Cashing Out

I grew up in tiny Sandpoint, Idaho. I had one of those storybook childhoods that most people dream of for their children. I learned to ride a horse before my training wheels were removed from the bike that would have tethered me to paved roads. My best friend was raised by her grandparents so we had ample adventures and limited supervision. I’m eternally grateful that I grew up before Facebook because we were very good at finding trouble to get into. Premarital sex, underage drinking and grand theft. We got away with it all…and there are only a handful of bad pictures.

I wanted to drive away from my small hometown the minute graduation was over without a second glance over my shoulder. I’ve never liked small town life and when you live where other folks vacation, people think you’re crazy for admitting that you actually hate what they covet.

I moved in with my boyfriend in the middle of my sophomore year of highschool and got pregnant…like so many small town girls with big city dreams, do. I was 16 and had an abortion. It was awful, though I’ve always been grateful and would do it again if I had the chance to choose differently. I was scared to death of a penis after that though- and my boyfriend and I were terrified of getting pregnant. Things declined and we eventually broke up and I moved home for my senior year. Counting the seconds until my last drive across the iconic long bridge.

 

Life and living beyond my maturity had left me pretty isolated and removed from any friendships I’d had before, so I poured myself into school and graduated with honors. My focus was clear again and I was excited to leave my small town and all the sad memories, behind.

I ran into that same ex boyfriend on my 18th birthday… and we got pregnant with our son. I turned 19 with a newborn in my arms, having only made it about a ten minute drive from my mother’s house. We did the best we could with what we had and worked hard to have a happy home. I’d just never hoped to call a single-wide with mushrooms growing on the ceiling, home-sweet-home. I had always wanted to be a mother though, and fell in love with raising babies instead of chasing dreams. I packed away my big city dreams with my high heels and started sewing cloth diapers.

When our son turned 3 and I wanted another baby… we bought our house. When that second baby turned 3, we got divorced and that house became my home.

Queen of my own castle, ruler of my domain.

That sounds far more incredible than the reality.

I’ve been through foreclosure twice, my property taxes have crippled me a few times and don’t even get me started on the maintenance of 2 acres OR the $10,000 water leak. I’ve hung on to this house by the smallest possible margin and I’ve grown to love it like it’s my fourth child.

The worms in my garden are some of my closest friends. I’ve spent a lot of time alone in trying to keep up with my sanctuary, and I’m still constantly behind the 8 ball.

Corona virus decimated my company and all but 3 employees have been permanently laid off. I’m one of those “lucky” ones who makes more on unemployment than I did working full time. I’ve been cleaning and painting and treasuring these endless weeks at home to catch up on the gazillion things that have fallen by the wayside as a result of being gone 40 hours a week and single parenting full time.

I bought myself a Roomba and wake up to clean floors every day. Holy Christ on the cross, if you don’t have one, buy it… I don’t know how or why I ever lived without her. A clean house makes me so happy and happiness clears my head. I bought a big beautiful wool rug for my enormous living room, and sat in the middle of it with my knitting, smiling all by myself.

Happy.

So happy I’m done settling for sad.

I sat in the silence of my big empty castle and decided to leap like I’ve always wanted.

To take that last drive across the bridge I’m supposed to love, but don’t.

The only thing keeping me from going is my best friend in the whole wide world. My red haired security blanket. The first person to tell me to go because she knows how much I’ve always wanted to. She helped me narrow down the field of candidates and I pulled the trigger.

I listed the house and my beautiful garden for sale.

I want that last drive to be THE last drive.

I picked the nicest realtor who came highly recommended from my favorite people. She got me all signed up and ready to go, then blew my mind a little.

$900,000.00 with a stipulation that I get to harvest my garden. How do you like them apples?

The nest egg I’ve nearly killed myself to hang onto, has grown to the point that my dreams can come true…

ANYWHERE else.

 


I see you.

The one thing I can’t shake after all these years of blogging, is how quiet I get when I know the people I hate the most, are relishing the fact that they can read my journal.

It’s an unfortunate side effect to being a wordy girl.

I’m a little spoiled though, because I have a ridiculous amount of help tracking people and traffic here. If you read this, I know.

So when that sorry sack of trash I thought I loved, sent a link to a flowery post I wrote about him a decade ago to his new girlfriend, I had to laugh a little. I knew he was stupid, but that’s next level idiocy.

When his ex shows up every day to read… I see her too.

When he can’t sleep? I know precisely what he’s reading and what time.

I don’t know why it makes me so silent…

It’s been 2 months since I saw him and I finally feel like myself again. I’m sleeping soundly, have written three chapters in my book, planted a shitload of vegetables and am packing up 20 years of life and moving to the sunshine.

I’m ashamed I let him shake the foundation I’ve worked so hard to build, sad I compromised a job I worked so hard for and embarrassed that someone so careless could feel special to me.

I lost a lifelong friend over him and he’s absolutely not worth it.

I lost myself too for a minute, and it’s taken some time to breathe through the disappointment. I ran into a good friend of his yesterday and he leveled me with one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever gotten. I saw him walking towards me at the hardware store and tried to avoid him. He walked up and hugged me, which felt like a slap after all this quarantine. I must have looked mortified, because he laughed.

S- Hey. I’m sorry. How are you?

J- Uh…

S- I heard.

J- Awesome.

S- Listen. You have so much going for you. What could you possibly want him for? He lives in his parent’s basement, has no ambition and a shitty attitude. He has to date a kindergartner because he doesn’t have anything to offer a grown woman.

I’m a crybaby. Kindness inspires tears just as much as pain…. but I started taking Zoloft a month ago and have finally harnessed my emotions. Crying isn’t as much of a burden anymore, but I bawled right then and there in the electrical aisle of Home Depot.

I hugged him, thanked him and wiped my tears away… I was waiting in line when he walked by again and shouted back to me:

S-  Go home and write. Put that fucker in his place, for all of us. You deserve better, and I’m glad Captain Ahab didn’t realize his good fortune. Good luck, wherever you’re headed.

While I don’t appreciate being one of the great white whales he poached, I am really fucking thankful to be the fish that got away.

whole


Tangible Joy


While the world around me implodes and everybody freaks out one way or another about the worldwide lockdown… I am in heaven.

I wasted almost 2 years struggling over someone with nothing but misery to offer me. You’d think I’d be hanging my head in shame, crying in private over my foolish heart or raining down angry adjectives in his direction, day after day.

But to use his favorite word: he ain’t worth another drop. Those two years taught me a lot about being manipulated, working through impossible circumstances and more importantly, about my own fierce resilience. I spent months beating myself up over it and so many sleepless nights agonizing about facing another day in the same hell.

Not anymore. I never have to see him again. I feel like I can actually breathe deeply for the first time in over a year. Social distancing has been a lifesaver and I’m in no hurry for life to return to business as usual.

I get up around 9 these days, snuggle with my happy little Dumpling and our favorite cat. My kitchen is a mess but the pantry is well stocked and has become my playground again. Being home is my favorite thing in the world, and it shows. Gone are the circles under my eyes that I’ve painstakingly painted over with concealer for so long, and my skin is finally recovering from too much makeup, worn too often. I’m sleeping again and he’s finally not showing up there, either. Hating him is an immense relief.

Stress weight is melting off like the snow on the mountains you can see from my kitchen window and I catch myself smiling at each sleepy new morning that promises to bring another beautiful day. I am all about this quarantine life.

Being hurt by someone you trusted implicitly can change how willing you are to invest yourself again. It can ruin that fledgling bit of hope that love is supposed to inspire. It can break things that can’t be fixed while making you jaded and bitter.

Or… you can look at the lessons in all of it and hope they saved you from making the same mistake again. It hurts to know I put my trust where I shouldn’t have, but the lessons I take away from this will forever change what I allow in my life, how much time I’m willing to spend feeling uncertain and how long it takes me to listen to my own intuition.

believehim

I put him back in the shitty little place I found him and pretty soon he’ll be nothing but a bad memory and strong reminder to be a little more guarded, even with the people I trust the most. Sometimes those are the people you need to watch the closest. That’s a painful but valuable lesson and I thank him for helping me better recognize the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

I’m moving away from the snow I hate so much and throwing away all these familiar places and reminders.

I’m terribly grateful to him for lighting the fire I needed to get up and get after those dreams I’ve let collect dust. I got stuck in this little town after having my first baby at 18, my second at 23 and subsequent divorce at 27. Shared custody kept me in the same town I grew up in, seeing my high school friends (and enemies) every time I leave the house.

Ironically enough, my elder two children grew up, graduated and got the hell out of here, immediately. I was planning on doing the same, when I got my dream job.

I probably would have stayed forever because the money was great for my little town, my boss is a dear friend and I’m loyal to a fault. But…. I loathe winter. I hate a lot of things about where I live.

And people for that matter.

I decided it was finally my turn to go. I’ve spent the day packing boxes for the thrift store and loading garbage into the truck to take to the dump. It’s finally getting real. My heart is singing and I’m already pinching myself at the thought of that one last drive out of town.

I’m happy to my toes and dancing while I pack up the past and walk into the future I’ve worked so hard for, to a place without snow and surrounded by strangers.

Thanks be to God. ♥


Peace & Dinner Rolls

Ahhhhhh….. sweet relief.

I fucking love quarantine and unemployment doesn’t suck, either. Losing my health insurance in the midst of a global pandemic isn’t very exciting, but there are far greater problems in the world and it was the first time I’d ever had it- so c’est la vie.

The Dumpling and I have settled into an easy routine. Our days begin around 9 when she climbs into my bed to cuddle. The favorite cat; Dazzle, loves to snuggle in the mornings and you can hear her purr her way from the living room to the tiny space between us. Gone are the stress-filled mornings of me yelling “WE HAVE TO GET IN THE CAR, NOW!” and in its place is a lovely bunch of peace.

Life has calmed the hell down and I’m living for it.

It turns out, two cups of coffee is what I need to get shit done and a few bites of scrambled eggs each morning are helping me overcome the aversion to the little chicken embryos. I still prefer them as a light coating on a veggie stir-fry, but I’m trying.

img_8270My seeds have started to sprout in the greenhouse and I had a lovely chartreuse pop of baby blue curled kale peeking up at me this morning. The shallots are doing their usual crazy root explosion and my gardenia is setting three buds instead of one on each branch. Spring is still coming, in the midst of all this chaos. img_8268

I could have sworn today was Tuesday, but no! I just went to check how much longer my bread needs to rise and it’s Wednesday! Surprise! I can’t remember the last time I lost track of the days of the week, not to mention spent a few in a row in my pajamas. All my clothes are clean and every last bra is washed and hung- with no intention of putting one on. This is bliss, y’all. Pure, unadulterated BLISS.

Since I’ve realized I’m on the wrong day of my domestic plan, I have a snoozy little afternoon full of folding linens, changing sheets and watching the Tiger King live his best life.

I’ve perfected my dinner rolls and finally remembered to write down amounts and take pictures, so here you go! Wash your hands, bake some bread, enjoy your jammies and STAY THE FUCK AT HOME. ♥

img_8271

Jenni’s Bomb Dinner Rolls (or bread if you like slices)

  • 2 cups of water ( fairly hot- I like about 110*F)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast
  • 1 1/2 salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 cups of flour. I prefer half bread flour and half unbleached wheat flour but play around and find your favorite.

Combine the hot water, sugar and honey. Stir to combine and add the yeast. Let it sit for 10 minutes. img_8232

In the bowl of your mixer, combine 1 cup of flour, salt and olive oil. Mix thoroughly and add the liquids. Add one cup of flour at a time until it is pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Knead on medium speed in the mixer for 5 minutes or do it the hard way (by hand) for about 10 minutes, it’s up to you.

I am obsessed with my Instant Pot for how well it proofs dough. If you don’t have one, go buy one right now. You genuinely need it. img_8235

Spray the inside of your Instant Pot with non-stick spray and plop your dough in there. Set it to Yogurt setting on low, and set the time to 60 minutes.

Prepare to be amazed. Also clean up your mess- you’ll be lazily eating rolls soon and you won’t want to do it after the gluten coma hits. img_8239

After an hour, open your magical countertop time machine and fall in love with it all over again. Punch that beautiful dough down and dump it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about a minute, then shape into two loaves or two dozen rolls.

60697291656__b97711e7-0dfd-4cf4-ba39-14798444e351Let rise for about a half hour or until doubled in size. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes!

Mmmm…. They’re delicious! Enjoy! img_8242

 

 

 

 


Day 30: Write about things that you don’t understand.

I don’t understand people that drive 5 miles an hour under the speed limit. Why? I used to have horrible road rage which vanished with the birth of my second child but this is one of those things that drives me a little insane. I understand it’s not necessary to do the limit, but I think we can all agree that most people do. Drive the speed limit, or pull over for faster moving traffic to pass you safely. Don’t even get me started if you’re having a leisurely slow cruise in the passing lane.

I don’t understand these assholes that are still hoarding all the toilet paper. For the love of Jesus, don’t buy toilet paper just because you see there’s a few rolls available. If you have some at home, don’t buy it until you need it, and everything will go back to normal. The baking aisle also really pisses me off. I bake bread every week and now the only flour available is self rising and gluten free, neither of which interest me. I’m almost out of yeast and the doomsday shoppers are stockpiling it, for what?? Apocolypse pizza? Stoppppppppppppp It. Please. I really don’t want to pay $25 for a 4 oz jar on ebay, but that’s what it’s coming down to.

I don’t understand people who don’t like being at home. This quarantine stuff is my jam. I’m getting things cleaned up and put away that have been begging for my attention for years! I’m getting to spend quality time playing with the Dumpling. She’s learning real math in place of that godforsaken common core bullshit they’ve been torturing us with all year (sorry, not sorry) and cursive handwriting. Ms. Oldschool is the teacher now, 🙂 . I’ve taught her to bake dinner rolls, plant okra and lettuce seeds and we’ve put together a few dozen puzzles. We fell asleep on the couch together last night and when I woke up to move her to her bed, I realized how lucky I am to have this unexpected time with her before she turns into a big kid. Being at home is my favorite thing in the world and it looks like we’re going to stretch this thing out for another month so it’s a damn good thing it’s not winter.

Along those lines… I don’t understand people who don’t love to garden. I catch myself saying “Oh you just haven’t met the right vegetable or flower, like some sort of horticultural pusher. I’ve spent some of my saddest days in my garden. Nothing eases immeasurable pain like planting something or harvesting a few carrots. I find so much comfort in the quiet routine of pulling weeds and enjoy my coffee twice as much when I’m in slippers and a bathrobe walking down the straw-covered path between my peas and tomatoes. The sound and humidity of rainbird sprinklers in the hot summer twilight, is one of my favorite things in the world.

Most of all, I don’t understand why everything needs to be understood. Some things are the way they are just because, not to make any sense or serve any purpose. Some things are just there to make the world lovely.

Remember what they say? Ignorance is bliss. ♥

jl