Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Marathon of a Month, Part I

I've been really busy (just got back from California and got the house ready for showings during that short week before the trip!), so I haven't written about the marathon or any of that weekend yet. In fact, I'm not sure I've processed it all. I hope sitting down to write about it will help me with that.

My recent experiences/challenges began with some family time, most notably an early Thanksgiving dinner gathering. This was about a week and a half ago. I went back to SE Iowa on Friday and went to dinner with my parents, my sister, and her boyfriend.

It's always been a group of five with my family, but I'm just not used to being the single one whose sister has a boyfriend. It was always my parents, Brian & me, and Laura. Now, it is my parents, Laura & Alex, and me. It's an interesting shift. I've never been in that role before. At no point did anyone do or say anything to make me feel like a fifth wheel or left out, and I didn't feel like an odd person out or anything, but it is just another way that life is different for me without Brian.

Everything in my life is different now, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't still cry and pray for a day or two that feels the same, that feels "normal." I miss the hell out of Brian and loved having him there for everything I experienced. I got used to having him as a constant in my life. I don't know how it feels to not have that constant, that partner. Think about how "used to" having him I was (I AM) -- we started hanging out as friends when we were 14 and 16 years old. We started "going out" right after my 15th birthday. I've never not had him fill the role of boyfriend/partner/husband in my adult life. Hell, he was boyfriend when we were really just kids still. Of course EVERYTHING is different without him -- I never actually had my own life without him. The last time I remember family functions without him, my sister (who is now 20 and a sophomore in college) had not even started kindergarten. He has ALWAYS been there, he was ALWAYS in my life.

So I'm still getting used to the change in dynamic, the change in roles, the weirdness of this position and feeling (on top of just plain MISSING him, of course -- I still think about what he would say during a conversation, what he would order at a restaurant, what he'd wear to a family dinner out, etc.). I feel like an alien on another planet, but only I know that -- everyone else sees a human, but I feel like an impostor. Look at me, pretending to be normal and like I know how to function in this world. Inside, I'm mining every encounter, every conversation, every situation -- and even every sitcom -- for clues about how one is supposed to act. I'm suddenly very self-conscious of whether I'm "normal" or how I will be perceived. Before, I knew Brian would call me on it if I was rude or weird. Also, I didn't care -- I had him. Now, I feel like I can't do anything that might drive people away because I don't have that security that comes with a good relationship.

For so many reasons, I miss living out every moment of my life with Brian, and to be having those moments and experiences without him is just plain weird. I'm not saying I can't (or don't) enjoy life without him; that's far from true. But even the best of times have a tinge of discomfort or weirdness for me. It's weird to me to enjoy life on my own, to not have anyone to share it with. I miss having someone to share all this with.

But I digress. Getting back to my busy weekend a couple weeks ago:

I had dinner with my family Friday night. Saturday, I got up for breakfast with Brian's parents and I took a car -- nay, SUV -- full of Brian's clothes to their house for his dad to go through. Then, I went to the cemetery, where I sobbed and hugged his tombstone in front of some people walking past. This was a big step for me; I have a really hard time showing emotion in front of people (part of the reason I have to blog). I was proud that I could let those emotions flow and not feel self-conscious. I also think it's important to show "bad" emotions like crying, or to talk about "bad" feelings like guilt and jealousy. People have to know those feelings are a normal part of life and that you can talk about them and not have to hide them. In a way, I felt that letting my emotions show in front of strangers breaks down that societal wall just a little bit. And, oddly enough, for me, it might be easier to cry in front of strangers than people I know. I'm just not good at opening up -- I try to reserve my emotional breakdowns for when I'm alone.

After I left the cemetery on Saturday, I went to my aunt Trish's house. I was still very emotional from being there, and it's a short drive from Greenwood Cemetery to her house, so I was still pretty teary when she came to the door and as soon as I saw her, I fell into her open arms and cried some more. I think this also will help me with my feelings barrier, and I'm glad I went to Trish's house rather than driving to another relative's house further away and letting those feelings dissipate (or forcing them away) before seeing anyone else. I need to lean on my family and let them comfort me instead of always trying to suppress the emotions to deal with on my own later, as I've been doing.

Trish helped me design my shirt for the Des Moines Half Marathon. It was on Sunday, October 17, the nine month anniversary of Brian's death. The Bears had a home game that day. I wanted Brian to be with me in some way, so I took an old Bears tee of his from the 90s and Trish and I modified it to fit me and girl-ify it a bit for the race. It was his way of being with me and my way to honor him.

After Trish and I got the tee shirt modified, we went to the Thanksgiving dinner. I think having a big emotional weight lifted by crying a lot that morning helped me go in with a sort of clean slate, and it actually went really well. I have a big family, and it was great to be able to catch up with grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends of the family. There were a lot of people and a lot of things going on, which helped. This family function is held at a sort of reception-hall style space (my aunt and uncle run Circle of Pride motorcycle club in SE Iowa and own some great event spaces as a result of operating functions for that club).

The reception/dinner space at the rodeo grounds was set up for a wonderful family dinner. There were beautiful fall decorations, a Thanksgiving tree, a door prize table, a table for displaying giant cupcakes made by my mom and aunts for a cupcake war, and even one of those cut-outs where you can stick your face in for a photo. It was awesome! I will post some pics soon, I promise.

I had a wonderful trip back home. Yes, there were things that were weird, and moments that were sad, and times that I was crabby, but it was still a good time. I was bummed when I had to leave early to head back to Des Moines for the Animal Lifeline fundraiser.

I guess I really DID have a lot to process, looking back at this post...
I will write about the fundraiser and the half marathon in separate posts.

The next one will be less wordy, more photo-y.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Come Walk With Me

This is a poem I found on a grief newsletter mailed to me from the funeral home (there are periodic mailings for a year, I think). Some of this applies more to the immediate time after a death than where I am right now, but I still really like it and I think it perfectly sums up how I felt, and how I think most grieving people feel:

Come walk with me...this journey will be very lonely.
Please don't try to stop my tears! Bottling them up inside hurts too much.
I don't expect answers...just a listening ear as I ask the questions.
My story may get old, but I need to tell it again and again...this is healing.
For a while I may forget to do the simplest thing...gently remind me.
If I get angry, please forgive me. It's not you...just my circumstances.
You can't possibly fill all my alone time...moments will do!
A "thinking of you" phone call will brighten my day!
Don't give up on me! I may seem fine and then unexpectedly appear
To go backward. This is normal I am told.
I need to hear my loved one's name. Don't be afraid!
It hurts me more if I never hear it.
Laughter is soothing to a breaking heart...tell me
The funny joke you just heard!
Please understand if I want to be alone.
Resting and taking time for myself is necessary.
Knowing that you will walk with me, not carry me gives me courage
And strength to face my changed life. I am not alone.
In my heart I have the assurance that God has promised to never leave me.
But He has created me with human needs for...a smile, shared tears, a hug, a listening ear.
Thank you for all of those things and allowing me to walk at my own pace!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another Quickie

I've been super busy lately, and my realtor called yesterday morning wanting to know if a photographer could come take pictures of the inside of the house for the online listing today. So the last two days have been pretty frantic, but the house is listed now, with pics and everything!

Here's the link:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Quickie

I will write more about the weekend, but for now I wanted to do a quick post to let you know the weekend went very well. I had a great time at my family holiday dinner, as well as the Animal Lifeline of Iowa auction. The half marathon went very well. I was happy with my pace, it was a beautiful day, and I had great support from friends and family.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

And So It Begins...

In the next 24 hours, I have:

1) a family holiday dinner
2) Animal Lifeline of Iowa fundraiser (cocktails, appetizers, silent & live auction)
3) Des Moines Half Marathon

This is going to be a weekend full of good things, good people, and good causes. But these are also times that I loved sharing with Brian, and I will feel his absence acutely. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers this weekend. I will need it.

House, Episode Seven

**Apologies for the delay in this broadcast. The broadcast station had internet issues.**

In this week’s episode, we take a look at a week in the life of Wendy, dating from the last episode.

Saturday – Wendy and her mom take an SUV full of stuff to Goodwill. Meanwhile, Wendy’s dad is very busy around the house. He fixes a dragging gate, installs new light fixtures and new house numbers to the exterior of the house, hangs mini blinds in the kitchen, and lays 14 bags of mulch. Wendy also paints over some spackled areas on the bedroom wall (where the old curtain rod was hung) and adds another coat of paint to a bathroom wall. Then, the family loads up another SUV full of things to bring back to Muscatine and heads to enjoy themselves at the World Food Festival, where Wendy is volunteering at an information booth set up by Animal Lifeline of Iowa. That evening, the crew heads for Letts.

Sunday – Wendy takes her SUV, loaded with totes of Brian’s clothes, to her aunt and uncle’s house. He is about Brian’s size, so will be able to use some of Brian’s things. She also goes through the sheet music Brian had kept in his guitar case before taking the guitar to his mom. This, along with seeing and holding the guitar again, makes her cry bittersweet tears. She loved his music, but the song was just too short. That afternoon, she attends her cousin Max’s football game and then heads back to Des Moines, dropping off the Christmas tree and ornaments at Brian‘s brother’s house on the way. Incidentally, he and his friends remove a non-functioning hot tub from Wendy’s house the same day.

Monday – Exhausted from the weekend, Wendy spends part of the morning reading in bed. However, much of the day is spent getting the house ready to show to the realtors she meets with that afternoon. Now that there are two fewer truckloads of stuff in the house, she is able to make every room in the house at least presentable. She meets with the realtors (a husband-wife team), signs a contract, and a “For Sale” sign goes in the yard!!!

Tuesday – Wendy attempts to stain the deck railings. First, she lays plastic down and tapes off the composite plastic floor of the deck (just the floor is plastic; the railings are wood). Then, she gets everything ready – the stain, a paintbrush, a wet rag, and a bottle of water – it is warm! She considers wearing a string bikini, but seeing as how most of her helpers are paid in pizza, which she has been eating right alongside them, she figures the neighbors would not appreciate the view. She stains most of one side, then realizes the stain isn’t really all that dark. She puts on another coat…then realizes that she was supposed to stir the stain before applying it! Honestly, she is clearly terrible at house projects. She thought stain was supposed to be a clear-ish, liquidy glaze. Surprised to find that it should look and go on more like paint, she starts over. There went almost two hours…and she doesn’t get very far before she gets rained out. Then she goes inside to work on the office. There are piles and piles of papers – stuff to sort, file, shred, etc. Amongst the papers, there is a stack of Christmas cards received in 2009, and a few other memory “triggers,” including the program to Sam & Jackie Langstaff’s funeral. This leads to a meltdown of sorts, and that’s about where Wendy calls it a day. That night, Wendy’s day turns from bad to worse when she spots a flea on Mittons.

Wednesday – Wendy takes Picaboo and Ellie to the vet for their annual visit and gets flea medication for all three girls. Ellie (the human friend) and her daughter Riley come over that morning. They vacuum and start washing cat beds and blankets the cats have been on. Wendy and Ellie also paint the ceiling in the garage and get the coat closet cleaned out and show-ready.

Thursday – Wendy, having neglected her running when she has new shoes to break in and a half-marathon around the corner, goes for an eight mile run in the morning and does resistence training in the afternoon. The rest of the day is spent on laundry, vacuuming, and shredding. Wendy attacks one room at a time, moving furniture, vaccumming the floor and all upholstered surfaces. Between each room, she goes to the office to shred more papers, stopping either when the shredder gets full or when it stops working (it is not designed to run for so many minutes straight). The vacuum attachment that she uses to do stairs and upholstery is not designed well, so it stops running several times and must be cleaned out. This sometimes entails a simple removal or untangling of hair or carpet fibers, but on a few occasions, she must bust out the tools and open the attachment head up to pull fuzzies out of many small compartments and between wheels and belts that should not have air flow (and, hence, carpet fuzzies) going there at all. Wendy is starting to wonder if ANYTHING can ever be simple and quick….alas, the entire day is spent vacuuming, doing laundry, and shredding documents.

Friday – Wendy has a doctor’s appointment in the morning, along with various other errands. Really, the only thing that happens around the house is that she buys a new kickplate for the front door (which she will install in next week’s episode). She also loads up a few more things to take “home” to Muscatine, and heads for that part of the state, where her marathon weekend (literally!) will begin.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This Joint is Jumpin'!

So the cats have fleas...which (eventually) made me excited for the future. Yes, there really is a connection between those two things, and it is not that big of a jump (pun fully intended).

Those of you who are paying very close attention and who have a good memory might recall that little Mittons had ear mites (and worms, but those are irrelevant to this story) when she had her first check up. We treated those, and at her second check-up, she was still scratching her ears. They ear mites. I guess they (and I) missed the flea problem. I actually gave her a flea treatment, though, right away, but it apparently didn't take.

Yes, despite that innocent look she sports in the above photo, Mittons has brought a plague upon the house. Monday night, I found a flea on her. The other two had a vet appointment the next day (just a check up), so I had the vet check them...sure enough, evidence of fleas on both of them. Damn it! I got enough medicine to treat three cats for fleas for three months, came home, and started vacuuming everything -- floors, furniture, etc. I took everything they've laid on -- blankets, cat beds, etc. -- and started washing that. Of course, I immediately applied the first monthly dose of meds to the cats too.

Today, I'm doing the same thing again, as I have seen a couple dying fleas come off the mangy little one, and I don't want to take any chances. In doing so, I admit that I got a bit frustrated -- I have so many other things I want and need to be doing, that I sure got a wrench thrown my way by this! Why on earth didn't the first round of flea treatment work on Mittons? Why am I having to spend time vacuuming when I'm paying a professional cleaning team to come in next week?! What a waste of time!

Then I started to think...there must be some reason that I have to be vacuuming today. Maybe if I'd tried to stain the deck (again -- I started once and got rained out already this week!), I would have done something wrong or run into problems and gotten frustrated. Maybe I'm not emotionally ready for another "trigger" as I go through boxes of things. For whatever reason, I realized, I need to be vacuuming today.

I was thinking that as I started to vacuum the dining room. Mind you, we had/I have a beautiful dining room, at least in my opinion. It houses our dining room table -- my favorite piece of furniture due to all the great times we had with family and friends drinking wine, hosting get-togethers with out-of-town family, playing board games, serving holiday dinners, and hosting fantasy football drafts around that table. We also had a beautiful glass table/wine rack (that holds about 30 bottles!) and several wine-themed paintings.

Clearly, wine is something I loved and that Brian and I loved together. It was a big part of our lives, which might sound silly to some, but that's what we liked. We started a (very casual!) wine club a few years ago, that continues to this day. We meet once a month, at my dining room table, and everyone brings a wine to share. There is always a theme for each month -- merlot, South American wines, wines that have dirty-sounding names, etc. Boy, I am going to miss wine club (though I'm starting one in Austin, and already have several people on board!).

I digress...suffice it to say, and I'm going to miss the heck out of having a formal dining room. I love to entertain and spend time with friends and family; as much as I love the food, games, and wine, it was about the friends and family, really. I am sad to think that in my new place in Austin, I probably won't have room for that table. I am going to keep it in storage until I have a house, though, because it holds so many great memories for me.

I was sort of thinking about that as I was moving the dining room table and all 8 chairs out of the way to vacuum the area rug they sit on, but I kept thinking, "There must be some reason I am supposed to be doing this today." The area rug is a short shag that actually takes a few runs with a vacuum to look good, and I was trying to be very thorough on top of it all (on account of those fleas...remember how they tie in!), so I was really taking my time on that rug. In doing so, I sort of stepped back and looked at it from a distance. Then I saw -- or rather, remembered -- just how cool that rug is.

This rug is about 10'x15" and has an oval-sort of pattern, with overlapping shapes, contrasting borders, and several colors (black, maroon, olive green, burnt orange, gray, navy). It's really unusual, and Brian and I both loved it. Then it hit me -- I can use this rug in my new place! I'll probably get an apartment or rent a condo for a year in Austin, until I get more settled, and I'd love a modern, loft-style place, perhaps with concrete floors. In any event, I imagined that rug in the middle of my new living room space in Austin, and I got excited. Excited not just to move and to have a great, modern rug that will look great in my new place, but also excited that I will have a piece of the dining room with me. It will be a daily reminder of the good times we had and how blessed we were to share that with each other and to be able to call those good times our "lives." I'm just remembering again, how great our life was together, and it's bittersweet, but getting more sweet than bitter.

Today, I can say it made me so happy to think I'll have this reminder with me in Texas, day in and day out, of the happy and wonderful life Brian and I created. Apparently that "a-ha!" moment, that encouragement, is why I needed to vacuum today.
And that's how the fleas made me excited for the future.

But, right now, the present requires more vacuuming...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Living in a Fantasy World

Those who know me know I love NFL football and I'm a huge Chicago Bears fan. Of course, my interest initially came about because Brian was a huge Bears fan, but I became a fan in my own right many years ago -- there were times I would tell Brian about the latest Bears news or would have the answer to some wondered-aloud random question of his, like which player would be the long snapper if Patrick Mannelly got injured. I'd routinely check the official Bears website, as well as those of the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times for Bears news, analysis, and opinion pieces. I still do, though not quite as often this year.

As a football fan, I'd even been in a fantasy football league at one point, though it was just for a year and it was early on in the fantasy heyday, so this league wasn't even online. It was too much effort to do trades and set rosters without real-time internet control, so I only stayed in that league for one season. And I could never get into Brian's league -- it's a little bit like the FX show The League in that the guys take it very seriously -- there is a waiting list to get in, and there has been for years, so I never even attempted. I was perfectly content, though, to be the First Lady of the League. Brian was the commissioner ("The Commish") and I had an important role as his wife. Once we got a house, the draft was always in our dining room and I'd plan the menu, drinks, and setup. I would typically also play the role of the Vanna-White like "sticker girl" during the live draft, posting the picks as they were made on the 3' x 4' draft board. All the stickers are color-coded by position, and most of the other wives and girlfriends wouldn't know what color to look for when a player's name was called. I actually knew enough to do a little trash-talking to the guys as they made their picks. One year, I was running the sticker board, keeping our two out-of-state fantasy guys up to date with live chat by typing the picks in as they were made, and managing to do the occasional drink run all at once (hey, it helps that a couple of the guys are notorious for taking a looong time to make each pick!).

After Brian died, one of the first things I thought of was the Boka & Friends Smashmouth Fantasy Football League. I posted a message on the league message board telling the guys I hoped they'd continue, and that I wanted to play a role in whatever capacity they would desire. I was honored when they voted to not only make me commissioner, but also chose me to fill the spot vacated by Brian, and to have my own team. I don't know what Brian would have thought about having a "girl" in the league, but I'm not your typical girl when it comes to football, and besides -- I wanted to be in the league!

I am really enjoying having a fantasy team of my own this year. Previously, I always sort of teased Brian about having his laptop up on game day, checking his live-update fantasy score while watching the Bears, and also sometimes rooting for Bears opponents to do well (to help his fantasy game), but not so well the Bears didn't still win their game. I teased, but I was never one of those wives who got mad or didn't get it. Still, it's a whole new level of "getting it" now that I'm the one doing those things! It's amazing how much more I love football; every game is more interesting because I'm pulling for (or against) certain players in each game.

Last night, I was at some friends' house for dinner, and I was talking fantasy football with the guys; we all agreed it makes Sundays so much more fun. Then I realized -- I thought Sundays would be awfully lonely and hard this year, watching the Bears alone every week, not having Brian there to appreciate every solid block, amazing deflection & pick plays (did anyone else SEE what Julius Peppers did yesterday, by the way?!), etc. But they're not -- I actually look forward to Sunday each week. I LOVE Sundays.

In short, fantasy football has made what could have been a season full of crummy Sundays into a great time of year for me.

Thank you, fantasy football.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

House, Episode Seven

This week's episode begins a little slowly, but picks up a lot at the end!

This week, Wendy does some more sorting, selling, and cleaning. In between, however, she also does some reading, some writing, some crying, some running, and some socializing. These take away from the "House" part, which is clearly the most important part of the show...

Then, Wendy's parents come to the rescue! With their help (or, with them doing most of the work while Wendy does dishes and laundry and loads up the truck with thrift store donations), the following gets done: 1) Wendy's dad power washes the deck and concrete slab outside, which makes a WORLD of difference; 2) Wendy's mom paints the ceiling in the living room; 3) Wendy's dad preps the garage ceiling for a fresh coat of paint (some was chipping and falling off); and 4) Wendy's mom removes some wallpaper from her bathroom (formerly Brian's bathroom -- the one off the master bedroom) and paints a wall in that room.

The best part is that this episode is "To be continued..."

Expect more big progress next week!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Those Darn Telemarketers!

I just received a call from a telemarketer working for Bank of America, the company that issues my Visa card (by the way, thanks for all those calls you make to your best customers to offer them various services, Bank of America! REALLY appreciated.). I always let them through one sentence before I interject and say, "I'm not interested; thank you." Then I hang up. Here's what I was told, in one sentence:

They were calling to offer me a service -- free for the first month or two, of course -- that would pay off my credit card balance in the event of any "life event" such as loss of job or death; and the ability to postpone payments if you move, your spouse dies, etc. I said, "I'm not interested; thank you." Then I hung up, and said aloud, "I'm not interested because all of those things have already happened to me this year. There's nothing left to protect against now."

I think it sort of hit me how much has and is happening to me this year, at this point in my life. All at the same time. It's overwhelming to think about -- in the last 9 months: Brian being taken so suddenly and so early in our life together, I'm no longer married, I'm looking to venture out of the legal profession, I'll be moving to a new place, getting a new job in a new industry (essentially starting from scratch professionally), and even caring for a new kitten (this is a big deal in one's life; it's probably a 15 year commitment)! That's a lot of change all at once.

It was overwhelming to think of it that way -- as cumulative, rather than one thing at a time and separately. Luckily, I've been pretty good at doing the latter, and then it's all a bit more manageable.

Today, after I hung up with the telemarketer, I had a little meltdown. My knees got weak and I slumped over and started to cry. I was just struck by how much I've gone through...and then I realized, I have made it through a lot. And the most important part is that I made it through. I'm still here! I will get through this; I'm still standing now. And, even better, I like the direction I'm facing.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I've Got a Mountain to Climb Before I Get Over This Hill

It's just the first part of October, and I'm already dreading the months ahead. I keep going back and forth between two pieces of advice that have popped up over and over in my grief books -- 1) Take one day at a time; 2) Plan ahead for difficult occasions. How do I plan ahead without getting overwhelmed at what lies ahead? Isn't planning ahead contrary to the very concept of living one day at a time?

Regardless of how I approach things, I've got the following dates/occasions/milestones that I think will be tough:

1) October 16 -- first family Thanksgiving/Christmas (my grandparents are snowbirds, so we celebrate before they head to Texas for the winter)
2) October 16 -- Animal Lifeline of Iowa annual fundraising auction (Brian was on the Board of Directors; we went to the auction every year)
3) October 17 -- Des Moines 1/2 Marathon
4) October 23 -- wedding in California (Brian and I looked forward to the trip together, as well as celebrating the love and happiness of our good friends who are getting married)
5) October 29-31 -- Freeze Out (an annual event my dad's side of the family organizes; we all camp out -- in campers and cabins! -- and have fires, etc.)
6) Thanksgiving -- times at least two (Coopers & Bokas)
7) December 16 -- Brian's birthday (he would have been 32)
8) Christmas -- I'll probably have 5 Christmas celebrations to attend, in addition to the one in October (we were blessed with large, young, healthy families that still celebrate together every year)
9) December 28 -- my birthday (which I may or may not celebrate this year)
10) New Year's Eve -- in addition to being a holiday where you kiss your partner at midnight, I'll be at a wedding reception
11) January 17 -- the one year anniversary of Brian's death

All in all, I'll have more than a dozen tough occasions (remember, FIVE Christmases!) in the next 3 1/2 months. I literally don't know how I'll make it through them all. I suppose one day -- or one hour, or maybe one MINUTE -- at a time.

I keep going back and forth between thinking I should make plans in advance so I know I won't wind up with nothing to do and nowhere to go, and thinking I should play it by ear to just see what I'm feeling up to at the time. Of course, there is also the fact that I don't want to let anybody down by missing their Christmas dinner, their gift exchange, etc. These aren't office holiday parties I'm talking about -- how do I not attend Christmas with grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc.? If I do limit myself -- say, to three celebrations -- how do I choose which?

I am absolutely paralyzed by fear of the coming months. I panic right now to look at the date on the calendar...October 4. How did that come so quickly? If the days keep going that quickly, I won't be emotionally prepared for the things to come! On the other hand, would it really help if I had more time to prepare? Probably not.

I guess I'll just focus on one OCCASION at a time. In two weeks, I've got a doozie of a weekend -- family holiday, Animal Lifeline fundraiser, and the Des Moines Half Marathon...all within the same 24 hour time span. I don't know if "one day at a time" will quite cut it. I just hope "one hour at a time" or "one minute at a time" will.

Friday, October 1, 2010

House, Episode Six

In this week's episode...

A two-man crew spends the better part of the week at Wendy's house installing windows. They look beautiful! Once the crew leaves, Wendy attempts to re-hang window treatments. This proves to be difficult.

For starters, the window treatments were all previously attached to the window sills; now that there are brand new windows (which are vinyl, not wood), this is not a possibility. Thus, Wendy must measure the windows and treatments, then first mark where to install the brackets. Imagine one person -- just two hands -- holding up a tape measure and trying to mark various distances out with a pencil.

Once the markings are made, she must drill into the solid oak window frames to re-hang blinds and curtains. This is also much harder than it would seem, at least to Wendy. First, she struggles trying to get the screw to even penetrate the wood -- they keep flying off at weird angles, sometimes into the heating ducts! She learns that it helps to first use a skinny drill bit to make a hole where the screws will go. This helps...somewhat. She still struggles excessively with using the cordless drill. She is only able to use the drill to get each screw about halfway into the oak before the screw starts to strip. This is, apparently, because of a combination of factors: 1) the skinny drill bit she first selected should be bigger; 2) the drill bit that attaches to the screw should have probably been bigger (even though they all seem the freaking same to her!); 3) she should have gotten out a bigger ladder so she would not be using the drill overhead; 4) sometimes the She brackets were shaped such that the drill could only be used to get the screws halfway in. Yes, it takes Wendy four hours to properly hang six brackets....and she can't even figure out how the window treatment in the kitchen is supposed to work! She has more than one crying spell from the sheer frustration, wondering: "Why is this so hard? What am I doing that is so wrong here? How am I ever going to get by on my own?" She gets angry, a neighbor checking the mail hears her screaming obscenities through the open window. The cordless drill gets slammed down and cracks.

After a period of about four hours passes, Wendy has installed four brackets in the dining room and three in the living room, though one is hung upside down (all three were at some point, but two got corrected). Wendy's hands are sore from hand screwing semi-stripped screws into solid oak, all while working overhead (don't forget how much labor was required to remove those two incorrectly hung brackets in the living room!). She can't even hang the living room window treatments alone, though the brackets are hung properly, because the window treatments are too large for one person to manipulate.

Tired, angry, sore, frustrated, and defeated, Wendy finally admits that this is something she needs help with. She calls a few guys who live in the Des Moines area and who might be able to help her out. Luckily, a friend who lives nearby comes over and knocks out all the needed work in about an hour, maybe less. This is the point where Wendy learns about the importance of angle and leverage, so at least a lesson is learned.

On the positive side, Wendy enjoys using her home to entertain a couple times this week, first clearing out the Bear Den (the Chicago Bears basement bar) for the Bears v. Packers Monday Night Football matchup and then hosting Wine Club one evening in the dining room. This encourages Wendy greatly, to enjoy use of her home again.

In another bright spot this week, Ellie and Riley come over to help Wendy clean and to do a fun little afternoon excursion to pick out new curtains for the bedroom. They zip around in Ellie's VW convertible, making Wendy's Friday afternoon one of the best she's had in a while.