Escapism and the Lonely Housewife

I am kind of an escapist. When the going gets tough, I run and hide.

I've been known to escape through various methods. I'll spend all weekend reading novels, and only reading novels. I will stop answering email or phone calls for a week at a time. I will get under the covers and stare at the wall for hours. Occasionally, but not often, I will get in the car and actually go somewhere, kind of loll around for hours. I shut down. I pull the shades on life and let my mind..just....disappear.

It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to realize that this is maybe not the best approach to difficulty. And as I've been reading a lot lately about mindfulness (marriage isn't the only self-help topic I love!), I've been trying a new approach:

Revel when I like something. Take action when I don't like something.

(I've had a few opportunities to try this out in these past few weeks.)

Because of the reveling and the action-ing, I've been up to some fun things lately. 

  • I finished the quilt I started back in September. 
  • I 'redecorated' the apartment and now it's much less cluttered and more cohesive (and it looks less like a bachelorette pad and more like a man lives here too, actually). 
  • I attacked a green wax stain* on a cute (and expensive!) seersucker dress. (Ashley: 1; Stain: 300). 
  • I set up a painless plan to reduce the amount of clothing I own (a hybrid of JD's method and Joshua's method, minus the spare closet) (PS - two great blogs, those two!). 
  • I spent an afternoon thinking about how I should be vacuuming. 

All in all, I feel better doing this whole 'stay present' thing. I feel more relaxed, actually. When I sit there and zone out, and then get agitated about how I'm not doing anything when there's so much to do, I pick one thing that I could do, right now, pretty fast. And then I get up and get sidetracked by three other things  go make a sandwich  have to take Rory out  go do that thing. 

Keeping in motion. That's what it's all about, for me. I've been somewhat aware of my tendency to stall out for a few years now, but as I've taken on more and more adult responsibility, it has become the glaring issue that it really is. I'm realizing just how big of a problem it is to just...stop living. 

I'm one of those people who doesn't do well when living alone. I need the accountability of a roommate, an actual person who will make an appearance every evening and every morning, or I will do nothing. Absolutely nothing. I won't cook, or clean, or sleep, or go anywhere other than to work and back. I'll maybe eat a bowl of cereal or a Hershey bar, the entire day. I just kind of...shut down. 

I know, it's so weird!

Granted, I was in and out of a multi-year depression that ranged from 'Ok, I can handle this' to 'I oughtn't operate heavy machinery if I manage to get out of bed today' for most of college and through the first year or so that we were married. So that's what, 7+ years that I was on the brink? I'm better now, so much better, so I don't know if becoming inert is something I'd deal with these days. But I'm not about to play with that book of matches.

So with Brian gone all last week, it was really important to me that I keep in motion, if for no other reason than to prove to myself that I can handle being alone, and upheaval at home, and working a new job, AND a border collie, all at once. 

I'm so proud of myself right now. I missed Brian, a lot, but that didn't stop me. I didn't eat as well or sleep as much as I should have, but I did eat, and I did sleep. And as much as that dog always sometimes irritates me, she does keep me in motion. 

All in all, I feel like I've made some real progress in the past year. Inside and out.

And I can't wait to show you what's on the wall above our headboard now!!

*Any pointers on getting wax stains out of seersucker? The wax is gone (I did the iron thing) but the stain, it remains. I've tried boiling hot water, soaking overnight in oxy-clean, bleach pens, and vinegar. Nothing is working. I am sad.


back in business!

Now where did I leave off?

That's right. Water. Lots of water.

You felt The Shock and The Dread when you saw that picture, right? Did you remember that days before, we'd found mold growing in the closet, (I'd subsequently been unable to breathe in a few rooms of the apartment,) and our water heater burst?

Over the course of a week, things went from bad, to expensive (I still haven't had the heart to open the water bill), to 'did we just lose everything?'

I saw the water pouring from the entryway ceiling, and I saw the water standing at the door of my apartment. I dropped my arm load of things (except for Eli, who I was carrying) and froze, in shock and maybe terror. Brian came back out of the apartment and said that lots of water had seeped in but it wasn't coming from the ceiling inside, just the floor, and that my hope chest needed to be moved immediately. He took off for the apartment's main office, and I tentatively made my way to what I assumed was going to be a disaster.

I sloshed through 2 or 3 inches of standing (rising!) water outside my door and was met by more of the same inside. But Brian was right - nothing was coming from the ceiling, it was all coming from the floor up. And due to the weird layout of our apartment, it didn't look at first glance as though we were going to lose anything.

Other than another week's worth of sanity, I mean.

So I moved my hope chest to the living room, where the water hadn't quite reached, and I surveyed the damage. Soggy carpets down both hallways. The hall closet carpet was wet. Water was about an inch deep in the laundry room, which has vinyl tiles, and had made its way all the way through into the garage (that's like 12 feet, including a right angle and another door!). Water had crossed the threshold to the living room but hadn't made it very far into it. It did run off the hallway into the master bedroom; it had also soaked directly (back) into the master closet, where we'd only yesterday resolved a mold issue, and it had also soaked through the master bathroom and into the bedroom on that side, too. (The closet and bathroom share a wall with the flooded entryway.)

It's been more than a week now, and we haven't had to toss anything as a result of water damage. Because it came from the ground up, and it didn't reach anything that was being stored on the ground (other than laundry machines, dog crates, and I think a bookbag?).

The carpet dude (the same one who'd shampooed our carpets earlier that morning, apparently) came that night, removed all the soggy pads, and sucked up all the water. We slept on the couch and ran a high-powered fan for a few days. And then, on Monday, Brian and Linda left - Linda was returning home, and Brian headed out for a youth conference. I was alone, with the dogs and a fair amount of chaos. (But hey! I could stay in the guest bedroom! No more sleeping on couches!) On Tuesday afternoon, the carpet fixer guy came (after I was promised that he was coming Monday, then Monday evening, then Tuesday morning....) and fixed everything. He also re-shampooed the flooded area, which was nice. I spent the following several days reassembling my home. It was such a relief to re-load our closet and stop stepping over piles of clothing. It was also a relief to be back in my own bed, even if Brian wasn't there.

It's also nice to have all the puppy pee stains gone.


it's late, but i don't have a bed

So I thought I'd update you on my last update. Some stuff has happened.

Did I tell you about the water heater? I know I told you about the mold. Well, halfway through the week-long mold-fixing process, our water heater blew a gasket. Or blew its lid. Or something like that. We're talking water, gushing. (I am not looking forward to the next water bill.)

I'll just note here that when I called the office to report my leaking gushing water heater, they tried to correct me by informing me that the mold problem actually is from the upstairs a/c unit (something they've told me from the beginning. I got the message, guys). I had to interrupt Mr. Know-It-All and say NO, exCUSE me, my water heater is GUSHING WATER and it is all over the hallway, right NOW, and I want you to send someone to FIX IT IMMEDIATELY.

Because sometimes, enough is enough.

Only, sometimes it really isn't enough, is it?

No, sometimes it really isn't enough. There's more.

(You might also recall that my mother-in-law was here for the duration of this story.)

So on Thursday, my wall is no longer moldy, my closet carpet has been replaced, and I am starting to load the contents of the master closet back into the closet and up off of the floor where they'd been residing for...I lost track of how many days. Lots. (I might have worn the same 4 outfits to work every week since starting there. I don't know if anyone has noticed yet.)

On Friday, the carpets were due to be shampooed. We decided to get out of the apartment and head to the mountains, the 3 of us plus the dogs. We had a great day up in the Mt. Evans region of the world (photos might come later, maybe) and I was reeeeeeeally looking forward to coming home around 6, lounging around in my nice, newly cleaned apartment, putting life back together and taking it easy. 

So this is where it gets good. And by good, I mean dicey.

Brian is the first to get a load from the car and take it inside. I'm not too far behind him, when I hear...

"Oh noooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!"

Just what anyone wants to hear when someone walks into her home before she does. 

I boogie to the scene, expecting...I don't know what I was expecting. 

What I was NOT expecting was this:

Why yes, that IS two inches of standing water at the door to my apartment. With more and more and more coming from the ceiling every second.

To be continued.


big things happen, sometimes all in a row

In case my mom (hi, Mom!) and in-laws (hey there!) are reading, I will go ahead and say that the 'big things' referenced in this post's title do NOT include any little Ashleys or Brians* running around 9 months from now.

So you know how sometimes 'life' kinda rolls along for a while and you're able to keep up and get all most enough of your stuff done and 'the immediate future' isn't so overwhelming when you really consider it...AND THEN...you go to Guatemala for a week, wherein you get sick almost immediately, and the day after you return you have a house guest, and you discover giant patches of fur missing off your border collie's haunches, and then a couple of days after the guest leaves you pack up and leave again for 5 days on the East Coast with your in-laws (who are, incidentally, pretty much the coolest in-laws around), whereupon you learn that 3 days after you get back from the East Coast, your mother-in-law (of whom you are a big fan...and you're not just saying that) is coming for a 12 day visit which is happening a little sooner than you'd anticipated, and then you come back home to find something that may or may not be BLACK MOLD (but is black, and moldy, and makes your throat so tight you can't breathe**) growing in your master closet and you have to empty out your walk-in closet somewhere to get the repairs done but you can't pile everything in the guest room because that's about to be occupied but you don't have many other options besides dumping everything on the floor in your bedroom except you can't SEE the floor yet because the room hasn't recovered from all that traveling you just did and there are suitcases and laundry baskets everywhere not to mention all the stuff you would put away but can't because it goes in the closet, and then you hear from the awesome neighbors who just gave you a great bike and took care of your dogs last-minute but were thanked by said dogs via BITES but because the neighbors are awesome they think it's funny but kinda sad that the dogs were that neurotic, and oh by the way you're starting a new job this afternoon but you're afraid to wear your work clothes which have been hanging out in the is-it-mold-mold-or-black-mold closet so good luck with that, and besides all that, everything you read has basic grammar and spelling errors which REALLY IRRITATE YOU and also this is the week you decided to break the email habit and only check it every 2 hours but it's making you feel even more agitated than usual because you can't.get.your.email.fix??!?

Right. So that's me right now. Any questions?

How was YOUR Independence Day weekend?

*no, they DON'T need apostrophes***
**yes, it's breathE, not breath***
***you should hire me, because I know stuff like this