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Excitement ’round these parts

August 26, 2009

1. The owner of our former property management company (we live in a condominium complex) has apparently been arrested for embezzlement. Twenty thousand dollars are missing from the HOA coffers. A few weeks ago, our HOA leaders caught wind of what was going on, hurried to transfer as much of our collective savings as they could into a new account, confronted the swindler, and hired another manager, who now has to clean up the mess. 

2. Blur started daycare this morning. We hesitated and hemmed and hawed and kind of agonized over this decision, but we think it’s for the best. Life was assuming a frenetic pace that neither WAHD nor I was keeping up with. Two and a half days a week, Blur will go to our neighbor’s house while WAHD and I work. We’re not thrilled about paying someone else to look after our child (though we certainly trust her), but the only other option is for one of us to cut back significantly. With our long-term goals, that’s not feasible. 

Anyway, Blur loved the daycare experience so much (I assume it was the combination of the other children and the Thomas the Train set) that he screamed bloody murder when it was time to come home. I can live with that. I’d rather he cry about leaving than freak out about going.

Cataclysm

August 19, 2009

My friend S, who lives across the street, came over this morning to tell me that one of our neighbors committed suicide a couple of days ago. The guy was a father to two young boys and a two-month-old daughter. His wife is a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t know him; I’ve seen the family getting in and out of their cars and I’ve seen the children play in front of their house, but I’ve never spoken to any of them. Still, it’s shocking to me. It’s an act of violence that rattles even a stranger.

I get how horrible depression is and I get feeling like no-one understands. I know what it’s like to not want to get out of bed, or to want to crawl back into bed because you just don’t know what else to do with yourself. I understand what it’s like, at least on some level, to think of yourself as a bad person, a hopeless case. Depression is no stranger to me. But what I don’t get is acting on those feelings by taking your own life when you know your children and spouse will have to find a way to survive in the aftermath. Your pain is over; their pain is just beginning. When you become a parent, there are some things you can’t do anymore. Like off yourself.

S told me the wife’s family is in town to help her out – but what about when her parents leave and she’s left to raise and support these three kids all by herself?

Blues

August 17, 2009

WAHD and I moved to inland USA from coastal California last year. Fresh fruit stands, the ocean, moderate temperatures, excellent food, surfing competitions, and laid back, late night barbecues are among the things we miss the most. We sometimes miss our fellow Democrats, too. The taxes, long commutes, and gang violence – not so much.

I’m still acclimating to our new town. When you work from home, it’s hard to meet people. When you’re a (somewhat unsociable) mom who works from home and has a strange, unexplained fear of playdates and mommy groups, it’s especially hard to meet people. (I’m a three-time mommy group dropout. I try, but I fail every time.)

It goes in waves: sometimes, especially after we’ve had people over or joined friends for dinner, I feel like we’re making progress. Other times – like now, after having spent the last few weeks as a little three-person island – I feel like we’re never really going to be part of the community. We’re in it, but we don’t belong. We have few attachments. And frankly, I don’t always like it here all that much. It’s hot, and I’m allergic to the pollen.

Today, I’d like to be back in California. I’d like to grab a sweatshirt, walk from our house to the shore, stop for a cup of coffee at the tiny independent coffee house along the way, enjoy the sunshine and clear air, let my son play on the beach, and relax into the slow-paced surfer-culture lifestyle.

Food (or lack thereof)

August 14, 2009

I feel like I can’t eat ANYTHING good anymore. Even with the Nexium, I still get reflux if I consume alcohol, chocolate (!!!), citrus, anything spicy, anything fatty (like cheese or ice cream), tomatoes, and pasta. At this point I am living on apples, apple juice, veggies, lowfat yogurt, rice, chicken, fish, and sprouted grain bread.  The good news is that I am eating healthfully and even losing some weight. The bad news is that I feel like I am in some sort of no-fun-food prison run by Gwyneth Paltrow and Zooey Deschanel. My idea of a gourmet meal is a chunk of artisan bread, some gouda, some arugula, a nice big piece of chocolate, and a glass of wine. I’ve never been the kind of girl who’s willing to deny myself just to be thin.

I draw the line at coffee, though. I’ll give up merlot and Hershey’s, but I need my joe.

Duckling

August 10, 2009

After nearly 2 1/4 years of ambivalence as to which parent he’d rather hang out with, Blur has suddenly decided that he and his mom need to be attached at the hip. While this is undeniably cute and sweet and flattering, it also makes getting stuff done pretty much impossible. WAHD had to take Blur out of the house several times yesterday (Sunday is always my busiest work day) because my little duckling kept barging into the office, drumming on the printer, pounding on the keyboard, and generally trying to capture my attention. Attempts to distract him with toys, games, balloons, and crayons proved futile. It was exhausting – not just for me, but for WAHD, too, because he always has things he needs to get done as well outside of changing diapers and giving baths. Sometimes, I envy families in which one person makes the money and one person manages the household. 

My weekends now are nothing like the  relaxing, do-nothing weekends I used to enjoy. Then, Saturdays and Sundays were all about sleep, eating, vegging out, running, and going on dates. Now, If I’m not actively parenting, I’m working. If I’m not working, I’m making grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch or playing cars or trying to figure out what it is, exactly, that Blur wants (he’s a little hard to understand sometimes). Dates are special occasions; vegging out happens only in my memories. 

Quality free time – on weekends or anytime else – is such a valuable and rare commodity for me now that I am a mom.  If I want time to myself, I either have to leave the house or make WAHD and Blur leave the house. And if I leave the house, I usually don’t know what to do with myself. I’m not much of a shopper, I hate movie theaters (especially alone), massages are too expensive to enjoy more than a couple of times a year, and my friends aren’t always available to entertain me. Usually, I’ll go to a coffee shop or the library and try to read, but more often than not, I end up thinking about WAHD and Blur and how I should really be hanging out with them. The invisible chain between me and Blur is truly permanent. I can’t just remove it for an afternoon.

Purple Pill

August 8, 2009

My wallet may as well have had a hole in it this morning. Between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., I spent a whopping $680: $521 to pay the second installment of a dental crown that cost more than $1K in total, and $162 for a one month prescription of Nexium. I’ve known about the crown for weeks now, so I was prepared for that, but the prescription took me aback. $162! For 30 teeny purple pills! When the pharmacist reviewed my bill, he actually started to look a little nervous. He umm’d and hmm’d for a few seconds, then said, “Yeah… We’re going to have to talk about this. Your insurance only covered about $30.” He said if the Nexium takes care of my heartburn, I should ask my doctor for an alternative generic brand. Otherwise, I’m going to be handing over about $2000 a year to the fine folks at AstraZeneca. 

Our part-time employers don’t offer health coverage, so we purchase our own private insurance. For basic coverage with a high deductible, we spend about $400 a month. Preventative care (yearly physical, pap smears, etc.) is covered, as are two dental cleanings per year. As I discovered today, prescriptions are somewhat covered. Other office visits are not covered. Neither is dental work like fillings or, obviously, crowns. Theoretically, if something really bad and really expensive happened, something involving hospitals and operations, the insurance company would pay the bulk of it. Theoretically. Do I trust my insurance company to follow through? Not particularly. I’ve had bad experiences in the past (another story for another time). Based on those experiences, I’ve come to support some kind of universal government-sponsored health care option. It’s awful to have to pay today’s sky-high medical costs without having a safety net beneath you. I’m grateful – though perhaps grudgingly so – for the thin net we do have.

Anyway. Tomorrow morning I’ll be taking my first dose of Nexium. Here’s hoping it works better than the ineffective Prilosec I’ve been downing for the past two weeks. Acid reflux sounds like no biggie, but when it’s chronic, it’s persistently uncomfortable (even when I stick to my GERD-friendly diet).

Stuffed

August 7, 2009

WAHD and I went out to dinner ~alone~ for the first time in something like two months. For us, date night feels like a glistening, transient oasis in a vast 18-year-long desert. We enjoyed four hours to ourselves while Blur enjoyed an evening with his beloved babysitter (she does things like bring him Elmo kites and washable finger paints; in return, he worships her).

Now I am stuffed, and my throat hurts because I ate a load of food that exacerbates my acid reflux. It was good, though, and totally worth it. I had tortilla soup; a spicy seafood salsa made with shrimp, scallops, avocado, tomatoes, and tequila; part of WAHD’s delicious red snapper; a margarita; a vanilla latte with whipped cream and graham cracker crumbs on top; and a Diet Dr. Pepper (who brainwashed me into thinking that artificial sweetener negates calories? And yet somehow I seem to believe it…) I offer no apologies, not even for the whipped cream.

ETA, two hours later: Never mind. I do offer apologies, namely to my esophagus. I’m sorry, esophagus, for turning you into a pipe of burning, prickly pain. This will not happen again. No more spicy food, I promise. No more whipped cream. Decidedly less alcohol. Tomorrow I will go back to eating the (boring) food you like, such as apples, yogurt, and sprouted grain bread.

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