The World's Shortest Marriage

I was married for about five minutes to a guy disguised as the Man of my Dreams. However, Dear Husband had a Secret Life. Watch in horror as I deal with the fallout of the World's Shortest Marriage.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

One Year Later

It's the one-year anniversary of the end of my marriage to Dear Husband.

The tiny rational part of my brain tells me I should be waaay over this and not thinking about it any more, but in some weird way I just recently started grieving the World's Shortest Marriage. The hyperprotective part of my brain that safeguards my heart (it's much larger than the rational part) must have been shielding me until I was ready to deal. That, and I've always been kinda slow.

During the past month or so, I've actually started to feel semi-normal for the first time in a year, but the calendar seems to have dealt me a temporary setback.

(A belated birthday greeting from DH really didn't help - even though I've made it perfectly clear to him that I don't want to hear from him ever again, and that he doesn't even come close to meeting my fairly loose criteria for friendship, he persists. He's even slower than I am.)

The past couple of weeks have been really hard. I've been remembering the same two-week period last year - one of the most miserable couple of weeks in my life. It started a couple of days before the Fourth of July, when DH apparently decided that our marriage was over, but declined to share that news with me. We slogged through the relentless heat of Independence Day and my birthday, with DH more distant than ever and me asking ineffectively what was wrong.

The whole thing resolved itself a year ago today, when I found out that DH was spending all of his physical and emotional currency on tranny whores and other miscellaneous extramarital hobbies.

A year later, I'm still struggling to rebuild my life while DH is busy running around behind his Next Victim's back. I'm starting to think NV is a little soft in the head - she's been more than adequately warned about DH, but she seems to be going the distance.

What have I learned in the past year? That I'm really, really lucky to have DH out of my life, but I knew that in the first three seconds after I sent him packing. That anonymous sex with strangers is only a temporary anesthetic, but I sorta knew that too. That I can probably survive pretty much anything, but my childhood already taught me that.

What I'm still trying to learn: To tread cautiously but optimistically, to trust people in spite of what's happened in the past, to be careful with the hearts of others, to take loving care of myself no matter what happens. Wish me luck - I'm hoping for a banner year.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Kindness is Not Random

This afternoon I witnessed something so simple and good that it almost didn't register.

I was waiting in line at a fast-food drive-through and saw a man going through the trash on the restaurant's patio looking through the discarded bags. Just as I realized what the man was doing, a well-dressed woman opened the door and asked the man if he was hungry.

'Would you like something to eat?' she asked. The man nodded mutely.

I've bought many a meal for panhandlers who have asked me for money for food. I started doing this almost 20 years ago after my father told that no one had EVER taken him up on that offer. I think I just wanted to point out that some people who say they want money for food really are hungry. Plus it just pisses me off that so many people go without food in the richest country in the world.

When I pulled up to the restaurant's plate-glass window I caught the woman's eye and mouthed a thank you. She smiled and waved, probably without having any idea what I was saying. But I just wanted her to know how much I appreciated her effort to salvage what she could of that man's dignity. We should all be so kind.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Peace at Last

A strange feeling has overtaken me in the past day or so.

It feels like serenity.

It's such an unfamiliar feeling that I damn near didn't recognize it. But there it was - an undeniable feeling of happiness and gratitude, the certainty that everything is going to be okay no matter what.

This strange feeling even survived a very trying day today. Things that would normally drive me batshit just couldn't touch me.

Tonight, as I was walking down Sunset Boulevard with the dogs, listening to the Beatles on my headphones in the gathering dusk and watching a jetstream scratch across the pink western sky, an overpowering feeling of joy settled over me.

I don't know how long it will last. I'm just happy it's here.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Tao of Trust

I've been reading the Tao Te Ching a lot lately, and it has a lot to say about trust. 'Who does not trust enough will not be trusted.' 'If you don't trust people, you make them untrustworthy.'

I have a hard time trusting people. Not my handful of close friends - I trust them with my life. But I seem to enter a lot of other relationships with the expectation of being let down, which is what invariably happens.

I'm guessing that's the kind of outcome predicted by the Tao, but I'm not sure those people would be any more trustworthy had I trusted them.

I trusted Dear Husband even though he raised fairly regular red warning flags. But I often wonder if deep down I knew the truth about him but chose to be blinded by love.

The truth is that underneath my jaded hipshot shell, I'm like an abused puppy who wags my tail at everyone regardless of how I've been treated in the past. My latest untrustworthy, a middling-intuitive man who sees himself as the spiritual equivalent of John the Baptist, told me I'm like a little girl who walks up to everyone with my heart in my hands and begs them not to hurt me.

This unflattering portrait stung all the more deeply because I know how true it is.

Which is clearly why I developed my faux-tough outer shell to begin with - in a weak attempt to protect my soft innards. I'm a little ashamed of how obvious this has been to everyone but me. And how ineffective - I can't even count the number of near-mortal wounds my tender insides have weathered.

So I guess I need to work on softening my outside and toughening my insides. But dismantling a decades-old defense mechanism is a big job. I'm not even sure where to start.

And as much as I try to hide that hopeful little girl inside of me, I hope I never lose her.

I see her in my favorite passage from the Tao about trust:

'He trusts those who are trustworthy;
He also trusts those who are not trustworthy;
For love is trust'

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mail Call

Today's mail brought some interesting correspondence for Dear Husband.

DH apparently stiffed Verizon for more than $500 in phone service. My heart stopped for a moment when I saw the collection notice - I wondered whether this debt was accrued during the World's Shortest Marriage, and therefore my responsibility. It wouldn't surprise me at all to know that DH had a secret phone number to go along with his secret life and secret myspace page.

But no. A quick phone call to the world's friendliest collection agent revealed that DH screwed the phone company during the time he was hiding out in the desert licking his wounds after First Wife booted his ass out.

After the collection agent and I shared a few chuckles about what a loser DH is, I offered her his parent's address and his cell phone number. Maybe they can also share a few laughs.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Sunflowers are Taking Over the Asylum

My sunflowers are taller than I am.

My whole garden thrived unbelievably while I was in Kauai. When I returned, I had a bumper crop of green tomatoes and peppers that are just waiting for the sun to ripen them. The corn was trying to keep up with the sunflowers. The basil had multiplied. And the sweetpeas, which the garden curmudgeon told me would never grow at this time of year, had exploded with pods.

My garden neighbor and good friend M cared for my plot as lovingly as I do while I was away, and it showed. Except for a few problems with the sweetpeas trying to strangle the pepper plants while his back was turned, he reported no problems.

I did get one big surprise - the sunflowers I planted are a brooding brownish-orange, not yellow. I simply must start looking at the seed packages! But I think I like them even better for being different.

Yesterday I gathered the first bounty from the garden - fresh basil, sweetpeas, the first open sunflower, a basketful of lavender and rosemary branches, and a single yellow rose snitched from a communal rosebush. My apartment is filled with flowers that cost me nothing but time well-spent.

I joined the community garden almost without thinking in early March when I was grieving the departure of my friend K. At the time, I had no idea how centering, how healing, how amazing it would be. I feel grounded in my little 10-foot plot of land in a way I could never imagine.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Kauai was phenomenal.

The day after I arrived, B and I packed up her truck and set out for Polihale, a remote seven-mile stretch of sand on Kauai's west coast that's miles from the end of the paved highway and accessible only by a potholed dirt road.

We arrived just before sunset and rushed to set up our camp on a rise overlooking the beach so we could watch the show. We sat in our chairs under the pink-painted sky and watched Venus ascend, and I started to really breathe for the first time in what felt like a year.

There were other people at Polihale, but they all left by about 10 pm, and B and I were alone under the stars. Neither of our lanterns worked, which turned out to be a happy accident - we were in the midst of the blackest darkness I've ever seen.

In the morning, B went surfing while I went swimming, and then we made coffee and scrambled eggs without ever getting out of our chairs.

The rest of the trip was just as fabulous. Although I last visited Kauai with Dear Husband, he wasn't on my mind. We hiked and swam and did nothing deliberately and blissfully, and I felt myself healing - at last - from the events of the past year.

F and P came over from Maui for the weekend, and we climbed the Sleeping Giant on a hot Saturday afternoon. As I stood on the giant's forehead looking at the sweeping panoramic views of the island, I felt the fear that's been dwelling inside me finally begin the transformation into faith.

I think I'm going to live after all.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I Need to Get Away

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Baby is Born

Congratulate me - I'm the proud parent of a baby tomato.

I literally shrieked with happiness when I saw the tiny green baby, my first, hidden between the leaves of my bushy tomato plants.

I know, you don't have to be the jolly green giant to grow tomatoes. Anyone can do it. I've seen them grow on their own next to trash cans.

But this is my first-ever home-grown produce. And although planting a garden is by definition an act of faith, I didn't really believe that anything would grow there. And once the plants began to grow, I didn't believe they would bear any fruit.

In other words, I'm a little short on faith these days.

But here it is - my first tomato. Sometimes even when I have no faith, I get surprised - by nature, by spring, by the eternal power of renewal.

I can't wait until his brother Basil grows up - I'm going to cradle them in my arms, nestle them in my basket, and scramble them with some eggs. Yum.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


One of my friends hit it right on the head the other day.

'Still feeling lost, sweetie?' he asked.

I do feel as if I've lost my way. More accurately, I'm having a hard time remembering what the way even looks like.

Actually, I'm having a hard time figuring out whether I'm depressed, wallowing in self-pity, or just experiencing some delayed grieving. I did sort of bypass mourning the end of my marriage to Dear Husband, although I tried hard to experience the emotions as they came my way.

It's time to find a new way, and I don't even know where to start. I'm stuck in a rut so deep that I can't even see the sky.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Seven Years of Bad Luck

I just took a peek at my credit report, and I am not pleased.

Although the collection agency that was pursuing Dear Husband's delinquent hospital bill promised to remove the ding from my credit report once the bill was paid off, that was apparently a lie they told just to get me off the phone - a strategy they may have learned from DH.

When I spoke to them today, they told me I should have paid the bill myself in January if I wanted to avoid a negative credit report. I'm especially furious because three months ago I was telling myself the same thing, but decided not to out of spite. And because I didn't have the money. And because I wasn't going to let him get off the hook that easily.

So now DH's visit to the emergency room is going to haunt my credit report until 2013. I'm learning this on the same day that I'm writing a check for a tax bill that almost made my eyes roll permanently back into my head. Apparently having your taxes withheld as married all year and then filing as single isn't the best tax strategy.

All of this comes as I was contemplating the most unexpected development ever - my friend B offered to look into the possibility forming a partnership to buy a duplex or triplex here in LA.

I'm not going to give up, but today my financial outlook and the possibility of homeownership are both looking pretty grim. Whenever I think that DH has taken everything from me that there is to take, another dream sprouts wings and flies away. Thanks, buddy. Thanks for everything.

Friday, March 30, 2007


After putting it off for weeks, I finally got my hair cut yesterday.

They guy who does my hair isn't very talkative, especially for a hairstylist. I let him work his magic in silence. About halfway through the haircut, though, he asked me how I was doing and inquired about a situation we'd discussed the last time I was there.

I told him it was still the same. 'You know when something really isn't working but you keep doing it because you hope that someday it will?' I asked

'Oh, honey, I stopped running through red lights years ago,' he clucked, and went back to trimming my hair.

Great, my hairstylist knows more about living life than I do.

Lately it seems like everyone does. I'm wallowing in that kind of perpetual low-grade funk that makes everyone else's life seem fantastic by comparison.

Deep down, I know that my life is amazingly blessed, but it just doesn't feel that way right now. I feel flat and tired and like nothing good is going to happen to me ever again. I kind of feel like I'm stuck in rush-hour traffic, frustrated and angry about the delay even though I have nothing to go home to.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Shut up Already

Dear Husband is apparently having some car trouble.

I know this because he emailed me yesterday to complain that I cancelled his Auto Club membership.

DH doesn't seem to know the meaning of the word goodbye. That's what I said to him in my last email explaining why he can't have his stuff back.

A couple of days later, I received a plaintive email that said, 'Is that goodbye forever?'

Silence speaks volumes. Unless you're not listening.

I'm not sure why he thinks I'm still responsible for meeting his emergency roadside assistance needs, or why he expects me to care that he's upset. Or why he thinks he's entitled to use up all four of my Auto Club tows on his junky car.

Or why he thinks he has any right to bitch about anything, especially something as minor as a $49 Auto Club membership. I just found out that my FICO score dropped almost 100 points because DH diddled around so long with paying that hospital bill. But I doubt that DH knows what a FICO score is, so I wouldn't expect him to understand.

Actually, I don't expect him to do anything except shut up already, and leave me alone.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Tying on the Feedbag

My life feels like such shit right now, I did the only thing I could think of to feel better - I went to the store and bought $30 worth of junk food.

I'm not sure why I feel this way, but I've still got a whole lot of emotional crap to wade through. The ramped-up communication with Dear Husband over the past couple of days has taken its toll. I still miss my friends K and Floyd something fierce.

And I found out this week that the "human rights" organization that fired me last year is finally releasing the report into which I poured my heart and soul. A friend slipped me a copy of the embargoed report, and I was a little stunned to see that 14 months later, they've essentially rewritten what I wrote in the same old tired institutional language that I was trying to get away from.

None of this stuff is worth getting upset about, but I'm already feeling a little fragile. And food was my first escape route - before books, cigarettes, sex, alcohol and drugs. It always seems to be my fallback position.

But I know that feeding at the trough isn't going to help me feel better - it's ultimately only going to make things worse. There are no answers to be found at the bottom of an ice cream carton, any more than at the bottom of a bottle or a bag of dope.

At least I don't think there are. I'll let you know when I get to the bottom.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What's Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander

Dear Husband is a little bit peeved.

I strung him along for a couple of days and ignored a few emails before telling him that no, he can't pick up any stuff because I no longer have anything that belongs to him.

I wasn't sure how he'd react. He didn't show up at my door with a loaded gun, which wouldn't have been out of character for him. Instead, he fired off a few emails that were rife with misspellings.

The first suggested that I wanted to keep his stuff out of a perverse desire to keep him in my life. The second one complained about my posting (anonymous) details about him on the internet - this from a man who has nekkid pictures of himself and comments about smoking pot on his myspace page. He also guessed that we probably wouldn't be exchanging Christmas cards this year - a line that was sort of funny the first time he used it but has gotten a little tired.

The third email was either designed to prod me into further dialogue or hit me where I live, or both. It did neither. DH said he hopes I find peace and happiness someday.

What he doesn't know is that I already have. I feel a lot more peaceful and a lot happier knowing that he's out of my life forever. Sometimes all it takes is a little something - say, not having to nag an eternal teenager every day to keep his promises - to achieve nirvana.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Ahh, Sweet Freedom

Dear Husband finally paid off his hospital bill.

He told me this in an email, and in the next paragraph announced that he would be coming over this afternoon to pick up the stuff that I've been holding for ransom. As my brother would say, he's not asking, he's telling.

I guess he was expecting me to clap like a seal and hand over his stuff. But after being jerked around for the past eight months, I think he might have to wait a while. Maybe forever.

Interestingly, he paid the bill yesterday, the same day our divorce was final. I don't think he knows about the divorce date, since he's been unable to drag his ass to the post office anytime since last July to have his mail forwarded. (Note to identity thieves - now that I'm no longer responsible for DH's debts, his ludicrous pre-approved credit card offers will be waiting on top of the mailbox for anyone who wants them)

What all of this means is that I'm finally free of DH forever. It's about time. I need to move on. I need to start seeing this as a learning experience - an expensive, humiliating, extraordinarily painful learning experience.

Fly and be free, DH. I know I will.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Ides of March

My divorce is finally final today.

Obviously, the significance of the date isn't lost on me. I had always hoped that Dear Husband and I would share a kind of loyalty unsurpassed in my life so far. I never really saw the point of marriage unless it created a partnership that valued the welfare of both individuals above all else.

The kind of loyalty that would, say, preclude activities like advertising on the internet for sex with men and women and then lying about it repeatedly when caught red-handed.

Oh well, as my Beloved Mother always says, my expectations have always been too high. Actually, BM was my first and best teacher about not expecting too much. I just wasn't a very good student.

I should have known better. In the darkest recesses of my heart, I knew that DH wasn't capable of the kind of partnership I wanted and needed. But I ignored the little voice in my head that tried to warn me. I was hopeful. And what is marriage but the ultimate expression of hope?

Et tu, DH?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Letting My Garden Grow

I finally got off my ass and planted my garden this week.

I didn't even know I wanted one until recently. When I wanted to be in a garden, I always went to K's house. But just as it began to sink in that K's magical space was about to be lost forever, fate thrust an opportunity for my own garden right in my face.

Okay, it's not really my own garden. It's actually a three-foot by 10-foot plot in a community garden about a block and a half from my house. The coordinator bought some yard tools at K's massive moving sale, and before I knew it, I was renting the last available plot.

I planted tomatoes, basil, red peppers, sugar peas, daisies, sunflowers and lavender. I'm not sure I have the dedication or patience to be a good gardener, but so far I've been tending my plot with loving care. I can't wait to see the first shoots poke out of the soil.

Even if my garden doesn't thrive, I'm enjoying the process. If I get to eat one good caprese made with my own tomatoes and basil, I'll consider the venture a success. As May Sarton said, "A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Potty Mouth

I had no idea Dear Husband was such a delicate flower.

Two days after receiving no reply to my 999th email about DH's unpaid bill, I sent him the following missive.


DH replied with astounding speed:

"Don't curse at me. I am tired of you cursing at me."

Wow. You'd think a guy who hangs out with tranny whores could handle that kind of language.

But that's DH - a portrait in contrasts. A devout Catholic who cheats on his wife. A proud dad who is letting his ex-wife and his parents raise his kids. A guy who swears he's going to open his own restaurant within the next two years, but who can't keep a job or meet the most basic financial responsibilities.

I had no idea I married such a complex man. Of course, DH knew he married a woman who swears like a sailor. But I guess he has a point. I've only been trying to get him to pay this bill for eight! fucking! months! There's no need to be uncivilized.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sad Parting

My friend K and his dog Floyd left for Florida this morning.

Getting him ready to go has left me physically and emotionally exhausted. The physical exhaustion is easy to explain - K is a packrat whose two-bedroom house was stuffed to the gills with stuff - both sacred and mundane. Although I've been working furiously for the past two months to help him sell, give away or toss his belongings, the past couple of days have been marathon work sessions.

Although K tried to help out as much as he could, his contribution was minimal - besides being blind and suffering from chronic, debilitating pain, he was nearly paralyzed by anxiety over the upcoming move.

My emotional fatigue is a bit more complicated. What started two years ago as an effort to help out a neighbor who seemed to have no one else has grown into one of my most valued friendships. K often jokes that we must have been married in another life, but given my track record with marriage, I don't think we'd be this close now if that were the case.

Our bond was so tight that we often sat for hours in K's patio - once a magical space filled with verdant green light, now ravaged by plant buyers seeking bargains - without saying much, content to sit and smoke and toss tennis balls for the dogs and enjoy each other's company.

Over the last couple of days, the realization that he was really leaving finally sunk in, and I've been in tears more often than not. Yesterday, as I finished hauling the last of K's 29 boxes to the local mailbox store for shipment, I looked so demented that the owner steered me to a chair and handed me a bottle of cold water, and his simple gesture of kindness brought on a new spate of tears.

When K and I said our weepy goodbyes, we promised to visit each other often, but the truth is that I'll probably never see K or Floyd again. It's another casualty in a year that has been marked by crippling loss - not just my marriage to Dear Husband and Bob's death, but also my plans for the future, my faith in others, and my sense of self.

Bon voyage, K. I miss you more than you'll ever know.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

A Visit to the Ex-Laws

My friend K is moving to Florida in a couple of days, and needed a crate big enough for his chocolate lab, Floyd, to fly in. After he priced them at $160, I remembered that I have one that's big enough. The only problem that it was in my ex-laws garage.

The ex-laws, Gruff Patriarch and his wife, Wilting Violet, live in a provincial little farm town about an hour away from my home. I called earlier this evening and WV told me it was ok to come over.

I parked behind their house, and oddly enough, WV was waiting for me at the back door. It took me a minute to realize that she was trying to prevent any contact between me and the Evil Stepsons, who were visiting for the weekend. She charged out the back door the minute I drove up and escorted me to the garage.

As we walked over together, she surprised me by putting her arm around me and telling me she missed me. Then she brought tears to my eyes by telling me she loved me.

While I was there, I decided I'd better retrieve the rest of the crap I'd hidden there. I showed her what I was taking, and then sent her inside because it was about 30 degrees outside.

While I was outside trying to figure out how to fit my enormous pile of crap into the nazimobile, I got another surprise - WV had sent Evil Stepson #1, Surly Brat, outside to help me. I assured him I didn't need any help, and he immediately headed back toward the house.

Then came the biggest shocker of all - he stopped momentarily and asked me how I was doing. For some reason, this sent me over the edge. My voice cracked when I said I was fine and asked him the same question. 'OK,' he grunted, and shot back into the house.

I cried for half an hour after I left there. Every time I think I've plumbed the depths of my grief, I find the well has grown deeper.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Cleaning House

I woke up in a funny mood this morning.

My eyes snapped open at 6 am and I immediately realized that the mess in my apartment was crippling my chi.

I started rummaging through drawers and cupboards discarding things, shredding old paperwork, and boxing stuff to send to the Goodwill. Although this type of cleaning always seems to create more of a mess than it resolves, by noon I was really happy - I had divested myself of about four cubic feet of crap.

Best of all, I decided to take another stab at gettting rid of the evil chef's evil KitchenAid mixer, and this time I succeeded within the hour. I posted it online (this time I left "priced for revenge" out of my ad) and a happy couple came immediately to take it away.

Although I thought I had already disposed of most of the reminders of Dear Husband's and my wedding, I found more - photos, leftover invitations, some of the crap that graced the head table, and a couple of hideous wedding presents. Luckily I was in one of those fabulous purging moods, and everything went into the giveaway box or the trash without a shred of emotion.

I don't know where this mood is going to take me, but I hope it's out of the doldrums that I've been in for weeks.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Flip Side

You'd think a person who has been so recently crushed would know better than to trample someone else.

But no. I've dragged someone's feelings through the dirt just as effectively as Dear Husband did to me.

Not intentionally, of course. But what started as a casual thing shortly after my marriage exploded had turned suspiciously into a relationship, despite all arguments to the contrary. A relationship that I didn't really anticipate, wasn't ready for, and ultimately don't want.

Of course my explanation came out all wrong. It was a dolled-up version of the 'it's not you, it's me,' speech that we've all given and received at least once in our lives. But in this case, it was true. I just don't have anything to give right now.

The experience has given me some insight, though. It's helped me to understand how you can hurt someone terribly even though you care deeply. I've learned that doing nothing out of a desire to protect someone's feelings can cause much greater hurt in the end. It's shown me that I can desire someone, yet want no physical contact. And it's shown me why it's a bad idea to jump into something when you're still trying to get your bearings after jumping out of something.

Ultimately, I've dealt a crushing blow to someone I love. I'm sorry.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Back Aboard the SS Sorrow

After cycling through the whole range of emotions about the end of my marriage several times, I'm surprised to find myself feeling sad again.

It started a few days ago when I read a piece by Chris Erskine, a former sportswriter who pens a column for the LA Times about his family life. Erskine is one of those writers who manages to enthrall me even when he writes about things I care nothing about - his daughter's little league games or the condition of his lawn.

He and his wife have been married for 25 years, and even when he describes the inevitable squabbles that occur between couples, their mutual affection and respect and commitment manage to shine through.

While reading his column the other day, I realized that that was the kind of marriage I had always hoped to have - a true union of souls where the other person's happiness is just as important as your own. The kind of marriage where you feel like you know the other person almost as well as you know yourself.

The melancholy I felt reading Erskine's column has been simmering for days, and finally came to a head tonight at the supermarket, of all places. The Trader Joe's near my house is normally thronged with single gay men, but for some reason tonight it was packed with happy couples, straight and gay.

It's impossible to tell what goes on inside a relationship, especially when you pass a couple briefly in the cereal aisle, but everyone tonight seemed totally content to be grocery shopping on a Saturday night with their significant other.

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, the piped-in music, which I never even notice, started playing the song Dear Husband and I danced to at our wedding. It was one of those moments when you realize that you're truly alone.

I hate feeling sad. I'd much rather be angry. Hell, I'd even prefer bitterness at this point. Not that I don't have plenty of that.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

After Dear Husband ignored my last two emails about his outstanding hospital bill, I placed another call to my former father-in-law, Gruff Patriarch.

GP and I have definitely had our differences since he and his wife, Wilting Violet, boycotted the wedding on religious grounds. I've probably only spoken with him five times since then, and the conversations haven't been that pleasant.

But GP has been unfailingly polite and helpful both times I've spoken to him about DH's hospital bill. When we talked today, he seemed suprised that DH hadn't paid the bill in full, because he told GP he would 'take care of it.'

I'm thinking he doesn't know his own son all that well, because DH rarely does what he says he will, and almost never takes care of anything.

Ultimately, I didn't have the stones to ask for what I really wanted - for GP to pay the bill himself. It's an unfair request - GP isn't any more responsible for the bill than I am, and my rationalization that he can afford it isn't all that convincing, even to me.

But I need to get this taken care of, and not just because of the money. It's the last thread that ties me to DH, and I want it snipped. But I'm starting to think that GP has no more influence over DH than I do, which surprises me. When I first met DH, his family manipulated him like a marionette. While I'm glad he's finally stopped caring what they think, he picked a hell of a time to do it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

May I Be Excused?

No matter how badly I behave lately, someone thinks it's okay.

Everything I've done lately, from my campaign of revenge against Dear Husband and my email to his Next Victim, to my surly moods and self-destructive behavior, are apparently excusable. Because I've Been Through a Lot Lately.

It's an interesting development for someone whose behavior has always been inexcusable. According to my Beloved Mother, my whole life has been driven by a streak of selfishness a mile wide. In retrospect, some of my actions were perfectly reasonable reactions to situations no one, especially a child, should ever have to face. But while I now view the circumstances in a more reasonable light, the belief that I look out for myself at the expense of others remains like a bad aftertaste.

The three-year relationship I had with the Babbling Irishman before meeting DH only reinforced this feeling. BI had the endearing habit of taking a harmless comment and parsing it for hours to reveal my evil motivation. These marathon sessions always left me feeling like a verbal marauder who crushed feelings like buildings in a bad Japanese horror film.

Intentionally or unintentionally, DH has only reinforced the feeling that whatever happens is somehow my fault. He has steadily maintained that I'm the one responsible for the demise of our marriage. According to DH, a conversation I had with him two weeks before kicking his ass out of my life sounded the death knell of our relationship. His five-year betrayal and web of lies were just incidental.

Luckily, I have a gaggle of good friends who are helping me turn this around. You trampled someone's flower garden? That's perfectly understandable considering what's going on in your life. You made a baby cry just by looking at it? It's okay, you've had a hard year.

It's wonderful to be supported, but it's hard to get used to the idea that everything I do is okay when viewed in the mirror of my friendships. But I guess I should enjoy it. Because I've Been Through a Lot Lately.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Time for a Tune-Up

Self-care is a funny thing - if you're not giving any, you're not getting any.

I haven't been taking good care of myself at all lately. Despite my sometimes-good intentions, I've cut out nearly everything that keeps me healthy - mainly exercise, good food, and sleep.

And unfortunately, this kind of self-neglect seems to snowball. So does the emotional wreckage that goes along with it. This last week has been particularly bad - my self-abuse manifested itself into physical pain that grew nearly intolerable as the week progressed. By Friday, I had been nursing a headache for five days that was totally unimpressed by any amount of OTC pain reliever I threw at it, and was starting to fantasize about jumping off a bridge.

So I finally took some steps toward mental and physical health. I made an appointment with D, a fabulous deep-tissue massage therapist who has no problem digging nearly to China to work the kinks out of my muscles.

By the time D finished working his two hours of muscle magic, I finally felt like I wanted to live again. A trip to the Korean spa, a good dinner, and A's magical presence and fantastic body work sealed the deal.

It's time to start taking care of myself. The 18-hours-a-day-hunched-over-the-computer plan doesn't seem to be working for me. It's time for a change.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I Did a Bad, Bad Thing

After telling myself for weeks that I wouldn't, I emailed Dear Husband's Next Victim last night during a fit of pique.

I gave her a basic outline of DH's betrayal and lies, let her know that he's still advertising on the Internet for sex with men, apologized for disrupting her life, and wished her luck either way.

I am concerned about her, but that's not why I sent the email. I sent it because I'm totally disgusted that DH is screwing me over again after screwing me over so royally the first time. I did it because he is refusing to address his financial responsibilities. But mostly, I did it because I wanted to hurt him.

The impulse passed, but unfortunately I had already sent the email. I woke up this morning filled with regrets, and dreading a response. But there was none.

Finally, this afternoon, I received an email that completely flummoxed me. I had imagined several responses that NV might make to my email, including no response at all, but this sure wasn't one of them. It was a computer-generated email that said NV had invited me to join MySpace.

Was this NV's way of acknowledging my email without actually having to say anything? Did she even read the email? Has she suffered a head injury in the not-too-distant past?

But that's neither here nor there. Trying to figure out what goes on inside NV's head is even more futile than trying to puzzle out DH's thought processes. And why should I care about either?

But obviously I do. I wish I didn't. Someday I won't. Until then, I obviously need a computer chaperone.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

As part of my ongoing campaign to get Dear Husband to meet his financial 0bligations, A offered to put a hex on him.

A is an ordained Wiccan priestess who, when she gets into her witchy mode, appears to be about nine feet tall and is not a person I would ever mess with. She explained to me that ethical witches invoke hexes that are designed to get stubborn individuals like DH to do what they should be doing anyway.

She compared her hex to a scene from the film "A Color Purple," where the beleaguered Celie finally stands up to her loser husband Albert.

"Until you do right by me everything you think about is gonna crumble!"

Sounds good to me.

My only fear is that DH's life is crumbling so much already that he might not notice the difference.

But I have faith in the process. I've seen A in action often enough to know that she wrangles with things that I can't begin to see or understand.

Now if only I could get her to work her magic on Cheap Landlord. But that might be pushing my luck.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I Hate Everyone

People are really getting on my nerves.

I don't really hate them, and it's not really everyone. But saying it seems to fit my angry, annoyed, self-pitying mood right now.

The last couple of days have been filled with one frustrating exchange after another. Dear Husband dodged my email about his unpaid hospital bill and then responded to another by calling me a whore. Again. My friend L, who hasn't had sex in about four years, pretty much called me the same thing. Again.

Cheap Landlord made me call him six times a day for a week before finally, finally sending someone over to fill the hole in my bathroom. My upstairs neighbor has apparently opened a daycare center, or a bed-and-breakfast, or both, directly above my home office, and refuses to tone down the noise even one decibel.

And my friend K has decided to move to Florida to live with his sister because he's tired of doing everything on his own and not being able to count on anyone here. I think very sick people are a little like toddlers - they tend to live in the moment. I've spent a lot of time and money over the past year making sure K's needs were met, but it seems to have slipped his mind.

So I'm frustrated. And very irritable. And I have a headache. And the most annoying thing of all is that all of these obnoxious people have only one thing in common - me.

I need to get out - outside of my head, out of this apartment, out of this funk. Life seemed so fabulous just a couple of days ago. Of course that's the good news - life will seem wonderful again soon. But until then I hate everyone.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but I got a lot done today.

I woke up at the crack of dawn (7:30) and started working immediately. By 10 am, I had not only completed several pages of my current project, I had also washed the dishes and done a load of laundry.

I sort of lost momentum later, but it still turned out to be a very productive day. I got a lot of work done. I got the bills paid and took Cosmo on a walk and to the park. I continued my campaign of revenge against Dear Husband. I harangued Cheap Landlord about the hole in my bathroom. I even took some feeble steps toward cleaning out my nightmarish bedroom closet. And I still managed to squeeze in a nap.

This may not seem like a lot, but from my perspective it was truly an incredible day. For the last couple of months, it's sometimes been a struggle to even get dressed in the morning. And disciplining myself to work steadily has been a major issue.

I'm not that big on New Year's resolutions, but I hope the coming year brings the ability to use my time wisely, to balance work and play, and to take care of the things I need to accomplish before they become problems. If I have many days like today, 2007 will be a fantastic year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

I'm In Love With a Robot

The Roomba has arrived.

I ordered my robot vacuum cleaner during my recent buying binge, and couldn't be more pleased. My hatred of vacuuming may be a remnant from my long-ago stint as a maid at the Lake Arrowhead Hilton (motto: Don't Touch the Bedspread) and as a housecleaner, when I vacuumed more in two years than most people do in a lifetime. Or maybe it's just because I'm lazy.

I have a few problems with the Roomba, none of which have anything to do with the machine itself. The biggest problem is Cosmo - he declared it his sworn enemy before I even turned it on. Whenever I start it up, he becomes even more neurotic than usual and attacks the Roomba with ineffectual little bites to its flank.

The second problem is a lack of accessories - I need another robot to pick up the clothes on my bedroom floor.

But all in all, it was money very well spent. If they would only invent a robot that writes websites, I'll be all set.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Zen of Bath

Something miraculous happened today.

No, not Cheap Landlord fixing something inside my apartment, although that's a miracle too. No, today I rediscovered the joy of taking a bath.

My apartment is pretty decent, but I've never liked the bathroom - it's small and always seemed kind of scuzzy. The bathtub was its worst feature - years ago, CL installed icky mirrored shower doors that were slightly too large for the opening, and the constant pressure slowly shifted the tiled tub foot to the south. Each time this happened, CL applied a thick layer of plaster to the tub foot until, by the time I moved in, it looked like a plaster cast put on at a back-alley medical clinic by a doctor who had lost his license to practice medicine.

In mid-November, the plaster cracked again, and after just six weeks of nagging CL daily and finally threatening to withhold my rent, a worker came today and demolished my bathroom. To my great joy, he removed the hated shower doors and the rotten tub foot.

He left without finishing the job, and the bathroom still looks like it belongs in a crackhouse, but in just a few short hours, he feng shui'd my bathroom in a way I never thought possible, and unblocked my bath chi. The bathroom now feels much more open and airy, and I immediately scrubbed his footprints out of the tub and filled it with hot water.

I'd forgotten how restorative it is to lounge in a hot bath. I spent an enjoyable hour lolling in the tub with a magazine, and when I got out, I felt like a new woman.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

It's Go Time!

When I collected my mail yesterday, my respect for Dear Husband hit rock bottom and started to dig.

It turns out that DH hasn't paid a single dime toward the $500+ hospital bill he incurred last summer after the calcium deposits in his brain leached down to his kidneys and formed a stone. The debt has now been sent to a collection agency, and as the person who actually has the insurance, guess who's going to debtor's prison? That's right. Moi.

Although I can't possibly repay DH all the grief he's given me, I'm certainly willing to try. I've already begun to slake my thirst for revenge. It's amazing what one incredibly pissed-off woman can accomplish in one afternoon with an internet connection, a phone, and a wallet full of credit cards with ridiculously high limits.

I used to feel sorry for First Wife because she was so bogged down with anger toward DH. But the impossible has happened - I now understand where FW is coming from. My old zenlike desire to replace my rage at DH with loving forgiveness now seems a little quaint.

Anyway, it's hard to feel serene when you have flames shooting out of your head. I suppose I'll start working on my spiritual life again soon. But right now, I have, um, things to do. The less you know about it the better.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Thank God it Only Happens Once a Year

I tried my best to ignore Christmas this year.

It's no secret that it's my least-favorite holiday. It really has nothing to recommend it - it's where unpleasant family obligations, crazed overeating, ugly decorations, and rampant spending collide. The worst thing is that the whole dog and pony show starts in October now, and the last decorations don't come down until the middle of January, so that's three months of the year that I get to enjoy Christmas. One day out of four.

It's been something I tolerated for as long as I can remember, but last year Christmas and I reached a sort of uneasy detente. Dear Husband and I hosted a really lovely Christmas Eve get-together for a bunch of friends and had another big group over for Christmas Day brunch. It was a really happy couple of days that threatened to redeem Christmas once and for all.

This year promised to be less than festive, so I got my shopping done early and decided to completely ignore the holiday. Christmas Eve day dawned sunny and warm, and promised to behave like any other day. I planned to take the dogs to the park, clean my apartment, and spend a couple of hours reading a good book.

But there were immediately a couple of kinks in my plan. The first one came early - I received a big bag of really lovely presents that were lovingly chosen just for me. The crown jewel of this fantastic bag of booty was a sock-monkey mermaid. I've already learned that there are people in the world who are unable to appreciate that this is the most fabulous present ever. But they are just jealous, because they did not receive a sock-monkey mermaid themselves.

The second event occurred just a few hours later. I was at the park with the dogs, mindlessly throwing the ball over and over like I do every day, when a group of about 10 people straggled into the park and started singing Christmas carols. They didn't seem to mind that their entire audience consisted of three homeless guys, two dogs, and me. Their thready voices reached me all the way on the other side of the park, and I was surprised to realize that I knew the words to every song. I got a little teary-eyed.

I realized why Christmas always makes me feel so sad - it usually reminds me of everything I've lost, everything that's missing, everything I think I want and don't have. But I need to remember the pagan roots of this holiday - it's a time of renewal, rebirth, a reminder that spring will come again. It's a time to embark on a new path, and to leave things behind that are no longer useful.

So it's turning out to be not so bad a holiday after all. I'm trekking my friend K out to the insanity at G's house in Palm Springs, which is always entertaining. I haven't lost much that's worth keeping, and spring is on the way. And most importantly, I have a sock-monkey mermaid. Life is good. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Everyone who knew it was a bad idea to email Dear Husband yesterday, please raise your hand.

Ok, you can all put them down now. Needless to say, my initial email sparked an ugly exchange of words that would have been better left unsaid. About 20 messages later, we really took the gloves off - he was a congenital liar with no conscience, and I was a syphilitic whore.

After a much-needed cooling-off period, I decided to let it end there. DH got the last word. In a middle-of-the-night moment of contrition, I sent him a farewell apology, and wished him well. Again.

I regret sending him that first email, and shouldn't have been snooping around his MySpace page in the first place. But I truly wasn't expecting to find what I found - a picture of DH cuddling naked with his Next Victim, a woman whom even her brief internet biography proves is clearly too good for him.

With a little prodding, I realized what the true purpose of my email had been - I was trying to tell DH, yet again, how completely he had crushed my spirit. Again, he chose not to hear. In fact, DH truly believes, or wants to believe, or wants me to believe, that I am the one who destroyed our marriage.

So be it. As one of my evil bosses at my last job used to say when her actions were totally indefensible, it is what it is.

Maybe I am the one who destroyed our marriage - through my inability to accept DH's dishonesty, emotional unavailability and lack of trust, through my unwillingness to succumb to slow emotional death by strangulation.

Either way, it's probably good that we're no longer together now that we know how we truly feel about each other.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Cycle Begins Again

Well, it's official - Dear Husband has snared his Next Victim.

I learned this when I was (not so) innocently browsing the Internet and came across DH's MySpace page. I saw that he's divorced already (Los Angeles County must have processed his paperwork more quickly than mine). I saw that he's suddenly developed ambition. And then I saw NV listed as one of DH's few interests.

Of course I couldn't help but mosey over to NV's MySpace page to check her out. I instantly saw the source of DH's newfound ambition - NV likes people who are ambitious! She also wants a relationship with someone who values trust, honesty, integrity and character as much as she does.

WTF? She wants someone with character and she chose.....DH???? I was flabbergasted. Then I remembered how sincere DH can seem when you want to see him that way. I hope she sees him for what he really is before she gets in too deep.

But obviously my concern for her isn't entirely altruistic - not even close. I'm bitter. And jealous. And catty. And a major hypocrite. And still very, very angry.

I was instantly tempted to fire off a warning email to NV, but I managed to restrain myself. But I couldn't help sending him a flaming missive. Of course I'm sorry now. NV will become another stop on DH's Trail of Tears, or she'll see him for what he really is. Either way, it's none of my business.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Spending Is Patriotic, Right?

If so, I may be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Normally I avoid consumer spending like the plague. Except for my periodically self-indulgent trips to Target, I usually find that I just don't want or need any more stuff.

But lately I'm like a crow who fixates on bright shiny things. It all started with the new car. Then it was a pair of glossy knee-high black leather boots that I needed to go with the car. Then I started Christmas shopping with abandon, and actually managed to purchase some gifts for other people along the way. But when I bought an MP3 player today, I knew I'd lost my mind.

See, I didn't even know I wanted an MP3 player until I saw it. I certainly don't need one. The truth is, I'm such a committed luddite that I don't even know how they work, and probably won't be able to figure it out. But there it was, with its shiny metal case, and suddenly I had to have it. I swooped down upon it and snatched it into my beak without even thinking.

Unfortunately, this isn't the first time I've been caught in the grip of rampant consumer greed. Every time it's happened in the past has been during times of tremendous loss, not unlike what I'm going through right now. In fact, the last time I suffered a loss as staggering as my split with Dear Husband, I ended up with a new car, some black leather boots, and a new music player.

You don't have to be Sigmund Freud to figure out what all this means. But unfortunately, self-awareness doesn't always equal enlightenment. I hope I come to my senses before my bank account is empty and my credit cards are maxed out. But at least I'm doing my part to stimulate the economy.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Make it Stop Please

I have an excellent relationship with the neighbors across the walkway 11 months out of the year. Queridos Vecinos are a couple of Latino queens who are generally fabulous neighbors - friendly, considerate, and quiet enough.

But every December, I fantasize about killing them. In the first week of December, they hang their lighted, musical Christmas wreath on their front door, and visions of violence start to dance in my head.

The wreath plays fluty nasal versions of Christmas songs that drill into my brain whether my front door is open or closed. Early on, I found a volume button for this monstrosity that was luckily located on the outside of their front door. I've gotten into the habit of slipping over in the dark to restore peace to the apartment complex.

But apparently, Queridos Vecinos can't live without their tinny ice-rink yuletide noise. They come outside several times each night to readjust the volume. Last night I heard their noise pollution at 1 am as I was trying to go to sleep.

I made another trip over to their door in my bathrobe to make things right. But when I returned to bed, I could still hear the music in my head. I thought I was going to lose my mind.

Let me explain. You know about that phenomenon known as 'ear worm' when you can't get a song out of your head? I suffer from ear worm to a much greater degree than most people. Sometimes annoying tunes bounce around in my skull for days or even weeks. Christmas music is the worst.

The problem may be compounded by the post-traumatic stress disorder I suffer from my first job as a pixie to a drunken and deranged Santa at a third-rate Christmas-themed amusement park. I haven't worked there for 22 years, but the nightmares just stopped recently.

So now I'm contemplating a more permanent solution to my problem. I know, I know - vandalism is a crime. But as A says, no jury would ever convict me.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Just F#&@ing Do It Already

I've been meaning to go to the gym. Every day. For about the last six months.

While I've been avoiding the gym, I've also managed to give up my nearly lifelong habit of walking every day, and I've gained back the 10 pounds I lost after giving Dear Husband the boot, plus about five more. Factor that into the 18 hours or so I spend sitting in front of the computer every day, and I've basically turned into a blob.

This fact was driven home last Saturday when I spent the day shopping with my mother. Even though she's 65, Beloved Mother spends more hours at the gym each day than Arnold Schwarzenegger and never lets her weight fluctuate by more than two pounds. Seeing our reflections side by side in all those full-length mirrors was hard, especially since we were roughly the same size for a lot of years.

So today I finally took a tiny step in the right direction. I went to the gym for an hour. I pounded one of those elliptical trainers for half an hour even though I was bored outta my skull after 30 seconds, and did a half-hour of weight training.

I'm going to try for a repeat performance tomorrow, even though my gym makes me feel especially blobby - it's in Hollywood and is packed with 98-pound out-of-work actors that provide even more contrast than Beloved Mother.

I don't know if I'll lose any weight, because I have a marked predilection for tying on the feedbag. But I know I'll feel a lot better both physically and emotionally if I exercise every day. If I can stare down the emaciated actors and my own lack of motivation, it'll be worth it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

It's Not the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I really hate this time of year.

I start my downward spiral every year in mid-October, when I can no longer kid myself that daylight savings time might be extended through the winter. The shorter days, the relatively cold weather, the impending holidays, and my chronic inability to dress for winter in a way that's fashionable or even adequate all contribute to my malaise.

Unfortunately, external factors usually dictate how bad my autumnal doldrums will be, and this year is proving to be difficult. The split with Dear Husband, my friend K's health problems, and Bob's sad demise are all contributing to a chronic case of even worse-than-usual pre-winter blues.

Luckily there are bright spots that I can bask in like unexpected shafts of sunlight. My friendship with A nurtures and fulfills me in ways that I never imagined. The staples of my usually satisfying life - sobriety, friendship, and dogs - continue to sustain me. And on the shallow side, my new car continues to give me the kind of pleasure I should never get from material things but still do.

But I'm still struggling. The late afternoons, when it already seems to be getting dark at 3 pm, are the worst. It's just that time of year when I want to wrap myself in velvet and hibernate until spring. Robert Frost was wrong about April being the cruelest month. It's definitely December.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Oy Vey

I picked up my friend K's sister at the airport last night and was looking forward to some much-needed help with his care. She kept insisting that I didn't need to pick her up, but I wanted some uninterrupted time to talk with her. Also, I wanted to drive my new car.

Our conversation started out pleasantly enough. I filled her in on K's most recent medical developments. He's lived with AIDS for 20 years and recently had a heart attack. I told her about yesterday's visit to the cardiologist and about his progress in the week since he left the hospital.

But before we arrived at K's house, she turned the conversation to me. She and the rest of K's family don't get why I devote so much time to his care. Frankly, they're suspicious. She kept saying she didn't understand why I would want to do this.

I tried to explain to her that aside from caring deeply about K, making sure he has what he needs is a mitzvah. (My friend J says I'm an honorary jew so I'm allowed to talk this way) I didn't tell her that since my split with Dear Husband, it's actually provided a welcome distraction at times and allowed me to get outside of myself and my problems.

But I've done lots of volunteer work over the course of my life. I often joke that I'm doing karmic mitigation to offset my evil influence, but really I think it's an important part of having a meaningful life. I've volunteered at homeless shelters and dog rescues over the years and spent many hours tutoring adults and children in the hope that they will have a brighter future.

As we pulled up to K's gate, I told his sister that I hoped she understood. She said she did.

'You have no life!' she said brightly.

I almost dropped her suitcase.

This happened to me once before, at a homeless shelter where I volunteered every Saturday, all day, for a year. The director of the shelter was suspicious of me because I was a reporter and she didn't want me to have contact with any of the residents, so she charged me with the task of sorting out several warehouses stuffed with donated items.

One day, one of the paid county employees who spent the days leaning against walls and smoking told me that they all agreed that I spent every Saturday there because I had no life.

I'm ashamed to say that I never went back there. I finished out the day, my face burning the whole time, and could never bring myself to go back.

I guess what my father always said about me is true - I'm middle-class. It's one of his most potent insults - it means I care more about what people think about me than how I feel about myself.

I hope I don't react the same way to K's family's attitude. After all, his sister is a bored rich bitter housewife in Florida, and his parents are retired farmers in the flyover zone. I really shouldn't care what they think. Besides, K needs me.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Two Sides of the Same Coin

Love and hate usually flow from the same muddy emotional pool. It's hard to muster up the psychic energy for one without the other.

Tim O'Brien captured this phenomenon perfectly in his Vietnam War memoir The Things They Carried. He described a soldier who realized one day that the young woman he had been pining for didn't share his feelings.

She signed the letters Love, but it wasn't love...He hated her. Yes he did.
Love, too, but it was a hard, hating kind of love.

I sometimes struggle with this same kind of confusing emotional muddle. Hate is far too strong a word, but I'm not having very kind feelings about Bob, my adopted dog who bit me really damned hard during what turned out to be the last hour of his life. My hand is puffed up like a balloon and I have to take antibiotics for the next 10 days.

At the same time, I'm grieving his death and missing him terribly. I was really fond of the old fart even if he was a mental case. He was part of my weird little manufactured family, and the space that he occupied feels strangely empty right now.

My feelings about Dear Husband are also conflicting and jumbled, but far more complicated. I have anger, sorrow, pity, loss, loathing and longing all knotted into the same emotional clusterfuck. Could I be this pissed off if I hadn't loved DH so much? Would I feel this sorry for him if I had never glimpsed his vulnerability? It's hard to identify where one emotion ends and the next begins.

Feeling these types of feelings was a novelty to me once - I spent nearly two decades ensuring a kind of emotional flat-line existence so I wouldn't have to experience the least little bit of pain. But even though my head has been clear for nearly 12 years, I sometimes feel I'm no better at navigating this emotional minefield than I was back then.

But even though feelings can be hard and hurtful, I'm glad I have them. While trying to smother everything painful in a haze of drugs and alcohol, I stifled my capacity for joy. I also disabled my ability to grieve. Today I can experience grief and loss without trying to obliterate them, and that's a great gift, even though it sometimes confuses the hell out of me.

I miss you guys. Both of you. Adieu, Bobby. Bon chance, DH. I hope both of you are on your way to better things.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Rest in Peace, My Friend

What can I say about Bob? Above all, I loved him dearly. He was a misfit who sidled into my heart almost against my will. He was a foster dog who became permanent after he bit two prospective adoptive owners. Sure, he bit me too, and other people, and other dogs, but somehow I accepted it as a personality quirk, not a capital offense.

But today was different. He attacked the neighbor's dog, Miso, then bit my hand so bad it's not going to work right for a while. I can't run the risk of him hurting anyone else. He had to be dispatched to doggy heaven this morning.

Despite his flaws, Bobby was affectionate and even funny. He sometimes came up to me unexpectedly and nuzzled my hand or laid his head in my lap. And the little tapdance he did when he wanted to go for a walk always made me smile.

I hope he's happy wherever he is. I hope he's finally at peace. Rest well, my friend. I miss you, but I know we'll see each other again.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I Got a New Toy

My slightly wacky friend G often tells me about the pleasure he derives from filling the empty space inside him with the joy of a new car. It's a feeling he experiences over and over again - he owns more than 200 cars, all classics, and he's always on the prowl for a new one.

I haven't experienced this very often. I often say that I'm only loyal to friends and dogs and cars - jobs, apartments and men are usually short-lived experiments. In fact, I've only owned four cars in my life.

Well, five. I bought a new one today. Not a new new car, a gently used one. The car I've wanted for years. A Jetta. With a sunroof. And leather upholstery. It's a dream.

It's such a fabulous car that I'm almost afraid to drive it. Everyone who knows me knows how quickly I can turn a nice car into one that you might not want to ride in. I can even make a rental car look disgusting - usually within a day of picking it up.

But I'm starting a new chapter in my car book. I swear. No smoking in the new car. No coffee. No more giving rides to homeless people. And the dogs aren't even going to find out I bought it. They have to walk to the vet from now on.

Buying a new car felt only slightly self-indulgent. I really need something shiny and nice in my life right now. The last four months have been hell. So I got a new toy.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thank You

Thanksgiving has always seemed like a funny holiday to me.

Don't get me wrong - it's a lovely idea to set aside a day to count our blessings, especially in a country where most of us are so very affluent but manage to suffer from a feeling of disenfranchisement. But like most holidays, the true meaning always seems to get lost amid commercialism and food.

It's always been a difficult time for me - for years because I spent the day with my family, and later because I didn't. The last time I shared Thanksgiving dinner with my family was in 1999. I ended up crying in a dark bathroom after my 35-year-old brother chased me around with a camera all night taking ambush pictures of my fat bloated body. My perverted uncle found me in the dark and told me I needed to lighten up, all the while trying to feel me up.

For a few years after that I used work as an excuse to avoid the family - I volunteered to work the holidays at every newspaper, and told my mother I had no choice. After that, I just flat-out refused to go. My mother didn't understand, even when I cited that last miserable Thanksgiving and a Christmas dinner when I had to pull a boyfriend's five-year-old son away from the perverted uncle and flee into the night with them.

Thanksgiving feels a little strange this year too - last year, Dear Husband and I hosted a big dinner for a bunch of friends. This year, I had to turn down a couple of out-of-town mercy invitations (thanks guys) because my friend K has been in the hospital for more than a week. So I'm going to eat chinese food and see a movie with a friend whose family lives on the other coast.

As usual, I have so many reasons to be thankful. K has made an improbable recovery - I really thought I was going to lose him this time - and is coming home from the hospital today. And I'm blessed in so many other ways - sobriety, friends, dogs, and all those other things that I sometimes take for granted.

Thank you, whoever is pulling the strings. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

One of the Seven Deadly Sins

Okay, everyone knows I suffer from all of them.

But one in particular has been rearing its ugly head lately.

I've never been the cleanest or the most energetic person in the world. Anyone who has had the misfortune to ride in my car can attest to that. But lately my slothfulness has become, um, more pronounced.

Lately it seems like too much of an effort to take out the trash. I've been meaning to give Cosmo a bath for about two months. I've been putting dishes in the sink to soak for about three days. And sometimes when I'm getting ready for bed I realize that I've forgotten to shower that day.

I know, ewwwww. Even I'm getting grossed out. Every couple of days I vow to change my ways - I wash the dishes, run the vacuum, scrub the coffee stains from the counters. It's not quite as bad as it sounds - I'm still obsessed with clean laundry and daily bathing - I just don't shower at a time when the people around me can enjoy it.

But I need to get my act together. It doesn't help that I have three dogs that are bigger slobs than I am, if that's even possible. But I'm the designated maid and kibble provider, so I need to get my ass in gear. Then I can focus all of my attention on the other six deadly sins.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


I'm having a hard time sleeping again.

Well, that's not entirely true. I sleep like a baby every afternoon when I'm supposed to be working. I usually drift off about 2 pm and wake in the dark, totally disoriented. I do this because I'm exhausted.

Every night, when most people are winding down, my restless mind starts revving up. I end up awake until 3 or 4 am, reading, writing, or watching tv. Those groggy afternoon naps aren't the source of my insomnia, either - even on those miserable days when I miss my nap, I'm awake until dark-thirty.

I've always been a night owl, but my late-night hours turned into insomnia a few months before my marriage to Dear Husband. Even though our wedding was a pretty low-key affair, the planning of it started to weigh on my mind and I couldn't sleep at night. This was a problem when I was expected to show up at an office at 9 am.

It's less of an issue now that I work at home, but I'd still like to sleep at night. A few weeks ago, the problem seemed to be resolving itself - I was drifting off around midnight and waking up around 7 am, fresh as a flower.

But my insomnia has returned, and I'm padding around my apartment in the middle of the night, making the dogs anxious and, I hope, disturbing my obnoxious neighbors. In a way it's kind of nice - I can work or read without the interruptions that punctuate the days. But it's also isolating, and my life is already pretty solitary. I'm going to try to get some sleep.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Enough Already

Joan Didion is starting to get on my nerves.

I loved her book at first. "The Year of Magical Thinking" resonated with me on so many levels for the first 50 pages or so.

But by the time I slogged my way through the middle of the book, I was starting to think of Joan as a repetitive whiner who didn't know when to shut her pie hole. Alright, I wanted to scream, your husband's dead and your daughter's in a coma, I get it! Time to move on!

This just goes to show how that the process of grieving is intensely personal. I'm not really as hard-hearted as I seem - I know that losing your husband of 40 years while your only child is critically ill is the most life-shattering event that could happen to anyone. I completely understand the impulse to analyze it ad nauseum. I just don't want to read about it.

But I couldn't put this turkey down. Toward the end Didion blew up the only common bridge that joined us - she wrote that people often see similarities between divorce and the death of a spouse, but that the two are beyond compare.

She's probably right. In any case, I have to admire someone who managed to marry someone who was her partner in every sense of the word for four decades. If my lame-ass sham of a marriage had lasted more than 10 months, I might want to wax nostalgic about it as well.

But even Didion knows that grief so personal doesn't translate well. She recalled reading Dylan Thomas' widow's memoir of life after his death and being totally appalled by its whiny, self-obsessed tone. But with the passage of nearly 50 years, she finally understood.

'Time is the school in which we learn,' she wrote. Finally, something that we can share.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Four Months of Marginal Thinking

My friend A lent me Joan Didion's 'The Year of Magical Thinking,' and although she warned me that it might bring me to my knees, it's been giving me fantastic insight on grief.

Even though Didion's husband, John Gregory Dunne, dropped dead during dinner without screwing her over, her situation is not that dissimilar to mine. Like me, she had to learn abruptly to cope with the loss of someone she loves.

I've always loved her ability to put things that leave me speechless into words. Take, for example, this passage on grief:

'Grief is different. Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxyms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life.'

What resonated even more with me was the magical thinking referenced in the book's title. Didion confessed that although she allowed an autopsy to be performed and had Dunne's body cremated, she was unable to give away his shoes because he would need them when he returned.

Although I consider myself a mostly rational person, I'm guilty of this kind of thinking myself from time to time. Few people who know me realize that after my dog Oscar died suddenly, I believed my dog Wiley could communicate with him in the great beyond. For a while, I periodically laid my hand on Wiley's head and asked him to send messages to Oscar. After a few months, Wiley told me telepathically to cool it with the crazytalk, so I did.

I realized the other day that I've engaged in some marginal thinking about Dear Husband. I've had this thought, barely even acknowledged in my own mind, that he could fix what went wrong. It was only recently, when he asked if there was anything he could do to help me feel better, that I realized what I'd been hoping. I told him there was nothing he could do without a time machine.

(And some character. But the chances of DH developing character are about the same as his acquiring a time machine.)

I think I'm done with any magical thinking about DH. We all need some magic every once in a while, but sometimes stark reality settles in, and it allows us to see things more clearly.