Four Letter Words

Snow, for one. I cannot tell you how very sick I am of the sight of it, the thought of it. I want my yard back, my driveway, my life. I want the outdoors back. I want to take the compost out without having to put on boots and a coat and a scarf. I want to do it without cursing. I want routine and normalcy back. The kids have missed an unbelievable number of school days this winter. We’re just off an unscheduled four day weekend and today, a holiday for some (not me), was a make up day. Thank god.

We’ve used our time off well. We’re none of us ever bored. The kids are always doing something. They really aren’t snow people. None of us are big on winter so we’ve basically holed up in the house doing our various things – together and apart, in turns. Doors are closed and then opened again. It’s quiet, then noisy, then quiet again. It could be worse. We haven’t lost power this winter which has been a blessing. We’ve baked a lot. The kids made ice cream in their ice cream ball. We’ve eaten more than we should.

Dusty made this stunning squid for a client:


We baked pretzels for another. I began to clean the bedroom closet. I threw stuff out and took things to the consignment store (once I could get out). I vacuumed. Our idleness didn’t become sloth. Not entirely, anyway, and really could you blame us?  Everything we can do indoors has been done. We’ve lost interest in the Olympics but I’ve turned Dusty on to Veronica Mars and now the dvds can’t arrive quickly enough for her.

But, I need this white shit to be gone. I need to get to the garden. I need to open the windows. I need to be warm. I need to wear only one layer of clothing. I did say, I think, that February is always worse than January and it’s certainly proven me right this year. And I realize March is no magic charm with it’s fluctuating temperatures and sudden last minute snow falls like it had some left in the bag and its contract stated it must not pass go into April without emptying it out first. But March is at least a start. It’s the gate that opens to the pasture of spring. It’s a promise of BETTER.



In Which There is Simply Not Enough Time

Oh, Monday! How soon you show up again! Well, I did not get my entire to-do list done but I did tackle quite a bit.

* Clothing – yes, I gathered up stuff nice enough to take to the consignment store which I will do this week. I just took a giant IKEA bag (you know those really big blue bags they sell?) full of second tier clothes and things Dusty outgrew, that Red will never wear, to Goodwill.

* I hung the poster over my partially-organized writing desk. The next step is to use that space to actually write in. I seem to be doing a lot of thinking about writing these days versus actually writing. Oh well. It’ll come. I guess. Eventually.

* Monuments Men. Yes! I did this! My sister and I saw it in a theatre of fairly-quiet people! Unlike the theatre in which we saw Inside Llewyn Davis, where an ancient woman walked in and said, in her regular street voice (probably her only one), “This isn’t 12 Years a Slave? Is this 12 Years a Slave? It’s not 12 Years a Slave? Well, which theatre is that in? What is this? What movie is this? This isn’t 12 Years a Slave!” Lady, swear to god, get OUT. NOW. So help me….

* After the movie, I went to Target for shelf paper (which it did not have) and other things ($65 worth of Target things! Is it possible to spend less than $50 a trip there?). I found duct tape in child-approved colors and designs and said, fuck it, I’ll duct tape the inside of that crappy rusty medicine cabinet. Which I did. Because I’m either white trash and had never realized it before or….I’m an ARTIST. I’m going with the last one. I meant to take a photo of my ARTISTIC EXPRESSION, but forgot. Because I’m white trash. Which doesn’t make any sense but whatever. If you really want to see it, tell me and I’ll post a photo.

* Groceries were purchased, guinea pig cage cleaned, garbage and recycling went to the dump, laundry was done, beds were made, floors were swept, bathtubs scrubbed, date muffins were baked, etc. I was not idle. I stayed off the internet but watched tv. A little bit of the Olympics and a lot of Breaking Bad. Could I love Bryan Cranston any more than I already do? I did not think it was possible.

Sunday – TAXES. Were done. Federal AND State. Because I rule. And because I have to multi-task on weekends, I set up a pot of corn/quinoa soup beforehand (with rice instead of quinoa ’cause my 20th century Food Lion doesn’t seem to sell anything as fancy and modern as quinoa, the most ancient grain there is), started a loaf of bread in the bread maker, put more laundry in the washer and sat down and did the motherfucking taxes. And had a beer, chips and salsa for lunch afterwards. With a bread chaser. And read the paper. And a book! Yes. It was nice.

What did not get done:

* Closet. This is a much bigger task than I’d imagined which I discovered as I was going through clothes. It’s a multi-step process that might happen next weekend. Or might not. It’ll get done soon. In this calendar year. I reckon.

* Printer. Yep, didn’t even turn the thing on.

* Games. Games are still where they were. It occurred to me that I should probably paint the hangout room BEFORE I start piling stuff in the closet (which also needs painting) so I’m not doing that task twice.

* Potting soil. Nope. Nobody has potting soil in February. This is a tragedy and a bit presumptuous, I think. What better time to tend to houseplants than the depths of winter? Might try a hardware store soon, though. Maybe they have a couple bags. This is especially crucial because one of the blueberry plants is in a pot that is falling apart. This winter has been so brutal it’s broken the plastic pot. I hope the plant’s not dead.

* Exercise videos. Yeah, didn’t get to that either. Not a big surprise, I’m sure. I did take the plastic off and that annoying sticker at the top (why do CDs and DVDs require so much plastic and tape?) but I didn’t get any farther than that.

But, at least I’ve guaranteed a to-do list for NEXT weekend!

I’ve Got a Little List

One of the downsides of divorce and separation is the whole divorce and separation thing. Not that I regret anything. Far from it. That’s like regretting that the doctor put a cast on your broken arm. It’s painful while you heal and you are unable to do all the things you used to when you had two usable arms but there’s no alternative, is there? Just a completely different and unacceptable amount of pain and discomfort. I can’t help thinking of Cash Bundren in As I Lay Dying whose broken leg is “set” with concrete. I don’t recommend you try this at home.

Anyway, one of the upsides (for this introvert) is the weekends I have alone, by myself, without the children I love more than anything. Even more than beer and pumpkin pie (together, separate, I ain’t choicey).

This will be the first weekend I’ve had that doesn’t involve painting a room. What will I do with all this time on my hands, you ask? Well, I am a list maker. I make lists and then I subdivide the tasks and make lists within lists. Lists of things I need to purchase/procure when I have money (should that time ever arrive). Things like a dishwasher, a tv and sofa for the kids’ future hang-out room, a new mattress, a frame for that mattress (yes, I’ve been living like a hippie for WAY too long), a new roof, a new kitchen floor, a beach vacation.

Then there are the tasks that need doing but not right this minute. Those include repapering the inside of the kids’ bathroom medicine cabinet with shelf paper. One of my biggest regrets when that bathroom had to be gutted (black mold) and made brand new ($$) was that in my best penny-wise-pound-foolish mode, I decided to keep the rusted medicine cabinet to save money. Really, I shouldn’t have done this. That was stupid. Not as stupid as pouring concrete on a broken leg or staying in a broken relationship, but still. I should have replaced it with an inexpensive new cabinet. Der. One day I’ll be smart enough, right?

Other tasks on that list: recaulking various bathroom fixtures – showers, tubs, etc. I actually own that caulk-ripping-out tool and got very good at caulking at previous houses. I haven’t had to do it much in this one. But when you’ve lived in the same place for awhile (10 years), it becomes necessary. Also, I’m working up to attempting to dismantle the kitchen faucet to fix the leak. I’m a little afraid that I’ll break something and I’ll end up needing the plumber I probably should have called in the first place. Sigh. What to do, what to do?

The list for this weekend is thus (and I don’t really expect to get it all done; a lot depends on what I feel like tackling as some tasks require the proper mood):

* Consignment store – gather all the unneeded spring clothes for the consignment store. Next week is intake week. I have stuff, Dusty has stuff.

* But, before I do that, I have to go through the clothes and put them in categories: stuff to save back for Red, stuff for consignment (mostly mine), stuff for Goodwill.

* Clean bedroom closet. Organize everything, figure out what stays and what can be kept elsewhere, toss the unneeded. My closet is a bit of a disaster. Here are two photos that illustrate this:


It’s a mess. Above are my sweaters and lots of various crap that is just there for lack of anywhere else to be. It’s also what comes of sharing a closet with someone and then…not. Things get shuffled. My wardrobe holds my pants, skirts and dresses. My black shoe collection, such as it is, is there on the floor.


And here’s more crap on the other side! Lots of photographs and bins and boxes of kid art. God, I hate those metal shelves. I just don’t have the wherewithal or the money to replace them with actual shelves that things won’t fall through. The stuff on the far right are items that don’t fit or are rarely worn (couple coats, etc) anymore. The blouses at the back are my current things though those need winnowing as well. I mean, if I only ever really wear 30% of THAT, I really shouldn’t own the other 70%, should I? Probably not.

* Taxes. Yeah, that’s probably the #1 thing to do this weekend. Last time ever having to file as “married, filing jointly” praise jesus. I have always done the taxes. Always. Forever. And it will be nice to only have to do them for ME going forward. This onerous annual task has never been appreciated by the other beneficiary. That’s gonna change, I think. Maybe.

* Make the printer work. Jesus, this printer. With its fancy wifi thing that never ever reads the computer properly and is just easier to use tethered. Whatevs, printer. For a long time I had no ink. I bought ink and now it’s not acting like a grown up. I may have to punch it. I don’t want to have to order yet another printer head. Pain in the ass but I need to make it work again.

* Organize writing desk and hang Lynda Barry poster. Finally framed my Poodle with a Mohawk poster from college and in order to hang it over my writing desk, I need to organize the desk and the crap around it. I’ve spent two months shifting piles of things, trying to figure out how to make my life inside my house work to my advantage and it looks like it’ll be a long-term project. Is there really an end point to this? Or, am I fooling myself? I don’t know.

* Look at exercise videos. The pre-separation months (read: year) caused a bit of weight gain. I’m not real happy about it but I haven’t had the time or energy to do anything about it. Now that I’m starting to have the energy (but still not really the time), I’m beginning to change a few habits. At Costco the other week, I picked up an exercise video two-pack by Weight Watchers. 10 and 20 minute routines that focus on my particular trouble areas (ie, everything between my neck and ankles) but I haven’t had a chance to even remove the plastic yet. First baby step is to put them in the DVD player and see what I’m in for and if I can find time in front of the tv to actually do them. More regularly than once a month.

* Potting soil and repot houseplants. When I moved from an office with a window to one without, I took home all of my previously happy, though neglected, plants. They desperately need to be fertilized, repotted and moved to a party sunny window in the house. But where? When? I don’t know. The first step is to purchase a bag of potting soil (hard to come by in February) and fix them up right. At the moment, they’re lucky I remember to water them. They are just more clutter.

* Put games in back room closet. This seems like a pretty straight forward task. Now that Dusty’s room is finished, I can move all the board games from two different shelves in the linen closet space outside the kids’ bathroom and into the future hang out room (where she’d temporarily put all her stuff while I painted). But! Dusty’s crap is still piled up in that closet and she is perhaps the laziest human on the planet these days and only does things when threatened and cajoled. I get tired of being the cajoler. If I have the stamina, I will toss all the rest of her crap in her room (which may force her to deal with it or it may just be a pile of crap she walks around for 6 months until I begin to threaten her again), and move all the games. These multi-step tasks are the hardest to accomplish.

* See Monuments Men. This, I can guarantee you, will happen. A movie with THREE of my secret boyfriends starring in it? I should probably put this at the top of the list so that when I cross it off, I’ll get that feeling of accomplishment that comes of doing nothing more than spending $7.50 and sitting in the dark for 2 hours.

Anger Management

It’s been another week of mangled and headache-inducing schedule changes. More snow, more school closings, more trying to figure out how to DO IT ALL. I am realizing that as much of the negativity as I’ve been shedding lately, I’m still carrying a lot of my old anger around. Stress has been eating away at the wall I’ve built that protects me from the slights and stupidity of others and the baggage from old and used up relationships.

I don’t know why I think people who exude negativity will suddenly act differently and that I can have a normal encounter with them, because they won’t ever change. I know this. But I let down my guard in a weak moment and found myself back in the mire. Oh, right, you don’t give a shit. You did the pointless unasked for task and expected gratitude but didn’t do any of the small, helpful things that would have gotten you that “thank you” you were fishing for. This whole “not caring about anyone but yourself” thing. The whole “I don’t need a cell phone, I’m just the other parent and don’t need to be reached and anyway my job’s sacred so I can’t help when I’m teaching.” Yes, my bad. How soon I forget.

Oh, right, mom, this is why I never tell you anything because you’re just going to turn it around and bash my dad. Yeeaaahh. Like that’s what a daughter needs to hear. Don’t you realize how wrong that is? To tell me these things? No. Of course not. You never have and never will. I must have lost my friggin’ mind to think otherwise. I really should know better. I do know better. I just forgot for a second there and paid for it.

The two antagonists in my life are very similar. Some girls marry their fathers. I married my mother, in many ways. Self-absorbed with an innate feeling of entitlement. A learned helplessness and fatalistic attitude that is infuriating. Everyone else is to blame for their problems. Oh, easier to do nothing than attempt to do something, anything, try to fix this or that, or consider a better option. Anything but the inertia that forces the other person to clean up the mess, solve the problem, do the things. The sick co-dependent relationships I was stuck in stirred me up like Little Black Sambo’s tiger. I wanted the nice pants and jacket and ended up a puddle of fury butter around the Tree of Wasted Effort.

I really am working on all this. In my spare time. I really thought I’d made some progress dealing with my mother but it’s been tested these last two weeks by too many visits to her and her cat-stink house where everything is filthy and nothing is where it should be. The toaster oven is in a closet (that’s not really a closet) on a filing cabinet pushed so far back in the darkness I can’t see the knobs? What in the fuck IS THAT? How can you live like that? Why is there not a single dish towel to be found? In this house I grew up in, I can’t find a single useful object that isn’t covered in a layer of dust. Could there possibly BE more baskets filled with….junk, garbage, useless nothings, junk mail, expired coupons, old bottles of ointment and used dryer sheets? Is there a single jar, can or bottle that isn’t EXPIRED? It’s hell created by lunatics. Hell that smells like cat pee. And yes, I’ve made a point of keeping the litter pans (there are three!) scooped. It’s not helping. Nothing but burning the place to the ground will help.

I am looking forward to a calm and relaxed weekend. The snow will melt before the rain begins. The temperatures will rise a bit. We all might go out tomorrow to dress shop (Dusty has a Bat Mitzvah to attend soon and has outgrown the one dress she owns), attend a friend’s birthday party, and eat a restaurant meal I can’t afford. But, money worries are somehow easier to deal with than anger over people obstacles. Money is a tangible, solid thing I have a bit of control over. Mean, selfish, sullen, crazy people, I do not.

I know I can only control my reaction to things, and not necessarily the things themselves, but sometimes, there are just too many THINGS. Too many things at once. Too much bad awful horrible weather. Too many screwed up work/school days. Too much useless menopausal PMS. Too many people needing too much from me.

So, yeah, I’m a little tired right now. But next week is a new week and a new month (though, frankly, between you and me, I always find February harder to get through than January. I know! We’re all in for it, aren’t we?). Perhaps I can conjure up a new attitude. Maybe. We’ll see.