Tuesday, August 30, 2011

There was Always More to It

Simon is angry at me - I mean, even more than usual. 

One trigger seems to be Fun.  Namely why I'm getting it and he's not.
[I think, but don't say, "For fuck's sake, Si:  if you want to go camping, go camping!"] 

He voiced his disagreement with my taking the kids out of school for two days next week and taking them canoeing.  What did I think I was doing, planning a trip in September?  Why couldn't I have planned it for summer, when the kids had vacation? 

[Uh, because they have had a soccer tournament nearly every single weekend?] 

Because southern Utah in the depths of summer is HOT!!  That's why!

He pointed out that, since I have left him, I seem to have plenty of time to bug off and enjoy myself.  Then it was time for the tired assertion that I never wanted to take time off work to do anything when we were still together.  We used to have this fight all the time: "Kate, you won't want to go on this trip because you won't want to take the time off work." 
"Says who!?  Why do you always say that?  It's you who can't find time to do things from October through May because of the ski season  When do you want to go?" 
"Nope.  You won't leave your job."
"Yes, I will!"
"No, you won't." 

I know the origin of this ridiculous argument:  there were busy years during graduate school in the mid-90s when I would go on trips with him, but feel fussed about the work awaiting me when I got home  And there was one year- the 95-96 school year, when it was hard to dislodge me.  It was my last year of graduate school; and I was teaching a writing class at the university; and I was Interim Director of Adult Education at Guadalupe School.  Why is it that I am now labeled ever after as the girl who doesn't want to go anywhere?  The therapist told me that this was an example of one partner growing and changing, while the other partner remains focused on a fixed point in the past.  Whatever.  It's a pain.

And he's mad that I'm not getting my stuff in the basement boxed up fast enough.  He has threatened to put it all in the bulk trash.  Lord knows, I'd like to get it done, but it complicates things when he insists that he has to be home before I can enter the house.

"Look, if you want me to get the job done, why won't you let me work on it regardless if whether you're around? I can come in with the kids."

"No way.  You may not enter my house if I'm not there."

"What do you think I'm going to do?  What are you afraid I'll steal?"

"I don't trust you."

"What do you mean by that?  That you think I'm going to snoop in your stuff?  Rob you?  What?"

"I just don't trust you.  'Cuz you're a liar - it's as simple as that." 

"What did I lie to you about?"

"You told me that you were divorcing me for a variety of reasons that simply aren't true.  Plain and simple.  You left me for Chuck.  You saw what you wanted and just took it, with no consideration for anyone else."

"Si you know there were other problems.  We had had problems for years!"

"They weren't worth divorcing over.  They were the same problems every married couple has.  We were happy enough."

[YOU were happy enough.]

"You are forgetting.   "What about all the times when I asked you if we could PLEASE just get some-"

"No.  Our problems weren't serious.  This is all about your selfishness.  I'm hanging up now - this conversation is no longer productive."


But he was gone.

So I was feeling low in my mind this morning. BUT!  I have half an hour between dropping Sara at her school and dropping Nate at his.  I figured, what a perfect time to work on boxing my stuff!  Si is generally home just then, so I could go to the house for thirty minutes every day.  Packing up my remaining stuff would be a great project for that time frame.  Nate and I saw Simon's truck in the drive, so I knocked.  No answer.  Huh.  I knocked again.  Finally, Si opened up.  He was still in his boxers.  I had no idea he slept so late, now!

I explained my thoughts on the half-hour-to-kill, and after initially refusing to let me in, he eventually agreed to let me work in the basement.

I didn't have much time, but I was able to box some things.  I encountered the cardboard carton in which I keep all of my diaries.  As always, I grabbed one and flipped it open randomly, to see which incarnation of myself would appear.  Today, it was my "college Sophomore" self: reading Dante and sweating over my statistics class.  I snorted with amusement, then started guiltily.  What if Simon came in here and found me reading when I should be boxing?  I was putting the diary back in the box when something caught my eye:  loose sheets of paper in there.  I pulled them out and found myself holding a letter I had written to Simon in April of 1992, three months before we were married, but had never sent.  I was living in Poland at the time - the letter was closely written on cheap, soft paper.  It was very long and very sad, expressing my dismay at his last letter, which had been hurtful to me.  I complained of the mixed messages he was giving me about his love for me and about our future together.  I ever mailed it, which means that the moment passed, and I decided to look away from the things he had said to me. 

There was always a lot more to it. My 44 year-old self looks back at my 24 year-old self and thinks, "What would your life be like now, if you had sent this letter?"

I tucked it away and opened the next box, which contained the contents of my night stand and the top of my dresser at the time I moved out.  Some things I packed in a "when I have my own home again" box.  Odd earrings?  A small pile of my children's baby teeth? A seashell whose provenance I don't remember any more?  Out.  One earring with a gorgeous collection of fiery opals, I put in my "sell it" box, along with my wedding ring.  A few things came with me to the apartment.  There is a carved wooden box containing a bunch of loose change.  I used to horde small coins in case the tooth faerie needed to make a sudden appearance.  Also a little, bittie china baby that I think will be a fun addition to my wind chime I am making from junk.  Same with the beads. (I knew they were there somewhere!)  Ones from shell, ones from wood, African ones.  I found an edition of Three Cups of Tea, adjusted for younger readers.  My Running 101 book.  A whale sicker from Depoe Bay, Oregon; a good photo I took of pictographs a couple of years ago and have yet to frame.    My half-marathon training schedule.

There are two index cards on which I listed things that are important to me in considering a new relationship.    One was my master list of what I think everyone should expect from a relationship - a reminder to me not to accept a relationship that does not offer mutual... "Loyalty, Protection, Affection, Division of Labor,  Caregiving, Supportiveness, Companionship, Freedom, Honesty, Respect."

I honestly never expected to have a relationship with Chuck after I moved out.  I think that hovered in the territory of "wishful thinking".  I had spent a lot of time considering the world of dating, as evidenced by my many jottings on the subject.  Another list seems to be about what couples need to be in accord about.
Money, parenting, sex, relationships with family and friends, religion, household responsibilities, leisure time, careers and jobs.

As I went back upstairs after boxing for 30 minutes, I smelled toast and fresh ironing.  I called into the kitchen to thank Si for letting me use this time, and to ask him if I could come at the same time tomorrow.

No.  Did I have any idea how rude I was?  Showing up?  Just knocking at the door like that?  And expecting to be let in?  Get out, and don't try this again.  Go!  Leave!  Get out! 

Si was furious.  I felt scared for a moment.  He made shooing motions with his hands and I left.  The door slammed behind me.  i dunno.  Seemed like a "win-win" to me...

So my communion with my former selves illustrates a few points.  One is that the Kate of 20 years ago was always willing to smooth stuff over, to ignore the red flags in hopes they would go away, to make it work.  To write the letter, but never mail it.

The Kate of five months ago was finally aware of the wrongness of that and decided to move on.  That old letter took a while to be signed, sealed and delivered; but it is clear.  There was always more to it.

The Kate of five months ago was also more than prepared to live alone.  To find a new partner... or not.  I loved Chuck, but he was not the cause of this.  I was the cause of this, because it was about time to reclaim and rebuild the person I want to be.

The Kate of this moment is still a bit screwed up, but I think all the important bits are there and can be reassembled.  And Chuck is still here: with his many gifts; his intriguing and endearing flaws; his big heart.

 Like I told him one evening last week, when I arrived home to find supper and a frosty gin and tonic waiting for me:
"I'm a lucky girl."
"No, I'm the lucky one."
"No, I think it's me."
"Uh-uh.  It's me."
"Sorry, but you're wrong.  I am the lucky one."
"Nope.  Me."
No, me!"
"NO, me!"

It's my blog, so I get the last word.  I'm the lucky one.  Long may it last.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

One of My Many Failings

I haven't been doing well with my writing. One of the many things I seem to be struggling to transition into a new life.  The list is long, but it is after midnight.  Tomorrow.

Back To School Shopping

I introduced Sara to the joys of thrift shopping today.  My reasons for this are two:  I'm poorer than I was; and thrifting is fun.  I do not like shopping much, but thrifting is more like treasure-hunting.  Nowhere else will you find so many ugly teapots all in one place.

We spent $38.60 and got most of what she wants for school.

Nate is not sold, though.  As we made our way toward the racks of girls' jeans, and he said, "These are old clothes, Sara." 
"I know." 
"Those jeans were already worn by another person.  Maybe even 'commando'."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

You Know What They Say About Sex...

If you aren't feeling a lot of desire, but you are willing to get naked and give it a go, you will generally end up having a good time and getting your groove back.

No, I'm NOT having a problem in this area: it's writing.  So much happening in my life, and the Muse NEVER kicks my ass these days! 

Chuck suggested this evening that I just try  treating my blog like a ..well, 'blog.  Logging the shit that makes up my day until the Muse returns from wherever the hell she went. Vegas?  Burley?

Chuck often makes suggestions that I like - which is one reason I love him. 


OK.  (Sigh) Kate's Day, narrated without artistry, but with attention to detail. 

I wake up at 6:15, 6:30, 6:45, 7:00, 7:15, 7:30 and 7:45.  Each time I grow gradually more conscious until I am able to prop myself up in bed and contemplate my day.

Before waking the kids, I take a minute to write some words of encouragement in a card for Sara to open at Girl Scout Camp this week. I remind her to have lots of fun with her regular buddies, but to try to make at least one new friend.

8:00:  I wake up the kids.  Breakfast, newspaper, tea.  Does Sara have bug repellant?  Is there a cup in her mess-kit? 

9:20.  Time to get going.  The Scouts need to arrive at a certain time for check-in.  I drop Nate off at Simon's house, so he can spend the day with his nana and granddad.  I go over to the home of Sara's friend J. J. and toss her stuff in the truck, admiring her fuzzy, pink animal print suitcase...  Gas up the truck. 

To get to Camp Cloud Rim, I need to drive all the way up Big Cottonwood Canyon, go over Guardsman's Pass and down the other side.  I used to live up there years ago - hiking distance from Camp Cloud Rim.  I know the Big Cottonwood Canyon road very, very well.  Know where to look for moose, where the passing lanes are...  Coming up here makes me homesick. Sara points things out to her friend as we drive along:  here's where our mailbox used to be!  As I drive up toward Guardsman's Pass, I see that we are ahead of schedule, so I stop at the parking area for our cabin and ask Sara if she remembers where to go to find it.

Still there, back in the woods where we left it.  The part of the house facing the photo is the house that we bought.  The "L" addition, we put on after Sara was born.  Eleven years I loved that house.  It's pretty much unchanged, except that bushes and willows and stuff that used to make up the front "yard" are gone, replaced by a big fire pit, chairs, picnic table, etc.. 

Sara and I sigh and point a few things out to J. J. , then slouch back to the truck.

Up and over the pass, where the blacktop changes to very potholey and washboardy dirt.  I rattle along to Camp Cloudrim.  I arrive at the gate, check in, and am given a slip with further instructions.  Just to give you a taste:

1.  Sign in at the yellow gate with Rasta and Foxy.
2.  Follow the road up to the Cloud Rim gate, where you'll sign in with Kanga.  She will send you to the parking lot when there is room.
3.  Sharkbait will greet you at the parking lot. [LOVE that moniker!  If I were a camp counselor, I would totally want to be called Sharkbait!!]
4.  Lucky, Zazoo and Piper will help you back into a parking spot.  [What if one of them is missing?  Can I still back in?]
5.  Walk down the stairs.
6.  Complete Health Check [AKA Cootie Check] with Lily, Cookie, Squen, Kat and Moosetracks.


Strikes me as a bit...uh... micromanaged?  Or maybe that's just me?  There were 16 points on the instruction slip. 

It takes a long time to get the girls checked in, mostly because cars have to wait outside the camp for other cars to exit, freeing up parking spaces.  I have done this before and am used to it. I amuse myself by gazing at wildflowers, annihilating mosquitoes and watching the Subaru eight cars ahead of me.  I know that Linda C. is in that car with her daughter J. C..  She didn't want me to bring J. C. up to camp - wanted to bring her personally, so she could check things over.  Make sure she can help J. C. "get settled in".  Linda is unbelievably a bit  neurotic.  I know she will be dying a thousand deaths at the notion of waiting in line.  I send my two girls walking up the line of cars to say "Hi".  They come back a few minutes later.  "J. C.'s mom is freaking out, as usual,"  Sara says.  I snort.

I do not see the girls "settled in".  They are both rareing to go.  I drop off "mail" for Sara to receive during the week, kiss Sara, hug J. J. and leave them to the counselors.  Don't let the door hit you on the butt, Mom...

When I reach Salt Lake again, I call Si to let him know that Sara is at camp and excited about her week.  I try to be pleasant, but it's hard.  Si generally just says, "Yes" at the beginning of our conversations, says nothing during, and hangs up without saying good-bye.  As he informed me only yesterday that he thinks I am an "asshole",  this doesn't surprise me.

I arrive at Guadalupe at about 12:30.  There is a huge homemade burrito waiting there for me, courtesy of Chuck, who dropped it off at reception.  I eat with gusto - it is super-delicious.

Phones.  Incoming messages, mostly from tutors and students.  I call my Internet provider to complain about my bill.  The proverbial brick wall.  I talk to a colleague from Job Corps about some Ethiopian refugees she would like to send us.

E-mail.  I proceed methodically through the in-box.  I write some copy for our new website.  I call our floor manager because I notice that none of the applications for our new tutors are anywhere to be found.  I leave a voice mail that makes it clear that I need to know where those applications are ASAP.  I do some volunteer recruitment via e-mail.  I receive the following texts from Chuck, who was in a motorcycle accident over the weekend.  He is doing well, but got a bit battered and bloodied.  Unfortunately, when you are in an accident and are transported by ambulance; even when it is not your fault; even if you are too badly hurt to do anything about it; your vehicle will be taken to an impound lot, where it will wait until you feel well enough to retrieve it.

$170 tow  $125 storage  $30 fuel surcharge  $30 admin fee

Seeing their smiling faces taking my "cash only":  Priceless.

I mail out hand-written thank you cards to tutors who have stopped volunteering and to tutors who have anniversaries.  Sign a letter to thank a donor who has given money to Adult Education.

Take a phone call that goes a little like this:

A:  Hey, you remember me?  My name Maria Chavez. I student in past.  Wanna come back go school.  When I come?
B:  Uh.... You were a student in the past?
A:  You no remember me?
B:  Hang on just a moment.

I go to my archive drawer and open it.  Let's see, how many Maria Chavez's do we have here?  I trot back to the phone.

B:  OK, are you the Maria Chavez born in 1968?  Or 1957?  Or the one born in 1973...?
A:  Whew, she is able to tell me which one she is.  I look in the record and note that the last time we saw her face was two years ago.  I think privately, "WTF!?!  Of COURSE I don't remember you!"  I say, "Ah!  NOW I remember!"

I listen to Willie Nelson's "Redheaded Stranger" album while I archive all of my spreadsheets from the previous school year and get new ones ready.

5:00.  Leave Guadalupe and head to Simon's house to pick up Nathan.  We go back to my place and I do my usual Monday routine:  clean out the fridge, disposing of anything that looks like a science experiment; decide what I want to cook this coming week; make a shopping list.

Nate and I go to Maceys and do our shopping.  Sometimes, I miss my old supermarket.  The people who worked there knew me; I got a discount for using canvas bags; they carry stuff that is exotic at Smith's, like polenta.  Or soy crumbles.

Home we go.  Quick round of cheese and chicken quesadillas.  Nate wants a cup of tea.  I brew some.

Off to the apartment complex pool.  It's kind of cold.  I only go in for a few minutes, then I hit the hot tub. Nate joins me there after a bit and we talk about a lot of things:  the upcoming school year; his soccer team; problems he's having with his best friend; his feelings about the divorce, his visiting grandparents, his dad.  We watch the sunset fade and the moon come out.  I decide to embarrass him by howling at it.  He suggests that perhaps we should return to the apartment.

9:00: Jammies, teeth.  We read a chapter from his book, "The Prophet of Yonwood".  Lights out at 9:30.  He has pretty much stopped wetting the bed.  I decide he can sleep without the waterproof sheet.  Hope I made the right decision.  Night night.  Dishes.  Outfit for tomorrow.  Long conversation with Chuck.  We do this, even though we see each other a lot. 

And now, on to...
1.  Catch up with household accounting;
2.  Get all the papers ready for Sara's middle school registration tomorrow morning.  I get to do that with Si.  Oh, joy.
3.  Take a peek at Facebook.
4.  Look at the resumes I have gathered for the new job opening on the Adult Education staff and e-mail the candidates that I would like to interview

What time is it?  1:15 AM.  Shit.

The new tenants directly below me are having a party.  They are making a lot of noise and their cigarette smoke is drifting in my bedroom window.  This doesn't bother me much.  After all, I will now be totally justified in throwing the party I have been mulling over in my mind, which will be a hundred time crazier than theirs.  Suck it up, young'uns!  And I don't mind the noise of conversation.  College beat that out of me.  And I don't mind secondhand smoke.  My Polish faculty room beat THAT out of me.  Good night.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Puberty is not a Spectator Sport

The kids and I were eating supper together tonight and Sara told me that she had stopped getting a rash every time she tried to wear deodorant. And bras no longer make her feel short of breath (yes, she is a delicate flower).  "Yay, me!  I get to participate in puberty!"  Nate did not want to be left out: "I can't wait!  I can't wait!"  "For puberty?", I ask, a bit sceptical.  "I'm gonna talk in a big, low, hollow voice, LIKE THIS.  And I'm gonna have pu-ber-ty hair."

We were laughing our butts off at this point, and I realized that this was the first time I had really, truly laughed with the kids since Si and I split up.