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6.21.2007

Chances I'll Come Back Are 50/50

We're leaving in exactly one hour to go visit family this weekend.* I am exactly five hours behind schedule.

Today's Schedule (as it was written out last night)

7:00 - 8:00 : Write for Mamapop - do tomorrow's posts today!

8:00 - 9:00 : Clean entire house for Saturday's Open House!

9:00 - 10:00 : Shower. Take Savannah to school.

11:00 - 12:00 : Buy cat food, pick up pants from cleaners, buy bathing suit, buy lotion, buy gifts for nephews and some of those Trader Joe's Reduced Fat Cheese Puffs for the drive.

12:00 - 1:00 : Fold 4 loads of laundry.

1:00 - 2:00 : Write for Club Mom (at least 2 witty, yet heartfelt posts, so that I can relax on long drive).

2:00 - 2:30 : Pack

2:30 - 3:00 : Get car washed, get gas.

3:00 : Pick up Savannah and go!


Today's Schedule (as it is actually happening. Or not happening.)

8:00 - 8:20 : Wake up. Play Cat vs. My Finger under the sheet. Laugh. Thoroughly enjoy self.

8:20 : Shuffle into office with coffee and decide to check realtor.com "real quick".

10:00 : Race screaming from office. No time to shower. Wash face. Throw on Target shorts and expose leg hair from mid-May. Dig bra out of laundry.

10:05 : Encounter husband in laundry. Also trying to find underwear. Try to make a joke about how much more cozy underwear are after being napped on by cats.

10:10 : Run downstairs to make Savannah's lunch.

10:11 : Right. No groceries because we're leaving for 4 days.

10:12 : Scour refrigerator.

10:13 : Lecture Savannah on the starving kids in Africa who would love to have a cold hot dog. They wouldn't cry. They wouldn't ask for a bun either.

10:25 : Drop Savannah off at school with hot dog.

10:30 - 11:00 : Call friends on cell and chat while driving aimlessly around town. Manage to stop at Starbucks and Bagel Cafe.

11:00 - 12:30 : Write post for Club Mom. Feel smug. Spend 30 minutes surfing YouTube.

12:30 - 12:45 : Make dog do tricks for the rest of bagel.

12:46 : Feel regretful. Wasn't done with bagel after all.

12:47 : Get suitcase out to pack.

12:50 - 1:15 : Try on every pair of pants in closet.

1:15 : Am convinced dryer has super heating capabilities.

1:20 : Get out fat pants. Too tight.

1:21 : Try to feed fat pants to dog.

1:30 : Suddenly realize have only used the bathroom once today. Google kidney diseases.

2:00 : Feel terrified. Am dying. Intervention by Chris. Points out that I haven't had any water today. Oh. Right.

2:15 : Look at clock. Realize have less than 1 hour to write for Mamapop, buy cat food, pick up pants from cleaners, buy bathing suit, buy lotion, buy gifts for nephews and Trader Joe's Reduced Fat Cheese Puffs, pack, fold 4 loads of laundry, clean entire house, get car washed and shower.

2:16 : Panic. Am not going to be able to get everything done in time.

2:17 : Must go write about it on blog.

--

*If anyone, I mean anyone, wants to set my house on fire while I'm away, you have my permission. Please let the cats out first. They'll run fast if you clap. Thank you.

6.18.2007

Battered and Fried

Five minutes is all it would take for our lives to turn around. Chris would receive a phone call offering him the job and I would get a call from our realt*r with a full price offer. In that moment, living in this disintegrating neighborhood in this dying city would give way to packing our things and moving from the desert to the coast. From sweltering heat to ocean. From parched to satiated.

Everyone has a limit of what they can take. I met mine on Thursday.

I had just spent the day wrangling with Savannah at the doctor's office over her shots and the emotional trauma that caused her. Haggard from that experience we picked up sandwiches and headed home to have lunch together. Only, when I returned home there was a message from a realt*r requesting that he be able to walk through with his clients. While the message had been left two hours earlier, I looked at the clock as I listened to him say "one-thirty". It was 1:20.

The house was in the worst shape it has been since we listed four months ago - ironing out, dirty bathrooms, laundry in every room, dishes on the counter, dog hair - you name it, it was messy. We hadn't had anyone walk through in a week and had taken a much needed break from the cleaning. Honestly, we were rebelling.

I hung up the phone and cried "We have ten minutes! MOVE!" to Savannah who had just settled in with her deli lunch to nurse her wounds on the couch. At that precise moment the doorbell rang. It was the realt*r, ten minutes early, and his smiling clients. I implored them to return in ten minutes.

They kindly agreed and waited on the front sidewalk. In front of my house. So that I could see them from my windows.

I raced up and down the stairs, throwing things in cabinets, shoving things into piles, a scrub brush in one hand and a hand-vac in the other. And with every thing I moved to put away, I encountered another mess. Toys and crayons and paints and dolls and gym socks and papers and unmade beds swallowed me as I frantically spun in circles realizing that there was no way I could clean it in ten minutes.

The doorbell rang again.

I swung the front door opened and, obviously flustered with a shaky voice, asked that they come back in a half hour. They hesitated for a second and then said "no problem".

A half hour later Savannah and I flew out the door loaded down with stray coats and books that we hadn't had time to put away upstairs. I was sweaty and barefoot, Savannah was crying, and I was, for lack of a better word, D-O-N-E.

Once I started sobbing, I couldn't stop.

Now, despite what it looks like, I have kept a stiff upper lip about this whole scenario. I'm not so self-absorbed that I think my house not selling is the end of the world. I am well-aware that many people have real problems. I vent my frustrations here as a source of comfort and therapy, but not without realizing that things could be much worse. At the end of the day, I have a great family and friends and enough money to keep me in Starbucks, so it isn't all bad.

However.

As I drove around and around the block, berating myself for the house being messy in the middle of the day and for yelling at my feverish child, I couldn't help but become completely overwhelmed.

We have busted our asses for a year improving and maintaining and presenting this house like a freaking model home. And here comes this realt*r and his eager beaver clients waiting on my doorstep the one time the house is a disaster. The one day I haven't been vacuuming dog hair off the couches all day and polishing the fixtures to a gleam.

I couldn't tell them to re-schedule because it was the only showing we had had all week and every showing may be The One. In this ridiculous buyer's market, you cannot afford to tell anyone to go away. And they know it. Their realt*rs know it. So buyers show up early. Or late. Or not at all. They don't return your calls. They don't apologize. They don't offer explanations. Sometimes they even offer you full price and then disappear.

And they know you'll take it. You'll take it and take it and take it because you can't afford not to.

It was this knowledge, this feeling of utter helplessness, of being at someone else's mercy on their whim that just dismantled the last bit of tolerance I had in me. I called Chris and blubbered like a hyperventilating fool that "I...can't...do...this...any...moooooore!".

I really can't.

It's not that I'm so selfish or so spoiled that I cannot just try to be happy here. It's so much more than that - so many personal factors that I won't bore you with are at play. We know this is not where we belong. We knew it when we moved here. And we know that if we do not get out now, we may never be able to.

When I returned home, there was a message waiting from our realt*r that they didn't like our yard. Out of all the things not to like, our yard. All of my tears and sweat and effort and I never once thought to straighten up the backyard.

Four months today. Happy anniversary, real estate market. Did you get me anything? I could really use a buyer.

UPDATE: As I hit publish, Chris called. He got the job. One down, one to go. We are ecstatic.

6.12.2007

Unless It's Angelina Jolie or Matthew McConaughey - Then We Totally Get a Free Pass

First off, I have the best readers ever. The end.

Second, as I feared, the subject of this post has produced some fallout in my personal life and while I have much to say on this topic, I will be keeping my personal experience out of it. Not because I don't think my experience is mine to share, but because I realize that this is the internet and I cannot control who is reading what I write and further, I cannot control their reaction. It is more important to me that my blog does not affect my husband and my daughter's relationship with my in-laws than it is that I be able to purge here.

So. Having said that, this is what I think about cheating IN GENERAL.

I think men cheat because they stay in denial that these good physical feelings they're having about another woman are dangerous until it's too late. They give themselves too much credit to stop it before it goes too far.

I think women cheat because they feel neglected, either by themselves or their husband. With women, I think it is more of a conscious choice to cheat to feel better emotionally.

Someone commented in reference to a recent study that showed women are more likely to be forgiving of a physical affair and men are more likely to be forgiving of an emotional one. While, personally, a physical affair would devastate me more than an emotional one, I can see why this statistically may be the case.

Women recognize that men require constant stimulation. Men want to feel like men. And you know what? I am okay with that. When Chris and I were first dating, I would go cry in the bathroom if he looked twice at another woman. But, I've been in a relationship with this man for almost ten years now and in that time I have learned something shocking. Chris is his own person! Men are people too. And it doesn't mean he doesn't love me! Who knew?

We are all naturally drawn to beauty and there is nothing wrong with that. As long as it stays visual and superficial and natural. Once it crosses the line to flirting or constant porn or strip clubs or something that bleeds over into your marriage, that is when you have gone too far. That is when "a guy just being a guy" turns into "a guy just being a selfish ass".

As far as the claim that a man wanders because he's not getting enough attention at home, I say bullshit. A man wanders for the same reason a woman wanders: ego. You go from being young and in love with constant attention from your spouse to kids and diapers and m*rtgages and stretch marks and gray hairs.

When you are committed to each other - truly committed - these challenges enhance your marriage. When you're selfish, then it becomes all about "what has changed" and "how I'm not being treated". Couples get lazy - they get lazy in their love for each other. They start arguing more and more, apologizing less and less, and then when you introduce someone new! and exciting! into the picture, someone is going to go towards the pleasure. And away from the pain.

How many women do you know who have spent decades being a wife and a mother, possibly sacrificing education and career and body, just to be left in their 40's, 50's and 60's?

We want to believe it's possible. We want to believe that this is 2007 and we're strong confident women and we're all adults and no one should be off-limits to anyone else blah blah blah. Yet, you have to be realistic. Not everyone has the best intentions.

Can I tell you what her response was to me when I confronted her about her emails to my boyfriend? That she did nothing wrong and for me to get over it.

Get over it.


So, my answer is no. Except in rare instances, no, I do not believe men and women can be friends. Because marital happiness ebbs and flows. And it is just too easy to come off of an argument with your husband and into a pleasant email exchange with another man. It's too confusing to leave a wife at home who is maybe battling depression and then have a good time lunch with another woman.

And that's when the doubts set in. The what if's start. And I am sure that many a "harmless lunch" and a "simple email" has morphed into a broken heart and home.

The bottom line is respect. Respect for yourself to demand more from those around you. And respect for your marriage to demand more from yourself.

6.11.2007

Dear God, If Chris Gets This Job I Will Buy the World an Ice Cream

Chris is in an interview at this very moment.

An interview for a job which would allow us to make more money and move back to Orange County.

His boss was fired last week and his boss' boss gave Chris the opportunity to interview for a similar position (apparently, not his boss' actual position because Chris is still a young whippersnapper). If Chris gets this job, it will make our lives a whole lot easier. Even though it would mean he'll no longer work from home, it would mean more money. More money with which to lower the price of our house!

Most importantly, this job would give us hope. Hope that something good is on the horizon.

Since Chris is employed in the real estate industry, I am sure I do not need to tell you that business has been slow. Just last week Chris' biggest client shut down a branch and we fear that that may be an ominous sign. The way things are structured, Chris' income is tied closely to how the market is doing. Which, three years ago, was like Hello Coach bags! But, lately has been more like Hey, I found a nickel on the ground!

However, in this new job, it would ramp up the steady salary a bit, which would in turn help us 1) sell this house and 2) sleep at night.

So, the idea of obtaining this much more stable job in the industry and for a company he is already acquainted with and whose offices are on the coast...well, it's got his panties all in a bunch.

I knew he was nervous because when I came home this morning from my run getting a bagel, all the bathroom doors were closed with the fans on. Always an indicator of nerves around here.

I remember when we were first dating and working together at a bank and Chris had a huge interview for a Fortune 500 company. It was a dream job with all the perks and bonuses and a starting salary that almost doubled his current salary. I remember he called me on the way home breathless and exclaimed "I had to stop at gas station bathrooms all the way there, but I think I got the job!". You have to love that kind of perseverance..

I tried to act like this interview isn't a big deal as he was putting on his suit and tie. I didn't even say anything when I glanced at his resume as he was leaving and noticed that the only thing he left out was what he named his first dog. However, I couldn't resist just ever so nonchalantly suggesting he inquire if the company would like to buy our house.

Or at least put his family up in a corporate apartment on the beach with their Labrador retriever and two cats. You know, for the time being.

So, please keep your fingers crossed. I know he pissed you off in my last post, but to know him is to heart him. I promise.

*****

Apropos to nothing, I just read the best quote.

"The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the asshole" - George Carlin.

You guys, I think I just found my new tagline.

Grande-nonfat-iced-orange-latte-with-half-a-pump-of-chocolate-syrup-no-whip in the house! I'm out and I'm proud.

UPDATE: Chris felt like his interview went so well that he said "Let's just say that I'll be shocked if I don't get an offer". The superstitious little old Italian woman who lives inside me started hissing and throwing salt around. So, now we wait. We're pros at that!

6.07.2007

(SH)Email

I've had this post rolling around in my head for the past few days because I'm scared to actually write it. Not because I'm scared of you guys (who could be scared of you? look how cute you are), but because I fear that my husband will not be pleased with me bringing up this subject.

The problem is, it brings itself up.

It is in the back of my mind almost every day. So, I have no choice but to write about it. As Liz said - which I love so much because it is so simple and powerful - "you have to speak your truth". There it is.

I am talking about cheating. And what constitutes cheating.

Right at the outset, I need to say that I know two things for sure: 1) Chris worships the shaky ground I walk upon and 2) he would never knowingly hurt me.

However, he is a man. And, no offense to you men, but you're kind of dumb sometimes. I think most of you end up cheating without even knowing how it started.

My first real serious relationship was with a man named Matt.

Matt had a friend. This friend was tall and blond and married and flirtatious. Matt's friendship with her pre-dated me and when he and I started dating, she and I became friendly. She and her husband even threw Matt and I a party. I was never threatened by her because frankly, I'm more attractive. But, my intuition said that she was not a good influence on my boyfriend and I admit I was more than a little relieved when we moved 500 miles away from her.

But, they continued to email each other.

Years went by and I mostly forgot about her. Except when I would catch an email or two from her to my boyfriend. While mostly benign, the "cutesy" overtone never settled well with me. But, I trusted my boyfriend and was sick about confronting it, so I ignored it. (I know, right. ..The hell?)

Soon, I found out why that was a mistake.

Without getting too graphic, I'll tell you this: Their emails were heavy flirtation couched in harmless conversation. Use your imagination.

Upon discovering these emails, I was devastated. Devastated that this woman would so flagrantly flirt with my boyfriend ...for YEARS. Devastated that my boyfriend had convinced himself they were just friends.

Devastated that I let this email friendship continue for so long. Because in my heart I knew and I didn't do anything about it.

After much discussion, I do believe with all my heart that to Matt these email exchanges were just harmless fun. Unfortunately, that does not undo the damage to my heart or my pride. I see the rationalization that she lived on the other side of the state and the compliments and flirtatious banter were a nice stroke to the ego. I see the false security provided by the fact that their friendship never expanded beyond email.

I also see now that he was addicted to the attention.

Ever since this experience I have been hyper-sensitive to the idea of Chris having a personal relationship with a female. When we met, he had many women friends and while I tried to not be that girlfriend, eventually I was. He doesn't speak to any of them anymore.

I want to trust him, but I just can't.

I asked this question in the Sorority forum a few weeks ago to get a feel for the general consensus on the subject and I received so many emails and comments from women with completely opposing views.

And, I was shocked!

Some women, apparently, have no problem with their boyfriend or husband having a friendship with a woman in real life. (Like a real woman! With boobs and hair!). Others don't mind as long as the friendship stays confined to the computer. And still others said if he so much as breathes on another woman they'll take the pruning shears to his middle third.

So, I wonder what our reactions say about us? How much of our reaction is about how secure we are with ourselves as women?

What do you think? Is flirtatious email cheating?

Is it too much to ask that our husbands forsake friendships with the opposite sex?

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