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OK, I finally figured out one reason I have been in a pissy mood lately. The holidays. I still haven’t figured out how to enjoy the holidays post-divorce. Thanksgiving is of a particular sore spot for me.
During my marriage, I was the go-to hostess for Thanksgiving. I’ve written about this before. Every year we would host anywhere from 18 to 24 people. I would take off the week in order to properly prepare for the day. I loved it. I make an amazing turkey — my Ex even said as much to my daughter recently. Everyone had a fabulous time, but it was a lot of work. A lot because my Ex did little to help. He cleaned the patio and asked copious questions — so damn needy. The most help I got was from my housekeeper who I always had come clean the day before. Post clean-up was all me. Set up — all me. Cooking: 75% me. It was my day and yes, it was my day by choice. I loved being the “hostess with the mostess” and when we sat outside at the beautiful tables I arranged, I felt happy. Frazzled, but happy to have everyone around.
Guests were my Ex’s family (he is one of 4 kids) so that made up the bulk of the guests. Then we had family friends round out the balance. Everyone was really bummed when we announced our separation. One family friend mourned the loss of Thanksgiving immediately. She told me, “the first thing my girls said was ‘oh no, Thanksgiving!'”.
Fast forward to today, four years later. Not once have I received an invitation to Thanksgiving by any of the folks I hosted over the past 25 years. Not one. OK, OK, yes, it’s a lot of Ex family, but what about the friends? What the fuck was I doing for these people all these years? I don’t even get a “Happy Thanksgiving” from any of them. I don’t get acknowledged, contacted, na da. It makes me angry.
It makes me angry because somehow I feel like after all those years of hosting, I am entitled to something better than what I have. I feel like I’m entitled to at least the societal nicety of a Thanksgiving message/touch from these folks.
The first years of my freedom I would go to a swanky dinner with my girlfriend. It was nice and I enjoyed getting dressed up for an elegant evening. It wasn’t exactly what I was seeking, but it was nice.
The first year the Hunter and I were together, I invited friends and our sons for Thanksgiving. I wrote about it and it was nice. The Hunter was concerned about how much work it was for me. As I re-read my post about it, I am realizing how much I really did enjoy it. It was about 8 people and that might be the right size.
Last year the Hunter and I went camping, just the two of us. It was nice, but I missed the turkey, the family togetherness and all the other warm, fuzzy things that Thanksgiving brings. We sat and watched large groups celebrating the holiday over the course of the weekend. I felt left out quite honestly.
This year is a bit different. Taz and her hubby will be down on vacation for the entire week. I wanted all of us (my son included) to go out for an early lunch, but Taz’s in-laws are flying in on Thanksgiving Day so that’s too complicated/stressful for all of us. Instead we will hang out at their beachfront Airbnb and eat stone crabs and drink champagne. Then we will part ways for Round 2 in the evening. Taz will join her dad and his family while the Hunter and I will join his family. This is the first time the Hunter has spent Thanksgiving with his sister’s clan in about 3-4 years. It will be interesting, but I’m looking forward to sharing the holiday with a family crowd.
The holidays are tough for me. I don’t want to make demands on my kids. My mom did that to me and it sucked. On the same token, I also don’t want to be the patsy or somehow overlooked. Part of me wants to get on a cruise ship for Christmas (this is a recurring destination choice for some reason) so I can just forget about it. Even that will cause me angst because being far away from everyone has proven not to be the solution anyway.
When I first separated from my Ex, my therapist pushed me to think about the holidays and what I wanted. Fast forward four years and I am still trying to figure out what I want. Now that Taz is married, she and her hubby have a rotation of holidays figured out. Very fair, very smart, very much their choice.
Last year the Hunter and I spent Christmas with my parents. My dad was pretty much an absentee dad once my parents got divorced. As Taz and I have discussed, he isn’t much of a father or grandfather to kids, but he’s fine once we grow up. Anyway, I hadn’t spent a Christmas with my dad since perhaps college. It was weird and we don’t want to do it again.
This Christmas we will probably stay put. I don’t particularly like trips over the holidays — too many other people are traveling, it’s expensive. Bah humbug. The only problem is that the Hunter has a yearning to see snow. He hasn’t seen snow. Not snow in serious quantities. Funny, right? A 50-year-old American that hasn’t seen real snow.
I need to put some thought into what makes me happy during the holidays. I think it’s a recipe that includes:
- Family and close friends
- Good food
- Relaxing fun
Perhaps now that I know the holidays continue to be a source of angst to me, I can recognize it and practice some forgiveness as well as some thankfulness. Geez, when will I ever let this crap go?
For some reason, it seems like when I am truly ready to make some serious changes in my work life, I first have to change my environment. This week I am taking a mini-break from my business development and work in general to completely renovate my home office.
I decided to tackle it when I got a pleasant sense of peace and accomplishment from cleaning my house. For those of you who have read my rants about my dislike of housework, please don’t fall off your chairs. When I finished cleaning up the house, my mind felt rested. It was an “ah ha” moment, and I realized I needed to channel that into my office.
I run my company out of the house. Please don’t tell Crazy Lady because she has no clue what I do or that the HQ of Maggie & Co. is right next door. Anyway, it’s important to me to have a comfortable and organized office because it keeps my head clear. I like a little mess but too much clutter weighs me down.
The first thing I did was to pull out all the paper clutter. All mail was opened and filed. I shredded stuff until my shredder begged for mercy. I filled my recycling bin. I put away a pile of stuff best described as “Doesn’t Belong in My Office”. I made piles of stuff that would stay according to various categories. I have a bin of business journals by the TV to read. All that took the better part of a day. My reward: an Ikea run last night and then a really fun hour measuring everything and laying it out on paper.
Today was one of brute strength. I hauled in the heaviest Ikea bookcase of all time. Then I built that damn Ikea shelving unit, rearranged all the furniture and now it’s time to put everything back in. I have to go get a couple of things tonight (surge protectors and some lighting), but it’s all coming together nicely if I do say so myself. The Hunter is quietly relieved to be missing it all.
I’ve been doing all this between networking lunches and phone calls. It feels great and I’m excited to get it all organized according to the vision in my head. It’s a good feeling and I really needed the boost. Now I’m off to Target!
For context, you need to understand the Crazy Lady (CL) who lives next door to us and the recent neighborhood drama by reading the previous post. Things have settled down into a quiet truce. We don’t acknowledge them and they don’t acknowledge us — stepson is the exception for all. We like him. He’s a good kid.
Last week, I noticed some increased activity at CL’s house. Several pickup trucks there and I hear the sounds of power tools. What the heck are they doing? It’s been going on all week and I realized that they are doing a renovation in their house…. very covertly.
I want the Hunter to call his new best friend, the Code Enforcement Officer. Yes, the aftermath of the crazy neighbor evening resulted in the Hunter having to get an occupational license for his home business, the landlady having to register her house as a rental and address some landscaping issues. Total bill between all of us: $500 or so. The Hunter played this well and made nice with Code Enforcement. He befriended the guy and schmoozed him. He said he learned that tactic to me, but he is masterful.
But I’m pissed and I want to even the score because that was a shitty thing CL did.
On Halloween, we heard her screaming at her stepson that she is going to kill him because he apparently didn’t clean the cat litter boxes. Yeah, probably because he was busy mowing the grass and all the other yard work. According to our landlady, she allegedly has 7-8 cats (violation of city ordinances which only allow 3 pets per household) and she has 2 dogs. I can rant on and on about how the Dad is a shitty dad for not telling CL to shut her mouth and not talk to his son that way, but I digress. Let’s return to the construction project.
I really, really, really want the Hunter to call his buddy in Code Enforcement to suggest that he take a ride through the neighborhood. He won’t do it. The Hunter says that he is not that kind of neighbor. He is not the kind of neighbor that rats out others no matter what they have done to him. Dammit. The man has integrity. Dammit. I want revenge. I want her to go through some of the bullshit that we have gone through. Nope. It’s not going to happen.
The Hunter is out of town for the next week. He is deep in the woods hunting, so I am left to see the construction debris being removed under the cover of early morning darkness alone. Today I saw the new kitchen cabinets in their open garage. I hear the hammers. I see the trades come and go. ARGGGGGHHHH — I have to be a better person like the Hunter and hold my tongue. I don’t want to, but I know it’s the right thing to do. Dammit. Integrity. Nobody said it was easy…. My only hope
The Hunter is in his happy place — his hunting lease on a couple hundred acres of farm land. He has already been up there once and “harvested” a deer. I am fortunate that when it arrives home it is already beautifully packaged by a professional butcher, so I can safely remain blissfully detached from what this meat once was.
The Hunter is smart and has the butcher make all kinds of different things with the meat. We have amazing sausage, some small chops, cube steak, ground meat — it’s a great variety to help avoid getting tired of it. I like the venison, but….I don’t think it likes me.
When the Hunter returned from his first trip, we dived into the venison and probably ate it almost every day. I started not feeling well but thought I just had stomach bug or something. I didn’t put 2 and 2 together.
Yesterday I made some venison cube steaks for dinner. Yep, it doesn’t agree with me. Within a couple of hours, my stomach began hurting. It’s still off this morning. I did a little research on the internet and can’t really find a definitive answer on what’s up with me. Some folks say to back off the amount because the protein content is high. That could be the situation with me because I never had problems with it before when we made chili and such.
I am reluctant to tell the Hunter that his beautiful venison isn’t agreeing with me. He is so happy to be providing for us and these trips are truly inspiring for him. I’ll continue to experiment this week and monitor the results. If I can’t figure out the magical combination of venison and my digestive system, I’ll have to confess to the Hunter and see his sad face. I have a feeling it won’t be sad for long because then he’ll just say, “that’s OK, love, just more for me!”
The Hunter had a really funny run-in with one of our neighbors that I haven’t written about. I’ll try to keep it short but this will provide context to to my next post.
About 3 months ago we had a code enforcement officer stop by the house. We weren’t home and he didn’t leave any information on why he was here. My son was home and the officer was asking if the Hunter was running his business out of our house. My son didn’t confirm or deny this and he duly informed the Hunter when he arrived home ahead of me.
I pulled into the driveway to see two cardboard signs attached to the trees out front. “Neighbors, we have a snitch who calls code enforcement” (I don’t remember the exact words, but that’s the gist of it). I laughed and admired the Hunter’s audacity. He thought I would be upset, but in my mind he was merely exercising his First Amendment right. He wanted to add “Snitches get stitches”, but I advised him that this additional language was threatening and could get him into trouble. He changed it to “Snitches are bitches”.
We knew who had turned us in — our batshit crazy next-door neighbor. She is a screaming shrew who has fought viciously with our landlady after a BFF falling out. I won’t go into their drama but let’s say that both sides probably bear responsibility. Couple that with my landlady who has never seen an argument go unargued, and I can only imagine the fireworks when they lived side-by-side.
Anyway back to our drama. We know it was our neighbor because the previous week the Hunter had given his business card to her teenage stepson because he wanted to have him help do some techie work with his GoPro camera. Nobody else in the neighborhood knows the name of his business and the code enforcement officer had the name when he talked to my son, so it was an easy puzzle to solve.
Keep in mind that the Hunter named no names on either signs. Neighbors drove or walked by regularly because it was early evening and folks were arriving home from work. They read the sign and laughed or waved. Within the hour, Crazy lady (CL) pulls into her driveway while we are sitting out back enjoying the early evening breeze. “Motherfucker!!” she screams. The Hunter looked at me and we giggled. “Guess who’s home”, I say.
The Hunter has some big ass balls. He grabbed his GoPro and walked into the front yard. She had gone ballistic and marched over to the neighbors next to her to gain some allies. We had discovered early into our tenancy that they were also jerks (birds of a feather) but we never really had to deal with them, so it had never been a big deal. They start screaming at the Hunter.
“Look out!! He’s got a gun!!!” was Neighbor’s first scream. The Hunter calmly replied, “No, it’s a camera”. The GoPro was on a selfie stick. “Don’t film us!” Neighbor screams.
“We have lived here 20 years and we aren’t going to have that that kind of shit in our yard.” Ummm, it’s in our yard, I think.
“We have called the cops” Excellent because we need some protection from your crazy selves, I think. Keep in mind that I am cowering in our house because I don’t have the Hunter’s confrontational chops. I can hear everything though.
“You are just a tenant!” Um, what does that have to do with anything?
As the police arrived, we decided to sit inside and watch a pre-season football game, so the cops can deal with the crazies first without having to deal with us as well. As we are sitting there, my phone began exploding. My landlady was texting and calling me to ask what is this sign and demand that we remove it. I ignored her because I needed to live thru the chaos in front of me. I was also wondering how the heck she knew when CL basically has a restraining order against my landlady and cannot contact her directly. Apparently CL enlisted the Neighbors to contact landlady who had no idea who was texting her all kinds of crazy messages.
Eventually the police came over and knocked on the door. There are two — both young. One is soft-spoken and polite; the other is a bit tougher. We stepped outside to chat with them. They told us that they explained to the crazy neighbors that we are well within our First Amendment rights to have the sign in the yard. We began discussing the catalyst of the code enforcement officer visit. The neighbor came to the edge of our yard to videotape us. All 4 of us ignored her.
The cops told us that the neighbors were upset with the profanity. Tough cop, with a straight face, said that they were cursing like sailors as they said the profanity offended them, so he told them he couldn’t believe that. The tough cop then asked if we would remove the profanity. “I would hate for the neighborhood kids to see it, ” he explained. I refrained from being a smart ass by saying that if they could read it they had probably already learned that word. The Hunter graciously said that he had made his point and would bring the signs inside and did so. He had made his point, so the signs weren’t necessary. All 4 of us mulled over why CL would have such a strong reaction to signs that didn’t name anyone…..interesting…..
There is more to the story. I dealt with our landlady using the beautiful strategy of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, so our relationship has improved significantly. I sent her the GoPro video which she put on her Facebook, shared with friends and family and probably caused CL more drama because they have mutual FB friends. I never intended her to distribute it, but, hey, that’s her choice. In my email to my landlady, I warned her that if CL harassed us in any way, we would find it to be a threat and violation of our quiet enjoyment which could result in us moving out early. I called her and softened it by explaining that I needed to give her formal notice just to protect us both. She understood.
The other neighbors around us loved the dramatic evening. We heard from several, “she got what she deserved”. One sat with his wife in his backyard which ended up being a front row seat for the entire saga. He said it was one of his most enjoyable evenings in the neighborhood in years. CL had sicced code enforcement on him several times apparently.
Although at the beginning I was really nervous about such a huge confrontation with a neighbor, I ended up finding the whole episode ridiculously hilarious. It was a good learning experience for me about difficult confrontations. The stepson saw us the next day and gave us a sly grin and “What’s Up”. He and his dad are no longer allowed to chat with us, but he continues to say hello and wave.
All of this leads up to the past week where the Hunter has shown himself to be a better, more restrained, less vindictive person than me.
Today isn’t a good day. Actually the whole week hasn’t been a good one. Anxiety is overtaking me this week. Although I’m taking positive business development steps, these steps take time and I feel like I don’t have more time. Anxiety has been running through me constantly. I’m worried, frazzled and then to make things even that much worse — I’m not working. Yes, I have made it to all my networking events and was charming and nice. Yes, I answered all phone calls and didn’t send them to voice mail. Yes, I answered a few emails, but I haven’t done the work. I haven’t made the calls. I haven’t sent out this week’s introductory emails, snail mail, post cards, etc. that are essential for my survival.
The Hunter just left for a 10-day hunting trip. I think it’s a good idea that he’s not here. Let me embrace my panic and react to it with strong action steps. Let me control my schedule and not be at anyone’s beck and call but my own. Let me work as hard and as much as I can so I can reset my activity level. Let me take some Me Time and sit on the beach to think about where my life is and where I am going.
I think what set off my anxiety is a frienemy who just published a book. I started my company a couple of months before him and we talked about his pending company launch. His launch went much better than mine. He kept several good clients. He has a free office if he wants it. He just wrote a fucking book, has it on Amazon and even produced a cool video trailer (using some stock footage, but production quality is excellent) and he’s doing podcasts and small videos regularly. WTF — it makes me feel like a slacker. It doesn’t help that the Hunter is connected to him on LinkedIn and sees the guy’s constant stream of contents. It doesn’t help when the guy tells me he has 4,000+ LinkedIn connections. It doesn’t help when the guy tells me that he has made some good connections through all of this. It doesn’t help that we DIRECTLY compete.
I feel like I’m making excuses or downplaying the guy’s accomplishments when I say, “the podcast lost me in the 4th minute”. Robin agreed, but still. I also have my own point of view about social media marketing in my profession. I do it, but I haven’t done the podcasts or videos. That’s something I aspire to, so this guy’s actual execution makes me feel like a slacker. I send out regular helpful content to potential clients and clients alike, so it’s not like I’m doing nothing. I haven’t bought the book, but my GF said he got a ghostwriter — so what, the dude WROTE A BOOK. He’s getting activity and people are reaching out to him through LinkedIn. I’m not getting that type of response. The Hunter teases me and tells me to step up my game. At first I laughed. Now it stings a bit.
I am not living the life I dreamed of when I first left my Ex. I am taking steps to correct my financial course, but they aren’t bearing fruit as quickly as I want or need them too. I feel a bit disconnected from my business community and although I am going to networking events, I’m not meeting the big fish. I’m only catching guppies. I realize that big fish require patience, persistence, timing and the right bait. I know that intellectually but try telling that to my lizard brain at 3:00 am. I am in a business of high rejection and I guess that this week it is getting to me. I know the size fish I need to catch. I know exactly how many fish I need to catch in order to survive and thrive. Now I just have to remember what my coach tells me, “Action, action and more action.”
As the Hunter was preparing to leave this morning, I told him that I was anxious. He has seen this before so I know that he was thanking his lucky stars that he was headed out of town as I enter a full blown mental state. I told him that I realize that I’m running a marathon and I’ve hit that halfway point when everyone wants to give up, but I just have to keep running. I know all of this, but it still doesn’t keep the knot in my stomach at bay.
I have to go. I have yet another networking event but the good news is I am following it with Happy Hour with my girlfriends. I have more of the same tomorrow — a lunch with peers and then another Happy Hour with my BFF. Perhaps being around my friends will help. At least it will keep me out of my head for a few hours.