Author Archives: rachel

About rachel

I am a professional mama and amateur knitter from New Jersey who eats way too much chocolate and doesn't exercise enough. I frequently have the urge to shave my head and have been known to go to the grocery store in my pajamas.

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.

Refreshing!

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 DIGRESS

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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That’s A Wrap!

This post is dedicated to Brian B, who refuses to ever get Facebook in solidarity with me and my journey through FB Jail.

Looks like I am going to delete my Facebook account. I honestly should have done it years ago but it was easy enough to stay in touch with my people, who are scattered all over the world.

Then they started in with all of this “account restriction” nonsense. That could be a useful tool if it were employed with any kind of fairness. It is not. The “Community Standards” that Facebook claims to be upholding are 100% bullshit and are unfairly and unevenly applied.

You do get the opportunity to “accept the decision” or “disagree with the decision” but that means exactly FUCK-ALL because there is no way to provide context, give explanation, or anything. And if that’s how they want to run their company, that’s fine. They’ll be doing it without me from here on out.

So after my current 30-day ban (see you in July, fuckers), I will post a farewell and that will be that for a good long while. I will think about whether or not I want to fully delete it or just deactivate it, but who knows. I just got OFF a 30-day ban and honestly, I didn’t miss it all that much. The folks I talk to are still the folks I talk to. I’m easy enough to find if you Google me. I don’t need it anymore.

Mark Zuckerberg is a shit.

Find me where you find me, bitches.

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I Miss Wegmans

If you have never had a Wegmans in your life, you are going to think this post is a bit melodramatic but I’m here to tell you that YOU DON’T FUCKING KNOW, OKAY?

I looooooooove Wegmans. I was blessed to live 2.3 miles away from one for 15-ish years and even when they rearranged the store without my permission, that place always lived up to the hype. They should have hired me as some kind of evangelist/ambassador because I have almost nothing bad to say about that place.

But then we moved! We moved… AWAY FROM THE WEGMANS. The closest one to my new house is in Erie, PA. It’s 90 minutes each way and there are times when I have seriously considered making the drive because the grocery store options available to me here in the CLE are – not to put too fine a point on it – UTTER SHITE.

“Oh, you love Wegmans? Try Heinen’s!” I have. IT SUCKS. Their produce section is a tiny corner of the store with little selection. Quality is… OKAY, but not great. The rest of the store is meh, and overall, it’s expensive as hell.

“What about that local place that seems fancy?” Oh Zagara’s? It was unobjectionable, but didn’t impress me. I probably won’t shop there regularly.

“Giant Eagle is fine!” Oh, is it? I grew up with Giant Eagle and I don’t remember it being particularly good or bad, but I wasn’t in charge of feeding people back then so my eye for quality/cost wasn’t yet developed. But Giant Eagle SUUUUUUUUCKS out loud. It’s bigger than Heinen’s, but that’s about all it has going for it. The quality of the fruits and vegetables I’ve gotten there has been utterly disgusting. The layout of the store makes NO GODDAMN SENSE. Shit’s expensive. I hate it.

“Have you tried Fresh Thyme?” Yes. It’s… fine. For a place that is trying to be more like a farmers’ market, they didn’t have much in the way of things you might get from a farm. But their “natural health and beauty” section is fucking ENORMOUS. Yay?

“How about Marc’s?” Yeah, how ABOUT Marc’s? I went in there just to see and I think I left with lice. Ewww gross, no thank you.

“Ummmm… Aldi?” See above.

“Okay fine, we do have Whole Foods.” Ever since Whole Foods was purchased by Amazon, I have been giving them MASSIVE SIDE-EYE but I broke down the other day and did the weekly grocery shopping there. It was the best of the options presented to me, believe it or not. Produce section is large and the quality is decent, meat counter was very nice, and I was able to find the other things I needed and didn’t spend a Whole Paycheck (which isn’t really all that difficult if you know how to shop and you’re not a fucking moron).

So now I’m a step further on the Suburban Cliché path. I live in the suburbs. I drive an SUV. I go to yoga. I shop at Whole Foods. Whatever, it’s FINE.

I miss Wegmans, though. I’ll probably never get over it.

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Flotsam

I have two weeks left on my Facebook time-out. I’m not sure what I plan to do when that is over. I will probably still use it, but I think I’m going to dump out of a lot of groups that I am in for no good reason and curate my feed a bit better. Or not. Chances are, I’ll dive right back into the shit and get to work on my next 30-day ban over something stupid.

Facebook can suck my balls.

Anyway

We’ve been in our house for almost a month and we’re slowly getting ourselves settled. There was a big backup with painters being available because apparently everyone in the world is trying to undo their Covid-19 DIY projects by hiring pros. But we found some folks who are going to come slap paint on the walls and once that’s done, we’ll be closer to being truly home. I didn’t want to wait forever to unpack my books, so I painted my office myself. It’s a lovely purple color, called “Magical.” It looks like sidewalk chalk and I love it.

Furniture is going to be challenging. We were told there is a 6-8 month leadtime on custom furniture, which is a bummer because we want to design a sofa for the front room. The den is a little easier since that just has to be comfy and sturdy but the front room needs something a little more jazzy. If we’re lucky, we’ll get it by Xmas!

I’m looking for a sideboard situation for my dining room. I hate everything I have seen so far in my price range. I’m sure the perfect piece is out there somewhere but I’d really like it to cost less than six million dollars.

The gym is nice. I finally got my membership transferred over and I’m paying the same amount I was before but now all the extra small group training things are included instead of being a whole extra charge. The next challenge is to get What’s-His-Name back in it. I did a class called Barbell Strength yesterday and followed it up with yoga today and I am feeling it but it’s all to the good because someone, who may or may not be me, got fat from stress eating. Whoops!

I am getting very good at backing out of my driveway. I have only whacked the gate once. It helps that we share the driveway with our neighbors so it’s a bit wider than most but driving backwards is not my favorite and it’s about 3 times longer than my previous driveway.

This house does not have air conditioning! It hasn’t been an issue until just today because it was VERY COLD ALL MONTH, like wtf? Do we not have climate change happening up in here? Of course, we train-wrecked from winter into summer with spring lasting about 37 minutes last Friday afternoon. Welcome home to me, I guess.

Finally got some mail with my name and new address on it so I can go get my drivers’ license and library card! They’re all “oh bring in a utility bill!” Well yeah but we haven’t gotten that yet and my license expires on the 31st. I have been better about not waiting until the last minute for things so this isn’t my fault! That will be next week’s project, probably. Unless I decide to do it tomorrow.

Still haven’t found a grocery store I like. I know I have been spoiled by Wegmans over the years, but nothing here even comes close. It’s a bummer, but everyone’s like “oh try Heinen’s! They’re super-fancy!” Uhhhhh if you say so. It’s okay, I guess. I go there for some things and go to the “nice” Giant Eagle for other things. I suppose that will have to do.

The Chinese food here is awful. I know I am on-record as not liking Chinese food but even the other people in my family agreed. We’ve tried two places and they both sucked. What’s-His-Name accused me of deliberately picking bad places so we never order it again and that wasn’t my intention but if that is the result? Score!!

We also have not found pizza that we like. I need to make a trip down to my ancestral lands and get my hands on some Guido’s Pizza but there hasn’t been a good opportunity to do that because something always needs to be done around here. Soon, though. Soon.

Overall, we’re getting comfy here and we really like living here. We thought we would, but you can never be sure until you actually get there, you know?

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Dusting it off

So I managed to get myself a 30-day ban on Facebook. It’s a long story, and I wasn’t even telling anyone to go fuck themselves, so it was kind of a waste. I made a jokey comment to a friend that tripped the AI and apparently I was “inciting violence” which… Facebook fucking deserves it. That platform can suck all of my balls. I have had CREDIBLE rape threats directed toward me that apparently don’t violate their community standards, but me using the word “murder” in a sentence apparently merits a month-long ban

Fuck Mark Zuckerberg right in his gross poached-egg eyes.

ANYWAY

It might be a blessing in disguise, you know. I am always meaning to blow the dust off this thing and write more but it’s just easier to shit out whatever I’m thinking on Facebook. I can do that here! AT LENGTH.

For those of you who aren’t subjected to the fuckery I get up to on Facebook, here’s a quick update: we moved to Ohio! We landed here in Shaker Heights last week and have been trying to unpack and get settled. This process has been hampered by the fact that we don’t have enough furniture for our house and due to Global Pandemic Weirdness, the run-up time on the furniture we want is like, 6-8 months. So that’s nice. We have a big front room we can play squash in because we don’t have furniture to put in it. Good times!

Our house is really cute, though. It’s in a fantastic neighborhood, and we have three livable stories, plus a full basement that isn’t a damp torture dungeon like the old house! The third floor has been commandeered by SHOUTY MAN for his home office and lemme tell ya, IT’S A GODDAMN BLESSING. There’s a whole floor buffer between him doing SHOUTY MAN WORK THINGS and whatever it is that I do every day.

The kitchen is smaller than the old one but laid out in a much more efficient way. I dig it. The yard is smaller (yay) but has a ton of landscaping (boo) that I think the previous owners just ignored. We’ve found someone to come over and help us decide what’s actual plants and what’s weeds. That should be a good time.

Our neighbors (on both sides) are delightful. We share a driveway with one side so we had to make friends with them pretty quickly. They’re very nice and were very understanding when Emergency Backup Dog went into their house and made herself at home.

The suburbs are a trip, man. Where we lived before was, I guess, technically suburban, but there was a mix of residential and retail in the immediate area that was more of a small-town feel. This is truly suburban. It’s streets and streets of houses with some commercial districts on the edges. We love it.

This week’s project is choosing paint colors. Then we’ll hire a painter to come in and slap paint on the walls (I have been *expressly* barred from doing it myself and don’t think I didn’t throw a tiny tantrum about it) and then I can FINALLY unpack things like books. I have way too many boxes of books and I might get rid of some of them, but I just culled the herd and I can’t imagine I have too many that I’m willing to part with. I guess we’ll see!

I do miss New Jersey, though. I mean, Ohio is where I was born and I grew up here, but I spent almost my entire adult life in fuckin’ New Jersey. Coming back to my ancestral land is proving to be a bit of an adjustment. People are VERY VERY VERY NICE HERE. Just… very nice. It’s weird. I’m not saying Jersey people are rude, but they know enough to leave you the hell alone because if you need help, you’ll ask for it. Here? OH MY GOD EVERYONE IS SO DAMN HELPFUL. It’s cute!

We’ll settle in here and it will be like I never left, except for the fact that I have to pump my own gas (that is BULLSHIT) and I will complain about it EVERY SINGLE TIME. It’s against my belief system! I didn’t have to pump gas for 22 years and I plan to complain about it AT LEAST that long. Fucking nonsense, is what that is.

But the trade-offs are many: we are closer to our families, we have tons of friends around, Cedar Point is 92 minutes away, and in a pinch, there is a Wegmans in Erie (2 hours door-to-door). I guess we’ll stay.

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Housekeeping!

Howdy, kids! It’s been awhile, no? I feel like I start tons of blog entries that way and although I’d really like to write more frequently, when things are boring around here there’s not much to say.

And by that, I am pleased to report that things are kind of boring around here! Yay! Sorta!

Freddie’s recovery continues apace. Physically, he’s almost 100% back to normal. He just has some lingering hand issues that he needs to have looked at. One, to make sure the fracture healed properly and two, his left ring finger is a bit messy. It looks like it was broken at some point and nobody noticed? Granted, that was the least of our worries at the time but the middle knuckle there is all enlarged and I think he can bend it okay but it’s a bit stiff. Shades of Jamie Fraser up in here, but I’m confident we can get it dealt with before I have to chop it off. We’ll see!

The eye thing is still going on. Not a huge amount of improvement there, but we figured as much. The doctor said that it takes TIME more than anything else and that he wouldn’t even consider surgery until six months have passed, which would put us at the beginning of March. The other doctor we consulted also said “TIME” but suggested some other things that aren’t quite LEGAL but… something something stem cells something and it was all very interesting but expensive-sounding and now I kinda wish we’d banked The Teenager’s cord blood when she was born but maybe that wasn’t an option due to the crazy way she arrived? I don’t remember. Anyway, we’re not doing that. We’re doing the waiting part.

We did get him new glasses, which look very cute. His old ones, god bless ’em, are still functional but the lenses were a bit scratchy (this happens when you slide down the road ON YOUR FACE). He has the prism on the one side but it’s less noticeable than it was before. He still looks crazy if you look at him directly but for the most part, we all forget that it’s there.

As for me, I am in a holding pattern of sorts. I had been taking tentative steps toward making something out of my life when I was thrust into this supportive caregiver role and I’m kind of stuck here right now. That’s fine. It’s not permanent. My job right now is to keep everyone alive (so far, so good), and oversee the shoveling out of the manse so we can put it up for sale. It should surprise no one that I am doing a half-assed job of it but it IS getting done. This house is going up for sale the first weekend of March and the realtor we’re working with is confident that we’ll have offers galore. I certainly hope so.

Because yeah, we are leaving New Jersey after 22 years. It’s bittersweet, since I truly love it here, but with ageing parents and whatnot, it makes sense for us to load up the wagons and go west, back to Ohio, to the place where I came from, my ancestral lands.

I worry sometimes that it’s the wrong decision. I don’t think it is, at least not for Freddie and for The Teenager, both of whom will benefit from a slightly relaxed environment. The suburbs of NJ are a high-pressure way to live, despite my very best efforts to live up to my generation’s Slacker reputation. There’s a lot of competition and bullshit in the schools and the job market here just NEVER FUCKING STOPS and we really don’t want to be in a position where one of us is working 25 hours a day, which has been the case in the past. We’re not doing that anymore, despite SOMEONE’S best efforts.

I do a lot of yelling. And now that he works from home, if I find he’s pushing it too far, I’ll just make a ton of noise. I’ll run the vacuum and that upsets the dogs and everyone starts yelling and a good time is had by all. I mean, it took me the better part of a decade to make him realize that work-life balance was even a THING and his was out of whack. Now I just have to make him pay attention to it. We’ll get there but yeeeeeesh.

So moving the fam to the other end of the time zone is going to be good for them, but I’m not 100% convinced it’s going to be good for ME. I left Ohio for reasons (and Reasons) and even though a lifetime has passed, I’m not sure I’m ready to revisit certain places and spaces. I already have a list of People To Avoid, like some kind of reverse scavenger hunt. That should be interesting.

And maybe it will all be okay. I know I’m not the same person I was when I left (except I am) and maybe other people aren’t either (except I bet they are). I will be open-minded about things. I’d hate for the State of Ohio to have to add to my police files, after all.

On the flip side of that, I am actually excited to be able to re-connect in person with a bunch of old friends. Thanks to the magic of the internet, there are a lot of people I’m still in touch with, but it will be so nice to be able to hang out in person again. That will help a lot.

And we’ll see how The Teenager does. It kind of hurts my heart to uproot her in the middle of her high school career, but it’s not like she’s even BEEN to high school yet. She was physically in her school building 10 times this year (so far) and that’s just dumb. She says she doesn’t care and that she’s looking forward to a fresh start but I still feel a little bit like I’m failing her? I think that’s all me. I know she will be fine and will probably thrive to the point where I’m mad at how well she’s doing. I hope so.

The other upside is that we’ll have a whole city to explore. New places new faces new food new beer new parks new lakes new new new new. The ADHD brain thrives on NEW BETTER FASTER MORE and hooooo boy we are going to be serving up a ton of that!

In the meantime, we are whipsawing between BORING AS HELL and TERRIFYING AS FUCK. Everything is normal.

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Unbreakable

Hi kids! Long time no see, eh?

That’s a good thing, you see. It means life settled down and got really boring.

Oh, except IT DID NOT. Life will never settle down and get boring ever again, apparently. This is fine.

Since we last spoke, Ol’ What’s-His-Name has improved by leaps and bounds. We had the Great Re-Toothening a couple of weeks ago and our dentist is a goddamn WIZARD with caps and implants and stuff and you can almost not even tell that his front tooth was replaced. The temporary one that was in there was taken out and a permanent crown was put in and he looks 99% like he used to, so there’s less of that body-snatchers feeling when I look at him.

We still haven’t ruled out a body-snatcher situation, but if he HAS been replaced, they did a good job on him. Close enough, you know?

He went to the facial surgeon this week to discuss the stitches in his upper jaw. They’re supposed to dissolve but he was still feeling them to off he went to the doctor. APPARENTLY, the discomfort he was feeling wasn’t stitches, it was a bit of leftover numbness from the plate they put in his jaw. Which… I’m sure someone told me that at some point in this journey but I have no memory of that conversation. Turns out I did get the Wolverine package in the rebuild, but I guess I have to pay for it piece by piece. Hrm. But everything looks good and is healing well and moving along nicely there.

I also sent Himself to see a neurologist, to chat about the eyeball thing and what the prognosis is and see if there were any other therapies or interventions he could take advantage of to speed this process up. There are a couple of things but they’re not feasible for us (for anyone, really) so the best/only thing to do there is WAIT. The doctor did discuss some kind of stem cell treatment situation, but he said it’s not FDA-approved and so he couldn’t *officially* recommend it, but y’know, it’s a thing that if you’ve heard of it and if you heard that maybe such-and-such doctor was researching it you could ask and see… ALLEGEDLY. But this alleged, totally hypothetical not-a-suggestion-at-all costs around $75K to do because insurance won’t even look at it so… yeah, homeboy is gonna have to WAIT for his brain to get around to fixing it on its own.

Patience turned out to be the theme to 2020. I have had to exercise a remarkable amount of grace and patience this year. I am not good at EITHER OF THESE THINGS but here we are. You know how when someone is counting to 10 in their head because they really want to just STRANGLE YOU so instead they take a deep breath through their nose and then whoosh it all out? THAT’S ME. I like to be the star of the show! I’M SUPPOSED TO BE THE BLACK HOLE THAT ALL THE ATTENTION GOES IN, YOU GUYS. That’s my role! That’s my comfort zone!

Fine, let’s call it “personal growth.”

I look at 2020 as a hill. It started out with me at the bottom of a near-vertical climb. I didn’t want to, but I started climbing. AND IT SUCKED. Then it started to even out a bit and the climb got a little easier for awhile. It never really flattened out completely, but it was manageable until The Bikening, and then it got vertical again. But I kept climbing. And I dragged the family along with me, even when they didn’t want to go. I carry all of these chuckleheads with me: Partial-Wolverine, The Teenager, Main Dog (and her ENDLESS NEEDINESS), Emergency Backup Dog (with the one leg that refuses to work anymore) and Auxiliary Cat (who poops on EVERYTHING and barfs on anything he doesn’t poop on). These are my people and BY GOD WE WILL END THIS YEAR TOGETHER AND INTACT IF I HAVE TO DRAG THEM ALL BY THEIR NOSTRILS.

This is a lot, as you can imagine. I am handling it… admirably, let’s say. After all, they’re all still ALIVE, which is really the baseline goal for any given year. I take care of my people and in return, they do whatever I say, all the time.

So even though everyone is more or less alive and whole, we aren’t going to be getting back to ‘normal’ anytime soon. There’s a lot of crazy stuff in the works for 2021, some of it BIG AND SCARY unknowns and some of it intentionally planned. I’m not sure how much of it will involve bicycles, however. And I’m not sure how much of it will be within my control. But I do know that I can handle it, because if this stupid year didn’t break me, nothing will.

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