That Time I Got Hit by the Crazy Train

Dear Diary,

I broke a bone yesterday. It’s ok though, the bone is a small one. I know what caused it too, I got hit by a train.

Even though I got hit by the Crazy Train 9 months ago…the physical manifestations of a hit that hard take a long time to show themselves.

Remember when I wrote about disembarking the Crazy Train back in October? No? You can read it here…Disembarking the Crazy Train.

I was woefully ignorant on how far the crazy engineer (my Narcissistic Mother) would go to make me pay for that.

Stupid me…acting all strong and thinking by disembarking the Crazy Train I could actually get away from it. Oh no…that’s not how the crazy train works. By disembarking I actually bumped the Crazy up to a whole new level. I should have seen it coming, but I got hit from behind.

After a lifetime of crazy, what could possibly have affected me so deeply that it has taken me 9 months to actually write about it? That’s easy. She hit me in the place where I am most vulnerable. By inviting all of the people I love the most to ride her Crazy Train. The people I hold dearest. Who are those people you ask?

My children and my deceased sister’s children (also my children I like to think).

She wrote one of her poison letters to me and sent copies to all of them. The most poisonous of all. She has outdone herself.

By the grace of God, I was out traveling when my copy came in the mail. My daughter picked up the mail, opened my copy and read it. Evidently it was so evil that she threw it away (or so she said), and never intended to let me know of it’s existence. She intended to try and protect me from my own Mother.

It worked for a few weeks evidently, but she felt guilty deceiving me and finally broke down and told me about it. My daughter said the letter was so bad that she was hoping none of it was true. She went on to say that we could  pretend it never existed, but there were copies sent to other family members.

With just those few words I was pushed, and started freefalling, into a deep crevasse. Like anyone who is falling, I tried desperately to self arrest the descent. Clawing at the sides of the deepest and darkest places in my mind to keep some sight of where the light might be so I could find my way back out.

I started with damage control. I called my niece to ask if she had received a copy of the letter. I could tell by the pity in her voice that she had. Here’s how the rest of the conversation went.

Niece – “Auntie did you read it?”

Me – “No, Daughter (not her real name ha!) intercepted it and threw it away.”

Niece – “Good for Daughter, nobody should have to read something like that.”

What? I thought I knew what my Narcissistic Mother was capable of, but how bad did it have to be that NOBODY should have to read it?

I assured her that none of it was true…but this rang hollow with both my niece and I since I hadn’t actually read it.

With that I was yet again sent spiraling down the rabbit hole even further.

I called my son. “Yes Mom, I got it.” I tried to downplay it with “well you know how Nana is.”

“Yes he said, I know how she is. I called her and she told me that she never wanted to see or hear from you again after how badly you abused her when you took her on vacation with you last June.”

WTF?

Trying to self arrest again I said, “You mean when I tried to take her to one of her favorite places in the world and make it perfect for her because she may never make it there again? That time?”

My son replied, “Yes, but Nana has a much different story Mom. She said you abused her, are evil, and you will bring us down with you into hell if we go around you. Don’t worry Mom, we know that can’t be true.”

Falling…still falling.

Before I bid him goodbye I tell my son, “Please don’t tell me anymore of what Nana said. Not if you love me and want me to stay on this Earth.” But he continued on anyway…”she said to tell you never to contact her again, and when she dies she doesn’t want you at her funeral.” I think he thought by telling me this he would be igniting a fire in me to fight back. But that’s not how this dysfunctional relationship ever plays out. I may be mad, but I know better than to get into the ring with a narcissist. They fight dirty.

I told my son I had to go and hung up the phone.

Injustice has always been something I can’t endure. And now…I stand accused and convicted of a crime I not only didn’t, but wouldn’t commit. Evidently there was much more slander in the poisoned letter, but who cares what it said. Just this little taste was so toxic I was rendered paralyzed. She played the “victimized little old blind lady” card.

So here I am. In a deep hole. So dark that I have no  idea which way is up. I am 5 years old again and so full of self loathing that I am quite sure that not even Jesus could love me. So enraged that if I have to share heaven with her, I don’t want to go.

Depression has always been an ugly word to me. I know it’s real, I have the suicides of my Daddy and little sister to remind me. But I hate the word because my dear Mother used it as a crutch to make everyone wait on her. “I’m too depressed to get up.” was her mantra, thereby (as the oldest) creating a overdeveloped sense of being responsible for EVERYTHING and EVERYONE around me. I loathe the word.

But a perfect storm was already set into motion and depression was bearing down on me. Just a couple of minor things happening at the same time as my Mother’s newest betrayal and I was down for the count. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t even get out of bed for a couple of days.

I normally am a master of disguise. I can fool even the most intuitive of audiences. So I feigned illness (well I feigned physical illness anyway), which is another of my taboos, while I desperately clawed at the sides of my dark prison to find a way out. The more I struggled, the deeper it seemed to get. Like a psychotic quicksand.

When I finally was able to get up and put on my cloak of normalcy, I was out of step with the world. Standing in line at a store, I looked around me and wondered if they could tell I was an illusion? Would they notice the real me was being held in a prison of pain with no hope of being helped back out?

That’s the conundrum of depression. When you need to be saved from yourself, you cannot ask for it. Depression steals hope. It steals even the idea that you might be worth saving. I didn’t even bother talking to God because I was sure he could not hear me from this place.

The more I told myself that I didn’t care, the more my auto-immune disorder was fueled into a full blown flare that even now is not quieted.

So the months passed in this suspended state of desperation. Going through the motions of daily routines so that the dark musings in my mind could not be detected. How often did I wish for death to deliver me? Every. Single. Day.

But as I clawed desperately at my prison walls, I remembered a familiarity of this place. I had been here before. Many times. In the past, when I finally made it out of this dark place, I would block out the memory that I was ever there. And now it is a slow realization that this is the place my Narcissistic Mother and Abusive Step-Father made me call home when I was growing up.

So I stopped clawing. I sat quietly and waited for redemption, if there was to even be any I couldn’t be sure. My mother had pulled the rug out from under me and I was left with all the dirt I had swept under it. So fresh I could still taste the blood in my mouth from the beatings, so real I could feel the terror as I heard my step-father’s car door close when he came home from work. And so alone.

But I kept still in my dark place. I knew that nobody would come for me. I was trapped deep in my mind. So deep, I couldn’t even find myself. I dared not look in a mirror. I would be looking at a ghost.

stock-photo-a-woman-covers-her-face-reflected-in-a-broken-mirror-or-the-shattered-life-concept-141673471

And then I saw it, a tiny crack of light. Through the tiny crack of light, I heard a voice. A familiar one say, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Oh my gosh. I remembered how I got out so many times before now. I remembered that it wasn’t me that found my way of my own private hell, it was my faith. I remembered that nobody can be so far gone that they can’t be found.

Even though I thought I could never write in my Diary again (because remember I have to be honest), I remembered that I am already a MAD baby boomer …so I have set the bar low. I can’t really let you down then, can I Diary?

My daughter asked me to find something in her room for her recently (she is living somewhere else but hasn’t actually moved out of her room yet), when I ran across the letter from my Mother she said had been trashed.

On the back of the envelope it said, “I know you are prone to throwing things away, but you really need to read this.”

No…I don’t Mom. I really don’t. You are done here.

I promptly trashed it.

I am still deeply angry at my Momster for running me over with her Crazy Train. I am still paying for it through my dis-ease. My dark auto-immune passenger is not easily put back to sleep. But I remembered that the best medicine is also the sweetest revenge.

HAPPINESS.

So I do what I always do when faced with a long climb to get back to the top of the  happiness scale. I turn to my bucket list and book a trip. I can happily announce I have six months to get back into physical shape and be ready for hiking, biking, and kayaking NEW ZEALAND!

As for all of the kids? Nothing’s changed. Turns out that the letter really says more about her than it does about me. And the broken bone? It will heal. They always do.

Yay! I’m so excited and HAPPY! Did you hear that Mom?

I win.

Until next time dearest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Disembarking the Crazy Train.

Dear Diary,

Seven years.

Seven years is how long it takes for me to think if I try hard enough, I CAN achieve that Norman Rockwell visit with my mother.

Seven years is how long it takes for me to forget that we can’t hope for Norman Rockwell, because we are more of a Norman Bates clan.

Remember that trip I took to the Redwoods earlier in the summer? I invited my mother to come along. In most families, that would be a good thing, but in mine that is a certifiably crazy thing.

My dear narcissistic mother.

Seven years is how long it takes for me to forget that she doesn’t like me. I shan’t forget again. Of course I said that seven years ago, and I did.

No matter how much I plan, how perfect I make it, how much money I spend, or how much I think all of that will make it Norman Rockwell…it doesn’t. In fact, I’m calling bullshit on you Norman Rockwell. I don’t think that ideal family picture exists for anyone. And if it does, I don’t want to know about it.

It started out so perfectly innocent, like in the horror films where you go on a family vacation and don’t expect that one of you will morph into a monster. A Momster I mean.

Except this is not new. This is not a virus. This is not the result of a rabid animal bite. These behaviors are based on a 57 year old dysfunctional relationship.

It’s always the same. She gets mad at me for some perceived slight and I cower and beg for her forgiveness. She stops speaking to me and I beg her to tell me why. I apologize over and over even though I have no idea what I did to warrant her anger.

So why did I pick the time my daughter and her fiancé were with us to stand up to my Momster? I haven’t got a clue.

Why did I choose to stand up to her in the confines of a Chevy Suburban where none of us were able to escape? I have no idea.

But I’m not sorry.

I am sorry that my daughter’s fiancé had to see me turn into a crazy person, but baptism by fire I say. Let’s see how serious he is about my daughter. Let’s see how much he can take. I am laughing as I type this. Crazy maniacal laughter.

My husband said it best when he compared my Mother and I’s relationship to fish. It’s good at first, but after three days it starts to stink.

I hate it when he’s right.

Ever since I have been home from that trip, I have been wracked with regret, anger, confusion, and worst of all…self loathing. So much self loathing that I imagine doing myself harm.

I don’t wonder why my sister committed suicide. I know why. I’m going to kick her ass when I see her again for leaving me here all alone to deal with our Momster.

I have healed just enough from our vacation to realize I may have gotten out of the Suburban, but I’m still riding the crazy train. And so is she. In fact, my Momster is the engineer.

And just like every time before, she is sending me the predictable hate mail. The follow up letters. The one where she uses bible scripture to outline why I’m going to hell. The one where she drudges up childhood failures. The one where she takes no responsibility whatsoever for getting angry for no apparent reason. She never remembers that part.

Luckily I was in Havasupai Arizona when the poison penned correspondence arrived. My daughter opened it and was horrified at it’s contents. She threw it away in an attempt to save me from it. Little does she know I already know what it says. It’s the same as all of the those before it, and the same as those yet to be written.

Because she is far from done with me yet.

But I am going to have to disembark the crazy train. I have reached the end of the line. As much as I have been trained (pun intended) to ride it out with her, I can’t do it anymore.

Until I forget again.

Only seven years to go.

 

 

A DIY Bathroom Makeover and Marriage Encounter Workshop

Dear diary,

The DIY bathroom makeover was intentional, the marriage encounter workshop was accidental and resultant of the aforementioned.

I know, I’m as surprised as you.

Here is a photo of the bathroom before and after;

Before

Before

After

After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wish I could provide a before and after of the marriage encounter, but we look the same on the outside. Only the dynamics changed.

Significantly.

Enough time has passed since the completion of this project so that I can revisit it without a divorce attorney. I’m kidding of course! Sort of.

So here goes.

My bucket list is comprised not only of places I’d like to go, but things I’d like to do. A DIY project placed high on that “to do” list.

I always promised myself after I retired that I would undertake making over rooms in my house for several reasons;

Save money. A reliable end result that resembles what I envisioned. Enrich my skill set. Work as a handy partner with my handy hubby who can do anything (MacGyver style).

Ah…how naïve I was. If I knew then what I know now I would run not walk, to the nearest contractor and gleefully hand over my hard earned savings.

But I was blissfully ignorant.

It started out simple enough. A small remark made offhandedly after dinner when we sat in our respective places in front of the TV on our iPads (I’m not proud of that but I have promised to always keep it real). He was doing whatever it is he usually does, and I was coveting admiring on Pinterest all of the luscious photos of what other people have done with various rooms of their homes.

I came across one where some other handy soul had framed a large builders mirror (late 80’s/early 90’s) in such a way that it made it look like like separate mirrors. I shall use our finished product as an example here because I no longer have the one that inspired me.

Before

Before

After

After

Big generic builders mirror before. This is our guest bathroom that used to be our kids bathroom. If that isn’t enough said to illustrate what this bathroom has been through, you’ve never had kids. Not to mention the headquarters for my niece’s wedding party, and at least 5 proms worth of girls. My son was easy. Lots of fond memories, but I was over the look.

Big generic builders mirror after. The shelving unit is hiding the middle section of mirror.

I told you he is handy.

Ahem, back to my story.

I was showing him the before and after similar to the photo above and at right, and here came the reply that started it all….

“I can do that”.

He began to get a clue of what that statement started when I began asking 7,000 questions (I didn’t really count, it may have been more) about what a room makeover entailed, where to begin, what supplies we would need, etc. etc. etc.

He said we would need to remove the carpeting first.

I would later ascertain that what he meant was “someday when we get ready to take on this project”. He would shortly find out that by virtue of asking, I was creating an action list.

Imagine his horror when he woke up the next day to what I had so proudly accomplished, which was pulling up the carpet and exposing this layer of linoleum underneath. I restrained my gag reflexes when I was so proudly showing him what I’d done, like a little kid that had just cut their own hair.

That’s glue on the linoleum, by the way. Yuck.

IMG_0711

In hindsight I suppose something inside of me knew that this was a calculated “no going back” move, but I was consciously driven by my optimistic “can do” attitude and a very loose grasp on exactly how long a true make-over takes.

He was furious, and I couldn’t figure out why. I was willing to do all the work, he just had to give me verbal guidance on the steps. What was so hard about that?

He went out to get a scraping tool for me (he is Tim the Tool Man Taylor in this regard) and after a short demonstration, I began to bring up the linoleum. I made good progress even though I can promise you I would have rather been doing anything else. The small bathroom without a window instantly smelled like the dank concrete in a basement. Yuck. I was feeling better and better about my abilities when I powered through the eeby geebies of it.

When he came back to check on me (it was still early in the game, he would know better than to do this later on) I just happened to be using this tool to pry up the wood tack strips (don’t be impressed, I had to look up what those are called) along the wall.

He. Came. Undone.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING”? (Oh yes, he was shouting) He posed this as a question, but since he didn’t give me time to reply…I can only assume it was rhetorical.

“YOU”RE GOING TO RUIN THAT TOOL”!

Is he serious? I’m going to ruin this heavy metal tool by prying on some little old wood strips? I suspect this is a gross over exaggeration, but I was still willing to be his whipping boy in order to get the job done.

He rolled his eyes and turned to go get the right tool, all the while muttering obscenities under his breath. What was the big deal? Why didn’t he just bring me the right tools to begin with? This question went through my mind, but I knew better than to actually ask it. Even rhetorically.

He finished the floor in a huff.

Whatever.

In hindsight, this should have been a huge red flag that while opposites attract, they probably don’t work well on DIY projects together. More on that later.

My hubby suggested I be the one to remove the cupboard doors and drawer. I struggled even with that. Who knew there are two kinds of Phillips head screwdrivers? I didn’t. He nearly lost it again, but I had not “rounded out” his screwdriver yet, so I survived. Sheesh.

I’m not going to lie. I was not removing the toilet. He did that. And put some sort of cover over the hole. Did you know there is a wax ring around the base of toilets? Very messy. Very very messy. And gross. Very gross. But I hung in there.

I did an exceptional job of cleaning up at this point (notice the supplies neatly arranged on the saw horse thingy). The hub remained unimpressed.

bathroom paint ready

Already I was feeling a tinge bit under-appreciated. I should have paid more attention to that.

We removed the huge builder’s mirror and safely tucked it away. The hubster suggested we cut a pool noodle and use it as a foam edging to protect the mirror. He’s hard to be mad at when he’s this brilliant. You feel me?

We had to turn it around since our little Lucy was having no part of the doggie in the mirror. She’s funny.

mirror

The next step was to paint. I don’t need any help with that. I had already decided that the walls and counter top would be grey, and the cabinetry would be white. I set out to get a sample of the grey I thought I wanted.

As it turns out, there are more than 50 shades of grey – and I went through quite a few of them before I found just the right one. I spent one whole day prepping to paint. Being an anal retentive does not mesh well with DIY.

dexterized bathroomI started painting and after I was almost done with the walls, the hubby came in and said, “Can I give you some advice”?

This was not rhetorical since he was giving me time to answer. So it must be a trick question then. Yes that’s it, a trick question. I was going to have to bite here because I didn’t have a trick answer.

“Yes” I said. He replies, “Why didn’t you start with the ceiling”?

This is not advice. This is another question. He is waiting for me to answer. I don’t know why I didn’t start with the ceiling. It sort of makes sense now that he’s asking me, but I am beginning to resent his tone.

“I don’t know why. Why you didn’t offer the advice BEFORE I started to paint”? I replied with a tone of my own.  This was totally rhetorical on my part.

“You don’t need to get defensive” he says.

“I’m sorry, I’m just tired” I say.

He replies, “So am I, I already have a full time job remember”? Totally rhetorical on his part since he is walking away while still talking.

There it is. An aha moment for me. Had just this short time of retirement already made me insensitive to impinging on the valuable time of others? This silenced me in the moment, but was a preview of upcoming attractions with sharp exchanges that are out of character for us most other times. I say most.

I sanded and painted and sanded and painted and sanded and painted (3 coats) the vanity both inside and out. When my hubby came in to replace the water pipe doodads to a higher quality, he said I shouldn’t have spent so much time on the inside since nobody would see it. Really?

I would know it, therefore I would see it.

But I kept this comment to myself. Evidently he doesn’t know how far a “good job” would have gone. All those years of management school and all I can use it for now is to a critical end with my talented but communication challenged other half.

Before this project began, I logged countless hours researching the best method of painting cabinets. I finally settled on an acrylic alkyd based paint along with Zinsser primer. We invested in a paint sprayer since I knew this would probably not be my last painting project.

Just for the record, there is more than 50 shades of white too. I finally settled on Swan White from Benjamin Moore who I have to thank for making me a paint snob.

I couldn’t use the paint sprayer indoors though, so the vanity was done the old fashioned way. With a brush.

Pay no never mind to how beige that tub/shower looks next to the new white vanity. Since it was not in our budget to replace, I had a plan.

vanity2

I commandeered the shed in a corner of our yard and moved everything out while transforming it into my temporary paint room where I would paint the vanity doors, drawer, faux drawer fronts, and bathroom door.

paint shed

We had to have the insides of the vanity doors cut out by a friend (in exchange for some valuable spirits) and my husband put bead board in it’s place. The hubby removed the bathroom door because I was reluctant to beat on the long pin with a hammer. That’s what I told him anyway. The real reason is I just didn’t trust myself with a weapon at that time.  We wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt. Right?

More sanding.  It doesn’t take long for those finger tips to scream “enough”! I used to have nails…

ouch

I had painted two coats and had sanded in preparation for the third in just under 2 weeks time. When I turned on the paint sprayer and pulled the handle to spray, it sputtered and spit large chunks of paint all over the cabinets and when I brought it up to look at it (while nurturing a healthy disbelief) it managed to spit on the door too.

Aaaaaaaargh! I had to start all over.

Meanwhile, my daughter and I were taking turns being the whipping boy for MacGyver. It became a joke between us, when he would call for one of us, that person would tell the other one, “you owe me”. When a string of cuss words would precede the calling of a name…the stakes were higher and no words needed to be said by the unlucky one chosen to go into the fire that time. There was no flying under the radar for this build.

His framing and shelving were coming along and I knew when he would drop something off at the paint shed, it was my duty to paint it and give it back for his next step.

Since it was my project, it fell on me to pick out the counter top at a builder’s surplus warehouse which was quite a distance from my house.

It took a whole day, but mission accomplished. Exactly the color and style I wanted at a bargain price. Woohoo! It took all three of us and a pulley system my hubby rigged up to get it in, but what a difference.

My daughter literally ran back to college from Spring Break at home with Mom and Dad.

He walked me through how to adhere the backsplash and I managed that one without supervision.

sink top

Now we were firing on all cylinders, except for one thing. See how hubby put up that pretty bead board on the walls?

He forgot to have me paint it first (this photo was taken after I painted the bead board).

Really? If I didn’t know better I would think he was torturing me intentionally now. Do you know how hard it is for paint to self level (I learned this the prior two weeks with all of the other painting I’d done) when it’s not laying flat? PLUS now I had to worry about getting paint on my pretty gray walls.

Arrrrrrrrrrgh.

This is beginning to be like a bad Laurel and Hardy movie. A silent film, because we were barely speaking at this point.

Luckily the end result was so stunning, it propelled me to keep going with the vanity doors again. What a difference eh?

by toilet

I didn’t use the paint sprayer anymore. I couldn’t trust it, so we weren’t friends at all. I used the old fashioned way, and in another two weeks (Before you judge how long it took me, I still have other chores to do remember)…voila.

vanitydoors

Finally done.

The tile floor was next, and oh how I dreaded working that closely with the Grinch who had stolen my make-over joy. As he explained to me how to ensure we were getting a straight edge on a crooked floor (it’s amazing how many things are crooked and slapped together even in an upscale track home), and how we had to lay out each tile with the spacers, I began to get a deep appreciation for what he had gone through when he laid the tile in our master bathroom while I was at work. I had no idea.

He also created a tool that would enable him to cut such small tiles in whatever size we needed. Of course he did, ’cause he’s MacGyver. I was still mad at him though. Especially when he kept hitting the vanity with grey tile grout and I was endlessly touching up. After 2 days we finished and I had to hand it to him…he knows his stuff. And yes, I put shelf paper in the vanity to temper the affects of him setting his tools on my beautiful paint job.

tile2

Next up was the mirror back onto the wall (whew…intact) and the frame. This was the origin of much colorful language as he worked on and around the mirror.  While most people on pinterest glue their frames right onto the mirror, he insisted this wasn’t safe and actually built a frame for the frame. Yes, those are 5 gallon stir sticks on the side. Hey don’t judge, we didn’t have to pay California’s “wood fee” (WTH?) on those, and they were precisely the width we needed.

frame for frame2

At this point we had to rewire the light bar for two light bars, one over each sink. While this is not new for him, I am terrified of electricity so believe me when I say this couldn’t get done fast enough. He hung the new light bars and I could finally throw away that tired old broken thing. When I asked my kids who broke the end bulb holder, they of course didn’t know. Someone must have broken in and done it while we were gone. Kids are funny.

lightbars

The photos are taken at various stages so please forgive. I am shocked I remembered to take any at all since we were pretty focused on the finish line at this point. The actual frame  and shelving unit still had to go up so the cussing was not over.

Once again, he focused on safety and rather than rely on the mirror to hold the weight of the shelves, he cut it perfectly to contour the backsplash so that it was self supported but covered the mirror behind it.

shelving close up

He added molding and bead board for aesthetics and it was ready for final paint. Frame and shelving unit photo below. Notice all of those tools under the sink on my beautiful vanity shelf with no shelf paper in sight? Notice the light bulb and globe that was collateral damage? Nope, me neither on both counts. There is no place for anal retentives here, believe it.

shelfandframes2

The only miscalculation was the slightly larger bottom shelf which I assured him was fine. I would make a floral bouquet to fit and nobody would be the wiser. See how  agreeable and supportive I am? Management school charm I tell ya. My hubby would probably disagree.

The larger reality however, was that although I had claimed this as my vision and project, the dramatic transformations were as a result of MacGyver’s time and talent.

The new faucets I had picked out to match the overall 1920’s theme were put in and I added the decorations I had made and purchased along the way to the shelving unit and sink top. The vanity doors were put on with the new handles (he was mad that I got them at Hobby Lobby, I guess they were more fragile than ones you might find in a hardware store. Who knew?) and after cussing and a couple of replacements (like the globe), we were good to go. Did I mention that he dropped his drill down the front of one of the vanity doors and it had to go back to paint? No? It must have slipped my mind.

As for framing the medicine cabinet, that was purely his idea and not part of my original vision. Credit where credit is due.

I had found and spray painted an old frame, painted a piece of plywood with chalkboard paint, added some flowers, and I wrote how I was feeling on it before it was hung.

pictureframe

The original bouguet I had made that inspired me to choose the 20’s theme went onto the new toilet my hubby installed (more cussing and yelling, and me cleaning up after a wax ring. Not my favorite.). I embellished the old soap dispenser to match the new décor. I picked up curtains at WalMart to hide the buttercream colored bath/shower. New throw rugs from Target added color to the floor.

It was almost done.

babyboomer2

I chose artwork from magazine covers (off of the internet) from the 1920’s depicting how women were changing after the 19th amendment. All in yellow, white, grey and black. My hubby put up the new towel rack and we were finally, finally done.

pictures

I love those before and after shots don’t you? The medicine chest is visible here.

Bathroom ipad22

Stay with me…this is the last one I promise…

bathroom ipad42

How could two people who have raised two terribly wonderful children and built a life together for 23 years, struggle to work harmoniously on a DIY project? I am going with the theory that like Hemingway and Picasso, he is a talent that works best alone. As for his tortured muse? I just don’t fit into that roll so well. But having successfully gone through the fire, we are richer for it. Would I go through it again on another room? Not on your life.

So if you are wondering what your relationship is made of, don’t bother with opinions. Just take on a sizable DIY project together. Who knows? Something beautiful just might come out of it.

Until next time dearest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pacific Coast Highway Day 8 – Cannon Beach to Seattle/ Trip Conspectus

Dear Diary,

To be more accurate this post should say; Pacific Coast Highway – Cannon Beach to Astoria, because it was there I decided to head inland and catch the 5 freeway to Seattle, which I easily made in 4 hours.

My reasons for hightailing it to Seattle?  After 7 days on Pacific Coast Highway I was tired and longed to be at my destination where I would spend more than one night, I had finally found the answers I was looking for and more, and finally the Astoria Bridge.

Have you ever seen that bridge in Astoria over the Columbia River? Yikes! Truthfully, that was the tie breaker. If I had just started out on this trek I would’ve said “hell yeah let’s do this”, but I was 7 days into some pretty challenging driving solo.

In short…it scared the crap out of me. If I wanted to drive on water I’d ask Jesus to take the wheel, but I don’t. ‘Nuff said.

Astoria Bridge

Now for the good part of this story…Seattle.

I pulled into town with the usual metropolis view of high-rises and traffic, traffic everywhere.  Any big city can be so intimidating, especially when you have absolutely no idea where you are. But when I finally landed…

Oh. My. Gosh.

Seattle is so much more than I imagined. It reminds me of this coast’s most southern city (San Diego) for how clean it is. Like a sparkling gem between the blue of the sky and the blue of the water (the weather was on it’s best behavior while I was there).

I was a shameless tourist from that point on. I spent time at Pike’s Place Market which has been continuously in operation since it opened in 1907.

PikesMarket

I spent all day here and in Pioneer Square. Just a few words that come to mind when I think of this place…

History, people, coffee, wine, cheese, fish, art, books, music, blue sky, white clouds…never mind, too many wonderful words come to mind and I’ll lose you.

I took a photo of this totem pole, and what is most prevalent is the unbelievably beautiful sky, I just couldn’t get enough of it.

Seattlesky

…and yet another of Pioneer Square…

Seattlesky2

Which sits on Elliot Bay…

Seattleport…and as a shameless tourist how could I leave out the Space Needle?

SpaceNeedle

It was an absolute pleasure to walk this part of town (the only part I got to see actually) where even the alleys were clean and lovely…is it a law to maintain them this way? LA might want to think about incorporating it if so…

Seattlealley

They say there is 697 things to do in Seattle and I’m a little mad at myself that I only did about 4 (I really really wanted to take the underground tour but ran out of time), so I have much work to do when I go back someday. That’s the only way I could bear to say good-bye to most of the places I landed on this trip…to promise myself I would be back (sorry Eureka and Gold Beach, you didn’t make the cut) and soon.

When I finally headed home I was changed. This trip had cleansed my soul and enabled so many truths to bubble up to my sphere of awareness over the 3,000 miles I traveled. The foremost of these is one truth that I have made my mantra.

Guard Your Hope…Not Your Heart.

I had been given the heart of so many and given mine as often on this trip. With the care of God and strangers (including the ghostly friend I made) I was lifted up to see above and beyond the physical, emotional, and soulful pain I had started this journey with.

I was healed in every sense of the word.

Our hearts are meant to be given with abandon to whomever would take or even steal it. Naturally along with all of the rewards of giving your heart, there will be those that break, betray, and reject it…but those are the exceptions, and the heart will recover (even when it seems it never will).

Love is the greatest gift of all, and although it sounds existential, I believe you really do get back what you put out there. So give it wantonly and without limitations or conditions.

But hold onto your hope. Guard it jealously and never let it be lost or stolen. Feed it with the good times to sustain it through the hard times when hope is all that is left. Hope and faith seem so fragile, but they are stronger than we know and are able to guide us through anything.

And I mean anything.

There would be much work to do after I got home to repair the damage done to our relationship…but both my husband and I had been changed by my solo trip and we would start that work as soon as I landed at my front door.

If I ever forget to not be afraid of an uncertain future, how strong I am with only God to guide me, or what it feels like to be very far away from my comfort zone…I shall again hop into my trusty steed and head out to horizons unknown.

As should you, if you don’t know the answer to…WOULD I BE ALRIGHT ALONE?

I now know the answer for me, but you need to find the answer for you.

Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible Mustang GT by myself Bucket List Item – check.

This is not the end of my journey dear diary, after returning home we purchased a Harley Davidson motorcycle (I know riiiiiiiight?) and the adventures started anew…

‘Til next time.

 

 

A Bucket List Expose’ – An Affair of the Heart

Dear Diary,

The only guideline I gave myself when I started writing to you dear diary was that I had to be honest. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…as I know it.

I hate it when I do that.

I want to tell you so badly about my Pacific Coast Highway triumph, but I cannot do that unless I tell the truth of what motivated me to accomplish the solo trip from LA to Seattle.

It’s a painful truth.

Let me set the stage – April 2013. I had been off of work for 3 months and was still fighting for my life. I had not told anyone of the severity of my illness, that’s not how I was raised.

When things get darkest, I was taught from a young age to go inside. Don’t expose the monsters, don’t ask for help. Silence was rewarded.

My job had just let me go for being sick and in exchange for my silence on the matter and a 5k settlement, I signed an agreement that I would not pursue legal action.

I was too sick to care about legal action. I gladly signed it just to be over the LOA extensions and hostility I perceived every time I let them know I wasn’t getting better.

Still…it was a blow to both my ego and my pocketbook. I had not been without an income since I was 15 years old, which was 40 years. The 5k was only about 7 days worth of salary for me. They got off cheap.

I had never been faced with something I couldn’t overcome. Once I set my mind to achieve something, I don’t let go until it’s done. Being sick was new to me, and as hard as I tried, I could not affect the outcome.

If I’m being honest (and I have to be now that I made that rash promise to you diary), I knew deep down that I had been sick for a few years, but I kept talking myself out of it. I kept telling myself “it must just be from getting older, or it’s just stress, or I’m just tired, or I just need to eat better, or I just need to get more exercise.”

All of that was true to some extent, but the real culprit was the dark passenger ravaging my body. That’s what I call it.

Science calls it “Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder with Autonomic Involvement”. Those are fancy words that mean I have disease overlap between Lupus, Scleroderma, and Polymyositis with Rheumatoid Arthritis thrown in for good measure. The autonomic involvement is just a fancy word for saying my esophagus doesn’t work.

You would think I’d be thinner.

I was finally motivated to go to the doctor when I got up from my desk at 10:00 at night (I was the only one left in the building thank God), and the world went dark. I woke up looking at the underbelly of my desk. I’d never seen it from that angle before.

Kind of a Dead Poet Society moment.

I went to a doctor the next day and found that my heart was under attack. The unchecked disorder was damaging my ticker and it was in critical danger. Who knew? No matter how hard you try, you can’t will the heart into getting back in the game if it is marching to the beat of it’s own drummer.

By April 2013, my heart was showing signs of improvement. Not completely out of the woods yet…but at least it was not boldly marching down it’s fatal path.

But this wasn’t the catalyst for the bucket list trip. Not by a long shot.

I was lonely and not a little bored. I had been cut off from the outside world. My friendships were mostly work-related, so I had not had social contact for 4 months. My world had gotten pitifully small and silent.

The day came when I heard my hubby’s phone go off so I picked it up and looked at the text from his best friend Steve. They were discussing the upcoming “guy” weekend they were planning at our house in Arizona.

Mind you, in 20 years of marriage I had not checked his wallet, his phone, his pockets, his car, or anything else. I trusted him completely.

I read the text because I was hungry for some sort of outside contact. Any kind of interaction would do, even if it wasn’t mine.

It was delicious, so I didn’t stop there. I opened his recent texts and there it was. The catalyst. One text of three little words.

 “Wear something sexy.”

And it wasn’t sent to me.

It was to a female friend of his (let’s call her Tran) who he had arranged to meet on his way to work and sell some ammo to.

Well Wyatt Earp, you just shot me. Through.The. Heart.

The heart I was already so desperately trying to mend. The heart that was already at risk. The heart already under attack.

Except this blow was not from a dark passenger, it was from the person closest to me, my partner, my best friend, my mate.

Who is this guy? I felt like I suddenly didn’t know him at all.

I floundered. And true to my roots, I dove deep inside. I revealed nothing.

This was not a new pain. Although it had been many years, betrayal was not new. My mother betrayed us when she didn’t save us from my step-father. My first husband betrayed me with a co-worker when I was pregnant with our child.

So why am I always so surprised?

I had this roiling and seething inside of me for 2 weeks. The anger was building. The anger at being betrayed, the anger at having to deal with this while I was still trying to get back to good with my dark passenger, the anger at having this occur when I am 55 years old and supposed to be enjoying life, the anger at feeling like a fool.

Then came the monsters.

The ones that tell me it must be my fault somehow. The ones that tell me I must be unlovable. The ones that tell me I don’t deserve to be happy. The ones that tell me to pretend like it never happened so I don’t have to deal with the truth.

Not this time monsters. I am older and wiser now. I don’t have the time or energy for a trip down self destruction lane.

This couldn’t have come at a worse time. I’d lost my job, I’d lost my health, I’d even lost my figure thanks to the rapid weight gain from the massive amount of steroids and other medications I’d been taking for the last 4 months. I didn’t even recognize myself in the mirror anymore. And now I’d lost my trust?

I’d lost my way.

It finally all came to a head at…of all places…a Wal Mart.

Let me just say, I have an abhorrence of public scenes. People who air their dirty laundry by arguing loudly in public have a lack of self control or a desperate need for attention in my book.

On this day I had gone with him to Wal Mart and true to his nature, Wyatt Earp insisted upon stopping by the ammo section. The Area Manager told him that they were expecting a large shipment of .22’s if he wanted to wait. There was already a line forming.

He asked if I minded waiting. I didn’t. What else did I have to do?

Then I remembered that .22 shells were what had brought Tran and Wyatt together on his way to work. Did she wear something sexy that night (he works off shifts)? Like a holster maybe?

I walked away, pretending like I was doing other shopping (I hate Wal Mart, so this is out of character for me normally). I could feel the anger doing a slow boil. It was dangerously close to spilling over.

2 hours later Wyatt called me and told me he had the .22’s and was ready to go. I could meet him at the check out lanes. He again thanked me for waiting around. I told him that it was fine as long as he didn’t sell them to someone he had arranged to meet on the way to work and had told to wear something sexy.

There it was. I spilled the beans in Wal Mart, a very public place. They had boiled over and right out of my mouth. Like anger vomit.

The realization of what I’d said visibly went through his mind and onto his face.

He has no problem with public scenes. His family is notorious for them.

He hissed at me, “You invaded my privacy?”

What? That’s what the issue was in his mind? Here comes the cray cray feeling.

I walked out and waited by the car. I wasn’t going to rebut in Wal Mart.

When he got in the car he was mad. HE WAS MAD. I love that.

I finally rebutted, “The only people who need privacy in a relationship are the ones who have something to hide or something to protect. Which is it with you?”

He said, “I don’t have anything to hide. I sent that text to test you to see if you checked my phone.”

“How convenient”, I replied. “Let’s just say I was buying that, which I’m not, but if I were…why would you send the text to Tran? She thinks it’s real.”

He said, “No she doesn’t, she was in on the test.”

He was not helping his case. This put me over the anger edge.

“You brought in a woman, a third person into our relationship to TEST me? Now I really don’t buy it. I’d like to think you are not that stupid.”

“I didn’t really think about it that way. It was an innocent text. It’s not like you caught me going out on you. After all, if I was going to go out on you, do you think I would be with someone like Tran?”

This just keeps getting better.

“Really? Now you’re going to be insulted by WHO you would NOT choose to go out on me with?” I said incredulously.

“The point is this…do you REALLY think that I would ever go out on you?” was his rebuttal.

“No, but I also would not have believed that you would ask someone to wear something sexy to meet for a late night business exchange. You were flirting, whether or not you meant it to TEST me, at the end of the day it wasn’t about me. It was about you, and I’m done talking about it. I need to think where I go from here.”

To make a long story longer, we managed to have quite a few more very loud arguments (in private) about it.

When he left for his “guy” weekend, I decided since I was already accused of being a privacy invader, what did I have to lose?

NEVER, EVER underestimate a woman’s ability to find shit out when she’s mad.

I hacked his mail, his ipad, his computer. I found a couple of photos of him, Tran, and a woman we shall call Piggy (for obvious reasons, just sayin’) in the garage of our Arizona house partying. Piggy’s long standing crush on Wyatt was a joke among our friends who enjoyed ribbing him about it.

I wasn’t laughing anymore.

The date on these photos were at a time that I was still working 6 days a week, 12 to 16 hours a day. For us. For our future, while he was partying with Tran and Piggy at our other house?

It wasn’t a smoking gun, but still this was more than I could take.

I needed a time out. I needed to think. Away from this place. Away from everyone.

Belatedly I realized that I had no support system in place for this kind of thing. My little sister had been my support system, and she was gone.

A nagging question begged to be answered.

Would I be ok alone?

I hadn’t been alone since I was 20 years old, and  a short year after getting married, became a single Mom.

The nagging question became a shouting question. WOULD I BE OK ALONE?

I didn’t have an answer. I truly didn’t know. I needed to know. More than I needed anything else.

And my heart needed to heal. In so many ways.

I turned to a very unlikely source for comfort. I turned to my bucket list…and the solo Pacific Coast Highway trip was born.

The fun begins next time dear diary.