My Immortal

Sunday was perfect. In spite of waking up with a headache, it was a relatively mild one and a single fioricet did the trick. It didn’t hurt that I took it with a cup of coffee, either. Within an hour, I was zinging around the house getting ready for Aubrey to come over and help with the Christmas decorations. We put up the outside lights and the tree, although we might have saved a lot of time and heartbreak if we’d remembered to test the damn lights first before hanging them from the eaves and bushes.

We got off to a bit of a rough start, with my chattering like a monkey and her monosyllabically responding. After an hour of my trying to make conversation and being met with, “Fine,” “OK,” “Yes,” No,” and “Sure,” I had a momentary flashback to my second marriage. I remember that I really did want to love Jon but he just irritated the fuck out of me to the point that I didn’t want to be around him, leading to our divorce. I wondered if one could divorce one’s children, and realized my mother divorced me years ago, so yes. Fortunately, I flashed forward again to the lessons learned during this, my third, marriage; sometimes it just takes a bit of patience and a whole lot of love to get back to where you love them again. Wait, you have to love them in order to love them? Yep. It’s not so much a fake it ’til you make it thing as it is an investment of time and self; of letting the other person know you think they are worth your love and attention. Especially if they are angry because they think that you don’t love them or want to be with them; it’s important to reassure them that you do love and want to be with them. To let them know that while home has changed, it is still home.

After we finished the lights, we were both freezing and had runny noses. I suggested hot chocolate and watching Love Actually, which if you read my blog, you know is my favorite Christmas movie. By the time the movie ended, we weren’t necessarily chatting, but things were better. We decided to put on Armageddon while we assembled the tree (I am soooo allergic to real trees), since we didn’t need to necessarily watch it as we’ve seen it several times. We hung the ornaments then I made pancakes and we blubbered and snuffled our way through Bruce Willis blowing himself up to save the world. Sugar, tears, and Christmas cheer all combined into chatty goodness. We stayed up until almost 2am watching Leverage and talking about school, Christmas presents, and the hot British guys that came into her restaurant a few days ago. She cross stitched and I knitted and life was wonderful.

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The only thing that made me sad was realizing how many ornament stories I’ve forgotten. Most of our ornaments have stories behind them; the who/where/why/when gets told each year as we either put them up or take them down. This year I found myself looking at so many of them, wondering when and where I got them. I took for granted that I would always know such things, that I had plenty of time to get around to writing them down. Now I know what a lie that was.

Thinking about the ornaments got me thinking about so many other things that my children don’t know but should, because they may want to know later or their children might ask them when I’m gone. While I don’t have grandchildren yet, there has to eventually be at least one, right? I mean considering the Vegas odds? By the time that kid gets here, I will be lucky to remember my own name.

There are a few things that have already been passed on. Now Aubrey makes my peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and my spiced hot chocolate even better than I do. Both kids have been taught how to crochet. I taught Aubrey to cross stitch and dye yarn. But there are recipes that exist only in my head, like my split pea soup, potato soup, sour cream pancakes, gingerbread cookies, pumpkin bread…or in Ron’s head, like his chicken and squash soup, or his mind blowing gluten free pizza. These are things the kids love but don’t know how to make, and I (we) have failed to teach them.

I have reached an age where memory loss is no longer a distant possibility, but is instead a fact of life. I can no longer trust that I will remember. I’ve come to realize that my life is not just MY life; it is also the lives of those around me, specifically my children. The things that I’ve done are the memories that their lives are made of. The places I took them, the foods I cooked them, the clothes I bought them, the games we played, all make up the people they are. That is my immortality. And they are what must be preserved.

 

 

 

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Helplessly, Hopelessly

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I am madly in love with my husband. Yup, the same one that not quite two years ago wanted a divorce. Who was that masked man? For that matter, who was I?

Things are so different now. He reaches for my hand when we’re out walking. He initiates hugs and cuddles. He actually touches me all the time, and I love it.

But I’m different, too. I make time for him. I used to think that I did, but really, I didn’t. We used to sleep in separate beds in separate rooms, seeing each other only at dinner or at lunch on the weekends. Now, “reading time” is inviolate and sacred. Movies stop, conversations stop, games are paused. When he’s ready for bed, I go lay down, too. We read, talk, discuss our day, plan the next day, remind each other of things that need to be done, and just connect. This is rarely a sexual thing, although connecting intellectually does lead to a better sex life (men, pay attention!!).

I have ridiculously insane insomnia, so I rarely stay in bed after he turns off the light. I will curl around him for a few minutes, then I get up and go back to whatever I was doing. I still manage to do all the stuff I want to do, but that twenty or thirty minute break makes all the difference in the world.

I wish I could say this is something that can fix any marriage, but anyone who says such things is full of crap. Some marriages just shouldn’t be saved. Habitual cheating? Nope. Untreated addictions? No way. Name on Ashley Madison hacked list? You’re outta here. Abuse of any kind? I’m so gone, you won’t even have time to blink.

But when it’s something as simple as, “We just don’t have anything in common anymore,” I think that can be fixed. C’mon, there are couples out there who are on opposite sides of the political and religious fences, and they manage to make it work. He leaves the seat up and you’re tired of asking him to put it down? I’m willing to bet that with a little bit of commitment on both parts, he can get over that. He thinks you nag about doing the dishes? Just out of curiosity, what are all the things he does that you don’t and that he doesn’t nag you about? The yard work? Car maintenance? Working every day?

I’m the LEAST gender role specific person you’ll likely ever meet, so please forgive my gender normative examples. Change pronouns, whatever, it doesn’t matter. The fact is, while there are things that you “always” have to do, there are things that your partner “always” has to do, too. If there aren’t, then that’s a different issue entirely. My point is, none of that stuff matters. IT DOESN’T MATTER.

What does matter is mutual respect. But before you demand it, you have to give it, first. Yup, be the bigger person. GIVE your partner all the benefit of all the doubts. None of this, “Well they don’t do that for ME, so why should I do it for them?” Do it for them anyway. People respond to love, respect, and attention.

While I dislike the “love is a flower” metaphor, relationships really are like flowers. You can stare at a wilting daisy and whine that if it’s not going to grow and bloom, you’re not going to water it. All you succeed in doing is killing the daisy. Relationships take faith. Faith that if you water it, it will bloom.

Water the flower. Weed it. Talk nicely to it. Watch it bloom. Then do it all over again.

Twenty minutes a day is free. It literally costs nothing to stop your life and pay attention to the person you’re sharing it with. You know what’s not free? Divorce attorneys. And you know what sucks more than spending time with someone you love? Dating weirdos you meet on the internet. Spend five minutes looking at Tinder profiles and you’ll be amazed at the level of commitment you’ll suddenly feel.

When you do something nice for someone, they usually want to do something nice back. Which will make you want to do something nice for them, etc. etc. etc… Spiral back up instead of spiraling down the, “they never” staircase.

Stop whining about what doesn’t happen and make something happen. You might be surprised.

Dance Dance Revolution

Just a few seconds can remind you why you fell in love with your partner. Ever since Matt was diagnosed, I’ve had to make a ton of effort to keep my fragile-bound marriage from crumbling completely under the stress. This is actually a good thing, because focusing on my marriage keeps me from being overwhelmed with panic for my son. On the flip side, when one person is putting forth way more energy than their partner, it can breed a little resentment along the way. That’s where I’ve found myself lately; I have walked quietly and carefully over the past few weeks so that Ron doesn’t get super stressed about all the things we have to do as parents of a sick adult child. Although I know that I have a million reasons to love my husband, it’s nice to have tangible evidence.

So what happened to feed that little spark? Night before last, I was trying to design a crocheted bodice for a dress that I’m collaborating on with a friend. I normally watch/listen to a tv show or movie while I play with my yarn, and I chose Star Trek: Into Darkness. I found myself too absorbed by the tv and realized I needed something fluffier that required less attention, so I started catching up on Glee. I was streaming and for whatever reason, the video was really jerky. As Ron was walking past, he stopped during one of the dance scenes and commented on my slow bit rate. He said, “See, I can dance like Glee, too!” and he did a dorky little dance.

Why is it that a few seconds of an impromptu dance does more to make me feel loved than all the cups of coffee, bowls of oatmeal, and loads of folded laundry that Ron does every day? I honestly don’t know, but I think it has to do with vulnerability. He never, ever dances, so to see him joke around made me feel safe and loved. While it might sound kind of silly, I thought it was incredibly sexy.

Yesterday was pretty awesome, too. We went to the Fiesta fireworks at Fort Sam and ate ridiculously overpriced carnival food, listened to torturous cover bands, and watched Aubrey ride a couple of ridiculously overpriced carnival rides. We were there for about four hours before the fireworks started. Ron only complained a few times. That’s damned miraculous, because he normally complains incessantly (he and his cat have much in common). Once again, I felt loved. We rarely go to any kind of event, so just the act of going made the whole day special, and to hear him say he liked the fireworks was just icing.

Considering where we were just three months ago, we are leaps and bounds ahead. Yes, we take our marriage one day at a time, but that’s how any marriage works. It’s all that I can hope for.

Whip It! Whip It Good!

Busy days! Our weather has been insane, with temps ranging from 29 degrees one day to 69 degrees the next. While the cold days have me curled up in the bed in pain, the gorgeous days have me filled with energy. Yesterday was one of those gorgeous days, and it also happened to be Aubrey’s day off, so the great room swap of 2014 pushed on!

For those of you just joining in, I’ve been trying to get Aubrey’s room swapped with what was my office/den. The only problem is that my daughter’s room looks like Goodwill threw up. She loves to go thrifting, and is VERY good at it, so there are designer clothes EVERYWHERE. Then there’s her shoe addiction, which is evident by the ridiculous number of shoes this child has. On top of those two clutter-creating things, she has tons of art supplies, books, and knick knacks. She never gets rid of anything, and it has become a major issue because her room stinks.

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When Aubrey moved back home in January 2012, I bought a filter for an air purifier that we had lying around, hoping it would keep the dog smell down. A few days ago when Matt and Amanda came over to help me move furniture around, we noticed a thick layer of dust on every surface in Aubrey’s room. The curtains were white with dog hair, the bed skirt was the same, and the ceiling fan was a health hazard. I know she’s a slob, but we’ve never had that problem with the rest of the house. We were baffled by what could have caused it. In the morning, I woke her up so she could start dusting down the walls; fortunately, it was just dust, not greasy or oily. As we cleaned, I decided to order new filters. I took apart the purifier to find the filter model number and found the source of the pollution. The filter had over an inch of dog hair clogging it. GROSS! It was a solid chunk that I peeled off in one piece. Needless to say, we unplugged the purifier until the new filters arrive on Friday. Thank goodness for Amazon’s two day delivery.

I’m super excited about moving Ron’s computer out of our bedroom. I’m angling to get a king size bed, which won’t fit until the desk and the comfy arm chair are gone. I’m also dying to paint that room, which can’t be done until there is less stuff in there. But the first thing that I’m going to do is replace the curtains. We’re still living with the hideous blue sheet looking things that were hanging when we moved in. Our walls are a sickly green, and the ceiling has acoustic tiles that are falling down. Yup, it’s time to make a change in that room.

In between our cleaning days, I’ve been crocheting up a storm as I finish a baby blanket for Ron’s boss. I also joined an Artist Trading Card group, so I’ve had a ball tearing up magazines and covering everything with Mod Podge. Having a clean, organized, bright and sunny room is going to make all of that stuff more fun when I have less of a scramble to find my supplies.

I think the thing that has surprised me most is how much time I have with the house clean. Or I should say, how much guilt free time I have. Since it only takes a few minutes in each room to keep everything clean, I have the rest of the day to relax and do the creative stuff. My whole life, I’ve procrastinated the chores and snuck my craft/reading/napping time, which wasn’t as much fun as it could be because I was stressed out about everything being a mess. I wish I could go back in time ten years and slap me. My only hope is that I can instill some good habits in Aubrey before she moves out on her own.

Yesterday, I managed to get all the Amy snot off the windows, the curtains washed, and the walls clean. We threw out five bags of trash and swept the floor three times. Of course, the living room is now a disaster, but as anyone who ever owned a Rubik’s Cube knows, sometimes you have to break one to fix another. Of course, while Aubrey was moving stuff from the living room into her new room, I took advantage of the time and cleaned the laundry room and bathroom. While both of those rooms are still far from “CLEAN,” they are no longer disgusting and don’t make me want to cry quite so much.

Today, we’re taking a small break to run some errands, but before we leave, we are moving the bed. Aubrey has to be at work early today, so while she’s getting dressed, I’m going to swiffer and orange glo the floor, then IN goes the computer! WHOO HOO!

As an update for those of you who are following along with my marriage drama, night before last, we made a frittata for dinner, talked about the horrid IT department at Ron’s company, and Ron made popcorn as our bedtime snack. We laughed and kissed and it was wonderfully normal. Sigh. I love those days. They are what live for.

The Bright Side of Life

Just when I think things are going well, it turns out they’re not. I hate this inconsistent roller coaster of emotions. Yesterday was one of those days where I just wanted to call it and be done. But I won’t. Marriage is about commitment, and I am committed. Or maybe I should be committed? Not sure.

Dinner has been ready every week night by the time Ron gets home. The dishes are done before bed. The dishwasher is unloaded every day. Our bed is made every morning. All the laundry gets done by Friday afternoons so Ron has the weekend free to do other stuff. In other words, he’s getting all he asked for. He’s definitely less stressed, but he’s still not happy.

Last night, we had a long talk about where our relationship is going, what are our boundaries, what we each want and don’t want. Ron spent his formative teenage years being raised by his dad in a somewhat emotionally bereft home. There were no hugs, no “I love you” as he walked out the door, and no example of what a good marriage is. While I certainly didn’t have a good example in my parents, I had plenty outside my home; as I’ve gotten older, I have friends with good marriages who have still had tough times but have seen it through. Best of all examples though, is having been married twice before. I realize what is good, what is bad, what stays, what goes, and above all else, I know that wherever I go, there I am. In other words, I recognize what is my issue vs. what is a marital issue.

But Ron doesn’t have that. He said that, “It was fun at first, but then that went away.” I laughed (I couldn’t help it) and explained that of course the fun went away; that the falling in love feeling only lasts for a while. He also said he loved me as a friend; I said I love him as a friend, too; that as marriage goes along, friendship is what we’re left with and what gets us through. I don’t think I’m just being stubborn. We have the same values, our politics are similar although I’m more passionate, we support each other, we respect each other, and most importantly, we make each other laugh. For me, that’s worth fighting for. We balance each other out in that he keeps me grounded and I keep him human.

My ex-husband used to tell me to stop focusing on making the right decision and focus instead on making my decision right. In other words, once you make your choice, learn to live with it. So I see the bright side of things. Goodness, if I didn’t see the positive, I would never have escaped my childhood. However, Ron sees the negative of everything. It’s all he ever thinks about. Things will NEVER work, things will NEVER change, he will NEVER get a new job, I will NEVER keep the house clean…so much NEVER and not enough MAYBE.

So I asked him to engage in a small experiment before we really call it quits. He said it seemed like too much, so I said we’d start with something really simple. He does enjoy kissing, so I asked him to kiss me goodnight and goodbye every day for the next two weeks, and that we wouldn’t talk about our relationship at all during these two weeks. He didn’t understand what I meant, so I kissed him the way I want to be kissed, just to make sure he had the idea.

Two kisses and a whole lot of under cover time later, he saw the possibilities in my request. Of course, I know the science behind it: kissing and cuddling releases oxytocin, which is a neuromodulator that is responsible for pair bonding. In other words, kissing someone makes you feel closer to that person. Touching also releases oxytocin, so this morning when I heard his alarm go off, I snuggled close and rubbed his back (under his shirt) for a good while. He ended up late to work, but I got one hell of a goodbye kiss. After twelve hours, I thought we were on to a successful start.

Can we kiss our way back to him being in love? No, it’s going to take more than that. But it’s a simple start, easy enough to do, and doesn’t cost anything, all requirements for an effort from Ron. We still have other things to work on, particularly communication, but other than communication, they are generally superficial things…the house, the laundry, the dishes, the bills, the debt. I can effect a change in him simply by doing my part in those areas.

Being in love is really just a decision made every day to be in love. Being married is just a decision made every day to stay married. Can he make that decision? I don’t know. But last night and this morning definitely give me a LOT of hope, and that’s better than not having any hope at all.

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Still The One

A month ago, just a few days into my planned six week vacation in Connecticut, my husband told me (over the phone) that he wanted a divorce. He says this periodically; I pull teeth to figure out exactly what’s bothering him, we work on it, things get better, life moves on. I cut my vacation in half, but while I was there, I made sure to talk to him at least once a day. Things seemed to be okay, and he said he missed me.

This time ’round, he said he was tired of the house being a mess and having to take care of me all the time. Both of those are an easy fix, especially since he (mostly) cleaned while I was gone. I’ve stayed on top of it pretty well, helped with the laundry as much as I can, and I’ve tried to have dinner ready when he gets home without asking him the dreaded question of, “What do you want for dinner?” Everyone hates that question.

Here we are two weeks later, the house is still clean (ish), the bed is made every morning (no hospital corners, but who cares?), all the laundry is done, and I’ve had enough energy to shower every day (a huge accomplishment, trust me). Things are better. They are not perfect, but no marriage ever is.

These are the days that are the hardest of any marriage; the, “God, I do not want to be here with this person,” days. I know we’ve had them before, and as my friend always says, “This too shall pass.” Although lately, I feel more like Gandalf; “You shall not pass!” I feel mired and sad and lonely and unwanted, and I am waiting for it to pass. And waiting. And waiting.

We’ve both made more of an effort to spend time together. Today when I had the car, I realized he didn’t take a lunch, so I called him to see if he wanted me to pick him up or take him something, and he decided that I should pick him up. When I got there, he said he forgot that today is the day of the week that a local restaurant sells barbecue plates in the lobby. I asked him if he wanted to just stay and eat there, and he said, “No, I WANT to have lunch with you.” That made my entire week. Seriously.

When I had a crappy day because someone unfriended me on facebook last weekend, Ron made it better. I know I unfriend people all the time, but this is someone I considered family, and they not only ditched me, but my kids, too. It was personal, and the reason was ridiculous. Ron made me laugh about it and pointed out all the reasons I wouldn’t notice she was gone.

Marriage is work. Unlike work, you can’t just call in sick. You have to be there everyday, rain or shine, good mood or bad. For better, for worse, in sickness, and in health. Suck it up and stick it out.

At the end of the day, I can honestly say my husband is still my best friend. He still makes me laugh and he still turns me on. As we fast approach our 11th wedding anniversary, (well, limp along towards it), he is still the person that I most want to be with. He’s smart, funny, sexy, and gorgeous. He plays a killer game of Cards Against Humanity. He makes amazing salads. He’s a great dad. He’s good, kind, honest, and has a sense of integrity that is nearly impossible to find nowadays. He is worth the work.

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There You Are

Life can never be all good, but it can certainly be almost all good. Poor Aubrey’s had a pretty crappy week, but yesterday was the start of a whole new week, so it’s got to get better, right?

In spite of having to suck up my severe sacroiliac pain until Friday the 8th, things are going relatively well. Ron and I have actually been getting along much better, which has put a circle of sunshine around all the other things going on. He’s been rubbing my back with Pennsaid every day, and taking care of all the house stuff as usual. Plus we’ve been talking a whole lot more, mainly because our bed is the only spot in the whole house where I can sit comfortably for any length of time, so I’ve been in the bedroom where he is instead of us being on opposite sides of the house.

Yesterday as we were making breakfast, I realized how much I love Sunday mornings. We often cook breakfast together on Sundays…omelettes, sausage, pancakes, fried potatoes, toast, scrambled eggs…a wide selection of combinations, always with freshly ground and pressed coffee. Ron makes the best coffee, although my omelettes are better than his by far (he admits this freely). When we cook together, we joke and talk, laugh and throw playful insults around. He always defers to me when I’m cooking, as everything he’s learned to make, he learned from me, except for spaghetti, of course.

I stopped stirring the potatoes and wrapped my arms around his waist to give him a hug. I told him how much I enjoy cooking with him. I never tell him these things anymore, but I’ve expected him to say them. He laughed and hugged me back, then gave me a kiss. It’s amazing how much a change of attitude can cause a change in perspective.

Matt had a fantastic week. He was offered his own radio show on the college station, so he has the late Wednesday night time slot. He’s excited because he didn’t think he’d get any air time this semester, between working two jobs and taking a full course load, including video editing, which is supposed to be a killer class. He got an A on his first project, and enjoyed doing it, so now he’s thinking of going that direction rather than talent management. He has plenty of time to decided, and he may find he hates it by the end of the semester.

Meanwhile I’m going through Matt music withdrawal. He hasn’t recorded anything in ages because he needs a new audio interface. He plans to get one with his tax return, so I should only have to wait a few weeks, but it sucks. The day his interface died, he had said he’d give me two new songs by midnight if I bought him a pizza. I ordered one online and had it sent to him, but by 10pm, I still didn’t have my songs. That’s when he gave up trying to get his interface to work and officially declared a time of death.

While weekend before last was a bust as far as finding Aubrey a car, we managed to get one last Friday. I found a 97 Honda Accord station wagon with only 125,000 miles on it (REALLY! The odometer does work!) for a whopping $2000. I took it to our mechanic for a once-over, and he said it’s in fantastic condition except for some oil seepage and a refrigerant leak. Other than that, he said I got a screaming deal, since this model is supposed to be an excellent, safe, reliable model with decent gas mileage. Considering Aubrey and I judge vehicles by the number of bodies that can be crammed in the trunk (this one could hold probably a dozen or more with the seats down), we’re both happy with it, although I want to switch out the factory radio, ASAP.

In general, things are looking up. Or maybe it’s just me. At least I am old enough to know that wherever you go, there you are. I know I can’t run away from problems, and instead, have to at least try to work them out. Moving across the country will be great, but it’s not going to make my marriage any more magical and sparkly than it is here.

“When I’m looking for the light in the middle of the night, searching for the brightest star…there you are.”