Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wishing for everything, committing to nothing (Happy New Year)

"May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions." ~Joey Adams

I am trying to come up with a list of things that I want to do/accomplish in 2009 but I'd hate to post something that would leave concrete evidence of me failing. I'm more the type that keeps a mental list that can be easily erased, forgotten or revised at any time to suit my purposes. I am not ashamed to say that lists of things to do make me nervous. Whenever I do have the forethought to create one, I usually leave it behind me when I set off to do what needs to get done or I simply just lose it on purpose so I have a ready made excuse for coming up short.

I'm aiming for lots of happiness in 2009 for myself and for my loved ones. And good health, too. I want to read more, to never stop learning because I've found an idle mind breeds discontent. I'm hoping I can find a way to incorporate some of my dormant dreams into reality. I will need much courage for that, and so I'm aiming to reach deep down inside and find that, too, dust it off and use it. I want to remember to look at each day as the gift that it is and do things in the span of each day that will make me proud of how I am living my life. I want to make myself a priority, which I never do, but I think I deserve it now that my children are pretty much grown. I want to keep writing because it feels necessary for me to write things down, even if no one is reading--it's the part of me that says the most about me, even when I am guarded. Mostly, I just want to live another year so that I can come back here next year and wish for another.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008


" When our relatives are at home, we have to think of all their good points or it would be impossible to endure them." ~George Bernard Shaw'm trying to enjoy all the togetherness we're having around here lately. There's not one quiet place to go to, not one space that isn't littered with someone's "stuff." I remind myself that a clean house isn't what's important in life, even though I've spent so much time lately getting everything organized. I hate thinking that was all a waste of time, but maybe I can get back there again when everyone goes back to school and back to work. I do love sleeping in and not having anything specific to do or anywhere specific to go. That's nice. We went to Outback Steakhouse tonight and we never go out to eat on Monday's, so that's a plus. I count the pros and the cons of having everyone here every minute of the day and I tell myself that what's most important in life is FAMILY. I'll finish the book I've been trying to finish some other time. I've got "little drives up the road" to take with my husband...

Christmas was wonderful. I can't believe it's over already. I will keep my tree up at least another week because it makes me happy. I received some great gifts, two of my favorites being paintings that my son and my daughter painted for me (my children are all so multi-talented that it's not funny--they did not get it from me--I can't draw a stick figure to save my life (and I wasn't so great at sports either and they are natural athletes)--but they have it all--and I am so lucky they are mine!!! The artistic and athletic genes skipped right on over me. I must give my husband his due, he was a professional athlete at one point, so I know they get a lot of it from him (and my father who was an Allstar athlete). My mother has athletic genes on her side, too. I have a cousin who played professional baseball. It's tough being so ordinary among such greatness, but I'm a great cheerleader and everyone needs a great cheerleader sitting somewhere on the sidelines sending positive vibes, or comforting words when needed.

I'm sort of like Mary Poppins. I swoop in and save the day, and make everyone's life easier so that they can be the greatest people ever.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Burning the city down to show you the light

"The important thing is not to stop questioning." ~Albert Einstein

My in laws are very good to my children and my husband. They are so thoughtful and loving. Watching how down-to-earth and generous they are makes me want to be more like them. Family is very important to them and they'd do anything for those that they love.

For some reason, however, they do not seem to like me. I don't know if it's something I've done or some unconscious signal I send off to them that has caused this. I've searched my head and my heart but I can't come up with anything. If I'm in a room with them--they speak to me like I'm an acquaintance--not part of the family. I try not to let this get under my skin, but mostly it lives under my skin, where it always feels hot to the touch.

Here are some of the ways they have made it clear to me that I live on the periphery of their lives:

They never recognize my birthday with a card while everyone else gets cards and presents. I know it's silly to want a card from them, but I do. I send them cards for their birthdays and sign my husband's name as well as the children's. If I left it up to my husband, they wouldn't receive a thing. I could be hateful and retaliate by not sending them cards but I try hard not to be blatantly hateful to people who are so good to everyone but me.

The first year we lived in FL, they sent a box filled with Christmas presents down to us. Upon opening the box, there were at least 5 presents apiece for everyone and there was one gift for me. It was an ugly brown candle and my MIL put a note inside the box that said, "here's a little remembrance for you." WTF? I took that candle and put it in my sitting room and every night I would light that sucker and think to myself, "here's a little remembrance for you." As long as I live, I will never forget that candle or that little note she sent. Each night, I felt like the flickering flame was mocking me, but I was determined to burn it down into nothingness and I did.

Whenever they call here and I pick up the phone, they do not say hello to me, they simply ask for one of the favored members of the family (either my husband or the children). Afterwards, I tell my husband how insulting it is that they cannot even acknowledge me with a hello and he explains it away by saying, "they don't mean anything by it, they're just getting old." I can't wait until I am old enough to blame everything on old age because it seems like it's a great excuse for getting away with things you'd normally be held accountable for in the real world.

When we used to live near them, we'd visit them and as soon as we entered their house, they'd ask everyone what they wanted to drink or eat and they'd pretty much ignore me. I got served last.

Then this Christmas, my MIL sends envelopes with checks for everyone but me. I don't care about the money--what bothers me is that my MIL doesn't think about how I might feel seeing everyone getting something but me--seeing everyone's name on the outside of an envelope but mine. I mean, what goes through her head when she's doing stuff like this? It makes me feel invisible. It makes me feel not good enough. I could not hold myself back from saying something on Christmas Day about this--that I just don't get how they make it so glaringly obvious that they do not like me. My husband told me that I was over reacting, and that OF COURSE they love me. I guess I'm just a little slow picking up the love signals. All I wanted to hear from my husband was, "you know something, you're right, it's a rotten thing to do (or NOT do)," but it seems that not only do I have to put up with their constant slighting of me, but I must not be outraged or say anything about it or I'm labeled "super-sensitive" or it is implied that I am too clueless to know that being left out translates into me being loved. Right.

My parents send my husband presents and cards on his birthday and on Christmas. I wonder what they would think if they knew that my in laws repeatedly ignore me. I would hope they would think it is horrible but I'm not ever going to tell them because I don't want them feeling sorry for me. It's an indignity I'd rather bear alone. And since it's uncool for me to talk about this anywhere, I'll talk about it here where I know none of them will ever find me.

Because they are so kind and generous to everyone else, I feel it's my place to find happiness in seeing THEM be happy and I'm so endlessly grateful that they have each other. I find comfort in that. When I first met them (many years ago) I was so excited to think I'd be a part of their little world where love felt pure and limitless and safe--like a secret treasure you want to hold onto forever. It's like I'm stuck on the outside looking in, wondering what it is that stops them from loving me the way they love everyone else.

I am old enough and wise enough to know that you cannot make someone love you if they don't but that doesn't make it any easier to accept. I think the distance between us helps. I do not have it in my face so much anymore--just on occasion--and I can sneak away if it feels like too much so that I can gather my wits together and pretend I don't really care. In another life, I was probably an actress of some sort. I can pull off fake ok-ness like nobody's business.

Despite all this, I can truly say that I love them for all that they've been and done for the rest of my family. I'm happy they have each other to count on and to love. I know our lives are richer for having them in it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

May your hearts be light

"May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The gladness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love."~Author Unknown

I went out to do a little last minute shopping today (it's the way I do Christmas). There were two incidents that threatened my holiday spirit: 1.) I held open the door for a young man who was pushing his child in a stroller and he walked by me and didn't say THANK YOU, so I shouted after him, "YOU'RE WELCOME!!!" I mean, give me a break. I was busy and could have let the door slam shut but I wanted to be kind and he couldn't even say thank you. Sometimes I can't stand people!!! and 2.) I was driving down the road and an accident had occurred and I was trying to shift into the left lane (I had my blinkers on) because the right lane was blocked and I counted 6 cars go by before anyone would allow me to merge in (everyone else pretended I was invisible!!). So much for good will among men. At that point I decided that I would head home and have my husband take me out to lunch to cheer me up but when I arrived home, he was gone--to get a haircut and buy a few presents, so I quickly ate one of those Jello pudding cups and headed back out to shop. I had better luck later in the afternoon. No more unpleasant encounters. My Christmas spirit is back intact.

I am currently trying to muster up the enthusiasm to wrap presents. Ugh. I find it such a waste of time but I know it has to be done. I also have not baked even one Christmas cookie this year (for us anyway--I did bake some a week ago for some pre-school kids). I'm not going to stress about it, though, because we have plenty to eat and that's the main thing.

I have everyone home again and it fills me with happiness. The house is alive with music, laughter and occasional bickering and I'm loving it all.

I'm going to be busy being busy the next couple of days but I wanted to wish everyone a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Newsflash: I was born, but I was not born yesterday

Last night my husband asked me if it was alright if he bought me a recliner for Christmas. Um...sounds like a present for him under the guise of being a present for me, especially since I've never expressed any interest in getting a recliner whereas he mentions at least once a week how he'd like one.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The sacred is in the ordinary

"The great lesson is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one's daily life, in one's neighbours, friends, and family, in one's backyard." - Abraham Maslow

I was going to write about the reply I got from my daughter's teacher today but I've allowed that woman to take up too much of my time today and so I will write about that another time.

Instead, I will talk about dribbling brightly colored lights among the bushes out front. I love Christmas lights--colored, preferably, but white will do in a pinch and on a mantel decorated with my favorite Christmas things.

I found the star for the top my tree and the tree skirt so I did not have to go out and purchase new ones. The old me would rush out and buy new things without thinking, but the new me wants to live a simpler life--and what could be more simple than taking the time to find things you know you have but can't find because you have so much stuff? I could seriously open some sort of store with all the stuff I've accumulated over the course of my life. I wish I knew then what I know now--that things are just things and the only importance they hold is the importance you assign them yourself.

My son is on his way home from college and we're thinking of decorating his room with Christmas lights to welcome him. I'm so excited to see him again. It feels like years and like just yesterday that he went away...if that makes sense--long and short at the same time.

There are days when it seems the fates are conspiring to drive me crazy and I fight to keep positive. On those days I look for the little things to bring me happiness--like a strand of colored lights, or the thought of my son coming back home to us.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Productive living

My house is looking awesomely awesome. I am almost all done with the painting and I have to say that it looks like a professional came in and did the job. I even did all the baseboards and trim, which was tedious, but I'm so happy with the results. Everything is so clean and sharp. I'm so used to doing the same things day in and day out without anyone ever noticing and it was so nice to do something I felt really proud about, something I got excited about doing even though it got a little boring at times. I blared the ITUNES or listened to Rush on talk radio and time flew. I think I rock as a painter.

I got our Christmas tree today. It was small enough that I could carry it and fit it in my car (actually I got the guy at Home Depot to carry it for me), but I did drag it out of the car and into the house and put the whole thing up myself. I can't find my star or my tree skirt, so I'll have to go buy new ones tomorrow, but the tree looks good and smells spectacular. Of course it's about 60 degrees out today so the "feel" of Christmas is missing but I'm sure if I wait a few days, it'll get cold again.

I had to write another letter today...this time to one of my daughter's teachers. She is taking an elective course in "volunteering" and apparently the teacher told another class that the class my daughter is in (along with about 5 other girls) were "incompetent fools with behavioral problems." Excuse me? My daughter hasn't missed a day of school for sickness in all her high school years, gets straight A's, takes all AP and gifted courses, has played on a VARSITY tennis team since freshman year, and ranks in the top ten percent of her senior class (out of over 1,000 students) and this woman has the nerve to call her incompetent? I don't think so. I have spoken before about my disdain for public school teachers and if I had to do it again, I would have sent all my children to private schools. Public schools are all about stamping out the individuality of students in favor of mass producing cookie cutter kids. This might serve kids well in high school, but it sucks for dealing in the REAL WORLD. I tell my children to stand up for themselves and speak out for themselves and when my daughter DOES, she gets told that "things aren't up for discussion and to be quiet." Screw that. I tell her they are miserable people and when she's successful she won't have them to thank because they failed her on so many levels. Just because someone is in a position of authority over you doesn't mean you have to sit back and let them try to tear you down.

I also wrote a letter to the owner of the plumbing company who screwed me over. I let it all rip out of me because I know how I am and if I do not let someone know when I am bothered, I can't stop obsessing over it or forget about it. So I write. Once the letters go out, I feel somewhat free of the obsession. It's like I need to get it all out of me and then I can move on--at least sort of. Anyway, I'm big on writing letters/notes/emails lately. You know you've crossed the line and gotten on my bad side if you get a letter from me.

I'm off to watch Nancy Grace.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sideline experts

Sideline experts can be found with their butts planted firmly in their chairs on the sidelines somewhere shouting advice and criticism like it's going out of style. The first time I had the "pleasure" of encountering this species, I was at a sporting event (can't remember which one at this point). Perfectly normal parents turn into people YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW when they are sitting on the sidelines. I used to sit among them and cringe or try to ignore their antics, but that proved to be of little help because sideline experts WANT TO BE HEARD. Anyway, the thing to remember about sideline experts is this: they never make a mistake or lose a game when they are sitting safely on the sidelines--they are incredibly perfect and knowledgeable while shouting their criticisms/advice out to those people ACTUALLY IN THE FIGHT DOING SOMETHING. It wasn't long before I found myself securing a spot away from the crowds when watching my children play sports. I did not care if I appeared aloof or antisocial or even snobbish because I felt any of those three descriptive terms would be preferable to being a SIDELINE EXPERT.

My husband has, on occasion, taken on the roll of a sideline expert, much to my chagrin. For as long as I have known him, on the day before Thanksgiving, he feels the need to tell me HOW TO CORRECTLY COOK A TURKEY SO THAT NONE OF US GET SICK AND DIE. It should be noted that no one has ever gotten sick from my cooking--EVER. It should also be noted that in the 26 years I've been married to him, he's NEVER COOKED A MEAL TO BE KNOWLEDGEABLE ENOUGH TO TELL ME HOW TO COOK A TURKEY. This annoys me to NO END. The first couple of times he did it, I let it pass without comment, but the last 7 years or so, I've told him to just shove it whenever he attempted giving me cooking tips on the turkey. I mean, he actually thinks I should take him seriously. It's completely insane. I told him to save that advice for himself the next time he buys a turkey and cooks it for us. Oh, and every night after we have Thanksgiving dinner he tells me that "next year we ought to just go out because it's just too much work for US!" Huh? Us? I mean, really. This is what I live with.

And now recently, I have taken on the task of painting the inside of our house. It's a big project, but there's something very calming about having a task ahead of me that takes patience. I like seeing the progress as I paint along--it makes me happy. My husband wanted to pay someone to do it but I'm confident I can paint walls with no problems. But all of the sudden, he's suddenly giving me painting tips--telling me what kind of roller I should be using, which way to paint the walls (up and down--not sideways!!), and that I need to use a drop cloth while I'm painting! Really? OMG. I never would have thought of using a drop cloth if he hadn't suggested it.

Anyway, the painting is coming along great despite my own personal sideline expert interfering at every turn.

Friday, December 5, 2008

This is what I want her to know

I think there are people that you never get over. I think if you love someone, really love someone, you give away a piece of your heart forever. And even though it's hard to learn to live without someone that you love, there's always a part of you that knows you would not have it any other way--you would not ever choose not loving someone to spare yourself a potential loss. It's hard to know what to do with the love you will always have for those people who have left your life for one reason or another. It's hard to fill the spaces left behind. It's difficult not to paint people who disappoint you in a bad light because it's natural for that sort of defense mechanism to kick in when you feel betrayed or abandoned. I think that the people you choose to love tells you a lot about yourself. I think that mostly it tells you not to spend even one second doubting your choices if your heart feels at home when you are with them--that finite time with the people that you love is better than no time at all--that love doesn't die on a schedule determined by other people, especially if your love is pure. I think there is no secret to getting over people you have loved because there are some people that you simply never get over.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

All good is NO GOOD

I hate plumbers. It all started yesterday when I noticed a constant drip coming from the shower head in my bathroom. I let it go overnight and when I woke up it was dripping even faster so I decided to call a plumber (which I got from the yellow pages). I was told someone would be at my home between 2-4 PM, so I waited around all day and finally at 5:45 two clowns show up at my door and I let them in. Mind you, I had been up since 4:50 AM this morning and simply wanted to get the leak fixed. The clowns took a look at my shower and told me that it was a cartridge that needed to be replaced so they leave to purchase one at Home Depot. Before leaving, they told me they needed to check the water pressure and when they did, I was told that my water pressure valve needed to be replaced so I quickly asked how much that was going to cost and was told a little over $350. I told them I would pass on that since I didn't want to spend the money on something I didn't really KNOW needed to be replaced. I mean, I had a drip in my shower and suddenly I need a new water pressure valve on top of that? I do not trust people who create more work for themselves (at my expense).

Anyhow, the clowns were gone until about 6:25 PM. Before they left I was told it would cost me $295 which I thought was WAY overpriced but since I'm not a plumber, what could I do? When the clowns come back I asked them if this was the standard price for replacing the cartridge and was told yes. I said I did not want to be ripped off and felt that the price was too high. I then asked how much the cartridge was (since he just bought it) and he actually hesitated a couple of times and said $30 or $40 dollars. Ok. Why wouldn't he know EXACTLY what the price was if HE JUST PURCHASED IT??? So then I asked if the labor was $250 and he told me yes it was but he seemed really flustered and told me "around there" when I questioned him about this which sort of sent some red flags up flying for me. I wanted the damn leak fixed so I told him to just get moving and fix it.

About ten minutes into a job that probably should have taken a total of 10 minutes, the clowns are in my bathroom and they can't unscrew something to get the old cartridge out so they are BANGING really hard on the pipe, and pulling at the valve REALLY HARD. It was all kinds of crazy and I felt this unease that they were hacking up the job. It takes the two of them to finally loosen it to get the cartridge out to replace it. They told me it was stuck because of mineral buildup. Whatever. He replaces the cartridge then has the other clown go turn the water back on and when he does, there's a whole bunch of gushing water and he tells me to tell the clown outside to turn the water off. He then informs me that he has to CUT A HOLE IN MY BEDROOM TO SEE WHERE IT'S LEAKING INSIDE THE WALL. OMG. What can I do? The carpet is all wet now and I'm freaking out because I think I'm doing the responsible thing by hiring a plumber to fix something I know I couldn't fix myself and NOW MY CARPETS ARE SOAKED AND HE HAS TO CUT A HOLE IN MY WALL!!!!

So he cuts the hole and then tells me that I need a new water valve because when he banged so hard to get the cartridge out, he broke it. He claimed that it wasn't installed properly in the first place but I call bullshit on that. I heard what he did to get the cartridge out and I knew instinctively that he was screwing something up (and I'm not even a plumber). So he then tells me a new valve is going to cost me OVER $600 (he actually went out to his van to get me a binder of his with prices in it but I'm pretty certain that if I went to buy the valve at Home Depot it would be under $100!!!), but he called his boss and since it wasn't my fault it broke and it wasn't HIS fault it broke (because now he was using the "it wasn't installed properly in the first place" excuse) that his boss agreed to give me a "DEAL" for the price of $495!!! I nearly hit the roof but I knew that would just create another hole that would need to be fixed so I decided to sit on my bed instead. I asked him if he was going to repair the hole in my wall as well (9x11) and his response was, "NO, I'm a plumber not a drywaller!!! OMFG! Mind you, the valve was working properly until he and the his cohort banged and pulled and jostled it around and BROKE IT!!!

The clowns then leave AGAIN to get the new water valve at Home Depot. While they were gone, I called the company and started complaining about what was going on and was told someone would call me back. The two clowns return with the valve at around 7:30 PM. When I got a call back, I explained the situation and the guy asked to speak to the clowns so I gave them my phone and when the phone got passed back to me, I was told that no one was taking advantage of me but that I was getting a deal. I screamed at him that it was clear that he wasn't going to help me and I hung up on him. Immediately afterwards, one of the clown's phones rings and the phone gets passed to me and I again try to explain the ridiculousness of the situation and how now on top of everything else I have a fucking HOLE in my wall and wet carpet and that I have to pay nearly $500 for a water drip!!! He tells me that I ought to be grateful that the clowns were at my house fixing THE VALVE THEY BROKE IN THE FIRST PLACE, and didn't I think that THEY wanted to be home at 8:25 PM at night with their families?

Um...........WTFFFFFFFFFF? I told him that I had been waiting since 2 PM for them and I didn't CARE about the plumbers feelings or if they wanted to be home with their families because I WAS PAYING THEM FOR A SERVICE!!! I told that asshole I wanted his men to fix the valve and GET OUT OF MY HOUSE and he says, "wow, we're really trying to help you here, ma'am," and I tossed the phone back to one of the clowns. I handed him a check and told him to GET OUT of my house and that I wouldn't sign anything and he stood there and wouldn't leave so I signed the paper to GET HIM OUT OF MY HOUSE!!! It was around 8:30 PM at that point and I was home alone with my two daughters. I DID NOT want them in my house a moment longer what with all the manufactured problems that were taking place--I felt as though it was in my best interests to get them out of my house before SOMETHING ELSE WENT WRONG WHILE THEY WERE THERE. OMG. Now I have this hole in my wall that I will need to pay to get fixed and I have wet carpet. When I told my husband this story (he's out of town) he freaked out and told me I should have waited to let HIM fix it even though the last time I fixed the toilets that were broken he kept telling me that I should call a plumber! This is a man who can't put together Lincoln logs so WHATEVER!!!

I'm really pissed off. I hate all service people. I think they rip everyone off and don't care one bit. If I could have fixed that thing myself I would have and that's what makes me even angrier. Maybe I should take some plumbing courses and learn to rip people off while I laugh all the way to the bank.

I'm off to take a shower with my new $495 water valve job. Merry Christmas to me.

PS. Those two clowns REEKED of cigarette smoke and made my house stink so bad I had to open all the windows and spray Febreeze all around and I CAN STILL SMELL THEM!! Disgusting!