The Things we Keep and the Things we Carry

It’s hot and muggy, we don’t have central air and there aren’t enough fans in this giant old house with it’s high ceilings and plaster walls. The stagnant heat makes us all a little cranky, that and everyone having consecutive days of various friends sleeping over. Everyone except me. I don’t get any friend sleepovers. (Sigh) The house is a mess, the kind of wild, uncontrollable mess that comes from six people being home all day. The piles are every where pressing in on me, mimicking the heat in their attempts to smother me.  Papers, laundry, shoes, dirty dishes, the debris of daily life in its natural state. Entropy in action. It’s surrounding me.

In the one small window of my dark bedroom there’s an air conditioner humming, the door stays shut to trap in the precious cooler air. It gives a momentary reprieve from the heat if not the mess. Here, too, the piles haunt me. Predominantly laundry that I haven’t found the time or space to put in its proper place. I’ve been lead to believe neither the “clean” basket nor the end of my bed is considered the proper spot, though my patterns of behavior especially of late beg to differ. Normally it doesn’t bother me but the heat and crabbiness of the day make me want this laundry to be somewhere other than the floor and furniture. In fact, I want all the mess to be somewhere else. I want it all gone. There’s just so much stuff. Why is there so much stuff?

A couple months ago I cleaned out part of my basement in the process of creating a work out area. My kids and I have been in this house for almost four years now, double the longest time we’ve lived anywhere else. As we were sorting through the stuff that had collected in the basement a theme emerged. Boxes. For some reason there were a lot of empty boxes in my basement, specifically the boxes that stuff came in. Packaging. There was so much empty packaging that I had held onto for some reason or another. There was a box from one of my daughter’s nicer dolls that was a birthday present when she was seven or eight, the packaging of a remote control helicopter I bought off Groupon three Christmases ago, even the box from my vacuum cleaner…and a few more. I have no idea why I kept them but there were So Many Empty Boxes. Occupying space with no known purpose.

I didn’t realize I was a collector of boxes until I saw it all compiled, it got me thinking: Why? Why did I keep all that empty packaging? Why bother storing it for years and years? Seriously, you could compose the history of my purchases with all the boxes thrown haphazardly in the corner of my dark, dank basement. It’s like I was never quite convinced that I wouldn’t be moving again soon. I might need to pack up all that stuff and transport it in a year or two like I had before. Or maybe I thought I’d be desperate at some point in the near future and have to sell stuff on Ebay, just to get by. I’ve done it before. Things are more valuable with their original packaging.

It wasn’t just the boxes that I was storing without awareness.

In the back of my closet there’s a dress. It’s a shorter black shirt style dress with bold, angry plaid trim and shiny metal loops and buckles reminiscent of punk rock fashions. Years ago I had a skirt that was similar, I’d wear it with a cut up t-shirt, ripped black tights, and my Doc Martens. But this dress, I’ve never even worn it. My former sister-in-law bought it for me at the salvation army maybe six or seven years ago. We used to be good friends and when she saw it she thought of me. Shortly after that the shit hit the fan and divorce ensued. We haven’t spoken in years, my once sister-in-law and I. I tried to reconnect with her after the dust settled but I guess blood really is thicker than water and she wanted nothing to do with rekindling our friendship. I still have the dress though. It’s survived many purges. I just can’t seem to let it go. I’m thirty-six now, it would be a little ridiculous for me to wear it but there it hangs in my closet.

There are other things too. Torn t-shirts and jeans with worn out knees that I meant to make into something useful and fun, a grocery bag of washed out tin cans that were supposed to become C3PO, my dad’s cross country jersey from college, a watercolor of me on my wedding day that was a gift from my ex husband on our first anniversary.

It always made me uncomfortable, this painting of me standing there in my elaborate wedding gown and fancy hair, but I still have it more than two years after the divorce. Partially because I’m not sure what to do with it, throwing it away doesn’t seem right. Partially because I forget it’s there (out of sight, out of mind) until I stumble upon it again while searching for something else. Then all those  feelings come back, the awkwardness and discomfort I felt when it was given to me, not knowing how or whether I should let on that I didn’t love this painting of myself for fear it would be perceived as personal rejection and scorn by my brand new husband. Even in the early years of marriage I knew I had to tiptoe around his unpredictable feelings. I knew that having a reaction that was less than he expected would be construed as total rejection of him as a person; I couldn’t not love the gift and still love him, not in his mind. So I danced around what his reaction to my reaction was going to be and adapted as I saw fit. That tailoring and filtering, the inability to be authentic, I’ve tried to get rid of it, to throw it out, but remnants of it hang on. Scraps of it are woven into the fabric of my being, something I keep and carry whether I like it or not. And I don’t. It’s there though, as real as the mess in my sweltering home. It’s just one of the things that holds on, gathering dust in the corners until it finds an opportunity to remind me of its presence. There are things I carry, without even realizing, that do not have a place in my newer life, the one where I don’t dance unless I want to. The one where I’m the king of my own castle, albeit a mess of a castle. But I can’t seem to let them go. I have trouble discerning between the things I should keep, the useful stuff, and the things I carry. The stuff that weighs me down, the stuff that should have been let go of long ago.

 

Why am I doing this?

wtf meme

I keep asking myself this but I haven’t gotten an answer yet.

Today was my first day of classes for the new fall semester. I was slightly wary going into it, my class schedule is really not the greatest. Especially for me. I’ve got on-campus classes two days a week, Tuesday and Thursday, one in the morning and one in the evening with four and a half hours between them. (And of course the evening class makes it so I’m not home during divorced-parent switch time. That raises the stress of my schedule exponentially.) I’m still not sure what to do with myself in those four and a half hours. I also don’t understand why that one last chemistry class I still need to graduate doesn’t fit nicely in that space. I mean, it would but the university either didn’t realize or completely missed the memo on that one.

Really I should have picked up some easy bullshit class to fill the time and ,in doing so, avoided fucking up my financial aid. Of course I didn’t realize the financial aid was effed up until two days after my overages were supposed to be deposited into my account so I could buy books. In case you missed it, they weren’t. I’m sans student loan money until mid-September. And even then it’ll probably be less than I actually need and have gotten before. I could look at my student account and see what the adjustment yielded but I’m a little afraid to see what I’m dealing with. Which brings me to the main point of this ramble…

As I walked out of my first class (which ended less than an hour after I got there) feeling a mix of excitement, relief, and trepidation I began to wonder why I’m doing this whole school thing. Later, sitting in the three hour biochemistry lab marveling at how much I forgot since May, that thought popped back into my head: Why am I doing this? Wouldn’t we all be better off if I just worked more at my job or picked up a second job?

Things have been a struggle lately, specifically financial things. They’re piling and piling and I’ve got no exit strategy. And here I am during perfectly good working hours sitting in class accumulating student loan debt. Why? It’s supposed to make life better but I’m not sure this whole college thing is doing that. I’m happier but only when I don’t try to fathom how I’m going to pay for this education I’m (according to some people) selfishly acquiring. And, really, am I making my kids lives better by not being there when they get home from school, by constantly scrambling to patch together rides home from school and cross country practice? I’d like to think, yes, that it does do something, that it is and will continue to make our quality of life better. Maybe I’m operating on sunk cost premises here and maybe this is my competing fears of both failure and success but I if I quit now ,like I’m occasionally so tempted to do, there is no gain. Nothing at all.

I’m  ninety-percent sure this is all self-doubt and beginning of the school year angst. Tomorrow I’ll review protein chemistry and be happy to be learning new things again. I’ll remember that I really do want to be a dentist and have for a long time. I’ll think about all the cool things I’ll do for my kids and others when I am. I’ll find a way to work a little more this term and still be awesome  acceptable at my studies. And I’ll, once again, convince myself that it’s part of the process. Eggs breaking and omelets and all that.

first day of school 16.jpg

My kids are super thrilled about the start of a new school year too.

Let Them Eat Pie

Because avoidance is my go-to coping mechanism when life is getting crazy (which of course just makes it even more insane), I keep thinking about ways to prepare for the start of the school year, or as I’ve taken to calling it, the Oncoming Storm, but I haven’t actually done anything yet. My daughter did convince me to take her to the nearby outlet mall last week for some new school clothes but all the other things, school supplies, much needed socks and underwear, pre-prepped freezer meals, groceries beyond microwavable foods and ice cream…those are all still in the theoretical stage. I did, however, make some pies. Because that’ll be super helpful when we’re getting home from school and practices at seven o’clock when everyone is tired, hungry, and stressed out from being awake, functional, and around people all day. (In our household of six, only one of us is an extrovert.)

Come to think of it, a stock pile of pies on my freezer might be useful after all.

First there was strawberry rhubarb…

pie strawberry ruhbarb

..which got eaten within the week. Then there was summer fruit, blueberry, and a bastardization of the two…

I got the fruit ingredients for a summer fruit pie (peaches, nectarines, plums, strawberries, and cherries) and blueberries early in the week but didn’t get around to making these pies until the fruit was on the brink of going bad. When I’m looking ahead at the week it always looks like it’ll be relaxed and there will be time for some baking and making but something happens, time gets all wibbly-wobbly, and suddenly it’s Thursday and I’ve barely maintained for the week. And before you know it, BAM!, it’s September.

So there I was Wednesday night with fruit that was getting mushy and a week that was running out (my weeks end on Thursday, not Saturday or Sunday like most people’s). The only thing to do was mass produce. This was going to be a three pie night.

I used my favorite pie crust recipe. It’s basic, only flour, salt, shortening, and very cold water, but always turns out good. It helps that it’s a lot less dry than many crust recipes and that lends itself to easier rolling and shaping especially when using the wax paper roll out method. (okay, I just made that name up but it does describe the process pretty well).

After mixing the dough and pressing it into a ball (and separating it into two if you’re doing double crust pie), wrap the ball in wax paper and press it down into a disk that’s roughly an inch thick. No need to be precise though. Stack your disks in the refrigerator for however long the recipe says to (in this case twenty minutes or so…again, we’re not being precise here).  If they’re super stiff afterwards, let the wrapped disks of dough sit at room temperature for a few minutes before rolling them. Gradually roll each disk of dough between two sheets of wax paper until it’s nice and thin and big enough to cover the bottom and sides of the pie pan with some overhang.

 

pie empty shells

Once the crusts are all rolled out you just remove one layer of wax paper and flip the crust into the pie pan. This eliminates some of the breaking dough and frustration of trying to keep your crust in tact while putting the pie together. After the shells are filled, roll the top crust out the same way and place it on top. Pinch the excess dough from both bottom and top crusts together in whatever pattern or shape you want, cut a few slits in the top,and you have a pie. Or three.

pies finished two

I used the dough that was trimmed from all the edges to give this pie a sun/star type thing. Yeah, it’s a little messy but by that time it was two int he morning and I was rocking a two-beer buzz while making pies and watching Orphan Black. (I’m pretty sure that right there is  adulting done right!)

pie smiling

pies finished

Ta-da! Three pies…

pies wrapped and waiting

…wrapped and ready to freeze so that when the chaos of back to school is in full swing we’ll be able to enjoy a little taste of summer.

Riding the Struggle Bus

As you may (or may not) remember, I signed up to do the Detroit half marathon this year. It happened in a brief moment of impulsiveness when my judgement was clouded by post-race endorphins… but even then there was a small voice niggling at the back of my brain saying something about that maybe not being such a great idea. Don’t get me wrong, with three half marathons under my belt I’m starting to grow fond of the 13.1 distance and I’ve really enjoyed preparing for these races the past couple of years. But this fall is looking like it’s going to be a crazy one. My class schedule is less than ideal, my oldest is a senior in high school which means college stuff, and it’s cross country season. Did I mention my insane class schedule?

half marathon meme

It sounded like a good idea at the time.

There is not much time in my fall for training for a big race and that was before I got the middle school cross country coaching position at my kids’ school.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited about coaching. As my eleven year old pointed out, I get paid (a very little bit) to share my love of running with others. And so far it’s been a fun experience. It does cut into my own personal running time. In fact, I did not even log fifty miles in July. WTF?!?!

Part of that can be blamed on the whole dental school application/completing shadowing hours thing too (yeah, I’m totally milking that for all it’s worth) but no matter what you blame it on, here I am barely a month and a half pre-race and I haven’t run more than six miles in…months? So much for just maintaining my level of conditioning from the last half marathon. It was a nice idea while it lasted.

Really my mileage for August doesn’t look too bad, I’ll probably hit 75 and a lot of those came from doing two runs on the same day. One at practice with the kids (usually at a pace slower than my not-all-that-fast norm) and one a few hours later when I’d pound out a quick three miler in the dark just so I can say I got my miles in. So last night I decided it was time to get back on the horse and log some double digit runs.

My goal was to get up early (for me, probably late for most adults) and head to the park to run the ten mile loop. It sounded like a great plan right after cross country practice where I had run four miles in a nice, light rain and then got poured on as the team stretched and did a little core. In the morning after staying up way too late making pies and drinking beer while watching Orphan Black (my new tv obsession), ten miles did not have the same appeal. I procrastinated and whined a little before changing my plans and mapping out a ten miler around town.

Around 11am I finally headed out to run. It was terrible.

I hadn’t realized how muggy it was. My first mile was decent but then I started to feel tired, my legs felt heavy and my lungs incompetent. I slogged on but found myself really wanting to walk around the two mile mark. You know it’s going to be a bad long run when you are tempted to walk before even finishing three miles. I tried to motivate myself by thinking of all the crap  motivational things I say to the middle school runners to keep them running when they want to walk. I reminded myself that if eleven to thirteen year-olds can push themselves to run so can I. It wasn’t really working though.

Clearly this run was just going to suck. Some do.

After seven miles I decided to throw in the towel and call the game  run. It was time to head home. All total today’s long run was nine miles. Nine long, arduous miles of self-inflicted torture. And a very good reminder that it’s time to get my shit together and plan some long run times. One ride on the struggle bus was enough for me, I do not want to spend thirteen miles running in front of other people if it feels like that!

So, the new goal is to figure out when and what my training schedule is going to be so as to not embarrass myself in Detroit in October. Also, I wouldn’t mind another half marathon PR…if it’s not too much to ask for.

wtf meme.jpg

I ask myself this ALL the time!

 

Eyes on the Prize: A 10k Recap and Some Other Stuff

This weekend was my small mid-Michigan town’s annual Melon Fest. Really the only part of Melon Fest I take part in is the Melon Run. It’s been my favorite 10k race because it’s close to home (I literally jog to the start line) and it’s an evening run so no 6am wake ups on a weekend morning. I’ve even placed in this race both the years I’ve done it but this year I was going to pass on it. Right now money is tight and time running short. The melon run was going to be one of those minor casualties of the overly busy summer I’ve been having…until I saw that they were handing out growlers from a local brewery as prizes this year AND it fell on a weekend that the kids were home. That sealed the deal. Beer and running with my kids? It’s barely even a choice, I basically had to do this run.

This time I got three of my kids in on the fun. My oldest did the 10k “with” me (he was exactly fifteen minutes faster than I was), my eleven year old did the 5k, and my little guy did the mile fun run. As an added bonus a handful of the kids on my cross country team participated in the run with us since practice had been cancelled. The other coach is out of town doing an Iron Man and I was doing the Melon Run. So instead one middle school girl (who is quite an impressive little runner) ran the 10k (and won her age division) too while four of the high school runners and six middles did the 5k. Having such a large group of runners and parents made the melon run even more fun.

elijah melon run

There’s my little guy towards the end of his mile.

As far as the actual running goes, I wasn’t feeling my best on Friday. There had been a couple days during the week that contained very little sleep and, even though I was exhausted, I had not slept very well the night before. I was dragging and feeling a bit dehydrated throughout the 6.2 miles. I stopped at almost every water station and walked a little too. I was struggling to keep myself running and even the thought of winning a growler was losing it’s motivational pull. The race finishes on a gentle up hill and  I desperately wanted to walk that last quarter of a mile but there was no freakin way I was going to do that with my kids, part of my team, and other parents watching me. While my inner voice was complaining and whining, I forced myself to pick up my feet and push up that stupid hill to finish the race. It wasn’t pleasant but I’m glad I did it; I just barely made the Under an Hour mark…which to me is anything under an hour and a minute. My official time was 1:00:39. It counts.

melon run me & C

And it was good enough for second in my age division. Obviously my big guy won his and we got growlers so I was happy. Now I’ve got a complete set of first through third in my age division from this run. Of course, two are medals and one’s a growler but still, prizes all the same and who doesn’t love a prize?

Speaking of prizes, late the night before the run I got and email from the ADEA dental school application system saying my application was processed and complete. I had submitted it just ten days prior. They tell you it takes four weeks to process and I was sweating my perceived tardiness in getting the thing completed. Shortly after that email another came through, this one from the actual dental school I’m hoping to get into (and the only one I applied to), saying that they had my application. I know it’s a tiny tiny part of this whole process but hearing that the school has my application felt like big news to me. This whole dental school thing might actually be happening. Holy Shit!

The past three months I’ve been sweating and stressing over the dental school application and getting it done and submitted. Everything else took a backseat while I struggled through June and July to get all the pieces in place. My running took a hit, there were no vacations or fun beach days, no extra work shifts, it all went on hold. But now there was email confirmation that I had gotten it done. All summer it’s been eyes on the prize and here was proof that the prize is within reach. It’s a great feeling.

growler prize

 

Slow that Roll

I woke up feeling like I had something stuck in the back of my throat. I couldn’t see or feel anything with my finger so I ignored the sensation and went about my somewhat hectic day. It was my oldest son’s family birthday celebration and I had thirty to forty people, most of them small children, coming for dinner. My family is laid back and fun; hosting a birthday dinner for them isn’t as stressful as entertaining that many other people would be. Besides, I’ve totally embraced the idea of “scruffy hospitality” (I’ve been meaning to write about that). But still, it makes for a busy day. As the dinner was winding down and people were drifting off to the backyard, front porch, or living room to relax and socialize I realized my throat hurt more than it had earlier. I went to the bathroom and AHHH-ed in the mirror to see what I could see. There, way in the back on the left side, was a white mass at least a couple centimeters across. WTF?!? So of course I tried to touch it.

Whenever I see white bumps in my throat I think strep. It’s happened before, it could happen again. I’m not very good about taking care of myself and regular medical care is something I definitely slack on but strep throat motivates me to seek medical attention asap. Plus I was scheduled to volunteer at a low-income dental clinic the next day and shadow a geriatric dentist the following. Even when I ignore my own health, I try to be conscientious about protecting other’s, especially the elderly. So, after everyone left, I trucked myself off to urgent care for a throat swab. I wish they’d just start selling those rapid strep tests over the counter already. But they don’t.

Turns out it wasn’t strep at all. I had an epitonsicullar  abscess. Basically an infectious mass was sitting on my left tonsil. Not contagious, but still requiring antibiotics. After asking about my gag reflexes and some reassurance that I would not, in fact, vomit on her, the ER doctor poked the mass and then swabbed it for a culture. She lectured me on the importance of following up in the next couple of days, saying that if the abscess didn’t go down with antibiotic treatment it may have to be lanced. That sounded simultaneously cool and dreadful. Downright cool to see on someone else, maybe not so cool to actually experience. So I followed her instructions.

The abscess did respond to the antibiotics. I was dragging for a couple days but at least I could still get my shadowing and volunteering hours in that week. I was really pushing to finish the required hundred by the end of July. I did not have time to deal with an infection! After that week the shadowing hours were done. It was a giant relief but my kids’ 4-H fair was immediately following. There was a bunch of craft projects to finish, horse show stuff to gather and prep, and parenting time logistics to haggle over. We got everything done in time but jut barely. There was a Thursday to Friday to Saturday morning that was downright insane. I may have broken my previously impressive record for Least Sleep in 48 hours. But things and people got where they needed to be and we all survived fair.

fair

Since late April and the end of the winter semester, I’ve been hustling to complete all the necessary items for my dental school application. I’ve been hurrying along to check all the boxes and get the thing submitted in as little time as possible. People would ask when the application is due, my reply was “As soon as possible.” Sure the deadline isn’t technically until October (January for some schools) but early applicants get first consideration for interviews and with a couple thousand prospects vying for a couple hundred spots you need every advantage you can get.  Those applications though, there’s a lot to them. It’s tough to get a hundred shadowing hours in when you’re in school, parenting five kids and their struggles, dealing with an ongoing change of custody hearing and you still have to work…because someone has to fund this rock n’roll lifestyle!

Originally my goal was to be ready to submit that bitch by the end of June, first week of July at latest. I quickly realized that just was not realistic. My self-imposed deadline for the shadowing hours got pushed back to the end of July with hopes of application submission very early August. It was touch and go for a while there but goals were met, the application was submitted at 1am on August 7th.

All summer my mantra has been Make it to August. Just get through to August and I’d get some summer. There would be relaxing, crocheting, reading actual books, and as many beach days (preferably at a Great Lake) as I could squeeze in. Last week was the second in August. On Monday my kids (well, three of them plus one friend and one cousin) and I went to Lake Michigan. It was awesome, relaxing and enjoyable on so many levels. But we were out pretty late and the drive home included dropping the extra kids off and collecting the dog. We got home after midnight. As the only adult and the only driver on the trip I was exhausted. Three of us had to be up early in the morning for one of the many, many appointments we’ve had this summer.

made it to the beach

Made it to the beach. Yay summer!

Seven-thirty came way too soon. I dragged my sandy, dirty self out of bed for a much needed shower, woke the two boys who had appointments that day and rushed around like the insane person I sometimes am. Part of me desperately wanted to call and cancel the appointments. Traffic was going to be terrible and we were already running late. I didn’t even have time to make real coffee and where the fuck had all my little guy’s underwear disappeared to? But those aren’t viable reasons to cancel at the last minute.

Really I blame the underwear.

We left the house late. Again. I was exhausted and felt frantic and frustrated. Again. After fifteen minutes of driving slightly above the speed limit we were at a stop. And then a crawl. And then a stop. Cars as far as the eye can see. Ugh!

Maybe if I got into the right lane I could exit and take a short cut. When does that other freeway split off? I think that’s on the left. There had to be a quicker way to get there. We were twenty minutes late two weeks ago. Once is okay, twice is embarrassing. I really don’t know this area well. Is getting off the freeway actually going to save me time? Maybe Google Maps will have the answer.

I picked up my phone and hit the “recent places” tab in the maps app. My stupid fat fingers hit the wrong thing. I glance down again to find it, look up and OH SHIT! Mother Fucker!

The Ford Taurus in front of me had stopped. Instantly I know I can’t in time but I sure do try. Foot slams on the break pedal as I hear more than feel the crunch. Crap crap crap. I knew I should have cancelled these appointments.

After asking if the kids are okay and pulling well off the freeway onto the left lane shoulder, I jump out to assess the damage. Radiator fluid is flowing out of my car in large quantities. It would almost be impressive…if it wasn’t spewing forth from my car. The new one that I just financed three months ago. Fuck me! I’m not even sure who to call or what to do here, I’ve never been in an accident before let alone caused one. The guy I hit looks petty pissed as he begins making phone calls, not saying a word to me or even making eye contact. I can’t blame him, I deserve it.

In fact, I really had this whole craptastic situation coming. I could have listened at the first or any of the many smaller signs that I was just barely holding it all together and slowed down. The infection was the warning shot, I paid it no attention. Now the Universe was taking me out at the knees. It was working. Perspective was being gained. Things look very different when you’re flat on the ground looking up.

My pace of life the past couple months has not been sustainable, eventually something had to give. While I wish it wasn’t my Volvo I’m glad the only damage done was to my car (and possibly my already tenuous finances).

In two weeks things get more than a little crazy again. I’ll be starting my last semester of undergraduate classes. My class schedule is not good but my choices here were limited. My five kids will be back in school at the same time; it’s my oldest’s senior year. The fall is also cross country season. I’ve signed on to be my kids’ school’s middle school cross country coach. I’m simultaneously excited and intimidated. Part of me is wondering what I’m thinking taking that on right now…it’s a lot. My life is always a lot and I continue to add to it. I need to simplify, to slow my roll. The question is how?

great lakes

Not the same beach or even Great Lake that we went to this time…

 

I think I can’t but I know I can

You know that scene in the movie Last of the Mohicans where one of the characters cuts into the chest of his opponent and pulls the guy’s still beating heart right out of his body then holds it high above his head while yelling…something?  That scene sums up how I felt as I walked the wrong way through the metal detector out of the boring official brick building into the sweltering heat. Except I hadn’t been cast as the triumphant warrior holding the heart in the air. No, I was the other guy. The one standing there staring at the gaping hole in the middle of his body wondering what the fuck just happened. He’s the one I can relate to right now. That guy. Some days the Universe should hand us an “I Survived” t-shirt at the end of the day. Life just plain sucks and there should be some recognition for getting through it once in a while. There’s not and you just keep chugging along. What other choices are there?

That’s what it feels like I’m doing these days, just chugging along at bare minimum trying to get through. At some point there’s got to be a light at the end of this tunnel but right about now I’m not so sure. I’m running out of steam. The car is on E and I’m not seeing a gas station anywhere. Feelings wise I don’t think I can make it but based on experience I know I can… Well, I’m 90% sure I can.

There’s an odd disconnect between the pain and the reality of life moving forward. I want the world to stop for a minute and let me wallow in it, give me a second to process it all, but decisions have to be made and quickly. Big ones, hard ones (Yeah I know Phrasing!) and I don’t think I can do this. I’m not equipped to deal with life on this level. Maybe I skipped class that day of Adulthood 101 but nobody taught me how to handle this kind of reality. I want to crawl under a rock, or maybe the blankets on my bed in my dark room, and hide for a month, come out when I’m ready to handle this disappointment and sadness, when I’m ready to cope with the struggles of my life and decide whether this is where we say Okay and deal or keep on fighting. Whether this goes to the next level or becomes the new norm. How do you really know when it’s a thing you can or should change or one you should accept? I never was very good at that, recent events have made me worse. I question my perception of reality now more than ever before. It’s hard not to when I see people buying the craziness that’s being sold dirt cheap. Sometimes the thing being said the loudest and most insistently really does become the truth. Guess I should have learned a long time ago to speak up, to yell more. Shout the injustice from the roof tops even if it is all in my head. My belligerence level has always been a little too low for that.

I think I can’t. Can’t handle this, can’t deal…just can’t. But I know I can. Because I have before. One foot in front of the other, keep moving forward. Ignore the desire to stop and just lay down and let time wash over you. Focus on the positives while you’re crying in the shower. Work towards the concrete goals, those ones with an end in sight. Because even though it feels Not Okay right now, better things really are on their way .Maybe not the ones you thought you needed but still better. Better than this. Life will never be ideal. No one gets out of this without a scar; we’re all a little fucked up in the end.

That’s just the way it goes. I think I can’t but I know I can.

 

 

If hungry/angry is hangry what do you call tired/angry?

It’s been a while since I’ve been Hulk Smash Angry…but I think tonight’s the night. I was attempting to finish another post that I started a couple days ago, the idea has been marinating in my head long enough but for some reason it just won’t come out right. Change tracks and try to get the rest of my personal statement for dental school written…no dice there either. I can’t concentrate. The anger suddenly swells up, raw and edgy. Sharp like a razor.. I didn’t even realize it was hiding there.

I’m beyond tired. The kind of overly tired that comes from a couple weeks of running myself ragged trying to get it all done and still not feeling like I’m doing enough. There never is enough time; I’m stuck in catch up mode. It feels like my permanent state of being, that frantic hurrying. It’s also from working an insane amount of hours over the course of a day and a half. There’s that too. The angry is a special add on that’s definitely enhanced by my current lack of sleep.  I’m tired/angry. Tangry? Tirangry? Angired? Whatever you call it I’ve got it going on. The little things are setting it off. Listening to a friend talk about how his kids’ college educations are already paid for after spending time around people with money and hearing them casually talk about paying for three college tuitions at once. Fuck you all and your kids’ bright shiny futures.

I don’t really mean that. I think that’s great, great that other people are privileged enough that they can start their adult lives without the crushing debt of student loans. Really, I do. I know that it’s a direct result of someone’s hard work somewhere, even if it wasn’t their own. Hell, that’s a major source of my drive to do better, wanting to make it so my kids don’t have to work so hard. No, that’s not the cause it’s just the salt in the wound today. Everything is right now though. All the wounds are salty. I’m downright salty. This week is going to be one of those weeks. A week of frustration from waiting for certain things to happen, things that are totally out of my control, and I won’t have my usual busy pace of life to keep me distracted. My kids are with their dad and all the dentists I’ve been following around lately are off for the week of July 4th. I’ve got no classes right now and no big test to study for. This should be a welcome break. I could really use a break. I’m not sure this will be it though. See, there’s court on Thursday and it will very likely be the resolution of this past year’s change of custody hearing (though I feel like I’ve said that before).

I should probably plan to run more this week. I hadn’t thought about that before tonight. And maybe drink a little more too. It’s best to distract oneself at times like these. I’m not doing such a good job of that right now though. Tomorrow, or rather later today, I’ll sleep. That will help. This weekend I’ll work and try to find ways to distract myself while doing so.  Maybe I’ll finish that dental school application or find a crochet project, something to take the edge off the quiet hours. Monday is a holiday. Then Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday is court and my kids come home. And after that things might be different. Maybe better. Maybe.

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

 

Some Days

star wars glasses

Some days I’m on top of the world; I’m a mother fucking badass. Others nothing works, I’m failing at everything and I just can’t win.
It’s been over six months and I haven’t broken a single Star Wars glass. So there’s that.  But the pictures are peeling off half of them. Guess sometimes you get what you pay for, maybe less.
My first teenager is a genius, near perfect scores on every standardized test he takes. The jerkface can’t seem to pass his high school classes though. How do you make a sixteen year old see that homework is more important than friends even when his mom isn’t there to remind him? There’s only so much a mom can do, at some point he’s got to start caring. Colleges sure won’t if he fails classes junior year. Even with perfect scores he won’t get a second look let alone a scholarship. Lord knows I can’t pay his way, I’m still fighting to pay my own. This weighs heavily on me, some days more than others.
For two weeks my little guy went to school without a fuss every single day. It was a welcome change, one motivated by a sticker chart with the promise of a trip to the arcade attached. No emails from the teachers saying he’s having a bad day, started crying and they don’t know why, or that he won’t sit at circle time and do what first graders are supposed to do for two (almost) whole weeks. But that one day a kid accidentally knocked him down and he got up and kicked the kid. In the “privates”. Hard. They’re friends again now but who knows if that poor boy will be able to reproduce. Some days!

You take the good with the bad, that’s just life. “Up down, up down, Life’s like a jump rope.” Maybe if the bad wasn’t there you wouldn’t recognize the good. Everything would just be Meh. Contrast gives value. If you’ve never been poor you might not have an appreciation for your relative wealth. Stuff like that. But some days I just want a mother fucking break, to feel like I have good luck and timing instead of the perpetual bad that seems to follow me like a shadow. Some days I want to be able to say it went my way instead of telling about that one time it was so close I could almost taste it. I want someone to care about making my  life a little easier. Just once, maybe twice. That would be a nice change.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the bad guy, that I’m doing the right thing but some days I want to throw in the towel, waive the white flag, and call it a day.

Some days that’s how it goes.