Hello, Monday

Mondays, in general, aren’t great days. I don’t know of anyone who looks forward to Monday. I’ve never met anyone who feels excited at the prospect of returning to the drudgery of work or school or whatever else the week may hold in store. The worst Monday of the year is the Monday after the start of Daylight Savings Time. That Monday right after you “spring forward” is a killer. I don’t have any hard scientific evidence to back this up. But I feel it in my heart. There are some things you just know, on a gut level. And this is one of them.

In general, I don’t hate on Mondays. I don’t love them. I don’t enjoy knowing I have to get back into a productive routine and get stuff done after a weekend of family time and relaxation. At the same time, I’ve never particularly dreaded them, either. I guess I didn’t feel one way or another about them. They were just there, like a flu shot or a trip to the doctor: a necessary evil, or something like that. Oddly enough, I’ve always harbored a big hate for Wednesday. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s something about being in the middle. Today was almost enough to make me change my mind about Mondays. Because today was a banner day. And I don’t mean that in a good way. It pretty much sucked, all around.

I started off with the not-quite-put-together feeling that happens every year when we spring forward. It doesn’t matter what time I go to bed or how much sleep I get, it’s never going to be enough to overcome the uneasy feeling in my brain that tells me time has gone completely off the rails. I spent the whole day feeling tired, run-down, and generally annoyed with life. The Monday after Daylight Savings Time always makes me feel like I’m stuck in a world that has suddenly grown too small. Or maybe that I’m just out of whack. Or something. I don’t know how to explain it, other than to say nothing fits together the way it should.

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My daughter has been fighting a sinus infection. I took her to the pediatrician last week, and they told us to use over the counter allergy meds to make it go away instead of prescribing antibiotics. I’m all for using as few antibiotics as possible. Unfortunately, it didn’t work in this instance. She woke up this morning feeling worse than ever, with even more sinus pain and pressure, a fever, and a sore throat. It seemed a visit to the pediatrician was in order. We managed to get an appointment for noon. I made the mistake of getting there early — silly me.

Long story short: We ended up waiting for over an hour. We were slightly early, but the doctor took us back over 40 minutes after our scheduled appointment. This is bad enough, but the waiting room turned into a horror show of annoyance and frustration. Our pediatrician’s office is divided into two waiting rooms: a sick side and a well side. We were on the sick side (of course). There were a lot of other kids on the sick side, too. After we had been waiting for a few minutes, this boy — probably around 10 or 11 years old — came jumping down the hallway from the well side, looking for the bathroom. The floor is mostly white tile, but there are red and blue tiles spaced evenly along it, and he was entertaining himself by jumping from colored square to colored square. He ran into the sick waiting room. He made all kinds of noise. He jumped from square to square in there. He banged all the toys. I think every parent in the sick waiting room breathed a sigh of relief when he and his sister finally got called back for their appointment.

Sadly, our relief was short-lived. Once their appointment was done, the entire family came into the sick waiting room, which was already full. I have no idea what they were waiting for, but the two kids continued to make noise and rattle and bang on toys and jump from square to square on the tile floor. Their parents busied themselves on their phones. I thought about telling them they were sitting in a room stuffed full of sick kids. But then I decided to keep it to myself. If anyone ever deserved to get sick … Well, I’m not proud of the thought. But there you go.

Finally, after our hour wait, we got to see the doctor. As expected, he said my daughter has a sinus infection, and he prescribed antibiotics. We went on our merry way, ate lunch, and then went to the drug store to get this medication. There was no prescription ready for my daughter. There was no prescription in the system for my daughter. I realized, with a sinking feeling of dread, that this meant I would have to call the doctor’s office to find out what had happened.

I hate calling the doctor’s office. The doctor’s office phone system is the third circle of hell. I am sure of this. Again, I have no scientific proof, but I feel it. I feel it right in my gut. It feels a lot like acid reflux, but it just keeps going and going and going. It is impossible to find a live person on the other end of the phone. You have to sit and listen to a recorded message that is, I swear, five minutes long. And then, you have to try and figure out which option will give you what you need. But here’s the thing: none of the options fit. Ever. And Heaven help you if you push the wrong option, because you can’t back out and try again. No. You have to start all over. I know this because I did it three times today. And I still never got a live person.

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After the drugstore, where we weren’t able to get my daughter’s prescription, I decided to drop her off at our house while I ran a couple of errands. I had a coupon, and I had to go inside to get it. My dogs, of course, went absolutely nuts. After all, I had been gone for three hours by this time. Clearly, they thought I was never coming back. I grabbed my coupon and headed back out the door.

Unfortunately, Monday is also lawn day for our neighborhood. The lawn guys were out there, next to our house, with their leaf blowers and rakes and mulching things. My Springer has a habit of trying to dart out of the door before you can get it closed. The urge is particularly strong when there are strange people in our front yard. As I backed out of the house, all the while pushing the dog away from the door, I tripped. There is a step down into our garage from the house, and I managed to trip over this and come down with all of my weight on my bent/twisted ankle. It hurt like a … Well, something that hurts a lot.

But I’m a tough person. At least, this is what I tell myself. So I sucked it up, limped to the car, and decided I would run my errands, anyhow. I had a coupon! It needed to be used! And off I went. At this point, I still had no news regarding my daughter’s prescription. What else could go wrong?

Well, I’ll tell you. My ankle throbbed and ached the whole time. I went to two stores, and nearly got run over in the parking lot of each one because I couldn’t manage to hobble out of the way fast enough. The first store didn’t want to take my coupon, which led to an extended wait as the cashier tried to figure out how to key in the entire code. And I got all the way back home and into my driveway before I was able to call the pharmacy again about the stupid prescription that started this whole mess. It turned out the doctor actually “called in” the prescription by leaving a voice mail on the pharmacy phone, instead of sending it electronically. And, of course, no one had checked the message. I had to turn the car around and head out into the world once more, limping and cursing the whole way. But I managed to get the damn prescription. Finally. Victory!!

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And so, here I am. Monday is over. It’s not official for another couple of hours, but I’m calling it done. My ankle hurts and has started to swell. Hauling one’s posterior up three flights of stairs on a throbbing ankle is no picnic. Neither is standing in the kitchen and cooking dinner. I learned both of these things the hard way this afternoon and evening. I still need to straighten my house before the cleaning ladies come tomorrow, but I really can’t handle any more trips up and down the stairs. I asked my family for help with it, but that hasn’t materialized. I have a sinus headache and have used up a box and a half of tissues, which tells me the allergy attack that started three weeks ago has probably morphed into a sinus infection for me, too. I’m just … done. I’m ready to climb into bed with a book for a couple of hours of quiet time.

Tomorrow is another day. For some reason, the thought of it makes me very afraid.

 

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I Think I Hate High School, part 2

So I’m going to cut to the chase and post the spoiler alert-type thingy right up front. I pretty much still hate High School. In particular, I pretty much still hate my daughter’s High School. But … I am feeling more hopeful that we might all survive with our sanity intact. I suppose I should dial that back and say I’m feeling hopeful we will survive freshman year with our sanity intact. To apply this to all four years might be too much of a reach at this point.

When last we parted, my husband and I were scheduled to meet with one of the principals regarding her biology teacher. I didn’t go into detail about what precipitated this meeting, because my last post on this was already long. But here’s the skinny … which, hopefully, I can keep fairly brief. This is not always my strong point. You guys know this about me.

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My daughter had to participate in the school science fair. She is not normally gung-ho about things like this. If left on her own, she would have chosen not to participate, but it was a requirement for her biology class. She had trouble finding an experiment, because her teacher didn’t approve anything she brought to him. She went through several rounds of meeting with him to discuss experiments before she finally found one he would approve. He gave her no guidance on what he wanted out of her project, or of what he would approve. Each time she met with him, she was basically shooting in the dark. He’s a moody person, and a lot of this seems to depend on his mood at the particular time a student comes to see him.

To register for the fair, my daughter had to fill out a crap-ton of information on this form/database program called Scienteer. She didn’t have a choice as to whether she would use this or not. Everyone has to use this, school-wide. It’s probably county-wide, too. This program is NOT user friendly. My daughter struggled with it during Winter Break. She wasn’t able to get registered, and she told her biology teacher about this when she went back to class after break ended. This was about two weeks before the final registration was due.

Skip forward to a couple of Fridays ago, January 19. This was the last day for kids to register for the fair. Through a string of mishaps and mistakes and miscommunications, my daughter wasn’t registered. Her teacher had told her to put another teacher down as the sponsor of her project, so my daughter ended up falling through the cracks. She didn’t show up on her bio teacher’s list of kids. And the teacher she put as her sponsor didn’t recognize her as one of his students. With good reason, as she isn’t. This is what my husband was there to meet with the bio teacher about on Friday. Because we needed to figure out this program and get our daughter registered. But the bio teacher wasn’t there.

In the end, we got everything figured out, thanks to one of the teachers running the science fair. But it was a mess all the way through. We continued to have problems with the program. The science fair sponsor put herself as my daughter’s experiment sponsor. And she, literally, stayed by her computer and hung in with us ALL NIGHT LONG on Friday. We finally got my daughter’s registration finished at midnight. The biology teacher, of course, was not there for any of this.

My daughter ended up winning Honorable Mention with her project. This was awesome and exciting. She is eligible to go on to the Regional Science Fair, but we aren’t sure yet if there will be a spot for her.

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Okay … on to the meeting from last week. My husband and I show up at school. My daughter meets us at the front door. We really didn’t know what to expect from the meeting. It turned out the principal wanted our daughter in the meeting, and she wanted the biology teacher, too. I was a little thrown by this, but only because I wasn’t expecting it. Overall, it wasn’t a bad thing.

The meeting was … frustrating. Most of what has happened between my daughter and the biology teacher is “he said – she said”. For example, there were two times when the teacher was supposed to meet with my daughter, and he managed to wriggle out of responsibility for both of those. He said he never told my daughter to put a different teacher down as her science fair sponsor. He said he wouldn’t have been able to help us with the registration process, anyhow, so none of that was his fault, either. This conveniently glosses over the fact that he never tried to help her, but whatever. He blamed my daughter for the string of miscommunications that led to her having to struggle through the science fair registration at, literally, the eleventh hour. He flat-out said she never told him she had registration problems at all, which I know isn’t true. I know she told him. But how can I prove it? I can’t.

Needless to say, the biology teacher, had answers for everything. Nothing was his fault. He kept pointing out reasons why all the things that happened were my daughter’s fault. But then, when I called him on it, he said he wasn’t putting the blame on her. So … you get the idea of how it went, right? It was back and forth like that: us bringing up different points, the bio teacher denying them or putting the fault off on our daughter. And he kept wanting to tell us what a great teacher he is, how long he’s been teaching, how much he loves teaching, and so on.

I was a little hostile. I’m not proud of that, but it is what it is. His attitude made me angry. And trying to converse with someone who constantly talks in circles and only wants to tell you how fabulous they are frustrates the hell out of me. I finally cut him off and told him I was sure he was a terrific teacher for some of his students. But that I didn’t feel he was a good teacher for my daughter. Because he was too erratic, because his instructions were too unclear, and because my daughter never knew what to expect in his class. It’s too stressful for her, and it makes her migraines worse.

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In the end, once the principal dismissed the biology teacher from the meeting, she told us she had already talked to him about the main issues we raised. She had some of the email correspondence, and she was able to see some of our problems, just from that. She said they were already taking steps to make sure there were no more missed meetings. And she told us she believed that our daughter had gone to the teacher about her log-in problems with the science fair software. All of this makes me feel hopeful. We didn’t make as much progress as I would have liked, but at least we found someone who listened. And who believed our daughter. And who also saw there are problems with this teacher. The principal said we could switch our daughter to another class.

But, we only get one class switch. ONE — for the whole four years of high school. What if we end up with a teacher who is truly psycho, and we’ve used up our switch on this biology teacher who, while admittedly not a great teacher, is at least mostly sane? My daughter decided to stay in the class. She didn’t want to waste her one switch on this guy. My husband and I supported her choice. But we both told her to be more careful about documenting important conversations. In the event we have to go to the principal again, we want some kind of email chain in our favor, at the very least.

While we were there, I expressed my overall disappointment in my daughter’s school. And I complained about her other jerk teachers, too. Not that I really expect it to do much good. But it felt great to get it all out of my system. I guess that has to count for something.

 

 

I Think I Hate High School

My daughter is a freshman in high school this year. And here’s the thing: I think I hate high school.

I have been trying, hard, not to come to this conclusion. As a family, we have been struggling with one thing after another with my daughter’s school ever since the beginning of the year. I’ve tried to talk myself out of feeling this way, because I don’t like it. And I don’t think it’s productive. Or healthy.

“Look on the bright side,” I whisper to myself. Or, “It’ll get better. We all need to get used to it.” Or, “It’s a new school. And she’s a teenager. It’s normal for this to be a big adjustment.” And so on. You know, all those things you whisper to yourself at 2AM, when you’re laying awake in bed, staring at the ceiling, and worrying about how everything managed to jump off the rails. Because that’s how it feels. It feels like everything I knew about my daughter as a student has completely jumped the rails and is now barreling toward the final corner that will send us all plunging into the depths of the rocky ravine below. Actually, I feel like this about pretty much my whole life right now. But that’s a post for another time.

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I dread opening up progress report emails from the school, because I never know what I am going to find. I dread having to talk to my daughter about her day, because I have this fear that yet another thing will have gone wrong. I dread having to deal with her school counselor and teachers, because some of her teachers are jerks and her counselor didn’t seem all that interested in our problems. I realize this is a blanket statement. I have actual, concrete reasons, based on personal experience, for feeling this way. I had planned to share these anecdotes in here, but I realized it would make this post a lot longer than it already is. Maybe I’ll blog about them separately. I don’t know.

I don’t know what to do with these feelings of dread. No, that’s not accurate. I do know what to do with them, but I feel like I’m not emotionally strong enough to deal with them. That sounds ridiculous. I know it does. I’m a grown-ass woman. I was a lawyer. I should thrive on conflict, right? But I don’t. I went to law school because I love the law and the logic of it and the way it works. I love the puzzle of it and the moving parts. I was good at my job as a lawyer because I’m smart and could push myself to be something I wasn’t. But a person can’t do that for forever.

I feel fragile and brittle right now. If I let myself, I would sit at my desk and cry every day. All day, every day. Losing one aunt, then another aunt, and then almost my husband, all within the span of less than a year, has done a number on me and my emotions. I know I should “get over it”. I KNOW this. And yet … I’m raw. Absolutely raw. You know that feeling of running from one fire to the next and the next and the next? You keep telling yourself that you can do this. If you put out that last fire, there will be no more fires. I mean, eventually, there won’t be any more fires, right? That’s logical. That makes sense. That’s me, only the fires never stop coming.

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I feel like, if one more thing goes wrong, or if I have to deal with just one more thing, I will fly to pieces. I’m worried about my daughter’s school situation, but I feel ineffective to do anything about it. I can keep on putting out the fires as they come up, but I can’t change her teachers. I can’t make them NOT jerks. I can’t make her counselor care. My daughter feels that some of her teachers (the ones who are jerks) don’t like her. As a result, she has become less enthusiastic about school. She has started not to care. I can’t change this, either. I can remind my daughter that the world is full of jerks. I can remind her that not everyone is going to like her. I can love her and tell her how much I like her and how special she is to me. I can stay after her to be organized, and I can try to find ways for her to be more organized. And I do all of this, every day. But the fires keep on popping up.

Last week, some things came to a head regarding my daughter’s biology teacher. He has been a particular problem this year because he is arbitrary and unpredictable. He tells the class one thing, but later turns around and says he never said it. For example, my daughter and her partner had to build a cell model. One of the requirements was that the model had to show how the cell interacted with the cells around it. As an example of this, the teacher showed the class a model from a previous year that showed half-sections of the cells on either side of the modeled cell. My daughter and her partner made their cell model, and, to show how it interacted with other cells around it, they put in half-sections of cells on either side. The teacher counted off points from their project because they had used half-sections instead of showing the whole cell on either side — even though his example did the exact same thing, and even though the rubric didn’t include a requirement that they use whole cells on either side of their model. He gives unclear instructions for projects. He only returns my daughter’s emails about half the time. He hardly ever answers my emails. He has told my daughter, on more than one occasion, to meet with him at a certain time, and then not been in his room (or even in the school) when she comes to meet with him. He then turns around and accuses my daughter of not coming at all. It has been … frustrating. To say the least. My daughter feels anxious, nervous, and extremely stressed in his class, because she never knows what he will do or say. She never knows if her work is going to be adequate, even if she follows all the instructions he has given. There have been tears on more than one occasion — mine and hers.

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This afternoon, my husband and I are going to the school to meet with an assistant principal. We are going to discuss the biology teacher. It needs to happen. At first, I thought things would become easier for my daughter in that class once she adjusted and got used to the teacher. I’ve always thought it was possible to figure out how to get along with any teacher, especially since you only see them for a short amount of time during the day or week. It’s not like elementary school, where the kiddos have the same teacher all day long. But here we are, at the end of the second quarter of school and bringing the first semester to a close, and my daughter is still having the same problems in biology she has had from Day 1. Clearly, I was wrong about things getting easier.

My husband and I talked about it, and we’ve decided to do something we’ve never done before. We are going to ask the school to transfer our daughter to another class. I don’t generally believe in doing this, but I feel like it needs to happen this time. My daughter was diagnosed with chronic migraines this month, just a couple of weeks ago. Stress is a big trigger, and the biology teacher isn’t helping her health. I don’t know if it’s possible for the school to move her to a different class. I’m not sure what they are going to say or how the meeting is going to go. I’m dreading it, but I’m glad my husband will be there, too. At least I won’t feel alone. Having him there helps me feel brave.

I hope something gives soon, whether it’s a new class or us figuring out a way to live with the crazy, erratic teacher she already has. Because I would really like to know at least one fire is put out, for good.

 

 

 

The Day of Feeling Sassy

Today has been a rather annoying day. My daughter is sick-ish. I say “ish” because we went to the doctor this morning, only to find out she likely doesn’t have strep or anything bacterial. It looks like our first “lovely” virus of the season has come home to roost. So, while my daughter feels pretty crummy, overall, there isn’t much that can be done for it. Like so many other things in life, she just has to live through it. It seems I might also be living through it very soon. I now have a sore throat, congestion, and headache. I think my kiddo managed to pass her ick along to me. Perhaps this means she will soon be on the mend. My husband has a theory that, in order to recover from a virus or cold,  you must pass it along to someone else. In our house, I am usually the “someone else”. Yahoo.

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As for me, I got into an argument over the phone with my daughter’s dentist’s receptionist. (Try saying that three times really fast!) Up until this morning, I thought my daughter was struggling with allergies. As soon as I found out it is actually a virus, I called to cancel her dental appointment. I would prefer to keep the appointment because it’s a pain to reschedule due to my daughter’s marching band commitments. But I thought it would be kinder to cancel in order to avoid exposing the hygienists to my kiddo’s germy mouth and face.

Here’s the problem: the dentist has a 24-hour cancellation policy. I didn’t give them the required 24-hour notice, so the receptionist informed me that I would be charged the next time this happened. When I explained to the receptionist that we only just found out my daughter had a virus, as opposed to allergies, she said she understood that. She also said she understood there was no way I could have known in enough time to meet their notice requirements. But I still needed to tell them 24 hours ahead of time. Basically, in this instance, I would have had to be psychic in order to give them the required notice. But, of course, this doesn’t matter. The policy is the policy is the policy. And there are no exceptions to the policy. Keep in mind the dentist has canceled on us several times with two or three-hours notice. It seems the whole 24-hour thing doesn’t apply to him. Since I’m not psychic, I guess I will have to take my sick kid to the dentist next time. When I tried to explain this to the receptionist, she insisted this is not what she was saying. She was only saying they have a 24-hour notice policy, and I have to give them 24-hours notice even when my daughter is sick. Okay … Again, not psychic. But, whatever.

I’m usually so easy-going. I am the last person to argue with someone or make a fuss about anything. I was trained, from an early age, to put the feelings of pretty much everyone ahead of my own. But this felt so ridiculous to me. After trying, politely, to discuss this with the receptionist, it became obvious we were getting nowhere fast. I ended up cutting her off with a “thank you” and hanging up on her. I don’t know if they are going to charge me for this missed visit or not.

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Then, I ducked into my local Ulta to see if I could replace a nail polish I broke yesterday. My hunt was successful, which was awesome. As I was standing in line to pay, the woman in front of me had a coupon for buy one, get one 50% off. She had two make-up pencil things, and she wanted to use her coupon on them. Seems easy enough. Except, her coupon wouldn’t work. The cashier left to go check with her manager. She came back and informed the woman in front of me that the coupon wasn’t going to work. It was for any eye or face product, and one of the products this woman wanted to buy was a lip pencil. The woman in front of me said, “Oh. Okay.” And just left it at that.

But … seriously … aren’t your lips on your face? I was standing there, listening to this whole exchange, and I was right on the verge of saying, “Wait. Not okay! Where are your lips? ‘Cuz mine are on my face.” But then, I remembered these were strangers, and I didn’t have any horse in this particular race. I practically had to cover my mouth with my hand to keep the words from popping out of their own accord.

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When I told my daughter about this, she looked at me and said, “Mom. You’re really sassy today, aren’t you?”

Um … yep! I guess I am.

Monday Monday

Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day
Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh Monday mornin’ you gave me no warnin’ of what was to be
Oh Monday, Monday, how could you leave and not take me

Yeah … So I had one of “those” days yesterday. In fact, it was so much one of “those” days that it continued all the way through today. I’m hoping Wednesday Wednesday won’t be more of the same. Because, let me tell ‘ya: Life has been annoying!

It’s not like any huge, major, terrible thing happened. On the contrary, things have continued puttering along fairly well in my corner of the universe. I try to remember this when I feel myself getting more and more annoyed with life. Overall, I’m healthy. Still feeling like crudola from the whole Prednisone incident, but, overall, healthy. My family, other than a small cold my husband seems to have caught, is also healthy. My daughter is happy. My dogs are happy. Big picture: Life is Good.

It’s the small picture that has bogged me down over the last couple of days. I can’t point to any one, huge, major mishap as the source of my internally grumpy mood. But there have been a series of little things. Just one little, annoying thing after another, until my camel is buried under a whole stack of straws.

Yesterday started off quite well. I woke up feeling marginally more human than I had over the weekend. I had slept fairly well on Sunday night. I was able to sit up and stand up without feeling like I would immediately fall over. This was a definite improvement. I managed to get up at a decent time. I got out the door and took a walk to enjoy the Fall sunshine. It was a lovely day. For about an hour and a half, I felt really great about myself, the universe, and life in general.

But then, my walk ended, and I headed home. Actually, I decided to meet a friend for breakfast. I headed out to our designated restaurant, and I was (in my mind) about halfway there before I realized I was going down the wrong street. Basically, the map in my head told me I was on one street when I was on a different street altogether. And the street I was on would never get me to the restaurant where I was supposed to meet my friend. Have I mentioned that the map in my head SUCKS? Yeah, it does. I pulled over to text her that I would be about ten minutes late. I laugh now at how silly I was, but, at the time, I had no idea. As soon as I could, I turned down a street that would get me headed in the right direction. And wouldn’t you know it … There was construction. I picked THE ONE street that had construction and backed up traffic on it. After that, I hit every red light. And then ran into a stalled truck and another one-lane street with terribly backed-up traffic. I ended up being 30 minutes late. My poor friend was sitting in the restaurant for so long that I think the wait staff had given up on her or something.

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After lunch, I hit Ulta and managed to find two polishes I’ve been looking for from the OPI Holiday Breakfast at Tiffany’s Collection. This was a major score, as I’ve been searching for these for a while, but they are always sold out. On the way home, I managed to drop both bottles in my car. They rolled under the seat and got stuck. When I bent down to get them out, I managed to drop one bottle onto my driveway, where it bounced once and promptly rolled under my car. Luckily, it didn’t break. But I’m sure I looked like a complete weirdo crawling under my car on my hands and knees in order to get my precious polish bottle. I dropped the bottles two more times on my way into the house. Honestly, I have no idea how they stayed whole and unbroken.

Then, my downstairs toilet stopped working. It nearly overflowed, causing me to do the “dance of panic” as I frantically tried to remove the lid and close the flapper inside the tank. Crisis sort of averted, but plunging caused gross water to spill out onto the floor, anyhow. And almost on my house shoes. Yuck. I spent the rest of the evening trying to coax the toilet into working without getting more ick on my bathroom floor. I plunged enough so that it drained down. I tried the dish soap and hot water trick. When that didn’t work (but it, again, very slowly drained down), I tried the dish soap and water trick again. No luck. The toilet remained stubbornly and disgustingly clogged. I finally gave up around midnight and headed to bed with the hope that I would wake up the next morning to find my toilet miraculously fixed and functioning.

At the very least, I figured Monday would be over and done with. And Tuesday was bound to be a better day. Right? Right?

Yeah. Wrong. Today, I realized Tuesday is Monday’s bratty, spoiled younger cousin. Because it was more of the same. My toilet didn’t miraculously fix itself overnight. If anything, it was even more clogged than before, but, now, it was also sudsy. This was not helpful, because the suds grew bigger and bigger as I plunged. I still had no idea what in the world could be causing the back-up, although, if I’m being honest, I tried really hard not to think about it too much. Because … eew.  My daughter texted me on her way to school to inform me that one of the dogs had barfed on the floor of her room, right by the door. So there was that little gem awaiting me. And a mountain of dirty laundry. And a filthy kitchen with a sink full of dishes (in spite of the fact that  I cleaned the kitchen last night). Oh, and a heating unit inspection, which required me to hang around the house for most of the day until the repair guy decided to make an appearance.

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I spent hours today trying to unclog that stupid toilet. I plunged. I snaked. I ended up having to bail out the water three times. It was gross. No, it was whatever thing comes after gross. My Springer hates the whole idea of plunging, which was a fun discovery. He ended up standing in the bathroom doorway, giving me the stinky fish-eye and barking at me while I plunged and snaked. Eventually, I gave up. The heating guy came. I threw stuff into the crock pot so that I wouldn’t have to think about dinner. I cleaned the kitchen yet again. I managed to get my second floor vacuumed. And, as soon as the opportunity presented itself, I ran away from home. Literally. I headed to a favorite restaurant for a late lunch and a couple of hours of quiet reading.

This evening, my daughter and I headed out to her flute lesson. It’s about twenty minutes away from our house because of evening traffic. And there was traffic, traffic, and more traffic. We arrived a bit early because my daughter’s flute has a leak. I wanted to leave it for repairs. We waited for her teacher. And waited. And waited. But her teacher never appeared. My daughter checked her usual lesson room and reported that it was all dark and full of cellos. It turned out my daughter’s teacher is sick and had canceled the lesson, but her email informing me of this never reached me. Honestly, at this point, I wasn’t even surprised for this to happen. It was kind of just “one more thing” in a long string of things.

I can’t say I’m sorry to see Monday and Tuesday go. I am annoyed and tired and frazzled. And done. I am so freaking DONE with Monday and Tuesday. I’m giving Wednesday the side-eye and thinking that it has to be a better day. I mean, this streak of mine can’t go on forever. Right?

Walking on the Sun

Dear Universe,

It’s hot today in my corner of the world. I’m not talking about the sort of annoying “mildly unpleasant so wave your fan faster and sip extra lemonade on the porch” type of heat we should be having at this time of the year. Oh, no. This is that “hide the children and go crying to your mama ‘cuz life is unfair and all your grass has just burst into flames on the front lawn” kind of hot you usually save for the last weeks of August. And, oddly enough, the first few weeks of school. Because, of course, wrestling kids back into their school schedules isn’t challenging enough on its own.

I try to take a very easy-going approach to your activities, Universe. Pretty much, you’re going to do whatever you want with or without my say-so. I get it. This is just who you are and how you express yourself. Trying to control you would be akin to spitting in the ocean, and the world is going to whirl away on its axis with or without me, right? Generally, I’m okay with all of this. Going with the flow works for me. It helps me maintain at least the appearance of “zen” in my life.

beach and waves: rehoboth, delawareI have to say, though … With regard to the heat, I’m not a fan, Universe. I don’t do well in hot weather. It’s not that I dislike sweating. It’s not that I fear sunburn or skin cancer or spider bites. (Actually, I’m terrified of all those things, but that’s not my point.) The point is this: I can not function when temperatures climb above 85 degrees. Every stray thought in my head tunnels down into one loud wail of “HOLY CRAP, WHY IS IT SO HOOOOOOOT?!?” and my brain curls up in a corner of my psyche, wisely assuming the fetal position until cooler weather arrives.

I’m not sure if anyone has mentioned this to you before, Universe, but HOT is not fun. I do not like getting into my car and being unable to touch the steering wheel because it’s sizzling. I do not like getting into my car and feeling all the breath suck out of my lungs because it’s so freaking hot in there. I do not like when my dogs romp outside and come back in smelling like sun and hot. This has to be the only smell that’s worse than “wet dog”. I do not like when my husband suddenly thinks it’ll be fun to do outdoor activities like go to the zoo. Where was he with this plan when it was a balmy 20 degrees outside? Because, believe me, that’s the time when the zoo is most fun. No … really.

red flowers in the sun, rehoboth delawareWasn’t I just complaining about several feet of snow on the ground about a minute and a half ago? Where the heck did all this hot come from, anyhow? Yeah, I know, global warming … blah, blah, blah. Spring basically hung around long enough to drop a crap-load of pollen before skittering away to somewhere cooler. And now, it feels like we’re into Summer already. I want answers, Universe. And you, too, Spring. Yeah, that’s right. I’m looking at you.

Today, the temperature gauge in my car told me it was 95 degrees. This is ridiculous, Universe. If I wanted to walk on the sun, I would have moved there. Or stayed in S. Texas.

No love,

Me

If a Writer has Nothing to Say …

And she trips over a fallen tree while running through the forest in order to escape her muses … Can you still hear the clacking of her keyboard?

farm somewhere in pennsylvaniaOr … something like that.

And so, I find myself sitting here in front of my computer, full of the desire to feel the keys of my keyboard bucking and jumping beneath my fingers, but sadly bereft of any original ideas. Even entertaining words with which I could express my unoriginal ideas would be all right. It’s not the ideal, mind you, but it is something. Something is a whole lot better than “nothing”. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I can summon up the words for my unoriginal ideas, either. Which sucks.

In contrast to a few days ago, when I found myself nearly giddy with the prospect and promise of a “perfect” day, I fear I have ended up in the doldrums of life today. I am grumpy and unsettled — restless … and annoyed, too — although I can’t say exactly WHY I feel this way. And, in spite of my excitement and happiness over the coming of a new school year, I am finding slipping back into the normal “routine” of life much more difficult than I expected. I want to do so many things. I have so many ideas. But I feel unmotivated and exhausted.

It’s okay. The doldrums happen, right? They happen to all of us, and they will pass. Doesn’t make it fun to be stuck there for any length of time, but it won’t last forever. At least … that’s what I keep telling myself. At the moment, I’m not sure I believe it. I rather relish the idea of finding my “positive self” and socking her in the nose or something. Perhaps that’s too harsh. Maybe I would just put glue in her her hair or call her names behind her back.

giant windmill / turbine thingies in pennsylvaniaThis evening, I’ve been thinking about that old adage that I’m sure all of us have heard about a million times: “Write what you know.” Specifically, I was remembering a time when I shyly confessed to someone close to me my ambitions to be a writer. I told them I was working on a book, even. I had never, ever confessed this to anyone else in my whole, entire life. Never. Ever. Ever. This person seemed interested, and they asked me to tell them about my story. I excitedly told them all about how it was a fantasy novel, with a world-hopping protagonist and his Viking-inspired bodyguard / friend, and how they worked for this entity they couldn’t quite trust but also couldn’t quite escape. I went into great detail, as this was back when my story was still new, and I was still excited about the whole thing. At the end of it all, my relative frowned at me and grunted in derision, saying, “Why do you write crap like that? You should write something you know.”

some little town in pennsylvaniaAnd you know what? Here I am, years later, still struggling to bring that idea — the very one my dear relative slammed — into being. I have a first draft, but there’s just so much MORE to the story. It has morphed and changed over time. My characters have changed, too. They’ve grown and matured, just as I have grown and matured. But … I don’t know. I believe in this story. I really, really do. I think it has legs … and teeth. It darn sure won’t let me go. At the same time, I have to be honest and say doubt has crept in to sully the whole process.

What do I know? What am I doing trying to write a story like this, instead of something more familiar? What if I’m wasting my time and effort? What if I’m wrong about this story and about these characters? What if I can never finish this stupid story, so that I’m stuck with these characters rattling around in my brain, talking to me and demanding free pie, for the rest of my life — until I slowly go (even more) insane?

I know. It sounds ridiculous. Laughable, even. But doubts are like that. They are insidious and, even if you can laugh them off as goofy when they first occur, they tend to hang in there. Until, finally, you’ve had enough, and they start to look like Truth.

weathered, red barn in pennsylvaniaHere’s the thing: Behind all those doubts, there is a sliver of true fear. And it is this: What if I don’t know anything? Sometimes, I wonder if my life and past have to be tortured and difficult in order to make me a good, relatable, or moving writer. And I tell myself that, if this is the case, I’m out of luck. Because my life hasn’t been hard. Or painful. Or difficult. Or any of those things. I’ve never been tortured.

And yet … truth is a funny thing. When you think about it objectively, you get the idea that it’s only one thing. It’s “The Truth”, and that’s that. I don’t think life is like that. And I don’t think truth is like that, either. It’s like an onion. You painfully pull back the layers of your thoughts and your memories and your life, crying the whole time and wishing this wasn’t something you had to do in order to get things cooking.

My life has been painful. And difficult. Growing up wasn’t easy, and I’ve done many, many things I wish I hadn’t. I’ve given up bits and pieces of myself in order to make others happy, only to find, in the end, that this was something beyond my power. I’ve towed the line my whole, entire life, trying my best to be “perfect” and “good” … to do things exactly as the people around me wanted … only to realize I would never, ever be good enough. I’ve lost things and people who mattered to me. I’ve been kicked around and hated and vilified by people I thought I loved. I’ve had to face up to being a disappointment and a failure in my own eyes.

little pennsylvania town

 

These are the things I know: Love hurts — a lot. You can never live your life in a way so that it counts for two people. You can love someone and not like them all that much. It hurts when you don’t belong. Most of the time, it’s best to keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself — until the depression sets in and you can’t do that any more. There are things in life that are beyond understanding. And, once time has done a thing, it’s not possible to go back and undo it. You don’t get a “do over”. Sometimes, the truth hurts, too — enough so that it’s better and kinder to live a lie.

But I can’t write about these things. They are still too painful and too close. And I’m afraid of hurting people I love, because they wouldn’t understand. At the same time, truths need to come out before healing can happen. So I couch the tale in fantasy terms, with a hero who is flawed but trying his best, a demanding outside influence he can never please, and a family that will desert him, in the end.

farm with silos, pennsylvaniaWhich brings me back to …

If a writer has nothing to say, and no words with which to say it … And she trips over a fallen tree while running through the forest in order to escape her muses … Can you still hear the clacking of her keyboard? Can you still hear her scream?

 

 

 

 

Dear Tuesday,

a Dear Tuesday,

You suck. I tried to think of a kinder, gentler way of breaking this to you, but, really, what’s the point? You have single-handedly made this week a living pit of suckage and doom, and I don’t feel like sugar coating things to salvage your delicate sensibilities.

It was bad enough that your cohort, Monday, brought a blown-out tire. Yes, this was an unexpected and unpleasant surprise, but I could have dealt with it. “Oh, that’s Monday,” I told myself, “That’s just how Monday is. Tuesday will be better.”

Oh, how wrong I was, Tuesday. First, you forced me to waste away four hours of my life sitting around the tire shop, waiting for the repairs to my car. Let me repeat that, Tuesday, just in case you glossed over it: FOUR HOURS. This is practically an eternity, particularly when spent in a frigid room that would give the Arctic a run for its money. This is time I can never get back, Tuesday. You stole that from me. The one, shining bit of niceness in the entire situation was the fact that I was alone in the waiting room, and it was blessedly quiet and peaceful — until one of the shop’s employees came in to let me know I could turn on the TV, if I wanted. She proceeded to grab the remote and flip channels, staring blankly at me when I told her I preferred the quiet. Then she stopped at some inane game show, gave me a triumphant smile, and said, “There! That’s better, right?” before exiting the room. I know you sent her, Tuesday.

Just like I know you sent the manager who came after her, at the end of my four-hour ordeal. Believing I would be worn down from the wait, he then tried to con me into buying four new tires when all I needed was one. But I didn’t fall for it, Tuesday. I might have boobs, but that doesn’t mean I can’t tell when someone’s trying to cheat me. And so, I went on my way, thinking I had triumphed over you and your minions.

Ah, but you weren’t done with me yet, were you, Tuesday? Because you left me only enough time to race over to a favorite restaurant, take food to go, and gobble it in the car during the fifteen minutes of “down time” I had before picking my daughter up from school this afternoon. And then … once we got home, it turned out she had forgotten her math homework. So, we all got back into the car and headed back to school in order to retrieve it. I know you were laughing about it the entire time, Tuesday. Not cool.

Even so, I might have been able to overlook your snide attitude and catty amusement if we had been able to find my daughter’s math homework. But no … You denied me even this, Tuesday. The paper was nowhere to be found, leading to a frantic search of every bit of paper stuffed into my daughter’s overflowing backpack once we got home. And could you let us win, Tuesday? No, of course not.

And, even then, you hadn’t run out of tricks. Because this evening brought a stopped-up toilet — thanks so much for that, by the way, Tuesday. How very thoughtful of you. And an overly excited Springer Spaniel who jumped up and accidentally nipped my boob. That hurt, Tuesday. Don’t think I’ll be forgiving you for that one any time soon. I finally decided I had had enough of you. I figured a nice, hot shower would be enough to wash your stink off of me for good, but you had other plans, Tuesday. Because I managed to pop a blood vessel in my finger while opening my shampoo.

My shampoo, Tuesday. Seriously — how could you stoop so low? Is nothing sacred? It’s like you’re tossing flowers on my grave before my body is even cold.

And so, Tuesday, I regret to inform you that we must part ways. I bid you good luck and I hope you won’t let the door hit you on your way out. If you decide to come back around next week, I expect better from you, Tuesday. I know where you live.

No Love,

Me

 

The Little Things

I am grumpy. It hasn’t been a “grumpy day”, although I have been known to have more than my fair share of those. Overall, I think today was a lovely day. Nothing spectacular happened, and I had to run a few errands here and there. It was an ordinary day in every way, which — although it sounds terrible and boring — is a very nice thing in real life.

balloons in a store window. vienna vaAnd yet, here I am, banging away on my keyboard with a viciousness that surprises me. It’s like I turned around and that little voice in my head hollered at me, “Hey, you! Yeah, you! Don’t forget:  YOU’RE GRUMPY!!!” Even as I type this I am doing the growl-thing under my breath. You know, where you face up to something you don’t like by going “arrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” for several minutes so that only you can hear it. I know you’re sitting there right now giving your computer screen the stinky fish-eye look and thinking to yourself: “Heck no. I don’t do that. I’m sweet and kind all the time.” But we all know you do the growl-thing. We all do it, at one time or another.

things for sale. vienna vaIt’s funny how a bad mood can sneak up on a person. Often, it’s caused by The Little Things: those pesky annoyances that, on their own, are nothing. But, once they pile up together, look out!

My daughter is nine. It’s a great age and lots of fun … until it isn’t. Being nine seems to mean she is all about pushing her boundaries every moment of every day that we are together. There’s a lot of pretending not to hear what I’m saying to her and quite a bit of goofing around instead of doing the things she is supposed to do. She gets distracted easily. Homework takes about a hundred years, no matter how simple the task. Bath time takes about a hundred years. Getting ready for bed takes about a hundred years. Eating breakfast each morning takes about a hundred years. Putting on her shoes and finding her coat takes about a hundred years. I’m sure you get the picture. Of course, she’s a kid. All of this is part of being a nine-year-old kid, and it’s all normal. Usually, it’s not a big deal, but, when we have to go through the same routine day in and day out, it starts to wear on me.

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered an item online. This is something very special to me, and I had been awaiting its arrival with great eagerness. Today, it arrived. I was so excited and happy … until I opened the package and found my item had been broken during shipping. Darn you, US Postal Service! (I am sitting here making “the angry face” at my computer, by the way.)

I came home from a school function this evening to find my daughter had left her plate on the table when we ran out of the house earlier. While we were gone, Sister Kitty climbed up on the table and helped herself to the food left on the plate. Now I have to be on the look-out for hidden kitty barf. Because, of course, it will probably make her sick, and she will go off to some dark corner of the house to do her thing.

I wanted to make a blog post, but I didn’t have any photos ready. No big deal, I thought. I’ll just head onto iPhoto and find something that might work. Well, I was wrong. At first, iPhoto wouldn’t load. Once it loaded, it decided there were inconsistencies within my photo files, and it had to repair those. It felt like that process took forever and a day, particularly because I had to stop everything else I was doing at the time. Once the program decided it was done making repairs, I clicked the button to go back a screen and search for suitable pictures … and nothing happened. NOTHING. My whole computer froze. I had to force it to shut down, which meant I lost the first draft of this post. And still had to fiddle around and search for pictures.

To top it all off, I’m tired and ready to call it a day.

crosswalk button. vienna vaAnd so, I think that is exactly what I am going to do. I am going to finish this rambling post of madness, head into my bedroom, and curl up with an episode of Foyle’s War.  I have let The Little Things run away with the tail end of my day, but, instead of being angry with myself for this, I think I will be kind and compassionate. Because I deserve it. And because tomorrow is another day.

Perhaps I should be afraid …

To Whom It May Concern:

Dear Parking Lot Hog,

Yes, I’m talking to you, person who pulled right into the space next to me, shoving your car grossly over the line separating our spaces until your car and mine were touching noses. Really now, are you in that much of a hurry? Are you incapable of seeing how badly you have parked? Or is it that you just don’t care about the fact that, due to your crappy parking, I will barely be able to exit the space I am occupying.  If you are in such a hurry that you can’t be bothered to park properly, I would respectfully suggest you not sacrifice your precious time by going to the grocery store / ice cream shop / restaurant / clothing store which this parking lot serves. None of us would be offended if you decided to take your presence elsewhere in order to attend to the pressing business that, apparently, has you so flustered. If you genuinely can’t see and, thus, are unaware of the utter mess you’ve made of your parking attempt, you might want to think about taking public transportation in the future. I am not sure the road is safe with you on it. However, if — as I suspect — you just can’t be bothered to take the couple of seconds necessary to straighten out your car, it would behoove you to pull your head out of your butt and look around you. You are not the only person in the world. You aren’t even the only person in this parking lot. We’re all in this together, and life would be so much nicer if we all attempted to get along.

And you, gentle person who willy-nilly decided to straddle the parking space lines — thus taking up two spaces in an already-crowded lot — don’t think I have forgotten you. Perhaps it seems like a small thing, but your one thoughtless act has inconvenienced every person who comes into this lot behind you, until you finally decide to do all of us a favor by leaving. You have made each of their days a little bit the worse for wear. Congratulations. You must be very proud of your accomplishment.

As for you, person who MUST have my parking space, I am not sure if you realize this or not, but I need to exit the space before you can ram your oversized vehicle into it. I am no physics expert, but I am pretty sure two cars cannot, in fact, occupy the same space at the same time. I realize it is stressful and a bit frightening to find the entire parking level occupied. After all, if you have to circle the lot one more time or — even worse! — travel to another level to park, your head might explode. That would be unpleasant and messy for everyone. I am not unsympathetic, but you were the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back of my patience this morning. Once I had convinced you to move your car enough so that I could exit my parking space, I am ashamed to admit I drove away thinking pleasant thoughts of whopping  you over the head with a two-by-four.

The thing is, I am not that person. Unlike all of you, I fully realize I am not the only human in existence in this world. I even realize I am not the most important person around — no matter how many times my mother might have told me otherwise. I managed to get through grade school and even middle and high school, so I learned, a long time ago, that we all have to share. I will not let you ruin my day, no matter how determined you seem to be to do just that.

And so, I shall take a deep breath and seek inner peace by thinking of things that bring me happiness.

Like a cute turtle with a cherry blossom on its head (and back):

cherry blossom turtle: meadowlark botanical gardensOr a busy bee, humming to himself as he searches out the sweetest flowers:

bee and purple flower: meadowlark botanical gardensOr cherry blossoms, which haven’t yet been blown away by the wind:

cherry blossoms: meadowlark botanical gardensOr bright blue beads in the springtime sunshine:

beads in a pot of cactus: meadowlark botanical gardensWith that task completed, I shall take a deep breath … ask forgiveness for my uncharitable thoughts … and go about my merry way.

With love and kindness,

Me