Attitude of Gratitude, November 6th

Yeah there was no way in hell I was going to be able to write something every day. The older I get, the more honest I am with myself and I am just not capable (or interested, really) in doing something like this every day.

That said, I would like to express massive gratitude for my friends. Yeah, yeah, everyone’s friends are awesome but mine as THE BEST.

Three years ago, I had a day in early December that I have come to call “The Bad Day.” It was pretttttty much the worst day of my life, which is really saying something if you know about some of the adventures I have had in my 47-ish years. It was not the kind of day Ice Cube was rapping about. It was A Bad Day.

It was the kind of thing that some people might keep to themselves and just try to deal with it alone. I am not that person. I used to be – mostly because I didn’t know if I would have support if I started to fall over. TURNS OUT, I have more support than Dolly Parton’s bra. But I didn’t know that when I started talking about it. I just knew that I could NOT handle The Bad Day on my own.

I texted a friend the next day and said “I need to come over to your house and cry and get snot on things.” No hesitation: “come on over.”

I told my friend gang via our message board. Immediately, there were messages of support and love and offers to murder and all the good things that friends are there to provide.

I told my gym fam. They were appropriately shocked and then stepped back and just let me get on with things, and they all, bless them, totally ignored me getting tears and snot on the weights.

I met another friend for drinks after work one day and we sat at the bar and drank margaritas and developed amazingly goopy head colds together while I cried and coughed and got snot on things.

(There were lots of boogers involved)j

I told my local coven of bitch witches and they just handed me wine and offered up shoveling services, soft-ground backyards, tarps, and job offers.

I told another friend and that one let me do a WHOLE LOT OF YELLING and then took me out to stick a hole in my nose.

And that was just due to The Bad Day. LITTLE DID WE KNOW that Covid was about to happen, and then The Bike Ride That Wasn’t, and all of the bullshit surrounding all of those things.

The friends, all of them, were THERE for me and my family in both big and small ways, and have been there for me literally every single day since then. I love them all more than I can ever express and they’re all extremely good-looking.

So it was nice, this past week, when I schlepped out to the east coast to go see a band that none of my friends have heard of (except through me). At first I was just going to go to the show and come home but then I reached out to some people and decided to stay another day. I’m so glad I did. One friend met me in the city and we made the evening into an adventure (as we do). The coven decided that we needed to go to Costco, on a Friday night, in a big group. So that’s what we did. And still others agreed to meet me for breakfast before I drove back home.

What could have been a lonely solo trip turned into two and a half days of laughing and nonsense, in the best ways. Everyone should have friends like mine. My only regret is that I kind of planned it last-minute and there were folks that I didn’t see because there wouldn’t have been enough time to do more than “hi! bye!” and you all deserve more than that! Butt-touching, at minimum!

I hope that I am there for my friends in the same ways they are there for me. I do try, honest I do, and I’m getting better at it, I think. Maybe not, I’m sure at least one person is like “that bitch never called me back!” which… yeah I probably didn’t but that doesn’t mean I don’t love you! I’m not good at everyday things, but if you need a pint of blood or a kidney, I’m here for you!

I am trying to get better at the day-to-day things, though. I’ll get there someday, probably right around the time I start giving my friends’ eulogies. Sorry, guys. You know I love you, right?

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Attitude of Gratitude, November 1

I usually do this on Facebook and I usually make it about 10 days before I get distracted and forget, but a daily reminder of things to be grateful for can never be a bad thing.

I wasn’t going to do it this year at all, because it does tend to get repetitive but this morning has been A JOURNEY which is likely a sign from the universe that I need to take a breath before I go completely off the rails. Over-reacting to little things is kind of how I cope with life, and it leaves me free to react appropriately to the big things. Sometimes.

Anyway, today I am grateful that I have a kitchen in which to prepare food for my family. It’s not my dream kitchen by any stretch of the imagination and yeah maybe we could have prioritized that more in our house search, but the house itself, overall, is what we wanted and where we wanted it.


Maybe I’m cursed when it comes to kitchens. Or blessed, depending on how we look at it. My first kitchen was a small, eat-in affair located in the front end of our single-wide trailer. Yeah, I spent the first 12 years of my life in a trailer park and it was a surprisingly awesome place to be a kid, all things considered. Our house was small and I had to share a bedroom with my idiot little brother and that sucked but we had everything we needed, most of the time.

Anyway, the kitchen in that joint was small but intuitively set up. There was no counter space to speak of, but we had an ENORMOUS (especially for the space) kitchen table that did the job admirably. The best thing was the gas stove, which is what I learned to cook on and what I prefer.

Then we moved across town to Castle Boring, so named because it’s a mile and a half away from town. After the trailer park, which had tons of kids to hang out with and/or beat the shit out of, not having any neighbors at all was kind of a culture shock. The trade-off was Holiday Sands, which was literal heaven for three months out of the year.

The kitchen in that house, though… well, it’s a special place, let’s say. The biggest issue was that the stove was ELECTRIC, which SUCKS DONKEY ASS. Cooking on an electric stove is the dumbest possible way to heat food and I hate it with the fire of a thousand STDs. But we managed. It was the late 80s/early 90s and we had a microwave, after all.

The next time I had a gas stove to cook with was when What’s-His-Name and I bought our first house. Oh, I did love that house, a cute little 2-bedroom townhouse just outside New Brunswick, NJ. Fairly spacious kitchen with a gas stove!

We were happy there and likely would have stayed a lot longer if not for the unexpected but not unwelcome arrival of The Jillian. Their appearance in our lives made us think we needed a bit more space (and a yard and better schools) so we started the house hunt.

43 viewings later, which included a couple of houses I wouldn’t put a dog in, we found The House of Flying Pigs. Spacious kitchen! Gas stove! What we didn’t know until everything was signed and done was that the previous owners had done a down-to-the-studs DIY renovation of that kitchen and apparently their budget was $432 because holy fuckballs, you guys.

Instead of doing a proper kitchen renovation, like normal people would, we… put a whole-ass second floor on our house instead. It was worth it and over the years we did end up replacing the stove and the refrigerator and we likely would have done the renovation eventually but then 2020 happened (regular readers will remember that we… failed at riding bikes) and all of those things snowballed into “let’s move, to Ohio of all places.”

Which brings us to now, here at House of Flying Pigs (West). The kitchen is… not great. Electric stove aside, it’s a bit small but is set up in such a way that I do have some counter space to work with. It’s fine for now, but the cabinets are too heavy for the space (and an ugly off-white veneer situation that I can’t even paint) and whoever decided black granite was a good choice for kitchen countertops should be beaten with a stick.

Still, I’m able to produce outstanding food (humility is for other people) and feed the family and the guests and do experiments that are even occasionally successful! I am a damn good cook IN SPITE OF the various inadequate kitchen situations I find myself in, so it’s fine.

Not a digression: Lately, I have been testing out various medications for ADHD. Last month I was on Strattera, which is a non-stimulant, and it did fuck-all to help me harness The Squirrels and make them do my bidding. This month we are trying Vyvanse, which IS a stimulant and OH MY GOD YOU GUYS, IS THIS WHAT NORMAL PEOPLE FEEL LIKE?

I mean, my brain is still going 1000 miles an hour but now I can direct that energy and actually DO THINGS. I have a list in one of my 16 notebooks called “Projects.” This is a list of things that probably should get done in and around the house, at some point, eventually, I guess. It has things on it like “deep clean 3rd floor carpet” and “scrape/repaint office window” and other fun things that you end up having to do when your house is nearly 100 years old (built in 1925).

“Clean oven” has been on the list for AWHILE and… you know what? Just don’t look in there. It’s fine. We’ve only set it on fire once.

Today, The Squirrels decided was “let’s clean the stove” day so that’s what we attempted to do! I think the last time this thing was truly, properly cleaned was right around the time Lindbergh was crossing the Atlantic so it was well overdue. I managed to get three of the burner knobs off in order to clean underneath them but the last one, attached – OF COURSE – to the burner I use ALL THE TIME, decided to just… snap off the little thingamajig that attaches it to the stove.

Since it’s a piece of the STOVE that popped off and not just the knob that’s broken, it’s not something I can fix easily, which is a bummer because now this stove, which I detest, is going to cost me some fucking money. I can’t justify replacing it just now, since it DOES work well enough and anyway when we get to the replacement point, we’re going to try to have a gas line run into the kitchen for a gas stove LIKE GOD INTENDED. I mean, we have gas to the house (for the boiler and hot-water heater) so why, why, WHY IN FUCK would you NOT have a gas stove? The kitchen was renovated in 2010 or thereabouts so why wouldn’t they have put in a gas stove?

Oh, because THOSE PEOPLE SUCKED, according to our old neighbor. She hated them for the 20+ years she lived next door. I kind of hate them too, because when we bought the place, we could only open 3 of the 28 windows in this joint because most of them were PAINTED SHUT. What the fuck, people? Gah!

So here we are – after doing A BIG SCREAM and then scheduling a repair guy service call thing for tomorrow, I am taking a minute to remember that despite these small speedbumps, I still have a kitchen that is 99% functional, and for that, I am grateful.


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Better Living Through Chemistry, Maybe

Awhile ago, I was finally diagnosed with ADHD. I have likely always had it but I was a girl child in the 1980s and we didn’t really think girls could have ADHD back then.

It manifests differently in girls, anyway. Instead of the “never stop moving” thing that boys typically do, ADHD in girls tends to be more of a “space-cadet” situation. We’re there, we’re sitting still (sorta), but we just… drift off. On top of that, a lot of ADHD kids tend to be pretty smart so it’s easy for us to come up with the answers when called upon, even if we’ve been on a different planet for the last 15 minutes. A lot of ADHD girls slip through the cracks in this way, myself included.

So after yeeeears of not having any idea what the fuck I was doing with my life, I got myself a diagnosis. Yay for the first step! Oh, but the therapist who diagnosed me couldn’t actually TREAT me, oh no. I had to see an actual psychiatrist for a true diagnosis and treament plan. Oh but the psychiatrist doesn’t actually TREAT me, that’s done by the ADHD specialist. Can you see where I’m going with this? ADHD treatment is almost never ADHD-friendly! WE ARE NOT GOOD AT DOING FOLLOW-UP, YOU GUYS. It’s kind of our thing!

So I didn’t actually DO anything about it for a couple of years. Longtime fans of my brain spew will understand that I HAVE BEEN BUSY for the last couple of years, which meant that my own bullshit got pushed back and pushed back and OMG IT’S FINE I CAN TOTALLY HANDLE THIS, WHAT I SAID IT’S FINE IT’S FINE IT’S FINE I T I S F I N E.

BUT! I finally got a chance to breathe and FINALLY made an appointment and WENT to the appointment! It was with a nurse practitioner, which I tend to prefer because in my experience they tend to listen more and not just jump to a conclusion. She had me do the ADHD questionnaire thing and was like “holy shit, you definitely have ADHD.” Me: I KNOW! NP: “So tell me about your coping mechanisms.” Me: explains whole entire life. NP: “well it seems like you have a lot of tools in your toolbox!” Me: yes, and I’d like to CARRY AROUND FEWER OF THEM so let’s figure this out, yeah?

So she prescribed me a medium dose of Strattera. It’s a non-stimulant ADHD med and I’m not sure it’s going to be right for me but I’m only on day 2 so we’re giving it a couple of weeks to see if things improve. Mostly what I want is for The Squirrels to calm the fuck down. I would like less noise in my head and to get over the task paralysis that sometimes hits me when I have a lot of things to do at once.

It’s not that I want to be normal, because what is that even. What I’d like is to not feel like I’m starting 200 meters behind everyone else at the beginning of each day. That’s really my main goal, to just… function better and expend less mental energy while doing it.

So, I don’t know how this is going to go. It’s been awhile since I’ve been medicated for ANYTHING so I’m interested to see what my brain does with this one. If we find the right pill for me, maybe I really will take over the world. Just you watch.

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Two Years Ago, Yesterday

What’s up, nerds? I know I say I’m going to write in the blog more but I say a lot of things that almost never come to be. Blogging is a whole different thing nowadays than it was back in the 20th century when I first started doing it. Everyone wants exposure and followers and likes so they write coherent posts with actual themes and include pictures and stuff. I don’t see that happening here, because ugh who has time and anyway I know fuck-all about coding so I will likely never learn to do anything more than what I already do here, which is write a bunch of nonsense that is barely even interesting.

THAT SAID… Yesterday was the 2-year anniversary of the Bike Ride From Heck and I went back to read all of those posts and it was, if you’ll indulge me, QUITE A RIDE. Rather a lot has happened in the 731 days since, and re-reading those posts was a bit like looking at my past self through a screen door. It’s me, but there’s a barrier there, you know?

A quick recap: friends go for bike ride and picnic. Husband is SAVAGELY ATTACKED by gravity and physics, gets to ride in helicopter. Spends 11 days as a guest of Morristown Memorial Hospital and then an additional 5 in the Kessler Rehabilitation Spa and Circus Arts School. We get his parts stuck back on, fix his jaw and eyeballs and get on with our lives. At some point we decide that we need to move to Ohio (clearly, a bump on the head isn’t good for you) so we pack up all our shit and animals and schlep it 400 miles west to beautiful suburban Shaker Heights, where we now reside.

We are happy here, even though there are some things about living here that get FRUSTRATING, and if you know me at all, you know that the top two things on that list are that there is no Wegmans here and that I have to pump my own fucking gas, which is AGAINST MY BELIEF SYSTEM. One thing I did to help with that last bit is trade in my beloved trucky-truck for a Subaru Outback, which gets literally twice the gas mileage, but is slightly less cool overall. Still have to pump my own fucking gas, but I do it less often so we’ll call it a draw and I will complain about it only slightly less.

But it gets weird here. My current frustration is that I need fresh okra for a recipe I want to make. In New Jersey, if the Wegmans didn’t have it, then the Indian grocery stores probably would and if not, then the Hispanic/Latino market would. Here? Ummmmmmmmmm well none of the three grocery stores I normally go to had any and there IS a Latino market but it’s like… across town, which isn’t far, actually, but is a pain in my ass to get to and longtime lovers of my ass already know that avoiding pains in it is literally my number one goal of every day. SO. No fresh okra in my possession just yet.

It’s been an adjustment in little quirky ways like that.

Speaking of quirky, What’s-His-Name is pretty much fully recovered from his date with the asphalt. To look at him, you’d never know anything had happened because he looks perfectly normal. Well, he looks like an absolute goon most of the time but that’s normal for him so it’s a good thing. His jaw healed up nicely and all of his other bumps and bruises went away (except where he broke his hand and we didn’t notice for like, a week and it healed slightly weird so the palm of his hand is weirdly bumpy but he has full mobility so we’re just going to live with it until he’s like “hahaha touch my hand” and I’m all “ewwww it’s so weird and bumpy!” and we laugh). When he gets sun on his face, you can see the big scars over his eyebrow (there wasn’t enough there to stitch up so they just slapped some gauze over it and let nature do its thing), and his one eye is still SLIGHTLY stuck, but he’s just fine. He does his SHOUTY MAN things on the third floor and I do my Mom Shit on the first floor (except right now, I’m in my office on the 2nd floor but there is a tree being taken down across the street which is drowning out any SHOUTY MAN action that might be going on upstairs). We are happy here.

September 5th will likely never be my favorite day of the year, but instead of trying to ignore what happened, I tried to spend the day being grateful that everything that DID happen went as well as it possibly could (except for the bike ride part, which we kind of did wrong). It’s one of those things were you think you would wish that it had never happened but if it hadn’t? I have no idea what we’d be doing now. We’d probably still be in New Jersey, which would probably be fine. I don’t know. I don’t like to play the What If game because there’s no way to ever know for sure so why torture yourself wondering?

Two years, y’all. I don’t know who is even still reading thishere blog thing and while I love my readers very much (y’all are VERY smart and good-looking), I tend to neglect you by posting every 6 months whether I need to or not. Maybe I’ll change that habit and post more often but… don’t hold your breath.

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I Am So Very Rarely Wrong

Everyone thinks their child is the greatest and best and most special. Most people are right about that, because kids are pretty cool, overall, or else we’d stop having them. MY CHILD, of course, is truly amazing. She always has been.

But that’s not to say that she hasn’t been a challenge, because she has. Very early on in her schooling career, we realized that she was just kind of… doing her own thing. She’s bad at paying attention, sitting still, etc. Since she seemed to skip the baby talk portion of her development and started taking in fairly complete sentences, we figured she was pretty smart. So maybe the inappropriate singing and occasional screaming were indications that she was not being challenged by her academic environment.

“Oh, no, it’s not that.” The school tried to explain to us that she just needed to learn to settle down and listen and follow rules. We tried to model that kind of good behavior and explain it to her on a level she could understand, but my instincts were telling me that something more was happening here. It wasn’t that she didn’t WANT to behave properly and do well, it was that she just couldn’t. She could. not. do it.

We met with the school psychologist. “Do you think she could have ADHD?” Oh no, probably not, they said. She’s just a little bit immature and needs to learn to listen better. We’ll work with her to help her improve.

Oh, okay. Kindergarten and first grade went well because she had teachers who were patient and kind (literal saints, actually) and were able to direct my child’s insane amount of energy in productive ways. Then second grade happened. Her teacher for that grade SUUUUUCKED. She wasn’t very nice to Jillian, and was rude and abrupt with me whenever I contacted her to discuss what Jill was going through. This teacher routinely sent Jill to the principal’s office instead of trying to help her OR working with us to figure out ways to help her. I hated that lady and I still do because that second grade year nearly destroyed my bright and curious child’s love for learning. She never really recovered from that, you see.

By the time third grade rolled around, I was VERY certain that child had ADHD and so I scheduled another round of meetings with the Child Study Team which sounds impressive but is ultimately a group of people who want to do the absolute minimum to help these kids who just don’t know where to put themselves. They “evaluated” Jill and decided that she didn’t warrant a formal IEP/504 plan, but they’d give her a “gel seat” for fidgeting purposes. And that was the last straw for me.

We took Jill to a developmental pediatrician who spent nearly 8 hours with her, giving her tests and just chatting with her and with us both separately and together. It turns out that yes, Jill has ADHD. A fairly severe version of it, thank you very much. Also, as usually happens with kids of this type, her IQ is off the charts high (higher than mine and they don’t usually tell you what your IQ is but sometimes you’re a sneaky teenager who looks up their own files in the guidance office at high school and learns a lot about themselves BUT I DIGRESS) and yeah she probably IS bored in school.

Uh. Duh.

The doctor suggested medication, which I was initially hesitant about. What about other interventions? He said yeah you can totally try those and they may help a little but I think you’ll all be frustrated a lot longer than you need to be. So medication it is! And it has been a godsend. She’s old enough now to be involved in the decisions we make about her meds and she’s smart enough to know when she needs it and when she can forgo it. Medication was never my first choice but it was the best one for her.

Then we started intermediate school. We asked for an evaluation of her AGAIN and they blew us off AGAIN and it was stupid and frustrating for everyone. Jill did okay in fifth and sixth grades because she’s smart and the meds helped. She even managed to get into an accelerated math class.

Then middle school happened. She struggled a lot as the expectations changed for her. Things that come naturally to other kids don’t even cross her radar, so we asked the school AGAIN, SOME MORE for an IEP/504 evaluation. They hemmed and hawed but I’d been doing a massive amount of research and I was PREPARED. I wrote a letter to the school that clearly outlined what our rights were and what recourse we were prepared to take if those rights weren’t respected. I usually hate doing shit like that because ugh, nobody wants to be this person, but I was really at the end of my rope with this school system. They were not LISTENING. And I was getting very tired of watching my child struggle when just a little bit of support would have gone a very long way.

So 7th grade went okay, really. 8th grade was going sort of okay, THEN COVID HAPPENED. Oh boy. Turns out, asynchronous learning works pretty well for some ADHD kids. Rather than have to sit in front of a screen and pretend to pay attention, getting an assignment and turning it in later was something we could work with. Granted, the whole virtual school thing sucked out loud and wasn’t good for most kids in the long run, but the last few months of 8th grade went well for Jill because she felt like she had more control over it all.

Her freshman year of high school started out in a really bumpy way. The scheduling was crazy-making for neurotypical folks, so imagine how an ADHD family who needs a predictable routine handled it. Eventually, due to positive Covid cases causing Jill’s in-person days to be cancelled, we elected to just keep her home full-time and that was maybe not the best thing for her.

Of course, we had a lot of other crazy shit happening right then, what with What’s-His-Name’s bike accident (perhaps you’ve heard me mention it before) and the aftermath/recovery of that. Dealing with that meant that Jillian didn’t get nearly as much support from me as she probably needed and by the time I was able to focus on her, 9th grade was a mess. Then we sold our house and moved! So not only did she spend the school year “learning” through her computer screen, she did it while we sold a house, bought a house, packed up a house, lived with our friends for a month, moved into a house and got settled in a whole new place. Any kid would have struggled with that and we did get to the point where we asked her teachers to let her do literally any work that would drag her grade up to a passing grade.

And so, ninth grade ended. Nobody was happy.

With great trepidation, we got her registered at her new high school. Almost IMMEDIATELY, they called us to set up a meeting with the Office of Exceptional Students to discuss Jillian’s IEP/504 situation and work on how we can all work together to best support her in the upcoming school year. THEY called ME! I didn’t have to send vaguely threatening letters!! I didn’t have to make multiple follow-up calls to ask what interventions were being put in place and what support she would have! I didn’t have to make multiple phone calls to MAKE SURE that IEP was being followed! It was truly amazing, the amount of help and support the school was OFFERING. I didn’t have to DEMAND anything, like I did with the previous school.

This Child Study Team seemed surprised at how grateful we were for all their assistance. I explained a little bit about how much I’d had to fight for and they were appalled by that. “This is our job!” they said. “This is what we’re here for.”

I didn’t know that it didn’t have to be so hard. And I’m a tenacious fighting bitch when it comes to my kid. What about parents who don’t push as hard I did? What about parents who don’t know what their rights are? What about parents who get brushed off and never call back? Jill’s previous school district FAILED HER. They failed her and I’m 100% certain they are failing other kids like her. That is disheartening and for all that I miss my friends and my community back in Jersey, I do not miss that school. They failed my child in almost every way.

This school we’re in now is truly outstanding. The IEP is in place and Jill’s advisor checks in with her a few times a week to make sure it’s being followed. They send me monthly progress reports that are better every time. And last week (which is what prompted this post) we got a letter saying that based on recent test scores, Kidzilla is off the charts gifted in language arts, specifically reading. This is a kid who was forced to do a “reading log” (I have RANTS about that) and went from a curious and engaged reader to a clock-watcher who read for the required 20 minutes a night, no more, no less. So to have her skills recognized in this way is amazing and reinforces the fact that we made the right decision to move.

Her grades reflect this, too. 9th grade transcript is a shitshow and her grades for 10th grade so far might as well be from a completely different student. The school psychologist even said as much. He had all of the documentation from Jill’s old school and when he compared it to his own observations of her, he couldn’t believe it was the same kid. We can’t rule out the idea that maybe she was replaced by an alien at some point, but yeah, she’s a totally different child here than she was in NJ.

As for me, I am trying VERY hard not to feel guilty about any of it. I know that I fought for her. I did as much advocating for her as I could do. I did my absolute best and I trusted my instincts even when the school was telling me “no.” And now we have a kid who is excited about school again and starting to look at what she might do after she graduates. That alone has been worth all of the upheaval of the past year. The whole time, I was right about my smart, amazing child. I will fight lions for her.

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Yesterday, A Year Ago

Hey remember that time we went on a bike ride and picnic and ended up with one of us getting helicoptered to the hospital? That was quite a way to spend Labor Day weekend 2020!

This year, we are doing no such thing, and WITH GOOD REASON. It’s been a year since then and I just read through all the blog posts about it and holy shit, if I have to do that again, I will not make it. So even though it’s Labor Day, Shouty Man is up in his office catching up on things because his job is insane.

This is… a problem but he keeps telling me it’s temporary so… I GUESS WE’LL SEE.

But what a change from a year ago, eh? We went from 11 days in the hospital to moving our family to a whole different place. We’ve been here in Ohio for almost 5 months now and it’s starting to feel normal-ish. We love our house, and once we got it painted, it started to feel like home. We still have some work to do on it but it’s getting there.

The Teenager has jumped into 10th grade with both feet and is doing amazingly well. Better than I had hoped, even. She loves the school and is slowly making new friends and finding her place and this school year is already 10000% better than last year, and we hope it will continue to be awesome! I think it will!

I still miss New Jersey a lot. I really miss my friends and the community I had there but thanks to the internet, we’re all still connected. My heart is breaking for people out there right now who got slammed by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, which dumped a stupid amount of rain on my old neighborhood and flooded the whole place out. So many people are shoveling out basements and so many people lost so many things, up to and including their whole damn houses. I am so sad for all of that but on the other hand I am SO DAMN GLAD I am not dealing with it myself. I know I said in a previous post that if 2020 didn’t break me, nothing would, but I am pretty sure having to deal with hurricane aftermath ON TOP OF ALL THIS OTHER SHIT would have broken me.

So the best I can do is donate some cash to the various relief efforts and be a listening ear for anyone who needs to rant and scream. Hang in there, NJ. You got this.

As for me, I’m all right. I keep an eye on Shouty Man, who has recovered nicely from what we all call “The Accident.” He’s got a couple of scars here and there and his one eye still isn’t cooperating fully, but other than that, he’s as normal as he’s ever been. Still some lingering TBI things, like Big Feelings and not being able to find the right words for things, but that’s fairly rare and/or easily managed. Well, easily enough. I have been on his case to find doctors to manage things but it’s been tough because he’s so busy all day and I refuse to make phone calls on his behalf. Ain’t my job! But he’ll get there and it will all be fine.

He has even been riding his bike, which is not something I approve of but I can’t do anything about it. He took it to the bike shop for repairs and tuneup, got a new helmet and everything. I’ve noticed that whenever he’s away from me, either on his bike or traveling for work, my anxiety ratchets up a few notches, which was never an issue before. I feel like I should get him microchipped like I did with the cat so I can keep an eye on where he is.

Between Shouty Man, The Teenager, and my Giant Toddler Parents, I have my hands full. I am very bad at practicing self-care but whatever. My current self-care is Facebook-related: when you scroll through FB a lot, you will eventually see a few absolutely moronic posts like “if your vagina was name after the last TV show you watched, what would it be?” There are HUNDREDS of these stupid things in the feeds and they were all irritating to me until I decided to answer all of them with “your mom.” Now it’s funny!

Self-care, y’all. This is what it looks like here in the back half of 2021.

So have we LEARNED anything this past year? Sure. We learned that I am capable of amazing feats of emotional strength and resilience. We learned that The Teenager is fairly adaptable to extraordinary circumstances. We learned that our people are the very best people ever in the world. How I would have survived these past 365 days without my people, I do not know.

And now we look forward. September has started and the weather changed to almost-fall pretty much instantly. The air is starting to feel like football and sweatshirts and as much as I love summertime, it’s nice to be able to go outside and not feel like I’m breathing through a sweaty wool sock. Of course, I am not looking forward to winter but my house is cozy, I have socks, and now we have a fireplace, so it won’t be so bad.

This past year was crazy in a lot of ways. Some of it was funny, some of it was terrifying, but we’re all still here. I’m sure I will probably re-visit all of this every year on the anniversary and look back at what it was like and reflect on how far we’ve come since then. Or maybe I won’t. Time will tell.

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Another Caregiver Rant

Or whine, who knows anymore?

I am not good at doing that whole caregiver thing, yet I find myself in this position ALL THE TIME. How? I’m not people-y! I’m not a big fan of being helpy! But I end up doing it a lot. It’s probably the same thing that drives my fitness routine: if I hate it that much, it must be good for me.

But it wears on me, you see. I can see the evidence of it all around me right now. There are two cupboard doors open, which is not a thing I usually allow in my house (mostly because the cat is a big fan and I don’t like hoovering cat hair out of my cupboards). I could easily get up and close both of them but I haven’t done that yet. Because I just can’t. Also because I’m sat in front of the computer, pounding out this whine.

But it’s visual, this wearing-down. Or maybe it’s an energy thing, I can’t decide. If I’m spending all this energy taking care of other people, the infrastructure of my life breaks down. Things pile up more than they normally do. Food goes bad because although I have good intentions, the effort involved is sometimes just too much and that’s when takeout happens. So it takes work to overcome this and that work takes energy which I just can’t spare because I have to keep all these other people afloat.

It’s a longer than normal list right now, too. As always, I have Jillian in the top spot, even though she’s healthy and doing okay. But school is about to start and we are jumping into a Whole New Great Unknown (with added Covid-19 restrictions) and that’s stressful for her and my job is to help her manage that. I’m also, as always, keeping an eye on What’s-His-Name, who took his bike to the bike shop last week so they could fix it up and stuff. I AM AGAINST THIS IDEA mostly because him getting on the bike fills me with anxiety and dread and screaming, but he’s a grown-ass man and he’s gonna do what he’s gonna do and I’m gonna scream “BE CAREFUL” and chew Xanax and whatever. I know he’ll be fine (probably) but that fear is always going to be there. And there are other things I keep my eye on, which are related to his TBI: he’s probably 98% all there but there are little things that go missing, such as the names of movies. He can describe a movie plot to me but he just can’t find the name of it, even if it’s something he’s watched over and over again. Weirdest thing, and not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I imagine it’s frustrating. Luckily, I’ve been translating “you know, the one with the guy in the the thing” for 20+ years so I usually know what he’s talking about.

And then there are the Parental Units. One of the MAJOR reasons why we moved our sexy asses to Ohio was to keep an eye on my parents. After a couple of rounds of “oh, by the way, your dad has been in the hospital for three days” and me going “WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T YOU CALL ME” now I’m here on the ground and can keep an eye on those two crazy kids. WHICH IS GOOD, because Dad had himself a couple of strokes a few weeks ago and he’s improving nicely with various therapists coming to the house to irritate him a few times a week. He’s still moving slowly and his speech does not mix well with my hearing deficiencies, but apparently he’s allowed to get back on his riding mower and he’s been driving, WHICH I DO NOT AGREE WITH but again – he’s a grown-ass man and he’s gonna do what he’s gonna do. The best I can do is pop in and say hi and make sure he hasn’t fallen off the porch into the garden or crashed the car into the mailbox (again). This week, I’m keeping a closer eye on him that usual because…

MA IS IN THE HOSPITAL. My dad texted me on Friday and said “your mom hasn’t eaten for three days, I’m worried about her” and I’m like “THREE DAYS, WHAT THE FUCK, YOU GUYS” so we went over there and I did BIG YELLING at Ma. “Call your doctor!” “Oh I’ll call on Monday. It’s the weekend.” “CALL YOUR DOCTOR RIGHT NOW BY GOD OR I WILL DRAG YOU TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM.” I don’t usually do Big Yelling at Ma but it worked and she called the doctor and off to the hospital she went, like, NO DUH, WOMAN.

Turns out she has pneumonia (on top of All The Cancer) and some other fun things so she’s plopped in a bed and getting IV fluids (because she was dehydrated) and antibiotics and apparently also antifungal meds? She said yesterday that her room was considered and “isolation room” because they thought she had something that might be infectious and I’m like “uhhhh should I be here?” but whatever, if I get dengue fever or ebola or whatever she has, I’ll probably be all right.

So that’s another plate I have to spin.

And then there are The Pets. Main Dog was chewing the hell out of her rear end, so last week I took her to the emergency vet (we don’t have a vet established here yet and nobody is taking new patients until late August) and after 6 hours and $300, we discovered that she: a) has fleas; b) is allergic to fleas; and c) managed to chew her butt to the point where it got infected. I would have noticed earlier but she’s a Husky mix and has that thick, spiky fur. And she’s black, so it’s not like I would be able to see fleas crawling on her anyway! So flea treatments all around, antibiotics for Piper (which… getting those pills down her neck is a battle of wills between her and me and I win about 65% of the time), and vacuuming pretty much constantly. I think I have run the vacuum more in the past two weeks than I have in the past three years. The vacuum is like “ma’am, this is not in my work contract, please stop.”

So to sum up, my family is insane, expensive, terrifying and smelly. I love them all but they are a mess sometimes. And yeah, I know that I need to do my own self-care and not put myself last ALL the time but it’s hard when every time I try to sit down, there’s another fire or flood that I have to figure out how to handle. I am not built for this kind of responsibility and I don’t really know how to do it, but what else am I gonna do with my time? It’s not like I have a job. Well, THIS is my job but the hours are terrible and the pay is shit.

I can either lose my mind completely or complain. So I complain, which is a nice pressure release for me, and then I can go and get on with it.

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Sushi In A Flyover State

Moving to New Jersey was an adjustment for me, a rage-filled but still very polite lady from the Midwest. People just moved and talked and drove SO FAST there, it made my head spin for a good year until I got used to it. I grew up here in Ohio and we’d spent two years in Indianapolis prior to landing in The Jerz, so I just wasn’t ready for that kind of pace of life.

I quickly got used to it and learned to love it. People move and talk and drive SO FAST there! You need something done, SHIT GETS DONE. If there’s a problem, you’ll hear about it sooner rather than later and in no uncertain terms. Or you can express yourself in those same certain terms and everyone sort of understands that you’re not being a deliberate bitch, but there is something here that needs to be addressed, RIGHT FUCKING NOW, please and thank you. There’s not a lot of sugar-coating going on out there in Jersey.

That’s not to say that people are as rude as the stereotypes would have you believe, however. People can be rude, and frequently are, but 90% of the time it’s not rudeness so much as a gentle nudge for you to get the fuck out of the way because we have THINGS TO DO. There’s not a lot of dawdling.

Ohio, on the other hand, is a much slower pace. People are friendly and have more than enough time to chat and everyone says please and thank you and have a nice day and oh that rain was something, wasn’t it? There’s not nearly as much watch-checking, foot-tapping, huffy sighing happening here and in many ways it’s very pleasant. People are nice! SO NICE.


But this niceness, this Midwestern politeness takes a bit of finesse to navigate properly. While I grew up in it, my skills in this arena are rusty. 22 years in New Jersey and I’m “from Jersey” as much as I’m “from” anywhere. I mean, I grew up here in Ohio but I GREW UP in Jersey. I became a grown-ass adult there.

So like I said, things have been a bit of an adjustment. I had anticipated things like sub-par bagels and no Wegmans (I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but I miss Wegmans and have yet to find a suitable grocery situation) and the trial-and-error process of pizza. I kind of figured that the family would have issues finding good Chinese food. I myself do not enjoy Chinese food so that doesn’t bother me overmuch and if we’re being honest (god forbid we are othewise) I’m secretly glad the Chinese food sucks here because that means the fam asks for it less often.

And I knew — I KNEW — sushi would be an issue here. I knew it. We’re in Ohio for fuck’s sake. What does Ohio know from sushi? What does Ohio know from the phrase “know from” while we’re at it?


I knew sushi would be a challenge here. I’m sure there is acceptable sushi downtown but we’re out here in the suburbs and we’re lazy as shit so we need to have our sushi delivered to us. Well, we DID. I think we’ve learned now that we have go TO the sushi from now on, instead of having it come to us. This is bad news to The Teenager, who will happily eat her body weight in sushi if we allow her to. She’s very expensive. But once in awhile, we figured it would be fine, right? We’ve tried three times now. The first time, I put in my order right as the place opened at 5PM. They refunded it because they were “too busy.” OH OKAY WELL FUCK YOU TOO, THEN.

The second time was kind of a bait-and-switch. Doordash had a place listed that looked fine but ooooh nooooo it was actually from Benihana. Like… what the actual goddamn FUCK, you guys? Who in their right mind eats at Benihana on a normal day, much less gets sushi delivery from there? Had I known, I wouldn’t have ordered from there and it was terrrrrible anyway. Just super-duper bad.

The third (AND LAST) time we attempted sushi was last night. First of all, it was from a vaguely Asian restaurant whose main focus isn’t sushi. That should have been my first clue, but the reviews were good and anyway I didn’t pick it so I feel no responsibility for this disaster. I placed the order and then we waited. AND WAITED AND WAITED AND WAITED AND THEN WE STARVED TO DEATH AND WERE REINCARNATED AND WE WAITED SOME MORE.

It was bad, y’all. Not just ‘poorly made’ bad, but ‘bad customer service’ bad. So, being the extremely chill person that I am, I got on the horn with Doordash and explained my problems and they promptly refunded a chunk of my money. I contacted the restaurant and they couldn’t/wouldn’t fully refund me for REASONS but by then I didn’t even care about the money part of it, because I was in CREATIVE MODE and ready to write reviews! Which I did!

Is that a dick move? Maaaaaaaaybe a year ago when we were in Deep Covid Action and everyone was scrambling to survive, it would be. But now? Over a year into it and you haven’t figured out how to put the absolute brightest shine on your product and service? Fuck you, you deserve to go under, my dude. It’s not that difficult to do things right. It’s not that difficult to do things HALF-ASSED, as I know full well, being a professional in that industry. Half-assed would have been perfectly acceptable to me. What we got was… not that.

I normally don’t write bad reviews because yeah everyone is usually just trying to do their best. I’ve worked many jobs in many different industries and if someone as terrible as myself can crank out good work/good customer service, SURELY EVERYONE ELSE CAN. It’s a low bar to clear! Did I maybe let Jersey Rachel go a little nuts on the review? Ohhh probably. But Jersey Rachel makes her opinions known and doesn’t take any shit. Ohio Rachel is a little nicer about it, usually, but I was hungry.

Long story short: Sushi in the suburbs is going to be a challenge.

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Kitchen Thoughts

My painters just finished in my kitchen. It went from an olive-y green color that looked fab in photos but like baby shit in person to a cheerful peachy orange coral color. It’s reminiscent of the kitchen in our old townhouse, which was the first house we owned and were able to paint whatever color we wanted. I like it.

Whoever decided that black countertops were a good idea should be dragged out into the street and beaten with a cricket bat.

I have 8 kinds of vinegar. Oh wait, make that 9, but I mainly use white vinegar for cleaning. This is perfectly normal, and in fact there are at least 5 kinds of vinegar I considered while in the store today that I don’t have and probably need. Prosecco vinegar? What for? Who cares? I think I’m gonna go get some.

I do not like the electric cooktop. “Oh, you just have to get used to it” they say. NO I FUCKING DO NOT. I don’t LIKE it. I don’t WANT it. I can’t figure out WHY IT IS HERE. There is gas service to the house! Why not run it to the kitchen and get me a gas cooktop so I can cook like the pyromaniac savage I am? I even went so far as to set the oven on fire last week!

That was an accident, actually. But the smoke alarms sure do work!

Guess how often I buy bananas and then guess how often those bananas become muffins or a loaf of banana bread. If you guessed ALL THE TIME, then you are correct! Ideally, those bananas would be used for post-workout smoothies but I’m usually headed someplace that isn’t home directly after the gym and by the time I finally do get home, I don’t want one. I gotta figure that out.

This kitchen is relatively teeny. We visited Freddie’s brother over the weekend and I popped a huge kitchen boner at the sight of what they have in their house. They have the square footage for it, which I do not, but ooooh mama that is a kitchen to die for. My kitchen is JUST FINE and it gets the job done. I hate it 87% less than the kitchen in my previous house, which… if you’ve never heard me rant about that one, you’re missing out because I HAVE THOUGHTS about it.

Uh oh, did I set the oven on fire again? Wait, no, it’s fine. Probably.

This kitchen is compact and *slightly* storage-challenged but I like the layout of it a lot better and it’s overall a more efficient setup. We’re still going to tear it out and re-do the whole thing (and put in a GAS STOVE) in the next couple of years but I like it okay for now.

Seriously, black countertops are the worst. There is under-cabinet lighting in here but it’s all starting to shit itself so it will need to be replaced by a licensed electrician because I am not allowing Cap’n Handlebars to attempt amateur electrician action in my 1925-built house. NOSIREE. My husband is adept at many things but THERE ARE LIMITS.

I hate to say it, but I might need a smaller coffeemaker. Mine is kind of a behemoth and it performs admirably each and every day and is basically a part of the family now but it’s pretty large and if I could get the same performance from a smaller machine (not one of those Keurig abominations because I AM NOT A PEASANT), I may have to replace it because it takes up rather a lot of real estate. I imagine this is how people with more than one child feel. “Sorry, Bob – you’re just too big. We’re going to replace you with Jeff, who does all the same stuff but is a bit smaller.”

Poor Bob.

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I’m Not Built For This

I’ve never been what you might call “nurturing.” I’m not a natural caretaker by any stretch of the imagination but I keep finding myself in situations that require me to flex these skills. It’s weird.

For instance, I was definitely not cut out for motherhood. I can’t even keep houseplants alive and folks handed me a baby and were like “okay, here you go!” Me: what? But we figured it out. I feel like I fail at it pretty much every day, but on the other hand, my benchmark for success is “did anyone die? No? Good.” So in that respect, we’re doing just fine over here!

I’m not a super-involved friend, most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and am 100% there for them if their house burns down or they lose a leg or something, but the day-to-day stuff is hard for me to remember to do. I’ve been getting better at that lately – in fact, I was getting SUPER AWESOME at it before Covid blew up the whole world and we decided to move away from all my local friends! Whoops!

So I’m really good at the Big Deal things. When Freddie had his accident, I was super-excellent at handling that. I was calm and had it totally together in public and handled a lot of phone calls and texts and other crap that is not in my wheelhouse. That was easy! But later on, when he was home and needed more TLC, well, I’m not super-good at that, you guys! He needed a little more than “but did you die?” and I struggled with that.

We got through it, though.

Now I’ve found myself in another situation where I don’t have the skills necessary but I’m doing what I can. A couple of weeks ago, my dad had at least one, probably more like three small-ish strokes. Nothing major like the first big one he had back in 1999, but at this point, even a “little bit of a stroke” is enough to fuck everything up real good.

He spent a few days in the hospital and then was supposed to go to inpatient rehab to work on speech therapy and whatnot but his shitty insurance company is – get this – NOT OPEN ON WEEKENDS so there wasn’t anyone there to authorize his transfer to rehab, so his doctors RELUCTANTLY allowed him to go home. THIS WAS AND REMAINS A PRETTY BAD IDEA, Y’ALL! But we are in America, dealing with the American healthcare system, which is complete and utter garbage at the best of times.

So my mom, who herself has like 4 different kinds of cancer, is in charge of dealing with him most of the time. My sister checks in and does what she can, which is good because she’s the only one of us with formal medical training! Ma does what she can (or what he allows her to do, which is not a lot because he’s a stubborn old donkey) and so that leaves me, the least soft and cuddly person around, to drop in and make sure things are ticking over.

And this is my dad we’re talking about here. We are basically the same person, temperament-wise, which is NOT A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS all the time. He quit talking to me for seven years one time and that is not, in any way, an exaggeration or hyperbole. Seven solid years, he didn’t say a single word to me. So there is a certain amount of treading lightly and… let’s just say “man management” involved. If you don’t know what “man management” might be referring to, then CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’RE A MAN AND ARE CURRENTLY BEING MANAGED BY AT LEAST ONE WOMAN IN YOUR LIFE. Buncha donkeys, each and every one of you.

It takes a bit of zigging and zagging to get the man what he wants within the reasonable boundaries of what he actually NEEDS. It ain’t easy and I’m telling you right now if you look up the world “querulous” it will say “see the entry for ‘ornery'” and there you will find a photo of my little Daddy, being all grumpy about stuff.

Not without reason, because holy shit having a bunch of strokes is nobody’s idea of a good time, but hoooooooooooo boy. You know? If you know, you definitely know.

He’s recovering well, and if he chooses to actively participate in the various therapies available to him, he will improve quickly and start feeling better very soon. Then we can go back to him being grumpy at us for normal reasons and I can stop having to be Florence Goddamn Nightingale, when I am ill-suited to that role.

Like we keep saying, this is why we moved here. So.

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