Sunday, March 20, 2011

An Expensive Education

Sometimes so much happens in between posts that I avoid writing because the task of getting it all out seems monumental- like letting the house go too long without a cleaning.  Boy have the last six months been difficult and wonderful, meaningful and jam packed with life's lessons- many of which I'm still trying to sort and figure out.

From the very beginning of my relationship with the young musician, I have had to do serious battle with what I call my little demon; that small voice with a big, fat, negative opinion and assumption about everything.  I have second guessed myself, his feelings towards me and my own chosen words and actions again and again. I began to feel that this relationship could be a turning point for me and this little demon, that it was time to learn in earnest how to cope with and tame this voice.  When last I wrote of him I had just returned from California and was feeling very unsure about where things stood in the present and where they might go in the future.  After much internal debate I decided one night - 'Hey I'm just going to ask for clarification and state what I want."
So I did just that, I asked what he was feeling for me, told him I simply wanted to see him when I could, continue to foster this friendship and to be his lover.  When I hit send I felt empowered and sure of myself.  Then the voice snuck up and started to say things like: Why did you say that? He already told you, you're going to push him away! You sound needy and desperate. You're pathetic. etc.....
I called my girlfriend, she brought me back to reality and I felt good and strong again. I called my mom and she said- " He already told you, you're going to push him away!" That  was a major aha moment.  I saw where some of that insecure little demon came from, passed down unknowingly from mother to daughter.  So I called another girlfriend and by the end of that conversation I felt confident once more.  But I had to wait a good number of days for his response and it became more and more difficult to hold onto that sureness.  On the fourth day I got his response which went something like this: 'I too want to see you when I can, I want to foster this friendship and I want to be your lover. I'm beginning to have a better understanding and am excited to see where this goes."
Damn did that feel good. It affirmed the usefulness of asking for clarification and saying what you want. (Duh)  The next couple weeks were heady and wonderful, I got a package in the mail with sweet, thoughtful, personal gifts- he included a little something for the kids as well. Then I got a homemade valentine in the mail and then- nothing.....for nearly two weeks. My many emails went unanswered.  It had not been abnormal for him to go long stretches without writing but he was leaving some important questions of mine hanging- like when will I see you again and why don't we talk on the phone or try skype sometime....  The floodgates had just been opened, his eagerness for the future of our relationship had been expressed, it seemed an odd time for an extended silence.  I worked really hard those two weeks to think positively. I did not let that little voice take over, it took a marked effort on my part but I won in the end. Sort of.
Two weeks later I got an email: he had reconnected with his former fiance, he was staying in CA for at least the next six months, no summer tours near me etc...  There was other stuff, little stories about being snow bound and birthing puppies, there were questions about my new job and such, but it was rather non-committal and there was no direct comment on what had just passed between us not even a month prior, no recognition of what this would mean for our relationship. Just a casual- I've started spending more and more time with the girl who was my fiance now that we'll be in San Diego for a while together.

This sudden turn of events has caused me pain, though it's far from the 'end of my world', it's confusing as hell. I worked so hard to gain control of my negativity, I finally managed it and my negative worries were justified in the end. Thanks Universe. Thanks for that one.

Ultimately, hurt feelings aside, I feel relieved to be free of that guessing game and I trust that in the end this outcome will work in both our favors. Thanks to all my friends who encouraged and supported me in this first romantic endeavor, it's not a failed attempt, but a brave and educational one.

Friday, February 18, 2011


I’m sorry. I think it, I repeat it in my head, I silently scream it at his back as he leaves, I compel him to feel it stretching from my heart. The spoken words are too weak, meaningless and almost insulting but if he could feel how sorry I truly am.... well it still wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference now would it? I’d still be gone. The supposed purpose of expressing regret is to alleviate the suffering of another who you have wronged in some way yet it usually only serves to alleviate the guilt of the offending or apologizing party. Just another selfish act. It puts me in a very awkward position for what then can I say or do? Nothing? Appear callous, aloof, unburdened? We are now in the chapter where he distances himself from me absolutely, where he will accept no kindness, no help, no small tokens of love and certainly no apologies or acts of sympathy. In a way it is a relief to be here because I don’t feel on edge, waiting for the next effort he might make that I’ll have to reject but it leaves me feeling very unsure of what my role is now. I am not comfortable with the idea of him perceiving me to be cold or uncaring but I also am not comfortable being vulnerable by extending myself and feeling the sting of his refusal.
Oh it is a tricky dance and I have no formal training! But I do feel sorry. Sorry for not loving him enough, sorry for leaving and taking everything with me, sorry for opening my heart to another man and feeling so much joy and happiness as a result while he still suffers. Do I feel guilty? Yes. Should I? Of course not, I am simply living out my life, I am only human, I deserve as much forgiveness and understanding as the next human being, but still I carry a heavy load of guilt on my back. I think it’s akin to feeling guilt for laughing too loud, too soon after a loved one has died; there’s the intense relief followed by the sharp self reprimand and the wondering if that makes you unfeeling in some way.
It’s baffling how quickly someone with whom you have shared a large portion of your life, can become a stranger. All these little compartments slamming shut and you just keep backing up so you don’t get a finger pinched in one of them, you just keep backing up until all of a sudden you realize how far you’ve moved from one another. There is no sense of panic in my heart, no sense that I am making a mistake but there is a steady sadness like the flat line on the hospital monitor letting you know in it’s unwavering monotone that it’s final, it’s over. There is the regret of having to hurt some one you love for your own happiness.
I am ready to file for divorce. The reasons that have been holding me back such as health insurance, are no longer as important as needing to be able to enjoy my happiness free of guilt. And I hope, with all the love for him that resides in me, that he feels the reprieve of a little sunshine in his own heart and that it comes swiftly, for his relief is in the hands of time now and not in mine.
I’ve been purging as women do, slowly, memory by memory, an individual goodbye to the ghosts of the past, present and future of a dead relationship. All week I’ve been crying, the tears finding their way out in little increments, accepting any opportunity to release themselves; the haunting refrain of a song, a dead cat on the road, an old love letter, loneliness, and last night an exhausting dream in which three men I know killed themselves and I cried in exhales until no sound came out and my chest burned. I woke with a headache that did not diminish and rattled around the house trying to make sense of myself, of my life, cleaned the windows, mopped the floor, read, anything to keep busy, to not feel so alone, to keep the cold stone of fear at bay. Fear of being so directionless, fear of not having a job, fear of falling in love again, fear of making mistakes, fear never being successful, fear of having a saggy ass someday. As soon as you write it out it becomes less powerful, it’s just letters and words.
Amidst, or perhaps I should say hand in hand with these tough days are miraculous moments of contentment and spells of clarity and peace of mind. I don’t want to overlook any opportunity for joy and it’s something I have to constantly remind myself of. Paul Simon sings, “When something goes wrong I’m the first to admit it, I’m the first to admit it and the last one to know, when something goes right oh it’s likely to lose me, it’s apt to confuse me- it’s such an unusual sight- I can’t get used to something so right.”
It’s far too easy to talk yourself out of having a happy life. All you have to do is focus on the negative things and then that’s all you’ll see. When something is right, when there is a gift in front of me, when love is at my door I want to be present to witness, to accept and to reciprocate. So these feelings of guilt that claw at me and cling to my legs, trying to slow me down-what can I do with them? I remember hearing the Dalai Lama talk about how he processes emotions. He says he feels them to their absolute fullest and then lets them go. I’ve thought a lot about this and whether I am capable of doing it. I’ve come to realize that many times the same emotion will come at you again and again, like waves lapping at the shore, they don’t just come around one time, you feel it and then it’s done. My instinct may be to collect it but that’s only nurturing something that in the end will bite the hand that feeds it. So I am working on giving myself permission to feel each negative wave as it comes in, recognize it, and then let it pass on by, it gets one blip on the monitor and then it makes a straight line for the exit.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Taste of Honey

It was late morning before he made it over to the Inn where I was staying, an old horse stable converted into two rooms with private bathrooms and beautiful views of apple orchards and Volcan Mountian Wildlife Preserve. The air was already warm enough to roll the windows down as we wound around the curving mountain roads. My heart leaps about in my chest at the vast landscape, at the freedom of the day and at the sight of the man next to me in who's company I feel so at ease, like lying naked in the sun, muscles melting into the ground. An hour later, armed with a somewhat vague map and advice from two lovely volunteers at the visitors center, we park the truck and start out on Hellhole Canyon trail in search of a seasonal waterfall that we've been told is still running. Before reaching the mountains it's about a mile across the straight, flat wash punctuated by cactuses and shrubs like the tall, red blooming ocotillo, brittle bush, agave and the cute barrel cactus which protrude red and deceptively fluffy looking. We are told most people stop too soon when they come to a tiny fall, we must continue on over the boulders and above all stay to the right- even when the trail becomes less clear. All around are flowers blooming, on cactuses and white sage, there are even some single stemmed frail blossoms poking out of the dry ground, a small delicate burst of purple against all odds. The heat is intense but it's arid, so bearable. Our footsteps startle tiny lizards, yellow warblers and hummingbirds. I've never seen so many hummingbirds in one day but their number doesn't diminish my excitement of seeing their small bodies darting around at impossible speeds and hearing the buzz of their tiny wings.
A sense of peace has settled in my chest and my thoughts for the moment are only here in the Anza Borrego Desert. We are careful to take lots of water breaks as the heat can deplete you faster than you realize and we've got a round trip hike of nearly six miles ahead of us. As we approach the ravine we begin our ascent and the scenery gives way to giant boulders and mountains rise on either side silent and hot. I wonder out loud how many pairs of eyes might be watching us from above. We don't see any big horn sheep that are known to traverse the peaks but there's so man crevasses and rocks you'd have to sit still and study one spot to pick out any movement. As the rocks got bigger and the path more narrow and trickier to traverse we keep up the same fast pace with eyes and muscles working together in perfect ease and unison. Suddenly we come upon a rag tag group of palm trees and he notes we must be nearing water. Soon after we hear the first trickles of a small stream,there are more palms and two random deciduous trees with yellowish brown brittle leaves clinging long past their season for falling. This is the only thing I see that day to remind me it is mid-January.
We snake back and forth across the stream, sometimes taking the trail less travelled and laugh that despite the advice given we have mainly stayed to the Left. We come to the smaller water fall and press on for about a mile until we hear the promising sound of water crashing onto rock. There it was, tucked modestly behind dead vines and trees between fern covered rocks, surrounded by desert. I pulled off my socks and shoes and stood close to the cold cascading water, turning my hands and face to the gentle drips falling from a mammoth boulder overhead.
We stand in our own thoughts, enjoying nature's reward then snack on cliff bars and fruit before starting back. We quickly make our way down through the boulders and slow our pace once we again enter the flat terrain of the wash. The sun is no longer directly overhead and we are comfortably warm, happily tired and satisfied.

Back in the truck I smell the heat of his body and my head reels, my own body responds and I have to turn my head to the cool air from the window to collect myself. He reaches for my hand and expertly navigates around the hairpin turns with one arm. It's my last night in California and the floodgates in my heart have creaked open, the touch of his hand as he has traced my face and my body, has set a tremble in my very foundation.

The night before we had walked in the apple orchard behind my room, the moon was not even half full but so bright that the world was perfectly illuminated. Warm winds were gusting through and the frogs were in full chorus. So easily we talk and just as easily we sit in appreciative or thoughtful silence together. We walked down the road into a canyon surrounded by the protected wildlife preserve, we lay in the middle of the quiet road and look at the stars and talk. Later in my room we move ever closer on my bed until our lips finally meet and our bodies are free to communicate. I have been waiting for this, to have passionate energy flowing through my body and I fully surrender myself to it. He is caring and restrained and we do not complicate things by making love but enjoy each other for many happy minutes before he left for his own bed.

I knew when I boarded the plane to California I was taking a risk. That I might return home more confused, that I might suffer from the taste of honey, but how could I not go when such bliss might lie in wait? Our last night together he gently let me know that he is fully committed to the band for another two years and it's just not our time right now. He doesn't want to be a distraction while I figure my own stuff out and he's had so much heartbreak as a result of his lifestyle, he won't let our beautiful friendship be ruined by a failed romance. He can redirect the energy from his heart into protecting our friendship. And I hear him, I even admire him for his discipline but at the same time I can't understand a word he is saying. I know that even though I am not ready for a committed relationship and if he asked that of me I would feel smothered, I still want to hear him say he needs to see me, that he can't resist, that he's crazy about me. That is my language, not this Reasonable crap.

I'll not lie, it hurts, it's uncomfortable and it's damn hard to come down when my reality is so difficult right now. But this is important for me to experience and I'm grateful to him for tempering my fool hardy habit of diving after my heart. It's unrealistic- as much as it feels like someone has invaded my body when I say that. But then ultimately don't we make our own reality? See now I'm back to my old self.

He sent me a book entitled "The Alchemist" and one of it's running philosophies is that when you want something all of the Universe conspires to help you get it. I want to feel like I have come home to myself and then I want happiness in love. What ever that looks like and whomever it is with, I want happiness. I'm asking for it.
Every day I wake up and think 'deep breaths', I will be carried from this uncomfortable place by life's slow moving current, I just have to keep my head above water.

I woke from dreams of the desert
and the hot smell of your skin
the firm press of your lips on mine
the sun, the moon and the warm winter wind

I keep my eyes closed to the light of the day
snuggle down deep in the nest of my bed
and wonder perhaps if I’m on your mind
where across many miles you lay your head

Oh don’t forget while
you’re rambling ‘round
us searching the heavens
our backs to the ground

how the world was
all lit in slivery light
and the frogs sang their
harmony into the night

Though our worlds are mountains apart
our words weave a landscape between us
where we might meet and sit side by side
the rules of space and time bend to join us

I wonder what it is you will do dear friend
when the covetous road sets you free
will your heart have settled with another
or will you cross over the distance to me

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Measures of Success

I'm still unsure what I intend to do with this blog. It's feeling more like a journal (and getting about as much of my attention as my real journal) and less like a forum. I had hoped it would be a forum for women going through or relating to similar things but it has never taken off the way I imagined it might, it's never been a forum. I'll stick with it a bit longer- see what happens.



Looking back over the summer months I can't believe how much we squeezed in! Since my husband deployed in May I have filled our weeks as much as possible to keep us all busy and happy. We drove to New England, camped for a week on the ME coast with a dear friend and her boys- this is turning into an annual tradition- stayed at my mom's beautiful new place in NH, visited Brooklyn and Boston. Back in NC we spent many weekends ocean camping and found some great lakes closer to home to camp at. I've become an expert at camping with the kids and though it's no small task I truly enjoy it. At least once a week I found some free, live, outdoor music- this area is teeming with outdoor events in the warmer months and I was bound and determined to benefit from as many freebies as possible. Also determined not to go crazy these long months of single parenting, I arranged a few overnights alone so I could attend different music festivals. From these festivals I've made some great new friends in the local music scenes and my world has expanded. I feel a part of things again and oh how I have missed this feeling!! How long I went without! The last year our married life spent living together, I came to fathom, slowly and painfully, that what I wanted was within my reach but not in my life. I couldn't see things ever changing if I stayed where I was and though I chose to move only an hour away, it's really a world away. A world away. I'm so happy I'm here, I am aware of possibilities again! It has not been an easy road and I am working very hard to be where I am right now. Some incredible shifts have occurred by some unexpected means. One of my dearest friends was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia nearly two months ago. I received the news from a third party and spent two awful days waiting to hear from my friend herself, to gauge the seriousness of the situation. For so many months I'd been living in a space of near constant anger, resentment, guilt, grief and a near crippling fear of the unknown in my future. During those two days spent waiting for S to call, everything came to a head and I was in ruins. Then her call came and as soon as I heard her voice and heard her telling me that this was OK, that it was one of the best gifts she'd ever been given, time stopped for a long instant and I experienced a major internal realignment.
I was suddenly able to step out of that awful space I'd been surviving in, able to step to the side of it, to be peaceful with where I am and not consumed with what I can not control. Her gift imparted itself to me and to many of her friends and we all humbly share it together while she heals.

So now that I have gained this new tool the Universe has decided to test me of course! With the deployment coming to an end in just over a month, my financial support will have to decrease dramatically when we have two separate households to pay for. It's crunch time! Unwilling to get stuck in some underpaying job I have decided to keep pursuing nursing school and if I have to take out loans to pay the rent so be it! I'm surrendering myself to the process. Then my husband tells me he's toying with the idea of extending his deployment another six months and I just have to wait tight until he makes up his mind. Ok focus, focus I tell myself, focus on what you can control. This deployment he is going out on these 'missions' where he'll be off the grid for days at a time,sleeping in some dinky tent on the border of some 'stan' country or another. These are days where it is especially challenging to keep the fears at bay, to not read every odd occurrence as a bad omen, but I've gotten through them and there's one more long one to get through that starts today... I know that if he stays another six months it will suck but I can do it. If he dies over there I will do what ever it takes to heal the hearts of our children and what ever it takes to give them a happy life. I just refuse to give my precious energy over to things that have not and may never come to pass.

To keep my super natural single mom powers at their best I have started taking Bikram Yoga classes and guitar lessons! I am honoring my belief that I deserve these positive things even though they cost money and we don't have a lot of money. These two things have been adding balance, purpose, confidence and energy into my life in a time when they are most needed. In the other corner of the ring, threatening to throw me off balance and into a vortex of old bad habits, there stands a man with black hair and a guitar. A much younger man might I add. Yes I met someone who's captured my attention and imagination. We met at a festival he was performing at, danced for hours, lay under the stars for hours more and are quickly forming an intellectual and emotional bond via emails. He lives in San Diego. I live in NC. Why does the Universe keep teasing me like this? Well in the part of my brain that's not gone kooky with giddy romantic notions, I know that it's best it's this way. I am obviously emotionally entangled with the man I'm still married to, I am just getting my life together, I have children and- well- he's eight years younger than me. But- but-but- he's exceptionally beautiful, he's a crazy talented musician and he writes me these emails that leave me wondering if he's an extension of my own heart and mind. I want to kiss him. I want to know what it's like to wake up next to him. I'm trying to keep myself in check to not lose everything I have worked so hard for to this heady experience. I remember how addictive this feeling can be, how dangerous. So this may be my biggest challenge yet. If I fail I'll have only myself to blame.

The kids and I are gradually finding ourselves in our new home and routines. They both love school and are making lots of friends. Their new favorite spot is one of the little trees out front where they'll gladly spend hours with books, stuffed animals, what ever they can haul up there. These last months of deployment have been hitting them hardest and there have been a lot more late night tears and fits of rage especially from my son. I just get so burnt out being on 24/7 always being the heavy, the nurse, the cook and the psychologist. There are nights when it's all I can do to get their teeth brushed, books read and give them snuggles. If one of them gets out of bed the floor falls out from under me and since I have already used up what felt like the very last thread of patience kissing every one of their buddies goodnight I end up yelling. The other night my son got out of bed for the third time- he's been complaining of a bad dream he had a while back and gets himself all worked up and scared. I had been in his room to comfort him that night, and the two previous nights, had tried every trick in the book, searched my brain for anything to help him conquer his fear and nothing had worked. Now as he stood in front of me I had the thought that he was milking this for as long as he could and I had to put my foot down or it might go on endlessly. I got stern and told him to get into bed, he said no, I said NOW, he said NO and so on. The floor fell out and I grabbed him by the arm to escort him to bed, he pulls the 'fine I'll go completely limp' move so I'm now dragging him down the hall. He grabs onto the cabinet and I pull him loose and toss him on his bed. He's crying, I feel like I'm going to scream and/or cry and we're both sitting there on his bed in the dark. I pulled the blanket up over him and he shoved it down with a stubborn squeal- about to lose my mind my hands suddenly register how large and lumpy he feels. I scan his torso with my hands in the dark and ask- "How many shirts to you have on?"
He replies- "Five....and four pairs of pajama pants."
There is a long pause and then we both collapsed in uncontrollable peals of laughter. Just the thing we needed- a miracle handed to us by the grace of the Universe. Laughter. I try to create laughter more now. Things with my daughter can get especially tense as they always have and laughter never fails to diffuse the negativity.

I am a see-saw. I may gain ground one day and fight like hell to keep it the next, hell I may go tumbling namby pamby right down the hill but I feel more than ever now that I can recover each and every time. I feel like I have actually learned some things in this life, that it has all been worth while and it has led me here, I am succeeding and oh boy does success feel good!

Friday, August 20, 2010

May the road rise up to meet you

In five short days Everett and Arianna will start full days of school. This will be Arianna's first experience with full days away from me and I'm interested to see how she likes it. I have been allowing myself to imagine what my days will be like with so much alone time. I can read, find a yoga class, ride my bike around, window shop, go to the mall, walk around downtown and get a beer if I so wish, take a nap.... Of course I will also be very much involved in the hunt for a job but I plan to make the most of what ever free days I get to myself before I start working. I deserve them. I've been walking the tightrope a lot lately, that thin line between "I'm managing" and "I'm in the weeds". "I'm in the weeds" is a great phrase from my waitressing days. I remember so clearly that slightly panicked feeling when an eight top is sat in your already maxed out section and you realize you forgot to get table four's drinks and the kitchen is calling you to pick up table two's food and table one is trying to flag you down for their check. Long past my fine dining days, I find myself more in the weeds as a single mother than ever before. Right now though, things seem to be falling together at the same rate other things are falling apart. I have new friendships forming that promise to be great friendships and I'm enjoying the deepening of a couple old friendships that are local, I've started seeing a new therapist and really couldn't be happier with that branch of support. I've been taking the kiddos once or twice a week to local, free performances, the kids museum, camping at the beach, swimming at the community pool etc.. We started attending services at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Raleigh, they have an excellent kids program run by a dear friend and I anticipate it being a great place to meet other like-minded parents. There may not be a whole lot of immediate gratification but I am moving forward. Seems like a miracle since I spend so much time looking behind me from whence I came,I have to focus on training my eyes to the road ahead and only indulge the backwards musings when I have achieved enough distance to have earned them. Some days though I hunker down under the protective shade of a roadside tree and brood or worse yet double back,following my tracks, sniffing and howling like a hound dog that's lost the scent but wants to fool you into thinking it's still hot on the trail. It really is a mournful thing to set yourself so far back but you pick yourself up and get moving whether sheepishly or with nonchalance, you just keep moving.
Here's my adaptation of an Irishg blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you
and may the wind be ever at your back
to kick you in the ass when you start feeling sorry for yourself.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Have you ever read someones Facebook status and cringed, felt uncomfortable and wondered why on earth they would post something so personal for the world to see? I have. I disassociate myself from that person with a raised eyebrow and my own witty, half veiled status where everything is safely insinuated and therefor acceptable. But secretly I have been brought to that moment, hands hovering over the keyboard, where I wanted to let the world know that I am about to lose my shit! I'm lonely! I'm horny! My world is a shit storm and I'm not so sure I can ride it out a moment longer! So great is my need to have some human contact,to feel some support, that I might just risk putting it all out there for people like my eighth grade classmates and high school boyfriends to read if it might garner some attention and support, a little red number in a square alerting me that some one has sent me a life line. So far I've managed to 'keep it together' for the public eye.

This morning I had a total meltdown when Everett accidentally but carelessly tore a utility shelf from the wall that was holding all the tools. It took me hours to get those shelves up and two months to even find the energy to do it by myself. Yesterday he ripped the bottom screen off the front door and I had to sit in 115 degree sun while I unscrewed the door frame, pulled the metal screen back into place, screwed the frame back on and then meticulously sewed the inner screen back onto the metal screen. Today the shelf was the last straw and instead of screaming at him I just started bawling. I cried like my heart was breaking, like I was mourning the dead, like everything as I knew it was up for auction.
Which of course is why was I crying topped with the helpless feeling one gets when they have just seen their hard work undone. Oh how I wanted to get on Facebook and virtually scream for help: "Some one come rescue me!" or "Sweep me up and tell me it's going to be Ok" And there are a few I would ask to "Kiss me so fiercely that the world falls away"and "Take me to bed and don't let me out until I have been reborn"
But what I wrote was: "Need. Massage. Now.....and a handy man." And I really don't feel a sense of superiority for my restraint. Nor do I feel any relief and no one is throwing me a lifeline because frankly, who doesn't need a massage or a handy man.
Still, I am not sure that the full disclosure status update is the way to go because although it's true that we all lose our shit at times and we all falter and feel alone, there are some out there to whom I would like to remain mysterious. It's important to me that when I am failing and falling apart, when I am ugly and unlovable, someone out there thinks I'm living the dream.
Hm..instead of sitting here and continuing to feel sorry for myself maybe I'll scan my friends status updates for TMI and throw out some lifelines. Then I'll go look at that damn shelf again. And if any of you can recommend a man who's good with his hands- ahem- I mean a good handy man, I'd be much obliged.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Don't Let Their Size Fool You

Other than peaceful solitude in nature or the amicable silence between my mother and I when we’re getting along, there are few things more healing to my soul than my naked child resting on my chest. That slight weight, the smooth chubby skin with it’s sweet sweaty smell, the body born from mine imparting a sense that all is well with the world. I treasure those moments and they seem more and more rare these days as the kids are so active now. I steal snuggles in the hours after they have fallen asleep when their bodies are slack and giving and I listen joyfully to their murmurs and sleepy dream talk. Although I object, I secretly love when they come into my bed in the middle of the night and I get to hold them in the morning when it's still quiet, before the other comes in and all hell breaks loose. These days the fighting seems endless and it’s maddening. Top five things they fight about: If one of their hands or legs even slightly touches the other which ends with my daughter screaming, one won’t follow the exact rules of a game and threats are made to never play with the other again, my son has a problem with my daughter getting out ‘his door’ of the car so he endlessly slams it in her face at which point she starts screaming, my son won’t let my daughter finish a sentence and acting like a big know-it-all, finishes the sentence for her at which point she starts screaming, my son doesn’t like my daughter’s singing so he’ll start a chant which ends with me or my daughter screaming. Today during a particularly grueling session of ‘don’t touch me’, I actually threatened to pull the car over and leave them on the sidewalk. Now I’m not a big fan of making threats like that- especially when they are so young- it’s just asking for nightmares and separation anxiety. I’m not proud but man did it fly out of my mouth with great speed and volume. While typing this my daughter came into my room to tell me that my son had threatened to punch her in the face if she didn’t lick his butt. Fun times let me tell you. This is how my days are defined- refereeing dumb fights all day long. All day. This is why I need my glass of wine at the end of the day.

To make up for it, these small spawns of mine ply me with a virtual open- bar of love. No matter how many times I’ve raised my voice, or if I’ve threatened to leave them on the sidewalk, there are constantly little arms around my legs and juicy smooches on my cheek, pats on my bum and a never ending string of “I love you so so so so so so so so so so much mama”. On my toughest days when I can’t wait for bed time, when I am considering checking into that psych ward, when I can’t bear to hear one more whine or ear piercing shriek, my hands will find their hair, their warm backs, their soft cheeks, I’ll pummel them with smooches or our eyes will meet and I’ll croak out “I love you sweetie”, so overcome with the emotion I could weep on the spot. Checks and balances. They deplete, they fulfill. They break me, they inspire me. They bring out my best as well as my worst. They miraculously accept me when I have failed them and unreasonably reproach me for not allowing them to run around outside in a lightening storm. I don’t think I could ever be so forgiving, or so in love with a man. There is no spoken vow between mother and child yet this is the strongest, no bullshit sort of love and it ends only with my last breath. They don’t talk about this stuff in the birthing classes. They don’t warn you how much you stand to risk by loving another being so fiercely. They don’t warn you that some day your kid, your beloved baby could break your heart more thoroughly and completely than it’s ever been broken before by dying, disowning you, murdering someone, choosing to live with their father after the divorce. No, we just go blindly into the whole child rearing thing thinking only about diapers, onsies and names and worrying about such fleeting things as colic, teething and nights of lost sleep. None of us are guaranteed safe or complete passage through this life and none of us are instructed how to enjoy what time we are lucky enough to have. It seems terribly unfair but isn’t it just like our species to bitch and wine about mortality instead of marveling about this day, right now, how we are moving, breathing, loving, hurting, and thinking our way through every minute, every hour that we are lucky enough to have. My children are a burden and that may sound harsh but fuckin A- life is harsh so get over it. My children are also my greatest boon, my ship come in, my hearts desire and my gurus. Little stinkers.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


There is an ache that has taken up full time residency in my chest and often it expands to such a girth that I fear my internal cavities cannot withstand the pressure. I have to find the saddest or the most seductive song and play it loud so that some of my longing and disquiet can find its way out and relieve that pressure for a short while. I think a lot about leaving. I know I could never do it and live with myself, I could never be apart from my children for very long, it would be too devastating but there are days when I think about checking myself into a psych ward just to get something of a vacation from these children. Some days I can’t stand them for long periods of time and I don’t let them near me because I can’t breathe. I think I must be the most awful mother there is to tell my children to leave me alone, to feel so resentful, to want to punish them for hampering my life so. If they were gone truth is I would wander aimlessly and feel uneasy, uncomfortable in my skin, not as confident. I would be half a person. It’s comedy really, that I feel half a person with them and half a person without them. Lately I fluctuate between wanting to jump off a bridge or making out with someone. Probably I should opt for the latter…find a babysitter, go to a bar, drink some tequila, set my sites on easy but appetizing prey and corner him. I’d have better luck in a smaller town.

I have lost sight of what it is I am supposed to be doing right now. Am I supposed to be ruminating on my marriage and figuring out if I want to salvage it and how? Am I supposed to be working on myself and putting thoughts of the marriage on the back burner or am I supposed to be working on myself and moving on? My husband called from Afghanistan last night and asked if I am dating anyone. After nearly two months of brief, terse conversations finally he asks a question that eludes to the glaring fact that we are separated. I thought it would open the door for us to talk about how we’re feeling so far, what we’ve realized in retrospect, what our positions are on divorce etc…. But after I told him I wasn’t dating and answered his “Why?” he said it was a good place to end the conversation. There I was thinking we had just begun. But he has to compartmentalize all of his emotions so that he can work 12 hour shifts seven days a week in weather that rarely goes below 100 degrees in hostile country. I get it. He gets that it is hard for me. We shoulder it and trudge on in our separate directions. He says he will be filing for divorce as soon as he gets back and though I expected it, it still sends a shock through my body to hear it, a rending sensation that next morning I realize has added to the ache. Even though an actual divorce is at least a year in the future, I still feel like things are moving at a dizzying pace and I feel a need to steady myself before I go hurtling down this avalanche. I feel entitled to have some time, some space to figure myself and everything else out. With him it’s black and white, I’m in or out and there’s no alternatives. If we’re separated then it’s divorce and I’m scared. I’m really, really, fucking scared.

Big Mountains, Crappy Beer

My heart, not yet a clean slate, has surrendered to the knowledge of the many lonely months ahead. My brain has nothing definitive to say of love. It’s opinions, like love itself are constantly evolving, shifting and morphing- never finite. Just when I seem to have figured out how I got to this place in my marriage, when I could draw it out like a map, I realize that there are far more paths than the ones I have shown- that mountain wasn’t as big as I remembered it- and the place from where I started might have been farther away or was it closer to where I am now? Was it that the paths were long, or serpentine and tangled, giving the illusion that a great distance was traveled? In the end it’s of little import where I started from- I have come to this place. This strange, sad place where hopes, like little chinks of light, try to find their way in where ever the barrier is weakest. Do I dare to hope that some day I will have love again? Wild, passionate, love? Will I ever want a man so badly I pull the car over, straddle his lap, take him into me and actually enjoy the ride? Sex is so staid in my marriage- quite frankly I’m a boring lover and my husband would be doing things much differently if he had his way. God- what if I never become an adventurous, uninhibited lover again? How embarrassing…. But why does it matter? Why does it mean so much to me? Why do I feel embarrassed? Biologically speaking there is no need for me to be some deranged sex fiend- I mean I did my friggin’ job and popped out a couple kids- the human race will live on in part thanks to my contribution. These standards that I feel I’m not living up to are not innate they are derived from a copulation crazed society. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.!! OK so the extra exclamation point may be a result of the two Bud Light Limes that I’ve been forced to drink here in this beautiful, Podunk town of Sutton, West Virginia that doesn’t sell micro brew. The kids and I are on our way back to Raleigh from a short New England visit and have landed at the Elk Motor Lodge off of WV 4. Suffice it to say that this motel is significantly different than it’s cozy, homey depiction online. I did request a non-smoking room but it appears that all 15 of the rooms are smoking or have been smoked in. The owners have bought-hook, line and sinker- into the belief that potpourri actually masks the odor of cigarettes. A girlhood friend of mine had parents who were chain smokers and owners of one of those small, yippy dogs who was ancient and literally rotting. This dog-ironically named snuggles- stank so bad I couldn’t get close to it without gagging. Her mother earnestly shook potpourri powder onto the shag rugs everyday. I had too much tact to tell them that the end result was a odorous frying pan to the face of cigarettes, fetid dog and sickly sweet potpourri. I was smacked with this memory upon opening my motel door but I’m not in the mood to rock the boat so I breathe lightly until my nose has adjusted. It’s an honest to goodness motor lodge where the cars are parked nice and orderly in front of their doors and there’s a long line of chairs placed outside the rooms, air conditioners purring and leaking onto the cement. When we arrived I seemed to be the only adult female lodging here amongst a motley crew of gruff, rugged men all eyes and soft whistles but now as I sit outside my room listening to Robert Johnson I am alone with my thoughts and almost wishing myself some burly company if at least for the fodder. There are fireflies though… Did you know that there is a spot in the Great Smokey Mountains where the fireflies light only in unison every five seconds? If you take them out of that area they no longer do it in unison. The only other place on earth where this phenomenon has been documented is in China. What the hell is that all about? If you cannot find one pathetic reason to carry on let it be because shit like that goes on every day and we are here to witness it. These events we humans consider a miracle are trivialities to Nature. What a concept.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Teacher and Student

When does the day come when I wake up and feel grateful. First thing. When I don’t immediately wish I could sleep longer, feel better, have less bullshit to deal with and hard decisions to make? Am I hard wired to feel crappy? I mean even the happiest people have bullshit and hard decisions on their plate- it’s unavoidable in life. Right? Are there really people who get through this unscathed or are they urban myths. In case you didn’t catch on to the tone of this entry, I’m going to bitch about my life so feel free to skip this one if your own personal problems are just about all you can handle right now. I have moved into my new little house in Raleigh, my husband has left for Afghanistan for half a year and nothing feels like it is on track. Instead of feeling like I am moving forward I feel like I am slipping, more alone than ever and less and less sure about my decision to separate. From my first night in the new house it has been one problem after another and it’s all I can do to keep chipping away at what at times feels insurmountable. First night it rained and the cockroaches made their appearance. They just came out of the vents, huge, ugly, nasty fuckers. The next night I had bought some natural spray and was ready. Or so I thought. I opened my front door after dark to sit on the porch and about seven roaches ran for the door. I ran for the flashlight and spray and discovered that there were twenty or more on the porch, in my plants, all along the sides of the house. I started to spray, following them with the little beam from my flashlight and when I moved out into the yard some of the craftier ones rushed to the screen door scrambling to get in. To make matters worse the underside of the house is infested with Camel Back Crickets which look like giant spiders that jump around so as I attempted to spray the roaches on the sides of the house the crickets were jumping on me and I didn’t know if it was roaches or crickets. For nearly twenty minutes I yelped and jumped, nearly hyperventilating with fear and adrenaline. I never looked to see if the neighbors were watching. That shook me to the core and set in motion this feeling of instability and doubt. I think that part of the reason it’s hitting me so hard is that I want and need to create this safe, warm, inviting little space for the kids and I amid so much change and uncertainty and I feel like my fortress has been breached and I have no control. So there’s that. Then throw in the fact that we’ve run out of money and it’s thirteen days until we get payed, Zoot took off again at the OLD house and I wasn’t able to find her before we moved, the AC broke, the cat I swore I was bringing back to the shelter peed and pooped on Ev’s bed yesterday, the house is full of boxes to the point where you can hardly move around and truth be told there is only shelves and space for about half the stuff. But amazingly enough I am able to chip away at it. I hung upside down in two feet of space for some time and got the dryer functioning, I got the land lady to send some one over to rake away the two years worth of cockroach infested leaves against the house, the internet was finally connected and all problems resolved, I bought wood and stained it to make my own shelves, I broke down and bought the bad chemicals to spray around the house which seems to be doing the trick with the creepy crawlies and I even manage to laugh a few times a day with the kiddos. So even though the tape won’t hold things on the wall, the nails bend under the hammer, the outlets aren’t updated and I could lose my computer in one of the storms we are getting every few hours, I don’t know how we’ll get money to shop for food until the next paycheck, I have cramps and my forehead has broken out, there is some force so great working within me that I am able to actually get out of bed every morning; even if my first thoughts aren’t rosy they are at the very least coherent and sane. So far. OK, now that I’m halfway through my first cocktail of the evening let’s move on to the good stuff. I’m sitting at my new desk for the first time. After clearing away boxes and clutter and finding a chair, I have my writing station I had envisioned. There is a small window in front of me and the branches from two large oaks grow almost up to it creating a green jungle for me to appreciate while I type. A happy male cardinal just landed on a young branch and we watched each other while he swung up and down in the post storm breeze. Being in a college town I now have a wonderful selection of Public Radio stations and I’ve been enjoying the talk radio especially as it makes me feel like I have company and the weather has been crappy which is actually a good thing since the AC will be down for at least a few more days.

I feel like a stranger in a strange land but I’m fairly confident that I can make a home here. I have a great friend who lives a few miles away and she has invited me into her circle of friends where I have been warmly received. I just want to get to the point where I don’t have to wait for her to host an event to socialize! Jr. High was a lonely, scary hell that I lived through and even benefited from, so I know I can do this. I’m watching the kids run through the house, nimbly avoiding a box here, a sharp corner there, laughing raucously. Despite the incredibly cramped, disorganized quarters, they move free and easy and I think: pay attention-they’re showing you how it’s done.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Girls of Spring

Spring is a time of hope and the promise of life breathed into all that’s dead or dormant. It is the celebrated 're-birth' that warm weather junkies like myself wait for all the cold winter, for Spring heralds Summer. Ahh Summer... How my body yearns to amble instead of speed walk, every muscle in your body tensed in an effort to keep your core warm. Today was warm enough to justify the sundress I wore with black tights and boots. Warmer weather here in my part of Fayetteville returns the prostitutes to the main drag and I’m sucked right back into my morbid fascination bordering on obsession. I scan the sidewalks on Bragg Blvd until I find a likely candidate at which point I use a process of elimination based on my own stereotypes to determine if she is indeed a prostitute or just dressed like one. Fashion is not as reliable as it used to be though. Outfits you’d expect to see on a prostitute are now common place and acceptable at the club and the lines between club and grocery store have become more and more blurred in certain demographics. So if I see a woman that I don’t recognize as one of the regulars, I look for other tell tale signs like how interested she is in the oncoming traffic. Today I saw a very young woman on the Blvd squeezed into ill- fitting dark jeans, a purple t-shirt and knock off Uggs. She was walking with her back to me and didn’t draw my attention until I noticed while waiting at the light, how she kept turning around to look at a man in a truck also waiting at the light. Suddenly I realized she was phishing for a John and I became mesmerized by the brazenness of her stare and the total lack of self-consciousness, sexuality or coyness that I associate with seduction. And yes I do associate a certain amount of self-consciousness with seduction, the more alcohol I’ve consumed the easier it is to get out of my own way, but I am not by nature a very sexually confident person. I’ve also never tried to seduce a male without having some emotional or egotistical investment. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I have scanned a room like I owned it, making eye contact with any male that happened to look back. There was tequila or whiskey involved every time to be sure.

Is this business like approach to getting sex considered seduction? The definitions of the verb 'seduce' are: To attract someone into a belief or course of action that is inadvisable or foolhardy; entice into sexual activity or to attract powerfully. I guess that what they're doing is considered seduction though I personally fail to see anything sexy about it. Once she gets in the car does she make eye contact? Does she smile and try to make him feel at ease? After finding out what he wants does she give him a list of don'ts? What would be on that list? Does she get sore- I mean how many men can she comfortably have intercourse with in one day? Does she pretend to enjoy it in hopes of gaining a repeat customer? How many time will she run into a customer at Walmart or Waffle House and how does it make her feel? You see now what I mean by near obsession don't you?
I think part of the reason I'm so curious about it is that sex has been such a troublesome subject in my marriage the past five years or so. It's such a production for me to get in the mood and mainly I would do it because I wanted to keep the peace. Finally I stopped altogether because I was so emotionally and physically removed from the act that it felt nearly like what I imagined prostituting to feel like. That was within the safety of a monogamous marriage with a partner that cared greatly whether I was enjoying myself or not, so imagining what it would be like with a multitude of strangers who could care less about me, who might smell god awful, call me names like bitch, slut and whore while they slammed themselves into me again and again heedless of the pain, is very burdensome.
Most of the regulars hang out at one gas station and keep themselves drunk or effed up on something and I understand why. There's no other way to get through a day like that. One of the regulars looks to be about my age and is the most far gone. She is tall and lanky with closely cropped black hair and dresses like a street punk from New Orleans. She does not possess what I would call a 'come hither' presence which has led me to think that her tricks must be more of the blow job type. She was out at the station the other day with another woman at about 11am and had already tied on a powerful buzz. She jerks and lurches around with grand gestures and a masculine swagger. She is puzzling and maddeningly intrigues me. I will never know the type of life or the choices that led her to half madness, to her pre-noon drunkenness, to the fate that awaits her, arriving in rusty pick up trucks, shiny new mustangs and caprice classics jacked up on 24 inch spinners. I just watch her from behind the safety of my sunglasses and when my tank is full I get into my luxury car glance at my two beautiful children in the rearview and drive on to my warm home where I feel safe and loved, respected and needed. I look for her ever time I pull off of Johnson and I haven't seen her in weeks. This seems to be normal, to disappear for several weeks, maybe working a different part of town or being trafficked somewhere else. I will never know her story but she has irrevocably and unknowingly become a part of mine. I hope one day to turn this guilty fascination into something more powerful, a way to say to women like her-"I see you, I recognize you as a sister, how are you today?" For now I will use her memory to re-enforce my appreciation for the way my life has written itself so far and watch from the stoplight, windows down, the Girls of Spring turning tricks while all around them delicate buds on trees prepare to open and seduce the bees into pollinating the neighborhood. And so the world goes round.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Don't Count Your Chickens...

I’ve got blisters on my fingers from learning chords on the guitar, darker hair cause I discovered some new grays and a ball of ugly emotion right in my core. I’m working hard to release that ball before it wins the whole day. My husband got the call yesterday that his deployment got pushed back from March to July. Just like that. How many things were riding on that initial March date? How many decisions were made based on that March date? How many sacrifices did that March date require of me? It just serves as a reminder that no matter what, I cannot live this military lifestyle any longer. It is not in my nature to play second fiddle. It is not acceptable to know that my plans, no matter the importance, are not considered by those who hand out the orders. Ah well, life doesn’t play by rules when handing out the orders or consider everybody’s plans so I need to button it.

I went to see ‘Crazy Heart’ on Sunday night. Great movie, great sound track. I had some time to kill before the movie started so I decided to do a little work. I write an entertainment blog for a local glossy and basically get paid to visit bars and restaurants where I am given entrees and drinks and then write a review on the ambience, cuisine, crowd etc… They have me on a project while I’m here promoting a city-wide cocktail competition that will be featured in their May food and wine issue. I’ll get to pick the top ten winners and there will be a photographer to chronicle my sipping escapades. So I decided to pop into a few bars to drop off my card and recruit for participants. The first place I stopped at is a biker bar and as soon as I pulled into the parking lot about 14 bikers pull up in their colors. There were about 12 more already in the small bar when I walked in and it occurred to me that some one raised differently from myself might not have been as comfortable sauntering into this particular atmosphere. Alone. But hell I’m from NH and grew up around burly, nasty looking men in denim and leather so I can hold my own and at the very least appear confident. Second place I visited is what I like to call your basic, square bar. Small and square with one window and the light from one door. Old men with their cans of beer snuggled in their own koozies they brought from home. Coupla drunk Mexican men walk in trying to act sober enough to get some beers.. A pool table is squeezed in one corner and the players are good naturedly vying with other patrons for space to shoot. And there’s this great band playing all my favorite classic rock tunes so I have to stay for a beer. The band is comprised mostly of middle-aged men but the bassist is some young stud in sunglasses. They’ve got talent and a hell of a lot of love for these old tunes and I quite enjoyed myself. The really, really old man to my right identified himself as ‘Peanut’ and a manager of the bar. He had a koozy full and one on ice in his little beer bucket in front of him at the bar. There was a constant variety of patrons coming up and buying him a beer so that little bucket always had one chilling. Then one of the patrons was nice enough to replenish my beer as well as Peanuts’. His name was Bill and Bill is a skydiver. Bill seems to eat, drink and sleep skydiving. Bill talked to me about skydiving for a long time. A long time.

Now that’s the kind of review I wish I could write but the magazine is pre-tty conservative so my blogs are basically like advertisements for the places. Today is a crappy, rainy day. Even the kitties are choosing to sleep away the gloomy hours. There’s the occasional flash of red or blue in our yard of a cardinal or bluebird. I can hear the rain dripping on the flower boxes outside and our wind chimes are working overtime. I can get through today, hopefully with some grace and positivity and tomorrow I am attending women’s group for dinner and a break dancing competition in Raleigh. I’ll spend the night with my friend T, have coffee in the morning and take my time instead of rushing back like I usually do. That will recharge me enough so that I can resume chugging along towards god know what. But hey- I got to rub elbows with an ancient man named Peanut, drink some beers, eat some pretzels, listen to a live version of ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ and now possess a walking wealth of information about skydiving. Life ain’t all that bad.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Coming in Last

Well, as much as I’m tempted, I can’t really glamorize where I’ve been as of late. I am faltering and not feeling strong this week. I am scared of how hard life will be when I’m on my own, a single mother of two children with no college education and no savings. I’m overwhelmed with how much there is to do here in this house and by how much of it is falling on just me. My husband is gone all this week and then home for a few weeks before shipping off to Afghanistan for six months. I will need to have this house in tip top shape and be all moved out by April 1. I’m searching Craig’s list every day but of course unable to view any of the apartments as I am many States away. Where and how everything will fall together is so unclear and all this uncertainty is taking a heavy toll on my mental well-being. I am not able to go to yoga which my body and mind are screaming for, I am binging nearly every night on Cheez-its, chocolate chip cookies, ice cream etc…. I even bought Cool-Whip the other day. I hate Cool-Whip!!! I am not spending quality time with the kids aside from bed time, I am short tempered with them and totally unequipped for this awful angry phase that Everett is going through. I can barely keep myself in check and I have this screaming, hateful 5 1/2 year old stomping around the house all day. I’m desperately unhappy right now. If I just had one person to help me every day, this would feel manageable. Looking around my room right now makes me want to crawl under my covers- there’s so much shit to deal with and add to that five more rooms left to deal with!!! My brain tends to shut down and isn’t inclined towards organization.

My husband and I have fallen into a strange existence together. Upon arriving home I was caught off guard by a great sexual desire that arose in me. Thus when he made the first move I was more than agreeable. We made love twice in one night and let me tell you: that ain’t happened since before I got pregnant the first time. I sincerely wanted to hold him and to be held. We watched movies together and snuggled with arms, legs and fingers entwined. For two days this stuck and then there was some small spat and the bubble was popped. Now I’m back to being disappointed at things he hasn’t done and responsibilities he’s not on top of. The sex drive is back to where ever it’s been all these years. After two months of living in near isolation at my nana’s, being totally broke and grieving the loss of this marriage and friendship, I really needed to be held and he’s been my rock and safe haven for so long; he’s a good lover and knows my body and the way we fit best. I do not think that I would have been able to feel desire if there were not an impending separation. Just driving up to the house took some wind out of my sails because of all the unhappiness, disorganization and stalemate existence that it represents.

Now a little joy is creeping into my heart because I am reminded of the fuller life in NH that awaits my arrival. I will have friends for dinner! I can have birthday parties for the kids! I can call up dozens of people on any given night and say, “Hey want to go see some kick ass blue grass tonight?”

This morning my breath was so awful that I wondered how I could ever have another lover. Am I going to have to wake up at 3am to brush my teeth again so when he rolls over at 7 he’s not bowled out of bed? Do I have to go back to agonizing when I unexpectedly have to take a shit at his house? What about broccoli farts and ass zits? Oh my god. I’m terrified. This is why women stay in unhappy relationships! I am destined to be a pariah in the dating scene…. Eff it. I learned everything I need to know when I was eleven. Wink wink.

**************************Phone call with N *****************************

You can’t hear it but I just let out an audible sigh of release. N gave me a much needed reminder that I am only a human mama and I am doing the best I can under difficult circumstances and it won’t last FOREVER! So what if the kids watch too many movies, so what if I don’t go for a walk everyday, so what if I can’t give everybody my best this month. I have to get through this part and then through the next part and then life will start to resemble something more peaceful with a routine and a rhythm and then I can worry about reaching super mom status. Man was I lost in that self-deprecating sea.

There have been some humorous moments in the past few days that should not go un noted. My cat Zoot, who is going on 10, suffered a most undignified failing of her bodily functions the other night. Whilst snuggling in bed I glanced over to see flecks of diarrhea on the sheet next to my shoulder that had not been there seconds before. My glance immediately zeroed in on Zoot’s bum and confirmed the source. Poor Zoot had sharted and was completely oblivious to the fact. I reached for a tissue to wipe the small amount on her bum before she could sit on my duvet and it wasn’t until I began cleaning her did she catch a waft and investigate. Skip ahead two days and I am on the phone with my father. My nose begins to run and I reach for a tissue that had fallen between the bed and my nightstand. As soon as my snot wetted the tissue the substance already residing there was revived and identified itself as- you guessed it- cat diarrhea. This reminds me of the only segment of the “Jeff Foxworthy Show” worth remembering- ‘Tell me that don’t stank.’

Ok- time to get out of my bathrobe and see what the little heathens have been up to downstairs. Such a huge part of me doesn’t want to know….

Monday, February 8, 2010

Doing the Black Dog Jig

If ever I needed a patron saint of stressed out women with two kids trying to leave the state so she can pack up her house and finalize a separation, but can’t due to multiple snow storms; I do now!!!! I have spent the past few days storing my things away neatly here to please my mom, cleaning up, packing what we’ll bring with us to NC, finalizing travel plans and I’m literally on the road this morning when our accommodation plans fall through. So I turned the car around and here I am at my Nana’s once again. At least it’s clean. But then all the kids toys are packed away and I have no wine!! Ok… I am not going to let the negativity win…. we may have less than two hundred dollars in the bank right now but I can’t sink! I’m trying to change my patterns. My inclination, with depression, is to passively allow myself to go with it, to float slowly down and down, to feel it as completely and thoroughly as possible. It could take hours or days for it to cycle through and while I’m in ‘The Black Dog’s’ clutches I may be lethargic, anxiety ridden, short tempered, self-conscious, or all of the above. I definitely tend to be more creative when I’m full of sorrow. I’m starting to realize that I cannot continue this pattern, that it is very selfish of me to allow myself to descend so easily. I shouldn’t expect my children to adapt to this or to fend for themselves while I’m unable to deal. This is not the history I want written in their future journals or therapy sessions. I know that depression is a part of me and will never cease to be an issue but I can fight it when I feel it coming on! This morning in the car I forced myself to smile instead of cussing out the world and my chest felt less tight almost immediately. I will always feel things deeply and empathetically but I don’t have to own all the sadness in the world. And when it comes to love and attraction, I don’t have to be a moth, distracted from its course by every shiny light. Now that I’m getting ‘freedom’ from my marriage I feel a little giddy, unstable and untrusting of my sensibilities. I need a sexy sequined pair of blinders to keep me on task! I already have exemplified how terrible I am at playing hard to get (J) and am in danger of compromising my inner guide with some one else I haven’t introduced yet. I’ll call him Doc, which is how I addressed him seven years ago when I worked for him. He has been a great comfort to me this past month; he’s made me laugh, taken me to dinner and has been adjusting the kids and I for free which is a tremendous gift. He also is very interested in me romantically which I can’t fully reciprocate. I’ll admit that when we first kissed the night we went to dinner, I was totally living out a fantasy I’d had when I worked for him but passionately, it ended there for me. We recently went to his house for pizza and a movie (he has a son two years older than mine) and when the kids were out of the room he’d rub my back or play with my hair and we kissed a few times. Honestly, it felt nice to sink back into some ones chest, to feel that strength and steadiness. It was a relief! It was a reprieve from the loneliness of my days and the stress of holding it all together for the kids and I. But I have to be so careful not to allow this to go beyond what I want and what I can give. I don’t want to get myself right into another situation where I can’t give a man what he wants! My economy can’t handle another deficit.
The good (?) news is that my sexuality is alive and kicking again. There was some down and dirty blues playing on the radio last night and my thoughts went to J (am I crazy or what?). This was some hair pullin’ hip grindin’ blues and that’s exactly what was going on in my mind. At least I know that my body isn’t dead but does it have to respond to some guy all the way in Northern California who has a girlfriend?! I totally jumped the gun with J by saying in an email that ‘the odds are once again stacked against us’. Which implies that he was even contemplating an ‘us’. We’ve emailed some more but he has yet to respond to that particular one. True to my old form I am incapable of being appropriately disinterested and always put myself in a vulnerable position before I’ve even tested the ground. But as I was saying to my friend N this morning, I have never been good at it, I have zero interest in aspiring to be good at it and if a man can’t or won’t appreciate this quality in me then eff it! (The next time I’m curled under the kitchen table with a bottle of whiskey because I’ve scared off another man will you kindly remind me that I feel this way)
N gently reminded me that perhaps he doesn’t think I’ve jumped the gun at all, he could be processing, or simply not know what to say. Actually the reply he sent to that email was simply a black and white photo of a dead plant intertwined amongst barbed wire with the ocean in the back round. I sent him photos of wire cutters and a watering can. See- I’m changing my patterns! I’m not throwing that Black Dog a bone. Heel Boy!

Friday, February 5, 2010


I just haven’t been able to write this past week. I am struggling to hold it all together and it feels like I am going to blow or break down but I keep on keeping on. Same old same old in a different house. I had it right the first couple weeks here, I had my little routine and I was writing nearly every day. Then I discovered that I can hop on an internet connection in the neighborhood and that routine was totally disrupted. My correspondence with J has me checking my email every half hour or less and because we’ve been poor and housebound for so long I am desperate again for the social networking of FB. I’m all off track. Over the weekend my son very nearly set himself and the house on fire (only my duvet cover burned) and that experience plummeted me into a dark funk. The next day my mom informed me that a friend of ours was diagnosed with less than two months to live because of a cancer they thought was gone. It had quietly invaded her insides and while she and her husband bought tickets to Puerto Rico, while she was cross-country skiing not two weeks ago, it was working its dark magic on her stomach. By the time she felt the pain it was too late. She and her husband have been my mother’s landlords for twenty-four years now. They live simply in a little house that he built with wood from their beautiful land. There are no electric lines running down the road and they have always used wind and solar to power the house. They’ve known me since I was eight. They found out the terrible news on Friday and she decided that while she was still with her facilities, she wants visitors. The kids and I drove to my mom’s cabin on Sunday afternoon, bundled up and walked up the dirt road. Neither my mother nor I could stop the tears and we walked silently with a comforting arm around each others waists. I thought of all the years and countless times I’d walked this road and how long it had been since I’d done it last. How far and fast we grow from people, even familiar people, when we hit puberty and gain a social life. Suddenly, in a situation like this, you are reminded how much a person means to you and how much you love them. It’s like a distilled experience, a distilled emotion because there is no longer the luxury of time stretching out indefinitely ahead of you in which you may have the opportunity to reminisce and express your love.
As we neared the little red house I prepared myself to follow her lead and I’ll admit it was a little scary waiting at the door, hoping you don’t break down in tears. Her husband opened the door and welcomed us into their warm, sunny home. There is beautiful wood through out the house, his loving craftsmanship in every detail. There is the smell of a homemade soup simmering and not an ounce of doom or gloom in the air. We pile into the sunny sitting room and when she rises to greet us I see how skinny she is, her eyes even bigger behind her glasses, but she is still beautiful in her serene way. The kids dig into the stuffed animals, unaware of any elephants in the room and we settle down with ginger tea and talk of Mongolia, where they had traveled in recent years and then more close friends arrive who have all known me since I was small. The atmosphere remained upbeat as if they were throwing a little mid-winter social instead of hosting friends who where there to say goodbye.
When the kids started to get too high maintenance I knew it was time to go and silently, as if on cue, the other guests quietly left the room when she stood to hug me. “You’re wonderful”, she said as we embraced and we held each other for a long time. I went into the other room to get a letter I had written her and as I reached for my bag I lost my composure and a sob escaped me. There was silence around me and someone lovingly rubbed my back while I took in a deep breath and struggled to compose myself. She was sitting quietly on the couch when I re-entered and I know she must have heard my cry but she showed no outward sign of it.
What I wrote in my letter to her was everything I needed and wanted to say. How much I love her, how she affected me and resides in me. She sent her husband up the driveway yesterday to deliver a card for me via my mother. What she wrote I want to keep private but she ended by saying, “ I love you too and I’m so grateful that we’ve had this opportunity to share what has always been in our hearts.”
I’ve probably lost three pounds of water weight from the tears that won’t stop leaking out and hours of sleep, laying and processing the whole thing. I think of what they lay awake at night discussing; how she wants to live her remaining days, how she wants to die, sorting out the business of death: wills, memorial, etc… I think of her husband who is being so brave and is not thinking about himself, “I’ll worry about myself later, right now this is about her.” he told my mom. They have lived just the two of them, in love, for so many years. They have a small table in their kitchen, just big enough for two.
I think it’s amazing how she is choosing to live her last days and I can’t help but wonder how I would live mine. It certainly encourages me to keep living authentically and to speak what is in my heart because we aren’t always forewarned that time is running out. Really we have so little to lose by speaking or doing what is in our hearts when compared to how much we stand to lose if we don’t.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Descent from the summit

‘I think you are the sweetest, kindest, dearest, loveliest, most thoughtful, best looking and most loveable girl in the whole world. I love you with all the strength that is in me.’
-Dean P. Stiles to Marion E. Davison, April 1945

‘What I want to convey in this note is that my thoughts have been filled with you constantly since Sunday night and that the days have seemed dreadfully long, I’ve missed you so. Already tonight I miss you voice. Somehow the day doesn’t seem complete. I wonder where you are and what you are doing. Are you thinking of me? I love to spend my waking hours each day running over and over again the things we have done together, the things you have said to me and to recall every wonderful moment you have been in my arms. I do believe I remember every little detail. Yes, I even remember that the big toe on each of your feet is relatively shorter than the one next to it.’
-Dean P. Stiles to Marion E. Davison July 1944

‘Can you keep a secret? You can? Well, I love you, sweetheart, so much in fact that these words form with my every breath. May my love for you keep you warm and close to me. I’ll be with you soon.’
-Dean P. Stiles to Marion Davison July 1944

All these love letters and twenty something years worth of birthday, anniversary, Easter and Mothers Day cards, stored away in boxes all over the house. Love. It can be so ephemeral! It can build you up and break you down in a day. I found a card sent from my Grandfather Dean to my Nana after twenty something years of marriage that read on the front- “Can we get together on this?”. When you open it up there is a picture of a bed and it’s signed, your loving and hopeful hubby. He sent it from the post office in their town to the house they shared. Weird. And sad. And damn if history doesn’t repeat itself!! My husband hasn’t had a regular sex life in years. Poor guy… Anyway, the infamous story is that when my Grandfather left my Nana, he threw a book at her that he had bought full of new sexual positions he hoped they could try. My Nana was crippled with arthritis and probably depression and my Grandfather was sexually frustrated and unhappy with the way his life had turned out. Love in all its new beginnings is so Utopian but loves’ decline is anything but idyllic.

My husband told me last night that he’s been spending time with a woman he met. Not official dates, just getting together and talking. I didn’t feel a shock or jolt of pain. I felt calm and actually happy for him. Huh. I mean that says a lot right? But I also have some excitement going on here so maybe that’s why I’m so OK with it?
This guy that I fell head over heels in love with during a summer spent in Oregon eleven years ago, recently opened a FB account just to find me. I mean this guy……… I haven’t ever really gotten over the sense that I missed out on something big with him. Total unrequited love. He, (I’ll call him J), had a girlfriend when I met him but the draw we felt towards one another was so strong that he told his girlfriend he needed to spend time with me to figure out what was going on. She gave him her blessing and I’ll always admire her for that very strong and difficult decision. We only spent time alone on two occasions and kissed with sweet longing and immense restraint. We jumped into a freezing lake and collapsed laughing and shivering on our towels. We lay on our bellies, shoulders touching and talked for hours. On the drive home that day he reached silently across the car and ran his fingers down the entire length of my arm to my fingertips. I can still remember how my arm tingled and practically burned from his touch. Then she recanted and made him choose. He chose her and rightfully so. I was devastated and spent the last three weeks crying myself to sleep and slept with some dude who was just that- some dude. At the end of my last day of work at the resort lodge, I called the bellhop service for a ride to the golf course where the car I shared with friends was parked. Who should show up to get me but J. I walked to the back of the shuttle van, the only passenger in there and sat with arms crossed in the very back. He drove me in silence for most of the way and suddenly pulled off to the side of the road practically skidding to a halt. I can’t remember if he turned to face me or if he spoke to my reflection in the rear-view mirror but he told me that he needed for me to know, with out a doubt, before I left, that the decision had been very difficult for him and that he cared for me very much. That he thought about me every day even though he couldn’t call. He delivered me to the golf course, I hugged him goodbye, flew back to Boston the next day and that was eleven years ago.

He ended up marrying her. She asked for a divorce a few years ago. Now he writes me out of the blue and our emails have that same veiled excitement that our conversations did all those years ago. The excitement that comes from wanting and finding yourself able to discuss anything and everything with a matched wit, imagination and intelligence. Then he tells me in his last email that he has a girlfriend out there that he got together with shortly after his divorce, who followed him from New Orleans to northern California. He intimates his unease at not feeling sure that she is the one he wants to marry and have children with. She wants this with him and he wonders if he is being unrealistic and selfish in holding out for that ‘mind bending’ love as he calls it. Oh man… My heart fell about three stories when I read this. He has a girlfriend. Pffffft. But then this is the shit I’ve been thinking about and writing about every day for years now, so you can only imagine the lengthy email I sent out in response.

I don’t want to be let down again. Nor do I want to be used like a sandbag on his scale so he can determine how much he loves this woman. But I also don’t want to let him slip away again if this is life yelling in my face. Maybe as we communicate more I’ll realize he’s a total dork, or he’s way into God, or he’s too straight laced for me. Or maybe I’ll just tell him to get some balls, take the reigns and come for a visit to New England.
But just as ephemeral as love can be, it can also suddenly sprout the most tenacious roots that declare permanence. It remains to be seen what will happen between J and his lover or what he wants from me. Just one more thing for me to add to the list of uncertainties that make up my present and future. This afternoon I will continue to immerse myself in the lives of my grandparents, whose future has already become their past, the last chapters already written. THERE is something I can hang my hat on-a future that I know awaits me with absolute certainty: a final chapter. Here’s to a damn good read until then!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Guess I'm Doin' Fine

The kids and I have been on self imposed exile after being exposed to a nasty virus that sent my uncles wife to the hospital with dehydration. Today is day five and even though the sun is shining I'm feeling burnt out and low on patience. My husband has come around and now wants us back to the house for the month and a half before he deploys and even though this was what I originally wanted, now I feel like it's throwing me off kilter. As painful as these past weeks have been for he and I, the pain was essential to create boundaries and new relationship definitions. I am weary and wary in the knowledge that this stay together is going to throw us right back to point A. I'm anxious to put down roots and get a rhythm going with the kids, to organize play dates and reunite with my friends around here. Instead I am picking up yet again and leaving. Ultimately it is not about me though, it is about the kids being able to see their father before he deploys and one doesn't have to expound on the importance of that, one just puts their own feelings aside and makes it happen. It also give me needed time to pack up the house, get rid of shit and clean for the showings. If we are able to find good tenants then there is a chance we might get our deposit back which considering our financial situation right now, would greatly help us. I can't remember the last time I was so broke. It hasn't been without it's benefits though. Strangely, it has been freeing. No longer a slave to guilt inducing impulsive buys and the hollowness that followed those purchases, I am finding little pleasures in the money I am saving by not shopping at Hanafords or the co-op. I am trying to make crock pot meals stretch for the week and baking goodies instead of buying them. The flip side is that I can't afford a babysitter (now that I actually have one in the area) and I can't afford the gas money to drive to see the friends I have been missing so much. But I wake every morning in a lovely house that is a safe haven from the cold and I have the luxury of a laptop and pirated internet signal. I have French Roast and free range eggs in the morning and a park up the street where the kids and I can sled or ice skate. I have friends calling to offer their tireless support and love and little windfalls keep coming my way. Returning to the house one snowy night there was a package by the door with my name on it. A new friend had seen my face book post bemoaning the onset of a cold and had sent me a whole slew of get-well goodies from I was totally blown away by this act of generosity. The items inside the box are only part of the gift, her reaching out and offering her support fortified me immensely. Yesterday while going through yet another box of stuff in my nana's home, I found a letter from a friend dated in 2007 that I had never received. Inside was a message of such love and support and affirmation that it seems like it was meant for today. I am thankful for these unexpected gifts. I am also thankful for marajuana and white wine. I am thankful for hot showers and snow down the back of my pants. I am thankful for the little peals of laughter from the living room. I am thankful for the picture I have propped up next to my computer, my nana's beautiful smile encouraging me to write every sentence. I am thankful for mysteries and for not feeling the need to solve every single one. I am thankful for walks on warm nights and the feel of silk on my naked skin. I am thankful for my mother's music and the freedom of dance. I am enraged by big business customer service, devoid of humanity. I am overwhelmed by Haiti and all the desperation, need and loss around the world. I am scared of never being successful. I am jealous of those I perceive as having it 'easy'. I am confused about love. I am disappointed in the size of my breasts and probably always will be. I'm annoyed by religious people knocking on my door (when I am greasy and disheveled), bringing a message out of the goodness of their hearts, of impending doom and damnation. Can't they see I'm having a hard enough time preparing myself for TODAY? Like the seasons and cycles I was born into, I am balanced by positive and negative, gain and loss, potential and collapse, generosity and materialism, optimism and despair. I am perfectly imperfect.

'Well, my road might be rocky,
The stones might cut my face.
My road it might be rocky,
The stones might cut my face.
But as some folks ain't got no road at all,
They gotta stand in the same old place.
Hey, hey, so I guess I'm doin' fine.'
Bob Dylan from 'Guess I'm Doin' Fine'

Monday, January 18, 2010

I too have a dream

On NPR this morning a Reverend Kyle noted that so often pioneers don’t live to walk the trails they blaze. Kyle was with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the day he was shot. My mind skipped back to something Elizabeth Gilbert said on ‘The Exchange’ the other morning, about marriage and how in essence, we are all pioneers of modern marriage right now. She said that we really only have two generations of women to model ourselves after, who have married with equal rights and choices. And because of this marriage is still evolving and we are in the thick of it. I nodded my head in agreement over the sink of dishes I was tackling. This is partly what I touched on in one of my earlier blog posts: that the multitude of choices women have now can negatively affect our success in long term relationships. I just hadn’t thought about it the way she presented it, that we have so little in the way of role models, that we are the pioneers. It would make sense then that women can feel so lonely and isolated in their desires for an alternative kind of marriage or for freedom from their marriage simply to pursue some of these choices we now have. Choices that guide us closer to ourselves. In our great grandmothers day, it was bona fide scandal if a woman left her husband-especially if it was for another man. Depending on where she lived and who she was, she could lose her children, reputation and social standing for choosing selfhood or passion over wedlock. Wedlock. What a terrible word. Implying that there is a lock holding two together, also implies that there must be a key. Who is the holder of the key? I wonder if I will ever get to pioneer by example before I die. Will I ever test or achieve the relationship I envision? Will I see in my lifetime the necessary major shift of consciousness surrounding marriage? I wholeheartedly support wanting and having a till death do us part relationship. I think cohesive, successful ones greatly benefit society. Our society’s inability to adapt it’s thinking and teaching of marriage will only allow for its continued decline. History has taught us so many times it’s hardly necessary to point it out again, that failure to adapt results in extinction. So why don’t we start with early education. Teach children that a ‘normal’ marriage might consist of two people keeping separate bedrooms. Not for a lack of intimacy between them, but in the interest of achieving intimacy with themselves, to satisfy a need for personal space, to provide a retreat, a place for expression through the chosen color of paint, textiles, artwork etc. A ‘normal’ marriage may work best when the couple sees each other one or two weeks out of a month. A ‘normal’ marriage may facilitate sabbaticals so to speak. I would like children to learn that monogamy and marriage are not about owning another person literally or figuratively, that it is about supporting and helping your loved one live a fulfilling life that is guided by an internal compass and expecting the same in return. I would like to steer love and ego in separate directions- like state and church they shouldn’t be mixed.
I have the basic outline for what I consider to be the New Marriage but I still need to meditate on the fillers. For example, teaching myself how to be productive and self reliant when my lover is off on sabbatical or, back it up, when I am newly dating and waiting around for that phone call, that assurance I am so used to seeking. I realize this is all big talk from some one petrified of even dating! One of these days it will be time to step down from my soapbox and conduct some trial runs and I imagine I will fail more than once. The early American settlers lost many lives to the winters of this strange new land and we all know what atrocities the survivors went on to commit. I pray my own errors will not wipe out any chance my children have of achieving healthy love. If I do not ever get to walk the trail I am helping to blaze, I hope that my children can, that at the very least the path if not paved, will be well trodden.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Marie Curie ain't got nothin' on me

There are times when I wouldn’t want to hire myself to babysit my own children. I can get almost a perverse, teenage pleasure from mimicking their high whiney voices until they break down in tears. A couple times I’ve pushed to get an emotional response from my son when he didn’t cry about something truly sad or upsetting. I think I was honestly worried that he might be unable to have a sad emotional release. Mothers are underpaid under-recognized and let’s face it- sometimes unqualified, anthropologists. We are scientists shoved into the field armed only with our limited life experiences and what we consider right and wrong as a result of those experiences. We are alchemists pulling elements off the shelves adding a dash of discipline, a cup of love, with a blueprint hanging on the wall reminding us of the anticipated, magnificent end result. The culmination of our blood, sweat, tears, love, heartache, mistakes and well meaning. How often we have to remind ourselves that the original essence we’ve been amalgamating, in many ways identical to our own, is also many parts it’s own unique substance entirely alien to us. One wrong ingredient could fuck the whole thing up! Sounds like a dream job doesn’t it. To be quite honest there are days when I don’t want the damn job. Get. Me. Out. Of. Here. Just let me fly free for a few days, a week, a month. Just lighten my load so I can think for a while. What I wouldn’t give sometimes to be my old girl self, before the preoccupation with boys turned me into a sullen, depressed, pimply pain in the ass. To be the confident, curious, energetic girl who spent all day in the woods amusing herself. To sit by the side of a secret stream, on a moss covered rock, hugging my knees, inhaling the scent of their sun-warmed skin.
I sat with that too long and now I’m crying… Grief is a funny thing. It runs on it’s own schedule. You thought the last train came five years ago and suddenly you have to dive off the tracks to avoid that roaring, steel, harbinger of memory and you’re left to nurse the resulting cuts and scrapes. I’ve always been overly nostalgic and I do grieve for that childhood never to return. I grieve that I only travel farther and farther from ‘her’ and closer and closer to frailty and infirmity. I could really use some more celebration in my life. I could use some belly laughs, some wicked mirth, some gentle words, a long hug, some sister love. Right now I’m broke as a joke and the phone brings me my friends. Once I have a little gas money though I am going to buckle the kids in and aim my wheels towards the nearest warm kitchen. Keep a light on ladies.
It sounds like the kids movie has ended, time to drag myself back to the lab. Maybe I should focus more on my own concoction today. Let’s see: a cup of patience, a gallon of optimism to balance the brooding, a dash of contentment to cure the malaise and enough wisdom and perseverance to keep the whole thing from fermenting. Let’s hope it doesn’t blow up in my face.