I think I just committed to leaving town

Whoa, shit. I just put a feeler out there on Facebook for job or house in Moab. oh my – I said it out loud.

I think it’s going to be really tough to find both so I need to put the word out there as far and as soon as I can, which feels a little like committing even though I have nothing in place.

So now it feels like this might actually happen. I’m spinning a little and will probably chicken out more than once but today, this is what I want to do.

Why Moab when you’ve always said that it’s too much like Summit County and you could never live there?

Number one reason is that I still want to hang out with my boys so I don’t want to go some place like Boulder, UT. Moab to Durango is completely manageable and they love Moab.

Rationalization – it won’t be so Breckenridge-y in the winter. Hopefully.

I want to live in the Desert. I am a desert person. I’m a goddamn lizard. It’s where I go to feel joy so why not live in the middle of it?

Duh.

And, suddenly, I find myself totally free.

Or I will be as soon as those boys of mine find an apartment.

I haven’t been this free since the day I fell for my ex-husband. That’s a long time. And not a lot of people get this opportunity at 52.

I want to write. I want to write about the desert. Hard to do when you’re not there.

Am I running away?

I’d be lying if I didn’t say yes.

Sure I am. But not with my tail between my legs.

There are definitely things down the road that I don’t want to be around for – and I don’t want my crazy to show up in Mancos again. Once was plenty.

This place is home – no doubt about that. I am so honored to be a part of this community. I couldn’t have raised my boys in a place any better than this.

And, before here, I never lived anywhere longer than 2 years. I am a wanderer, a loner, an adventurer.

I used to love moving; I loved the excitement of finding the secrets of a new place; to find my favorites – book store (if there is one, which there is in Moab), coffee shop, thrift store; to be able to explore some place where you don’t already have your favorite running trail or your go-to storm watching site. I love nesting in a new home.

I detest packing up an entire house. So this time I am going to sell the fuck out of my belongings and get out of Dodge with about 1/4 of what I currently possess.

Of course, there’s the piece about being so sad and wanting a fresh new world for a little while.

Breaking up in a small town just sucks. No way around it.

But, it’s time for an adventure. It feels a little ephemeral – like it’s just another random idea on a long list of fantasies. So I figure if I start talking about it, it just might happen.

SOOOOOOO scary and yet, every time I picture living in the Desert, my heart rate picks up just a little bit and I find myself smiling.

So, I’m putting it out there and am going to see what the universe presents.

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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Binging

What is it about the word “budget” that makes me want to hit the mall?

At least Amazon and PRANA dot com.

All I want is new shit to wear in my poverty: new things to distract me from my empty stomach. All under the guise of  “If I dress like a writer then I will be a writer and then I will write the Great American Novel and make it onto the New York Times Best Seller List and it will be totally worth the new yoga pants. And, if I don’t get those cute pants, then when it’s time to sit down and write all I will have to wear is distractingly uncomfortable clothing that will not allow my brain the freedom it needs to put words on paper.”

So yeah, I need to shop.

Most of the time, online window shopping works for me. I go to multiple websites, spend hours finding just the right items (including the solar powered rechargeable battery charger for my new wireless mouse that goes with my new desktop computer) fill up my shopping basket, narrow it down, then close the page and leave feeling totally satisfied.

But when I am on this tight of a budget, the kind where I am not allow to spend any money on any thing except living expenses, a few full carts doesn’t make a dent in the need to spend.

Eventually I’ll get into the groove, I will enjoy seeing how much money I can save. Having been extremely successful at denying myself food for several years, I can easily starve my spending habits and gain a little pride with every penny that lands in the piggy bank.

It’s just that getting to the place of sensible self denial takes a lot of tenacity that I’m not really feeling today as much as I am the need to have a new dress to wear on my book tour.

 

Change is coming

I really wanted to write “Winter is coming” but that has nothing to do with anything since this is about fresh change, not oppressive, cold change, and besides, frigid, snowy, uncomfortable winter is already here and I’m already tired of falling down on ice.

Change though – change is acomin’, in the air, around the bend, HERE. NOW.

And I am psyched.

I don’t know what all of the changes are going to be, but I know things are going to get a big shake up because I dyed my hair purple.

And hair dying is the gateway activity.

I also redid my office and painted my desk orange with polka-dots. My mother would have a hissy fit if she knew that I had painted over the antique finish on the antique desk. But, she’ll never know.

I want to write and write and write.  I did a brief interview with Pam Houston the other day and as I wrote it up I had a sudden craving for journalism and once again being a sleuth; tracking down leads that will result in bringing corruption and crime to light and maybe even me being awarded the Pulitzer.

Or, I can earn the Pulitzer with my heartfelt, raw, gripping, memoir, or my novel which the New York Times will call, “Astounding.”

I’m on a roll here.

One thing that is changing – for sure – is a move. Bigger house, lots of inside and outside space, hot tub, a plethora of windows, and the coolest kitchen island you’ve ever seen.

Midlife crisis?

Maybe.

Who cares?

Space Space Space

I need it want it crave it.

Am going to get it.

And between the hair and the new house, the change ball is rolling.

 

Such great news (said with deep sarcasm)

My sons’ friend had a healthy baby boy last night. Yay!

He’s 17. She’s, maybe, 16.

Yay!

She still has braces.

It’s so sad.  I know that they are happy – who isn’t when they hold their baby for the first time.

And I know, (or assume) that after wrapping her head around the whole idea, Mom is happy to be a grandmother.

I can’t imagine not loving your first grandchild.

But wouldn’t you want that to happen a bit later in everyone’s lives?

But let’s add some weirdness to the weirdness…

My sons’ 50 year old father just had a baby 2 weeks ago.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Playdates.

Doesn’t anyone know anything about birth control?

The dad thing is ridiculous. The friend thing is just really sad.

I’m not being judgmental as much as I am being a mom – a mom who could barely handle being a mamma at 32 because I felt totally ill-equipped. I can’t imagine what a 16 year old has got to feel like.

And as much as I love my babies, I still think about things I didn’t do before I had them – when I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted. I wouldn’t trade it, but there are certainly things that I wish I had experienced, places I wish I had gone, adventures had.

And I was 32 – What the fuck do you think when you’re 16 or 17? “Oh. I’ll have plenty of time for all of that because my child will be out of the house by the time I’m 35?

Okay, admittedly, that’s appealing.

All I know is that I would be devastated if one of my boys came home to tell me he’s having a baby and a future in this town working at the grocery store. It makes it hard to breathe.

Those two kids, with their new family photo on Facebook, are just babies – babies playing house.

Until they get home and realize that it’s not a game.

And my sons’ dad – he’s got 2 under 2. Good luck on that one.

 

 

 

Today’s Project

From the Oxford Dictionary

injustice

Lack of fairness or justice

An unjust act or occurrence

unjust

Not based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair

forgive

Stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake

no one said this was going to be easy

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.

 

Friendship

Years ago, I had a friend, J, who was totally sucking me dry. We’d been friends for 100 years, but our friendship had deteriorated and it felt like a chore to spend time with her – even if it was just on the phone.

This was in the days before email – that might have made things manageable.

Every conversation was all about her: her problems, her feelings, her sadness, her anger, her life.

I had small children and an abusive husband (although I was still in denial about that) and was exhausted and miserable most of the time. I looked to my friendships to bring me joy and laughter. I wanted support and to support. Friendships at that point were about camaraderie and shared experiences.

They were supposed to be two-way.

Ours always had been, but they no longer were.

For years, I believed that I just needed to “be there” for her; to listen to her, to accept her self-centeredness and anger – even when it was inappropriately directed at me. I believed that it was a phase – that this wasn’t who she really was, and that likely, at some point, our roles would be reversed and I would need her as much as she currently needed me.

She had already propped me up a million times.

But I came to resent that she never even asked about my life, my kids, my shitty husband, my happiness or discontent. I would begin a sentence with “I” and she would follow with “I” and I would disappear.

I was talking to another friend about it who said, “We’ve come to a point in our lives where we don’t have time for friendships that don’t feed us.”

I believed her and yet felt that J was too old of a friend, we’d been through too much together and she was hurting badly enough that I couldn’t let go – that would make me a horrible and selfish person.

And yet, I slowly and then quickly, began to back out. And I honestly felt more free – I no longer dreaded answering the phone.

This was also in the time before Caller ID, so answering the phone was a total crapshoot.

I missed her, for sure, but I told myself that what I missed no longer existed. I thought, “If I met J now, we wouldn’t be friends.”

We still talked once in a while, but no longer made any honest effort to see each other. I knew that she harbored some anger towards me, and I understood and accepted that.

The deterioration of our friendship made me sad and I always hoped that one day, we could reestablish our connection.

And yet…I definitely felt like I had done the right thing – for me.

The opportunity to reconnect will never happen. J is dead. She died a few years after I withdrew.

At her funereal someone actually said, “Yeah, she was angry with you. She didn’t feel like you were a friend to her any longer.”

A crushing blow – although I’m not sure why. I totally expected and deserved that.

And now that she’s gone, of course I have regrets. And I am envious of those who maintained their connections with her – I feel like I missed out.

In some ways. And some ways, not.

Obviously I still think about it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing about it on this sunny Sunday morning.

Did I do the right thing? Was I selfish? Did I bail on a friend or am I pretending that she was really a friend at that point?

It sure didn’t feel like it.

I miss her, miss what we had had for so many years. But then again I don’t miss, at all, what it had turned into.

Would it have turned around again?

Who knows.

Does the possibility of shift make it okay to stick around when someone is completely sucking you dry?

Is it okay to say, “This really isn’t working for me,”?

Or is that being equally as selfish and self-serving?

If I had the chance for a do-over, what would I choose?

My poor (almost adult) baby

He has to have major surgery day after tomorrow: hamstring repair.

He tore it off his pelvic bone.

Crutches, brace, PT, no driving for 2-3 months, 1 year rehab before he can do any type of athletic activity.

Pain.

They told me yesterday that Lortab isn’t going to cut it.

Blood thinners, pain meds, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories.

They also said, “Plan on being in the hospital ALL day.”

That’s when I got off the phone and cried.

Watching the physical pain is bad.

Watching the emotional pain: unbearable.

Everything he has dreamed of for his future in on the line right now – and honestly, one foot over the line. He may never play football or wrestle again.

So much for D-1.

He was contacted by a college football recruiter the other day. First question after name and position: “Any athletic injuries?”

He is trying to hard to remain hopeful and undefeated. He is determined that this will not stop him from fulfilling his ambitions and dreams.

He is also very aware that no matter how determined he is, it might not do him any good. He just may never play again.

He did something stupid and reckless the other night. When I called him out on it, he fell apart, “Mom, my life is ruined.”

You and I know that it’s not, but when you are the star of the football team and the most physical kid in town, it feels that way.

My heart broke for this sweeter-than-sugar young man.

I’m trying to just hold space for all of his pain – to be able to hear him and help him remember that he is loved and will, no matter what he thinks, be okay.

“We will get through this. It’s going to be hard, and, we will do it. Together.”

I’m calling in the forces: friends, teammates, coaches, grandparents, cousins.

He’s the toughest kid I’ve ever met – plays football with multiple broken ribs.

And he is the most sensitive kid I know.

Watching this huge, muscle-bound, tough-guy cry is simply and horribly sad.

So, as I prepare and he prepares, I find myself praying – something I am not prone to doing.

But we are going to need all the help we can get to make this boy continue to smile that glorious, infectious smile of his.

 

 

There is a Guardian Angel

“Mom, you’re not Christian or Mexican, why are you so into Jesus candles?”

“You know Buddy, just in case.”

Who knows if it does me any good, but I figure it can’t do us any harm, and last night felt like a Guardian Angel was looking over my family so, I’m going to keep on lighting them…

…just in case.

It was the night of the Homecoming Dance, and hand in hand, the Homecoming after-party.

Back story here:

My boys are teenagers. We live in a small redneck town where kids drink Coors Light, chew Copenhagen, and go mudding in the mountains in their big trucks. I was a teenager once and made a LOT of really stupid choices. My children have made a lot of stupid choices. So have their friends. Their father, a recovering alcoholic, thinks that a “talk” here and there about the dangers of drinking, especially with their genetics, is keeping them from imbibing in said alcohol.

So the way I look at parenting them during these years, given the above factors, I have 3 choices; tell them not to drink and think that they won’t, thus having them lying and sneaking all over the county with a beer in hand; cruelly forbid them to ever leave the house just so I feel safe; or be totally realistic and hope that a policy of transparency will keep them honest and maybe a bit more careful if they’re not having to lurk around behind my back.

Since Dad has gone for number 1, and number 2 just isn’t fair since they haven’t done enough to warrant its implementation, I’ve opted for number 3.

Number 3 is great when sitting around the dining room table, me being the cool mom.  It’s a whole other story on a Saturday night when they are making plans to go to the mountains with 235 of their closest stupid friends to drink beer and Fireball, at two o’clock in the morning.

Which was last night’s post-homecoming plan.

So many things were freaking me out about it, yet I chose to let them go: with stipulations.

No drinking to vomiting status.

No taking advantage of drunken girls.

No drinking and driving.

Curfew.

First one, I just had to keep my fingers crossed that they too believe that Vomiting Isn’t Fun.

Second – I just trust them. Should I? I certainly hope so.

Third – I offered, as I always do, to do the driving for them. I always agree to drive up to the mountains at extremely-early-in-the-morning (like 2) to pick them up to guarantee that they won’t get in a car with a “sober” driver.

I remember one night that I was the “sober” driver – I was chosen because I was the one in the group who’d only eaten one hit of acid instead of two.

Curfew – Of course they don’t want one. Of course they’re going to get one.

“Can we just spend the night up there?”

Fuck. No.

So they asked if they could spend the night at a friends’.

“Is this your way of getting out of having a curfew?”

“Yes.”

Remember, I have asked for total transparency.

And, I said “Sure.”

Crazy, right? It just seemed so much easier having another parent involved, even if it was one who was going to let them stay out all night.  It gave me the opportunity to turn a blind eye.

And I took it.

God I love denial.

It didn’t mean that I wouldn’t stress, freak out, lose sleep, etc. But in saying “yes” I hoped that they would be able to say “no” if necessary.

Another part of the equation was this:

Friend wouldn’t be drinking or driving like an idiot because he’ on probation and has to take a pee test tomorrow and the truck is his dad’s and if he messed it up, we’d all be running for the hills to avoid the wrath.

“I wish I felt okay about this because I trust Friend to make smart choices, not because he’s made so many dumb choices that he can longer afford to make more. But I’ll take what I can get.”

And then, I received this text: No one wants to go to the mountains, it’s too cold and too much driving. So just a few of us are going to go to Friend’s to hang out.

No stupid driving on stupid mountain roads with stupid drunk teenagers. No wondering if the cops (who always know when there is party in the mountains) will show up and issue my children MIP’s (minor in possession).

They go one place, where they will stay, with parental supervision, right in town.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Have fun. Have a great night.

And there is proof that a Guardian Angel does exist and thank the heavens above that I lit that Jesus candle yesterday.