Sunday, February 27, 2011

Living on a Different Planet

I've always heard the saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."  If you think about it, isn't that a slightly messed up philosophy?  Didn't the Romans do a lot of bad things, like persecute Jews and Christians, conquer and subjugate other races, and feed some of them to wild animals while they watched for sport?  I would rather not, thank you.  So, I prefer to tell myself:  Watch, Listen, then Blend in.  I like doing the first two, I'm a little more awkward at the last one, having always been a little more fond of being perceived as individualistic.  Ironically, other than the twang in my voice, which I'm sure is obvious to everyone but me, and the Texas license plate on my car, my style of dress is uniquely suited to my new home:  black and gold.  And now that I've slowed down on the incredibly stupid activities, such as locking myself out of this Fort Knox of a house and spilling latex paint on the carpet, I think I've stopped calling so much attention to myself both as the new guy in town, but as the idiot new guy in town.  Which is fine for now because I can stand back quietly and watch and learn.  Here's what I've learned so far:

First of all, I've always been more of a strong centralized federal government kind of a girl.  We're all the United States of America, after all, I would have reasoned.  Politically, I have not changed my stripes, but I've tempered my opinion on State's Rights just a tad in the last month because you realize exactly how dramatically different regions of this vast country are.  When I first got here, I literally felt almost as though I had landed on foreign soil.  Things operate very differently here.  Not just because of geography, which is a huge component, but culturally.  For starters, Pittsburgh tends to treat its citizens like unruly children who must be constrained in certain respects.  The brand spanking new grocery store where I shop does have a beer section, modest though it may be.  You have to pay for your beer in that section; you cannot leave the area with it, and you must have your license with you, whether you are 21 or 81 or they're not selling it to you.  And, those of us who shop there are lucky.  Most stores in the area don't even have that.  Don't try and look for the wine section, which I immediately did.  There isn't one.  If you want a bottle of wine, you have to go to one of the state stores where they sell wine and spirits.  Some spirits.  I am partial to Bacardi Anejo personally.  I will have to learn to live without it.  I cannot get it here.  Period.  I've asked; they can't even order it for me.  Fine.  I should give it up anyway.  But, if I'm away from my grocery store, and I want a beer for the game that night, I will have to wander away from the state store and find a place that sells beer specifically (or, beer and tobacco products).  The state liquor stores don't.  I've seen two in the general area where I live, one of which I likely will never find again.  They aren't just everywhere.  What is everywhere:  little neighborhood taverns.  I asked my lovely Philly friend, who is a Pittsburgh native, if this has stemmed the tide of alcoholism in the area.  Not surprisingly, she said it hasn't.  My guess:  it's just made drunk driving more prevalent because you have to drive all over the place to get your buzz.  All of this is mildly inconvenient, slightly annoying (because it seems condescending to the general populace), but highly amusing to me, having come from a state where the groceries stores often have such sophisticated wine sections, they take up a fifth of the store, and where there are little locally owned liquor stores in almost every strip center.

Then there is the local government.  I was already a little confused by it before I got here.  Living here has not clarified it really.  It's deeply layered.  I live in Shaler Township.  If I drive less than a mile one way, I'm in a different township.  A mile the other direction, and I'm in still another one.  They all operate slightly differently.  As one of my neighbors told me the other day after the five inches of snow descended on the area, those differences can be problematic.  He was right outside of Shaler in one of those little neighborhood taverns, having a couple of beers with some friends after work.  By the time they parted company to drive the couple of miles home, the roads were nearly impassable.  He told me fire trucks were literally ramming cars to try and get them off the roads to keep them passable for emergency vehicles.  He had to find a way around some of the steeper hills in our area, he simply could not traverse up them with the road conditions being what they were.  Once he finally hit our little township, he was home free however.  Our roads had been plowed and salted.  Shaler it seems does truly keep snow removal very seriously.  I am very lucky to have just completely by accident landed here in that case, scared as I am to drive in any type of adverse weather conditions as it is.   Of course, now I more fully understand the wild fluctuations in tax rates I saw when I was house hunting.  I need a score card to keep track of all the taxable entities I'll contribute into.  And, my not-so-distant neighbors in Etna, just down the road, probably have the same problem, just different payees on the multiple checks they write every year.  Some townships, I'm gathering, are pretty well funded.  Others scrape by.  The city of Pittsburgh proper, I've been told more than once, is nearly bankrupt, although I'm repeating gossip; I have yet to delve into any of the local politics first hand.  Yet, as my neighbor pointed out, while all these multiple entities is highly inconsistent and inefficient, it is unlikely to change, everything and everyone here is pretty deeply entrenched.

Which I had already gathered.  As I walk Cheyenne around, I not only marvel at the amazing architecture of some of the houses just in my little area, but I make observations about the people who live in them.  For one thing, they seem to stay put.  There is the house on the next road over that Greg actually looked at back in the summer that is still for sale, but other than that, I rarely see a for sale sign in my general vicinity.  Many of the residents are older.  Which helps my midlife crisis no end.  I sense some of the them, like the widow next door and the nosy man across the street, moved in when the houses were new, raised their families here and are rooted in until they absolutely, positively cannot live independently any longer.  There are younger families here as well of course, but even they seem pretty content not to disturb the lay of the land.  What I mean by that is, with a few exceptions where it looks as though new homes have been built on these old lots, the homes here are well maintained, but with an eye to keeping the integrity of the original style of architecture.  My little house included.  The owners here installed new windows, probably to put it on the market, but were careful to keep to the original style.  Most of the light fixtures in my house are original to the home.  Those that aren't meld in nicely.  Modern improvements, like central a/c condensers, are tucked away out of street view discreetly.  Pittsburgh has got to be a movie-maker's dream.  The history of the place is incredible.  Depending upon what street I walk on, I can almost believe I'm back in the 1920's, the 1950's with the little post war houses, of which mine is one, or the early 60's.  Even the couple of homes I've seen that appear to have been re-built are in keeping with the general architectural style of the other houses on the block.  And my little post-war boxy red brick house, which is most of what my street seems to be, keeps company with some gorgeous turn-of-the-century estates only a block or two away.  I was told yesterday that's not atypical.  There is often a show street in a neighborhood and more modest homes will occupy the streets just back from it.  No one seems to mind this.  It's the way it is here.  Just take pride in what you've got because it reflects who you are.  There are some homeowner's associations in the state, but when I mentioned what I did to my neighbor, he shook his head as though he had never heard of it.  There are no covenants, conditions and restrictions here - some building guidelines that Shaler enforces - but they aren't really needed.  People police themselves here.  Granted, on my way to the major commercial street where I do most of my shopping, I pass by a hideously painted Dodger Blue house that I'm very glad I don't live next to, but by and large I think the liquor authorities of the state should look at how adult homeowners act in terms of their home maintenance and maybe realize they can handle it if they were allowed to buy adult beverages a little more conveniently.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Monday Night:  I am sitting here alone having just clocked out after a twelve hour plus day trying to sort through a brand new task that is turning out to be very intricate and sort of scary since I'm the only breadwinner of my scattered family and I'm only vaguely confident - no, not even - that I am working in the right direction.  And, I've got two days to wrap up what I'm working on and then four more reports just about like it.  Good thing I have no life outside these walls right now.  Speaking of which, snow is falling thickly outside.  I need to layer up one more time to take Cheyenne out for a final walk and hope I can even see where we're going.  I like the snow, but it's more fun to only have to walk the dog three times a day in it.  When we trudge out there in a few minutes, that'll make five, which I guess is symmetry because five inches of snow has fallen since about noon.  She picked a hell of a day to get restless on me.  For her part, she's loving the weather.  Something in her Husky DNA seems to be telling her this is her element.  Well, she could live in an igloo out there if it would make her happy if only I had a fence.  So, at some point soon I need to push forward on that little task - if some contractor can find the ground somewhere underneath all that snow.  Overwhelmed?  Yeah, I would say so - because that's just the tip of the snowy iceberg.  Yet, I spent much of today pondering on what this week is in the larger worldview.  No, not President's Day.  Well, yes, it is that, but this is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.  I am oh so aware, as I sit here in my snowy little house, of ED.  It occurs to me that, whether this house is haunted or not (that's another story for another time), our family continues to be haunted by The Beast.  The very fact that I've temporarily ripped our family apart is not indirectly related to Kelsey's eating disorder.

ED is a disease that every family member is impacted by.  I suppose that is true of any life altering illness, but I tend to believe the damage runs a bit deeper and longer with ED.  I think of Marissa and all that she endured, in large part because she was growing up in the shadow of Kelsey's struggles.  I've seen that repeat itself in other families - the other siblings, particularly younger ones, really suffer because of the enormity of battling the disease.  Our marriage was strained to the breaking point early on until we finally got it in gear and learned how to conduct ourselves a bit better.  Those bonds risked breaking again in the wake of Kelsey's death and my husband's walking away from his job, enveloped in his grief.  Now, at least briefly, we live apart because I cannot face living in the house where the drama played out.   But all that is minor in comparison to the fact that we lost our first born daughter.  We live with that on a daily basis.  We always will.  We will always feel the hole The Beast made right down the center of our lives.

And that's just us.  What about our lost daughter?  What about what she went through?  I have her journals. They are packed carefully and stored in the attic.  I can't quite bring myself to read them yet - not since preparing for her funeral have I scanned through them.  But, I did then, and what I was struck with was how she suffered.  Not physically - we could see that clearly enough - but mentally.  That's why I can't read them now.  Not because I'll see the teenage rants and rages against us as parents.  There would be that in spades, I'm sure.  Try reading any teenager's journals.  It's the conflict she had within herself about the disease that engulfed her and imagining a person you love living like that.  The world has lost her art, her potential, her voice that she used to try and reach out to other individuals suffering as she did.  There are no winners here.  Other than The Beast, I guess.

So, here we are entering into a week designed to increase awareness about this awful disease.  I looked on the website designed to advertise volunteer opportunities in the greater Pittsburgh area.  I also looked on the NEDA site for events in the area.  Nothing.  I know people in the city grapple with their own ED beast.  Do they have resources?  Do they feel, like we did originally, very, very alone?  I'm not sure.  I confess I'm conflicted about trying to find out.  I've struggled all along with being active volunteering with the disease.  I lived with it for so long, it's sometimes painful to remain involved with it.  But, then at other times, I feel that I HAVE to work to eradicate it, and I feel a burning passion to DO SOMETHING.  I don't know if this normal or not, this conflict.  Is any of what we've gone through over the last year and a half normal?

But, in Austin, at least, AFED will carry on with their mission.  They will close the week out with the You Are Beautiful II Silent Art Auction.  Once again, some of our friends have donated art.  Some of Kelsey's work will be there.  This way she gets to live on and she gets to help others the way I know she tried to.  For my readers who are there, go and support their efforts.  Come home with some beautiful art, and be aware of this disease, because it is real.  I am aware of it every damn day.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good Things About Living Alone:

1. Dancing around the house to Fall Out Boy and no one to tell you to a) turn off Fall Out Boy and b) stop dancing because you are embarrassing them.

2.  Bodily noises and ejections are nothing to worry over unless they are coming from the dog.

3.  The television schedule is all yours - which means right now in my house a whole lot of hockey with the occasional dog show thrown in for good measure.

4.  No makeup?  No problem.

5.  Less undergarments than is ladylike at your age (during non-work hours of course)?  No problem.  The dog doesn't care.

6.  You want a chicken dish seven days in a row, and you want to burn that popcorn to the point where you think the smoke detector may activate?  Yum, sounds good.

7.  Your closet can be a total mess and as long as you can find what you're looking for, no one needs to know.

8.  Every little accomplishment, from successfully finding your way back from the grocery store, to finding an actual viable short cut there and back, is a bit sweeter because you did it all on your own.

The Bad Things About Living Alone:

1.  There is no one to wake you up when you fall asleep on the floor while cuddling with the dog and tell you to go get into bed.

2.  At some point in life, even women who are strong and independent in spirit (which I'm not necessarily saying that I am) must admit that they aren't completely that strong in body.  So, maybe those boxes of books for your daughter's room still sitting in the living room three weeks later are going to have to be unpacked first before they can be moved, and that's a real bummer because you still have to paint that room.  It would admittedly be so nice just to be able to have someone around who could lift them...

3.  There is no one to tell you that you really ought to think twice about dancing around the dining room to Fall Out Boy because people probably can see you from the window.

4.  There is no one to turn to and say, "Did you see that?" or "What was that?"

5.  There is no one to blame for the alarming consumption of Goldfish going on in your household other than yourself and, to a far lesser extent, your dog.

6.  There is no one to tell you that you probably ought to consider a bra, because your neighbors are really nosy.

7.  That decision you need to make - anywhere from the little things like, "Should I buy this tea kettle?" to "Do I spend the $400 to fix the kitchen sink"?  That is all on your shoulders.

8.  When you lock yourself out of the house, there is no one inside to let you in.

The Ugly Thing About Living Alone:

When the enormity of what you've done and why you've done it really hits you, there is no one to hold you and tell you things will someday maybe not be okay, but at least be bearable.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Little Bumps in the Road

I used my oven for the first time last night.  I haven't needed it.   It's just me, and I chose the toaster oven I did because it's got enough size to cook most of what I would need.   But I wanted a pizza.  I can't find anything like the Central Market brand frozen pizzas I liked so much back in Texas, so I bought a standard brand with "rising crust".   A little too big for the toaster oven, so I fired up the big one, stuck the pizza in for the requisite 27 minutes plus some to make it a little darker than intended (because I like my food with that slight hint of charcoal always -mmm, yummy) and went upstairs to peel off my jeans and slip into sweat pants.  Suddenly I hear a noise all the way upstairs - a humming.  I run downstairs to find out the vent hood had turned itself on automatically, which is fine but it's LOUD.  I couldn't turn it off.  It was on auto pilot.  Which is good I guess because there was smoke coming out of the oven that has nothing to do with me trying to slightly burn my pizza.  Why was it smoking?  I have no idea.  I'm hoping it's because the oven has sat largely unused for a really long time, and it's just dust burning off.  So, I wondered, will it turn itself off as well?  And if it doesn't, how do I make it turn off?  I suppose I could shut it off at the breaker.  I certainly know where the breaker box is because the first time I ran a load of laundry the breaker tripped, and I tripped one twice two nights ago when I tried vacuuming while the TV was on.  It did turn itself off in relatively short order, so that was good news, but I wonder what will happen when I have to use the oven for a large meal, like Thanksgiving - that should be fun...  At least it will keep everyone else out of the kitchen.

So, as I waited to see what would happen with the loud fan making it almost impossible to hear one's own thoughts, I was eyeing the time, waiting for the requisite 15 minutes to expire so I could flush down the Drano in the kitchen sink.  The disposal stopped working the third day I was here.  Actually, I'm not sure it ever really worked because I found remnants in there of something I certainly didn't put down there.  Again, remembering that the house had been vacant for a long while - GROSS.  So, it was with no real surprise that the sink began to drain slowly a few days ago.  I gave in and called the plumber.  This was on Monday.  They were backlogged, so they finally had time for me today.  A new disposal and $400.00 later, they explained that the sink kept clogging up because whoever had installed the disposal in the first place more or less rigged it and the refuse actually had to travel "up" the pipe to be deposited out of the house.   It just wasn't originally designed for a disposal.  Oh the joys of owning a 59-year old house.

Cheyenne watches me anxiously as I worry over these little issues, nearly hyper-sensitive to any negative emotion I might show, becoming agitated herself if I am stressed.  Her eating habits are off, I've noticed.  She will eat only when I do, and she never clears her bowl any longer.  I've actually had her turn her nose up at table scraps I've tried to feed her.  She shadows me wherever I go.  She's happy when we go on the thrice (or four) time daily walks, but the rest of the time, I'm not really sure.  I think she misses her brothers and sisters.  Maybe she even misses the cats, it's hard to say.  Did she pick up on the fact that my tears the other night were for her other canine sister, who is no more?  Will she remember her when she's reunited with the others finally?  I wonder sometimes what she thinks of being whisked away to this strange, cold place.

I miss the other dogs too.  I miss my daughter.  I miss my husband.  I miss my friends.  The great thing about working from home is that I can avoid trying to find my way around these twisting roads, but it also means I'm not out there meeting people.  I spend my days alone with only Cheyenne.  I spend my nights the same way.  Kelsey's dear friend from Pittsburgh has been a God Send, she sent me a link to a volunteer site tonight.  I found several opportunities immediately.  That's my best recourse, I think.  With football done for a while, I'll spend this weekend trying to finish painting the dining room (hopefully with no paint spills this time around) and unpacking, then I can get out there on the weekends and meet people while doing something positive for my new city.  I'm excited about the idea of it - there are a lot of opportunities.  The problem will be to narrow down the choices.

Speaking of unpacking, it has slowed to a crawl because I've got more stuff crammed in boxes than I have room to put it.  When I think about all the piles and piles of clothes, books, shoes, knick knacks, kitchenware, etc. that I got rid of, and then look around out the excess of everything I still have, I realize I am more my mother's daughter than I would have ever cared to admit, adopted or not.  Granted, I live on the street with all the little post-war houses in an area generally populated with stately homes, and this is a house one would term "quaint" if you're being polite.  But, it should comfortably fit my little family - and probably would fit most families of three.  But, not me and all my crap.  My goal this weekend is to make it work.  Somehow.  I want all these boxes out of the way - the scattering of miscellaneous boxes throughout the house just makes it all the more depressing.

All of this would make one think I'm moping around.  I'm not as downtrodden as I sound.  It's a rougher beginning than I had envisioned, I won't lie.  It's lonelier than I had supposed it would be, that's true.  I feel so far away from my daughter when she has a bad day that it just makes my heart ache.  But, I'm constantly and poignantly aware of the chain of events that brought us to this point.  Kelsey is on my mind a lot lately.  For one thing, it's Eating Disorder Awareness Month.  For another, I've had to touch so many of her things lately, not once, but twice, first to pack them, now to unpack them.  All those photos of our lives together, her schoolwork, her artwork (still firmly in my possession despite some rumors to the opposite) and finally the urn that contains her ashes, carried all the way with Cheyenne and me to find its way to our new living room.  I still think of how her dad has struggled to find his footing in the world that doesn't include her.  I still think about what I felt when I walked upstairs in that house where we experienced so much turmoil, or what it was like to drive down MoPac and pass by things that reminded us of events, both happy and sad, that took place over the past tumultuous decade.  Someone cautioned me that I can't run away from the memories.  This is true.  And I really don't want to.  I don't want to forget my child.  Ever.  But, I can create new memories, for myself and for all of us, outside of the shadow of the past.  If this is the price I pay for that chance, then so be it.   (In the meantime, Cheyenne is very upset at my reaction to the Penguins game, so I think I'll switch gears and do something else for a while - Sid, I miss you!)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Black and Gold Clouds Hang Over the 'Burgh

The city fell quiet at some point yesterday.  Earlier in the day, I heard the sounds of boys playing street hockey, but then, suddenly, you could hear a pin drop; nothing and no one moved on the streets around my tiny home.  Everyone was getting into Game Mode.  Then, some people began to arrive at certain houses and sports bars and others, like myself, made to leave to get to their appointed watching spot, and the city came back to life, with almost everyone in view in Steeler black and gold.  Certain businesses closed early for the game, others were gearing up for a Christmas-like business boom.   The Pens had been blanked by the hated Capitols earlier in the day, and I wondered how the dual sports fans, like my neighbor, took that:  with foreboding for the larger game to come or a sign that the Bad Karma for the city was expended and would be erased altogether later in the day.  For my part, I couldn't shake the feeling that the Penguins were the tip of an iceberg.

And, with that gloomy thought and a nervous pre-game jitter eating away at me like an ulcer, I left Cheyenne behind and headed toward Washington, PA, ideally an hour away, to watch the game with my cousin at her daughter's home.  Almost without surprise, I got horribly lost, missing or mis-reading an exit somewhere in the city.  Nearly an hour and 40 minutes and at LEAST six phone calls to my patient cousin later, I made it to my destination.  From there, we traveled the short distance to her daughter's home, where a group of ardent fans awaited kick-off.  I made us so close to the wire that I missed whatever flub happened during the National Anthem.  I saw something about it on my iGoogle page today.  I didn't care to look deeper.  I dismissed it with a shrug and thought that even celebrities have bad days every so often.

Of course, whether you watch football or not, if you're not living under some rock somewhere, you probably know the outcome of the game.  The drive back was a somber experience indeed.  And, just to add to the fun, a wreck on the winding hill to my neighborhood had the road completely blocked off.  As soon as I turned off, I was incredibly, horribly lost once more on the twisting, curving, dark roads that make up this town.  It was past midnight before I finally found my house again, almost by pure luck.  My poor dog was so badly traumatized, she literally howled at me as I made it in the door, her coyote roots taking over.  Today she has refused to budge more than a foot from me, literally making sure part of her touches part of me at some point almost always.  Finally, in the late afternoon, she consented to sleep on one end of the sofa as I worked from the other, but it was temporary respite, she is back to sleeping on the hardwood floor at my feet now instead of the padded blanket I have for her two more feet away.  Seems like every citizen of the 'Burgh, even the four footed ones, had a Black Cloud Day yesterday.

And the hangover continues into today.  Once more, the area seems unnaturally quiet.  Movement is happening, but with a somber silence, because the same neighbors who can't quite seem to make it outside to take down their Christmas nativity scenes or garland (I swear 40% of the houses in Shaler still have some holiday decoration up and visible), stealthily whisked away all those Steeler decorations.  A few hearty souls, like my next door neighbor, have continued to fly their banners, but, as I explained to a friend, I would be amused if I weren't just so darned depressed.

Even the weather seemed to concur, the clouds hanging oppressively in the sky, rain falling from the lead-colored sky, mixing with the remaining snow to make grey mush.  Even the snow looks depressing, for crying out loud!

So, if the saying "misery loves company" has any merit, I have an entire city of unhappy comrades.  I could take some comfort in the fact that I am not alone in having absolutely lost sight of the fact that this was just a game and the Steelers are just a football team if I were of a mind to be comforted.  I tried to watch some SportsCenter tonight, but found I can't stomach it yet.  I can't even tell you who the MVP is, although I suspect it is Aaron Rodgers, whom I genuinely feel glad for.

Will there even be football next season?  The Steeler Nation has to add that worry to their mourning. Can we avenge this loss, or will our favorite players be taking up knitting or refining their golf game next September?

For me, it's an escape:  it carried me through the dark second year numbness and made me feel emotions I was scared for a time no longer existed inside me.  I'm not sure what excuse everyone else in this town has for being completely without a reasonable level of objectivity.  I just know it's awfully quiet out there.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Letter From Home

Dear Friends,

As I sit here watching the Penguins work on a major penalty kill without their two best players and now another ejected, I thought I would write to you and let you know how I am doing rather than unpacking, which is what I should be doing.  Or paying bills maybe.  One thing's for sure:  I definitely I should not be watching hockey and messing around on the computer.  But, it's been a whopper of a week, and I'm not really sure my body or my brain are capable of much else.

I have met a lot of nice people here in Pittsburgh.  Among them are the two men who came to clean my carpet after Cheyenne knocked over a half gallon of cocoa rose paint, then stepped in it and ran (scared by my freaked out yelling), the three movers who moved in all my stuff in a wet snow at the same time the carpet cleaners were working, the two son-in-laws of my Fantastic Realtor who came over to do so honey-do's for me because there was so much stuff to bring in the movers couldn't set it all properly, the nice man with Comcast who worked most of the day trying to get my cable and Internet working after I was told at one point yesterday I wouldn't have service until Sunday (Super Bowl Sunday - Steelers Super Bowl Sunday...), the plumber who had to show me how to turn on my water heater and, most recently, the locksmith who spent an hour drilling into the garage door lock after I locked myself out of the house tonight.  Nice to know I live in such a secure house.  Or did anyway.  Currently, I am without a garage door lock (but it would be a challenge to break into the garage, so I'm not all that worried).

Of course, the demographics of people here are like they are any where else.  Most are decent, some are downright saintly, some are evil, and some are nosy and stand-offish.  That last refers to you Mr. Across the Street Neighbor.  Got an eyeful of me standing out in the cold and wet while the saintly locksmith labored to get me back in my house?  Hope you have had an awesome time watching my toils and troubles over this past week because I don't plan on continuing to such a show.

As some of you know, while I have been up here scrambling to react to all the situations I have mired myself in, I lost yet another dog yesterday.  Greg put Tawny down after she had a seizure.  We had been working to get her relief for a while now for what seemed to be a bulging disc that would have required expensive surgery that we couldn't afford because of the cost of the move.  As I flush money away on carpet cleaners, locksmiths and the new stuff here and there that any new home requires,  I can't help but think my burning desire to be here now has a body count.

I am bruised pretty much all over the place, my hands are like sand paper, dried out by weather and unwrapping reams and reams of paper around what is way more stuff than this little house can easily accommodate, there is cocoa rose paint around my cuticles that I can't seem to wash out no matter what I do, and every nail I have is shattered.  I noticed today I have a jagged, angry cut on my arm.  I have no idea how it got there, I am so numb to everything but my exhaustion.  With my luck, this game will go to overtime and keep me up even later.  (It did actually - it ended in a shoot out, but by then I was snoring away loudly on the couch.)

There is no doubt this has been a rough week on my psyche, not just my hands, so for those of you who questioned the wisdom of this move, now is the time to say "I told you so."  But, I'm not ready yet to throw in the Terrible Towel.  This morning, six deer greeted Cheyenne and I in the back yard.  I take that as a hopeful sign.  Besides, it's 20 degrees warmer here than Texas right now!

I'll keep you updated on how it's going - in between contractors coming over to save me from whatever mess I've got myself into that is.