Monday, November 30, 2015

The thing I remember about my Grandpa Art

My grandpa Art died today at the age of 99.  I called him a time traveler. 

The thing that comes to me when I think about him is faith.

He had enormous faith.

Faith that if you put seeds to the earth and added water and tending, plants would rise up.

Faith that if you sat patiently enough and set the hook correctly you would bring home fish for dinner.

Faith that wood and nails could be sculpted into a table or a shelf or a swing. 

And an unwavering faith in God.  Faith that God would provide and God would show the way.  I never knew anyone else who held such faith in their beliefs.  His faith was something that was a part of him.  It was simply understood that my Grandfather placed his trust in Jesus and believed that all would be well.

He's been trying so hard to find his way to the other side over the last few weeks.  Last night, my mother was decorating her house for Christmas and talking to my late Grandma Ruth.

"Ruth, we need a little help down here.  He's trying so hard but I don't think he knows the way.  Please help him. We love him so much and he's working so hard."

And she came to get him.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

I'm going to spew my opinion

So, once again Planned Parenthood is facing being defunded by the government.  There are conservative lawmakers that don't like Planned Parenthood and want to stop them from receiving reimbursement funds from treated women using Medicaid.

Why don't they like Planned Parenthood?  They say it's abortion services.  They dismiss the fact that PP offers a LOT more than pregnancy termination.

Planned Parenthood is an easy target to make an example out of for a pro-life politician looking to move up.  And they don't have to feel bad about denying access to health services to anyone because the women they're impacting are women who have sex.

Women who aren't married who are going to have sex with multiple partners.  Women who are married but don't want to have babies.  Young women who aren't going to tell their moms.  Women who want to have sex and want to stay healthy while having sex go to Planned Parenthood.

These women aren't deserving of easy access to anyone who can help them control their reproductive cycle and keep them healthy.  Women who have sex should be ashamed.  Ashamed and humiliated and accept the title of "whore" and "slut" and slap a red letter "A" on their blouses so everyone can see what a harlot they have become.

The underlying tone of these proceedings is that women should not need birth control or abortion, they should keep their legs closed until marriage and then have as many babies as God chooses to give them.  (Ironically, Planned Parenthood is happy to help you with prenatal care to make sure you have a healthy baby.)  Planned Parenthood is encouraging women to have sex and have it without getting pregnant.

Any misogynist would go after Planned Parenthood with a vengeance.  Because women aren't supposed to actually HAVE sex.  Women have been sexualized for centuries.  What we're seeing now is the craziness that is starting to get attention.

Young women and girls in schools are being told that their bodies are distracting to boys so they need to cover up.

The message is essentially this:  The boys are distracted by your tits.  And it's your fault because you're the one with tits.  If you didn't have them we wouldn't have this problem so you need to cover up. No, we're not going to tell him to learn to focus and have respect, he's not the one with tits.

We live in a culture where when a woman is raped, she's told it's her fault.  Was she drunk? Why did she go to his room?  Why did she drink so much?  Why did she go home with him if she didn't want to have sex?  Wasn't she sending a mixed message?

When Charlie Sheen had the police called on him by an adult film actress as he'd shoved her around and thrown her stuff all over the room, the question everyone asked her was if she was there to trade sex for money.  If she was, then that was a business transaction and he still was in the wrong to shove her around.  She and her attorney were interviewed by George Stephanopolous on Good Morning America.  He pressed the issue saying "Because if she was it says something about your client."  In other words:  Your client is a dirty whore who had it coming.  

It's goes even deeper than that.  When girls as young as 12 are arrested for prostitution in certain states, they are not taken into the foster care system where they can get off the streets. They're processed like any other woman selling herself and is tossed back out for her pimp to pick up. Even a CHILD who takes money for sex, which cannot possibly be her choice, is seen as a nasty whore.

I recently read a book about a string of prostitute murders on Long Island in the last 5 years.  Nobody really cared because these women took money in exchange for sex.  Women who take money for sex are disposable.  They're raped and killed and tossed along the sides of the road like trash, because that's how they're seen, as trash. 

How many child molesters are given probation on a first offense?  Of course, it's the first reported offense, not the first first offense.

It's a general disrespect and, frankly, disgust for women that is held by a chunk of society.  And women do it too.  Women have GOT to stop calling each other 'slut' and 'whore', it just hurts all of us.

Sorry if this didn't make much sense.  I'm kinda pissed. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

My job, I didn't lose it, I still know where it is but there's some other guy there doing it - Bobcat Goldthwait

As Bobcat said, I know where my family is, there's just someone else there doing it. It's been that way since I moved out.  I relocated, and another woman has been there every time I go to see my kids.

It's reminding me of how the actor playing Darren on "Bewitched" changed with no explanation.  It's like I punched out and she punched in to take over laundry, dishes, serving dinner at the table and making home repairs.

Like it's not bad enough there's another woman involved at all.  And has been involved for a very long time.  I get to show up twice a week and be reminded that someone else took over my family after I fucked it up so badly.  Not that I made the mess all by myself, but that's another story.

I've been having a lot of mixed emotions about my situation the last several weeks.  I don't want to be jealous of my ex and everything she's given him and my children, but I am. 

The kids went to visit their paternal grandparents for two weeks.  When I arrived to pick them up after they'd returned, I saw that all the house windows had been replaced with dual pane jobbers.  Something I'd wanted for a long time, but we'd never had the funds to make that happen. 

So, here I am, working 9 to 11 hours a day, on my feet, in a kitchen which leaves me tired all the time.  I miss my kids desperately and I'm too tired to play with them when I see them during the week.  I see them 6 hours a week when they don't spend the weekend with me but they're with their dad's girlfriend all day when school is out. 

She took them shopping for birthday gifts for their dad, but they didn't even know it was my birthday until I told them the morning of. 

I've been summarily dismissed. 

I was at work today, filling rice bowls and thinking about how much Christmas is going to suck this year.  My kids are going to get some extravagant gift from her and their dad, while I'll be giving them something inexpensive or something I made.  They'll hug their new mom, tell her she's the best and shrug off the sad little stuff they got from me. 

And all of a sudden, I had the very clear understanding of why some parents choose to move away and do the long-distance parent thing.  It hurts so much to see them with someone else.  If I relocated, there wouldn't be anymore back and forthing.  They could be in one place all week long.  They wouldn't have to tell their friends "I have to go to my mom's now."  or "I can't sleep over I'm going to my mom's tonight."  They wouldn't have to listen to me tell them I can't afford to get them earbuds or another Xbox game. 

(I'm going to interject with a confession.  I almost didn't move here.  I almost stayed in California with my children.  I realized last week that I should have listened to my instincts and stayed on the west coast.   This entire venture was doomed from the start.  Making that admission to myself was incredibly difficult.)

Then my mind wandered off into thinking about  the possibility of  just leaving them to have their family and I wouldn't have to watch.  I wouldn't have to  be reminded of my massive failure.

So,  on my break, I took to Facebook and said "I'm having a particularly difficult time dealing with the divorce today. It's one of those days where I wonder if it wouldn't be easier if I removed my self from the picture. Then they could be a family but I wouldn't have to watch."

There was an outpouring of wonderful comments, messages and texts from many people in my life, for which I am very, very grateful.  It brought me back into a better head space and I was able to go along with my afternoon with my children.  They brought a couple of friends with them to my place.  We had a nice swim and a nice dinner and a generally nice time.

My son still asks to go "home", when he gets tired.  They'll come stay with me this weekend for the first time in almost a month (the trip to see their grandparents ate up two of my weekend and then the four of them went to an anime convention in San Antonio the weekend after they got back) and I know I'll have to deal with that. 

I'm still very sad, but I'm getting myself prepared to be hopeful. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

It's been a Harper Lee themed week

I got the new book Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee for my birthday.  I got 20 pages into it, got mad and had to put it down for a few days.  I had to come back to it with a more intellectual approach and understanding that this was a first draft of a first book.

It is definitively NOT To Kill a Mockingbird. But what in this world is?  Still, the writing is crisp.  The attempt to make her point is very heavy handed and required me going back and re-reading, trying to understand what she was trying to communicate.  And I'm a smart cookie.  I ended up having to look up facts about the constitution to try and grasp what it was she was trying to tell me.

There are glimpses of the writing I knew in Mockingbird, which I thrilled to see. 

After finishing it, I decided to go back and re-read To Kill  a Mockingbird. This book changed my life.  I could go on for days about it, but I'll suffice it to say that I enjoyed re-discovering it after a few years of not touching that particular volume. It still reads like the wind to me.  Reads like the wind, paints pictures, engages me and still makes my mind boggle at the unfairness in the world and the importance of doing the right thing despite what society's rules tell us. 

This Saturday, the Paramount theater in downtown Austin had a screening of the film version.  Joel and I went to check it out as we're both big fans.  The person who coordinates the programming for the summer film schedule made a short speech before the movie.  He told us that Rock Hudson was the person the studio wanted to play Atticus.  I said out loud "Oh, that would have been soooo wrong."  How could anyone but Gregory Peck play Atticus Finch? 

I expected to enjoy the movie but I didn't expect to cry.  I didn't expect tears to come running out of my eyeballs when Scout says "Hey Boo."  or when Tom Robinson was testifying or when Mayella Ewell flew into hysterics because she thinks she being made fun of when a man is being polite to her. 

I wasn't the only one. There was a great deal of sniffing and rustling of napkins.   Joel and I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around South Congress having sodas from Big Top Candy and discussing the movie.  We got off on a tangent about what makes a person trashy while talking about the Ewell family.

What does make a person trashy?  It's not income, because I've known people who have tons of money but have a trashiness about them.  It's not appearance.  I work with a woman who is missing one of her front teeth and has a couple crude tattoos, but she has a distinct level of class about her.

It's this odd, intangible concept much like charisma.  I haven't been able to put my finger on it.  Do you have any ideas?

We also wondered if there's a new movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird in the works.  He asked me who I thought should play Atticus if they should make the horrid mistake of remaking the film.  I thought a minute and answered Daniel Day Lewis, although I don't know that anyone could do the part justice.  

I will say, all this submersing myself in southern gothic literature and film has kept me distracted from the fact that my 25th wedding anniversary would have been this week.  It also helped that I completed a new painting, am finishing up one I started a while back and I've got the background to a third washed in already.

Meanwhile, my children have returned from their two weeks with their grandparents in North Carolina and I'll see them tomorrow for the first time in sixteen days.

Macaroni and cheese in on the menu.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Yeah, I haven't updated in a long time

I haven't updated in a while.  Frankly, I've been depressed and don't want to whine at everybody.

But, here's what happening with me. I've been wallowing around in a couple of the seven deadly sins.

Envy.  Oh, yes.  Envy and I are very familiar with each other.  I don't think it's an accident that my favorite color is green.  I've been very envious of the ex-husband.

Firstly, my children  have a stepmother already.  They're not married and I don't know if there are plans for that step to be taken.  However, the Monday after I moved out she was in the house cleaning, cooking, doing laundry and serving dinner at the table.  When I pick up my children she's there.  She's spending more time with my kids than I do.

The ex was out of work from the end of January until the beginning of June.  During his time of unemployment, she paid their bills.  His car died.  She bought a BMW for him to drive.  The first thing my daughter said about it was that legally it belonged to their dad's girlfriend but they got to drive it.

Since the beginning of the year, the ex and the new (well, old really.  She's been his girlfriend for a long time) girlfriend have been on four out of town trips and she produced his album.   The last trip was with the kids to Houston for a Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror convention where they played a concert.

My parents are helping me out with my rent, yes.  And without them I'd be renting a room with nowhere for my kids to visit me.  I'd be reduced to seeing them at McDonald's twice a week. 

I have a place for them to come stay with me, but I have to tell them no a LOT.  I have to explain that I don't have any money.  I can't do things for them the way I want to.  Once I start paying child support, I will qualify for food stamps.  I really need a new car, but that's not going to happen for a while.  When I need repairs I'll end up being like Baby in Dirty Dancing and going to my daddy.  Again. I'm going to be donating plasma in exchange for money again starting this week.

Jealousy for the ex's situation is part of my life.

Let's discuss my birthday.  I have a freak out before my birthday every year because nothing happens on my birthday.  One of the bones of contention between the ex and I was that he'd never given me a birthday party where I had tossed him several.

I stopped celebrating my birthday for six years because I was so sick of getting my feelings hurt when I got a "Oh, happy birthday." from him.  I got a birthday present from my good friend, Chris (she's in the cast of characters), last year.  That was the only birthday gift I'd gotten in years.

I've tried to toss birthday celebrations for myself to so-so success.  For my fortieth, I was in California with the kids and I invited a bunch of people to have dinner with me at the Napa Rose in Downtown Disney.  To my great surprise, sixteen of us had a grand time.  In my previous attempts I got lots of "I don't know, maybe.  I might have something going on that day."

I have a tendency to equate gifts with feelings of love and affection and friendship.  Earlier this year, a person I'm acquainted with got on Facebook to say that she was going to be evicted from her apartment, her car was going to be repossessed and her electric was going to be shut off so she had a GoFundMe going.  She couched this in the context that her "film company" was going to lose it's space.  Her film company is her and some friends who make movies for Youtube that don't make any money.  She works on and off.  And she's done this before, gotten in financial trouble and asked her friends for money to bail her out.

She gets it.  People gave her money.  Like they have before, they gave her money. Therefore, they love her.  Because that's what you do for people you love.  I mentioned this theory to a friend of mine who is also acquainted with said woman.

My friend's response?  "Jesus, Amanda, they feel sorry for her."  Then I started giving myself a bunch of negative self-talk for even having feelings about it.

Negative talk leads to depression with leads to:


I watch a lot of TV. I eat a lot of junk food.  I let the housework go. I get the laundry done but I don't put it away.  I play games on my phone.

Sloth.  Slot and I are good friends.  We understand each other, sloth and I.

And then there's the good stuff going on.

My daughter is handling things beautifully.  She likes to come to my house. She has friends who have divorced parents she can talk to.

I have a job.  I can do it with my eyes rolled back in my head.  With all the stress in my personal life, this is a good thing.  I have weekends off and health insurance.

I'm painting.  As much as my budget allows for canvases, I'm painting.  My new friend, Joel, convinced me to get some size going.  I'm working with as big a canvas as I can fit in my car.  I've done some of my best work in the last five months.  Currently, I'm into elephants and balloons.

And I'm seeing someone.  He writes me poetry. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

That which pushes me to tears every single time

As you all know, I have a great deal going on in my life right now.  I'm fully aware that I'm doing a great deal of denying of feelings, stuffing, ignoring and otherwise not dealing with emotions I have going on right now. 

I'm spending a lot of time with friends, keeping myself distracted.  I'm painting.  I'm sleeping too much.

Anyway, I'm doing all this emotional denial and then I'll crack to pieces over issues with my health  insurance.

I'm grateful to have health insurance at all.  Having none would be a lot worse.  But, the incredible amount of stress that has gone along with getting coverage started and then navigating the various obstacles the company has tossed in my way has pushed me over into crying fits several times.

First, just getting coverage was a toughie.  I had to fax proof of dependents.  Then I had to fax proof that we were not covered.  The company then made our eligibility date retro active.  They charged us for coverage we were eligible in the past.  Since they had not received the premium for this coverage, they charged me 1 and 1/2 times that much over 3 of my paychecks.  None of this was disclosed to me and since I don't have a Tardis or a souped up Delorean, it was impossible for me to take advantage of the benefits I was charged for.  They validate this charge by stating we could submit receipts for any doctor's visits we had during the time we weren't covered. 

So, I get through all that.  The premiums settle into what they are going to be for the rest of the time I'm with this company.  Then, we move into prescription coverage.  The top tier antidepressant that works for me isn't something the company wants to cover.  They want me to be on something generic or have preauthorization from my doctor.  I spent over 90 minutes on the phone with my doctor's office, the pharmacy and the insurance company.  The preauthorization finally (after almost 3 weeks) arrived in the mail this week.

In addition to the authorization I was waiting on, I got a couple of letters from my prescription coverage stating that if I didn't go with picking up a 90 day supply of my 'scrips at a time, I would have to pay full retail.  This involves me calling my pharmacy, telling them I need the 90 day supply.  Then they call my doctor to get approval of a 90 day supply.

If my doc refuses to give me 90 days at a time, I'm SOL.  I have to pay close to $400 a month out of pocket.  Or I have to swap medication or swap to a doctor that will allow me 90 days at a time.

This bullshit, THIS sends me into crying hysterics.  I'm able to hold it together through everything else, but dealing with my insurance company reduces me to the emotional equivalent of a tired, over-stimulated 2 year old that has been denied a cookie.

Thank goodness I have tissues.

Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30th

On the 15th of March, I had only smoked one cigarette.  The following 15 days were filled with nervousness, anxiousness, pacing, walks and a general sense that something was missing as I dealt with nicotine leaving my system.

This was not my first experience with quitting smoking.  This time around I was smoking 5 packs a week.  I cut down to 1 cigarette a day. 

One.  Some days I didn't have any.

I had to select the time of day very carefully. If I indulged in the morning with my coffee, it was enjoyable, but then I had the rest of the day to think about not smoking.  If I told myself I could have one before bed, I could likely get through without having any nicotine at all. 

I felt that if I could get myself off the American Spirits there were many other things that would fall into place for me.  Whether this was true or if it would be self fulfilling prophecy, I didn't know.  Did it really matter? 

As I was going through withdrawals, I wasn't sleeping particularly well.  When I did sleep I had bad dreams.  By Friday the 27th, I was exhausted.  I cut my visit short with my kids that night and went home to rest.  I was unbelievably grateful that I was able to get a nap. 

The following Sunday, I took them to the last day of the local renaissance faire.  My children were 3rd generation faire goers and this was our 3rd trek to this particular one.  These trips were bittersweet for me.  Scott and I had gone to a lot of faires a lot of time with a lot of friends and I had a lot of good memories. 

Riding on the big swing with my friends Stephanie, Kathye and Susi, kicking our feet and holding our arms up, turning my face up to the sun and feeling the breeze in my hair while I laughed with my friends.  Scott and I smooching on the kissing bridge. Discovering new artists and collecting their work each year. Getting drunk by noon and then laying down in the deep shade by the big pond for a nap.  Playing tug of war with thirty other people, no one having any investment in winning.  Untying my bodice before getting in the car to go home and taking in a huge breath for the first time in hours.  The wonderful feeling of showering off the layer of dust and sweat upon arriving home.  Doing it all again the next weekend. 

Zoe and Will loved the faire.  The one we attended was fairly small, with a large number of stages.  This venue was very clear about the fact that they were a family friendly event.  This was not a place to get sloppy drunk and publicly make out.  (Although that did happen and I found it wonderfully amusing when it did.) They had their favorite shows and performers.  They both ended up on stage in at least one show each time we attended.  I took photos and posted them to Facebook.  The performers thanked me for coming and I'd become Facebook friends with a few of them. 

It made me very happy that it was something I could do with them, a place where we could make memories.  We always drove through Starbucks before driving there and stopped at Sonic on the way back.  They each had their favorite things to do.  Zoe liked to throw tomatoes at the insulter.  Will liked to run through the kids maze while I timed him.  (I did have to put a limit on how many times we could do this since it cost $2 for each run.) 

Then it came time to go to the car, get our Sonic snack on and drive them home.  Then it was time for me to say goodbye to them again. 

I still thought "I'm walking out on my kids."  every single time I told them goodbye.

And I went home to get ready to start a new week.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

March 21st

The previous week had gone by somewhat uneventfully.  I rose early.  I went to work.  I saw my children in the afternoons. I went to my place to sleep.

I started on a new painting using bright orange and blues.  A tree was taking form.  I was pleased with the progress.

On the 20th, I collected my kids and took them to my house to sleep over for the first time.  Since my new home was an upstairs unit, I was somewhat paranoid about how heavily we stepped.

A good friend of mine had lived in a situation where her downstairs neighbors would run upstairs and scream obscenities for any type of sound from their footsteps.  My oversensitivity made me caution my son and daughter to take it easy on the floor, to not stomp or jump off the beds.  My floors were wood and I wondered how loudly it was echoing down below.  I really did try to relax and not worry about it.  It wasn't like we were doing high impact aerobics, we were just walking around. 

We went to the grocery store for provisions and then tried to decide what to do at my house.

I didn't have computers for them to play on.  I did have an Xbox 360 that would play DVDs and games.  My son had brought some games and proceeded to get himself involved in defeating enemies while I got some frozen pizza into the oven.  My daughter drew pictures.

We all ate the table and then tried to watch a movie together.  My son was having a difficult time with the split.  At least it seemed to me that he was doing some acting out.  It appeared that he and his sister were fighting a lot more than they usually did.

As I was an only child, I had no idea how much fighting was normal, let alone in this situation.  He called her names.  She bossed him around and found fault with everything he did.

We DID watch a movie together, but I was tense trying to keep them from each other and worrying about how loud we were being.  While we were viewing, I helped my son make various things out of aluminum foil.  He really wanted a foil submarine, but neither his sister or I could figure out how to make it sink.  Finally, about 10 o'clock, I said it was time to go to bed. 

Surprisingly, we all slept fine.  My son said he put a dream in his head and went right to sleep.  About an hour after we got up, he started to say he wanted to go home.  It was only 9 o'clock and I was quite certain their dad wasn't up yet. 

I made the suggestion that we all go to a movie at 11 and then he could go home.

And that's what we did.  There was a part of me that wanted to tell him that it was the weekend he was supposed to stay with me.  But, he needed to know that he could go to either house whenever he wanted to.  Or, I was overthinking it and he was bored and wanted to play World of Warcraft.  At any rate, my son went back to the house he lived in with his dad and my daughter stayed on with me for another night.

We went shopping for small things I needed.  We had some dinner, watched a couple of movies and played a game of Life.  We didn't have the instructions so we made it up as we went along.  I found that to be particularly appropriate.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

March 15th

Ten days had passed somewhat uneventfully.  My dad and I had spent time with the kids. 

The weekend Scott was gone, my dad dealt with some repairs and deliveries at my place and I took the kids to the nearby renaissance faire.  Scott and I had gone to faire a LOT in the early 90s.  We had a huge group of friends we went with and I got in a moderate amount of trouble with my excellent friend Kathye.  We drank too much, attracted a great deal of attention and generally had a fine old time.

Going with my kids was different, but just as satisfying.  The faire we attended was small, which made it easy to do everything in a day.  The kids favorite things to do were watch shows involving animals and magic and to throw tomatoes at the man who shouted insults while you tried to hit him in the face with fruit. 

We caught the trained dog act, tossed some 'maters, ate some food and set off to wander.  

My son had decided he wanted to go steampunk.  We'd put in some time and money to get his outfit ready.  A couple hours into our day, he decided he felt stupid wearing it and wanted something different.  He would not let up on the subject.  All he would talk about was what he wanted to wear next time.  He kept up a running monologue about how he didn't want to wear steampunk, he felt stupid and he wanted a shirt and a hat with a feather in it. 

I told him I was not going to make him a new costume and stop talking about it.  He kept talking about it.  I finally sat down in a pile of leaves I was so frustrated.  Then he started to cry because I was upset and then I started to cry and my poor daughter sat there trying to make everyone feel better.

We finally wiped our faces and went off to find something to do.  Our day ended up being very good, but our drama in the middle of it made me cranky.

The next day was wet and rainy.  Since the dryer at the kids' house didn't work I took all of our laundry to my place.  As the washer and dryer were doing their thing, I was surprised at how much I liked being alone.  I liked the quiet.  I liked how uncluttered it was.  I missed my kids and kept expecting them to walk around the corner, but I was enjoying my time solo.

It did surprise me.  I thought I'd be sitting around feeling sorry for myself, but it was okay.  It was more than okay.

Scott came home.  My dad went back to California.  I went back to my house.  I took my pattern back up of going to work early in the morning, seeing the kids in the afternoon and coming back to my place after I'd gotten them dinner. 

I stocked my refrigerator with fruit, cheese, bread and Topo Chico waters.  I made myself coffee in the mornings.  I listened to a lot of music.  I picked up after myself. 

On the 15th, I took the day to myself.  I slept in.  I had bread and goat cheese with fruit for breakfast.  I took a nap.  I got my laundry and chores done.  I started on a new painting.  I went to a movie with my good friend Chris. 

It looked like I was going to be okay. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

March 4th and 5th

March 4th.

My dad had offered to come visit while Scott was out of town to help me with the kids.  I took him up on this.  It meant he could get the kids to and from school, meaning I could work my regular hours instead of abbreviating them.  It meant they wouldn't have to be on their own after school for any amount of time.

It also meant my dad could meet the plumber at the new place to get a few things looked at that needed attention.  I was grateful he was coming to lend a hand. 

The kids and I picked him up at the airport the night of the 4th.  It was a VERY good thing he had come to visit when he did.  The weather had turned very cold and icy rain was predicted that night.  The school district had already cancelled school the next day.

 He collected his luggage and as he and I were putting it in the back of my car I turned to him.

"Daddy?"  I said.

"Yeah honey?"

"I'm really, really sorry."  and I burst into tears.

And my dad hugged me.  I stopped crying and we went home.

March 5th

I was able to drive to work without any issue.  The anticipated precipitation hadn't happened, so the streets weren't frozen.  I'd started to experience work as something of an escape.  I was good at my job.  I was a good prep chef.  I liked my job and the woman I worked for.  I liked my coworkers, who continued to surprise me with small gestures of goodwill.

When I had stayed home with Will, one of the women I worked with came up to me the next day.

"Oh, there you are!  I was asking yesterday 'Where is Amanda?'  It's good to have you back."

Another woman, who didn't speak English very well, but it was better than my Spanish, would give me little pats on the back every now and then.  One of the cashiers regularly asked how I was doing with everything going on.  It was a nice thing, to know they were giving me good vibes.

I worked my normal hours, 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  I liked this schedule because I was done in time to visit with the kids and get their dinner together while I got a solid 40 hours a week, if not a little overtime.

Scott was in San Francisco attending the Game Developers Conference, but was getting ready to go to another hotel in San Jose to attend a music convention. He and I had gone to these together until we had kids.  In the last 13 years I had been to fewer than 5, while he still attended 2 or 3 a year. 
When he and I had separated in 2013 it became clear that the friends we had made through these gatherings were going to be his friends and not mine anymore.  I knew that there was a division of friends when couples split, but it didn't make me feel any better when I realized there were people I loved I wouldn't speak to again. 

At some point, his friend had started to tag along to the conventions and was now his regular traveling companion to these things.  And, frankly, he hadn't wanted me to go along with him for years. 

So, Scott was gone for a week with the woman that was effectively his girlfriend. The same one that paid for all these trips they took together.  I had no idea how to refer to her.  Friend?  Girlfriend?  I didn't know.  

Probably girlfriend.  Part of me wanted to put that label on it and part of me didn't want to make assumptions.

But, the photo he'd posted of himself with her kissing the side of his face slammed me in the heart like I'd been punched.  Slammed me in a way I didn't want it to. 

I didn't want to be hurt.  I didn't want it to sting. I didn't want to feel dumb because I'd finally realized they'd been involved for a long time.  I didn't want to feel stupid for telling myself they'd just been friends all the years there was evidence to the contrary in front of my face.   I didn't want to feel jealous that he had a companion all ready to go and I was just by myself. I didn't want to be resentful that she took him for weekends out of town, had been taking him for weekends out of town for half a decade.

But I was.  I was all of those things. 

Then my brain went into the dark place it likes to go. 

I started thinking about how he'd be having fun with people I didn't get to be friends with anymore. 
 I wondered what he'd say to them about me and how this was all my fault. I wondered how they'd nod vehemently and agree. I worried about how that would get filtered and passed around and filtered and passed around again. 

I convinced myself that everyone would tell him "I'm so glad you got away from that bitch."

I sat there and cried about everything I didn't have.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March 2nd.

I spent the day with my son at his house.  Scott had left that morning for a week long trip to California.  The first half would be spent attending a video game industry convention, job searching.  The rest would be spent at a music convention, where he would be releasing his new album.

I spent most of the day dealing with depression that threatened to crush my soul.  All the old resentments and jealously about the trips that Scott got to take, that his friend paid for, were sitting on my chest like a horrible, heavy snake.

No one, except my parents, had ever paid for me to go anywhere.  Scott took upwards of 5 trips a year, all funded by his friend.  I stayed home.  I stayed home and felt angry, jealous, resentful and trying to talk myself out of feeling angry, jealous and resentful. 

I kept thinking about what a bad wife I'd been.  And now I was the person who was breaking up my children's home.  Being in the house where I didn't live anymore made me horrifically sad. 

My father was going to be arriving on the 4th to help me with the kids.  The house was in no shape for guests, but I couldn't gather the energy to even pick up.  The most I could manage was to unload and reload the dishwasher.

I sat on the couch, watching television with my son and counting the minutes until I could go to bed and sleep.

That's all I wanted to do.  Sleep. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

February 24th through March 1st

The first week of my being on my own was pleasing, frightening, frustrating, depressing and any number of other emotions that were globbed together.

I suspected I was denying quite a few of these feelings, that I was numbing myself out.  I imagined there was a very big, very unsatisfying cry in my future. 

The actual move went smoothly.  I did most of it by myself.  I had been able to purchase a table and chairs and a coffee table at garage sales.  My good friend, Chris, helped me move a desk I planned to use as a vanity.  My other good friend, Joe, helped me move the loveseat. 

When he came to help me move my biggest piece of furniture, my son was in distress as his sister had been pushing his buttons for half an hour.  He was tired.  At one point he'd curled up on the couch and put his thumb in his mouth.  Based on the research I'd done, his behavior was normal but that didn't make it any easier to deal with.

Again, when I left to go to my home, I thought "I'm walking out on my kids again." 

The first week of visiting the kids after I was done with work was awkward and strange.  It was made stranger by the fact that Scott's best friend, female, was in the house at the same time.  She was changing beds, making home improvements and generally taking care of the house.  While I knew she had my children's best interests at heart and wouldn't say bad things about me to them, it still made me uncomfortable.  I later asked Scott that when I was visiting she not be there.  I wanted my time with my kids to myself.  He agreed to do everything he could to accommodate my request, which made me very grateful.

When I wasn't spending time with the kids, I was battling depression.  A friend of mine told me the first couple of months would be very lonely, but it got easier with time.  All I wanted to do was sleep or read, generally falling asleep reading.

I was waiting for the new appliances to be delivered.  I didn't have a refrigerator, so I had fruit and chocolate in the house. I ate at work and snacked at home. 

There were some definitive differences in my day to day.  I still rose early to be at work by 6:30.  But, I was taking a shower every evening.  I was picking up after myself.  This was a much easier task since it was just me and I wasn't doing any cooking. 

I was also struggling trying to get a plumber out to look at the washing machine, which wasn't working.  It wasn't an issue since there was a laundromat close by and my laundry needs weren't huge.

Then there was dealing with the benefits department of the company where I worked.  Trying to get everyone enrolled was a chore.  Not only did I have to call the benefits line twice to get the necessary paperwork emailed to me, I had to call to verify it had been received and ask that it be forwarded on to the next department.  Then I had to wait for contact from the company that would need documentation that my dependents were actually my dependents.  Then there was calling to verify that paperwork was received and finally calling the insurance company to be sure the benefits had been activated.  After all of that, an additional 100 dollars was deducted from my paycheck than what I had been quoted.  Apparently, the activation date was the 1st of February.  As that fee had not been paid, 1 and 1/2 times that amount would have to come out of my pay, spread out over 2 checks.  This was a chunk of change for me.  None of this had been disclosed to me.  I complained that I was being charged for benefits I had not been able to access.  I had specifically NOT used any medical services because I didn't have insurance.  I had filled prescriptions, paying a huge amount out of pocket.  The pharmacy told me I'd go through my company to be reimbursed for the difference and my company told me I would go through the pharmacy.  I saw that money flying away.

This finally drove me to tears.  I took out my frustration on the poor woman who explained all this to me.

Starting on the 2nd, Scott was leaving town for a week and I would be parenting full time.  This meant massaging my work hours so I could get the kids off to school.  It also eliminated any possibility of extra hours.  Even an hour of overtime was a big help to my budget.

Then, Sunday the 1st, my son started to throw up.  He couldn't go to school the next day.  He had to be nausea free for 24 hours before he could go back in the building.  Since he dad was leaving the morning of the 2nd, I had to take a day off work to stay home with him.

This distressed me as I desperately needed my job.  I didn't want any concerns of any kind in my boss's brain.  With my new situation, I was somewhat paranoid. 

And so, the second week of my new life started. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

February 22nd

The 22nd was cold and drizzly.

It was my second day of moving my things.  When I got up I realized I'd have to wear the same clothes I'd worn the day before since I'd moved all my clothes to the new place. I dragged on my grubbies and got ready to keep on.

On the first trip of the day, my 13 year old daughter came with me.  She helped me carry some things in and then set to work hanging artwork.

She would move things around and then say "I'm feeling this here."  Then she'd fetch a couple of push pins to hang whatever she was placing.

When we were done I took her back home and I put more things in the car.  My good friend Chris was going to come help me in the afternoon with one of my 3 pieces of furniture.  I filled the time packing up containers, putting them in the car, moving them, emptying them and repeating the process.

While I was carrying my dresser drawers out, a couple of my son's friends were walking by.  One of them yelled "Hey, what are you doing?" 

"I"m moving."  I called back.

"Why?"  she asked me.

"Um, because I am."  I had no idea how to answer that. 

"Yeah, Will told us about it.  I'm sorry." 

I was flabbergasted.  This was the second child who had told me they were sorry.  One of my daughter's best friends had said almost the same thing to me the day before.  I had no idea what to say to them.  I just thanked them.

My friend arrived and we were able to take the small desk I'd be using as a vanity over in her car.  There was a surprising amount of space in the back of her little SUV.  She offered to help me with the other 2 pieces later in the week.  I accepted readily.  I needed all the help I could get. 

Once I had completed my trips for the day, I asked Scott if he would come help me with my router.  I had internet service set up to start that day, but I didn't know how to set up the actual equipment.  We'd take the kids and I'd buy everyone dinner afterwards.

The whole weekend had been uncomfortable for me.  Having the kids' dad in my new place was even more uncomfortable, I think for both of us.  The kids ran around while he got me online.  I thanked him and we went for something to eat.

After I delivered them back home, I loaded up one more time and got ready to go.

I kissed both the kids goodnight and headed out the door.

I'd created a fantasy where Scott and I would hug goodbye and cry and ask each other how we'd gotten here.  Of course, that didn't happen.   I told my children I'd see them the next day and I left.

I drove to my new house, to live by myself for the first time, thinking "I just walked out on my children." 

Once I was inside I got myself busy putting things away.  I was listening to a Pandora station while I sorted stuff out.  Then Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" played.  I found myself standing in my new bathroom crying.  Not sobbing.  Not yelling. Just standing there with tears running down my face.

I stopped for the night. I took a shower.  I got into bed.

Eventually, I slept.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

February 21st

I stood in my new apartment.  Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a tiny kitchen and a living/dining room completed the space I would be occupying.

It had really lovely wood floors, new tiling in the bathrooms and a fireplace I couldn't use because there wasn't a hearth, just the wood floor.  But, I could put candles in it. New appliances were going to be delivered the next week. It wasn't huge, but it was perfect for what I needed. 

I'd labored by myself for the day, filling plastic containers, moving them, emptying them of the contents and taking the empty containers back to the house to fill again.  I'd moved smaller, lighter pieces of furniture.  The things I couldn't move by myself I would get help with later in the month.  I'd reserved a truck for the 15th of March, but I thought I might not have to use it if I could find a friend to let me use a van with the seats removed.  I had all of three larger pieces that would require help lifting and hauling up the stairs.

It was an upstairs unit, so I had vaulted ceilings.  This gave me quite a bit of wall space to hang my artwork.  I'd brought all of it with me.  It leaned against the walls and I shifted them around, figuring out where each one wanted to live.  I'd purchased a music player from Target that would play CD's, LPs, cassettes and the radio.  I had tossed all the cassettes I'd owned many years ago, but I still had a lot of records and CDs.  I still hadn't moved into the 21st century when it came to music storage.  I was happy with my round things.

I was listening to Janis Joplin and moving my pictures around.  This was going to be my home.  I could do with it what I liked.  I wanted it to feel like mine.

Then the phone rang and I learned my new bed was on the way.  I opened the front door and waited for the place I'd be able to rest to be delivered.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A new life

February 20th I was standing in the garage looking at a small pile of plastic storage containers and boxes of kitchen things I'd assembled over the last week.  I was getting ready to load them into my car because I was moving.

Not the entire family.  Just me.  I was the only one moving.

The Husband was no longer The Husband.  He was now the my kids' dad and my soon-to-be ex. 

I was getting divorced.  We had done this before, but I hadn't moved out and while paperwork had been filed, it hadn't been signed or finalized. 

Our attempts to patch things up for the sake of our kids hadn't been successful.  In fact, they'd been so unsuccessful the two of us had gotten into a physical fight.  All that frustration and anger and hurt had finally boiled over and we'd attacked each other trying to hurt the other one.  We'd yelled and screamed and cried and smacked.  Neither of us felt any better.

That same week we decided that we needed to separate.  Our relationship was unhealthy.  Unhealthy was an understatement.  I didn't think there was a word to adequately describe what was now between us.

I had stated that if I moved out, it would disrupt the children's day to day the least.  They were used to me being gone in the early mornings and their dad getting them off to school.  I would still be with them in the afternoons once I was off work. 

I was leaning heavily on my parents financially.  I was unable to express the amount of gratitude for their support. Without them I'd be renting a room with a shared bathroom.  I wouldn't be able to have the kids come visit me.  I'd have no privacy.  They'd agreed to help me while I got my feet under me.

There wasn't a big rush for me to relocate.  We didn't hate each other.  We were getting along fine, but it was uncomfortable and it was high time for me to leave.

We'd talked with the kids, a surreal experience since our son had guessed what was going on.  9 years old and he knew things weren't good between his parents.  This wasn't good for them.  This was no kind of example.  This was the right thing to do for everyone.

I picked up the first box and got ready to start my new life.  

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Monstra swallowed me up

I knew she was down there, just underneath the surface
while I bobbed up and down on the waves.
I floated on my back trying to rest and hoping the swells would lull me to sleep.
Sleeping would make this all go away and I could rest.

Then she silently came up with her mouth opened wide and gulped me down
without causing one ripple or splash.
It was completely silent, my descent into the dark.

Now I'm here in the dripping interior with Gepetto and Baron Munchausen, prentending to enjoy our card games and our converstaion.

Really, I'm wondering if this is the end of my story.
Is this my home now? What will the humidity do to my skin?

There aren't any exit signs in her stomach. There are no treasure maps to be found here.
All I can do is sit still and frown over my hand of cards, wondering if there are really 52 in the deck.

I listen to the Baron talk about hot air balloons and dancing on air with Venus.
Gepetto tells me how much he misses his wooden son, how he was so passionate
in this love he dove into the great, deep ocean to find him.

No one is looking for me.

Maybe I can climb up her ribs, using them like a ladder.
Maybe I can try to scramble back up the way I came to be here.
Maybe I can try to find a way to be reborn from this dark, dank place.

Reborn into what?

What if there are dragons?
What if there are sharks?
What if there is just....

Would that be worse than this?
What could possibly be worse than this?

Is there anything worse than this?
Maybe this is the best I have to hope for.
Maybe staying here is what I deserve, where I was born to be.
All the moments of my life have led me to this small place, perhaps it's best for me to stay.

Monstra swallowed me up.
I'm not sure I mind.