JOURNAL NO. 49
November 1993 - December 1994
Age 35 - 37

"A little voice inside my head is saying that things are fucked up because I've fucked them up, and that
they're going to stay that way because I can't manage my own life."




Thursday evening
November 11, 1993

Just home from work (and a quick trip to my Dad's house). Ray and the kids are putting away several bags of groceries; I've just started my first load of laundry of the evening, and am sitting here now with a cup of instant coffee ...

... Hello, new journal!

Today was Veteran's Day so things were extraordinarily quiet in the office all day. I went to work expecting to get into trouble. I had to leave work yesterday before the UPS guy showed up (in order to make it to the bank and cash my paycheck before it closed), and there was a package that didn't get sent out as a result. (An important package, naturally.) I thought Randy would hit the ceiling when he found out, but he was OK and so was Bill. The package went out this afternoon, and all's well that ends well. I spent the day working on my autobio (Summer '72, John, Clarence) and clipping stuff for my Christmas book. The kids had the day off from school and I called them from time to time, just to make sure they weren't burning the house down. They cleaned my bedroom for me as a "surprise," and everyone seems to be in good spirits tonight. I just took a little codeine for cramps (my period started today), and I'm going to fix frozen pizza and salad for dinner. Should be a nice mellow evening.

Oops! Amend that: frozen pizza was voted down in favor of TV dinners, which are now cooking in the oven.

Worried about Kyle, a little. He's very quiet this evening, and he has that glassy-eyed look they all get when they're about to get sick. He insists that he feels "OK," and his temperature is normal, but I don't know ... what will I do if he's sick tomorrow? I can't take the day off. I wouldn't worry about leaving Jamie home alone, or even Kacie if it were necessary, but Kyle? I hate the thought of him being here alone when he's sick. Maybe Velma could come and watch him ... ?

Kyle is forever and always my "baby," and I suppose I will always worry about him.  Even though he's the age now that Jamie was when we moved into this house (and I felt she was so "big" then), he still seems impossibly little and sweet to me. Will he always seem littler than the girls?




Friday evening
November 12, 1993

Brrr. Just home from work again, sitting in my ice-cold laundry room. My hands are so cold I can barely type. Winter is here, folks ...




Monday evening
November 15, 1993

Depressed. Some guy came into the office this afternoon looking for Bill  --  a guy who apparently went to Sunset and Glacier with Bill and me  --  and although I don't remember him at all, it was extremely obvious that he remembered ME, and that he was disappointed by what he saw. "You look really different!" he said, and it was written all over his face. (Jesus, Terri got fat.) That was enough to send my spirits plummeting. That, and a long, cold drive home in the dark ...

Jamie got her cast off this afternoon (Ray took her to Dr. Kay's) and her arm is very sore tonight. Ray is barbecuing chicken; I'm going to make some au gratin potatoes and then take Kacie to her gymnastics class. Then I'm going to come home and eat a big fat dinner. What the hell.

Spent most of this day clipping Christmas articles and working on the holiday book. I wonder what kind of Christmas 1993 will be?




Friday morning
November 19, 1993

Getting ready for work at a somewhat more leisurely pace than usual ... I can pretty much go in anytime I want to this morning. Bill and his folks are in L.A. for the next few days and things are slooooowwwww ...

I do want to go in, though. Our new office supply place is dropping off a big order sometime today, and I've got a few personal things included in the order: some blank tapes and a small desk lamp. I would also like to finish our family Christmas newsletter and start some coloring book/Christmas cards for Kyle to give the kids in his class. In another week or so our new bookkeeper (Maureen: I haven't met her yet) will be coming in for 20 hrs. a week, so I won't have as much "alone" time at the office to work on personal projects like that. Part of me is looking forward to having someone new to talk to ... part of me is worried. What if we don't get along?

Last night was Parent/Teacher Conferences at Bow Lake. All three kids are doing pretty well  -- Kyle in particular seems to be flourishing, and his sweet young teacher, Miss Erford, is crazy about him  --  and I managed to get through all three conferences and back home before 8:00.  I'm not all that thrilled with Kacie's teacher, Miss L. She's a friend of Velma's, and from everything I'd heard about her I expected her to be wonderful.  But last night she just struck me as too much of a perfectionist ... everything from her expensive tailored suit and perfect fingernails to her teaching style, which seems rigid and uncompromising. She actually criticized the way Kacie makes her "a's" and "o's." Give me a break. Kacie was crushed when she saw her report card (mostly C's) and read the lengthy comments Mrs. L. wrote about her. It took the rest of the evening for me to raise her spirits again and convince her that I'm proud of her no matter WHAT her snooty teacher says.

Evening:

Home. This has basically been a crappy week and I'm glad it's over. Not in my usual buoyant Friday night mood: Ray has to work tomorrow, so we have to be "good" tonight. Shit. 

I tried to drive to the store a few minutes ago to get a small bottle of Lancer's, but that asshole across the street has me blocked in again. I'm sitting here furiously smoking a cigarette and drinking a flat Diet Pepsi instead. Grrrr. Earlier this week I ran my car into the gate and totally banged up the passenger side, by the way, because of Marc's stupid truck being in the way. So he's not exactly my favorite person in the world. He's re-paving his driveway and it's been a pain in the butt all week. GGRRRR again.




Sunday afternoon
November 21, 1993

Somewhat better mood than I was in on  Friday night. We're watching for the first snowfall of the season, which is predicted for this evening. I'm not exactly sure how snow would affect my commute to and from work tomorrow, but it might be interesting to find out. 

In the meantime, I bought the kids all a new pair of gloves yesterday at Mervyn's (also two prs. of leggings for both girls, and a nice warm "Bugle Boy" sweatshirt for Kyle, which he wears constantly). I've got a big pot of Swiss Steak simmering on the stove for tonight's supper, and it's making the whole house smell great. Perfect winter food.




Excerpts from a letter to my pen pal Deanne V., 11/93

"... Jamie doesn't really 'play' anymore, at least not in the way I think you mean. She's almost twelve years old now, nearly as tall as I am, and extremely mature and self-possessed for her age. Most of her free time is spent with her best friends (Christina or Nicole) or reading alone in her room. Ray sees this as Jamie rejecting the family, but I have explained to him that this is normal, healthy pre-teen behavior & to leave her alone. She is wonderful about helping out around the house and I couldn't have gotten through the first two months of working without her, so I give her some slack where other areas of her life are concerned. She makes all her own choices about clothing, hair styles, how she keeps her room, what she reads, etc. and I respect her choices. Her judgment is generally pretty sound, her grades are good and she's an all-around great kid."

"Kacie is completely obsessed with gymnastics, food, TV, our cats and reading, more or less in that order. She takes Advanced Gymnastics class two nights a week ... they're training her in tumbling, balance beam, vault and parallel bars. Last week she won a first place ribbon in the balance beam event at her first-ever meet. Kacie has spent most of her life listening to people yammer on & on about Jamie's accomplishments: it's about time she had something completely her own, the way gymnastics is.

She's doing a lot better in school this year, especially in reading. Now that she's discovered R.L. Stine and Ann M. Martin, she can read upwards of ten books a week, purely for pleasure.

And Kacie is my nice kid. She's the kid who will scoop the little spider out of the bathtub, carry it outside on a scrap of toilet paper and gently deposit it under a bush before she turns the shower on. She has a good heart and a positive outlook, and it's nice spending time with her."

"Kyle is my seven-year-old terror. He is contrary, self-absorbed, destructive and uncooperative. His jokes are crude, his room is a mess, he is always in desperate need of a bath and he is horrible to his sisters. He is ALSO imaginative, articulate, cute as hell and sweetly affectionate toward his parents, his teacher and his kitty. Go figure. In other words: he is ALL BOY. Right now he is building a fort in the backyard - the weirdest conglomeration of boards, cardboard boxes, old picnic benches and assorted junk you've ever seen in your life. Every day after school he's out there puttering around, nailing things and moving things and god only knows what else, until I drag him in for dinner. He also loves playing basketball, riding his bike, reading books about animals, watching Nickelodeon with Kacie, and making things out of paper and glue. Last month he lost all his front teeth more or less simultaneously ... Jamie calls him Jack (as in Jack-o-Lantern) when she wants to get him all riled up. It sends him into a total frenzy."




Wednesday morning
December 1, 1993

I guess I have some catching up to do.

The "big snowfall" was more like a small white-wash ... maybe a half inch of snow on the ground, altogether ... but it was a nice distraction. School was cancelled that morning (Monday, Nov. 22) mainly because of the icy roads and the wind-chill factor, and I was a couple of hours late getting into the office. Frankly, I wasn't planning to go to work at ALL: I wanted to stay home and watch junk TV with the kids and enjoy myself. I even got as far as making myself a hot breakfast and turning on Regis & Kathie Lee, but then James called from the office and said that Bill's house had been broken into, over the weekend. Bill and his wife were due back from California any minute, and they didn't know about it yet. I figured I'd better get my ass into the office pronto ... Bill wasn't going to need any additional headaches. Driving wasn't that bad. I took it very slow and easy and avoided the worst hills (especially around the airport). I left the office early that afternoon (and the next couple of days as well) before the roads could get too icy. The snow melted within a day or so and now we're back to rain and gloomy gray skies.

Thanksgiving was great, but it was almost too much of a good thing ... more accurately, it was too much of several good things ... I am still recovering. Ray barbecued the turkey, and Kacie & I cooked everything else. (She made the fruit salad and the green bean bake.) We had these big plans to eat around the table as a family, but as usual we wound up with paper plates in front of the TV. Oh well ...

Ray has been home for almost a full week now and I'm about ready to jump off a bridge (or to push him off of one). He had Thanksgiving and the day after that off, then the weekend, then Monday and Tuesday as vacation days. This morning he was supposed to go back to work, but at the last minute he had me call in "sick" for him. I could tell by the tone of his boss' voice that he didn't buy my story ("Ray's sick") for one minute. I HATE calling in for Ray. It got my whole day off to a totally shitty start, and I'm having a hard time working myself into anything resembling a good mood as a result ...

I've been feeling rundown and vaguely unwell for days now. There's a tickle in my throat and an unpleasant burning sensation behind my eyes that have been bugging me since Monday. Also, I've got a major toothache. That top molar has all but completely disintegrated, and it throbs in a dull distracting sort of way all the time now. I haven't slept much for the past week and my eating habits have been abominable ... mostly just a piece of mince pie here, an instant soup there, and lots of coffee.

All day long at the office I dream about going home, curling up on the sofa with a pile of magazines and drifting off peacefully before 8 p.m. ... but then I get home and I wind up staying awake until 10 or 11 again. Tonight is dance-class-and-gymnastics night, so once again I'll be driving around and doing stuff until late. Shit.

The fact that it's December 1st does nothing to lift my spirits. I've been seeing these MAJOR Christmas light displays when I drive home from work since before Thanksgiving, and they've started playing Christmas music on the radio already, for Pete's sake. I'm in a total state of anxiety about shopping and about decorating the house: how in the world will I ever manage to do either???? I bought my Christmas cards last week and I think I've managed to finish two. The only thing I've really finished is the Christmas idea book, which I lugged in here to the office and worked on during my lunch hour two weeks ago. But the two things that have me most panicked, like I said, are decorating and shopping. Having a car and a paycheck this year SHOULD be making things easier, but to my surprise I find I'm just as anxious and worried as ever. Go figure.

The bookkeeper still hasn't started work yet, but we've got two new technicians, Jason and Mark. I secretly call Mark "Droopy," because he reminds me of that little cartoon dog. I can't stand him: everything about him rubs me the wrong way, from his rubber face to his tuneless whistling. Last Wednesday I stopped and bought doughnuts at Winchell's (for Bill, Brad, Randy and James) and this asshole walked around all morning, stuffing one after the other into his revolting face. Was I pissed.

Later:

Now it's 2 p.m. and I'm continuing to shlog through my day. A UPS delivery that I was really looking forward to -- my software from California -- arrived today, but I couldn't have it because I'd written a personal check instead of getting a cashier's check. I probably won't be able to pay for it at all, now, because I had to give Velma nearly all my cash to pay for housecleaning and Avon. Depressed about that. Ray came by awhile ago to drop off my lunch for the second day in a row: my current favorite, an e. Coli Burger (otherwise known as a Jumbo Jack). 

It is pouring-down rain outside and I've been alone all day. It's one of those days when something "weird" is going on with Bill. He left this morning without telling me where he was going or how long he'd be gone, he's checked in by phone exactly twice all day, and when he does call he's moody and distracted. I am so bored right now I could scream.




Crappy Stuff About This Day
December 1, 1993

  • Waking up from a great dream and having to get up for work at 5:45 a.m.
  • Major toothache.
  • Ray making me call in sick for him.
  • The first blouse I put on was too tight.
  • Having to move Ray's car so I could leave for work.
  • Sore throat, burning eyes and headache.
  • The stupid #%&*ing road construction crew blocking 176th again.
  • The asshole who roared around me (and a school bus) on 8th Avenue.
  • "Droopy" sitting in his car when I got to work.
  • "Droopy" heading into the bathroom just as I was going in to fix my hair.
  • Not the greatest makeup day I've ever had.
  • Bill asking why I forgot to send the boxes back UPS.
  • Droopy's stupid, pointless, ceaseless, tuneless whistling.
  • Droopy's hacking barking annoying cough.
  • Droopy in general.
  • Making a slathering fool out of myself on the phone with Brad at 10 a.m.
  • No UPS delivery today (waiting for my software from California).
  • Zits all over my chin.
  • My software showing up after all, but discovering I can only pay with cash or a cashier's check (I had a personal check ready).



Later:

A moment of almost classic synchronicity: the rain has stopped, temporarily, and the sun has opened up over the downtown Seattle skyline, visible from my seat here in the office. I looked up a moment ago and was startled to see an incredible rainbow, stretched out over Seattle. Just then, the radio began to play "Comfortably Numb." It was like a custom-made music video, designed just for me, to make this long long afternoon slightly more bearable ... and more beautiful. 

Thanks, who ever was in charge of the past five minutes: I needed that.




DREAM LOG

11/9/93  My order from the office supply store was all wrong: the pens were all red, instead of the blue and black pens I'd ordered, and the computer software was some cheapo stupid Zsa Zsa Gabor travel program.

11/11/93  Kacie won free tickets to a Sonics game from a radio station. Ray answered the phone when they called to tell her she'd won. He was drunk and confused and he didn't understand what the guy from the radio station was telling him. Annoyed, I grabbed the phone away from and talked to the d.j. I promised him that I would drive Kacie down to the radio station to pick up the tickets, and then I would take her to the game. On my way to the station, I witnessed a traffic accident. The people wanted me to stay and fill out a police report, but I explained that I didn't have a driver's license and they allowed me to go.




December 2, 1993
Thursday

Feeling so much better today. Why?? How?? I'd like to know the secret, bottle it, patent it, save it, use it the next time one of those dark snarly depressions hits me, like the kind I've battled all week ...

Driving to work I suddenly realized that I felt better than I have in days. I got enough sleep last night, for one thing, and it's stopped raining for a little while. I've discovered that I don't enjoy the rain nearly as much, now that I'm out driving around in it, as I did when I just sat home and watched it out the window.




December 3, 1993 
Friday

Still feeling pretty good, but it's only noon and I have the whole long boring afternoon stretching out before me. This has been one of the more grueling weeks I can remember enduring, workwise, and I'm glad it's almost over.

Finished a big chunk of my Christmas cards today. Ron Colson dropped off a bunch of stamps before he left for Spokane (tomorrow is the BNC Telephone Christmas party; Bill left this morning too) so I was able to get them written and into the mail. Still need to write a letter for Bev's card and finish the letter I've started to Kathy B. ... plus I need to find an address for Karen Grace ... but other than that I've made some real progress in at least one dinky little area of my life. Hurray.

Jamie is going to the movies tonight with her new best friend Christina D., some other girls (maybe) from their class, and a couple of boys from their class (maybe). I'm trying not to make a big issue out of it but secretly I am wrestling with some very interesting emotions. My baby is growing up.

Hoping I have the energy and motivation to drag the Christmas stuff down from the attic this weekend and get some decorating done around the house. I don't expect it to look the way it has in years past ... I just don't have the TIME for that kind of thing this year ... but I'd settle for a few snowmen there, a Santa there, and my Christmas cards taped around the walls.




December 7, 1993
Tuesday afternoon, blustery rain

I've been avoiding writing anything in my journal, I think, because I haven't been very happy with myself lately. I feel like I'm letting everybody down ... especially myself. I'm irresponsible with money, my weekends are a blur, the house needs serious attention, I keep disappointing friends and family members. To top it all off I feel no Christmas spirit. I'm dreading shopping, I'm dreading the money hassles, I'm dreading all the running around and the bloated expectations and the whole thing.

And even BEFORE the holidays comes Jamie's birthday, which I am dreading with equal fervor. I'm afraid that no running around and/or effort on my part is going to make her happy. She's not being particularly demanding: it's my own overblown expectations, as usual.

My teeth are causing me almost constant agony now. Last night I woke up at 2 a.m. with the most miserable toothache I've ever felt in my life. All I could do was sit up on the sofa with my mouth hanging open and wait for the codeine to help. Today I feel ragged and crabby from lack of sleep as a result.

My period is due any minute and I have no supplies laid in. I have two dollars in my purse and just found out that I don't get my fucking paycheck until Thursday ... Jamie's birthday ... which leaves me no time for shopping, of course. Wondering how in the world I'm going to get through the next few days/weeks/the rest of this month with my sanity (and my savings account) intact.

And of course Ray is utterly useless. Last night he went off on a wild bizarre rampage because he couldn't find his box of cookies. Yes indeed. The girls and I had just come home from Kacie's gymnastics meet: we were cold, tired and famished (we stopped and got ourselves KFC: Ray offered to make BLT's for him and Kyle) and there was Ray, drunk and goofy and tearing the house apart because he'd misplaced his white-fudge Oreos. Please please please please please GOD deliver me from this kind of crap ...




Friday evening
December 10, 1993

Just home. Kacie stayed home sick today, and at the last minute Ray decided to call in sick (again) and stay home with her ... from the looks of things neither one of them did much of anything today. I walked in with grocery bags full of chips and dip and Coke and other goodies, all pumped and happy and ready for a fun night, and Ray is parked glumly in front of the woodstove looking like someone ran over his dog. Oh well. I've poured myself a glass of wine, put on the new Nilsson CD I got in the mail from the library, and I'm determined not to let his pouty bad spirits dampen mine.




Tuesday 11:30 a.m.
December 14, 1993

Jamie's birthday turned out great, after all. I took a couple of hours off Thursday afternoon (the 9th) to cash my paycheck and buy her birthday presents, a wonderful dual cassette CD player and two new CD's (Mariah Carey and SWV, plus a Salt & Peppah cassette single) and I wrapped them later in the afternoon at the office. To save some time I'd ordered her birthday cake from the bakery at Albertson's, and Ray stopped to pick that up for me. I made one final stop on my way home ... I bought her a bouquet of white baby carnations, a little teddy bear and a half gallon of her favorite ice cream, peppermint stick. Velma had been in to clean that day and she decorated the dining room for me, with streamers and balloons. ("It looks OK," Jamie said diplomatically, "But not as nice as if you decorated it, Mom.") We got $30 worth of Taco Time for dinner, watched Jamie open her presents  --  she loves her CD player!  --  and enjoyed some cake & ice cream.

The next night, two of her friends from school, Christina and Yvonne, both spent the night. On Saturday morning I drove Jamie and her friends to Southcenter and let them spend the whole day at the mall. (I gave Jamie $50 and she finished her Christmas shopping.)

Jamie
December 1993



Ray still hasn't put up our Christmas lights, but at least we have our tree: the kids decorated it Sunday morning, after I put on the lights and garland. It was the first time I've ever just sat back and let them decorate the tree without interference, and I must say it wasn't as traumatic as I feared it would be. They did a nice job and we're all pleased with the results, even though there are a couple of spots on our tree this year that look like someone took a "bite" outta the tree.

The bad news this past weekend is that my car is frucking up on me. When I drove back down to Southcenter on Saturday afternoon to pick up Jamie and her friends, it suddenly decided to die every time I stopped at a stop sign or a light. Right in the middle of Christmas-shopping-at-the-mall-TRAFFIC, mind you. God: it was scary. Ray's been working on the engine for a couple of days now and it's somewhat drivable, but he's got the idle cranked up so high the car practically drives itself: I'm not used to it and it makes for a nervous drive. I'm very sad, angry, disappointed and worried, all at once. The car's been running so well for the past seven months; why does this have to happen? And why now, at Christmas time? What will I do if Ray's just made it worse? Why can't I ever have a car last longer than a few months ... ???

Jamie is home sick today, by the way. Kacie took Thursday, Friday and Monday off from school (and she still sounds horrible: she's got one of her hacking coughs that go on & on forever) but today she went back to class and now it's Jamie's turn. I still have every single bit of my Christmas shopping left to do, and I'm terrified that I'm going to get sick ten minutes before I leave to go shopping. I was hoping Bill would be nice and let me have my birthday off, tomorrow  --  then I would have gone out and done my shopping in one mad dash and been done with it  --  but it doesn't look like I'll get my wish. When I mentioned to him this morning that tomorrow was my b.day, he just rolled his eyes and laughed, as though it was just too absurd. Apparently secretaries, like mothers, simply don't HAVE birthdays.




December 15, 1993
Wednesday afternoon

I've been avoiding writing anything today because I was afraid it might upset me too much ... God, I hate birthdays ... but the fact is I've been weepy and depressed all day so I don't see what a little more would hurt.

I woke up with the beginnings of Kacie's awful cold and I feel horrible. I have to work on my birthday. Bill completely forgot that it was my birthday until Brad reminded him. I'm worried about my car, I'm worried about Christmas shopping, I'm mad at Ray (he's been rude and goofy on the phone TWICE today, of all days), I don't want to be 36 years old, I hate the holidays, I hate birthdays, right now I hate the whole world.

There. Now I've got these big fat tears welling up in my eyes. Are you satisfied??

Mom came by last night and brought me a family history book and a box of underwear for my birthday. The kids are probably putting together some kind of celebration for me when I get home ... at least I hope they are. Thank god for my children. They are the ONLY thing that's holding me together this month ... they expect and deserve a decent Christmas, and for their sake I am going to keep all my complaints and worries and headaches to myself as much as possible.

Happy birthday to me.
I'm here at BNC.
I wish I were home now
Resting comfortably.
But my boss is a jerk
And he won't let me shirk.
So I'll see you all later
When I get home from work.

(Song I left on the answering machine for the kids this morning.)

4:30 p.m.

Oh hey ... the perfect addendum to a perfectly fucked birthday: guess who just walked into the office? Good old DROOPY. Now I get to spend a nice half hour with my favorite person in the world. (NOT.)

Evening:

No, I mean it. I fucking HATE birthdays.

I'm home now, and for about five minutes or so I was actually starting to feel a little bit cheered-up ... the kids all gave me hugs and kisses, there are presents on the table, Jamie decorated the dining room ... but then Jamie reminded me about something I'd completely forgotten, the fact that Gillie hasn't been seen since yesterday, and now my spirits have plummeted to new lows. Shit.

Where is our girl kitty?? And how am I supposed to have any kind of happy birthday with her missing ...?

I noticed this morning that she wasn't waiting outside the bathroom door when I got out of the shower: that was my first clue that something was amiss. Now it's late and dark and she hasn't been here all day. God, please, not again. This kitty is so precious to this whole family: please bring her home. I promise I'll quit bitching about birthdays and bosses if you'll just bring her home.




December 21, 1993
Tuesday afternoon

I'm leaving the office in about half an hour: Bill saw me sitting here with my Gatorade and my box of Kleenex and took pity on me. I plan to go home and pick up the kids (lots of screaming in the background when I called awhile ago ... Jamie is running Christmas Vacation with an iron fist) and take them to Southcenter for some next-to-last-minute shopping and lunch. Although what I would really like to do is sleep. And sleep some more. When that alarm goes off at 5:40 a.m. and I'm forced to drag myself into a cold dark hard morning, I swear to myself that I'm going to come home early that night, eat a little supper, read for awhile and then GO TO SLEEP BY 9:00. And of course I never make it.

It definitely looks more like Christmas around our house, at least. Ray finally got the lights up last week, and Jamie and I did some good shopping on Sunday so there are presents under the tree. I never did get around to decorating the dining room but by this point I figure, forget it. I feel not a shred, not a whit, not a centimeter of holiday spirit this year. This is a little disappointing, of course ... this has been an exceptional year, and I was hoping to cap it off with a better-than-ever kind of family Christmas ... but I realize that it probably has more to do with me working and being tired a lot than anything else. My most immediate goal is to finish my shopping (Jamie, Mom, Peg, the little cousins, stockings and one extra gift apiece for Kacie and Kyle), get us through the family visits with a minimum amount of fuss, and totally collapse on Sunday.

Did I ever write anything about my birthday? I don't think so. I was really "blue" that day, unable to focus on much of anything at work, a little weepy and sorry for myself. I think it had finally hit me that I'm thirty-six years old. Not only that, Bill completely forgot it was my birthday in spit of the fact that I'd told him about it only the day before: Brad had to discreetly remind him. Then all I got was "Happy Birthday" and a big goofy Bill B. smile. Wow. No time off, no birthday bonus, no flowers. (Not that I was really expecting anything like that  ...  but gee whiz.)  Ron Colson ceremoniously brought me a blueberry muffin with a birthday candle stuck in it, but other than that no one else at the office acknowledged the occasion in any way at all. By the time I drove home that night I had worked myself into a splendid funk. (I think I tapped out a sour mean-spirited journal entry on my home p.c... .? We were really worried because Gillie had run off?) 

Anyway, the kids had Jamie's boombox set up on the kitchen table, and they played The Beatles' "Birthday" as I walked in the door; they had decorated the dining room (same decorations we used last week for Jamie!) and there were cards and wrapped gifts on the table and a bottle of champagne chilling in the freezer. That made me feel better, obviously, although Gillie being gone made all of us a little sad and anxious in spite of the festivities. I opened my gifts: a Christmas doggy from Kacie (for no reason whatsoever I have named him Dale Copeland); one of my favorite all-time Christmas videos, "The Snowman," and a stuffed snowman to go with it from Jamie; and a new Nikon from Ray and the kids together. Good presents this year! All right!

The champagne was great, the video had me in tears, and ... best of ALL ... Gillie showed up, halfway through the evening!! The kids heard her scratching at the front door, and then it was pandemonium all over the place. That definitely saved my birthday.




Wednesday afternoon
December 22, 1993

Yesterday with the kids was kinda fun. I hate shopping malls  --  Southcenter especially, and Southcenter at Christmas especially especially  --  but I survived the trip anyway. I finished shopping for my mom, anyway: one more name to cross off the list. I got her a new "angel" for her collection, which I love and hope she does too (my mother's only comment when she opened my gift was "You can stop buying me angels now - I have enough") and a little glass bowl filled with potpourri. I still have so much shopping to do it makes my head hurt a little, contemplating it ... I'm not sure but I think Ray and I are going out to do it tonight. We have to get Jamie's bike and Kyle's Sega, among many many many many many other things ...

God, I can't believe that I've completely neglected to mention this, but Ron's great-aunt Dora died this past weekend. In all the Christmas hubbub and hoopla I forgot to write about it yesterday. Forgive me. His sister called us early Sunday morning with the news. I guess Dora had only been in the new nursing home a couple of days when she died. She'd been ill for a very long time so this wasn't a total surprise, but it's a sad time of year for something like this to happen, especially for Ray's grandma. Now she's down in Tucson all by herself (Patty & the kids flew up to Seattle on Sunday) and no amount of coaxing on our part can convince her to fly up and join us. Ray is worried about her and so is everyone else. Anyway, Dora was a sweet gentle lady with a lot of dignity and we'll all miss her. I just sat here at this very typewriter and wrote her a letter two weeks ago: I'm glad now that I got my Christmas cards out as early as I did.

Jamie came to the office with me on Thursday, December 23, 1993. It was a half-day, and the only other BNC employee who stopped in (briefly) was Ron Colson, so we more or less had the office to ourselves for a few hours. She made copies of her jewelry on the Canon copier, tried Print Shop Deluxe on my computer (she "didn't like it" and went back to her old familiar Print Shop as soon as we got home), and faxed a request to her favorite radio station. Afterwards, I treated her to lunch at The Dragon Pearl in Burien, and we did some more last-minute Christmas shopping. It was a fun day with my sweet Puss!

 

Christmas Eve at my mom's house

The Tots (left); me with my niece, Karen (Kyle in the background)
1993



Monday morning
December 27, 1993

It's over ... the strangest, headiest, most materially abundant (yet least emotionally satisfying) Christmas I can ever remember. Part of me doesn't even want to write anything about it. I just want to sit here in my warm deserted office on this Monday morning after the holidays, nibbling on chocolates and reading Thomas Tryon and forgetting that the past ten days ever took place ... I don't know why. I suppose it's because I wasn't the person I wanted to be this past month, and this wasn't the Christmas I wanted to give my family. The kids and Ray seem satisfied with the way things turned out, and I should be happy with that, I know. So why do I feel so disappointed in myself?

 

Christmas Morning in Polenville
1993

I was right: I'm finding it impossible to write about this stuff right now. Maybe after some of the guilt and disappointment have subsided, I'll be able to put some things into words. For the moment all I'll say is that the kids had a great time, in spite of their Grinch of a mom, and for that I am thankful. Jamie got her mountain bike, Kacie got her jewelry-making stuff, Kyle got his Sega Genesis. I just wish that their mother could have been a little less self-absorbed, a little more excited about things ... or, at least, could have hidden her lack of enthusiasm more cleverly.




Tuesday afternoon
December 28, 1993

Question: How do you forward an OPX 7-digit number on a Redwood?
Answer: Pound nine, then dial nine, then dial the number ... obviously ... !!

(Silly little back-and-forth on the digital pager between Bill & Brad.)

Feeling a hair better today: no more, no less. I'm sleeping OK, I've quit drinking champagne for a few days (last week it was the mainstay of my diet) and I'm trying to be diligent and austere and concentrate on catching up on things like sleep and laundry and reading. People are still asking me, "How was your Christmas?"  My stock reply is "I'm glad it's over." I don't care who knows what a Scrooge I am ...

I had a funny little dream about Kacie last night, which I would like to recount. I dreamed that Kacie and I agreed to undergo this new type of medical procedure, where I would be pregnant with her again and she would be re-born. The idea of getting to do her babyhood and childhood all over again was very appealing! Anyway, the operation went OK and I gave birth to her again, except that instead of being a newborn, as I'd expected, she was about two years old. That was OK, though ... "I've got a little girl again!" I kept saying to everyone. Kacie was unhappy to realize that she was now many years younger than her friends and classmates ("I'm younger than DANIELLE!" she was crying) and she wanted to have the process reversed, but it was too late by then.




Wednesday
December 29, 1993

I had the worst toothache of my life last night ... it kept me awake for hours. I've finished off all the ccc's I bought from Dad (and I'm too embarrassed to ask him for more) so I had to resort to Nuprin to kill the pain. It took forever for them to kick in, but then I would get another hour or two of sleep before the next blast of pain woke me up. I know I've got to see a dentist soon, but the logistics and expense seem confounding.

My work "uniform" this week: my favorite Koret City Blues jeans, long soft sweaters (today the pink one my sister gave me for Christmas) and my most comfortable beat-up shoes. My hair is much too long, but at least it's clean and the set turned out OK and it looks fine. Seriously contemplating another diet. I think it might be fun to lose weight and see how the men I work with react to it. Might be very very good for the ol' ego ... whaddya think?




Monday afternoon, dark and rainy
January 3, 1994

Happy New Year, Journal.

I just finished reading an incredible book ("The Mommy Club" by Sarah Bird, with a surprisingly poignant ending: I'm still trying to swallow the lump in my throat), and now I need to snap myself out of my sentimental fog and get back to reality. First day back at work after the New Year's weekend, and first day back to school for the kids after two weeks of Winter Vacation. Talk about glum faces this morning.

We still haven't taken down the Christmas tree (or the Christmas cards, or the outdoor lights) ... this weird inertia I felt all through the holiday season continues. I just don't seem to give a shit, at least as far as the house goes. I miss Velma coming in and doing my floors twice a week, and I wish there were SOME way to keep the laundry from piling up, but otherwise I seem to have slipped into neutral where housework is concerned. Very un-Terri-like.

Our New Year's Eve was no big deal. For the first year in a long time John and Lori didn't come over, so Ray and the kids and I wound up staying home by ourselves. Kacie made these wonderful little confetti "poppers"  --  she spent hours and hours cutting out the confetti and stuffing it into empty toilet paper tolls, then covering them with more paper and tape  --  and at midnight we stood on our front porch in the freezing rain and opened them up. And that was pretty much it. My New Year's resolutions are "unformed" at this point. Maybe I'll have a preliminary list together by, say, March or April.

Oh hey. They fired Droopy this morning! I was shocked. I also feel terrible about all the nasty things I've written (and said) about him in the past couple months or so. (When I called home a while ago and told Kacie what had happened, she burst into TEARS! She has always hated it when I called him "Droopy." She doesn't like me saying mean or prejudicial things about anyone, not even jokingly.) I never was able to actually warm up to the guy, but he has a wife and three kids, and the holidays just ended, and this is a crappy way to start the new year.




Wednesday morning
January 5, 1994

Horrors. Went into the bathroom here at work awhile ago and discovered (to my dismay) that my fucking period has started. And me up the creek without a paddle ... if you know what I mean. Lunchtime is a million hours away but you'd better believe my first stop on the way to cash my paycheck will be any place that sells pads and Midol ...

Last night was another ghastly toothache night, too, so I'm quite the exhausted puddle of worthlessness this morning. Ron (Colson) has promised to bring me some Percodan tomorrow, and I pray to God that he remembers ... I don't know if I can do another night of huddling on the couch in tears, waiting for the next tidal wave of agony to hit ...

The kids and Ray took the tree down last night, before I got home: Ray was just hauling it outside as I drove in. I was relieved and happy to see the Christmas mess finally being taken care of, and I was in a decent mood ... until I'd been around Ray for two minutes. He was in one of his pompous, God-I-do-everything-around-here moods last night, simply because he'd handled the tree mess and made some Manwich for dinner ... he was at his charm-free worst, and by the end of the evening I was ready to slug him. (Of course now I realize that I was premenstrual all over the place. Could be that he was perfectly normal and it was me who was outta whack.)

Payday, and finally a good surprise when I opened my paycheck ... I got paid for the holidays. I was expecting this to be a mini-paycheck, maybe around $400, but instead it's my usual $700. Yay. One thing is going right today. Now if I could only get to a store and get my little "problem" taken care of, things would be hunky dory.

2 p.m.

Whew. Everything's taken care of and I feel immensely better. While I was at Payless I bought some stuff for my toothache ... this special waxy "gum" that you put into the cavity or onto the jagged edge of a broken tooth, and some Liquid Orajel that's supposed to be better than what I've been using. Cross your fingers and hope it helps.

Mark (aka Droopy) just came in and picked up his final paycheck. I wished him "good luck" ... Kacie would be so proud of me ...




Thursday morning
January 6, 1994

Back to feeling like crud again. Ray's mad at me for getting "carried away" last night (meaning I got drunk and ridiculous), Ray Colson only brought me ONE measly little painkiller for my teeth, I screwed up a phone message this morning and Bill is annoyed with me ... shit. Shit shit shit shit. I wish I could go home and crawl into bed with a pile of magazines and a big sandwich and tune out the whole world.

On second thought  --  no I don't. Home is exactly where I don't wish to be right now. Saying that my house is a "mess" is such an understatement it's almost laughable: my house would probably qualify for federal disaster relief. (The bed I would like to "crawl into" is unmade, and I haven't washed the bedding since November ... there are huge damp piles of dirty laundry in every room ... the living room hasn't seen a decent vacuuming and/or dusting in weeks ... and every available surface is covered with library books, dirty glasses, crumpled candy wrappers, two-day-old newspapers, broken toys, paper plates, crayons, mismatched socks, half-eaten sandwiches, cat hair ...)

So going home is out. Guess I'm gonna have to stick it out right here at good ol' BNC Telephone.

Evening:

Continuing this at home.  Some of the crap is leveling off, finally. The big mistake I made at work (I accidentally forgot to give Bill a message off the Answering Service, from Otto at Telephone Services in Portland: wouldn't you know it, the one message that I forget to deliver, and it was the one Bill had been waiting for) was smoothed over. Ray went out and bought groceries after work, so there's food in the house again. I zapped some pot pies for the girls and a hot dog for Kyle, and now I have some BBQ chicken breasts baking in the oven for Ray and I. I'm on my second load of laundry, most of the Christmas boxes have been lugged up to the attic (finally), and I'm beginning to think there may be hope for this house, after all ...

... Ray is in a slightly better mood than he's been in all week, and that helps. I took the "measly pain pill" that Ron Colson gave me, and now I'm sitting here sipping one glass of white wine and relaxing. Tomorrow is Friday, and that automatically makes the world look a little better. If I can just finish the laundry and get through the rest of the evening in one piece, tomorrow will be a piece of cake.

For a little while today I actually thought I might be in danger of losing my job. I realize now that I was worrying for no reason, but ever since they let Mark go, I've been more aware of how easily it could happen.




Monday morning
January 10, 1994

Ugggghhhh ... Monday morning. My favorite.

I am wiped out this morning. Gillie is in her first heat, and she spent the entire night skulking about from window to window, yowling at the boy cats outside. (Now I know why they call it "caterwauling.") I layed on the sofa and miserably watched the numbers on the clock radio change from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. ...  I finally fell asleep sometime around 4 a.m., which means I got an entire hour and a half of sleep before it was time to get up for work. (I vented my displeasure by giving Gillie one good swift kick in the laundry room this morning. Not enough to hurt her, of course: just enough to let her know what I thought of her all-night serenade.) Then I dove headfirst into a pot of nasty black coffee, which at least got me coiffed, made-up (sort of), dressed and out the door.

(During my ninety minutes' worth of quality sleep, incidentally, I had another Ridgway Packaging dream. When, when, WHEN is this ridiculous dream going to go away and leave me alone? The "plot" is always the same; I'm AWOL from work, I come back to the office and find Patti Owen answering the phones, I beg Howard Evans not to fire me ... but he always does.)

Ray, damn his hide, chose this particular morning to stay home "sick" ... he even managed to talk me into calling in for him. When I left at 7:15 for the office, he and Kyle were snuggled deeply into the big bed together. I haven't heard a word from Ray all morning so I imagine he's probably still sound asleep, not a care in the world. I hate him.

Now it's only noon and I've already eaten my lunch (leftover chicken fried steak from last night) and I've already read both the magazines I bought on the way to the office; I've practiced typing on Mavis, I've listened to the Morning Medley and the Lunchtime Theme Park (today's theme: ghosts), I've paged several critically important messages ("Bill call Brad on his cell phone. 555-5439." "Brad call Bill on his cell phone. 555-6809"). I've had a pot of coffee, a cup of tea and a Pepsi, I've smudged a little extra eyeliner under my eyes, and I've called my phone horoscope. Only five more long, excruciatingly dull hours to kill before I can go home, stick some earplugs in my ears (either that or gag Gillie) and sleep, sleep, SLEEP.

An anecdote about each of my children, from the weekend just passed:

KYLE ... spent most of the weekend curled up next to me on the sofa, watching TV. Although he would never admit it, he is still (deep down inside) Mama's boy. I thoroughly enjoyed his warmth, his littleness, his closeness, his attention. I combed his silky golden hair with a black comb; I tickled him in the ribs; he pulled off my "pinchy" watch and rubbed my arm. Oooh, I used to LOVE it when he did that.  We wrapped ourselves up in my big quilt and shared the sofa pillows. Our favorite thing on TV: a movie on HBO, "Toys" (starring Robin Williams), which we both agreed was wonderful. Every once in awhile he would jump off the sofa and ricochet around the living room, shooting his Nerf gun or karate-kicking the furniture ... as though his little boy battery needed a quick recharge ... but then he would be back under the quilt, nestled into the space beneath my arm (and next to my heart) ...

KACIE ...  worked earnestly on her toothpick bridge all weekend  --  her entry for an upcoming science contest  --   despite being banished (first) from the coffee table and then from the kitchen table. (Eventually she set up her project in the bedroom. Jamie came home from her overnight and immediately went into shock. "Mom, she's got toothpicks EVERYWHERE!") This reminds me of the Science Fair a couple of years ago, when Kacie made the model of the solar system: she's giving this latest project the same kind of completely focused attention.

JAMIE ... and Nicole are friends again, apparently.  I took them to the mall on Saturday, and then Jamie spent the night at the Schwartzmann's that night. I gave Jamie $50 to buy a dress for her upcoming DARE graduation. ("Nothing strapless!" I said as I dropped her off at Southcenter.  I was only partially kidding ... Jamie has better taste in clothing than I do, and I trust her judgment implicitly, but, well ... you never know at that age.) What she came home with was yet another white blouse ("I like white blouses, Mom!" she said defensively) and a green silk skirt. I'll admit it: I was a hair disappointed. I had this vision of my Puss in a dress, something sweet and frilly and flowery. And I think she was disappointed by my disappointment. But then we got home and she actually tried the outfit on for me, and I had to admit that it looked right on her and it was practical (she can wear the white blouse with anything) and she'd done a good job picking it out. Live and learn.




Monday morning
January 24, 1994

Another completely unproductive weekend has come and gone, and here I am back in the office on a cold Monday morning, drinking bitter black coffee and wondering how in the world I'm going to pass the next seven and a half hours ... or, for that matter, the next five days. My life is a constant round of trying to get through the week, anticipating the weekend, wasting the weekend, coming back to the office on Monday and bemoaning my "unproductive" weekend, trying to get through the week again  ... ad nauseum ... it's really kinda sad ...)

I was goofing around in Windows a little while ago on the office computer.  Brad and Jeff installed it on my computer last week, and I'm ashamed to tell you what a big baby I was about the whole thing. ("You can install the mouse but I probably won't use it," I said to Jeff.)  You must understand that I had the mistaken idea that you can't have Windows and DOS on the same computer, and I thought I was going to be losing my Print Shop Deluxe and all my stuff on WordPerfect, and I was mad. Anyway, I'm exploring Windows a little today and I discovered this word processing program that I didn't even know existed.  I also found a Paintbrush program that looks like fun, and a Card File that might be nice for customer accounts.  I'm MUCH more enthused about it now, especially since Windows doesn't interfere with the things I've already got on the computer. I plan to spend this week nosing around and experimenting and figuring things out. I taught myself WordPerfect, after all ... how hard can Windows be? (She said naively ...)

Anyway. It's actually something of a relief to get out of the house and away from my family for a few hours. We were together practically every minute this weekend, and all that togetherness wears thin after a couple of days. I drove the girls to Southcenter on Saturday and let them wander around for a few hours. Jamie bought herself a pair of jeans, Kacie went to Fabricland (I think) and bought sewing materials. Kyle spent his whole weekend in front of the Sega, of course. Ray barbecued ribs on the Webber, drank a lot of beer and watched sports (bowling and football) on TV.

And me? My big accomplishments this weekend included doing seven loads of laundry and taping some CD's from the library. Wowee wow wow.




Wednesday morning
January 26, 1994

Uh-oh. I seem to be in a serious slump. Nothing is going the way it should be, and I feel helpless, hopeless and tired. A case of the January blahs? A touch of PMS, maybe? At least that would mean the condition is temporary. I don't know. A little voice inside my head is saying that things are fucked up because I've fucked them up, and that they're going to stay that way because I can't manage my own life. I can try and blame the season or my hormones or Clinton's proposed health care plan, for that matter, but the truth is that the only person to blame here is me ...

You know what I keep thinking about this morning? My bed. Not because I long to go home and crawl into it  --  although the idea is tempting  --  but because of the way it looked when I left for work this morning.  The sheets (fifteen years old now) were pulled all the way off, exposing the bare lumpy dirty mattress (which doesn't even fit the bed frame)  ...  the pillow cases were grimy and had bloodstains on them again (Ray's nose bleeds at night)  ...  the blankets were all knotted up and hanging off the sides of the bed  ...  and right in the middle of this mess was KYLE, sound asleep. That unmade bed is a metaphor for my whole life right now: messy, uncared-for, dirty ... the top doesn't fit the bottom ... the sheets and blankets are old and worn out ... and the wrong people are sleeping in it.

Yes, a lot of my depression  -- as usual  --  is because of the way the house looks. But it goes deeper than sticky floors and unmade beds. I'm depressed because things are falling apart, because I'm not paying attention, because I've lost all interest in "fixing" things. Am I making any sense at all? I doubt it. I don't just mean the house, I mean everything ... my relationships with my kids, my friendships, my appearance, my wardrobe, my health, my job, everything. The house is just a reflection of what's going on internally, I'm afraid.

Would cleaning my house help "fix" things? Or would that just be putting a Band-Aid on the problem? Part of me still believes that an orderly house is the cure for what ails you. It would at least be a step in the right direction, though, wouldn't it?

Some people dream about basking in the sun on a Hawaiian beach, or shooshing down the slopes of a ski resort. Here's my dream: one entire day at home alone. No Ray. No kids. Just me and a decent vacuum cleaner, a case of Hefty garbage bags and a pot of black coffee. I'd get that hell-hole looking like something out of Good Housekeeping in no time. (Either that or I'd clean a room and a half, then stop for a glass of cold wine and a phone chat with Lori  ...   the next thing I knew I'd be waking up with a raging hangover and the house looking even worse than it did before.)

The washing machine has finally died on us, by the way. Two nights ago Jamie tried to wash the bathroom rugs and the washer refused to drain. So now I can't even do laundry, the one domestic chore I was staying more or less on top of. Figures.

I don't know, Journal. Talking about cleaning the house and actually doing it are two different things. It all sounds so good on paper. ("First I'll clean my bedroom, then Kyle's room, then the hall closet.") But the reality is that I come home from work, listen to the kids argue and gripe for a while, read the paper, fix dinner, lay down on the couch to watch TV, and fall asleep by 9:30. Precisely where do floor-waxing and furniture polishing fit into the schedule ... ?

As for the kids. I am turning into a Crummy Mom as well as a Crummy Housekeeper, and there doesn't seem to be a danged thing I can do about it. Last night I literally hadn't even taken my coat off before Jamie and Kyle were at each other. I think they were fighting because Kyle was playing Sega instead of doing his chores, and right before I walked in they were slugging it out. Kyle was crying, Jamie was hysterical, and when I tiredly refused to take sides, Jamie screeched "Well, of course you don't care!!" and stomped off to her room.  A while later I went into her room and told her that I wanted an apology, but when she refused to even roll over and face me, I whacked her on the butt. So much for enlightened parenting. I told her and Kyle that I do not ever again, under any circumstances, want to walk into the house after a long day at work and hear that kind of crap going on. What I didn't tell them is that it's hard enough making myself come home from work at all, with the place such a disheartening mess: they don't need to make it any tougher than it already is.




Thursday afternoon, 4:30
January 27, 1994

More new stuff to play with on the computer ... this morning Jeff installed Word 6.0, and I am completely blown away. I've been working on it all afternoon. I discovered a CLIP ART feature, built right into the program!!  I was seriously addicted to clip art at the time. And just now I thought "Fonts! I haven't checked the FONT selection yet!"  Guess what ... there are TONS of them. This one is called "Monotype Corsiva."  I think I am becoming a computer junkie. I just can't seem to get enough of this stuff ... !!

Still feeling kinda punky today. I bought all kinds of cold medicines last night after I dropped Jamie off at her dance lesson, but nothing is helping much. Guess I just have to ride it out. The laundry is out of control, so tonight I've got to haul it all over to the laundromat. Ray is looking through the classifieds, looking for a decent (cheap) used washing machine.

Can't wait to see what this looks like printed!  Bye!


  

Jamie at her DARE graduation
(with best friend Nicole, left, and with Grandma Beeson, right)
February 2, 1994





Thursday morning, 8:25 a.m.
February 3, 1994

Snuck into the office fifteen minutes late this morning ... I left a message with the Answering Service, saying I had to "stop and get gas" ... but as it turns out no one is here and no one checked for messages. So it's cool. Now I wish I could just sit back and have a nice peaceful day, working on my autobiography and answering the phone, but unfortunately, this is going to be one of those awful days when I'm worried all day about something stupid. I can't tell you the whole story, but the bottom line is that Ray is going to KILL me when he gets home from work tonight  ...  and I have nine hours to fret about it. Great. Lately he's been such a grumpy asshole that I guess I should know better than to do anything to push his buttons.

Yesterday was Jamie's DARE graduation at Bow Lake. I left the office at noon and cashed my paycheck, then dashed into Payless and bought Jamie a "graduation present" ... a little Gitano watch. Then I made another mad dash to the ceremony. Jamie was one of the winners of the D.A.R.E. writing contest, so she read her essay to the audience,  the highlight of the ceremony for me (and for my mom, who also showed up). Jamie was so poised and looked so grownup, there on the stage ... how does this happen? How do they go from diapers to DARE in the blink of an eye this way ... ?

We still have no washing machine, and it's really starting to bother me. The girls and I went to the laundromat again, night before last, and did three loads. (We accidentally left one load behind: Ray went back and got it yesterday.) Even so, there is still a mountain of dirty clothes and towels three feet high on the laundry room floor, and it's growing bigger by the minute. To top things off, our iron decided to stop working this week, so I basically have nothing to wear to work. When it rains, it pours.

Ray was really on a roll last night: he lost his car keys and we spent almost two hours tearing the house apart, looking for them. Jamie and I even drove over to Tom's and to Trailer Town, to see if he might have left them at either store, but no such luck. Finally I found them stuck in the crack of the driver's seat in MY car. (He used it to drive Jamie to dance class.)

Nothing much else to tell. Guess I'll find something work-related to do, and hopefully it'll keep me preoccupied for a while.




Monday morning
February 7, 1994

God. Just the other day I was contemplating spring ... thinking it was just around the corner ... and now all of a sudden we're in the middle of an "arctic storm." No snow, really, but it's FREEZING COLD, and there's a really evil wind starting to pick up. I borrowed Ray's car this morning (he's home, again, and so is Kyle) because I was afraid the roads would be icy and his brakes are better than mine. The roads were fine, but like an idiot I left my own set of keys on the kitchen table ... including the keys to theoffice! ... and I had to drive all the way home to get them. That got my Monday morning off to a peachy start, as you can probably imagine.

Actually, I'm in a far better mood than I have any right to be in, considering the fact that it's Monday and it's not even a payday week. I got a lot done this weekend, and I feel good about that. On Saturday morning Kacie, Kyle and I went shopping in Federal Way: I bought socks for the two of them, socks and underwear for Ray, and a new pair of $40 shoes for Kyle. On Sunday the girls and I hauled seven loads of clothes over to the laundromat (Jamie commented that we're becoming "regulars"), and I spent all day yesterday drying clothes and ironing. I even found the time to make two meatloaves ... one for tonight's supper, one for the freezer. We rented some movies on Saturday  --  I watched "Sleepless in Seattle" and "Born Yesterday," neither of which was as good as I'd hoped. And I input three chapters of the autobio into the home p.c.  Not a bad weekend!

Kyle didn't really want to stay home today ... not at first, anyhow. He was hoping to get a Perfect Attendance Award for second grade, but he's got a terrible cold and he woke up exhausted this morning.  I finally managed to talk him into snuggling back under the covers and staying home. "You have ten more years to try for Perfect Attendance!" I told him, and that seemed to cheer him up. Ray is staying home for about the zillionth Monday in a row. Frankly, I'm starting to get worried about all the time off he's been taking lately. I mean, how many times a month can a person come down with "the flu" before the boss starts getting suspicious ...?? Oh well. At least he's home with Kyle today, and I'm grateful for that.

I'm going to spend this chilly day here in the office, bundled up in two pink sweaters (a turtleneck and a pullover), sipping hot drinks, listening to KMTT and working on the autobio (which is coming along quite nicely, incidentally. I'm anxious to finish it). Not a bad way to spend a day, would you say? AND I'm getting paid for it. Amazing.

See ya.




February 14, 1994
Valentine's Day, Monday

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. (How's that for a lovely Valentine's Day sentiment??) Every time I start feeling smug and self-assured about my value here at the office, I do something royally stupid ...

I took my lunch out of the office today, with Bill's permission. I wanted to withdraw some money from the bank, for stamps and Valentine candy for the kids. While I was driving back to the office I suddenly realized, like a punch to the stomach, that I'd forgotten to switch the phones over to the Answering Service when I left. In other words, I'd broken the Cardinal Rule of BNC Telephone, Inc... . "Thou shalt not leave the phones unattended!!"  I drove back to the office at about a zillion miles an hour. Just as I walked in the door, the phone rang. Guess who?" 

"Terri," was all Bill said, ominously. 

I said I knew, I screwed up, I'm sorry. There was this horrible dead pause on the other end of the phone. For a second, I expected him to say "You're fired" ... or, at least, "One more screw-up and you're out of here." Instead all he said, in that careful, somber tone, was "Don't let it happen again." That was all, but it was enough. I'm furious with myself, I'm resentful of Bill's position of authority over me (he'd been a year behind me in high school, after all) and I'm nervous now about the tenuousness of my position here. How could I have done something so hare-brained?? I never forget to switch the phones over. I've left the copier on a couple of times, and once I accidentally forgot to put the padlock on the warehouse door, but I always remember to switch the phones over. Except for today.

Oh well. No use crying over unanswered phones.

Ray showed up and surprised the heck outta me this morning. I was alone in the office, looking through the glass window to Bill's office, when I saw the reflection of somebody behind me, peering through the front door. At first I thought it was Brad, but then I turned around and saw it was my goofy husband. Things are still slow at Sea Pac so he has the rest of the day off. He came in and visited for a few minutes, snooping aimlessly around the fax machine and the warehouse, before I finally got him to leave. (He says he's going to go look at washing machines, but then again that's what he said last week. I'm sort of losing hope.)

So anyway, today is Valentine's Day. Payday is still a couple of days away, so the kids and I have agreed to exchange mostly hand-made cards and gifts. After I get paid I'll take them out and buy them each something special. I made all three of the kids a Valentine on the office computer this morning  --  funny little cards that say "You're My Favorite Kid!" on the front, and then some special "Mom Coupons" stapled to the inside (for things like a free ride to the mall, a new magazine, etc.). Every year I make the kids' Valentines by hand, but this is the first year I've used a computer to make them. I thought it was appropriate, considering the impact computers have had on our lives this last year.

I was sick all weekend. I've had this cold for ages, it seems, but over the weekend it turned into full-blown flu. Basically I layed on the couch all weekend and let Kacie fuss over me. (Every hour or so I would say, "Time to fuss!" and she would rush over and feel my forehead and cover me with blankets.) I'm about 90% better today, although I credit Contac Severe Cold & Flu Formula for my recovery ... the best cold medicine I've ever used. It's literally all that's keeping me moving today.

Oh well. Time to get back to work on the autobio. I'm up to the Summer of '78, although there are still some gaping holes in my childhood I'll eventually need to go back and fill. Tonight we're going to celebrate Valentine's Day -- just a little, it's a work tonight -- and have BLT's for supper. Woopty doo!




Tuesday afternoon
February 15, 1994

My day did not improve much yesterday. After the answering service debacle (which Bill is still irritated about: he's been unnervingly formal with me all day today), things just kept unraveling on me. I left the office at 5:00 determined to have a happy Valentines Day with the tikes in spite of everything. I got almost all the way home  --   I stopped at Trailer Town to buy two wine coolers  --  when I realized I'd left my purse at the office!! With all my money in it, of course. I had to turn around and drive all the way back to the office, unlock the doors, get my purse out of my desk drawer, re-lock everything, and drive all the way home again. I also used up most of my gas making two trips, so I had to stop and fill up. By the time I got home at 6:15 I was extremely cranky. Fortunately, the kids liked the cards & coupons I made for them (and the candy I picked up at Payless), everybody was happy with BLT's for a quick dinner, and I was able to salvage some of the evening.

Unfortunately, then I got a miserable night's sleep. It was close to 2 a.m. before I finally fell asleep, and I had horrible dreams about my teeth falling out. (One of my two delightful new recurring dreams: the other one is about backed-up toilets.) The next thing I knew it was 5:40 a.m. and Ray was poking me in the side because my alarm was blaring, out in the living room. (I had my earplugs in so I couldn't hear it, plus last night was one of those rare nights when I actually slept with my husband  --  it being Valentine's Day and all.)

Now it's starting all over again today ... the weird unexplained slip-ups at work, I mean. Somehow I got the time of Bill's A.E.I. meeting wrong on my calendar (it was scheduled for 1;00, not 2:00), and Randy has completely missed a 1:30 meeting at Unico. Both companies are saying they told me the "correct" meeting times, but all I know is that I have "2:00" on the calendar for A.E.I. and nothing at all for Unico. Now I'm just sitting here waiting for the ax to fall. What is happening to me all of a sudden?? Little things keep slipping past me. What ever happened to the "attention to detail" I bragged about in my résumé? Is this a case of mid-life Alzheimer's? Or maybe S.A.D.D. (the light-deprivation thing people get in the winter)?? 

Or am I just plain going nuts ... ??

My sister called last night, incidentally, to inform me that she and Dr. Tim are now officially engaged. He gave her a diamond engagement ring for Valentines Day and they're planning a November wedding. I talked to Mom shortly after I talked to Deb, and of course Mom is beside herself with joy. Planning the wedding will likely be the major activity for this year. I'm sick with envy, of course ... once again my little sister gets her heart's desire ... but I'm even more concerned with losing some weight between now and November so I don't look like a blimp at the wedding. (Trust Terri P. to focus on the truly relevant issues involved here!)

Oh well. Better get back to work. God knows what critical phone message I'm neglecting to page while I'm lollygagging here on the computer ...




Wednesday morning
February 16, 1994

OK, now I'm getting scared. I got to the office about fifteen minutes ago and discovered that the front door was unlocked. The security gate was closed and locked, so no one could have gotten in, but if Bill had shown up here before me this morning and found the door unlocked, that would have been "it" for me. Journal, I am POSITIVE that I locked that door last night. I consciously went around the office and the warehouse last night before I left, checking and re-checking everything to make sure things were shut off and secure. What is happening to me?




Thursday afternoon
February 17, 1994

I still have no explanation for the unlocked door. I'm just so thankful that I got here before anyone else did ... I shudder to think what would have happened otherwise.

Rainy, rainy, rainy. There's a puddle in front of the office door as big as Lake Washington. It's kind of pleasant, sitting here in a cozy warm office listening to music and watching the rain, except that it starts to make me sleepy after a while. I've been working on a shnuffly cold for almost three weeks now and the cold medicine makes me sleepy, too. Between the rain and the Contac, I'm about ready to lay my head down on my desk and snooze the rest of the afternoon away ...

The girls are jump-roping today with the Highline Hoppers, at three or four different schools around the district. Jamie is a part of the regular exhibition team that goes around to the other schools, but Kacie just got picked as an alternate yesterday. ("You'll never guess who they picked," Jamie said glumly on the phone yesterday. Apparently having her little sister around is not completely cool.)

Ray's driving me crazy again. He had promised to go out and buy dinner last night, but he pooped around & pooped around until nearly 7:00. Meanwhile the kids were starving. Finally I said "Jamie and I will go and get some McDonald's," which of course he wouldn't eat. (Lately he's decided that McDonald's upsets his stomach.) So I wound up going to Wendy's to get his hamburgers, and then to McDonald's to get dinner for everybody else. Did he appreciate the extra effort? "I wanted some onion rings," he said when we got home. Then I went to some trouble to hand-wash and dry his new T-shirt last night, just so he could wear it to work today. When he was walking out the door this morning, dressed in something else, I looked at him questioningly. "That T-shirt is just covered with lint," he said. Jesus H. Christ. Is there no pleasing this asshole??

I don't know. I'm feeling very unappreciated today. Bill called the office a couple of hours ago. Apparently he didn't hear me answer the phone because I could hear him carrying on a conversation with the secretaries at Siemens. "God, you're so quick!" he was saying to one of them. "If I ever need a secretary, you're hired!" Needless to say that made me feel really wonderful. When I talked to him later I jokingly said something about him "trying to give my job to someone else." 

"Oh God, NO, that was just a joke," he quickly backtracked, but I'm still a little miffed.




Tuesday afternoon
February 22, 1994

This rainy, gloppy day has seemed more like a Monday than a Tuesday, particularly coming off a three-day holiday weekend (yesterday was President's Day). Amazingly, I wasn't all that perturbed about coming back to work this morning. The first days of my "mini-vacation" were fine, but by yesterday afternoon I was fighting the impulse to strangle Ray and the kids. I got a lot done, including cleaning my room AND Kyle's room, washing seven loads of laundry at the laundromat, cooking a big chicken dinner Sunday and an even bigger steak dinner last night, and taking the kids for their weekly run to Southcenter Mall. I entertained visitors  --  Andrea stopped with Danielle and Cody Bear, and my Mom & Deb came by to show off The Engagement Ring. I even managed to get plenty of extra sleep!  So I can look back on my weekend without (much) regret, and turn my attention to getting through the next few penniless days till payday (eight long days away) ...

Very worried about my car. The brakes are grinding like crazy, and I don't know how to get them fixed. How would I get to and from work if my car is in the shop? And how much would it cost me to fix them? Two very good questions, I'm afraid. Fuck.

Jamie went on a field trip to Olympia today. She didn't get up close and personal with our ugly governor -- darn! -- but she said she liked the Capitol building and the greenhouse. Kyle's supposed to be going on a field trip to Northwest Trek sometime this spring, and if there's any way to finagle Bill into giving me that day off, I'd love to be a chaperone.

Lovely lovely February. How I love this wonderful happy month. It's my favorite month in the whole year. NOT. I don't know why it is, but February always seems to last three times longer than any other month and it's a hundred times more depressing.




Wednesday, mid-morning
March 23, 1994

God. I can't believe it's been over a month since I've written anything. Sorry about that.

I'm having a bad morning, I'm afraid. It didn't start out that way: I got a good night's sleep and woke up a little less congested than usual, the drive to work was pleasant, I was looking forward to a quiet and routine day at the office ... but the minute I walked through the door BOOM!  Everything started falling apart on me. I've only been here for a couple of hours and already I've caught myself on the verge of tears three times: Kelli in Spokane was rude and condescending on the phone, James was irritated with me because I forgot to look up an address for him, Bill's dad walked in with a bunch of bids that needed to be typed right now, the fire department called and said we're being fined because we didn't get the fire extinguisher taken care of, Bill only gave me $19 in petty cash ...

Oh well. Might as well catch you up on the doings in Polenville ...

Monday was Kacie's eleventh birthday. Since she's had a party every year for the past three or four years running, this year we deliberately kept it low-key. On Sunday I drove her, Jamie and Tracy down to Southcenter and let them cruise the mall for a few hours. Kacie had forty bucks and she spent most of it on food (crackers & cheese, candy, lunch, drinks), books, sewing/craft supplies and two "Beavis & Butthead" posters. During my lunch hour on Monday I ran over to Burien and bought her birthday gifts ... a nice dual-cassette boom box, a "Beavis & Butthead" tape, two T-shirts and two pairs of shorts. (Believe it or not, it actually snowed that day: I couldn't get over the incongruity of driving in the snow to buy my daughter shorts & T-shirts!) I also went to KFC and bought the Rotisserie Gold chicken she'd specifically requested for her b.day dinner. She had a gymnastics class that night, but since the Academy Awards were on, Ray drove her to class for me. When she got home around 9:10, we let her open her gifts and we all had cake and ice cream.

Kacie celebrates her eleventh birthday
March 21, 1994



We have kittens in Polenville now ... sigh. On March 14th Gillie had three kittens, two white and one tiger gray (a miniature version of Gillie). At first they were in Kyle's closet -- the least-used room in the house -- but the kids came home from school one day and found Gillie & babies on Kacie's bunk!  Somehow Gillie had managed to drag them all up there. It's a miracle she didn't drop them and kill them. Anyway, after that we decided to go ahead and let them "nest" in the girls' closet, since that's where Gillie seemed to want to be. The kittens just opened their eyes yesterday, and even hard-hearted Ray admits that they're cute. I'm just a little worried about the kids getting too attached to them: it will be hard when they go to new homes eventually.


Kacie with the kitten we will soon be calling "Gabby"
March 1994

I'm now in the eleventh week of my cold/hay fever/sinus infection/whatever the hell it is ... I wake up every single night with my sinuses completely stopped up, and then I wake up that way again when the alarm goes off. In the evening I feel drippy and exhausted and my eyes sting. I'm trying to wean myself from my nasal spray (it's been such a constant companion that I've actually named my little bottle of Sinex "Alan") but it's tough: sometimes it's the only thing between me and oxygen starvation. At 2 a.m. when I wake up and it feels like something is sitting on my FACE, nothing but a squirt or two (or seven) of Sinex does the trick.

Crap. I just got off the phone with Ron Colson. He knew I'd been having a rotten morning and he asked what was wrong. I hesitantly mentioned Kelli's name and he said, "Oh, man ... she's a bitch." Then he started telling me about problems he'd had with her when he worked in the Spokane office with her, and it was starting to make me feel better, you know? Like I wasn't the only person in the company who has been on the receiving end of her snotty attitude. But then he had to go and spoil the whole thing. "Yah," he said, "she's gorgeous and she knows it." For some reason that was not something I wanted to hear. Why couldn't he have said that she weighs 300 lbs. and wears sweatpants to work?? Somehow, that would have been more comforting, especially since I know that "gorgeous" is an adjective that will never be used to describe me, ever again ...

I haven't even started planning the big diet I was going to go on (for my sister's wedding). If anything, my eating habits are worse than ever. Three or four mornings a week I stop at Red Apple on my way to work and buy a Swanson's breakfast sandwich: sausage, egg and cheese on a biscuit. It's less than two dollars and it tastes great, especially when I'm ravenously hungry (read this: hungover).  But of course it's loaded with fat, cholesterol, salt, blah blah blah. Lunch is whatever I bring into the office, usually leftovers from dinner the night before ... today I have a leftover fajita pocket and some Rice-a-Roni that Jamie made. In the afternoon, sitting here at my desk, I snack on Mountain bars, pastry, M&M's. And of course I'm drinking coffee and pop all day long, on top of everything else. When I get home from work I'm famished and I snack until dinner, which is fast food or "convenience" food (frozen pizza, TV dinners, pot pies) more often than not.

Crap again. Bill's wife just called and gave me one of those nicey-nice speeches of hers. (I am older than you are, dammit, and every bit as intelligent: quit talking to me like I'm some dim little tootsie.) Do I know where the P.O. book is? (No: I've never even seen a P.O. book around here.) Can I start issuing P.O. numbers when the guys buy equipment? (Apparently it's too much of an imposition for precious Kelli.) Why hasn't Carleen been receiving the guys' time sheets? (Because no one ever said a word about timesheets to me.) Carleen will be coming to Seattle next week for a training session with Maureen and I. (Oh goody. Can we have cookies and Hi-C afterwards?)  I should be happy that I'm finally getting some new job responsibilities ... I'm way way WAY overdue for a payraise, and having more to do will pave the way for me asking. But in my present frame of mind, everything feels like just so much irritating bullshit.




Thursday noon
April 7, 1994

I've decided to start using the home p.c. for journal-writing again ... will try to at least peck out a few lines every other day or so.

I'm home today. I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning with the most excruciating toothache of my life, and I wound up calling the Answering Service, asking them to tell Bill I wouldn't be in. It's the second time this week that I've called in sick and I'm sort of worried about that, but I didn't really have a choice. Ray is taking me to the dentist in an hour. I haven't been to a dentist since I was fifteen years old and I'm scared shitless. More later.

4 p.m.

Well ... I survived the ordeal. Dr. Singh looked at my broken molar and my x-ray and said I had two choices: extraction or root canal. Some choices. I decided it was probably better to try and save the tooth so I opted for the root canal. He did the preliminary work this afternoon (and yes, it hurt), and then I go back on the 16th to finish it up.

Now comes the really hard part ... calling the office. Between the penicillin and the vicodin I'll probably be able to work tomorrow, although it would be reeeally nice if Bill says I don't have to.

5:40 p.m.

Bill used that nicey-nice tone of voice I've come to know so well ... the same voice he uses when he's talking to annoying vendors and people of little importance on the phone. "Hope you're feeling better!" he chirped. "Let me know if you can't make it in tomorrow." Frankly, at this point I don't know if I'll go in or not: it depends on whether or not I get any sleep tonight. My molar is already starting to ache again in spite of the two and a half pain pills I've taken since I got home. Ray was talking to our next door neighbor Betty a while ago, and when he told her I'd had a root canal she said, "It's probably going to REALLY start to hurt in a few hours." Swell.




Friday afternoon
April 8, 1994

I ended up staying home again today; I didn't sleep much last night, and when I finally woke up (at 1 p.m.!) the whole left side of my face ached, right down to the bone. I got up briefly around 7:30, long enough to call the A.S. and say that I'll be in on Monday for sure, but I haven't spoken to anyone at work all day. Hope I still have a job when I go back on Monday (she says, only partially in jest) ...

Starting to worry about money again, for the first time in over a year. Our savings account has dwindled down to practically nothing: major case of guilt over THAT.

Long, broke, boring weekend ahead. I took a couple of my pain pills a while ago, and they've given me a nice mellow buzz: now I'm sitting in my bedroom, cleaning out my drawers and watching afternoon TV. Frozen pizza and HBO tonight, probably. Not exactly our usual Friday night routine, but I'll probably thank myself tomorrow morning. 




Saturday afternoon
April 16, 1994

A week later. Ray and Kyle are out in Bellevue, mowing the folks' lawn and visiting with Sheryl and her kids ... Jamie, Kacie and I just got home from an exhausting trip to the laundromat. Eight laundry loads and fifteen bucks later (including the food and snacks we picked up at Safeway), I am home. I've kicked off my shoes, put some potatoes in the oven to roast, thrown one load of laundry into the dryer and poured myself a glass of white wine. Whew.

It's one of those hot, hazy days where the air feels as thick as pudding. "Perfect hay fever weather," I commented to the girls as we were driving home. I'm just as stuffed up and itchy as I was three months ago ... when is this blasted allergy season going to end?? I don't remember it ever being as bad as it's been this year. Every single morning I wake up so congested it takes at least an hour before I can breathe.




Sunday afternoon
April 17, 1994

Just cleaned out the fridge ... an unspeakably disgusting job. When I pulled out the vegetable drawers I found enough mold on the bottom of the fridge to open my open penicillin factory. I rarely feel like cleaning on the weekends, so when the urge hits I run with it.

I finished the autobio on Friday, by the way, and I am so pleased. I've been working on it, on and off, for almost five months. It's been worth all the work: the finished product is beautiful. As I commented in my "Forewords" (misspelled for artistic effect) it's not an especially flattering account of my life. I come off sounding stupid, self-involved and irresponsible in a lot of places. But I thought that if I'm going to write the thing, I might as well be honest. I even saved two copies of it on floppies, so if something happens to the print versions I'll have a back-up of the text. Now I'm going to start on the kids' Memory Book. It won't be nearly as much work as the life story ... mostly just typing and printing. I had it 3/4 finished last fall when the office got broken into, so all I've got to do is re-type and put some photos in it.

If anything bothers me about the autobio and the Memory Book, it's knowing that in six months or a year my techniques and the equipment I used will seem obsolete to me. (Photocopying in black and white, for instance.) Will I want to do the whole thing over again? 




Monday just home from work
April 18, 1994

I've had a bordering-on-lousy day. Nothing specific ... another rotten cold/hay fever brewing, PMS, cold sores on the side of my mouth, toothache, headache. Carleen called and announced that I have to go out in the warehouse this week and sort phones for repair. There's something like five million of them out there, thrown into haphazard piles. Just how exactly am I supposed to sort them  --  by color??

Ray and the kids are biting at each other. Dinner looks like a hundred years away, and when it does get here it won't be worth the wait. Maureen came into the office this afternoon and drove me crazy: yackety yak yak yak. She reminds me of my cousin Chellaigne, for some reason.




Thursday
April 21, 1994

This week is dragging by unbelievably slowly ... and what makes it even more painful is that I'm not particularly looking forward to the weekend. We'll be broke and stuck at home: by Sunday night we'll be ready to kill each other.

Yesterday was Ray's 39th birthday. To describe the festivities as "low-key" would be exaggerating: I baked him a cake, we gave him a card, I picked up some cheap Taco Time. The End. Ray has been mildly depressed all week, and I think it has as much to do with turning 39 as anything else.




Tuesday evening
April 26, 1994

Cold, rainy and alone. Jamie and the kids are at her softball game (why haven't they called it off?? It's POURING!) and Ray has gone to do some laundry for me. I'm home from my first dentist appointment with Dr. Stephens, still feeling numb and shaky. He tried to do something with that top molar on the left side, but he had to give up finally ... he said he sees a tooth that sensitive about once a month. He wound up putting some kind of medicine in it to kill the roots, and I'll go back in two weeks so he can try the root canal again. All he gave me were six measly pain pills: I just took three of them, hoping it'll deaden the pain enough to get me through the night. If it still hurts tomorrow I'm going to call and beg for a bigger prescription. No way I can miss work tomorrow, anyway ... it's payday, after ten of the brokest days of my life, and I need that money. Even if most of it is spent already, anyway ...

... Besides, tomorrow is "National Secretaries Day." Before I left for the dentist this afternoon I sent Bill a page: "Closing the office. Don't forget: tomorrow is Nat'l Secretaries Day! See you. Terri." Should be interesting to see if he acknowledges the day in any way. What would REALLY be nice would be a raise, of course, but I'd settle for flowers ... candy ... a vacation ...

Gotta go work on the tacos. Later.




Thursday night
April 28, 1994

Harrowing day, finally winding to a close. Money is all I can think about. I was so happy when I got up this morning and counted what was left from yesterday's paycheck ... somehow I had $150 more than I thought I did. I thought it was a gift from the gods  --  until the bank called me this afternoon. Because of a stupid error on my part when I was filling out my deposit slip yesterday, I ended up not putting the $200 into the checking account I thought I was depositing. The long & short of it is I have about a hundred dollars to last me for two weeks ... including Kyle's birthday next Wednesday and the school carnival next weekend. That, and some money in petty cash at the office. If I stretch I might make it, but I'm still worried. Tonight I am overtaken by this frenzied need to economize. I've been making lists on the computer of ways to cut expenses, everything from hand-washing our clothes to checking out videos from the library (instead of renting them from the video store). The kids are poking fun at me: they think I'm going overboard. But the fact is that I've been stupid and careless this past year, and now we're in a bad way because of it. I'm just furious with myself. I've wasted my inheritance from Grandma and now we've lost our safety net. I MUST FIND SOME WAY TO FIX THIS. 




Saturday 11:30 a.m.
May 7, 1994

Feels like summer today ... sunny and hot, and it isn't even noon yet. Kacie and Kyle were next door at Betty's a while ago, splashing around in the wading pool with Betty's granddaughters: that's how warm it is already. (Betty is having a garage sale today: the kids have been sneaking over there, buying me Mother's Day presents for tomorrow.) Ray is working, Jamie is at Nicole's. I woke up at 8 a.m. when the phone rang  -- my mother, saying it was OK for Ray to borrow the lawnmower  --  and just decided Heck with it, I'll stay up. I can always sleep in tomorrow. I was a "good girl" last night (read that: no wine) and my reward is feeling good today.

So far I've made breakfast for Kyle, Kacie and me, cleaned up the kitchen, finished half the living room and folded the last load of laundry. I still want to clean up my bedroom, which is a pigpen, and then I'll spend the afternoon as I please ... probably working on the kids' Memory Book out here in my office.

Kyle's birthday was on Wednesday ... eight years old. Since we've managed to screw up our finances so thoroughly this month, it was a real scramble affording gifts for him. Ray got him a new game for his Sega, something about Ren & Stimpy; I went on my lunch hour and got him some clothes, a squirt gun and some markers. (Standard Kyle gifts!) We let him open his presents while Kacie was at gymnastics, and then when she got home we had cake and ice cream. He seemed satisfied with everything. Of course I'm just relieved that the birthdays are over with. Seven whole months until the next one rolls around. Yay.

Things are beginning to heat up around here, and I don't just mean the weather. This last week was a flurry of activity, and the next couple of weeks promise to be even more so. Jamie's dance recitals are next Monday and Wednesday, Kacie has a gymnastics mini-meet on Wednesday, Jamie is still in the middle of softball season, and the week after next she goes to Waskowitz with her class. 




Monday 5:00
May 9, 1994

I am home from my lovely root canal.

Now I realize that the last three dentist appointments weren't actual, full, total root canals. They were just warm-ups for today. This was the real thing, folks ... needles and drills and lots & lots of scraping, and  --  the most fun of all  --  the "hot glue gun" to solder the works. God. The entire right side of my mouth is throbbing. Naturally I was given a mini-prescription for six pain pills, three of which I have already taken. (This dentist is so fucking stingy with prescriptions: I hate it.)  Now I have two weeks to contemplate my next appointment.

7:40 p.m.

I typed four or five more paragraphs to this journal entry but forgot to save them ... just got home from dropping the girls off, retrieved this document and realized I'd screwed up. Now I have to try and remember what I wrote about.

Tonight is Jamie's dance recital, for one thing: she has another one on Wednesday, which is the one I'll be attending. She was very nervous when I dropped her off at McMicken ... so much so, in fact, that she forgot a prop for one of her dances and I had to make a second trip to take it to her. Kacie is at gymnastics class; Kyle is outside knocking the basketball around; Ray has just come home from putting gas in his car.

Yesterday was Mother's Day. I slept until 11:00, and when I got up the kids had my breakfast sitting on the coffee table ... leftover Breakfast Scramble from the day before, a piece of toast and coffee. They showered me with gifts and cards, of course: thanks to Betty's garage sale I am now the proud owner of a papier mache box (blue w/pink flowers) filled with sachet, a miniature doll and a cookbook! 

Later in the day, Dad and Valerie stopped by briefly to drop off a belated b.day gift for Kyle, a bank filled with change. Jamie had softball practice (Kacie went with her to watch) and Ray went out to Bellevue to mow the folks' lawn, so except for Kyle (who was busy playing Sega anyway) I was pretty much alone all afternoon. I printed some things off the computer, taped some library music, and made a big chicken fried steak dinner for everybody. All in all, a nice low-key Mother's Day, just the way I like it. 




100 THINGS THAT ARE WORRYING ME/BOTHERING ME/UPSETTING ME/
MAKING ME GUILTY/MAD/FRUSTRATED

1. My desk is littered with cassette tapes, garbage and cigarette ashes, and my computer keyboard has something black smeared all over it.

2. My mouth hurts from yesterday's endontist appointment (especially from the shots of Novocain) and Ray just said "Well, I can't do anything about it."

3. The kitchen floor is sticky and gross.

4. Jamie is at Waskowitz for the entire week: the house will be a disaster by then.

5. My gas tank is empty.

6. I probably have to go to the laundromat tonight ... at least six fucking loads.

7. Randy embarrassed me in front of Bill, J.C. and Bud this afternoon. ("Terri, would you start putting Better Sound mail on my desk?")  I've been putting it on Bill's desk because Randy's is a mess and I was afraid it would get lost.

8. My period is due any second.

9. I haven't had a decent haircut in a year, and my hair looks witchy, stringy and awful.

10. Brad was a testy asshole on the phone for most of the day.

11. The only money I have is $200 from the office petty cash.

12. I spent my inheritance.

13. The kitchen sink faucet doesn't work properly.

14. I have no washing machine.

15. My car is an ugly third-rate piece of shit, but I'll never be able to afford anything better.

16. I'm thirty pounds overweight.

17. The Big Gulp I bought on the way home tastes watery.

18. I have a headache.

19. Some of my library stuff is overdue.

20. None of my friends are speaking to me.

21. My life sucks.

22. Ray looks grumpy, tired and put-upon.

23. I want to make more money but I don't know how.

24. I have no stamps at the office.

25. Every piece of clothing I own (except for my one & only bra) is from Value Village.

26. My mother thinks I'm having a garage sale in two weeks and she keeps bringing stuff over here, neatly labeled with prices.

27. I can't even come up with 100 things for this list. Fuck it.




Wednesday afternoon
May 18, 1994

Two mortifying experiences as I was coming home from work just now.

First, I stopped off at Tom's to buy a small cold bottle of wine (after ten minutes of internal debate: should I? shouldn't I?). When I got up to the counter and pulled out my money to pay for it, there was a tampon stuck to the flap of my wallet. Naturally there were a couple of men standing right behind me and they couldn't help but see: I just about died.

Then, when I was taking the detour around 172nd (stupid frigging construction has everything blocked off again), a cop stopped me in the middle of the road ... and there's me with no driver's license, no insurance, no nothing except a bottle of wine sitting next to me on the front seat. (Unopened, mind you, but it's the thought that counts.) "Ma'am," he said sternly, "I don't even need a radar gun to tell that you were going 35 down this street." I was absolutely paralyzed with fear, but I tried to stay cool. I apologized and said I was going straight home. "Don't worry about going straight home, worry about slowing DOWN," he said, and he let me go. I started to cry when I drove away from him. I felt so stupid, like a little unloved kid. The really irritating thing about this is that just this morning I was thinking, "I need to be really careful about driving today." I just had this feeling I was going to bump into a cop, but by this afternoon I'd completely forgotten about my "hunch." Figures.

Fate is conspiring to keep me in a perpetual bad mood this week, I think. Right before I got to Tom's I was actually feeling pretty good ... the radio played two great "driving songs" in a row ("Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye"), the wind was blowing my hair around, I was through with an especially grueling day at the office. I hate to say this, but I don't always look forward to coming home anymore ... the house is usually a mess, there's dinner to cook, Ray and the girls get into a screaming match every single night ... but for about five minutes I was in something approaching a good mood. Now, though, forget about it. Kacie wants to go to the library tonight, and I've been promising her all week that I would take her out for a milkshake. When I walked through the door a few minutes ago she was already looking at me with big expectant eyes. It's obvious that she has knocked herself out this afternoon, cleaning up the house ... the scent of Clorox bleach hit me before I even got through the door. She cleaned the sticky floors, folded laundry, vacuumed, the works, all in an effort to please me (and her Dad). The selfish tired grumpy part of me would like to curl up on the sofa with a glass of wine and the newspaper and do nothing for the rest of the evening: the selfless Mommy in me knows better.

Ray and Kacie got into an especially nasty fight last night,  right before bed. Now that Jamie is gone all week to Camp Waskowitz  --  she's Ray's usual "target"  --  he has decided to take his nightly frustration out on Kacie. First, he walked into the girls' bedroom and started making snotty comments about how messy her room is. "This place is a fire hazard!" he growled, and he started throwing things around. I literally pushed him out of her room and shut the bedroom door in his face. A few minutes later he was on her about the dishes. He'd gone to fix himself a glass of milk and found one of the cups she'd washed was still dirty. In a rage, he threw it on the floor and started yelling at her. Kacie came apart completely. The yelling and the hostilities escalated until I couldn't stand it anymore. 

I went into the bedroom and glared at him in a cold fury. "You are too hard on Kacie," I said. "If you don't knock it off, she's going to stop loving you." 

The problem here is that while Jamie can usually take her Dad's wildly erratic moods and pointless temper tantrums  --  she gives it right back in kind  --  Kacie can't. She's simply not equipped emotionally. I don't think Ray understands that. I do think, however, that what I said got to him. Apparently he came home from work today and apologized to her, AND he complimented her on how nice the house looks. So peace reigneth temporarily in Polenville.

I'm going through a tough time emotionally right now, myself. The past couple of weeks I've had a lot on my mind. I want to write about it but I can never find the time, the motivation or the words. Mostly I'm just disgusted with myself for the way we managed to go through my inheritance money. It was so nice having that "safety net," the past few months, and now it's gone. I shudder to think what would happen if even one more piece of bad luck falls our way ... my car breaks down, the landlords ask us to move, Ray or I lose our job. We would be sunk. I have no one to blame but myself, so I'm turning all my anger and worry inward.

Funnily enough, the one "island" of peace I find in my life right now is my job. At least at the office I find privacy, quiet, order, things to do, and (occasionally) a little respect. Yesterday I found a phone number for Bill (Edwin at Audio Systems) that he'd been looking everywhere for, and when he called he said "Good work." I glowed from that one compliment for the rest of the day. If I can just keep from fucking up this job, maybe Grandma's money wasn't all spent in vain. 




Monday morning
May 23, 1994

This is rapidly turning into one of the crappier days I've had lately ...

Last night was one of "those" Sunday nights in Polenville, the first such night we've had in ages. Ray slept until 1:00 in the afternoon, then got up and promptly started drinking one beer after another. By the time we ate dinner at 8 p.m. (barbecued ribs and chicken, macaroni salad, baked beans) he was drunk and ready to fight about something ... anything. In this case, he decided to throw a tantrum because I gave Kyle the last little shitty piece of frozen corn on the cob. "I would have like some corn," he hissed, and then he jumped in his car without saying anything to anybody and went to the store to buy himself three ears of corn. When he got back, the kids and I were done eating and we were watching "Murder She Wrote." He started slamming things around and muttering under his breath. "Wish I could watch TV," he snapped. It went on like this for some time while I sat on the sofa, fighting back tears. Kyle came over and snuggled next to me, laying his head on my shoulder: that simple act of kindness did me in, and I started crying uncontrollably. Before Ray went to bed he apologized to everybody for being "grumpy," and I let it pass, but the truth is that I'm getting pretty fucking fed up with the girls and I being the targets for Ray's bad moods every night. I woke up this morning feeling puffy and sad from last night's tears.

My period has been threatening to start for over a week now, and the delay is making me horribly tense, irritable and uncomfortable. I completely blew up at the girls this morning before I left for work: I couldn't seem to find anything (my watch, my good hairbrush, a decent pair of knee-hi's, my sunglasses) and I threw a screaming fit, slamming drawers shut and kicking things and yelling my dumb premenstrual head off. Everyone was crying when I left the house, including me. By the time I got to work I'd calmed down a little ... the sight of my neat, tidy, organized little office (I did a bunch of cleaning before I left last Friday) was like a tonic for my frazzled nerves. The perfect antidote to my messy, smelly, tacky house. It's supposed to get up into the 80's this afternoon, but I know as long as I keep the office door open and the lights turned off, it'll stay wonderfully cool and pleasant in here. 

"Maybe this won't be a complete stinkeroo of a day, after all," I thought to myself, as I munched on a breakfast sandwich (bought with my last $2 in the universe) and drank a cup of coffee at my desk. I even called the girls at home before they left for school and apologized for being such a witch.

Unfortunately, my almost-good-mood didn't last long. Bill came in for about five minutes, and not only did he not notice how terrific the office looked  --  I vacuumed under his desk and dusted his picture frames, even  --  but he was distracted and snappish. Usually he greets me with a cheerful "Hi-Terri-how-are-you?," but today it was, "When did these get here?" he said, referring to Friday's UPS delivery. He was so aloof, in fact, that I'm sitting here wondering if I've done something wrong. I'll probably be paranoid and nervous all day today as a result, wondering if my job is on the line and I just don't know it yet. 

Ron Colson noticed that I wasn't completely myself. "Terri, are you in a bad mood?" he asked me, and I admitted that yes, I've had better days. I told him it was because my "teeth were hurting me," and he said he would try to get me some Tylenol 3's today. (I refuse to count on it but it certainly would be nice.) 

Anyway. Then Bill's mom came in with copies of the BNC invoices I've been typing for Don M., and the upshot of it is I have to do them all over again. The errors weren't mine  --  I typed them precisely the way Bill asked me to, and I have his original hand-written copies to prove it  --  but she still managed to make me feel dopey and slow-witted and personally responsible for every goof. I was trying very hard to stay calm and pleasant and not let her know how irritated I was, but frankly I don't think I fooled her for an instant: I felt like a petulant little girl, and I'm sure that's precisely how I came across. She's gone now, and I've gotten all but one of the invoices re-typed, but this will be one more thing for me to stew about all day.

What else? Oh yes. Brad and Jeff will be coming into the office around noon, according to Jeff. This is definitely one of those days when it would be better for me to be alone as much as possible, but sadly, ‘tis not to be ... 

I don't even want to go home tonight. If I had any money at all, I'd go to a late-afternoon movie or something, ANYTHING to postpone the inevitable. Going home is no longer something I look forward to. The minute I walk through the door I'm assaulted by guilt and noise and the smell of cat pee ... 




Tuesday morning
May 24, 1994

I just got to the office and called my horoscope ... and now I wish I hadn't. Basically it said that everything is going to go wrong today. My boss is going to make me re-do a major project, Ray is going to pick a big fight with me tonight, and my money situation is fucked. "Blame it on the moon!" the recorded voice said happily. Shit. Shit, shit and shit. Why do I call these stupid horoscope lines, anyway? It's never anything I want to hear, and even though I know it's a lot of hooey, it can still plant the seeds of worry in my heart and screw up an otherwise perfectly normal day ...

The part about my boss having me re-do a project has already come true, anyway: those invoices that Bill's mom brought to the office yesterday. The monthly invoices for the lawyer were one thing I felt I was really staying on top of. So it irritates me that they have to be done all over again, and  --  this irritates me even more, I think  --  that even though I'm not responsible for the mistakes, it looks like I was. But what can I do?

As for Ray and I getting into a fight, what in the world is new? Lately it's a nightly thing: big deal.

Money is another matter. I've been waiting for Carleen to call all morning for everyone's hours (for payroll), and I still haven't heard from her. Worried. I can't afford a fucked-up paycheck, I really really can't. (Note: I finally took the bull by the horns and called her. From the sounds of it, everything is cool, but I won't know for sure until I tear open that paycheck envelope tomorrow morning.)

And I am STILL waiting for my period to start. I can't believe this. I know it's coming ... I have a big zit in the middle of my right cheek, and I feel crampy and bloated ... so enough already with prolonging the agony. Let's get the damned thing over with.

Got my new dining table and chairs last night, the set that Mom is selling me for $50. Ray brought it over from her house last night, and it looks great in our dining room. (It'll look even better when I clean the dining room and buy a new tablecloth and placemats.) Incidentally, Mom will be moving into her new condo within the next week or so. Funny how unemotional I feel about Grandma St. John's house being sold ... I haven't had the urge to drive past it, or to visit the place one last time, or anything. No sad, wrenching dreams, either. In my heart, Grandma's house stopped being "Grandma's House" the day of her funeral three years ago: that was the last time I saw it looking the way it looked while Grandma was alive. After that it was never the same, especially after Mom moved in and remodeled everything. So maybe I've already mourned it and moved on.

5:45 p.m.
Assorted Notes

Stopped at the B.P. Library on the way home, put some CD's and tapes on hold (Chris Rea, Joe Cocker, Peter Himmelman, The Fixx, ‘Til Tuesday) ... postponing the inevitable homecoming, more than anything.

When I was leaving the library I saw two things:

  • A dog with a helium balloon tied around its middle.
  • The reflection of a fat woman with bad hair.

Ray is going to do two loads of laundry at the laundromat: I have been assigned Dinner Preparation. I think fleetingly (longingly) of cleaning my office and my bedroom, but I know I will never summon the energy. I am nothing more than a limp flabby blob of inertia this afternoon.




Wednesday lunch hour
May 25, 1994

Well, so I "tore open the envelope" and guess what? My paycheck was $250 shorter than usual. Carleen took out the entire draw after all (rather than spreading it out over two paychecks, like I hoped she would do). Crap. I called Ray at work and let him know. 

"Hey, they're takin' a draw outta my paycheck too," he grumbled. 

I went and put a measly $150 into the checking account a little while ago, while Ron Colson stayed here in the office and watched the phones. By the time I pay Mom for the dining table and give the kids their allowance, I'll be back to broke. Crap again.

Another one of those days where my moods keep going up and down, up and down. A few minutes ago I was starting to feel OK. I was still disappointed about the short paycheck, but I told myself Hey, the next check will be great. I ate my chicken salad lunch and started a long-overdue letter to Kathy and actually thought I might get through this day in one piece. 

And then the mail got here. Why, oh why did I open the S.W. Chamber of Commerce newsletter? The first thing I opened to was a big picture of Phil and Ryan Rehberg, accepting an award for "S.W. Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year," for their law practice. Another painful reminder of what could-have-been if I hadn't been so stupid ...




MOM'S TEN COMMANDMENTS OF SUMMER

1. NOBODY leaves the house until all chores have been completed. These include:

  • Living room picked up and vacuumed.
  • Dishes washed & kitchen cleaned up.
  • Floors swept.
  • Special chores for that day finished (bathroom, litter box, etc.)

2. NOBODY leaves the neighborhood unless they've checked with Mom first.

3. The gate is to remain locked at all times, especially when the doors are open and Dusty is out.

4. Having friends over is OK as long as your work is done & you check with Mom. Your friends are to stay out of Mom & Dad's room.

5. If you borrow something from my room or my office, I expect it to be returned without me asking. (Hairspray, jewelry, pens, makeup, etc.)

6. Wet towels are to be put in the dryer or hung up immediately after use. Clothes left on the bathroom floor will be confiscated & returned when I feel like returning them.

8. Re-fill the damned ice cube trays when they're empty. L

9. Reasonable snacking is OK, but stay out of dinner materials. If you're not sure about something, call me and ask before you eat it.

10. I expect the three of you to at least make an attempt to get along. Mom has enough to worry about without wondering if you're killing each other. If there is a problem you can't resolve, call me at work. Live up to the trust I have in you, please.




Today is Tuesday. May 31. 1994.

It is 1:40 p.m.

The weather is pukey gray and clouded-over but warm. I'm not sure but I think I'm making chicken fajitas for dinner tonight. As usual, that sounds terrible; it's been a long time since I've made a dinner that truly turned me on.

What am I craving?

A thick juicy steak with mushrooms, onions and A-1 ...

a baked potato with all the trimmings ...

Chinese food?

KFC BBQ?




Tuesday afternoon/early evening
June 28, 1994

This is a pleasant new development ... coming home from work in the afternoon and finding Ray and the kids have gone swimming at Shannon South ... the house is quiet (if not clean), and the only "people" to greet me were our new dog and our newest kitty ...

I am amazed and embarrassed that once again it's been over a month since I've made a journal entry. And an eventful month it's been, too: I have a lot of catching up to do here.

Summer is in full swing in Polenville. It was hot yesterday, it was hotter today, it'll probably be hotter tomorrow. Blecchh. I managed to keep the office comfortable all day, thanks to the portable fan. In fact, I almost didn't want to leave work  --  I knew the drive home and the house would be hot and stuffy. Oh well.

The kids got out of school a week ago. On June 17th (the Friday before they got out), I went and watched Jamie "graduate" from sixth grade ... a sweet and touching ceremony. Jamie picked out her graduation dress herself (and bought it with her own money) -- a simple little black dress with white buttons running down the front. In her nylons and her low-heeled black pump and her immaculate (as always) hair, she looked very grown-up. I watched her up on the stage with her classmates and marveled at how poised and self-possessed she was, especially compared to the other sixth grade girls, who seemed almost comically gawky and self-conscious. Jamie won several special awards, and I was as proud of her as I've ever been of anyone in my life.


Jamie (far left) walking into her sixth grade graduation
June 1994

Report cards were all good, although Kyle was undeniably the scholastic star of the family this year: he got the second-grade equivalent of straight A's.

I'm still waiting to see how things work out, leaving the kids home alone all summer. It's not an ideal situation, by any means, but I don't have a lot of choices. The only real problems so far are that the house is never cleaned to my satisfaction, and the girls keep getting into my stuff (jewelry, makeup, etc.) while I'm gone. But these are minor glitches, and otherwise it's working out OK so far. This is their vacation, after all. If I wanted slaves I could probably go out and hire some.

Jamie leaves a week from today for Camp Cedar Springs, and the week after that it's Kacie's turn. Last weekend I gave them each $40 and turned them loose at Southcenter so they could buy their camp supplies. I think they're about half-packed already.

And yes, you heard me correctly ... we have a new cat and a new dog. We ended up keeping one of Gillie's kittens from her March litter, a white female we've named "Gabby." She's one of the sweeter kitties we've ever had. And then two weeks ago, Ray went and brought home a dog ... a four yr. old cocker spaniel named "Dusty." (His owners, an older couple, felt he needed a family with children.) Every fiber of my being was screaming "NO! NO DOGS!!!" when Ray first proposed adopting Dusty, but he's a sweet, dumb, harmless doggy and he's managed to insinuate himself into our hearts. He doesn't poop on the rug and he doesn't chew up the sofa cushions ... his only annoying habits are barking at people when they come through the door, following us everywhere we go, and eating plastic Frisbees. It could be worse.


Kacie with Dusty, Eater of Frisbees
Summer 1994

I've taken on a second job, sort of ... I'm now David J.'s "unofficial secretary" and graphic designer. He's started his own credit consulting business, and as a favor I made him some business cards and letterhead to get him started. He liked them so much that now he's commissioning me to design business cards for his friends. I've made cards for five or six people so far. He also has me doing some typing and invoicing for him, plus I have to check the messages on his answering machine for him every day.




August 8, 1994
Monday lunch time

Sad to say, this summer will likely go down in memory as "The Summer Without a Journal" ...

I don't know how or why it happened, but I seem to have lost all heart for journal writing. At least once or twice a day I think about sitting down and writing something on the computer, either here at work or at home  ...  but I just can't make myself do it. It's not that I don't have anything to write about; this has been as quietly eventful a summer as any in recent memory. And it's not for lack of opportunity; I am always sitting in front of a computer. So I have no excuse. I know I'll be sorry someday. In a few years I'll look back at this gaping hole in my life history and wish I'd been self-disciplined enough to at least pop out a paragraph or two once in a while, while the kids are still young and our lives are fairly newsworthy. ("What in the world happened to the summer of '94?!," I can hear myself muttering, as I leaf through this patchy, piecemeal excuse for a journal. "There are three whole months missing!")  And I'll wish I could come back in time and give myself a good swift kick in my sedentary unmotivated butt.

Sigh.

It would take me the rest of the afternoon to catch you upon on everything that has happened in Polenville this summer ... so I'm not going to try. I'm not even going to promise to "turn over a new leaf" ("From this day forward I promise to write TEN PAGES A DAY!"). All I'm going to do is tap out a couple of quick paragraphs on this overcast August afternoon ... a brief summary of our lives today ... and try to be content with that. The old "good enough is good enough" affirmation. And if I like the way it turns out, who knows? Maybe there'll be another couple of paragraphs tomorrow, and some more the next day. 

Or maybe not. We'll see.

Kacie is spending the week with her grandparents in Bellevue. When Peg & Don came and picked her up on Saturday, she was running a fever and threatening to throw up.  (As she walked out the door I discreetly handed her a plastic grocery bag.)  Apparently she spent most of the weekend sleeping in her grandmother's bed. She called me here at work a couple of hours ago, though, and she sounded a lot better. Kyle spent last week with the grandparents -- they took him everywhere and bought him everything in the universe and waited on him hand and foot -- and now it's Kacie's turn. I just hope she feels well enough to enjoy it.

Jamie's turn to stay with Peg & Don is next week, and she doesn't want to go. She has her first boyfriend this summer (a little smartass named Dennis who calls me "Mama Polen" on the phone: I like this kid!) and a social life to rival Princess Di's, and the thought of being away from her friends (and her telephone, and her babysitting job) for a whole week is a fate worse than death. I still haven't decided whether or not we should force her to go. Earlier this summer she finked out on camp at the last minute ... her grandparents had paid her way to Cedar Springs, and at the eleventh hour she decided she didn't want to go ... and now part of me thinks it would be healthy for her to spend some time in Bellevue. She won't like the idea. She'll cry and swear at me and slam doors and pout until she leaves, and then when she's at her grandparents she'll probably mope around their house. But I can't help it ... the "mom" in me worries that I'm not doing her any favors, letting her off the hook all the time. Once in a while she should have to do something she doesn't really want to do, like spending some time with her grandparents. It's character-building. Right?




Tuesday afternoon, 3 p.m.
August 9, 1994

An interminably long day, still dragging on ...

I've been trying to be in a good mood for days, but life keeps kicking me in the teeth. Right now I'm sitting here at my computer at work, fighting back tears. It seems like no matter what I do, somebody is unhappy with me: I can't win.

Peg called last night and coldly informed me that Kacie was still "very sick" and needed to see a doctor right away. She's been running a fever since Friday, hasn't eaten anything in three days and does nothing but sleep. The implication in Peg's voice was clear: You and Ray never should have sent Kacie to stay with us in the first place. Peg wanted to bring Kacie home right then & there and have me take her to the doctor. When I explained that the doctor's office closed at 5:00 (this was 7:30 or so), she said she would bring Kacie home in the morning. I had to call the doctor's answering service and speak to the doctor on call, who basically didn't tell us anything new ... give her Tylenol and lots of liquids, keep her quiet, etc. Dr. Kay's office would open at 7:30 a.m. and we could bring her in then. My problem, of course, was how to get her to the doctor? Neither Ray nor I can take any time off this week: for me, it would be tantamount to kissing my job goodbye. Frantically I called my mom and asked if she could take Kacie to the doctor in the morning, and she said no problem. 

I called my mother-in-law back and relayed all this information to her, but I was so angry with her when I got off the phone last night I could barely speak. Why was she making such a big fucking deal out of Kacie's annual summer flu? If she would just give Kacie a decent dose of Tylenol every four hours, instead of the little baby half-doses she's been giving her, Kacie would have kicked this by now. And why was Peg deliberately trying to make me feel guilty and inadequate? I thought we'd moved past this kind of crap years ago.

Peg and my mother took Kacie to Dr. Kay's this morning at 10 a.m. The diagnosis? A kidney infection. Jesus. Mom called me with the news right after the doctor's appointment. (Kacie, in the meantime, has gone back to Bellevue with Peg. More on this in a moment.) The summer heat, too much physical exertion and not enough liquids are to blame -- at least, at this point, that's what they think. The doctor took a culture, and I have to call his office in two days: that's when we'll know for sure what we're dealing with. In the meantime they gave Kacie an enormous shot in the behind and prescribed sulfa drugs and Extra-Strength Tylenol. (The one and only gratifying moment of this whole fucked day was when Mom said Dr. Kay told Peg she wasn't giving Kacie large enough doses of Tylenol. I feel at least somewhat vindicated.)

I just spoke to Kacie on the phone a few minutes ago and it broke my heart. I HATE THE FACT THAT SHE'S SICK & I CAN'T BE WITH HER.




August 10, 1994
Wednesday afternoon

Just home from work (the hot temperatures are back, after several days of lovely cool and overcast weather), and nobody else is home! Kacie is still in Bellevue  --  I haven't talked to her yet today  --  Jamie is over swimming at Dennis' apartment, and Ray & Kyle (I presume) are at Shannon South. Bliss. I've poured myself a rum and Coke and I'm going to enjoy having the house to myself for a little bit.

You know, I remember now that I did write a couple of journal entries this summer, after all ... but they're locked away in my old computer, which is sitting at present in the garage, unplugged and abandoned. I am now the proud owner of an IBM PS/1 computer, complete with Windows (but no Word 6.0 yet - I'm still waiting for Jeff to bring me the software at work) AND a Hewlett-Packard Desk Jet 550C color printer!!!  David J. found them for me, after I remarked on day that it would be a lot easier to get out graphics business off the ground if I had some "decent equipment" here at home. Within days he'd brought me the printer. We hooked it up to the old computer and it worked great, but I still needed a better computer so I could run Windows & Print Shop Deluxe. The first computer he brought me was totally useless  --  I had him take it back after a couple of days  --  but then he brought me the PS/1. It already had Windows 3.1 loaded onto it, and I was in heaven ... until I tried to load it with some of my own software and wiped everything out.  Ron (Velma's husband) worked on it for a couple of days, trying to get it running, but it seems I had pretty effectively fucked it up. Finally, he had to take everything off and re-load Windows, so I could start all over again. I brought the computer home, turned it on and played with it for about 15 minutes last Friday ... and screwed it up again! I was unbelievably pissed and embarrassed, but Ron and Velma were really nice about it and re-loaded it for me one more time. It's working just fine now, and you'd better believe I'm not going to do anything to goof it up again. I hope. Anyway, those other journal entries are locked inside the old computer. I hope to retrieve and print them eventually  ...  I'm thinking about setting up the old computer in one of the kids' bedrooms  ...  but in the meantime I've got to try and remember what I wrote about.

One thing I know I wrote about, and which I should now mention, is the animal population in Polenville. When summer began we had three cats -- Sabrina, Gillie, and one of her kittens from the March litter, a sweet little white female named Gabby -- and a dog, a four yr. old cocker spaniel named Dusty (who Ray brought home one night unannounced, after he saw an ad at Tom's). As of today we are down to two pets: Brina and Gabby. To make a long and painful story sort, Ray accidentally ran over and killed Gillie two weekends ago. He was going to the store on Sunday morning and he hit her with my car. The real tragedy is that she was just about to give birth to her second litter of kittens. I took it very hard -- Gillie was "my" kitty, and I loved her a lot -- and Ray was devastated. We're still sort of working through out grief. (I'm just SO THANKFUL now that we kept one of her kittens. At the time I was very apathetic about the idea, but I'm glad now.) As for Dusty, we took him back to his original owners last weekend. After two months of trying to get him to calm down & be less aggressive (especially towards the neighbors and to anyone who came through the door), we'd had enough. I never wanted a dog in the first place, but I still feel bad when I think about Dusty. He was a nice little doggy and he deserved better than us, I think.

Next week I "celebrate" one full year at BNC Telephone. Hard to believe that entire year has come and gone. I still like my job as much as I ever did, but after a year it's safe to say the honeymoon is over. Brad and Bob still have a tendency to treat me like I'm a little bit stupid, I still haven't gotten a payraise, and any time I make the slightest "goof" I worry that my job is in jeopardy. I still can't stand Kelli in Spokane. And some of the people on the phone can really raise my hackles. If one of the guys doesn't return a phone call or a page IMMEDIATELY, the customer assumes it's because I haven't given them the message. These minor irritations aside, it's a fine job for me  --  lots of alone time  --   and I'd like to think that come this time next year, I'll be "celebrating" two years at BNC.

I have a vacation coming, by the way. The week of August 29th, if all goes according to plan. Eleven whole days!! I can't wait.

Well, I'm now out of cigarettes. Should I get back in the car & drive down to Trailer Town?




Wednesday evening
August 31, 1994

Warm summer day, gradually turning into a warm (but cloudy) summer evening ... smells of blueberry pie baking in the oven and freshly laundered clothes in the dryer ... KMTT on the radio. Ray and Kyle are swimming, Jamie is babysitting, Kacie is in the living room watching "Rookie of the Year" for the millionth time this summer.

I'm in the fifth day of my vacation, and I'm fairly happy: I got a lot done today. The house is clean (except, as always, for The Bowels of Hell ... Kyle's room), my paycheck has been safely cashed and stashed away in my purse, things feel temporarily under control. Were that it were always thus.




Thursday noon
September 1, 1994

"Were that it were always thus"?!?!? What a joke. Try, "were that it were thus for longer than fifteen fucking minutes" ...

Right after I wrote the serene journal entry above, things all went to pieces on me. I was served with papers (Highline Hospital is suing Ray & I), Ray came home from the pool drunk & goofy, and Don called and asked if his girlfriend's five year old daughter Katy could spend the night. That kid is hell on wheels - a brat of the first order - but I said OK, only if Don paid me in advance (he did, but not much). My nice clean house was history in no time flat. Jazzmine cam and picked up her daughter early this morning, thank God, but now I'm in the middle of cleaning Kyle's room - I've been at it for two hours - and I am not exaggerating when I say it is the filthiest, most disgusting mess I've ever cleaned in my life. As always, cleaning his bedroom seems to make the rest of the house fall apart. I've already dragged out four huge garbage bags full of crap, there's laundry piled to the ceiling out here in my office and I'm in a grouchy mood. Grrrr.




Monday afternoon
September 5, 1994

Well, it's over, folks ... my lovely wonderful vacation ends today. Tomorrow it's back to the salt mines. If it weren't for the thought of getting up at 5:30 a.m., I wouldn't mind it so much ...

Quietly busy afternoon. Ray and Kyle are school clothes shopping (oops, amend that; they just got back) ... Kacie is at Wild Waves with her friend Brianna ...  Jamie is cleaning her room. I'm spending my last vacation day frying chicken, doing laundry, sipping hot sweet tea, ironing, cleaning out the Velmobile and trying to repair my computer. I accidentally fucked it up again yesterday, trying to load the USA Atlas program, and although I've managed to get it running again there are still a few kinks I can't seem to work out. (All my good fonts are missing from Word 6.0, and there's something wrong with the new Print Shop Deluxe Companion I just bought & installed a few days ago.)




Saturday
September 10, 1994

I was so happy when I woke up this morning and realized it was Saturday ... the sun was shining after a long night of rain, and everything smelled fresh and clean ... I went to sleep early last night and got a good night's sleep ... the whole day stretched out in front of me, to spend as I please ... why can't these good happy feelings ever last???  I was cuddling with Kyle, watching cartoons and drinking coffee, when I saw a bug wiggling in his messy hair. Another goddamned flea was my first thought, but on closer inspection I discovered (to my horror) that his scalp was COVERED with bugs, big flat ugly bugs with transparent bodies and wings: head lice. Shit. I immediately sent him into the shower, and then I doused him with a bottle of lice rinse that we'd saved from a few years ago, and I sprayed things with the lice spray, and now I'm washing his bedding and his clothes. We're probably OK for now, and neither one of the girls seem to have it yet, but I know we're not past the worst. I've got to wait until I get paid on Wednesday before I can get some more shampoo and a nit comb and some more spray. I just pray that no one at school notices before I can do a more thorough job of eradicating the little fuckers.

Oh well. At least it's Saturday.

Going back to work on Tuesday, after my long lovely vacation, was much harder than I thought it would be. In fact this was probably one of the worst weeks I've ever spent at BNC Telephone. Bob was on a rampage all week and more than once I found myself on the receiving end of his bad mood. To make things worse, Ray was home all week  --  this was his vacation week  --  so coming home each night was no picnic, either.




Tuesday morning
September 27, 1994

If it's true what they say  --  that you're as old as you feel  --  then I must be about three thousand years old.

I have spent the past week and a half struggling not to feel old ... tired ... sad ... weighted down. But it's all been uphill. Every time I turn around, SOMEBODY is mad at me about something: my jerk of a boss, my even bigger jerk of a husband, my kids, David J., my co-workers, my friends, my in-laws, bill collectors, total strangers, drivers in the car behind me ... I keep trying to be all things to all people, and I wind up being nothing to anyone.

I'm alone in the office for a few precious minutes this morning, thank God. Bob was here for a while, but ever since our horrible "talk" last Thursday* it's been hard for me to be in the same room with him: I'm afraid I'm going to slip and let him see how FURIOUS I am with him. So it's a relief when he finally goes sprinting out the office door, saying "Terri-I'll-be-at-Siemens-all-day." Unfortunately, now Brad is on his way to the office, so my alone-time today will be pitifully brief.

(*I asked for a raise, and instead I was told that customers and co-workers were "complaining" about the way I answer the phone. Which is complete and utter nonsense, of course  --  the phone is what I do BEST. This is just Bob's way of getting out of giving me more money. I sat here at my desk and wept for an entire day ... it was a nightmare.)

Sunny morning. We're having our annual beginning-of-autumn heatwave this week: 81° yesterday, even hotter today. Naturally I'm looking forward to the real fall weather ... sweater and mitten mornings, icy evenings in front of the woodstove, long afternoon rainstorms ... beef stew, simmering at home in the crockpot all day ... I've had enough summer to last me a lifetime, thank you very much. Bring on the frost.




Wednesday
October 5, 1994

When did my life get so complicated? How did it happen? All of a sudden I'm so stressed I can barely think. My life is a mess. I mean it. My teeth ache all day long, and I've finally realized it's because I'm grinding them all the time, without even noticing it. My house looks like crap. The kids are living their lives without me. I look like shit because I'm not sleeping, I'm not eating well, and I'm constantly trying to juggle the needs of other people ahead of my own. Something's got to give. I just hope it isn't my sanity.

David J. is starting to drive me insane, for one thing. One thousand carbon business forms in one day?? Out of this little dinky office, with Bob and Brad sitting in the very next room for hours on end? I don't think so. Speaking of Bob and Brad ... I WISH THEY WOULD LEAVE!!!!! It's 1:30 now and they've been here forever. Brad especially is making me nuts. Lately he's been coming into the office around 10:00 or so every day and spending two or three hours hunched over paperwork, making phone calls, eating his lunch, etc. etc. I can't do any of the Olympia & Associates work while he's here, of course. And now Bob has started coming in more frequently, too, and he and Brad sit in Bob's office with the doors shut (blocking my way to he bathroom, the coffee and the fridge) and gab for hours and hours. By the time they finally leave, around 2 or 2:30 (if I'm lucky) that leaves me just two hours to run off 1,000 carbon sets, CUT them all, GLUE them all, invoice them and get them into a box. Shit.

I feel like I'm going to burst into tears, just thinking about it. What's equally distressing is knowing that I've got to do it all over again tomorrow. FUCK. How did I get myself into this, anyway? When we first started out I was designing business cards for some of his friends, a few at a time: now all of a sudden he's demanding thousands and thousands of copies of business forms, and he wants them RIGHT NOW. My teeth are beginning to ache again.




Thursday morning
October 6, 1994

Yesterday was a phenomenally stressful day: I don't recall ever having one like it. Brad and Bob sat here and dinked around in the office until FOUR O'CLOCK. While they were still here, David the Asshole called and wanted to know "when the carbon forms would be done"? I tried to explain to him that there wasn't a blessed thing I could do; the boss was still in the office and my hands were tied. Did he understand? Did he say, "That's OK, wait until tomorrow?" No. he still expected his thousand copies that evening. I ended up staying here in the office until 5:45, feverishly trying to throw together a thousand forms  ...  and then he NEVER SHOWED UP AT THE HOUSE TO PICK THEM UP!  I was  --  I AM  --  furious with him. I ate dinner (leftover chicken fried steak, which I'd been too busy to eat the night before), watched a little TV with the kids, gave Kyle some sorely-needed attention, read part of the library book I've been trying to read for a week, and finally fell asleep on the sofa at 8:30. I slept like a dead person. This morning I feel somewhat better, although I can tell already that it's going to be another one of "those" days ... Bob's dad is here this morning, visiting with a vendor, and good old BRAD is on his way to the office. "I need to resolve some insurance matters," he said on the phone a few minutes ago. Meaning, of course, that he's going to be hanging around all afternoon. Jeezus. Whatever happened to those long, wonderful afternoons spent all alone in this office?? I could really use one of those again, and not just to catch up on David's fucking carbons ... I could use the time ALONE, period. It's only 8:55 a.m. and I'm already grinding my teeth down into painful little stubs.

3:20 p.m.

Well ... I was completely right about this day. Brad has been here ALL DAY, and right now Bob, James, and Little Brad are also here. Isn't that delightful? I ran exactly 25 copies of the O&A crap before I had to quit.

David called earlier, and he sounds just as disgusted and weary of Gale Force Winds and their stupid carbon forms as I am. "From now on we ain't doin' this shit" he said tiredly. It's the closest he's come to being human all week. It doesn't COMPLETELY make up for the headaches this order (and this week) have caused me, but it comes close ...

I am completely broke. This morning on the way to work I spent my very last $3 in the world on a package of nylon knee-hi's. I think there might be some spare change in the ashtray of my car, but other than that I am penniless. What's strange is how liberating it feels, in a way ... not having to worry about kids and husbands and business partners trying to hit me up for money tonight. I can just shrug helplessly and say "Sorry! The bank is busted!"




Friday morning
October 7, 1994

Oh god ... it's my Dad's 60th birthday, and I haven't so much as sent him a card. One more reason to feel guilty guilty guilty.

The Carbon Order From Hell Saga continues. Last night I triumphantly gave David 1,500 of the stupid fucking things, invoiced them and said "That's IT." He paid me and left, and I felt SO relieved. Twenty minutes later he called me from the GF office. They won't accept the forms because  --  are you ready for this?  --  "the lines aren't wide enough." The jerk I talked to on the phone gave me a song & dance about how his customers won't be able to read the form, the way it is now. It took every ounce of self control I possess to keep from screaming, "WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME THIS THREE DAYS AGO, WHEN YOU REJECTED THE FIRST THOUSAND I RAN FOR YOU??"  I ran about 1,000 earlier this week, and they wouldn't take them because I "left out one line." Why the hell didn't they say something about the lines not being "wide enough" then?? I am so incredibly pissed. I haven't talked to David yet today, but when I do I'm going to tell them that there's no way I'm running them all over again. Not a chance in hell. I've spent some time this morning calling various printing companies, seeing how much they'll charge to print them (I'll still cut them and glue them) and it looks like it's going to cost about $35 per thousand. I'll tell David I'll pay for one thousand of them, but there my responsibility ends. I will also expect Gale Force Winds to pay another layout fee, since this is the second change after a huge run. Nervous about how David will take the idea, but I can't help it: this order has come close to giving me a nervous fucking breakdown this week, and I'm not going to let it take any more of a toll on me. It's not worth it.

This morning I very determinedly left the house and the kids in a positive frame of mind. It's Friday, for one thing. I may be broke, the house may be a mess, but it's Friday ... and that helps. I made a point of just sitting on the couch with Kyle for a few minutes. Lately he's been feeling neglected, I think. If you asked him he'd act like he doesn't care, but then when I do sit down with him and give him my complete attention, he's so eager and responsive that I know he's been starving for it. Last night when I came rushing through the door after work, carting in all the goddamned business forms, both he and Kacie tried to talk to me about their day.  I cut them both dead. "I can't right now Honey, I'm sorry, I'm busy!" I said. It rips my heart out to be that way with them. So this morning I was deliberately funny and upbeat and lighthearted. Standing in the kitchen, I grabbed all three of them (including an unwilling Jamie, who was standing there buttering her bagel) and insisted on a "hug sandwich." I squeezed all three of them as tight as I could, kissed the tops of their heads and just loved them for a minute. They are still the most precious things in the world to me, in spite of everything. And as I was driving away, I did something silly to make Kyle and Kacie laugh. Every morning they stand there at the front window and wave goodbye to me as I drive away. Occasionally Princess Jamie joins them (if she's not on the phone), but mostly it's just Kyle and Kacie. This morning I pointed a banana at them and pretended it was a machine gun as I was driving off: the last thing I saw as I drove off was Kyle and Kacie ROARING with laughter.




October 17, 1994
Monday 11 a.m.

Sad. This is not the way I planned to spend this chilly October morning ... sitting here at my desk with Gatorade and Kleenex, answering phones and typing. I was supposed to spend this day puttering around my house, pumped up on cold pills and caffeine, making the place look nice, cooking a pot roast, greeting my children after school with Pop Tarts and cocoa. Boo hoo hoo hoo.

 

A LIST OF FORTY THREE
Wednesday, October 19, 1994

1. My new favorite oldie: "Jailhouse Rock" by Elvis Presley.

2. My cold has moved into my chest today, and I have a deep, scratchy cough.

3. The car is running OK, except that the right turn signal is starting to slow down again ... maybe because of the damp weather?

4. I am sick & tired of O.J. Simpson.

5. My candy dish is filled with little orange pumpkins and candy corn.

6. Phone hasn't rung in 20 minutes.

7. Office is too warm: I keep fiddling with the thermostat, can't get it comfortable in here, it's either too hot or too cold.

8. My software (from Reliable in California) STILL ISN'T HERE. I thought for sure today would be the day. Darn.

9. The kids are home early today, I don't know why. Early Release is usually the last Wednesday of the month. Oh well.

10. Jamie's friend Christina D. was hit by a car two weeks ago and will need two years of rehabilitation therapy.

11. Two more broken molars, on opposite ends of my mouth; they're sharp as razor blades, and my tongue is all ripped up as a result.

12. "Bring me the head of Marcia Brady." (From last night's episode of Wings.)

13. Levon Helm's voice on the radio ... "The Weight."

14. Great lunch today! - leftover pot roast and vegetables, eaten in one grateful ravenous gulp.

15. I SHOULD be doing Valerie's CB business cards, but I just don't have the oomph.

16. Worried about Ray. Why won't his mouth stop bleeding? The quilt was covered with blood this morning.

17. The latest computer problem at home: Clip Art Gallery won't run. Microsoft sent me a little disk today that will supposedly fix the problem, but I'm scared to even try.

18. Aramis.

19. Horseradish.

20. Just finished "The Door to December" by Dean Koontz ... not his most enthralling novel, but OK.

21. Jamie's new school picture: waiting for the other two to have theirs taken.

22. Kacie's check (and new camera) from the greeting card company.

23. Broken light fixture in my office.

24. Broken towel bar in the bathroom at home.

25. Still waiting for Ray to put together my hanging files in my home office.

26. I LOVE my new desk!!! God! It's beautiful!!!

27. Kacie and I need to start taking iron.

28. Mom says that the reason I keep getting upper respiratories is because I had my tonsils out when I was 24 mos. old. Thanks Mom for validating all my hypochondriac tendencies ...

29. My little niece Karen needs some warm clothes. Have the girls finished sorting through their outgrown sweaters and jeans?

30. Saw a dead cat beside the road yesterday while driving to work, and my first thought was "Sleep. Peace. Rest." I was so exhausted myself that death, briefly, looked like the ultimate cat nap ... if you'll excuse the pun.

31. The Rolling Stones are coming to town on my 37th birthday. (Think they'll stop by?)

32. I knew the answer to the trivia question this morning on KZOK (What Lennon/McCartney song did Aerosmith cover in the movie version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band?) The answer of course being "Come Together."

33. My scalp itches like crazy. God, I hope I didn't get Kyle's head lice.

34. Office is very very quiet today.

35. Desperately in need of new shoes and a new bra.

36. Bob just called. "Terri, did you just try to page me with a 1-800 number?" (No.)

37. Hallowe'en is coming up, and our house is the only Bow Lake house-with-kids that remains undecorated.

38. Polyester pants, because I'm just too fucking tired to iron.

39. My message on the Windows Marquee (on the home p.c.): Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun / But Mama / That's where the fun
is

40. Cough, cough, cough.

41. Warmish can of 7-Up sitting on my desk. Hurts to swallow: the razorblade molars scrape against the sides of my tongue when I try.

42. Bored. Sleepy. Sick.




No journal entry, but here's Jamie on her thirteenth birthday
(in our kitchen, with friend Brent Sweet)
December 9, 1994




Wednesday morning
December 21, 1994

This could very well be the last entry in this journal. I've finally had to face the fact: journal writing has become a thing of the past. Sad but true. The good news is that this journal covered the whole year of 1994 (although I didn't deliberately set out to make it that way: it just happened). The bad news, of course, is that it's one of those patchy, incomplete journals that drive me crazy. At any rate, I'm going to peck out one last entry this morning as I sit here at work, and then I'm going to put the journal away and quit allowing it to be a source of stress and guilt. God knows I have enough of that in my life at the moment, as it is. After the holidays are over, if I feel like it, I may start another notebook for 1995. Or maybe I won't. We'll see.

This day will either be very, very good or very, very awful. It's too early to tell yet. I'm running on practically no sleep at all, so the fact that I'm starting out in a fairly decent mood is nothing short of a miracle. I tried to get to sleep early last night. At 8:30 I lay down on the couch with my pillow and blanket, in front of a nice fire and a twinkling Christmas tree, ready to enjoy my favorite night of TV and drift off to slumberland ... but Ray had other ideas. He came home from his shopping trip to Target, all pumped up and goofy, and he wouldn't settle down until 10:30. When he finally did pass out, he promptly started snoring gangbusters. You could hear him all over the house, including the living room (which is where I was sleeping as always). I popped some earplugs in and tried again to fall asleep. Kacie was in the living room with me, watching her beloved "Beavis & Butthead" but she was really quiet and I didn't mind. Unfortunately, shortly after midnight I was hit by a ferocious blast of indigestion, and for the next two hours I was running back & forth to the bathroom. (I still have no idea what caused it, especially since I'm trying to stay away from alcohol completely this week. I even bought a bottle of Lancers last night on my way home from work and DIDN'T drink it when I got home! Whether or not I'll last the whole week, I don't know; I can feel my resolve beginning to waver. But I still can't figure out why I was so sick last night.) On top of everything else, I have a rotten cold and ragged cough that are making me miserable. Eventually I wound up getting about three hours of sleep, total.

I should add, however, that once I DID fall asleep, I had one of the best dreams I've ever had in my life. When it was over I woke up and just lay there, thinking "Wow!" (I fell in love with a handsome and sensitive Japanese artist, but in the end I made the noble decision to leave him to his wife and two sweet little daughters. I kissed the little girls as they lay sleeping and said, "I promise that someday I will see you again." My Japanese artist cried as my boat left the dock.)

Anyway. Whether this day turns out great or crappy depends on what my paycheck looks like, most of all. I took a $400 draw last week, ostensibly so I could do some shopping over the weekend (which I never did). Will my check be for $283? Or has the finance company gotten hold of Carleen and started a garnishment? Or has Bob decided to give everybody a bonus this year? Or is Carleen also sending petty cash and postage money? Or or or or ... ?? I have done absolutely NO Christmas shopping so far, except for ordering three cheapo calculators for the kids from the office supply place. Today is Wednesday. Christmas is on Sunday. Our big Christmas Eve party is three days away and the house still looks like it's been stirred with a stick. As of this morning, I am still not done with my Christmas cards. Enough said? This is turning into one of those Oh-my-god kind of holidays, I'm afraid, and there isn't a thing I can do about it.

Decorating has definitely been a slapdash affair this year. I set out the snowman collection early this year (before Thanksgiving), and a couple of weekends ago I taped up the Christmas cards, but other than that it's mostly been the kids who have decked the halls. I come home from work every night and they have done something new ... draped red and green paper chains from the front window, taped up old Christmas artwork around the house, set up a candle and dried flower display on thee dining room table. It's nice. And they trimmed the tree all by themselves again this year (remarkable how easy it was for me to give up THAT responsibility!). Unfortunately, the tree fell over I the middle of the night that first night after they decorated it, so they had to do it over again. (I was sound asleep on the sofa when I heard this horrible "CRAAASH!!!!" and discovered the poor little tree laying on the floor in front of the stereo.) Ray went out the next day and bought a new, sturdier tree stand, and we haven't had any problems with it since ... unless you count the day Kyle called from home and said that he found Gabby climbing up the center of it.

Jamie and I have both celebrated birthdays recently, of course. Her 13th birthday came and went with little fuss: she had two friends spend the night (Kelly & Crystal) while Kacie and Kyle were farmed out to Grandma Beeson's for the night. In lieu of a present  --  per her request  --  Ray and I gave her shopping money to buy her own present with. The next morning I drove the three girls to Southcenter so she could buy the Sonics starter jacket she's been asking for for months. My birthday was even more low-key than usual. No present from Ray this year  --  not even a card  --  but Jamie gave me a Heart CD, Kacie gave me some stuff for my hair, my mom gave me a great new forest green pants outfit, and Dad & Valerie gave me a bottle of my beloved ccc's. Happy Birthday to me.

David J. and I aren't speaking to each other, which has been a source of stress for me the past few days. I got silly on wine and made a fool out of myself on the phone with him and his girlfriend last Saturday night, and I basically haven't heard from him since. I keep thinking he's going to show up any minute and yank the computer away from me. What would I do if that happened? That computer (and the color printer) have become so important to me. I would be heartbroken if he took them away.

Oh well. I'm going to quit for now and try to get some "real" work done. Bob is on his way to the office, and I would like to look busy when he walks in.





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