The world as seen through the eyes of an exhausted, caffiene addicted, homeschooling, atheist mama.

A Whole Lotta Shit

Six months ago, life was awesome. Hubby had a secure job, we had enough money to go out for dinner now and then, and we were saving for a trip to Disney World. Six months ago, we made resort reservations (we were going to stay in one of the new Pirate Rooms!), we made dining reservations (so many fun and interesting restaurants to choose from!) and we chattered excitedly about our week in paradise. For Christmas, Hubby surprised me with tickets to see Cirque du Soleil on our trip, and I cried. I had wanted to see Cirque du Soleil since I was a teenager; it was an experience I had always wanted but never quite dared to dream of.

Six months ago, our life was simple. Six months ago feels more like about a hundred years ago.

In January, Hubby lost his job suddenly. Oh crap, that was scary. But he signed up for unemployment and hit the (virtual) pavement, looking for work. Funny thing about the unemployment, though. It didn’t come through for us. At all. He was denied benefits because of an administrative screw up on his employer’s end, so he appealed. Since we never actually got the unemployment we needed and deserved, we had to make the tough decision to cancel our vacation. At least we had that money to help us through, though.

Poor BB. He was so sad and he cried so much when we told him we’d have to give up going to Disney World this year. But we told him, promised him, swore to him that we would go again. Maybe not this year, but eventually we’d make it back. He’s a great kid and a he accepted the loss of  our dream trip amazingly well. He accepted that we couldn’t go out to eat anymore, buy random books or even run to the store every couple of days like a pro. He helped me inventory our pantry and made a sign for the pantry door that says “Kitchen Shop…The Only Shop At Home!”

We were okay. We were plugging along, trying to pick up the pieces of the mess unemployment made of our lives. But the money just kept not coming and not coming. The hole under our feet kept getting bigger and bigger. We were on unstable ground and it was getting hard to find footing.

Then our cat got cancer. It came on suddenly and we had to make the terrible, awful, horrible, no good decision to put him down.

Poor BB was so sad. Saying goodbye to his Pnut was probably one of the most heartbreaking things he’d ever gone through. It hurt him so much that he said he’d gladly have traded Disney World for Pnut. Oh, my sweet boy. How do you comfort a child who has a broken  heart?

A week went by and Hubby’s new employer said they no longer needed someone out here, but if he was willing to relocate to the Dallas area, they had a position open for him there. We sat on it, not sure what to do, how to proceed. Because his current position is 100% commission, we still didn’t have money coming in, even though he was working 13 hours a day. All of our financial reserves were depleted. It was clear we couldn’t afford to stay put, but we couldn’t afford a move. Gah! So much shit all at once!

On the day we decided to tell BB we were moving, Hubby and I dropped him off at music class and we went looking for boxes. We took them home, I cried for all we had lost up to that point, I pulled my shit together, and went to pick BB up. We decided to take him out for lunch (Chick-Fil-A was a rare treat at that point after Hubby’s job loss) and then we’d tell him that we were moving.

I had been crying all day, and I wasn’t terribly hungry. My nuggets kept getting stuck in my throat; swallowing proved to be nearly impossible. But we got through the meal. We got in the car and on a whim I looked at my phone. I had just missed a call from my grandparents–they had left a voice mail.

Sweetie, this is Grandpa. You need to call us on the cell right away. We need to talk to you. We love you, Moms Eye. Bye.

Grandpa? He never calls. My grandma sometimes calls if it’s been more than a week since she’s talked to me and she’ll leave a message asking me to call right away. I always call and it’s always something like:

Oh, everything’s fine. I just haven’t heard from you and I wanted to make sure you are okay.

If it had been my grandmother calling, I would have blown it off for an hour or two. We were on the way home to tell BB that we had to move away from the only home he’s ever known. But something was niggling at me. My grandpa has dementia, or at least the beginnings of dementia, and something about him calling just had me worried. I told hubby I needed to call back. He put the car into reverse as I called. My grandpa picked up on the second ring.

Hi, Hijita. Grandma needs to talk to you, hold on…
Hello? Moms Eye? (she was crying)
Grandma, what’s wrong?
(sobbing, swallowing) Jeremy. He died, Hijita.
What?! When? What?! How?!
Yesterday, honey.  He had a seizure and died. Can you make it to Arkansas?
Uh, I uh…He’s dead? Oh god…I have to go…I can’t breathe right now. I have to go. I love you Grandma. I’ll call later. I have to go now.

Hubby glanced at me. I wasn’t crying I was just sitting there, stunned. “So who died?” he asked.

My brother. Jer. Jer died. Shit. Shit. Shit. My brother…RAAAAAAA!

Hubby drove us. I think I called my mother from the car, but I don’t remember. Maybe I didn’t. Probably I didn’t. We got a couple of minutes from home and Hubby looked into the backseat at BB. Then he looked at me and said “Let’s do this like a band-aid. BB, we have to move.”

Oh, my son’s face crumpled. I started to cry, he started to cry, Hubby pulled into the garage. I got a drink of water and we all went to the patio. I pulled BB into my lap and held him while Hubby explained that we had to leave our house and our town; that we’d have to move to another state. Like a zombie I told him about the great things there are out there: Six Flags, lakes, museums…

Fortunately, we had a play date set up, so we were able to have our talk about moving and then I could take him to his friend’s house. My intention had been to stay and hang out, but it occurred to me that there was a lot to be done, a lot to take care of for my brother. So Hubby drove and we dropped him off with friends.

I came home and I called people. I called lots of people. I made plans, I dealt with shit like a pro.

The next day, we dropped BB off with friends and Hubby and I went to Arkansas to take care of business.

And now we’re back, dealing with life, trying to figure out how to move us with no money. As of now, Hubby is going to leave this weekend, and BB and I will stay behind until the end of the month to pack and say goodbye.

I’m at the end of my rope, here. I’m so fucking sad about everything. I hate that everything has happened to us at once, I hate that any of this has happened at all. I hate that I have to be alone with BB and my grief for almost a month. I hate that I have to leave my network of friends who have become my family. I hate that my cat died. I hate that our trip to Disney World died. And I fucking hate that my brother died.  This is so wrong. It’s so  unfair. It’s so much more to deal with than I can handle.

But I will handle it. What I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that there will come a time where we can look at each other and say: “Remember 2012? Yeah, that happened. I’m glad it’s over.”

For now, though, I’m stuck in the middle, hoping to come through to the other side pretty damned soon. For now, all I have to say is:

Fuck you, 2012! What a lousy, piece of shit, horrible year you’re turning out to be! I can’t fucking wait until your over and I never, ever, ever have to look at you again!

I’m With Stupid

When I was about nine or ten, I had a favorite shirt that I wore everywhere. I wore it to bed, I wore it to school, I wore it to the store…Hell, I’m pretty sure I even tried to wear it to my grandparents scary, tongue-speaking, hands-laying-on, rolling on the ground with the love of Jesus church.

Even decades after it was lost or left behind somewhere, I remember exactly what it looked like; exactly what it felt like. It was positively the bestest shirt ever. Wait, not just ever. EVAH!! It was a soft blue tank top with two-inch shoulder straps. On the front was an iron-on decal of a yellow diamond with a Left Turn Arrow and the caption: “I’m With Stupid”.

I'm with stupid

Oh, my god. I can’t even explain how much I loved this shirt. When I was in the fourth grade, I wore it so often that my teacher (Mrs. What’s Her Name) asked me if I had any other clothes at home. This shirt was a warning bell to her that something wasn’t right at home–mainly because I wore it in November in Colorado. She worried for the little me that wore it like a security blanket.

I remember wearing it and walking to 7-11 with my little brother, who couldn’t yet read. I made him stand to the left as we walked, and he knew the arrow was pointing at him, but he didn’t know what the shirt said. Being the big sister that I was, I told him it said “This person is awesome!!!”. Poor kid totally believed me.

When I hit my twenties, I told a boyfriend about this shirt and we had a damn jolly good laugh over it. How funny it was that he had a girlfriend (sometimes fiance) who had parents trashy enough to let her walk around in a shirt like this! Oh! Dear, sweet, Momseye, what would have happened to you if I hadn’t come into your life to show you how fucked up you were as a kid? How adorably white trash you were!

This boyfriend (sometimes fiance) and I didn’t really mesh and we most certainly didn’t make it past the boyfriend (sometimes fiance) stage. But when BB saw this shirt at Target and just had to buy it, I thought of him and his mockery. I thought of little me and my adoration for the snarky, and I let him buy it. Well, Hubby and I agreed to let him buy it.

And he wears it proudly; A look of devious satisfaction on his face as he suckers someone  (Dad) into standing next to him. Now the message is tempered with Mickey Mouse, but the feeling of power and strength it brings to the wearer isn’t.

I can’t wait for the day that someone holds a camera and takes a picture of me with my son, his shirt proudly proclaiming that “I’m With Goofy!”

Goofy and his son

And Hubby, I absolutely love you for letting your son feel the awesome feeling of pride and power he got from “tricking” you into posing with him. You are an amazing dad. I love you–Goofy (tee-hee!)

We had a yard sale last weekend. Partially to distract me from my grief, partially to make some extra money, but mostly to just clear out a bunch of our crap so we wouldn’t have to haul it across the country. The less there is to pack, move and unpack, the better. Especially unnecessary shit.

The problem is, I couldn’t tell what was necessary and what wasn’t necessary. What’s good to keep and what isn’t? How do you decide those things? Fortunately I have a handsome husband who can talk me off the ledge and convince me that selling the china that was given to me by an ex’s mother is fine; selling our bed and couch isn’t.

So after a few days of sorting and cleaning, we were ready to sell our shit to the highest bidder.

God, I hate yard sales. I hate giving them and I hate going to them. No offense to anyone who thinks they’re great fun (I’m looking at you, dear Rust Magnet!). I hate trying to figure out how much my crap is worth, I hate trying to convince others what my crap is worth, I hate telling people that, no, my laptop is not for sale, it’s just there so we can listen to Pandora. I hate telling people that no, what you see is what you get; we don’t have any back-stock of jewelry or cell phones or fishing equipment. I hate when parents bring their toddlers and then totally ignore them. I hate the mess I have to clean up after the unsupervised toddlers leave. I hate having to smile and say I’m  having a great day when, in fact, my brother is dead and I have to move from my house and I have to sell my stuff and  I just want to sit in a bath and cry.

And don’t even get me started on the behavior of avid Yard Sale Zombies. They come tearing down the street at 45 miles per hour, then they slam on their brakes and park diagonally in the street. From here they do one of a couple of things: They survey your stuff from their car and try to decide if your stuff is worth getting out for, or they leave their car parked all screwy and (often leaving the driver side door open) come up to have a look.

But mostly, I hate the feeling of someone else judging my worth based on the crap I have to sell:

Oh, look at this! It’s a pie pan! How much? Three dollars…Okay it does have a lid and it is stoneware, but I don’t like the color. I’ll give you fifty cents for it and the set of measuring spoons. No? Okay, 75 cents for just the pie pan and lid.  No? Well then I don’t need anything.

How much do you want for the huge set of china? Fifty? I’ll give you fifteen. Hmmm…Forty and you’ll throw in the VCR? I’ll give you $10 for both.

Maybe I hate haggling so much because people go the wrong  fucking way! Say it with me: The seller goes down the buyer goes up. . .(I don’t mean that as dirty as it sounds. Sheesh. You people are animals!)

It’s so amazing to me the things that people won’t buy– the really nice stuff that is useful and quite reasonably priced, and the things people will–the rusty, warped cookie sheet for ten cents; the Pur Water Filter Pitcher with a cracked lid and mineral deposits around the spout for three dollars. What in the world do these people do with this stuff?

You're judging my by my crap, but you're the one paying for it!

In the end, we did sell almost all of our stuff and we made quite a haul on it, so I comfort myself with the thought that although I may have felt judged by the crap I had to sell, at least I was getting rid of it. There were people out there who actually paid for the crap that my family didn’t want anymore.

I win.

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I’m hearing a lot of talk on Facebook about moths.  My cat seems to be enjoying them, and so is my puppy, but as for my friends, maybe not so much. I’m hearing that they’re everywhere, that they’re dying in doorways and windowsills and making a mess. What a nuisance!

Sigh. If only this had happened a few decades ago, when I was a skinny little girl of eight. I had a grand and inspiring plan that would not only rid homes of moths, but would also make me rich! Richer than Richie Rich. Richer than Scrooge McDuck. Richer The Queen of England! It was such a beautifully simple plan that others would smack themselves on the forehead and cry:

Why didn’t I think of that??? I could be rolling around in money, but no! I didn’t have the brilliance to come up with this idea myself. Well, I guess that skinny little girl from the wrong side of the tracks deserves her wealth. She’s the one who was smart enough to come up with this.

While they’re lamenting their own lack of business acumen and prowess, moths are flying all over the place. Moths are floating in glasses of iced tea, landing on hamburgers after they come off the grill, flying right into the mouths of the children who are squealing with delight over the fluttery tickling of the moth wings against their arms. The Very Important Guests that have been invited over for a down-home cookout are snarling in disgust and the distraught hostess valiantly picks soggy moths out of the potato salad while cracking jokes and trying desperately to keep her Very Important Guests from fleeing.

And that is where I would come in–all forty pounds of my eight-year-old self, swaggering with pride. The Hostess would throw her arms around my neck and sob “Oh, thank Gawd you’re here!”

Cool detachment and competence radiating in my smile, I’d set my bag down and rummage for just the right tool for the job.  What job?

Professional Moth Catcher!

I’d have all the latest high-tech gadgetry for catching bothersome moths: lanterns that let off a moon-like glow (scientifically proven to draw moths 78% faster than a porch light!), telescoping and collapsible moth-capturing nets (whatever you do, don’t call it a butterfly net!), and of course breathable cotton or linen sacks with specially made openings that allow moths to be shoved in but keeps them from flying out.  Oh, oh! And this special powder that I could sprinkle into the sacks that would repair any damage done to their wings during the catching process. Not only was I a brilliant business woman, but I was damned considerate too.

The idea was that Hostesses who were expecting Very Important Guests would hire me to run around their backyard catching all those offensive moths, thereby saving her: job, sanity, husband’s job, charitable fundraiser, child’s birthday, etc.

After all the moths in the immediate area were captured and put into my bag, she’d give me all the soda and hot dogs I wanted. When I had my fill, she would discreetly hand me my pay, along with the name of someone who had wronged her…someone who had maybe flirted with her husband or whose child bullied her own precious angel. Someone who was expecting Very Important Guests of her own in the near future, and absolutely couldn’t have a bunch of bothersome moths flying around.

The Beast

When I was in high school, I bought my very first car. A 1977 Buick Regal. It wasn’t really what I wanted, but I let my dad convince me it would be the most kick-ass car in the school parking lot.

It was primer grey and, we were told, it was a retired stock car. It had some sort of super-duper, 8,000 horse power, 16 gauge, modified corvette engine in it. You know, to help it win stock car races.

So, since I didn’t want to let my daddy down, I let him talk me into buying it from a friend for $100. Yeah. $100. That should have been a warning sign. But my dad assured me that since I was buying it off his friend, I was getting it for a steal. Like practically free! If he were to sell it to someone else, someone not the daughter of a friend, he’d never let that car go for less than, oh, $800!

*Note: Not my actual Regal. This one is way nicer.

I hand over my wad of twenties and climb into the drivers seat of my new car. My kick-ass new car. The car that would make the boys jealous and the girls feel threatened by my extreme awesomeness. Yeah…I could drive this boat. I could drive it and make it look fabulous!

On the drive home, puffed up with the pride only a new driver and new car owner can feel, I smiled at the rumble of the engine. It was loud. It was deep. It didn’t purr, it grumbled like a lion after eating three baby gazelles. Oh hell yeah. Best. $100. Ever. EVER! I coasted to a stop at a traffic light and dangled my arm out of the window, to show how awesome and cool I was. When I let my arm out and settled into my seat, the door popped open. Of its own accord. It just opened.

Strange. I must have hit the door latch by mistake.

I pulled the door closed. Or tried to, anyway. The damn thing wouldn’t latch! The light changed.

Shit! What do I do?

I did the only thing I could do. I leaned my arm even further out of the window and tried to hug the door closed as I drove along. Not the most effective way to get the job done, but what else could I do? This was a time before cell phones, and we didn’t even have a home phone. There was nobody I could call to help me. I was on my own.

Eventually I made it home. My dad told me it was no problem and he’d have it fixed in a jiffy. Then we’d just head on up to get this baby registered.

Apparently “in a jiffy” meant: Forget it, Sweetie. This door can’t be fixed. In the end, he wired the damned thing shut and swore that it wouldn’t be a problem with the person who inspects cars as long as I promised to get it fixed right away.

Driver side door freshly rigged shut, we headed up to get it inspected.

It didn’t pass. Not at first. But my dad being the guy he was, greased the wheels a bit and viola! I had a street legal stock car! Okay, so I had to get in and out by scooting through the passenger side or going through the driver side window like Luke Duke (I was no prissy Daisy, that’s for sure!), but I had wheels. Really awesome, really loud, really fast wheels!

Really fast. That’s about all my poor car had going for it. It truly was a fast car and I loved the way it felt to drive it, even when the brakes went out. Even when the gear shift went out and I had to actually shift gears by twisting the steering column. I loved driving it even when it leaked oil.

It leaked so much oil that eventually people wouldn’t park near my parking spot in the school parking lot because there’d be such a huge puddle underneath by the end of the day. It leaked so much that I kept a case of oil and a funnel in the trunk.

My friends dubbed my car Beast and wisely refused to ride in it.

One day, my parents sent me up to the pizza joint to pick up our pizza. They knew I drove way faster than the delivery guy and they wouldn’t have to tip me. On the way home, the pizza smelled sooo good! But there was some strange smell underneath. Some weird, burning smell.

Hmm. Oh well.

I accelerated. The smell got stronger. The traffic around me fell behind me. They must be in awe of me, I figured.

When I got home, the smell was really, really really overpowering. There was no doubt. That stench was coming from my car.

Hmm. Oh well.

I put the pizza in my lap and scooted out the passenger door. My brother stood on the porch laughing.

“Hey,” he said. “You’re on fire.”

I smiled. “Yep. Record time!”

“No, idiot. Your trunk is on fire.”

I looked over my shoulder to find my beloved Beast in flames! Okay not a lot of flames, but enough for me to freak out. I screamed for my dad, while I stood there holding the pizza.

He grabbed the dog’s water bowl and threw it on the flames and got the fire put out before it consumed my whole car. It turned out that there was a short in my brake lights which caused a spark which ignited the oil in my trunk. Turns out, the people on the street weren’t in awe of me, they were moving out of the blast zone.

My dad fixed the short and from then on, I kept my case of oil in the back seat.

Images and Words

Pictures of my brother as well as some of the trip to and from. The first few are pretty low quality, but I don’t have the savvy energy  to figure out how to change that.

Me and my brother, circa 1980ish

That look was always on his face. The look that said “My sister is a freak. I can’t possibly be related to her.

My brother(middle) and childhood friends. They were like family.

These three kids and my brother were like family. It blew my mind to see them all grown up.

Jer, posing with me just before my Jr. Prom

He made fun of my poofy hair, but later confessed that I looked pretty. I felt like a princess in that dress. How embarrassing!

New Year's Eve. 1994?

I’m not positive on the year, but I think it’s about right. I always thought this picture showed his personality really well.

In the Philippines

This is the most recent image I have of my kid brother. Not a kid anymore.

Giant cross just outside Amarillo, TX

This is what most of the 12 hour trip looked like

The door to nowhere, Arkansas

Natural Dam, AR

A few hours before the viewing, I was feeling restless and cooped up, so Hubby took us for a drive to distract me. We almost got into a crash. That would have kinda rocked–to die two  hours before my brother’s funeral.

Somewhere in the Ozarks...

Not too far beyond this, we came across the house from Sling Blade. Well Hubby is convinced it’s the house. I’m not so sure. Anyway, he tried to pull into the drive and take a picture of it but I reminded him that we were smack in the middle of the Ozarks. People get shot for going onto someone else’s property out there.  And  nobody knew where we were.  I guess dying right before Jer’s funeral had lost its appeal.

So they sell homemade moonshine in mason jars out there.

Hubby decided to take me “Over the bridge” (that’s local slang for going over the bridge, into the next county to buy liquor) to get me some good bourbon. You know, to take the edge off of that whole dead brother thing. I was this close to springing for the mason jar of moonshine, but it didn’t look very sanitary. It didn’t even have a self-sealing lid with the middle that pops if the seal has been broken. These were like mayo jars. It really is a different time and place out there.

Ole Smokey Moonshine

Move over, DC and Marvel! It's the Action Bible!

My favorite thing about the Action Bible is that it wrapped up and secure so the local youth can’t sit around and read it without buying.

Frankly, I can’t believe that Hubby didn’t leave me at the hotel after seeing where I come from. What a brave and wonderful guy!

The Things That Matter

We have so much freaking stuff. This weekend we had a yard sale and got rid of a fair amount of stuff. That will make packing a bit easier, but there’s still so much stuff that we actually need. Or I think we need it. It’s hard for me to tell the difference between what we need and what we don’t right now.

I guess I can see why it is generally recommended not to make major decisions after a death. Grief blurs the lines between what matters and what doesn’t. As we sorted through a bunch of crap that we don’t use, I just felt like everything could go. I mean, Hubby and BB are alive and well. What else matters? My logical mind said “Okay, you’re not going to sell your cast iron. You have to feed your family. And obviously, we all need clothing, so clothes stay…” But it was really, really, really hard for me to discern what really matters and what doesn’t.

In the end, I suppose I had it right. We have clothes, we have food, we have each other. The rest is just frosting.

A whole lotta BB

My handsome hubby

my handsome hubby

Happy pets

awesome cookware

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