Swamp Water

Wow it has been a minute since I added anything to this blog. I regret that but let’s try this again.

I’ve been back in California for two years now, and coming back almost didn’t happen. The fear of the unknown is very powerful. Not to mention the mom guilt of taking my 13-year-old daughter (at the time) away from her friends of seven years. (And then there’s California traffic, cost of living, blah blah) Plus, living in routine, no matter how unhappy you are is just a safe, comfortable and familiar thing. You start to believe that this is life, this is where your choices have gotten you, and now you have to live with those choices. The thought of making another choice to change everything seems crazy, ludicrous and downright impossible.

However, in 2016 I got it into my head that maybe…just maybe it was possible to change the direction of my life and find this elusive happiness I’d heard so much about. So, it came down to this: Do I stay in Oregon? Do I stay in an unhappy marriage? Do I continue to go through my days like a robot, purely running on the needs of the day, shut down, and never really feeling anything. At first I thought maybe I was just missing my friends and family, so in 2014 my daughter and I got on an Amtrak train to visit everyone. Upon my return to Oregon I had realized something. I had missed nothing. Not even my husband. The next two years I felt like there was an itch beneath my skin that I couldn’t scratch. I couldn’t live like this anymore.

And yet, I still wavered. Going through the motions and being unhappy was just normal to me. I knew how to exist and function that way. However, that was the problem, wasn’t it? I was only existing. Not living. I should add that by this time I had lost quite a few family members, including my mother. The thought of the end was always at the forefront of my mind. And this ultimately helped me to make this tough and scary decision. I felt if I didn’t change my current life path I would be drowning in regret on my death-bed.

When I spoke to family and friends on the phone they would ask, “What is really the problem?” I would eventually give them the details of everything about my marriage and life in general, but at first I simply said, “I feel like swamp water.” Of course the response was, “Huh?” Simply put I felt stale, stagnant, unmoving, unchanging. I existed in this murky loop that on my worst days made me feel like I might as well have been dead. It felt like I was dying. It felt like my internal organs would start shutting down at any moment. I had nothing to look forward to. Nothing seemed to excite me. I did what I was supposed to do as a Mom and a wife. From my daughter of course I could feel love and joy but one day she was going to venture off into the world and I would still be here in this state and in this marriage.

I approached my husband to have an honest conversation, at first about our issues, and my feelings about living in such an isolated area. His response, “You knew what you were getting into. You knew how I was.” Indeed I did. My bad.

I approached him again later expressing how my unhappiness was no joke. I was not ok. And that my leaving was real and going to happen. His response, “Who’s going to watch the dogs?” That’s what I got from the person I was with for 9 years. Not, “Let’s work on things.” Or anything of that nature. Only an expression of how inconvenient it would be. That cemented for me I was doing the right thing. This part of my life was over. Oddly enough I did feel bad about leaving the four dogs. I did take the one that was the most attached to my daughter, but I still miss the other fur babies. Anywho…………………

My daughter and I came back to California and were taken in by family. The first year and a half was amazing and tough. Full of emotional ups and downs. Many days of crying on the bathroom floor. Followed by laughter and joy just being with my family again. (I might fill in these gaps another time) I immersed myself in online dating, which gave me some interesting stories to tell to say the least, and surprisingly it worked out after weeding through some craziness. To sum it all up for now I had in fact made the right choice. Not just because seven months ago I met the most amazing human in the most unexpected and weirdest way, but because life feels full of possibilites. Not just because I found the most solid and real love I’ve ever known, but because I’ve never looked back.

Now I know they say not to look for happiness in another person, well I’m sorry but I’ve never felt so complete, and whole in my life. And I owe that to this man.

It feels like every decision, and every bad, terrible, and painful thing led me to him. And now it all makes sense. I was earning him. I’ve been paying dues from my childhood on through the age of 39. If he is the prize then absolutely everything was worth it. Now, at the age of 40 I know what love is supposed to feel like. I know what happy feels like. It actually feels a little terrifying but I suppose that might be because I’m not used to it. I’ve been programmed that this emotion isn’t allowed, or is just a fantasy, something for movies and other works of fiction.

My daughter is also happier. At first she was “salty” as she put it. But as it turns out she likes the school she’s in better and has made some great new friends.

For the first time I feel like I’m living a life that just might be on the right path. I’m excited. I’ve traveled. I’ve eaten new foods. I have a renewed sense of purpose. A renewed fire to go after my dreams. I’ve made some important promises to myself: To never fear a life changing decision. To not fear the unknown. To embrace and welcome it. And most importantly, to never ever become swamp water. It’s not fun to be infested with angry, bitter alligators. Nopity nope, I do not want that again.

So, let’s see what happens…

6 Hours

My record for shortest employment use to be thirty days when I was seventeen. Now, at the age of thirty-six I have beat that record. Recently, I lasted one day-six hours to be exact, at a resort with a great ocean view. Just to be clear, I quit. To date I have never been fired from a job. I’ve been cleaning houses for extra money, so I thought a housekeeping job at a motel/hotel wouldn’t be much different. Cleaning is cleaning, wiping away germs and fecal matter of strangers is the same anywhere. Right?

I was hired at one of the nicer places in my town, but now I’m thinking I may have had a better experience at one of the smaller, “please come in, WE HAVE HBO,” establishments. I was hired at the end of my interview, and before I left, the manager of the resort introduced me to the head housekeeper, who was to be my trainer. I was also introduced to my first problem.

If you’ve seen the movie, “Pitch Perfect,” you know all about the character, Lilly, the quiet whisper girl, no one could understand. This was my trainer. 100%. No exaggeration. I guessed at everything she said and responded appropriately. I also questioned my hearing since her vocal level didn’t seem to be an issue for anyone else around. I assume they’re just use to it. Like, how a mother is usually the only one who can understand her rambling toddler.

I had a few days between my interview and first day on the job, and in that time I convinced myself that when she trains her voice probably elevates, and goes into vocal beast mode.

It does not.

On THE day I arrive at ten in the morning, get introduced to other employees, who all seem nice, but there seems to be some issues in the air. I’m ushered into the back office to fill out paperwork, and the manager turns on her heels quickly back out to the front, mumbling about someone not showing up for work this morning. A straight up no-show without calling. I dreaded those when I worked in retail. Another employee arrives and introduces herself to me. After a couple pleasantries she asks me if I smoke.

“No,” I said.

“Good,” she says. “Those girls that smoke on their breaks will stab you in the back.”

A “hmm” facial expression is all I could muster. I didn’t have any desire to pick up what she was putting down. I had only been there ten minutes for Christ’s sake! I didn’t want any part of workplace hostility.

My trainer had been shoveling a giant waffle in her mouth, quite loudly funny enough, and also heard everything Ms. Positivity had to say, and didn’t say anything like, “That’s inappropriate.” Or maybe she did say something, how would I know. Once I finished the paperwork I came to the conclusion that Ms. Trainer might be storing pieces of waffle in her mouth, and must whisper to keep them in place.

In any case it was time to learn how to clean the rooms.

First I’m taken to the housekeepers supply/ laundry room. It was a hot mess. Clean sheets were thrown atop a table, mangled and twisted. The shelves where you were supposed to grab most supplies, such as, towels, blankets, different sized sheets, and comforters were mostly empty. Random supplies were strewn about. The entire layout didn’t make sense. The room was in desperate need of an organizing makeover. Ms. Trainer was grabbing this and that, moving from here to there, without explaining one single thing. The only thing I learned was the manager was also the owner…I guess. I was sure of at least every fifth word out of her mouth throughout the day. And it was the owner’s husband doing the laundry, making the different sized mangled sheet pile larger. I meet another housekeeper talking with Ms. Positive, who walked in shortly after I did.

She proceeds to start talking about the no-show.

“She’s probably with Carly’s husband. She’s too busy with everyone else’s husband to show up for work.”

The owner’s husband says nothing.

I’m already over this work environment. I don’t care if the smokers are backstabbers, and I don’t care if no-show is a homewrecker, what is worse than all of that, is gossipers, and cliques. With no sign of an authority figure putting that crap in check. Sure, maybe informing me the smoking circle carry knives was doing me a solid, but I should be able to make my own decisions about people. And maybe Ms. Positive has a perception problem and is a raging bitch.

Moving on from that, we have put cleaning products, towels, and sheets on a cart. Ms. Trainer is going to do a few rooms with me, and then I’m supposed to do a few alone. Normally, a housekeeper would do eight rooms at least in a six-hour shift. Only spending thirty minutes or less in each room. And the faster you are, the more money you make. We go to another supply room where you get toiletries, coffee, and cups for the rooms. She explains all this stuff goes into a caddy, which then goes on the cart. Every housekeeper has their own caddy, but there aren’t any extras, so I’ll have to figure something out. Oh, okay.

On to the first room. First we strip the room of used sheets, towels and garbage. Ms. Trainer has suggested not to wear gloves, but I could if I wanted to. She said she worked better without them, so I chose not to as well. As soon as I picked up my first dirty, wet towel I regretted that decision. So gross, so gross, was all I thought.

I always wore gloves when I cleaned houses. Plus, I knew who I was cleaning after.

Notice, I did not say we stripped blankets or comforters. I already had a suspicion I wouldn’t be replacing the top comforter, but the blanket?! Ew. I was told only if I see a stain or if it feels wet, do I replace the blanket. Ew. We proceed to strip and make the beds, two queens. They’re not strict on folding corners of the top sheet and blanket underneath, but I did get a lesson on folding the top sheet over the blanket (that was last washed God only knows when) at the head of the bed, which was way more complicated than it sounds. Instead of tucking the ends under, they are left hanging, that means your double fold had to stay. Mine continued to come undone. A hot panic attack flash washed over me. It was one of those simple, yet complicated things. Logically you know you’ll get better over time, but this was making me angry. I wish I had a picture to show exactly how she said to do the fold.

Next we moved on to the bathroom. Pretty basic until I watched her make fans and a swan with wash cloths. She didn’t ask me to try while I watched, even though that would have been a good idea. I was shown all the other basic cleaning stuff, and then we went to the next room. After repeating everything two more times my back was killing me. Since I was hit by a drunk driver in 2005 my back hasn’t been the same. Making the beds and the constant bending became torture. I still did my best to move like I wasn’t in any kind of pain.

I was supposed to do three rooms by myself, but Ms. Trainer only left me alone for the final room. Before I started I took a ten minute break. I only brought an energy bar with me. No water or anything to drink, not very smart on my part. I was told I could buy a water, so I go in the back office to get money out of my purse. A nice young lady tells me there is a container of water in the refrigerator, and random cups on top of the refrigerator I can use. At this point my throat is painfully dry, and my back feels like it’s been stabbed twenty times with one of those kitchen knives, you know the ones, the ones in the movies people always get stabbed with. So I grab a cup, pour the water, and gulp. I glance down to see clumps of dirt and dust floating in the water. The young lady is at the only sink washing cups, and she knows I already drank from the cup, so how do I wash it without her knowing I already drank dirt. Or at least I guess that was my thought process, I don’t know, my brain was fried, I was working with a low-level of brain functions, and I was miserable. So miserable, and so full of not caring I continued to drink my dirt water. Oh, hell yes, I did.

In my solo room I finish Making the beds and I am very ready to throw up. I vacuum, dust, sweep the balcony, wash sliding glass doors, scrub the toilet, bathtub, get on my knees to wipe the bathroom floor with a cloth, as I was shown, and that dirt water is definitely not agreeing with me.

Now it’s time for towel origami. I have to make two fans and a swan. The swan was supposed to look like this…

towelswan

Pretty basic as far as towel swans go. But I could not do this to save my life. By the way, I already spent an hour and fifteen minutes in this room. I was told normally first timers take forty-five minutes at the most. My back wasn’t going to allow that. This towel swan was not going to allow that. At least I didn’t have to attempt something like this…

towelswan2

My lack of towel origami skills almost pushed me to walk out before my six-hour shift was over, and let the manager know I would never be returning. I’m not generally a quitter, but the reality was my body was not going to be able to keep up with the demands of this job. Plus, making shapes with towels is stupid. When I walk into a motel/hotel/resort I could care less about the shape of my towels.

I found Ms. Trainer in another room. “Could you show me how to do the swan again?”

“I’ll do it later,” she said. Again, I’m assuming. But yeah, the effort she was putting into this training matched the effort she put into the volume of her voice.

The six hours end, and I walk up to the boss to thank her for this great opportunity, but this occupation isn’t for me. But before I can say anything she says, “I know today was kind of rough, but I hope you come back tomorrow?”

“Sure, sure,” I said. I very much punked out.

When I got home I cried from the pain in my back. I cried at the thought of returning the next day. I cried remembering how the stark white towels mocked me with their lack of swan shape. I cried wondering what the hell sort of disease I drank from that cup.

At eight o’clock the next morning I called and said I could not continue working there. She thanked me for at least letting them know.

So with that my career as a hotel slave was over. And I will never have to knock on a door and say, “Hello, housekeeping. Housekeeping.” Knock, knock. “Housekeeping!”

Things I Should Do In 2014

NOT RESOLUTIONS

**Purchase a purple zip up hoodie.

Reason: I love purple. Why do I not have one already?

**Start watching Breaking Bad and Dexter on Netflix.

Reason: I think I’m just supposed to so I can be accepted by society.

**Learn how to sew/crochet.

Reason: No. Never mind. I’m already bored with thinking about it.

Seriously though who wouldn’t want to be able to make this…

Cozy: Like a boss.

**Try to control the actions of others more…wait, I mean relax when people don’t do what I know is best, and work myself up to an anxious ninth level of hell state. Plus, not to get anxious in general…about everything.

Maniacal Musings Part Three

1. In October I came across a television show called, “The People’s Couch” on the Bravo channel. For thirty minutes I watched people, watching T.V., and having exaggerated reactions to reality and scripted shows.

It was inane. This show was based on a U.K. program called, “Gogglebox,” which I hope was in some way more entertaining than this. I felt like I time travelled to a future where humans have become completely brain dead, and Kim Kardashian was president. How else could such a thing be available on my television. Thankfully, for my sanity it was cancelled after only three episodes. Sadly, I found an article titled, “People’s Couch Cancelled too Soon.” Bullshit. It should have never existed in the first place. And for future reference if you want a realistic view of people in their home watching T.V., the average American doesn’t watch it like this…

Or this…

peepcouch4

They watch it like this…

And like this…

2. Now let’s completely change the subject.

The only truth I know about life: One day your mom is telling you not to forget to wear a jacket, and before you know it, she’s shelf decoration in a box that looks like a 5th grade paper mache project.

(Picture: Not actually my mother, but similar.) This is what you get when you haven’t picked something out around here, so it got me searching for new options. And my God, there are some interesting options…

The chocolate box urn for a fair price of $1,200. I wouldn’t mind this as my final resting place.

Now this next one is very practical…

The urn ashtray. Price unknown.

For the diva in your family, which is actually titled, “The Diva Urn”

Or for someone who just loved purses. Also, if you desire to conveniently carry them around. $995

Now, for the one that was sold out on the website decorativeurns.com…for Dr. Who fans

Because who wouldn’t want the Doctor Who police box urn as a birthday gift. $950

And last but not least, the most classy one of all… $2.58

The best part about this: I got to start a conversation with my husband like this, “So I was looking at urns today, and I know what I want to put you in…”

AreUseserious2

Happy Holidays!

Maniacal Musings Part Two

–I heard French fry vending machines may be popping up in the U.S. They’re already in Belgium and making their way to Iran, Croatia, and Chile. And some people have the nerve to say there is no God.

Actually, I believe this gets us one step closer to the morbidly obese futuristic world portrayed in WALL-E.

–I’m tired of looking at Miley Cyrus’s pelvic muscles just like everyone else, but after she recently hosted Saturday Night Live, I see this headline, “MILEY BLASTED BY STROKE ASSOCIATION OVER SNL TONGUE JOKE.” First of all, who knew there was a stroke association, because I sure as hell didn’t. Secondly, it’s a satirical comedy show, and she most certainly didn’t write her own lines. The joke in question was during the opening sketch where Miley was asked, why she keeps sticking her tongue out.


Her response, “I’m having tiny strokes, yo!”

Oh Lawd! Then here comes the stroke police, “Mini strokes are no laughing matter…and sticking your tongue out is not a sign of having one.” Look, my own mother had a mini stroke and a massive stroke, and I still believe EVERYTHING in life is a laughing matter. As a matter of fact, laughing at life’s tragedies can be quite healing. Good grief, jokes about strokes even rhymes, they’re totally meant to go together! Calm your tits, Stroke Association, and realize making jokes about serious matters does in no way, shape, or form take away from their seriousness.

–Fact: I don’t care how old you are, if a brand new box of 64 Crayola crayons does not bring you joy, then you have no soul. I hope the, “Soul Association” doesn’t blast me for saying that because being soulless is no laughing matter.

–It’s, “Tales of the Tampon” time! I was told the most awesome story by a friend the other day. Most importantly I have her permission to share it. (I’ll condense the story to save time and sanity) She was on her way to work where they can’t easily get to their lockers during breaks. She had the genius idea of throwing the tampons she needed in her lunch bag, so she could conveniently snatch’em from the break room. Which of course means THEY ARE SITTING IN THE REFRIGERATOR. It never occurred to the woman this would create a tampon with an undesired side effect. Which is called, “Brrrr vagina Syndrome.” She tried rubbing it between her hands to no avail. She walked around for about ten minutes being violated by the cold intrusion. Luckily, no one asked what was wrong. Unfortunately, a bit of her self-confidence in the ability to think things through died that day. I enjoyed this story immensely, and the more you picture it, the more enjoyable it becomes. At least her lunch was not required to go in the freezer. However, there is a part of me that wants to put one in the refrigerator out if curiosity. Don’t judge.


Some of these might come in handy…

Mom, Can I Watch Hookers?

My daughter came up to me yesterday and asked, “Have you seen the show Top Hooker.”

Stunned, not believing she said, what I think she said, I say, “Did you say Top Cooker?” Keep in mind she has been watching Food Network a lot.

“HHHHookkeeerrrrrr.”

Never hearing my 10-year-old say this word before and not quite understanding why she’s saying it now, I mentally prepare to have a long talk with her, and find out how in God’s name did she come across this program. Not to mention the fact, if I thought reality TV was getting ludicrous before, well, I assure you, we are all going for a ride on Satan’s rollercoaster, if prostitutes are in fact vying for top prize during primetime family viewing. And what is the top prize – Pimp of your choosing? Lifetime supply of condoms? Upgrade to stripper? Hopefully the prize is counseling and vaginal reconstructive surgery.

Is part of the competition who can stay STD free the longest? Who can hook-in the most sad, pathetic, perves, in one night without wearing two push-up bras, a skank suit and clown makeup?

But all of this thinking was for not. “Mom, it’s on Animal Planet. Have you seen it or what?”

“Uh, what do they do on this show?”

“They catch fish.”

“Oh.”

“Well, whoever ‘hooks’ the most fish or something. I saw a preview but didn’t watch it, but I wanted to know if it was interesting.”

Obviously, I hadn’t watched it or heard of it. But, they know what they did with that title. I’m not sure I approve of the preview I watched online either. If you wanna check it out http://animal.discovery.com/tv-shows/top-hooker/videos/who-will-be-americas-first-top-hooker.htm and this is the first picture I see when I look up the show. Soooo, yeeeaaahhh…….

atophook

It may not be what I originally thought but I have some reservations about my daughter watching it.

SMTWTFS

At thirty-five years old I’ve become that person. I have one prescribed pill and until a week ago I was doing fine remembering to take it. Then, it happened. What every person with prescription medication fears, “Did I take my medication?”

“Shit.”

Did I take my medication!?”

It’s thirty minutes past the scheduled time. Panic rises in my chest and my brain is frantically trying to recall every step I took since getting out of bed. But all I remember is eating a banana, one of the dogs puked, and a woman, who needs to learn parking lot etiquette, pissed me off at my daughter’s school.

Wait…wait…when did I start this new bottle? Oh crap, this is gonna be like math, and the math Gods did not smile upon me when I was born. Everything numeral gives me a burning sensation in my head.

Let’s see, I had two pills left from a previous bottle when I picked up this one from the pharmacy. I started this bottle on this day, and it started out with thirty pills. Okay, so, I should probably count how many pills are left in the bottle. Sooooooooo, um, I’m 98% sure I didn’t take it.

I wondered if skipping a dose would be worse than doubling a dose. My brief research (Googling) concluded it would be double dosing. I popped a pill feeling confident with my 98% sure-ity.

Everything was fine and that night I told my husband about my afternoon crisis. The next day he says he has a present for me and produces this –

017

I’m also using it for vitamins, but my husband shouldn’t use the word “present” so loosely. “Present” indicates a wrapped item that’s sole purpose is to evoke joy or at the very least makes your face change expressions. This was more like, here I bought you something at the drugstore. Enjoy.

P.S. I am not ashamed I had to watch this Youtube video on subtracting mixed numbers http://youtu.be/tVrelLu6K6k to help my daughter with her 4th grade homework. I don’t remember doing anything like this in the 4th grade. I actually don’t remember doing this at all. But I do have a talent for going into a math induced coma whenever too many numbers are being thrown in my face. Or, I need to put some ginkgo biloba in my pill box to help my dusty thirty-five year old memory.