Had a really bad night last night. So bad that I'm afraid writing about it will just bring it all back.
I'm not usually given to fits of deep, dark depression or self-inflicted misery--there's enough on the outside to worry about without delving deep into my own self for hurt. Last night, though?
I was sitting upstairs with my boy when, out of the blue, it hit me--I'm almost certainly never going to go do all those cool things in Europe and the Middle East I've always dreamed of doing. I'm not going to see the Northern Lights in Norway. I'm not going to ride a horse in the desert to see Petra and the Pyramids. I'm not going to discover some amazing Viking hoard in England with my trusty metal detector. I'm not going to climb to the top of the tower keep at Dolwyddelan. Hell, unless I'm lucky, I'm not even going to see Niagara frozen or fireworks in fog or snow.
I'm pushing fifty, and the odds of me achieving any of my dreams are pretty slim. I've always dreamed that someday, we'd have enough "disposable" cash to just do things like that, but you know what? My mom thought that, too, and she's stuck on a fixed income without enough spare cash (or a reliable enough car) to even head to Wendover for a few nights of hot slot machine action.
I cried and cried. And then I told myself that I need to suck it the heck up and work on what I can hope to achieve. Like finding ways to make my boy happy, keep him healthy, give him fun things to do and see. I can do that. That's worthwhile. And maybe, just maybe, he'll get to do those things that I'm almost certainly not going to.
Welcome to my world. It's a pretty bleak place right now. It's the first time I've ever felt utterly hopeless about the future. I've never been that overwhelmed by the sense that it's too late to realistically expect dreams to come true.
Okay. So, here's my world tour as it would go, were I ever to get that chance:
First, I want to take my boy and hubby and wander the English countryside, looking for the next big buried Viking hoard, something from Alfred's time, you know?
After that? Well, maybe swing over to Ireland to see friends and research family (A big shout-out to the Wards, Collinses, and McManuses!), then back across and north to satisfy my husband's love of all things Scottish. I can't forget Wales, though--Llywelyn Fawr captured my heart years ago, and it's a dream, visiting Dolwyddelan.
Notice the second, ruined structure? Funny story. The intact structure was built by Welsh Prince Llywelyn ap Iowerth, aka Llywelyn Fawr ("Fawr" meaning "the great"). That was constructed in around 1220, when Llywelen was almost fifty years old. It was, no doubt, just a way of keeping the English (Norman) lords at bay (and maybe to keep a few disgruntled Welsh back, too). The second structure? The sad, crumbling away bit? That was built, most sources say, after 1283 by Edward I (aka "Longshanks) after he killed Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (aka Llywelyn the Last) and seized Dolwyddelan from his brother Davydd ap Gruffudd (both being the grandsons of Llywelen Fawr). After seizing Dolwyddelan, Edward fortified it by building the second tower. Unlike the first, the second was definitely not built to last.
And then? Then I want to take my guys to Paris, where I had such a mostly-miserable time of things back in 1995. Take them to Pere Lachaise to see the amazing graves, then to Sacre Coeur via the breathtaking stairs up Montmartre.
And Notre Dame, and Les Invalides, and the Louvre, and the Pantheon, and just a hot croque monsieur au jambon et au fromage.
From there, definitely north in hopes of seeing the Northern Lights (and just to enjoy beautiful Norway). Tromsø is, they say, THE place to go for the Northern Lights, and here's a picture from there:
That's the one least likely to happen, I think. Because the Northern Lights aren't just hanging around up there, 24/7, waiting for you. All the best planning, even having the financial wherewithal to hop on a plane the moment reports of a probable solar flare event come in, you could still wind up seeing nothing. I once, when I was in college, saw the sky pink in Ogden, Utah. Vaguely pink. My then husband insisted it was somehow light from cars reflected off moisture in the air. That night, the news reported it had been a rare lower-latitude aurora. It wasn't much to see, but that may be the best I ever get.
Sometimes, I think I'd like to turn south and east from there and hit some of the old Soviet Block countries. And sometimes I think that, even today, things are maybe not particularly safe there.
Speaking of safety, the next leg of my dream is almost certainly not going to happen in my lifetime. Not with the way my government keeps meddling in Middle Eastern affairs. But I sure would love to take my boy through Jordan (for Petra), through Egypt (for Abu Simbel, the pyramids at Giza, the Valley of the Kings), and through Palestine. Petra and Egypt? I'd like to do those sites on horseback whenever possible. There are also sites in Saudi that are much like Petra, but the fancy dancing you've got to do to get there is tough. And expensive.
|Valley of the Kings|
Oh, and I'd like to take Amtrak through the west in the winter, when the snow is thick and deep. And I'd like to see Niagara falls in the winter. Frozen, if possible, but even with just the amazing, limestone-cavern-like formations at the sides would be great. And I think it's time for me to concentrate on those last two, because those are attainable. Those can be achieved.
Now, onto real life.
Found out night before last that my boy has been lying about his math work. He's been, again and again, telling me that he's doing great, that today he did this or that, and I've been taking him at his word.
Turns out he's been lying. He's been pretending to do his schoolwork but, instead, playing on his PS3 or the computer. Video games. I've been unhappy about the video games since day one (was solidly outvoted and out maneuvered on those), and now it stops. New rule? No video games (computer, PS3, phone, or otherwise) on weekdays. Period. not after school work's done, not after Dad gets home from work. Just none on any day his father is scheduled to work. No exceptions. If he does as well this year as he did last year on the standardized tests, he can have the summer with loosened restrictions. If he doesn't, school's going year-round.
I give him points for coming clean, and I give myself demerits for being foolish enough to trust a 14 year-old to work without constant parental "checking up." Won't happen again. And no, it's not that he can't do it, it's that he didn't want to, he'd rather play.
Heard back from the USPS about our tampered-with/stolen mail. Their answer was so utterly unhelpful and so "butt-covering" that I can only laugh. They're not interested in our mail being stolen, and they won't replace the lock on our mail box. So much for "mail tampering is a huge, wowser federal crime!" Sure, maybe it is, but the USPS doesn't seem to much care. No wonder they're going under.
Now, here's something funny. I've just spent a few hours looking at all these places I wish I could go and see, and instead of making me even more devastatingly sad, it's cheered me up. How messed up is that?
Speaking of cheered up, looks like the atheist-hater's loud, cigarette-butt-flinging daughter and her stompy-stompy kids are moving out in a huff. That works. Good luck to you, and I mean that. Think you could take the rats across the street with you?
Anyway, the wonderful, awful paneling so kindly offered me isn't going in today. This is already a very picture-heavy entry, and I want it to really shine.