Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Friends In My Head

Once upon a time, long, long ago... Ok, so it was last May, after I was blessedly laid, layed, whatever, off. I have always been mighty sucklicious at the whole lay lie thing, get over it if I am wrong. I was looking on Monster.com to try to decide if I wanted to stay in my field, do something else, get a boob job and some lipo and become a trophy wife, you know, exploring my options. They have an extensive boob job section on Monster dontcha know? There I found a link that led me to my new obsession: exploration of blogs. The link led me to the blogfather, Waiter Rant. And so it began. I was on the road to collecting my blog friends in my head. Much thanks for the "friend in my head" concept to Wendy Williams, the Queen of all Media, who I discovered after Howard Stern went to Sirius, and I was still making the commute from hell to get to and from work everyday. Someday I will write a post about how a white thirty seven-year-old woman from the uptight lily-white suburbs ended up listening to a black radio station. That’s a good story too. Today, I want to talk about who I love on the net, and why. I always thought blogs were something stupid horny junior high kids wrote to talk about the cute boy or girl they sit next to, and how mean their parents are for not letting them smoke pot in the house. Turns out some pretty cool people are writing some pretty cool stuff out here on the Internet.

I read through all the Waiter’s posts. I liked his irreverent reverence. His allusions to his decision to leave the seminary intrigued me. His posts about his wrestling with his religious convictions were experiences I could relate to wholeheartedly. I loved his insightful Aesopesque tales about happenings at the bistro where he works. His musings about his youth, relationships, his family, and his joint custody, and the intrigue at the dog park. So, man, I loved this guy. Oh, my God, thank you Jesus, God Bless America, GOOOOAAAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was thrilled out of my mind to have something, anything intelligent to read. Something that had some thought behind it, something that spoke to my soul and touched my heart and piqued my curiosity. I know a lot of wickedly intelligent people, and have some great conversations with them, but since my Mom and Dad died I have had two less wickedly intelligent people to talk to. My parents were two of the people who I could most easily talk to, so I have been intellectually lonely. I really needed some kind of sustenance for my brain. I’d read every damn book and magazine I have more than twice. I became in serious danger of being banned from both Barnes and Noble and Borders for hanging out and reading two or three books a day. Leaning up against the wall, Starbucks coffee clutched in my voracious little hands, blocking their aisles as I paced, and read and talked to myself. Thank God I found people with neurons that synapse effectively on the Internet. I would have otherwise slipped into a coma of complete lack of hope for the world months ago.

So, on the Birds of Feather Flock Together theory of life, I checked out the blogs Waiter linked to. Some I really liked, like Opinionistas, Clublife, The Hollywood Machine, and El Guapo in DC, and more recently the Barmaid Blog. Some not so much, some sucked big donkey dick, some had interesting ideas, but were so poorly written, and/or flat out stupid I just clicked back on my browser and tried again. These blogs I liked, and even some of those I didn’t like, led me to other blogs I have fallen in love with like D-Listed, Dooce, Post Secret, and Wide Lawns. I also discovered all kinds of things on the Internet I never knew about through mentions on these sites. I feel a lot less lonely in the world with my problems with my family. To know I am not the only one who is surrounded by people who make them upset, are so fundamentally different from them that it is amazing we are from the same planet, never mind family, and who love those people so fiercely and wholly that they would fight and kill and die for them. I found Craigslist which I totally love, for the freaks alone, not to mention the actual functionality. I found all kinds of place to shop, and eat, and learn. I am in total intellectual stimulation heaven. I have a lot more fun, and am a lot more able to be patient, and truly engaged, when I actually go outside and talk to people live in person because of the time I spend reading and writing in the vast and anonymous world of the Internet.

After I had been reading for a few months I decided to write. I needed to write. When I first went to college right after high school, I was an English major. I have always loved to both read and write. I know that when you write something, the meaning it has to you is lost to all but you. The experience of reading what someone has written is informed by all your own experiences and perceptions. I do not know any of these blogers I love. I do not know how they feel about what they write or why they write, I just know what it means to me. When I comment on their posts, or send them e-mail, I do not know if they are amused, or intrigued, or bored, or insulted, or if they feel validated or misunderstood. I have always been stingy with my writing. I did not want to share; I did not care how anybody felt, or what anything I wrote meant to them. At times I chose to share with a friend or family member, or some man who had managed to keep my attention for more than a New York minute. Frequently I had to share with a boss or teacher for whom I had to write something. I have always had a lot of positive support for having accomplished the task I had set out to perform. Now I am enjoying being selfish in a different way. I am sharing my writing now, and I hope if anyone reads it, that their perceptions and experiences converge to make what I write validating for them. My new selfishness is in that I write what I want, when I want, how I want. It is all about me, and I am utterly fascinated with myself, as you should be with yourself.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am cooking a small dinner for my younger sister and me tomorrow. Most of the rest of my family has moved to the Midwest to be Fundamentalist Christian Republicans. I have no idea how I ended up related to them. When I was a child I always hoped I was adopted, no such luck. My parents assured me I was indeed theirs, and the hospital gave them the right kid when they took me home.

I hope anyone who reads this is having a pleasant, low stress, relaxing holiday with people who do not piss you off too much, and some delicious food you do not have to cook or buy because that is the best kind.

We all have a lot to be grateful for, if you cannot think of something, think harder.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


One of the hardest things to deal with for my family has been the behavior of my oldest sister. She has been the source of a lot of pain for all of us. I am not sure exactly what her problem is in a lot ways. I know she suffered some brain damage as a result of a birth defect that was not corrected in a timely fashion, mainly because medical science had not yet discovered it. Her doctor, who took care of her once the medical problem was discovered, was the pioneer in the treatment, and was a world class and world renowned expert in his field. I talked about it with my Mom and Dad very often and in great depth. My parents explained that she had some very mild retardation as a result of the brain injury. This meant she would not be a rocket scientist, not that she could not go to school or work, or be a nice person. She has had, since her early teens, a terrible drinking problem. Though she did stop drinking about two years ago, there are just some things about her, her personality, and the ramifications of her abject failures as a parent that have been devastating to our family.

When my sister was twelve, she was ultimately removed from our home, made a ward of the state, and placed in a "home" by the state child protective services. This action was taken after my parents had exhausted all other avenues available to them at the time. The incident that touched off this removal was my sister’s attempt to burn down this very house for the second time. The door to the room she set the fire in that second time still is broken where the policeman kicked it in. My other older sister had tried to hold me away from what was going on when my Dad was trying to get my sister out. I wriggled free, and clearly remember watching the policeman knock the door in. I remember seeing my sister kneeling on the floor in her nightgown, feeding the small fire she had going. I remember the flames reflected on her face. I remember how it felt like all the air and life was sucked out of the atmosphere as I watched the police stamp out the fire, and drag her kicking and screaming from the house. Imagine the Exorcist, only worse. I was three; my Mom was pregnant with my youngest sister. Holy fucking shit, I still have no idea what the hell happened.

My sister has three kids. They are each about a year apart in age. She claims the youngest two have the same father, but that seems quite unlikely as the second child’s father was in jail at the time the third child would have had to of been conceived, but we really don’t know. Her kids are all in their early twenties now. The middle child has been married since she was eighteen, and left home several months before her eighteenth birthday. The youngest child has a two year old, who, by the way, is one of the freaking cutest little people I have ever met, and her oldest, her son, is a special needs person due in small part to a family predisposition for mental illness, but mainly to the fact that she drank heavily, and with abandon throughout her first pregnancy. He lives with her, I suspect in large part due to the fact she gets money and subsidized housing for having him there, and it sure beats getting a job and taking responsibility for herself. She also drank during her other pregnancies, but because she was living with the second child’s father’s family during the other two pregnancies her access to alcohol was limited, and she had a lot of people around giving her a lot of crap about eating right and going to the doctor.

One of the hardest things to deal with in being her sister, or her family in general, as it seems we have all discussed it at some point in spite of all our dysfunction, is that she lies, has an incredibly rich fantasy life, and apparently has absolutely no recollection of all the absolutely horrible things she has done to us all. My Mom and Dad made a lot of terrible mistakes themselves. However, I feel at some point, you must come to terms with yourself about you own childhood. When you are a child you cannot protect yourself, you cannot go some place else, and you cannot do much to affect change in your family dynamic. When you are a grown up, things that were difficult for you growing up color your life as an adult, but as an adult, you can choose who you will be, and how you will interact with the world, and the people in your life. My sister has never taken any responsibility for her actions, or the consequences of her actions to anyone, especially herself.

Inherent to their ages, and the point they are in their lives, all her kids are grappling with the inconsistencies of the world as presented to them by their Mom, and how the rest of the world perceives everything to have played out. I know how terrifying and heartbreaking it was for me to be my sister’s sibling; I cannot imagine how it must have been for her children. My sister has made a lot of decisions in her life that put her children in danger. A lot of terrible things happened to those kids. But she is their Mom. I know from experience that you can create a healthier relationship with your parents after a "bad childhood," but mine was a picnic in the park comparatively. That relationship cannot work unless the parent is willing to work at it too, I think. My sister will not even talk to her kids about what happened in their lives. She tells them all the things they experienced never happened. No matter who you are, or what happens in your life, what your Mommy says matters. To have their mother tell them that nothing bad ever happened, and she never did anything that hurt them is very hard for them right now.

I pray so hard for them all that they will be ok. I see them all trying to learn from scratch what "people do" and trying to figure out ways for themselves to deal with their Mom in a way that is ok for them. Since she is their Mom they want to have her in their lives, and since she is such a hot mess, they feel compelled to take care of her. So ironic since she hardly did anything that can be construed as taking care of them. But, they are scared and angry now, and have a long hard road ahead of them toward healing their hearts, and souls and figuring out who they want to be. The greatest sorrow of my parents’ lives, my fathers’ in particular, was what they felt was their failure as a parent to my oldest sister. Truly, my parents made some decisions as parents that were, and are, utterly incomprehensible. At the time my sister was a child, the resources for families with children with behavioral difficulties and special needs simply did not exist. Both my parents had less than ideal childhoods as well, and were ill equipped to deal with a child with such needs, as well as four other children who had varying degrees of difficulties of their own. But, the most important thing about my childhood, and that of my siblings, is that it is over, and we know better.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I Have an Owie

I’ve been very busy with family stuff the past few days. There is quite a lot going on, and I am doing my best not to "fix" everything. My family is never concerned if they are asking too much of me, or if they are a burden, or if they are annoying me, or taking advantage of me. Poopie heads. Also, I had to have an endoscopy yesterday, and I feel like I have internal road rash because my doctor took a bunch of biopsies. She is pretty sure I am the proud owner of some pretty gnarly ulcers, but there is nothing major the matter. I have a lot of stuff I want to write about, but I am distracted with things I want to get done around the house. Plus there’s the whole I really ought to get a job thing looming in the background.

Here’s a list of stuff in the past few days that have made me happy, pleased, or amused:

  • My nephew doing a wicked impression of my foul language when I am exasperated in some home improvement project or another, complete with inflection and hand motions. He’s 22, relax, I am not corrupting the youth of America.
  • The beautiful leaves on the trees outside my kitchen window.
  • My demented cat.
  • My sisters.
  • My house.
  • My car.
  • Men, seriously they are fun as hell, and fun to look at too.
  • Matthew Perry, I love Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I don't care if anybody else does.
  • Law and Order in all its incarnations except SVU.
  • Good drugs and great nurses at my endoscopy.
  • Hot smooth soup on my sore throat.
  • Music.
  • My ability not take myself too seriously, while simultaneously effectively communicating to others that I am not one with whom to fuck.
  • Help from beyond the grave from my Dad whose tools, and equipment, and supplies I use every day.
  • Good toilet paper.
If I can teach the world something today may it be to never skimp on the toilet paper.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Church is an immense presence in my family. I, like most Roman Catholics, have a lot of issues with the Church. Some of them are ethical, some are personal, and some are crises of faith within myself. In our town there are four Roman Catholic churches, one downtown, one in the boonies, one on the west side shoreline and one on the east side shoreline. I’ve been to all of them lots of times.

The west side church was my Mom’s parish when she was a little girl. The house she lived in was her family’s summerhouse, and after World War II they moved down to the summerhouse permanently. The east side church was my Dad’s parish when he was a kid. His family moved to that neighborhood when he was in high school. The downtown church has been the place where I have gone to lots of weddings, funerals, and baptisms. The boonie church was the church my family went to when I was little, until I was in third grade. When I was in fifth grade, my parents began sending us to Catholic school in the parish where my Mom grew up. This is still the church we go to when we go to church just to go to church, and where we do all our "Catholic" stuff.

I am cool with God. My problem is with religion. It seems to me the more I learn about any religion, including my own, the more religion seems to serve to separate us from each other and whatever it is we call God. There seems to be a lack of comprehension of the meaning in the performance of the rituals, a lack of conviction in the espousing of the dogma, and an abundance in the use of God and religion as an excuse to persecute others on many levels. As has been said many times, more evil has been perpetuated in the name of God, than for any other cause, in the history of humankind. Everyone is so concerned with the idea that my God can beat up your God that it is not common practice to recognize and embrace the similarities of belief and humanity between all religions. All religions want to characterize themselves as superior. All religions want to purport to provide their proponents with the highest form of salvation possible. All religions have elitism, sexism, and classism ingrained.

The reason my parents stopped going to the boonie church was due to a falling out with the head priest. According to the Catholic Church my parents were not married and their children were illegitimate. This is because my Dad was divorced. If you are divorced you can through a lengthy and vigorous process to get an annulment, which basically makes your old marriage, the one you got divorced from, not to have existed in the eyes of the Church. You need to do all kinds of interviews, and all kinds of testimony, and get all kinds of witnesses. This was technically a piece of cake for my Mom and Dad. My Dad had become a single father with full physical and legal custody of three children in 1968. Eventually the courts stripped his first wife of all parental rights and my Mom legally adopted my older siblings. Trust me, you have to be one screwy character to have your kids completely taken away, even now. For a MOTHER to have this done was very unusual at the time.

The problem came in with the annulment process and some decisions my parents made. My Mom and my Dad, to a great extent, but to a lesser extent than my Mom, were heavily involved in church activities. At that time priests from several parishes in the area lived together in this gorgeous house I absolutely loved. It had tons of bedrooms and bathrooms, and a pool, and huge yard to play in. My Mom and Dad helped them a lot. My Mom took care of their administrative work, and my Dad fixed stuff. This was a wonderful experience for me and for other kids whose parents were also involved. It was a life forming experience to get to know the priests as people and get to know about my religion in such a way. It was fun to see the Italian priest cook and fight in Italian with his sister when she came to visit. To spend time reading and looking at art books with the priest who was an art historian, to get to know the tiny little priest who always wore cowboy boots, and the priest who had a dog a took everywhere.

My Mom and Dad became especially close friends with the priest with the dog. They were all about the same age, and had a lot of similar experiences of childhood as Catholics. They experienced the transition of the Church through Vatican II, and had vivid, and humorous to me, memories of masses said in Latin with the priest’s back to the congregation. He came to visit us very often. We all loved him and his dog. He was funny and kind, and loved children. He was working with my Mom and Dad to process my Dad’s annulment. The seventies were a great time of change and development for the Catholic Church in American, and many priests, parishes and parishioners were breaking with Vatican sanctioned dogma and protocol. One issue with my parents was the fact that neither of them could receive communion because my Dad was divorced. The irony of the fact that this was so important to them, and that I am just not able to make that leap on transubstantiation has not escaped me. This was especially painful for my Mom. After talking with the priest with the dog, my Mom began to receive communion again. This was cool with everyone. No other parishioners gave her any shit about it, and others began to also explore their faith and make conscious decisions to embrace the Church and technically disobey it at the same time, you know by doing stuff like not having Irish twins, and being gay.

Meanwhile that really nice priest with the dog who loved kids and was helping my parents with the annulment was also going through a crisis of faith himself. A crisis he discussed at length with my Mom and Dad, as well as, of course, other friends and confidants. In the Catholic Church priests and nuns cannot get married and/or have children. This is a vow they take in dedicating their life to the Church. As I am sure most people know from negative press the Church has received in recent years the Catholic Church handles dissention in the ranks, and discipline of their clergy in prescribed manner. Wherein the transgressing clergy person is shuffled off to a retreat to explore their transgression, and make decisions about moving forward in the Church. A big huge fat transgression is choosing to leave the active priesthood to do funky crap like date so you can meet someone you like and marry them and have babies. The priest with the dog really desperately wanted to be a Daddy, and only slightly less desperately wanted to be a husband. As you can imagine this was a major problem for our parish. Everyone loved him and would miss him, and the founding priest of the parish was furious.

The founding priest was the problem. Lets pretend his name was Father Judas. Father Judas had founded the parish in the late sixties, and my parents and others joked behind his back that he thought the parish was called Saint Father Judas. He was not a big fan of the young, hip, socially relevant priest with the dog. He thought this guy was going to screw everything up. So, when the priest with the dog got shuffled off the Arizona by the Church to reflect upon his decision, Father Judas was happy as a pig in shit. To celebrate, the first Sunday after the priest with the dog left, Father Judas refused to give my Mom communion while she was standing right there in line, and it was her turn. He admonished her, and kicked her out of the Church. So, we stopped going to church regularly. My parents kept in touch with the priest with the dog, and eventually we got a Christmas card of him with a picture of him with his wife, a former nun who he met after leaving the priesthood, and their baby. So, this is why I have a problem with religion. God does not give a shit if we love someone so much we want to marry them. God does not give a shit about Father Judas’ ego. God wants us to believe in something beyond ourselves. For our lives to have meaning, and for us to have solace in difficult times, and camaraderie in happy times. This is why I am trying to decide if I am going to give up on being Catholic. I want to be closer to God. I do not want to be separated from my faith by bureaucratic bullshit and rules created a long time ago to give order to a society radically different from the one we now live in. Rules that are enforced by people who are more interested in being in charge than in being Christian.

Friday, November 10, 2006


While I have been settling into being the proud owner of a construction site, I have been on an unplanned and much needed hiatus from working. I had a job where I was unhappy and was fortunate enough to be laid off a few months ago. I am incredibly, terrifyingly good at what I do for a living. I am too smart for my own good, and understand too much. There really was not enough for me to do at my job, so I was laid off for "lack of work." I always feel uncomfortable at work, as I always feel like a lot of people are waiting around for me to fuck something up, and the more I do not fuck up, the more hostile they become. This of course does not bode well for my enthusiasm to get my ass out of bed and go to work. I am sure that the door of displeasure swings both ways, and am at a complete loss as to how to change how I feel and function at work in order for it to not suck so much. This time away from work has been a wonderful time for me, so much so, that I have more than once wanted to write a thank you note to the man who fired me. I have been trying to decide what I want to do about my career. Undoubtedly, I need to go back to work in order to support my ridiculous habit of living indoors with heat and all.

Unfortunately I have realized I am afraid to go to work. I find job interviews to be utterly humiliating and dehumanizing. My complete failure to master even the basics of work place obsequiousness has led me to have a complete lack of confidence in my ability to ever get a job that does not suck huge donkey dick every day. I do not want to ever be in the position where I feel I cannot defend myself for fear of losing a job again. But, in the work place, telling people who desperately need it to go fuck themselves is career suicide. I have no idea why bullies are tolerated in the work place. I have no idea what purpose they serve except to drive the truly talented and capable out the door. I have no idea why it is the norm and the expectation to aspire to mediocrity and gleefully fall short. I have no idea how I will ever function in a working environment again. Things have never been easy for me at work. I have no patience for all the inherent junior high school level of social interaction that life at work entails. I do not care who is fucking whom. I do not play golf of possess the ability to give a shit about someone else’s golf score. I do not want to go to pseudo social work related events. I want to go to work each day, get some shit done, and go the fuck home and spend time with my family and friends.

I’m doomed.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Today is Election Day!

Please vote today. There are people fighting and killing and dying for us. We owe it to them to vote.

Less than one hundred years ago, in 1920, an Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America was passed that granted women the right to vote. We owe it to all the women who could not vote, and who fought for that right, to vote.

Less than fifty years ago, in 1964, an Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America was passed that granted all people the right not to be impeded from voting. We owe it to the people who fought so valiantly for our civil rights to exercise them and vote today.

The people who founded our country knew they were imperfect and that a country that could not, or would not, change when things were no longer working could not survive that is why they made our Constitution a living document. A tribute to the possibilities of the human race. We owe it to everyone not fortunate enough to have the right to vote to exercise that right which we so cavalierly take for granted.


Monday, November 6, 2006

Fear and Loathing in DIY (III of III)

So, me and the shrink obviously had a lot to talk about. When I arrived the first day she said, "Why are you here?" I said, "I have a lot of anxiety. I hate my new job. I crashed my car. My sisters are bitches. I am really pissed off at my parents for stuff I thought I had long since overcome. I am tired. I thought I was a grown up until my parents died. I have a lot of infuriating things and people in my life and they are not going to stop being infuriating, so I need to learn how not to be infuriated." And then I took a breath.

I had a lot to talk about and just needed to talk to an unbiased party about it. I would talk to my friends about therapy, and what I was working on, and how I felt about it. One of my friends cracked me up when I told her my shrink said I am not a bad person for not wanting to have anything to do with some of the people in my family. My friend told me, "hey we have been telling you that all along, but hey if hearing it from some stranger at a hundred and twenty five dollars an hour makes you feel better, fine be that way." I needed to work through all my feelings so I could make an intelligent informed decision about the house. In a very basic general sense when people die, all their stuff is given a dollar value, and added up, and then all the money they owe is added up. All the money that is owed has to be paid before the probate matters can be closed. My Mom and Dad had a house, and lots of freaking bills. So, the way to pay the bills was to sell the house. I told my sister she could buy half, I could buy half, or we could sell the whole thing. My sister thought it would be great for me to buy the house and for her to live with me. I told her, "Well, Mommy and Daddy chose to allow you to finagle an extended adolescence for yourself and mooch off of them, I am not interested in making that choice. You are my sister, and I love you, and I cannot live with you. I would kill you before lunch the first day."

So then I had to decide do I want to deal with this dilapidated center of most of my bad memories. Luckily, I had talked to my parents about the house, and how I felt about it and why. Of course when my parents became ill, all bets were off. Nobody was cleaning out the gutters, or finding out what leaked, or anything else. We were just taking care of my parents and trying not to spontaneously combust from stress. My parents had a very volatile and passionate relationship. They both had a lot of issues with each other, their parents, their kids and themselves. They so obviously and hopelessly were in it for the long haul with each other that I was well over thirty before I realized that most people do not try that hard at relationships. I also I am still not over the shock that most people do not say "see you later," or something to that effect when they leave the house and "hi, honey I’m home," or something to that effect when they come back. In our family we never say goodbye. Even when my parents were not speaking they still did this. Part of how their passive aggressive unconventional methods of pissing each off manifested was to not take care of the house. My Mom stopped cooking and cleaning, my Dad stopped repairing and maintaining. Obviously the house was in a great state of disrepair.

I spent the vast majority of my childhood under cars, or ladders, or workbenches handing my Dad tools. I knew that it was possible to fix stuff. I knew how to use a lot of tools. I knew I like to fix stuff. I knew I can do any thing I damn well please if I set my mind to it. I knew whether I decided to keep the house or not I was going to have to clear it out, clean it, and fix it, at least a little, myself. I knew I had always thought it was a good idea to get a fixer upper house if you had any ability with fixing stuff at all. I figure if you need to put some elbow grease into a house, you really get to know it, and get to make it your own. Since I would only have to technically pay for half of the house I wold have instant equity, and some cash to begin to do some repairs. The house is a good investment. It is in a desirable area, with good schools, convenient to public transportation and major roadways. Lots of shopping of every imaginable item you could dream to buy, and it has a big yard.

The yard is one of the main reasons I decided I wanted the house. You see, every pet I have had my entire life is buried somewhere in it. I mean except for mon petit amour, the current furry tyrant in my life. After I spent some time and some co-pays talking to the shrink, I got unpissed off beyond the realm of all human comprehension, and could think straight again. Sure this house is the center of most of my bad memories, but it is also the center of most of my good ones. We had so much fun just playing outside when I was little. Yes, back in the day children went outside in nature and shit and actually played with other children. We didn’t need no stinking SEGA. In our house music was important. It was fun. I often catch myself humming and wiggling everywhere including to the Muzak in elevators. To be honest I cannot really dance, it is more like jumping around like a lunatic to a soundtrack, but it is fun as hell. I learned this important life skill, this lunacy, at home.

Now here I am at my construction site. I have a hell of a lot of work still to do here. I call my garage my Hail Mary Garage because prayer is pretty much all that is holding it up. I call my kitchen my Fantasy Kitchen because I fantasize I someday will have the money to gut it. When I started writing this story a few days ago it was because I was having a flare up of being overwhelmed by this process. I have accomplished so much in the past six months. Nothing leaks anymore. I have dragged away dumpster fulls, and car fulls, and everything I could get the garbage men to take fulls of stuff, stuff, stuff and more stuff. I have organized almost everything. I have cleaned a lot of things. I have made a lot of decisions that, a year ago, I thought I would never have the strength to make. I have worked with contractors to make some very serious repairs that could not wait, and needed to be done for my own safety or sanity or both. I have twenty-four cans of paint through which I am slowly but surely working as I get walls scrubbed enough to paint. I have rewired outlets, and hung fixtures. I have overcome my fear of climbing on ladders. I have broken and healed my foot. I have learned how to take care of the furnace, and the plumbing, and the electricity. I have become the proud owner of a self-propelled electric start lawn mower. I have overcome any squeamishness I had about bugs, and rodents. Fuck PETA. I want to learn how to use my Dad’s shot guns so I can start picking off those squirrels who hold their insolent furry coffee breaks on my patio set. I need to call planning and zoning to see if I need a permit for that.

Fear and Loathing in DIY (II of III)

It has certainly been a long road from wanting to somehow get in the witness protection program to owning the house I grew up in. Sometimes I am not sure how I got here. I vividly remember the day I signed the paperwork at my closing six months ago. I looked across the table at my lawyer, who it turns out is one of the most truly kind and nurturing people I have ever met and said "I must have a secret drug problem no one has the heart to tell me about." She chuckled knowingly since she has been through many closings with many people in many different circumstances. I think everybody feels eviscerated at closing. It was a long and difficult process for me to buy the house. Getting a mortgage was very difficult for me. In retrospect mostly because I second guessed myself, and had no experience with getting one.

I needed to use a mortgage broker since I needed to finagle a lot. I could not go to a bank since they charge you up front for the loan application, and then may refuse you. Being the white sheep of my family full of black sheep I long since rebelled by having freakishly good credit. Most people do something they maybe should have thought out better in the throes of grief. I had made the mistake of impulsively and recently changing jobs. This makes you look like a bad credit risk. I am not a bad risk in any situation. For all the literal blood sweat and tears I put into deciding to buy the house, and knew I would have to put into the house for years to come, you bet your sweet ass I knew what I was doing and was hell bent on the commitment. I felt the mortgage broker was unscrupulous, but dismissed it as first time homebuyer jitters. I should have paid attention to what my parents called my innate asshole detector, and gotten a different broker. So, I consequently have an adjustable rate mortgage which loosely translated means "bend over bitch, and we ain’t even gonna kiss ya!"

My parents’ wills were identical. They left everything to each other, and in the event the other predeceased them, they each left everything to me and my younger sister. My parents told me many reasons why they made this decision. My parents told me they had shared this decision with all my siblings. Ooh, those geezers were lying bastards! They did not tell my siblings what they had decided. Which in retrospect explains why they all kept telling me what they wanted, and that I had to give it them right away. Seriously, based on the life of our family until the day our parents died, what the fuck did they all expect? Even though my parents apparently only discussed this at length with me, each other, and the attorney who drew up their wills, no one but my siblings was surprised by their decisions, or to leave me responsible to carry out their wishes. And I got tell my siblings. Have you ever seen someone in the cemetery pacing and yelling and gesticulating at the ground? That was me, yelling at my naughty old people who left me here alone with my siblings without their intercession.

The aforementioned kind and nurturing lawyer had a hell of a lot of fun, sarcasm intended, on her hands dealing with the siblings. She and the probate judge spent a lot of quality time together. They discussed lots of things like explaining to my siblings that yes I am in charge, yes everything I am doing is legal, and yes my parents really meant it. Yes I can tell them no, and yes I really do have to wait to pay all the bills before I give anybody, including myself, anything. This really sucked, to be dragged into court by my family. To be accused of killing my father by the most insane and delusional of my siblings. Apparently I must have done it with my psychic powers since he was alone at the time. To have no help from my family with sorting through my parents belongings and affairs. To have to fight tooth and nail for everything. To have to take my sister, my co beneficiary, who I love dearly, to a meeting with the attorney to explain to her that in spite of any moral obligation I may feel to her I had exhausted all other options and was now legally required to evict her from my parents home where she had been a non paying, irresponsible, property damaging tenant from hell.

There has not been one day that has gone by since my parents died that I have not had to deal with some painful and insane situation with one or more of my siblings. Truth be told there was not one day before my parents died either. I am grateful to an extent that cannot be expressed in any language known to the human race for the people in my life who love and care for me. I am grateful for my friends, who have stayed up with me through long sleepless nights. Who have climbed into the attic of the rickety garage, who have crawled through the rodents in the basement, who have helped me in every way I had the strength to let them. I am grateful for my neighbors who lend me tools, and teach me how to use them, and watch over me kindly, and generously. I am grateful for all the wonderful and kind people who have come into my life in the past two years.

I am grateful that almost a year to the day of when my father died, I did not hurt anyone but myself. I did not hurt myself anywhere near as much as I could have, when I was driving my car, hysterically crying on my lunch hour, trying to figure out how I could get in the witness protection program. I rear ended a Mercedes that I could not even see, at forty miles per hour. I am grateful all I have is a little scar on one arm from the air bag. I am grateful I had ass kickingly good insurance. I am grateful I hit a nice lady with a nice husband and nice son who came to help her. I am grateful to the nice police man who came and found two smashed up cars and two women hugging each other and checking each other for blood and broken bones when he arrived. I am grateful I took the whole experience as a message from the universe to slow the hell down and go to a shrink to figure out what I wanted to do about this damn house and everything in it.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Fear and Loathing in DIY (I of III)

Do It Yourself home improvement is not for pussies. Being crazy helps. A life long failure to think inside the box, coupled with a complete disdain for authority and an innate inability to suffer fools gladly really come in handy too. My house, or as I like to call it, my construction site, is the house I grew up in. The decision to purchase the house was not made lightly. Before my parents became so seriously ill in 2003 I was getting ready to figure out how to buy a house anyway. Like a lot of people, women people especially, I had made the moronic mistake of not doing a lot of things because I was not married. Things like buying a house for instance. This had a lot to do with how things were when I grew up, and a lot to do with thinking about how I thought I might feel about those things, and how I would want to handle them when I got married. Well, now that is just silly, isn’t it? You can’t sit around with your life on hold until everything is configured in some preconceived societally sanctioned ideal.

When my Mom and Dad were sick, I helped them as much as I could. When things became pretty bad with my Mom’s health, and my Dad was freaking out, my parents decided to go see an attorney. They made a lot of decisions that affected my life, and will at least until I die, some even longer. One was to give me full Power of Attorney. Really all Power of Attorney technically does is make things more convenient. I could talk to their doctors, pick up their medications, and write checks on their accounts, among other things. I did not use it at all until the spring of 2004, and then I mostly used it so I could pay their bills and move their money around more easily. When my parents died I was in the process of interviewing contractors to make the house handicapped accessible and trying to figure out how to pull out all the equity so I could have the funds to care for them at home. So, I was perfectly happy to let the bank have the house when they died.

My parents, prior to them ever becoming ill, were quite distressed about some of my siblings and their endless capacity to mooch. My parents considered moving far, far away into a one-bedroom home where no one could possibly stay with them. My parents were looking at what I call geezer villages, and what is politically correctly called assisted living facilities. Where geezers can basically do whatever they want whenever they want, but where you can have people to help you to varying degrees as your needs and health dictate. My parents decided to stay put in the house. They wanted to stay where they were comfortable, the idea of actually cleaning up the house and sifting through all their stuff overwhelmed and terrified them and truly, they were within minutes of some of the best medical care available in the world. So they stayed here. My Dad died here, alone, with the dogs who loved him and sat with him until my sister came home from work and found him. My Mom died nine days later in the nursing home I, the world’s most evil child in the free world, had put her in four days before my Dad died so I could line up nursing care and get a ramp put on the house, and have the bathroom revamped. Just for the record; September 2004 really sucked dick on a level I would not wish upon my worst enemy.

I had long since moved out on my own and was doing very well, so I did not need a place to live. Things were tough when I was a kid. This house has a lot of bad memories, a lot of demons for me, and for my whole family. It really was a pain in the ass after my parents died. Until you get appointed as the Executrix, ooh sexy it sounds like you get a whip and thigh high boots along with all the legal responsibility, everything is tied up instantly by the courts in order to protect creditors and heirs. So I was paying out of my pocket for a lot of stuff, like the utilities at my parents house where my sister lived and did not clean, pay bills, or function in any discernible way for fifteen fucking months mother fucker! So, by the time I had pretty much dealt with two terminally ill parents, their deaths, and their funerals single-handedly I was ready to burn off my fingerprints with battery acid and leave the country forever. I’d had enough shit with my family and everything to do with them to last me a thousand lifetimes. The last thing I wanted to do was live here.