My cross country trip

When Beauty was 9 months old we made a trip to see her spermdonor father in Delaware. I live on the west coast. Pretty much as far west as you can go and not be in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Are you aware of where exactly Delaware is located? Clear across the freaking country!!! 3000 miles across the country actually! I made the trip once before on the train with my ex and the in-laws. The train was actually pretty cool. The in-laws had a sleeper car and they slept during the day so the ex and I slept at night. It worked out perfect! We could get up and walk around which made 3 days go a heck of a lot faster than one would think. The one scary thing about that trip was when we got to Chicago and the ex and I decided to go outside to get some fresh air (isn’t that a myth in Chicago?) and were approached by a man in a trench coat with his hands in his pockets. I was so scared all I could do was hang on to the ex for dear life and hope my in-laws would be able to identify the body. Turns out he wanted to sell us some cheap jewelery. o.O

Anyway, my second time making that same trip was on the Greyhound Bus with a 9-month-old who was teething and learning to crawl. 4 days, 3 nights. On a bus. With a baby. By myself. In August. I’m from Podunk, Nowhereville and I was 21. Getting the picture here? My luggage consisted of Beauty, a diaper bag full of clothes, formula, food, diapers and wipes. I also had another bag full of more diapers, clothes and wipes, a small insulated bag with ice packs cold water to make her bottles since she would only drink them if they were really really cold, a big suitcase with the rest of our clothes and more diapers and formula, a stroller and a heavy leather jacket. Yes, I brought a heavy leather jacket with me on a cross-country trip to the east coast where I’m pretty sure the temp never dropped below 100.  Don’t judge!

So we made it there ok, a little wilted and a lot tired of sitting but we made it. We spent 10 days in Delaware mostly hanging out in the air-conditioned house. The first time I was there it was winter. I think it was the worst winter New York had seen in something like 30 years. My second trip was obviously nothing like that. We did take the stroller to the park one day but after about 20 minutes thought we were going to die of heat stroke so went back to the in-laws. I did get to see lightning bugs for the first and only time in my life! That was pretty cool! The night before we left I didn’t get any sleep because Beauty wasn’t feeling good and I was trying to make sure I got all of our stuff packed and we had to be at the bus station at 4:00 in the morning. Yep, that’s right. I prepared for a 4-day/3-night bus ride across country by staying up for 24 hours. Brilliant, I know. We made it to the bus station at oh-dark o’clock and loaded the bus for our adventure home.

First stop…NYC! I had never been to New York before. I was hoping to be able to see something recognizable like the Statue of Liberty or something. Well, we may have been in the area where I could have seen Lady Liberty…if I had been awake! Beauty woke me up just as we started to pull into the bus station. We got into the terminal and tried to find a place to wait for our next bus… for 7 hours! Yes, you read that right. We had to be at the bus station in the middle of the night to catch a bus to take us to NYC so we could wait for 7 freaking hours at one of the scariest places I’ve ever been in my entire life. I was a smoker and wanted to go outside. I had to go up 3 flights of stairs to get outside. One of the very nice security people talked to the ticket agent people and let me leave my stuff with them so I wouldn’t have to carry it all up and down the stairs. So we made it up the stairs and outside. I don’t know even know what part of town the Greyhound station is in but to this 21 year-old mom from Podunk, Nowhereville it was truly frightening. XXX shops and stripper bars everywhere. There was a homeless man (I’m guessing here) that kept walking back and forth in front of the doors, stopping at each end to check the garbage cans for treasures, yelling at the top of his lungs “THE WORLD…IS GOING TO END…TOMORROW!!!” The security guy that was working at the street level was also amazing in that he came over and took one look at me and said “Honey, you’re not from around here, are you?” I said in a teeny squeaky voice “no”. He radioed for another security officer to come up get me and he also talked to the ticket agents and informed them that I was NOT going to be going upstairs again and that if I promised to stand right by the door where the buses pull in I could stand there and smoke.

After what felt like forever we finally were able to get on the bus and head for home. I don’t remember our exact route (it’s been almost 20 years, give me a break!) but I remember that I met some pretty amazing people on that bus ride home. This was in the days before cell phones so it’s not like I could keep in contact with anyone or play video games or something. All the smokers congregated to the back of the bus. Because I had the baby I was able to sit all the way in the back by the bathroom for most of the trip. You know, the one where there are 3 seats? Yeah, it was next to the bathroom which sucked and it was right on top of the engine which sucked even more but at least I didn’t have to hold the baby the whole time. We had one bus driver that just so happened to be a smoker too. There weren’t very many people on the bus and most of us smoked so he would call over the intercom “Hey! You guys in the back! Is it getting a little bumpy back there? See, they have to log every stop so he was logging the extra stops at rest areas as “tire checks”. That was also the bus that the air-conditioning broke. That SUCKED a really lot! Going through the mid-west, in late August, on a bus, with no air conditioning    o.O  The driver was nice enough to open the escape hatch on the roof so we could at least have some air but it was like sitting in front of a furnace blowing hot air at you. Not really helpful. Our next big stop we were able to transfer to a different but with working A/C which made things 1000% better.

Most of us riding through the midwest were headed for somewhere on the west coast so we ended up together for a long time. We kind of became like a little family. I remember one lady that was probably in her late 60’s/early 70’s that just fell in love with Beauty. If Beauty was sleeping during one of the “tire check” stops she would go sit with her so I could go outside. Of course I always stayed right by the bus door but it was really nice to be able to step away for a minute. There was also a very cool black lady that almost killed a man because he tried to sit on the Baby Beauty! We made a stop in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere and this drunk guy got on and he came all the way to the back of the bus thinking he would just sit back there. We had tied a trash bag to the bathroom door and it had some cans in it and he bumped the bag when he was trying to sit on Beauty and it woke everyone up. The lady (I’ll call her J, mostly because I don’t remember her name!) woke up screaming at Big Drunk Guy and getting all up in his business! BDG ended up going into the bathroom and lighting up a joint. Needless to say, he didn’t last long. He was kicked off the bus at the next stop. If you’re reading this BDG… Sorry dude, hope you were able to find a ride at 2 in the morning from a closed up station in the middle of nowhere!

I think the worst was when they would stop at some scary station at 3 in the morning and make everyone get off the bus so they could clean it. Do you people know what it’s like to wake up a 9-month-old at 3 in the morning and take her into a brightly lit new place and expect her to go back to sleep??? Not gonna happen! We did finally make it home safely and lived to tell the story. Beauty likes to tell people she’s been to NYC. She just leaves out the part that she was a baby…

 

 

Starting Over

Someone recently asked me “Are you happy?”. That question made me stop and think. In the last year:

  • I turned 40
  • I lost my home
  • Lost my job
  • Found a new home and a new job that I love
  • Said goodbye to some people
  • Reconnected with some old friends
  • Purchased a different vehicle
  • Started a new blog
  • Felt heartache and loss
  • Discovered joy in things I hadn’t thought about before
  • Discovered Pinterest and learned  how to make my own yogurt
  • Learned that sometimes people aren’t what they seem

Am I happy? Well, I’m not unhappy so that’s something, right?

When I was a little girl, like pretty much every little girl since the beginning of time, I dreamed what my life would be like when I grew up. I pictured myself married with 2 or 3 kids, raising my family in the house with a big yard surrounded by a white picket fence. That’s about where my fantasy ended. I never thought beyond that. I’m pretty sure most little girls back then didn’t. Then my life got turned upside down. My parents told me we were moving to a different state. My 9 year-old self was devastated. We all survived the move and I survived starting a new school that had more kids in 3 classrooms than there were in the entire school in my hometown. It wasn’t an easy transition but it was a fresh start and we made it work.

Then my world got turned upside down again. Two months before my 13th birthday my dad died. Talk about devastation! I was a daddy’s girl and pretty much my whole life revolved around him. I once again had to figure out how to start over and get through life without the most important man in my life. My mom did the best she could and I will always be grateful to her for trying to make sure our lives went on. I’ve been a single mom for 19 years now and I now have a small idea how hard that must have been for her.

When I was 19  met the guy I thought was “the one”. I was wrong!!! I didn’t listen to my family or any of my friends when they tried to tell me. I ended up pregnant and alone. I had to learn how to be strong because I didn’t have a choice. If I wasn’t there to advocate for myself and my child, nobody else would do it for me. That child is now 19 herself and I see a lot of myself in her. It scares me to death!

Thirteen years ago I gave birth to my second miracle. We had to start over with a new person to care for and love. It hasn’t been easy but it’s been worth it.

In my 30’s I went to college for a fresh start. I had big dreams of landing a job in the field I had been trained in. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I ended up working at Walmart just to pay the bills.

Last year I landed a great job working in a totally different field that I frankly knew nothing about. I love it! For the first time in my life I feel like I have truely earned the respect I so badly wanted growing up!

Not everything is as I had hoped it would be but I feel like I’ve been given a fresh start this year and I don’t plan to waste it!

Of Mice and Me

My biggest fear, other than something happening to one of my children, is mice. I don’t care how many people tell me “They’re more afraid of you then you are of them!” LIES! I think it goes clear back to when I was a child and my parents and I used to live out in the woods in our camper for the entire summer. My dad was a real cowboy. He worked for a man who had cattle all over the countryside and his job was to round them up, count them and move them to different areas to graze. I had a horse named Midge that I would ride and help him. I was maybe 7 years old. This was in the days before cell phones and Ipods and video games. We actually lived in a camper. Not a big fancy 40′ motor home either. Just a little cab-over camper that my dad and uncle built onto a flat-bed truck. We bathed in the creek upstream from the cows. We cooked over the fire. We didn’t even have a bathroom, just a hole that my dad dug and put a wooden box over with a toilet seat on it. My city kids would never survive!Anyway, in our camper there was a drawer below the fridge. One day my mom and I were fixing lunch and when my mom pulled out that drawer a rodent jumped out and tried to kill us scared us. It was probably Chip or Dale (Please tell me you know what I’m talking about?!?!) but I didn’t stick around to make friends. My mom screamed, I screamed, I’m pretty sure my horse even screamed!

That was the beginning of my completely rational fear of rodents.

I had a cat as a teenager and she loved to bring me presents. One time she came in the back door and when I saw what she had in her mouth I screamed, she dropped it, and it ran straight for me. It was still alive! I ran outside and refused to go back in until they found it and disposed of it. When Beauty was a baby I climbed over a bar to get to the phone to call my neighbor to come dispose of another of those “gifts”. When I was pregnant with MiniMe my roommate decided it would be a good idea to breed hamsters. Seriously??? And when MiniMe was born my sister-in-law decided that Beauty needed a pet. Wanna guess what it was? I’ll give you a clue. It wasn’t the puppy she had asked Santa for!

When MiniMe was about 6 months old we moved into a mobile home located near a big field. One evening after MiniMe was in bed and 6 year-old Beauty was in the bath, I was in the living room when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a GINORMOUS mouse run across the floor and go behind the shoe box by the front door. I immediately started hyperventilating and tried to figure out how I was going to get myself out of this. Remember, 6 month-old MiniMe asleep for the night, 6 year-old Beauty in the tub? That’s important. So I very very carefully crawled over furniture to get to my phone to call my friend. The hamster breeder roommate I mentioned? Yeah, that’s who I was calling. She convinced me that all I needed to do was get a big bowl from the kitchen and move the box the nasty creature was hiding behind, throw the bowl on top, trapping him underneath. Want to guess how well that worked? I moved the box, the mouse ran, I screamed, threw the bowl and ran out the front door pulling it shut behind me. Now I’m standing on my front porch, in shorts and a tank top, no shoes, pouring down rain, holding the phone and listening to my so-called friends hysterical laughter. Some friend, right? So while I’m standing outside getting drenched, I hear Beauty yelling for me. I refused to go back in the house. In fact, I believe my exact words were “I am NOT going back in there, EVER!” Of course, my friend reminded me that my children were in there and I had to go back inside. My response? “Sorry, they’re on their own!” Yep, I was totally willing to leave my 6 month-old and my 6 year-old to fend for themselves as long as it ment I wouldn’t have to go back inside with the mouse that tried to kill me. After some coaxing, I finally agreed to go back inside and gather up the kids and clothes and head to the friend’s house. It was midnite by the time I got there. It’s not like we were neighbors. She lived a good 40 minutes away. I didn’t care. I wasn’t staying there! So the next day I got some traps and set them and promptly left the premises again. Well, we got that sucker but then I had to figure out how to get rid of the evidence. I mean sure, it was dead now but that doesn’t mean that my completely rational fear was any less! I wasn’t able to do it. I tried but as soon as it wiggled I screamed (do you see a pattern here?) and ran back outside. Lucky for me, Beauty came to the rescue. Yep, my 6 year-old daughter had to dispose of the mouse because her mother couldn’t do it. That was only the first of many times that Beauty saved the day. I had a mouse commit suicide in my bathtub. She had to get rid of that one too. Then there was the time about 5 years ago that she chased me to the neighbors driveway holding a dead mouse with my salad tongs! Yeah, those ended up in the trash.

I don’t care what anyone says. My fear of mice is completely rational and holding them and playing with them to “get over it” is NEVER going to happen!

Purging!

Last month I turned 40. Ok, I admit it. I don’t like it, but I admit it. Last year was a rough one all the way around and I’m not sorry to be done with it. Things seem to be looking up so far this year. Hey, it’s January 8th and other than being really sick for the last 3 days, nothing really bad has happened. That’s a good start, right?

MiniMe and I are settling into our new home. Getting the routine down. I’m still going through boxes and getting rid of more stuff. This is the smallest space I’ve ever lived in and between the girls and I, we’ve collected a lot of crap in the last 20 years!

I feel like I’ve been purging for the last 3 years, and I still have more stuff to go thru! All of the “Congratulations Graduate” cards from when I graduated high school 20 years ago? Fun to look at and remember how young and naive I was back then but do I need to keep them and store them in my very little storage area? Probably not. The doll my parents picked out for me for my 13th birthday but didn’t give me because my dad died 2 months before? Yeah, hanging on to that one. She has a special place on my shelf. The reports I used to get from the daycare MiniMe went to when she was a baby? Ok, those are already gone, but you get the idea. Right?

MiniMe has a great big closet in her room that is full of boxes of stuff she doesn’t even remember she has. We will be purging her room as well. She has a whole stack of postcards that her grandparents send her when they are traveling. Those will be turned into a cool mural on her bedroom wall. The Easy Bake Oven she has never even used? It’s on its way out the door.

Christmas gifts at our house were very minimal this year. Partly because 95% of my money went to getting into our new place and partly because, none of us have room for anything right now. I’m going to make a deal with the girls that if they make room for new stuff (by getting rid of the stuff they don’t wear/use anymore) I will get them some cool new things. We’ll see how that works out.

Until then, I’ll be reminiscing and shredding and Craigslisting and giving stuff away to people who don’t have enough crap of their own.