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.

 

 

Coming out of the closet

I’ve been struggling to write.  I haven’t been especially inspired.  Really it all began with the shutting down of Single in the Southwest.

That was my choice – yes it was, in many ways – but to be totally honest, I hated ending that blog. It still exists, it’s just that I don’t write there any more and no one has access to it unless I allow it.

My Ex, T-dub, hated Single. Vehemently.

And I sort of can’t blame him, yet I repeatedly explained the math to him – stop giving me so much to write about and I will quit publicly raking you over the coals. I thought it was simple, yet apparently he didn’t see it that way.

In a moment of, I’m not sure what, frustration? indignation? I got so sick of him and his oh poor me I am such a victim of her writing act that I decided to rid the world of Single in the Southwest.

I understand why I did it and in the moment it seemed like the right thing to do – for the children.

Not that I believe the children were being hurt by anything I had to say – they didn’t even care about the blog – but T said that he would cooperate and be respectful if the blog was gone so poof! gone.

And I called his bluff. He “spoke” to me one time after that – ONE TIME.

And that was via text and just enough to inform me that no, he would not be paying his portion of the kids medical bills.

That was a year ago.

Could I have had my First Amendment Rights upheld in a court room? Probably. I certainly wasn’t writing anything that wasn’t true.images-2

I didn’t lie about him calling me a whore. I didn’t lie about him dying his chest hair. I didn’t make it up when he threatened me in public – in front of the kids and their entire football team – screaming that I had failed my children.

I also didn’t only write about him. There was a series on vibrators, quite a bit about parenting teenagers, and the one about work that almost cost me my job. And yet, he thought it was all about him.

Typical.

So yes, there was a good chance that I could have kept on typing away but I grew tired of the fight.

I also had a lot of fear. What if a Judge saw me as a bad parent because I wrote the things that I wrote? What if we stood in a courtroom and the Judge agreed that I was harming the children with my words? What if the judge called me a whore?

Then, the moment preceding the moment where I threw my hands up in the air yelling “I give up,” T was in the middle of insisting that of course, the blog could stay, but that he would be able to determine if anything that I wrote was suitable or acceptable.

In other words he believed that he should have final editorial approval before I hit “Publish.”

C.E.N.S.O.R.S.H.I.P.

Fuck that noise.

So, Blog – Gone.

Writer’s block – here for the long haul.

One of my greatest sadnesses when I look back over the years is realizing just how much of my life has been run by fear – primarily fear of him.

I have this deep anxiety-producing paranoia of getting in trouble which most likely started when, surprise surprise, I was a young kid and didn’t want to get in trouble.

Unfortunately I lived my marriage in a way that created the same dynamic. And then it showed up in a few other areas of my world, like work, and suddenly it became crippling.

I’d like to say that it became the litmus test for all decisions that I made, but the truth is, it didn’t.

I’m still independent and feisty enough to not let anyone else tell me what I can and cannot do.

I just suffered the consequences afterwards. In other words, I got in trouble.

So with my kids’ well-being at stake, I cowered in the face of fear and shut my trouble making mouth.

And in the process, shut myself right down.

But things are shifting for me. Or I actually need them to shift and so here is a step that will hopefully take me in that direction.

Over the last couple of years and the last few court hearings, I have come out on top – way on top. I have seen that the court system may be really flawed, but if you get a wise judge who is also a parent, sometimes things work out the way that they should; the way that is actually best for the children and…fair.

With the freedom of a few wins and watching a judge put him in his place and validate that I am a good mother, I am able to shed some of my fears.

So today, I am taking a monumental step. I am coming out of hiding.

Have I thought this through?

Probably not thoroughly enough, but I tend to be impulsive anyway.

I’m sick of the fear. I am sick of hiding. Sick to death of handing my power over to him. And living in secrecy has been doing just that.

So, today, I will link HDD to my own Facebook page.

And right here, right now I will say:

I , Suzanne Strazza, am High Desert Darlin, the artist formerly known as Single in the Southwest.

And I am a writer, a mother, a lover.

I am exercising my First Amendment rights.

And I am free.

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Total Overwhelm

I am truly a pinhead when it comes to social networking.

With my last blog and a basic Facebook page, I was able to Write. Publish. Automatically post on FB. View.

It took me about a year and half to figure out all of that. Thing is, I wasn’t trying to keep anything secret, so my friends were my blog audience and faithful readers and I could contact anyone I wanted through the blog or Facebook because there was no masking my identity. My print by-line even gave the web address.

And look at where that got me… Divorce and Custody Court.

It also almost got me fired because I mentioned that talking to a certain client got me wet.

So, there is definitely an upside to anonymity.

The downside all revolves around reaching readers.

At first I thought that if I just built it they would come.

That didn’t happen.

Then I thought that if High Desert Darlin’ had her own Facebook page, that people would stumble across it and congratulate themselves on their discovery.

Didn’t happen either.

Also had to come up with another name because I couldn’t figure out how to get around the fake name filter.

So then someone  suggested a secret group on Facebook through my real Facebook page, which I have created.

I only included a few folks who I can totally totally trust. A couple of them seemed thrilled, others haven’t even acknowledged their special status.

But beyond sending out invitations, I can’t figure out anything else. My biggest struggle is how to get my posts from here to show up for the secret group without showing up for all the world to see.

Part of the problem is that I have terrible ADD and once something gets even the tiniest bit frustrating, I move on.

So, to be quite honest, I have 4 Facebook pages, 3 separate blogs and 2 twitter accounts. I spend a lot of time signing into Facebook as one person so that I can see what shows up on another identity’s public page.  Yesterday I friended and unfriended myself 7 times and logged in and out at least 22 times.

This is fucking ridiculous.

The Bee across the street seems to be able to help – if I can only find the time to get over there.

I want so badly to figure this out and feel like a totally hipster writer. I also want, so badly, to be able to write as just little ol’ me without having to worry about the repercussions.

I really just want to twitch my nose and fix all of this.

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I guess it’s really happening

The cat’s out of the bag. Sort of.

I have now told exactly 6 people about this blog – 6 people who I trust with my life.

I need to be extra super cautious so that I don’t find myself back in the courtroom. I’m getting really fucking tired of it.

So I reached out to these six people asking them to be my friend on my brand spanking new Facebook page. Who knows if they’ll accept my requests given that they have no clue as to who I am.

But the Facebook page is the link between this page and the world at large.

I’m really just building the Facebook page.  I haven’t even put information such as my hometown in there because the damn system won’t let me be vague. You should have seen me trying to put my fake name on the page – Facebook is smarter than I would have thought and I’ve spent a fair amount of time recently telling Mark Zuckerberg to bugger off.

But I can totally make up an identity – completely recreate me. I can like whomever I want and admit to reading the stupidest books in the world and confess that I can’t get enough of Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

Yes, I have seen them in concert – white jumpsuit and all – rocked my world.

Anyway, I can be tall, blond, sexy, intelligent, a concert pianist and a fabulous pie maker – anything I want – I can make it all up.  I could even act well-bred and my readers would be nonethewiser.

Until someone actually reads what I’ve written.

But the biggest thing is that I have been dabbling in starting a new blog and it really has been just that, dabbling. I’ve started probably 4 or 5 and then given up on them because they weren’t “quite right.” But truth be told, I need to write for an audience. If I’m just writing from myself, I do that in my journal or on little scraps of paper that I keep in the bull-shaped tea-pot in my office.

A blog, or an article, or a column, is for public consumption and therefore forces me to write as if someone is going to read it. I try to be a little more succinct, more particular about my word choice and certainly a bit more humorous.  At the very least, I will correct my spelling and grammar.

So, from the day that I shut down my last blog until I sent out those 6 invitations today, I’ve been nothing more than a journaler, but those six people, especially if they accept my friend requests, will transform me back into a WRITER.

So then, people might have expectations that I will actually write something, so then I actually have to do just that and then it becomes habit (a habit that I have missed) and something that I do.

6 puncey invitations just put me back into the seat in front of the typewriter.  It’s quite nerve-wracking actually, but also so goddamn exciting.

I’m back.  Whomever I decide to be is yet to be determined, but the bottom line is that I am writing again.