Saturday, September 6, 2014

Things No One Tells You About Living in an Apartment (When You're an Adult and You Start Giving a Shit)

Living in an apartment when you're an adult is not so bad.

Except when you have a job you must get up for, kids who must go to school in the morning, or when you wish for a modicum of privacy.

No one tells you that your neighbors will cook foods with smells that defy the laws of physics and displace the oxygen in your stairwell with the scent of burnt curry.

No one tells you that while you thought you had heard a lot of bad pop music, you haven't really experienced it until you've heard it blared from a teenage girls slumber party, replete with the background squeals of... teenage girls.
At one in the morning.

No one tells you that it will become your habit to lock everything, all the time, because the little bastard who lives in the next row will steal... anything-your daughter's gardening tools-for sheer spite.

No one tells you that your neighbors will have finely tuned the art of waiting for you to move your car so that thirty of their very closest friends and family members can park right in front of your apartment.
Seriously, you were only gone for 15 minutes to get a damned gallon of milk.

No one tells you, but everyone knows, that your postal worker is literally certifiably insane, but they still aren't going to give you your mail when it comes to their house by mistake. It's every man for himself out here in the 'hood.

No one tells you about the weird pinwheel flower memorial in the flowerbed for the one woman that everyone liked. (Surely there isn't a new tenant already? They NEVER move anyone in that fast.)

No one tells you that you will start to hope that you are the "loud sex neighbor" because you don't want any of the other available labels.

No one tells you that you will have a flower pot burial for your pet rat because there's nowhere else to put him and tossing him in the dumpster will upset your kids,
and just feels wrong anyway.

No one tells you this shit, because no one in their right mind would believe it.

RIP Sandy, you were one of the good ones.



 




Friday, July 18, 2014

The Missing Link

I've been angry.
So, so angry.
Beating my head against the wall and wondering why it wasn't hurting any less.

I was married.
If you don't know about that, you've come too far. Turn around and read the rest of the blog.
I'm not married anymore,
and as good as that feels, it has also been frustrating.

...



It's not (not anymore, anyway) that I wasn't important, that despite all his begging and pleading and plotting and arm-twisting, when I didn't come back,

I was almost instantly replaced, like a set of fucking steak knives.

It's not the name he foisted on me that I hated, although I didn't waste any time giving it back.
It's not the money I've lost or the opportunities I've lost or the (questionable) friends I've lost
or the credit that is now forever in the garbage
-I'm in the 22% APR circle of Hell for all eternity-
or even my long-term affair with anxiety, low self-esteem, and gut-wrenching poverty.

(Because, it seems, being not wrong also entitles you to not pay court-ordered child support.)

It's that he will never, EVER, be sorry.
He will never, ever admit to being wrong.
He will never regret anything he did while we were married,
or in the name of getting me back, and then later to keep me away.
He has told his story so often and so vehemently that he believes it himself,
and he
will ne
ver change.

Because he's a brute.
For all his need and his cunning and his inability to lick his own nutsack,
he's an animal.

Realizing that he won't get it,
I mean really knowing it,
has helped a little.
It doesn't change anything but my perspective, but that's the last thing, I think.
That's what is restoring that last little bit of sanity that I'm going to get back.
Knowing that he can't get it, and not only is it not my fault,
but it's not my responsibility to fix it, or live with it.

I don't even CARE if it gets fixed now.
He's wife number TWO's problem,
and gooooood fucking luck to her.

I'm good, now.

Becoming successful and wealthy beyond my wildest dreams, just out of his reach, however, wouldn't hurt either.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Things You Should Know Before You Bring Home a Cat


Leave nothing that you love on the floor.
Or the table. Or out at all.


If your cat is a jerk,
...
No, wait...
WHEN your cat is a jerk (this will be nearly all the time)
he or she, or it (does the spawn of Satan have a gender?)
will be in your clothes basket, on your work table, chewing on your eyebrow (not even kidding) standing on your nipple...

There will be hair.
On everything. In everything.

Your cat will attempt to taste test your tea after stirring your toilet water,
lay on your keyboard, stick its butt in your face, knock over your
house of cards (literally and metaphorically speaking) and pee in places you didn't think likely or possible

(really, they can pee straight out, parallel to the floor-not just the boys)
and use everything as a scratching post.
Except the scratching post.
This same rule will apply, albeit arbitrarity, to the "cat" furniture, dish, toy, food...
anything you bring home that is specific to the cat.

They will show you the soft, furry, underbelly, but you will learn not to touch it.
Your inner Admiral Ackbar will warn you, "It's a trap."

A cat will teach you all about catch-22's and circular problems,
sometimes by destroying something, but usually by being sick,
when you can least afford it.
If you get the broken cat from the litter, this will be all the time.
You will not be able to afford another trip to the vet because the cat will always be sick,
and the cat will always be sick because you can't afford another trip to the vet.

But they are cute and furry and entertaining and suspiciously nice to you when you are sick.
Maybe because they know if you die no one else will ever put up with them.

So of course, I got three.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Being Poor: Part 1, 137

I used to be a right-wing conservative.
Twenty years ago I'm not sure that was the term, but that's what I was.
Then I married an abusive idiot.
(Of COURSE I didn't know he was an abusive idiot at the time.
What kind of question IS that?)

Then I got poor. Really poor.
Too poor to get out, poor.
So poor, I woke up one morning to go to my two jobs to find that a correlating number of my tires had gone flat overnight.
Worn to the belts.

Literally too broke to go to work, now there's irony for you.

There's more, and if you know me you know a lot of it.
If you don't know me, the story is too long. I cannot sum up.

Read the rest of the blog, some of it is there.
But I wasn't lazy, or uneducated. I wasn't raised in the system.
My parents were upstanding, responsible members of the community.
My childhood was awesome.
Fucking awesome.
Amaze. Balls.

And I realized the difference between me and most of the people I grew up with.
I got poor, and they did not. I won't say they didn't have their rough patches or their financial woes, but I will say that a rough patch or a financial upset is not the same thing as

being
poor.

Being poor is like being in a boot camp only it's your life.
Everything revolves around it and there is no time limit.
It's not a sixteen week course. There's no end date.

You are broken and, if you're strong enough, rebuilt,
but you are not the same as you were before.
Your skin is thicker and your attitude a little tougher,

and you probably swear a lot.

But...
your heart is kinder,
and you don't think the way you used to.
You see the human element in every person,
and you are stunned by the inhuman elements in other people
because
your brain is wired differently now.

There is no point, here.
I can't demand that everyone spend a certain amount of time poor.
I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.
I mean that.
I'm just saying you'll never get it.
Maybe it's because you can't.

Just don't let it be because you won't.

Friday, May 23, 2014

OPP (Other People's Parents)

The flyer for the TAG (the gifted program for our school district) picnic looked innocuous enough,

For the students in the gifted program...

 
so I thought, "Sure, we'll go to the park, and I'll suck it up long enough to make small talk with the other parents while the kids play catch or get their faces painted or build bottle rockets or something.
Why not."

Well, I will tell you why not:
Eleventy billion people.
Inadequate parking.
Nowhere to put down the covered dish I was asked to bring.
No obvious place to put the toiletry donations I was asked to bring.
No one I could see to collect the dollar I was asked to bring.
I also forgot (a second time) to grab a blanket to sit on after I angrily trudged my deviled eggs back to the car.

 At least I knew where my towel was.


Okay, the blanket was on me,
but did I mention the pollen count?
And the eleventy billion people?

The event was an organizational disaster.
The phrase "monkey fucking a football" comes to mind.
Not exactly what I expected from
the people leading our county's best and brightest...

Eventually, and by eventually I mean approximately eight minutes, my daughter found me, declared that she only found two people she knew and that the ant colony of kids on the play equipment made it impossible to actually play and that she wanted some deviled eggs. So she and I went to the car where she ate them while we debated whether we should go back into the fray for a drink or call it a day.

Bet you can't guess what we did.


The convenience store we stopped at on our way home had peach Nehi,
which made up for a lot.

Monday, April 28, 2014

To All You Normal Guys

The other day I was getting ready to run some errands of the sort that require real, grownup clothes, and as I moved a computer chair (not mine) to lean over a laundry basket (not mine) and a coffee table (mine, but full of stuff that is not mine) to slide open the closet door, an effort further hindered by the dress shirts (not mine) hanging from the sliding-door track, I pulled out an acceptable three-quarter sleeve mom-top, and
I realized I didn't care.

I. Didn't. Care.

I didn't care that my delicate fucking sense of order was disturbed by random stuff.
I didn't care that I was going to have to lean over all of it again to put clean stuff away,
eventually.
Later.


(I hate putting the clean stuff away.)

Anyway, yeah, the house is a hodgepodge of mismatched shelves crammed with all manner of books, games, music and knick-knacks I have been lugging around since childhood,
but damn it, those things have their place.
The only thing stopping me cordoning off the area and labeling them all is that I already know where they go.

So in the midst of the casual arrangement of... of...
of empty Excedrin bottles and torn envelopes and winter hats piled, essentially, in a room where there is
"a place for everything (except my own clean laundry basket) and everything in its place,"
not caring is a huge deal.
Huge.
HUUUUUUGE.




Anyway, All of You Normal Guys...

Okay, yeah, you're cute, and goofy, and smart, and fun.
The kind of guy we should have dated except when we were young

we didn't know any better,
but also...

You don't lose your nut when we forget the Horsey Sauce. You don't tell us we're incompetent when we drive by the post office twice in one day and don't check the mail. You don't insinuate we cannot do things because we are women, but sometimes you do those things for us anyway because you are nice and have a little spare time.

You don't have a creepy dynamic with your mother.
Love her, hate her, you've picked one.

Hopefully the first one, but points for consistency either way.

You don't freak out over words like "forgot," "lost," "broken," "cat puke," "male friends" (any friends) or "electric bill."
You don't automatically accuse us of having an affair with the drive-through bank teller or the guy at Subway when we've been out twenty minutes longer than expected.

(Seriously. The guy at Subway. Because you went to get the sandwiches that CAPTAIN CRAZY ASKED YOU FOR.)

You don't insist that you want us to be stay-at-home moms while simultaneously being angry with us for being unemployed.
You don't beat up the cat.
Or the dog.
Or the refrigerator.

You don't question when we hold back a little because we still have that murky reservoir of fear.

You bring us flowers and listen when we ask you to not put our favorite mug in the dishwasher. You smack our asses AND treat us like we're interesting. You give great hugs and wash your own laundry and watch The Princess Bride with us at least once and are nice to our families and understand that we might want to see Counting Crows and Toad the Wet Sprocket in concert even if you don't.

Oh,

and you wash the dishes.
DAMN that's sexy.

No, we're not twenty, and we're in piles of debt, and we might be a little reactive...
and trying to squelch it.
Not well.
But we love you.
So all that normal stuff?
Keep that shit up.





Monday, April 21, 2014

Part V - About Leaving


Ellie Goulding is singing on my Spotify station, "This love will be your downfall," and I wonder aloud back to Ellie, "Oh, Ellie, where in the Hell were YOU 18 years ago?"

My Achilles heel (and, apparently, Ellie's) thinking that I can pacify the disturbed and soothe the needy, and that I reflexively feel that is something I should have to do.

That's what really got me in trouble, because the worst thing about dealing with someone who's emotionally crippled is how they think they need you, and how they convince you of the same thing.

And they really do think they need you when what they need is:
a parent
a cheerleader
a cook, maid, secretary, financial adviser...

But they don't need YOU.
They don't care that you're smart or an artist or that you're good with dogs or that you know how to use a level and you're really good with a power drill or that you can locate the alternator on your Japanese car and that you're a damn fine customer service rep with a knack for explaining the concept of "proportion" to little old ladies who are frustrated with the copy machine.
That you are three quarters of the way to two college degrees. (No, that scares them.)
Not unless it's a bragging point for them.
Not unless it comes in handy for them.

They don't need YOU, because "You" come with feelings and friends and a family and needs of your own, and so they systematically strip the part of you that makes you... you until all that's left is a weird, compartmentalized shell that houses:

A driver (someone has to pick up the auto parts)
A scapegoat (for when someone has ordered the wrong auto parts)
A verbal punching bag because now the store is closed and they still don't have their auto parts. Or door hinges. Sanding belts. Enough ranch dressing for their fries. Whatever.

You are introduced as "the wife" when you are introduced at all.
You become sort of an extension of his body that just so happens to walk and drive to the parts store independently of his body when it needs to be done.

Eventually, if you have a good friend, or you had a good upbringing, or you see those hokey public service announcements in the year-old Woman's Day magazine in the doctor's office, or maybe you are just strong enough to be holding on to some vestige of your self-worth,
you'll hear a familiar voice that whispers to you when it's quiet,
"This feels wrong."

You'll discredit that voice for a while,
until you realize it's yours,
and it's right.

Hopefully, you leave.


Later it will seem so obvious that you weren't the problem.

I mean, it's just sense,you can't make someone happy who is clinging to the boat anchor instead of the life raft.
They're Hell-bent on going down, and they'll think nothing of taking you down with them,

and they won't even be grateful for the company.