January 16, 2004

Good afternoon.  It has been an interesting couple of days and I'm working to remain dispassionate and view the things that are going on as simply events that are occurring rather than anything particularly personal.  It's just part of the process of life.

It's nothing really devastating like life or limb, but more of extremely inconvenient things going on and having to adapt and adjust and problem solve. It can't always be miracles, angels and balloons, but I refuse to entertain the idea that they are anything but right around the corner.

Many of you will remember that a little over a year ago, things were really bad, we needed a car desperately and one presented to us under the best of circumstances.  It was a really good car and the seller was willing to take payments we could afford.  We only paid $700 for it and it has served us well.  It has been fussing for a couple of months now, shimmying a lot at high speeds and the brakes being spongy.  Eric paid $20 to have it put up on a rack and found out that the shimmy was something really simple... a tire was out of balance.  He got it fixed for free and all was very well.  They also checked the brakes and said that the 1988 Cadillac Seville was the first car to offer anti-lock brakes and that since it was a proto-type, they are crap and can only be serviced by the dealership.  Eric took it to the dealership because the brakes are now just gone.  They said that it would cost $1500 to fix the brakes and have the car at all drivable.  This is our only working vehicle. 

He ended up limping the poor car home and practically putting his foot out the car door in front of the house to stop it and there it sits.  This means it's going to be nearly impossible to get groceries (fortunately, we just stocked up and are OK there) and for him to get to the few odd jobs he can do (but he's been having his partner pick him up).  So it's workable for the moment, but could get very disastrous soon.  We have two other vehicles.  One is his beloved 1969 VW bus, which has serious engine issues and isn't reliable overall.  The other is Joe's 1977 Maverick, which has transmission issues and will cost a bit to get smog-passable.  Beyond that, options are limited.  We definitely are not in a position to finance a new car (they like you to have a job for that, not to mention that we couldn't afford the payment) and we don't have enough cash right now to buy a used one and pay full price.  I can feel Eric starting to panic over this latest development and he is taking it as a personal attack by the universe.  I can't blame him.  It's been a long, tough road since he was laid off in June and even before that with his intermittent working. 

They are working out the fine points of this wonderful contract today, as nearly as I can tell.  Between now and the time they start working, they have to find funding for materials or else lose the contract and their good name.  They are going to be talking to some venture capitalists and other sources of help for small businesses to see what kind of options they have.  He's getting more and more keyed up and it's hard to keep him grounded and centered in the faith and the belief that everything will be OK and worry and panic will only be detrimental.

We also learned this week that no unemployment cases are being extended.  In California, a claim is good for 6 months and Eric's is running out in a month or so.  Because of the changes Arnold is making in California government spending (which I do understand and support), they have all extensions on hold until further notice.  Plus there's that issue of the clerical error on Eric's part that is going to cost him about $450 and 5 weeks of suspended benefits.  Since his unemployment makes up the bulk of our income, it's pretty scary.  I'm still awed and amazed that we've made it through the past six months.  That's a miracle in and of itself and we did it just one day at a time.  That's pretty much how I plan to handle these most recent challenges as well.

I can see Eric starting to not sleep well, not think well, not breathe well.  It's amazing he hasn't started smoking or drinking again and I give full credit for that to the incredible, indomitable spirit he possesses.  My part is to keep him clear minded and centered and not let him fly off the handle with the fear and panic.  He's having his moments, but otherwise, he's doing quite well under the circumstances. 

We're still exploring every option, opening any inroad to success that we can find and not disqualifying anything.  I'm not sure when the time will come that I should start looking for work.  Right now, he makes more money on his occasional jobs than I could make in a week of work and they come up at odd times and can't really be scheduled out... they have to be done right then. That makes it difficult for me to have any kind of work schedule.  If I do have to go to work, the site will have to go away because there's no way I can do the work required to keep it alive, plus work, plus take care of the house.  I've learned that when I stretch myself that thin, everybody loses.  I would hate that because I really enjoy having the website and doing all this writing.  I am praying it doesn't come to that, but it's one of the options I really do have to investigate. 

Now, my feeling is that we are in a holding pattern, waiting for more info to emerge and more options to present themselves.  (If anyone in the Sacramento area has a car or a bunch of money they aren't using, just jet me an e-mail)  If Eric gets even one more unemployment check before they cut it off, we'll have enough to cover February's rent.  If the W-2's ever frickin come in we will have a good tax return.  If they are able to get a loan against the value of the contract they are signing, all will be well and every single problem will be solved.  All of this could turn around in a single moment.  It's those critical breaths of time when life changes in that very instant that are the most holy, I think.  You just have to keep breathing the rest of the time and wait for those loaded moments to hit.  Deep breaths.  In.  Out.  And life goes on and this becomes a a very short entry in a very long story.

I also have a full bloomed new calla lily that flew up out of absolutely nowhere.  There aren't any others.  The rest are browned and dead blooms.  I looked around through the leaves and there aren't any newbies coming up.  

Just in case some miracle lilies crawl up in the next week or so, here's my evidence:

Here is some little miracle that fizzled out before it ever even bloomed.

This is a fuzzy picture of the new mystery lily and one of the browned out ones.

This is the heart of lily central.  No new sprouts coming up.  I want to see what happens in the next week or so!  We just had a good run of miracles and I don't want to be greedy, but situations have presented themselves that require some immediate attention (Calling St Jude!).

I've got a cold trying to take hold.  My throat has been really irritated and tickly and itchy for a couple of days now and when I woke up this morning, my ears were hurting and my head was all heavy and cottony.  I've been coughing and headachy and sniffly all through the day and I've been trying to ward it off.  I just don't have time to be sick right now.

I got to see Georgia yesterday, which always resets my world to a good place.  I love laughing and talking with her.  It was a great break from the challenges that have been going on.  Then today, another friend of mine, Melissa, took me out to lunch and we had a great time.  We haven't known each other long, but she's a very interesting person and it was wonderful to spend time getting to know her better.  I'm so grateful for the people I know, both on and off the net.  It's been such an interesting life and I've met really fascinating folks along the way.  

Last year, I decided that I would start watching more prime time TV.  I've been off of it for about 5 years due to husband imposed exile.  It's like on "Pulp Fiction" where Jules says, "My girlfriend's a vegetarian which pretty much means I'm a vegetarian."  Since I spend my evenings with Eric and he will haughtily attest that he *sniff* "hates primetime," I have been utterly devoid of prime time entertainment.  He likes to watch good stuff, don't get me wrong.  Discovery Channel, The History Channel and other interesting stuff is on his agenda, but usually it's about the Rise and Fall of Hitler or the Esteemed Dynamics of D Day or Extreme Parachute Monster Truck Rally and Mud Wrestling Fest, 2003.  Fourteen hours of "What Dolphins Do" starts to wear thin. 

The good thing is that Spike TV has been running Star Trek , The Next Generation every night at 8pm since before it was Spike TV (It used to be TNN, I think), then it's a glorious 8-11 on Friday nights.  It's a shared joy.  Most of the episodes, we've seen so many times that we have our own script for them, peppered with such lines as:

"Worf, if I'd know you were going to bitch incessantly, I wouldn't have let you on the away team."

"Put those breasts away, Counselor Troi.  I'm but a man."

[In the turbo lift] "Did you fart, Number One?"

"Wesley, must you be such a fuckwad?"

"Counselor Troi, Data, Dr Crusher and Ensign Martinez, you're with me on the away team.  Guess who isn't coming back?"

"Excuse me, Counselor Troi, I think your hair has an erection."

So we do watch that, which is nice.  We also both got involved in the DVD releases of The Sopranos and are now caught up to the new season that starts in March.  After watching them 5-6  episodes a week, I'm going crazy now having to wait with the rest of the unwashed masses for the new season to start.

I have also been enjoying TNT's "Drama in the Daytime" series.  I've mentioned many times that I started off with "Judging Amy."  That was the gateway drug show.  I have since determined that I very much enjoy all of the characters on that show except Amy and her yapping little daughter.  I watch them primarily to smirk when they get their comeuppance.  Maxine, Bruce, Donna, Gillian are all wonderful watching and I get a particular rush when Maxine tells off Amy, all the while being clear that she loves her, just doesn't respect her self-centered bullshit.  Amy led to... thinking... "Charmed."  I avoided it like the plague because there was heavy risk for me hating it.  I picked it up right after Prue died, watched it through to this season and now it has started over again, proving my suspicious that the Paige episodes are better than the Prue episodes, although it has been a joy watching Ted King (rrrowwll).  I happened to let Amy run long once on the day that the best episode of "Angel" aired, which was the "Numfar!  Do the dance of joy!" episode.  That started me watching Angel sort of half heartedly, but then I started watching "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" from 7-9am and I'm totally hooked, especially by Spike.  I was concerned that I was starting to feel some intense sympathy to Spike, the undisputed bad guy, as well as a certain degree of attraction.  I consulted with my friend, Victoria, Goddess of all things Joss Whedon, and she assured me that I'm right on target and that there's really good Buffy and Spike stuff coming up, so I'm glued to the screen.

Eric is out detoxing with his friends tonight.  I tried to order potato skins from the pizza joint down the road, thinking I'd blow my diet for the night and drown out my sick and loneliness in a glorious carb fest.  Ordered them, then they called me back 10 minutes later to say they were out of them.  Damnable diet magic.  Kids had chicken nuggets and tater tots and are stuffed and easing into the quiet of the night.  The little boys are usually asleep by 7:30 or so and Delena will likely be up for the night.  She's quite the night owl.  Not sure what I'll do yet.  I feel restless and bored and like I want to do something fun, but don't know what it will be.  I'm feeling the beginning of a headache, so it will likely be holing up in my room and reading after the kids are asleep.  There is a lot of cleaning I could do, but that's not forthcoming tonight.  I've got a three day weekend to do it and can recruit help at the same time instead of just doing it myself.  I'm wholly unmotivated.  I feel like my "giving" font is all gived out.  I need a vacation or something. 

Done rambling, oh yes I am!  For tonight, at least.  Hope you all have a STELLAR weekend and that the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house (thusly taking a wrong turn).  I'm off to rustle up some kind of low carb, low fat crap for dinner.  See you on Monday or Tuesday, depending on when the storm clouds of madness part, letting the beam of bright, warm time and inspiration shine through.

Much love,