Sunday, February 04, 2018

Cultural Clashing

Things have been a bit tense in the cup-de-sac for the past week. J and I working as peacemakers, as I do not want to live in a place where it feels like all the neighbors are feuding. But some background is necessary, as the neighbors who are the cause of this current low-level simmering are actually the unfortunate victims of the drug-dealing asshat across the street.
I have not written about the drug-dealing asshat publicly, as I did not want to give away too many details. The short version is that a week after we moved into our new home, the asshat moved in across the street. Into a house that cost far more to maintain then he could afford.
As it was winter and he did not know anyone, the first months with the asshat were quiet. Then the asshat lost his job, began sharing his home with a parade of unsavory roommates, dealing pot, entertaining prostitutes and throwing wild parties, essentially making all the residents in the cul-de-sac utterly miserable.
I can even pinpoint the precise day that he showed his true character: the (very) early morning hours of August 7, 2014. The incident involved a missing wallet, a verbal argument between the 40+ year old asshat and three teenage girls and eventually the police. Who let everyone off with a lecture.
Since that incident has been arrested for dealing drugs (summer 2015), delayed his court appearances for over TWO YEARS and finally to get the charges against him dismissed on a technicality in December.
Asshat is now renting out his home on Airbnb, to suspiciously high ratings.
Cue three weeks ago. The father of our very lovely, non-Christian neighbor, dies. Lovely neighbor (P) comes over to tell us that his father has passed away and that there will be a considerable amount of activity around his home. He asks us to let him know if they become too disruptive.
I give my sympathies and tell him to do what he needs to do.
Things are OK at first. P also applied to the borough for a short-term zoning variance to deal with the activity around his house, as his faith requires an extensive and ritualistic period of mourning and requires that the house be open to visitors 24/7 during the mourning period.
Unfortunately, the length of time is not well communicated to the neighbors and some of P’s visitors act inappropriately during the night - drinking, noise, leave trash. Asshat also takes the opportunity to host visitors at P’s expense.
So there is noise and trash and sleepless nights for some of the neighbors. One of the visitors decides to get out of the driveway by backing out over our lawn. Complaints are made to the chief of police, who has dealt with this before and asks us to be patient.
J visits P’s home on Friday evening to let him know that it is becoming too much and neighbors are upset. P asks all of us to please come for lunch on Saturday. J, Boy Alien and I go. The other neighbors say no. We go because I absolutely do not want to be feuding with all the neighbors.
The family is still in mourning. Lunch is amazing. Family is surprised that J and I enjoy the spiced food. P and his siblings explain the meaning of all the rituals. Repeated apologies are given. P is not caucasian and I can imagine how nerve-wracking it can be to inadvertently piss off a bunch of the neighbors in the current political climate.
Saturday evening J and I stop at one of the neighbors most affected by the noise and encourage him to have a conversation with P. Neighbor says he will wait until the mourning period is over and he has calmed down a little more.
Hoping for peace.

Monday, January 01, 2018

A New Year - 2018

The old one ended quietly. A dinner with friends. Boy Alien and I headed home afterwards, while J stayed behind to continue the celebration. I was asleep by midnight, after a poorly made double old fashioned.

Back over to our friends this morning for breakfast and some episodes of House Hunters. Six of us in the living room, making fun of the buyers and criticizing the houses. It was lovely.

There is some upheaval. J is still miserable in his job and still refusing to seek any sort of help to deal with the stress. I even suggested a career counselor. Maybe he will take that suggestion to heart.

J's brother has taken a leave of absence from his pastoral duties to do some soul searching. J's parents are not saying anything other than to talk to BIL. J and I have no intention of asking him anything other than an offer of a place to stay while he works his issues out.

Back to better eating habits tomorrow. The long break has helped a great deal, but I would have liked additional time for wallowing.

Objectives for January:
  1. Ignore the drug-dealing asshole neighbor who managed to get his case thrown out and has returned to his old ways with impunity. He woke me up last night, but was not making enough of a racket to bother calling the police.
  2. Spending freeze.
  3. Get eating habits back on track.
  4. Write more.
  5. Attend two Friends Meetings.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The One Where Christmas Eve Goes as Expected

I've actually been writing a fair amount over the past few months, thanks to Day One. However, Christmas Eve deserves its own post, put out there on the internet for someone to stumble across one day.

I've been mostly OK through this Christmas. I took an extra week off and went to New York City for several days. I stayed in a very nice hotel, ate some good food (Oyster Stew as the Grand Central Oyster Bar, a lobster roll at Urbanspace Vanderbilt) and spent hours upon hours walking the Manhattan streets. Walked to the Strand. Walked to Central Park. Walked through amazing holiday markets in Bryant Park and Union Square. Looked at the windows in Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue (Saks won, hands down. Absolutely spectacular windows). Wished my mom a Merry Christmas, lit a candle to St. Patrick and had a cry in St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Per our arrangement when Boy Alien arrived, this year's holiday rotation was for Wigilia at the in-laws on Christmas Eve. I begged J to skip it this year. I really did not want any attention called to my loss. I wanted to stay home, stare at the Christmas tree and drink wine and watch the cats sleep. But Boy Alien is eight and should have an actual Christmas. So J insisted on going. Not only Christmas Eve. Family (both sides, whomever could come) on Christmas Day. A Boxing Day dinner with his family. All of it.

Quoted from a site from which I have a social media account:
"Wigilia went exactly as I expected. There is some tension between hosting Aunt and my MIL (they are sisters), so there was an undercurrent in the room. Aunt stood up before dinner to give a speech about how wonderful and blessed 2017 had been for the entire family, only to suddenly pivot to acknowledge the passing of my mom last spring. Since there was no transition between the two topics, it came off as "We had a great year! Except for that downer in-law in the corner over there. Her mom died". 
I had a mild case of hysterics once we got back to the car. 95% laughter, 5% tears. I shared the story with my dad and twin brother yesterday. Thankfully they both also saw the humor in it."
So that happened.

To smooth over the savagery, I also went on my annual holiday shopping excursion with a good friend this week. She talked me into these beauties:


Which have kittens and bunnies and insane colors. As I am officially a woman of a certain age who must wear mostly sensible shoes, I am embracing the absurd.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Another Step Forward

I purchased a new wool long coat yesterday.

I have been looking for a new long coat for three years, when it became crystal clear that my beloved size 12 Worthington black long coat with black rabbit fur trim on the hood, was falling apart by inches. Fur went missing from the hood and there were spots near the bottom where the wool had worn almost completely away.

My beloved long coat, purchased by my mom from J.C. Penney’s sometimes in the mid 90’s, approved for wearing by my mom and her best friend Jane, who said she liked the way the back flared out when I twirled and walked. I liked that it was long, with lots of buttons to keep out the cold and that the wool was light on my shoulders.

And because having something with flair is important when you are 22 years old and broke.

Three years ago I started looking for a new coat. But I wanted the kind of coat I was losing. One that was long, with lots of buttons to keep out the cold and some flare in the back to make me feel like a princess when I walked.

Because having something with flair is still important when you are in your early forties and not as broke.

But nothing I looked at was right. Wrong color, wrong length, too flashy, too strange. I tried a vintage navy peacoat, but it turned out to be too heavy and too warm for every day wear.

I wanted something that was going to keep my happy for the next 20+ years of my life.

Last year my mother gifted me with a wool-cashmere blend camel colored long coat. She had purchased it for herself, but it was too large.  It is lovely, Not perfect, but very lovely. So I wore it.

Then yesterday I found the coat, in Nordstrom. On sale. One left. In my size. With a flare in the back when I twirled. I purchased the coat. With wool that hung light on my shoulders.

I came home and happily showed J my purchase. He grumbled about the number of coats I owned, grumbled about the price, grumbled in general. I reminded him that I had looked for a new long coat for three years. That I would finally purge the old coat from the closet (and a bag of clothes I no longer wear).

(Aside: I also stocked up on Teavana teas as well, as Starbucks is closing all the stores and the stock is being sold off. Seeing that I had purchased over six pounds of assorted flavors, J asked how much I paid for the lot, *after* telling me *not* to tell him how much I pay for things. It was rather amusing.)

I hung the coat in the closet and put the tea in the tea drawer. I changed my clothes and headed downstairs to clean the litter box.

And I burst into tears.

Because until yesterday, my mom had purchased every single long coat I had ever worn. And every single one of them was beautiful and made me feel like a princess when I wore it. And I was letting go of the last one, the one infused with the memory of the laughter of my mom, her best friend Jane and 22 year old me twirling in the middle of the coat section of a small town J.C. Penney’s.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Personal Day in Many Ways

This is going to be a ramble...
J and L went to the beach after all, leaving the house to me for the week. It only took a day for me to miss both of them, but coming home to a quiet clean house without a spouse shouting down the phone has been very, very nice to experience.
Last evening was strange. I had planned to stay out for a while, reading in the park then having some dinner, taking a zTrip home if the bus was too inconvenient. I dropped Uber because of their shitty business practices and treatment towards their female employees (although I still need to delete the credit card from the account, which I really should do because a business that treats employees like crap is bound to get hacked sooner or later...).
I walked down to the Point and sat in the shade to give J a call. As I was talking to J I noticed my hands were shaking, my chest was tight and I felt a bit faint. While it was quite hot and I had not eaten in several hours, I don’t think all my symptoms were physical.
Metafilter has a thread which discusses this comic:
The comic is about one woman’s FIVE YEAR experience to get doctors to take her sudden weight loss and fatigue to the point of passing out seriously. A sleep therapist finally tested her thyroid function and discovered she had Graves Disease, a condition 7-8 times more common in women then in men.
Reading the thread was difficult, but allows me to finally say out loud what has been bouncing in my head, what I have tried to rationalize away as “they would not have been able to save her anyway” (and I still believe that statement is true). My mother died because she was not a man.
My mother died because even though she had multiple factors that put her in the high risk category for what killed her - a rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm - she was missing the most important risk factor - she was not a man.
I know the 10,000 arguments against the above statement. Doctors are human. She had an existing confounding diagnosis. She waited too long to see a doctor. Or X. Or Y. Or Z.
People have a hard time looking at two statements when seem to contradict each other yet still be true at the same time.
My mother died because she was misdiagnosed. She would have died anyway. 

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Too Many T-Shirts

6 June 2017 - Tuesday at 4:09 AM is what is says at the top of the screen of this application and I originally used that as the header.

I can’t sleep. I miss my mom. My mind whirls with all the tricks it is using to cope. Mostly in buying things, because buying a thing gives me a temporary moment of relief from the sadness. Buying things is how I ended up with far too many t-shirts that I will not wear and will end up giving to charity shops. I’ve already discarded one, the rest are not too far behind.

My mind plays tricks to cope, which is why I lie in bed and obsess over a phone I do not need and don’t really want. Except that J’s phone died and it makes sense to get him the most recent model of something, hoping the new one will last 4+ years through a screen and a battery replacement. But it does not seem fair that he gets the latest and greatest, which I wanted, and that I have to spend money from my savings to pay for it.

He has not been much help - he told me to just pick something out. The only problem is that I don’t know what he wants and it does not seem that he even cares to make the effort to go to one of the stores and play with the phones there before making a final decision.

I have a long day ahead of me, work until 5:00, a bus ride home, a trip to the mall to replace the phone. It will be a long and sleepy one.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Tale of Two Sunscreens

Observe sunscreen A, at $26.88 (which is slightly less than the $31.55 I paid several days ago):

Decleor Aroma Sun Expert Protective Hydrating Milk High Protection SPF 30 Sunscreen for Unisex, 5 Ounce

Observe sunscreen B at $32.09:
Decleor Aroma Sun Expert Protective Anti-Wrinkle SPF 30 Cream, 1.69 Fluid Ounce

Sunscreen A is marketed as "unisex".
Sunscreen B is marketed as "protective unit-wrinkle cream" (a quality of most good sunscreens).

1. Which one is marketed to women?
2. Which one is marketed to men?