The waterworks edition

There have been several teary interludes in the past 24 hours.

Last night, I wrote a message to my old therapist letting her know about my move and wishing her well. I was crying a lot at the time because I’m afraid she’s dying. Even though she is roughly the same age as me, she has a very bad lung disease and is awaiting a transplant. That’s why we had to end our doctor/patient relationship: she was too sick to continue working. We had been working together for 16 years. When I first met with her I’d been suffering from panic attacks so severe I ended up in the ER. I haven’t had a panic attack in over 10 years, but I found plenty to work on with her, nonetheless. (Thanks mom and dad!)

I also said goodbye last night to the chiropractor and massage therapist who have helped me work through the kinks and twinges caused from too many hours in front of a laptop for work and pleasure.

Today I had my last appointment with the physical therapist who has helped me through two bouts of plantar fasciitis and recovery from my broken ankle (which led to the most recent PF flare). I had coffee with a colleague who I won’t be completely severed from since we’re still working for the same employer, but we likely won’t be in the same physical space together ever again.

I went to the stable today to go on what was going to be my last trail ride on the horse I’ve been share-boarding for the past several months. However, it turns out I’m going to score a bonus ride in a couple days due to the hellacious weather today. Instead, I’ll get to ride again him on the trail on Sunday as a make up.

About that weather situation…we’re having the WORST Halloween I can ever remember in the Chicago area, and I’ve lived here for more than 40 years. The high today reached 40F. We’ve had wind gusts over 50 MPH, which pushed the lake up over the beaches and onto a major thoroughfare, Lake Shore Drive. This make rush hour a nightmare for many people. (Thankfully, not for me.)

Here, just a few miles away from the lake it was not much better. It was very cold this morning and as I drove between appointments it started snowing. Yes, SNOW on October 31. Not just a few flakes, but enough to accumulate on the grass. It’s like I’m getting a final reminder about why I’m leaving: the weather here really sucks!

I had on extra layers in readiness for the trail ride with a trainer, but when I got to the stable I found that the trainer was sick with something that sounded suspiciously like my bronchitis (sorry!). With the high winds possibly making the forest preserve path dangerous (due to slippery leaf cover under foot and trees/branches blowing down), we rescheduled the ride.

Still, I had to say goodbye to the receptionist who won’t be at the desk this weekend.

Besides tears, there were lots of hugs today. The hugs definitely made up for the tears.

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Wondering what happened with the estate sale? Well, I think I did OK. I won’t know how much was made for at least another week, but I’m hoping that the amount at least covered the minimum reserve.

While Saturday was a disappointment, on Sunday a lot of stuff sold. (Sunday was also the day that prices were reduced throughout the day, pushing down the potential profit.) I was still left with a few large items, including my couch and loveseat, as well as a full-sized futon and frame that had been used in my guest room for the past year. There were also several shelving units, the compost bins, and some other gardening stuff like hoses left.

I called the removing companies recommended by the estate sale company and one of them called me back to give me the scoop on how these services work. First, they dump nearly all the items they remove in a landfill. Also, they charge by the truckload, and they want to be paid (in cash) $250 per truckload. There were at least two things I heard there that bothered me: 1) I HATE to think of perfectly useful things being dumped in a landfill; 2) I don’t like to deal with large amounts of cash; it makes me feel very vulnerable to carry that much currency on me.

So, at the suggestion of a friend I put up a few “free” posts on some message boards. One post was to the online group for Chicago chicken keepers. I know many of them are big-time gardeners, too, so I assumed one or more would want compost bins, hoses, and other gardening stuff. I also put up a post on Craigslist to give away the Tempur-pedic platform support for free. The response to both of these message was gratifying. The guy that came to pick up the Tempur-pedic platform was happy to go through the smaller items (such as dishes and end tables) left over since he was just setting up in his first apartment. Through the “chicken group” I was able to get rid of a lot more. I sorted out all the towels and sheets and took them up the street to the no-kill dog shelter, and put the clothing and remaining household goods in the resale shop drop boxes nearby. I also pulled out all the metal items and neatly stacked them in the alley for the metal recyclers who are always circling through the area like hungry raptors. When the remover got here yesterday, he only had to take away one truck load. 🙂

I also decided to take the couch and love seat with me. Even before the sale, I came to the realization that I had enough stuff that the smallest shipping container wouldn’t work for me. For long distance moves like mine, all the shipping container companies offer limited options: you can get an 8-foot long cube or a 16-foot long cube. Since I’m going to use the 16-foot cube anyway, I may as well fill it up, so the couch, loveseat, and two more small furniture items will move with me. Oh, and of course the Tempur-pedic mattress, books, clothing, yarn, cooking and preserving equipment, and about 20 pints of homemade jam. 🙂

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Now, on to the sad stuff again. I still think and worry about B. He sent me a message that first night we were parted, although I didn’t get it until the next morning due to my early bedtime. He noted that he was having trouble sleeping because he was crying so much.

Here was my response: This is very hard for me, too. You have some work to do for yourself. Please do that. Please let the wonderful man that is in[side you] out past the depression and anger.

I’ve had to message him twice since then to inform him of mail I’ve received that looked important. He responded tardily to both messages and basically told me to toss them out.

I think about calling him or texting him to see how he’s doing, and then I correct myself because that is is exactly what I should not do. He needs to do stuff for himself now. I am not responsible for him. I never was responsible for him, but I let myself be convinced I was. I know better now.

Just like old times…

For the past week I’ve been going to bed by 9 PM every night. I’ve been really sick. Last Saturday I woke up feeling like the cold I’d been dealing with earlier in the week had become monstrous, yet I had to keep executing against my aggressive moving plan, nonetheless.

A friend came over on Saturday to help me sort stuff for the estate sale, so I didn’t have to conquer the remaining mess all by myself, at least. Unfortunately, I nearly lost my voice entirely while communicating with her, though. Saturday night was rough. I had problems sleeping because I was so uncomfortable. My throat hurt, my sinuses hurt, and I was coughing a lot. When Sunday morning dawned, I got out of bed and made an assessment of the situation. I decided that my level of sickness warranted a visit to immediate care, and so after I got cleaned up I drove myself there.

The doc told me which OTC meds I should be using (hint: if it isn’t kept behind the pharmacy counter these days, it’s pretty much worthless), but also noted that since I had no fever at the time or in the history I gave the triage nurse, it wasn’t advisable to prescribe any antibiotics. Oh, and BTW I had bronchitis and it would take up to 28 days to get completely over it. I’m happy to comply with any advice that leads to less antibiotic-resistant bacteria in our world, so I thanked him for the diagnosis and proceeded immediately to a pharmacy to buy the meds he recommended.

Five days later I’m finally feeling well enough that I made it through the day without the meth-producing drugs. (I was able to revert to the wimpy stuff usually bought OTC, instead.) I am planning to go to sleep soon, though, since the 9-10 hour nights seem to be helping.

My sleeping arrangements these days are very much like they were when I first started living alone back in my twenties. Back then I slept on a futon on the floor because I couldn’t afford a regular bed with mattress or a frame for the futon. Because I’m not taking the bed frame or the platform for the Tempurpedic mattress with me across the country, my mattress is on the floor right now. (Well, technically it’s laying on a canvas drop cloth on the floor.) I’m living in the bedroom with over half my belongings in boxes piled around me.

I only have to stay this “confined” until the estate sale is completed this weekend, though, and then I can spread out a bit and leave packed boxes in other areas around the house. But I’ll still be sleeping on the floor until I finally move out of the house in a couple more weeks. Then it’s on to the next stage of the move.

Thoughts on the end of a relationship

Where did we go wrong?

Was it back in our first year together? I had some concerns that our values were different. He told me he was underwater on his condo mortgage; that he had refinanced so he could pay off credit card debt. That gave me pause because to me it indicated that he had poor financial judgement/skills. But anyone can make a mistake, so I overlooked it and just hoped he would learn from the experience.

He sold his condo on a short sale and moved in with me. I invited him to do so, although I insisted that he pay me rent. And he did for a while.

He had to leave his job. His father’s health was failing and he couldn’t handle the dysfunction at work at the same time. He became depressed and went on short term disability.

His father died. His depression worsened.

He lost his job.

He filed for unemployment.

He had problems finding a new job. (He never did find one.)

He revealed that he still had some substantial credit card debt and that he was considering filing for bankruptcy. After a lot of thought, I supported his decision to do so because I could see no other way for him to get out of the hole he was in. Also, I was thinking at this time (over a year ago) that we would move to California together in about 3-5 years; that bankruptcy would drop his credit score and his credit report would need some time to recover.

Through all of this upheaval in his life, I supported him.

I supported him financially by forgiving his rental agreement over and over again (there were months he paid me nothing, and finally at my request he scheduled a token of $25 a month), and I supported him emotionally by giving him space to work through his depression and continued unemployment.

When the Affordable Care Act kicked in, I added more complications by offering to add him to my health care plan as a domestic partner since it would cost him less than any other kind of plan. He swore he would reimburse me for it, but I knew that was unlikely. He did pay me some money after a few months, but it wasn’t nearly the amount of the true cost. And he never offered to do so again.

So, here is where things ended up:

  • He was depressed.
  • He had no regular income. In the last 8 or 9 months of our life together he got his money for daily living by draining his 403(b).
  • He was so mired in his misery that he seemed unable to provide me the love and attention I craved.

It’s the latter thing that seriously killed the relationship for me.

I had told him that to me the most important “love language” is actions: do things for me to show that you care. He did take on certain household chores regularly, but it very often seemed to be done grudgingly. Maybe it only seemed that way because of his general misery, but it nonetheless made me feel the help was given less because of love and more because he wanted to avoid nagging from me. I recall a conversation I initiated about this topic once. I asked why he seemed to resist and resent doing the things I asked of him. He answered that he thought I was giving him “busy work.” It didn’t occur to him that I *really* needed and wanted his help.

He had a significant amount of time on his hands every day, yet he never once said to me “Is there anything I can do for you today?”

He didn’t reach out and hug me spontaneously, despite me doing it to him many times and even asking for hugs at times. (Physicality and appropriate touch is another important thing to me.)

He rarely initiated sex. Maybe it was the copious amounts of SSRIs that killed his libido, or maybe (again) it was the general misery.

He was often “upset” and didn’t want to talk about it or invite me in. It seemed I was simply expected to cut him some slack because of his mood.

The sighs. The tone of voice that clearly expressed annoyance. Both of these challenged me. I tried very hard to rise above them, to ignore them, and to not escalate by responding in a similar fashion. I made an effort to modulate my tone of voice and make it neutral and non-triggering. He didn’t seem to catch on at all. I told him, calmly, how much it bothered me to be addressed in such a fashion. I asked that he not do so, and while he would usually comply when asked, he never stopped doing it regularly; it just seemed to be his natural way of responding to my comments and questions. Every time, it felt like a wound to me.

Finally, I just gave up. I stopped trying. I made up my mind to move to California this year instead of waiting. (Last year’s BRUTAL winter provided a big push, too.) I told him that with the higher cost of living and the fact that I was not getting a cost of living adjustment to my salary, I couldn’t afford to pay for him to move, too, or to pay rent on anything but a very small one bedroom apartment.

Then I lived with him like a roommate who got some bonus kisses goodnight.

Yet in the final week of our cohabitating, I still felt very sad. And on our last night together, we cried together and snuggled. Within an hour of him leaving, I was sobbing wretchedly.

Why am I sad? Is it because I am missing him or is it because I am missing having a companion in my life?

I think it is both. Inside B there is a wonderful man: creative, intelligent, sexy, and giving. I was able to see glimpses of it at times. I think what makes me most sad is that — try as I might — I couldn’t help that man emerge fully into the joyousness that is life.

I’m hoping that by returning to his family and his hometown — a place where he experienced some of the happiest times of his life — he can find that joy.

Seven boxes down

I’ve actually packed seven boxes, two totes, and four bins so far. Most of my efforts over the past few weeks have involved continuing to sort and discard rather than pack.

This house just absorbed so. much. stuff. There are built in cupboards and cabinets galore in the basement and every single one was full of something that needed to be pulled out, examined, and sorted into one of three categories: keep (and pack), discard, or sell.

Thank goodness I finally found an estate sale company that will take on the liquidation of my stuff. I was getting anxious because the first company I talked with said they wanted $1200 up front (plus 20% commission on the sales), and the second one said it wasn’t worth holding a sale. “Third time’s a charm” applied here, and when the woman finished walking through the house said she had no problem taking the project on. The idea of having to arrange for packing and pick up of all the stuff I am not bringing with me was overwhelming to me. Plus, I really wanted to shake loose some money to defray some of the moving costs.

Holding an estate sale involves some logistics planning on my part. The estate sale company will price everything and set up displays, but since I will still be living here during the sale I need to make a very clear delineation between what is being sold and what is going with me. This step may actually help me plan for the best container size, though. If I can fit everything I’m bringing in one room, then I can get by with the smallest container size. Since I’m selling the bed frame and the Tempurpedic platform base, I will need to place the mattress on the floor of my bedroom, then stack all the boxes I’ll be bringing with me in the same room and close it off for the sale.

The past few weeks I’ve also been engaged in down-sizing my freezer items. In addition to the freezer side of the refrigerator in the kitchen, I also have another full-sized refrigerator with freezer (the old ‘fridge from before the kitchen remodeling) and an upright freezer in the basement. All the freezers used to be pretty full. I have a tendency to freeze the harvest from my garden or farmers market purchases and then process it later, but I was very behind on processing stuff frozen in the past year or two. Over the past two weeks I’ve crammed in some jam-making time so I can bring this bounty with me to enjoy later, and well as pass on as parting gifts to friends.

In talking with a friend she couldn’t believe that I was spending time making jam and canning when I had so much else to do, and while it may seem silly to some people it just feels like something I need to do. The majority of the fruit I’m processing are sour cherries from my neighbor’s tree. Considering that she decided to chop the tree down this year, I am determined to not waste these last gifts from my neighbor and her tree. Plus I don’t think sour cherries are a big crop in California.

I also like the thought of transporting canning jars — a not inexpensive investment I’ve made over the years — full of yumminess rather than make the tough decision of whether I should just sell the jars at the estate sale. (Yes, some of the jars will be sold, but not all!) I hope to be done with all this canning next weekend and then I can pack my canning equipment.

So far I’ve got 25 half-pint (8 oz) jars of sour cherry jam put up, and I’m estimating that I’ll put up at least another 4 to 5 jars. There will still be a few frozen sour cherries left, but I think I’ll make those into a crisp for next weekend when I’m hosting some friends over the weekend. Then I get to move on to making at least eight to 12 half-pint jars of strawberry jam and the freezer bounty will be processed. 🙂