Saturday, October 25, 2008

We Need a Little Christmas

I felt a little like Auntie Mame last night, waltzing (metaphorically) through the Christmas Faire at the DuPage County Fairgrounds. I went looking for Christmas presents; I really did. I meant to be selfless and organized and....

Yeah...well.... you can imagine how well that went. Instead, I found things that I could begin to turn into a Christmas for me and the people I love.

Last year, I hauled my sorry self to my brother's house and sort of watched the celebration of Christmas. I wasn't miserable, by any means; he and his family were warm and loving and patient with my emotional roller-coaster. But any decorating that happened at my own house happened because someone else did it. Remember the launch party? People came over and decorated, and that was the sum total of what happened in terms of Christmas decorating.

This year, I have the beginnings of a glimmer of a fleeting idea ;) I am going to get a tree. I am going to find new decorations that aren't emotionally laden for me -just thinking of some of the decorations stored in my attic can make me cry. I will send out Christmas cards. I will gently and slowly -or at whatever pace feels right- reclaim the celebration of Christmas in this house that is so great for Christmas.

And oh yeah.... I won't forget to go Christmas shopping for other people, too ;)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What I've Come to Expect

I got home last night about midnight (after working on my "day off" -don't ask) and discovered Dave's counter-offer for the property settlement. I KNEW I shouldn't open it then. I knew it. Yeah, I did it anyway.

I don't even know what to say. It ought to be merely another piece of evidence that the guy I loved is dead. Or never existed. Or something. THIS person has pretty consistently been willing to endanger me, in support of his own comfort and entitlement. It's just what I've come to expect, and how sad is that? But it's another kind of heartbreak, too.

My lawyer, to her credit, is outraged and is on the case. For now, I'm trying to "put it in a box", let the lawyers duke it out, and stay about the business of crafting a life for myself. When Dave is not around, I do pretty well at that.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Note to Self

Be careful what you wish for.

OK. I admit it. What I said was, "I want to write more." What I meant was more like "I want to write at a leisurely pace." Seriously. Be very careful what you say -or even think very loudly. The universe has a way of providing.

I said that. And then this friend called and said, "remember when we did this project and collected these data...? Well, now, if we pull it together, it really works for this conference." Enter the necessity of crawling around in my scary attic to find the data, then the even scarier process of marathon-writing. On top of other non-optional writing.... things got a little wild around here.

But, the whole thing has unleashed a process of thinking outside the box. The writing didn't really succeed. It gone done, but it was UGLY and only on time if you squint at the clock. So, we're rethinking. I called my friend Elizabeth (actually, I think she called...whatever.) and asked her to tell me how to re-arrange this office that I'm sitting in, to make it work. She's really good at that stuff.

Nope. She suggested that I find another room altogether -some cozy, happy place. This room has always been the office. We added it on to the house to BE the office. She busted through the notion that it must be the office in perpetuity. (Why do I think like that?????) So, I'm moving my office to Nicholas's old room. I have been authorized by its former owner to re-purpose it ;)

This is actually an old picture.... the reality is worse yet, but I can't get my camera to work. (actual truth... I do not understand my digital camera.)

So, I've started spackling. (WHY am I spackling, when it was oh-so-not me shooting my bow and arrow at the walls of my bedroom???? A question for the sages....) Then I suppose I have to prime. I wonder what that means???? Then, I'm thinking of a cheerful cantaloupe-y color, with a lighter orange for the trim. Trust me when I tell you this would never have happened when what's-his-name lived here.

But for now, I'm learning to spackle. I don't think there's supposed to be this much goop in my hair. But I'm just guessing....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

THIS time I mean it.

I am going to get organized. I am going to arrange this space so that it works for ME. There is going to be a place to put my things. I will know what things I even need. I am not going to procrastinate ever again. (I am going to lose 35 pounds by tomorrow. I am going to arrange for world peace, while I'm bloody at it.)

No, seriously.

You, there! Stop rolling your eyes. I do mean it.

I have had the writing marathon from hell this week. I love to write and this was grueling. I am seeing APA style in my sleep. There was nothing fun about this process. And even so, I only sort of made the deadline. I submitted the papers electronically with 6 minutes to spare. The paper copy...well, it's going to be express-mailed. At some point, I just had to say, "Well, fiddle-dee-dee, it's more important to get it right. I should just go slowly and do my very best."

Well, no, that's not quite what I said.

Here's the thing. NORMAL people can work in their offices in the morning without wearing sunglasses, because the sun isn't shining in their eyes, because they didn't put the desk and the computer in a stupid place. Normal people have extra printer paper and ink cartridges, so they don't have to run to Best Buy at 14 minutes before the deadline. What else do normal people do? I don't have the slightest idea, obviously.

But things are gonna change around here. I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore. Now, who wants to come over and help me rearrange furniture?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Think I Had a Bad Idea

Or... oh hell, maybe I didn't. There is no road map for this process, unfortunately.

Here's the thing. Dave and I have lived apart for 2 1/2 years, almost. Weird, huh? The last year has been astonishing for me. From broken -truly flat-out destroyed- I've made a life I love. I am pursuing big dreams, locating my power, and having a hell of a good time. I'm supporting myself and creating the house I want. I'm writing. I'm thinking about getting a puppy. I'm planning travel and all kinds of other things. And there are other dreams I haven't quite spoken above a whisper, so the process continues.

In part BECAUSE I don't need him any more, I thought I might write Dave a letter -not inviting him back into my life as a partner. Dear heavens, not that. The draft I have of the letter would have to win some kind of prize as the most grudging, grouchy invitation to have coffee EVER. But I thought that maybe from my new position of strength I could challenge us both to be sure we want a divorce. We made promises, and surely they are worth something more than money. Being certain of the path is the right thing to do.

And then I realized I was walking around my house thinking "It's a shame I won't be able to finish THAT's a shame those bedroom curtains will have to come down". Or, too bad, I never finished.... whatever. As though I would have to stop my dreaming if he came back. The dread I felt wasn't huge, but it was real. And it got my attention.

That thinking might be just habit. Part of our dysfunction is that I gave away power he never asked for. He took it when it was offered, right enough, but the giving it away was all me. Or it might be a sign that I am not ready for re-entangling myself with anyone. Obviously I haven't figured out how to be fully me AND in a relationship. Or it might be a sign that a relationship with Dave can only be -for me- destructive.

Anyway, it was a sad realization that for now, I think, I have to abandon the idea of dialogue and possibly let the divorce continue unchallenged. I just can not risk going backwards. Surely, the ethical path does not include self-sabotage.

On the other hand, I've learned never to rule out the impossible. Since I am so clearly UNclear ;) about what I want, maybe the right thing will just happen. Maybe taking care of this isn't my job.

But for now I am going to bed in my pretty girl-bed, which I also am not giving up ;) Tomorrow I have still more writing to do. Deadlines loom.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Kol Nidre

Peace and good health to all.

A hat tip to Reading Under the Covers.

A Blogging Tool I Need

This exists. It must.

If you're on facebook, you've probably seen the "I was green today" application. People complete the sentence, thus sharing simple ideas for becoming more environmentally responsible. I changed one more lightbulb to CFL today, and darn it, I want credit for that ;) The application is a great idea for reminding us that the little things really do matter, but why can't I embed the same application into my blog?

Come on, wise ones. I've poked around as long as my brain can withstand. Do you know of some utility that works for this?

OK, So I'm Not Martha

Were you all just laughing at me? I would have been, if I'd had a clue in my head.

Do you KNOW what happens if you put flower pots in carved-out pumpkins and then water the plants??? Revolting, hideous things, that's what. This sort of thing doesn't happen to Martha Stewart. I don't know how I know this, but I do.

She is not the one wearing rubber gloves and gently, with as few fingers as possible, removing the slimy, squishy pumpkins from her front porch. She is not the one throwing the whole mess into a garbage bag and then into the wheelbarrow, so the glop doesn't spread all the way down the driveway as I try to hide the evidence of my failed holiday cheer.

Nope. That has me written all over it.

Plan B.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Today Marks One Year

Yesterday, one of the next-door-neighbor boys asked me if I missed "Mr. Dave." He didn't know that a year ago today was the day I got in my car and drove away from my marriage. He's just a little kid; he doesn't understand that he had asked a potentially painful question.

So, do I miss "Mr. Dave?" I honestly don't know. I miss the Dave I thought I was married to. I do miss being partnered. It's a peculiar day. I'm not wildly sad, or gleefully triumphant that I have made something of my life without him -more than I could have made with him, apparently. But it's not just another day, either.

So, what do I know?

I know that I owe another huge thank you to all my friends and family. Certainly, certainly that.

I know that lonely-alone is better than lonely-together. The emotionally distant and even emotionally absent Dave can stay far away from me. I don't miss him at all.

I'm gratified that I've been able to make a life for myself. There's certainly no "take THAT, you philandering jerk" triumph, but there's a glimmer of pleasure through the exhaustion.

I know I am not as broken as I was a year ago. I sometimes fear that that level of brokenness is waiting right around the corner, though. Tears are still very near the surface -always. Brokenness doesn't feel quite so far away to me as it perhaps looks from your persepctive.

I guess I'm just sitting quietly today, doing my school work and puttering in my kitchen. I did -quite by accident- take a few days off this week. Perhaps my subconscious was at work there, because I didn't think to plan them around this anniversary. Yet, I'm glad that I did it. I feel a pretty strong need for some quiet nesting in my cozy (if more than slightly messy) house.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Nicholas Bought Lunch

He did, actually. But really, it's code for "Mama did good!"

On Sunday mornings, Nicholas (the boy-child) and I go rock climbing -usually with his friend Brian. They climb insane routes -awe-inspiring, terror-inducing routes. I climb beginner routes. And then, as a thank you to two such handsome men for being willing to spend time -in public!- with a mom-aged, unimpressive climber, I take them to lunch.

Now, rock-climbing is just another one of those ways that we can get a glimpse into our psyches. I am willing, in these matters, to make slow progress, stay a beginner as long as being a beginner feels like fun, and just plain quit when I'm done. Yet, it must be said, I sometimes quit when I'm not quite done. I decided that I wanted to make slightly more progress in my climbing.

Climbing routes are graded for difficulty. There are no two ways about it. I climb the easier routes. But I've started working my way up the difficulty scale. There's this one route I've been trying to get for about a month. It's not a wildly difficult route, except there is one place that involves a new skill for me -switching from one rock face to another (metaphor, anyone???). It's hard for me.

Nicholas offered a few weeks ago that when I get that route, he will buy lunch. He either thought that a) his money was safe because I was never going to get it, or b) food was as big a motivator for me as it is for him.

Today Nicholas bought lunch!

Hats and Shoes

When the kids were little, they had an extensive collection of hats for dress-up. There were fire fighter hats, and train driver hats, hard hats, and baseball caps and one really huge sombrero. I'm sure there were more; it seems, in my memory, that it took a really long time at night to get them all picked up. The kids used these hats as props in their play -not the tiniest bit constrained by details of what the hat was supposed to be for. However the hats were used, though, they were clues and cues for meaning. It occurred to me last night that shoes have come to fill that same role in my life.

Yes, shoes. I'm not a girly-girl by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have kind of a lot of shoes. Last night, Victoria and I dressed up A LOT and went to the ballet (The Kirov was doing Giselle in Chicago). It goes without saying that she was stunning; I was a little brown wren who drove the car and glared at all the men who stared at her. But by my standards, I was wildly dressed up -and the shoe thing became important. I had pretty brown pleated-fabric pumps with an insane heel. Not the shoes you'd choose for trekking around Chicago. Needless to say, there was a certain amount of grimacing. Then I watched ballerinas en pointe for 2 hours. Ummm.... Andrea? Shut up about your feet hurting.

So I started to think about the shoes-for-roles thing. I have pointe shoes in the back of my closet, from a long-ago life. I don't use them. Even the thought of it makes my feet hurt, but I don't want to give the shoes away, either. I have my TEVA sandals and my clogs -much more "me" than the pumps. I have rock climbing shoes -in their own way as uncomfortable as the pointe shoes or the pumps. I have gym shoes and beach sandals and work shoes and play shoes and bike shoes and flip-flops for the pool. I'm sure there are more.

In fact, I got busted on this one -shoes as a sign of social class. Seriously, by modern girl standards, I don't have that many shoes. But one of the homeless residents of the shelter I work at asked me, with some incredulity, how many shoes did I HAVE???? My response? "I have no idea." Could I have thought of a more insulting answer if I'd worked at it??? I doubt it. I really do have no idea, but if I'd made up a number it would at least have meant that they mattered to me. As it is, I indicated (incorrectly) that I can have as many shoes as I want and don't have to think about them. Excellent move, Andrea :(

But let's leave aside the social justice questions -to say nothing of the feminist questions of why women subject themselves to uncomfortable shoes for beauty- and see if we can come up with something here. Do the shoes in my closet tell me something about the person I am becoming? More career-focused than before, for sure. I'm not really sportier (still working on this one), but I have decided that I deserve the tools for the sports I love.

And today? So far, it's just been the rock climbing shoes (excruciating after the torture of last night, but I thought of the ballerinas and soldiered on) and now my trusty TEVAs. Gotta love 'em.