Monday, August 24, 2015

A Reflection on this Summer

"The Fair closed last night.  It's the end of Summer."  Every year I hear this phrase repeated on the local news broadcast.  For some reason, it always makes me irrationally annoyed.  My theory has always been that it is NOT the end of Summer, at least not according to any calendar I've ever owned.  If people choose to make it be the end of their Summer...well, that's entirely up to them.  But when I heard that inevitable phrase this morning, something felt different.  I found myself silently acknowledging the hidden truth behind it.  Why?  Because this Summer has been an emotional roller coaster for me, with a very clear beginning and a very clear end.

In review...

My daughter, my only child, one of my best friends, moved to New York City to begin a new and challenging life and career.  While I am so very excited for and proud of her, I keep wondering if and when the day will come when I will wake up in the morning and not miss her.  Or at least not miss her so much that my chest hurts,  I see other people whose children have lived elsewhere and have come back to Buffalo, and I know the happiness that they are feeling.  But I don't kid myself that it is a happiness that I will ever feel.  Look, it took Buffalo 100 years to rise into one of the great cities of our country and then decline into a national joke.  I am so proud and happy that we are on the rise again, but I just don't think it will happen fast enough for someone in my daughter's profession.  She is a chef.  Can anyone guess how many new eateries we would have to add before we even come close to New York City or Boston?  If she were in almost any other line of work, I would have hope.  Right now, it all seems very permanent to me.

And speaking of New York City... I traveled with members of my Chorus to sing in various venues around Manhattan over the July 4th holiday.  I will not go into detail about the performances, because I've already done that elsewhere (Five Days in July - making Miracles with Music Notes ).   I will just say that traveling with these people, performing with these people, enduring with these people and celebrating with these people bolstered my faith in humanity.  In a way that nobody or nothing else could have or probably ever will.

It dawns on me as I am composing this that the rest of my summer had a theme of health - my health, both mental and physical.

On the physical side, I was furiously battling some upper respiratory woes in a fight that had been going on since February.  Lesson I've learned - specialists are called "specialists" for a reason.  If you are really suffering and haven't gotten to the bottom of your problem after several visits to your general practitioner, then run -don't walk - to a specialist.  What are you waiting for?  Divine intervention?   I also decided, after seeing some pictures of myself, that I had really just had it with my pudgy, bloated self.  I didn't feel terrific.  I certainly didn't look terrific.  I decided to try a program that I had been reading about off and on for months called Whole30.  Without going into the necessary copious detail needed to really understand it, Whole30 calls for eliminating foods that are known allergens and inflammatories from your diet for 30 days.  It is really about discovering if food is the source of what is ailing you (it usually is), which particular food is ailing you (could be more than one food group) and the shocking discovery that so much of what we are sold in grocery stories - even so-called "healthy" grocery stores- is just plain bad for us sometimes to the point of almost qualifying as poison.  I suspected it all along, but until I experienced feeling about 250% better after completing this 30 day program, all I can say is that I am determined to continue eating this way even though it takes a lot of planning and cooking on the weekends and even though I'm pretty sure it will be even more difficult to execute during the winter months.  No wonder Europe doesn't want anything to do with our food.  Amazing!!

On the mental side, I've really been exploring the major relationships in my life this summer.  I  don't have many of them any more, but the ones that I do have are pretty complex.    It has been a process that started with my daughter making her permanent move to New York City and culminates with this post - although I would be pretty ignorant to think that relationships aren't continually changing - growing, shrinking, morphing, etc...

It started with identifying which relationships were even worth examining.  You know, expending energy on evaluating someone who really adds nothing to your life might not be worth it.  A person isn't necessarily valuable to you just because he or she isn't a detractor.  (Before I go any further,... I am not talking about social media "friends" and other acquaintances here.  I'm talking about truly major relationships created and built due to either blood, time, proximity, experience or any combination of these things.)  So, over the course of this summer, I've thought about these special people in my life - the good aspects, the not-so-good, the downright infuriating stuff, and I've  parsed them down into two groups.

- The "Time for Radical Change" group

 If someone contributes a whole lot more bad than good to me and my mental well-being, it's time to create some distance from that person.  I've heard the term "toxic" relationship being used in print.  That's way too general for my liking.  If two people have any kind of history together, their interactions are usually much more complex than that. No relationship is all bad or all good, unless you're living in some sort of magical fairy world. If it's not possible to physically cut the ties for some reason, then I have to learn how to mentally distance myself from that person.  I'm not sure yet just how I will accomplish this or if I will even be successful at all, but one thing's for sure: if it's coming down to my mental health versus this person's mental health, I'm choosing to fight for my own.

- Relationships worth fighting for.  This was the easy category to identify.

My daughter.  I know that long-distance relationships really can't be the same as the relationships we have with people in our own back yard.  What I have to do is to find a way to be done mourning the "back yard" relationship I had with her and move on to the next phase.  She is, as I said before, one of my best friends - the happy byproduct of successfully helping our children grow into adults.  Social media, for better or for worse, will be our ally, as will text messaging and e-mails.  I will be vigilant in my efforts to keep our lines of communication open, and our visits to the "Big Apple" will be highly valued, and every minute will count.

My husband.  What I have come to realize over this Summer is that he is struggling to adapt just like me.  Three months ago, I wouldn't have thought so.  We just returned from a trip to Toronto.  I had insisted that the trip not be about my birthday.  Mostly because I don't care that much about my birthday any more.  While we were there, though, it was clear that his priority was that I have a good time.  For my birthday and just simply for me.   Not all of the plans worked out as anticipated, but what spoke the loudest to me was that there actually were plans.  I loved that more than anything.  What I came away with is that we will have to grow into our empty nest.  We cannot just snap our fingers and - viola! - everything works.  I'm not sure why I ever thought it would be that easy.

My friends.  What I learned over this Summer is that, as with my daughter, just like long-distance relationships can't pretend to be backyard relationships, so too, backyard relationships can't thrive and grow if they're treated like long-distance relationships.  To me, they're like a flower bed - in your "back yard" (get it?).  You can't water and weed them through the computer or telephone.  Now of course, it's really just not that black and white all the time - is it?    But if the effort is there, the garden will flourish.  There may be a lot more weeds at some times than others, but as long as the weeds aren't allowed to overtake the flowers, everything will be OK.

Maybe the end of the Fair is the end of Summer.  I didn't even go to the Fair this year.  The Greek Festival has often been hailed as the beginning of Summer.  I didn't go to that either.  This is our life. Artificial beginnings and endings have a habit of psyching us all out.  Don't buy into it.  Try creating your own beginnings and endings and see where they take you.

Monday, August 10, 2015

August 10, 2015 Not a Bad Weekend

Checking in today with good news.  We had a nice, confrontation-free weekend.  Of course we were apart all day, both days and only met up at dinnertime.  Rather than analyzing what that might mean, I'll just accept it.   Because...... the last "episode" occurred on a weeknight....

Breathe... and one day at a time.  I am very happy that we are going to Toronto for two days, on a weekend that coincidentally falls on my birthday.  I am really not comfortable with the idea that this trip is "for my birthday".   Bill keeps teasing me that it is.  In my mind, it is NOT.  We try to go to Toronto at least once a summer, and the summer is rapidly disintegrating.  The 22-23rd just happens to be the weekend of which both of us have no other commitments.  This is not a milestone birthday, so I feel really uncomfortable thinking of this getaway as a birthday trip,  He will persist, though, because that way he gets to paint me as the self-centered jerk - at least that's how I feel when he refers to it as a "birthday trip".

<Sigh>....... one thing is for sure.  We are staying in a very cool hotel, and if it's the same type of room as last time, the room is also very cool.  I had the misfortune of getting my period the day we arrived last time.   A crushing disappointment, to say the least.  We had better make up for that misfortune this time around - bring on the wild night!  

Thursday, August 6, 2015

House Rules

I really should post an entry on days when things are going well.  Monday was a good day.  Tuesday was good until approximately 9:00PM or so when, in the interest of sharing, I told Bill about some of my social plans for the what remains of the summer.    You see, I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't.  I'm told that I "don't tell him anything".  I was also accused on Tuesday night of "yelling at him all the time."    Hmmm.... what reason could I possibly have to yell at him, I wonder?  Why would I want to hesitate about telling him things?  It couldn't possibly have to do with the fact that anything I tell him that doesn't directly involve him is met with mockery, insults or incessant grilling and critiquing...

To sum things up, here are our current house rules


 - does not clean up dishes after any meal and hasn't since he started working in the metal shop presumably because he was always "beat".   He no longer works in the metal shop.  Hasn't for months.  This along with never, EVER putting things back where he found them,.

- Plans random activities every weekend with male friend, whenever he isn't sewing insulated blankets.  Informs wife of his activities on a "need to know" basis.  All she needs to know is that he's rarely around on weekends,  He does usually show up for dinner and evening activities.  I'll give him that much.  And if I make plans for both of us, he's there.

- takes care of household tasks and chores on an "as needed" or "emergency" basis.  IE - one of his acquaintances was coming over last night, and he was frantically vacuuming and throwing clutter into bags to be hidden.

- if the wife says anything that he isn't 100% happy with or that he thinks may lead to something that he won't be happy with, he feels entitled to the use of swearing and nasty name-calling.  His idea of an ounce of prevention?  This behavior is usually followed by an extended period of nit-picking every move she makes.

- randomly intersperses periods of  light-heartedness, joking and generosity into all of the above so as to keep the wife off balance at all times.   During these periods is when sex usually occurs, which makes the wife wonder about his motivations.


- cooks and cleans up after because the alternative is to eat out all the time which is expensive and unhealthy.  After a few years of picking up after husband and putting things away, she became totally discouraged and  not only stopped picking up after him but lapsed into his patterns of bad behavior.

- Engages in one outside activity that is very important to her -  important enough to put up with the mockery, insults and critiquing he give her.  Has gotten to the point where she plans activities with friends, tells him, then thumbs her nose at him when he fusses about it.  No point in even trying to be pleasant or diplomatic.

- now feels justified in saying what's on her mind as it comes in to her mind.  Otherwise, she will be accused of "not telling him things".

- No longer holds back her anger when he degenerates into the swearing and name-calling and sometimes responds in kind. She knows that it's wrong, but in the heat of the moment, she doesn't care.

- has decided that if she is such a crashing disappointment as a wife, she might as well respect herself by sticking up for herself when arguments start.  She knows and admits that she is not perfect.  Too bad he can't do the same.

- will continue to go along with the sex as long as it continues to be better than self-gratification.  So far, so good.   They always say men are only good for one thing.  Too bad they feel the need to live down to that saying.

Those are our house rules as of today.  So the question to be answered is this - are we life partners or are we roommates with benefits?    And what happens when you can't tell the difference anymore?

Monday, August 3, 2015

A New Direction for This Blog August 3, 2015

Greetings to all who are still with me on this blog!

A few weeks ago, I started a new blog that I am actively promoting on social media.  I am going through what I will call an "interesting" phase in my life right now, and I've decided that I really need to journal my feelings.   So,  this blog is going to take the shape of a journal, and if you don't know me personally, I will be using names and places that are a part of my personal life, and I won't be bothering with extra descriptions.   If that doesn't appeal to you, then get out now; otherwise....

Mandy moved to New York City in June.  My only child is gone for the foreseeable future.  Please everyone, stop telling me what a great place it is to visit and how so many young people are returning to Western New York.  And, above all, PLEASE stop asking me about when I think she'll come here for a visit! She just started a new job, for Christ's sake!!  We have a visit planned for the end of October, which, today might as well be the end of never..

I've decided that Bill is just as mixed up as I am about our empty nest.  The problem is, he won't talk about it.  So I can't tell if he's still interested in me as his wife and partner, or if he just wants a roommate that cooks.  He seems to only be capable of thinking in terms of "me" and "I" rather than "us" and "we"-  case in point:  this birthday party at the Manor House in September.  When I told him that we might have been been back-doored into sleeping there on Saturday AND Sunday night, his response was "I have to go to work in the morning!!"  These words instantly infuriated me, and I replied "Well what the hell do you think I have planned for Monday morning?  Sitting around eating bon-bons"???  He is like this about everything.  It's like I'm some vague after-thought for him.  Without a dependent child in the mix, I guess he has no reason to think about me at all.  Today my alarm malfunctioned and I was running behind.  Now, he has made it clear that he rolls in to work at 8:30 or 9:00 and is the first one there.  I have to be downtown by 7:30.  So, I'm scrambling around, run downstairs.... and there he is at the stove, making HIS breakfast.  This is not the time he usually makes it, but he decides that today would be a good day to do so,...... because why not make Tina more late than she already is????

My choices, as I see them right now, are to either try to bring him around or to just start doing my own thing without him, just as he seems to be doing. Of course, that is not as easy as it sounds.  Social media is flooded with people posting about vacations and picnics and whatnot, which involves (duh!) groups of  people - as in someone other than me, myself and I.  I am just out of ideas on what to do about this, and maybe writing about it will help me to not turn into a complete basket case.

My mother consciously chose the path of the Lone Wolf.  For quite a few years, it seemed to work for her - until she died bitter and lonely.  Which makes me wonder if she really chose the path or was forced down it by circumstance.  At least while my father was alive, she had a partner who seemed remotely interested in her.  So, in a way, she was better off than me.  This thought does NOT make me feel better.