Friday, January 30, 2009

Hotel Life

I'm sure that everyone is aware of the disastrous weather that has covered much of the nation in one form or another. Here in Ark we had one hell of an ice storm. The worst in the last 9 years. It doesn't really get that cold here, below freezing is a real event and only a couple inches of snow a year, maybe. This ice storm was predicted but in true Redneck fashion, most chose to wait and see what was going to happen rather than prepare. It must be North West Arkansas close proximity to Missouri that prompted the "show me" mentality. Many are regretting it now.

The storm was called for to hit on Monday and by about 3pm most people were headed home through Ice and rain. Kyle and I went to his eye doctor apt at 4:15 and had some trouble getting home after. It rained hard through the night while ground temps were around 30 and ice was beginning to form. I got up Tues am to icy conditions and watched as branches began to fall from the many huge trees in my back yard and the yards of the neighbors. A branch took out my cable at about 9am and the power went out for good by 10:30. The dogs refused to go outside to potty because the sound of cracking wood scared them. Smart Dogs! They could have easily been hit by huge falling branches. My basset hound chose Becca's room to be his "litter box" while Tiny, the English Mastiff ran out quickly to do his business. By 11am I knew we were in trouble and started making phone calls to hotels. I was lucky to be able to find a room close by that still had power. It took Kyle and I a couple of hours to pack up clothes and get the house ready for abandonment. We put the dogs in crates in the living room, got the cats ready for an absence, packed up the snakes for delivery at Kyle's girlfriends house (she had heat) and defrost my car.

That is where our Hotel Life started. Actually, we were lucky to get a room at all since every hotel was booked up by that night. Many of the hotels themselves lost power as well and mine lost power for several hours on Tuesday night but we were safe, warm and had internet!! Imagine, life without yahoo, google, facebook, blog, email, online banking, etc, what would we do???

I'm very used to staying in hotels while on business and everything is very civilized. People are quiet in their rooms, sleeping or working. Breakfast is usually people getting coffee and juice, yogurt, hot tea and the like. A major annoyance would be a screaming child, a barking dog or a smoker who refuses to obey the no smoking rules. Easy huh? By Wednesday morning I knew I was in the Hotel Twilight Zone.

First of all, everyone had dogs. Many rooms had several four legged occupants and dog parties were spontaneously occurring in the lobby and on every square inch of what had been grass before it became solid ice. By Thursday, the ice looked like it was chocolate chip ice because of all the poo, well lemon chocolate chip ice, you get my meaning. Just in case you're not familiar with my dogs, I have a basset hound that weighs 56 lbs and loves everyone and every other dog. His name is Beullar (yes, for Ferris Beullar). I also have and English Mastiff named Tiny who weighs about 170 on a skinny day. He's friendly but any time a dog that big comes to see you with their owner hanging on for dear life behind him, it can be scary. Kyle has been in charge of Tiny since he can pull me across the ice like I'm on skates.

Breakfast was an education in itself. Arkansans in footie pj's with bed head and fuzzy slippers were packing the breakfast nook as if they had never eaten hot food before. Small children had plates before them that had waffles, bagels, muffins and toast. It was a carb nightmare! They also had cereal, juice, fruit and hot chocolate. Their parents never even thought about stopping them, after all it is free.. Visions of "Vegas Vacation" and the endless all you can eat buffet plate came to mind. I had trouble squeezing in to get my tiny cup of hot water for tea. At one point, they ran out of hot chocolate and I thought there would be a riot. If only I could begin to describe the conversation... peppered with "I'm fixin to blah blah blah" and "Scooter, don't LICK the syrup bottle, use yor fingers..." and "Ooops, it's only bin on the floor for a second, it's still good" I may have permanently lost my appetite, which would be a good thing in itself..

Days come and go. People come in, dogs go out. Trash bags full of empty cases of beer and pizza boxes litter the halls. Rednecks with too many children populate the pool. It's very weird to see people in swim suits when we're having a major ice storm and power outage.

Then...Nirvana!!! Power trucks from all over the country start to arrive to help us. We're jumping up and down, waving our arms and yelling "Thank you, my Hero....." offering coffee, anything we can. That's when it hit me....

This has just been an minor annoyance, a blip on the screen of life. We are so lucky and we don't even know it. Yes, it sucks to be out of our house and out of all of our comforts but, lets put it into perspective, shall we? We're in a hotel room, albeit expensive and uncomfortable, we're warm and safe. There are places to eat and things to do. We can help ourselves and live a fairly normal life. Our pets were not blown or washed away, they are with us. We are not giving birth or having a heart attach in a football stadium with no one to help or advise. How dare we complain? It's time to pull up our Big Girl Panties and get on with it. I have nothing but renewed respect and compassion for those who endured hurricane Katrina and I feel so blessed and lucky that I'm here and not there, or even in Kentucky where things are way worse than here.

So that's it, we're still in the hotel, five days later and waiting for our electricity to be restored. I did spy a convoy of workers from North Carolina on my street today and cheered them enthusiastically. I'm just so thankful that we can pay for a hotel room where we can have some of the comforts of home and that all the people that I love are safe and happy. Three older couples are holding down the lobby and playing a fierce game of Mexican dominos and they let me look over their shoulders for a while. Hotel life is not so bad after all.

Getting started

I don't know if I'll be any good at this but I think I'm ready to give it a try. My fear is that my posts will be eternally boring to everyone but me and that people will groan and roll their eyes. Anyway here goes:

After 18 years of having little or no control over my life I have done the thing I was most afraid of and taken my life back. I don't know what I was so scared of but for some reason, I was terrified of leaving my husband. I used to dream of being on my own, I would long for it, imagine different scenarios where I would be left a widow or have the strength to leave. I did all sorts of things to try to get him to leave me and it seemed clear what I needed to do but it was like being stuck in cement. I couldn't move. I knew that if I could just do it I would be able to look back and say to myself "There, that wasn't so hard now was it? What took so damn long?" But knowing and doing are two different things. My husband and I split up about 5 months ago and I am learning how to be in charge of my life again.

This has been a time full of firsts for me. We all go through this when we first branch out on our own and going through a divorce is similar to that time after high school or college when you begin to realize what all is involved in actually having a life. How to get electricity turned on, how to set up bank accounts and keep up with bills. Things most people do all the time without thinking about it. Being able to make decisions for myself like: what do I want to do on Friday night, or where to go on vacation (if I ever get one), how to decorate my house, even being able to burn candles or incense without getting in trouble. I can live where I want, do what I want and think what I want and talk to or be with my family when I want. This is huge for me, really. Not having that eternal damning eye looking down on me all the time is like 1000 lbs off my back.

It's also pretty scary. What if I make a mistake or miss something? What will happen at the divorce (March 5) What will I do when I have to pay child support? When can I see my girls again? The worry of all these things is with me all the time. I also have nightmares that the "authorities" will make me go back to him because I can't handle life on my own, that they take away my little house and make me move back in with him. I know, it's stupid but who can control their dreams? I'll take the dreams and the worry though, it's much better than what I had before.

I actually want to go home now, it's weird. I always thought I was a career girl, very into my work. I dedicated myself to my jobs and spent 50 or 60 hours or more hours a week at work because I thought I loved it. Turns out, I'm not as into working as I used to think. I love to get off work and just be at home now. My days off are longed for and enjoyed and I hate to be out of town and away from the house, Kyle and the dogs. I love being able to watch what I want on TV and have taken firm ownership of the remote.

Since I was never able to develop any taste or style of my own (maybe I just don't have any) I've borrowed from my Mother because I'm always happy and comfortable at her house. Maybe someday I'll grow some of my own. Perhaps there will be a Chia Pet kit that grows taste available at Walgreens...In the meantime everyone will just have to let me mooch off them a little. Being able to breathe, really breathe has been wonderful and worth all of the uncertainty. So here I am, taking over my own life at the age of 43 and learning how to live all over again. Perhaps you will be interested in joining me for this journey which is sure to involve untold amounts of whining or bitching, some drama and hopefully a bunch of wonderful new adventures, friends and experiences. Who knows? Come long and find out.