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Archive for March, 2006

Story #1: Midnight Blue, or, The Painting Project That Would Not Die.

today’s lesson, boys and girls, is that if you switch roller types halfway thru a paint job, you’ll end up with two different finishes on the wall!

(in my normal mode of a half dozen digressions and backstory, because that’s how everything all strings together in my head, you’ll get much of the rest of that particular week as well.)

so. why am i doing a painting project, one that turned out to be fairly major, the week before having a house full of people for my sister’s baby shower? well. MedSm was off on vacation that week. school vacation, yes, but also a family trip with his mom. she managed to snag a great deal to Bermuda, so that’s where they were that week. i was mildly envious of him, but also really happy for him – what a great experience. getting him there turned out to be half the fun, as well.

the way things worked out, BioMom and SD (well, barring better nicknames, that’s what they’ll go by here, i think) got a hotel room down here the night before the flight, so they wouldn’t have to get up at the ass crack of dawn. (even tho BioMom is a morning person, i still think that 4 am is pushing the boundaries of good taste.) the trip was intended to be a surprise for MedSm, at least the destination; i think he knew he was going somewhere with his mom. so i offered to either let her come by the house whenever, just show up, or to do a whole Spykids/MIB thing and take him on a secret spy mission. she thought that was a great idea, and ran with it, making up a whole set of secret missions for him for me to use.

i folded up all the missions, numbered them, and stuck them in my bag before we, MedSm and i, went to run errands in the afternoon. errands, in this case, involved getting crickets for the reptiles, and buying paint. he had energy to burn, since it was bitterly cold, and the only exercise up to that point had been his basketball game and grocery shopping. yes, food shopping can be a contact sport with him. 😉

so we get to Home Despot, and i let him go pick out paint. he zones in on the display, crawls up on the counter, and points. ‘that one. i want that one.’ and it was a fairly lovely shade of dark blue – not too dark, not too cold. ‘okay. done.’ we get the paint, i snag a painter pack (tray, brush, rollers, drop cloth) and off we go.

on the way home, i hand MedSm the first mission. he figures it out in a snap, and is jazzed. over the next hour, we do the rest of the missions, and he breaks out the atlas to interpret the map clue. ‘Bermuda?!?! i’m going to Bermuda?!?’ smart one, that kid. and he’s bouncing off the walls with excitement. we take off in my car, to the Secret Rendezvous Point. BioMom’s car is nowhere in sight when we get there. we go into the lobby, and i call up to my Secret Agent Contact, and give the password. permission is granted, and we head up for The Meeting.

i can’t even explain how funny it was when we got there. his stepdad did the whole ‘do you know the handshake?’ bit thru the door, made him slide the completed missions under the door, quizzed him, and generally made a hoot out of the whole thing. and off they went, on vacation.

took a day off to do other things, then, thinking that i had 5 full days. first night: taping off, and moving furniture. pain in the ass, but prep always takes longer than you think. second night: painting. it took longer than i thought to get deep blue to cover anemic yellow, but i figured i was about halfway done. third night: painting. and for some reason i now forget, i’d picked up a different roller. and this is where i discover that the right tool for the job makes things far speedier. however – the first round of painting came out with a matte finish, and the second round is shiny. so i have to retouch *everything*. it doesn’t suck too much, tho, as the right tool allows me to catch up on covering the walls, and get part of the way thru the trim work.

fourth night: i start finishing up the trim. now, this is cutting it pretty dang tight. but i figure, they won’t be back until midnight, so if i get cracking, it’ll be fine.

and then the phone rings.

at 10 pm.

‘hi! we’ll be there in 15 minutes!’

ohshit. she figured the time difference wrong, and gave us the wrong arrival time! the trim is done, but the paint isn’t dry – and *all the furniture is still in the middle of the room*!!

you’ve never seen anyone move so damn fast. i’m telling you – all the trim tape down, floor swept, tools picked up, furniture back in place, and bed made in under 15 minutes. and i was sweating like i’d run a marathon. but the room was clean, and MedSm had a place to sleep. of course, i snuck in after he was asleep to put up the wallpaper planets and glow in the dark stars. and it took a few more days to get the finishing touches up. but as far as i can tell, he didn’t miss a beat.

and the best part of MedSm coming back was this: he ran in the door, said ‘i haven’t gotten enough dad love! and i’m gonna fix that!’ and made a beeline for hubby, then proceeded to smother him in hugs. 🙂

so here’s how the wall over his bureau came out. i actually sort of like the light blue ceiling now. it looked horrific with the pale yellow walls, but with the rest of the blue? not so bad.

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Glass castle:: goldfish
Preserved:: lemon
Jealousy:: useless
Territory:: marking
Coffee:: grounds
Stephen:: Hawking
Slut:: tramp
Dynamic:: energy
Daybreak:: sunrise
Dew:: Mountain

well, that was a fairly pedestrian romp. no odd, unexpected associations there. 😉 seems like the hyperactive subconscious has other things to wrangle with these days.

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Warren and i don’t deal with the same monsters. mine, as long time readers probably know as well as i do, is chronic depression. i won’t even get into comparisons, which is the bigger monster – your own always seems the worst – and i can’t imagine the two are all that much alike. but being informed by the one allows compassion for the other.

and after yesterday’s visit to my psych, i’m back on the path to managing my little terror. (i picture it as an ugly little troll, jumping around and drooling and waving its warty little arms.) finally unravelled three weeks of phone tag, her on vacation, insurance hassles, and appointments to get the happy magic pills. while i know it will take a while for the chemical effect to show, there’s already the placebo effect of knowing the problem will be well in hand.

driving to work the other morning, making frantic, manic phone calls about everything, it hit me that it seems rather unbalanced – why is it, that when we are at our least capable, or at least feeling that way, that we need to do the most work to fix things? you have to get out there and be your own best advocate to get the help you need… and yet, all i wanted to do was sleep in or watch HGTV all day.

of course, there are plenty of reasons to want to do that. i’ve been feeling overwhelmed, as if i’m standing in the middle of a huge sand pit, or wave storm, lately – just… the ground is always moving. keeping house… ai yah. i feel like i’m the only one cleaning, doing dishes, laundry, sweeping, shopping, cooking, taking out the trash, cleaning the yard… and that may or may not be true, but it’s how it feels. and of course, there’s never a point where you’re done. there’s always the next thing to do.

bs once said to me (wise man) that you will always feel like you’re the one giving 110% in a marriage. it’s the nature of the beast. and he’s right, in a lot of ways that i hadn’t seen yet. once you start thinking 50/50, you’re always going to be peeved that there’s some imbalance. all you can do – all i can do – is give my everything, and be grateful for this wonderful relationship i have with my hubby. works better that way; otherwise, there’s gonna be a big throwdown about who cleaned the toilet last. 😉

anyway, about the monster… getting back on balance won’t solve the problems. there are plenty of things to worry about, and the meds won’t make them go away. the financial scenario? one huge, soul sucking cavernous pit. but i’ll be able to get back to feeling capable, and chip away at things a bit at a time.

and there are good things, too. as scary as the finances are, *it’s just money*. we’re all relatively healthy, happy, have good people in our lives, good relationships with each other, the warm weather is coming (hush, jen) – there’s a good, solid foundation there. *inhale* *exhale* keep working at it, keep working at it…

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y’know, i don’t know as i’ve written about Warren before. i may have, a long time ago, maybe in some other iteration of this place. in any event, i’ve been thinking about him a lot lately, and it feels right to tell his story now.

Warren was someone i knew in church when i was growing up. i’m Episcopalian, not that the flavor of church matters all that much, and was very active right up until i went off to college. active, in this case, means attending services nearly every week, serving as an alter person, and helping out with the coffee hour, as well as occasionally trying out the choir (bad idea) and playing music (better idea). i still consider myself an active church member, altho it’s a different church, and the frequency is much less.

anyway, Warren was a member of our congregation. he was at least a lay minister, if not fully ordained – i’ve never been clear on that part. and one of the treats of the week for me was getting to talk to him after services.

i was 12 or 14 at the time, and Warren was likely around 40. one thing i liked about him was that he was my height, so talking to him felt comfortable, less challenging, more equal. the thing i liked best, tho, was that he took me seriously. watching the scenes in my minds eye now, it seems mildly hilarious, the dignity with which i invested our interactions, how important it was to hold that styrofoam cup of coffee *just so* while talking, how i tried to nod at the right times. and i suppose i had a bit of a crush on him, but in a more paternal sort of role, if that makes sense.

but at the time, i relished the idea of being taken seriously, of being treated as an equal, that my ideas mattered, and that i could have adult conversations about big ideas with him. he was sweet, and unassuming, and never looked down to me.

and sometimes, he would vanish. for long months of time, he’d be gone. nobody ever discussed it. and he’d come back. something would be different, nothing i could put my finger on, and the conversations were sometimes strange. then eventually it would be back to normal. and then, he would vanish.

after a few years, my mom took me aside and said, ‘Warren is schizophrenic. when he disappears, it’s because he’s stopped taking his lithium.’

i spent much of one night sitting in the puddle of moonlight on my bed, rocking back and forth, crying rivers of tears for my friend. how was it fair that he had to deal with this? and how could he not stay on his medication? why did he keep damaging himself this way? it wasn’t fair, any way you looked at it.

one of the things i’m grateful for that comes with age is compassion and understanding. each year, i learn a little bit more about the people i’ve known, those who’ve raised me, and in turn a bit about myself.

it no longer surprises me that Warren would disappear, that the medication seemed less important some days that others, or that he would make the choice not to take it. i no longer think it was a choice, necessarily. and i’m far less angry with him for his actions, be they choice or not. instead, i’m holding his memory carefully, and nodding in recognition.

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updates are coming, tho, and soon.

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