What’s Happening Now

Sitting down at my laptop after a rather uneventful weekend. I removed someone’s used dental flosser from my keyboard (I know – WTF???) and cracked open a rather innocuous Corona.

Today’s pain scale: a definite 4. For now. And that’s what the beer is for. Pain meds don’t help, and nobody is prescribing anything stronger than Tylenol Extra Strength from here on out as we are now t-minus 2 weeks to open neck surgery. After I shared a pic of my MRI, one friend said something like, “wow. No wonder you drink.” And my first thought was, WTF? Really? Do I really sound like I drink a lot? Cause I really don’t drink as much as ya’ll think. I don’t have the stamina for all that alcohol anymore, which should have become quite clear after last summer’s soiree with the Amish Outlaws and Todd and my much younger, two-wooden-legs brother.

Anyway. I haven’t been drinking much. I decided to lay off the alcohol after the definitive, diagnostic pictures of my cervical spine, and focus on just healthy eating and 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. However, the Neph laundry debacle on Veruca’s birthday led my mom to mixing Metropolitans for the two of us and my martini glass was never empty for the better part of three hours. At that point I think the pain was either gone, or completely intoxicated itself.

So, surgery. Got all the informational papers yesterday. Pre-op PE and bloodwork. MRSA swab. I have to shower with this special soap the day and night before, and then again in the morning BEFORE DAWN since I have to be at the hospital at 6:30 a.m. This whole thing is creating intense anxiety. The pain I’m having is reason enough to go through with it, but it’s also giving me other worries I won’t verbalize with anyone.

Todd and I had dinner plans with friends last weekend and chatted the whole way there … we both have a lot of potential changes ahead of us… until we dove into surgery conversation and he expressed the anxiety it causes him. And I’m in tears, because I’m remembering my last trip to the hospital and I’m afraid this experience is going to rip that wound wide open. And I couldn’t articulate that in our conversation with less than 30 minutes before our arrival at our friends’ house. And this is the first time in nearly 5 years that I’m feeling any emotion at all about that.

So anyway. The next week and a half are filled with the last days of school, summer workouts, an endocrinologist appointment, haircuts, a pre-op appointment, an out of town trip, my last two work days, and one raucous girls’ day out with my bestie. These are the days BEFORE.

We are now here. The Before Surgery. A long list of stuff I have to get done Before. Before my neck is cut open, Before I am knocked out for 2 or 3 hours, Before I go through the recovery. I want to clean the house. I want clean floors, clean pets, clean bathrooms, clean clothes, and a clean bed. I want to edge and weed my gardens, maybe plant some new things, mulch. I want to paint the shutters on the house. I want to clean out drawers and closets. It’s like nesting, only I come home with new discs instead of a new baby.

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Meanwhile, everything and anything has decided that Mercury is in retrograde – or, for all you not-into-astrology folks – the period of time every so often when shit either breaks or stops working. LIKE my car.

You know the one – that was brand new a year ago. That has already had – count them – FOUR vacations at the dealership in 12 months. This time, while we were safely inside our friends’ house having a lovely dinner during the rain showers, the car decided it wanted its windows down. We come outside and there’s the windows. Down. And the inside of the doors saturated. And the driver’s seat.

The next day the touch screen was completely black. No GPS, no Sync, nothing. This happened twice before, but it magically fixed itself before we were able to take it in.

On Thursday the toilet in the staff bathroom was bubbling and stopped flushing. And then the other two bathrooms had the same thing happen, and THEN someone from one of the offices downstairs said there was water coming through the ceiling, through the light panels. And apparently a bucket or two wasn’t going to do the job.

That was almost as exciting as the day the fire alarm went off at the other office I work in occasionally, which turned out to be a false alarm. Regardless, it was an entirely new experience for me.

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Work is going well. Some days are stressful. Those are the busy days where it’s suddenly 6 o’clock and you have no idea what happened to the last 5 hours. Some days are quiet enough until just after 5. Same thing happens on Fridays about an hour before we close. It’s like people panic when the night/weekend comes. Which is crazy to me, because there’s always somewhere you can take your sick child on any day of the week at any time. When my 17-year-old was a baby, we had two choices… call the doctor, or go to the ER. Urgent care wasn’t an option then.

In one week, I got hollered at by some woman who insisted she’d been on hold for 45 minutes with the nurses’ line; hollered at by a mother whose 4-week-old had a stuffy nose who wouldn’t accept any answer without the word “appointment” in it; and screamed at by another mom who needed physicals for her 3 kids in less than a month so they wouldn’t miss out on playing sports. Word to the wise: You can’t get a well visit in under 3 months in MOST practices. The latter two graced the start of two different days.

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Out of recent experiences, I have these words of wisdom: DO NOT, under any circumstances, blame the scheduler for lack of immediate appointments. Your 10-minute tirade is not going to change the reality that There Are No Appointments.

Do NOT under any circumstances, ream out the person on the other end of the phone. We are here to help, we’re not here to say no, but we also can’t break standard protocol.

The first appointments to go are always the ones after 3:30 p.m.  If that’s what you want, you have to schedule at least 3 months in advance.

Again, please do not holler at the scheduler that you cannot take off work and/or will not pull your child out of school “just” for a well visit. You are not the first parent to ever have to work it out, and you won’t be the last. As for the 10-minute tirade, see above.

Above all, remember that we are here to do a job and to help. We aren’t here to make your life more difficult. But you have to do your part too.

The End

 

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No April Fools

Today’s post is brought to you by this:

Oh my God, Trix! We were talking about what we eat for breakfast – my friends and I were talking about it – like what kind of cereal we like and Hope said she loves Fruity Pebbles and I love Trix which is really just the same thing except they’re little balls, you know? Oh, and mom – you might not get to sit with [a mom friend] on the field trip because you have to choose your bus ahead of time and she may not be on our bus. And we have to get tickets to Mary Poppins because Reena is in it and I really want to see my bestie and be there to support her. And guess who’s playing Mary Poppins?  I don’t remember what part Reena plays… I have to text her and ask. And you have to buy the tickets TONIGHT.

And this:

Opac tried to hug Veruca and she yelled at him to stoooooooop! She didn’t want a hug. His response? You weren’t held enough as a child.

Meanwhile, back in Spring Break land….

Todd got the flu. It was ugly. And then it morphed into pneumonia. After work I drove him to urgent care where they can do everything under one roof, which they did, and I’m happy (well, not happy happy) to report he tested positive for flu and pneumonia, and is currently recovering.

He announced in the car on the way there that he did NOT want to spend his entire night in urgent care, and I told him to shut the hell up that it wasn’t going to be that long and that it’s better than spending the entire next day traveling to three different locations to accomplish the same goal. And he knows I’m right, because he left there already feeling better because he was ranting about the family doctor all the way home and he’s now a fan of Patient First.

So this week is spring break at the college and he’s got pneumonia. Todd is so not the right person to get long-term illness. It’s one of the few differences between us: he is not a sitting-still person. He needs to be doing something. All the time. It’s been a week and two days, and he has watched every episode of every car show and American Pickers and Pawn Stars and Forged in Fire, and he’s pissed off.

I took him out Monday to buy a new kitchen faucet – we had a cheap one he’d installed before the renters had moved in and it corroded at the top so that when you turned it on it shot water straight out at your face. It was great. I kept forgetting and I’d turn it on and … you can picture this, right? I decided not to mention it to the kids, to see who got hit first. It turned out to be Opac, who hilariously exclaimed WTF?! It’s the little things, people.

One of my coworkers suggested putting a paper towel over the hole, since it will cling when it gets wet. Great idea! I really wanted to tape it up with duct tape. And I would have too, if I could’ve found it. And that’s another story in this great house of ours. The mystery of Where-Is-It applies to just about anything you might be looking for.

Usually it’s tools. But here’s the thing – if you know where it was used last, that’s where you will find it. Seems legit, right? Except that WE can never remember where we last used it. I am fruitlessly trying to apply that place for everything, everything in its place rule… but unfortunately it only works with those willing to play.

Anyway, Grumpy Gills got to spend the day out again on Tuesday thanks to another trip to the car dealership. My car – I swear is a lemon – there, I said it – is acting wonky again. Engine light came back on, on Sunday on my way to pick up the kids for Easter.

(Todd stayed home because, sick, and I took the kids for an early dinner at a Japanese hibachi steakhouse with my mom… because why not? V was in heaven and O decided to sleep in the car while we ate. Teenagers. I ate sushi again and I think I’m good for a few months.

I also remembered what I don’t like about hibachi places – feeling obligated to watch the show and then sit with mouths gaping like seals while the chef tries to land pieces of broccoli in your mouth. Three times. Because one sailed past my head, one hit me on the nose, and the other landed in my hair. There is absolutely nothing dignified about this.)

So anyway, the car. We sat in the waiting area while they ran diagnostics on it. The music was classic 80s rock and it was so loud I thought I was in a fraternity house. At 9 o-clock in the morning. The place was like an ant hill. People everywhere, hustling about. The waiting area sits back behind the showroom, so we have a full view of one gorgeous $72, 000 blue Cobra that was polished so bright I could see my reflection in it, and a fully-loaded F250 white king cab that Todd spent the better part of 78 minutes trying to sell me.

Given the state of the Edge, which is only a year old and has spent more time in a garage than my ‘77 Audi Fox in high school, Todd is becoming increasingly keen on trading it in. I love my car. I’d be happy to trade it in on an identical one. Todd was still pitching the merits of pickup trucks when I suggested that a) I’ve already driven two, b) I am too short to be driving something that big, and c) he can trade in the California GT if he really wants that truck. He smiled at me and then suddenly remembered that it’s been an hour and a half and no word on WTF is going on with the car, so got up and wandered back to service. I went to the coffee machine and loaded up on cup #3, which – if you know me – was not going to end well.

Nearly two hours later the Enterprise guy comes to deliver us to our loaner – a f*cking PICK UP TRUCK – because the dealer needed to keep our car. The entire ride home Todd is all, how great is this… this truck runs so smooth… and I’m all, I will fall out of this thing every time I drive it. But not really, because I know it’s short term and I can enjoy the adventure of driving a pickup again because I know it aint ever gonna be mine.

Other miscellaneous stuff:

One of our neighbors saw our exterior motion-sensored light going on and off like an SOS signal and was worried we were signaling for help, so she got another neighbor involved who called to check on us.

I returned to the chiropractor for the first time in 3 months. He’s feeling around my neck making “oh” sounds and I’m like, am I dying? You know it’s bad when the doctor is admitting it’s bad.

Buying tampons at 48. This is bullshit. Eight bucks for a box. Tampax PEARL. WTF does that even MEAN? Why can’t they just call them tampons and be done with it? Gotta make them sound all fancy and shit. Like, what difference does it make, really? I know this all sounds trivial, but it occurred to me when I emptied the last box that why the hell do I need to keep buying these?

I’m embracing the aging process, sort of, but some of the details are just BS.

 

 

Where I’ve Been – Early February Edition

Blogged while stuck at home with the HVAC guy. I could’ve been working today….

We had a weather event on Sunday that bled into Monday morning, and schools did not have a delay… but they should have. But we’ll get to that in a minute because THE EAGLES WON THE SUPERBOWL.

It was quite a show, er – game – there was suspense, drama, no penalties called on the Patriots (because they never do anything wrong), some funny commercials, and some halftime show that had all the feeling of sex leading up to an orgasm that is never achieved, BUT… there was Prince. And I so did not expect that tribute because I live in oblivion most of the time even though the game was in Minneapolis, and while I’d like to point out that my hormones have been very stable of late – I sat there on the couch with tears running down my face. Even after the third quarter started. It was pathetic. And I wasn’t even drunk.

My brother went into the city because he’s still young and stupid and 6 feet and smart enough to want to be in the center of it all as it’s going down. A couple of friends said they wished they were there, and I reminded them of Baltimore’s win a few years ago when Todd and I thought we’d “just drive into the city and join the celebration.” It felt like we were extras in Apocalypse Now. People were getting kicked by police horses and helicopters were circling overhead. Crossed that one off my bucket list.

The restaurant-staff Christmas party was brunch on Sunday. We did the Pollyanna thing – which Todd kept pronouncing “polly-ahna” and which I kept telling him was not correct. This year wasn’t as cut-throat as years past, though I still think it was unfair to steal the 16-year-old’s lava lamp and give him wax burners (not naming names). I had two mimosas on an empty stomach. That was fun. And then Andy – who was sitting next to me –dropped a name on me to watch my facial expression change (my mom’s idea). Mom, rapidly approaching her 70s, seems to think she can get away with naughty shit and blame it on her age. If I had a dime for every time she said, “well, I’m old now.”

So anyway. Back to Monday morning, when V and I waited at the bus stop for FIFTY MINUTES. Opac rode to school with a friend, so he got to school on time. The high school bus, which usually comes before the middle school bus, came 40 minutes late. At the 50 mark I called the middle school and inquired about the bus and was informed that yes – it just arrived. Arrived? I said. How is that possible when we’re STILL waiting for it?

Obviously some of the roads were icy and some buses had difficulty. All I wanted to know was WHO’s in charge of communicating that the school bus has cut out part of the route? I still don’t know the answer to that one, but it was suggested to me for future reference – when I called to ask them why Veruca was marked absent yesterday – that I can call the transportation office. Oh, and if V has a cell phone, she could call me from her bus stop if she’s ever waiting too long. Um, WHAT?

The days have been filled with frustration lately. Opac was frustrated because he couldn’t find his deodorant this morning, which should come as no surprise if you could see his room, and V was pissed off about I-don’t-know-what and was generally slamming stuff around. Probably because she “can’t find anything to wear,” and didn’t like my suggestion that perhaps “something to wear” was among the mountains of clothing strewn about her room.

Me, I’m still irritated that our insurance sent me a letter of denial for V’s test strips. I called, ready to rip someone a new asshole, and turns out all that was needed was a prior auth from our provider. (Beginning of the “new year” insurances do this – FYI, for the unbaptized.) But the icing on the cake: later, a second letter came that said, “I am pleased to inform you that I have approved your request… blah blah blah.” Well, thank you and Fuck You.

Last week I missed two funerals because V got The Sick and was home for 3 days. Not that I actually look forward to attending these things, but I really wanted to be there for the two families. One was sudden and unexpected – a bacterial infection that shut down her organs and 10 days later she passed. A potent reminder of the fragility of life, and the importance of valuing every minute and loving your VIPs.

One of my resolutions is coming along nicely this year: I recently finished reading my fourth book since New Year’s… The Glass Castle. Which was every bit as good as everyone said it was, even if I wanted to strangle the parents several times over. I was thinking that both kids should read it since neither of them have any appreciation for all that they have or the fact that they have food on the table that they sometimes dislike. Todd said* it wouldn’t have the impact on them that it had on me.

Opac slept over at a friend’s house Friday night and I was sick with the doom-and-gloom anxiety until well after I got home from work. This was the first time ever that he slept at a friend’s house. Can you believe that? And not because of me. Kids these days just don’t DO things the way we did. Nevertheless, I need to find a way to not envision the worst when it comes to my kids.

Miscellaneous revelations:

You can’t please everyone. Not everyone has the same taste in food, or appreciation for what is considered quality, or understands that healthcare facilities have rules and protocol.

Perianal strep. This is real. Never heard of it? Neither had I. And, NO – before you start thinking it, no one in my household has it. I don’t know how you get it either. Hypochondriacs better get googling.

If you park near the beach with a clear glass sunroof, you can hold French fries up to the glass and watch the seagulls lose their shit. And NO – we didn’t do this, before you animal rights people lose your shit.

Hit men don’t drive red corvettes. Obviously.

If I hold the hairdryer at just the right angle, I can look like Medusa.

*Todd says a lot of things. A friend replied to my comment [“that’s what Todd said”] by asking if that’s like saying “that’s what she said.” I like it. Maybe I’ll create a subseries called That’s What Todd Said.

Of Blogging, and First Dates

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I wasn’t going to write today. I don’t typically write every day. I had a few thoughts rolling around my brain of what I wanted to write about next; they’re an eclectic and somewhat schizophrenic collection of ideas that have little to do with one another.

Todd and I worked on one of them together, several arctic nights ago. It began by the fire and ended in bed. We slid our bodies between silken sheets and soft blankets, he picked up his toy and I picked up mine and….

He continued his Angry Birds game and I pulled up the Notes icon on my own mobile device.

I took down notes on my phone about one of my creative thoughts (coming soon), because if I got up again the animals of the house would have expectations.

So yesterday I posted about blogging vs. reality and I didn’t expect the reactions I received. Hell – I didn’t expect any at all. The most I ever see is a “like” here and there; otherwise the readers are really just ghosts that come and go, silently.

So. Now I’m wondering if this will affect my output and content. To be relevant, and not just a “whatever” poster. I guess. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe I just say thank you and keep moving forward.

I really want Todd to guest post. He seems reluctant. And while he shares my ridiculous and often bizarre sense of humor, he has a preference for privacy that rivals my salacious Gemini nature of the shock factor. He is amused by my naughty jokes amongst friends, my improper remarks about our sex life to him in intentional earshot of others; however, to write about what really goes on behind our bedroom door, or when the kids are away and the cat is sleeping at the foot of the bed … is that-which-shall-remain-sacred.

I once made a remark to a gay friend that had everything to do with my mom’s shop vac – I said, Todd’s is much bigger. It truly wasn’t spoken out of turn, but when I saw his reaction, I winked. Todd, however, laughed it off and really – who in their right mind would be angry with that implication? Besides, on the heels of yesterday’s post and in the interest of honesty, Todd really does have a big… shop vac.

Anyway. As we careen toward another shiny object… on a different arctic night (we’ve had several here in our region of the world)… Todd remembered! At least we think he remembered, and since I’ve rendered what facts he presented to support this memory as highly likely… I think he uncovered the mystery of When Our First Date was.

A number of times I had admitted to not remembering our first date, and Todd was equally perplexed though perhaps it was irrelevant anyway because, today. I said before that while I don’t remember our first date, I do remember spending New Year’s Eve together.

Well, the mystery has been solved. I think. Through a series of what should have been the most obvious deductions… Wait! Back up.

Todd and I met in the fall of 1984. But, as my mom taught me that girls don’t call boys (or wear black, whatever the hell that meant in the 80s) and I was shy anyway and would never have flat out told a boy I was interested (which really deserves a separate post), and therefore he had no idea that I was because he’s also oblivious – and yes, that’s in the present tense because he IS and shamelessly admits to it – we never went out.

There was an awful lot of “let’s insert myself near this person so they can’t miss me” behavior, but it wasn’t until the fall of 1985 that we danced around each other again. And it wasn’t until another young man named Tom told Todd he’d better ask me out before someone else did, though I have no idea what insight he could possibly have had since I never spoke two words to him. Sometime thereafter, the timeline of which remains a mystery, Todd did ask me out.

However, the following deductions have led to the conclusion that the actual real First Date was, in fact New Year’s Eve. (Which would also explain why we can’t remember another first date – because there wasn’t one.)

#1 – Todd’s birthday is in mid-December, and we didn’t spend that day together, nor was it acknowledged.

#2 – Wrestling was ongoing, so there were meets and tournaments going on on Saturdays, which meant we likely wouldn’t have gone out then either. Except for maybe a rendezvous or two in our cars, though I can assure you I was Not That Kind of Girl. Yet.

#3 – We both had jobs. He worked for KFC after school and weekends, and I worked in my family’s restaurant which was over 45 minutes away.

#4 – We didn’t exchange gifts or acknowledge Christmas.

Therefore, my Murdoch man determined that New Year’s Eve had to be the night. Not that night. Just the first date night.

I’m so excited by this revelation, if only because I’m sick of forgetting and/or not remembering shit. It’s embarrassing. And annoying.

And to think these memories were triggered by someone else’s first date. Yes, there was a first date around here recently. And that’s all I’m going to say about that, because, privacy.

New Year’s Eve 1985/86 was spent on the floor in my bedroom, two floors away from my parents who I am still shocked allowed this first boy into my bedroom on our first date and trusted us. I had a stereo system on which we played my collection of Prince vinyl and talked for hours about lord knows what. I’m certain that his lips found mine somewhere during that long conversation. I’m certain that I melted in the glow of this intensity I’d only written about in journals before.

I had no idea where that night would end. Living in the moment and flying by the seat of my pants is an earmark of Gemini existence. I’m sure I’m a young soul, still learning the lessons old souls like Todd have known for centuries. It still thrills me to kiss him and smell the very same smell of his 17-year-old skin. It stirs something in me I’m afraid I’d need another blog to specialize in. Nevertheless, I remain blown away that that night was over 30 years, and several relationships and a marriage ago, and that we ended up here anyway in spite of it all.

Blogging vs. Reality

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Photo copyright Taraka & The Tara Chronicles, 2018.

There is something that has been bothering me for a while. Like anything you read on social media, unless you truly know someone – know them personally – you can’t believe everything you read.

As bloggers we present ourselves the way we want to be seen – all our faults hanging out on the washline, or all our triumphs, adventures, and happy lives waving like a flag on a blustery day. The relative anonymity of the Internet allows us the freedom to be who we want to be. Our words influence your perception of who we are.

When I started a blog nearly 8 years ago, it was intended to be a creative expression of my life as it really was – and shared on my Facebook page with friends and family. I was honest. No names were changed at the time, though there were some that were left out for privacy. My readers were all people I knew personally.

Until there was one. I don’t know how she found me, I have to assume through a mutual friend, and our mutual friend reached out to me to tell me that her friend enjoyed my blog and that it inspired her. That bowled me over. I had no idea that anyone really cared that much about what I wrote, since I really was writing for me – albeit on a platform that could be readily viewed by others.

And then my life turned upside down and sideways. I wrote about it and suddenly, before long, there were friends pm-ing me to commiserate, and/or admit to feeling the same way about a marriage gone terribly wrong. It was an enlightening time, and also a time of personal growth for me – that I chose to share – and bare – for all the world to see, were they reading.

I started it for accountability. Because I needed desperately not to fall back into that trap of least resistance, where my stagnant and abusive life would continue indefinitely out of fear of the unknown. But then it became larger than me, and I realized that my words were reaching others who needed their own motivation to make their lives better too.

And I continued forward. I write what inspires me, I write my mind – so that I can free my brain weasels and not go comfortably numb, or just batshit crazy. I don’t think about what you want to hear, yet it is still a whisper in the back of my mind that it has to be somewhat interesting or I become just another self-serving jerk writing garage nobody cares about.

To that end, I started reading a blogger several years ago because he was funny and his content was relatable and incited some level of compassion for him because of his circumstances. He had published a book. I was envious – that 1) he had done it and 2) I had no idea WHAT I could write at such length that anyone would actually want to read it. But beyond that, his posts began to read more and more self-centered – more me, me, me and less how can I help/affect others? That’s how I saw it, and I stopped following.

I am careful who I follow – mostly because, Time. I don’t have the time to read every blog out there that interests me, and I think many of us feel the same way. And so – before I get too far ahead of myself – I just want to thank those of you who do follow and read me. I appreciate you more than you know. You keep me inspired to keep writing. Whatever it is.

I follow, literally, a handful of bloggers out there, all very different in tone than my own. That’s IT. I found Jenny Lawson by happy accident some years ago, and if you know her, there’s no need to explain why she’s still on my list. I NEED her humor. She is like a relative you look forward to seeing every holiday – a sentiment I’m sure is shared with the thousands of others who follow her. On her site I found another intriguing blog – and haven’t looked back.

It’s rated M for mature audiences for every reason why and I never miss a post. While she writes under an alias to protect her identity and those around her, due to the content, there’s an undercurrent of honesty and real-ness to her posts that is poignant and riveting. Like the book you can’t put down. She’s also very open to comments about her experiences and intelligent, successful in her own right. I’ve recently realized I’ve been following for 4 years! I talk to her like a friend, though I am keenly aware that she is only the person writing the blog and I don’t truly know her.

Through her blog I found two others – one that is truly unique and worthy of its own television series and I wish to God I could help him get this off the ground myself. And I like him. He’s like an old friend in a faraway place, we share occasional comments to each other’s posts and appreciation for one another – though we’ve never met.

The other, equally as entertaining but a bit more journalistic, is another blogger who also goes by his real name and has published books that I have on my ever-growing list of reads. He is a community servant nowadays so we see less blog posting and more – because we are Facebook friends – daily life stuff. I especially love his story about connecting with his wife – another epic second chance love story that rivals my own and it’s heartening to know there are others like us in the world who are that blessed. His face makes me smile. Especially when hers is next to his.

I also started following a “girl” via Ann’s blog (mentioned above) and once I started reading I couldn’t stop. She self-described as a woman in an abusive relationship from which she was trying to extricate herself. Her feelings and experiences were palpable to me, and I commented often with my thoughts of what she should do. Some of her content disturbed me. I won’t say I’m clairvoyant by any means, but rather that experience has taught me well and I can read a situation. She seemed to know what to do about it, but it seemed also to be taking longer than I would’ve allowed. And then – just as suddenly – she disappeared. She blogged all this shit about her abusive ex who threatened her very life, and then she ….disappeared. I allowed myself to get sucked into this stranger’s “life” and now have no way to know if she’s okay, or dead. Had to let that one go.

And, so it goes – I learned a valuable lesson in getting caught up in strangers’ lives. Who’s to say she was who she said she was? Or that any of her story was real? Could this be true of Ann, too? Or the other women I loosely follow? Or those two men I mentioned above? What if they aren’t who they say they are, but just truly creative and fictional writers? **

So, in a way, this might be considered a public service announcement about the world wide web and the social media contained within: nothing is as it seems. Don’t believe everything you read. Double check your facts, especially in cases of news reports. And take those bloggers with a grain of salt.

Even me – though I hereby solemnly do declare that my real name IS Tara and everything I write herein is as true as I can accurately write it based on my failing 48-year-old brain. I like to write with a younger voice, because I feel like a kid sometimes, but I am 48. Some names are still changed for privacy.

I write what moves me, what motivates me, what makes me laugh, love, and cry… and I do write to those I think are reading me.

What do you want to see more of, here?

Addendum: I do want to clarify that I’m not suggesting that the bloggers I follow aren’t authentic. They ARE. I am simply pointing out that “anyone” can start a blog and write what appear to be real stories about their lives which may, or may not, be true. I even called myself out – just to make the point that – if you don’t know me, how can you be sure I am who I say I am? Or that Todd exists? Just food for thought, that’s all. Don’t avoid the blog world – there’s so much good stuff out there. You’ll know when you’ve found a bard, or when you’ve hit gold.

 

Words of Wisdom This Holiday Season

When your phone rings at 8 a.m. on Christmas Eve, don’t answer it.

When your cell phone rings 10 minutes later and you can see it’s your mom calling from her restaurant, answer it anyway, because you can run but you can’t hide.

Some dogs don’t like jingle bell elf slippers. (Seriously, as of this writing, she’s still hiding in her bed.)

Jingle bell elf slippers, all four pairs going at once, recreate the magic of Santa’s sleigh landing on your lawn. Okay, not really, but it does wonders for tinnitus.

When your cell phone service pisses you off for the last time, switch providers and get new phones for everyone! Still wish I had video footage of Veruca’s face when she opened up that iPhone 8. First hug she gave Todd in 5 years.

Best way to keep the cat off the dining room table? Put up a Christmas tree.

Make sure there’s a tree skirt for him to lie on under the twinkling lights, you know, because that’s the real reason it’s there. And for the love of St. Nicholas, don’t you dare put presents over the cat’s new sleeping quarters.

If you buy a cut tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, fully expect all the branches to be petrified by Christmas day. Ornaments found on the floor at this point are no one’s fault but your own.

When returning to alcohol to celebrate the season, do remember to drink lots of water and pace yourself.

Beware of bourbon-loving party guests who bring gifts of bourbon. One full bottle of Knob Creek kicked in less than 4 hours. (FYI: Knob Creek Smoked Maple smells like French toast. Too sweet for me.)

There’s no such thing as too much food at your holiday gathering. And, adding lasagna to the brunch buffet will ensure you’ll have sustenance later to offset the alcohol.

Be grateful for free rental cars, even if they resemble an army tank. There’s nothing more reassuring to drive in foul weather, even if your feet don’t touch the floor.

When your prescription glasses disappear for three hours at the restaurant while you’re working, don’t send everyone else into panic mode. Remember the St. Anthony’s prayer. Even when you can’t.

The most important thing to have ready at a holiday gathering when time is short: clean toilets and some hors d’oeuvres. Nobody will notice anything else.

Also, turn the light and fan on in your kids’ filthy bathroom and shut the door, to scare off potential users from entering. (P.S. this only works when guests are sober.) Caution tape works well too.

While we’re on the subject, teach your 12-year-old how to use a plunger properly, so that she doesn’t turn her toilet into a mountain of soiled toilet paper.

Don’t try to drag a 70lb box of punching bag from your front steps to the garage by yourself. Remember last year’s weight-bench-in-four-parts debacle.

Set up auto-pay on bills, at least for the duration of the holiday season.

Movie-goers? Buy your tickets ahead of time for the epic movie release of the season. Even if you’re attending the 9 a.m. showing on a church day.

Gifts do not have to be wrapped until Christmas Eve. Unless of course, you don’t enjoy stress and nosy children.

If you suspect your child is getting sick, don’t wait until Saturday before Christmas, thirty minutes before closing, to call your pediatrician. Also, if you are told by the triage nurse to go to urgent care the night before and you choose not to, do not be upset when there are no appointments left on Saturday morning.

When your kid’s sleepover gets cancelled through no fault of her own, take advantage of mother-daughter time by slathering on charcoal face masks and sending selfies to grandma.

Xanax works wonders on nervous energy and anxiety, I’ve heard.

Repeat after me: I WILL NOT get it all done before Christmas, and no animals will be harmed and no one will die because of it.

 

 

 

3:38 a.m.

Bladder calling! My legs are trapped in a web of sheets and blankets, items deemed unnecessary for a sleeping Todd that get pushed to the bed’s center and somehow always end up twisted around me like a boa constrictor. To make matters worse, the cat is sleeping at my feet, further restricting movement. A handful of silent profanity later and I’m back in bed, trying to rearrange the bedding without waking Todd.

My feet are hot. I still have ¾ of the bedding on my side so I can’t get my legs out without considerable yanking and pulling the covers away from my body. Finally, I manage to get one leg cleanly out. Oliver decides to leave now, pulling the bedroom door open with his paw, and disappears down the hall. I rearrange my pillows, lay my head down and stare at the red numbers on my alarm clock. 3:52.

And now I’m awake. I take a deep breath and close my eyes, willing myself not to start thinking. Please don’t think. Nothing that can’t wait till morning.

4:03. I’m uncomfortable. The bad elbow is aching, so I roll over to my left side, except that this means my legs are back under the quicksand. Another deep breath. I can do this.

A few minutes later 16 pounds lands behind me on the bed. Oh good, Oliver is back. Except that he is now kneading the covers. Lie the fuck down! I want to hiss at him, but by this time I’m sure Todd must be awake and if we start talking to each other that’ll be it. Finally he is sufficiently satisfied with his work, and lies down right up against my legs, effectively immobilizing them. RIGHT back where I started. Dammit.

He weighs sixteen pounds. That’s more than the turkeys I bought for Thanksgiving. He weighs more than a Thanksgiving turkey. I really wonder if he should be on some sort of diet. The vet seemed unconcerned at his last appointment. He’s so sweet. He’s been exceptionally close to me of late. Probably because it’s cold out now. Selfish little bastard.

But I love him more than he’ll ever love me, and I don’t quite care. I’ll keep loving him, and cleaning his box, and thanklessly feeding him at the crack of dawn. And pray he lives forever. Because I just can’t say goodbye to another animal. Oh lord, why am I thinking about the cat’s mortality at 4 o’clock in the morning?

V and I saw a cat at Petco that looked just like him. Wouldn’t it be cool to have two identical cats? No. No, I will not adopt another cat.

I think maybe I should write something about Thanksgiving and our trip to Costco. Nah, maybe not. What’s new about an angry old lady pushing her monster-sized shopping cart against the flow of traffic, giving the death stare to everyone in her path? Nothing terribly interesting happened on Thanksgiving either, other than me accidentally dumping roughly a quarter cup of garlic powder on turkey #2. You know Todd actually asked me if I at least washed some of it off? No, I did NOT. What’s wrong with a little extra garlic?

I really, really need to go back to sleep. In two hours I’ll be up for work. We have no appointments scheduled, but that will change at 8:01. All the stockings for our Secret Santa are up in the break room. What the heck am I going to put in mine? Still being the new kid, I was hoping to at least get someone I knew a little bit better than I did six months ago. Well, that kinda worked out, in both a strange and daunting twist of fate. I’m both glad I got her, and a little intimidated too.

I have reports to work on today. I wonder how many things I can check off my list this morning?

I can’t believe Christmas is coming. What am I going to get for Opac this year? I’ve already got V’s handwritten list. She’s thinking ahead for once. I hardly spent any time with her on Thanksgiving. Ah well, she hardly seemed to notice since my mom was there. I love how the kids love my mom. It reminds me of  Nana, all the time I spent with her.

When are we going to get our tree? I’m not ready to put up a tree yet. Todd’s birthday is coming up. I’ve got to start planning that. Haven’t planned an open house. Probably not going to do it this year. People are always too busy. Not feeling it this year.

Damn, my elbow hurts. I’ve got to go see the chiropractor on Monday. He told me to take ibuprofen at bedtime and again in the morning, but I think I forgot last night. He also told me to ice it. I hope he doesn’t ask if I did.

Is this what aging really means? That everything hurts all the time? Bed is supposed to be a sanctuary, but at some point the body can’t take another minute of lying down. WTF is that? And my knee still hurts. Of course it does. I have mild degenerative joint disease in it. If this is what mild feels like, please just take me out behind the barn when I reach level 3. I don’t know how people with chronic pain do it.

Everyone I’ve seen in my doctor’s office just keeps prescribing me drugs. I don’t DO drugs. I don’t want to take pain pills to cover it up, I want it GONE. At least my chiro and I are on the same page. He’s a healer, not a cover-upper.

Maybe I should start doing yoga. I need to get that mat I bought 8 months ago out of the corner of my bedroom and blow the dust off of it. And speaking of dust, I need to clean the blades of the ceiling fan.

Why am I doing this at 4:30 in the morning? Why can’t I just go to sleep?

 

 

Skipping Out, While Silverfox Takes Chicago

I took my medication on an empty stomach earlier this week and slept for two hours. Some days it’s a gamble, between high anxiety and being comatose. Really, all I probably need to do is stop drinking coffee. The gamble for the rest of the week was to skip the pills and challenge anxiety to make a comeback. Definitely the better option, for productivity.

The best time to be out in public? First thing in the morning. This is not typically my MO, since I usually spend half a day on the internet before finally getting motivated to jump on the treadmill, do laundry, make the bed, take a shower, do anything. And by then it’s damn near witching hour, when V’s bus is coming and suddenly I realize I’ve done nothing all day. Cue frantic clean up and an ornery mood, because my peace is about to be broken by all the drama of the middle school female species.

I refuse to make excuses now because I actually have a job when I’m not at home. V forgot her gym sneakers the other day and I had to take a shower and get dressed earlier than I’d planned, just to walk into the front office, because I haven’t yet fully embraced the culture of pajamas and slippers. Which, for what’s it’s worth, is so NOT going to happen if it aint happened yet.

The ladies in the front office know me on sight, which I wondered aloud whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. At least I’m never there to bail her out of the slammer.

I utilized this premature entry into the outside world to drop off dry cleaning and pick up milk and detergent at the store. The grocery store is sublime at 8 a.m. No crowds, easy parking. Oh – and fresh donuts. However, the fucking post office doesn’t open until 9 and I got there at 8:45 and had to stand in the vestibule clutching two huge bags for 18 minutes, making small talk with two other women who also didn’t know it wasn’t open yet. Sublime only goes as far as enough coffee and small talk isn’t in my repertoire before 9 on my day off. And then the postal guy didn’t unlock the door until 9:03. Bastard. He knew we were out there and, giddy with power, took his time getting to the door.

This morning, I dropped the dog off at the groomer and stopped at Walmart. While Walmart and sublime do not belong in the same sentence together, I must admit it was quite pleasant. There was no cart rage, and holy shit! No lines. I found 3 of the four items I went in for, but not before I’d sauntered casually through the store like I was on the beach at sunrise.

It’s the end of September and the weather has rivaled that of August, and frankly – this is bullshit. Warm is nice; oppressive with a nuclear mosquito population is a new form of hell. Myself being mosquito bait, the only picnic is the one featuring me as the main course. WTF is up with this venom? I’m still scratching the bites I got over a week ago.

Seriously, the plants don’t even know what to do. Some are still green, and some have just given up. I think the trees have finally just unanimously said fuck it, because they’re dropping leaves like rain today. And – just in case the advent of Fall is ever a question – the stink bugs have suddenly made a very Hitchcockian appearance around the windows and doors of the house.

I hear the weather is cooling down in Chicago, which bodes well for us, I think. Although the weather this morning was cool, breezy, and pleasant. I informed Todd last night that I’m working on indoor projects until conditions improve outside – as if he even cares what I do and don’t do around the house when he’s away. As long as he has clean underwear and gas in the car, he’s a happy boy.

Speaking of Chicago, my dad is there on business and I have barely heard from him, yet he sends pictures that call into question what he’s really doing. He sent me a pic of himself on some stage seated between the Blues Brothers, captioned, “just auditioned.” The next day he sent me a pic of the Iron Throne in an AT&T store on the Magnificent Mile. He took a wrong turn one afternoon and ended up in a LGBTQ neighborhood where he was propositioned twice (hey – they don’t call him Silverfox for nothing). Two days later he’s got a Cubs World Championship ring on the tip of his finger – apparently he met some woman who works for the organization. She was probably trying to pick up Silverfox, but sorry folks – he’s a happily married – and straight – man.

Then, he was tailgating on the lake on Tuesday. If I was a millionaire, I’d fly out there and hang with him for a few days. Then my next blog post I’d call, The Silverfox Chronicles, and people would eat that shit up. Because my dad is funny.

Today is Nephtoo’s birthday and I still haven’t completed his first care package. I’m going with themed packages, and pissed myself off this morning when I realized I should have sent one already, themed, the birthday box. I’ve been doing pretty well at avoiding any Mom-fails, so I guess I was ripe for an Aunt-fail. (I so can hear SOL chastising me at this very moment.) (SOL=Sister Out Law.) (And, if you have to ask, you’re obviously not in the inner circle –which I realize sounds contradictory given the “out law” reference, but shut up already – and therefore are on a need-to-know basis.)

Anyhoo, if I say any more about the care package, it’s likely to ruin the surprise since he occasionally reads this garbage. So with that – I will close with this, from my latest Netflix discovery:

Their devotion showed me there were no versions of love, there was only… Love. That it had no equal and that it was worth searching for, even if that search took a lifetime. ~ Call the Midwife

**Disclaimer: SOL is not an outlaw. She is a law-abiding citizen with terrific offspring and killer bathroom design skills.

Random Thoughts For September

We went shopping at Lowe’s last weekend which was shocking because it was Todd’s idea. Todd had boycotted the store after a debacle there about a year ago. However, Lowe-gate couldn’t hold a candle to an entirely different debacle involving kitchen rugs from Big Lots. Todd’s busy brain took a short detour to kitchen rug replacement on a beautiful Sunday afternoon when we could otherwise have been frolicking in the sunflower fields, but…there we were.

All the Halloween inflatables are set up, so I entertained myself by walking through an inflatable house a few times while Todd looked at snowblowers. There were a couple of little kids looking at me, which made me giggle, and I briefly considered calling boooooo from inside, which took me back to that time at Crystal Cave when my then-stepmom went inside this giant teepee with me and made the Indian war cry before stepping back outside, where she totally deadpan-told these wide-eyed kids that there were real Indians inside.

I have to admit, I’d never considered putting inflatables in my front yard, but the inflatable giant ghost is kinda cool. That is, until I saw the dragon. Dragons are all the rage now, ya’ll. Big Lots had a dragon skeleton that had to be nearly life-sized but was still in the box for $139. If I’d have had the money to blow…. Instead, I’ve got the skeleton cat for $22 on my wish list. I’m hoping it will scare away the stray cats who keep shitting in my gardens.

At least they’re not shitting on my front steps like they did to my neighbor across the street. Although Todd told me that one of them shit on the front tire inside the well on the pickup truck. On the wheel well? How does that happen? That’s gotta require some skill.

Our neighbor hates these strays with a passion normally reserved for ex-wives, and has set up traps around the yards including ours to catch and, he insists, relocate them. He’s gotten so sophisticated he has cameras connected to them that send to his cell so he’ll know instantly what he’s got (in case it’s a family of raccoons – which does happen round here more than you think). It’s been a month and he hasn’t caught one damn cat. I told him they’re smarter than he is which, thankfully, he laughed off, since he is a cop and could potentially arrest me for disrespecting an officer.

Needless to say we didn’t find any rugs, but did find new curtains for the sliders. And I wandered off toward something shiny in the lighting department and suddenly we were buying new lamps for the living room. And then a really happy guy in an electric wheelchair stopped next to us to remind Todd what a beautiful wife he had while I blushed eight shades of red as he sat smiling at us both. Later, I admired the mums outside and some other fall planters. I may go back and buy them but, like anything green that requires water for survival, their fate in my hands is pretty much already predetermined.

OMG, I found a giant metal chicken! I nearly ran off the road looking at it to be sure I wasn’t hallucinating, but it was real and I need this chicken. The Bloggess acquired one several years ago, which was the subject of one of the most hilarious posts I’ve ever read, and I never thought I’d ever want one until I saw it in person. Now I’m on a mission to get it, but I’m making Todd go with me because it’s really big and I might not be able to get it into my car by myself. He said I could buy it. You are all my witnesses. Though he wants to know how much it’s going to cost. Silly man. What could be better than pulling into your driveway and being greeted by this source of enormous joy – the inspiration for knock knock, motherfucker?

I’m addicted to Amazon and Zullily. I think Amazon requires no explanation. Zullily is a dangerous website that sends you daily deals by email, and I’ve already acquired a pair of shoes, a bikini top, and some flip flops. Don’t tell Todd. He already knows about ThredUp and StitchFix.

V asks me every other day to order take-out. I have no idea where she got the impression that this was a thing, but I’m charged with reminding that it aint happening. If it’s not pizza, it’s McDonald’s, or it’s Chinese food – which, by the way, isn’t close. We can order seven – count them, seven – different pizzas just in our own small town, but can’t get a decent piece of sushi without driving a half hour. Sigh. Life in the country.

“We love to eat,” one of the first things I heard on my shadowing day six months ago, and my coworkers have not disappointed. One of them regularly brings in boxes of Tastykakes, someone else deposited exquisite M&M’s ice cream cookie treats in the freezer, and there’s always someone’s birthday to celebrate with loads of potluck items for the pickin. We have parents drop off treats too – like a box of Starbucks coffee and pumpkin cream cheese coffee cakes, and a dad dropped off a giant bag of hot pretzels when he picked up a prescription. The struggle between will power and total abandon is real.

A high school friend posted a link to a 5k happening in less than a month not far from me, and I have seriously considered training for it, just in case my knee holds out. I still have time to register. Like I said, my brain says yes yes, but my knee says, no no!

Meanwhile, back in the hot tub, where we work tediously to perfect the chemicals of a chlorine-free system. Well guess what? Tara wants chlorine. Tara needs chlorine. Certain things in life just require chlorine. I do not want to go about smelling like a musty cellar, and there’s something about this system that’s leaving that impression all over me. I want to smell like chlorine. Trust me, I’ll sleep better at night.

And while we’re on the subject of hot tubbing… don’t ever, EVER try to reenact Sylvester’s Looney Toons’ geyser ride. You’ve been warned, people.

Todd had the audacity to ask me why there was a towel in the spider sanctuary. The spider sanctuary is actually our oversized bathtub in the master bath, which rarely gets used and I guess he was hinting that it’s a bit dusty/cobwebby in there.

I haven’t mentioned to him recently the plague of Lifesavers wrappers I keep finding – in the car, in the driveway, on the floor, on the bedside table, on the bathroom counter… shall I go on? This, while he tells me how dirty my car is, AS IF I have no idea how dirty it is. Really.

To use a recently overheard weirdest expression ever uddered, some days I feel angrier than a mad cow on a bad Monday. That might be an Amish expression, I’m not sure. But, I’ve left Facebook again for self-preservation. It’s faster, and less time consuming, to just remove myself, rather than “hide” every person (on both sides of the political divide, FYI) whose posts are currently bothering me. Recent revelations have taken me to a place inside that is wholly better for me and everyone around me. Let’s hope it lasts.

Miscellaneous tidbits:

There are 206 bones in the adult human body. Opac will say he has 207, because of a broken collar bone, though I believe this to be inaccurate as the break has fused back together.

To stop bleeding on the lip from a razor cut: besides applying pressure, apply ice to constrict blood vessels and slow bleeding. Also, apply chapstick or vaseline. Other pieces of advice include mouthwash (which has gotta burn like hell), or applying deodorant, in which the aluminum chloride can also constrict blood vessels. Add eye drops to that list of blood vessel contricting agents.

The Holiday Living 10.5 ft x 6.6 ft haunted house is $250. Conversely, the 9ft x 11ft dragon is $179. No word yet on the price of the giant metal chicken. I’ll get back to you. The price of my joy = priceless.

The aforementioned Looney Toons episode can be seen here : Sylvester, Tweety and the Geyser.

Current book I’m reading – is still Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins. I took a break from it to read 10 Days in a Madhouse by Nelly Bly, a fast and fascinating read (though surprisingly a lot less thrilling than Asylum) about the real conditions of institutions in the early 20th century, brought to life by the journalist who posed as a patient to get the real skinny on the inside. It was considered a game-changer for mental institutions, yet we all know that the horrors continued for decades and across the country.

Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough

People have asked me why I’m not writing much… this is [one reason] why. Life is busier than I expected it would be these last three months. And now that school has let out – and Veruca’s softball season has ended – summer workouts for football have begun.

The title of this post is kinda random, since I was listening to the radio when I picked Opac up from summer workouts and this was on. I love this song, I love to belt it out and had it turned up until he got into the car. I watched him walking out from the building, looking like somebody had dragged him across the field on his head. He got into the car and reached over to turn down the volume saying “I gotta turn this shit down, it’s not my victory song” as he did so.

And so it goes. The kids are full of it these days – wit and wisdom. Two days ago he went to practice early so he could watch and “help” with the freshmen workouts, because “freshman make a lot of mistakes (they can’t help it).”

Meanwhile back in Veruca-land, where the world has to be just so or hellfire will burn your house down, a conversation about Opac being a junior now and my melancholy at this revelation that he’ll be graduating in two years prompted V to comfort me with a whispered, “don’t worry, he’s not going to be able to support himself, so he’ll come back home.” Who ARE these children??

Unfortunately, the frequency with which they make me laugh since school let out 36 hours ago is not surpassing the frequency with which the urge to kill is rising. V is testing every limit I have established for my nerves and sanity. She’s pissed that she can’t leave for vacation with her dad until Friday; she’s pissed that Opac is threatening not to go on said vacation; she’s pissed that I won’t buy tater tots; she’s pissed I won’t get her another manicure before her vacation; she’s pissed that Opac won’t play Call of Duty with her; she’s pissed that she can’t go to work with me. Seriously.

Today was the first day of summer vacation. I took V for a repeat blood test she needed (and, for the first time ever, she went back without me), picked up my new glasses again (long story, that one), spent $17 on lunch at Wawa, and then drove O to Dick’s Sporting Goods for some crazy-ass device you wear on your face to basically add more stress to your heart and lungs so you can build endurance. I talked him out of it, by the way. Seriously.

And then we stopped at Macy’s because I still have credit and a small shred of dignity and thought I’d see if there were any decent swimsuits to be had. As usual, I was wrong. The selection was abysmal, because hello! June. And everything this year has this new trend called “cutouts,” which are not really for real women but for meth addicts and size 0 bulimic models. We literally circled the store and the department in less than 10 minutes and were back in the car.

Wait. Back up. Opac was in the car, with V screaming at him that he promised she would get the front seat and she’s freaking out because “my stuff” is in the front seat. And guess what – he threw her “stuff” over his shoulder into the backseat, which only incensed her more. He threw her stuff! Good lord, what is the world coming to?

This, on the first day of summer vacation.

And of course the pets are following suit. Sabra has finally been spayed, and she’s doing great, except for the running and jumping she’s not supposed to be doing. She’s managed to slip under the fence into the neighbor’s yard, and yesterday she chased the  squirrel who buried his nuts in my potted plants last fall, from one tree to another.

Oliver has been more vocal than ever, running into the kitchen during my 3 a.m. blood sugar checks for Veruca, meowing at me like he hasn’t eaten in 39 days. This morning, at least, he waited until I woke up for the day… I sat up and saw he had stuffed his Biggie Smalls body into an empty Eminem shoebox I’d left near the foot of the bed. I need a picture of this.

So meanwhile, we’re all on pins and needles while Opac decides whether he’s going on vaca with his dad. I feel compelled to protect his feelings and his privacy, so I can’t explain his reasoning behind it all. But I am surprisingly surprised that some things (or people) just never change. Seriously.