Monday, September 26, 2011

The Mailman Will Not Be Pleased...

When I was a kid, I was blessed to have family that encouraged my voracious love of reading. One way they did this was to keep me in magazine subscriptions. Over the years, I received several magazines, including Cricket (which I still think is an amazing children’s magazine) and Writer’s Digest.

As an adult, I’ve subscribed to lots of different publications. I still love magazines, and I especially love receiving them in the mail. In the last year, I’ve found some great deals on magazine subscriptions, and I currently subscribe to Redbook, Glamour, Everyday with Rachael Ray, and O: the Oprah Magazine. Since J. also loves to read, he gets Popular Mechanics and Popular Science. I have several magazines on my wish list: Mental Floss, National Geographic, The Bark, and Games Magazine are among the items on that list.

Amazon has been running specials on subscriptions. I have a fairly large credit with Amazon. Today I ordered us two new subscriptions: Cat Fancy and Smithsonian.

I’m beginning to think I have a problem.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

If it's not one thing...

...it's my mother.

You'd think that, by the age of 35, I would be accustomed to my mother’s particular brand of crazy.

Mom isn’t nutty like a character in a movie. She’s not psychotic like Norman Bates. And she’s not eccentric like Dwight Schrute. She doesn’t view the world normally, but she can’t see that the way she thinks about things isn’t normal. Since she's functional, and since some of her ideas even seem logical (on the surface), it’s hard for outsiders to understand why she drives me so batshit crazy.

Let me give you some examples. After my dad left when I was five, my mom never cooked another meal. Never. Not once. Her logic was that the time it would take for her to cook for the two of us, including grocery shopping, preparing meals, and cleaning afterward, wasn’t really justified for only two people. It was cheaper, in her mind, to eat fast food for every meal. So that’s what we did. Here’s another one: your clothes don’t really get dirty if you don’t leave the house. I may use this idea to justify wearing the same pajamas for a couple of nights. Mom uses it to justify wearing the same shirt and pants around the house for days on end. Literally. J. and I went over there not long after we’d moved back to Dallas, and she had on a shirt that was so filthy it had a sheen and smelled awful! The worst part is, she doesn’t get that it's not normal, so she's not embarrassed. J. and I were already married, so he knew all about her, but I was still horrified for him to see her like that.

Over the course of my life, I’ve often wished that she could just be a normal person, even if she couldn't be a normal mom. But I've mostly adjusted to her craziness. I know it takes her forever to do anything, and I can plan for that. But her narcissistic behavior is appalling, and it still hurts. I called her last week to let her know that we would be moving, and the first thing she said was, “Oh, but I didn’t get to see the house you’re in now!” And if that weren’t enough, she sent me a text an hour later asking if I’d take some photos of our current home. She lives 20 minutes away, and has had a open invitation to visit (with notice) during the entire 16 months we’ve lived here! I didn’t reply to the text, but a week later, I’m still stewing over it.

I’m so exhausted by everything always being about her. I know it’s part of her illness, but sometimes I want the mommy I've never had. When J. told his mom the story about our crazy landlord and impending move, her first words were, “How can I help?” Not only were those not my mom’s first words, she hasn't said them at all. This isn’t the first time her narcissism has upset me. When I married the first time, it was all about her, which led to me not being able to have a traditional wedding. And when I got divorced, it was all about her, which led to me having to comfort her (since she was grieving her own divorce all over again) instead of her comforting me.

I really shouldn’t be surprised by her reactions anymore, but every time this happens, it hurts. And it brings up all the old hurts that I can't get over. I just don't know how to get past them. I would do anything to help mom if she sought treatment, but after all this time I've given up hoping for that. As she gets older, I'll always make sure she's cared for, but my feelings for her are such a tangled mess. The honest truth is that I strongly dislike the woman who gave birth to me. That feeling stirs up guilt, which stirs up anger (because I know I shouldn't really feel guilty, since I didn't make her the way she is), which makes me like her even less.

Sigh. Maybe *I* should go to therapy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vacation Question

Thanks to RoseAnn for the following challenge questions:

Do you have a vacation coming up? This includes long weekends, trips to visit family, anything that has you staying a night anywhere but your own bed.

~ There is no vacation in sight. We planned to travel this Christmas, but we’d already decided it probably wasn’t going to work out. And my new boss is going on a cruise with her entire family over Christmas, so I definitely won’t be able to take time off. The only time I may stay a night out of my own bed is this Thursday, if we take the cats to the new place that night. I don’t want to leave them alone, so we may sleep on the floor there (the movers are coming Friday morning).

If money/work/pet care weren't obstacles, where would you go on your next vacation?

~ If money, etc. were no object, I’d find a tropical resort where I wake up in the morning and have breakfast in bed. Then I ring a little bell and two large men would carry me to the beach, where I’d sit all day with a fruity drink in one hand and a book in the other. When I was done with relaxing on the beach, I’d ring the bell again and be carried back to my room to enjoy an amazing dinner with J. I would be completely, utterly, totally lazy for four days or so. I think I’d be ready to get back to real life after that. Surely such a place exists…right?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Anyone Out There?

It's been so long since I've written regularly that I'm having trouble getting back into the habit. I find it difficult to get my thoughts on paper, so I'm asking my readers - if any of you are left - to help me.

Ask me a question, please.

It doesn't matter what the question is; I doubt anyone could ask something that I'd consider too personal. And it can be silly, too. I just need some help getting my creative juices flowing again.

Any/all replies are appreciated.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What a Nightmare!!!

Life has been crazy lately - way crazier than I'm comfortable with. The transition at work has been chaotic, to say the least. J. lost eligibility for financial aid 9 days before the fall semester started. The earliest he'll be eligible for more aid is spring 2013. So that was a major stressor. My grandmother was hospitalized, and I was very afraid we might lose her. She's home now and is doing better, but she's almost 91; reality is setting in that we don't have much more time with her. And then there was this past weekend. I've told the story so many times this week, and I simply don't have the energy to write it into a narrative again. Here's the very concise version of what happened:

Sunday, mid-morning: our cable signal cuts off

We contact the cable provider, who says the signal is fine on their end

J. goes around our house (a four-unit rental) to check the lines

Our cable line is cut (not disconnected - cut). A brand-new coaxial cable runs from the port we had been using into the unit behind us.

We contact our landlord's representative via text message. (Our actual landlord lives in Trinidad.) No response.

J. reconnects our line as best he can. We get a partial signal back, enough to manage until Thursday, the earliest time our cable provider has an appointment available.

Ten minutes later, our signal goes out again.

J. goes around back again, where he catches our neighbor (of less than 2 weeks) and his friend unhooking our cable and hooking in their line in again.

A discussion and then confrontation ensues. Because of the tone of the argument, I call 911.

I call landlord's representative. No answer.

J. call's landlord's representative. No answer. J. leaves angry (but not abusive) voice mail.

Four patrol cars arrive in quick succession. Police find drugs, a shotgun, and two handguns (at least one of them stolen) in the cable-cutter's apartment.

90 minutes later, landlord's representative (LR) calls J. back on his cell phone. Neither J. nor I are home at this time, nor are we together. When J. says "Hello," LR is instantly screaming obscenities, calling both J. and I names, and threatening us physically. LR says that we have to be out of our apartment by the end of the day.

Since we have a lease and are not in violation of it, we tell him to go fuck himself. He threatens us both again, says that he will do whatever is necessary to get us out of our home, and says that he is encouraging the cable-cutter to file criminal charges against J. for threatening him with a knife (even though J. did not have a knife or any other weapon when the confrontation happened, and even though the cable-cutter didn't mention a weapon when the police were on-scene).

As you can imagine, Sunday night was bad. We got very little sleep, and my stress level was so high that I couldn't even keep water down.

When we originally rented this place, we had a different landlord, but he sold the property in December 2010. We called him Sunday night, and he said he had some units available. I called in sick to work on Monday, and we met with our former landlord. We rented the first apartment he showed us, and are moving next Friday.

Our current landlord has been notified of all that happened, and we've asked him to voluntarily terminate our lease. He hasn't given us an answer yet, but we'll move regardless. We simply don't feel safe here anymore. And it certainly doesn't feel like a home anymore. If he refuses to terminate our lease, we'll let him begin eviction proceedings when we don't pay our October rent, and we'll see what the judge has to say about all this.

With all this craziness, we're excited about the new place. It is 33% larger than this apartment, and it's laid out better, so it feels much larger. It has room for both our stand-up freezer and a washer/dryer, so we will be able to have both down the line. It has wonderful windows for the cats, and much better storage space. It has the biggest kitchen of anywhere we've ever lived, and I get to have a real pantry again!!!

Of course, there are some downsides. The new apartment has carpet (we prefer wood floors). It doesn't have a dishwasher (very common for this area), but we've lived without a dishwasher before. And it's upstairs.

The pros outweigh the cons by a lot, so we're happy overall. But it's going to be a stressful - and expensive - couple of weeks. I've really had about all I can handle of both stress and extra expenses. I'm trying to just take it day by day, but I'm concerned that if life doesn't give me a break soon, I'm going to have to up my dosage on my meds. I only wish I was joking.

Sigh...we'll get through this...we always do.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering

I have never been to New York. For almost ten years, I have known that when I finally get to visit, I will see Yankee Stadium, Rockefeller Center, Tiffany & Co., and FAO Schwarz. I will eat a hot dog from a vendor on the street, and try to decide if New York pizza is the best. And I will visit a firehouse – maybe more than one – and say, “thank you.”

But a few days ago, it dawned on me that “thank you” is not at all what I want to say. I want – and need – to say “I will remember.”

On September 11, 2001, I was 25 years old. I was single, having emerged from a 5 ½ year relationship a few months earlier, and I was enjoying being unattached. I indulged my wild streak; I drank entirely too much. I had fun with my friends, and I was planning a trip to Las Vegas in October for my best friend’s wedding. It would be the first time I flew. Like it was for most people, that morning was utterly normal. I was getting ready for work and listening to the local morning show when one of the on-air personalities broke in with news that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but the announcement was given almost in passing. At that point, everyone thought a small plane had hit the tower accidentally.

As I drove to work, coverage of the events was nonstop. By the time I arrived at work, a few minutes late as usual, the second plane had hit. I went to my desk, and the two girls who reported to work before me asked what was wrong. They had no idea what had happened. I remember not being able to access news websites; the fact that I couldn’t find out what was happening added to my anxiety. Someone located a television and put it in a conference room in our area, but watching the coverage was worse, in some ways. I remember that I was watching the tv when people began to jump from the burning towers; a woman was eating at the conference table, and I wondered how she could keep her food down while watching people die.

Very little work was done that day. I spent the evening with my friend R.J., the man who would become my boyfriend and then husband. We watched continuing coverage, but I was numb. On October 11, 2001, I flew to Las Vegas for my friend’s wedding. When we arrived at DFW Airport, there were soldiers with machine guns at every entrance. It was real then; life would never be the same. In Las Vegas, we went to the New York, New York hotel. A makeshift memorial had been established along the railing by the Statue of Liberty. There were lots of unsmoked cigarettes woven among the notes and flowers. My friend made a comment about “why the hell are people leaving cigarettes???” I looked at what I was carrying: my ID, a little money, a camera and extra film, the hotel room key, and my cigarettes and lighter. People left cigarettes because they needed to leave something, and all they could leave behind was a cigarette.

In the news over this past week, I’ve heard reporters say that 9/11 was a dividing line: there was Before and now we live in After. I believe that; I know that 9/11 changed me. The thing that struck me then, and that still strikes me now, is that Tuesday, September 11, 2001 was just another day. The people who died woke up and went about their lives. I picture a husband and wife, bickering in the kitchen that morning. She leaves for work, and because of their argument, doesn’t kiss him goodbye. As she gets onto the subway, she thinks how silly the fight was, and how she’ll kiss him twice that evening to make up for it. But she doesn't come home that night, or ever again.

I say, “I love you” to J. at least five times a day. We say it so often that some might say it loses its meaning, but that is not true. I say it so often because I do mean it so deeply, and if something happens to me or to J. while we are apart, it’s important to me that those words were said. I’ve always been an emotionally-present person, but 9/11 made me even more that way. When I care for someone, I tell them. I celebrate the lives that matter to me every single day.

I will remember the lives lost on 9/11. I will remember the heroism, the loyalty, and the compassion for fellow men that was shown by so many during that time of crisis. And I will remember that the names carved into those fountains are not just names. Each one was a person, someone who had a favorite food, a pet peeve, a silly thing they were afraid of. Each one had embarrassing personal stories, and regrets, and dreams for the future. Each one was a life - a life that deserves to be remembered.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Taking a few minutes...

I haven’t had time to even think about blogging in ages. My office move has kept me very, very busy, but – for the most part – has been a good experience. I love being so much closer to home, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with an interim property manager who is an amazing person and who will be a wonderful resource as I continue to build my career in property management. The new, permanent property manager starts work on Monday. I’m a little nervous, but she seems nice enough, and she has a great deal of experience in the industry. I’m hoping that working for/with her will be a good thing.

J. started the fall semester, and he is enjoying his classes. We had a major hiccup with his financial aid, which caused a ton of stress, but we were able to sort out this semester. And we have some time to figure out how to handle it going forward. I’ll write more about that in a separate post, because it will definitely be a rant, and I don’t want to get my blood pressure up right now.

J. and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary on August 28. We had a quiet day, just enjoying each other’s company. In some ways, I can’t believe it’s already been two years; in others, it feels like we’ve been together forever, and I’m amazed that it’s only been two years. I am still so happy; I’m more in love with him now than I was the day we got married. It’s difficult to put into words, but being with exactly the right person is amazing. He is everything I needed in a husband – and that’s a strong statement. What I mean is that he’s not necessarily what I would’ve wished for, and he might not have all the qualities I would have wished for if I’d made a list for “my perfect husband.” But the universe knew exactly what I *needed* and which man would be the perfect husband for me. J. is that man, and I feel blessed beyond measure every single day to be his wife.

I’m reading as much as I can, but I’ve been trying to get a few projects done around the house, so that has cut into my downtime some. I decided to import all our cd’s into iTunes over Labor Day weekend, and was shocked by how long it took! I’m really happy now that it’s done, but I’ll be buying an external hard drive very soon, so I don’t lose all that work if our computer crashes! With work and life being so busy, I’m trying to take it easy and relax as much as I can. I know that I don’t do well at 90 miles per hour for an extended length of time, so I’m babying myself when I can.

I’m excited for the day I can write regularly again. I miss it; I think that alone says how good writing this blog has been for me! I hope that I still have a few followers, and that you’ll read and comment when you can. Wishing you all the very best…

Thursday, September 1, 2011

August 2011 Book List

Everyone knows I’m a voracious reader, and I’m often asked for recommendations. I decided that on or around the first of each month, I’ll post a list of the books I read the month before. I give each book a numeric rating, from 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent. I do not generally rate non-fiction works; those will be shown with a rating of N/A.

Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva - Rating: 4

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris - Rating: 4.5

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch – Rating: N/A - this was a *phenomenal* book, and I highly recommend it to all bibliophiles.

Club Dead by Charlaine Harris - Rating: 4