Fire. By myself.
I am no longer alone, sharing the fire, a 1-hour phone conversation with – he called me – one of my ok.cupid guys. Surfer dude, California, I’m there. At least in my head.
Fire. By myself.
I am no longer alone, sharing the fire, a 1-hour phone conversation with – he called me – one of my ok.cupid guys. Surfer dude, California, I’m there. At least in my head.
Plan #1: Get my errands done by noon so I can meet with Handyman #113 (or is it #1113?).
Result: No call, no show. He probably wrote down my phone number incorrectly, but I will not call him, in order to protect him from (undeservedly) receiving the wrath of a woman previously scorned how many times? He has one grace period: to call me at work on Tuesday. He has that phone number, I did his business cards. Besides, I’m not in the mood for a man today anyway, ya’ know?
Plan #2: Start on The 3-Day To-Do List.
· Pot-up starter houseplant rootings. Done.
· Prune the re-sprouting I-refuse-to-die-maple tree by the pool. Done.
· Clean and refill hummingbird feeder. Done.
· Water garden, pray for rain. Done.
· Pray for rain. I will dance in the rain if it rains. It teases and teases, all day, yet still...
· Work in the barn. That’s the big one. Done, with amazing results. Treasures discovered, including:
o Gem stones, jewelry, and jewelry-making materials;
o Brand-spanking-new painting materials;
o Brand-spanking-new, un-opened, still-in-box craft projects waiting to be completed, including a birdhouse and a bookbinding kit, ordered years ago from a probably-now-defunct club of some sort;
o Dozens of picture and art frames, destined for glory: re-habbing, re-finishing, and made ready to frame some of the yet-to-be-discovered art of my own making, buried somewhere else, yet to be discovered;
o (2) huge (like 4-ft. x 5-ft.) wall-sized posters of Jim Morrison; I have no idea where these came from, and I was very tempted to salvage them, frame them, hang them, but I said no, put them in the burn pile. I still have time to change my mind. What do you think? (I just changed my mind and moved them out of the burn pile.);
o Several old-technology devices, including a manual typewriter and (2) battery-operated TVs, all new-in-box, and which probably need to be donated to a museum;
o 125 ceramic molds, purchased on a dime when I first moved here, a gift for Damien, never used, going on Craigslist ASAP.
o Several bags of concrete mix, the old-fashioned kind, but possibly usable for the new footings for my sinking dining room floor, if I can ever find a freakin’ handyman who actually wants to work;
o Wood, wood, and more wood. Of the home-improvement variety. And the crafting variety. And the burning variety;
o Windows, doors, electrical supplies, tools, tool boxes…I swear I could open a home-improvement store. Or a mini Wal-Mart!;
o Window screen material, to be used on the next project:
· Sew patches on my window screens, holes made by cats in need of scratching posts. (I stopped buying/building scratching posts because Jack-the-Dog keeps mistaking them for fire hydrants.) Materials needed: Screen material, check (I have an abundance of “scrap” screen material, I don’t know why); upholstery needle, check (it curves into a half-circle, turning a 2-person job into a 1-person job, right up my alley); nylon fishing line, check; scissors, check. Pool ladder to reach the window, check (pool ladder discovered in garden shed; my folding aluminum ladder went missing about the same time as did my air conditioner). And project done, not without a few challenges, I might add, like dropping the needle (more than once) into the overgrown grass and subsequently needing to – literally – look for a needle in a haystack. Challenge met and accomplished and I didn’t even cuss. Not once.
· Publisher’s Clearing House Visit: scheduled for and expected on Thursday 8.28.14 , $5,000-a-week-for-life, and then some. They too were a no-show, but they probably did a recon and determined that they shouldn’t show up unannounced (because of the dogs, right?). I’m sure the check is in the mail. You better be nice to me now!
· Oh, yeah, and I found a $10 bill today in the barn. Free, just because I decided to dig through – rather than dump out – a swept-up pile of dirt and dust. OCD at its best! So who cares if I win Publisher’s Clearing House? How rich am I?
Every once and again, I like to look back and see how very far (insert sarcastic smiley face here) I've come in my life since I took a leap of faith toward my dream...in Missouri...
Ozarks Update: September, 2007 (via old-fashioned method of communication known as e-mail) some of you may find the story familiar...)
Here is a 36-hour capsule of my life. Much more typical of my life in general these days…
It's my first day back to work after my "weekend." After our shift meeting, my boss (one of several), calls me back to the office to deliver the ridiculous news that, for the third time, my Wal-Mart has decided to pass me over for a promotion back to my old job of Customer Service Manager (CSM), which they pulled out from under my feet over two years ago. I could go on for hours, as I did with my boss that night, arguing against the reasons they gave for awarding the position to someone who has worked for Wal-Mart for less than a year, but I won't. I don't have the time or the energy to get myself all worked up about it again. But my career at Wal-Mart will be coming to an end as soon as I can figure out a way to extricate myself.
That very day, there is an ad in the paper for a local factory hiring line operators at a starting wage that is $1.00 an hour more than I'm making now (which is a dime more than what I would have gained from the CSM position). After 90 days, I would be making $2.00 an hour more, with full benefits kicking in on the first of the month after the date of hire. So tomorrow I will go and put in my application. There is also a dairy plant in Cabool, 10 miles away, which offers really good pay with a lot of overtime. In the meantime, I will spend every spare minute (of which I have about six per day) trying to put together a nutrition workshop and client handout materials.
Thursday, 7:00 a.m. Amanda asks me for a ride home. I have a computer tutoring session at 8:00 a.m., so Amanda does her grocery shopping while I purchase my new printer (via credit card, a necessary business expense), a 20 pound bag of cat food and a few other items. We're out of milk at home, but I won't buy any groceries because I will be going directly to my tutoring session. I'll have to buy my milk at the grocery store on the square, and will have to pay $.30 more for a gallon, which will be a budget buster (!), but oh, well.
Thursday, 7:45 a.m. My car won't start. I had planned to buy gas, but decided to wait. Well, it looks like I'm out of gas. (I can't read the gas gauge at night on my way to work, because there's a short in the electrical system that causes all of the gauges to go crazy as soon as I turn on my headlights. Yeah, I guess me and electricity don't get along.) It’s pouring rain, but Amanda and I manage to push the car most of the way to the Murphy’s gas station at the front of the parking lot. A nice man helps us with the little uphill slope leading to the pumps. I have $4.00 which I was going to use to buy milk; I pump the gas, and Amanda, feeling sorry for me, has already paid for it by the time I’ve finished. But the car still won’t start. I have never had this problem before. Considering how little $4.00 actually gets me, I assume the car just needs more gas, so out comes the credit card. I put in another $5.00, and it still won’t start. So, we push the car into a parking spot out of the way, and hoof it across the quarter mile deep parking lot, back to the store, in the pouring rain.
Thursday, 8:15 a.m. I use one of the store’s phones located on a pole at the front end of the store. The line sounds a little crackly, but I don’t think much about it. I call Damien, even though he can do nothing to help me except maybe call a friend to come and pick us up. Amanda has no one to call. Her husband is at work, and she doesn’t know anyone else’s phone number. I don’t even expect to get a hold of Damien; at this time of morning he will be out in the barn working on a painting, or organizing, or practicing his guitar. And he’s not even expecting me home before 9:30 a.m. So, I’m not surprised when I get the answering machine. I am surprised, however, when the machine cuts me off before I get eleven words out of my mouth. So, I call again and manage to say twelve words and am cut off again.
My feet are soaking wet and I look like a drowned rat. I go to the service desk and ask for a phone book. I’ll call Rob and Angela. They live nearby and have given me rides before. Rob answers the phone. "Hello? Rob? It’s Dawn. Hello? Rob? It’s Dawn." Click. I dial again. "Hello?" "Rob? It’s Dawn." "Hello? Hello?" I can hear Rob’s wife, Angela laughing in the background, and Rob is a bit of a practical joker, but I’m in no mood. "Click." Or maybe the phone really is messed up. So I traipse my wet self to another phone and try again. This time I get through and Rob says they’ll be there in ten minutes. I never did quite determine if he had been hanging up on me for fun but I suspect so. If I were to confront him on it now, though I would kill him and claim insanity. Or PMS. Or duress.
Thursday, 8:45 a.m. Rob finally shows up. He drives me and Amanda back to my car at the gas station to retrieve our packages, and then drives us each home, me hauling my printer, 20 pound bag of cat food and other stuff into the house, in two trips, in the driving rain. Rob doesn't even get out to help. Once inside, I tell Damien what has happened and immediately call my computer client to apologize for missing our appointment. Then I call the gas station to tell them I will move the car as soon as possible.
Thursday, 9:30 a.m. We have been driving the car with expired plates since the end of June. Back then the windshield needed to be replaced in order to pass inspection. $200.00 for the window, plus $15.00 for the inspection, plus $30.00 for the tags. Needless to say, I didn’t have the money. We finally did get the windshield replaced, but (I) still have not been able to come up with the money for the other stuff, which now includes a muffler repair, and windshield wipers, plus the newly discovered mystery ailment. Damien’s chief concern at this point is the fact that the car is parked in a public place (with expired plates) and the city might decide to ticket or tow it. I doubt this will happen, but the car does need to be moved. He calls a friend who owns a tire shop just up the road from Wal-Mart, and said friend agrees to tow the car to his shop as soon as we can get him the keys, which of course are here at the house.
Thursday, 11:30 a.m. The rain has finally let up, so Damien sets out on the 2.5 mile hike to the tire shop. I have had two glasses of wine (I NEVER drink during the week, but today has been more than I can handle, and I’m too stressed out to eat or sleep.) It really is time I went to bed, but I’m too wound up.
Thursday, 1:30 p.m. Is that the car I hear? Wow, that would just be too cool. Here’s Damien. He says, "So, have we reached the practical-joke-stage in our relationship?" Apparently, the car just started right up for him. We call Damien’s friend, Lee, with the details, and his guess is that there is a problem with the fuel pump, or the fuel pump relay. He can take a look at it once the rain has let up and things can dry up a bit. It might run $60.00. (Plus the inspection, and the tags (for which I now owe an additional $5.00 late fee), and the wiper blades, and the muffler. Oh, and the broken driver-side window, and the oil leak, and the radiator leak and/or the thermostat. The car likes to overheat, at random, most often after idling for anything more than four minutes, or just as I’m pulling into the parking lot for work, which is awful darned convenient. At least I have nine hours to let it cool off. Have I mentioned the short in the electrical? And the missing spring on the driver side door, or the missing spring on the gas cap cover, held shut now with duct tape that doesn’t’ stick worth a crap, probably because I bought it at Wal-Mart?
Thursday, 7:00 p.m. I’m up an hour early, because I don’t know the status of the car, or whether I will need to call someone for a ride. Damien and the band are rehearsing out in the barn, and when Damien comes in for a coffee break, I learn that he was unable to make any headway with Lee, the car guy, because Lee’s medication took hold and rendered him comatose. Our automobile diagnosis will have to wait until tomorrow. Damien checks the car and it starts without hesitation and I am relieved, albeit, short on sleep.
Thursday, 9:40 p.m. Since I got up early, I’m ready to leave for work a few minutes earlier than usual. I’ve gotten into the habit of watching my rear view mirror for the police but this one snuck up on me. I spotted him behind me at the stoplight on the overpass about an eighth of a mile from Wal-Mart. Crap, crap, crap. It’s raining, but I bet he can still read my (expired) plates. I take the first turn into the parking lot, and he follows me. Then on come the red lights. I keep moving forward, figuring I might as well park for work rather than having to chance starting the car again or hiking across the mile-long parking lot (in the rain, which, until very recently, I used to love). Well, the police officer apparently thought I was going to give chase and felt the siren was warranted. So, I moved another few car lengths, parked the car, got out my license and registration, cussed a little, and gave him my version of my and Damien's rehearsed story, in which I blamed "my husband" for neglecting the issue. No wants, no warrants. No citation. Just a verbal warning and a reminder that every time I drive until properly tagged, I am breaking the law. Thank you, officer. I’ll take care of it first thing tomorrow. Have a nice day.
Thursday, 10:02 p.m. I’m only two minutes late clocking in for work. That’s what I get for getting up early.
Friday, 7:00 a.m. Amanda asks for another ride. I need to buy groceries since I couldn’t yesterday. By the way, it’s pouring rain outside. Day four, I think, after a nearly one-month drought. We decide to have coffee and a smoke before leaving, and it turns into an almost hour-long bitch-session with me telling everyone who asks why I didn’t get the CSM position. By the time I get done, the combination of coffee and adrenaline (a/k/a anger) have put me into overdrive.
Friday, 8:30 a.m. When we step outside, I decide to be chivalrous and let Amanda wait under shelter with our shopping carts while I go fetch the car, which is parked who knows where? (That nice police officer really put a monkey wrench into my carved-in-concrete routine last night.) I finally locate my car, and it fires right up, as if it’s as ready to get home as I am, which by the way, never quite seems to live up to my expectations. I pull up to the store entrance and park the car in a fire lane for convenient loading access. Of course, I need to turn off the engine in able to extract the keys to unlock the hatch. (I’ve heard there’s new technology on the horizon that will allow one to open doors, windows, hatches and such without leaving the comfort of the front seat. I can’t wait.)
When I get out of the car, I run into a girl, Angie, who used to work with me. I spend some time catching up with her a little bit, while Amanda loads the bags into the back of the car. I tell Angie it was nice to see her, but I am running really far behind and must be going. Amanda and I jump into my Blazer while Angie runs for her car.
Why should my car start? What made you think the car would start twice in a row? Are you a complete moron, or what? Do you not realize that this is the Fall Season Premiere teaser week of “My Life for Your Entertainment Purposes,” a sitcom which appears on a local channel in Malaysia? (The actual premiere won’t air for a couple of weeks, but the Malaysians like to get things heated up early.)
After repeatedly testing the strength of the steering wheel against two balled fists, I get Angie’s attention and ask if she can wait in case we need a ride. I try for minutes and minutes and minutes to start the car. It comes SO close, SO many times. Tease, tease, tease. I run to Angie’s car. (Why does she have both her back windows rolled down? Doesn’t she know it’s raining?!) Angie agrees to wait while I run into the store to call Damien, not that he can help me much, because, well, you know the drill. He recommends that I try one more time - "Make sure you do not pump the gas!" (Who would do something so silly?) - and, if I’m not successful, just come home and we’ll take it from there.
Friday, 9:15 a.m. This time I crank on the key -- and crank, and crank -- never letting up, convinced that for sure the car is going to blow up. But, finally it turns over, - can anyone tell me why? - and we are on our way. I thank Angie for waiting, take Amanda home, reminding her three times while she is chatting her way out of my car, that said car will overheat very soon if I don’t get moving. I still have to stop and buy cigarettes (yeah, whatever!), and by the time I get home, the car is so hot I can’t believe it didn’t explode.
And, I think, that brings us to the end of our 36-hour time capsule. If I sit here long enough, I will come up with details that I have neglected, but my focus now needs to be on getting together, for all you eager beavers, the details of the 72 hours that have since passed. As far as the car goes, I don’t know anymore than I did 72 hours ago, which is putting a real damper on my weekend that has, just this hour, begun.
P.S. My shoes are still wet, and my answering machine seems to be working just fine…for everyone else.
I can think of at least three ways to fill in the two missing letters.
So, first “that handyman that lived here for awhile” pissed me off last night by denying knowing the whereabouts of my missing 8-CD boxed set of “Steely Dan,” acquired for free at my boss’ yard sale earlier this year. The fact that it was free is SO beside the point. The fact that “Thmtlhfa” stole from me – again – is not. It’s interesting, is it not, that the CDs were here on the Saturday night of “her” family renunion (I know, because I had myself a private little dance-a-thon to celebrate “their” being gone) and yet, the CDs were nowhere to be found a mere 2 days after “they” moved their crap out to start their new life together. Somebody musta stole ‘em, “Thmtlhfa” says. Yeah, and I say if somebody stole them, then that somebody was somebody that he brought into my world.
Whatever. I’m not bitter and I do not hold grudges. Really.
Then this morning my boss pissed me off before I even got to work, and through most of the day, although I was wrapped up enough in a huge project that I was able to pretty much ignore him for the entire day. In fact, we barely spoke until I left him at 5:00 p.m. sharp, dealing with a customer-from-hell. I leave promptly at 5 every day without fail. I arrive promptly at 10 a.m. and not a moment earlier. I love my job, I hate going to work and can’t wait to leave. But I will persevere and put up with his/this shit until I don’t have to anymore.
The reason I told my boss I had to leave “the party” (with the customer-from-hell) was because I had “a guy coming over to my house.” That guy was “Thmtlhfa” and surprise, surprise he was a no-show. “Thmtlhfa” was supposed to come over and give me a bid/estimate on my two Mt. Everest-sized house projects: jacking up the dining room and re-wiring my #5 electrical circuit. (I currently run my entire house on ONE circuit. Yeah, I know, whatever, I’m doing the best I can.) Of course, “Thmtlhfa” was supposed to come over after his visit with his probation officer, so who knows. He probably decided that it's easier to sponge off of his new father-in-law (who takes in $5 grand+ per month on some kind of government check) than to earn an honest dollar. I will not be contacting him again. Ever. For sure.
Whatever, tomorrow I am calling a handyman guy I recently designed business cards for. He’s a professional (right? He has business cards!). Oh, but he’s a man, so we’ll see.
Really, I don’t hate men. I know someone who does though. A very good friend of mine recently had her heart physically removed by a man, run over by his car, and then ground to the consistency of hamburger meat. He then presented her heart back to her – overcooked, I might add – on a bun, with condiments, and then asked for a tip for such fine service after an entire year! I think I will call her and ask if she wants to run off together to some exotic island somewhere.
Really, I don’t hate men. I am continuing my foray into the online dating scene. I am currently conversing (online only, thus far) with an R&B singer/musician in St. Louis who has invited me on stage with him. He is saying all the right things, but the “evening is young" so, like I always say, we will see. I will never abandon hope…for a companion, for a soul mate, or for happiness. This online thing is how I met Damien, and we all know how that worked out, but I won’t let that cloud my judgment either.
Speaking of Damien…
Oh, never mind.
Up at 8:00 a.m. to watch my fave TV programs: CBS Sunday Morning and DIY, while planning my day. My ambition is oftentimes stronger than my desire, but I will not let heat nor complacency stand in my way of having an awesome, productive day.
Inside chores done (cleaning, food prep, accounting/bookkeeping, etc.) The outdoors beckon, as they did last night, but last night the stars were out, along with the fireflies, the crickets and the cicadas, and I had to ask myself, again, why I want to leave this place. If I had a tent (barely even necessary) and an air mattress, I would set up an outdoor bedroom (and kitchen), live outdoors and camp out every night.
Today it’s hot again, but I refuse to let that impede my progress, so it’s back into my swimsuit, in and out of the pool all day, with hours more of tossing, cleaning, and organizing in and out of the barn. Austin came and visited for awhile (my 18-year old next door neighbor, grandson of the neighbor who I am thinking of offering my house up for sale to). His first question was, “So did you finally get rid of ‘them’? (them being Frank and Melissa, of course). It turned into a conversation about why Frank was here in the first place, and when I told Austin of my plans for the house (first, renovation) he was thrilled to offer his expertise. He’s only 18, but his parents (both in prison) had a roofing and renovation business for years and he claims to know his stuff, foundation repair and electrical included (really at age 18?). I told him to “bid” against Frank, who’s supposed to come over Wednesday after a meeting with his probation officer. I have such mixed feelings about this…even if Frank doesn’t really know me, he knows my house, he will work for cheap, but damn it I really don’t even want to look at him.
Then I told Austin that I was (second, after renovation) thinking of selling the place and moving, and he almost cried. Honestly, he was completely crestfallen, his face melted in front of my eyes, and then he said, “Well, I’m not going to help you fix it if you’re going to leave.” So I spent the next 30 minutes trying to explain to an 18-year-old-boy-man the concept of self-actualization, especially from the perspective of a 56-year old woman. He went so far as to offer his designated-driver services to me if I really feel the need to go to Springfield and “get my city on” once in awhile, all while trying not to look me anywhere but in the eyes as I stood in front of him in my swimsuit.
It was enough of an interruption for me to move on to my next, and nearly last, big project for the day: grill up a pile of food for the days and weeks to come, including a semi-homemade pizza, complete with garden-fresh veggies. The anticipation has been killing me for days and I spent a couple hours the other day with my grill-owner’s manual attempting to figure out why the igniter doesn’t work, why only one side of the grill wants to produce a flame, and why the right-side “venturi” underneath always wants to start on fire, melting the knob on that side. I dismantled the entire grill, discovered a lot of stuff that I really didn’t want to discover but was willing to accept, given the fact that the grill is nearly as old as I am. I put it back together, satisfied that I could make it work. And it did, for about three minutes.
After several failed attempts to keep a fire from burning underneath the grill box, right above the propane tank, I finally decided to wrap the mal-functioning venturi in aluminum foil. That worked just long enough to get the meat finished (which actually took a fair amount of time; I grilled enough meat to feed at least 2 dozen semi-vegetarians for weeks!). The big experiment was going to be the pizza (and garlic bread, yum-oh!). The foil started on fire, more than once, and I finally gave up. So, with the pizza all prepped and ready-to-go, I had no choice but to fire up the oven in my already 110+ degree kitchen.
I don’t think so. I think I will put the pizza on hold in the freezer and have a glass of wine, wait until night fall. Maybe later I will eat my pizza under the stars, with the fireflies, the crickets and the cicadas for company. Oh, yeah, and the occasional shooting star.
I had originally planned, in yesterday’s blog, to go into a bit of detail about my current experience with the online dating scene. Then I tried the real life dating scene – introduce myself to a neighbor, call “the handyman who lived here for awhile” – both without avail.
Here’s where I’m at so far, with the online scene:
· Joined match.com. Results: no communication allowed unless you pay. Oh, yes, you can do something called “sending a wink,” whatever that is, but that’s it. No communication allowed. Minimum fee: $20.00/month. I will let it ride and see what my other options are.
· I am immediately overwhelmed by spam from match.com.
· Joined ok.cupid.com. No fee, everything is free. Navigating the site is a bit of a challenge, but anything in life that’s worth a decent result requires a decent effort, no?
· Everytime I attempt to read a profile on ok.cupid.com, search my matches, or do any sort of navigation on the site, I get bombarded with pop-up windows. When I exit the pop-up, the site takes me back to the beginning, and I can never find the guy I was looking at.
· Oh, and then the virus warnings started coming. Screw this. I’m un-joining. Effective immediately. Immediately being tomorrow.
· (Saturday) After a long, really hot day taking care of practical business, I fire up my computer with the sole intent of blogging about my unsuccessful dating attempts (real and cyber). Should take about 10 minutes for my computer to boot up (I have very low high speed).
· Upon start-up, my computer is apparently feeling threatened and begins a full-on hard drive scan-and-assault mission. One and one-half hours later, it has achieved 23% completion and “corrected” no fewer than 25 viruses.
· Abort. (See * below) Continue later. I need to write.
Now, Saturday, 8.23.14
Beatin’ the Heat
Friday, 11:00 p.m.
After dunking myself in the pool a couple dozen times, I call it a night (sans neighbor guy, probably a good thing!). I go to bed wet (you know what I mean: wet, like a horse that’s been ridden hard, or um, like a fish out of water, yeah that’s what I am), hoping the ceiling fan will stir the air enough to give me the allusion of coolness. (Y’all know that I don’t have air conditioning, right?)
Saturday 12:30 a.m.
OMG, it’s freakin’ hotter than it was 2 hours ago. I am lying in bed in a puddle of sweat. There are only 3 possible solutions: 1) Sleep in the pool and risk drowning (been there, nearly done that). 2) Put about 3 inches of water in the bathtub and sleep there and wake up with a really stiff neck. 3) Cover myself in a wet towel. It will leave stains on the sheets, but that’s okay cuz I’m doing laundry tomorrow.
I opt for option #3, getting up and re-wetting the towel at least 3 times thru the night. At one point, I even poured my (always-by-my-side) bottle of water over my face.
Saturday, 9:00 a.m.
90 degrees already. Hot coffee, that should hit the spot! Off and running to do errands by 11:00. Laundry, at the laundromat, one of my least favorite chores in the world! (I used to have a functioning laundry room once and if I was staying I would invest in it again. Yet again, my reality/my future, dictates my present.)
Saturday 11:00 a.m.
Laundry started, off to the bank, the grocery store…and anywhere else I can drive to keep the wind blowing on me. Oh, the Farmer’s Market on the north side of town, 2.5 miles away. Okay! Except I knew it would be – and it was – a waste of time and gas (2 vendors, pathetic!), but it killed time (man, I hate KILLING time!).
Saturday 11:30 a.m.
Back to the laundromat, clothes into the dryers. Off to check out a new discount variety store just blocks from my house (a building I originally considered buying after the city turned down my zoning variance way-back-when). I bought a book (“My Cross to Bear,” Gregg Allman’s autobiography) and four really freakin’ awesome 3-D pictures that beg the beginning of a new collection. Now my laundry trip has cost me an additional $20.00 but that’s really quite okay.
Saturday 12:00 noon
Laundry mission accomplished, and it was a big one, needing to be done for months. My next Mt. Everest is mowing the lawn. The bank thermometer says 93 degrees, but me thinks it lies. It’s 110, at least. But my pool is ready, and I have cold beer. In case a guy shows up.)
Saturday 2:00 p.m.
Lawn done. Yea, me. How does anyone survive summer without a pool? ($14.00 at Wal-Mart, gotta love them, sometimes!)
*Saturday 6:00 p.m.
Computer scanning aborted. Blog written and posted. NOW WHAT? It’s Saturday night and it’s not right. Got a full plate planned for Sunday, but I gotta get there first. I’ve got a good book to sink my teeth into, but I doubt that it’s water-(pool)-proof. Maybe I should work on an invention for that…I’ll make millions and you can say you knew me when.
Do I go and check on guys at my dating websites? Do I go and cancel my “memberships?” no doubt leading to more spam: “Why on earth would you want to leave?” Do I let them go dormant? They’ll get tired of me eventually, right? I doubt it; I’m pretty sure they’re run by robots. Maybe I should date a robot…they are programmable, aren’t they?
Datin’ in the Ozarks…
Well, I had a really strong to-do list; strong means without head-distractions , outside distractions. As usual, that didn’t work…
First… (3:00 p.m.)
A customer at work spent 2 hours (right up till quittin’ time!) telling me how happy she is to have moved here from Alaska and found everything she has been looking for her entire life. Yea, her! Then she suggested I join the Lions Club and maybe I would find the same happiness.
Home from work. It’s really freakin’ hot, 100+ degrees. Cleaned and filled the pool last night ‘cuz I knew I’d need it this weekend. Now, I spend two full hours (not nearly enough, but it’s progress!) cleaning out the barn, preparing for my move, somewhere…
I am avoiding going online and checking the “results” of my posts at (2) dating sites. This stuff really sucks, I refuse to PAY to find “love” besides it’s how I met Damien, who I spent an entire decade of my life with -- with let’s just say, less than desirable results.
I am burning (most) every memory I have of this place. In fact my neighbor kids asked why my fire was so big. I told them I was burning my past and that they wouldn’t understand. But their grandpa did, who was watching and who has a crush on me and is married. And boring.
Then I put my swimming suit on. I needed to tend my fire for awhile and it was getting hot.
Then I remembered my other neighbor, the one I ran into the other night in the dark, on the path where I was walking my dogs. He asked me if I had water in my pool and I said no, because I didn’t, but I thought it was a very strange question and it was dark and I didn’t even know who I was talking to.
So tonite, as I was getting all heated up by my (practical) fire, I thought about having an impractical fire. With music and relaxation. So I got my courage up and went and knocked on my (I really don’t think he’s my type, but who ever really knows, right?) neighbor’s door. In my swimming suit. With coverup, to pretend modesty. (I am on the prowl for real.)
No answer after three knocks. Okay. Nope. Apparently not meant to be.
I’m still bored. Out of my freakin’ mind. Which is the better way to waste my time? And I am convinced that time is being wasted!
Then I decided to call Frank.
Melissa called me again this morning at 9:30 a.m. to see if I was coming to the 11 a.m. "postponed" wedding TODAY.
"No thanks I've got a freelance deadline."
"But I would like you to me my Maid of Honor. There is no one else. Please."
Okay. I said.
No, she did not ask me to be Maid of Honor. I was just checking to see if my sense of humor was still in tact. But would that not make an interesting story?
All done, now. Seriously, Shoot me, please, and thank you,
Oh, that’s right. It was May and I was sitting on my front porch, drinking wine and using the word “perfect” on a regular basis. I may have been lonely, which I was blissfully unaware of at the time, but I was content.
Time to reboot.
Here’s the plan:
Sell my freaking house and move to New Mexico.
· New Mexico has no water. Last I heard, the Rio Grande was pretty dried up. I guess I could adjust, take weekend trips somewhere. I have some fond memories of Lake Mead outside of Las Vegas, not too far away…
· The water issue would be more than offset by being able to live by my mom and my brother. And by not living in Mountain Grove. Plus, I’ve been looking for a reason to learn Spanish again.
· My house has some pretty serious issues. “That handyman who lived here for awhile” discovered burned insulation in my back utility room ceiling as well as melted wires in my front light switch. That means I have not had at least 2 fires. (I should probably find and install the smoke detector I bought a couple years ago at an auction.) And the dining room is a good 6 inches lower in elevation than the adjacent kitchen area. I have a large shim under my refrigerator which straddles the line, and it’s still not level. I have to kick the door shut every time I close it.
· “That handyman who lived here for awhile” said he’ll come back and fix those 2 issues for me and it won’t cost me any more than materials. He also said he’d be willing to work for “cheap” on my many other issues.
· Seriously, can I take him at his word on this? I’m certainly not going to hold my breath. And he doesn’t have a car or a driver’s license.
· He only (recently) lives an hour away and my car gets really good gas mileage so I could, theoretically, go fetch him for a weekend now and then. Assuming I can take him at his word. Seriously?
· Well, I think that’s kind of obvious. I’m not sure I ever want to see him again, much less have him around for an entire weekend, with or without his new bride, although we have spoken on the phone and he gave me a really plausible explanation for the “shotgun” wedding. Seriously? And there are “no hard feelings” between us. Seriously? But, seriously, I think I could stand it if it means that much more in resale value for my house.
· I only owe $17,000-ish on my mortgage. I think I could get that for the barn and double-lot corner property alone; in fact my neighbor expressed an interest in buying the place a few years ago. Maybe I should just bull-doze the house, a happy accident while having a load of gravel delivered, maybe? Maybe an electrical fire would be a blessing, as long as I and the animals all happen to be out of the house at the time, conveniently, during a bug bomb or painting marathon. Those thoughts have crossed my mind more than once…
· This is Mountain Grove. I’ve seen much nicer homes/properties go up on the auction block for less with no buyers. But that’s an auction (private as opposed to foreclosure). That’s different.
So, here’s the plan:
Talk to my neighbor. Contact several people that I know of in the businesses of real estate/auctions and find out what I’m really up against. Or – and this is the plan I prefer – win the Publishers Clearing House drawing on August 28. $5,000 a week for life.
Yeah, that could work.
Now, that’s funny!
Part 1 – Backstory
Okay, here’s some more backstory. That’s the only way this is going to work. Then, I promise, I’m done talking about Frank.
There were essentially three reasons why Frank (and I, to a certain, limited extent) were drawing the line at not becoming “romantically” involved, (besides the fact that I was seriously NOT looking). 1) He’s married. 2) He’s got women fawning all over him on a regular basis. (Yes, he has an admittedly huge ego!) 3. It would put a strain on our friendship/employer-employee/landlord-tenant relationship. He was serious about honoring his marriage vows and had every intention of trying to reconcile with his wife (and four kids). He did, however, express a mutual interest in our companionship, our cuddling, and seeing where things might go. He even told me, more than once, that he loved me. Our main focus, together, was to get to know each other, and to get him away from his past distractions so he could focus on putting his life back together. I offered him my (quite comfortable) barn as a sanctuary.
He had told me about two past dalliances of a sexual nature that he’d had with other women, both of whom were, at that particular time, in prison. He expressed regret, and was adamant about not becoming re-involved with either of them, although I had my doubts about one in particular, named Jessica. He even made me read several love letters she wrote to him from prison. She was scheduled to be released the Monday following the end of my vacation, and I (really) was prepared for things to become complicated.
Well, surprise, surprise. It wasn’t Jessica who showed up. It was Melissa, his other dalliance. She had gotten released early, managed to track Frank down – here – and later absconded with him on the last Friday of my vacation, after our previously interrupted, mystical Thursday experience (mentioned in a recent blog).
So, first, Frank left Thursday night during our mystical experience. He apologized Friday morning when he got back at 7 a.m. after I waited up for him all night in his “apartment.” (Go ahead, say it: I’m pathetic.) He said the people he took off with were friends of his and really needed his help. (I think, honestly, that our night was getting a little too heated, and he used them as an excuse to escape what I’m certain would have taken us across the line.) I said “what the -f- about me; when do I get what I need?” and he promised me the rest of the weekend together. We ended up spending most of Friday together, getting some work projects out of the way, scrapping some metal, running errands, moving him in. He was moving in, for real, a really good day.
That evening (Friday), just as we were getting our “party on,” a bunch of people showed up (Melissa included; she even came over and introduced herself to me) and Frank blew me off again. He said he needed to leave – only for a couple of hours – he’d be back. He told me the reason he needed to leave was because Melissa had told him that she found out after she was arrested and put into prison that she was pregnant – with his baby – which she subsequently miscarried while in lockup. Frank wanted to find out if any of this was true. Turns out it was, at least according to what Frank told me, which is what Melissa told him. At the time they were “dating” – a year or so ago if I remember correctly – they were both super-bad-ass crack-heads, so who the hell really knows, right? (BTW, Melissa is 23; Frank is 42; I am 56; who wins the age contest? Not that it matters!)
Of course, he never came back. Yes, of course, I waited. But this time I waited in my bed. And I left him a note telling him to come and find me when he returned, whatever the time, wherever I was. (Pathetic.)
Saturday morning, still no sign of Frank. He could be gone, or asleep in the barn. I’m pissed at him, so I’m not going looking. Around noon, Melissa shows up at my back door.
“Did Frank make it back last night?” she asks.
“Well, I haven’t seen him yet. He’s probably sleeping and when he wakes up I’ll have him get in touch.”
Of course, now I’m worried. Is he in jail? A hospital? Dead on the road somewhere?
I have to go look. The apartment is empty. Hmmm. Well, if Melissa doesn’t know where he is, then at least I know he didn’t spend the night with her. Not that it’s any of my damned business, right? Guess I’ll just do what I do best: wait.
An hour and a half later, Melissa’s back.
“Okay, I didn’t tell you the whole truth ‘cuz Frank thought you might get mad. He got arrested last night, and he needs you to go through his bags, find his cell phone and call his attorney.”
This is where I’ll stop with the intricate details, and move into a shorthand version of the story. The rest of it is a joke, complete with punchline. (P.S. After proofreading, I think I know I admit I am incapable of shorthand, so you might as well settle in for a bit.)
Now that’s funny!
Part 2 – Drama on Steroids
I had made it clear to Frank from the beginning that, as long as there was minimal drama, controlled drama, I was willing to step outside of my comfortable little box of a life in an effort to open myself up to the experiences he promised – and there were many, alluded to as well as actually experienced, in the course of our short time together. (Maybe someday I will expound on those experiences, but right now the feelings are still really too raw, if you can believe that after you finish this story.)
Well, Melissa brought drama, and I fought it from the beginning. And I am learning that Frank, despite his desire to find a sanctuary here with me, thrives on drama.
So, after spending Saturday with her, listening to the details of their run-in-with-the-law, and planning and plotting Frank’s rescue from yet another bad decision, Melissa and I went to the courthouse to visit him on Sunday. She told me I looked pretty, like 5 times. I was dressed to kill, for Frank. That’s funny! We two, her and I, together in my car, (we have the exact same purse. That’s funny!) 45 minutes there, 45 minutes back, and 4 hours waiting to get in. She shared “their” history, I shared “ours.” Without meaning to (really), I was claiming my “territory.” She was his past. I was his present, and maybe a part of his future.
The two of us, me and Melissa, had together 10 minutes with no privacy from each other, to visit Frank through a glass door with a speaker hole. It was one of the most uncomfortable days of my entire life. He seemed a hell of a lot more interested to see her than me, but I convinced myself that he was embarrassed for me to see the reality of his world. (Details may be disclosed at a later time.) He could barely make eye contact with me (and I with him). I said simply “What were you thinking?” He said, “I wasn’t.” I said, “My door is still open and I’ll keep the home fires burning.” (Pathetic.) He said, “Thank you.”
On Monday, Frank was supposed to go in front of the judge in Hartville where he was being held. He was also scheduled to be in court in my town (Mountain Grove) on the same day to appear on a previous “failure to appear” warrant. That’s funny. City Hall, where he was supposed to appear in my town, is a mere 20 feet away from where I work. We share a back alley. That’s funny. I couldn’t be there; but Melissa could. And she made sure that Mountain Grove went to Hartville to get him. Score one for the ex. (That’s funny.)
Melissa texted me later on Monday saying that Frank made it to both court appearances, and that Hartville would be holding him for at least a week or more. She said she had no other details except that he was removed from the courtroom and taken back to his cell. I was concerned that Frank might not be getting all the help/information that he needed (and neither was I), so since I already had his attorney’s phone number, I decided to call and see if I could consult with them or be kept apprised of his situation. This was Tuesday morning, before I went to work.
Wanna take a guess at what they told me?
“Well, we can’t share details with anyone unless he comes into the office and signs a release.”
I confidently replied, “I’m certain he would sign a release, but he can’t come in because he’s being held.”
“No, ma’am. He was released yesterday. You can call the jail and ask them yourself.”
Which I did. And he was. That’s funny!
I stewed for days, wondering if and when Frank would show back up here. On Friday, Melissa texted me to say “Frank’s back in town.”
“Yeah, I know. Released on Monday. Why the lie?”
She claims she didn’t know. I don’t believe her. Frank later claimed that he was “staying with friends” in Hartville. I don’t believe him. From this point forward, I really tried not to believe anything.
Now that’s Funny!
Part 3 – Emotional Overload
Things really started to go downhill from there. (Really, downhill???)
Frank came back, with Melissa apparently glued to his side. Every day for a week, when I saw him, I saw her. Most nights he didn’t stay here, and never told me where he was or what was going on. The only work being accomplished was demolition on Damien’s camper, which I had benevolently offered up to Frank as a bonus project for extra money for his legal situations (and there are many.) (Pathetic. Red flag upon red flag upon red flag. Am I really that starved for excitement? I was, when it was only Frank. But this is too much!)
I finally reached the end of my rope and called a meeting with Frank on the weekend. An alone meeting. No other people allowed. On the appointed day and time, he showed up, with Melissa and Troy (another associate) in tow. I was flabbergasted and asked if there had been a change of plans. He referred to them as “free labor” and said not to worry, we would not be bothered. We had a huge fight, worked it out, and managed a 2-hour “meeting” before outside distractions took him away, yet again. At the end of the meeting, I made it clear that Melissa was not permitted to stay here; I was not opening my world to anyone else, not this way. I was not going down that road again. (Can you say Traumatic Stress Disorder, seriously, in many ways? And Frank was well aware of it all.) Once again, he promised to honor my wishes.
Can you guess what happened next?
10:00 p.m. the night of the meeting. (Actually, the meeting got postponed/delayed yet again after another aborted Saturday attempt. Now it’s Sunday.) I’m getting ready for bed, walking the dogs. As I pass the barn, I hear loud music. I look in the little window (yes I’m spying; it’s my property for crying out loud! Then why do I feel guilty?) and there’s Frank and Melissa, side-by-side on our (my) couch, listening to my (our) music. Rocking away, having a good old time. Just like we used to do. I am livid. Later, I see Melissa on her phone in the driveway and I finally get my bitch on (I need to take a class). I tell her that she – or they both – need to leave. Now. And they do. (Why don’t I feel better?)
Emotional meltdown, for a solid week. Every day I come home and check the barn expecting Frank’s things to be gone. Nope. Glad. Sad. Hateful. Hopeful. For a week, I am steeling myself for the inevitable. If I have any self-respect whatsoever, I have to end this. They could drag it out forever.
A week later, however, it becomes clear that Melissa is moving in. (Why she’s moving in is another long story, having to do with her family, as well as the people on whose couch she had been crashing since her release from prison.) She is taking showers in my house, all very casual like this is just the natural course of things, cooking meals, an overload of groceries is appearing (a really funny story), a women’s touch is showing up in the apartment, including her clothes. I have to admit that she is a good tenant: she puts everything back exactly how she found it, she cleans up after herself…I’m trying to be nice…I’m searching for my inner bitch…I cannot deal with this…it must end.
I change my mind every day. I pray. I cry. I mourn. I take a day off of work. My cat dies. Life gets really shitty for a minute. Then I have an epiphany. How can I get something out of this? I am on the verge of hating Frank at this point, but I am also mourning the loss of a damned good handyman who has already saved me hundreds of dollars, and the potential savings down the road go into the thousands. If I am to move forward, which is what this was all about in the very first place (as opposed to the second place, which was the emotional wake-up call I got without asking), then I am going to have to compromise. Sacrifice. Take advantage of a second free laborer.
I call another meeting (of the Frisco Street Art Farm Tenant’s Association. That’s funny!). I make a cute little poster, keep it humorous, offer refreshments, let everyone know that it will serve everyone’s best interest to attend said meeting. It starts well. Outside by the pool, fire being tended by Frank. (Three’s a crowd, but I’m trying!) A little bit of socializing to break the ice. Once the real meeting gets underway, however, I make a mistake by addressing the emotional aspects of our situation first. I feel that needs to be done, and agreed to by all parties, otherwise the rest of the agenda will be moot.
I simply ask, that out of respect for my feelings (my feelings for Frank, as well as my having to get used to the idea that those feelings which he stirred in me are not going to have an outlet anywhere else for awhile), that they, Frank and Melissa, keep their PDA (public displays of affection) to a minimum in my presence. They agree. Eventually, we end up moving the meeting inside to the apartment so I can refer to my 8-page agenda (that’s not funny, it’s true!). Within minutes, they are all over each other and a really huge fight ensues between me and Frank which goes on till nearly 4:00 a.m.
Till (later) the next morning.
You’ll never, in a million years, guess what happens next.
11:00 a.m. the “next” morning:
Melissa comes into the house asking if I have any medicine for an upset stomach. Frank’s not feeling so good. Heart palpitations, chest pains, blood pressure through the roof. I have no idea what Gas-X or Beano is going to do to help, but I offer it up as peace token. A few minutes later, Melissa texts me (from the barn):
“Frank needs to see a doctor. Do you have the number for the walk-in clinic?”
I agree to drive them (it’s like 4 blocks away), but they won’t see him because no one has any money. So off we go to the emergency room at the nearest hospital, Houston, MO, 45 minutes away. The three of us, in my car, after our huge fight, no sleep, and me and Melissa with matching purses. And apparently some kind of shared mission to save our man. (Can you tell I haven’t quite let go? That’s funny!) Five hours later, after watching them freaking cuddle on his hospital bed (funny, seriously, I wanted to smack them both, and the administrator person kept asking me the nature of my relationship with the patient, that’s funny), I went shopping at Wal-Mart. (I could tell you a story about the guy I met in the parking lot of the hospital who was beat up by 5 people while sleeping in a bed at a friend’s house while visiting for his birthday, but I won’t.)
By the time I got back from Wal-Mart, Frank was ready to be released, but he needed meds. Hmmm, wonder who has any money? Yeah, I paid. ($13.92 for the price of hope. Pathetic.) Another trip to Wal-Mart, back home and done. Really. For good! Right? Now, that’s funny!
Now, that’s funny!
Part 4 – We’re almost there. Hang on!
Okay. Time to get down to business. I’ve gone through my mourning period. I’m sleeping better (I’m not waking up at night wondering what-the-f is going on. I now know everything. I’m not happy, but hey, my future is on the line. I can adjust.)
We, the three of us now, ugh, settle into a routine of sorts, I guess. For a week, things seem almost normal. Except for one thing: THERE IS NO FREAKING WORK GETTING DONE. Still. Everything is about Melissa. Melissa’s Dad. Melissa’s Mom. Melissa’s sister. Melissa’s upcoming Family Reunion. This (past) Saturday. And I’m invited. The three of us should camp out. It will be fun, Dawn. There will be single men. It’s three hours away and I’m sure the only reason I’m invited is so I can drive.
I actually consider it, for a minute. (Yeah, that’s how starved I am for stimulation, but only by one person at a time, please. So, I said no thanks.) And now that I know that they’re leaving for a day, maybe two, I can’t wait. Bring on my solo weekend, please!
If you read my earlier blog, you will remember me mentioning last Thursday-that-wanted-to-be-a-Friday. On that particular evening, Melissa informed me, early on, that she and Frank were heading to Marshfield (about an hour away) to deal with her family drama, trying to appease a certain situation with her Dad in time for the upcoming Family Reunion. (“Have you decided if you’re coming yet? It would be so much fun?” “No, thanks, I’ve got a freelance job to work on,” I lied. Wimp. Where the hell is my inner bitch when I need her?) I assumed they wouldn’t be back that night, but, guess what? Yeah, around 9:00 p.m. I hear an unknown woman’s voice outside my living room window, engaged in a heated discussion on her cell phone.
Later, as I’m walking the dogs, I hear a commotion coming from the barn. Angry voices. Sounds to me like a fight is going to break out. I dump the dogs back in the house, barge into the barn and YEA ME!, I suddenly find my inner bitch. I let everyone have it with both barrels: “I will absolutely not have this in my home.” I go on for quite awhile. Melissa’s sister (a drug addict with outstanding arrest warrants, according to Melissa) pleads with me to not call the cops. Frank’s response is to say, yet again, “We’ll leave if that’s what you want.” Why can’t I just say, “Yes that’s what I want?” Because I want my house fixed, damn it. We are talking about a difference in $10,000 or more in selling price and that’s a helluva lot of money. And damn it, he promised.
I walk away again, more or less leaving the ball in his court, my favorite way to play a game.
Now, that’s funny!
Part 5 – The Punchline
Saturday, August 9, 2014: 3:00 p.m.
They finally leave for the reunion. Bliss. I remember this feeling from not so very long ago. Relish it. Soak it in. Yum. I’m not really expecting them back tonite, but you never know, so I will take advantage of it by checking out the barn and seeing if they are taking care of my place.
I cannot disclose what I found.
Okay, I will. A love letter from Melissa to Frank, written in the very notebook that I provided him on our very first move-in date. A special notebook, I might add. Melissa’s clothes, hung all neat and tidy on hangers, on my exercise equipment. A small pantry area for their non-perishables. Curtains in the window. All very neat and tidy and cozy. Frank’s items as they always have been, bags and totes. And the letters from his sons, which I framed for him in an effort to help him keep his focus on what is important, sitting center stage on the end table. It’s a very nice space…I like it better than my house; I have for a long time. Frank knew that too. I told him that while we were making it his home. Now it’s not mine anymore. Or his. It’s theirs. That’s just not right. Whatever.
Sunday, August 10
(a.m.) No sign of anyone. Happy? Sad?
(p.m.) Still no sign. This is ridiculous. I put a notice on the apartment door calling for a work meeting Monday at 5:30 p.m.
Monday, August 11
(a.m.) Still no sign. The notice sounds confrontational, so I take it down. (Inner-bitch nowhere to be found either.)
(p.m.) I put up a new sign, short and sweet, with “please” in it.
Tuesday, August 12
(a.m.) I checked my cell phone just before bed last night. This morning there are 3 new messages. The interesting one begins as follows:
(From Melissa:) “Frank and I are…”
I love anticipation, so I waited and waited to open the text in full. What might it say? Frank and I are moving out? Frank and I are in jail? Frank and I are breaking up?
Are you ready?
“Frank and I are getting married Saturday, and you're invited.”
Now, that’s really funny!
P.S. There is a much longer postscript, (even though I promised I was done talking about Frank [there are big promises and there are small ones], but I suddenly realized that I failed to mention, that while in consultation at court with his attorney this past Thursday, August 7 (one of the afore-mentioned deadlines), Frank learned that his divorce had been finalized back in May, or was it March?. Funny, or not, you be the judge. I think it's hilarious, and I think God has a really twisted sense of humor!