A place to put my energy

Since the tornado began, I’ve been grasping for some way to stay firmly on the ground.

Everything has felt so unbelievably out of control and all I’ve had to hold on to is my anxiety, my fear, and my grief.

I’ve had anger and it’s been a great comfort when that comes flying out sideways towards people around me – especially to those who I’ve decided have made me a victim.

Because feeling like a victim has really helped me feel even worse and more out of control.

This process of letting go, detaching, and trusting is too ephemeral, intangible.  It’s all about feelings and mindset, which, when I wallow there, makes me more anxious and freaked out.

And with the accident, we are looking at a long road of letting go, detaching, and trusting. We are stepping into one of the greatest unknowns I’ve ever had to enter.

And today, I have found my anchor…

Office supplies.

There is so much paperwork flying at us right now: medical bills, insurance claims reports, and soon there will also be legal paperwork out the wazoo.

And here’s where my security blanket, my new turquoise binder, sparkle dividers, and pre-hole-punched recycled paper, comes into play in a way that calms me and keeps me focused;

I can do court. I can do organization.

Give me a couple of bright post-its, and some new pens, and maybe even some of those pretty, striped paper clips, and I am all set.

A new three-ring binder is an inspiration to clean my desk. Printing out 100 pages of forms motivates me to finally mop the spill on the kitchen floor that has been there since the breakup.

I got one of those briefcase sized file folders with 13 pockets. It’s purple. Calms me right down.

In my desk this morning, I found a whole drawer full of exactly what I just bought – minus the sparkle dividers. It’s good to have backup, but if I really want to feel better, I need to spend money that should be going towards bills, at Office Depot.

Then, add to all of this, my experience with both the medical world and the legal world.

I’ve had at least 6 surgeries since my kids were born and add on one surgery for each of two of my boys. I’ve been to spine doctors, hand specialists, pain management physicians, countless orthopedic surgeons, and neurologists…plus the OBGYN – just to name a few.

Plus, all of the time and energy I’ve put into my parents and their medical ailments and hospital time puts me in the upper echelon of experienced patients.

And court? I’ve been there 7 times in the last 8 years, just for my divorce, not to mention jury duty.

I’ve worked with multiple attorneys and 2 different judges.

I’ve had some serious wins.

I can organize for court like nobody’s business.

So it appears that the years of agony and questioning, “Why is this shit happening to me?” are going to serve me well.

When I begin to feel completely bombarded by the Universe, I have my shield.

It’s the prettiest shade of blue and has a clear pocket on the front to insert a hopeful and calming photo and an inspirational quote from some random buddhist website .

A letter

Dear Natalie,

Do you remember that day, a couple of years ago, I think, when we cruised around town, maybe a little bit high, and drank hot chocolate and bought pretty lingerie and then we went to a movie at the theater with the big yellow seats and you brought in your giant bowl of popcorn and told the folks at the theater that you were allergic to the oil they use to pop theirs so you had to bring your own.

You were magnificent.

After the movie, remember, we went to TJ Maxx and you bought cashmere?

What a day.

I bought a skirt that day. Do you recall? You should – you convinced me that I could pull it off.

IMG_2658The tiger skirt.

The Life of Pi skirt.

The pussy skirt.

Thanks to your pep talk and your winning argument, I’ve been wearing the thing pretty regularly and always quite sassily since that day.

I’m the badass with a giant cat face in my lap.

Just like you told me I’d be!

Except…maybe I’m not…

I’ve looked at myself in the mirror, I’ve seen my reflexion, I’ve even felt that if it’s possible to look somewhat sophisticated and fashion forward with two golden eyes staring out from your hip bones, then I look that way.

And then something happened today.

Nat, I wish you’d been there to see the look on our faces (mine and the tiger’s)

Wait, whaaaaaat? you’re screaming right about now.

So, you know how tight skirts ride up when you walk and you either have to walk with your legs squeezed together or stop every few steps to yank the damn thing down?

Well, the tiger, like any other, rode right on up – halfway to indecent – and I caught a glimpse of my passing self as I bustled around the cafe getting breakfast ready.

See Friend, it was dark outside and the lights were on inside and there were windows everywhere so it was almost like being surrounded by full length mirrors.

And that’s when I realized what I wish I’d realized years ago; when the skirt rides up, the mouth of the tiger is right at cootch level and looks like,

a vagina.

A giant vagina.IMG_2659

LOOK AT THAT!!!!!!

Now Natalie, I have to ask you, did you know about this and not say anything? Did you encourage me to purchase a pussy pussy skirt?

Please tell me you didn’t do it on purpose; that you too didn’t see this glaring faux pas.

Honey, I can’t unsee what I saw today. This tiger and I will never look at each other in the same way.

Our relationship has changed.

I spent the day wondering what other people were thinking as they looked at my crotch.

And when you have an enormous face on your crotch you know that people really are looking at it.

I almost died of mortification.

And then, I didn’t.

And then, I giggled.

And then, I thought that it was fucking fantastic.

And part of that was because I kept imagining telling you and your response and us having one more thing to laugh about and that made it totally worth it.

I adore you and miss you.

I will think twice before taking fashion advice from you.

MWAH!

 

 

 

 

Huge dilemma

This may not seem so huge to many of my readers, but if you know me at all, you will understand that for me…

Well, let me just explain here.

Again, if you know me at all, you’ve probably figured out that jewelry is significant to my every day well-being. Have you ever seen me out without earrings?

Probably not.

And then there is The Bracelet:

34 years with this baby

And The Ring (9-ish years):

The bracelets are an added bonus

The bracelets are an added bonus

So my right side is all set.

The problem is my left hand. Because of my pain disorder, I can’t sport a bracelet or a watch on that arm, so if I want it adorned (which of course I do – I am me, you know) it has to be rings.

And I know this might sound really trivial, a white girl first world problem, and I get it, it is, but there is a little more to it than you might think, because it directly ties into the whole marriage divorce thing. Let me explain:

When I got engaged, there was a ring, a ring that I adored. When we got married, there was another ring – one that I truly loved, but I was allergic to it.

Red Flag that I ignored.

But I never ever had to think about my left hand – it was all set. Until I got divorced.

I took the wedding band off immediately, but it left a big, soft, white circle around my finger that to me, was a glaring “Your life just fell apart and you failed your children in the process.” I figured if it screamed that to me, then every time the children saw my hand they would also be reminded that their lives had exploded and I didn’t feel like any of us needed that white squishy aide-mémoire.

So I had a “divorce ring” made and I loved it – the ring and the symbolism.IMG_2508

 

Then I moved on and got myself into the most amazingly dysfunctional relationship with a man who claimed “I’m going to replace that divorce ring with a wedding band.”

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It’s called “Crater” and I thought the earthy name would be solid and grounding.

Thank god that didn’t happen. But when that all fell apart it seemed like a good time to once again, eliminate some of the symbols of my past and move forward. So I purchased this one from an artist down in Mexico City:

 

I also came to the conclusion that it was time to quit focusing on the empty finger and celebrate my middle finger (which sees a lot more action anyway.)

Love love loved this one, until…

Another relationship. Time for another ring.

And I will interject here that wanting a new ring with a new relationship had NOTHING to do with wanting the Ring

So I moved on, decided to get something totally different:

This seemed to be the jewel that for which I had been searching…

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…until it broke.

Because I am really hard on my hands and whatever is on them.

So then I went through all of the others that I had picked up over the years, trying, rejecting, and trying again, all while my right hand screamed – get it together, Lady, just put on a ring and forget about it.

There was this one, with the hideous fake turquoise in the middle of the otherwise, stunning piece of artwork:IMG_2507

 

 

 

IMG_2512There’s the fossil ring that my off-the-deep-end cousin made:

He just died so I tried to wear it again, but it’s just really too masculine for me.

I have a few other random ones, but nothing has felt like I want it to be a semi-permanent part of my body, my life, me.

So then I’ve been looking around at rings. I’ve also been looking around at other people’s hands, trying for some inspiration. I got some recently with my friend Dodo who wears 2 silver rings on her left hand. One of which is, of course, her wedding band.

So then I thought, maybe I should look first for something that fits my ring finger – seems novel and maybe I’ve been barking up the wrong tree.

But that is a loaded proposition. To begin sporting a ring on your left finger when you are actually in a serious relationship, sends a mighty big message to people, even when there is no message to be received.

So I have fumbled.

And in my fumbling for a fucking ring – again, I understand that this is not quite as big of an issue as world hunger – I have dredged up all of these other feelings about relationships and marriage and divorce and symbols of all of the above.

And I get stymied because suddenly, it’s not about a little chunk of silver and it’s all about where I am in my life, how I present myself to the world, and what that shiny bit conveys.

When I was single, it seemed like it was less significant if I wore something on my “wedding band” finger, but now it feels like it would be perceived as a statement.

I remember when I first wore my engagement ring – silver with an almost imperceptible diamond – I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I used to stand at work with my hand held out in front of me gazing adoringly at it. I hoped that as I reached to hand someone  something, that they would notice and say “my what a beautiful ring,” and I could then say, “yes, yes it is, isn’t it?”

And then they could say, “Are you engaged?”

And I could squeal, “YES!!!”

I still think it's beautiful. And it still fits. Bummer.

I still think it’s beautiful. And it still fits. Bummer.

I kept my engagement ring – but it’s not like I can actually wear it. And I’m not going to pass it on to one of my children because who wants to propose to a girl with a ring that symbolizes a really wretched marriage?

And I threw the wedding band in the river.

It makes me sad to think of that sweet, hopeful, and stupid young girl. And then it makes me proud to look at the display of rings past and know that each one symbolizes both my pain and my growth over the last few years.

So as I put each chapter behind me and move on to the next, I want to put the symbols of those chapters behind me too.

So maybe this is why I won’t ever find one ring that meets my needs, one semi-permanent fixture on my body – because I am not a semi-permanent fixture – I am still changing and growing and evolving.

And this is a thought that I haven’t had until just now, as I am writing this:

Maybe I should stop looking for forever and start looking for “right now.”

 

 

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.

 

This is some crazy (yet cool) shit

2 months ago:

I took a basket of clothes to my favorite consignment shop. Favorite because 1) the owner is so much fun to visit, 2) her taste in clothing is extraordinary; she carries clothes that range from Ann Taylor LBDs to 1950’s housedresses and 3) she has the ability to make you feel as if you can totally pull off whatever it is you’ve decided to try to pull off, thus boosting your self-esteem 1,000-fold.

So on this particular day, I felt like shit when I went in and declared upon entering, “I feel like shit; I am not trying anything on today. I have an upcoming wedding, but I’ll come back another day to shop.”

But, while she was looking through the basket, she was also keep a keen eye on my wanderings throughout the racks. At one point she said, “That orange dress is super cool.”

And it was.

Just my thing – absolutely irresistible.

Thick polyester – the kind you could tie in a knot, wet, and it still wouldn’t wrinkle. And covered with beads: rhinestones and seed pearls. And hand-laced fringe at the hem. And, hand made – one of a kind.

And orange.

It was only $2 more than the credit that I had just earned with my basket.

2 months ago to yesterday:

I was so excited to wear the dress that I tried it on regularly (at least once a week). I spent hours online picking out the perfect accessories. I bought a slip. I agonized over shoes vs. boots.

Last night. Wedding night:

Getting dressed, I had a moment of hesitation; Could I really pull this off or should I wear something more “normal” and less of a statement?

Then I remembered the delicious feeling I had when I first saw it, the warmth that spread throughout my soul as I examined each and every mini-bauble lovingly sewn on from neck to knee.

The gloves I bought didn’t work and the necklace wasn’t perfect. But the dress was.

Now it gets exciting:

After dinner, a woman, who I didn’t know, approached me and asked if she could speak with me.  It all sounded very intrigue-y so of course I said yes.

“Please don’t take this the wrong way, but where did you get your dress?”

I told her.  She didn’t know the place because she’s from outside the radius of the shop’s clientele. but then she took a deep breath and said, “That’s my Great Aunt May’s dress.”

Long story short, Great Aunt May lives in Lubbock, Texas. At 90, as she prepared to finally give in to the idea of assisted living, and my gal went to Lubbock to help her out, Great Aunt May said, “Why don’t you take a couple of dresses.”

My new best friend chose the orange and brought it home to New Mexico. It hung in her closet for three years, awaiting alterations. Realizing that she was never going to join dress with sewing machine, she took the dress to the Goodwill and said goodbye.

Somehow, over time (another couple of years, I think) the beads and the fringe made their way to Colorado and my favorite consignment shop where it then made its way into my closet and onto my body and to the wedding, where Great Aunt May’s great-niece, the dress, and I finally converged.

How cool is that?

 

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