Monday, April 30, 2012

Moving sucks

Moving sucks.  Moving has to be in the top five things I hate to do,  right up there with laundry and pulling my toenails off with long-nosed pliers.  I moved the remaining things from my old home this past weekend.  While my kids were gallivanting on the Mickey Mouse cruise ship with their dad, I was sobbing over newspaper and bubble wrap. 

When Rob and I built our house, we bought lots of new furniture.  I was in a heavy furniture phase – if you could lift the kitchen chair with one hand, it was too light.  The set I picked was made from Osmium and lucky for me it was staying.  My dining room table and hutch, however were coming with me.  This lovely set is made from the world’s finest hardwoods, laced with lead and lined with solid marble.  No really, I don’t know what it is made from but it is heavier than Manuel Uribe


I decided to hire movers.

I had a small number of boxes, some framed art and my dining room set to move. I packed up my wedding china and crystal on Thursday night and made frequent trips to the bathroom from my nervous stomach.

(Yes, I know I talk about my bowel habits WAY TOO MUCH on my blog, but I’m going through a shitty time in my life. And everyone knows when someone uses the word “but,” everything said before it doesn’t count.)

I was a mess on Thursday night.  Wrapping our my things and placing them in boxes was far more emotional that I thought it would be.  I often broke from my task and wandered through the house. 

I stood in the foyer looking at the place that was as familiar to me as my own reflection. The air was silent and still. My dog wasn’t there to greet me. The kids were away.  I was rooted to the spot, standing on the tile that Rob and I had chosen nine years earlier.

I turned my head and gazed upon the play room floor that was littered with toys. I never liked that room. It was always a mess, filled with more toys than the boys could ever play with and more toys than I could ever keep organized. I breathed in a sigh of relief, thankful that some things were still the same even though my world was forever altered. I forced myself into the family room. Each step was labored as though I was walking under water.

What was this force that weighed so heavily on me? What was different?  Why was it so hard to breathe?  The furniture was still the same. My herb garden was dead. The kitchen was the way I left it.  Well, dishes weren’t left in the sink, but the heavy-ass table was still there and the silk plants had a layer of dust on them.   The house was so quiet; it seemed I stood in a vacuum, sucking the familiar sounds of my home down into a bottomless hole.

I finally finished packing and locked the front door behind me. What a painful experience. I had just warped into the Twilight Zone – a illusion of sameness where nothing was the same at all.

I drove the streets of my old neighborhood on auto pilot. It wasn’t until I reached my new place and walked through the door that I realized what was so different. I sank down on the edge of my bed and drank in the gentle fragrance of sandalwood and spice with floral undertones. My smell. My old house was over me, it had moved on. It no longer smelled like me. It was an invisible yet powerful reminder that I didn’t belong and it hurt like hell.

I was up until 3:30am, flopping around on my mattress like a fish out of water.  I couldn’t get comfortable.  After a few hours of fitful sleep, I woke and looked forward to 10am when the movers would arrive.  I was ready to rip the band-aid off.

At 10:30, my cell phone rang.  The movers would be a little late, maybe by an hour or so.  Ok, no biggie.

By 12:30pm, I called to find out where my band-aid-ripper-offers were, and the office girl told me they wouldn’t be able to make it today.  They were busy with another move – a job that went from two hours to eight.  So sorry.  Oh, and they were booked on Saturday and Office Girl didn’t know how to refund my deposit.

I started talking to Office Girl in ALL CAPS, because she was telling me that I wasn’t going to find a better deal out there and I tried to explain to her that paying ANYTHING AT ALL and NOT GETTING SERVICE did not constitute a good deal.  I hung up with an exclamation mark and disputed the charge with my credit card company.

I spent the next hour calling moving company after moving company, cursing the fact that it was the end of the month and every mover in the entire metro area was booked. 

Why couldn’t I have been happy with wicker!?

I started flexing my bicep (why don’t I see a difference when I flex?) thinking that I could totally handle the hutch on my back, when I found a moving company that was able to move my things on Saturday.  Eureka!

I set my appointment with the nice office girl, who kept saying, “Wonderful.  Wonderful,” in between each exchange.

What is the zip code we’re moving from?  Wonderful.  Wonderful.

How many rooms are we moving?  Wonderful. Wonderful.

She told me the hourly rate, gave me her spiel about how professional her movers are and told me to expect them at noon. 

“Wonderful, Wonderful,” I told her, and hung up.

The movers were fifteen minutes early on Saturday, and while one sized up my furniture, the other went over the paperwork.

“I need you to sign some paperwork, Ma'am.  This first sheet just says that if you have any problems with the move, you need to call the office before we start.”

I’m blonde and a little overwhelmed as of late, but this didn’t make any damn sense.  How would I know if I had problems with the move before they, um, moved?  I was confused.  Writers call this foreshadowing.

Next the boy reviewed with me the hourly rate and informed me there is a three-hour minimum.  

I had not been informed of this minor detail and I started speaking in ALL CAPS AGAIN. 

The next sheet was about the one-hour travel time I was being charged.  “I’m only moving these things 3.8 miles down the road,” I sputtered.

“No, Ma’am, it is our travel time to and from the job but it’s included in the price.”

Shaking and angry, I signed the paperwork.  I just wanted to get this over with already, OHMYGOD!

When we arrived at my house, the boy approached me and told me that I needed to pay for the services rendered before they were finished being rendered.  They were holding my furniture hostage until I paid the ransom.  They were also charging me a 5% surcharge for using a credit card so I decided to pay in cash.  Why wasn’t I told about the surcharge?  Or the invoice that was really a ransom note? 

I was charged for 3.25 hours of work.  I thanked the movers, handed them another round of cold drinks and closed the door. 

I plopped down on the couch and looked at the clock.  They finished fifteen minutes earlier than quoted.  I started doing the math in my head, which took me a while because I’m an English major, and realized that they charged me for an extra hour. 

I called the office manager and he pulled up my account on his computer.  I told him that I believe I was overcharged and would like to have one hour of time refunded.  He began reading to me the account notes, something about a couch and a TV and I told him he was mistaken because all I had moved was my behemoth dining room table and hutch.  I was never told about a three-hour minimum or travel-time charge or surcharge to use my credit card.


Then he hung up on me.

I made various complaints on Google Maps, Yelp and the BBB and realized that they didn’t rip my band-aid off, they ripped me off.

I sat at my dining room table, put my head down on my folded arms and cried hot, angry tears onto the wood.

Yeah.  Moving sucks.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Writing awards and wardrobe malfunctions

Won day I went fishing on the dok.  I felt a hrd tug.  It was a shrck!  I wus sprist!  I had a big tack.  I poot him in it.  He swam arown and aet and playd.  He wus hapey.

By Sam

Raw emotions.  Suspense.  Edge of your seat drama.  And spelling to rival that of most adults when denied spell-check.  This is the award winning story from my kindergarten son, Sam. 


I attended the ceremony for the Young Author Awards given to the top writers from each grade.  Sam’s story was selected among 144 other entries.  He and three other children from his grade received this top honor.  Sam read his story aloud at the ceremony.  I hung on his every word.  Despite his staccato reading style and monotone voice, I was pushed to the brink with anticipation.  What was on the end of the line? 

I burst into applause and Maxwell yelled “Bravo!” when Sam finished.  I am beyond thrilled.  My son, an author.  His story is currently on display in the cafeteria for the reading pleasure of the masses.  I am so very proud. 

And I’m not at all threatened or envious that  my six-year-old has honed his craft and mastered his genre at such a young age.  I don’t feel even a tiny bit of intimidation or insecurity that my child is going to be published in a hard-cover book at the tender age of six.  No, not me.  Yep. I’m good. 

Sam and Max posed with Sam’s story.  As you can see, Max took this all very seriously.


I can’t blame Max.  He was just having some pre-performance jitters, for his Spring Program took place after Sam’s award banquet.  That coupled with the horrendous comb-over Daddy gave him that morning would put anyone in a dither.

Max didn’t falter.  He sang loud.  He sang proud.  Even to the chagrin of his classmate.


He has a melodious voice!


Nothing slowed him down.  Not even a slight wardrobe malfunction.


He even paused to throw some love to his old lady.


I am deeply proud of my two sons.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Take a chance on me*

When my life took a sharp left turn I thought all I would net was some nasty whiplash. For months I sat alone, licking my wounds before I decided to take a chance and tell my story.  I am astounded at the outpouring of love and support I’ve received the past few weeks. My inbox has been inundated with messages from people I haven’t heard from in almost twenty years, from complete strangers and from close friends. People took a chance on me and shared their own intimate stories of love and loss.

I underestimated the ripple effect my words would have. As I read through the stories and words of encouragement, I was laden with the thought of how my divorce has affected the people in my life. I have been so busy dealing with my own fear, shame and sadness that I never stopped to consider how my friends and family were taking the news. Rob-and-Shannon are no longer one entity. We’re no longer a package deal. How did that make my friends and family feel?  How were they dealing with the new situation?

I called my girlfriend for one of our soul-charging talks. She lives in my old neighborhood and we reminisced about our impromptu play dates in the cul-de-sac.  She said, “I drive by your street and look at your house and I feel sad that you don’t live there anymore. I’m going through my own mourning.”

Really?  I hadn’t considered that. 

I spent last week thinking about it.  I’m not sure I came up with answers to my questions, but the simple acknowledgement that others are adjusting, too seemed significant.  The personal stories I read helped me to see that we’re all connected on an intrinsic level.   

I’m healing. I’m letting go of the sadness and you, People of the Internet, are helping. I’ve written the complete outline for my first contemporary fiction novel (well, my first novel period) and I’m a few chapters deep.

Who knew making myself vulnerable and sharing honestly would make me feel so scared and so powerful?   Through my blog I’ve reached so many people and so many people have reached back!  It’s heart-warming.  It’s inspiring.  Quite frankly, it’s un-fucking-believable and it makes me want to write more. 

* My sincerest apologies if this title made you sing ABBA.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Where the Streets Have No Name

It has been one week since my divorce and I still feel like I’ve been sucker-punched in the gut. I spent most of my weekend in a dark, emotional corner vacillating between tears, anger and the overwhelming urge to punch something.

I didn’t sleep last night. I dropped the boys off at school today and planned to nap, but the neighbor’s lawn service was edging the three-feet of grass outside my window for an hour. I grabbed my keys and left the house.

I drove to Target. I bought stuffing for Easter baskets. Bags of candy piled in my cart, sickening and sweet. I found some Beyblades and tossed them on top of a bag of jelly beans.

“I’ll make the boys some shirts with SkyLanders, too. That will make them happy.”

The voice in my head was monotone. I was just going through the motions.

Target, the shopping center, the town – everything was suffocating me. Everywhere I looked I saw places I had been with Rob. A decade in this small town was now a cemetery of lost dreams. I had to get out of here.


I got in my car and drove away.

I hit a stretch of open highway and gunned my car. I opened the sunroof and felt the sun burn on my thighs. I rolled down the windows. All of them. Tendrils of my hair came loose from my ponytail and whipped my face. I listened to the wind lash about in the car and I pressed the gas pedal. U2 came on the radio and I turned the volume up to the brink of distortion. “Where the Streets Have No Name” blared in my ears and every word spoke to me.

I sang at the top of my lungs. Hair beat my face, filling my vision and my mouth as I called out with Bono, “Our love turns to rust.” I drove, without direction but with purpose, a furious blonde mess seeing the blue sky and the green trees and feeling the burn of the sun for the first time in a long time. I escaped the town. The town I’ve only ever known with Rob. I wanted to go where the streets have no name. The scenery flew past. I drove with one hand on top of the steering wheel and my eyes fixed on the road ahead of me. My hair assaulted me the way my mind had assaulted my heart all weekend. The sting felt good. We’re beaten and blown by the wind/Blown by the wind.

I sucked the air in my nostrils, my senses alive, feeling everything. The burn, the sting, the air forced into my lungs, the hum of my tires on the road. I drove on, lost in the music, the moment. And for the first time in a long time I felt alive.

U2 "Where the Streets Have No Name"