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.

Friends adapting to change

Me: “Elvis Aaron Presley, you get back in that car.”

Her. Spoken: “You said ‘git’, with an ‘I’.”

Her. Unspoken: “You fucking hillbilly.”

Me: “Right? What the fuck happened? I was a country club gal and now I have chicken shit on my boots and I’m talking high school football records with a ditch-digger.”

Her. Spoken: “I went away for just a little bit and came back and this is your life. I missed the process.”

Her. Unspoken: “Maybe I shouldn’t have gone away – I could have stayed here and reined you in.”

Me: “It’s like you going away and coming back a lesbian.”

Her: “Exactly.”

Me: “Thanks for noticing.”

Her: “Right back at ya.”

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.”

 

 

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.

images

Her Turn

She tires of running people to the ER, Urgent Care, doctors.

Just this week, child number three’s boss called and began with, “Hi, it’s Karen. First, Bobby is okay.”

Which means that obviously he’s not okay, but he is still breathing.

Second eye mishap in as many weeks. Second time she’s put work on hold in as many weeks.

Before that, there were several appointments at the spine specialist plus two MRI’s for Peter. Then tack on physical therapy. Oh, and there was Mono.

Greg has managed to stay out of the medical world, but let’s not forget the year of the hamstring which really just isn’t far enough in the past to let go of yet and the annual spring influenza.

So she’s a caretaker. It’s what she does. And she gets damn tired of it sometimes.

So today, she decided to look out for herself, to take care of herself, to worry about just her.

And off she went to Urgent Care with something huge and unidentifiable imbedded underneath her right thumbnail, infected, causing agonizing throbbing up her entire arm.

Yay, she thought, today she doesn’t have to sit on the uncomfortable chair in the corner talking to the back of the doctor’s head while he examines whatever child she happens to be with.

No more falling asleep out of sheer boredom.

She got to get stabbed and prodded and scraped at and made miserable. She was fascinated with her wound and was able to watch the entire procedure from a front row seat. She got a hot pink, hot shit, bandage.

The very cute doctor who, unlike most physicians these days, was actually of her generation and not some Doogie Howser looking dude fresh out of med school, asked, do you know what it is?

No.

Do you know how long it’s been in there?

Nope.

You really don’t know?

Okay, hot doctor, I raise pigs and chickens, garden, plant, prune, climb fences, and cook for a living. I am rough on my hands. For all I know it’s a carrot under there.

Then the good doctor said, If you had waited any longer, it would have become a boil that blew off the end of your thumb.

Well shit, she wishes she’d waited for that.

He assured her that the pain would have been unbearable.

But it would have been so cool.

Then, to cap off a great afternoon, a little retail therapy and lunch with her lovely, uninjured children.

images

 

 

Area 51

Today is my birthday.

I am so not a birthday person – my kids probably feel short-changed in their minimalist childhood birthday celebrations but, what can you do?

Anyway, for the last week my family has been saying, “Oh, next Tuesday is your big day.”

My response?

“Why?”

Then this morning, MCB gave me a treasure trove of treats and I was actually caught off guard.

“Presents? Really? Huh.”

Bless his heart – he loves birthdays so much that I am probably a total killjoy.

Then I went to work.

Peter asked, “You’re working on your birthday?”

It never crossed my mind not to. What the hell else would I do?

Maybe I am a killjoy; especially for myself.

Then I tried something; someone came into the cafe who I’ve known for a long time and I know he wouldn’t snicker at my 51 years.

“Can I tell you a secret?

“Sure.”

“It’s my birthday.”

I never ever announce my birthday to anyone, but this is the new me (at least the me that I am trying on for size. The me that maybe doesn’t believe that other people should be avoided at all costs)

Then I told someone else. We talked about the 50’s being the best years of life.

I stopped telling people after that. I’d garnered enough attention for one day.

But I want to clarify, my lack of enthusiasm for this special day has nothing to do with the fact that I am aging. I am truly one of those people who doesn’t freak out about advancing in years (although there are times when I feel like I am older than everyone else in the room.)

I’ve stopped worrying about being cool. I’m saying “yes” to a lot more these days, because, why not. I’m not so concerned with offending people or having everyone like me or being in the “in” crowd, or whatever else.

Fifty brought a new nonchalant attitude. Fifty-one is expanding on the theme.

So, so far, 17 hours into it, 51 is totally working for me.

If you hear that I’m the mean mommy…

…I totally am.

I’ve reached a limit of sorts.  I feel as if my good will and openness has been pushed and under-appreciated.

We have a boil.

It could be that I’m around the house more since I’m unemployed.

It could be this beautiful house that we’ve just moved into that I want to keep beautiful.

It could also be the security deposit we didn’t get back because we have to replace the carpet.

It could be not being able to walk around half naked at 5 am because there are too many impressionable teenage boys that might see my cottage cheese ass.

It could maybe be the dozen eggs that I boiled that were eaten before they had time to cool.

Or the shells that were left on the counter.

Or the empty string cheese bag left in the deli drawer in the fridge.

And it could possibly be a combination of all of the above.

All I know is that my good will has thinned.  I don’t want to be a hag – I truly like being the cool mom and having everyone feel welcome in my home. But I also want to feel like it actually is my home and that I can enjoy it in ways that I like to.

Like sitting on the couch with my coffee in front of the fire in my undies and no bra before anyone else in the house wakes up.

Can’t be done if there is someone sleeping on that couch.

And I want that couch to be cared for so that we will still have this time next year.

And I really really don’t want to lose my security deposit due to carelessness ever again.

And I want to be able to want those things without being considered selfish or unreasonable.

And I want to be able to talk about it, in my home, without hearing later through the grapevine, that “(Their) mom totally flipped out about some stupid shit.”

If that kid thought he witnessed a flip out, he doesn’t know me very well.

So rules have changed, laws have been laid down, and easy-going fun-for-everyone mommy has left the building.

 

 

Couldn’t have said it better myself

So here’s the interesting thing…I know that I have some anxiety around some things; obvious, run of the mill things, over which I assume everyone has some anxiety: money, children, ex-husband’s abuse. And during some of those times, I’ve been known to need medication.

But I’ve never really considered myself to be someone “with anxiety,” at least never seriously considered it.

And then, I read this and it gets (the overly anxious) ball that is my brain, rolling.

While I felt each one, there were a few that stood out as, “I would have said the exact same thing,” and I think, “Hmmmm, interesting, maybe…”

3. “I’m not just blowing you off. It’s hard to make plans and just as hard to talk on the phone sometimes. It doesn’t mean I don’t desperately want to spend time and talk. I just can’t.” — Marie Abbott Belcher

7. “Even when things are wonderful, I’m always waiting for something horrible to happen.” — Lindsay Ballard

8. “When I’m being quiet, I’m not sad, bored, tired or whatever else they want to fill in the blank with. There’s just so much going on in my mind, sometimes I can’t keep up with what’s going on around me.” — Amanda Jade Briskar

17. “Don’t shut me out. My anxiety may stop me from doing certain things, but just being asked to join in can sometimes make my day.” — Vikki Rose Donaghy

18. “I analyze things constantly because of anxiety. I cannot turn my brain off and it can be exhausting.” — Cailea Hiller

21.I want to first apologize for the hundreds of times I’ve bailed on you. The hundreds of times I had to leave early and you had no clue. The hundreds of times I had to tell you no.” — Mary Kate Donahue

28. “Keep inviting me to group things even though I usually decline. Some days I feel stronger than others, so my answer might surprise you. Be patient.” — Kara Edkins

29. “Don’t take it personally when I don’t want to go out. My comfort zone is my home. It’s my safe place.” — Elizabeth Vasquez

30. “When I say I can’t take on even one more thing, I really need you to understand I really just can’t.” — Christine L Hauck

 

32. “Sometimes I just need to be alone. It’s not personal. I’m not mad. I don’t have some problem. I don’t need to just shake it off and do something fun. I just need to be alone so I can reset myself and breathe a little.” — Stacey Weber

33. “Every time I talk to you, I go over every word of the conversation many times in my head. If I said something I feel I like I shouldn’t have said, even if it’s as simple as incorrect grammar, I will obsess about it for years.” — Chelsea Noelani Gober

Amen.

Roget

roget

I love him.

Backstory: I’ve been in a foul humor lately and trying to figure out some things in my life because I need some changes. Something bigger than the dead friend’s dog. Bigger than finding 8 eggs in the henhouse instead of 2, and bigger than sitting on my ass and not running for the last month.

I know, hard to beat.

So I started picking through all of the things in my life that make me feel bad about myself, of which there are many, and many of them can’t be changed overnight, if ever, and tried to come up with one thing I could do that might bring in a little light.

One particular area which offers many opportunities for self-flagellation is the fact that I am not using my god given gift of writing except to entertain myself every once in a while. I’ve completely fizzled out into the land of writers who have either been blocked or just plain given up.

First step, start some consistency in the journal.  Next step, pick up the pace with the blog. After that, start being regular with my 11-year-old column. Then, find some freelance work. Segue into pushing the comfort zone with submissions.

And yes, this is all feeling good.  It’s kind of the bright spot of my day when I can create a blog post or respond to an editing gig.

And then today, I came home sick, and I actually do feel like shit, but I’m also excited to be at home writing rather than at work doing data entry, which is what I was working on when my head started to hurt, and I sat down to write and I needed a word and instead of going to Dictionary.com, I actually ran upstairs and got my friend Roget, who has been sitting on the shelf, ignored, for over a year now.

And even after all of this time, he is still speaking to me.

And as I grabbed him off the shelf, “The Glamour of Grammar” called out to me in her compelling voice, so she came down to the kitchen with me too, and here the three of us sit, getting reacquainted, and I realize that, in this particular arena of change, by inviting my old friends to sit down at the table, I’m on my way back.

Never Say Never

“I will never have a dog while I live in town.”

“I will never bring a dog into my house with cats.”

“I will never have any kind of dog but a cow dog.”

“I will never have guns in my house…”

“…I will never hunt…”

“…especially if it’s not for food.”

“I will never have a dog that fetches.”

“I will never have a dog that needs to go on walks.

“I will never have a dog that jumps into random bodies of water.”

“I will never have a needy pet.”

“I will never, ever, EVER get a lab.”

Enough said
Enough said