beast of burden

I’ll never be your beast of burden
My back is broad but it’s a hurting

I’ve walked for miles my feet are hurting
— Rolling Stones

Our house, in the middle of our street

Our house it has a crowd
There’s always something happening
And it’s usually quite loud
— Madness


We moved on to the next chapter in life. Our house is sold; we left it with little sentimentality (except for Nicole, who cried a couple of times). I don’t really worry about stuff like houses and cars and household junk, although photos and music are important to me. Besides, home is where the cats are, and they adjusted very quickly, even the blind cat.

The move went fine, even though it was tiring and painful. We schlepped everything into the moving van, then schlepped everything upstairs at the rental house. The goat family helped us for most of the day. Anne’s dad helped us also; at 74 he is strongest of all of us. Among the crew we had bad knees, bad backs, gall stones, ADHD, and bipolar. Maybe that should be the tagline for a moving company: Two Bipolar Men And A Truck, We move your emotional baggage.

The process of selling was very stressful for me, and I expected an emotional letdown afterward. That doesn’t seem to have happened, just a big sigh and a feeling of relief that it is all over and the money is in the bank account. Life has pretty much become a new normal, with new scenery. I still have my problems with anxiety and bipolar depression, but otherwise things are okay.

Now I need a car upgrade.

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the mother of all visits

The mother of all visits went pretty much as I expected. The first couple of days were fine, the next 2 days she got on my nerves, and on the last day I think we were both glad she got on the plane.

The simple truth is that I just don’t like her. She is a little too pushy, too loud, too racist, too whatever, and it just rubs me the wrong way. She thinks she knows everything and is an expert on everything, and isn’t afraid to let you know. She thinks she has my problems figured out, and she thinks she can figure out Nicole’s problems. Just like 10 years ago, I don’t really know how to tell her that she has no right to do that.

We are such vastly different people. She hides her vulnerabilities behind brash outspokenness, while I try to disappear into the wallpaper. She loves to speak her mind constantly – so many words – where I am more parsimonious with my thoughts. She is very emotional, while I am dead inside. She has no respect for my personal space, while my space bubble is the limit of my vision.

She pushes too much sometimes. She touches me when I don’t want her to. I guess it is a combination of her personality and her desire to be parental. She is constantly finding new and horrifying ways to express her love, which I have not returned. She is trying too hard to be “Mom”, and I don’t really want that. I don’t know how to express that without upsetting her deeply. Like I wrote in the old blog many years ago, I don’t want or need another Mom; I had one, and the experience wasn’t the best, and I don’t need B-mom thinking she is finally ready to assume that role.

This is no way to build a relationship, yet that is exactly what she has wanted for the past 10 years. I don’t know how to like someone when I don’t, so I guess I fake it, just like I fake everything else.

It has been almost two weeks since she left, and we haven’t talked. If I could get a word in, I might tell her how much her meddling irritates me. I could tell her I don’t have room to “love” any more people. I could tell her I don’t really want her to visit again, and definitely not longer next time. Then again, I won’t get a chance to say any of those things because she will be talking the entire time.

hectic

There has been a lot going on at the homestead recently. We talked to a realtor to prepare for listing our house for sale; we started a massive clean-up program in preparation for showing the house; I had a psychiatrist appointment; we had a yard sale that failed miserably; and my mother is coming to visit this weekend.

Short recap for those who don’t know: I was given for adoption at birth and raised by a single woman, a part-time-functional alcoholic with mental health problems; she died when I was 21, leaving me without a family; after searching off and on for several years I made contact with my birth-mom in 2007; due to my issues our relationship did not start well; and in recent years we have become closer to what an adult mother-son relationship might look like, if I knew how to do that. She wants to be “Mom”, and I’m a little distant, even 10 years later. I don’t feel good about that, I’m just wired that way.

Anyway, b-mom is coming to visit us in Ohio for the first time since the 2007 visit. I have been to Georgia twice, and she stayed with us last year in NC for a few days. I have stuff planned to do together, and we going to the farm to visit the goat family in-laws (who are working hard at their farming). B-mom was/is an alcoholic (maybe 27 years sober?), so I will take her to visit the locations where AA got started. We might visit Amish country, we might do a ball game, we might do other stuff, but hopefully she has a good time. I’m good at being a travel agent, even if I’m not that good at relationships. Let’s fill the time with activity to avoid relating on a personal level.

ultraviolet

The vacation was overall pretty good. Nicole started to freak out a little by the 2nd night, as I thought she would. She was getting anxious sharing a small space with us, and she wanted a hotel room of her own (which of course could not happen financially). We solved the problem by changing hotels and finding a two-room suite for slightly higher price than what we had reserved. She was able to have her own space, and her anxiety calmed down a lot. We went to the beach, we saw museums and the aquarium, we visited with Dan a few times, and Nicole got to go to the anime convention. I wrote “PLEH” on the sand in honor of Joey.

20170522_142036[1]

The ugly part of the trip started on the beach. I slathered up with sunscreen on the exposed parts of my upper half, then changed from pants to shorts, and forgot to put sunscreen on my legs. I got a severe sunburn in about 2 hours due to simple stupidity on my part. Being so fair skinned you would think I could remember, but it just slipped my mind. The pain really kicked in on the 2nd day, the liquid-filled oozing blisters appeared on the 3rd day, and the remainder of the trip was spent doing first aid on myself. I still have sore spots that have not healed, but now mostly just dry, damaged skin. I don’t know how long it will take to heal, and I may have increased my chances for cancer. I would post pictures, but I don’t think you want to see that.

Next time we visit, whenever that may be, we will rent a house on the beach or stay in a beachfront hotel. It wasn’t as much fun driving back and forth from the city as it would be if we were right there, having the freedom to go outside whenever you want.

freedom ’17

After 76 trying days, the goat family has moved out. I was getting very depressed toward the end of the co-habitation, my wife’s anxiety was building, and something had to change soon. Fortunately we made it through without harsh words or hurt feelings, but it was close.

They bought a farm an hour away, so they may visit from time to time, but they won’t be here too much. They will also be too busy to be causing havoc everywhere they go. They farm includes a horse boarding business, with a built-in group of customers whose horses keep eating and pooping every day, so they will jump into the farm life with both feet.

In the meantime, Annie and I are slowly decompressing and enjoying our regained freedom. We can talk about things without being interrogated. I don’t have to find excuses to be away from the house. We can choose not to cook dinner if we want to scrounge in the pantry. I can sit in my spot on the couch. The cats are happy to not have dogs in the house. The refrigerator handle will not be sticky all the time.

day 75

The house papers have not yet been signed. I’m getting nervous. However they have the kids enrolled in school starting Monday, and they plan on moving stuff this weekend. We shall see.

When they are gone, I will celebrate by eating Chinese take-out, then rolling on the floor. I’m not joking, it’s a family tradition when we move in a new house. This will be like getting our house back, so I think it’s still appropriate.

fly, fly away

In the meantime, the former man-child-turned-adult has moved out on his own. Rather than moving to a new place nearby, he chose to move to North Carolina. I helped him move his stuff into a storage locker this past weekend. He has a job but no apartment yet, but he is working on that while staying with a friend.

I worry of course, what if things go wrong, what if he loses his job or his car breaks down, we’re too far away to help, etc. I am very good at worrying, and not very good at letting him fly on his own. There is so much I wish I could tell him, but he prefers to figure things out on his own. He needs better social skills, and I’m afraid he will be sheltered and without love.

I really hope this works well for him, but I hope this is not a bad omen. His first act as a North Carolinian was to lock his keys in the car.

day 59

Hover-in-law said to the dogs: “Kitty needs her space, but you doggies keep invading it.” He did not see the irony in this statement.

The end is near. The sale will close on or about March 1st, and they will get to move in about a week afterward. I will gladly help them move their stuff into the new house.

In return for the favor of staying here nearly 3 months, they will help us fix up the bathroom so we can show our house this summer. I suppose that is a fair trade, despite the trouble this experience has been for me.

I am positive that I am the one who’s being unreasonable. I have an unrealistic space bubble which is the size of a football field. I sometimes choose to not be good at socializing. I need lots of down time, more than most people. But when necessary, you suck it up for family, because they would do the same for me.

Except I would never ask unless the zombie apocalypse occurred.

day 32

Nothing good comes from discussing politics with family. The same is true with religion. Just avoid the conversation for another 6 weeks.

The in-laws talked to Mrs. Fish about if we were okay with staying here until March. This conversation happens weeks too late, but whatever. My wife told them as nicely as she could that we are both introverts who need quiet time to recharge and relax. He tries to accept that, but after a couple of days he goes back to being the helicopter brother-in-law. He hovers and tries too hard to make things okay in return for occupying my spot on the couch for 9 weeks.

Then there is the whole third-rail conversation we can’t have. I am so fucking pissed off at America right now, and the in-laws are part of the problem. They use social services, but they vote for people who will restrict or take those services away. They don’t have much money, but they vote for people who plan to redistribute wealth from the middle class to the wealthy. They have been on and off health insurance, and their kids have mental health issues, but they vote for people who will allow the insurance companies to take coverage away.

Then they ask me if everything is okay when I get home, and can’t understand why I hide in the bedroom for hours at a time.