Eleven

I started to write this on the eve of Chrstmas Eve. The eve of our eleventh anniversary.

Eleven years. 11. More than a decade. Double digits.

Somehow, as I started to write, words failed me. How has my life been impacted by John’s presence in it? Could I ever sum that all up in a blog post? Really?

I’m not going to insult your intelligence by reporting on rose-tinted images of what we are all raised to believe of marriage. It hasn’t been all roses. It has been real work, real sruggles at times. There have even been times where either one of us was tempted to throw in the towel. We never have. Sometimes this is out of love for each other and sometimes this is simply because we are just too damned stubborn to give up on this life we have built together. One thing has remained constant: I love him and he loves me. He gets me. The career and education I value so much? They are fires that he started. When it becomes too much, and I am about to give up–when it would be so much easier to just give up–he is the one to tell me I cnnot do so. He is my best friend. Not in the cliched way, but truly. When I am off of work, I don’t crave time with female friends. Instead, I run home to my husband. Not because I have to, but because I want to. He is where I belong.

Over the past week, I’ve been pondering some of the memories of the past eleven years. We sure have had some good ones. And some bad. Regardless, we stick it out together. That is how it should be and just how it is. But as I think of these times, I am taken back to the day they happened, as if I am there.

January, 2001. We hadn’t even been married a month. But something was different and I sent John to the store at 8AM for a pregnancy test. And that is when we found out Evan was coming. John was so excited that he picked me up and spun me around and around in our kitchen of that tiny apartment. We were so happy. Looking back, I see how dumb this truly was. But then we had no idea of what was to come with the pregnancy. Or that we should have taken more time to be an “us” before we tried to bring children into the mix. But we were so young and so in love, and it just seemed perfect.

November, 2003. John was on academic probation because he had mismanaged his time and didn’t study. We were going to meet with the Dean of Academic Affairs at the college to speak to her about getting him back on track. And in the midst of the conversation, he told her I was “too smart to not go back to school”. With that one little statement, I quit my job as a third-shift clerk at a convenience store and strapped on a backpack for the first time in almost 9 years on January 4, 2004. After a 4.0 semester, I applied for early admission to the respiratory program and was accepted. After many semesters of petitioning that same dean for permission to take more than the maximum allowable credits, I finished. But it was like a fire was lit and I needed more.

May, 2006. I was graduating. John was supposed to graduate with me, but the night before his most difficult final, he stayed up watching dvd’s. He ended up missing the grade he needed by 3 points. It was heartbreaking for him, but that didn’t stop him. As I walked across the stage to be handed my degree, the lights were blinding. I walked down the steps and regained my sight, and there he was. Arms open. Beaming smile. He was so proud of me. It had been years since my mother and father had both died and I remember thinking that it was nice to once again have someone who was so proud of me, who was that invested in my success.

April, 2008. I was getting an MRI. They had found a brain tumor on the right side of the frontal lobe. I had been having blinding headaches, and had to be on a pretty strong cocktail of drugs to even get out of bed. I was sad for what could come of my family, scared we were going to lose everything, that I was going to need a surgery that, according to the neurosurgeon, would have wiped out my memories. Memories of my child’s name, my mother’s existence, my wedding day. All of it, gone. There was so much riding on that scan, which was to be the determining factor in whether I needed the surgery. But I was claustrophobic and the emotions and anxiety flooded me as they attempted to advance me into the scanner. “Get John,” I croaked. The tech tried to protest, citing radiation exposure. But I couldn’t do it. Not just the scan. The whole damned thing. I needed him. And I realized suddenly that it was the first time I really needed anyone, ever. And suddenly, he was there. Lead apron and all. And as they advanced me into the scanner, I told him to make sure he did something to let me know he was there, even when I couldn’t see him. He did. For almost an hour, while I lay in that tube, he rested his hand on my right shin. He never took it off for a second. Sometimes, he would even absentmindedly tap out the rhythm of the magnets as they spun in an orbit around my head inside the scanner, and I would giggle. I didn’t fall asleep. I didn’t concentrate on the music they piped in to me. I concentrated on the warm spot where his hand was. My John. And I realized that I could do anything with him by my side. Anything.

July, 2008. We did lose everything. I lost my job–wrongfully–after the brain tumor. And he is the one who prompted me, after medical clearance, to go and apply for a job in my hometown. And I did. And I got it. And though John and I were pros when it came to throwing our stuff into U-Hauls, this time they hired a moving company to come and pack my house for me and move it all to the new address. And John and I, since Evan was in school, drove to Cincinnati. That was the day he drove out of the way so I could see the skyline of my hometown as I made my big return. And as we did, he looked at me and said, “Welcome Home, Baby.” Because he gets me.

May 13, 2010. Zachary was in the NICU and I was in the recovery room. John kept running in, breathless and excited, to tell me something new. “Andrea! They took off his hat and he has this black hair that sticks up all over! It is so awesome!” Or to show me a photo on the camera. Or to tell me how cute Zach was as he curled up in his little isolette. And I had to keep telling him to go and sit with the baby. To go and be with him, since I couldn’t. And when they finally brought Zach to me, John led the way as the nurse brought Zach into the room. Almost like a little kid presenting you with macaroni art–that look that says, “Look what I made.”

John and I will have many more memories. Some good and some not so good. It’s life. It’s love. It’s marriage. But I wouldn’t want to do this with anyone else. Without him here, dreams have no meaning. Nothing would be worth it.

I’ll close this with a video. John and I don’t really have a song. We have a couple that come close, but the cool part of our relationship is that any love song I hear still brings visions of him wherever I am. But this one, though he doesn’t like it, is one of the ones that sums John up to me.

Here’s to another year.

Update

Everyone–and I mean everyone–in this house is on winter break right now. It is sheer chaos. I had all of these rosy visions for the time off. I was going to get to spend time with Evan putting up the tree, baking Christmas cookies. You name it, we were going to do it.

So what has really happened?

Evan has driven us crazy. As soon as he woke on the first day off, he was “bored”. I find myself giving in and surrendering my laptop so the kid will at least do something to amuse himself. Essentially, I hae turned into the mother I swore I would never be.

Speaking of Evan–He is now on a second medication. I hate it, but she swore it had less side effects than the others in its group. Seroquel. If you don’t know, it’s an antipsychotic. Not that Evan is psycho, but it is supposed to calm kids with ADHD and possibly quiet the Asperger meltdowns a little. It’s too early to say, but it may be working a little.

Zach has me worried to death. He still isn’t speaking very much at all–way behind where he should be. We have started the process to have him evaluated by the state’s early intervention program. I’m a little frustrated because they have told me that they will continue to adjust for his prematurity until age 2, rounding up to the next full month. So Zach was almost 7 weeks early, and they round that up to 2 months and subtraact that from his chronological age to determine that he is 17 months old, adjusted. When really, he is going to be 20 months in a couple of weeks. This means that while he is more delayed for 20 months, his delay will be more mild when he is assessed as a 17-month-old. And then they have to be so far gone before they qualify for the state’s free services, meaning if I want to get him help, I will have to pay out of pocket. Lovely, thanks. And then there is the worry that Zachy is doing exactly what Ev did at that age, and while I used to say Evan was fine, now I wonder about this Autism Spectrum stuff. And that their pregnancies were remarably similar, down to the drugs I was given. Whatever. I can’t think about that right now.

I’m still working on GMAT, and am hoping to take the exam on the 20th of January. Odds are in my favor for my top choice school, given my GPA and assuming I do okay on the exam.

John is still…John.

We are looking for three-bedroom houses. We cannot make this one work much longer. Zachary, who has shared a room with us all of this time, is becoming less of a baby and more of a little boy. Andd his little boy things out-number our things. And as he gets older, his toys get bigger, which really is a bad combo. Don’t believe me? Well, wedged in the corner of my bedroom, where the tv is, there are 4 ride-on toys, as well as one of those massive grow-with-me trikes he got for Christmas. John has to leap from the bed to get over the stuff in the morning. His toy box is overflowing, but we have no room for a second toybox, and the large toys are sitting on the floor, blocking every area other than the walkway between his crib and our bed. Yeah, we’ve outgrown this house. As far as the house search goes, that is another post entirely.

I think that’s it. I’ll be working on some other posts I’ve started as well. If anyone is still reading this my suckage at life in general.

 

I Shall Call This One “Someday”

Because…..

Someday, I will have time to make a dent in this 6-inch thick GMAT prep book.

Someday, I will have a day off of work.

Someday, Evan will go back to school.

Someday, Zach will start speaking and stop doing the whining/ grunting/ pointing thing.

Someday, this house will be clean. And neat. And organized.

And I will finish the 1000-page book I started reading out of a lapse in my sanity. Because for some reason, aside from GMAT prep, working like a dog, the questionably Aspergian high maintenance oldest child and the terrible-twos toddler, and all of the other shit I have to get done, I thought I would have time to read the damned thing.

Someday, I’ll relax.

Or maybe finish the apps for grad school.

Or maybe eat a dinner that is home cooked because we had time to cook.

Someday, there will not be sheer chaos in this house.

Someday, I will finish the 50 gazillion blog posts I have started about the different things I wanted to tell you all about but have not have the time to finish. On our Christmas. Or our anniversary. Or Evan’s progress and Zach’s delay.

But not now. Because right now, the tv is blaring, Zach is screaming because he doesn’t have the words or ability to tell John he wants apple juice. I am waiting for a phone call from the developmental interventionalist because I am finally worried about Zach’s speech delay to do something about it. And once I get the call, I have to go through the gu-wrenching possibility that my treatment during the pregnancy did something to him just when I thought it was all okay. And it is finally snowing outside, mixed with a bit of rain and freezing temps that are sure to make my commute a living hell.

And right now, I have to go to work. Again.

Fuck.

No Rest For the Wicked

I swear, everybody, that this next comment is going to make me seem like a braggart. I’m not. I’m really, really not. But some people have to really work at academics. I am not one of those people. From grade school, I have handled school work with ease. My business classes have been a cakewalk other than the demands on my time and the volume of work to be done. It isn’t that the work is demanding–it’s just overwhelming for my current schedule.

I am currently in a statistics course. It seems like common sense, and I have an A in the course with only two more assignments to be graded before winter break. But I swear, some of the assignments have been insanely difficult. Maybe it is because it is difficult to learn the intricacies of these complex mathematical formulas online with no face time with my professor. I can do the work but it is actually taking a certain amount of effort. Monday, for example, I had to complete a project that involved a 250 sample size, including organizing the data, computing solutions for problems regarding the data, and presenting it all in spreadsheet form along with an APA-formatted paper analyzing and interpreting the meaning of the information I extrapolated from the data. All of this was done after working all weekend and not sleeping. I literlly came home from work on Monday morning and sat at my desk at 7:30 AM and not completing it until 1AM Monday night/ Tuesday morning. At one point, whether it was from exhaustion, stress, being overwhelmed, or whatever, I actually broke down into tears. In the process, John kept looking over my shoulder, shaking his head and exclaiming how no human could possibly understand the stuff I was being asked to do for the project. He brewed me 5 pots of coffee throughout the day. And then, once completed, I had to hurry and finish the 46-slide PowerPoint presentation on the organizational effectiveness of my current employer. By the end of the night, I was nauseous, my fingers were swollen from feverishly typing, my back/ neck/ head ached. I was still sore the next morning, and didn’t want to even see typeface for a while. No Kindle, no blogs or blogging, no reading.

I am almost finished. I will be on winter break from Monday through January 8th, when I will return to a whirlwind of classes before I can move on to the MBA. As a matter of fact, I will have 6 more 5.5-week sessions, back to back, with 2 classes each session. For the immediate period of time, I am working every hour that is available. I have 3 days off between now and January 4th, and none of those are holidays.

And now starts my countdown for my GMAT and working on grad school applications. I have put in for vacation for the last 2 weeks of January–time to wrap up exam prep and actually take the exam, hopefully with a few days left over to do nothing work- or school-related. To maybe kick back and celebrate what I have done just a little bit. On a side note, I actually got some interest from M.I.T, which actually hurt a little bit. I cannot pick up my entire family and move like that, though their interest is beyond flattering.  I mean, this is the number  3 MBA program in the country! For me, when just this time last year, I was on track to med school. Maybe in a different time and place. But for now, I have my top three choices and a couple of “safety” schools picked out, and we’ll leave it at that.

In the meantime, I am going to try to spend some downtime here in the Blogosphere over he net three weeks. Please be patient with me and don’t lose interest.

I’m not a huge country fan, though I love me some Kenny Chesney. His music just reminds me of my John. But anyway, he has this song that sums it up pretty well, and I leave you with the key line from it:

“Hey, I wanted it all and that’s what I got.”

Bitchypants, Out.

Taking the Bait: The Kindle

I posted earlier about my reluctance to buy a Kindle.

I did it. It was only $79. I practically had to buy the damned thing. It’s been a little over a week since, and I have actually had a few minutes to read because the thing fits so easily in my purse. I am on my third and final book of The Hunger Games trilogy, which is yet again a series designed for young adults that really is for adults. Love it. So far, I have bought 10 books for a fraction of the cost I would have been able to buy the hard copies. And I have downloaded 15 of the classics for free or for less than a dollar. Titles like War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Les Miserables…. After I finish the book I am reading, I hope to tackle the ambitious IQ84.

What do I love about the Kindle? Well the price of books, for one. The ease of reading–the small device is less cumbersome than a 500+ page book, and the fact that you can adjust the font to a comfort level for your eyes translates to very easy reading and the pages fly by. And while I scoffed at the portability of having one’s entire library in their purse, the convenience of it is hard to pass up. The battery life is amazing and in over a week, I have only charged it once. Even then, it wasn’t really needed, but the battery was only at 3/4 life and I am so used to how other batteries work (laptop, phone, mp3 player), I plugged it in to charge out of habit. I haven’t charged it since and it is only half-gone.

What do I dislike? I’m not crazy about the “special offers” that come on the cheaper model. They don’t bother me that much and only appear as a small, non-intrusive banner ad on the home screen and as a full ad when I stop reading and the device is idle. I hate the commercialism of it, but they don’t bother me other than that. The only other complaint is some of the content for the Kindle store. It seems that there is this entire self-publishing movement out there and that anyone with any sort of resources can write a book and put it on the Kindle store. The problem is that not everyone is destined to write the next great novel, and there is some real crap floating around out there. I stumbled upon a little of it, not realizing this.

I will still try to post a little of the stuff I read. I suspect there will be more of it now. But anyhow, speaking of reading…

I’ve been very busy, as you are about to discover in subsequent posts. I am still visiting and loving all of your blogs, but things have been crazy, and thus I have been catching up via my Google Reader on my phone. And I hate typing on the thing, so that is why there are no comments.

Just for a Moment

image

Just for a moment, I got to put my feet up. A brief 5 minutes over the course of 13 hours of work. And as you can tell from the photo, I got to check my blog. Just for a minute, before ventilators started alarming again and patients started to have trouble. It has been an exhausting weekend. Exhausting. And now it is Monday, and I am off of work only to be immersed in papers and presentations and reading for school. And in sticky handprints and peanut butter sandwiches and vacuuming up Golfish crackers that have been ground into a pulp in the carpet.

Sometimes, when you want it all, when you aspire to have everything, that is exacly what you get.

 

Why the am I Getting a Call From a Liquor Store at 10 AM?

So today, I am figuring bills, and just like every late-November/ December, there never seems to be enough money. The car needs new tires. My last car, a little compact, took about $300 to do this. My car now? Well, the cheapest estimate is $775. And then there is Christmas presents. Evan wants an iPod Touch, and music seems to soothe him, and he really uses the El-Cheapo mp3 player he has now, so he shall get what he wants. And he needs a new bike. And scooter. And anything else I can give him to get him active. In other words, we are long-removed from the days where several $20-toys satisfied him. And John broke the artificial tree the last year that we put one up–years ago. I know, I know. I’m a horrible mom. But those are expensive, and I really wanted to put one up this year…..

I was just about to have a mini Andi meltdown when the phone rang this morning. John had left to fill a prescription. And it was the landline, which never rings anymore. “Deters Liquors” said the caller ID. W….T….F?????? It was 10 AM.

And I answer. It’s John. My eyes immediately diverted to the desk, where his cell was wedged in between the modem, printer, and laptop. And then my next reaction: HE HAS ZACH WITH HIM! AT A FUCKING LIQUOR STORE! Parenting at its best, right there. And then my next thought, “This has got to be bad.” We don’t drink. Not wine, not beer. Once every few years, I will have a Grey Goose and tonic on New Years’ when I am not working. Every. Few. Years. Why is my husband at a liquor store that isn’t even on the way to the pharmacy, with my toddler in tow?

“Ummmm, Andrea?”

WHAT THE….”

” I’m gonna be a little longer. I got held up.”

“Whaddya mean, ‘held up’? You have Zach with you. At a liquor store, Dude.”

“Well……I-know-you-hate-when-I-play-the-lottery-and-say-it’s-a-total-waste, but…….”

“BUT WHAT?!?!”

“I bought a $3 ticket and…….I kinda won. Well, no, I did win. A thousand dollars. I’m waiting for them to cash it now, but she had to call her manager to get into the safe to get it.”

I couldn’t really be mad anymore, could I? Though I was still pondering the liquor store. And having visions of my husband having a secret problem that I didn’t know about. Hittin’ the bottle in the wee hours while I’m at work or something. But I should’ve known that that was never John’s style. He had a little incident while drunk in his Marine Corps days that turned him off a long time ago. That and cheating are the two things I never have to worry about with John.

It turned out the story was really innocent. He had stopped to get gas and bought the ticket at a gas station. The place was packed, with really skeevy-looking people. And while John isn’t afraid of anyone, he had enough sense to know that he did not want to get mugged with Zachy in his arms. He had the $1K, plus a substantial sum of my pay on his person, which equated to a pretty healthy sum. He was being protective. And smart. And he went to the liquor store that I used to stop at on the way anywhere to get a Diet Coke. They knew us there, because we would stop because they were never crowded. And he knew this. And so he drove a little out of the way to cash the ticket in where there weren’t skeevy eyes watching him fold the wad of bills into his wallet. I find it all incredibly cute, actually.

So the moral of the story is that we had $997 more than we had when he went to the pharmacy. I felt like I had to do something with the money, so we took a trunk-full of diapers to a local charity for single parents who said they were in desperate need of size 3 diapers. You know—Karma and all. And I replaced the Christmas tree. And paid some bills, all with free money.

If I were a religious person, I would’ve said someone was looking out for me.