The ‘T’ Word

Taxes.

Taxes, dude; I’m so afraid of taxes.

This morning, I walk out into the living room and Andrew’s like, ‘yay, I’m done with my taxes!’ I literally didn’t even know what to say. How are you already done with your taxes? Then as time went on, he’d get email confirmations that his state and federal taxes had been accepted.

WHAT.

It’s like, February 2nd. How.

My fear comes from the fact that I’ve never been able to do my own taxes. I grew up with and still have a trust fund that my grandparents graciously set up for me, and between my aunt in Pennsylvania being the trustee for so long and the apparent complication of processing things like the K1, there’s just no fucking way I’d get everything right.

I know the trust is a blessing, but it’s also a curse in some ways. One very obvious way today is that I’m taxes-ignorant. In the strongest sense.

I moved to Minnesota in the middle of last year, so now I’m freaking out about what I’ll have to do between Nebraska taxes and Minnesota taxes. I’m still technically unemployed, depleting my trust for ‘income,’ and I sold a bit of AdvoCare via independent contracting. Just what the actual fuck do I do now?

Oh, how I wish I could just fill out forms online, hit ‘submit,’ and watch for my refund check. But I can’t.

I guess in many ways, it’s a good problem to have. I just worry that it’s something I’ll never learn how to do. Or even remotely understand.

I started reading through this Minnesota Renters’ Refund form that I got from my landlord. It said I needed this M1PR form. I got on the website and found that form, which told me if I was a partial resident last year, I’d also need the M1NR form. I found that, and it said I’d have to enter information from the M1 form and the federal return. *head explodes*

I just want to be gainfully employed and stay in the same place and- oh God, can I even use my Nebraska tax guy for my Minnesota taxes? Is that a stupid question?

The fact is, I don’t know. Bloody anything. And it’s forcefully-learned helplessness.

A Year Ago

A Year Ago

A year ago, today, my life was turned upside down.

I had just watched my mom get remarried after having been with my dad for 25 years. I was driving over to see my dad around 930pm. His driveway butts up to a busy street on which I had been rear-ended badly not six months earlier, so I drove a half-block past his house to make a left turn onto a side street and then turn around.

I was slowing and downshifting to make the left turn from the center turning lane when I heard loud, screeching tires. I had no idea where they were coming from until I was slammed into head-on.

When I opened my eyes again, I was facing oncoming traffic three lanes over on the other side of the street. My horn was blaring. I had glass and airbag dust in my mouth and nose, and the smell of gunpowder was overwhelming. I had to get out. My driver’s door wouldn’t open and I panicked. I started to roll down the window, ready to crawl out if necessary. Then I took a breath, climbed over my gearshift and got out the passenger side.

I stood by my dear, demolished MINI Cooper and saw a man walking toward me from his vehicle, now stalled in someone’s yard just beyond my car.

He got very close to me and I saw blood running down his face. He asked if I was okay. I said, no. He walked away and got back in his vehicle.

The neighbor whose evening we’d disturbed was now outside; she followed the man back to his car and then came over to see if I was okay.

“Did you smell the alcohol on his breath?” No, I can’t smell anything but gunpowder, still. “I called the ambulance.” Thank you.

She started walking back behind his vehicle and I stopped her. He’s gonna back up! I shouted. Instead, he drove forward through the yard and down the street, away from the accident. Away from me. And this.

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It was then that I realized I was dripping blood onto this woman’s driveway. It was coming from my left hand. I was also spitting it out with the powder and glass that refused to get out of my mouth.

A couple passersby had stopped at this point. I had started to walk the two houses to my dad’s house when I decided against it. I asked one of the men who stopped if I could borrow his mobile phone because mine was somewhere in my car.
I called my dad, do you hear the horn? “What?” Can’t you hear the horn blaring outside? I’ve been in an accident!

I was mad. I was frustrated. I was in shock.

People kept trying to get me to sit down. I had specks of sparkling glass coating my arms, my face, my clothes. I had blood droplets on my jeans. My new jeans. Go figure.

The police, fire engine, and ambulance arrived. I asked a fireman to retrieve my phone, another to turn off my damn horn. I remember thinking to myself to be very polite and call them ‘sir,’ the policemen ‘officer.’

In the ambulance, the paramedic was heartbreakingly gentle as he wiped the glass from my arms and feet with a wet paper towel while I called my mom, just a few hours into her honeymoon. She frantically asked if she should come home and I told her no, I was alright; I’d be alright. She really wanted to come home, but I wouldn’t let her.

After the phone call, the paramedic told me that I had a great attitude, considering.

They took me to the hospital where I had x-rays on my hands, chest, torso, knees, and feet. My chest took the blow from the airbag and seatbelt, my left hand had a laceration on the middle finger from the broken windshield and the heel of my right hand had a contusion from the gear shift and imbedded glass; my knees hit the dashboard and my feet had been depressing the clutch and the brake. My right foot was the worst with horrible swelling, contusions, and two fractured toes. I couldn’t walk.

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I got stitches on my middle finger, which I quickly called Frankenfinger. I got a prescription for pain meds. Then I quickly got a sense of my physical pain and mental trauma.

Getting into dad’s truck wasn’t very fun, but the drive home might have been worse. I wouldn’t let him turn right on red in an intersection. I wanted him to go about 10mph under the speed limit. I gripped the door handle so tight, my knuckles were white. Suddenly, I was afraid to be in a vehicle.

Then it wasn’t just being in a vehicle that scared me. It was not being able to walk. It was my heart stopping when I heard screeching tires or a horn outside my apartment. It was checking the lock on my door three times before bed, knowing I wouldn’t be able to fight back or defend myself if someone were to break in because I was already hurt. It was needing everyone to text me when they made it somewhere, saying ‘drive safe’ like it was a desperate plea, not just a suggestion. I was sure everyone I knew and loved was going to be in a car accident. It was being so angry. So. angry. Seeing my car at the impound was… an experience. Now it was in broad daylight.

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A year later, I still have anxiety: I worry about my boyfriend driving to and from work, I worry about him crossing the street to take the dog out at night. I don’t trust anyone on the road. I never drove on dad’s street again. I still don’t like hearing screeching tires or horns. Every time I come to a light, I have to keep myself from watching the rear-view mirror. I’m constantly ready for evasive maneuvers. I finally had to accept the fact that if I’m meant to die in my car, I’m meant to die in my car. I could have died that night, but I didn’t. I walked away. I lived, and now I’m living. I owe all thanks to God and my MINI, my dear British Chap who sacrificed himself for me.

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I’ve got a new MINI now. I call him Richard. I’m living with my wonderful boyfriend, the man I was lucky enough to live to meet. We moved up to Saint Paul and got the cutest puppy in the world, Olive Adventure. I’m still seeing a chiropractor for my neck and back, my fractured toes still give me trouble every now and then when I run or exercise. I can’t do much on my knees. My chest bones pop occasionally. And I’ve still got my Frankenfinger.

As for the driver, well, he got a bit of punishment after sobering up in jail that night.

I wonder if he’ll think about me today around 930pm.

He’ll be thinking about me soon enough when I start recouping damages.

What Is Life

Almost a month ago, I spent my last night in Omaha.

Most of my things were moved already, and all that remained were a few odds and ends, and my furniture.

The morning of the big move, I was seriously anxious. What was going to go wrong? What was going to get broken? What if this happens? What if that happens? I was also very emotional, even though I tried my hardest not to be.

My parents showed up to say goodbye; mom was a bit weepy and, of course, my dad says the things I always need to hear: I am worthy, I deserve everything I want, I can do anything I want to do, and I am loved. So, there went the tears. My brother showed up a bit later and stayed with me until just before I hit the road. He helped calm me down and let me know on his way out how well the moving truck was being packed. Phew.

The drive up here went by quickly and slowly at the same time. I got caught in five o’clock traffic just two miles from my exit and I was absolutely livid. I just wanted to be there!

That evening, and the week after, are a total blur of unpacking, buying shelving units and other fun IKEA things, building said things, hanging photos, organizing the kitchen, organizing the closets, etc. Oh, and sleeping poorly because one huge window in our bedroom was missing blinds. Waking with the sun every morning, regardless of when I went to sleep the night before, was aggravating as hell. And didn’t really restore me for a new day of work.

By the next week, we were already looking at puppies to adopt. I got Andrew caught up in the search and essentially all of our texts consisted of puppy photos all day. We knew we wanted a bigger dog and we wanted to adopt a rescue. In looking at the adoption process, I got discouraged. An application, an interview, references, a meeting, a home visit?! Jesus Christ, are we adopting a child? Applying for a government job? I had no idea it was so thorough and difficult. I understood and completely support the method behind the madness, but for those of us normal, decent human beings who aren’t going to chain the dog up outside 24/7… ugh.

We ended up applying for a dog that we totally fell in love with and then got denied because another couple was ahead of us in the process. Then we applied for a couple more and the same thing happened. At this point, I’m going, Jesus Christ, I’d almost rather pay double to just get one from a pet shop. But instead, we applied for a few more.

Finally (I say, finally; it was probably like, within a couple days), we got invited to go meet one of the puppies. He was adorable and cuddly and I think Andrew was pretty goddamn set on him. We fell asleep that night discussing ridiculous names, such as: Sterling The University of Nebraska Cornhuskers versus The University of Iowa Hawkeyes… [last name].

We communicated to the foster mom and the lady from the shelter that we indeed wanted this little pup… and then we never heard anything from the shelter.

Then, in true things-happen-for-a-reason fashion, the day I was bitching about the lack of communication and consideration, I got a call from another foster mom about another puppy we’d applied for. Apparently the people who wanted her were having trouble coming up with the adoption fee (red flag, much?), so if we want her, she’s ours.

I think this was a Wednesday. We set up a meeting for Friday, we filmed a home video (in lieu of a home visit) Thursday, we drove an hour to meet her Friday, and that night, we brought her home.

Meet Olive Adventure (and insert heart-eyes emoji):
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She’s a (now) nine-week old Shepherd Mix. We aren’t sure what she’s mixed with, but we’re pretty sure that it’s a wirehair of some kind. She’s a joy and a laugh and a little shit and a snuggler and a whiner and so sociable and sweet. She’s super outgoing; she’ll go up to anyone and any dog. She wants to play with everyone. She doesn’t like being hot and will whine (kinda like me) and she has recently started fording the stream in the park across the street.
Olive in the stream

Andrew and I are now ‘daddy’ and ‘mommy’ and we’re just totally in love. (Cue: ‘awww’)

We’ve had her a week and a half now and, well, she’s exhausting. ‘Daddy’ is at work five days a week, so ‘mommy’ has to do the most potty breaks and cleaning up accidents and trying to get her to stop biting or chewing on absolutely everything. Not to mention, she’s up with Andrew when he gets up for work (somewhere in the neighborhood of 6am). So yeah, I’m getting a spa afternoon on Thursday lol

Adding to the frustration, I’m getting paranoid about my dwindling savings, so I’ve resumed the job hunt… again. I’m being fairly goddamn picky because I just am, but I want it to be within walking distance (which isn’t a huge ask, seeing as we’re downtown), part-time so I can be home with bb most of the time, and not a receptionist or food service job. Actually, what I’d really like to do is some writing from home. If only I could get myself to finish that ‘novel’ I started.

I’ve also resumed the fitness journey. Buzzfeed posted that circuit workout a couple weeks ago and I’m on the third week today. You’re supposed to up the weight each week; I started with 10lb dumbbells. Because the tiny rec in my building didn’t have 12s, I had to go straight to 15s… And to be consistent, I need to use 20s tonight. I’m a tad nervous I won’t be able to do it all, because I also have to up the reps by two. I don’t know how much physical change I’ll see in two more weeks, and I haven’t weighed myself because fuck the scale, but who knows. I’ll prob just keep going with it and eventually be curling 50s LOL

Anyway, I love Saint Paul. I keep saying it’s like Omaha and London had a baby because it really does feel like home and the city I adore. Our apartment is brilliantly located a block from the train and ten meters from the park, a few blocks from the river and a half-mile from Starbucks (win). There are a bunch of microbreweries and awesome restaurants within walking distance and anything else is on the trainline. I probably came up here with 6100 miles on my car, and I noticed the odometer read 6171 today. So, about seventy miles in almost a month? Not fucking bad.

The only driving I do now is to the chiropractor, which is still only about seven miles away. It’s a different technique than I was getting in Omaha, but apparently, this is the next step in my treatment that makes the most sense. Here’s to hoping I get back to 100% after a couple months of this. I got really emotional when I had my consultation with the new bonebreak. It just dredges up all of the accident memories and memories of all the pain. It’s almost been a year and I’m still dealing with everything. Thank God for Andrew, seriously. What a loving, caring, thoughtful support system I have. I’m embarrassingly lucky to have him. And my family, holy shit.

Tell me, what is my life without your love? Tell me, who am I without you by my side?

Stress is like Punching Someone through Molasses

Last night, I dreamt that it was the day of my best friend’s wedding and my other best friend, a fellow bridesmaid, reminded me that we’d not yet bought our dresses. For the wedding. That day. She goes, “Let’s just run to Target really quick.”

On our way through the parking garage (wherever we were), I stopped at my car to get something, and these five or six young guys started toward me. I thought about trying to hide behind the car, but figured they’d find me anyway, so I just sort of faced them. Two of them had ballpoint pens aimed at me like weapons and the others were unarmed, but still circling around me and being threatening.

I decided I needed to come out swinging, literally, and brought my arm back to land a punch on one of the punks.

As per usual, as per every single dream where I’ve tried to fight someone, my fist took about thirty seconds to reach the kid’s face. I don’t know what that is in miles-per-hour or force or whatever, but it’s pretty goddamn slow and pretty goddamn weak. Ineffective, to say the least.

It didn’t matter whether I threw a punch with my left or right, neither of them would do any good. Or any harm, I should say.

Kicks were the same way.

I even got the pens away from the losers at one point and were attempting to stab them. Nothing. Probably didn’t even leave an ink mark on their shirts.

Not only is this frightening, but it’s stressful. And it arouses many questions. Why can’t I defend myself? If I don’t defend myself, I’m going to get hurt. I don’t want to get hurt. Why am I so weak?

Every. single. dream. involving a fight.

And usually, I have these dreams when I’m anxious about something. So the fact that I can’t defend myself or I’m too weak to inflict any harm on someone who is trying to harm me doesn’t really help with my anxiety or stress.

I’m sure I could make some claim about how I’m feeling helpless IRL so it’s translating into the dream. It’s just cyclical. Like, it’s bothered me all goddamn day.

I’m feeling anxious and stressed out and helpless and fearful because of the drunk’s upcoming hearing on Thursday. I won’t even be doing anything; I don’t even have to go, technically. I just want to go so that I can hear him plead and hear his fate. I don’t even think he’ll receive sentencing; who knows. I just can’t not go. I can’t sit at home and wait to hear what’s next. That’s all I’ve fucking been able to do since this accident. Sit at home, receive bills, send emails, see doctors, make phone calls to hospitals/insurance/bill collectors. It’s been truly maddening.

I just want it all to be over. I want my medical bills paid, I want to be healed and healthy again, I want to wake up and not wonder who or what related to the case I’ll have to deal with that day.

I know complaining makes little-to-no sense. If I had chosen this, I wouldn’t be able to complain; this is just something that happened, so I shouldn’t complain. The thing is, though, that it’s something that shouldn’t have happened. Something that didn’t need to happen.

This has been the longest slow-motion punch and I desperately need it to make contact and inflict damage. For once.

Heartache, Hope, and Headache

Lord have mercy.

When life changes, it certainly changes. Back in early November, I matched with someone on Tinder. I know. Tinder. Gag. I’d matched with a few people before, met with one, nothing worked out. I decided to delete the app and start over with it. I wasn’t sure what that was going to accomplish, but I digress.

I swiped right on a few guys and then came across this guy named Andrew. His instagram was in his bio, so I creeped. I really appreciated being able to do that because I got a sense of his personality and humor. He seemed sarcastic and into puns, quite like myself. Then I accidentally double-tapped one of his photos. Fuck.

Now, I could have unliked it, deleted tinder, and crawled under a rock, but that would have been a ridiculous overreaction. I went back into the tinder app and swiped right.

Shortly thereafter, he swiped right for me, creating a match. Ta-da.

I decided to be brave and send the first message. His bio said something about dad jokes, of which I am a master, so I messaged him some dumb comment about the aforementioned. It took a day or so (cue me biting my nails) and then he responded.

Within a very short time, he’d impressed the pants off of me. Well, okay, conversationally, anyway. We had several things in common, he seemed very gentlemanly and genuine – even over a tinder chat. He ended up asking for my number.

We texted a bit every day – good conversation, no small talk. Then a couple days later, I got a not-so-great message.

My mom called me and said that my Nana had taken a turn for the worse and likely had about two-to-three weeks left. She’d just been given her Last Rites since it’s getting to be about that time. I’d wavered on whether or not I wanted to go see her one last time. She’d had Alzheimer’s for years now and looked right through me when I saw her last Christmas. Selfishly, it wasn’t something I wanted to go through again.

Then Friday, 14th of November, mom called in the afternoon to say that Nana’s prognosis had moved from two-to-three weeks to two-to-three days. I wavered again about whether to run down to the home and see her, but the thought seeing her in her current state just about paralyzed me. She wouldn’t recognize me, she’s probably in pain, she’s sleeping anyway, etc. I decided to stay home, but I would talk to my brother about potentially going to see her the next day.

That visit never came, because around 11pm that night, mom’s name showed up on my phone. I knew right away what had happened, and my instincts were confirmed when she said, “this is the call.”

My beloved Nana had died. Those words are bitter in my mouth.

Sweet Nana is finally in Heaven and out of pain.

I needed to go for a drive.

I drove to Nana’s old house. There are new owners now and they were home, looking out the window for whatever reason, so I couldn’t stay. I wanted to sit in the driveway and look at it. I wanted to sit and imagine all the million times we walked or biked down the road to her house for frosted ginger cookies and milk. All the Halloweens we’d trick-or-treated and gotten loads of candy from her at the front door. All the Christmases we’d helped trim her tree with ancient ornaments and strands of tinsel that we got all over the floor. I wanted to imagine sitting on her dusty rose-colored couch and glanced over to her in her rocking chair – seeing her knitting a new scarf or blanket.

I wanted to get out of the car and walk around back to the garden. I wanted to picture her kneeling, in her skirt, on one of those foam knee-protectors and digging holes for new bulbs or annuals or perennials. I wanted to help pull weeds and put soil in behind the flowers she’d relocate. I wanted to say, “look, Nana!” and hear, “Isn’t that nice” in her way, where it isn’t a question, actually.

I thought about all the times we’d gone in her light blue Oldsmobile, and later her pearlescent Geo Metro, to the library. The only reason I had a library card was because of her. I thought about the walks up to Ponca, the jumping in puddles, the blowing bubbles, the reading; the painstaking time she would spend putting my hair up in curlers and wrapping a silk scarf around so I can walk home, the way she answered the phone (“erm, hello”) in her way, where it really isn’t a question, again, actually.

Nana was one of those people who I pictured having in my life until I was old and grey. She’d just always be there somehow. And now she’s gone.

When my parents first hired her, I was about six months old. She came looking slightly like a 1940s war nurse and told them that she would be addressed as Mrs Meyer. It wasn’t long before she was Nana; my Nana.

I drove back to my neighborhood that night and sat in my car for ages listening to music. I had been texting Andrew sporadically due to it being the middle of the night, the news, and the drive. I suddenly felt very strongly that I should just be honest with him about what had happened. We’d been talking such a short time and we didn’t even know each other, but I needed to see right then and there how this was going to go.

Either he would say no, we barely know each other, I don’t need this right now, I’m out with friends (he was out at the bar with friends, I knew); or he wouldn’t say any of those things. Somehow I knew he wouldn’t react like the former. And he didn’t. he said he was so sorry and he wished there was something he could do; if he wasn’t drinking, he’d drive out to see me.

We talked about sad music and how happy music doesn’t actually help when you’re sad because you can’t relate to it in the moment. He sent me a youtube link and said it always helped him. I thought, great, what is this shit going to be. I clicked on the link and as soon as the title popped up, my heart skipped a beat: Morning in May by Ludo.

No one knows Ludo. And anyone who might have heard Ludo certainly hasn’t heard the Broken Bride album. But here this stranger was, sending me the song from Broken Bride that never fails to bring me to tears.

This discovery turned into a conversation lasting until 3am, even though he had to work early. He made me smile and even laugh that night, one of the worst nights in my life. I couldn’t help but think that God had all of this planned from the start. Hell, I’m pretty sure Nana had a hand in this. If I hadn’t been texting him that night, I’d have been alone in my thoughts and feelings. Everyone else was asleep or out of town. Nana took care of that. She was a caregiver til the end.

A couple days later, Andrew and I had our first date planned. I hadn’t had those butterflies in a long time. I didn’t want to spend too much time getting ready or coming up with any speeches or whatever. I was gonna be me and that was it. Furthermore, I wanted to be myself, not ‘better.’ I finally had hope again.

The date went amazingly. I knew I was in trouble from the get-go. And the best part was that he felt the same way. He asked to see me a few days later and did I say I was in trouble? Because I was in big, fucking trouble. Wow.

I’m being quite vague, I know. I just- well, this is very precious to me.

It hasn’t yet been two months, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt happier, more comfortable, and more like myself.

And then since it can’t be all sunshine and roses, the continued car accident stress..

I’ve been seeing a chiropractor three times a week. My body was working 42% harder than it should have been. (Not sure if I ever talked about the scans). My nerves had practically shut down. It’s getting a bit better; it’s changing anyway. I had an MRI on my right foot, come to find out that I have two fractured toes. That explains a lot. I have patella baja (shortened patella) in both knees thanks to the trauma. My wrists (left much more so than right) are still weak. Some bones in my chest pop if I stretch. Oh yeah, and I’ll need to start physical therapy now that the holidays are over.

The court date for the driver-at-fault drunk to enter his plea is in a week. I wonder how the past four-almost-five months have been for him. I see, via public record, that he’s just bought a house. Can’t be going too badly then.

Meanwhile, I’m just broken. Sure, it didn’t kill me. It could have, but it didn’t. It still could, but I won’t let it. What it did was make me weaker. Angrier. Cynical. It made me scared. It made me paranoid. It has taken so much from me and continues to take more.

Meanwhile, I’m the one who’s been in prison.

Vindication (Trust Your Instincts)

The last two times I had major gut feelings about leaving the house, I ignored them and ended up getting slammed into by neglectful/drunk drivers.

This time, I listened to my instincts and stayed home. Sure, a lot of it had to do with anxiety this time, but that doesn’t change the fact that all I’ve heard of today have been slick roads, accidents, stalled vehicles, and backed-up traffic.

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Not that I felt that I needed support for my decision to cancel my appointment this morning out of fear, but it certainly seems like my fears were justified today. Which subsequently lets me feel a little less affected and a little more responsible.

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