Life, Uncategorized

This and that

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My brother and I, age 8 and 6

Today would have been my brother‘s 53rd birthday, so far he has missed 32 of them. It used to be a very painful day for me because our birthdays fall just 10 days apart and we often had a dual celebration when we were growing up. They say time heals all wounds and while that doesn’t fit in most cases of lost loved ones, it seems to have dulled the ache over the past three decades. These days I sometimes fleetingly think about what could have been if he hadn’t died, but living in the past is good for no one. It’s all about accepting our current reality.

Time is a true healer and the things that seemed urgent and insurmountable a couple of weeks ago are background noise today. I mentioned in a previous post that my dad had been the victim of a fraud scam (to the tune of $4,400). I was so angry about this and to be honest, initially, I couldn’t fathom how he could have fallen for the scam which is known as the “grandparent scam“.  After hearing him tell what happened I understood how he could have been duped and only felt the deepest heartache for a man who has only approached life with optimism and trust in his fellow humans. He has given the shirt off his back on many occasions over the years and is always willing to lend a helping hand. He is the last person who should have been the victim of a scam. My siblings and I have pitched in to make him whole and it has been a learning and growing experience for all of us.

That same week we were at the bottom of our patience reserves with our pre-teen. Every day was bringing more fighting than peace and my husband and I didn’t know how we were going to survive the summer and quite possibly the rest of his years until he was safely through his teen angst. We called in an expert and came up with a plan together to at least get through the next few weeks. It hasn’t been without its bumps but it no longer feels insurmountable. I’m constantly reminded that below all the turmoil is a good kid with a big heart and he often makes me laugh. The other day he posed the question “what if Wakanda didn’t exist” and then proceeded to tell me how all the other Marvel plots would fall apart if that had been the case. He is even making a Marvel lover out of me(this is a genre I had always avoided)! He loves magic and jokes and is always trying to entertain us. He is not out to get us! I have to remind myself he is trying to come into his own now and it’s time to loosen the strings.

This week will bring our contractor back to us. In the middle of our home renovation project, he had the audacity to get married and go on a honeymoon. The nerve! No, seriously, he is a great guy and I’m so happy for him and his new wife. He has been a tremendous worker and cares a great deal about his craftsmanship that I have no doubt we will be blown away by the end product. We are definitely in the final weeks of the project and the house will be back together by the time September arrives.

Happy Sunday.

MC

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Life

The Office

Yesterday I sat in my half-completed office, the new floor tiled and clean. Empty of all but the relics of construction detritus. I pulled a chair in from the nearby deck and just sat and envisioned the room as I see it Friday afternoon which I’m pretty sure will be the day it’s all put back together. I cannot tell you how good this feels after nearly six weeks of slow progress. There is still so much more but for now, this is everything.

For the past 15 years I have been in our house, this is the only room that remained untouched, bearing the scars of wallpaper hung sometime in the 90’s. The furniture is mish-mash and the room has served as a dumping ground for all things brought into the house – bookbags, ski paraphernalia, lacrosse gear, stuff we didn’t know what else to do with. I have tried to organize it and make it nice but it rarely looks better than a forgotten space. We decided a couple of years ago to finally redo the room we could never quite bring ourselves to call “the office”. Wainscotting was purchased in a moment of optimism but has languished in the basement for two years. One vision had us adding a fireplace but we found the cost, done right, was exorbitant for the size of the room and the use we’d get out of it.

Currently, it serves as a mudroom, office, dog feeding station, maildrop, command center, quiet reading area, shoe repository, recycling center and holder of random household things. I have my work cut out to change its image among our household members as a more refined place, a place of respect that deserves better than our cast-off coats and shoes. Our contractor caught me sizing up an area of the room yesterday and mistook it for displeasure in the work they’d done. Really, I was deep in thought about how to make this room really sing and work for us and I quickly assured him that wasn’t the case.

I have an old, old glassed-door (ugly green lining hides the contents) bookcase that has served as a centerpiece for organizing the room and it was a hand me down from my grandfather’s office of the 1950’s. When I was a child I  used it to house my library of books and I was our household’s self-appointed librarian and even put library card slots in all the books. I had a small table that served as the checkout desk. I’ve been thinking of letting the piece go because it doesn’t fit my new decor scheme, but I’m definitely struggling with this.

There is also the light colored desk that was a hand me down from an aunt and has a black leather top and old-fashioned drawer nobs. There is a sturdy, dark wood bookcase. The comfortable love seat was a new addition last year. None of it matches or looks right in that bespoke way of homes filled with old treasures that don’t match. I still have work to do in the envisioning of it as a whole. I’m just happy to be a little closer to that day.

Writing

Ideal writing conditions

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I am a creature of habit and someone who likes things the way they like them. Writing is no different. My number one rule is a quiet, empty house. This is an extremely difficult rule to employ since I share said house with a husband and 11-year-old. I am also ok with writing while everyone is sleeping or outside so I’m always encouraging Liam to go help his dad when he’s working outside.

This is very simply because if I am working at the computer, the questions start coming from Liam. What are you doing? When can I use the computer? What can I do? It leaves me a bit frustrated to be honest. I rarely try to write anymore when they are around. My favorite time to write is in the morning as that’s when I have the most energy and imagination. Sometimes I get up at 5:00, make myself a cup of coffee and then Murphy, our golden retriever will look at me with sad eyes that say “what about me?”. He will sit next to my chair and stare at me until I get him a treat and then he’ll lie by my feet realizing I’m not taking him for a walk.

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Since our house has been torn apart for the last month, I no longer have my writing room and that’s been really hard. I have the computer set up on the breakfast bar in the kitchen but I sit at it and cannot form any thoughts. I’m consumed instead by how long this renovation is taking and how much longer it’s going to be before the house is put back together. Right now all we have completed is the dining room floor (which looks quite nice) and by the end of next week, the floor in the office should be done and then the room will be back together shortly thereafter. I’m not going to think about the kitchen. Nope, not thinking about the kitchen which is still weeks away.

I have come to realize I have to make myself write, no matter what the conditions or it will never get done. Sometimes I obsess over the young people I see in the obituary pages (we still get a newspaper delivered!) and think I don’t know how much longer I have here. Pretty dour, right? It’s usually a passing phase but mortality is a real thing. I never thought much of it until I turned 50 and suddenly have retirement staring me down. I remind myself of Meg Ryan’s character in When Harry Met Sally who is obsessed with her singleness and says she’s going to be 40, someday. She’s more like 30 but in her self-pity has aged herself by a decade.

I have now gotten so far off topic, I better wrap this up now. I’m writing today and that’s a good thing. It’s still early and Liam isn’t up to ask me what he can do and interrupt my momentum. I will try to shed my anxieties about mortality and writing and just get on with it.

Happy writing.

MC

 

 

 

Life

The chaos of home renovations

The early days of renovation

It’s probably no small coincidence that my last blog post of over two weeks ago coincides with the progressing and now overwhelming chaotic state of my home which is undergoing (apparently) vast renovation. It started with pulling apart our master bath which left us unable to inhabit the master bedroom. We pulled up stakes and moved into the extremely unorganized guest room upstairs and have been there ever since. It’s a dodgy existence. The chaos has served as a slow moving infection that is seeping into all areas of life.

On day one I came home to find our vanity and toilet planted in the area directly in front of my dresser with only  a few drawers accessible that housed my underwear, pajamas, shorts and exercise clothes. The closet too. This is okay because I don’t need socks or scarves this time of year and was able to pull what I needed to survive in the guest room. We could get to the ironing area by climbing over the bed (now covered with coats, boots and random paraphernalia from our entry closet where the floor is being replaced) which for me has only happened once out of sheer necessity. I figured we’d be back in business in the master room by now but it sits starkly empty down to the studs with the contents sitting patiently in the garage ready to be called into duty.

Day two I came home to find the contents of my office in the dining and living rooms and it has been downhill ever since. Fortunately we will still have our kitchen another few weeks while we wait for cabinets to come in. I’m hopeful that the other areas will be put back together by then and I’ll be better mentally prepared for this transition. Maybe not.

So at the end of week one, on my Friday day off that was full of errands and to dos, the contractor sat me down to tell me his partner has not been showing up to work and basically took some of the money we paid out to start the job and did a runner. Yeah, that day pretty much sucked but I feel confident in the remaining guy who has brought in more help although it’s going much slower than anticipated.

What is the moral of the story? I don’t really know because it hasn’t played out in it’s entirety yet. We’re living in a confined space and even Liam’s room is chocked full of pieces of our house so that he really only has a narrow passage to get to his bed. Partly it’s been a freeing experience because I don’t have to worry about cleaning up (or yelling at Liam to clean his room). I merely have to keep up a bit of laundry, keep the dishes washed and make sure nothing important gets lost in the clutter. It will be helpful when it comes to putting our rooms back together because I’ll likely be able to throw or donate a lot of things I find we don’t need anymore.

Tomorrow is my first Friday off at home without a dozen things going on so I’m planning to take my laptop somewhere to write to escape the noise of the work. I will hang around to talk to the workers who I barely see and to find out how it’s going recovering the money he paid out to his former partner. I hope he has good news. I will also try to get an estimate on our master bath which will begin the return to normalcy in our chaotic home life. Stay tuned.

MC