Day 7579 | Day 7619 | Day 7675

A Poorly Written Descriptive Interlude

I recently moved into a house with six other guys for what I'm certain will be the last year of my formal 'education'. For a person like me, this is not without its downsides, not the least of which is in the realm of personal hygiene. If any budding teenage communists need a case study in why their pet philosophy doesn't work in the real world, they need only look at a college house.

The Fashionable One has an odd sort of energy to him, going everywhere with a impractically hurried shuffle. He likes everything loud: his TV, his music, and his friends. Obnoxious laughter and blaring classical music at literally all hours do not engender goodwill. Don't get me wrong, I love Copland as much as the next guy, just not at 3am.

The Pedant knows the best way to do everything and won't fail to 'correct' you if you're doing something the 'wrong way'. Cooking, cleaning, reading, typing, driving, drinking, studying, speaking—nothing lies outside his realm of expertise. The Cook is agreeable enough, just don't dare to suggest that any food he makes is any better or worse than he thinks it is. He claims it's because he has a 'sensitive palate'. The Gamer is the coolest of the bunch and is pretty chill; at least until he starts playing Black Ops. Then the epithet spewing monster inside him comes out and destroys anything fragile within arm's reach.

Then there are the Slobs. One thinks the dishwasher does all the work for him, overfilling it to the point that he has to run it three times to get things clean, breaking several glasses in the process. The other likes to leave frozen meat in a sunny spot on the counter all day because he's 'letting it thaw in the sun.' One is cheerful enough when you ask him to clean up after himself but never follows through on his promises, the other gets surly and defensive at the slightest expectation of personal responsibility.

Because of them, our kitchen is developing its own ecosystem. Forgotten fruit rots in plastic shopping bags on the counter while fat carpenter ants swarm around the sticky droplets of fermenting sugars. The sink is stacked with dishes, the drain clogged with an unholy combination of cheerios, ramen noodles, half-cooked meat, and soy sauce. Milk sours and curdles in cereal bowls while salmonella infested cutlery threatens anyone who draws near. The fridge is full of condiments and jelly and spongy vegetables. One jar dropped to the floor and cracked, sticky red strawberry preserves oozing from the bottom and fusing it to the shelf for the foreseeable future.

Silverware continues to disappear as the box of broken glass in the corner begins to become heaped with different shades of green and brown. Flies hang in the air over the trash—small fruit flies silently hovering and fat house flies buzzing in lazy circles like orbiting cargo planes. With each step the linoleum underfoot emits a hollow scraping sound as the detritus of crushed cereal, brownie mix, and ant exoskeletons grinds against it.

Mildewed furniture on the porch is broken on the weekend, then is fixed by myself the proceeding Wednesday only to be broken again. Beer bottles with an inch of liquid left in them are strewn around the house, occasionally toppling over, the smell of stale hops immediately absorbed by wood and carpet and upholstery while bent bottle cap caltrops menace the shoeless. Hours of my day are spent battling the forces of entropy around me.

I'll try not to murder anyone.

Last weekend my family traveled to Michigan to spend Labor Day weekend with my mother-in-law. Before I had children I had never attended the Florence County Fair which has become a September ritual for my family. The first year my mother-in-law suggested it I was unprepared however I bundled my youngest daughter into a brand new stroller and prayed that her little white dress would come free of the stains she accumulated as an unsteady one year old picks up an amazing amount of dirt even when not at the fair.

I bought the stroller at Wal-Mart for $10 and it served us well during its many years of service. Wal-Mart is a store I rarely frequent however there are times when it has provided what I needed at a relatively low cost. Typically the weather holds for the Fair, this year I told the girls to pack sweatershirts for the trip up North however neither of them listened to me and my one daughter went so far as to unpack the sweatshirt I had set out for her.

Friday evening we had a terrible meal. My burger was so bad I could hardly chew it, service was poor and the entire meal left a bad taste in our collective mouths. Saturday morning we woke up to chilly gray skies. My youngest was up for a walk so the two of us headed across the street to see if we could find some inexpensive sweatshirts at Wal-Mart. She used the bathroom there, turned up her nose at the sweatshirt selection and said she thought we could find something she liked better at K-Mart.

My mother-in-law is a shopper and my oldest is not. My youngest likes shopping well enough. She's a girly girl and we found some jeans that I didn't think fit her that well but my mother-in-law thought were darling. When my daughter told me she had to use the bathroom I went with her. Her bowel movement was abnormal so I questioned her and learned that she had been dealing with this all day and had not said anything previously. Back at the hotel I called my sister who is now a Nurse Practitioner and she recommended a bland diet with special emphasis on hydration.

That night my mother-in-law treated the girls to pizza. A neighbor girl of hers had gone roller skating with my girls. From my observations she has some social/behavioral issues. We were sitting in my mother-in-law's garage and the way my oldest daughter rolled her eyes at me was priceless. The nerdy neighbor girl prattled on while the rest of us sat there in silence as she unraveled the remainder of a roll of teflon tape. No one was sure what to do so we did nothing.

When the girls came back from pizza and skating my youngest daughter told me she thought she was going to vomit. Earlier I had taken her sister to Wal-Mart for some Pedialyte. At first my daughter refused to drink it. I tried to explain the importance of electrolytes and after coaxing, pleading and encouraging her I got her to drink a few sips. My oldest had persuaded me to buy Uno cards so we sat on the bed playing while my youngest struggled with her rehydration solution

At bedtime my oldest refused to share a bed with her sister and I can't say that I blame her either. I ended up sleeping with her and I should have made it through the night with her peacefully sleeping except I woke up at three and could not get back to sleep. My meals are limited under normal circumstances. Traveling makes things worse and it's hard to always stick to a restricted diet so I cheated which turned out to be a very bad idea. 

I spent quite a bit up in Michigan but since I hadn't really bought much in the line of school clothes for the girls and there were some good deals I was okay with the purchases. During one of our countless trips to Wal-Mart I found some black shorts that my oldest could wear for her volleyball games. When I asked her if I should get some shorts for her sister we agreed that my youngest would prefer pink so I picked up several pairs in her size.

Back at the hotel my youngest was up from her nap and very upset that she had missed out on what she perceived was the Ultimate Wal-Mart Shopping Extravaganza. Before we went to bed we made one final stop to pick up more of the electrolyte solution since somewhere between the fair, the hotel, my mother-in-law's garage and Pizza Hut we had misplaced the rest of the packets you mix with water to make instant oral rehydration solution.

We ended up having to do laundry, I wore the same (washed) clothes the entire weekend and I think we were all happy to be back at home even though severe weather had been through and our yard was a mess. Tuesday I went to work. Wednesday I called in sick and I felt entirely justified as I had been up all night and was in no shape to do anything apart from lay around in bed.

Thursday morning my youngest was crying because she wanted me to stay home with her. I hated leaving her and I think that hit me harder than I realized. I had sent our Human Resources Manager an email asking her about compensation for my department which has never been formally set down in writing. We were promised a quarterly bonus when the department was created back in November. The end of this month marks the third quarter since our department was formed and none of us have ever received any of the monies we were promised.

Handing in my two weeks notice was liberating. I was upset at first but I made it through the day. Friday a member of management told me I had done right thing and it was startling to hear her observations of my behavior which she described as withdrawn. After I had shared my disease diagnosis back in early May she had encouraged me to take some time off but at the time I was so overwhelmed with my financial situation I did not see that as feasible.

Friday afternoon my supervisor yelled at me when I returned to my desk. She said she had not known where I was and I had been in another person's office for quite some time. She told me I didn't have to pack up my personal belongings that afternoon but I thought it would be better if I did. My supervisor said she needed me on the phone during the next two weeks. Generally I like her however I felt that she was trying to intimidate me.

After leaving work I was shaky, upset and wondering if I had made the right decision. Anyone who follows my daylogs knows that I have some financial concerns and quitting a decent job for no good reason probably seems foolish in this unstable economy. For the majority of my life I have felt at the end of my figurative rope. ChristineWinter's pernicious anemia writeup was not an easy read. I hate reading about conditions I have and I could probably contribute personal experience to nodes like peripheral neuropathy but some days all I can do is take things minute by fragile minute.

Friday evening I thought that had I known how difficult it would be to find solid black shorts in my daughter's size I would have bought out the entire run of her size at Wal-Mart however she made it through her first soccer game holding up her overly large shorts and wearing a shirt that dwarfed her. After that game which went well we traveled to what many of us parents called the never ending volleyball tournament. Since my oldest is an apathetic player she sat on the bench for nine out of the ten games her team played.

At the volleyball tournament a woman that I don't know well asked me a question. We got to talking and I met her husband who said he would pass along some contacts who worked at companies he thought I could get jobs at. I spent the rest of the tournament sitting next to him and my friends that I have really missed. We joked about our girls, the girls on the other team and I participated in conversational banter where I felt included, worthwhile and accepted.

For all the times I have criticized others for being wordly I have been caught up in a similar trap yet blind to my bindings. I have not been wise with my money, my mind or my talents. My mother said things that disturbed me although she supported my decision to quit my job when I thought she would go off about debts and bills. Most people have been understanding and yesterday was neither happy nor golden in every way but we played catch outside and it was gratifying to see my daughters use their new bat effectively.

When I returned my daughter's defective backpack to Target she cried because she loved that one that was no longer available. In the past I would have felt guilty and driven all over trying to find the perfect replacement backpack along with the best pair of soccer shorts. Now I told her that if she wanted to fuss she could use a backpack from home and if the shorts that are on sale don't work for her I'm going to see if we can make her waistband smaller so her shorts make it through the remainder of her season.

Church this morning was not easy. I have been gone for a long time and I felt out of place in an institution that I grew up with. Regardless of what I think of religion the last two funerals I attended were interesting because both men had known they were dying and the letters they left were uplifting, encouraging and full of concern for others. They were not perfect nor do I remember them that way however I will treasure their funerals as days when I abandonded many of the fleeting things that have no real importance.

Right now I need time to heal. A girlfriend I used to be fairly close to called me in tears caught up in a situation I don't understand. My friend who lost her job sounded so good on the phone the other day. I am resourceful, my mind and body have not been in sync and I hate using illness as a crutch but I can't do the same things others can without recognizing the toll it takes on my physically and emotionally. My house is a cluttered mess and I look forward to having time to put it back in order. Slow and steady wins the race, I just hope I remember that the rat race isn't always worth winning.

Until next time,


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