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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Getting a little more than you bargained for....

I go back and forth on the reason WHY I actually blog...

When I first started blogging, I was going through a rough patch with Lupus.  I felt like total crap. There was so much going on in my life & I needed an outlet.

If you've been reading me long enough, you know that I don't like to play the poor, poor, pitiful me game.  This will NEVER be a full on Lupus blog.

It will never be any one thing.

Let's face it, I'm a hot mess.  I know this.  I've got years of blog fodder just in my screw ups that led me to where I am today.

It is what it is.  You can either laugh or cry.  If you cry, you'll have to keep fixing your make up and your face will be a puffy red mess.  Ewww!

I'll laugh.  It's way more fun.  You can laugh too, it's OK.
I'm used to being laughed at... Um I mean with.

In reading other's blogs, you kind of see what everyone's "niche" is.  I didn't have a "niche."  Then I realized - I don't need one.  I just need to be ME.  I'm my own totally dysfunctional little niche.  Ain't life grand?

I've come a long way in my little life.  I'm not saying I've got it figured out.  I haven't.

For certain I always want to help, to make a difference by somehow taking the absolute shit in my life & putting it out there in a way that it may help someone else.  I think it's important for other people to see the "Hey, if that tripping, bumbling mess of a woman got through it, I can too."

When I was younger, I was totally that needy, clingy person.  I hate that.  I hate to say it "out loud."  I hate to look back and see all the stuff I just put up with just to feel loved.

I look back on that "me" and think WOW.  How sad. How many times did I allow myself to be treated badly?  Just to feel think I felt loved.

I'm so thankful that I've come so far beyond that.


I see it in my "short one" and it scares the hell out of me.  If she becomes a permanent fixture in our lives, it will take so much work to make this little girl believe that she's worthy of love just by being who she is.

I look at her and I see me at her age.  I see this little person craving love and attention.  I see the teenage me I grew into & the young 20 something.  I cringe.

I KNOW that I was no piece of cake.  The loving caring person I am now is the same person I was back then..  but on crack.  :)  Metaphorically, not actually.

Back then, I would lay down all I was for another person just to get an ounce of love and attention.  If they were mean to me, clearly I wasn't trying hard enough.  I needed to do more and more - until the inevitable.  They couldn't take being smothered.  They couldn't take the needy me and they moved on or they just wore down and gave in.
That was very significant since the relationships I'd formed were long term.  What was worse is that when they wore down and gave in, I lost interest.  It was a vicious cycle.  Almost an unplanned game where there was no winner.  I'm not proud of that.

I hate to look at that part of who I was.  Hate it.

In the long run, I needed to be hurt, broken & made to be jaded.  I needed to grow up and I needed to learn that I am ME.  I am a great me.  If I give from my heart, it should just be for my love of others - not expecting to receive love in return.  For the simple joy of giving.

It's taken a long time.


In some ways, I'm still that person and will always be - but now I know why I do what I do.

Because I love.  From the heart.... Just because.  Simple as that.

...and THAT is why I blog.

THIS is my imprint on this planet.  My "niche."

Giving you a little more than you bargained for, just for the sake of love & knowing one person may relate and feel a little better about themselves.

Lots of love,

Jenn

~I've had a difficult time getting this out of my brain and through my fingers.  I hope the message came across properly and it wasn't too muddy.  My brain feels muddy :)

Love from the heart.  Be you.  Let love come to you and do from your heart expecting nothing in return.  You are the best you you can be and that's AWESOME!  






Tuesday, November 27, 2012

You always hurt the ones you love...

Have you ever noticed that those who know the most about you and that you trust the most are the people who hurt you the most?

It's not such a surprise, it's the reason that songs like this were made.
"You always hurt the ones you love, you always break the kindest heart"
(Ryan Gosling/Jimmy Kimmel Parody)

Ever wonder why that is?  Is it the need to rise above, while crushing another?  I've never really understood, but I've most certainly have been victim to in the past.  Yes, by people whom I've trusted with my heart.

..and I've stepped back & walled up and that's that.
...I'm just not that tough.

I'm not so innocent.  I've broken hearts in my past, but I've never done so using my knowledge of a person or their deeds, against them.  I find that a huge breech of loyalty and friendship.

A huge betrayal.

I'm backwards, I suppose.  If I feel a type of bond with someone, I give them a little bit of trust & build from there.  Break it and it's gone forever.

Loyalty is important to me.  If you are my friend or someone close to me and I've given you my love and trust - I am loyal to you.  Your secrets are my secrets.  I will defend you until the end and I won't let another speak against you.  It is for this reason, that when someone takes things they know about me and uses those things against me to make themselves somehow look better, it totally crushes me.

Forgiveness is the easy part.  It's the trust.

How could you give someone you heart & all that goes with it, have them crush it & then go on as if nothing has ever happened?  I'm not sure it's possible.  I struggle with this.  Constantly.

In my life I've had a few relationships go horribly wrong for this exact reason.

I hate to believe that I'm an easy mark.  I may be accommodating, but I'm no fool.

I have, though, been sucked into the "net" where I've let my guard down and believed in the relationship I'd formed.  (Note: relationship is general and not specific)  Only to be broken.

Trust shattered.  Wall up.  Things forever changed.

No one is above another.  We are all just people.  Some have more, some have less.  Some can do, others can't.  YOU are not better.  You are just you.

Is it REALLY worth breaking the heart of someone who you KNOW loves you to death and who would do anything for you - just to rise above, or look better for a split second?

In the long run, how do you look standing there alone?

When the love you love most of all can take no more...

Is that the look you were going for?

Does that make you feel better about yourself?

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn

You always hurt the one you love
The one you shouldn't hurt at all
You always take the sweetest rose
Crush it, til the petals fall

You always break the kindest heart
With a hasty word you can't recall


PS.  For anyone who may worry about me with this blog... it doesn't pertain to me at all at this point in my life.   :) xoxo  Love you all!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Surprise potty for the hubby!

Ahhhh, peace and quiet.

It's Sunday morning as I type this out.

It's been such a whirl wind (no pun intended) since the "Super Storm" hit New Jersey.

Today, there is quiet.

My husband works for the utility company.  He is NOT in the electric department, however, he has been called out constantly and has been working his tail off.  He's been gone for what seems like the entire month and it's been all me, and the girls.  Mommy needs this quiet.

Presently, he's visiting his family in Costa Rica & I have worked diligently to prepare a HUGE surprise for him.

When we bought our home, we bought the neighborhood not the house.  The house, although charming & full of character, is old.  Old like me & older.  Not just out dated, but stuff needed to be done.

We moved in knowing immediately that the house would NOT remain pink, or salmon - whatever color it was.  We knew by the home inspections that we had plumbing & water issues.  We knew we needed a roof and landscaping and just stuff.  You can only get so far before you run out of funds.  It is what it is...

We've been wanting the bathroom done.  We've NEEDED the bathroom done.  There is was God awful paneling in the bathroom.  Yes, paneling.  Floral fru, fru - ugly disgusting paneling.  I have hated it since day one, but ya know - bathrooms are expensive so I dealt with it.  I dealt with it until the day I opened the vanity cabinet and saw that the composite was deteriorating & the vanity was collapsing under the weight of the sink.  I knew we had to get a move on.

Hubby is busy -- really busy.  Normally, he likes to be the one to do the fix its around here.

So, SURPRISE!!  Bathroom remodel, "While You Were Out" style!

I hesitate to put this up here, but since I know he's already en-route, there's not much danger in him reading my blog.  Meh, not much danger in that anyway.

Today, all is quiet.  My brother is enjoying quiet time in his space.  I'm enjoying quiet time in my space.  There are no children awake at the moment.  The house is clean(ish).  There is no noise, and the bathroom looks great.

I'm so excited for him to see it!!!

A great big, giant THANK YOU to my baby brother for not only jumping in to do this for me, but pulling it of in the time allowed.  You did an amazing job & I'm so proud to call you my brother!
oxoxo

To the world, thank you for reading my blog!

Have a great day!

~Jenn

...as I actually typed this out LAST Sunday, I hesitated to post it just in case.  As an update, the surprise went off amazingly well!!!  My brother finished 98% at 1 AM on Wednesday night.  Hubby got home at 1:30 AM and he was REALLY surprised!!!  Thank you again, Darren!  You are the best brother in the world!!  xoxo

Friday, November 23, 2012

Who's the lead singer of Aerosmith?, The Creepy Foot Rub & Alien Underwear - Minus 1 - Concert review plus :)

Just your typical girls night out, right?

Well it is for our group of ladies!!

Yes, that's right - all we sophisticated ladies piled on into our friend's mini-van and headed into the big city, New York City, that is.  Like bosses!

As we emerged from the minivan, (minus 1) one by one, into the deep, dark depths of "Central Park" (that's the garage name) our hair blew back with gentleness and grace from the prop fan.  (Placed there for our amusement, if nothing else.)  We emitted style and grace and strutted our stuff, tripping over our own feet only a few times.  All five of us:  The school teacher, the girl scout leaders, the mother of triplets & the foster mom.... prancing in our heels taking on the streets of Manhattan, just like Sex and the City.....

Ok, well maybe not.  But that's totally how we felt about it.

This was certain to be a night of excitement....How could it not be?  Steven Tyler was involved.

Drinks & appys at Jack Dempsey's first...I have to say - you should probably be drunk and fed before you arrive here.  We only got appetizers, but they were mediocre at best AND my Blue Moon was flat.  Boo!  This was just the warm up of the evening.  Drinks, to unwind from the typical hellish commute through the tunnel & into the city, interesting dinner conversations, secrets spilled & laughs that could not be contained.

Onto the show...the almost 40 gals led the walk down the streets of the city, as the pushing 50 crowd pulled up the rear.

I am a HUGE Cheap Trick fan from wayyyy back!  I had a secret love affair going with Robin Zander that I've never let him in on.  It was nice to see him looking so well after all these years.  As I flash back through the pages of my mind, I do recall him looking much hotter in the poster that hung on my wall - but that was almost 30 years ago.  :sigh:  I probably also appear little bit differently than he remembers.  Those boys still do rock!  They are minus Bun E. Carlos on drums & Tom Peterson - but Rick & Robin ARE Cheap Trick.  Did I mention that they were like 100 feet away from me??  If I could have jumped about 10 rows & over the stage stairs - I could have been right up along side Robin.  Then I though, restraining order.  Kidding.  Rick & Robin DO rock it out - they sound as amazing as they did 30+ years ago!  Oh hush ... yes!  30+ years ago... I'm an old bat, remember??  lol

But wait, there's more....
Hellooooo.... Steven Tyler!  Hey, wait...Who's the lead singer of Aerosmith?  Yes, that jaw dropping comment is one of the many laughs that made the evening what it was.  Pfft, everyone knows the lead singer of Aerosmith is Jon Bon Jovi!  Sheesh!  :)

As was Robin - Steven was like 100 feet away from us.  At one point - he was even closer.  If only we'd been one section over, he could have sang directly to me.  (as if he wasn't anyway, pfft.)

Can I just tell you?  If you like Aerosmith, even a little bit - GO TO SEE THEM!  What an amazing performer this man is, and at 64!  Of course, it's the whole band, but Steven Tyler IS Steven Tyler.  The man can move, sing, dance, play multiple instruments - he is all about his audience.  At one point he pulled this little teen-aged girl on the stage to dance with him.  She was clearly random, because I swear the kid looked like she was ready to shit a brick.  I'd have traded places with her in a second.  AH.MAY.ZING!  Truly!!  I've been to many, many, many concerts.  I saw Aerosmith in 1986 with Ted Nugent.  I don't remember them being, back then, as good as they are now.  Like wine, better with age.

Enough of show reviews....let's move on to the girlie events.  We are all nuts in our very own special way.  Some of us hide it better than others.  I'm not one of the ones who hide it - Proudly flying Freak flag high.  For this reason, I believe, people think I'm way crazier than I actually am.  On that, NO - I have really NEVER had a back stage experience, lol.  I'm much calmer and more innocent than I portray, I suppose.  It does make me both laugh and cringe just a bit that I brought shock and awe about NOT having a "back stage experience."  :)

Speaking of crazy friends - and I mean this in the kindest most loving way....  I did mention that we were all donned in our finest heels?  Ouch our barkin' dogs...  But let's not let that stop us!  Let's take off our shoes & hang them over the seat in front of us.  "Hey guy... yeah you, over there, my feet hurt - would you rub them?"  Yes this happened and yes, he did rub them.  I'm not sure which is funnier.  Nope, not telling who, but it happened.  Followed by.. "Hey, are you wearing alien underwear?  Because your ass is out of this world."  No lie.  But when you ask for a creepy foot rub, you get all that comes along with it.

Secrets yes, lies - no.  Fun...ABSOLUTELY.  Only one thing missing.... Next time!  No excuses!

Hope you enjoyed this craziness.

If you've learned anything from this post, let it be that time with your friends is priceless.  Go out, have fun, spill secrets, dance & be crazy.  You only live once... OMG did I just say that??  I did...

Oh, and Aerosmith rocks - as does my Cheap Trick!!

Thank you for reading my silliness & have a fabulous day!

~Jenn

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ten Things I'm Grateful For...

(Re-post from April 30, 2012)

After a rough few days.... I've decided to take "The 10 things I'm Grateful For" challenge as issued by You Know it Happens at Your House Too.

I thought I'd have to really think about this, but luckily I know what I'm grateful for!  I happily could fill more than ten spots.
Here are my 10:

1.  First and foremost, I'm grateful to have God in my life.  I know not everyone is a believer.  I'm thankful that I am and that I could feel how much my relationship with Christ has grown over the past 10 years.  Without Him in my life, none of the rest of this would even be possible.  I truly, completely believe this.

2.  My hubby.  This man is truly a gift from God to me.  I am no piece of cake.  I'm spoiled, moody, impulsive and pretty much a total whack job - and he loves me anyway.  He doesn't try to change me.  He lets me be me.  I couldn't ask for more.

3.  My beautiful, wonderful, amazing children.  I am so incredibly proud of my kids.  My son is the light of my life.  He has proven to me that not only is there a light at the end of a very difficult tunnel, but it shines even brighter every day!  I always knew my son was a shining star - but he's surpassed all of my expectations.  He makes me so proud!

My daughter is also an amazing bright shining star.
She hasn't required a whole lot of elbow grease (yet) but give her time, she's only 9.  She's smart, beautiful & she's got an amazing heart full of love.  She has shown so much love and compassion to every single child that has come through our home without a hint of jealousy.  (Well, maybe once or twice.)  It truly makes me proud to see her interact with these kids.
She is such a good girl with a beautiful soul!

And last, but not least, my little chickadee.  I may not have given birth to this beautiful little angel, but she's MINE.  I hope one day we will have the opportunity to make that official.  For the time being, she lights up our house with her bubbly, bouncy little personality.  She amazes me in the way that someone, who's been through so much at such a young age, still draws pictures of rainbows & flowers.  Smiles big smiles & gives great big hugs.

4.  With chickadee in mind, I am also thankful for the opportunity to be a foster parent.  I love kids.  I would have had like 5 of them if my body agreed, but this was clearly God's plan for me - and I love this too.  In this, I'm also thankful for being given the gift to relate to kids who need love, attention and proper guidance.
I love being able to make a difference - even if it's a small one.

5.  I'm thankful for my amazing friends.  I may not hang in a giant group of friends, but I don't need to.  I have Lynne who I've been friends with since 8th grade, as well as my other "forever friends" and friends I've re-acquainted with (thank you, Facebook) whom I forgot how much I loved and missed until I saw them again.  I've got Trish and my "mommy friends."  These are the most amazing and wonderful women I could ever ask for.  Muwahh ... kisses to you all!

6.  I'm thankful for this blog and for all of you reading.  Believe me, I know some of the stuff I post leaves you thinking... What the heck did I just read??  I know there are days I get all gushy and emotional, sometimes totally pissed off and ranting, but sometimes - just sometimes - I've got something good to say that makes a difference.  Also to all of my fellow bloggers.  I've learned so much from you & I love this little bloggie community!  So thank you all, you wonderful people!

You do know this is sarcasm, right?
7.  I'm thankful that I never actually "let people go".  I get pissed off, I say what I have to say & I'm done.  Sometimes the other person doesn't want to deal with me ever again, but I'm like a dog with a bone.  I love everyone & unless you're a total tool or just a mean awful person, I want you in my life.
I like you there and you're stuck with me, darn it!

My kitty, Salem :)
8.  I'm thankful for my beautiful little kitty cat who is asleep on my lap. She is the sweetest, most beautiful princess kitty there is.  She "talks" to me every day.  I ask "where's my kitty" and she has her little special meow that she answers in.  She is my very own personal alarm clock.  I'm very thankful for that during the week, not so much on Saturday morning.

9.  I'm thankful I have a job!  I know I only work part time & truth be told, my husband could really carry it all - but I don't want him to.  I make good money and I like it!  I keep my brain active.  I'm productive & I'm good at my job!  I love the company I work for & even if "the Italians" don't always get me, they're very good to me.  I'm treated well and respected for the job I do.
Thank you for keeping me in shoe shopping money. 

10.  Finally, I'm thankful to still be among the living.  I know this should be closer to the top - but without all the rest of the stuff I posted, this wouldn't mean nearly as much to me.  I was really sick a few years back.  The doctors were scratching their heads and it didn't look good for me.  It was a really scary time.  I said good bye to people & made peace with my past...and then I changed medicines and stopped taking medicines & suddenly started improving.  I've come a long way & have learned to live well with Lupus.

I know I made this list seem much longer.  It really was hard to stop at 10!  I know sometimes we forget about all the wonders we really and truly have in this life.  Especially when the crap starts to build up so high you can't see anything positive on the other side.

I now pass this challenge onto each and every one of you.  If you are a blogger, please put your blog site up so that others can come show you the love.

If you feel moved, please mention a few of your favorite blogs so we can share the love.  Mine are: (first the foodie chicks)  My beautiful friend, Carrie @ Carrie's Experimental Kitchen, The Happy Little Tomato and Forkful of Comfort. Now the non-foodies:  Underachiever's Guide to Being a Domestic GoddessI Want a Dumpster Baby  and the very cute Faith @ Little Moments by Faith  (I think she's adorable)  -- Oooh, Crap - and Jenn @ People I Want to Punch in the Throat  - I just modified because I hate to leave certain folks out.  I've learned a lot about blogging from these wonderful women (yes the men bloggers too, I will pay homage another day.)  Thank you, Ladies!

Please go visit these sites & don't forget to visit the issuer of this challenge: You Know it Happens at Your House Too

I know I've left many off, next time - promise!  The blogging community is a wonderful group of folks

So, get started!  I pray you all see the good so brightly that you want to add more than 10 items as well!

Thank you all so much for reading my blog!

Lots of love,
Jenn

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Unknown...

I was jarred awake by a horrific nightmare at 4 am.... The same nightmare brought about an extreme sense of motherly protection not only for my 6 year old foster child, but for someone whom I have never met, but feel a great sense of protection over.

It's as terrifying typing this out now, as it was living it in my dream.

It never seems as terrifying on paper to see the terror this dream created, or the raw emotions that brought me to tears bringing forth the feeling that - I must protect.

I can still feel myself holding the door closed.  Doing all I can to put all my strength against the heavy oak door.  Shielding others.  Pushing my back up against the door, using my leg muscles to push harder - all while reaching for the lock and the chain.  Terrified that my efforts wouldn't be enough - that my little one would be snatched away and put in terrible danger.  That I wouldn't be able to save her or my other sweet friend from the dangers that lie on the other side of the door.

The other side of the door was... unknown.  Not knowing what to do or how to effectively save these individuals whom I feel so protective over.  My wanting to save them from this terrible - awful, unknown.

I try to make sense of all of this as I type it out.  Nothing comes together.  I have flashes of faces in my mind and feel the anxiety that I can't help.  I don't know how to.  I don't know if I'm supposed to.

As a parent, I face new and different things every day.  At one point I was sure that I had this whole parenting thing down.  My son was challenging, but he is an amazing young adult.  My daughter is an amazing light full of brightness and joy.  The short one, an adorable bundle of energy - and my newest challenge.  My "unknown."  My ward to protect.

As I go on with my morning - I feel a sense of ease, knowing that it was all just a terrible dream.

Knowing that I can only do what I can do, and that's just to love.

...even the unknown

Thank you for reading my blog.

~Jenn

The simple life....

I've never been one of those people who need to keep up with the Jones'...

Yes, I like nice things - but I also like to keep it simple.


I don't NEED to have the latest greatest anything. I've got all I need.  I don't need to make my life appear better by getting the latest greatest thing because someone else has something bigger, better, faster, cooler - whatever.....

Who flippin' cares?

It reminds me of the Christmas movie "Deck the Halls" with Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick where they're trying to out do each other with the house lighting...  In the end, it just blew up.

I'm not the type of person to care if your house is bigger, if your kids are better dressed or if you shop at Neiman Marcus... I don't care, I don't care, I don't care.  I also don't want you to care what I've got, where I go and how much anything I have - or don't have.

Jealousy and competition are a waste of time, energy and emotion.

Get over it!

Chances are, if I've got it and you need it - I'll just give it to you.

I don't like my feet being held to society's fire.  If I want something I'll go buy it - because I want it, not because it will make me cooler, more popular, more beautiful...  Blah Blah Blah - it's all BS!

I must have learned this from my dad.  He was very Peace, Love and Tie Dye.  He would have been happy living in a tee-pee as long as his family was fed & happy.

Yeah, once upon a time - I may have wanted the bigger, better deal.  As I've aged & had a few close calls with health issues, I've gotten a handle on what's really important.  It's clear to me that I've got the best deal there is!

When it really comes down to it - in the end, no one cares if you've left behind a mansion and a millions of dollars.  While it's true that it's much nicer to cry in a Mercedes than on a bicycle, when it's done, it's done.  Gone, finished, kaput.

It's all about being happy (content) while you're here.  It's about being the best you that you can be and doing for others.  It's about enjoying your friends & family and just living life.

When you're gone, no one will care about the millions you've left behind.  They're going to talk about the kind of person you were and the imprint you've left on this planet.

Keep it simple & be happy with yourself.  The rest will fall into place.

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn

Saturday, November 17, 2012

How Suicide Has Affected Me - My Real Life Story

I don't like to go to this place in my brain.

I try to stay fun and positive as often as possible, but since I do have a forum and the potential to positively affect at least one person reading...

** Disclaimer:  This is my own very personal life experience.  This post is not intended to give advice in any way, but to give a glimpse into the life of one suicide survivor, me, in the hopes of helping another. If you are struggling in any way, please refer to the links at the bottom of this post or seek professional help.  Thank you. **

I was 18 years old when two police officers rang my doorbell at just about 7 am.  I was startled by the early wake up.  It was a Wednesday morning.  I didn't have any classes that day.  I was intent to sleep in as I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before.  I lived with my dad, and all night long I had feelings of ill ease.  I woke several times looking for my dad and wondering why he wasn't home yet.

When I answered the door, the police officers asked me if there was an adult at home.  Feeling offended at the age of 18, I got snippy.  After all - legally, I was an adult.  I stated that I lived with my dad and he hadn't come home last night.  Was everything alright?  They instead asked if my upstairs neighbors were home.  I directed them around back & went back to bed.

Shortly thereafter, Renee came downstairs looking pale and asking me for my mother's phone number.  I knew something was wrong, but no one would tell me anything.

Renee left as quickly as she'd arrived.  Now I couldn't go back to sleep.  I wanted to know what the hell was going on.

Where is my dad?  He left here so upset.  He and I had an argument over the plumber & the cost to fix the bathroom ceiling.  I was trying my best to help, but I was just a kid.  I didn't know how to hire a contractor.  He seemed unreasonably upset with me.  He had been pretty upset for a few months now.  I never knew why.  I questioned him regarding his behavior - but he was my daddy and I was the kid.  I was out of line.  I respected that.

The minutes that ticked by before my mother arrived seemed like seconds.  The moments that played out after she walked through the door, are etched in my mind forever.

My Aunt behind me, my mother in front of me as she told me, "Jenny - your father is dead."

I can still hear the words echoing in my mind.  Swirling around as if I were dizzy and ready to vomit.  The anger welled up inside me as I screamed at her, "YOU'RE LYING!  You're jealous that I have a better relationship with Daddy than you.  GET OUT!"  I even remember cocking back to hit her when my aunt grabbed me from behind and hugged me hard.  I can remember her very calm, comforting voice in my ear, "Sweetheart, she is telling the truth.  I'm so sorry."

No one would give me details.  I was a mess.  I remember screaming and crying and throwing things.  As I relive this now, I am brought to tears.

But there is more.

I knew, instinctively that my dad had taken his own life.  I KNEW.  I don't know how I knew, I just did.  I had seen the gun.  Held it in my hands.  I had questioned my dad about that gun.

My dad was a "bar guy."  He was single & he was to the bar almost every night.  He hung out in some pretty rough places, so his excuse of having the gun for protection made perfect sense to me.

After hearing of his death, I regretted not taking it and hiding it as I'd wanted to.  I felt somehow responsible.  Yet - no one was telling me the truth.  No one was telling me anything.  I begged. I pleaded. I demanded.  Nothing.

Hours later, there it was, in the local section of the newspaper in black & white...

"Man 42 found shot to death in his vehicle.  Suicide suspected."

Confirmation.

I read the article over and over again.  The scenario created itself in my brain and sunk deep into my conscious.
"Man found slumped over the steering wheel with single gunshot wound to the head.  Pronounced dead at the scene."
Those words from that article stick in my brain, as does the scenario that played out like a movie in my mind - over and over for years.

Again, I say - as I type this out - I have that feeling in my chest and the lump in my throat that I did so many years ago.  It doesn't go away.  It gets easier with time, but it never goes away.  This pain, this stigma - stays.  It's a wound that never heals.

Worse yet...
A wound that never heals is vulnerable to rip back opened.  Some of us allow for healing.  Others keep ripping open the scab just to watch themselves bleed.  My brother, Eric, ripped open the scabs.  He never healed.  He never talked about it.  He watched himself bleed.  He went about life, until the day that life got too hard for him as well.

I guess it seemed easier for him since that the stigma of suicide was already attached to our family.

The call came in from my baby brother...

"Hey, good to hear your voice.  How are you?  Is everything OK?"

"No, Jenn - nothing is OK.  Nothing is OK at all.  Eric is dead."

Again...Another one.  Another gun.  Another opportunity to take it away for good - lost.  I had already taken it away.  Several people had.  Yet he always managed to convince someone he wasn't going to hurt himself.  He was OK and he wanted it back.

Now he was gone too.

Shot in the head, just like daddy.  In his home, where his son found him.

And my scab was ripped wide open.

I have already blogged on my brother's suicide.  It's still pretty fresh, even if it is 5 years old.

There is always a song, a moment - a flash of something that reminds me.  It's always there.

I am not the only person on the planet to be a "Suicide Survivor".  This is just a small portion of my story.  A story that I wish I didn't have to tell, but I tell because I know there are others like me struggling with the loss of someone they love at their own hand.

Please know the signs.  No one always expects someone to die at their own hand.  Most times it is a complete shock.  No one thinks it will ever happen to them.  I never thought it would happen to me.

Thank you for reading my blog.

~Jenn

If you are struggling with the loss of someone close to you, or if you or someone you know are struggling with depression and/or suicidal thoughts - Please reach out!

Please don't give up!
It is NOT hopeless!
Someone DOES love you and someone WILL miss you!
If you don't feel like there's anyone around who understands you, or wants to hear it, or whatever - reach out to anyone will listen or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:   
1-800-273-TALK (8255)



Please don't give up on life!
No one said it would be easy.
They just said it would be worth it!

In Loving Memory of my Dad, William R. Cooper 
and my brother W. Eric Cooper.
Rest comfortably in the arms of angels.
May you find the peace you so desperately sought here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

In search of my long lost independence.....

Don't drink the milk... It's spoiled!
Today, I fed my children cereal with sour milk.

I've never done that.  I've never had sour milk in my house & I've never been so rushed that I hadn't noticed the milk had gone bad.  The expiration date was good, so I didn't think to smell it first, but I fed my children cereal with sour milk.

This felt like a HUGE Mommy Fail!

That, on top of the stress from the hurricane, set me into tears.

Once upon a time, I was seriously independent.  I didn't need to ask anything from anyone.  I was a single mom & I had it all figured out.  I did what needed to be done & everything flowed.  Granted, I probably wasn't doing things correctly - but I didn't know any better, so to me - it was all just fine.

Even before I was a single mom -
I spent a lot of years alone.  By choice. Yeah, I had boyfriends when I was younger - but I was more focused on getting my life headed in the direction I wanted it to go before I brought another person along for the ride.  The attachments I made were always ones that allowed me to have my closest friends present, or they didn't occur.

I was out on my own since 18 years of age.  My dad died committed suicide and I was alone.  I had no other choice other than "figure it out".  That was not an easy task.  In my teens, my daddy made me his little princess. Whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

Anyway, when Daddy was gone - it was all me.  I had no clue what to do. I was still going to school.  I was working part time.  I didn't really know how to do anything.  I screwed up constantly and eventually took in a roommate to help make rent.  We ate at Happy Hour or whatever else we could come up with.  I worked two jobs & went to school.  I did what needed to be done and tried to not ask for help. Pride, I suppose or maybe just stupidity - dumb luck.  Whatever.  I never went hungry or homeless, so I was doing something right.

I believe those years of doing for myself & not learning to rely on, or trust someone else enough to rely on was a contributing factor the demise of my marriage to my son's father.  Not THE reason, but A reason. Though he was no piece of cake, I own this part of the failure.  (I'll just leave it there because my son may read this.)

I was always very used to doing everything.  So I did it.  I didn't rely on anyone else.  When there was slack to be picked up - I picked it up as if there wasn't another person.  I just did it.  I got a second job and a baby sitter.  I worked 7 days a week & killed myself to be momma, home maker, provider, etc.  Of course I couldn't handle it all & the added stress of the other "stuff" was just the icing on the crap cake.

I rolled into single mom-dom without much difficulty.  It really wasn't that much different.  It was actually easier in some ways because the extra component was no longer there.  Other issues, yes - but in our household, no one was telling me what to do.  I did what I wanted.  My way.

...And then I met my husband.
He caught me totally off guard.  Our friendship turned to love in what seemed like seconds and he swooped in and started taking care of me.  All of the things that I was so used to doing - he started doing.  I didn't know how to handle it & I absolutely resisted at first.
Eventually, I let my guard down and learned to rely on and trust my husband.  Completely.
I can't even tell you how many times he has said to me over the years (yes, even to this day) "Why do you think you have to do everything by yourself?"

It's ingrained, I suppose.

Finally after all the years we've been together - I've stepped back.

Then the hurricane hit and he was working constantly.  We had no power for more than a week.  There were a lot of things that he had been doing, or that I didn't know how to do and it freaked me out.  I haven't been in a position where I didn't know what to do since I was 18 years old!


I've gotten so used to being a partner, I've forgotten how to do some things for myself and it scared the crap out of me.  At one point, I broke down in tears.  I was alone with the kids.  I was afraid to run out of gas.  I didn't know how to start the generator (and boy did I try).  I didn't know how to do so many things.  My brain swirled around to the point of exhaustion....until it finally sunk in.

I didn't need to freak out.  The one thing that I'd learned from my husband over the years is that it really is OK to rely on another person.  I allowed other people to help me.  We all helped each other and it really was OK.

When it really came down to it, it was just sour milk and maybe a little perspective.

Thank you for reading my blog!

Have a great day!!

~Jenn

Something I forgot to add before posting this...

If you, or someone you know is suffering or feeling in any way hopeless - please reach out.  Someone DOES love you and someone WILL miss you.  If you need someone to talk to in confidence, please contact the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:  http://www.afsp.org/


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Seeking affirmation where ever you can get it...

Sometimes I feel a little icky.

I look in the mirror & think ewww...  Nice muffin top chubs.  Why don't you go on over & have another brownie to sit on your thighs...
Yes, I regularly heckle myself in front of the mirror.  You too?

I'm not sure that men get this.  They'd have to weigh in on that (no pun intended).  Guys?

I've come to a point in my life that mostly I know - this is as good as it gets.  I'm me.  The good the bad & the chub.  I do what I can to feel better about what I've got & to hide the stuff I'd rather not let anyone know exists.  I spend my time giving myself a pep talk in front of the mirror every day, ya know - like your average every day whack job.  No, I'm pushing it too far.  I really don't.

I do, however - reach out to my young fans.  The short - honest ones who may be bribed easily with chocolate.  That's right - I'll admit it.  I bribe kids to say nice things to me to make me feel better about myself.  There, I said it.

Miss Jenn's the GREATEST!
Think I'm lying??  My "church friends" used to joke with me all the time because I had all the kids lining up and I'd say... "OK children, who's the greatest?"  And in harmony, they'd say "Miss Jenn's the Greatest!"  I'd give them chocolate or their choice of treat & they'd walk away.  It was like training puppies.  After a while, I didn't even have to give them treats to hear them tell me that I AM - the greatest.  (but ya know, "Auntie Jenn" always had treats anyway - so who trained who?)

Sadly, as most of these kids have grown older they've stopped telling me that I'm the greatest & have now resorted to telling me that they're used to my "weirdness."  Ha!  I'll take that too....

There's no short supply of young minions to carry out my daily affirmation tasks...  My little friend, whose name I withhold because his momma will just know, once uttered the F word my way.  No, no not THAT F-word.... The OTHER F word...FAT.  Don't be horrified, momma - it's OK.  Like I told my little friend - I've got a mirror.

I am seriously not the person who will be insulted or taken aback by anything a child says to me.  I love little kids & their brand of honesty is much like mine.  Broken filter.  You think it, you speak it.  No biggie.  Like I said, I've got a mirror.

OF COURSE - this did put my diet into motion faster.  It's been a rough few years.  Docs had me on steroids and to say that I've packed on the pounds is the understatement of the century.  I knew I needed to do something about it & he gave me the proper kick.  (see, it really IS OK)
I'm happy to report that I've lost 15 lbs so far!


Now you KNOW I had to make all this work to my advantage.  So I said to my young friend...  "I've started a diet.  Am I still fat?"  He of course, answered honestly (don't be mad momma, I goaded him)  I then proceeded to tell him that I was going on a diet & that his new job, every day, was to say, "Miss Jenn, you're looking skinnier today."

Every morning, I start my day off as usual...

I look in the mirror & try to camouflage the icky spots that I don't like.  I take my girls to the bus stop & see my little friend who gives me my daily affirmation....
"Miss Jenn, you look skinnier today."

....and I can properly go about my day.

Whatever it takes, right :)

Have a fabulous day full of wonder and joy -- and yes, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!! 

Thank you for reading my blog!!

~Jenn



Friday, November 9, 2012

You have a freak flag too, ya know!

Oh for God's sake - I'm not flirting with you, I'm just friendly!

Sheesh...

I have this weird way about me.  I can't explain it or know what other people see before they get to know me, but it happens to me over and over again.

I do things just because.  No good reason other than, well I think I'm doing a nice gesture - helping make someone else's life easier, whatever.  It's just my very Jenn, over the top, way.

I don't expect things in return.  I've leaned a long time ago (and blogged it) that you don't do something for someone else expecting some sort of return.  You do from the heart expecting nothing and you'll never be disappointed.  Really, not even as much as a thank you (but it would be nice).  Common courtesy is lost these days, as is the notion that people will do things without expecting something in return.  So I just do what I want.  If I get a thank you, if I get appreciation, if I get any acknowledgement - bonus.  I'm never disappointed.

On that....  I'm over the top.  I get that.  I don't know how to change that and since I'm getting pretty old - this is who I am.  If you're a friend I haven't seen in a while, I may (and have) run over, tackle you and hug you til your head nearly pops off.  I am just "overly" everything.  I'm not needy or insecure.  I'm not trying to try to hard, it's just how I am.  A freak.

Ladies, if you don't know me - you do not need to hold onto your husbands a little tighter when I come around.  I've got a husband of my own, thanks & I don't want yours.  If I "flirt" with him, I may also be "flirting" with you the next minute.  It's not intentional.  Half the time I don't realize that I'm being flirty.   In my brain, I'm being friendly.

As an older momma, this isn't as much of a problem with me as it used to be.  Having had mostly male friends, the girlfriends always gave me crap. I don't do anything differently.  If I do for him or her, I'll do for you. Perfect example - and anyone who recognizes this scenario -- shhhh...
A while back I met up with some friends.  It was around Valentines Day, so I got ALL of my friends who would be there little Valentine treats.  Nothing crazy or gushing emotional love and affection - just a little token of friendship to say, "Hey, I was thinking about you."  Small tokens & one for everyone.  I gave to the last person, who said - "Oh, Thank you, but I can't accept this."  Really????  It's a flippin $2 box of candy from Walmart & everyone got one.  I'm not trying to bed you or anything.  I even had to say that I gave one to EVERYONE so it would be accepted.  Sheesh!
Yeah, that kinda stuff.

My social switch is busted.  Permanently.  Am I socially awkward?  Yeah, I guess.  I feel like I always say and do the wrong things & when I try to fix them it only gets worse.  When I'm uncomfortable the Jenn turns up even higher.  Whatever.  I've stopped trying to apologize & fix things.  I am who I am.... Love me, or not.  We are all freaks in our own way.

Oh yeah...You ARE a freak.  Just because you haven't figured it out yet doesn't mean that there isn't something you do that makes someone else's eyes roll.  Get over it, you are who you are.  Besides, they're freaks too!  Why would you ever change who you are??  Most of the time that's what draws people to you.  The thing that makes you..YOU!

I realize that I'm going on a tangent here.  After a week of sitting in my house reading, looking at walls, entertaining kids & flushing toilets with buckets of water - I have been thinking way too much.  Processing crap & going through my draft file of stuff I started & never finished.

I guess my point is - as always, just be who you are.  Don't try to hide your freak flag.  Everyone sees it anyway, even if you haven't discovered it yet.  Trust me, it's there.

We are all freaks in our own special way.

Go be you -- Go BE A FREAK!

For God's sake - it's the weekend.  Fly your flag - be proud & have fun!

Most of all, be safe & take some smoochies with you.

Thank you for reading my morningly psychosis!

Love you all :)

~Jenn

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How about a little perspective?

I've spent the past few weeks going over old posts & taking some down.

The majority are rants, but others surprisingly down are among my most popular posts.

I'm occasionally guilty of "shoot first, ask questions later".  In the case of my little bloggie here, I type and fire it out.  Then a week or month later I think, meh... I should probably take that down.

It's sort of like your diary.  At the time you're writing some things - you feel really passionately about what you're writing - no matter what the topic, but you KNOW you wouldn't want someone else to read it because it may hurt their feelings.

While it's true that many of my posts are brushed up writings from years ago - sometimes it's current stuff that bugs me that I need to get rid of.  At the time, I may not give a flying monkey who reads it and is offended.  Other times, well - I don't like to hurt people's feelings.  Even if they've hurt mine in some way.

So yeah, some things are noticeably absent.  Even some of the most popular ones - because as I re-read them, even though it may be praising someone from the highest mountain, someone else may feel badly.

It's true - I've had a lot of crap.  Who the heck hasn't?
The recent realization I've come to is that people treat us in ways we allow them to.  Yes, sadly this is a recent realization.  It takes me a while.  Often times, my fairly lay back nature opens the door to people to take advantage of me.  It doesn't get to me, or I don't notice until the last straw.  That last straw with me is never pretty.  That is generally the thing that sets me over the edge.  That is MY fault, I allowed it.

Yeah, I do like people to be happy and I will always continue to do all I can for the benefit of another - I'm just not going to lie down to be steam rolled.  I don't do it in most places - why would I do it at all?

This, again - is not specific.  It's general - because I've often loved too much, cared too much (yes it's possible) put myself out there too much to help another person and then for one reason or another, my feelings got hurt.

Will my feelings get hurt again, yes - I'm sure they will.  I'm trying to not make that so easy to do.

This whole storm business and seeing what's going on around me has, once again, showed me that stupid stuff isn't worth holding on to.  I've let so much go up to this point, now it's time to just drop it all and move on.

Sometimes it's not as easy, because there may be trust issues - but holding onto anger isn't worth it either.

I've felt...let's say ignored for lack of a better word, by some key people in my life.  Their interaction with others does sometimes make me think "what the hell did I do wrong?"  but it's not all and always me.  It's them too and I can't let that hurt my heart.

Through all of this, I have learned again that even though at times I may be a bit much - every single ounce of that too much is done with love and caring and a full heart.  If the other person can't handle that, it's their problem - not mine.

I know that my intentions are properly placed.

I know what's right and what's wrong and what I'm supposed to do.  If I do for one, I do for all.

No hidden agendas or motives.

Those of you who know me, or have read me long enough know - I'm an open book.  I call 'em as I see 'em.  I am who I am.  I mostly love everyone & will do whatever another needs.  Period, end of story.

Because that's what you're supposed to do.

"Love one another, as I have loved you...."

That, my friends - is perspective.

Love & be loved...

~Jenn

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

And we're back in the light.....

Seven and a half days of no power....What a real eye opener!

I'm going to say this again, for what feels like the millionth time....
I consider us to be so amazingly blessed and protected!  Yes, this whole power thing sucked!  Yes, we have trees down and yes, it was all very inconvenient.  We are alive and well.  Our damage, in comparison, is laughable.

I am grateful for the moments of learning that we've all gathered in our own ways during all of this.

Our neighborhood really came together.
Granted, there are "cliques", to any neighbor who may be reading, this isn't meant as a negative in anyway.
-The old timers.  Not referring to age, but referring to the folks who've lived in the neighborhood for many years and have substantial bonds with the others who've lived here for many years.  They know the ropes.  They've had generators for years, because the power always used to be out.  They know the drill & they know what needs to be done and they do it.  Most times without even being asked.
-The "newbies" with younger kids.  (I fit into this group) who want to help any way we can.  Some of us have lived in the neighborhood for less than 10 years.  We're still learning the ropes and appreciate the advice to do what needs to be done, while trying to keep the kids happy and fully entertained.
-Then there's the people who don't really talk to anyone.  Some of them smile & wave, others just barrel down the road.  I'm sure they did good somewhere.

Nothing against anyone at all - everyone took care of everyone.  No one said - ooh, no - you haven't lived here for 30 years, can't help ya... Everyone cared that everyone had what they needed, offered & gave help - many times just jumped in and did what needed to be done.
It was heartwarming.  I have great neighbors - ALL of them.  (Well, all except the ones who came to answer the door on Trick or Treat day, saw the kids there, shut the light on the kids and walked away....)

During the times where we congregated at another's home, we had opportunity to really come together to know each other on a different level.  Not just as the guy down the street, or next door or around the corner.  We got to form different kinds of bonds as friends & allies who will help each other with whatever we are able to provide.  Some had more, some had less - no one thought twice about sharing.  No one cared as long as everyone had some form of comfort.

What an amazing display of loving human nature.  The stuff you don't see as clearly when the lights are on.

I personally gained a new appreciation for generated power.  My normal routine is changed some, at least for now - out of the past week's habit.  I didn't throw on every single light in the house when I woke up.  Today is day #1, but I hope to maintain this.  Just because.

I did ask God to show me my blessings in disguise & boy, did He ever!

I always knew how much I appreciated my friends, but now - I have a whole new appreciation for every one of them.  Of course, I always appreciate my hubby.  He and I are often ships that pass in the night with our schedules as they are.  We came to appreciate the time we saw each other, no matter how brief.  For our friends who helped me get the generator started every morning because I couldn't figure out that I wasn't pulling the choke out far enough.  For our friends who opened their home for showers and food and heat.

As I said earlier, someone jumped in for everything.  For this, I'm so grateful for seeing these blessings so much more clearly now.  The things you think, Pfft, I can do this...  Well let me tell you, I could never have figured out the siphoning of the water out of my pool by myself and I would have totally been in tears in front of my generator for a week knowing I had the ability to provide electric, but was too much of a ditz to figure it out properly.

Here comes another storm and we are back in the light.  Thank God!

The light I have become the most grateful for is the one that is shone on each and every one of us in the knowing that we don't need to feel too proud to say... Hey, got any milk?  Can I shower by you?  We all know (or I hope we all know) that we really will give all we have, if you need it.

For those who I can't reach - for my other New Jersey and New York neighbors whose heartache I am just seeing, I wish you all peace, love & blessings in disguise.  My heart breaks for you with every news story I am now getting to see.

If there is anything that I am able to provide, please let me know.

Wishing you all the brightest of lights.

Love from Jersey!

~Jenn





Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Earth, Air, Fire & Water..... Mercy!

I'm soooo tired.

I feel like such a Debbie Downer these days...  I'm working on happy...  Send me power and I'll do back flips... Ummmm, I'll try.  Well, truthfully I'd love to say I still could, but I'm old now.  Can I get my cat to do it for you instead??

7 full days, no power.  Projected restore date... November 9th.  Bleck!  Honestly and truly, I'm hanging from a very thin thread.  Stressed, but handling it.

Today I have cable... but no power from the lines.  Can I just tell you what a complete suckfest this is?

Since I (thankfully) have the generator, which we only run a few hours a day, and it's my first opportunity to get a glimpse of the outside world.  I'm all over it trying to see what's going on elsewhere.  I'm in shock by just some of what I'm seeing.

It's been a week, so I've missed all that everyone else is seeing, so I guess they're showing less and less.  What I have seen makes me feel so sad, helpless.  My husband sees it.  He works for one of the utility companies - he's out in it & he says every day, "You can't even begin to imagine how much worse it is in other places."

And on the news, the closing line I heard...
It's going to be alright, it's just going to be different.

Wow, ain't that the truth!
Just this past week, I've seen so much change.

I'm in awe of the elements...their fury.

Today was my first day back to work.  Driving out of my town alone is so surreal.  I don't even have words.  I've said before, I live in the woods.  "God's Country" in New Jersey.  North.  Driving down the main road, there is tree after tree totally uprooted and just laying there.  The root system of this tree is enormous - it's amazing that wind could push it down like that.  These massive trees on power lines.  One road looked as if the tornado landed specifically on that road.  No power.  This is nothing.

And this is just the damage from air... wind...

Then there's the water.  Not in my town, thankfully - but for sure in another county of northern New Jersey where the levy broke and took out two towns.  Robbing it's residents of all they own.  All along the coast where the angry ocean claimed the land that was once hers, displacing so many.  Wiping out a long loved vacation area.  Sending other ocean fed rivers and bodies of waters over their banks to meet the other side to join with her.  Taking with her all that stands in her path.

Today, in the very early morning hours there was an earthquake measuring 2.0 - small, but another lashing out of our earth against it's inhabitants.  That, less than 20 miles from my home.

I hesitate to call out Fire.

I shudder to think, knowing that there is yet another Nor'easter headed our way on Wednesday the 7th.

This past week has been a challenge.  It's been a challenge of wills, emotion and character.  It's shown you shock and awe, as well as basic human nature coming to fruition - whether for good or bad.  It's brought out the best and the worst in people.  The people who will do for others whatever they can and those only looking out for themselves.  And it continues.

As I continue to write this, I can only hope that I've shown positive character and example.  That I've done all I can.  As stretched as I am, I know that I am blessed.

Bent, but not broken - shaken but not shattered.

I end this entry with yet another quote from the news... from someone who is much worse off than I...  "I've lost every material possession I own - but at least I'm alive."

How's that for perspective?

Love your life and those in it.

I love you all, every single solitary one of you.

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn

If it is on your heart, please check out this link to help those in need here in New Jersey:  https://sandynjrelieffund.org/index.html

Monday, November 5, 2012

Getting in touch with my Pioneer Self…(unedited)


Getting in touch with my Pioneer Self…

If you’ve been following my blog posts on the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy here in Jersey...
Yeah – it’s still “real” here.  No power, and in my neighborhood unless you have a whole house generator, no running water.  We don’t have town water, we have well & septic.

It’s amazing the things you learn to appreciate once you get used to the fact that this could go on for a while.

If this post is up, I'm either in work, or found a way to connect my computer to the Internet.

Frankly, I'm hesitant to go to work because I don’t want to use up my gas.  Gas station lines are absolutely and pathetically ridiculous here!  They are trucking in gas from other states & delivering to stations who are charging almost $6 a gallon.  People are sleeping in their cars on line waiting for the delivery.  When a station is known to have gas the waiting line for that precious commodity could be up to 3 ½ hours.  I kid you not!

But hey, I never thought I’d be amazed by a flushing toilet either – because we don’t have one right now!

It’s amazing the simple stuff that you take for granted & completely miss.

As I’d mentioned, our neighbors have a full house generator & opened their home.  I was going to do Halloween for the kids here and they very graciously said, NO COME HERE - We’ve got power, we’ve got water, we’ve got plenty of food.

Now, I have my wood burning stove going.  Not to brag – but I cook a mean fire!  Laura Ingalls has nuttin’ on me!  So I get the stove cooking good and hot for heat & head off to our fabulous friends’ home.

“Hey Donna-Jean”

“Yes, Jenny Sue”

“You gots ta come see what they got in this fancy schmancy water closet they have”

“Ok Jenny Sue, what’s ya got?”

“Look – you push this here handle on this big ol commode & LOOK that water just comes on in and swoops that poo up in it.  Just like the magic terlit they have over at Walmart!”

“Yeeee Hawwww”

Yeah, that’s how it feels….  A flushing toilet & you can even wash your hands too!

When I was married to my son's father, we were re-doing our house.  I remember opening a bottle of champagne to celebrate the bathroom door!  A flushing toilet has warmed my heart as much.  Sad.

Washing has been a challenge, but a challenge we’ve also met.  I have a gas stove.  (Thank you hubby for being “the gas man.”)  We have a syphon set up at the pool for water – cuz we have to keep spackle pails full to flush the toilet… AND to boil on the stove for clean / warm water to wash bodies and dishes.  Yes, I’m using paper and plastic BUT you need to cook in something and that something will need to be washed.

Crap – the short one spilled crumbs all over the floor let me go get the…. Ummm never mind, can’t use the vacuum cleaner, it sucks up too much power from the generator, whose gas we are conserving.

Gas??  Yes, I know I’ve already mentioned this… Ok… No power for the pumps to operate and there is a gas shortage in New Jersey because the refineries are under water and or not functioning properly.  The gas stations that DO have power AND gas have lines wrapped around the block.  People will fight you if you accidentally “cut the line.”  Those lines are up to a 4 hours wait or longer – one line cars, one line people standing with gas cans for generators.  Does the movie "Mad Max" come to mind?  It did for me.  As did "Escape from New York" when hearing of the chaos there.

Scared  yet?  I told ya that it got real here!

We haven’t totally gone way of the mountain folk (yet) because there is one grocery store open on the other side of town with water and most of what we need.

Bottled water is used not only for drink and coffee – BUT tooth brushing!  Yes, we take the bottle in – pour it on our tooth brush & brush, brush, brush.

Coffee, did I say coffee ??  I don’t turn on the generator until after 7 am because it’s loud – but then, most of the block is humming with the sound of generators anyway.  I am up at around 5 and NEED my coffee… Thank you good sweet Lord for the French coffee press!  I can boil water on my stove, put the grinds in the little glass coffee pot, pour in hot, hot water and in 2 minutes COFFEE!!  Yummy, delicious, hot coffee to warm me and make me smile.

In all of this, I've found one thing at a time to be thankful for....
Amazing friends & neighbors who come together - with whatever they've got.  No questions asked.
For a gas stove.
For a wood burning stove.
For the covered swimming pool which supplied water.
For my camping skills.
For the copious amount of children in our neighborhood who've been entertaining each other.
For the love and compassion of strangers.
For God who has gotten me through all of this.

Out for now...

Jenn

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Another day without power….Friday, November 2nd ?? 2012

(unedited for errors)
I haven’t been blogging regularly all week…

Heck, I can’t post ‘em without power – all I can do is write them!

Today is Friday, and as normal I’m up bright and early typing by the light of my wood burning stove – that I’m so incredibly grateful for.

To say that “It’s REAL” here, may be the understatement of the planet.  I’m still fairly cut off from the world, but with the radio stations I can get in – I’m told we’re the equivalent to Katrina.  All I really know about is shore devastation, my sales person out in Long Island and my brother in PA.
During this whole event, I’ve really noticed how both very spoiled I am – as well as adaptable.
I can’t even tell you how many times a day I’ve gone over to the bathroom & clicked on the light – ooh, that’s right, no power.  Peed in the dark, go for the flusher – oops, can’t do that either, let’s dump that bucket of water in there… and of course there’s the almighty hand washing.  Yup… triple nope.  So I have hand sanitizer & dip my hands into the bucket of water in the tub – because that feels more like washing than the sanitizer.

You just forget how easy things were.

We are truly blessed with wonderful neighbors who have opened their homes for food, showers – whatever.  We have all tried to do our best to supply – well, whatever someone else needs.  You need milk, we’ve got it.  Coffee, sure.  Running out – want me to get gas?  It’s one of the things that makes me feel so happy to be a part of a neighborhood – a true neighborhood.  Everyone helping each other with whatever we’ve got to help make someone else’s life just a little bit easier.

It’s been 5 days now.

All of the kids have been home, without school, without power, without television for a whole week.  I’m so incredibly proud of all of our children!  Yes, we’ve occasionally hooked them up with a Disney movie or something on DVR while the power is running.  But we’ve come to the point of rationing now – so the generator runs 4-8 hours on a few hours off to conserve gas.  Not one complaint from a kid.  
They have all played together – board games, reading, playing OUTSIDE.  Can you imagine??  Just like when we were kids.  I almost don’t miss the talking picture box on the wall.  I enjoy the quiet.
While I have rolled into “remember when” times, the kids have too.

Settling back in to a time where no one will look at you like you have 7 heads if you ask for a cup of milk.

Almost like the good old days.

Thank you for continuing to read this series.

Have a wonderful day!

Jenn

Greetings, from what used to be New Jersey - in the dark

No fancy graphics today.  Frankly – I’m surprised I was crafty enough to get this from my computer with no internet connection, to my phone, to my blog page.  After a total now of 7 days without power, I’ve learned that my iPhone, indeed does supply a hot spot and I’ve had time to figure it out.  This was written on Tuesday, our first full day without power…There will be several entries so here is today’s unedited blog...

I type this in the dark, by the glow of my wood burning stove.

We’ve been without power here since Monday night – not terribly awful yet, since it’s only Tuesday.  Although terribly cut off from the world, with the exception of random 3g connections - I consider myself and my family to be incredibly lucky.

I love New Jersey.  Yes, it’s true at one time I did have an escape from New Jersey plan, but I was young and dumb and didn’t know any better.  My heart breaks to see “her” so terribly torn and tattered.

This is obviously my first hundred year disaster.  I know, I know – it’s hard to tell, but I’m not quite there yet.  I’ve never, in my lifetime, seen such destruction to areas that I’ve grown up loving.

For people like me, and most of my fellow Jersey brothers & sisters – we spent our summers going down the shore.  Not to the beach, DOWN THE SHORE.  Get it right!

If I close my eyes, I can rewind my brain to the smell as soon as you go over the Driscoll Bridge.  Sea air.  Salt water.  Boardwalk smells of sausage & peppers, cotton candy and saltwater taffy.

From the time I learned to walk, my parents took me to Seaside Heights to enjoy the beach and the rides.  Neither exists any longer.  No more sausage and pepper sandwiches from “the big lemon” a.k.a. The Midway, in the center of the boardwalk.  The boardwalk is gone.

As a twenty something I spent my summers in Point Pleasant often frequenting Martel’s Tiki Bar…GONE.

Nights at the Surf Club at Ortley Beach.  Gone.

As I type this, I tear up.

If you’re fellow Jersey, even transplanted Jersey – you get this.  All of it!  The heartbreak of a place so near and dear - lost.  I know my beautiful bloggie friend, Snarkfest, will understand, having been a shore kid once upon a time.

I live in the woods now, still in Jersey.  It was a choice I made when my son was growing up.  I grew up in the city and didn’t want the city life for him.  I knew that down the shore was an option, but would rather keep that as a special treat – like it was for me growing up.  I can’t quite describe the anticipation in the heart of a child when you say, “we’re going down the shore.”  I was, once that child – and in many ways, I still am.

I never left Jersey because I could live way north, in the beauty of the woods and still be within three hours of the furthest New Jersey beach.   Nearby, there are beautiful farmlands and the majesty of mountains, lakes, streams, New York City & of course – the ocean.

This choice, as I see now – was a good one in the face of this devastation.
Yes, we are without power, except for the generator that we run 8 hours on and 8 hours off.  I have no running water since we’re water/sewer here and the generator isn’t set up for that yet.  There are trees down, wires down, a neighbor lost her truck – buried under a massive tree that uprooted and just missed her home.  In all these negatives, there are positives.  The reason I chose to move to a community.  The neighbors banded together.

Early yesterday morning after discovering several trees down in our own yard, my daughter and I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood to assess Mother Nature’s Fury; seeing the massive tree on Keri’s truck, all the trees in Trish & John’s yard.  Then I saw what Jersey is REALLY all about.  Chris, our neighbor from the other side of the block with no damage to his home, was at another neighbor’s house, who he didn’t even know, with his chain saw cutting away a fallen tree from their driveway.  Just because.

Neighbors taking care of neighbors, because that’s what you do.

That, my friends is REAL Jersey.  Just because we don’t candy coat it, doesn’t mean we’re not sincere.

Forget what you see on "reality" TV!
We may talk a little tough and give it to you straight, but the truth is - Jersey has heart.  Jersey has soul.  Jersey may be down, but she’s not out.

From the woods I send this, not even knowing what’s going on elsewhere.

From the woods I ask that you keep our coastal friends in your thoughts and prayers.

…and then there’s New York City & It’s boroughs, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Connecticut – other places whose story I haven’t yet heard yet.  Jersey sends love…Lots of it.

Thank you for reading my blog.

For those who’ve lost their lives, family, property, whatever – I wish you peace.

~Jenn

Please share this with others who may think Jersey is what you see on television...  It's not.  It's all about the love and caring & what we can do for each other... just with a bit of an attitude, followed by a hug.
Smoochies.