Monday, December 15, 2014

Attention All Drama Addicts... FIRE!

I woke up late one day. I had been up until 4:30 am, thanks to an over-consumption of Nespresso coffee earlier that day. There was nothing I could do about the sleeplessness except read more fiction. I fell asleep eventually, but took my time waking up. It was about 9-930 am when I awoke. I have a prayer group that meets on Tuesdays at 9:30 so I scrambled to head out the door.

The doorbell rang about 9:30 am or so. I didn't bother to answer it because it's usually UPS who dings and dashes.

I made a cup of Nespresso coffee. Strolling over to my kitchen window as I do each and every morning, I saw a few tiny flames coming out of my garage window. I blinked several times because fire + garage + my life dost not equal reality.


I rubbed my eyes.

It was definitely a fire. My garage was definitely on fire.

Was it the firewood we had delivered yesterday? I panicked. Crap!

I kicked it into high gear and ran downstairs to see if my neighbor was home and OK. Perhaps she had began a new casual morning ritual in the garage, equipped with a fire, a lavender reed diffuser, Bailey's & Coffee, and a foot rest. I mean, one never knows in these parts. I hoped I was right.

I remembered then that the door-bell-ringer and my neighbor were talking around 9:30. Maybe he was in on the new ritual.

She did not answer her door. The fire was still going and it seemed to be limited to the garage. My home was not on fire, not that I checked everywhere. Back upstairs.

I called 911 and watched my garage burn as the 911 operator slowly asked questions.

It was now 9:58 am. I was pretty calm, but I was told, Calm down Ma'am. Seriously. Maybe she didn't hear me. I repeated: Garage on fire. 10 feet away. Hurry! Hurry! It's spreading quickly. My new truck is stuck in the garage. Fall leaves everywhere. Old dry wood falling apart, blow it down with a good huff, garage. I wasn't the first person to call 911. Firemen under way.

Then started taking video like any good voyeuristic gawker would do . I wasn't thinking this would be on youtube, or handed over as evidence. I wasn't expecting to be thanked profusely for the video by the three separate fire inspectors and two insurance investigators who all came to the same conclusion based on my video: possibly arson.

I took video because I thought Oliver would think it was cool.

And yes, I said arson. But let me back up.

Apparently the door-bell-ringer was the recyclable man. He had seen smoke coming from behind our house but did not carry a cell phone. He normally comes at 3pm, but thank goodness for the new sub shop around the corner. He restructured his route so he could grab lunch that day. He had rang our door bells and my downstairs neighbor was smart enough to answer. (By the way, her name is Amy.)

Six minutes had passed from the time I called 911 to the arrival of the fire department. In that short amount of time the fire went from tiny to monstrous. The flames had engulfed the interior. I wanted to run down and save my truck from melting because it appeared the fire was only on one side, the side away from my FJ Cruiser.

But I didn't want to brave the fire, plus I really wanted to keep taking video for Oliver! I stayed in the comfort of my back porch where these videos (more below) were taken from. It was cozy-warm up there. The fire was hot. The smoke intense. None of it came in my direction. And besides, I was wrong. The fire was too hot and there would have been no way for me to enter the garage to pull my vehicle out safely.

Immediately I texted my prayer group. I couldn't find words. Just: Garage on fire. PRAY! 

Next the home owner. I was dreading this text. One year earlier, 13 months to the date actually, the house had a large fire. One elderly woman died. The house was empty for an entire year while a restoration company worked diligently to restore it. And I love the woman who owns this house. Remember her? (See item #4 if you click that link.)

My text to her included the photo below and the word: FIRE! I'm sure she appreciated my brevity.

What I can share with you about this experience is twofold:
  1. This is nothing. Absolutely nothing. On a scale of 1-10 this is a one. After what I'd been through in July, August, September, this is a cake-walk, a walk in the park, piece of cake, a fly on my window sill. You get the idea.
  2. It got my mind off what-the-fuck-whats-his-name, asshole.

And in this video, you can hear the fire engines on their way.

It was such a crazy moment in time. The texts started rolling in. I live in a small community. I love that! The moms with whom I am friends texted me because they saw my block was closed off and heard the sirens. Everyone wanted to know if I was OK.

These are the same moms who threw an unpacking party for me. Later that night they chipped in and gave me a Target gift card so I could replace the car seats immediately. I'm so lucky.

And so is Oliver. We live is a small town. The fire department responded immediately. They put out the fire in no time. Everyone is kind and friendly. Sure there is crime. Sure there are jerks (I haven't told you about the old man who lives across the street from me who used the F word!). Banks are robbed. People argue and fight. We are not in Stepford. But it's quaint and lovely and small and no two homes look exactly alike. Women are fashionable and live in high-priced homes, married to surgeons, attorneys, doctors, businessmen; but the women here are friendly and kind. They may dress well, but they are not snobs.

OK, now for the scary part.


They have no clue who may have started it. They have their guesses. They have one lead.

I haven't heard anything since.

I was asked if I had any enemies. I contemplated that thought for a few days.

I think not.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

If You Take Contrary Actions, Maybe Life Will Look Differently

This year I wanted to cut down a tree but money is a bit tight. And so is my strength! It's a lot of work to traipse around a tree farm with hundreds upon hundreds of trees to choose from. (It depends upon on the year actually; last year there was a shortage of trees due to a drought.) Acting like I know how to wield a saw and maneuver around timber with enough confidence to impress a young boy is not easy. Those saws are sharp. The ground is muddy and wet. I wear expensive jackets and boots. My hair falls into my eyes. I have fashion gloves on. Last year I sawed one down, but this year I was dreaming of how much money I could save and how easy it would be to point a finger to a 16-year old shop clerk and say, “That one please.”

Alas, guilt wrapped its ugly claws around my heart. My son begged me to saw one down.

This year we found a lovely tree farm. I have never seen such a sight. It was incredible.

This farm did not have gravel roads between the fields so we hoofed it. Unfortunately most trees were pretty short and were of a spruce variety. I swore after being poked and pricked when decorating last year's tree that I would NOT be getting a spruce this year. There was even a species of spruce that was less spiky, but those jabs last year were pervading my memories.


The only Fraser Fir (softer needles) on the farm was about 6 inches too short. I really wanted a tree taller than me.


We settled instead on a mini tree for Oliver's room, something we've done for the last couple years. It was super cute, just his height, teeny tiny and 1/2 the price of the mini trees I've been getting him each year. It was a good compromise. He was able to get a fresh tree, and I was able to run to the local garden center the next day.


Turns out, the little tree is actually quite big! It will take up half of his room, so I've been thinking of an alternative spot for it.

 *  *  *  *  *

In other parts of the world, Oliver tends to settle in front of the fire, after his bath, with his naked self finishing up his reading for the day.

We played with our food.

And I am able to fit into my one-arm dress again. 

I had a GNO with my good friend Angie. We went to a fancy-shmancy restaurant. How very NYC of us. I had a glass of Caymus wine... oo-la-la (the bottle alone retails for $100). I've never had a full glass with that expensive of a wine before. I had my beautiful Cole Haan boots on too. They have 4-inch heels but the foot beds are made with Nike Air and they are super easy to walk in, not to mention comfortable. They cost nearly $600 but set me back only $75. I felt like a million bucks. We only had wine and apps, but it was a ton of fun.

Angie and me

Tuesday my garage started on fire. Yep. Fire. Burning wood fire call 911 oh my God holy smokes unbelievable incredible wow fire hurry hurry hurry!

We are OK. No one was hurt. Except for my truck.

I will write a separate post on that. But here's a glimpse:

Oh my dear RP readers, do not fret. After what I went thru in July, August and September (and parts of October and November) THIS IS NOTHING! THIS IS A CAKE WALK!

On a scale of 1 - 10, this is a one with the aforementioned months being 9 and 10.

The photo above is approximately 1 to 2 minutes after I discovered the fire. When I first discovered it, there were sweet, cute flames on the bottom of that window. No smoke. Nothing. In a short minute or two, the garage fire was out of control. It took the good men of the Shorewood Fire Department only 20 minutes to put it out. In that time, this garage was toast as was my truck.

Ok, this is not the point of my post today, altho I know y'all will be commenting on the fire. Hold off. Tomorrow there will be a post complete with video. Surreal, I know.

Here's the thing I wanted to share today. Ready?

I had a week. Not a week from hell by any means. An easy week. An amazing week. I started feeling better again. I hadn't felt this good since I had that ONE week a while back where I was feeling so over my ex-boyfriend.

I was nearly ready to dump everything he ever gave me out. Change my email, my phone number, and let go of all the gifts, sweet emails, texts and pictures.

Friday I did some journal and sharing.

And then I tanked.




I thought I was moving on but I guess there were some things tucked away.

And that's OK.

It's part of the process.

Friday night, Saturday all day, and so far all of today has been filled with hurt that I felt in the beginning. I don't know if it's a back slide or just figuring some things out. Maybe a little of both.

But... as always, as always....

Contrary actions.

Read. Write. Go to a friend's party (a safe place where there is love, kindness and honest fun). Sleep over. Pick up a tree for our home as promised to Oliver (and being OK with not cutting one down this year). And I found a BEAUTIFUL tree! It's gorgeous! And affordable! Stop at TJ Maxx and pick up a few new decorations. Lovely. Bring the tree up.

Before I knew it, I was smiling.

I can't let shit get me down. I can't let my mistakes and poor choices bring me down. Forgiveness is key, forgiving myself. I forgave Bill long before I ever even got angry with him. The contrast to that is I need to get real. I forgave because I still loved him and thought well of him, didn't accept what he had done or what he was. And getting honest with who he is and what he did is contrary. Seeing how I am / have been reacting is a reality check. I have been affected greatly by lies, manipulation and subtle abuse. It may be that you don't believe me for I have not shared it here nor with ANYONE while I was dating him. He never called me stupid or fat. But he found ways to get me to feel extremely stupid and found ways to get me to believe that I was less than. Maybe I will share some day. Maybe not.

Contrary actions have always been the way I dealt with depression, anger, jealousy. I get out of bed when I'd rather hide. I love on my son when I'd rather go into a corner. I go to a meeting, call a friend, ask for prayers (did that again today), clean up my home, take a shower, brush my teeth... those are things I do not want to do when I am sad.

I'm scared sometimes. Will I ever get over him? What is wrong with me? Will I ever find love again? Will I ever be OK alone? Am I too ugly, inside and out? Will I be able to move on? I fear those things. It's important to face the fear, ask for help wherever and whomever that may be.

Contrary actions get me to live my life when I'd rather do the unthinkable. I refuse to let depression and loss of hope get me down. I'm fighting for my right to be happy, my right to live, my rightful place in this world full of beauty. My soul heals and is restored when I take contrary actions. Maybe not right away, but soon. Amazing Grace... a gift unearned but a gift well-deserved.

I want to get past this, and I will. People love me in spite of my flaws. I will learn to love myself in spite of my flaws, my mistakes, my human nature.

When my heart is frail, I walk thru the hurt and pain knowing that some day I wont feel like this.

I don't know about justice. I heard it exists. I hope, in a way, Bill gets what he deserves. I hope he experiences consequences for his actions. He seems so happy now. He and that gal are a couple. Just like he and I were. He's giving her all those wonderful things he gave me in the beginning. And that is hard for me to accept.

I know she will end up like me. I think she will. I hope it doesn't take her 3 years like it took me.

Part of me fears there will be no justice. Matt didn't seem to get it. He rode off into the sunset with a younger, beautiful sweet kind woman. He has a beautiful home. An incredible home actually. It's way better than anything he and I shared together. He has two beautiful cars, a successful business, and a happy relationship. I did not see him suffer. Not at all. He is happier now. He told me so over and over. And I believe him.

Bill seems to be doing better too. New car. Money coming in. Beautiful girlfriend.

Contrary actions. Let it go. Let God or the Universe serve justice. Focus on me. Do the next right thing. Despite my hurts, decorate this home. Get dressed. Brush my teeth. You know the drill girl.

 It's folly to think I have forgiven Bill. I need to get angry before I can truly forgive him. I said I have forgiven him, but I have felt little anger. I have just begun to acknowledge what happened. To be free, I have to acknowledge reality, face the pain, live my life, find optimism and love myself.

Who knows if I am making sense this afternoon.

I want to get real. I want to get out of the fog. As this fog lifts it will take strength. Only then I can forgive; I can forgive when it might just be easier to hate. Contrary actions. Fucker.

Taking contrary actions means being mindful of how I am feeling and choosing to do right by me, right by my son.

We have a tree. A little one and a big one (picture coming soon.) We have decorations to put up. I want to face the hurt and the pain. I want to deal with it and not cover it up. I want to smile. I want to cry when I need to. I want to live, shine and be the Andrea that God meant to be.

When I do those things life doesn't seem so bad. I can lift my eyes and see life in a different light, seeing what's in front of me. Maybe I might even see heaven's view.

Friday, November 28, 2014


Did you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving? I knew many people who were dreading the day. I was fortunate to find an easy place to go to, with my son, where we could kick back and feel safe. My father was not with me. He sometimes marches to the beat of his own drum. I think he would have liked to be with me and Oliver; honestly I was not up to hosting a dinner, and I was not up to going out. I'm in a place where I tread lightly, finding easy, comfortable, peaceful places to reside. My friend Rachel's home was just the place for us.

I read Jesus Calling often, a daily reader. I began to read it even before I became a Christian (for the third time, hopefully the last!) When I first started reading it, I had faith in God, but I was not a Christian. I would always substitute the word God for Jesus. This reading didn't mention Jesus. I wanted to share it with you! That way even if you are of a different faith, perhaps you will find something useful in this reading!

“Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity. That is why I have instructed you to give thanks for everything. There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances). This is a spiritual act of obedience—at times, blind obedience. To people who don’t know Me intimately, it can seem irrational and even impossible to thank Me for heart rendering hardships. 
Nonetheless, those who obey Me in this way are invariably blessed, even though difficulties may remain. 
Thankfulness opens your heart to My Presence and your mind to My thoughts. You may still be in the same place, with the same set of circumstances, but it is as if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective. It is this Light of My Presence that removes the sting from adversity.”
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young  
I am grateful for:

  1. my health and Oliver's health
  2. my father's ability to get to the ER in time, and that he is recovering
  3. our beautiful apartment, a respite from the world
  4. all that we have which is more than we need
  5. a working vehicle
  6. money in the bank
  7. a good neighborhood to live in, with great schools
  8. a friendly, compassionate land lady
  9. how God works in my life and makes so many things possible
  10. the help I receive
  11. friendly neighbors, a great church, a network of incredible support
  12. a cozy fireplace to relax in front of
  13. my family
  14. all those wonderful gifts that we have received the last few months
  15. watching my son read, watching him sing and dance, watching him develop friendships
  16. Christi, Sue J, Deb, Pamela, Ann, Brea, Rachel, Angie RM, Angie M, Amy P, Amy J, Amy B, Jenny Q, Samone, Rega, Kim, Jen R, Diane A, Maryhelen, Maggie, Sue Z, Beth, Lara, Heather, Deanna, Lynn W, Audrey, Jenny H, Amie A, Elle, Kelly, Common Household Mom .... Just to name a few of the women that have been a support to me during the last couple months! They cheer me on, pray for me, listen to me and accept me for where I'm at.
  17. a thinner, healthier me
  18. that what’s-his-name hasn’t tried to contact me
  19. that I haven’t contacted him, even tho I’ve been tempted :(
  20. my faith journey... it's been so very rewarding and exciting

What are you thankful for?

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