Tag Archives: remembering

I am still angry

Well, this morning I had a lovely little shit surprise waiting for me at work. I was quite justifiably frustrated and I did let those responsible know that their actions were unacceptable in the future. But it did get me to thinking about something else that’s been lurking in the back of my mind for quite some time.

I am angry. Specifically, I am angry with my father. Not just for raising me in such a strict, stifling environment, although I consider that pretty reprehensible as well. I am angry because he wasn’t really there for me. I am angry that he failed me so hard. And not so much that he failed me, but that he never owned up to it and he continues to live his life thinking that everything was hunky dory when it was far from it.

It wasn’t. I suffered for years under him. And even when I tried to escape into a world he never fully prepared me for (because, as he put it, he’d been expecting me to stay at home until I got married) and I ultimately ended up stumbling and falling, he was never there for me in a truly supportive way. I could not qualify for the FAFSA until I was 24, and I could not get help getting into college on my own, but since I wasn’t “living right”, he refused to help me. Not very helpful when the one person that can help you not only refuses to help you but also berates you for your poor quality of life and for not doing anything to change it. I wanted to scream at him so many times, I can’t change it by myself! I need help! And you won’t help me! I guess his sports car and his luxury apartment in a gated community were more important than a daughter that was living in an unheated camper trailer for two and a half years in Pennsylvania (which, dunno if y’all know, but Pennsylvania winters get mighty cold). Oh, he did pay my car insurance for the car I had that was paid off (it was under his name, as I’d never had the title transferred to me when I moved out, and part of his divorce decree was that he would pay it until I was financially ready to take over). So there’s that I guess, even though he was basically ordered to do so, he still did it without giving me any hassle. Until of course the car was totaled in an accident and then I had no transportation at all, living in the middle of nowhere with no public transit whatsoever. Oh, he had extra vehicles after my first stepmother passed, but I’m not sure what happened to them. It would have been very helpful to have a working vehicle living where I was. But that would have been asking too much, ya know, because that would have required that he gave a shit.

For full disclaimer purposes, he did eventually end up helping me. Eventually. After I suffered for almost four years in poverty, he moved me out to where he was in Ohio and rented an apartment for me so I could start over. I qualified for the FAFSA at that point and I went to school through an accelerated program and I finished an associate’s degree in fourteen months. He also generously put me on his insurance because I didn’t qualify for Medicaid in Ohio (he previously absolutely refused to, so for a while I suffered without insurance until I finally caved and got Pennsylvania Medicaid and had to keep reapplying for it because I had no other options; it was far from the best coverage, his would have been much better and more beneficial to me, but he outright refused). He paid my rent until six months after I graduated, to help me get on my feet (which, I actually ended up moving to Minnesota because the landlords were horrible to me and I didn’t want to live there anymore). Oh, and when I moved to Minnesota, he did give me some money to help fund my cross country trip. But probably only because I was breaking up with my ex and moving because of that, as he didn’t like him.

So, I mean, while it’s not like I was totally abandoned, and I wouldn’t want to portray it that way, he really seemed to do the bare minimum and wait until things had reached critical mass in order to help. When he decided to help me move out to Ohio, it was because I begged and pleaded with him to help me because I wanted to go back to school. I wanted to change my life. Nobody wants to live in poverty. But I needed help and I finally got him to see that. I had found a program I wanted to do, that I could do from home, but I needed an internet connection because I had none and I had no transportation to get to classes (remember the totaled car and the no public transit?). He refused to help me with just a basic connection and I remember that I almost broke down and finally told him that I did want to change my life, but that I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed help. I think he finally realized at that point that I truly wasn’t looking for a quick fix. Somehow, something I said made something click in him that made him present the offer.

The fact that it took me four years to do so is ridiculous. In my honest opinion, a truly caring, empathetic father would have reached out before then, and not at the insistence of the child. While I don’t have children yet, I can’t imagine subjecting them to nigh-homelessness and two years of Pennsylvania winters with no heat just because I didn’t agree with how they were living. Not to say that he should have catered to my every need or given me handouts left and right, but for fucks sake, help me in some tangible way! Help me get into school so I can better my life! That’s what I wanted. That’s what I had to wait four years for until he finally gave me the opportunity.

I would think a former pastor would be more empathetic. Not him. He was never empathetic to anyone that I personally saw, much less to his own family. My mother had to constantly remind him to call his own mother. Now, I myself have difficulty keeping up with people, I admit, but even I remember to call and text (or now, facebook with) my own mother on at least a semi-regular basis. Because I care about her, it’s easy to remember. My own fiance regularly calls and messages/texts his mother as well, just to check in with her and make sure she’s doing okay. I really can’t fathom how self-absorbed one must be to never, ever remember to call or keep in touch with his own mother over the course of his entire life. I seriously remember being very young, perhaps three or four, and I remember my mother telling my father, “Don’t forget to call your mother!” Seriously. And that was a constant thing for my whole life. And not just his mother, but also other family members and a couple of pastor and missionary friends. I suppose if he could have, he would have just lived in isolation from everyone, reducing any social interaction to the bare minimum.

So, how exactly did this revelation come to me? In a dream. In the dream, I had already come out to my father as pagan (which I have in real life, as well), and for some reason I was visiting him and I was forced to go to church. I hate going to church, especially since I get flashbacks of bad memories whenever I go. I dread it. I don’t go nowadays and I don’t usually like to think about it too much more than just in passing. But, for some reason or another, he forced me to go with him. During the dream, I kind of had a moment where I snapped and had enough and I turned to him and started leaning into him, saying that this whole dragging me to church thing even when he knows I’m pagan is just rude and inconsiderate beyond anything. I started leaning into him regarding something else as well.Β  What exactly I can’t remember, but what I do remember is that I actually shamed him into silence. He couldn’t give me any answer, because he knew he didn’t have an acceptable answer.

It was one of those dreams where I woke up and my throat was hot and raw, like I’d been yelling. I laid close to my fiance, willing myself to settle down, but it took a little longer than normal to finally fall back asleep.

I think my subconscious channels the anger I still feel toward him. Anger at emotionally abandoning me (though, if he was never there for me to begin with, is it still abandonment? Or is it something else?), anger at the mold I was forced into for the formative years of my life, anger at the absolute passiveness he exhibits when it comes to his own family members, anger at the lack of love and true care I felt from him at any given time (no, paying the bills =/= true love and care). He has disappointed me in ways that I truly cannot even describe.

I have tried so many times to put together a letter for him, something from my heart, something to tell him how I feel. Not that I think that he would really change, just to basically clear myself of him. But every time I try to commit words to paper, the anger flourishes in my words and before I know it, I’m screaming at him through the page. And that’s not what I want to do. Letting him know how angry I am is not what I truly want to do, because that will accomplish as much as yelling at a brick wall. I want him to realize that he damaged me in a nigh irreparable way. That it was his specific actions that hung over me like a dark cloud. That it was his lifestyle that made me feel like I could never measure up, because I could never measure up to its standards. That it was his lack of any kind of empathy that drove me to certain depths. That the father that I should have been able to look up to, to look for in time of trouble for comfort, to look at as an example in what to look for in a significant other … that that father does not exist in any form for me. There is no comfort that I can find in him, no care or empathy or love that a daughter can draw out. To me, he is merely a shell of a person, lacking any true substance.

I hope it was all worth it for him. I was forced to suffer the consequences of the lifestyle and his personal issues, but he will be the one to ultimately live with it. He’s pretty well alienated himself, as far as long-term friends go. He’s also alienated himself from a lot of his family, including his children. I can’t speak for my sister (although she interacts with him minimally, I think so as to limit the frustration levels of doing so), but I know my brother has written him off. I personally will not be wanting him at my wedding. He won’t be walking his last daughter down the aisle. He won’t be giving the marriage blessing (not that I would want his Christian blessing anyway). And he won’t see any children associated with me. I don’t want them to have such a disassociated, disconnected, un-empathetic grandfather. To me, that is far worse than having no grandfather at all. Sorry to my future kids, but I will spare them the pain of what I went through. I know they’ll understand eventually.

And this, this right here is why the fundamental lifestyle just does. not. work. People are isolated. Children are forced to measure up to impossible standards, and when they inevitably don’t, it’s their fault for not having enough faith or giving in to the devil or whatever they want to use as an excuse. True empathy is discouraged in favour of rules and regulations. Doing the right thing is done merely for a future reward, not because doing the right thing is doing the right thing. From what I have personally witnessed, it encourages sociopathy, and, frighteningly enough, psychopathy. IFB especially can basically just make it up as they go along, based on their own little twisted interpretations of scriptures, and call it a day. Some of those can be very damaging.

I’m sure some of my readers (if I still have any πŸ˜› ) might have heard of Alecia Pennington. A group I’m a member of have been following her mother’s (frightening) blog for some time, but we had specifically been following her since her escape. She finally came out with the issue that she now can’t even prove she is who she is because her parents did not properly document her and she is having trouble gathering the necessary documents for proof. When I first watched her video, I ached for her, ached because I understood how difficult working with parents like hers are. Difficult to get through the narcissism and sociopathy associated with shunning family members at the drop of a hat simply because they don’t share your beliefs. I had been rooting for her ever since I’d heard of her escape, but now her access to a new life was blocked in a way she could not overcome without the help of the parents that more or less pushed her out.

Fortunately, more than likely due to social media pressure (as her mother shills essential oils for a living and depends on how she is presented to the public, and her father is a CPA), her parents finally backed down from their “offers” (laden with strings attached, if I know anything about people like them, and I do) and agreed to help her, period.

I hope she is able to work through her feelings about them. I know she’s fresh out of that environment, so everything is still so raw and gaping and there must be a whole gamut of emotion that she goes through. I do hope, however, despite her difficulties, that she is able to make a life for herself, a life that she wants and that she creates on her own terms. Considering her mother went on and on in a blog post detailing what basically seemed like grief associated with a child’s death – and then proceeded to shill her essential oils immediately after – I sincerely doubt that they will ever come around to the gravity of their damaging beliefs and actions.

Honestly, I doubt anyone like that will ever come around. Truly, you have to have some sort of ingrained empathy in order to recover from that level of fundie, and they just don’t have it. Like my father, they will likely flounce around forever, wallowing in their own little narcissistic world, just as full of themselves as ever. If there’s a way to truly get through to them and knock them down a peg, I have not found it yet. If I do, though, my father will certainly be hearing from me.

Whoops/More memory triggers

Already slacking in one resolution. Kind of. I haven’t neglected to write anything last week, but what I wrote I’ve been unable to edit into something I want to post, so I think I’ll abandon it for a little while to let it stew.

Instead, I’ll share a little something else, something slightly more superfluous. I was going to post this earlier this week, but it got really busy at work and I haven’t been able to edit it until now.

I’m a sucker for candles. Really, any good-smelling kind of things, like incense and wax, but candles were my first love as far as good-scented things go. There’s nothing quite like lighting one up and letting it burn, taking in the scent as the flame dances on the wick. So, whenever I walk by a candle aisle, I sneak a peek to see if anything catches my eye. Sometime last week, or perhaps the week before, as the fiance and I were in Target, we walked by an aisle that had a candle set up at the end of it. One in particular – Glade’s “Frosted Cookie Party” – caught my eye, and I grabbed it for a quick sniff. The scent was wonderful, but had a slightly different effect on me than I thought it would. Instead of reminding me of cookies, it reminded me of a certain toy I had when I was younger.

As far as toys went as a child, my tastes were pretty diverse. I’d play rough and tumble with my boy neighbors and their toy guns and wooden horses. I wasn’t afraid of getting too dirty, as I loved playing in the dirt and sand and making mud pies. I had quite the collection of hot wheels. I also had tons of girly dolls and Barbies. One in particular was a collection called Cupcake dolls. They had wide skirts with a rubber base that you could flip up and, along with their hat, make them look like a cupcake. They had no legs, as the rubber was sturdy enough to support their weight when they were in doll form. They had all kinds of accessories that transformed from sweet treats into practical accessories, like a banana split that turned into a vanity.

One of the really cool things about them, though, was the way they smelled. It was a light, sugary, vanilla kind of smell. It smelled exactly like that candle. One whiff and I was transported back to that bedroom in Georgia, transforming treat-looking toys into a vanity and a shower set up and a bed and a kitchen. Days of complex play, setting up chair-and-blanket forts and lining up porcelain dolls and searching for that perfect outfit combination for my Barbies and setting up a city to run my hot wheels through. My room was a magical space. And when I got a play area set up in the basement, I still remember clearly how it was like. It was the lone carpeted area in the section of the otherwise concrete-floored storage area of the basement. It smelled a little musty, but it didn’t bother me. I had a dresser or vanity of some sort that marked the border of the carpet along one end. It had a record player set up there, though I didn’t really use it. I think it was probably just set there at some point. I had a doll house there, probably some Barbie variety. My Polly Pockets, though, I kept in my room, as they were small and I worried about losing them in the vastness of the basement room (this was, of course, back in the day when Polly Pockets could actually fit in your pockets).

When we moved to International Falls, I had to cut down on a lot of my toys. I didn’t have a lot of the expensive variety, but I accumulated a lot (I was the last child my parents had, later in their life, so I had plenty of doting relatives and family friends to fling trinkets my way) and especially with the space I had to work with, it was accepting of a lot. Going from my large room with an alcove plus a basement play room to one small room meant cutting down on a lot. I ended up leaving a bunch of my toys for the children of the family that moved into our house to rent it from us, so the ones left behind were enjoyed.

Over the years, I’ve lost the vast majority of the things from the childhood between moves. Most of the things I don’t really care about, though I have lost a few things I truly regret leaving behind. I become quite attached to certain things. I’m working on letting go, because it causes me anxiety that I really cannot do anything about. Some things still nag at me, but I’m getting better at it. I’ll at least always have the memories, something will always come up that will transport me back to that little slice of magic that was my room.

Camp

Ah, camp. That lovely invention of summer that gives kids something to do during the break and parents a week or so of sanity, rest, and relaxation. I never went to camp as a small child, as I was very clingy and dependent on my parents growing up, besides being immensely shy and awkward. But by the time I was a teen, I decided to give it a try once I found a particular camp.

Northland Camp & Conference Center in Dunbar, Wisconsin, was my summer go-to from ages 13-17. It was a religious camp and my only experience with camp. The schedule was somewhat grueling and included required activities that I didn’t particularly enjoy, but I still liked it enough to request to keep going. I’m not sure if it was the idea of going to camp that I liked so much, or that I just convinced myself that I liked it, as looking back on it, the experience was pretty overrated. Fun, but overrated.

Wakeup was always early, because any getting-ready things that needed to be done had to be done by the time all the cabins were to line up for the daily flag raising. Then we had breakfast, followed by cabin devotions. The exact schedule varied day-to-day after that. Sometimes we’d have a cabin activity, or a camp bible session. We always had a morning chapel, at least. After lunch there were sometimes other bible sessions, team game activities (which I loathed, as I hated that kind of thing, but I couldn’t opt out), and then maybe a few hours of free time before dinner and evening chapel. One night a week we’d have an after-dark activity. There was also usually a water day that went along with the team games, but I remember one year it was so cold they almost had to cancel it. There was also a loooooong list of bible verses to memorize. That part wasn’t necessarily required, but it garnered your team lots of points, so it was always pressured.

Even though free time was pretty limited, they had many options with how to spend the time. They had a bookstore and coffee shop on site. There was an archery range. A shooting range. A climbing wall. Many, many trails for walking. A craft shop. A mini-golf course. And, of course, they had a large pond where one could use one part for boating and the other for swimming. I never got a chance to participate in the swimming, because you had to have a buddy with you, and since I never came with anyone (a lot of kids came as part of a church group) and I didn’t make friends too easily, I never had someone to go with. There’s probably other little things that I’ve forgotten about, too, but those are the major ones that stand out in my memory.

When I was 15 going on 16, my mother and I went to a special ladies retreat in Door County, Wisconsin. Door County is a lovely area, and we relished the time we spent on our little mini-vacation. I don’t remember who hosted the event or who was running it, but it featured at least a couple of people associated with Northland’s ministries, because I remember it came up in talking with a couple of women. I don’t remember exactly how it came about, but they suggested that I attend the Leadership Camp that Northland offered.

I was immediately hesitant about it, but we said we would think and pray about it. Ultimately, despite my initial hesitation, I ended up attending. Leadership Camp is two weeks instead of one, weekend stay included. The first week is pretty similar to the regular Teen Camp; we participated in all of their activities and are assigned a team, just like them, however we had our own special little sessions and individual counseling with various staff members. The second week was spent being a junior counselor in either the Kid or Teen Camps, along with a regular counselor. We also still had our special sessions and individual counseling sessions. The weekend was fairly open, compared to the week. We usually had a big group trip/activity on Saturday. Sunday we would go to a local church and sing.

The first year I went, when I was 16, I was in a deep denial of myself, my life, and my beliefs. While I had some doubts, I convinced myself of my faith and was in the midst of throwing myself into it with all of my energy. So my first year of Leadership Camp was pretty awesome. I bonded better with the other campers that joined me, probably because they were here purposefully and not just as something to do over the summer. We all had ministry aspirations. We rejoiced in our kindred hearts and drew close together, sharing our burdens and our hearts with each other and praying with one another.

The second year, however, did not go as smoothly. My denial had broken through into major issues for me. I had adopted a more goth-like look in terms of clothes and makeup. I was extremely depressed and stressed in general. I was having trouble dealing with certain traumas in my life that I felt I couldn’t get help for. Despite that, I still went, because I remembered the wonderful time I’d had and I yearned to be around people that were as kind and friendly and wonderful as I’d met the previous year.

While my fellow campers were still very nice to me, the counselors and staff were more stand-offish. I’m sure they likely remembered me from all the years I’d been attending, and my sudden change in appearance was fairly shocking. I still attended all of the sessions, still took copious amounts of studious notes, asked questions, memorized scripture, participated in everything, even if I didn’t want to. But they seemed to treat me differently, based on my looks and regardless of participation.

This became apparent during my first individual counseling session. I met with a lady in the ministry at Northland – a pastor’s wife, no less – and at first it seemed to be fairly the same as the last year. She was a different lady than the year before, but I knew her still, if only from a distance. However, not far into the session, she made a comment about my appearance being “goth”. I replied that I liked black and felt comfortable, which was true. I wasn’t wearing anything extreme, just a black shirt and black pants with thick black eyeliner. Compared to some goth kids I’d seen in the mall, I was pretty tame. But she apparently felt the need to comment on it and make a negative insinuation of it.

I brushed it off, thinking that she was probably just surprised at what would appear to her to be a sudden change. As we talked more and she dug deeper, I did confess issues with depression, especially following sexual abuse I’d suffered at the hands of a previous boyfriend. I don’t remember everything about the session, but what I distinctly remember is that she asked for as many details as I would give her (I didn’t give her much, as I didn’t feel comfortable doing so) and she simply advised me to be careful upon going home, that I wouldn’t be tempted into immorality with another man.

I remember being utterly shocked at her reaction. She didn’t necessarily invalidate the abuse itself, but she completely invalidated my feelings about it and my reactions to it (I had a lot of trouble even looking a man in the eye at the time, there was no way I wanted anyone to even touch me). I felt like she didn’t take it seriously, because she didn’t. She threw some bible verses at me, I’m sure, but I was in a haze of shock at the lack of support and empathy.

Despite the staff reaction, like I said, the other campers treated me the same. The group I was with my last year seemed to be a little looser, though still just as fervent. There was even a few regular Teen Campers who noticed my dress, asked if I was a “Christian Goth”, and immediately bonded with me over it. It must not be so bad, I reasoned as I walked to evening chapel with them.

However, that little hope came late in the second week. Before the second week even started, I was pulled aside and told – by the husband of the same lady I met with for counseling – that because of my “personal struggles”, I was deemed unfit to counsel the age group that I would be normally assigned to. Instead, I would be assigned to a younger group and paired up with the counselor I’d been with so far, I’m guessing in an effort for stability through the transition into the second week.

It was a devastating blow to me, especially because despite my struggles, I still had a heart for ministry and was still aching for chances to prove myself. My chin quivered and tears welled up in my eyes as he told me, but I refused to let them fall. I would not give in. I would not give him the satisfaction of confirming that I was indeed “broken” and that their decision was correct.

Later that night, in my bunk, I allowed myself some quiet tears, my face buried in my pillow to quell any sounds that might escape. Again, I refused to show any weakness, to anyone. I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone. I had to go it alone, because I was alone. Utterly and completely alone.

That year was the last year for me, as I’d reached the maximum age that they accepted. As I left, I clung desperately to the good memories. Laughing with newly made friends. The smell of the morning mist as it rolled in while we lined up for flag-raising. Sitting in the open courtyard in between rows of cabins, listening to a fellow Leadership Camper strum a guitar and complain about the confiscation of his Grateful Dead CD’s. The instant camaraderie felt by others who weren’t the “norm” as far as appearances went in the conservative Christian community.

However, the good just doesn’t cancel out the bad, as much as I wish it did. While I mostly enjoyed the time I spent there, the blatant condemnation and utter lack of any sympathy still linger. Like a cloud that suddenly appears on a sunny day, the rejection will always be there.

I suppose it’s all for the best, looking back, as it helped loosen some of my ties to the Christian community that was previously very tight. Because of the events that followed, I know I would have ended up leaving anyway, but this subtle bond breaking made it just slightly easier, and I guess that’s all I could have asked for.

So, if anyone who knows me from that camp reads this, if you were one of those who accepted me regardless, thank you. Your love and acceptance were and are greatly appreciated. If you were one of those who judged me instead of offering support, I also say thank you. If not for you, my journey to discover my true self and eventually into transitioning into Paganism would have been rougher, tougher, and more ridden with guilt and anxiety than it already was. Thank you for showing me your true colours, for without that, it would have been harder to show mine.

~Shine on~

Jobs

So, taking a break from my home remembrances (which is nearly finished), I thought I would take a moment to reminisce about various jobs I’ve worked at.

I got my first job at 17. It was a pretty basic cashiering job at a local store in Wausau called Fleet Farm, just off of Highway 51 on Badger Ave. I had been desperately trying to get a part time job and they were the first to bite. I think I may have made around $8/hour, but I didn’t really enjoy it. I have back problems and of course we had to stand for hours at a time. We couldn’t even lean on anything because it was seen as “unprofessional” (I had been leaning at one point and I got a call at my register because they had been watching the video feed and saw that I was leaning). Those black mats did very little, if anything, to alleviate any discomfort.

In this, I shared a first job type of experience with my bestest best friend in the whole wide world, my soul-twin, Sara. She also got her first job working as a cashier, although she worked at Pick N Save on Schofield Ave. We loved to trade cashiering stories with each other. We were the Retail Hell Underground before RHU ever launched.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to stay at Fleet Farm for long. I nabbed a job at a department store called Younkers that was one of the “cornerstone” stores in the mall. Younkers is a regional chain who, while I was working there, was a division of Saks, although in 2006 it was sold to The Bon-Ton. I started in September and worked there part-time through February of the next year. Working there during the whole holiday season is the reason I despise probably about 99% of Christmas music. They had their own little station they tuned in to, and it cycled through the same songs every single day. I swear, if I hear “Santa, baby” one more goddamn time, there will be blood.

After that, I faltered a bit in the job market. It took me months to nab another job, but I managed to get my favourite job that I’ve had so far at Hsu Ginseng.

I didn’t get a whole lot in terms of pay, but even years later, it’s still the best job I’ve ever had, hands down. I worked in the warehouse, filling orders. Race wise, Caucasians were in the minority; most who worked there were either Chinese (working as sales reps) or Hmong (working in the sorting and grading area). I think there were five Caucasians there when I was there, so it was kind of interesting, culture-wise, to see something different so close, in a nigh immersion type of experience.

When we had a company meal, there were American dishes, certainly, but there were quite a bit of ethnic food, and let me tell you, those Hmong women from the grading area sure knew how to put out a spread. That was the first time I’ve ever had purple potatoes and they were fantastic. I think they were just baked, but they were incredible. It’s kind of difficult to describe the taste … almost flowery, maybe? They mostly taste similar to regular potatoes, but there’s just a spot of different in flavour that’s hard to describe. If you like potatoes, especially anywhere near as much as I like them, you’ll like the purple variety.

The only reason I left that job is because my family moved to Pennsylvania in 2006. I initially got a job working in the warehouse part of the same company as my father, but I was fired over a little piddling bit of bullshit (meanwhile, the guy who kept sexually harassing me was kept on). I was initially very upset about it – it was the first time I’ve ever been fired – but in reflection, it was a good thing, because if they aren’t going to fire someone over witnessed sexual harassment, it’s not a company I would want to work for.

In a few months, I found another job, this time working as a CSR for Guardian Protection. It was definitely nowhere near the top of my list of good jobs. It wasn’t so much the job atmosphere, it was just the job itself. I am just not an over-the-phone customer service kind of person. It was extremely stressful and I was having difficulties with sleep during my time there. So of course when my then-boyfriend told me about a contract that was coming up with a company he was affiliated with that would be very lucrative and beneficial for him, I put in my notice and ended up quitting in July 2007.

Huge mistake. The deal fell through and we ended up with neither of us having jobs. I secured another job at Mitsubishi Electric in October, I believe, filling orders in their warehouse, but it didn’t last too long. For starters, I started off in one department doing one job. Then all of a sudden, they switched me to another department doing a much more mind-numbing job, but I was promised that it would only be temporary. It wasn’t, and I ended up extremely frustrated because I was obviously having quite a bit of financial troubles (Mitsubishi paid less than Guardian) and the “temporary” job was so boring, really it only afforded me time to fret over my troubles, which made my mental state worse. We ended up being evicted that December, and we had to move a bit of a ways away, so I quit.

Throughout 2008 was a real struggle for me. I tried desperately to find a job. I was in denial of my situation – living in an unheated camper trailer in the driveway of my boyfriend’s family – and I kept trying and trying to function. I applied for every job I could find and found some work through temp agencies. In January of that year, I started off as a receptionist for a company while their regular receptionist was on medical leave. There was a possibility she might not return, and I was told that if she didn’t, I would be offered the job. I worked my hardest and did my best, because I liked the job and the atmosphere and I got on well with the other employees. However, about a month or so later, the woman who hired me was giving a tour to another woman. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but she was then introduced to me as the person they’d hired to take over the position permanently. Just like that, I was out of a job, and in a rather painful way, too. True, I was technically only temporary, but I had been told I would get the job if the person did not return. They never expressed any kind of displeasure with my work, and it felt like I’d been stabbed in the back. I cried the whole way home that day.

I landed another temporary gig, but I quit that assignment after a couple of months because I never once did what I was told the job entailed (they were “getting computers set up” a process that apparently takes a couple of months after giving a job description to a temp agency), and I felt it was very deceptive. They also had a very particular dress code that was difficult for me to adapt to (being as I was less than dirt poor). I could wear jeans and t-shirts and the like, but there was absolutely no skin that could show when bending down. Of course, the job I ended up doing – keep in mind, the job that I was not hired for in any way, manner, shape, or form – required me to bend over a lot, and my shirts would ride up some and expose a little bit of skin. Not much skin, and no crack or anything like that, but just a little bit of back skin. Even a tiny glimpse was unacceptable, so after being reprimanded several times, I finally came in one day in the biggest shirt my then-boyfriend owned, looking slovenly and sloppy as shit, and I asked if that was fine. Unbelievably, they said yes. I quit that day.

My then-boyfriend’s step-mother worked with a park that ran a seasonal store, and I was initially hired on there to help out. Now, since I hadn’t grown up in Pennsylvania, much less the immediate area, I disclosed up front, in the interview, that I didn’t know a lot about the area and its features, but I was always open to learning about it and I had no problem doing so. I initially started as a full-time person, at manager-level, actually (yay!) and I ran the store. We didn’t get a whole lot of traffic, but it was fairly early in the boating and boat tour season, so I figured we would probably get more as time went on (it didn’t while I was there, probably because the group had next to no marketing skills and the store was tucked away in the park). We hosted a fundraiser during that time with a silent auction, and I actually spent a whole day running around and getting donations of gift certificates for them to use (I was compensated, obviously, for my time and gasoline). They ended up hiring two more people, as they’d planned to do, and I only actually met one of them (the other worked an opposite schedule to me). However, a couple of weeks after the third was hired on, I was told that they wanted to let me go. Why? Because I didn’t know the area well. Now, keep in mind, I had told them that up front, and I pointed that out to her, but she insisted they no longer wanted me in my full time position. I tearfully asked for a part-time position that I knew was open, because I really really needed a job, no matter how low the pay, and she agreed to start me on that schedule. However, it was only a couple of weeks later that they let me go for good. I was furiously angry, as the cited reason was something I myself had disclosed up front, so they could have avoided going to the trouble of hiring me and firing me by just not hiring me in the first place, but I didn’t have to exert any revenge. A big part of their little park program was owl rescue and education, and they had a beautiful owl that was basically their poster bird. Within a month after my final firing, the bird got loose during a demonstration and flew off, never to be seen again. Karma’s a heartless bitch sometimes.

I got another job soon after, though, a temp-to-hire position in the medical records department of a doctor’s office. They were still solely using paper charts at the time, so I spent my days fetching charts and putting them back and adding stuff to them. It wasn’t the most enjoyable job, but it was pretty easy, and I really liked the woman I worked closely with. She often remarked that I was the quickest trained employee she’d ever worked with, and she was very happy with me. It then came as a shock when I got a call from my temp agency as I was driving home one day, saying that the office no longer needed my services. I smelled the bullshit on that, because we had just been gearing up for a file audit and we really needed all the help we could get. It would have been impossible for the woman I worked with to do everything herself, and I’m sure the woman I worked with was furious (she wasn’t involved in any HR stuff, she was simply the only other file clerk, so she was supervisor and trainer by default rather than by any actual title). I asked him if they gave a reason, and he said no, just that they’d told him they no longer needed me. Again, shades of bullshit. I asked him to look into it for me and let me know, and I explained why. He never called me back, so I’m still at a loss as to what exactly happened.

The last job I had in 2008, and the last job I had for a long time was at a pizza shop that a couple of my friends worked at. It was the first food service job I’d had, but I liked it. The pay wasn’t fantastic, but I liked it there. I tell you what, I can make a mean pizza. πŸ˜‰ It wasn’t meant to last, however. One night, I ended up working until close with only a manager, a guy who was extremely lazy.Β  I hated working alone with him, because as soon as he could, he’d go back in the office and just hang out in there the whole time. I hadn’t gotten to stretching the dough in my training yet, so if there was an order for a pizza in a size that wasn’t already stretched, I had to practically beg him to come out and stretch me some dough. That night, I got a call from a person who wanted to place a pre-order for lunch the next day. I had never done something like that before, and I wasn’t trained to do something like that, so naturally I put him on hold and went back to the office to ask the manager to take the call. He refused. He said to just take down what the guy wanted. I told him I wasn’t trained, and he said all I needed to do was just get what he wanted. The guy ended up asking questions that I couldn’t answer, but I did the best I could, as the manager was obviously in no interest of helping me. The next day, when I came in, I was brought to the office and fired. Apparently, the guy wasn’t satisfied with the answers to his questions and he called in that morning to cancel the whole order, so I was fired because of the lost business. I broke down in there and I explained the whole situation, but the manager guy was in really good with the owners, so of course since it was his word against mine, I was the one to leave. I was pissed off to no end by the blatant favouratism of a lazy-ass employee, but I had no recourse.

After that, I spiraled downward into a state of depression so severe, I ended up on eeking out on welfare for a while, because I had no other options at that point. I won’t go into detail about it here, because this is a long post anyway, but I’ll cover it at some point.

The next job I got, I started in October 2012. I was in my next to last term of school, and one of my schoolmates recommended me at her job. It was technically in my field, and they didn’t mind that I was still going to school, so they hired me on. I did radiology billing for four radiology groups in the Northeast Ohio area. I didn’t like dealing with some of the patients calling in about their bill, but the rest of the job was – dare I say – enjoyable. I even got to take over working claim rejections, and I was thrilled with my work. I really hated to leave that job, and I only did because I moved to Minnesota. I’d broken up with my then-boyfriend and decided to start over, as my brother offered me a place to stay. It ended up being a good thing anyway, because they were soon bought by another company and then that office was shut down and everyone lost their jobs. I still keep in touch with quite a few people from that job. We were like a wacky family. Our supervisor, Colleen, seemed to have a language of her own, but we all understood her and what she wanted. She rarely ever got anyone’s name right on the first or even second try of calling out to us, yet we always knew who she was talking to, even if it was the name of someone else working there. We had some good laughs, and I look back on it with fondness.

After I moved to Minnesota, I started desperately looking for a job, as I only had limited funds with which to pay needed bills. I found one a month after I got here and I started in early October 2013. It was another over-the-phone customer service position, this time at Minnesota Life Insurance. I was in the claims department, and I did claim-related things, like starting them, checking status, sending forms, and the like. It was a very high stress job, and even though I liked the people I worked with, again, I just couldn’t handle it. I had gotten the job through a temp agency for a six month assignment with the possibility of being hired on after that initial period, but I started job hunting and turned in my notice in February, just a little shy of the six month mark. I did get offered a permanent job there, as I did good work, but I couldn’t stay there. I was becoming an alcoholic and it simply wasn’t healthy for me. When I walked out on my last day, I put in my ear buds and blasted Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” as I left for the last time.

And, that brings me up to my current job. I started in February 2014 for Healthport, a copy service that contracts at various hospitals and doctor’s offices processing records requests. I now spend my days logging in requests, quality checking them, printing and sending electronic records, copying charts and microfiche, if needed, for historical records. It was a slight pay cut from Minnesota Life, but it was worth it for my mental health. Will I stay here forever? Who knows. I’ve learned that it’s pretty foolish to say anything for certain when it comes to the future, so for now, I’m just seeing where it’ll take me.

Childhood Homes – Part 3

The third move of my childhood had us in the North-central portion of Wisconsin, namely the Wausau area. We initially moved into a rental home in the city of Wausau, then out to a house in a rural area of Mosinee, and then back into the city of Wausau before we left the area for good (my mother excluded, as she returned after leaving my father).

We moved in January of 1999, and it was bitterly cold, but my father apparently just didn’t want to waste any time in leaving. He was never very specific in why he wanted to leave and give up the role of pastor. In fact, my mother begged him to stay as she loved the area we’d been in, but to no avail. His mind was made up and could not be changed.

The rental house was the same house I detailed a little in this post. The attic was nice and spacious and we also had an unfinished basement. The porch area was small, but it was very nicely decorated. I actually have a little trouble sometimes differentiating between our rental house in Wausau and the house that we ended up moving into after Mosinee, as they were right next to each other and were actually owned by the same man. The rental house faced Emerson St, though, so the whole living room/entryway was different, as the other house actually sat on the corner and faced Weston Ave. In the first house, my bedroom was on the first floor and I had windows facing the backyard and our future house. I used to have a daybed, but that was actually a lot of trouble as far as making the bed went, so my parents later got me just a plain ol’ regular bed. I still had trouble remembering to make the bed, but at least it was easier when my parents nagged me about it. πŸ˜› The first floor bathroom, I can’t really remember, and I think I might be getting it mixed up with the other house. They really were pretty similar!

That house also had another first for me: hardwood floors! The only other houses I’d lived in previously had some sort of carpet. I was homeschooled at that point, and I did the videos from Pensacola Christian Academy. Oh my gods, I remember some of those videos were recorded as far back as 1989 … when I was but 2 years old! The curriculum hadn’t really changed though, which as I look back and think on it, is kind of sad. Certainly they weren’t ALL that old, but I think the newest video was recorded in 1997, and they tended to run from 1991-1993. I watched the lessons in the living room and did my work at a set up there.

We ended up moving not even a year later … September of 1999, maybe? I can’t quite remember. My school area then changed up a couple of times while I was there. I think it was initially upstairs in the study, but then it changed to downstairs in the finished basement in my dad’s study, as it was quieter and there were less distractions. I was only thus homeschooled the rest of sixth grade, and then seventh and eighth grade. From my freshman to my junior year, I attended a very small Christian school.

The house in Mosinee was in a rural area. We had a pretty large backyard that included a sand volleyball court and a pool (which we rarely used, because it was above ground, there was no heater, and with no heater it was very cold!). We ended up adding a storage shed in the back of the property, and I remember very vividly helping my father set up the steel beams and handing him materials so he could put together the metal building. It was a pretty easy operation, overall. Later on, we also expanded the bathroom into the old pantry for the kitchen, and then moved the sink countertop from a long counter running along the center of the kitchen (that made the kitchen extremely small and was incredibly impractical) and put it against the actual wall so it was just a wide and open space. We also expanded the garage into a three car garage before I started driving (I can’t remember if it was originally a one or two car setup). Of course, it wasn’t long after we did all of the remodeling that we ended up moving. πŸ˜›

We spent the most time in the house in Mosinee. I think my parents liked it because it was a little out of the way, sort of in the country like they’d been used to in Georgia. A big difference though, besides the fact that we weren’t as remote as in Georgia, was that the yard was a lot easier to mow, so we had to keep it kept up. At the house in McDonough, besides being remote, we were at the foot of a hill that made especially our front yard very uneven and almost impossible to properly mow. We had a lot of tree coverage, though, so the grass didn’t grow too much. In Mosinee, though, we didn’t have a lot of trees and it was pretty open, so the grass grew rather well.

For mowing we used a riding lawnmower, because of the size of the yards, and to clean up afterward, we had an attachment that we hooked onto a four-wheeler that we ran to get up all the clippings. Funny, I remember my mother usually mowed the lawn. My father rarely did it, citing allergies … however, as long as I can remember, my mother’s allergies were more sensitive and severe than my father’s allergies. He was probably just a baby. Or lazy. Or both. I’m convinced he has some narcissistic qualities, if not a full-blown disorder, so an inability to see beyond his own problems is par for the course, and I think he only gets worse as he gets older. I remember wondering about the whole allergy thing as a teenager. If it was that obvious to me, even as fully entrenched in our family and naive as I was then, I wonder how many other things slipped under my radar? My guess is quite a bit.

Anyway, sometimes I was allowed to run the four-wheeler to pick up the clippings. I had to wear a breathing apparatus and I couldn’t go too fast, but it was a lot of fun. Hot, sweaty, fun work. I might think it more of a chore nowadays, but when the novelty is all shiny and new, it’s hard to see past it. πŸ™‚

There was also a very large field in the back of our house that was owned by a family down the way. They didn’t mind if we rode our four wheelers (or drove our Ford Ranger around … which I did several times before I got my license and thoroughly enjoyed it!) around in it. It was just an unkempt field. Beyond it was woods. A few trails. Some hunting spots. I used to like to walk around (when it wasn’t hunting season) back there. I sometimes have dreams about walking back there and going even further, like there was something beyond that I never discovered (the furthermost trail I found terminated in a lake, so not sure what would be past it!).

When we moved back into Wausau, we were back in the same area as before, since our house was right next to the rental place we’d had. It was previously lived in by an older couple, and the woman moved out after her husband died. It also had wood floors, which were quite lovely. Before we moved in, we added on to the garage to make it a three car and finished the basement. My room was the basement room, which was quite nice as I was a senior in high school and it was like having a little apartment. When walking into the kitchen entrance, one could just go down the basement steps and into my room, bypassing the entire house. I even had a bathroom in there and I set up a TV and later my ps2 there. The only thing I was lacking was a refrigerator and a microwave; I would have been good to go! Of course, my parents would have rarely seen me. πŸ˜›

By that point, I was homeschooling for the last time in my school career, but I was doing it via a state-wide charter school, which was new for us. They gave us Mac iBook G4’s to use for school (that we unfortunately had to return at the end of the school year) and thus began my relationship with Apple products. I’ve loved them ever since. I set up the laptop on a table in my room, and after the laptop was returned, I set up my desktop computer there and even bought and put together a desk for it (an accomplishment I was quite proud of).

My maternal grandmother lived with us for a spell while we were in Wisconsin. She was actually moved in when we were still in Mosinee (and she was given my room, and I was relegated to a space in my father’s downstairs study, which he rarely used … I didn’t mind, though, it actually afforded me more privacy and gave me more of an escape). She was a hateful, manipulative old woman, and she pulled most of her shenanigans in the second Wausau house. I think my mother just wanted to try to mend things with her and help her one last time, but she ultimately proved that she was beyond help. She was schizophrenic, likely bipolar, a pathological liar and master manipulator. She was a dark cloud that hung around us at the end, but once she was gone, it was like a brand new day.

This was one area that I actually thought would be hard to leave, and it was probably harder than most because my most influential growing-up years were spent there. I met my bestest best friend in the whole wide world (who is quite literally my psychological twin), so that was probably the hardest part, leaving her behind. It’s actually where I would consider “home” to be; above the other places of my childhood, that is where I would really point to as my hometown. It’s also the place I pretty much know the best, navigation-wise (I don’t quite count International Falls as it was so small, it was hard to get lost!). When I was driving there to my mother’s house (well, to the Wal-Mart in Rib Mountain to meet her) when moving from Ohio, I kept thinking about driving “home”. So even my subconscious agrees with me, apparently.

Stay tuned for the house saga! The next entry on homes will be a bit bumpy, as after our family moved to Pennsylvania, things got a bit rocky for me for a while. The memories are a lot more vivid, for the most part, but I feel it’s still good to document them for the future.

And so far on our current place … there’s a few issues here and there, but mostly, fiance and I are glad to be out of my brother’s house and on our own. πŸ™‚ Our cat, Inara, is still adjusting, but she’s much better than the super clingy mess she was at first. One day at a time.

The Joys of Moving

Fiance and I have now moved into an apartment, as of the 1st. I have been lagging pretty hard since then, so I haven’t found much motivation to write. I also sustained a concussion on the Saturday before the move, so it made things extra difficult both with the move and the recovery afterwards. Maybe it was the concussion, but it seems like this was the most difficult move I was involved in. Obviously I had little to do with my family’s first couple of moves, as I was little, but the more we moved, the more I started doing. The first time I did a move solo was in 2007. I was just turning 20 and moving out of my parents house, because the controlling nature of my parents (read: my father) was causing me far too much stress. I did a “big” move, moving all of the vital, important pieces to my apartment in Zelienople, but since my parents were still in the house in Evans City, I was free to take my time gathering the smaller, non-essential items. It was pretty stress-free and about as great a move as moving can get. The move after that was hurried and haphazard. I was being evicted and I had a limited time in which to move. Of course, my boyfriend at the time did nothing as far as pre-packing went, so the move took the whole day of throwing random shit in bags and what boxes we had and shuffling it to a storage unit a friend was lending us space in and also to the camper trailer that we would be living in. We had several friends helping us, though, so even then it didn’t seem so bad, it was just overwhelming and stressful because of the events surrounding it. My next move was fairly similar to my first solo move. We had found a duplex trailer for rent and since we had no hard and fast timeline to adhere to, we were able to take our time. My boyfriend at the time actually wanted to delay moving in, but I pressured him because I really didn’t want to spend one more night of having to navigate a driveway and two flights of stairs just to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. We stayed in that duplex trailer for a nice chunk of time until my father finally offered to help us. The deal was he would move us out to where he was in Ohio and would pay our rent while I went to college and my boyfriend either worked or went to college (which, he essentially ended up doing neither) to help us get on our feet. We spent our first night in that apartment on October 31st, 2011. We had taken most of our stuff via my father’s truck, but we had left a mattress and sofa, intending to come back for it. However, by the time my father was able to drive us out there a couple of days later (our car was totaled by that point), the mattress was in the landlord’s truck and the sofa was left in the duplex and a new tenant was already there. We let him keep the sofa (he said he didn’t have a bed … which, if that’s the case, I have to wonder why the landlord didn’t just let him keep the damn mattress, but the landlord was a fucktarded drunk). Anyway, it was no harm no foul for us, as we were able to find free furniture to supplement us. By that time, we had lost the storage unit we’d rented because, as I think I’ve mentioned before, my boyfriend was somehow averse to paying bills. I didn’t even get a chance to get some cherished things from the storage unit as same boyfriend was an idiot and lost the damn key. There are some things I truly regret losing as a result, but there’s nothing I can really do about it now but be grateful for what I was able to rescue before the key was lost. The last move before this one was very harried, but it was pretty simple. I had just broken up with my boyfriend two weeks prior. We were having to move anyway because the landlords we had were wanting to raise our rent to something we couldn’t afford when the lease was up at the end of the month, so I decided to act on my brother’s offer to move me out to the Twin Cities area. It was as last minute as you can get without it occurring in the same day. I finalized and came to terms with my decision on a Thursday night. That Friday – my last payday before the end of the month – I gave my notice at work. I cashed my paycheck and spent that night packing. I packed all day Saturday and ran a few needed errands. My father mercifully sent me some money to help fund my cross-country trip. That night I packed up my car with as much as I could fit into it. I barely slept, between nerves and my new kitten wanting to play with me. I think I got about four hours sleep total, maybe. At that point, I’d last eaten some ramen on Friday night. I woke up early Sunday morning, drove to the closest Wal-Mart with an auto center for an oil change, and then set off. My last thought (and facebook status) before I left the parking lot was a quote from Pirates of the Caribbean: “Bring me that horizon.” I spent almost all of Ohio in crying jags. Heartbroken at what had only just happened. Overwhelmed at what I was currently doing. Scared as to what was going to happen in the future. I knew that it was the best choice I could make, but it was still extremely stressful, and I’d been so busy trying to get everything done that I hadn’t had any time to process my breakup of a six year relationship. Through Indiana and Illinois, I started feeling better. Having crossed state lines, I was feeling more accomplished and excited at the prospect of a new life. Once I crossed over into Wisconsin, however, the reality of only having about four hours of sleep started to set in. I also hadn’t eaten yet that day, as my cat started fussing up a storm whenever I stopped for too long, so any rest stops were as quick as possible. I had drank a couple of energy drinks, but they made me have to use the bathroom too much, so I resorted to dragging on my e-cigarette. The last 100 miles to my mum’s house in Wisconsin, I swear I was constantly taking drags on it. It likely saved my life, giving me the little boosts I needed to keep going. We had agreed to meet at the Wal-Mart in Rib Mountain, a place and area I was infinitely familiar with as we’d spent quite a bit of time in the area. However, by that time, I was so tired, I honestly couldn’t tell if I was pulling off at the right exit or not, but I figured I could always pull into a parking lot and call my mother and just tell her where I was and to come get me. Fortunately, my instincts were correct, and I took the right exit. I paced outside my car, jumping around and trying to wake myself up. Since my mother had a new house that was somewhat difficult to get to, she wisely decided to just meet me. Bless her, she brought my stepdad, so I was able to hand my keys over to him to drive my car as I truly didn’t feel safe behind the wheel. Bless her for also stopping at a Taco Bell and buying food for me. Tacos and burritos never tasted so good before. I ended up spending several days at her house, just resting and recuperating from the whole ordeal. That Friday morning, I drove the three and a half hours to the Twin Cities area to avoid the Labor Day holiday traffic, and I stayed in that house until the beginning of this month. While that experience was very difficult and draining, I’d actually say this last move was the worst I’ve had so far. My fiance and I didn’t have anyone to help us with the move, so we packed up what we could here and there, but there was still various and a sundry little things that we couldn’t do anything with until the day of the move. That morning, we walked over the Uhaul place and picked up the truck, deposited my portion of the rent money in his bank account, and then loaded up the truck. The big stuff was actually the easier part at that point, it was getting all the little things put in bags and boxes and getting them on the truck that took the longest. Once at the apartment, it was almost the opposite that was true, and the little things were much easier to haul up the flight of stairs to the second story apartment. The memory foam mattress was the worst thing we struggled with. And the lightheadedness and headaches I kept getting from the concussion were not helping, either. We got everything done, however, and we were both so glad we had the next day off. The day after, though, we both had to go back to work, and I think that’s what made it the worst: the feeling of little respite before getting back into the normal schedule of things. At least with the previous move, I had no job to get to at that point, so I could take my time to recuperate before being thrust into a schedule. Most of the major things have been unpacked so far, most of what remains is just clothes, which need to be sorted. Joy. I’m hoping to get in on that this weekend. Hopefully. πŸ˜›

Thanksgiving

Because of the holiday yesterday, I think I’ll take a break from my home series to reminisce on past holidays. ‘Tis only appropriate. πŸ™‚

Thanksgiving was quite the affair, as I’m sure it is for many families. While Christmas dinner varied, Thanksgiving was always the same. Turkey with stuffing, dressing, cranberry sauce, potato salad, corn, green beans, mashed potatoes, candied yams, pumpkin pie. Of course, this was back when barely anything was open on Thanksgiving, so if you forgot something, better hope the neighbors have some or you went without that year. My mum was very organized and usually had things together, but there was a time or two she forgot to pick up something small and a recipe had to be modified or we ended up going without.

She was very smart about the dinner making, though. She always made the turkey the day before and had it carved and in the refrigerator for the next day. She started making more and more the day before until it got to the point where everything was ready by lunch time, so we started having our Thanksgiving meal for lunch. I think it worked out much better that way, just go ahead and get the meal over and done with, then relax and hang out, then just heat up leftovers for dinner.

When we were living in Georgia, we were living around our family, and I’m sure we visited them on Thanksgiving, but I don’t remember it very clearly. That or it blurs with Christmas visitations. I do know my maternal grandmother made a caramel cake that was probably one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth. I finally found a recipe for it last week, so it is on my list to attempt for Yule.

This Thanksgiving was a little lackluster, compared to past ones. Most of our money is tied up in moving right now, so we didn’t have the extra to get special stuff for a Thanksgiving meal. We ended up just eating some lasagna and cheesy garlic toast. But, it was still wonderful all the same, to get to spend it with my fiance. We geeked out a good part of the day, setting up bookings for his wrestling game, then he played some of his football game while I took a quick nap. Then some reading and snuggling time, followed by dinner and a movie. We decided to watch a movie that’s so bad it’s good: No Holds Barred, starring Hulk Hogan. Oh gods, it was terrible. But it was hilarious. One of those movies where it’s fun to snark on as you watch it ala MST3K.

This holiday, for Yule, I intend on doing a little more cooking. Maybe actually have a bird. If a bird is possible, then I’ll definitely be making some of my mum’s dressing. Some candied yams. Mashed potatoes. And at least an attempt at the caramel cake. I actually like being domestic, when I get the chance to be.

But, no matter what happens this holiday season, I’ll do my best not to get caught up with details. I’ll simply enjoy the time I have withΒ  my fiance. After all, we have life, we have each other, and that’s all we really need.

Childhood Homes – Part 2

So, continuing in my series. πŸ™‚ The home in McDonough, GA, was the first home I ever lived in. It was the only home I knew until March of 1997, when my family relocated to International Falls, MN so my father could take over as senior pastor at a church up there.

It was quite the culture shock. Even in March the snow was hip deep on me at 9 years old. We had visited there once before as a family, so I was familiar with snow, but the fact that this was now where we would be living started to set in as a reality.

The house we lived in for almost two years was a rental that was owned by one of the members in the church. It was a two-story (my first and only) with an unfinished basement. I remember being really excited that my bedroom was upstairs. I don’t know what it was, but I’d always had the childhood fantasy of having at least a two floor house and having a bedroom on an upper level. I’m not really sure why. Maybe the allure of the unknown? Nowadays, screw it, let everything be on one level. Fuck stairs. But back then, it was a new experience that I embraced wholeheartedly.

My room actually changed after we were there for a little while. When one walked up the stairs and went down the hall, there was a bedroom at the near end of the stairs, one in the middle, and the end of the hall terminated into the master bedroom. I initially had the middle bedroom, which was smaller but had a closet. I later moved into the other spare bedroom because it was roomier. The middle room was okay, but I really preferred the one on the end anyway. It had a window that looked out onto our postage-stamp sized backyard and garage, the back alley, and then a neighbor’s backyard and further still the neighborhood as a whole. The middle bedroom window just looked across at another house. No real view. The only nice thing was there was a tree beside it where a white-throated sparrow lived. I loved hearing the sound of its call. But I still preferred space and a better view.

The switch meant that the study was moved from the end bedroom and to the middle bedroom. That was where the computer got moved. By this point, we had internet, but I didn’t even know how to use it other than e-mail. And I didn’t know anybody’s e-mail address, so it didn’t matter anyway. We had a family Juno e-mail address but I can’t remember exactly what it was. To me, computers were only good for tetris, pinball, and paint. The most fun thing in paint I did was a basic basket weaving design, going pixel by pixel to create the pattern. I never saved it, I have no real clue why I did it. It was just fun, almost relaxing. I was an odd child. πŸ˜›

The kitchen, while small, had a sliding glass door that opened up onto a back porch. We loved cooking on the grill out there and the door was convenient and also provided a nice view for us. Another first for me, along with window blinds! The house in GA never had any blinds while I was there, only curtains, and I gotta say I really fell in love with blinds after that.

The garage sat directly in the back of the house, separated from the structure by a miniscule yard area (another first, again). There was an attic storage space in the garage, but I was scared to go up there because it was high up and the space between the creaky wooden steps did not help my vertigo. I remember, after a while of living up there, somebody broke into our garage and stole the CB radios my parents had in their cars that we had used for the cross-country move (since nobody in the moving party had cell phones). It was the only crime I was ever aware of living up there, so it was a bit startling, but it soon passed. We never really had any news coverage, so it’s hard to say what the crime was really like, but it was a quiet town with the feel of being stuck in the 50’s. We used to joke that if the world ended, it would take ten years for us to hear about it. At the time, International Falls didn’t even have their own news or radio station, we had to go on a station out of Duluth – three hours away! International Falls isn’t just a small town, it is very remote. But it was lovely.

It was the kind of town where I could ride my bike to the library and back alone with no fear. Or down to the grocery store to run an errand for my mother. I think the only actual grocery store was Super One, and it was about five or six blocks away from where we lived. It was in a plaza with an ice-cream type of restaurant, a sit-down restaurant, and a theatre that had a grand total of three screens, that I remember. Looking it up via google, it looks like they’ve likely expanded to five screens since then, as I honestly don’t remember it being that big. I only remember two or three screens at the most. Slightly aside, but I remember going to see Flubber and the reel messed up about halfway into the movie. We got free tickets to another showing of it for our trouble.

One thing that people probably wouldn’t expect when visiting is the smell. There is a paper factory in International Falls – Boise Cascade – and also another one on the other side of the Canadian border in Fort Frances, Ontario. The smell is … unique. It takes some getting used to. The closest thing I can use to describe it is the smell of cooking cabbage. Once you get used to it, you barely notice it, unless the smell happens to be particularly strong, which happened once in a while.

While I was up there, there was a lovely little store that I loved to go to. I can’t remember the name of it, unfortunately, and from what I hear it was closed down years ago. It had a wonderful variety of things from all kinds of winter wear, supplies, a large wall stacked to the brim with moccasins, and various and a sundry little toys. I got most of my beanie babies from there as well as my first pair of moccasins. I’m not sure why, but the way they are made make them excellent for warm house footwear, which is very useful when anything over zero Fahrenheit is considered a heat wave.

That was obviously the biggest difference between Georgia and Minnesota: the weather. We had to learn how to layer (and learn fast!). As southerners through and through, we really didn’t understand the concept of layering for warmth. Long underwear? Unheard of, except in maybe movies or the like. And at that level of cold, gloves and a hat are a must, not a maybe. I’ve also lived in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and while it gets cold in the winter, hats and gloves aren’t required winter wear. In Minnesota, they definitely are.

There are also little differences that one probably wouldn’t expect. A “casserole” is a “hot dish”. Milk is available in bags. It’s customary to ask someone if they want something three times. And, of course, the long Minnesota goodbye, where guests and hosts can spend literally hours preparing to leave each other. There’s a German/Polish/Eastern European influence in International Falls that just isn’t quite present in rural GA, so the cuisine can offer different things as well. We had pierogies for the first time (and loved them). If one ate fried fish, it was a good chance it was walleye (which has a very good taste to it and is a plenty in Northern Minnesota). Brats and sauerkraut was a thing. Jell-o salad was a go-to for gatherings. Soft drinks were referred to as “pop” and not “coke” as they are commonly referred to in the Atlanta area of Georgia.

Overall, it was a wonderful place that I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved the freedom I was allowed and the places I could go just all on my own. I loved the large and spacious library that was mere blocks away. I loved the little park area that I could visit and where the Fourth of July festivals were held. I loved the quaintness of the town. I’m not sure I would like to live in a town that remote again, the kind where almost monthly trips to a city three hours away to do any decent shopping are required. But I have lovely memories of it and it certainly has quite a few high spots, despite our short stay there. It was my first glimpse into the world outside of the house on the little dirt road, and I was fascinated.

Childhood homes – Part 1

I haven’t written a blog post in a minute as I’ve had several things come up and just haven’t had the time nor inspiration for it. However, rather randomly, I thought I would go through remembering each home I grew up in. A couple of homes, we didn’t end up staying in for long, so I might condense those, but at least this one I will devote one full post to, as it’s the first home I lived in.

The first home I ever lived in was in McDonough, GA, out in the boonies. Go down one particular main road, make a turn off to a road in between two cow/horse pastures (whose cows and horses were only there briefly while I was growing up…where the owner lived and what happened to them, I have no idea), make a left at the end of that gravel road onto another gravel road, and we were the last house down that way. We only had two neighbors. Nowadays, developments have bought up all the surrounding property and housing is being put in, so it’s nowhere near as isolated as it used to be. But back then, it seemed like we were a world unto itself.

We had a nice bit of property stretching all around us. Our very large front yard was dotted with trees, but our smaller backyard was more cleared. The land was uneven, as there was a hill on one side that went up to one of our neighbors, and so our lawn was not the manicured perfection one might see in suburbia. I certainly couldn’t go out barefoot as we didn’t really know what all was out there (I did once, that I remember, and got a rusty bit of wire lodged deep in my foot for my trouble). I remember, next to the pathway that went from the driveway to the front porch, there was a dogwood tree. It was there that we had a bird bath setup, and I enjoyed watching the birds sometimes.

I also got a swing set in the front yard, with a couple of swings, a little swinging device that sat two kids on either side (I’m not really sure what it was called…you didn’t really need two on either side, but it was just normally meant that way), and also a slide. It wasn’t an elaborate setup, but I enjoyed playing around on it.

Between what I would call our main front yard and the road, there was just an open field of grass. I remember my dad had taken me out there to try to teach me how to use a baseball bat, but I was woefully unsuccessful at picking up the proper hand-eye coordination. We still played catch sometimes, though, using a tennis-type of ball and these velcro catchers. Other than that, I don’t remember playing much with him. I watched him doing home repairs and various things over the years, and I became his little helper by handing him tools and supplies, but playing? I don’t remember much of that.

My parents built the house that we were in. By the time I came along, they’d added on to it, so it had three bedrooms upstairs, plus an office space and a storage space in the finished basement (which I eventually got a little play area set up in the basement as well). My room was rather large, with a closet that stretched from wall to wall. On one side of my closet, there was a small alcove I could climb up into. I spent time in there reading, it was a little safe place for me. I loved it.

Since I came along so long after my siblings (my sister and brother were 18 and 16, respectively, when I was born), the third bedroom was converted into a study area that was then used as our little school room once I was started on homeschooling. It was pretty small, but it fit our needs just right. My mother also had her sewing machine and supplies in there as well.

The master bedroom was nice and spacious, with its own bathroom and a walk-in closet. I remember one time, during homeschooling, my mother was teaching me about how some Christians were persecuted in other countries, so she had us pretend like we were them. We wore scarves to conceal our identities and we had to sneak around and get to the closet, knock, and then do our Bible lesson there in private, in the near dark. I’m not sure why, but it upset me greatly and scared the shit out of me, so she actually stopped the lesson and we finished it outside of the closet.

We had a pretty nice kitchen set up with a lot of counter space. The washer and dryer were also in the kitchen, but they were easily hid with sliding doors when they weren’t being used. Walking through the kitchen, one would arrive in the dining room area. It wasn’t overly large, but it was barely partitioned off from the kitchen, so it was like a big open space. For a while, our piano was along one wall, and we eventually had a computer set up there. It was one of the ancient ones that had the four separate boxes on the screen with the programs listed. I always liked to play tetris and solitaire and eventually pinball. We had no internet, obviously, and I had no real use of the computer other than the occasional game.

A door on one side of the dining room was our side door, and my parents eventually put up a nice little deck there. It was a nice little size, though nowhere near as big as the front porch that stretched across most of the front of the house. I remember one year, a bird built her nest in one of the shelves we had out there. I loved peeking in at the eggs and then the baby birds once they hatched, though I had to be cautioned against handling them as I wanted to pet them.

When we eventually got a couple of goats, we fashioned a pen out in our back yard for them. The pen was just into the treeline, so they wouldn’t be directly exposed to wind, and my dad built an overhang for them and we had a couple of igloo-type of shelters for them to get into when it got cold. I loved having them, and I’d play around with them. The kids they had were especially adorable, the way they’d just jump around and run and skip.

While there were plenty of trees surrounding us, there was only one that was any good for climbing. Most – if they weren’t evergreen – didn’t have branches that were low-hanging enough for me. There was only one, beside the goat pen, that I was able to scale. I remember the first time I was able to climb it, I felt incredibly triumphant. It wasn’t very high, but I still climbed it!

One very specific thing I remember … we had a garage that was built in to our house (it sat below the master bedroom), but as far as I remember, the vehicles were never put in there. It was used as storage, but not vehicle storage. I remember when we moved and my parents started putting the cars in a garage, I thought it was such a novel concept, as I’d previously thought that a garage was pretty much just for storage. I must have seen other people put cars in garages – my sister, specifically, comes to mind – but I guess it didn’t really click for me until I saw my parents do it.

Going up the pathway to the front porch and through the front door, we had no entryway, the front door just opened up into the living room. We had a large picture window, and we had a small TV set up there. We didn’t have cable or satellite or even an antenna until ’96 when the Olympics came in town, but we had a VHS player and we played a lot of movies. There was a nice fireplace across from the sofa, but it was never used throughout the whole time that I was there. I’m not sure if my parents ever used it, but when I was maybe 6 or 7, they had the fireplace taken out and they put the piano there. I remember I was initially upset, as even though the fireplace wasn’t used, I still loved it. I watched the contractor – a church friend of my parents – tear it out, insulate the wall, and patch it up. While I was initially unhappy with the change, I eventually got used to it.

I really loved that house. Even though we were pretty isolated, I loved the freedom I had to roam around the yard and the treeline and play. And while I sometimes wished I could go outside without having to put on shoes, I was pretty content. I’d actually randomly thought here and there about what if my family moved, even just to another home, and I’d start thinking about all the things I liked about our house and decide emphatically that I never wanted to move away. Funny how when my parents announced that we were going to move to Minnesota and asked me if I would like that, something just clicked in my mind and I said I would like it. I’m not sure what happened that day that changed my view, but it was very quick and sudden, like someone flipped a switch in my mind, and I was all of a sudden okay with moving away and losing the friends and community I had.

Since we moved several times still throughout my life, perhaps that is why I find moving to be an easy thing, mentally. While, at each place I’ve lived, there are places that I love, I don’t find myself tied to one particular area so much that I would never leave. I sometimes do wonder what it would be like to feel that kind of connection, but it doesn’t bother me that I don’t have that. I like the semi-nomadic life I’ve had. I’ve experienced a range of things I never would have otherwise. And I have a pretty good sneaking suspicion that I won’t live out the rest of my life here in Minnesota … and possibly not even in the United States. πŸ˜‰

Lovely stress

I’ve had a long relationship with stress in my life. Most recently, today, apparently my car decided to stall while my fiance was on the way home. Its fate is unknown as of yet. We are supposed to move into a new place on December 1st, and not having a car is going to make things very difficult for us. My stomach is in knots and I feel dizzy.

But this is not an unfamiliar feeling. I’ve struggled with stress my whole life. I even remember it as a child, that sickening feeling in my stomach, the inability to shut down the racing thoughts in my head. I don’t always remember specific instances, but I remember the feeling.

I clearly remember lying in bed in an old apartment of mine, facing eviction, unable to sleep because I couldn’t stop worrying about what I would do, where I would go, what would happen to me. I ended up practically homeless, living in an unheated camper trailer in the driveway of my ex’s parent’s house. Like the Mary and Joseph in the Bible, there was “no room in the inn”, so we were relegated to the trailer. In Pennsylvania, it gets bitterly cold in the winter. I had to resort to only bathing once a week, because peeling off all the layers for a few minutes just to pull them back on was such a chore. I dreaded sleeping at night, when it really got cold. I pulled on as many layers as I could, including a hat, and pulled the blankets over my head to conserve as much heat as possible, though I was still chilled throughout the night. Going to the bathroom was a real experience, as there was no running water or working toilet in the trailer, so I’d have to pull on boots and my winter coat and carefully traverse an icy driveway to climb two flights of stairs in the house just to get to the closest bathroom.

Even the duplex trailer we managed to nab and move into, there was still issues there. My ex was a pillhead, and as such he usually squandered his check on pills, giving little regard to our bills. Our electric bill got so ridiculous, we had to be put on a payment plan. There was several times the landlord had to come knocking about rent, and he was far from a gentle man. The vibe he gave off was gruff and unfriendly, and sometimes scary. There were times that I simply dodged into our bathroom or our bedroom (where he couldn’t see in) when I noticed him walking towards our trailer. He wasn’t always coming to us, but when he did, I would ignore his knocking, because I didn’t like dealing with him, especially when I always got the wrath that should have been directed at my ex.

I also remember, in that duplex trailer, we only had one car for most of the time we lived there, and my ex used it to get to work. After that car was totaled, he hitched a ride with friends, but it still put me in the position of being absolutely alone all day. A lot of times, he would go get stuff with his friends after work. Sometimes he would be home quickly, but a lot of times I was waiting for him long into the night with absolutely nobody there, nobody to talk to, nothing to do except watch TV (when the cable was on…our neighbor allowed us to hook into his cable for a small fee each month, but my ex was not faithful on any kind of bills). It drove me up the walls, especially when there was no cable. He was my only real human contact, and I felt abandoned most of the time. Alone with my thoughts and feelings, which tended to overwhelm me. I was living there when I lost all faith in the Christian religion after being coldly rebuffed by a pastor that I personally knew. I’m sure he doesn’t know this, but his refusal to help a member out by simply giving them a ride when they had no other options sent them into a downward spiral that resulted in leaving the Christian faith. I could go on about this, but I won’t. Not on this post at least.

Back on topic, a familiar bolt of panic shot through me when my brother messaged me on facebook and told me that his new boyfriend (of less than a month at that time) was going to be moving in and fiance and I had to move out by December 1st. I remember I actually cried because of the short timeline (this was the end of September) and the fact that not a lot becomes available in Minnesota in the winter because people generally don’t like to have to deal with ice and snow when trying to move. Of course, my brother is oblivious to many things, and I’m sure he thought nothing of it. But I think of these things. Hell, it seems I think of every little thing, and I panicked. I cried. I hyperventilated for a minute. All kinds of cuss words ran through my head. But my fiance was my rock. He assured me we would find a place and that I would never have to go back to the kinds of situations I’ve been in.

And he was right. We found a place, and despite a couple of miscommunications and missteps, we have the place secured. And then this happens with the car. Always something, it seems, that seems to be the theme of my life. I can’t seem to have anything good happen in my life without something happening to interfere or deflate it. I try to not let things get to me, I try really hard. But I’m a worry-wart by nature (thanks, Grandma) and with an anxiety disorder stemming from PTSD, I have physical issues that is difficult to deal with without proper medication. But, because of various circumstances that I don’t feel like going into right now, I can’t get what I need to help. So, I just flounder here and there and go on as best I can. My heart is still in my stomach as I await to hear the fate of my car. I can only hope and pray to the gods that everything will be okay.

 

ETA: Fiance made it back to the car and it started and he was able to get it home. We are hopeful he’ll be able to pick me up tonight as I’m not really dressed to walk over half a mile in the cold and snow to the bus stop. I swear, if it’s not one thing it’s another. My life can’t be going good for too long! Damnit, Loki, gimme a break!