Thursday evening
November 11, 1993

Just home from work (and a quick trip to my Dadís house). Ray and the kids are putting away several bags of groceries; Iíve just started my first load of laundry of the evening, and am sitting here now with a cup of instant coffee ...

... Hello, new journal!

Today was Veteranís Day so things were extraordinarily quiet in the office all day. I went to work expecting to get into trouble. I had to leave work yesterday before the UPS guy showed up (in order to make it to the bank and cash my paycheck before it closed), and there was a package that didnít get sent out as a result. An important package, naturally. I thought Randy would hit the ceiling when he found out, but he was OK and so was Bob. The package went out this afternoon, and allís well that ends well. I spent the day working on my autobio (Summer '72, John, Clarence), and clipping stuff for my Christmas book. The kids had the day off from school and I called them from time to time, just to make sure they werenít burning the house down. They cleaned my bedroom for me as a "surprise," and everyone seems to be in good spirits tonight. I just took a little codeine for cramps (my period started today), and Iím going to fix frozen pizza and salad for dinner. Should be a nice mellow evening.

Oops! Amend that: frozen pizza was voted down in favor of TV dinners, which are now cooking in the oven.

Worried about Kyle, a little. Heís very quiet this evening, and he has that glassy-eyed look they all get when theyíre about to get sick. He insists that he feels "OK," and his temperature is normal, but I donít know ... what will I do if heís sick tomorrow? I canít take the day off. I wouldnít worry about leaving Jamie home alone, or even Kacie if it were necessary, but Kyle? I hate the thought of him being here alone when heís sick. Maybe Thelma could come and watch him ... ?

Kyle is forever & always my "baby" and I suppose I will always worry about him. Even though heís the age now that Jamie was when we moved into this house (and I felt she was so "big" then) he still seems impossibly little and sweet to me. Will he always seem littler than the girls?

 

Friday evening
November 12, 1993

Brrr. Just home from work again, sitting in my ice-cold laundry room. My hands are so cold I can barely type. Winter is here, folks ...

 

Monday evening
November 15, 1993

Depressed. Some guy came into the office this afternoon looking for Bob - a guy who, apparently, went to Sunset & Glacier with Bob and I - and although I donít remember him at all, it was extremely obvious that he remembered ME and was disappointed by what he saw. "You look really different!" he said, and it was written all over his face. (Jesus, Terri V. got fat.) That was enough to send my spirits plummeting. That, and a long, cold drive home in the dark ...

Jamie got her cast off this afternoon (Ray took her to Dr. Kayís) and her arm is very sore tonight. Ray is barbecuing chicken; Iím going to make some au gratin potatoes and then take Kacie to her gymnastics class. Then Iím going to come home and eat a big fat dinner. What the hell.

Spent most of this day clipping Christmas articles and working on the holiday book. I wonder what kind of Christmas 1993 will be?

 

Friday morning
November 19, 1993

Getting ready for work at a somewhat more leisurely pace than usual ... I can pretty much go in anytime I want to this morning. Bob and his folks are in L.A. for the next few days and things are slooooowwwww ...

I do want to go in, though. Our new office supply place (Tague Stationery) is dropping off a big order sometime today, and Iíve got a few personal things included in the order: some blank tapes and a small desk lamp, which Iíll use both at work and at home. I would also like to finish our Christmas newsletter and start some coloring book/Christmas cards for Kyle to give the kids in his class. In another week or so our new bookkeeper (Maureen: I havenít met her yet) will be coming in for 20 hrs. a week, so I wonít have as much "alone" time at the office to work on personal projects like that. Part of me is looking forward to having someone new to talk to ... part of me is worried. What if we donít get along?

Last night was Parent/Teacher Conferences at Bow Lake. All three kids are doing pretty well - Kyle in particular seems to be flourishing, and his sweet young teacher, Miss Erford, is crazy about him - and I managed to get through all three conferences and back home before 8:00. Iím not all that thrilled with Kacieís teacher, Miss Lyman. Sheís a friend of Thelmaís, and from everything Iíd heard about her I expected her to be wonderful. Last night she just struck me as too much of a perfectionist ... everything from her expensive tailored suit and perfect fingernails to her teaching style, which seems rigid and uncompromising. She actually criticized the way Kacie makes her "aís" and "oís." Give me a break. Kacie was crushed when she saw her report card (mostly Cís) and read the lengthy comments Mrs. Lyman wrote about her. It took the rest of the evening for me to raise her spirits again and convince her that Iím proud of her no matter WHAT her teacher says.

 

Evening

Home. This has basically been a crappy week and Iím glad itís over. Not in my usual buoyant Friday night mood: Ray has to work tomorrow, so we have to be "good" tonight. Shit. I tried to drive to the store a few minutes ago to get a small bottle of Lancerís, but that asshole across the street has me blocked in. Iím sitting here furiously smoking a cigarette and drinking a flat Diet Pepsi instead. Grrrr.

Earlier this week I ran my car into the gate and totally banged up the passenger side, by the way, because of Markís stupid truck being in the way. So heís not exactly my favorite person in the world. Heís re-paving his driveway and itís been a pain in the butt all week. GGRRRR again.

 

Sunday afternoon
November 21, 1993

Somewhat better mood than I was in Friday night. We're watching for the first snowfall of the season, which is predicted for this evening. Iím not exactly sure how snow would affect my commute to and from work tomorrow, but it might be interesting to find out.

In the meantime, I bought the kids all a new pair of gloves yesterday at Mervynís (also two prs. of leggings for both girls, and a nice warm "Bugle Boy" sweatshirt for Kyle, which he wears constantly).

Iíve got a big pot of Swiss Steak simmering on the stove for tonightís supper, and itís making the whole house smell great. Perfect winter food.

 

"... Jamie doesnít really play anymore, at least not in the way I think you mean. Sheís almost twelve years old now, nearly as tall as I am, and extremely mature and self-possessed for her age. Most of her free time is spent with her best friends (Christina or Nicole) or reading alone in her room. Ray sees this as Jamie rejecting the family, but I have explained to him that this is normal, healthy pre-teen behavior & to leave her alone. She is wonderful about helping out around the house and I couldnít have gotten through the first two months of working without her, so I give her some slack where other areas of her life are concerned. She makes all her own choices about clothing, hair styles, how she keeps her room, what she reads, etc. and I respect her choices. Her judgment is generally pretty sound, her grades are good and sheís an all-around great kid."

"Kacie is completely obsessed with gymnastics, food, TV, our cats and reading, more or less in that order. She takes Advanced Gymnastics class two nights a week ... theyíre training her in tumbling, balance beam, vault and parallel bars. Last week she won a first place ribbon in the balance beam event at her first-ever meet. Kacie has spent most of her life listening to people yammer on & on about Jamieís accomplishments: itís about time she had something completely her own, the way gymnastics is.

Sheís doing a lot better in school this year, especially in reading. Now that sheís discovered R.L. Stine and Ann M. Martin, she can read upwards of ten books a week, purely for pleasure.

And Kacie is my nice kid. Sheís the kid who will scoop the little spider out of the bathtub, carry it outside on a scrap of toilet paper and gently deposit it under a bush before she turns the shower on. She has a good heart and a positive outlook, and itís nice spending time with her."

"Kyle is my seven year old terror. He is contrary, self-absorbed, destructive and uncooperative. His jokes are crude, his room is a mess, he is always in desperate need of a bath and he is horrible to his sisters. He is also imaginative, articulate, cute as hell and sweetly affectionate toward his parents, his teacher and his kitty. Go figure. In other words: he is ALL BOY. Right now he is building a fort in the backyard - the weirdest conglomeration of boards, cardboard boxes, old picnic benches and assorted junk youíve ever seen in your life. Every day after school heís out there puttering around, nailing things and moving things and god only knows what else, until I drag him in for dinner. He also loves playing basketball, riding his bike, reading books about animals, watching Nickelodeon with Kacie, and making things out of paper and glue. Last month he lost all his front teeth more or less simultaneously ... Jamie calls him Jack (as in Jack-o-Lantern) when she wants to get him all riled up. It sends him into a total frenzy."

Excerpts from letter to Deanne V., 11/93

 

Wednesday morning
December 1, 1993

I guess I have some catching up to do.

The "big snowfall" was more like a small white-wash ... maybe a half inch of snow on the ground, altogether ... but it was a nice distraction. School was cancelled that morning (Monday, Nov. 22) mainly because of the icy roads and the wind-chill factor, and I was a couple of hours late getting into the office. Frankly, I wasnít planning to go to work at ALL: I wanted to stay home and watch junk TV with the kids and enjoy myself. I even got as far as making myself a hot breakfast and turning on Regis & Kathie Lee, but then James called from the office and said that Bobís house had been broken into, over the weekend. Bob and Cathi were due back from California any minute, and they didnít know about it yet. I figured Iíd better get my ass into the office pronto ... Bob wasnít going to need any more headaches. Driving wasnít that bad. I took it very slow and easy and avoided the worst hills (especially around the airport). I left the office early that afternoon (and the next couple of days as well) before the roads could get too icy. The snow melted within a day or so and now weíre back to rain and gloomy gray skies.

Thanksgiving was great but it was almost too much of a good thing ... more accurately it was too much of several good things ... I am still recovering. Ray barbecued the turkey and Kacie & I cooked everything else. (She made the fruit salad and the green bean bake.) We had these big plans to eat around the table as a family, but as usual we wound up with paper plates in front of the TV. Oh well ...

Ray has been home for almost a full week now and Iím about ready to jump off a bridge (or to push him off of one). He had Thanksgiving and the day after that off, then the weekend, then Monday & Tuesday as vacation days. This morning he was supposed to go back to work, but at the last minute he had me call in "sick" for him. I could tell by the tone of Brianís voice that he didnít buy my story ("Rayís sick") for one minute. I hate calling in for Ray. It got my whole day off to a totally shitty start, and Iím having a hard time working myself into anything resembling a good mood as a result ...

Iíve been feeling rundown and vaguely unwell for days now. Thereís a tickle in my throat and an unpleasant burning sensation behind my eyes that have been bugging me since Monday. Also, Iíve got a major toothache. That top molar has all but completely disintegrated, and it throbs in a dull distracting sort of way all the time now. I havenít slept much for the past week and my eating habits have been abominable ... mostly just a piece of mince pie here, an instant soup there, and lots of coffee.

All day long at the office I dream about going home, curling up on the sofa with a pile of magazines and drifting off peacefully before 8 p.m. ... but then I get home and I wind up staying awake until 10 or 11 again. Tonight is dance & gymnastics night, so once again Iíll be driving around and doing stuff until late. Shit.

The fact that itís December 1st does nothing to lift my spirits. Iíve been seeing these MAJOR Christmas light displays when I drive home from work since before Thanksgiving, and theyíve started playing Christmas music on the radio already, for Peteís sake. Iím in a total state of anxiety about shopping and about decorating the house: how in the world will I ever manage to do either???? I bought my Christmas cards last week and I think Iíve managed to finish two. The only thing Iíve really finished is the Christmas idea book, which I lugged in here to the office and worked on two weeks ago. But the two things that have me most panicked, like I said, are decorating and shopping. Having a car and a paycheck this year SHOULD be making things easier but to my surprise I find Iím just as anxious and worried as ever. Go figure.

The bookkeeper still hasnít started work yet, but weíve got two new technicians, Jason and Mark. I secretly call Mark "Droopy," because he reminds me of that little cartoon dog. I canít stand him: everything about him rubs me the wrong way, from his rubber face to his tuneless whistling. Last Wednesday I stopped and bought doughnuts at Winchells (for Bob, Brian, Randy and James) and this asshole walked around all morning, stuffing one after the other into his revolting face. Was I pissed.

Now itís 2 p.m. and Iím continuing to shlog through my day. A UPS delivery that I was really looking forward to -- my software from California -- arrived today, but I couldnít have it because Iíd written a personal check instead of getting a cashierís check. I probably wonít be able to pay for it at all, now, because I had to give Thelma nearly all my cash to pay for housecleaning and Avon. Depressed about that. Ray came by awhile ago to drop off my lunch for the second day in a row: my current favorite, an e. Coli Burger (otherwise known as a Jumbo Jack). It is pouring-down rain outside and Iíve been alone all day. Itís one of those days when something "weird" is going on with Bob. He left this morning without telling me where he was going or how long heíd be gone, heís checked in by phone exactly twice all day, and when he does call heís moody and distracted. I am so bored right now I could scream.

 

Crappy Stuff About This Day
December 1, 1993

  • Waking up from a great dream & having to get up for work at 5:45 a.m.
  • A major toothache.
  • Ray making me call in sick for him.
  • The first blouse I put on was too tight.
  • Having to move Rayís car so I could leave for work.
  • Sore throat, burning eyes and headache.
  • The stupid #%&*ing road construction crew blocking 176th again.
  • The asshole who roared around me (and a school bus) on 8th Avenue.
  • "Droopy" sitting in his car when I got to work.
  • "Droopy" heading into the bathroom just as I was going in to fix my hair.
  • Not the greatest makeup day Iíve ever had.
  • Bob asking why I forgot to send the boxes back UPS.
  • Droopyís stupid, pointless, ceaseless, tuneless whistling.
  • Droopyís hacking barking annoying cough.
  • Droopy in general.
  • Making a slathering fool out of myself on the phone with Brian at 10 a.m.
  • No UPS delivery today (waiting for my software from California).
  • Zits all over my chin.
  • My software showing up after all, but discovering I can only pay with cash or a cashierís check (I had a personal check ready).

A moment of almost classic synchronicity: the rain has stopped, temporarily, and the sun has opened up over the downtown Seattle skyline, visible from my seat here in the office. I looked up a moment ago and was startled to see an incredible rainbow, stretched out over Seattle. Just then, the radio began to play "Comfortably Numb." It was like a custom-made music video, designed just for me, to make this long long afternoon slightly more bearable ... and more beautiful. Thanks, who ever was in charge of the past five minutes: I needed that.

 

DREAM LOG

11/9/93 My order from the office supply store was all wrong: the pens were all red, instead of the blue and black pens Iíd ordered, and the computer software was some cheapo stupid Zsa Zsa Gabor travel program.

11/11/93 Kacie won free tickets to a Sonics game from a radio station. Ray answered the phone call. He was drunk and confused and he didnít understand what the guy from the radio station was telling him. Annoyed, I grabbed the phone away from and talked to the d.j. I promised him that I would drive Kacie down to the radio station to pick up the tickets, and then I would take her to the game. On my way to the station, I witnessed a traffic accident. The people wanted me to stay and fill out a police report, but I explained that I didnít have a driverís license and they allowed me to go.

 

December 2, 1993
Thursday

Feeling so much better today. Why?? How?? Iíd like to know the secret, bottle it, patent it, save it, use it the next time one of those dark snarly depressions hits me, like the kind Iíve battled all week ...

Driving to work I suddenly realized that I felt better than I have in days. I got enough sleep last night, for one thing, and itís stopped raining for a little while. Iíve discovered that I donít enjoy the rain nearly as much, now that Iím out driving around in it, as I did when I just sat home and watched it out the window.

 

December 3
Friday

Still feeling pretty good, but itís only noon and I have the whole long boring afternoon stretching out before me. This has been one of the more grueling weeks I can remember enduring, workwise, and Iím glad itís almost over.

Finished a big chunk of my Christmas cards today. Ray Colson dropped off a bunch of stamps before he left for Spokane (tomorrow is the BNC Telephone Christmas party; Bob left this morning too) so I was able to get them written and into the mail. Still need to write a letter for Bevís card and finish the letter Iíve started to Kathy Bergeron ... plus I need to find an address for Karen Grace ... but other than that Iíve made some real progress in at least one dinky little area of my life. Hurray.

Jamie is going to the movies tonight with her new best friend Christina D., some other girls (maybe) from their class, and a couple of boys from their class (maybe). Iím trying not to make a big issue out of it but secretly I am wrestling with some very interesting emotions. My baby is growing up.

Hoping I have the energy and motivation to drag the Christmas stuff down from the attic this weekend and get some decorating done around the house. I donít expect it to look the way it has in years past ... I just donít have the TIME for that kind of thing this year ... but Iíd settle for a few snowmen there, a Santa there, and my Christmas cards taped around the walls.

 

December 7, 1993
Tuesday afternoon, blustery rain

Iíve been avoiding writing anything in my journal, I think, because I havenít been very happy with myself lately. I feel like Iím letting everybody down ... especially myself. Iím irresponsible with money, my weekends are a blur, the house needs serious attention, I keep disappointing friends and family members. To top it all off I feel no Christmas spirit. Iím dreading shopping, Iím dreading the money hassles, Iím dreading all the running around & the bloated expectations & the whole thing.

And even BEFORE the holidays comes Jamieís birthday, which I am dreading with equal fervor. Iím afraid that no running around and/or effort on my part is going to make her happy. Sheís not being particularly demanding: itís my own overblown expectations, as usual.

My teeth are causing me almost constant agony now. Last night I woke up at 2 a.m. with the most miserable toothache Iíve ever felt in my life. All I could do was sit up on the sofa with my mouth hanging open and wait for the codeine to help. Today I feel ragged and crabby from lack of sleep as a result.

My period is due any minute and I have no supplies laid in. I have two dollars in my purse and just found out that I donít get my fucking paycheck until Thursday ... Jamieís birthday ... which leaves me no time for shopping, of course. Wondering how in the world Iím going to get through the next few days/weeks/the rest of this month with my sanity (and my savings account) intact.

And of course Ray is utterly useless. Last night he went off on a wild bizarre rampage because he couldnít find his box of cookies. Yes indeed. The girls and I had just come home from Kacieís gymnastics meet: we were cold, tired and famished (we stopped and got ourselves KFC: Ray offered to make BLTís for him & Kyle) and there was Ray, drunk and goofy and tearing the house apart because heíd misplaced his white-fudge Oreos. Please please please please please God deliver me from this kind of crap ...

 

Friday evening
December 10, 1993

Just home. Kacie stayed home sick today, and at the last minute Ray decided to call in sick (again) and stay home with her ... from the looks of things neither one of them did much of anything today. I walked in with grocery bags full of chips and dip and Coke and other goodies, all pumped and happy and ready for a fun night, and Ray is parked glumly in front of the woodstove looking like someone ran over his dog. Oh well. Iíve poured myself a glass of wine, put on the new Nilsson CD I got in the mail from the library, and Iím determined not to let his pouty bad spirits dampen mine.

 

Tuesday 11:30 a.m.
December 14, 1993

Jamieís birthday turned out great, after all. I took a couple of hours off Thursday afternoon (the 9th) to cash my paycheck and buy her birthday presents ... a wonderful dual cassette CD player and two new CDís (Mariah Carey and SWV, plus a Salt 7 Peppah cassette single) and I wrapped them later in the afternoon at the office. To save some time, Iíd ordered her birthday cake from the bakery at Albertsonís, and Ray stopped to pick that up for me. I made one final stop on my way home ... I bought her a bouquet of white baby carnations, a little teddy bear and a half gallon of her favorite ice cream, peppermint stick. Thelma had been in to clean that day and she decorated the dining room for me, with streamers and balloons. ("It looks OK," Jamie said diplomatically, "But not as nice as if you decorated it, Mom.") We got $30 worth of Taco Time for dinner, watched Jamie open her presents - she loves her CD player! - and enjoyed some cake & ice cream.

The next night two of her friends from school, Christina and Yvonne, both spent the night. On Saturday morning I drove Jamie and her friends to Southcenter and let them spend the whole day at the mall. (I gave Jamie $50 and she finished her Christmas shopping.)

Ray still hasnít put up our Christmas lights, but at least we have our tree: the kids decorated it Sunday morning, after I put on the lights & garland. It was the first time Iíve ever just sat back and let them decorate the tree without interference, and I must say it wasnít as traumatic as I feared it would be. They did a nice job and weíre all pleased with the results, even though there are a couple of spots on our tree this year that look like someone took a "bite" outta the tree.

The bad news this past weekend is that my car is frucking up on me. When I drove back down to Southcenter on Saturday afternoon to pick up Jamie and her friends, it suddenly decided to die every time I stopped at a stop sign or a light. Right in the middle of Christmas-shopping-at-the-mall-TRAFFIC, mind you. God: it was scary. Rayís been working on the engine for a couple of days now and itís somewhat drivable, but heís got the idle cranked up so high the car practically drives itself: Iím not used to it & it makes for a nervous drive. Iím very sad, angry, disappointed and worried, all at once. The carís been running so well for the past seven months; why does this have to happen? And why now, at Christmas time? What will I do if Rayís just made it worse? Why canít I ever have a car last longer than a few months ... ???

Jamie is home sick today, by the way. Kacie took Thursday, Friday and Monday off from school (and she still sounds horrible: sheís got one of her hacking coughs that go on & on forever) but today she went back to class and now itís Jamieís turn. I still have every single bit of my Christmas shopping left to do, and Iím terrified that Iím going to get sick ten minutes before I leave to go shopping. I was hoping Bob would be nice & let me have my birthday off, tomorrow - then I would have gone out and done my shopping in one mad dash & been done with it - but it doesnít look like Iíll get my wish. When I mentioned to him this morning that tomorrow was my b.day he just rolled his eyes and laughed, as though it was just too absurd. Apparently secretaries, like mothers, simply donít HAVE birthdays!

 

December 15, 1993
Wednesday afternoon

Iíve been avoiding writing anything today because I was afraid it might upset me too much ... God, I hate birthdays ... but the fact is Iíve been weepy & depressed all day so I donít see what a little more would hurt.

I woke up with the beginnings of Kacieís awful cold and I feel horrible. I have to work on my birthday. Bob completely forgot that it was my birthday until Brian reminded him. Iím worried about my car, Iím worried about Christmas shopping, Iím mad at Ray (heís been rude and goofy on the phone twice today, of all days), I donít want to be 36 years old, I hate the holidays, I hate birthdays, right now I hate the whole world.

There. Now Iíve got these big fat tears welling up in my eyes. Are you satisfied??

Mom came by last night and brought me a family history book and a box of underwear for my birthday. The kids are probably putting together some kind of celebration for me when I get home ... at least I hope they are. Thank God for my children. They are the ONLY thing thatís holding me together this month ... they expect and deserve a decent Christmas, and for their sake I am going to keep all my complaints and worries and headaches to myself as much as possible.

Happy birthday to me.
Iím here at BNC.
I wish I were home now
Resting comfortably.
But my boss is a jerk
And he wonít let me shirk.
So Iíll see you all later
When I get home from work.

(Song I left on the answering machine for the kids this morning.)

4:30 p.m.

Oh hey ... the perfect addendum to a fucked birthday: guess who just walked into the office? Good old DROOPY. Now I get to spend a nice half hour with my favorite person in the world. (NOT.)

 

Wednesday evening
December 15, 1993
My thirty-sixth birthday

No, I mean it. I fucking HATE birthdays.

Iím home now, and for about five minutes or so I was actually starting to feel a little bit cheered-up ... the kids all gave me hugs and kisses, there are presents on the table, Jamie decorated the dining room ... but then Jamie reminded me about something Iíd completely forgotten, the fact that Gillie hasnít been seen since yesterday, and now my spirits have plummeted to new lows. Shit.

Where is our girl kitty?? And how am I supposed to have any kind of happy birthday with her missing ...?

I noticed this morning that she wasnít waiting outside the bathroom door when I got out of the shower: that was my first clue that something was amiss. Now itís late and dark and she hasnít been here all day. God, please, not again. This kitty is so precious to this whole family: please bring her home. I promise Iíll quit bitching about birthdays and bosses if youíll just bring her home.

 

December 21, 1993
Tuesday afternoon

Iím leaving the office in about half an hour: Bob saw me sitting here with my Gatorade and my box of Kleenex and took pity on me. I plan to go home and pick up the kids (lots of screaming in the background when I called awhile ago ... Jamie is running Christmas Vacation with an iron fist) and take them to Southcenter for some next-to-last-minute shopping and lunch. Although what I would really like to do is sleep. And sleep some more. When that alarm goes off at 5:40 a.m. and Iím forced to drag myself out into a cold dark hard morning, I swear to myself that Iím going to come home early that night, eat a little supper, read for awhile and then GO TO SLEEP by 9:00. And of course I never make it.

It definitely looks more like Christmas around our house. Ray finally got the lights up last week, and Jamie and I did some good shopping on Sunday so there are presents under the tree. I never did get around to decorating the dining room but by this point I figure, forget it. I feel not a shred, not a whit, not a centimeter of holiday spirit this year. This is a little disappointing, of course ... this has been an exceptional year, and I was hoping to cap it off with a better-than-ever kind of family Christmas ... but I realize that it probably has more to do with me working & being tired a lot than anything else. My most immediate goal is to finish my shopping (Jamie, Mom, Peg, the little cousins, stockings and one extra gift apiece for Kacie and Kyle), get us through the family visits with a minimum amount of fuss, and totally collapse on Sunday.

Did I ever write anything about my birthday? I donít think so. I was really "blue" that day, unable to focus on much of anything at work, a little weepy and sorry for myself. I think it had finally hit me that Iím thirty six years old. Not only that, Bob completely forgot it was my birthday in spit of the fact that Iíd told him about it only the day before: Brian had to discreetly remind him. Then all I got was "Happy Birthday" and a big goofy Bob Broussard smile. Wow. No time off, no birthday bonus, no flowers. (Not that I was really expecting anything like that but gee whiz ...) Ray Colson ceremoniously brought me a blueberry muffin with a birthday candle stuck in it, but other than that no one else acknowledged the occasion in any way at all. By the time I drove home that night I had worked myself into a splendid funk. (I think I tapped out a sour mean-spirited journal entry on my home p.c... .? We were really worried because Gillie had run off?) Anyway, the kids had Jamieís boombox set up on the kitchen table and they played The Beatlesí "Birthday" as I walked in the door; they had decorated the dining room (same decorations we used last week for Jamie!) and there were cards and wrapped gifts on the table and a bottle of champagne chilling in the freezer. That made me feel better, obviously, although Gillie being gone made all of us a little sad and anxious in spite of the festivities. I opened my gifts: a Christmas doggy from Kacie (for no reason whatsoever I have named him Dale Copeland); on of my favorite all-time Christmas videos, "The Snowman," and a stuffed snowman to go with it from Jamie; and a new Nikon from Ray and the kids together. Good presents this year! All right!

The champagne was great, the video had me in tears, and ... best of ALL ... Gillie showed up, halfway through the evening!! The kids heard her scratching at the front door, and then it was pandemonium all over the place. That definitely saved my birthday.

 

Wednesday afternoon
December 22, 1993

Yesterday with the kids was kinda fun. I hate shopping malls - Southcenter especially, and Southcenter at Christmas especially especially! - but I survived the trip anyway. I finished shopping for my mom, anyway: one more name to cross off the list. I got her a new "angel" for her collection, which I love and hope she does too*, and a little glass bowl filled with potpourri. I still have so much shopping to do it makes my head hurt a little, contemplating it ... Iím not sure but I think Ray and I are going out to do it tonight. We have to get Jamieís bike and Kyleís Sega, among many many many many many other things ...

God, I canít believe that Iíve completely neglected to mention this, but Aunt Dora died this past weekend. In all the Christmas hubbub and hoopla I forgot to write about it yesterday. Forgive me. Sheryl called us early Sunday morning with the news. I guess Dora had only been in the new nursing home a couple of days when she died. Sheíd been ill for a very long time so this wasnít a total surprise, but itís a sad time of year for something like this to happen, especially for Rayís grandma. Now sheís down in Tucson all by herself (Patty & the kids flew up to Seattle on Sunday) and no amount of coaxing on our part can convince her to fly up and join us. Ray is worried about her and so is everyone else. Anyway, Dora was a sweet gentle lady with a lot of dignity and weíll all miss her. I just sat here at this very typewriter and wrote her a letter two weeks ago: Iím glad now that I got my Christmas cards out as early as I did.

*My motherís only comment when she opened my gift was "You can stop buying me angels now - I have enough."

 

Jamie came to the office with me on Thursday, December 23, 1993. It was a half-day, and the only other BNC employee who stopped in (briefly) was Ray Colson, so we more or less had the office to ourselves for a few hours. She made copies of her jewelry on the Canon copier, tried Print Shop Deluxe on my computer (she "didnít like it" and went back to her old familiar Print Shop), and faxed a request to her favorite radio station. Afterwards, I treated her to lunch at The Dragon Pearl in Burien, and we did some more last-minute Christmas shopping. It was a fun day with my sweet Puss!

 

Monday morning
December 27, 1993

Itís over ... the strangest, headiest, most materially abundant (yet least emotionally satisfying) Christmas I can ever remember. Part of me doesnít even want to write anything about it. I just want to sit here in my warm deserted office on this Monday morning after the holidays, nibbling on chocolates and reading Thomas Tryon and forgetting that the past ten days ever took place ... I donít know why. I suppose itís because I wasnít the person I wanted to be this past month, and this wasnít the Christmas I wanted to give my family. The kids and Ray seem satisfied with the way things turned out, and I should be happy with that, I know. So why do I feel so disappointed in myself?

I was right: Iím finding it impossible to write about this stuff right now. Maybe after some of the guilt and disappointment have subsided, Iíll be able to put some things into words. For the moment all Iíll say is that the kids had a great time, in spite of their Grinch of a mom, and for that I am thankful. Jamie got her mountain bike, Kacie got her jewelry-making stuff, Kyle got his Sega Genesis. I just wish that their mother could have been a little less self-absorbed, a little more excited about things ... or, at least, could have hidden her lack of enthusiasm more cleverly.

 

Tuesday afternoon
December 28, 1993

Question: How do you forward an OPX 7-digit number on a redwood?
Answer: Pound nine, then dial nine, then dial the number ... obviously ... !!

(Silly little back-and-forth on the digital pager between Bob & Brian.)

Feeling a hair better today: no more, no less. Iím sleeping OK, Iíve quit drinking champagne for a few days (last week it was the mainstay of my diet) and Iím trying to be diligent and austere and concentrate on catching up on things like sleep and laundry and reading. People are still asking me, "How was your Christmas?" My stock reply is "Iím glad itís over." I donít care who knows what a Scrooge I am ...

I had a funny little dream about Kacie last night, which I would like to recount ... I dreamed that Kacie and I agreed to undergo this new type of medical procedure, where I would be pregnant with her again & she would be re-born. The idea of getting to do her babyhood and childhood all over again was very appealing! Anyway, the operation went OK and I gave birth to her again, except that instead of being a newborn, as Iíd expected, she was about two years old. That was OK, though ... "Iíve got a little girl again!" I kept saying to everyone. Kacie was unhappy to realize that she was now many years younger than her friends & classmates ("Iím younger than DANIELLE!" she was crying) and she wanted to have the process reversed, but it was too late by then.

 

Wednesday
December 29, 1993

I had the worst toothache of my life last night ... it kept me awake for hours. Iíve finished off all the cccís I bought from Dad (and Iím too embarrassed to ask him for more) so I had to resort to Nuprin to kill the pain. It took forever for them to kick in, but then I would get another hour or two of sleep before the next blast of pain woke me up. I know Iíve got to see a dentist soon, but the logistics and expense seem confounding.

My work "uniform" this week: my favorite Koret "City Bluesí jeans, long soft sweaters (today the pink one my sister gave me for Christmas) and my most comfortable beat-up shoes. My hair is much too long, but at least itís clean and the set turned out OK and it looks fine. Seriously contemplating another diet. I think it might be fun to lose weight & see how the men I work with react to it. Might be very very good for the olí ego ... whaddya think?

 

Monday afternoon, dark and rainy
January 3, 1994

Happy New Year, Journal.

I just finished reading an incredible book ("The Mommy Club" by Sarah Bird, with a surprisingly poignant ending: Iím still trying to swallow the lump in my throat), and now I need to snap myself out of my sentimental fog and get back to reality. First day back at work after the New Yearís weekend, and first day back to school for the kids after two weeks of Winter Vacation. Talk about glum faces this morning.

We still havenít taken down the Christmas tree (or the Christmas cards, or the outdoor lights) ... this weird inertia I felt all through the holiday season continues. I just donít seem to give a shit, at least as far as the house goes. I miss Thelma coming in and doing my floors twice a week, and I wish there were SOME way to keep the laundry from piling up, but otherwise I seem to have slipped into neutral where housework is concerned. Very un-Terri-like.

Our New Yearís Eve was no big deal. For the first year in a long time John and Lori didnít come over, so Ray & the kids & I wound up staying home by ourselves. Kacie made these wonderful little confetti "poppers" - she spent hours and hours cutting out the confetti and stuffing it into empty toilet paper tolls, then covering them with more paper and tape - and at midnight we stood on our front porch in the freezing rain and opened them up. And that was pretty much it. My New Yearís resolutions are "unformed" at this point. Maybe Iíll have a preliminary list together by, say, March or April.

Oh hey. They fired Droopy this morning! I was shocked. I also feel terrible about all the nasty things Iíve written (and said) about him in the past couple months or so. (When I called home a while ago and told Kacie what had happened, she burst into TEARS! She has always hated it when I called him "Droopy." She doesnít like me saying mean or prejudicial things about anyone, not even jokingly.) I never was able to actually warm up to the guy, but he has a wife & three kids & the holidays just ended, and this is a crappy way to start the new year.

 

Wednesday morning
January 5, 1994

Horrors. Went into the bathroom here at work awhile ago and discovered (to my dismay) that my fucking period has started. And me up the creek without a paddle ... if you know what I mean. Lunchtime is a million hours away but youíd better believe my first stop on the way to cash my paycheck will be any place that sells pads and Midol ...

Last night was another ghastly-toothache-night, too, so Iím quite the exhausted puddle of worthlessness this morning. Ray (Colson) has promised to bring me some Percodan tomorrow, and I pray to God that he remembers ... I donít know if I can do another night of huddling on the couch in tears, waiting for the next tidal wave of agony to hit ...

The kids and Ray took the tree down last night, before I got home: Ray was just hauling it outside as I drove in. I was relieved and happy to see the Christmas mess finally being taken care of, and I was in a decent mood ... until Iíd been around Ray for two minutes. He was in one of his pompous, God-I-do-everything-around-here moods last night, simply because heíd handled the tree mess and made some Manwich for dinner ... he was at his charm-free worst, and by the end of the evening I was ready to slug him. (Of course now I realize that I was premenstrual all over the place. Could be that he was perfectly normal & I was the one outta whack.)

Payday, and finally a good surprise when I opened my paycheck ... I got paid for the holidays. I was expecting this to be a mini-paycheck, maybe around $400, but instead itís my usual $700. yay. One thing is going right today. Now if I could only get to a store & get my little "problem" taken care of, things would be hunky dory.

2 p.m.

Whew. Everythingís taken care of & I feel immensely better. While I was at Payless I bought some stuff for my toothache ... this special waxy "gum" that you put into the cavity or onto the jagged edge of a broken tooth, and some Liquid Orajel thatís supposed to be better than what Iíve been using. Cross your fingers and hope it helps.

Mark (aka Droopy) just came in and picked up his final paycheck. I wished him "good luck" ... Kacie would be so proud of me ...

 

Thursday morning
January 6, 1994

Back to feeling like crud again. Rayís mad at me (for getting "carried away" last night), Ray Colson only brought me one measly little painkiller for my teeth, I screwed up a phone message this morning & Bob is annoyed with me ... shit. Shit shit shit shit. I wish I could go home and crawl into bed with a pile of magazines and a big sandwich and tune out the whole world.

On second thought - no I donít. Home is exactly where I donít wish to be right now. Saying that my house is a "mess" is such an understatement itís almost laughable: my house would probably qualify for federal disaster relief. (The bed I would like to "crawl into" is unmade, and I havenít washed the bedding since November ... there are huge damp piles of dirty laundry in every room ... the living room hasnít seen a decent vacuuming and/or dusting in weeks ... and every available surface is covered with library books, dirty glasses, crumpled candy wrappers, two day old newspapers, broken toys, paper plates, crayons, mismatched socks, halfeaten sandwiches, cat hair ...)

So going home is out. Guess Iím gonna have to stick it out right here at good olí BNC Telephone.

 

Evening

Continuing this at home ... some of the crap is leveling off, finally. The big mistake I made at work (I accidentally forgot to give Bob a message off the Answering Service, from Otto at Telephone Services in Portland: wouldnít you know it, the one message that I forget to deliver, and it was the one Bob had been waiting for) was smoothed over. Ray went out and bought groceries after work, so thereís food in the house again. I zapped some pot pies for the girls and a hot dog for Kyle, and now I have some BBQ chicken breasts baking in the oven for Ray and I. Iím on my second load of laundry, most of the Christmas boxes have been lugged up to the attic (finally), and Iím beginning to think there may be hope for this house, after all ...

... Ray is in a slightly better mood than heís been in all week, and that helps. I took the "measly pain pill" that Ray Colson gave me, and now Iím sitting here sipping one glass of white wine and relaxing. Tomorrow is Friday, and that automatically makes the world look a little better. If I can just finish the laundry and get through the rest of the evening in one piece, tomorrow will be a piece of cake.

For a little while today I actually thought I might be in danger of losing my job. I realize now that I was worrying for no reason, but ever since they let Mark go Iíve been more aware of how easily it could happen.

 

Monday morning
January 10, 1994

Ugggghhhh ... Monday morning. My favorite.

I am wiped out this morning. Gillie is in her first heat, and she spent the entire night skulking about from window to window, yowling at the boy cats outside. (Now I know why they call it "caterwauling.") I laid on the sofa and miserably watched the numbers on the clock radio change from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. to 3 a.m... . I finally fell asleep sometime around 4 a.m., which means I got an entire hour and a half of sleep before it was time to get up for work. (I vented my displeasure by giving Gillie one good swift kick in the laundry room this morning. Not enough to hurt her, for crying out loud: just enough to let her know what I thought of her all-night serenade.) Then I dove headfirst into a pot of nasty black coffee, which at least got me coiffed, made-up (sort of), dressed and out the door.

(During my ninety minutesí worth of quality sleep, incidentally, I had another Ridgway Packaging dream. When, when, when is this ridiculous dream going to go away & leave me alone? The "plot" is always the same; Iím AWOL from work, I come back to the office and find Patti Owen answering the phones, I beg Howard Evans not to fire me ... but he always does.)

Ray, damn his hide, chose this particular morning to stay home "sick" ... he even managed to talk me into calling in for him. When I left at 7:15 for the office, he and Kyle were snuggled deeply into the big bed together. I havenít heard a word from Ray all morning so I imagine heís probably still sound asleep, not a care in the world. I hate him.

Now itís only noon and Iíve already eaten my lunch (left over chicken fried steak from last night) and Iíve already read both the magazines I bought on the way to the office; Iíve practiced typing on Mavis, Iíve listened to the Morning Medley and the Lunchtime Theme Park (todayís theme: ghosts), Iíve paged several critically important messages ("Bob call Brian on his cell phone. 947-5439." "Brian call Bob on his cell phone. 947-6809"). Iíve had a pot of coffee, a cup of tea and a Pepsi, Iíve smudged a little extra eyeliner under my eyes, and Iíve called my phone horoscope. Only five more long, excruciatingly dull hours to kill before I can go home, stick some earplugs in my ears (either that or gag Gillie) and sleep, sleep, SLEEP.

An anecdote about each of my children, from the weekend just passed:

KYLE ... spent most of the weekend curled up next to me on the sofa, watching TV. Although he would never admit it, he is still (deep down inside) Mamaís boy. I thoroughly enjoyed his warmth, his littleness, his closeness, his attention. I combed his silky golden hair with a black comb; I tickled him in the ribs and pinched his butt; he pulled off my "pinchy" watch and rubbed my arm. We wrapped ourselves up in my big quilt and shared the sofa pillows. Our favorite thing on TV: a movie on HBO, "Toys" (starring Robin Williams), which we both agreed was wonderful. Every once in awhile he would jump off the sofa and ricochet around the living room, shooting his Nerf gun or karate-kicking the furniture ... as though his little boy battery needed a quick recharge ... but then he would be back under the quilt, nestled into the space beneath my arm (and next to my heart) ...

KACIE - worked earnestly on her toothpick bridge all weekend - her entry for an upcoming science contest - despite being banished (first) from the coffee table and then from the kitchen table. (Eventually she set up her project in the bedroom. Jamie came home from her overnight and immediately went into shock. "Mom, sheís got toothpicks EVERYWHERE!") This reminds me of the Science Fair a couple of years ago, when Kacie made the model of the solar system: sheís giving this latest project the same kind of completely focused attention.

JAMIE ... and Nicole are friends again, apparently: I took them to the mall on Saturday, and then Jamie spent the night at the Schwartzmannís that night. I gave Jamie $50 to buy a dress for her upcoming Dare graduation. ("Nothing strapless!" I said as I dropped her off at Southcenter, and I was only partially kidding ... Jamie has better taste in clothing than I do, and I trust her judgment implicitly, but, well ... you never know at that age.) What she came home with was yet another white blouse ("I like white blouses, Mom!" she said defensively) and a green silk skirt. Iíll admit it: I was a hair disappointed. I had this vision of my Puss in a dress, something sweet and frilly and flowery. And I think she was disappointed by my disappointment. But then we got home and she actually tried the outfit on for me, and I had to admit that it looked right on her & it was practical (she can wear the white blouse with anything) & sheíd done a good job picking it out. Live and learn.

 

Monday morning
January 24, 1994

Another completely unproductive weekend has come and gone, and here I am back in the office on a cold Monday morning, drinking bitter black coffee and wondering how in the world Iím going to pass the next seven and a half hours ... or, for that matter, the next five days. (My life is a constant round of trying to get through the week, anticipating the weekend, wasting the weekend, coming back to the office & bemoaning my "unproductive" weekend, trying to get through the week again, ad nauseum ... itís really kinda sad ...)

I was goofing around in Windows a little while ago on the office computer (Brian and Jeff installed it last week. Iím ashamed to tell you what a gig baby I was about the whole thing. "You can install the mouse but I probably wonít use it" I said to Jeff. But you must understand that I had the mistaken idea that you canít have Windows & DOS on the same computer, and I thought I was losing my Print Shop Deluxe and all my stuff on WordPerfect, and I was mad) and I discovered this word processing program that I didnít even know existed. I also found a Paintbrush program that looks like fun, and a Card File that might be nice for customer accounts. Anyway, Iím more enthused about Windows now, especially since it doesnít interfere with the things Iíve already got on the computer. I plan to spend this week nosing around & experimenting & figuring things out. I taught myself WordPerfect, after all ... how hard can Windows be? (She said naively ...)

Anyway. Itís actually something of a relief to get out of the house and away from my family for a few hours. We were together practically every minute this weekend, and all that togetherness wears thin after a couple of days. I drove the girls to Southcenter on Saturday and let them wander around for a few hours. Jamie bought herself a pair of jeans, Kacie went to Fabricland (I think) and bought sewing materials. Kyle spent his whole weekend in front of the Sega, of course. Ray barbecued ribs on the Webber, drank a lot of beer and watched sports (bowling and football) on TV.

And me? My big accomplishments this weekend included doing seven loads of laundry and taping some CDís from the library. Wowee wow wow.

 

Wednesday morning
January 26, 1994

Uh-oh. I seem to be in a serious slump. Nothing is going the way it should be, and I feel helpless, hopeless and tired. A case of the January blahs? A touch of PMS, maybe? At least that would mean the condition is temporary. I donít know. A little voice inside my head is saying that things are fucked up because Iíve fucked them up, and that theyíre going to stay that way because I canít manage my own life. I can try and blame the season, or hormones, or Clintonís proposed health care plan, for that matter, but the truth is that the only person to blame here is me ...

You know what I keep thinking about this morning? My bed. Not because I long to go home & crawl into it - although the idea is tempting - but because of the way it looked when I left for work this morning.

- The sheets (fifteen years old now) were pulled all the way off, exposing the bare lumpy dirty mattress (which doesnít even fit the bed frame).

- The pillow cases were grimy and had bloodstains on them again (Rayís nose bleeds at night).

- The blankets were all knotted up and hanging off the sides of the bed.

- And right in the middle of this mess, of course, was KYLE, sound asleep.

That unmade bed is a metaphor for my whole life right now: messy, uncared-for, dirty ... the top doesnít fit the bottom ... the sheets and blankets are old and worn out ... and the wrong people are sleeping in it.

Yes, a lot of my depression - as usual - is because of the way the house looks. But it goes deeper than sticky floors and unmade beds. Iím depressed because things are falling apart, because Iím not paying attention, because Iíve lost all interest in "fixing" things. Am I making any sense at all? I doubt it. I donít just mean the house, I mean everything ... my relationships with my kids, my friendships, my appearance, my wardrobe, my health, my job, everything. The house is just a reflection of whatís going on internally, Iím afraid.

Would cleaning my house help "fix" things? Or would that just be putting a Band-Aid on the problem? Part of me still believes that an orderly house is the cure for what ails you. It would at least be a step in the right direction, though, wouldnít it?

Some people dream about basking in the sun on a Hawaiian beach, or shooshing down the slopes of a ski resort. Hereís my dream: one entire day at home alone. No Ray. No kids. Just me and a decent vacuum cleaner and a lot of Hefty garbage bags and a pot of black coffee. Iíd get that hell hole looking like something out of Good Housekeeping in no time. (Either that, or Iíd clean a room and a half, then stop for a glass of cold wine and get on the phone with Lori, and the next thing I knew Iíd be waking up with a raging hangover and the house looking even worse than it did before ...)

The washing machine has finally died on us, by the way. Two nights ago Jamie tried to wash the bathroom rugs and the washer refused to drain. So now I canít even do laundry, the one domestic chore I was staying more or less on top of. Figures.

I donít know, Journal. Talking about cleaning the house and actually doing it are two different things. It all sounds so good on paper. ("First Iíll clean my bedroom, then Kyleís room, then the hall closet.") But the reality is that I come home from work, listen to the kids argue and gripe for a while, read the paper, fix dinner, lay down on the couch and watch TV, and fall asleep by 9:30. Precisely where to floor-waxing and furniture polishing fit into the schedule ... ?

As for the kids. I am turning into A Crummy Mom as well as A Crummy Housekeeper, and there doesnít seem to be a danged thing I can do about it. Last night I literally hadnít even taken my coat off before Jamie and Kyle were at each other. I think they were fighting because Kyle was playing Sega instead of doing his chores, and right before I walked in they were slugging it out. Kyle was crying, Jamie was hysterical, and when I tiredly refused to take sides, Jamie screeched "Well, of course you donít care!!" and stomped off to her room. A while later I went into her room and told her I wanted an apology, but when she refused to even roll over and face me, I whacked her on the butt. So much for enlightened parenting. I told her and Kyle that I do not ever again, under any circumstances, want to walk into the house after a long day at work and hear that kind of crap going on. What I didnít tell them is that itís hard enough making myself come home from work at all, with the place such a disheartening mess: they donít need to make it any tougher than it already is.

 

Thursday afternoon, 4:30
January 27, 1994

More new stuff to play with on the computer ... this morning Jeff installed Word 6.0, and I am completely blown-away. Iíve been working on it all afternoon. I discovered a ClipArt feature, built right into the program!! God!! And just now I thought "Fonts! I havenít checked the FONT selection yet!" Guess what ... there are TONS of them. This one is called "Monotype Corsiva." I think I am becoming a computer junkie. I just canít seem to get enough of this stuff ... !

Still feeling kinda punky today. I bought all kinds of cold medicines last night after I dropped Jamie off at her dance lesson, but nothing is helping much. Guess I just have to ride it out. The laundry is out of control so tonight Iíve got to haul it all over to the laundromat. Ray is looking through the classifieds, looking for a decent (cheap) used washing machine.

Canít wait to see what this looks like printed! Bye!

 

Thursday morning, 8:25 a.m.
February 3, 1994

Snuck into the office fifteen minutes late this morning ... I left a message with the Answering Service, saying I had to "stop and get gas" ... but as it turns out no one is here & no one checked for messages. So itís cool Now I wish I could just sit back and have a nice peaceful day, working on my autobiography and answering the phone, but unfortunately, this is going to be one of those awful days when Iím worried all day about something stupid. I canít tell you the whole story, but the bottom line is that Ray is going to kill me when he gets home from work tonight - and I have nine hours to fret about it. Great. Lately heís been such a grumpy asshole that I guess I should know better than to do anything to push his buttons.

Yesterday was Jamieís D.A.R.E. graduation at Bow Lake. I left the office at noon and cashed my paycheck, then dashed into Payless and bought Jamie a "graduation present" ... a little Gitano watch. Then I made another mad dash to the ceremony. Jamie was one of the winners of the D.A.R.E. writing contest, so she read her essay to the audience - the highlight of the ceremony for me (and for my mom, who also showed up). Jamie was so poised and looked so grownup, there on the stage ... how does this happen? How do they go from diapers to D.A.R.E. in the blink of an eye this way ... ?

We still have no washing machine, and itís really starting to bother me. The girls and I went to the laundromat again, night before last, and did three loads. (We accidentally left one load behind: Ray went back and got it yesterday.) Even so, there is still a mountain of dirty clothes & towels three feet high on the laundry room floor, and itís growing bigger by the minute. To top things off, our iron decided to stop working this week, so I basically have nothing to wear to work. When it rains, it pours.

Ray was really on a roll last night: he lost his car keys and we spent almost two hours tearing the house apart, looking for them. Jamie and I even drove over to Tomís and to Trailer Town, to see if he might have left them at either store, but no such luck. Finally I found them stuck in the crack of the driverís seat in MY car. (He used it to drive Jamie to dance class.)

Nothing much else to tell. Guess Iíll find something work-related to do, and hopefully itíll keep me preoccupied for a while.

 

Monday morning
February 7, 1994

God. Just the other day I was contemplating spring ... thinking it was just around the corner ... and now all of a sudden weíre in the middle of an "arctic storm." No snow, really, but itís FREEZING COLD, and thereís a really evil wind starting to pick up. I borrowed Rayís car this morning (heís home, again, and so is Kyle) because I was afraid the roads would be icy & his brakes are better than mine. The roads were fine, but like an idiot I left my own set of keys on the kitchen table ... including the keys to the office! ... and I had to drive all the way home to get them. That got my Monday morning off to a peachy start, as you can probably imagine.

Actually, Iím in a far better mood than I have any right to be in, considering the fact that itís Monday and itís not even a payday week. I got a lot done this weekend, and I feel good about that. On Saturday morning Kacie, Kyle and I went shopping in Federal Way: I bought socks for the two of them, socks and underwear for Ray, and a new pair of $40 shoes for Kyle. On Sunday the girls and I hauled seven loads of clothes over to the laundromat (Jamie commented that weíre becoming "regulars"), and I spent all day yesterday drying clothes and ironing. I even found the time to make two meatloaves ... one for tonightís supper, one for the freezer. We rented some movies on Saturday - I watched "Sleepless in Seattle" and "Born Yesterday," neither of which was as good as Iíd hoped. And I input three chapters of the autobio into the home p.c. Not a bad weekend!

Kyle didnít really want to stay home today ... not at first, anyhow. He was hoping to get a Perfect Attendance Award for second grade, but heís got a terrible cold & he woke up exhausted this morning, and I finally managed to talk him into snuggling back under the covers and staying home. "You have ten more years to try for Perfect Attendance!" I told him, and that seemed to cheer him up. Ray is staying home for about the zillionth Monday in a row. Frankly, Iím starting to get worried about all the time off heís been taking lately. I mean, how many times a month can a person come down with "the flu" before the boss starts getting suspicious ...?? Oh well. At least heís home with Kyle today, and Iím grateful for that.

Iím going to spend this chilly day here in the office, bundled up in two pink sweaters (a turtleneck and a pullover), sipping hot drinks, listening to KMTT and working on the autobio (which is coming along quite nicely, incidentally. Iím anxious to finish it). Not a bad way to spend a day, would you say? AND Iím getting paid for it. Amazing.

See ya.

 

February 14, 1994
Valentineís Day, Monday

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. Howís that for a lovely Valentineís Day sentiment?? Every time I start feeling smug and self-assured about my value here at BNC, I do something royally stupid ...

I took my lunch out of the office today, with Bobís permission. I wanted to withdraw some money from the bank, for stamps & Valentine candy for the kids. While I was driving back to the office I suddenly realized, like a punch to the stomach, that Iíd forgotten to switch the phones over to the Answering Service when I left. In other words, Iíd broken the Cardinal Rule of BNC Telephone, Inc... . "Thou shalt not leave the phones unattended!!" I drove back to the office at about a zillion miles an hour. Just as I walked in the door, the phone rang. Guess who?" "Terri," was all Bob said, ominously. I said I knew, I screwed up, Iím sorry. There was this horrible dead pause on the other end of the phone. For a second, I expected him to say "Youíre fired" ... or, at least, "One more screw-up and youíre out of here." Instead all he said, in that careful, somber tone, was "Donít let it happen again." That was all, but it was enough. Iím furious with myself, Iím resentful of Bob Broussardís position of authority over me, and Iím nervous now about the tenuousness of my position here. How could I have done something so hare-brained?? I never forget to switch the phones over. Iíve left the copier on a couple of times, and once I accidentally forgot to put the padlock on the warehouse door, but I always remember to switch the phones over. Except for today.

Oh well. No use crying over unanswered phones.

Ray showed up and surprised the heck outta me this morning. I was alone in the office, looking through the glass window to Bobís office, when I saw the reflection of somebody behind me, peering through the front door. At first I thought it was Brian, but then I turned around and saw it was my goofy husband. Things are still slow at Sea Pac so he has the rest of the day off. He came in and visited for a few minutes, snooping aimlessly around the fax machine & the warehouse, before I finally got him to leave. (He says heís going to go look at washing machines, but then again thatís what he said last week. Iím sort of losing hope.)

So anyway, today is Valentineís Day. Pay day is still a couple of days away, so the kids and I have agreed to exchange mostly hand-made cards and gifts. After I get paid Iíll take them out and buy them each something special. I made all three of the kids a Valentine on the office computer this morning - funny little cards that say "Youíre My Favorite Kid!" on the front, and then some special "Mom Coupons" stapled to the inside (for things like a free ride to the mall, a new magazine, etc.). Every year I make the kidsí Valentines by hand, but this is the first year Iíve used a computer to make them. I thought it was appropriate, considering the impact computers have had on our lives this last year.

I was sick all weekend. Iíve had this cold for ages, it seems, but over the weekend it turned into full-blown flu. Basically I laid on the couch all weekend and let Kacie fuss over me. (Every hour or so I would say, "Time to fuss!" and she would rush over and feel my forehead and cover me with blankets.) Iím about 90% better today, although I credit Contac Severe Cold & Flu Formula for my recovery ... the best cold medicine Iíve ever used. Itís literally all thatís keeping me moving today.

Oh well. Time to get back to work on the autobio. Iím up to the Summer of í78, although there are still some gaping holes in my childhood Iíll eventually need to go back and fill. Tonight weíre going to celebrate Valentineís Day -- just a little, itís a work tonight -- and have BLTís for supper. Woopty doo!

 

Tuesday afternoon
February 15

My day did not improve much yesterday. After the answering service debacle (which Bob is still irritated about: heís been unnervingly formal with me all day today), things just kept unraveling on me. I left the office at 5:00 determined to have a happy Valentines Day with the tikes in spite of everything. I got almost all the way home - I stopped at Trailer Town to buy two wine coolers - when I realized Iíd left my purse at the office!! With all my money in it, of course. I had to turn around and drive all the way back to the office, unlock the doors, get my purse out of my desk drawer, re-lock everything, and drive all the way home again. I also used up most of my gas making two trips so I had to stop and fill up. By the time I got home at 6:15 I was extremely cranky. Fortunately, the kids liked the cards & coupons I made for them (and the candy I picked up at Payless), everybody was happy with BLTís for a quick dinner, and I was able to salvage some of the evening.

Unfortunately, then I got a miserable nightís sleep. It was close to 2 a.m. before I finally fell asleep, and I had horrible dreams about my teeth falling out. (One of my two delightful new recurring dreams: the other one is about backed-up toilets.) The next thing I knew it was 5:40 am and Ray was poking me in the side because my alarm was blaring, out in the living room. (I had my earplugs in so I couldnít hear it, plus last night was one of those rare nights when I actually slept with my husband - it being Valentineís Day and all.)

Now itís starting all over again today ... the weird unexplained slip-ups at work, I mean. Somehow I got the time of Bobís A.E.I. meeting wrong on my calendar (it was scheduled for 1;00, not 2:00), and Randy has completely missed a 1:30 meeting at Unico. Both companies are saying they told me the "correct" meeting times, but all I know is that I have "2:00" on the calendar for A.E.I. and nothing at all for Unico. Now Iím just sitting here waiting for the ax to fall. What is happening to me all of a sudden?? Little things keep slipping past me. What ever happened to the "attention to detail" I bragged about in my resume? Is this a case of mid-life Alzheimerís? Or maybe S.A.D.D. (the light-deprivation thing people get in the winter)?? Or am I just plain going nuts ... ??

My sister called last night, incidentally, to inform me that she and Tim are now officially engaged. He gave her a diamond engagement ring for Valentines Day and theyíre planning a November wedding. I talked to Mom shortly after I talked to Deb, and of course Mom is beside herself with joy. Planning the wedding will likely be the major activity for this year. Iím sick with envy, of course ... once again my little sister gets her heartís desire ... but Iím even more concerned with losing some weight between now and November so I donít look like a blimp at the wedding. (Trust Terri P. to focus on the truly relevant issues involved here.)

Oh well. Better get back to work. God knows what critical phone message Iím neglecting to page while Iím lollygagging here on the computer ...

 

Wednesday morning
February 16, 1994

OK, now Iím getting scared. I got to the office about fifteen minutes ago and discovered that the front door was unlocked. The security gate was closed and locked, so no one could have gotten in, but if Bob had shown up here before me this morning & found the door unlocked, that would have been "it" for me. Journal, I am POSITIVE that I locked that door last night. I consciously went around the office and the warehouse last night before I left, checking and re-checking everything to make sure things were shut off and secure. What is happening to me?

 

Thursday afternoon
February 17

I still have no explanation for the unlocked door. Iím just so thankful that I got here before anyone else did ... I shudder to think what would have happened otherwise.

Rainy, rainy, rainy. Thereís a puddle in front of the office door as big as Lake Washington. Itís kind of pleasant, sitting here in a cozy warm office listening to music and watching the rain, except that it starts to make me sleepy after a while. Iíve been working on a shnuffly cold for almost three weeks now and the cold medicine makes me sleepy, too. Between the rain & the Contac Iím about ready to lay my head down on my desk and snooze the rest of the afternoon away ...

The girls are jump-roping today with the Highline Hoppers, at three or four different schools around the district. Jamie is a part of the regular exhibition team that goes around to the other schools, but Kacie just got picked as an alternate yesterday. ("Youíll never guess who they picked," Jamie said glumly on the phone yesterday. Apparently having her little sister around is not completely cool.)

Rayís driving me crazy again. He had promised to go out & buy dinner last night, but he pooped around & pooped around until nearly 7:00. Meanwhile the kids were starving. Finally I said "Jamie and I will go and get some McDonaldís," which of course he wouldnít eat. (Lately heís decided that McDonaldís upsets his stomach.) So I wound up going to Wendyís to get his hamburgers & then to McDonaldís to get dinner for everybody else. Did he appreciate the extra effort? "I wanted some onion rings" he said when we got home. Then I went to some trouble to hand-wash and dry his new T-shirt last night, just so he could wear it to work today. When he was walking out the door this morning, dressed in something else, I looked at him questioningly. "That T-shirt is just covered with lint," he said. Jesus H. Christ. Is there no pleasing this asshole??

I donít know. Iím feeling very unappreciated today. Bob called the office a couple of hours ago. Apparently he didnít hear me answer the phone because I could hear him carrying on a conversation with the secretaries at Siemens. "God, youíre so quick!" he was saying to one of them. "If I ever need a secretary, youíre hired!" Needless to say that made me feel really wonderful. When I talked to him later I jokingly said something about him "Trying to give my job to someone else." "Oh God, NO, that was just a joke," he quickly backtracked, but Iím still a little miffed.

 

Tuesday afternoon
February 22, 1994

This rainy, gloppy day has seemed more like a Monday than a Tuesday, particularly coming off a three day holiday weekend (yesterday was Presidentís Day). Amazingly, I wasnít all that perturbed about coming back to work this morning. The first days of my "mini-vacation" were fine, but by yesterday afternoon I was fighting the impulse to strangle Ray & the kids. I got a lot done, including cleaning my room AND Kyleís room, washing seven loads of laundry at the laundromat, cooking a big chicken dinner Sunday and an even bigger steak dinner last night, and taking the kids for their weekly run to Southcenter Mall. I entertained visitors - Andrea stopped with Danielle and Cody Bear, and my Mom & Deb came by to show off The Engagement Ring. I even managed to get plenty of extra sleep! So I can look back on my weekend without (much) regret, and turn my attention to getting through the next few penniless days till payday (eight long days away) ...

Very worried about my car. The brakes are grinding like crazy, and I donít know how to get them fixed. How would I get to & from work if my car is in the shop? And how much would it cost me to fix them? Two very good questions, Iím afraid. Fuck.

Jamie went on a field trip to Olympia today. She didnít get up close & personal with our ugly governor -- darn! -- but she said she liked the Capitol building and the greenhouse. Kyleís supposed to be going on a field trip to Northwest Trek sometime this spring, and if thereís any way to finagle Bob into giving me that day off, Iíd love to be a chaperone.

Lovely lovely February. How I love this wonderful happy month. Itís my favorite month in the whole year. NOT. I donít know why it is, but February always seems to last three times longer than any other month and itís a hundred times more depressing.

 

Wednesday, mid-morning
March 23, 1994

God. I canít believe itís been over a month since Iíve written anything. Sorry about that.

Iím having a bad morning, Iím afraid. It didnít start out that way: I got a good nightís sleep and woke up a little less congested than usual, the drive to work was pleasant, I was looking forward to a quiet and routine day at the office ... but the minute I walked through the door BOOM! Everything started falling apart on me. Iíve only been here for a couple of hours and already Iíve caught myself on the verge of tears three times. Kelli in Spokane was rude and condescending on the phone, James was irritated with me because I forgot to look up an address for him, Dick walked in with a bunch of bids that needed to be typed right now, the fire department called and said weíre being fined because we didnít get the fire extinguisher taken care of, Bob only gave me $19 in petty cash ...

Oh well. Might as well catch you up on the doings in Polenville ...

Monday was Kacieís eleventh birthday. Since sheís had a party every year for the past three or four years running, this year we deliberately kept it low-key. On Sunday I drove her, Jamie and Tracy down to Southcenter and let them cruise the mall for a few hours. Kacie had forty bucks and she spent most of it on food (crackers & cheese, candy, lunch, drinks), books, sewing/craft supplies and two "Beavis & Butthead" posters. During my lunch hour on Monday I ran over to Burien and bought her birthday gifts ... a nice dual-cassette boom box, a "Beavis & Butthead" tape, two T-shirts and two pairs of shorts. (Believe it or not, it actually snowed that day: I couldnít get over the incongruity of driving in the snow to buy my daughter shorts & T-shirts!) I also went to KFC and bought the Rotisserie Gold chicken sheíd specifically requested for her b.day dinner. She had a gymnastics class that night, but since the Academy Awards were on, Ray drove her to class for me. When she got home around 9:10, we let her open her gifts & had cake and ice cream.

We have kittens in Polenville now ... sigh. On March 14 Gillie had three kittens, two white and one tiger gray, a miniature version of Gillie. At first they were in Kyleís closet -- the least-used room in the house -- but the kids came home from school one day and found Gillie & babies on Kacieís bunk! Somehow Gillie had managed to drag them all up there. Itís a miracle she didnít drop them and kill them. Anyway, after that we decided to go ahead and let them "nest" in the girlsí closet, since thatís where Gillie seemed to want to be. The kittens just opened their eyes yesterday, and even hard-hearted Ray admits that theyíre cute. Iím just a little worried about the kids getting too attached to them: it will be hard when they go to new homes eventually.

Iím now in the eleventh week of my cold/hay fever/sinus infection/whatever the hell it is ... I wake up every single night with my sinuses completely stopped up, and then I wake up that way again when the alarm goes off. In the evening I feel drippy and exhausted and my eyes sting. Iím trying to wean myself from my nasal spray (itís been such a constant companion that Iíve actually named my little bottle of Sinex "Alan") but itís tough: sometimes itís the only thing between me and oxygen starvation. At 2 a.m. when I wake up and it feels like something is sitting on my FACE, nothing but a squirt or two (or seven) of Sinex does the trick.

Crap. I just got off the phone with Ray Colson. He knew Iíd been having a rotten morning & asked what was wrong. I hesitantly mentioned Kelliís name and he said "Oh, man ... sheís a bitch." Then he started telling me about problems heíd had with her when he worked in the Spokane office, and it was starting to make me feel better, you know? Like I wasnít the only person in the company whoíd been on the receiving end of her snotty attitude. But then he had to go and spoil the whole thing. "Yah," he said, "Sheís gorgeous and she knows it." For some reason that was not something I wanted to hear. Why couldnít he have said that she weighs 300 lbs. and wears sweatpants to work?? Somehow, that would have been more comforting, especially since I know that "gorgeous" is an adjective that will never be used to describe me, ever again ...

I havenít even started planning the big diet I was going to go on (for my sisterís wedding). If anything, my eating habits are worse than ever. Three or four mornings a week I stop at Red Apple on my way to work and buy a Swansonís breakfast sandwich: sausage, egg and cheese on a biscuit. Itís less than two dollars and it tastes great, especially when Iím ravenously hungry. But of course itís loaded with fat, cholesterol, salt, blah blah blah. Lunch is whatever I bring into the office, usually leftovers from dinner the night before ... today I have a leftover fajita pocket and some Rice-a-Roni that Jamie made. In the afternoon, sitting here at my desk, I snack on Mountain bars, pastry, M & Mís. And of course Iím drinking coffee and pop all day long, on top of everything else. When I get home from work Iím famished and I snack until dinner, which is fast food or "convenience" food (frozen pizza, TV dinners, pot pies) more often than not.

Crap again. Cathi just called and gave me one of those nicey-nice speeches of hers (I am older than you are, dammit, and every bit as intelligent: quit talking to me like Iím some dim little tootsie.) Do I know where the P.O. book is? (No: Iíve never even seen it.) Can I start issuing P.O. numbers when the guys buy equipment? (Apparently itís too much of an imposition for precious Kelli.) Why hasnít Carlene been receiving the guysí time sheets? (Because no one ever said a word about it to me.) Carlene will be coming to Seattle next week for a training session with Maureen and I. (Oh goody. Can we have cookies and Hi-C afterwards?) I should be happy that Iím finally getting some new job responsibilities ... Iím way way WAY overdue for a payraise, and having more to do will pave the way for me asking. But in my present frame of mind everything feels like just so much irritating bullshit.

 

Thursday noon
April 7, 1994

Iíve decided to start using the home p.c. for journal-writing again ... will try to at least peck out a few lines every other day or so.

Iím home today. I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning with the most excruciating toothache of my life, and I wound up calling the Answering Service, asking them to tell Bob I wouldnít be in. Itís the second time this week that Iíve called in sick & Iím sort of worried about that, but I didnít really have a choice. Ray is taking me to the dentist in an hour. I havenít been to a dentist since I was fifteen years old and Iím scared shitless. More later.

4 p.m.

Well ... I survived the ordeal. Dr. Singh looked at my broken molar and my x-ray and said I had two choices: extraction or root canal. Some choices. I decided it was probably better to try and save the tooth so I opted for the root canal. He did the preliminary work this afternoon (and yes, it hurt), and then I go back on the 16th to finish it up.

Now comes the really hard part ... calling the office. Between the penicillin and the vicodin Iíll probably be able to work tomorrow, although it would be reeeally nice if Bob says I donít have to.

5:40 p.m.

Bob used that nicey-nice tone of voice Iíve come to know so well ... the same voice he uses when heís talking to annoying vendors and people of little importance on the phone. "Hope youíre feeling better!" he chirped. "Let me know if you canít make it in tomorrow." Frankly, at this point I donít know if Iíll go in or not: it depends on whether or not I get any sleep tonight. My molar is already starting to ache again in spite of the two and a half pain pills Iíve taken since I got home. Ray was talking to our next door neighbor Betty a while ago, and when he told her Iíd had a root canal she said, "Itís probably going to REALLY start to hurt in a few hours." Swell.

 

Friday afternoon
April 8, 1994

I ended up staying home again today; I didnít sleep much last night, and when I finally woke up (at 1 p.m.!) the whole left side of my face ached, right down to the bone. I got up briefly around 7:30, long enough to call the A.S. and say that Iíll be in on Monday for sure, but I havenít spoken to anyone at work all day. Hope I still have a job when I go back on Monday (she said only partially in jest) ...

Starting to worry about money again, for the first time in over a year. Our savings account has dwindled down to practically nothing, and Iím using petty cash just to survive this weekend: major case of guilt over THAT.

Long, broke, boring weekend ahead. I took a couple of my pain pills a while ago, and theyíve given me a nice mellow buzz: now Iím sitting in my bedroom, cleaning out my drawers and watching afternoon TV. Frozen pizza and HBO tonight, probably. Not exactly our usual Friday night routine, but Iíll probably thank myself tomorrow morning.

 

Saturday afternoon
April 16, 1994

A week later. Ray and Kyle are out in Bellevue, mowing the folksí lawn and visiting with Sheryl and her kids ... Jamie, Kacie and I just got home from an exhausting trip to the laundromat. Eight laundry loads and fifteen bucks later (including the food and snacks we picked up at Safeway), I am home. Iíve kicked off my shoes, put some potatoes in the oven to roast, thrown one load of laundry into the dryer and poured myself a glass of white wine. Whew.

Itís one of those hot, hazy days where the air feels as thick as pudding. "Perfect hay fever weather," I commented to the girls as we were driving home. Iím just as stuffed up and itchy as I was three months ago ... when is this blasted allergy season going to end?? I donít remember it ever being as bad as itís been this year. Every single morning I wake up so congested it takes at least an hour before I can breathe.

 

Sunday afternoon
April 17

Just cleaned out the fridge ... an unspeakably disgusting job. When I pulled out the vegetable drawers I found enough mold on the bottom of the fridge to open my open penicillin factory. I rarely feel like cleaning on the weekends, so when the urge hits I run with it.

I finished the autobio on Friday, by the way, and I am so pleased. Iíve been working on it, on and off, for almost five months. Itís been worth all the work: the finished product is beautiful. As I commented in my "Forewords" (sic), itís not an especially flattering account of my life. I come off sounding stupid, self-involved and irresponsible in a lot of places. But I thought that if Iím going to write the thing, I might as well be honest. I even saved two copies of it on floppies, so if something happens to the print versions Iíll have a back-up of the text. Now Iím going to start on the kidsí Memory Book. It wonít be nearly as much work as the life story ... mostly just typing and printing. I had it 3/4 finished last fall when the office got broken into, so all Iíve got to do is re-type and put some photos in it.

If anything bothers me about the autobio and the Memory Book, itís knowing that in six months or a year my techniques & the equipment I used will seem obsolete to me. (Photocopying in black and white, for instance.) Will I want to do the whole thing over again?

 

Monday just home from work
April 18, 1994

Iíve had a bordering-on-lousy day. Nothing specific ... another rotten cold/hay fever brewing, PMS, cold sores on the side of my mouth, toothache, headache. Carlene called and announced that I have to go out in the warehouse this week and sort phones for repair. Thereís something like five million of them out there, thrown into haphazard piles. Just how exactly am I supposed to sort them - by color??

Ray and the kids are biting at each other. Dinner looks like a hundred years away, and when it does get here it wonít be worth the wait. Maureen came into the office this afternoon and drove me crazy: yackety yak yak yak. She reminds me of my cousin Chellaigne, for some reason.

 

Thursday
April 21, 1994

This week is dragging by unbelievably slowly ... and what makes it even more painful is that Iím not particularly looking forward to the weekend. Weíll be broke and stuck at home: by Sunday night weíll be ready to kill each other.

Yesterday was Rayís 39th birthday. To describe the festivities as "low key" would be exaggerating: I baked him a cake, we gave him a card, I picked up some cheap Taco Time. The End. Ray has been mildly depressed all week, and I think it has as much to do with turning 39 as anything else.

 

Tuesday evening
April 26, 1994

Cold, rainy and alone. Jamie and the kids are at her softball game (why havenít they called it off? Itís pouring!) and Ray has gone to do some laundry for me. Iím home from my first dentist appointment with Dr. Stephens, still feeling numb and shaky. He tried to do something with that top molar on the left side, but he had to give up finally ... he said he sees a tooth that sensitive about once a month. He wound up putting some kind of medicine in it to kill the roots, and Iíll go back in two weeks so he can try the root canal again. All he gave me were six measly pain pills: I just took three of them, hoping itíll deaden the pain enough to get me through the night. If it still hurts tomorrow Iím going to call and beg for a bigger prescription. No way I can miss work tomorrow, anyway ... itís pay day, after ten of the brokest days of my life, and I need that money. Even if most of it is spent already, anyway ...

... Besides, tomorrow is "National Secretaries Day." Before I left for the dentist this afternoon I sent Bob a page: "Closing the office. Donít forget: tomorrow is Natíl Secretaries Day! See you. Terri." Should be interesting to see if he acknowledges the day in any way. What would REALLY be nice would be a raise, of course, but Iíd settle for flowers ... candy ... a vacation ...

Gotta go work on the tacos. Later.

 

Thursday night
April 28, 1994

Harrowing day, finally winding to a close. Money is all I can think about. I was so happy when I got up this morning and counted what was left from yesterdayís paycheck ... somehow I had $150 more than I thought I did. I thought it was a gift from the gods - until the bank called me this afternoon. Because of a stupid error on my part when I was filling out my deposit slip yesterday, I ended up not putting the $200 into the checking account I thought I was depositing. The long & short of it is I have about a hundred dollars to last me for two weeks ... including Kyleís birthday next Wednesday & the school carnival next weekend. That, and some money in petty cash at the office. If I stretch I might make it, but Iím still worried. Tonight I am overtaken by this frenzied need to economize. Iíve been making lists on the computer of ways to cut expenses, everything from hand-washing our clothes to checking out videos from the library (instead of renting them from the video store). The kids are poking fun at me: they think Iím going overboard. But the fact is that Iíve been stupid and careless this past year and now weíre in a bad way because of it. Iím just furious with myself. Iíve wasted my inheritance from Grandma and now weíve lost our safety net. I MUST FIND SOME WAY TO FIX THIS.

 

Saturday 11:30 a.m.
May 7, 1994

Feels like summer today ... sunny and hot, and it isnít even noon yet. Kacie and Kyle were next door at Bettyís a while ago, splashing around in the wading pool with Heather and Caressa. Thatís how warm it is already. (Betty is having a garage sale today: the kids have been sneaking over there, buying me Motherís Day presents for tomorrow.) Ray is working, Jamie is at Nicoleís. I woke up at 8 a.m. when the phone rang - my mother, saying it was OK for Ray to borrow the lawnmower - and just decided Heck with it, Iíll stay up. I can always sleep in tomorrow. I was a "good girl" last night (read that: no wine) and my reward is feeling good today.

So far Iíve made breakfast for Kyle, Kacie and me, cleaned up the kitchen, finished half the living room and folded the last load of laundry. I still want to clean up my bedroom, which is a pigpen, and then Iíll spend the afternoon as I please ... probably working on the kidsí Memory Book out here in my office.

Kyleís birthday was on Wednesday ... eight years old. Since weíve managed to screw up our finances so thoroughly this month, it was a real scramble affording gifts for him. Ray got him a new game for his Sega, something about Ren & Stimpy; I went on my lunch hour and got him some clothes, a squirt gun and some markers. (Standard Kyle gifts!) We let him open his presents while Kacie was at gymnastics, and then when she got home we had cake and ice cream. He seemed satisfied with everything. Of course Iím just relieved that the birthdays are over with. Seven whole months until the next one rolls around. Yay.

Things are beginning to heat up around here, and I donít just mean the weather. This last week was a flurry of activity, and the next couple of weeks promise to be even more so. Jamieís dance recitals are next Monday & Wednesday, Kacie has a gymnastics mini-meet on Wednesday, Jamie is still in the middle of softball season, and the week after next she goes to Waskowitz with her class.

 

Monday 5:00
May 9, 1994

I am home from my lovely root canal.

Now I realize that the last three dentist appointments werenít actual, full, total root canals. They were just warm-ups for today. This was the real thing, folks ... needles and drills and lots & lots of scraping, and - the most fun of all - the "hot glue gun" to solder the works. God. The entire right side of my mouth is throbbing. Naturally I was given a mini-prescription for six pain pills, three of which I have already taken. (This dentist is so fucking stingy with prescriptions: I hate it.) Now I have two weeks to contemplate my next appointment.

7:40 p.m.

I typed four or five more paragraphs to this journal entry but forgot to save them ... just got home from dropping the girls off, retrieved this document & realized Iíd screwed up. Now I have to try and remember what I wrote about.

Tonight is Jamieís dance recital, for one thing: she has another one on Wednesday, which is the one Iíll be attending. She was very nervous when I dropped her off at McMicken ... so much so, in fact, that she forgot a prop for one of her dances and I had to make a second trip to take it to her. Kacie is at gymnastics class; Kyle is outside knocking the basketball around; Ray has just come home from putting gas in his car.

Yesterday was Motherís Day. I slept until 11:00, and when I got up the kids had my breakfast sitting on the coffee table ... leftover Breakfast Scramble from the day before, a piece of toast and coffee. They showered me with gifts and cards, of course: thanks to Bettyís garage sale I am now the proud owner of a papier mache box (blue w/pink flowers) filled with sachet, a miniature doll and a cookbook! Later in the day, Dad and Valerie stopped by briefly to drop off a belated b.day gift for Kyle, a bank filled with change. Jamie had softball practice (Kacie went with her to watch) and Ray went out to Bellevue to mow the folksí lawn, so except for Kyle (who was busy playing Sega anyway) I was pretty much alone all afternoon. I printed some things off the computer, taped some library music, and made a big chicken fried steak dinner for everybody. All in all, a nice low-key Motherís Day, just the way I like it.

 

100 THINGS THAT ARE WORRYING ME/BOTHERING ME/UPSETTING ME/
MAKING ME GUILTY/MAD/FRUSTRATED

1. My desk is littered with cassette tapes, garbage and cigarette ashes, and my keyboard has something black smeared all over it.

2. My mouth hurts from yesterdayís endontist appointment (especially from the shots of Novocain) and Ray just said "Well, I canít do anything about it."

3. The kitchen floor is sticky and gross.

4. Jamie is at Waskowitz for the entire week: the house will be a disaster by then.

5. My gas tank is empty.

6. I probably have to go do laundry tonight ... at least six fucking loads.

7. Randy embarrassed me in front of Bob, J.C. and Bud this afternoon: "Terri, would you start putting Better Sound mail on my desk?" Iíve been putting it on Bobís because Randyí desk is a mess & I was afraid it would get lost.

8. My period is due any second.

9. I havenít had a decent haircut in a year and my hair looks witchy, stringy and awful.

10. Brian was a testy asshole on the phone for most of the day.

11. The only money I have is $200 from the office petty cash.

12. I spent my inheritance.

13. The kitchen sink faucet doesnít work properly.

14. I have no washing machine.

15. My car is an ugly third-rate piece of shit but Iíll never be able to afford anything better.

16. Iím thirty pounds overweight.

17. The Big Gulp I bought on the way home tastes watery.

18. I have a headache.

19. Some of my library stuff is overdue.

20. None of my friends are speaking to me.

21. My life sucks.

22. Ray looks grumpy, tired and put-upon.

23. I want to make more money but I donít know how.

24. I have no stamps at the office.

25. Every piece of clothing I own (except for my one & only bra) is from Value Village.

26. My mother thinks Iím having a garage sale in two weeks and she keeps bringing stuff over here, neatly labeled with prices.

27. I canít even come up with 100 things for this list. Fuck it.

 

Wednesday afternoon
May 18, 1994

Two mortifying experiences as I was coming home from work just now.

First, I stopped off at Tomís, to buy a small cold bottle of wine (after ten minutes of internal debate: should I? shouldnít I?). When I got up tot the counter and pulled out my money to pay for it, there was a tampon stuck to the flap of my wallet. Naturally there were a couple of men standing right behind me and they couldnít help but see: I just about died.

Then, when I was taking the detour around 172nd (stupid frigging construction has everything blocked off again), a cop stopped me in the middle of the road ... and thereís me with no driverís license, no insurance, no nothing but a bottle of wine sitting next to me on the front seat. (Unopened, mind you, but itís the thought that counts.) "Maíam," he said sternly, "I donít even need a radar gun to tell that you were going 35 down this street." I was absolutely paralyzed with fear, but I tried to stay cool. I apologized and said I was going straight home. "Donít worry about going straight home, worry about slowing DOWN," he said, and he let me go. I started to cry when I drove away from him. I felt so stupid, like a little unloved kid. The really irritating thing about this is that just this morning I was thinking, "I need to be really careful about driving today." I just had this feeling I was going to bump into a cop, but by this afternoon Iíd completely forgotten about my "hunch." Figures.

Fate is conspiring to keep me in a perpetual bad mood this week, I think. Right before I got to Tomís I was actually feeling pretty good ... the radio played two great "driving songs" in a row ("Da Doo Ray Ray" and "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye"), the wind was blowing my hair around, I was through with an especially grueling day at the office. I hate to say this but I donít always look forward to coming home anymore ... the house is usually a mess, thereís dinner to cook, Ray and the girls get into a screaming match every single night ... but for about five minutes I was in something approaching a good mood. Now, forget about it. Kacie wants to go to the library tonight, and Iíve been promising her all week that I would take her out for a milkshake. When I walked through the door a few minutes ago she was already looking at me with big expectant eyes. Itís obvious that she has knocked herself out this afternoon, cleaning up the house ... the scent of Clorox bleach hit me before I even got through the door. She cleaned the sticky floors, folded laundry, vacuumed, the works, all in an effort to please me (and her Dad). The selfish tired grumpy part of me would like to curl up on the sofa with a glass of wine and the newspaper and do nothing for the rest of the evening: the selfless Mommy in me knows better.

Ray and Kacie got into an especially nasty fight last night, typically right before bed. Now that Jamie is gone all week to Camp Waskowitz - sheís Rayís usual "target" - he has decided to turn his nightly frustration on Kacie. First, he walked into the girlsí bedroom and he started making snotty comments about how messy her room is. "This place is a fire hazard!" he growled, and he started throwing things around. I literally shut the bedroom door in his face. A few minutes later he was on her about the dishes. Heíd gone to fix himself a glass of milk and found one of the cups sheíd washed was still dirty. In a rage, he threw it on the floor and started yelling at her. Kacie came apart completely. The yelling and the hostilities escalated until I couldnít stand it anymore. I went into the bedroom and glared at him in a cold fury. "You are too hard on Kacie," I said. "If you donít knock it off, sheís going to stop loving you." The problem here is that while Jamie can usually take her Dadís wildly erratic moods and pointless temper tantrums - she gives it right back in kind - Kacie canít. Sheís simply not equipped emotionally. I donít think Ray understands that. I do think, however, that what I said got to him. Apparently he came home from work today and apologized to her, AND he complimented her on how nice the house looks. So peace reigneth temporarily in Polenville.

Iím going through a tough time emotionally right now, myself. The past couple of weeks Iíve had a lot on my mind. I want to write about it but I can never find the time, the motivation or the words. Mostly Iím just disgusted with myself for the way we managed to go through my inheritance money. It was so nice having that "safety net," the past few months, and now itís gone. I shudder to think what would happen if even one more piece of bad luck falls our way ... my car breaks down, the Johnsons ask us to move, Ray or I lose our job. We would be sunk. I have no one to blame but myself, so Iím turning all my anger and worry inward.

Funnily enough, the one "island" of peace I find in my life right now is my job. At least at the office I find privacy, quiet, order, things to do, and (occasionally) a little respect. Yesterday I found a phone number for Bob (Edwin & Audio Systems East) that heíd been looking everywhere for, and when he called he said "Good work." I glowed from that one compliment for the rest of the day. If I can just keep from fucking up this job, maybe Grandmaís money wasnít all spent in vain.

 

Monday morning
May 23, 1994

This is rapidly turning into one of the crappier days Iíve had lately ...

Last night was one of "those" Sunday nights in Polenville, the first such night weíve had in ages. Ray slept until 1:00 in the afternoon, then got up and promptly started drinking one beer after another. By the time we ate dinner at 8 p.m. (barbecued ribs and chicken, macaroni salad, baked beans) he was drunk and ready to fight about something ... anything. In this case, he decided to throw a tantrum because I gave Kyle the last little shitty piece of frozen corn on the cob. "I would have like some corn," he hissed, and then he jumped in his car without saying anything to anybody and went to the store to buy himself three ears of corn. When he got back, the kids and I were done eating & we were watching "Murder She Wrote." He started slamming things around and muttering under his breath. "Wish I could watch TV," he snapped. It went on like this for some time while I sat on the sofa, fighting back tears. Kyle came over and snuggled next to me, laying his head on my shoulder: that simple act of kindness did me in, and I started crying uncontrollably. Before Ray went to bed he apologized to everybody for being "grumpy," and I let it pass, but the truth is that Iím getting pretty fucking fed up with the girls & I being the targets for Rayís bad moods every night. I woke up this morning feeling puffy and sad from last nightís tears.

My period has been threatening to start for over a week now, and the delay is making me horribly tense, irritable and uncomfortable. I completely blew up at the girls this morning before I left for work: I couldnít seem to find anything (my watch, my good hairbrush, a decent pair of knee-hiís, my sunglasses) and I threw a screaming fit, slamming drawers shut and kicking things and yelling my dumb premenstrual head off. Everyone was crying when I left the house, including me. By the time I got to work Iíd calmed down a little ... the sight of my neat, tidy, organized little office (I did a bunch of cleaning before I left last Friday) was like a tonic for my frazzled nerves. The perfect antidote to my messy, smelly, tacky house. Itís supposed to get up into the 80ís this afternoon, but I know as long as I keep the office door open & the lights turned off, itíll stay wonderfully cool and pleasant in here. "Maybe this wonít be a complete stinkeroo of a day, after all" I thought to myself, as I munched on a breakfast sandwich (bought with my last $2 in the universe) and drank a cup of coffee at my desk. I even called the girls at home before they left for school and apologized for being such a witch.

Unfortunately, my almost-good-mood didnít last long. Bob came in for about five minutes, and not only did he not notice how terrific the office looked - I vacuumed under his desk and dusted his picture frames, even - but he was distracted and snappish. Usually he greets me with a cheerful "Hi-Terri-how-are-you?" but today it was, "When did these get here?" he said, referring to Fridayís UPS delivery. He was so aloof, in fact, that Iím sitting here wondering if Iíve done something wrong ... ? Iíll probably be paranoid and nervous all day today as a result, wondering if my job is on the line & I just donít know it yet. Ray Colson noticed that I wasnít completely myself. "Terri, are you in a bad mood?" he asked me, and I admitted that yes, Iíve had better days. I told him it was because my "teeth were hurting me," and he said he would try to get me some Tylenol 3ís today. (I refuse to count on it but it certainly would be nice.) (He never brought them in.)

Anyway. Then June came in with copies of the BNC invoices Iíve been typing for Don M., and the upshot of it is I have to do them all over again. The errors werenít mine - I typed them precisely the way Bob asked me to, and I have his original hand-written copies to prove it - but she still managed to make me feel dopey and slow-witted and responsible for every goof. I was trying very hard to stay calm and pleasant and not let her know how irritated I was, but frankly I donít think I fooled her for an instant: I felt like a petulant little girl, and Iím sure thatís precisely how I came across. Sheís gone now, and Iíve gotten all but one of the invoices re-typed, but this will be one more thing for me to stew about all day.

What else? Oh yes. Brian and Jeff will be coming into the office around noon, according to Jeff. This is definitely one of those days when it would be better for me to be alone as much as possible, but sadly, Ďtis not to be ... I donít even want to go home tonight. If I had any money at all, Iíd go to a late-afternoon movie or something, ANYTHING to postpone the inevitable. Going home is no longer something I look forward to. The minute I walk through the door Iím assaulted by guilt and noise and the smell of cat pee ...

 

Tuesday morning
May 24, 1994

I just got to the office and called my horoscope ... and now I wish I hadnít. Basically it said that everything is going to go wrong today. My boss is going to make me re-do a major project, Ray is going to pick a big fight with me tonight, and my money situation is fucked. "Blame it on the moon!" the recorded voice said happily. Shit. Shit, shit and shit. Why do I call these stupid horoscope lines, anyway? Itís never anything I want to hear, and even though I know itís a lot of hooey, it can still plant the seeds of worry in my heart & screw up an otherwise perfectly normal day ...

The part about my boss having me re-do a project has already come true, anyway: those Moreland invoices that June brought to the office yesterday. The monthly invoices for the lawyer were one thing I felt I was really staying on top of. So it irritates me that they have to be done all over again, and - this irritates me even more, I think - that even though Iím not responsible for the mistakes, it looks like I was. But what can I do?

As for Ray & I getting into a fight, what in the world is new? Lately itís a nightly thing: big deal.

Money is another matter. Iíve been waiting for Carlene to call all morning for everyoneís hours (for payroll), and I still havenít heard from her. Worried. I canít afford a fucked-up paycheck, I really really canít. (Note: I finally took the bull by the horns and called her. From the sounds of it, everything is cool, but I wonít know for sure until I tear open that paycheck envelope tomorrow morning.)

And I am STILL waiting for my period to start. I canít believe this. I know itís coming ... I have a big zit in the middle of my right cheek, and I feel crampy and bloated ... so enough already with prolonging the agony. Letís get the damned thing over with.

Got my new dining table and chairs last night, the set that Mom is selling me for $50. Ray brought it over from her house last night, and it looks great in our dining room. (Itíll look even better when I clean the dining room & buy a new tablecloth and placemats.) Incidentally, Mom will be moving into her new condo within the next week or so. Funny how unemotional I feel about Grandma St. Johnís house being sold ... I havenít had the urge to drive past it, or to visit the place one last time, or anything. No sad, wrenching dreams, either. In my heart, Grandmaís house stopped being "Grandmaís House" the day of her funeral three years ago: that was the last time I saw it looking the way it looked while Grandma was alive. After that it was never the same, especially after Mom moved in & remodeled everything. So maybe Iíve already mourned it & moved on.

5:45 p.m.
Assorted Notes

Stopped at the B.P. Library on the way home, put some CDís and tapes on hold (Chris Rea, Joe Cocker, Peter Himmelman, The Fixx, ĎTil Tuesday) ... postponing the inevitable homecoming, more than anything.

When I was leaving the library I saw two things:

  • A dog with a helium balloon tied around its middle.
  • The reflection of a fat woman with bad hair.

Ray is going to do two loads of laundry at the laundromat: I have been assigned Dinner Preparation. I think fleetingly (longingly) of cleaning my office and my bedroom, but I know I will never summon the energy. I am nothing more than a limp flabby blob of intertia this afternoon.

 

Wednesday lunch hour
May 25, 1994

Well, so I "tore open the envelope" and guess what? My paycheck was $250 shorter than usual. Carlene took out the entire draw after all (rather than spreading it out over two paychecks, like I hoped she would do). Crap. I called Ray at work and let him know. "Hey, theyíre takiní a draw outta my paycheck too," he grumbled. I went and put a measly $150 into the checking account a little while ago, while Ray Colson stayed here in the office and watched the phones. By the time I pay Mom for the dining table and give the kids their allowance, Iíll be back to broke. Crap again.

Another one of those days where my moods keep going up and down, up and down. A few minutes ago I was starting to feel OK. I was still disappointed about the short paycheck, but I told myself Hey, the next check will be great. I ate my chicken salad lunch and started a long-overdue letter to Kathy and actually thought I might get through this day in one piece. And then the mail got here. Why, oh why did I open the S.W. Chamber of Commerce newsletter? The first thing I opened to was a big picture of Phil and Ryan R. accepting an award for "S.W. Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year," for their law practice. Another painful reminder of what could-have-been.

 

MOMíS TEN COMMANDMENTS OF SUMMER

1. NOBODY leaves the house until all chores have been completed. These include:

  • room picked up and vacuumed.
  • Dishes washed & kitchen cleaned up.
  • Floors swept.
  • Special chores for that day finished (bathroom, litter box, etc.)

2. NOBODY leaves the neighborhood unless theyíve checked with Mom first.

3. The gate is to remain locked at all times, especially when the doors are open and Dusty is out.

4. Having friends over is OK as long as your work is done & you check with Mom. Your friends are to stay out of Mom & Dadís room.

5. If you borrow something from my room or my office, I expect it to be returned without me asking. (Hairspray, jewelry, pens, makeup, etc.)

6. Wet towels are to be put in the dryer or hung up immediately after use. Clothes left on the bathroom floor will be confiscated & returned when I feel like returning them.

8. Re-fill the damned ice cube trays when theyíre empty. L

9. Reasonable snacking is OK, but stay out of dinner materials. If youíre not sure about something, call me and ask before you eat it.

10. I expect the three of you to at least make an attempt to get along. Mom has enough to worry about without wondering if youíre killing each other. If there is a problem you canít resolve, call me at work. Live up to the trust I have in you, please.

 

Today is Tuesday. May 31. 1994

It is 1:40 p.m.

The weather is pukey gray and clouded-over but warm. Iím not sure but I think Iím making chicken fajitas for dinner tonight. As usual, that sounds terrible; itís been a long time since Iíve made a dinner that truly turned me on.

What am I craving?

A thick juicy steak with mushrooms, onions and A-1 ...

a baked potato with all the trimmings ...

Chinese food?

KFC BBQ?

 

Tuesday afternoon/early evening
June 28, 1994

This is a pleasant new development ... coming home from work in the afternoon and finding Ray and the kids have gone swimming at Shannon South ... the house is quiet (if not clean), and the only "people" to greet me were our new dog and our newest kitty ...

I am amazed and embarrassed that once again itís been over a month since Iíve made a journal entry. And an eventful month itís been, too: I have a lot of catching up to do here.

Summer is in full swing in Polenville. It was hot yesterday, it was hotter today, itíll probably be hotter tomorrow. Blecchh. I managed to keep the office comfortable all day, thanks to the portable fan. In fact, I almost didnít want to leave work - I knew the drive home & the house would be hot and stuffy. Oh well.

The kids got out of school a week ago. On June 17th (the Friday before they got out), I went and watched Jamie "graduate" from sixth grade ... a sweet and touching ceremony. Jamie picked out her graduation dress herself (and bought it with her own money) -- a simple little black dress with white buttons running down the front. In her nylons and her low-heeled black pump & her immaculate (as always) hair, she looked very grown-up. I watched her up on the stage with her classmates and marveled at how poised and self-possessed she was, especially compared to the other sixth grade girls, who seemed almost comically gawky and self-conscious. Jamie won several special awards, and I was as proud of her as Iíve ever been of anyone in my life.

Report cards were all good, although Kyle was undeniably the scholastic star of the family this year: he got the second-grade equivalent of straight Aís.

Iím still waiting to see how things work out, leaving the kids home alone all summer. Itís not an ideal situation, by any means, but I donít have a lot of choices. The only real problems so far are that the house is never cleaned to my satisfaction, and the girls keep getting into my stuff (jewelry, makeup, etc.) while Iím gone. But these are minor glitches, and otherwise itís working out OK so far. This is their vacation, after all. If I wanted slaves I could probably go out and hire some.

Jamie leaves a week from today for Camp Cedar Springs, and the week after that itís Kacieís turn. Last weekend I gave them each $40 and turned them loose at Southcenter so they could buy their camp supplies. I think theyíre about half-packed already.

And yes, you heard me correctly ... we have a new cat and a new dog. We ended up keeping one of Gillieís kittens from her March litter, a white female weíve named "Gabby." Sheís one of the sweeter kitties weíve ever had. And then two weeks ago, Ray went and brought home a dog ... a four yr. old cocker spaniel named "Dusty." (His owners, an older couple, felt he needed a family with children.) Every fiber of my being was screaming "NO! NO DOGS!!!" when Ray first proposed adopting Dusty, but heís a sweet, dumb, harmless doggy and heís managed to insinuate himself into our hearts. He doesnít poop on the rug and he doesnít chew up the sofa cushions ... his only annoying habits are barking at people when they come through the door, following us everywhere we go, and eating plastic Frisbees. It could be worse.

Iíve taken on a second job, sort of ... Iím now Don's "unofficial secretary" and graphic designer. Heís started his own credit consulting business, and as a favor I made him some business cards and letterhead to get him started. He liked them so much that now heís commissioning me to design business cards for his friends. Iíve made cards for five or six people so far. Don also has me doing some typing and invoicing for him, plus I have to check the messages on his answering machine for him every day.

 

August 8, 1994
Monday lunch time

Sad to say, this summer will likely go down in memory as "The Summer Without a Journal" ...

I donít know how or why it happened but I seem to have lost all heart for journal writing. At least once or twice a day I think about sitting down and writing something on the computer, either here at work or at home - but I just canít make myself do it. Itís not that I donít have anything to write about; this has been as quietly eventful a summer as any in recent memory. And itís not for lack of opportunity; I am always sitting in front of a computer. So I have no excuse. I know Iíll be sorry some day. In a few years Iíll look back at this gaping hole in my life history and wish Iíd been self-disciplined enough to at least pop out a paragraph or two once in a while, while the kids are still young & our lives are fairly newsworthy. "What in the world happened to the summer of í94?!" I can hear myself muttering as I leaf through this patchy, piecemeal excuse for a journal. "There are three whole months missing!" And Iíll wish I could come back in time and give myself a good swift kick in my sedentary unmotivated butt.

Sigh.

It would take me the rest of the afternoon to catch you upon on everything that has happened in Polenville this summer ... so Iím not going to try. Iím not even going to promise to "turn over a new leaf" ("From this day forward I promise to write TEN PAGES A DAY!"). All Iím going to do is tap out a couple of quick paragraphs on this overcast August afternoon ... a brief summary of our lives today ... and try to be content with that. The old "god enough is good enough" affirmation. And if I like the way it turns out, who knows? Maybe thereíll be another couple of paragraphs tomorrow, and some more the next day. Or maybe not. Weíll see.

Kacie is spending the week with her grandparents in Bellevue. When Peg & Don came and picked her up on Saturday she was running a fever & threatening to throw up (as she walked out the door I discreetly handed her a plastic grocery bag); apparently she spent most of the weekend sleeping in her grandmotherís bed. She called me here at work a couple of hours ago, though, and she sounded a lot better. Kyle spent last week with the grandparents -- they took him everywhere & bought him everything in the universe & waited on him hand and foot -- and now itís Kacieís turn. I just hope she feels well enough to enjoy it.

Jamieís turn to stay with Peg & Don is next week, and she doesnít want to go. She has her first boyfriend this summer (a little smartass named Dennis who calls me "Mama P." on the phone: I like this kid!) and a social life to rival Princess Diís, and the thought of being away from her friends (and her telephone, and her babysitting job) for a whole week is a fate worse than death. I still havenít decided whether or not we should force her to go. Earlier this summer she finked out on camp at the last minute ... her grandparents had paid her way to Cedar Springs, and at the eleventh hour she decided she didnít want to go ... and now part of me thinks it would be healthy for her to spend some time in Bellevue. She wonít like the idea. Sheíll cry and swear at me and slam doors and pout until she leaves, and then when sheís at her grandparents sheíll probably mope around their house. But I canít help it ... the "mom" in me worries that Iím not doing her any favors, letting her off the hook all the time. Once in a while she should have to do something she doesnít really want to do, like spending some time with her grandparents. Itís character building. Right?

 

Tuesday afternoon, 3 p.m.
August 9, 1994

An interminably long day, still dragging on ...

Iíve been trying to be in a good mood for days, but life keeps kicking me in the teeth. Right now Iím sitting here at my computer at work, fighting back tears. It seems like no matter what I do, somebody is unhappy with me: I canít win.

Peg called last night and coldly informed me that Kacie was still "very sick" and needed to see a doctor right away. Sheís been running a fever since Friday, hasnít eaten anything in three days and does nothing but sleep. The implication in Pegís voice was clear - You and Ray never should have sent Kacie to stay with us in the first place. Peg wanted to bring Kacie home right then & there and have me take her to the doctor. When I explained that the doctorís office closed at 5:00 (this was 7:30 or so), she said she would bring Kacie home in the morning. I had to call the doctorís answering service and speak to the doctor on call, who basically didnít tell us anything new ... give her Tylenol & lots of liquids, keep her quiet, etc. Dr. Kayís office would open at 7:30 a.m. and we could bring her in. My problem, of course, was how to get her to the doctor? Neither Ray nor I can take any time off this week: for me, it would be tantamount to kissing my job goodbye. Frantically I called my mom and asked if she could take Kacie to the doctor in the morning, and she said no problem. I called Peg back & relayed all this information to her, but I was so angry with my mother-in-law when I got off the phone last night I could barely speak. Why was she making such a big fucking deal out of Kacieís annual summer flu? If she would just give Kacie a decent dose of Tylenol every four hours, instead of the little baby doses sheís been giving her, Kacie would have kicked this by now. And why was Peg deliberately trying to make me feel guilty and inadequate? I thought weíd moved past this kind of crap years ago.

Peg & my mother took Kacie to Dr. Kayís this morning at 10 a.m. The diagnosis? A kidney infection. Jesus. Mom called me with the news right after the doctorís appointment. (Kacie, in the meantime, has gone back to Bellevue with Peg. More on this in a moment.) The summer heat, too much physical exertion and not enough liquids are to blame -- at least, at this point, thatís what they think. The doctor took a culture & I have to call his office in two days: thatís when weíll know for sure what weíre dealing with. In the meantime they gave Kacie an enormous shot in the behind and prescribed sulfa drugs and Extra-Strength Tylenol. (The one and only gratifying moment of this whole fucked day was when Mom said Dr. Kay told Peg she wasnít giving Kacie large enough doses of Tylenol. I feel at least somewhat vindicated.)

I just spoke to Kacie on the phone a few minutes ago and it broke my heart. I HATE THE FACT THAT SHEíS SICK & I CANíT BE WITH HER.

 

August 10, 1994
Wednesday afternoon

Just home from work (the hot temperatures are back, after several days of lovely cool & overcast weather), and nobody else is home! Kacie is still in Bellevue - I havenít talked to her yet today - Jamie is over swimming at Dennisí apartment, and Ray & Kyle (I presume) are at Shannon South. Bliss. Iíve poured myself a rum and Coke and Iím going to enjoy having the house to myself for a little bit.

You know, I remember now that I did write a couple of journal entries this summer, after all ... but theyíre locked away in my old computer, which is sitting at present in the garage, unplugged and abandoned. I am now the proud owner of an IBM PS/1 computer, complete with Windows (but no Word 6.0 yet - Iím still waiting for Jeff to bring me the software at work) AND a Hewlett-Packard Desk Jet 550C color printer!!! Don found them for me, after I remarked on day that it would be a lot easier to get out graphics business off the ground if I had some "decent equipment" here at home. Within days heíd brought me the printer. We hooked it up to the old computer & it worked great, but I still needed a better computer so I could run Windows & Print Shop Deluxe. The first computer he brought me was totally useless - I had him take it back after a couple of days - but then he brought me the PS/1. It already had Windows 3.1 loaded onto it, and I was in heaven ... until I tried to load it with some of my own software and wiped everything out. Ray & Thelma worked on it for a couple of days, trying to get it running, but it seems I had pretty effectively fucked it up. Finally, Ray had to take everything off and re-load Windows, so I could start all over again. I brought the computer home, turned it on and played with it for about 15 minutes last Friday ... and screwed it up again! I was unbelievably pissed and embarrassed, but Ray and Thelma were really nice about it and re-loaded it for me one more time. Itís working just fine now, and youíd better believe Iím not going to do anything to goof it up again. I hope. Anyway, those other journal entries are locked inside the old computer. I hope to retrieve & print them eventually - Iím thinking about setting up the old computer in one of the kidsí bedrooms - but in the meantime Iíve got to try and remember what I wrote about.

One thing I know I wrote about, and which I should now mention, is the animal population in Polenville. When summer began we had three cats -- Sabrina, Gillie, and one of her kittens from the March litter, a sweet little white female named Gabby -- and a dog, a four yr. old cocker spaniel named Dusty (who Ray brought home one night unannounced, after he saw an ad at Tomís). As of today we are down to two pets: Brina and Gabby. To make a long and painful story sort, Ray accidentally ran over and killed Gillie two weekends ago. He was going to the store on Sunday morning and he hit her with my car. The real tragedy is that she was just about to give birth to her second litter of kittens. I took it very hard -- Gillie was "my" kitty, and I loved her a lot -- and Ray was devastated. Weíre still sort of working through out grief. (Iím just SO THANKFUL now that we kept one of her kittens. At the time I was very apathetic about the idea, but Iím glad now.) As for Dusty, we took him back to his original owners last weekend. After two months of trying to get him to calm down & be less aggressive (especially towards the neighbors and to anyone who came through the door), weíd had enough. I never wanted a dog in the first place, but I still feel bad when I think about Dusty. He was a nice little doggy and he deserved better than us, I think.

Next week I "celebrate" one full year at BNC Telephone. Hard to believe that entire year has come and gone. I still like my job as much as I ever did, but after a year itís safe to say the honeymoon is over. Brian and Bob still have a tendency to treat me like Iím a little bit stupid, I still havenít gotten a payraise, and any time I make the slightest "goof" I worry that my job is in jeopardy. I still canít stand Kelli in Spokane. And some of the people on the phone can really raise my hackles. If one of the guys doesnít return a phone call or a page IMMEDIATELY, the customer assumes itís because I havenít given them the message. These minor irritations aside, itís a fine job for me - lots of alone time - and Iíd like to think that come this time next year, Iíll be "celebrating" two years at BNC.

I have a vacation coming, by the way. The week of August 29th, if all goes according to plan. Eleven whole days!! I canít wait.

Well, Iím now out of cigarettes. Should I get back in the car & drive down to Trailer Town?

 

Wednesday evening
August 31, 1994

Warm summer day, gradually turning into a warm (but cloudy) summer evening ... smells of blueberry pie baking in the oven and freshly laundered clothes in the dryer ... KMTT on the radio. Ray and Kyle are swimming, Jamie is babysitting, Kacie is in the living room watching "Rookie of the Year" for the millionth time this summer.

Iím in the fifth day of my vacation, and Iím fairly happy: I got a lot done today. The house is clean (except, as always, for The Bowels of Hell ... Kyleís room), my paycheck has been safely cashed and stashed away in my purse, things feel temporarily under control. Were that it were always thus.

 

Thursday noon
September 1, 1994

"Were that it were always thus"?!?!? What a joke. Try, "were that it were thus for longer than fifteen minutes" ...

Right after I wrote the serene journal entry above, things all went to pieces on me. I was served with papers (Highline Hospital is suing Ray & I), Ray came home from the pool drunk & goofy, and Don called and asked if his girlfriendís five year old daughter Katy could spend the night. That kid is hell on wheels - a brat of the first order - but I said OK, only if Don paid me in advance (he did, but not much). My nice clean house was history in no time flat. Jazzmine cam and picked up her daughter early this morning, thank God, but now Iím in the middle of cleaning Kyleís room - Iíve been at it for two hours - and I am not exaggerating when I say it is the filthiest, most disgusting mess Iíve ever cleaned in my life. As always, cleaning his bedroom seems to make the rest of the house fall apart. Iíve already dragged out four huge garbage bags full of crap, thereís laundry piled to the ceiling out here in my office and Iím in a grouchy mood. Grrrr.

 

Monday afternoon
September 5, 1994

Well, itís over, folks ... my lovely wonderful vacation ends today. Tomorrow itís back to the salt mines. If it werenít for the thought of getting up at 5:30 a.m., I wouldnít mind it so much ...

Quietly busy afternoon. Ray and Kyle are school clothes shopping (oops, amend that; they just got back) - Kacie is at Wild Waves with her friend Brianna - Jamie is cleaning her room. Iím spending my last vacation day frying chicken, doing laundry, sipping hot sweet tea, ironing, cleaning out the Thelmobile and trying to repair my computer. I accidentally fucked it up again yesterday, trying to put the USA Atlas program, and although Iíve managed to get it running again there are still a few kinks I canít seem to work out. (All my good fonts are missing from Word 6.0, and thereís something wrong with the new Print Shop Deluxe Companion I just bought & installed a few days ago.)

 

Saturday
September 10, 1994

I was so happy when I woke up this morning and realized it was Saturday ... the sun was shining after a long night of rain, and everything smelled fresh and clean ... I went to sleep early last night and got a good nightís sleep ... the whole day stretched out in front of me, to spend as I please ... why canít these good happy feelings ever last??? I was cuddling with Kyle, watching cartoons and drinking coffee, when I saw a bug wiggling in his messy hair. Another goddamned flea was my first thought, but on closer inspection I discovered (to my horror) that his scalp was COVERED with bugs, big flat ugly bugs with transparent bodies and wings: head lice. Shit. I immediately sent him into the shower, and then I doused him with a bottle of lice rinse that weíd saved from a few years ago, and I sprayed things with the lice spray, and now Iím washing his bedding and his clothes. Weíre probably OK for now, and neither one of the girls seem to have it yet, but I know weíre not past the worst. Iíve got to wait until I get paid on Wednesday before I can get some more shampoo and a nit comb and some more spray. I just pray that no one at school notices before I can do a more thorough job of eradicating the little fuckers.

Oh well. At least itís Saturday.

Going back to work on Tuesday, after my long lovely vacation, was much harder than I thought it would be. In fact this was probably one of the worst weeks Iíve ever spent at BNC Telephone. Bob was on a rampage all week and more than once I found myself on the receiving end of his bad mood. To make things worse, Ray was home all week - this was his vacation week - so coming home each night was no picnic.

 

Tuesday morning
September 27, 1994

If itís true what they say - that youíre as old as you feel - then I must be about three thousand years old.

I have spent the past week and a half struggling not to feel old ... tired ... sad ... weighted down. But itís all been uphill. Every time I turn around, SOMEBODY is mad at me about something: my jerk of a boss, my even bigger jerk of a husband, my kids, Don, my co-workers, my friends, my in-laws, Bob collectors, total strangers, drivers in the car behind me ... I keep trying to be all things to all people, and I wind up being nothing to anyone.

Iím alone in the office for a few precious minutes this morning, thank God. Bob was here for a while, but ever since our horrible "talk" last Thursday* itís been hard for me to be in the same room with him: Iím afraid Iím going to slip and let him see how FURIOUS I am with him. So itís a relief when he finally goes sprinting out the office door, saying "Terri-Iíll-be-at-Siemens-all-day." Unfortunately, now Brian is on his way to the office, so my alone-time today will be pitifully brief.

(*I asked for a raise, and instead I was told that customers and co-workers were "complaining" about the way I answer the phone. Which is complete & utter nonsense, of course - the phone is what I do BEST. This is just Bobís way of getting out of giving me more money. I sat here at my desk and wept for an entire day ... it was a nightmare.)

Sunny morning. Weíre having our annual beginning-of-autumn heatwave this week: 81 degrees yesterday, even hotter today. Naturally Iím looking forward to the real fall weather ... sweater and mitten mornings, icy evenings in front of the woodstove, long afternoon rainstorms ... beef stew, simmering at home in the crockpot all day ... Iíve had enough summer to last me a lifetime, thank you very much. Bring on the frost.

 

Wednesday
October 5, 1994

When did my life get so complicated? How did it happen? All of a sudden Iím so stressed I can barely think. My life is a mess. I mean it. My teeth ache all day long, and Iíve finally realized itís because Iím grinding them all the time, without even noticing it. My house looks like crap. The kids are living their lives without me. I look like shit because Iím not sleeping, Iím not eating well, and Iím constantly trying to juggle the needs of other people ahead of my own. Somethingís got to give. I just hope it isnít my sanity.

Don is starting to drive me insane, for one thing. One thousand carbon business forms in one day?? Out of this little dinky office, with Bob and Brian sitting in the very next room for hours on end? I donít think so. Speaking of Bob and Brian ... I WISH THEY WOULD LEAVE!!!!! Itís 1:30 now and theyíve been here forever. Brian especially is making me nuts. Lately heís been coming into the office around 10:00 or so every day and spending two or three hours hunched over paperwork, making phone calls, eating his lunch, etc. etc. I canít do any of the Olympia & Associates work while heís here, of course. And now Bob has started coming in more frequently, too, and he and Brian sit in Bobís office with the doors shut (blocking my way to he bathroom & the coffee & the fridge) and gab for hours and hours. By the time they finally leave, around 2 or 2:30 (if Iím lucky) that leaves me just two hours to run off 1,000 carbon sets, CUT them all, GLUE them all, invoice them and get them into a box. Shit.

I feel like Iím going to burst into tears, just thinking about it. Whatís equally distressing is knowing that Iíve got to do it all over again tomorrow. FUCK. How did I get myself into this, anyway? When we first started out I was designing business cards for some of his friends, a few at a time: now all of a sudden heís demanding thousands and thousands of copies of business forms, and he wants them RIGHT NOW. My teeth are beginning to ache again.

 

Thursday morning
October 6, 1994

Yesterday was a phenomenally stressful day: I donít recall ever having one like it. Brian and Bob sat here and dinked around in the office until FOUR OíCLOCK. While they were still here, Don the Asshole called and wanted to know "when the carbon forms would be done"? I tried to explain to him that there wasnít a blessed thing I could do, the boss was still in the office and my hands were tied. Did he understand? Did he say, "Thatís OK, wait until tomorrow?" No. he still expected his thousand copies that evening. I ended up staying here in the office until 5:45, feverishly trying to throw together a thousand forms, and then he NEVER SHOWED UP AT THE HOUSE TO PICK THEM UP! I was - I AM - furious with him. I ate dinner (leftover chicken fried steak, which Iíd been too busy to eat the night before), watched a little TV with the kids, gave Kyle some sorely-needed attention, read part of the library book Iíve been trying to read for a week, and finally fell asleep on the sofa at 8:30. I slept like a dead person. This morning I feel somewhat better, although I can tell already that itís going to be another one of "those" days ... Dick Broussard is here this morning, visiting with a vendor, and good old Brian is on his way to the office. "I need to resolve some insurance matters," he said on the phone a few minutes ago. Meaning, of course, that heís going to be hanging around all afternoon. Jeezus. Whatever happened to those long, wonderful afternoons spent all alone in this office?? I could really use one of those again, and not just to catch up on Donís fucking carbons ... I could use the time ALONE, period. Itís only 8:55 a.m. and Iím already grinding my teeth down into painful little stubs.

3:20 p.m.

Well ... I was completely right about this day. Brian has been here ALL DAY, and right now Bob, James, and Little Brian are also here. Isnít that delightful? I ran exactly 25 copies of the O & A crap before I had to quit.

Don called earlier, and he sounds just as disgusted & weary of Gale Force Winds and their stupid carbon forms as I am. "From now on we ainít doiní this shit" he said tiredly. Itís the closest heís come to being human all week. It doesnít COMPLETELY make up for the headaches this order (and this week) have caused me, but it comes close ...

I am completely broke. This morning on the way to work I spent my very last $3.00 in the world on a package of nylon knee-hiís. I think there might be some spare change in the ashtray of my car, but other than that I am penniless. Whatís strange is how liberating it feels, in a way ... not having to worry about kids & husbands & business partners trying to hit me up for money tonight. I can just shrug helplessly and say "Sorry! The bank is busted!"

 

Friday morning
October 7, 1994

Oh God ... itís my Dadís 60th birthday, and I havenít so much as sent him a card. One more reason to feel guilty guilty guilty.

The Carbon Order From Hell Saga continues. Last night I triumphantly gave Don 1,500 of the stupid fucking things, invoiced them and said "Thatís IT." He paid me and left, and I felt SO relieved. Twenty minutes later he called me from the Gale Force office. They wonít accept the forms because - are you ready for this? - "the lines arenít wide enough." The jerk I talked to on the phone gave me a song & dance about how his customers wonít be able to read the form, the way it is now. It took every ounce of self control I possess to keep from screaming, "WHY DIDNíT YOU TELL ME THIS THREE DAYS AGO, WHEN YOU REJECTED THE FIRST THOUSAND I RAN FOR YOU??" I ran about 1,000 earlier this week & they wouldnít take them because I "left out one line." Why the hell didnít they say something about the lines not being "wide enough" then?? I am so incredibly pissed. I havenít talked to Don yet today, but when I do Iím going to tell them that thereís no way Iím running them all over again. Not a chance in hell. Iíve spent some time this morning calling various printing companies, seeing how much theyíll charge to print them (Iíll still cut them & glue them) and it looks like itís going to cost about $35 per thousand. Iíll tell Don Iíll pay for one thousand of them, but there my responsibility ends. I will also expect Gale Force winds to pay another layout fee, since this is the second change after a huge run. Nervous about how Don will take the idea, but I canít help it: this order has come close to giving me a nervous fucking breakdown this week, and Iím not going to let it take any more of a toll on me. Itís not worth it.

This morning I very determinedly left the house & the kids in a positive frame of mind. Itís Friday, for one thing. I may be broke, the house may be a mess, but itís Friday ... and that helps. I made a point of just sitting on the couch with Kyle for a few minutes. Lately heís been feeling neglected, I think. If you asked him heíd act like he doesnít care, but then when I do sit down with him & give him my complete attention heís so eager and responsive that I KNOW heís been starving for it. Last night when I came rushing through the door after work, carting in all the goddamned business forms, both he & Kacie tried to talk to me about their day and I cut them both dead. "I canít right now Honey, Iím sorry, Iím busy!" I said. It rips my heart out to be that way with them. So this morning I was funny and upbeat and lighthearted. Standing in the kitchen, I grabbed all three of them (including an unwilling Jamie, who was standing there buttering her bagel) and insisted on a "hug sandwich." I squeezed all three of them as tight as I could, kissed the tops of their heads and just loved them for a minute. They are still the most precious things in the world to me, in spite of everything. And as I was driving away, I did something silly to make Kyle & Kacie laugh. Every morning they stand there at the front window and wave goodbye to me as I drive away. Occasionally Princess Jamie joins them (if sheís not on the phone), but mostly itís just Kyle and Kacie. This morning I pointed a banana at them and pretended it was a machine gun as I was driving off: the last thing I saw as I drove off was Kyle and Kacie ROARING with laughter.

5:30 p.m.

Honest to God, sometimes I wonder why I even try to look on the bright side of things. Iím no Pollyanna. When things are crappy, things are crappy. But sometimes I do make an effort to rise above it - like I did this morning - and I still get kicked in the teeth. There I was at the office, trying to "fix" the Gale Force Winds mess, trying not to come unglued with Brian sitting there all morning again, trying to stay upbeat, and what happens? The Bow Lake school nurse calls and tells me sheís sending Kyle & Kacie home with head lice. Swell. Then, I come home a few minutes ago and Ray is rude and grumpy, my ice cube trays are half-filled with lukewarm water, and Iíve got to run 250 business cards for Don right now.

 

October 17, 1994
Monday 11 a.m.

Sad. This is not the way I planned to spend this chilly October morning ... sitting here at my desk with Gatorade and Kleenex, answering phones and typing. I was supposed to spend this day puttering around my house, pumped up on cold pills and caffeine, making the place look nice, cooking a pot roast, greeting my children after school with Pop Tarts and cocoa. Boo hoo hoo hoo.

 

A LIST OF FORTY THREE
Wednesday, October 19, 1994

1. My new favorite oldie: "Jailhouse Rock" by Elvis Presley.

2. My cold has moved into my chest today, and I have a deep, scratchy cough.

3. The car is running OK, except that the right turn signal is starting to slow down again ... maybe because of the damp weather?

4. I am sick & tired of O.J. Simpson.

5. My candy dish is filled with little orange pumpkins and candy corn.

6. Phone hasnít rung in 20 minutes.

7. Office is too warm: I keep fiddling with the thermostat, canít get it comfortable in here, itís either too hot or too cold.

8. My software (from Reliable in California) STILL ISNíT HERE. I thought for sure today would be the day. Darn.

9. The kids are home early today, I donít know why. Early Release is usually the last Wednesday of the month. Oh well.

10. Christina Duxbury was hit by a car two weeks ago & will need two years of rehabilitation therapy.

11. Two more broken molars, on opposite ends of my mouth; theyíre sharp as razor blades, and my tongue is all ripped up as a result.

12. "Bring me the head of Marcia Brady." (From last nightís episode of Wings.)

13. Levon Helmís voice on the radio ... "The Weigh."

14. Great lunch today! - leftover pot roast & vegetables, eaten in one grateful ravenous gulp.

15. I SHOULD be doing Valerieís CB business cards, but I just donít have the oomph.

16. Worried about Ray. Why wonít his mouth stop bleeding? The quilt was covered with blood this morning.

17. The latest computer problem at home: Clip Art Gallery wonít run. Microsoft sent me a little disk today that will supposedly fix the problem, but Iím scared to even try.

18. Aramis.

19. Horseradish.

20. Just finished "The Door to December" by Dean Koontz ... not his most enthralling novel, but OK.

21. Jamieís new school picture: waiting for the other two to have theirs taken.

22. Kacieís check (and new camera) from the greeting card company.

23. Broken light fixture in my office.

24. Broken towel bar in the bathroom at home.

25. Still waiting for Ray to put together my hanging files in my home office.

26. I LOVE my new desk!!! God! Itís beautiful!!!

27. Kacie and I need to start taking iron.

28. Mom says that the reason I keep getting upper respiratories is because I had my tonsils out when I was 24 mos. old. Thanks Mom for validating all my hypochondriac tendencies ...

29. My little niece Karen needs some warm clothes. Have the girls finished sorting through their outgrown sweaters and jeans?

30. Saw a dead cat beside the road yesterday while driving to work, and my first thought was "Sleep. Peace. Rest." I was so exhausted myself that death, briefly, looked like the ultimate cat nap ... if youíll excuse the pun.

31. The Rolling Stones are coming to town on my 37th birthday. (Think theyíll stop by?)

32. I knew the answer to the trivia question this morning on KZOK (What Lennon/McCartney song did Aerosmith cover in the movie version of Sgt. Pepperís Lonely Hearts Club Band?) The answer of course being "Come Together."

33. My scalp itches like crazy. God, I hope I didnít get Kyleís head lice.

34. Office is very very quiet today.

35. Desperately in need of new shoes and a new bra.

36. Bob just called. "Terri, did you just try to page me with a 1-800 number?" (No.)

37. Halloweíen is coming up & our house is the only Bow Lake house-with-kids that remains undecorated.

38. Polyester pants, because Iím just too fucking tired to iron.

39. My message on the Windows Marquee (on the home p.c.): Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun / But Mama / Thatís where the fun is

40. Cough, cough, cough.

41. Warmish can of 7-Up sitting on my desk. Hurts to swallow: the razorblade molars scrape against the sides of my tongue when I try.

42. Bored. Sleepy. Sick.

 

Wednesday morning
December 21, 1994

This could very well be the last entry in this journal. Iíve finally had to face the fact: journal writing has become a thing of the past. Sad but true. The good news is that this journal covered the whole year of 1994 (although I didnít deliberately set out to make it that way: it just happened). The bad news, of course, is that itís one of those patchy, incomplete journals that drive me crazy. At any rate, Iím going to peck out one last entry this morning as I sit here at work, and then Iím going to put the journal away & quit allowing it to be a source of stress & guilt. God knows I have enough of that in my life at the moment, as it is. After the holidays are over, if I feel like it, I may start another notebook for 1995. Or maybe I wonít. Weíll see.

This day will either be very very good or very very awful. Itís too early to tell yet. Iím running on practically no sleep at all, so the fact that Iím starting out in a fairly decent mood is nothing short of a miracle. I tried to get to sleep early last night. At 8:30 I lay down on the couch with my pillow & blanket, in front of a nice fire and a twinkling Christmas tree, ready to enjoy my favorite night of TV and drift off to slumberland ... but Ray had other ideas. He came home from his shopping trip to Target, all pumped up and goofy, and he wouldnít settle down until 10:30. When he finally did pass out, he promptly started snoring gangbusters. You could hear him all over the house, including the living room (which is where I was sleeping as always). I popped some earplugs in and tried again to fall asleep. Kacie was in the living room with me, watching her beloved "Beavis & Butthead" but she was really quiet & I didnít mind. Unfortunately, shortly after midnight I was hit by a ferocious blast of indigestion, and for the next two hours I was running back & forth to the bathroom. (I still have no idea what caused it, especially since Iím trying to stay away from alcohol completely this week. I even bought a bottle of Lancers last night on my way home from work & DIDNíT drink it when I got home! Whether or not Iíll last the whole week, I donít know; I can feel my resolve beginning to waver. But I still canít figure out why I was so sick last night.) On top of everything else, I have a rotten cold & ragged cough that are making me miserable. Eventually I wound up getting about three hours of sleep, total.

I should add, however, that once I DID fall asleep, I had one of the best dreams Iíve ever had in my life. When it was over I woke up and just lay there, thinking "Wow!" (I fell in love with a handsome & sensitive Japanese artist but in the end I made the noble decision to leave him to his wife and two sweet little daughters. I kissed the little girls as they lay sleeping and said, "I promise that someday I will see you again." My Japanese artist cried as my boat left the dock.)

Anyway. Whether this day turns out great or crappy depends on what my paycheck looks like most of all. I took a $400 draw last week, ostensibly so I could do some shopping over the weekend (which I never did). Will my check be for $283? Or has the finance company gotten hold of Carlene & started a garnishment? Or has Bob decided to give everybody a bonus this year? Or is Carlene also sending petty cash & postage money? Or or or or ... ?? I have done absolutely NO Christmas shopping so far except for ordering three cheapo calculators for the kids from the office supply place. Today is Wednesday. Christmas is on Sunday. Our big Christmas Eve party is three days away & the house still looks like itís been stirred with a stick. As of this morning, I am still not done with my Christmas cards. Enough said? This is turning into one of those Oh-my-God kind of holidays. I'm afraid, and there isnít a thing I can do about it.

Decorating has definitely been a slapdash affair this year. I set out the snowman collection early this year (before Thanksgiving), and a couple of weekends ago I taped up the Christmas cards but other than that itís mostly been the kids who have decked the halls. I come home from work every night & they have done something knew ... draped red & green paper chains from the front window, taped up old Christmas artwork around the house, set up a candle & dried flower display on thee dining room table. Itís nice. And they trimmed the tree all by themselves again this year(remarkable how easy it was for me to give up THAT responsibility!). Unfortunately, the tree fell over I the middle of the night that first night after they decorated it, so they had to do it over again. (I was sound asleep on the sofa when I heard this horrible "CRAAASH!!!!" and discovered the poor little tree laying on the floor in front of the stereo.) Ray went out the next day and bought a new, sturdier tree stand, and we haven't had any problems with it since ... unless you count the day Kyle called from home & said that he found Gabby climbing up the center of it.

Jamie and I have both celebrated birthdays recently, of course. Her 13th birthday came & went with little fuss: she had two friends spend the night (Kelly & Crystal) while Kacie & Kyle were farmed out to Grandma Beesonís for the night. In lieu of a present - per her request - Ray and I gave her shopping money to buy her own present with. The next morning I drove the three girls to Southcenter so she could buy the Sonics starter jacket sheís been asking for for months. My birthday was even more low-key than usual. No present from Ray this year - not even a card - but Jamie gave me a Heart CD, Kacie game me some stuff for my hair, my mom gave me a great new forest green pants outfit, and Dad & Valerie gave me a bottle of my beloved cccís. Happy Birthday to me.

Don and I arenít speaking to each other, which has been a source of stress for me the past few days. I got silly on wine and made a fool out of myself on the phone with him & Jazzmine last Saturday night, and I basically havenít heard from him since. I keep thinking heís going to show up any minute and yank the computer away from me. What would I do if that happened? That computer (and the color printer) have become so important to me. I would be heartbroken if he took them away.

Oh well. Iím going to quit for now & try to get some "real" (BNC) work done. Bob is on his way to the office, and I would like to look busy when he walks in.



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