Vigorous Anonymity

2PM – Expected snowstorm begins.

4PM – I leave work early, since my boss is off for the day.  In my defense, I emailed him to say I was doing so.  He did not reply in a timely enough fashion to alter my plans, so I left.

7:30PM – I arrived home, having managed to stretch a 30 minute ride into a 210 minute ride.  That’s talent, people.

7:30 – 7:40 PM – I sat on the toilet and cried.  It just came out in great hulking sobs as the anxiety of the 3 1/2 hour ride home and the many near death experiences washed over me.  (And could someone please explain why men in huge pick up trucks think it’s ok to be assholes on the roads?)

7:40 – 7:50 PM – Listened to Morris’ tale of snow woe, as he had been forced to abandon his car about 5 blocks from our house and walk home.  However, before he got out of his car, he watched a 3-car accident occur (with the final destruction being wreaked by a guy in a huge pick up truck).

7:50 – 9:00 PM – Watched a really bad movie, the name of which escapes me.  Morris expressed displeasure over how oily everyone was.  If that helps to narrow down what movie it was.

9:00 – 12:00PM – Freaked the fuck out over Rakeman (the mentally challenged man across the street) who used a snowblower for 3 hours when I just wanted to go to sleep.  Made numerous calls to the police, who did drive-by’s but little else.

12:00 – 2:15 AM – Slept, until I was awakened by a text from our Office Manager indicating our building had lost power.  Said a silent prayer that I might get an extra hour of sleep in the morning.

2:15 – 2:36 AM – Slept, until my cell phone rang.  It was the police, not wanting to discuss Rakeman, but rather perturbed about Morris’ car that they had stumbled across.  We had 2 choices – come get it now, or pick it up at the tow company’s lot in the morning.  Price undisclosed.  I said tow it.  Jackass jumped out of bed and ran for his boots.

2:36AM – 3:30AM – Drove to Morris’ car, shoveled Morris’ car out of ditch, and then drove home.  Upon arrival, listened to Jackass scream at the top of his lungs over his missing wallet which was sitting on the table 2 feet away from him.

3:30 AM – 4:30 AM – Tossed and turned fitfully, certain I would not sleep again this night.

4:30 AM – 6:15AM – Miraculously, slept, until awakened by a text from a co-worker wondering if I was going to work, because of the power thing.

6:16 AM – Gave up any further attempts at sleep.

It is now 4:11 PM and I am almost blind, I’m so tired.  I anticipate having to spend another 10 minutes on the toilet tonight, sobbing.  And only 363 days till next Christmas!

My husband has two grown children (son – 40, daughter – 37), who are both married with children.  They have successful careers and families and houses.  And of course, their children are my husband’s grandkids.

There’s a long and tragic history here.  Jackass and I got together when those kids were 10 and 7.  But we have never had a relationship of any kind.  They introduce me to people as their “father’s wife”.  And their children don’t know what to call me although the oldest finally started calling me Candy recently.  More upsetting to me is that they have never tried to have a relationship with Ingrid and Morris.  My kids could have benefited from the family interaction, but the older set didn’t want to reach out and so that never happened either.  At the moment, we all just sort of coexist, all circling Jackass, the sun.  None of us like it, except for Jackass who remains convinced we are all one big happy family.

To set the following story in its proper context, I must also tell you my stepdaughter and her husband are into extreme couponing.  They have an entire basement lined with shelves where they store their loot – all the stuff they don’t necessarily need but buy because it’s on sale, and they essentially get it for next to nothing.  They have boxes upon boxes of men’s deodorant, disposable razors, toothbrushes and air fresheners, just to name a few.

Saturday, we had a Christmas brunch with them.  They were many many gifts exchanged – at least from our side.  Generous gift cards for Jackass’ kids, multiple gifts for the grandkids.  Some serious booty.

From the other side, the following gifts were distributed:

For me:  a Glade air freshener

For Ingrid:  a disposable razor

For Morris:  a deodorant

For Jackass (their father):  a toothbrush

If it wasn’t so sad, it would be hysterical.

So there’s this woman I work with.  I’ve mentioned her in many posts in the past.  She had a tragic loss of her significant other after 22 years together, and has never fully recovered.  We’ve bec0me pretty good friends over the last 5 years, and I have introduced her to all of my friends who have embraced her and we have done lots of things together as a group.

That said, it is not without drama.  We now work in the same department.  Big Mistake.  I was here first, and my boss decided she was just what we needed here, so he had her transferred to our department against my better yet silent judgment.

We had/have a habit of fighting.  Or rather, SHE has that habit.  I tend to just let stuff wash over me and don’t sweat things that people say and maybe don’t mean.  Or maybe I didn’t interpret right.  Or maybe it was in a text and I don’t even want to try to interpret it.  Not so, Workfriend.  She takes umbrage at everything, and sends me massive texts for hours on end that remind me how horrid I am and how I cannot be redeemed.

That said…she’s lots of fun (doesn’t she sound it???).  We have a great time together, and we have a lot in common, and just enough NOT in common to make things interesting.

Last weekend, she threatened in texts to kill herself due to the above despondency which never leaves her.  She then ignored all of my texts and phone calls for the next 6 hours while I worried and fretted and then, when she finally responded, said she’d been sleeping and hadn’t heard the texts.  I lost my mind and told her never to do that again, and she text-screamed at me for the next 3 hours.  She made some nasty comments about her envisioning me on Facebook telling all our “friend” how awful she was.  In desperation, I unfriended her from Facebook, and turned off the phone.

But we’re back at work, and it’s like it never happened.  It’s so very strange, I don’t know how to proceed.  On the one hand, I want her to just go away and give me back my sanity. On the other, it’s good when we’re not fighting.  And we have to work together.  It’s like being in high school all over again.

Ingrid and I are going clothes shopping today, hopefully to buy her something decent to wear to her graduation.  Which is a week from today.  She should have graduated in May of this year, but she had a problem with a class the previous semester.  She knew by December of 2011 that she wasn’t graduating in May 2012.  There was much drama.  And an equal amount of dollars to find her an apartment for the 4 months she needed it this semester, plus the actual cost of the semester.  She used her father’s illness that year as the excuse but the truth is she just didn’t do the work.  It’s one of those “I know you know, and you know I know” kinds of things.  We just don’t say it out loud.

I am cautiously optimistic about this excursion, but I know one or both of us will come home in tears.

Morris, the now 20 year old son who lives in my basement (I never thought I’d type those words in a sentence, EVER) left for work 30 minutes ago.  He works a 12 hour shift 6 days a week selling Christmas trees at the local nursery.  And beginning to realize that, while less prosperous, it is a lot less physically strenuous to just go to college already!  He made it through his Freshman year at a college in Boston, and that was enough of that.  He LOVED Boston – college and the resultant homework?  Not so much.

Jackass – well that’s still a work in progress.  He has changed a great deal since his illness.  I’ve been wanting to post more, so that story will finally come out I think.  It’s been a long while.  I miss this forum.

…for me to start this back up again.  I wish it was because I’m all happy and cheery and want to share the goodness, but, alas…no.  I am writing again in the aftermath of a series of medical traumas that my husband has gone through, and the resulting way that our lives have changed.  I’m just going to be jumping in with both feet here.  The writing is for me.  I don’t expect anyone else to read it or understand it, but little by little I imagine the whole story will be told.

Jackass had a series of grand mal seizures, from August to mid-November, and after 3 months of tests was diagnosed with a fistula in his brain.  It has a real name, which I don’t want to write down, lest a google search should lead someone back here.  Like I said, this writing is for me, and I need it to stay that way.

Anyway, the fistula caused irritation in the brain, which set off the seizures, which inevitably left him with some damage.  Speech issues, cognitive issues, memory lapses.  Physically, he’s the same.  The fistula was embolized – twice.  And the doctors think that within three months the swelling will be reduced and the  problems he is having will right themselves.  I am less certain.

He has good days and bad.  Today, not so good.  He woke up belligerent and frustrated, and has argued with me over everything.  How much water to put in the coffee pot, whether or not to put the Christmas tree lights on…just stupid stuff because that is the focus of his days.  Gone is the intelligent, driven professional, and in his place is this man who is withdrawn, depressed and probably terrified.  He is not alone.

I’ve been on family leave since December 1st, but that ends in a week and a half.  Going back to work full-time on January 9 and I’m not sure how we will manage.  But I have to go back at some point, and I don’t see things changing dramatically from one week to the next.

So that’s that.  The whole story needs telling, but I’m not there yet.  But I feel better already having written that much of it down.

A week ago tomorrow, Jackass was leaving to go to work (in the dark) and overnight the driveway had turned into a solid sheet of ice.  I got up and was secretly watching his progress down the driveway from the safety of my bedroom window, and I watched him as he slowly salted his way, step by step.

So I was there to witness when his feet went out from under him, and he landed on his back on the driveway.  Then, the man-screaming began.  I’ve spoken about the man-screaming before, but I don’t know where, and I’m not looking for it.  It was a similar situation though.  Jackass had been pulled by the dog in a downpour and lost his footing.  He tore a rotator cuff that time.

This time, 2 broken ribs.  He broke those ribs once before – on the morning we were leaving to have the aforementioned rotator cuff surgically repaired.  I guess they’re kinda flimsy now that they’ve been previously abused.

Long story short (heh, as if), he’s been sitting on his ass in his barkolounger for a week, popping percocet like cough drops and being waited on hand and foot.

In a drug-induced haze, last night he decided he felt well enough to return to work.  What is it about men who don’t realize that when you’re stoned on painkillers, your ability to make decisions is altered?  Jackasses.

No amount of belittling could talk him out of his decision, so off he went this morning at 6:15 (in the semi-dark and in a small snow storm).  He called me at 8:01.  And said only four words before hanging up.  Oh but they were such sweet words.

“This was a mistake.”


Last night, I decided to forego my usual sleep aid, Benadryl, just to see if I could fall asleep without it.  I do that every once in a while, just to prove I can.  Just like every once in a while, I’ll go a weekend without wine.  Just to prove I’m not an alcoholic.

I was asleep in 5 minutes.  I guess.  All I remember is being asleep when I realized my phone was vibrating.  At 12:22.  It was Ingrid.

I haven’t given many updates on Ingrid, but for those of you who’ve been around, you know she has always been a challenge for me.  But things have been better since she’s been away at college.  She’s a junior now, and she is actually having moments of sanity and maturity, albeit they are quickly washed away in the onslaught of a broken hair straightener, or the fact that I ran out of milk.  But things are better.

She is still calling me daily.  And texting.  A lot.  But it’s ok, it’s the rhythm we’ve fallen into and when I don’t hear from her, I actually wonder why and if she’s ok.  I don’t call her, however.  I ain’t no chopper mom.

So when the phone rang at 12:22 I sighed and silently damned her for waking me, and answered the phone.  And was hit with the full breadth of her hysterical crying, and could not understand a word she was saying.  It took her a full five minutes to calm down enough to say these words:  “Mom, David died!”

Now I have to tell you who David is.  Sometime in the beginning of this year, she was “introduced” to a guy, via her roommate’s brother.  I use the word introduce in quotes because she never actually met him.  Not in the flesh.  But, for the last nine months they have spoken daily, sometimes more than once a day, and have been having an online relationship that has been both confidence-building for my daughter who has always struggled with self-esteem issues, and debilitating as he wasn’t always that kind or that reliable. I secretly hoped many times he would just go away and leave her alone.  But I didn’t count on it happening this way.

The story goes:  She spoke to him sometime Monday.  He was wasted.  They might have fought, but then they did that a lot.  Tuesday came and went and she didn’t hear from him and he wasn’t answering his phone.  At midnight, she went on Facebook before going to bed, went to his page to leave him a message, and saw dozens of “Rest in Peace, David” comments.  She lost her mind, called me, and sobbed for half an hour.

She didn’t know anyone in his life, not really, and had no way to find out what had happened.  All she knew was he was gone.

By 2AM she was calling me again, this time having gotten in touch with someone who knew what had happened.  A seizure.  When he was alone in the house.  And that’s all we know.

The people in our lives all react somewhat dubiously to the power of an online/phone only relationship, but you and I know it’s real.  All of you have come into contact with people here or elsewhere on the web who have touched you, and whose loss would affect you.  Deeply and truly.

I am very worried about my girl.  How does a 20 year old bounce back from losing someone…someone who she was making plans with, to see, to touch, to kiss.  And now none of that will happen.

Rest in peace, David.

So the cruise.  I don’t want to talk about it.  It was…less than stellar.  We’ll not be repeating that.

But that’s not why I’m here.  In fact, I don’t know why I’m here.  But I’ve noticed something, and I feel inclined to comment on it.

Here it is.  NO ONE IS BLOGGING!

I have something like 150 blogs in my reader, and I swear, every day I check it, and there’s 40-something unread posts, and 38 of them are LOL-Cats.  Cats are cute and all but really…what happened to blogging?  I guess I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who gave it up for lent!

There are a few people who post all the time.   You know who you are.  But seriously, the “daily” crowd has dwindled to bi-monthly, and the bi-monthly crowd (me) has dropped off the face of the earth.

So I’m here.  Blogging.

I was blogging before it was fashionable.  No one read it, but I liked doing it. And then the revolution happened and EVERYONE had a blog, and I had a few readers, and the newness drifted away and I was just one more woman with a blog.

Not that it appears to be unfashionable again, I think my interest has been re-piqued.  I hate being a lemming.

So we’re going on a cruise in August.  FIRST.TIME.EVER.  And the first time we haven’t gone to the Jersey Shore in…god…18 years???  This is the first vacation since my husband and I were married that I won’t be cooking and making beds.  I’m downright giddy.

We’re flying into Miami on 8/23, hopping on a ship, and then heading to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico.  I can’t tell you how excited we are.  Well ok Jackass and I are excited, but Ingrid and Morris are a little concerned about the no cell phone policy I will have to institute, and wondering what exactly there will be for them to do.

I’m just looking forward to walking away from an unmade bed for the first time and not having be unmade when I get back in it at night.

When a baby is born in a New Jersey hospital, the parents are given a green, pink and white blanket, an ID bracelet, and a roll of quarters.  The quarters are for Parkway tolls.  Because every New Jersey kid comes with a prerequisite that its parents introduce it to the Jersey shore.

In New Jersey, we don’t go to the beach.  We go “down the shore”.  It doesn’t matter that a lot of territory that isn’t the beach also isn’t north of it.  If you live in Camden, you pretty much just drive straight across the state…still, you’re going down the shore.

I made my first trip down the shore when I was about six.  My parents took me, because, like I said, it’s a prerequisite.  If you can picture in your head the palest, most ill-equipped people to sit on a beach, you have my parents.  I’m pretty sure my father was wearing black socks.  We only went the one time, but I remember it like it was yesterday.  It was a “day trip”, we probably only spent a few hours on the beach, but Dad and I collected sea shells, which back in the 60s were in prominence on the beach, but now are incredibly rare.  I was afraid of the water (still can’t swim) but the smells and the sounds were amazing.  And once a Jersey kid experiences it, they have to refill the cup on a regular basis.  There are rules about these things.

When I was a teenager but too young to drive, I went to Seaside Heights all the time with my friend Becky because her parents were big into day trips.  We used to wear the precursor to the tankini, which was basically a little bikini bottom and what was almost a mini dress over the top.  We thought we looked awesome.

Enter the first boyfriend, he with the 1978 Firebird Formula – fire engine red, with black leather interior and the T-roof.  No air conditioning though.  Jerry regretted that a long time.  We would drive down to Belmar after he was done with work on Friday nights and we’d spend 3 hours just cruising up and down the boardwalk, winning stuffed animals and stuffing our faces with funnel cake.  The boardwalk at night was magic.  The lights, the voices, the smell of Coppertone.  Magic.

This weekend is Memorial Day, and thus the cycle begins again.  New Jersey will once again be heading down the shore.  It will be Springsteen and Southside Johnny on the iPod for as long as the kids in the back seat will allow it.  It will be the mad calculations about when to leave and how to miss the traffic and what detours to take when you get near what used to be the Garden State Arts Center but is now called the PNC something-or-other.  Because the other thing that Memorial Day brings is traffic.  Mounds and mounds of traffic.  Basically, if you have to go south in Jersey, you don’t do it on a Friday night, and if you need to come north for work on Monday, you leave 3 hours before work starts and drive straight there.  Otherwise, you’ll spend 5 hours in bumper to bumper traffic with two screaming kids in the back seat and a husband who curses at everything that moves faster than he does.

It’s a big time in Jersey.  I can’t remember a summer I didn’t spend down the shore in some fashion or another.  A day.  A weeekend…sometimes two weeks in a row if we were fortunate.  And that first smell of dead clams as you cross the causeway is worth the 5 hours it took you to make a 2 hour drive.  Trust me.  It is.

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  • TheQueen: Yeah, perhaps next year suggest you ALL just skip the adult gifts and focus on the little ones. I'm sure you won't miss it!
  • kristabella: Yay! You're back!
  • Shania Ring: Out of all of that, the only thing in my head is 20?!? Twenty? I remember a little boy in middle school when I first started reading you. Are you SURE