Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Why I Only Visit Twice a Year

Many of you are looking forward to going home to see your family during the holidays. But some of us dread the holidays. Every trip there reminds us why we moved so far away to begin with. And why we only visit twice a year. I am one of those people.

A lot of my friends, who have never met my mom, have a difficult time understanding why I say I sometimes don't like her very much. If you were to meet my mom, you would think she was a very friendly, thoughtful, fun and supportive mother. The first time CN observed me talking to her on the phone, he thought she was really nice. (He could hear what she was saying, because he was sitting next to me.) "I don't know what you're talking about! Your mom is really supportive!" he said. Gradually, as I have started to tell him the stories and the crazy things she's said to me, he's starting to see where I'm coming from.

When he came up with me last summer, she was also putting on her "nice" face. She's always nice when there's someone outside of our family nearby. That's why I like bringing friends home with me and going shopping with her -- she isn't mean to me in those situations. But when outsiders aren't around, she has a tendency to hurt my feelings. A lot.

The first thing she says to me when I get to her house is, "Well, you look like you haven't lost any weight." Not "I missed you!" or "It's good to see you!" Or even "How was your drive?" Nope. It's a perfect opportunity to make a comment about how I am too fat for her liking. This is how she likes to start off the visit. Gee, it's great to see you, too, Mom. So glad I just drove 6 hours to hear you say that, I think to myself. So I step out of the car, and am instantly on the defensive. God forbid she just be nice. As much as this bothers me, I do have a large amount of respect for my mom, and I was raised not to sass, so I have to just take it. What I'd really like to do is retort, "Gosh, and you're looking so old!!"

When I get inside, I will inevitably remember that she doesn't keep any food in the house anymore, because unlike me, her world "doesn't revolve around food." She doesn't really cook anymore, which I understand, because it's just her and my little sister. So I usually have to get back in my car and drive a half hour to the store to get something to eat. Despite the fact that she knows I don't like eggs for breakfast and I can't stand salad, this is all she ever has to eat at the house. Coincidence?

When I get back from the store, if I'm lucky, she won't see me putting the food away. If she does see me, I get to listen to her criticize my decisions. Later, if she sees me eating something she doesn't approve of, she will take it away from me. Yup, you read that correctly. Snatch it right out of my hands. I am 3 when I am at her house. This is the sort of thing that happens incessantly when I'm home. I could be anorexic, snorting coke, fired from my job and crying myself to sleep every night, but as long as I am thin, that's all she cares about. She never cares if I'm happy. Just that I'm thin.

Anyway, after that, I will clean the kitchen, change the sheets on the bed and clean the bathroom. Then, I will put up the Christmas tree, decorate it and then cook dinner.

Now, I'm not trying to sound like an ungrateful daughter, because I do think I should help out while I'm there, and I don't mind doing the Christmas tree stuff or the cooking. By no means do I expect a red carpet to be rolled out for me when I get there, but dammit, can I feel a tiny bit less like a maid and a little more like a houseguest??? (In her defense, cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom are more my idea than hers, but that's because they are always filthy and I can't use them until they are cleaned up, because it bugs me when they are dirty.) I mean, if she could just put some damn towels out for me, it would be nice. Or even actually be there when I arrive. (Sometimes she's not even home when I get there, which makes me feel like crap.)

Great holiday vacation so far, huh?

At some point during the visit, I will get a big, fat lecture. If it had an official title, it would be: "Let me tell you how you are f***ing up your life". It could be a lecture about how fat I am, how I am not good with money, how I am messing up my love life by not remaining a virgin, how badly I need to get a new job or all of the above. I know I'm not unique in receiving these lectures. Lots of moms give these lectures. I just wish she'd realize that I'm almost 30, so I have heard them each a billion times. At this point, I'm pretty numb to them. I just wish she'd leave me alone and let me get back to whatever it was I was doing when she decided it was Lecture Time.

She wants to give me a new one, I can tell. She wants to tell me she doesn't like CN and thinks I can do better. I know she thinks this. The other day, she said to me, "Well, just know that if you two get have my blessing. I think he's a very nice boy." (This translates to: He is not good enough for you. I wish you would dump him, because I think you are dating beneath yourself.) But she knows that saying that would piss me off, so she hasn't said anything. Yet. Getting serious with CN really bothers her for 2 reasons: She had no role in picking him out for me. (She would like nothing better than to set me up with some Tucker Carlson-type guy. She is a total control freak and always thinks that she knows better than I do about what makes me happy.) And also, it disproves one of her theories: No one will want to marry me if I don't lose some weight. So I know it bugs her. I know she wants to say it.

At another point in the visit, she will "forget" that Sammy likes to wander away when left to his own devices in the outdoors. This makes me panic, because I can't find him. When I realize that she is the one who "accidentally" let him out, it makes me furious. If I say anything to her, she will say, "Dogs belong outside, anyway."

This year will probably be a little different. I'm pretty sure we will have a HUGE, screaming fight. Which sucks, because it's Christmas. But right now, I am pretty hurt by one of her most recent emails. It's been about a week since she sent it to me, but I can't shake it. Which means I will still be upset about it when I go home next week. I am not very good at pretending like nothing is bothering me, which means I will say something about it. Because I have a big mouth. And I already resent her for all the other reasons I've just mentioned.

Ok, remember how I am painting my bathroom? I'm looking for the right shade of dark, purply-blue. With hot pink accents, white trim and lots of silvery, mirrored accessories. I was describing my decorating plans in an email to my mom a few days ago. Home decorating is a pretty safe, neutral topic for us to discuss. Or so I thought.

Her reply? (And I quote!) "It will look like a 1920s whore's bathroom! Love it! -- Mom"

Now, wtf is that supposed to mean? Aside from all of my mother/daughter issues, it doesn't even make any sense. Do prostitutes have a particular interior decorating preference? And if they do, how does she know what it is? Not only that, but when was the last time you ever heard someone describe a room as "whoreish"? That's not even a decorating style! It has no meaning! Unless I said I was going to use a pimp cup for a soap dish, I fail to see what reminds her of a whore house!

If you include my mother/daughter issues, there's a WHOLE other side to this email. Let me explain. According to my mother, if you have sex before marriage, you are a whore. Plain and simple. I know this is what she thinks, because when her friends' daughters have shotgun weddings or babies out of wedlock, she calls them whores. Not to their face, of course. She is not stupid as to why I am on birth control. So it's safe to assume she thinks I am also a whore. And yes, she uses that word. She is not one to sugar coat things. (I personally think she's probably being hypocritical about the whole thing, because she spent her 20s in an alcoholic stupor, passing out every weekend, so who KNOWS what she did when she was my age.)

Of course, she is not so rude as to come out and call me a whore. That would be mean and hurtful and judgemental. She will deny that she is like that until the day she dies. No, no. She phrases things in a confusing way so that she can get away with sort-of calling me a whore. Then she tacks on the "Love it!" to make it sound like she likes it, so she can confuse me. That way, I can't accuse her of actually meaning it. "But I like it! That's what I said!" she would say, if I brought it up. If I kept pressing the issue, refusing to believe that she didn't mean any harm, she will blow me off and refuse to talk about it anymore, claiming I am being too defensive or sensitive.

Which may be true. But really, when someone treats you the way that she does, can you blame me??? I think I have made a pretty good case against her behavior and how it makes me feel.

I cannot think of any other explanation for her choice of words. I mean, why would you EVER say that? Over email, no less, which she must realize has a higher chance of misinterpretation.

It used to be different, when my dad was still alive. He would call her out on stuff and tell her to knock it off. He understood where I was coming from. But now that dad's gone, there's no one to stick up for me. It's getting worse every year. My brother, Fat Dog, tries to stick up for me, but he doesn't understand why I can't just let it roll off my back. She treats my little sister the same way. Smurf must REALLY get it because it's just her and Mom most of the time. And she's only 16. She's not old enough to really see how Mom is or understand that Mom's not always right and you don't have to blindly do what she says or accept her behavior. At least at my age, I can see what she's doing. And I can move away and avoid her. Smurf doesn't have that ability.

Although I know what's going on and I am getting better about just ignoring her behavior, I don't know what exactly I can do to improve my relationship with my mom. I don't talk about it a whole lot, but it's been getting really bad lately. I know you are all like, "Talk to her!" "Write her an email explaining everything!" but it doesn't work like that. When you are dealing with a controlling and snarky person who NEVER admits that they have any bad intentions, it's impossible to get through to them. Accusing her of being cruel to me or hurting my feelings will only cause her to tell me to stop whining and being so sensitive. She will deny everything and tell me I'm misunderstanding her. And if I get her really riled up, she will get all drama-queen on me and say things like, "Well, if you really feel that way, I guess we just should never speak again!" and leave the room, which leaves me with a huge guilt trip. I mean, how the hell do you deal with someone like that???? That's not what I want! I love my mom. I just wish she would be nicer to me. For some reason, that is a lot to ask from her. I don't know what to do, so I usually just take it and never say anything. But it's building a LOT of anger and resentment inside me. And as a financially independent adult who lives 2 states away, I have the option of cutting her out of my life. Lately, I'm really liking this idea, because all she does is make me feel bad about myself. She only brings stress to my life.

I have gradually scaled back the number of visits I make to see her. I used to come up about 4 times a year. Now it's 2. I'm thinking about cutting it back to one. Or none. As sad as it is to say, I am considering not having a relationship with my mom at all. At this point, I only go home at Christmas to see my siblings. If I had my wish, she would not even be there.

I am not perfect. I make bad decisions sometimes. I know I'm sensitive. I know I need to lose weight. I know I am defensive. And she may not have meant anything in that email. But I can't ignore how she continuously makes me feel like a loser and hurts my feelings. You can't help how you feel. It just frustrates me, because she sort of robs me from expressing them. She's so caught up in proving that she's right all the time, and trying to control all my decisions, she doesn't even see how it's affecting our relationship. If I told her all of this, she would die of shock!

Thanks for letting me vent. Apparently, I didn't get it all out last night when I poured my heart out to CN and cried all my makeup off! It's really hard for me to talk about this, because it's really painful and personal. As much of an open book as I am, it is really hard for me to talk about this, even though I don't know most of you. I'm feeling a little vulnerable right now. But I'm like a volcano. I have been holding it in for so long. I just can't do it anymore. Sorry if I bummed any of you out. What's funny is that today is her birthday, and I feel really guilty for saying all this about her, even though she doesn't know I'm doing it!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Red & Green

Today, they are not only Christmas colors, but also relevant to my life.

Red -- the color of my left eye. No, I do not have pinkeye. I think I have burst some blood vessels, because I have no change in vision, pain, itching, swelling or eye crusties. And it's not getting worse or spreading. Just one half of one eye, red. Just hanging out. Every time I look in the mirror, it says to me, "Hi! Yup. Still here. Making you look like you're sick, tired, high or otherwise not a good person to stand next to! Enjoy wearing your glasses!" I'm pretty sure it's just some irritated/burst blood vessels. Which, according to my casual internet research, can happen from something as simple as a sneeze, violent coughing or vomiting. It probably happened on Tuesday night, after I barfed on the way home from the gym.

Math moment:

Lazy attitude towards exercise
random, intense trainer workout at gym
+ genetic predisposition for sensitive stomach
barfing in a parking lot.

Luckily, I picked a vacant office building parking lot, so no one had to stumble upon my barf upon arriving at work the next morning. WHEW.

Anyway, WebMD says that it should get better on its own, gradually, over the next 2 weeks. If not, it's time to see a doctor. I'm not wearing my contacts as a precaution. I'm now wearing my glasses until further notice. Which I hate doing. Oh well.

Trivia fact for you: Despite my fairly frequent and unpredictable barfing spells, CN has yet to witness me barf. He didn't know that I barfed throughout our first date until weeks later when I told him. Yeah, I'm a pro. Don't hate.

Green -- As in, the color of money. Luckily, it's not my money I am referring to.

CN has a company car, which is great. He doesn't have to pay a dime out of pocket for anything car-related, including gas. Don't you just hate him? I know, me too. Because it's not his car, he has to take it to company-approved mechanics, because they have special agreements worked out with them. One of these companies is Jiffy Lube. Or, as I like to call it, Stiffy Rube. Because they are full of idiots who rip you off. Or idiots who make you take it up the ass. I will let you choose your own definition, depending on your level of pervertedness.

Hopefully, I am not offending any of you by saying this, but in my experience, Jiffy Lube hires only the most supreme morons of America. Their last straw with me was when I got an oil change, and they forgot to put the cap back on. During my drive from NC to Virginia, I started noticing something leaking from the engine up to my windshield. When my wipers failed to remove it, I pulled over to find a coating of motor oil all over my car. It was also all over my engine, and it was beginning to burn, which if you have never smelled, is not exactly anything close to Chanel No. 5. I still had about 3 hours of travel time left, and had to just deal with it until I got to The Czarina's and pay $100 to have my engine power washed. Grrrrr...

Anyway, despite my Tales of Horror and Warning Concerning Jiffy Lube, CN always gets his oil changed there -- it's one of the company approved places. It's right by our house and one of his favorite dive bars. He usually goes to the bar for a beer and pizza or to watch a game while he waits. This is what he did on Friday afternoon.

While he was enjoying his beer and pizza, the friggin idiots over at Jiffy Lube were getting a lesson in car lifts: DO NOT lift a car by anything other than pre-approved, sturdy areas of the under carriage. This is because the other areas are not meant to bear the weight of a vehicle, you frigging numb nuts who apparently flunked out of mechanic school.

When CN picked up his car, they inform him that they "had some difficulty" in removing the tires (I think he got a tire rotation, too) and didn't rotate them because of that. CN was like, "Ok, whatever," and proceeded to get into the car to get it back home. One the way home, he realizes that something is very wrong. Despite normal steering activity and decision-making skills on the part of the driver, the car wants to turn sideways, especially when the brake is applied. You can imagine how fun this is when you approach a stoplight, or say, oncoming traffic. It gives bumper cars a whole new meaning. At worst, you could die in a T-Bone collision. At best, you look like you're doing some pretty cool 180s. In traffic.

So, to sum up, Jiffy Lube is full of dipshits who are taking *no* responsibility for this, CN's car is now at a better mechanic, getting worked on. But it's so jacked up that he may actually end up getting a new company car. THAT is how much they jacked up his car. (His car is only a year old.)

While it's no skin off his nose, because he doesn't have to pay for it, CN is finally hating JackAss Lube as much as I am. File this under: "I Told You So".

Ok, I will share The Czarina's latest exploit with you in the next post. Promise. It's time to go home, and that is a post which will take some careful wording.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

2nd Post for Today -- I Need Your Help!

CN has a super good idea for what to get for his mom for Christmas. She has a new dishwasher, but hasn't actually hooked it up yet, due to her being so busy with stuff. So he's going to pay for a guy to go over to her house and hook it up for her. I think this is a super awesome idea, because she would never get around to it, and even if she did, she would probably talk herself out of paying for it, especially now that she lost her job. You see, the poor woman has never had a dishwasher, so she's already so used to washing it all by hand, anyway. (I really need to tell y'all about her kitchen issues...remind me.)

I'm getting off-track.

As awesome of an idea as this is, and as easily as the idea occurred to him, he is totally baffled as to what to get for his dad. And I am no help. What do you get for a guy who is too weak to get out of bed? He can't hold anything in his hands, because his nerve endings are all shot. All he does is eat, sleep and watch TV. He's too sick and tired to do anything else. Now that hospice is involved, we know he doesn't have a lot of time left. And CN already got him a bunch of DVDs for his birthday.

So we are stumped.

I have looked on the internet for ideas, and a lot of people say it's good to give terminally ill people sentimental things, like photo albums. Other people suggest everyone write down what the person means to them and tell them what you would normally not say until you're at their funeral. Most people recommend "just quality time to talk to them and tell them how much you love them".

Well, CN's family isn't very sentimental or touchy-feely. That would just be weird and awkward. So that sort of thing is out. Which I'm kind of glad about, because watching that go down would be so depressing and it would probably make CN's mom cry. Which would make me cry. Which would be a really sucky Christmas.

I was thinking maybe some gourmet food would be good, or just a bunch of homemade yummies, like cookies or snacks. That's about all the enjoyment he has left now.

Can anyone think of anything better than that?

Ugh. I am depressed now, just thinking about this. I remember the last Christmas we had with my dad. We had Christmas in the hospital. It was the most depressing day of my life. In a lot of ways, it was worse than his funeral. Because if you are too sick to be home for Christmas, you are really sick. Like, dying sick. And all the nurses look at you with pity, because they know what's coming. It sucks.

On that note, if you know anyone who is in the hospital during the holidays, please visit them. It is miserable to be there at that time, even if it's not a serious illness.

Crap. This post is really sad. Sorry, guys. Read the next one (the one from earlier today). It's more upbeat.

Tomorrow will be good and bitchy! My mom really pissed me off this week, so I have lots to vent about! Stay tuned!

All I Want for Christmas for people to just get me what I ask for.

CN and MJ have both asked for ideas about what to get me for Christmas.

So I rattle off my list:

*a gift certificate to one of the following places:

-- Best Buy (I want to get a big, fat iPod)
-- Lowe's or Home Depot
-- Z Gallerie (LOVE their stuff)
-- Bed, Bath & Beyond
-- Victoria's Secret (I need new bras)

*Christmas decorations (I will never buy them myself! Not when I could buy more shoes! Duh!)

* Jewelry from Banana Republic (I adore about 95% of all their jewelry) or this one line at Dillard's that I like

* this kick ass wallet I want in my favorite color (it is more money than I'd spend on myself)

* anything related to Indiana University (tshirts, sweatshirts, etc)

* some of my favorite coffee from Jittery Joe's (again, I would never spend this much on coffee for myself)

MJ's response?

"Those are all lame. I will come up with something better."

CN's response?

"MJ's right. You have totally lame ideas."

WTF, people??! Last time I checked, I think I know what I want for Christmas.

Maybe they are just trying to trick me. Throw me off so I don't assume I'm getting something from my list.

Or maybe they are just hatin' because I finished the majority of my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving. :)

Luckily, my siblings have no problem with my list. They are obedient givers, who appreciate the simplicity of what I ask for. So I am expecting lots of gift cards. Yippee!!!!

Whoever said it is better to give than to receive must have had friends who didn't accept their wishlist.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Determined to Decorate

Before I get into this post, I have a sad update for y'all. When CN and I went to his parents' house for Thanksgiving, we found out that CN's mom was laid off from her job. She works for a company that supplies automobile parts to Ford, so it was not a big shocker to hear that her employer was cutting back.

As crappy as this is, it isn't as bad as it could be. She still has benefits and they will pay her half her salary for 11 months. Supplemented with unemployment benefits, they will be fine, for the most part. The good news is, they have no debt -- their house is paid off, their cars are paid off and (like CN) they have no credit cards. So financially, it's not like they're up shit's creek. She's going to take care of her hubs for a while, and look for a job later.

One of the things that is actually good about all of this is that now CN's mom can stay home all day to take care of her husband. Until now, she has been paying through the nose for a nurse to stay with him all day. And CN's dad obviously likes this a lot better. So in one way, they will save money because of this.

I tell ya, this economy is starting to hit home, and it's kinda scary. It just really sucks to hear something like this happen to a family that already has a lot on their plate. I wish there was something I could do for them.

Alright, on to something cheerier.

When E moved out, I realized that I am too old and set in my ways to deal with having a roommate again. I don't care how wonderful they are, it's not worth the money. I do NOT want a roommate ever again. The way I look at it, this might be the last year I get to live alone in my own house (knock on wood!), so I want to enjoy it.

A good way for me to move on from the whole E situation and really get to feeling like my house is my house and no one else's is to decorate her old bedroom and bath so they can be livable and usable for me. Right now, I'm not really using them. They are both empty, blank canvases -- they are exactly as they were the day I moved in. So I am really excited to do something with them. I'm going to make them pretty girly, since that kind of decorating won't fly when I have to start accommodating my tastes for CN. He's not much for anything with ruffles, you know. So this is my last chance to live it up and do things my way. EEK! I can't wait!

I'm going to turn the bedroom into an office/guest bedroom combo. So that means I will need to buy a day bed or sleeper sofa. Something to that effect. CN had the brilliant idea (he is full of brilliant ideas) to have the day bed/sleeper sofa also serve as a reading spot for me -- so I will put some books and a reading lamp in there, too. As for the office aspect of it, I already have a desk I can use, so I just need something where I can store my various files and projects and office supplies.

I was originally going to do a black & white color palette, because I really like how graphic and bold those colors can be. Plus, it's easy to find a ton of things to decorate with -- black & white photography, for example. Everything goes with black and white! It's also gender-neutral, which is good for a guest bedroom. But then I realized that a black & white room will not mesh well with the rest of my house, which is full of calm, soothing pastel colors. It's really important to me for my house to flow from one room to the next. Since the bedroom opens into my icy blue living room, I think the starkness of black and white will look weird. So I have scrapped this idea.

I want the bedroom to feel serene, so that house guests can relax and so that I can read or focus on my little projects I'm always fooling with. A pastel palette will accomplish this, and it won't clash with the rest of my house. Then, I remembered an article I had read in a magazine that had gorgeous colors in it: pale aqua, light lime, dusty blueberry, lots of white and a deep violet-blue. Perfect! It's so me. So calming and refreshing. I love it! Here's a link to the article so you can see what I'm talking about. This will look much better next to my icy blue living room.

I want the bathroom, which pretty much serves as my guest bathroom, since it's off the living room and attached to this empty bedroom, to be very dramatic and glamorous. I'm going to paint the walls this color. Only darker -- like a purply-navy. A very deep, rich jewel tone (it will flow with the bedroom, because the same color will be the accent in the bedroom). Here's a virtual room I painted online, which shows you kind of how it will look:

This isn't exactly the color, but it's pretty close. There aren't any windows in the bathroom, but since I don't really use it, it's not like I have to worry about good lighting anyway. I'm planning on keeping the trim, shower curtain and towels white, so that should be enough to prevent it from looking like a cave. I'm going to play it up with mirrored/silver things and a splash of bright, rosy pink. Kind of a bubblegum/watermelon pink.

If you think this sounds gross, just trust me. I can picture it perfectly in my head. It will end up being the only dramatic/richly colored room in my house. Something a little different. The rest of my house is fairly pastel and calming. At the same time, the colors will mesh well with the rest of my house.

There are only 2 things stopping me from creating my two beautiful rooms:

1. I don't really have any money right now. It might have to wait until after the holidays. Bummer, right?
2. I am notorious for never finishing projects. And few things look stupider than a half-decorated room. I really have to make myself finish something, for once. Or at least get it functional.

This should be fun! I haven't really done a lot of decorating on my own before, so I'm pretty stoked. And CN and MJ are also excited, because this means I'm finally off my genealogy kick!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Familiarity Breeds Contempt, Part 2

Let's see, where were we? Oh, yes. I have my intervention talk with E.

I told her I do not understand why she doesn't move home, back to Minnesota. She misses her family so much. She's really close to them. She doesn't own a house, she hates her job anyway, she doesn't have any money...if I were in her shoes, I'd pack up and stay with my mom until I got my act together. Maybe go back to school. Away from all the bars. I told her I don't understand why she won't leave her job, where she is overworked and underpaid, and now working with her ex-boyfriend AND his entire family, who never liked her and are mean to her. I mean, there literally is no good reason to stay at that job. Everything is so obvious to me, but she just sort of agrees and then makes excuses for why she can't change anything in her life. None of her arguments have any merit. I swear, she is determined to stay miserable!

I almost laughed when she said, "You know, it's so funny that you are telling me all of this. Almost like an intervention. W even said the same thing to me the other day. She said, 'I feel like I need to stage an intervention with you, E.' Funny, right?"

I swear, there could be giant, flashing signs in front of her face, and she would not even see them.

If two people who know you well are both saying the same thing, what does that tell you???

I am pretty surprised W never told me what living with E was like. She never gave me a heads up or hinted at anything. So when E began to do things like sleepwalk and handwash the dishes in the middle of the night, in a totally dark kitchen, I had to figure things out by myself. And E's most recent ex, B, also never gave me any indication that he was dealing with the same kind of wackiness I was, although I'm sure he must have. I can only imagine the long list of crazy experiences we have witnessed individually. It is pretty amazing, though, that neither of them have ever approached me to talk about E's antics. I wonder if W and B just have more patience than I do. Or if they were both relieved that she was living with me instead of them, so they kept their mouths shut. Can't say that I blame them.

So back to the intervention conversation with E. As she went on about her problems, I began to understand what was really going on. After telling her how worried I was and how abnormal her behavior was, I told her that she might want to think about getting a shrink or some kind of professional help, in addition to rehab. She told me that she used to go to a shrink, but that she stopped going.

Knowing she has pretty good health insurance and loves nothing better than to whine about her problems, I asked her why.

"Because he told me I'm bi-polar, and I know that's not true."

OMG. Lightbulb. As soon as she said this, it all made sense! The insomnia, followed by sleeping straight for 3 days. The anti-depressants (to counter-act her "down") combined with the Adderol (to counter-act her mania). The impulse shopping. The sad, weepy days where she would be totally bummed. Followed by days where she was in a fantastic mood. Yet nothing in her life had even changed.

Being a librarian, I decided to do some research and looked in the DSM-IV, one of my favorite books ever, because you can diagnose your friends, your family and yourself with mental disorders (you think I'm joking, but I'm not. It really is fun. And we are ALL in there, trust me. I'm in there at least twice.). Well, it turns out that E could be the poster child for Bi-Polar Disorder.

Negative thinking that stops you from making decisions? Check.
Self-medication with alcohol? Check.
Loss of appetite? Check. (The girl never eats, I swear.)
Problems concentrating? Check.
Bouts of rage? Check. (She can blow up at the drop of a hat sometimes -- she's one of those girlfriends who makes a mountain out of a mole hill, a source of lots of relationship problems for her.)

At this point, there is very little doubt in my mind that E is bi-polar. But I also know she's in a deep denial about this, which is something no one can help her with. So as irritated as I am with her, I am also worried about her and feeling pity towards her. She is so unhappy. Her life is a trainwreck.

Now, I don't know if her bi-polar disorder is responsible for her need to re-organize all of her worldly posessions twice a week, or her obsessive stalking of her ex, or her abily to dwell on things until the cows come home. Or her innate ability to call me at the worst possible times. All I know is that she needs help. And that I'm glad she's out of my house.

Which are some pretty bad mixed feelings. I'm sitting at the intersection of Guilt Street and Annoyance Avenue, a very odd place to be. You see, I have so much pity for the girl. Her sister died at age 30 of breast cancer, and E was very close to her. E got tested and found out that she also has that breast cancer gene, which means she has an 80% chance of getting breast cancer. So to prevent this, E had a voluntary double mastectomy. Which totally sucks. And I just feel so guilty bitching about her. For a long time, I kept giving her the benefit of the doubt. My internal dialogue went like this: "Well, I'm sure I would be a basketcase, too, if my sister died that young and I might die of the same thing, causing me to volunteer to remove my boobs." (This health concern did not stop her from smoking like a chimney, btw. Another example of her great decision-making skills.)

But after a while, this argument couldn't justify her irritating habits or soothe my frazzled nerves. I began to divorce my worries and pity about her health from my resentment towards her. I compartmentalized these emotions. My internal dialogue turned into: "Well, I lost my brother and my dad in the same calendar year, and I don't feel the need to ruin other people's lunches or drone on and on about what an asshole my ex is."

And I grew weary of her. Exhausted, even. Encounters with her, which used to be friendly and exciting, were now dreadful and redundant, not to mention absurdly pathetic. I'm afraid I didn't do a very good job at concealing my joy when she told me she was moving out. I couldn't wait, to be honest.

The day her new boyfriend came to load up her stuff, I was in an excellent mood, I must say. I even smiled as I watched them load up the truck. I even offered to help. :D

Almost as a final parting gift from E, I have had to deal with The Table Incident. Let me explain:

When E moved in, she brought with her a HUGE, gorgeous kitchen table, with four chairs, all painted a glossy white. It looked like it was designed for my house, it went so well with my living/dining area. I love big tables, where I can spread out with books or projects. That table almost made living with E worth it.

So I was ecstatic when she told me she was moving out BUT was leaving the tables and chairs with me until further notice. She didn't need them at her new place, which was fully furnished. This was fabulous news.

A couple weeks later, E moved out. Not in the traditional sense of the word, in that all of your stuff is now at a new location and you no longer reside at your previous home. No, no. Not with E. For her, moving out takes a solid month. Which was, like most things E does, annoying as shit to me. I also happen to consider taking your sweet time to move out of someone's house to be fairly rude. But that's just my personal opinion. By that point, I just wanted her OUT OUT OUT. And all she did was drag, drag, drag her ass. So instead of having my house all to myself, I had to deal with random phone calls during that time: "Hey, I am coming over tonight to get some more stuff, ok?"

Most of you are thinking, "So, what's the big deal? You can just be conveniently not there when she comes over."

Oh, but I can't. Because E seemed to have a difficult time remembering what was hers and what is mine. She walked off with my George Foreman grill, after I told her which one was mine. In an admittedly childish retaliation, I hid her pizza stone until she brought it back. And she also managed to take one of my trashcans, which is only mildly irritating. If she managed to get anything else, I haven't noticed. But my point is, I had to be around to watch her move all her stuff out. Argh.

Finally, after weeks of this crap, she had moved all her stuff out. She also conveniently forgot to clean her bathroom or her bedroom, which were both filthy. Whatever. I certainly was not going to invite her back to clean them.

Breathing a deep sigh of relief, I thought I was free of her until further notice. I was enjoying the table and chairs so much, I was beginning to forgive her of all of her pain-in-the-ass ways.

But of course, nothing is ever really finished with E. She obsesses and dwells and changes her mind as often as she opens her mouth.

A couple of weeks after she had moved out, she called me to tell me she had changed her mind about the table and chairs. She was coming by to get them after work on Friday.

Leaving me with no table or chairs.

After she had told me 3 times that I could keep them until further notice.

Maybe I was overreacting. Maybe it was just the straw that broke the camel's back. It also could have been PMS. But I was royally pissed off about this and bitched about it incessantly for the entire weekend. Ask CN. He was sick to death of hearing about it, poor guy.

"What are you going to do if she calls you in a couple of weeks to tell you she wants to keep them at your house again?" he asked me.

"I'm going to tell her that if they come back in, they are mine forever," I said. "And if she remembers that she left her computer monitor here, I'm going to tell her I haven't seen it. I'm sick of playing Little Miss Nice Guy. I am having an E-botomy. She's being removed from my life. No more phone calls. No more hanging out. I do not care to ever talk to her again, to be honest. She drives me nuts."

"She left her computer monitor? Can I have it?" he asked.

"Consider it yours," I replied, happy to be 100% E-free at long last.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Familiarity Breeds Contempt, Part I

Alright, so far, I am seeing choice #4 pop up in the votes the most, so today I will discuss the roommate issue a little bit more. In case you are scratching your head right now, E moved out the weekend of theory. (You'll see what I mean in Part II)

Now, I know I have familiarized you with E and her antics before. But I haven't really given you the whole story. So here we go.

I met E several years ago, through my friend W. At the time, they were roommates-- E rented from W. Every so often, we would all get together, so I knew E well enough to like her, but let me tell you, you never REALLY know someone until you live with them.

When W's boyfriend moved into her condo, which is pretty small, E began to feel like three was a crowd. And really, with a boyfriend around, I think most single girls would feel they were a third wheel. So I understood her feelings of discomfort and interest in moving out. Coincidentally, at the time, my old roommate K (who is a WHOLE other story which I won't get into right now) had moved out, and my extra bedroom was empty. So I invited E to move in with me.

That's when I got what I should have seen as Red Flag #1: "Oh, I would love to, but I'm really broke and I wouldn't be able to pay you a whole lot of rent, so I would feel bad doing that to you," E explained. I told her that since we were friends, I would cut her a deal, no problem. At that point, I needed the rent money. ANY rent money.

"Ok, well, how about you pay me $350 per month?" I offered. Where I live, this is a really good rent price, especially for living in a house, rather than an apartment.

"That's more than I'm paying now. I really can't afford to pay more than $230 per month," she replied.

Since I was really just wanted ANY extra money, I said ok. "You are a sucker," CN told me. I told him that we are friends, and I would feel bad if I charged her a price that broke her bank.

"$230 doesn't break anyone's bank, unless they are on welfare," he replied.

A little voice in the back of my head told me he was right, but I decided to ignore it. While E doesn't have a college degree (she dropped out), she does make a decent living working for a health benefits company. I don't know how much exactly, but she probably makes around $30,000-35,000. Looking back on it now, I do kind of feel like a sucker. When I made that amount of money, I was paying $500/month in rent.

Not long after E moved in, I began to learn more about her financial situation. With around $20,000 in credit card debt and an upside-down car loan, she was on the verge of filing for bankruptcy. Suddenly, her low rent request made a lot more sense to me. I told her to let me know if things got even worse and if she needed extra time to pay rent, or some other kind of help. She was my friend, after all.

Then, I started noticing the shopping. And I'm not talking about hitting big annual sales or Target or even Walmart shopping. E would buy brand new Coach purses. And not the little ones -- the BIG ones. She would justify the purchases by using $25 coupons she received in the mail for being a loyal Coach customer. "It's such a good deal! How can I not do it?" she would exclaim, showing off her new purchase. Then there were the matching shoes that had to be purchased to go with the purse. And if there was a party or an event coming up? She had to buy a new outfit. Often from places like Banana Republic or J.Crew. If nothing else, E is a well-heeled girl. I have to give her some props -- she's a fantastic dresser. But really, at what cost?

This was from the girl who swears she cannot afford to pay me more than $230/month in rent.

Then, there was her car. It was only about 2 years old, and it was a big, gas-guzzling SUV. It was newer and more expensive than my car. I am not saying that I am envious of her, because as you will soon see, that is the last thing I feel towards E. I'm just stating this as evidence of how outside of her means this girl lives. I make more money than E does, and my used car cost only $8,000. Hers was around $25,000. She eventually managed to trade it in and get a new car loan at a slightly lower interest rate. I thought this was a great idea, until she brought home her new car. It was a brand new, $25,000 car. "My payments are a little lower now. And it's much better on gas," she explained.

Is this girl for real???

Now, is it just me, or does it seem pretty stupid for someone in her financial situation to live this kind of lifestyle? I mean, it's a no-brainer, really. But wait -- it gets better.

One day, we were talking about her precarious financial situation. I managed to, in a round-about-way, aske her how in the holy fuck she got into this mess to begin with. Her explanation? Her ex-boyfriend from several years back, who we are pretty sure is a drug dealer (oh yes, she picks some real winners), showered her with luxurious gifts for so long (these were guilt presents, because he was cheating on her left and right) that she got used to them, and just can't seem to go back to anything less.

Are. You. Freaking. Kidding. Me.

I asked her what kinds of things he had bought her before he ripped out her heart and stomped on it. (Side note: It was a pretty shitty breakup -- he basically kicked her out of his apartment to make room for the new girlfriend, who he'd been cheating on her with. Yeah, he was a really great guy.) He had purchased for her: several Coach bags, shoes, perfume, a Rolex and (drumroll please) a Louis Vuitton purse. As in, a real one, NOT a knock-off from Canal Street or someone's car trunk.

Call me crazy, but if I was broke as shit, drowning in debt, and I had a bunch of junk that some asshole had bought for me with drug money to ease his guilt over cheating on me, I would sell that crap on eBay so fast it would make your head spin. But does she do that? No. She'd rather wear her Rolex every day, a constant reminder of not only a miserably failed relationship, but also her poor decision making skills. What the hell is this girl on, anyway?

Well, for starters, alcohol. Now, we all know that I don't drink anymore, so I am a little out of the loop, but I'm pretty sure it's not really very acceptable to drink beer on your lunch break. But this didn't stop E. I would come home at lunch to find one empty beer can in the trash, and a fresh one in her hand. Sometimes, she would get drunk on margaritas at lunch and go back to work. Yeah. I'm sure you're not surprised to hear this, but she also would drink heavily at night and on the weekends. In addition to knocking out a case of beer every week at home (an amount I already think is kind of a lot), she would go out at least 2 times during the week and every Friday and Saturday--drinking for about 5 hours straight. Now, E is a fun girl, I will give her that. But I also think a lot of fun people are alcoholics, and she's one of them. Not only was her safety impacted by her drinking (she would drive drunk if no one would was around to take her home and she came thisclose to getting busted for an open container once), but so was her budget and her job. She called in sick several times due to a hangover. I know a lot of people do this, but she would do it about once or twice a month. That's a lot.

In addition to the alcohol, E was also on a cocktail of pills. She's a Heath Ledger waiting to happen: anti-depressants, Xanax, Ambien and Adderoll were all put into her body every day. This is in addition to all the alcohol, any over the counter painkillers she would take, and if she was sick, antibiotics. She admitted to doctor shopping, especially when one of them would not refill her prescriptions.

As you can imagine, anytime her behavior became strange or erratic, I just assumed it was from all the chemicals she had swimming around in her body. Or an eccentric personality. After a while, I grew accustomed to her insomnia, her weekend sleep-a-thons, her drunken antics, her Ambien-induced sleepwalking, and her passing out in the bathtub. What, I never told that story? I can't believe I never told that one. I was probably trying to protect her by not spilling her personal life on this blog. But at this point, I doubt I will lose any sleep over it. If anything, I'm hoping this will serve as a warning to anyone using or thinking about using Ambien. The drug is evil, I tell you.

A few times, E would come home drunk, take her Ambien and watch TV in her bed. I have learned that drunk people need everything to be louder than sober people do, so several times I would wake up to the sound of her TV or music coming from her room. Knocking on her door, yelling her name and even shaking her did not wake her up. A couple of times, she was so PTFO that I thought about calling 911. She was seriously dead to the world. If there had been a fire, she would have burned alive. No joke. So I would eventually just give up, turn the TV or music off myself, and go back to bed.

This wasn't a huge deal, but it started to scare me as time went on. More than once, I would wake up in the morning to find that the oven had been on all night. E had gone out, gotten drunk, come home to make a frozen pizza, and then PTFO on her Ambien before turning the oven off. I was really starting to get worried, but always hoped it would be the last time.

The last straw came with The Bathtub Incident. One night, I was awakened by the sound of music coming from her bathroom. At this point, it was normal for her to be up all night, re-organizing her room as she often did when she had bouts of insomnia. I was annoyed, but I knew she hadn't woken me up on purpose, so I walked over to ask her to turn her music down. I knocked on the door. No answer. I yelled her name. No answer. Thinking she had passed out in her bed, I went into her room -- she was not there. She had to be in the bathroom. I peeked around the corner to look into her bathroom. She was passed out in the bathtub, with water up to her chest. I was panicked, and sort of froze for a minute, because what do you do? All I could think was, "What the fuck? I am so pissed at her for putting me in this situation. This is so fucking awkward and scary. At worst, she could drown. At best, I have to go in there and drag my wet, naked roommate out of the tub, which is very awkward!!"

So I went in and shook the crap out of her until she woke up long enough to mumble that she was fine. Then she passed right back out. I seriously didn't know what to do. She was too heavy and slippery for me to pick her up, because I tried. I was really furious that I even had to deal with this at 3am. I was starting to feel like her babysitter, and I was really just OVER IT. Looking back on it, I should have let the water out of the tub, but it didn't occur to me in my half-asleep stupor. I was just pissed. I took a good look at the depth of the water and realized that she was too tall to slip under it. (E is about 5' 9") At the time, that was good enough for me. I figured the water would eventually get cold enough that it would wake her up and she would get out. So I turned the music down and went back to bed.

When I woke up the next morning, I totally panicked, because HOLY SHIT, I just left her there??? What the hell was I thinking??? I felt horrible. But I am a deep sleeper, and not the clearest thinker in the middle of the night. I still can't believe I did that, and I shudder to think of what could have happened. But at the time, I thought I had made a good decision. Stupid, I know. I feel really bad about that. Anyway, so I ran to her room and I saw that she was safe in her bed--WHEW. I didn't even tell her about it until several weeks later, because it was just so awkward, and I was so pissed about it, I didn't want to bring it up.

This, along with the random guy she left at my house, were major turning points in our relationship. I began to really resent her and grow very annoyed with her. Little things that hadn't bothered me before started to drive me up the wall. For example, every morning, she would ask me if her outfit looked ok. It always did, because she has the most gorgeous wardrobe you've ever seen, and thanks to the Adderoll, she's as thin as a rail. I am not nearly as good of a dresser as she, so it never made sense to me why she'd even ask for my opinion in the first place. After the Bathtub Incident, this little morning routine began to drive me insane. It began to feel like she just wanted to show off her clothes to me. As if that wasn't bad enough, I swear she began turning her iPod up more loudly, and she listened to the SAME four songs every morning. And she has really bad taste in music. For weeks, I had to listen to "Please don't stop the music please don't stop the music please don't stop the music!!" (that Rihanna song) at 67 decibels.

As if the morning wasn't bad enough, lunch breaks were even worse. When I go home for lunch every day, I like to read or watch "What Not to Wear". I don't mind a little small talk or gossip, but if E took her lunch at the same time, she would basically hijack my lunch time. E would often change outfits at lunch, so I would have to go through the whole outfit-approval discussion again. And instead of making small talk and letting me get back to my meal/book/tv show, she would use lunch breaks as an opportunity to inform me on one of the following topics:

OMG, You Won't Believe What Someone Did to Me!
My Ex-Boyfriend is an Asshole and You Won't Believe What He is Doing Now! (aka OMG, You Won't Believe What a Stalker I Am!)
OMG, I Hate My Job
OMG, My Boyfriend is Such an Asshole (Side note: he wasn't. He's actually a great guy. Who gave her the boot a few months ago, because he also grew tired of her crap.)

As you can probably gather from this list of topics, E has a tendency to be a martyr and dwell on things. She's a little obsessive about how people have wronged her. A lot of the time, like with her ex, she's right -- the guy is a total fucking jerk. But they broke up FOUR YEARS AGO. LET. IT. GO. She still, as far as I know, stalks his girlfriend on myspace, drives by their apartment, looks for his car when she goes out, etc. A lot of girls have done these things, including yours truly, but for FOUR years???? Good grief, Charlie Brown!

All of E's Martyr Talks got really old after a while. I just wanted to eat my sandwich and watch my show and be left alone. I did not go home for lunch to play therapist. To the same patient. With the same issues. Every day. Not surprisingly, she never took any of my (basic and obvious) advice anyway, which only irritated me further. It's like she is hell bent on making her life as difficult and emotionally upheaving as possible. I don't get it. So I began to take my lunch breaks very early, to avoid seeing her. She rarely went to lunch before noon, and never went back to work before 2pm (yeah, her job is another story!) . I have found that simply avoiding her works very well. I haven't had to watch The E Show in a very long time. (You know anyone like that? Every time they talk to you, it's all about them? Never about you? That's E in a nutshell.)

For a while, the nights and weekends were great -- she would be at her boyfriend's house, and I would be free of her. But as I said a little bit ago, several months ago, he apparently grew tired of her, too, and dumped her. So then she was suddenly at home all the time. When she started dating the guy she's currently with, I thought, "Great! Now she can start sleeping over at his house!" -- but I had no such luck. She managed to start dating a 33 year old guy who still lived with his parents. Not that he doesn't have any money -- he owns 3 cars. But I guess he still wants mommy to do his laundry. WTF.

So he started sleeping over all the time, which led to their shower antics and that time I kicked him out, etc--I have already told you about those things. He only made things worse.

One day, not too long before she moved out, I broke down and told E everything -- I went on and on and on. I talked about The Bathtub Incident, kicking her new guy out of the house, how she left the oven on all the time, how tired I was of getting up at night to turn things off, how she drove drunk, how absurdly she managed her money, how silly it was for her to obsess over her ex, how smoking cigarettes wasn't a good idea considering how much cancer ran in her family, how I was worried about her -- I went on and on and on, for about 30 minutes. I ended it with, "I am really worried about you and I think you need to think about going to rehab."

Know what her response was?

"OMG. You're right. I really need to stop taking Ambien. I will talk to my doctor and switch to something else."

When I started to tell her that wasn't really what I meant, she jumped in with,

"I am such a burden to you. It is so good that I'm moving out soon. I feel terrible. Don't worry. I will be gone soon. I am so sorry."

I guess some people just don't get it.

Stay tuned for Part II.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. Be thankful you have a better head on your shoulders than my ex-roommate.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Now Taking Requests

I know things have been a little ho-hum around this blog lately. But never fear, dear readers, as I have a fun post today.

No, nothing really exciting happened. Unless you count the fact that I got out of going to The Czarina's for Thanksgiving. (YESSSSSSSS!!!, complete with a victory arm thrust) I was originally going to go up, because my most favoritest aunt was coming, too. But it turns out that she can't go, and since The Czarina feels guilty when I come home for Thanksgiving, she told me not to worry about driving up.

Gee, twist my arm.

I was really looking forward to your repeated and nagging comments about how fat I am. Or your oh-so-subtle digs implying I could find a better boyfriend. Or remind me of how miserable I am in my job. Because what are the holidays for, if not to make you feel bad about yourself? As much as I'd love to have a big plate, piled high with thick slabs of passive aggresiveness, steamed repressed emotions, a side of control freak stuffing, some you-are-a-fuck-up casserole and a glob of smashed happiness, smothered in guilt gravy and sprinkled with denial and delusion, I think I'll pass.

I swear to God, I love my mother. Just not these last few weeks. This bitterness is a temporary phase. I will go back to loving her shortly. Hopefully, before Christmas. That would be nice.

She feels like Thanksgiving weekend is too short of a time to drive 6 hours each way. "I know that I would not want to drive 6 hours to see you, only to turn around basically the next day and drive 6 hours back. I mean, that's a long weekend, where you spend 2 days driving," she always says. "So don't worry about it. Thanksgiving is not a big deal to me. I will just see you at Christmas."

Every year, when she says this, I think, "And THAT is why I live 6 hours away from you!"

For those of you who also have guilt-tripping, semi-manipulative mothers who try to warp your brain, right now you are thinking, "Um, VB, that sounds vaguely like a test. Methinks she is doing some reverse psychology on your ass, and she is secretly pissed at you for not driving up to see her."

To which I reply: It may very well be a test. But until she stops making me feel like a fat loser every time I visit her, I feel it's only fair that I get to, in turn, play dumb to her stupid little games and attempts at manipulating me. Fair enough?

Besides, now I am going with CN to have turkey day w/his family. And although they have issues of their own, as an outsider, I get to smile, pretend I don't know what's really going on and just ask people to please pass the mac n cheese. I offered to cook all the sides for Mrs. N (CN's Mom), since she's now back at work AND taking care of her sick husband. But she refused to hear of it, and told me that she only needed help in the pie department. So I am in charge of pies. Which is right up my alley, of course. (I'm going to make pumpkin and a pecan, in case you're curious.) I feel really good about helping her out, and wish I could do more for her and Mr. N.

In case you cannot tell by now, I have been a little pissy lately. Don't know why. Probably PMS. But I kind of like it. It's coming in really handy at the gym. CN has to bear the brunt of my ventings, lately, and he is quite amused. So don't sympathize with him. He uses my rantings as opportunities to make fun of me, which only irritates me further. If he weren't so damn cute and funny, he'd be on my shit list, too. But I can't stay mad at him, because he always leaves me laughing at myself. ARGH! That totally takes the wind out of my pissy little sails! I hate it when he does that!

On to the point of this post, which is this: Today, I was a good girl and tried to catch up on a lot of my blogs. So many of you have nice little comments from yours truly. But now I am ready to blog, too. The problem is, I have several potential blog topics for tomorrow. So I am taking requests. Which blog topic sounds most appealing to you?

#1: How The Czarina is trying her best to make Smurf feel like she is too stupid to get into college, and that Smurf should just let The Czarina pick her school for her and how I am doing everything in my power to remind Smurf that The Czarina sucks like that and that Smurf has excellent credentials and that since Smurf is going to be paying for the tuition herself (thank you, Federal School Loans), then she (NOT MOM) should get to pick where she goes to school.
Upside: I am pissy, especially at my mother, so this post would have lots of juicy venting.
Downside: It is depressing a little bit to think about how controlling my mother is.

#2: Holiday-related topic, whether Thanksgiving, shopping or Christmas related theme. Details TBA. Possibly a meme.
Upside: Who doesn't love some good holiday cheer? Memes are short entries, a good thing since we are all busy.
Downside: It's nothing to get excited about. Unless you really enjoy helping me come up with present ideas. Or hijacking memes for your own blogging pleasure.

#3: My new pothead neighbor
Upside: Pissy mood could lead to funny ranting. This topic also (vaguely) connected to Hot Neighbor, for those of you who remember this guy.
Downside: Ranting my go on too long to retain interest in my readers. New Pothead Neighbor is a real piece of work.

#4: The Story of My Last Irritating Encounter with E, My Recent Ex-Roommate, followed up by a rant/editorial about how pathetic certain women are and why.
Upside: Yay! More pissiness and bitching!!! Also, an ode to German cooking (trust me, it all fits into the story)
Downside: More pissiness and bitching. Nausea from the pathetic woman part.

#5: Ipod/computer confusion and/or issues.
Upside: First pick for my computer geek readers. Who I love. Because they might be able to help me with my ipod transfer. So I don't erase CN's library in the process. Helping me out with this little problem might get you on Santa's Good List.
Downside: YAAAAAAAAAAWN. Irritation with VB for picking a lame topic, wholly devoid of ranting.

*In New Yawkah accent, a la Cawfee Tawlk* So discuss amongst yourselves. Pick a topic, and I will extrapolate. I reserve the right to pick whatever topic I want. This is my blog, dammit, so you can suck it. (That is my new favorite thing to say. "SUCK IT!!!" I yell at CN when he makes fun of me.)

I only work a half day tomorrow, so if I don't hear from you or if you don't read this in time, I hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving. Remember to be thankful for everything you have: your job, your health, your family, your home, and yes, even your controlling and manipulative mother. Despite her delivery method, she really does love you and is only worried about you. She just shows it funny. Kind of like a drill sergeant would. Only with more guilt and snarky comments.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Popping Up: Ring Talk

Alright, I've been leaving you hanging long enough. I was hoping to have other interesting stories to share with you, too, but unfortunately, my life is pretty ho-hum right now. But you probably just want to know about the ring stuff, anyway, right? That's what I thought. So if, after reading this, you have any advice or insight into this situation, please share it with me. I'm a little frustrated and confused, as you will see.

So about three weeks ago, I was at the gym on a Saturday morning. While I was there, CN decided to check out the local flea market. While he was there, he saw a man selling Boston Terrier puppies and a French Bulldog. Knowing that I am a big fan of these two breeds, he told me about them when I got home from the gym. He asked me if I wanted to go see them. I said I would.

The puppies were, not surprisingly, adorable. And the French Bulldog was an adult female, all black. She was also gorgeous. And $600. The puppies were about $450. Needless to say, I did not buy any of the dogs for several reasons:

1. I don't know who the hell this flea market salesman is. For all I know, he could have stolen someone's dogs. Or the dogs could be in poor health.
2. I would rather get a rescued dog from a Boston Terrier or a Frenchie rescue organization. Or even a mutt. Homeless dogs need good homes!
3. I do not have the time or patience to deal with teaching a puppy to be house trained.
4. It is money I do not have to spend right now, anyway.
5. After the whole Toby thing, I really need to take my time and be 200% sure about getting a 2nd dog. It costs a lot to take care of two, not just financially, but my house gets extra dirty, it takes longer to care for them and walk them, etc. Although I love the idea of having a playmate for Sammy, it's a big decision and not one I take lightly.

But it was still fun to look at them. The adult female Frenchie is exactly the dog I would love to have, too.

Later on that day, CN and I were at Wal-Mart, and we talked about how cute the flea market dogs were as we shopped.

"Yeah, I thought about surprising you with one of the puppies," he said. (Hear those points racking up for CN? The man knows good gifts, I'm telling you. Even if it did piss all over my house, I would have been totally stoked to have a little puppy.)

"OMG, don't you DARE spend that kind of money on me! That is just ridiculous. Besides, those dogs were waaaay overpriced," I replied. (I know no men reading this will believe me, but I really was glad he didn't spend that kind of money on me. I would be racked with guilt.)

"Yeah," he replied, "I thought that I could either get you a dog, or I could get you a ring. I figured you'd rather have the ring, right?"

Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather! I was basically speechless, which doesn't happen to me very often. I just nodded in agreement and rambled something out of my mouth. I don't remember what I said!

This came out of the blue for me. Every time CN and I watched something about marriage or engagements on tv, he said every time, "WOW, I can't believe how quickly they got engaged! People shouldn't get engaged until they've been dating at least two years! That's just too soon!"

Whenever he would say this, I would sort of mentally sigh. I mean, let's face it. He and I are really good together. We are crazy about each other. We both agree this is by far the best relationship we've ever been in. And I'm a 29 year old woman. I want to get married. Yesterday.

So, based on his reaction to engaged couples on tv, I have always just sort of expected that we would never talk about this idea for a while. I have been thinking seriously about exactly how long I am willing to wait around. Am I willing to wait for 2 years? 4 years? I have been trying to avoid the topic, because I know how it freaks guys out. But I have to admit, I'm reaching that, "Ok, so exactly where is this going?" point. I have been trying my best not to bring it up.

But lately, it's been popping up. Sometimes, he brings it up. Sometimes, I start an innocuous conversation that dances around the topic. Sometimes, a conversation about our futures will turn into conversations about buying a house together, moving somewhere together, having kids together, long term financial plans...but up until a few weeks ago, nothing has been said about marriage or engagement stuff. He has felt comfortable talking about houses, kids, moving, etc. But not actual jewelry purchases or formal ceremonies involving multi-tiered cakes.

And now, we've had more and more of them. And at least 3 conversations about kids-- even down to baby names. And at least two about engagements. He emails house listings to me -- "Look at this house! We can afford this!" Maybe my coworkers' prediction is right: they have all been saying I will be engaged by the end of the year. (I personally am doubting this, at this point. Maybe next summer, at the earliest. If I don't screw things up. If he has more money than I know about. If pigs start flying.)

So naturally, I am a little excited about this, even if it's just talking and wishing. :D

But I'm also frustrated, because whenever I bring up anything about the future, he starts to make jokes about me nagging him or pressuring him or rushing things. The other day, he said, "Gah! If you keep talking about it, you won't know if I do it because I want to or if it's to shut you up and get you to stop nagging!"

Note: I am not nagging. I have not asked for anything, nor have I repeated any sort of request. I am not an asker or beggar or ultimatum-making kind of girl. Anytime the words "engaged" "ring" "wedding" or "marriage" come out of my mouth, suddenly I am a big nag. It's ok for him to talk about stuff, but I am not "allowed" to start the conversation -- only react to what he says. ARGH. He only does this to irritate me. I know it.

Although he is joking, I go ahead and just back off and change the subject. Now, I am totally avoiding any discussions about the future in every sense of the word. I am not going to let a little double standard mess things up for me. LOL

But it is a little frustrating for him to open up a door, but refuse to let me talk about it!!!! I am not known for being quiet!!!! Or patient!!!!

MJ thinks he is testing me. Feeling things out, as it were. I think he is blowing smoke up my ass. But that's my inner pessimist talking. What do you think? Is he testing me? Is he being serious? How do I handle this? I need to relax, don't I?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Blogging Rut

Can you tell I'm in a blogging rut? It's just one of those times in your life where there isn't much going on, and I don't want to bore my readers with mundane things, so I just don't blog. Life hits lulls in action like this sometimes. Maybe it is the quiet before the storm?

Random updates..........(this will be super-random, I apologize, but it's been a long day at the library!)

First let me say that if you are a vet, thank you for serving our country. I cannot imagine the sacrifice our veterans have made over the decades and am grateful to all veterans for keeping us safe and free. If I could, I would be proud to shake your hand. :)

Yes, I am still obsessed with genealogy. I will spare you the details. But I haven't really been up to much else. That is so sad to type that, and then read it. And realize it's a statement about yourself...*sigh* I am 29, yet I live the life of an 83 year old. What can I say? I have never been cool. Why start now? There's no use in denying my lack of general hipness.

As I predicted in my last post, Lady Starfish did not call. I am not really surprised by that, and not really sure what to do. After a certain point, it takes two people to make a friendship work. I feel like I have always been the one to do the work. Then again, as we can see from the last paragraph, it's not like she's missing much.

Speaking of friendships...

Did I tell you that my roommate, E, moved out? She moved out at the end of October. Which is fine by me. Things had been...uncomfortable between us for some time. The random guy in her bed (uh, there's a post on it...somewhere...) was pretty much the nail in the coffin for our peaceful cohabitation. Although I will miss having the extra money, it is such a relief to know that I don't have to share my house with anyone else anymore. To be honest, she was driving me batty, and I don't know if I can even still be friends with her. What is that saying....familiarity breeds contempt? Yes, I think that sums it up pretty well. I might blog more about this at a later point. I'm starting to think that there is something wrong with me, as I am starting to not like most people the older I get....hmmm. This might deserve a post of its own...perhaps my personality is aging faster than my body? I am starting to feel like a cranky old fart trapped in an overweight young person's body......oh dear......

I didn't do much for Halloween. JP (my other partner in crime) and I went to MJ's house to give out candy to trick-or-treaters and watch a scary movie. The trick-or-treaters never showed up, so JP and I got to take home all the left over candy. Which is great if you have a sweet tooth, but BAD if you have a sweet tooth AND you're trying to lose weight. (And to answer your question, no, I have not lost any weight. And I don't want to talk about it.) We watched a movie called The Strangers, and it was pretty good. It definitely had some freaky moments.

After that, I got a pretty bad cold, so I felt like crap all last week-- up until yesterday, really. I was Kleenex Queen. All I wanted to do was take swigs from a bottle of Nyquil, nap on my couch and eat soup.

Let's see. What else has been going on.

Sammy has an ear infection.

MJ is dating a hot French guy.

I am getting back into working out again (still waiting for diet motivation to make an appearance, however...).

Last night, I dreamt that I was on a road trip with Barack Obama. I was riding shotgun in a beat-up pick up truck, and I said something funny, and we had a good laugh. That's all I remember.

Oh, and CN used the phrase, "...or I could get you a ring." the other day.


Yup. You read that correctly. More later. I will keep you hanging for now!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Friendships, Part 2

So the original post for today was going to discuss friendships, but it seems I've already written it and said pretty much everything I want to say.

It's just that I'm thinking about all of that stuff again lately. I think it's because this week, I was contacted by an old and dear friend I've missed terribly (anyone remember Lady Starfish? 25 pts for you if you do). She was my best friend for years. Even when she moved to Tennessee, we stayed close. Then one day, she didn't return my call. I waited a couple weeks, called again, and that call was not returned, either. I am pretty good at taking a hint, so I admitted defeat: the friendship is over. A few tears in my pillow, and I moved on. I tried not to take it personally. She is the first to admit that she's a crappy friend. This was about 2 years ago.

Every so often, I would think about her, and even try and call her. But to no avail. After a while, I realized I may not ever be able to get in touch with her again: she probably changed her phone number to avoid her psycho ex-husband, she changes jobs a lot and she got re-married to a guy whose last name I don't know. So I basically gave up.

So imagine my surprise when she called me the other day!

Well, she sort of called me. You know how if you hit the wrong button on your phone, you can accidentally call someone? Somehow, she did that to me. I was so excited. But when I picked up, all I could hear was a car radio. She must have been driving somewhere, and the phone was on the seat next to her. I could hear the radio loud and clear, and even hear her rolling the window up and down. But she could not hear me yelling her name. So I gave up. And hung up. And was very sad. So close, but so far. If only...

Today, the rollercoaster friendship started back up again. I got a text message from her, telling me she misses me and is going out of town but wants to catch up on Monday! She apologized for being gone so long! Yay! My friend is back! She must have seen that she accidentally called me.

But I am wary. I am gun-shy. I'm wondering if we can even be close friends again. It's not that I'm not aware that friendships can fluctuate or even wither away. But it is painful, sometimes. She's one of my favorite people, so for her to jump in and out makes me feel...disposable. B-list. Back burner. And it hurts. I think I am going to have to say something about this, when we talk on Monday. Oh, who are we kidding. I KNOW I will say something. I have a big mouth and I think out loud. So we will see. Right now, I am expecting her to not answer her phone on Monday......experience makes you a pessimist. *sigh*

I swear, it's like dating a guy or something. My emotions right now are the same as when an old ex-boyfriend would call me and want to get back together. I have all these questions, and old memories, and a longing to have that person in my life again. But at the same time, didn't we already try this? How can I trust them again? How do I know this will be worth my emotional and time investment? Do I only give it a half-assed try, in order to protect myself? Or should I settle in for the time being, grateful for every moment? Maybe I should keep up some walls for a while. It's only fair, since I've been put on the back burner all this time.

Right now, I am wary. But excited.

Also this week, I have been dealing with the flip side of this situation. There's a girl I used to be friends with. She's very nice, but not very fun. And she makes (what are, in my opinion) stupid decisions. She has a tendency to be negative. A wet blanket. An Eeyore. Looking back, I am surprised I could even tolerate being around her for as long as I was. But when your schedules mesh well, and you can't really come up with a bad reason to stop being someone's find yourself sort of stuck with them....

Until you can't take it anymore and realize you'd rather just be alone. Which is what happened to me about 2 years ago. So I faded away. I didn't always return calls, and if I did, I cut them short. I cancelled plans, or always had some kind of an excuse. I was hoping this would do the trick -- she would get the hint and move on.

Only, she hasn't. About every 6 months, I will get an email or a phone call. I don't return them, of course. I thought she was done, until she called me. And emailed me. And text messaged me. All in the same day. That day is today.

She is having a big graduation party and wants me to go. While I applaud her achievement, I have ZERO desire to go to the party. She will corner me and expect an explanation for my long absence. Or worse, act like it never happened. The other girls from that "group" will also be there. I have also blown them off for the same reasons. The food might be good, but the party will be lame. It will be awkward, at best. I know everyone will want to know "where I've been" because I'm a "stranger". Which, if you are a woman, you know is just a thin veil for, "WTF? I thought you were my friend!" The best thing I can hope for is that they are all pissed at me, and will refuse to speak to me. This would actually be the best thing to happen, if I go. But do I want to go to a party like that? Um, no.

And yet, I cannot bring myself to reply to any of her attempts at contacting me. What do I say?? I can't go to your party, which isn't until mid-December? Congratulations on working your ass off for the last 3 years, but I can't make it? I don't want to be your friend anymore? Please stop calling me? I'd love to, but I have to clean my house that day?

Any of these replies will either hurt her feelings or open the door for further contact. Neither of which are viable options, from what I can see.

The thought of talking to her fills me with dread and guilt. At the same time, I am even growing a little irritated at her inability to just let sleeping dogs lie. Get. The. Hint. You know?

It's so funny, because I NEVER had these feelings when I dumped a boyfriend. I felt relief. I was happy to move on. If they called me, my attitude was more along the lines of, "WTF do you want?" rather than, "Shit. I am an asshole." -- which is how I feel right now, staring at my phone and its voicemail message from Miss Eeyore.

It's a million times more difficult to blow off a friend than a boyfriend. I can't figure out why. You'd think it'd be worse with the guy -- after all, you have probably seen each other naked. There's an intimacy there. But for some reason, loyalty seems to trump compatibility in friendships. It's sort of the other way around when romance is involved. Look at all the men who have friends from childhood, and despite their obvious differences, they still hang out. Guys don't seem to care. It's like loyalty is the #1 rule. Even if the guy is a lame-o. I don't get this. You can call me selfish, but I think life is too short to spend it with people who bore the shit out of you.

Perhaps it's confusing, because I don't hate her guts or anything. She's still on my myspace friends list. I just don't want to be an active friend to her. If I run into her in the grocery store, fine. Let's have a friendly chat. Catch up. But I do not want to hang out with her over a meal or even a drink. I don't miss her or regret ending the friendship.

And I don't think there's any way to tell someone that without hurting their feelings. So my phone stays where it is, next to me on my desk.

It's so strange, being on both sides of the same coin at the same time. I am excited! No, wait. I'm an asshole. I can't wait to catch up! Why won't you leave me alone? Please remember to call me! Ugh, stop calling me!

With Miss Eeyore, I feel guilt and shame. And empathy. Which only makes the guilt worse. I know exactly how this must make her feel. The confusion. The pain.
With Lady Starfish, I have trust issues. I am hurt. I am resentful. Yet understanding. Because I have been blowing someone off for 2 years, myself. I also worry that I am her Miss Eeyore, and I have finally browbeaten her into calling me.

Is this karma at work? Some surreal metaphor? Is the universe trying to teach me something?

Ugh. Friendships are hard. What should I do?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Genealogics Anonymous

OMG. I need help, you guys. I am not exaggerating when I say that just about every waking minute of every day for the last week or so has involved me talking about genealogy, researching genealogy or thinking about genealogy.

MJ is about to kill me she is so sick of me talking about it.

CN caved in to my nagging, and is now letting me research his family, too.

To make it even worse, gives you a free 14 day trial, so I'm trying to milk every last free minute out of them.

I have found relatives in Oklahoma, Seattle, Chicago, Massachusetts, Iowa, Minnesota, NYC, Kansas, St. Louis, Wisconsin, Virginia, upstate New York and Connecticut.

I have found the following weird first names: Karona, Gerhard, Aloysius, Cornelia, Herbert, Velvet, Elisha, Hepzebah, Bertha, Adelaide, Jerusha, Augustus, Eleazer, Ephraim, Jabez, Dorcas, Larvina, Hezekiah, Ulysses, Isolde, Chamberlain, Mercy, Ruke, Ebenezer, Asaph, Huldah, Prince, Waitstill, Celestine, too many Gertrudes to count and my favorite name so far: Bartimus.

I have found Revolutionary War heroes, Civil War casualties, steamboat operators, inventors, someone who went to court with Henry Ford, professors, dentists, judges, lawyers, real estate agents, oil company managers, doctors, bookstore owners, hardware salesmen, railroad engineers, preachers, and of course, lots and lots and LOTS of farmers.

I have, according to, traced my family back to the 1380s (!!) in England. Obviously, there's no way to prove the records are correct, but then again, there's probably no way to disprove them, either.

Every once in a while, I stumble upon cool family stories and photos that other genies haves submitted to or one of the other websites I'm using. Which is basically like crack to me. I will spare you these stories for now. Because telling them will only fan the flames. I am dealing with a serious addiction! Don't believe me?

These are the signs of an addiction:

Loss of interest in things that were important before.
Long, unexplained absences.
Decrease in performance at work or school.
Wanting to participate in addictive activity at all times of the day.
Increased desire for more of the activity.
Participating in the activity alone for long periods of time.
High tolerance for participating in the activity.
Preoccupation or craving.
Continued use.
Withdrawl symptoms.
Finding an excuse for doing it.

I'm even annoying myself at this point. I am not interested in going out, working out, reading a book or watching tv. For me, it's All Genie, All the Time. What if I can't stop? What if I turn into a shriveled up, little old lady genealogist who cannot hold normal conversations, because she constantly asks if you're referring to the Iowa McCrackens or the Minnesota McCrackens? ? Genealogy is pretty addictive, because there's always one. more. person. to. find.

Everyone has a mother and a father. And most people have siblings. It could go on forever.

I (obviously) haven't done much work, haven't gone to the gym, haven't cleaned my house...I haven't done much of anything, including blog reading. I am going to try and go on detox here this week, so I need your support. I think that in baby steps, I can make it out ok and come back to the world of the living.

Hi, my name is Virginia. And I'm a genealogy addict.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Old Family Photo

My mom's cousin emailed this photo to me the other day, but it was in a pdf format, so I couldn't blog it. But thanks to my reader, Debbie, now I can! Thanks, Debbie, for converting this to a jpeg for me! :)

Alright, this photo, from approximately 1905, shows the Wald family. Peter Wald, the first one, came over from Baden, Germany in the 1860s and originally settled in Illinois. Then, he went to Missouri, where the family's been ever since. Peter Wald married a woman named Barbara Hoffman, and they ended up having 13 kids (!!!), 9 of whom lived to adulthood. That's what this photo is! Only Peter is not in it, because he was dead by 1905.

I won't bore you with all the names, but the guy standing up in the back, on the very far left, is my great-grandpa, Thomas George Wald. The old lady sitting down is my great-great-grandma, Barbara Hoffman Wald. There is one extra man, if you're counting, and that's because one is a son-in-law (guy on far right). Check out all the mustaches!!! Whoa.

Doesn't my great-great-grandma look like your stereotypical stern, never-smiles German hausfrau? LOL I love it! Not exactly who you'd want to sit next to on a cross-country flight, huh? Well, I guess we can all see where my mom gets it from....LOL

Anyway, I have told you stories about Great Grandpa Thomas before. He was kind of a jerk, actually. Now that I see what he and his mom looked like, it kind of makes sense....

Thomas, my jerky great-gpa, married Mary Ellen Vater and had 7 kids, one of whom was my grandma Virginia. But that's another story for another day.

If you are groaning about my boring genealogy stuff, you are not alone. CN is ready for me to get a new project, too. LOL

Monday, October 06, 2008

I Love Savannah

I just realized I haven't posted in a while. Oops!

In a nutshell, I have been busy with my family genealogy project and taking a trip to one of my favorite places, Savannah, GA.

To be more specific...

I have been emailing with my mother's cousin, who as it turns out, is the "keeper" of the family history on my mother's side. This part of my family were German immigrants living in Illinois and Missouri beginning in the 1860s. So she has emailed me TONS of stuff, and it turns out that my great-great-grandpa fathered THIRTEEN children. Wowza. She also emailed me a pdf file of a photo of the family, taken around 1905, which is SO FREAKING COOL, I have been staring at it all day. I wanted to post it here to share, but it's a pdf file, which Blogger does not support, and I can't figure out how to save it any other way. Anyway, here's the cool part: my mom's cousin (Debbie) is going to be mailing me a family history book she has put together!!! I can't wait for the UPS truck. It is seriously like Christmas for me.

I won't bore you with all the family history bits of info I have learned today, because I've probably already bored you enough. I know MJ is sick of me talking about it. After a lengthy and overly-excited text message about all of this to her, I received a one-word reply. Hmmm. Not exactly the reply I was hoping for.

"I need to find a genealogy buddy, dont' I?" I asked her.

"Yes. Please." was her reply, if I remember correctly.

So enough about that. I am quickly becoming aware of how genealogy can bore some people. If you want more, let me know. "Genies" can talk about it all day, you know. :)

I will now move this post in an entirely different direction, to a topic most people really enjoy: travel. I had to go to Savannah this past weekend for a conference. Oh, woe is me. ;) Since CN and I never really did anything for our one year anniversary, I decided to take him with me so we could sorta celebrate. I have funny CN stories to share, but today, I want to give you a review of what it's like to visit Savannah.

OMFG we had the best time. This was the 2nd time we had been to Savannah. CN went about 8 years ago for their huge annual St. Patty's Day festival, and I went about 3 years ago for another conference. It was so much more fun to go with someone -- last time, I had to eat and explore alone. I was too worried about getting lost to do much exploring at all that time. This seriously impacted my dining experiences. This time was much better!

We drove down on Thursday and had lunch at Belford's. Holy cow was that a fantastic lunch: crab cakes and a kobe beef burger topped with brie and carmelized onions. I was wondering why the crab cakes were so expensive, until I took a bite to find that they were 100% crab meat and covered in a super duper yummy lemony-garlic sauce. Mmmmm!!!

This was just the first of many delicious meals. We also ate at Lady & Sons, which is Paula Deen's restaurant. Although it is a tourist trap and overpriced, it does have the BEST fried chicken I have ever put in my mouth. I think they are battered in a mixture of flour and crack. So if you ever go, just get a big plate of fried chicken. Skip the rest. You will be glad you did.

Also on our culinary tour of Savannah: fantastic Thai at Ruan Thai on Broughton Street, and excellent Italian at Corleone's (I highly recommend the baked beef tortellini in marinara sauce).

We really didn't have a bad meal the whole time. Even a dive bar we stopped in had great fish and chips. You really can't go wrong in Savannah. And all the people are so friendly! Everyone wanted to know where we were from and what we were looking to do while in town -- where else does THAT happen??

All throughout the downtown/historic area, nestled between neighborhood parks and along Broughton Street, there are lots of really cool home decor stores, galleries and boutiques. I went to many of these stores. Let me tell you about my favorites. Kilwin's makes some of the best fudge I have ever had in my life -- toasted coconut with chocolate swirled into it. Holy cow, it was a flavor explosion of joy in my mouth. I still can't believe it's a chain. Red Clover, Bleu Belle and James Gunn had really cool (expensive!!) clothes and a very friendly staff. Zia's had amazing handmade jewelry. But by far, my favorite stores were the home decor stores: The Paris Market, which sold lots of vintage housewares and French imports and DC2 Designs, which reminded me of a Z Gallerie. But by far, my absolute favorite was called @ Home Vintage General Store. Cute stationery, office supplies, cookbooks, linens, baby gifts, picture frames, sewing notions and other decorative household goods, all with a vintage 1950s flair. Half the stuff in there WAS vintage -- board games, school suppiles, sewing stuff, etc. CN had to drag me out of there. I would get back in my car right now, just to drive down and visit this store again.

Savannah is one of the most haunted cities in America, and since CN and I are both big ghost story fans, a ghost tour was obligatory. We went on this tour, and our guide was a great story teller, as well as very knowledgeable about Savannah and the homes he was describing to us. He had even been inside and interviewed a resident of my favorite haunted house of the tour. It is located on East Charlton St. Here's a photo I found on Google Earth:

Do you see the big trash bin in front of it? That wasn't there when I saw the house, but it was probably there recently, because it is being renovated. Why is it being renovated? Because they cannot get anyone to live in it, so they are trying to spruce it up! Which is quite odd, because it's in a gorgeous and old neighborhood in Savannah's historic district. It's practically next door to one of Savannah's most prominent landmarks -- the Hamilton-Turner house (which is also haunted). You might recognize the Hamilton-Turner house from the movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. So why can't they get anyone to live in it? Because there's a poltergeist there! It opens the cabinets in the kitchen, moves the furniture in the living room and re-arranges the pictures on the wall. Anyway, the last people to live there left very suddenly, after only being there for less than a year. They were so freaked out, they didn't even take their furniture with them!!! It took them a year to work up the courage to come back for their stuff. That was in 1996. It's been vacant ever since. The house was listed at around $200k, the last time it was on the market. This is a total steal. If you're willing to live in a supposedly haunted house....where an old lady died in a bathtub....which may have been a suicide, because the woman had been talking to the ghost for many years...eek!!

And if you know anything about ghosts, you know that all renovations do is stir up more ghost activity, usually of the angry and violent kind. They probably should not be messing around in there, if you ask me. :)

Anyway, when the guide was telling us about this house, I got chills up my leg. Then, if we wanted, we could climb the steps and peer in the little window next to the front door (not visible in the photo above). Of course, I was all about this. But when I looked inside, I got an uber-creepy feeling and turned right around! This house totally gave me the creeps. Which only made me want to go back, of course!

But it will have to wait until next time, along with untested restaurants and unexplored shops. I can't wait until I can go to Savannah again.

The pervasive and excellent cuisine and shopping, combined with a laid-back and creative people (courtesy of the large art student population) and spooky atmosphere (Spanish moss, huge oak trees, witchcraft and haunted antebellum mansions have a tendency to create that) resulted in CN and I agreeing that Savannah is far, FAR cooler than Charleston.

Seriously, Charleston is the snobby, less-cool cousin of Savannah. Yes, that is how I would explain the differences in a nutshell. If you need a vacation recommendation, this one gets 5 stars from me!