I love summer. I love it for a number of reasons, not the least of which is, I don’t have to punch a time clock and report to an office away from home. I also enjoy the things everyone else loves about summer: the blue skies and the warm weather.
Where I live, we usually have four seasons. The last few years, however, we have observed a reduction in the amount of the year allocated to Spring and Fall with an increase in time for winter and summer, with summer edging out winter a bit more with each passing year.
This year, we went straight from winter, to summer in April, and it happened this last weekend. I love that. Spring isn’t my favorite season anyway. But after experiencing the first dreadfully hot night where I tossed and turned till well past 3:00 a.m., I think I have come to appreciate the gradual lead-in to the summer heat which Spring provides.
Tonight seems like its going to be another hot one as well. I need the sleep. It gets tough to perform well on the job with no sleep, and it looks totally unprofessional when you begin nodding off in a marketing meeting with important clients that you really, really want to sign. Further, I started radiation treatment and the big concern about radiation is the fatigue that sets in somewhere around week three or four. I was hoping to be able to rest up in a feeble effort to avoid the fatigue and consequently having to take even more time off work.
What I need right now is a really dull movie.
There are some nights that I fall asleep quickly, early even. These are the nights after a night or two or three spent wide awake, tossing and turning and searching Craigslist for everything and anything in the hopes that I will become drowsy and eventually knock off to sleep. I thought tonight might be one of those nights but, here I am, wide awake again.
There are some nights, very few and far apart, where I actually sleep the entire night through without even waking at midnight for a potty run. These nights are exceptionally rare. Most often, I sleep soundly for about three or four hours, then I’m wide awake for most of the rest of the night. Tonight appears to be one of these nights.
Tonight my mind is spinning around the possibility of my 11-year-old completely rejecting me and going to live with her father. Now, I know it sounds a bit exaggerated to say that she would reject me, but that is exactly the choice she would be making, though I doubt she would understand that at first. The reality is she would be making a change for a completely different way of being. She would be choosing a life that would not allow her to tolerate me (yes, her dad is one of those ultra-religious and very judgmental and not-very-nice Christian types). She would be taught and would learn to hate me because I don’t attend church every single Sunday and because I sip a beer or two occasionally. She would, I fear, become a disrespectful, ugly, intolerant, and unloving human being if she were to live with him most of the time. I hope to avoid this by teaching her the difference between having a relationship with God, and being religious. Further, were she to live with him, she would be prevented from staying with or seeing me. I cannot worry about this. Though it would crush me and grieve me for her to make the choice to live with her dad, it is ultimately her life.
To distract myself from this, I decided to cruise Craigslist. Tonight’s category: bikes. This did nothing to help. It just made me feel badly because I have no money.
The other day a friend of mine posted on Facebook that she tried taking NyQuil just so she could sleep. A few minutes ago, I tried this. I emptied the last of the cold medicine, just enough for one dose. This might be working, so I’m signing off for another night.
Sweet dreams, or if not, then here’s wishing you a deep and restful slumber.
It starts softly
the barest, tiny tap
On roof, deck, leaf.
Another and another and another
In quick rapid-fire succession
Until what started out softly
Turns into a
Loud continuous pouring
My day is not ruined.
It is 3:00 am.
12:30 am, 12:45 am, 1:20 am, 1:42 am. I’m exhausted and can feel the sleepies coming on, but between The Hesitant Boyfriend’s snoring, the cats playing ambush on the bed, my upset stomach, and the annoying ticking of something somewhere in this place, I know it’s futile to attempt slumber.
I’ve caught up on reading all my favorite blogs. I’ve Linked In, +’ed, pinned, Tumblr’d till I’m dizzy. I’m waiting for people to Draw Something. I’ve angered the birds and run the temple. I’ve photoshopped and edited every background and photo in my phone. There is nothing more to do except listen to the annoying tick tock, tick tock, tick tock of THB’s alarm clock.
It’s going to be one of those nights.
We usually sleep (when I sleep) pretty peaceably together, my four cats and I. I’m not a cat hoarder, nor am I one of those who will even remotely come close to having a million cats stuffed into tiny cages in my rundown shanty. First off, I live in a newer 1800square foot town home. There is tons of space and the cats have free reign to come and go indoors and out. Plus, they have several very large cedars to exercise their stealth climbing skills and to sharpen their claws on. Further, I don’t even like cats. Or I didn’t, until these particular four changed my mind.
It all started several years back when my youngest had a friend whose cat got out and played hanky-panky with a neighboring tom. This was about the fourth litter since I’d know the family that entered the world in this way. I must have grown weary of my daughter’s begging and of hearing how the babies were just going to be disposed of at the neighborhood humane society if homes weren’t found. I finally relented and allowed my daughter to choose a kitten. She was overjoyed. When we went to pick up her little fluffy baby, his brother caught my eye. He was jet black and so wobbly on his feet even for a kitten. I feared he might have brain damage, but I was smitten by the black kitten. Instead of leaving with one cat, we came home with two.
It wasn’t long after bringing the two brothers home that I realized that, other than the litter box, cats are very low maintenance critters. In fact, I was surprised to discover how well these cats fit into my lifestyle. It’s also a lie that cats are not affectionate. While less needy and demanding than dogs, cats are every bit as affectionate as dogs. They are just not as sloppy about showing it.
About six months after we brought the brothers home, a friend of mine found a stray kitten that she couldn’t keep. I agreed to take it for her and help find it a home. Right. My home ended up being the little guy’s new home. The last thing I needed was another cat, but he was a sweet thing and my kids would have hated me forever had I given him away.
A year later, I begin dating and eventually shacked up with The Significant Other. His cat brings the total cat family to four. Yes, I think we are done now.
I don’t know when it happened but somewhere along the way, the cats took over my bed. Now, I have a rather large bed, a California King, and I don’t use the entire space at night, so for a while, this was fine. It was even comforting at first. But then, the cats began sleeping on me instead of on the bed. Add to this another man-type human and the once expansive space begins to get very crowded.
But last night was the worst.
I think someone slipped my cats a full-strength dose of stimulants or else they discovered the Red Bull stash. It was a 4-cat high speed chase…all.night.long.
To make matters worse, the man-type was flopping around like a big fish just hauled in from the sea. One of the things I love about him is that we do sleep well together. In the past, sleeping with someone else in my bed doesn’t happen without a fairly long adjustment period. In my first marriage, that period lasted for 16 years. It was remediated through divorce. My SO is pretty easy to sleep with and to get along with most of the time. Last night being the exception.
So, between the cats and the Man Human fish-flopping all night, there was just not going to be any sleep. I’d just barely drifted off to doze when I felt him jerk again. I peeked open one eye and he’s sitting up in bed staring at me. It’s 8 o’clock and night is long over. I’d been out for maybe an hour. The cats were comatose finally. It was Sunday morning after a night of no sleep. It appeared it was going to be a day of no sleep.
Nights aren’t usually that rough for everyone in the house, just me. Last night was definitely strange, because for the first time I had company during my insomnia. Fortunately, I was able to catch a nap later in the day. There is a downside to doing that, however, because here I am…wide awake again.
I am moving. It’s a sudden thing, and I am not prone to this kind of suddenness. I’ve been in the same residence for ten years, after all.
This move is the right thing at the right time for me right now.
There’s just so much in my life that currently falls into the area of “the unknown.” I don’t need the instability of wondering if, when, and where I am moving. And I need to move.
I need to get out of this place because psychologically it is draining me. There are just too many painful memories here. Memories of a love gone wrong, of insecurities preyed upon, of lives, hearts and psyches abused and damaged. There is also the glaring truth that no matter how long I live here and work to improve this place those memories and reminders contained its walls and corners will never disappear. I will forever see the improved thing and think of what came before.
It is time to move on.
Just like with the marriage, I thought for a long time I could fix it. I finally realized I cannot; I moved on and haven’t looked back.
Once that decision is made, it is amazing how things can fall rapidly into place.
Six months ago I was playing with the idea, the possibility, the wisdom of leaving. Five months ago and each month since, I’ve made decisions that put into play a series of events that moved me closer to being able to leave. The last, item, to find new digs.
Not so easy to do, when your credit is shot.
Amazing how miracles still occur.
This time last week, I had no idea I was moving. Had you asked me, I would have said, “Yes, I’ll probably be moving within the next six months.” I had no idea I would be residing in my new location in two weeks. I’m a big believer these days that when you know something is right, you know it. I believe that about jobs, relationships and homes. This home appeared and all the necessary details fell into place. I’m ecstatic. While it is going to be sad to leave (sort of), it is far more exciting to go. But going brings its own stresses and having less than fourteen days to pack up and move a family of six is filled with more than the usually day-to-day moving stress. It doesn’t help that this is happening right at back-to-school season either. It also doesn’t help that it occurred during the process of mediation with the second ex…the one I hold responsible for the damages to my current abode. Oh well.
So, I’ve been up writing to do lists, making plans, and…once I got the floor plan of the new place emailed to me…placing furniture.
There is the stress of going through the accumulation of a decade of misery and getting rid of it all. Sometimes I do wish I could just torch the place. It would be so much easier. Purging is good, and necessary, and we are doing it. I thought it would be tough for my kids, but they’ve gotten on board and are doing a great job. Of course, the carrot of New Stuff in a New Place is helping motivate them. There is the stress of packing and organizing packed boxes so that moving day isn’t complete chaos and the unpacking a disaster. There is the anxiety of trying to figure out how a new location will impact our lives and our routines. There is the excitement of looking forward to living in surroundings that are palatial compared to what we currently reside in. There is the anticipation of, for the first time in a decade, being able to put dishwasher detergent on our shopping list. Yes, folks, I have gone the last ten years without a mechanical (as opposed to human) dishwasher. This is exciting.
I’m struck with how this idea of place impacts our lives so much. For me, location is everything. I know there are people who can be comfortable in any setting. These are the people who can walk right into a new place and start meeting people right away. I’m not one of those people. When I enter a new environment, I have to give myself time to become acquainted with the environment, before I can comfortably engage with others around me. I have to take time to take in the details of the place I’m in. I don’t need a lot of time, but I prefer to have a few minutes to get my bearings.
Changing residences, even if the change is only a short distance like mine, can radically impact a persons’ lifestyle. This move, for my family, will alter things for us in a big way. For one, it is going to increase my commute time, for the next couple of years, at least. That, however, is the only trick part about this move and even with the increased commute time, my total travel time about 30 minutes. I can live with this. I can especially live with the savings in my pocketbook every month due to paying less in housing costs and utilities. I can live with the way this move will positively impact my lifestyle and increase the amount of time I have available to do the things I want to do like, travel, cycle, and write. Face it, with no yard to deal with, I’m going to have a lot more time. I’ve also totally eliminated the weekly arguments with my son about whether or not the lawn really needs to be mowed or not, which means I’m also reducing my stress load.
There are other ways that this move will impact our lives. A new environment contains new requirements for maintenance and upkeep. For example, this new place has hardwood floors on one level and carpet upstairs. The floors downstairs will need to be swept. Someone is going to have to have that job every day. Dishes will no longer be stacked on the counter glaring at us until someone decides to put them away, but they might remain in the dishwasher forever if I don’t assign that chore to someone. Since we’ll now have an indoor laundry area, there’s absolutely no way we can just dump the stuff out in the garage and “get to it when we get to it.” I am going to have to make sure the kids understand the new expectations for handling laundry and keeping our nice new place (built in 2005 instead of 1978) clean and tidy. The list goes on and on. The place we live in often dictates how we operate in our daily lives. I am only just beginning to realize how I’ve limped along for the last decade simply because the location we lived in was so unhappy and outdated.
So…the stress and details keep me up.
I’m anxious about making it all happen as smoothly as possible especially where our school year transportation routines are concerned.
I’m very excited about how positive this is for all of us. It’s going to be a crazy ride, but it will be worth it. Hopefully, once the move is over, I will be so exhausted, I’ll actually collapse into a deep and contented sleep…maybe for the first time in over a decade.
Events of this evening conspired, from the very beginning, to sabotage a good night’s sleep. I should know better than to play a board game with my boyfriend before calling it a night. Besides both of us being very competitive people, he’s a poor loser. He’s even worse when in comes to winning. I do believe “ass****” was the word I used to describe him to his very face. On top of that, I absolutely hate playing games where it is a slaughter with me on the losing end. It isn’t all that fun for me to be on the winning end of a slaughter either; I much prefer a challenge where I, at least, feel as though I’m somewhat competitive even if I lose. After tonight’s third slaughter, with my beau (not sure that’s even an appropriate word for him right now) gloating ruthlessly, I just got up and walked away. Okay, huffed off, is more like it. I heard him laughing about it after I left the room. I didn’t talk to him the rest of the night. I detest arrogant ass**** winners. His words? “I don’t play to lose.” Really? Seems to me that you sure lost out on something tonight, with all that arrogance, Big Guy. Put that behavior on the top of the list of “Things That Kill Romance.”
Now, I’m not suggesting, by any means that he should have “let” me win. That, in a way, is arrogance in reverse order, in some situations. However, given that I’d played this particular game maybe five times total and he grew up playing it like some people used to play backgammon back in the eighties, it wasn’t exactly an even match. I think he could have saved his championship tournament play for another time. The whole scenario just didn’t engender any loving, caring, positive feelings in me for him. In my words, “Well, there’s really nothing about this that is fun for me.” If you win by a landslide, for crying out loud, at least have the decency to be kind to the person you annihilated rather than divesting them of their last shred of human dignity. Big romance killer. Just.don’t.touch.me.
As soon as I’d settled in to attempt to sleep, as if that was even going to be possible with my annoyance meter soaring off the charts, the dog comes into the room and begins licking herself. It’s a sound I hate. I mostly hate it because it happens incessantly these days. She’s licked off most of her fur on her haunches and she is LOUD about it. Loud. Lick. Lick. Lick. Lick. It is worse than a dripping faucet and far noisier. It grates on me.
So I banished the dog from the bedroom and closed the door. Most of the time, she will just sleep outside the bedroom door or find another place in the house to camp out for the night. Tonight, she decided to sit outside my bedroom door and bark. Bark….Bark…Bark….Bark. I get up and let her out. She comes back in; same routine. In the bedroom: lick, lick, lick. Banish to the hall: bark, bark, bark.
So, I’m infuriated and exhausted by the dogs in my life, and now, both of them are in the bedroom resting peacefully and I’m here typing away about ready to code out, I’m so frustrated.
And…I am out of sleeping pills.
It’s August. The still midnight air hangs heavy like a thick comforter that won’t move, suffocating in its stillness. The air conditioner is ineffective in my badly-in-need-of-updating 1970’s-style ranch home. You could say it’s a fixer-upper. The windows, the single-pane aluminum type, gather condensation on the inside during the winter and do nothing to keep in the cool air during these sweltering hot nights. Back in the days of the last marriage, a second-mortgage was taken out, the amount of which was originally intended to finance the much needed home improvements, however, the ex’s coercive tendencies along with my fear and intimidation of him, combined with my desire for a great deal less chaos than we had at the time, resulted in all that money going toward his custody battle. It was a losing battle on all fronts. Custody was not awarded, the resulting parenting plan divisive and chaos-inducing, and it ate up all the second-mortgage money; a total of nearly $30K. The house remains a fixer upper, just like my life.
I’m awake tonight, thinking of the summer nights four years ago, when I was homeless, having left my house and my ex under a civil protect police escort because the tension between the ex and I was at an all time high. I’d been advised by the officers to get out, since he wasn’t leaving (and he was much bigger than I). One officer said, “I’m concerned that if you don’t leave, this has all the makings of something tragic we will read about in tomorrow’s paper.” In the 30 minutes I was allowed to gather the most important essentials, I cut cable wires, grabbed technology, clothing and only the essential toiletries. Not one of my more glorious memories. In fact, when I have to define the word shame, that episode is one of the top five in my life that come to mind. In times like that, you quickly learn how little stuff you really need in this life.
I ended up living in a small travel trailer in a trailer park borrowed from friends while I waited for the court hearing to see which of the two of us would end up with the house that I had purchased on my own, without him. Tonight, I remember those nights. In the trailer, with my daughter, then six, hardly a lock of any protective value on our flimsy trailer door, a hundred yards from the interstate with the incessant rumbling noise of semi’s barreling by. There was little sleep to be had during those nights either.
I’m back in my own home now, but on the verge of leaving it again, this time, for good and by choice. When and how, and where my final destination is, I don’t yet know. These uncertainties occasionally keep me up at night. When they don’t, they certainly gnaw at me all day long and re-surface in my dreams. When I was younger, I only had myself to worry about taking care of, and though I wasn’t always certain of the destination or the outcomes of my choices I didn’t have the ever-present concern for another human being’s physical survival and emotional well-being. These things, these parental worries, nag at me all.the.time. The worries always end with the final, culminating question: Will the children be all right?
So much has happened in the last four years. On the surface I’ve gone from sleepless nights frightened behind flimsy travel trailer walls to sleepless nights behind sturdier, but deteriorating, stick-built walls. I’ve rebuilt a life after a very traumatic second marriage and subsequent divorce. My children and I are working on healing, a process which I will forever regret that they have to endure and for which we will all likely be healing from for the rest of our lives. We’ve established routines and created a new way of being together. It is a way that emphasizes honesty, respect and consistency. This doesn’t mean things are always calm and quiet, but they are stable and they are much safer for us all. I have to say, “No, I can’t afford that,” much more often than I used to, but after four years, things are getting better…or they were until the latest recent developments on the job front and with the second ex transpired. The thoughts traveling through my consciousness vary greatly from details of how I will make ends meet with these new colossal expenses looming on the horizon, to knowing deep down, that somehow we will survive because we always have.
Among the thoughts of financial worries, dealing with the fallout of divorces, job stresses and the well-being of all my children swirls the heat, the deep silence of the heavy night punctuated by the yowling of neighborhood tomcats, there is the knowledge that the bad times don’t last forever, the good times will return though they won’t last either. This set of challenges must be faced and endure,and though it won’t be easy or fun, at some point in the future, I will be able to look back on these nights, the way I do on those trailer park nights and realize, “I made it through that. It’s going to be okay.”
Look…I accomplished nothing today. At least, nothing the rest of the world would consider important. So I did what I did. Spent some time with my youngest and she kicked me to the curb because I’m old and ugly and uncool…so I went to a nail appointment which had to be “rescheduled” because my nail tech can only take me in limited doses. I then returned home to find that all my other children had fled to their other parents’ home in order to get out of doing chores at mine…I then realized that since I’m poor, ugly and old, there’s just no way anyone is going to give me a break, so I figured…now’s a good time for a cocktail…this occurred at 10 am in the morning…you can now understand why I accomplished nothing today. I’m good with that…