Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Drinking and Thinking

I had a very stressful day yesterday and, as soon as the spouse came in the door, I whisked him off for a couple of drinks at The Bar.  I hardly ever do that ..... but I was literally in need of alcohol.  We don't have any in the house.  Once we settled in at our table in a dark corner of the joint, we sat and chatted for an hour or so and had a couple of beers.  Just as we were thinking about leaving, along comes one of the spouse's co-workers, a very jovial and relaxed individual.  The spouse asked him if he wanted to join us (which really wasn't on my agenda but I didn't want to be rude) and so the guy sat down.

We made the usual small talk .... it was kind of awkward I guess because I was still feeling anxious and I wanted to come home and get on with the rest of the evening, which entailed some bill paying and other financially related activities.  The spouse mentioned to his co-worker that he would be retiring at the end of this year which was news to the co-worker, who then divulged that he too was retiring next month!  The spouse was shocked ..... he had no idea that 'Guy' was even leaving the company let alone retiring.  Guy then revealed that he was retiring to an expensive resort area of California and how he couldn't wait to get out of the desert.  He has already sold his house here and cleared away all the accumulated junk ...... right now, he is living temporarily in a hotel close to work.

The spouse was surprised by Guy's retirement because the co-worker is so young.  Well, young by retirement standards ..... 40 isn't that young.  But still ...... Guy has the jump on us.  Being able to retire at 40 was for us an alien concept, sadly.  At 40, we were busy running that hamster wheel and buying/hoarding crap and supporting 4 kids and all.  We 'got smart' at more of an advanced age than Guy, obviously.  Mind you, Guy doesn't have any children either ..... such are the choices we make.  It's all good.  We wouldn't change anything in that regard.  The biggest thing I would change now, in hindsight, is the way we handled the large amounts of money that came into our lives ... and promptly left, traded for cars/houses/clothing/electronics/food/restaurants/vacations/all manner of crap ....  Such waste.  As I've said before, that is a huge regret but it is a regret that I have now come to terms with.  And as I've also said before, when one has grown up poor and never having much of anything, it's HARD to resist the temptation to fill that empty hole with material goods.  The spouse and I both endured tough childhoods.  In my childhood household, we just didn't have any money period.  My young years were spent living in poverty.  In the spouse's case, his mother held the purse strings tight and didn't share, so he didn't have much of anything either just a different reason for the lack.

After we left the bar, the spouse was quiet and reflective.  I knew what he was thinking .... wondering how we could've been so wasteful and financially stupid for all those years.  We lived a big life, there's no doubt about that.  We have done things that other people would either never dream of doing or can only dream of doing.  We played the financial roulette wheel of life for a long time and, yes, we have ended up on the losing end when all is said and done.  All of that income we made?  Gone.  How dumb we were.  It's when we come across people like Guy that it really hits home.  Speaking for myself, I definitely had a smart chip missing when it came to the different arenas that made up my life.  I was destructively reckless.

My biggest flaw?  I lived only for the moment and hardly ever gave any thought to the future, especially my financial future.  I behaved so recklessly in other areas of my life too that I shudder when I imagine how things might've turned out for me and my family had certain events really gone bad.  The drinking, the partying, the shady people I hung out with, the wild weekends ..... it was disastrous enough but somewhere between there and here, I feel that I have been granted a second chance.  And, thankfully, I think my kids have made it out of here in decent shape.  Things could've been much much worse. (Cat not included, but 3 out of 4 ain't bad)

We won't be living the resort lifestyle of the Guys of this world in retirement because we ignorantly blew our wad in our younger working stiff days, but there is still definitely hope that we can experience all the things we have wanted to experience for years.  If we plan carefully, I believe we can do it all.  Yes, there are major health issues so we have to be able to cram all of this into the next decade.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Stress Will Kill A Person

We have been selling off lots of stuff.  It's good stuff too, not junk.  Some of it could even be classified as 'treasures'.  I thought I was ready for it.  After all, it's one thing to get rid of crap one never uses but quite another to sell things that one loves.  Well, we are literally down to selling the treasures .... and it isn't going well.

One particular treasure, which should really be designated a family heirloom, was up on the chopping block last week.  I put the ad up on CL and figured no one would call.  We are talking about a baby grand piano.  Well, someone did call.  A young lady called me up, asked if she could come over to see the piano and I, naturally, said yes come on over.  Along she comes, into the house and sits down at the piano which, by the way, is played by us but not very well.  Turns out, she is a gifted student of music and a budding concert pianist ..... and she played the crap out of that piano.  It was awesome.  Tear to the eye awesome.  Cripes, I thought Liberace was in da house.  I love Liberace.

So, she loved the piano and wanted to buy it.  Tried to chisel me down in price from the mid $3000s but I refused and told her she was already getting a deal.  OK, she said, you win.  I pay your price. Will return tomorrow with the cash, a moving truck and a bunch of friends to help me move it.  As soon as she was out that front door, I suffered an extreme anxiety attack.  I have heard of this happening to people who have a difficult time parting with stuff, let alone their treasures .... panic sets in.  Before I knew it, I was crying and regretful and in such a state of anxiety at the thought of the family piano disappearing from our lives that I was completely unable to function.

Bedtime rolled around and I had a terrible night.  In the morning I was deeply depressed and sad.  I told the spouse that I felt we were selling up too much of our lives and that it was a mistake.  The spouse, who told me he didn't want any storage bills, could see the level of my distress and I told him flat out ~ the piano ain't leaving.  I then called the young lady and told her that I had changed my mind and that I was too emotionally attached.  I then called a local storage facility and settled on a fair sized storage unit.

I feel so much better knowing that I am indeed keeping a family heirloom.  Not only that, but now I can keep more of my treasured stuff and the spouse can keep more of his.  Certain items have now been removed from CL and I have zero regrets about now having a storage unit.  I am just not able to part with everything.  There are things I want to keep, to pass down.  Not too much stuff but just the things that make home, home.  After all, when we come in off the road we are going to have to set up shop again, perhaps sooner than we'd like to think.

I have been sick since that anxiety attack at the weekend, so we are talking days of aftermath here.  I am only just beginning to feel normal again and it's Day Five.  I felt so ill, in fact, that I made an appointment to get checked out by my doctor because my body reacted badly to the stress, makes me wonder if perhaps something else is going on .......

Our health is my main concern at moment, what with this plan we've cooked up to hit the road as full time RVers.  Even though our minds tell us we're still 18, our bodies are saying very differently.  To that end, I am making even more changes to our diet ..... and, by the way, I am losing weight.  I will post on that next week probably.

Posting here will be intermittent.  I am kind of in a holding pattern with nothing much going on, except my dogged determination to get Cat out of here and I think everyone is sick of my drama with her. Understandable.  I also plan to begin a new blog which will focus less on my family BS and more on our efforts to sell up lock, stock and barrel and get out on the road.  I will, however, still post here throughout the year when I have something I need to bitch about.  This has been and will forever be my 'bitch blog'.  I need it.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Next 20 Years

The spouse is already emotionally 'gone' from here but I have lingering doubts about next year's house sale, purely because I love my house and home.  This morning, as I washed the dishes and made our bed, I found a way to overcome this half-commitment.  I asked myself these questions:

Am I willing to expend the rest of my life's energy here, in this one place in the desert?  Can I imagine spending the next 20 years of my life fixing up this house and never really being able to leave to go anywhere?

The immediate answers, when I really thought about them in those terms, is NO.  I am not willing to spend another 20 years here.  End of story.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wednesday Evening Blurb

Life is ticking along here.  I spend most of my days alone in the house, sorting stuff out, cleaning.  It might sound like a lonely life but, compared to the chaotic life I used to live up until 2008, I don't mind it ~ in fact, I rather like it.  I get to watch the TV shows I want to watch, try out new recipes, bake, listen to music, read ..... all without the unnecessary input from the other people who live here.  I still go out for morning walks with my friend who is recovering from breast cancer and I am in touch with old (and current) friends from around the world so it's not as if I'm a friendless recluse!!  While the spouse and Cat are at work, I do whatever I like sans judgment.

I had another run-in with the selfish and narcissistic Cat today.  She came home exhausted from running around with her so called friends all last night and promptly passed out all over the family room sofa for hours.  She came into the house looking like a rumpled bag lady who had been sleeping in her clothes for the past month, that's how disheveled Cat looked.  And she smelled too.  Of old sour booze, cigarettes and the lord knows what else.  In the mornings, her bedroom smells absolutely foul, like that of an old drunk.  Everything in her life takes a back seat to her drugs and partying and frequently in the mornings, she feels too sick to get out of bed.  It's pathetic.  She promised to cook dinner tonight but naturally she didn't but no matter ~ I served up vegetable bean soup for the spouse and I from yesterday's crockpot.  I learned long ago that Cat is unreliable in the extreme and therefore I no longer count on her for anything.  Drugs have taken her down a dark road, a road on which she chooses to remain.

I informed Cat yesterday that the house was going to be sold.  Our neighborhood home values are going up and we are going to capitalize on that fact.  I told Cat that she will need to save up money to find her own place because right now, she hasn't saved up a dime.  Things have been even rockier than usual now that the parasite knows she is going to have to become self sufficient.  It's sad to realize that the daughter I used to have such fun and share so many laughs and good times with is, in fact, one giant FAKE and a USER.  She tries to hug me now and I just recoil in disgust.  It's awful.  I don't want her touching me.  I just want her to go. 

This whole situation is going to end badly, mark my words.  Parents aren't supposed to bury their children but I have a very strong feeling that we are going to be burying Cat sooner or later.  Tonight, she has gone out bar hopping with some guy we've never heard of before.  It's almost like a resolution.  Often times when things are going badly here and Cat's brain, in all it's chemical imbalance, is causing her to say and do crazy delusional things, I'll sit and imagine that at any moment there will be THAT knock on the door and the present hell will end and a new one will begin.  I wonder what it will feel like to know that, once again, there was nothing I could do to take someone off a collision course.  It sucks.

Transitions are always difficult.  The spouse and I are transitioning into a new way of life, it will be almost like it was when we were first married without children.  Personally, I can't fucking wait because I am tired of dealing with other people's problems, I am tired of living here in the desert, tired of flogging dead horses.  It will be very weird to leave behind this hated desert town in which we have all lived for 20 years ..... as they say, one can get used to anything and I am indeed used to this place finally. 

I have become negative and short tempered, stressed out and annoyed over the years with my present situation because I am stuck with it for another year.  I allowed Cat too, in her craziness, to fill my home up with animals that she had 'rescued'.  What a joke!  She brought cats and dogs in here and ceased to purchase food and other needed supplies.  I know, I look to be a right doormat as usual but Cat's machinations are far more insidious than that.  Without me even realizing it, I was manipulated into providing for these extra mouths.  I did, however, put my foot down at cat #9 ..... and Cat's boyfriend at the time was very helpful in preventing more creatures from finding their way through the door.  He would be the one to tell Cat NO.  Put that cat/dog/fish/snake back.  But now I see just how weak and ineffectual I have actually been with this woman, my daughter, and I have made a promise to myself that by this time next year, my entire situation will be remedied.

A word on the animals: I am down to 3 cats and 1 dog.  1 of the cats is very old and the dog is getting up there in age too.  When I take up RVing, homes have already been lined up as needed for any remaining pets with reliable family members, Cat not included.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Collections of Things and Thoughts

I spent the day cataloging the spouse's stamp collection.  Don't laugh.  He was/is a self confessed geek.  A small part of the collection dates back to the 1940s so he is pretty sure that this collection could raise between $1-$2000.  It took me all day to list the stamps.  Next, we have to find sales prices for each stamp.  No doubt that will take up another entire day.

We have a couple of other antique items that could bring in some cash.  Everything has to go.

My 'job' over the next two weeks is to empty out the upstairs of our house entirely, save for the stuff we use daily so that means the linen and towel closets will remain intact because I have nowhere else to put the stuff.  All the bedrooms (except Cat's) and the bathrooms are going to be emptied of everything save shampoos and gels in the showers/by the sinks.

That means that our main closets,  especially mine, is going to get The Final Clean.  I've been working on this f*cking closet since 2007.  It's ridiculous but it's the hoarder in me.  I have to get rid of stuff when the mood hits and this final clean of my closet is going to be tough because I love everything in it, even if the clothing contained therein doesn't exactly fit me right now.

I have told the spouse, "The wheels are in motion."  And he is getting excited.  So am I.  His days of reporting to the daily grind of corporate America are almost over and, heck, it doesn't seem possible that he is staring down the end of his working life. It's all he's ever known.  He has been a good provider and a good, good man despite the fact that there have been times in my younger days when I didn't fully appreciate that fact.  I'm lucky he stayed with me.

I have a couple of collections of my own that I'm pricing for sale.  My specific collections ~ the ones that actually had a point to them ~ all stopped in 1996.  The hoarding didn't, mind you.  That exploded.  In 1996, The Stalker came into my life.  I spent 2 years being followed, tracked and terrorized by this individual until the police finally had grounds to arrest him and throw him in jail.  When the DA filed charges, it was another 2 years of hell before the case went to trial.  And then he was found guilty and locked up and the keys thrown away.  The bastard will die behind bars.

In 1996, aspects of my life ceased.  I still went to work, raised kids, bought houses, made money, took reckless risks, fell into a hole ....but I stopped taking photos and videos of my family, I stopped engaging in hobbies and pastimes (like my collections) and I would be hard pressed to find a photo of me that was taken anywhere over the past 20ish years.  Photos of me from this time period are as rare as hen's teeth.  Effectively, I disappeared without actually disappearing.  I wore only black for years.

Many family plans never materialized.  Planned vacations never happened.  All because I caught the eye of One Deranged and Dangerous Fool.  Our paths crossed on the grounds of a church, of all places.  We had never met before but I was in his sights from that point forward.  He was obsessed, truly.  Our house phone would ring constantly day and night, with hang ups galore, once he discovered our phone number.  My neighbor friend would tell me of a strange vehicle parked down the street from our houses, with a dark shadow inside just sitting there watching.  Later, I would hear how he would park on our street just waiting for a glimpse of me.  How disturbing is that?  And most of the time initially, I was clueless.

Raking all of this old stuff out of the closets and out of storage bins is causing me to rake up the past.  It presents a snapshot of that time when our lives were completely normal, a time when none of this bad stuff had ever happened.  I lived through the trauma and conclusion of the court trial and figured that I could begin to rebuild my life, but what happened next?  The World Trade Center was destroyed.  That event took whatever stability that remained away from me.  Someone just may as well have strapped a couple of blocks of C4 to my ankles and blown the ground out from under me.  I no longer felt safe anywhere and truly every single one of my illusions evaporated that day.  I haven't been the same since and this country hasn't been the same since.  We were all changed that day.

I definitely still have issues to work through regarding that period in my life 1996 - 2001.  I have kept it closed up inside for so long, it just wants to break free, be dissected and finally be put to bed.  Just like everything else in my life I've had to deal with.

Speaking of bed, it is past 2am.  Gonna try to get some shut eye, will probably lie there for half an hour and mull things over.  I've had a beer so hopefully I can drop right out ..........

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Before and After

The spouse and I have spent much of this week discussing our future retirement plans.  We have decided that, bar any bad news of the medical kind this year, we are going to sell our house and travel around North America with perhaps a foray or ten into Mexico.  Additionally, we plan to visit those countries we have always wanted to visit: Egypt, Turkey, Australia, France with several cruises thrown in.  We figure that if we can accomplish all this, we can die happy.  (LOL.)

We plan to sell the house within the next 2 years.  The spouse still has a year left at work and we still have a couple of adult children who haven't managed to leave the nest.  However, whenever I think of selling this safe haven, I realize just how much the spouse's medical condition scares me (it scares me more than it scares him) plus the fact that I am still 'in love' with this house ..... I know I will never find another quite like it.  I hate the idea of selling it.  Back in 2008, when we were literally losing everything and were steps from being out on the streets, this house came along and saved everything.  It saved my ass from divorce for sure.  In just 6 years, it is also giving back a quarter of a million dollars, which is a quarter mil we never would've had.  So, I feel indebted to this place.  A caretaker.  Does that sound weird?  We plan to sell the house, yes, but it's still going to be hard.

I get so emotionally attached to things but I can say with certainty that I am NOT emotionally attached to this hole out in the desert where I live in any way, shape or form.  In fact, I used to cry whenever I would have to return from a trip because I just didn't want to BE here.  That's how much I hated living here.  And so now here we are, after 20ish years of having to live here because of a job, with the spouse chomping at the bit to leave and me now suddenly not wanting to leave a piece of my heart behind.  Oh, life, you play such cruel tricks.

It's just a house.  No, it's NOT just a house.  It saved my life.  It saved all of us.  When I began to get my head on straight, I was able to really see what a godsend this house was and is.  I have turned it from the worst, neglected house on the street to one of the best in the entire neighborhood.  I know we're not going to have a problem selling this house.  The problem is: will I regret doing so in the future?  Maybe selling is just the next step I need to make in gaining full control of my life.  I can't say regain because I never had control in the first place and especially not after 'my' stalker came into my life and turned it all upside down .... but that was 15 years ago and now I really feel it's now or never.  All the things I ever wanted to do, all the traveling .... it's now or never.  I don't want to spend the next 15 years of my life hiding behind the brick walls of my house in this quiet desert community.  Everything is about to change again.  The break needs to be made.

I think of the spouse and all the sacrifices he has had to make for me and his family and I know that he wants to live the RV lifestyle more than anything.  I know that what I'll end up doing next summer is taking a picture of this place, a front view in full bloom, and hanging that picture in the RV where I can always see it, along with my favorite photo of my 4 kids taken when they were young children ..... another photo I keep where I can always see it.  I took that photo of them when we were much younger and before that stalker put me in his sights.  It's the 'Before' picture.  Once I make it into the RV and hit the road next year, I will place my house picture next to the kids' picture ....and I will look out the window at the road ahead as we drive away from the desert.

That whole panorama spread out before us will become my 'After' picture.  To be continued.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Evening

“When I was a kid, it felt like they made something new every day. Some gadget or idea. Like every day was Christmas.  But we made a lot of mistakes. Six billion people. Just try to imagine that.  Every last one of them trying to have it all.” ~ Interstellar

***

It occurred to me this evening that various people I know ..... neighbors, family members, friends old and new .... are obsessing over the same things that I am currently obsessing over: paying off the mortgage, RV travel, and downsizing house/possessions/life.  It is very telling that not only are my favorite bloggers downsizing their lives/selling houses/moving into RVs but so are the people I actually know in person!

What gives?  Have we all gotten wise at the same time?  Do we all read the  same blogs?  Are we all  receiving the same internet memos?  Whatever it is, I feel as though I am in the unique position of being old enough to have witnessed the rise of 'mall culture' and the materialism that went along with it, a few economy crashes, population boom, and now what seems to be the sudden awakening that we really don't need all this stuff jamming up our closets/drawers/rooms/garages.  It's interesting, timely and a little sad when one considers the wasting of those resources emotional, financial and physical.

This past week, I helped a neighbor friend to sort out her garage.  I find myself gravitating towards people who could use my help and input in the hoarding arena, being a recovering hoarder myself.  As a veteran of many a hoarding show on TV (if 'show' is the correct word) and having been a years long chronic hoarder myself, I instantly identify with the mindset and anxiety of The Hoarder.  I also have the patience to deal with that mindset and anxiety.  I know that it is frequently impossible for hoarders to get rid of all their crap in just one morning.  I guess that's why I keep getting asked back to help some more.  The spouse says I should start a business and charge people to help them to de-hoard.  There's a thought.  Anyway, we dragged the contents of the middle part of the garage out onto the neighbor's driveway and sorted into Keep/Donate/Trash piles.  We haven't yet begun to work on the many shelves that line both sides of the garage or the space in the rafters that is also crammed with dusty, dirty crap.  My friend is beginning to feel her age and is feeling guilty for having collected so much stuff over the years.  As we worked, she asked over and over again, 'how much money have I wasted on this junk?'  A good question indeed.  I asked myself that very same question too, as I whittled down my possessions into what I have today.  I still have stuff to be gotten rid of, mind you, though nothing near what I used to own. In fact, I am going to sort through my own organized garage tomorrow to see what more I can dispose of.  It is becoming a compulsion.  I guess I have indeed traded one addiction for another.  That's what happens.

***
In other news, I am still dealing with Cat.  She is still here.  I had my hopes up this past week that she would be moving out to an apartment but that plan seems to have fallen through.  What happened was this: Cat began talking via Facebook with the son of a family member who has married into the family as a second wife to one of the spouse's step-nephews.  Crumbs, does that even make sense??  I guess what I am trying to say is, Cat has been talking to a family member who is not blood related to her at all in any way.  This guy (we'll call him Jorge) lives out of state but is taking a job here in California and is looking for a place to live.  I guess Cat put it out there on FB that she is in the market for an apartment/roommate and another family member saw the post and told Jorge about it. Anyway.  Cut a long story short, Jorge came to California to meet up with Cat (he had never met her before because we have very little to do with the spouse's extended family) and to talk about being roomies.  He was initially smitten with Cat ... I could just see the way he looked at her and the way he was riveted by her.  Well, as usual, that didn't last long.  By the time he had been around her for a week, he was ready to tear his hair out.  He found Cat absolutely exhausting, the way she bounces around and won't be still or quiet for a moment ...... it just drained him mostly of mental energy.  I know what that feels like, believe me.    Anyway, he made some cockamamie excuse about not applying for any apartment rentals with Cat and hightailed it back home.  I don't blame him.  I don't blame him at all.  One has to have peace and down time .....  and with Cat there is neither.  So, another one bites the dust.

***
In still more news, my sibling has stopped messaging me and in turn has been ignoring my texts.  I have not been around my sibling in years so in effect we are a little like strangers.  Word reached my ears this weekend from family on that side of the pond that my sibling is extremely difficult to get along with and has been suffering from anger issues and depression for years.  Hey!  We sound a lot alike after all!  Whenever I have visited the UK recently, it has always been hard to get my sibling in the same room as me ..... we carry a lot of baggage from our respective childhoods and I 'get' that.  I also 'get' that we remind each other of the violence that was inflicted upon us by our father and that those reminders are most unwelcome when one is trying to make a recovery.  I will not take my sibling's rejection personally, but if I feel that I need to try harder to forge a connection then I must make that effort.  If I feel that I don't have the inner strength to work that hard, then I won't and I will live with the situation as it is for now.  I have come a long way in my own struggles and I feel the stronger need to protect my own recovery from outside threats as I see them.  My sibling is definitely a threat because I don't need to be sucked into anger issues, accusations and arguments.  I have enough going on here on this side of the pond and I just don't have the emotional resources available right now to take my sibling on as well.  It is more than enough for me to deal with my own immediate family at the moment.  My family in the UK is dysfunctional in the extreme, naturally, so I have to be en garde whenever I have to deal with any of them.