Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Mother is Dying

Well, we're all dying, really. But Mom is a little nearer to it than some of us. She's been in the ER twice in two months and last month she did actually die and they rescessitated her, how the hell do you spell that?

They did x-rays and CT scans and found that she has broken all but four of the bones in her spine and she's in a bucket of trouble. She's in so much pain. There's nothing they can do for her, but drug her to the gills.

So I took her back to the rest home with instructions not to let her get up without help, and give her any good drugs she wants. Perhaps she'll just sleep until she dies. There's a chance her back will heal enough for her to get up again, but her bones are made of china and she will certainly just fall again. The doctor said she's at least 6 inches than she was when she was in her prime. She's 4'8" and she's lost so much weight it's painful beyond belief just to get a shot.

I told the rest home that no matter what, I don't want her to suffer. I know what I'm talking about. I know I'm talking about snowing her. But the pain the doctor described to me just really beat me up, let alone my mom and she was in major pain yesterday. They could barely get on top of it with Dilaudid.

I'm praying she will go quietly in her sleep after Christmas. I know I sound cold as hell, but I will just die myself if I end up having to do a funeral before Christmas.

However, I'll take any option that gets her out of this pain. You guys, I'm the last person you want around if you're in deep pain or if you're bleeding. I simply completely panic. I was frantic yesterday as I drove her to the hospital (they should have sent her in an ambulance)---so frantic I was calling her "Mommy" "Oh, Mommy, I'm hurrying."

And she won't go into a hospital again. There's nothing they can do for her. Nothing, except traumatize her and scare her. That's something I never expected---that they could do nothing. I wasn't prepared for this. But I'm getting with her doctor and making sure she dies free of discomfort. Utah is good that way.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Good Life

Before Bill and I went belly up, we'd have a really good day occasionally. Maybe it would be late summer, when we had our little granddaughters and they'd be playing in the back yard and the light would be golden and we'd be looking at all our tomatoes and enjoying the day---and we'd look at each other and say, "we have a good life."

I was thinking the other day what an awful life I had, what with the alcoholism and poverty and abuse and deaths, etc. It really reads like something out of a Catherine Cookson novel. And I was feeling sorry for myself that I had this awful life and truly I'm so unique and special because I've suffered so.

Then the thought came to me, just as I was shaking the 400 count snow white sheets onto my comfy bed in my pretty blue room that's all shabby chic and also has my own private satellite hookup, DVD player, a jewelry box full of pretties, the small air conditioning unit which cools me and helps me sleep and a closet full of great clothes, shoes, and purses and God smacked me up the side of the head.

I'm blessed. I have healthy kids and grandkids who are all such persons, such personality, wit and charm, and beauty. My good-looking, hard-working husband loves me, despite all I've put him through, I still have my looks---not to brag, but I think I probably look about ten years younger than I am (thanks to not smoking, avoiding the sun, and a truly Oscar-worthy hairdresser, oh---not to mention expensive skin products and makeup), if not my health and my brain is starting to return. I have a warm comfortable home and a million friends (who I've been begging to go away); a safe life in one of the safest parts of the world, let alone the US!

I have a really good extra large washer and dryer---my mother only had a wringer washer once and the rest of the time, we trucked to the laundromat or often washed in a tin tub on a washboard with water heated on the coal stove. I have all the conveniences---oh! I have a Dyson!

I have a Dell LOL---and a Blackberry and a digital camera---and a printer that copies in color and makes photos, geez, that used to be only a dream! I have a really good car, a 2003 Buick with only 50,000 miles on it, that gets 30 mpg highway! I have good credit and a mostly good name (although I'm pretty famous for being a troublemaker); Bill and I are respected and liked in our community. I have an interesting job with benefits for a company that values its employees.

I have so much materially and spiritually and substantively. What am I thinking, I'm deprived???

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mustang Sally

Chapter 1: We party!

So me and my sister, Chris, went down to Newport Beach to get my head examined :). Chris is a bit more staid than I in many ways, although she will get out and play softball and Indian wrestle and call people out at her grandkids' soccor games while I will sit quietly immersed in a book. Physical stuff I do not do.

She's my best friend and the person I enjoy being with more than anyone, although Bill's starting to grow back on me.

I'll talk about that later in another chapter.

I was fine to go down there by myself, I didn't expect it to be traumatic, but Bill didn't want me to be alone, so I drug Chris down there. We stayed at the Radisson --I go first class these days now that I am old and my butt is gold. It was just lovely, and they had in-room movies! We watched Get Smart (it was okay, Chris laughed all the way through it and it was her second time--you have to be really funny to get a laugh out me, I'm African-American that way) and Tropic Thunder (really, a waste of time, it wasn't the vulgarity, I just didn't enjoy it and never saw the humor, except for Tom Cruise, he was hilarious) and what was that other one? Oh, well.

We ate our way through the days--every place had the best food! I felt like I was Albert Brooks in "Defending Your Life" where "everything is good." The hotel had the most marvelous chef and I had a lobster quesadilla that was to die for and oh, we had room service every day and even the continental breakfast was enough for four people, I am not kidding! We ate at a great steak place and another French place and Chris was sick of food and wondering who'd taken over my brain since I never eat.

We got Thai massages. You guys, you have to do this before you die, put it on your bucket list. This little Asian girl crawled all over my back and bent my legs all over the place and gave me the best massage I've ever had. Then we got our toenails painted on Balboa Island where I had a good old time in all the small shops and then we went to the worst psychic ever, I am so much better than she will ever be, but it was all part of the experience.

We rested and we ate and we shopped. We argued a bit over each other's driving (think Oprah and Gayle--I am Gayle). The first day the only car rental available was a little tiny two seater convertible, some Dodge or something. But it was like riding a skateboard down the street so we went back the next day and just as we pulled in, this guy pulled in with a Mustang convertible! I sat in it and was in heaven and they let us take it. We drove out with the top down and put on the CD I'd made for our trip. The first song was "Mony, Mony." We turned it up full blast and drove out slowly doing the Miss America wave for people. Then we got up to the stop sign and "Mustang Sally" came on, no lie. We laughed and we sang and we drove out to Balboa Island and had a good time. That was fun.

The scans, the tests, well, that was no big deal. They said my brain is fairly normal, you can all pick yourself up off the floor now, although I have ADD and there was, of course, signs of the depression that has plagued me these last few years.

All in all, we had a good time. I did, anyway, Chris was probably sick of me and eating.

Chapter 2: Brain damage

The scans did show some residual brain trauma, but I was knocked around a bit as a kid, so that's not news. The big surprise in the scans was how normal my brain was, to Bill's chagrin. He was hoping that would explain my leaving.

The tests did indicate significant ADD. I've wondered about that because I can't do one thing, I have to have the TV on in the kitchen or I have to play a video game or read a book while I watch TV, or I have the TV on while I'm doing the computer. I hate to hear speakers, unless I can play a game or read a book. If someone talks too long, I get really irritated. Just knowing the problem is real makes me feel empowered in a way. I can punt.

I've had a couple of other revelations about myself and my flaws. I've realized what a problem I have with spending. I'm incredibly honest, I would never not pay my bills or try to put them off on others, but I can't control myself when I spend. Well, that's not true, I haven't bought a Ferrari and my credit's good enough to do so. But I'm extravagant and generous and I like nice hotels and good food and the luxuries. Plus when I'm down, I go buy something new and I feel a bit better. I suppose it all has to do with a deprived childhood and a problem with delayed gratification. I'll wax poetic on this in Chapter 3.

Also, I realized I'm sort of obnoxious. I always think I'm friendly and charming, but sometimes it doesn't come off that way with others. I'm going to work on that in myself. I insulted the psychiatrist by asking her where she was from (her last name is Akeshi and she looked middle eastern), and she took it badly when I offered to read her palm (it seemed okay to me at the time).

Chapter 3: Falling in Love again, I hope....

Things are much better between Bill and me. Knock on wood, I think he's truly changed. One way he's different is that he wants the grandkids around all the time now. He used to resent it when I wanted them and be mean, but he's changed now. He wants them now! He goes to get them! While I was gone, he realized how empty his life was without us messy people in it. He's made a geniune change there.

He's been pretty patient with me the last two montsh since I moved back. I've been an emotional high-strung basket case, given to spending days in bed sobbing and taking offense over every little thing. But after going to the clinic and adjusting medication and adding vitamin supplements that have been helpful, I'm doing ever so much better. Knock on wood.

I've had a personal epiphany about the things that motivate me (see above)and how I've substituted anger for sadness in so many situations. I'm learning to name the feeling and what happens and to handle things in life. I have hope.

I'm making myself my priority and Bill is next. Everything else comes after. We're learning a rhythm, he usually does the dishes and I cook, making sure he always comes home to a warm meal. I do the laundry and make sure the sheets and towels are clean and he does the shopping. I pay my own credit card bills and we are in a better place for that conflict being avoided.

Perhaps, please God, we are learning how to live with each other at last.

Chapter 4 - Old lady in class

The school I was working graduated a bunch of students and some were pulled and they started to cut hours so I had to find a new job. The best one available was at Convergys, a calling center for various businesses in the country. I know, I know, calling center. It's not sales, though, I couldn't do that. I'll be doing customer service for a cell phone company, checking people's bills and calling plans, etc.
I'm the oldest in the class at 57; there's a couple in their late forties and the rest are in their 20's or even teens. Boy, you can tell the generation gap! These kids run circles around me in their knowledge of phones and features and computers and they drive me crazy with their irresponsible behavior---they talk and play games while our "boss" (our instructor) is talking. I get so irritated with that rude behavior and think "Children, you are being paid to do this! Knock it off!"

On the other hand, they're cute and loveable and hungry and I take them food all the time because I can't stand to eat in front of them. Starving students working at a call center to pay their way through college, you know that drill.

I think I have it over them in staying power and maturity and responsibility. Well in staying power and responsibility. We're probably at the same level maturity wise. They haven't made me really mad yet, so I haven't lost it.

They are starting to call me Grandma. Besides the food, I'm prepared. Yesterday, a young kid said, "Anybody have any eyedrops?" And I pulled my eyedrops out of my backpack. Later, a girl asked, "Arlene, do you have tylenol?" Yup. And tape and scissors and pens and paper and gum get the drill. Oh, and good tissue for the newly pregnant unwed girls and those struggling to pay bills. I'm always down with the Puffs Plus.

Life is looking up. I will have Sundays off so no excuse to miss church anymore! Perhaps I will become a spiritual giant. Hmmmm....perhaps I'll become a bit less abnormal :).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nick's Bride

Oh, what a darling girl she is---I wish I could show you her picture! She doesn't look a thing like Sarah, she's blond and blue-eyed, I think an inch or two taller, beautiful in a different way than Sarah's green eyes and darker skin. She's smart and funny and kind, obviously since she was so geniune and welcoming to Bill and me as we attended the open house. We were nervous and wondering how we'd be treated but felt it was imperative to show Nick how much we loved him and to welcome this new girl into our lives.

She wasn't wearing her wedding gown at the open house, just a nice dress and it was quite informal, probably a nod to Nick's second marriage status in his hometown. I hope she did it up royal at her own home. Nick gave us big hugs and because there was no line, we spent a good deal of time visiting. He laughed out loud when we told him how ditzy Sarah was and how she'd confused a combined choir performance with a performance with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and she'd confused the dates. (She texted me on the wrong day asking, "so are you guys coming down tonight?" I almost wet my pants while I figured out she was mixed up, it was only 45 minutes before we were supposed to be there!)

He seemed a bit disappointed when I told him I'd advised Sarah not to go. I'm glad, though, that I did. There's no way Sarah could have stopped herself from looking beautiful and I felt that night was Stephanie's night.

I can tell that she'll be good for Nick, she seems to have a good head on her shoulders. She has a teaching degree and is teaching school up in Provo; she's more of a caretaker than Sarah ever could be, and she's a lovely person. She's accepted by his family and I think she embraces that home school, home birth, herb-oriented lifestyle as well. There will be less conflict in their home as a result.

Plus she said that if Nick goes to Chiropractic School in Seneca Falls, I could visit them. I so would, too.

I'm very very happy for Nicolas.


I've been to church exactly five times since uh, March 10th or something like that. I haven't been to Relief Society or Sunday School, just sacrament the five times. Three times were at my new ward in Parowan, which is a lovely, lovely ward. Twice were with Bill at my "old" ward in Enoch. The first time was scary and awkward and embarrassing. I got lots of hugs and people were nice to me, but still, I didn't really want to be there. I was humoring Bill.

Same with last week. I've been back home for six weeks now and finally felt okay on a Sunday morning, enough to go through the shower and hair ritual and drag myself to church.

I wasn't glad about it. I felt defiant and rebellious. I kept thinking, to all those kind loving faces, "yeah, I'm here, but I'm not enjoying it. It's not where I want to be." Again, I was overwhelmed with love and hugs and welcome backs. The husband of my former best friend almost tripped over himself to come over and grab my arm and tell me, with tears in his eyes, "It's good to see you!" What kind of bitch am I not to let that kind of love in? A pretty big one, I suppose.

I felt people were watching us, our body language. A single friend sat on the other side of us, by Bill and asked me how I was. I knew, because people had told me, that she'd said she'd be glad to take Bill off my hands if I didn't want him. I was nice, but we're no longer friends, as far as I'm concerned.

The spirit. Did I feel it? Sort of. I can't remember the opening song, but the sacrament hymn was "I Stand All Amazed" which of course if my favorite hymn, or one of :). The closing hymn was "God Be With You Till We Meet Again." We sang that at James' funeral. I took the sacrament with the words of the prayer in my head as well as the words of Christ, which I'm currently studying in the New Testament. He's been with me the last six months. Well, probably forever, but I have felt the Lord's strength carrying me so many times, truly the footprints in the sand.

One thing I did while I was away was to turn my day over to God, truly, because I knew I was too weak emotionally to carry myself. And He did, every time. He blessed me in countless ways. But since I've been home, I've found it harder to find that quiet time for deep meditation and prayer, to open that conduit to heaven. I've found that puzzling and upsetting. Because the priesthood's here and Bill honors his priesthood. The spirit should be here. Am I too busy now? I don't know.

I'm off work again next Sunday and am thinking of changing jobs to one where I'll have Sundays off. Perhaps attending will become more comfortable as I am more consistent and my attitude will change.

I know this: I've learned how others feel who have been in my position and I regret my insensitivity, even to my own child. I didn't know, I just didn't know how it felt and I thought I had all the answers. I hope I'll be kinder in the future.


"Garbage gut" that's what my first husband used to call me because I would just eat anything. I'm still that way. I guess the way I eat, you'd consider junk food a basic food group. A lot of the time, truly, I'm too tired to fix myself a nutritious meal. What a destructive cycle that can be. I remember once, I just lost my appetite for three weeks, stopped eating almost altogether and then I got really sick and weak. I still couldn't choke down food, but I drank Ensure for awhile and got feeling better. I don't know why that anorexia thing happens, but it does. And it's not fun at all and I cook awful when I feel that way. I loved the first couple of months on Cymbalta (although I gained ten pounds) because I had an appetite and cooked up a storm!

I had a bunch of lab tests in preparation for an appointment at a clinic in Newport Beach which treats people with depression, etc. and found that there is no Vitamin D in my body and that my thyroid is low. Personally, I think they're related to that tumor on my thyroid which they've never been able to definitively say is benign or malignant (my surgeon said, "If it's cancer, you'll die of old age before it gets you." What he didn't say is it could mess me up health-wise). I'm a down-winder and at risk for thyroid cancer.

However, I'm feeling a bit better since I've been taking my thyroid medicine regularly (I'm lazy about it for some reason) and Vitamin D. It's entirely possible that I'm mal-nourished despite the fact that I'm slightly overweight. I suppose malnourishment could cause weakness.

Anyway, girls, if you're feeling like me, check Vitamin D, B12, and Thyroid.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I think I'm crazy

Because I've been having nightmares and yelling in the middle of the night. I remember yelling, sometimes, but never the dreams. I usually sleep in the other bedroom, with the fan on, because of my work. Bill hears me, he says, so I must be yelling pretty loud because not only is the fan on, the door is shut and he sleeps with a breathing machine and with his hearing aid off.

My doctor has moved to northern Utah to oversee the state hospital, but I think I probably should see someone. I feel pretty depressed.

I am at the stage in my life where being crazy isn't cool or interesting---I'm over Oprah's "I was abused as a child and I'm nuts" shows. I'm over feeling unique because I'm crazier than other people.

And I feel a bit lost.

Last night, I yelled in my sleep and woke myself up. This morning, Bill casually mentioned it, as if I'd stubbed my toe or something. I just said calmly, "yeah, I don't know why." And, "Have a nice day" as he left for work.

Which goes to show a person can go crazy and act completely sane.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Re-United......and it feels so......

I started writing again here as a way of describing life as a middle aged Mormon woman who'd separated from her husband and dealt with menopause, empty nest, etc. I chose my private blog because of the personal nature of my discussions. There are, of course, things that are so private that I'll never discuss them, but if there are other women out there like me, I want them to know they are not alone.

I've been back a month now, today is an anniversary of sorts. I still have a bunch of boxes in the basement to unpack, but things upstairs are sort of together, back the way I had them and then some. I realized that the house was sort of empty. I tend to clutter things, even when the rooms are spotless. I like the bright vase, little meaningful things set around. The rooms are rounded out, they look like someone lives there.

This clutter mentality is one thing that has been a bone of contention between us. Bill likes things totally neat. I'll set a cute miniature (and vintage, I discovered) pitcher off center on a small doily in the kitchen window and he'll come in and put it dead center. I'll fix it and he'll come along and set it dead center again. I honestly think this would drive a lot of women crazy.

He's changed in that way. He's not saying much about my clutter-y, decorative ways. I think I'm ADD because I like to do two things at once. I'll balance the checkbook in the living room while I watch my taped episode of "America's Next Top Model" papers and checks scattered all over. He hasn't complained once.

He's eating a lot better. Food was a big bone of contention also. He'd butt in the kitchen and tell me how to cook stuff and we'd end up competing. When I was alone, I ate like a batchelor, a lot of frozen stuff, or sandwiches, or I'd have a steak--whatever I felt like! I actually ate less, but probably a lot of junk food.

He set out meat every day and tried to keep up with his meals, but he also resorted to frozen pizza and meat pies. He lost a lot of weight. Since I've been home, I've made lots of good food and enjoyed his enjoyment. He cooks some, too, but he's left the kitchen to me for the most part. He's bulking up and that's a source of pleasure for me.

The house, while cluttered and somewhat dusty, is cleaner. I wash every day and change sheets and towels (I'm mental about that stuff) and the house smells fresher. It had started to smell like my great-grandma's house, sort of a homey musty smell, not unclean, just old.

You know that song by Peaches and Herb "Reunited and it feels so good?" This doesn't feel like that. I'm still adjusting to this larger house, my little cottage felt so cozy and safe, and to having someone around. I'm a hermit to the max which has perplexed my ward members, I think, but I'm determined not to over do the social, serving scene like I did for so many years. I've taken a meal and visited a friend in the hospital, I'm not sucking my thumb here, but I'm not trying to save the world. I can't even save myself.

Bill and I are very careful with one another. One month and no screaming fights---a miracle! I still feel like this is his house, no entitlement here. I buy everything I need for myself and have insisted on repaying him when he's picked up things at the store. I've bought groceries, which evens out what I eat, and pay my own bills. It's not natural or comfortable for either of us. I'm still filled with resentment and he's still traumatized and sad, nervous that I'll leave again. (I tell him "listen, I'm so not packing up and moving again, I'm still tired from the last time").

He goes to church alone. I keep thinking I'll go with him, but the one Sunday I could, I got conveniently ill and was so tired I couldn't crawl out of bed, which I realize is probably so Freudian I qualify for medical books. Sometimes we pray together. He's started reading, a lot--just finished The Last Lecture, and we talk about stuff. Sometimes I tell him about my day at work. And he listens.

My daughters call me---and my best friend. I talk to my next door neighbor, the Relief Society president, who made sure I had good visiting teachers, and that's about it. I work. I'm still trying to dig myself out of the depths of depression. I wonder now if maybe I was still depressed when I was alone, but I didn't have all the other stuff to deal with, so I felt better. I don't know.

I've certainly had some dark, dark days and that old desperate feeling returns. However, I realize that my life alone was also very empty. I needed that rest and I'll never regret that, but I've talked to single women my age, divorced or widowed and they say they feel empty.

For the moment, this is reunited, an uneasy peace, and restoration. And God will take care of tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Nicolas is getting re-married

Yesterday, it came in the mail. I've been expecting it, I couldn't quite remember the date of the wedding, but I knew it was soon. I ran into Nick's dad yesterday at the grocery store and he said it was in a couple of weeks. I thought maybe Nick had decided not to invite us and I didn't blame him, his fiance's feelings are paramount right now. I urged Sarah not to attend the open house. Nick's bride is a beautiful girl and I didn't think anything should take away from her day, especially not Nick's beautiful ex-wife coming.

I'm not sure that's the right thing, but if it's wrong, it will do less damage than the reverse.

Bill handed me the mail and I immediately spotted the envelope (isn't it funny how I ran into his dad the day I got the invite). I opened it, studied it, and put it on my desk. I didn't say anything to Bill about it. I felt so incredibly sad. I studied the picture, trying to figure out---let's call her Jennifer--her personality. Would she be steady and loyal, as Sarah was not? Does she adore him? Looks like it. There's a lot to adore about Nick.

He looks relaxed and happy.

Oh, how I will miss him!

I will regret to the day I die the unhappiness our family brought into his life. I think if we hadn't pushed for the marriage, it wouldn't have happened and his heart wouldn't have been broken.

Jennifer looks like Sarah's polar opposite. She is blond and blue-eyed, to Sarah's dark hair and green eyes. She and Nick seem to fit together.

She's strong, I think, also. Strong enough to accompany Nick to our home when Sarah wigged out because a former boyfriend (who'd treated her very shabbily)--a guy she dated when she left Nick, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Sarah, true to her emotional high-strung nature, called on Nick for comfort. He came to our house, with Jennifer, and went down to Sarah's room to talk to her and calm her, leaving Jennifer in the front room with Bill, who was utterly confused.

Bill was totally won over and impressed by Jennifer, her calm demeanor and kindness. Now that Nick and Sarah are divorced, I think Bill can see more clearly how ditzy Sarah is, her flaws. That's not an awful thing, since he mostly sided with her against me when I got irritated and called on her to grow up. He called me mean and insensitive.

All that aside, I was in favor of the divorce. I believe----and I still believe----that the marriage was headed for disaster. Sarah needs a strong hand, someone kind and gentle, yes, but someone who will take care of her and set strong boundaries. Both she and Nick needed caretakers. I think they both tried, but they were going against their natures and sooner or later, the marriage would have ended. Thank God it ended sooner and with no children added to the mix.

I knew without a shadow of a doubt there was a girl out there for Nick who would make him happy without the baggage of emotional ups and downs. I knew it and I promised him over and over. I knew the pain he was feeling would end. And it looks like it has.

How I will miss him!

I recall a time, in the beginning, when I jokingly said, "If you and Nick ever split up, I get Nick." Sarah was terribly upset by that and at the time I was joking. She's my darling girl and I'll stick with her always. But Nick is smart and sweet and funny and I enjoyed him immensely.

But, come October 25, Bill and I will go to Nick's parents' home and hug him and Jennifer and tell them how happy we are and wish them the best and give them money to help out their new start and behave in a classy and generous manner. It won't be easy, we'll have to swallow our pride and risk feeling outsiders, as surely we will be.

And Sarah will stay home and cry. Hard day for everyone.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Hello, Exhaustion, My Old Friend

Several things happened to me, healthwise, in the six months Bill and I were separated. I was able to rest, truly rest, for the first time in a long time. I remember sleeping a lot of the time during the first couple of weeks before I went to work--and I only worked a few days a week during that initial month.

I would take naps, long ones, any time I got tired. I could stop and leave dishes undone, boxes unpacked, blogs unread and sleep. I loved that part of living alone. The little trailer park where I lived was shady and quiet, so nothing woke me. No loud cars, motorcycles, kids yelling, or dogs barking. No one knew where I was, save a few close friends and family members, so my phone rarely rang. Bliss.

I took long hot bubble baths, read and slept. I ate what I wanted when I wanted.

I also lost twenty pounds, ten of it from the stress of the separation, and ten when my sister died and I got food poisoning. Just dropped the weight. I had to buy new pants because my others were falling off me. Can't complain about that, although I've gained ten back.

I felt so much better physically during that time that my friends commented on it. I seemed like a different person, relaxed, without that constant frown of worry and resentment on my face.

Now that I'm back, I've bottled tomatoes, unpacked, cleaned, and cooked to beat the band. Poor Bill also lost twenty pounds, which he didn't have to lose, and I'm trying to fatten him up. I've made huge pots of soup and stew, casseroles, and even a wonderful dutch oven full of Beef Bourguignon. He doesn't have to do laundry, cook or clean. I want him to rest, also, to fatten up. Despite his insistence on neatness, his clothes started to smell old. He did laundry, but he just didn't keep up on things. He didn't take care of himself well. I want to do that.

We had a whole gardenful of wonderful tomatoes I just couldn't let go to waste, so I put up some for the coming winter. There have been no unplanned naps, leaving dishes in the sink. I've had my grandchildren overnight, delighting in their delight at new neighbors--with kids!--and grandma and grandpa living again in the house they all feel is home. Little chattering voices coming in and out for cookies and toys and bandaids.

And I've worked at my job.

I'm paying for all that today. Yesterday, after a day canning, cleaning, and cooking, I woke up literally unable to move from all the achy muscles and the dizziness. I limped around till I had to go to work, came home and collapsed till this morning. Today, a little less pain, but it's there.

This isn't Bill's fault. He's so happy to have me home he's made no demands, no nagging to do all the stuff he's been known to nag me about. This is all on me. I don't regret the things I've done, but I realize I am going to have to learn how to rest while being among people LOL.

I'm going to go to church, I've worked my schedule out that much, but I'm not going to go all hog wild engaging people and helping people and I've got to learn how to ration my time and energy so that I have something to give and don't end up flat on my back, literally and figuratively (in the emotional and spiritual sense) again.

You young mothers and wives, there's a reason you're tired and it's not because you're lazy. You do alot. We all nod in agreement when we hear lessons on not over-doing, taking care of yourself so that we can take care of others, then we drive ourselves to do more.

The trick to living Christ-like lives is not to do more (genealogy, bottling, scripture reading, etc.); it's to do less.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

There Will Be No Honeymoon

When Bill and I were first married and fought, there was that blissful honeymoon period when we made up. We'd be relieved and resolve to try harder and feel more in love than ever.

The last few years, not so much. Bill felt that more than I, but we both would resolve and feel we'd learned about that foxhole and try to avoid it. Things would be better until they weren't.

This time, though, I came back home with no expectations at all. I came home to do the right thing by God, Bill, and the kids. I didn't have any resolve except to take each day as it comes and lean on God with everything I've got.

Bill had some expectations and voiced some sadness and disappointment. There wasn't an explosion, just a little wistfulness, maybe some resentment when I insisted on being authentic.

So, now, what we have is a commitment (not without fear or trepidation) to the institution of the family; love that is so not blind, we could probably light up half of America with my clear eyed look at who we are and how we affect each other; and a devotion to God and the gospel.

Perhaps that's better.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Meathead fixes my computer

I am a total computer slut. I will suck up to anybody who can help me with my computer. My neighbor stopped in the other day while I was working on a form for work, to thank me for some clothes I'd given her. (I gave away five boxes of clothes---I gave her the best ones). I said, "Yes, yes, you're welcome, do you know how to work Excel?" And she did and she was a genius and I figured out how to make the columns smaller and it's a cherry form that I can take to work so the girls can say, "I don't want potatoes." (They are allowed to refuse one food item from each meal, in case they don't like something. But they have to eat a good diet).

And I made it pink and blue and purple because they are girls after all and we need that bit of color in our lives.

So, Sarah, aka Princess Buttgold, has a new boyfriend. Did I mention that she has turned over a new leaf? She has gone back to church, sat before a church court, been put on probation (they were gloriously merciful to her), is wearing her garments again and she is running with a total new crowd. I'm quite proud of her for that.

She just one day up and dumped all her bar friends and spent a couple of months buried in books and staying home except for work and church. She purged herself, in a way. The Lord sent some great kids into her life and she moved out of the home she was renting with 5 male roommates into a great apartment complex where she shares an apartment with students and kids with different goals than she'd previously had.

I hadn't met this boyfriend. Bill had and wasn't too impressed. Sarah wants my opinion. Well, my opinion is that she and this boy don't seem to go together in any conceivable way. I would never have picked him out of a lineup to go out with my daughter.

He is a returned missionary, with avowed faith in the gospel. He has a job and is attending college to get his MBA. But...nope, I can't see him with Sarah. They showed up yesterday on his Harley---he did have her wear a helmet. His hair is curly and long around the nape of his neck, but not long like, uh, Jesus. He has a beard which has a lot of red in it (I looked at that and thought, "I always thought Sarah's children would be redheads)and he's quite handsome in a sort of goofy way.

I was supposed to interrogate him, but when I found out he could figure out my speakers and fix my computer so I could get YouTube, I lost interest. I did ask him, "So, young man, what are your intentions toward my daughter?"

And he laughed and said, "I knew that was coming."

And I said, "Oh, I don't care, how come you can't get that adobe thing to work?" and we forgot to discuss his intentions.

They left, with Sarah hanging on the back of the motorcycle, and as they drove off, I thought, "Isn't that just every mother's dream?"

He kind of reminds me of the guy in "Say Anything" except not so deep. I also couldn't help but think of "All in the Family" and Archie, Edith, and Meathead.

He does like Mo-town and the old 60's music and he knew who B.B. King was, though. I'm too engrossed in my own problems to handle Sarah's--God is on this one, I'm sure, anyway.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

How in hell old am I anyway?

That reminded me of a story I read in the Reader's Digest. A true story. A publicist needed to know how old Cary Grant was, so he sent him a telegram saying: "How old Cary Grant?" Grant responded: "Old Cary Grant fine."

I have a habit of going to the next year the second I turn a certain age, because of my death wish. I want to hurry up and get old and die. For instance, when I turned 43, I started telling people I was 44. (I thought I was 52 for a whole year till my birthday and someone asked how old I was and I said "53" and my sister snorted and said, "Arlene, you are not 53, you're 52!" and I did the math and said, "Oh, yeah, right."

Well, last year, I got particularly confused. I turned 55, then told people I was 56then thought I really was 56, which meant 57, and thought I was going to be 58 today.

I did the math last week, and thought, oh crap, I lost two years. And I was kind of excited about being that close to 60. But I'm only 56. Well, 57, starting tomorrow.

For my birthday, Bill is giving me not mowing the lawn. He drives me crazy with how excited he gets about mowing the lawn. He gets up early, has a quick breakfast instead of the usual rigamarole five course meal, and goes out busily to prepare. He prepares to mow the lawn like some people plan a wedding. And he's very noisy about it and it takes all day. Then he waters and the noise just drives me nuts.

Luckily the neighbor lady's battery died, so he'll go out and mess with that in his shop. Quietly. We are also having crab legs for dinner and no cake, although I may ask him to make pie crust (I LOVE pie crust! which is basically flour and lard, gross, huh? I put sugar and cinnamon on it. It's the only thing I'll eat totally until it's gone. You'd think it would make me sick, but it doesn't. Nor do I gain weight from it.). Yeah, pie crust will be my cake.

Sarah and her new boyfriend, who is afraid of Bill because his debit card got rejected (a real oversight on his part) and Bill had to pay for the gas the last time they came and he's the cheapest guy on the planet. Then Sarah was dumb enough to tell him her dad was mad, so the poor kid is afraid of her dad. Oh! Where was I?

Sarah and her new boyfriend are coming up (from St. George) to bring me Olive Garden's potato sausage soup. My friend brought me a pedicure coupon, which I dearly need.

Traditionally, my birthday is punctuated by visits and phone calls and cards from friends all day long. I tried one year to have Bill and Sarah ignore my birthday but nobody else did and they felt bad. I hate this week because it's when James died and he called me a lot and sent me diamond and pearl jewelry and then he shot himself. Anyway, now I just grin and bear it and get through it. I was thinking I wish, if he had to commit suicide, he'd done it in a month I hate, like August, which is when David and Davey died, instead of this time of year which I love most of all.

So I go through this total conflicted emotion cycle of smelling the fresh crisp air and thanking God summer is over to the warm feeling of being loved to the terrible horror of my son's suicide.

I guess that's life in general. Anyway, today I'm 56. But in real body age, I'm 76 because I took a test on-line and I'm in terrible shape. A psychic who read my palm said I'd live until I'm 80, so I think I have four more years to endure. Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Back in the High Life Again

I can't tell you how chagrined and mystified I am about all the stuff I've brought back into the house. Like I wrote before, the house didn't seem empty to me (although, it did to Bill, he seems to have missed my cluttery ways).

Moving sucks, although we did it fairly efficiently, I believe, in only two days and two truck-loads, plus two trailer fulls. that grammatically correct?

I made him get the twenty boxes of "Christmas Items" still unorganized from last Christmas which he hastily threw into boxes after I left and put into the storage unit. I want to organize them, although it may take till next Christmas.

I also have about 40 boxes down in the basement, many are books, still to be unpacked and five boxes marked "fragile" in the dining room, which I shall unpack today. I suppose newspaper accounts for half the heft in the boxes because my visiting teacher carefully wrapped all my delicate stuff.

Now, I have satellite TV. Now, I have a washer and dryer readily available (and I wash every day--I no longer have to make my work shirts last two days).

I have two freezers-full of food and immense storage for when I get hungry and all the amenities of home. Our arrangement is odd, I guess; for the moment, we haven't arranged anything at all. Bill buys the groceries, sometimes I shop and pay for stuff out of my account. He hasn't incurred any extra debt by me moving back, so far. We just don't talk about it. I borrowed $20 for gas, but didn't need to use it so I just gave it back.

I have no idea how he feels about all that, but since money was an issue with us, I assume he's relieved.

Things here are tenuously peaceful, we are probably too careful around one another. I find that I'm still unable to forgive him for many things and so haven't settled in as I would if I were truly "at home." I feel like a guest.

How sad, huh?

I'm maintaining my separate checking account, paying my own bills, except for living expenses and insurance (and you know, I don't eat much, so I don't think that takes too much money)keeping my own mailing address in Parowan, and hanging on to my job with everything I've got. I'm keeping all the stuff I bought for my home which are now extra (canisters with sugar and flour, a mixer, the ironing board and iron, the small kitchen table, etc.) "Just in case." I'm saving money in case I need it for rent.

I realize that may not be the best course, but perhaps I need that safety net. I've always been commitment-phobic---I wanted to date other guys, but I didn't want the guy I liked best to date anybody else---and maybe Bill and I would never have married if he hadn't set a line in the sand. I cared enough about him not to play around and to marry him, you see.

My neighbors are being kind and giving me space, greeting me carefully. Some, I think, are angry with me. So be it. I haven't been to church and have no plans to do so. Bill is now one of those sad guys married to an inactive woman.

There is so much to work out. And I'm depressing myself. But---dang! I do have that DVR and the washer! Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Cheap Thrill of Moving

When I left Bill, back in March, I threw some stuff into an overnight bag and stomped out over to my sister's spare room. When I decided to stay gone, my daughter, Jessie, went to the house and packed up my computer, clothes, and a lot of furniture, piling it into her red Chevy truck.

My sister, Sarah and Jessie, and I completed the move the next day via a small wood trailer we own and two trucks and two cars. I can't believe I had that much stuff. And it hardly made a dent in the house. You could hardly tell I was gone.

I packed up my bedroom, clothes, etc. Monday. I've got boxes piled down the hallway of this small trailer---eleven in all, plus three laundry baskets and two garbage bags full of clothes and bedding.

I was thinking how I'd come to live with less LOL. I even took a bunch of stuff to DI and a huge heavy box of really cool books to the public library, trying to simplify.

I've heard people who move a lot don't have a lot of stuff. Well, maybe 20 more moves and I'll eliminate a box. Stuff multiplies exponentially!

Bill's bringing over the truck today and we'll see how much we can fit and move. It's weird to think of moving back into one's own house and I wonder how the neighbors will take it. I wonder if Bill will feel lessened for having to move his wife back into their home.

As I said, we're fairly well known in the community, mostly out of longevity, not out of riches or accomplishment or stature, and it's been embarrassing to have our problems made so blatantly public. Actually, I've been uncustomarily reticent on the subject (except here LOL). I usually blab to anybody about anything but this time, even when people pry (and hell, yes, they do) I will not discuss my marriage with just anyone.

I've written already about the hungry look in the eyes of some single women (and you know, my heart goes out, I was single and lonely once and I understand that Bill seems like Gregory Peck reincarnate to some)---and the men who've flirted (I'm fairly certain that the cute(sort-of, in a scruffy, convenience store worker who's trying to get sober kind of way)guy who works at the local small hardware/toy/dishes/little bit of everything store has a crush. Well, he did call me "Baby" the other day. To which I said, "I bet you call all the little old ladies who come in here "baby."

I've had people be extra kind and cheerful without mentioning my problems, but I can tell they've heard. They give me a little hug or squeeze on the arm as we pass in Wal-Mart. Others give me dirty looks and shun me. Really. Sometimes I feel like a celebrity with the furtive stares. I feel sorry for those who are trying to work out these most painfully intimate and sensitive problems with me staring at them via the People magazine.

We haven't been out in public together since March. Not once. I wonder what that will be like. I wonder what it will be like to have someone around all the time instead of this delicious silence, this delicious freedom of leaving a half eaten sandwich on the nightstand alongside the glass of milk when I turn over and go to sleep.

I'm afraid. I haven't changed much, nor, I suppose, has he.

I'm scaring the crap out of myself (catastrophizing, my AA sponsor calls it). So I'll go back to what's gotten me through the last six months: doing what's in front of me and leaving the rest to the Lord.

Crap. The sink is full and here I am blogging. Off to the real world. Anybody got any good boxes they can drop by?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Just Another Manic Monday

I'm not even sure that's the line in the song, but that's how it feels.

I work, usually, Thursday-Sunday, 3-11 pm, give or take adjustments for the schedules of others. I find it disconserting and often have no idea what day it is. The day I go back to work seems like Monday and my first day seems like Saturday.

So, Thursday feels like Monday and Monday feels like Saturday and others get incredibly confused when speaking with me as we sort out where are and what day it is.

Today, though, it's Monday. I'll be moving back in with Bill in our home in Enoch on Wednesday. I've asked my visiting teachers---who've never been to my home---to come help me pack up my kitchen and front room. I've never even met one of them and only spoke to her when I called to ask for her help! I figured that would count for the last six months.

They've tried, we've just never been able to jive with our schedules. I'm going to ask that I get letters when I move home, I don't want visits. I feel a vague sense of unease at my reluctance to interact with others and wonder if I'm truly getting agoraphobic. This is so unlike me not to reach out and have multitudes of friends that I'm sure my old pals "back in the hood" will have some adjusting to do. Maybe not.

(Parenthetically, I've realized, not unhappily, how quickly people get over you when you're gone! We are all expendable and I find that comforting.)

Today, I have to sort out our storage unit to contain my furniture, bought or borrowed in the separation (I have the cutest little round kitchen table, with two chairs, bought from Wal-Mart for $139!---I put it together myself), begin to take some stuff home, small boxes that will fit in my car. Maybe all my nice dresses and blouses, which I seldom wear.

'm going to be very careful with the stuff from my sister's funeral, which is still stacked in my spare room. There are dried flowers from the wreaths, which I intend to put into frames for my niece and nephews, CD's of the funeral, which I intend to copy, letters and pictures which I intend to sort out. All are not for myself, they are for her children, especially for her daughter, who only found out about her mother's death two weeks after the fact and who hasn't been heard from since.

I've bought some stuff for my grandchildren to play with over here. They'll be added to the piles of toys especially for those beloved little bodies. I'll be taking only my computer, my dishes, and my clothes back home. Oh, and of course, my books. (You know, I bought a set of encyclopedias back in 1978 and I use them all the time---especially when I read, looking up facts for context. I bought them on time, making payments for three years. I consider them to be one of my best purchases, because they're pretty good for being so old and out of date).

Bill and I are both pretty uptight about this move. It's sort of make or break. I can't bring myself to commit, but I feel that for my famiy's sake, I must attempt to reconcile and that can't be done while we're living apart. My home doesn't seem like home. It's a scary place.

But, I'm taking it one day at a time these days. So, I'll pile stuff in my car and run over to Cedar and pile that stuff around the house and come home and vegetate till tomorrow and hope the spirit hits me and all somehow becomes well.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Just Another Working Day

I've only been to church four times since March 16. Most of those Sundays, I've worked, usually from 1-11 pm. I work a couple of extra hours because I'm in charge of the Arts & Crafts program at the school. (I'm not crafty, but I'm organized).

I'm now the inactive woman in my ward. It's been kind of nice not to have the phone ring with requests and notices of meetings.

I still pay my tithing and study the scriptures and read the Ensign and abstain from alcohol. I just don't go to church. I don't keep the Sabbath sacred, which bothers me, but I haven't entirely left the fold.

On the other hand, my life is more peaceful and I feel more spiritual overall.

I think I'll stay inactive when I move back home.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Middle aged Mormon women running away from home in droves

I'm puttering around slowly organizing things to pack up for the move back home. One of the girls at the school is getting ready to graduate and go home and she's so nervous about it. I can relate to her. What if it doesn't work out?
Since I left Bill in March, many of my friends (and some perfect strangers) are telling me of their envy. Not the men---the women.
I'm coming to the opinion that the middle aged Mormon woman is tired. We've raised our kids, tried to follow the prophet and support our husbands and now we're bone dog tired.
So many friends have said they envy me in this quiet little trailer. So many have voiced their dissatisfaction with their marriage and their lives. Many, like me, are having rebellious thoughts about the devotion to church and family which seems to have sapped them physically, emotionally, and even spiritually.
Leaving Bill, getting set up here, getting this scary, scary job and going out into the world alone, is one of the bravest things I've ever done. Going back to him will probably top that in demanding even greater courage on my part.
I have no answers. I'm leaning on the Lord, one day at a time, and hoping I'm doing the right thing.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday, August 29 um, life in the fast lane

I decided to write this as truly a journal of sorts. So, I will provide background.

So, Bill and I got in another big fight and I left and moved to a little cottage in an RV trailer park in Parowan. My cottage (aka glorified trailer) and the park are very clean and well kept. The park is quiet. I have no neighbors on either side and just got a few across the "street." Two quiet old guys in camp trailers.

As I said in my previous post, I'm working at a private girls' school which is a totally new experience out of my comfort zone big time!! But I love it and enjoy the challenge and maybe someday I'll write about it at length. I'm learning so much about life and people (they really do lie) and myself and what makes me tick.

My little sister died suddenly of MRSA a month after I left Bill and that blew me away. I still can't believe she's gone and I can't feel her spirit and a part of me died with her. Not many people can relate to how close I was to my sisters. I did my best to take care of them when I was a child and I love them so much. Only my children and Bill are more important to me.

I started out working five days a week; now I'm down to 3 1/2. Which is nice.

My day at work begins at 3 pm. On weekdays, I get an hour to clock in, get a radio (we have to have one, although some are broken and there's always a rush to get a radio) and go to each unit and check out what I might be dealing with that day---an upset girl or a sprained ankle, that sort of thing.

On a quiet day, we get the girls through study hall and tuck them in. I love that time of day when they're all showered and safely in bed. I used to love it when my kids were safely in bed, also.

I get off at 11 pm, go home and watch TV, eat a snack and wind down. My days off are usually spent in "Bill's house" doing laundry, shopping, and hopefully winding down.

I spend much of my time alone, which I love.

The thing I've realized is that I am a solitary person. I've forced myself to be artificially involved with tons of people because I felt they needed me---perhaps they did. But I'm learning I must feed my own soul first.

So, when I move back, and I'm planning to on September 10, I intend to stay in this mode. Quiet, alone, focusing on myself and my relationship with God and putting first things first. That would be my health--physical and emotional and spiritual---and my marriage and my family. Really, that's a lot.

Today, I'm doing the dishes (aka doing what's in front of me) (I don't have any clean ones LOL), making my bed, blogging, and visiting my mother. Then I'll go to work, which provides endless variety and opportunities for stress. It's different stress, though, stress I can leave behind.

This is skeewampus. Hopefully, it'll smooth out as I go along. My main goal is to write about mid-life crises, menopause, empty nest, and accompany mental illness and marital problems. For those women who might be experiencing the same thing. God bless us, every one.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Life today AKA "Anne's Midlife Crisis"

This isn't for comments. I've blogged about my new life on Mormon Mentality, but have tried (for me LOL) not to get too personal due to the nature and purpose of that blog.

I need an outlet, though and I wonder if there are other women out there experiencing the same thing.

I always rise early, habit, maybe. I hate it, I wish I could sleep till noon. I work at a school for troubled girls---I don't know the PC phrase. It's called an academy and it's an accredited high school with four/five teachers and a principal, a computer lab, a pretty good library, etc. It's a home where we practice behavior modification in the form of firmness, consistency, structure, etc. Basically, I think we do what parents of troubled (think drugs, that sort of stuff, not homocidal maniacs) teens would do if they had the stamina and/or the money.

The girls are never, never unsupervised and we are pretty strict, although not mean. No one is abused here, although you forget their snack and they willl scream bloody murder.

I'm prohibited from writing about individual girls because I signed a confidentiality agreement, but maybe I'll write about the experience later.

Back to my day: I rise early, although it's perfectly quiet around here. Trailers on both sides of me and across from me are vacant, except when their owners pop in and out for an occasional visit. I can hear birds and traffic---we're near the freeway. I stumble out and get the paper, drink a cup of herbal tea and take my morning medications. Slowly I wake up.

I live a bachelor life. Sometimes I eat a frozen waffle, sometimes an Klondike bar, sometimes nothing. Once in awhile, I make bacon and eggs for breakfast. I seem to feel better those days. Wonder why, LOL.

Sometimes I eat nothing until dinner at the school, which is pretty much institution food and usually grosses me out. I've gotten onto these cherry chocolate candy bars that we called "Cherry-A-Let" when I was a kid. I need that belly fat drug now.

I run the dishwasher about once a week, go to the laundromat once a week, or wash at what everyone calls "Bill's house" now.

I can hardly believe things have happened like this so quickly. I suppose readers have said, "could've predicted that." I know friends and neighbors are alternately stunned or well, not stunned. Widows, divorcees, and single friends are coming out of the woodwork. People look at me a bit strangely at the grocery store, some saying, "how you doing? It's good to see you!" others hintingly asking questions, to which I, uncustomarily reticent, dodge the issue they want to hear about most. A really cool friend the other day said, "Arlene, how are you? Somebody said you and Bill are divorced---is that true?" I appreciated and respected her honesty and because I know her well, didn't attribute her questions to nosiness.

I'm moving back in with Bill in a few weeks, terrified, unsure of anything. I feel I have to give it a try and I must live with him to see if I CAN live with him.

One aspect of this life I think I'll keep it my hermit-ism. If that's a word. I think I'll be anonymous for awhile longer.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday, January 04, 2008

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Mormon Mentality is having stress

DKL misplaced the bill for our URL and is working on fixing the problems with our blog. I'm pretty sick of that pretty young girl staring at me when I try to log on to our site. I'm pretty sure he's frantically typing away renewing our contract and restoring the blog. I find I miss it more than I thought I would. Blogs are like old friends, even more because I only talk to my best friends sporadically.

I will be discontinuing this blog and posting solely at MM when it's fixed, but for now, here are some pictures from our Christmas. We had such a nice holiday. I'm exhausted, but I always am.

The first is Bill on his baby. He plows the whole neighborhood. The second picture is of the girls laughing when I made the comment that light was reflecting off Bill's head when I took pictures. This is the new dining room!

The third is our tree. I was so tired I just bought a bunch of plastic snowflakes at Wal-Mart and red balls and it turned out really pretty. The fourth is a big box Jessie and her fiance brought in--the fifth shows the excitement of the little girls! The box was so big they got inside as we were unwrapping and threw the tissue paper all over the place. The sixth is the mailbox her fiance made for us. Pretty cool, huh? Although, we got a lot of fishing presents for both of us and I started to think, "where am I in this picture?" It was a nice time all the way around.