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28th August 2006

“Home”

Oh, I’m back.  Did I not mention that?  Possibly because I was refusing to let the trip end.  But, today was work and it couldn’t have hit me harder this morning that I am back to my normal life.

The trip was amazing.  I’ll never be able to explain it.  I never tried to explain the fun I had in Flagstaff last month because it was all too much.  This was so much more, how do I even begin?  Ten states in eight days, 500+ pictures, two falls down stairs, twice getting pulled over for speeding, many detours, and more stories then I could ever recount.  I have to try to document this, I never want to forget the details, it’s just going to take time.

This is on the steps of the Field Museum in Chicago, a city that wasn’t even remotely on our route home.  It was taken on our second day of wandering the city, a day that we’d planned to get up and drive to St. Louis, but we couldn’t force ourselves to leave this beautiful city and ended up staying another day.  For something that was never even discussed until we saw the exit on the highway I had the BEST time in Chicago.  We only decided to take that exit on the highway due to a math error (His, thank you.) but both of us would go back in a heart beat.

The whole trip was like this.  It wasn’t planned, a spur of the moment thing to get the boy and some stuff back to Phoenix, and it turned into the best vacation I’ve had so far.  We had very few plans laid out, and we didn’t even stick to those.  Everything was open, we could do anything we wanted to.  As long as we stuck together and (eventually) made it back to the Valley we were on schedule.

It was nice having no plans, no rules, and a partner in crime for a week.  It’s hard being back and having a job, responsibilities, worries.  Surprisingly I fell right into the lack of planning, where normally I worry about every unknown detail.  I was even a bit adventurous!  This kid got me to agree to fire a gun, I had oysters for the first time, I went to a Cubs game.  Hell, I even trusted him enough to ride public transportation while intoxicated!  Flying by the seat of your pants is easy when you know there is someone there 24 hours a day to back you up.  Our motto became “Come on, we’re on an adventure!” and we threw it out every time one of us balked at doing something.

Try as I might I cannot convince myself that anything in this desert is worthy of being called an adventure.  Same people, same bar, same godforsaken weather.  The nine to five, the health problems, the lack of money.  I’m hoping that this is just normal end of vacation malaise, just getting back into the routine.  Maybe it’s that I haven’t had a full night of sleep since Missouri, maybe it’s how banged up I got on this trip, or all the catch up you have to do after a vacation.  Maybe I’m just seeing my life more clearly after being able to step outside for a while.  No matter how long it takes to get over the sadness every last second of this trip was worth it.

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18th August 2006

Leaving on a jet plane

And I really don’t have any idea when I’ll be back again.  Here’s what we know:  I’m flying* out to Virginia* tomorrow morning.  They pick me up, we go to Grandma’s house in West Virginia, where there is no air conditioning and the humidity* is about 70 percent.  The hair, it will be large.  At some point Jeff and I will drive back to AZ.  Seriously, we really are going to come back.  Some day.  If we feel like it.  (I’m kidding.  We’ll be back.) 

The rest… well the rest is unplanned*.  It’s a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of thing.  Jeff has put me in charge of navigating*.  I have compass and a map and it’s my opinion that as long as we head west we’ll eventually make it home.  (Hopefully he’s not a stereotypical boy when it comes to asking for directions, because I do NOT talk to strangers.)

I’m scared shitless of flying/airports* and driving across the country during the summer is a chore.  But this is my third time in three years doing a cross country road trip and I know that it’s going to be an adventure.  This time I won’t have two screaming cats with me, just three cameras, an iPod and a boy that makes me laugh.  I think it will be okay.  If all else fails and this trip is a total nightmare at least Jeffy will be home.

I’ll be sending pictures to the Flickr account to keep the worrying (Hi Mom!) to a minimum, but other than a little cell phone action I will be off the grid.  I can’t wait. 

* Indicates things that make me want to drink a big ass bloody mary every time I think about them.  But did ya see how I glossed over them and stuck to the facts?  Mostly?

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17th August 2006

Timing

Last week I wrote about all the things that were weighing me down about traveling.  I actually felt better after getting it all out there and realizing that for most of them I have no control.  The day after authorities uncovered a plot to blow up several planes.  Fantastic timing.  You can’t even bring lip gloss on a plane now because terrorists were planning to mix liquids together in flight to make bombs.  I miss being a kid and not knowing the word terrorist.  And I’m going to miss my lip gloss, lotion, and ever present bottle of water on this flight!

The day I left my best friend a (slightly hysterical) message declaring that I would be arriving ugly, dry and thirsty to pick him up this Saturday I snarfed down three (Okay, five.)  Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  I haven’t had a doughnut in months, and they hit the spot!  Perfectly yummy, and definitely helped with the anxiety about flying.  The next day all of the Krispy Kreme franchises in Arizona declared bankruptcy and closed their delicious doughnutty doors.  Suck.  Maybe I should have been eating more doughnuts over the last year.

And on that same Thursday I sat on the deck in my backyard relishing my doughnut high.  My nephew Zach was sweeping the patio (The kid likes to clean, we don’t complain.) when he suddenly stopped and got very serious.  “Jen?  Do you like avocado?”  He’s almost three, where did he learn avocado?  I never expected to be so surprised at things the kids said.  There are times he says something and you have no earthly idea where he learned it, let alone why he is so concerned.

Nothing avocado related happened the next day, but I dare you not to snort with laughter when a wide eyed three year old asks you about produce with such a serious mug.

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16th August 2006

Today is in my way

Do you have any idea how difficult it is trying to pack for a trip when you haven’t unpacked from your last trip?  Two years ago?  I’m discovering all sorts of things I didn’t remember that I owned.  I got the red dishes, really?  Oh yeah, I remember these two hundred dollar sheets I only bought to match that painting.  Ya know, the one that was destroyed when I moved back to Phoenix?  No kidding, I have about a metric ton (give or take) of crap.  Can I find the one damn thing I’m looking for?  Nope.  An hour spent in the sweltering garage going through box after box stacked in the corner.  No luck, so I hike up the (rickety wood) ladder to the loft, where it’s easily twenty degrees hotter.  Several more boxes (Hey! My Nintendo!) and still no luck.  Two years, you think I would have unpacked, or at least organized.  Instead I search through four different places where my crap is stacked, it’s a pain in the ass.

Speaking of ass, do you have any idea what it’s like to discover at work that you are wearing someone else’s underwear?  Yeah, that was a fun conversation!  I need a vacation.

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13th August 2006

Archives

There is a written record of my life for at least the last ten years.  Whether it be paper notebooks, emails, websites, or saved Word files most of the events are documented.  I’ve always enjoyed going back and reading about times that have faded a bit in memory.  Seeing who I was then and how I thought.  Realizing how much I have (and haven’t) changed. 

Tonight I stumbled on the record of a strange time of my life in the form of very old emails that I am amazed are still in my Outlook files.  I’ve been sitting here for over an hour clicking through the emails.  I am shocked at how happy most of them are, full of the short little quips I’m known for now, but didn’t realize then I was capable of.  I’m pleased that we still had happy emails, even when things were changing and we sometimes had to discuss delicate issues in between what we should eat for dinner and what time I woke up.  Tonight was the first time I was nostalgic for that time in my life almost three years ago.  I was happy in the weirdest of places, I had a plan and was comfortable.

Not many clicks later I stumbled upon a more recent email from a time that I am still not comfortable remembering.  One line stopped me dead in my tracks.  “I want to yell and scream and call you names because you are hurting me.”  To this day it shocks me that I actually opened up and told someone what I was feeling, that single line smacked me in the chest and I burst into tears.  Six years after my best friend warned this boy that I would never open up.  But some how I did, I’d let someone in.  I’d defeated all the people who thought I could never trust someone, and now it was backfiring.

I don’t know when discussing my mental health and path in life became the “thing” to do again.  Maybe when I didn’t hide the fact that my employer told me to go to counseling.  I try to keep an open dialogue about things like this, it’s not something I should be ashamed of, and it generally doesn’t hurt to have the opinions of my loved ones.  But when people talk about me behind my back, diagnose me by putting too fine a point on past issues, and ignore my rebuttals it all just seems fruitless.  I may not be able to articulate exactly what is wrong with me, but I know what it’s not.  It’s not about one boy, one situation, one change in my life.  It won’t be solved in six sessions or by trying to explain it to people who are content to think they already know the answers.

I’m not against discussions, but I won’t be diagnosed by people who refuse to listen to my side of the story.  I’m struck with the urge to throw up the walls, fill the moat, and camp out alone since no one understands me.  It’s too bad my knee jerk response to this pressure is the very reason that no one understands me.  Almost a year now since I started complaining in emails that I didn’t have a friend to talk to, and I still don’t know how to be limitless.

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9th August 2006

Things That Can/Will Go Wrong

Instead of thinking about the fact that I have my first therapy appointment today I’m worrying about this trip. Hey, I never said I didn’t know how to fill my time!

Disaster # 1 – The Plane Will Crash and/or I will lose my shit while on the plane.
Seriously, I have never been good at the air travel thing. Take offs and landings are the worst. I’m the one gripping the arm rests and whispering (what I remember of) The Lord’s Prayer. This is why I try to fly in the morning, after a long night of cocktails and no sleep. Sleep is the only way for me to get through flying because I CANNOT stand sitting still for any length of time. First of all, these legs weren’t meant for flying. It’s a good thing I’m flexible because crossing your legs on an airplane is practically a yoga maneuver when you only have about an inch of clearance between your knees and the seat in front of you. Second, whose idea was it belt me in next to a stranger? I don’t like strangers on a good day. Now picture me exhausted, hung over and terrified on a tin can hurtling towards earth. I don’t want to talk to them, look at them, or god forbid smell them.  Speaking of smells, I get airsick. Oh yeah, don’t you want to take a cross country flight with me now?
Odds of this actually occurring?
50/50  (These figures are not based on scientific data, unless my irrational, fear addled brain is considered science.)
What ya gonna do about it? 
Use the sheer power of will to keep the plane in the air, of course.  For restlessness I’ve saved the first episode of Tourgasm and I’m a week behind on episodes of Nightline, so the iPod will keep me amused while I’m forced to sit still.  Everything in between will hopefully be numbed with painkillers.

Disaster # 2 – I will die cold and alone in Chicago
My aversion to strangers is second only to airports in the travel continuum of hell. The first time I traveled by myself I had to fly to Minnesota for work. My layover was in Atlanta. I would pay good money for a picture of my face when I realized I was going to have to take a train in that airport. I didn’t sign up for any damn trains. Airports are just too big, too many strangers, too many signs. Everyone is anxious and pissy. In a momentary brain lapse I agreed to have my layover at O’Hare for this trip. I’m much more uncomfortable with scary places when I’ve never been there before. And I haven’t heard anything good about Chicago’s airport since I booked these flights. I’m going to get lost in the airport, miss my connection, and curl into the fetal position some where in Illinois.
Odds of this actually occurring?
15%
What ya gonna do about it? 
I’ve already furiously googled both of the airports I have to go to and committed maps to memory. 

Disaster # 3 – They lose my luggage and/or I forget to pack something.
I don’t know why I just thought of this because it has never once happened. I’ve been lucky in luggage and I never forget to pack anything, I make too many lists to forget anything.  Maybe I just thought of that because I’m due for a luggage disaster, and this would be the worst trip for it to happen on since we will be driving from West Virginia back to AZ. Knock on wood, people. I want to hear the echo of the internets knocking on wood right now!
Odds of this actually occurring? 
3 in 5, simply because I’ve jinxed myself.
What ya gonna do about it? 
I’ve already started the lists (Obsessive compulsive!) so forgetting something probably won’t be a problem.  Can’t do much about asshole airlines sending your suitcase to Guatemala except pray.

Disaster # 4 – Various physical ailments.
I have a weak stomach. Flying, makes me hurl. Being a passenger in a car makes me nervous, and when I’m nervous I hurl.  I don’t tolerate heat or humidity very well, which makes me feel like I’m going to pass out, right after I hurl. Being overly tired, stressed out, eating food that’s different then I’m used to, it all makes me nauseous. So, a day of flying, followed by who knows how many days of driving through middle America.  In August.  With a best friend who is emotionally spent.  And I’m starting to not feel so great…  Also, I can’t move much these days.  I threw my back out the day after we made this plan. Walking is uncomfortable right now. I can barely make it through a day of work, where most of what I do is sit on my ass. This kid is crazy if he thinks we’re doing this trip straight through, sleeping in a moving truck is not an option for me.
Odds of this actually occurring?  110%   There’s almost no chance of me getting through this trip without yakking at least once.
What ya gonna do about it? 
Jeff can handle it. He quickly moved out of my way the time I turned green and ran to the bathroom at a bar, only because I was stressed out. And I watched while he released the prior night’s ham snack off the back porch onto the yard below. So, actually, I’ll just be evening the score when I lose my lunch on the side of the highway.  But maybe I try to snag one of those barf bags from the plane.  Not much I can do about my back.  I’ll get picked on forever for this, but I’m totally planning to bring the heating pad.  Painkillers aren’t really an option.  If I don’t go to sleep almost immediately after taking them I… well… I hurl.  Shocking, I know.

Disaster # 5 – The moving truck is a colossal piece of shit.
I worked in the reservation center for a huge moving truck company for way too long. Oh, the horror stories I could tell you. First of all, this thing better have a good air conditioner because my fuse is fantastically short while I’m overheated, that is if I’m able to remain conscious at all. Second, it better not even think that it’s allowed to break down. We are poor, and I’m not trying to hang out on the side of a highway for two days while they come to fix some broken down truck. Not only that, but if it’s broke broke we’ll have to unload/reload it ourselves. And me, with the lifting? Not so much. I’ll be turning tricks on the highway to get people to move furniture.
Odds of this actually occurring?  Inconclusive.  I’m skewed because of the horrendous years I spent in the hell that is a call center. 
What ya gonna do about it? 
I’m not going to do shit about it.  Jeff’s the boy.  I don’t know crap about anything under the hood, including headlights!

Disaster # 6 – I have to kill him.
Being with someone 24 hours a day for days on end isn’t always easy. But 24 hours a day while on the road, that’s a whole new psychological experiment. Road trips are hard. When I moved to Virginia the trip went great. We managed to get three vehicles, two cats and the four of us to our destination in four days.  The move back from Virginia was a whole different ball game. Same two cats, one vehicle, and a different combination of people. I’m not kidding when I say that very, very few words were spoken in that car across the last three states. It was hell on wheels.  By the time we left Texas I was scanning the map for places to drop off the offending parties where they could survive until we sent a rescue party.  It was bad.
Odds of this actually occurring?  Slim to none.  Jeff and I both love road trips and we’ve only gotten into one fight in the last two years.  Yes, I ordered him not to speak to me for the rest of the night and he threw my car keys in the parking lot, but we were fine by the time we left the bar that evening.  He’s been through a lot, and I’m stressed, but we always manage to have fun together, even when we are completely screwing up projects (See:  The desk we built, and jacked up).  My ex constantly turned my radio down, a highly punishable offense, and I made it through several road trips without stabbing him in the jaw.  We should be fine.
What ya gonna do about it? 
John already agreed to pick up the body, if necessary.

Strangely, pecking all of my worries out made me feel better.  Who needs therapy?!

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6th August 2006

July, in review.

Best text messages received:
Answer me or I’ll slash ur tires*
Look behind you*
I’ll find a pretty rock
Friends are like butt cheeks… shit separates them but they always come back together!!!
You are not a circus freak!
U fired yet
Why would u do that
How is the beast*
Do you think you will have any spare space in your trash can tomorrow*
Llama llama cheesecake llama
No sorry him and bathrooms are like you and floors.
Knew it

Strangest text messages I sent:
Guess what a boy gave me tonight? That’s right! His business card.
She asked how you were doing and if you have been behaving yourself… ha ha ha.  If she only knew*
So I’ve been having intestinal issues for the last hour. Either my mother poisoned me for the first time in twenty five years of I’m freaking out about Friday.*
Kevin just said I have to be your date. Good thing you’re cute.
Here’s how fast I cycle thru guys. Met cute boy tonight. Glasses, tie. Didn’t open door for me. Ew
Sweet. I’ll bribe him with it to come live with me. I may have to change his name to chuck though.
Tsunami!!!*
Oh my god they are so catty I love it!
And I like trees and shit if you want to take some for me, ha ha
I have no idea what you’re talking about crazy lady*
I just yelled ‘put your lipstick away!’ at the cat. I blame you guys

*Is it me or do many of the text messages this month have a violent/mafia/criminal vibe to them?

Conversations that can only occur through text messages:
-
I am in some serious pain.
-Does it hurt that bad?  Be a man walk it off Dude.
-I can barely walk.

-I’m in your hood.  It’s stormy as shit
-I’m in urs it’s the same way

Birthdays?

John

Grandma, Lynda, Sarah
Birthday Girls!

Emily (And Lucy!  The dog envy is fierce.)
Watching the weather

Candi

Ya’ll knew all along I was losing it and didn’t say anything?  In a complete indignant rage I told many people the ridiculous and shocking news of my boss telling me the company was going to pay for me to go to therapy.  Even more shocking was the number of people who agreed with their assessment but apparently didn’t have the balls to ever say so before.

Crappy Stuff:  Well, the dawn of July ’06 found me crawling out of bed and not remembering why everything hurt.  Isn’t it wonderful that I learned caffeine mixed with even moderate amounts of alcohol makes me black out?  So I limped my way through this month, cursing every step.  My back finally had enough of the limping and checked out on the last day of the month.  I’ve never felt such blinding pain or heard my joints make such a noise.

Good Stuff:  I can’t even begin to describe how awesome my trip to Flagstaff was.  That’s why I never tried.  Start to finish it was a fun, relaxing, perfect experience.  Um, except for that whole climbing stairs and doing the most ambitious pub crawl of my life while bruised and bleeding after the falls.  Yeah, that part sucked, but the rest was so good that I (almost) forget all about it.

Favorite moment of the drive.
God I love driving alone.


One of my favorite views.

I also had a kick ass loaner dog for two weeks.  I want a dog so badly, but Killer wouldn’t allow it.


Woody is a good boy.  And he listens!  Except when he’s sticking his head up my skirt!  Definitely a boy!

Do anything this month I’d never done before?  I was convinced, despite being nearly crippled, to dance on top of a bar at San Felipe’s in Flagstaff.  Tequila had a little to do with the convincing I’m sure.

How many tasks are overdue?  Um, all of them?  I really didn’t do anything this month, including see my bedroom floor through the piles of bills, clothes, and who knows what else is down there.

Oh boy, was I wrong!!!
Text message I sent – “That gives me more time to get the squatters out of your place, but you’ll miss my lovely meal. I can almost guarantee this one will be edible.”  Needless to say the meal went awry, as all my cooking endeavors tend to.

Any mileposts?  This is the time that I was supposed to be moving back from Virginia.

Favorite Random Picture:  When I captured an awesome picture of John, AKA Fish, smiling while he held my niece Tatum he immediately told me I was forbidden to post it anywhere near our myspace pages.

John: No way you’ll ruin my rep
Jen: Your rep is what? Fish eats babies alive?

As it turns out, Tate eats fish alive.  Take that!

Tatum eats fish.

Coolest unexpected night:  Dinner with a pair of girls that can read me so well they had sniffed out and gotten me to admit to a secret before I’d even finished my first drink.  The conversation was heated from that point all the way through the steak dinner.  Topics covered included circumcision, love, kids, and ended in a new mantra for me.  “I am open.”  Love ya girls, but it’s not that easy.

Weirdest night:  Seeing the boys play at the Monastery.  It was almost a normal evening, boys, drinks, more drinks at the house, watching the sunrise.  Just add in a handful of strangers, a rousing game of Points, me handing out pieces of ass, and the fact that it was about a hundred degrees.  It was a weird night.


Melting.  All of us, melting.


Boys find a cure to the melting, Shot gunning beers.  I just jumped in the pool until four in the morning.


Seriously, sunrise.

Laugh of the Month:  This text message:  “How should I get my hair cut?”
And we saw the preview showing of Little Miss Sunshine.  The funniest movie I have ever seen in a theater.  I was coughing by the end of it I was laughing so hard.

Song of the Month:  Divine Intervention – Taking Back Sunday.  I held off tears for the entire concert, despite being in a horrendous mood, and predisposed to crying at concerts.  I was almost through the night without horrifying Lindsey with my live music emotions but Adam, alone, with an acoustic guitar and harmonica?  I can’t fight that!

Best Show:  Angels and Airwaves and Taking Back Sunday, obviously.  And here’s where I promise not to talk about these bands for a while.  Seriously.

Angels and Airwaves

Music:  I listened to the Stay On My Side Tonight EP from Jimmy Eat World on the drive home from Flagstaff.  Every minute spent listening to that band is awesome, but while flying 75 down an empty highway, lightening overhead and fireworks in the distance?  I couldn’t help but fall in love with them all over again.

Song Lyric of the Month:
Remember me, she said smiling
Write my name somewhere safe
Closer – Jimmy Eat World

Gratuitous Kid Pics:  It amazes me how much Jackson looks like both of his parents.

Where most of my money went:  Plane ticket to Virginia.  *Gulp*

Saddest Day:  July 17th and 22nd.

Looking forward to:  Getting Jeff home.  Time off work and seeing new states.

Not looking forward to:  The two take offs and landings it’s going to take to get Jeff home.  Ohmygod I hate flying.

Violent Much?  As we were sitting on the porch one Anti Biddy night this month I watched as Zach swung the broom handle just past Jorden’s head.  Meanwhile Tatum climbs over him into the house where she begins hurling toys out the open patio door, and Jorden is, of course, directly in the line of fire.  It’s rough being the youngest.

Most awkward conversation:  Every conversation this month about my dating life.  Who, what, when, why.  I don’t write about it because I don’t think about it, so I probably don’t want to talk about it.

Quotes of the Month:
“You write in like the eighth person.”  - JoAnn

“I love you.”
“I know.”

Hair Watch 2006 Status:  It’s big.

Hair.  Big hair.

And seeing that John has cut his hair twice since we started this hair growing pact, I’m free and clear to hack this all off.  Except I promised myself I’d go until the end of this year, forgetting that a year would include months of summer and a monsoon season full of humidity.

Graph:  So, I started another website this month.  Which is funny because the amount that I write here has been decreasing.  I started to wonder if it was because I was posting inane things over on the myspace blog.  Did myspace steal my muse?  In an attempt to get numbers to tell me what my problem is (Wouldn’t that be nice?) I graphed it.

July Graph

Turns out that the increase in myspace blather does correlate with the decrease in actual writing here.  But overall I am writing less, and I don’t know why.  This is a strange thing I’ve been struggling with lately, and the numbers didn’t answer the question, they only proved I’m not imagining the problem.

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5th August 2006

Call me?

I’ve been under house arrest for too long now.  The cats are enjoying it, Killer is all over me even as I type this.  But I’m going nuts stuck in this house.  It was different when I was choosing to stay inside because I was a depressed asshole, I was sparing my loved ones and fixing my head.  I feel better now, the two things that were weighing me down seem to be resolving themselves. 

Of course once those thing start to resolve new things pop up.  The day after we made a plan to get my best friend home I threw my back out.  I guess I should have been waiting for it, but I was caught off guard.  I wasn’t as worried about it as I should have been.  I figured it was just the effects of the fall and being under too much stress and that I would stop hurting eventually.  Instead my lower back decided it wasn’t strong enough to even close a closet door.  I’ve spent the last week in constant pain on and off a heating pad.  I’m so fucking old.

My brain is better though.  I miss my friends and being busy.  But the plan to get my best friend home involves me draining my savings account, sitting on a plane for many hours, and many more days in a Uhaul truck driving across the country.  So, I need to save money and I have to get back to normal mobility or I’ll be useless to him.  So for the next two weeks I’m content to sit in my house and watch too many movies.  But you won’t hear me complain if you want to drop by for a visit or have a long talk on the phone.  I swear I’m a nicer person then I was last week.

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1st August 2006

Somewhere I never thought I’d be.

I can’t believe I’m buying a plane ticket to Virginia. 

I don’t even know how to begin to process how this is making me feel.

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