Sunday, January 31, 2010

Box it, label it and put it way

Unfortunately, I am now my own counselor.  I am struggling with a problem which has lasted longer than most of my problems.  Often, my problems seem to magically disappear within a fairly short period of time- sometimes overnight.

I have had to construct a plan for dealing with the current problem, since it is not going away and it puts me in a bad mood.  The plan is to label it, box it and put it away.  It is going to remain, but I don't want it to affect me anymore.

I am embarrassed to admit that the problem has to do with money.  Before The Child entered my life, I made a pact with myself that I was never going to let money make any of my decisions having to do with The Child.   That as back before my huge salary cut which resulted from the reorganization of my workplace. 

And for years, I stuck to that rule- I paid a king's ransom for organic cloth diapers after carefully researching the topic, I paid for a very pricey private preschool, I paid thousands each year for the very best babysitters.  From a very early age, the Child loved electronics and I indulged his every whim, more or less. When The Father sued me for custody of The Child, I spent thousands on a lawyer to prevent the troubled, abusive man from ruining The Child's life.

Then a couple of years ago my workplace shut down for a few months and then miraculously resurrected, but with radically lower pay for all employees.  There are precious few jobs in this field (no openings in the entire country right now) so job seeking was never a viable option.

Here's the problem:  The Child was born with problematic teeth.  He's missing 10 adult teeth- they'll never come in because they're not there.  Three years ago the Child and I started seeing an orthodontist.  I paid $2500, thinking that that was it- I was finished paying for orthodontia- and I thought that was quite a lot of money!

Imagine my shock when, during last week's orthodontist appointment, I was handed a bill for over $5,000!!!  After they scraped me up off the floor, they explained that the $2500 was for phase 1.  The $5,000+ was for phase 2, and phase 3 would follow!  (Mind you, The Child doesn't even have braces on his teeth yet!)

So that's it- that's my problem.  In my current state of finances, that $5,000+ is prohibitive and I'm having a hard time accepting it.

I am putting it in a box labeled "An unexpected, unwelcome expense which could be higher and could be related to something far more unpleasant then The Child's orthodontia.  As far as problems go, this is not a very bad one.  The people who jumped out of windows during the 1929 stock market crash did not have their priorities straight."

Hopefully the box will now collect dust in some remote, neglected corner of my mind.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy New Year??

I was invited to a New Year's Eve party.  It's an annual get-together; I've attended for the past few years.  The attendees are interesting although I usually end up in a tension-ridden conversation before the night is over.  I don't drink; I'm the only one there who doesn't.  By now I'm accustomed to being the oddball in social situations, The One Who Doesn't Drink.  But that wasn't the problem.

I felt a bit strange that evening.  Something in the atmosphere made me uneasy.  The hostess is a good friend of mine.  I didn't dare not show up or leave early, because she is easliy offended.   But that wasn't the problem.

The hostess and her husband are serious art collectors.  I tried to relieve my uneasiness by looking around at their museum pieces.


I left before midnight, claiming that I'd turn into a pumpkin otherwise.

Then, in the wee hours of January 2nd, it started.  I am not the sickly type; I've not even suffered from as much as the sniffles during the past several years.  And I don't vomit.  It's just not in my repertoire.

But in the wee hours of January 2nd, I was out of bed, pacing the floors, feeling horrible.  In an act I'd later regret, I made a glass of warm water laced with the juice of half a lemon to try to settle my stomach.

It didn't help.  I glanced in the mirror and saw that I did not look well- I was as pale as could be.

Before I knew it, the unthinkable was occurring.  I was vomiting.  I was projectile vomiting, over and over, for hours.  The acidic lemon juice nearly caused me to aspirate on vomit.  I became so weakened that I could barely make it from the bed to the toilet.  Between onslaughts, I was in agony, moaning and groaning.  I told The Child that I could not take care of him until I was better (secretly, I wondered if I was dying).  I told him which drawer the money was in so that he could pay the pizza delivery man.  I was so sick that I called out for my mother, who has been deceased for many years.

Remember, I am not the sickly type.  Whenever I do have the slightest thing wrong with me, I am able to figure out what caused it.  This time I was stumped.  What could have caused my life to turn upside down like this?

Well, I found out the answer last night.  It turns out that the hostess of the New Year's Eve party had the stomach flu the night of the party.  The woman who rents a room in her house, also at the party and preparing food, was just recovering from stomach flu!

I think that I experienced a sense of foreboding on the night of that party.  I am very careful about avoiding germs, and maybe I had a 6th sense about the germs present in the house that night.

My social life is nearly nonexistent, and then when I finally do go out, this happens!

My opinion is that it is the responsibility of the host to present a germ-free environment to the greatest extent possible.  That party should have been canceled!  At the very least, guests should have been informed of the presense of illness beforehand so that they could decide whether they wanted to risk being exposed.  I would have chosen to stay home!!!!

Friday, January 01, 2010

end of a decade

I didn't even realize until yesterday that we are beginning a new decade, not just a new year.  So much happened in my life over the past 10 years.

10 years ago I was living in a beautiful Victorian house in the downtown neighborhood I loved.  Above is a photo of the side of the house.  (Interestingly, I just had a dream about this house last night.  In the dream, I was attempting to buy this house back!)  But during the 18 months we lived in this house, I wasn't the same person I am now.  I was insecure and easily influenced by outside opinions and events.  Long story short- I sold the house and moved to the one we're in now:

I have been frustrated with living in this more suburban neighborhood.  We have to drive everywhere, and that's not in line with my beliefs and desires.

But it's located on a park, which I thought The Child would enjoy:

One of the positive results of moving here is that I enrolled The Child in a terrific private preschool located nearby.  He loved going to school there.  It was all about playing creatively and learning how to effectively interact with other people.  The social skills The Child learned there will serve him for the rest of his life.

My work schedule was such a challenge for a single parent.  I worked very odd hours and one of the toughest things I ever did was to seek babysitters to cover my schedule. 

One angel in the form of a babysitter came to us through an ad in a suburban newspaper.  She was 12 years old and lived a few blocks away.  I still remember the day I first showed up at her door with the Child.  The connection between the 12 year old girl and The Child, then age 5, was palpable.  I could almost see electricity shooting between them.  They loved all of the same things, and she was the best sitter we ever had.  As an interesting aside, she ended up choosing the same career path as mine, which happens to be a very unusual one!

She couldn't cover all of my work hours, of course, but I was fortunate to be able to hire the mother of a co-worker who frequently came to our house.  She became like a mother to me, but unfortunately we lost her to complications from diabetes. 

I also lost a dear friend from work due to breast cancer.  She was as sweet as could be, and things haven't been the same without her presence.  She and her husband used to take The Child and me out to eat regularly, and they were as close to grandparents as The Child ever had.

And then there was Mr. D, our next door neighbor.  When he died a few months ago, I was so upset that I vowed to move out of this neighborhood as soon as possible.  His personality was so large that its absence created a huge void in the neighborhood, all the more noticeable to me because his house was the only one near ours.  His widow still owns the house but spends most of her time in Florida.

When we first moved here, The Child did spend time outdoors, often enjoying the park.  More recently, though, he has become the indoor type, content to spend every waking moment with his computer, especially the one he just built by himself:

Public school, especially after having had such an extraordinary preschool experience, has not been impressive!  It's drudgery to be endured.......

We went through some challenges with The Child's father.  Three years ago there was a horrible scene, followed by a lengthy court battle which pretty much ran my life for over a year.  The Father ended up with no parental rights.  (He never paid child support either, but to me it was worth it to have no ties.)   Over the past couple of weeks, The Child did see his father a couple of times, but I am proceeding with much caution. Thanks to the court outcome, I call the shots.

Career-wise, I completed a major project last year which I never thought would be possible.  After that I took on a couple of extra responsibilities at work which don't increase my income, but which do increase my variety of experiences.  I never could have accepted those duties in my younger days; I didn't have the confidence until now.

Houses have figured prominently in my life over the past years since The Child was born.  Two years ago I was broken-hearted over losing out on a house back in the downtown neighborhood:

The house had been sitting on the market for 3 years, so the price was sinking to a ridiculously low level.  On the day I finally made my offer, someone else bought the house.  This is "the one that got away."

I almost forgot to mention that last year I had the experience of unemployment when my workplace shut down.  Luckily, it re-opened after a few months, but I didn't know that it would!  I'd say that the most upsetting and depressing aspect of unemployment was trying to buy health insurance.  I ended up paying $230/month for catastrophic insurance for myself and The Child.  That's a lot of money when you have no income.

Another downer of the decade was that my sister was diagnosed with tongue cancer.  At one point , following chemo and radiation, she was told that she was cured.  A few months later, the cancer returned with a vengeance.  Surgeons removed much of her tongue.  She is receiving speech therapy, but has to be fed through a food tube.

Those are a few of the facts punctuating my past decade.  I will always remember it as the decade during which The Child grew from a toddler to a Middle Schooler.

Happy New Year.