Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Old Things Are New Again

Maybe it was out of new-in-town loneliness, maybe it was boredom, or maybe it was the spam I got, but whatever the reason, I recently popped on over to Classmates.com. Most people have done it at some point or other, but I, at least, used to get pretty disgusted and bored within the first 5 minutes because you couldn't actually communicate with your friends. I mean, what's the point of knowing they're out there somewhere if you have to pay $30 to just send an email to see if they remember you? Come on... Even the new Facebook is WAY better than that.

Well, they've changed some things, and I'm starting to feel a little better about Classmates. You can leave messages on your own page, though you still can't see your own guest book or tell anyone how to contact you... well, not openly. Not if they catch you. But I digress.

I've been spending some time on Facebook lately, too. And I've found a few of my old friends on both sites. Some people I barely remembered, but the names rang a bell or two. As I've looked at their photos and other things they've posted, the memories have begun trickling back to me. With some people more than others. And it's interesting to see what's happened in their lives over the (many, many) years. (The swaggering Casanova got his master's degree? The obsessive knitter became a computer programmer? Who'd'a thought?)

As I pondered all this, wondering at times why I even bothered, I started to smile. It occurred to me that I was refreshing myself in the spring of my creativity. Writers know what I mean: every person and place and thing that we've ever known is stored in memory, waiting to come out to populate and furnish our stories. I have plenty of material. And now I have the tools to reach it. Can hardly wait for November.

Monday, September 08, 2008

In Retrospect: One Year

One year ago this weekend, my beloved husband, the man of my dreams, the light of my life, broke my heart into bits and turned my life upside-down. Because I loved him so much and wanted so much for our family to stay together, I responded with compassion and forgiveness. I tried extra hard to be the best wife I could be; I obviously had plenty of flaws.

In response to my efforts, my husband closed himself off from me. I cried. A lot.

Weeks went by, and I started to wonder why I kept trying when he seemed so uninterested. I still wonder.

One night he slept in the basement and I found a note in a woman's handwriting giving directions to another woman's house. It could have been innocent. He says it might have been. He doesn't really know, though. Apparently, he's given up rational thought.

That was only the beginning of what I found. In the next 12 hours, I had enough to start divorce proceedings. But I didn't. I threw the bum out, and when he called later, I chewed him out, too.

And then I took him back. Well, he'd confessed and said sorry, he'd gotten medical and psychological treatment, and he'd actually taken some steps to return to being the man I loved. I thought he meant it. I really wanted it to work.

It's not that I don't know that wishing doesn't make it so. I do. But it was more than wishing, I thought.

We started marriage counseling in January, and he started experimenting with his meds. I could tell instantly when he wasn't taking them, but he didn't see the difference. Therapy went poorly as he remained uncommunicative and unapologetic. "It's in the past!" he'd say, "Can't we just move on?"

I hear that's a typical cry of unfaithful husbands. I hate that I had to hear it from mine.

But I kept trying. My beautiful little boys kept me trying to hold the marriage together, no matter what. Seeing what #1 Son has gone through with his divorced parents over the past 11 years kept me resolutely opposed to putting my babies in that position, ever. I'd suffer if I had to, but I couldn't let that happen to them.

Finally, I realized that I couldn't shield them anymore. For starters, I overheard Pirate Boy saying to his little brother, "Daddy's a little crazy." More than once. And my husband was neglecting not only his family, but his work and school. When he did work, half the time the money never saw our bank account. It was getting desperate.

But you know what? I could have dealt with all that if only...

...if only my husband still loved me.

But he doesn't, and I can't take it anymore. I just can't.

And yet... like a hopelessly romantic idiot, I'm giving him one last chance. He has one year. One year to become the man the children and I need him to be. One year to be a decent husband and father. One more year.

Think it'll happen?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Real Life Adventures

It doesn't seem like it's been that long since I last wrote. But in the last 10 days or so, my little Punkin has had a great beginning to kindergarten-- and I think has learned that he does not actually ride the bus home from school. Pirate Jones is having a terrific time in 3rd grade-- not only learning cursive (which he's doing great at), but going beyond the keyboard's home row. They have typing class every day. And he loves it. Cool.

As a bonus, we got to experience serious small-town life over Labor Day weekend. Every year, this little town (much bigger now than it was when my grandparents lived here) has this agricultural celebration whose name I'd tell you but it pops right up on Google, so never mind. But there's a parade, a carnival, fireworks, a floral show, an art contest (in which this year my dad usurped his brother for the Honorable Mention prize), and all manner of very serious silliness. I don't have to tell you, the kids loved it. And I really enjoyed being able to sit out on the back steps in the cool evening air and watch the brilliant fireworks explode over the town park. Awesome stuff.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to keep up with my weekly deadlines, which isn't too hard given the slowdown in one project and the slacking writers on the other one. (OK, I need to get the whip cracking on them; I'm slacking, too.) I got my car registered on Wednesday (with both kids in tow, which ought to earn me a medal the way they were acting) and am feeling pretty good about that.

Thursday was an adventure. I walked the kids to school like I usually do, enjoying the cool weather and the sunshine, and was most of the way back when-- it sounds melodramatic-- I was attacked by a pack of dogs. Now, it wasn't a huge deal. I mean, they were small dogs and it was a small pack of them. I basically ignored them until a little Doberman-thing bit me. At that point, I had to face them down. "What the ---- do you think you're doing?" My next thought was how glad I was that the kids were at school. If they'd been around, I'd have had to wring some little dog necks, and I'd hate to have my boys see that.

I'd just barely showered and changed into less hole-y pants when I heard my phone go off and discovered a voice mail rejecting me for the condo I wanted up on the hill. Well, rats. Now, it's still possible that I can get into the (low-income) apartment that my cousin's just moving out of, less than a mile from my folks' place. That would be sweet. Here, the "low income" housing is well cared-for and gorgeous. Three bedrooms, three baths, manicured lawns and all. I'll let you know how that turns out. I am on a waiting list, after all.

When I went back to the school to take Pirate Jones some clean clothes (don't even ask), I mentioned the dog situation to the front office people, and maybe they passed it along, I don't know. Today I drove the kids to school and noticed several moms walking their kids and (leashed but alert) dogs along the route. I've been tempted to tell my kids what a cool thing happened just around the corner, but I don't want them to be afraid to walk in this neighborhood too. I'll just stick with them... and maybe take a stick with me.