New Year, New Venture

Greetings, salutations and Happy New Year to you all! This year, one of my goals/resolutions is to value myself more and to that end, I have started a Patreon for those who want to support me and my personal writing efforts. If you’ve followed my blog, I’m migrating to this platform for blogging, and if not, please join me.

My Patreon blog will have real talk, real life situations and honest discussion, with a touch of humor and a tinge of sarcasm at times.

I don’t intend to be on this platform as much, if at all. I want to move my blog to a place where I can hopefully make a bit of money for my writing.

Hope to see you there!

https://www.patreon.com/rustbeltrants

Just One Thing I Need

noel mugIt is bittersweet to wrap presents for your kid the first Christmas where they no longer believe in Santa. But I got the few things I selected for him done this morning, after he left for his dad’s. He’ll be back late in the evening on Christmas Eve, after the big family celebration his dad’s family has each year. I kind of miss those gatherings. They have a huge family and there was tons of laughter, food, joy, funny stories, and then the excitement of each person there getting a present and all of us watching and ooing and aahing while they open it.

We had big family celebrations like that at my grandmother’s on Christmas Eve growing up and when she died, it left a hole. We all missed those gatherings, but everyone was so spread out and then folks started dying such that it became impossible for there to be a single place everyone would agree to gather. Going to my ex’s family celebration was like bringing back that old tradition. I’m glad it’s something my kid has access to, and I hope he has fond memories when he grows up like I do of going to my grandma’s.

We have started a tradition in recent years of joining friends at their house for their Christmas party, and it’s a lot of fun. Everyone is nice to my kid even if he’s the only kid there (sometimes there are several kids, sometimes not) and there’s plenty to eat, lots of old friends, and a mix of ages and people each year such that there’s always someone new to talk to. People asked about my leg, we had some conversations about aging and life, and shared in our own merriment. I let the kid stay up way too late and everyone had a nice time.

But I teared up wrapping presents this morning, thinking about how we used to go to Macy’s right after Thanksgiving each year with his letter for Santa and put it in the big red mailbox that goes to the North Pole. I’m glad I did it every year, and I got pictures at the mailbox as often as I could when we went there. I knew it would be for a very limited time. Last year, his heart wasn’t really in it, and his letter was half-assed at best. I knew he knew. He finally told his Dad just a couple days before Christmas that he knew, and that was that. The Santa stuff was already procured so he still got a ton of stuff.

On the positive side, with no Santa, it’s way cheaper, as I no longer have to buy two sets of presents, one from Santa and one from me. Since I got divorced that cost doubled for both me and my ex as we both had to buy Santa presents each year, so this is a savings. But there are many fewer presents. The last couple of years, I was fortunate to have a couple of secret Santa sources helping me continue the Santa lore since I couldn’t afford the complete shebang after losing my full-time job. Now that it’s just me and there’s no Santa, I feel like he’ll think he didn’t get enough gifts.

I know, there’s no such thing as “enough” gifts, and this is just my own baggage from growing up poor.

I was one of the poorest kids in my school, and from the first day of kindergarten, I became best friends with a girl who turned out to be one of the richest in school. Kids truly don’t know or understand class differences unless you point them out. She once came over and found my mom cleaning out the planters on the porch and she asked why we didn’t have our cleaning person do that, because that’s who did it at her house. My mom just laughed. She once asked my mom how come she didn’t display her wedding china. My parents didn’t even have a wedding, they just went to the courthouse and got married, right before my sister came.

Christmas was the toughest time to be her friend. We would call each other late on Christmas morning and she would run down the list of amazing, wonderful, dazzling gifts she got each year. I remember when she got diamond pendant necklace, real gold earrings, a trampoline, an Atari gaming system (yes, I’m old), a pool table, cashmere and angora sweaters, and so much more. I was so jealous of everything she got, and then she’d ask what I got and I’d be like well I got a new hairbrush and an orange, or I got a knockoff portable radio with headphones that was like the Walkman’s ugly stepchild that you could buy at Big Lots, and a pair of gloves that were too big. She got a pet rabbit and I got a Carhartt jacket from my mom’s boyfriend, who was big into hunting and fishing. It was hard being her friend sometimes. And was a lesson that I didn’t learn for a long time about how you can be grateful for what you receive until you compare it to other people’s lives. I mean, I enjoyed the hell out of the Simon game I got one year, and Boggle was endless fun, but then when you friend has an Atari and a trampoline, you feel less than. It took me a long time to learn those lessons, and I imagine it will take my son a long time as well.

Still, I am grateful to be alive, to share another holiday with him, and for the love surrounding me and my kid in our lives. I shall focus on love this year, as that’s what’s really important.

 

It’s Alright

irish coffee

Irish coffee. Lots of whipped cream.

Highlights of a Thanksgiving holiday:

 

My sister and I in the kitchen, cutting dough for homemade noodles, with my 10 year old son hanging out, and all of us singing along to Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” and we all knew all the words.

Playing Song Quiz with everyone in the fam. I won almost every game, no matter the decade (scores across the board were MUCH lower past the ’90s, but I still won).

A few taped episodes of Jeopardy, a family tradition. My sister always adds little insights about her one appearance on the show when we watch together.

Going to the movies with my boo. It’s physically very difficult for me to get anywhere right now because the boot I’m supposed to wear compresses the skin around my scar and it’s SUPER painful, but the reclining seats in the theater made up for it.

There were cheesy potatoes (aka funeral potatoes, depending on where you’re from), and I didn’t have to make them.

We started the meal in our usual family tradition, which is, a couple hours before before the meal was ready, everyone eats a tiny sliver of pie. This way, there’s never “no room for pie” after you’re full. Yes, we are geniuses, we’ve been doing this for a very long time.

More chapters of Harry Potter got read aloud – my sister even took a turn – and we are now almost onto the 5th book.

Stretch pants.

Memories and stories were shared. Tears were shed and hot flashes and insomnia weren’t just my problem here, for a change. I hit the official halfway-to-menopause milestone. Some amusing letters were read, which may be something I turn into a theater piece. For a couple of days, I didn’t worry about the constant chasing of work/money/inability to pay bills, couldn’t do anything about what people had to eat and drink since I’m still hobbled, and I let other people do things. My son kept me constantly exasperated and then laughing and then exasperated again. The dog provided much-needed emotional support. And I tried hard to let go of the things I can’t control. I didn’t even obsess about my article that was supposed to run, and didn’t, and now may not as it was Thanksgiving-related. Nothing I can do about it, so I released it from my thoughts.

We continue to grieve for my niece. Nothing will ever be ok about it, but I let my sister set every single tone and had her dictate every single activity and the pace and flow of the couple of days she was here. She said absolutely no Christmas music, ZERO, and I accommodated that, even fast forwarding through some segments of the Macy’s parade. When she wanted to talk about her daughter, we all did, and shared some poignant memories and funny stories, and lamented that her short journey in life abruptly halted her ability to make and share in more stories and memories. My mom tried really hard to take part in everything, but she is in so much pain from her arthritis, and tires very easily. It’s hard to see her aging with such difficulting, which I think was scary and upsetting for my sister, since she doesn’t see her all the time like I do. She’s angry with her for not having tried harder somehow to fight deterioration with exercise and weight lifting when she was younger and better able, yet I know and understand my mom’s journey a bit more thoroughly.

I didn’t correct her or debate about it. We didn’t argue at all, in fact. About anything. However someone wanted to do things, that’s how we did them. We slept in, and had our meal much later than we planned, and didn’t do everything we wanted because there just wasn’t enough time, and between my leg and her bone-crushing fatigue – something she’s been carrying a long time, but which increased exponentially since her child died – we just didn’t feel like doing that much. We just existed, all together, like we all wish we could do more regularly.

I’m grateful for the moments of screaming laughter, for our very full bellies, for my son’s hyper nature being an endless distraction, for my fiance’s vaulting into even higher overdrive than his usual helpful self, taking my mom home when it was “late” so she wouldn’t have to drive, as she was way too tired to be safe on the road, doing endless dishes, getting laundry done, and generally being an all-around fucking awesome dude.

cardinal

Hi.

They say when a cardinal visits, it’s a lost loved one stopping by. This guy stopped by the day my sister arrived, and I like to think it was my niece, somehow trying to tell us that if she couldn’t be a part of our time together, to please try to make it good.

I hope I did it right.

 

Freedom Tastes Of Reality

The down swing is always followed by some kind of upswing, and there is good news to report. But first, I must thank those of you who took time to comment or write me and encourage me to keep writing this blog. Sometimes I feel like I am writing into a void, and it’s nice to know that’s not the case. Especially the people who live in other countries, because I’m totally going to meet each of you for a drink or tea someday when I get a lifetime supply of money and Xanax and can travel the world like I’ve always imagined. xoxo

 

1. The sun is shining, it is unseasonably warm, and I GOT OUTSIDE. Though it was to go to the doctor, these things converging was very, very nice.

 

2. I got my stitches removed, which was quite painful, but now that I’m experienced in these matters I took a couple of Advil before I went and it wasn’t nearly as bad as the last time.

3. I am (sort of) walking! He wants me to wear my walking boot, and only move if/as it feels ok/as tolerated, using the walker, crutch or cane as needed as I return to partial weight bearing, but said if it feels ok, I am all right to walk around that way, in the boot for the next two weeks.

4. AFTER THAT, I CAN NOT ONLY TAKE IT OFF, I CAN DRIIIIIIIIIVEE!!!!!!!!!1111!!11!1 He also said in two weeks I can return to weight lifting and strength training on the leg.

5. EVEN BETTER, STARTING TODAY I CAN SHOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWEEEEEEERRRRRRRR which will be happening post haste.

6. It’s pie week! I rarely indulge in pie, it feels too decadent to consume on a regular basis, but this week, pie will be even more special because a) my sister is flying in, and she will make the pies and b) it will be the only homemade thing on my table, since I can’t cook this year. Speaking of which…

7. I *finally* got another personal essay accepted, and it’s going to run this week!!!!!!! I don’t promote all my clips here, but if you haven’t read my personal writings that have been published, not just blathered on about here on the blog, I keep that page of my website pretty up to date: https://ninawritenow.com/personal-writing-clips/.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Saw My Reflection And Cried

I’m considering giving up this blog, though at this point it’s mostly my only form of therapy. I write to share my thoughts and feelings, and enjoy sharing them with others. Also to document what’s going on in my life. I like to imagine that one day my son will want to read back over these to see what was going on.

But it’s not productive, doesn’t make me any money, and there’s very little engagement here. I am less and less driven to post because while I have a few dedicated readers, the whole thing seems rather masturbatory and pointless. Or maybe that’s just my mood.

Being stuck at home again with no easy way to move around, cook food or take care of my home is very depressing and frustrating. I can’t shower or take a bath. My leg hurts most of the time and I have very little energy as I’m sleeping like shit.

To compound matters, this month there’s been a huge decline in work. I had a lot of major projects over the last three or four months and came off public assistance as a result. But this month I’ve barely made enough to buy groceries and pay a few bills, having to dip into my tax savings account to break even. If I have another month like this in December, I’ll have to reapply.

I’ve been hustling really hard. Checking back in with clients, applying for every fucking job under the sun I could have a prayer of doing. Secretarial work, data entry, I even applied to be the front desk receptionist at a senior living facility. But nobody calls me for any of these jobs. This is just how it is.  More than two and a half years and 261 job applications since I had a full-time job, I’m now pretty much unemployable. And I can’t walk or drive, and am going to have another surgery in March that will leave me immobile yet again, so I’m not exactly an attractive candidate for any in-person jobs.

This time of year I always get a little bummed out but not being able to even get the little bit of light through the clouds here, no fresh air, no autonomy, no money and no prospects, it’s pretty bleak. The family’s loss of my niece has punctuated everything, and I’m feeling frustrated, angry, worthless and impatient.

My son is also going through a weird phase where he wants everything that comes out of his mouth to happen INSTANTLY. He’s extremely impatient, rude and demanding, and his requests are constant. We’ve been working our way through reading the Harry Potter books aloud for some time now, but it was slow going this summer when he had other priorities. Now he’s resumed interest in them, and insists I read them every spare minute. My voice is not up for the task, having not interacted or talked with people to any great length for more than a couple of years now, so it’s rough going. I can’t do anything useful, can’t cook food and am stuck in my fucking chair, endlessly reading these books, constantly looking for work, watching the trees become bare and realizing how much of this year I’ve missed. My life has been forever changed by this stupid fucking leg break in March, by the loss of full-time work, and my body has completely betrayed me and devolved into a fat, soft mess as I near the halfway point of being officially in menopause. I’m angry as hell about all of it.

This Could Be The Last Time

nov 10 2019The vibrant, beautiful part of fall is pretty much over. The leaves form a thick blanket on the ground in the woods behind my apartment, and the trees are increasingly barren. Those with leaves left look dry and tired, which is how I feel most days.

The recent losses of my niece and my son’s grandfather (my ex father-in-law, with whom I was not really ever close, but it’s still a loss) somehow heighten the feelings of loss I see when I look at the trees. It’s all foretelling the winter that’s soon to come.

I mean that literally, of course. Tuesday we are set to be plunged into unseasonably cold weather, with lows in the teens and an expected dumping of snow. I will also be having a 2nd surgery on my leg/ankle Tuesday – this will be two of an expected three before I can truly begin healing, and eventually understand what the rest of my life is going to look like as a result of the catastrophic break that happened in March of this year.

I am walking now, though it doesn’t look smooth or pretty, because I am still in considerable pain. It is hoped that the removal of the two screws that are digging into my tendon, tearing a hole in it, and possibly beginning to tear it completely apart, will finally bring some relief.

But I am terrified and not looking forward to this.

Had I known before I broke my leg in March that those last few days before were the last I would have in the life as I knew it, I would have done everything I could have to live every moment as fully as was possible. Because of the pain I’m in, I’m limited in my ability to do that now, but am keenly aware that as the skies grow heavy and gray and the air turns dry and crisp, the snowstorm that’s coming will also bring the return of my imprisonment in my home. I will be trapped once again, unable to walk, easily feed myself, bathe, or drive. Stuck in my chair, with nothing to do but watch TV, read books, surf the internet, and do a little writing work, depending on how much pain I’m in or how many meds I have to take. I’m so angry and upset that I have to go through this, and though I’m angry with my surgeon for not listening to me these last few months, ultimately I am most angry at myself, as it’s my fault I broke my leg.

We went grocery shopping today for frozen things that can be easily heated up. My partner is not much for cooking, and we need easy foods. He got my my boot back out of storage, which I will have to wear home from the hospital. All my conversation keeps coming back to the impending surgery. How I will be able to go to the bathroom, since we got rid of the toilet cover with rails. How my son has to go to the bus stop alone, and will have to use keys to get in since I won’t be able to get up and let him in. I’ve tried to prep him, and he knows, but it’s been hard on him. He can’t play with me like he used to, and is impatient about my healing and now there is another step back, with a bigger step back to follow in March, when I get the large piece of hardware removed from the outside of my leg. The other night he said he’d probably be in high school before I’m as better as I’m going to be (he’s 10) and I got so upset I started crying. He felt bad and apologized and tried to comfort me. I am a wreck.

I am assuming/hoping they will give me another walker, as I gave mine away and will not be able to navigate around very well with crutches – I am too clumsy (hence the broken leg). I will walk out of here Tuesday morning but when we we return, I will have to pull myself up the snow and ice-covered stairs by my hands, scoot across the filthy foyer, scoot down the stairs and pull myself up to standing, and use my walker to get back inside. Sweating, freezing, wet from the cold. I have done this before, and I will do it again. I’ve been strength training twice a week for two months now, so hopefully it will be a little easier, but I doubt it. There’s really nothing easy about what I’m getting ready to have done. I’m grateful to have such a wonderful partner. He is taking time off work to take care of me this week, and I know he’ll do everything he can to make me comfortable.

I’m also of course worried I won’t wake up, which is always a concern with surgery. This will be I believe my 12th one, and that’s a lot of times to be cut open.

I took the dog out in the waning light this afternoon, and we smelled all the smells, and walked all around and saw everything there was to see. I touched things – trees, grass, crunchy leaves.

I will miss this.

 

River Of My Tears

halloween 2019October was a tumultuous month, with a lot of highs and some very low lows. My niece died, which I do not want to talk about, and my son’s paternal grandfather also died. Friends of mine are losing people they are very close to as well. The Grim Reaper comes to visit, whether he is invited or not, and takes what he takes.

I’m reminded again the dichotomy of life, the push and pull, birth and death, joy and sorrow, giving and taking away. I gained new work and new clients this month, and lost people and things that were important. I also lost my Medicare coverage yesterday, so have had to make other arrangements for insurance, which of course is expensive.

Everything is more expensive. I am determined to continue to make more and more money until I am in a more comfortable place financially. Though my earnings are up 88% over last year’s, when you’re starting at an extremely low number, this doesn’t add up to much of a gain. Still, it is an upward trend and I will chase and push that trend ever forward.

Yesterday evening brought the first snow as well – a few flakes in the air, blown by strong winds, that did not stay – at least where I live. I am ready for this part. Peri-menopause makes me uncomfortably hot several times a day, and if it weren’t for the furnace kicking on, I’d probably still have the window open today, even though it’s only 33 degrees. I’m turning inward and will decline most social invitations. I just want to stay home, cook, and cozy up with my three boys – my partner, my son and my dog.

Finally, after 7 months of struggle in getting someone to listen to me, getting a 2nd opinion so that I could be vindicated as to the source of my pain, I am having a second surgery on my leg and ankle on 11/12, to remove two of the screws that are digging into one of my tendons. I had an extremely tearful conversation with my surgeon the other day, explaining the path to getting here and how neither he nor anyone on his team has listened to me about what’s been wrong all this time. I asked him to go home and please think about how important it is to listen to patients, especially women, whose pain is often pushed aside, and to talk to his team about this aspect of patient care, which is almost as important as being good at getting all the broken parts back together.

I am not looking forward to the pain and regression. I will once again be completely unable to walk for at least two weeks, then there will be another journey back to where I am now, with partial weight bearing, and maybe physical therapy, if it is covered under my new insurance (if it isn’t, I’ll skip it and do it at home. I know what to do.). I don’t know when I will be able to walk or drive again, and it’s upsetting and scary to go backwards, but I have to keep going back to this point in order to reach my eventual destination, where I can begin the final process of healing as best I can from this break.

This is only step 2. I will once again have to go way back to this place again next March, where they will again open up my leg and take out the huge pieces of remaining metal hardware. I anticipate that will be a longer, more careful return to walking.

My hope is that by this date next year, I am as healed as I’m going to be, and am able to walk normally again, with only a little pain – pain that’s likely to stay with me forever, a constant reminder of my carelessness with my body, and a permanent punishment for same.

My sister is coming in for Thanksgiving this year, which is good. I cannot cook, but we will feast, and be grateful for everything that we have, and wish that others who are no longer here were able to share it with us.

My Back Turned Towards The Sun

It has been a challenging few days. We have had a death in the family – my niece has died, and I don’t really want to blog about it. It was a busy weekend, and we were in the middle of watching the movie Big on Saturday when we got the news, which I never got around to seeing when it first came out. A cheerful comedy movie is a weird one to get bad news in the middle of, but that’s the way life dishes things out. It doesn’t happen logically.

dog ice cream

Dog ice cream. Who knew?

Last weekend also marked Indigo the dog’s “birthday.” It was a year ago that we got him. I found him after a pretty exhaustive search for a dog that would fit the size and breed restrictions in my apartment, but wasn’t a small, yippy brat, which is not really my type of dog. Indigo has been a great dog, and while we don’t really know how old he is, and it’s probably more than the 7 years we deemed him to have at his birthday celebration, we’ll take the best care of him we can until whenever his days are over. That’s really all you can do for family, and for people you care about, isn’t it? Take care of each other until your days are over.

 

I’ve had a lot of writing work to do for clients, and have been trying to get a little done here and there for the past week. I turned in some work today that several errors, which is not my usual, and the client actually asked if everything was ok with me since it was out of character. I take pride in my work, and asked her to please pause on reviewing until I had a chance to go over everything again, and that I would re-send. I did explain there were some personal things going on and said what happened. She emailed me back not to worry about it at all, my work is always exemplary and she would make any edits. I do like good, caring clients that understand you aren’t an automaton.

My health insurance is ending so there’s been a scramble to find a suitable replacement. With a screw that urgently needs removed from my ankle and more metal that has to come out of it in a few more months, not having insurance isn’t an option. The ACA has gone up a lot for me; I don’t qualify for as much in subsidy as I used to (I know, that’s the point) so my partner and I signed an affidavit that we are indeed in a domestic partnership, provided proof that we live together, and I’m going to be covered under his insurance starting next month.

It would probably be easier to just go get married, but we are both somewhat romantic, and would like to have even some kind of small wedding with our close friends and select family. But weddings are very expensive, even small ones, and so it continues to be on hold, for now.

Today D’s dad called and asked if I would pick the kid up from school, even though it’s his custody week. Seems D’s grandfather is near death, and my ex wasn’t sure if it was going to be today or while he was there or if they could stabilize him or what. That’s kind of how me and the ex started. We had only been married a few months and had been out celebrating our joint birthdays, and came home to a voice mail (the old days) that his father had had a near-fatal heart attack and we had to get down to his hometown ASAP. It was also the end of January, which is some of the worst weather in Northeast Ohio and we were in the middle of an ice storm. Just to make things more fun, we were moving the next day. Part of why we went out for dinner that night was everything was packed up, as the movers were coming in the morning. After a long argument about why I couldn’t go with him, he went home and I handled the move the next early morning, with the lone friend who showed up as promised to help. Between her, me, my mom and the movers, we handled the move in some of the worst weather imaginable, while my ex’s dad laid on death’s door 80 minutes away.

They kept him alive, but barely, over the next week. I called in a lot of favors and we got the man life-flighted out of there and up to University Hospitals, where he eventually got better, went home, and lived another 15 years.

As with moving day, life seems to hand us many things to handle at once, which is both good and bad. It feels very unfair to have bad news on top of bad news and then more bad news, but on the other hand, you can get a lot of bad out of the way in one chunk, and return sooner to good news and better times than if it was metered out, punching you down every time you think you’re getting up to walk again. It doesn’t make the beat-down feel any better knowing it’s probably somewhat limited in scope or duration, but as I told my client today, life’s gonna life.

I’m on call to pick up the kid again tomorrow, if needed, and who knows what this week is like. I’m also waiting to get the nod from my sister to travel to Wisconsin and help her with anything she needs help with in regards to my niece’s passing.

tostada

I made this tasty breakfast tostada today. Was full until dinner.

In the meantime, I’m just riding the wave and trying to stay afloat. I have a very bad sore throat. My leg screams most days, and the metal looks like it will pop through my skin sometimes. I did my strength training workout today. I cooked some good food. I made a nice dinner for for my son and my fiance, and the kid and I talked about the book he recommended to me, which I finished this evening. His dad came to pick him up a little bit ago, and it is quiet here now.

I am an instrument to help others this week and for the near future, and that is ok. It was so unusually sunny and bright and beautiful today, late October and just shy of  70 degrees. I sat in the car with the sunroof open drinking an iced coffee this afternoon, waiting for my eye exam appointment time, and let the sun shine down on me, washing over me, hoping it would fill me with the light and strength I need to help others when they need it. It will be dark every day soon, with the sunny days behind us.

 

Roll Across The Skies

sunset october 20 2019Sundays are exchange day with my ex. The kid is always a little rocky and strange, understandably. He moves from one home with one set of rules (or lack thereof), and into another where the dynamic is different, the activities are not created around what he wants to do, the day is usually already mapped out, and involves another adult and a dog, at least.

Today was such a day. My fiance and I picked D up from his dad’s and headed to my mom’s so he could put in a couple of her storm windows. It was just shy of 70 and sunny today, unseasonably warm and beautiful, but not completely unusual for a Cleveland October, which can be one of the most gorgeous months of the year, if things go right. And that’s the way they’ve been going. A dapple of rain here, a chilly but cozy night there, and many sunny, beautiful, crisp days to take in the stunning fall leaves as they change, leaving their wonderful-smelling deadness all over the ground.  I’ve been feeling grateful that this has been such a beautiful fall.

At my mom’s, the kid was disconnected, and my mom really wanted to see and spend time with him, which isn’t always the case, so it was tough to bridge the chasm. We had a nice lunch, as she was feeling good enough to cook, and it was delicious. I was so lucky to grow up with a mom who could spin wonderful meals out of almost nothing. She taught me so much about food and cooking and stretching a dollar to feed a family. I was brought up watching Julia Child and many other cooking shows with her, and though I rejected deep cooking in favor of easy, processed and fast in my early 20s, I came back to it in time. I am an avid home cook and owe it all to her tutelage, me standing next to her on a stepstool as she’d show me how to gently pull the eggs in with a spatula to scramble them, or holding the bowl while she hand-ground beef roast for ground beef because she didn’t trust the grocery store beef, which was “re-ground” and full of fillers that we didn’t want to eat. She’d make hash out of leftovers, made homemade bread and big bowls of homemade yogurt weekly, made homemade spaghetti sauce because the jarred stuff was full of sugar, and taught me the talent of taking what was on hand and making it come together somehow into a meal, even if it was only hard boiled eggs in white sauce over toast. I know mom wanted us to stay longer, but sometimes we can, sometimes we have to keep moving.

When we came home, the kid wanted to reconnect with me, and (sort of ) helped me peel apples for applesauce. I told him how I made it, so he can make it some day himself, like I always do. I discovered my blender is broken, and I couldn’t blend it to make it smooth how he likes it, only chunky as done with the hand-masher. He insisted on having a bowl of it anyway and said it was great, claiming not to care if it was chunky or not, and saying it was great. He wasn’t doing it to be polite. He’s simply changed, and smooth applesauce is no longer important, which is good. He also snapped at me a few times when we were working together, and I calmly docked 5 minutes from his allotted TV time each time he did it, and admonished him about trying to position others as responsible for your actions, mood or both. You’re in charge of your own emotions, or need to get there. It’s nobody’s fault but yours if you get upset with things.

Then he wanted distance again, so I went to Target, where I got a new blender and a couple of other things I needed. I cook a lot, as I said, and I need working appliances. I made dinner haphazardly – my leg was starting to hurt and there’s only so much I can do in one day, and so I rested it while we ate and relaxed.

But then, suddenly, he asked the Alexa what time sunset was. All summer, when he was with me, we would go outside at sunset on clear nights and go to the top of the nearby big hill, with my dog and my partner, and the kid and I would throw a ball back and forth.  He’d run up and down the hill fetching it after bad throws. Geese or deer might show up, or mosquitos, and when it finally got too dark to see and my leg was screaming, we’d go in. We haven’t been out in a while as it’s getting dark so much earlier, and has been cold, and nobody has been in the mood.

Sunset was in 10 minutes, turns out. He begged me to go outside. “Hurry up, Mom, come on!” My back really hurt, and my ankle is killing me, and I got dressed to go out and that’s what we did, because he will not always want me to do this, and so I must press on.

The ball we throw having gone missing, we went over by the tennis courts to see if someone had left one nearby, but there were none. He ran past the smaller kids playing on the playground and to the other tennis courts, and I galumphed along, eventually catching up with him, but there were no tennis balls, which was fine. Then he rolled and rolled down hill after hill, laughing at how dizzy he got, getting up and doing it again. I snapped the picture in this post, wishing I could capture the moment forever, that time window where he wants to be with me, and only me, and thinks I’m the best company.

He did a somersault on the carpet later, after we had come inside and gotten cleaned up, and acted like it was new. I told him he did that in a performance for preschool many years ago, and he insisted it wasn’t true, as he had no memory of it. But I have the video, you see, which he has never seen. I put the DVD in and we watched tiny little D, standing in line waiting for his turn to “tumble” as a toddler, waving and waving at his parents, smiling, coy and making dramatic gestures of being too tired after doing his part in the show, falling down on the ground and then looking at me, checking to see if I laughed.

Which I did. Loudly, as I do. You could hear it on the old video. He loves making me laugh.

The angle of the video was exclusively of him and his part. I was only in the background, which is my role, as his mom. But he kept checking and checking to see if I was there, if I was watching.

I’ll watch as long as he lets me.

Some Time To Get Away

butterflyToday I was reminded that no matter how much I have evolved as a human, no matter how loving and pure my heart, no matter how good my intentions or how much I do to help others, there are some people that just don’t like me, and won’t like me, no matter what I do or say.

There are past clients who don’t like me because I begged and insisted that I please be paid for my work after many long months – four, five months or more, longer than anyone should have to wait to be paid.  There are former employers who don’t like me because I came to work and did my best every single day and they still didn’t like my work because nothing was good enough unless they did it themselves, even after cycling through three writers in five years, it was always the writer’s fault. There are former co-workers who didn’t like me because I couldn’t afford to buy in to $250 worth of gifts for each co-worker on an annual basis, so they cut me out of the club once I brought my concerns to the department head, and went behind my back, accusing me of not liking giving people gifts.

Life is fraught with misunderstanding. In person, online, wires get crossed and intentions are suspect. Even if you talk in person, there are some people who just don’t like you no matter what you say or do, no matter how nice you try to be, or how fair, or how generous.

I’m fortunate in that the majority of my time these days is spent in the company (online or in person) of people who like me. It’s not by accident. I’ve weeded out, avoided, blocked and cut away people who are toxic, mean, who don’t like me or never used to like me and want to now pretend that they do, years after they mistreated me. I’ve cut off good friends who don’t know when to shut up and stop criticizing me or who think they understand positions they know nothing about. I’ve blocked people who aren’t living my life but think they know better than I do what works for me and what doesn’t, and are irritated that I won’t take their advice. I’ve winnowed and sanded the access point to me, my life and my thoughts so it’s mostly people I get along with, who at least in some respects share some of my values, thoughts or feelings, or with whom I have a good bit of overlap in various personal subjects.

But that is not always where things land, and today was one of those days. I bumped heads with someone who didn’t like me no matter what I said, and when I tried to work it out with them in private messages and then on the phone, it didn’t work. They yelled at me, argued with me, interrupted me and talked down to me until I was in tears, begging to stop the conversation, saying I coudn’t take any more. There was no way to win the argument.

I have been in hour-long (and longer) conversations with people like this before, but had forgotten – there is no way to win an argument with someone who has no room for other people’s opinions, values or judgments, and is righteous in their indignation. I had forgotten, but now I remember.

I was also reminded of the falseness of people who you deal with online in various groups, circles and organizations. No one is to be trusted. Nobody really likes you, they’re just sharing space with you to get opportunities, money, access or whatever else benefits them from sharing the same online space with you in a group or organization. They’re like co-workers – they might pretend to be nice to your face, but they talk about you behind your back as soon as you round the corner. I am reminded again that very few people are to be trusted, and have tightened even closer the circle of wagons around my life, to better stave off the arrows thrown my way.

It’s amazing to me that as nice as I try to be, as much good as I try to do in the world, as strongly as I hold positions about helping others, about people being wrong who do horrible things to other people, or animals, or our earth, that no matter how much I try to look out for others or help people find their way, some people will not like the way I do things, and will talk shit about me behind my back. So it has always been, and so it always will be.

And so I am here, with my devoted dog, my loving partner, and my funny, loud son. I made us all a good dinner, had a tall glass of wine, and am working on what I can control – my life, my surroundings, my choices for tomorrow.

You could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Do you really want the last thing you do to be arguing with someone, or trashing someone by gossiping about them behind their back? I don’t. I’m choosing friends, lovers, and people who like me.

Peace out.