Oct 27, 2008

Mama lion.

I took some great pictures of our time at the beach, but my camera drowned when Grace and I were caught off guard by a wave. We were running from it, and I was thinking, "Shit, we're gonna get wet." Then the water hit us and it was all I could do to hold onto Grace by one hand. I kept hoping her shoulder wouldn't dislocate, and then the sand under my feet disappeared and I fell. I stopped worrying about her shoulder then and tried to keep her head above water, but we went under a couple times before my SIXTY-FIVE-YEAR-OLD MOTHER came to our rescue. She charged without a second thought into that goddamn ocean and hauled us both upright, carried Grace to my brother and father, and then came back to where I was paralyzed and hugged me while I had a complete emotional breakdown.

Grace's version of events? "Um, the water came and Mommy held me and water got in my mouth but I didn't breathe because I'm not a fish." All that time in the bathtub, trying to breathe underwater, I thought she was trying to drive me crazy. But she was just learning how to stay alive.

My lifelong dream of working in a cubicle has been realized.

If you happen to know a single mom who gets up in the dark; cleans, dresses and feeds herself and her kid(s); drops them at school; races to put in a nine hour work day; races to pick up her kid(s) from school; runs a couple of errands on the way home; makes dinner; and tries to make it to bedtime without inadvertently teaching a new swear word, do me a favor. Next time you see her, give her a big bear hug, then hold her by the shoulders (so she can't get away — she's in a hurry) and tell her, "You are a superhero." If she acts like it's no big deal, please give her my email address so she can tell me her secret.

My first day at work was unremarkable, a little boring actually, the way jobs are when you have to fill out paperwork, meet coworkers whose names you forget immediately, and begin training for work you hope you will eventually do well and enjoy. I'm beginning to realize how much I have to learn, both about the underlying software and the application the company develops. Also, I had to set up my own computer and install software, which I thought was a little rude. Yes, I know how, but that's not much of a "welcome aboard!" The highlight of my day came when I was installing something and the computer kept rejecting my password. My boss said, "You already messed up your computer's main password? Great impression." A few minutes later he realized he hadn't yet set up a password for me to change — his bad — so I said, "Huh. Great impression." He hadn't hurt my feelings; it's just that I love being right and completely ungracious about it.

It wasn't the job that was so crazy; it was the racing around that bookended a day of sitting on my ass missing Grace and dealing with tedium. Being bored is WAY worse than being busy, particularly when you know that in five, four, three, two minutes you'll have to go from zero to sixty in ten seconds and shift gears from staring at a computer monitor (a quiet computer monitor) to dealing with a toddler who recharges with activity, like a car battery running, and who, by the end of the night, is literally spinning out of control.

I know, bitch, bitch, bitch. I have a wonderful daughter and a job.

Oct 23, 2008

I seem to have lost my pluck.

Yesterday was our 14th wedding anniversary, and I chose to write about what I hope to find, rather than dwell on what I'm losing. I made that decision because the two aren't very similar, not because John isn't a great guy, but because I pushed too hard for something that just wasn't in the cards, I think. Also, I'm trying hard to look forward, stay positive and focus on what's important. Tonight my brother Ed, Grace and I will drive to visit my parents at the coast, and Monday I will start my job. This will be my last chance to be with family (the people who HAVE TO love me), and lick my wounds before my new life starts. So I'm sort of bugging out and I feel like crying. Should be an interesting car ride for Ed.

Oct 22, 2008

Still growing.

About a month ago, I realized Grace had outgrown all of her clothes, including shoes, in what seemed like a few days. I hit the mall and did the best I could, and she seems okay with what I picked out. We still tussle over actual outfits, however, mostly due to the change in weather. She wants to pair a flowered tank with plaid shorts and Crocs when it's fifty degrees and raining, insisting she'll be fine with her rain coat and orange fishing hat. And sunglasses. I've tried asking her to pick out a pair of pants — no, not SHORTS, not a SKORT, PANTS — and then I give her a choice of tops that I think match. It almost never works. She will dig to the bottom of her shirt drawer and pull out the most ridiculously wrong thing, then fight like crazy to put it on, "...ALL BY MYSELF!" This is going to be so much fun when I start my job.

Someone to watch over me.

This shot of Brady pretty much captures my mood today: kinda forlorn but hopeful, in need of a hug, tail at half mast, down but definitely not out. I've noticed that when Brady and Boo lie together, they always position themselves butt-to-butt. That's a pretty trusting behavior for dogs, I think; it's as if they're looking out for each other. I'll always believe that it's better to be alone than to be with someone and be lonely, but I don't really want to be alone, either. Maybe that's what all my recent blogginess has been about — when something happens to me, I don't feel I've fully experienced it until I've shared it with someone. But it has to be with someone who cares. I crave that feeling right now. I'm not yet alone and not particularly lonely, but I imagine how beautiful it must be to have one person in your life whom you can trust to care about you and watch out for you. I don't need a man to put me on a pedestal or put my needs before his own, but I long for the security that comes with knowing that someone's got my back. One person, always. How could I ask for more? I suppose integrity is crucial. Intelligence and a sense of humor would be nice. And if he happened to look like George Clooney...

Of course, let's not forget that crazy something two people do when they're feeling especially fond of each other. Maybe I'm reading too much into the dogs' body language. Maybe Brady just likes to rub her butt against Boo's balls. And who can blame him for not resisting? She's a hottie, even at four times his age.

Oct 17, 2008


I received this card today from Vicky, one of my very favorite people in the world. I made the mistake of opening it while waiting for my follow-up ultrasound, and everyone in that waiting room must have been wondering what was wrong with the poor, scrawny woman weeping in the corner. THIS is the kind of energy I need to tap into. No more curling up in bed feeling sorry for myself. I'm a forty-one-year-old woman with a fantastic daughter, wonderful family and friends, a roof over my head, a new job and countless new people and adventures awaiting me out there. All this time I've been complaining, when in reality, I believe I may be one of the luckiest people I know. There's nothing wrong with being apprehensive, but I need to keep reminding myself that courage is not the absence of fear; rather, it's the ability to face and overcome fear. I'm determined to teach that to Grace, although I have a feeling she is more likely to set that example for me. Thank you so much, Vic, for the beautiful sentiments.

Speaking of Gigi, we were lucky enough to find a fantastic daycare that happened to have space available the two days we need. They usually don't offer just two days a week, but made an exception. This is an item I can check off my list with enthusiasm rather than resignation, and one more reason to feel fortunate that the pieces of this crazy puzzle are falling into place. Note to self: allow optimism to kick fear's ass.

Boo's balls.

I wasn't the slightest bit surprised when Brady welcomed Boo into our home without a hint of territorial behavior (she's usually a marker, very tomboyish of her). I'll give you a hint: check out the bottom left corner, above. Yup, he's intact, and Brady has always been partial to a real man. I don't remember if I've mentioned it, but when an unneutered male makes an appearance at the dog park, Brady becomes a completely different dog, prancing, wagging and doing flirty little body slams. It is embarrassing, really, and hard to watch if her affections aren't reciprocated. But now she has this stud muffin to share sunny spots on the bed with. I wonder what they do when we're not home.

Oct 16, 2008

A little misplaced frustration.

Brady is enormously pissed off that she has not yet made an appearance on this website, but that seems to be her sole complaint. There is the confusion of having another person and another dog in the house, having THREE beds to choose from at night (and all day) and not quite having figured out who is most likely to give her food. Like most kids, she's fairly adaptable, however, and her bottom line seems to be the more, the merrier. Plus, Andrea takes her on grand adventures and lets her outside way more often than I do.

John will be moving out next week, which promotes Boo to man of the house. I believe he's up to the challenge. For one thing, he is an outstanding communicator. Andrea has entire conversations with him that seem to make sense. And he lets me kiss him on the lips without pulling away whenever I need some lovin'. He's still alarmed by Grace's speed and volume, a prey-ish sort of behavior I swear she does intentionally to test him. So far she hasn't tortured him in any of the ways she bothers Brady; it's as if she sized him up and knew instinctively what buttons to push.

My life has been reduced to a series of piles that need addressing: piles of laundry, piles of mail, piles of receipts, piles of bills, piles of garbage. Wash clothes, fold clothes, open mail, record receipts, pay bills, sort recycling — REPEAT. I loathe all of it except the laundry; since before Grace was born, folding her clothes has always made me giggle.

I realized there is no reason to pay anyone to fix our new house. Yesterday I called the developer and told him I needed some things repaired, mentioning the new construction warrantee. Unaware of what a bitch I am and what a gnat he is in the grand scheme of my life, he tried to tell me (I swear I'm not making this up) that the warrantee was something offered by the realtor. He didn't specify which realtor, his or ours, but it became moot when I told him, no, state ordinance requires that new construction carry a one-year warrantee, and when could I expect him to stop by? He came by that afternoon, and at first I was surprised by his SNAG (sensitive new-age guy) appearance and demeanor — ponytail, sideburns, grunge clothes, totally chill attitude. (He was probably thrown by my black turtleneck and black knee-high boots over skinny Levi's.) I confused the shit out of him by going on about how much we love the house, praising the cabinetry, light fixtures, countertops, etc., then asking if he'd had an actual plumber do the plumbing, since I had to fix leaks in almost all of the sink drains when we moved in. I'd say, "Man, I love that bamboo ceiling fan." Then I'd show him how the master bedroom door hinges had pulled out of the door frame and remark, "I fixed it once, but I'm tired of fixing shit in a new house." He kept scribbling on his pad, and when I showed him how the skimcoat had separated from the foundation by the front porch, he said, "The house isn't gonna fall over or anything." He was probably trying to be funny, but not once had he expressed surprise or remorse, which totally tweaked me. I just stared at him and asked when I would be able to use my kitchen sink again. So the plumber was here promptly at nine this morning, and I've been promised the rest of the repairs will be taken care of ASAP. We'll see. I almost feel sorry for him having to deal with me right now. Almost.

Oct 13, 2008

A few steps forward, a few steps back.

Progress has been made. I got a great job that I start in two weeks; The Perfect Roommates (Andrea and Boo, left) finally succumbed to my charms and moved in, so Grace and I can stay put, temporarily; I found childcare for the days Grace isn't in school; and the Obama/Biden team remains focused and ahead in the polls (knock on wood). These are all good things for which I am grateful, BIG THINGS to check off my list (except for the presidential campaign, for which I can take no credit, although we have taught Grace to chant, "Gobama, Gobama"). But the little things threaten to derail me. My colon is apparently "unremarkable", but my ovarian ultrasound, not so much; the kitchen sink faucet sprung a leak that I cannot fix (I pride myself on being able to fix everything that doesn't involve electricity); there is mutiny afoot with the washer and dryer — the spin cycle on the washer shakes the house, and the dryer smells like burning rubber; and I got a fucking ticket for my car's expired tags, something for which Oregon does not send out a reminder. So RotoRooter will be here in the morning, I'll have another ultrasound, I'll exercise my warrantee on the washer and dryer and I'll grudgingly pay that stupid ticket. Annoyances, really.

The emotional rollercoaster is far more intractable. One moment Andrea and I are giddily deciding what to plant in the front yard to make it pretty and drought-tolerant, or what fruits and vegetables to plant in raised beds in the backyard so we don't starve when the country spirals into an apocalyptic depression, and the next minute I'm curled up in bed crying, wondering what the hell happened to my perfect little life. Grace goes from giggling, happy toddler to pissed off, screeching howler monkey in the blink of an eye, and my mood naturally follows. And I either desperately miss the partners-in-crime kind of relationship I used to share with John, or I can't wait for this to be over. I wonder what I could have done differently, how I could have made a success of the single most important thing I will do in my life, and if I'll have a second chance. For Grace's sake as much as my own, I hope the good will outweigh the bad, that I will stay positive instead of giving in to feelings of failure, that years from now I will look back on this and know that we did the right thing, and that Brady will stop eating all of Boo's food and stealing his bones.

To sleep, perchance to poop.

I still creep into Grace's bedroom at night to make sure she's breathing and to snap the occasional picture. Lately, however, the smell of poo greets me when I open the door, because Grace is so fully committed to NOT pooping, the only time she lets it go is when she's sleeping. (You can't help but admire that kind of willpower.) So I stand there trying to decide whether to let her marinate overnight, which is sure to cause a rash that can only worsen the situation, or to roust her from a sound sleep for a quick clean up. Thus far, I've chosen the latter, and OH MY GOD CAN THAT CHILD SCREAM. And kick — hard. I'm not too worried about her being bullied in school; I have a feeling my little girl will be able to take care of herself.

Not lovin' this rollercoaster I'm on.

I like to read all the horoscopes to Grace when we eat breakfast together. She requests certain people, and if I don't know their birthday, I pick a sign at random until we've hit upon all of them. Today mine (Gemini) read: Reflect upon your loyalties. Your interest shifts to home, family, career -- and making dynamic alterations that spell improvement. Yeah, that sounds about right.

I think the hardest part of divorce, if there aren't large fortunes or custody battles involved, is actually making the decision. But my emotions are still all over the place, and an insightful friend of mine pointed out that what I was experiencing was grief. And I was all, "Ohhhhhhh, right!" The loss of an eighteen-year relationship is a bitch. We'll still be in each other's lives because of Grace, but the intimacy and commitment that make a marriage are d-e-a-d. Somehow having a label for what I'm going through makes it easier for me. When we had Dutchie put to sleep, it took me weeks to figure out that all my intense emotions were wrapped up in guilt, and I couldn't work through the sadness and missing her until I let go of the guilt. Why did I feel guilty? Because being responsible for having her put her to sleep was the hardest part, even though it was the right decision. And that brings me full circle, I suppose.

Today I went downtown and had my engagement ring appraised and got a few quotes from jewelers. I had been perfectly pragmatic about selling it until I had to repeatedly hand it over to some stranger, knowing they probably see this situation all the time, BUT IT'S A FUCKING FIRST FOR ME. There was a time in my life when I loved this ring and all that it signified. I probably loved the ring a little too much.

Oct 7, 2008

Barking for Barack!

This is how Brady waits patiently while I prepare her dinner every evening (unlike Grace, who wants to see, smell and touch everything). Now imagine her in an "Obama/Biden" T-shirt. She agrees with Jeffrey Toobin (is he the one who said this?) that the format and moderating of tonight's presidential debate kind of sucked, but believes that Senator Obama was taller, better-looking and has a much more pleasing voice. She'd need to sniff his crotch to be sure he has the cajones to handle THE THREE A.M. CALL, but I'm pretty sure if he sat down on our couch, she would make herself comfortable on his lap. I know I would. Oh, and all that stuff he said about health care and the economy — she's totally down with his vision. I asked Grace how she thought the debate was going, and she said, "I don't LIKE ham!" and peeled it off her sandwich.

Something good.

All those people that interviewed me on Friday? Today they offered me the job. It's a little less $$$ than I'd like, but I keep reminding myself that the global economy is collapsing to the point that the Pope felt compelled to comment, BUT I GOT A JOB. I will no longer be a maverick, freelance database programmer; I'll be a legitimate software developer in an office so laid back, I was overdressed in khakis. So I apologize to the universe for my scatalogical remarks, and I'll go to bed tonight, and many nights to come, thankful that someone was crazy enough to hire me. And, of course, grateful to Ella for making me present my resume in person.

Oct 4, 2008

And the job goes to...

Ella! She was already the unofficial Boss of Me, but I hadn't called upon her to make any decisions until this week. To each question I posed, her response was exactly the opposite of what I would have done. But she was always right. I went ahead and delivered my resume in person to that software company, and while I haven't been offered the job, they admired my initiative and I've had two interviews and spoken with four people, including the president. What can I do for L. now that all the hoopla surrounding the funeral is over and her kids and husband are back at school and work? Bring her food. I'd already done that, and got the impression they had more than they could use, but apparently three kids eat a LOT. When I asked L. what I could do? "Bring food. I have to feed my kids." Brilliant. And although Ella has always been my go-to girl for fashion decisions, it's becoming clear I need her now more than ever.

In other news...

I no longer feel the universe is taking a dump on me (although it still seems to be farting in my general direction). My state of limbo is nothing compared to that of The Perfect Roommate (left), who visited last night and charmed the entire family. This week she almost died in a rip tide while kayaking on the Oregon coast. After more than an hour of struggling to stay afloat, it took three men to bring her to safety. A near-death experience totally trumps my shit, so once again I've been slapped upside the head with a healthy dose of perspective. People come into your life for a reason, I believe, and The Perfect Roommate and Boo will likely make a positive impact on many lives. She and Grace made some sort of cosmic connection, culminating in a good-night hug of the magnitude usually reserved for Gabba, Sandi and Justine. It was too sweet for words.

Every day is a new fashion opportunity.

Here's Grace sporting a look that delighted her so much, she kept running to the mirror to admire herself.

Brady presents an as yet unexplored world of canine fashion. Now that Grace insists on dressing herself, I have little choice but to redirect my creativity to doggie clothing and accessories. Brady will never say, "No, I don't LIKE that!" And she could use a little more attention, anyway. I think she feels neglected with all the chaos going on around her.