August 2004 Archives

August 29, 2004


Those of you that come here with any regularity (both of you,listen up .... ) might have noticed some changes of late. There are changes afoot, some good, some bad, and some pretty ugly ones that I was totally unprepared for.

First, the Good. Next week, I'm getting a new hosting company. Uptime with the website should be more reliable 1) because I'm paying for it and 2) because I'm paying for it. Yes, until now, I've had free hosting and have never complained ... I seriously believe the addage "You get what you pay for".

I signed up with IX Web Hosting last night and so far it's a pretty straightforward procedure ... except for ...

The Bad ... I've had the worst time renewing my domain name and now it's biting me in the ass. See, I bought my domain name from a GoDaddy reseller that has since gone out of business. When I tried to transfer it, I was told I couldn't because my information didn't add up. I tried to go back to the original company (did I mention they went out of business?) because my email address was WAY out of date and the new company couldn't confirm it was me because the email address was WAY out of date ... see where I'm going with this? I finally got on the phone with a rep from GoDaddy and he assured me that everything was taken care of and he renewed my domain name for me ... yet when I went to check my info on WhoIs, everything, including the email address is still wrong. I never got confirmation and now I'm unable to go in and change anything still. Yup, back on the phone with GoDaddy ... will do that as soon as I finish here. I need to change my nameservers ASAP before this place stops working on the old server.

That only means one thing is left ... yup, it's time for The Ugly ...

First ugly thing ... I'm sick. Not just "having a cold sick". But "sick as a dog" sick. Sick like I've never been sick before in my life. It started with a sore throat and quickly moved into my lungs. I thought I could manage everything with my rescue inhaler until I got the fever on Tuesday. After sleeping for 12 hours, it broke, and I went to work, thinking the worst was over. WEll, halfway through the day, I had the fever again. I went to bed as soon as I got home again and stayed there until morning. Thursday, I went back and forth all day between sweating profusely and having chills. I called the doctor that afternoon and explained what was happening and they told me they would call me right back. I went home to wait, hoping I would get into the office that afternoon. 7PM they called me back and told me to come in on Friday afternoon at 4:30. I struggled to get dressed for work on Friday, soaking through 2 sets of clothes before I could leave, and I was just 'there' at work, holding on until I could get to the doctor. By the time I got to their office, I was drenched again ... and feeling very attractive, let me tell you. When the nurse took my temp (102), she asked how long it had been this high. I told her I'd had it off and on since Tuesday but that it hadn't gone down since Wednesday afternoon. She remarked that she was suprised I could even sit up and brought me into the exam room to wait for the doctor.

The doctor, someone I had never met before, shook my hand, asked me what was wrong (as she took noted on her computer) and took a quickie exam ... eyes, earn, nose, throat. She listened to my breathing and then went back to her computer, asking only a few more questions before stepping out to pick up what she had printed. She gave me a scrip for Zyrtec (please, Z-pac, work your magic) and for a steriod inhaler and told me to come back in a week if I wasn't better.

Uhhh ... yeah, but what the hell do I have? She wrote on my bill that she saw me for bronchitis. Now, I know bronchitis ... I get bronchitis at least once a year ... and sir, this is NO bronchitis.

Since I saw her and started the Z-pac, my fever is still erratic (I've got to take advil every 4 hours or it soars back up ... as high as 102.5 for a while there), and I'm as weak as a newborn kitten. I'm also whiney and bitchy ... can ya tell? Ugh ...

That's not the only Ugly change ... but this is something else that I was unprepared for. If you notice, my website is only half of WordWhores. The other half was HeheheH, a brilliant, deviant, so totally wrong website that was run by the other idjit that started WordWhores. I have a long history with that idjit ... he was my first defender in VP when I first came online and together, we became a force to be reckoned with in VP ... until I couldn't stand it anymore. We started this website while he was visiting here and it's been a good thing ... until, inexplicably and without warning, his stuff was gone. Whoosh. No email. No snail mail. No carrier pigeon message. You would think that, if it meant enough, there would be a way to get a message through. I guess that's why it's ugly. At one time, I thought it meant enough.

Maybe that was the message. That was the click, the one I've been expecting all these years. Final and definite. After years of promises, inexplicable disappearances, and vague apologies, it's apparently not worth trying to even salvage our friendship anymore. It's too bad because our friendship was something that I treasured far more than anything else we had. I guess I shut off my bullshit detector and that's what I get.

*whoosh* indeed.

August 2, 2004

How to lose control without really trying...

Funny how some of us (and by "some of us", I mean "me") always seem to feel uber-responsible for all the ills of mankind.

Even funnier, in my opinion, is how the rest of us (and by "rest of us", I mean "anyone that isn't me") can just take things as they come without over-analyzing and internalizing everything to death.

I've always promoted the "water off a duck's back" school of stress reduction, namely just take a deep breath and duck and let things roll off ... after all, there is precious little that we mere mortals can actually do in the face of disaster. As Dr. B loved to say "You can not control other's actions, but you can control your reaction to their actions." Yeah, easy to say, not so easy to do.

I actually thought I had a pretty good handle on things. There have been relatively few instances of uncontrollable melancholy and nary a panic attack in sight. Sure, I still tear up when the situation warrants it but I've gotten much better at swallowing that, too. As a matter of fact, I've kept myself pretty tightly wound for a while now, not allowing things to get the better of me (and without chemicals, mind you), so much so that I've almost felt something like pride. In truth, I'm not sure how much of my new serenity and stability is attributable to my diet and subsequent weight loss and how much is sheer will. Hey, YOU take 59 lbs. off and tell me that everything doesn't seem possible.

This past month, though, has tested me, more than I even realized or wanted to admit.
At the beginning of July, I noticed my van was acting funny. Now Latonya, as we affectionately call her, admittedly has her quirks. (Yes, our van has a name and don't even think of making fun of her or she'll claw your eyes out - if she had claws, that is). Some days she won't start unless we rock her back and forth - or up and down - it really depends on her mood. I've had that checked out and the mechanic says she's possessed. Well, no shit, Sherlock, we knew that, just call a priest and let's get her exorcised. No, nothing we can do for that. I can accept that, though. We all have our quirks and we actually love Latonya's quirkiness, wouldn't change that for the world. This new problem, though, was something I knew in my gut I couldn't ignore.

One morning, after backing out of my driveway, she wouldn't go into drive. After shifting back to park and, then, back to drive, she engaged and we were off. The next morning, same thing, but she took a smidge longe. As her warm-up time increased over the next week or two, I had that gnawing in my gut that told me that I needed to get her into the shop before I lost the most expensive thing that I own, the very symbol of my freedom, the one thing I bought with the money I got after the divorce. Taking her to my regular maintenance guy proved fruitless for he said it was out of his area of expertise. I think he knew from the symptoms, he just didn't want to be the bearer of bad news.

I swung by the garage of his recommended transmission specialist, Tom, and made a plan to drop the van off Sunday night for a Monday morning inspection. I figured the $35 inspection fee was well worth it if there was nothing wrong ... you can't put a price on peace of mind, as Tom, my new best friend, said. In any case the $35 would go toward the repair feel so I wasn't losing anything.

The phone call I got about noon Monday was not positive. After some diagnostic testing, it was determined that the transmission had to be taken out of the van and taken apart to determine the extent of the damage. That alone would cost $350. I sensed a pattern but I said go ahead, thinking $350 still would be better than getting stranded on the side of the road with the kids in the middle of nowhere. For the rest of the day, I waited and waited and, just before the shop closed, Tom called to ask if I could come by in the morning so that he could explain exactly what had to be done.

HINT: That is never good, when they don't want to tell you on the phone. It's like the hospital calling you to tell you there's been an accident but not giving you any details unlkess you come down and then they take you into the little room off to the side and deliver the bad news that they did all they could, everything within their power, but the extent of the injuries was just overwhelming and they lost your loved one. I know foreshadowing when I hear it.

Okay, you think that's a bit melodramatic and far fetched?? Try walking into the garage and being led to the little room at the back, sympathetic and pitying eyes following your every step, where you find your beloved van's transmission is strewn from one end to the other of a 15' long work bench ... then have Tom walk you through every agonizing step of the autopsy, from how the transmission is supposed to work to exactly what went wrong, complete with a discussion of the viscosity of fluids and a demonstration of what a transmission should NOT look like.

HINT: it should not look like mine did, black and full of metal shavings.


We can rebuild her, Tom said.

She's in perfect mechanical shape and this would allow her to go probably another 130,000 miles, Tom said.

Once this is done, you won't even recognize her, Tom said.

Let's step into my office to discuss the estimate, Tom said.

As you can imagine, by now I'm about to puke and I need to take the long way out the nearest bay of the garage and into the parking lot before going back to the office just to clear my head, catch my breath, stop the tears. I signaled to my mom and the kids (who are waiting for me in her car outside) that it's not good while I try not to hyperventilate but knowing that if I go over there to talk to them, I'll lose it so I suck it up and take the long, slow motion walk to the main door.

I step back inside just in time to see Tom pulling up his stoll at the counter with the dreaded estimate clipboard. He put it on the counter with his arm over it so I can just see the edge of the paper. All I see are numbers and words and I know somewhere at the bottom there is a really big, BIG number and he won't move his fucking elbow off the counter so I can see that really big, BIG number and I consider, just for a second, snatching the clipboard away from him so I can just see the bottom line instead of listening to him telling me how much cheaper a reconditions torque converter would be, as if the concept of buying something reconditioned is new to me. Instead, I wait patiently until his arm moves and I actually am able to catch a glimpse of a dollar sign and a 1, which can't be good.

And it wasn't. No, after that 1 was a 6 and before the room turned inside out, the tears started. Now, I know Tom has been in this awkward position many times before but, frankly, his compassion didn't help the fact that he just told me that it would cost more than I take home in a month to fix a van that is worth less than I take home in a month. I left the office with the understanding that I would call him before he could start any more work and walked the long walk across the parking lot to Moms car.

Who knew such a small thing would take so much strength. 4 words. What's so hard about that, you ask? I bit my tongue, swallowed my pride and told my mom that I didn't know what I was going to do. Yes, I asked for help.

"Mom I need help".

After an awkward silence and some grumbling, she said that I could use one of her empty credit cards for the balance as long as I paid it off because, you know, the card is in her name and she doesn't want to be stuck paying for someone else's bill. I really resented the conditional release I got from her but I was grateful enough to swallow that bile. I had to resist numerous smart remarks because I'm in no position to piss her off, with my credit rating in the dumps and my car in the shop. I'm sure all accrued interest it will come out of my hide at a later date.

Later that afternoon, I called Tom to tell him to go ahead. It was a long week without Latonya but when he called on Friday to let me know that we could come get her, I was ecstatic. Of course, not having my car for a week of my summer vacation meant that I was behind a week in everything I needed to get done before school starts but that's the least of my worries. It's still 2 weeks to payday and I've got to go back to work with no clothes that fit. All this weight I've lost and I can't even show off. Even worse, my kids start middle school next week and they have no school supplies or new clothes.

Someday, I might be able to have a choice whether or not I want to resurrect a gutted gas-guzzler or buy a new car. Someday, I'll be able to say "yes" when my kids ask me for something. Someday, life will not be this tight. Someday, I'll be able to breathe.

For now, though, I can't help but feel as though I've fucked up somehow to put us in this position. Where did I go wrong? Telling Tom to fix the transmission? Buying Latonya in the first place? If I let myself dwell, I'm sure I can find a way to be responsible for it all.

I was told the other night that I apologize too much. Yeah, I do ... andI have to fight the urge to apologize for apologizing, it's that bad. Where the hell does that come from? Catholic conditioning from the original sin? Residual self-imposed guilt from my childhood? I've got plenty to feel guilty about ... abuse, divorce, rape, suicide attempts ... but none of it has to do with anything I'm going through now. Or does it? Doesn't it all come back down to thinking that I somehow deserve to be screwed over, that I don't deserve happiness?

And how does that manifest itself in my personal relationships? Do I choose to hold onto relationships, habits, patterns that are damaging because I think that I don't deserve better?
As Dr. B would have said ... why am I holding onto this guilt? What purpose does it serve? Why can't I cut myself a break?

And here I thought it was just a little car trouble.

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