Archive for the ‘O discordia!’ Category

It’s going to be a very long month.

July 11, 2017

It’s only been three days. Wait, no – scratch that. Two days. I saw the girls the day before yesterday. But two days feels like three days; it feels a long longer than even “just” three! The girls are spending their month of summer visitation with their dad, and it feels like an eternity.

When the girls were little – those late toddler years and early school years – July was a much needed respite from broken nights of sleep and exhausted late evening hours filled with whining and bickering. I could sleep in sometimes as much as 45 whole minutes on work mornings if I didn’t need to drop the girls off at daycare, or, later, twenty minutes if I didn’t need to drop them off at Stepmom’s. I could spend evenings hanging at Crisanna’s pool, or on my own patio in a lounge chair reading a book. I could cook grown-up meals with herb-crusted chicken and asparagus or mac&cheese that didn’t involve shapes. It was a delirious month-long staycation, even though there was still work and responsibility. I still got to see Bee and Gracie for dinner two nights a week, and I still got to keep my weekends, and that was just enough time to enjoy fun summer activities, but take a break from each other so we could leap into each others’ arms and finish off the summer with gusto and renewed appreciation for one another’s company. And that’s just how it worked out.

But then this thing happened when my daughters morphed from little kids with all the trappings of early childhood (tantrums, stubbornness, grouchies, minds of their own, the Up And Down Bedtime Brigade, , vivid imaginations in the middle of the night, picky appetites…) into imaginative and delightful kids in the thick of middle childhood, and then Young Adults and burgeoning Actual People who I would be honored to call my friends. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m their mama, not their friend. I am not afraid to pull rank or put my foot down. I set the rules, and I expect them to be followed. Without fail. There are consequences for rule-breakage. And there are rewards when toes stay on the right side of the line. And for the most part, that’s how it goes, generally. I have good kids. Kids I enjoy spending time with. Kids I like watching – and discussing – movies with, or participating in readathons with, or going adventuring with. It’s fun! It’s not fun all the time, but enough of the times.

Enough of the time for me to feel it keenly this year. More this year than other years. Because my house is really empty this year. This year there is no boyfriend or boyfriend’s extremely willful kindergardner-who-acts-like-a-toddler. This year there is no puppy-dog to hang out with, or cuddle with, or talk to, or go on runs with. It was more than two years ago when I picked out the boyfriend, and more than three years ago when I adopted the puppy-dog, and that long ago the girls were still in the blossoming stages of middle childhood. Young enough that I still needed the break. Long enough ago that things were different.

And so July is passing by turtle slow. There are 90 minutes left before I’ll see the girls again and enjoy my mid-week sleepover. A week-and-a-half before my next weekend with them. Seventeen more sleeps before vacation. And after vacation, July will be over and I will have survived it for one more year! And, if my memory serves, almost immediately after that, there will some sort of incident that comes with an inevitable rock re-entry that will make me wish we were still back in July.

But that, like July, will pass. My girls will be home and all will be well.

All will be well, all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.

Or, so I’ve been told.

Five for Friday.

July 7, 2017

It’s been a weird, tough week. But not too tough for Five for Friday! I love my little mental colander that lets me sort out the things I can throw overboard before the weekend. We don’t need no clutter ’round here, mental or otherwise!

Let’s see what we’ve got…

1 Poor Bee is home with a fever. I got the girls for dinner last night, and Bee mentioned a headache, but that’s not necessarily out of the ordinary (though I hate the near-constant pattern, poor thing). As soon as we got home, Bee went to lie down instead of towards the kitchen for food, so I knew it was serious. I checked on her a little bit later, and as I brushed back her hair, I noticed she was approximately 390°. Okay, or maybe just 101.3°, once I checked with the thermometer. Stepmom graciously allowed Bee to stay the night with me so I could take care of my sweet baby. Her temp did go down a little with some Tylenol, and it’s gone this morning, but the headache lingered. Here’s hoping it’s not an ear infection from her swim lessons!

2 I was glad for the company because I was a little afraid of sleeping alone in the house last night. Know why? The night before, my house alarm went off in the middle of the night! Scared the pants off me! I called 911 and the cops took their sweet time – more than 10 minutes to get to the house. They didn’t see anything amiss, and all the doors and windows that I could see (I wasn’t going into rooms where the doors were closed until the cops got there) were secure, but I was still scared out of my mind. That happened at 2:30 a.m. and I never went back to bed. Every time I shut off the lights and tried to close my eyes, I broke out in a sweat and started to freak out. So nope. I didn’t necessarily want Bee to be scared like that if it happened again, but I like having another person around to help me make sense of everything. I hate being alone. I can do it, I’m tough – but I hate it.

3 Which is just one reason why I hate July so much. It’s the month the girlies go to their Dad and Stepmom’s, and I have to stay home by myself. The custody arrangement flip flops. I used to love it when the girls were toddlers and I needed a break. But now the girls are older and (usually) fun to be around and I enjoy my time off with them. The arrangement has stayed the same, regardless. I just have very different feelings about it. (And so does Bee – she begged me not to make her go, but I think that might have had everything to with the fact that she got in trouble and didn’t want to face up. She knows better though – Dad, Stepmom, and I have worked hard to be a united front, so she was marched straight back over to her dad’s. No mercy! Heh.)

4 There’s a nice big reward at the end of the month for those of us who make it through. I purchased our tickets to go home! It’s the same week we’ve gone since time out of mind – nothing ever changes in our family routine – so we’ll be vacationing the first week of August, like always, including the weekends on either sides, like always. I’m so excited, I have perpetual Kermit-arms over here!!! I can’t wait for our family cookout and to catch up with cousins and see family and friends and hear everyone talk with the right accent and have a break from this insipid heat and eat some real fish & chips… oh my god, the list is my happy place! Kim asked me what the girls were the most excited about, and I didn’t have an answer, although honest-to-god, it might be packing. HA! Prepping for and anticipating the vacation is at least half the fun!

5 I think besides catching up with my favorite people, what I am most looking forward to is our vacation-within-our-vacation. My sister Kim graciously sprang for a cabin in New Hampshire at Weirs Beach. It’s the same property (if not the same house) that my family has vacationed in since I was a little girl, and we’ve stayed there with the girls before. We have all the fun! It’s a 2-minute walk from the boardwalk, there’s a beach, arcades, mini golf, bumper cars, tiny little tourist shops, boat rides… I fell asleep last night daydreaming that we were there and having fun doing all of the things we’ll get to do in a little less than a month. And having our vacation-within-a-vacation smack dab in the middle of our trip home is so well-planned because I’m sure by then we’ll be ready to get away from my parents’ house for awhile. I love my parents, but seeing how sick my mom is…it’s harder than words could ever describe. And my dad is…well. He’s the same as he’s ever been. I sacrifice my children as buffers. (Sorry childrens.) So the vacation will break all of that up, and still give us enough time on the back side of the trip to get back in good graces with the parents and aunts after leaving for a few days. Oh! And my brother was able to take that entire week off from work, so the girls will have fun hanging out with their crazy uncle! I am really, really, really looking forward to going home!

And that is a very happy place to leave our 5 For Friday! Hopefully the fun and excitement carries me through today and spits me out the other side ready for some fun this weekend! What do YOU have planned? Anything fun?

My best of times, worst of times Mother’s Day.

May 15, 2017

Mother’s Day is never an easy day for me.

I’m filled with gratitude for this amazing village that surrounds me, helping me to be the best me – as they step in to designate hit for me when needed – and helping to raise my girlies for me. I have great sisters (birth sisters and accumulated sisters), cousins, friends, and the best dang stepmom I could have dreamed of. So many people help keep us upright and I am blessed!

But even with all of that happy, there’s the reality of my own mom. Mother’s Day goes in both directions. And my mom is…not how I remember my mom. But I still need to honor Mom as she is. I called her and let her talk for as long as she could. I talked to her about what was going on with us, and she didn’t have much to add from her end. But I know it meant a lot to her to hear from us. Kim and Rhi were there, so I felt like I was, too. Talking – even when she’s obviously having a bad spell – is good for her.

But it wrecked me. Seeing Mom be Not-Mom is always a gutpunch. On Mother’s Day, even more so.

So.

But let’s rewind. The girls and I were having an epic, wonderful weekend. We had a dance party on Friday night, and then after we wore ourselves out with wii-dancing, we played board games and talked and talked and talked. Everyone got along and it was great!

Saturday was the same. The girls went on errands with me without complaining, we went summer clothes shopping for Gracie (who has outgrown all of her clothes since spring), and Bee found a thing or two. She had more that she had picked out, but when I would point out that they wanted $20 for a tank top, she decided herself that it was ridiculous. Watching her carefully weight wants and needs, and the spending of my money, it was glorious!

After shopping, Bee knocked out her project and did it with minimal fuss. Gracie ran out grocery shopping with me, like she does, and I only had minimal grumbling when I made her. She put away the groceries when I got back while I helped Bee finish her project. Bee even wielded the hot glue gun all by herself! And the project was AMAZING:

Bee made the house and lined up the cotton and grapes. It was my idea to do a beginning, middle, and end slide on a rolling paper background, wrapped around two pencils to wind and unwind the paper scenes. (I am so frickin proud of my idea to mount the pencils on push pins that I super-glued to the base. The pencils went onto the push pins with the eraser. That way the bottom was attached firmly, but the pencils could still twirl. Genius, right?!) And then Saturday night the girls kept asking to do something as a family! Something as a family! Please? So we watched movies and had make-up tutorials that we re-enacted on ourselves. Don’t ask me how late I let them stay up! Because they weren’t arguing and we were having fun all together.

And then actual Mother’s Day showed up. Bee decorated all my usual seats with scarves, to make it fancy. The girls got ready for church and gave me a million hugs and told me how much they loved me. It was lovely.

After church, they came home and we opened cards and…no gifts. The cards were nice – don’t get me wrong! But – and here’s where I feel like a horrible person who’s a little materialistic, but let me explain how it’s not – I know I shouldn’t take how my Ex sees my value as a mom by him helping the girls get me a gift for Mother’s Day, but I do. I know he appreciates me – we get along so much better now and we’re honest to god friends, like I was at one point afraid we never would be. I’m close with his new wife, the girls’ stepmom. We call ourselves sister wives! ha! But I can’t say the lack of gifts didn’t hurt a little. I felt like I wasn’t worth the effort. My sister Kim helped the girls get me something, just in case, and it was lovely. Bee picked out a season of Victoria, that she and I could bond over together. (Kim’s right – time period costuming is definitely in our future!) And Gracie got me a bouquet of roses that she arranged.

But, after Gracie arranged the flowers and I got big hugs after church….everything went downhill in a hurry. The girls bickered all afternoon. They entrenched themselves in the living room and turned into zombies, playing Minecraft. I had to do laundry. I had to load the dishwasher. No one wanted to do anything fun with me. My afternoon of watching Victoria wasn’t realized. They were busy. No one wanted anything to do with me. I had my heartbreaking conversation with my mom and the girls had their turns talking with her. And then they went back to…not me. Which, I could have handled in small portions. I don’t expect every single moment to be devoted to me. I just wanted some sort of acknowledgment that it was Mother’s Day and I mattered. That they liked spending time with me. Without me asking. Just one activity together. Like the rest of the weekend!

Dinner was more of the same. Bee asked if she had to make dinner. Why couldn’t I do it. (Sigh.) They watched me set the table. I finished first and rather sit and talk to them at the table while they ate, I just got up and left. I shut my door. You’d think they’d realize I was hurt. They definitely got it when I came out, hours later, and was crying. I had to clear up the leftovers. The girls went right back to Minecrafting in the same seats they had been in since they got home from church. I told them through tears how hurt I was and how they had ruined my day, since they only came to talk to me when they were complaining and tattling about their sister.

So, no. Mother’s Day wasn’t my favorite. So many things went wrong. And no one took any trouble to make it right.

I could have kept quiet. I could have just sighed and hoped next year would be better. But I decided to write about it because this is the truth of what happened. It might hurt some people’s feelings. I don’t mean it to. I just needed to write it out, to purge my hurt feelings.

And maybe things will be better.

Exhaustion.

May 2, 2017

That thing when you get back from vacation and you know that reality is going to smack you in the face and (other than seeing your oldest girl-child again), it’s going to suck. But then it really happens and not only are you dealing with sucky reality, but you’re sick?

Yeah. That.

Double sucky.

I’ve gone through approximately two boxes of tissues in two days and I’m about to commandeer the nice ones, with lotion in the them. Anything to make my nose stop hurting.

This all started the day before I left San Antonio, and I thought it might have been a reaction to the new allergens in a new city, but now everything’s the same, except for my rather unique stopped-up-ed-ness, and I’m ready for that to leave me now. Although It could have been worse and I could have been sick (or allergic to the air or whatever it is) the entire time I was there. Infecting everyone – or exposing them to germapalooza – would have been worse, definitely.

So I’ll take my mountain of tissues and emails and laundry and play poor pitiful mama for a few days and see how far that gets me. And when that’s not very far, at least I know there’s a weekend right around the corner for me to sleep through.

Huzzah? Huzzah.

 

How I made it through my week.

April 18, 2017

It’s been a tough week. Losing a pet is always difficult, but losing one so suddenly, and under such suspicious circumstances is even worse.

I feel like I’ve done it all. I’ve lost a pup-pup to old age; I’ve lost one to divorce; I’ve lost a dog suddenly to an accident; I’ve lost a dog to a sudden medical issue; and I’ve lost a dog who’s run away. And having been through that, this one seems worse. Maybe because the kids are old enough to have invested everything in their dog, and now she’s gone. Maybe because she was the good luck token we got days before the Red Sox won their most recent championship. (Okay, not really that. But maybe.) Maybe every single loss feels like the worst one.

You know, I’m kinda leaning towards that theory.

My friends and family, though – they’re awesome. I think they get it. I know they do. I am surrounded by dog people, and even though who aren’t devoted to pup-pups, they got how devastated I was. And so this happened:

Sympathy cards, encouragement cards, wine, chocolate, extra time with the girls, all kinds of flowers (!) [and thank god no one pranked me with hydrangeas because this just wasn’t the time], and then that photo. My cousin Kene (who, by the way, was the one who came up with the suggestion to name her Fenway) sent me a print of the red seat at Fenway Park. It marks the spot in the Lower Bleachers section in Right Field where the longest homerun – hit by Ted Williams, naturally – landed, clocking in at 502 feet. It was an incredibly thoughtful and personal gift. The girls and I are going to frame it and hang it up, making my home a little more like home Boston, and a great way to remember my pup-pup.

All of it has been very much appreciated. You all have been so sweet and so patient. Fenway was a very good dog, and she will not be forgotten.

Still nope.

April 12, 2017

Last night I came home to an empty house. No spazz-monkey waiting for me when I walked in the door. Quiet. Just quiet.

Last night as I was shutting down the house, I moved around the kitchen on autopilot, filling Fenway’s bowls with water and food for the morning. And then it hit me that I wasn’t supposed to. I didn’t have to. No one was going to be impatient for their breakfast.

One of these days the loss won’t hit me like a soccer punch to the gut. But not today.

FenJules_2015

Fenway and Julie. This pic is all sunshine and love!

A good, good dog.

April 10, 2017

I don’t know how to write about it. Probably because I’m stewing in so much guilt still.

Someone – I think the neighbor kids, while retrieving their dog, but I can’t be sure – left the gate open. When I let Fenway out, not knowing, my sweet, mischievous pup-pup found the open gate, and then escaped. Fenway loves a good adventure.

I tried finding Fenway, driving along the streets, hoping I could tempt her into the car because my goofy dog thinks every car goes to the vet. But I didn’t find her until it was too late. She was hit by a car.

And telling the girls… well…let’s just say we’re never getting a dog again so I never have to go through the particular heartache with them. So many tears! It broke my heart. I can’t even handle my babies with that much grief.

She was a good dog. Yes, you were, Fenway! Who’s a good dog?! She loved hearing that; I can guarantee you her tail is wagging, wherever she is. (And probably there’s a little pee on the carpet.)

Superbowl4

Spring must be here, because everything is attacking me again.

April 3, 2017

Spring is violent. Possibly everywhere, but spring is especially violent here in Tejas.

When I first moved here, I had to adjust to the rabid pollen that attacked me at every breath. The first few years, my poor nose would stuff up just after Valentine’s Day, and wouldn’t relent until after Easter. That level of sinus congestion was violent. My mood was violent after so many sleep deprived nights. Hell, even the raw, red, drippy end of my nose looked violent.

Spring weather is obviously violent here. Every time I think I’ve acclimated a little, I’m reminded just how much of a non-native I really am. One storm system, I’ll be all nonchalant and muster nothing more than a half-hearted hope that I make it home from my errands after work before it gets too bad; the next tornado watch with a tor:con north of 3 means I have to take a personal day and sometimes I even have to take the girls out of school for a made-up doctor’s appointment, because who takes the kids out of school early because of the weather radar?! So after I’m all, okay maybe I can handle this, and being the kind of person who walks out into the back yard to get a better look because it’s not too close yet, then I get a close call like last week and I’m terrified again of how very violent spring is here. Yeah, I’ll be hiding in the closet for awhile.

Then there are the birds, attacking me from left and right. I always loved bluebirds. I mean, maybe not as much as Disney loved them, but I had a real strong affinity. Maybe you remember the story about the bluebirds who set up their cute little nest last year in a corner of the overhang that covers the front stoop? I was all BABY BIRDS!, until I realized that baby birds meant mama birds. Mama birds who like to protect their babies – violently, if need be. Mama birds who will ZOOM! at your head with their razor-sharp beaks and clawing talons. Mama birds who make you slam the door shut before they eat your face off. Violently. So: guess who I opened my front door to find on Saturday?

And lastly (please, God, let it be “lastly”), there are my favorite feral pets, The Ants. My feral ants, also called sugar ants, that can’t be smooshed because they’ll send a distress signal to the hive, causing it to split and multiply. Ants, teeny, tiny, microscopic ants that will make you paranoid about everything, always. Ants that I woke up to find on Sunday morning, crawling out of an electrical outlet and into my sugar jar. I had some of the nuclear poison needed to eradicate my “pets”, which I used to quarantine the outlet they’d made their homebase, but the directions said to let the ants traipse the poison back to their home, in order to kill every last one. I don’t know if I can wait that long. I just need them gone. Now.

So, yes, from all of the violent goings on, I figure it must be spring time in Tejas. Huzzah.

 

Dear Weather Gods: We were kidding about the bottle of Jack Daniels.

March 29, 2017

I knew it was going to storm. It was one of those days when Texans complain about the humidity…and they’re actually right. Usually the humidity they complain about is the kind that makes me shrug a shoulder and “meh,” at them and get the stink eye in return. I’m from a state where humidity and moisture content are ridiculous. It’s like yesterday afternoon, but all the time. A sit-down-in-the-wooden-kitchen-chair-and-have-to-peel-yourself-out-of-it kind of humidity. The air was hot and muggy and not moving anywhere. It felt like tornado weather.

It wasn’t supposed to start until later in the evening, but the line fired up early. It was slow as molasses, though, so really all the meant was that I could look at it every so often as I refreshed all the weather radars and shut off all the NOAA alerts for counties that didn’t even include mine. I eventually convinced myself to go to bed. I was going to be exhausted if I didn’t. Especially if things fired up during the night.

Go ahead and guess what happened.

My heart flew through my chest and up out of my throat every time that NOAA weather radio went off. I’d make sure it wasn’t a tornado, I’d check to see if it was headed my way. Then I’d shut off the lights (if I’d bothered), try to slow my heart rate, and lie back down. Sometimes it would happen three or four times in a row. After time 10 or 12 in about a 5 minute span, I decided that maybe I should just stay up until the line of storms passed. I still had more than half of my night’s sleep ahead of me, and with my insomnia issues, I knew 4 hours would be manageable.

That was when when got our first tornado warning.

I started flying through the house, finding sneakers, grabbing a twin mattress for the closet, convincing the dog to come with me. I took the NOAA radio with me. I took my lap top with me. I cursed myself for cancelling cable – and then changed my mind when I saw I could watch my news station live as long as my internet held out. Mostly, I kept telling the weather gods that Kim and I hadn’t really meant it when we said we were going to chuck a bottle of booze at the next twister in memory of Bill Paxton. Because the tornado the weathermen had issued the warning for? It was headed straight for my house.

There’s nothing quite like that moment, when you realize the exits or mile markers on the highways include your exit (less than a mile from your house), or when they name your intersection on the news, or casually intone the “radar-indicated rotation” is headed straight for the park that you can see two lots over from your back yard. Then the lights start flickering, and your hands shake a little bit more. You start listening for the roar, worrying over it, sure your heart will explode. You wonder if the sweat you’re producing is a symptom of a heart attack – surely it can’t be healthy.

It was the longest half hour of my life. The tornado warning was allowed to expire. Good gravy, that was close! I texted with the girls and made sure they were okay. I checked on Jeff – the other tornado in the area passed by just a couple hundred feet from his house; he watched the power flashes as the transformers blew.

I stayed awake for a few minutes, getting back to “normal” and seeing if I could ever sleep again. I didn’t think I would fall asleep, but I crashed hard, trying to figure out what was going on when my alarm clock went off.

As scary as that was, it hit me again as I drove out of the neighborhood and nearly ended up in the tree that was lying across the road – there were trees and street lights lying helter skelter, a goodish number of them across the road. A yard or two over from my house. That’s a little too close.

Good luck getting me to sleep the next night we have storms in our forecast. Good luck trying to get me to sleep at all.

Don’t worry: I’m still swimming.

March 25, 2017

I’ve been having quite a time of it lately. I don’t know how it works for you, but when I’m wrestling with something – an idea, a problem, demons, ghosts, tweenagers, break-ups, and the worst of them all, feelings – well, I shut down. I go into power-save mode so I can ensure that I have energy for the most important things. I feed the kids. Supervise homework. Buy groceries. Go to Beauty in the Beast. Force myself to go to work. The girls know I’ve been…not my best. They think I’m sick. [And, honestly, on top of everything else, I have been sick. I made them draw blood to see if I had listeria because of the constant stomach issues and the fact that I’d eaten some of the recalled Sargento cheese. Why you play me like that, cheese?]

Depression isn’t an easy thing. Yes, that’s the most obvious statement I could possibly have made, but here’s the thing: saying it out loud helps. Writing it helps me even more, given my affinity for writerly occupations. Writing is my oxygen. Writing and reading, they’re one of my best measurements to gauge my mental health and overall well-being. This past week (and maybe longer? I don’t know, honestly, how wide this pond has stretched) I haven’t been able to post because I haven’t been able to write. I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile. When I did think of something, I couldn’t imagine that it would hold any value for any one reading it. Why post useless material? But I persisted. I sat every morning and tried to think of anything of value; things that would necessitate more than three sentences to sum things up. Because I wouldn’t let myself just throw my hands in the air (metaphorically; my depression sucks all energy out of me and I couldn’t even throw my hands in the air in exasperation in my head). I made myself type things out, start stories I didn’t like, just to go through the motions. To fucking do something. I have a couple dozen drafts from last week. I might have written something, but I couldn’t post it. I wasn’t close to swimming to shore, but at least I was treading water. When you’re in the muck as bad as I was, “just” treading water is amazing. It’s a gold star. Getting your mind to loosen the grip on the thoughts of uselessness, panic, anxiety, and general despair…it’s exhausting, but also rewarding because a tiny voice is in there telling you that you made a bit of progress. There’s hope. I was still swimming. Or, trying to anyway.

Gracie kept asking for blog posts. A few book club partners asked if they had missed my Thursday reviews. I imagine Kathy is probably one step from boarding a plane and showing up on my doorstep. But other than that, it’s been quiet. Either everyone is giving me space. Or they have been busy and don’t notice. Maybe I’m barely a ripple in their pond.

But that’s okay. Them, waiting it out. It’s what I needed. I don’t know why I was moved to finally write a post tonight. I don’t know why I wanted to explain all of a sudden. I’m not embarrassed by my conditions. Depression and anxiety are heavily stigmatized in our society, and that’s not right. You can’t seek help if you’re afraid to say what’s wrong. If you’re afraid to admit even to yourself what’s wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being depressed. It’s not your fault if you are. Tell yourself what’s wrong. Tell someone else what’s wrong (if you can). And seek self-care and let others care for you, too.

I’m doing better. I kept swimming (just keep swimming – Dory gives the best advice). I know that I have a wonderful village standing by, ready to throw in a life preserver if I need it. I know that things will get better. It won’t always be like this; it won’t always feel like this. I’m okay, guys. I’m writing. And in just a few seconds, I’ll hit the publish button. I’m back. Ish, but hey! I’m here!