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.