the streak

Mrs. Fish has an epic streak going. She has not thrown up since 1988. That is amazing, isn’t it? 31 years of flu and bad food and car sickness, two pregnancies, and dozens of daycare kids, but she has not puked in that entire time. She said she has been close a few times, but the streak is unbroken. She is the Cal Ripken of vomit.

I’m the opposite. I get queasy if you look at me the wrong way. I throw up a little in my mouth when the cat barfs on the rug. When my child ralphed up their lunch, I was right there, emptying my stomach next to them into the porcelain throne.

I was joking with her that she keeps the streak alive just for me, but she didn’t respond. Then I said she was going to wait until I die, then throw up for the fun of it. She was suddenly dead serious, and said “Don’t say that. Why do you say things like that?”

My sense of humor is much more morbid than hers. I often talk about being hit by a bus, either me or someone else. Once she said “why is it always a bus, and not a taxi?” Good question. I know people are hit by buses and taxis every day, so it really isn’t funny, but that’s how my brain works.

leaving the land of blinking yellow left arrows

Anyone who has visited North Carolina was probably initially surprised by the left turn yield arrow. You are sitting at a red light waiting in the left turn lane, watching the red arrow, then a yellow blinking left arrow appears on the signal. You are wondering what to do when someone behind you beeps their horn, impatiently waiting for you to complete your left turn through a gap in oncoming traffic. I’ve never seen these anywhere but in North Carolina, but apparently their use is growing elsewhere.

All this is relevant because my son Dan spent his last days as a North Carolinian this week. This past week I drove down to Raleigh, rented a trailer, helped him load the stuff from his apartment (third floor walk-up – too many stairs!), and drove the trailer back to Ohio. He is staying at our house until he finds a place with one or two friends of his (hopefully soon), and he starts his new job on Monday.

Dan moved down to Raleigh nearly two years ago with a job but quickly had to find something else. He started working for a fast food chain and quickly became one of their go-to shift leaders; they were talking about training him to be a trainer for other new shift leaders. However he was at the same time becoming disillusioned with the demands of the job – time requirements, low pay, poor scheduling – and decided he didn’t believe in the corporate philosophy anymore. Over the last couple of months he made the decision to leave, but he had reached another decision point if he would stay in NC.

He was working a lot of odd hours on a typical fast-food schedule; despite being a shift leader he wasn’t being paid very much; he was barely meeting his expenses, and sometime not doing so, and therefore was starting to run up a balance on his credit card; he hardly ever got to see his friends in town, and when he did he couldn’t afford to do things with them. He had hopes of saving up enough money to move out of his then-current living situation and find a place of his own, and possibly even afford a small house someday, but he could see that would not be possible in Raleigh, one of the more expensive cities in the South. He doesn’t have a college degree and doesn’t really want to have tens of thousands of dollars of student loans to pay off, and I can’t say I blame him.

In short I believe he was running out of money, he decided to leave his job, and saw no real future for himself if he continued to stay in NC. He just wasn’t happy there anymore, and he decided to make a change. He told us his plan to return to Ohio on a pre-Christmas trip to visit, explaining his decision, and I think it makes sense for him. He still has his friends here, he is starting a good-paying job with benefits, and he will be able to save some money living here. He still plans on visiting his friends in NC at least once a year when the comic convention comes to town, and will still keep in touch with everyone online.

I hope he doesn’t see his time away as a failure or as wasted time; I don’t think it was. He gained independence, he grew as a person, and he figured things out on his own. I’m glad he is back just because I worried that something would go wrong and it would be a whole day’s drive to go help him; now he will be just a short drive across town. He can visit just for dinner if he chooses, or stay home and be independent when he chooses.

family christmas

[Fishrobber Classic – 12/18/2011]

Most people get more sentimental during the holidays. I’ve always thought it is strange to put such an emphasis on family and giving and feasting during this time, when the rest of the year should be equally important. Of course so many people have bad memories, or just sadness; maybe that just proves that most families are more messed up than people want to admit.

When I was little, my Christmases were pretty good compared to many people. I got lots of presents, not knowing or caring at the time how much of a financial strain it was for A-Mom. When I realized how much she sacrificed to save up the money to buy me things, it became a lot less fun. That, and the Old Bitch screaming insults and telling us how everything we did was shit, and dodging the 20-year stacks of newspapers that couldn’t be moved.

The biggest thing missing for me was the fact I had no brothers or sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins, not even a dad to share Christmas with. All we had was our dysfunctional fighting unit: me, A-Mom, and the OB (no one wanted her, especially her family). I wanted to have a house filled with warmth and love and lots of family, not bitterness and hate and anxiety.

Fast forward to age 16, Christmas Eve. My best friend Lisa (not girlfriend, that’s another post) invited me to come over to her house for the evening, and A-Mom let me go (because she liked Lisa too). It was like something out of a dream for me: a warm fire, lots of family in the house, music, games, happiness, love, no anger or yelling or fighting. They made me feel like part of the family for the evening.

I was almost overwhelmed, and a little emotional. Lisa took me to her room to talk about it, and I tried to explain how it was just what I had wanted for so long, and it all seemed so perfect. “Perfect,” she laughed, “you think this is perfect?” She said that both grandparents and her mom were already drunk off their ass as usual, her dad had broken something in anger in the garage, and her brother was pissed off at dad and spending the night at someone else’s house. I didn’t care, I told her, and it was true.

The first girl I ever loved saved Christmas for me.

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.

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.

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.