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Grant Street

I don’t know where the days went. I’m so behind on the 40 Days of Writing project that I am just going to have to wrap it all up here. I think it’s day 40. Or maybe yesterday was Day 40?

The past two weeks have been a giant blur of packing, cleaning, moving, and manual labor. I am physically exhausted and living in house full of boxes. I got up at 4am on Monday morning and put the second coat of paint on the bathroom walls. I couldn’t sleep thinking of so much I still have left to do. Mike found me on a ladder in a pink babydoll and old sneakers. I wouldn’t let him take my picture.

I have no idea where anything is. Last night I hunted for a bar of soap for 15 minutes. I opened the linen closet three times before Mike opened it a fourth time and discovered the soap. He kindly said, “A fresh pair of eyes were needed.”¬† Because I’m saving my vacation days for a real vacation, there has been no time to unpack and get settled because I have to go to work every day. I manage to do a little bit each evening, but not enough to make a real dent because up until last night, there was still stuff to do at our old places when we got off work.

For the two people who read my blog that don’t know me personally, I moved out of my own place, as did my boyfriend, and we moved into a house together. In tow with him are two little boys, ages 4 (Liam) and 2 (Finn), who will be with us 50% of the time.

The big move was this past weekend and with the boys returning to us Sunday night, the first order of business was to get their new bunk beds set up. Success! They loved their new room and slept through the night. Liam took the top bunk and Finn took the bottom, which is the way we thought it should go, but last night (they were with Mom on Monday and Tuesday nights) they switched places. We have no idea why. There wasn’t even any sort of argument between them about who gets which bed so apparently they had a lengthy discussion without us knowing.

Food is a problem. We’ve only shopped for essentials, meaning food for the boys and for the cat. I’ve managed to eat a pretty good lunch at work each day, but dinner is another matter. On Monday night, Mike and I were both at our old places. I ate a dill pickle right before I put the jar in a box and I think Mike managed a slice of bread with peanut butter. On Tuesday I had chocolate and wine for dinner. I don’t know what he ate. Oh, wait. I remember. A $3 burrito from somewhere. Last night Mike went with Sarah in her truck to move the very last of his things from his apartment. Before he left, he fixed the boys a spinach and cheese quesadilla. I said to Liam, “you aren’t going to eat all three of those, are you?” He’s a good sharer.

Sex is a problem, too. Wait. Sex is not a problem. Having sex has been a problem. It’s been a week! No, eight days! Or is it nine? Who’s counting?! Mike’s counting. We aren’t worried, that’s for sure. We are just too damn tired. We tried last night. We even got the boys to sleep at a reasonable hour, but then we fell asleep mid-kiss. Tonight! No kids! No previous dwellings to finish! Yeah, tonight! Maybe.

I feel like I look like hell, though. I look tired. When I was getting into bed on Tuesday night, Mike told me I was beautiful. I rolled my eyes. I always try to take a compliment, but I wasn’t feeling very beautiful. I haven’t spent much time on me. I managed to clip my fingernails that night because they drive me nuts when they are too long, but there is still paint underneath them. My hair needs a good conditioning and a cut. The ends are starting to resemble a Brillo pad. I put my hair in a french braid this morning to hide the frizz. French braids make me feel Mormon (no offense). I even said, “keep sweet,” to a co-worker.

Ah well, I’m tired, but happy. Mike is happy, the boys are happy, and Maeby is happy. We will find a place for everything soon enough. Just like these little guys did in our bathtub.

tub

 

 

Happy Birthday, Maeby!

I’ve chosen April 1st as Maeby’s birthday. I don’t know exactly when she was born, but it had to be right around this time because when she and her litter mates were found, they looked to be about eight weeks and that was the first week of June.

Feral Litter found at the winery where I work.

Feral litter found at the winery where I work.

I can’t believe this feisty little girl has been with me for 10 months! We’ve grown rather fond of each other. Actually, I think we are both slightly obsessed with each other. I think I annoy my boyfriend a little with how much I dote on this cat. Don’t get me wrong, he loves her too, but I think he feels left out sometimes. She obviously likes me more than him.

Baby Maeby

Baby Maeby

She used to like him.

She used to like him.

Last night while I was getting ready for bed, she apparently tried to attack him. He said she puffed up and came at him sideways and that it was a real vicious attack to his face as he lay in bed and that he had to throw the cover between them and push her back. I told him she was just playing. He disagreed. This bothered me a little bit. Since he doesn’t stay over every night, I’m wondering if she resents him being in the bed with us. She does her best to come between us, that’s for sure.

No caption necessary.

No caption necessary.

Anyway, they need to come to an understanding because I’m not planning to get rid of either of them.

Birthday Girl

Birthday Girl

Brown Street

I am a failure at 40 Days of Writing! (Melodramatic). I have not written in the past four days! But I have a good excuse. I’m moving on Saturday and I have been cleaning and packing and organizing and freaking out.

I’m super excited about where my life is going, and extremely happy that the house I’m going to is right around the corner; literally steps away from where I am now, but it’s slightly bittersweet. And here’s why:

The cottage was mine. All mine. It’s where I learned to be happy on my own. It’s where my broken parts healed. It’s where I was able to turn the key, walk in and find comfort in being alone. It was a refuge rather than an empty house. It’s where I painted the walls, resurfaced cabinets, hung closet doors and shutters, installed a ceiling fan and new light fixtures. And when that was done, I went outside and trimmed blackberry bushes, pulled weeds and planted flowers.

It’s where Sarah is. She’s in the front house and I’m in the back. And when she bought the property almost three years ago and told me there was a granny unit cottage, I was super excited, but then she showed it to me and I said, “I don’t know if I can live here.” And she said we would redo it with new floors and new counters and new appliances and a new porch and she did all that. And together we brought it from a dark, dank, old smelly granny unit to the adorable place that it is today.

It’s going to be hard not to think of it as my own any longer. It’s going to be hard thinking of someone else walking on the floors, taking a bath, and cooking on the stove. My stove.

It’s where my heart opened up. It opened so wide that I’m ready for the next chapter in the story of my life.

 

 

 

 

Carmel by the Sea

Times weren’t all bad with my first husband. Interspersed among things that are difficult to think about are times that make me smile. Mostly they are things recalled about my son as a toddler, who to me, was the cutest, funniest little boy on the planet.

The cottage, found and stolen from Googlemaps.

The cottage, found and stolen from Googlemaps.

When Jarrod was almost four years old, we moved to Carmel. We rented a tiny cottage for $750 per month, the most we had ever paid for any place we had ever lived. Jarrod’s dad, Joe, had been an operating engineer and injured his back, which resulted in surgery and vocational rehabilitation. He went back to school and became a different kind of engineer; a recording engineer and somehow landed a job at a studio in Monterey.

On the day we arrived with our moving van, the elderly woman who lived next door came over to welcome us. Then she insisted we come over for something to eat before we unloaded. She fixed scrambled eggs with fresh peas. It was the first time I discovered that I liked peas.

We lived in the cottage for less than a year and those were the best of days between Joe and I. There was a magical bubble of bliss that surrounded the little place. I have no bad memories in that house. Perhaps it was just because it was Carmel, a place unlike any place we had ever lived before. It felt like an extended vacation. Jarrod and I would walk our dogs to town everyday to pick up the mail because there was no delivery to the homes downtown. Until a post office box became available our address was General Delivery, Carmel, CA 93921.

The cottage was damp and cold, but we had a stone fireplace that we lit almost daily, even in the summer. The kitchen had a huge vintage stove with a built-in griddle where too many pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches were served from. It took Jarrod a little while to adjust. Having seen my mother almost daily since the day he was born, he missed her terribly. He would randomly burst into tears and tell me he wanted her. When he got mad at me for any little act of discipline he would say, “I wanna go live with my Nonna.” It was adorably sweet and heartbreaking at the same time.

It was here that a boy named Jason showed up. Jason didn’t really exist, but in Jarrod’s mind. It was a textbook case of an imaginary friend. I think it might have been a result of losing the first real playmate that he’d ever had back in the town from where we moved. There was a little boy named Jimmy that lived across the street and in the year leading up to our move they played together often.

I’m not sure where the name Jason came from. He had certainly never seen “Friday, the 13th,” and we didn’t know anyone named Jason. Jarrod talked to him and about him everyday. I worried at first, but after a phone call with his pediatrician who told me it was perfectly normal and that the timing made sense, Joe and I began to go along with it. Jarrod would stop what he was doing several times a day to tell me something about Jason. One day I asked him if Jason was coming with us to get the mail and he said, “Jason already went to pick up his mail.” Another day he told me Jason didn’t like to walk.

There weren’t any other children for Jarrod to play with in the neighborhood, but our elderly neighbor had a grandson who would visit. He was a mixed-race child with the most beautiful skin tone. One day, after playing with him all day, Jarrod asked, “Can I play with that green kid again tomorrow?”

I’m not sure why we moved from there. I recall it was tiny, but that didn’t seem to be a good enough reason. Joe and I were both working in Monterey, which wasn’t much of a commute. But we did move to a bigger house in Monterey, and sadly, that was the last house that the three of us would ever share together. The bubble of bliss was about to burst.

 

 

 

 

 

These Guys

My boyfriend threw his back out. I feel partly responsible because I went with him to move a couple of 15-gallon kegs full of wine on Saturday and when he went to lift them, I said, “let me help you,” because they had to be lifted up into the back of a truck. When I grabbed hold of one side and he the other and started to lift, I then said, “I can’t do this. I can’t lift this at all.” He took over and proceeded to lift them both into the truck. I worried about his back. Rightly so.

On Sunday (yesterday) we planned a five-mile run with friends. He had his boys on Saturday night so he would be pushing them in the double stroller while he ran. He stopped to pick me up in the morning and came in to get his running shoes. He said, “I think I tweaked my back a little yesterday.” I told him I wasn’t surprised. I mentioned that perhaps he shouldn’t run, but he thought he was okay. So off we went on the five-mile hilly run.

Later in the afternoon he texted that both boys were napping so he was going to try to nap too. Meanwhile, I helped Sarah shovel dirt and gravel for a couple hours for her new home project. Then I heard from Mike. His back was gone and he still needed to shop for dinner and cook for the boys. Of course I said I would do it. I scrapped my plans to watch Walking Dead with Sarah, then picked up groceries and went to take care of them. All three of them.

I made dinner, fed them, cleaned the kitchen, walked on Mike’s back, and got them all settled into bed to watch a movie before I went home. Exhausted, but feeling happy and satisfied, I sat on the couch knowing my cat would be on my lap the second I did, and then I broke the news to her that we would soon be outnumbered.

Guys

 

Tiny Bits

A little girl lies on her bed
daydreaming,
watching dust particles float above her head in the stream of sunlight

she builds a fort in the backyard
using old blankets and scraps from the new roof
a pretend house with real flowers
Camellias

she dips buttered toast into runny yolk
leaving behind the white part
then hurries to dress for school

methodically she puts on her blue plaid skirt,
white sailor top, red sweater, white knee socks,
and polished white oxfords

she draws pictures with a stick in the dirt
while her brother plays baseball, and
her parents cheer

she plays with her white poodle
the one she has to catch after feeding him spaghetti
so she can wash his face

she roller skates, draws hopscotch in the driveway, and
runs with the neighborhood kids
until the street lights come on

she adores her father, whose whiskers
make her cheeks red when he kisses her, and
his voice wakes her every morning with a song.

The Mean Boy

High school when I was growing up were grades 10 thru 12. Us 15-year old girls were walking into uncharted territory. I had gone to Catholic School until 8th grade and then my parents released me to public school. I did one year at junior high during which my grades suffered horribly. I managed to get back on track toward the end of the year, but the first half of the year was nothing but a whirlwind of making new friends and getting into trouble. Nothing major, just fooling around most of the time and not caring about anything but having a good time. There was the threat of going back to Catholic school if I didn’t pull my grades up, so I did, because I had every intention of going to the high school that all my friends would be going to.

Shortly after starting 10th grade, my friends and I went to some house party we’d heard about. A friend’s older sister introduced me to a Senior boy who was a classmate of her’s. I’ll call him Mark. He was adorable. I liked him immediately and the attraction seemed mutual. We sat outside on a wooden bench and I took sips from his beer while we chatted freely about I don’t remember what. When my girlfriends came to get me, he asked for my phone number. I took a little notebook and pen from my blue tie-dyed hobo bag, wrote down my number, and handed it to him.

He called. When I told my parents about him, they were a little concerned. I was barely 15 and he was turning 18 before I turned 16. I was a young 15. At that point, I had barely made it past first base with a boy. The furthest I’d gone was a little caressing while fully clothed, and I had never touched a boy down there. Not that my parents knew any of that, but they knew I was pretty innocent. They relented after meeting him. It turned out they knew of his family and they were nice people.

Mark and I started “going out.” He had a job and his own car so I considered him to be my first official dating experience. We were seen around school holding hands, he would come over and hang out with my family, and we would go on dates to dinner and movies. Of course we started making out, and there was some “feeling up,” but he hadn’t pushed for anything further in the first month that we were dating. He was very sweet and gentle, and I had the feeling that he might be inexperienced too.

One night after a movie we parked in a dark corner of a church parking lot. We started making out and I could feel that things were getting a little hot between the both of us. Mark began to undo the button on my jeans and I stopped him. I just wasn’t ready. I had no idea how far he wanted to go and I really don’t think there was anything wrong with him doing that. We were both on the same page at that point, but I didn’t want to go any further. I was still very nervous about sexual activity.

The minute I stopped him, he stopped. I found myself apologizing and trying to explain, but he cut me off. He was sweet about it. He told me it was okay and started up the car. When we pulled up to the front of my house, he asked me if I still had that little notebook in my bag. I told him I did. He said he wanted to write me a note. I was a little puzzled, but I handed him the notebook and pen. He turned it so I couldn’t see what he was writing and then he handed it back to me and told me not to read it until I was alone and in my room. We kissed goodnight and said our goodbyes.

I raced passed my parents, ran upstairs to my room, closed the door and took out the notebook. It took me a second to find the page where he had wrote the note. I was expecting something sweet. What I found was, “D.T.” For those of you who don’t know what that means, it was a very well-used acronym back when I was in high school. It meant “Dick Tease.”

MORTIFIED does not even begin to describe how I felt at that moment. I was in shock. Needless to say, we broke up. And the reason we broke up was because I wouldn’t have sex with him. It came to light later that he thought calling me a dick tease would spur me into proving him wrong.

Several years later, after I was married and pregnant with my son, a friend from high school called me with the news that Mark had committed suicide. I was shocked and felt very sad for his family. Apparently he was despondent over the breakup of his marriage. My friend told me that he left a suicide note putting all the blame onto his wife. That part didn’t surprise me at all. I’m certainly not comparing the awful note he left for his wife with what he wrote on my note, but I saw a pattern there.

I skipped Day 15

I didn’t write yesterday. I had a story in my head, but I will probably leave that for tomorrow. I’m not in the mood for that one today. I didn’t write yesterday because I didn’t have a minute to sit down and do it. And I haven’t had much time today, but I’ll try to type some words here and make it half-way interesting.

Friday night had me taking a friend to the ER. Turns out the suspected stomach flu was a bowel obstruction that resulted in surgery. I’m still wrestling with the guilt of thinking it really wasn’t something all that serious. The guilt comes from back and forth texting rather than jumping in the car immediately. Ultimately, I did jump in the car with my boyfriend to go pick her up and after he brought her from the house, I drove as fast as I could and ran stop signs on purpose.

The shameful hospital selfie before we knew it was serious.

The shameful hospital selfie before we knew it was serious.

So yesterday was hectic. We visited our friend (she’s going to be fine), went for a run, went grocery shopping, made empanadas, and then I went to a “girls only” birthday party. Having not slept much Friday night due to a late night at the hospital, 2am texts to check on progress, and worry, I fell into a deep sleep by 9:30pm.

Today was a bike ride, a beer, laundry, and the wonderful news that my son ran his first 5K. This was wonderful to me because I recalled a consultation with his Radiation Oncologist over eleven years ago (post chemo-pre radiation) where he said something to the effect, “You won’t be a runner.”

Fuck cancer.

Taxis in Jamaica

Jamaica
I once went to Jamaica and thought I wouldn’t make it out alive. My husband took me for my 40th birthday. The 1.5 hour taxi ride from the airport to the hotel was my first brush with death. On a two-lane winding road the driver passed other cars on blind corners all the while honking his horn as he did so.

The driver also stopped at several beverage stands along the way so that we could buy drugs that we didn’t want. I guess he had a partnership with these dudes in shacks selling cold drinks. When we declined at the first shack, he stopped at another. So we bought some weed because we figured¬† he would keep stopping until a purchase was complete.

The resort itself was amazing. It was on perched on a rocky cliff. There was no beach, but it didn’t matter. And it was protected surrounded by a 30-foot wall. This was the kind of place you went to completely shut down from the outside world, not one of those all-inclusive-tons-of-stuff-to-do type places. In the four days I was there, I snorkeled, swam, lay topless by the pool, read three books, sipped fruity cocktails and visited the spa a couple times.

On the third day, I was going a little stir crazy and wanted to go to a restaurant in the city of Negril. It was advised not to take a passing taxi for safety reasons, and to only take one that the hotel called. Unbeknownst to me, because I was lagging behind, I hopped into a passing taxi flagged down by my husband.

I looked around the van I was seated in and realized the entire inside of it was destroyed. The bench seat I was on wasn’t bolted and I was sliding all over the van. There was no fabric on the roof or the sides. There was nothing but exposed metal. I saw a handmade sign on a stick next to the driver that said, “TAXI.” This was not a taxi. This man was going to rob and kill us. Surprisingly, he didn’t. He was just out trying to make extra money because he had five kids and his job as an ambulance driver didn’t pay enough.

We had him return for us in two hours to take us back to the hotel. It was dark then and the thought crossed my mind that he might slit our throats on the way back.

We left the next day and endured another harrowing ride (of horn honking while blind corner passing) back to the airport where this driver made no stops at the beverage stands. I guess they didn’t expect us to buy drugs when we going to be getting on a plane.

Geography Lessons

I sat my six-year old son down and told him we were moving to Atlanta, Georgia. I took out a map of the United States and showed him how far away that was from the living room floor in which we sat in Pebble Beach, California. All he knew was that he wouldn’t be seeing his father every other weekend, but that actually wasn’t a bad thing. It was time to put some distance between us and him. Things were still volatile.

I often wonder if my attorney and his attorney, who were friends, made a backdoor agreement about me moving my son out of state. I was expecting a fight, but there nothing except a court ordered six-week visit with his father before we left California.

In the time leading up to our move, I brought books home from the library about the state of Georgia for us to look through. I wanted to find things that would excite him about going.

My husband left before us. He had been hired by a large hotel company and the job was in Atlanta. I stayed behind for two more months so my son could finish school then I reluctantly left him with his father while I went to set up house in the unfamiliar city.

Two weeks later I drove to the hotel to meet my husband for dinner.  I had just hung the last picture on the wall in our new apartment. When I walked into his office he told me he had good news and bad news. The good news was that he had been promoted, the bad news was that it was in Philadelphia.

I called my son and asked him if he knew where the Liberty Bell was.

Jarrod and my dad on the road trip across the country that delivered him to me.

Jarrod and my dad, on the road trip across the country that delivered him to me.

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