Category Archives: thinking

Musing

I have spent a lot of time on this blog not writing about my mom. Mostly it has been to protect her privacy. But I feel now that if I don’t get through this post, all the things that follow without it will be a fraud.

Right now, I’m pretty sure my mom and I are not speaking to one another. It’s been about three weeks since we last spoke, and when she joined Facebook a few days ago, she friended everyone in my family… except me. Having leaned on each other most of our lives – though I am only speaking for myself – it’s not exactly been the best couple of weeks in my life.

If I had to guess, it probably has less to do with the sum of money I wouldn’t lend her and more to do with the way I told her I wouldn’t lend it to her. I probably could have been gentler in telling her no. But I also think I deserved a bit more respect than I got in response.

The details of our argument are not worth getting into publicly. It’s not about taking sides, or getting in the middle. I wouldn’t expect that from anyone. But I think it’s also fair to say that we’ve both suffered a loss, here, and a significant one. And whether it’s real or only my perception, I’ve really felt quite cut adrift from the rest of my family as a result. Maybe I deserve it. I don’t personally think so, but then I’m probably a little biased.

The only thing I’ve been able to do is try to look forward and focus on my own life, the one I’ve been neglecting in my worry over my mother’s well-being. I’ve turned around and realized I’m 31 years old and hey, I’m married, too. When did that happen? To say that Billy and I are reconnecting is an understatement. It’s been wonderful and difficult all at once, and that, I suppose, is marriage.

We’ve assessed our debts and come up with a plan to pay them off in their entirety within the next 10 years. It involves sacrifice and dedication, but so far in the last two weeks, we have made incredible strides. Eating home-cooked meals has helped. Not drinking has also saved us heaps, in more ways than one. Because, yes, I am back on the wagon, and it has been great.

My job is blossoming into a career, and although most days when I get home I need an hour or two to lay in bed and recover from the mountains of stress I encounter at the office, I have to say that it’s a job I do truly enjoy. It’s challenging, and always pushing the bar, and I feel like what I do makes a difference. And, it helps to pay our debts. Right now, I couldn’t ask for more than that.

Billy and I are considering a move in the next year or so. New York City is one of the best places in the whole world, no doubt. But it has a way of churning our souls, and after nearly 15 years, our souls are ready to sit back on our porch in the country and watch bees buzz amid the daisies. Right now, it’s hard to say what we will be able to afford, both financially and emotionally, but a front-runner is Ithaca, NY. We are also looking a bit closer to home, but nowhere specific. It’s nice to finally start seeing plans take shape, though, and to know that we have choices.

And as I think of the family I have lost and potentially lost, between my father’s death and my mother’s illness, I can’t help but think of the possibility of starting anew with a family of our own. It doesn’t seem as farfetched as it did several years ago, somehow.

Even with all these developments on the horizon of my own life, I can’t help but resist the change a bit. It’s always been my affliction – wanting my world to change, but being afraid to actually change it. But, now is the time. As they say, when a door closes, a window is opening. And maybe I’m ready to seize the moment after all.


Assessment.

It’s been a good weekend so far. Saturday I ended up spending the day in, knitting and watching football, on account of Billy’s bum foot. It must really be bothering him, too, because he made an appointment to see a doctor tomorrow, and let’s just say he would only do that if the only other alternative was getting out the hacksaw.

Yesterday I managed to get out to the beach one last time, and it was a lovely day. We have a routine pretty much down pat at this point – leave Queens at 9:30am, arrive to Hampton Bays by 11:30, stop at Tully’s (gosh, they don’t have a website!) for some deep fried awesomeness, brave the flooded roads, and arrive to the beach by noonish. We hit the restroom at 4:45 before they close at 5, and then usually back on the road by 5:30. It’s friggin’ awesome. Yesterday’s trip was no exception. The cooler weather (mid-70’s) and high wind (seriously) kept most people off the beach, so it was quiet (with only one or two exceptions, and you know who you are). I was surprised when I got home, though, that my hair wasn’t sticking out permanently to the left side of my face. It was, however, what one might describe as a rat’s nest. I tried to brush it out when I got home but gave up mid-brush. I think the brush may still be in there somewhere.

I also did some knitting yesterday. I’ve started a pair of socks, as well as a baby blanket. Again, I don’t really have anyone in mind for these projects, but I was getting to where if I didn’t have something to knit right away, I was going to be quite unpleasant to be around. And I became instantly relaxed. I love knitting, almost to an unhealthy degree. At the very least, it’s a productive hobby, because when I finish a project, I’ve got a gift to give! And a handmade gift is generally much appreciated, in my experience.

Today I’m thinking about how the summer is starting to wind down a bit. I am looking back to my list for the year (which, by the way, has been a great reference to keep me focused on FUN things and not CRAPPY things) and thinking about how I’ve done a pretty good job so far! Some of these things won’t get done this year (I’m thinking getting to the cherry blossom festival in DC is probably out this year, since it was in April), but they will be good goals for next year, too. I think it’s time to add a few new goals for fall, too. Things like:

  • learn how to play “The Entertainer” on the piano
  • go to the Dutchess County Sheep & Wool Festival
  • go pumpkin picking
  • bake a peach pie
  • carve a jack-o-lantern and light it on Halloween
  • make chili in the slow cooker, watch Rudy, and drink apple cider on a college football game day
  • go for a fall foliage hike

I can and probably will come up with more items for the list, too. But this is a good start.


It’s past my bedtime. Again.

And here I thought I was getting into a good groove again. Ah well. No time like the present to break a trend.

Again, lots going on and very little time to appreciate it, less write about it. Big news of this week: Wednesday was my five-year anniversary for McDonald’s sobriety. I am really quite proud of myself – it was a 90-day challenge back in 2005, but when that 90 days ended, I found I really had no desire to go back to it. And I really haven’t missed it, either. In the last five years, the only fast food I have eaten has been pizza, Subway (but only a handful of times, and I hated it each time), and once I went to Roy Rogers with my aunt on the way up to Vermont because it was the only food on the highway. I had a chicken sandwich and a salad. It was gross.

I can honestly say that I don’t miss the grease and that I feel healthier for making this choice in my life. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to McDonald’s, unless it was the last place on earth and I was starving.

I’ve been getting very caught up in the moment and trying to do what’s “right.” This has meant late nights at the gym and trying to cook all my meals and get to the supermarket, all after a long day at the office. I come home tired and wasted from the effort. So today I gave it up, came home, took a nap, and have puttered around doing nothing of importance.

EXCEPT: Today Billy and I officially paid off all of our credit card debt. That just leaves another $49,000 (give or take $10 grand) in debts left to pay off. Hooray! I am still waiting to stumble onto that money tree – I should have figured out how much I spend on McDonald’s and put all that aside into savings to pay off my debts. Now that would have been special.


Weekend plans.

For the first time in what feels like ages, Billy and I both have the weekend off and we don’t have any plans. I almost hesitate to say that out loud, because I’m sure I’m inviting people to offer to fill the chasm. I’m not sure we want the chasm filled this time. It will be nice to stay in the city and do things that only cost no money. I have a feeling we’ll be doing a fair amount of dreaming, and by dreaming I mean planning. Because at this point I think we’ve got our dreams fairly well established. It’s now time to start making them happen. Time to roll out the paper and start making blueprints.

I’m envisioning us walking around in white t-shirts with the sleeves rolled up, sharpened pencils in the front pocket (because all white t-shirts should have a pocket in the front), and visors as we buckle down and make it happen. We’ll both grow some stubble and take out some calculators with long reams of receipt paper streaming out as we calculate furiously. We’ll blare out Metallica to the point that our neighbors have to smoke their whole stash of pot to numb their senses. We’ll get high off the fumes and eat fried chicken and smoke Marlboro Reds and when we are done we will streak down Roosevelt Avenue until we are arrested. When they come to clear out the apartment, there will be news articles about that crazy couple who went mad trying to plan for the future. We will be the coolest people on C-block and we’ll never have to cook our own meals again.

Sounds like a plan.


Taking a bite out of the big apple


A theme in my life over the last couple of years has been the building level of stress that I’ve been trying my best to ignore. Turns out that ignoring stress doesn’t make it go away. So over the last three weeks or so I’ve been trying to take some specific steps to stem my anxiety and chill out a little. The hope is that by doing so, I’ll have more time and energy to do things I enjoy, I’ll fit into my own pants again, and I’ll be more fun to be around.

The trip to Acadia was an amazing eye-opener for me. I discovered that with a decent amount of sleep, plenty of time in the outdoors, and some playful exercise (as in climbing up a mountain, biking to a pond, kayaking, tubing) actually filled me up in ways I haven’t felt full in ages. So I’ve been trying my best to keep the spirit of that trip alive as best I can. I’ve kept the TV turned off a lot more. We listen to baseball games now and play cards instead of sitting like lumps on the recliners. We use the new free time to keep the apartment clean and pleasant. We cook our meals instead of going out for burgers and beer. Not only have we saved money, but we’ve eaten quite well and I’ve even lost a couple pounds. That’s without adding in any exercise.

I’ve also made quiet time for after 9:30 so I can be in bed and asleep by 10:30. I can’t tell you how much this has done for me. I feel like a new person just by sleeping more. It’s awesome.

All of these things have reawakened some creative spirit in me, too. I’ve got more time to write! And to take pictures. Instead of thinking about project ideas I think might be fun, I’m just doing them. Over the weekend, after a trip to the local greenmarket, I found myself with some free time so I tried an experiment. One apple, 25 photos. I kind of thought it would be neat. I kind of cheated a bit, and I’m a little disappointed in how it turned out once I gave in and started altering the apple, but I like how it made me think creatively. Some of the images I quite like. One is a little risque so you have to go through a safety filter to see it, but I think it is my favorite of the bunch. I don’t know that it’s any great work of art, but it was an exercise that made me feel good about me. I know not everyone can understand that, but that’s part of what makes it special. It’s entirely mine.


A month, really?

OK, so it’s been approximately one month since I last wrote. There is no possible way I could catch up in any detailed way. Some of the highlights of the last month:

– I have worked harder than ever at my job and it has stretched me beyond capacity on several occasions. For some reason, I keep going back. I think I actually like it.
– I went to Maryland to watch all the Twilight movies with my Erica. I realized after watching them all in succession that they are all exactly the same movie. And no matter how much I wish for it to happen, Bella never dies. Bitch.
– I saw my best friend off to Oregon. Since I’ve known her, I’ve seen her off to a high school in a different town and survived, college in Ithaca, grad school in Wisconsin, and two years in the Peace Corps in Namibia, but watching her move to Oregon was the hardest of all. We had a great dinner with her family in honor of her birthday and I am absolutely ashamed to say that I was not sober for that trip. I blame the stress of item one on this list for that, but really that is no excuse.
– I celebrated my 30th birthday, a year late, at a Cyclones game in Brooklyn with some great friends and family. I got to throw out the first pitch, and the whole stadium sang happy birthday to the Caitlinator (I can’t tell you how many people at the stadium thought my nickname was totally awesome).
– I worked until 1am one day so I could get on the road to Maine in time to catch the last ferry to Peaks Island to visit my aunt and uncle for their 50th wedding anniversary. What a special occasion and a wonderful event! So pleased I could be there.
– I went camping at Acadia National Park, and had a blast – hiked 10 miles, biked 20 miles, kayaked 2.5 miles, and nearly killed Billy off in the process.
– I went camping at Woodland Valley State Park in NY, and FINALLY, after 15 years of wanting to, tubed down the Esopus Creek. It was quite an adventure, and one I hope to share with you someday soon, but not tonight, as I don’t have the energy to make it a good story.

I’m sure there are other things in there that I am leaving out, but it’s on my goal list to get enough sleep every night so that I can face my mornings (and the ridiculous stress of my job these days) and that means I am off to bed now. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back online before the end of the month!


Daydreams

It’s Sunday morning. I’ve been up for a while, finishing a knitting project, watching a movie, taking some photographs, musing… It’s sunny outside, and warm, and it is quiet.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about quiet. There isn’t a lot of that in New York City. I miss it. Over the last several weeks, I’ve been thinking more and more about what it would mean to move away from here. From this frenetic pace that is so insidious it’s hard to recognize most of the time. There are the upsides, of course. Having my own grass to mow, a place to barbecue, space for a dog, less around to distract me. I could enjoy simpler things, like what it feels like to dice a tomato without the feeling that by doing so I am missing out on something more important. I might be able to find more time to paint my toenails or run through the grass or grow strawberries. To watch sunsets and gaze at stars.

There are also downsides to leaving city life behind me, too. Oddly, they stem from the same reasons I want to leave. There is always something new to do here. There is culture to experience. There is variety and abundance if I am willing to look for it. There are so many opportunities to see new things, go new places, and almost everything I could ever want, need, or even imagine I may want or need exists within a short distance of me, no matter where I am. There is novelty around every corner, learning opportunities, beauty, excitement… It would be hard to leave this behind, which I know I take for granted. There is not enough time to appreciate all a city like New York has to offer.

I keep wondering if the life I see on the horizon, wherever that horizon actually is, will be as I imagine it, or whether I’ll just end up longing for home? But I also think that a life without taking a chance isn’t really a life worth living, and I’ve never wanted to live my life without risk. Right now I’m daydreaming. I picture a small, run-down house we can call home. A place with a backyard and a patio for barbecuing. Space for our adopted dog to run. Two bathrooms. Three bedrooms. A driveway. Maybe even a garage. Shops down the road for browsing and maybe even selling, if things go well. Maybe if we’re really lucky, a washer and dryer we don’t have to share, and maybe even a fireplace for the winter or a pool for the summer. Someplace we can find peace and enjoy nature. Maybe grow our own tomatoes for dicing. Pizza from scratch from food we have grown ourselves.

Daydreaming. That’s what it feels like, but something keeps nudging me… maybe it’s not a daydream but a seed that I need to nurture. Who knows what the future can hold.