drips and drabs

For some reason, I still feel the need to not shit talk the people around me who have recently shown their true colors.

I think I’m doing it out of integrity, but who knows. Maybe I’m doing it out of fear – fear that these people won’t like me?

That would be stupid given the circumstances.

And not out of the realm of possibility

I do know, and I used to tell my ex-husband this all of the time, if you don’t want people to know what you are doing, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

Or, “Don’t give me so much to write about.”

All I know is that there is a major storm raining down and if I am to be honest about my life, I have to share a few little bits – drips and drabs so to speak – primarily for my readers’ understanding.

So here goes:

The person who said, “I’m not your person,” when I called from the hospital.

The friend that dropped me like a hot potato to pursue MXB so immediately after the breakup that he and I were still sharing a bed.

The friend who comes in to my work and instead of saying hi, skulks out without making eye contact.

Or the friend, whose first words upon hearing of my son’s accident were “He’d better have learned his lesson,” not “Holy shit, poor kid, I can’t imagine what he’s going through right now.”

As if my son doesn’t care one whit about what happened and how fortunate they all are.

And let’s not forget the good friends from whom I have not heard one single word since all of this began.

One might say to me, “This is about them, not you.”

A person might also say, “Get over it, you’ve got much bigger things to deal with.”

Or, “Those people don’t matter, you know who your real friends are.”

Or, “You are so loved, don’t let any of that shit get in your way.”

Or my kids might (did) say, “Those people are not your community, Mom. You’re a real member of the real Mancos. We know how to treat our neighbors.”

And yes, I can hear all of those things, and on a good day, I can see all of those truths.

But those people and their actions have hurt me so deeply; have made this breakup, loss of a life built together, loss of stability, giardia starvation, and accident thing a whole lot more difficult.

Needlessly.

I have felt pain in my very core.

And the worst part is that all of the comments, actions, and inactions, have also hurt my children; they too are being shut out and unsupported.

And, it’s given them yet another reason, like they needed more, to worry about their mother.

I know that festering and harboring resentments and taking everything personally isn’t helping the situation. I am trying my damnedest to find compassion and forgiveness; it’s hard.

I can also admit that probably no one has done anything to intentionally hurt me or the boys, but there is a careless, insensitive, lack of integrity that abounds here that just doesn’t work for me or my family.

So, now that that little bit is out there, I feel like I will be able to share, more openly and honestly, a little more of who I am at this moment.

 

 

 

 

my buddies, my pals

Now that I am moving out of my crisis fog (headache gone, giardia on its way out, heart healing, excitement building) I have the space to think about more than being a spinster, and here is what I am thinking this morning:

Going through a breakup isn’t just about the two people splitting. It’s really not when there is a family involved.

But this isn’t about that.

This is about the friends; the people on the periphery who are affected by the breakup in one way or another. This is when you find out who the real friends are.

Last time – the time we’d like to forget – I leaned so heavily on my people that I will never be able to repay them.

K and K – obviously the best two humans on the planet. Then there was the gal who warned me not to get involved and never once said, “I told you so” after the implosion. Or the friend that had the doctor call me to provide me with some relief from the relentless spinout. Or the friend that said, “He’s an asshole” based entirely on the fact that she believed me to be too good for him without ever having met him.

We all need those people to jump on our asshole bandwagon sometimes.

So this go round, it’s the same thing; who is on the team, who isn’t.

Let me tell you something folks, my team is BADASS!

I’m talking about feeling the love from around the world – even as far away as Africa.

I’m going to mention a few here. If I don’t specifically mention you, don’t take offense – I see you, I appreciate you, I am thankful for you. Also, those of you listen to me day in and day out and cry with me and get outraged with me and remind me that life is full of joy, you know who you are and that I wouldn’t be breathing without you.

First and foremost, K and K. Once again, scraping me off of the rocks, even though I haven’t had much time for either of them over the years. They just keep showing up with orange Fanta and Lilly Pulitzer-pink gladioli.

Best friend from second grade to whom I haven’t spoken in 2 years? And that was in a crisis. I never even heard what happened after the crisis, but it doesn’t matter – here she is.

Best friend from college; my Buffalo Soldier.

Africa and Oregon – high school “sisters” – they warm my heart.

My friend who sends me a screen shot of her phone at 4:20 with her funny looking dog sitting with a garden gnome. How can a person not feel better after that?

North Carolina – I adore you.

I am so appreciative of the offers to hide away in Durango or watch Netflix and play with puppies or escape into a private little apartment (and flowers and morning texts telling me I am wonderful) or to come over and play with dinosaurs.

My bitch friend who showed up at work just to say, “I love you.” She gets what I mean by that even if no one else does.

The one who is taking me away this weekend to our old stomping grounds.

The new friend who reached out because she saw me lose my shit at work.

Or the one who I spontaneously ate lunch with who said, “If you want to feel better I’d be happy to tell you more stories about my crazy world.”

Hers is a bit more “chaotic” than mine. She’s a way tougher cookie than I am. And she always makes me smile.

What about the wise one in the City Market Pharmacy line who looked at me appraisingly and said, “Oh you’re fine.” She said it so convincingly (almost dismissively) that I believed it and am 1,000 times better because of it.

I get heart emojis on my phone.

I get loving messages on Facebook.

The former mayor? A couple of words from her and I remember that I am a powerhouse – because she is too.

Utah – you are my hero. If you can do what you have done, I can do anything.

People have been reaching out publicly and privately. People have been funny, kind, understanding, non-judgmental.

People have cared about my children; they understand, without explanation, that my kids are also going through something brutal.

These are people who show me what true friends are; that time and distance don’t matter, that being cool (or not) doesn’t matter, and that show up in ways that I respect and welcome.

It’s so easy to get caught in my day-to-day life – to focus my friendship attention on only those who are right in front of me.

But this has made me see that 52 years of life has created a community that spans the planet, the years, and all of the phases of my never-dull world.

I am lifted up, carried, cherished.

I just want to thank you. I want you all to know that this has been a whole lot easier because of your love and attention. I am so glad that you are on my team.

 

 

Interesting Emotions

Interesting in a way that, as an observer, I would say, “Huh, I didn’t see that coming,” but I wasn’t an observer, I was the one having the emotions, so instead of being intrigued, I was momentarily overwhelmed.

Here’s the situation…

My ex-in-laws showed up at graduation yesterday. They traveled here together, even though they have been divorced since the year that I married their son.

She and I had been close in some ways, not so much in others. She’s a little batshit crazy. I haven’t thought much about missing her or her presence in my life. It’s been easier to write her off as a loon and forget that there was ever any connection between us.

He and I were very close, even in the early years after the divorce.  Then, once, he mentioned my (other) blog and inquired if I thought it might be hurtful to the boys. Since shutting down that blog was my ex’s raison d’etre, I figured dad took his side and considered me to be the horrible, emotionally abusive, bad guy, that his son portrayed me as.

Then, last year, in a desperate attempt to get my ex to do right by his children and help with their medical bills (which are astronomical) I wrote dad and begged for his assistance – in any way, shape, or form. His response…

Radio Silence.

Absolutely nothing.

It hurt, it was rude, it felt just like the Silent Treatment that my ex has given me for the last year and a half. I felt, that as the mother of his grandchildren, I at least deserved a “Thanks but no thanks because you, HDD, are a monster.”

But, it gave me another place to lay my indignation, frustration, and sadness for my boys.

As you can imagine, the prospect of seeing them yesterday at my son’s Big Day, was a bit nerve-wracking. I already had all of these emotions going about my baby graduating from High School, the end of an era, seeing my ex and his new family and wishing that somehow we could all get along for the boys’ sake and then there was the question of “How will his parents treat me?”

There was also the question of “How will I treat them?”

I walked into the auditorium determined to maintain my composure and be gracious, if given the opportunity, for the sake of the children. I was striving to be the bigger person and not ignore them as they had ignored me. And I was also prepared to be persona non grata yet maintain my joy for Greg.

After the ceremony, we all stood outside socializing (separately, of course) and just as things were starting to wind down and I had fallen into a conversation with friends who unknowingly were helping me keep my feet on the ground (thank you T and D), the ex-in-laws approached.

Oh. Holy. Fuck.

And suddenly, I was wrapped in a huge bear hug with dad and as self-righteously angry as I wanted to be, I felt myself hugging him back so very tightly. I could actually feel my guard letting down, could feel the physical and mental shedding of the armor.

And it felt really good.

When mom finally got there, I was able to turn and sincerely tell her how happy I was to see her.

I wasn’t the bad guy.  I wasn’t going to be ostracized. I didn’t have to hang onto my anger and hurt.

What I felt was relief. And love. And compassion for these two kind human beings who are struggling to move through the world just as the rest of us are.

They are doing the very best that they can and I can’t imagine that their position is a comfortable one. Talk about being in the middle.

Their son, to whom their loyalties must lie. Their new daughter-in-law (the third they’ve had to adjust to) who is really, from their perspective, not part of the problem and is just this young girl who walked into a hornet’s nest and started having children so then she is also the mother of their grandchildren.

There are the two children (theirs) who are adorable and innocent and ignorant of the shit show. Then, there are my two children, who have been emotionally beaten to a pulp throughout the disintegration of their parents’ relationship. And, Bobby, my child who they tried to make their child, who honestly just wants a place to call home.

And the last person caught in the awkwardness of the moment was MCB, who, as always, handled the entire thing with grace. His well-mannered upbringing showed in everything from his firm handshake with dad to his bow tie (which, yes, he tied himself.)

So these lovely people, older people, people who deserve a little peace in the twilight of their lives, are having to navigate waters that none of us more directly involved have been able to do successfully.

And they handled it like champs. Which gave me pause, then the presence of mind to put on my big girl panties, take the high road, and just show a little love and a lot of appreciation.

It was a big lesson and an emotional upheaval and a gift.

This Man

I used to write a lot about my dating and sex life and it was fun. But then I became involved in a serious relationship and it felt wrong to put anything about it or him out there in public.

Our relationship is sacred to me as is his privacy.

But today, I am filled with such overwhelming love and joy that I just have to share.

MCB is kind and warm and smart and funny and creative and introspective and lovely and well mannered and generous and delightful; he makes me swoon.

Yesterday he had an event for which he had to “dress.” He excitedly pulled out a suit; this was no slouchy, cheap fabric, ill-fitting suit; this was the real deal.

Next came the crisp white shirt, beautiful dress shoes, belt with initials and a bow tie.

Yes, he ties his own bow ties.

When he used his clothes brush to remove the dog hair from his overcoat, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

The thing is, this is my childhood, my upbringing.

I spent so many years and so much energy resisting and rebelling against Brooks Brothers that I convinced myself that “classy” wasn’t on my list of desires in a partner. I married a blue-collar guy from a steel town who wouldn’t be caught dead in a tie or real shoes.

And I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with that or that one is better than the other; it’s more that in my old age, I am really drawn to what is familiar; what connects me to my wonderful childhood.

And I’m not saying that how a person dresses is more important than who the person is, but even Shakespeare observed, “Apparel oft proclaims the man.”

Clothing isn’t everything, but MCB is. There is so much that is admirable and agreeable and lovable; so much that makes me smile each and every day. So much for which I am thankful. So much more than meets the eye.

But the candy that meets the eye is pretty spectacular.

The day I’ve been waiting for all of my life

Or at least as long as I have been evolved enough to appreciate the genius of David Sedaris.

I’ll admit, the first time I heard his voice on NPR, I hit scan. It was nasally and effeminate and what I perceived as a tiny bit whiney.

Then, one day I heard him talking about living in France and missing hearing English and the highlight of his day being when he tuned into NPR and heard Terry Gross say “Fresh Air,” and I was hooked.

And for all I know, it didn’t happen that way and he said he couldn’t stand Terry Gross and maybe it wasn’t even David Sedaris, but this is how it has played in out my mind over and over, so now it’s truth.

And I have no idea how I came across “Me Talk Pretty One Day” – maybe it was on the new release shelf at the library, maybe I heard Terry Gross talking about it, maybe Scott Simon. I’ll never remember, which is somewhat sad because it was a pivotal moment in my life and  I like to remember those moments that changed my existence forever.

Shit. I had a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old when it was published. I honestly can’t believe I found time to read.

But that was at the time in my life when I would announce to the entire household, “Mamma has to poo,” and then run into our tiny bathroom where I could sit on the pot and rest my head on the edge of the sink and breathe, trying to remember that I liked my family. Occasionally I did some reading in there too so that could be how I found time for Talking Pretty.

I actually hardly ever pooed

I was enjoyed it from the get-go, but when I got to the story about Easter and the Flying Bell…

Changed perspective on the world.

And, this is when I decided that I would become the Female David Sedaris.

If you have not read Jesus Shaves, you must.

I have since devoured, multiple times, every word that he has produced.  I have come to find great comfort in his snarky little voice; his brilliance has become my guiding light.

I want to live in France.

I want Hugh.

Once, I was asked to teach a writing class for teenagers. My first class was awkward, as always; angsty teenage girls (only girls, as no teenage boy would EVER sign up for a writing class, after school, for no credit) many of them homeschooled, so incredibly uncomfortable in an 8×8 room with other people, then Breakfast Club Ally Sheedy was in there as well as the two besties who wrote “fiction” about each other’s love lives.

I began the class by talking about “Voice” and finding one’s own voice in writing. I read several bits from different authors not only as examples, but as eye-openers into a world of stories that didn’t involve blood-sucking, glitter-glued vampires.

I saved my favorite for last: Jesus Shaves.

Again, a must-read. At least watch the video.

In brief, the story is about French class, in France, with people whose only thing in common was that they all had other languages as firsts and were trying to communicate in a second one about, Easter.

I won’t say anything to ruin it for you, but I will say that if someone was Jesus-sensitive, it could be a bit offensive.

Which is what I began to think, about 1/2 way through my reading, and watching the faces of the sisters-with-religious-hair go from timid smiles, to shock, to horror, to “You’re going to burn in Hell, Teacher.”

And I didn’t know what to do.

It was like that time I was waiting tables and I was really stoned and for the first time in my service career, I carried four water glasses, instead of the inconvenient three, in my diminutive hands to a table of thirsty middle-aged vacationers.  I was so excited that I began telling them about my tiny hands handicap and how it’s been plaguing me for years. Half way through that, the part of my brain that wasn’t connected to my mouth said, “Honey, they know you’re stoned. You should stop.”

But the problem was, I couldn’t. To do so would have been even more awkward that the rambling telling of the victory.

So I finished my litany and skulked away to the kitchen to do a bong hit.

And that’s how I felt with the ass-length braids staring up at me. What was I to say, “Oh my, have I offended thee?”

So I rambled on, rushing through, just to end this torturous moment. But then I got to the bit about the bell and I couldn’t contain myself. It began as a giggle and soon became a cackle, then a roar. I tried to contain it, but then snot came out of my nose, so I gave up.

Fuck the Bible Sisters. Fuck Ally Sheedy. Fuck the latent lesbians.

Fuck teenage girls.

So years later, here I am, bouncing in my seat because in just 11 hours and 7 minutes, I will be sitting in my front row seat (because I did buy the first two tickets sold) gazing adoringly, and listening raptly to this man who is my soulmate. I know, too, that he is going to look at me and think “I’ll be she’s funny – I want to be her friend. She’s probably a brilliant writer too.” and after the show, he will ask me to be pen pals so we can exchange witty observations on humanity and he will offer to introduce me to Scott Simon, then suggest that we read together on Weekend Edition, just wouldn’t that be a hoot.

I am so excited about tonight, and have been since I first heard of his appearance, that I am am actually becoming a tiny bit sad because it’s almost over.

And I have so much angst about meeting and him not having the space to really to know me until it’s too late and he’s back in his hotel room missing out. Or worse, not meeting him at all.

MyAdorablyCuteBoyfriend is a saint because he is acting very enthusiastic about this night but when I said, “You might not like him,” he responded, “I already figure that I won’t,” but he’s going with me anyway and might even wear a bow-tie.

So now I am down to 10 hours and 59 minutes and I’m thinking that I better stop writing and go scour my closet so I can find just the right attire to meet the coolest uncool man I’ll ever know.

 

Life Elevated

I have a lot of days off from work right now, many of which I have spent sleeping, eating, reading, and sleeping again.

I get panicky that I haven’t “done anything” over break so I go into a tailspin and try to cram in a bunch of activities. Then, I go into a tailspin because I am not at home, taking advantage of the alone-time and writing the Great American Novel.

In-my-head is a hard place to live.

Saturday morning I left the house to go run a few errands and see a noon movie with a friend. The plan was to return home immediately after the film so that I could have part of the afternoon at home alone.

After the movie and strolling around town and a trip to TJ Maxx, I arrived home at 6:00 pm, after my children.

So Sunday was going to be a visit to MCB at his jobsite and a hike from there, then back home to wrap up my masterpiece.

Or start it.

When I arrived at his workplace, I was offered Prime Rib for lunch (with Green Chili). Suddenly I was frozen; I was spontaneous yesterday – could I handle 2 days in a row?

But lunch sounded so good, as did a little bit of extra time with MCB.

“You can hike afterwards,” he suggested.

No, no I can’t. I can’t because I only allotted a certain amount of time away from my quiet house and if I take the time to eat, then I won’t have time to hike and still get home before I turn into a pumpkin.

I ate. I mean really, who could turn down prime rib with chili?

After lunch I stood by my truck, totally stymied. It was a beautiful day – was I really going to blow a day in the canyons because I was inflexible? Was I going to choose being an introverted, hermitish, homebody over  slickrock?

I was facing west as I pondered.

I gazed out at the horizon, steeped in indecision, and thought, “Utah is right there.”

And I jumped in the truck and drove, calling out the window, “If I’m not home by morning…”

See, I can be totally spontaneous. I can fly where the winds blow me. I can embrace adventure.

Besides, it was quiet time in the car – or almost quiet – Tchaikovsky, sun on the sandstone, blue sky forever, and I didn’t say a word to anyone for the entire trip.

I had been struggling with sadness that morning and with each step, the sadness slid off of me and I felt ecstatic.

Life Elevated.

 

Man of My Dreams

I had a total swoon moment last night.

Something I was reading reminded me of high school english and Charles Dickens.

I said, “Now there’s a book I want to reread – A Tale of Two Cities.”

His response, “It was the best of times…”

Pitter. Patter.

The wedding

Someone asked me the other day if weddings are hard for me.  I am assuming she wondered because I am a bitter-old-divorced-hag – as is she, minus the bitter, old, and hag bits.

I thought about it and realized that I go to very few weddings these days.  I think last night was number three in twice that number of years.

My response, “I don’t think so. But maybe?  I guess we’ll find out.”

I think my biggest concern going in was that I would be cynical and disparaging. I already had a bug up my ass about people who spend god only knows how much on a wedding dress that they 1) are only going to wear for a few hours, and 2) will totally trash walking around in the grass and the mud. There are starving children in Africa after all.

I spent a few hundred on mine. I was going for the simplistic homespun look and I got it.

I hated my dress.

Maybe not right in the moment, but in the years afterwards, all I could think was “Blah.”

It has now been cut up and dyed by a teenage girl who saw the potential and didn’t care that it was a wedding dress from a wedding that ended in divorce.

Back to last night…

It was stupendous. There was so much sweetness in the air, in the crowd, and yes, in the Vera Wang dress. I cried again and again, but not even once out of sadness or pity for myself. This wedding was what love is really about.

Really, the most difficult part was trying to figure out what to wear . I ended up not in the boots, not in Grandma A’s gorgeous flowered and veiled hat, and not in eggplant lace. It actually doesn’t matter what dress I donned, because I sported the best accessory there; MCB in his crisp and classic East Coast wedding attire including navy blue blazer and bow tie. I would have looked good in my bathrobe.

The bridesmaids all wore dresses and cowboy boots. Right? I was so excited to have an opportunity to roll my eyes and feel great disdain for them being so predictable but you should have seen the dresses…each one a different style and color and oh so cool. The groomsmen wore shirts that I had actually picked out in a moment of total wedding planning frenzy and let me just say – I can dress a guy.

Then Vera came down the aisle, in a huge poof of fluff and I thought, Oh, now I get it. That’s why gals spend so much money and (energy and tears) on their wedding gown. She fucking rocks.

And she totally knows it.

And she is psyched.

And I never hated my wedding dress as much as I did at that very moment.

The rest of the evening was perfect in every way.

I know the groom better than I do the bride – he and I have been friends, for many a year. Seeing him standing up there with gushiness and joy oozing out of him made me realize just how much love I feel for him.

I was so overjoyed that it took the wind right out of me.

Gratitude and humility were the overrunning themes of the evening and who could possibly ask for anything better?

It was a magnificent wedding, a magnificent couple.

And no matter what my cynical bitter self says about the likelihood of divorce, the hope to which I bore witness, made even tragically damaged me believe in happily ever after.

Talking about Sex with Teens

I have no problem bringing up the subject with my sweet (and sexually active) boys. Of course, I wish that at their tender ages, they weren’t sexually active, but I have the choice to pretend they aren’t because I don’t want them to be OR to suck it up and deal with reality and then make everyone completely uncomfortable by raising the topic at the dinner table.

The themes vary – I wouldn’t want anyone to get bored with the same lecture every time.

My rotation includes (not necessarily in this order):

STD’s

Condom use

Teen pregnancy

Getting a girl pregnant when you live in a very religious community and how any ensuing choices might not be yours

Getting out of this teeny town and that not happening if your girlfriend is pregnant

Respect for girls

Drinking and Sex

No means No

Love and Sex

Do not brag

And so on…

They roll their eyes, they tell me that they have a lot of testosterone, they assure me that they would never pressure a girl, and they repeat after me “I will go to college and not be a father at 17 working at the local pizza parlor.”

Then I was talking to one of their friends yesterday her father’s one lecture was:

“If you come home bred up I’ll beat that baby right on out of you.”

And….there’s always that approach.

 

joyous

Last night, dinner was completely chaotic.  Greg, Peter, and Bobby came home battered and bruised from football, wearing their new jerseys, which prompted lots of conversation, which led to a lot of talk about tonight’s game, and which was then somehow connected to how much they hate their new Spanish teacher. Bobby needed to purchase some (expensive) items online for his college class, my cute boyfriend (MCB) was preparing to leave at 3:00 am for a fishing trip and we are still living out of boxes.

Usually whomever doesn’t cook, does the dishes, but I did both last night so that the big strong boys could move some furniture, so that I can try to finish unpacking and settling in while MCB is out of town. I also hit Amazon.com hard.

And we could all smell cat pee, but we couldn’t locate it.

At one point, while moving from the stove to the fridge, I completely stalled out in one of those “I have no idea what I was doing” moments and I just stood there observing the chaos of my life, my home, my family…

And I was overjoyed with love and contentment.

I never would have imagined this would be my life.  When I married, I thought it was forever, so I pictured myself at almost-fifty with that man and our two sons, who would be long distance runners and kayakers or artists. I envisioned calm, quiet, and settled for years in the house we built ourselves out in the country.

NOT having just moved into a new rental right in town, that we chose because it was convenient for all of the friends. NOT with 3 teenage boys, including the little scrapper that turned up on my doorstep a year ago. NOT with 3 football players. NOT with a loving, kind, and generous (in heart and soul) man who is considerably younger than I.

Certainly, NOT enjoying noise, confusion, and a million things swirling around all at the same time.

I went to sleep watching MCB pack. We woke up together at 3. As I lay there watching him dress and zip up his duffel, I sighed in total peace and thought, “I am the luckiest gal in the world.”