Saturday, September 08, 2012

in the eye of the storm

Charlie's been out of town for the past several days at his niece's wedding in northern California.  Hence the reason I've been able to update my blog every day.  There's been no one to tell me, "JEN! Step away from the computer! Go put your feet up! Let me feed you some dark chocolate and tell you how lovely you are...." 

Gosh, I do miss him.

But, I've really loved writing everyday.  Writing to me is akin to working out. Some people can't stand to go a day (or more) without vigorous exercise.  And although my exercise regime has definitely improved over the past few weeks and I've actually shed 15 pounds (FIFTEEN) since my Corporate Athlete Course, exercise isn't something that I feel like I need to do very often. Writing is. My mind gets cramped and I feel like I can't function properly if I don't purge thoughts and memories.

(So keep that in mind as you read the following purged memory from this week...)

Quick background: We have two Macy's credit accounts which have laid dormant for several years. But when we bought a new couch last year (12 months, no interest), we put it on Charlie's account. And then when I went in and bought some new make-up a few months ago, I put it on my account. When my bill came in the mail, I paid it off in full.  When Charlie's bill came in the mail, I paid off a large sum (because the interest hasn't kicked in yet), but inadvertently sent it to MY account.  So I received a statement in the mail that showed I had a credit on MY account.

Immediately realizing my error, I contacted Macy's and asked that they transfer my credit balance to HIS account. Which they did. But then when I asked what his exact pay-off balance was, because I intended to pay off the account in full, they wouldn't tell me. Because I wasn't him.  And even though I had his mother's maiden name, and birthplace and social security number - and any tidbit of trivial information that might exist for my husband (first pet's name, favorite teacher) - they wouldn't give me the exact balance.  The operator on the phone was unapologetic.  So I cordially hung up because it's got to be a tough job interfacing with people and I called back again logging in under HIS account through the automated telephone system.

Keep in mind: All I Wanted Was The Pay Off Balance. 

But for some reason, the system still wouldn't give it to me when I logged in under his account and ARGH! there are very few things that instantly send my blood boiling like an uncooperative automated telephone system. I'm sure that the vast majority of the population doesn't listen to the automated prompts and push, "0" for Operator and very calmly say, "Operator" a few times before grabbing the phone with two hands in a CHOKE hold and screaming, "OPERATOR!!!" like this thing was responsible for stealing your first born.

When I finally got through to an operator, God Bless the woman's heart, she was from somewhere in India and her English wasn't so good.  And the combination of 15+ minutes I've been on the phone now trying to resolve this TINY issue, plus someone who I couldn't really understand, plus my monster list of things to accomplish before the kids come home from school did not bode well for my patience nor compassion levels. When she told me that because I wasn't Charlie, she couldn't give me his account balance information, I asked, "WHAT IF HE WAS DEAD? What if he was gone and I'm his lone survivor and I need to know his pay-off balance? WHAT THEN?" and she was totally quiet on the other end of the line, probably grabbing her, "How to Deal With Crazy People Guidebook" and trying to figure out what to tell me.   When she still wouldn't cooperate with my request, I said, "Hang on a second...." Then I dropped my voice an octave and said, "Hello. Is there a problem here? This is Mr. Charlie. I need to know my pay-off balance...." 

And the woman didn't believe me.  She told me that she'd need to contact Mr. Charlie at the number he had available on his account and I told her, "HE'S NOT AWAKE YET. He's in California and it's only 5 AM!" and then I realized I blew my own cover, so I told her, "FINE. Once I know the balance, I'll pay off his account and close them both. HARUMPF. GOODBYE MACY'S."

When I call Charlie a few hours later to tell him this story, he had the audacity to tell me, "Good God Jen, you are crazy!" And then, my husband said, "Do you have any idea how lucky you are to be married to me?"  And I lit in to him like a firecracker on the Fourth of July.


Whoa. Wait a minute. 

How many men do you know that take off for a week-long vacation (after having just returned from a 10-day vacation) to wine and dine with their friends and family at Vineyards in No. Cal while their wives are ALONE with four children AND a dog AND all the paperwork that comes from the first week of school AND a full-time job that she's still working full-time whenever she gets a spare moment AND supervising renovation activities?

In all honesty, I think it's hilarious. I am crazy.  Charlie's having a fantastic time, and I'm having an equally fantastic time home with the kids all on my own.  (Truly.)   I've been talking with my mother every single day.  If I don't call her, she calls me to inquire how I'm doing and give me a pep talk.   Tonight, just as I was about to cook dinner, I called her before she had a chance to call me. And since I'd been on the go since 9:00 in the morning with all four kids to multiple locations all around town (2.5 hours at the bathroom store picking out all new bathrooms (tubs, toilets, tiles, sinks, fixtures, etc.), Chuck E Cheese for lunch, framing store, shoe store, Kohl's, grocery store, kickball and bike riding around the neighborhood) I was feeling tired. When Mom answered the phone, she didn't recognize my voice.  When she finally figured out who it was, she gasped, "Wow, I didn't recognize you. It sounds like you've been drinking!"

And I thought, "After being on my own all week, that sounds like a splendid idea!!" 

Mom couldn't talk just then because she had a friend over, so she promised that she'd call me back. In the time that it took for me to hang up the phone and turn on the stove .... William came running in the house because Henry had hit Carolyn in the side of the face with a whiffle bat. When I ran outside to investigate and soothe the injured ... the puppy bolted out the front door and took off running freely down the street.  Seeing that there was no open wound on Carolyn - I bolted after the dog. Which made him bolt even faster.  So I may have said, "I'M GOING TO KILL THAT DOG." And the kids started to scream hysterically, "Don't kill the dog, Mommy! Please don't KILL the dog!!"

Several minutes later, the dog runs back in to the house and is hiding somewhere in the basement (that sprung another ceiling leak this week - ALWAYS happens when Charlie's gone....), Carolyn has a boo-boo bunny on her face and is feeling consoled and Henry is hiding under his bed, undoubtedly thinking, "Is she going to knock out my OTHER front tooth?!"And the smoke detector goes off because the hamburgers that I'd started to cook many minutes prior are now past the point of well-done.

Right there, in the midst of that storm, just when I thought I was going to explode, peace suddenly flowed over me like a river.  Calmly climbing up on a step stool, I turned off the smoke detector, summoned the four (moderately traumatized children) and dog - hugged them all tightly and essentially did EVERYTHING right.  Maybe it was the church service we'd attended this weekend that had me in a different mindset, or the universe was tilted just so on it's axis.  Or maybe it's the fact that I've been praying for peace and patience for so long now ....


... It's finally kicking in.