Finding “Baseline”

It’s done.

Over.

The monkey is gone. No more scratching, clawing and making our lives a constant uncertainty day after day after day after… You get the idea.

We closed. The old house is gone. In the capable hands of new owners who will love and care for and fit in the house, hopefully for many years to come.

Closing was $550 more than we were expecting.

So we’re that much farther behind. The scratch marks the monkey left behind are deep and raw and still quite tender. Christmas giving is going to be minimal this year. I’m estimating we will be recovered from the shortfall by January.

Just in time for taxes. We may bite the bullet and get an actual accountant this year, Between taxes on My Mom’s alimony, property tax on our house, rental income and expenses on the old house and the sale at a loss, this is going to be even more confusing than last year. BUT, an accountant will cost about $500 so I’m still going to try to do it myself. I don’t know if we can justify the expense when we’re already going to end up paying (probably a sizeable chunk) of taxes based on My Mom’s alimony. Yet again I voice my opinion that it is completely unfair that he gets a tax break on alimony and she has to pay taxes. The judges told her the settlement was inequitable in his favor in the first place, this just makes it that much worse. It’d be nice if he would pay some of the rest of the settlement off, her half of the house and all since she doesn’t have to pay taxes on that.

So anyway. Finances are still a giant clusterfuck and will continue to be for a while. We’ve passed the mess with the old house and survived and eventually, we will be better off.

There are lots of things that need to be done in our house that are just going to have to wait for now. We have to replace the front and side doors. The draft that comes in from the door on the side is enough to blow papers off of The Peach’s little drawing desk. And the front door isn’t much better. The pellet stove that we invested in last year is losing the battle to the drafts and so we are dumping money into both pellets and oil trying to combat the cold. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts this winter will be even colder and snowier than the last. Joy. It’s October 23. It snowed all last weekend. Just flurries and honestly not earlier than usual for our neck of the woods, but still a rude awakening that summer and autumn have flown by too fast and the only thing we have left to show for it are a few tail feathers consisting of an overgrown lawn and a pool full of fallen leaves.

Finances aside, I’m still reeling. I have this nagging anxiety that won’t go away. Like I’m waiting for something else to happen and the proverbial shit is going to hit the proverbial fan and we’ll be proverbially fucked. All the months of living in this constant state of stress and uncertainty have left me feeling shaky and unstable like I can’t get my feet on solid ground. I can’t concentrate. I can’t motivate myself. I am not functioning at my best right now. Which is totally annoying. I’m used to being sharp. On it. Capable. I’m none of those things right now. And it’s not a depression thing. I don’t think. Just this general film of unease that is clouding up my vision and clogging up my inner workings so my gears have to grind in order to move.

I don’t really remember normal. At least, normal for me. But I’d like to get there again. I’d like to find that sense of stability where things go wrong occasionally, but they’re not spirit-crushing catastrophes that leave me hopeless and slightly crazy. I’d like to get back to baseline. Back to a place where I can post in my blog and do my job and take care of my kids and do all those things that I’m normally capable of. Because the monkey is gone. And I want to be me again.

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Wow… Too Long…

So yes, it’s been a ridiculously long time. Like, ri-DONK-u-lous as my supervisor is apt to say.

And I am composing a “Where the eff have I been” post currently, but today, I first want to say…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PRINCESS PUNK!

16 years ago today I became a mom for the first time. I was 20. I was clueless. I was terrified. And here I was with this tiny little angry potato (seriously, that’s what she looked like… newborn babies are not generally cute) that I didn’t know what to do with and yet loved with every ounce of my being. She was red. And angry. And just as clueless as I was.

Princess Punk has had a lot of obstacles in her life. I never should have gotten pregnant in the first place. Wait… That came out weird. What I meant… I’ve had poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) since puberty. I got my period 4 times a year, if that. It’s why we went through fertility treatments to get The Peach. So for me to have an “oops” pregnancy at 19 was actually kind of a miracle. When The Zen Master and I went in for our consultation for the fertility study, the nurse who interviewed us was genuinely surprised that I already had a child. She said that the chances of me conceiving without help would have been ridiculously low. But she got here.

Then, she ended up in the hospital on day 5 with severe dehydration, failure to thrive and an enlarged heart because I listened to the Nazi lactation nurse and refused to give her a bottle. What neither of us knew is that, due to wicked hormonal imbalances (i.e. PCOS), my milk would never come in, despite every effort to the contrary. So my little Princess nearly starved to death (quite literally) before she’d ever really had a chance at life. She rebounded quickly on formula and I got to wear this ridiculous contraption taped to my chest so she could still nurse while actually getting formula. But she made it.

I was unmedicated, undermedicated or poorly medicated throughout the first 5 years of Princess Punk’s life. As a result I had 2 suicide attempts and ended up hospitalized 3 times. Princess Punk was placed in my parents’ custody for some time and we shared custody for several years. When they moved here to VT, I stayed in FL to finish college and she came here to live with them. The Sperm Donor rarely saw her and when he did, he denied she was his and was downright mean to her. I recall once, when she was an infant, sitting in her car seat, he put his face about 6″ away from hers and yelled, just to make her cry. Asshole. And I myself was not a great mother to her in the beginning. I’d drop her off with various people and go out and smoke pot and drink with “my boys” while I left her at her paternal grandmother’s house (Sperm Donor’s mom) or some other really inappropriate place. Or just leave her with my parents while I did my own thing.  She has had to deal with a lot of issues surrounding those formative years where I was kinda just a sucky mom. But she did it.

And then The D-Monster reared it’s massively ugly head. And since then she’s struggled with ignorance and illness and high blood sugar and low blood sugar and medical releases and being turned away from the local summer camp because “they didn’t have the capacity to care for a child with uncontrolled diabetes.” That one still pisses me off. She’s 100 times better with compliance since her surgery got canceled and she decided she finally is ready to stop letting the D-Monster control her life. She still struggles. But she gets it.

Princess Punk blew my mind from day one. She continues to do so every day, in both good ways and bad. She has grown to become an amazing young woman. She is intelligent, kind, talented, beautiful, strong and brave. Even a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes has not stopped her from doing well in school, playing on Varsity Soccer (yes, starting on varsity as a sophomore), being a caring friend, a loving big sister and an amazing daughter and granddaughter. She is a force of nature, unwavering and unstoppable in her achieving her dreams. I am SO proud of you babygirl, Happy Birthday!

Oh, and BTW Princess Punk…

I Love you Forever,

I Like you For Always,

Even When You’re All Grown Up,

My Baby You’ll Be.

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Driving me crazy… Oh. Wait.

Ok. So I’m already crazy.

I’m just incredibly irritated.

Because I finally have a working computer and a place to sit that has been deemed dont-you-ever-sit-there-or-put-your-sister-there-that-is-MY-space. And I’m having some weird sort of writer’s block. It’s not like i can’t write anything at all, I think I’ve posted more in the last 2 weeks than I did for the entire summer, but it’s that I’ve had all these fantastic posts bubbling around in my head and now I can’t seem to access them.

It’s like our pool. We have this lovely pool (that I personally never go in, but everybody else does) and it sits under two lovely trees. So there is constantly all manner of leaves and bugs and sticks and stuff in there that has to be skimmed out. Fine. But then The Peach decided that the skimmer was a really cool shovel and proceeded to (in the span of about 30 seconds while we weren’t looking) dig in the stones by the house and put several large holes in it. So you skim the pool, and everything just slips through the skimmer. Some stuff gets caught, but if you don’t grab it right away, the flow of the water pushes it right through one of those big Peach pits.

Which is where my brain is at right now. I have all these fantastic posts that are practically already written, but I keep dipping into the thought pool to skim them and they just quietly slip through the holes. And yeah, a couple get caught, but if I don’t get them written right away (like this past weekend), they stick briefly, then swish through. If I’m lucky I’ll get another shot if it swirls around again, but I think most of them just break down and get absorbed back into the larger thought flow.

Is there such thing as a thought pool vacuum?

Not Ready to Make Nice…

You’ve heard that song right? Dixie Chicks? Responding to the backlash they got from Natalie Maines saying she was ashamed George W. Bush was from Texas? I was listening to it the other day and it made me think about my (current lack of) relationship with my father.

Forgive, sounds good

I can do that. I want to do that.  I know that in his mind, it is my fault, and I sent him to jail and I know that he doesn’t forgive me for that, no matter how justified it was.

 Forget, I’m not sure I could.

Not a chance. A year later and I still wonder if I’ll ever be able to be alone with him without being absolutely terrified. I still have nightmares.

They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting

It will happen. And I am healing. Slowly.

I’m through with doubt
There’s nothing left for me to figure out

I know what happened. I have a vague idea why, at least on a long-term basis. He completely lost his shit. And I was screaming too, don’t get me wrong. But there is no doubt in my mind, or in anyone’s who was involved that he was wrong and no matter what I have apparently done to him throughout my life to make him so angry, so full of rage and hate that I knew that I was going to die that day, he still went so far over the line that he obliterated it completely.

 I’ve paid a price
And I’ll keep paying

Physically, mentally and emotionally. Even financially. And the fact remains that no matter what happens from this point on, even though he will always be my father, I lost my Daddy that day.

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round

I’m not going to rethink this over and over again in my head.

 It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could

It will never be right. We may reconcile at some point, but what happened will always be there, hanging over our heads. The big, ugly, deformed, elephant in the room that neither of us will be able to talk about. And it should be there. I will not be safe, at least not emotionally if that elephant pokes its twisted, hairy trunk into anything we might be able to salvage.

‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I won’t apologize. I will not. Don’t get me wrong, I said some really nasty shit. But my apologies were cried into my pillow and screamed out in the middle of the night and aching in my hip and jaw and catching my eye with the floater that will always be there, hanging out in the lower left corner of my visual field.

I know you said
Can’t you just get over it

Honestly, I don’t know. He may not even give a shit. He may be relieved he doesn’t have to deal with me anymore. He may be vindicated that I still cry when I think about it (like now)

 It turned my whole world around
And I kind of like it

Things are better for us. I never realized how worried I was about My Mom until she came to live with us. How there was this constant, nagging worry that one day I would get a phone call that he had lost it, not with me, but with her. And he would have killed her. No question. I fought back. She couldn’t have, or wouldn’t have. We’re safe, a new kind of family, and even with the stress and logistics still being worked out, I do kind of like it.

I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’

Ok, I never slept like a baby. But now, despite the occasional persistent nightmare, getting fewer and farther in-between, I am sleeping better than I did. We’re safe now.

It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger

He’s not a stranger, but he probably will be to The Peach. And Princess Punk still doesn’t know how she is supposed to feel about it. But I won’t teach them to hate him. They shouldn’t. He offered to take The Princess shopping for her birthday. When I told her that it was a possibility and asked her how she felt about it, she said, “Um… I don’t really know.” It wasn’t teenage apathy. She just doesn’t know.

And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over

There was no letter. Just a rushing force that (quite literally) knocked me down.

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I can bring myself to be his daughter. I love him. But I can’t bring myself to be the person I was. The person who always listened to him, and believed him when he told me I was fat. Or an idiot. Or worthless. Or a manipulative little bitch. Because I’m not. And I won’t see myself through his eyes anymore.

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting

Another financial rant.

That Man, my father, has yet to pay his alimony this month.

Granted, it is only a few days late and he probably just forgot, but here’s the thing…

Money is tight at the moment. Like, our mortgage is due tomorrow and if The Zen Master and I pay My Mom’s share too, we will be down to about $50 and the mortgage on the other house is due 3 days after that. And we won’t get the rent for the other house until the 15th.

Things have been a little bit squeezed the past two months.

wpid-back-to-school-shopping.png.pngPrincess Punk started High School last week and the amount of money we had to lay down to get her ready was ridiculous. She needed new clothes. Not like, “I just have to have something new for school Mom,” but Holy Crap this girl has put on about 10lbs of pure muscle, her body shape has changed again and the jeans she has look like leggings, assuming she can actually zip them. And I promised her that there would be minimal thrift shop deals this year. I actually like shopping at the thrift shop. I like getting compliments on my clothes and being able to say, “This? 2 bucks. No, seriously. Great find right?” Princess Punk, not so much. Especially considering the difficulty shopping for her body shape anyway and the fact that she actually wants to be more individual and have her own style. Which I really can’t argue with.

So clothes, binders, pencils and a new backpack (the old one is busted and the other ones we have are apparently too small).

Then soccer. She did NOT make varsity, but only because there are not enough JV players. She has been playing with both JV and varsity so it’s clear that the coach still recognizes how awesome she is. Oh, and the coach and the sweeper, who is currently a senior, are “grooming” The Princess to be sweeper on varsity next year. Meaning she will pretty much be running the defense as a sophomore. Fucking-A, that’s MY girl. Unfortunately… She generally has practice or games 6/7 days a week. Practice consists of a 2 mile run and then an hour-long (or longer) practice. She needed running shoes. New cleats. New shin guards. And, since the uniform didn’t include socks, a pair each of white and green soccer socks. $10 per pair. Seriously.

Oh, and don’t forget the first $200 installment for the Girl’s Soccer July ’15 trip to Venice. Granted, she doesn’t have to do that, but it is such an amazing opportunity and if we do some fundraising and participate in the team fundraisers which get split evenly amongst participating girls, we can scrape together the $3200 for her to go. Plus we’ll have to come up with another 3 grand for My Mom, since I am SO not comfortable sending a diabetic 15-year-old to Europe without a family member. And it’ll be nice for Mom to travel. Her half is likely to come out of her rapidly dwindling 401K though.

Grocery shopping… With school starting and Princess Punk busy from sunup to sundown between high school homework load and 12 hours of soccer a week plus travel to away games (yesterday’s game was in St. Johnsbury, easily an hour each way), we have decided to provide her with as much “on-the-go” food as humanly possible. Because of the D-Monster, she needs to make sure she has food available all day. And making PBJ sandwiches isn’t particularly realistic since they 1. get mashed and 2. are not a fast snack for a kid with braces. So a $450 trip to Costco for the basics (TP, paper towels, sugar, splenda, etc.) and a shit-ton of pre-packaged granola bars, muffins, cheese crackers, protein bars and microwave meals for her to scarf if she has 5 minutes between school and practice. And lots of PowerAde Zero.

I'd say it weighs about 6oz?

I’d say it weighs about 6oz?

Because Princess Punk her insulin pump is the size of a pager (remember those?) and is attached to her infusion site on her arm or leg with super-thin tubing, it can get yanked out, or even hurt other girls while playing. So she is not able to wear her pump during practice or a game. so 2 hours without an insulin pump = blood sugars in the 4-500’s. Since her body knows that’s totally fucked up, the first thing it does is pull all the water out of her cells in an attempt to flush the sugar out of her blood. It’s why diabetics have to pee a lot. It’s also why she gets dehydrated when she plays.  Blood sugars in the 4-500’s + hot and humid weather = a 32oz PowerAde and about a half-gallon of water (if possible) every day.

So there’s that. Then the super-high electric bill (not enjoying the pool, but at least everyone else is), various expenses here and there and I FINALLY got the bill for my responsiblity from the jaw surgery I had a year-and-a-half ago. Four. Thousand. Dollars. After insurance.

wpid-pro-obamacare-photo-1.jpgBut universal healthcare is a bad idea. Fuck you Michele Bachmann.

And in that same vein… I have recently started Abilify. Which is freaking amazing. Like wonder-drug amazing. But thanks to Big Pharma bending us over the pharmacy counter and sticking it to us in a not happy way, my co-pay, after insurance is over $400 a month. I got my first month free and there is some kind of coupon to pay up to $200 (I think) of refill co-pays, but that’s still over $200 a month. For a drug that actually works. So far, anyway. not sure what I’m going to do when I run out of my first month supply.

My Mom’s healthcare premiums for her multiple medicare, medicare supplemental, prescription and prescription… whatever, are an arm and a leg, which I suppose means they can just get more money from you after they amputate. On top of all that, her prescription co-pays vary so much, we have no idea what to budget for, but it seems they are at least $200 a month.

And My Mom… My Mom seems to be having some kind of blood pressure reaction to one of her psych meds. So the idea was to wean her off of it. Simple right? Not so. A few days after dropping just one of her 3 doses in a day threw her into a downward spiral that was honestly quite terrifying. She saw her therapist and my (and now hers too) medication APRN yesterday. She is most likely going to go to the hospital for a week just to get her off this stupid drug that makes her BP drop 10-15 points when she stands up. And hopefully find something to replace it with. Because titrating down the medication at home is a scary prospect given the fact I had to have Our Therapist call her and confirm she wasn’t actively suicidal.

That last one wasn’t exactly financial. Except for the fact that I may need to cut back on OT in order to make the childcare schedule work. But honestly, I need My Mommy WAY more than I need an extra $200 this month.

 

Itsy-Bitsy? I don’t think so.

I dislocated my shoulder trying to kill a spider.

With a flip-flop.

Seriously.

It was only very briefly, and not like, a full-blown, screaming pain, movie-style, have-a-shot-of-alcohol-and-1-2-3-clunk dislocation. I was fortunate to have an appointment already scheduled with my physical therapist the following day, so I figured I’d just talk to her about it. She confirmed my suspicions and advised me that this was what is called a subluxation, where the shoulder is not completely out of the socket, just sort of, half-way.

Here’s what happened…

First of all, let me say, both Princess Punk and I are afraid of spiders. This is actually a well-deserved fear since at one point in Florida, the house we were living in was infested for about 3 months. INFESTED.

Did you know that exterminators can do nothing about spider infestations short of tenting the house? Apparently, since so little of their icky little bodies are close to and surface they may be skittering across, any type of poison application is pretty much useless. So we had to endure it for a few months until they “moved on” or whatever it is that spiders do.

I got bit. Princess Punk got bit. TWICE. I woke up more than once with 1 or more spiders crawling on me. Like my face. EWWWWWWW… I doubt The Princess remembers consciously, she was only 2 years-old at the time, but there’s definitely a rooted subconscious phobia in there. When I say phobia, I mean a true phobia. Not a squealing “Ohmigod a spider! Heeheehee…” but a full-blown, hysterical, banging on my door at midnight, panic-attack kind of phobia.

Which is what happened.

~knockknock~

~BANGBANGBANG~

“Moooooooommmm!!!”

“hunh?”

(weeping and sobbing dramatically) “Mom, there’s a spider in my room by my bed, I’m really scared, Mom PLEASE!”

“hunh?”

(true hysteria sets in) “MOM! I’m not going in there I can’t it’s a huge spider PLEASE MOM PLEASE!!!!”

The Zen Master is PTFO (passed the fuck out)

~sigh~ “Okokok… Chill out, I’ll get it.”

So I go into her room. Navigate my way over to her bed in the direction she is pointing with a shaky hand.

There is a spider next to her bed. It is… Large. Not huge. There have been bigger spiders found in this home. Just big.

It skittered.

Fast.

So I grab the nearest slapping-type thing (a flip-flop), and attempt to smush the offending creature. In doing so, I put my knee on Princess Punk’s desk chair which (I forgot) swivels. Since her room is a mess, I find myself swatting at this thing around clothes, books, a shin guard… I dunno, it was midnight.

And then I reached too far. And the chair swiveled and I slipped. And slammed my shoulder into the arm of the chair.

I heard it. Kind of a gross clickcrunch. Then, because I hadn’t actually realized what I had done, I put both hands on the chair to push myself back up to a standing position.

~cruchclick~

I screamed. It hurt SO bad, but was over in an instant. But then I couldn’t lift my arm without this tearing burn and I went to bed with a bag of frozen peas.

The Zen Master killed the stupid spider. With a beer bottle. Swear to God.

So…

Sling for a few weeks then some strengthening exercises and then avoiding situations that could cause reinjury. Which is damn near impossible with The Peach within a hundred yards of me.

Still…

Great story for a party right?

 

 

I ache sometimes

My chest hurts. I’m not having a heart attack or anything. I just ache.

As I relayed yesterday, things have been stressful. Clearly, there’s a lot going on. And everything is changing. Changing so fast my head is spinning and half the time I don’t know where I’m going or how I’m going to get there.

I ache when I look at my kids, and My Mom and My Zen Master. Because I love them so much I feel like my heart is trying to beat it’s way through my sternum and out of my chest.

I ache when I look around my house because I know nothing will ever be the same.

I ache when I wake up crying or screaming in the night because I’ve had yet another sad or scary dream about my father.

I ache when The Zen Master looks at me with sadness in his eyes because when I hurt, he hurts and he just wants to make it better.

I ache when My Mom cries because her life is gone and she has to start all over again.

I ache when she tries with all her might to be calm and polite when he yells at her on the phone and then hangs up on her.

I ache because we’ve lost other people in our lives. We can’t go to his church anymore. Things are strained and awkward with family friends. Terry, who’s become a brother to me, and was going to come live with us when he got out, even Terry is difficult to talk to now.

I ache because… well, because I ache. Because I wake up in the morning and I feel like an old woman because my hip and my shoulder and my jaw still hurt.

I ache because it isn’t fair. To any of us, even him. Because he’s lost us too. And one day he will understand the gravity of that and it will hurt. And I honestly don’t want that.

And I ache for him. For My Daddy. Because I miss him. And he’s gone. He killed My Daddy that day and it will never be the same. Even if he ever forgives me (yes, because he just knows that what happened was all my fault), if we ever come to some sort of reconciliation (which is looking less and less likely right now), if that happens? I will still never be able to be alone in a room with him and feel safe. I will never be able to see his hand lift, even if it were for a handshake, without flinching. He is still my father and he will always be, and no matter how he treats me, or ignores me, or is mean to My Mom, I will still always love him. Unless he hurt my babies, cuz then all bets are off. But I don’t think he’d ever do that. But then again, it never occurred to me that he was even capable of what he did to me. But I still worry about him, bouncing around alone in that huge house, stewing in his anger at the injustice of it all.

I ache because I’m angry and sad and I’m still scared. And I don’t want any of that.

I don’t want to ache anymore.

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