Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Whine, Anyone?

Okay, look... I know the many ways in which I am fortunate. I do. Really. I know there really isn't a lot of room for me to complain about my life. But dang... sometimes a girl gets tired of being kicked! It's not that any one horrendous thing has happened. It's the multitude of little irritations eating away at my energy, patience, and joy.

I have, thus far, been somewhat insulated against the economic woes I see around me. I have a little something to fall back on. A little something worth about half what it was worth a year or so ago. But recently my ex lost his job, which means the kids' health insurance and child support stopped. We had about a one week notice before the insurance ended. That week was rearranged to get the kids into every doctors appointment we could possibly fit in. The good news is that Libby got the new glasses she needed and they both got dental updates. But the day before the insurance ran out, Patrick was using a utility knife, slipped, and pushed three quarters of the blade into the middle of his hand. Despite his understandable protestations, I have to say we were extremely lucky. He didn't slice any of the workings of the hand. How he managed to avoid that is quite beyond me. But this episode has me running scared. And really pissed off that pushing for universal health care gets you labeled a 'socialist' here. Because, you know, capitalism doesn't get everything right and socialism doesn't get everything wrong. But I digress...

My next-door neighbors have a nice fence they had custom built when they got their dog, sometime before we moved in. We arrived with the intention of fencing our yard for our own dogs. In the interest of neighborliness and disclosure, I went to speak to them before ordering my fence. They were fine with us putting up a fence, but didn't want us to use the fence that runs along the border between our properties as our fence because they had set theirs inside the property line by six inches. Actually, the choices they gave me were A) at my expense, pay to have an entire line of their fence dismantled, moved six inches, and reassembled; B) run my own fence along that portion for an additional $1200 on my bill. My fence guy (who, coincidentally, is also their fence guy) refused option A entirely citing expense, reduced fence integrity, and sheer stupidity. He didn't like option B much either. He said it's not good to have two fences right up next to each other. It makes maintenance difficult, it looks weird, and it's dumb. He suggested ending my fence at the property line and building a bridge piece to cover the gap. My neighbors didn't like the idea. They were really hung up on making the true property line obvious (although somehow this hadn't bothered them when they chose to set their fence in from the line). I feel that I should also point out that the reason they had originally set their fence in is so they didn't have to ask the former owner of my property to trim his bushes. No, seriously. That's what they said. After two or three trips next door to try to come to some acceptable agreement that would satisfy the neighbors, the fence guy, and my wallet, they said they'd talk about it and get back to me. A couple weeks later when I'd heard nothing from them, I went ahead and ordered my fence. I downgraded the type of fence to a split-rail with wire in order to afford the extra $1200 section. In the end, it is probably just as well that I have my own fence along that side, so I don't have to worry about my dogs potentially damaging their fence. But this issue ate a lot of time and energy and just left me feeling like people are essentially stupid. I mean, we both put up fences to keep our dogs in! How complicated an issue can that really be?! Plus, it's all a crap shoot anyway. Two days after our fence was installed, Luna dug out to get just a little bit closer to the dogs behind us. Sigh. I have now pounded several four foot lengths of rebar along that section of the fence.

I have been looking ahead to the summer in the hopes of registering the kids early enough to get them into the activities they want most. Libby had three camps she really was interested in: a creative writing camp, a 'forensic science' CSI-style camp, and a drama camp affiliated with her current drama troupe. This is awesome. She's never had so many interests for summer before. Plus, she has been really, really looking forward to going to Chautauqua. We have been going for a week each summer, compliments of my parents since I can't afford it. Would you care to guess the problem with all this good news? Yep, all four of these things overlap time-wise enough that she can only do one. It will almost certainly be Chautauqua. How is this possible? It just makes me feel like pulling my hair out.

Pulling my hair out is , however, out of the question. Blood tests for my rheumatologist indicated I have a thyroid condition. That would explain all the weight I've gained and not been able to get rid of. So, the idea of being both fat and bald really is just out of the question. And it looks like I will be fat for a while. I spoke to my general practitioner about the test results. Apparently, my results were somewhat borderline. To him, that's not "bad" enough. To me, having something that shows up on test results as "barely there" but to which my body reacts violently- that's pretty much my norm. So I called an endocrinologist a friend used and liked. I'm on the waiting list. Which, I suppose, is fine. I don't have health insurance, so I pay out of pocket for all my health care. And with rheumatoid arthritis, I spend a fair bit of money already. Plus, I hate the diagnosis/medication process. Actually, what I hate is going for more tests every week or so until a best guess can be made and the best medication (that I can tolerate) determined. It's expensive and exhausting. And necessary. I know that. But I don't have to like it.

My garden, which is such a source of relaxation for me, is making me tense. I had big plans for this year and I am waaaay behind. I started a bunch of seedlings before getting a dedicated seedling shelf set up. So I had them under lights set up on the kitchen counter. And a certain kitty (not to mention any names, Felix) decided that the perfect place for a nap was wedged between light and seedlings. This, if you are wondering, produces rather flat seedlings. I swear to you, they all glared at me before gasping their last breaths. But it's almost okay, because it has rained so much here I have barely been able to plant anything. And the universe seems to be having a good laugh at my expense. The times I have free are consistently rainy (such as right now). The times I am busy, such as Wednesdays from 9 til 2 when I am at my Master Gardener class, have consistently been both dry and pleasant. What gives? Meanwhile, I have boxes of plants to be planted piling up in my kitchen. Strawberries arrived this morning. But they'll have to wait. Poatoes, rhubarb, and asparagus- plus a rapidly deteriorating small supply of oca I'd hoped to try this year- are all ahead of them. And the onions. Oh, and the hop root. I don't brew beer, but my dad does. He's been trying to grow his own hops, but really has far too little light. So I thought I'd give it a shot. As a plant, hops really intrigue me. They grow insanely fast. And it's nice to have a few plants like that around to bring you up when other things in the garden aren't cooperating. The question is where to put it...

Okay, so... I feel a little better after griping for a bit. I also feel guilty. Because I have so much to be thankful for. It shouldn't be so hard to keep my focus on that. Life could be very different. For instance, Libby recently decided she'd studied world history enough this year and decided she'd like to learn about some history of more interest to her. She chose to study african genocide- a comparative study of Rwanda and Sudan. (I know, I know, what normal, healthy 14 year old wouldn't want to study genocide?) So, I've been learning along with her. And you know what, humans really and truly have got to be the stupidest species on the planet. I do not understand how, after Rwanada, the situation in Darfur could be tolerated by the global community. Are politicians required to check their balls at the door? Coincidentally, April is Genocide Prevention Month. What other species requires a month devoted to education to prevent genocide? Nope, just us. To learn more about this issue, please check out www.savedarfur.org .

Reality check? Check.

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