Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Unpacking Continues

It is not unreasonable to think that since I've been living in Scott's house (which I'm supposed to think of as mine, but I still don't) for 3 months, I would be unpacked by now. Every box would be emptied, every belonging sorted and tossed or stored or shelved or situated nicely. After all, it has been 3 months. And I didn't even start my hideous new job until August 13th, so what the hell have I been doing with all my time?

Adjusting. Or trying to adjust. It takes me a ridiculously long time to adapt to change. Even sometimes just sitting here typing at night, I stop and look around and wonder how I got here. One day last week I was driving to work, noticing, again, the impossible-not-to-notice mountain scenery (impossible, at least, to someone who has spent almost her entire life in the midwest), and I looked at my hand on the steering wheel. At the diamond ring pressed up against the wedding band. And I thought "How did I land here?"

This is not some dramatic bloggy hint that I think I've made a mistake by getting married. This relationship has been so right from the very first moment we made contact that it was like finding the point of your life and doing a full-throttle rolling of the eyes in recognition that, oh, this is what things have been leading up to.

It is very hard to imagine where things might be headed when you're standing in the thick middle of a decade of teeth-gritting confusion. One decade ago this month started the worst, most heinously depressing, dismal time of my life. My stress level was radioactive. The changes included: marital status, moving from one country to another and then back, new job, new place to live, new friends. I felt as though I was on that gut-flipping downhill zoom of a roller coaster, that one where you can't even focus your eyes. When you board an actual roller coaster, you are warned to remove all your jewelry, glasses, hat, etc. when you hop on. My metaphorical roller coaster left my necklace safely hanging around my neck and instead yanked away everything I thought I had ever been sure of.

My life blew apart. I started a whole new career, teaching college. I had sworn when I was a grad student 10 years earlier that I would never ever teach again. I had hated the 3 semesters of it I'd endured in exchange for tuition. I'd done really well at it, but hated walking into that room every day to face the group. I suffered terribly from "stagefright." I ate so many pre-class Rolaids to keep from puking that I doubt I ever entered the room without having a white tongue. That was me, sitting on the beaten up sofa in the women's lounge, trying to slow my breathing and distract myself from the jittery breakfast in my stomach. It never got easier. But it never failed: When I would confide in a few of my students after the semester was over, and tell them how scared I had been to walk into the room, they were in genuine disbelief. "You?" they'd say. "YOU?"

Yes, me. And so it was with much gobsmackity that I looked around a decade later and there I was again. In a f*cking classroom, with a bunch of students waiting for me to break the ice. How had I fallen through the rabbit hole yet again?

And so it was with getting married again. It was my belief that if I ever were to have a husband again, he would be some amiably good guy who would make a nice partner and would be, you know, really nice and all. And he would probably have kids. I would be a reasonably happy, out-of-my-element stepmom to some kids. I didn't dare venture into hoping that I'd find a guy who maybe didn't have kids/ex-wife/complicated connections. Or who might be someone I could fall in love so deeply with that my heart felt like a happy dog rolling in the stench of dead rabbit remains. I know. I'm very romantic.

But here I am. My life has blown apart again. This time, in a much better way. That guy showed up. My heart is a happy dog. I recalibrated. The roller coaster is serpentining through a kaleidoscope of interesting scenery, and occasionally it slows down enough for me to take it in. Once again, I have very little idea what I'm sure of. But this time it feels less like losing my mind (a little less) and more like, I don't know, evolving. Midlife crisis-ish evolving. I know who I love, I know what makes me laugh, and I know what I'm homesick for. I also know that if I do not unpack these last 75 boxes, 2 things will happen:

1. We will not have our family room back. The one with the fireplace where cozy evenings happen on the couch. The couch that is still standing on end like a lonely, upholstered chunk of Stonehenge. Instead, we will have a room in which we climb like bitter mountain goats to get to a box we think my camera might be in.

2. On Monday the 24th, the people delivering our new elliptical (12 months same as cash!) will have no place to set it up. This simply will not do. Because in 2 weeks or so, there is no more pool usage for 8 months. Stop and think about how outrageously stupid that is. In Phoenix, which happens to be in the desert, the water in the pool is too cold to swim in from October to May. Thus, we need a different form of exercise. We can't have wild monkey trapeze-sex every day. Monkeys have a union now. They are persnickity about their work conditions.


  • At 8:22 AM, Blogger Carin said…

    I was at the other house yesterday, and trying to figure out if it would ever feel like home. So, I have that adjusting issue too. How can "there" feel like home, when I've lived in this other house for 14 years. Plus, changes. We'll be living with my dad. He can't really live on his own.

  • At 11:30 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Man, that IS a change. But I do like the extended family in one house thing. And your dad has always seemed so cool, from what you say about him.

    The whole "feeling like home" thing is tough to create. I couldn't do it here at all if I didn't have my cat with me.

  • At 12:02 PM, Blogger Jerry said…

    I bet one of the problems with adapting to this life change has to do with the wildly different geography. If you had moved to Ohio or Illinois, you would have been in a different place; Arizona is like a different planet compared to the Midwest.

    The radical new scenery adds a layer of difficulty to your adjustment. The people are probably way different--like the difference between New Yorkers and Californians--way different.

    Sounds like you have everything else working. The right companion, a job (you'll find a way to make it agreeable), good climate (sometimes you just want to cook your eggs on the sideway), and you will make new friends.

    And, you have your cat. Long as you have your cat, everything is bound to work out.

  • At 12:04 PM, Blogger Jerry said…

    Sidewalk, not sideway.

  • At 12:13 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    It's true, Jerry. This feels like a whole different planet. I keep thinking I'm on the set of "Gunsmoke."

    And there is much to be said for the sideway egg.

  • At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Stress Scale (up to 100)

    Death of loved one: 100
    Marriage: 50 Points
    Change in Responsibilities at Work: 29 Points
    Beginning or Ending of School: 26 Points
    Change in Living Conditions: 25 Points
    Change in Work Hours or Conditions: 20 Points
    Change in Residence: 20 Points
    Change in Schools: 20 Points
    Change in Recreation: 19 Points

    Looks like you are off the chart, Candy. Breathe. Breathe.

  • At 1:49 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    I am so screwed. I feel faint...

    "We've lost her! CLEAR!"


    "Again! CLEAR!"

    Oh, where was I...

  • At 3:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I really believe Jerry has hit the nail on the head. After all of the moving around I did in the AF--including living overseas, I never felt so totally out of my element as when I was in Arizona. That climate and the people--not to mention the SIZE of that city--really too some getting used to.

    After leaving the desert, my home for nearly 8 years, I almost instantly felt at home again in the Midwest. It was hard to feel at home in AZ, but part of that may have been because we spent most of our time there trying to get out. I had left orders for Dave to bury me in the Midwest, should I die in Arizona. I was getting out of there one way or another.

    But even though where I live now is very different from where I grew up, I feel as though I am home again. There are big trees, changing seasons, rivers with--get this--WATER!

    It will probably take a while to feel like you're at home out there. But once everything else starts to settle in your life, the unfamiliar territory will be less of an issue. At least, it was for me. Once I made some good friends and started to feel connected to my community, the climate was less of an issue. I was able to feel at peace, even if I didn't feel like I was "at home." Plus, those mountains never fail to take a Midwesterner's breath away. I always felt myself looking at them with the same "I can't believe I live here," awe that you must feel. Those "wow" moments are pretty cool. And it is always interesting to reflect on how you got there--to examine the little twists and turns in your life that have brought you to that very moment. At least, I always thought so.

    I found this quote in my page-a-day calendar. It is from someone named "Anne."

    "Realizing that my life has turned out so much better that it would have if I had been able to control it when I wanted to has been one of the greatest insights of my life."

    Anne is pretty smart, isn't she? I keep that one on the fridge.

  • At 3:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    He's proof positive that God loves you and wants you to be happy.

    Or is that beer? I think it's beer.

  • At 3:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Who can take a sunrise (who can take a sunrise)
    Sprinkle it with dew (sprinkle it with dew)
    Cover it with choc'late and a miracle or two
    The Candy Man (the Candy Man)
    Oh, the Candy Man can (the Candy Man can)
    The Candy Man can
    'Cause he mixes it with love
    And makes the world taste good
    (Makes the world taste good)

    It was only a matter of time. Someone had to go there.

  • At 5:34 PM, Blogger Jerry said…

    "Realizing that my life has turned out so much better that it would have if I had been able to control it when I wanted to has been one of the greatest insights of my life."

    This is truly a piercing insight; I did the opposite. I over-controlled my life and paid the price in every area. I have never been happy leaving anything to chance, but in many cases chance could not have led to a worse outcome than the one I orchestrated.

    Futuresis is right on all counts. I moved from Atlanta to El Paso and adapted after I decided to make the most of it. I think that has a lot to do with it also. Give up the past and start making the best of your current circumstances.

  • At 6:08 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Futuresis...I'm glad I'm not alone in feeling that AZ is absolutely foreign. I'm finding the people a very different ilk from midwesterners. Not better or worse, but in general a little harder to warm to. Kind of aloof.

    You have rivers there? I hate you.

  • At 6:14 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Ana, I think it's beer. Beer and cheesecake.

    Oh and thank you for making me do a little Sammy Davis Jr. dance in my head. Poor Scott has a new pet name now, too. I'll use "Candy Man" in place of "Puppy Feet" for awhile.

    Jerry, I'm totally sold on letting go of the past and making the best of it here. It's the specifics that can be baffling and therefore the gist of the adventure.

    But I know my life is great in lots of ways. I'm very content about having gone through pukingly bad times so I can eat this time up like, um, cheesecake. I have no idea where this theme is coming from.

    That quote from "Anne" makes my head spin. I've never felt like I had control of my life anyway. But if I had, I'd have shredded it even more, I think. Better to be the passive bystander and let others run things. :)

  • At 9:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sidewalk fried eggs is one of the first things they teach you at culinary school here.


    The Artiste known as "Candy Man"
    Formerly know as "Puppy Feet"


  • At 10:25 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Look, "Candy Man," it's late. You should be summoning the monkeys. And don't forget their little jackets.

  • At 10:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I remember that we had the 45 for Candy Man. Sammy probably nailed that in one take, then it was off to the Strip with the Rat Pack.

  • At 10:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Tip from one slag to another: I've found that monkeys rarely go on strike (or fling their poo) as long as you keep a nice selection of Little Debbie treats on hand.

    By the way, Mrs. Happy Doggy Heart, I hope Scott P. realizes that he's the only guy we would ever have allowed to take you away from us. No one else would have cut it.

  • At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow. High praise indeed, Jackie. I'm truly and sincerely honored to hear that.

  • At 11:11 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Yeah, he's so honored that he's allowed me to chew through the duct tape to type a few lines.

    I miss you, Jackie O.! Big time.

    And my formal name is Mrs. Caninus Smilus.

    I heard Little Debbie is a ho. ho.

  • At 8:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hee-hee....Candy Man. Wait till I tell Dave that one! Of course, he'd really enjoy hearing about Puppy Feet too.

    Scott does make the best sidewalk eggs in the Northern Hemisphere. It must be the mixed-in love.

  • At 12:03 PM, Blogger Domhan said…

    Wow. My head is so full from both Candy's original post and from the comments that I can't muster up anything to say at all. Insightful or not. Wait. Let me try.

    Fish. Troubleshoot. Bumpersnot! Bumpersnot! Gladiators aplenty.

    See? See what ya'll have done to me? Now I have too damn much to think about. I'll never make it through today's freshman comp class.

    Candy, I canNOT believe that was ten years ago. Don't let me snap my fingers. Otherwise I might find myself sitting on the moon thinking, "Wasn't I just typing in Candy's blog?"

    That "realizing my life" quote is haunting. One of my friends and I often end our lunchtime-"life gripe" sessions with, "This is not the life I signed up for." But I can't imagine the wonderful things I would have missed if I had been given the choices I wanted (or thought I wanted) in my life.

    And when my life feels out of control, I tell myself, "Ok. So for now THIS is my life." For me, that somehow lets me accept what's going on a little. Right now, in fact, I'm having to accept a different view of ME because of things in my life that have changed. I don't like it. No sir, not one bit. But for now, THIS is my life.

  • At 12:05 PM, Blogger Domhan said…

    ...and there are not NEARLY enough M&Ms in my trailmix today.

    That is all.

  • At 12:33 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Domhan, we are always on the same page, it seems. It has to do with that bonding in grad school. I can remember the first time I called you a b*tch. I'm misty-eyed thinking about it.

    Yeah, and it IS hard to believe that was ten years ago. I get emotional whiplash just looking at it all.

    But no fake, I'm thinking along the same lines. Perhaps because there has been an abundance of Tony Robbins media in our house as of late, (it's funny what you find when you unpack) I've been switching from "I hate my life" to "I love my life. Things are just difficult right now."

    Then of course I have a backlash from my dark cold heart which yells obscenities to little children and feeds Ex-Lax to neighborhood dogs. And then I feed the children to the dogs.

    But it's a start.

  • At 7:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have moved a few times - once to get married (and move due to his job)
    Albeit I was so in love I missed all I left - (a concept that settles in)

    I had no problem leaving N NJ behind to Ohio - the midwest surprised me.
    While our house was packed up (To move back to PA) - and awaiting movers memories fell all over me - I could remember how I loved every moment of raising our kids at this house.
    I couldn't drive by this house as distance would take over
    I'd like to say change is good - but nobody likes to unpack
    and when I do (many months later) I am baffled how I lived without what was 'in' those boxes anyway. It's like opening up a gift after so long.

    Great post - :)

  • At 7:23 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thanks, Kel, and I love the phrase "memories fell all over me." What a great image.

    Yeah, no matter how big the love is that made you move to a new spot, the homesickness hits. It's sort of a relief in some ways, like confirmation that, OK, this scenario isn't so perfect that I have to be paranoid that it's not real. It's a reality check. I was always a kid who was relieved if one of my Easter eggs was cracked. :)

  • At 9:07 PM, Blogger Lisa Dunick said…

    really? you can't swim in your pool?? Don't they have solar covers or something to warm up the water a bit? And don't you have enough experience with bitterly cold midwestern winters to brave a little tepid water? And since when do monkeys have a union? I certainly didn't get notice.

  • At 9:19 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    LD, we ain't got a pool heater. They're way expensive. I thought we could just get a bunch of those electric coils like you heat up a cup of water with. But apparently not.
    Even in the midwest I could not locate a steel bra. Which I would need in the cold frosty pool.

    The monkeys are funny about the union. The Jimmy Hoffa thing spooked them.


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