Sunday, August 28, 2011

Back to School: Lessons in Life

I started this four days ago:
Marissa and her dad just left in the rain to drive her off to school.  I stayed behind, with strongly mixed emotions about that, to work.  As it turns out, I cannot log into my company's software, so I can't work currently, which is horribly bad since I am very far behind after two days straight of having my butt chewed by various sources over various things.  Awesome.  Noticing that my teeth were clenched tight and my breath was shallow, I realized I was on the verge of a horrible hissy fit, so I decided to blog instead of sitting and stewing because that reaction is fairly germane to the topic at hand.  So here goes...

Wow, what a long, strange summer it's been.  You know, everyone makes so much fun of the well worn Dickens line, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,..." but how often has it applied to someplace you are or something you are experiencing?  The sweet and sour of life has been evident throughout our first summer here.  We've had some amazing experiences - being extras in The Dark Knight Rises, joining a friend who speaks Chinese at a Chinese restaurant where the owner's wife kept us heartily entertained for hours, swapping stories and asking questions about the cultural differences between the two countries.  I've never had so much fun eating a meal.  We've gone to the museum, the zoo, Pirates games back when they were actually winning, which had an energy that was palatable, and training camp for my beloved Steelers, not once, but twice.  We've seen fireworks from Point State Park and been there for art festivals.  I've eaten cheese fries from Primanti Brothers and potato pancakes from the Hoffbrau Haus on the Southside.  I've discovered that Yuengling beer is better than IC Light in and of itself, but IC Light has a summer beer with mango that cannot be beat.  While that last part is hardly life changing, it is sort of fun.  We've endeavored to experience this new place we now call home and haven't even scratched the surface, which in and of itself is exciting because there is so much more to look forward to.

On the flip side, there are the things I've blogged about before:  the crushing worries about income that make being fussed at by my bosses nearly heart attack material because I get so freaked out that I'm on the chopping block.  I have no idea how much of that is healthy worry and how much is just wild paranoia.  Of course, as they add more things onto my plate, our world closes in, as I am constantly attached to this computer - so things remain undone, like our taxes, and dusting, and poop scooping.  Greg, not knowing anyone besides Marissa and me, finds himself stuck in the house and a gradual resentment grows between us.  I would like him to help more, but he's tired, working part-time now in the middle of the night.  He would like me to detach from the computer once in a while and go back out into the city and explore more.  We find ourselves angry at one another over stupid little stuff.  And that brings me to what I actually sat down the blog about.

At one point last night, desperately far behind at work and tired, I walked downstairs to a wet carpet.  This is the second time the basement has flooded.  This time it was because of AC condensation.  I was immediately over-the-top pissed and remained that way for hours.  Greg and I started barking at one another.  Why exactly?  I have no idea.  It is not anyone's fault.  It was just that it was probably the last thing I needed at the moment.  Later, as the storm currently harassing the area woke me up in the middle of the night, I realized that

I got that far before I got back into my system and have been working ever since except for a block of time yesterday when Marissa and spent some time looking for dorm room stuff and watching the Steelers all get injured (or so it seems).  So, let me regroup here a bit...

The area is now calm, sort of ironic when a hurricane is on the other side of a relatively small state creating havoc.  And I seem calmer as well.  The AC is fixed with only a relatively minor expense compared to what I worried it would be, and we learned how to care for a system that is radically different than what we are used to.  The lesson to take away from this is that if you get your panties in a wad over every little thing, all you get is wrinkled panties.  If you take a breath and deal with it, you get results.  Which brings me back to the point...

Marissa made the observation a few days before she took off for dorm life that she didn't think her dad wanted her to leave.  I was a little surprised by that, because I feel a sense of excitement that she is getting a chance to finally get out in the New World and actually meet some people and thought he would feel the same, but upon some independent observation, I think she was right.  I found myself wondering if part of that reason is he didn't want to be stuck here alone with me.  We found ourselves snapping at one another so often I almost wanted to instinctively cringe when I walked past him, and when I wasn't snapping directly at him, I was fuming over something, and I could tell he often was too.  Marissa was the calming influence; we tried, with mixed success, to tone it down around her.  In the couple of days she was gone - to return to spend the night so we could watch the game together - we did fine.  Somehow, not having to maintain our tempers helped us not really have any.  People are funny.

But, the real puzzle was why we were so irritable to begin with - it's not like I can blame it on the heat.  The days are uneven now - still hot and miserably humid some days, crisp and simply gorgeous on others, but hardly unbearable on any of them.  It's not like we can blame it on money.  We will spend months digging out from the hole this move dropped us into, but with the sale of the house in Texas behind us, that goal seems realistic now.  The hole certainly has stopped getting deeper.  The answer is found in that night when I spent hours stewing because of the AC.  I was tired, granted, but my reaction was still extreme, and I found myself at one point, laundry listing all the deficiencies I perceived  in my life and realized I was mad at Kelsey in part.  I'm not saying it was rational, I am just saying that is how I felt.  Then I thought about what she would say to me at that moment.  She would say that even in death, we confuse her with the disease, and that would hurt her because she didn't want to be the disease.

Later, when that storm woke me, I had made the journey back to reality and realized something that is important to understand.  I've looked up the stages of grief before - it's sort of interesting in a non-helpful kind of way.  Some will tell you there are five stages, some will tell you there are seven.  They are inconsistent on what they are, but they generally will tell you what you will feel going through them and not much else.  I guess that is helpful to an outside observer, but I, of course, was looking to jump over all of that, and I at least wanted to understand WHY.  I know what I'm feeling, you idiots, now tell me why I feel it.  I guess you can't really answer either of those questions, you have to work your way through all the stages - however many there really are - and it's just how it works.  One thing that seems consistent is that anger is part of the package.  Maybe one would have expected us to get past that part already. Maybe we did, and we're coming back around for another pass at it.  All I know is we've been suffering from a consistent case of the irritables since July.  But one thing struck me as I poked around again the other night on the various websites.  A couple of places mentioned/cautioned to make sure you're mad at the right thing.  There was an example of a person lashing out at an innocent bystander - I've done that actually.  But, it struck me how true that really is.  So, what am I really mad at?  Not Kelsey surely.  The real victim in this whole horrible story.  It's the Beast.  I'm angry at the monster that literally ate away at my daughter.  I need to attack it and stop attacking my husband, my daughter's memory and everything else that has caught my wrath in the last six weeks.

Now that I know that, I have to figure out what to do about it.

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