Waiting For the Other Shoe To Drop

Life is good! I haven’t felt this good in a very long time. All the pieces are falling in lately- not just bits here and there.

-I’ve got a new job making pretty decent money- especially compared to what I was making. And my hope is that it just goes up from there.

-My relationship with my daughter has taken a 180 degree turn. It was never awful but we weren’t connecting like we had in the past and I didn’t feel like we were as close. We are very much back to where we used to be before this divorce hit us and rocked our world.

-My son is happy. There is a possibility he has a girlfriend even. I say it’s possible because even he is not completely sure where things stand with this girl. It’s very new although they’ve been friends for a while.

-Speaking of my son, he got his last name legally changed to mine a few weeks ago.

-The mobster and I are still going strong. I was driving home yesterday thinking I am so damn lucky to have found this man.

-Jerry Lee is still abiding by the court order. We had a little HR snafu a few weeks ago but that got cleared up and appeared to have been an honest mistake on the company’s part.

Everything is going great and I hate to say it but I’m beginning to sound like the ex, always wondering when the other shoe would fall and everything would come tumbling down. It’s like, “How can this be my life? There’s not one thing I can complain about (not that I’m looking for things to complain about but who has a perfect life?). I’ve decided to keep riding the wave of happiness. I’m always hearing it’s a choice so I’m choosing to be happy and to not worry about what may happen down the road. After all, I’ve already been to hell and back. I’m prepared for pretty much anything.

For those of you who wanted a quick synopsis on how or what I’m doing you can stop reading now. The above paragraphs were the highlights. For those who would like a more detailed report, keep reading. There will be a quiz at the end.

The New Job

I started my new job on Monday. I have only a vague idea of what I’m doing but that’s okay. I tell myself that in no time I’m going to know exactly what to do, and all those reports that cause my eyes to glaze over and my brain to hurt will be common knowledge. I’ll be navigating through new systems in no time.

I’ll be very honest. The job has been a huge piece of the puzzle. That was the one area of my life that had me very disappointed. Five years divorced and I was still not making enough to support myself without his help. Now, I’m not making six figures. I didn’t go from barely scraping by on what I made to making enough that I will never have to worry about money again. But this promotion is HUGE! I’ll let you know how huge when I finally get my new paycheck. That won’t happen for another 3 weeks- next paycheck will be half old job/half new job.

For the first time in years I am not worried about money. Between my new paycheck and the fact that Jerry Lee is abiding by the court order I am not currently under any financial strains. It feels wonderful. It’s been a long time coming.

Plus, as I said above, this new job is the tip of the iceberg. If I can excel in this position (and I know I can) I can do other things, I can go other places. We are one of the few departments in the bank that has analysts that are completely work from home. We have people on our team that don’t even live in this state. I can take a class and an exam and become certified, which makes me more valuable. If I do ever decide to leave my current employer I am already starting out at a much higher pay rate than what I was at before. I feel like the sky’s the limit.

Rock Star

I’m not sure if I spoke of this before but my daughter had a meltdown of epic proportions over Thanksgiving. She told me she felt like she’d been abandoned by both of her parents. She and the mobster don’t see eye to eye politically and she was bent out of shape about that. She thought my entire focus was on him and there was nothing left for her.

I pointed out to her that I felt like she didn’t have time for me. She was occupied with her friends and her boyfriend; I thought I was giving her what she wanted- her freedom. I also pointed out that despite her thinking I had been gone “all summer” visiting the mobster, the reality was I had seen him a grand total of three times while she was home. One of those times she came with me and the other two times she was invited to come along but declined. One of those times was also court; it wasn’t like I had a huge choice in the matter.

Anyway, our talk did us a world of good and because of the talk I have now started going down to visit her in her college town. I try to go down at least once a month. I also do my best to stay off my phone when I’m with her because I know that bothers her as well.

It seems to have done the trick because our relationship is like it used to be. It’s still difficult having her move out and in with her boyfriend; I’m really going to miss her this summer. But it’s nice having her excited to see me when I come down. I guess I never realized how much she still needed me, despite all the enticing new experiences at college.

Picasso

Oh, my sweet boy. He’s a man now, you know. Eighteen and almost ready to graduate. He’s been doing the online school thing. Has no desire to go back. Has no desire to walk at graduation either, although he says he will if I want him to.

He’s been crushing on a girl for about two years now and apparently the last time she was over she “made a move” on him. He wasn’t expecting it but he was pleased. I hope she doesn’t break his heart.

He legally got his last name changed last month. It was a fairly long process and I have my mom to thank because she did most of the running around with him to get things in order.

He had a Zoom court hearing at 9:30 in the morning. After we were done we went out for breakfast. His pick was Cracker Barrell. I bought way too much in the store, including a vinyl record for him and plenty of Ale-8. After breakfast we went to the guitar store and I ended up buying his a bass.

He used to play the cello and loved it, but he wanted something smaller and decided to go with a bass. I hear him upstairs now occasionally playing. He’s teaching himself. It’s a lot better than the recorder that he has been playing.

He’s still working. Still enjoying it.

I cannot say enough good things about the benefits of medication. He is like a completely different kid now that he’s been on his anti-anxiety/anti-depression medicine. He does things he never would have done before. Simple things- like making a phone call, or talking to someone he doesn’t know.

The Mobster

He is getting closer and closer to finally being able to sell his route and move up to where I am. I’m looking forward to the day we no longer have to plan weekends away in order to spend time together. I’m looking forward to mundane and ordinary, although I’m not sure anything is mundane and ordinary with him.

It’s going on four years now and the magic hasn’t stopped. He still makes me laugh. He still puts together the grossest ingredients possible and calls it a culinary masterpiece (I’ll be doing most of the cooking when we need to cook). He still stops at Lover’s Leap every time he drives to meet me and takes a picture. He’s still sweet and kind and wonderful. He still laughs at my jokes and tells me I’m beautiful and amazing.

We have our share of arguments but overall things are pretty dang swell between the two of us. As much as I hate what Jerry Lee did to me and my kids, I know I would have never left. I was so faithful that when I fantasized about hot male actors I had to envision myself as a widow in order to be okay with it. I apparently don’t know how fantasy works. LOL Anyway, as faithful as I was I would never have met the mobster, much less been able to enter into a relationship with him, if I was still with Jerry Lee. Let me assure you my relationship with the mobster is a million times better than what I ever had with Jerry Lee.

I’m so thankful for him and he’s so thankful for me. As much as it sucks to have your world implode when your spouse cheats I think both of us appreciate the other so much more because of everything we experienced with the exes. I can’t say it enough: I’m so damn lucky to have found him.

Jerry Lee

Jerry Lee has not yet dipped his toe back into the waters of contempt. That direct deposit comes in like clockwork. Almost.

A few weeks back the deposit did not appear in my account when it should have. Payday was on a Sunday so the money should have been there on Friday. It was not. When I contacted him he told me he only realized that morning that he did not get paid and he was talking to HR to get it straightened out.

I had several people tell me there was no way that was the truth. I was crossing my fingers because I couldn’t figure out what he stood to gain by lying. It’s not like he was going to have an extra two or three months to con me. This was going to be pretty straight forward and quickly concluded if he was jerking me around.

He kept in contact and told me HR was cutting him a check on the following Friday (so a week later). If they didn’t give me my portion he would Venmo the amount to me if that was okay by me.

That Friday the money appeared in my account. It was from the same employer so he didn’t change jobs and not tell me. I guess it really was a random screw up.

The very next week I got paid again (President’s Day was on Monday so I got my money on Friday) just as I should have.

My only complaint right now is that I submitted Picasso’s final therapy bill to him right around that time and he still hasn’t paid his portion. His response when I sent it was something along the lines of: receipt acknowledged. So he’s back to being his usual a-hole self. He’s had it for about a month now. I already paid the bill so I’m not waiting on pins and needles. I’ll give him a little more time and then inquire about it. You know what the best part is? I don’t NEED his help. It will all be a bonus.

I haven’t been saving as much as I originally wanted to, but as I said previously, I have not felt this financially free in years. I paid off my car in December. I paid off Picasso’s therapy bill. I have no more lawyer fees. I paid off my Target card and then put more stuff on it (I have an $800 limit, I think, so it’s not like it’s a huge amount to begin with). I’m paying off my Kohl’s bill in big chunks. I have plenty put away for taxes this year so I won’t be scrambling to pay those this year. I do have some in savings, just not as much as I wanted to have. Right now though I’m trying to pay off bills while also putting aside a few hundred. I’m keeping my HSA contribution at the obscene $200 per paycheck for now. Rock Star needs her wisdom teeth out. I’m probably going to need a crown. All three of us wear glasses or contacts so need eye exams and contacts and/or glasses. I may knock it down later on in the year. I haven’t decided yet.

Life is good, people. It’s taken five and a half years to get here but I like where I am now.

Why Do We Force It?

Following up on my lovely post about parental alienation, I’m going to tackle the subject of forcing a relationship between the abandoning parent and the child one more time.

So often I see others admonishing a parent to extend grace to the abandoning parent. They’re told to offer up an olive branch, be the bigger person, love their child more than they hate the ex. Make that phone call. Offer up that extra time. Remind them of the school conference. The dance recital. The football game. The Honors assembly.

You hear over and over again: That’s still their other parent. You should encourage a relationship between the two of them. It’s the only mom or dad they have.

Why? Why does everyone put so much stock into this idea that because you share DNA you must have a relationship with that person regardless of how poorly they treat you? Why do we continue to sell this idea that abusive behavior is love?

I’m not suggesting that you tell your kids to cut off their other parent. What I would suggest is that you listen to your children when they tell you they want nothing to do with the other parent. You don’t force it. You don’t lie to them and tell them that this other parent loves them; you don’t know that. And even if it’s true what a shitty example of love. Love is not putting the other woman/other man ahead of your children’s feelings. When the amount of time that has passed since you last saw your child face to face can be measured in years, that is not love. Love is not telling your child you hated every minute of being a parent. Love is not walking out on your responsibilities because you put your happiness ahead of all else. Leaving your child’s other parent, moving out, disrupting their lives as they know them, moving in with another person and their children and/or having another baby, all in the time span of a few months while your child’s head is still spinning is not love. Love is not disappearing and never being heard from again. You don’t get to put another person’s kids ahead of your own, do things with them and for them that you didn’t do for your own, and then get to claim you love your children. Love is not waiting for your children to call you or text you, to reach out to you.

It’s no wonder so many people end up in dysfunctional relationships. We are sold this idea that when people love you they treat you badly. They ignore you. They minimize your needs. They put everyone and everything else before you. Then when you get into a relationship and that person does those things you think, “Oh this feels familiar. It must be love.”

It is okay to have boundaries, even at a young age. It is okay for a child to say, “This is unacceptable behavior. I don’t want to be around this person.”  As the sane parent I think it’s inappropriate to try to convince them that those feelings are wrong, or should be stifled so as to not damage a potential relationship. When someone has done something wrong admit it! Stop trying to whitewash it and convince your child that it’s completely reasonable to do the unreasonable. 

It’s also perfectly fine to tell your child, if they ask, “I don’t know why your other parent does those things,” instead of rushing to assure them that the other parent loves them. As my own son says, “He loves me? Really? He’s got a funny way of showing it.”

Again, I’m not trying to encourage people to damage a healthy relationship between a parent and child. I’m not encouraging anyone to badmouth the other parent or to create chaos where there is none. But for the love of all that’s holy, please stop trying to convince your children that people who don’t behave as though they love them, who actually do things that are very hurtful to them, love them. Stop selling abuse and toxicity as love. Stop telling your kids that people who love them hurt them and that’s perfectly normal and acceptable. Give them a chance at a healthy relationship.

February 3

On this date back in 1997 I was in the hospital, miscarrying a much wanted baby. I had a D&C later that afternoon (evening?). That day sucked.

Ironically, on this date five years ago, in 2016, I was sitting in a courtroom. Jerry Lee declined to attend our scheduled show cause hearing so it was just me and the lawyers in the courtroom. Although he was ordered to pay me under a fine of $10,000 he still managed to get spousal support modified despite not attending the hearing. That day sucked, too.

February 3, 2021, on the other hand, has shaped up to be a very good day.

I’ve been saying for a while now that if my life is going to change I need to grab the bull by the horns and make those changes happen. Almost a month ago a friend of mine from the bank told me that there was an opening in her department. She had mentioned vacancies in her department back over the summer but by the time we had actually talked they had been filled. I told her then if there was an opening to let me know because I might be interested.

She told me on the 4th or 5th of January and I updated my resume and threw together a cover letter that morning. By the time I went to lunch I had put in my application.

Several weeks went by with no news, aside from the customary email letting me know my application had been received and would be reviewed.

Two weeks ago they finally began interviewing. I had my first interview on Friday. I sat at my laptop at lunch and talked to a circle on the computer because the person interviewing me had a computer that would crash every time she tried to use the camera. I had some problems getting into the meeting to begin with and then I spent the next 45 minutes or so talking to a voice on the other side of the computer screen. I asked what the next steps were and was told they were hoping to make a decision by the following Friday (January 29th). I thought it was strange that they weren’t planning on doing a second round of interviews because the person who interviewed me was not the manager of the department. Nonetheless, I figured, “OK, I’ll have an answer shortly.”

Monday I got another phone call from Human Resources. They wanted me to interview with the department manager. Did I have time available tomorrow?

I certainly did!

Thankfully her computer worked so I got to see the person I was talking to during the interview. I did manage to ask two questions of her at the end. 1. Are there advancement opportunities in this department? and 2. When are you hoping to make a decision? Again, I was told Friday.

Shortly after the interview I got another email from Human Resources. They needed five minutes of my time. They wanted to know if I had ever taken a caliper test.

No, I have not.

They were going to send me a link and I needed to take the test. She urged me to take it that night and let me know I needed to allow myself about 2 hours.

My friend said that was an excellent sign because the test was quite expensive and she wouldn’t have me take the test if she didn’t think I would be a good fit for the position.

I took the test that night. Hated it. For those of you who have never taken one it consists of about 60 sets of statements that you need to rate, along with approximately 5 sets of numbers where you need to predict the next number in the pattern, and then a number of actual shapes and/or patterns, only they do this, “This picture is to this picture, as that picture is to….” and you have to fill in the blank. After I finally finished that infernal hell I waited.

Friday came and went. The hiring manager did message me and ask if HR had set up my caliper test. Once she knew I had taken it she must have called them and then she let me know that the next steps would need to be taken the next week (this week). In the meantime, have a great weekend and stay warm.

To say I was on pins and needles all weekend was an understatement. Then came Monday. No word. Tuesday. No word. Wednesday. Another email.

This one was asking if I had discussed with my manager the fact that I was a finalist for the position. I quickly let her know that I had indeed had that conversation with my manager, and then I was sent yet another email regarding the hiring manager speaking to my manager and reviewing my last two performance reviews.

A couple hours later I get a message from the hiring manager. So…. have you checked your email?

i GOT THE JOB! I freaking got the job! There was a ton of interest and many candidates and out of everyone I got the job! I am going to be an analyst in this new department.

As you may recall, one of my co-workers took a job in a different department and ended up making $3 more per hour. I didn’t really know what this job paid. I just kept thinking, “I want to at least get three more dollars per hour.”  When I saw the offer I almost cried. I am going to be making almost double what I currently make now. It won’t completely cover what Jerry Lee owes me in spousal support, but it’s a hell of a lot closer. I am almost free of him. Oh, I’ll still be collecting on what he owes me, but now if he pulls his usual bullshit I’m not going to take the huge hit I take now. I have options now! I am not completely dependent on him. If I ever do decide to take the plunge and marry again I won’t end up homeless and destitute if he walks out on me or gets hit by a bus the day after our wedding. Hell, for that matter, I won’t be destitute if Jerry Lee gets hit by a bus before he’s done paying me what he owes me. I can’t even begin to describe how huge this is for me.

The position is salaried so no more punching a time clock. I’m also told that at our official location we each have our own office! How cool is that? I thought I had hit the big leagues when I had my own desk. Now I could be getting my own office.

This February 3rd has been much better than some previous February 3rds. I am so incredibly happy right now. I would like to think that my word of the year, attitude, had a little something to do with where I am now.

First, I had to get real with myself and take charge of making the changes I wanted. Then, I kept giving myself little pep talks along the way, telling myself to stop the defeatist self talk and to think about the possibilities. Every time I would get down on myself I would keep reminding myself, “Attitude, attitude, attitude.” Now here I am, getting ready to start an amazing new position in a department that I find fascinating, making more money than I ever dared to hope I would make. The best part is this is just the beginning!

Stop Blaming the Other Parent For Your Crappy Relationship With Your Kids

’Tis the season (’Twas the season?) for endless questions regarding the children, holidays, gifts from the ex and/or OW/OM (okay, mostly the OW), and having to hear about how nice or fun the OW/OM (okay, mostly the OW) is. Inevitably the question is always along the lines of: Is there anything I can do about this? Or, they’re just venting about what a shit sandwich it is to gulp down.

The next inevitable thing that happens? Someone comes along and tells them not to shame their children. You need to love your kids more than you hate your ex. Don’t put your kids in the middle. You have no right to take away whatever it is that the whore gave to your precious child. Dance prettier, bitch! Dance harder! Dance faster!

And then another someone comes along and doubles down on this idea. They are the person that insists that any small frown or raised eyebrow is proof of parental alienation. Saying no to a child is detrimental to their relationship with the other parent. Apparently if you are divorced or separated anyone can buy your child anything and they have free reign to bring it into your home. I’m not sure if you’re allowed to set parameters on the use of the item or not. Probably not, if I had to guess.

We, the parents left behind, are counseled to “learn how to grieve without PA abuse.” It’s all on us to avoid the so called pitfalls of parental alienation. The cheaters, of course, get a pass. They don’t need to worry about any of their behaviors. Abandoning your kids, ripping apart your family, putting a whore before your children… those are all cool. Nothing wrong with any of that.

But you! Chump! Yeah you! You need to understand that your “grieving” and your “boundaries” and your refusal to swallow down yet another dozen shit sandwiches in the name of “co-parenting” is all much scarier to your children than anything the lying, cheating, narcissistic asshole might be doing. Someone actually said that the cheated on parent can end up far more overtly scary, intimidating, abusive and/or destabilizing to their kids than the covertly abusive cheater because they are “so traumatized” that they become unstable. What utter bullshit!

People, get your heads out of your asses! 

I feel like I have to revisit this conversation every few months. Yes, parental alienation is real. It’s rare, but it’s real. I’ll go one step further and state I believe that most of the time the alienation attempts come from the parent who has already lied and cheated. It’s part and parcel of their plan to entirely decimate the discarded spouse.

I know I’m sensitive to all this bullshit because this is the exact story that Jerry Lee spins. “Oh Sam is a monster! She’s emotionally abusive and extremely manipulative. She’s poisoned my precious children against me. I am an alienated parent. I love my children to the moon and back; if not for that nasty she-beast I would have a wonderful relationship with my children because I am an amazing father who loves his kids with his heart and soul.”

Those are all lies. Oh, I believe he believes his own bullshit. But that’s exactly what it is- bullshit. He sent them both $100 and wished them a Merry Christmas through Venmo this year. Told them he loved them. He couldn’t even be bothered to call them and actually speak to them. As Picasso said, “He did his fatherly duty; he performed his obligation. Now he’s off the hook.”

In the almost five years since he walked out the door without telling his kids he was moving out- oh yeah, and leaving the fucking state!- he has made the drive to see one of his kids one time. That was Rock Star’s graduation. He texted her and offered her the opportunity to talk to him beforehand which she ignored; he never contacted his son. He spent maybe fifteen minutes, if that, with her on that day. He came out of the shadows crying his big crocodile tears because as always, it’s all about him. If you gave me a calendar I could tell you exactly how many round trips he managed to make in order to fuck his gold digging whore of a cousin. I can promise you this- it was more than one!

From what my kids tell me the rare times that he does actually text them it’s all about him, or trying to get them to feel sorry for him. He doesn’t text to check in with them or to see how their day is going. If he texts at all it’s to try to guilt them (or rather, Rock Star; I’m not sure he’s ever texted Picasso). Not once has he apologized for what he has done and the havoc he has wrecked.

He does not call. He does not send cards, especially now that both kids have Venmo. They don’t exist except for their birthday and Christmas, when he does his fatherly duty, as Picasso calls it, and takes 30 seconds out of his day to send them something via Venmo.

The day after Thanksgiving I was dealing with a major meltdown by my daughter who was upset because her dad did not even bother to text her and wish her a happy Thanksgiving, even after she reached out and wished him a happy Thanksgiving first. “He tells me he loves me and I try to give him a chance instead of hating him, and he doesn’t even bother to wish me a happy Thanksgiving.”

That is not my fault. I did not choose any of that; I did not force any of that. He is the one that walked away without ever looking back. He is the one that decided it was worth it to sacrifice his children for Harley. He chose her over them and I will not take the blame for that. That is all on him.

I have spent the last five plus years trying to keep my kids’ lives as normal as possible. I was willing to stay in a town where I knew very few people and had no family support so that my daughter could finish high school there. 

I have been the parent tasked with breaking all of the bad news to my children while Jerry Lee and Harley skipped happily off into the sunset with nary a worry.

Oh, you’re cheating on me and we’re getting a divorce? No worries; I’ll break the news to the kids.

Oh, you’ve moved out of the house? And you’ve left the state? Don’t worry. I’ll break it to the kids.

You lost your job and now we’re going to have to move again? Hey- no problem! I’ll break it to the kids. I’m getting good at this.

Our daughter isn’t going to get her license after all? Sure, I’ll be the one to deliver the news. And I’ll hold her while she cries from the disappointment.

Oh, you’ve stopped paying support again? Yeah, I’ll let our daughter know she might have to drop out of college.

Every single bit of shit news that was ever delivered I got the sucky job of delivering. I was the one that held my kids when they were upset or disappointed or sad. He was nowhere around, much too busy with the whore and the new family.

I was the one that got them settled into their new home with their Nana. I was the one registering them for school in a new district. I was the one who had to listen to my daughter say in a defeated voice, “I used to be someone. Now I’m nobody.”

I’m the one that scheduled therapy for them and got them on medication. I’m the one that Rock Star turns to when she’s falling apart because she’s stressed.

I am the one that has made countless sacrifices so that these kids could have a comfortable life. I am the one who has always been present, always been stable, could always be counted on. Me.

Maybe, instead of chiding the parent who is actually there and doing the hard work of raising the children left behind, they could be supportive of that parent. Just an idea.

Parental alienation is a hell of a lot more complicated than simply refusing to let the whore who fucked your husband give your child a gift. She’s not even a parent so how the hell is that parental alienation?

They remain a sensitive bunch. Everything is parental alienation. You won’t let your ex take his holiday AND your holiday? Parental alienation! You don’t want a creepy “family” picture of the OW, your ex, and your kids sitting around the Christmas tree sitting in your living room? Parental alienation! You dare to have boundaries? Parental alienation! You don’t want to be besties with the ex and the affair partner? Parental alienation!

In the beginning, when I was first discarded for the ‘ho, I was way too busy being the sane parent and trying to keep things as normal as possible for Rock Star and Picasso to be busy trying to alienate him. Considering we had less than a year between D-Day and moving day thanks to his firing I didn’t have a whole lot of time to work my evil magic. He left six months after his affair was discovered. Like, moved 300 miles away from his kids without saying a word, left. That was the first time I worried endlessly about what was going to happen to us because he was no longer directly depositing his money into the joint account.

Then I was really busy applying for welfare, enrolling my kids in school in a new school district, and applying for free lunches and text books because I had no job and was living off of savings. Didn’t have time to fuck with his parenting or lack thereof. 

Shortly after that I began working a job that required me to get up at 3:30 in the morning. That’s real fucking early. I don’t function that well that early in the morning. I do even worse when I have to get up at 1:30 in the morning so I can be there by 2. A month later I began working a second job. For a good 10 months or so I worked two jobs- lots of hours, not so much pay. And very little in the way of time off. Again, not really much time to play a quick round of parental alienation. Too busy working and trying to keep afloat. Especially considering he wasn’t contributing anything.

Last year I was kinda busy having a big ass needle stuck in my arm and then having my blood sucked out, the plasma separated from the red blood cells, and then the blood put back into my arm, and then turning around and doing it again later that week, twice a week, every week basically for four months.  All in order to make sure my kids got a decent Christmas because Jerry Lee couldn’t be counted on to pay his support on any kind of schedule. Didn’t have time to tell the kids how much their dad sucked. The plasma donation was pretty much a part-time job.

This year I spent a lot of time running. Changing my eating habits. Trying not to drink so much diet Coke. Jerry Lee and his pathetic attempts at parenting weren’t on my radar. My kids at the beginning of 2020 were 19 and 17. They’re now 20 and 18. I’m not necessary for any information exchanges. He is able to have a relationship with each one of them completely independent of me. I am not a cog in this wheel. If it’s not spinning that is not on me.

I’ve stayed out of their relationship. I’ve never been a factor the entire time. There are so many things I haven’t told them. I didn’t tell them because I knew all it would do is hurt them. Things like him buying a $300 dress for Harley’s daughter to go to a dance when he couldn’t send $80 my way to pay for his own daughter’s Homecoming dress. Or like how he was able to buy a $4000+ engagement ring for Harley that same month he couldn’t send money for Rock Star’s Homecoming dress. Or how he was able to celebrate Harley’s kids’ birthdays when he couldn’t do the same with his own kids. Or how he could never attend Rock Star’s gymnastics meets or cheer competitions but he could buy a fucking Cardinal t-shirt in support of the whore’s daughter and attend her cheer competitions. The iPhones he bought them. The puppies he bought them. Or how he’s so broke and has nothing in savings but can spend over $1800 on a vacation rental.

Harley is the dipshit that continues to post her drivel on social media where everyone can see it. My daughter isn’t stupid. She said recently she knows damn well he spent a hell of a lot more on “their” kids than he did on her and her brother. She knows he offered to buy Harley’s daughter a car. I don’t know how, but she knows. She knows all kinds of things that I had no idea about.

None of this is my doing. It’s all on him.

To these people who are champions of parental alienation everything falls under that category. Your ex planted listening devices in your home so you won’t accept gifts from him in your house any more? Parental alienation! Your ex and his ho have been known to make derisive comments about your child you have with your new partner, and even wish harm on this child, so you are not willing to graciously accept a gift for this child that is supposedly from your shared children? Parental alienation! Those kids are going to be devastated and don’t you know every time you let it be known that you disapprove of their other parent it says to them that you hate half of them? Again, what an utter crock of shit. 

I am a child of divorce. I knew from a very young age that my mother was not a fan of my father’s. For good reason, I might add. Never once did I say to myself, “Hmmmm… I’m half my mom and half my dad, so if my mom can’t stand my dad it therefore goes to reason that she cannot stand half of me.” Nope, not once did I think that way. That just seems weird to me. I am my own person. I am not one half my mother plus one half my father. I’m one entirely whole me.

I’ve also never looked at either of my kids and thought to myself, “Well, they are half Jerry Lee’s, so I guess I need to hate half of them.” Nope, not once. They are both unique individuals and while we both contributed our chromosomes they are not half me and half Jerry Lee. They are Picasso and Rock Star. Period.

Maybe we need to start by explaining to these children who think they are half of each parent that even though their parents each contribute chromosomes to their genetic makeup that doesn’t mean they are that parent, or even half of that parent.

If you don’t want to share holidays and special events with the ex you’re putting your kids in the middle and forcing them to choose. If you don’t want to hear about all the fun things the OW did with your kids you are putting your children in the middle and making things uncomfortable for them. If you’re not super excited about all the wonderful things your ex did for the kids, like taking them on fancy vacations and buying them expensive toys, clothes, and purses while at the same time not paying child support so you can buy them things like groceries and heat, you are not thinking about your children and letting your pettiness and bitterness rule your life. Apparently, once you become a parent, especially a divorced parent, you are no longer allowed to have boundaries or feelings, and if you do have feelings then they don’t matter.

Fuck that. If you’re the parent that stuck around and is doing the hard work then you get to have whatever feelings you want. You can draw whatever boundaries you’d like. You can create the rules that are comfortable for you.

I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a parent that was cheated on and left behind, put their kid in the middle. Do they vent away in a safe place sometimes? Absolutely. But I don’t recall a single time they’ve ever said they were going to do something that was clearly alienation. They regularly bend over backwards for these people and are often encouraged to keep doing so. Keep giving and giving without expecting anything in return. That’s what a good parent does.

Instead of telling the parent that has stuck around and is doing the hard work how much they suck and how they’re doing it all wrong, why not give them a little bit of praise and support? They didn’t choose a sidepiece over their kids; that was the other parent. Hey, maybe that’s why their relationship with their kid is so shitty. Maybe it has nothing to do with parental alienation at all and everything to do with the choices they’ve made.

Why Karen?

I keep seeing the Karen memes and tweets. Everywhere you turn it’s, “Way to go, Karen,” or “Do you want to talk to the manager, Karen?” Why Karen? What age demographic are people trying to hit with this insult? I always thought they were going for the 40 year olds, maybe early 50s. I’m 51 and I don’t know very many Karens. I can think of two off the top of my head. I had to check my Facebook friends list and it turns out I have three of them on my list, so bump that number up to five! I know a lot of Jennifers though. Also, a lot of Angies and Stacys. And quite a few Julies and/or Julias, now that I think about it. Amy is another popular one.

Rarely known fact: I was this close to being named Heather. It was between my actual name and Heather. My mom said at the last minute she decided she was going to go with Heather but then my dad showed up with a gift that read: To Baby Sam. So Sam it was. I was so damn close to having a normal name.

The meme makes me think they’re going a little younger than the 60s generation, and while it does have a point I think if you’re going to generalize an entire generation the smarter bet would have been on Jennifer. It was the top baby girl name from 1970-1984. Fourteen years, folks! So far no other name has matched the popularity or staying power of Jennifer. Like I asked in the beginning, how old is this Karen? 30s? 40s? 50s? If she’s anywhere from 36-50 she really should be called Jennifer. Maybe even Jen.

Perhaps they’re reaching even further back- 1969 and earlier. That may very well be, but the number one baby name in 1969 was Lisa. Followed by Michelle, Jennifer, Kimberly, and Melissa. Surprisingly Amy came in at #6. I thought it would be higher. Rounding out the top ten were Angela, Mary, Tammy, and Laura. To be fair Karen did come in at #13. 

After doing some research (aka Googling the top baby names for 1960-1969) it turns out the insult may have some teeth behind it, depending upon how old this Karen is. As it turns out Karen was actually a fairly popular name in the early part of the 60s. Early, being the operative word. It wasn’t Jennifer popular but it was the 4th most popular name of the 1960s.

It peaked at #3 in 1965 and held onto the #4 spot in 1960, ’62, ’63, and ’64. It was #5 in popularity in 1961 and 1966, and then slid to #6 in 1967 and down to #9 in 1968. As I said previously, it came in at #13 in 1969. Like I said, it was no Jennifer.

I’m back to asking: How old is Karen? if she was born in the 60s Lisa was the overall #1 girl name, followed by Mary and Susan. Wouldn’t it make more sense to use one of those names instead of the #4 name? Maybe Karen is always in such a pissy mood because her name came in at #4 instead of #1. But we don’t hear anything about bad attitudes from Kimberly, Patricia, Linda, Donna, Michelle, or Cynthia, do we? Those were #5-10 in case you were wondering.

And if she is younger, born sometime in the 1970s, you would be better off calling her Jennifer (of course!), Amy, Melissa, Michelle, or Kimberly. Lisa dropped to #6 in the 70s. Heather, btw, was #8.

I think Karen is more popular now than it was in its heyday beck in the 60s! Way to go, Karen.

A New Word of the Year- Attitude

I wasn’t going to do another word of the year. Last year was a disaster. Change. Look what happened!

I’m not going to say I’m a witch, but I kinda think I am. I once had a dream where I predicted who won the World Series. Another time I was wondering about a person and how they were doing. Next thing I know my mom says she saw this person’s obituary in the paper. I made some comment about dorms at our extension college in that same time period. Shortly thereafter there was an announcement that they were building dorms. That was the first time my mom accused me of being a witch. And then there was the time I used magic to stop a bird that was flying straight at my car. My daughter will testify on my behalf.

We were living in Virginia. We were on our way to her gym for practice and we both noticed this black bird, probably a crow, that appeared to be flying straight towards my driver side window. It was coming in fast, too. I remember taking my hand and making the “STOP” motion, you know, like you see in movies. The part right before the person finds out they have super powers. I kinda swirled my hand around and did the hard stop. And then the bird swerved. Rock Star looked at me and I looked at her and she said, “Did that just really happen?”

So there you have it. I am probably a witch. I’m not very good at it obviously. I have no control over my powers. Yet!

Anyway, I thought long and hard about doing another word. Change resulted in a worldwide pandemic. That was a little more change than I had anticipated.

I decided on attitude. I think I did change things up in my life last year. I lost weight. I began running. I’ve reframed things that have happened. Now it’s time to get a new attitude.

I’ve always thought I was basically a pretty happy person and that over the years Jerry Lee dragged me down and sucked the joy out of life. Over the last few years though I’ve noticed myself always looking at things negatively. Instead of cheering myself on and telling myself I can do this, I find myself saying I’ll never be good enough; those good things will never happen for me.

The part of my life that is the most disappointing has been the job prospects. I’ve always felt like there was no hope. Middle aged women with no work experience the last fifteen years don’t get great paying jobs. That’s been my attitude.

It’s been an attitude of defeat. I want to change that. I want to have a more optimistic attitude when it comes to the job prospects because honestly, that is about the only thing I would change about my life right now. I want to be financially independent. I realize that I’m going to have to take those reigns and make it happen, whether that’s going back to some type of schooling, or finding a different job within the bank, or outside of the bank. I’m hopeful that when our reviews come up that there will be more talk of becoming a project manager and that it will happen sooner rather than later. Regardless, it’s up to me; I can continue to complain about the job but that won’t change anything. I need action and I need a new attitude, one that tells me I can do anything. One that encourages me and says that I am a great employee and an incredible asset to anyone who hires me.

I want to focus on attitude because I think it’s so important. I remember that story of those shipwrecked with The Endurance and how a positive attitude resulted in all members of that party being rescued. 

I think about all of the graduating seniors in the Class of 2020, and probably 2021 as well, and how well so many of them coped with the unfairness of the situation. So many of those kids never got to play their sport their senior year. Three years they waited their turn to be the top dog and when their turn came it was cruelly taken away. Valedictorians that never got to give their speech, or gave it online where who knows how many people even heard it. Prom kings and queens that never were. Last rites of passage for seniors that never happened. No walks across the stage. Instead schools offered to put signs in the seniors’ yards, or parents would hang their senior’s robe between the glass storm door and the front door so everyone could see they had a graduating senior. 

I know my attitude was pretty much, “You can take your yard sign and stick it up your ass. I want to walk across the fucking stage and get my diploma. Screw this bullshit!”

But so many of these kids handled it all so well. In some instances there were some very sweet tradeoffs.

The kids back in Utah who were in my kids’ old school district were all adopted by former teachers. I don’t know exactly how this worked because I know the school my daughter would have attended easily had a graduating class of more than 800. It is a huge school district and they keep building high schools. There must be at least 6 of them now. Not all have 800+ seniors but that’s still a lot of kids. Anyway, each student was adopted by one of their former teachers who dropped off a basket or bucket of goodies to the student.

I thought that was very sweet. It would be lovely if they could continue to do this even during times of no Covid-19, but I understand that it would undoubtedly get expensive for these teachers. And what do you do with the kids who haven’t gone to school in this district very long? I look at my own daughter who switched schools her junior year. Who would have adopted her?

The old me would have applauded these new traditions and thought they were they nice additions while simultaneously wondering what was going to happen to the real rites of passage for your senior year. This new me is trying to change my attitude and be okay with only the new stuff.

So I’m trying to embrace the Halloween candy slides that people built, and the parade of cars that would honk as they drove by the birthday boy or girl. I’m trying to appreciate the smaller, more intimate weddings that so many were forced to have if they wanted to marry in 2020. Realistically speaking if a couple was able to roll with the punches and was more focused on the actual marriage instead of the huge wedding and reception that’s a good thing. Maybe there will be fewer divorces with this round of weddings in 2020.

It’s very easy to have a bad attitude. I think it builds upon itself. It’s much more difficult to have a positive attitude.

I think back to being moved downtown. The supervisor who was moved with us tried to life our spirits and encourage us by telling us to think of it as an adventure. Looking back on it now it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was. The equipment was actually better. There was a place to eat lunch that wasn’t my car or my desk. Yes, walking those few blocks through bad weather sucked. Dealing with crazy homeless people wasn’t fun. Plus, we were separated from everyone else. Truth of the matter is we’re still separated even though I’m back at the Ops Center. We still have people out and working from home. And it wasn’t like we were stuck in a dungeon.

Being split up in our department is still rough. I feel like pretty much my entire time in Overdraft has been spent flying by the seat of my pants. My partner works from home so any time I have a question I either need to call her, message her through Teams, or send an email. It’s not the simple, easy, leaning over your cubicle and asking a question. There is no having her watch over my shoulder as she teaches me something new. I can choose to look at this as a horrible, dreadful inconvenient thing (which it is), or I can choose to look at it as an opportunity to solve problems in a different way and a chance to spread my wings. It’s very easy to choose the first one and concentrate on the negatives but my desire is to change my attitude and focus on the latter. I am being given an excellent opportunity to show my bosses that I can be counted on and that when put in a sink or swim situation I am able to swim.

We don’t have a lot of perks in our department but what we do have is a huge Ops Center Christmas potluck each year. I was fortunate to be able to attend my first year. Last year I missed due to a family funeral. This year it was canceled due to Covid-19.

Normally our department has a white elephant gift exchange. This year, with the social distancing measures in place, we had a virtual Christmas party instead.

They brought in boxed lunches from Jimmy Johns and those of us who wished to participate drew names for a Secret Santa.

We all logged on to our computers at noon and spent the next two hours online, eating our lunches, sharing traditions, and talking about Christmas related things.

We also had a cubicle decorating contest, an ugly Christmas sweater contest, and daily holiday trivia. We collected donations for the local women’s shelter and received tickets for any donations we made, plus any correct answers to the holiday trivia and on the day of the party one of the supervisors drew names for various prizes.

It was not the Christmas we were used to but it was an effort to celebrate the season and to recognize all of us.

I frequently joke about the fact that I will get over whatever it is that is bugging me; I just need to be dramatic first. It’s so true; however, this year I’m going to try to work on my attitude and take the less dramatic path. I’m not saying I will be perfect each and every time, but I often hear things about how you can choose your attitude and which would you prefer: Being happy or being upset? I want to choose to see my blessings instead of focusing on what I don’t have. What is that they say? Comparison is the thief of joy? So true.

Let’s put these witch powers to work and conjure up a brand new, hopeful, optimistic attitude for 2021.

Reframing Things

Final post for 2020. 

Earlier this year, one day in the summer, I made some comment about Jerry Lee bulldozing my life. My mom replied along the lines of, “Why not look at it as a chance to redo your life?”

I had actually already been thinking along those lines so I didn’t take offense at the suggestion.

I suppose that’s the biggest change for me during 2020. I’m finally reframing what happened to me. I’m not always successful. It’s best if I don’t dwell on it too much, but for small moments I am able to reframe the betrayal and discard, along with the absolute destruction of everything I thought my life was.

When I do this I’m able to tell myself he didn’t blow up my life; no, I got a second chance at a much better life. Sure, there have been speed bumps- financial issues continue to stress me. My kids are in therapy. I’m working a job that isn’t all that personally fulfilling and I feel like I never have enough “me” time, or time to devote to my kids. But it’s not all bad.

I’m back in my hometown. I’m reconnecting with old friends. It’s familiar. I didn’t have to start completely over and figure out how to get around the town.

Living with my mom isn’t a death sentence. She hates it when I say, “I had to move back in with my mom!” or “I don’t have a home of my own.” The reality is she does my laundry which is great because I don’t particularly care for doing laundry. She also has dinner cooked most nights when I come home. I joke with her that it’s nice to have a wife. I realize why so many cheaters don’t leave one until they have another one! I am fortunate enough to be able to spend huge amounts of time with my mom. I get to shop with her, go out to dinner with her, vent to her, and laugh with her. I have too many friends that no longer get to enjoy that with their moms.

Ever since moving back here in 2016 I have seen it as a source of shame- I was too fucking pathetic to be able to stand on my own two feet. I had to move back in with my mommy. I couldn’t take care of myself or my two children. I needed help. It’s very humbling, especially when you’ve lived in your own home for 20+ years. You go from living in a huge home to not even having your own bedroom; I slept on the couch for two years. Perhaps it’s simply the passing of time, but I no longer care. It is what it is. Living at home with her allows her to spend much more time with her grandchildren, allows me to see her all the time, and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than a mortgage payment or rent somewhere. It allows me to be able to do more because my money isn’t wrapped up in housing. I’m finally accepting that this arrangement works for me.

When he left finding a new relationship was the last thing on my mind. I was in survival mode and honestly, I had spent so much time alone even while being married that I had no desire to ever pair up again. I was perfectly content to be alone for the rest of my life; I was good at it. Yet, him walking out the door finally allowed me the chance to experience a real relationship, one where I’m valued and loved.

The mobster and I have an amazing time whenever we are lucky enough to get together. He is the best and I would have never met him if Jerry Lee didn’t go off and fuck his cousin.

As for finances, well, I recognize that I don’t need as much as I used to have. I don’t need a huge house. I don’t need endless baubles. I do like shopping for clothes and my closet is exploding right now but I’ve always been a sale shopper. As long as I have enough to pay my bills, take care of my kids and spoil them some, and be able to have some fun with my friends, family,  and the mobster I’m good. I’d like to be able to take a vacation here and there as well, but it doesn’t have to be an elaborate vacation.

I also realize it’s up to me to make that change as far as finding a better paying job. Writing about how awful it pays and complaining does nothing. I intend to change that this coming year.

Of course, my children and their well-being always weighs heavily on my mind. Fortunately, I am finally letting go of that as well. Not as in an, “I don’t care” way, but more in an, “I can’t change the past,” way. It still tugs on my heartstrings when I hear “Best Day Of My Life” or any of the songs I associate with Harrisonburg. The overwhelming desire to scream, “Why?” is always there, but that scream is slowly fading away. I do my best to reframe it as a wonderful moment in Rock Star’s life, one that wasn’t meant to last. Maybe the lesson to be learned was that her dad is an entitled jackass. I don’t know. Maybe it was to show her she was stronger than she knew.

My son seems happy and content. The medication has helped immensely. He has friends here. He likes his job. He likes living here. Hopefully therapy will soon be a thing of the past for him, but as long as he continues to get something out of it I will pay for it. He graduates this year and no one will be happier about that than me! He’s been complaining about school since second grade. I’m tired of fighting him.

My daughter has apparently resolved all of her issues surrounding her father and his abandonment in approximately three therapy sessions. She works fast, I guess. She has decided she is done with him and she’s no longer expending the effort to have a relationship with him. As she put it, “Why am I putting in all this effort when he’s the one that left?”

Despite Covid-19 wrecking havoc with her college life she is happy. She has a solid set of friends down at college. She loves her sorority and her sisters. She has a great boyfriend who treats her like she deserves to be treated. She is kicking ass in nursing school and will be a wonderful nurse in a few years.

She has said herself that everything she went through led her to where she is. If we were still married and in Virginia, yes, I would probably see her more and she would be happily reconnecting with high school friends over break, but she wouldn’t have this life she loves.

Despite the hurdles and all the worries these last few years my kids are okay. They’re not living the life I had hoped to have given them, but they are good. As my mom always says, “You guys had a helluva a run.” Yes, my kids had an awesome childhood and they got to experience a lot of wonderful things. And then they experienced some really shitty things and a lot of loss. They lost their friends twice, and lost their mother in many ways. i wasn’t there the way that I wanted to be; I did the best I could with what I had and I hope in the end that proves to be enough. But ultimately they prevailed and they are both good and happy now. I have a great relationship with both of them, and that’s what counts.

I will never say that Jerry Lee cheating on me and destroying my old life was a blessing, or the best thing to ever happen to me. What I will say now though is he ended up giving me a second chance. He gave me the opportunity to live a much better life than the one I could have ever hoped to have lived with him. I get to frame this one. I get to choose. I can make this new life into whatever I want.

How’s that for change, 2020?

Change- The Year in Review

My word for this year was change. Boy, did I ever pick a doozy. I’m not saying my word caused the pandemic, but I’ve never actually picked a word of the year before. This was my first time and look what happened. Safe to say I don’t think I’ll be picking another word of the year again. I’ll go back to resolving to moisturize more. Floss regularly. Safe stuff.

I did choose the word “change” however so it’s only fair that I look back and see what, if any, change was made in my life. You know, aside from the whole world going to shit and being under lockdown and mask mandates.

When I picked the word I was really hoping that most of the change would happen in regards to my financial situation. As in, I hoped to either get promoted or get another job elsewhere. 

Technically, there were all kinds of changes in regards to my job. I got sent downtown to work for five and a half months. We’ve had to learn to do our jobs in a very different way because we’re not all together. I will probably never see my co-worker/partner again because she is working from home and is retiring no later than June 30th of 2021. We don’t have a lot of hope that everyone will be brought back by that point.

I did put myself out there and applied for the supervisor position. I didn’t get it but I did get exposure and I was told I’m a hidden gem. This little hidden gem had better get a new job title and a lot more money or I’m relocating to a newer mine.

I have been perusing online job postings but I haven’t seen much that excites me. I also checked out grad school but I think that is way beyond anything I can do. For starters, the deadline for one of the programs I was interested in had already passed and I would be looking at yet another year before I could start. Then there is the issue of getting transcripts, and taking entrance exams and getting referrals. Who the hell is going to write a recommendation for me? I’m not in college anymore. Do I ask friends who have jobs to write a recommendation for me? Based upon what? 

Another program would require me to do a bunch of prerequisites before I could start which would mean my two year program would probably take three or four years. Sure- I’d love to get a Masters degree at age 55 and then work for 10-12 years. I’m sure the employers would be falling all over themselves to hire me, a candidate that does not have much of a shelf life left. And no experience to boot.

I see people with no education beyond a high school diploma fall into these amazing jobs that pay well and offer great benefits. Why on earth can I not fall into one of those jobs? Why am I doomed to work a low paying job with crappy benefits?

Way back at the beginning of the year, before Covid-19 changed everything, the mobster and I made a lifestyle change. We began the Couch To 5K program. I am still running, although with the days becoming darker earlier I am not as consistent as I would like to be.

In March I began eating low carb. I say this as I’m coming off of a 5 day holiday from low carb eating. Nonetheless, at this point in the year I am somewhere between 40 and 50 pounds lighter. I say somewhere because I haven’t stepped on the scales in 2 or 3 weeks and I have no intentions of stepping on them for another 2 or 3 weeks. But, at my lowest weight so far I had lost just over 50 pounds. I believe it was 50.6 pounds. I’m wearing clothes I haven’t worn in 2 or 3 years, and in the case of my jeans, they’re all too big now.

I’ve greatly reduced the amount of diet Coke that I drink. That’s a huge change for me. I started that one in May. I have my moments where I go back to it, but I’m pretty good. I certainly drink a lot less than I ever did before.

The mobster has put his route up for sale so now we’re just waiting for someone to sign the papers. After that he’ll make his way up here and we’ll finally be living in the same state! Same town even. That’s a huge change.

I made the transition to being a parent of adult children. Neither of my kids is a minor anymore. After June of 2021 I will no longer have any kids in the local school system. Picasso, God willing and fingers crossed, will graduate this June.

My mom’s dog died earlier this month. He was 15 1/2 years old. He’d been losing a lot of weight recently. My mom took him in and unfortunately he never came back home. I miss that little booger with his big underbite. She swears there will be no more dogs but we’ll see. She said that before she got him, too.

I finally got Jerry Lee garnished. Basically. It’s not through the state but he did sign an agreement which was turned into a court order whereby he directly deposits his payments into my account twice a month. He also knows that if he tries to stop it or attempts to fuck with me I’ll take his ass back to court and from there he’ll find his ass in jail. For the first time since he took off to be with his cousin back in February of 2016 I know exactly when to expect that money. It is a wonderful feeling.

Plus, my saga with Mississippi is finally over! Everything is done. It took forever- it took them more than 3 months for them to return my money- but it’s done.

Bonus- once I got my money from Mississippi I paid off my car so there’s another change for the year. No more car payment.

I got my car in September of 2014, taking out the longest loan for the smallest payment with the intention of paying it off in larger chunks with Jerry Lee’s bonus check. As you all know that didn’t work out as I had planned. I ended up with a large car payment with no job, and then a large car payment with a low paying job. But I had so many miles on it that I didn’t think I could trade it in and by the time I realized it really would be prudent to do so my credit was in the toilet, thanks to Jerry Lee and his machinations. Honestly, it was the last thing left from my old life. I wanted desperately to hold onto it. I had already lost so much- my house, my furniture, probably 95% or more of everything I’d ever owned. I was determined to keep that goddamn car. I worked my ass off to do so. Now it’s paid off. A change in circumstances, and more change in my pocket. Not really. All my additional money is going into my HSA account so I can pay for my kids’ therapy bills.

My son got a job, so both of my kids work now.

And both of my kids are being medicated for depression and anxiety. In Picasso’s case it’s a blessing because he so desperately needed it. After almost a year of counseling which didn’t help the way it needed to he’s finally on medication and it’s working very well. He’s doing things he could not have done before. So that’s a great change. Rock Star, on the other hand, is getting worse and worse, especially now that she’s on nothing while she waits to see our nurse practitioner. As you might recall the medication she was taking caused her to be extremely nauseous so she was switched over to Prozac. That caused suicidal ideations so it had to be stopped. I don’t know why on earth she didn’t prescribe her something in the meantime, knowing she has an in-person appointment in December, but she didn’t so my poor baby has been suffering through it on her own for a few weeks now.

Everything seems to stress her out. She’s this interesting dichotomy where she can be so self-assured and opinionated at one moment and then turn around and be a blubbering mess another moment. She’s back in therapy and she seems to like it, but it’s not doing enough right now and she needs to be properly medicated. She is going to call this week and see about getting some new medication.

Here’s another big change, one I’m not really ready for, but it’s happened. My daughter won’t be returning home. She plans to stay down in Muncie over the summer and work, and then when the lease is up on her house that she is renting this year, she is planning on moving in with her boyfriend. My daughter no longer lives with me. I had no idea until this Thanksgiving break.

On one hand I understand. When I came home for the summer I looked forward to seeing my friends. We went to different schools so we only saw each other on breaks and over the summer. We got to hang out, go to the beach, hit the bars, see a movie. I don’t recall what all we did. I just know it was great being home and being able to hang out with them when I didn’t see them most of the year. Rock Star doesn’t have that. She didn’t make any close friends when she lived up here. Her life is all down at school.

I also didn’t have a serious boyfriend throughout most of college. I broke up with my high school boyfriend right before coming home for the summer freshman year. I broke up with the guy I was dating my sophomore year shortly after coming home for the summer. Hmmm… doesn’t seem to be a good time of the year for me. I just saw that pattern. I didn’t have a boyfriend the rest of college. She does.

So, like I said, on the one hand I understand. I really do. But on the other hand, I am so sick of being blindsided with the last time and never knowing it’s the last time.

I didn’t know that Thanksgiving 2014 was the last truly normal holiday we would have as a family. I had no idea that Christmas 2014 was the last one we would spend together as a family of four. I didn’t realize how much my life was going to change as we left to spend 3 weeks in Indiana and Utah that first summer after we moved. I had no idea what was in store for all of us while we were having fun and spending time with family down in Florida. I sure as hell didn’t realize that August 9th, 2015 would be the last semi-normal day in my old life. I suppose those are all things you never get forewarning on.  “Hey, honey, I’m planning on cheating on you with my gold digging cousin. Enjoy your turkey!” That just doesn’t happen. But other things you sort of do think you get a heads up on.

I watched those proud parents escort their daughters on Senior Night and envisioned myself doing the same. I didn’t know as I watched my daughter at States that February day in 2016 that it was going to be the last time I would ever see her compete in gymnastics. That was it. The end. No more. No warning. No fan fare. No flowers. No big announcement. It was simply the end.

I watched as the conductor would invite all the seniors to stand at their last concert and looked forward to the day my own senior would rise and I would clap and cheer. I didn’t realize that last year’s Christmas concert was the last one I would ever watch Picasso play the cello. He abruptly quit- at the beginning of the year. Look! More change!

And I sure as hell didn’t even consider that last summer was the last summer my daughter would live with me. I thought I had 2 more summers with her. I don’t. Last summer was the last time she was going to live under my roof. 

I wonder sometimes if it’s because I don’t have a home of my own. Maybe if I had been able to buy a house she would have felt like it was her home. Then again, nothing I did or didn’t do was going to change the fact we had to move midway through high school and she had no friends here. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because she feels like I’ve replaced her and am living a new life with the mobster, a life where she’s no longer important and doesn’t really have a place.

I really enjoyed having her home over the summer after her freshman year. I loved hearing her stories and spending time with her. In some ways it was more difficult saying goodbye that second year than it was the first year. Maybe because I knew how lonely it could be with her gone.

Last summer sucked. She worked during the week and was either gone or holed up in her room with her boyfriend every weekend. I’m not available during the week because I’m working. When she worked she worked 12 hour shifts and was usually exhausted when she came home.

I guess I was hoping this summer would be better. Turns out there is no next time.

I understand this is the natural progression of things. Honestly, I do. I wasn’t prepared for it at this point, though. I thought I had more time with her. I was prepared for her to move out in December of 2022, after she graduated. I was not prepared for this.

2020 has brought with it a lot of changes. Some good; most bad. I’ll roll with it as I always do. I would pick a word like “prosperity” but it would probably turn into one of those “The Monkey Paw” things where horrible shit would happen instead of it resulting in money in my pocket. So yeah, I think I’m going to be content with trying to moisturize more and floss regularly. My dentist will be happy.

The Warm, Soft Glow of Christmas Lights

One of my favorite things to do during Christmas is to sit in the still darkness while the Christmas lights softly glow around me. There is something so peaceful about this. I think the best time to do this is in the early morning when everyone is sleeping and all you can hear are the quiet sounds of the household. I sit there quietly, sometimes reading on my phone, sometimes doing nothing, and let the feeling of Christmas wash over me.

It seems like every time I’m with the mobster we are going, going, going! We go a hundred miles an hour, trying to wring every last second out of our time together. It’s usually on that very last day or evening that we finally sit and simply take it all in. It’s kind of like those moments in the dark in front of the Christmas tree.

This year when I went down to visit him for our Christmas together we made it a point to sit on his screened in porch in front of one of his two Christmas trees and just be. We had a cup of coffee and there may have been food. I don’t remember. We looked at the lights and simply enjoyed our quiet time together. In fact, that’s where we ended up opening our gifts to one another as well.

I think that maybe what I’ve been searching for these last few years is the feeling of Christmas. The Hallmark movies I enjoy the most are the ones that show the town coming together and people enjoying traditions and time spent with loved ones. It’s the spirit of Christmas and how they show that. I don’t care about the love story. They could have an entire movie about the town’s Christmas festival and if they didn’t showcase a single romance I would not be sad at all. Sitting quietly while I watch the lights brings that feeling back to me, if only for a few minutes.

Now, in our household, all things Christmas are done. The decorations are put away. The lights will wait until next year to make another appearance. My daughter is already headed back to school. Thankfully I have the mobster’s visit on New Year’s Eve to keep the holiday blues at bay.

Now it’s on to holiday leftovers. Get ready for the New Year, everyone. 

Christmas 2020

For being in the middle of a pandemic it wasn’t a bad Christmas. You don’t always know how the holidays are going to turn out. I think Christmas brings with it a lot of pressure.

Think about it. The stores start putting out Christmas decorations in September. I’ve actually seen Christmas displays in Hobby Lobby in July. Not large displays, mind you, but they definitely have stuff out. Then you have the Christmas ads that begin to run in September. Sometimes that’s just so they can say they’ve had the first Christmas ad of the season but they are definitely appearing by early November, if not in October. You’ve got radio stations that begin playing Christmas music on November 1st. Thanksgiving is treated like a precursor to Christmas a lot of times. There’s Black Friday for in person shopping and Black Monday for online shopping.

Speaking of which, did everyone prefer the way the retailers went about it this year? I was so glad not to be overwhelmed with deals and sales that one day on Thanksgiving this year. I liked how almost all of the stores were closed for all of Thanksgiving. I was never one of those who was planning on boycotting any store that was open on Thanksgiving (I’m also not a fan of Black Friday shopping and do most of mine online) but I thought it was a lovely return to times in the past where holidays were actually spent with family instead of rushing out to begin buying for Christmas.

Anyway, there is tons of stress surrounding the holidays and trying to make everything perfect. And with this year being a year of social distancing and sickness no one was really sure how this was going to play out.

My only disappointment this year was not being able to do the cookie exchange/white elephant gift with my friends. Covid hit a little too close to home right before the holidays so that was scrapped.

I did my Christmas baking and I think I made almost a perfect amount of food. There was probably a little too much and I have definitely been eating way too much. They call it Christmas crack for a reason.

I had a lovely time in Virginia with the amazing mobster earlier in the month. We played some Pokemon Go, did some Christmas baking, opened our gifts to one another, ate some great food, and just enjoyed each other’s company for a longish weekend.

I was a little bit upset about the short amount of time my daughter was spending at home this year. She didn’t come up until the 23rd. I thought she was staying until Tuesday or Wednesday, but it turned out she was scheduled to work so she left on Sunday the 27th. It all turned out okay though. It was good having her home and we have made plans for me to go down there to see her in January.

We weren’t sure how Christmas Eve was going to play out. Our Christmas Eve gatherings used to be so large that we would have appetizers for dinner because people came and went. Many years my mom and stepfather would invite friends over on Christmas Eve. Both of my brothers and their families were present. My stepsister and her kids started coming over. It was a big cheerful bunch. 

Over the years that has changed. The friends of my mom and stepdad have passed. My stepdad passed. My one brother has not been up for Christmas in close to ten years. My niece, Florence Nightengale, hasn’t been up for Christmas since she got married last September and when she doesn’t come up, her brother doesn’t come up either. My stepsister had to work both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Her daughter who is in grad school in Chicago opted not to come over because of Chicago’s Covid-19 restrictions. Her son and his wife had texted earlier in the week to say that they would be coming over but probably wouldn’t be staying long. My sister-in-law also worked on Christmas Eve.

It turned out to be a really good Christmas Eve though. My nephew and his wife ended up staying for several hours, and they were more talkative than they’ve been in years. Probably because they usually stick together in one little pod of four when they come together. This year they had no choice but to talk to the others.

My friend Sweet J is dealing with her crazy family so she opted to come over for Christmas Eve instead of dealing with them.

My son’s friend came by to drop off a gift for him. I asked him if he would like a plate of cookies to take home with him. He was hesitant to take it because he was dropping off gifts. I’m not sure if he thought he could only have them if he stayed and ate, but I told him I would be more than happy to fix a plate and he could take them with him. He is also friends with my nephew and said his was the last gift he had to drop off. I jokingly said, “If you’d waited until 5 he would have been over here and you could have killed two birds with one stone.” Well, that started off a chain of events that led to him being over at our house until 10:30 or 11:00 that night. He ended up staying for dinner and trying green bean casserole for the first time in his life. He sat with us while we opened gifts. I felt bad because there was nothing for him except for what my nephew had gifted him but it was pretty obvious his mom was not picking him up any time soon and we had a houseful of people waiting to open gifts.

Picasso and I pooled our money together and bought my brother a knighthood from
Sealander.  Picasso asked him, “How does it feel Sir Uncle C?”

We had a feast of seven layer salad, deviled eggs, ham, Swedish meatballs, scalloped potatoes, corn casserole, broccoli, cheese and rice casserole, green bean casserole, and Texas Roadhouse rolls (yes, you can buy those suckers frozen and take them home!). There was pie but I don’t think we ever got around to eating it. We also had cheese and summer sausage and shrimp cocktail before dinner.

I got some amazing gifts, including a beautiful Mom necklace from my daughter, 2 bottles of my favorite wine from a local winery, and a giant stuffed Eevee from my son.

Christmas Day I had a full stocking. I had to have a little conversation with my kids about that because last year I was the only one without a stocking. I fill theirs and my mom’s and I had nada. But they made up for it this year. I got a huge coffee mug, another polar bear ornament (in addition to the two my mom gifted me), a wine journal, sugar free chocolate, and some gift cards.

Both of my kids loved their gifts. All of them. The gifts they opened on Christmas Eve and the ones they found on the mantle and in their stockings on Christmas morning. Picasso loved his record player and the vinyl albums he got and Rock Star loved all of the clothes, shoes, and jewelry.

I made a breakfast casserole and cinnamon rolls in the morning. Queen B and my nephew (I need to give him a name- I think I’ll call him C2) came over a little later in the day to play Phase 10. My brother showed up as well.

You’ve never played Phase 10 until you’ve played it with him. He always wants to know who’s in the lead and how many points. Then he’s always sure to tell you who you should be skipping. This year he began the tradition of the Skip Box because people would forget they were skipped. Or rather, they would attempt to play when they were skipped and insist they had already served their skip. So he handed out the Skip Box. You can give it back once you’ve been skipped.

Picasso’s friend came over again because he was interested in playing Phase 10. He took my brother’s spot because he had to go back home. He and my sister-in-law were going over to the neighbor’s house for Christmas dinner.

Queen B left to go meet up with one of her friends and we ordered Chinese food for those of us remaining.

I sent Merry Christmas messages to my friends both near and far and got many back in return. Plus, I had a few video chats with the mobster and his Christmas guests.

It was a wonderful Christmas. I’m hoping next year will be equally wonderful. Maybe a little less food because we have so much left over. My mom and I both have said we are not cooking for several days.

Christmas 2020 is in the books. Time to start planning Christmas 2021