I never promised you a rose garden.

I was going to post a YouTube video of an incredibly sappy song that I heard on the radio on my drive home from Wal-mart this afternoon, a song that pretty much sums up my emotional state today. And it was a totally mainstream, totally self-pitying, talentless love ballad that I wanted to dedicate to the one who's so lately done a bang-up job of hurting me. BUT.

Did you feel the "but" coming?


I stopped alongside of the road to check my mail and there it was: an unexpected package, wrapped in one of those bright yellow manila bubble mailers, sitting in my mailbox atop a pile of junk mail. And it had my name on it. I saw the return address and smiled.

It was just a bit of happy mail, but it lifted me.

I had solid proof, to turn over and over in my hands, that I will come out of this okay. How do I know? Because these last few years I have changed. I have grown, without realizing it. I have found the strength to articulate my feelings, to reach out to others, to forge connections. I did it without even knowing on a conscious level that my emotional needs were not being met at home.

No more posts dedicated to the ghost of what has been, what could have been, what will never be.

From here on out, it's all me. On my own. My voice. Saying what I need to say. Saying what I know. Grasping unflinchingly towards what I don't know, but want to find out.

I will stand fast; I will refuse to let anyone make me believe I am not strong.
This is me:

I weigh 162 pounds. (It was 160 before I pounded down that Frisco Melt and Butterfinger shake last night at Steak-N-Shake. No matter.) Overall, I am happy with my body. My arms and I have the occasional squabble when I accuse them of being flabby and they accuse me of eating too many Poptarts. My soft belly complains when I squash it into my size 12 jeans. I tell my belly she can suck it, because I'm not about to buy 14's. Sure, I could stand to lose some weight. But I am every bit as loveable at 162 as I am at any other weight. I will let no one convince me that I would be a better, more beautiful, more worthy person if I dropped 40 lbs.

I only have a Master's degree in English. I work as an adjunct instructor, teaching composition at a university. I do not have a doctorate. Right now, I don't want one. I chose to end my schooling when I did because I wanted a job, not a career. I wanted a baby. I wanted to work part-time so that I could focus on raising a family. I do not regret that decision. I am good at what I do. I'm a great composition instructor--not the most orthodox or even professional, perhaps--but I am a great instructor. My students leave my class better writers than when they arrived.

Also, I'm a damn good Mom. I will let no one convince me that I should be doing more with my life.

I rarely make my bed in the morning. I'm really bad about making sure that Eliot brushes his teeth. My house is perennially dirty. I can't cook. I'm completely tone deaf.

But ya know what? I am enough, and I am worthy of being loved. All 162 pounds of me is worthy of being loved. I deserve to be treated with respect, and even, dare I say? kindness. I deserve affection. I deserve to laugh more often than I cry.

(I also deserve an equal share of the house we bought together and at least half of his retirement account. *ahem* oh excuse me...did I say that last part out loud? Oops. My bad. See what I mean about not being perfect?)

By the way...that awful song that I didn't subject you to? You can thank Nancy for sparing you that. ;)


There is nothing more boring in the universe than other people's dreams. And yet, here I am telling you mine.

I am disturbed by my dreams.

I've always had vivid nightmares featuring myself in some completely freakish scenarios in which I often die. People say if you die in your dreams, you die in real life. Not true. I'm still alive. Last I checked.

I woke up this morning a few minutes before five o'clock, and apparently I had been either thrashing around or doing that strangled screaming thing that I do, because I woke Eliot up as well. (He's been crawling in bed with me a lot lately, and frankly, I don't mind the company.) I had been dreaming that I suddenly became unable to breathe, that my chest felt as though something were crushing it, and I couldn't speak. I had to use emphatic, frantic gestures to alert my sister and mom that something was wrong. Somehow they were able to diagnose me as having a collapsed lung; as soon as she said it (I don't know whether it was Mom or Elecia), I realized that, yes, that was exactly what was wrong. My left lung had collapsed.

The dream then switches scenes to some sort of rudimentary doctor's office, where a scary looking dude with wild hair and dirty scrubs shoves a gigantic pair of leather(?) tongs down my throat and pulls out, not one, not two, but THREE live rats, one at a time. I can feel them struggle as they're pulled up and out of my mouth, and they scratch and tear me from the inside.

That isn't even the worst part.

The worst part is that the "doctor" concludes that there is one more rat down inside me, but he can't reach it, so he's going to have to leave it in there. The pressure on my chest is somewhat relieved, but I can still feel a lingering heaviness and the squirming of the remaining rat and he struggles inside my left lung.

Is this psychotic or what? I think the part that disturbs me the most is that the tongs are leather. Why are they leather?!

So I'm sitting up in bed, completely freaked out, thinking, "Egads, I thought I was crazy yesterday, when I woke up with a random Rick Springfield song running through my mind. Bring back the Rick Springfield! I'll take him over lung rats any night! What twisted, sick material lurks in my brain that leaks into my consciousness at night? How did it get there? I don't watch horror movies. I don't like gristly television dramas about DNA evidence and blood splatter patterns and rotting corpses. I don't even read Stephen King. So where does this crazy shit come from?


Eliot sits up and blinks a few times, sleepily, and asks, as though we're in the middle of a conversation already, "What's the green one's name?"

I'm puzzled. "The green one?"

"Yeah. The blue one that plays music is DJ, but what's the green one's name?"

And then I know he's talking about the characters in the Disney film Cars.

"Boost?" I offer.

"No. That's not it. The green one!?"

"Oh. You mean Wingo?"

"Yeah, Wingo. That's it. Wingo. He's green."

He turns back over on his side and sighs.


"Yeah, buddy?"

"I love juice."

"I know you do, sweetheart. Go back to sleep."

"Night night, Mommy."

"Night night."


I envy Eliot his ability to dream about Cars, about the things he thinks about most often during the day, and the things he loves. But mostly, I'm relieved that he apparently didn't inherit my gene for crazy-ass, twisted nightmares. I gave him asthma. I guess that was enough.

Tonight when I go to sleep, I'm going to cross my fingers and focus my thoughts on dark chocolate, my pink Chuck Taylors, and the movie You've Got Mail. We'll see what happens.


You better love somebody.

I have some confessions to make today.

Several of my bloggy friends have done posts like this in the past (notably Nancy and Suzanne), so here is mine. Couldn't resist any longer. I'm really just an exhibitionist at heart. Like y'all didn't know that?!

1. This morning I woke up with a Rick Springfield song stuck in my head. I have no idea where it came from; I probably haven't heard this song since I was eight.

2. I have always hated the way my voice sounds.

3. I feel extremely guilty for not wanting to play cars with my son. It's just not that much fun, okay? I'm sorry!

4. No matter how many times I try it, I will never like sushi.

5. I fall in love too quickly and too strongly.

6. I've never met a chocolate I didn't like.

7. I miss my granddaddy.

8. I love talking to students one-on-one about their writing, but I hate grading papers.

9. I may very well be addicted to Pop-tarts.

10. I can talk about anything on the Internet, but I'm painfully shy in person.

Anyone else? Confessions? I'm still puzzling on the Rick Springfield thing. That must mean there are synapses in my brain that contain other information I haven't accessed in years. Mind-boggling!

What song has been stuck on your brain's playlist lately?


Trying to rid you from my bones.

I fell asleep the other night with this song on my iPod set to repeat. (I know, I know: wallow much? Whatever. Suck it.)

With many thanks to Seth, who introduced me to the Decemberists and who continues to compile the best playlists ever. He also doesn't bat an eyelash when he receives text messages from me re: my bowel movements. In my book, this makes him a very nearly perfect human being.



postickle = a frozen juice treat, generally packaged in a plastic tube or on a stick

puhghessti = pasta with sauce

heckatopper = a flying machine with rotating blades

A few weeks ago, in the car on the way to daycare, Eliot confesses, "Mommy? Sometimes I call [insert name of his daycare provider], "Mommy." I don't know why I do that!" He crinkles his nose and gestures with upturned palms and shrugged shoulders to show his confusion.

I assure him that it's quite alright. He spends a lot of time at _____'s house, and she loves him and takes good care of him just like Mommy does.

Later, at home, he yells, "Hey, [beginning of the name of his daycare provider]....uh...I mean...Mommy?!"

I laugh, "Did you just start to call me _____?

"Uh. Yeah!" erupting into giggles

"Well okay then, Baby C____!" [name of other child at daycare]

"You call me Baby C____?! Okay. You ______. [name of another child at daycare]

This back and forth name calling continues with growing hilarity, until we've named everyone at daycare and all of the family members we can think of. He's all but rolling in the floor as he starts in on fictional characters.

"I'll call you Mickey Mouse!"

"Okay, Pluto."

"No--you a Handy Manny!"

"Whatever you say, Pat the Hammer."

"Diego! You Diego!"

"Sure thing, Baby Jaguar."

I love this game. It reminds me of a similar game Lib and I used to play when she was about Eliot's age, only then we would fill in the lyrics to The Aristocats song, "Everybody Wants to be a Cat." We'd take turns singing, "Everybody, everybody wants to be a ______ ," inserting first every animal we could think of, then people's names, and finally the names of inanimate objects we saw around us, usually "washcloth," "soap," and the like, because this game was routinely played while one or both of us was taking a shower. From there the game would devolve into delirious laughter, as we'd conjure up everybody wanting to be more and more outlandish and unrelated objects. "Everybody, everybody wants to be a roller coaster." "A frozen pancake." "A knuckle sandwich." "A coffee filter."

When I cried hot tears to a friend last week about my worries, that Eliot will resent me for not being able to keep our family together, that the divorce will affect him negatively long, long after all the papers are signed, that I'm not up to the task of parenting alone...she told me just to keep doing what I'm already doing. "Talk to him," she said. "Be there." "Love him."

I can do that. And when I arrive at ______'s house today, to pick him up from daycare, and he rushes into my arms, yelling, "Mommy!" as he almost always does, I'll bend down, lift him to me and say, "Oh, how I missed you today, Domino....er...uh...Special Agent Oso...I mean...that is...Eliot." ;)


Naked under my clothes.

I can't get anything done. I can't concentrate. I feel vulnerable. I've lost ten pounds (not necessarily a bad thing). I have nothing to say.

I know that I need to keep going, not in spite of the difficulty of doing so, but perhaps because of it. Each little step forward becomes more crucial and necessary. One day at a time. One hour at a time. Today I will grade essays. Today I will pick Eliot up from daycare and cook supper for him and give him a breathing treatment and put him to bed.

Tomorrow I will teach and hold student conferences. I will talk about thesis statements and the way that point of view affects tone, and the development of body paragraphs. I will be thinking about divorce and whether I've chosen the right lawyer and how I still can't bear to hurt this man who has hurt me over and over again. I will suggest strategies to my student writers for giving their readers a sense of closure at the end of an essay, while wondering to myself how I'll ever get closure on this, the only relationship I've ever had or known. How can I end this marriage to the man I've loved literally half my life, since I was a sixteen-year-old kid? Ten years ago I stood in front of nearly two hundred people and promised "for better or worse." What if this just happens to be "worse?"

On Saturday I will watch him drive away with our son, knowing that I can't follow.

After that I won't exist until Sunday evening, when my heartbeat is back inside my ribcage where it belongs.

And then Monday I'll walk the corridors at work, trying not to look at the floor. I will respond, "Good. Good," to colleagues who ask the obligatory "How are you?" as we pass in the halls. I will remind myself that my own personal drama is no weightier than my young, 18-year-old student's imminent overseas deployment with her National Guard unit, no more traumatizing than another student's embarrassed admission that he passed high school English without learning how to correct a sentence fragment, without even understanding what a sentence fragment is. My divorce? Isn't really as tragic as my student's withdrawal from the University because he needs to go home to be nearer his mother, who has just attempted suicide for the third time, or another student's absence, because her grandmother recently died for the fifth time this semester. (Well, okay...maybe not that one...)

I'm not the first woman to have been betrayed by the person she thought loved her most in the world. Hell, 50% of marriages end in divorce, right? It's not as though I'm alone.

Yet I feel stripped, naked, vulnerable, defenseless.

Even as I write that, I feel him inside my head, arguing, "You wouldn't feel that way if you didn't feel the need to tell the world every time you take a crap!" When he reads this post, as I know he will, he will be angry. He doesn't understand that I invite others in because I don't know how to get out. And I don't want to be alone.

Solitude frightens me. Silence is not golden.

And I'll stand here, lifting up my skirt for all to see, because I know that it means someone will come and stand beside me. And say, "Hi. I'm naked under my clothes too, you know."

As a matter of fact,
we all are.



Even though.

We will still make miniature strawberry cupcakes for Valentine's Day. With sprinkles.

When you cry out in the night, "Momma, Momma, I want to sleep in you bed," I will carry you into my bedroom and tuck you in beside me with no sense of apprehension or guilt.

We will sleep in as late as we like and turn on the television in the bedroom whenever it suits us. Blue's Clues at five in the morning!

We will still watch at the window as the trash truck lumbers down our road on Wednesday mornings.

We will still play crashing derbies with your Matchbox cars.

We will still take weekly trips to the library to play with the Thomas trains and choose new books.

We will still surf YouTube for videos of tractors, combines, and monster trucks.

We will be just fine, my son, you and I.