tHe haPPy grOUch

tHe haPPy grOUch

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Twice in one week.
I must need the therapy.

I really do.

Last night was our annual Halloween party at work. It was a bigger turnout than usual, I think that's due to the fact that we'll be closing soon.
But let's back up a little...

Before the party I went to the boy's steel pans concert. I left work early so I could go. It was really cool. I was pretty proud of him.
Thing is, it was also very strange. It just happened to be one of those random enlightening moments. Unfortunately for me, not a very pleasant one. And I think it was a spill over from earlier in the week, actually, when the boy and I got in a huge fight in the car on our way home one day. And not even that, it's something I've been noticing for several weeks now. Probably even months.
After his performance, he came and sat with all of us. I noticed the way he talked to and interacted with his father, and even his nana and papa (his father's parents). And I noticed the way he talked to and interacted with me. And they were very different from one another. He's very cool with me. He's been becoming that way for a while now. Like I'm not his mother, but just some outside person.
He generally only calls on me when he wants something; a ride to the mall, or the movies, or when I take him to and from school three days a week. And sadly, he has a habit of being fairly unkind to me at times. More often than I would like. And it comes easily to him. That's something I've been struggling with for months.
His visits have become shorter and fewer. I'm pretty sure that he never plans on staying with me again; I could probably turn his room into a craft room.
Last night, he showed up at his concert with his dad, stepmom, and half-brother, and he went home with them. I showed up alone, and I left alone. It was just a reminder that this is what my life with my son looks like now.
This distance that has developed between my son and I is heartbreaking. It no longer feels like the normal separation of a boy from his mother that my male friends keep telling me about. This is something else. It's cold, and hurtful, and sad, and unusual.
And I'm afraid we're going to become one of those stories of a parent and child who lose contact with one another and never speak to or see one another. Because he doesn't care enough, and I'm growing weary of the heartache.

And I drove home crying.

And then I got ready for the work Halloween party.

It was packed with people, as I said, primarily, I think, because everyone knows we are closing soon. I was afraid I would get stuck working; I usually do at all the big events. But when I got there, the kitchen manager was acting as the second bartender, and another bartender was heading up the costume contest voting. Things were chaotic, but fairly well under control. The only thing I had to do was make change out of the safe, and go to the store for ice, because our ice machine is on the fritz.
I only stayed for an hour, hour and a half. There were so many people. And I was just upset, I guess. About a lot of things. And I just wanted to go home.

I was upset about my son.
I was upset about the major lifestyle difference between my boyfriend and I, that I can't seem to get over, no matter how I try, and no matter how silly it might seem to some people.
I was upset about the bar closing.
I was upset about all the regret I live with. So. Much. Regret.
And I just wanted to go home.

And I sit here in the dark, at my kitchen table, drinking my coffee and smoking cigarette after cigarette, trying to cope with the fact that so many things are screwed up in my life right now. Most of them are out of my control.
I can't do anything about the bar. It's certainly out of my control. And it's a goddamn scary thing. One of the scariest things I've been through. To lose your only source of income, your financial stability...
I can't do anything about what's happening with my son. I can only wait it out. See what is to become of us. Continue to deal with the heartbreaking distance that forms between us, his unkind outbursts, his lack of interest... Just live with the heartache, until something changes. For worse, or for better.
There's really only one thing on that list I can do anything about. And just because I may be able to affect it in some way doesn't mean that it has a positive outcome. Because, let's face it, I really only have two choices where that's concerned, and neither choice is ideal. Live with it, or don't. Decide.
And the regret? There isn't a damn thing I can do about that. People say- "let it go"... or some other stupid, peaceful, relative mantra. But it sure as hell ain't that easy. Regret is a poison that doesn't leave you. It's not that easy to get rid of. And it seems to be killing me lately.

I'm finding it hard to be that positive person I've been trying to turn into. I'm starting to unravel.

More coffee. More cigarettes.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Gayle said to me yesterday... "I'm sure we'll see a blog in the morning".
She was right.

How could I not...

I've been up since 4am. I've been awake off and on all night. I couldn't really sleep.

The auction came and went yesterday, and with it, came the end of an era for the little bar on the corner, the watering hole, the hole in the wall... the place that so many people call home, employees and customers alike.
Our family is being disbanded.
And to add insult to injury, the winning bidder at auction was Charlie, the man who began this from the start, the man originally pursuing the civil foreclosure months ago.
Long story short... While he was operating the business a few years ago, he made a substantial loan to the owner of the building, Jane. She didn't pay him back all of the money owed, so he placed a lien against the building. He ran the business into the ground, turning over employees and driving away customers, racking up debt associated with the business. Jane eventually evicted Charlie, took the business back over, and then leased it to my bosses, Matt and Annette, with the agreement to sell to them once she "took care of the loan with Charlie". Matt and Annette worked diligently to pay all the debts associated with the business that Charlie had incurred. They turned that bar around completely in the last few years. In the meantime, and unbeknownst to us, Charlie was preparing a lawsuit against Jane for the money he was owed and the lien against the building. That eventually went to court, and she went completely unprepared. The judge found in Charlie's favor, for a ridiculous amount of money, and he was able to file a civil foreclosure based on the money he was owed. And that is where this all started.
Once his foreclosure was filed, the bank that held the first priority mortgage decided to also foreclose, which essentially wipes out all subsequent 2nd, 3rd, (etc) mortgages (including Charlie's), and held their own auction.
And here we are.
That's the long and short of it. I know, its a bit confusing.
But anyway, Charlie won the auction.
And to top it all off, while in the conference room, after winning the auction, he had the balls to say to Matt and Annette- "You guys can stay right there, you guys can continue to run it"... Well, that set Matt into a flurry... in a conference room full of attorneys and bankers... Leaning over the conference table, pointing at Charlie sitting in his chair, yelling... "I'm not running shit from you, you fuck! The last time you ran it, you ran it into the fucking ground! I'll be seeing you around, mother fucker!"
I have to say, I was more than a little bit proud of him. Even though I was devastated, I left that room smiling.

And then we all went back to The Brook. We told the other employees, our friends, our customers, our family. It was like being at a funeral. We accepted hugs and condolences. We drank. And drank some more. We gave out condolences. We cried. And cried some more.
The place filled up with regulars, as I suspect it will for the next nine days.
That's all we have. Nine days.
Our liquor license just happens to expire on the 2nd of November. It obviously makes no sense to pay the couple thousand dollars to renew knowing we are closing, so that will be our last day.
Nine days. The end of an era. A family disbanded.

And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't also devastated about losing my job.
I don't have a significant other who works. I don't have a second full time job.
I'm so scared. I'm afraid of losing my house, or my car. I'm afraid of not being able to pay my homeowners insurance, my car insurance, my cell phone bill. I'm afraid of having to cancel cable, or internet. Or quit smoking, or quit Dunkin. Oh hell, who am I kidding, like Kristina said, I'll quit eating before I quit smoking.

Fortunately, an opportunity did present itself at just the right moment. My old boss from Ramona's (the nice young man that I trained behind the bar over ten years ago, who now owns the place), asked me if I'd like to come back to work down there. It would only be part time, and it would be a significant pay cut, but at least it would be something. I'm not sure what the tip potential will be, I guess I'll have to see when I get going. I will most likely still need to get a second job to make ends meet. I'll have to keep looking for something that will work around my hours in Bucksport.
As of right now, it looks like I'll be tending bar down there on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from open to close (2-11ish), Fridays 2-7, and some Saturday nights if a second bartender is needed. I am really hoping that some of my Brookside customers who live in the Orrington area will come and see me in Bucksport. It's just a hop skip and a jump away. One of my favorites, Grumpy Jim, said he'd come down. I said- "Oh Jim, you'd really come down to Ramona's?" And he said- "I'll have to! It's the only way I'm going to be able to see you!" Kinda made my cold, black heart melt.

It will be easy to start back up there, comfortable. It's almost like a second home for me down there, too. I know everyone there, from my years and years of working there. It will be nice to see the old faces across the bar again. And I think they will all feel the same when they see me back behind the bar. Many of them have told me, and continue to tell me how much they miss me working there. So it will be nice. And an easy transition.
Now I just need to look for a second job to fill in the financial gaps.

I am scared shitless.
My job, my income, my comfort, my stability, has been taken from me.

And a family disbanded.




Friday, October 20, 2017

Up at 4:30. Couldn't sleep. Too much to think about.

Today is the year anniversary of Jayden's death. One year ago today, that young man succumbed to his demons, at only 13 years old. My boy's step-brother, his best friend. They were inseparable... I'll never forget that day. The nightmare. I relive it often. My heart broke that day, for my boy, my boy's dad, for Jayden's mother, his sisters. For Jayden. Life changed that day, for so many people. I'll never understand how it can be so cruel. I relive that night with my boy often, too. The pain. The heartbreak. The trauma. What he went through is unimaginable. I hate life for giving it to him.
There is nothing that can take away this kind of pain for them. There are no words of comfort. Nothing will ever be the same. Life is cruel and unfair.
I dreamt of Jayden this morning. Of him and my boy. They were riding dirt bikes, doing stunts that made me cringe. I could see them both so clearly, dressed in their gear, riding in the pit. And I woke up crying. I wish it weren't a dream.

I also dreamt of the bar last night. I wish it had given me some glimpse of how the auction would go. In fact, people keep asking me- "Do you have any idea how it might go?" But there's just no way of telling what will happen. It has been posted in the public notice section of the paper. Who knows... 50 people could show up, or 5. We could have 2 bidders, or 20. Who knows if bidding will go high quickly, and far above what the bosses are willing to spend, or if it'll stay low, and we'll end up winning it. There's just no way to predict. And it's so fucking stressful.I continue to send out resumes, just in case. I've received one call so far, from Walmart. I applied for a department manager position there. It wouldn't be my first choice for employment, but I may end up in a position where I can't be picky.
Four days. Four days till auction.
Fuck.

The band is stressing me out a bit too. Something that is supposed to bring me joy... It always seems to become so much work. That's usually why these things fail. Of course it's work, much like a relationship is work. But when it's too much work, is when one begins to reconsider. It's not to that point yet, though. Christ, we haven't even gotten it up and running yet. It does seem like deja vu... Before it even takes off, it crumbles. Just like last time. It's so frustrating. Last time it was guitar player issues, this time it's a bass player issue. Our original bass player turned out to be a space cadet who isn't totally committed (as we are). We auditioned a couple over the last couple weeks, with no luck. We've got one more coming to audition (for a second time) this weekend. Then we have to decide on whether or not we take him or start advertising. So frustrating. Why can't these things just be easy!?!

I miss my son.

Sidenote, and not relative to anything, really... I realized something again this week that I kind of already knew. I don't really have any friends. I have two, I think. Becki, and Stacie. Those are lifelong friends. The kind you have had for decades, that you see once in a while, when you can, but are always still close to. But otherwise, I don't really have any friends. I know lots of people who would call themselves my friends. But I doubt they'd come to my aid if I needed something... like if I needed help moving (and I've moved a few times over the last two years). Or invite me to a gathering... I'm not included in those things, I don't get an invite. Or sit and listen to me if I needed a shoulder, instead of talking to me about themselves, or the weather, or politics, or work, or whatever else (maybe that's why I blog).
I would have lots of attendees at my funeral. Many would even weep. But I don't know how many of them would have actually been my friend.
Many would say that it's my own fault that I don't have friends. I'm too hard to get to know, I'm too hard to warm up, I don't socialize often enough, or attend if I actually do get an invite to something, I'm too closed off, or I'm just too much of an asshole, or something. Who knows. Maybe all of those things are true. Maybe people just don't like me. Or maybe they just don't take the time to get to know me, maybe it's just too much work. They have enough friends already.
Anyway... I guess it's ok. I guess I don't really need friends. Although, it does make me sad. Or maybe just envious. It's fine. It's really fine. Who needs friends, right?

Anyway, I have the cats.
And my cat still hates the kitten. And she hates pretty much everyone since the kitten has moved in. She's still so angry, that she's unpredictable and attacks us when we pet her. She still attacks the kitten if he gets too close to her. She hates being inside, she'd rather be outdoors all the time. I'm beginning to think it won't work itself out. But I'm still hoping it will. The kitten is really sweet and friendly. I really do hope she comes to accept him.
Maybe she's sad and lonely, and really wants a friend, but she's just hard to warm up to... She takes a long time to make friends with, to get to know... Maybe she just needs more time, and then they'll be best buddies, best friends for life.
Or maybe she was just fine without a friend.
Who friggin knows.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday coffee and blogging... I keep staring at this blank space, trying to find the words, make my fingers type... Because I know I need to...

I'm still suffering from an emotional hangover from the celebration of life yesterday. I'm drained. Sad. Exhausted. Depressed.
I spoke at the ceremony, and sang. I don't know how I did either. It was a long day. A nice ceremony, followed by food, music and mingling. There was karaoke and a band. Norton would have loved it. We were there for several hours. I sang a few times throughout the day, begrudgingly.
I'd like to share what I said at the ceremony yesterday...

"I was going to try to get up here today and just wing it, but this morning I realized I wouldn’t be able to do that, so I wrote some things down instead.
I met Norton (that’s what I’ve always called him, Norton), almost 20 years ago, at a little karaoke bar in Bangor called The Heritage. We were both singers, but neither of us were just karaoke singers, we both had a gift, and I think that’s what really drew us to one another. From there on out, and for quite a time, Norton, myself, and my best friend Stacie were pretty much inseparable. We were always together at karaoke, and we were always together at Norton’s apartment. Ed was usually hanging with us as well. And Norton’s poor roommate Brian had to deal with us at our afterhours gatherings... I’m Sorry Brian.
Over the years, Norton came to see me in my bands, and I would go to see him in his. Or we would go together to see someone else’s. And there was always karaoke. There were boyfriends and husbands, girlfriends, jobs, I had children, life went along, and Norton and I always remained in close contact, and always saw each other when we could.
Last week I was going through my old photos, and I found so many of us.. so many of him. Him and I, him and Stacie, us at karaoke, us at Halloween parties, us at his apartment, him and I and my mom, when he came to see me at work, him dancing with my sister at one of my gigs, him and I singing together with "Fishwhistle"…so many photos. So many memories.  We certainly had a wonderful couple of decades together.
That gift that originally brought us together developed into a friendship that I can’t really explain. I know Stacie can relate. And maybe some of his other female friends can as well. It was just super close, so close that our significant others were probably a little (or very) jealous of it. I know a few of mine were over the years. But we were just that close… Well, that, and Norton was a terrible flirt! He was quite charming, that one. But seriously, we were just so close, and there was no denying it. You just couldn’t. We just loved each other. We were best of friends, and more than that. It’s hard to describe the connection that we had. And I know that that’s not specific to me. Every one of you in this room would probably say the same thing, it’s hard to describe the kind of special connection you have when you’re dealing with such an extraordinary person.
Norton and I loved each other. And it was unfazed by time or circumstance, and it was genuine, and it was real; and we never refrained from telling each other, and showing each other, always, all through the years. I will miss that love in my life, so much, but I will always remember it, and be grateful for it.
And now, I’d like to sing a song, for Norton, for all of us who loved him. I could have chosen any song about love, or friendship, or memories… But instead I wanted to sing a song that Norton always sang. He had many signature songs over the years, but this was one I remember him singing all the time, and I loved it when he did. I’ll try to get through it as best I can."
I sang "If You Could Only See", by Tonic. And somehow, I got through it.

As I sit here, I keep looking at Norton's microphone. He used it in his band "Fishwhistle" all those years. It was framed in a shadowbox and gifted to me yesterday. That nearly brought me to my knees. It is probably the greatest gift I've ever been given. It now sits on one of my shelves, along with a couple of photos of Norton and I, that they had enlarged and framed for me as well.
Yesterday somehow made this nightmare really real.
It's real now, he's gone, and now we have to live with it.
I cannot find solace in the well-meant words of people who say "he'll always be with you", or, "he lives on in your heart"... Because the fact is, he isn't, and he doesn't. I don't have him anymore.
He's gone. And there is no comfort for that.

Anyway...

The bar.
9 days till auction. 9 days, and I'm starting to freak out.
As I've said before, my bosses will attend the auction and bid (and I'll be there observing, gnawing at my nails and pulling my hair out). But they are aware of the building's condition and needs, and they are financially wise; they know what they are willing to pay for it. If bidding goes above that amount, we are done.
I've been sending out resumes, just in case.
But what skills do I have? No college degree, and I've been tending bar for 15 years. It's not like I'm highly qualified for a full-time office job. I don't know what I'll do. Take a couple of lower wage jobs (no experience or degree required), most likely. Probably retail or something like that. Maybe, or hopefully, a serving job of some kind as well. Two or even three jobs. Work as much as possible to make ends meet.
9 days and I'm freaking out. I could be unemployed in 9 days. With a mortgage. A car payment. A mound of bills. Yeah, freaking out.

Anyway...

The boy just completed all his driving for driver's ed, and we'll be going to DMV tomorrow to get his permit. Holy hell. Holy HELL! He'll be wanting to drive my car everywhere we go now!
Shit.
Does this mean I have to call my insurance company and watch my premium go through the roof?
Shit.

Speaking of the boy... Nothing's changed there. Nothing ever seems to. I'm beginning to think it never will. This is how it will be with him from here on out. And that sucks. He still doesn't stay with me. But he does still visit me often. Drives through the trail and comes over to visit. Sometimes only for a few minutes, sometimes longer.
It's premature empty nest, and it hurts. I have to start letting go at some point. I just don't know how. And I don't want to. It's too soon. It's not fair. The fact that my son left me this early, is not fucking fair.

Living alone hasn't been the greatest thing I've ever experience. Some people enjoy it. Some find it liberating, or empowering. I don't find it either of those things. Sure, some would say it's best for me, considering how "nazi" I am about things (as Dawson would say). Yes, I want things a certain way, yes, I'm somewhat inflexible, yes, I'm a little OCD, yes, I'm a bit of a neat freak, yes, I'm a little controlling... But, but, but... I could adapt, change, adjust, compromise. It sure would beat being alone all the time. And I certainly don't look forward to more of it. But I guess I'll have to deal with it.
Sigh.

My cat, whom I thought was lonely and bored and needed a playmate, absolutely hates the new kitten. It's been just a bout a week. I know it takes time with cats. It could take a month. It could take longer (but hopefully not). She hasn't killed him yet. They can be in the same room together. But if he gets near her, she attacks. Not harmfully, really, just a warning attack. And she's basically miserable all the time. Walks around hissing and growling, all the time. She's so unpredictable now that you can't pet her, because most of the time she's going to bite you. She's really pissed. The kitten is persistent, though. He follows her around and keeps trying to make friends. And she keeps getting angrier.
I'm hoping this will work itself out. I'm still convinced that she was bored and lonely and needed a friend (like me). She just doesn't know it yet. We shall see.

The band is trudging along. Nothing good comes easy, and that proves itself once again with this band thing. We're having bass player issues already (jeezus, deja vu?). We have options, just maybe not exactly what I had in mind. And, being the "nazi" that I am, not up to my expectations.
It's so much work. Is it worth it? I hope so.

The boy just stopped in for a few minutes. His now typical surprise, brief pop ins. It seems I live for those now a days.

I look back on my last blog and see how positive and upbeat I seemed. That was nice. It must have been a good day. Granted, there are more of those good moments then there used to be, but there are still a fair share of bad ones. It's still a constant struggle.

I suppose, I should go try to do something. Not sure what.
Vacuum? Make myself go for a walk? Watch Netflix? Look online for a job?
Something.

Be well.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

So  much happening lately, so much to blog about. And yet I haven't written for almost three weeks.
Maybe it's just more of the same.
More of a country divided, violence and terror, mass shootings, a world on the brink of nuclear war, friends and family turning against one another over protests, amendments and political viewpoints...
Whoa. Back up. That shit's way too heavy for a Crista blog.

So anyway...
Coffee and blogging. At 4 pm, because anytime is a good time for coffee.

The bar... Oh, the bar.
Twenty days. Twenty days till auction.
The bosses will attend and bid. We all have our fingers crossed. And toes. And legs. And arms. I'm not the praying type. But jeezus, I've been praying my ass off.
I can't imagine what it would be like for there to be no Brookside. I also can't imagine what it would be like to have a house payment, a car payment, and a mound of bills, with no job. So yeah, praying my ass off.

As most of you have seen on Facebook, I lost one of my very close friends last week. I don't know what to say about it. I had a hard enough time keeping it together at work over the weekend. Every day something makes me think of him and I start crying all over again. His services are next weekend. I have chosen a song to sing at the celebration of life. I don't know how I'll do it, but it's important to me that I do. That's what him and I did; we sang. That's what drew us to each other nearly 20 years ago, and it's what we did together in the most recent of times. I miss him so much. I still can't believe it's real. My heart is broken.






Anyway... Onto lighter stuff...

I decided not to get a dog. Sigh.
As much as I want one right now, I'm just too busy. And last weekend I met the sweetest maltese. She was with the rescue I was working with. And she was all ready to come home with me... And mom wanted me to get her, said she'd dogsit all the time. And it all sounded great, but I just know how busy I will be with work and the band. Damnit.

My cat is miserable. At least, I think she's miserable. A couple weeks ago I spent two days at Phil's house. Since I've come back, she walks around meowing, ALL. THE. TIME. If she's not sleeping, eating, or being petted, she's walking around meowing. It's actually quite infuriating. SO much that I put her outside. She's not sick. She's eating, sleeping, voiding, not seeming lame, seems perfectly normal. Other than this INCESSANT meowing.
So I think, maybe she's bored and lonely?
So today I went to the Bucksport animal shelter, and picked out a little boy kitty to adopt. He's got to be neutered next week and then recover, then he can come home. Now, Samantha is quite bitchy, so it's going to be interesting. I did a bunch of research and have (I think) chosen the ideal fit for introducing a new cat to an existing cat household- younger, smaller, and of the opposite sex. I have an "isolation room" (Dawson's room) all set up for new kitten, so the two can smell each other, but not get to each other for the first few... days? Weeks? How ever long it takes?
We shall see. He comes home a week from Sunday.

The band is cruising right along. We're learning songs at a pretty quick pace. At this rate, we might be ready to play out in 2-3 months. I'll give it a bit longer, and then start making some phone calls. Start marketing, peddling the band, trying to get some gigs on the books.
I am curious to see if I will still have the stamina to sing an entire weekend. I guess I'm going to have to!

Nothing has changed with the boy. He still pops in to visit when he feels like it. I bring him to and from school three days a week. He still stays with his dad, and not with me. And I am still trying to understand it, cope with it. I miss him so much.

Even considering all the sad and stressful things going on in my life right now, I am still generally in a good place, I think. There are still things to be happy about, grateful for...
Like a man who mows my lawn after working a long hard day, and when he plays guitar it feels like it's just for me, who loves me unconditionally.
Two Bosses who appreciate me, and express it often. A solid and sweet staff of ladies (and Hazen) ;)
My mom; I still have my mom.
Even though the boy doesn't stay with me, I do see him more often than I was.
A sweet, smart, wonderful grown daughter.
My own home, a nice car, my bills are paid (well, for now, all of this, lol)
My health, for now, I have my health.
A really cool group of musicians to get my band back together!

Two months ago, six months ago, a year... I wouldn't have been able to appreciate these things, to feel this way, to see any happiness through my depression. It was so consuming, for so long. I don't know what's changed for me. But I'm glad it did, and I hope it lasts.
Hey, maybe they finally got my pharmaceutical cocktail right!

Oh, just about time to go pick up the boy from driver's ed.

Be well.