Wisdom Comes Suddenly

Together

August 28th, 2014 · No Comments

 

Sara is imitating an eyeglass commercial, but all the same, I find her humor to be original. For as rough as yesterday was, today was the polar opposite. Was it the nice, long swim after school? Maybe. Was it the warm shower, the full belly, and getting the homework started much earlier? Perhaps. In a surprising twist of fate, Sara sat down with her math homework, and independently walked through it like a champ. I dare say, I think she thoroughly enjoyed it.

It doesn’t hurt we started with her grabbing my reading glasses, and making me laugh until my sides hurt. “I’m a serious business woman. Where are my charts?!”

And it hit me I’ve been quite dismal at saying the good things, which is so sad. There are so, so many good things to say:

The upper management of this apartment complex may care very little for their tenants, but the people here on site clearly do. It’s true I’ve never lived anywhere infested with such a wildly differentiated variety of bugs (today I found a dead toad in my watering can, but that’s a story for another day). But I’ve also never had a maintenance team stop by and help me wash my windows, or just check in to make sure nothing else has exploded (and then we laugh until our sides hurt, because we can’t think of anything not yet broken). Despite the nightmare we’ve been through, our day-to-day repairs were shared with very decent people. There have been blessings in this oddly comical horror story. I’ve been grateful for every last one of them, even if I failed to say it here.

The house we are building is my favorite place to hang out these days. It may be covered in drywall dust, but it’s home. Yesterday I had the pleasure of walking through each room with my favorite painter/remodeling/closet/if I can dream it, he can build it guy (Tim Edens, and if you’re in Indy, you won’t find a better team). My realtor stopped by, “doing her rounds”. (Jennifer Goodspeed, and if you’re in Indy, you simply won’t find a better realtor). I was standing in a sunny house, surrounded by people with my best interests in mind. How can that not feel great? I wanted to hug that muggy air, because when this is all said and done, our family has someplace to go.

The girls are having a fantastic start to the school year. Their academic maturity is starting to show, even if only in fleeting glimmers. They love their school. I love their school. We have a strong community that has cheered me through every moment of this adventure. Without these witnesses, I would be lost in my own thoughts, instead of screaming with laughter over coffee with people I love. They have equally ridiculous stories of building dream homes with unplugged sump pumps that flooded a brand new basement, which then caught on fire. Stories of building, discovering game-ending flaws, moving out, rebuilding…”persistently starting over again and again” seems to be the theme of families who dare to move. I love these women, and I love how their stories make me feel. Unalone. I feel held up and more importantly, held together.

Someday, the 4 of us will look back on this 6-month stretch, and we’ll recant the incredulous stories. Son-in-laws will sit with their jaws wide open, swearing we are exaggerating. But here’s my trump card: I recorded every last tale…right here. And you read it. You’ll vouch for me. Or to quote my friend Kathy, “You can’t make this stuff up.” Sometimes we remember phenomenal stories. I climbed the Great Wall of China! But often, our best stories are full of unpredictable woe. Tales of misfortune so uncharted, one must laugh at the sheer act of survival. We marvel at our own tenacity, and ability to endure together, as a family.

Together. Always together. Not even a ghost story beats the history of how we went through this together. Godspeed, my dear witnesses. For your Labor Day adventures, Godspeed.

 

 

 

 


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Such A Buzzkill

August 27th, 2014 · 1 Comment

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Completely unrelated to my post, but here is a picture of my bunny trying to kiss a bunny. Cuteness alert!

YEAH, so like, GUESS WHAT?! 3rd grade has homework! DUDE. Such a buzzkill for ‘ole Sara. You mean you’ll want her to do more than look at the awesome sharks hanging from the ceilings? You’ll want her to learn new things? WHAT-EVA’! Her annual campaign titled, “Taking my frustration out on Mommy” has begun in earnest. Bravo, Sara. I like your commitment to tradition.

In other buzzkill news, our shower sprung a healthy leak, and came spewing through the kitchen lights last night. Greg put his hand to the ceiling to check for wetness, and his hand went right through the drywall. BUZZKILLER! The repair was fairly low drama, and required I remove everything from only one closet. I find all repairs start with me clearing out a closet, so panels can be accessed. One of these things leads to Narnia, I’m just sure of it. Or an ancient Indian burial ground, which I think we can all agree has been unearthed this summer.

In so doing, I discovered my daughters had followed ZERO-POINT-ZERO of my unpacking requests. Times 5 days. And then multiply my frustration by the number of clean laundry items I discovered they had stashed about the room. Those toys I moved so Narnia could be reached? Those are MINE ladies. My loot tonight was rich: an entire Calico Critter village, a Kidz Bop CD, and a Nerf Gun. BUZZKILL!

And now the apartment complex (which has given me FABU material for a horror novel) has decided paying for our move was “optional”. Oooohhhh. The ultimate buzzkill. Now we gettin’ crazy up in here. I fear things might truly unravel, so if I disappear into a panel access door and find it difficult to find my way back…Godspeed my friends. Godspeed.


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Those Are My Marigolds, Asshole.

August 25th, 2014 · 5 Comments

 

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Happier Times On The Back Porch From Hell

 

Reader Lydia is worried if I leave the haunted apartment, we will lose so much material. True, true. BUT, in the long run, it’s a net-positive, because I get to LIVE. If there were ANY doubt that the apartment was haunted by a spirit who wanted me the move out, please…read on…

With the temperatures above 90, along with the humidity, I received the key to the new apartment less than 24 hours after the neighbors’ bed bug notification. I already had the minivan packed. The key slid into the lock with ease, so I knew right then this apartment was better. Not fighting the lock? That saves me a ton of time each day! I walked into an IDENTICAL apartment, and knew immediately, it was completely DIFFERENT.

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Hey, I know! Let’s build a PIAZZA back here!

First, I was overwhelmed by the smell of my Grandmother. Not a dead guy stuffed behind the furnace. Lavender old lady powder beats dead guy any day. Look it up.

Second, the door on the downstairs bathroom shuts.

Third, when I put things on the pantry shelves, not a single shelf fell to the floor.

Fourth, the drawer underneath the stove doesn’t fly off it’s hinges whenever anyone breathes near it.

Fifth, the TV and microwave can be on at the same time.

Sixth, the washer holds a full load, and the dryer actually dries things. Every.single.time.

Seventh, the fence is a brand new bright white, not black, molded wood.

Eighth, the A/C cools the entire apartment.

Ninth, the shower recovering isn’t cracked, and the backstops on the handles are all attached to the tile.

Tenth, the shower can be run at the same time as the washer. Or a sink. AND a toilet can be flushed with someone IN the shower. MIRACLES!

Eleventh, this apartment does NOT back up to massive industrial building project. I wonder if the 50 guys who hang out at my back door every day are going to miss me? I thought it was only fitting to swap gifts, so I left the ghost behind, and in trade, I took a hovercraft.

Twelfth, and I think we can all agree the most important feature of this new apartment: NO GHOST.

The night before the move, I may have gone overboard with the sage smudging. And by “overboard” I mean Greg walked into the apartment and choked from the stench and smoke. What can I say? Big ghosts require A LOT of burning sage. Needless to say, I’ve been banned from all sage burning in his presence, and I’m pretty sure he and Sara have hidden my stash from me. NON-BELIEVERS!

 

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Wood stain + Flowers + Potting Soil + Mulch + Elbow Grease – Ghost – Industrial Construction Project = Piazza

The move went smoothly (as I anticipated because Spirit John clearly wanted us to move out). But Sunday, when I went back to clean the apartment and clean up the porch, he was there to greet me. A third day of moving adventures and 90+ temperatures and humidity meant the girls were not in the mood to be helpful, and I sent them away with Greg. It was time I face Spirit John alone, one more time. I tried to assure him I was leaving, and merely wanted to leave the place as I found it, but the heat had him equally ill-tempered. After reaching my spotless goal, I locked up and moved to the dreaded porch. Yuck. The stain work I did on the fence looked beautiful, but I had a few boards left to finish. The way the summer had panned out, I just never found the motivation to finish it. As I took my first swipe of stain, I found myself eye to eye with nothing other than a….

BLACK WIDOW SPIDER.

Not scary enough? It was EATING ANOTHER SPIDER.

Back away. Slowly…back…AWAY.

Enough of a sign to drop my work and run? Nope. After a spider-covered-summer, I had grown numb to their presence. I put the stain away, and decided to take my marigolds with me. The countless other flowers the girls and I planted never took off, but the marigolds were stunning. No way was I leaving them for John. He can move bugs, but I doubt he can lift a watering can. I FOUND YOUR ACHILLES HEEL, JOHN!

At the first marigold plant, my trowel broke in half. Sign? No. Just a cheap trowel. HA! I have a second! This idiot trudged forward.

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You’re building WHAT back here? Wait! Where are my trees?! WAIT! This is supposed to be the PIAZZA SUMMER! LOOK IT UP!

I dug and I dug, keeping a careful eye on the black widow, who seemed quite content with her prey. I carefully stacked the flowers across a drop cloth in the minivan, and returned one, last time for my pots. As I dumped the dirt, the last pot was absolutely FILLED with ants. So, so many ants. I had no hose to wash it out, so it was destined for the dumpster. When I walked with stacks of pots in both hands, those ants turned into angry, wildly tenacious creatures. They crawled up my arms, biting and stinging as they went. I threw the ant pot inside the other pots and decided they must all be tossed. Screw it.

Did the large stock of pots protect me from the ant pot? NO. I lifted the stack again, and the entire set was swarming with ants. More stinging. More yelling. I dropped the stack and RAN. It finally hit me: I wasn’t having YET ANOTHER day of back luck. I was facing down Spirit John, and he wasn’t taking no for an answer.

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Oh gosh guys. I’m going to miss you too. A bulldozer? For me? You shouldn’t have!

In memory of my haunted summer sans my piazza, I now know, Spirit John likes marigolds and the smell of burning sage, and this makes sense, because marigolds smell horrible, and he smells like a dead guy himself. Stinks loves stink. He also loves his apartment, and hates guests, especially on his back porch. Not much of an entertainer. He dislikes the Today Show, the smell of cooking bacon (weirdo), and is quite the entomologist. I, for one, will never be returning to the haunted apartment. I’ve informed the girls they aren’t even to look in its general direction. We’re now 5 buildings away, and we can’t see it from here…thank God. I assume the gates of hell will open up and swallow it whole any day now. Swallow it, its busted appliances, the insectarium it has become, and last, but not least…Spirit John. Adios nightmare.

P.S. to S.J.: The marigolds are MINE, asshole.

 


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Adios Spirit John

August 21st, 2014 · 3 Comments

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Even the background on this picture will freak you out! (*Read below)

If you don’t believe in spirits or ghosts, you may wish to look away. If you fear bed bugs, you may wish to keep reading. I know announcing this piece is only for readers who both believe in poltergeists AND fear bed bugs truly narrows my demographics, but we don’t choose these things. They choose us.

First, our area of town had a 15 hour power outage this week which necessitated the tossing of not only our entire fridge, but the ginormous tub of ham and beans I had made for my Grandpa. And the chilled cookie dough…his wife’s recipe. That was hard. As we lay sweltering in the humidity at 3 am, I decided this apartment is most certainly haunted. Greg doesn’t like to speak of such things, so maybe we should say, “This apartment is occupied by a tenant¬†WE CANNOT SEE, but is very good at letting us know HE IS HERE.” In my exhaustion and dehydration, I started calling him Spirit John. I don’t know why. Delirium doesn’t come with a guide book.

Second, even after repurchasing a fridge full of food, I had made up my mind to look for Zen in this unlivable situation. SURELY there is a lesson for me in this. WHAT could it BE? I tried telling Spirit John this morning I wanted to go as much as it seemed he wished for me to leave, when I heard a knock at the door. No one visits us here. My friends are fairly certain this apartment is haunted (sorry Greg, “containing prior occupants”). There stood the Property Manager, looking…? Full of bad news. Of course it was bad news. He never has GOOD news. “Congratulations Lori! You have been on Candid Camera all summer and you win! It was a gigantic game of Apartment Survivor and here is a check for ONE MEEL-EON DOLLARS!”

No. That wasn’t the purpose of his call. The dishwasher sent up smoke signals last week, and I should have paid attention. Our neighbors have a wicked infestation of bed bugs, brought in by furniture arriving from Chicago. And guess what? Bed bugs can crawl through walls and come in through outlets! WHO KNEW?! I didn’t know! I know NOW! Luckily, the Inspector (we’re on each others’ Xmas card lists at this point) found absolutely no sign of bed bugs in our apartment. Whew.

But that was my last bullet. Zen, sorry ’bout your luck. Maybe another go’round. This time, I’m pulling up stakes and we are OUTTA HERE. Tomorrow, we start the move, and by Saturday evening, we should be in new digs. Not on a construction zone, and hopefully not with a less-than-friendly ghost. I decided to call a Shamanic Healer and complete any recommended checklists titled, “How to make sure the bad luck stays behind”, which may seem outlandish to some, but not to anyone who has faithfully read this blog all summer. My sister signed off our phone call tonight with, “Hey…before I forget…Good Luck getting rid of your Poltergeist!”

Greg just wants to get out, even if he has to put up with my pan-belief-system, so our conversation tonight went something like this:

Me: I ordered 3 sage smudge sticks tonight, and they will be here tomorrow.

Greg: That is coming out of your allowance.

Me: Oh no it isn’t. It’s a moving expense. I’m going to unstick any spirits attached to our stuff, and then I’m using one to clean the aura of our new apartment.

Greg: And just what budget category does “sage smudge stick” come out of? OH! Sorry! I remember! You’ve been asking me to create a “Hocus Pocus” category for years. Or would you like to take it out of the Voodoo fund? The Hooey money we’ve saved perhaps?

Me: You will THANK ME LATER, MY MAN! 

I tell you this story not to bring about a jinx on our move, but rather to ask for your good wishes. The girls are obviously upset by the upheaval this is causing, and quite frankly, Kelly says she’ll miss Spirit John (proving they never sleep at night, and sit at the top of the stairs listening to everything Greg and I say). The stress of moving with such short notice has given Sara a migraine (which she is blaming on Red Dye #40, because heaven knows she won’t accept real emotions without an internal battle). Both are certain our world is covered in bed bugs, and who can blame them? I’ve been scratching my arms all day, just thinking about it. YUCK! We’ll move into an apartment in a building nearby (but away from construction), and we’ll move again in about 7 weeks. Not our best case scenario, but what would that even be at this point?

I KNOW! A check for ONE MEEL-EON DOLLARS! Just kidding. We’re blessed beyond words and will be home sweet home before the first snowflake falls. Hang in there with me. It’s going to get fun from here.

*I had no idea what picture to pair with this post. I thought I would do something random, and I looked over my last download from the State Fair. It would seem the girls got a hold of the camera in the recent past, and I found several silly pictures, clearly taken by my children. I found this one in the mix. I don’t even know if it’s Sara or Kelly under that blanket. Maybe it’s Spirit John! Somehow, I thought he’d be taller…

 


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How Does My Hair Look?

August 20th, 2014 · 3 Comments

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My friend Lydia is in love with my hair, so this picture is actually porn. We’re getting old. It doesn’t take much.

A few friends have asked me how it feels to be NOT the PTA President. It feels amazing. Not in a regretful, I’m so glad it’s over, kind of way. Definitely quite the opposite. It’s more of a “I can’t believe it’s over and I loved it so much” kind of way, and HEY! LOOK AT ALL THIS FREE TIME! What am I doing with myself? Nothing, really. No, honestly. Nothing. Ask Greg…he’ll validate my current amoeba-like state. And could someone pick him up some bananas when they are next at the store, because the definition of “nothing” includes “not running errands”. It’s 2014! Who leaves the house JUST to get bananas these days? Don’t we have 3D printers for that sort of thing?

I might be depressed. Or ridiculously happy. It’s hard to say. Let’s hold all judgement until the ride is over.

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Many friends have gently told me I’m not a hat-person, but I still say they’re wrong. It’s all about finding the RIGHT hat.

However, as “Immediate Past President” my picture still has to go up on the PTA Bulletin Board at school…only slightly more than nothing, but still…a little something. To-Do List for First Week of School? Email ONE picture to the Bulletin Board Chair. And HERE’S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN LORI GETS BORED. The following conversation is partially true, partially fabricated, partially a conversation between myself and the Bulletin Board Chairman (we’ll call her “BBC” and protect the innocent), and partially a conversation between me and my iPhoto files. Let’s smoosh it all together and have some fun:

BBC: I need a picture of you for the Bulletin Board. I’m happy to take one, or crop something you have.

Me: Oh fun! Here’s one.

BBC: I wasn’t able to crop the girls out of this one, and you’re sticking out your tongue?

Me: I didn’t even notice! Oops. Try again!

BBC: The rest of the pictures submitted are in color. Do you have this one in color?

Me: Oh, sorry no, but that makes sense. Ooooh! Do you like this one?

BBC: Maybe not in costume?

Me: We’re going serious this year? OK, I’m not making a goofy expression in this one.

BBC: You are holding a goat. An actual, real, live goat.

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Me: No goats. Got it.

BBC: Is this one even you? How much hair do you have?!

Me: It simply cannot be measured. I could make rugs on a daily basis, just on what falls out. OK, OK! Serious. One shot. Of ME, not just my hair. Got it.

BBC: That’s you with a mustache. Can you just meet me after school and I’ll take your picture?

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Me: I’m kind of funny about having my picture taken. I really can’t stand it. Let me try again. I’m SURE I have something!

BBC: This is you in a very large wig. Are you feeling OK? We’ll be standing together in the lobby in ONE HOUR AND I AM HAPPY TO TAKE ONE.

Me: Dude! Am I making this overly complicated? I feel like I’m over-thinking it. What are the requirements again?

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In the end, I sent 9 pictures. Partially because I’m a goof, and partially because it was informative for me to realize I rarely take serious pictures. Or pictures without live animals (that statement includes pictures with my monkey children). Today was a great exercise in structuring my newly-discovered free-time:

(1) Buy Greg bananas. (Proving I’m “Wife of the Year” because I don’t even eat bananas.)

(2) Clean out the 18,000 pictures in my iPhoto files.

(3) Get a head shot for my next job as? Next job….hmm…”Chairman of banana buying and iPhoto file cleaning”. And you thought I’d go stir-crazy…

 


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Modern Art Au Shitbox

August 18th, 2014 · 1 Comment

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This piece of modern art was recently installed at my back door. At first I thought Ray lost his favorite box, so I called the number he printed on the side (smart thinker, that Ray). I let him know he’d left a treasured box at the Shitbox, and how ironic was that? He didn’t get my joke, because as it turns out, Ray is a serious ARTIST.

I have such an amazing front row seat to the presentation of Ray’s art, so I have taken some time to ponder its significance. What is Ray trying to say with this piece? Obviously, my first interpretation is concrete: Ray thinks he is FULL of garbage. It’s a statement about the gradual, yet overwhelming, erosion of America’s collective intellect. This work indicates a need for transformation; America has lost its way, academically-speaking. Basically, this art is a silent (or is it?) protest piece directed at the Kardashian family.

But that felt too easy. Modern art is rarely such a “gimme”, deconstructively-speaking. WHAT RAY?! What are you saying?! I think he’s making a statement not about garbage, but about gar-BEIGE. We are all trash, so how can we change our mindsets towards an appreciation of a permeating anti-aesthetic? If we look within, and still, there is just more trash, how can we support our fragile sense of selves? What if there is no beauty skin deep or otherwise? WHAT THEN, PEOPLE?! Should we allow the death of hope? Should we fight the ugly? Should we accept that solid refuse is our lot in life, and our best bet is to embrace the waste, and simply seek containment? And if “containment” is the point, what’s the symbolism of the red paint? Angry containment? See? I’m lost again. It’s like I’m just going around and around this big, red rectangle, yet it’s giving me so little. Damn you Ray! Are you are a genius or a madman?!

I feel certain more thought is needed, but therein I am blessed. I have been given more time to digest this thought-provoking work of art. Our house has been delayed by another month, and I’m certain Ray’s box isn’t budging anytime soon. I thought, “That’s it. My dance card is full. I can’t take on additional critique projects at this time. Life can’t get more exciting.” But, per my usual, I spoke too soon. Guess what was delivered at 7:00 am this morning? That’s right guys….

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The hovercrafts are here.

Oh my Lord, it’s a good thing they lock up the keys in a rickety trailer at night, with no security system. Games are afoot, my friends. You in?


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I Miss Robin Williams And My Dishwasher Is On Fire

August 13th, 2014 · Comments Off

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Comedians. Every family needs one.

I was so prepared to write an introspective piece today. With the passing of one of the world’s greatest comedians, you had to feel it coming. As a comedic writer, I’ve been sitting, rather stunned, since Monday evening. To know we will never laugh until our sides hurt with new jokes from Robin Williams just makes me cry. Not all bright lights can burn forever.

I would write something-something about how while YES comedians have a dark side, I disagree that we’re all trying to hide it. Some of us have chosen to turn the dark into light by allowing it to grow into humor. Blah-blah-blah, more quotes from the great Mr. Williams (because my roommates from college know I have his entire body of work memorized, and they, in fact, are tired of watching me impersonate him)…and more blah-blah about comedy, comedians, and how it’s OK to be dark and light all at once, and really, aren’t we all?

The next paragraph would have been deep thoughts about depression and its sometimes fatal course, considering I researched Treatment-Resistant Depression for a decade and was on a core team who completed an FDA submission package for a medication now available around the world. One of my proudest achievements….that in fact, is most clearly, not a panacea. Because those don’t exist. And depression does kill some patients, and has nothing to do with willpower or choice. And blah-blah. The world just doesn’t understand Mental Illness and its comorbities…BLAH!

I would then have summed it up with tears and laughter and WOW! I would have felt better about the death of Robin Williams. But here’s the thing. I don’t feel better about his death. I just don’t. Mental illness and lack of access to care is at a critical pitch in our country right now. His death only highlights how far we have to go. And more pressing, but far less related or interesting, as I sat down to write this piece, I smelled smoke. Coming from my kitchen, which was perplexing as I’m not cooking anything at this moment.

HOWEVER…I had started the dishwasher, which has needed a little “troubleshooting” as of late. I left my thoughts to investigate, and found smoke pouring out of it. Nay….not steam. Not the heavenly mist which indicates I don’t have to hand wash a bazillion plates and cups. SMOKE. So. There you have it. We have uncovered the next apartment mystery, which is great, because I was simply on pins and needles awaiting this turn of events.

Robin Williams is gone and we are left confused and saddened that he died from the opposite force that he spent a lifetime sharing with us. He gave us his light and he died from his dark (which, in my mind, are circular, and actually one in the same, in many respects). We are shocked by this irony, and how unfair it all seems to him, and to his legacy. We are equally saddened to live in a century of wildly advanced healthcare, and he couldn’t be saved from his own thoughts. In the end, while we believed his brain to be superhuman and supernaturally gifted, it was in fact, quite mortal. Quite fragile. He suffered in ways we cannot comprehend, and last night I prayed God himself opened the gates to welcome him in. Those lucky, lucky angels. They are in stitches right about now, falling over themselves in giggles.

Thank you, Mr. Williams. Godspeed to you….

 

 


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New York Unfolding

August 11th, 2014 · 3 Comments

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Long, long ago, I lived on an island, far out in the sea. I lived in an weathered, gray, clapboard house with nurses and healthcare professionals, and we worked together in a tiny island hospital. We had few resources, but we had moxie to spare. It was magnificent. The time I spent there and the friendships I made changed me. But life evolves, and each one of us eventually left the island to search for our futures elsewhere. Fate scattered us, as Fate cares so little for geography. We held reunions every other year, and did so successfully for quite some time…but again…life evolved. 5 years passed, and we said, “Enough Fate! Enough!” New York City was the plan, and we set our flags in the ground. HARD.

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Grandpa stabilized, and with 2 hours of sleep and my first shower in days, I threw some clothes in a bag and I GOT ON THAT PLANE. The world’s greatest travel buddies met me for the most fun-packed 48 hours of my year. And here’s the best part: we planned NONE of it. As I disembarked, Ruthie and Mia awaited my agenda. I always have an agenda. Minute-to-minute plans so we can squeeze the juice right out of our adventures. But…life evolves, and so have I. No plans. No itinerary. No agenda. We’ve all been to NYC many times. I thought it might be a nice change of pace to let it unfold before us.

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Only The World’s Best Travel Buddies would agree to such flexibility, and so rather than force ourselves upon New York, we allowed New York to greet us. After grabbing a bargain on a double-decker bus tour with hop-on, hop-off service, we found the best idea of the weekend. Rather than using rushed cabs and subways, we moved slowly through the city, jumping off to sight-see or shop, and then meandering back to grab a bus to wherever caught our fancy. Audio tour? Sure! In the areas with which we were unfamiliar. Other times? We just enjoyed the breeze and visited.

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A Drag Queen Dinner Show, some exhilarating bargain shopping, reflective moments at Ground Zero, and non-stop laughter over an antipasta platter and a carafe of Sangria. New York unfolded it’s best. Browsing through the Pearl River Mart, buying one special Grandpa some Yankee gear (his first question upon awakening was how many Yankee games had he missed?), the world’s best shakes and burgers inside Grand Central Station, and burning out our feet and hips on 5th Avenue. Oh yes, New York unfolded it’s classic offerings. Sushi, a tour of Harlem I’ve long wanted to take, streets in Little Italy shutting down for foot traffic-only on Saturday nights, pastries, and more laughter. Do H&M’s outnumber Starbucks, or vice versa? Oh New York…you never disappoint. Street food near midnight on Times Square, ping pong players dueling it out in parks at late hours with full audiences, and passing one of my favorite celebrity chefs as he was out for a jog. NEW YORK! You slay me with unexpectedness!

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But…as all good adventures must do, it ended all too soon. In a blink, we hugged each other goodbye at our gates, and flew back to our own realities. Mia’s in Vermont, Ruthie’s in North Carolina, and mine, here in Indiana. 2 little angels I had not hugged in a week were waiting anxiously at the door. They had stories too! A week with Goomommy and Goodaddy and the family in Virginia?! Their first adventure away from home without parents?! Oh gracious, they had stories to spare.

No matter what happens next, these memories are mine to keep. New York unfolding before us, and 3 women finally old enough to understand it was a gift worth treasuring. The gift of friendships that stand the test of time and space. The gift of breathing in new air. The gift of just letting it be and become. Thank you to my Chicken Box Gang…for knowing me, and for loving me anyway. For being at my every crossroad with infinite words of wisdom. Thank you New York, for being predictably unexpected. And thank you to Greg and my in-laws, for making sure I made the trip. I tried to catch my gratitude for all of you this past week in a cup, but it runneth over. Godspeed to you all, until our next Chicken Box Adventure (Florida!!)

 


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Life Unfolding…

August 5th, 2014 · 9 Comments

 

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Life, in its gut-busting glory, changes us. We morph right before our very eyes. I’ve morphed this summer, and perhaps, not in the direction I prefer. But today, some light was shed on my story, and I think this chapter might need a new ending.

While we will inevitably look back on this summer as a family and laugh hysterically, I have not thrived. I have survived, but I have not thrived. The continuing frustrations between the “where we are”, and the “where we wish to be” seem endless. But still…I’ve seen much worse. The sweaty night on the 24 hour train ride through China when I found a rat in my bed, chewing through my last box of Pop-Tarts, was worse. I could have hid in the bathroom had it been more than a sliding door to a closet with a hole in the floor. It wasn’t the austerity that frightened me, as much as the fact that hundreds of people had to share the non-toilet/closet, so hiding there would have simply been rude.

So why did these thoughts come to me now, instead of after the move, when I’d had a good night’s sleep? Because life changes when we least expect it, and I’ve found it rarely follows a good night’s sleep.

On Friday afternoon, my last surviving Grandparent had a mild heart attack. Followed by a massive heart attack. Followed by a Code Blue on the Cath table, followed by a rushed drive home from my in-laws where we left the girls for their first stay away from home, followed by one of the most tenuous 24 hours in Cardiac ICU this RN has ever witnessed. Followed by the 3 hours of sleep I’ve had in 48 hours while holding his hand. Followed by our very difficult decision to remove life-saving measures, followed by the miracle of watching him rally and survive it. Through the exhaustion and coffee…subconscious thought had time to bubble up.

I feel so much gratitude towards this man, it hurts. I have been surrounded by grief so raw, I nursed more than one family member through a visceral reaction. But for once, and maybe the first time ever, it hasn’t been my head in the bucket. I have held his hand. I have stroked his head. I have been talking quietly to him without so much as a crack in my voice. I’m not sure who is rising up within me, but she is stronger than the Lori who fought the ants. She is stronger than the Lori who waves her fist at the construction every morning. I’ve not met this Lori before, but I’m intrigued by her presence. She is thriving, despite the dismal circumstances around her. She is responding to the change, not reacting to it. She is allowing life to unfold, without forcing it to bend to her will.

I don’t know if Grandpa’s going to make it. I don’t know how our current housing situation is going to end, or maybe more importantly, WHEN it’s going to end. I’m not even sure how I’m going to undo my perspective and hit the thrive button the next time something breaks in this possessed apartment. Maintenance hasn’t been here in a few days, so I think we can all assume the next surprise is upon us. I have absolutely NO idea what the next 3 months of my life are going to look like, or if I have the strength to swim through to the other side. I simply don’t know what’s next.

And maybe…that’s the whole point.

Godspeed, my friends. Now, as always, Godspeed.

 

 

 

 


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This Wasn’t In The Brochure

July 31st, 2014 · 6 Comments

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The above picture is my alarm clock at the apartment. Monday through Friday, 7am-5pm, you can see my wooden fence line and my proximity to the construction. As of today, I’m officially toast. Last night I heard the neighbors had an infestation of mice, and I had a moment of relief we have cats…but that moment was interrupted for these not-so-favorable commercial breaks:

(1) The internet and cable went out for a day, due to the cable company themselves, cutting their 2nd wire in a week. They have warned me to expect spotty outages over the next several days. Not sure how that’s different from any other day, so I shall continue as planned.

(2) As the cable team left after a 2-hour trouble-shooting, the A/C went out. Probably not the best time for the front office to hear from me…again…as they had the unpleasant job of telling me the owners of the apartment feel they’ve done their best to make our stay comfortable, and no restitution on their part is required. It was hard to hear their entire justification for my camping trip from hell, over the noise, and the repairman ripping the thermostat off the wall, and saying, “Oh…NO”…but I think I got their drift. I’ve been rented a lemon. YUM.

They feel the safety fence and only doing construction on weekdays is a sufficient level of comfort. And sometimes apartments just have bad luck and fall apart. As long as they keep on fixing things, I should be happy. At this rate, I’ll need that maintenance guy to move in. Move in where? That half-bath still has a dead guy in it, so let’s not start there…

At this moment, I feel taken. I feel upset. I feel a huge company could have put more thought into such a large project occurring on someone’s doorstep. I feel I should comfort the neighbor screaming in the court that she’s hiring a lawyer because her online class performance is suffering. I feel I should tell her she’s yelling at the wrong cable company. Her company didn’t cut that cable…mine did.

OK, I’m back. She still wants to sue someone. She should probably take off her shower cap first, but I wasn’t about to make fashion suggestions after being in a sweltering apartment all day. I look HIGH-LARE-EE-US right now.

Onward. I feel I waited too long to find my Spica splint after my thumb starting popping weeks ago. Now I have the pleasure of feeling shooting pains up and down my arm, and no longer enjoy the use of my right hand. (Insert second moment of gratefulness that I am ambidextrous). In an attempt to find a 3rd moment of gratitude, I drove us to the house. I don’t know where my lovely team of framers went, but they were replaced by the scariest lookin’ dudes I’ve ever seen. And my Lord, the smoke. It made the dead guy behind my hot water heater smell like perfume. Remember when Gary Oldman played Drexl Spivey in Quentin Tarantino’s “True Romance”? Of course you don’t. Only 2 people watched that movie, and it was me and my college roomie.

Anyway. My house was full of the scariest character ever played by the great Gary Oldman, which was a Detroit drug dealer created in the mind of Quentin Tarantino. That’s math even I can do accurately, and we exited as quickly as we entered. And on that note, I always thought he was Gary OldHAM, which was TOTALLY wrong, as his name is actually Gary OldMAN. He is indeed an OLD MAN, not an OLD HAM, really changing my perspective on life, the Universe…what have you. On the off-chance you’re still reading, here is an unrelated reference: The Steve Miller Band’s “Big Old Jet Airliner” is NOT “Bingo Jet Had A Light On”. My rant just turned in an education in The Arts. You’re welcome.

I picked out this apartment on a very blustery day. I was told construction may start, to the east of my building, sometime next fall, right around our move-out date. There were deer at my back door, and a shady treeline. It was quiet here, and everything was new. The building was old, but the apartment was new. It smelled nice. I often think back to that day. The day I signed on this 10 cent diamond not worth a dime, and I wonder: Why did they leave so much out of their brochure? Such adventure! Such intrigue! Such need to receive legal counsel! Ugh. I’ll go now. Save it for the judge Lori! And you can take that literally…

If you’d care to read about the “World’s Record For The Most Things Breaking In An Apartment In One Summer” (I promise, you’ll laugh. And drink…but you’ll laugh while you’re drinking, which is always good.):

Welcome To Mayberry

Adventures In Apartment Living

Resilience Comes Suddenly

The Poop Pile and The Shit Box

Laughing In The Rain

This Temporary Moment

Sow’s It Going?

Godspeed my friends. Always, and most certainly this summer…Godspeed.

 


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