Altering Habits

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2005-06-27, 1:14 p.m.

Day 309 Upstate NY now located in the Tropics. Ugh.

Wow, has it been hot lately. Hard to do much of any outdoor work with afternoon temps hanging in the 90ís. We poor northerners melt in that kind of stuff. Canít seem to keep enough water in the system. Well, some of us.

I had been feeling a little frustrated over my recent window installation. The install itself went smoothly. Doing the outside trim presented no problems. It was the inside finish work that was bugging me. In order to install moldings around the new window, the window jambs must be flush with the existing interior wall. Often, one must cut jamb extensions to bring the window jambs out to the wall surface. This is an accepted consequence of installing windows. My problem was that the offset was uneven. The right & left verticals and bottom horizontal edges all required about a 3/8 inch extension. The top edge needed more like 5/8 inch. This meant that there was a ľ inch shift in the wall, only at the very top of the window. This ľ inch shift would make it difficult to properly (note I said properly, not that the original contractors knew the meaning of the word) install the interior moldings.

After doing some closer inspection, I could see that the real problem was the support header that ran across the top of the window. If you ran your hand along the wall, you could feel precisely where the header started. Looked like it was installed improperly to begin with, and the finish carpenters just dealt with it as best they could. Made the decision to crack open the wall, take out the offensive header and re-install a new header that was flat & un-warped.

Fun job. Header came out easier than I thought it would. New one went in like a dream. Now have fresh drywall installed, taped & mudded. Best of all Ė the wall is FLAT. No bumps or shifts. Now, installation of the interior moldings will go much nicer. All I really need to do is decide how to handle the window sill. How deep, how thick, how to attach Ė all that fun stuff. Need to account for how furniture is arranged too. We like to keep a couch in front of that window. Canít make the sill too big or anyone that sits on the couch will be constantly banging their head on the sill. Hmmmm Ė C usually sits there. Maybe itíll knock some sense into her?? Very interested to see how much better this set of windows performs during the winter. The old windows were quite drafty. Part of it may have been due to window construction, part due to installation. These days, we have neat stuff like expandable foam insulation that you can spray into gaps & cracks. I made liberal use of that stuff. Iím thinking these windows are sealed up tighter than a frogs butt. The real test will be that first good blast of winter that usually shows up right around hunting season.

I have decided the kids (my two boys) are fortunate. Last night, I explained why to the youngest, E. Theyíre lucky for a very unfortunate reason. When C gets to drinking, they have an out. They can escape with their friends. Go visit them at their house, go see a movie with them, what ever. All it really takes is a few hours and theyíre in the clear. Usually, C doesnít start getting obnoxious (heh Ė that contains Ďnoxiousí Ė have to check the etymology of the word now) till early evening. That gives the boys time to have dinner, make plans, then escape. They donít typically come home till C has gone to bed.

I could pull the same stunt. But Iíll get called on it. Have been given a temporary reprieves however. Twice recently, E and I have headed out for dinner alone. Z was in Florida one time and down at Jís parents house another. We had nothing prepared for dinner, so I suggested heading out. Nothing fancy Ė Applebeeís, Perkins, inexpensive chain type places. C turned down the offers both times. Usually, itís ďI had a late lunch at work Ė not hungry nowĒ for an excuse. The real reason is that even by 6pm on a weeknight sheís too plowed to want to be seen in public. Thereís another local place we used to go to get fish fryís on Friday nights she wonít go to anymore. Wonder if itís related to the time she took a trip down the stairs after dinner one night? Blamed it on her flip flops. I blamed it on operating her feet while under the influence.

So where was I going with this? Escaping. The kids have built in escapes. Especially come August, when school starts again. That really highlights my lack of escapability. I canít even use the kids as my cohorts. C wonders why she has few real friends, why, as a couple, we donít seem to associate with other couples. It is just incredible to me that she canít figure it out. Is the haze induced by wanting the next, or suffering from the last drink, that thick? Must be.

Going to the gym is nice. Itís doing me tons of good physically. Iím in better shape than Iíve been in 25 years or more. But going first thing in the morning doesnít provide much of an escape from Cís drinking. Come August, when the kids are back to school and we arenít playing musical vehicles getting everyone to work, I can get back to Al Anon on a regular basis. Iím sure that will help my head some. Before too long though, Iím going to have to fess up and tell C:

1 Ė Iím actually going to Al Anon
2 Ė Why Iím going
3 Ė What she can do about it
4 Ė How this relates to all the problems she thinks other people have with her (why girlfriends donít call her to hang out, why other couples arenít knocking down our door for barbeque invites, why she canít lose weight, etc, etc, etc)

I will not frame things with an ultimatum. My experience is that more often than not ultimatums either force the situation youíre trying to avoid or flat out donít work because the other party calls your bluff. I will stick with simple statements of fact. Better do it when sheís sober too. After sheís had a few, itís like sheís got Alzheimerís. I canít imagine that sheíd take it well. There will probably be accusations, tears, name calling, denials. At least sheíll know what Iím doing and where I stand. I guess sheíll have to decide for herself what she wants to do next.

Think Iíll also keep this between C and I. I could ask the boys to be there, but that would be uncomfortable for them, and might make C think weíre ganging up on her. Better to let her seek out the boys on her own and get their opinions independently. Maybe hearing it from separate sources will lend some credence to what each of us says. Also means I need to get this going before mid-August so the boys will be around for her to do a reality check.

Funniest (saddest) line Iíve heard recently Ė ďYouíre just going to the gym all the time to make me look bad!Ē Uttered by C one Saturday morning recently. I denied it, of course. What I should have told her though: ďIím going to the gym to make me feel better. If you think you look bad, maybe you should work on that.Ē

Wasted enough time trying to get the random thoughts flitting through my head in order & on paper. Better go get some actual work done.

309 days down. With all the crap going on, I never would have thought it possible. Every day, I think Iím a little farther from ever lighting up again. Itís good to make progress.

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