Sunday, May 22, 2011
I know, Morticia, it sounds like I'm channeling your Addams family vibe, but it's true.
Some of you know from my earlier blogs (see "Passing down the memories," which is sad for me now that my son isn't speaking to me) that I spent part of my childhood growing up in a house museum, where my mom was the curator and we lived in the old servants' quarters. Actually, the first three places I lived were all Revolutionary War- or 1800-era houses where I lived as part of a caretaker's family--my parents' and later my own. It's a unique kind of existence, with the public taking guided tours of your home and you trying to mind your manners about it.
Answers for my friends who asked: I think this is where I got Special Thing #8 from--relishing my alone time! I also got, if not a sense of the importance of history, the sense that old houses have souls made up of all those who have lived there and imbued the house with a bit of themselves. There were parts of Gore Place and the Wright Tavern that were frightening, yet I've lived in other old houses that were somehow swept free of any negative vibes.
My son actually moved out to live with a friend, so he has cut himself off from his father, too. I'm very proud of him for this and do hold out hope that he'll get back in touch with me as he gains more perspective.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Whaddaya say, SparkPeople? Is this the Suzymobile2?
And maybe this is Special Me #17--I can be easily swayed into dropping everything on my to-do list in order to pursue a spur-of-the-moment major purchase! (Okay, okay, and maybe this is cheating on the "Special Me" challenge, but hey, I'm going to be too busy test-driving to blog.)
Oh-well update: Man didn't call back, so I'm deep into my to-do list instead of having fun. And why did I just spend 3 hours cleaning the bathroom when the Rapture is in a little less than 3 hours?
Friday, May 20, 2011
Okay, I know this one might not be THAT special, but it could be genetic. The other day I was chatting with a music author who has lately become quite interested in brain research on how people respond to music. You know, how some songs give you chills, others without fail make you cry, some inspire you to greater workout achievements or a transcendent run, some evoke an entire time of your life, down to the intangible emotional "feel" of that time? And the same songs, of course, don't have the same effects on different people. I experience all of this. If I need to have a good cry, I just put on "Lament" from the Riverdance CD or "Lullaby" from BeauSoleil. If I were an actress being required to turn on the waterworks for a sad scene, that's all it would take. Some might envision their little dog being killed; I'd listen to the right music.
Turns out that my author's wife experiences none of this. Not only is she tone deaf, she's emotionally numb to the effects of music. (How peculiar and ironic for a music professor's wife.) This, to me, is like being born with no sense of smell or taste. And I do believe it's genetic, like so many other traits, because my parents were suckers for their favorite music.
How about you? Does music tug at your heartstrings?
Thursday, May 19, 2011
I may get "down," be in tears, or feel desperate sometimes, but never for long. No matter how dark things seem, before I know it I'm bouncing back--seemingly out of the blue. This amazes me. Sometimes I sit there thinking, "Okay, where's the bounceback? I could use it now!" And eventually it always comes.
If you were to ask where resilience comes from, some scientists claim it's from your upbringing. Even those who have had a dismal childhood, with lousy parents, can, if they find the right role model in a neighbor, teacher, or relative, emerge resilient.
I was lucky enough to have an idyllic childhood, almost too free of want or worry, and I could have been terribly spoiled. Although they were a bit self-absorbed, my parents were successful, handsome, never out of work, and never fighting. I had no siblings to share their attentions. We weren't rich, but we weren't poor either. Though my parents didn't own any property when I was growing up, we lived in beautiful historic houses filled with antiques from their dealership and oil paintings that both of them created. We took regular vacations, and I had all the books I could read.
And now, of course, I've got Bill, whose presence really makes life happier and boosts my reslience, even in the rough times. And he's resilient, too!
Plus, look at that, the sun just came out after a week of rain! How symbolic!
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
When you start to look at life like John Irving does (think "The World According to Garp" or "The Hotel New Hampshire"), and when your life starts looking back at you in that same way, then you know you're finding humor in the worst possible situations. Stuff like: Plane crashes in the ocean, family goes down, someone survives by floating atop the stuffed family dog. That's what I'm talkin' about. Cue laugh track.
Four months ago, my ex was court-ordered to put the family home of the past thirty-plus years on the market and to find another place for himself, my two adult children who live with him, and a 140-pound dog the size of a small horse. Much pain, hysterical shrieking, and payment of attorney retainers preceded and followed this decree. My son stopped talking to me entirely. There was a suicide attempt (faked, and solely for effect, but never mind). I had to endure two stressful legal appearances, a demand for every conceivable document from the last 7 years of my life, and threats of equity court, alimony, prison, and deposition under oath.
In retrospect, I see in this all the elements of a screwball comedy. We are in court, before the judge, who is ordering, very matter-of-factly, that the house be sold and the proceeds split. The ex's response is to turn to his attorney and inquire, audibly, "Can we bring criminal charges now?"
An even more bizarre series of events ensues, involving the actual sale process. (a) I haven't been allowed in the house in years. (b) My ex doesn't answer his phone or open his mail, which makes showings and meetings with the realtor awkward, to say the least. (c) When the realtor finally manages to gain entry, by screwing up his courage and knocking on the door, he discovers a real estate nightmare worse than "Hoarders" or "Gray Gardens." His little "Tips for a Successful Sale" handout about having soft music playing, flowers in vases, and clean countertops for showings is a joke. One basement door is padlocked, and one can only guess what's behind it. The dog/horse (which has, by the way, bitten the ex's attorney and holds all visitors to the home at bay) has had the run of the house because ex has stated that it's "too dangerous" to walk it outdoors, and has used the house liberally for its massive elimination needs. The place smells, and anyone who goes inside comes back out feeling itchy. (d) Realtor determines that the only way to list this hell-hole suitable only for teardown is to have the court order the ex to begin by filling a dumpster with the "clutter."
A date is set for said dumpster to be obtained and filled. That date passes. Realtor, me, and two attorneys, all jumping up and down at once, cannot compel ex to get the thing and start filling it. His attorney finally obtains a dumpster FOR him. He proceeds to fill it at his leisure, claiming a sprained wrist and bad back. Realtor reports to me, weeks later, that ex isn't loading the dumpster right. Tables are being tossed in topside up, with huge spaces underneath; hunks of ripped-out carpeting are being thrown in higgledy-piggledy. The basement door remains padlocked. Ex tells realtor that he has plans to fix the house's electrical system and roof--which should be quite useful activities, given that it's a teardown. I remind realtor that I don't even try to communicate with this lunatic any longer and that he should contact his lawyer instead.
The house is never listed on MLS, because it simply can't be. But somehow an angel of a developer makes an amazing offer on the house, no strings attached except that everyone has to move out and clear it out as much as possible. This is wonderful!
I find out that it isn't a short sale, as I'd feared, because some secondary liens aren't really liens on the property because of screwed-up paperwork years ago. This, too, is wonderful!
What does the ex do? Of course, he signs the purchase and sale, then goes berserk and announces that he's going to march to the bank (on a Sunday) and force them to "make" it a short sale despite everything. My son wisely decides that he has had enough insanity, gets the hell out of there, and goes to live with a friend. My ex fakes a suicide attempt with, it turns out, a replica flintlock that shoots only wax wads and leaves a dent in the floor. (If he were trying to shoot his head off, wouldn't there be a dent in the ceiling, I wonder? Well, never mind.) My son and I call the police when we learn of this. The street is blocked off, helicopters circle the neighborhood, hordes of police cars arrive, flashing and wailing. The ex is hauled off to a mental hospital for a week. My daughter is home alone with dog-too-dangerous-to-walk and a refrigerator that doesn't work except for its freezer. She gamely claims that she's okay as long as she has some frozen dinners and fresh fruit.
The realtor's expected lifespan is now reduced by about ten years because the ex hasn't found a place to live yet, his lawyer is incommunicado, and the angel of a buyer--an impatient man, we're told--wants to have the closing sooner.
Ex arrives back home from loony bin and somehow finds an apartment. (This place actually allows 140-pound horses inside??) Daughter is thrilled with it and no longer wants to leave and go live in her own place. I am not allowed to know the address, because I'll no doubt have my minions casing the joint and planting listening devices.
The closing date is in a week, we're signing all kinds of papers, and there's no sign of moving vans, storage pods, or even a signed lease for the new apartment.
Cue laugh track!
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