Collide

2011. I often heard this song on my early morning runs through the streets of my old town. In 2010 I first discovered my love for running, when life was often out of control and stress was high and I needed an outlet. I wasn’t “allowed,” really, to go anywhere without the kids in tow in those days. I was the 24/7 nurse to my type 1 daughter. I was up 3, 4, sometimes 5 times a night checking her blood sugars at the boss’s command.

Running became my way to escape, if only for the time it took to run 3 miles out and back. It was exhilarating, it was liberating, it was mine. I ran through all sorts of music. I ran through Linkin Park – the angry, screaming lyrics driving me forward with all the power in my legs, my anthem to myself to reclaim the life I deserved. Life was complicated then. It was stressful. And there was Todd, in the middle of it, my anchor in the storm my ex had promised to deliver so many times during our marriage. His way, I suppose, of intimidating me to never leave.

2018. I was driving back to the bowling alley after dropping Veruca off at her dad’s. Collide had begun to play on the radio, and it took me back to those early days of fear and anxiety and the only certainty I had was that I was going to be free.

I reflected on how much has changed. How we didn’t see all that lay ahead, all the changes, both good and bad, all the illnesses, the losses.

Over seven years ago, I was running down the alley behind Main Street and Collide began to play on my iPod. I felt a relief and a profound love wash over me and I smiled out loud. I had found Todd again and he had found me, and the butterflies in my stomach ached to get to that place of peace. We weren’t able to see each other every day.

The divorce was [mostly] peaceful. It was the custody that turned ugly. I fled the house with the kids, at the urging of several friends and family who said it was safer to get out.

Over the last seven years, I lived with my dad and stepmom, I worked at the restaurant on weekends to earn money, I stopped eating and was down to an astounding 113 pounds. I hocked a pile of gold jewelry for the $1000 I needed for a deposit on a house in the kids’ school district, in order to maintain temporary custody. Every text and email exchange with ex was nasty and accusatory and threatening. I got an upper respiratory infection that lasted weeks. I started back on anti-anxiety meds. Todd proposed to me.

We married in a civil ceremony in the district courthouse yards away from the home that once felt like a prison. And, after thousands of dollars, I won custody of the children and five days later Todd and I threw a real wedding with our loved ones.

We moved to Maryland into Todd’s home and established new roots and friends. We have wonderful neighbors who are also cherished friends. We’ve been through a handful of emergency room visits, several family members in hospital, my mom’s first major surgery, my first major surgery, four new cars, my first auto accident.

My once 8-year-old and 13-year-old are now halfway through their last years of middle and high school respectively. Opac finally has his driver’s license, and is looking forward to high school graduation and college next fall.

We attended a couple of galas where I could wear a fabulous dress and pretend to be rich for an evening, and two weddings watching long-time couples tie the knot and their happily ever after.

Todd left the college where he spent 18 years, to start a new journey where he can do things and leave a lasting legacy as a dean. Seven years ago, we certainly didn’t see that coming. I finally extricated myself from restauranting, and landed a job at CHOP – somewhere I’ve wanted to work since we moved down here. I am earning more money and I have my weekends free to spend with my husband and friends and family. I love the people I work with.

We’ve made many new friends and strengthened the ones we had. We are building on those friendships because they are valuable to us, even though we all have limited time and occasional scheduling conflicts. Two of my closest girlfriends, who know who they are, I have been talking about planning a girls weekend in the near future.

In these last seven years, I’ve lost an uncle and my maternal grandfather, and both of my stepmother’s parents. We lost someone to a horrific suicide. We’ve lost two friends/family to cancer, and another four to pancreatic cancer. One is still holding on after battling brain cancer, though he will never be the same. A family member was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer disease, and so we begin to cope with this journey. We have family members who choose to be estranged, through no cause of ours.

As Green Day’s song goes, seven years have gone so fast. It sounds like a whole lot of loss and sadness, and for what it’s worth, this post was actually inspired by my mind’s ramblings after hearing Collide two weeks ago. Collide always made me smile, and it still does, and I know I’m being redundant by saying it made me think about all that has transpired since that morning in the alley.

I have a much better life today. I am happy. I am complete. Todd feels the same way, I think. He would say so, and I know him, so I am free to speak for him. The unfortunate things that come to pass are a part of living, as life goes on whether we like it or not, with whom we share it with or not. But SO MUCH has changed.

It gives me pause, to think back on everything and thank God I got here with few scars, a pile of meds to keep me calm, and lessons that caused me to grow. I have Todd and he has me, for as long as God has planned, and I thank Him every day for this blessing.

 

Even the best fall down sometimes

Even the wrong words seem to rhyme

Out of the doubt that fills my mind

I somehow find you and I collide.

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Nobody Cares

I stumbled upon an article several months ago, Things About You That No One Actually Gives a Shit About, Ranked. For fun, I spent 45 minutes that I can never get back on this…

Here are my 15 things that no one on social media cares about:

My dream about Veruca face-planting off a third-story balcony and the race to find a cure for her newly-acquired bacterial virus. Horrifying. Woke up in a cold sweat.

My unsolicited dating preference: I’m married. To a man. I’ve always dated men. Which is not to say I never had an appreciation for women. I just never dated one.

Marriage and parenting advice including, but not limited to, the wife who went camping with her husband and stabbed him with a squirrel meme. My unsolicited advice: marry your best friend – the one who makes you laugh and loves all of your flaws, your cat, and also squirrels. Let your children sleep in your bed until they no longer want to. Hold them every time they ask you to. Trust me.

Things I hate that everyone else hates too: Driving on 95, tailgaters and aggressive drivers, being screamed at by a customer, grocery shopping after 4 p.m., parking at the mall in December, recovering from surgery, bratty children, and running out of wine.

(Does no one really not care about my video of the woman expending all of her energy to push a Costco shopping cart up over the embankment next to her car rather than walk it 10 feet to the cart return?)

Sports: Longtime fan of the Eagles and the Phillies (I grew up in southeastern PA, for the love of God). However, I am now a proud Ravens fan and – thanks to my son – a quiet follower of the Steelers. And, sorry, not sorry – cannot give up my allegiance to the Phillies. It just feels like betrayal.

The last time I got shitfaced drunk was over a year ago, where I “forgot” quite a few details of the evening, and gave up drinking for 4 months. Really, if you can’t remember a telephone conversation with your dad, you wake up on the floor in the bathroom, or fall on top of Barbie’s Dream Townhouse, it’s time to have a second look at your priorities. Not that I’ve personally done any of those things. However, if someone posts this on Facebook, I CARE. Because it’s funny as hell.

My opinions about things… I think everyone has the right to love who they want, I don’t agree with abortion but it’s still MY body-MY choice, the Patriots cheat, Christianity isn’t the ONLY religion, Butterscotch Krimpets don’t taste the same anymore, racism isn’t always glaring, climate change is real, Mustangs are the best muscle cars, tattoos are cool, a homemade burger made with filet tails is orgasmic, camping is not fun, Prince was a musical genius, and raccoons are adorable.

It takes me about a half hour to get to work. Although depending on the job, it has taken 50 minutes, and sometimes an hour and a half.

The weather here is hot. It’s also hot in my hometown. It’s also hot in the city where I once lived. Except when it’s cold. It’s slightly less hot in the places I’ve wanted to move to, though never quite as cold.

How does this place compare to where I’m from? Same climate, similar environment. This area is still more rural than that place is now. Cost of living, generally the same. Kids love their schools and have made lasting friendships here. My family still lives there. This is where Todd is.

Deleting people from Facebook? Yes, I’ve threatened to do it based on criteria I made crystal clear. And yes, I’ve mentioned doing it – after I’ve done it. The latter takes the drama out of it, while making a point nobody really cares about.

“People [I’ve] dated and/or didn’t date in high school and/or college.” Hmm…. dated Todd in high school (doesn’t everybody know this?). I didn’t date Prince, or Brad Pitt when he wasn’t gross. Dated a few unmentionables, a couple of assholes who know who they are, pined over one or two that got away until I realized they weren’t worth it, and a couple who were genuinely good. None need mentioning. No one cares. Not even them.

“Hypothetical decisions you would have made that are literally impossible to make.” Um, buying a brownstone in New York, quitting my job and traveling the world with personal hair and makeup artists, dating Prince in my 20s, marrying Todd when I was 18. (Ugh, shut up about TODD already.)

My haters. I don’t know who they are, and I. Don’t. Care.

I don’t threaten to delete my social media accounts. Had a handful of moments where I was fed up and posted that I was going away for a while. Now, I just ghost.
Nobody cares.

Social media is supposed to be fun. Go ahead – post pictures of your dog, your dinner, your toes in the sand, your selfies with cocktails. Post cryptic  words like “I’ve finally had enough,” or check in at a local hospital with no further explanation. Troll people whose political ideologies are polar opposites. Post memes that make your friends snort and choke on their morning coffee. Knock yourself out…. People are watching, and you’ll get your likes, and your thoughts and prayers, and your commiserating comments. But most of all – you get connection – which is really all any of us really want, right??

 

And now, in the spirit of nobody-gives-a-shit pictures (which no one cares are Copyright Tara Chronicles 2018) …. semi-current book pile, an abandoned shopping cart, textbook-perfect artificial discs, a freshly groomed poodle, and a bowlful of cherries.

 

 

 

 

 

Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

So, in case you missed it, I’m still in recovery. Todd says, YOU’VE HAD MAJOR SURGERY, at least once a day. He’s living life dangerously.

Last week we had the septic system pumped out. I got up that morning and suddenly remembered the 3-foot-tall mint patch surrounding the cover, and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that NO ONE else in the house remembered this. I texted Todd and inquired before I actually went out to look. You know what he said? No worries, they’ll crush it when they come in to pump.

REEEALLY? That’s assuming they can even FIND the cover. Which I told him. And you know what he said next? He said, you can go out and cut some of it down. Yes, that’s right. Mr. you’ve-had-major-surgery just told me I could go outside in 97 degrees at 7 a.m. and CUT DOWN the mint around the septic cover. This requires me to bend over, reach out, and use my arms. I don’t know how “they” define straining, but this seems to me to be maybe a little bit of straining.

But I did it. But I only cut halfway around the lid and left the cuttings lying on the ground nearby in a neat pile, you know, so it was obvious that I did it.

On a side note, if you want to grow mint, plant it somewhere that won’t encroach on anything else (like NOWHERE). My mom gave me a small bunch from her garden about three years ago. It was one.little.plant. It was cute, like crocuses. NOW it spans the length of a commercial airline strip and is about as wide as the tailgate of our pickup truck. And you know what else? You can’t give that shit away. Apparently none of my neighbors drink mojitos either.

Anyway. I’m still trying to get stuff done around the house, and have managed to firmly delegate to the prince and princess of the house a handful of chores I need done to not become a screaming lunatic maintain my sanity. Opac’s room does not presently fall into this category, but today I changed my mind when I passed his closed door in the hallway. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

He is in driving school (mandatory in the state of Maryland) again this week, with two days left to go (in the classroom) before he does the behind-the-wheel portion. They “highly recommend” the driving coach ride along for the first session. Well, that aint gonna happen. I’m still restricted from “long car rides,” thank GOD. Sessions are two hours long. TWO HOURS.

So far, the longest I’ve ridden with him was a little over an hour – to meet his dad to drop off/pick up Veruca, because I’m not supposed to drive that far yet, let alone ride. My muscles were screaming so loud I had a headache and when we got home I crashed on that worn spot on the couch.

And while we’re on the subject of long car rides I’m not supposed to take, my mother – who expressed concern over an upcoming 12-hour shift I’m covering at work – asked me to come up to the restaurant (an hour and 20-minute ride, minimum) AFTER I worked my first day back, three weeks post-op from [insert Todd: MAJOR SURGERY] to “oversee” things at the restaurant. This is confusing at best.

So I returned to work last Saturday. And trust me, you have never seen anyone so happy to go to work. Like, ever. We were only open 8 to 12, so it was a short and very quiet morning. But I remembered how to do my job! Great boost for the morale!

And then Todd left to go grill at the restaurant (she needed help) and Opac left for a party and I was home alone for 8 hours! I don’t know whether that’s good or bad, but I spent most of it in that place reading, watching Netflix, eating ice cream, and not sleeping. At least until Opac got home, and then I was out cold until I heard Todd’s keys on the kitchen counter.

I don’t know what I did on Sunday. I have no memory of Sunday. All the days are melting together like a popsicle in the sun.

We had the family over Sunday a couple of weeks ago, because I haven’t seen Dad in months. He travels a lot for work, sometimes for weeks at a time, and I still had his Father’s Day gift. He acted all, oh-I-didn’t-need-a-gift, until he opened it and saw the Trump coffee mug: Nobody is better at Fatherhood than you. All the other dads are a total disaster. Everyone agrees, believe me. I don’t think he found it as hilarious as my brother and I did, but as long as it made me happy – that’s all that matters, right?

It was a nice day, albeit exhausting for me. I didn’t do that much, but it was enough that I needed to lie down for a while.

Surgery changed me in ways I am still discovering. I’m normally all in for socializing and I love going out and being with people. Not now. Peopling is hard right now, and I don’t want to. I’ve always been upbeat and positive and, like the title of my former blog, Finding Joy. My last good joke was when I told the person in the hospital that I was having breast implants. Nothing seems funny right now.

It’s like I’ve been Ignoring Joy, which could be the title of another blog post but I’m done with serious bitching and being negative. Todd has hinted a handful of times that he just wants to enjoy life and be happy, which is a like an elbow to the ribs and a great big, hint hint. He’s not used to this side of me. Even back when he carried me through the darkest days, he still got the good parts of me that were still flickering like the last bit of wick fighting not to burn out. He knows who’s inside of me, and he hasn’t seen her in over a month.

He also understands the struggle, because he’s been there. When I have a particularly bad day, he reminds me – you’ve just had major surgery. It’s only been 3 weeks. And then he follows with, it’s going to take a couple of months. Which is where his rallying speech becomes a warning, really, when you think about it – for himself.

But, as I return to my old work schedule tomorrow, I am feeling eager and grateful. It’s the gateway back to “normal.” I get to see my coworkers and smile again, because work has always been – for me – that place where you leave your troubles outside and forget them until the work is done. You can be anyone you want to be while you’re working. And when you leave, you can pick that shit up and take it home with you, if you want. It’s all a choice. For me, it used to be about survival. But now, it’s the way I choose to live.

And, for the record, I am finding joy again, slowly, even as my body will remind me it’s time to rest. Pull just one more weed? Nope, I’m tired. I need to lie down. Mop that kitchen floor that hasn’t seen water in 4 weeks? Maybe today. Either way, it will all be here tomorrow, as it always is – but my children are growing up too fast and my husband is so busy with his new responsibilities and the time we get alone together when we’re both awake is short for now.

 

Hanging By a Thread

(from July 11th)

The journey is not epic, but rather a drama mixed with occasional comedy, and full of ups and downs. I know I sound melodramatic, but I’m frustrated and a bit stabby, and occasionally depressed. I think yesterday my tolerance meter nearly imploded.

It’s summertime. I had major surgery (Todd keeps reminding me), and it’s summertime. The kids are home. Every day. Because – summertime. This amounts to [now] two teenagers occupying the peaceful space of my home 24/7, restless spirits who also spend hours behind closed bedroom doors. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “mom” yesterday, I’d be buying Todd that antique Mustang he’s pining for.

I’m two weeks and 6 days post-op. I’ve tried to do things. Sometimes it was okay, but more often than not it didn’t turn out so good. I was told I could drive two weeks after surgery. On that day, I had to explain to Veruca that this did not mean I should jump in a car and start cruising around. She’s been fairly understanding of my condition, insofar as a self-centered 13-year-old can be, like yesterday we went to the store and she insisted on carrying all the groceries in for me, but she also insisted on an extra stop at the pet store.

Just now she walked out here where I was typing, to ask me what I was planning to do today. Well, let’s see, what I’d like to do: weed the gardens, mop the floors, do laundry, make some banana bread, finish cleaning out my closet, and pull out the 40lb sewing machine and start sewing. What I told her: resting. She sighed the heavy sigh perfected by teenagers the world over and, with a head roll that likely matched the one in her eyes, went back to her room.

She’s bored. I GET IT. I promise you, nobody is more bored than me. But, I learned my lesson. I vacuumed three rooms – the living room, dining room, and kitchen – last Friday, and spent the rest of the day in pain. And then Todd yelled at me, because, YOU HAD MAJOR SURGERY. You can’t strain yourself. You’re supposed to be resting. And when I look at him, he asks me to stop giving him dirty looks.

I hurt. Every. Time. I. Do. Something. This is bullshit. Everyone keeps saying, take it easy! Don’t rush it! Healing needs to happen first! Don’t do anything to encourage the Steri-strips to fall off! Which, by the way, were by last Saturday literally hanging by a sixteenth of an inch from the skin on my neck and the rest of it was flapping in the wind.

No way in HELL was I going out in public with that. So I took a shower and blow-dried my neck as I have done every day because the instructions said to thoroughly dry the site, and the Steri-strips were flapping like a moth stuck to a light until suddenly…. off!

Have I mentioned that I’m bored to death? I can’t lift anything, I can’t do any of the things I would normally do when I’m home all day. I haven’t been to work in three weeks. Someone posted this meme about “when you go back to work after vacation but can’t remember what you even do.” This made me laugh, because I’m worried it’s true.

So far I’ve watched Netflix, some Netflix, and more Netflix, and finished two books. I’m way too invested in what happens to the folks on Fuller House. I’ve read online articles about Johnny Depp’s downward spiral, followed the breathtaking rescue of the boys trapped in the cave in Thailand, and trolled Facebook which itself has become either boring as hell or annoying me with everyone’s vacations. Sure, I’ve “liked” their posts, even when all I wanted to do was say “you suck!” I’ve tried napping, which only makes me feel like I’ve been drugged.

Meanwhile, Veruca decided to clean the bathroom she shares with O. Except the floor was covered with towels (seven towels. SEVEN.) and dirty clothes she insisted all belonged to him. So she knocked on his bedroom door and bitched him out about the mess on the floor and told him to get in there and clean it up. I held my breath.

Moments later they’re in the kitchen, and she’s bitching at him about the pubic hairs on the toilet and shavings in the sink, and he’s saying those aren’t his pubic hairs. Which was the wrong thing to say, and then an argument ensued which ended with accusations about one of them needing a lawnmower for their pubic hair.

Aside from sibling problems, V has been to a birthday party and a day away at one of her besties’ houses, and Opac started mandatory driving school. He has to go every day for two weeks. The first day was Monday, and the parent (“driving coach”) had to attend orientation with the student. Driving coach? I never signed on for THAT. Needless to say, I heard myself referred to as “old-school” and learned a thing or two about driving in modern society.

He’s getting a lot more driving practice in, while I snap on my “holy shit!” neck brace and people stare because my kid must drive like a maniac.

Monday evening he came home from football workouts with a friend and called me from the driveway asking for help getting out of the car.

What do you mean, HELP you get out of the car?

My muscles in my legs seized up and I can’t move.

How am I supposed to help you with this? I’m recovering from surgery. At this point I’m walking outside, where he is standing stock-still next to Kyle’s car with the door open, and Kyle looks like the cat that swallowed the canary. Opac literally cannot move. I told him to take a few steps and close the door so that Kyle (the hilarity of the situation tickling the corners of his mouth) can go home.

Opac winces and hobbles toward the concrete steps to the front door, says he’s not gonna make it. I call for Veruca to help him, and she does…mostly by holding his hand as he climbs the steps and I am momentarily struck by the sweetness of it all until the moment is shattered by him yelling about the pain. I tell him to take a hot shower to loosen the muscles, and he’s insisting he needs to ice it. A brief pissing match over who is right ensues, so I walk away and tell him to do what he thinks is best, then.

He decides on a warm bath, since he called Dad and that’s what dad said to do, because dad is God today. So he’s running the bath and tells me that Kyle just texted him complaining of the exact same problem, and that he fell down the stairs. What kind of workouts are these?

A few minutes go by and I get this…

20180715_191716

 

My great grandmother always said, Don’t wish your life away. And that statement has plenty of merit, but lawd I neeeeeed to get to my 6-week post-op appointment. I need August.

Silverfox Takes Lexington

**Disclaimer: This is NOT a political post.

Dad was in Lexington on business last week and sent me pics of the Red Hen, which – ICYMI – was the site of a huge political controversy recently and has shut down indefinitely.* Visitors were placing flowers on the front step like a memorial.

20180704_081135

 

Dad: Protestors tonite.

It’s getting ugly here…Trumpsters everywhere

Me: Be careful.

D: U know me, I’m lookin for a fight {toothy smile emoji}

M: Don’t. You can’t reason with them.

D: I’m just finishing dinner and will walk over to stir things up

M: Dad, I’m recovering from surgery. I’m not feeling well. Don’t make me come down there.  But, at least get some footage.

D: Everyone is gone.

D: Not to worry…tomorrow is another day.

 

The next day around 6:30 p.m. he sends me a video I can’t open.

M: Idk what that was

D: Party time

D: I recorded that country band while I was eating my bah b que

 

Twenty-four hours later he sends me another video with the caption, “How’s this for a view while drinking a craft brew?” The video was 23 seconds of his knee and a topsy-turvy view of a stone wall, and I was about to question his sobriety when he followed up with another video and “sent the wrong video before” {grinning emoji}. This one was a panoramic of his view from the patio he was drinking his craft brew on, of road, parking lot, mountains, and sky. Ending with the topsy-turvy upside-down view of his hairy leg.

M: Yeah, I guess when you’re drunk…

M: Nice hairy knee

D: Hah

D: I just sat down

M: What is the view? A parking lot?

D: This is the Shenandoah Valley… beautiful

 

Several hours later…

D: I’m at the restaurant now and the conversation is so slanted towards the extreme right.

M: Oh lord. Try to stay out of it.

D: You know I can’t

M: You have to. There’s no one to bail you out.

D: Haha

M: Find another restaurant

Now to say my dad does not have strong political opinions presently, would be a gross falsehood, but he also wouldn’t get himself into a heated discussion with strangers. But – beer muscles are a thing. I just don’t believe my dad has any. Until –

D: Are you sayin you wouldn’t drive here to bail out your wife’s father?

M: My wife’s father? Dad, how much have you had?

D: Oops! My bad

D: I was talking to you and Todd at the same time

 

The next morning I received another video – this one was a nighttime video of flashing red lights and firetrucks, captioned: “You can always count on Dominoes to arrive on time.” And sure enough, if you look closely, you can see a car with a Dominoes sign on the roof passing between the firetrucks.

 

D: Fire alarm evacuated hotel around midnight

M: OMG. You really should be blogging. Your life is way more interesting than mine.

M: It’s 8:57 and the highlight of my day so far is that I finally went to the bathroom.

D: Just got the details during my coffee run…someone in the hotel tried to smoke in their shower (there are no exhaust fans in this old hotel)

 At this point I plead an empty case for him to guest write a post. If he had been blogging over the last 10 years or so, he’d have thousands of followers and he wouldn’t have to work. Truth is by far, waaaay better than fiction.

 

Miscellaneous tidbits:

*One news outlet stated The Red Hen was expected to stay closed until July 5th.

There are other “Red Hen” restaurants that have been confused with The Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia. Restaurants around the world bearing any part of the name Red Hen have been targeted by haters – including The Little Red Hen, a restaurant located IN THE PHILLIPINES, where someone trashed them for refusing “to serve one of the finest woman in the country. You should be ashamed of yourself!” (Grammar geeks – I spelled the quote exactly as it was written.)

It has even gone as far as people contacting the Health Department that serves Lexington, KENTUCKY – imploring them to “shut the [expletive] down.”

There’s actually a Red Hen in D.C. that received so many threats they had to post a police officer outside, and was egged late at night.

A man whose restaurant by the same name in Georgia closed nearly 10 years ago, received a 700-word post on his not-updated-page-since-2010 from a “ ‘tourist to Lexington,’ who swears to never eat there again.” His friends have since made comical reviews about his restaurant being a “Communist front” and that “its food tasted several years old.”

Meanwhile, a man was arrested for throwing chicken poop at #TheRealRedHen.

Moral of the story tibits: There’s a lesson to be learned from all this, and it’s not political.

***Sources: http://www.theverge.com and The Washington Post.