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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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.

southbound

We will be headed down to North Carolina again tomorrow. The plan is to spend a few days at the beach, a few days visiting with our son Dan, and drive home next Sunday.

I don’t know if everything will go according to plan.

Nicole has been a little unstable the past week, not dangerously so, but just enough that all of us have noticed it. My prediction is that the first few days at the beach will go fine, but when we get to Raleigh she will start being first agitated, then depressed, then in tears. She will be out of her comfort zone, she will miss her cats, and not even the anime convention will make her want to stay. She will be further upset because (I also predict) that Dan will not have much time to hang out with her because he will prefer to hang out with his friends at the anime convention. I bet that we end up going home one or two days early, and everyone will be stressed out.

It is tough to plan anything due to Nicole’s illness. She sleeps at random times, she changes her mind about going places, and she resists keeping appointments with doctors. She won’t wake up when she needs to, but she gets mildly angry when she misses out on something. She chooses to not go out for dinner, but she insists we bring home food for her. It gets frustrating and stressful for Mrs. Fish and I to arrange our lives around her mental state.

Unfortunately, we are staying in a hotel near the beach instead of like last year when we rented a house on the beach. I don’t think it will be quite as enjoyable or relaxing this time, but a little beach time is better than no beach time at all.

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.

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 18

The relatives are still in our house. They are not working with the landlord to make the rental house livable, so they remain here. They have put an offer on a house, and I can only hope for a short escrow period. Even so, they may be here until March. FML.

I miss my quiet time. I am staying up way past my normal bedtime because I enjoy time to think without the barrage of words. So. Many. Words. I have seen my wife’s eyes glaze over, and I’m sure I do the same thing, because I simply can’t listen for long, uninterrupted stretches of time. I thought Sunday’s football game would be a good distraction to fill the space, but he talked throughout the entire game, sometimes about the game but often not.

The goats, in the meantime, have found a nice cozy home to share with a few horses in a nearby barn. I don’t know how the horses feel about this; maybe they can relate to my situation.

it’s all relative

We have had relatives and their goats staying with us since Christmas Day, as they have moved to Ohio from our old town in California. Yes, I said goats. They were supposed to move into a rental house that I had found them, but the house was unlivable. [Why would the owner offer the house for rent with problems that preclude a renter from turning on the water and living there? But that’s another story.] The result is that they will be staying with us for much longer than I anticipated, or until they can find a place to buy I guess.

The problem is that Mrs. Fish and I are very much introverted people, and we need quiet, alone time to recharge and face the next day. The relatives are not that way, and in particular they like to talk constantly. He loves to talk about people I don’t know and don’t care about, and issues I don’t care about discussing (because I disagree on most everything he believes in). This morning he was READING FACEBOOK MEMES TO ME!! Fucking hell, please just shut the trap for a few minutes and let me relax in my own house! It has been very stressful for me, and probably so for my wife as well.

It is nearly impossible to get a break from them to just be alone. I am using some of this precious time right now to shop for food (for them) and relax. At least my wife got to go to work today, although she is having a tough time because her back is injured. She is too stubborn to stop working for a while, and she is obsessed with making money we don’t need (until my daughter decides she needs to visit the hospital again, but that’s another story).

I had planned on taking a vacation day tomorrow, but I’m not going to. I would rather be at work and be around people who don’t talk to me as much.