Changing Places – The Prequel

It’s been a harrowing two weeks.  Well, actually longer – if I count the weeks preceding them where I waited for a response to our desperate need to relocate.  We have been in “discussions” with my ex about relocating for months.  He has had some financial worries, as have we, so it seemed a good time to address them all.  Unfortunately, we were unable to come to an agreement until very recently when, once again through attorneys, we were able to map out how this would all work and benefit everyone involved.
It began as a casual 2 hour conversation that went absolutely nowhere, and progressed to angry, accusatory text messages, to my official notice of relocation, to his 11th hour “no,” to my – what I felt was a most reasonable alternative – proposal, to finally a phone call on a particularly stressful day telling me he had agreed to the relocation.  He had stipulations.  All of which were reasonable, mostly.  Some were open to negotiation, and so they were thus negotiated.  We have an agreement.

Meanwhile, Todd and I have been cleaning up the aftermath of his last renter, eradicating the stench of 10 dogs in the backroom of the basement, and repainting rooms in preparation for… something.  For weeks the stress mounted as we contemplated living apart once again, and me moving into my parents’ home again and working out some new schedule with the kids, and preparing the house to be listed again in hopes of selling.

For the last two weeks, we have known we had an agreement, and yet no documents were produced to support it.  No one has any explanation for these “lost” documents, but they have arrived and we are expecting to sign soon.  Meanwhile, on Wednesday, my ex and I drove our two down in separate cars to enroll in their new schools.

It’s been a harrowing couple of weeks, because of all the last minute paperwork and phone calls and – on top of it all – remembering all the details of our lives, including important diabetes-related details, so I don’t forget a thing.  Right now, if it aint written down – it aint getting done, let alone remembered. 

Stepping into new schools, as a mother, feels so weird.  No one knows us, we don’t know them, the schools look so different from where we came from (our current schools are fairly new construction), and we have to not only adapt but also make sure – in my daughter’s case – that her diabetes management is precise and exactly the way I want it.  I’m so accustomed to going into the main office, and they know who I am and exactly why I’m there.   Nearly every face at parent pickup was familiar – several of them were actually friends.

I feel my kids’ anxiety about starting a new school.  I’m worried about them adjusting, making friends, and especially Owen – because I know how tough middle school can be.  I start imagining his first day, navigating new hallways, and ducking his head as he walks because he feels uncomfortable in his new surroundings, and that moment when he enters the cafeteria at lunch and has no idea where to sit.  And I feel the tears burning my eyes.  He is my baby, even though he doesn’t want to be anymore.  I feel his feelings acutely.  And I so want him to be successful and happy. 

My daughter got a short tour on Wednesday, and only because she was whispering loudly about wanting to meet her new teacher today, but was suddenly timid standing outside her new classroom door with a table full of boys staring at her.  She later told me she didn’t want to go there, simply because they will all stare at her.  I explained that we were a novelty to them that day – new faces and a distraction from the lessons.

Owen was already looking solemn as he stepped out of dad’s car at the middle school, but conducted himself with poise and maturity in the guidance office while paperwork was filled out.  But at one point, when I looked across the table at him, he was wiping tears from his eyes and staring at the ceiling.  And that’s all it took.  I felt the bile rising in my throat as all the fears I have tried to repress came rushing forward in my mind, and my eyes felt wet.  When he met my eyes, he nodded at me, in that unspoken bond we have. Fortunately this emotional moment was interrupted by the guidance secretary – who was very well organized and kind – and we were back to business.

There’s so much to get accustomed to myself – although I can bury myself inside the house most days and get it organized, and get back to my schoolwork.  I’ve spent enough time in the house since 2011 that I know my way around our town, but anything beyond it is still a bit foreign to me.  I know how to get to Todd’s campus.  But shopping malls, and doctors and dentists, even hospitals… my lord, I don’t even know where the nearest Target is!!  I have yet to learn.  Unless I drive 5 minutes north into Pennsylvania, where I know my way. 

So moving day is set for Saturday.  Todd has moved quite a few things to the house already, but there is still a mountain of things to pack and I just can’t wrap my brain around how it will all get done in the next 3 days.  We need more boxes.  Don’t have enough people to help us move, and now my dad is sick!  We were without the convenience of hiring a moving company strictly based on finances and lack of time to plan.

I picked Ava up from school today –her last day – so I could collect the nurse’s diabetes supplies and so Ava could have extra time to say goodbye to last year’s teacher, Mrs. K, whom she adored.  I walked into the building with a deep breath, knowing I would likely never walk in it again.  I saw familiar faces, hugged a friend and quickly walked away to avert any more emotions.  Another friend told me she was in the classroom when the class said goodbye to Ava, and how a little girl burst into tears.  I knew immediately who she was, a little girl who was new to school last year and took an immediate love for Ava. 

Ava and I walked into the nurse’s office, where Mrs. J hugged me and I burst into tears.  I hate saying goodbye!  And I immediately felt guilty, because I’m supposed to be the strong one here and not let either of the kids see me sad to go.  Or at least not bawling like a soap actress.  I’ve been playing the role of happy-go-lucky-can’t-wait-for-this-new-and-wonderful adventure and at this point I’m not going to win the Emmy. 

Then we saw Mrs. K coming in from the busses, and she hugged Ava over and over, cupped her chin and told her how sweet she was, hugged me and made me promise to have Ava email her.  In the 8 years that I have been associated with our elementary school, I never encountered one teacher I didn’t like – they were all wonderful in their own way, but Mrs. K last year became – to me – the best.  She was not just teacher, but friend.  And I so appreciated her for all she did.  She even gave Ava a little pencil bag with some supplies in it, for going away.

And so we walked out of Oley Valley Elementary for the last time, Ava skipping down the sidewalk and me with a heavy heart, making one last ditch effort not to cry before all the busses pulled out.  I almost made it.

This Is Why Nobody Likes a Hangover – Or – Blame It On the Wine

For about a year now I’ve been after my mom to plan a “Dine Out For a Cause” type of event that would benefit the JDRF.  What I envisioned as a casual fundraiser with a percentage of the proceeds going to the JDRF became a full-blown Caribbean Festival, with island-inspired foods and music, and a wonderful tropical oasis created by a friend and longtime guest of the restaurant.

My dad and stepmother joined us and brought friends.  Todd and I went over to the restaurant in the early afternoon to help set up – the place was bustling with activity not unlike our wedding day (except I looked a lot less Peg Bundy, and a lot more Demi this time).  There was an ENORMOUS amount of set up to be done in the raffle room and apparently no one was available for this task but me.  So I worked my room, and Todd worked on his projects, and next thing we knew – it was 5.  The event started at 6, both of us needed to go home and change, and neither of us had eaten since breakfast. 

So we get to the event.  Everyone is there.  It’s festive, it’s fun, lots of hugs and air kisses all around.  I had a margarita.  On an empty stomach.  No matter – I sipped it slowly and milled about with the guests – and then my friend came in with her new baby and I got to hold her for a good 25 minutes, leaving my half-empty drink on the bar until someone took it away.  That was probably a good thing.  Still no food in mah belleh.

I later moved on to wine, and milled about some more.  I found my family, including my husband, all sitting down and eating dinner, so I decided it might be a good idea to visit the buffet.  I returned to the table with a second glass of wine and sat down, in the unfortunate seat between my husband and Mr. Name Dropper who is somehow linked to show business and spent the next half hour leaning over my plate while I’m eating, and chewing my ear off about all the people he knows.  Yeah, well I was working up there in Jersey with Bob DeNiro …but, ya know, I’m not a name dropper, really…. And Uma is such a nice woman, really down to earth…. But really, I’ve just gotta tell you…

And the next thing I knew I’d finished glass #2 and was staring at the bar wondering how appropriate it would be to excuse myself to get another glass of wine, even after he offered some from his bottle (nevermind that it was the same wine I was drinking from the bar).  But, I needed to get away from this guy who was invading. My. Personal. Space.  I couldn’t even eat.  And really, the dude did drop a lot of names, as in – if I had a dime for every name I heard I’d be a millionaire – but none of them sounded even remotely familiar to me.  I haven’t been in the [restaurant] business this long not to smell horseshit a mile away – or – in this case, less than 12 inches (no kidding). 

So, I gently excused myself and headed for the bar for – glass #3, and left poor Todd to fend for himself with Mr. I-know-everyone-in-the-Baltimore-Symphony-the-two-of-you-really-need-to-come-and-meet-Miss-blahblah. Really, if I hadn’t had that much to drink on an empty stomach, I might have been lucid enough to actually remember that an entire blog post could be written solely about our encounter with him.  And all the people he said he knew.  But now I am left with mere shards of conversation, and a lingering irritation at having my personal space violated.  I. Do. Not. Like. It.

The rest of the evening remains a blur, filled with conversations with friends and guests, and a brief speech by my mom about diabetes and her granddaughter’s need for a cure, and the daughter she is in awe of, that – by glass #4 – made me cry.  The last thing I remember was sitting next to Todd on the couch, my head on his shoulder, falling asleep and not giving a shit if my mouth was hanging open.

I fell asleep in bed later in my clothes – an old trick I learned in college, and woke up with my makeup still on – another college classic.  And. Hung. Over.  Four glasses of wine over 5 hours is not a lot for me.  But it is on an empty stomach.  Lesson learned:  never, ever, drink on an empty stomach.

So work the next day came early – with the massive cleanup and reorganization of the dining rooms for one special party of 25, regular business, and 2 out-of-house caterings.  We were hustling to get it all done by 5:30 and, by 3:30, my ass was dragging.  No longer dizzy, just a marching unit finishing off the final performance in my head, making me at once irritable and aching for the nearest couch to lie down on.  Which is the worst feeling in the world, feeling like somebody slipped me a valium and knowing my night hasn’t even begun yet.

And of course it started out with this kid (who was probably the youngest looking 20-something I’ve seen in a long time) complaining about where their party of 6 was seated – and – why can’t they sit down there, in the most requested and booked out room in the house instead??  Our host came rushing back with this massive problem, which wasn’t really a problem at all because I would’ve said that room is already booked out, and too bad for you.  Well, I don’t really speak to our guests that way but I was already in a foul mood from the hangover and this last minute request to move a SIX somewhere else about sent my tolerance over the edge.  BUT – it wasn’t my call and we … moved them.  And the evil little man in my head was like, good!  Reward their bullshit and don’t bother teaching them about how you properly dine out.

The really bad part about all of this is that I enjoy helping to make others’ experience here enjoyable, and above all else – letting the first table of the evening screw up your happy beat is like trying to walk on a blister all night long.  It’s a hot, angry, inescapable irritation that can and will get worse if you continue treading on it.  In other words – let it go!

Because if you don’t, then

the table of five old ladies asking if a tossed salad (we don’t do those)comes with dinner,

and the non-dairy diner wants sorbet that is any flavor but the one you have tonight,

and you broke 2 fingernails and ruined yesterday’s manicure catching two dinner trays before they clambered to the floor in the middle of the dining room,

and the shortage of servers to meet the guests’ demands,

and witnessing grave fine dining service errors on the floor,

and children half your age who have worked less than 10% of the years you have put into this business giving you orders,

and we currently have no dishwashers so the dishes were piled to the heavens,

and the credit card batch out at the end of the night wasn’t adding up….

will ruin your night!!  And make you a nasty, snarky bitch to coworkers, who have no idea the FSU marching band has returned for a Seminoles encore in your brain and you’re really just tired.

The next day wasn’t a whole lot better.  It was like somebody laid a giant fart over my universe that smelled like animal carcass. I blame it on the wine.  I slept till 10, while Todd packed half the living room up and loaded it into our two cars to drive down to the new house – and – since we got such a late start, all my plans to blitz the laundry room (a whole other blog post in itself) and paint some more walls were derailed by an impending funeral. 

Yes, you read that right.  We had to attend a funeral.  A very close colleague of Todd’s passed suddenly last week while on vacation.  Todd’s entire department and then some, were there.  And only a handful of spouses – so, I could have stayed behind and pine-soled the family room from floor to ceiling instead, but, my husband needed me.  Todd had mentioned it was a viewing, but still I swallowed the grapefruit in my throat when we entered the room and I saw the open casket.  I’m not a big fan of seeing dead bodies.  The first and last one I ever saw, was my Nana.  And that was a choice for, if nothing else, the most obvious reason.  I whispered to Todd that I understood if he wanted to pay his respects up close and personal-like, but I would be waiting over there until he was done.  It might have sounded more like, I can’t do this.   

You may recall my mentioning how emotional I can get at things like these.  And, still feeling a bit raw from my hangover and the previous work night, I was really worried I’d lose my composure again and this time it was either gonna be bad, or really really bad.  It’s the difference between reverent tears, or extremely inappropriate laughter.  I felt like a mannequin with the pasty smile, talking myself through every single moment and trying not to focus too much on the really bad guitar playing up front.  Thankfully it was only one song (?) and we were too far away for my challenged ears to hear even half of what people were saying about Mark. SO, I made it through without embarrassing myself.

And we made it back to the house just long enough for me to lie down on the futon, get cozy, and …. fall asleep.  I drank too much wine without food on Friday, which gave me a hangover on Saturday, which wrecked my sunny disposition, which left me too exhausted on Sunday (because hangovers over 40 are a 48-hour ordeal) to do anything productive but go to a funeral and fall asleep.  I blame it on the wine. 

What I Learned This Summer

Not only are there illicit drug user websites, but  I also learned that some of these morons – instead of the good old fashioned method of snorting or injecting cocaine … I mean, why stop there?  … are plugging it.  What is “plugging,” you ask? Well, I am SO glad you asked.  It means they are putting cocaine in their ass.  Yes, you read that here.  Double quadruple ewww.  That is some hardcore shit.  No pun intended. **

And speaking of asses, people don’t change.  I think I learned this before, but really – sometimes this can’t be learned enough.  And not only don’t they change, they don’t really want your help either.   It’s really hard to see people make the same mistakes over and over again, you know, like Wile E. Coyote.  Except that cliff you just fell off?  I’m sorry – we couldn’t save you this time.

I am damaged.  Like, not mortally damaged, but more like – – superficial-wound kind of damaged.  I have trust issues.  It stems from my most recent past, and my fear of people not seeing me as credible… because someone else spent many years making me feel that I wasn’t.  And, if I may go out on a cliff limb for just a moment, I think that is how abusers control their victims.  By making them feel like no one will ever believe them, and so that they never tell anyone.  My issues are currently around authority – like judges, police officers, lawyers, and even therapists.  I feel like I’m guilty, until proven innocent.  A recent experience with one such “authority” dredged up the old wounds and made me feel supremely uneasy.  And I now find myself questioning whether it will ever be “okay” for me to speak up again.

It’s possible to post too much on Facebook.  Some people post the minute things, like what’s for dinner or the surgery on their hammertoe.  Others post all manner of political fare, chewed up and spit out for everyone else to jump on like flies on shit and wage verbal wars with one another.  Then there are those that post quotes – big quotes, little quotes, sad quotes, funny quotes, so-many-they-are-drowning-everyone-else’s-posts quotes.  And then there are the cryptic posts alluding to some unmentionable issue or hinting at a possible mental illness or emotional diarrhea.  And then there’s Me.  I recently posted a number of the former, and I can’t really explain why other than that I needed to be able to say something.   Even if the majority of my friends had no idea what I meant.  But what it caused was an avalanche of concern that made me wish I’d never said anything at all.  Let this be a cautionary tale, friends.  Keep it light and shut yer trap!

Adolescent girls, coincidentally, need to learn that particular lesson… illustrated by an encounter I had with two of them in a Wawa restroom.  They each were occupying each one of the two stalls in the women’s bathroom.  And they were talking to each other VERY LOUDLY about getting their period, and one of them was in fact not bleeding after all, and better safe than sorry, and well, sometimes I usually have really bad cramps for, like, 3 weeks before I actually get it.  I did a sideways glance at the 60-ish appearing woman waiting for an available stall next to me, and she was smirking.  And then these two little girls come out after what seemed to me WAY longer than it should take to pee and/or put in a tampon (which they were also discussing, but I will save you the TMI details. You’re welcome) and didn’t seem the least bit embarrassed to see us two old chicks standing there.

God answers prayers.  Yeah, this isn’t exactly a newsflash.  And I really already know this too, but my faith has been tested a lot this summer, and I found myself questioning a lot.  And then the proverbial light went on inside the darkroom of my soul and I realized that, while I believed I was suffering, God had actually answered my prayer.  It didn’t diminish what I felt, but there was a moment when I remembered Psalm 23:4… for thou art with me.

I couldn’t wait for school to start.  I see many people posting the back-to-school photos of their kids, lamenting how much they will miss them… and I wonder: wtf is wrong with them??!!  Did their kids play nicely together, do arts and crafts every day, clean up after themselves and offer to help with the dishes and housecleaning, and not argue about bedtime?  Did their kids not argue with each other incessantly, and climb up their mom’s ass all day long?  My oldest just wanted to play video games all day (though he happily went to the pool), and my youngest treated me like Julie the Cruise Director every day.  What are we doing today that’s fun? Which translates as, how can we spend all the money you don’t have today? Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids more than life itself.  But they needed to get back to “work.” 
Miscellaneous things that scare me:

  • Twinkies have been re-released this summer, with the same recipe, except now the shelf life is 3 weeks longer than it was before.  What is it that they put in there to make them last that long?  And how safe is it?
  • Tractor trailers carrying “infectious waste.”  With the high incidence of tractor trailer-involved accidents, this rates right up there on my anxiety meter with my daughter using uncovered public toilets.
  • Renters.  It’s been another long, arduous journey to remove yet another delinquent renter from Todd’s house.  $$$$ delinquency aside, the interior aftermath we have been (and continue to be) working on for the last 3 weeks has me positively exhausted and shaking my head at just how disgusting and oblivious people can live.  (This whole story deserves its own blog post.)
  • I am 17 pounds heavier than I was 2 years ago.  Anyone who has seen me recently would find this hard to believe.  I do have a little bulge in the waist, but I certainly don’t look like I need to lose 17 pounds.  Anyone who saw me 2 years ago, would have (and has) said I didn’t look well.  Amazing what stress can do to the human body.
  • Remakes of classic songs from my youth.  Um, I mean BAD remakes.  As in Summer of ’69, a classic anthem I belted out many a time in my car on a road trip, now annihilated by One Direction (this alone explains it all) who have managed to dismantle the tempo that defines its classic-ness, into some sort of clubby boy band song that sounds like a bunch of drunken frat boys are singing it.  Bryan must’ve had a heart attack.  That’s why we haven’t heard from him. (Go on – Youtube it and you decide.) 

** Just because at least oneperson is wondering… I often have to search and look up information and medical terms to ensure accuracy in my transcription. A recent search for the use of cocaine in sinus surgery turned up WAY more than I wanted to know.