God Moved to Australia and He Did Not Take Us with Him

It is 3:30 in the afternoon on a Saturday and I am drinking a glass of champagne. I’m not celebrating anything or I’m celebrating everything. I do not know which. Earlier, I cried to no one because no one was here which is usually how I prefer to lick my wounds:  in private.  Image

Yet here I am blogging because writing for me is a release and even though blogging can often be thought of as sloppy writing – please pass the champagne – I find it therapeutic.  Plus, I know it will prevent me from having to repeat this one hundred times.

I am grateful you understand, grateful that there might be one hundred people who would actually want to hear this story, but my gratitude is waning so bear with me as I bare my soul—not really—as I bear witness to my own life (yes, that’s better).    That’s about as crisp as I can make this intro.

The Hooks Are Not Down Under

A couple of weeks ago in a moment of despair, I pounded my fists against a bare wall and screamed out, “Are you on crack?”   I was screaming at God of course because someone was pulling the strings in my life and it wasn’t me.   God was either on crack or He was in Australia or both.

My blog is late but my period is not.   It has been these small blessings that have carried me for the past four weeks, and this update is long so I’m going to give it to you straight.  Are you with me?

The Bad News:

–          Hook has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

–          We had to move out of our house with barely a week’s notice amidst doctor’s appointments because we had leased out the house in anticipation of Oz.

–          Our year and a half of planning for a year’s sabbatical in Australia is off.

–          Hook is having a hard time going cold turkey on smoking.  (If you’re thinking about not feeling bad for this man because he ‘brought it on himself,’ those are words you never want to say to me or even hint at.)

–          I am angry all the time.   It’s like I’m in an endless week three of my cycle where I vacillate between manic happy and manic sad.

The Good News:

–          Hook’s cancer is not stage four. Someone asked if it was stage two or three, and I said, “I don’t know.  I only know the oncologist kept saying ‘It’s not stage 4’.”   Apparently stage four equals quick death. Instead the oncologist and the surgeon, who seemed to welcome Hook into their sciency brotherhood with a medical Q&A I wasn’t able to follow, believe they can kill/shrink/remove the mass and send us on our way … to Australia … maybe in a year.

–          Hook’s university pushed out his sabbatical and pulled him back in for the academic year.  (Translation: They did not make him waste his year of sabbatical while getting chemotherapy and radiation treatments. This is a very, big deal.)

–          Qantas, oh Qantas, how do I love thee.  Qantas, those wonderful, odd-sounding Aussies refunded our $3,599 airfare 100%.   One hundred percent!  They didn’t even take a change fee.  The Qantas lady, that beautiful strange-sounding Sheila, had this extra-sensory perception thing where she could tell I wasn’t making up our horrible turn of events.  God bless that woman.

–          Hook has been prescribed medicinal marijuana.  Just kidding.  Wouldn’t that have been cool?  We could have sold it on the streets in our new neighborhood, which would have fit right in with the meth lab I’m convinced is in operation next door and with our neighbor-no-more who was arrested two days after we moved in.  Hook said, “Good morning babe.  The police arrested the neighbor across the street this morning.  They walked her out in handcuffs around seven am.”   I looked at him with sleepy eyes and replied, “Hmm, is the coffee fresh?”  We are sleeping in our own bed again and we only live ten minutes from where Hook will get his treatments for the next three to four months.  It’s the little things that matter now.

–          A literary agent asked for 50 pages of one of my manuscripts.  More on this in the next blog.

So it sounds like the Good News outweighs the Bad News, right?  Yes.  So then where does God on crack come in?

God on Crack

We hired a local property management company for our two properties assuming we would be out of the country of course.  The irony that Hook and I own two homes but had no place to live did not escape either of us.  But we had signed a management contract and we meant to honor that contract even after we had received the diagnosis of Hook’s biopsy.  The list of how the property management company screwed up is too long to share.  I would type their company name here but I’m afraid if I see itImage again in print, my head might actually explode from all the venom built up inside.  I’m like that horse in Young Frankenstein. Every time I have to say the name of the company or Hook says the name, words of a dark nature start to spew from my lips and they come so fast I can’t even enunciate so that it just sounds like I’m gurgling and Hook has to walk over to me and rub my back and soothe me with words, “It’s okay babe. It’s okay.”

They lied about when the tenants signed the lease.  They lied about whether we had any say in who moved in.  They lied about when the tenants were going to move in.   And get this, the tenants still haven’t moved in yet and we haven’t even been paid our June rents as of today, June 30th, even though the company received both rents on June 1st.   What this all means is that we never had to move out, only to put our stuff in storage for two weeks, only to call the moving company a second time in less than a month to move us again, only to find ourselves living out of suitcases, driving back and forth from north to south for almost daily doctors’ appointments.  I’m hysterical just writing this.

Crack, remember?

A simple, “We’re sorry, we screwed up,” would have gone a long way with me, but instead the company tried to explain their way out of it.  You know how it goes, when you tell a lie then you have to tell another one to cover up the first one, then you start to lose track of what you told and to whom, and pretty soon all that ever comes out of your mouth is a lie even when you don’t have to lie, even when the truth would actually be better.

Crack. Cocaine.  Please, somebody buy me a margarita and don’t be stingy with the Don Julio either.

And In the Present Moment

Yes, Hook is doing chemo now although right at this moment, he is likely fishing or collecting bugs in Port Aransas which is where I sent him for a long weekend so he could relax and have some much-needed Hook time.  I’ve been doing my best to avoid most of the public, only attending the most basic of events or those things that don’t require me to speak or to think or that allow me to be somewhere else in my head for a short while.   Mostly, I’ve been avoiding people I know because I don’t want to hear or say the word “cancer” except sometimes I blurt out the story like a tourettes patient to someone I run into who doesn’t already know.

I actually hate the sound of it: Cancer.  Why couldn’t they have called it cake or candy or curtains?  Why does it have to be called cancer?   “Hook has cake! Hook has candy!”  Doesn’t that sound much better?

I don’t want to see little brochures that read ‘Fight Cancer’ or to hear people say, “You’re going to beat this thing.”  It’s not a war, cancer is not a person.  I don’t even know what it is except this incredibly scary, uncontrollable thing that seems to be running our lives right now.   I hate it.

Yes, I am losing my mind.  No, I have not upped my alcohol intake except for today, and that’s only because it’s a Saturday and I have emptied the last of the last of the moving boxes and I deserve a toast.   Here’s to me, damn it.

And here’s to my husband – that kind, funny, ornery, obscene man I fell in love with four years ago.  He deserves a more patient wife, a stronger woman who would know how to manage the uproar better.

Next Blog:   Hook Quits Smoking for Good.  Or, Man’s Anus Stuffed with Cigarettes, Found in Alleyway.

Remember, God is in Australia, possibly on crack.   It’s just me and the champagne.

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Technology and Tenants

I left my day job at the end of April to go full-time with my own business which meant I needed to buy a PC for my home office.   We had a mini Lenovo laptop I could use but I needed a magnifying glass to see the screen.  A mini is what you use when you’re desperate.  It’s the processed burger you give a starving person and tell them it’s a steak and they believe you.   I actually thought I could take my time to find a suitable laptop replacement, but I didn’t last 24 hours before I started to hit the electronics stores.  Hook and I went laptop shopping and buying, then returning, then shopping some more, then re-purchasing and re-agonizing, etc.

After three weeks of living off the mini, we returned to Best Buy a third time (okay, I went a third time, Hook refused to go after the second visit) and this was even after negotiations with a Fry’s guy who tried to do his best tech talk by throwing around motherboard acronyms like we were at a geek rally.   At Best Buy, I bought the laptop I’d wanted on Day 1 of the shopping-torture extravaganza:  a 17” Toshiba Satellite.   Yes, that’s a big screen.  Mama likes it big.

Best Buy won out because they have a 30-day return option, no restocking fee if I did return, and they threw in complimentary applications for Norton antivirus and Office 2010 which didn’t require mailing off old school paperwork for a rebate check.  Plus, the Best Buy guys were really nice to me.  That didn’t try to woo me with tech talk like the Fry’s guys.  I’m a girl who has done her time in the tech sector so save it for the soccer moms, boys.

Besides, I tried to explain to the Fry’s guy that we didn’t have time for no stinkin’ rebates.  The Hooks will be in Australia, dude!

And, I’ve learned my lesson for future PC/laptops:  never ever, ever, EVER choose a laptop based solely on color or do but make sure you like the keyboard and the touch pad thingy.  You’re going to be banging on both of them a lot, and for me personally, I didn’t want to be stuck 10,000 miles away in a foreign country (even if they do speak English in Oz) wishing I had made a smarter purchase.

So that’s the technology part, here’s the tenant piece:

I feel as though every other hour, I’m being chased out of my own home.  It’s not true of course, except that each time a new couple or a new family or a new group of future drunk 20 to 30-somethings show up to see South Center, I feel compelled to leave so would be renters feel at ease walking through the house.

“Take your time.  I’ll just go for a walk.”  I reassure each realtor that shows up.

Hook thinks I’m crazy to leave, and he’s convinced that if it were him working from home instead of me, no way would he leave.  But I get out as much for the prospects as I do for myself.  I’ve no desire to watch someone walk through my home, opening up closed doors, looking into our pantry to see how large or too small it is.  Not to mention the endless questions that often come when visitors think I’m a tenant, too.

“So do you like it here?”  One prospect asked as I tried to slide out the front door just as she and the realtor were entering.

“Yes, we like our home.”  My dead shark eyes stare straight into hers as I respond.  I’ve no interest in exchanging conversation.  I just want them to let me leave so that they can look around in peace and then I can return when they are gone.  Look and leave.  No conversation.

“Oh, you’re the owner.”   She murmured and at this revelation her husband / partner / 12 midnight lover perked up.

“So, is it safe?”

“Is it safe?  Yes, it’s safe.”  I said then immediately remembered our robbery just last Christmas, and since I consider myself an honest person, I couldn’t help but add,

“But you probably want to check with the City of Austin on crime rates in the area if that’s a concern for you.”

I now have my hand on the doorknob because I know that if I don’t GET OUT NOW, this couple will keep me trapped, asking questions, demanding information I may or may not have.   One of the reasons we hired a management company in the first place was so that we wouldn’t have to interact with people, answer their questions, make stuff up.  That’s what realtors are for.

The husband spoke up again, “We have a 3-year old.”

“Oh,” I shrug my shoulders.  “We don’t have any kids.”  And that’s the end of that conversation because we are from different worlds.  They are from kid world and we are from non-kid world and these two worlds should only meet when drinks are flowing and the booze is free.

“Oops, almost forgot the most important thing,” I said as I rushed back to the dining room table, grabbed my new Toshiba and ran out the front door.

“Again, take your time going through the house and if you have any questions, please call the realtor.”

If I’m going to have tenants, I’m going to need my technology be it Austin or Australia.    Bring on the Oz.

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