Back from the dead… kind of…

No, this post is not about zombies. It’s about me and my general outlook on the world of late, which is, in a word, dreadful. I feel like I am moving through my days only half-present, at best, and more often than not I am delirious with general exhaustion, fatigue, and an indescribable need to devour brains.

Ok, so maybe this is about zombies.

(No. Not really.)

In the last 4 months I have accomplished an insane amount of stuff from the Stressful Life Things list. And, zombie-like days aside, I have managed to live the tale and even come up for air for a minute, although do not expect this Writing About Life And Feelings And Stuff to be a thrice-weekly occurrence; you will be sorely disappointed.

October2014_feistyharrietIn no particular order, the main bullets of my life, since July:

1. Painted half of the rooms–and ceilings–in my apartment, transforming an increasingly bilious yellow-brown-gray box into a soothing gray with white ceilings (bedroom, hallway, bathroom) and pale grayish-greenish-blue with white ceilings (dining room). I added new art and gallery walls, made a headboard–my first in over a decade–and DIY’d the crap out of some light fixtures. I took before and during and after shots, with the best of intentions, all of which are still sitting there happily on my SD card.

2. Been offered and accepted a promotion at work which comes with a nice little raise and an enormous change in duties and responsibilities. Without getting too personal, I am now a Program Manager and am loving the freedom, thinking, and creativity that comes from creating a program from scratch and implementing it on a state-wide level. This is something I have been actively working towards for over 18 months, and I am beyond thrilled and also generally overwhelmed with my new position. It took about 8 weeks to hire my replacement, and another month to get her trained up to a point where I can attack my own To Do lists. I have worked a LOT of 12 and 13 and 14 hours days in the last few months trying to stay on top of everything.

3. As part of my job(s) I both planned and executed a professional development conference for 600 people, and 10 days later ran a 2-day training for another 175 people on a completely difference program.

4. For the 9th year in a row I have coached a competitive high school Shakespeare team (yes, it’s a thing) and costumed about 50 teenagers so they looked like the childhood pub pals of King Henry V, among other characters.

5. I have visited Phoenix (family) and Denver (fun) and Chicago (family/fun) and have hundreds of pictures to sort through.

6. I have decided on and started my application for a Master’s program, that I will begin next fall at the University.

7. Lastly, and this is definitely the biggest change of late, Blue Eyes has accepted a new position over 700 miles away and for the last month we have been–again–doing the long distance relationship thing. At this point we will be in a commuter marriage for about 3 years, until I finish my Master’s program. I am, generally, a weepy mess about this development, but I try and put on a good face and go to work and talk on the phone and answer (work) emails, because I do not have the luxury of running away from the rest of my life while I process what this enormous change will mean for me, for him, and for us.

In the meantime, I have responded to practically zero emails, voice-mails, and a half-dozen (or more) requests for help, or company, or whatever. And, to be honest, I don’t really feel all that terrible about it. I’ve been hunkered down trying to remember how to breathe, with various success rates, depending on the day. Yes, I’m talking to a therapist. Yes, I’m taking medication.  Yes, I am “making time” for myself. Yes, I’m in a state of general denial. Yes, I know I won’t be in this place forever, but most of the time it feels that way right now, and my therapist says that’s pretty normal.

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Grapefruit and eye patches

The latest text conversation between my love and I about my woes with delicious-but-dangerous grapefruit and his constant willingness to put up with my particular brand of crazy.

Me: I just squirted grapefruit juice in my eye

Him: Going to amputate?

Me: Yes. Can you pick me up an eye patch on the way home? A cute one, please, that will go nicely with a variety of outfits and not clash with my hair

Him: Smiley face on it?

Me: I’m not 12!! Maybe you could find one with One Direction on it though…

Him: Certainly

I sure do love that Blue Eyed sweetheart of mine.

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In which my sweetheart finally moves home!!

If we are Real Life friends you probably already know the top level details of this post, but I want to put the timeline and my feelings in one place.

Three years ago when I started dating Blue Eyes he was just starting a new work project, a project that took him 300-400 miles away, to the middle of No Man’s Land, he would work there during the week and come back on the weekends. For our budding relationship this seemed kind of perfect, actually. Nothing could move too fast, I had no guilt or hangups of not hanging out with him during the week which was already packed with classes and homework and friends. Besides, he told me, this project was only 9-11 months in No Man’s Land. In my mind that meant that if we were still dating in 9-11 months it would be a good time to take our relationship to “the next level” (whatever that meant), and if we weren’t still dating then it wouldn’t matter anyway.

Ha. Hahahahaha!

Nine to eleven months, huh. Wrongity wrong wrong.

In 9-11 months we had dated, fallen in love, got engaged, and picked a wedding date. The project was not even close to halfway over.

In the last three years Blue Eyes has put over 150,000 miles on his work truck driving back and forth from No Man’s Land.

Two weeks ago his project was reaching it’s final stages and I was very much looking forward to seeing him every day (for our entire marriage and most of our dating we never saw each other for more than a few days at a time, and except for a couple of vacations never for more than 5 days in a row. Neither of us really knew what would come next, but for a little while, at least, he would be home. We would finally be together. It could have been a few weeks, or a few months; we both knew his line of business would most likely lead him to another project in the middle of nowhere, but for a little while we could pretend we had a normal life.

And then, the most amazing week happened, first after New Year’s. While finishing up in No Man’s Land Blue Eyes got the call from his boss giving him his next project assignment, for an enormous-to-his-industry project that is 15 minutes from our apartment. He was scheduled to start the next Monday.


He will be here for almost two years.

That same week Blue Eyes finished up the never-ending project in No Man’s Land, and moved home. We celebrated, we laughed, we cried, we held each other. And on Sunday afternoon instead of packing a bag and driving the 4-6 hours to his office, he and I snuggled and had dinner together, we fell asleep with our legs all entangled, and Monday morning we woke up together, did the one-mirror-one-sink do-si-do, and both went to work. And—get this you guys—that night? That night we did it all over again.

It’s been a week and I still kind of feel like it’s a fairy tale, like I’m just waiting for someone to pull the rug out from under me, for Blue Eyes to be sent far, far away again with crappy cell phone service, not enough internet for video chat, and long, long stretches of loneliness.

I don’t know how long it will take me to get used to having my sweetheart here with me, it will for sure take some adjusting. We are both so used to doing our own thing, it will take some tweaking to do more than our own thing just in the same room. We’ll figure it out, and I’m looking forward to figuring it out.

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A Merry Little Christmas

This is my 30th Christmas and in most ways it is very much like any other: gingerbread houses, decorating two Christmas trees, holiday music, baking, decorating, planning, shopping for, and wrapping gifts for loved ones, putting white twinkle lights in the window, Christmas concerts and parties with friends and family. I seem to be a lot more cry-y this year than ever before, and while there are a couple of big, legitimate reasons for that, it is still unsettling. Last weekend Blue Eyes and I went to a large Christmas concert spectacular in our city with a symphony and a choir and world-renowned headline opera singer. When she sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and I started sobbing. As in, uncontrollable tears streaming down my face, difficult to breathe kind of sobs. Since then, every single mention of this song—even just typing out the title—brings tears to my eyes all over again.

(Hi, I’m a wreck. How are you?)

This year has been really, really hard. Blue Eyes has been working out-of-town for about 49 of the 52 weeks in 2013 (and 2012) (and 2011), there have only been 2 or 3 times the entire year where I saw him for more than three days in a row. We’ve had some pretty intense family drama that has taken a lot of time, money, and emotional reserve to try to deal with; we didn’t have any of those things in spades going in, nor any real idea that it could get so bad. I don’t think I want to get in to it all right now, but when a seasoned judge with salt-and-pepper hair says “You know, I’ve been doing this for a long time and this is the most contentious case I have seen in years!” and instead of feeling surprise you feel validated…it is a pretty ugly mess, really…also, the fact that we ended up in court and/or with court officials to discuss and try to iron out these issues no less than FOUR TIMES this year should help frame that a bit. Anyway, so we’ve had long-distance marriage struggles, and family drama to a spectacular degree, and job stress and money worries and emotional upheaval and turmoil and medical issues on top of it all. 2013 has probably been the most difficult year of my life, I am only too happy to see it out the door.

But, before the New Year rolls around, there is the little thing called Christmas.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light. From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay, from now on,
our troubles will be miles away.

This seems like such an impossible dream right now: a light heart, troubles out of sight and miles away. My heart has been heavy for far too long and my troubles have been front and center, mucking about with my regular routine. A whole day without the stress of those two things seems…impossible. Unthinkable. Unimaginable. A lifetime of it is like trying to comprehend the Universe, or quantum mechanics. I just…I don’t have the ability to process that kind of future scenario, neither in my brain or my heart, despite desperately wishing that dream-life will come true. Thankfully, Blue Eyes will be home for the holidays, he’ll be here for almost 2 weeks and that will be the most I’ve seen of him in a row for, literally, years.

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

More than ever, I think, I cherish my friendships and support groups—my people—because they have taken such a strong stand beside me this year. My wonderful friends—the ones inside my computer and the ones inside my living room—have laughed with me, cried with me, raged on my behalf, kept me company and involved me in projects and purpose to keep me occupied with something healthier than more of my own wallowing. If I could give a gold star and a magical unicorn to each one I would; a Christmas card just doesn’t seem to suffice. More than any other time I can recall, I am hoping that my dear friends and loved ones also have a wonderful holiday; I am praying they have lighter hearts and fewer troubles.

Through the years we all will be together, if the Fates allow.
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

I truly hope that next year will be better, and the year after that will bring us more happiness to Blue Eyes and me. “Next year will be better!” is on constant repeat in my brain and my heart. I dream about his work responsibilities changing to be closer to home, I fantasize about having dinner with him every night, brushing our teeth together and crowding the mirror before snuggling into his shoulder to finish whatever chapter I started that day while he races motorcycles (or tractors, or go-carts, or whatever) on his iPad. Hell, I even am looking forward to cleaning the beard trimmings (that he seems incapable of noticing) out of the bathroom sink on a daily basis!

Yes, next year will be better. I don’t think I’m running away from or trying to ignore The Ugly that has taken root in our lives, but as I have very little control over the outcomes all I can do is wait it out. Sure, I could probably figure out how to change my attitude so that The Ugly no longer bothers me, but it would most likely require illegal doses of mood enhancing and/or altering drugs, and I don’t think that is any better or healthier than hunkering down and waiting for spring. So, for now, I will listen to Judy Garland sing about having a Merry Little Christmas and bawl my eyes out–again–wishing with all my heart that things will be better soon.

For the record this post has taken 11 tissues to write, each soaked to a soggy mess.

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Music for “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” composed by Hugh Martin, lyrics by Ralph Blane; find the story behind “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” here (or there, rather).