Soul Doubt: 01/2008 - 02/2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008

It strikes me as somewhat curious that much of what I write here I attempt to filter and slant to make all seem quite well in my life. And don't get me wrong- I think that overall, I'm a fairly happy person these days, with most of my demons long since exorcised or at least beaten into submission. But of course things aren't always A-OK, I still live daily with doubts and fears and misgivings and guilt, and at times my happy face is just that: a face.

I would say that this last week has been more difficult than most. I've caught myself several times slipping into a semi-daze of depression- never quite getting going throughout the day, just spending my time wandering through the house in my pajamas, drinking cup after cup of coffee but not eating... bouncing aimlessly from site to site but finding little of interest online... attempting to escape through the reading of a good book, but having to put it down after scanning the same paragraph a half dozen times yet still unable to have told you what I'd just read... electing to not answer the phone when it rings, for no other reason than instinctively needing to jealously guard my solitude...
Sadly enough, that's how it's been for me lately. I wouldn't categorize it as a full-fledged depression- after all, I'm still devoting a certain amount of time to the necessities. I guess I'm more just drifting on a sea of apathy, really.

Financially, things could be better; maybe that's part of it. There's a certain amount of strain between my husband and me in regards to my spending- we avoid talking about it, because it invariably leads to arguing, but the money issue lurks silently around the edges of our conversations nonetheless. I agree that I'm careless with money at times; he obsesses about the green stuff entirely too much, to the point where I end up calling him a stingy, greedy bastard- words I instantly regret the moment they tumble from my mouth, but of course cannot take back nor assuage the sting of their having been flung. The bills always get paid, and it's rarely that we're significantly late in doing so. We want for very little, in my opinion. But with a child, come goals, and long-term ones at that- perhaps that's the source of the tightly controlled panic I hear in Tony's voice when he speaks about our future. It's difficult to imagine buying a home, paying for good schooling, and achieving a higher standard of living financially when we have loused up our credit so badly in our past, are still somewhat in debt with various creditors, and literally live paycheck to paycheck. Sigh. Now that I'm keying this paragraph onto my computer screen, I can empathize so much more with Tony- how stressful the role of "Man of the Family" must be, his overwhelming desire to provide for us coupled with guilt for not being "good enough", "rich enough", or "smart enough" to figure out a way to propel us up the ladder another rung or two. I want so badly to assure him of his worth, his success in MY eyes as a husband and father, in a way that truly hits home, but hesitate to even bring it up, afraid that I might fail miserably in my approach and just end up making him feel all that much worse, a subject of pity to be consoled. He's a very proud man, my Tonydaddy. But aren't most of them, for that matter?

So I stay silent, as does he, and we talk about inconsequential matters- I, still in my pajamas at 2:00 in the afternoon; him, outwardly his regularly upbeat smiling self, but with shoulders knotted tense with the stress of trying to hold it all together. Both of us watching our precocious son intently as he struggles to keep his balance in this new, upright position, standing on wobbly bowed legs with a beatific smile on his face.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Good Times, Bad Times, You Know I've Had My Share

This last week has been one of ups and downs, smiles and frowns. Some of the bad news is that my hundred hours of community service (which took me nearly eight months to complete, and I finished back in December of '06) somehow has gotten lost in the labyrinthine system of the courts, and my probation officer called me this morning to inform me that it was my responsibility to rectify this error. She had looked through my file there at Probation & Parole, saw notations that it was being completed throughout the months, spoke with my former P.O. and gotten her assurance that yes, I had completed it, and that I had shown her the slips; but the Community Service Office at the courthouse apparently has no record of any of it being done, so she was assigning me the task of going down there and finding out what they needed to verify it was done. Something that, frankly, I am not so confident in being able to do. I mean, like they're gonna just take my word for it? Of course I don't have any paperwork anymore- I turned it all in to them! And my P.O. said to not be so sure that just my putting a face to my name by going down there will do anything- they've gone through numerous staffing overhauls throughout these last couple years, and chances are slim that anyone from back then still works there. So it looks like my only hope will be to go down to the places where I actually did the community service, and seeing if they had records of it still, or would be willing to attest to the fact that I did it there. I can only hope and pray that they do... if not, I'll bet I have to redo the entire one hundred hours, all because of someone else's misfile. Arggh!

Another lousy thing is my grandmother's deteriorating health- this Tuesday I spent all day, from eight that morning til nearly three in the afternoon, hustling her from appointment to x-ray to blood draw to pharmacy... all in the hopes of avoiding another hospital stay. Well, this morning she was once again admitted to KMC, so all our efforts were for naught. Her congestive heart failure is causing fluid to accumulate in dangerous amounts in her lungs and extremities, and the diuretic her doc prescribed isn't working, so once again we're waiting with bated breath to see if she'll come out the other side of this. It's both disheartening and exhausting for all of us, the family, so I can only imagine how difficult it must be for Grandma.

On the bright side, tonight we'll be hosting my little sister and her fiance for a spaghetti dinner and some Scrabble. It's something we don't do nearly enough- entertain, I mean. All too often, I just toss together something quick and easy- why toil away all afternoon at a five course meal for just the two of us? So, this'll give me a chance to cook a great- albeit simple- dinner, have some great company and conversation, and kick some serious ass at Scrabble!

Another cool thing going on is Tonydaddy's great escape this weekend- he's going on a men's retreat through our church, or rather our church's denomination- the Evangelical Free Church of America. This is so awesome how it came about: someone actually donated the funds for his ticket, knowing we couldn't really afford it, which was why he had planned on skipping it. We could've swung the cost of the trip, but there was also going to be skiing, shooting, meals, etc., and that would've been a bit out of our reach. This way, he'll be able to enjoy the whole thing, thanks to some nameless Christian's generousity! Amazing how God works like that, when it's something worthwhile. I'd been praying for Tony to realize we could afford it, even if it would've made this month's finances a little tight, just because I knew how much he would enjoy himself. I mean, being with a bunch of other Christian guys out in the middle of nowhere, blowing stuff up, skiing his heart out (something he grew up doing almost daily but has had to give up in recent years)... of course I wanted him to go! And now he is. Thank you, God. Thank you, Good Samaritan.

This'll also give me a chance to spend some time with family during the four days it'll be just Jameson and I- we'll be going to dinner with my aunt and uncle, my good friend plans on accompanying me to church Sunday, and who knows what else will pop up. Probably a couple visits to Grandma in the hospital, too. And while part of me will be missing my man, I'll also have the contentment of knowing he's having a blast. Literally.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Taxes, Faxes, and Waxes

I got a packet from the IRS in the mail Friday. You know, the standard "Forms and Instructions" crap. I've been eyeballing it off and on all weekend, and although it's just an innocent sheaf of cheaply inked newsprint, it still has an ominous aura to it, in my opinion.
This may be due to the fact that I'll be filing quite differently than ever before. First of all, I now have a dependent! Two, actually, as my husband's daughter from his previous marriage lived with us for most of last year. Second, after lengthy discussion with the hubby, we decided the pro's outweighed the con's and we'd file jointly- also a first for me. And thirdly, but certainly not leastly- actually the most terrifying I think, I've been employed as an independent contractor these last six months since my release, so will be swimming in unfamiliar waters when it comes to filing; listing all those deductions and what-not. I've heard sharks and other dangerous creatures swim in those seas, just waiting to devour the ignorant souls such as I. And who the hell can afford an accountant? Certainly not I. How I long for the days of the good ol' online short form direct deposit, rubbing my hands together gleefully as I waited for my almost guaranteed return. Now, who the heck knows what's gonna happen. Will I owe? Will I do it wrong and get audited? Little old me? My man's the one who makes the big bucks, even after child support, so it just doesn't seem fair that my piddly little income has to be so darn complicated to compute. Yeah, I've tried to save some receipts of stuff I had to buy for work. Yeah, I've done my best to keep track of mileage. But, I just have this nagging voice sneering at me, one of the more unsavory characters from the committee who live in my head:
"You fool, Kendra. You're gonna get screwed, and you know it. Who do you think you're kidding? You don't know how to work a real job- the only thing you were ever good at was selling dope! And Uncle Sam will never forget how bad you took advantage of him when you were "serving your country". He'll get back at you one of these days, and don't be surprised if this is how he gets ya."
I hate that guy! Wish I could get him to shut up, but you know how that goes. They pick the middle of the night to whisper their negative nonsense, when you're at your weakest and all you want to do is sleep but can't 'cause they nag you to death, reminding you of all the embarrassing moments you've had since second grade and all the woulda coulda shoulda's in your life. I wish one of those fluffy sheep I try counting would crush their heads with a feces-encrusted hoof and silence them for good!

Normally I'm blessed with the ability to do my job from my own computer in my own office, in my own home. This is wonderful- if it were any different, my son would either be in some daycare (which I swore to myself I would never do unless absolutely positively necessary), or I would get very little done chasing him around at my boss's place- a non kid-friendly house, unfortunately. Here, though, Jameson's content to play with his myriad toys scattered strategically throughout our home, so no matter where his chubby little arms and legs crawl him to, he's bound to be sidetracked somewhere along the way, preferably before he reaches my keyboard to reach up and bang out things I really didn't want in whatever I'm happening to work on. He also can't seem to resist the cords- the ipod cord, the power strip ("AAHH!" I always shriek when I see him going for that one) or especially, his favorite: the mouse cord, which when he sees it wiggling while I mouse around, he assumes that must mean it's a game where he must tug on it in return, preferably with enough force to rip it out of my hand and onto the floor, where he then must immediately inspect it with his mouth..... Ah, the joys of motherhood.
But I digress. This little section was supposed to be about my ongoing war with FedEx, and their incredible assertion that 48 of the little boxes we mail every week, and which our company has been doing so for years, this time all happened to weigh 24 pounds apiece. Exactly. These packages were in 9x6x6 boxes, which is about shoebox sizes, except a bit shorter in length. Normally, once packed and labeled, they weigh between just under 2 lbs. or just over 5 at the most, depending on what's in them. So this claim of 24 pounds was freaking preposterous! What the hell did they think was in 'em- plutonium? Obviously someone screwed up somewhere, hopefully on accident- I'd hate to think a company as large and well-established as FedEx would stoop to overcharging by putting B.S. weights on mass mailing companies such as ours and just hoping no one would notice. Well, my boss is a stickler for details, and she certainly did notice. Her being the busy lady she is, she assigned moi the job of straightening the whole mess out. So I put together a graph of tracking numbers, dates, their incorrect estimate next to my exact weight (yes, I actually reproduced every single shipment by looking up what was sent in our records, and weighed it to get an exact number, down to the ounces and grams, even), and package dimensions. You shoulda seen me- I despise Excel, so slogging my way through this was quite the process, peppered with obscenities and shouts of frustration. But I got 'er done, and whipped out a subtly nasty cover letter to go with it- the easy part, for me.
After I was done- I had been given a week to do this, because of all the research involved, but my Virgoan tenacity and perfectionism caused me to finish it over the course of the weekend- I submitted it to my boss for approval before faxing it off, and she was absolutely floored. After showering me with compliments (me brushing it off like it was nothing but knowing inside I was nowhere near as skilled as she was thinking), she offered me a promotion on the spot. I'm not sure if any significant raise will be included, but doing the bookkeeping and invoicing will be a damn sight better than all those cursed trips to the post office. And, after the training- which I'll have to do at her house, I'll still be able to work out of my own home office, thank God.
Meanwhile, however, little Jameson is getting chased around my boss's office by me or her while we attempt to train me on the Namaste Food accounts receivable and payable. Don't know which one is more challenging, learning all these new data entry and filing methods, or trying to concentrate while corralling my child, too.

Ever been struck by the urge to purge one's house of all the accumulated crap and detritus of day to day life which does nothing but create clutter? Well, I got bit by the spring-cleaning bug (yeah, I know it's the dead of winter) and have been boxing up stuff for St. Vinnie's, tossing out bags upon bags of garbage, going though the overstuffed closets of my son (how could he possibly have more clothes than Tonydaddy and I put together?!) and recklessly ripping out the stuff he doesn't wear or has outgrown and bagging it up for the exchange store (I love those places- kids outgrow their stuff so quick; might as well just swap 'em out. [the clothes, not the kid] My faves are Kidlets in Post Falls next to the Post Falls Press, and Switcheroo in the Spokane Valley). I've rearranged both bathrooms. The office, too- difficult since I have baking mixes which I mail stacked every-dang-where, floor to ceiling, and I'm trying to organize it to the point where I can fit a futon in here for when Tony's girls stay the night, so they won't have to sleep on the couch. The operative word here, however, is "try"- not sure if I'll be able to downsize that much, no matter how creative I get. I did get rid of Fifi the lime-green IMac, which I was babysitting for a friend as collateral for loaning him some much needed money. Since she was just taking up space, unused and unloved (I'm entirely Mac illiterate), I blew off the loan and just gave her back to him.
I've been washing windows, waxing floors, cleaning the bathrooms almost daily now that Jameson likes to stick his hands in the toilet, or throw whatever's handy in there if so inclined. He also loves bathtime so much he'll crawl into the master bathroom, where the taps are facing up vertically, rather than horizontally in toward the tub; he can reach them, so he'll turn them on, wait and see if someone will come in when we hear the water running, and if we do, he'll break into a toothy grin, banging his pudgy little hands excitedly against the wall of the huge oval tub, like, "C'mon, Mommy, let's take a bath! Can we, can we, huh huh huh?" Now, if we happen to not hear the water running, he'll get impatient and look for things to throw into the tub. Like a spare roll of toilet paper (I no longer keep those behind the toilet, that's for sure) or the toilet brush. Yep, it's fun fun fun.
Anyway. Hope this nesting urge doesn't mean I'm preggers again! Nah, actually not possible. But something weird's definitely happening- I'm usually not THAT much of a Suzie Homemaker...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Fun in the Sun, I Mean, Snow

Okay, here's me trying to figure out how do to this- after all, it's been about twenty years...

Work in progress....

The finished product, hurray!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Just What Exactly Does "Auld Lang Syne" Really Mean, Anyway?

Although I'm still a little shell-shocked, exhausted from making the rounds over the holidays (Grandma's house for gift exchange, Mom's formal Christmas Eve dinner, etc.) I feel pretty good about this new year and all it may bring. And I'm not the only one! After going to my half-sister's house for a little gift exchange and visit, a few days after the actual holiday, she showed me one whopper of a ring- Ron, her man, had finally popped the question, and did so in style. I had to ask: "Angie, did he go to Jared?" Alas, the answer was no, so I didn't get to do the corny commercial cliche I was hoping on. Seriously, though, this was some really good news for them- it was getting to the point where they needed to either commit or split. I for one was very happy that they chose to get married; I like Ron. For that matter, I like Angie; they're both really great Christian people. Amazingly enough, I only just met this sister a little over a year ago, so am still getting to know her, too! She's another one of my father's offspring which keep popping up here and there every couple of years... he was quite the stud in his day, and sowed his wild oats all over town. Angie was introduced to me through my dad, and ironically enough, her and I are closer now than I am to him anymore. And as for her and Dad, forget it. She wasn't too impressed with him and his rather nonchalant attitude in regards to his offspring, and I can't say I blame her. I've had about enough of it myself. He disowned me one too many times, and unfortunately now that I've changed so much for the better, he has no idea what he's missing out on. But like I said, I don't need it; neither does Jameson. We have plenty of worthwhile family members to spend our time and energy on.

So, speaking of time and energy, I don't really have any set-in-stone resolutions, but a few ephemeral plans are wafting around my psyche, and some possibilities which the man of the house and I have discussed may very well solidify too. But I've been finding it hard to live outside of the here and now, something I ascribe to my having to chase a VERY active, adventuresome nine-month-old around the house most of the day. It's pure joy (mostly), but much more demanding than I ever dreamed. Instead of my life revolving around me, with perhaps my man a close second place, with work, home and leisure trailing behind that, my child is the epicenter of our little universe- his needs of course paramount to ours, and he seemingly devotes much of his time to foiling any attempts to impose a schedule where I can get anything done during the day. So I find myself scrubbing toilets at odd hours, juggling the boy while I cook meals, and gravitating towards toys which amuse him while keeping him captive- literally.

Anyway, all this child-rearing stuff by nature trumps my old habits of spending long hours in a bubble bath or on a quiet walk, musing and/or debating different facets of my life, making deeply thought-out decisions in a logical fashion while drifting through a rootless, independent lifestyle. So these days, any decisions are either made by necessity- again, revolving around the youngest member of the family- or simply talked about by Tony and I in a wistful, those-were-the-days tone, knowing full well our lives are too chaotic and full to do anything drastically different just for the hell of it.

Some things that have been batted about, however, are:
*Shopping for a new bed (ours simply is NOT big enough for two adults and a squirming, crying baby when he feels the need to be cuddled back to sleep in the middle of the night)
*My possibly accepting a lateral promotion from my boss, which would change my job from miscellaneous mailings and other shipping and filing duties, to handling the invoices and other sales-related chores. This is something I'm looking forward to, as I will still be able to do most of it from home, but will eliminate most of the trips to the post office. Sweet!
*A mini-vacation, just Tony and I- time and finances willing- that will use up our two free nights accommodations at either Seaside, Las Vegas, Vancouver (nope, that won't work, as Canada doesn't like felons) or lil ol' Coeur d'Alene itself.
*And finally, though certainly not the least in level of importance.... QUITTING SMOKING AGAIN!!! Yes, I'm confessing to the horrible fact that after almost two whole months of beating down that yucky nico-demon, the bastard got ahold of us again. Arggh! It started with just one or two here and there, but I'm ashamed to say that I'm back up to at least six or seven a day, and Tony's puffing away at the rate of almost an entire pack. Sheesh.

So there you have it. My tentative agenda for the next month. Which will be interspersed with, and possibly encompassed by all the musts and have-to's of day to day life with a young child and that ever-present four-letter-word: responsibility. Keep me in your prayers, nameless, faceless online friends, okay? As I will you.