Giving Thanks

Those of you who have been reading for a while know that my journey has been filled with a lot of bumps and potholes. It was not easy. My mom has always said he couldn’t have left us in a worse position if he had tried; she absolutely thinks he did it deliberately. He let me install a $57,000 pool in our backyard, using up most of his available stock options. I couldn’t pay the pool off because I needed the money to live on so we never had it closed properly. That in turn meant I had to replace pipes in the spring and we never were able to use the pool again because I couldn’t get it clean from all the leaves and other debris that had fallen into it. He let the house go into foreclosure and of course, we ended up losing the house. After spending months lovingly decorating our new home and filling it with new furniture I had to turn around and sell off as much as I could and leave behind almost everything else because I had no way to pay for storage and didn’t know how long it would remain in storage (going on six years now, btw). He walked out the door without saying a word to his kids. Didn’t bother to tell us he was moving or that he had quit his job and taken another one in a different state. He didn’t pay support at all for 10 months; he paid it sporadically for another 10 months, all while I worked two jobs and was the only parent our kids had anymore. I spent $35k on my divorce and then another $5-$10k getting support modified. He paid what he was supposed to pay for about 6 months and then unilaterally modified child support. Refused to go through legal channels. Refused to pay the legal bills when I tried to. Lost another job. Modified spousal support for almost a year. But you know that old adage: No matter how bad you have it someone always has it worse. 

I thought I’d take a minute to say what I was grateful for in terms of my own betrayal story and divorce.

1. I’m thankful I didn’t have young kids when I divorced. I see these stories of parents whose hearts are being ripped out of their chests because their children are off with the other parent, sometimes in a 50/50 custody situation. I got to spend the majority of their years with them, being a very involved stay-at-home mom. I didn’t have to split holidays or summers. I didn’t have to deal with them thinking Harley was awesome. I cannot imagine a bigger shit sandwich than knowing the OW/OM is playing happy family with your young child/ren and they are too young to understand who this person is. As many people have said, “You can take my spouse but keep your fucking whore hands off my kids.” 

2. Sort of the same thing but not completely I am infinitely grateful that neither Rock Star nor Picasso has any kind of a relationship with Harley. I’m sure to many people that’s an awful thing to admit because we’re supposed to “think of the children” and “love our children more than we hate the other parent.” I know it would probably be better for both of my kids if their dad gave a damn and was a part of their life. But he doesn’t and he’s not and that’s not something I’m responsible for so I’ll take my wins when I can. I’m sure it’s horrible when you’ve been cheated on and you know your cheating spouse and the AP are playing happy family with your baby. I’m sure it’s horrible to have to listen to your young child talk about how much fun this new person is, or how nice they are. But it’s also horrible, I’m sure, having to share older children. I’ve heard many stories of the morally challenged new partner showing up at the kid’s games, recitals, assemblies, graduations, birthdays. I hear about kids that choose to live with the cheating parent or the older child is receiving expensive gifts from the side piece. There are weddings and the births of grandchildren, not to mention birthday parties for those future grandchildren. Having to share those milestones with someone who played a part in blowing up your life would be difficult. I keep trying to steel myself for the day that either one of my kids decides that putting up with Harley is worth it in order to have a relationship with their dad. It’s not what they want right now, but they are still young and there are still years left. For right now though I’m glad I don’t have to slap on a fake smile or remember to use, “Cool. Bummer. Wow,” as my only responses when they’re telling me about their adventures with the two of them.

3. I didn’t have to worry about 50/50 custody. Jerry Lee had already moved by the time our divorce trial rolled around. He moved out six months after his affair was discovered. I feel for those who have to miss out on so much of their children’s lives because of the actions of an unfaithful spouse. I have had every holiday, every birthday, every major event because he walked away. Thankfully they were both old enough to have a say in where they wanted to live even if Jerry Lee had not moved (not that Jerry Lee fought for them). And because of their age and the fact that Jerry Lee moved hundreds of miles away from them they were able to have visitation at their discretion, instead of being ordered by a court.

4. In a similar vein I never had to worry about him trying to alienate my kids against me. God, that has to be the worst betrayal of all. This person cheats on you, leaves you, leaves you destitute and then turns around and turns your kids against you. I cannot even begin to imagine.

5. I don’t have to co-parent. I’m a big fan of parallel parenting anyway, but there are so many people out there who have to try to co-parent with the ex. The horror stories I hear make me so grateful I don’t have to deal with Jerry Lee. He is not a part of the equation at all. I’m sure having full legal custody also helped with that but I didn’t have to consult with him on anything. Kids needed therapy? I got them therapy. Kids wanted to participate in a sport? I signed them up. I didn’t have to ask his permission. I didn’t ask for his help. I took care of it.

6. He didn’t fight me moving. He didn’t have a leg to stand on but I’m still thankful I didn’t have to go through that. I see stories all the time about people moving for their spouse who then cheats on them and now they’re stuck in this place where they have no support.

7. I did not have to deal with him having another child with Harley. I think an affair baby would be the worst but even knowing that my kids had another sibling that I knew nothing about is something I wouldn’t like. I would have loved to have had more children but alas I did not get my wish. Had he gone on to have more children with her I would have been pissed, even though it was completely out of my control.

8. I have always said I saw the writing on the wall. I knew that there would be no reconciliation even if I had been willing. Nonetheless I put on my big girl panties, called the lawyers, made the appointments, and got myself armed with information. I didn’t let on until I was ready to file. And once he knew I knew I gray rocked the shit out of him. It would probably be more accurate to say I went no contact- even while living with him. I’m thankful I didn’t chase after him. I’m thankful I didn’t beg and plead. I gray rocked his ass and pretended he didn’t exist.

9. I had a soft space to land. I absolutely realize there are people out going through the same thing who have no one to rely on. I was fortunate that my mom was willing to take us all in. She was also an incredible help when I was working two jobs and could barely keep my eyes open when I was home. I have a friend who was living in a garage and was damn grateful to be doing that because of the antics her ex pulled. I hear horrible stories all the time, reading Chump Lady and the Chump Nation FB page. People out there wondering how they’re going to support their kids when they haven’t worked in years. People who have no one who can help them out- emotionally or financially. People who have lost their parents and all their family. Even worse are those whose families side with the ex. 

10. I will always be infinitely grateful to The Saint for telling me about what was going on. Because of him and his willingness to speak up I didn’t sink every last dollar we had into paying our final bill for the pool. Instead I was able to follow my attorney’s advice and hang onto that money. I cannot even begin to imagine what would have happened to me and my kids if I didn’t have that money to put into my account. It would have been bad. Really bad.

11. I’m grateful I don’t have to worry about running into them. I had to live with him for six months after knowing what a shithead he was, but then he up and moved and I’ve only seen him twice since then- once in court and once at Rock Star’s graduation. Oops- three times because I saw him right before Rock Star’s graduation as well when I gave him his ticket to her graduation. We are hundreds of miles apart. I know the mobster had to deal with his wife bringing her AP to the kids’ games and then again to T’s graduation party. So many people ask for advice on how to handle it when the inevitable happens and they run into them. Some people have even had the ex and the AP move in next to them. Not me. I don’t think I’ll ever see him again.

12. I have never had to deal with her writing to me, trying to explain things to me or tell me how I should behave. There’s a lot of this going on over on the FB page. Usually the OW feels the need to intervene and give “advice” to the person she helped try to destroy. Things like, “Move on and stop being so bitter,” or “You need to be more grown up and put your kids first,” or, “You need to encourage your kids to have a relationship with their cheating dad and shame on you for being the reason they don’t.” Real classy things. I think we can all agree that if we felt we needed advice the last person we’d ask for that advice would be some home wrecking whore. And yet, they freely give it. Then again freely giving it up to anyone is kinda what they’re known for. Thankfully, Harley has stayed way, way over in her lane. Ironically, despite being married to her cousin for twenty years I never met her. I’ve never laid eyes on her. Might be able to pick her out of a line up (she does have an impressive list of mug shots from which to choose). Then again, I might not be able to. I’ve seen pictures but I’ve never seen her. With the way things are going I probably never will. Hooray!

13. He’s had his moments but for the most part Jerry Lee leaves me alone. He’s not texting me vicious messages or calling me or emailing me and harassing me. Like I said, he’s had his moments- his hissy fit when being called out way back in the day, the stamps on the envelopes, the text message to the mobster, his shitty messages and obscene emojis in his Venmo transfers, hacking my Facebook page… He hasn’t been an angel but I haven’t heard a peep out of him in probably over two years. Now that he has a suspended jail sentence hanging over his head it’s amazing how compliant he is.

14. I was awarded spousal support. That is HUGE. So many states don’t offer it. Period. Others only offer it for a very short amount of time. It’s scary to think so many women are at the mercy of their husbands. If he decides to leave her and take up with someone else after she’s spent fifteen, twenty-five, thirty years supporting his career and putting her own needs aside to focus on him, she’s just out on her own. Oh well. Looks like you live in poverty from now on.  I may have had to fight him on it. I may have never known when I was going to get it until just recently, but I got spousal support. It was enough that I could do things for my kids, buy groceries, pay the utilities, go out to eat, and have some semblance of the life I had before. Way too many women don’t get that at all.

15. I didn’t really lose any friends. Being married to someone anti-social has its perks, I suppose. I’m sure there were people at his place of employment who liked him, both in Utah and Virginia. I socialized with those people in Utah. Most of the people I don’t talk to anymore just because we weren’t all that close and we moved 2000 miles away. I was friends with the wife of the new production manager at his old plant. We still text or send a FB message every once in a while. We’re FB friends. We live over a thousand miles apart but I have an open invitation to get together whenever I come back to Utah. I never really socialized with those in Virginia so no loss at all. We didn’t have any couple friends. He never wanted to socialize so I did all of my socializing by myself. I didn’t hate Blockhead while we were married but I didn’t feel exceptionally close to him either. I guess I always felt kind of like he didn’t care for me so when we got divorced the fact that he wasn’t on “my side” wasn’t a big shock. Or a big loss. I had already distanced myself from most of his family by the time D-Day #2 came along so no loss there either.

16. I didn’t have to get rid of my pets. We did re-home our cats but we hadn’t had them very long either. It would have been nice had he told me he was having an affair and planning on leaving because then we never would have taken them in but let’s be realistic. Our cats were all re-homed and my three dogs were able to come with me. I’m down to two now. My sweet Beau died a few years ago. My luscious Laila Lou is almost fourteen. For a Boxer that is ancient. Far beyond their normal life span. She just had her check up and they were amazed at her good health. Little Milo Tim is almost 8. They will be with me until the day they die. Again, I hear the sad stories of people who were forced to relinquish their pets. I can’t imagine.

17. I won in court. Another huge thing in my favor and another thing to be grateful for. It could have gone badly for me. There were many times I worried about what might happen if the judge decided I didn’t deserve spousal support, or the amount was set at some very low amount. Winning in court, even if it didn’t guarantee him paying what he was supposed to, was a huge thing for me.

18. I’m thankful I had the means to keep fighting in court. And that goes back to my mom in part. I was able to pay the first two retainers (to two different lawyers) but the third retainer I had to borrow from my mom. At that time all of my savings was gone. I’m not sure I had a job yet and if I did it would have been my part-time job at Target. Hardly enough to pay a retainer. I did get lucky and had the funds to pay the retainer for the expert witness and I was billed as I went after the trial, but not everyone is so “lucky”. It also helped that I wasn’t paying legal fees on top of a mortgage and everything else.

There you have it. If I took another three months to write this post I could probably come up with some more things to be thankful for, but I’m not going to do that.

I guess it boils down to this: I’ve got my kids- full-time. I don’t have to see him or deal with him. She stays out of my way. Twenty years of marriage and it’s like it never happened. He’s just someone that I used to know. I don’t have to deal with him playing games in regards to the kids. And with a suspended jail sentence hanging over his head he pays what he’s ordered to pay me. Life is good and I’m thankful.

I’m a Big Girl Now

I did a thing today. I bought a bed. Not just any bed either. Oh no! I bought myself a Simmons Beauty Rest plush pillow top, the softest mattress they had in that line. At the urging of my mom I went all out and even bought the adjustable control instead of the platform, so I can adjust the head and foot of the mattress. I can just press a button and the head will raise up as much as I’d like. I can sit in my bed comfortably and type or watch TV. Isn’t that amazing? 

I was going to be practical. I was already splurging by buying the more expensive Simmons over the perfectly fine Serta. The Simmons was just so comfortable. The adjustable “frame”, or whatever it is, was an additional $800 almost so I wasn’t going to do it. Then the lady that was helping me said, without any provocation from me, “I could probably go down to $X for both, but I couldn’t go any lower than that.”

Well hell! Sign me up! I’ll take them both! And then… I bought a damn headboard!

This was all encouraged by my mother who is a very practical person. And very frugal. She reuses plastic baggies, for crying out loud! Here she is egging me on. “You deserve it! Fuck the kids and their vacation. Do something for yourself!”

So I did! Even though there was a perfectly good headboard out in the garage from when we moved in. I bought a new one. My very own. My own personal selection.

My wonderful, loyal readers, this is the very first time I have ever selected bedroom furniture for myself. I am 52 years old and I have never picked out bedroom furniture for my own bedroom.

The bedroom set I shared with Jerry Lee was gifted to us by Tammy Faye and Pastor Fake as a wedding gift. I didn’t mind at the time; I was thankful they bought it. We had that set the entire twenty years we were married.

We did eventually upgrade from a queen mattress to a king, but we never bought a headboard. 

We did purchase two plain wooden nightstands from Meijer about two years into our marriage. Jerry Lee picked one out for himself and I decided to go ahead and get one as well. But, of course, I left that behind when I moved. 

Now I have this amazing bed that I can hardly wait to sleep in, and I have a beautiful Victorian headboard. I’m just waiting for it all to be delivered.

For five and a half years I’ve been rotating between two couches, my Mom’s bed when she was in Florida, and my daughter’s bed when she was away at college. With Rock Star moving out I’m officially turning her room into my room. I’m installing new flooring, painting the walls, and either replacing or painting the closet doors. I’m finally going to have a space- and a bed- of my own once again.

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 place 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 him 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.

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!

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 lift 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 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.

It’s That Day Again

There were so many different things I thought I was going to write about.  I started off thinking I would write about the fact that no matter how much I try to train my brain that today is just another day there’s always a little part of me that recognizes today is the day I made the biggest mistake of my life, aka my now defunct anniversary.

Then I tried to find a new pair of jeans. I was going to write about that. Shopping in the age of a pandemic is not easy. All of my old jeans are too big; I really need some new ones. Truth be told I can usually wear the old jeans for about 30 minutes to an hour and then they begin drooping and falling off my ass. It’s a good problem to have, I suppose. Much better than the old problem which is where I couldn’t zip my jeans up because I was getting too fat. Nonetheless, I’d really like to find a few pairs that fit. After nearly two hours of trying to find a new pair of jeans, ones that would fit just right- not too tight, not too loose- I gave up and headed to the Chick-Fil-A in the food court at the mall. I was already there and my hope was that it would be less crowded than the other one.

As I waited in line for my food I got a notification on my phone. It was Jerry Lee. 

No, he did not text to commemorate our former anniversary. He was letting me know I should check my Venmo. Mississippi finally sent the money back and he was finally sending it back to me.

I find a certain poetic justice in that. Turning over a big chunk of change to me on what would have been our 26th wedding anniversary. I always find it humorous when he pays me alimony on our anniversary. I wonder if he realizes that? Do you think he’s connected the dots and ever thinks, “Jesus, Joseph, and Mary! If I’d just kept my dick in my pants and stayed married I could keep all of this money,”? Probably not. I’m sure if he even remembers the past significance of this date he feels it was a good deal. 

It won’t happen again though because it’s automatically deducted out of his paycheck now but you have to admit as far as anti-versary gifts go this one is a doozy. I got a nice big pay day and the saga with Mississippi is finally over. Plus, he has to pay me again on Tuesday. To cap off this fantastic day I’m getting on a plane tomorrow afternoon and flying down to see my love. Happy former anniversary to me!