If you read my post, sorry, I obviously should have finished my coffee before I published. Not one, but three mistakes! Yikes!!! Thanks for reading, and I promise I’ll shut-up for now.
A funny thing happened on the way to posting today. I meant to write about the voice that has resided in my brain for most of my life that said, “You aren’t good enough.” Freudian slip I guess, because after rereading the published piece I noticed that I wrote, “you are good enough”. Maybe the voice in my head is changing. That would really be something extraordinary.
I’m usually pretty good at coming up with a title for a post. They come to me quickly, and I usually never second guess my choice. Today is a little different. I wasn’t sure whether to title this one as I did, “Regaining Control”, or my other thought which was “Misconceptions.” What I need to get off my chest has a little to do with both. As I’ve pointed out before, this blog began as a way to force myself to work on my art. The unfortunate situation that we found ourselves in changed that. I still plan to return to my work, but there isn’t much time for creativity these days unless it is in the form of packing boxes. This blog instead has become a catharsis for my emotional well-being in a time of struggle. Pent up emotions do no one any good. I am a very “in your face” kind of person. I don’t believe in hiding the truth, I feel better when I am honest with people. That doesn’t mean that I go around insulting people by telling them something negative about themselves, some things are best left unsaid, but when I am upset with someone I don’t let it fester. When you don’t release your emotions I think little things tend to build into great big things, and then all kinds of unnecessary drama can ensue. I don’t know most of the people who read what I write, and that works for me. It just feels good to let it out, and if by chance someone else relates and it helps them in some way, that is amazing. I also don’t write looking for pity, which believe it or not I kind of think some people who I do know believe that I am. I’m a writer as well as an artist, so I am doing what a writer does, I write. I started keeping a journal at twelve, of course back then we didn’t have fancy names like “journal”, it was a diary. You know the kind where you talk about which boy is cute and how you hate your parents that day? I actually kept that diary for almost seven years. I’ve written a lot over the years. I’ve never attempted to have anything published, that lovely “you are good enough” voice that resides in my brain held me back. Short stories, poetry, and a few children’s books are all in a box. Someday I may let them out, but for now I write here. So with that rather long introduction I will begin.
I’ve had several people tell me to focus on the good in my life. Things such as, “Count your blessings.”, “Look at all the love and kindness you’ve received.”, “Stop focusing on the negative.” …and so on. The implication of course being that I spend my life in a complete state of “woe is me.” That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I guess I’ll address misconceptions first. I am grateful, I do count my blessings, I don’t always focus on the negative, and so on… This blog became a way to vent emotion. My lovely husband was struggling in his own way with his identity as the man of the house, the bread-winner, the guy who took care of everything. Did he need to be burdened with my worry wart ways? The answer is of course not. Venting here allowed me to blow off some worry as well as steam. Not that Dan didn’t always know what I was feeling, but this took the edge off. When I said that I felt my prayers weren’t being answered it didn’t mean that I suddenly stopped being Catholic. Trust me when I say I sometimes envy the faith that some people have. Mine is just a little shaky at the moment. I also believe something my sister said about God giving us free will. God does help them who help themselves, it’s just tough to get it going when no one will give you a chance, because guess what? The multitudes of people who turned Dan down for a job have free will too, the free will to not give him the job. I also in my beliefs think that God is a little busy right now with Gaza, the Ebola virus, the current crisis in Iraq, and the millions of poor starving babies in the world to be worried about whether or not I get to keep my 3000 square foot home. I wouldn’t expect that kind of attention. This is where the regaining control part comes in. I’m a self admitted control freak, and my life was way out of my control, that means I turn into a “basket-case”. This was never about losing my big house, it was about worrying that I would have no house at all. This was about watching what the situation did to the person that I love, admire, and respect most in the world, Dan. It was about being scared. Loss of control is a big issue for me. It’s why I’m claustrophobic, I need the keys. The house will be on the market within a week. I’m exhausted, as is Dan, but (dare I say) we are also beginning to feel a little excited about the future. We went out last weekend to investigate potential places to move to, and quite frankly we fell in love. I won’t go into detail as of yet, but I am feeling hopeful, and just a little bit more in control. Now that there is a plan of sorts, it means that all is almost well in my world. We are helping ourselves and letting God take care of those who can’t and need Him way more than us.
We are close to listing, I believe by Wednesday of this week. By then my right knee should move from softball size to small watermelon. I spent yesterday in the garden, as I had the day before. I painted the patio, and then that led to thinking that the frames around the window looked dirty, so I pulled out a small ladder and repainted those. I believe I have become just a little crazed. Today in 97 degree heat I will be repainting the door in from the garden. It’s the domino effect. Every time I clean one thing it makes the thing next to it look a little duller. I really need to stop. The place looks beautiful. I will be taking pictures soon, and will share some of our handiwork.
A few weeks before my Mother died she began cleaning out drawers. She made a comment to my sister about not wanting people to think she was “dirty”. She wasn’t expecting company, there was no one set to arrive at her home to inspect her cleanliness, it was as if she had a premonition that those drawers would be opened again, but the next time it wouldn’t be by her. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about moments like that. How alone she felt at times. The last night she spent in her house was alone, up all night suffering a heart attack. She was afraid, she always put my Dad first so she didn’t wake him, instead she sat by herself that entire night. It breaks my heart. What’s worse is that she spent the night in the comfort of her only friend, her cigarettes. So often I wish I could go back and tell her to call me, or to call one of my sisters. There isn’t one of us that wouldn’t have rushed to her side.
All of this came to my mind this morning as I continued the relentless preparation of my house to make it ready for sale. I am my Mother’s daughter. I have been looking at homes for sale closer to Dan’s job, and quite frankly I am appalled at some of what I am seeing. I would be embarrassed to reveal the kind of filth that is photographed and publicly displayed for the world to see. OK, so I’m being a little harsh, but really? I have cleaned every inch of this home, it is immaculate, every nook and cranny I can think of is getting a through go over. I wouldn’t dream of asking someone to move in and clean up after me. Years ago in Chicago we were looking for a house to buy. We went to see a typical Chicago Bungalow owned by someone named Otto. The house needed work, which is a challenge I enjoy, but what I didn’t enjoy was the amount of dirt I saw on every window ledge, the unappealing odor, and the general mess of the entire house. When I see that (or in this case smell that) I wonder what could possibly be underneath it all. Yuck! Sends a shiver down my spine. When we left Otto asked if we were interested, and when we said no he asked why. We lied, said the house was too small, but the reality is that I wanted to tell him to clean his house. A little elbow grease never hurt anyone. I love my home, I’m proud of my home, and if I didn’t clean it my Mom would be ashamed. That in itself is enough of a motivating factor.
As we prepare for our move I find myself reflecting on friends lost over the years. Particularly the move here to California. Several friends promised we wouldn’t lose touch, but as time passed communication became sparse. Regular phone calls became monthly calls, emails went unanswered, even when I joined Facebook (late in the game I admit) I reached out to some who “friend ed” me back, but when I tried to move beyond that I didn’t get any response. I made a one time “Best Friend” my daughter’s godmother, sure that we would always be in each others lives. I’m not even sure where she lives now. She stopped communicating with me. I entrusted her with what I had hoped to be an important role in my daughter’s life. All I can do is wonder why. There was even a woman, a relatively new friend, who befriended me because my old neighbor, her friend, had moved away and not kept in touch with either of us as promised. We bonded over the loss of our friend and began what I thought was a terrific friendship. Not long after that I discovered that we would be moving here. We were both saddened by this road block in the way of the promise of a great relationship that lay ahead. We swore we wouldn’t be like “her” and keep in touch. I moved, we called, we exchanged letters, and then suddenly she was gone. No note, no goodbye. The same thing happened with a friend from high school. She reached out via the internet. I discovered that she was an artist, something I had never known about her, and was thrilled at the connection. We jumped into this new adult friendship head first. Lots of emails, exchanges of ideas, and even gifts. When I was back in Chicago I made a point of seeing her. It was wonderful, we had dinner and talked and talked about our families, our lives, and for me the most important thing of all, we talked about art. I have two wonderfully creative friends here, very artistic and talented, but neither does the kind of work I do. This woman does. I was excited at the prospect of bouncing ideas off of each other, and then…POOF! Gone. No answer to my emails. It left me feeling as though I’d done something wrong. Last year the wife of a former colleague of Dan’s and I met at a dreaded business dinner. I didn’t want to go, but by the end of the evening I felt like I had a wonderful new friend. She has dropped me like a hot potato. Your guess, I have no idea. There are so many more stories like those in my life. Not that I am completely innocent. I too have drifted out of a life or two. I guess I can’t take it personal. More importantly I hope that the people I’ve left behind don’t question themselves about it. I only know that some of my missing people had an impact on my life and I will never get to tell them that. As a shy little girl with not a friend in the world, friendship means a great deal to me. I’m not one of those people with a huge social circle. I’m more of a half-dozen or less kind of girl, but each and every one of my friends brings something different into my life. When someone vanishes it leaves a little hole in my heart for a bit, and of course me being neurotic me, I agonize over what I could possibly have done wrong. I know, wasted energy, but just try telling that to my heart and slightly skewed brain.
So my dear friends who may be reading this, you count. You make up parts of my life. You bring personality, laughter, shoulders to cry on, and you make me feel good about myself. Why? Because I think we are all special in our own way, I admire qualities in all of you, and the fact that you want to be my friend makes me feel special. That, and even though you know what a messy, half-crazed, glass not half empty but broken on the floor worry wart I am you seem to like me anyway.
Off to new horizons, but this time inside the state line, so no excuses my friends, lets work on this. I’m starting over, but there are some of you that I just can’t imagine my life without.
“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”
Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
Monday morning, Dan’s first day back to work in sixteen months. (I made him lunch, a sandwich, Frito’s and an apple. He said he felt like he was going back to school.) I should be thrilled, shouldn’t I? Not so much. Yes, I am happy that there will be a paycheck, but I miss him terribly. We, with very few exceptions, have been together twenty-four hours a day for sixteen months. I’m feeling a little lost. I have spent my life hearing about how many wives lose their mind when their husbands retire, or hear complaints when the husband is even around for more than a few days. Not me, not us, we’re attached at the hip, and very happy about it. There is no ones company that I enjoy more than Dan’s, he is my best friend, the best one I’ve ever had. I fear adjusting to our time apart won’t be easy. Whats worse is that it took him two and a half hours to get to his new office. The new office is small, hot, and he still has that awful drive coming home. I am taking a short break from frantically trying to accomplish everything possible to get us on the move…out of this house! I’m still sad about moving, but as always my overriding concern is for Dan’s happiness. I need to get us to our next home, a much closer home than this. I just wanted to take the time to thank him for everything he does for me, is to me, and how much he loves and cares for me. Sometimes in the rush of life I think we take the people we care about for granted. I try to make sure that everyone in my life knows how much they mean to me, particularly the one that means the most. So this is my public pronouncement of gratitude for nearly thirty years of the kind of love that I wish most people could have.
Tonight a really special dinner (…and maybe a foot rub), a stress reliever after what I am sure is a long day. Anything to make him happy, because that makes me happy too.
Well it finally happened, Dan got the news we’ve been waiting for, a job. Sixteen months of worry and stress. Unfortunately it is bittersweet. We will still have to lose our home. The job is much too
far away, the money isn’t quite what we had hoped, but it is more than so many people make, so for that I am grateful. I am also grateful for the support of so many, some of whom I know well, and some who reached out to a stranger in pain. Thank you, all of you.
We will continue to work on the house…thisclosetobeingdone…still tired, still discovering pain in muscles that we didn’t know we possessed, but for now at least an answer to one of the many questions about where we go from here. Another casualty is my dream of the bookstore/cafe, at least in Temecula. The money we had to put towards that has been used to survive this trying time. Dan has the job, but I am again not sure of where I end up. I hope to move to a place where I can renew my vow to continue with my art. As for now most of the paints are packed, and while I did leave a few supplies out hoping for a chance to work while we sold the house, I’m not sure if I will have the time. Once we are finished (by tomorrow I hope!), I will have to keep things in order as we sell the house, and then of course finding a place to live, and unpacking the multitudes of boxes. Last year when I began this blog it was in hopes of rediscovering the artist I was meant to be. Life has a way of laughing in your face when you try to make plans. So here we are, me and my artistic aspirations, on the back-burner once again. Not giving in, not giving up, determined to have a moment that is mine alone sometime in the future.
Yet another bad day, many tears were shed, but in the end I decided I needed to cheer myself up a bit by writing something different for a change.
I think we all know by now that I have issues. Yes, I know there are some people who know me and think I’m perfect just as I am (Dan), and there are those who wish I would just stop whining, but the last year and a half have taken their toll. This past year has aged me. The countless sleepless and restless nights have given my eyes a look that Morticia Adams would envy. As I told Dan the other day, “If the circles under my eyes get any bigger they will be touching the top of my lip.” My hair still looks decent thanks to the great kindness of the lovely woman who cuts/colors/styles my hair. She just recently did all three free of charge, and has helped keep my roots in check this past year, again without charge. A kindness I will never forget and greatly appreciate. I look tired, I look sad, I believe the lines on the side of my mouth are close to forming a permanent sad clown frown, and if you understood my deep fear of clowns you would know just how disturbing that can be. I look in the mirror and think that I might just be perfect for next season’s Walking Dead, no makeup required. I’ve gained a few pounds, lost a few pounds, and then gained them back again. My waistline is protesting and has decided to go on what I believe will be a permanent strike. I haven’t been exercising, but with all the lifting and packing I’m sure I’m getting enough of a workout, not that I look like it. I also, as the pasty white woman that I am, bruise easily. I tend to use my thighs and upper arms to balance boxes on. I look as though someone has grabbed me by the arms and given me a good shaking. That might actually be a good thing, sort of a “snap out of it” shake to help me get past my mood. I won’t even discuss my feet, or the gnarled appendages that pass for fingers on the ends of my cracked dry hands. In general I am a mess. Meanwhile Dan looks fabulous, and somehow has hair that appears to have a wind machine built in. He needs no back-lighting as the beautiful silver of his hair has a glow all its own. He has been walking daily, looks tan and fit, and could be easily be cast as the son of the “most interesting man in the world.” Sometimes life just isn’t fair.
You may wonder what prompted all of this. It was Alicia Silverstone. She is in a new issue of one of my magazines. She looks amazing, she is of course much younger than I, and a vegan, to which I say, “Good for you Alicia. I like my steak medium rare.” But there is more. She is in soft focus, and she is back-lit. I remember seeing Julia Roberts many years ago (on Oprah I think), she said every woman needs a fan for that windblown hair look. (Or something very, very close to that) I think what I need is a tan to hide my bruises, a little back-lighting, a soft focus lens, and a fan to blow my not so luxurious locks about…and then I need to remember to not lose sight of some of the things I like about myself. One of which is my sense of humor, and my ability to Photo-shop myself into Alicia Silverstone wonderfulness.
Perhaps I should have titled this post “The Loss Of Home Stretch”. That’s where we are. I had sorely underestimated what needed to be done around here. We are both overworked, overtired, and feeling sad. I’ve given up hope, given up prayer, and am just waiting for it to all be behind us. I need to move on, I need some answers. For those of you who I know will feel the need to address my giving up prayer, don’t bother. I have prayed, I have prayed every single day for more than a year. I’m tired. I don’t have enough time to take a much needed soak in the tub, much-less wait for divine intervention. I have been, and I have waited just long enough to be at risk of being homeless. Dan and I need to take care of our own destiny, whatever that may be. We have had a lot of advice, loving, well-intended advice, but the bottom line is that we can only depend on ourselves. As you have probably guessed by now, today is not a good day. It is another day where I find tears streaming down my face at their own will. I know what is important in this life. The most important part is upstairs right now trying his best to apply for everything and anything. I have also made mention of my “Stuff”. The thing is, it isn’t just stuff, it’s the pieces of a life that has ceased to exist. It is memories of birthdays, and Mother’s days and Christmas. It is deciding to let go of some trivial little thing that represents a happier day. It is packing up our life into boxes that have no place to go. The other day I got the mail, and then the thought struck me that I will need to stop the mail in the (hopefully) very near future. I have no new address to forward it to. To say this is hard is vastly understating the situation. Dan apologized to me this morning. Why? Because he feels he has let me down. Nothing could be farther from the truth. He is my life’s saving grace. He is responsible for nothing more than making me a better person, and loving me far beyond what I sometimes feel I deserve. I’m off to continue working. I needed to take the pressure off my breaking heart for a moment. It helps to talk, even if it is only to this page.
I wrote the above post ten days ago. I didn’t publish it because quite frankly it depressed me. Things are moving ahead here. I can actually see the finish line. On a more positive note it seems that there may be some hope on the job front for Dan. I hate to say that I’m afraid to even write these words. I’m afraid that something will get in the way yet again. I’m afraid to hope. We should know some time in the next day or two. In case you care, I haven’t given up praying, but I think that I understand the meaning of “Doubting Thomas”. I am second guessing myself on every front including my ability to communicate with the Man upstairs. I’ll keep you posted…
I’m back. For a moment at least. Banged up, exhausted, and in a not so great state of mind, but there is something else. Something that got under my skin today, something that bugged me so much that I stopped focusing on my situation. I tend to obsess…a lot. I told Dan I felt a “rant” coming on….well, here goes…I was outside trimming trees, and bushes, and improving the “curb appeal” of my home. Dirty, tired, and with hands that are covered in bandages from blisters that developed, and then tore open in the same day. Not in an either bad or good frame of mind, but lost in thought, and to a certain extent content in the moment. I love the garden. I love the physical aspect of gardening. I get a great deal of satisfaction from seeing my efforts bloom, to feel the earth in my hands. A neighbor approached. She is new to the street, she has been here for only a few months. We had taken the time to introduce ourselves to both this woman and her husband, but other than that nothing more than a quick hello, and friendly wave. She announced that she was nosy. She had been observing us in the last few weeks as we moved boxes to a nearby storage locker, noticed us cleaning up the garden, and the arrival of a dumpster on Monday. “I assume you are moving. I had to know. We will miss you.” To begin with, miss me? You don’t know me. Second, I’m not nosy. I really don’t care what my neighbors are up to. I told her that yes, we were indeed moving. At this point I will admit I am already annoyed. I don’t like being disturbed, and particularly when someone wants to gain information that is none of their business. Except this woman apparently has a vested interest in the sale of my home. She informed me that she knew people who might want to buy my home. Great, right? No, because that was followed by comments concerning the “right” kind of people. Because we need to be careful who we allow to buy our home. I’ve run into this type before. I may have even mentioned it here. The colorless people such as myself who believe that since we share the same pasty complexion, we must also share the same ignorant, racist, discriminatory sensibilities. Not the case. I happen to believe that we are all the same, well maybe not, because some of us are so ignorant as to believe that the color of skin makes us different. We aren’t. Just in case I was mistaken I decided to visit the woman who lives next door to her. We have been friendly on and off for several years, gone to lunch, been at each others homes for parties, etc., she is Persian. She was born in Iran, but raised in the East here in the U.S., she is Muslim, but she is so much more than what she may look like, or how she chooses to worship. She is a funny, interesting woman, a good wife and mother, with two very beautiful daughters. She also does a killer job of decorating her house for Christmas. I went over to tell her in person that I am moving, and promised to keep in touch. We talked about the new neighbor. I told my friend I was curious if they had met. They had. My friend had brought doughnuts to welcome the new people, because that is the kind of lovely woman she is. Since then the husband has spoken to her, but not the wife. I guess my friend isn’t the “right” kind. It’s sad to me. If the new neighbor would take the time to get to know the woman next door she might discover that us moms are pretty much alike, that this woman is a friend that can be counted on, that she is generous and thoughtful, that because of the world we live in sometimes people aren’t nice to her, and she turns her other cheek. Sounds like something someone else I’ve heard of would do. He wasn’t pasty white either. I guess I’d better not sell him my house.