Saturday, October 07, 2017

That's It

This post-Irma life is still a bit stressful and unsettled. I'm still trying to get in touch with my insurance company. I'm still waiting on FEMA. I'm still living in a slightly damaged home with broken windows and doors. But there's electricity and running water for now. My new routine includes spending an hour or so at a laundromat after getting in my long run for the week. It's frustrating, but it's livable.

It has to be.

My credit union offered a low interest loan for hurricane victims. The maximum $2500 would have been just enough to take care of a few things I really need to take care of. The monthly payment was doable. It was a long shot, but I kept hearing that people with bigger financial problems than I have were able to qualify.

I didn't.

I asked them to review my application again and offered to let them do an automatic payment withdrawal from my paycheck. They looked again.

I didn't qualify.


I said, "F@#! that. I'm never applying for credit again."

As I prepared for Irma, I was struck by the fact that the only person I can really rely on to take care of me is ME. I'm it. I dutifully did the best I could, spinning the plates and juggling the firecrackers. I'm still doing that, and I know it will be another month before I feel like I have a little bit of control over them. That's when my second income from my writing job will kick back in.

One month.

Then, it's beast mode time. My debt snowball app tells me it will take 72 months to get rid of all the $150,000 I owe. I say it will be less than that. I've decided to take on an additional duty at work. The writing work is ramping up, as long as I can squeeze in the time to do it.

This is it.

I'm going to get back into regular blogging as this is my new path in life. I'm ready to get back my life. So excuse me, now. I need to write.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

After the Winds Died Down

The power finally came back on late Thursday. The DSL line came back today. The borrowed generators are ready to go back to their owners. I finally washed off the streaks of dirt and filth that accumulated on my skin over the last week. I shaved my legs. I scrubbed my scalp and conditioned my hair. There's still some debris to clean up in the yard, but I think it's safe to close the door on Hurricane Irma.

Irma wasn't my first major hurricane. I was without power for two weeks after Charley cut a path through Osceola County. Those days are a blur to me now, hazy visions of picking up free ice, sleeping on the tile floor in the bathroom and using the solar lamps from my garden for heat-free light inside my house. I held on to those fuzzy memories in the wake of Irma. In the aftermath of a hurricane, there's a bit of comfort in knowing that even the most desperate feeling moments eventually fade.

But here's the thing, some of what felt so desperate to many people were actually comforting to me. I kind of enjoyed living the last week and a half without electricity. The days were simple. I woke in the morning as the sun spilled just enough light into the living room to brighten it. I cleaned and checked the updates from the power company. I spent a lot of time outside on my front porch (under an umbrella since Irma decided to give my porch a makeover), alternating between lazy naps and important phone calls. I fell asleep gazing at stars in a nearly black night sky.

I heard an interview with a biologist who explained that one purpose of a hurricane is to upset the landscape and bring balance back to the places where fresh and salt water meet. That's exactly what Irma did for me. She shut off my television and Internet and forced me to slow down and live moment by moment through the southwest Florida September heat.

Irma gave me sweat beading on my skin--and I swear it looks better than ever. She gave me a chance to sleep in the afternoon as the temperature peaked. She silenced my home and forced me to take a break from the work that has been weighing me down lately. She let me clean and clean out my home. She filled my heart through the generosity of friends and strangers who shared with me their food, supplies, showers and skills.

Life will go back to normal when I wake in the morning and try to settle back into a routine, but I hope to hold on to some of these unexpected gifts. In fact, you'll have to excuse me. The stars are out now, and the moon is a perfect sliver in the sky.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I Laughed

The last thing I expected to do today was clean out a closet filled with stuff that doesn't belong to me, but that's what I did today. It was also what I needed more than anything else. Not only was it cathartic to see those shelves break free of the clutter that bound them, but the chance to goof around with one of my dearest friends--and the inevitable laughter that springs forth when we're together--was just what my soul needed.

I needed the steady stream of inside jokes (Camembert) and knowing looks and friendly jabs and spontaneous songs that are part of us. I also needed the acknowledgement from someone else who got to see the magical blend of electricity and concern that we've built this friendship on. I deal with enough crazy on a daily basis that the validation of my own perspective just felt good.

Even though you will never read this, thank you my dear. Thank you for every nod and smile and eye roll. Thank you for loving me...just me...even when my decisions make you want to cry. Thank you for being you and being willing to share that you with me. You make the journey so much more fun.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


I'm on repeat right now. It's after 10. I'm half paying attention to the television while the rest of my brain is berating me for not doing the writing work I need to do and hoping I don't burn the dinner that no one will eat. I just checked the rice. It looks okay.

I'm miserable. Sad. Melancholy. I'm a walking checklist for depression. Without any obvious trigger, I start to cry, sometimes small trickles of tears and sometimes gasping sobs. I spend most of my waking moments wishing I could just go to sleep and much of the night watching reruns that don't make me laugh. I'd love to laugh.

I'm late for work every day. My house is a wreck. Most of my conversations--even with my best friends--consist of me nodding and filing away in my head some really mean things I want to say. It's been a long time since I've felt this way. A really long time. I'm almost to the point that I want to ask the doctor for meds, but making an appointment is a daunting task.

The only anchor I'm clinging to is that the Earth is still moving around the sun. Tomorrow will arrive. Next year will show up. At some point along the way there has to be a moment of clarity or an answer. I take that back. THIS is my moment of clarity. Now I'm just waiting for an answer and praying like hell that I'll survive long enough to figure it out.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The best laid plans...

Way back in July or August I signed up for the Gasparilla 15k race thinking it would give me something to train for and get my feet back on the running trails. I put together some very reasonable training plans and even went out for a few long runs early on Sunday mornings.

Then December and January bitch slapped me with fury, and running was the last thing on my mind.

I planned to go ahead and do the race anyway. After all, I did my first half-marathon even though I had never gone longer than 6 miles. It's still my best time. I'm definitely not in the same shape now that I was then, but I'm determined and willing to give it what I had.

My annual check-up changed all that. I had a ridiculous swelling in my ankles and feet that was the result of my thyroid gone wild again. Basically, I had proteins building up in the soft tissues of my body. I asked the doctor about the race, and he told me I would most likely have a heart attack on the course because what was happening in my ankles was also going on in my heart and my brain.

There have been three major times in my life when I've suffered some of these same symptoms. I didn't know at the time it could be thyroid-related. Neither did my doctors, because they always gave me advice for losing weight and exercising more. I see now that I was probably showing thyroid problems even then.

These periods: the end of my teen years when my mother's mental illness was at its worst for me; when my first marriage was falling apart. Then there's now. I didn't realize until I heard the word heart attack just how much life was affecting me.

The good news is that I bounced back in the past, and I think I can do it again. I'm in experimentation mode, trying to find the right formula for myself. I know it involves some alone time, exercise, and a bit of rearranging in my life. I have no idea what that's going to look like, but I'll play both scientist and patient for the next few weeks or months or whatever.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

First Rain

After any sort of loss, there's a series of firsts that mark the path through grief. I've already been through a few of them this week, but today's is a little bittersweet. It's raining outside. It's the first rain that I haven't had Winnipeg here freaking over the sound of drops striking the roof. She would pace the house looking for some place she felt safe. The process was often infuriating because nothing seemed to calm her, and I would watch her wander into the bathroom and close the door behind her or try to cram her body under an end table.

This past summer, I finally bought her a Thundershirt, and it made a world of difference. She wore that thing pretty much every day during the summer, and although it didn't stop the panic, it calmed her enough that she could at least stay in the room. Today it's been raining most of the morning, and there's Winnipeg wandering around the house. The only dogs here are quietly sleeping, and I'm not sure what to do with myself.

Her spirit isn't around here anymore, and I saw flies circling her grave yesterday. S had a dream the other night that she woke him up to take her outside, and he was relieved to see her running and jumping around the in the front yard. I haven't sensed her around here since then, so I can only imagine that the molecules that comprised her conscious have either floated somewhere else or reorganized into a different entity. I'm not sure I'm okay with that yet, but what can I do?

Each day, this process gets a little easier for me. I spent some time at the beach yesterday. I left there with the reminder that anything can happen at any time in life despite our best...or worst...efforts to preclude them. There's still a palpable emptiness in my life, and honestly, I'm not at the point yet to fill that emptiness with anything else. I guess that's okay for now. The bigger picture will appear when I'm ready for it.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Chasing Bunnies

Today was the first morning I prepared for and left for work without Winnipeg here. Another first. It was also the first day I came home from work knowing that she wouldn't be here to greet me. But that wasn't entirely the case. I pulled up in the driveway and sat in the car for a minute and she was there on the other side of the gate.

That damn dog.

I went inside for a minute and then left again to fill the water tank, and there she was. So I talked to her for a minute and realized that she's been having a lot of fun doing all the exploring that I never let her do. I guess life is different when you don't have to pay attention to fences. The beautiful part is that I know she's no longer hindered by the lameness that was affecting her the last few weeks. It was rough watching her stumble on the floor and drag her leg behind know that she could no longer go for the rides she loved because she couldn't jump up in the SUV anymore.

But no more.

I had to leave again to go to the store because the refrigerator went out and we only have a little mini fridge here for food. Honestly, food is the last thing on my mind right now, but someone else here still has an appetite, so I had to get something. When I came back from the store, the dog was still in the front yard. She ran over, and I said, "It's okay, girl." When I looked up at the spot where I sensed her, I saw a rabbit run off.

This is nothing new. I live in the country, and there are plenty of rabbits around, but it's been a while since I've seen one on the property. My dear one had posted his own grief on Facebook about how she was a part of him and he would never forget her until they can be together again. Then he said, "keep chasing bunnies." Now, Winnipeg never in her life chased a rabbit. That just wasn't her thing. But when I saw that rabbit, I just felt like it was her way of saying that she's okay and she wanted him to know that she's okay.

I told him as soon as I went inside, and his response was, "really?" and for the first time I saw some relief on his face. I initially thought that was Winnipeg's way of reaching out to him, but I think it was also for me. Since that moment, I felt a release, too. She's okay. I'm okay. We're okay. And it's okay if you think I'm nuts for talking about and to my dead dog. I really don't care. I know what I know. Her body may be gone, but her spirit is still as vibrant as ever.

That's my girl.