Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Day 2

Yesterday when I got home from work, I smelled it. The smell of fresh paint. I love that smell. That means that what was old is now new. I raced up the stairs to find Bear in my craft room. In place of the old wood paneling was a brand new coat of white primer paint. It was BEAUTIFUL. Bear was in the middle of the room, paintbrush in hand. He turned to look at me.

"Hey, Hon," he said. Nonchalantly, as though he wasn't at all the amazing hero I knew him to be.

"Babe, this looks aMAZing!" I squealed. The afternoon sun reflected of the bright white walls, casting light into every corner of the room.

"There's still a lot left to do, but it's getting there," he said. "You wanna help?"

Did I ever. Together we dipped paint brushes into the can of primer and got started on the second coat. He was sweet and took the little brush so I could use the big one. He even let me use one of his old long sleeved shirts so I wouldn't be cold in the drafty room. As we worked side by side (I did the low places, he did the high ones), we discussed what the next steps of the project - what would I want here, would this be okay there, etc. We left it to dry overnight and went downstairs to make dinner.

Over dinner, I asked Bear what else he'd done during the day.
"I transfered all 400 mp3s from your old computer to the flashdrive, I got the mail, I did a load of dishes, picked up and emailed you a couple of times. I didn't get as much done as I wanted, but it's a start."

I just shook my head and smiled. Maybe this layoff will be better than I thought!

Today he is picking up carpet, the wood for my storage unit, a new light fixture and some other things. I'm not sure if he's painting another coat of primer or not. I guess I'll have to wait and see! I can't wait.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Day 1

Today is the first day of Bear's layoff from work. After today, there are 27 days remaining of the layoff (hopefully). When the alarm went off at a quarter to six this morning, I did not want to go to work. I just wanted to snuggle back into the warmth of Bear's body and go back to bed.

But I got up.

And I went to work.

So now I'm here, and I'm wondering what he's doing. Has he started painting my craft room? Will he be thinking about me while he is home alone? Will the cats be into every thing he's doing? How many texts can we send each other while I'm supposed to be teaching?

And finally: How long until I can go home to him?

Because that's what I want the most. I want to be with him. My husband is my most favorite person on this earth, and it kills me that I had to get into a cold car and drive away from him this morning. That I have to be here for eight hours while he is home, renovating a room in his house for me.

Seven hours left to go.


PS When I get home tonight (after I greet Bear), I will post progress pics of my craft room on my other blog. Feel free to check it out!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


There are two more days of work for Bear before he begins his four week layoff (let's hope that's all it is). He's filled out the unemployment paperwork - his benefits will begin about two weeks in. There will be one week where he does not get any kind of paycheck, but otherwise, will be getting at least something every week. We are planning as best we can and keeping our fingers crossed that the mill can sell enough of their lumber to be able to bring everyone back to work in a month.

We have been thinking about things Bear can do while he's out of work. The busier he is, the better, if you ask me. Here's what we have so far (feel free to add more ideas in the comments):
  • Paint the stairs and railing. I started this last summer, but never finished it. It looks like crap, and I hate looking at it every night when I go upstairs to go to bed.
  • Finish cleaning the garage. He started it, but more (much more) needs to be done.
  • Finish cleaning the basement. The basement is too scary for me, so cleaning it is on him.
  • Do all household chores - washing dishes, vacuuming, bathroom duty, laundry... all of it. He's a househusband now. Time to act the part.*
  • Get the mail every day so I don't have to.
  • Make me an afternoon snack for when I get home from school.*
  • Compose poems and songs in my honor.*
  • Create a shelving system for my knitting/spinning supplies.
  • Load all of my CDs onto the pen drive we bought to house our music so I can put some new stuff on my mp3 player.
  • Entertain the cats.
  • Blog.**
  • Put out. A lot.*
* Okay, these things may be more MY ideas than his. I say they stay.
** In my "Roll of Honor" you will find his new blog "A Bear's Tale". Read and comment when you can. Thanks!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bloggy love for Bear

Bear called me at the end of his lunch break today. I thought it was to tell me how cold he is - he's working outside in negative 31 degree weather (plus wind). But that wasn't why he called.

"We got our layoff notice, today, Baby," he said. The hardwood lumber mill he works in has been hit hard by the falling lumber market. They've got logs to saw, but aren't selling the lumber.

"I'm awful sorry, Baby," I said. "How long are you going to be out?"

"We're going to work next week, then have a month off. They will keep paying for our health insurance, though, so that's good."

The poor man has worked full time since he was fifteen. I know he's worried. Unemployment in Maine only pays 80% of his salary and our budget is tight as it is.
We'll make it, though, I know we will.
In the meantime, would you all give Bear some Bloggy words of encouragement?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Best Job in the World.

Have you seen the news articles advertising Tourism Queensland's "Best Job in the world"?

Monday I was in the bathroom getting ready for work when Bear called out to me, "Honey, you have to apply for this job!" I poked my head out the bathroom doorway.
"What is it?" I asked, intrigued by the excitement in his voice.
"It's a six month stay on an island in Australia. All you have to do is blog about your time there and they pay you $105,000!"
I gave him a skeptical look, but walked over to where he was sitting at the computer desk. "Are you sure? There has to be a catch." I read the news article quickly. Then I read it again. Then I read it a third time.
"Huh," I said. That really would be perfect. Maybe I'll apply."
I went back to getting for work, but couldn't stop thinking about it. I thought about it the entire drive into work. I thought about it while I was teaching, while I had detention duty, that night at work. The more I thought about it, the more it became something I really wanted to do. The website was down until late last night (too many people trying to get on crashed the server, I imagine), when I finally got to actually read the terms and conditions. The only catch, as I can see it, is that I have to make a 60 second video about why I'm the perfect candidate for the job.


I'm so bad at being interesting!

I had the same problem when I tried out for Wheel of Fortune - turns out I don't lead a very interesting or glamorous life. I persevered then and won a spot on the show. If I can do that, I can do this. Now I just have to *do* it.

I've made the script for what I'm going to say and have a rough plan for it. Now I just need the courage to get it done (I will of course post it here when it's done). I'm planning on doing it this weekend or Monday.

Will you please, please, please wish me luck?

Monday, January 12, 2009

T-ing Off, Part Four

Part Four: Resolution

After the blow up, I kept an eye on T's blog to see what, if anything, she would have to say for herself. As days went by, I realized that she wasn't going to - to admit that she'd lost a friend was to admit that she wasn't perfect, and T insisted that her life appear to be perfect. It was one of the reasons she was so bottled up all the time. I was disappointed, because I wanted to know that she had seen what I'd written. I wanted to keep fighting. She did keep updating her blog with details about her wedding and how great everything was. I did a lot of snorting at her posts, but I kept reading them. I couldn't stop. Even though the things she wrote still made me feel badly about myself and my life, I had to keep reading what she was writing. When she got back from her wedding and posted the link to her wedding pictures, I had to go see them. I got a perverse satisfaction out of the knowledge that she didn't look as good as I had in my pictures. That she'd had the cake smashed into her face, while I hadn't had cake smashed into mine. That she'd had some fat/ugly bridesmaids while I hadn't (I had bridesmen, actually - my brothers). but although I got to gloat a bit, it didn't really make me feel better. I knew I was being petty, that I was using mockery to cover up that I was still hurt.

Not long after her wedding, she stopped blogging. I was forced to let it go for a while because there was no way to get updates from her. I wondered why she'd stopped, though. Was it because she knew I was reading it? Did she not want me to know what was going on in her life? Several months later, I found her new blog. All about her and C's life. That the house they'd purchased was getting an updated bathroom. That she had a teacup dog (that she dressed up for Halloween, no less). On her blog, she'd posted pics of her Master's Degree ceremony. Right then I was back to feeling inadequate. I have been only three classes away from my master's degree for three years; finances have kept me from getting my schooling completed. Again, T and her money were making me feel bad, and I was letting it happen. I couldn't stop cyber stalking her. I'd check her blog at least once a week, waiting for the inevitable update that would make me feel miserable again. Bear couldn't stand what I was doing to myself. He'd get angry that I was deliberately causing myself to suffer over someone who had no relevance to my life. He tried telling me that I needed to drop it, stop thinking about her, and move on.

I couldn't.

This fall, she stopped blogging on that blog. I wondered, again, if it was because she knew I'd been reading it. I was left in limbo again, still unable to get closure. I wondered if I'd ever be able to fully let T go. To not feel like we were in some kind of race that I was still losing, even a year and a half later.

Then, on one of my random searches to see if I could find her, I checked her name on Ravelry. Ravelry, for those who don't know, is a huge online knitting community. Rav was an arena I considered mine. I'd found it first, used it every day, was a member of that community. I was shocked to discover that at long last, T had infiltrated even that place. I was so heartsick. How long before she made me feel inadequate in this way, too? How long before she had more projects, more friends, more posts than me? I would not be in the same groups as her. I didn't want to compete with her here - Rav for me is a safe, warm place. Having her there felt awful. While looking at her profile I noticed that she'd linked it to another blog. Immediately I clicked on it to read. This blog was different from her other blogs. In this blog, she was admitting to a failure - the failure to conceive. She has been diagnosed with PCOS and this new blog was about her struggles with it.

A breath escaped me as I read. Relief washed over me. Finally, something was wrong with T's life. Finally, for the first time EVER, she was faced with wanting something she couldn't have. Something that no money could ever buy her. It can't buy her ovaries that work. FINALLY, T knows what it's like to want something with every fiber of her being and be denied. I knew it was terrible to feel good about her problem. I knew it was insensitive of me to be glad that she couldn't have a baby. But it was just such a relief to see the scales evened out a bit - to know that finally, for once, I was coming out ahead.

Then I found it. I found an entry in her blog that pertained to me. It said:
There was one line that struck me though.... "I'd traded friendship for romance, companionship for a husband..." Talking about choosing her to be husband over her best friend. The reason that got to me was because this happened to bme 2 years ago. Almost 2 years ago exactly infact. To be honest I never really took time to reflect upon what happened with my friend, but I knew with certainty that my DH was the person I was to be with for the rest of my life and if H couldn't be supportive, then I no longer wanted her in my life.... Reading today though made me reflect on the whole situation- now where I am in my life could we become friends again? Was there another way to have my DH and friend too? Hmmmmmm....

I was in shock for a minute or two. I'd waited so long to have her acknowledge our fight, only to haver her admit that she'd never really reflected upon it?!? I didn't even rate high enough in her life for her to think about after that day!?! I saw red for a good hour or two. I'd spent so much time and energy following her bogs, watching her life from afar ... and she didn't even think about me. After that I was hurt. When I thought I could, I went back to that post and read it again. It was then that I started to laugh. She though that we'd stopped being friends because I didn' t like C. It was laughable. Our fight had never been about C. I liked C fine. It had been about her, and her selfishness, and her making me feel bad about who I was. And two years later, she had no idea what the fight had even been about. I couldn't believe it. Seriously? It would have been tragic if it hadn't also been so funny.
I began to look at my life, to examine whether or not we could ever be friends again. Were we in a place now that our lives wouldn't become a contest? After two solid weeks of introspection, I think I've finally figured this situation out.

1. I will always compare the successes in my life to hers, and I will always come up lacking.
2. It's up to me whether I allow that to hurt me or not.
3. Knowing that she is faced with the failure she is and is openly acknowledging her lack of perfection has equaled out the playing field.
4. I will be happier and more content without her in my life.

That last one was what let me finally let T go. I have come to appreciate and enjoy the life I lead now. Bear and I are lovers, friends, and teammates. We help each other out and build each other up. I don't want to allow someone from the outside tear down what Bear and I have worked so hard to create. I am more at peace than I have been since T and I "broke up." She never understood what the problem in our friendship was, and she probably never will. And maybe that's okay. Because I know. I don't gloat any more about her infertility. In fact, I genuinely hope that she and C are able to overcome it and have beautiful babies. Because now that I'm finally done competing with her, I can honestly wish her well.
As for her wondering if she and I can be friends again ... well, the answer is no. I wish her well, but we are too different now, and I want people around me who understand me, love me, and wish me well, too.

So Goodbye, T - I'm letting you go.

Friday, January 09, 2009

T-ing Off, Part Three

T and I finished our shopping and she headed home. A few days later, I called to check in. We had more strained conversation - which seemed to be all we could have anymore. Every time I shared something new in our wedding plans (we are renting a canopy, table, and chairs for the reception) was followed by her one-upping me (check out the website of the swanky-very-expensive-totally -catered reception hall we've booked). It was awful. I knew that Bear and I didn't have much money, but I was trying so hard to be happy with what we were going to have. Talking with T just made me feel bad. Bad about myself (if I was a better person, I'd have more), bad about my choices (maybe I should have bought the more expensive wedding dress), and bad about my wedding (maybe we should wait to get married so we could do more). Every conversation we had, I hung up feeling more miserable than before. I hated that our weddings had become some kind of competition, one which I had no hope of winning. I began to feel as though I was less, somehow, than she was.

Then one day I was telling her how Bear and I were tossing around the idea of going on a cruise for our honeymoon - something we'd both always wanted to do. "Don't worry, though, because I'll be back in time for your wedding," I promised. I knew I probably wouldn't end up a bridesmaid, but at least I could help out at and attend her wedding.
"Well, about that, actually," T said. "C and I have decided that we want to get married on the 4th of July instead of the 7th."
I was shocked. "But T, I'll be out of the country. I won't be able to be there," I stammered. She knew that no matter what we'd planned, Bear and I were taking a week long honeymoon.
"Well, you have to do what you have to do," she replied. She didn't sound upset or angry. She almost sounded... glad. As though this was something she'd wanted, and she'd found a non-confrontational way to accomplish it.
As soon as I heard that, I went from hurt to pissed lightning fast. It was time to stop pussy-footing around for the sake of our friendship and tell her what I thought. There had been things that I had let slide for her sake. For example, she had changed her wedding colors from lavender and yellow to blue and "something else." She never came out and said she didn't want to be my maid of honor or that she didn't want me in her wedding. A thousand tiny things that together had me at my limit.
"You know what, I'm so tired of this. I'm tired of you making me feel bad every time we talk. I know that you want to change your other wedding color to red," I said, talking faster as the words began to flow. "I don't care, really I don't, but I want you to know that there may be shallow people who are at both weddings that think you're copying."
She shrieked at me, interrupting what I was about to say. "NO! You know that I've wanted red and blue and a 4th of July wedding for six years. It's YOU who always copy ME! Tennis, the gym, knitting. You always take my things! Do you know how upset I was when you told me that day what your colors were doing to be? UGH!! You know what? It's hurts me to talk to you, it hurts you to talk to me, so I'm done!" And she hung up on me.

I put the phone down, in a rage. I'd told her several times that the reason I had chosen the colors I had were due to financial reasons. I cast back in my mind to see if I had, indeed, known about her dream wedding, and it was there. Six years ago, when she was dating her last boyfriend, she had this elaborate idea worked out to get married on the 4th of July so she could have fireworks at her wedding. I had just assumed that her plans were individual to the guy she was with; apparently she just switched men out and kept the idea the same. I was very angry still. Deciding I was done, too, I wrote this post (I call her Beatrice in the post at one point - it's her). I was so, so angry. My rage was almost a living creature. It gnawed on me. When I thought I was free of it, it would let out a primal roar and I'd be right back to pissed. For weeks! I resolved never to speak with her again.

And I haven't.

It's been more than two years and we haven't emailed, spoken, seen each other, anything. I can't say that I'm sorry. Without her in my life I am free of the constant sense of inferiority that so often plagued me when we were friends. I am able to say what I mean and don't have to tiptoe around anyone anymore.
But that doesn't mean that I don't still wonder about her. And at times, when I'm on the internet and bored, I look around to see if I can see what she's up to. She had a blog at the same time I did, and I'd expected to see some kind of retaliatory post on her blog. I don't know if I was hurt or relieved when it never appeared. I'd forget her for months at a time, then something would trigger my memory and I'd poke about again.

I was unprepared for what I did find.

(tomorrrow: part four - resolution)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

T-ing Off, Part Two

Part two: the count down

So there we were, T and I - two hours apart, trying to maintain our friendship even though it was more difficult than ever. Things between my boyfriend and I were getting worse without T there as a buffer. I had to vent to someone, and that someone became him. Eventually I'd had enough and left him. I moved into the apartment complex T had lived in when she became single. I didn't even look anywhere else. I knew they were a great company to rent from, that they plowed their parking lots well and early and had a maintenance man on duty 24/7. I ended up renting an apartment almost identical to the one T had rented the year before. In this new world, I was glad of the familiarness of the place.
The problem now was that I had no friends in the city I was in. All of my high school friends had moved back home and T was the last friend I had that lived nearby. With her gone, I was friendless, boyfriendless... I needed new friends. Fast.

About this time T started dating a guy named C. It was obvious from the very beginning that he was totally smitten with her. T wasn't as enthused. For one, he worked at a gun store, and she'd never fired a gun in her life. Didn't want to. For two, he wasn't her usual pretty boy type. She drooled over Abercrombie boys; this guy was from the Big and Tall catalog. He was easily 6 and a half feet tall with an endearing, goofy expression. I liked him immediately. I especially liked how he could deal with T's emotional flighty-ness. She waffled back and forth about whether she wanted to be with him. Her pros and cons went something like this: he is good to me (pro), but he doesn't want kids (con), he has lots of money to do things (pro), but has ex issues. She'd call me every week and say she was going to break up with him, then change her mind the next day. It was exhausting. I tried to tell her what I thought she needed to hear. She'd spent a long time with her ex unhappy, so I urged her to break up with this new guy before it got too serious. I was worried she'd settle for the guy that paid attention to her again. Then one day she called.
"So I really need to break up with C," she said.
"So do it already! You know you don't want to be with him long-term," I urged.
"Okay, I will. But we're going to Las Vegas for a few days, so I will do it when we get back."

I had a HUGE problem with this. It felt to me that she was using him; allowing him to dote on her while having no intentions of being with him. Ugh. I didn't say much and ended the call soon after. I didn't like who T was becoming. Since when was she so shallow?

While all this was going on, I'd met Bear. Despite intending to stay single for a good long time, I fell in love with his adorable charm and genuine caring. By Christmas we were official. By March we were engaged. We knew we had moved very quickly, so set our wedding date for a little more than a year away - June 30, 2007.

Meanwhile, not only had T not left C after Vegas, they became official while they were down there. they became engaged then or shortly thereafter. I was still bothered by how C obviously loved T more than she loved him, but since I wasn't with them, I couldn't prove anything.

It was then that two friends started planning their weddings at the same time. T has a HUGE princess mentality - she'd been dreaming about her wedding, Prince Charming, etc. for years. She named her cats Tinkerbelle and GusGus. I had not grown up ever intending to marry, so this was all new to me. Bear and I were both very poor, so our wedding was to be on a budget. A very small budget. We started looking at ways to cut costs while T was not worried about the cost of her wedding at all. And why should she? Between C's money and her parents', she had no money worries at all. What she wanted, she was going to get. The first few wedding dresses she tried on were more than $1,000. Mine cost $99. I didn't even get it altered (it fit well enough and I couldn't afford it, anyhow). I reserved the wedding and reception locations: my parents' back yard. She reserved this spectacular old Catholic church and swanky reception site.

As the planning process continued, my conversations with T became more strained. I'd asked her already to be my maid of honor. She said yes. Then she set the date of her own wedding a week after mine. Knowing how emotional she can be, I asked her if she thought she could handle both my wedding and hers. She said yes. I told her that I would make sure to be back from ym honeymoon in time for her wedding. I asked her if I was going to be a bridesmaid. She said, "well, maybe, I just don't know, I may have to have C's sister in mine, and I - I just don't know." I was really hurt by that.

But that wasn't all. One day we were shopping, and she asked me what my wedding colors were going to be. "Well, I said, we're getting married right before 4th of July, so probably red and blue. It's what will be on sale as far as plates, tablecloths, and decorations go," I said. Bear and I were trying to pinch every penny we could.
"Oh," she said. I pretended not to notice that her mood took a nosedive. I didn't know what was bothering her, but knew if I ignored it, eventually she'd tell me.

And boy, did she ever.

Tomorrow: part three (the fall out)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

T-ing Off, Part One

The Beginning.

Freshman year of college was a year of great changes for me. Being away from my parents for the first time, ending a four-year relationship, gaining new friends and living life on my own terms. It was great. At the change of semesters, I met T. T was a year ahead of me and also an education student. She had even moved in to the room I had lived in the semester before. We hit it off right away. She was Catholic (as so many of my best friends were growing up), so it was fun to try to pull her out of her shell. She needed a lot of pulling; she wasn't very outgoing and had a very reserved nature. She NEVER discussed things like sex or bodily functions (two of my favorite subjects). Still, she understood the issues I was facing in my education better than anyone. We got new boyfriends around the same time and would double date and hang out quite frequently. She was always starting a new hobby - tennis, knitting, going to the gym. She was great about letting me tag along and become involved, too. Her parents came to visit her on campus and I even fell in love with them. They obviously loved her and each other - something my own home was seriously lacking. I used to ask them when they would adopt me so I could be their child, too. The more I got to know T, the closer I wanted to get. She was me, 2.0: she had the life I would have had if I'd had wealthy, loving parents like she had. She graduated with no debt (parents paid for college), got a new car shortly after, and after breaking up with her boyfriend, got her own place to live. She was teaching and taking grad classes. Life for her was perfect. I wanted mine to be perfect, too.
Because it wasn't. My boyfriend didn't work after the first year of our relationship. My last year I was working two jobs, student teaching and taking a class so that I could graduate on time. I'd been driving the same crappy Ford Escort Wagon for years (I HATED that car) and couldn't see a time that I'd ever have everything like T did. I racked up thousands of dollars on my credit cards paying for groceries, car repairs, and gas. I held T up as the goal. Her life was what I would have. Someday.
Looking back, it was clear to me that there were some problems in our friendship, though. For one, she could not understand my money issues. Never having had them herself, she had no idea how debt can absolutely crush your spirit. She didn't understand how I could stay with my boyfriend who was giving me so much trouble and so little help (he wasn't even on disability or unemployment - he lived off me entirely). I could never make her see that I couldn't leave him just because he was sick. He had a chronic prostate condition that left him in excruciating pain all day long. I felt that leaving would be selfish. I couldn't do it.
The biggest problem in our friendship, though, was how bottled up she was. If I did something that bothered her, she never said anything. She'd let it stew silently until she couldn't take it any more and would explode all over the place. I get very frustrated by people that do this. Just tell me what's wrong so I can fix it. If you don't tell me, I'm not going to kiss your ass just because I think I might have done something wrong. My parents raised me to "shit or get off the pot". It was what I wanted her to do. She'd been raised differently.
Still, we got through a lot of tough times together especially in our line of work. When my first teaching job chose not to renew my contract, I was devastated. I cried all the way home, and she was the only person I wanted to talk to. I knew she'd make me feel better. And she did... much better than my boyfriend did.
Then one summer she got a teaching job in the southern part of the state. It meant moving more than two hours away. She wanted to move back to where she was from; closer to her family and friends she'd had growing up. I was heartbroken. She thought she was moving to something better; all I knew was that she was moving away from me. And I couldn't follow her - my boyfriend, who I was living with/taking care of didn't want to move down south, and honestly I couldn't afford to move anyway. I was absolutely broke.
And that was truly what I had the biggest issue with T about. She never understood what it was like to want something with all of your being, and be denied it, again and again. T always got everything she wanted; I'd been denied thing my whole life. I resented her for it. It just wasn't fair that she could sail through life so easily and I'd had to fight so hard. I'm sorry to say that I took my resentment out on her at times, got angry with her and wasn't as happy with her successes as a friend should have been. I still wanted to be her, still held her life as my goal. But at times (like when she got pulled over for speeding in her new car), I'd be happy her life wasn't completely perfect.

I should have known that things between us were about to go from bad to worse.

(tomorrow: part two)

I'm still here

I'm working on a long post, one that's been rattling around inside my head for quite a while. It's not quite ready yet, though. While you wait, how about you check out the blogs on the left? They are loads of fun to read and will get you through the excruciating wait for my next "real" post.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009