The Rachel Files: Final Entry

This weekend, my temporary housemate who moved out a year and a half ago came to pick up the rest of her stuff that I was storing in my garage. “Rachel” was finally able to get her own apartment (after moving in with another, more suitable housemate).

I was happy to have the space in my garage back, and I was happy that she hadn’t been living with me for that whole time. Can you imagine how insane I would be by now? (To read the beginning of the three-month saga from 2013, start here –Half-Empty Nest Syndrome— and read onward.) As it is, we were able to hug and wish each other well.

I sure hope her building has a good plumber!

Ding, Dong, Rachel’s Gone! The Rachel Files: Weeks 12-14

English: George Clooney at the 2009 Venice Fil...

Sorry George. I wouldn’t even live with someone like you until I recover from my last roommate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I drove my temporary roommate, Rachel, to the airport at 5:45 this morning, to visit her ailing mother in another state. She’ll return in three weeks, but plans on moving somewhere else then. The separation has taken much longer than I hoped, but it’s finally happening!

I will miss her help walking my dog, doing dishes, and assisting with housework (except when she was overzealous). But I will not miss her clogging up my plumbing (which happened again during this most recent time period), and the general weirdness that goes with her condition. I will also not miss finding her used floss on my living room floor, and, I hate to say it, she was starting to ruin my furniture with her bulk.

On the way to the airport, she apologized for her “inconsiderate and inconsistent” behavior. I tried not to discount her statement (because it’s true!) but I didn’t want her to leave feeling bad. I told her it was a learning experience for me and my son. It helped open our eyes to the challenges that some people face.

After I took Rachel’s suitcase to the ticket counter, I gave her a hug and wished her a good trip. I’m so glad she found a way to make her trip happen. I hope it will be a good experience for her, and that it will provide some closure for her with her mother.

I figure three months is a very respectable amount of time to share one’s home on a volunteer basis. My son and I are looking forward to having our home back to ourselves. I think it’s given us a new appreciation for one another, and, as I mentioned in previous entries, the experience totally cured me of the half-empty nest feelings I was having when my oldest son moved out.

Now I am likely to enjoy and guard my privacy much too fiercely. One of my girlfriends asked me if I would let George Clooney live with me if he wanted. I replied, “Not even George Clooney.” Sorry guys! (Smirk)

The Rachel Files: Weeks 10-11 and the voicemail message

Answer machine

Answer machine (Photo credit: Insight Imaging: John A Ryan Photography)

It began with a voicemail message from Rachel’s husband. He mentioned it was important that Rachel call her mother’s conservator in another state. Unfortunately, Rachel found out her mother is dying.

But there’s another worrisome thing about his voicemail: it means her husband knows where Rachel is staying. He has anger management issues, which is one of the reasons she left him. From what I can tell, it seems to be more emotional than physical abuse – that’s why she’s not at a women’s shelter or something. Even so, the jig is up and it’s more urgent than ever that Rachel find another place to live.

When she and I talked about her moving in, she had been living with someone else for two months after escaping her home. I asked if I had to worry about her husband coming to my house. She assured me that although her adult daughter (who lives with her husband) knew where she was staying, she would not divulge that information to her husband. After all, she hadn’t done so for her previous address.

Guess what? Rachel says her daughter got mad at her and spilled my phone number. It’s not hard to find my address from that. It’s safe to assume if he has the number, he knows where we live. So, we are working to find her other living quarters as soon as possible, and looking for ways to get her out to California to see her mother with the help of our church. What a mess.

I’m not really that fearful. Maybe I should be. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t taking precautions. (Sorry for the double-negative.) Who knew a simple voicemail message could bring such drama? Let’s hope things don’t get any more dramatic.

The Rachel Files: Weeks 8-9, anger management and the electrical poltergeist

Angry Talk (Comic Style)

Angry Talk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rachel indirectly asked me the other day if I was angry with her. Her question was perfectly reasonable, given the plumbing issue, the food issue, and her general invasion of my personal space. My answer surprised me. No, I’m not angry. In this case, anger would serve no purpose. It would be like being angry at the wind for blowing. It’s not like Rachel is doing any of these behaviors on purpose – they are a consequence of her condition. Being angry at her isn’t going to change her behavior or make her condition go away. It would only make our living situation even more uncomfortable.

On the other hand, if I discovered she WAS doing her actions on purpose, I would be angry. But I really don’t think that’s the case. I may vent to friends and co-workers (and this blog) about her issues, but I don’t hold any lingering grudges. It is what it is.

Last week, I returned from my second trip during her stay to find the house in good order, except for a few electrical things that Rachel had no control over. For instance, I arrived home at midnight to the annoying low-battery beep of a smoke detector. Rachel spends most of her time downstairs, and the smoke detector was upstairs, so she didn’t hear it very well. And what sounds she did hear, she mistook for the chirping of our guinea pig.

After one false start figuring out which of the seven detectors it could be, I changed the battery so that I could fall into bed and sleep uninterrupted. My trip occurred during the changeover in daylight savings time, so before finally closing my eyes, I needed to adjust the time on my digital clock. Right after I did so, the clock’s numeral display mysteriously disappeared. Granted, the device was seven years old, but I was beginning to feel jinxed – like my return was draining the life out of all things electrical.

The next day was no better. The display on my home thermostat started blinking “low battery.” I made a special trip to the store to get a pack of double-As, but alas, they were low on power, too. The thermostat won’t work without power, and I was too busy for another trip to the store, so we suffered through a cold day until I could get another pack. This time, I made sure to get the kind that can hold a charge for ten years. We now have heat again – a handy thing when outside temps are only 20 degrees F.

Anyway, this post finds Rachel still living with me. She has not had any luck finding another place. And it’s not like I can really be mad about that either, since her moving is dependent on the willingness of others. She’s been advertising and soliciting other people. It’s just that nothing has worked yet. Rachel was getting stressed about it, but I assured her I understood she was doing what she could. And it’s not like I’m going to throw her out into the frigid outdoors on a certain date.

But I long to have my house back to myself, especially with the Holidays approaching, and I know my son does, too. We’ll just have to muddle through a while longer, deal with issues as they arise, and go with the flow.

Anyone want a roommate? (Grin)

The Rachel Files: Week 7 and the real cost of toilet paper

Photo credit: Heather Cowper

Photo credit: Heather Cowper

So I mentioned at the end of my last entry that my house suffered under the care of my temporary roommate, Rachel, while I was gone for four days to a conference. I’m not even going to get into what happened with my dog, son, and elderly parents while I was gone, because none of these are connected to her. Suffice it to say that lately, my little world seems to fall apart if I’m not around, temporary roommate or not.

Shortly upon my return from the conference, the basement toilet overflowed after I took a shower in the first floor bathroom. Not good. I called a plumber – the kind with a machine that jets water into clogged sewer lines with laser-like intensity. You all probably remember Rachel’s fondness for toilet paper. I’m sure you can all make the connection. The plumber guessed that a tree root caught the toilet paper and clogged the line.

Well, it’s clear now, and I’m several hundred dollars lighter. Bless her heart, Rachel is going to help pay for the high-tech sewer enema, but still . . . If I hadn’t already decided she needed to live somewhere else, this would have clinched it.

We had that discussion a few days before I left on my trip. I explained that I felt she needed to live somewhere where people are home more often and can keep track of her more, and that it would be good for her to live with someone who has a better understanding of her condition(s). Also, my son has not adjusted to her presence very well. Just before Rachel moved in, my situation changed (or more like my ex-husband’s situation changed) and the amount of time my son stays with me increased. If I had known that was going to happen, I doubt I would have agreed to the arrangement. But it was too late by that point.

The good news is, I am TOTALLY cured of my half-empty nest syndrome. In fact, I may never let anyone stay in my house again (smirk). Plus, I am learning first-hand about the ravages of mental illness and how crappy some of the medications are.

Word is out now to other members of my church that Rachel needs another place to stay (that’s how I found out about her plight in the first place), so I hope the situation will change in a few weeks.

But, guess who has another work trip coming up in a few days? It just never ends. . . .

The Rachel Files: Weeks 4-6 and the black eye

Black eye (orbicular bruise). Crop and Rotatio...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No, I did not give her the black eye!

As I mentioned in my previous post about my temporary roommate, Rachel had apparently been making inroads into my son’s snacks even though we talked about separation of our food. Now, I don’t mind so much when someone messes with me. But when my son approached me, shaking an empty package of cashews with a look of sad hunger in his eyes, I decided the woman had to go.

We had another small summit meeting (similar to the one we had about her excessive toilet paper use) and discussed the importance of keeping to our own food. It went well, but the mother lion in me was stirred, so I decided to take a few days to figure out how to tell Rachel that I could not keep her for the full time until a housing unit opens up. We had never set a specific amount of time for her stay, but I had been hoping to do that for her.

I do want to say that it has been great having Rachel walk my dog during the day, and hearing her tips about cooking and cleaning. She is a pleasant person on a difficult journey. But she is crossing lines that are too hard for me (and my son) to adjust to, especially since I have a choice in the matter.

While I was considering how to tell her she had to find another place to stay, Rachel, who has more serious mental health issues than I realized at first, started taking new medications that pretty much zonked her out and upset her balance. One morning, at 2:30 a.m., I heard a crash downstairs where she stays. Because she sometimes does things at odd hours, I didn’t think much of it. Plus, it sounded like something had just fallen off a shelf. I was too sleepy to get up and investigate. It wasn’t until the next day when I came home from work in the evening that I discovered the cause of the sound. Apparently, Rachel had fainted in the bathroom and fallen flat on her face on the linoleum. When I entered, she sat on the couch with a bag of ice on her eye, which sported a HUGE shiner.

I felt bad A) For not caring enough to investigate the crash, B) That this terrible thing happened to her, C) That she didn’t let me know about it in a timely manner so I could get her some help. And I’m sure she wasn’t too comfortable, either! I asked her if she had a doctor she should be calling, and offered to take her someplace, but she assured me she had it covered. Although I wasn’t so sure, I was in the middle of moving my elderly parents to an assisted living home, so I took her word for it.

In her medicated befuddlement over the next few days, Rachel was also leaving burners and lights on. I had a work trip coming up where I would be gone for four days. Guess how confident I felt leaving her home alone for that long? Thankfully, she was open to the idea of having a network of people check on her and go out to lunch with her, which we put into place before I left.

That seemed to go well. My house suffered in my absence, however. More on that in the next installment!

The Rachel Files: Weeks 2 & 3 and the Toilet Paper Summit Meeting

English: Toilet paper, orientation "over&...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Week two with my temporary roommate, Rachel, went all right. The awkwardness of the first week was past and we had the major things worked out. Nothing too noteworthy happened, other than some excessive cleaning. But that’s okay. My house could benefit from some OCD care. Rachel even vacuumed the heater registers, something I hadn’t touched in the 13 years I’ve lived here.

Week three brought with it the realization that Rachel uses a lot of toilet paper. We’re talking a roll-per-day habit. My son and I use a roll per week, if that. Do you know how expensive toilet paper is? I called a small summit meeting about that. It went well. Rachel agreed to buy a supply to keep up with her habit.

Rachel’s cleaning efforts started to get more over-the-top, to the point that when I brought out a decorative fall garland and was starting to playfully cover my son with it, the first thing out of her mouth was, “Do you want me to wash that?” Silly me didn’t even know such a thing was possible, but she assured me it was. I let her know she could dust it, but that washing wasn’t necessary.

We had an agreement from the start to keep our food separate unless told otherwise. This is especially important since I have food intolerances. However, my son’s snacks seem to be disappearing. These include Oreos and cashews. I suspect another summit meeting is in order.

Call Me Surprised: The Rachel Files

OrangeUnderwearIn a previous entry about my new temporary roommate “Rachel,” I said these immortal words: We both disclosed our quirks so that we shouldn’t be too surprised by each other. Hah. Just call me surprised.

Rachel is a member of my church who needs somewhere to stay for a few months until a place of her own opens up. Her move into my home was accomplished smoothly, thanks to other church members. She has been here about a month, but I am already looking forward to having my home back to myself.

The night she arrived, Rachel ended up leaving the lights on in the living/dining room because she “couldn’t find the switch.” No big deal, except for the waste of electricity. I showed her the light switch – problem dealt with. During the first week three other notable things happened:

1) Rachel scrubbed most of the sealant off my tub/shower stall. She has a “thing” about cleaning, and got a bit overzealous. Nothing is leaking yet, and I have grandiose plans to one day redo my entire bathroom, so I will leave it as is for now.

2) Rachel loves my dog – a bit too much. She is helping to earn her keep by walking him at noon most week days while I am at work. I assumed that the first time out, we would walk him together. Before I had an opportunity to explain this to her, she took him for a walk (along a busy street where I never take him because he doesn’t really like cars) while I was gone and without asking me. Ugh. We had a talk about this, and took him out the next time together.

3) Rachel presented me with a pair of underwear that I had thrown into the garbage. They were a relatively new pair – bright orange with lace trim. But I had thrown them out on purpose while doing the laundry. Rachel thought maybe they fell into the waste basket by accident. I suppose this is plausible and that she’s just trying to be helpful, but it creeped me out that she was digging through my garbage, touching my dirty underwear. Wouldn’t that creep you out? I explained their landing in the wastebasket was not an accident. She has since not rummaged through my garbage that I am aware.

I know I promised I wouldn’t turn this blog into a blow-by-blow account, but I fear I may need to in order to survive the experience.