This is probably the most difficult thing I've written. Six years ago yesterday, I introduced myself to the blogosphere, writing my first post, "Naturally I Love Farms." I do love farms—no matter what is going on in my life, stepping onto a farm instantly erases all woes. Just as being eye-to-eye with a baby does. There is something so holy and right about what farmers do, and how babies are.
If you've been reading my blog regularly, you've noticed that the posts have been fewer and farther between. It's not that I don't want to write, it's the circumstances in which I find myself—in which Bob and I found ourselves. All of which have combined to make life more difficult than it's ever been for us—except perhaps the time we were embroiled in family court for what seemed like a few centuries of the Black Plague.
I haven't had much work to speak of for the last several months. I suppose everybody's tightening their belts. Simultaneously, there has been a need for me to step up and get Logan after school. Because my car is badly in need of a tune-up, my former whopping 15 MPG Volvo sedan now gets under ten miles to the gallon. And that means a roundtrip to Logan's school and back costs $6 or so. Throw in a front light repair from a fender-bender—and an eBay ripoff—and the fix-it ticket, and there went another bundle.
And then there is the weather. While I don't begrudge a drop of rain that falls in California—the farms and ranches need it!—Bob's building work falls off when the weather is inclement. Last month alone, he figures the rain cost him $1000. And it's not "off the top," it's "from the bottom."
Last week, after endless rain, I stepped out of my bed and my feet went squish on the carpet. The same thing happened when I stepped into the bathroom. Bathroom, bedroom, and garage: flooded. Not up to our knees, but enough that the carpet had to be ripped out. And if there is anything stinkier than a mildewed carpet soaked in mud, please don't describe it to me.
About the only impass in our relationship is with our landlord. Bob simply refuses, EVER, to ask him for any repairs or improvements to our house. Because we are (since we took on the responsibility seven years ago to raise Logan) constantly late with our rent, he stalwartly refuses to ask the landlord for anything. Not even things that landlords are required by law to provide to renters. Never mind that the landlord is very, very, very monied. (And a nice man, but still.)
Following the flood, the French drain that Bob dug so the water wouldn't enter the house—well, it stopped working. Just too much water. So we can only flush the commode or take a shower rarely. As is the case with our neighbors, in the cabin on higher ground than ours. Otherwise, sewage floods the lower bathroom.
I know: this is not a tsunami. No babies died. The only damage, besides the carpet, was to some of Bob's most precious original vinyl LPs. (Don't cry for me, Jimi Hendrix.) But there is simply so little money that I can't afford to drive to farms right now. This week, I took stuff back to Trader Joe's so I could just get bread, milk, and eggs. And I didn't get organic eggs or milk, either. They're two dollars more, and two dollars is five gallons of water, or a chunk of cheese or bunch of carrots.(I haven't bought anything at a farmers market in months.)
The list of obligations includes:
- Repairs to our house…carpet, paint, linoleum for the second flooded bathroom.
- Paying off my mechanics from nearly a year ago ($700)
- Car insurance ($100)
- Paying off some of the medical bill from my hospitalization last fall ($600)
- Getting out of being overdrafted over $100 (no choice: had to pay the fix-it ticket or get fined another $300)
- Oh, the necessities of life. Some groceries, a few seedlings for the garden, a pair or two of shoes, and a few new clothes (none of those in over a year)
- Other stuff. I'm overdue for an eye exam (apparently I am growing a cataract), dental work (ouch), and some prescriptions to be filled (fortunately, they're less than $30 a month). No, we have no insurance.
Those are my dear darlings. Being Logan's Nana is the most awesome job I've ever had. And the most life-saving blessing for both Bob and me—and, I suspect, for Logan as well. He's the opposite of radioactivity.
Just when our three girls were all out on their own, this amazing being, Logan—our grandson—came into our lives, through circumstances much like those you would see on Jerry Springer, if you were inclined to watch Jerry Springer. When Logan came in, everything that used to be recreation went out. We stopped going out to dinner. We stopped going out of town. We stopped getting HBO. We cut out both of our landlines. Bob started paying for Logan's day care, and we figure that the monetary costs alone have been upwards of $30,000 in the past seven years. The cost of time (lost work) in dealing with the various agencies: family court, Child Protective Services, etc., and all the drama created by other players in the scenario also approaches several thousand dollars.
Naturally, the toll in stress has been close to unbearable—especially if you add in the world events and my level of empathy with the Japanese, the union workers, the protesters in all the countries, and decent Americans who deserve more than 1% of our citizens controlling 80% of the money. (I can't watch the news now.)
I have been following a recommended regime of extra Vitamin D and sunshine—it's made a difference. But the other side of the coin is creative paralysis and concrete procrastination. When I have had work, it's hard to focus. My to-do list is fairly long, and most of the triangles are not filled in. (Maybe if I confess my sins, I'll feel guilty and make amends to the notepad.) I've become somewhat agorophobic, but part of that's just feeling like I don't have anything to offer in a conversation, unless it's to exclaim about Logan's substantial abilities and achievements. I don't want to go out because my clothes aren't nice. I don't want to go out because it costs gas. It's a Möbius strip of shame.
So I don't know when I will post something related to farms again. I feel like a sham. On the other hand, I love what I do, when I get to do it. LOVE it. And my work revivifies me.
I am asking for help, which I've done before. I need help getting out of this financial hole. I need help remembering that Logan's worth every single penny it's cost—because he is a joyful boy with a staggering amount of creativity. (He also misses his mother so much that he curls up in a ball and cries, which just thinking about, makes me cry, too. He hasn't seen her in over a year.)
I have sold some jewelry, and will be selling a couple more of my most favorite pieces. I can live without them: they're just shiny things. I need a shiny aura more.
I miss my farms. I miss being a bright light in the world. I hate being a burden. I hate feeling like a failure, while simultaneously taking joy in my passions and the ability to laugh and laugh hard. And to make others laugh. Twitter's been a sanctuary of one-liners, and I follow some of the most irreverent, hilarious people out there.
That's really all I have to say. Too much and still incomplete. So many people have let me know they've missed me here, and care about me (here and in real life)…I'm letting you know where I am, and where I'm not. My heart thanks every one of you who've sent me comments, notes, love, and given me your time—be it Facebook, Twitter, or in person.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter. —Blaise Pascal
Thanks for being there. I will now attempt to resume a normal breathing schedule. Deep breath. Click: Publish Now.
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