Take Some Christmas, A Warm Fire, and Two Glasses of Reisling and Call Me In The Morning

I just want to write something happy tonight.  My last few posts have focused on the somewhat drearier side of existence.  I’m ready for happy.  I’m usally ready for happy.  I also have all my Christmas decorations up and my house is clean.  I also have only two more days to work this week.  Well, that’s not really true, I get pulled out of the classroom for some district work on Friday and after dealing with tons of elementary school kids all day everyday, going to adult meetings is like taking the day off. 

There’s a warm fire burning in my woodstove.  The lights on the tree, the ledge and the window mirror in my entry way look absolutely inviting.  It isn’t a monstrous palace I live in, but it is warm and cozy and inviting most of the time. It is especially so at Christmas. 

I mentioned earlier in one of my posts either here or on my other blog at http://cabsplace.wordpress.com that I just wasn’t feeling the Christmas spirit.  I wasn’t.  I haven’t been.  It took a while to ignite. 

First, there was the haggling (in my mind) about whether or not to go with a fake tree this year.  I’m such a real tree lover (not hugger, lover).  I was concerned that getting a fake tree would be a disappointment to the kids.  There are some real valid reasons for wanting a fake tree though.  One is that the cost over time is something I really need to consider.  Throwing $30-$60 away on a tree that’s going to be dead by Christmas every year is not a good thing.  I also have a wood stove and the tree and the wood stove are not that far apart.  Remember, my palace is small.  Very, very small.  So tree and woodstove in the same room equals insurance claim waiting to happen…hmmmm.  

I also live right in the middle of Christmas tree land. Getting a permit and going out to the woods to cut my own tree is not a real tough thing to do.  I could do it.  However, cancel out another day out of my life that I desperately need to use to do laundry and cleaning.  I’d be doing it alone or with only my youngest which is fine, but again, it means something else vital doesn’t get done.  The worst part is getting the thing up on top of my 4×4 alone.  I could do everything else, but that might stymie me.  I usually enjoy going out in the woods and making a day of it with friends, building a big fire and hanging out after the trees are found…but again…not many couples enjoy having a single 5th wheel around and this year my single friends made other arrangements.  I just opted for the easy way out this year.

I’m glad I did.

I bought a $68 special at Wal-Mart.  After three attempts back and forth from Wally World, I had the thing up and lit.  And there it sat…for nearly a week.  I just dreaded the idea of going out and pulling down the decorations from the rafters in the garage.  I don’t know why.  Each day after school, I’d tell myself, toinght we’re going to do this.  Then my energy to do it would just evaporate.  Finally, I just gave my two older girls control of it.  So, Sunday evening they set about decorating the tree while I prepared dinner.  I deliberately stayed out of it.  I wanted it to be their thing. They did their thing and it is beautiful!

It looks like a decorator tree!  Well, almost.  I definitely need to work on getting some more of those specialty ornaments, but with the money I’ll save next year on buying a tree that should be no problem.  Next year. 

This year, I want to add one new thing to the outside light display.  I only have lights across the front of my house and a rope light up the walk.  Pretty boring.  But, hey, like I’ve said all over the place here, it’s been tight.  Things are getting better.  I think this year I might wait till the day after Christms (since I won’t have any kids) and go to the stores and get a few things for the outside of the house…and maybe for the inside too.  But not too much, just a few things.  In a few years of behaving like this I”ll have more Christmas than I could have imagined.

Anyway, I was pondering all this last night and feeling really at peace with the world. It is hard not to feel this way when your kids aren’t squabbling, the Christmas tree looks spectacular, the kids are fed and the dishes are done and the house is clean.  There was a warm fire in the woodstove and all was very well in my world.  It was so nice, that after I sent the younger two to bed, I slipped into my p.j.’s, poured a glass of my favorite Reisling and curled up on the couch to enjoy the ambiance. Before I knew it, I’d dozed off.  I awakened only momentarily when my two oldest girls entered after their holiday dinner theatre rehearsal.  I said a few groggy, loving words to them, they headed to bed themselves and I added a couple of  logs to the fire. 

I think I woke up about midnight and headed to bed after throwing the last few logs on the fire for the night.  The house is lovely, clean, cozy and warm.  My kids are fed and clothed.  We have a roof over our heads and we have Christmas in our hearts as well as our home. It could be a whole lot worse than this that’s for sure.  And, even though, I really have only one more week till my kids vanish for the Big Holiday, I’m going to enjoy every minute of it with them…and I’ll even enjoy the time without them too (I know, blasphemous thing to say, but, remember, I’m one who is with kids 24/7.  It’s nice to be alone after that sometimes). 

As long as the decorations are up, the fire is crackling warm and I can pour a glass of Reisling, life is good.  Not perfect, but still very, very good.

Negotiating a Divorce And Trying To Read The Crystal Ball

Today I tasked my students with attempting to begin their personal narratives in an interesting and creative way.  Now, it’s my turn and I am stuck.  How to begin? 

It was a dark and stormy night….na…taken, overused.

On Wednesday I was talking to a friend of mine….boring.

Hmmm, it is easier said than done.  It’s always easier to tell others how to do something and to give examples, but when it comes down to doing it yourself, it can be a much more challenging task.

This is how it is for me when I talk to my friends who are going through divorce.  I’ve been through divorce twice myself, but I also went through a custody trial on behalf of my second ex before he was my ex.  That means three times, I’ve needed to retain attorneys to resolve affairs of the heart that went bad and involved children and houses.  Once I settled out of court, once I experienced a two day, very tense and humiliating trial at the end of which I had no solutions and $30,000 less to my name.  The third time, the opposition never showed up so the judge ruled in my favor and  my attorney still stuck me with the bills.  None of these experiences was what I’d consider fun.  I never want to go there again. 

I hate to see my friends go through the pain, the anxiety, the fear, the tension, the complete range of unhappy emotions that come with negotiating anything in the legal realm, especially in family law.  It is so agonizing to stand by and listen and watch my friends knowing that I didn’t like what they are experiencing when I went through it.  It is painful to care for my friends and to see them experience such doubt, uncertainty, and angst.  It is hard to not be able to help in any way other than to sit by and listen.  Giving advice based on my experiences wouldn’t even be relevant because every situation is different.  The stakes are always high, as are the emotions but the nuances and possible consequences of all the negotiations are never just a simple black and white.

Even so, there are some things I’ve learned that I wish I would have known before going into the process and while enduring the process.  These are the things that are on my mind right now.  I’m airing them as much for me to revisit and clarify what I’ve learned and where I’ve travelled and why as much as to put it out there for anyone who might benefit from it.

I am not an attorney and none of this is intended to in any way replace the counsel of a good attorney. I am not a psychologist and I cannot give that kind of advice either.  All I’m really doing here is sharing what happened to me, what I wish I’d known or done differently.  Maybe it will help others maybe it won’t.  I’m really not all that concerned about that.  I just need to sort out for myself the jumble so I can be clear about the paths I chose and where they are now leading me.

One thing I wish I would have done in every case is wait and not panic.  This is not always possible.  When you are in the legal battle with someone you used to be very intimate with but with whom you cannot bear to be allied for a moment longer, waiting is especially hard.  Waiting is especially difficult if the person is abusive, dangerous or volatile.  Until you have that signed document you are still linked to that individual to some degree. It makes waiting nearly impossible, especially when the longer you still have the married label the further and more thoroughly the other person can destroy you financially, emotionally, maybe even physically.  When this is the situation, and you must wait, panic can eat you alive and prompt you to make decisions you may later regret. In my case, I made many good decisions, but there are some that I wish I’d waited on.  I wish I’d asked more questions of my attorney.  I wish I would have considered negotiating some other areas more thoroughly.  It might not have made a difference, but then again, it might have.

I also wish I could have seen more clearly how the deal I was negotiating then would affect my future which has become my present.  I think I did a very good job of this when considering the children.  I think I should have thought through it all a little more on the financial end.  I wish I could have seen a little more clearly then how it all would impact my future in post-divorce life.  How closely will I be connected and for how long will I be linked to this individual in the years to come? How much communication will be required between the two adults in question and is the amount required even going to be possible given the nature of the relationship?  As long as there are kids and money involved the chains still linking me to my past relationships are there even if they are invisible most of the time.  This sometimes negatively affects my present peace of mind.  Sometimes I wish I would have done this differently, though I’m not sure even now what that “differently” would be. 

 And this is the trouble with divorce, especially if there is a huge breakdown in communication, which it seems there usually is.  Because there are so many unknowns, so many possible and probable different outcomes, trying to see how my present decisions will impact my future life was a lot like gazing into a crystal ball and seeing nothing but formless shapes and figures among the misty haze. It simply isn’t possible to anticipate the future in every instance.  I think the people who are really good at computer programming could come up with a program to identify all the potential variables, courses of action and potential outcomes, but who has time or patience for that?

The best thing I did (and maybe the best any of us can do) is to  listen carefully to my attorney (get a second or third opinion if we need to) and try not to let our emotions rule.  The best we can do is to do the best we know how to do at the time.  In the end, I just had to move forward in confidence, knowing that I couldn’t know all the possible outcomes.  I had to forge ahead making decisions based only on the pieces of the puzzle that I could see and that my attorney could see. I forced myself to believe that it would all turn out okay, even when I was plagued with fears of the “what if’s”.  What if I lose the house?  What if I can’t make it financially?  What if, what if, what if…. There were nights I tossed and turned with the angst.

As it turned out, as most things turn out I’ve learned, most of what I feared never came to pass.  It ended up in some ways, in most ways, far better than I could have asked.  It ended up in a few ways more difficult than I imagined.  I simply did the best I knew how to do at the time.  It has to be good enough. This is the biggest lesson I take with me as I move forward into each day: I will be okay if I just do the best I can at the time.  When I get down and discouraged and starting thinking “I wish I would have” this is always the place I end up.  I did the best I could.  If I’d have known better, I’d have done better.  I just wasn’t able to read that crystal ball clearly enough, but it’s all turned out okay anyway.

Men Are Like Dogs….

Okay, really…I did not say that.  Those are not my words.  Honestly…I am not kidding.  Those words, whatever emotions they might evoke for you, those words are not mine.  They were written by a man.  Now, before you go railing this individual as a traitor to the male gender, you have to read his comment in its entirety.  He commented on my post about Cowardice, written last summer. You can read his comment here. But for those of you who are lazy or just don’t want to open another window, I’ll paraphrase the comment.  My friend, said this:  Men are like getting a new dog…you never know what you’re going to get until you get him home”.  (my paraphrase)

This is first, a humorous comment.  It is also a frightening comment.  I think it is frightening simply because it is so true.  The implications here are significant for those wanting to consider romance, dating, shacking up, maybe even the idea of making it legal. And….hear this one…my dear male friends…it goes both ways.  By that I mean, you could say the same thing about those beautiful Venus bombshells you cannot live without or that you don’t want to live without supposedly.

You simply never can get the real picture about someone until you live up close and personal with them. 

And, if you are in the 35+ category for age, have children, a thinking mind and goals that resemble something more than I want to be rich and famous and will marry anyone to do it, then you must realize that what I’m saying here is of significance to you. 

Especially if you have children. 

You must be ultra careful about who and what you allow into your home. 

Disclaimer:  While the title of my post implies that men are the gender we are talking about, I think I’ve made it sufficiently clear that what I’m saying here applies to both genders.  My opinions definitely side with the “both genders are guilty” approach.  I just used that title because it was really cool and thought it might be a great way to entice more of you to my blog or to that article or to read Jeff’s great comment.  In any event…I am now not just picking on the guys.  I recognize that we women can be just as vile in our own ways. 

You must, must be careful about who and what you allow into your home.

I learned this lesson the hard way. 

In general all my growing up years I was the textbook firstborn eager-to-please driven kid.  I was a good little girl.  Well, so most people would have told you, but on the inside only I knew how rotten I could be at points.  But I played the “good little girl” role for so long and I did it so well for so long.  The problem was I was not dealing with and being authentically me.  So, as you might guess, this all spun out of control about 16 years into my first marriage.

I’d like to say that’s when I started making the bad choices, but the reality is, the bad choices I made started probably when I was 16.  The choice, have a boyfriend. Use him as your ticket out of the house.  Well, this thinking self-destructed down the road and after ending my first marriage…I jumped into a second one which was an absolute living nightmare. 

But it wasn’t a total loss.  It was during this marriage that I learned you must be very careful about the influences you allow into your home.  I was not careful.  I paid for it dearly during the marriage.  My children paid for it and are paying for it now.  I will not make those mistakes again…at least…I hope I won’t.

But here is the question that a statement like this raises:

I you can’t really tell what the “dog” is like till you bring him/her home, how can you be sure that he/she is the dog for you before you bring him/her home?

Because I guarantee you this…once you bring him/her home if she/he’s the wrong dog, it’s already too late and there will be damage done.  And who wants to bring a dog home with the idea that it’s okay to get rid of it if he/she “doesn’t work out”?  I mean, in spite of two failed marriages, that is sooooo not what I’m about. 

I still believe in long term commitment. I still believe in the institution of marriage.  I still believe that a good quality relationship is possible and that this deep, meaningful connection can last “till death do us part” (and not because one or the other of us hires a hit man either).

So, I’m going to ask it again and I do hope you’ll take time out of your busy schedule (I know it must be) to help me clarify my thoughts on this and to help any other lurking readers out there who might not know, but who would like to.  Here’s my question again:

I you can’t really tell what the “dog” is like till you bring him/her home, how can you be sure that he/she is the dog for you before you bring him/her home?

Inquiring Wild Minds want to know.

With Gratitude I Hear My Neighbors Fight

I wrote this poem as part of a writing assignment the same summer I separated from my ex.  Summer 2007.  The assignment was to take the first line of someone’s poem and create your own poem from it.  I, for the life of me, do not remember who the author is to credit this beginning to…but, I’ll figure it out and post it soon.  In any event, I certainly don’t claim the title or the first line as my own original work and I am greatly indebted to the original author for their inspiration.  I’ll do my homework and post the information soon.

With Gratitude I Hear My Neighbors Fight

 

With gratitude, I hear my neighbors fight

Two campsites over

I didn’t know what it was at first

The music of muffled comments

floating through the air

gradually growing in intensity but not too loud

Short staccato vibrations in the otherwise

still summer night.

There syncopated beats

Sneaking in through the window of the travel trailer

I borrowed from friends

 

Looking out, my eyes see the silent, lifeless shapes

of an RV park asleep

A place for happy families vacationing from their real lives

A make believe journey they can escape

by simply packing up

and going home.

They can choose to stay or leave.

 

But not me…for now,

for me this is not vacation

This is real.

Late at night,

in the deep, dark, noisy night

Semis rushing by, air brakes blasting

Their noise chases sleep when it tries to land nearby

Disturbing the silence

Not a hundred feet from my flimsy door.

This is not a vacation, it is my real life.

 

For now it is my escape

From a living nightmare

A nightmare I thought would never end

It is a refuge from hell

A halfway house for my kids and I as we flee Hades

This this is where we live…for now

But this is not our home.

 

With gratitude, I hear my neighbors fight

Two campsites over

the music of muffled comments

Sneaking in through the window of the travel trailer

I borrowed from friends

 

And for now, I know we are safe.

And I hope we will soon be home.

The Good With The Bad…For Lack of a Better Title

I guess I’m living life in all its reality.  I mean, crap is happening…see my most recent post before this one about the drains in my house.  And the sewer incident was preceeded by my car blowing it’s engine this summer, which was preceeded by a year of trauma with cars, including the rear differential of my 4×4 dropping right out onto the street sometime just before Christmas of last year.  Due to my divorce a year ago…well…almost a year ago, finances have been tighter than I’ve ever known in my entire adult life.  Debt is gradually and consistently getting paid off, and I know I won’t be in this place forever, but because I have no wiggle room, it is nothing short of a crisis when things outside the budget occur.  So, that segment of my life is not the happy part of my reality. 

Along with all the stress associated with having to live so very spartan-like and not having the money for extras of any kind…heck, I don’t even have the money for some of the essentials, at times…life has its joyous elements and moments.  These moments splattered the crappy colors of my otherwise dismal financial reality with hope, energy, love and life. 

For example, due to the dismal situation with my drains, I had to call my first ex to take my three oldest children.  This resulted in them being gone for an entire week which was sad and very disappointing.  On the up side, though, it gave me some concentrated time with my youngest.  She slept with me every night and we were able to spend some fun time together in the evenings in spite of me having to complete some extra projects for work.  This was a very happy result of a somewhat stinky situation.

I also mentioned the plumber coming over and bringing dinner and drinks.  That ended up being very fun, and while it is still too soon to tell anything, he is definitely a decent man with a bit of heart and character to him.  And, he doesn’t have a problem communicating about himself or his thoughts…and even better than that…it appears he is capable of taking responsibility for his actions.  He’s continued to call me, we’ve gotten together one other time since the drain date, and while I’m not holding my breath, I think he will, at least, be a good friend if romance or reality doesn’t completely destroy us first. 

Finally, while I’m working some insane hours because I have about three extra projects I agreed to take on (no I’m not getting paid…yes, I am networking and padding my resume), I am loving every minute.  My students and I have this incredibly positive dynamic going in the classroom, the two other teachers I work with at my grade level are wonderful!  It helps that they are men.  There is no PMS-ing and the stress due to my colleagues having to have every little thing nailed down and signed in blood is completely gone. These two guys are nowhere near the definition of “control freak”.  If I screw up the world doesn’t end, if they need to adjust something I’m way relaxed and able to flex with it.  It soooo works for us…and it works for the kids too.  I enjoyed working with my old team and my other grade level…but…there were points where it was toxic.  Add to that the fact that I could have gone to grade level meetings for years (and did) and never have said one word and no one would have asked my opinion about anything, nor would they have cared.  That is not the case with my current team.  I contribute and they respect it.  I like that.  Plus, I really like the fact that they don’t PMS…

Living life in all its reality.  The good with the bad.  The tough times laced and threaded with really happy, nearly hysterically funny moments.  Moments like the writing session I had this week where a student announced that he was going to share his writing on “How To Kiss a Girl” and I told him and the class, “Wait!  First of all, I hope this will be rated G and in good taste.”  Hmmm, that was almost as bad as the time in my first year of teaching when at the end of the P.E. session I instructed the students to “Hold your balls!” Not so good….but very funny!  The kissing writing ended up being very sweet and very entertaining.  My kids are not afraid to laugh and enjoy our class.  This pleases me, no matter how backed up my drains are. 

The good with the bad.  Three of my kids had to live elsewhere this week and I missed them, but my second oldest got into the choir she tried out for as well as making it into the advanced drama class she auditioned for.  My oldest passed her written driver’s test with flying colors but failed the driving portion.  She’s taking it well and in 28 more days will be trying again.  My son is in cross country and the change to middle school is working very well for him, even though he still hates doing yard work.  At least I’m not having to harp on him about homework.  He does it gladly these days.  I can’t tell you how relieved I am.  One man who expresses interest in getting to know me, goes silent, two more step in to take his place.  The good with the bad. The bad with the good.  Life in all its reality.  It is never totally and completely a perfect fairy tale is it?

Out of the Clear Blue…No, Out of the Clogged Sewer!

You are never going to believe this!  My sewer backed up again.  You know, the ugly time when you are just doing your business, then you go to flush your business and the water level in the toilet bowl, instead of going down, rises, rises, rises and slops over onto your bathroom floor.  Ick!!!!  Well, that was my wonderful weekend.  It also happened to be a weekend that I was suffering from some kind of Montezuma’s Revenge either from stress or poor diet…or maybe both.  Anyway, this was not a fun experience.  Then to see it not only overflow onto  my bathroom floor, but to back up into my shower and my bathtub in the other bathroom, well, it was a bit much.  Of course, all this happened after I paid all the bills online and didn’t have enough to pay a plumber without overdrafting my account.  Sigh.  Such has been my year. 

So, I call the plumbing company I usually call. I know the problem is roots growing into the drainage system. I know exactly where the cleanout is.  I have an older home, this happens every year.  My ex used to just take the snake and deal with it but he’s not here so now I pay to get that taken care of, because I’m not strong enough to handle the equipment on my own and I’m not even sure what I’d need.  Well, you won’t believe this but…

…the plumber is coming over with tri-tip steaks and two bottles of Merlot!!!!  LOL! 

Life can be hysterically funny at times!

Peeved about the Plumbing

I’m in the process of reading Upton Sinclair’s book, The Jungle, about the Chicago meat packing industry.  Jargis, the main character, heads to America to make his fortune and is met with misfortune after misfortune after misfortune.  He seems to survive but just barely and gradually becomes the worse for the wear.  He ultimately falls in with what Sinclair dubs as “high class criminals” and things get better for him but only because he resorts to criminal acts. 

I once heard it said that it was not money that corrupts, but poverty. 

I have not had a happy experience reading Sinclair’s book.  But at the same time, I’ve been immensely relieved reading this book.

It is depressing, nothing goes right, the people Jargis love all die and he has to give up his morality and decency to survive. 

His struggles mirror my own over the last year and a half all too closely.  At the same time, this book  descriptively elaborates for me that not only could my situation be far worse, it describes in painful detail just exactly how much worse and in what ways. 

After two really poor marital choices, I am in the same boat many people my age are.  I’m over 40, single and reeling financially from a divorce that left me with more month at the end of my money than I care to experience.  I own my house, but I couldn’t sell it for what I owe.  It is a real fixer and needs more work done to maintain it than I can afford right now, and not being handy, the task of learning to do any of it myself is nothing short of overwhelming and terrifying.  Of course, tonight the drains backed up as they usually do at this time of the year because of roots growing into the drainage pipes. I can’t call the plumber because it would be extra charges and I just paid all the bills and there isn’t enough left over anyway.  Hmmm, which bills do I pay late on now?  This last year and a half has felt like one onslaught of financial disaster after another and with four children at home, it isn’t like I can get a second job in the evenings. It’s been a tough year. In many ways, I feel the hopelessness of Jargis, working and working and falling further and further behind.

On the other hand, my experience is vastly different than Jargis’ and I am grateful.  I haven’t had any of my children die.  I get paid pretty decent wages, which, as the debts get paid off will become more than they seem to be now. And, unlike Jargis, I am making progress in a positive direction, just not as quickly or painlessly as I would otherwise wish.  I’m not transplanted to another country where I don’t know the language and the rules of the society.  I enjoy my job and do not have to do dull labor day in and day out. I do own my own home and don’t have to worry when a landlord will evict me because they want to sell their home.  I am able to make my payments and foreclosure is not a reality for me, like it is for so many others across the country in these discouraging economic times.  My experience is nowhere near Jargis’ on so many levels and as I read this book, I am more and more appreciative of the times I live in and the fact that I really do have so much. 

I’m still really peeved that the drains backed up tonight. 

I wonder if, when I look back on this period of my life, I will remember it as Dickens said, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” ?

It Was The Best of Times, It Was The Worst of Times

Music can take me places.  I’m sure you know how that is.  You’re minding your own business and suddenly a song comes on that you haven’t heard in ages and then suddenly you are transported.  You’re completely removed from the present to a different time and place, a world ago, a lifetime ago.  You can smell the smells, feel the feelings and suddenly you are awash in memories like you never left that time or place.  Music transports you.  It transport me.  I was just transported.

I have music all over my house.  I have a small house and don’t have a surround sound, piped in, fancy system like some have.  I do like to “feel” my music. Even as I write this, I have my little 5 CD changer in the kitchen (I have one in nearly every room)  turned up to some ghastly number on the volume dial.  I can feel the reverberations.  But, today, a particular song transported me, and it just came on again and it’s transporting me…again. 

The time was not so long ago.  About this time last year, if my memory serves me well.  The song is K.T. Tunstall’s “Heal Over”.  The events in my life at that time were best described by Charles Dickens in his famous book, “A Tale of Two Cities”.  For me…that time of my life was truly, “the best of times, it was the worst of times”.  I’d left my second husband for the final time.  Divorce proceedings were in process.  It was going to happen.  As a person who walked into marriage the first time with the high fairy tale hopes of “till death do us part”, having to end a second marriage was a devastating blow.  I was in the midst of dealing with that reality and moving back into a house that my ex and his 7 children had just vacated.  And when I mean vacated, I mean vacated.  They took with them things I will be paying for, for many years to come. Things that were purchased at Christmases and birthdays for my children, not his.  And I was left with a house that was little more than a wreck. (No, I’m not bitter or anything.  LOL!) I was embroiled in a battle that had every potential to get very ugly and I was very scared.  It was very possible that I could end up homeless and in debt and, because I had no way to provide for my children, I was afraid I might lose them.  It was the worst of times.

But…it was also the very best of times.  While I was out of my house because I had to leave under police escort to protect myself against a volatile spouse and get what I could in the 20 minutes they allow, I was able to see and experience the goodness and love of friends that I might never have otherwise experienced or known.  I had friends offer me their travel trailer so my youngest and I would have a place to stay for a month while we finished out the school year.  I had other friends offer me a housesitting job while they went vacationing.  That got me through the month, and to the court hearing where I was awarded the house and full custody of my youngest daughter.  And in the background of all of this, K.T. Tunstall’s song, “Heal Over” was playing.  Playing. Playing.  Reminding me of what my mother always used to tell me, “This, too, shall pass.”  And…it did.

I ended up being awarded my house, my ex disappeared rather than creating a crazy scene, I did get all the marital debt but I have my home and don’t have to move four kids out to a rental and worry when I will get 30 days notice so they can put the house up on the market.  I’m safe.  My children are safe and all the fears I had at this time last year have dissipated into nothingness.  But that song, that particular song, takes me back.  It takes me back to a time of uncertainty and transition.  It takes me back to a painfully difficult time of learning to parent on my own, and of learning what it means to be a homeowner.  It takes me back to hot, sweaty days of having to repaint, repair, clean out, fumigate, and scrub, scrub, scrub every surface and cabinet to make my home clean and liveable for my kids and I. I takes me back to spending a month trying to figure out how to clean out a pool, finally having to drain it completely and start over.  It takes me back to days, when filled with fear and uncertainty myself, I had to be strong and hopeful and positive for my children.  It takes me back to days, where we pulled together, attempted things we didn’t possibly think we could handle in a million years, and we did more than just handle them and we did them well! 

That song takes me back.  Heal over?  You bet I’ll heal over.  Make no mistake about it.  

It was the best of times and the worst of times but, funny thing, all I have are good memories.

Life is Grand….Life Sucks!

Life is good…life sucks.  I live with these two conflicting realities daily.  I suspect I am not alone.  Today alone life sucked and life was grand all in the same 24-hour period.

To start with, the weather continues to be record-breakingly hot.  And, now, we are having fires in the area which creates smoke and haze.  For me, since I’m not asthmatic, this is not a problem, but the haze has been so heavy that even I am struggling to enjoy breathing when outside.  In addition, I am having to run my air conditioner, which translates into higher electric bills for me.  That part of life sucks.

But, I was awakened this morning by the sound, of all sounds, thunder!  The crisp, loud boom and crackle of thunder followed by the loud pelting of summer rain on my back deck covering was a welcome sound.  It was a warm summer morning rain that brought momentary refreshment to what has been an exceptionally stifling hot summer. That was grand!

Then, somehow, the son, decided he wanted to be argumentative.  You see, today is the day my three older children left to go for two weeks with their dad. He, of course, had not cleaned up his room and therefore I woke him up earlier than the other children so he could get that taken care of before he left.  Yes, I’m a mean mom.  I do expect that my children participate in chores and duties around the house…and a fairly orderly bedroom (not perfect, but orderly) is part of the deal for me.  So, of course, I awakened him far too early and he grumbled and complained.  I had to really hold my ground with him, and since he was really working hard to tick me off (and nearly succeeding) I had to continue to remind myself, this too shall pass.  Life at that moment sucked.

Then, suddenly, the dad arrives, all the kids are tumbling out the door with their possessions and stuff and the house is, at once, wonderfully silent and dreadfully vacant.  Life sucked but it was also grand all in the same moment.

Later today, I was tasked with helping my second oldest find a swimsuit for vacation.  Not an easy task at this time of the year since there is little to choose from in our neck of the woods and also since her dad places such strict requirements on her for her attire.  Searching every store in town sucked. 

But then, finding the right swimsuit, which we finally did, at 70% off, was grand!

Spending the evening completely alone, doing whatever I want, whenever I wanted, was absolutely grand.

Listening to the thunder and anticipating another summer storm (which has not yet materialized) was also grand.

Missing my kids is not so grand. In fact, it sucks.  I walk past their empty (clean, but empty) rooms and I miss them so deeply it physically hurts.  Definitely, a not-so-grand experience.

Life is grand…and yet it sucks…all at the same time.  This is what makes up our human experience. 

And, fortunately for me, today, I did not experience any of those really devastaing blows such as the announcement that a loved one has a terminal disease or that I do.  I didn’t learn that my spouse was no longer in love with me and I did not walk into a number of other very real tragedies that other people in this world are currently experiencing.  I’m thinking of my friend across the country who mourns the loss of his mother who recently passed.  In light of this, I am grateful that my kids love me, they are healthy, I am in good health and of sound mind…well, okay…at least mostly sound mind. I am employed and able to provide for those I am responsible for.  I must conclude that though I am uncomfortable with or don’t like parts of my life, for the most part I really have it pretty good. 

Life today, for me, is more on the grand than the not-so-grand side.  I’m grateful for that.

What side of life are you on and why?

Cat  (a.k.a. The Wild Mind)