Friday, January 25, 2008

Even Keel, But Not Improving Yet...

(From January 25th 2008)

HEY! Been a while! How the hell ya been?...GREAT to hear!

Now, shut up. I'm trying to type...

Seems that, unlike the housing market, my situation has bottomed out for now. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but not exactly hunky-dory, either. It just means that the piles of shit waiting in queue for the fan are each taking their turn. This week it was an unprecedented hangover, Liam being suspended from school (again), and the power getting shut off for non-payment.

Sunday night I stayed up a bit too late, drinking whiskey. Lately I've been trying whiskey, with mixed results. (my God, was that a pun?) I'm not usually much for hard liquor. I'm more of a beer-an-hour kind of guy. Given the chaotic nature of my life lately and the propensity for Murphy's Law to profile me, the timing of my experimentation with the Devil Water may have something to do with self-medicating. Well, lesson learned. Woke up on Monday still a bit buzzed and feeling like a pile of roasted shit, which has NEVER happened to me, to my recollection. I don't often drink to excess and usually confine myself to mild cocktails or beer. I tried to compose myself for work, but an hour into my shift, I realized it was just too much. I went home, intending on an hour's nap, which somehow turned into 3 1/2 hours.

I'm an hourly employee at Ye Olde Tuba Store, so 3.5 hours means a big hit to the ol' paycheck I couldn't afford. My only solace was that on Wednesday, I'd be driving one of the company vans to Indiana to pick up a mess of tuba cases. 4 hours minimum on the road each way meant a bit more time on the card, so hopefully I'd recover most of it, but it meant I blew my only chance at overtime in the past 5 years or so.

Monday night we get a call from Leigh, who's pipes had apparently burst in the cold. She may need some help to get the situation under control, and at least need to borrow our shower. Being our best friend and owing her a MILLION times over for rescuing us on Christmas Eve, I stayed home from chorus rehearsal to be available to either run to the hardware store for parts, watch the kids, or whatever else may need to be done to help our dear friend. We ended up not being needed for anything that night and couldn't get a hold of her to find that out until late, as she was out getting parts with her much-handier-than-I brother. I was a bit irked at missing chorus, but she was in mid-crisis and had MUCH bigger things to worry about! I was just glad she was able to get things under control. Her water's turned off until the final repairs can be done, so she's been borrowing our shower for the past few days. Fine with us! Just gives us a chance to see her all the more! :)

Tuesday, I get a call from Liam's school asking me to pick him up. That's NEVER a good thing. As I have no car, they would have to wait for Sonya to get him, while I sat and stewed at work over his behavior as of late. Apparently, he threw another fit for something wholly unimportant like his place in line, lashed out a bit, and was suspended for the remainder of the week. A bit of an overreaction by the school, in my opinion, to what was apparently him defying the teacher's order to miss music class for disobeying her and then pushing a chair in anger, resulting in it falling down the risers of the music room.

I'm VERY unimpressed with the school's increasing tendency to simply remove Liam when he acts out, rather than try some sort of in-house discipline like an in-house suspension or recess detention. This suspension basically reinforces the idea that if he doesn't like something at school, if he acts out, he gets several days off. This time, however, his time at home was much less pleasant. He's grounded to his room for the duration with no TV or computer, and permission to leave only for bathroom breaks, getting ready for bed, and chores. You take away the kid's TV and computer privileges and it hits home a lot more. Sonya's been printing out extra worksheets and assignments for him to do in his more idle time, as well. This suspension is NOT just time-off, and he's duly disappointed with it. It does frustrate me, though, that I'm not available more to help enforce it.

Wednesday, I'm picked up by the salesman to hit the road for Goshen, Indiana. We were to pick up 32 tuba cases and 16 tabletop xylophone cases from the case maker, a bright-eyed, chipper old guy named Delmas. Thankfully, the salesman was in the other van, so the only time I had to relate to him was at the beginning of the trip and when we loaded up the vans in Indiana. The first half of the trip was pleasantly uneventful. I borrowed Liam's MP3 player for the trip (as mine was lost in the Christmas Eve car crash) with a full 1GB of choice classic rock, jazz, funk, neuvo-swing, and 80's tunes, and plugged it into my FM transmitter. 4 hours of me, my music, and the road - ahh, bliss.

We get to Goshen and start to load when I get a call from the home phone. This is odd, because Sonya usually calls me from her cell. On the line is Liam, calmly relaying to me that the power company had shut off the juice and mom was really upset and on her cell, screaming at the power company. Apparently, we had somehow neglected to pay them since July, which I find rather hard to believe. I talk to Sonya and let her vent about the absolute jerk of a tech who came to shut us off and the runaround she got on the phone from the power company. I talk to Liam and thank him for being so calm and cooperative during this crisis (in a family crisis he keeps his cool - he doesn't get to watch a movie at bed time and he flips - go figure), and then get to loading the van, worrying the whole time about my wife and kids in a cold house. As a father, you can't help but think you've failed your family in a situation like that - especially when you're 4 hours away and can't really do anything about it.

Salesman needs to head to Elkhart for something, so I head back home solo. I get a call from Sonya a bit later. Thankfully, when all was said and done, Detroit Edison put us on a budget plan, waived the shut-off and reconnect fees, and got us turned back on before Sonya got home from picking Courtney up from school. They arrived from school to the sweet music of the furnace, trying desperately to catch up with 4 hours of falling indoor temperatures. Whew! I arrive home after being stuck for 2 1/2 hours in snowy, rush hour traffic from Ann Arbor to home, drop the van at work, and walk home in the dark and snow.

The nice thing about things "bottoming out" is that it can only get better from here (I hope, knock wood). I've been taking a great deal of comfort in the fact that I know that my family and I will never hit rock bottom. We'll only be as uncomfortable as my pride makes us. I've received a lot of offers to help in various ways from family and friends lately. While many offers I've declined (or at least gently discouraged), the offers in themselves truly warmed my heart, once again proving my mantra, "With true friends, you will NEVER hit rock bottom". I have so many good friends ready and willing to help my family and me at the drop of a hat, and rest assured, I'd do the same for any of them (you).

A HUGE thanks go out to Rachael Levy, Leigh McLaughlin, Barb Bertolini, Diana Schnuth, and especially Sonya's and my parents and siblings for all the help you've offered over the past few weeks!

While I always encourage anyone and everyone to comment on my blogs, please refrain from specific advice on this one. No "You shoulda done this...", please. I just needed to vent a bit, and give some background to my previous, enigmatic blog.

Well, it's gettin' late. Gotta get home to be ready to be picked-up by my co-worker for another full day of working both jobs.

Coming up next: Paul Wins the LOTTERY!!!

(I figure if I put that in print, maybe my chances for it will improve)


Kelly said...


No advice. No lectures here, trust me.

Just "Dude"

Anonymous said...

Paul, thanks for the "shout out!" You're right, things can only get better.


dianaschnuth said...

My, how times have changed. I was just thinking myself how it's so fascinating to have an indexed time machine of my life and thoughts over the years.

Glad I was some long-distance support back in the day!