Summertime and the livin' is queasy

Warning: This post is not funny.

If you want funny, watch Bossy’s latest theatrical production.

This post borders on whiney. If you want something moving and sad and funny all at the same time, read this (maybe) swan song post by Bejewell.

If you must wallow in misery, well, come on in then.

So how was your Memorial Day weekend — the unofficial starting gun of summer?

While most people celebrated by hosting or attending barbecues, going to outdoor festivals or heading away to a lakefront cottage or a camping spot in the woods, we stayed home.

I could say it’s because we have so much yard work to do, it takes an entire holiday weekend and then some to get it going for the season. That would be true.  But it wouldn’t be the whole truth.

I could talk about how Girl from the East and I made a commitment  to march in our city’s Memorial Day parade, but that wouldn’t paint the whole picture, either.  I could go on about how Girl from the West spent the majority of the weekend sequestered in the basement office finishing her semester-long project, how this could not have been accomplished in a deep-woods cabin without electricity.

The missing pieces, the untold chapter in part is realizing it may be another season of restraint. See,  we are not out of the woods yet. We are not out of the hole, not by a long shot. School is over today for one child and soon will be for the other. Volunteer commitments are grinding to a slow churn for the season. Summer programs, sports and activities are not in the budget at all.

We had a big road trip planned but that is now on hold.

Things were supposed to be better this year. In small ways, they are. In bigger ways that involve dreams and fantasies and wish lists, it’s very much like last year.  We’ve had a good run of it these last few months, almost enough to pretend like everything is OK. But underneath the denial is the truth: Eighteen months ago the bottom dropped out and we free fell to the basement. We survived the fall with deep cuts. We’ve gotten this far because we say to ourselves: This is temporary; this is not our lives.

I watched the “Hoarders” marathon on A&E yesterday afternoon because a band of storms blew through the area and ended my weekend of yard work. The takeaway: after while these people get so used to their reality  they no longer realize it’s offensive to outsiders. Their extreme dysfunction becomes normal.

Now I’m not saying my life is any of those things, but it made me think: You get used to something and  before you know it IT IS YOUR LIFE. You realize you are responsible for some of the mess you are in. Maybe you are responsible for the whole damned mess. Maybe you didn’t manage your money wisely. Maybe you took some miscalculated risks with your career. And then you say: Is this the life I want? If not, can I make it OK for me? Are there aspects to this that I can view in a positive way?

I realize everyone has something big that knocks them down and from this they must learn to stand again. For some it’s the dissolution of a marriage, a devastating illness, or an early unexpected death of a loved one. For others, like us, it’s job loss and a long road to financial recovery.

I’m trying to remain positive that Girl from the West will find a part-time job to pay for some of the things she wants and to save for a car. I’m trying to remain strong that I can get through another year before Girl from the East is in school full-time and I can seek something realistic in the employment front that doesn’t require 40 hours of daycare. I’m holding out hope that the economy  will lighten up here so we both can be fully employed and rise up a few more rungs toward the light.

Sorry, were you expecting something about a cookout?


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