of State office to get his official driving permit so he could log some supervised driving hours and finish driver’s training. The goal was to get him licensed before school gets out in mid June to make getting a job a little easier for him. Considering he had finished the driver’s training class back in February and I was just now getting his permit we were already behind schedule. When we got to the front of the line I handed our pile of paperwork to the state employee, she glanced through it and handed all the documents back. “I can’t give you a permit today” she said “he needs a new Social Security card.” What??

About ten years ago we went through the legal process of step parent adoption so my then-husband (now ex husband) would be the legal father of our oldest who is not biologically his child. At the end of those proceedings we were given a bunch of paperwork to file away for safe keeping (which I still have in a file folder marked “moving checklist”) and someone probably mumbled something about mailing in a form to get a new birth certificate. And, really, I knew this needed to be taken care of. It had been there, nagging at the edge of my busy mind for the past ten years. Every so often I’d dig out the paperwork and think about it but never actually got around to calling and finding out where the paperwork needed to go. When we needed to show proof of my son’s name change or parentage or anything I’d just whip out the fancy looking Order of Adoption. it worked well enough…until it didn’t. Now, ten years after I should have mailed the damn paperwork, we have to wait another four to six weeks (plus a little time for procrastination) for a new birth certificate so we can go get an updated social security card so the kid can get his stinking driving permit. The new goal is to get him driving by his seventeenth birthday in late July. Maybe I should push that back to his eighteenth just for good measure…

The moral of these stories is Just do it! Mail the freakin check, call on that bill, follow up on the mundane day-to-day, bullshit details of life. Why? because nobody likes cold showers, even for one day.

procrastination     procrastination 2

 

Don’t Let Your Dreams be Dreams

There’s at least five important things other than blogging that I should be doing right now. I thought you should know that. I’m not, though, because I just wasted so much time trying to register for the last general education class in my long-lived quest to complete my bachelor’s degree that I only have half an hour before it’s time to pick the kids up from school (and get some ketchup…must remember the ketchup!!!). That’s not enough time to get into studying or listen to a lecture or start a paper.

Registering for classes this go round has been a major thorn in my side. Major! This is supposed to be my last semester. I should be graduating at the end of April. Should be. It’s looking like I won’t because I can’t get into the fucking classes I need. There’s only three of them and I’m getting blocked at every turn. (Eastern, you are seriously killing my learning boner here.) First, the instrumental chemistry class that’s required for my degree only has one section offered…it’s on Thursday evening. If you’ve been here a while you might know Thursday evening is my family’s divorce parenting switch time. No way I can be on campus almost an hour away Thursday evenings. On top of that no other nearby university offers a course that transfers as that. Did I mention it’s required for the degree I’m trying to get? Next, the other chemistry class I need has a lab component that’s a separate two credit class. Guess when that lab is offered…if you said Thursday evening you win. The choices are Monday/Wednesday afternoon (going about half an hour later than I really can stay for) and Tuesday/Thursday evening. But it really doesn’t matter either way because by the time the error on my transcripts that prevented me from registering the first day I could was cleared both sections were closed. I’m waitlisted in the terrible but still preferred Monday/Wednesday lab. I was so frustrated about these two classes that I procrastinated until today to register for the gen. ed class I need. Art. Turns out all the “good” art classes are full. *sigh* Online music appreciation it is.

This litany of registration frustrations (along with the super challenging microbiology class I’m taking this semester) have lead me to ask What the fuck am I doing? I probably won’t be able to get a job with the bachelor’s degree I’m getting (or at least trying to get) and if I can barely pull a C in microbiology is dental school (my long term goal…at this point) really realistic? My inner Debbie Downer is reminding me that I’m already thirty-five and up to my eye balls in student loan debt, that I’ve got five kids to take care of, that if I go to dental school I may never have the time to date. Ever. (Well, at least not until I’m, like, forty so basically the same thing.) It might be time to cut the losses and quit while you’re just barely not ahead, she says.

Clearly I’m in need of some redirection, a little motivation perhaps…

That’s right, it’s time to embrace my inner Shai LaBeouf and …JUST DO IT!

So my new motto for this season of my academic journey is: Don’t let your dreams be dreams.

I’m pretty sure I’ve been to the point others might have given up and have kept pushing through. Whatever, I guess I can do it a little longer. What’s one more semester anyhow? I’ll still graduate…eventually. I can still apply to dental school; I’ll asses whether I can hack it or not if (when?) I get in. Why borrow that problem from tomorrow? I’ll get to it when I get to it. And besides, dating is totally overrated.