Good Things Come to…

Waited long enough for me hunh?

I can’t guarantee this post will make up for it, but I will (I hope) be posting a bit more frequently so I don’t go another 6 weeks with nada…

So…

I’m awesome.

Since we last parted ways my dear blog, quite a few things have happened.

  • I turned 35… honestly, not a huge deal, but still, one of those birthday milestones.
  • I got a new(ish) car
  • The Zen Master got a new(ish) car… before you go thinking we won the lottery or something, after some serious number crunching, we discovered that, with our improved, all-grown-up-now credit scores, a car payment with a service plan on a newer car with better gas mileage (Civic for The Zen Master, Prius for me) will cost us the same as gas and repairs for his beater trick and my Subaru. Turns out, the gas mileage on the Prius is so good (50+mpg), I’m actually ahead a little bit. The Zen Master just replaced Bertha last weekend, so we’ve yet to see the benefit there. Since we have been paying an average of $100+ monthly on repairs and on a good day(when it was running at all) the beastly vehicle got about 8mpg, it’s a safe bet that he’ll at least be breaking even as well. Not to mention the “will it start today?” anxiety is done with. Oh, and we kept the Subaru (wouldn’t have been worth much on trade and my father “lost” the title) so now My Mom has a way to get around too.
  • The Peach is using the potty. When she feels like it. Mostly. Sporadically. Kinda… At least she doesn’t think it’s “gwose” anymore.
  • Princess Punk is a STAR. She graduated 8th grade. And got “The Presidential Award For Outstanding Academic Achievement.” This award is presented to (quoting from the US Department of Education) “students that show outstanding educational growth, improvement or commitment… It is meant to encourage and reward students who work hard and give their best effort in school, often in the face of special obstacles to their learning.” Because she is amazing. Even though she won’t get her ass out of bed right now. Oh yeah… She’s also probably going to make varsity soccer when school starts. She’s participating in an informal summer league with the high school team and a handful of middle school players. It’s being coached by the high school coach and he is impressed by her defensive skills. Although he has mentioned that she better start running more and get up her stamina. Princess Pink is stocky and muscular and she can run faster than most of the girls out there. For a very short distance. Which is great when she’s right by the goal and needs to beat the offense to the corner, but if she has to bring the ball up the field, she slows down fast. The girls move the ball up and down the field a lot more in high school, she’s gone have to put in some work to keep up. She can do it, but she is being particularly grumpy and lazy about it at the moment. The team is going to start running in a week or 2, 2 miles, twice a week. That ought to get her going. Note if she would just get going this morning… Oh look! Zombie Teen just walked into my room… Oh. And flopped onto MY bed. That’s not helpful.
  • I am awesome at my job. New trainees LUUUURVE me. And I’m totally loving being a competent trainer.
  • I have a new friend! I’m going to have to come up with a suitable blog name for her. One of the noobs at work, we hit it off right away and are hanging out (like actually outside of work hanging out) on a regular basis. She’s weird. And awesome. And perverted. Just like me. SWEET!

So anyway… laptop is still not fixed. I’m writing this on my kindle, still better than from my phone, but still a pain in the arse.

I’m hoping to be able to post more often… I miss you Blog.

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Pros and Cons of living in VT… The Sequel

So… Almost 2 years ago, I wrote a post called, “The pros and cons of living in rural Vermont.”

Shit. I can’t believe I’ve been writing this blog for over 2 years…

Anyway, that post remains, to this day, the most viewed, searched, visited and commented-on post on my blog. I get at least 10 hits a week on that post and I continue to get occasional comments thanking me for my (weird) perspective on living here.

Reading it over again, I feel like it needed a little updating, especially since there are a few things to add and a few to remove.  Just to make sure people get the right idea…

Plus, I’m hoping, that on this second day of April, if I go over again why I like to live here, I might not be so grumpy about it being 29 degrees when I left my house this morning.

First of all… Some more stuff I’ve thought of-

 

Really? I never would have guessed.
Really? I never would have guessed.

 

Cost of living is HIGH. Income tax is a bitch, especially coming from FL where there was none. Sales tax is also pretty high, but only on certain things. Room and meal tax (i.e. hotels and restaurants) is about 9%. But no tax on clothes or groceries. And the property tax is painful. That depends more on the town you live in though since it’s mostly based on municipal and school costs which are town budget things. You can also get a break on taxes based on your income. The town I live in happens to be particularly high in the range, and even with the state subsidy, my escrow payment is a bit shocking. Great fresh food and dairy is readily available, but, since most of the farms here are small, localvore food is a bit pricey. “Buy Local” is all well and good, but only when you have a grocery budget that’ll cover it. And the worst? Fuel. If you’re looking into moving here, You need to look into houses that are well insulated and run efficient furnaces or are heated by alternative fuels or pellet stoves. I didn’t and as a result, in my poorly insulated double-wide with hot air heat, a crappy kerosene furnace and an uninsulated water heater, our average combined electric, kerosene (furnace) and propane (hot water and stove) was about $400/month. Seriously. In the new house? We’ve been there 2 months (give or take) and already used almost 200 gallons of heating oil. With fairly efficient baseboard hot water heat. Now, before you panic and start looking elsewhere, keep in mind, that my old house was pretty much worst case scenario and the new one, while completely different, isn’t a whole lot better. In our search for less claustrophobia inducing space, the new house is more than twice the square footage of the old one. BUT… built in 1949 with minimal energy-efficient improvements since then. We’ve had an energy audit and are waiting for the results, but I’m guessing, with some insulation blown into the walls, we’ll see a dramatic improvement. So it’s not all bad. But yeah, it’s definitely more expensive.

 

On the other hand, the average pay rate is higher and the quality of life is much better. My starting pay at my current job was about $7000/year more than the same level job I held in Florida. And I was paying $850/m rent in a shitty 1 bedroom apartment in a crappy neighborhood. I had a homeless lady camping out on my front porch. Seriously. She suffered from fecal incontinence. I had to bleach my entranceway when the police finally got her to move on. And since you have to run the AC year-round (as opposed to only running the heat in the winter-time here) my electric bills were always high. So overall, I think it’s probably somewhat comparable.

 

 

Mmmmmaybe.
Mmmmmaybe.

 

On the previous post…

Availability of electronic communication is limited. High speed internet is not widely available and even cell phone converage is limited and in many places, completely unavailable. You know those sweet new 4G phones they’re advertising? Totally useless here. We’re lucky if we get in an area that has 3G service. I can’t tell you how much I love driving to Montpelier on route 12 which is windy, twisty, icy and frequently populated by moose (the animal kind) without the ability to call for help if I crash or something. (That was sarcastic if you couldn’t tell…)

That’s changed. A lot. There are still places in the state (mostly in the Northeast Kingdom) where you’re lucky to get one bar on your phone. But mostly, 4G is readily available, as is high-speed internet, and even my little podunk town has free wifi on Main St. Isn’t that adorable?

 

Weather? It’s a Bitch. As mentioned, April 2nd and 29 degrees this morning. Of course it’s 49 now, but really… To be fair, it’s been a crappy winter for most of the Northeast in general, but even in a regular year, the general population here is pissy and fed-up by March. There is a rather high rate of alcoholism here and it is directly related to the long, shitty winter. Really, there are studies out there. 

 

Given that, the general attitude around here is pretty laid-back. People move at a slower pace, just like the weather. To someone rather high-strung (ummm… that’d be me), this is both a blessing and a curse.

Clearly I'm not from here.

Clearly I’m not from here.

It’s definitely a good thing for me to slow down a bit, but the lackadaisical attitude by folks around here can be infuriating when I want to get something done. Like say some repairs in our new house. “Mudding” a dinner-plate sized hole in the wall just should not take 4 days. The guy would show up around 4, leave around 6 for 4 days. Granted, he had another job, and the completed job was excellent, but the pace at which it was done was making me absolutely fucking crazy crazier. Pinning down a time for him, or any of the other guys doing work on the house was just this side of impossible. The electrician? Did an excellent job. For an extremely reasonable price. And he actually did complete his work in a timely manner. But it was kinda difficult to plan around him needing to come in and rewire the basement when he called me the night before and told me, “Ya, so I’ll be thur ’round 8 in the morning.” Um… Ohkay? Despite all this, they were all honest and straightforward. the estimates they gave were (mostly) on target. One of the estimates was over and one was under so we came out even. Honestly, I couldn’t even get mad at the breezy, “So, we ended up cutting through that wire there. There wasn’t no sparks or nothin’ so I don’t think it was hooked up.” It was. I have no idea why they didn’t get electrocuted since the fuse hadn’t been switched off. But they didn’t seem to be concerned.

 

Additionally, while there may not be the variety of cultural enrichment here as there might be in a more populated state, there are some amazing crafters, artisans and local artists here. Go to any farmer’s market in the summer, and you’ll find amazing farm-fresh fruits and veggies, eggs, cider, organic beef and pork and course, maple syrup. In addition, you’ll also find breads, cakes and pies that would make the most hardcore Atkins dieter fall off the wagon. Hand-woven Alpaca scarves, sweaters and shawls. Hand-lathed wooden bowls. Jams, jellies, dressings, marinades, rubs and mixes made with the utmost care and worthy of the kitchens of any 4-star restaurant. Lotions and soaps, made from goats milk and lavender and lemongrass that would cost you $60 in any department store. Pottery and baskets and knives and batik printed dresses. Artisan beers, Ben&Jerry’s, Green Mountain Coffee… You can’t find this stuff, made with such care and attention to quality and detail anywhere but here. There’s a reason the “Made in Vermont” sticker gets misused by manufacturers. It’s because the stuff made here is good.

 

Ben&Jerry's... Suck it Florida.
Ben&Jerry’s… Suck it Florida.

 

I must again stress the safety of this state. Although Gov. Shumlin’s State of the State address this year was devoted in it’s entirety to the growing epidemic of opiate addiction, there is still SO much less violence. Top news story here today (courtesy of WCAX)

Fire damages Burlington apartment house

Posted: Apr 02, 2014 12:05 PM EDT

Updated: Apr 02, 2014 12:05 PM EDT

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Fire damaged an apartment house in downtown Burlington early Wednesday morning. Crews were called to the building at the corner of Pearl Street and North Winooski Avenue at about 3:40 a.m. They found flames coming from the top floor. All five residents of the building got out safely and no one was hurt. Most of the damage appears to have been contained to the upper two floors. “Well right now it’s hard to say; we’re still investigating. At this point, there’s not a lot of structural damage except for the third floor. Second floor has a fair amount of fire damage, water damage everywhere,” said Joe Keenan, the assistant fire marshal in Burlington. Seven firefighters had been on route to Boston to attend the funeral of a fallen firefighter when the second alarm forced then to turn around and respond to the scene. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

As opposed to Tampa(tbo.com)

Car of Pinellas man, 84, stolen hours after he was attacked

The 84-year-old Pinellas Park man who was attacked, beaten and stabbed Tuesday told police his attackers wanted to steal his car. Later that night, someone stole Charlie Clark’s Ford from the front of his condominium building on the 5000 block of 76th Avenue, Pinellas Park police said. The vehicle, which was taken between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., was recovered Wednesday morning in St. Petersburg, police said. Police said they are looking for a suspect. Before 10 a.m. Tuesday, Clark sustained serious injuries when three teens — two males and a female — attacked him as he returned to his condo from a store, police said. Clark told police he thought the trio was trying to steal his car. He said he had just exited his vehicle in a parking lot when one of the attackers grabbed him from behind. As he struggled to break free, Clark said, he knocked one of three to the ground while struggling with another. During the struggle, Clark said the attackers didn’t make any demands, but he was stabbed at least twice with a knife that police recovered at the scene. A witness came to Clark’s aid, and the suspects fled on bicycles, police said. After the attack, Clark was taken to a hospital, treated and released. Investigators released surveillance videos from a nearby store that shows three people on bicycles shortly after the attack. Police said they want to talk with them. Police described two of the suspects in the attack as black males, one in his late teens with dark skin and average height and weight, and the other in his early to mid-teens. The female suspect was described as Hispanic in her early teens, with a heavier build and red-brown hair, wearing a gray hoodie.
 
 
 
I can’t think of a more convincing reason to live here, instead of there. I’m still grateful to have the chance to raise my kids here.

 

 

 

At a loss for words. Yeah, me.

So I haven’t been blogging. Obviously. But I came to the realization tonight that I really, REALLY need to. I’ve been incredibly stressed lately. Things are wonderful and exciting and sad and infuriating all at the same time.

And terrifying. Can’t forget terrifying.

But tonight I figured out that I really have to blog. Because I’ve been censoring myself lately. Because I’ve been told that I’m annoying. And needy. And inconsiderate.

I had my evaluation at work yesterday. And while it was ok (satisfactory would be the word they used), there was also a survey from some of my peers about my good… and bad qualities.

I’m “mopey.” And “inappropriate.” And “unapproachable.” And I bring too much of my personal life to work.

My therapist even snapped at me.

And at home, I can’t seem to say anything without getting the impression (or being told straight out) that I’m just this huge emotional vortex and I can’t think of anyone but myself.

Which is really not the case at all.

I just don’t hold anything back. I don’t censor myself. If someone asks me how I am, or how my day was, I’m not going to smile and nod and say “fine” when I’m just not. Apparently most people do that. I just don’t. What you see is what you get.

So lately, I’ve just been avoiding people. Which doesn’t really come across as particularly friendly either. But I don’t really know what else to do. I’ve been withdrawing from my family, my friends, my co-workers, because I’m REALLY FUCKING TRYING not to burden anyone else with my shit. Because I KNOW that everybody has their own shit to deal with. That is just as important as mine. But because I’m trying to damp it down, to keep my stuff to myself so that I don’t appear like I’m seeking attention or pity or whatever the fuck people are thinking, I keep erupting at random intervals in this clusterfuck bundle of emotions that I can’t even sort out. The other day, my physical therapist asked me if I wanted to start my session on the treadmill and I just started crying. I don’t think I was sad, or angry. I don’t even know what it was. But I couldn’t stop. I cried the entire 45 minute session. I felt like an idiot. I felt weak and stupid and helpless and I HATE feeling like that.

We have a new house. It’s wonderful. But it’s not new, it’s old. It needs work. And money is not really readily available. I’m not even going to get into that whole heap of bullshit. We ran out of oil tonight. Which is particularly bad because we’re having the downstairs floor refinished and the finish can’t cure or something if the house is below 70. Which is difficult even with a full tank of oil because the house is old and kinda drafty. So we may need to call the floor guy tomorrow morning and tell him to wait because we can’t get an oil delivery until Monday and when I tried to give the phone to The Zen Master so the oil guy could tell him how to bleed the fuel line if we put diesel (yes. diesel) in the tank, he almost cried. And then he yelled at The Peach (who had just started tearing up some mail) and stormed into the basement. My ZEN MASTER. And all of My Mom’s worldly possessions are clustered in the living room because my adoring father (that was sarcasm) told her that she needed to come get her shit NOW or he was going to put it out in the driveway. The day before the biggest storm so far this year. And two days before we actually owned the fucking house. So she had to get movers in to pack AND move her instead of having a few days to pack on her own. We’re estimating he cost her about $1000 extra for the labor.

So it’s a little crowded. and stressful. And at the moment, cold. But we’re all here and safe and happy and together so it WILL be ok.

But anyway. All of this whole diatribe was to share my final conclusion. I HAVE TO WRITE THIS BLOG. I will completely disintegrate if I don’t have an outlet that is completely unfettered and free-reign where I can get shit out without worrying about hurting someone’s feelings or making someone angry, or making someone else feel like I need something from them. Because I don’t. All I need is to talk.

And here? Here is where I do that.

Uncertainty

Things are… sketchy right now.

Nothing bad really, just nothing particularly good either.

My Mom is waiting for her divorce settlement to be finalized.

And she is waiting to see how much actual cash she will have at that point.

Because we need to know if we can come up with a minimum down payment for the house we’d like to buy.

Which is a moot point unless we sell the house we are all uncomfortably crammed into at the moment.

Which has produced a single brief phone call since it was listed 7 weeks ago.

And I will be extremely lucky to walk away with anything more than a few thousand. For a house I put over 30,000 dollars down on. Thank you Grandma for leaving me enough money to buy a house after you passed. I’m sorry I seem to have pissed it away in this economic clusterfuck that is particularly discriminatory against mobile homes.

My Mom is in The Peach’s room. The Peach’s crib is squeezed in next to my bed. I have to scoot to the end of the bed to get out in the morning. Which is not particularly easy when you have to pee. My Mom and Princess Punk are sharing a bathroom. Which tends to end up in some sort of drama at some point almost every day. I have no place to get away. None of us do. Except The Princess, the only one who has her own room. But nobody wants to go in there anyway, it’s a stage 6 biohazard zone. I can’t even have privacy in my bathroom. The door doesn’t lock, and my brilliant, not-quite-2-year-old is quite adept at opening doors. So I frequently spend time on the toilet or in the shower yelling, “NO! OHMIGOD, Do NOT touch that!” or, “Mommy is going peepee in the potty. Could you please go see Daddy instead?” To which I’m met with raucous giggles and much squealing and “nooooooooooo” and cockroach-style scrabbling all over the room.

Everything is crowded. And claustrophobic. And loud and crazy and it’s making me want to run away and hide.

Oh, did I mention that HE is living in a 2800 sq foot 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house? By himself.

Just sayin’.

I just want to know what to expect. Even a dim idea about what to expect. I just want one less thing to worry about. Something I can think about. Look forward to. Even make some tentative plans around.

Please?

And Some Days are Better

I had a date with Princess Punk last night. Her last report card was decent and at the moment, she’s running in the 90’s in all her classes. Plus the recent appointment with Dr. Hottie was not as awful as it has been in the past. Her A1C went down, 9.7 from 10.1, still WAY too high, but a definite reflection that she is doing better. So I figured it was time to have a Mom-and-Me date.

I’d had an ok day at work. Still not as productive as I know I’m capable of, which honestly just pisses me off, but I did get some stuff done and I actually had the director at my office tell her boss (who had come to visit) that she wanted to clone me because I was just that good. Which was pretty much as much of an ego boost as is possible doing the job I do. The fact that it came from my boss’s, boss’s boss and was directed toward the regional muckity-muck, made it that much more awesome.

Anyway, after work, I took The Princess to Sushi Yoshi in Stowe. They opened not too long ago, in a location that has seen at least 5 reincarnations of hibachi restaurants in the last 6 years. There’s still hibachi there, but now it also has a full sushi bar which is TRULY awesome. Even more awesome than having a good sushi restaurant less than an hour away from home is the fact that, despite it being in the heart of Tourist-Town, the prices are actually reasonable. Plus, they’re very nice to locals. Which is good business in my opinion. Since so many folks that live around here work in hospitality, it’s a pretty savvy business model to be good to the people who work at the resorts so they might recommend you to their guests… They have a “Good Guys” card for locals that gives 50% of basic appetizers, sushi rolls (besides the super fancy “Chef’s Special” rolls) and a la carte sushi 3-6pm everyday except Saturday, and 3 to close on Monday (which is even smarter because Monday night is Friday night to hospitality industry folks around here).

So anyway… The Princess and I went out to dinner and we hung out and actually talked. Like about stuff that is actually going on in her life. Which is a fucking miracle. She talked to me about school and her friends and even (gasp) her boyfriend. And we had a great time, just the two of us. And then we went to the movies. We saw the new Thor movie, which was kinda disappointing with the exception of ample views of half-nekkid, muscly Chris Hemsworth that Princess Punk and I agreed made the $8 ticket price totally worth it. And we threw popcorn at each other and laughed and shared candy and had an overall really great time.

So life goes on…

Some Days are Worse Than Others.

The Peach has discovered that if she bats her long, golden eyelashes at her sister and says, “I seep wif sishy?” Princess Punk will melt and bring her to bed with her. This is usually simply a ploy to stay up later and bounce around from person to person. Last night, the girls retreated to Princess Punk’s bedroom, The Princess grinning like a fool and The Peach with her arms wrapped tightly around her sister’s neck. 20 minutes later, my phone rings. Yes, my daughter called me from down the hall.

“Mom! Wait…. Hang on….” (rustling, then Princess Punk’s muffled voice)

“Who do you want to sleep with Peach?”

(raspy breathing then a slightly less muffled)

“I seep wif Mommy? Mommy! I seep wif MOMMY!”

“Come get her, I’m not getting up.”

So I turn of The Walking Dead and The Peach comes into my room. The Zen Master is playing on his computer, so it’s just me and the midget. We tickle and giggle and snuggle for a little while and then I put her in “The Big Girl Bed.” Which is not a big girl bed at all, but is in fact, her crib. She usually doesn’t have too much of a problem sleeping in her crib now, since she’s still about 6″ away from my head. Not last night.

“NOOOO! Don WAN it! I seep wif SISHY!!!”

Then she puts on the pout. I got her calmed down before hysteria set in and since most of our books are in storage, and it’s damn near impossible to get her to sit through storytime when she’s in “A Mood,” I put some bedtime stories on YouTube and let her watch them until she fell asleep. Which took about 20 minutes.

Not too bad… for a little while. Pretty much right after I fell asleep, she woke up and threw her binky (with phenomenal accuracy) directly at my eye. The she started crying.

“GODDAMMIT! OUCH! Zen Master… ZEN MASTER! Wake up and get your daughter, I’m done.”

So The Peach ended up spread eagle in the bed in-between us, waking periodically to whimper and cry, just loud enough to wake me up, but not her father.

And then I had a nightmare. I’ve been having them on and off, mostly vague, making me wake up abruptly feeling vaguely scared and disoriented.

Last night, was vivid.

It basically boiled down to my father trying to choke me in the hallway at work. I woke up hyperventilating with my hands protectively around my neck. It took me a full minute to become lucid enough to take my hands away, even with The Zen Mater’s firm, reassuring grip on my arm.

I slept through my alarm. Twice.

I cried through physical therapy this morning. I woke up with a headache from my jaw and just hurt diffusely through my head, neck, shoulders and upper back. The pain was all too familiar and I was so frustrated and angry because it was gone. For 4 months, I had huge relief from that debilitating pain and I was free. And then, in a matter of a few minutes of life-changing insanity, it all fell apart. And it isn’t fair. Because in two years, when his record is expunged from the misdemeanor he plead to, I will still be struggling with the physical and emotional damage he unleashed upon my life and the life of my family.

I got to work angry and sad and hurting and unable to focus on very much at all. I made it about 2 and a half hours before I walked down the hallway to my boss’s office, shut the door and started crying as I handed him a slip so I could use even more of my precious sick leave to go home and hide.

Princess Punk was in a snit and The Peach was alternately grouchy and psychotic. I ended up shutting myself in the bathroom and sitting in the shower, sitting in water as hot as I could stand it until the hot water ran out.

And then I climbed into bed and stared at The Peach’s crib, which is not supposed to be in my bedroom, and thought about how much I’d like to be somewhere else right now. And then I zoned out on facebook games until I was able to pass out.

Tomorrow is another day.

Bitchier than usual

I’ve been a mega-bitch lately.

And honestly, I’m not proud of this.

I cried in a meeting at work today because I was mad at myself because I was being such an antagonistic asshole. Cuz crying is so much more professional.

I went home early.

I’m grumpy and irritable with my girls, The Zen Master and My Mom. Ok… Granted, Princess Punk is 14 and I’m usually just tossing back the bitchy she throws at me, but The Peach and My Mom and The Zen Master are not deserving of my horrible, scowly, foul mood.

I want to escape. Just for a bit. When I’m at work I just want to go home and when I’m at home, I just want to go… maybe not to work, but somewhere else. But I don’t have anywhere to go. And I think, in fact, I’m pretty goddamn sure, that even if I did have another place to go, I still couldn’t escape, because the thing I need escape from the most?

My own head.

I need to not be me. Just for a little while. Just so I can catch my breath and step back and have a moment of quiet, calm, serene, nothing inside my head.

Because my brain hurts. And I have so much emotion, good and bad, racing around in there, that I can’t sort anything out and I don’t know whether to scream or laugh or cry or throw something large and breakable at the wall.

So I just bitch. Because apparently Bitch is my default. My poor family.

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