I know it's been a while....I sincerely apologize for not taking the time (and there's been plenty of it) to fill everyone in on the happenings of my life. It seems that any accompanying promise to try to be better at updating my blog is one that's become harder to keep, so I'll simply not promise - I will, however, try to re-embrace writing as a means of release. Those of you who have gotten to know me over some time also know that writing is my biggest means of processing and working through whatever is needed, and I know that to not write means I've gone numb again. Maybe though, the numbness is needed.
I'm totally experiencing a writing drought. I don't know what to say. The words aren't coming to me. I'm just sitting here, though, in hopes that once I start to write, that things will sort of dribble out.
I also know that this will be my 100th blog entry. I wanted my 100th entry to be something amazing. I remember spending days working on my 50th, but that might've been a time when I had more to share, the thoughts flowed easier. It is safe to say that since I last posted on March 26th, the stress has mounted and my life has become one that simply doesn't feel like my own.
In the beginning of April, both J and I developed COVID-19. Because of the differences in our immune systems, my fiancee spent six days in the hospital and I recovered at home. She had an extremely rough time with the virus. As my symptoms were mild in comparison, I could not even begin to imagine how she felt. I spoke a little bit about this experience to only my family, one of my closest school friends and a few of my AS friends, but for the most part, kept to myself. I suppose this is typical of me, for I do not like to draw extra attention to myself or my problems. I know we aren't dealing with anything to do with my trauma, (and truthfully, COVID is certainly a trauma all in itself) but still my ex's words replay in my brain: 'everyone has problems, nobody wants to hear about yours.' Thankfully, at the point in time I'm in right now, these words weren't 'as loud' and I WAS able to allow for myself to share bits and pieces of the whole COVID ordeal with people I trusted. They were good to me, too, and honestly, they've helped more than they know. I AM glad I ignored my ex's voice; at least I'm in a place where this is somewhat easier to do.
At the time of writing this, the pandemic is still ongoing. It feels kind of 'old.' The 'new normals' have left me feeling extremely disconnected and frustrated. Most of you know by now that I was born with a hearing loss, one that has left me completely deaf in both ears (and the 'deaf/dead' typo almost just happened here, too, but I suppose it would be accurate - my ears ARE dead!) and I'm reliant on lip-reading others in order for in-person communication to occur. The essential businesses are open, and we do have the freedom to go to the stores if we need something. In the beginning, they only allowed for us to buy basics. Food, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, medicine, etc. Now, we're told we can go into stores and shop for other things, but masks are required. I am unable to complete simple, easy tasks that I was able to before the pandemic began. I cannot order food from either a take-out window or a drive-through - unless I have someone in the car with me to 'interpret' what the store/restaurant employee might be saying behind THEIR masks. If I have a question at the grocery store ("excuse me, where do you keep your.....") I will usually bypass asking a masked employee. I'll hunt the whatever it is down, myself. Or, I just won't buy it. Currently, I LOATHE the idea of having to go to the store - and so I don't. I've not gone anywhere unless it was absolutely necessary.
See, pre-pandemic, I was never one to want to exercise social skills. My idea of socializing was bowling league night twice per week, occasionally accompanying my fiancee to one of her friends' gatherings, or going to school. OCCASIONALLY there was a meet up/study session/hallway conversation or classroom discussion with the one school friend that I've become friendly with, but even that's not something that is possible until this country is once again healthy. But now that I've restarted school, I'd gotten used to getting out, to TRYING to develop better social skills, and now this happens and I'm feeling isolated again and even MORE disconnected than I was to begin with!
There IS a silver lining, I suppose. I'm going to go out on a limb and talk about school for a minute, though I'm sure that's not what ANYONE really wants to hear. I'll keep it brief, though. I still managed to finish my Spring 2020 semester with a 4.0, (and I didn't tell any of my instructors that I was sick and miserable, either) I realized that if I hope to graduate next Spring, I'll be needing to REALLY load up the courses during my senior year. I would have been looking at a 15/18 credit load in the Fall and Spring. Three of these classes were going to either bore me to tears or chance wrecking my GPA, being Biology (Anatomy), Research Methods and Macroeconomics. These would have required sixteen weeks' worth of (snooze-worthy) lectures, exams, labs, papers, headaches....three or more hours per week, for the duration of the semester. So, naturally, I jumped on these when they became 'available' to take online over the summer. One week after the Spring semester ended officially, I was taking Bio and Research Methods, and by mid-June, they were completed. Now I am taking the Macroeconomics course for the next three weeks. By the time the Fall semester begins, I'll have these nine credits out of the way and I'm now looking at a 12/12 credit Fall/Spring courseload; Spring being primarily internship/fieldwork. I do know I would have failed miserably at the biology, for I've officially been out of that class for a month and I don't remember a damn thing! Regardless, thanks to open-book exams, I managed to pull a B+ in Biology and an A- in the Research class.
Allright - no more school talk. I WILL say though, on that front, things seem to be going well. Hopefully, things will continue to go well, for now the upcoming Fall semester has been shifted to remote instruction.
Moving along, I cannot even begin to explain into detail the shit storm that I have been weathering for the last month. And the clincher? It hasn't even BEEN a full month!
From previous blogs, you all know my mother, whom I affectionately (or not) refer to as Oompa. It is a shortened version of Oompa Loompa, and my mother, a 4'9" italian lady, is a perfect likeness of Wonka's little minions - ESPECIALLY with the haircut. Personality wise, she's also been compared to Marie Barone; many certainly know who she is, especially those TV watchers.
Anyway, before the kids' birthdays, I hadn't seen Oompa for four months. I saw her last on March 8th. Of course, as this is before we all experienced the lockdowns and the quarantines - she'd been chomping at the bit to get everyone together. Around Father's Day is when they started to re-open things, and she planned to come out to visit for the kids' birthdays, and also because she was last here in the end of February and it certainly was her turn to come visit us.
We have a yearly plan for the kids' birthdays, which are back-to-back. My ex will usually do our daughter's and I'll host the son's. Our houses are within five miles of each other, so it's easiest for the out-of-towners to come for a couple consecutive days of barbecues, cakes and celebrations. Usually the Oompa will stay at my house, and my father (we'll call him Lord Capulet) and his wife will come but usually stay at a hotel as they like to have their own space and to make a 'vacation' out of it. Needless to say, this year, Lord Capulet was not leaving the safety of his home, and opted to send the kids Amazon gift cards. My mother decided that since she'd not seen any of us for four months, that she would come for the kids' birthdays and stay for a few days. 'It'll be nice,' she said. Laughable in hindsight...
I couldn't even tell you ALL of what went down between the 3rd and the 7th - I'd be too pissed off to get through this entry this afternoon. I WILL say that my mother has changed a LOT. We always knew the Oompa to be extreme, but she was downright impossible this time around. By the time she left, she'd managed to piss me off, my ex off, the kids off, and no one wanted her around. Even my stepfather, the poor soul she'd been stuck in the house with for the last four months was left shaking his head and mumbling under his breath, 'she's different. Treats me like shit.' And I can't even argue with him, on that. She DOES treat him like shit.
She finally went home on the 7th - I couldn't be rid of her soon, enough. She left early in the morning and as soon as she pulled out of the driveway, J and I mimicked the stepdad and shook OUR heads. WHAT the fuck was that? She was complaining about my ex's neighbors (the couple that lived next door showed up to the daughter's barbecue with some food) not wearing masks - but at the same time, she'd been out earlier in the week with my sister - visiting a public BEACH. She tried to downplay it by saying, 'well, I don't know where the neighbors have been!' I responded in kind, and said, 'but you know where all those beachgoers had been? How's this any different? This is a private, backyard gathering of less than 20 people, and you've been out in public....' No matter what I said or what ANYONE said, she was finding something to nit-pick on, to complain about. It was absolutely unreal and I was at the point where I felt embarrassed by her. Before leaving, she was sobbing and saying that she couldn't deal with being in isolation with 'the old man' - and this was an opportunity for her to NOT have to be isolated. She's getting older, so her complaining instincts certainly have kicked in, (she hasn't yet hit 70) but still - COVID seems to have changed her as a person...and NOT for the better. If you thought I couldn't stand her before, I certainly cannot stand her, NOW.
And as horrible as she was when she was here, here she also was, planning a small gathering for my youngest sister (which took place this past Friday) that was to resemble a 'sprinkle' since a full-on baby shower couldn't be planned at the time. I'd be seeing her again less than two weeks from the time she'd left, and I honestly wasn't looking forward to seeing her again. Not after the five miserable days she'd spent here, making my life a living hell.
She went home. But the shit storm still went on.
I went to do some dishes on the night she'd left and realized we had no running water. 'Great,' I say, 'it's the well pump again...JUST what we need.'
Not only was it the well pump, but it was also the WELL. At risk of pissing myself off, I'll summarize and there will be some details left out here, too. I'll start by saying that the plumbers who replaced the pump last year were here for five consecutive days, and I STILL do not have indoor plumbing right now. It took nearly five grand (mostly LABOR) for them to come to the conclusion that our well has dried. They had to replace the pump first, then we had water for a little while before it went out again. Guy comes back out to discover that the filter was completely clogged with sediment. Changes the filter, water comes back on for the hour he's there, then as soon as he leaves, water turns off again. We call again on Monday (day after) and different guy shows up, filter's clogged up again. MORE sediment and dirt basically. NOT the way it's supposed to be. Then this was a problem, then that was a problem. They pull the pump out again, the head guy finally shows up and says, 'okay, you're out of water.' We ask what's next, and they say 'we'll try hydrofracking.' This essentially is the dropping of an air bomb down the well in hopes of it opening up 'veins' so that water flow into the well isn't obstructed. If that doesn't work, we're going to have to dig an entirely new well. And even better - the 'rig' is on another job that might take 2 weeks to complete before they'll be able to come and do the hydrofracking procedure. He did promise he'd try to pull the rig sooner, but we've not heard anything since Friday. In the meantime, if I want to shower, I have to go to either my neighbor's house or my ex's, and I have to fill up gallon jugs every day so that we have water to flush whenever someone uses the toilet.
J and I have been looking at houses on Zillow, but even to move away from this house seems like an overly emotional decision. One that we likely shouldn't be making right now, especially having been here in this house for only three years. It's been three years we've lived in this house, and we've replaced three well pumps, we've had two leaks in my son's room (his room is below the master bathroom, so we think it's the pipes/master shower that's leaking) and we've also had to replace the boiler following the blizzard of 2018 that knocked our power out for five days. The back deck was looked at by the guy we called about my son's ceiling, and he confirmed the wood on the deck was beginning to rot, and that it was just a matter of time before it was disconnected completely from the house. The tile in the kitchen isn't properly adhered, and we've gotten comments from many people who have come to 'fix' something - 'oh, that wasn't done properly...' Yeah, no shit. The person we bought this house from didn't live here. He bought cheap and flipped it. He only fixed things to make things look pretty, but completely disregarded the more pressing problems that became mine as soon as we closed on the house.
As mentioned above, the gathering for my sister was this past Friday. I'd been kind of hinting to Oompa that there was simply too much going on right now. No running water. I'm agitated, moody, and frustrated. I wasn't in the mood for socializing. I'm also still annoyed with her because of how she behaved when she was here - I'd been keeping my distance during the time between when she left here and when I'd see her again, but because Oompa owns my house, we've had no choice but to let her be involved with the whole process of getting the water back on - also she was the one who would be talking money with the head guy. Anyway, as soon as she heard that the rig was two weeks out, she started with, "you should come stay with me for a few weeks...maybe Friday, you can stay for the weekend."
Oh, FUCK, NO. Hell, no. Immediately, I added that to the list of abso-fucken-lutely not's.
How the hell do you tell your mother that you don't miss her? Like, AT ALL? And after how she was acting when she was here for five days - did she REALLY think I wanted to go stay at her house? I'd rather be in my waterless house! I told her multiple times - no, I'm only coming on Friday for my sister - then I'm going home. She, of course, complained there, too. "Why? Why won't you let me comfort you? Maybe when we are feeling this way, we need to stick with our families and not run away from them?"
I had to bite my tongue in order to refrain from saying something truly mean and hurtful, so I said again that I just wasn't in a good place and wasn't comfortable leaving my house the way it was, and truthfully one of my cats wasn't doing well. (More about that later.) I kind of was hoping that she'd turn around and tell me not to come to the 'sprinkle,' because, well, that's what I WOULD have done if the tables were turned. Her gathering was for seven people. Six if I didn't go. And it was just a luncheon sort of thing, to take place at at restaurant that offered outdoor dining. It'd be a two-hour drive each way, just to go to lunch, and I TRULY was not looking forward to going at all. Every time I spoke to her, she'd make SOME kind of a reference to 'Friday.' "Does H (the daughter) want to come with you for the ride? I know she's with you on Fridays!" Or there was, "I'm getting rid of a computer chair - does R (the son) want it? I'll give it to you on Friday!" She wasn't budging, AT ALL. I was going to be seeing her on Friday, whether I fucking wanted to or not.
So, on Friday, I got up early. She texted before I even left the house. Asked if I had left yet. I told her I was about to. She asked about the cat. I told her in a last ditch effort for her to free me of the obligation to show up, that the cat was not going to last much longer. She didn't. She instead said, "when I pass away, I'll look over them for you." Yes, she really, REALLY said that. I wanted to scream at her at this point, but instead, I told her I'd see her soon, put my phone into my pocket. Loaded the daughter and her devices into the car and headed out.
About halfway there, I got pulled over. The daughter was giggling in the car, because I might have unleashed a string of obscenities (knowing me, I did) as soon as I saw the flashing lights behind me. The (masked) officer told me that I apparently was speeding, even though if you ask me, I was going 'with traffic.' I will be honest and say I don't know how fast I was going, because I was truly, at this point, in autopilot mode. I was thinking about how much I smelled, how much I wanted a shower, how sad I was about the cat seemingly being in her end-of-life transition, would the son actually feed her and take care of her like I'd asked him to? I was thinking about how pissed off I was to be making this drive, going to a luncheon that I truly didn't feel like going to, and because once again, my mother was making EVERYTHING about herself. All of these thoughts were swirling, and I TRULY wasn't paying attention to my speedometer. All I could manage was, 'I'm sorry.' He took my paperwork and walked back to his patrol car, and the daughter immediately starts texting...my guess, every single one of her friends, on every single one of her social media platforms. She's got FB, she's got Instagram, she's got Snapchat, Tik Tok and Twitter. "OMG, MY MOM GOT PULLED OVER...." At least she was amused. I on the other hand, was not.
After being let off with a warning to 'slow down,' (the cop was actually nice to me) I showed up to my other sister's (the non-pregnant one) house with a backpack of clothes. Took a shower there. Spent a few minutes with my niece and nephew (and this was truly the highlight of the day) and then we all went to the luncheon. We came back to my sister's, I loaded up my car with the computer chair Oompa had promised to send the son, and then it took me almost THREE and a half hours (including having to turn around because I'd forgotten my backpack at my sister's and Friday night traffic) to get home.
And if all of that wasn't enough - the cat who wasn't doing well - passed away yesterday morning. She was fifteen years old and sick. She had hypothyroidism, and her rapid-decline started earlier this week. She followed in her mama's footsteps, pretty much to the letter...stopped eating, stopped drinking, stopped using the litter pan, started isolating herself in strange spots. Eventually she had no energy to stand or walk and whenever she tried, there was an agonized meow. This was hard to watch - especially having seen all of these same things with my Moxie earlier this year, and a part of me is truly glad she did not suffer long. I do think, though, as she had an OBSESSION with running water, that not having any for almost two weeks now has contributed to her mental deterioration as well. I did provide her with cold water in a bowl, but it's as if she'd completely lost any/all of her will to fight, and she wouldn't drink it. She is now resting peacefully next to her mother (Moxie) in the yard.
Also in my yard is about 450-500 feet of well pump/wires, laid out and waiting to be dealt with. Because those are there, I cannot really mow the grass in the back. Not a big loss, but I also will not be mowing as long as I cannot run inside and shower immediately after cutting the grass.
It was 91 today, it'll be 97 tomorrow - a sweat-buckets kind of day. I'll be starting week two of my class and for the most part, will be staying inside.
I still don't know when the 'rig' will be showing up and my faith in that it'll be here before two weeks is dwindling. The hydro-whatever the hell it is, is not a guaranteed solution - it's simply something that they're going to try. If it doesn't work, we'll be needing a new well. And that's likely to be double the cost, and God knows how MUCH longer I will be out of water while they dig!
This also happened on the Wednesday after the Oompa left, but the son came upstairs and said, "I hate to be the bearer of bad news," and proceeded to show us his ceiling. His room is directly underneath my master bathroom, and there's a 'bubble' there, directly above his bed. So, apparently, there's a leak somewhere. We had a leak there last year, but it's since been patched up. We called the guy who fixed it last year, only to have him show up last Monday and tell us that he couldn't fix the leak until we had running water, so that he could see where the leak was coming FROM.
You REALLY can't make this shit up. I've lived in my house for three years - and in three years, we've had three broken well pumps (now we know WHY the pumps were breaking - there isn't enough WATER for it to pump!), a broken boiler, two leaks in the son's ceiling, a broken refrigerator, a dishwasher that doesn't actually CLEAN the dishes (possibly because the water pressure was NEVER good to begin with), two power outages lasting 5 days long, we've lost three cats - two to old age, one to....a fluke? The daughter is convinced that our house is cursed and that we should move back to New York. That's not happening, though. I WILL say, though, it's VERY, VERY hard to love my house, right now, or even to look at it as 'home.' Rather, this house is a relentless money pit that doesn't like any of us.
So...that's what all is up and has been going on. I'll be fine - I'm just exhausted, frustrated, and emotionally drained. But as I'm used to just sucking it up and going on, that's what I'll do, now too. It just feels like - when it rains, it pours. When it pours, the damned roof springs a leak. (Not exactly what's going on, here, but you get the idea.)
Anyway, thank you all for listening to me ramble. I do hope all of you are doing well and are having an easier time conforming to the new normals and social distancing rules. We are still in the middle of some very uncertain times and it's my hope that everyone this reaches is doing the best they can do, given the circumstances we're all having to live with. A special, specific shout-out to those dear friends of mine who continue to check up on me and send words of kindness and motivation - it's very needed right now.
(update: 8/8/20 - we've got water! We've had it for a week, already, but the way my luck's been going, I didn't want to make any premature announcements!)