The wrath of Evelyn?

I wasn’t going to write about this, but maybe it’s a sign.

I am rather confused on how to read it.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence.

I’m not a very superstitious person.

Ah, who am I kidding?? I get all bent out of shape from a bad fortune wrapped in a crappy tasting cookie.

It started last week on the evening of the first snowstorm in April. We scheduled an appointment for our realtor to come out to get some pricing together on our house. A distant cousin of mine is interested in buying our house before we put it on the market.

The snowstorm prevented the realtor from coming out on the scheduled night.  

I jokingly said to my husband that maybe we weren’t meant to sell the house to my cousin.

After the realtor came out, we scheduled a meeting with my cousin for this past weekend.

This past weekend we got hit by Blizzard Evelyn, the biggest snowstorm our area has seen in over 100 years.

Now Evelyn was my grandma’s sister and my distant cousin’s grandmother.

Another sign, perhaps?

I was fairly close to my Aunt Evelyn. When my kids were little, I often visited her with my grandma.

I felt like I had a lot in common with Evelyn. She was a thin wispy woman that always seemed to worry. Her house was always clean. She had a hard time sitting still. She loved visiting with the kids. Sometimes when we were ready to leave, she would open up the door to a side room with a waiting 10 course homemade meal. She was a lonely widow. How could we say no?

I miss my visits with my grandma and her sister. They have both been gone a long time now. I have remembrances of both around my house. My grandma helped plant the trees in my backyard and I have my aunt’s paintings on my walls. It was soothing to think that maybe a relative would buy our house and the memories of these sweet ladies would live on.

I always envied my cousin. She was the only child born to her parents after over a decade of infertility. She was a miracle baby, a beautiful princess. Her parents spoiled her rotten.

As a child, I wanted her life. I would’ve given anything to be her.

Looking back, I’m glad that my hardest years in life were my childhood. It gave me strength, made me tough, and built my character. If the best years of your life are your childhood, everything else is downhill. How can you be happy when you’ve had it so much better before?? But, of course, I want my children to have a great childhood unlike my own. What is disservice!

I don’t want my cousin’s life anymore. Maybe now she wants my life.

She got married and started a family a couple of years after I did. But, unlike me, she left her husband and children behind for another man. Her family was devastated. Since then several years passed. She is now living with a much older man who just left his wife of many years.

My cousin’s story is not all that much of a rarity anymore. Staying married for a long time to the same person is.

My grandma and her sister married young and stayed with their husbands until death. It seems easy, ideal actually, to have that one true love that you stay with through thick and thin.

No one I know really wants their children to marry young. Finish college first. Then be out on your own for awhile. I am guilty of wanting the same thing for my children. Yet we want them to find that one true love that they stay with for their whole entire life like our grandparents did. It’s not practical.

Last week, Paul and I ran into an acquaintance who told us she just got divorced after over 20 years of marriage. Right now I can think of only one other couple we are close friends with that are on their first marriage and have been married longer than us. That is sad.

Something is broken in our society and I don’t know how to fix it. The only thing I can do is be a good example of marriage.

But sometimes I feel like my marital bliss is smacking the faces of those who failed.

Ha ha, I finished the marathon but you dropped out of the 5K. Is that how they view us??

It’s hard to get good marriage advice. It’s just as tough as getting good parenting advice. Sometimes I feel like people are giving me marriage advice similar to parenting advice…they tell me how to raise toddlers when I have teenagers. I am beyond those years now. I want something meatier than just make time for each other or communication is important. I’ve searched, but haven’t found. Good luck, you’re off the charts now. After 20 years, how do you take it to the next level??

My cousin wants to move into my house to be closer to her children. How can that be a bad thing?

But then the biggest blizzard ever recorded in over 100 years hit the weekend we were supposed to show my cousin our house…BLIZZARD EVELYN!!

Is this some sort of sign?? Did we invoke the wrath of Evelyn?? Is someone else supposed to buy our house?

Evelyn, I don’t care if I sell my house to a bunch of satanists as long as I sell my house!! Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit. But weren’t you when you dumped all of that snow on us?

Now if we get another snowstorm this weekend when we rescheduled the visit with my cousin, I am really going to start worrying.

Maybe the whole thing is a coincidence, but it all seems rather bizarre.

Or maybe I’m reading it all wrong.

Maybe it’s a sign that we should move to Florida.

Taking the best of the blizzard

DSC_0133 (2)

On Saturday, the mail didn’t come.

DSC_0086 (1)

After round one of the blizzard, my son’s car was almost covered with snow.

DSC_0121

After round two, the blizzard won. There were reports of the blizzard collapsing roofs.

DSC_0084

It took 4 hours to shovel out after the first round.

DSC_0108

We had to shovel out twice after that. Tonight my son is digging out his car.

DSC_0157

Climbing snow drifts is a good workout.

DSC_0149

This has been the 2nd biggest snowstorm ever recorded in our area. The biggest snowstorm recorded occurred back in the 1800’s, before anyone now living was even born.

This might be the biggest storm of my lifetime.

It is exciting to be a part of history.

Although, at this point, I just want winter to be over.

Blizzard blues

DSC_0013

It’s the third day of the blizzard now.

Yesterday it took my husband and son 4 hours to shovel out the driveway.

It is very likely that we are going to break the record of the biggest blizzard ever recorded in Wisconsin. This is the biggest snowstorm I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. By the time it is all said and done, we should have at least 3 ft of snow on the ground.

We have 30 mph sustained winds with gusts around 50 mph. It sounds like a freight train out there. Or maybe the roar of waves during a storm.

I awoke during the night to what sounded like distant sirens. I can’t even explain it. I don’t think I’ve heard it before, the howling wail.

I felt anxiety earlier in the day. Saturday is my long run day. I have a hard time with forced relaxation and sitting still. I finished my jigsaw puzzle, did a couple loads of laundry, and cleaned the kitchen.

Last night we received notification that there was an emergency code red. There is a tow ban, which means if you get stuck you won’t be getting out. We could get ticketed for going out. The roads are open for emergency only.

I had a hard time winding down to go to sleep because I felt the panic of being trapped surge within me. I was exhausted, but anxious and worried at the same time.

Isn’t it strange how anxiety works? I felt utterly exhausted, but had this useless nervous energy that wouldn’t let me relax and go to sleep. It would be great if I could write brilliant words or something along those lines. It is good for nothing, except running which I couldn’t do. The gym was closed.

I feel better with the morning light. Maybe it is good sometimes to try to relax, even if it is something I am not good at.

I’ve decided to take photos and document the biggest blizzard I will probably see in my lifetime. I will share the best with you after this storm is done.

Until then, I don’t want to hear anybody complain about how hot it is. I don’t want to see pictures of smiling people in shorts next to flowers.

I guess you could say I have the blizzard blues. Maybe I should write a song about it, I have enough time. School will probably be closed tomorrow. I doubt I will be able to get to work.

I might have enough time to dust off my summer clothes. Maybe I could crank the furnace to 80 and set up a beach towel on the carpet.

Or maybe I should cut down the snowy pine and call it Christmas.

I’m sick with spring fever. I’m going stir crazy.

Blizzard half time report

DSC_0084

It started yesterday.

It was mainly rain at first, heavy rain.

It puddled in pools in the parking lot.

Then there was the ping of ice on the windowpane.

I couldn’t stay warm.

We went to see Arabella perform in her high school play.

Claps of thunder rattled through the auditorium.

I wondered if the lights would go out from the tempest that raged outside as the drama unfolded on stage.

I left the school and entered into a swirling snow globe.

Cold ice pellets slid down my back through the gap the wind found in my coat.

The snow obstructed my view making it hard to find the path back home.

I awoke this morning to the mighty roar of the north wind.

I won’t make it to the gym today.

Wisconsin is closed for the weekend.

Overnight and into the day, 17 inches of snow came our way.

We are half way done now.

We are bracing for round two.

We are expecting 2 to 3 feet before this storm is through…

How is spring going for you??

Would you rather?

Would you rather…be hurt or watch someone you love get hurt?

I’ve been overthinking again.

Maybe the dreary weather has been making me all dreary inside.

It was my childhood.

I feel alone.

If I said I grew up with an alcoholic parent, many of you could relate. But my parents rarely drank. It wasn’t that.

How could you understand?

My autistic/schizophrenic brother Matt hurt me again and again. He threatened me with a knife. He kicked, clawed, bit, hit, scratched, pulled my hair, and punched me on a regular basis without consequences.

My dad was either depressed, angry, or apathetic. He neither hit nor hugged me, but he tore me apart with his words.

My mother was more concerned about Matt than anyone else. If a person needed to pull Matt off of someone he was hurting, she was more concerned that their hands would grab onto him too tightly.

I lost my best friend from high school because Matt hurt her. I was the maid of honor in her wedding, but she wasn’t invited to mine. My mom said, “Oh well, you were going in different directions anyway.” But I didn’t have a choice in the matter.

I always defended my mother and her actions. I can’t seem to see that she did anything wrong.

I always demonized my dad. He never did anything right.

My parents fought a lot. Luke and I sided with my mom. Mark sided with my dad.

There must’ve been some coping mechanism in place to view someone as all bad or all good. Any thoughts to the contrary are declined. I can’t seem to break through it.

When Matt grew up, he threatened to hurt or kill our children at some time or another. Did I expect things to be any different?

How could I feel angry at Matt when he is severely mentally ill? His mind thinks like that of a young child forever.

So I walk this journey of healing alone, or so I think.

I was thinking about it this morning. My brothers Mark and Luke lived through this hell with me. I always thought I had it the hardest because not only was I expected to be a caregiver, I was at the receiving end of most of Matt’s attacks.

But then I thought about something else…

Is it easier to be hurt or is it easier to watch someone you love being hurt and not be able to do anything about it??

I know, I am starting to sound like the horrible ‘Would you Rather?’ game that my daughter has. Would you rather stab yourself in the eye with a needle or nail your hand to the table??

I would rather not be hurt at all. But, I would rather be hurt than to watch a loved one suffer and be powerless to do anything about it.

I recently came to the realization that my younger brothers are victims in this as much as I am. The sound of me crying is etched in their minds. They are haunted by the same demons.

It was my brother Luke’s birthday this week. I wished him a happy birthday and this is how he replied…when we have time, I would like to talk more in depth about when we grew up if you would be open to that.

We never really talked about it, our childhood, in depth.

He wanted to know if I would be open to talking…

YES!

I am not alone, my brothers were there right with me.

 

Wine versus exercise in the long run…

Most of you know me as a thoughtful, serious, worried, borderline depressed individual that has had a difficult past. You would be correct. But I’d like to think I have a sense of humor that balances everything out.

It is the weather, people. Yesterday I ventured out and several random strangers stopped me and asked me when spring is coming. Did they think that I know?? I haven’t had any birds trying to nest in my blonde straw like hair yet, so it might be awhile. I didn’t mention my bad grade in the 8 AM college meteorology class though.

I just looked at the weather forecast for this weekend. We are expecting another foot of snow/ice. I’m going to jump off of a cliff. I had to say that out loud and my cliff diving son gave me suggestions of where to go.

Anyway…I saw a funny plaque a few weeks back that I bought for the bar (remember I live in WI) in my new house. It read and I quote…

Exercise makes you look better naked. So does alcohol. Your choice.

Nice, huh? I was thinking of hanging it up next to my medal display. But, wouldn’t that be tacky??

I’ve seen some debate online lately about exercise and wine drinking for longevity.

A new study says that drinking wine is better for longevity than exercise. Of course I had to make a comment…We’ll see who lives longer. Wait! How will you know I am right?

I didn’t bother reading the stupid article. But my question is this…Where do you draw the line??

How much exercise? How much wine??

Last month I went to a party and my best friend asked a doctor friend if running a marathon was healthy. She said that the jury was still out on that one. Talk about safe answer! As most of you know, I signed up for my 4th marathon. I said I would quit after the first one.

Wait! Does that sound like a problem??

How much wine? A glass a day…a bottle a day?? I know people that do both. Again, where is the line?

I have friends that run marathons and are alcoholics. Will they live forever??

Sometimes I wonder if I should say something about their drinking. Now maybe I should say something about their running too. Honey, the exercise is going to kill you long before the drinking ever will.

I think that most people my age (40’s) truly know almost everything there is to know about themselves. They have had enough time to contemplate their lives. At this stage in the game, I am well aware of my strengths and weaknesses. Most of my friends are probably aware that they drink (or exercise) too much. Is it my place to remind them of that every time I see them? What a buzz kill I would be at the post marathon party.

One of my biggest weaknesses (and strengths) is my critical eye. I love to solve problems. I want to fix things that are broken, i.e. people. I want to be in control over the domain beyond my person. I have a natural tendency to nag, complain, and nit pick. I have no problem providing that service to the people closest to me in my life. But most of the time I find myself biting my tongue. Who am I to play God??

Think about it, you probably don’t need me telling you what you suck at. You probably already know.

I know that some of you think I am crazy for running hours at a time. But running actually makes me feel less crazy.. If you’ve never run a marathon, I don’t think I could explain it to you. If you have, you know. Sometimes physical pain provides a release for emotional pain. It clears the troubled mind.

I have nothing against drinking in moderation (because that is what I do). But I don’t exercise in moderation. I’m even thinking of doing an ultra race which is longer than a marathon.

Is that healthy? Or is it a problem??

We’ll see who lives longer.

 

 

Sprinter

Judging by the title, you might be tempted to think this post is about running. But I hate sprinting almost as much as I hate this sprinter.

I’ve heard this spring is referred to now as sprinter because winter has been hanging around too long at the end.

Last week we got over a foot of snow. We had one massive snowfall and very brief periods of heavy snow on a couple of other days. It’s been so cold and windy that I was tempted to cut down a Christmas tree for Easter.

I heard we broke a record for snowfall amounts in April. We also broke a couple of records older than me for record low high temps. On some days our high temperatures should’ve been our low temps for this time of year. So far we are expecting a 6 inch winter mix this next weekend. Seriously, we already broke the sprinter record. Why not call it quits? The only med(t)al you are going to get will be from the back of my shovel.

My car got stuck in the driveway at work. The snow was up to the bottom of my car. There was no way I was going to be able to drive through it. My husband said that my car was not made for Wisconsin winters. I agreed. I think I need a car for every season. I could have a 4WD Jeep for winter. In the summer, I would have a convertible. In the fall, I would buy an old VW robin egg blue hippie van for road tripping. I picture myself wearing vintage 60’s clothing as I am checking out the fall colors on Route 66…My husband said that probably won’t be happening anytime soon..Oh well.

The weather has brought about other repercussions. Our kids ran out of allotted snow days at school. Now they have to go to school 10 minutes earlier for the rest of the school year. It was that or have a week off for summer break. We’d also have to hope the week they had off was actually summer like. Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit…but I do remember a time where we had 6 inches of snow in the middle of May.

I spent sleepless nights wondering if the school bus would be 10 minutes early. Would my daughter roll out of bed right as the bus showed up? How will I get them out of bed earlier? I think my son was late for school today. He is always late. I told him last week that he would probably be late for his own funeral. Personally, I don’t care when he dies as long as he has given me many opportunities to roll over in my grave before he joins me at the pearly gates.

On days that school is off, my autistic brother Matt does not go to his workshop for the disabled. Apparently, however, he got picked up from his group home and was dropped off at the workshop. All of the doors were locked and he was left out all alone in the cold blustery snow. He wandered around for awhile outside in the cold until he found a business that was open. He went inside and told the lady at the front desk that he needed help.

Thankfully, he ended up being okay. It could’ve turned out worse. He could’ve froze to death out in the cutting cold north wind and blowing snow. I felt angry at the incompetence of my brother’s caregivers. What a bunch of idiots.

How can you feel good about dropping off a disabled person at a place where there aren’t any cars and the lights are all out during a snowstorm?? I’ll dump this guy off in the snow bank and be home in time to watch Family Feud. My brother doesn’t have a cell phone and has a hard time communicating with the people he knows.

Maybe something good will come out of it. Maybe the drivers will be required to make sure their disabled passengers get inside wherever they are going.

This past weekend I helped my uncle transplant at his greenhouse. I wasn’t allowed to touch the plants because I have been known to kill them. Instead I stuck labels in front of the plants like a tombstone in the cold dirt. The flowers smelled so nice and the greenhouse was so warm and sunny, like summer. I didn’t even mind all of the sneezing! For a few brief moments, I almost felt happy.

I hope this sprinter will morph into a full on marathon of summer.

Soon, I hope! I can’t keep going at this pace much longer..

Old friends

Paul and I stayed out late last night.

This may sound weird, but Paul and I have several really good friends that are in their 80’s. It is scary, really, becoming close friends with people of that age. I wonder why they like us so?? Are we but little birds that they have taken under their wings?

Sometimes people just seem to come into your life for no reason.

We started becoming close friends with Vince a couple of months back. We jokingly called him the mafia guy. He has a lot of connections. He seems like a guy you wouldn’t want to mess with. He can be upfront and intimidating, but has earned a lot of respect. Mainly, though, he is entertaining and people like him. When his wife passed away last year, I’ve never seen more people attend a funeral.

Vince lovingly took care of his wife (who was wheelchair bound since we met them several years back) without complaint. After she passed away, I wrote a letter to Vince saying that they were the perfect role model of how a marriage should be. I didn’t really know much about his life at the time.

I think most old people have their life together, and most of them do at their age. But I have this stereotype that they have always had their lives together. After we started to get to know Vince, I realized that I didn’t want a marriage like his. It was awful.

Maybe everyone’s life is majorly messed up but they keep it hidden away. Everything looks perfect on the outside.

Am I the only one that struggles with my teenagers? Am I the only one that is depressed when I have so many things to be joyful about?

We can’t show the world that we are hurting. We also feel like we can’t share our joys because other people are without. So we hide behind this mask of normalcy.

I am okay. How are you?

I think the truth is that only a few people will open up that door for you to see what is really going on inside. Then you can really see all of the colors in bright hue.

I hate small talk, but hardly share with people the real me. (Except, apparently, with all of you)!! It seems easier somehow to write about it. I don’t know why. Maybe because I have control over what I tell you. I never shared my full story with anyone except my husband. But here I am. My life is an open book. But if you knew me in real life, no offense, I probably wouldn’t talk to you about any of this.

How are you? I’m fine. Not much is going on…nothing new. I wish I could tell you..

We also have plans later this month to get together with Harv and his wife. They, like Vince, are in their mid-80’s. Last year Harv was having some health problems and sold his sailboat. He ended up finding out that his health issues were related to a reaction from a medication he was taking. He is in good health now, but his boat is gone.

Perhaps it is strange that we have more plans this month with our elderly friends versus friends our own age. What is the attraction?? They are real people. They are ready to talk about their lives. There is so much knowledge to learn from them.

But why do they like us??

Why should age matter?

Does it matter in a friendship??

The hardest part for me is that it is going to hurt so much when we lose them.

ACT 2

My mother always said if you have an easy baby, you will have a difficult teenager and vice versa.

My firstborn, Angel, was a happy baby. She was easily excited, bubbly, and laughed often. When she was happy, things were great. When she was crabby, something was wrong…like an ear infection. She has a positive, bubbly, happy personality except when she is really stressed out. Then watch out. As a teenager, she was rather mouthy at times. But she got good grades and made good decisions. She stayed fairly consistent throughout the years.

My youngest, Arabella, was a difficult baby. She cried constantly day and night. But so far she seems to be the easiest teenager to raise. She gets good grades, stays out of trouble, and is easy going.

If I only had Angel and Arabella, I could probably write a bestselling parenting book that would wow you with my tips on how I’ve got everything together.

Then comes Alex. At this point, you are probably sick of hearing about my vaping, flunking, cliff diving, race car driving, hell raiser of a son. I’ll tell you this, he was my easiest baby. If I could describe his infancy in one word, it would be content. He rarely fussed and kept a routine that I could set a clock to. He was a big time mama’s boy.

In middle school everything changed. He started hanging with a bad crowd. His grades started to slip. We gave him consequences for his behavior such as grounding him from his friends or his Xbox. That did not give us the change of behavior that we were hoping for. He seemed more rebellious and at times despondent.

In the evenings, Paul would sit down with Alex to help him with assignments. It reminded me of when my mom helped Mark with his homework. It usually ended in an argument. One day Alex was complaining to a girl via text about how mean his dad was. The next day my son showed up to school with bruises. The girl told the counselor about Alex’s mean dad who called child protective services.

It was all a misunderstanding really. At the time, my son was in wrestling. Over the weekend he had a brutal tournament that left him bruised on his body and face. The girl incorrectly thought that because Alex said his dad was mean (for making him do his homework) that my husband beat him. CPS came to the school and took pictures of my son. They came to our house to talk to us. They interviewed our other children. Then we showed them the before, during, and after pictures from the wrestling tournament. It all ended there.

It was a horrible experience. Strangers were coming into our home judging us. I felt embarrassed because we are acquaintances with the school counselor, other CPS workers, and the girl attended our church with her parents. I was angry for awhile with the girl. But Paul said he didn’t feel angry because she did the right thing if she thought Alex was being abused.

I felt angry because Paul was wrongfully accused. He is one of the best dads I’ve ever seen. All this from a man that never had a father. He has a lot of self doubt at times. Was I too hard on the kids?? Was I too lenient?? Maybe I should’ve tried something else…Maybe if I knew that kid was bad news earlier…Maybe, maybe, maybe..

It is easy to blame yourself as a parent if your kids don’t turn out the way that you want them to. It is hard to escape the criticism if you’re the one that has the baby that always cries…If it is your kid that is doing drugs, while your friend’s kids are getting straight A’s. Maybe your son is suicidal or your daughter has an eating disorder. Or maybe you have a violent autistic son…like my mother, who was ostracized and blamed by her peers.

When you’ve done everything that you could, even when everyone around you condemns you for something you have little control over…it’s really not your fault.

Paul and I feel like we did the best job that we could. We tried to give our kids the childhood that we wanted but never had. Then we commiserate that our kids don’t have the grit that we earned from struggling. The messed up situations in our lives that gave us strength we kept away from them. It seems like a paradox really…everything should’ve been perfect. It was good in many ways, but never perfect.

As we near the end of this active parenting gig, we feel we did the best that we could. We talk to our kids about what is happening in their lives, the good and the bad. At the end of the day, we tell our kids we love them and they tell us they love us back. That should count for something…

We may not be the perfect parents, but if you are…please do enlighten us with your bestselling parenting book…somehow in the shuffle of raising 3 teenagers we seemed to have misplaced our instruction manual!

 

ACT 1

Last week my son got his ACT score in the mail. He got an average score. Although my husband and son were satisfied, I was disappointed. I know he has the capability to do so much better.

I worry about him being able to get into a good college. He got 3 F’s on his report card this quarter, one of them being in band. He wants to go to school for music, that should be an easy A. But he skipped out of some pep band performances which brought down his grade.

In his defense, it seems like band and choir require so much more after school participation than I ever remember. The students are required to be at school in the evenings several nights a week for several months. I think it is a big commitment for a 1 credit class. I probably could’ve sent him with a note excusing his absence, but if he could be there…why would I do that?

Anyway, my son thinks that he can get into college once they hear him play. Maybe, maybe not. He is a very talented musician, I’ll give him that. We have been preaching at him about his grades for years. I’m getting sick of nagging him.

What I really have been concerned about lately is not just being able to get into college, but staying in college. He needs to get through the awful prerequisite classes that have nothing to do with what he wants to do. Without college (and even with), it is going to be hard to get anywhere with a career in music.

My son reminds me of my brother Mark.

Mark is a mechanical/building genius. In middle school, he designed blueprints for a water bed. He built the bed out of wood with his design. He created many things, but that was the most impressive for his age.

Mark struggled with school. Every night my mother would sit down with him and try to help him with his assignments. It often ended with a fight. Mark is very smart, but wasn’t good at school. He had problems reading. Later we found out that he struggled with dyslexia.

As expected of him, Mark went off to college for mechanical engineering and failed miserably. He dropped out by the end of his first semester.

Mark is now employed as a machinist. He is a hard worker and loves his work. Right after high school, he bought a lathe machine so he could work after work out of his garage. He learned everything about machines. Not only does he know how to operate them, he knows how to program, troubleshoot, and fix machines.

Mark has an eye for detail. He painstakingly makes sure things are done right. He was the main visionary for a big remodeling project up north on the cabin that has been in the family since the 1950’s. He created a blueprint to build his own house. He is a mechanical genius, but just wasn’t cut out for college. That’s okay, it wasn’t for him.

Sometimes I wonder if we are taking a square peg and trying to make it fit into a round hole.

But how can someone be marketable as a musician without an education??

Maybe he could work in a music store selling instruments. Or he could learn how to fix instruments. Would he be happy doing that and being a small town musician in the evening?

It is really up to him now. We have given him all the tools for success. We’ll see what kind of life he can build out of it.