Friday, February 29, 2008

Something else I wish I had written

No, not the offensive but sadly typical lame satire that generated it, but this brilliant plea to aspiring student satirists everywhere.


Missed Connection

I managed to attend not one, but two Chinese/Asian New Year celebrations, at which various thematic tokens were distributed among happy children.

I negotiated with the tenant over not only the plumbing issues, but the newly-resident vermin he reports.

I called our local exterminator and scheduled an inspection/estimate. His voice message says, "Hi, right now I'm probably somewhere you'd rather not be..." True enough.

Only this morning did I fully realize that this is, in fact, the year of the RAT. Next time, just hit me with a two-by-four, wouldya?


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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Addenda to rental agreement

1. Do NOT ignore the move-in letter I sent, in which I expressly mentioned the age, fragility, and likely-impending major repairs of the sewer system and asked that you a) NOT attempt any home fixes (Drano, etc.), and then tell me that *I* "miscommunicated" with you. Especially when you put up with the problem for a week and forced me to call out the weekend plumber. It's in the lease you signed, brainiac.

2. When your wife has said "uh-huh, okay, that's fine" repeatedly in conversations about how and when I am addressing the problem, don't get all blustery about how "in her condition" I shouldn't be "hassling" her. She could simply have asked me to call you.

3. Don't get belligerent about how "you didn't realize you needed to check with the landlord" about {major impending life event you are planning to have take place in the house}. Do you really want to experience {major impending life event you are planning to have take place in the house} without running water or flushing toilets, or with standing sewage outside?

4. Don't start the conversation by threatening to cancel expensive repair job if {major impending life event you are planning to have take place in the house} becomes a reality.

5. DO act appreciative when I spend an extra hour on the phone with the project manager working on ways to mitigate the necessary annoyance of major work that needs to be done immediately and offer to be "on-call" to you for the duration of the work.

6. DO express gratitude for my sensitivity to {major impending life event you are planning to have take place in the house}. The phrase "welcome to the family" was a nice touch!

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Worser and Worser

The plumbing bills are quickly approaching 10K, without the weekend's emergency service. And we'll see what the going rate for the Pied Piper is...

Yes, I know I'm boring. I'm also bitter, worried, and broke. I'm almost alliterative.

My own private recession has just become a major depression.

Damn home-ownership. What a dumb idea. Especially in this market.


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Friday, February 22, 2008

Sh%t--the literal kind

Why does my tenant email me at 11:00 p.m. on Friday night to tell me that the plumbing has been wacky for several days now and sewage is now backing up? And that rats have taken up residence in the presumably sewer-smelling basement? As a homeowner himself, doesn't he realize that this is all going to be a helluva lot more difficult and a HELLUVA lot more expensive tomorrow than it would have been, say, last Tuesday? And that now I'm going to have to replace the washer, along with the sewer lines?

I am not catching those rats--or cleaning the basement--myself. And as I am already overdrawn enough that my debit card is blocked, this all really, really sucks.


I think I lied

At least about how I am more functional single than I was married. Okay, I am, but only because I have to be. Even on sabbatical (don't hate me), I feel besieged by the pressures of everyday adult life: what to cook, how to find time to shop, when to get the oil changed, how to schedule my appointments, how to choose a kindergarten for my beautiful daughter, how to get her suit to dry between swimming sessions, where to find the time (and money) to get her a haircut, when to find the time (and money) to buy dog food, rabbit bedding, cat pills. Then there are the "big" things--the utilities bill (250$ this month; and the heating oil bill was twice what it was last time), some ridiculous change I have to make in my retirement deductions, the 300$ hole in my checking account, the badly peeling paint on the north side of the house, the articles I have to write this semester if I have any hope of keeping my job/getting tenure, the articles I have to write this semester...(as above).

I am SO TIRED of having to make all the decisions--big, small, in-between--by myself. How grown up am I going to be before I stop hating myself for all my failings? Am I ruining my daughter's chance for a healthy, sane, happy life by allowing her to creep into my bed almost every night? Am I ruining myself by sleeping much better with her warm, damp, increasingly leggy and squirming self in the bed than I do by myself?

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Plus ca change

Lots of changes chez nous. Since Christmas, I've acquired a new car (okay, new to me)--an out of character (I hope) euro-beast that my husband would certainly have a love/hate relationship with. He'd love the fine European design elements, and the ride, and hate the fact that I look like an obnoxious suburban poseur driving it. He'd also hate the fact that I care that ours is no longer the cheapest car in the preschool parking lot. I am torn about equally between self-loathing (the car is pretentious! It's wasteful! It's more car than my daughter and I need! why didn't I buy a hybrid?) and celebration (it handles beautifully in our awful winter weather! It's safe! It has a 6-CD changer, a working defroster, and a heater. And a rear-windshield wiper!) Tomorrow, they are coming to take away my husband's old car; the inexpensive and practical sedan he drove when I met him, the car that impressed me precisely because it expressed my husband's deep disinterest in using his car to define or advertise his identity. It's never really "fit" me; it gets great mileage, but was always uncomfortable for me to sit in.

It's one more step on the road away from him, as is the fact that I have yet to cry today. I've never been a fan of Valentine's Day, but for us, it was our de jure "first date" anniversary. We'd never been able to remember or designate the date at which our relationship "changed," but it was before Valentine's Day, because on that Valentine's day in 1997, he made me his special chocolate mousse. He wasn't one for romantic gestures--especially the "canned" kind demanded by holidays or movie plots. So that mousse was one for the record books. But I still haven't cried today.

Gradually, the reminders of him are disappearing from our house. The things he and I bought get replaced, or lost, or broken. I find a new picture to hang in place of the one he and I chose. I don't do this very often; in fact, I tend to leave things in place just because we (back when there was a "we") put them there, or because we chose them. The changes just....happen. My daughter and I feel, to me, like a family of two now; once, we were a family of three. I miss those days as much as ever; but it's a new kind of missing, one that's less immediate and desperate. I can no longer imagine my husband simply returning and taking up his central place in our lives. He lives, more and more, only in the past, when my daughter was a toddler, not the articulate, fully-human presence she is now. He's never been to most of the places we go; he hasn't met a lot of the people we see. He's never seen my daughter do ballet, or write her own name. I'm getting older, and he's not. That's perhaps the second-loneliest thing; the loneliest is having to make all my decisions about my daughter, celebrate all her triumphs, and weather all her storms alone. There is no making up for what she lost in him, and he in her.

Now I'm visiting kindergartens, talking to principals, checking out test scores and demographics, free lunches and extracurriculars. She could stay at the same school, but in an elementary program that doesn't offer some of what I love about her current program. She could go to either of two very likely public schools, one of which offers tons of arts enrichment, the other of which has an active parent network to supplement the classrooms. Or she could attend my personal dream school, with computers, outdoor nature lessons, music, and Spanish--if, that is, I am willing to go back to spending an hour-plus in the car every day.

When I was married, I got lazy. I was one of those wives who wanted her husband to do "his share." But when he was doing "his share," I frequently did...nothing. Now that I have no one to rely on, or fall back on, I have to do it all. And I can't let myself get too put out about it, because that makes it even more unbearable. So I work harder, do better, resent the daily hassles less--in part, of course, because there is so little outside of them.

I'm not sure that "widowed" is always my most salient characteristic. Most of the time, yes. But not always; not anymore.