My Life As Such

I have a very dear friend who would like me to blog along side her. This will just be a blog about my life, things I like, and thoughts I have.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Winter in Vermont

Strolling to work,

in unseasonable warm weather,

35 degrees or so

at eleven pm.

Brisk wind blew strongly,

as if to propel

me faster, but I resisted

as my mind began to saunter.

Facing the skyline of

trees that I passed everyday,

I saw them laughing

at the wind and shaking

off the cold of the previous storm,

as if to say you can’t touch us.

And they were right.

Their colors

were more vibrant on this dark night

than ever observed

on the brightest of days.

My head faced down

as my feet continued to move,

however slowly,

looking at the sidewalk

saddled with a conglomeration

of melting ice and snow

perfectly lining my arrival, glistening

like a runway prepared for a landing.

My first winter in Vermont.

Some days cold, some

warmer, but all

with the beauty

you can only find here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Playing in the snow.

We have had some hard times, but with those come good ones as well. Here are pics from the latest snow storm.

December 22nd, 2008

It’s amazing to me that something as simple as sweeping up the bathroom floor can send the mind on a whirlwind into the past. The black locks I was sweeping up reminded me of growing up and combing through my father’s hair.

I remember thinking how dark and straight it was. Dark, straight, with a little wave at the end. I imagined it to be the same texture of a stallion’s mane. A stallion running through an open field with his foals at his side. Laughing at the dandelion puffs that floated through the air. Not a care in the world, no place to be, and nothing to think about. Not that that was ever a problem for me. I tended never to think about much beyond the moment, and quite frequently lost myself in that.

My father, on the other hand, always had his mind going. He was always too preoccupied to participate in my child hood fantasies. I never blamed him for this, and still don’t. He was supporting myself, 2 brothers, sister, and mom. His job was a blue-collar lower management position he acquired after he lost his trucking job up north. He was rarely physically there while I combed through his hair, his eyes could not hide his preoccupation with what there was left to do at work. And often he missed parts or all of holidays to set the store for the next big day. It must have been hard on him. He worked to live; to allow us to live, but in doing so missed a crucial part in that living. He missed us growing up.

Nick and I are on the cusp of that critical part in our lives. We are working to survive. And as I swept up the rest of my hair off the floor I have to remember my father and find a better balance than giving up what I consider the most important part of my life.

December 18, 2008

I pulled out It’s a Wonderful Life today and put it in the dvd player. After all it is Christmas time. I have watched it every year around this time since I don’t know when. Normally I wait to watch it on TV, but today I pulled it out for a much more personal reason.

I’m discouraged.

It’s this time of year that I would normally go out to the shops and do last minute Xmas shopping. Normally…but there is nothing normal about this year. There are Christmas presents in the back of my car that will never be mailed in time for Xmas and printed letters that will never make it at all. It makes my heart sink.

So, why today as the day this all hits me? Well…we got paid today. Unfortunately, our check was not enough to cover everything we needed it to cover. Our first months rent, daycare, and a loan payment. We are not THAT far off, just a couple hundred dollars. Normally I would prioritize, unfortunately, everything needs to be paid, and a few hundred dollars is a lot of money to be short. Besides, that is just for bills. We are not including food or gas for the car.

I knew this day was coming though. I found out this last week that our reimbursement check will not be coming in for another 4-6 weeks. That was supposed to be our saving grace before the Holidays. When I found out though, I put it to the back of my mind. No sense worrying about things that I have no control over.

Our short paycheck was not the only reason for my dismay. Today is the day we found out Jazzy, our Dalmatian, may have pre-cancerous lesions. My knees almost gave out from underneath me as I braced myself on the grocery cart. Jasmine is a finicky old coot of a dog. That’s not what hurt me as much as she is Hunter’s joy. If she were to be put down or pass away for any reason Hunter would be devastated. The thought just turns my stomach.

So what else could make this day worse? How about when your father-in-law, who is your co-signer for a student loan, calls to say that he wants to be removed because you are 6 days late on a payment and they are threatening to send him to collections.


Seriously, this is the call Nick received at work after the aforementioned bad news. What a petty nasty thing to do. Granted, pop-pop had no clue what we were dealing with today, BUT what he did know is that Nick and I are struggling to make end’s meat, I have been a little late on some payments, but I have ALWAYS paid and never has it dinged his credit, and we are 7 days away from Christmas. It is a foreign concept to me that someone could place their own non-tangible assets before their flesh and bloods well being. It is today that I join Nick in agreeing that his dad runs his family like Potter runs a business.

All-in-all, it is a bad day. Maybe if I just go to sleep and wake up tomorrow I will have realized this to be all a bad dream. Hah. How cliché can I get. I couldn’t fall asleep anyways. My mind would not allow me to rest. It would whirl and click trying to figure out how to solve problems that are unsolvable at this point. So, instead, I will sit here and wrap Christmas presents, thank God for the health of my family and the roof over our heads, and watch the rest of It’s a Wonderful Life. Never have I found a movie so relevant to my current situation.

December 6, 2008

Halleluiah….Halleluiah…. ‘Tis the season to give thanks. Give thanks for family. Give thanks for friends. Give thanks for having your basic needs met. I would like to give thanks for another reason. About one week ago, I noticed that for the first time since before Hunter was born, I could…while sitting…see my vagina past my stomach.

I know that some of you are shocked that I would even mention such a thing. After all, polite conversation dictates that I stick to the weather and such. Hah. Since when has anyone known me to shy away from a conversation, politically correct or otherwise?

Seriously though, I have been playing peek-a-boo with my friend for about 5 years. I tossed all jeans young and skinny once I became pregnant with McKenzie. I had given up hope of seeing a smaller waistline in any reasonable amount of time…like while the kids are still in the house.

The end and the short of it is, after paying too much for a gym membership, watching what I ate, making sure I drink water, and even taking the kids on walks…nothing worked. So how did it happen?

Honestly? I never use the gym membership, when I am stressed I eat just about anything, water is good but coke has always been better, and I actually did take the kids on walks about once or twice a week. None of which contributed to an ideal way of loosing weight. So why now?

Since moving, I have been walking to and from work 4-5 days a week (about a 2-3 block distance each way), we haven’t had money to eat anything other than home cooked meals (I have gotten very creative), sodas don’t exist in my reality right now (I replaced them with hot chocolate), and now I just chase the kids around the house up and down stairs.

I don’t need fancy clothes or diamond rings to make me happy. Just loosing 2-3 inches around the middle puts me in the holiday spirit! Halleluiah!

Now, where are the cookies…

December 2, 2008

Walking home from work today the temperature was roughly 35 degrees. Most of my friends are probably thinking the same thing that I would be thinking… “You are CRAZY! That is flippin’ cold!” And if I was in Florida I would agree whole heartedly with you. But walking home today, about 35 degrees with a slight wind blowing in from the North East, I amazed myself and thought, “What a nice day.”

This stopped me in my tracks briefly. What changed in me in the span of 4 weeks that made me think 35 degrees is a nice day? In Florida, 73 degrees is a nice day. It is too soon for my blood vessels to thicken up or whatever they say happens when you live in the cold. I only had on a sweater and jacket with scrub pants. (Most of you know that scrub pants have the consistency of tissue paper.) So walking in the cold should have made me stiffen up and crumple in heap in front of the bathroom heater just so I could warm back up.

Not so! I am writing this little note without the support of a toilet seat. Back to my original question then; what in me has changed? I wish I knew. But for now I am not complaining. I will just enjoy the brisk afternoon walk and hope that when it gets down to 20 degrees I feel the same way.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Our Grand Adventure.

As Disney Channel’s Daniel Cook would say, “HERE WE ARE!” And while our arrival was not greeted with the musical introduction of this TV short, here we still are.

We arrived late last night into Burlington, VT. We should have arrived sooner. After all, it was supposed to be our early day, an early day after two 12+ hour days of driving. It seems that every day had its challenges. I don’t think that one day went by without us getting lost at some point.

Our first day of traveling was probably the best. Leaving at 7:15am and full of enthusiasm we headed out. The further north we headed watered our excitement that much more. Leaves changing, cooler weather, watching the blips of towns we passed through putting us closer to our final destination. Travel time, while still daunting, was a scheduled part of our trip. Even the kids participated in the pleasantness of this day solely by behaving. And only with a minor snag in finding the hotel did we even have the hint of a problem. I lay down in our hotel room in Raleigh, and with a sigh of relief, thanked God for the smooth start.

Of course, nothing worth having comes without some sacrifice, and the next day would not be so easy. McKenzie started the day with her reluctance to get into the car seat. Not a huge problem, she had been in a car seat for roughly nine hours the day before, I expected at some point she would crack. Eventually her anger about being strapped down subsided, and she drifted off to sleep.

If only that was the worst of our problems for the day. This was the day that took our trip through DC and NJ. Before we entered this ominous area, at our lunch stop, I forced Nick to let me take a deep breath and enjoy the meal before we continued. Little did I know how portentous the need to breathe was.

Google map directions in one hand, and walkie-talkie in the other, we set out. Talking with Mere as I left NC was my first hint that something may go wrong. She questioned the directions that had us going directly into DC. I brushed it off knowing that I was pretty smart and had some sense of direction.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If your directions are mediocre, signage is poor, traffic is heavy, and a 22 foot Penske moving truck is traveling behind you, disaster is sure to follow. Without the details of which roads we took or missed, the short of it is, we got lost. Really lost…Lost and separated…No communication on our walkie-talkies…In downtown DC.

I squelched my anxiety to stay focused.

Eventually…luckily…Nick and I turned onto the same exit at the same time, from separate directions. It made me more determined not to loose him again. However, knowing that I did not have to be the sole head of reason, I lost it. The flood of emotions I had been suppressing rushed forth like the traffic on either side of me. Poor Nick. He calmed me down as best he could through a cold wireless communication device. Our next stop came at a welcome center. Bless the people who work at these places. They gave Nick a map and advice to avoid the way we were planning to go due to a five car pile-up that would have set us back another 2-3 hours.

We trucked on, putting DC behind us, knowing that once we got to the hotel, Hunter could go in the pool and we could relax. Besides, our hotel room had a view of the Manhattan sky-line. What could be more special? After all, at this rate, we should still arrive by about 6:30 pm.

Well…let’s just say than in New Jersey Shell and BP Diesel stations are few and far between. Why is that important? Well, the gas cards we had to fund our journey were respectively Shell and BP. Let me mention that of the few diesel stations we did run across had tanks ripped out or were just closed, leading us to put $20 worth of gas in the Penske. Needless to say, $20 in a pork-barrel sized tank is like spitting into the Grand Canyon. While it got the truck to stop alarming at Nick for a while, it was not enough to keep us on the road for long.

Now, I have to stop for a second and mention some of the backwards laws in NJ. There are small towns that absolutely forbid you from making a left turn. On our trek to find a gas station we had the misfortune to run across one such place. Now, if you come off an interstate into one of these towns and need to head back onto the interstate, how do you get back to the right side of the road? I was befuddled. I just kept following a hard median, trying to find a left turn and eventually got fed up. While it would make a better story to say that I hopped the curb and illegally made a u-turn that was not the case. I instead made a right and immediately turned around to hit a light that would allow me to cross.

So, here is the second backwards law in NJ. You are not allowed to pump your own gas. At first you think, “Sweet, I don’t have to get out of the car, smell the fumes, ect.” I totally understand the reason is to cut down on gas theft. I get it.

But perpetual miles on the road allowed me to think about this a little more in depth. You have to turn over any form of payment to the pumper. This usually is a poorly educated immigrant who speaks poor English. (I know because I had to stop and ask 3 different ones for directions.) He’s out to make a living, and what could be easier? But what happens if the card that I turn over falls into the wrong hands? How much damage could be done to anyone’s credit if the number got stolen? No sir, I do not like this one bit.

And who keeps these gas stations honest? There is some sense of scrutiny that one does when they pump there own gas. An ability to analyze what the pump says and what you actually hear going in. Nick says I like to control things that are out of my control. He is pretty spot on about these things. Lets just say though, that is a small drop in the bucket of reasons I would never consider Jersey as a place to call home.

After pitching my directions in the trash and after asking for directions from the pumpers, which together gave me a pretty vague direction of where I was going, we still got lost finding the hotel. I just kept heading towards the river…the hotel is off the river. Then Nick got on the phone with his sister. Still thinking about the few loops we made exhausts me, so I will ignore the details. But we arrived safely and looked forward to valet parking of my car and the truck.

Valet parking…If you ever goto a hotel that says they valet park, ask if there is a charge.

We spoke three…not two, but three times with the hotel to see if they could valet park our moving truck. No problem! They had a space reserved and everything. Well, at the end of our very long second day, we arrived at 9pm instead of our original 5pm to find out that we were going to get charged $88 to park both vehicles. At this point we just grinned and bared it, although, I do not know how much grinning was actually being done. I went to pull out my wallet to pay and voila…I couldn’t find it. That was it. Arriving here on a wing and a prayer for a cross country move, and that was the whipped cream on the top of a crab apple pie day.

My stomach was turning…my mind tossing between money and my wallet… mixed with my exhaustion I was a chimney of discontent. Every pore was oozing angst.

There was one bright spot. No it wasn’t the view, even though it was a spectacular view overlooking the Manhattan skyline at night, it was Mr. Curtis. From the point we walked in the door there was an air about him that rubbed off in all the right ways. In this upper class ritzy hotel Nick had managed to find on-line, he treated us like any other patron. It wouldn’t have been hard, after all, at our best we would have easily fit in. But we are not talking about our best situation. We are talking Rachel, Nick, Hunter, and McKenzie after a rough 26 hours of driving the aforementioned route with a 6 hour nap to break up the days. His attitude was the shining positive in the grimy negatives of New Jersey. For this I would like to personally thank him.

At least the next morning we did not have to set off as early. The plan was to meet Nick’s sister Nicole, her hubby Jay, and their son Max for breakfast. When they arrived we ditched the idea of eating at the hotel. $20 a plate for eggs and bacon was a little unreasonable. Instead, Nicole took us into the city via the subway.

We ended up at the Twin Towers site.

Charred beams mixed with new construction were a humbling experience.

Once we got out onto the streets we were dumped right into the hustle and bustle of the Wall Street traffic. Our quest was to find a decent café that had reasonable prices and a good breakfast. After walking a little ways…SCORE!...a little Italian place. Breakfast cost about $25 total. A lot better than I expected price wise in NY, the food was phenomenal, and they had seating. That is one of the bonuses of living in NY. The culture of food abounds in small cafes and restaurants.

Once we hopped the subway back to the hotel, we packed up and drove Nicole and Max home. I think Nicole’s belief was that we would see the beauty of NJ that she sees. The apartment overlooked a quaint park where kids were playing and owners were walking dogs. Even though the immediate location was a nice neighborhood of brownstones, it was not enough for our small town minds to wrap around living with so much commotion a street or two up. I appreciate that SHE sees beauty in the ability to hop on the subway and head into New York. However, in no way is that the quality of living I want for myself and my family.

At this point I should stop and point out that Nick and Nicole went out to put gas in the Penske while we were at her house. When they returned, I was informed that the check engine light had come on and the engine had stalled a few times. Not that I gave a damn at that point. My goal was to make it out of NJ and into an area that did not physically stress my body out.

So, after a brief visit at Nicole’s apartment we headed into the maze of one way streets that make up NJ. That is as far as we made it. Nick stalled. Relatively speaking, he stalled in an okay place, a one way street leading into a major intersection. There were two physical lanes, so he only blocked one. This in turn led to a lot of honking from the local natives. Seriously people, what do you want us to do? You push a flipping heavy-ass Penske out of traffic. Not knowing what was wrong, and literally 4 blocks from out set out point, I back tracked with the kids leaving Nick to puff up like a chimney and deal with the quizzical Penske.

My stomach was turning. My head was blowing up with a headache. The kids were racing around the house playing and eating. (Thank-heaven for small favors) Nicole was trying to make small talk, but I just buried my head into my Face book and My Space accounts. I was over it. After everything, this was the first time I missed home and wondered if what we were doing was right.

About 45 minutes later, Nick called. The truck had an engine spark plug over heat. More so than over heat, apparently it melted. How could that happen you ask? Well, when you have a spark plug that needs a 50 watt/volt whatever plug and you instead give it a 40 watt/volt whatever plug than it becomes easy to overheat and melt. Problem fixed and at no cost to us other than more precious time.

By-the-by, we apparently were pretty lucky. The mechanic that came to fix the truck said he fully expected it to be impounded and ticketed for obstructing traffic. I was blown away. Apparently, there is no leniency for ANYTHING in NJ. I was glad to see the signs that led us into Massachusetts and on our way.

The rest of our trip was pretty uneventful, and Nick and I oogled the New England architecture and topography. Mixed with Christmas music on the radio, it began to rekindle the enthusiasm we set off with.

While it would have been nice to see the second half of our drive in day light, I was glad when we finally arrived at a Shell station in Shelburne, VT. There we spoke with a hard-working, honest lady who gave us a brief run-down on everything from directions to daycare. She embodied the reason that I wanted to move. This is why we were here.

By this time, it was roughly 9:30 pm. We drove the last little distance, brought the kids into the temporary housing, collapsed on the couch emotionally drained, and watched as the kids explored there new environment, popping off their energy overflow valve.

So, here we are. Not a grand entrance, but an entrance all the same. I was always told you have to work for what you want. I do expect we will come across some challenges. Hopefully, this trip is the crap before a settled stomach.