In Which I Let Quiet Descend

I’ve never been a fan of winter and cold weather but one thing I do like about this time of year is driving home and watching spectacular sunsets over the rolling pastures. They seem much more….everything…than summer sunsets which don’t even show up until a toddler’s bedtime. I’m home today and I happened to glance out the window just now and it was all streaks of red and orange with a deepening blue sky behind them and so I bundled up and went outside to see it closer.

Then I walked around the yard and filled my wagon full of sticks and logs in case I make a fire later tonight or possibly tomorrow. The fire place is one of the best things about this house. This ugly house I’ve managed to fix up nicely, according to my mother. I believe her actual comment was, “Well, you’ve really done a good job on one of the ugliest houses I’ve ever seen.” This is a compliment to her and I’m still struggling to accept it as one. It’s as close as she gets.

And this calm-after-the-drama-storm of holiday #1 has also been restorative. Yesterday it was manipulation and arguments and tantrums and aggressive silence and making nice when I’d rather not have. Now, in the time I have left before regular life returns, I’m trying to find a quiet space, a quiet place to be.

This morning, I drove down and had breakfast with an old high school friend and her husband and I am proud to say I succeeded in having a really good conversation in which I said nothing weird or awkward (I hope) and didn’t put my foot in my mouth once (I think). At least my companions were gracious enough to not notice.

And soon I’ll drive back down in the dark and meet up with family members I enjoy and who seem to like me for what I am: a not perfect person with questionable taste who tries to be good and kind and doesn’t always manage it. Life is often one step forward and one-and-a-half steps back every day. Every week.

I should do some writing with the days I have left but I’ve become really good at making excuses not to. I think I’ve run out of them now. There aren’t any more projects, the household chores are minimal, there aren’t many distractions. So, perhaps I’ll take this gift of silence and turn it into something. Maybe I’ll stay up late, build a fire, pull up a blank document and….jump into the scary unknown.

Suffering Fools

I picked a fine time to leave Facebook, Lucille. Because PEOPLE are getting on my nerves and I have no outlet left to vent about them but here. So, here I’ll sit and ask you:

1. Why are the two most irritating and alike family members inundating me with multi-question emails? How did one become like the other? Why am I the solver of problems big and small? Why can’t they seek their own solutions? Here is my answer to these questions and all of theirs: I DONT KNOW! I don’t know. I. Don’t. Know.

2. Why are people who respond to craigslist ads so incredibly stupid? Why? If I mention in a post that I cannot bring the item up for sale to them because it will not fit in my car, why do they say, “Can you bring this to me 45 minutes away? ‘K, thanks!” Lady, can you READ? And then another responder wants to know where I am. Despite the fact that it’s in the HEADING of the ad. I am here. “Where’s that?” Do you not have the internet at your disposal? Can you not see the map attached to my post? WTF? What is wrong with people? WHAT?

3. And then the recommendation forms Dusty needs to apply to high school were apparently done wrong? Despite the fact that they are identical, they are different in some way I can’t discern and the wrong teachers filled out the wrong forms so blank ones were sent home with no explanation and the deadline? Is Monday. And today? Is the last day of school this week. Luckily, the teachers were more responsive to my emails and clearly much more helpful than the guidance counselor so my hope is that this little wrinkle will iron itself out by the end of the day. But still. W. T. F. I ask you.

It’s been one of those weeks and it’s Tuesday. I can only hope that this five-day holiday goes much more smoothly. Actually, this crap week was set in motion last Friday when my plan was to attend the second day of a two-day conference and then attend a funeral in the afternoon. But Red was feeling poorly and clearly needed a day of rest. So, plans were scrapped and we hung out at home, watching the Lego movie, the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special, and playing games all day – card games, Othello, Pay Day, Scrabble. Which ended up being a good thing but was not the day I had anticipated.

Being without my circles of friends (I do have messenger on my phone but I really can’t type out a rant with one finger because that’s when I spontaneously combust out of frustration at not being able to explain my frustration) has been difficult. I get little notifications via email but only responses to previous posts. Or tags. Images aren’t included. New posts are not included. So, I know a little of what’s going on in there but I’m out here. Tapping my feet impatiently waiting for the door to open again. I should be reflecting on what I’m learning by this exercise and what I’ve spent my time doing instead of monitoring my social media world of choice. But I’m not. If the days had been smooth with no hiccups, I could better stand it. It’s when the endless parade of piddly crap trips me up, that I find it hard. WHO CAN I COMPLAIN TO? Why do I need to complain to anyone? I don’t know. I guess I am not getting much validation via journal writing. The pen, the paper…they aren’t talking back. They aren’t giving me the virtual hug I need.

Why did I do this, you might ask? I’ve decided to do Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way again. With a friend, sort of, though our schedules are so opposite these days that getting together has been a challenge. And I have been going slower than one chapter a week. So, 6 weeks in I’m at chapter four which involves a week of reading deprivation.

No reading. For a week. Could you do it? Well, because I have to read for my job and because the amount of pleasure reading I’m doing these days is minute (I checked this for verification – I have read half the number of books this year than I normally read), I decided that the biggest time waster was FB. If I gave that up for a week – a mini Lent – perhaps I’d learn something. Giving up reading would perhaps not be a good thing work-wise and would make little discernible difference outside of work.

And I have learned something. I’ve learned that what I’ve done is cut myself off from my friends right when I needed them, caused a few people to taunt me unnecessarily, that no good personal deed goes unpunished. So, I’m going to think on that for the next two days when I can rise like a Phoenix from the ashes of the interwebs. Or something. I don’t know.

I. Don’t. Know.

The Backward Glance

I’m relentlessly looking forward these days. Which has meant going through old stuff and selling it. Crap I no longer need that others may have thought essential to a proper life and so thrust upon me in some effort to make me legitimate. Like the weird set of silver utensils that weren’t enough to add up to a real place setting unless you had invited a random assortment of woodland creatures to tea. Which, would kind of be cool. Except they wouldn’t really be expecting silver. They’d be happy with crumb cake served in acorn caps. I found a bunch of old silver quarters. And the pearl necklace I’ll never wear, that I have no attachment to, that no jewelry store will buy because apparently there’s a glut in the pearl necklace market. Our grandmother’s world is gone.

Included in the hodge podge was my wedding ring. That, I certainly have no more use for. It only cost $50 when we bought it 20 years ago. Thin and 14 carat gold, it served its purpose. The engagement ring, which had been my grandmother’s, I’ll keep. Not entirely sure where that is but I won’t sell it.

I made enough money to buy some Xmas gifts for the girls. I stopped by the consignment store and discovered I had a bit of money there too. On Sunday we hauled all the old metal barn roof pieces to the recycling place in the city and came away with a small amount of pocket change.

I’m not getting rich but I’m feeling lighter. There’s less stuff around, less junk, less of the past that I have no use for. It’s a good feeling. That anxiety over money and “how is this all going to work and what if calamity falls” feeling is dissipating. Next week, papers will be filed and then eventually signed and I will be a single person. I haven’t really been unattached since I was 16 except for a six-week period between boyfriends when I was recuperating from surgery. One of my boyfriends actually broke up with me after I got out of the hospital. I know that happens all the time – people are assholes like that – but it was a new experience to me and it pissed me off.

I suppose shallow people, faced with real life, bail out as soon as they can. Ironically, that same guy had said over and over during our relationship that we weren’t actually dating, weren’t actually a couple, decidedly NOT boyfriend and girlfriend. I’d driven my VW Bug into a snowdrift that served as a parking spot to meet him at the restaurant so he could give me back my stuff I’d kept in his bachelor room. So he could tell me we were done.

Oh, you’re done? Well, so am I. I’m done with a lot. With the vestiges of a life my mother felt was the only one worth living, a life filled with useless silver and china plates. Done with jewelry I’ll never wear and all the odds and ends that suddenly mean nothing.

I’ve glanced back and seen only detritus. Time to off load the baggage and move on.

Roller Coaster Life

Say life is a theme park (pick which ever theme you want). Each week, on Monday, you are back at the end of the rat’s maze line waiting to get on that fabulous roller coaster called The Weekend. Each twist of the line, each small step you take – hoping not to be jostled too much by the crowd around you and praying that guy on his phone doesn’t spill his coffee on you because you didn’t bring a change of clothes – gets you closer to Friday. On Monday, all you can see are the people ahead of you and the annoying family with all the bratty loud kids who are probably too small for this ride anyway.

Tuesday’s not much better. Now you’re really squashed in. If you want out now, you’re going to have to fight your way out between the guy eating the smelly sub sandwich (extra onions? Who does that?) and the metrosexual guy who doesn’t realize he’s actually gay even though he’s totally checking out the guy who’s already reached Friday and is climbing in a car, ready for the ride to begin.

Wednesday….well, you’re all in now. Right smack in the middle of this chaos. Might as well just tough it out. The annoying family has bailed (one kid had a reeking diaper and the girl just puked all over the mom – too much fun, the untouched dad says and gets The Look from his suffering wife who’s daydreaming about divorce proceedings) and the line lurches that much closer to Thursday.

Now, you can see the light at the end of the coaster tunnel. For real. Things are moving more briskly. A hot dog vendor comes by and you order a dog with mustard and a small coke to get you to the end.

And then! Friday! You finally get to board the car. And even better, you don’t have to share it with a stranger! The bar comes down automatically and zooooommmm! You take off! It’s either non-stop excitement or it’s a lazy slow ride through the Tunnel of Love (mine’s the Tunnel of Sleep, but this is Choose Your Own Adventure, so you can call it what you want).

Nevertheless, the ride’s over way too quickly and before you know it, the car comes to a halt and you’re ejected out and down the back stairs that don’t seem quite as sturdy as the entrance stairs. Probably because you can’t see these from the road, the path, the snaking line of expectant park guests. There’s a lot of trash back here at Sunday Night where scores of people failed to get their wrappers into the very large trash can. How could they miss it? Is it intentional? Are they so sad that it’s at an end that they just don’t give a damn anymore? Because as soon as they step down to the dirt and go around the ride to the park….it’s Monday again. Sucks.

Only thing for it is to get back at the end of the line and do it all over again.

At least, that’s how it feels to me. We’re finally back to regular, normal time and I wish it would just stay put. That time change thing is like a ride I only want to ever ride once. I can’t take it. The back and forth is painful. And this change was followed by a hard frost last night. The winds came in this weekend and blew away all the warmth and the beautiful leaves and now it’s cold and blustery and most of the trees are naked now.

My weekend (Tunnel of Solace) was spent mostly at home, quietly and alone. I got the gutters cleaned out (first leaf onslaught; there will be more once the maples on the far side give it up), brought in wood and lit a fire, cleaned and tidied and caulked up the worst spot at the base of my shower. I did a bit of writing, a lot of reading. I saw a movie with a friend and then picked up the kids and came home to a dark house with the stars already out and shining by 6:30pm. Oh well. It’s basically winter now for all intents and purposes. Who needs daylight at that hour when it’s too cold to enjoy it?

I’m turning my thoughts to all those looming holidays. The first of which falls on Dusty’s 14th birthday. There’s a roller coaster that moves even faster than the weekly one: the Watching Children Grow Up one. That one’s a doozy. When I began my first blog, back in 2004, Dusty was a toddler being potty trained and starting preschool with a new baby sister. Now, she’s almost in high school. Sigh.

Stop the ride, I want to get off.