Category Archives: Daily Life

Nuances of a New Home

Some folks call them quirks. They’re all those little things that don’t work quite like they should, and usually we don’t encounter the same quirk twice. I’ve lived in a lot of places, and each of them had little nuances of their own, distinctions indigenous to that particular home.

I’ve been in my apartment since the first of October, and I’m still figuring some of these things out. I now know that not all over-the-door hangers will fit every door in the place. For space savers, I bought three of one type. That type fit one door but not the other two. That little adventure cost me several returns and a small fortune in gas mileage to get the project right. Which tells me that not every door in my apartment, even though they are identical, has the same spacing between them and their facings overhead.

Figuring out the little things that make this apartment unique from every other place I’ve ever lived has been both intriguing and, I’ll admit, a little frustrating. When the upstairs neighbor moved out, she was kind enough to pass down her fairly new window air conditioner. Maintenance put it in the window for me while I was at work one day, and they expended all sorts of time and attention to seal it against the weather. My discovery after work that evening was that the cord was too short to reach the nearest outlet.

That’s when I noticed that there are no outlets under any of the windows in the entire apartment. I guess that’s not such a big deal, and I can certainly buy an air conditioner extension cord at the hardware store. And so I did. I was in Lowe’s looking for something else when I stumbled across the very one I needed. I scooped it up to accompany my other purchases.

Even though it’s winter, I wanted to go ahead and at least put the extension cord onto the air conditioner’s cord so that it wouldn’t end up packed away someplace where I would only be able to find it if or when I ever moved out. I unwrapped it from its protective twisty-tie state, pealed all the paper off, and attached it to the air conditioner’s pre-installed cord. The nearest outlet was behind the stove, so I draped the cord behind it while I leaned in close, trying to get my head between the stove and the wall, being careful not to bang my precious scalp on the kitchen cabinets in the process. I must’ve looked like an expert billiards player the way my body was draped over the counter.

I could see the outlet, and yes, it looked like it would work just fine. Except that both the stove cord’s plug and the air conditioner cord’s plug were both turned the same way. Either would fit, but not both at the same time.

I’ll revisit that issue come late spring.

The biggest frustration has been how the oven, regardless of what’s inside or at what temperature, sets off the smoke detectors. One of them speaks. If you can remember and imagine clearly the last time you heard the digital voice at the DMV announce robotically, “Now serving C4, at window number 3,” then you have heard my smoke detector. Only instead of announcing kindly that it is now someone else’s turn, it tells me instead, between shrill bleats of ear piercing noise, “Fire. Please exit the building. Fire. Fire. Fire. Please exit the building.”

I was only reheating a slice of pizza. Nothing was burned. There was no smoke. And yet every time I turn the oven on, for whatever reason, temperature, or length of time, the smoke detectors get excited.

I have three of them.

When I first moved in I wanted to roast a duck. It was to be a small treat for myself for possessing the ability to pick up, dust off, and move on. Not quite celebratory of the events, but more in acknowledgement of them. It was only a small duck. To do it the way I like requires five hours of slow roasting and intermittent yet frequent turning, slowly rendering the fat, and piercing the remaining fat with each turn. I thought I would put a fan in the living room window, facing outward, to make sure the smoke detectors didn’t wake up.

There’s no outlet under my living room window. The fan had to sit on top of something out in the living room floor and just do its best to aim carefully at the open window. Only once did I have to open the doors and fan a dishtowel under each of the three detectors to silence them. The duck was worth it though, all crispy and tender, and with a cherry sauce I’d made to go with it. I even made some bread stuffing. I figured since I already had the fan situated in the living room, it couldn’t hurt.

Mostly, though, for everyday purposes and convenience, I just use the microwave.

As long as I don’t push ‘start’ while the refrigerator is running, everything works fine.

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REMINDERS

There was a time in my young adult life where money was incredibly scarce. It was a time when I argued with the cashier at a grocery store for taxing the cents-off coupon I’d used to help make my money go farther.   It was a time when cornmeal was a staple because, at the time, it was virtually free. It was a time when store-bought cigarettes were for use while out in public. At home, we rolled our own. The brand name was Bugler.

I remember working various low-paying jobs to pay the bills, keep the lights on, and keep gas in the car so that I could get back and forth to one low-paying job after another. I sold sweepers, folded and hung clothes at a discount department store, and sewed seat seams on would-be over-priced slacks in a textile factory using an industrial size sewing machine. I temped at business offices when I could get the work, and mostly we just scraped by.

When I got my current job, nearly 20 years ago, I didn’t have to roll my own anymore. I could buy cigarettes in packs just like everybody else. The grocery bill got higher with the better foods my paycheck could support and my rent was finally paid on time. I had received my last disconnect notice on a utility I’d often wondered how I would survive without.   When that first paycheck came in I was ecstatic. I had a pouch and a half of Bugler left over and wasn’t sure whether to toss it out, give it away, or keep using it until it was gone. Something told me to hang onto it. I decided to keep it as a reminder of just how bad things can get.

Since that first paycheck I’ve left three husbands, moved five times, bought a house, been promoted once, became a grandmother twice, and bought three vehicles. And although the unit that houses it is different, that pack of Bugler is still in my freezer, untouched save for the reminder it provides, sealed in a Ziploc baggie to preserve its original state, and in the door so that it’s the first thing I see when I retrieve my daily frozen meal.

Suffering from empty nest syndrome (not a clinical diagnosis, I know) I picked up a second job at a local restaurant to fill the time. As it was, I got off work on Friday afternoon and then just sat and waited until Monday.  I watched a lot of television and went on randomly circuitous drives. I was in a state of seemingly constant restlessness. It took about six weeks of solitary in my apartment before it hit me what was happening. Complete and utter silence. I also realized that it was the first time ever that I’d lived alone. Throughout all the life changes in my adult history that had me living in many different places, I always had my children with me. I didn’t realize how much company and comfort they provided while they were at home.

Silence really can be deafening.

As soon as I figured out what it was that was bothering me, that something you can’t quite put your finger on but drives you nuts trying to figure it out, I was okay with it. I grew to sort of like the silence. Until I got bored, that is. Which apparently happens pretty quickly in my world. So I picked up the second job to fill some time, to get me out of my apartment, and to put me around other people. With those measures, I believe I have successfully prevented depression from setting in.

I work the second job on the weekends, and maybe one or two evenings during the week. I guess I don’t really need the money, although it does help to have the extra on occasion. Every shift, though, I see my new part-time and incredibly young co-workers struggling to make enough money to pay their light bills, put gas in their cars, keep a kid in diapers, and buy that new tire they need.

I catch myself wondering how they make a life for themselves on such few wages. And then I remember that I used to be them. I come home, bone tired from the extra work, and open the freezer. I reach past the shoulder height pouch and a half of Bugler for an ice cube to cool my Diet Pepsi, and I’m grateful that I don’t have those struggles anymore, that I haven’t had them for almost twenty years.

Sometimes I’m tempted to buy a pack of papers and roll one of those things just to see if the freezer and/or the Ziploc baggie have done their respective jobs to preserve the contents of the little green and black pouches.

Somehow I think that some reminders are best served intangibly, with a side of nostalgia, and garnished with gratitude.

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What’s for Dinner?

Just reading the title you’ve already thought of the last few places you’ve repeatedly visited, and maybe even the conversation that preceded the chosen destination.

“Let’s go out.”

“Okay; where?”

“Oh, I dunno, you pick.”

That conversation loops around until a decision is finally made. Chances are good that there are no new restaurants in your area, and the one you pick, just like all the others, has a menu that you now know mostly by heart.

The reason, I think, that it’s so hard for people to make a restaurant decision is that they’ve phrased the question incorrectly. When choosing a place to dine out, it’s not really the restaurant you’re choosing, but rather the particular dish on that particular menu that keeps you coming back. Instead of “where”, the question should be “what”. If the answer is pizza, you already know where to go. Same for chili, spaghetti, and anything Chinese or Mexican.

Unless there are kids involved. In that case, you’ll have to go to the place that has the stuff the kids will eat, without too much whining, and you’ll find something that will simply have to do just because you’re hungry and you don’t want to think about it anymore.

Adults are not unlike the children.  We have our favorite places, too. And when you get to the particular place because of the particular something you favor, the thought always occurs to you to mix it up a little, order something different this time. But you don’t because you’ve already discovered your favorite thing there. Every time you’ve deviated from the preferred item, the new thing didn’t rise to any level of excellence at all, and the ensuing disappointment makes you wish you’d just gotten the thing you wanted in the first place, the same order you always place, that something that was immediately pictured in your head and made your mouth water when you originally picked the place you were going to go.

Eat Here Sign2

Husband is different. He likes to try new things at the same old places. He likes the adventure of it. For him it’s a culinary experience in diversity. My opinion is that I’d rather be satisfied with something I already know is going to be good than be disappointed later with something I wasn’t sure about when I ordered it.

We did recently begin an adventure in Indian food. Understandably, we only have one Indian restaurant from which to choose. At first, simply because we were totally unfamiliar with it, we both experimented with different options every time we went, sharing each other’s choices, and sampling when the restaurant offered a buffet.

It didn’t take long for me to find something I really enjoy. I’m not all that interested now in placing an entirely different order from the menu just for the sake of variety. For me, the experimenting is over. I don’t want to be disappointed. Husband still likes to mix it up. I think his goal is to have everything on the menu at least once. The bonus is that I get to taste whatever different thing he’s gotten, but so far I’m still preferring my now-standard choice.

A new restaurant in our area is under construction. We pass by it and always discuss when the other thinks it might be open. It will have a menu with which both of us are unfamiliar. Husband will have an entirely new set of options to change up and switch around. I will eventually find something on the menu that I enjoy there more than anywhere else. We will immediately add it to the places of choice when we ask “where”.

And I’ll remember that the next time the squabble starts over “where”, I should change the question to “what”.

The solution should be almost immediate.

 

 

 

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The Stupidest Sign Ever

Share-Road-Sign-K-4296This is the sign that’s cropping up on roadways everywhere. It cautions drivers that they have a responsibility to share the road with cyclists. I am not referring to motorcycles, which have the ability to keep up with traffic instead of impeding it.

The sign is to remind motorists that bicyclists, by definition of the word ‘share’, have an equal right to the roadway. I wonder if the lawmakers truly understood what they were doing. To ‘share’ implies that each party has an equal opportunity, an equal responsibility, and an equal division of that which is being shared. But when there’s a motorist and a cyclist on the road at the same place and at the same time, the division of responsibility is nowhere close to equitable. The motorist bears it all.

The cyclist, however, owns the whole road. He owns his lane and the other lane. In some areas that may not be a problem, in which case you’re reading this and scratching your head in amazement that the author would even take the precious time to complain.

But if you live in an area where there are curves and hills, and the next place to safely pass a cyclist could be another two to three miles away, traveling at an incredibly low speed, then you are nodding your head ferociously at my accurate descriptions.

They don’t share. Going uphill, in a curve, the cyclists will stand on their pedals and pump away, no doubt gaining great strength in their leg muscles for their effort. I am behind them, unable to pass, going all of two miles per hour on my way to work, exercising great restraint, which is also giving me several new jaw muscles, and a headache, for my effort.

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I know that in just a few more minutes we’ll be at the top of the hill and my vision unobscured. I will be able to pass the cyclist safely.

Do you have any idea how fast a bicycle can go downhill in a near-perfect straight stretch? About 40 miles per hour. By the time I can get enough speed in excess of the limit to pass him, I’m at the next curve and can’t see.   Going up the next hill, does the cyclist lay over and allow me to pass? No. Does he care that now there’s a convoy of anxious employees trying to get to work on time? No.

But does he ride the middle of the road and flip you the bird for being impatient? Yes. Because the sign says I have to share the road.

I want one that says he has to. It should look like this:

Share-the-road-Marin

I told a friend a couple of years ago that I was taking my youngest to that neighborhood where all the cyclists live to give her the very first driving lessons.

She thought I was kidding.

 

 

 

 

 

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Images

The saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. People use pictures to add cute captions, and then spread them around the internet like very soft peanut butter. And, like peanut butter, some of them stick.

Some pictures are used for keepsakes, frames, scrapbooks, and mementoes. Others are used for sales, promos, attention, and education.

Some pictures simply reside in our own head, and we hope we never forget the moments that created them.

The first time I saw each of my children. Their respective faces on various Christmas mornings. The giggles of either of them when they got puppy kisses. The look of happy resignation on the faces of my grandchildren when they remember that the price of a peek in Granny’s cookie jar is a great big hug. Youngest’s face when she finally got her driver’s license. Youngest with her long-awaited High School diploma. Oldest’s reaction when she learned she had been accepted into her nursing program early. The look of adoration when Oldest talks about her man. My own husband’s face when he looks at me that way.

Some pictures we just can’t ever get out of our head no matter how hard we try.

My mother’s hands when they bled from the rope that drew water out of the well. The hurt and anger the last time I saw my father before he turned and vanished from my childhood. My grandmother in her casket at the funeral home. Oldest in a hospital bed after a severe trauma. The look of hatred hurled at me through teenage eyes.

Youngest in handcuffs when the police came to the house and arrested her a few days ago.

Writing this post is difficult, but in order to both heal and update, I’m doing it anyway, so if you’ve gotten to this point, know that here is where I take a deep breath and plunge forward. To do so, I may have to back up a little.

Youngest needed a car after a drunk driver wiped hers out while it was parked. You might remember that story. Husband, in an effort to both help provide the car and establish her credit, put Youngest’s car (and the loan to pay for it) in both their names. She loaned her car to The Boy while she was at work. Boy had hit another car and left the scene. He picked Youngest up at work like nothing had happened and she took him to drop him off wherever he’d been staying, which wasn’t here like she’d spent the last few weeks insisting.

That ongoing battle was the subject of my last post. When I wrote it, I didn’t have a clue how prophetic it would prove to be.

After she dropped off The Boy, she came home. I was surprised to see her here, especially so early in the evening. I was even more surprised to see that the police were right behind her.

The ensuing confusion in the driveway had the police about to arrest Husband. They had a picture of the car and license plate of the hit and run vehicle, and they knew a man had been driving. The assumption was logical that it was Husband, except that it wasn’t. It took a few more minutes to get it out of Youngest what had happened. She didn’t want to get The Boy in trouble. The handcuffs and an arrest for Obstruction of Justice is what started to convince her to cooperate. Being put in the back of the police car and hauled off to jail finished her conviction.

Her car was searched for drugs. Thankfully there was nothing to find, but I’ll admit I expected the outcome to be far different.

The events in the driveway that day play in my head like snapshots in a flip book, stuttering repeatedly from start to finish. Those images will never leave me. Seeing one of your children being arrested and placed in handcuffs will do something to a mother that before now I never thought I would have occasion to understand. It was almost a week ago, and sitting on the porch now, looking out at an empty driveway, gives me flashbacks of the ordeal that day.

Hearing Youngest talk about it yesterday made my chest hurt.

I stayed put while the cops arrested her. It was the hardest, single-most heartbreaking thing I’d ever forced myself to do. It was for the best. I wanted to run to her, to firmly place myself between her and them, and to protect her. She had to go through this alone and finally face the fact that she was not in a good place, that this is what happens when you surround yourself with trash. She alone had to realize for herself that she wouldn’t be in this position if not for The Boy.

So I stayed put.

She called me a couple of hours later and said that she was being released and that we could come to the police station to pick her up. She texted me a few times while husband drove, and I sat in the passenger seat alternately fighting back tears of hurt and tears of anger. I wasn’t very successful with either.

Her first text said that I was right, and that Boy was just dragging her down. Her second text said that she was done, this was it, and it was finally over. When we got there, all I could do was hold her while we stood in the parking lot of the police station. Tears of gratitude that she was unharmed replaced the tears of hurt and worry on my face. In the car, the anger took up residence and pushed everything else aside.

I learned later that The Boy had also been arrested and that Youngest’s cooperation leading to that arrest had earned her a lesser charge.

She talked to me that day, and confessed recent sins. She admitted to some of the things she knew about The Boy and his activities. She explained some of the gaps in her whereabouts and apologized for how she’d been acting lately. She said that for quite some time she’d had the feeling that something horrible was about to happen, and she thinks that this event, and her arrest, had halted whatever the bad thing was. She explained that when she saw The Boy being arrested and put into another police car, a tremendous weight had lifted, that it had just completely dissipated. She didn’t even realize she’d been carrying it.

She believes that there was a supernatural intervention, and that it took this incident to prevent whatever the other, more disastrous event, might have been.

And she hugged me. The look of hatred isn’t in her eyes anymore when she looks at me. And she’s talking to me again. She’s spent the last few days between home and work, and reconnecting with friends she’d given up for Boy. They didn’t approve, and expressing their feelings and concerns had earned them the same banishment as it had me.

She learned later that The Boy knew of her arrest, prior to his own, and instead of coming forward, he left her to handle it alone.

For her sake, I hope it’s really over between them. But she’s young. I worry that someday The Boy will enter her life again, drag her down even further, and that it might be far too late for redemption by the time she realizes just how far she’s fallen. My only hope here is that the next time he reappears, she’s a little wiser about the effects of being involved with him, and that saying ‘no’ to him becomes a little easier to do.

I guess the photo album isn’t complete yet. As much as she might believe that it’s over, and as much as I want to share that belief, this is not the end of the story. There are two ways she could go here, and all I can do is hope for the best. I’m not sure I’m equipped to handle it if her chosen direction is backward. It took all my strength to refrain from interfering with the police that day.

When I pull out this mental photo album in the years to come, only then will I know whether or not she had moved forward and really put this behind her.

Her court date for the lesser charge that was levied against her is in another four weeks.

Sometimes we’re given advance notice of a picture in our head that we know, without doubt, we’ll never be able to forget.

 

 

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Obsession

I don’t know if the obsession she’s experiencing at the moment is about getting her own way or whether it’s really about the boy.  Maybe it’s a combination of both.

She has issues, to put it mildly.  While her obsessions tended to change over time, fulfilling them was always genuinely necessary to preserve her sanity.

I remember when she was little and she just had to have all the shoes in the house paired up and lined against the baseboard of one wall with the toes pointed toward it.  There was no pattern in the shoes, just that they had to be lined up.

She was four years old.

I explained that it would probably be better if everyone’s shoes were in her own closet, that way Mommy could get ready for work and Oldest could get ready for school.  I asked her if she’d help me put them all back.  She did help me, and easily enough.  But then a few hours later they’d all be lined up against the wall again.  The explanation was repeated, the agreement reached, and the shoes returned.  This whole repetitive process lasted several days.  Slowly, the obsession with the shoes evolved until she was only lining her own shoes in her own closet.  Eventually she forgot about them altogether, and they wound up in a tangled mess like every other young girl’s shoes on the floors of closets everywhere.

Once, for a really long time, she had an obsession with pencils.  She just had to have them.  One entire dresser drawer was eventually devoted to housing nothing but the slender, graphite filled, and cylindrical slivers of wood.  Most were yellow because those were the easiest to collect.  But trips to the store and most small gifts for her usually involved at least one.   They became outlandish in both color and size.  Erasers were never an issue at all.

She was eight years old before we were finally able to empty that drawer and dispose of them all.

I’ve read that Attention Deficit Disorder is a little bit hereditary, and I do remember occasions when I’ve become obsessed with something, but mostly I think I just have an addictive personality.  I’ve been addicted to cigarettes since I was fourteen years old, I can get addicted to a computer game like nobody’s business, and activities for me have to be entered into lightly.  I once thought it would be neat to make a scrapbook.  Hundreds of dollars later I had every imaginable tool used by the most devoted scrap bookers everywhere, and made lots of scrapbooks and mementos.  Then the thrill of it quickly waned until I crashed all at once and just stopped doing it.  That ride took me through three or four years of constant snapshots and diligently collected pretty paper and ribbon.

I’ve suspected once or twice that I might be bi-polar.

When I stopped smoking for a year I was using an electronic cigarette and collected every flavor that sounded remotely interesting.  The interest in the collection wore off when I found the perfect flavor, but eventually I started smoking again.  Now I both smoke and vape.  I think I’m addicted to both.  I’m not smoking three packs a day anymore, but I’m still struggling to keep it under one.

Youngest’s dad was an alcoholic.  I’ve cautioned her about the lethal combination of ADD, Alcoholism, and Addictive Personalities.  I’ve talked to her about how careful she has to be to avoid self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.  I think so far she’s done okay.  I know she drinks some, and I’d be stupid to think there wasn’t any pot smoldering in her vicinity.  And I can only hope that she’s being careful.

But she’s almost nineteen, so she’s probably not.  Nothing I’ve said to her thus far has fallen on receptive ears, so I have no meaningful reason to believe that my wise words of advice will have any positive affect whatsoever.

She was about thirteen when she met the boy.  Everyone who knew him said he was bad news.  She wouldn’t believe them.  She eventually lost friends because of him.  He’s also the reason she started shutting me out.

He’s come and gone, weaving himself into and out of her life one crisis at a time, leaving her heartbroken and crushed, only to come back to her and assure her that this time it’s for real.  Loving him has left her closed to any good opportunity that might ever come her way.

I thought that it was finally over, that even though she had feelings for him that might never go away, he had at least moved on.  He’d found someone else to play with, torture, and maim.  But then he reappeared.  I didn’t have a clue.   I learned after the fact that he was the reason Youngest had packed up and moved out two weeks ago.

She’s insisting that he has to stay with us.  She finally told me that through circumstances beyond his control, circumstances that are none of my business, he has nowhere to be.  She’s demanding that we give him a place to stay.

We said no.

She doesn’t come home now at night after work, and I’m a little uncertain whether or not she is even still working.  I do know that whatever this boy wants, he will manipulate her into providing.  I tried to tell her that if he loved her, he wouldn’t want her to give up her home for his sake.

Yesterday she threatened sleeping in her car, with him, in order to provide him shelter, and that if we didn’t let him stay with us, then she wouldn’t come home either.  I told her I wouldn’t be harassed, bullied, or manipulated.  I reminded her that she could come home any time she wanted, but that where Boy is concerned, the answer is no.

She thinks she’s proving herself to him at all costs so that he’ll finally get it and never leave her again.

Love conquers all, etc.

The only time I hear from her is with an occasional text that demands we let him stay here, and promises that she’ll come home, too, if only we allow him to come with her.  Our response has been firm, and her insistence increasingly more hostile.  I don’t know why he has no place to go, and apparently I’m not supposed to.  Which means it’s probably a pretty grave situation that now involves Youngest.

I don’t think I want to know.

What makes this mother’s heart even more filled with angst is the idea that she might really be sleeping in her car, in parts of town unknown, surrounded by evil and ill will.  I have no hope that the boy will protect her.  Boy is the reason for all her current troubles.  And instead of encouraging her to come home and leaving her alone, he is dragging her down with him.

I talked to a gentlemen I highly admire and respect about a similar situation in his own life.  He told me about a son with whom he does not speak.  The son had gotten involved with a woman who pulled him into drugs, and the dad told me that it was more than he could bear to watch his son neglect his own children in favor of a drug addict and her children.  To be involved with his son meant that the rest of the family, and the quality of his own life, suffered.  So while he hated to do it, he felt like he had no choice but to cut the ties.

I don’t know if I’m in the same situation, or if this is the choice I will soon have to make.  I hope not.  I hope Youngest hasn’t gotten herself involved in something from which she will not be easily extracted.  While all the signs are there that she is experiencing an obsession, I’m still not clear on whether the obsession is with the boy or with her own efforts to get us to let him stay here.  I’m hoping the fixation is not with something more sinister.

She never did like being told ‘no’.  It comforts me to think that this might just be a simple power struggle between two stubborn people.  Youngest did inherit my unwillingness to budge.

She may have also inherited my addictive personality, which does provide some room for concern.

Right now she’s addicted to this fight, and while I’m determined to win it, dwelling in my own obsessions over it, I worry about the price of the victory.  That boy will not spend one night in my home.

I might just lose my daughter in the process of proving it.

Part of me knows I already have.

 

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Name Selection

It’s probably the hardest thing anybody’s ever done.  A name is forever.  Sometimes it’s modified with marriage, but mostly, whomever (or whatever) you gave it to is stuck with it.

It’s really an imposition.

I would never have chosen my name for me, and I don’t think any of us are happy with the names our parents chose for us.  Some of our parents’ methods were a little odd, and we all have that story of how and why we have our particular monikers.  We take care not to repeat that process with our own children, lest they grow up resenting us for it.

I think they will anyway, because no matter how we chose it, the choice will have always been ours.  In rebellion, they might choose nicknames we just can’t stand.

My story:   Some random woman that nobody knew was getting married and her picture was in the Sunday paper.  My mom liked the bride’s name.  So she gave it to me.

Oldest was named after my grandmother.  She was a lovely woman, but the name was an old one and didn’t quite fit the tiny little baby I was about to have.  My friends told me I shouldn’t saddle her with an ‘old lady’ name.  I didn’t listen.  I did give her a cute middle name to go with it, though, and while she carries them both well, it’s by her middle name that she is most commonly recognized.  And she loved my grandmother dearly, so I think now that she’s an adult, she sort of appreciates having it.

Youngest was going to be named after her dad, regardless.  I feminized it with spelling and refused to put the “Little” in front of it like folks in my area tend to do.  Instead, I called her by both first and middle together.  That worked fine until she got in school.  People who knew her in that setting only used her first name, and, according to her, they were the only ones allowed to.  Family had to use both names.  She said it sounded weird when we only used her first name at home.  When the oldest grandbaby couldn’t quite pronounce Youngest’s name, and shortened the first name down to only the first syllable, it stuck.  Now we all call her by that first syllable.

Husband was named after his dad, except that while they both had the same first name, they each went by their different middle names.  I think it suited them both well.  Somewhere along the stage of early adulthood, Husband incorporated a grandfather clause: everyone who knew him by his middle name could continue to use it, but everyone to whom he was introduced from that point forward had to use his first name.  He said it sounded more authoritative, more adult, and maybe more deserving of respect.

The youngest grandbaby couldn’t say ‘grandpa’; it always came out “d-pa”.   I’ll bet you can guess what we all call Husband now.

Whatever the method employed by those with naming power, care should be taken so as to ensure satisfaction.  Not just satisfaction for the person wielding the naming authority, but also for the person or thing upon whom it’s being imposed.  And, in this geographical area, if the name you choose is too long or too complicated, it is guaranteed to be shortened for convenience.  Laziness is the origin of Bubba, Hoss, Bull, Skeeter, Junior, and other such nicknames.

Naming Oldest’s dog D’Ogee was a form of natural selection.  Her oldest was trying to spell ‘dog’ and she kept pronouncing the letters as though they were all syllables of one word.  It later became ‘Ogee’ for short.

When we rescued our cat from the shelter, we spent an entire day choosing a name for her.  It took us through several restaurant napkins, notepaper sheets, and arguments before we settled on one to which we could all agree.

I think Abigail likes it though.  She still sits on my lap when she wants to snuggle, and she doesn’t mind being called Abbey, Abidose, or Babygail.

At least I don’t think so.

 

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Sway

Remember that upswing I was telling you about?  The one where my good fortune generally runs through the middle of everything and I have curves that sway away from the middle from time to time? Remember when I told you that something wonderful was about to happen because of my current sway to the left a little?

I’m still waiting.

Oh, it’ll happen.  I just think it’s going to be big.  With the way things have been running lately, it just has to be in order to balance things out.

You remember some of the dental issues that had me on a near liquid diet for seven days?  Well, one tooth finally got fixed.  I had put off the repair because I didn’t want to mess up an interview at work.  The rest of that story is that the person who should have gotten the promotion at work did get it, which is absolutely wonderful and I’m so incredibly happy that it fell the way that it did.  The interview itself has already opened some opportunities that I’ll be anxious to explore once a few more things finally fall into place.  And I know that they will.

But that’s another story.

The other tooth that was giving me trouble got pulled a couple of days ago.  It was one of those jaw teeth that grow roots to China.  In the process of its extraction, I felt some tugging on my right ear.  I know that sucker had roots that had wrapped around my ear, twice, and then had attached itself to the nape of my neck.  I think it might have been the first time ever that a dentist pulled a tooth and had to cut an umbilical cord.

Today is day three since the extraction, and while I’m healing nicely, I am a little sore.  My jaw bone feels bruised and there is still some slight swelling.  The good news is that I’m not in any kind of pain.

If you’re counting, that’s one broken tooth, one week of solely near-liquid and simultaneously flavorless intake, (I keep saying that because I love to eat.  I was deprived.  It’s a big deal.  I may repeat it at some point.) one semi-painful tooth repair, followed a week later by one very painful, and still ongoing, recovery from a tooth extraction.

Then Youngest and I got into a pretty heated argument yesterday morning.  Rather than talk to me she packed her stuff and moved out.  I was devastated.  I had only just recently gotten over Oldest’s last departure.  Of course, when Oldest moved out the last time, she took the two grandchildren with her.  I lost not one, but three loves.

It happened four times with Oldest.  The first time she left was also in anger and frustration, much like her sister’s departure yesterday.  Oldest felt like I had too much control in her life and she wanted to live it on her own.  I thought she still needed some guidance and I was, I suppose, too determined to offer it.  She was eighteen.  The second was a planned departure at nineteen.  The third was a little later, at twenty-one, only mildly hostile, and she took a grandbaby with her.  The fourth, while planned, took two grandbabies.  She’s all grown up now, with a life of her own, and I’m glad she chooses to share some of it with me.  She’s doing well, and I’m incredibly proud of the woman she’s become.  And she knows that wherever I am, she has a place to come home to.

Husband reminded me that this current set of events with Youngest is normal, and that it was bound to happen soon anyway.  I know this.  She’ll be nineteen this summer.  I knew she had been apartment hunting and was trying to get things in order so that she could move out.  I thought that was the natural way of things and it didn’t bother me much to think about it.  Between her work and her social life, I rarely saw her anyway.  And when she was home, she did all those things that annoy moms of adult children everywhere.

The leaving in anger part bothered me a great deal.  The fight was about responsibility, hers, and my insistence that she show some.  It was probably too soon.  I’ve spent all this time, probably the last four years, focusing solely on keeping her in school, and I forgot to prepare for what happened after graduation, which was barely a month ago.  Now I wish she was here to make all those messes and annoy me in all those thoughtless ways that always had me rolling my eyes and gritting my teeth in frustration.

You could remind me that it’s been barely twenty-four hours since she left, but I wouldn’t listen.  I’m like that sometimes.

I tried to talk to her this morning by phone and the end result was that she hung up on me.  She’s staying at a friend’s and I know that she’s safe, so I am comforted with the knowledge that she’s not out on the street, homeless, and desperate.  And I’ve told her that she can come home anytime she wants to, or needs to.

In the meantime, between bouts of depression and crying jags that leave me wishing I’d been a better mom to them both, I’m still waiting on the sway of something wonderful that is surely bound to happen.

It has to.

Because that’s the way life is.

 

 

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Hooked

I think we all have some form of a closet regimen.  Some of us wear something once, hang it up, and then wear it again at a later date.  Some of us will wear a pair of pants twice or three times, but forsake the very idea of wearing a shirt more than once.  For others of us it’s the other way around.  Some of us are fanatics about never wearing anything a second time.

Some of us have hanger rituals, turning the hook one way to remind us that this particular item needs washed, or turning it the other way to signify that we haven’t worn that in such a long time we really must decide if we want to keep it.

We all know someone who never hangs up anything, choosing instead to live out of the basket where the laundry got done and then dumped.  For some that’s every week, for others it’s every two.  I think the younger you are the less often you do laundry at all, either waiting for a parent to do it for you or waiting until you absolutely have nothing at all to wear before making a mad dash to do just that one shirt you want to wear right now.

Some of the younger folks will do a whole load of laundry and then dump it on the couch to be dealt with ‘later’.  I put ‘later’ in quotes because that word doesn’t seem to exist.  I happen to have one of those ‘later’ couches.  It’s been in my home for about twelve years now.

 

...sigh...

…sigh…

 

Some of us have a rule of thumb that if we haven’t worn it in a year, we dispose of it in some fashion – either donate it, trash it, or ask a friend if she wants it.

I think laundry takes a little planning.  And of course the older I get the more concerned I am about making sure it’s done frequently.  My mad-dash-to-the washer-for-a-particular-shirt days are long behind me.

I do have my own hanger ritual in the closet, but it’s not elaborate.  If the hook is backward from everything else, I know it’s due to be laundered.  But mostly I’m just picky about the hanger.

I noticed yesterday while I was doing laundry that I kept passing up the smaller hangers in favor of the larger ones.  And I wanted the thick plastic ones instead of the metal ones.  Of course, sometimes, a different hanger altogether is necessary for that one skirt or blouse that just doesn’t hang right on anything else.

I’ve only ever had a hanger rescue me once.  It was that night my youngest daughter had called to say she had locked her keys in the car.  It was late at night and she was at a 7-11.  No gas station at eleven o’clock at night is the safest place for a young girl to be.

In my hurry to get to her I still managed to think to grab one of those seldom-used metal hangers from the closet before I ran out of the house.  I wasn’t sure I knew what to do with it, but somebody might.

When I got there, Youngest was standing outside talking to a couple of friends who had just happened by and were waiting with her until my arrival.  She opened my passenger door, saw the hanger immediately, and yelled to her friend, “She brought a hanger!”

Apparently they’d been discussing the topic at length, wishing they’d had one just like it.

After some teeth-gritting maneuvering, they finally got the car unlocked.  The hanger was destroyed, but it was okay.

I never liked that one anyway.

 

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Broken

Webster’s defines “broken” as an adjective that means:

  •      separated into parts or pieces by being hit, damaged, etc.
  •      not working properly
  •      not kept or honored

It can refer to an idea just as easily as it can refer to any tangible object.   Things get broken all the time.  Sometimes they can be repaired and sometimes they have to be discarded.  Sometimes they can be mended temporarily, and sometimes the break actually lends character or makes something stronger.

It’s okay when things get broken that should have been discarded years ago because it affords the opportunity to de-clutter, like that old coffee mug that either fell out of the cabinet accidently or jumped to its death on purpose.  It’s not okay when the broken item was beloved and has to be replaced, especially when doing so will cost a fortune, like when my laptop finally quit.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog posts, you might remember the last one in which I bemoaned a broken tooth.  For the record, this was not an okay thing to be broken.  But it does mean that I’ll finally get my sorry great-big-chicken self to the dentist.  So that’s good, right?

After a full week of near-liquid meals, I have noticed the disappearance of a few pounds.  That streak will be broken just as soon as I can wrap my lips around a great big cheeseburger, and it’s a break I look forward to.  But that still might be a while.  My dentist appointment is today, and depending on what they do, it could be another week before I’m back on more solid foods.

So, like any self-respecting woman would do in my situation, I thought of stepping on the scales to get an idea of just how much weight I’d lost.  It feels like maybe ten pounds, but since I’m huge, it’s unnoticeable to anyone except my pants.  I’m the behemoth lady that has to lose at least twenty pounds before the loss becomes the slightest bit recognizable.  But I noticed yesterday that my pants didn’t scream when I zipped them up, which prompted me to think of the scales.  And, let’s face it – even if it’s only one pound lost, we ladies want to know about it so we can tell all our friends and receive congratulatory comments and have the opportunity to explain why our way of dieting is better than anybody else’s in the group, providing tips and advice on how they, too, can lose one pound.

Except that it’s not an intentional diet.

Aside from the dentist, that set of scales holds the number three spot on my top ten list of things I fear most in my life.  The dentist is actually second.  Spiders rank at number one, except that on the real written list the number one spot is blank.  I can hardly stand to even write the word.

I tiptoe in to where the scales used to be, hidden behind the bathroom door so I don’t have to look at them every day, taunting me, yelling at me for being fat, and teasing me for being none-too-careful about my food intake and lack of self-control.  The door squeaks when I peak to see if they’re still there.  I look around to make sure I’m alone and listen to ensure that no one is coming up the stairs.  I ease my big toe up on the scales and position my foot lightly.  With caution, lest the thing suddenly grow eight legs and wield a scorpion’s tail at me, I slowly lift up the other foot to rest beside its mate.

They’re broken.

The scales are reading out my ideal weight, which I know with certainty is fifty pounds from now.  So I’ve either stepped into the future and am reading what the scales will report after a long and strenuous year of dieting, or they’re simply broken at the number that reflects what I should weigh if I were more diligent about what I eat.

But I think the break lends character.  I’m not so afraid of it anymore.  It actually looks kind of good sitting there.  So good, in fact, that I’m thinking of moving it to the middle of the living room floor.  I can stand on it while I’m watching television and slurping Jell-O.

I’m keeping it.  Regardless of how long it takes to get my dental issues repaired, I’m keeping those scales.  I may even paint them.  When the family gets tired of seeing them on the living room floor, I’ll build a shrine with a little shelf just for the now-favored set of scales.  I’ll update my top-ten list of things I fear most and I’ll bring the now-favored scales periodic offerings of fruits and nuts while I polish it daily.

And I’ll dare anyone to refer to them as broken.

They’re perfect just the way they are.

 

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