Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Rats are back!

There is a real estate rule of thumb that you don’t want to put a lot of money into a house that will make it vastly different (more valuable) than the surrounding houses. Of course, my parents don’t make decisions based on rational thinking, so they sold the home they had in the Bay Area for 30+ years and bought this monstrosity here a few years back. Their Retirement Home. Complete with stairs that rival the Winchester Mystery House, an architectural design that makes it impossible to heat and cool efficiently, and to make it really, really special, it is on a narrow little road right off the frontage road of Interstate 80. The noise is constant, day and night. Just down the street is a major freeway exit, with its requisite multiple gas stations (I count 6), fast food entities, and other miscellaneous businesses that tend to cluster around freeway exits. Nothing remotely resembling a neighborhood. The road we are on is narrow, as I said, without sidewalks or a shoulder of any kind, and features a ditch on both sides that some of the homes have installed a pipe and covered. Most of the other houses are “modest” as they say. The neighbors think of my parents’ house as the Big House. When my parents first moved in, they held an Open House each Christmas for a couple years, acting like the newly landed lords of the manor, but instead of bonding with their neighbors it simply provided a way for the neighbors to satisfy their curiosity by poking around. When I moved in with my baby I squelched the idea. It was gross. No one misses it.

All of this would be bad enough, but just after my parents moved in, the little house next door went through an unofficial change of ownership. The hillbilly (their word, not mine) who had lived there ended up letting someone they were somehow related to move in and that cracker proceeded to “remodel.” What was once a little, slightly run down house on a weed filled lot now looks like what is left after a cyclone hits. The house and adjacent outbuilding are partially covered with plastic tarps. There is some chicken wire surrounding the porch. Huge piles of what looks like a combination of construction debris, garbage, tree branches, discarded parts and old broken appliances, odds and ends of lumber and cardboard boxes, and lots of unrecognizable junk fills the lot. The weeds have grown and there are bare patches of dirt and gravel, too, and – yes, litter (fast food wrappers, crap like that) strewn everywhere. M calls it the Trash House. Twice in the past, rats from next door have found their way into this house. Big rats. Aggressive Big Rats.

They are back.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Pay Cut

The company I work for just announced a 5% pay cut. I am not pleased, of course, but I’m not surprised. This is a big company and we were just bought by an even bigger one, and there would have been changes even without the sucky economy. I had hoped to keep what I had intact until I’m ready to leave. Realistically, though, it means a loss of less than $1000 to my bottom line, since I plan to quit at the end of June.

This isn’t where I want to work. I’ve known that. I hope I will be able to find something that works out when I move, but I don’t want to be desperate. I want to be able to get M settled and have a sense of home and get used to Colorado again and establish a routine and make friends. We’ve been “enduring” for so long, and that’s no way to be happy and thrive.

I’ve been so fortunate that I’ve made friends here, at work, M’s daycare, and out and about, that have really saved my sanity. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without them. I wish I could take them with me.

I am so glad it is almost over, though. Especially this winter, what with the dismal weather, Mom getting sick, and the tough school work and stressful work situation, I am exhausted. I don’t think I could have gone on much longer.

The move intimidates me because I’ll have M with me and this time I’ll be without another adult. But we’ll figure it out.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mean Old Man

It was a particularly difficult weekend.

Why do I forget sometimes that my father is such a mean man? I really, really think that this illness of my mother's is kharma. For both of them.

It just sucks that - as ever - my daughter and I are being sucked into the cosmic black hole that is their life.

My father turns out all the lights. While we are in the room. No, this is not because he is senile. He’s always been this kind of bastard. My four year old daughter, who is a remarkable, smart, and wonderful child, goes around with a flashlight. My parents allocated one whole shelf in their refrigerator to me and my daughter – and I keep anything that won’t fit out in my refrigerator in the garage. I share the freezer part of mine with them. My father – now that he has been forced to (gasp!) feed himself – has put all kinds of big stuff out in my refrigerator in the garage. I mentioned it to him this morning and he denied it.

The laundry is in the pool room (yes, they have a pool table they never use. It is now covered with a ping pong table top that they never use. I fold laundry on it.) The pool room is not heated, and has been about 40 degrees. I turned a space heater on down there this weekend so I would be able to fold laundry in relative comfort. My father came down and turned it off. Yes, he knew why it was on.

My mother’s tea kettle died and I bought her a new one. She hasn’t been out of bed in 4 weeks and so I told my father about it, and he said he uses the microwave because it is “easier.” But he had taken the old one to his workshop to try to fix it, apparently, with no success. So he just decided they don’t need one?


I wouldn't treat - I haven't treated - people I thoroughly dislike the way that my parents treat me. And they think what they show their children is love. It is confusing to be around. It really is. I wish it wasn't. I don't know if that is a sign that I've still got normal healthy impulses or a sign that I am irrevocably damaged.

Either way, nineteen weeks, and then I can go on a long vacation and then move.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mom is sick

It’s been a hellish 3 weeks. I didn’t mean to let so much time go by. I keep thinking all I’m doing is bitching and moaning, when what I intended to do was document my current situation and the move and the transition. This whole time living here is such a “time out of time” kind of time, in a way.

But then my mother got a really bad respiratory thing, that kept her in bed for 5 days, and that was unusual in itself, but then she was hospitalized! I don’t think she’s ever been hospitalized for an illness (for some other things, but not being sick). She was there from Monday until Thursday last week, and when she came home it was right back to bed.

My dad is having a hard time feeding himself. That’s not as tragic as it sounds; he’s having a hard time because he’s never had to do it. My mother scurries around him cleaning and cooking and shopping and doing, and Dad spends a lot of time watching bad TV. Now that she’s bedridden, and I am not available, he’s had to fend for himself, poor baby. First it consisted of eating all the leftovers in the refrigerator, then a lot of sandwiches, and finally he went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of Marie Callendar frozen dinners. I’ve watched him carefully reading the back of the box for directions on how to microwave them.

If he hadn’t always been such a bully, such a short-tempered, impatient, self-absorbed know-it-all, I’d feel kind of sorry for him. He has stated petulantly more than once “I can’t go anywhere,” and self-righteously “I’ve got one person to take care of, I can’t deal with anything else!” (This last one after I found my daughter in the cold, dark pool room watching Harry Potter without so much as a throw around her, let alone the space heater on that my nephew used down there.) He has complained about having to do a load of laundry and of being “up all night” because of my mother.

He says these things to me – the one person in the house who has a full time job, and hour-plus each way commute, a full course load of homework, and a four year old. And there is no sense of irony, whatsoever.