the Habitation Game – Book Synopsis

Were you hoping to read something from me today? Well, I really hoped you were because I realized I haven’t released my book synopsis to everyone yet! What better way to do that, than right here on the blog?! I hope you enjoy it and are ready to read this bad boy soon! 

Xo, Jaime                                                                                                                                                         

the Habitation Game by J Parker Sticklethe Habitation Game – Book Synopsis

Emily sits, staring at the clock on her computer screen, counting down the minutes until she can leave for the day while musing on how she ended up working for Corporate America. Little did she realize the worst part of her day was yet to come when happy hour obligations put her front and center with the woman who would put the word dead, into Emily’s dead-end job.

As Emily recounts 30-years of roommate relationships, some worse than others – like the time she lived with a nudist, whom she suspects was also a Nazi; to the times she unwittingly allowed an alcoholic, a drug dealer, and a couple of mobsters’ kids to live with her. Nothing could have prepared her, though, for Adeline.

Not only did Adeline manipulate Emily into living with her, but she also moved in with a secret boyfriend and an oppressive personality disorder. The worst part – Emily and Adeline work only three desks away from each other.

As anxiety begins to knot and twist around Emily’s stomach, the fear that she’s made a grave mistake by moving in with Adeline is validated when Adeline’s mood swings start to manifest themselves and secrets of her own past roommates are revealed. At least that’s how Emily sees it when Adeline starts to communicate with Emily using a butcher’s knife instead of a Post-it note.

As Adeline continues to mind-fuck Emily, she is unaware that she is playing with fire. After years of living with crazy people, and months of putting up with Adeline, Emily may have the motive to strike back.

Book coming! 2018! Woohoo! Make sure to follow me here or on Instagram for updates!

Isagenix Day Two

It’s not my place to get into the nuances of nutrition and healthy eating – I’m not a registered dietician and I’ve primarily made eating right a mission for myself. So, I’m not going to preach about food and eating correctly or the farming industry, or the benefits of one particular diet over another. Honestly, I just feel overwhelmed by most of it; do you feel that way, too? Ugh.

In the past I’ve done healthy elimination diets, which means canceling out dairy and carbs, nightshades, things that can wreak havoc on the system. But it’s a lot of work, a lot of cooking, a full time JOB! I’ve already got three full-time gigs as it is, so I’m not in the frame of mind to take on that sort of commitment right now. Instead, I’ve opted to take the plunge and try the Isagenix 30-day cleanse. Yes, I’ve researched it, I’ve read the reviews, I’ve talked to all my friends who’ve tried it and I felt pretty confident that I could stick to it and come out feeling good at the end of the month.

While the commitment is huge, the process is actually really simple. No special grocery shopping, stocking up on loads of greens that spill out of the fridge. No special three meals a day plus snacks to prepare. Really, it’s basically two shakes a day, two snacks, and one sensible meal. How hard is that?

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I’ll tell you, it’s day two and I’m craving snacks and coffee. Yeah, I’m a decaf drinker so it’s not the caffeine I’m chasing just the taste and smell and warmth of the cup in my hand. My coffee drinking is more of a hobby than an addiction. So is my snacking. When I have writer’s block or when I’m in the flow of writing I need nuts, or pretzels to just mindlessly pop into my mouth. I’ve cut myself off from all this in order to what? Well, vainly, get rid of the last few pounds of pregnancy weight my body just doesn’t want to shed even after I eliminated sugar and work-out five times a week.

It’s frustrating.

It’s frustrating that my clothes fit, but not comfortably. Instead they pinch and pull and cut into all the wrong places. It’s annoying that wearing anything baggy makes me look schleppy and anything fitted feels snug. And that bloating that happens after lunch? Well, I’m sick of it. I didn’t have these things pre-baby, but post-baby my body has just changed so much. It’s like I’m rediscovering how it/I work.

I don’t honestly know where I’ll end up at the end of this monthly challenge, but I’m hoping for the best. I’ve definitely set some high expectations in my head, which I’m aware is silly, but I just feel a sense of positivity and I want to honor that, because why not? It’s so much work to be pessimistic.

How do I feel right now? Pretty good. Day one was rough. Not because I was hungry, but I had every symptom they tell you might happen. Which basically equates to feeling like you have the stomach flu. Ugh. But day two I’ve seemed to level out. I’ll keep you posted with my honest feelings, because why wouldn’t I?

If you are interested in some awesome foodie info from a vegan, my dear friend and author Michael Chrobak has a wonderful blog talking about the food industry and some great vegan recipes that I’ve tried and approve of! You can find his site at: eatingwrite.weebly.com

In addition, another wonderful resource for nutrition and wellness is my dear friend, Health and Wellness Coach, Kelly Schoger and her company ApotheKelly Wellness. Kelly is a trained and experienced coach with so much amazing knowledge. Her website is truly helpful: ApotheKellyWellness.com

Why am I telling you all this? Why not? This mom can’t be alone in feeling sluggish, anxious, bloaty, and tired, right? I want to feel good all the time for my son, my work, my partner, and me!

A story blog is coming later this week… stay tuned. 😉

Fluff

I sit adjacent to her long, sinewy arm, our legs brushing against each other’s by force of proximity, and I stare into her piercing, icy blue eyes – I’m not going to back down this time. Her character assassination, though disguised as a general opinion of sorts is nothing more than her own insecurity of self worth and value.

“A writer isn’t much more than fluff for entertainment. Anyone can write about anything, it doesn’t take any sort of talent, or skill… you don’t even need an education. It’s not a profession,” I felt her words bunch up my guts like red meat: tough to swallow, hard to chew, regretful.

I smiled in spite of myself, favoring the approach of niceness and I questioned her, “do you read? Books? Fiction? Creative non-fiction? Do you? Any of the great works of literature past or present?”

She stares at me, a smirk passing over her lips that make her eyes dance a little in the light. It’s her tell. I know she’s going to come at me swinging. I’m ready to take a blow, as I see her thoughts passing through her expression. What would she say to cause me injury? Is she so eager to make another hit so early in the conversation?

“No. I suppose I haven’t and I don’t care to. My schedule doesn’t permit the luxury of books. I’m in the business of making money. I suppose that may be an excuse and I could make the time if I thought it were important, but I don’t. Don’t misunderstand me – I don’t think books are important.” She giggles and picks up her wine. I think she may have had enough. Drinking makes her bold and unfiltered and while that can be charming on some it is not the case with Lily.

flowers-2067604_640Lily is an aging beauty. I make-up her past based on stories and photographs. A woman that men adored for her physical attributes and exotic accent, but Lily chose to live life on her own. Her life has been ruled by her fears and anxieties. It feels like a great loss to me. She could have been so much more, a soldier in the fight for humanity, the arts, feminists. She could have been a source of inspiration, but instead she’s a tale of warning.

“We aren’t learning anything new in this conversation, so we should just stop talking about it,” Lily offers as I am distracted by thoughts of who I wish she were.

“Okay,” I too easily agree, regret even, but I know better than to push for more. I know I won’t change her mind, or prove her wrong, but I wish I could point out the masters of the trade and what makes them great. I wish I could find the words that would sway her and make her understand why the world needs writers… my mouth is opening to speak —

It’s too late.

I’ve lost her to other interests. Lily rises from the table, and is moving onto a discussion regarding the inadequacies of individuals that work from home, “a luxury afforded to less ambitious people,” she determines.

I look at her wishing the conversation had not taken place.

I think less of Lily when she makes remarks like this.

I glance at her with a weak smile.

She silently smiles back, her eyes twinkle. I can see she wants to spar.

I decide to go to bed.

I know tomorrow will produce more of the same logic from Lily and I want to point out to her that The Grapes Of Wrath is critical to our country’s history, and how James Baldwin makes us cry as a nation and the influence Ayn Rand has had on politics or Orwell – how can she live in the dark not even considering what these authors left us with?

Not a reader, that’s fine, but to criticize writing as a “lackey’s ambition” is too far. I’m sweating under the covers unable to sleep or calm myself. My frustration turning into anxiety, I reach for my Kindle and pull up a book and I begin to read. My heart rate slows as I lose myself in the beautifully crafted prose of Sedaris. Laughing at the humor of ignorance – or, arrogance? I know I will not change Lily’s mind, but I can write about it here on this page and feel safe knowing she’ll never read what I wrote about her…

On Account of Ghosts

By Michael Chrobak (Guest Author)

There are times when life moves in such a way that it becomes impossible to deny there’s a higher power. Relationships that come at the exact time you need them, or resources to help complete a project you thought might be dead. We’ve all had them. You take a wrong turn while driving in a strange city, and you end of finding the best jazz club you’ve ever been to. Call it a predestined moment, or divine guidance, or just old-fashioned good luck, but it’s clear something outside of ourselves had to be involved. That’s how I came to live where I do now; in a beautiful, loving home; with a ghost.

Let’s go back fifteen years. I was married (still am) with four kids (two of which I shared custody of), all trying to co-exist in a 1400 square foot house. There was barely enough room for our furniture, let alone ourselves. Then, I became a Realtor, and my income jumped. This was during the years when a blind monkey with one arm could find success as a Realtor in the super-hot California market.  I did better than most. After a year or two helping other people move into nice, new homes with lots of extra space, I decided it was time to do so as well. So, I started looking. (It was kind of hard not to be looking, since looking at houses was my job.)

I found a house that seemed absolutely too good to be true. For one, it was quite a bit larger; over 1,000 square feet larger, actually. It had an incredible backyard, and was in a very quiet neighborhood, too. I went to look at it, and immediately fell in love. I told the owner to let his agent know I was submitting an offer, then I went and got my wife and kids so we could all see it. She loved it as much as I did. It was the house we had been dreaming of and one we knew we might never leave.

I went back to the office and called the agent. That’s when he told me there was a ‘mistake’. The price listed was $100,000 under what they were really asking. He says it was a typo, I think it was a brilliant marketing scheme. I wouldn’t have even looked at it at the higher price, thinking it was out of my price range – way out. But, by that time, my wife and I were too much in love with it to pass it up, so we went for it. And, using some creative financing (not illegal!!) we got it.

It was about 4 or 5 months after we moved in that I first felt it – the ghost, that is. I was on the couch watching TV when I caught something out of the corner of my eye, and I felt a chill down my spine. There was nothing there…nothing visible, anyway. But I could tell it was there all the same. I didn’t feel afraid, or worried, just a little curious. “Where did the ghost come from?” “Whose ghost is it?” “What does it want?” I never got the answers to those, and I never talked to anyone about it…not even my wife.

Over the course of time, that ‘something is there’ feeling continued to happen, over and over again. And then, pardon the phrase, but shit got real. No, blood didn’t start seeping out of our walls, nor did my daughter’s baby dolls start chasing us with a butcher’s knife. What did happen was worse. Our appliances started breaking down.

The a/c went out, and we replaced it. The stove went out, we replaced it. The dishwasher, water heater, garage door opener, you name it, we’ve replaced it, or repaired it, or both. Blenders, hair dryers, electric shavers, televisions, computers, anything with power was at risk. Either our ghost doesn’t like technology, or it just didn’t like our bank account. I’m not sure which. Fifteen years we’ve lived here, and we’ve replaced every appliance at least twice, and repaired them multiple times in between. And the repairs have always been the kind where the maintenance guy says, “I’ve never seen a (enter appliance here) do that!” Lucky us! We not only have an appliance killing ghost, but a creative one at that.

This year alone we’ve had two repairs on the dishwasher, two on the oven, bought a new fridge, replaced the furnace and the a/c, have burned out three (yes – 3) blenders, 2 immersion blenders, a food processor, and at least one cell phone. This year has definitely been the worst year so far, and though I’ve never done anything about it before – don’t want to upset the ghost, right? – I intend to find out whose ghost this is, track down whatever relatives they have left behind, and hand them a list of all the items I want reimbursed. I have all the receipts saved in my banking software, in a folder entitled, On Account of Ghosts.

headshotMichael Chrobak has been involved in working with Youth and Youth Ministry programs since he was a teen himself; a long, long time ago. He has held the position of Director of Religious Education and Youth Minister for St. Bonaventure’s Parish in Concord, CA, and also as Youth Minister for St. Michael’s Parish in Livermore, CA. He has survived raising four children of his own and now lives in Oakley, CA where he continues to stay involved in Youth Ministry through his blogs and books.

How to Connect:

 

Travels With Animals

By Chelscey Clayton (Guest Author)

Take a road trip, they said. Use your move as an opportunity to explore, they said. Except that those people didn’t travel with 3 pets. Or if they did, I guarantee you none of those animals were cats.

First, a little context: I have never lived more than 60 miles from Los Angeles. When I travel for long distances, it’s me and my dog (and sometimes husband), because he’s a good dog and loves being with me at all times—literally (this applies to the husband, too). Then, the husband got a job in New Orleans and I said, “Well, why not? Let’s do it!” And so, we packed up our life and started to drive. This included packing up our 2 cats and our dog, and drugging them for 4 days straight because oh my God, those cats were driving me crazy.

My dog, on the other hand, was a saint.

I don’t have children. I imagine my cats crying all through the night in every hotel room was akin to a baby crying and keeping parents up all night.

The pet sedatives that we had—because, fun fact, cat’s won’t stop meowing for 8+ hours of driving if you don’t mellow them out—always wore off at about ten at night. Just about the time when we were settling in, and preparing for another long drive the next day. At which time, my little balls-of-fluff were just beside themselves.

I get it, they were scared, and didn’t know what was happening. But while my dog would look at us and decide “Well, if Mom and Dad are here, then I’m good.” My cats would look at us and think, “OHMYGODWHEREAMI?! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!”

Did I feel bad for them and wish to ease their discomfort? Of course! I’m a devoted pet parent. But I couldn’t figure out what to do. They didn’t want to cuddle with us, they didn’t want to eat, they just cried, and cried. Again, I assume much like a teething toddler where there is just nothing you can do to make things better for the suffering child. Unless you employ some shady methods—usually involving whiskey (I won’t judge you).

We passed through beautiful states, we saw some amazing vistas, but all from the “comforts” of our car because we couldn’t risk leaving the cats alone for a moment, and this included the hotel rooms. We couldn’t take a stroll through the city, dine at a local haunt that was just-to- die-for, because if we did, the cats would lose their minds, and the dog would respond by trying to “play” with them—which the cats would hate even more.

I kept telling myself, “Next time, we’ll do this the right way. Next time, we’ll take the scenic route”. But that was a bold-faced lie. Why? Because I love my cats, even when they are insufferable jerks, and I wouldn’t leave them, or give them up for anything. Eventually, I stopped trying to force feed myself the lie, and my mantra became “This will be over soon. We’ll get to our new house, and it’ll be fine”.

Well, spoiler: we did get there, but it was not fine.

We didn’t have our furniture, power, or hot water for the first few nights (but that’s a different story), so we had to sleep on an air mattress, and the blankets and pillows we took with us for packing purposes. We could have stayed in a hotel and been more comfortable, but I was so tired of subjecting myself—and the pets—to that, that we just decided to “rough it”.

Again, this could have been fine. It could have been like urban camping from the “comforts” of our own home; except for the cats.

No, they weren’t crying anymore. They sensed we had arrived and things were okay by that point. Instead, our cats would see the sleeping lumps of their humans and think, “That looks like a monster. I must slay it!”

Please note: they have never thought that before when they saw us sleeping.

Cut to one of my cat’s pouncing on my foot, claws out, in the middle of the night. I did mention we were sleeping on an air mattress, right? Good. How that thing didn’t pop is beyond me, but thankfully it—and I—survived the encounter.

“So, Chelscey, would you do it again?” Willingly? No, but that’s not an option. I won’t be in New Orleans for the rest of my life, so I will be moving again at some point. Which means we’ll once more be loading up our fur-babies, and attempting to travel cross country.Have I learned anything from the experience? Sure: kitty-downers are a life saver. Will that change anything for the future? No. Because unlike babies, cat’s never grow up. They stay inconsolable little creatures who I will always have to clean-up after, and who will never be able to tell me what’s wrong, but whom I will still love fiercely.

I will tell you what I would do differently next time though; stopping at fewer hotels and just powering through the drive. Because either way, I’m not sleeping.

20171111_135442Written By: Chelscey Clayton, author of The Monster of Selkirk series.

C. E. Clayton (Chelscey) was born and raised in Southern California where she worked in the advertising industry for several years on accounts that ranged from fast food, to cars, and video games (her personal favorite). This was before she packed up her life, husband, two displeased cats, and one very confused dog and moved to New Orleans. Now, she is a full time writer (mainly in the fantasy genre), her cats are no longer as displeased, and her dog no longer confused. More about C.E. Clayton, including her blog, book reviews, and poetry, can be found on her website: https://www.ceclayton.com/

 

The Other Night…

The winds in Los Angeles the past few evenings have felt abrupt and out of place, much like the rains we experienced this past winter. They’ve spread allergies and coughs and viruses, much to the chagrin of every parent, daycare and otherwise sane person. All that hell aside, in the middle of another evening of howling winds knocking down trash bins and whipping open latched gates at will, we had a real situation Thursday night, at 2:07AM.

Jack was having a restless sleep, tossing and turning until he woke himself up and called out for a snuggle around 1:40 AM. Jason sprung into action for that special, middle of the night Jack cuddle time, so down a body in the bed, I starfished myself right out and fell back asleep before I ever really feigned getting up for Jack. Before I ever made it to REM sleep I was trapped in a hellish half-sleep/half-awake-nightmare. Somewhere from the depths of someone’s soul there was a bellowing cry echoing off the mountain and reverberating throughout our home. At first I feared it was Jack and my subconscious was not allowing my conscious state to waken and I couldn’t get to him; I was trapped in sleep-purgatory.

The bellowing yell got louder and I could feel my conscious self pushing through the paralysis of my sleep-state until I sat straight up, blinking a thousand times while catching my breath. Jack was NOT crying and Jason was still missing from the bed and on a second glance at the clock, I saw a mere fifteen minutes had passed since I’d fallen back to sleep. Then, as if on cue to remind me why I’d stirred back awake, there came the same bellowing call for help, only this time I was hearing it with woken ears and a very present mind and it was more ominous and menacing than my half dream state allowed me to grasp.

The voice was oscillating – at one moment it sounded as though it was right outside my window and then almost immediately it sounded like it was coming from down the road and then immediately outside my window, again. The voice so deep, so loud it made me shake on the inside. Finally, I heard the words:

SOMEBODY CALL THE POLICE.

PLEASE.

SOMEBODY CALL THE POLICE.

PLEASE.

 

 

 

somebody call the police.

please.

…..police.

 

This was not the voice of someone in trouble, though. It was not the sound of a crisis. It was hypnotic and foreboding and terrifying, I promise you.

I timidly pulled back the curtain a sliver and peered into the night, looking and searching for the man making the noise as it grew closer and closer to the house, yet again. And I saw my gate was hanging wide open, yet the wind had stopped. Fear shook through me; he was in my yard, but I couldn’t see him. There were no eyes peering back as far as I could stretch my vision through the dark. And when the bellow of PLEASE was right on top on me, I let go of the curtain and ran downstairs for my phone.

I dialed the numbers 9-1-1, send. Hurry. Answer. Hurry.

911 Operator: 9-1-1 – What’s your emergency?

There’s a man – I think it’s a man – somewhere, I think in my yard, yelling from somewhere wild in his belly, for someone to call the police.

911 Operator: And can you see him?

No, I cannot.

911 Operator: But he’s in your yard?

Yes. I think so. Or maybe not, but he’s close. Somewhere close. Listen, do you hear that? That’s him.

911 Operator: I’m sending a car now.

I hung up. I wanted to ask her to stay on the phone with me until the police arrived.

“Jaime?” It was Jason, thank God for Jason. He was whispering, not because he didn’t want to wake-up Jack, but because he was scared. He didn’t want the voice to hear that we were awake, that we felt vulnerable, that we could be his enemies.

“I’m here, I’m here,” I whispered back as I ran up the stairs to meet him.

When I hit the landing of the staircase I saw him, clutching tightly to Jack who stirred in his sleep, and we ran back into our room cradling our baby and waiting for the police as the sound of the voice grew, and grew, and grew. The echo of his pleas haunting us.

There were no sirens when the police arrived, we only knew they’d arrived when we saw the beams of light from their tactical flashlights.

The “Voice” saw the lights of the police as well and suddenly the tone changed. Now the sound of panic and fear, manipulating the previous sound of strength into cowardice, “I’m up here! I’m up here! Help me! I’m up here!”

We gazed out the window to see who was brilliantly managing their voice with such precision and where. And as we followed the beam of the police light up, up, up. There stood a man atop the apex of our neighbor’s roof, peering down at the four men in blue. He who had beckoned the police officers to the spot was almost childlike now, displaying a sense of innocence and underdog cowardice he gently announced, “I’m stuck.”

The ensuing conversation between the rapidly growing police presence, now a dozen large, and the “Voice” on the roof top is not worthy of the character count it would eat up on this post, trust me. It was boring, benign if I’m being generous. The usual patter of please and thank you, but one detail has remained with me: he said he had been chased. Chased by something, but he was not sure what. Chased from the freeway, past the train tracks, and all the way up the roof of this house.

And that was it. There was no follow-up, questioning. No inquiry to description. And no what happened to the “thing” chasing you. As I said before, the exchange was boring.

Personally I do not think the “Thing” is gone. It never stopped chasing him. I think the “Thing” got him. It resides inside him. Dueling with itself, showing fragility in the face of authority, but commanding power over its victim when he’s alone. If his mental disorder is not engineered by the Meth that is rampantly spreading like a disease in our gentrified neighborhood, then it’s the cause of his own genetic make-up breeding chaos in this man’s life.

I will leave you with this: he stood, silently, handcuffed for nearly half an hour while the police officers slowly peeled off, leaving the original two and one more car for safety. Eventually a silent ambulance arrived and with that the entire ordeal was over. Erased. The block empty, peaceful and quiet, the way it should be at 2:30 AM, and the way I hope this man’s mind can find itself again some day. 

I Hid A Bag of Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds – For My Sanity.

IMG_5002I am wildly uptight when it comes to cleanliness and basic household etiquette. Think Monica from ‘Friends,’ but maybe a little worse (and for another day, let’s discuss the ‘Friends’ Haters… just stop, people. Stop it. I’ve watched it so many times, forwards and backwards, and you’re wrong; it’s delightful, and perfect, period).

My mother has long referred to me as fastidious.

I suppose cleaning is my way of controlling the chaos of life. There are worse “habits” used to control the uncontrollable, like not eating, binging & purging, excessive exercise, and I’ve dabbled with them all; but honestly cleaning is the one that makes me feel the most in control amidst the chaos. It’s not just the act of cleaning, it’s that a clean environment allows me to relax. And as far as addiction and personalities go, I repeat, there are far worse things than being fastidious.

It’s not just cleaning. I have to set hard boundaries within my living environment, too. You are allowed to be yourself in my home and not conform to my standards of cleanliness and I’m okay with it, but if you start to impose upon my boundaries I freak the fuck out. Maybe you do too and maybe you don’t even know it…

I have an almost 2-year-old toddler. Guess what he does? He throws food on the floor and thinks it’s funny, so I laugh and also try to teach him that food stays on our plate or at least on the table or preferably in your mouth to consume. And I don’t freak out, because he’s a baby and I can clean it and it’s totally fine. But when my 35-year-old brother in law does it and doesn’t give two craps about who will be cleaning it and what stain it may leave or that it’s happened at all, I start to panic. I swallow down the annoyance that starts to build up inside of me. I push it deep, deep down and I breath and smile, and I stare daggers at him, but I bury the pending freak out because he’s my guest, and family to boot.

I stare at his brother (my husband) and wait for a signal that it will all be fine and that he will clean it up and then I take several deep breaths, plan a 4 mile run, skip the next two meals, and buy and squirrel away a giant bag of dark chocolate covered almonds to shame-eat secretly, without sharing, and it calms the monster brewing in my belly.

You guys! It’s not just dropping food on the floor with abandon that gets under my skin: it’s the week’s worth of toothpaste stains on my new dark wood bookcase; it’s his toenail clippings in my high pile shag rug; it’s razor blades on the floor of the shower my toddler bathes in; it’s a beer bottle cap in the small hands of my 21-month-old who desperately tries to shove the jagged edged piece of metal down his throat after scraping it along his tongue.

Daggers staring down a dead man walking.

It’s wet underwear strewn across my front porch and wet towels left on top of stuffed animals to grow unneeded mildew and create more laundry that will be left for me to do. It’s empty Starbucks cups and plastic straws littering my front lawn. It is used tea bags everywhere, except in the trash.

It is so much more. It’s interminable.

And, AND it is all so unnecessary. UNNECESSARY. There are towel hooks for wet towels; there’s a dryer for your underwear; there’s a trashcan in so many different rooms plus several outside for EVERYTHING ELSE!

My eye is twitching right now, you guys. Writing this out for you is almost like reliving the frustration.

I watched for a week as our baby gates were treated as mere decorative obstacles and left open for his 35-year-old male convenience whilst my nearly 2-year-old eyeballed the staircase with Olympic-gymnast-enthusiasm.

I tell you this not to be a tattletale, not to open myself up to criticism regarding my rigidity, not to hurt feelings, but to understand myself better because I didn’t handle it well you guys. I did not.

You see, I couldn’t stop him, I couldn’t clean fast enough. The mess was OUT OF CONTROL! Dirt, stains, odor… CHAOS!

I set boundaries and I believed that manners were/are self-evident. I believed baby-proofing, dining tables, and towel hooks should invite use. I expected our houseguest to know all of this without having to be told. My home is not a hotel; that’s the guesthouse out back (see that blog post) and for God’s sake the total strangers renting that out treat it better (and pay us) than my B-I-L treated our actual home while we lived in it with him for a week.

And then I lost it.

At him. On him.

I freaked the fuck out.

And I told him that towel hooks are for wet towels to be HUNG ON and baby gates are not for the convenience of adults to use at will, but to protect the life of a BABY, and that knives & razorblades & sharp jagged beer bottle caps are DEADLY WHEN SWALLOWED and that it is MY HOUSE and he should TREAT IT WITH RESPECT.

Silence.

Slowly he opened his mouth and without an ounce of thought he yelled back. Absurdities such as, ‘he didn’t know that it would require work to live with a baby’ and that ‘he didn’t know that toddlers cannot comprehend basic safety.’

The irony.

So I banished him to his (my son’s) room where he screamed and threatened to leave (on the eve of his flight home).

I agreed he should leave. A hotel is a much better place to treat with reckless abandon.

He said nothing.

He didn’t leave.

And after an hour of separation and a loaded dishwasher and cleaned counters later, I invited him to come back downstairs.

He picked up where he left off – sullying every square foot of surface area I had just spent a very angry hour cleaning to regain the control I had lost.

That one cleaning left me with a night’s worth of control, and I felt better long enough to wish him well on his flight, take a family picture with genuine smiles, and not resent the weekend-visit-turned-into-9-long-days.

My house is not completely back in order by my standards, but it is back in my control and I can sleep more soundly tonight.

And those dark chocolate covered almonds are now out in the open for everyone to share, by everyone I mean new visitors and Jason.