Friday, July 17, 2015

Two Weeks

Yikes, has it really been two weeks since I wrote last?  That makes me feel bad, like I've lost stuff in between.  Lots of adventures in that time, but the high points are:

I ate some (okay, one) crickets.

I cooked a lasagna roll (yum).
no crickets

Lily played her last (I think) Challenger game yesterday.  I like the idea.  I like the concept.  I admire and respect the people doing the work in the trenches.  But it's just not for Lily.  Baseball is something she tolerates watching.  It is not a thing for playing.  She is a reluctant participant, and if it hadn't been something that Leslie really pushed for...I'd probably have quit halfway through this year.  Her season this year I think solidified in my head that it's just not a good fit for her...or me.  We finished the season she started, just like we would have if Emma would have started some team activity, but she does not enjoy it.  And her lack of enjoyment stresses me out the entire time I'm there.  It's better for us both. 

the little tiny girl second from the left.

My washing machine broke.  I've fixed my dryer a few times, but never my washer.  I took it apart to see if I could figure out what was broken.  I started by pushing the washing machine away from the wall and disconnecting the plug.  Underneath the washer were dust bunnies, a wet sock, a broken zip tie, a round rubber thing, and three broken pieces of hard white plastic.  The round rubber thing and the hard white plastic thing are called "direct drive coupler".  BAM!  I ordered one.

The thing about washers and dryers...they come apart really easily if you know which screws to loosen.  Typically they're designed with a case that slides away to reveal the internals, but on the day that I decided to take it apart I was already behind the washer before I thought to look at the manual.  I scanned the shelves in the basement to see if it was there, but it wasn't.  I knew I would need to download it, and I didn't want to, so I just started taking screws out.  This was a mistake.

A week later the parts arrived and when I went to fix it, I couldn't really remember what all the screws and things were for.  I knew this was "bad" but there was nothing I could really do about it so I just fixed the washer, and put it back together.

There were some troubling things:  Three screws that had no homes.  One dangling green wire that might or might not belong in a terminal plug.  I plugged the washer back in when I'd finished.  Nothing worked.  I took it all apart and plugged the green wire into the terminal plug and put it back together again.  I plugged the washer back in and turned it on.  The washer spin cycle was fixed!  It spun faster and faster, but then started wobbling and bucking, but I figured I could address the balance after the fact.

Except that nothing else worked.  So I bought a new washer.  And because I was mad at both the washer and the dryer (by association) I bought a washer AND a dryer.  My mom and dad helped me with them yesterday.  They're magical.  The washer weighs the load to determine whether it thinks it's small/medium/large/heavy.  I just have to figure out where to put the drain so that I don't flood my basement every time I do laundry.  (again).  Anyway...magical.

There's this weird war going on inside me right now.  Responsible parent on one side, immature adult on the other.

In THIS corner:
I met with a financial planner about retirement, college and long term care stuff.  I needed to do it.  It's been something that Leslie and I always talked about doing, but never did.


I finished reading through my Will and my attorney is coming over next week to sign paper work.  It's something that Leslie and I always talked about doing, but never did.

These things are incredibly important.  Leslie was always my safety net, and I was hers.  We never had to worry about whether the kids' lives would be in order if one of us died because we had the other...but that safety net is gone, so I'm trying to get that stuff handled ASAP.

but in this corner:

I feel like Leslie's death might push me into the mid-life crisis I was never going to have when she was alive.  When she was alive, it was easy for me to push my own wants/desires/goals to the background, not because she stifled them (far from it, she always always encouraged me), but because I felt guilty spending money and time on me that I could be spending on US or HER or the kids.  And she wouldn't have been upset or angry, but...she was present, and that presence was enough to make me want to push ME into the background and focus on US.  I almost never went out with friends (maybe once or twice a year), I almost never spent money on me.  And I know that's a good thing for a husband and a father to do.  Focus on your marriage and your family.  But the sort of subtle check that Leslie's presence provided against "selfish spending" is gone.  And I find myself asking "Would you be doing this if Leslie was alive?"

I'm explaining this like shit.  One of the first things I bought after Leslie passed was a guitar.  I had always told Leslie that I wanted to learn to play.  And Emma had always wanted to learn.  And it was just this thing that wasn't important enough to actually execute.  But after she passed, I was on this kick where...I needed something positive to do now that this giant gulf had opened up in my life.  So much time was spent focusing on US that now that I'm not caring for her full time I just don't feel like spending "free time" with my sadness.  So I'm walking on a treadmill or playing a guitar or learning a new language or whatever...positive things that I've always wanted to do, but just couldn't find time for.

And I bought some new shirts and shorts (and some new clothes for the kids), because all the shirts in my closet were years old.  Les and I always talked about going out to buy clothes, but mostly we just bought at Christmas and birthdays because there was always something else to spend the money on.  Something important for the family or whatever.

And before Leslie passed we'd gotten a contractor friend to look at putting in a bannister in place of the half-walls we had on the stairs, and putting hardwood in the upstairs hall (since the cat was tearing up our carpet).  And when we went on vacation, I had him do the job Leslie had always wanted done.

And I know that clothes and a guitar and home improvement is a far cry from mid-life crisis...believe me, I do.  But I'm very aware/concerned that if the money is there...I'll spend it.  And that presence isn't there to keep me in check.  So I just have to watch it.  Clothes and a guitar is great.  Clothes and a guitar is awesome.  As long as it doesn't turn into clothes and a guitar, an Xbox One and a new car.

And both of those things are calling to me.  I was thinking about trying to sell the minivan and my car and maybe getting a crossover.  I was thinking about buying that Xbox One that I always joked about wanting as a Christmas present but felt guilty about because it would blow the budgeted amount we allotted for each other (but I knew she'd buy me if I just told her that THAT is what I wanted).

I know those things aren't "bad".  I just wonder why I thought they were when Leslie was alive?  Why didn't I buy the guitar then?  Why didn't I buy the Xbox One then?  Why didn't we buy new clothes?  (We WERE pulling the trigger on the hardwood, she just didn't live to see it) Why didn't we enjoy more and worry less? 

I'm rambling.  This is just what's been going on in the back of my mind.  Leslie was always very fiscally conservative, and I feel like I've been buying so much since she passed.  The flooring, the washer and dryer, the clothes.

I've rambled enough...

Quick Leslie sidebar:

Emma told me that last night she woke up in the middle of the night (4:30) and thought it was 12 hours later than it was.  She looked at the clock and saw 4:30 and thought it was the evening.  And she was all brain-blind and struggled wrapping her head around the idea that she hadn't somehow slept through the entire day.  And slowly she told herself that it was 4:30 AM...and she was able to settle back down, and I told her, "You must get that from your mother."

Because Leslie would often wake up in the middle of the 2 in the morning and tell me we had to get going.  We were late.  Or she'd sit bolt upright, a look of panic on her face, staring at the ceiling and seeing spiders everywhere.  In both cases, her entire body would be tense and I would just have to say, "Go back to sleep Leslie, you're dreaming," and her entire body would deflate like a kiddie pool and she'd sink bonelessly back onto the pillow and fall immediately back into a deep sleep with no recollection the following day. 
So I told Emma she must have gotten that from her mother and I told her "Congratulations" and she rolled her eyes and said, "Yeah...awesome!"


  1. I've been a reader/follower of your blog for a while now, Jim. This post, for no particular reason I can pinpoint, really struck me. Like, thumping you in the chest and almost knocking you down, kind of striking. Thank you for sharing your life here and keep up the fantastic work.

  2. Maybe the buying isn't so much a mid life crisis type of thing as it is an avoidance/denial thing. One way I have coped with grief in my life was to try to keep myself busy so I would not think about it and one way I did that was buying stuff. It was a way to keep me distracted, sometimes the purchases were justifiable and other times they were splurges. Don't feel bad splurging a little bit, you work hard so I am sure you deserve it.

    1. There's some avoidance and compartmentalizing going on there for sure. The busier I am the less I notice she's gone. If I just keep know...24/7...this grieving thing is EASY.