That Weekend I Thought My Car Got Stolen

Good Monday, everyone! How are you? I’m hoping I still have readers. I think there might be 10 of you left. I have no one to blame except myself and my horrible posting habits. I digress…

I just got back from a weekend in Chillicothe. It’s actually the first weekend spent with the mobster since he went back to Virginia at the beginning of June. It was great. Except for those few minutes that felt like hours when we thought my car was either stolen or towed. Let me explain.

Saturday was a big Pokemon Go event. It was the finale to Go Fest which took place the last time we were together in Chillicothe. My original thinking was we would get up, drive to New Systems Bakery to enjoy their delicious bismarks and hopefully some chicken tortilla soup (hooray for me! They did have it!), and then bring the car back to the house, walk down to two shops we wanted to go into, and then walk down to the park. Very healthy of us. Or at least we would hopefully walk off the bismarks.

I will go back yet another step further. Friday we both got there around 6:00 pm. We wandered around the downtown for a little bit. We walked by this store we had wanted to go into last time we were there. Unfortunately, it was closed last time so we wanted to check the hours and make sure we could get int this time around.

Then we walked by this lovely stained glass shop we’ve frequented in the past. One time I bought this pretty coaster and I think a butterfly for my mom. The store owner mentioned that his mother had made those so I say to him, “Wow- sounds like your mom is having a really good day!” Lots of sales, you know? And he says to me, “My mom died a year ago.” So, not having a great day.

Who knows? Maybe she was having a great time in Heaven, looking down and seeing her mortal goods finally being purchased. I feel like I bought more than just a coaster and a butterfly but it’s been years so I don’t remember and it’s not important. What’s important is we have history with this shop.

It was closed at this point in the evening but we walked by and looked at the various items in the huge window display. They had this amazing succulent made from stained glass. It was beautiful and I wanted that sucker! It will be the one plant I cannot kill! The mobster saw some melted bottles that he wanted as well so we decided we would visit The Totem and this stained glass shop in the morning before the big Pokemon event started at 10. Except The Totem didn’t open until 10 but I told him I was fine with that.

Back to Saturday morning. Drive to New Systems. Park the car. Walk to the two shops and then go to the park. Then we realize if we buy anything, which we planned to do, we needed to walk back to the house. So, instead we drove to New Systems. Ate. Drove back to the downtown. Because of the sand volleyball tournament they were having in the street parking was difficult to find. We parked about 2 blocks from where we wanted to be, which was fine, and is germane to the story.

Not really germane to the story? Chillicothe has got a lot of very interesting things going on in their small town. It’s a population of just over 22,000 but it seems like they always have the best events going on. 50 West just put on a race earlier this year. They have this amazing park. The decorations are awesome at Christmas. I love their Santa. They’ve had an iceskating rink set up, both in a parking lot just off the street and in the park. They have great restaurants. And now they rope off a city block, dump mounds of sand on the street, and host a volleyball tournament. How incredible is that? All my city has is a stupid wine walk and the tickets are usually sold out before I even realize there is a wine walk! You know what Chillicothe is like? It’s like one of those towns in a Hallmark movie. Except I’m pretty sure they’ve got a pretty serious heroine problem and at least one serial killer on the loose. Aside from that it’s exactly like the Hallmark movie towns. And I don’t care about the drugs and the serial killer because I love this little smelly town!

Where were we? New Systems. Ate. Parked 2 blocks away. We parked over by Carl’s Townhouse, which is not a townhouse at all. It’s a little diner that serves breakfast and lunch. We’ve been there a few times. Unfortunately, the last time we went they took forever and they served me bad tomato juice. Like, there were chunks in the tomato juice and they were not tomato chunks. It was disgusting.

Once parked we went to The Totem first. Shopped. I came out with a rather large bag. Bought a t-shirt, a magnolia scented candle, and a coffee mug. Then we walked to the stained glass shop. I got my stained glass succulent, bought a smaller one for my daughter, and then while he was wrapping everything up for me, decided to purchase a set of gorgeous wind chimes. The mobster made his own purchases. We walk this all back to the car, carefully place it in the trunk so it doesn’t get stolen, and because it’s so late we decide to drive over to the park instead of driving back to the house and walking.

We go into the park, park by the bathrooms because we had to go and why park and walk when you can simply park, and then we play Pokemon Go All. Day. We didn’t start exactly at 10. At least not balls to the wall starting. But once we got to the park, we played until after 6.

One other creepy detail after I’ve just described this town as a Hallmark town. Before I went to the bathroom I was sucking down the last of my iced Milky Way coffee. Delicious. I’m standing there by the trashcan finishing this beverage off and as I’m turning to go into the bathroom this guy is walking towards me and I realize he’s speaking to me. He’s asking for money. He’s homeless. Yada, yada, yada. Do I have any cash on me? I did but I wasn’t going to tell him that!

When I got back in the car the mobster asked me if I had seen the look on the guy’s face when he realized that there was a man sitting in the car and that I wasn’t alone. I had not. I just figured when I said I didn’t carry cash on me he turned around and went back to where he had been sitting. The mobster was insistent that he thought this guy was a predator and might have actually tried to attack me if he hadn’t been there.

I’m not going to let a little thing like a potential homicide or mugging stop me from a great day of Pokemon Go. I had ultra beasts to catch! One day only!

We walk around this huge park for over 6 hours. We catch. We spin stops. We raid. It was a full day. It started off beautifully with sunny skies and a nice breeze. Great temperature. But by later in the afternoon the humidity was starting to take hold. The remaining few hours of the day were humid. And we’re walking through this. After 6 the mobster is getting hungry and he’s encouraging me to shut it down for the day and grab some dinner.

We head out of the park and over to our parking spot in front of Carl’s Townhouse. Only… there’s no car there. We’re both looking around. I’m checking the signs to make sure I didn’t park in a tow-away zone. No. The sign just says 2 hour parking Monday-Friday and by parking there you agree to their terms. I know I parked behind the sign. We’re both freaking out because we’re not sure if my car got stolen or if I got towed. It’s Saturday evening. If I was towed how soon could I even bail out my car? And if it was stolen those motherfuckers stole my new t-shirt, my new candle, my beautiful stained glass succulent and wind chimes, and my damn coffee mug! Not to mention the mobster’s purchases. He’s high tailing back to the house (which was only about another 2 blocks from Carl’s) although I can no longer remember what the purpose of that was. Oh yes! The thought was maybe we did take the car back to the house and walk over to the park from there. Then I get this horrible thought. What if the guy from the park who was trying to extort money out of me was pissed because I didn’t give him any money so he stole my car instead!

That’s when it clicked. We had parked the damn car over in the park by the bathrooms. Whew! We had a rather long walk back to that spot but it was much better than filing a police report or bailing my car out. And that was the weekend that I thought my car was stolen.

My stained glass succulent

In Other News, Part 2

I do actually have reason to dance in the rain. I am excelling at work.

Last week we had our remote workers come in for the week, which was awesome. It was my first time meeting these people in person. We had lunches together. We had meetings. We got together after hours three of the days. It was a lot of fun, although I was exhausted by the end of it.

Anyway, my boss had one on one talks with each of us during the week. It’s not a new thing. She tries to do this on a regular basis. But during this particular meeting she let me know I was doing a fantastic job. She continues to be amazed at how well I manage my work and get it all done (see the previous post about working those extra hours). They apparently interviewed a lot of people for this position and I was the hand-picked favorite. She’s giving me a new responsibility and because of that increased responsibility she is making me an Analyst II within the next 6 months. And with that comes another raise. She also told me to plan on taking the CAMS classes around 2023, 2024 and get ready to take the test to be certified.

I cannot tell you how psyched I am about all of this. Seriously. CAMS is a big deal. It’s a certified anti money laundering specialist. My boss told me a few months ago that once I was CAMS certified I could write my own ticket. This is definitely something I want to do and I’ve talked about it with both my mom and the mobster. It’s a big time goal with an even bigger payoff.

The caveat is my boss won’t send anyone to the classes until they’re an Analyst II. I’ve also heard that there are certain qualifications you have to have before you can even sign up. Extra training and classes and such. So, being promoted to an Analyst II was a big step in reaching my goal. I thought it was going to be at least another year before I was bumped up and then who knew how much longer until I was finally sent to classes?

Now I have a date and a timeline. I’m getting *another* raise sometime in the next 6 months. It won’t be long before I can write my own ticket. I can go pretty much anywhere I would like and I can ask for a whole lot more money once I’m CAMS certified.

I’m dancing, folks.

In Other News

This was written about 2 weeks ago. I’ve got another update for you.

I’m really beginning to hate that phrase: Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning how to dance in the rain. And yet I persevere.

While the love of my life happily treks back to Virginia I’m doing my best to dance in the rain. My daughter will graduate from nursing school in December. I am so excited for her. She seems to really be excelling in school. Her instructors love her. One of them asked her to be a student instructor for her class next semester. So she has a paying gig along with the many references that have been offered by various clinical instructors.

I finally have good news on the Picasso front. If you remember back in December he was having a meltdown. He had quit his job at the grocery store, tried Chick-Fil-A and quickly quit that job, and he had run out of medication.

He is doing fantastic right now. I got the prescription refilled, he saw our nurse practitioner and he finally got his referral to a psychiatrist who has since put him on two different medications.

That’s not even the best part. He suddenly decided he was going to get his driver’s license and was going to join the carpenter’s union. I think within a day of announcing his plans he had made an appointment to get his license. He scared the shit out of the driving instructor but she passed him. He’s had his license about two months now.

Once the hard copy of his license was mailed to him he went down to the carpenter’s union and signed up. He’s done everything he needed to do and he’s actually working a job now. He’s been on it for a week and a half. His very first full time job. He makes his lunch the night before and gets up at 5 in the morning to drive an hour to the job site. He’s such a big boy now!

It’s odd to think that next year at tax time I will only be claiming one child, and that this is the last year I’ll be able to claim head of household. As of 2023 I believe both kids will be off my payroll. Quite frankly, I’m hoping to be on theirs. LOL

I’m really hoping Picasso inquires about insurance soon. It’s not so much that I will suddenly have a huge payday (I do still carry Rock Star). It’s more that I’m sure his insurance will be cheaper and will undoubtedly be better than what I can offer him.

My mom just got back from Florida a month ago. She has a birthday coming up on May 13th.

My kittens are growing. They can’t share the little basket on the cat tower anymore. Or, if they do try it one of them usually leaves pretty quickly because they don’t have enough room. They are little stinkers. Holly loves her wet food. She cries and cries in the morning until she gets her way. She thinks every time I walk near the kitchen it’s time to be fed. Noël is a lot more chill and not nearly as food motivated.

I got them a bubbling water fountain because cats are supposed to drink more water when it’s moving. Milo may be drinking out of it, too. Really all three of them can share. It’s not like it’s a cats only drinking fountain.

I am working from home two to three days a week. Milo loves it. He’s my little shadow. I try to remember to bring his little pop up house into the office so he can sleep.

Work has been crazy lately. It hasn’t helped that I haven’t been able to focus until just recently. The past week I’m sure I worked more than 8 hours Monday-Thursday but I know for certain I worked until 8:30 on Friday evening, taking about a 30 minute break to eat dinner and then logged on again on Sunday and worked another four hours. Fortunately, that had me pretty well caught up with all of the end of month stuff.

I just got my raise and it was actually decent. I mean, it wasn’t another almost 50% but it was decent.

I began this year with four weeks of vacation and 2 banked holidays. It’s almost May and I’ve only taken my 2 banked holidays, although I do have the day after Thanksgiving reserved to be taken off. Still, 3 weeks and 4 days of vacation left. I’m not sure what to do with it.

I’ve always wanted to go see Multnomah Falls in Oregon. Apparently there is hiking and an additional waterfall or two. I’d probably end up as one of those lost hikers that ends up dead.

You know, the funny thing about travel is I don’t find it to be something I want to do all by myself. I mean, I guess I could take a fucking cruise on my own but how much fun would that be? Sitting at a table full of people that are coupled up and where I know no one. Lounging about on the deck and sipping cocktails by myself wouldn’t be so bad, but I don’t think I’d leave the ship. I’m not very adventurous on my own. I love going to the movies by myself. I could even go out to eat by myself. But a vacation? Uh. no. There is not a single vacation I could envision going on by myself with the possible exception of the beach. Maybe I’ll end up just taking a road trip one week. Find some tourist-y things to do in a few cities and enjoy my own company. Or I can just sit on my ass at home for 3 different weeks. We’ll see. The year isn’t over yet although I’m sure my boss is probably going to be pulling her hair out in another month or two.

If anyone has vacation ideas I’m all ears.

Never Again

I read this somewhere and I wanted to discuss this:

The inability to receive support from others is a trauma response.

Your, “I don’t need anyone, I’ll just do it all myself,” conditioning is a survival tactic. And you needed it to shield your heart from abuse, neglect, betrayal, and disappointment from those who could not or would not be there for you….

…From all the situation when someone told you, “We’re in this together,” or “I got you,” then abandoned you, leaving you to pick up the pieces when shit got real, leaving you to handle your part and their part, too.

From all the lies and all the betrayals.

You learned along the way that you just couldn’t really trust people Or that you could trust people, but only up to a certain point.

Extreme independence is a trust issue.

You learned: if I don’t put myself in a situation where I rely on someone, I won’t have to be disappointed when they don’t show up for me, or when they drop the ball… because they will always drop the ball eventually, right?

Extreme independence is a preemptive strike against heartbreak.

So you don’t trust anyone.

And you don’t trust yourself, either, to choose people.

To trust is to hope, to trust is to be vulnerable.

“Never again,” you vow.

But no matter how you dress it up and display it proudly to make it seem like this level of independence is what you always wanted to be, in truth it’s your wounded, scarred broken heart behind a protective brick wall.

Impenetrable. Nothing gets in. No hurt gets in. But no love gets in either.

Fortresses and armor are for those in battle, or who believe the battle is coming.

It’s a trauma response.

by Jamila White

There was more but this encompasses most of what I wanted to write about.

I read this, and my first thought was, “Wow! This is so profound. So true. You’ve got to open your heart. Learn to trust. Not let the bad experiences shape you.”

And then I thought, “This is nuts. Of course the bad experiences are going to shape you! You should learn from them, not put your head in the sand and pretend that the next time it will all be okay.”

I suppose I should start with this: I don’t think I engage in extreme independence. I also don’t think I deny others the chance to support me.

Am I perfectly fine being on my own? I sure was. I didn’t think I would ever date again and I was pretty okay with that. I didn’t go looking for the mobster. He found me.

With that said I absolutely love having someone like him in my life.

Now, having said that I’m still not ready to throw caution to the wind, move in together, chuck spousal support out the window and cling to the notion that, “This time it will all work out!”

Yeah, last time it damn near killed me. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. I sometimes forget how awful it was because five years have passed and my life isn’t horrible anymore. And you know, you would think that would be a big help.

Hey! You survived it before! You thought you wanted to die and that your life was going to suck forever and ever. But look at you now! It doesn’t suck. If he walked out the door you’d pick yourself up and carry on. You’re in a better position now even because you already have a job! So you wouldn’t be back to square one. You’d be on, like, square two at the very least. Maybe even square three. You couldn’t lose everything all over again because you already lost everything and you never really rebuilt, right? It’s not like you bought a house. You don’t have any furniture. There’s nothing to lose! You’re good!

Ah, Happy-Go-Lucky Sam! I’ve missed you. Unfortunately for her, Baptized Through Fire Sam also shows up. And she’s like, “Are you crazy?”

My answer to that is, “No!”

I’ve thought about this a lot and it comes down to this. Let’s imagine there is a lake I swim in quite often. For years I go to this lake and I jump in and I swim around and have a grand ol’ time. And then one day, I go to the lake and I jump in and I swim around just like I always have. Only this time… an alligator bites my leg off. Now, I don’t know how the alligator got in the lake. It’s not like I live in Florida. Maybe it was a pet and it got too big so someone let it go. Maybe it migrated. I don’t know. I just know it now lives in the lake I used to swim in. And it bit my leg off. I was lucky to survive. It was a miracle. Kinda like me surviving my damn divorce and losing everything. Hmmmm…. Anyway… if someone asked me, “Hey, Sam, why don’t you swim in that lake anymore?” I would have no problem with saying, “Because a damn alligator bit my freaking leg off!” And if they tried to tell me that the chances of the alligator biting my other leg off was slim to none I’d tell them I wasn’t going to take any chances. I know there’s a damn alligator in that lake!

I don’t think anyone would fault me for that.

I think I tend to trust but verify. Trust but not put all my eggs in another person’s basket. Trust but not blindly. Trust but don’t be stupid. Any of those could be my new motto.

The mobster spent a few weeks with the guy who sold him his route. They talked a lot. The guy had 2 children from a previous relationship. He was currently with his girlfriend of 7 years. They had a child together and she really wanted to get married. His father ran routes all over for years until he began the Missions routes, which were basically given to him. Between him and his two sons they owned multiple routes. The guy who is selling the mobster the route makes quite a bit of money between the three or so routes he runs and his investment properties. One day the mobster came home and he was relaying the stories he had heard from him. I don’t remember how it came up but I remember him saying that at one point B was explaining that while his girlfriend worked a full-time job as well “all of this is me”, meaning that while she worked, too, the reason they had the giant house and the waterfall features in their yard and the Tesla and the million other things they had, was because of him.

My first inclination was to think, “Well, that’s not very team-like of him.” But my second reaction, which quickly followed my first, was, “He’s absolutely correct. It is all him.” Or rather, it’s all his.

I’m sure she helps him out logistically. She may even provide insurance for him and his two other children. But the reality is she makes a fraction of what he makes. Her lifestyle is funded by him. If she walked out on him tomorrow his life wouldn’t change. He might have to scramble to find someone to help out with his kids, but he’s not going to be wondering if he can afford the mortgage. He won’t be worried about whether or not he has to take his kids out their school because he might need to move. If he walks out on her? Oh you can bet your ass her life is going to change. She may have a full-time job. She may not be destitute. But she’s not going to be living in a house like she does now. She won’t be driving around in a Tesla. A lot of the things she can afford to do and purchase she wouldn’t be able to afford or purchase if he left.

That is still my mindset. I went through my house and I put price tags on all of my belongings. What I couldn’t sell was left behind. I lost my home. I lost my pool. I lost my brand new furniture. I had to move out of the state and back in with my mom. I live in fucking Indiana once again, for crying out loud. 

I will never financially depend upon another man again. That is still my stance. If I can’t afford it it’s not mine. If I can’t afford it on my own I don’t want it. I see all of these happy people who live these amazing lives and they’re doing it because they’re married. Their husbands fund their lives. It’s the ol’ “teamwork” concept. We’re a team! What’s mine is his and what’s his is mine. We don’t have his money and my money; it’s our money. I sometimes think how nice it would be to be able to do that again. To think that because I have a husband who can buy us a second home on a lake that I somehow have a home on a lake. To think that because my husband can afford a boat that I, too, have a boat. To think that because I’m married to a man who can afford a half a million dollar home that I have a half a million dollar home.

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that that is not true. If my fictitious future husband decides to walk out on me for some gold digging whore then I no longer have a lake house. I no longer have a boat. I no longer have a $500,000 home. And I do realize that I got a very raw deal because Jerry Lee let our house go into foreclosure as opposed to getting up off his ass and getting a new job, hoping to wait me out. But I probably wouldn’t have been able to keep that house anyway. 

The way I look at it is this: As long as I follow my own common sense advice and only live on what I can afford on my own then I don’t have to worry about losing my home and everything in it should the man I’m with suddenly decides he wants to fuck a gold digging whore. If I acknowledge the fact that I only have access to his huge house, or his pool, or his boat or his lake house, because he wants to fuck me then I’m not shocked when I no longer have access to any of that if he dumps me. I don’t have to pack up my house. I don’t have to put stickers on everything. I don’t have to move back in with my mom. Would I be sad? Of course! But I’m not having every single goddamn thing I own taken away from me either. 

It’s kind of like if I had a job where I got free concert tickets as a perk of the job, or they allowed me use of their corporate condo in Hawaii. I would expect to only get to use those perks as long as I worked there. I wouldn’t be thinking, “I have a condo in Hawaii.” No, I’d be thinking, “My company has a condo in Hawaii and I get to use it as a perk of my employment.” If I leave the company I don’t have access to that condo in Hawaii anymore. I no longer get free concert tickets. All of those goodies are contingent upon my employment, just like my access to anything I can’t afford on my own is contingent upon my partner still wanting to be with me.

I think the point of this is to not let your bad experiences rule your life, but it doesn’t mean you don’t implement some safe guards. Instead of declaring, “All men (or women) are bad and I’m not getting involved with anyone ever again!” you examine the red flags you missed and the behavior you tolerated in order to stay in that relationship. It’s not, “I’ll never let down my walls!”, or “I’ll never trust again!”.  It’s being willing to have deal breakers. It’s being willing to say, “This is not acceptable to me,”- and meaning it. It means not overlooking bad behavior and coming up with excuses for it. It’s demanding reciprocity and leaving when you don’t get that instead of continuing to wish upon a star that things were different. You don’t twist yourself into a pretzel trying to get someone else to love you and you’re willing to walk away when you realize this person is never going to be who you need them to be.

I don’t think it’s so much that I’ve built up walls or have trust issues. I think I’ve seen the stark reality of what happens when you go into a relationship thinking you’re a team and that you’ve built this life together, and then one person decides they want out. I can love deeply. I can love fiercely. I can let down my walls and I can trust. But I’m not going to be stupid. I’m not going to put myself in a bad situation like I did the first time around. For me, that means I won’t rely on another man financially ever again. I don’t think that means I have trust issues. I think it means I learned a very valuable lesson. I no longer swim in lakes that are known to have alligators in them.

Be Here, Be Still… In Virtual Reality

Ah, nothing says embracing your word (phrase) of the year and living in the moment like a day out at a virtual reality arcade. Arena? Building? I don’t know the correct terminology.

Last year when my son changed his last name I planned on taking him and a few of his friends out for a day of fun. One of the things he wanted to do was this virtual reality game. He had gone earlier with another friend and loved it. Anyway, it was closed on the day we were going so we didn’t get to do it and I just haven’t ever gone back.

Fast forward to this weekend. The mobster has been begging me to buy him an Occulus (jokingly, of course…. I think….). Two of his sons have one and they’ve had so much fun playing it. Picasso bought himself one a few months back as well. He saw that we have several virtual reality places in town and really wanted to go. I really didn’t have much interest. I was going to go with my son because it was something we could do together. Despite my many campaigns to let him know how much I think he would enjoy a pedicure Picasso has remained steadfast in his belief that he would not enjoy such a thing. So I was willing to bend a little to have that time with him.

Then the mobster got me right in the heart. “You always said you’d try anything once.” Ouch!

Okay. Off we went. Me, reluctantly. The mobster and Picasso excitedly.

It was So. Much. Fun! I have to get my daughter and her boyfriend up here and have the five of us go one day. 

We did the zero latency game. Basically, you wear this life vest along with your goggles and headset. They give you a gun. You’re in a large room and you wander through this room. There were tasks you had to perform along the way. Thankfully you could never get kicked out of the game because I ended up dying four times.

If you’ve never done a virtual reality game I have to tell you it is so real. You know it’s not but your mind plays tricks. At one point we were supposed to go up this ramp that was outside a building. It was just like being outside and staring down God only knows how many stories as you stay close to the wall and get from one point to another.

I couldn’t do it. I was like, “Nope. Game’s over. I’m not moving.” The game master was instructing those of us who were big babies, letting us know that another worker was right around the corner and he’d take our hand. I finally came to the realization that all I had to do was lift my goggles. That’s what I did. Pushed those suckers up and walked right through that little bit of the game. Look up, my ass! Just take the damn goggles off!

As far as shooting zombies went I did not come in last. That honor went to the only other female in our group. Picasso was the overall winner and the mobster came in second. He actually had more kills than Picasso but Picasso had more head shots and a slightly greater overall score.

The game lasted 30 minutes but I swear, it didn’t feel anywhere that long.

We also played two rounds in the Omni Arena. Those are only 10 minutes but thank God for that! After the first one I think I had an episode of exercise induced asthma! I could not stop coughing.

This game says it’s on a treadmill but I think that’s a bit of a misnomer. They’re more like mini trampolines that don’t bounce. They aren’t moving. You are. You wear slippers over your shoes and they have little round monitors, like the ones you would wear for tracking time at a race, that they put into these slippers.

Our first game, of course, was battling zombies. The weapons changed so quickly I’m sure there were times I was trying to take someone’s head off with a pistol. I kept running into things (virtually, of course) and then I’d have to fight through a swarth of zombies that had me pinned in.

My pants kept falling down which was distracting. Well, they didn’t fall all the way down. They were just beginning to slide down. Still distracting.

We let the other group go ahead of us before we did our second game because we were all tired. In this game you’re constantly running and you have to run on that circle to make your character move. No movement, no game.

We ended up spending almost 4 hours out with an ice cream break in between games. We were exhausted by the end of the night.

What can I say? The mobster is almost always right and he was definitely right in this case. I had a blast and am looking forward to going back. I’m still not going outside the side of that building, though.

It’s Not Fair

I often read about people lamenting the fact that their cheating spouse has escaped the marriage with no consequences. They seem to have everything and the cheated on spouse is left with a life in shambles. “Where is the justice?” they often ask. “Why does he (or she) get to ride off into the sunset with a new partner while I’m left all alone? Why has my entire life been firebombed and his (or her) life gone on unscathed? Why isn’t my cheater hurting like I am?”

It goes beyond that, of course. There are feelings of despair. They’re tired. Everything is difficult. Life is a struggle for those left behind. And yes, the cheater does seem to have it all- the new house (or maybe the old house), the new partner, vacations, toys. It sucks. It’s unfair. Why do the cheaters get it all while the ones that are cheated on are left to rebuild?

Of course it appears they have it all! They’re cheaters. No, seriously, they’re cheaters. I don’t mean that only in the sense that they physically cheated with another person. They cheated. Period. It was never a level playing field. They got a head start. They already had everything planned before they walked out the door. They’re not mourning the end of a marriage because they’ve either already done that, or they are incapable of doing that. No one dumped them. They weren’t blindsided by you. Their life was not turned upside down against their will. And life will continue to be unfair until you have a chance to catch up.

Yes, they’ve already got a new bed buddy and you’re all alone? Of course they do! It’s not because you’re unworthy and your cheater is awesome so naturally someone else has glommed onto them. No! It’s because they’re a cheater who already had their next victim lined up. You didn’t do that. You thought you were still in a relationship with this person. If you had known what they were up to you could have got your ducks in a row as well. But the “game” is rigged in their favor. They know and you don’t.

Them knowing what’s going on while you don’t means they can prepare for their new life while you’re preparing their dinner. They can hide money. They can blow marital assets on their accomplice(s). They can get you to sign things and take on debt you wouldn’t take on if you knew what was going on. Every move they make is designed to give them a leg up while keeping you mired in the muck.

They’re financially fine because in most of these cases the cheaters are the high earners while the one being cheated on keeps the home, shuttles the children, makes sure everything runs smoothly, and so on and so forth. It’s a non-paying gig. So they walk out the door and your income goes with them.

Strangely, cheaters always seem to profit, regardless of what side they’re on when it comes to financial matters. If the cheater happens to be the one being supported they’ve already figured out what the poor unsuspecting spouse is going to have to pay them in order to get out of the marriage. They have no conscience. Everything is about them so they don’t give a damn about what they’re doing to you.

It would almost be comical if it weren’t so damn tragic but I see it all the time. The stay at home wife that gets cheated on generally ends up getting screwed over by her cheating husband. She spends the rest of her life living way below the standard of living she enjoyed while married. But the cheating stay at home wife, or the cheating stay at home husband, always seem to end up flush with cash after their divorce. Again, cheaters cheat. And not just sexually. In all areas of their life.

New marriage? New baby? New house? Yes, of course. They have those things because their plan was already in motion. You’re still trying tto come to terms with the fact that you were married to a monster and the monster has been planning their exit for months, if not years. While you were planning a future with this person they were planning their exit strategy.

In the end I guess what I’m trying to say is that of course it seems like they have it all. And it’s easy to get down on yourself when you compare.

Remember though that the reason it seems so easy is because they’ve been laying the groundwork far longer than you can imagine.

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2022

Hello everyone! Happy New Year! How is everyone doing? I hope I still have a few followers out there.

Again I apologize for the lack of posting. As I said before my computer is no longer letting me post. I don’t know why. I can read my site; I just can’t copy and post, or write a post directly from the website. So I have to write the post, copy it, email it to myself, retrieve it off my phone email, copy it, paste it into the blog on my phone, edit it for spacing errors, and then edit the rest of the post. It’s time consuming and I simply haven’t been in the mood lately to take those additional 10 minutes or so to get it posted.

On the bright side, I do have around 5 posts waiting to be posted, not counting this one.

Christmas came and went. There are all kinds of things I could say about the holiday but I’m not going to. Let’s just say the holidays continue to be disappointing and I am desperately trying to overhaul them for my own peace of mind.

I was all set to write about the wonderful weekend our family had in Indianapolis but that came and went and now it seems anticlimactic. 

To sum up: My mom has been lamenting not being able to get everyone together at the holidays. My niece got married 2 1/2 years ago so she’ll never be spending another holiday with us. My nephew is kind of a package deal with her. He’s not going to come up without her so we’ll never spend another holiday with him either. I finally sent out a text asking if anyone was interested in getting together for a dinner this year, and mentioning perhaps being able to extend it to a weekend next year. We ended up booking a house in Indianapolis for the 14 of us for the weekend. It was my mom, my 2 kids, Rock Star’s boyfriend, the mobster, my brother and his wife, plus their two kids, Queen B’s boyfriend, and then my niece, her husband, and my other nephew. We spent most of the time inside and together. Almost everyone took part in putting a Christmas puzzle together. Lots of football was watched on Saturday as my brother and mom were hoping Notre Dame would make it into the championship play off bowl. Didn’t happen. We ended up going to downtown Indy Saturday evening for a Christmas bizarre, which ended up not being that great. We ordered pizza Friday night, had breakfast casseroles Saturday morning, a big Mexican buffet Saturday night, and biscuits and gravy on Sunday morning. There were snacks and lots of alcohol and plenty of games. I made 2 pans of Scotheroos and 3 batches of sugar cookies. All in all it was a pretty good weekend; we left with everyone looking forward to doing it again. There was even talk of doing an extended weekend because as it was we really only had one day together.

I’m not sure that’s going to happen anymore. Neither my mom nor myself is really feeling up to planning yet another family adventure. But it was nice while it lasted.

The mobster survived his first holiday season in Indiana. I think I mentioned he went back to Virginia over Thanksgiving. He was here in Indiana over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but left Wednesday after and was back in Virginia through the 2nd. He misses his kids. I understand and sympathize, of course, but this raises my anxiety and leads me to think he’s going to sell his new route and move back. Ah, the perils of being in love with a man who is a genuinely good father. Harley had it so much easier. Jerry Lee was willing to walk away from his kids in order to be with her. I’m definitely not saying that’s the better man because it isn’t and I wouldn’t want to be with someone who could discard his own flesh and blood. But it does make it easier.

The biggest thing that’s happened in my life recently is kittens! I got two of them shortly after our trip to Indianapolis. I got them from a shelter and they came already named. I have a little black one that I seriously wanted to call Snowball, but alas, her name was Noël. Her sister is Holly. She’s a little gray calico. I’m not sure what the technical term for her coloring is but she’s not a solid gray cat. There are patches of cream throughout her coat.They are both adorable and highly active. It’s been a slow road getting them used to Milo and quite honestly, Holly has come a lot further than Noel. She still bats at him when he walks too close or too fast. Holly, on the other hand, likes to rub up against him and swish her tail along his body. I’m not sure Milo appreciates that.

My mom is down in Florida once again. She’ll be there through most of March. She always gives me a date she’ll be returning and then comes back 2-3 days sooner.

My daughter has one year left in nursing school. She finally conceded that trying to do three nursing classes in summer school was just not feasible so she’ll be returning for her fall semester.

My son is a mess. Ran out of his medication (which isn’t doing a bang up job anyway) and didn’t bother to say anything. I guess he felt the Prozac Fairy would drop off another bottle eventually. He quit his job at the grocery store. I understand there was a personality conflict between him and the manager. It didn’t help that he was the only person left in the department. So he applied at Chick-Fil-A. He lasted at that job for four days. When I told him that playing video games and working a solid 15 hours a week was not a life plan he got very upset and let me know he wasn’t quitting because he was lazy; he was quitting because that job made him want to kill himself. He then spent the next hour sobbing. Needless to say, I felt like shit and I’m still left wondering how much of this is truly a mental health issue and how much is him manipulating me. We’re still waiting for a referral to a psychiatrist in the hopes that proper medication will help. It’s been at least 6 months now and they said when they contacted us it could be 6-8 months.

There is also a sleep issue. He claims that he rarely gets much sleep. He tries to go to sleep but he just lies awake. I’m hoping our family practitioner can prescribe something to help him sleep, although the idea of him and sleeping pills scares me, too.

Also, for those who might be worried, he does not appear to be suicidal now. Once the stress of the job was over he was pretty much back to his old self. Aside from his reluctance to shower everything seems fine.

Honestly, with the addition of the kittens I thought he was coming out of his shell more. The litter box is in his room right now so his door is always cracked open at least a little bit so they can get in there. In the beginning we were told to keep them in one room. His room was that room so he spent lots of time with them and seems to really enjoy them.

I guess it’s true what they say: A mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child. Mental healthcare in this country sucks!

I’m slowly coming to realize that yet another saying is true as well: Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.

There have been very brief moments where everything seemed to gel: My money situation was good, my kids were both good, the mobster and I were doing great. Now it seems more and more like one or two areas will be good and then another one falls apart. Get a new job making almost double what you’re making now. And then…. Picasso’s medication stops working. It’s a series of those situations. It seems to always be raining so learning to dance in the rain is the only thing you can do.

Speaking of dancing in the rain… our bank revised their vacation policy. As of January 1, 2022 I now get an extra week and a day of vacation time. All salaried employees get 3 weeks per year. I was going to have to work another 2, possibly 3 years before that happened. If my boss went in front of the board and lobbied for me to get my 3 weeks at 7 years instead of 7 years, 11 months and 21 days I would have received it in 2024. If not, it would have been 2025.

We also got an extra personal day and the threshold for 4 weeks of vacation has been lowered from 20 years to 15 years.

I’m still ruminating over making New Year’s resolutions or coming up with a word or phrase for the year. I’ve been toying with, “Be Here; Be Still.”  At its core it’s about not letting my mind race to all sorts of disastrous situations. Possibly it could also be about accepting what I have instead of dwelling on what I don’t. And it’s also about being in the moment instead of spending so much time on my phone, playing games and reading. I am not a big Facebook user but I do usually spend a fair amount of time scrolling through the stories on Chump Nation, as well as checking out posts from friends and family. 

Facebook is really my only social media vice. I don’t have a TikTok account. I have a Twitter account but I’ve never tweeted and I don’t ever check out my feed. The amount of time I spend on Instagram can be measured in minutes for the entire year. And as I said, even with Facebook I rarely post anymore. 

The mobster and I bought poster board and Sharpies so we can do a vision board. We’re hoping to spell out our financial and physical goals, as well as changes we’d like to make. I’ll let you know how that goes.

One resolution I will make and will do my best to keep is to post more often. I’m hoping to be able to get a new laptop in the next several months but until then I will simply have to suck it up and do all that copying, pasting, and transferring.

Here’s to a brilliant 2022!

Back row: Rock Star’s boyfriend (holding Milo), Rock Star, my mom (holding Holly), and Picasso (holding Noël). Front row: Me and the mobster

One More Stroll Down Memory Lane

Since I seem to be in the middle of the dog days of nostalgia I figured one more post on the topic wouldn’t hurt. 

I was going to throw this in with yesterday’s post but that one got kinda long so I’m doing a separate one. Facebook hasn’t just been busy reminding me of all the “lasts” we did on our bucket list before we moved from Utah to Virginia. The kids and I created a list of everything we wanted to do one last time before we moved 2000 miles away. It isn’t just busy showing me pictures of the the new house we bought and then furnished and decorated. It has greater tricks up its sleeve than reminding me of our expedition to Indiana to see my niece graduate. We left the day after Rock Star and Picasso got out of school and Jerry Lee took that opportunity to shift his affair into high gear. It’s not content with taunting me with happy pictures of our return visit to Utah, one year after our move to see friends. All while I’m sending him pictures of me in my new dresses, smiling and checking in on him. And, of course, it’s not going to settle for only reminding me about our family vacation in Florida, the one that happened without a care in the world while he screwed his cousin. No, those aren’t the only pictures it likes to have pop up. It also likes to show me the progress being made on my pool.

I believe as far back as April I get a reminder: I signed the contract for our pool today! Hooray! Then again in May: They are finally out here digging! Progress!

I think I’ve told the story of how the pool construction was cursed. The surveyor who was supposed to verify where the power lines were didn’t do his job; he simply signed off on it. The guy who came out and began digging the hole for our pool ending up running over and cutting a power line. I had what felt like the entire electric company out in my backyard attempting to fix the problem- the problem being, of course, exposed live electrical wires.

It didn’t stop there. It rained like crazy that summer so construction was delayed. Then someone else was building a home and putting a pool in at the same time and I agreed to let them go first since it was supposedly an easier job. We had large boulders where the pool was supposed to go and we weren’t sure they were going to be able to dig 6 feet, much less the 8 feet I was hoping for so we could have a diving board. It cost $11,000 to remove them, on top of what we were already paying. It kept raining. Then the dye machine exploded on the day they were supposed to come over and do my concrete. Three weeks turned into six weeks turned into nine weeks. I know it was at least ten weeks. Instead of enjoying our pool sometime in late June or early July it didn’t get filled until August. Our contractor had someone come out and run the basic electricity so that the kids could swim, but we never had it set up completely with the lights.

This picture pretty much sums it up. My mom had captioned it something along the lines of: Sam enjoying her pool. Not!

I remember trying to be very Zen about the whole thing. I kept telling myself that while this was taking a lot longer than it was supposed to in the long run it would all be worth it and we would have years and years of enjoyment. Next year there would be no waiting. Ha! Next year it would be so impossibly dirty we couldn’t ever get it clean and we never swam in it again.

Believe it or not, I’ve made peace with that particular pool. In fact, I would go so far as to say that pool was my saving grace. Had it been finished earlier I would have already paid for it. That money set aside for our pool was what gave me a cushion. Plus, as I’ve always said, if he’d had more stock options he would have simply spent more money on the whore. In the end that big hole in the ground actually saved me. It’s disappointing as hell to know how much we paid for that and how little we got to enjoy it, but it saved me and my kids. There’s got to be some kind of metaphor or catchy saying here. You know, like, “It wasn’t the pool I wanted but it was the pool I needed.” Something like that. Maybe it’s as simple as that pool came into my life for a reason and everything worked out exactly like it was supposed to. 

Anyway, I try not to dwell on it. I loved that pool. I made all the decisions regarding it- the liner selected, the color of the concrete, the deck jets, the solar lights built into the pool deck, the colored lights, the bench, the steps to enter the pool. All of those things were my choices. Knowing what all it took to get the finished product it tugs at my heart a little when I see these updates in my memories. One more thing he took away from me.

I’m going to be glad when September rolls around. LOL

Damn You, Facebook!

I hope everyone reading my blog by now knows that I am completely over Jerry Lee. That ship sailed the moment The Saint told me he had been spending his weekends with Harley while he lied to me and made up story after story. And I am probably somewhere in the 95-99% range of being over all the shit he put me through and the havoc he created. With that said Facebook can be a real meddlin’ bitch who stirs shit up!

If I let triggers rule my life I would have to be put into a coma somewhere around the beginning of May and be kept unconscious until the end of August. That’s pretty much when Jerry Lee pulled all his shit- both times! Much like my children have June and July birthdays which means I can pretty much always say, “They’re two years apart,” Jerry Lee was “kind enough” to make sure that both of my D-Days were in August. Four days apart! Except for the original D-Day which was not much of a D-Day because I was so stupid. That one happened in May- hence the medically induced coma beginning in May.

I looked on my Facebook memories and was treated to pictures of my kids and I on a “family” vacation in Destin with my mom, brother, sister-in-law, 2 nieces, and a nephew. I’m not triggered by the pictures of us on vacation so much as I am by what was going on behind the scenes.

See, poor Jerry Lee couldn’t come with us because he had to go on a “business trip” to Tennessee. That was the trip where his counselor and I both coached him on the arduous drive that he was unsure he was going to be able to make. We cheered him on and gave him all the atta-boys his little heart could handle. And then while the kids and I were in Destin Jerry Lee drove to Tennessee and met up with Harley. We’d been in Virginia one year exactly.

I look at those pictures and I see me and my kids enjoying our vacation, having a great time, with absolutely no idea what was ahead of us. We were carefree and happy. Approximately two weeks later I would find out my husband was a lying, cheating shit eating chimp, and about two weeks after that his kids would find out that the family they grew up with was no longer. In a 10 minute come-to-Jesus confessional they both found out not only had their father been spending his weekends hanging out with his new girlfriend in Kentucky but also his entire family knew about it and condoned it. His mother organized it and went on a date with them. It was to a funeral but still…

While the kids and I were on vacation, thinking that life was going on as normal, my husband was busy stabbing me in the back. I look at those pictures now and I think, “Oh my God! You were completely clueless.” And it makes me kind of sad.

Of course, this was also the trip where I spotted the Walmart purchase in Whoreville, otherwise known as Winchester, Kentucky. Looking back on it it’s quite insulting how stupid he thought I was. “D’oh, I gave my debit card to my mom so she could get a new tire for her minivan. That’s why that’s on there. I don’t know why it says Whoreville. She bought it in Lexington.”

Actually looking back it’s kind of insulting how stupid I allowed myself to be. In my defense I thought he was a whole lot smarter than that. Who in their right mind moves their family across the country, buys a brand new house, fills it with brand new furniture, buys their wife a brand new car, and agrees to install a brand new in-ground pool in the backyard which takes almost all of your stock options and requires a loan, and then turns around and cheats with the same damn whore you cheated with 2 years prior? Even more stupid than that, who in the hell buys the whore something from Walmart and uses their damn debit card when they know damn well that the other spouse can see the bank transactions and is checking on a regular basis because they’re on vacation with your kids? I do remember saying to myself, “He can’t be that stupid. He’s a smart man.” Not smart enough apparently.

God, he was such a shit. I remember being in Florida and him telling me the trip lasted longer than he expected. Then he told me that since he was already in Tennessee he was going to “try” to drive and see his mom. Would I be okay with that?

Would I be okay with him seeing his mom? Absolutely. I said as much. Something along the lines of, “She’s your mom. Of course I don’t have a problem with it. How could I say no to that?” Would I be okay with him fucking his cousin? No. I had no idea that to him they were one and the same. Okay with him continuing to slough off on our family vacation? Well then I must be okay with him fucking his cousin. And going to a goddamn family reunion that was set up knowing his wife and kids weren’t going to be there. It was probably their fucking engagement party knowing those inbred motherfuckers.

I don’t remember what set me off. All I remember is thinking that if he could spend money freely on his “mother” then I was no longer going to be keeping the purse strings closed for my kids. I took Rock Star on a very nice shopping spree. All the clothes she wanted. A Coach purse. Another Coach purse for me… after I had already bought a Kate Spade purse and wallet because the Coach purse I liked was a little too expensive. Oh you better believe I went back there a day or two later and bought the one I wanted. It was an outlet mall; it wasn’t that expensive. I bought for Picasso as well, but he had no interest in coming along.

I guess that seeing these memories pop up so close to my return trip to Utah has hit me in some way. I don’t want him back and while I freely admit I miss the lifestyle I used to have I can’t envision still being with him. The thought of being married to him and living life with him makes my skin crawl. I am 100% happier in this new life. Yet I look at those pictures and I can’t help but know that I thought I was happy and I was definitely a lot more innocent. I had no idea the hell that was about to be unleashed. I had no idea the changes and the hardships that were about to befall me. I was a sheltered, pampered stay at home mom with no financial worries and plenty of (maybe too much) time on my hands. Those pictures represent me before life kicked me in the throat. They’re a reminder of my old life, a life where I didn’t struggle and where I thought things were okay, maybe even mostly good. Those pictures are me and my kids before our lives were imploded and we were forced to change everything.

It’s not a bad life anymore. I’m not even sure I’m sad about it. It’s more like seeing a picture of a loved one shortly before they die. You look at that picture and you think to yourself, “I had no idea at the time that this would be the last time I saw them.” That’s what those pictures do to me. I look at the happy faces, the smiles, and I think, “That’s the last time my life was normal.” Approximately two weeks later I would join the ranks of women whose husbands had cheated on them and were planning on leaving for the other woman. I went from being a stay at home mom to being a working mom. I went from being a great mom to just being a mom. I went from living in my own home to living in my mom’s house. I went from no financial worries to worrying about money constantly. I went from being married for 20 years to being single. I went from living in Virginia to moving back to Indiana. I went from having furniture and dishes and towels to getting rid of probably 95% of everything I’d ever owned. Absolutely everything changed. Those pictures are the last pictures taken of me before I died, along with my old life.

Oh, don’t worry. Like the Phoenix I rose from the ashes. Maybe I’m even better than I was before. All that forged in fire shit. Not waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain. I did that. I’m still standing. But that woman in those pictures? She’s gone forever.

Back In Time

We got back from Utah last Sunday. Rock Star, her boyfriend, Picasso, the mobster, and I all went out for 10 glorious days. We went horseback riding, rafting, and hiking. We visited some of our favorite places and visited some new ones. The mobster finally got to see the Great Salt Lake and if asked, he would tell you, it smells to high heaven. We probably wouldn’t have gone if not for the fact we went horseback riding on Antelope Island and Antelope Island is in the middle of the Great Salt Lake. It was a great time and yet… I felt myself overcome with the feelz more than a few times.

I don’t know why. It’s not as if I haven’t been back since DDay and everything that happened. Then again, our other two trips were pretty quick and were for a specific purpose. First trip back was for Rock Star’s college visit. It was a long weekend and we weren’t even back in our area. We flew into Vegas and spent the entire time about 4 1/2 hours away from our town. Our second trip back was for our friend’s son’s wedding. We flew out Friday morning and flew back home Sunday afternoon. It was the mobster’s first trip to Utah and we tried to cram as much as possible into the time we were there, but the wedding itself took up almost a full day. Again, there was a purpose for the trip.

This time we were there to relax, reconnect with friends, and do all the things we used to do but could no longer because we don’t live there. There were a few bumps in the road but overall it was a great trip. I missed seeing some people but a week really isn’t long enough to see everyone, do everything, and eat all the food you’ve missed. You think it will be, but isn’t.

I didn’t spend my whole trip bemoaning the loss of my old life but there were times I did get hit with jolts of nostalgia. They were mostly tiny triggers but I could feel them some days. I would have the question, “Why was I being triggered?” but the answer to that is in the first sentence of this paragraph. I was constantly being reminded of my old life, the one that is gone, obliterated. I will never have it again.

So many things have changed out there and it was super frustrating. I kept feeling like I should know where I was going, especially considering the entire city is set up on a grid, but I kept getting so turned around. It’s not just that there are new stores and restaurants. They have new roads and highways. The Mountain View Corridor had just opened a year before we left, or rather, parts of the Mountain View Corridor had just opened. I remember it ran much further west than it did east. Now it connects to the freeways. 

I also remember driving along the opened parts, talking to myself or envisioning what I would say to Jerry Lee, Tammy Faye, or Jezebel, when shit first started going down. I remember screaming and crying after Tammy Faye had commented on how pretty Harley was in one of her profile pictures. I wondered at the time how on earth she could possibly compliment my husband’s mistress, knowing we were together still. It hurt me to the core that she could spend so much time telling her how pretty she was every two weeks when she changed her profile picture, but she couldn’t be bothered to tell me even once.

That new-to-me, finally completed corridor brings up a lot of memories, and not all of them are good.

The highway with the funny name (Bangerter) that ran from one end of the Salt Lake Valley to the other and which was dotted first with stoplights at the major streets, and then with weird left turn interchanges has been changed to overpasses with exit ramps where most of the lights used to be. There is still endless amounts of construction going on.

I would get on a freeway and think I would know where I was and then pass a store I recognized and realize I wasn’t where I thought I was. That, or the freeway was taking me in circles and I didn’t realize it before. Or perhaps I forgot.

There was the moment at Lagoon when we were standing in a massive line to buy tickets, only to turn around and stand in another line to enter the park. I looked over at the kiosks where the season pass holders could enter and recalled all the seasons we had summer passes. We’d go up for a few hours sometimes because it didn’t matter if we rode everything or not. We’d be back later that week, or maybe the next week.

I did laugh about the time I lost Rock Star and her best friend. They had gone off to ride the roller coaster and we somehow got separated. I came up with the genius idea to crumble up Doritos so I could spell out a message for them: Stay here! I came back twice to find the crumbs were scattered all over and thought birds had pecked at the pieces and helped themselves to a tasty treat. I found out much later that those two rotten girls had seen the message and just wiped the Doritos away so that they could keep riding the rides without interruption.

As our week progressed I pointed out places that meant something to us. Here’s Scheel’s, a huge sporting goods store with an aquarium that goes around the store and a giant ferris wheel in the middle of the store. That’s the aquarium I took the kids to; they just moved from Sandy to Draper as we were leaving. They’ve got penguins and an anaconda. Lots of cool displays and set ups. Here’s where we lived. That’s the grocery store I ran to when I was out of something. There’s Jordan Landing. Look at how much it’s changed! They’ve got a Cafe Rio and a Waffle Love now. That’s the Walmart where I grocery shopped. There’s my kids’ dentist office. This is where my kids’ pediatrician was. That’s where I used to get my hair done until my stylist started doing hair out of her house. Hey, where’s Lani’s Snow Cones? They used to be right here, in the parking lot across the street from my former vet’s office. And that’s the Real soccer stadium. Huge controversy when they built that despite the voters saying, “No!” Oh, and there’s the ER where I spent many a days with my kids. And here are the malls we went to. There’s the Trax station; that was just built about a year before we left. We used to take it downtown so we didn’t have to worry about parking. We even ended up stopping in Park City and going right by one of the gyms where Rock Star competed every February once she reached Optionals. And although we didn’t spend a lot of time hanging out downtown going back there and seeing the outdoor shopping malls, especially the one that opened shortly before we left, was difficult. This all used to be at our fingertips. There was so much and we gave it all up to move to Harrisonburg, VA where they didn’t even have an Olive Garden and the food court at their mall consisted of one Chinese place and an ice cream shop. There were so many memories that accompanied this trip.

The hardest part though was hearing my friend tell the mobster stories about me and who I used to be. It wasn’t a bad thing. She was being very complimentary. More of a, “Oh my gosh! Let me tell you how amazing Sam was!” 

Let me preface this by saying I don’t spend a lot of time talking to people in my day to day life about what my life used to be like. I’m pretty open about what happened to me as far as my husband cheating on me with his cousin, leaving Virginia without a word to me or the kids, and abandoning his children, but I don’t talk about what my life used to be like. I don’t go on and on about my former life as a stay at home mom, or a PTA president, or all the places I took the kids, or the things that we used to do. I do occasionally talk about missing my pool, but aside from that I don’t talk about the big house I used to live in or the shopping sprees I used to be able to go on. I don’t talk about my walk in closet or my multiple bathrooms or how I decorated the house because I had nothing else to do. The mobster and I talk about that part very little because it doesn’t matter anymore. It used to be. It’s not anymore. And to be clear it’s not as if that’s all my friend wanted to talk about but when telling the stories of our girls growing up together you end up talking about that previous life because that was the way things used to be.

My friend works full time. Always has. Our girls were the same age and best friends. I frequently took her daughter to Lagoon and the water park and hiking and the roller skating rink and all the other places we would go in the summer. Her daughter was the only kid I allowed to spend the night on a school night and vice versa. On late start days in middle school, if she slept over, I’d take them both to Kneaders for breakfast. The mobster was regaled with stories of how I did everything with and for my kids. I was constantly running them from one activity to another. I took them places constantly. I was always busy and always doing things with them.

My friend went on to tell the mobster how her daughter would come home and tell her, “She’s the best mom!” Yeah, that was me. I was the best mom, was being the important part of that sentence. Now I’m the barely-ok-sometimes-adequate mom.

The mobster was also treated to stories about how I was Ms. PTA President. I knew everybody. I did everything. I was so involved up at the school. As my friend put it, “Sam worked her ass off up at that school!” Yes, I did put in quite a bit of effort for Teacher Appreciation. I wanted my teachers to feel appreciated and loved. I enjoyed doing it. Everyone knew me. Everyone raved about me. Everyone loved me. I had a purpose. Today? I couldn’t tell you the names of Picasso’s teachers the last four years, with the exception of his biology teacher. That’s only because it was the same damn teacher I had for biology back in 1983.

Don’t get me wrong. This new life is not the path I thought I was going to take; it’s not the life I thought I was going to live. But it’s a good life. Most days I enjoy it and I’m happy. I met the love of my life. I have a job finally that will actually support me. I just moved into my new office. I didn’t sacrifice my kids for this new life and my happiness. Despite both of them struggling with mental health issues they are doing well. Rock Star is entering her senior year and moving in with the boyfriend. I have high hopes Picasso will return to work soon. I have accepted that the old life is gone. But damn- all of those memories, even if what my friend was doing was bragging on me and lifting me up, they still hurt. It was another realization that that life was over. Who I was back then is nothing like who I am now. I went from PTA mom who knew all the teachers to the mom whose son barely graduated high school. I went from being the mom who kept my kids busy five days out of seven (I rarely took them places on the weekends) to the mom that can literally stay in her pajamas all weekend long. I went from having good, close friends that I hung out with, went to lunch with, went on trips with, to having mostly acquaintances. I am not the same person I was and I don’t necessarily think it’s a positive change.

I think my kids got cheated out of a great mom. I had to go back to work and I had to work a lot in the beginning- 6 and 7 days a week in the beginning, crazy hours, very little sleep. Even now I don’t have time to myself like I once did and they suffer because of it. Instead of running everywhere with them and trying to find things they might like I would rather hang out at home and chill.

Going back there brought back how much Jerry Lee took from us, especially how much he took from Rock Star and Picasso.

It’s a bit overdramatic to proclaim that I will never forgive him for what he did; however, out of all of the things that he’s done moving us out of Utah and then ditching us for Harley is definitely one of his all time lows. I truly don’t think I’ll ever forgive him for that.

Ironically, my daughter’s boyfriend fell in love with Utah the moment he landed. They are legitimately looking into moving there after she graduates. It’s not only because of the boyfriend. 

Rock Star recalls her childhood as being amazing (and it was). Her friend told her she really appreciates how I didn’t let them stay on their screens all the time and took them places, which I found a little funny. I never restricted TV or phones. I just found things to do with them and took them. Plus, I didn’t have a smart phone myself for most of their early childhood. They didn’t have phones either until they were 5th or 6th grade so it wasn’t even me keeping them off of them. Rock Star envisions raising her children the same way, keeping them off of their phones and making sure they have plenty of adventures outdoors. The problem is my kids had that life because I didn’t work. I’m about 99% sure we would not have had season passes to the amusement park if I had to take them on the weekends throughout the summer. The lines are horrible. I hate crowds. I wouldn’t have done it. Our weekends probably wouldn’t have been jam packed with activities because I would have been tired after working all week. She’s comparing what I did for her and her brother as a stay at home mom to her being a working mom. I hope she’s better at balancing the two than I am. But she also talks about how everything feels so much safer out there. She wants to feel comfortable letting her kids ride their bikes and wander around their neighborhood.

If going back to Utah is what she really wants then I hope she gets the chance to do that. I know Picasso would return in a heartbeat as well. The mobster loved it out there and was ready to move, too, but he needs to be practical. His kids are all in the eastern part of the United States- West Virginia, Virginia and New Hampshire. As for me? I would love to return but there’s no way I could ever afford it. Thanks to the smartest man you’ll ever meet we sold our house for $20,000 less than what we purchased it for 8 years prior in order to make this cross country move for his “dream job”. Seven years later it’s going for around double what we sold it for. His genius continues. Because he let our house go into foreclosure neither of us has any money for a down payment, not that we would have made much of a profit seeing as how our mortgage was less than a year old when Jerry Lee took up with his cousin again.  Average homes in average subdivisions are going for $500,000 or more out there. I can’t afford a $200,000 home, much less a $500,000 home. You need a $100,000 down payment and your mortgage is still over $2000 a month. Unfortunately, it looks like I’m stuck here because returning to Utah permanently is out of the question for me. Instead, I’ll have to be content going back every few years and trying to relearn my way around the valley. Grrr!

Here’s to my next trip and fewer triggers.