Friday, September 12, 2014

Four Hours a Day

I've spent the last two and a half weeks commuting four hours a day, five days a week to get Columbus to and from college while we waitied for his driver license appointment.  Silly me, I thought I could just take him to the DMV for his test, but nope, he needed an appointment and it took weeks to get one.  I'm not complaining, I was more than happy to do it, but it was where most of my time and focus has gone, well, that and getting something on the table for dinner.  I've come to think of young adults as just as demanding as two year olds, not in a bad, bratty way, but in a time consuming way.  And I can't help but to think I have nine more times still in front of me to do this, but by then I'm sure I will be an old-pro at this whole college and growing up thing.  We missed pretty much every single grant and scholarship for this school year.  The deadlines were way back in December, and well, not only did I not know that, but I was more then a little distracted back then.  We will do better for next year, and will hopefully be adding Cleo to the college application process.

This is a fun and exciting time in life.  To watch our first born spread his wings and take off into the adventures of life is hugely rewarding.  I am beyond proud of him.  He is determined and driven, and that coupled with responsibility will take him far in his life plans.  I think he was a little afraid of this time in his life, and I know I had my own concerns, but now that we are finally here I think that we have both taken a deep breath and realize how entirely do-able this is.  

Today marks the end of week three of school and in that time he has discovered a passion for engineering.  His major is a two year A.A.S. degree in Industrial Electrical Maintenance, which includes engineering and electric circuits classes and labs, both of which he excitedly talks about that he has those classes.  But the engineering has captured his full attention to the point I have reminded him that he can always change his major if he wants to.  

To be honest, I think that as a homeschooler he was unsure of himself, his education and his ability to keep up on a college level, and earlier this year he went through this phase of resenting having been homeschooled.  He feared holes in his education that would set him back so far that he would painfully struggle for his college years, and I wonder if he thought that he wouldn't even be able to finish.  I think that those can be very normal fears for many homeschoolers.  They've never really had the opportunity to compare themselves against their peer group, which is both a good thing and a bad thing, but when that time finally comes it can be overwhelming and fearful for them.  I took his words in stride and tried to remind him of the bigger picture, but you know...he kind of knew more than me, because teenagers are like that.  

Fall sets in, dry leaves have started to sprinkle the long windy road to the top of the mountain and we begin to settle into some kind of new normal.  I often find myself thinking this time last year and trying to remember what exactly I was doing then, where exactly we were in our journey with Finn, and all I can remember is the fragmented feeling of being torn between two worlds and that I was still trying to figure out how to love beyond my own fear, beyond guarantees, beyond the circumstances, and then I ask myself if I did, if I did learn how to love beyond myself and anything I had ever known - and I answer yes, and I think if I only did one thing, I did that, and that's huge to me because I so wanted to love him in a complete way, and yet I so feared it.  

Soup. I'm looking forward to hot soup. And homemade bread.  And children spread out around the dinning room table doing school.  And Columbus coming home with stories from school.  And slow winter days that end with piles of children and blankets snuggled on the couch.  And to whatever comes next...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Hot Part of the Day

I woke up to rain, again, it's been raining a lot, but I'm starting to think that it's just normal for this part of the state, or the mountain, or whatever.  It doesn't really matter - it just rains a lot.  And then it gets hot, and humid, which is what has happened today.  The clouds are building up again, which probably means more rain, maybe even a thunderstorm, and as much as I don't want anymore rain I'd take it if it meant things cooled off.  

The water pump stopped working on Thursday.  It didn't entirely stop working, we can still get a low flow if someone goes out and smacks the pump a time or two with a heavy pair of pliers, but there's not enough pressure for a shower or to do any laundry.  

We spent something like four-thousand dollars on our well, countless hundreds of dollars on small pumps, and far too many man hours messying with it all for it to be even one-tenth of the savings it was meant to be by not hooking up to city water.  I think that if I did the math on it at this point we could have paid for city water for a lifetime, even for our size family, and still had money left over.  

And even when it does all work, it works with the limited 220 gallons a day and some cheap, shitty pump that most people can spit with more pressure then it comes out of the shower head with.  And don't even get me going on all the iron in the water.

Hindsight, eh?

Oh well, just more adventure for the living.  David ordered a new pump after it was discovered that there either never was a backup pump like there is supposed to be, or it didn't work, and we made the choice for water over other bills being paid.  That's how life up here works - you put out the biggest fire first, and not having water always counts as a pretty big fire.  

Getting Columbus ready for college has been crazy busy and a sort of cluster fuck of stupidity and poor planning on my part, maybe his too, because lord knows he is no longer a child even if when it comes to things like this he acts like one.  It's worth it, I know, and he knows it...we all know it, but it's still a big pain in the ass.

He got signed up for all of his classes after a long and boring as hell orientation and sitting around for hours waiting for an internet connection because the college had every.single.kid. at orientation trying to get online and signed up at once.  It didn't seem like the best way to do things in my opinion, but what do I know - they're the ones with the degrees.  There was this especially usless woman there, a counselor, not for college planning, but for phycology stuff, who couldn't even answer basic questions, like how to pay for classes with financial aid.  She realized her own incompetence with a laugh and by saying I don't DO numbers.  Give me a psychotic with a gun and I'm your woman!  

I offered to go get a gun if that was what it was going to take to get some actual help so that we could get the hell out of there.

She paused for a minute, smiled weakly and then walked away.  

I just sat there, fuming and wishing that I did actually have a gun.

The end result of all of that is classes five.freaking.days.a.week spread out all over, which doesn't leave a whole lot of time for a job.  We live an hour from the college one way, so it doesn't take much to realize that gas expenses are going to add up quickly.  The plan was for Columbus to have a part-time job to pay for his gas and insurance.  We don't mind paying for it, it's just the reality of coming up with the money to pay for it.  But I will say this: he IS going to college.  If I have to give him a piggyback ride to school - he is going.

I was thinking about all of it, or obsessing, rather, and I realized that a little econo car would make a huge difference on the monthly expense, so I looked online for one.  I hadn't looked at cars in years, but it seemed like if we worked really hard, and sold some (more) stuff, that we could come up with enough to buy something.  Then, I got to thinking even more - my dad never gave Columbus any kind of graduation present, and it really wasn't a big deal, but it seemed like maybe that was a good way to approach my dad about helping out a little with a car.

I called my brother to run it by him first.  I can always count on my brother to be straight with me, and if I was out of line for asking dad for money my brother wouldn't be afraid to tell me.  He told me that he didn't think it was out of line at all, and then he offered to match however much I could get out of the old man.  And he made it easy for me by telling me he was thinking $1500.00 from him and $1500.00 from dad.  

I got off the phone with him and told the kids that their Uncle was very, very generous and a freaking genius!!

Then I called my dad, who made me work for it, but not too hard, and in the end he came through.

So, we've been used car shopping, which is just a glimpse into society that I could live without.  Reading classified ads makes me realize just how stupid people can be, and how stupid they assume the rest of us are, and even worse - many of them are just flat-out-liars.  

I'll spare you that rant and just leave it at we did find a car.

Columbus still doesn't even have his license, which I thought would be as simple to fix as popping into the DMV and having him take the test.  And then I finally looked online and found out that you actually have to schedule a time for the test with the DMV.  No biggie, right?  Wrong, the soonest time he could get for the test is September 9th.  So, now I have to drive him to school, remember - one hour one way, drive home, and then go back and pick him up three days a week.  The other two days he only has one class that is two hours, so I'll just hang out in town and wait for him.  

I feel like a total idiot.  I should have known, or I should have found out sooner, and now because I didn't it's going to be this even bigger pain-in-the-butt.  I feel like I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off for weeks now, and I was really just getting through until he started school, and now I've delayed some sense of settled life for another couple of weeks.

It never did rain.  The sun is back out and it's hot as hell today.  The kids are waiting to go swimming at the swimming hole, but I keep putting them off till later because I know that as hot as it is, and on a Saturday, that the swimming hole is just packed with people and that's way more exposed, well fed, southern white skin then I want to be exposed to today.  I swear, it should be illegal for some people to even try on a two piece swimsuit, never mind actually owning one and wearing it in public.

No. No thank you.  I'm going to make them wait until about dinner time when they've all cleared out and gone back home for the evening.  

I've made some blog changes.  The side bar and the top bar are gone, I've stopped syndicating to Facebook, and comments are turned off.  I suppose that you could say I'm feeling antisocial.  Frankly, I'm more than a little tired of the internet right now and the fakeness of it all.  And maybe I'm being a big, huge hypocrite by saying that.  But I see people lie over and over, misrepresent themselves, what is going on in their lives, or just withhold parts of the truth so that they stand in the best, beit dishonest, light possible.  And I'm starting to think that people just like being lied to if it keeps them happy and doesn't challenge what they think.  And I'm just tired of it and it irritates me, so I've pulled way back.  And in some ways, right now, I'd just rather pretend that there are no readers here and write what I want to write without thinking about what anyone else is going to think or feel about it.  

That hasn't stopped people from emailing me though, and here is the thing - I've been emailed everything from I'm depressed and need counseling and/or medication, to Finn was tortured by the doctors, to what I'm feeling is completely normal and just another healthy step in the process of grief. 

And I know people mean well, and I appreciate it, but you can see how listening to the constant opinions and advice from well meaning strangers could get a little tiring, especially when it swings in such drastic opposite directions that in one email I am fine and in the next I need therapy and medication.  That's the thing - I am honest.  I do tell you when it hurts like hell and how ugly that pain can be, and when it's good I share that too.  And I'm direct, you don't have to try and decipher some cryptic bullshit and wonder what the hell is really going on.  

And I know I'm judged for all of it, but right now, I just don't want to hear about it.  I don't even want to think about it.  I just want to write.  I just want to work through this part of my life and get to the other side.  If you stick around - great.  If not, leave with my best wishes for you and yours.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

I Know, I'm No Fun, But...

I don't even think it's about the charity, I think it's more about just one more opportunity to showcase yourself on Facebook. I think that it is horrible that we condone the waste of water at all, even in the name of charity. The one gallon you used for the challenge is no big deal, right?  

But estimates fromThe Washington Post and the Long Beach Post suggest that the challenge has also used between 5 and 6 million gallons of water so far. 

And that doesn't even touch on the resources used to clean the water!

5 to 6 million gallons of water wasted, for our entertainment, to raise money for a charity. Such a shame, because I bet there are people all over the world who would have loved to have had that nice clean water to drink, or take a bath in, or cook and clean with. 

I know we sure would have. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Some Place to Start

I have so many thoughts in a single busy day and no time to ever put them down here, and often, no real desire.  I hide.  From myself, mostly.  Stay busy.  Cook, clean, purge, read to little people, get Columbus ready for college...the list doesn't end, and I start to think it's because I won't let it.  I don't want it to.  I want to stay hidden.  Submerged in mindless everyday things so that the background noise drowns out the emotions that I have become saturated with.  Like a full sponge, just touch it and water will leak out...just say his name, think it...and water will leak out.

I want to be strong, but I am not.  I am caught someplace between numb and distracted and an overwhelming pain that I have no idea what to do with.  I am merely hanging on for dear life.

And I wonder why?  Why now does he come back to haunt me?  What changed?  Is it just that his birthday comes or is it because I've ran from the pain for so long that it built up into something that I can no longer hide from?  What?  Why?

I didn't think that I was running from it.  I thought that I was being strong. I thought that I was making peace with it and turning something ugly into something...

I don't even know what anymore?

Worthwhile.  Meaningful.  

Months ago I stopped thinking of him as my baby.  It just hurt too bad, so I started thinking of him as a  lesson.  Something to learn from.  Something to be better because of.  And I felt better because of it.

And now?  Now I can't do that anymore.  I just keep seeing him as my baby.  

And I keep thinking about him turning a year old and all the things we didn't get.  All the smiles that didn't come.  The first step that won't be.  The place at the table that will never be filled by him.  

Nobody wants to talk about him.  Dead babies aren't polite conversation.  And that hurts too.  It's like it didn't happen, because if we talk about him it hurts, or it's uncomfortable, or it brings to the surface the ugly truth that not all children live, so it's just better not to talk about him.  Even in passing, even just casually...the room goes quiet and the uncomfortable sideway glances start.

And I see all of this crap on my facebook newsfeed about Robin Williams and depression and how we need to have more awareness and hopefully his death can bring that awareness and....blah, blah, blah.  What a bunch of hypocrites, because you know what?  If you want to talk about depression you're going to have to talk about some sad shit, not close your eyes and look away, or for the nearest exit.

I started thinking about his birthday several weeks ago.  It just occurred to me one day that it was coming up, and I don't even remember why now, but since then I just keep thinking about it, and the closer it gets - the more I think about it.  And the thing is, I don't know what I'm supposed to do on his birthday.  I don't know how I'm supposed to get out of bed.  How do I just get up and go about my normal day?  How do I just not turn into a sobbing puddle?  Shouldn't something happen?  But what?    And, please, don't tell me to release balloons or plant a tree.  That's not what I'm talking about it, and when I think about it - it sounds a whole lot like applying a bandaid to an arterial wound.

I want to run, and I would if I could.  I would run far and I would run fast.  I would run away from all of it.  I'm tired of all of it.  I'm tired of this mountain.  I'm tired of limited water.  I'm tired of worrying about the septic, and heat for the winter, and money and time and school...and just all of it.  I'm tired of life being hard.  I'm tired of one thing after another.  

This really sucks.  This pain, and this realizing that it never stops.  That I have the daunting task of carrying this with me for the rest of my life.  I think about him and I think you were only five pounds, how did you manage to leave such a heavy burden, and I must carry this forever?