Reality is kicking in.

My oldest daughter has always been old. Her graduating from high school and moving away to college was easy for me because I felt as though the natural progression of life was catching up to where she had always been. 

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I was a stay-at-home mom during the first two years of her life. The first time I spent any significant amount of time away from her, I went on a weekend trip to Austin. About 30 minutes into the drive out of town, I made my husband turn around. I was attached to one end of a rubber band and she to the other. And the band stretched as far as it could. So we went back, and I got one last hug. I was better after that and was able to leave her in the care of someone else for two days.

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Today was easy. I watched her cross the stage. I watched her become a former student. A few people cried, but I didn’t. She was moving forward like she had always been doing. 

But hang on. Wait. Just, just wait. 

She’s a college graduate and has a grown-up job and is being interviewed by a school on Monday for entrance into a BSN program. We aren’t paying her rent anymore. We won’t be paying for her school or food or anything anymore. She’s officially on her own. 

Ironic, since she’s suddenly two years old again. And I’ve driven away, leaving her in the care of the world, leaving her to care for the world. And I can’t turn back this time. Today the rubber band snapped, and I can’t drive back. 

And she’s not crying for me anymore.

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So this is what letting go feels like. 

It’s painful.

A long late-night journal entry

I’m sleeping in my new home for the second night in a row. Stet. I’m lying awake in bed in my new home. The current time is 3:06 am on my part of the planet. I say that as though this longitude belongs to me, but from my frame of reference, it does.

I bought new pillows. They are different than the ones I had in the past. I feel like they could be comfortable pillows if I could get used to them. They are thick and fluffy but are not as easily compressed as my previous pillows. My head is too far elevated. Using no pillow, which I am doing as of 15 seconds ago, feels like my body is reclined below the horizontal.  Meaning that without friction and no wall behind me, I would slide backward onto the floor onto my head. But my brain is over compensating. 

I really like my new house. The previous owner was an artist, and he painted the walls with a perfect color palette—mostly grey. (Head back on pillow.) And the people left expensive window dressings on the windows. Plantation shutters, too. And it’s not really so much the colors and windows, though they have a calming effect, it’s something else that makes the house feel good. It’s a feeling that lingers in the air, softly waiting for a host. 

But tonight I can’t sleep. The physical exertion over the week has left my body limp and achy. I have bruises on my arms. And I am tired. Over tired maybe. Over stimulated perhaps. And the in-laws are here tonight. That could explain a lot.

But It feels good to be able to comfortably accommodate so many people. Everyone is sharing in the calm presence of the air. Everyone is happy—a rare occurance.

People are here because tomorrow we drive to college station to watch my daughter walk across a stage wearing a maroon gown and a flat hat. 

There is much to celebrate.

And my youngest tore a ligament in her knee, right in two, and she will have surgery soon. She plays many sports, and she will miss out on them her senior year. She hasn’t shown any emotion about it, and she won’t, but my heart breaks for her because this is a big deal. And her room is upstairs. The entire upstairs is hers during her last year at home, but she won’t be able to go up there for most of that time.

Yet she celebrates in all there is to be thankful for. She and her sister are close; they had to be with all our moves. And so she smiles and laughs in celebration of her sister’s accomplishment.

I now have a cat on me. The cats are claiming their territories, and the areas of control have switched. The tabby, the old lady cat, controls my bedroom, and the other cat controls the upstairs where my daughter is. The other cat sleeps through the night, but this one, the one massaging my neck—the front part that aids oxygenation—is awake all night and requires constant attention. But she’s not the reason I’m awake. I’m just awake.

And work starts tomorrow. I am missing my first day, but I’m not the least bit disappointed. I have three more days of summer vacation, which is three more days than everyone else has. The weekend doesn’t count as vacation for them because it exists within the bubble of the school year. My bubble starts three days from now. But I don’t want to talk about that. I will revel in my three days.

The walls in my new home are bare, but they will slowly fill. I have many blank canvases in my new room—a big front room this time—and I will adorn those canvases, and the canvases will adorn my walls.

The time is now 4:44 am. I have been typing (and editing, though the run-on sentence in the last paragraph and any missed mistakes are still there) with my thumbs on a 2 x 4 (ish) screen.

I am not sleepy.

I felt like I was going to write about an idea, but the idea left me when I picked up the phone. So I have a long journal entry instead. 

Fin.

The worst way to die

Well fuck me,

I’m at the old house again tonight, hoping to get enough done for me to be able to finish tomorrow. And again I am sleeping on the floor, though I hadn’t planned on sleeping much. So no problem, right?

NO! PROBLEM!

Jumping out of an airplane (which, by the way, I miss) cured me of every fear I could think of, besides maybe a wild animal like a lion or bear attacking me on my way to the car at night. I didn’t consider another big, horrible, terrible, illogical fear I have: bugs. Particularly cockroaches. Especially the great big ones looking for shelter when it’s wet outside or looking for water when it’s dry outside, which means loitering inside my house pretty much all the time. The black ones, water bugs, aren’t as bad as the brown ones until they decide to fly. Because it’s not enough to be a cockroach. The brown ones, for whatever reason, freak the ever loving shit out of me. 

I was in the little back room sorting what little is left in there, and this THING, oh my God. This thing walked out onto the carpet. I screeched. Loudly. The cat chased it, and I stood, frozen, terrified, while she cornered the bug between a short stack of math books and the wall. I told her, yelled at her, demanded her to get it. I instantly realized that what I was telling the cat was to eat it. Fuck no. Oh for the love of all that is good and holy, please Cat, do not eat that thing. Just kill it. And I envisioned her eating it, chomping it. I seriously nearly puked when I wrote that. So I took off my shoe, knowing the shoe wasn’t big and heavy enough to kill it on fluffy carpet nor long enough to keep my body parts at a great distance from the horrible thing. It had long antennas. It smelled my fear. It did not run from me. I grabbed a book, a large math book that was written by me and which I thought was appropriate as I have residual negative feelings from that job. This negativity began after the book was published and I had to do mountains of research on math standards for various states. Mississippi had the lowest standards, Massachusetts, the highest, and Texas was somewhere in the middle. Dry job. Went from amusement park to shoveling smelly asphalt. But I digress.

The cockroach ran under the bookcase before I could throw the book at it. I missed the bug both literally and metaphorically. I stood frozen holding the book. Waiting. I don’t know for how long. I feared looking away. With one eye below the bookshelf and the other helping me move things out of the room, I cleared the floor of all but the bookshelf, and I blocked the exit. I put a towel under the door to trap the bastard. And I’m sleeping here tonight on the floor on pillows in another room. Currently lying here on high alert. Eyes wide open. Fully dressed with shoes still on in case an emergency exit is required. 

I thought about going home, but it’s raining and I still have much to do. And I don’t want to wake anyone up. 

According to fearof.net, I suffer from Katsaridaphobia

I copied that word from the website and pasted it here, and the word pasted in big bold letters. I’m leaving the word on the page as is to emphasize the extent of my fear. My terror. 

Cockroaches can eat a person, you know.

My Falling asleep post .

While reading much history that you don’t find in most history books (Did you know that Jethro Tull covered a song written by King Henry VIII?), and something else about the debauchery of Montreal, not to mention (I don’t understand that phrase, not to mention, because the phrase is always followed by what it is that is not to be mentioned. But I used it anyway), all the work I’ve been doing at this late hour, I have been slowly reaching an asleep state. But I don’t want to sleep. I’m that child who fights sleep and bobs her head each time she feels it fall. 
Remind me to put the trash out in the morning.

Night.

Backlog

Captain’s log, day 1 supplemental

The day was hijacked by a knee injury. My youngest daughter, a high-school senior and athlete, got hurt on the court right after I got done tutoring. So she and I spent the following 6 hours or so talking to doctors and getting x-rays. 

So there’s that. 

Captain’s log, day 2

One would think that one would spend this moment detached from the world after being so attached to it all damn day, but this world here is quiet and invisible and doesn’t cut me off in traffic.

I’m lying on the couch, waiting for my second wind and thinking of the things I need to do next and the order I need to do them in, and I see over there, not too far over there because this is a very small house, a decorative object that holds blankets. Almost all of the blankets are under my head, so what’s left on the blanket holder are two items. One is a blanket that is falling apart from wear. It was a gift during a magical time of my life. I’ve had a lot of magical times, but this time is wrapped in a pretty blanket. And though I hate the thought of getting rid of the blanket, I see no need to keep it. On the rung above it hangs something I made about 15 years ago. It’s not a blanket but a large square comprised of different shapes of different materials. It’s geometric and pretty and is made from scraps of the materials that I used to decorate the first home I owned. The back of it has loops sewn in so that a rod can be threaded through to make the thing easy to hang. I used to hang it, but I don’t anymore and I’m thinking it might be time to let go of that thing, too.

I have a box that contains odd things, like a rock and a shell and a pair of convenience-store plastic earrings. Each thing in the box represents some part of my life that I feel compelled to hold onto. Nothing about my past or about me would change if I didn’t have those objects, so I don’t understand my need to hold onto them. I’ve always been sentimental, but the older I get, the less attached I become to objects. The older I get, the more time there is behind me compared to what’s ahead of me. The past isn’t so important anymore. Not even the future is, really. I don’t have time to dabble in what-ifs. Though I do dabble. And I don’t have time to dwell on the past, though I do that too. The present is a luxury I don’t allow myself to enjoy often. And I don’t know why.

So do I toss the blanket? The earrings? The rock? None of it is of use to me. All of it takes up space, and none of it adds to or takes away from my emotional well-being except that I fear being sad for having let go, which is enough to make me hold on. But then, as silly as it sounds, a blanket and a box of trinkets are physical links to a few bits and pieces of a life well spent, and I like how tangible that makes my moments after those moments have passed.

This is the conundrum I find myself in. Do I carpe diem to the very end or keep a hold on the past for future reflection? I’m a uni-tasker and compartmentalizer, obsessively so on both accounts, so you see these are rhetorical questions that are the film floating at the surface of me. I can’t be sentimental to the past and live in the present while anticipating the future. Not all at once. And this move is forcing me to.

No wonder all the anxiety. My moves in the past were all so fast and furious that I didn’t have time to ponder such things. This is new to me. And I don’t like it.

Captain’s log, day 4

Day 3 was busy.

Last week did not go as planned, which is why the old house is still half full of nonessentials and why I am still in the old house, though I, myself, am not a nonessential. Everyone else is settling into the new house, so I am getting all the dirty work done—all the sifting and washing and throwing away of things—without having to practice cooperation. I haven’t moved the cats yet, so they keep me company, and I don’t want them to be alone in a strange and scary new house when no one is there, so I am keeping them company. Everyone else has work or other obligations. And tomorrow the little girl and I go see the orthopedist.

But right now I want to do nothing.

I can’t remember what made me think of it, something about perfect little houses in cartoon neighborhoods maybe. A vague memory surfaced of a scene from the movie Little Shop of Horrors. This was the first video that popped up, and when I watched it I remembered what a crush I had on Rick Moranis after the movie came out. The song has now been stuck in my head for 3 days. So here, you take it, eh?

I have things to do.

Captain’s log

This is an official record of these intense last days (in this rental house), including the last three posts:

Every morning starts the same. Every morning is full of promise, as though my rose bushes were blooming, which they aren’t. Not to say the morning promises are empty, but they are a bit misleading. It sounds as though I’m blaming the morning for my difficult days, because I am. Because I’d rather point fingers at the days than at myself. But I am to blame for the slim results of the days and the lack of enjoyment from beginning to end. The shoddy mold is my own creation…sort of. I don’t do well under stress unless I’ve been sufficiently regenerated. And this summer, I haven’t been, which worries me (but that’s a different story). The stress has mounted and my anxiety accordingly and the new medication has done nothing to help. I calm myself in the evening, but I can’t lie in bed and repeatedly solve a Rubik’s cube at any given moment of the day. So I need a new coping mechanism. My fault in all of this comes in when I don’t stop going when the anxiety hits. I keep going. Try not to pass out. Make poor decisions knowing I shouldn’t be making decisions at all. All it takes is a few minutes of sitting in the car and meditating or something. Taking a break. I think. Makes sense. I‘ll try today. 

I am on the porch typing on my phone. The air is still cool. Wet, but cool. And peaceful. I feel good. I’m meeting the lady this morning for two hours to talk about language stuff, and then I’m off to finish what I didn’t finish yesterday. And get it right this time. The first time, this time. And more importantly, do it right this time.

The day holds promise. I feel that I might make good on it. But I’m not gonna make any promises. I’m leaving that in morning’s court.

A very long day

I’m spending this moment waiting for my car to get its oil changed and its insides and outsides washed and I’m typing on this phone while looking up and smiling and waving every few seconds at a tiny girl in pigtails and a pink shirt with frilly short sleeves, in response to her adorable incessant “hi!” as she leans over the two-foot wall enclosing the small-child fun space. I’m feeling anxious today. My time is pressed and obligations block my path, one after another. But I don’t complain much outside of this space. Or maybe I complain a lot and I’m too self absorbed to notice. I’ve always thought of this space as a creative use of my emotional baggage. Like recycling.

When I was in 4th grade, my art teacher chose me and two other students to make paper from egg cartons—the brown cardboard kind that are more like thick paper than flimsy cardboard. To make paper from egg cartons, you have to cut up the carton material into pieces and soak the pieces in water until the water and bits of carton form a mush, which you then pour into a strainer, mash flat onto a surface, and let dry. Or something. We used our homemade paper for paper mache. We blew up balloons, which Mrs. Farmer tied for us (she had tall hair—at least a foot tall), and then taped our balloons together to make the shape of a donkey. I don’t know whose decision it was to make a donkey, but it didn’t matter because after the wet strips of homemade paper dried on the form, the result was unrecognizable. We weren’t finished though. Our donkey had much more to suffer. We then cut out one-inch squares of different colors of tissue paper. Mostly blues and greens. Then, very carefully, we put our tiny 10-year-old fingers at the centers of the squares, let the edges fold up our fingers as we dipped the centers in glue, and stuck the square centers to the donkey. The goal was to cover the paper creation completely with blue and green tissue squares. But the donkey was about 3 feet long and 2 feet high. I remember because I have a picture somewhere of the three of us holding it. To cover that stupid thing took forever. Days. Months. Lifetimes. And our fingers became permenantly stained blue and green and forever lost their ability to not stick to stuff. But in the end, the donkey was amazing. It went from this weird, ugly, naked, thing, to a beautiful fluffy blue-green donkey-steed.

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I have long since left the oil changing place and gone through my day and done many things and seen many things and managed to take the fun and make it the stressful when I used to be really good at the other way around. 

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I love my new house, very much. But I’m going to miss my trees. I should plant a lemon one.