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Bad Day

Today started out all wrong.  The problem is, I didn’t know it was going badly until it was too late to correct. Today I arrived at work 30 minutes late. There is nothing like walking into a meeting full of people, when your company has called in a consultant and designated you as a leader, with your boss present…and you are a full 30 minutes late.

I would have actually been on time, however, the competent individual who sent out the information via email stated an 8:00 start time.  Everyone else got the follow up memo with the time correction.  Everyone except me.

You know it is a bad thing when you are walking down the hall to a meeting, thinking that you perfectly on time, maybe even a few minutes early and your boss is texting you, “Are you coming?” That awkward moment when you feel the dread thickening in the pit of your stomach as you open the door, take your seat and discover, everyone else has been there for 30 minutes.

Embarrassment.

Anger.

Sudden, overwhelming insecurity and paranoia.

I, did, in fact check my memos.  All of them listed an 8:00 start time. There was no follow-up memo, at least, not to me.

How is it that every one else knew of the change in time, but me?  And then my next thought, Was this an intentional set up?  Who would do that?  Why?  Read the rest of this entry

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Irony

It isn’t supposed to work this way. Life isn’t supposed to be bad, really, really bad, so-bad-it-sucks bad and still be enjoyable.

So, go figure. My finances suck. We’ve been over that. My love life is non-existent. I just had a guy I supported walk out on me after two years. He gave me three days’ notice and he was gone. Haven’t heard a word from him since. After my two epic fails at marriage, I don’t know which hurt worse, to have the marriages end, or him walk out after I invested so much financially and emotionally for two.fucking.years. It is now all water under the bridge, but at times, it still stings.

I’m at an age and in a demographic where there isn’t much dating action, and if there is, it isn’t serious, nor is it even remotely authentic. Face it, after 45, there are so many obstacles to overcome, so much history to wade through, so many people’s scrutiny you have to undergo before a relationship can even be viable, let alone long term. I’ve given up on that area of my life ever being a source of pleasure or happiness. People who really know me, will know what a big deal that is. Most people tend to understand that it is the nature of the beast these days. Dating after divorce is, at best, a difficult thing, and unlike wine, this does not improve with age. Oh, to be 35 again. Before the wrinkles. Before the mistakes. Before the calendar reveals the stigmatizing number of years you’ve been on this planet (because you cannot lie about that).

In spite of all that, the little surprise I’m experiencing is this: I’m actually having fun. I’m enjoying life more than I ever have. I’m happy, in spite of the fact that nothing (except my delightful children) is as I would have expected it and most of it reeks of pathetically miserable failure. I can’t keep a relationship. I can’t catch a break financially. I rent, on purpose, instead of owning. My car is ready to self destruct at any moment. I should sell the thing and try, if possible, to get some money out of it to put down on a more reliable car. But…how to do that? It’s crazy. I have more problems facing me than solutions. I have experienced more endings in the last year than beginnings. I have more reason than ever to despair, instead of hope. Read the rest of this entry

Dilemma

I’ll cut to the chase.  I’m an idiot. Who signs up on an online dating sight at the most busy time of their professional and personal year? I do. Like I said…I’m an idiot.  I admit it. I have only one excuse. I was three sheets to the wind when I did the signing up. Yep.  Had one of those down days.  One of those days that proves living a block from the local liquor store is not necessarily the benefit you might think it would be.  I don’t know the particular circumstances.  I think I successfully drank them out of my memory.  I just remember it was one of those days, which, for whatever reason I was feeling blue about the whole situation that transpired in my life recently.  Actually, I wasn’t really feeling blue about that situation if the truth be known.  I was feeling blue that I’d wasted the last two years of my youth on the man. Okay, enough with the drama. It is also very possible that I was feeling happy.  I feel that a lot these days.  In fact, I almost get giddy with the lack of stress and the ease with which my family functions right now. No more walking on eggshells.  No more having to ask permission or wonder when the next derisive comment is going to come. No more worrying about money.  Since I’m not paying  his bills, there’s an extra amount in our coffers this month, and that makes me genuinely silly with the giddy factor. Read the rest of this entry

Humorous…Or Not

The beginning of love is always fun, exhilarating, scintillating, exciting, happy.  The end of it, if analyzed, is bound to be many things.  Sometimes volatile, dangerous, and painful.  In my case, this ending is interesting, if not completely humorous. How can I possibly refer to the end of a relationship that was (or so  I thought) the love of my life, certain to go the distance, as…humorous?  I mean, after all, I am devastated.  I really am.  I would never have considered living with a man if I wasn’t 100% certain this was the real deal. We really had so much going for us in so many ways. I can’t even begin to explain or list the ways this relationship seemed so right.  And yet, apparently, it wasn’t.  I have yet to learn all the lessons from this.  Much of what has transpired and will yet transpire will teach me important lessons only after the throbbing pain of loss has subsided and I can try to look at what happened with a bit less emotion. I get that.  But right now, I’m riding an emotional roller coaster that rivals anything Disney or Six Flags could come up with.

So, in spite of the pain, how can I view this as humorous?  Well, having two very stiff drinks helps.

The truth is, I am crushed.  I am hurt.  I am in all sorts of pain.  (So much for that “calm before the storm.”)  I’ve cried a lot today.  He does not know this.  I will continue to brush back the tears, to sob silently behind closed doors (read in the shower), until he is finally gone from my residence and, sadly, from my life.

Since there is now no “faking it” in our relationship (I never did, but I know he did…if not in the bedroom, then certainly elsewhere), we’ve had some very interesting conversations.  He is one who likes to dodge issues; pretend like things are fine when, in fact, they are not.  I, on the other hand, prefer to know the truth straight up.   So, as people do, we had yet another conversation about the details of unwinding this thing.  Mind you, we aren’t storming around tense and antagonist.  We woke up this morning had coffee together, and began talking about the “unwind” like an old married couple might discuss the return on their mutual fund or the sale of some property or the latest developments with the grandchildren.  Since the Non-Boyfriend (NBF), is not exactly one to be direct and honest about his feelings, and since I for some idiot reason felt I needed to know where he stood (this is critical, because I have absolutely no clue how he feels about me and how he feels about “us” in general and haven’t for a very, very long time). So…I started out asking questions and got some good information.

He admits to being such a neat freak that he makes Felix Unger look like a slob.  He admits that this is not healthy, has created problems for us, but he’s at a loss as to know what to do.  (Read:  He’s unhappy with me because my teenager doesn’t leave his room Better-Homes-And-Gardens perfect every day. )  Here’s what my son’s room looks like…normally.

This is my 17-year-old son’s disastrous room

And the downstairs guest bathroom that he complains that my older daughter leaves a disaster (Yes, this is normally how it looks, not cleaned up for the picture.) :

This is the downstairs bathroom that is, apparently, always a mess. Hmmm, no one has been in to clean it. Is this messy?

And here is the kids’ bathroom, another source of contention for him:

Again, I did not clean up for these pictures and they haven’t been photo-shopped. Is this a messy bathroom?

He says he just cannot deal with the mess anymore and he is tired of cleaning up after everyone.

Whoa!  Screeeeeech!

Let’s make it very clear, folks.  This man is NOT paying rent.  He is NOT contributing to the bills.  He only pays for anything when asked and NEVER volunteers. And he DOES NOT clean up after anyone.  Lately, even though he’s making more, he doesn’t even pay when asked. He comes and goes as he pleases and he is tired of cleaning up after everyone?  (I was careful to point out to him that he had done absolutely nothing to clean or contribute to this place, without being directly asked, for the last two months.  He agreed with me.)

I responded to his above statement, by reminding him of the fact that he pays nothing to live here and, lately, he contributes nothing, and he comes and goes as he pleases.  I told him, if I were in that place, I would consider it my rent to do whatever I could around the house to keep the landlord (read: me) happy.

I pressed him further about his perspective.  Here’s how the conversation went:

Me:  So, how long have you known that this relationship was a dead end and you weren’t willing to go to the next level? (Read: how long have you known you wouldn’t every marry me?) Has it been, what?  January?  December?

Him:  Oh not quite that long.

Yeah, end of conversation.

I have only two words for him at this point:  GET OUT!

Actually, that’s not true, I have four words for him:  GET THE FUCK OUT!

Instead, what I said was this:

“Well, then.  You could have at least have been a gentleman and gotten out once you were sure, instead of taking advantage of me.  I’d like you to work on finding a place where you can stay immediately.”

He mumbled something about working on it and named the 10th as a deadline.

I followed up with, “Well, since I just paid your rent, your utilities and your car insurance, and since you have absolutely no ability or motivation to pay me back, you will make sure this house is spotless.  You can start with the floors downstairs and making dinner tonight.”

I’m changing the locks on the afternoon of the 10th, maybe even before. (He does not know this.)  He cleaned the floors and made dinner tonight.

He can’t leave my life soon enough right now.  (And, yes, obviously, he is not telling me the entire truth about where he is with things, which is really the reason we are breaking up; he simply cannot be honest, not with himself or with other people.)

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

~ William Shakespeare

I find it humorous how relationships can turn on a dime.

I find it humorous, how, when a relationship end, the emotions can turn on a dime.

I have one week…just one more week.

 

 

An Open Letter To The Guy Who Spilled Ketchup On Me

I was sitting there, in the Dairy Queen, waiting for my daughter and her friend to come back from the bathroom.  I felt a cold wet sensation on my side, my back, my arm, my thigh.  I thought for sure that my daughter and her friend were playing pranks and throwing ice.

I turned to look at the offended locations on my body.  Instead of ice, I saw, ketchup.

Disbelieving, I looked up to see you looking my way just as dumbfounded.  As if you, in your wildest imagination, could not believe that you had dropped the ketchup, let alone that it landed all over me.

You were obviously embarrassed.

You fumbled.  Desperately seeking to right a wrong that somehow strangely couldn’t be righted.  You handed me all your napkins and there were many.  You went to get water for me to use to wipe the red stuff off my attire. You were worried that you had damaged my fine attire.  Never mind that I was wearing a discount skirt purchased from Ross Dress-For-Less and my bike shoes.  Okay, the bike shoes were somewhat expensive, but you wiped them clean.

I, in return, was so shocked that I did not, I’m afraid, respond well at all.

You see, when I felt the cold liquid on my body and through my clothing, I was really certain, the girls were playing games.  They’d been a bit silly all day and after a meal laden with carbs and chased by sugar in the form of soft serve ice cream cones, I was certain, they’d grabbed ice from the ice machine and were tossing it at me…for pranks.

My shock, Mr. Ketchup Guy, was not because I had ketchup on me, as much as it was because I did not have water or ice on me.  I was stunned…but not for the reasons you supposed.

You hurriedly helped me clean up, then disappeared to your table on the other side of the dining hall.  I walked by you on my way out, in shame, you didn’t even look up or glance my way.

Mr. Ketchup Guy, I owe you an apology.

You did not deserve my response today.  Never mind that my response was not what you thought.  I was not angry with you. I was not, though I’m certain I came off that way.  You did not deserve to leave that place thinking you had offended me or angered me or upset me.  You did not deserve to experience embarrassment.

I was just so completely stunned that my kids were not throwing ice at me, that it took me a bit to realize what was going on.  You handled everything so smoothly and so well and so quickly, I didn’t have the time to tell you.  Then, as I left the place, suspecting you still harbored some embarrassment about the entire episode, I failed to approach you and to thank you for the napkins and the water.

But it really wasn’t the napkins and the water that I’d have thanked you for.

It would have been for the courtesy, the chilvary, the emotion in the person that felt that spilling ketchup on a lady in a fast food restaurant was worth being addressed rather than ignored; that the incident was worthy of some embarrassment on your part.

Many would have acted like the incident never happened.

Thank you for not being one of the many.

Please accept my apologies for not letting you know how grateful I was for your response and for relieving any embarrassment you might have experienced as the result.  I was amiss to not assure you that I was fine and the clothing washable, yes, even the expensive bike shoes.

It was clear to me that you are a gentleman, while I did not behave like much of a lady.

Thank you for being part of an endangered species rarely seen these days.  I regret to think that I might have taken steps to hurry your kind closer to extinction.

Please forgive me.

Random Sleepless Updates or How I Forgot To Give This Post A Title

My last post found me just mere days away from moving into a place that I was very glad to be moving into and moving out of a place that I couldn’t wait to leave.  I was full of angst about being able to move and be unpacked and settled (or mostly so) before the beginning of a new school year.  The fact that move in costs were going to eat well over half my take home pay for the month of September only prevented the sleeping pills from having any effect.  I was also stressing about recent flare-ups with my second ex, which looked like they were going to head us all back to the courtroom and more time and expense I wanted about as much as one wants a root canal. I had plenty things to keep me mentally wound up for hours each night.

Then September 1st happened.  We got the keys at around noon, and, to our delight, we were given clearance to begin moving in.  That meant an extra day of moving!  Since I had everything except the last minute stuff packed, it was merely a matter of picking up the hand truck and the appliance dolly and getting things in the trailer.  We were able to move enough of our stuff over that day to spend our first night in our new place that night.    The next four days were spent completing the most organized move I’ve ever been part of, and I’ve seen a few, back in the day.  I slept every night, though I was awake each morning at about 5:00, unpacking.  We were pretty much moved and unpacked by Labor Day.  Though we still had a few things ( camping gear, Christmas stuff, and my daughter’s college things) to get at the old place, we were essentially done and out of the boxes in four days.

The 6th was the first day of school, which meant a new school for my youngest (more potential angst) and back to work for me.

The following weekend we moved my daughter in to her apartment a few blocks from campus of her university.

This is my first weekend home.  Well, my first half-weekend home, since tomorrow I’ll be making trip number #2 up to the daughter to bring her the rest of her things.

I’ve slept fairly soundly most nights since moving and I LOVE the new place.  I was worried the kids wouldn’t like the new place…they all love it.

I was worried the ex would serve me papers.  So far, nothing.  I pray he doesn’t ever for any reason.

I was worried about the finances and, as I expected, it’s been an incredibly tight month.  I knew it would be a stretch for us.  I also banked on it being worth the stretch and the sacrifice.  So far it has been a smart decision. Tight times are not fun, but in this case, I’m glad I took the risk.

In all, it has been an incredibly good move.

My daughter is enjoying school for the first time in her life.  It is a joy to see her hop happily on the bus each morning and watch her complete her homework and do her reading each evening without strife.  I love being able to see her off on the bus, walk back to my vehicle half a block away, and drive to work and still arrive early.  There are other reasons it was a good move for all of us.  I think sometimes a place can harbor energy.  If this is the case, then our old place definitely held some negativity and pain for us that we needed to leave behind. Our new place is light, bright, clean and convenient.  We are all happier and more cheerful here.  The bickering among siblings has almost completely disappeared and it is peaceful.

For the most part.

I mean, nothing’s perfect, right?

The neighbors across our driveway are in the habit of leaving a night light on for their dogs.  This is not really a night light but a regular ceiling light which illuminates the very large window they have at the top of their place and which shines all night long, right into my bedroom window.  Also, when these neighbors are out back in their yard (I should just say dirt, because there is no yard just a patch of dirt), they can see right up into my bedroom.  First thing I’m doing after payday?  Purchasing some plants that can act as a screen.  I’ll place them in containers on my upper deck and I won’t see them at all.

Someone in the neighborhood has a dog that enjoys singing to the moon most of the night.  I spent one entire night up listening to this.  I cannot believe they didn’t hear this.  I also cannot believe no one has reported it.  I made the best of it.  I unpacked about four or five boxes.

The commute between our new place and my kids’ high school is eating up my gas budget and is exhausting me.  Teenagers keep late hours, and I just sold my economical Toyota Corolla Wagon.  Had to. The thing was beginning to cost me more and more to maintain and repair.  It was good to sell it, but I’m going to need to get a more economical vehicle than my ’98 Dodge Durango 4×4. So now there is that to budget for, after I get caught up financially from this whole entire move episode.

So, tonight, I’m up, losing sleep, not from worry or angst, but because I have a teenager I have to pick up from a school event which is ending quite late.  My life has improved dramatically in the last three weeks.

I’m moving forward and, for the first time in many years, I’m enjoying it.  The future looks very hopeful from here.

Moving Musings or Musings About Moving

I’m exhausted these days.  I shouldn’t complain.  Who isn’t exhausted in our American overworked, stressed out society?  I should clarify, I’m more exhausted than I usually am these days, and yet, I cannot sleep.  I find this both strange and completely understandable.  It is strange because I’m not given to being so totally wiped out and still unable to sleep at night.  I find it understandable, because for the first time in my adult life since my mid to late 20’s, I am actually looking forward to my future.  That last statement is a testament of  just how pathetic my life has been over the last 25 years.  Or, maybe, it is proof that I’ve been depressed and simply trying to survive.   There really is nothing more life-draining, dehumanizing, energy-sucking, and damaging than a miserable relationship.  I’ve experienced not one, but two of these in the last 25 years.  One of the earliest signals to my younger self that something was indeed terribly wrong in my life was that I realized I had stopped looking forward to things in life.  I stopped anticipating. My life had become something to be endured.  Something to survive.  I anticipated no joys, no excitement, no future.  All I could do was survive…and I wasn’t even doing that for myself…I was doing that for my children.

I used to be the person who looked forward to moving.  New locations, new digs, new people.  I relished all the aspects of moving. For as much chaos as I’ve experienced in my life and for as much as people view me as being a free-wheeling, laid back, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type person, when it comes to moving, I am anything but laid back.  This move has been no exception.  I have systems in place that make moving as stress free as possible (as long as everyone around me does it my way).  I also have methods that make the moving day incredibly quick and painless.  Even though I’m a bit of a tyrant during a move, all who’ve moved with me, recognize that what I do works.  I don’t end up with stuff scattered all over the old place or the new place for weeks.  And I’m moved in and unpacked in a matter of a few hours an no one has to be inconvenienced or work overly hard.  Smooth moves.  That’s what I do well.

So, tonight, exhausted as I am, I cannot sleep because the minute I rest my weary head on the pillow, my mind begins scrolling through all that I have yet to do to get my family of six out of our house and into our new digs in the next 7 days.  It’s pretty exhilarating, considering that just over a week ago, I had no idea I was going to be moving over Labor Day Weekend. Sure, I knew a move was in my future, like maybe six months down the road.  I had no idea that within 24 hours I would find, tour, meet the landlords and put move-in fees down on what will be the largest and newest home I’ve lived in my entire adult life. Furthermore, I’m saving money in doing it.  Even further, it is super-conveniently located and has all the modern amenities; something I’ve lived without for nearly a decade now. I’m excited.  I’m anticipating this adventure.  I’m looking forward to life in this new place. Above all, this symbolizes a casting off of all that was painful, ugly, broken and beyond repair in my life.  As I toss or recycle each unnecessary or broken item, I’m taking another step closer to that clutter-free, minimalist lifestyle I seek.   Stuff clutters.  Clutter stresses.  I’m done with both.  The physical stuff and clutter are going,  as is the emotional stuff and clutter.

It is much easier to do away with the physical trash in my life than it is to get rid of the emotional garbage.  Of late, I am realizing the power of “letting go.”  I know it sounds cliche, but I’m learning there are things I just don’t have any power over.  As one who has been far too concerned with what others thought of me over the years (especially the ex’s), I’m learning that the very thing I wish I could control, but which I can’t, is others’ opinions and perceptions of me.  Sure, I can do my best to put my best foot forward, but when I tell my ex that what he proposes won’t work for his daughter and I, I cannot control that he thinks I am a control freak or that  he believes I’m intentionally sabotaging his relationship with his child.  Where he’s concerned, I am a control freak about our daughter, but this is more due to his extreme negligence and abusive behavior than it is my desire to control in this area.  In spite of that, I have no desire to sabotage any relationship he has with his daughter.  He will never believe this.  He will especially not believe this when he learns about our move.  His reaction worries me.  I then kick into feeling badly and somehow that I am again at fault for the conflict.  I am learning to stop my mind from running down that well-worn path and, instead, to take a different route this time.  This new route is one that affirms my ability to make good decisions and validates my intentions to move my family to a better situation in life.  A situation where I can be present for my children instead of stressing out about all the things I will never have the money to repair or maintain or do for my children.  I cannot be worried that this ex, who never cared about me or what was important to me, doesn’t understand my motives or intent.  No matter how I present this, he will view it negatively and I will likely end up in court anyway (a needless waste of time and expense).  I have to let that go.  I can’t waste energy on that.  With each item I throw out, I am banishing the memories of dysfunction and moving toward a healthier manner of living and relating.

This is the future I see.

This is the life I look forward to living.

 

Summer

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.”

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