Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I'm going to try to get back into the habit of writing here.

I didn't write yesterday because I stayed home in the morning, waiting for a handyman service to send their guys over to do some repairs and then give me an estimate on some other repairs.

It's been a busy week. I bought a new refrigerator last week -- that was delivered on Saturday. It was almost a fiasco. I'd very carefully measured the space where the fridge has to fit, even allowing for the way the counter sticks out over the edge of the shelves, because I'm clever like that.

Except I'd forgotten to allow for the way the molding sticks out at the bottom of the wall. And the new fridge is... big. Like, really big. (I remember thinking, when I bought it, maybe I should get the one that's a couple of inches narrower. Then I'd be absolutely sure it would fit. But I thought, don't be stupid, of course it will fit.)

Well. The installation guy re-measured for me and said I could either trim the counter to be flush with the cabinet, or I could take the molding off the wall. Mind you, I could do those things -- the installation guys are not allowed (because of insurance stuff) to do anything except the installation itself. Well, I don't have a circular saw, and my hand isn't steady enough for me to want to take on the countertop, but taking molding off isn't that big of a deal -- you just get a screwdriver and a hammer and pry it off.

...Except Matt had borrowed the toolbox and the ratchet set so he could put furniture together for his apartment. So I didn't have a hammer and a screwdriver in the house.

Luckily, the installation guys had a couple of other things to do with the fridge before it could be finished anyway, and Matt lives close by. I called him and told him what was going on, and he came over with the tools immediately. (See that? Right there? Good reason to keep things cordial when you separate. You never know when you're going to need a favor in a hurry.)

And now? New fridge! Yay!

I'm still rearranging everything in it every couple of days while I figure out what needs to be where and how much space various things require, but it's pretty awesome.

I also bought a new kitchen faucet, because the one we had has been clogged for months with our nasty hard water crusties, which makes the water come out at like a 30-degree angle, and spray all over, and generally not act like a faucet should.

So when the plumbers showed up yesterday morning, I set them to work first fixing the toilet that wouldn't stop running (the entire contents of the tank were in horrible shape and needed to be replaced) and then installing the new faucet. So that's all fixed, yay!

The handyman's estimator guy (who, when I finally looked at his card, turned out to be the company owner) was awesome. I showed him the spot where the dining room floor is sagging (which translates to rotting wood) and then the spot in the living room where the carpet is discolored and the stain is spreading out (which tells me there's a leak somewhere under there). He got into the mechanical closet and looked at everything, and then he went down into the crawlspace under the house to check out the situation there. He didn't pull any punches, and he didn't try to give me an estimate on the spot, but he told me what he thought my best bets were as far as getting the work done -- namely, that he didn't see any damage under the house, so the most expensive work is avoided, but they'll have to pull up the floor to see the real extent of the damage, and they can't know how to fix the leak in the living room (if it's not really just the cat, which might still be the case) until they've gotten in there to see it. So his suggestion was to plan on redoing the floors (which is going to have to be done anyway along with the repair) and then once they've gotten the flooring up, they can give me an additional estimate for the repairs. I'm waiting on the estimate for doing the floors.

I can tell right now, though, that it's not going to be cheap. After the new computer in June and the car breakdown and the new fridge, and the vacation on the horizon in a couple of weeks... I may need some time to recover before I can pony up for floors and repairs. Or, despite wanting the dining room and living room to have matching floors, I may have to do them separately (maybe I can work out a deal for them to buy all the flooring at once, so it's all the same lot, and then do the installation in two parts). But at least I'll have a ballpark estimate so I know what I'm working toward.

I also showed him the three sets of expensive blinds we've had installed in the last five years which have already broken (all in different ways). The blinds in my bedroom had gotten busted when another handyman service put a new window in a year or so ago. The blinds themselves are fine, but they got knocked off their brackets and only dubiously replaced, so that any time I try to open the blinds, it's more likely than not to make the whole assembly fall down. The other service declined to return to the house to fix what they'd broken, thus ensuring I will never use them again. One of the brackets had gotten bent, it turned out -- he got a hammer and straightened it, and snapped the blinds back onto the bracket, and voila! fixed installation! He didn't even charge me for that.

Penny's blinds have been stuck at half-mast for over a year now, and the blinds-specific store that installed them had told us we have to take them down entirely and bring them in for repairs. And the pull cord on the living room blinds had snapped Saturday morning, and the broken end of the string is inside the mechanism, so I can't just tie it back together. Unfortunately, this guy said his company doesn't do blinds repairs, so I'm back to my Plan B of just putting up some thermal curtains to keep out the heat and light in the afternoons.

So, like I said, it's been a busy week. This week, I'm trying to get back into writing -- both for pay and the writing exercises my therapist has recommended -- and also planning for Penny's birthday party, which is in eleven days, and also planning for our vacation, which is in two weeks exactly!

(And now I'm late for a meeting and must skedaddle!)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sleepless Mornings

As has become the norm for me lately, I woke up on my own at 5:30 this morning, and my brain immediately began churning, so I couldn't go back to sleep.

Mostly, when this happens, I'm planning, figuring out how things will change with the separation. How to take care of the kids. How to handle family events and holidays. Repairs that the house needs that we've been procrastinating on that I should probably get a move on. Renovations that I'd like to do eventually.

My therapist would probably tell me that all this planning is a way of avoiding the deeper questions: the sense of betrayal. The anger. The mourning. The fears. That's probably true to some extent, but I think it's also a sense of pattern. All my life, I have done my most productive work first thing in the morning. It's when I'm the most logical, the most organized, the most focused. It's when I have the fewest distractions, either internal or external.

Yesterday, with its moment of emotional breakthrough, was a rare animal. Today, it was back to the usual planning.

But for a change, it was neither denial/suppression long-term planning nor fretful worrybrain "please don't let this fuck up the kids too badly" planning. Today, I woke up thinking about Penny's birthday party. (In two weeks? My baby is only two weeks away from being nine years old??? Holy passing time, Batman!)

She wants a Harry Potter birthday party. (She also wants a sleepover, and is extremely angry with me that I've told her she can't have a sleepover until the weekend before school starts, but she'll just have to deal with that.)

I've been googling things to do, and mostly what I've found is that a lot of other parents put a lot more time, money, and effort into their small children's birthday parties than I'm willing to invest. Seriously. Some of these people are quite insane. Creative, yes. But insane.

But as I laid in bed this morning, I thought of some much simpler, fun ideas that Penny will probably be perfectly happy with. Like buying some streamers in Hogwarts house colors and making a color curtain the kids will have to walk through to get to the front door, and putting a "Platform 9 3/4" sign on it. Like doing the same to Penny's room, only with just red and yellow, and calling it Gryffindor Tower. Like hanging the Golden Snitch toy I bought from the ceiling in the playroom, and calling that the Quidditch field. Red-and-yellow plates and cups, red-and-yellow decorations on the devil's food cake (she already picked that out).

Anyway, I'm pleased. If I can't sleep, at least I had an actual productive morning.

It's Friday, and there's a decent possibility that I'll get to skip out of work early. And I have a new fridge being delivered tomorrow (hopefully in the morning). And I have friends coming over tomorrow afternoon/evening to make tacos and quesadillas and margaritas. And I have a germ of an idea for a story I want to write (well, re-write) for a submission.

It's going to be a good weekend. I have decided.

(But first, coffee.)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Grey Light

My therapist said something to me yesterday -- actually something that someone had said to her twenty-five years ago, when she was a newly-divorced woman of 40 (and so in a situation similar to mine) -- that touched a nerve.

Except I wasn't entirely sure why it touched a nerve. As supportive statements go, it was pretty standard: "You are a smart, strong, capable woman. You make good choices, and you will continue to make good choices. Sometimes, you'll make a choice that turns out to be bad, and you'll learn from it and move on."

This morning, Alex woke me up around 4am to let me know he'd overflowed his pullup. Again. (Note to self: need to make sure he's not sneaking drinks after dinner, and also verify he's going to the potty before bed.) I got him changed and re-settled and back to bed, then went back to bed myself.

But -- as seems to be the usual lately, once I was up, I couldn't go back to sleep. I tried for a while, and then I just lay there, thinking about the music that's been resonating with me lately. "Off the Hook" by the Barenaked Ladies, in particular, has been stuck in my head for a good week. And I thought about the writing assignment the therapist had given me and wondered if maybe I could use all that resonant music to at least kick it off (getting started is one of the hardest parts, so having a theme or a starting point is useful). And I started sort of head-writing what I would say about "Off the Hook".

He could get away with murder one
and you would clean the smoking gun
With every crime
you bought each line

That's the thing that bothers me most, I thought, laying there in that dim, grey light of pre-dawn. Not what happened, but how I willingly blinded myself to it.

I feel so stupid, I thought. I feel so foolish.

It was a mistake to stay quiet for so long, I thought.

You will make mistakes, said another voice. It's okay. Everyone makes mistakes.

And then there were tears, and an epiphany: This is what I keep falling apart over, in different incarnations, over and over. Allowing myself to make mistakes. Admitting -- not that I screwed up, because I did, and I can own that -- but that it's not the end of the world, and that it's okay to learn from my mistakes and forgive myself for them.

I know now, what the first step of my path to me is: to forgive myself for my mistakes, for failing to acknowledge and act during our years of drawing apart, and for allowing myself to hear what I wanted to hear instead of what was actually being said. I'm not sure how, because those feel like huge failures, but at least I can see the way forward, even if it's covered in brambles and mist.

So the pain is a little fresher this morning, but it feels cleaner, like a newly cleansed wound. I expect it will need to be cleansed again, but at least it feels like healing.

Sorry for dumping all this maundering on you, but I've been awake since 4am.

Friday, July 20, 2012


So Alex came home from daycare yesterday and pretty much immediately upon crossing the house threshold developed a temperature of around 102, and started telling us about a kid in his preschool class who'd thrown up.

So he spent the evening on the couch, watching TV with an emergency bowl on his lap, and then went to bed early, with the bowl. He didn't throw up, but every time I went in to check on him, he still felt hot, which I found a little unusual -- there's typically a drop-off with fevers at night. He was still feverish this morning, though more chipper, and I called in to work and settled on the couch with him for a quality day of movies and Gatorade.

I was about 90% certain it was a simple virus, to be defeated by nothing more complicated than rest and fluids, but since it's Friday, and the doctor's office is closed weekends, I took him to the doctor just to check it out. Because nothing is more pitiful than a case of strep throat that waits until Saturday afternoon to make itself really known. (For the record, the doctor did a strep test and it came back negative, but he gave me a prescription for an antibiotic anyway to hold on to, in case something crops up before Monday.)

But what I really wanted to record was part of the conversation Alex and I had in the car on the way to the doctor. He was feeling fairly chipper, chatting happily about this and that and the other -- kiss-buggies (our kid-friendly version of punch-buggies) and a dog we passed, and other random things, and he said,

"Mom? I love you." (He does this moderately frequently and randomly. I think it's a placeholder statement for when he forgets what he'd been about to say. But far be it for me to discourage it!)

"I love you too, buddy."

"Mom? Why do you and Dad don't love each other like you used to?"

...Wow. Wow. It didn't seem sad at all, just curious and matter-of-fact, the same tone he'd used when he'd said, "Mom, is that lady taking that dog for a walk?" I fumbled my way through an answer, trying to be reassuring, but it caught me totally off guard. I'd sort of thought my way through what to say to Penny in response to these kinds of questions, but I honestly hadn't expected it from him. Until that moment, I wasn't entirely sure he'd absorbed much of the talk we'd had with the kids Wednesday nights about our separation.

No one's ever even thought about saying Alex wasn't smart, or that he didn't pay attention. But sometimes it still catches me off-guard.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Life Changes

I haven't been writing here much lately, largely because the thing consuming the bulk of my thought and attention for the last month or so has been a little too personal and private for a blog that's open to the world. I've made that mistake before, and I'm trying to avoid it, so rather than slip, I've been largely silent. But now I can tell you the outcome, which is that Matt and I have decided to separate.

What follows is more or less excerpted from an email I sent to family and some close friends last night:
While there was a precipitating crisis that caused us to make this decision, I'm not going to share the details here. The fact is that we have been allowing other things to take precedence over our relationship, and that, untended, it had long since withered, a sad truth in which we share blame. The specific event that opened our eyes to this realization was a symptom, not a cause.

Our number one concern right now, of course, is Penny's and Alex's well-being. We want them to understand that they are in no way responsible for this separation, that we both still love them very much, and that we will both continue to be their parents, whatever else may happen. To this end, we are sharing custody and keeping this separation cordial. We don't want to tell them that everything is fine, because it clearly is not, but to let them know that they are as loved and supported as ever, which is 100% true.

In response to what I imagine will be some FAQs:
1) I'm doing okay. I'm not skipping through a field of wildflowers, but I'm not sobbing myself to sleep every night or going through life in a shell-shocked daze, either. I'm eating, I'm enjoying things, I'm making plans, I'm talking to my counselor.

2) The kids are doing pretty well so far. They're obviously still processing (I'm pretty sure Alex doesn't entirely understand what we've told him yet), but we took them for a quick tour of Matt's new apartment, and they seem pretty excited by the possibility of additional space to store their stuff! I know there are harder times ahead for them as reality sets in, but I've been assured by multiple sources that they will largely follow my lead and Matt's as we all adjust to this change, and so Matt and I are making every effort to give them positive examples to follow, and we're encouraging Penny to talk to us and to others about her feelings.
So there's that. I really am doing okay. When I was talking to KT on the phone last night, she said, "You sound angry and sad and a little scared, but not broken-hearted," and that's actually a pretty fair summation of things. I'm trying to focus on the silver linings and trust that sooner or later, the clouds will dissipate.

I've already heard from so many friends who have been nothing but supportive that I can only look at one message at a time or I'm in danger of bursting into tears. I want to thank you all for the offers of assistance and your words of sympathy and your thoughts and prayers. We're going to get through this and come out on the other side the stronger for it.

Life is full of changes. Maybe this will (eventually) be one of the good ones.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Still Not Dead

Nearly two weeks since I touched base.

Work insanity continues. (I've taken to calling it The Proposal That Will Not Die, since its due-date has been extended several times, each time at the last minute, just when I thought we were finally going to be done with the damn thing.)

Personal stuff continues. That will get at least a brief explanation relatively soon. I'm sorry to be still keeping you all in the dark.

And, y'know. The laziness continues. That, too.

But I'm not dead! By way of proof, I offer pictures!

Item the first: Penny with her new glasses. She picked them out herself, and I must say, they suit her perfectly.

And second, a picture that Alex brought home from daycare yesterday:

In case you don't know how to parse Four-Year-Old: it reads "HELP" (because Alex is very determined to get all the correct letters, but totally unconcerned about whether they're in any kind of order) and the orange mark is a fire, and the blue lines are water putting the fire out. I'm not sure what the black marks are supposed to be.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sparks Fly

I know, it's been forever last Tuesday since I wrote here. I'm sorry about that.

Part of it is insanity at work eating up lots of both work time and (supposedly) personal time.

Some of it has been dealing with personal things that have absolutely no place in a public forum. (Though I will say thank you to those of you who have offered support, even without knowing what's going on. I'm sorry to be keeping you all in the dark.)

And some of it (let us be honest) is sheer, unadulterated laziness. (Ah, there's the Liz you all know and love.)

This is not a return to the regular schedule (work insanity continues into next week, at minimum), but I'm kind of stuck waiting for someone this morning, so I figured I'd at least touch base and let you all know I'm not dead yet.

I hope everyone had a good 4th of July! Do I even have any non-American readers? If so, I hope you all had a nice Wednesday, but we-all had us a national holiday yesterday. A holiday traditionally celebrated by eating grilled, potentially carcinogenic meat, tons of unhealthy food, and then drinking alcohol while watching large, loud explosions. I think the idea is to recreate the general sensory experience of the Revolutionary War, when we... Okay, I was going to fill that in with an patently incorrect history summary filled with modern references (e.g., bombs created by cheap Chinese fireworks factories) and in my head, it's hysterically funny, but I'm so reliably bad at history that I worried some of you might think I was actually that ignorant. And also, I'm so freaking exhausted this morning that I can't figure out how to put the words together.

And why am I so freaking exhausted this morning? Because yesterday, to celebrate Independence Day, we all drove up to Jenn and Brian's to eat steaks the size of my head (I know I'm prone to hyperbole, but I'm not even joking about that) and drink beer and hard cider and watch Brian and his buddy Travis set off a gajillion fireworks. (Okay, that bit was hyperbolic. But only a little. The man was using a propane blowtorch to light fuses!) They were loud and fun and pretty, everything a fireworks display should be.

Also, the kids got to blow through a stack of sparklers. I mean a stack. 'Cause when Brian went to buy fireworks, everything was buy-one-get-one, and the sparklers were cheapest in packs of twenty. That's not twenty sparklers, mind you. That's twenty boxes of sparklers. So we had around forty boxes of sparklers. They didn't go through all of them, thank goodness, but they still went through a lot.

Anyway, fireworks and sparklers until well past 10pm, and then we had an hour and a half drive home, so I didn't get to bed until around midnight. And that's why I'm so freaking exhausted this morning.

There will be pictures on Flickr, eventually, but all I had time for this morning was downloading a few of my favorites so I could post them here.