Decisions

I’ve been busy lately.

I absolutely love my poetry class. I wasn’t sure I could write “on demand,” but part of the classwork is keeping a journal, and the poem I turned in this week came directly from free-writing in it. I turned out two poems I was very happy with in two weeks.

I also love being surrounded by other writers. There is a great supportive atmosphere in the room, and I’ve gotten some fantastic feedback on my work. When I was writing my second poem, it did indeed hit me like lightning (as my friend Laura would say) that this is what I really want to do. Maybe not all poetry, and it might take some time to figure out the “how” part. But at least the “what” part is settled. The revelation was followed by a big internal “DUH!” moment. I’ve been writing my whole life since the inception of my first independent newspaper The Daily Cat when I was 5 or 6: my nursery rhyme poems in elementary school, my angst-y teenage journals peppered with profanity written so furiously it was embossed on the page, my rock-bottom depression anthems from college. I’ve never not written.

Why the hell did it take me this long to figure it out? Continue reading “Decisions”

Motherhood

My niece just had her first baby and sent me the photos of my great-niece’s sweet little face—such bright eyes!—peeking out from under her hospital hat.

Since I can’t jump in the car and drive like a bat out of hell to the hospital where she’s at, I’m writing instead, reminiscing about the intense experience of having my own two babies. The first was nearly eight years ago and the second will be two years at the end of September.

Continue reading “Motherhood”

Incentives

I’ve complained before that being a functioning adult is tough sometimes. See previous post about the slog. But recently I had one of those days where it reminded me that part of my difficulty, genuinely, is that crazy shit happens to me on a regular basis.

On a recent Saturday I went to a large box store to pick up a grill I ordered for Dan’s birthday. The only reason I didn’t have this sent directly to my front porch is, Dan was home all week, and he’d have seen the huge box and probably opened it or figured out what it was. I wanted it to be a surprise. So I had it sent to the store. I just had that one place to go and one thing to do. I needed to pick up the grill (and its accessories) and buy a few other things at the same store. Easy, right? ONE store.

I got there and got my few things, then picked up the pick-up things. All was OK. The baby wanted to walk around on his own, and he even did that a bit and didn’t wreck too much stuff (I cleaned up what he did knock over in the toy aisle).

Then I went to check out. When I was checking out I said “I was just picking up these two things, so they’re already paid for. Let me know if you need to see the receipt.”

The kid behind the counter said “Oh, that’s OK. I can scan the bar code.” There were several bar codes on each item to choose from. He tried them all, and none seemed to work. Finally he got one to work on the charcoal bag but he could not get the one on the box to scan.

He paged someone for help. Another kid came over. She said “Oh, those are pick-up items. You don’t need to scan them.”

I said, feeling like someones sixty-year-old Aunt Barbara, “I think the charcoal got scanned. Can you make sure I don’t get charged for that since I already paid for it?”

The kid said “Oh, sure. No problem I’ll take it off.”

Great!

Then the kid picked up my six-pack of Oberon I was also getting for Dan’s birthday. “Oh. I can’t sell this…I’m not eighteen.” He turned to the other kid who had come to help. “Can you…”

She smiled and shrugged. “I’m not eighteen either.” She paged someone.

The guy who had originally given me my pick-up items came to the front. He went to scan my beer but he was logged in on another register so he had to page someone and get a code to log in again on that register or to log someone else in, I don’t know. I was just trying to keep my son entertained since we’d been there a while.

Everything finally got paid for and loaded. I got stopped at the door because I had the giant box and had to prove I’d picked up things and bought them too all in the same trip. Then I was free to go.

I rolled the caravan to the vehicle and unloaded. I got both kids strapped in. I was about to pull out when I thought “Huh, I should check that receipt…I forgot in all the chaos.” Oh look, nine bucks for charcoal.

I unstrapped the kids. I was really tempted to say the hell with it but…nine bucks. So we trooped back in and went to customer service. The same guy who had done the pick-up order and sold me the beer was at the customer service desk now. I said “Hey, it’s me again!” and told him I got charged for the charcoal I’d picked up.

He laughed and said “Oh, sorry about that! He can get you a refund,” and pointed to the guy next to him. That guy looked at my receipt and said “Oh, there’s only one on here,” so I showed him the pick-up email and told him there should be none on there. I finally got my nine bucks back. I think. I haven’t checked my credit card statement yet and I guess I’d better.

By then I was exhausted. Herding kids in stores is exhausting enough but I felt like I’d personally met every employee at that particular location and stood in every line they had to offer while I was herding the kids too.

I don’t know if it’s a typical part of adulthood but it happens to me a lot. I think I’m going to get one little thing done that day. It ends up feeling like I ran a marathon. I feel my patience draining out of me like sand through an hourglass. I do a good job at just keeping on going most of the time. I did feel like complaining to at least one of the twelve people I encountered at the one store, but it wouldn’t have done any good anyway.

You know how some people complain about kids these days, always wanting participation trophies? I think sometimes we should have them for adults too. Or maybe like the opposite of customer loyalty rewards, where instead of “thanks for being a frequent customer” the message is “Sorry you had a crappy experience” and you get a consolation prize.

The funny thing is, sometimes they do give those out to people who complain loudly, even when there’s nothing wrong! I’ve seen it happen at restaurants. “Here’s your free drink/appetizer/meal for not knowing how to order and being a difficult customer.” And as a parent I always hear “Reward good behavior instead of punish bad.”

We need an initiative to start handing out cookies or prizes when someone does a good job or someone else isn’t a jerk when they get bad service. Like adult parenting. Or an anti-asshole campaign. Maybe we could even collect “I wasn’t an asshole today” stamps and cash them in for prizes later.

Every citizen could get so many “not an asshole” stamps to share or dole out on a daily basis. When someone lets you go in traffic…beep and  hand them one out the window. When you hear someone tell their kid not to kick your seat on the plane…give both the parent and the kid one. Store and restaurant managers could have a deck of these and they pass them out to customers when they know something crappy went down and the customer didn’t act like a fool.

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The possibilities are endless! This could be a society-transforming idea.

If anyone wants to send cookies or prizes to me for sharing it I’d be glad to send you my addy. 😉

 

 

 

Attack of the Killer Slog

I haven’t had much time to write lately, and I still don’t have many answers to all the questions lurking in my future.

The living situation is still hit or miss. The landlord did let another set of new neighbors move in with a dog. He told us that since the dog is old and sedentary, it shouldn’t bother Dan’s allergies (?). Then Dan had an allergist appointment and something is in fact bothering his allergies. For now, the allergist said it could be the pollen and/or the dog; the house is very poorly sealed. Once the pollen dies down, Dan is supposed to reassess, and then we find out whether we need to move or not. He tried going off his steroid, though, and had to go back on it. So that isn’t good news, but since it is already the end of July, we might make it until our lease is up. We wanted to either move this summer or stick it out until next summer so we wouldn’t have to change our daughter’s school midyear, though. I may end up driving her if we move.

Speaking of moving, I’ve been at my new job for nine months now. We aren’t sure about buying a house until my job situation stabilizes. Some changes are taking place in September that might improve things, but I won’t know until I get there. Meanwhile, I upped my dosage. That helps me get by with my OCD but it also helps me make more mistakes and forget things.

A troubling concept to me in my adult life is that large parts of it are always going to be a slog. Mostly the parts bringing in income and supporting all the other non-sloggy parts. Isn’t “slog” a great word? Even if it sucks as an actual course of action? But seriously, being an adult requires a lot of slogging. Then you get to a bright spot and go “Woohoo, a bright spot, this made the slog all worth it…this will last me through the slog to the next bright spot.” And off you go slogging along again.

I see all these stress-relief techniques being promoted to help with this kind of thing, and I’m suspicious. Maybe it’s because I have a hard time doing nothing and relaxing. But does it really work like a pair of snowshoes, helping you slog a little less, or is it just a way to pretend you aren’t slogging? If you pretend you aren’t slogging, will you ever stop?

There are some great things going on in our lives. We’re awaiting the arrival of a new grand-niece. I can’t wait to hold her and huff the new-baby smell. One of my best friends is coming to visit in August and I’m knitting us bat hats. I’ve been knitting a lot more lately to keep from stress-eating across every bakery in town (but when I do want to stress-eat, damn, there are some good bakeries around here!). Dan and I are quietly working on alternate career plans in case the job situation doesn’t improve. I have my first poetry class starting in August. And of course, my family is awesome, even when trying to keep up with the toddler is pure insanity.

I just wish I could spend more time enjoying the fun stuff instead of “sticking it out” and waiting for something to change (again). But the trees are already starting to turn color, Halloween (my favorite holiday) is right around the corner, and I won’t be stuck at my freezing cold desk in Slogville for the rest of my life.

 

 

The Marriage that Almost Wasn’t

Today was my 17th wedding anniversary.

Since we are heathens, we were married in a civil ceremony at the Durham County Jail in 2001. The magistrate worked at the jail instead of the courthouse on weekends, so we packed up our witnesses and trekked to the jailhouse to get married.

Before that, we lived together for almost a year. But how it all happened is the story I want to tell now.

Dan and I are both dumb as bricks when it comes to love.

We were friends for years before we started dating. We met in karate class when I was 14 and he was 17. We didn’t always get along so well, particularly since I was the teacher’s pet and Dan thought that was unfair. We also had some pretty severe rivalry going on when it came to video games (he called me button masher) and Magic: The Gathering (I called him you cheatin’ bastard).

I went away to college for two years and then transferred back to the community college in our hometown. We were both seeing other people by then, but not really liking them all that much. I saw him at karate and on campus, and we ran around with the same gang of nerds.

By the summer of 1997, we ended up hanging out together more and more often. We liked a lot of the same things: hobbies, music, movies…often we complained to each other about what we didn’t have in common with the people we were dating.

I knew by then that I was attracted to Dan, but I didn’t want to screw up our friendship by acting on it. It took one if my girlfriends stabbing me in the back to get me and Dan together.

She had the same birthday as him, so on their birthday I took them out drinking. Now one thing everyone knows about Dan is that he’s a cheap date. A few beers and he is in lala-land.

On the way home I stopped to go into a store for snacks, and Dan was asleep…er maybe passed out… in the back seat. When I came out this hooker was trying to put the moves on him. She knew I was interested and tried to poach my future husband, the bitch.

I drove home in a fury, and the next day I had to explain to him what happened and why I sent my ex-friend home early and was not speaking to her. So that was how we ended up dating.

Fast forward three years later: Dan graduated in December and I was set to graduate in May. Both of us were looking for jobs. I was interviewing with just about anywhere for practice, but by the end, I had job offers in three different cities.

Dan accepted an offer in North Carolina. When he was weeks away from moving, we had a long-overdue talk about our plans. I thought that because he hadn’t asked me if I wanted to join him in NC, it meant that we were either going to try the long distance thing or split up. He thought that since I was interviewing all over, I was going off to do my own thing.

In this talk it became known that of course he wanted me to come to NC with him and of course I was perfectly willing to turn down three job offers. Like I said, dumb as a brick.

I moved my stuff down that May into his apartment where he had one chair and a cardboard box for a TV stand. We got married the next March and here we are, 17 years later.

I don’t believe in love at first sight or soul mates or any of that nonsense. But I do believe I ended up with the one person I want to spend the rest of my life with. We make each other laugh and get each other through the hard times. We’re comfortable together, like that favorite chair with your butt imprint, the one that makes you give the side-eye to any guest who tries to sit in it.

I’m not great at being romantic, obviously, but somehow I ended up with an amazing husband, partner, and best friend anyway.

Happy 17th Mr. F! With all my crazy-ass love.