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 ...club. 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.