Sunday, April 3, 2011

Letter to my Family

Dear family members who read my blog, Got a call from Mom today. And two yesterday. She wants to talk to me. I e-mailed with her last week. She knows I am having a lot of problems. She wants me to come home for awhile. She has promised me sleep! Plenty of work-out time! Food I don't have to cook! I am putting this off because I don't want her to see me when I'm not good. She blames the cancer. I plowed on ahead when I should have rested, physically and emotionally, according to her. I contend that we are giving way to much power to the amputation of a body part. Why am I writing to you? Somebody spilled the beans about my marriage to Mom. I know who DIDN'T tattle on me: Charles. He got in touch and asked when I wanted to tell her. I asked him to hold off mentioning it while I got my shit together. I realize that a blog is not truly private, and so I'm not mad, exactly. But please be careful what you tell Mom. I process my feelings on my blog, so nothing I write here is definitive. Decisions, once they are made? That's what Facebook is for! Why am I writing here, and not on my new blog? I don't want to send any family to the new blog for exactly this reason. If you talk to Mom about me again, here's the message: I'm fine. I am going to pull through. Recovery sponsored in part by New Balance, Jack Daniels, Castle Creek, Tex's Riverways and Guadalupe School. I will be in touch when I am better. She does not need to worry.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Love Note to my Old Blog

I miss you, blog! I have my new place set up to look a lot like this, but I still find myself wandering back here every day. This is where my good writing is. Mwah!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Check Out Our New Location

It's a safe place, beyond the reach of a once-trusted friend who manipulated, then casually discarded me.

Was it REALLY so bad that I need to close a blog that I have maintained this long? Yes. Shocking. I am still in shock.

But I need to write. I really need to write, if I'm going to emerge whole someday.

And I need the rest of you guys. I have never met Amrita, Maria, Dave, Nikki, Luz, JYankee or Katherine; but we've been friends for a long time. If I could (like in Willy Wonka) send boxes of chocolates through cyber-space to thank you for being such awesome friends, I would do it.

So let's ditch this taco stand. I already have a nice URL that I'm making cozy for us. Here's the escape plan:

Followers: There are 14 of you. I'll contact you individually with the new URL.

Blog-buddies from my blog-roll: I'll visit you on your blogs.

Personal friends, non-blogging friends (Amy, Lisa, John, Angie, etc....): I'll e-mail you or reach you on Facebook.

There are a few of you that are hard to reach, but I would love to keep you if I can (Gibbonesque, Kate, my lovely lurkers from Portland, Iowa, the UK , France). The only solution I can think of is for you to e-mail me if you'd be so kind...

I hope you'll stick with me.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Moving On

I've been writing this blog for almost four years. I'm stopping now.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nose for No

Let me tell you something interesting I learned in graduate school that I now see played out in my regular life: language change primarily originates with girls in the age group pictured above. Scary, huh? This is true of shifts in vowel height (I did a study on that years ago), grammar, and introduction of new words. Don't even get me started on slang.

It was dreaded Girl Scout Cookie Booth day yesterday, and Sara and I were rostered from 3:00-6:00. We need to sell a lot of cookies if we want to go to San Luis Obispo in June. Our share of the take from a single box of cookies? Forty cents. So I should be gung-ho about the cookie table. We got a good gig, too: Dan's Foods. Only the State Liquor Store would be better. Or the Alta parking lot, maybe. My attitude was not the best, though. Yesterday was a very rough day for me, heartache-wise. When beating the shit out of the heartbreak monster, go in armed with more than a box of cookies. Sadness makes me sleepy - I could barely stay awake while I was driving over there. And then I found that Julia, the troop leader, had set up the table outside. Brrrrr... I hopped and paced with my hands in my pockets. It's not very fun work. The boredom was only broken up by occasional sweet spots:

1. The lady who bought out our entire supply of Do-Si-Dos, then opened a box on the spot so she could have one. She offered one to the guy next to her as well.

2. The gentleman who returned to buy cookies after he had completed his shopping. I saw him and said, "Ha! I knew you'd be back!" and winked at him. He clutched his chest and said, "Woman! You send Cupid's arrow straight through my heart!" I sent him on his way with lots of cookies, but without my phone number.

3. The annual visit from my friend "Uncle" Alan. Our kids have lots of "aunts" and "uncles". He has known the location and time frame of Sara's cookie stint for weeks. He showed up declaring loudly, "I'M HEEEEERE!" He stayed for a good half-hour, bugging Sara. Asking for a senior citizens discount. Cash discount? He eats all the samples: "Yummmmmmmy!" Thank goodness he really buys a lot of cookies, because he also drives Sara ape-shit.

Things got slow, though. We were cold and bored. Our legs ached from standing on the concrete. We had one of those signs like the Little Caesar's employees use to advertise on the street corners. One girl said, "Somebody should go out and dance with that sign."
"I donwanna."
"I donwanna."
"'kay. Nose for no." Everyone's fingers touched their noses. Except for mine and Julia's. "What're you guys doing?"
"Nose for no. Last person to touch their nose has to do it." During the questioning, Julia's finger had stolen to her nose, leaving only me. Well, I didn't know about "nose for no". How could I know? Let's do it again. Uh, no.

Fine. I picked up the sign and went to a very visible place. I can take a dare, and luckily, I can still bust a move. I made sure to grab my crotch, shake my ass, moonwalk, play air guitar on the sign, etc... Well, it made my legs feel better, and I was most gratified when I turned around to see that Sara, face purple, had hidden under the table completely.

I got the girls to choreograph and dance to a song as well. Well, kind of a song. It went "Girl Scout Cookies. Aaaahhhhh / Girl Scout Cookies. Aaahhhh" That's what they are doing above.

So, yesterday was bad. But you can't dance sad. At least I can't, so I had a couple moments of relief there. And, since Si is gone (he doesn't eat pizza), we got a couple of Wasatch Pizzas to eat as soon as we walked in the door. As I sat down and picked up a warm piece of pizza in one hand and a bottle of Bobsled Ale in the other, I felt 5 seconds of relief there, too. I latch on to anything I can find. We have Girl Scout cookies, too.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Shelter from the Storm

This post took a while to write; it was painful and I was not really up to the task. I couldn't wrangle my language. Si is gone for the weekend, staying at his job. I am trying to recover my tranquility.

Please: shelter is what I need right now. I sing that Bob Dylan tune under my breath all day. In previous posts, I have described flying adjectives. Today, we look to Wile E. Coyote for inspiration. In this picture, you can see that the 80 pound adjective is dropping from above. The image I really wanted was the one of Wile E. Coyote walking along with the anvil on his head, all rumpled like an accordion. Remember that one? It was the perfect visual representation of my feelings. Must be copyrighted, though. In a previous post, I described peace, and a plan. Hmmm... Let's just say that Simon didn't get that memo.

Comparing myself to Wile E Coyote kind of sucks. For starters, he is (in my opinion) a second tier cartoon character. Everyone likes Bugs better. I like Foghorn Leghorn better ("I say! I say!") All Wile E. Coyote does is mindlessly pursue Roadrunner and get smashed up every single time. He is a victim, in a way. Or just an idiot. Now, I do have a spine. Anyone who knows me will attest to this. So where does it go when it comes to this relationship? Beats me. But that is one of the reasons that I'm finally done. I'm sick of feeling like Wile E. Coyote. Sitting cluelessly in a hole waiting for the anvil to drop is NOT who I want to be. I think we can all agree.

But I need shelter from the storm. This is hard, and I'm T-I-R-E-D. I would love to find safe harbor. Deciding to end a marriage means saying good-bye to a steady, warm embrace; someone to tell me that I am still the awesome person I was before this started; someone to meet me at the door (both literally and figuratively). I'm single now, so that kind of shelter is not for me.

I have no shelter, but I need to BE a shelter. That's the other hard part. Am I going to have the strength for that?

Sara is sleeping over at her friend's house, so just Nate was at home. After supper, I lured him onto my lap for a little while. Don't worry, Nate! No one looking! Nate wrapped his arms around my neck and we compared bony bits. He has the hardest head! He wins that one, hands down! Who has a meaner, sharper chin? Time for a chin fight. Who has the pointiest elbows? Nate inherited his small, sharp bones from me, so it's generally a pretty fair fight. We laughed; I kissed him on his less freckly spots. I told that kids when they were little that freckles come from my kisses. They still half believe it.

I sent Nate to get into his pajamas and leaned back in my chair. I'm not sure what triggered the adjective onslaught: it seems to have started with a phone call that I answered "tersely" earlier in the day? At any rate, as soon as Nate left the room, I had to jump into my foxhole. Let's add "stupid" and "ignorant" to my personal adjective list. I didn't respond at all. I scrooged up small in my chair and looked at the floor for a bit, but then I heard Nate's little voice keening in his room and hurried down there. He was curled up in a fetal position on his bed, sobbing, with snot bubbling out of his nose. Nate specializes in snot. He was scared of the shouting and worried that I was going to get hit, he said. "Dad is not going to hit me." I curled around him and buried my face between his shoulder blades.
"I can't stand the tension."
"I know. In a few more days, it'll be better. I'm going to live somewhere else for a week, but I'll come over or call every day. Then I'll come back home and Dad will go on his business trips."
"Is this the worst part?" (I told the kids that the worst would be over soon.)
"The conflict will get better, then it will go away. I promise."
"But what if Dad can't get the money to-" (Si thinks it's important to share all the potential financial problems with the kids, so they "know what they're facing".)
"Remember: what is the only thing you need to focus on?"
"I am safe."
"That's right. You are safe. Mom and Dad love you. Life is full of good, happy stuff. After this bad time is over, we'll feel good and happy again." (Jesus, I hope this is true.)
I looked around among the (TOO MANY) stuffed animals on his bed, found the sock monkey and tucked it under his chin. "Mom, if we move from here, can I take all my stuff with us?" "Yeah, sure. Except maybe the crayon shaving collection..."

I read from Harry Potter and tucked him in, then returned to the (blessedly) deserted kitchen. I'm not really cold, but I am shaking with emotional fatigue. My friend Liliana assured me today that, yes, I would find happiness again someday. When I am out in the world during the day, chatting with my friends, I feel a lot better. Here, in my own home?

Not a safe harbor. No shelter here.
I opened a checking account today. Every day I move this boulder a little further up the hill.

My heart is still at large, too, which doesn't help. I told my friend Diane that I would try not to write about that, so I won't elaborate too much. It is not getting any better, though. That much I will tell you. Today (what the hell is it about Fridays???) was so hard. The rim of the bathtub, where I perch to wince, to slump, to stare straight ahead, to yell my heartache into a folded towel? The fucking enamel is going to wear off. If you are going to be a shelter from your kids' storm, all your emotion has to be confined to the bathroom. Or the late-night commute.

I'm working on it: healing up. Once in a while, I wink at myself in the mirror and treat myself to my old, world-beating grin. Oh, yeah. THAT girl! She's FUN! SHE IS STILL ME. I'm still in pursuit of her. She deserves a chance. She deserves fewer anvils. She may be ignorant at times (the blind spots are plain to see..), but she is not stupid. She sure as hell could use some shelter. Wile E Coyote would order a "shelter from the storm" kit from Acme. I'll go on-line.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


First of all, JYANKEE! Send up a flare as soon as possible, please! Iwata/Shitzuoka is south, but still coastal. Your fans will be waiting to hear that all the Beans are OK.

The last few days have been sooooo busy. You know how I was going to conquer all my paperwork? OK: "Uncle". That was the plan, and you know how I love a plan. However, the plan has joined my heart: they are both AWOL. That's OK, I'll punt. Some lists for our amusement:

Junk piled on my nightstand (a real cross-section of my life just now):

kids' school photos;

Scrap of paper where I have jotted down a bunch of places I'd like to visit someday;

Lego Club membership form;

"Runner's World" magazine;

"Paradise", by Toni Morrison;

"Running 101";

Letter from Evelyn Jahnke, elderly family friend from Markesan;

"Justice" catalog;

"Shambahala Sun" magazine for Sara, who is still fascinated by Buddhism;

list of puns;

Index cards with different weight-lifting routines on them;

flier for ESL overseas teaching fellowships (as if...);

hot cup of chai, with spoon;

school chorus schedule;

Pamphlets ("Divorce Education for Children"; "Mandatory Divorce Mediation");

Note from a friend;



half-marathon training schedule.

Things that are causing stress (I don't stress out too easily. Normally, I just get a little adrenaline rush, them laugh it off. But things ARE starting to pile up a little. Forgive me for not being your Zen poster child just now. I will again later.):

  1. Fear. [to the tune of "Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Ales"] "I have nothing to be scared of / I am not a chi-cken-shit!" I sing it pompously, in a stately fashion. It doesn't really work, though. I am about to make an enormous change. I want to have faith in my judgement and feel strong. I am learning that I have holes in my faith-bucket. I feel alone. My heartache is as bad as ever, even though I don't write about it. Still lots of head-beween-the-knees time. Maybe I need a different tune. Something snappier?

  2. Hash from a can. I admit that I liked it OK as a kid, the way my mom made it with an egg on top. We ate it a lot. This, and Spam - I fear them for their fat and sodium. I am currently able to afford fresh healthy food and plenty of variety. I don't want to feed my kids hash & eggs.

  3. My hair. It's catywumpus, and now it's suddenly too long. It was perfect yesterday and too long today. How does it DO that? This will be the second haircut since the sad times came along. First I measured it in days (42); then weeks (6); now haircuts (2).

  4. Judgement. I found an anonymous printout in my cubby today: statistics about how miserable people are after they get divorced; how many people regret it; what percentage feel lonely; the number of people who think they will find happiness, but don't; how most people would rather stay unhappily married than get a divorce; etc...

  5. Shoelaces. I bought new ones for Nate, but they are not the right length. I discovered this after I had removed the worn-out lace from one shoe. I had to put the worn-out lace back in, using a nut-meat pick to push it through the eyelets. While Nate stood there with his book bag in hand, fussing at me.

  6. My paycheck, which is not as big as I wish it was all the sudden. I looked at it tonight and thought: the retainer I own my attorney is DOUBLE this. A month's salary. Granted, I think we will use only a fraction of that, and I will get most of it back; but I need the moolah. So I can get a haircut.

  7. The student newspaper. I LOVE our student newspaper, and I'm proud of it. one of my better ideas! It's fantastic! It is also a hell of a lot of work; and on the day it comes out, I am always pinched for time because of it.

  8. Mark. I had to tell him about the demise of SiKat tonight. He was one of the last people to find out, because I fear his disapproval so much. There are two people I reeeeeaaaally don't want to tell: my mom and my Mark.

  9. Anne is resigning. Another school made her an offer she couldn't refuse. She needs to be out of here in about two weeks. Hmmm... I need to post the position and collect sufficient applicants (10 days - 2 weeks); interview (1 week); facilitate paperwork, orientation, security check, W-4, office training (3 days); train the new teacher on assessment, administration, curriculum, volunteer support (4 days); get transitional cross-training set up (1 week). This is making my stomach loop the loop a little. She felt bad, springing this on me at such a rough personal time. I thought, "drop in the bucket"; but it is a VERY LARGE drop. The stress is two-fold: the work, the upheaval, the substitutions, etc..; and that Anne is a phenomenal teacher. She is one of those professionals who has both amazing cedentials and a great classroom presence. I'm going to miss her.

Things that relieved stress a bit:

  1. My attorney. A) He looked at our money situation today and assured me that I would NOT be eating hash. He looked me straight in the eye and told me that I can do this, emotionally and economically. B) He is cutting me a big discount. I wonder what he likes to eat? C) We had a very enjoyable verbal spar about a criminal case he is defending. It is a well-known case here, and I loved getting him animated about it. D) As I left today, he reached out and grabbed both my shoulders from behind, gave me a shake and told me again that I was going to be OK. I felt like a prizefighter. He didn't try squirting water into my mouth, though.

  2. My colleague MarySue, who took me out to lunch at La Cai Noodle House today, listened to 92% of my sad story and didn't judge me. She went through a divorce a few years ago, and her second marriage is "a thousand times" better, according to her. She reminded me that, in tough times, work can be a sanctuary. "Let us be your village", she said.

  3. Mark. He was shocked into complete stillness for a moment or two while I thought, "Oh no! What must he think of me?" Then he grabbed both of my wrists in his hands and assured me that everything was going to be OK.

  4. Linguistics. I tried to blow off Public Relations Committee meeting, to work on my paperwork; but I was called in regardless, because the conversation had turned to language. Actually, there is very little I would rather do than discuss semantics. Why does the phrase "teach vision" grate on us? Which two of these three words are most important when describing us: literacy; community; education? How weighted has the word "immigrant" become? I am fascinated with words that get highjacked by politics. It's a hobby of mine. I could go on and on - it's a whole blog entry on its own. Just the word "Mexican"can get me on a 10 minute mini-dissertation. I love this stuff!

  5. My students. Of course.

How my students and I amused each other this evening:

  1. Betting;
I found this "ice cream scoop" in Second Grade. It is really a game spinner of sorts: you push the little lever and the "ice cream" spins. It comes up vanilla, chocolate or strawberry. I was enchanted. I asked my tutor, Josh, if he would care to lay down a nickel on guessing the flavor that would come up. He did this a few times and lost a number of nickels. Then Hugo did a few tries, then Victor. The house was definitely up on the deal, so I took my casino on the road and roamed from classroom to classroom. Things got fairly high-stakes while playing with my "boyfriend", Bill. He ended up winning $.25 from me. Still, the house came out ahead. The students laughed their asses off. This is a good thing.

2. Explaining the difference between "lie" and "lay". Native speakers gathered round for this one as well.

3. Writing my examples of present / past / participal of "lie" and "lay" on the white board with such geek-ola enthusiasm, that I realized too late that I was using a permanent Sharpie.

4. Using a trick that a volunteer showed me, I took a Dry Erase marker and wrote over the Sharpie, then wiped the board clean with ease. Did you know that? That Dry Erase will lift permanent marker? I was so impressed!

5. Explaining why the "-ed" ending on past tense verbs somethings sounds like a /t/ ("washed"); sometimes sounds like a /d/ ("played"); sometimes sounds like "uhd" ("lifted").

6. Putting my hand on my throat and making everyone within a 30 foot radius do the same while going "Aaaaaahhhhhh..." "p-p-p-p-p-p-p-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-", etc... "Are your vocal chords vibrating NOW? How about NOW?" Paul Delgado said, "You CRAZY, Teacher!"

Oh, Paul... You don't know the half of it!

But I Don't Like Spam

Very busy day today, and many things to blog about. But it is 1:00 AM, and I am determined to have an early night!

Our realtor visited today to talk with us about selling the house, should we need to do that. We went through all of our money stuff, too. Here's what it all boils down to: I'm gonna starve.

Simon is trying to persuade me to stay, citing the "two can live almost as cheaply as one" principle. According to the figures he was showing me, I will need to become an escort if I want to afford even a weekend in Lava. He asked me if I like hash from a can. If I wanted to deny our children extra-curricular activities. Says I can't afford to rent anything, because I'll be paying half the mortgage as well.

Funny thing, though, is that I know women who are divorced, and they are managing to eat real food! I'm having a hard time with the disconnect. I am also having a hard time staying awake. Good night.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011



To: the guy who asked me today if I would be interested in being in a relationship with him after Simon and I have split up

From: me

Re: my likes and dislikes

You lost me when you started talking about my "aura". My "positive energy". Oh, barf. I don't care how good-looking you are or what you drive. Back of the line!

Sleep is NOT Optional?

Sadness is banished for the time being. But holy crap-shoot, Batman! It has been replaced by a smorgasbord of other emotions. At least with "sad" I knew what I was doing. All right, all right; no, I didn't! I admit to being pretty inexpert at dealing with "sad". But now; depending on the time of day, my brain hydration level, the tides off the coast of Greenland and the brand of staple I'm using, I could be feeling anything. Joy, sometimes, briefly. Amazement. FEAR! Sometimes foreboding fear; sometimes leap-into-flight fear. Vertigo. Calm confidence (leave the driving to me!); bone-aching tension.

Sometimes when I'm thinking about my life, I catch my hands unconsciously extending outward and wonder what I think I'm reaching for. Thank goodness I work in a field that requires freaky gestures all day long. If anyone were to ask me, I would NOT say, "I am reaching toward my future." (That would be weird.) I would say, "I'm acting out shopping for produce." (That is totally normal.) I was standing under the shower just now and found my soapy hands sliding up my arms, across my shoulders, down my sides. "Am I the same person that I was? Those are my elbows...that is my neck..." I am not a giddy person. Practical! Stay-the-course! So, I think, "Can I do it?" [worried, raised eyebrows] "Yes, I can." [brows down] Or I can try and keep trying until I find the right path. [one brow up, a la Jack Black]

I felt VERY giddy this evening during class. Physically strange. My heartbeat felt irregular and I was catching my breath. This is unaccustomed, although there have been a lot of physical signs of stress. Then I remembered the probable truth about alien giddiness: I had only had three hours of sleep last night, and three the night before.

I know, I know... I'm not happy about it either.

I don't have insomnia. Right now, I'm exceedingly sleepy. I am alone on my big bed, under my down comforter. I still sleep on "my" side, rather then in the middle. The streets are silent, the light on my nightstand is soft. I have had a hot shower, so I am toasty. My hair is already drying into a higgledy-piggledy jumble of cow licks and rooster tails. (What's with the barnyard metaphors, by the way?) The lotion I put on my face smells like spiced plums. Sleep is not the problem. It's going to bed that's the problem.

Tonight, Si told me that he was concerned that he was spending a lot of time reading books about divorce, and that I was not doing the same. Is this wise? Ugh. I was slumped at the kitchen counter chasing a dead ant around the bottom of my teacup with my spoon. (Yeah, we have a few ants at the moment. Where are they coming from? Don't they know it's winter?). I pointed out that I had just got home from a 14-hour work day (a lie! I only worked 13 hours and spent an hour shooting the bull with Martina.) and could be forgiven for not diving into a tome on mediation vs. litigation. NOT the correct answer. He stomped off. Night, night, Si. (Si. Sigh.)

So, what's more interesting than going to bed? Besides getting the ant out of my tea?

Pondering my future! Tomorrow, I really have to compose my collection of ideas for the "Eleanors". And the ones for myself. My dreams for the rest of my life. The more I think,the more I see doors that can and will open if I am careful, sensitive, loving and smart. Hey! I can manage those things on good day! With a little more sleep.

Reading the newspaper! But this time of year I get hung up on the legislature, and wondering why our governor has to be such a dumb fuck. With only a couple more hours of sleep, I could govern this state better, and with a less goof-ball smile to boot. But lots more gestures.

Guadalupe paperwork! Although this is getting better. I'm almost out from under! Shut up! I know I've said that before; but this is the real thing! That's why I was up so late last night. I was on FIRE! Another collection: all the things I will do when I have slain the paperwork monster. I'll get back to my visionary, lustrous-haired, goddess-like self. Or at least get busy training Johnny Depp to take Mark's place. At the moment, all Johnny does is follow me around with puppy-like devotion, wanting to know if I'd like him to caress my shoulders. Tiiiiiiiiiresome.

Nate's pee-alarm! Yes, Nate is slaying the bed wetting monster. He has an amusing alarm pinned to his pajamas that goes, BRAAAAP! BRAAAAAP! and vibrates the moment any moisture shows up in his undies. At first I thought the alarm pack went in his pants, and I thought, "Man, Nate is gonna LOOOOVE this." But a little sensor does that job, after I clip it to the fabric inside. This has been his initiative, so its pretty easy for me. I got a book, which we read together. "Chapter 5: Fun and Easy Home Experiments to Measure Your Bladdar Size". If only we had heard of this BEFORE Sara's science fair. I layer his bed with towels and plastic sheeting, so if he has a soaker in the wee hours, he can just whip the top towel onto the floor and jump back into bed on the dry towel underneath. And after he has run to the bathroom and peed, it's my job to reset the sensor and clip it back into place. This mean that I get a nightly visit in the, um... wee hours.

"Mama! I made it to the bathroom without wetting at all! Well, just a drop."

Uh? "Thasss goo', Sweetie. Hol' on."

I turn the light on and squint in the glare.

"Wha' time issit?"

"4:45!" (He's so perky! Geeze.) "I did good, huh?"

"You did really, really grea', Sweetie. C'mere."

I fumble for the sensor and waistband of his "shark zone!" tighty-whities. (By the way, WHY don't they make men's briefs that say fun stuff like, "shark zone!"? Well, they probably do... I'm still on the lookout for pirate ones that say, "Argh, Matey! Prepare to be Boarded!") I wake up just enough to pinch a tiny piece of fabric into the sensor without pinching anything else. He always worries, though. ("Look out, Mom! Whoa! Hey, are you awake?")

"There we go. All set. Nigh' nigh'." Lights out and I am back asleep before he can cross the hall.

Now, let me be clear about something. Lots of things are my fault because of the divorce. The fact that Si accidentally put an incorrect lift ticket price on the resort website? (Sorry, everyone. No mobbing. He took it down.) My fault. I'm distracting him with divorce. All Nate's nice sweatpants have already been worn this week; the remainder have holes in the knees, so he has to wear jeans instead? My fault. I am neglecting his sweat-pant needs because of divorce. Yesterday, Nate told me that the Nintendo game he ordered off Amazon arrived late because I was divorcing Dad. I hope you will forgive me if I laughed out loud at that one. But no one blames me for the bed-wetting. It predates my run off the rails.

Sara doesn't condemn me too much. The child has a one-track mind regarding our future.

She went to the Humane Society with Girl Scouts the other night, and returned with shining eyes and the inability to speak anything but baby-talk. "Mommy? There was the cutest widdle kitty at the shelter! He on'y had one ear. He was wooking at me and he said, 'Take me home! I wuv you!'" "Oh yeah? So you were BOTH talking baby-talk?" "Yeah. Mom, I realize this is totally inappropriate to bring up right now, but, when you have your own place..." Yeah, Sara, we can get a cat.

Monday, March 7, 2011

What Do Eli Wiesel and Eleanor Roosevelt Have in Common?

Not a damn thing, except that they both inspired me yesterday.

Aw... You thought it was a joke? With a humorous punch line? Too bad, so sad. If you need some humor, though, I can give you another pun. Hey, Becca: Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication. (Snnnrrrkkk. I'm not really a pun person, but I like that one.)

First of all, Eli Wiesel. Simon and I were recalling Night, and what Wiesel had to say about suffering and about focusing on the future. This has been helpful to both of us as we think about our new lives.

We pause in our regularly scheduled programming to ask: does Kate think that a divorce can be compared with the Holocaust?!? NNNNNNO! Before anyone comes down on me for being a drama queen with a Holocaust-like divorce, let me point out that the BIG thoughts about the BIG problems speak to all of us little people and our little problems. Otherwise, why would anyone write a book? Hmpf. Now, where was I?

As I was saying, Wiesel was describing the impact of cold, starvation and disease in the concentration camps. He concluded that he could pick out likely candidates for death and for survival based on their outlooks. The ones who dwelt in the past: recollecting their favorite cafes, old pastimes, missing friends? They were vulnerable. The survivors were the ones who looked ahead. Who had a plan for life after the war.

That's going to be Simon; and it's going to be me. Every day, I am going to take one step in pursuit of the future and stay focused on reaching out and grabbing hold of a new life. I am not going to get there by dwelling on or clinging to past history. For the next little while, I want to be totally honest with Si about my feelings and wishes; I want to have frank discussions with my friends (and hope I keep most of them); and I want the kids to see the positive potential. All that, and maybe destiny will be fulfilled.

In the meantime, I've decided to stop writing about heartbreak. Sorry! Sorry! I know! Schadenfreude is fun, and my readership has doubled in the last month! And what does THAT say about human nature, huh? I am still hurting a lot and spending long minutes sitting on the rim of the bathtub, contemplating what seems like endless pain and emptiness. BUT. I think I will stop writing about it. Yesterday, my dear friend Diane patiently listened while we drank chai lattes and I told her of all the painful business of the last few weeks.

"Is this all on your blog? I haven't been on in a while."

"Yes. Well, mostly."

'Why are you laying all this sad stuff out there?"

"It relieves the pain if I write about it. It's a way to vent."

"You might want to consider whether it's really helping you. Maybe it's a good vent; but maybe you're putting your pain on life support by writing about it? Maybe you should drop it."

Hmmm.... Thanks, Diane. We'll try it.

If not from my heart, which flutters empty still; at least from my blog, for a while.

And thanks Book Club, for making me happy when I thought I couldn't be. I laughed! Not my "fake it 'til you make it" laugh. Not my "gallows humor/ can you believe how FUBAR this is" laugh. A simple "that's funny" laugh. It felt weird: I found myself with my hands pressed to my cheeks. Cupcake tasting today, while Jessica ponders her wedding cake choices. Guinness Whiskey Baileys cupcakes. I love Book Club. Maple Bacon! I kid you not. How can you be sad when you're eating a cupcake with bacon on top?

Shock at the news that Simon and I are splitting up.

"What about the camping trip!?!" (These guys have their priorities straight.)

"I got custody of the camping trip. Booked it yesterday: July 15-17."

(Actually, Si can deal with that: Since we are going to the Uintas that weekend, he'll have me car shuttle him so he can backpack and emerge at the campground on Sunday. We can be amicable about camping trip custody.)

I floated the idea of the club I wrote about yesterday, and Mary said, "Makes me think of Eleanor Roosevelt." That's it! We're the Eleanors! OK, now: boys? This IS a co-ed club, despite the name. If you are confident enough in your masculinity to channel Eleanor Roosevelt once in a a while, you are the right kind of man for this club. After all, I would be totally cool with the Meriwether Lewis Club.

Poker party at my place will be the first event. We talked a bit about the Stillwater canoe trip idea. We were cackling about "nude before noon" and talking about women we know who can hold beer cans in their cleavage. Moira said:

"Let's not make this a family trip. Let's ditch all men and children and just go on our own."

Kate (who normally would be all over this idea...): Well, if I do something fun like that, though, I should take the kids. I don't want them to miss out on things just now.

Moira: Aw c'mon. You'll take them camping other times, right?

[Mmmmm... but this is conoeing...]

Kate: Yes. I'm gonna do that. I've never taken them camping without Si before, but-
Mary: It's easy. Think about it: who puts together your camping trips?
Kate: Well, I guess we-
Mary: Who books them?
Everyone: KATE!
Mary: Who keeps the gear list up to date?
Kate: Me.
Mary: Who plans the food, does the shopping, takes care of the prep-cooking?
Kate: Me.
Mary: Kitchen box?
Kate: Me.
Mary: What else do you do?
Kate: Uh... Pack up clothes and stuff for the kids..
Mary: What did he do?
Kate: He loaded the cooler and the truck...

[Laughter and chattering about men and loading trucks. Sorry, but the stereotypes tend to fly when you get a bunch of women together.]

Mary: Well, you can load the truck. Anything else?
Kate: He was always the one who four-wheeled down the double tracks to the good spots.
Mary: You are gonna LOVE doing that!! What do you drive?
Kate: A Tacoma.
Mary: Got chains?
Kate [realizing]: Well, yeah, actually. The chains are in the back of my truck. But, k'know, I think he's going to want thos-
Shirley: Possession is nine-tenths of the law!
Moira: Let them stay at my house for a while. We can put them in the garage-
Aimee: Wait, are we talking about the chains or the kids? You're going to have a custody battle over the chains?
Kate: I'm sure we can handle this civilly.
Mary: Keep the chains, and I'll take you muddin'.

Ooops. Put that on the list.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Peace, and a Plan

[This entry is insanely long! Just think: when my life calms down, I'll go back to short, funny confections, rather than long unbosomings. Can't wait! Neither can you.]

OK, Becca, here's another pun: I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

Saturday morning, and the phone is starting to ring. Proposed play dates; questions about soccer practices and ski plans. The day is taking shape. Simon is at work. I couldn't stay awake to blog (again!) last night, so I'll sneak a few morning minutes.

The adjectives are no longer being hurled. Peace reigns...well, not in my heart; but at least in the house of Diggins. This is good. I'm a girl who likes excitement, but even I was having a hard time with all the thrills and spills in my life right now.

Yesterday sucked, as do most Fridays. I was sad in the morning (as usual), and it lingered all fucking day! I was not consoled by work, nor by marble cake. The superlative new produce section in our renovated Smith's failed to heal me (but I have to say, zowie! Purple artichokes? Now if I could just find the relocated pretzels...). Whiskey and soda? Cooking with Sara? Thin Mints? Cute now undies? Radical cupcake-making plans? Anticipation of book club and a movie with Diane on Sunday? Argh. Nothing worked. It's funny how I take two steps forward and one step back. Does it HAVE to be like that? Or am I not reading the instruction manual properly? I found myself back on the rim of the bathtub, examining the doorknob directly opposite me like it was going to tell me something wise. All it said was, "YOU again! Aren't you supposed to be cooking supper?"

You would think that peace in my home would console me. Or having a plan. I love to have a plan: it keeps me future-focused. And I don't JUST have a plan: I have my own line of credit for the first time in my life. Next week, I will have a checking account. I have homework assignments. By next Thursday, I need to have a handle on all the finances; I need to know the balance sheet for the mortgage; we need to have a custody proposal drawn up on a calendar page. We're going to get all of that done over the weekend.

Simon is so busy with a labor-intensive group for the next two weeks that he won't be home much. He'll sleep at Snowbird for all the evening events. Then I'm moving out for a bit; then he has extended travel followed by more extended travel, so I will move back in. We are going to reconvene here on April 11: his schedule will be starting to slow down, so he can concentrate better; and we both need to be in residence when we file papers.

Actually, this is soothing. I've always said that Diggins, Inc. was a well-oiled machine when stuff needs to get done. Am I happy?

Are you kidding?



I hate to admit it, but I'm scared.

I'm scared of being poor. I've never been one for spending a lot of money, but will I have enough to cover basic needs? Healthy food for the kids? Truck maintenance? Luxuries like running shoes? Can I live with the fact that I may not ever afford another big vacation? (Sigh.) Bye, bye France. Bye, bye Napa! Well, I have been poor before. In Australia, I was broke. Like, what-will-I-eat-this-week broke. Like, wait-at-the-grocery-store-at-closing-time-to-see-what-produce-they-plan-to-throw-out broke. When we were first married, a car breakdown or a health problem would supplant Christmas gifts. We ate La Choy from a can. This is a throwback to the Spam years of my own childhood. It will be hard to leave my relative affluence.

I'm scared of being a stressed-out, overworked mom. Will I be the one who forgets when Nate's book report is due? Will my kids have to make their own suppers and go to bed while I work nights? Will they be calling me at Guadalupe to tell me that they are scared or that they are about to murder each other? 398-2751. That was my mom's number at work. Wanna know how I still remember it? I'll bet my little brother remembers it, too. I will need a lot of fortitude and organization.

I'm scared of dating. It's a jungle out there! I have heard chapter and verse on this topic from my single colleagues, and they are young and beautiful! Plus, my heart isn't into it. I mean, my heart isn't even in the building. Maybe that will be the reality: relationships that only go so far. Yesterday TWO men that I know out-and-out told me that they are interested in a serious relationship with me. Uh, sure; what the hell? First, see if you can find my heart. Last spotted careening among the parked cars at Smith's during the pre-supper rush. Gonna get run over if it isn't careful. I have been told to "do what I need to do to get on with my life", which includes this, but... [I'm wrinkling my nose.] No matter how little feeling there was in my relationship with Simon, at least I know that I had a date for a dinner party or a fund-raiser. I could count on a cup of tea after work. It'll be hard to leave that comfort zone.

I'm scared of where I will end up. A ratty little apartment? A condo? It has to be at least two bedrooms... I need to stay in this general part of the valley, where the kids are. Sara wants to know: will she have to share a room with Nate? (Uh...) Can we paint her bedroom door with blackboard paint so she can draw on it? (Maybe...) The big question: could they have a pet? (Well...)

I'm really scared of loneliness. I'm a gregarious person and I thrive on companionship. I have had very lonely times in the past, so I know some good coping strategies. Still, I'm not excited about a return to yesteryear. About coming home to an empty house. Being on my own when I have a fever. Or a joke I want to tell. (Of course, there is always my student, Victor, for that) Or a pressing concern. Neither would I fill the emptiness of anyone else. Care for someone with a fever. Listen to a joke. Soothe a pressing concern.

These fears take the knot of heartache and tighten it with worry and stress. I look in the mirror now and think, you need to do better. Sleep, please. Run, but don't run away. Stop mooning. Eat, but not Wild Grape Pop Tarts. Will I be disciplined enough to take proper care of myself? Will I ever recover from all these worries and go, "Whew! Lets have some fun!"

Which gets me to an idea I've been turning over in my mind and discussing with Moira for a long time. And it is timely right now. I want to start a sort But what to call it? How to organize it?

Here's the basic idea. There are things my friends and I want to try. Things that we don't know how to do, but want or need to learn. Skills we lack. And now there will be things that I will only be able to continue doing if I have another willing adult or two to come along. I love doing things with my friends, but we won't all have the same interests. Plus, I want this group to be a real clique-buster featuring a more fluid membership. The cohort who wants to take Salsa lessons will be different from the ones who want to go to spinning class, as opposed to the ones who want to learn more about roller derby (yes, my butt bruise leaves me undaunted), who want to try making homemade cheese or would like to master their sewing machines. Or learn to change their oil. Or play poker. See? Sounds fun, huh?

I can take my kids camping on my own. And I will. But I wouldn't mind some non-wussy, back-country-loving company. I am committed to the idea of taking them on a canoe trip on the Stillwater section of the Green River this summer, come what may; but I really do need at least one other adult for that. Several companions would mitigate the costs and the single-mom-ish-ness. So, yeah: learn new skills; try different stuff; regroup in ways that will heal my kids and my heart. Build new ways of getting people together.

Membership? Maybe interested parties from book club, PLUS each of them invites another friend that other folks don't know yet? Or other folks that come to me and say, "Hey, I heard about that idea of yours..." What we want is a mix of old friends and new. It needs to be free-flowing, but cohesive enough that people can build close friendships and we know who the hell is on the e-mail list! Some things will be expensive - others free. Some things will need a host - others not. Some things are one-afternoon activities; others might be every week for six weeks; others would be long weekends. Some things need to have only a limited number of people- others not. I get a little tangled up in the logistics of it. If any of you have bright ideas for pulling it together, share, please.

I think we'll start with a poker party, since Moira knows a guy who would be willing to teach us how to play. Pot luck at my place, followed by poker? Eight novices? Total novices - no hustlers! Moira! Should we smoke cigars? Yeah! Only problem is that I may be living in a one-bedroom apartment that smells like mildew. Better do it soon. Aw, shit. I am going to miss entertaining! Hadn't really thought of that.

And, I need to get our annual book club camp-out organized before I can do another thing. If I can't do THAT, I can't do THIS. I need to get on that today! Tony Grove, maybe? Up and at 'em, Kate. Chores await. Day by day, until I come out into the clear.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Normally, jewelry rotates in a very wide orbit through the galaxy of my femininity. I'm one of those women with two family heirlooms and a lot of single earrings whose mates are lost. Yesterday was a little different.

First of all, I was surprised by a special watch, lent to me by a friend. I am more grateful than I can express for this loan, which serves as a reminder to me: I am lonely, but I'm not alone. Knowing this makes me feel braver. It makes a satisfying tick-i-tick-i-tick-i, like a heartbeat. I held it against my cheek and remembered the noisy but comforting wind-up alarm clock I had in the Peace Corps. It soothed me in a similar way when I was occasionally bummed out. This watch has a nifty second hand. I watch it mark the passage of time and think, I AM moving forward. This trouble will pass and, if I'm lucky I may even get my heart back one of these days. Whoa! Bring THAT on! I could glance at the time on my phone many times a day and not get nearly this level of satisfaction. Thank you! I'll take good care of it. Let me know as soon you're ready to have it back and I'll hand it over with alacrity. Just don't let me keep it TOO awfully long. The longer I hang onto it, the harder it will be to retrieve. I like it, but I don't want to grow old with it.

In addition, I went to Hansen Company and picked up my Wasatch bracelet. The jeweler had just finished making it - a little on the smaller side, for my bony little self. He came out from the back of the store with the bracelet in one hand and a little velvet bag in the other. Bag, shmag! I held out my arm and he snapped it straight on. Aahhh! My wrist is happy again. And the next time I'm in Holladay, I can hold it up and it will profile the contours of Mt. Olympus exactly.
My other wrist offers stark contrast. This was a gift from Alyssa, bestowed upon me at Girls on the Run practice. Actually, I acquired several stickers from the girls, some of which I forgot were there. I was momentarily embarrassed to discover (AFTER my stop at the jewelers, of course...) a little dolphin stuck to my left earlobe. There is a crab on my phone ("Snappy Work!"); and a cow jumping over the moon was placed (with much giggling) on the butt of my sweats.

Alyssa was my star for the day. She got a painful stitch in her side halfway through practice and was miserable. We did a lap together so I could show her what I call "belly breathing": it helps a bit. I nominated her for a special cheer at the end of practice, because it sucks to run with a stitch. She tried to demur, stating that she had not run fast. [buzzer sound] That's not the point, Honey. She in turn rewarded me with this sticker: a very sticky one that didn't want to come off until I stuck my hand under Nate's shower to check that his hair was rinsed.

Alyssa. Awesome. This blog entry was brought to you by the letter "A".

At Frida's

I haven't written for a couple of days. This is because I can now blog in bed; but the minute I climb into bed, get comfy and position the cutting board with the laptop on my lap... top, I fall asleep. Changing my life is tiring, it turns out. It's hard to find the whole adult education staff in the same place at the same time. Other jobs! Grad school! Sick kids! Wayward pets! Four of us managed to go for lunch at Frida's Bistro the other day.

I love this place. Mexican food with crazy twists. How often do I get to eat... uh... rats. (No, I'm saying "rats" in frustration! They don't serve rats! Yet.) The word is Nahuatl, not Spanish, so it slips my mind, but I'm a Wisconsinite. I know corn smut when I see it. Very tasty corn smut when eaten with a little pico de gallo.

The owner, Jorge Fierro, used to be a student in our program many years ago. He does so much for Guadalupe - so, we eat at Frida's and tell our friends.

Here is my mango habanero margarita. Although my friends laughed and called it "liquid chutney", I thought it was fun.

Here's Mel, wearing Becca's purple "Miss Piggy" elbow gloves.

And here's Becca wearing Becca's purple "Miss Piggy" elbow gloves. The devious look is intentional, but unremarkable. She always looks like that. She is probably thinking of a pun to match some of the ones we have been circulating lately.

Hey, Becca: A rubber band gun was confiscated from algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.
We are ladies who care about our figures, so no way are we going to order dessert. No way! OK, you twisted our arms. But not a whole dessert... We ordered a tres leches and a flan; then we held our spoons in one hand (for the flan) and our forks in the other (for the tres leches) and dug in, per Martina's demonstration here. When it comes to dessert, we're ambidextrous.
We thought about taking a little detour over to Deseret Industries for some shopping, but we hung out at lunch so long, we thought we'd better not. Next time!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Handling It


Yesterday was the first day that I felt as if my stated coping mechanisms were actually effective. I was beginning to worry that I would never feel OK again. A lot of sadness in the mornings, as always; but after thumping my head on my steering wheel a few times, I was able to go to the rec and have a long workout. I did not sit in my truck daydreaming today. I told myself, "Nope. Grab the briefcase... grab the sack lunch... open the door..." It worked.

I worked all day without any head-between-the-knees time.

Evening was very lonely. I felt the heartache creeping back, so I jumped up and:

*baked a rhubarb streusel cake with the last of my garden rhubarb;
*sorted out Nate's bookcase;
*did housework;
*read Harry Potter VII to Nate, employing all my best voices: Hagrid, Mad Eye, Voldemort ("You LIED, Ollivander!");
*did some data entry for Guadalupe.
*separated Girl Scout cookie orders - the ones for Snowbird, the ones for Guadalupe, the ones for the neighborhood (for a week or so, I'll be driving the cookie mobile). Sara should do this, I know. But she was at a course to certify as a basic-tier soccer referee, and I was in need of distraction.

By the time I got to bed, I was too pooped to be miserable.

Perhaps I might really be about to surface. Perhaps I mights actually get to gasp for breath and not drown after all. Good-bye, February! You will go down as the worst month I have ever had to get through.

Now I have to brace myself for what comes next. The adjectives have stopped flying and the sociolinguist has left the house, to be replaced by the discourse analyst. Talking, talking... unwinding, step by step... I test the placement of each foot before I place it. But I place it and continue inch forward to see if I can work my way through this maze. This is a different kind of pain, but horrible nonetheless.

If I can handle February, surely I can handle March.

Girls on the Run

This was fun! And it makes me feel like I can still find the sunshine that used to come so easily. I keep dealing with the heartbreak and keep dealing with the changes in my life.
I would elaborate on my attitude, but I am snuggled up in my cozy bed, warm and sleepy. It isn't even 2 AM yet, but maybe an early night would be a good idea.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thoroughly Jostled

Yes, I'm back. I am willing to own up to the selfishness of journaling. But in the overall sweep of Kate's selfishness, it's small potatoes. And, as Nikki commented, everyone who blogs understands the need for this selfishness. Others selfishly watch TV or prune their Bonsais. I selfishly blog.

Check out the dark circles under this kid's eyes! The Girl Scout snowshoe weekend at Camp Trefoil was cancelled because we had a snowstorm. (I know! We wouldn't want any little girls to get...what? Snowed on?) The troop leader called to tell me that she was going to have the girls sleep over at her house in an attempt to salvage the weekend. Sara did not sleep at all. Here is what she told me after she get home, tearful and overtired, snapped at her brother and collapsed, sobbing, onto her bed:

"Shannon snored all night, and Caitlin wouldn't stop texting, and Mo was being meeeeeeaaaaan [sob-surge]! And I couldn't stand the snoring and neither could Jessie so we went to sleep in Mo's room but there are too many stuffed animals and Jessie kicks and Mo's parakeets were making little noises and Caitlin had her period and she wanted to go home and..."

HOW many days ago was I extolling the virtues of the twelve-year-old girl?

Before the meltdown though, the girls, temporarily recharged by pancakes, walked over to Bywater Park for some sledding. The troop leader called me and I tossed our sleds in the truck and went over to join them.

This was the main attraction: entertainment provided by watching others go down it and going down it 0urselves ("UHuhUHuhUHuhUHuhUHuhUH..."). Well, I was the only grown-up who did it (remember Dad's credo: DAZZLE the children!), and I had a great time, but I was reminded an hour or so later that I still have a deep-tissue booty bruise going. My booty would like to be treated with a little more respect.

This picture shows Sara going down on her tummy, which I did not do. I have been trying to ignore the fact that Leftie has been bugging me for a couple of weeks. Blah. I haven't been to see Dr. Perfect for about nine months. Now that the days of stitch-picking and scissors-wielding are over, I rather look forward to seeing him. At least before the appointment, Dr. Perfect always makes me think about sex. Ladies, if you saw him, you would understand this. The fantasy continues as he breezes in with his blinding smile and drawls, "HelLO there, Mizz Kate!" Then he always glances at my feet. I am a "hands" person; he seems to be a "feet" person. Invariably, he will comment on my cute boots in the winter; my toenail color in the summer. But just as I'm musing, "I wonder if he has a foot-feti..." I am jarred from my reverie.

Doc: [rubbing hands together to warm them] OK, let's have a feel over here. [ramming three not-that-warm fingers into my armpit and digging around energetically]

Kate: Erk! Ack!

Doc, pausing in his excavations: Does that hurt?

Kate: You're jabbing your fingers into my armpit. It's just a little disconcerting. This is my disconcerted "erk".

Doc laughs and rams his thumb up between Leftie and my rib cage, poking as he goes.

Kate: Aigh!

Doc: Was that your disconcerted "aigh"?

Kate: [high, breathy] No, that hurts.

By the time he has finished and breezed back out again, I am disillusioned about our romantic/erotic potential. Who wants a guy who can't even get past second base? I'll be good for another nine months.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

So says Carson McCullers: her words, not mine.

Last night, I felt strong. Which is good, huh? In the absence of other resources, I sometimes think that you can move forward if you can just keep your chin out and your hands on your hips. I spent some time mentoring a volunteer; then went over to Moira and Robert's for a late-night gin and tonic. I drove home fully in possession of my super-powers, singing along loudly with Nanci Griffith:

You know the poets say I'm lonely/
There's still this woman here inside.
And I've never been a fool/
When my heart was on the line.

I remembered how often this has been true in the past . There have been numerous times when I made decisions based on feelings, and they have nearly always sent me straight. My friends or my family would say, "You're going to WHAT?!?" And I did. And they threw up their hands in dismay. And I came out shiny and clean.

So, I just need to check in with Heart. "Heart? Heart! Oh, Heeeeeaaaaarrt...! HEART! God dammit!" Shit, oh dear. My heart is a bad dog, which wandered off some time ago and is now roaming the back alleys of Cottonwood Heights. Hold on, that doesn't work. Cottonwood Heights doesn't have back alleys. My heart is either running semi-feral through the foothills stealing sack lunches from snow-shoers; or it's hanging out behind Little Caesar's, waiting to see what's in the trash. Beats me. I'll tell you where it isn't, though. It's not here with me, and the hole in my chest is an empty flutter. How much longer will the ache persist? Very good question. That damn dog will not come home.

This morning I went in the bathroom (warmest room in the house!) to get dressed. But I sat on the rim of the tub and my head dropped between my knees. I didn't cry (I'm so far past crying), but I gasped for breath for a few minutes until the worst of the pain passed; then I mused at my toes and wondered how long a person can keep going. Pointless to wonder this: [dramatic whisper] I know the answer. For-EV-ah. People live with broken hearts forever. Holy shit. I will fuel my body with Cheerios and run and work and read and fold laundry and deliver Girl Scout cookies and ... Will it turn me into a grump? Will it exhaust me? Does it burn extra calories to live like this?

It's hard to believe that I can emerge shiny and clean. The pressures are enormous. I feint to the right and the left, trying to dodge adjectives. The sociolinguist in me is passing fascinated with the use of language in such a situation; but even the sociolinguist has ducked behind the kitchen island for the moment.

Selfish. Self-obsessed. Narcissistic. Self-centered. My blog is held up as evidence. Exhibit A: Self-obsessed bitch. Writing about myself and my feelings. It's all about me. Well, I have to own that. Journaling IS self-centered. In fact, any kind of introspection is self centered. I'm hearing that this is bad, and that I am bad to the point that it becomes my truth. Did you know that my own mother doesn't like me because I'm such a selfish bitch? So I hear.

It's so hard to stay off the path of least resistance. I have been bludgeoned with adjectives until I just want to roll over and say, "Uncle". But, that's what I've been doing for years. Gotta remember, "Sticks and stones..." This time, I want to stay the course.

Kate's version: "Sticks and stones will break my bones. But tones will just confuse me." [Sarcastic, but carefully executed to sound loving and sincere] Were you aware that I DESERVE happiness?? I do! After all, isn't it right there in the Declaration of Independence? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? It's the American birthright. In fact, it's admirable. Others would, perhaps lack the guts to destroy everything they have earned and saved. Would cower in the face of their children's poverty and disappointment. Would balk at being a lonely, solitary, unloved and unlovable pariah. But not me. Heroic, really.

I hunch my shoulders and I think: if I ever needed to convince myself that I'm doing the right thing? Here's the proof.

But I still feel like a pointy-tailed she-demon.

Who blogs. I think I may close my blog, because it really is an indulgence. Now when I write, I just think, "selfish, narcissistic bitch". What is the fucking point?

Catching Up With Me

I guess even I reach the point at which I can't stay awake for another minute.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Timing is Everything

Well, 10:10 PM; so my work day is over.

It was liberally sprinkled with hectic-ness this evening. (I'm a linguist, so I get to make up words whenever I want. It's a perk.) There was a moment in which I was filling in attendance rolls that Mark needed right away, and 1) a driver showed up to tell me he was delivering the giant Utah Partners for Health Mobile Clinic and he couldn't get into the packed parking lot. "Where do you want me to put the clinic, ma'am?" 2) The computer lab assistant sauntered in, plopped into a chair and began to describe the fatal error message she got when she tried to log students into Rosetta Stone. "Kate, I'm staring at you. I'm staring at you because we're having a really BIG problem." 3) Some people came to tell me that they wanted to sign up for the diabetes management class we're holding in March. I had to hold up fingers. "OK. You're problem number 1. You're problem number 2. You're problem number 3." Triage.

I'm used to this, but I must admit that my timing has been a bit off all day. Simon is not around, and I'm adjusting to the differences. I had the kids ready when it was time for Si to drive the chorus-mobile; but after I had taken care of all their needs and done my chores, I was pinched for running time. By the time I got to the rec, I was able to run for ten minutes; then it was time to go to my appointment with Dr. Derma, so he could admire my belly-splotches. I'll get used to the new routine eventually... except when I need a jar opened. Believe me, I'm not feeling at all sorry for myself.

Many things happened today that made me smile.

Hermila C. showed progress on her literacy post-test. She is in her late fifties and is non-literate in her native language because her parents didn't think she needed to learn to read. Last time she took it, she just stared at the test paper and couldn't do anything. This time she was able to write her name and address. That may not seem like much, but it's huge. Slowly, slowly.

I ate a spectacular apple for lunch. It reminded me of the ones we used to buy from Pieper's Orchard when I was a kid.

The rash on my belly is no big deal and will go away when my life calms down. Dr. Derma gave me some stuff to put on it as well. I only go to the Derma maybe once every five years, but I enjoy these visits. He owned the cabin next door when we lived at the old place, but it was his vacation place and he didn't get up there very much. We looked after it for him a little, and he would let us use it as a guest house when we had a lot of company. He told me today that I seem to look younger every year! I need to go to the Derma more often.

Sara and I had the following conversation at the store:
Sara: Mom, that lady just yelled at her son cuz he tried to buy a bread bowl.
Me: Why would he try to buy a bread bowl, and why would she care?
Sara: I don't know. But she told him to put it back. Then she turned to her friend and said, "I've heard they cause cancer."
Me: BREAD BOWLS cause cancer?!? What a load of malarkey!
Sara: Mom! Not BREAD bowl. RED bowl.
Me: She thinks red bowls cause cancer? Why would a red bowl be any different from any other color? That's crazy.
Sara: Mom! Red! Bull!

Raichle is back from her weekend retreat at Lava. She has a new attitude and an amethyst crystal. She is purged of her pain and no longer cares about her creep-ass boyfriend who dumped her after eight months. By e-mail. On Thanksgiving Day. She brought in this book titled, It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken. Hilarious! I was flipping through it and laughing my ass off. Did you know that you can buy custom ring tones at You can set them to ring when your ex calls, and a voice will proclaim:
1. "Really? You're gonna answer it? Is that what we're doing now? Backsliding? Really, we're just gonna toss our self-esteem out the window?" Or...
2. "Let it go to voice mail. Let it go to voice mail. You are too busy getting on with your life. Let it go to voice mail."
I love working with younger women.

Oh, and a new joke from my student Victor M. Don't get too excited. Victor is a kindly Peruvian gentleman in his late fifties. By day, a presser at a dry cleaner. By night, teller of some of the worst jokes ever thought of. Victor and I love each other. I always get lots of hugs and kisses; big, grippy handshakes. Victor is very hard of hearing and has ginormous hearing aids. When he laughs at his own jokes, the hearing aids squeal loudly. At any rate, this was the one he told me tonight.

OK, Teacher.
Act One: 50 Argentines in the moon. ("on the moon", says Kate)
Act Two: 100 Russians in the moon. ("on the moon", says Kate)
Act Three: 1,000 Germans....on... the moon. ("Good," says Kate)

Three acts. What is the name of the movie?

50 Argentines, 100 Russians, 1,000 Germans. "Full Moon".

Don't blame me.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lost Language

From an emotional standpoint, I'm washed up. To quote Mana, "bien tostada" ("completely toasted"). I was listening to a very interesting segment on NPR yesterday about metaphor and cliche. A discussion on how much metaphor we use unconsciously ("I see what you mean!") and how the great metaphors are quickly reduced to cliche (the Iron Curtain) The speaker's premise was that the re-use of metaphors shows lack of originality and that we should seek the new metaphor in our writing. What a very lovely sentiment. I'll get started with that. Tomorrow, OK? In the meantime, I plan to wander lonely as a cloud; to kick my can a little farther down the road; to keep my nose to the grindstone.

This weekend, I have lost my language; well, at least the better bits of it. I am so drained that I can feel the way each one of my joints is strung. My tummy has freaky red splotches on it. It's sadness again, but a different kind. February has been a long month. An endless month. How many more days of February do we have? OK, I remember the plan: work, service, fun, friends, change your life.

I think that, for today, I"ll give "change your life" a rest. It has been well-served this weekend.

Friends? I wanna talk, but I don't wanna talk. I would love it if one of my friends would call me with a problem. I'm tired of my problems.

Fun? Service? Work? Play is over for a while. Work is going to have to be my solace today. Nothing like conquering a hefty to-do list when life is a bummer:

1. Housework;
2. Guadalupe paperwork;
3. Finish painting Sara's room, replace all the curtain rods, etc... and get her moved back in.
4. Nate needs to fashion a "time capsule" shaped like an old wooden bucket, for a school book report;
5. Need to run 5 miles;
6. Menu for this week, grocery shopping;
7. Supervise birthday thank you notes;
8. One last laundry load, since Nate got a massive nose-bleed last night.
9. Find my language. Huh. Maybe it's in my purse?

A Day in the LIfe

I haven't done a "day in the life" photo journal in a long time.
Wake up Sara Bear-a. The boys can sleep in, but we have Girl Scouts. Oh, my gosh! Still in bed?! Don't make me have to drag you out by your heels! You can see that she hates that idea.
Much as I'd like to spend the whole weekend in my dad's old sweater, I have to try a little harder today. Maybe a nicer shirt, but I'll still wear my wrinkly old garden pants because I like them.
Quick breakfast, cup of tea, newspaper. Ewww. One glance at the front page and I was sputtering in my Cheerios.

This may or may not be the only time Sara rides her rip-stick with a bindi on her forehead and three pounds (well, seems like) hanging from each ear.
We were attending the annual World Association of Girl Scouts' Thinking Day. Eight troops met at St. Thomas More to teach each other about challenges faced by women and girls in other countries. And dress up and eat, of course. Sara's troop studied the effects of the long civil war in Sri Lanka.

I pinned girls into (ahem) saris, and then tried to keep them from the broad gestures that tend to fuck up dainty costuming.

Here's a few, ready for their presentation.

Along with my presence, the presence of my blender was also requested, so we could make mango lassi for all the other troops. I couldn't help contrasting the pristine kitchen at St. Thomas More with our less-than-ideal kitchen at Guadalupe. All this space! And I'll bet they don't have roaches, either....
Mass quantities were consumed.

Home again to scale Mt. Washload. We only do laundry once a week, so it's usually a pile big enough to require switchbacks.

Then, errands. I paid a visit to the New Balance store in Sugar House. They are providing all the shoes for the Title I girls in Girls on the Run, and discounts for the volunteers. I need new running shoes really badly. The New Balance store is a fancier establishment than I usually frequent. I found it disconcerting that a salesperson actually unlaced the shoe and put it on my foot for me, a la Cinderella. They didn't have the one I wanted in my size, but Salesdude has ordered it from Denver. "Don't worry about coming to pick them up," the salesman told me. "I'll just deliver them to Guadalupe when we drop off the order for the girls." Wow! Nice! He was also adamant that I pick out a color. "Oh, I'm really not bothered. Anything's fine." "Aw, c'mon! We have pink! Do you want me to order the pi-" "Green! I love green! Let's get green."

Then I went to Hansen Company Jewelers. I'm finally ready to replace my stolen Wasatch bracelet. I thought I would stop missing it, but my wrist still looks funny without it. Fate was working against me, though.

Got Sara moved into Nathan's room for a couple of days. Kind of a cozy, summer-camp atmosphere. Sara's friend Jessie came over to play. So harmonious... for now.

I need Sara cleared out so I can (finally) paint her room. Today I got all the wall prep and masking done.

Dug the spackle out from under my fingernails and made a mad dash to go out on a dinner date with some new friends. Thanks, Sara. This picture shows just how seriously I take the task of showing my hair who's boss. If I prevailed, it was only temporary.

Now Nate: Nine

This was the easiest "friend" party ever! They are WAY too cool for me - my job is to stay in the background. All the boys wanted to do was talk about Pokemon ("What power is Teledaptor?"), play foosball and watch a European Premier League match. When the kids arrived, they stood in the front hall and shouted about soccer. Then they went in Nate's room and did something that made the walls shake (I didn't look. I was making meat balls and figured it was better not to know too much.) I lured them out with spaghetti, but even then, it isn't easy to get their attention. I have learned with groups of young boys to say everything three times. "Ben, bring me your plate. Ben, bring me your plate. Ben, bring me your pate." I just sort of chant it like a mantra. On the third try, it registers than an adult is talking to them. I amused myself at supper by asking for the stories of the most they have ever bled. That's all I had to say: "Hey, Bryce, what's the most blood you ever got?" Then I just sat back, ate garlic bread and let them tell blood stories. The cake was easy, too. It always is with Nate, because he only ever wants a chocolate ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins. It's his tradition; all I do is stick the candles in it.

Happy Birthday Nate! And thanks for not being SO cool that you didn't come and give me a very noisy, sloppy kiss after your guests left. You can still be my baby sometimes - I won't tell the guys.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cereal Killer

I adore cereal and would eat it at every meal if I didn't have such iron will-power.

NOT! Despite the fact that I am pledged to taking better care of myself as part of the sadness mitigation plan, some things worked against me today. Guadalupe got a huge donation of slightly stale Cocoa Crispies, and I found a box on the staff-room table. Now, I am too much of a health nut to put the Cocoa Crispies in a bowl with milk and eat them with a spoon. Because that would be... premeditated somehow. It would be legitimizing the act. Instead, I just pour some into my hand. Several times. And then pour some into a cup, and use the cup to pour them into my mouth. See, that's spontaneous, so the devil made me do it. Or hormones made me do it.

It wasn't a great day today. I'm starting to lose my little burst of strength and happiness. That's not surprising, though: I knew it would fade. I'll slip, but hopefully not all the way to where I was. My proactivity plan has slowed a bit: Girls on the Run doesn't start until the 28th; the work I'm doing on changing my life is waiting on some necessary information that I'm getting tomorrow. Friends, I had; fun, not so much. I only have lousy days at work maybe once a year, but I occasionally have days that are...ho-hum. The evidence:
  1. I forgot that my hand lotion is very runny and dripped it all over my keyboard, requiring me to pry some keys off to clean it up.
  2. June H., one of my most precious tutors, called me to tell me that college is killing her and that she can't volunteer anymore.
  3. Mel discovered that, when you hold the "shift" key down for 8 seconds, it makes a very amusing noise. It also really fucks up all of the "shift" functionality. All I can say is, better her computer than mine...
  4. Raichle took the night off work so she could head to Lava for a long weekend. I loooooove Lava; and I ache all over. My butt hurts from my ill-considered hockey stop last night. The rest of me aches from the weights routine I did yesterday. There is nothing I would love more than to go check in to the lava Hot Springs Inn and have a good long soak. No, wait! First, I want to go to the Wagon Wheel and have a double Jack Daniels with the bikers; THEN I want a good long soak.
  5. My keyboard tray remains loose despite my many tightenings. I stabilize it with my knee, which I get to proper level by resting one foot on top of the other. Which also makes me want to go to Lava for a soak.
  6. Gail, my most prickly tutor, was especially prickly today.
  7. I gave away my pencil holder with the small holes in it. The holes were perfect for holding all of my many keys in a way that I could find the one I wanted at a glance. Now they are rattling around in a dice cup again, and I have to pour them all out on the desk to find the one I need. Yahtzee.
  8. I had be a firm boss today. Our average daily attendance has dropped this month, and I have been noticing teachers sitting in the office doing paper work when I want them to be spending time with their tutors and students. I had to tell them, "Please no hanging out in the office." I don't like to have to tell them. We're professionals.
  9. I guess I left the garage door open this morning. I remember shutting it, but maybe I bumped the opener as I was putting it down or something. Sara called me at 5:00 and said, "Mom, did you know you left the garage door open?" "I did? I remember closing it! Whoops." "Yeah, Dad is really mad at you. You're going to get yelled at." [I exhale.] "Was anything stolen from the garage?" "No, but Dad says it's more by luck than by judgement. And he says anyone could force the laundry room door and get in the house that way, too. He says to tell you we're lucky we didn't get robbed blind!"

Oh, yuck. Let's see.... Go home and get a scolding? Or stay here at the office and write in my blog?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sara is Twelve Today

"Twelve" is awesome. The best! This particular twelve-year-old still plays with her American Girl dolls; but she designs racy, biker-chick outfits for them out of duct tape. She is serious about art and will spend hours perfecting a horse-drawing. She will also use the oil pastel crayons to streak her hair. She has a collection of piggy banks, all of them empty, because she can't hang on to money to save her life. She drops into the Gad Chutes at Snowbird, but cannot seem to navigate her laundry pile. There is nothing she loves more than playing practical jokes on me and having me get even. She is going to be an archaeologist - this has been the plan since she was five. But mummies freak her out. Shipwrecks, yes; mummies, no.

She still wants to crawl in bed with me on a Saturday to have a snuggle and read poetry. She comes back from birthday parties freaked out because there were kissing games. She and her friends go up to the school parking lot to ride their rip-sticks for hours at a time. She is afraid of the old dolls in the basement. For how much longer do I get to enjoy these little contradictions?

She doesn't get a "friend" party this year. It's her turn for a "family" party. She gets to decide what that means.
For her, that means tuna melts on English muffins. Partly because she loves tuna; partly because she knows Nate hates tuna.
No birthday cake. She wants chocolate fondue. Suits me fine; but it is hard to stick 12 candles into a plate of cut-up stuff.
Shit! It looks like a conflagration! By the way, I have a wonderful camera, but take most of my blog photos with my phone. That's because loading nice photos onto Blogger takes forever! Does that bug anyone else?

Then, off to Classic Skate! My friend Moira came to meet up with us; partly to skate, and also to hear me dish the dirt about how I'm doing. I filled her in on 83% of the gory details of my messed up life, and I was amazed to find her... supportive! When we talked a little last week, I thought she took a different position. Mostly, though, we skated. I don't recall that I have ever roller skated before - maybe once? But ice skating helps. I got faster and faster, and I could skate backwards. But I couldn't switch from backward to forward rapidly, like I can on ice skates. And I can't pick up my foot to do a cross-over. If I really want to be able to play roller derby, I need to be able to do that. Moira wants to practice! Maybe we'll go a few more times! Classic Skate is great, if you wait until just before they close. At 7 PM, the place is packed. Look out for:
  1. Little bittie children on little bittie scooters, darting among the adults like minnows;
  2. People who are really, really good;
  3. People who are really, really bad;
  4. Polygamous sister-wives, holding hands as they skate four abreast and two deep. In long skirts;.
  5. The 14-year old boy, six-foot-four and all flailing limbs, windmilling all over the track. In sunglasses;
  6. The jump ramp, which seems to be ever-moving, ever-shifting. You never know where it will be next and whether you will be forced to go over it.
  7. Strollers.
  8. Tricycles.
  9. Anyone who comes barrelling up behind you, screaming things like, "Cowabunga!", "Oh, my God! Look out!" "AH! AAAAAH! PEOPLE!" or "SORRY! SORRY!"
  10. Ego. I was getting pretty zippy and thought I would cleverly hockey stop to show off for Moira, which sent my flying onto my ass. I am going to have the biggest fucking bruise. Luckily my backside is the kind that...well...absorbs shock. I would be fine if I hadn't landed on my phone. As it is, I think my run tomorrow is going to be interesting.

Unless I forget to mention it, we played laser tag, which made me think of nothing so much as being a really free-spirited Costco checker.

Happy birthday, Sara! Can you stay twelve forever?

[I was strong again today! I know now; regardless of how my problems are resolved, I will be OK. I suspect there are some more sad days coming before I'm through this pickle one way or the other. BUT. I can accept whatever comes because I have super friends, good Scotch, upbeat music and dark chocolate.]