Today is our tenth day without a furnace.

Well, technically, we have a furnace. Actually, we have two – the broken one that I go to the basement to kick and cuss at every now and then because I’m tired of being cold and the new one we’ve purchased that’s sitting in some shop twenty miles away just waiting to be installed next week.

Meanwhile, our electric meter is spinning like a record thanks to the extra heaters and we’re shelling out $20 a day in small propane tanks to keep the fireplace going and the house a crisp 64 degrees, which won’t kill us, but makes everyone living here wish they were dead.

I’m not sure about you, but I don’t have an extra $20 per day in my budget, let alone the spare cash sitting around to cover the cost of a new furnace and the new propane service being installed and yadda yadda yadda even more things about this furnance debacle that’s sucking up my greenbacks. (P.S. If you do have an extra $20 per day in your budget, shoot me an e-mail and TEACH ME HOW YOU DO THAT. Or just play a fun game of find-the-donation-button on Leslie’s site. KIDDING! [hint: it isn't on this page] Except that I’m KIDDING! REALLY! Or mostly. No, I’m totally kidding.)

So, we’ve had to do some juggling, bill-wise.

I woke up this morning anxious because I knew I had to face the music and make a call to the bank about our car payment. As of today, it was late, and that has never happened before. I’d spent the night dreaming about the repo man (in my dreams, he wears a metal suit covered in spikes) and devising a plan for how I could hide the car until I could pay up, because how would we ever earn the money to pay if Dave can’t get to work? And how late do you have to be before they come and take it away, anyhow? Could it be today?

I paced around the phone for about ten minutes, practicing what I would say. Finally, I picked it up, dialed the number and bounced on Julia’s trampoline to use up my nervous energy. Otherwise, I probably would have burst into tears or yelled obscenities into the phone when they answered. What can I say? I’m fragile. It doesn’t take much to disrupt my homeostasis.

So, ring ring ring. A gentleman answers.

“Hello, Sir. My name is Leslie Grimmett. (big breath) My husband David and I have an auto loan with you and it is late. I’d like to make arrangements to rectify my mistake.”

“Are you within your grace period?”

“I don’t even know. I’ve never been late, you can check on that if you want, because I’ve never been late, so I don’t even know about my grace period because my game plan has always been to pay on time so I’d never have to know things like what my grace period is.”

“Did you receive a phone call from us?”

“No. I’m calling you first,” and in a small voice I added, “I didn’t want you to get mad.”

“Okay. Hold on. Let me transfer you to the correct department.”

Music plays and I’m on hold. I bounce and say “shit” twenty six times.

A woman answers.

I repeat, “Hello. My name is Leslie Grimmett. (big breath) My husband David and I have an auto loan with you and (even bigger breath) it is late. I’d like to make arrangements to rectify my mistake.”

“Okay, what is your loan number.”

I give the loan number.

“And what is the issue again, Leslie?”

“Well, my payment is late and I don’t know what my grace period is, but it’s late, because our furnace died and we had to get a new one and it just threw our finances all out of whack and I’ve never, never been late which you can probably see in your records there and we really need our car and I can bring my payments up to date by February 15th if that will be okay, but I just need you to know that this isn’t a habit of ours, being late, and-”

“Leslie?” the woman interrupts.

“Yes?” I reply, meekly.

“Your payment isn’t late.”

“What?”

“You made your January payment in December.”

“Huh?”

“Sweetie,” she says laughing, “you’ve been a month ahead on your bill for over a year now. You’ve never been late. Your next payment is due at the end of February.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m positive. You have nothing to worry about.”

I cry.

“But thank you for being so conscientious!”

I am still crying.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes. *sniff* So I just need to make my next payment and everything is okay?”

“Yes.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes. Make your next payment by your February due date and you are fine.”

“Oh, thank you. THANK YOU! You have no idea what this means to me! Thank you! Thank you!”

“Well, thank you.”

“THANK YOU!”

“Okay, I’m going to hang up now. Thank you.”

“Thank you!”

I may have even whispered, “I love you,” but I think she’d hung up by then. Then, I danced around the kitchen and contemplated making that lady up a batch of buckeyes to show my gratitude, but then I thought she probably wouldn’t eat them because I came off a little nutty and she’d be concerned that I poisoned them or something. (I mean, once when I was in the working world, I had a sort of creepy employee bring me a dinner he made for me to the office. I told him I’d eat it later, and threw it away after he left so as not to hurt his feelings, because what if he poisoned it? And my mom said, “His feelings will still be hurt, because if he poisoned it and you don’t eat it, he’ll know.” So I get why she wouldn’t want my buckeyes.)

Anyhoo! I’m feeling pretty good about how dumb I am because apparently, it pays.

But that doesn’t stop me from singing. Badly.

Back by popular Fourier Analyst‘s demand, my haiku enthusiast pseudo-album commerical:

Don’t cha wanna sponsor a hot contest like mine? Don’t cha?

Click here for yes. But you gotta do it by Friday.

Our playgroup met today at a cool, new play garden at our local mall – a play garden situated just outside of a gaming store that happens to employ a certain someone I once knew really well.

His name is Troy. (I used to call him Squiggy Piggy Power Hour. Just because.) He was my housemate during my sophomore year in college.

Ah, my sophomore year in college…

Sophomore Year Sorority Picture

I had applied to live in The Science House on campus with two of my sorority sisters and a girl called Melinda who, bless her physics-loving heart, was really living there for the purpose of communing with other science-lovers. Don’t get me wrong, I loved science, but that wasn’t why I was living in The Science House. I was living there because it was a house, not a dorm, and I could party like a rockstar day and night with two of my best friends. For this, Melinda hated me. And her hatred was justified as I spent the entire year exhibiting behavior that forced her to hide in her room. Mid-year, she found the courage to stage a sit-in in the bath tub so my drunken friends and I would have to pee on the abandoned bike in back yard during one of our rowdier get-togethers. Sadly, her protest didn’t have the impact she was hoping for. Peeing on a bike is just about the funniest party trick ever, when you’re wasted. I’m happy to say, that by the end of the year, I had finally coerced Melinda to take part in our partying and on the last day we lived in the house, she actually said to me, “I should have done this with you sooner. You’re not evil at all. In fact, you’re kind of fun.” So, don’t feel too bad for Melinda.

But this isn’t about my abuse of Melinda. This is about Troy.

Troy was my friend Kitty’s boyfriend. J.T., the man that would later become my husband, was mine. Since Kitty and I lived in an area on campus that wasn’t well monitored, our boyfriends moved in with us and we became an inseparable foursome.

We had a great time together. There was a lot of drinking and laughing and bare-your-soul kind of talks at 3 a.m. There were games of fire tag with aerosol cans and lighters. There were sled rides down the staircase. There was mass consumption of pizza and macaroni and cheese. There were many nights spent curled up together on the floor – some because we passed out there, and some because we were helping a friend grieve the death of a grandmother and later, a father. We were close.

Near the end of the school year, Kitty and Troy broke up, which meant our group broke up. I only saw Troy a few times after that. Until I moved here.

It wasn’t all that long ago that I caught a glimpse of him at the mall, still working that second job at the gaming store. He looked just the same. I was in too much of a hurry to walk in and say hello the first time, at least that’s what I say to cover up the fact that I wasn’t brave enough to do it. Since then, when I’ve walked past the store, he hasn’t been there. Until today. But I still didn’t go in. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because J.T. and I aren’t together anymore. Maybe it’s because I know Kitty got married to someone else. Or maybe it’s because our friendship fell apart when she couldn’t stop drinking. I guess it’s because I don’t want to spoil the great memories I have of that time in my life.

When my sophomore year of college ended, it was as if the four of us put all of our experiences together in a box and locked them away. We’ve never stopped to look back, talk about it and reminisce together. I think I’d rather keep them in that box, perfect and untouched, for I fear bringing them out into the light would only make them disappear.

All day long I’ve been trying to grab some time to sit down and blog. Now that I’ve got it, I’m all dried up. I’ve got nothing. My brain is making a sound like activated pop rocks.

And I keep thinking of this commercial.

“Pickle you, Kumquat!”

If you didn’t click the link and watch the video, that “Pickle you” thing may not make sense. I assure you, it’s fun to say.

Go ahead. Say it. It’ll make you giggle. (P.S. If it doesn’t, you’re not saying it right.)

I am not saying it right now, however. I am just typing it. I only recently got Julia to stop rapping, “I’m the motherflippin,” in everyone’s face. I don’t need her calling everyone fruit.

I had a conversation recently that went something like this.

Leslie: “I wish I had talent like that. I’m not creative at all.”

Leslie’s Fabulous Friend: “Are you kidding? Leslie, you’re very creative. Just look at your blog from the past week. Look at all the stuff you’ve made and written.”

Leslie: “Yeah, but I’m not good at any of it.”

Leslie’s Fabulous Friend: “Honey, that doesn’t make you any less creative.”

Her statement really got me thinking.

Since I was a kid, I’ve always put pressure on myself to do things well. Okay, that’s an understatement. I’ve always put pressure on myself to do things perfectly. I’ve had an attitude of, “Nothing is worth doing if you can’t do it right.” Or, more accurately, “Nothing is worth doing if you can’t be the best at it.”

So, I’ve spent a lot of time feeling disappointed in myself. I’ve lost the enjoyment of so many experiences, because I couldn’t just feel good about being there and doing it. All I focused on was the end result. Was I the best? Did I win?

No one is perfect. No one can be the best at everything. These things I know, but it hasn’t stopped me from trying, which I think makes me a little looney.

In some situations, my accept-nothing-less-than-the-best attitude has served me well. It helped me perform well academically. It made me successful at work. But as a mom or a wife? That attitude doesn’t fit and I’ve been struggling to change it.

I wish I could understand why, when I look at myself, I’m so disappointed in my imperfections, but when I look at my family and other people I love, it’s the things that make them different and unique that I love the best.

I look at that sock monkey I made and torture myself over how the left ear is a bit lower than the right, but those cock-eyed ears are one of the things I love most about my cat.

Even after making and selling buckeyes for the past four years, I still worry that they aren’t good enough every time I get an order.

(Oh, and while we’re talking about buckeyes, I got a request to add some white chocolate accents to some of my Valentine treats. Looky-loo!)

I had sold some buckeyes to the staff in my doctor’s office around Christmas a couple years ago. The doctor asked me how I could afford to sell my buckeyes so cheap. I told her that I bought the materials in bulk and that helped with the cost. Then she asked, “But how much do you pay yourself for your labor?” I realized then that I didn’t. When I took how much profit I made and divided it by the hours I put in, I found I was paying myself less than a dollar an hour. Even then, I didn’t raise my prices; I was convinced that people would stop buying them. It wasn’t until my regular customers suggested that I charge more that I actually did.

I’ve realized that sometimes, I don’t treat myself very well. I say mean things to me – things I wouldn’t allow someone else to say to me. Why? Why am I willing to accept in others things I won’t accept in myself?

Does anyone else have this problem?


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