Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Monday Mourning

Yesterday was a sad day of realizations for me. I’m not sure where they came from or why they kept popping up in rapid succession, but I do know that they made me think.

I’m turning 30 in 2 months. Perhaps that was the reason for the thought process. August 26th is one of my “unbirthdays.” In two months from that date, I would be 30. So, naturally, I thought about my 30 by 30 list. However, I also thought about the dark side of 30.

My mother passed away almost 11 years ago to colon cancer. When the doctors finally found the tumor, it was huge as it had steadily been growing since she turned 38. They removed it, which bought her about 8 months of life, but there was no hope. She was in stage 4 by the time they finally listened to her complaints and found the true cause of all her digestive issues.

Having a close relative, like a parent, with cancer tends to increase the risk of you developing it as well. In my case, I not only have colon cancer on my mother’s side through my mother, I also have it through one great aunt on my mother’s side and one great aunt on my father’s side. So, basically, I am screwed.
As such, the doctors told my siblings and me that when we turn 30, we need to get a colonoscopy every year. I’ve been dreading this day for almost 11 years now. My sister jumped the gun a bit and had a couple of colonoscopy’s before she turned 30, and then one after she turned. The last one she had, the doctor told her she didn’t have to come back every year anymore, to just come back again in a few years.
I was 19 when my mother died. I’m over halfway to spending more of my life without my mother than I was able to spend with her. That saddens me. So much happened in the last 11 years that I did not get to share with her, and sometimes, even though so many years have passed and I’ve accepted it, I still find myself angry and sad to not have had her during this time. It is especially hard because I don’t remember a lot from the years I had with her because I was simply too young. The hardest part; however, has been raising my daughter without my mother. My father was not around much when we were children, he’s not around much these days either, so I lacked the motherly advice so many others complain about. I wish I had the ability to complain that she was overstepping her boundaries and that her advice, while appreciated, was unsolicited. But I don’t have that luxury. I don’t have the luxury to fight with her about my lack of parenting skills, and I feel crazy sometimes for wishing I did.

My mother was 45 when she died. My next realization is that when my mother turned 30, she only had 15 years left of life. Tied into this realization is the fact that my entire family comments on how much alike we are. So, for reasons that I acknowledge are purely illogical, I feel like I’m facing a terminal sentence of 15 more years of life myself. While I know that it’s unlikely that I’ll suffer the same fate as my mother (I mean, I’m so focused on preventing colon cancer, I’m sure there will be something much worse that I’ll miss, right?), I started thinking about something I could do in tribute to my mother, and also to make sure that if something does get me by age 45, I’ve lived as full of a life as I can in the next 15 years.

I made a 30 by 30 list that I’m about halfway through. I’m hoping to get at least 20 of the items done by my 30th, but I think it would be more interesting to create a 45 by 45 list, or a “bucket” list if you will, in honor of my mother. Instead of simply focusing on things *I* want to do in the next 15 years, I will include all the things my mother wished she could have done and find some way to include her memory along the way.

I haven’t made the list of 45 by 45, but I plan to within the next few days. I think this will be a nice tribute to my mom and a way to feel like I’m fully embracing life. I’m pretty excited!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Ring Fever

I'm apparently on the brink of getting engaged. I'm not sure exactly how to feel about that. It's not with Derrick, the person I truly thought of as the "love of my life" for years. He and I officially called it quits for good in May. No, it's with Eric, an old friend of mine I reconnected with right after Derrick and I ended things.

Eric and I knew each other 9 years ago. We met through a mutual friend, Cassie. Cassie and I met through my best friend, but really, we became friends through an online journaling site. She and I started out just reading each other's journals and then within a few months, we started hanging out in person. Before I knew it, she was someone I considered my closest friend and for a year, we spent so much time both on and offline together.

Through her, I got to be closer with Eric. He and I had a mutual interest in each other, but we had one major roadblock: I was dating Derrick at the time. Things came to a head after we expressed our feelings for each other because I wasn't willing to break things off with Derrick. We stopped speaking 9 years ago this month. And then, after Derrick and I finally ended our on-again, off-again relationship, I started re-reading all of my old journal entries from the first time I dated Derrick. Through that re-reading and reliving of those experiences, I realized I still had a lot of buried feelings for Eric. So, I contacted him and Cassie.

And now, Eric and I are pursuing a relationship, and he's already bought a ring. I reconnected with him in May. It's now, well, almost September, but still, it's not been that long. I was with Derrick for over 4 years and never got to marriage. I'm afraid I'm reliving the past. I'm afraid I'm going to make the same mistakes that led to an unhappy and borderline abusive marriage. I've been down this road before, and I keep arguing with myself over things. Eric is not like my ex husband. He has a lot going for him my ex husband did not have when I met him and agreed to marry him (after only a month of dating...). He has things like a career, a degree, and is looking into buying a house.

But I still have my misgivings. I know I'm ready to try again for marriage, I just didn't think I would be with someone other than Derrick. However, I know that I still love Eric very much, and I think that because we never gave the relationship a real shot, it's only fair to see it through. That doesn't mean I have to marry him, but I...want to. I feel something for him I've never felt before. He gets me on a level that even Derrick, someone I still consider my best friend, hasn't connected with me on. We have a lot more in common than I think I ever realized, and even though his geekier habits do tend to make me cringe sometimes, I also find them endearing.

He ordered the ring on Wednesday. He said it will be here in 2-3 weeks, and he gave me a timeframe of October. But he also told me a story that the jeweler he went to had shared with him. He said that a lot of times, the men who come into the jewelry shop have an idea in mind of how they want to propose, but then once they get the ring, they abandon their plans and propose as soon as possible because they want to see that ring on their beloved's finger.

Eric jokingly asked me what he should do if he got struck with what we have coined "ring fever."

I told him to take two tylenol and take a nap.

It will be as if he never existed...

I've deleted the Greek's number, blocked him from facebook, and deleted all of our texts as well as pictures I had saved in my phone. He came into my life as a whirlwind: unexpected, wreaking havoc all over my world. He left more subdued, but still with a fair amount of destruction.

He had said that in a month or so, when he was "over" me, he would like to try a friendship again. However, after seeing that he had removed me from facebook yesterday, I decided this was just something I didn't want. I don't want to know him anymore. If I delete him from my life, eventually, maybe the memories will fade with him, and it will be as if he never existed. My memory doesn't usually work that way, but I do tend to hold onto memories, both good and bad, through keeping things that remind me of things. I didn't really write much about the Greek in my private journal, which has served for years as my memory bank. It was like, even during the course of our relationship, I didn't want to commit the experience to memory. As if I knew from the beginning it wouldn't pan out the way he thought it would. I was right, but I know that may have also been a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This relationship was built on a lie, and I feel relieved that the lie has ended. It aids in my desire to put it out of my mind and to let go of the memories. It will be as if he never existed. It will be as if I never lived a lie.

Circling the Drain

In 2007, I had hit rock bottom. My finances were in a huge upheaval, my marriage was already on the rocks and I was trying to deal with a newborn. As a result, my credit suffered severely, my marriage ended in 2008, and I became a single mom; still fraught with financial strife, but on the mend.

In July of this year, I started a "new" job. I put new in quotation marks because it was a lateral move within the government. Same position, different agency. It should have been my easiest transfer with the government since I started in 2008. For some reason, everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. The agency I left apparently didn't notify the Department of Budget and Management that I was transferring to a new agency. So instead of holding onto my information until the new agency could get my paperwork, they deleted me and I missed a paycheck. Then I was notified that my benefits could not be deducted correctly because I didn't receive a paycheck.

I had a huge fight with one of the workers in benefits over getting the paperwork to pay back the state for my benefits. We didn't ever agree on the repayment amount, but I got the paperwork and took it to the benefits office with my check. Yesterday I received a new notice from DBM, again requesting me to repay the benefits. I hand-delivered the documents and the check to DBM. I have no idea what they did with my check, but now I'm irritated. So, I guess I will be calling them on Monday.

And then, to add insult to injury, I got a new credit card in order to take advantage of a free balance transfer offered. I did a balance transfer from my main credit card to this new card to start paying it down. For some inexplicable reason, the new credit card canceled the transfer after it had already cleared, and I was charged a bunch of fees, pushing my old card over the limit. This is something I will be able to take care of before the next billing cycle ends, so it shouldn't be a major issue and I should be able to keep it from being reported to the credit agencies, but I'm very irritated.

It was one thing when my financial issues were from my own doing, but this has been one huge problem after another and none of it has been my fault. I know this is a period of transition and I will be fine within a few months, but this has been a nightmare. I feel like I'm back in the beginning and I'm struggling again. At least this time I have a full time job making decent money and my finances should be settling down now that my daughter is back in school. Summer daycare is very expensive, and I'm very glad that summer is over!

I'm hoping by October, my finances will settle down and I can start getting ahead again.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Naturally Unnatural

“Your hair is so beautiful, but redheads seem to be dying out.”

“It must be your Irish heritage. Your red hair gives you away.”

I’m going to let you in on a secret. Well, it’s not really a secret so much as it is the debunking of a common assumption. Lean in close, I don’t want this to get out as I enjoy fooling random strangers on the street.

I, Erin, am not a natural redhead.

I know! It shocks everyone when I reveal this! So many people have assumed my hair is naturally this lovely shade of red. One man even kept staring at me to see if he could see some hint that would confirm my declaration. I’m surprised by the sheer amount of people who believe I’m a natural redhead simply because my eyebrows hint at my natural dark brunette coloring. My natural hair color is truly almost black, and I’m told that is more in line with my Irish heritage than my deceptive auburn hue.

I don’t allow the ruse to continue for long if someone directly comments on my hair. I typically will set them straight. I just prefer to be a redhead. It goes best with my personality, which I affectionately describe as “sweet and spicy.” It also goes along with my rare, but explosive temper. It takes a lot to set me off, but when it happens, I definitely fit into the fiery redhead stereotype.

So I got to thinking the other day, why is the deception so easy for me when others who also have chosen to dye their hair are easily recognized for their trickery? I finally came up with a reason after performing my monthly dying ritual: my awful methods for dying my hair make it appear more natural!

Let me explain. I’m sure you’ve seen someone having their hair dyed in a salon type atmosphere before. They tend to separate the hair evenly and brush on the hair dye with a tool that seems like a cross between a paintbrush and a basting brush. This way the dye goes onto every strand of hair evenly and creates that uniform look.

The problem with that “uniform” look is that it’s not how hair appears naturally. Even the blackest hair tends to have some form of highlight in it, even if it’s very subtle and hard to see. However, with dyed hair, even with the “highlights” that some women get, it’s obviously not natural because, again, there’s still a “uniform” look even with those highlights. The highlights are placed at even intervals, making it more obvious that they are not natural.

I dye my hair at home, using a $10 box. My hair is thick, and so normally by the time I’m done with my roots, I’m already about halfway through the bottle of dye and still have to apply it to the rest of my hair to “freshen” the color. So, I’m typically rationing off the remaining dye to cover my head. This means that I don’t use the separate and brush method. Oh no. If you saw me dye my hair you would probably laugh at my insanity or stare profoundly in horror.

Instead of the brush, I tend to section off my hair and squirt a trail of dye down from the top of my head to the ends of my hair. This means that the dying is VERY uneven. When I finish dying all of my hair in this fashion, I try to cover more of my hair by piling it on top of my head and putting the dye on any non-dyed hair. It looks really weird and, ultimately, some of the hair doesn’t get dyed.

This crazy method that probably makes absolutely no sense, actually results in my hair being multicolored. Not multicolored in the sense that it looks like a crazy rainbow, but multicolored in the sense that it has depth and highlights. And since I’m never able to recreate exactly which hair sections will be the most saturated with dye and which ones won’t, the dimensions are constantly changing. The various colors in my hair as a result lend it a more natural look than the typical salon dye job. This in turn makes everyone believe I am a natural redhead and, thus, the name of my blog.

So, the lesson today is that sometimes veering away from the norm and making a fairly routine action your own turns into something beautiful. Or, in the alternative, looks can be deceiving. I’m sure both of these lessons are going to be regular themes in this blog.