Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just a Working Girl

In 1988 I was a new college grad.  And a Newly Wed.  I dreamed of "being someone."  Maybe being Mrs. Someone.  And being Mrs. Career Someone.  They were big dreams.

I remember going to see a movie.  Working Girl.  C'Mon you remember.  Meg Ryan Melanie Griffin (I have been corrected) (a little chubby?) Harrison Ford (a little skinny)  Signourney Weaver (awesomely bitchy).

And I remember thinking I could definitely do That.  I could Be Someone.

Fast forward 23 years.  I married (maybe I was married when I saw that movie - I was definitely at least engaged).  I had two awesomely perfect children.  I went to law school.  I divorced.  I chucked my law career at the Big DC Firm and moved South to be with the Most Perfect Boyfriend. 

He's away tonight on business.  And Netflix reunited me with Working Girl.  And reunited me with Me.  I remember seeing that movie in the 80's.  I remember the dreams.  And as I look around my cute beach house, with my nice stuff, with my knowledge of manners and etiquette and having all the right champagne and wine glasses, wearing the Right suits and owning ridiculous amounts of shoes, I realize something. 

I am blessed.  I have Made It.

Wait - that sounds ridiculously materialistic.  It's not the Stuff.  Believe me, I have ditched truckloads of Stuff this past year. And I am so ready to ditch more of it. NO it's not Stuff.   It's being Me.  Being the person I dreamed I could be when I was 5 and wanted to be a lawyer.  Being the survivor I dreamed of when I was 30 with two 3 year olds living in a foreign country and facing a man who never loved me.  When I was 35 and walked across the graduation stage #3 in my class, with my awesome parents and entire extended family cheering me on.

I am Meg Ryan Melanie Griffin in Working Girl.

What, tell me you can't see the resemblance?!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day One of Birth Week

Tonight I came home to something awesomely Wonderful - the Captain.**

Oh right, I forgot.  I live with him.

And then, after he fed me an awesome dinner of greek olives and hummus and cheese and fish and salad and stuff, we sat down to watch a horrible football game.... I love football, this one was horrible.  Nuf Said.

And then he said, 'OH I forgot.  I have something for you!"

And he gave me this. 


I was a little confused.  Then he said, "It's your birth week. "

And I remembered reason number 38 why I love him.

And I went to put some lotion on so he could feel how soft I am.....

Night Night.

**note "day one" wasn't exactly today but with the issues with Chessie I'm a few days behind.  But Monday was day one.  Believe me it was an awesome week.....**

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Sometimes life doesn't always go as you planned.  Sometimes life throws you curves.

Queen bee, she only cared about whether you were throwing a ball or a treat. 
Curves?  Bah.  No such thing.

Queen Bee was my mother's day present in May of 1999.  She came at the end of my first year of law school.

We spent the summer together, me loving my newest baby, her learning to be a part of a family.

She was born in a drought - I remember when it finally rained, I had to take her out under an umbrella - she would NOT go outside.


Queen Bee was my baby and our family's rock through many tough years.


When we divorced, Queen Bee provided the stability to the children, changing houses with the kids to give them the support they needed.


When the kids went to college, she was my constant friend and companion, keeping me occupied and giving me the strength I needed to carry on.


When I finally made the move south, the was right there with me through all 1070 miles.  She was a little worse for wear, and I had a feeling she was just not right, but yet she kept on.


Last week, I couldn't ignore it any more.  We went to the vet.  At first, it was just arthritis.  But tests revealed something much more sinister - Cancer.

We took her home, not sure how many days she had left.  We decided to bring her home and make her last days great. 

We took her to the beach.  We fed her pasta and steak and mint chocolate chip ice cream.

She said no thanks to the rum.

But tonight, after a gigantic dinner of cheese and crackers and tomatos and pasta and hummus, she went to her bed. 

She didn't look right.

I took her outside, where she collapsed.

We called the vet who met us at the clinic.  Where he confirmed her spleen had ruptured and it was time to say goodbye.

For anyone who has loved a pet, you know the pain of "doing what's best."  I couldn't let her suffer another minute and I let her go.

As I sit here in tears, remembering the best dog of all time, I remember what made her great. 

I remember how she taught herself to open the pantry so that she would never go hungry, even if it meant eating Lipton Onion Soup from a dry pouch for the few hours she was left home alone.

I remember how she went sledding with us in the winter, pulling the kids down the street.

I remember how she curled up with me in my bed when I was alone.
I remember the patient posing for for hundreds of photos - first and last day of school particularly.
I remember your tolerance as we dressed you as "SuperDog" and in other crazy costumes.



I remember how she ate 2 pounds of Godiva chocolate that I unwittingly wrapped and put beneath the tree, not thinking about her penchant for chocolate.  Yes, she survived.

I remember how she sat on the small bank in my backyard on the edge of the line between my house and Pop's next door (before the Ex lived there) and would watch for him.  The minute he passed by the back door, she went nuts until he came over to play.

I remember how much she LOVED her grandparents and quickly learned that when Grandpa took out his cigarettes it meant, "Time to go OUTSIDE!"

I remember how she accepted Stinky Butt from the moment we brought her home.

I remember how she filled up the lonely space inside me when I was alone.

Goodnight Chessie.  I hope you find the land of neverending waves and bottomless bowls of steak.

Thanks for delivering me safely to Florida and the Captain.  You are the best friend and best dog ever.  Always.











Friday, September 2, 2011

About Living with the Captain

Some of you have commented or asked if I am living with the Captain.

Well yes, yes I am.  And No, no I'm not. 

What?

The Captain has kept a place of his own, but really, we are living together.  We didn't plan it that way, but it just sort of happened when plans started changing and lives started changing and houses sold but then they didn't and buying became renting.  His "place" is his boat - which he has lived on in the past and loves to do, but I am not ready to live on a boat.  He lives on it now and then and figures when my kids come home, he may disappear for a couple days.  Or maybe not.  But he has that option, because he is amazingly thoughtful and careful in his life.

Living with the Captain is an amazing experience.  Last weekend, I chased the Hurricane to Charleston to visit Daughter at school and trade cars with her.  While we were going to the beach and shopping and eating out and dancing and generally enjoying ourselves, the Captain did the following, (without being asked):
  • Installed a shelf in the guest bath
  • Installed a new curtain rod in the guest bath
  • Installed a dimmer switch in our bathroom
  • Fixed the hinges on the fence so that Queen Bee can't let herself out
  • installed my stereo system and surround sound speakers
  • built stands for the 4 Surround Sound Speakers
  • Unpacked all the TV/Stereo stuff, got the whole internet/tv/netflix thing working and put all the boxes away so that the living/family room almost looks like a room and not a college dorm
  • installed under the counter lights in the kitchen near the stove and cooking areas
  • Fixed the wi-fi in the house
  • Did laundry
  • went shopping
  • Did a dozen other things I have forgotten at the moment.
The Captain is thoughtful, caring and utterly amazing.

And when I called him on my way home to inform him that I had been "delayed"?  He worried about the car - I said, "No, um, I hit a little traffic.  Then I stopped to get gas....across the street from the outlets and I had to go buy shoes and clothes and a new Kate Spade purse...."  He laughed and said, "I can't wait to see everything."  And he meant it.  When I got home and showed him my new Cole Haan shoes that I practically stole from the outlet?  ($1000 of shoes for $200?  Yes I did!!), his response was, "Those are beautiful!  Try them on for me!"  Not kidding.

Yes, I love living with the Captain. 

And no, I don't have pictures of the shoes.  Yet.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

At Last! I have ARRIVED

The rooms were all empty...it should have been satisfying after 8 weeks of packing.  After 2 years of planning.  After Eons of dreaming.  But instead, it was just sadly devastating.


The kids and I spent the last night on air mattresses, telling stories, crying, laughing, being together.  Early the next day, Daughter headed out early for work.  I gathered the last of my belongings, said goodbye to Stinky Butt....

Hells yes that's me crying my eyes out and Son trying to make me forget.  Ironically, this is in Ex's house....next door....



And then, the hardest thing I've had to do in a long time.  I had to drive away.  With Son standing in the driveway.  Crying along with me....





 I had made the drive south on 95 before.  I stopped in SC overnight, having cried my way through 3 1/2 states.  I awoke the next morning and finally crossed a new border I had never crossed by car.  And I was tear free!!!



 Queen Bee slept through it all....


 I began to see sunrises and opportunities I hadn't seen before...



And before I knew it - I almost missed it - My Welcome Home Sign!!!




BUT WAIT what's this??!!  Found in the "Welcome Center"  You are kidding right?  Because I am driving 600 miles right back North if you are serious!!!!!!



After 2 days and 1000 miles, I was happy when the miles left to go equaled my MPH....



No More Tears.  We are almost home!!!  (What?  Driving and taking photos?  Hey I'm not texting....)


Yeah, that's my exit...



Laughing at myself.  "WHAT  They give away POOLS here?  Love it!!  .....oh wait they mean like billiards....



I recognize this sign from the rental photos I saw on line!!
What, you didn't know I rented this without actually seeing it in person?!
Yes I trust the Captain THAT MUCH.  HE picked it out...


Queen Bee Sniffs the new turf....





No more tears.  Ahhhh yes, this is what the moving, the upheaval, the packing, the tossing, the trashing, the selling, the crying, the broken nails, bruised limbs, sleepless nights, THIS is what life is all about.....



Queen Bee Agrees...


OK oK so we didn't have any furniture yet.  We had love.  And the Captain loves my dog.  OUR dog....




WELCOME TO MY NEW HOME EVERYONE

HERE, I AM NEXT DOOR TO PARADISE......

STAY TUNED.....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

That Damn New Name

I know I have been talking about renaming the blog.  The problem is my life is currently like a deck of cards that someone has tossed into the air.

Oh right that "someone" would be me.

I am currently living in one state and "working" in another state that is 1000 miles away.

My house has been on the market over 2 months and NO OFFERS.  So I am not going to sell it.  I have called a rental agency.

I do not have any where to live in my new state (Florida) AND I have promised to be there - at my desk - by August 8.

I have packed 3.7 boxes out of about 200....

Sooooo I'm facing homelessness AND/OR paying two rents/mortgages.  And my stuff might be on the curb.

I know I know "hire it done" do you have any idea what that costs?  Oh - no they are NOT paying relocation expenses.  No one does that in this economy.  Although my local friends have graciously offered to come pack boxes for the price of a few beers.  That's good labor!

Fun stuff.

Oh right and I have 2 Spanish girls (12 + 14) living with me for a couple weeks.  They speak almost no English although they understand it pretty well.  Yes I speak Spanish, but they are here to learn English.  Which they decidedly do NOT want to do.  They want to go shopping and see the sights in DC.  Did I mention I have a job?  they are adorable and sweet and kind.  I just wish they would give English an effort.  My neighborhood is FULL of 12-14 year old girls who have offered to come over.  We are starting that process TODAY.  One at a time.

SOOOO blogging is not going to happen until sometime in the future when I am "settled."

Settled?!  HAHA that is hilarious.

I am beginning to wonder about this decision.

Except I miss the Captain SOO much and am tired of living 1000 miles away from him.  AND I hate the cold and do NOT want to be here for another winter.

Otherwise?  This moving idea was INSANE....

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Time To ReName The Blog!

OK OK I know this is way overdue.  Probably somewhere I said something about "June 1."  HA  That was funny.

What have I been doing?  OHHHH changed jobs, gave the house a 2nd overhaul, picked my daughter up from Italy, went down to Ft. Lauderdale twice in a month, packing, organizing, LEFT MY JOB AT MY FIRM where I had been for 9 years.  That was my first true career job.  And it was soooo hard to leave.  My last week was epic.  I still can't believe I have left.

SO on to the naming thing.  There have been some funny/cute/thoughtful/off the wall suggestions (in no particular order):
  • High Heels to Flip Flops (Suz)
  • 1000 Miles from my Ex (Yogurt)
  • Tin Cup Chalice (Cristy)
  • Behind Door #2 (Hula Girl)
  • As Far Away From the Ex as I can Get (Jenn)
  • Moved Not Murdered (Shirley)
  • Many States Away From My Ex (ChiTown Girl)
  • Far Away From that Assbag (Chitown Girl)
  • See Ya, Sucka! (Chitown Girl)
  • Why Didn't I do This Sooner? (ChiTown Girl)
  • Life with the Captain (ChiTown Girl)
  • Finally Free In Florida (ChiTown Girl)

And I have thought of a few of my own:
  • She Sailed Away
  • SouthBound
  • New Latitude, New Attitude
  • Come Sail Away
  • Legally Blonde in Flip Flops
  • EX Next Door To My Ex
  • Charting a New Course
As much as I love some of the blog titles "kissing off" the Ex, I think this next phase of my life is about me, not him.  So I will pass on those titles (although Moved Not Murdered might be a step away and therefore a possibility....)

I need to remember how to set up a poll on the side of the blog.  Considering my pathetic blogging of late (I picked up 24 new cases in my first two days on the new job - I'm a little busy!!!!!), I will wait until July to have the voting run.  For now, Please Drop a Comment and Vote for a New Blog Name! (Or leave your own thoughts).



Friday, May 27, 2011

Moving On....

Word is out.  I'm moving.

What's that you say, you know my house is for sale?

No, I'm seriously moving on.

To Florida!  YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT!

I am so excited.  Scared.  Happy.  Eager.  A bit anxious.

I have a new job in Florida working "in-house" which means no more billable hours, no more marketingno more cool shoes because I can't afford them  - oh well.

Yes, I am moving closer to the Captain.  A.  Lot.  Closer.  We are not sure yet if we are sharing a roof.  But we are definitely going to be in the same town.  Imagine.  Dinner together.  Perhaps Breakfasts together.  Working out together.  Maybe catching a movie.  Doing chores.  Gardening.  Trips to Home Depot. 

I seriously cannot wait.

I told BossMan yesterday that I am leaving.  It was really really hard to do.  I do love my Big DC Firm.  I love my friends here (9 years worth!).  I have a great firm and my practice group is one of the best in the country in our practice area.  I have a LOT of friends here.  And it will be hard to leave.

They have tried to woo me back.  But they just can't compete with the CAPTAIN!

I am not moving until the end of July/beginning of August.  I still have a house to sell.  I have kids coming from Spain in July.  But I am leaving my Firm June 10, flying to Ft. Lauderdale June 10, picking up my new laptop and new blackberry and a pile of cases June 13, and flying back to MD June 15 where I will "work from home" until late July.  Sweet deal.

It's an adventure to be sure.  It's a lot of change all at once, but changes I have been contemplating for years.  I think it's the right thing, the right opportunity, and I'm excited!  When I'm not trembling. 

And? My Firm offered me a safety net - in writing - that if it doesn't work out, I can come "home."  I told you it's an awesome place that will be hard to leave.

But coming home from work and looking out on the water, hold the Captain's hand and staring out at the sunset?  Priceless 

Yes the "Change the title of the Blog" contest is still on - so now this gives you more ideas, right?  You still have until June 1 to suggest titles!!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Hilarious Father and GermEnglish (aka Schnibble Deutsch)

Way before I came along, Mom and Dad and the first 3 kids lived in Germany.  Dad was a paid killer.

What?? He always tells people he was a Paid Killer!  Ok OK He was in the Army.  (I told you he's Hilarious!).   He was in "field artillery" whatever that means besides now he's deaf as a stone.

Dad was making BIG BUCKS back then - just like those horribly overpaid military people do now - probably a couple hundred dollars a month.  A Month.  With three kids to feed.  Yeah, real big bucks. 

Mom and Dad were moving out of their luxury apartment that was slightly bigger than a shoe box.  Apparently in those days, the landlords came by and painted before you left and then did an inspection.  These high-priced painters took time to tape everything out and only paint what should be painted slapped the paint on, including painting the lock on the catch on the door shut so that the lock wouldn't pop out.  Dad didn't want to chip it out himself for fear he would make a mess and get charged for damage, so he called the German version of the Building Super.

Now Dad didn't exactly speak German.  Dad communicates in a lot of languages, but, for example, despite growing up in a French speaking household, he failed French.  He has his own way of "speaking" languages.

Mom's in the kitchen, half way into the stove wiping it out (no self cleaning ovens in the 50's!)  She's real tall - 5'2" -  and weighed about 99 pounds, so she pretty much was sitting in the oven scrubbing it out.  The door at issue was some kind of fancy folding door between the enormous (ha-ha) galley kitchen and the dining area.  Unlike Dad, Mom has the gift of actually speaking a few foreign languages.  She can't understand a word you say when you answer her, but she can formulate the most perfect, grammatical sentences in Spanish, German and French.  Don't worry, her English is fluent both ways.

So Mom's sitting in the oven and the German version of Tim the Tool Man Taylor walks in.  Dad points to the door and demonstrates the problem.  Mr. German Tim inspects the door, turns the handle a few times, shrugs his shoulders, and looks at Dad.  Dad says to the man, in Dad's version of perfect German, "De klinckin wit da hammar, ya?!" and makes a hand motion like he's smacking the door with a hammer.

Mom is laughing so hard at what she has long ago dubbed Dad's Schnibble Deutsch (like Spanglish but funnier), she falls completely into the oven.

Mr. German Tim gets a Big Smile on his face and responds, "Ya!  Ya!"

WHAM, de klinckin wit de hammar and the Lock is Free.  No paint chipped.  No docking Dad's meager salary.  Whew...

Good thing Dad picked up a little German in the TWO YEARS he lived there.

What?  That wasn't German?  How about this:
Mom came home from errands one day (in Germany) and Dad, who was supposed to be home, was gone.  Their housekeeper was there so Mom took a chance and asked her if she knew where Dad was.  Dad spoke no German, Fraulien Maria Spoke No English, but what the heck.  And Maria tells mom (in German)  with confidence, "He's at the bank." 

Dad gets home and mom says, "What did you tell Maria before you left?"
Dad says, "I told her I was going to the bank."
"No," says Mom, "What exactly did you SAY?"
Dad says, "Ish been goin to da bankin"

Cue peals of laughter from Mom ....

Or the time when Captain Dad had a little problem on Base.  Seems the boys got a little rowdy one night and knocked the drinking fountain around and it broke.  Dad had two Lieutenants who worked for him who spoke pretty decent German.  But when the German Workman came, he "spoke" with Dad. 

Dad tells the German Workman: "Das bubbler esh kaput."
German Workman:  "Ya yah"  and fixes the water fountain.
As the German Workman leaves, he tells the Lieutenants (in German) (out of earshot of Captain Dad), "From now on when I come, I would like to speak with Captain Dad - he's the only one who speaks German."

Dad hears roars of laughter from the outer office.

Dad says "what's so funny?"  Lieutenants tell him what German Workman said about wanting to speak with dad. 
Still laughing they said, "No offense Captain Dad, but you don't speak German!!!"

He's a character...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Problem with Working in the City

Last night I stayed up way too late playing Angry Birds, playing Shark Attack, drafting a brief.  Which means less than 3 hours sleep.  Which means I am totally exhausted by 2pm.

I finished Facebooking, surfing the net, blogging, drafting the brief at work around 2 and was waiting for comments so I  decided to walk around the block to the local drug store and get some comfort food some health food some makeup.  The weatherman said we were going to have horrible terrible storms including hail and dangerous flood-warning rain, which meant it was gorgeous and sunny outside.  Not kidding.

The walk over wasn't bad - it's a couple blocks, just the right amount to wake me up a little so that I could go back to blogging, facebooking, drafting the brief.

The walk home, however, was dreadful.

There are 37.5 restaurants between my office and the drug store.  All crammed on two blocks!  Really!  Ok There are only 3 plus a coffee shop plus Frozen Yogurt plus a deadly Cupcake shop that I have miraculously managed to avoid for months.  And no that is all true, not kidding.  Anyway, on my way back from the drug store, I have to walk right through the lovely outdoor cafe of the Mexican restaurant where damned tourists happy-go-lucky, carefree individuals are sitting outside, drinking giant margaritas!  I ask you, where is the Justice?  How can they just sit there and torment me?

I check my watch - it's 2:37 p.m. - too late for lunch which I already had (if Lean Cuisine counts?  Sadly it does).  It's too early for happy hour and plus I have more Facebooking to do a brief to finish, and I have a game tonight.

I realize then and there that I must get out of this city.  The stress is killing me.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Quilt

When my oldest brother married his sweetheart 34 years ago my Aunt J & cousin LF came up with a brilliant idea.  (OK I'm not sure who thought of it and I think cousin LF did the first few?!)  A few months before the wedding, each family member on the Groom's side received some cloth squares in the mail with instructions to 1) sign your name in cursive on the square - legibly please - and return to Cousin/Aunt and 2) DON'T MENTION THIS TO THE GROOM/BRIDE.

On the eve of the wedding, Aunt & family showed up from far away in middle America with The Wedding Gift:  a beautiful handmade quilt with all the signatures of the family embroidered (quilted?  Hell IDK.  We've already established I am NOT craft-abled!).  Included in the quilting was also the wedding day and the place.  A priceless gift.  We all cried.

Thus the tradition began of The Wedding Quilt.

Again the benefits of being the Baby - by the time my wedding rolled around, it was no longer a surprise, so I got to choose my colors.  And no, it wasn't Pink.  My all time favorite color is still blue.

But I had to wonder - Grandma and Pop had long since passed - would they be missing on my quilt?

Nooooo, they would not be missing.  My Aunt thought ahead and had them sign enough squares for all of us.  See?  There they are!!!



 Even though I knew it was coming, I still was beside myself when it actually arrived.  It is a work of art.



No, we never actually used the quilt - but we painstakingly put it on the bed every morning and folded it up every night and put it on the quilt rack.

Until the Divorce.  Who wants a Wedding Quilt with his name on it??!!

I mentioned this once and JO said, "I bet a certain sister-in-law of mine could fix that." 

On one of DF's trips through town, I mentioned it to him.  He had my kids sign squares (and my new sister-in-law who replaced a certain not-very-well-liked SIL also signed one) and took the quilt and the squares home to his bride.

I had kind of forgotten about it - I think it might have been last year? 

On his latest trip up north, DF said, "Hey come out the car - I have to get something."

And there it was - THE QUILT.

Except now?  My kids are on the quilt - with the thread and the stitching and the signature sizes exactly matching those in the same row (the miracle of computers or so DF tells me).




AND my "new" SIL is also on the quilt, replacing the rather nasty previous name.



I was so happy and so sad and so overcome, all at the same time.  I truly have an amazing, loving and supportive family - yes and then I cried.


Sadly, my Aunt and my Cousin are no longer with us, but I think they would approve of the alterations.  The Quilt is back on my bed, bringing joy to my every day, just as they intended.  And their signatures, below.




And JO I still love the message you left on my quilt!!  (I can't figure out how to turn the photo)




I also love the handprint of the niece who was too young sign. 



And somehow, Stinky Butt has figured out that THIS Quilt is not to be jumped on or burrowed under!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Other Side of a Year

It seems like just yesterday we were saying goodbye.

Somehow I find myself back home with two kids and Chaos (not complaining!) and wondering where the year has gone.

Some striking changes: 

  • Son's maturity.  Suddenly he is putting others first.  On his first full day home, he mowed both lawns (without being asked) and completed numerous other tasks.  His attention to detail and initiative is amazing.  He has always been good about helping around the house, but this was pretty amazing.
  • Daughter's Diligence:  She has always been pretty organized - when she was about 7 she handed me a list one month before her birthday of people to invite, games to play, and food to serve.  But she has demonstrated a diligence to her school work and building her resume that I have never before witnessed.  Her grade point average is astounding to say the least, never mind the volunteering at the Humane Society and other volunteer activities.
  • Twin Love:  I wondered how they would be separated by many miles and many hours.  When they lived home, Son was a clinger, Daughter a Loner.  Turns out they skyped/texted/called each other at least daily.  When one was in crisis, the immediate call was to the Other.  I had hoped this day would come - they sometimes did it in high school, but not often.  I am thrilled they truly love and care about each other so much.  I figured they had it in them, but I'm so happy to see it proved out.
  • Children as Friends:  This is a tough one - I have always enjoyed doing activities with them, but as the parent you have to maintain the "responsible, authority figure."  The fact is, they've been away at school for a year, making decisions, staying out all night, "probably" doing slightly unlawful things.  They are not going to return home to the midnight curfew and choir boy lifestyle (ha ha I know they weren't choir boys in high school, but honestly they were pretty close).  I am trying to walk that balance of the new reality with "but you're in my house now."  This conflict of The College Student Returns Home is the Number One thing I've always heard college kids AND parents complain about - so far it is working for us - and I am LOVING hanging out with them even more!
Big changes are on the horizon, but I still can't share in the public forum yet.  Next year is sure to be rather momentous for all of us.  I can only hope that a year from now, I am again celebrating our strong bonds and our accomplishments!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Just When You Thought He Couldn't Make Me Mad Anymore....

I think it's been a while since I actually posted about the Ex.  Pretty much I just think it's funny that he lives next door and tries to ignore me.  I can be hard to ignore.  Especially when I don't want to be ignored.

But the latest one really got me.

I am moving.  Or trying to move.  House cleaned up, For Sale sign out front.  C'mon offer!!!

Part of the moving process is ditching a lot of stuff I don't want any more.

Now, you might find this a little weird, but our divorce agreement gives each other the "right of first refusal" on personal property.  So about a month ago, I called Ex and said, "Pursuant to our divorce agreement, I am calling you to give notice that I am selling the house and selling certain furniture.  If you want anything, please come over and review it."  (yes I did say pursuant.  no I didn't.  Yes I did.  really.  OK I'm a lawyer.  I like the word Pursuant).

He was quick to hop on what he thought was the "free stuff" bus.

I won't bore you with the truly boring blow-by-blow walk-through of the house where he showed up with a tape measure, pen and pencil, but suffice it to say he wanted anything he thought he could get his hands on.

I decided to "give" him the pool table, because we bought that for the kids.  ("give" because he has to pay to move it).  I decided to give him all the unwanted lawn tools in the shed - old tractor, trailer, etc - because originally the agreement said he got outside stuff and I got inside stuff, but we each left each other a few things.  (I had to take back some of the things he tried to remove that weren't part of the items marked "giving away" - seriously dude you have a compressor built in to your house with a pump and long hose that runs to your garage - why do you want my little portable compressed air holder that retails for $10 and is a total *&^%bitch to fill at the gas station where I pay 75 cents for 2 minutes?)

But when it came to the bedroom furniture - solid cherry and solid mahogany, quality stuff - I drew the line.  I gave him a price (about 1/4 of retail). 

He waited a few weeks, then drafted this "woe is me" email about how it "just isn't right" that he should have to pay me for something he already bought.  Then he went on to imply that anything I sell on ebay or wherever, he should get 1/2 the proceeds.

Why yes my head did spin around and I did spit fire.

Then I drafted a response email.

I took out all the (good) snarky stuff.  And left just the facts:

1) For our property agreement, Ex, Mr. Anal, drafted a thorough spreadsheet of EVERY item in the house and gave EVERY item a value - most of them "full value" not depreciated;
2) Ex did item #1 above because I was getting most of the items in the house and he needed to "up" my side of the spreadsheet;
3) Even at inflated values for personal property, Ex's 1/2 of the pot was $160,000 more than mine (he took his 401K, I took the house, basically, was how it went down);
4) At the mediation, the lawyer asked ME, not HIM if I was ok with the "uneven" distribution of assets;
5) I have never complained about the "uneven" distribution of assets - I viewed it as "equitable" because I didn't have to move and there is a value in that;
6) When we signed the agreement, I "purchased" his 1/2 of all the personal property and "sold" him my 1/2 of the 401K.

I refrained from telling him he could have the bedroom furniture if I could have a distribution from his 401K.
I refrained from telling him that he could pay to me the value HE put on the spreadsheet if he didn't like my "Craigs' List" prices which were thousands lower.
I removed the part about one of us not whining or complaining and the other one needing to get over his fine self.

He hasn't spoken to me since.  (OK I know he doesn't speak to me anyway.  But he has been even more silent.  What you can't get "more silent"?  Yeah, you can.  Trust me).

Anyway, my point is, 4 years have passed and I have moved on with my life - now quite literally - and I foolishly thought that I had heard the last of, "Gee the property settlement wasn't fair and now you have to give me more stuff."

I refrained from saying, "I know the property settlement wasn't fair - can I please have $160,000??!!!"

Monday, May 16, 2011

When Chaos = Peace

Are you sick of hearing about my kids yet?

too bad

The other night I was surrounded by total chaos. 

It started when my cousin DF, who travels for his job, said he'd be in my area.  I love it when he can stop by, so of course I said YES. 

Then it turned out Daughter would be home.  YEAH

Then it turned out Daughter invited a couple friends to sleep over because they were going to get up Friday and drive to UDel to visit another friend.  Of course I said YES!
 
Then Daughter informed me her college friend/roommate and her sister would be in town and gee could they come by.  And sleep over.  YES!

Daughter volunteered to make dinner.  Daughter has had a few kitchen disasters in the past, but she keeps trying.  I left her with my recipe for Chicken Marsala (her favorite) which isn't totally hard but not exactly easy.  I wrote out three or four additional tidbits and tips for getting it right.  And said a prayer.  And left her an easy baked ziti recipe for her veggie friends.  I left her the credit card to go grocery shopping and asked her to make up every bed she could find. 

And I went to work.

I called at 1pm to see how things were going - friends were supposed to start coming around 3. 

She was asleep.  Napping.  Hadn't done a thing yet.  KIDS!

I got home at 6, dinner was to be at 7.  Various kids were around, helping to set the table.  Dinner was done and in the fridge waiting for a warm up.  Then she had to disappear to the metro to get yet another child.

As we called everyone to dinner, SON showed up from college!!!!  A few hours early!!  YES!!!  There was tackling on the front lawn and hoots and hollers.  And a big hug for Mama.

Then Tor Tor, high school buddy, showed up (angry with me about the For Sale sign, another story).  YES!

Not sure how many we ended up with.  The first dinner shift was 10.  Stragglers came and went all night.

After dinner, DF surprised me with my remade wedding quilt (that needs a post all its own!!)  Yes of course I cried.  duh.

Son played the piano and kids attempted to swing dance before heading to the basement for scary movies.

At about 11pm DF and I took on two of the kids in a mean game of monopoly.  All kinds of crazy rules from our childhoods - but we still managed to lose!

YES IT WAS TOTAL CHAOS - AND MY HEART FELT SUCH PEACE!!!


At 1pm, I finally had to say goodnight to DF and sadly go to BED!

5:30 am came early.  Too early.  So I went back to bed until 6 which meant scrambling to get out the door. 

It was all so worth it.  I discovered yet another kid in yet another bed that I didn't know was sleeping over.  And smiled.

The house was reasonably in tact when I got home Friday night.  And deathly quiet. Yuck.

I am so looking forward to this summer!!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

You Live WHERE?

I don't know about the rest of the country, but the east coast has some weird towns.  OK maybe the towns aren't weird, but the names are.  And it makes you wonder about the people who decide to live there.

Here are but a few examples of real towns I have been to ...

Belchertown.  Is their town motto "Got Gas?"

Hohokus.  It's like someone sneezed when they were saying hocus pokus. 

Mineral.  I think it's located between "animal" and "vegetable."

Lizard Lick.  OK I haven't really been here but it's in North Carolina and I can't believe anyone lives there...

Oh yes, I have discovered there are websites devoted to the bizarre names we give our towns.

But my personal fav? And YES I have been there....

Bumpass.

who the hell would voluntarily live in Bumpass?

Got any strange town names you've visited recently??

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

More From My Hilarious Father (MHF) & Real Estate

Some of you may recall my previous post from My Hilarious Father.  Let me tell you, humor like his isn't a "just once" experience.  He has authorized me to share a few of his best stories with you.

Today's installment of MHF (My Hilarious Father) shares one of his many real estate experiences.

Dad was a realtor in a big small town in New England for oh...50 years?  He was well-known for the ethics class and real estate licensing classes he taught around the state and at the State University (you know, the Men's Basketball NCAA Championship school...a-hem..) I digress...

One day he did what a layman would say is "sold" a property - that is to say, his client made an offer that was to be accepted by the seller (but money had not yet changed hands.  Dad says a sale isn't a sale until title passes and money changes hands, but that's another story for another day).  But first the buyer wanted "his friend the lawyer" to look it over.  My Dad said, "Sure, why not."  My Dad, The Most Ethical Person Ever, would never give legal advice nor draft a contract without having a client give it to a lawyer, despite the fact that the lawyers always told him that Dad's contracts were better than theirs. 

So Buyer comes back to Dad and says, "My lawyer says I've offered too much."

My Dad calmly responded, "Gee that's interesting.  Mind if I call him myself?"

So Dad Calls Lawyer.

DAD:  Hey Lawyer, I'm a little hurt.

LAWYER:  Huh?

DAD:  You know I teach Real Estate Licensing classes, right?

LAWYER:  Yeah, I've heard you're the best and everyone loves your classes.

DAD:  Well, I'm a little hurt that when you got your Real Estate License you went to someone else's class.  Mind if I ask where you went?

LAWYER:  Uh.  Well, I don't have a Real Estate License.

DAD:  You Don't?  But my Buyer told me you gave him advice about the property and said he was offering too much?

LAWYER:  Oh.  Yeah. Wow.  Sorry.  I'll never do that again....


Dadism of the day, "Don't tell me how to practice Real Estate, and I won't tell you how to practice law."  (insert your own profession into "Real Estate").

Monday, May 2, 2011

Blog Renaming Contest

I'm planning on moving.

I say "planning" because I don't have a buyer for my house yet.  Technically it's not officially on the market (although a family did look at it).

And many of my faithful readers (at last count...2?  3?) have suggested I need to rename the blog.

Awesome!

I am officially having a "Rename the Blog" contest.  Suggestions are open until June 1.  At that time I'll post a list of my favs and then have you vote!

Prizes?  Prize you ask?  How about the Honor of my blog carrying your creative brilliance forever more?  What's that you say?  I am supposed to pay you for the Intellectual Property you created for me in renaming my blog?

Jeez there are too many lawyers hanging around this place....

PRIZE:  A surprise fitting the winner of the contest.  Yeah - a personalize prize.  How about that??!!

Let's get thinking readers!

Friday, April 29, 2011

WAIT A FRICKIN' MINUTE wasn't that yesterday?

On my blog sidebar, do you see a photo of Son and Daughter together - first day of college?

Monday I am bringing Daughter home.  She is a sophomore now.

How the hell did that happen?

Where did the year go?

I'm just hoping it hurts a little bit less when they leave me again in the fall.

Because last fall?  Sucked.

I still miss them every single day.  I still can't get used to the quiet in the house at night.  I still walk by their rooms and wish they were in them, even if they were fighting.

I might even miss the dirty dishes in the sink.  Wait.  Nope.

1 week and all will be right with the world.  For a little while.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A New Kind of Pain

When they were 2 weeks old and the doctor gave them their first shots, my heart broke to hear them scream, but I knew it was ultimately "good" for them.  I gave them Tylenol, held them close, and soothed them until the tears stopped.

When they first started toddling and fell down and skinned a knee or bumped their head, my heart hurt a little at their pain, but I knew they were learning and growing in a necessary way.  I kissed the boo-boo and cheered their new accomplishment until they clapped instead of cried.

When Son ran down the slide at 3 years old and broke his femur and spent a month in a hospital in Barcelona, I thought my heart would never recover.  Every pain he felt, I felt.  Every x-ray, every bad hospital meal, every shot, tore at my heart.  I wanted to be the one with the broken leg.  I held him, brought him games and books, and with the huge loving support of family, we made sure he had adult family attention 24/7. 

When they came home from school crying because So-And-So said they were ugly/stupid/dumb/boring and wouldn't play with them, my heart broke at their pain.  I held them and talked to them about how sometimes people say things that aren't nice.  I helped them learn to cope with the rejection and to learn from it so that they could be nice to others and not hurt others like they were hurting.

Through the stitches, the illnesses, the wisdom teeth, the rejections, the braces, the shots, the bumps and bruises, my heart broke a little each time they were hurt.  Usually I could gather them up in my arms, sooth away the pain, and chalk it up to a learning experience.

Little did I know that the first broken heart would break my heart almost in two.

When Daughter called Sunday night in tears over her recent breakup, I felt paralyzed.  She was 550 miles away, it was Sunday night, I had to work the next day, I'd be down there in a week (as previously planned) to bring her home for the summer.

None of that mattered.

What mattered was my Daughter was sobbing, broken-hearted, and alone.  550 long miles away.  And I couldn't get there.

And my heart broke.

I tried to think of the right things to say - to acknowledge the pain, to acknowledge the Boy's mistake, to lift her up reminding her what a FABULOUS person she is, and to tell her that yes, it sucks today, but tomorrow will be a little better.  And the next day a little better than that one.

And when she said, "But what do I DO mom?  How do I handle this?  I wish you could be here right now."  My heart stopped for a second.  I wanted to hop a plane, gather her in my arms, and sooth her aching heart.  Then I remembered, this is part of her growng up.  Just like the skinned knees and the braces.  I congratulated her on her maturity at seeing the breakup for what it was.  I reminded her she's loved beyond all belief.  I told her I'd be there in a week and it would all be good.  I suggested she surround herself with friends, keep busy, eat healthy, and try not to think about him every 37 seconds.

Then I hung up the phone and cried like a baby.  For my baby.

Monday, I sent her flowers reminding her that I love her Bunches and Bunches.

Who knew her heart break would break mine, too?

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Hilarious Father and Dipsticks

My Dad is the most awesome man in my life.  He always has been, always will be.  (Sorry Captain).

My Dad is brilliant in a way that so many people lack.  Aside from being intellectually intelligent, my Dad sees things in a way few others do.

I don't know if any of you remember the comedian George Carlin.  He pointed out things like, "Jumbo Shrimp" and "non-stop flight" [I'd kind of like it to stop somewhere, wouldn't you?!]

My Dad loved George Carlin because my Dad, the most observant man ever, notices things like that all the time.

My Dad has been retired now for 2 years (we dragged him, kicking and screaming, from the office when he was 78.  That's not a typo).

As a child I remember his occasional letters to the Editor with his observations.  He lives in a big small town - or is it a small big town?  Any way, there are a lot of people population wise but everyone seems to know everyone, or at least they know my Dad.  And my Dad knows everyone, like the guy who runs the editorial page of the local paper - who is also the organist at my Dad's church.  Now that Dad's retired, he writes letters to the Editor with a vengence.

This one is my personal all-time favorite:  (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MY DAD):
Editor:
We're wondering why we still rely on foreign oil and we're running low.
Well, there might be a very simple answer.  Nobody bothered to check the oil and we just didn't know we were getting low.  The reason might be purely geographical.  "Our" oil is located in Alaska, California, coastal Florida and Louisiana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas.  Unfortunately, our "dipsticks" are all in Washington, D.C!
I have posted his letter on my bulletin board at work and giggle every time I read it and remember Dad.  Some day I hope to be as smart as my Dad.

Love you Dad!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Farewell to Shoes ...

Changes are coming in my life.  It's time to tighten the financial belt and stop the incessant spending that has taken over.

Ever since Independence Day (September 1, 2007) I have enjoyed my financial freedom along with the freedom to wear what I want, cook what I want, listen to music when I want...the list is endless.

Now, however, I find myself facing some big changes.  I am selling the house and moving (still not sure where yet - first I have to sell the house!).  I am downsizing.

I am also shedding 90% of all my old furniture.  It is full of baggage I don't care to carry with me any longer.

Obviously I will need some new things when I land.  And I will have some expenses in the moving.

And so?  I have declared myself on a Strict Financial Diet.  let's hope this is more successful than my other diets... 

Step one of the diet?

No More New Shoes.

These, then, were my Farewell to Shoes...even though I didn't know it at the time...



Alas New Shoes, I knew you well....


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Finally An Answer to that Burning Question

When I talk about the Captain, people often ask me, "Is Ex dating?"



Why? Why do they ask? And why do they think I know the answer? And why do they think I care?


Usually I say, "I don't know - but I hope so. I hope he can find someone who can tolerate his curmudgeony ass find someone to enjoy life with him. "



Last Saturday Son had a college rugby game nearby. Of course I went - so did Ex and his Dad and Uncle. Dad and Uncle still like me, still talk to me. There was some girl? woman? Walking around with them. Eventually I got an up-close look and realized she was older than I thought. She was dressed nicely. Too nicely for Rugby.



Then it dawned on me.

That's his DATE! And they later went to dinner (Son told me - no I didn't ask!!)


So all you curious people who want to know?? YES HE IS DATING! Girlfriend? I don't know.



But her car was not in the driveway when I got home from the piano bar at midnight.



Just sayin'


Monday, April 11, 2011

Bob Vila does NOT live here....

Once upon a time there was a girl who wanted to sell her house (and yes the blog title might need to change...). She had a realtor come by and he suggested she redo/paint the bathroom, the foyer, the downstairs bathroom, and fix the seams and paint the office. He said he would give her the number of a good painting crew. Before she got that number, however, she talked to her friend Rob who is pretty much a Bob Vila. He said, "you can paint right over the wallpaper - just spackle the seams, prime and paint. It's easy!"

Easy. Accomplishment. I am woman hear me roar.

So Girl Next Door went to Home Depot and bought $200 worth of paint and prime and spackle and "stuff."

Then Girl Next Door remembered Rob also said, "If there's any loose wallpaper, just tear it off or cut it out and spackle that." Girl Next Door assessed the wallpaper and saw many spots where it was coming down. So she grabbed a corner and started pulling...and was left with this... So she spackled like Rob told her and it looked like this...


And then she taped everything and thought she was ready to paint.
But when she primed where the wallpaper but not the sticky backing peeled off the wall, the paper bubbled. So she spackled again. And sanded again. and primed again. This pretty much went on for 5 days in a row. Finally on the 6th or was it the 7th? day..she finished.



But she needed new light fixtures. As part of her initial Home Depot run, she picked up what she thought were the same lights so that she could switch them out. But they weren't. And because they weren't, this would involve removing the original bases, drilling new holes, measuring, blah blah blah. Translation: No Frickin' Way...


So she went back to Home Depot but they didn't have the right size. Thinking about what new lights in a new size meant (no frickin' way) she searched Home Depot.com and found the right lights - miracle!!! And Ordered them - free shipping bonus!! Saturday she unpacked the lights....and one was BROKEN. noooooooo. One was not, so she killed the electricity, put up the new light, put on the electricity (each killing of electricity requires a trip to the basement 2 floors below...), and....No Light. So she ran to the basement, killed the electricity, ran upstairs, she took it apart, saw that she didn't wrap the wires carefully, rewrapped, reran to the basement, AND - LIGHT! Woot!


GND decided one new light was enough. Son came home for the weekend and said, "you're kidding right?" Ok ok, back to Homedepot.com....maybe next week.



Then Girl Next Door thought - "If I try to do this myself I won't get the house on the market until NEXT May...." By then Realtor had sent her the phone number of Painters. Painters came, gave her the most reasonable estimate ever....they showed up the next day...and in ONE DAY the painters removed wallpaper from foyer, spackled entire foyer, painted foyer and trim, painted living room ceiling, spackled and painted small bathroom, painted front and back doors, fixed the seams in the office and painted the ceiling AND the walls. In One Day. For $1300. Remember how Girl Next Door spent $200 for Home Depot supplies? Plus 6 days of labor?


BEFORE:

(You can't see the ugly textured wall paper in the photos above & below that is peeling off in places....)


Bathroom. What WERE we thinking??!!

Back door....
AFTER:

Office (above) the seams were all coming apart.




It's not fancy. It's boring. The entire house is beige and white - the perfect canvas on which someone else can paint their dreams.


At least, I hope so!


Oh and Home Depot being so awesome, Girl Next Door took back: 1 can of prime, 1 can front door paint, various brushes, rollers, trim painters, 1 tub spackle, 3 light fixtures (1 broken 2 didn't fit). She got a refund on all that, plus a $20 credit because the cashier felt bad that the light arrived broken. I bought 4 flats of flowers that were on 1/2 price sale, 2 bags of grass seed 1/2 price sale, weed killer 1/2 price sale, other necessities, (yes girls can find necessities at Home Depot! Stop smirking!) and spent only $38. Gardening - Yeah this Girl Next Door KNOWS how to Garden!!!