Thursday, November 30, 2017

and now a sandwich

It was earlier this week, while I was washing the dishes and Holden was playing with toys in the living room while a Pandora station played that I sighed and thought, "this feels like home." You know: a place to just be. A place that is comfortable. A place where you don't have to pretend.

My computer is plugged in now, my furniture is all moved into place. I decorated the Christmas tree. I bought plants which I water each morning. I keep this place so immaculately clean.

Days are falling into a rhythm.

Brandon tells me where he is going to spend each night, and he's always right.

I had worried about living on my own because of all the administrative work it would require. Steve has always taken care of scheduling repairs, remembering oil changes, paying bills, grocery shopping.

I thought I hated all that stuff. Well it's true I don't necessarily like it but it's also not that awful. I took Holden to the grocery store on Monday when it was quiet. I registered for a class without asking Steve to do it for me. And then today: I went and got my car door repaired on my own. I took care of it all.

Now I'm going to make myself a nice sandwich and eat it on the patio while the sun hits my face.

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Thanksgiving is a weird holiday. When I was a kid it meant Grandpa's house, for my favorite weekend of the year. In the first two years of college, it meant tacking myself onto someone else's family holiday. Once in Wyoming where I shot a gun at cans in the foothills, once in Saint Louis when I was zig-zag parting my hair. 2005, the year of my baby, when I lived alone in my small apartment in Omaha, my sister came from Wisconsin and stayed with me and we ate smoked turkey bagels and pieced puzzles together.

Since I've been married, we've alternated between my family's Thanksgiving and Steve's, more often Steve's due to convenience.

This year was to be the year of my family's Thanksgiving, but with divorce in full swing and people not yet knowing it, we didn't make plans to head back to the Pacific Northwest. I called my mother on Thanksgiving Eve once the boys were asleep and I heard my newest niece crying and my sister talking and my mother was making her famous rolls and there was so much going on that I wasn't a part of, as usual.

Mom asked if I had anywhere to go for the holiday and I said I did, I have this marvelous friend who not only invited me to her house for this holiday but also was with me on the fourth of July and sends me cards through the mail because she knows those are my absolute favorite. I made green bean casserole and drove to her home where her girls were on the lawn waiting for me. I rolled down the window and said, "can I drop by for dinner?" in an accent and they giggled because they're the most delightful age (ten). There were name cards set on the table in the living room to designate where we each sit and mine was inscribed by one of the twins in the most gorgeous kid affection that I almost cried right there.

Then we ate and I gorged myself on tortilla chips and a cheeseball (which more people should have as an option in the lackluster Thanksgiving spread). Then we toured the small town and played Yahtzee which I lost very miserably (I even had to cross out my Full House). I drove back and thought not of what I was missing by not being with my family, but instead of what a good time I'd had in a Friendsgiving.

And I was thankful for that: the surprises that pop up that we can make the most of or lament.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


There are times when I sit in the garage with the car idling, willing myself to turn off the ignition, drag myself up the stairs, and go about my day.

And then, there are homemade pancakes.

There are times when Brandon is crying to his father, asking when everything is going to go back to normal, when mom is going to move back into the blue house.
There are times Brandon gets disobedient behavior colors at school.

There has been a time at school drop off when Brandon started crying and then I started crying too and his Kindergarten teacher came and wrenched him from my arms and said he could lead the class with her and made him happy and I walked back to my car with the cold wind freezing my tears onto my face, wishing someone would calm me down and make me happy.

We have been upended.

And then, Brandon falls asleep in my arms and his body is warm and his head leaves a sweat mark on my shirt and I smile and lie down in my bed alone with a book and I realize not everything has changed and I can totally do this, I am a strong independent woman.

There are times like today when the boys put on gloves and pretend to be trash men and then they rescue their stuffed animals who they call pets and they are so alive and vibrant and even if they're sad, I know they can pull themselves out of it.

There are times when I sit at my computer, crying into my coffee and Holden says, "I'll make you better" and brings me a blanket and kisses me on the cheek and I think, god damn it, kids really can do everything. They help us, ground us, heal us, fix us, make us realize the length of our problems  Our problems are only as wide as we let them stretch.

But there are times when I open my new garage door and Holden, from the back seat, sighs and says, "home sweet home."

There are times when Brandon takes long showers at my apartment and marvels at the water pressure, how perfect it is, and I record him singing so I can remember that despite what people tell me, that I've ruined our family and destroyed my children, the kids are alright.

Upended, yes.
But not ended.

There is a difference.

There are times I make us my favorite childhood comfort foods for dinner. There are times we eat endless breadsticks at Fazoli's. There are times we eat cereal. There are times we share a bag of Doritos and watch a movie in my bed.

We are feeding ourselves in the ways we know how, as imperfectly as that is.

Still: we are still feeding ourselves.

In this new life so precariously perched in two separate places, we are finding the path that connects them.

I am writing again. Running. Finding my balance.

The boys are doing puzzles and reading library books and sleeping in their new bunk beds.
Keeping their balance.

I am alright, or I will be. The kids are alright, or they will be. Just a little upended for now.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fucking Finally

Whenever I've thought of what I want to do, the only things I ever came up with were writing and teaching.

I have been writing. But we all know that doesn't pay the bills. So I'm dipping my toe into the water of teaching. Just a tiny baby toe. I'm working one afternoon a week, at a high school. There, students meet after school to write and read poetry. In the spring, they will compete in a spoken word poetry competition.

I'm going to be a part of it all.

I was excited yesterday, to be in a room full of people who wanted to write, who are already writing, at fifteen or eighteen. I wish I had been involved in such a thing during high school, to have the healthy outlet for coping with raging hormones and petty friendships. I would've known that there are communities of people who are also passionate about writing and I would've anchored myself in one much sooner. I want to do high school all over again.

These kids are going to write some good fucking poetry. Really good shit. We're going to do it together. It's going to blow all of our minds.

I'm getting paid to write and teach writing. Can you believe it?
I'm thirty-four and I'm finally figuring my life out.

Fucking finally.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Adulting So Hard

This is hard to admit, but here goes:

Steve and I are separating.

To say I'm overwhelmed would be such an understatement.

On Friday, when I walked into the office to get my apartment keys, the office manager said I needed my co-signer with me. So I called Steve who thankfully dropped everything and drove over so I could get into my new place. The office manager asked for the form proving I had set up gas and electric. I had set up neither gas nor electric. She let me in anyway (with gas and power on) even though the paperwork says they won't.

I am so thankful for the kindness of strangers.

The weekend was a whirlwind of hauling boxes up the stairs and unpacking them, of finding new places for old things to go.

On Monday, I drove Brandon to school and then went to Steve's house with my laptop to use his WiFi. I scheduled to have my utilities started. I called to get my own WiFi. I texted Steve to find out what routers and modems are and if I should buy or rent one.

Yesterday, I drove to Lincoln to order a couch. Holden fell asleep in the car so I sat in the parking lot returning emails I had forgotten about, crying. This was my first time missing a school deadline. I woke up Holden and we ordered a couch which won't be here for 8-10 weeks. I bought a chair which we finagled into my car with only one seat down, Holden in the other one. I bought a trash can from the hardware store which rode in the passenger seat. I had so many blind spots: behind me and next to me. I could only see what was going on around me by contorting my neck.

What a perfect metaphor.

I stopped and picked up a router/modem and installed it myself. I have WiFi now.

Last night I stayed up late unpacking the last boxes. I vacuumed the floor, loaded the dishwasher. Today I submitted my workshop materials five days late. I set up automatic bill pay for my utitlies. I made an email folder called "Adulting So Hard."

I am learning to live this way.

Every day is easier than the last.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Halloween 2017

It's always cold here on Halloween.
But this was the first year it snowed. Just light snowflakes that didn't stick to much, but snow nonetheless. I looked up into the streetlights and watched them fall as the kids ran from house to house, shivering in the snow, collecting candy.
This is embarrassing to admit, but when I was nineteen, I went trick-or-treating in West Omaha to get some candy for my dorm room. I know, I know. I was one of those kids. But I remember I was wearing flip-flops because I hadn't accustomed myself to the weather here, how it gets cold quickly. One day you're wearing flip-flops and the next you're freezing your toes off.
Brandon was a trooper, he could've trick-or-treated all night. But Holden my homebody said, "let's all go home." So we did. And we ate a lot of candy. And watched Charlie Brown. Brandon manned the door and handed out candy to kids much older than him and Steve and I marveled at how big he's become, how grown up sometimes.
But happily, only sometimes.