Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Hard Part

The Great Spring Clean has ground to a temporary halt. Not because of the massive amount of body aches from playing with the youth... but from an ache of another kind.

The first two closets tackled were Becka and Rachel's and Charlie's and mine. In the girls' closet, I was surprised to find it mostly contained Cameron's stuff. I could have sworn we got it all in storage (save some totes with little's stuff in my closet) last year. Everything of hers is now packed up and in the storage container at Mama's house.

Cameron has asked us to mail her stuff to her. However, what she wants is for us to pack it and drive it all the way to Mount Pleasant ($15 in gas) and put it on her UPS account. 1) She has way more than one trip in stuff and we simply don't have the money. 2) I doubt she really has the account anymore. 3) She only calls when she wants (demands) something.

Charlie mentioned we should mail some stuff to her then the same day a local deputy made his twice yearly visit to our door looking for her. Granted, he's looking for her by her previous name... but he's looking to serve her papers related to a debt. I've considered giving what information I have... but not only do we not have a number to reach her, we don't even know if she's living at the same address.

We stood before a judge, as did she, stating under oath that she was not changing her name in order to escape debt. Given the fact that I'm expected (and have been told to) lie on her behalf, it amazes me she has accused me of lying to the judge about wanting to adopt her.

If she wants her stuff, she knows where we live. We're not holding it hostage and it would be cheaper for her to rent a u-haul and come get it than to ship it all. She doesn't even have to see us. We could set a day and time, have the container unlocked for her with all her stuff up front then have our nephew (who is care-taking the property) lock it back up when she's done. Take some freaking responsibility for yourself and stop expecting us to ease your habitual running away every few years. You'll just be leaving it all somewhere else soon anyway.

pbfft... Okay. Rant over. It's a shame and it's still sad and a source of anger at times but It's been put to words so I can let go now.

If I were less prone to allowing my emotions to rule, I'd let go of my room and tackle another area of the house. If I were smart about this, I'd leave my room for last.

But nooooo... I jump whole hog into clearing the clutter and end up falling apart over a box. It's not going into storage. I promised Charlie when he saw me packing it that it would stay in our now clean closet. It's a fairly large cardboard box with "The Crew" written all over it. It contains all my printed blogs and pretty much every piece of paper, scrapbook and memorabilia we collected since 1998. Reese's book, her art portfolio and the little's collected toys are in separate totes but have been in the closet for ages. Everything now in the box has been on wire shelves in my room for as long as we've lived in this house.

The next step was supposed to be cleaning and packing all (but 3 of) the stuffies in a large garment box. It's NEEDED. They collect dust and animal fur, they clutter the room and add to the physical and mental stuffiness of the space. Charlie and I would breathe better if they were packed away.

But I just can't bring myself to do it.

Something tells me if I finish what I started and let myself write and talk about the big "I" (integration, for the uninitiated) I might be able to let the stuffies go without feeling I'm somehow packing away The Crew. Stop holding in every relevant thought and feeling and maybe it won't feel so much like I'm packing myself way in storage.

I'm almost afraid that putting it all away.. okay, most of it... would be the literal equivalent of mentally creating a wall to hide them. Watching United States of Tara doesn't help that idea. It reminds me that I've tossed all their stuff before only to have them reemerge... but then my life isn't a tv show and I know that I know that I know they aren't hiding.

How do I find the balance between letting go and holding on too tightly to let go at all?

I know the answer is in here somewhere... I'd just prefer not to think about it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Love and Hate Cannot Exist in the Same Space

Wednesday March 24, from 2:30-3:30 pm, Rachel, I and anyone else who wants to join us will be standing outside Fort Dorchester High School In Summerville, South Carolina.

We will be holding signs of love and doing all we reasonably can to surround and hide from sight the group from Westboro Baptist Church who will be there to protest.

I've read the website. Still can't quite figure out why this small town school deserves the wrath of these... people... but I will stand up to say they are wrong.
I've heard suggestions that we should just ignore them.


We're the body of Christ, right? If you had a festering, stinking, pus filled infection on your face, would you be able to ignore it? They claim to be a mouthpiece for God. If the Body ignores this gaping wound, it won't go away. It will spread.

I plan to stand up and be counted as one who knows the reality of Love... not twisted hate.

I can't ignore hate speech that claims to speak for me. I will speak for myself and hope others of my faith dare to stand up and do the same.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

On your Mark, Get Set, Go...

This morning was one of those occasions when reality struck hard enough to stop me in my tracks.


In 20-ish weeks another tiny life will enter this family and with it a new joy, responsibility and facet of life. 12 or so weeks later, he or she will be joined by a cousin... and Charlie and I will be doubly blessed.

I started to wonder if I'm truly prepared for this. Granted, my memories might be getting a little fuzzier these days but last trip to the mirror, I don't recall seeing anything grandmotherly in the reflection. Charlie at least has the Santa beard.

So I ran to Dogpile. A little web searching usually points me in the right direction for information.

Not this time. How to be a grandma yielded nothing but warm-fuzzy pages dedicated to and written by... well... by my elders. 40-something grandmothers was even worse. Every link was to some version of Hot Grandma Porn. *face palm* advice for grandparents looked a little more hopeful but ended up linking me to such no-brainers as "Don't overstay your welcome" and "Don't disrupt the routine of the family". Logical advice totally irrelevant to our situation.

I had hoped to at least find a humorous list of Grandmother Criteria. You know, the velvet jogging suit and the tissue stuffed up the sweater sleeve? ShitMyDadSays is a little crass for my taste and reveals little to nothing of grandparent-type wisdom.

One site had reader answers to the question, "Help! I'm 36 and about to be a grandmother!". While it was encouraging to read from others who have been through the gut-wrenching "Mom, Daddy, I'm pregnant" experience with their teen daughter, there was little beyond the obvious poignant encouragement to be found.

So once again, I find myself the oddball. The mother whose reaction to her 18 year old's confession of pregnancy was "You do realize this means you're never going to have your own room, right?"

I don't fit the grandma mold. Okay, beyond the knitting and fiber arts which are the ultimate in ageless cool (roll those eyes at me, I'll roll that head of yours), I've got little beyond a frizzy halo of curls and a single gray in my right eyebrow to suggest I'm about to attain this status in growing older.

So with few available resources, I'll strike out on my own in this unfamiliar territory.

Here are my 10 Commandments for Young Grandparents:

1- Thou shalt love thy grandchild with the same fierce love given to thine own child, whilst yielding parental authority to the mother and father.
2- Thou shalt be available for advice at all times whilst also knowing when to step off.
3- Thou shalt not wear shiny, artificial fibers, any design involving capri, glittered sweatshirts nor any adornment such as to inspire the remembrance of hobbits.
4- Thou shalt be appropriately awestruck by each milestone whilst never becoming too boastful.
5- Thou shalt rejoice when thy grandchild behaves as her mother also behaved.
6- Thou shalt not employ the excuse It worked with you guys to justify failure to abide the parent's wishes.
7- Thou shalt continue to pass on the timeless tales of Shel Silverstien, Dr. Suess and Robert Munsch in the traditional manner; child in lap and with liberal use of funny voices.
8- Thou shalt make frequent use of When Mommy was little... and When I was little... in thine storytelling.
9- Thou shalt embrace the adventure.
10- Thou shalt laugh.

Now to work on the subset of rules involving cartwheels, homemade slime, and not encouraging grandpa to demonstrate his vast knowledge of incendiary devices, explosives or chemicals.

Come to think of it... I may well need to come up with a whole separate list of rules for Charlie...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Moral Dilemma

Of all the things to get wound up about...

When Krys and Steve moved back home last year, they brought with them an idea and an application... Steve suggested we apply to an ABC program called Extreme Makeover Home Edition.

The premise of the show is that the producers find deserving families with homes falling apart and come in to help out. They film the whole thing and air it on Sunday nights.

First off... I hate, and I mean HATE reality television. I watch the SyFy channel's version of RT because they're funny... but avoid all other such programs. There are so very many reasons to dislike these shows... in general they aren't genuine, they suck you in and they're emotionally manipulative... just to name a few.

And yet... I'm tempted.

We have no heat. No air-conditioning. Our floors are shot. We have a huge hole in the ceiling due to water damage from the A/C unit. The windows leak. There is a hole in the roof. I suspect we've got termites trying to move in. There is electrical damage to the front room downstairs from the fireants that managed to move in a couple of years ago. The front doors need to be replaced. The back door no long locks properly. We absolutely have mold thanks to poor construction. Every room (save 2 bathrooms) needs some measure of repair to the walls and every room needs paint.

And between what I can put together selling crafts and Charlie's disability, we're still not making the bills... There's no way we're going to scrape together enough to do any home repairs.

I can't, I can't, I can't have Becka and Krys' babies crawling on these floors. I'm so desperate about the floors, I'm ready to pull up the carpets and live on plywood and concrete until we can get new floors in this house.

So, yeah... the house is falling apart. Charlie and I along with it... at a somewhat slower pace. We're at least still able to work to improve our physical situations.

As for health, Disability Insurance, wonderful thing it is, acknowledges Charlie's health problems but then insists we all wait another 22 months before any sort of health insurance will be made available to us. In the meantime, he can't replace his breathing equipment or afford his diabetes supplies and glucosamine can only do so much for the joints in us both that continue to deteriorate. By the time we get health coverage, there's a good chance Charlie won't be able to make the trip up the stairs to our room anymore.

Then there is John who is patiently waiting an official diagnosis of Asperger's... but once we finally get that long awaited appointment with the specialist at MUSC, we may not be able to pay for it.

The more I look around at all I cannot change in our lives, the more I think about this idea that, quite frankly, I could shoot Krys and Steve for planting in my head.

So I pulled out the application and looked at it. Even started filling it out... then I got to this part: PART 2) – YOUR FAMILY’S STORY (Mandatory)
Please summarize your family’s CURRENT situation and how it affects you and
your home. What makes you deserving? What makes your situation unique? (Due
to the large volume of mail we receive, please keep your answer brief)

I see the question, "What makes you deserving?" and I shut down. Heck, it's hard even to breathe reading those words. Let's forget for a minute that my own personal neuroses make me crazier than necessary... HOW THE HECK IS ANYONE SUPPOSED TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION?

I ask the kids... Krys and Steve talk about all we've been through during my recovery, dad's health and how through all that we've kept our home open to others. For a couple of years when Charlie was still at the port, he paid a friend's mortgage until he could get back on his feet.

John says we're just awesome. Gotta love that kid.

And everyone else, like me and Charlie says "uh... I dunno." Actually, I constantly flash to a Wayne and Garth style "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!"

I've tried talking Krys into just nominating us if she thinks it's such a hot idea and she gets the same deer in the headlights look I feel when I think about putting anything to print on that blasted application.

I'm so torn it's ridiculous. Even if I find the nerve to complete an application, offer up a video of my home and family and send the thing out... WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO SAY?

Am I going against my own principles even considering the idea? If not, and by some miracle we were chosen... could my sanity survive not only inviting dozens of strangers into my home but the prospect of *wretch*gag* allowing it to be nationally televised?

So I'm asking... is it worth a try? What would we say?

Or am I better off trying to sell that kidney on Craig's List?