But ... "
you open it, and the inside (with an orange happy face sticker) says:
Camp is GREAT!
M, D & K,
How are you? I'm fine. We had a great service
today. And for lunch we had hamburgers. I bought a
tee-shirt and a hat. Better go now! I will write
really funny thing about this is that Tracy got a letter from Kacie
today, too, except that Tracy isn't home this week so Lori opened the
letter and read it to me over the phone. Kacie was
complaining about everything!!! She said that she
was stuck in a cabin with a bunch of people she doesn't know; even
worse, according to Kacie, she's expected to SHOWER with these
strangers. A fate worse than death, in her mind.
She described the camp as not even being "like a real camp"
... she said it's more like a big "daycare." And
the food she described in OUR letter as being "ohka" is "rubber
hamburgers" in the letter to Tracy. So go figure
made it over today, by the way, and I finally, finally got to see "City
Slickers." I'd promised her months ago that I wouldn't watch
it with anyone but her ... a tough promise to keep,
since Ray kept offering to rent it, and Velma offered to loan me her
copy ... but it was a good movie, oddly more
affecting than I'd expected, and it was fun watching it with my best
Josh and Mak here today. They played happily in Kyle's room all day.
Letters from both of the girls!!
Lori finally over, we watched "City Slickers" -- good movie.
brought me some wine, I drank a couple of glasses but it didn't feel
right -- we wound up getting into a horrible screaming
fight over Grandma's money.
July 23, 1992
only halfway-decent day I've had all week, and I wasn't even feeling
all that great! Tired, cramps (period due any minute), nagging
headache ... still, I took a shower and drank some coffee
and felt much better by afternoon.
& Mak happily played Nintendo all day because the weather was so
crummy. I clipped coupons, cooked another pizza for our lunch,
read my old favorite "Mr. & Mrs. Bo Jo Jones." Letter from
Jamie, postcard from Mom, talked to Kyle on the phone.
Ray brought Ivar's fish & chips for our dinner.
July 24, 1992
couple of days later, and my ladies are coming home this
afternoon!!! I'm so excited, it's ridiculous! Their
bedroom is immaculately clean, and I put a vase of fresh-picked roses
on their vanity table this morning. Last night I sent Ray out
to buy a few small "welcome home" gifts for them -- hairspray
and mousse, nail polish remover, a teen magazine for each of
them -- these are arranged on the vanity with the
roses, along with some Avon goodies I got in the mail yesterday, the
new Avon catalogs and a postcard from their Grandma Beeson.
I've laid in a supply of chips, cookies and Pepsi for them, and I've
taped all their favorite TV shows: "The Price Is Right," "Saved By The
Bell," "Beverly Hills 90210," "The Young & The
Restless" (but just the stuff with Ryan and
Victoria) and "All My
Children.") Now I sit and wait for Jamie to call
from the church and say they're home.
the finishing touches on the girls' room this morning ... a
vase of fresh-cut roses on their vanity, beds made, laundry put
called at 2:30, and the boys and I walked over to the church to pick
her and Kacie up. They both ran to me, screaming!! So good
to have them home. They loved Camp Cedar Springs, definitely want
to go back next year.
surprise tonight -- Kyle came home too!! The folks
brought him home at 7:30 -- bought him a lot of new school
clothes, by the way.
Wendy's for dinner. Karen came by and paid me. Happy.
July 25, 1992
nice to wake up this morning and have everyone home!! Of course
the house is a mess already, the kids are killing each other, the noise
is deafening ... ah, maternal bliss!
Jay and I watched "City Slickers" -- she loved it, especially "Norman."
Might be babysitting for a new lady with a 3 yr. old daughter: put together a daycare résumé for her.
Ray rented "Hook," bought us pizza at Pizza Hut, but no one made it all the way through the movie.
July 26, 1992
here I am alone again ... temporarily, this time,
and by choice ... Ray and the kids just left for a
swim at Shannon South, and I've elected to stay behind and enjoy a
little peace and quiet. As thrilled as I am to finally have
all of the kids home this weekend, I still need an hour or so to put
dinner together and pick up the house a little and 'recover' from their
homecoming ... !
called at 2:30 Friday afternoon. "We're back!" she
announced. "Can you come get us?" So Josh and Mak
and I trudged over to the church to help them carry their
stuff. Kacie saw me first, and she ran over with a big happy
grin and hugged me tight. Then Jamie, who was standing in the
church doorway, shouted "MOMMY!" and literally hurled herself into my
arms, wrapping those long legs of hers around my waist (and nearly
knocking us both down in the process). It was funny and
unexpected and very sweet. After we got all the sleeping bags
and suitcases lugged home, the girls ran around the house in a flurry
of excitement ... hugging the kitties, exclaiming
over their clean bedroom and the "welcome home" goodies, asking for all
the latest news. It was a happy afternoon.
apparently, was an unqualified success ... much to
my relief. Secretly I had nursed the fear that Camp Cedar
Springs would prove to be a poor substitute for Camp River Ranch, which
is where I tried to send them originally. I was afraid that a
church camp might be too overtly religious for Jamie
... not enough swimming & outdoor activities for
Kacie ... etc. etc. But the first thing
they said -- BOTH of them
-- was "We LOVE Cedar Springs!," and that they definitely want
to go back next summer. So I was pleased. I teased
Kacie a little bit about the discrepancies in her account of camp food
and camp life in general (between the letter she wrote me and the one
she wrote to Tracy). She said, "Oh, MOM
they got on the phone right away, calling their friends and their
grandparents and generally alerting the world to their return, and then
we spent the rest of the afternoon pleasantly, watching the TV tape and
Late in the afternoon I received a happy surprise:
Kyle called me, and in that chirpy little voice of his he announced
"I'm coming home, Mommy!" Peg and Don brought him home at
7:30 that evening. He bounced into the house wearing a new
neon-yellow Batman T-shirt, carrying his Game Boy. ("Grandma
and Grandpa bought me Super Mario Land!" he shouted excitedly, and then
he proceeded to sit and play it for the rest of the evening, even while
Peg and Don were trying to coax a goodbye hug & kiss out of
him.) I think he was glad to be home. With the
girls I had no doubt, but with Kyle, it was harder to tell: the only
family member who rated a genuinely affectionate greeting from him was
Spud, the kitty! But I didn't mind. I was just
deliriously happy to have all three of my baby chicks back in the nest,
safe and sound.
warmer again: bracing myself for a hot week ahead. Kacie went to
church; Ray took Jamie, Kyle and I to Pay 'n Save, (where I) bought
some makeup, magazines, skin care stuff. John stopped by for a
Jamie and Kacie went to Angle Lake with the Bontempo
girls, Joey B. came here to visit -- then Ray took all
three of our kids and Joey swimming at Shannon South, while I stayed
home for some "alone-time."
July 27, 1992
grief -- you should see this house! It
looks like we suffered a major earthquake over the weekend.
Which, in a way, I suppose we did ... the KIDS are
home! Laundry up to the ceiling already ... not a single
clean towel in the entire house ... candy wrappers and magazines
strewn across the living room ... small brown footprints tracked
across the kitchen floor. Am I complaining? Not on
your life! There are some mornings when I love waking up to a
mess, because it means that my children are home, and that I'll have
plenty to do that day. This is one of those
mornings. I was actually out of bed before Ray this morning,
as a matter of fact -- at 6:15
-- feeling rested and recharged and ready for a day of work
and fun. By the time Ray got up, I'd already put the coffee
on and was outside in the backyard, cutting flowers in my
pajamas. I think he thought I was a little nutty, but it got
my day off to a nice start, walking around in the clear morning
air. It's 9:30 now, and already I've cleaned up last night's
dinner mess, showered and put on my makeup. Now all that's
left to do is the entire rest of the house ...
thing that amazed me the most about the kids being home is how quickly
the fighting started up again! As soon as Peg and Don dropped
Kyle off on Friday night, actually, they started fighting over the Game
Boy. They fought over who got to sleep on the
loveseat. They fought about candy, about phone calls, about
TV. By yesterday afternoon things got so ugly between Kacie
and Kyle that I wound up sending them to their rooms. Of
course this made me feel horrible, it being their first weekend home
and all, but they were driving me insane with their ceaseless, mindless
squabbling. The other thing that surprised me was how quickly
they managed to trash their bedrooms, not to mention the rest of the
house ... I'd spent so much time last week getting
everything just the way I like it, and within MINUTES it was back to
chaos. Oh well. Life per normal.
Monday. Getting back into the swing of things, kid-wise
... all three of mine plus Josh & Mak. Mom and Deb stopped by
for a little while this morning (Mom got home from her trip to
Mississippi and New Orleans last night), brought us gifts
-- a Civil War hat for Kyle, paper dolls for the girls,
stationery for me.
Jamie went to Nicole's to spend the night. Finished "So Big," Edna Ferber -- EXCELLENT.
July 28, 1992
Andrea called first thing this morning, asked me to watch the kids for
a couple of hrs. (Danielle got her hair cut SHORT! Very
cute.) Jamie gone all day, spent the night at Nicole's
work Ray took Kacie, Kyle and I over to the apartments to celebrate
Lori's 30th birthday. Had a good time. I gave her a
birthday bag full of goodies, a funny card. Toasted her with
Home around 9:30, fixed a quick soup and sandwich supper.
July 29, 1992
-- and due to get hotter as the week progresses. Moving
verrrry slowly today. "Heavy babysitting" -- Danielle
& Cody here most of the day -- Andrea paid me
$20. Potato salad, sandwiches for dinner.
Ray took the kids swimming at the apartments late this afternoon, left me home alone for an hour or so.
July 30, 1992
quick scribble, early in the morning. Due to get up into the
90's today, so I'm doing laundry now, hoping to beat the
heat. Would also like to pick up the house enough for it to
look 'presentable' .... it still looks like a
swamp ... I'd love to just kick back this afternoon
in front of the fan and enjoy a clean house & a good
book. Josh and Mak are here already, playing quietly in
Kyle's room: all three of mine are still snoozing (Jay in her bed,
Kacie on the loveseat, Kyle on the living room floor in a sleeping bag). I
never sleep late anymore. Even on mornings when I have no
babysitting or otherwise don't NEED to get up early, I still find
myself wandering around the kitchen at 6:30 or 7 a.m., sometimes even
earlier. It is the most peaceful time of the day for me
birthday was on Tuesday -- her 30th!
-- and we went over to her place that night to celebrate with
her and John. It turned out to be an especially nice
evening. Sometimes when we go over to John and Lori's it
turns into a screaming match between the two of them, with Ray
and I the uncomfortable 'audience' ... other times,
I drink a little too much and make a fool out of myself (tripping over
bicycles on the patio, knocking my wine over, saying things I regret
later). So I never really know what to expect when we're
invited over there. Fortunately, this was one of those
occasions where we're all in good moods and no one gets carried away
and I come home feeling fine. We stopped at Fisher Drugs on
our way over to their apartment and bought some last-minute birthday
stuff for Lori. I got her:
cartoon book about being "another year older."
- A pin that says "I may be a cruel and heartless
bitch, but I'm good at it."
- A coffee mug that says "You're one in a million."
- A funny notepad that reads "Her Own Boss: When I
Talk, I Listen."
- A funny birthday card.
stuffed all these things into a nice birthday bag, covered with a sheet
of black tissue paper (to commemorate her turning 30!), and Ray picked
up a six-pack of her favorite beer. When we got to their
apartment John had champagne ready, and we all drank a toast to the
birthday girl. Ray took the kids into the pool for a while,
and Lori and I sat at the kitchen table, chatting and listening to
music. It was a hot summer evening, but their apartment was
nice and cool. I was drinking wine, but at least I didn't
overdo it. ("Look!" I said merrily, as we were leaving at
9:30. "I can walk all by myself!") I had a
thoroughly good time, anyway ... one of the nicest
evenings I've had so far this summer.
Reached 90° but I managed it pretty well: got up early and had most
of my work done by noon. House looks nice. Josh was sort of
a pill today -- Karen asked me to give him a little extra
medication and it helped. Ray and the kids went swimming again, I
stayed home and made dinner (chili), read the paper. Kacie stayed
the night at Tracy's. Jay and I stayed up until midnight,
watching the Olympics (gymnastics and swimming).
July 31, 1992
has seemed like a very long week indeed. It started out fine,
but as the days have progressed it's gotten hotter, and Josh has become
more agitated, and my nerves have started to unravel. Josh is
supposed to take one of his pills in the mornings before he gets to my
house, but I don't think he's been taking them at all. He is
completely WILD this morning. (I asked him about it and he
said yes, he took his medication this morning ...
but I think he's fibbing.) I'm really, really trying to make a
'go' of our latest babysitting arrangement, and up until the past
couple of days I thought maybe Josh and I had found a way to get along
with each other. As long as he takes his pills and follows my
rules, we don't have a lot of problems. Maybe these last few
days are due more to the heat than anything else
... I know it gets to ME after awhile. I guess I'll
give him the benefit of the doubt -- and an extra
pill at lunchtime, with his mother's blessing --
and pray that this day passes quickly ...
hot again, but due to cool off tomorrow. Cody here most of the
day while Andrea took Danielle to watch the hydros.
& Lori stopped by unexpectedly this afternoon, driving a new
car! John's mom helped them buy it. They left Tracy here to
spend the night -- she and the girls slept outside in the
August 1, 1992
Physically wrecked. Sore throat, headache, nausea, upset stomach:
shouldn't have mixed beer & wine last night, idiot! Doesn't matter that
I didn't drink a lot ... the combination is lethal in ANY
went over and worked at my mom's, she paid him $50 (half of which is a
loan). Speaking of Mom, she came by to show me her trip pictures,
brought me a gorgeous heart-shaped wreath for my living room, loaned me
the newest Stephen King ("Gerald's Game").
Nicole here to spend the night -- broiled burgers for dinner, Olympics on TV.
August 2, 1992
(Friday) passed. Unfortunately, I made a huge mistake that night by
drinking a few of Ray's beers -- I almost never
drink beer anymore, I can't stand the taste -- and
then I drank some wine on top of that. It doesn't matter that
I didn't drink very much of either: the combination is toxic for me, in
any amount. I was violently sick most of Friday night and all
day yesterday. My mother stopped by for a visit, to show me
her vacation pictures (from New Orleans), and it was awful because I
felt like I was just holding on by a thread. I hate having
her see me in that condition, but Lord knows it wasn't the first time
(and it probably won't be the last).
Anyway, I'm a hair
better today. It's wonderfully cool and cloudy, it's Sunday
so no babysitting, I got a decent night's sleep (in my own bed, no
less: Ray and Kyle slept on the sleeper-sofa, out in the garage), and I
have plenty to do today to keep me busy. I guess I'll live.
got up early and went to Sunday School, as usual. Jamie's friend Nicole
spent the night last night, and now they've gone to Trailer Town on
their bikes to get their daily fix of candy and junk food. Kyle is
wandering around the house in his p.j.'s, looking for something to do.
I can tell that this is going to be one of "those" days (no Josh and
Mak to play with) where he follows me around and asks me questions all
day. (Can I call Joey? Can I go over and play at the daycare? Can Kacie
and me go to Trailer Town?) He's been trying to pick a fight with Jamie
and Nicole all morning; Jamie, of course has amused herself by taunting
and baiting him until he's worked into a frenzy, and then when he flies
at her in fury, kicking and punching, she's all innocence and
indignation. ("What did I do?") A sibling game as old as the hills ...
Well, I was right: he is my constant and faithful shadow today.
When I was putting a load of laundry into the washer, he perched
himself on the edge of the machine and helped me drop dirty towels and
socks into the swirling, soapy water. ("When will Jerome and Andre come
and spend the night?" he asked wistfully.) Then when I went into the
kitchen to put together a fruit crisp for tonight's dinner (using the
very last of Grandma's canned peaches, by the way), he dragged a stool
over to the sink and "washed" the dishes. Now he's squirting window
cleaner on the kitchen cabinets and polishing them with a towel,
humming to himself as he works ... a sweet little boy in cut-off sweats
and messy hair. My Kyle. I love the way he looks in the summer. He
spends so much time outdoors (his new thing is running around with no
shirt on, like Marc, our neighbor across the street) that he just turns
a deep golden brown with no effort at all (unlike his sisters, who work
on it deliberately). The sun also turns his hair this beautiful golden
blond color that I adore, and sprinkles his nose and cheeks with big,
cinnamon brown freckles. He looks healthy and "All American" and
1 pkg. round steak (small)
5 chicken breasts
1 pkg. kielbasa
1/2 lb. bacon
1 pkg. (3) porkchops
8 link sausages
1 pkg. hot
Ray's yucky fish fillet
Container of frozen spaghetti sauce
dinners (2 turkey, 2 beef noodle)
1/2 pkg. sliced roast
9 slices processed cheese
1/2 bag potatoes
1 lg. zucchini
Monday: Coleslaw and BLTs?
Tuesday: Sliced round steak and
noodles, zucchini & carrots
amongst the living. Cool, cloudy, a little sun in the
afternoon. Cleaned up the kitchen, ran three loads of laundry,
made pineapple chicken for dinner.
Read all afternoon -- finished both "Gerald's Game" and my old favorite "Diary of a Mad Housewife."
went to spend the night at Nicole's (AGAIN). Ray went to bed
early: Kacie and I stayed up and watched "Murder She Wrote" and a movie
I taped a few days ago, "The Morning After."
Monday 11:30 a.m.
August 3, 1992
Trying to stretch the groceries, as you can see. The only really
unfortunate thing about babysitting for Karen again is that her paydays
-- so now, consequently, MY paydays -- fall on the same day as Ray's.
So we don't get money coming in every single week, the way we did when
I was watching Andrea's kids. Now it's every two weeks, period. That
leaves us pretty short by the beginning of the second week, no matter
how carefully I try to budget and plan. Grocery-wise, it's pretty slim
pickings. I just made a coleslaw and put it in the fridge for tonight's
dinner, and I guess I'll make BLT's to go with it, but in the meantime
I don't have the faintest idea what to make the kids for lunch. At
least Jamie isn't here -- she's over at Nicole's, AGAIN -- I think
she'd probably live at Nicole's house if we'd let her. So that only
leaves Kacie, Kyle, Josh and Mak to feed. Top Ramen? Macaroni and
cheese? Whatever I fix, they're damn well going to eat it (she says grimly) ...
Food preparation (and consumption, and clean-up afterwards)
is one of the few predictable, routine aspects of my life this summer.
The cog upon which the wheel turns. Makes for really scintillating
journal entries, doesn't it??
an amusing short story by Daphne du Maurier this week, called "The Blue
Lenses." It's about a woman who has been blind for several months, and
suddenly her eyesight is restored after an operation, except that
everyone she sees -- the doctors and nurses, even her husband -- has an
animal's head instead of a normal human head. The type of animal head
they're wearing seems to reflect something of their character: friendly
doctors are terriers and Aberdeens, the nurse who is secretly having an
affair with the woman's husband is a snake, the husband is a vulture.
At the end of the story she undergoes another operation, and this time
everyone looks normal again, except that when the woman looks into a
mirror, SHE is the one who has an animal head. ("The eyes that stared
back at her were doe's eyes, wary before sacrifice, and the timid
deer's head was meek, already bowed.")
It was one of those stories that
stay with you for a long time. I told Kacie about it this morning, and
the idea of it amused her.
"What kind of animal head would I have?" she
I had to think about it for a minute. My nickname for her has
always been "Mouse," but that doesn't really seem to fit ... it seems
too tame for Kacie. Then I thought about the Olympics this past
weekend, and how fascinated Kacie has been with the gymnastic
competitions. The morning after we watched Shannon Miller win her
silver medal, Kacie spread a sleeping bag out onto the backyard lawn
and ceaselessly, tirelessly practiced cartwheels and handsprings. She
has a natural grace and ability that seems to come from somewhere deep
inside of her ... from her very soul.
I thought about that, and about
her constant cheerful chatter, and I decided: "You'd be a monkey. Not
one of those big, ugly monkeys who sit around all day, but one of those
cute little monkeys who swing back and forth in the trees all day."
thought about that for a minute, as though trying to decide whether or
not she liked the idea, and then she nodded in pleased agreement.
we decided, would be a terrier puppy, or maybe a boxer: something small
and stocky and harmless, the bark worse than the bite, full of his own
imagined ferocity. Jamie would be a deer ... not the meek and
sacrificial doe of the du Maurier story, but a fawn, still a little
clumsy and unsteady on its own long legs, but beginning to acquire a
grace and beauty.
Ray has been a little harder to imagine. "A bear?"
Kacie suggested. Maybe. Maybe an old sleepy bear, ambling about the
woods, looking for food and a scratchy tree to rub his back against and
a nice dark cave to hibernate in. I thought about making him into a
bull -- he's a Taurus, after all, and he can be every bit as stubborn
and bull-headed as the sign suggests -- but after thinking it over, I
decided Kacie was absolutely right. He's a bear, definitely.
me. Kacie was horrified by my first suggestion: "I'd probably be a
pig," I said. I was thinking of my appetites -- all of my appetites,
not just the one for food -- the way I overdo everything and anything,
how a little never seems to be enough.
"NO!" Kacie said, frowning.
"That's not right at all!"
Naturally I was pleased (and relieved) to
have her come to my defense like that, even though I wasn't actually
fishing for anything: it was just the first thing that had popped into
my mind. My next suggestion seemed a bit more apt ... "How about a
guinea pig?" I said. "Or a mother hamster?" I was thinking about a
little rodent-like creature, scurrying around in her cage all day,
rearranging the sawdust: a parallel to my own continuous housecleaning
and re-decorating and fussing over every minute detail of my house.
Pointlessly busy, completely content in the cage, never wanting to
venture out into the real world. That really seemed like me,
don't you think?
But Kacie didn't like that one,
either. "I think you'd be a lion," she said
I was surprised, and I asked her why a lion?
"Because you're hard-working, and you protect
your family ... and you're wise," she
explained. And after a minute or so of mulling that
one over, I was pleased. A lion. A lioness,
actually -- fiercely protective of her young,
proud, fearless, territorial. Not exactly the image I would
have chosen for myself, but than again maybe Kacie sees something I
don't (or can't).
there we are: a bear and a lioness, a monkey, an adolescent fawn and a
terrier pup. Quite the interesting menagerie,
wouldn't you say?
another manic Monday ... kids, housework, laundry, meals,
TV. Best time of the day: early mornings, before the kids are
awake and the babysitting kids have arrived. Temporary quiet and
solitude. Worst: mid-afternoon, nothing to do, kids are all
Jamie spending another night at Nicole's. Coleslaw, BLT's for dinner; CBS re-runs all evening. Semi-comatose.
August 4, 1992
chatty phone calls from Velma (who I haven't heard from in ages) and
Lori; made my day. Reading a Daphne du Maurier anthology of short
fiction -- very different, but good. Cool &
cloudy, so I baked some cinnamon cookies.
brought Nicole home with her to spend the night -- she's a nice girl, but she won't eat anything I fix for
her. Porkchops for Ray, chicken for me, TV dinners for kids.
Life is dull.
August 5, 1992
not much going on. Mailed a letter to Kathy B., talked to my dad
on the phone, read more of the du Maurier, wrote in my
journal. Zzzz. And see, to me this sounds like a perfectly pleasant little day. We're never satisfied, are we?
and Mak left early. Ray painted the dining room windowsill, then
took the kids swimming for two hours: Kacie stayed behind (at Tracy's)
to spend the night. Drank a little wine but quit early.
Didn't sleep much -- fleas, leg cramps.
August 6, 1992
cold and RAINY today! Feels more like the middle
of March than the middle of August. The kids are
eating corn dogs and tomato soup: I am battling to stay
awake. Haven't slept worth a shit in two days, and I
feel like my tail is dragging. (A combination of
fleas, leg cramps and wine before dinner kept me awake most of
the night last night: it was 4:30 a.m. before I finally
dropped off.) No coffee today, either --
I accidentally broke the carafe for the coffeemaker yesterday while I
was washing dishes. Tea is a barely acceptable substitute,
but it's all I've got ...
popped in unexpectedly a while ago, asking for directions to
the Food Bank. Guess they're as broke as we are.
The Food Bank, unfortunately, isn't open today, so I gave her
a few things out of my cupboard -- some Top Ramen,
a box of macaroni and cheese, a box of Animal Crackers, some
milk. She made a big deal out of it, hugging me as she left,
but the truth is that I love doing stuff like that. I can't
forget how kind people have been to us over the years, when our
cupboards have been bare ... it feels good to repay
the favor. (It also reassures
me that other people are worse-off than we are.)
Cold and rainy. I was supposed to watch Danielle & Cody
today, but Andrea called and cancelled, said Danielle was
to call Ray's boss at work and ask that his paycheck be released one day
early: felt like an idiot doing it, but Ray asked me to.
here to play with Jamie this afternoon, then Jamie went home with her
and spent the night. Wrote some letters, goofed around in my
office until late.
August 7, 1992
and Valerie stopped by briefly this morning, picked up some mail for
Dad that had been sent here in error. Janet came by, borrowed two
of Grandma's canning jars: she was supposed to come back and cut my
hair but never did. Jamie gone all day.
Karen paid me $200 tonight. Ray went out and got Wendy's for dinner. Asleep early.
August 8, 1992
days later, and still drinking tea ...
and quiet. I've been up for an hour, but the rest of
my family stubbornly refuses to wake up. (Which is
actually fine with me.) I read the Saturday
newspaper, took a shower and fixed my double-strength tea, and
now I'm sitting here in my little laundry room "office," listening to
the radio and planning our day. I got paid last
night -- two hundred wonderful, beautiful
dollars! -- and I have the 'itch' to spend some of
it today. Should we go to Pay 'N Save and get school supplies
for the kids? Should I go to Value
Village and spend a blissful hour sorting through
used paperbacks? Or both??
finally got a good night's sleep last night, which may be one
reason why I feel halfway human this morning.
just wandered out here to the laundry room, carrying his Game
Boy and still wearing yesterday's sweatpants. His hair is a
fuzzy mess, and there's dried ketchup all over his
face. "I can see that Josh and Mak aren't here today," he
said, hugging me.
"That's because it's Saturday," I reminded
him. "Go find some cartoons on TV, if you want
Anyway ... I was starting to think
I was going to battle insomnia forever, so getting nine and a half
solid hours of sleep was a blessing. I'm supposed to call
Janet this morning ("As soon as you wake up," she told me last night)
so she can come over and cut my hair. I think this time I'm
going to take the plunge and ask her to cut it very short, maybe
shoulder length. It's so lank and dead-looking, the way it is
now, and I feel ripe for change. I'm also thinking about
picking up some hair color at Pay 'N Save, just to cover the streaks of
gray that have been appearing around my hairline lately
... they make me look so tired and old.
It's been a while since I've done anything purely for myself
like this, and it feels strange! I used to be so vain, so
consumed with my appearance: lately I've looked like some old Russian
peasant woman, weary from a long day in the potato fields. I
usually manage to get some makeup on before noon, and that helps a
little, but it doesn't do much to camouflage the lines around my face
(or, ironically, the middle-aged acne that resists all efforts to be
eradicated), or the tiredness that has become more or less my permanent
expression. My hair is usually pulled back into a limp and
messy ponytail after my morning shower and ignored for the rest of the
day. As for my wardrobe ...
ugh. I hate to even comment on that. I have one
decent pair of Levi's, but I save those for special occasions and I
usually either wear my incredibly ugly cut-offs, a pair of Ray's
sweatpants or my other pair of bleach-stained Levi's, the ones that
won't stay buttoned. With that I'll wear a big floppy men's
shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows, or else one of Ray's
work shirts. I bought myself one decent shirt for
summer -- a purple tank top --
but it shrank in the wash and got bleach splattered across the front of
it, and I wound up giving it to the girls. And
on top of all this, of course, is the fact that I'm
overweight. I swear to god, my breasts
must weigh twenty pounds apiece: I look like I'm carrying two
bowling balls around in my bra.) I managed to lose
some weight for Barbara's wedding last February, and I was
beginning to look pretty good, but the minute I started receiving
unsolicited compliments on my weight loss, BOOM, it was back to greasy
breakfasts and late-night eating binges. It's as though I
can't handle the attention, a fact that I still don't understand but
seem powerless to change ...
rate, today -- the hair.
Maybe after I get it cut and color it, I'll feel less the
Russian peasant woman and more Terri-like. We'll see.
I did it. Janet lopped off a good three inches, all the way
around, and that instantly made things look better. ("Are you
sure? Are you sure?" she kept asking me, as if those
three inches were irrevocable.) Then I
bought a box of Nice & Easy (Shade #116, Medium Brown) and did
that in about an hour. The change is very subtle but
nice: the gray is gone, anyhow, and my hair feels thicker and
glossier. I like it.
a friend of ours to call -- someone we haven't seen in
ages -- so far he hasn't returned our page, but
maybe soon? Would really be nice to have some fun
tonight. In the meantime, I'm sipping wine and
ginger ale and getting ready to cook dinner -- baked
potatoes, kielbasa and green beans -- the very
bottom of the freezer. Hope we get some groceries TOMORROW.
day. Janet came over this morning and cut my hair --
just about shoulder length -- then Ray took the kids and I
to Pay 'n Save, where I bought some hair color. My hair looks
great, really picks up my mood. Also got the kids most of their
school supplies -- notebooks, paper, pens, etc. (and
a Super Mario lunchbox for Kyle).
Ray and I stayed up late. NOBODY SPENT THE NIGHT!! AMAZING!
remember one fall evening almost three years ago, shortly after we'd
moved into this house. I was sitting in the dining room,
looking through the narrow kitchen all the way back to the laundry
room. The lights were off and the kitchen was
dark. The house was very quiet. Sitting
there in the quiet and the dark, looking at the outlines of my new
kitchen, I was seized suddenly by the most incredible feeling
... a sense of utter familiarity, almost like déjà
vu. All of a sudden I KNEW this kitchen. I KNEW this
house. We'd only lived here for a few days
-- we hadn't even finished unpacking yet, we were at
that weird disoriented stage where finding the bathroom in the middle
of the night is still an adventure -- and
yet it seemed at that moment that I knew every
nook and cranny of that kitchen, every wall, every doorway
... knew it in the way that someone who had lived here for
many years would know it. It was an odd feeling, a "goosebumpy"
feeling, like hearing some long-forgotten song from childhood and
discovering that you still know every word. It wasn't
unpleasant or frightening -- it was actually very
comforting and nice.
Since that time I've realized that it
was probably due to some vague architectural simularities (real or
imagined) to the house I grew up in, or maybe some other place
I've lived but only half-remember. But that feeling of
instant familiarity has stayed with me the past three years.
I've felt as though this house and I know each other, "fit" each other,
LIKE each other. Does that sound inane? Maybe it
does. Houses don't have feelings one way or the other about
are things about the house I don't like, of course. The
electrical wiring is a little iffy sometimes, and I'm always
worried about that. (When the TV and the oven are
on at the same time, the picture on the TV
screen becomes very crackly and full of
static; when the microwave, the coffeemaker and the toaster are running
simultaneously, all three are likely to shut down
completely.) The bedrooms are too small, and I'm sick of the
teddy bear wallpaper in the girls' room. And I can't stand
our bedroom, which was a garage once upon a time, before
someone remodelled it. We don't have a proper bedroom door,
and there's very little privacy.
My biggest complaint,
though, is the kitchen. It's pretty and it's functional, but
it's so damnably NARROW. When the refrigerator door is open,
for instance, no one can walk through.
But these are minor
irritations, really. The living room is just the right size,
and I love the woodstove and the one wood-panelled wall. The
dining room is a little on the boxy side, but it
accomodates my wicker table and chairs (which we bought from
Janet); and even though I don't like not having a real bedroom door,
the master bedroom IS roomy and cool in the summer (except on the very
hottest days), plus there is the luxury of having a second
bathroom in there. I love the built-in shelves in
the kids' closets. I love having a hall linen
closet ... something I missed while we were living
at Shannon South. I even love -- and I
somehow believe this helped influence me to want the house in the first
place -- the wallpaper and the curtains and paint
colors that the landlords chose before we moved in. It's all
shades of blue, lots of tiny flowers, not too much
'ruffle-and-flounce' ... very country-looking, very
clean and pretty. I probably would have picked these exact
same colors/patterns myself, given a choice, but the fact that they
were already here and waiting for me, with no fuss or muss on MY part,
was irresistable! The first time I walked through the
kitchen, those blue curtains and tiny print flowers seemed to shout at
me "Here we are! Just waiting for YOU, Terri!"
the pièce de résistance, of course -- my
favorite part of the entire house, the final irresistable lure that
made me fall in love with the place -- is the
laundry room. The first evening that Debby and Greg
walked us through the house (long before we signed on
the dotted line), I was so excited that a lot of the place was
a blur. (When I came back a week later I was
surprised to discovert that I'd forgotten the layout already:
I thought the bathroom was where Kyle's room is, and vice
versa.) The one room in the house that made a
profound, indelible impression was the very last room we walked
through. By the time we'd reached the kitchen I was already
worked up into an agony of longing, excitement and despair (How in the
world could we AFFORD all of this??), but when Deb strolled
through the laundry room with me on her heels, the blood in my veins
turned to molten lava.
I had just walked into
It wasn't how large and clean and well-lit the
laundry room was. It wasn't even the idea of having a washer
and dryer at our disposal, after three years of pumping quarters into
industrial machines at Shannon South. It was Deb, waving in a
general, offhand way at one corner of the laundry room and saying
"Sometimes I use this corner as a home office."
then and there, our fate as a family was decided.
we were going to have to pay double the rent.
Sure, it was a lot of work and responsibility, moving from a
crappy little apartment to a house with a yard. Sure, the
kids would miss their friends at Shannon South, and sure, I was about
to turn our lives inside out and upside down ...
but we were talking about an OFFICE. Something that, until
then, had been so far beyond my wildest dreams, it may as well have
been in another universe. An OFFICE, with a huge spacious
desk, built-in shelves and cabinets, plenty of space for books and
bulletin boards and typewriters. A place to write in my
journal, type letters to my penpals, drink my coffee, think, plan,
dream. A place of my own. The moment I saw the
laundry room/office, I knew I was home. It took a while
longer to convince the rest of my family, but for me, walking into that
laundry room was an epiphany. We went back to the apartment,
and I began packing that very night.
kind of funny. After living in a cramped, moldy, run-down
apartment for three years, the new house seemed almost
impossibly grand and palatial to me. One of my
earliest thoughts was, "This is the nicest place I've ever lived
in." Maybe it was all the fresh paint, the luxurious (and
spotless) new carpeting, the brand-new curtains and cabinets
and kitchen countertops. Maybe it was the way it all looked
the first time I saw it, with all of Deb & Greg's nice
furniture still in it. My second thought was "God
... our furniture is going to look AWFUL in
here." And the truth is that for the first year or so, it did
look pretty bad. We had an old dumpy couch and loveseat that
I'd bought while we were living in the apartment, a horrible orange and
brown velvet print. When I saw it sitting in our clean
beautiful new living room for the first time, my heart sank: if
possible, it looked even dumpier and dingier than it had in
the apartment. There was also an enormous ugly coffeetable
that I'd gotten for free (someone left it sitting in the clubhouse at
Shannon South) and a hideous brown table lamp the size of a small beer
barrel. The only things in the living room that I actually
liked were the stereo stand Ray had built many years earlier, Grandma
Vert's camphor chest (which we use as a TV stand) and the huge
bookcases Ray had rescued from a storage company dumpster. I
hooked up the stereo, put my books and knick knacks into the
bookcases, hung my framed family photos, set out the few
plants I had. It made things seem more familiar, more
"homey." But it still (to my critical eye) looked more
Salvation Army than Better Homes and Gardens. The dining room
was another disaster. Our "dinette set" consisted of a cheap
wobbly table, ten years old, and three ugly mismatched chairs, all with
cracked vinyl backs. The kids' bedrooms were
nearly bare: the girls had to share one lumpy twin mattress,
laying flat on the floor (no frame, no headboard), while
Kyle's "bed" was the matching boxspring, also laying on the
floor. And they each had one beat-up dresser, leftovers from
my teen years. The master bedroom was furnished with my 10
year old queen mattress and box spring set (which
-- you guessed it -- lay flat on the
floor) and Ray's broken-down old dresser. A dismal state of
affairs, indeed. I did what I could to disguise our horrid
furniture and make the place presentable, but it often seemed a losing
changed gradually. A month or so after we moved in, Ray's
parents gave us their old bedroom set -- a
beautiful oak dresser and chest of drawers, with two matching
nightstands and a headboard for the bed. We mounted
the mattress and box springs onto a creaky but functional bed
frame Ray got from somebody at work, and Ray's old dresser
went into the girls' room. Our bedroom, at least, looked
magnificent. Then Kyle got a "real" bed
-- an old bed Ray had used as a kid. The first
summer we lived here, Ray built the girls an enormous set of bunkbeds,
which nearly took up all the floorspace in their room
but which at least got them off the floor. For the
first time ever, the entire P. family had decent beds. Luxury!
next summer, my friend Janet sold us her dining room table and chairs
for $100. They're a tan wicker, very Casa Blanca,
and they brightened things up considerably. (The old table
was unceremoniously chopped up for firewood.)
Eventually I bought new chair pads for the chairs and a pretty
tablecloth and placemats, all in shades of mint green and dusty
rose. When Grandma St. John passed away, I inherited her
collection of owls (porcelain, glass, wood, etc.) and these were put on
display on the shelf above the dining room window. I
bought some framed prints at a thrift store, and those were hung on the
dining room wall. When Grandma Vert passed
away, her Singer sewing machine became a
makeshift dining room display table. (Eventually I
hope to acquire a wicker etagierre, to match the table and
chairs.) John and Lori gave me a huge fake
plant -- it looks more like a tree,
actually -- and that sits in one corner of the
dining room. And Ray put in a new ceiling fan this
year, oak and brass with smoked-glass accents. The effect,
like I said, is very Casa Blanca, every unconventional and piecemeal,
last room to change -- the toughest, and the
most recent -- is the living
room. As a matter of fact it's only been within the past
couple of months that I've been able to invite people in without
cringing. The orange-and-brown monstrosities are
history, thank god: they were replaced by my ex-stepdad's
off-white, nubby-textured sofa and loveseat about a month
ago. At the same time, we got one of my mom's old oak
bookcases. I worried, at first, that two bookcases in one
room would be too much, but now I wouldn't part with either
one. One bookcase
the one we brought with us when we moved in -- is
principally books (hardcover and paperback) and a few select family
photos; the other bookcase is more pure display
space. Lately I've been getting into the popular
"country" look quite heavily, and I guess the living room reflects this
more than any other room in the house. It's an ongoing
process of change and experimentation, constantly evolving, but at the
moment there are a lot of dried flowers, baskets, antique brass,
candles, lace. My beloved Maxfield Parrish prints hang framed
above the TV. Grandma Vert's antique porcelain doll ("Hessy")
sits atop the newer bookcase; the quilt Grandma made me is draped
across the loveseat. Two straw wreaths, both from my
mother ... a crocheted wall hanging with a bird
motif ... a 100 yr. old crocheted apron, hanging
from the stereo ... bunches of dried flowers, also
hanging from the stereo. The barrel-sized table lamp is gone,
replaced by two brass floor lamps and one pretty new white table lamp I
bought at Target. We still have the ugly coffeetable, but I
inherited Grandma's cherished maple end-tables and they sit on either
side of the sofa. (They're a bitch to keep clean, but they're
a part of my childhood so I would never replace
them.) The living room will probably look
completely different, two months from now -- maybe
even two WEEKS from now! -- since I will never be
finished tinkering with the decor. But like that Mother
Hamster, rearranging the sawdust in her cage, "ornamenting" my home is
so deeply a part of who and what I am, I never tire of it.
the three years we've lived here, the house has naturally lost some of
that new and "palatial" feeling. This has as much to do with
persepctive as with everyday wear and tear, I think. You live
in a place for a while and you begin to see it the way it really
is. Fresh paint and new carpeting aside, it didn't take long
for me to take the blinders off and realize that even though it is a
very nice little house, Buckingham Palace it ain't. This
actually was a helpful realization: I quit feeling so terrified of
every little carpet stain, every nail hole in the wall. Of
course I've tried to maintain it as best I can, but the fact is that
five people live in this house -- including three
extremely rambunctious children -- and "stuff"
happens. There is a bleach stain the size of a Jeno's pizza
on the living room carpet (cleverly concealed by an area
rug). A burn mark on one kitchen counter tells the story of
an overheated toaster that simply blew a fuse one morning.
The kitchen linoleum is scraped in one spot: I don't recall how that
happened. We've had plumbing problems almost from the moment
we moved in, primarily in the front bathroom. And if I had a
dollar for every nail hole in the wall ...
August 9, 1992
Sunday. Ray went out and did a major grocery-shopping (took Jamie
and Kyle with him), then took the kids swimming this afternoon.
Pizza Hut for dinner.
August 10, 1992
early, and BUSY ... the hot weather is coming back
this week, and in preparation I'm cooking some meals to put in the
freezer ... a big pan of lasagna, a beef pot pie,
maybe one other dish if I can think of something easy. Ray
finally did the grocery shopping yesterday, and it's so great to have
FOOD in the house again. (Still drinking tea,
though. Dammit!) Josh and Mak are here with rotten
summer colds ... we'll all have it by the end of
the week, I'm sure ... but for right now I feel
very good, very energized. It's weird, having the kitchen
smell of frying beef and onions at 8:30 on a Monday morning, but later
this week when it's miserably hot, I'll be glad I got it done.
I should mention. Saturday night, while I was sitting here in
my office working on a scrapbook and listening to music, I was shocked
and dismayed to run across Grandma Vert's obituary and realize that the
anniversary of her death had come and gone without my noticing
it. For some reason, I'd had it in my head that the date was
August 17th -- I was planning to observe the
occasion with music and meditation -- but it was
actually three days ago, on August 7th. Last
Friday!! How in the world could I, of all people, have missed
a date like that? I'm still beating myself up for that
one. (Me, the idiot who still remembers the birthdates of
boyfriends I dated twenty years ago, can't even keep track of something
so deeply important ... ?)
here's what's really odd about this. Guess what I spent part
of last Friday doing? I was putting the finishing touches on
a tape I call "Special Momstuff," which is basically a montage of music
that reminds me of Grandma ("Mrs. Steele's Song," Kitaro's "Sky
Dreams" -- I always imagine her soaring to Heaven when I hear
that one -- "Everything I Own," etc.) or
otherwise touches me in some special way. I was planning to
spend August 17th listening to that tape and looking at old photo
albums and trying to communicate with Grandma spiritually.
(Not a seance or anything like that: I mean, THINKING about her,
sending her thoughts of love and thanks, etc.) Is it possible
that I knew, at least on a subconscious level, that Friday was the
day? And that maybe I "forgot" on purpose because it was too
hurtful? Part of me would like to accept that as an
explanation, because it lets me off the hook. But the other
part of me is furious with myself.
hot again. Got out of bed early, spent the morning cooking meals
for the next couple of days (beef pot pie, lasagna, carrot
salad). Josh & Mak both here with terrible summer colds,
dammit. Lori and Velma both called to "chat"; Janet called and
asked if she could send Joey over here, but my hands were full already
and I had to say no. Ray took the kids swimming. Mom and
Ken dropped by for a quick visit, brought me a replacement carafe.
August 11, 1992
... here it comes. The weather report on my radio
this morning says it's going to be up in the 90's by this afternoon.
I'm already doing laundry and fixing meals, because something tells me
I'll be semi-comatose by noon. Mom came by yesterday and
brought me a replacement carafe for my coffeemaker, but of course it
figures -- now that I can drink coffee again, it's
going to be too frigging HOT for it ...
still bothered about missing last week's important "anniversary," but
last night as I was falling asleep I thought of a way to make
restitution. Aunt Mabel has been after me for months
to make a contributiojn to the family history book she's writing, and
I'm going to make a serious effort this week to get it
done. At this point, I'm not sure what I'm going to
write about ... maybe something about growing up
with Grandma, all the travelling we used to do when I was a
kid? I could tie that in with the Idaho trip last year, and
with the sense of family history she instilled in me. A
proper tribute to Grandma. Maybe then I'll be able to get
past this feeling that I "forgot" about her ...
is coming over in 20 minutes, just to visit, so I've been running
around picking up the house, slapping on some makeup, making iced
tea. Sometimes -- I must be
truthful -- her "visits" are more ordeal than
pleasure. She's a good and faithful friend, but it's a lot of
WORK getting along with her ... much more so than,
say, getting along with Lori. Maybe it's because Velma is so
much more sensitive than my other friends. I'm always afraid
of offending her. There is also the fact that Velma is one
of those people who KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT EVERYTHING, and it drives me
crazy. No matter what we're talking about
-- allergies, getting stains out of carpeting, cooking
salmon, movies -- she's right there with all kinds
of unsolicited opinion and advice. I don't mind a little
advice now and then -- when it's
warranted -- but I resent having it served to me
every single time I open my mouth ...
"I just put Kacie's hair into the nicest French braid."
Velma: "You know what you OUGHT to do, don't you?
You should put it into a French twist instead."
Made pigs in a blanket, first thing this morning. but that was pretty
much all the cooking I could stomach.
Velma came by to visit at
11:00, stayed for an hour -- when she left, she took Jamie
and Kacie with her to spend the night. Ray took Kyle swimming.
Cedar Springs ...
- The Summer Olympics in Barcelona, and Shannon
- Tea in the microwave ...
- KING-AM Talk Radio ...
- Bill Clinton and Al Gore ...
- Babysitter's Club books ...
- Swimming at Shannon South in the
- Ray's zucchinis and tomatoes ...
- Kacie practicing gymnastics in the
backyard (until she split her head open!) ...
- "Boogley-Boog" (my annoying new nickname for
- Hurricane Andrew ...
- Woody Allen and Mia Farrow's custody
- "Tiny Toon Adventures," "Beverly Hills 90210"
and "Gilligan's Island" reruns ...
The Popsicle Sisters (above), and Kyle hanging with his best bud Spud (below)
August 12, 1992
Weirdly eventful day.
Too hot again, for one thing. I spent a lot of the day working on
a short story (book?) for the girls, a fantasy/mystery set at a summer
camp. Velma brought the girls home at noon, brought Happy Meals
for all the kids. Angela stayed behind to spend the night.
I stepped on a bee as Velma was leaving ... it stung the bottom of my left foot.
But the WORST thing happened tonight ... Kacie cracked the
top of her head open at Shannon South pool, had to go to the hospital
and get seven stitches. MY POOR BABY!!!!!!!
August 13, 1992
was one of those nightmare days we all have once in a while. You
know the kind I mean: you get out of bed in the morning feeling
perfectly fine, ready to tackle anything, but by the end of the day it
feels like you're the one who's been tackled ...
some reason I can't explain, I woke up yesterday morning in the mood to
write a children's book. I'm serious. The idea just
sort of came to me out of nowhere ... a
fantasy/mystery, set at summer camp, featuring two little girls about
Jay & Kacie's age. So I sat down and just started to
write. The girls had spent the night before at Velma's, so I
only had Kyle and the S. boys here to contend with. For most
of the morning I scribbled the first five or six pages in relative
peace. I was really reaching my stride by 11 a.m., but just
then Velma and the girls (and Velma's kids) showed up and interrupted
things. I wasn't in the mood for another one of her
long, protracted visits -- I'd endured one just the
previous day! -- and I was hoping she would just
drop off the girls and leave. I know that sounds horribly
rude, but I was in this rare creative mood and I didn't want to
stop. Unfortunately, she came in carrying seven Happy
Meals from McDonald's -- one for everybody, including
Josh and Mak -- and insisted that they all eat
together, outside at the picnic table. She didn't leave until
they were finished, over an hour later, and when she went home she left
Angela here to spend the night. I managed to write a
couple more pages, but by then it was starting to get miserably
Oh! I almost forgot to mention something that
happened just as Velma was leaving. I was walking her out to
her truck, and she said (as she says every single time she's here),
"Jonathan, aren't you gonna give Terri a HUG?" Jonathan is a sweet,
bashful little boy, about four years old, and I like him well enough,
but I don't think either he or I enjoy hugging on command like
this. But what can you do? So I bent over and gave
him this perfunctory little hug ... and just then I
stepped on a bee with my bare foot!! Naturally I
got stung, and it hurt like blazes, but at least it gave me a great
excuse to say "Goodbye!" and hobble into the house without any further
conversation (or any further hugs). I put my foot on ice for
a while, and it felt better fairly soon afterward.
like I said, it started getting VERY hot by mid-afternoon.
The clouds lay heavy and low, and it kept the heat compressed all
around us ... it was awful. I sat in
front of the fan with a glass of ice water, trying to stay cool, but it
was miserable. When Ray got home from work, he took all of
the kids -- Angela included --
over to Shannon South to swim in the pool for a couple of hours. Lately
this has become a regular "thing" ... at least,
during this hot weather. Ray takes the kids over to the
apartment for a swim, and I stay home to fix dinner and enjoy a little
time to myself. John and Lori are always nagging me
to come over with Ray and the kids, but the truth is that I hate going
ANYWHERE when it's hot like this ... the only place
I feel comfortable is in my own little house, sititng in front of the
electric fan, wearing as little as possible! And those two
hours of peace and quiet are emotional balm: I hate to part with that.
most of the time they swim uneventfully for those two hours, and when
they come home they're refreshed and hungry and the rest of the evening
goes smoothly for everybody. This time, though, I knew
something was wrong even before the car pulled into the
driveway. Don't ask me how I
just call it a mother's premonition of disaster. ("Please
don't let it be Angela," I prayed ... knowing that Velma
would never forgive me in a million years if something happened
to her precious baby.) And of course I was right
-- disaster had struck. Jamie ran into the kitchen
and said, "Has Lori called you yet??"
Oh Lord. The
last time Jamie asked me that was when Kyle flipped off the bars on the
Shannon South playground and split his lip open.
I said. "What happened?"
then Kacie came in with a bloody towel pressed against the top of her
head, sobbing, with Angela and Kyle clustered around her.
There was blood all over her face, her swimsuit, her arms.
hit her head against the side of the pool and cracked her head open!"
Jamie said, anxiously.
Apparently Kacie had been doing cartwheels off
the edge of the pool, only the last time she did it, she landed too
close to the side and hit her head against the rim of the
pool. I sat her down and tried to see where she was
hurt -- and how badly -- but
her hair was such a matted, bloody mess that it took awhile to clear it
away from the wound. It was a beaut: a gaping, bleeding gash
at least two inches long and half an inch deep. I've seen a
lot of "owies" in my ten and a half years of motherhood, and this one
definitely took the prize. Kacie was terribly upset
-- she was afraid she was in trouble, for one thing ("Dad was
yelling at her," Jamie told me) -- and she was
obviously in a lot of pain. I tried to calm and reassure her
immediately, and we got a clean towel and had her continue applying
pressure to the wound while I called the hospital for advice.
The nurse advised us to bring her to the emergency room right
away. I cleaned off her face and helped her get into a pair
of shorts, and then Ray took her to the hospital.
(Grudgingly, of course.)
fact of our lives: Ray is utterly useless in an emergency.
Later, when I talked to John and Lori about the accident, they said
they couldn't get over the way Ray was (to quote John) "piss-farting
around." While Kacie was standing there practically bleeding
to death, Ray was putting on his shoes ... sucking
on another goddamned can of beer ... diving into
the pool to gather up all the swim toys ... etc.
etc. etc. I felt like KILLING him when I heard
this. John was yelling at him to "take Kacie to the emergency
room RIGHT NOW!", but Ray was plodding along, drunkenly taking his own
sweet time. Even when they got home, he kept trying
to convince me that she wasn't hurt all that badly, and that she
probably wouldn't even need stitches. The plain fact of the
matter is that he didn't want to take her to the hospital.
He's the same every single time something like this happens: if there's
any way to get out of a hospital run, he'll find it. It took
every ounce of self-control I had to keep from screaming at him, but I
was trying to keep Kacie calm so I just said "The nurse says she HAS to
go." Finally he seemed to accept the inevitable, and he even
managed to tell Kacie it was OK, he wasn't mad at her. ("He
called me 'clumsy' when it happened," she told me later. The
ass.) Fortunately, I'm good in a crisis. I can fall
apart over a messy kid's room or a broken plate or a burned casserole,
but when it really counts, I'm usually the one with the cool
head. I'm not tooting my own horn here: it's just the way it
is. I'm still proud of myself whenever I remember how calm
and reassuring I was about the whole thing. It definitely
helped Kacie relax. Her biggest fear (besides the idea of
stitches, which she'd never gotten before) as she left for the hospital
was that they might shave off some of her hair! Hearing her
say that, I somehow knew she was going to be just
hours and seven stitches later (not to mention two HOSPITALS
later -- Riverton was "packed," Ray said, so they
sent them over to Highline), our little injury victim came home to much
fanfare. While she was gone, Jamie and Kyle and Angela all
made her "Sorry you got hurt" cards. I made her a bed on the
loveseat and served her dinner on a tray, and we all took turns
bringing her fresh ice packs and glasses of juice and extra
pillows. "I don't know why everybody's making such a big fuss
over me!" she said, but it was obvious that she relished the attention.
two days later now, and her wound is still a little swollen and tender
to the touch, but she'll be fine. Unfortunately this means
that her gymnastics career has come to a screeching halt
... temporarily, anyway. My little bird has had her
Kacie had to stay very "quiet" today -- no swimming, no
bikes, no gymnastics -- she was unhappy but I knew it was
for the best.
Angela went home at 11:00. Babysat Danielle & Cody for six
hours, Andrea paid me $16. Letter from Kathy B. -- dare I
tell her I am an ardent Clinton supporter?
Ray and the kids went swimming, Kacie was allowed to get only her feet wet!
Still TOO HOT.
August 14, 1992
A little bit cooler today. Made "runzas" (bread-dough sandwiches)
early in the morning, also some coleslaw. Caught up on laundry,
Jamie went bowling with the Bontempos, then Jessica came home with her
to spend the night. Ray and the kids to the pool --
Kacie allowed to swim but no jumping.
Started reading "The Stone Bull," Phyllis Whitney.
August 15, 1992
85° today ... not too unbearable. Fried some chicken in
the morning for dinner. Ray drank beer and watched football
all day -- he won $50 on the Seahawks game tonight.
Finished my book, watched a movie I'd taped ("Moonstruck"), tried to
write to Kathy (still not sure what to say to her).
Ray's Grandma called tonight -- she and Dorene won't be coming up after all.
Ray a jerk tonight, we all just sort of ignored him.
morning early (7:30)
August 16, 1992
feels like it's beginning to wind down ...
kids and I have a fun day planned: my mother is coming to pick us up at
10:00 and we're all going to Northwest Trek, a wildlife park near
Eatonville. We've never been there before but it sounds like
it's more fun than the zoo, even: "a narrated tram tour takes you
through 435 acres of unspoiled beauty" (this is from the brochure)
"where bison, elk, moose, deer, caribou, bighorn sheep and pronghorn
roam freely." Then there are other animal exhibits you can
walk to, "nature discovery activities," and a Northwest Trek
museum. Naturally I'm not exactly looking forward to walking
around in the heat, but just this once I'm going to keep my mouth shut
and sweat in uncomplaining silence. Except for an occasional
shopping trip or a visit to John & Lori's, I've done nothing
"special" with my kids during this summer vacation, and this is it,
folks. I'll be Mother of the Year -- for
one afternoon, anyway -- even if it KILLS
got totally wasted yesterday, drinking beer and watching football all
day. By evening he was weaving.
(Literally! He was standing in the kitchen talking to his
grandmother on the phone, and I watched him swaying back and forth like
a tree in the wind: I thought he'd fall over any
minute.) This morning when I got up, he'd left a
barely-legible note for me on top of our Northwest Trek
tickets. It said, "Thanks a lot for inviting Dad.
Make me feel real good." The funny thing is, when I got out
of my shower a few minutes ago, the note was gone! Guess he
had a change of heart about leaving it. He never would have gone with us
to Northwest Trek anyway, even if my mom HAD invited him: it would be too hard, trying to
sneak a six-pack of Rainier onto the tram.
go get ready! Bye!
The Tots in Ashford, WA
August 17, 1992
up with a rotten chest cold ... first time I've been sick
since strep throat last May. Hot, sticky, uncomfortable: didn't
accomplish much. Kids fought with each other all day long.
Velma called, no news.
Gave everybody leftovers for dinner, watched TV until about 11:00.
August 18, 1992
was fun -- more fun than I'd expected it to be, as
a matter of fact -- but it was also long, hot and
tiring. Northwest Trek is a terrific place: I like it much
better than Woodland Park Zoo. We arrived just in time to
catch the noon tram excursion, a long rambling trip through wooded
mountain slopes. Most of the animals we saw from the tram
were some distance away, but we did get fairly close to a group of
goats (including three babies) and a herd of bison.
tram ride, we walked around and looked at the rest of the animal
exhibits, had lunch in the cafe, then wandered around in the gift
shop. (Mom bought me a "NW Trek" refrigerator magnet, and I
picked up three postcards.)
By the time we'd finished seeing
everything there was to see it was only 3:00, so Mom decided to drive
up to the town of Ashford, near Mt. Rainier. She was very mysterious
about the whole thing ... she just said that there
was something in Ashford she wanted us to see, including a mountain
lake she said was "absolutely gorgeous" and a place in town that would
provide some great "photo opportunities." It was a
wonderfully scenic drive: the kids and I especially loved Mt. Rainier,
which loomed so close and clear you could almost reach out and touch
it. Unfortunately, the drought this past year had dried up
Mom's "gorgeous" mountain lake -- it was nothing
but a shallow pool of muddy water -- and the
artist's colony in Ashford (which she'd hoped would provide the photo
opps) had gone out of business, probably as a result of the lake drying
up. (No lake = no tourists.) I could tell that Mom
was disappointed about it, but the truth is that I was out of money by
then anyway, and I hate window-shopping. Besides, I still got
some great shots of the kids posing with the life-sized wooden statues
and miniature buildings in Ashford. (One good shot of Kyle
emerging from a fake outhouse!) And we stopped and bought the
kids some ice cream on the way home, so they were
When we finally got home, late in the afternoon, Ray
took them swimming at Shannon South so they could cool off and
relax ... I stayed home alone and read the entire
Sunday paper, front to back, in complete peace and quiet.
Still feeling like crud, but forced myself to get up and move around. A lot cooler, at least.
Reading another Phyllis Whitney, "Domino."
keeps talking about dying. It's very subtle, mind
you ... if you weren't paying attention, you
probably wouldn't notice. But I'VE noticed. Grandma
Vert used to do this same thing all the time: she would call me
out of the blue and say things like, "Terri Lynn, when I die I want you
to have my sewing machine," or "I'm not going to be around much longer,
so I want you to come over and look through my books." Mind
you, this was years before she actually got sick and died, so it's
understandable that I developed a certain blasé attitude toward the
whole business. Am I more sensitive to the subtle?
Or have I just learned that someone who is talking about dying usually
has a reason for doing so ... ?
she left on her trip to New Orleans last month, Mom called and said,
"Just in case something happens to me, I want you to know about the
will I've made." And she started telling me about how she's
leaving money to Debi and family heirlooms (mostly photos) to
me. Then this weekend, when we were driving through Puyallup,
she said (out of the blue), "Boy, when I go, you're going to inherit a
TON of scrapbooks." (I don't even recall what precipated that
August 19, 1992
My cold has migrated from my chest into my head ... feels like my sinuses are filled with concrete.
mother-in-law called, wants to come get the girls tomorrow and keep
them till Sunday. Made a bit pot of Swiss steak and
vegetables. Ray took the kids swimming after work.
Took some cold medicine and konked out early.
August 20, 1992
The in-laws came and got the girls at noon. Ray said "You
miss your girls, don't you?", and I said "No way!!" Lately it's
been like living with the Hatfields & the McCoys, the way they feud
with each other every waking moment.
My cold is still awful -- painful hacking cough, blocked sinuses.
Ray took Kyle swimming, then I just threw a frozen pizza into the oven and called it 'dinner.'
I WANT TO BE WELL NOW!!!
August 21, 1992
girls left yesterday for a four-day visit at Peg and Don's, where I'm
sure they're being coddled and fussed over and shopped-for to their
little Material-Girl-hearts' content ...
year for the past three years or so, my in-laws have taken the kids out
and bought them school clothes. This is a source of
conflicting emotions for me: guilt, relief, gratitude,
irritaiton. Ray, of course, thinks the whole thing is just
swell. And the kids certainly aren't complaining.
Am I the only one who finds this the slightest bit
embarrassing ... ? How long do we go on
being considered the poor relations, anyway? Still in need of
the occasional hand-out, grateful for cast-off furniture, thrilled when
they buy our kids school clothes and Nintendos and bicycles
well. It wouldn't be worth the uproar and hurt feelings I
would surely cause if I said anything about this to anyone.
The truth is, of course, that I really do appreciate their
help. School clothes for three kids --
that's a real financial crunch, especially for a family like ours on a
limited budget. So I'll just put up and shut up. I
just wish we didn't "need" their help quite so much ...
August 21, 1992
I'm not. ("Well," that is.) The cold just keeps gettting
worse & worse. Today I had to take cough medicine all day
long, just to keep my head attached to the rest of my body, and it left
me feeling weirdly spacey.
brought the movie "Hook" -- watched it with the boys, made
popcorn. Jess Sr. paid me $250 when he picked up the boys.
Ray went out and got Wendy's for Kyle and I.
August 22, 1992
morning now. Quiet, cloudy, nice. I just fixed Kyle
an enormous plate of waffles and bacon, and he's sitting in front of
the TV watching "Beetlejuice" and eating his breakfast. Ray's
still in bed, but I expect he'll come lumbering out here
momentarily. I just pray that this weekend doesn't turn into
the kind of beer-football-&-whine fest that last weekend
was ... lately, that old feeling has been creeping
up on me again, the feeling that I can't stand to be in the same room
with the man, and on the weekends there is NO escaping him.
we have to drive out to Bellevue so I can attend my sister-in-law's baby
shower. If it were anyone but Barbara, I'd be looking for an
excuse not to go: my horrible cold, a fake babysitting commitment, a
toothache, ANYTHING. I despise these kind of cutesy-poo
female gatherings. They make me incredibly
uncomfortable. But Barbara has always been special, and this
is her first baby and all, so there's no way to get out of
it. Particularly since the in-laws are spending tons of money
on my daughters this weekend! (Yes. There's another
reason why I'm bothered by the school clothes thing
-- it makes me feel "obligated" for weeks
afterward. For the next four or five family gatherings, we
will be expected to BE THERE, period.) Anyway, I've
already got part of Barbara's gift ready -- a baby
bathtub that Velma bought for somebody, only to discover they already
had one. To make myself feel a little less chintzy,
I'm going to buy a few things to put in it ... some
baby toiletries, maybe, and a rubber ducky ...
something to make it a bit more personal. When Ray gets up
and gets moving, I'll have him take me to Pay 'N Save to buy the stuff
Nice day. Feeling a little better; still have a runny cose and
cough, though. Ray took me shopping -- went to Value
Village, bought myself a bunch of shirts and sweaters, some good
paperbacks, a few things for the house -- also went to Pay
'n Save, picked up the rest of the things I need for the baby shower
Ray watched football tonight. I drank a little wine, talked to Lori, had fun with Kyle.
August 23, 1992
nice day. Kyle, Ray and I drove to Bellevue at noon so I could
attend Barbara's baby shower. Got to visit with my girls all
afternoon! (They're staying at their grandparents' until
Tuesday.) The shower was really nice -- I won some
bath oil in a funny game. Barbara is due any time, thinks the
baby is a boy.
Ray went out and got Chinese food for our dinner -- an early "anniversary" celebration.
Asleep by 9:00.
August 24, 1992
again, I wound up having more fun than I'd expected to, this past
weekend. Barbara's baby shower was very nice! (What
is it with me, anyway? Why do I have to view every
social invitation with skepticism and reticence?) It was
great seeing everybody, I was only moderately uncomfortable (and that
was only at first), and I had a really GOOD TIME. Even Ray
and I seemed to get along great yesterday ... the
long ride to Bellevue, usually an ordeal, was more like a pleasant
drive in the country ... it was a beautiful sunny
day, not too hot, and we listened to a tape of old 60's music as we
drove along ... it was one of those occasions where
it felt good to be alive.
shower was held in the clubhouse of Barbara's apartment
complex. Barbara still doesn't look very pregnant, in spite
of the fact that she's due this week! -- she looks
about six months along! -- and she seems so calm
and relaxed, you could hardly tell that this is her first
baby. (Peg confided in me, at one point, that Barbara is
really very excited and a little nervous. I guess she just
conceals it well.) One of the nicest parts of the
shower, for me, was seeing Jamie and Kacie. They've only been
gone for a few days, of course, but I kissed and hugged them as though
we'd been apart for months! We watched Barbara open
her gifts, enjoyed some refreshments and cake, and played a funny party
game: everyone had to wear a safety pin pinned to the front of your
shirt, and any time you caught somebody with their legs crossed, you
got to take their safety pin away from them. At the end of
the shower, the person with the most safety pins was declared the
winner. I was the first person to catch somebody
-- my sister-in-law, Sheryl. Jamie and Kacie spent
the entire shower eyeballing the other guests like little hawks,
waiting for someone to cross her legs. Technically Kacie
won -- I think she had four safety pins
-- but they gave the prize to me because I was the adult
guest with the most pins. This made Kacie cry, of
course ... losing graciously is still beyond
her. I felt really bad about it and started to hand the prize
to her, so she could at least open it for me, but Peg said "No!" and
insisted that it should be mine. In retrospect, I suppose she
was right. This is just one of those things Kacie is going to
have to learn to deal with. Anyway, the prize was a bottle of
honey-almond bath oil, and I promised Kacie that we would share it when
we got home. That seemed to appease her a little.
girls are staying in Bellevue an extra couple of days
-- they'll be home sometime tomorrow. After the
shower, we went back to Peg and Don's to visit for a while, and the
girls showed me their new school clothes. (From the looks of
things, they'll be set for the first week or two, at least.)
They also each got a nice new backpack, so again that's one less thing
for me to worry about.
and I had decided to stop on our way home and eat dinner at a Chinese
restaurant, as a sort of "early anniversary celebration," but Kyle
konked out in the backseat of the car and we decided to get take-out
instead and eat it at home. It was great -- sesame
chicken, sub gum chow mein, egg rolls, sweet & sour, the
works. Mmmm! We only have Chinese about once a
year, so it was a real treat.
was fun too, I want to mention. We did go to Pay 'N Save so I
could get some extra stuff for Barbara's shower gift, but I also spent
a blissful hour browsing around Value Village. My original
thought was to find a pretty shirt or sweater to wear to the shower, to
go with my "one decent pair of Levi's." I wound up going
crazy: three pullover sweaters (including a sleeveless red one that I
wore yesterday), two blouses and two pullover tees.
Everything fits and looks great, and I'm just in heaven. What
a boost for my pitiful wardrobe! I also bought a bunch of
baskets (one of my newest decorating passions: I'm going to display
them in the living room), some paperbacks (including four Stephen Kings
and a Dean Koontz) and three owls to add to my collection.
Naturally I felt guilty about spending so much money on myself, but
what the hell.
last week of summer vacation. Still hacking and wheezing all over
the place, but determined not to let it slow me down --
I've got a LOT to do this week.
Kyle's driving me crazy ... he's been so hyper the past few days.
the wall next to the bookcase (an arrangement of framed pictures), hung
new baskets in the kitchen. Mailed $17 to the Avon lady.
Leftover Chinese for dinner. Ray grocery-shopped tonight. Reading "The Gunslinger," S. King.
August 25, 1992
hurricane tearing through the South the past couple of days.
Yesterday it decimated Miami, and right at this moment it's headed
straight for New Orleans (which is where my mom was vacationing, just a
month ago!) The news reports keep showing all these
bewildered Miami residents standing in their ruined homes
-- roofs missing, windows shattered, furniture gone
-- and it sends a shiver down my spine. Ten years ago I was
obsessively worried about nuclear war. This was when we were
living in Kirkland, when the girls were babies: I used to have
nightmares about it all the time. Now that the Cold War is
over, I worry about natural disasters ...
earthquakes, mostly ... and about fire.
So many ways for a family to lose everything they own
... so many things for ME to obsess about! Worrying
is definitely the worst part about being an adult.
girls will be home in a couple of hours: I talked to Jamie, briefly, a
couple of minutes ago and she said they'd be leaving Bellevue around
noon. This "homecoming" will be decidedly more low-key than
when they came home from camp, I'm afraid! No vases of
fresh-picked roses in their bedroom, no piles of welcome home
gifts. I'm cleaning out the fridge and the kitchen cupboards
this morning, and the kitchen looks like Hurricane Andrew detoured
through HERE on its way to Lousiana ...
starts on Tuesday, by the way, and no one seems very excited about
it ... not even me. I'm going to miss
having the girls around for company! I love our summer
mornings, drinking coffee and watching "The Price Is Right" and "The
Young & The Restless" and "All My Children" together
... it's going to seem awfully quiet around here without
them. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself this
really thought I would be doing something different with my life this
fall. If I had gotten my long-delayed house money by now, for
instance, I might have been going back to school myself. Or
at least I might have been able to buy myself the little car I'm
dreaming about, and could be taking some baby steps back out
into the world. As it is, I have no plans.
My ladies are home! Peg and Barbara brought them home around noon, and I was VERY happy to see them.
really hard today -- lots of energy -- cleaned
out the fridge, pantry and food cupboards, did a lot of laundry.
Ray worked two hours o.t. I made a steak and pepper skillet
for dinner, not very good.
The girls and I stayed up late and watched the Miss Teen USA pageant (Jamie's pick, Miss Iowa, won).
August 26, 1992
then again, who's to say that even if I had gotten my money by now, I
wouldn't still find some excuse NOT to take those baby steps back out
into the world ... ? I mean, isn't the
money just an excuse, as it is? If I genuinely wanted to be
doing something different, I could probably find a way
-- money or no money. I could apply for financial
aid. I could take the bus. I could at least have
some definite plans made. Instead, I'm going into fall with
my usual aimless, flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants attitude: waiting for
my life to come to me, instead of the other way around.
Waiting for the next big life change to knock on my door, and if it
doesn't knock this year, well, there's always NEXT year ...
stitches are out and her head is healing quite nicely. I took
them out myself, the day she got home from her grandparents'.
(She put the sutures into a little plastic bag, to keep! When
Jamie made some comment about how "disgusting" it was, I primly
reminded her of the grimey, disgusting casts from her broken arms,
which she kept in her closet for a year.) Now Kacie is back
to practicing gymnastics in the backyard all day long. I
watch her while I stand by the kitchen window, washing the
dishes ... cartwheel after perfect cartwheel, hair
flying, face aglow. You know something? She is
really GOOD. She has a natural
talent for this stuff.
Moving a hair slower today. Worried about money --
ten long days till our next payday and we're broke already! (Wish
I could line up one more babysitting job for this fall. Please,
Lord ... ?)
Jamie took off with Jessie and Tia this afternoon, wound up spending
the night at Nicole's. Ray took Kacie and Kyle swimming.
Chicken patty sandwiches for dinner.
Finished "The Gunslinger," started "The Drawing of the Three."
August 27, 1992
Back to feeling energetic, in spite of the fact that my cold is STILL
hanging on ... once I catch one of these things, it seems
to hang on forever. Scrubbed the kitchen and laundry room floors,
baked a loaf of bread for fun, made pastrami & cheese runzas for
brought home some wine for me, then took the kids swimming while I
enjoyed some alone-time. Stayed up and watched TV with the kids
August 28, 1992
and Cody were here most of the day -- Cody is recovering from
pneumonia but still has plenty of energy! -- Andrea paid me
surprise in the mail -- a check from Puget Power for
$188!!! (A refund of our security deposit.) The
timing couldn't have been better. Ray took it to the bank after
work, bought us Pizza Hut for dinner to celebrate.
Kids found out who their teachers will be for the upcoming school year.
Jessica B. here to spend the night.
morning 9:20 a.m.
August 29, 1992
days later ... the final weekend before school
starts. Jessica B. spent the night last night, and the kids
are all laying on the living room floor in sleeping bags, watching the
Saturday morning cartoons. I've been up for an hour or so,
already getting a headstart on the weekend laundry. I believe
that it's supposed to get hot today, and if that's the case I'd like to
have all the "grunt work" done by noon so I can kick back and enjoy
myself this afternoon -- even if that only means
sitting in front of the fan with "The Drawing of the Three" (I'm near
the end, and it's even better the second time) and sipping cold
wine. I don't expect this to be a big, high falutin'
celebration of a day, in spite of the fact that it's our eleventh
wedding anniversary ... but a moderate amount of
fun would be nice. :)
working today, incidentally. I don't have a card or gift for
him yet, but I plan to pull something together later. (I
babysat for Andrea yesterday, so I've got twenty bucks in my
pocket.) Actually, it's been pretty amazing, the past 24
hours. We were approaching the weekend totally broke, and I'd
been in a funk about that for most of the week ...
the kids still need some school supplies, I'm out of laundry detergent,
lunch materials for next week are nonexistant ...
and, of course, it's our anniversary weekend. The thought of
having no money at all was very depressing. Even more so than
usual. So I was delighted when Andrea called and asked me to
watch Danielle and Cody yesterday. Twenty bucks is better
than nothing, right? But then when the mail came yesterday
afternoon, I got the surprise of my life: Puget Power sent us a check
(a refund of our security deposit from two years ago) for
$188.60!!! When I opened the envelope and saw that check, I
let out a yell that could have been heard around the world.
The timing was just so incredibly fortuitous. I called Ray at
work and let him know about it (so he could cash it before the bank
closed) and he was as surprised and pleased as I was. To
celebrate, he went out and bought Pizza Hut for dinner
-- I'd been planning on fixing last-ditch scrambled
eggs! -- and today I think he's probably actually
going to use some of the money to buy me a REAL anniversary
gift! (He didn't.) If so, it'll be one of the few
times I've ever gotten more than a hastily-signed card and a bouquet of
supermarket carnations ...
about our anniversary later. I have some things I'd like to
write about the state of our marriage, and memories of past
anniversaries, but that will have to wait for a bit. I still
haven't even taken a shower yet today, and I've got enough detergent to
do one more laundry load, and the kids need breakfast.
say one thing quickly, though -- but not about Ray
and I -- the kids found out yesterday who their
teachers will be for the coming school year. Miracle of
miracles: everybody got the teacher they wanted. Jamie has
Mrs. B. (formerly Miss Hackett), Kacie has Ms. Kido, and Kyle has Mrs.
McCall. Unfortunately, Joey isn't in Kyle's class
-- that's a little disappointing -- and
Tracy isn't in Kacie's class, for the second year in a row.
But everything else was good news. Jamie's friend Nicole is in her
class, as is Tia B., and she's pleased about that. For the
first time in a long time, Jamie seems to be looking forward to the
school year. She's decided that she's going to try and run
for school vice-president this year, and I hope she makes it.
She's exuding a new self confidence and poise that I find extremely
heartening. Her "signature style" for this school year, she's
decided, will be lots of jangly bracelets on both arms, very long
(beautiful) hair, and no shoelaces in her tennies. Last night
she asked if she could shave her legs, and after a long discussion
about proper safety measures I said OK. I also said that she
could wear a tiny bit of very discreet makeup, not on a regular basis
but on special occasions. I realize that some people may
consider this poor judgement on my part -- that I'm
"pushing" her to grow up too quickly -- but I have
a theory about this, and that's if I forbid these things or make a big
deal over them in any way, she's going to do them ANYWAY
... secretly, and badly. At least this way I have a
hand in it. Besides, Jamie has always been a little more
mature for her age than other girls, and I think she can handle
it. I think that by acknowledging her ability to be
responsible about things (like grooming), I'm reinforcing that
maturity, making it stronger. I'm saying, "Look, I know
you'll use good sense where these things are concerned." And
she will. I have every confidence in that.
wedding day ... eleven years ago today.
Like today, it was a Saturday: like today, Ray had to work.
Unlike today, I spent most of the day alone, preparing for my wedding
in solitude. I remember that I was nervous, and that I couldn't
get my hair to do what I wanted it to do, and that I desperately wished that I had a
phone so I could call somebody -- my mom, my
sister-in-law Judy, ANYBODY -- for some words of
comfort and encouragement. But I was very much on my own that
day, and it wasn't all bad ... it gave me time to
think and calm myself and mentally gear-up for what lay
ahead. By the time my Dad showed up later in the afternoon to
drive me to the church I felt as ready as was possible for me to be,
and I suppose it was all that time alone that did it.
- I hated my wedding dress. I still
do. It was cheap and flimsy and a terrible color on
me -- it made me look pale and sick. It
also made me look VERY heavy. I look at my wedding photos
sometimes and I'm seized with this urge to go back in time and yell at
my 23-year-old self to "Wear a GIRDLE, forcryingoutloud!"
That would've helped a little, at least, especially from the
rear. At that point I still wasn't used to the idea of being
overweight. Being pregnant had nothing to do with it, since I wasn't
even "showing" yet ... in my mind I was still a
slim attractive teenager, and looking in the mirror and discovering
otherwise was a cruel shock. (Not that it's gotten any easier
in the intervening eleven years. But every bride wants to
look her best, and the fact that I didn't was hard to accept.)
- On the other hand, Ray looked great. His
mother and I picked out his clothes: nice charcoal gray slacks, a light
blue dress shirt, and a wonderful gray corduroy sports jacket, with a
tie to match. It was dressy enough to be suitable, but casual
enough to please him. His hair was still very long
-- almost shoulder-length -- but it
looked nice, I thought. He was very handsome that day.
- Looking back, it's very easy for me to point out
all the things I didn't like about my wedding. Our one-year-old nephew screamed throughout the entire ceremony, and the
fact that no one did a blessed thing to shut him up still amazes,
puzzles and infuriates me. There was no music at my
wedding ... not even one blue-haired little old
lady sitting in the corner, playing the organ. Just dead
uncomfortable silence. (At least, until The Monster Nephew started
screaming.) Neither of my Vert grandparents came to my
wedding. There were none of the silly, lovely traditions at
our wedding or at the "reception" afterwards -- no
tossing the bridal bouquet, no groom removing the bride's garter amid
much ribald giggling, no procession up the aisle, no rice, no tin cans
tied to the back of our car. And during the wedding ceremony,
Ray steadfastly refused to look at me: he stared straight ahead through
the whole thing. (So much for my romantic notion of having my
groom gaze tenderly and tearfully into my eyes ... )
- It's much harder to come up with things I DID like
about that day, and that makes me a little sad. The church
was pretty ... candle-lit, and filled with
flowers. There were a lot of warmly supportive friends and
family members present. The gathering at Peg and Don's
afterward was a lot of fun. So the thing wasn't a total
bust. I will probably never get over the fact that I didn't
have the kind of wedding every little girl dreams about, but this is a
private sorrow, one that I don't talk about very often, and one that I
have to deal with. Not everything in life turns out the way
you hope it will.
nice day ... our 11th wedding anniversary. Ray had to
work most of the day -- came home this afternoon with a
card and a bottle of champagne. The kids gave us a card, too, and
some gifts they'd made themselves. John and Lori came over and
spent part of the evening with us.
August 30, 1992
and I both felt unaccountably awful today, even though we really didn't
'do' much last night ... tired and sick. Hello? Safeway champagne?
We were going to BBQ spareribs and chicken, but ended up with Pizza Hut
(again) because neither one of us felt like cooking. He did
manage to do some grocery-shopping, and he took Jamie to buy the rest
of the school supplies the kids need.
Read 2/3 of Dean Koontz's "The Bad Place."
August 31, 1992
weekend is over; our anniversary is now a (pleasant) memory; and, after
today, summer vacation will be over as well. ("So QUICK?"
Kyle said, astonished, when he realized that vacation is
over. He's just beginning to get some inkling about how fast
time can pass.) The girls are enjoying their last chance to
watch "The Price Is Right," and Kyle is enjoying one final long day of
play with Josh and Mak. Although no one is overtly glum
today, neither are they exactly jumping up and down for joy at the
prospect of going back to school tomorrow. It's so
strange. I used to ADORE the first day of school when I was
their age: I could barely sleep the night before, I was so
excited. To me, it was as thrilling as Christmas.
And yet, here are my kids, acting as though they're marching off to the Siberian labor camps ...
amend that. By the middle of the afternoon, Kacie had begun
bouncing around the house, a perpetual motion machine of nervous
energy. When I asked her what in the world had gotten into
her all of a sudden, she said, "I'm just so EXCITED about school
tomorrow!" Hurray Kacie.
was the last day of summer vacation, and also the last day we'll have
Josh here for a while -- his new school hours will be
different and he won't be coming here in the afternoons, just
Mak. Got the kids ready for tomorrow.
Ray BBQ'd chicken and ribs. I finished "The Bad Place," Dean Koontz. Period started.
Lots of trouble sleeping tonight -- noisy neighbors, smoking refrigerator.
morning 9 a.m.
September 1, 1992
here we are, folks ... the school year has
officially begun, and now Mommy is beginning HER much-deserved
vacation ... :)
just returned from walking the kids over to the school, and the house
feels so funny and quiet. Mak is here, of course, but he's
playing so unobtrusively in Kyle's room --
deliriously happy to have all the Matchbox cars to himself
-- that I hardly know he's here. I don't know
whether I'm happy or sad ... lonely or exhilarated
by the relative solitude. It hasn't sunk in yet, I
suppose. After a few hours, the silence may start getting on
my nerves. Who knows? But for right now, I'm just
going to sit here and allow the calm to wash over me like a spring
rain ... all this lovely, lovely calm ...
tell you, first of all, that last night I got the WORST night's sleep
on record, and it had nothing to do with the night-before-school
excitement I used to feel as a kid. My period started late
yesterday afternoon, for one thing, and by evening I had terrible
cramps and a stomach ache that just wouldn't quit. We turned
the TV off and everyone went to bed at 9:30. I was in the
last few chapters of a thrilling Dean Koontz novel ("The Bad Place"),
though, so I stayed up another hour or so and finished that.
The ending was weird and spooky, and when I finally turned the lights
off I couldn't get myself to fall asleep. That was about 11
Just as I was finally starting to drift off, our
neighbors across the street (Marc and a couple of his latest roommates)
decided to work on cars in their driveway, directly across from our
house. Not only were they making a lot of noise, idling
engines and clanking tools and shouting at each other, they also turned
on an ENORMOUS spotlight in the driveway, which shone directly into our
house and illuminated everything. I tried to ignore it (by
squeezing my eyes shut as tightly as possible and concentrating on deep
breathing), but it was just too annoying.
Finally, at quarter
to midnight, I had to go in and wake Ray up and ask him to go across
the street and talk to Marc. Naturally, he was not thrilled
to be woken up in the middle of the night, but he grudgingly threw on
some shorts and a T-shirt and went across the street. ("I
told them that I can sleep through anything, but the rest of my family
can't," he said when he came back.) A few minutes later the
spotlight finally got turned off and the noise died down, so I layed
back down on the sofa and thought "Finally I'll get some sleep."
About half an hour later, I started to smell something burning in the
kitchen! Actually, what it smelled like was burning
electrical wires. I could also hear a crackling, popping
sound. It was coming from beneath the refrigerator, and when
I turned on the light to investigate, I could see little puffs of smoke
actually billowing out from beneath the fridge. This has
happened before -- it has something to do with
water leaking into the electrical wiring -- we've
even had the landlord come over and look at it, but it keeps
recurring. Anyway, I was scared to death. I sat on
the couch and listened to the crackle and pop for about half an hour,
and then I did the only thing I could do ... I went
in and woke Ray up again. If he wasn't thrilled to be woken
up at midnight, imagine his delight at being woken up again at 1:20
a.m.!! Not a pleasant moment for either one of us.
When I told him about the refrigerator, he grumbled and muttered and
stomped off to the kitchen. He poked around under the fridge
for a couple of minutes, and then we mopped up as much of the excess
water as we could with bath towels. (Naturally the fridge
stopped sputtering and spewing smoke the whole time Ray was looking at
it. I'm sure he thought I was imagining the whole
thing. And then when he went back to bed, it started up
At any rate, after all of this, it was nearly
impossible for me to get any sleep at all. When it was time
to get the kids up this morning, I felt half-dead. It's taken
a shower, a pot of black coffee and a couple of beans to get me back to
the kids were up without any problems and managed to get themselves
ready for school in record time. Kacie may be the only one
who admits to being excited, but I suspect that all three of them felt
some anticipation this morning because they were all ready to leave by
8 a.m. (School starts at 8:40!) We did a lot of the
preparation last night, anyway -- baths, lunches
made, school clothes and supplies laid out, apples picked and polished
for the new teachers -- so this morning all they
had to do was eat breakfast (Rice Krispies, English muffins, o.j.) and
get dressed. Jamie wore a new black dress that her grandfolks
bought her -- very simple and classic
-- with black socks and her shiny new patent leather
oxfords. Kacie wore a new two-piece outfit, a flowered
short-sleeved jacket top with matching skort. Kyle had on new
jeans and a red-print T-shirt, plus his new tennis shoes.
They all looked terrific.
We walked to the school and got
Kyle situated in his classroom first. He gave Mrs. McCall the
apple he'd picked for her, but he was very quiet and (I think) a little
overwhelmed by everything. When I left him, he had put his
notebook and school supplies into his desk and was sitting here,
holding onto his new lunchbox. He had toothpaste and orange
juice all over his mouth, but I didn't want to embarrass him by
cleaning it off in front of all his classmates, so I just kissed him
goodbye and told him I'd see him after school. Jamie and
Kacie are old hands at this stuff, and they settled into their
classrooms without any fuss.
I walked home alone, and now
here I am, polishing off the last of the coffee and contemplating the
The phone keeps ringing. First it was Janet, then my mother,
then Velma, all wanting to touch base and compare notes.
(Ah! And just now Lori called, too. She said that
she peeked into Kyle's room to see if I was still there, and that he
looked stiff and scared and that his eyes seemed "very
round." This gives me a little pang in my heart.
Please relax and have fun, Kylie ...)
yes, it does feel a little lonely around here, and I'm looking forward
to having them come home and tell me all about their day
... but I have managed to get a LOT of work done today,
without distraction, and that's been nice. I definitely think
I'm going to have to find something to do this fall, though.
Cleaning house is fine, as far as that goes. And I can
organize all the closets and drawers, finished all of my half-completed
writing and photo projects, update my cookbooks, work on mix
tapes. All that would be great. But
... what will I do THEN?
DAY OF SCHOOL! Got everyone up at 7:30, dressed and ready to go
by 8:00. Walked the kids to school, got them all settled into new
Lots of phone calls, all morning. (Velma, Janet, Mom, Lori.)
Barbara had her baby tonight -- a six pound baby boy.
September 2, 1992
news: Barbara had her baby last night, a six pound
boy! Sheryl called me twice from the hospital
-- once when Barbara was in labor, and then again after the
baby was born, sometime around 10:30 p.m. -- and then
Barbara called herself, very early this morning. ("He looks like his
Daddy," she said happily.) I must admit to a slight twinge of
envy when I heard the rapture in her voice! I remember that
wonderful glow you feel, the morning after giving birth.
It's the sweetest feeling you can
imagine. I'm very happy for Barbara,
though, and we're all looking forward to meeting our brand-new
nephew/cousin as soon as we can.
first day of school seems to have gone well for the kids.
Kyle was upset because his teacher asked him not to bring his
Trapper/Keeper to school anymore -- she wants her
class to use a standard three-ring binder instead
-- but I assured him that it was nothing personal, it was
simply his teacher's preference, and I gave him money to buy a new
notebook. I had to drag the details of the rest of the day
out of him, of course .... Did he like having
recess? ("Yes.") Did he enjoy eating lunch in the
cafeteria? ("Yes.") Who did he sit by?
("Marcel.") He was far more interested in playing ball with
Mak than sitting with me talking about school, but during the course of
the afternoon and evening I managed to drag enough information out of
him to determine that he'd had a successful first day.
on the other hand, was totally on fire when she got home! Ms.
Kido has an incentives system in her classroom called "Kido
Bucks." You earn Kido Bucks by doing extra credit reading and
homework projects, and you can use them to "buy" all kinds of prizes,
everything from school supplies to small toys. Kacie watched
Jamie earning Kido Bucks last year when she had Ms. Kido, and now it's
Kacie's turn! (I believe that THIS is the reason Kacie wanted
this particular teacher so badly.) She did three extra credit
projects and read for 45 minutes last night, gloating the whole time
about all the Kido Bucks she was earning, all the stuff she was going
to "buy." I'd be happier if she were doing it for the sheer
love of learning, of course -- har
-- but anything that gets her to do schoolwork with such
enthusiasm is fine by me. I just hope it lasts beyond the
seemed pleased with her first day of fifth grade, although the only
real comment she made was "Tomorrow I'm going to wear deodorant
EVERYWHERE." Her classroom faces west and they catch all that
sweltering afternoon sun. She also seemed pleased that she's
seated next to her friend, Nicole, and mentioned something about
playing with Tia at recess. The last time that Tia and Jamie were in a
class together, two years ago, was probably the worst school year of
Jamie's life. So I'm cautiously optimistic to hear that
they're getting along a little better now ... it's
probably a combination of the fact that Tia has mellowed and Jamie has
matured. I have a feeling that this will be a very good year
for my Puss.
My days are so long and quiet, now that the kids are at school and it's
only Mak and I all day ... I'm enjoying it this week, but I
know that pretty soon I'll run out of things to occupy my time. I
need a change in my life.
Worked on the kids' Memory Book, researching new entries, adding photos. When that's done, I'll finish the autobiography.
Ray worked until 8:00 -- I drank some champagne & o.j., made some phone calls.
September 3, 1992
the kids off to school, then went back to sleep until past noon.
(Feeling rotten from last night's champagne and late TV.) Got
moving this afternoon, though ... cleaned the kitchen, made
Ray some pork chops, read some old journals from 1974. Feeling a
little "blue" -- wondering if there's anything good ahead
of me anymore.
Jamie spent the night at Nicole's. Wild rainstorm this evening.
September 4, 1992
rainy morning ... just took my shower and poured
the first cup of coffee. The kids are home
today (and for the next three days after that), which seems a
little ridiculous to me -- three days of school,
followed immediately by four days off?!?? Right now they're all watching cartoons in the living room, except for
Jay (who spent the night at Nicole's and won't be home until late this
afternoon). I'm sitting here in the laundry room with the
door open behind me, enjoying the lovely sound of rain, the feeling of
cool air on bare feet ... almost feels like autumn
had a lot on my mind the past couple of days. Whether or not
I'll be able to write anything meaningful about it, I don't
know ... it's nothing specific, more of an over-all
feeling of sad quiet resignation ... that feeling I
get, sometimes, that all of the exciting fun times in my life are over
with. I spent a long time yesterday reading old journals from
my junior year in high school. Once in a while I just find
myself in a nostalgic mood, and I drag out a few of the old journals
and spend some time in the past. A lot of the time this is
fun: it's entertaining to read about people and places and events I'd
nearly forgotten, and I get a kick out of what a silly dope I was as a
teenager. (The boy I like hasn't called me all day, and I'm
in despair. The phone rings, I jump out of my skin
... "I looked at it, holding my breath, barely
daring to hope. 'Please Lord,' I prayed silently
... 'Hello?' ... but it was
Grandma. My heart broke into about ten thousand little
pieces, my brain started to dissolve, all hope in me died a flaming
death.") But this time, reading the 1974 journals
didn't amuse me, the way they do sometimes: this time, they broke my
try to explain why, I'm going to sound like an idiot. After
all, I'm 34 years old now, not seventeen, and the plain fact of the
matter is that love and romance just aren't a part of my life
anymore. A lot of the time I'm able to live with
that. I get so engrossed in the day-to-day details of my
life -- kids, laundry, money worries, family
stuff -- that romance is the furthest thing from my
mind. It's hard to be thinking hearts and flowers when you're
disinfecting the toilet ... y'know? A lot
of the time I'm able to convince myself that it doesn't matter to me
anymore, that I've gotten past all that. But then something
happens to jog the memory a little ... a wedding
anniversary that doesn't turn out quite the way I'd hoped. An
Oprah Winfrey show about reuniting long-lost loves. A pile of
old high school journals, detailing a series of sweet, long-ago
romances. All of a sudden there I am, looking into the mirror
at this overweight 34-year-old person, and the realization that love
has passed me by is overwhelmingly sad ...
being in love. I miss FALLING in love,
especially ... the thrill of discovery,
the initial awkwardness, the sweet feeling of new "connection," even
the anguish and uncertainty. I miss feeling
these things, dammit!!!
past ten years, I've been in love twice. Well,
actually ... two and a half times.
(Explanation forthcoming.) And neither time was with the
person I married! Isn't that sad? In my journals
over the past ten or eleven years, I've made no secret of the fact that
I didn't marry for love -- a fact that absolutely
astonishes me now. For someone to whom love and romance were
everything -- EVERYTHING -- in
high school and college and my early 20's, the fact that I would marry
someone I didn't love is amazing. In the beginning, of
course, I said that I loved Ray. I needed to justify the
marriage, so I talked myself into loving him. In the journals
from late 1980 and 1981, when I met and married Ray, I do a lot of
talking about how much "in love" we are, how glad I am to have found
him, how happy I am. But the plain sad fact of the matter is
that I married him for two reasons, neither of them having a thing to
do with love. One was because he 'rescued' me at a point in
my life when I needed rescuing. Two was because I wanted to
have children right away, and he was the first guy to come along who
didn't poo-poo the idea out of hand. I married him because I
was pregnant, because he was my baby's father, and because it seemed the
appropriate thing to do. And for a long time
-- for the first couple of years, anyway
-- I was able to convince myself that I'd done a good
thing, that I'd made an intelligent decision, that we were all going to
be happy. I was able to ignore the glaring differences
between us, the complete lack of "connection" on any level
.... the fact that we had virtually nothing in
common ... the fact that I couldn't TALK to
him. It just didn't seem that important. I was
happy, having my babies and cleaning my house and living out my dreams
of home and family, and if it ever occurred to me that something
crucial was lacking in my marriage, I wrote it off as being a
trade-off: babies vs. communication, stability vs. passion.
And Ray wasn't completely horrible, after all. He
was a sweet, loyal, basically decent person. He
still is. We've had some good times. I could have
done a lot worse, I suppose.
after a couple of years of deluding myself, there were certain truths
that couldn't be ignored any longer. He drank too
much. He was irresponsible with money. He spent all
his time at the tavern, leaving me at home with two babies, no phone,
no car, no money ... sometimes for entire weekends
at a time. When he WAS home, there was no communication
between us: things that mattered to me didn't matter to him, and vice
versa. Sex was an unpleasant chore and nothing
else. I was lonely beyond belief. Sometimes when I
recall those lonely Kirkland years, I wonder how I survived them at
all. That was the point at which I realized I'd married a
person I didn't truly love, and it was a heartbreaking
realization. But so much had already been invested in the
marriage -- time, emotions, children
-- that I knew I was stuck.
I still feel that way a
lot of the time.
get me wrong. I do love him. You don't spend eleven
years with a person, have three children with him, without feeling
something. I love him in the comfortable, familiar way you
love someone you've spent a lot of years with. But I am not,
and never HAVE been, "in love" with Ray. And that's just the
way it is. These things have never been a part of our
relationship: romance, connection, passion, emotional intimacy, true
committment. And as the years go by, these are the things
that I long for, grieve for, despair of ever feeling again for
somebody, and that's what breaks my heart now ...
"two and a half times" I fell in love in the past ten years?
They're hard to explain, and they make me feel guilty sometimes when I
think about them, but they happened and there's no sense in denying
1984, when I was at my loneliest, I fell in love with one of Ray's
friends from work, Mike. He was older than us
... a Viet Nam vet with a tortured, intelligent soul I found
very appealing. He'd come over to the house on weekends and
party with us, or we'd run into him at the tavern, and he and I would
talk for hours. He knew how I felt about him but he never
took advantage of it (much to my frustration at the time)
.... in fact, he did everything he could to discourage
me ... but I carried a quiet torch for him for
almost two years, until the feelings eventually ran out of
steam. Looking back, I realize that it was just a fantasy
with me ... a way of filling up some of the empty
place in my life ... and never something that was
actually meant to be. But for those two years
-- thinking about him, listening to music that reminded me of
him ("Wild Man," Reilley & Maloney), nervously looking forward
to seeing him on weekends -- all that stuff was
very sweet, very pleasant. It made me feel alive.
Even when it was painful (when I understood that the feelings would
never be returned), at least I felt ALIVE.
-- in 1986 -- the Big One hit.
Tony. God, I still feel a twinge when I write his
name. I fell in love with Tony (another one of Ray's friends,
naturally), and I fell hard. With him, it was emotional,
physical, spiritual, EVERYTHING. And this time my feelings
were returned ... at least partially. It
was brief and clandestine and badly timed and incredibly intense while
it lasted, and I'll always be grateful that it happened, painful though
it was when it ended (mutually). It was like one last taste
of passion and romance for someone starving for it. Yes, I
feel guilty about what we did. I justify it sometimes by
remembering that it happened at a time when Ray was at his
irresponsible worst, but even so I still don't take it
lightly. But it happened, it was undeniably
wonderful/terrible while it lasted, and it remains a sweet
memory. Agonizing over the morality of it is wasted effort.
"half" time ... ? This one is the
toughest to explain. To this day I still have mixed feelings
about it -- regret, mainly, because it may very
well have been my last chance at happiness and I blew it.
and I were officially separated, the kids and I were living in the
apartment, and I met Kerry through a newspaper personals
column. There was an instant connection between us: he was
easily the smartest, funniest, most emotionally evolved man I had ever
met, and we could have had something really wonderful, I
think. The problem was that we conducted our romance through
letters and phone calls, and even though we were halfway in love before
we ever met in person, I felt an absolute lack of physical chemistry
when we finally DID meet. (I was crushed to discover that he
was short and balding. If he'd been tall and gorgeous, we
would probably be married right now. Seriously!)
But dopey Terri couldn't reconcile her disappointment that the
live-and-in-person Kerry didn't match the fantasy Kerry she'd pictured
in his wonderful letters and two-hour phone calls. Never mind
the fact that in every way that truly mattered, he was perfect for
me ... the chemistry just wasn't there.
So I blew him off. He continued calling and writing for
weeks, but I'd made up my mind, and that was that. The last
time he called and asked me out to dinner, I said "Please don't call me
anymore." I can still hear the hurt in his voice. I
think about him sometimes now, wondering "What if
...?" (What if I'd been mature enough to realize that true
love isn't always six feet tall with a full head of hair?)
But what's done is done, and all you can do is hope that the next time,
you use your head instead of your glands ...
But you see, that's where the problem lies. Will there ever
BE a "next time" for me? There's a sad, resigned little voice
inside my heart that says there won't be. It says, These
things are all done with -- finished
-- and the sooner you accept the fact, the better it will
be. No more falling in love. No more romance. No
hope of ever finding that one, special, meant to be
"connection." Just years and years of an automatic,
never divorce Ray. I know that now. I had a chance
to break free and start a new life six years ago, and I chose to stay
with the familiar rather than gamble on the unknown. Typical
for me. I know that I'll never divorce him, the same way I
know I'll never lose weight, never go back to college, never publish a
best-seller. I just don' have what it takes
-- courage, self-esteem, determination. Ray and I
will be married until one of us dies, and that's just the way it is,
folks. I couldn't take the risk. I couldn't destroy
my children's lives. I couldn't break Ray's heart.
I've chosen my destiny, and now I live with the consequences.
writing about all these things has helped, at least. In a few
days the sad feeling will pass, and I'll be back to normal
... (until the next time I read an old journal, or hear a
song that reminds me of someone, or see a teenage couple holding hands,
or ... ) I mean, I don't walk around
thinking about these things all the time. Most of the time
it's the furthest thing from my mind. It's just that every
once in a while I'm gripped by these feelings --
the longing for love, the sense that it's all behind me
-- and it hurts for a few days, but then it goes away
again. I go back to being my normal, content self.
I'm sure this is what will happen this time, too. For now,
though, I've put the old journals back in the closet, where they
belong. Maybe I shouldn't even try reading them
again .... they seem to stir up more pain than
nostalgia, and I'm not sure if it's worth it. Not if it just
leaves me feeling sad and lonely and "finished."
Kids had the day off from school today. Cold, rainy
... lots of noise and arguments. Jamie gone all day, spent
the night again at Nicole's. Jesse here.
Karen paid me tonight, $200.
September 5, 1992
worked today, 7:30 - 3:30. Quiet day, not much to report.
Jamie came home from Nicole's very upset -- they had a
fight about something.
Took the family out to dinner at The Omni tonight.
Daddy: Salad, Top sirloin and shrimp, baked potato, corn, Rainier beer
Mom: Salad, teriyaki sirloin, baked potato, corn, Coca Cola
Girls: Chicken strips & French fries
Kyle: Grilled cheese sandwich & fries, Sprite
September 6, 1992
couple of days later, and feeling a little stupid about all those
things I wrote on Friday. I sound so pathetic.
Naturally, the feelings have subsided and I am more or less back to my
"normal content self" today ... at least, I don't
feel as sad about all of it today. I'm having a reasonably
pleasant weekend, and that's helping. Ray worked all day
yesterday -- I always like it when he works on
Saturdays and isn't "under foot" all day -- and
today he's out in Kirkland, doing some work for his parents at our old
house. He'll probably work there tomorrow, too.
(They're fixing the place up so they can rent it out to new tenants
eventually. They've offered to pay Ray good $ for his help;
he wants to use it to buy us a second TV.) Last night, on a
whim, I decided to treat everybody to dinner out. We went to
The Omni, a little neighborhood restaurant, and it was nice
-- I had teriyaki sirloin, Ray had steak and shrimp, the kids
all ordered from the children's menu. It's always nice when I
don't have to cook so it was worth the $30 it cost me.
After we got home from dinner, Ray went back out to B-Z's tavern to
watch a football game; the kids and I enjoyed a pleasant evening of TV
and conversation. They dragged out their "Special
Boxes" -- the big cardboard boxes full of school
papers, greeting cards, artwork, etc. etc. that I've collected
for them -- and spent a happy hour or so, digging
through all of their treasures. It always makes me feel good
when they visibly appreciate the efforts I've gone to to preserve
memories for them ... when they look through their
Special Boxes, for instance, or when they're clamoring for me to read
from The Memory Book. (This is a project I've been working
on, off and on, for a few years now: a three-ring binder of typewritten
journal entries, taken from the years when they were little
... funny things they've done and said, landmark events,
etc. The Memory Book lives on here. Preserving this kind of family history has
always been important to me, and it's nice to know finally that I've
been doing it for a good reason all these years, that they appreciate
it and enjoy it.
and Kyle are at Sunday School, so it's just Jamie and I this
morning. She is such good company ...
even when we're just sitting in the same room together reading, not
saying anything ... She still is!
Ray is working out in Kirkland today and tomorrow, helping his folks
renovate the rental house -- he left before we got up,
wasn't home until late in the afternoon.
Kids and I walked over to Trailer Town, just for fun -- I
bought some wine and some dinner materials. Made a meatball
casserole, talked to Lori for two hours on the phone, goofed around in
my office. Tia B. here to spend the night; Janet stopped by for a
Watched two good rented movies we'd never seen before, "Wayne's World" (VERY funny) and "My Girl" (very SAD).
September 7, 1992
Monday - Labor Day
school today (Labor Day). Ray worked out in Kirkland again today,
so for the third day in a row it was just the kids and I. Watched
the rental movies again, layed around enjoying a lazy day.
My mom stopped by unexpectedly with a box of clothes for me -- lots of great stuff.
Ray home at 7:00, went out and got fast food for us (Wendy's AND Pizza Hut).
September 8, 1992
-- the kids went back to school today. The house is
a shambles, laundry piled to the ceiling, no food in the house, my
nerves are shot: that's what a four-day weekend with my children will
do. It's ironic, I know ... a week or two
ago I was crying about them going back to school after summer vacation,
about how "quiet" and "lonely" the house seemed ...
now I'm sighing with relief because they're gone again! ...
Kyle has two all-consuming passions: Legos and batteries. At
any given moment he's got one or the other in his hands. This
morning both are spread all over the house. It's making me
NUTS. And last night Kacie suddenly got it into her head that
she wanted to make a scale replica of our neighborhood (as a
project for more Kido bucks, naturally!), and so there are little pieces of paper
and masking tape all over the place. Sigh. The
kitchen is a mess, the living room is a mess, all three bedrooms are a
mess. It's deeply discouraging. What makes it all
the worse is that I agreed to watch Danielle and Cody today
-- they'll be here in an hour -- so the
chances of me actually getting anything done around here are
Help help help.
is a disaster area from our four-day weekend ... glad the
kids went back to school!! Had Danielle & Cody here
most of the day, but still managed to get a lot done.
accidentally knocked a shelf off the wall, broke a couple of my
porcelain owls -- I got very mad at her -- Ray
had her do some work in the garage as punishment.
September 9, 1992
wasn't that bad ... watching the little guys AND
trying to clean up, I mean. Cody was an impossibly handful
for an hour or so -- climbing on
EVERYTHING -- but then he fell asleep on the sofa
with a bottle of juice and snoozed most of the afternoon. And
Danielle, who at age 3-1/2 is vastly more assertive and verbal than
4-year-old Mak, totally commandeered the toys and everything else in
Kyle's room, entertaining herself (and Mak) for most of the
day. I at least got the laundry and the kitchen done, and
then when the kiddies went home I restored my living room to order.
and Kyle got into big trouble yesterday. I was sitting in my
bedroom, trying to straighten out my dresser drawers, and they were
running back and forth through the house, screaming like
Banshees. Once or twice I hollered at them to "Settle down!!"
but my warnings were generally ignored, as usual.
getting progressively rowdier and rowdier, when suddenly I heard this
horrible CRASH from the kitchen, followed by Kacie's horrified
gasp. I came running out to see what happened and discovered
that she had knocked down my knick-knack shelf (which holds some of the
porcelain owls) from the dining room wall. The shelf was in
splinters, and two of the little owls -- one from
Grandma St. John's collection, once that one of the kids gave me for
Christmas 1991 -- were smashed to pieces. I was
furious. I started swearing at both of them at the top
of my lungs while I swept up the broken pieces. "Get out of
my sight!" I ordered them. Kyle ran to his room and slammed
the door shut, and Kacie, sobbing hysterically, ran outside to the
A little while later, Ray got home from
work. He took one look at my angry expression (and at the
broken owls on the dining room table), and he knew what kind of
afternoon I'd had! After a while he went outside and found
Kacie, and he put her to work smashing aluminum cans and picking up
garbage. I was fixing dinner by then --
still mad, but beginning to calm down a little bit
-- I could hear Kacie outside, still weeping and sniffling as
though her heart was broken. I'm not a total ogre,
OK? I was sad about the broken owls, and I was mad at the
kids for ignoring my warnings to settle down. But it was an
accident. Just one of those things that happen.
And, in the long run, Kacie's feelings matter one hell of a lot more to
me than ten thousand porcelain owls. By this time Kyle had
already come out of his room and climbed up onto my lap ("Mom. Can I
tell you what happened?"), but Kacie was still in exile. I
went out to the garage to find her.
One look at her
tear-swollen little face completely did me in. I took her in
my arms and hugged her, and her whole body sort of went limp against
me, as though I were relieving her of a terrible weight. "I
had a right to be angry, don't you think?" I said, and she just nodded
and snuffled into my chest as I hugged her. "But I'm sorry I
swore at you," I continued, "and I'm not mad anymore Forgive me?" And
that was pretty much that.
a month or two later, Kacie used all of her precious Kido bucks to buy
me a little glass duck, to make up for the broken owls.)
morning I nailed the shelf back together, and I've moved it
to a different part of the dining room where it's less likely
to get bumped. (I was just asking for trouble anyway, hanging
it in such a vulnerable spot to begin with. It was just a
matter of time.) The owls are broken beyond repair, and I'm
sad about that, but I'm just going to let it go.
where was Miss Jamie P. when all of this was going on? Where
she ALWAYS is anymore -- in her room.
Lately her room has become her sanctuary, and she spends more and more
time there .... usually on her top bunk with one or
both of the kitties, reading and listening to the radio. It's
very touching for me to see: it reminds me so much of myself at her
age. My room was always the most important place in the world
to me. If anything bothers me about the situation, in fact,
it's simply the fact that Jamie can't have a bedroom to
herself. Although she doesn't complain (a lot) about having
to share the room with Kacie, she's still the kind of kid who deserves
and needs a room of her own, especially since they're such an Odd
Couple when it comes to keeping the room clean ...
Kacie is Oscar Madison to Jamie's Felix Unger, and it drives Jamie
crazy. For the time being, though, poor old Jamie is stuck
sharing a room with her sister, and that's all there is to
it. I wish I could say that someday we'll live in a house
with enough bedrooms for everybody to have their own (hey
-- *I* have to share a bedroom too, remember), but the truth
is that when I look into this family's future, it is as murky and
uncertain as the future has always seemed to me. I have no
idea where we'll be in six months, let alone years from now.
So for now Miss Jamie P. must content herself with a room for
Couldn't get off the PHONE all morning -- Lori called 3 times, Velma called twice.
September 10, 1992
dead all day. Got into a horrible fight with the girls before
they left for school -- over something stupid
-- my overblown reaction was completely inappropriate, and
I felt bad about it all day.
September 11, 1992
a sudden I'm in a really lousy mood this morning, and I can't quite
figure out why ...
to bite somebody's head off. I want to throw
something. I want to scream at the top of my lungs, and then
I want to close my mouth and literally not say a word to anybody for
the rest of the day. I want to walk away from this pigsty of
a house, and then I want to come back and clean it from top to
What in the world is the MATTER with me today??
night I did something really stupid, and then yesterday I did something
really awful, and today I'm completely mixed up inside. I'm
not going to give you any details --
sorry -- suffice it to say that wine and motherhood
aren't the greatest mix in the universe.
The kids have
forgiven me. The
tougher job is forgiving myself.
called first thing this morning, upset because she had to have her cat
("Sammy") put to sleep yesterday. At first I was annoyed to hear
her voice because she'd obviously been drinking, but once I found out
why she was calling I softened. Her pets are like her babies.
blah day. Babysat Danielle and Cody for a few hrs., clipped some
recipes, watched an afternoon movie ("The Trip To Bountiful").
Ray went out and got KFC for dinner, I paid for half.
September 12, 1992
worst of the bad mood seems to have passed. (Just like
Hurricane Iniki, which ravaged Kauai last night. What is it
with hurricanes lately, anyway?) The really odd thing is that
Ray was in the same mood when he got home last night
... complaining about this, moaning about that, muttering at
us all under his breath ... for most of the evening
he holed himself up in the garage, drinking beer and watching
football ... when he finally staggered off to bed
at 11:00, he apologized. "I just feel like biting somebody,"
he said. (That's so close to what I wrote in this journal
yesterday, it startled me! Was it something in the air, or
morning I was in the kitchen fixing breakfast. "Mom!" Kacie
exploded, "I said I only want HALF an English muffin!" (To go
with the ham and the poached egg I'd cooked for her.)
I'm really sorry," I said, pretending that my feelings were
crushed. "I'm a lousy mom."
you kidding??" Kacie said. "Some kids would DIE for a Mom
you, Kacie. :)
spent my entire morning cleaning Kyle's bedroom ...
what a disgusting, back-breaking job. It hadn't been done in
a couple of months, and it needed it. I'll certainly be glad
when Kyle is old enough to do it himself. (I wonder: which of
his sisters will he take after? Oscar or
But until that wondrous day arrives, I'm the only one with enough
patience to get down on my hands and knees and sort through the
mountains of Legos, Matchbox cars, broken crayons, weird little bits
and pieces of paper ...
Ray didn't work today -- first Saturday in ages that he's been home.
I went in first thing and cleaned Kyle's horrible bedroom: took three
hours. Also cleaned the laundry room and my desk, mopped floors.
Mom stopped by again.
September 13, 1992
Nice day. Didn't expect it to be, but it was! Went out to the in-laws' to celebrate Barbara's birthday.
At the in-laws'
September 14, 1992 (arf, arf)
not sure, but I think that Monday may be turning into my favorite day
of the week ... Ray is back to work, the kids are
back in school, and with the exception of Mak later in the day, I am
alone. As long as no one calls and tries to engage me in a long phone
conversation (Lori, Velma, Janet, Valerie) ... and as long as Andrea
doesn't call and ask me to watch her kids ... I should be able to get some
things done today, including a page or two written in my
journal. This was an interesting weekend, and I'd like to
share some of it with you.
cleaning Kyle's room on Saturday morning, I still had energy to spare,
so I ran four loads of laundry, gave the laundry room and my desk a
thorough going-over, and mopped all the floors. Jamie took
off to go book-shopping with Janet and her girls; in exchange, I wound
up with Joey here most of the afternoon. He and Kyle and
Kacie immediately got into one of their ear-splitting, hair-pulling
fights out in the front yard ("Kyle threw a KNIFE at me!" Kacie
howled ... THAT got my attention right
away. It was only after I dragged all three of them into the
house and questioned them that I learned that Kacie had tied up her
little brother in a sheet and left him trapped inside of it.
HONESTLY.) Anyway, I made them all sit on the sofa for the
rest of the afternoon, until Janet got here to pick up Joey.
Lately the fighting (especially between Kacie and Kyle) has escalated
to the point where I don't know how to handle it. Every
single afternoon they start in with this crap, and I'm totally
frustrated. Do they hate each other so much?! It's
as though they can't even be in the same room together anymore, not
even for a minute ... Kacie will say something to
tease her brother, Kyle gets madder and madder, Kacie teases him some
more, Kyle swears at her, Kacie laughs at him, Kyle reacts by punching
or kicking, Kacie responds with same ... next thing
I know, they're chasing each other through the house screaming bloody
murder, and either someone gets really hurt or something gets broken
(like my owls last week) and I wind up screeching at BOTH of
them. I've actually considered making it a rule that they're
not allowed to be in the same room together between 4 and 6 p.m. every
day -- for some reason, those are The Volatile
Hours -- but how practical is that,
really? Not very. But something definitely needs to
be done about this situation, because I just can't live with it anymore.
rate, things did calm down by Saturday evening, thank god. It
was storming outside, very cold, so Ray built a fire in the woodstove
(one of the first of the season: I guess summer is over!), and Jamie
made popcorn and everybody watched "Ghostbusters." I enjoyed
a pleasant evening in my office, working on a scrapbook for Barbara's
baby and talking to Lori on the phone. (I had some wine, but
nothing like last Wednesday night: I had important committments the
next day and could NOT afford another two-day hangover.) On
nights like that -- when all five of us are
together under the same roof, and it's cold and rainy outside but warm
and cozy inside -- I feel as though everything is
right with the world. Nothing else seems to matter
... not money worries, not a messy house, not even the idea
that "romance" is permanently missing from my life
... as a matter of fact, these things seem kind of silly and
inconsequential. The only thing that genuinely matters is
that my family is together, safe and healthy, and my children are still
young, and it's 1992 and time could come to a standstill right now and
I wouldn't mind a bit ...
the thing I really wanted to talk about was Sunday.
Originally Ray was supposed to work out at the Kirkland house with his
father again, but the plans changed at the last minute
... Sunday was Barbara's 22nd birthday, and the folks decided
to invite everyone over for a family barbecue to celebrate.
is becoming one of my favorite days of the week ... Ray
goes back to work, the kids go back to school ... the house
is MINE again!
-- now it's the next morning, and GOD it's cold!!
(I went out to the garage awhile ago to find Ray's hammer
-- I was in bare feet, out of habit -- and I
thought I'd lose my toes to frostbite!!) Marvelously alone
again, although today even Mak won't be here --
he's spending the day with his aunt. The phone rings
persistently every ten minutes or so but I'm blithely ignoring
it. At 9:30 in the morning, the only people who call me are
my girlfriends or my step-mother, and if I sit down and talk to them
right now, it'll blow the entire rhythm of my morning. (There
it goes AGAIN ... ) I want to just putz around my
house today, doing a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and not
say a single word to anybody if I can possibly help it.
back to what I was writing about last Sunday. I was going to
add that the family get-togethers have become fewer and
further-between, these past couple of years. Back in the days
when we lived in Kirkland -- when the girls were
babies -- they were practically a weekly
occurrence. Or at least once or twice a month. But
now that we live farther away, and all of Peg & Don's children
are grown and married with families of their own, it's a very rare
thing to find the whole bunch of us gathered under one roof anymore.
order to appreciate what I have to say about this particular family
get-together, you must understand how difficult such occasions were for
me in the past. In the first five or six years that Ray and I
were together, I dreaded them. I hated them PASSIONATELY, in
fact. I resented like hell having to pack up the babies and
the diaper bags and the whole business, and then having to spend the
entire day making uncomfortable polite chit-chat with people who (I was
convinced) didn't like me very much to begin with. I never
felt like I "belonged." The women would be clustered together
in the kitchen -- Peg, Sheryl, Judy, Patty (when
she was in town) -- and I would sit off to one
side, listening to their conversation and feeling completely isolated
from them. I would usually try to stick close to Ray, but he
(having no idea how terrified and uncomfortable I felt) would get up
and go off to another part of the house to watch a football game, or he
would go outside to help his Dad barbecue, and I'd wind up sitting
alone in the living room, feeling (and looking) like an
idiot. Or I would use my babies as a social
"shield" -- busying myself with their diapers and
bottles, always making sure I had at least one of them sitting on my
lap -- just because it made me feel less "alone" in
this roomful of people ... more "connected" to this
family. But of course the babies eventually became
toddlers, and would no longer willingly sit on Mama's lap for any
length of time, and there I'd be, sitting alone again ...
not that I was treated unkindly. Most of the time the folks
went out of their way to try and involve me in conversations and put me
at ease. Judy was my best friend at the time, so I always
felt like I had one ally, even though I envied her natural ease around
our in-laws ... she could always talk to them so
comfortably. Next to her, I felt like a lump. And
the rest of them, if not overtly friendly (especially Sheryl), were at
least cordial. The problem was strictly me. I just
couldn't shake the feeling of being a stranger in their midst, and for
that reason most of these family dinners were a little taste of hell on
earth for me.
did it change? I honestly don't know. I sit here
and think about how different it is now, and there is no one specific
incident that comes to mind ... nothing I can
pinpoint that explains when it stopped being "hell" and started being
"family." I suppose some of it happened when Ray and I
reconciled five years ago, when he got his new job and our lives got
back on track. (My father-in-law brings that up all the time,
especially when it's just he and I talking: how "proud" he is of Ray
and I, how much we've "grown up." I suppose that maybe I've
earned his respect, at least a little.) Some of it may have
to do with the kids, too ... they bind us together
in a way that conversational ease and good manners could never
do. They give us common ground. I don't
know. Maybe I've just grown up more than I think I
have. Whatever the reasons, though, the past few times that
we've all been together -- especially this past
Sunday -- I felt some amazing emotions, things I
NEVER thought I would feel. Ease. Warmth.
Familiarity. Seniority! (With Judy long gone, I am
now the "senior" child-in-law ... !)
Friendship. Affection, especially for my mother-in-law and
for my niece and nephews. I don't sit alone
anymore. I don't feel uncomfortable talking to my
father-in-law, or to Sheryl and Jeff, even ... I no
longer feel like the odd person out. It seems as natural as
breathing to get my mother-in-law a cup of coffee, to hug Sheryl's
kids, to help pick up the dirty dishes after dinner, to kiss the
in-laws goodbye. I'm still not the most scintillating
conversationalist in the room, but it doesn't cause me the anxiety it
used to ...
rate, the hightlight of Sunday's visit for me --
aside from realizing that I "belong," finally --
was meeting our new nephew (Barbara's son) for the very first
time! He is the second-cutest baby boy I've ever
seen. (After MY son, of course.) I held him for a
long, long time, and it was pure sensory delight for me
... his warm weightiness in my arms, the little cooing noises
he made, his wonderful "new baby" smell.
ha. Guess what happens when you "blithely ignore" a ringing
telephone ... ? They come and knock on
your door because they're "worried" about you!!! I opened the
door, and there stood Velma and her son.
My heart just
"I tried calling and calling," she said, "and when
there was no answer I thought I'd better check on you."
Naturally I had to invite her in; I made some feeble excuse about
'forgetting' to turn the phone on this morning, and that seemed to
placate her. She's one of those people who would never in a
million years understand Terri's Rule ("Just because a phone is ringing
doesn't mean you have to ANSWER it"). If I told her I just
plain wasn't answering the phone because I didn't want to talk to
anybody, she'd be all hurt and huffy. Why does it have to be
so much WORK, being her friend ... ?
Good day -- energetic -- got a lot done. Very cold this morning, feels like fall.
Mak spent the day with
his aunt so I had no babysitting at all. Velma showed up
unexpectedly ... visited for an hour.
Walked to Trailer Town
this afternoon (felt good to be outside), bought myself some wine and
ginger ale. Ray in a good mood when he got home.
Janet called, asked me a
huge favor -- I had to type a 3 pg. résumé
for her husband -- when I was done they didn't even say
'thank you' !
September 16, 1992
Exhausted. After the kids left for school I went back to bed and
slept until afternoon. Forced myself to get up and move around before the kids got home from
school. Made tacos for dinner, ran some laundry.
Lori and Tracy stopped by for an unexpected visit this evening. Kyle and Kacie to church, Jay stayed home.
September 17, 1992
now here it is, two days later, and guess who just phones to say she's
"on the way over" ... ? DAMN
it. I am getting so fucking tired of unexpected
company. Last night it was Lori, who arrived unannounced just
as we were sitting down to dinner; the night before that it was Janet,
who asked me to type a job résumé for her husband (a two-hour job for
which I was neither thanked nor compensated). Even my own
mother has popped in on me twice in the past week and a half, without
warning. And now I am in for another one of Velma's
excruciating "visits." Shit on a stick.
well. You'll have to excuse my negative, anti-social frame of
mind ... it's my PMS week, and I view every
unexpected visit as an intrusion lately. I mean, I've NEVER
liked unexpected company, but it's ten times more unpleasant when I
feel bloated and grumpy. Listening to me, you'd think I hate
my friends, especially Velma, and that's just not true
... I love my friends. I love HAVING friends. I
went for almost ten years without a single close girlfriend (except for
my sister-in-law Judy, and that was more family connection than true
friendship), and it's a state of being that I'd never want to endure
again. I just wish that everyone would back off for a few
days and let me work through my bad mood in peace
... Velma with her ceaseless smug advice, Lori with her
jabber-jabber-jabber, Janet with her relentless perkiness
but trying not to take it out on anybody. Velma was here
AGAIN ... she brought over some fabric samples, offered to
recover my sofa pillows. This was something I wanted to do
myself, but I don't have the heart to tell her so.
September 18, 1992
Here is a perfect example of why I find Velma so irritating.
Two days ago when she was here and I was desperately casting about for
something to talk about, I mentioned that I was thinking about
re-covering some of my old, dingy sofa pillows. My
mother-in-law has re-done hers -- I saw them last
weekend -- that's what gave me the idea.
She re-covered them in the most beautiful, bright colored
fabrics ... it looked great. So I said to Velma, "I'm going to go to a fabric store this weekend and pick out
some bright pretty material, maybe something with flowers, and cover my
pillows with it." Naturally she had to immediately start
telling me how to go about it ... how to sew the
covers, what kind of material to use, even what COLOR to use.
("I'd pick bright yellow!" she said. Ugggh.) I'm so
used to her unsolicited advice by now that I just said "Yes, great,
thanks," and resisted the impulse to tell her that she was driving me
So now she comes over yesterday, only
this time she's got this enormous swatch of fabric with her
... a paisley print in very dark, muted colors
... and she announces that this is what SHE is going to cover
my pillows with!! I was completely speechless!! I
will admit that it's a pretty material -- I could see it for
a bedspread, maybe, or a tablecloth -- but it's not
at all what I had in mind for my pillows. The next thing I
know, though, she's measuring the pillows, and talking about how she's
going to "trim" them with lace and buttons, and meanwhile I'm just
sitting there, shocked ... and then this morning
she called at 8:30 to tell me that she's "finished cutting out the
Did I say this yesterday? Yes I did, but
I'll say it again anyway: ARRGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
want to know the really amazing part? I'm going to let her do
it. I'm going to just sit back and let her cover my pillows
in a fabric I didn't pick out and don't especially care for. Why? Because I don't
want to hurt her feelings, I suppose ... because
she takes such obvious pleasure in doing things for me. It's
like all that awful homemade jam and applesauce she's forever bringing
over: we don't like it, we don't eat it -- I just
dump it out and give her back the empty jars -- but
she's always so proud of it, and so pleased with herself for sharing it
with us -- that I don't have the heart to say "Enough
already." Or the time she hemmed my best dress for Barbara's
wedding last February. Instead of taking off the two inches
I'd requested, she whacked eight inches off the hem. It
totally ruined the lines of the dress, and I doubt that I'll ever wear
it again -- plus it was the last dress Grandma Vert
ever bought for me -- but I just didn't have the
heart to tell her how mad I was because SHE was so happy with her
work. And now it's the sofa pillows. I'm sure
they'll look perfectly fine -- they'll probably
even be pretty -- but I'm going to resent them for
the rest of my life because of the way I allowed her to railroad
course, there's a darker, less noble reason for letting Velma go ahead
and do my pillows ... I'm getting it done for FREE! Hell yeah. Free ugly pillows!
kids have all gone to the Puyallup Fair today with their school, by the
way. Such excitement when they left this morning!!
They'll be home at the regular time, though, and I'm looking forward to
hearing all about it. I've got Danielle and Cody here for the
day, and right now they're playing with Mak in the living
room. Hopefully Cody Bear isn't pulling the batteries out of
the remote again. (I've snuck out here to the laundry room to
grab a quick cigarette and a 1:00 cup of coffee.)
Danielle & Cody here for a few hours. My kids (and the entire
Bow Lake student body) went on a day-long field trip to the Puyallup
Fair, then Jamie went home with Nicole, spent the night ...
suppose we won't see her for the rest of the weekend.
Fun night with Ray, up late.
September 19, 1992
Nothing much. Jamie spent another day and night at
Nicole's. I avoided most phone calls -- just didn't
feel like talking to anybody.
September 20, 1992
Finally finished "The Dark Half" (S. King) -- took me much
longer than usual to get into it, I don't know why -- have
now started the third book in the Gunslinger/Dark Tower series, "The
Jamie still gone -- went to the fair with Nicole -- didn't get home until late tonight.
Ray grocery-shopped this afternoon, then BBQ'd good steaks for dinner.
September 21, 1992
Feeling a bad mood coming on ... this will be my PMS week,
so fortunately the mood is mostly hormonal. Ray is treating me
like a kid again, and I hate it ... Jamie holes herself up
in her room ALL THE TIME ... Kacie is constantly turning
cartwheels in the living room ... Kyle is an aggressive,
And me? I'm the Wicked Witch of Polenville.
September 22, 1992
bad mood is here. Found myself weeping over the most ridiculous
things, all day long ... a sad song on TV, a grouchy word
from Ray, an un-funny "joke" from Jamie ... couldn't seem
to turn off the tears.
Baked some chocolate chip cookies, made a homemade pizza for
dinner. John stopped by for awhile this evening, visited with Ray
September 23, 1992
in, a few days later.
is officially here. It arrived yesterday at 2:43 p.m., and to
celebrate I got out all the "autumn decorations"
... the dried corn, the orange candles, the Halloween
had two really shitty night's sleep in a row; awful stomach-aches
punctuated by weird dreams, mostly. Night before last, I
dreamed about both of my grandmothers. In the first dream,
my old boyfriend Scott and the kids and I took Grandma St. John camping at Lake
Limerick; in the second dream, I was in the old Terry Trailer
with Grandma and Grandpa Vert, except that the trailer had been in a
fire or something because it was all burned out inside. That
dream, in particular, left me feeling sad all day yesterday, and I
found myself weeping over the slightest things ...
a sad part of the book I'm reading, Ray's grumpy mood when he got home
from work, a comment Jamie made, a song on the "Wonder Years"
re-run .... it was ridiculous!! Last
night I dreamed that I had a baby, a son we named Jeremy
Douglas. I was so happy about having this new baby, but then
I looked at him and realized that he wasn't a newborn at all
-- he was about three or four years old already
-- and I felt somehow "cheated" by that ...
Anyway, I'm making a heroic effort this morning to shake off the
strange dreams and get myself moving. I have a modest amount
of housework to do, the second half of a great book ("The Waste Lands"
by Stephen King, the third installment of his Dark Tower series) and
some taped TV shows to watch this afternoon, so I can keep myself
raining this morning ... a lovely, autumn-like
sound and feeling. Why does autumn always make me want to
make an enormous pot of soup and organize all the kitchen
drawers? What is it about this particular season that pushes
so many emotional buttons -- nostalgia, optimism,
regret, peace, agitation, comfort, uncertainty ...
? More than any other time of the year, fall makes me think
about my childhood -- and my future. I
think maybe that's why the trailer dream got to me so much yesterday:
and why, later in the evening, Joni Mitchell's "Circle Game" completely
did me in. They were reminders of things past.
little better. Josh was suspended from school for one day, so he
has to spend it here ... he and Mak played in Kyle's
room most of the time because it was pouring down RAIN.
on a tape ("Favorites Two"), drank some wine. John and Lori
stopped by briefly, but Lori was in a really rotten mood, barely said
two words to me. Kacie and Kyle to church.
September 24, 1992
stormy day (again). Slept an extra couple of hours after the kids
went to school -- felt good. Roasted some chicken,
made stuffing to go with it.
and Lori both called -- Lori apologized for last
night -- said she wasn't mad at me, but at John.
Did a little work on my cookbook, watched TV -- basically lazy.
Friday 10 a.m.
September 25, 1992
There is a mountain of laundry on the floor at my feet this
morning ... you should see it. How this
family manages to go through so many clothes and towels in just a few
short days is a genuine mystery. I'll be doing laundry all
day, probably ... and washing dishes, since the
kitchen is a revolting mess as well. I must be the water
company's best customer.
are a little better today, emotionally. Some of the "hormonal
yuck" has levelled off, anyway -- the weepiness,
the fatigue, the awful black fog of despair. Now I'll have a
couple of normal days, followed by two or three days (the days
immediately preceding my period) of almost manic physical and emotional
energy. Month after month it goes this way, with very little
variation. You know what's amazing about this,
though? I've been menstruating for 21 years now (god, that
makes me feel old), and yet it's only been within the past couple of
years that I've become aware of these inevitable patterns of ups and
downs. I suppose it's possible that they didn't actually
begin until I hit my 30's, but it seems far more likely that I simply
wasn't paying attention until now. I've read a lot of
articles about PMS; some of them say that it's just a myth,
but I really don't think so. It's just too predictable and
consistent, at least with me. It's like clockwork.
I'm only amazed that it took me so long to figure it out.
doing laundry -- two more loads to go, at
laundry for NINE HOURS today. Where in the world does it all come
from?! Managed to get the rest of the house looking fairly decent
too. Busy weekend ahead, might not be time for housework.
left early -- Ray home, late afternoon -- took
the kids and I to Target so I could buy some badly-needed makeup, hair
color, presents for Angela's b.day party tomorrow.
Sloppy joes for dinner. Bed EARLY.
September 26, 1992
so much for my "clockwork" theory ... my period hit
this morning, two days early! I guess that means that
yesterday was my "manic energy day," and I didn't even know
it. Oh well.
and windy morning. The kids and I are going to Angela's
birthday party at noon -- I'll write something
about it when I get home.
... and god, what an afternoon. Velma came and
picked us up at noon, and we just now got back: four and a half hours
at Velma's house, listening to Angela complain about her
birthday presents, complain about the guests who didn't show up,
complain about the guests who DID show up ...
I swear, I'm not going to do any Velma-bashing today. She worked
really hard on this party, and she was wonderfully sweet to the kids
and I. I complain about her too much as it is.
Sometimes I think I don't even deserve to have her as a
Period hit this morning, two days early.
Today was Angela's 10th birthday party. Velma came and picked up
the kids and I at noon, we stayed at her place until late
afternoon ... the kids had fun.
Jamie spent the night at Nicole's -- Ray and Kyle watched
"The Terminator" -- Kacie and I spent the evening in my
office, listening to music and working on projects.
September 27, 1992
went out to work at the Kirkland house this morning but only stayed for
a few hours -- came home and watched the Seahawks game on
TV. Joey B. came over to play with Kyle, but the two of them
fought like cats and dogs; Kacie rode bikes with Bernadette and Tracy;
Jamie gone all day. Colored my hair, made a big chicken-fried
steak for dinner.
girls and I watched the first half of a mystery movie ("Obsessed,"
Shannon Doherty and William Devane), taped the rest to watch tomorrow.
morning again, and feeling much better than I did a week ago.
Still have my period, and it's very heavy this month, but at least I
don't have that dark cloud of gloom hanging over my head
(Of course, it's still early ... )
a pretty good weekend -- nothing to shout about,
but pleasant. Lately Kacie and I have been spending a lot of
time together, and find her to be a cheerful, interesting
little companion. I love the age she's at now.
Jamie generally wants to spend her weekends as far away from home (and
from me) as possible -- she spent Saturday at
Nicole's again, and was gone all day yesterday --
so Kacie and I find ourselves thrown together a lot more.
Saturday night she and I sat out in my office, listening to music and
working on projects together ... it was
nice. She's such a sweet little girl, so open-hearted and
full of life. I can say in all honesty that I've never known
anyone quite like her.
Summer ... very beautiful weather. Tore into the
housework and laundry, sorted some of the girls' old clothes to give to
my niece (Stephanie was supposed to come by and pick the clothes up,
but she never showed up), did a little work on an old photo album.
The girls and I watched the second half of "Obsessed" after school.
September 29, 1992
Indian Summer morning ... beautiful, sunny, cool
now but due to climb into the 70's later this afternoon.
Very hot today -- somewhere in the 80's, I think
-- one last blast of summer before autumn begins in earnest, I
Got on a radio talk show this morning (KING-AM) for the first time ever -- topic was "Roommates From Hell."
September 30, 1992
sleepy day. Stomach ache. Ignored the housework and just
took it easy all day. VERY hot again, up in the high 70's.
October 1, 1992
goes on, per normal. It's been VERY hot all week
-- one last blast of summer before autumn begins in earnest,
I guess. I had already begun to pack up the summer clothes
for storage in the attic, but it looks like I jumped the gun.
I can't believe I'm sitting here on the first day of October in SHORTS!
of things on my mind this week. A few nights ago I had a
dream about an old boyfriend (Jerry) and it's prompted all those
stoopid "loss of romance" feelings again, dammit. For a lot
of reasons that I don't really want to go into right now, dreams about
that particular relationship always stay with me longer than any
others. (It was an intensely complicated relationship, for
one thing. It was also one romance that I really, REALLY wish
had worked out differently, for another. So I still have a
lot of unresolved feelings there.) At any rate, emotional
residue from the dream has been hanging around my head and heart all
week. I'm determined not to sit around in a funk,
though -- the way I did when this stuff hit me last
month -- and I've tried to channel some of this
nostalgic/emotional energy into other things, like losing some weight
(What if I ran into him at the grocery store? Would I want
him -- or anyone else -- to see
me looking the way I do?) I've also decided to do some work
on my memoirs this fall, finally, in hopes that it will help resolve
some of these things that keep derailing me emotionally. Not
only the relationship with Jerry, but other things
-- my marriage, losing Grandma Vert, problems with my
dad -- things that I've never fully come to terms
with and which may be holding me back now. I always feel a
little stupid when I talk about my memoirs. My life has been
remarkably unremarkable: what business do I have, writing an
autobiography? And who in the hell would ever want
to read it, anyway? It seems somehow presumptuous of me, I
guess ... a little on the self-absorbed
side. And yet, it still feels like something I need to
do. Maybe it's a way of validating my life and my
memories. Maybe the kids will enjoy reading it someday, or my
grandchildren if I have any. (Speaking strictly for myself, I
would dearly LOVE to discover that my grandmother had written her
memoirs ... it would be like finding buried
treasure!) Or maybe someday something will happen to me and I
won't be able to remember anything at all about my childhood
-- Alzheimer's, for instance, or a stroke
-- this way, at least, some of the memories will be
preserved. At any rate, I'm going to do some work on the
autobiograpy this fall and see if I can put some of these feelings to
rest, once and for all. I wrote a slap-dash version of it
about ten years ago, but I did it in a hurry and it's woefully
incomplete and sloppy.
October 2, 1992
No, I mean it ... I've got to channel some of this
emotional STUFF, and I've got to do it soon. Last night I
sank into the most incredibly depressed, witchy mood
-- snapping at everybody, especially Ray
-- by bedtime no one in this entire family was speaking to
me!! Honest to god, I don't know what's happening to me
lately. I'm spending so much time with my nose in the past,
I'm completely missing the present.
October 3, 1992
took Jamie and I shopping this morning -- Kacie stayed home
and "babysat" Kyle -- we went to Foster's Office Supply
($27 worth of typewriter ribbons) and Pay 'n Save. (Ran into my
went out and watched the Huskies game at B-Z's, I spent the afternoon
working on the kids' Memory Book, drinking wine. Stayed up late.
October 4, 1992
Nearly broke again, two days after payday ... worried about
how we'll get through the next two weeks. Called Velma and asked
if I could postpone paying her the $30 I owe her for wrapping paper;
she said OK, but I could tell she wasn't too happy about it.
house is a mess but I didn't do a thing today except cook dinner
(chicken patties on buns).
Girls and I stayed up late and watched a Suzanne Somers movie, "Exclusive."
October 5, 1992
Woke up with a sore throat and headache ... my annual reaction to the woodstove.
Restored the house to order, did a lot of cooking and a TON of laundry.
October 6, 1992
brief scribble ... Danielle and Cody Bear are here
today (for the first time in a couple of weeks), and I need to keep an
eye on them. At the moment, they're out in the living room
watching "Sesame Street." (It seems really STRANGE to be
hearing the voices of Bert & Ernie, Oscar, Elmo et al, coming
from the living room again!! -- my own kids outgrew
that show a couple of years ago.) Andrea is spending her day
at the Unemployment Office, and afterwards is applying for a job at the
new Mervyn's at Southcenter. She hasn't said anything
officially about going back to work -- or about
whether she'll be re-hiring me as a babysitter --
but intuition tells me it's a possibility. Lord knows we
could use the money, especially with the holidays looming
Anyway, I've got a busy babysitting day ahead of me,
and then a busy evening as well -- tonight is Open
House at the kids' school. I've been fighting insomnia again
lately, and I hope that all this activity today will help me finally
get some SLEEP tonight.
out this weekend and bought over thirty dollars' worth of typing
equipment -- ribbons and paper
-- but then instead of tackling the autobiography project, as
planned, I switched gears and worked on the kids' "Memory Book"
instead. (This is a collection of journal entries, from 1981
to the present ... mostly amusing anecdotes about
the kids as they've grown.) It helped diffuse some of this
ridiculous, sophomoric mooning and moping I've been doing
lately ... I feel much better now. I
still plan to rework the memoirs sometime soon, but for right now I'm
going to concentrate on the here & now and get the Memory Book
finished before anything else.
and Cody here today, thank god ... we really need the
$. Danielle was very quiet -- mostly we just and
watched TV together.
was Open House at Bow Lake. Visited the kids' classrooms, spoke
to their teachers. Book Fair in the library -- let
each of the kids pick out $5.00 worth of books, posters.
October 7, 1992
it didn't work ... my plan to get a decent night's
sleep, that is. In spite of all the housework and babysitting
yesterday, and then going to the Open House in the evening, I still got
barely more than three hours' of sleep. I turned off the TV
at 10:10 and immediately fell into a deep, satisfying snooze
... for half an hour! Then for the next four or
five hours I lay on the sofa, tossing and turning, watching the
clock. Ray had built a fire in the woodstove while the kids
and I were over at the school, and it turned the living room into an
OVEN ... I ended up pulling off my sweats, throwing
my blanket onto the floor and turning on the fan to try and cool off,
but it didn't help much. Sometime around 3:30 a.m. I finally
drifted off, but even that wasn't restful sleep: I had a long,
complicated dream about the cast of "The Young & The Restless"
and I making a movie together. (?) Awake again
shortly after 6 a.m., when Ray was stomping around the house getting
ready for work, I finally decided "Hell with it" and just got
up. I'll definitely be running on reserves today, fueled by
coffee and diet pills (which are undoubtedly the reason why I'm not
sleeping in the first place). Oh well ...
an enormous batch of shish kebobs for tonight's dinner, cleaned out my
bedroom closet, typed a contribution for Aunt Mabel's book, worked on
the kids' Memory Book.
Called the radio again, talked to Rick Miller this time (about the silly Barbie/math controversy).
Drank some wine, typed, called my Dad and wished him a Happy Birthday.
October 8, 1992
news today -- our Jamie was elected school
Secretary/Treasurer today! (She ran against Tia, of all
people ...) I'm so proud of her! Not only that, but
both she and Kyle received "Super Beaver" awards for this month.
day for me ... made a big pot of chicken soup, watched a
good afternoon movie ("For Keeps"), sorted through old magazines.
Quiet evening, also.
October 9, 1992
Shit, shit, shit. Now I have the delightful task of calling Velma and telling her I can't pay her the $30 I owe her.
Should be lotsa, lotsa FUN ...
OK ... it wasn't that bad. I gave her a
lame song and dance about our checking account being "fouled up," and
how we owe the water company a bunch of money by 5 p.m. or we'll be cut
off, and by the end of the conversation she was actually consling
me. Do I feel guilty about manipulating her like
that? Yes, a little. (The sofa pillows are probably
going to bother me today: every time I see them, I'll remember what a
good friend she is, and my conscience will bug me.) But the
fact is that I WILL pay her in the next few days --
I have no intention of stiffing her completely. (The money is
for some Christmas wrapping paper I ordered from Angela, by the way:
her school's fund-raising program.) I just needed to stall
for a few days, that's all.
Open House on Tuesday night went OK. The new principal (Dr.
B) doesn't have the charisma or sense of authority that Mrs. Wagner
had -- the kids tell me that EVERYBODY misses Mrs.
Wagner -- and we had to sit through a
mind-numbingly-boring slide presentation on the school bond issue
before visiting the children's classrooms, but otherwise it was a
pleasant evening. As usual, I ran into a lot of people I
know, and it felt good to be out of the house for a little
while. Jamie's new teacher (Mrs. B) seems very nice, and she
had some good things to say about the way Jamie participates in
class. Of course, I already knew Ms. Kido and Mrs. McCall
(Kacie and Kyle's teachers, respectively), but it was nice to renew our
acquaintance. Mrs. McCall, especially, seems very fond of
Kyle. (As a matter of fact she called me at home a couple of
days later to tell me how much she enjoys having him in her class, and
also to let me know that he'd won the Beaver Award for the month of
September!) I didn't get much of a chance to talk to Kacie's
teacher -- I'm anxious to find out how she is doing
in this very challenging class -- but Parent/Teacher
Conferences are coming up pretty soon so I'll have a chance to speak
with Ms. Kido then.
thing happened yesterday: Jamie was elected school Secretary/Treasurer
in a school election ceremony! Her first personal
victory! (Funnily enough, her "competition" was none other
than Tia ... who, rumor has it, is furious that
Jamie beat her.)
kids have the day off from school (Teachers Workshop) --
that means that we had Josh here for the entire day -- he forced his
little brother to eat a toadstool.) Two very unpleasant phone
conversations with Velma (about money) also upset me.
Jamie went to spend the night at Kaleana's ... Tracy came here to sleep over. Broiled hamburgers for dinner.
October 10, 1992
are beginning to pile up on me again. This shit with Velma,
for one thing, has turned ugly ... she called me
again yesterday afternoon and said that her husband is getting all
pissed off at me (and at her) because I haven't paid them
yet. To tell you the truth, I wish I'd never ordered any of
that fucking wrapping paper in the first place. If she calls
me today, I'm going to tell her to forget the whole thing, and if
that's the end of our "friendship," then so be it. Being
friends with Velma is just too damn much work ...
a constant juggling act of keeping her feelings from being
hurt. I've always got to be so careful to say the "right"
things, to take her unsolicited advice without complaint, to
be cheerful and polite around her even when I don't really feel that
way, to constantly show my undying GRATITUDE for EVERY LITTLE 'FAVOR' ... it's exhausting. And frankly
it's just not worth it. Why can't my friendship with Velma
be more like the one I have with Lori? Comfortable, honest,
easy, no ridiculously overblown expectations? If one of us is
feeling grumpy or hungover or just plain doesn't feel like talking on
the phone, we SAY so, and there are no hurt feelings on either
side. Simple favors don't have to be repaid in blood: we do
nice things for each other because we want to, not because we expect
anything in return. If all of my friendships were like the
one I have with Lori, what an uncomplicated world it would be
to have a nice Saturday, anyway, in spite of the crap with Velma (and
in spite of the fact that we are dead broke). Ray is working,
Jamie is at Kaleana's; it's just Kyle, Kacie, Tracy (who spent the
night) and me. It's a sunny, cool autumn morning and I'm
feeling energetic in spite of another crappy night's sleep.
(Our wacko neighbors, the ones who always give us shit about our cats,
had a huge drunken party last night which erupted into a violent
free-for-all out on their lawn at 1:30 a.m.)
Ray worked today. Jamie gone all day, spent another night at
Kaleana's. Tracy stayed here and played with Kacie until late
Typed, drank some wine.
October 11, 1992
Nice, quiet day. Ray, Kacie and Kyle went out to Bellevue to eat
salmon at the folks' house; Jamie and I begged off. She went to
see "The Mighty Ducks" with Kaleana, I stayed home and napped.
Still worried and upset about the Velma situation. I'll have to call her tomorrow and try to straighten things out.
October 12, 1992
stayed home sick today, complaining of "nausea" ... she and
I sat around watching TV all day, and I got very little done, but it
was pleasant anyway.
Velma called: things seem to be OK between us, and I'll finally be able to pay her tomorrow (whew).
Fried some chicken drumsticks for dinner. Good Monday night TV.
October 13, 1992
days later ... a cold, soggy morning.
Lots to do today. I took a two-day hiatus from hnousework (Sunday
because I was burned out; Monday because Jamie stayed home sick, and
she and I sat around watching TV all day!) So today is a
"catching up" day. Dishes, laundry, vacuuming, the whole nine
to admit this -- I hate to even write
this -- but I spent the entire weekend worrying
about Velma. Every time the phone rang, I jumped: would it
be her, calling to give me hell about that stupid thirty
bucks?! It totally ruined the weekend for me. More
than once I considered taking the bull by the horns and calling HER,
just to get the confrontation over with once and for all, but I'd get
as far as picking up the phone and then I'd freeze solid. I
was furious with myself for being so gutless, of course. Why
couldn't I take the high road, just this once??
Instead, I moped around and avoided the phone and worked myself into a
nice little frenzy of worry ...
and the thing is, Velma never called, all weekend, and when she
finally DID call -- yesterday
-- she was as pleasant and nice as could be, never even
mentioning the money until I brought it up! And today I
actually have her money (Ray left me a check) and the whole thing is
history. (She'll be here to pick it up in about an
hour.) So all of the worrying I've been doing this past week
was utterly pointless. When will I ever learn ... ?
am determined not to write another word about Velma
-- complaining or otherwise -- for as
long as possible. I feel like I've already wasted too much
time and ink in this journal, moaning about the ups and downs of our
strange friendship .... I'd rather be writing about
my children! Ten years from now I probably won't even
remember her last name, let alone want to read page after page about
an interesting thought, by the way ... where will
this family be in ten years? It'll be the year
2002. Ray and I will be in our forties; the girls will be out
of high school, Kyle will be in his junior (or senior) year
... where will we be? What will be going on in our
lives? What triumphs and losses will we have lived through? I answer this question here.
came by first thing this morning, and I finally paid her for the
wrapping paper. What a sense of relief!! She brought us
some more jam and applesauce, stayed to visit for a little while.
October 14, 1992
Bone-tired all day long. Lately I'm not sleeping well at all, and it's becoming a real problem.
Long phone conversation with Lori, another "depressed" phone call from
Janet. Made bean soup for the freezer, Swiss steak for
dinner. Typed a few more pages for the kids' book: am up to
Jamie had her first dance class tonight (Kacie doesn't want to take it this year), Kyle and Kacie went to church.
October 15, 1992
Finally got a decent night's sleep last night ... woke up feeling good.
October 16, 1992
and rainy ... I kept the fire going in the woodstove all
day, and it gave the house a very cozy, "autumn-like" atmosphere.
and Jessica stopped by this afternoon -- I gave Janet her
belated b.day gifts. Jamie went home with Nicole after school,
spent the night. Taco Time for dinner.
Ray stayed up very late; I couldn't sleep because of all his noise.
Glorious, wonderful SATURDAY ...
ran around and stayed up until the wee hours last night, making noise
and turning lights on and off, while I valiantly layed in bed trying to
get some sleep. I think it was 2:30 a.m. or so before he
finally settled down. I'm annoyed with him this morning as a
result (not to mention deeply tired), but it won't do me any good to
complain about it ... besides, I need him
to drive me to Burien this morning (typewriter ribbons at my office
supply store, plus a Pay 'n Save stop) so I'd best not start off on the
wrong foot with him. I'll get my revenge at a later date.
nearly 10:30 now and he's still laying in bed. I've showered,
dried and set my hair, put on my war paint, washed the dishes,
straightened up the bathroom and folded the clean laundry
... now I'm just sitting here, smoking a cigarette and
listening to the radio. The early morning rain has given way
to unexpected sunshine: it might be a nice day.
Did a little shopping this morning -- more typewriter
ribbons at the office supply place, skincare stuff at Pay 'n Save
(which is now Payless, by the way). Worked on a reply to Deanne's
letter, most of the afternoon.
went out and watched his game, came home drunk and grumpy
-- he called Jamie at Nicole's and "ordered" her to come home.
October 19, 1992
was. (A nice day on Saturday, I mean.) It was also
a fairly nice weekend, except for one incident on Saturday
night. Jamie had ended up spending both Friday and Saturday
nights at her friend Nicole's house, in spite of the fact that I'm
trying to cut back on these marathon sleepovers. Lately
they've been occurring every weekend. What usually
happens is this: Jamie goes home after school on Friday with one of her
friends -- Nicole most of the time, but weekend
before last it was Kaleana -- and she spends Friday
night there. "Just ONE NIGHT," I'll tell her, and I mean it
when I say it. But then she calls me late Saturday afternoon,
after I've had a couple of glasses of wine and I am feeling benevolent,
and she says "Can I pleeease spend one more night?" And I
find it very difficult to refuse her. This means, of course,
that it's my fault for not being consistent, and I AM going to try
harder in the future. But this weekend she got away with it
again. Anyway, Ray came home on Saturday night after spending
several hours at B-Z's, watching the Huskies and drinking
beer. He was drunk, tired and grumpy, and when he found out
that Jamie was still over at Nicole's, he blew a gasket. "I
want her ass home RIGHT NOW!" he bellowed. I told him I
thought he was being unreasonable, and that he had no business
countermanding a decision of mine. That sent him into a total
rage. Finally I said "Fine, if you want her home so badly,
YOU call her at Nicole's and tell her so." I must explain
that I never for a moment expected he would actually call her
... but he did. He ranted and raved at her over the
phone, reducing her to tears -- I can just imagine
what Nicole's parents must have been thinking, listening to her side of
it -- and she actually hung up on him after a
couple of minutes! A real low point in their relationship,
let me tell you. I finally managed to get Ray to calm down; I
explained to him that Mrs. S. was planning to take the girls shopping
at the mall the next morning, so Jamie could buy her tap shoes, and
that was the only reason I'd OK'd the second night. He still
wasn't happy about the idea, and Jamie hanging up on him really
bothered him, but he eventually seemed to see reason and he quit making
a big stink about it. I fed him some dinner and he mercifully
passed out soon afterwards, and when Jamie finally came home the next
day, nothing more was said about it.
think a big part of the problem, in situations like this, is that Ray
feels like he has no real authority around here. The truth
is -- he doesn't. In matters of
discipline and decision-making (where the kids are concerned), I have
pretty much always been the final word. I don't
know whether that's because I've been more involved with them on a
day-to-day basis, right from the start, or if it's because I perceive
myself as having the more dominant personality. I suspect
it's a little of both. Whatever the reason, though, it's me that the
kids come to with problems and requests ... it's me
who sets the rules and doles out the punishments
... and when Ray occasionally tries to step in and take over,
it's usually a disaster.
The strangest thing happened today ... the phone didn't
ring ONCE all day!! I had to keep checking to make sure it was
plugged in. (It was.)
The BAD news is that I expected two people to stop by today
-- Janet to cut my hair, Stephanie to pick up the clothes for
Karen -- and neither one of them showed up OR called.
Corned beef and cabbage for dinner.
October 20, 1992
it's Tuesday (October 20), a wild and windy morning, and Kyle is home
sick. He's thrown up three times since he woke up, and I
suspect that he's running a fever, although I don't have a
thermometer. Right now he's laying in my bed watching TV, and
he's as pale and listless and limp as a dishrag. My poor baby.
worst part about Kyle being sick is that's he so bewildered by it
all. "I can't figure out what's makin' me BARF so much," he
said, and he was genuinely puzzled ... as though he
thinks it was something he did that made him sick. I keep
trying to explain that it's just a flu bug, probably, and that
everybody gets it once in a while, but I can tell by the look in his
eyes that he's still troubled by it all.
Kyle threw up in my bed, first thing this morning: kept him home from
school. Poor little guy -- being sick really confuses
and upsets him.
I cleaned the front bathroom thoroughly, straightened out the hall closet.
October 21, 1992
swelling theme music:
GIRLS' BEDROOM .................. THE FINAL FRONTIER!"
is the voyage of the Momship "FedUpWithTheMess." Her all-day
mission: to explore strange, laundry-infested bedrooms
... to seek out moldy apple cores and naked Barbie
dolls ... to boldly go where NO MOM HAS BEEN IN
THREE MONTHS ...
I've been in there sorting dirty clothes for an hour and I'm pooped
already. The last time I cleaned the girls' room was last July,
when they were at camp; now I remember WHY I don't do this very
sad note about today's cleaning: I'm packing up all the Barbie stuff
and sending it upstairs to the attic. My sophisticated
daughters seem to have finally outgrown Barbie &
Friends. I never see them playing with their Barbie toys
anymore -- they sold the Townhouse to Danielle last
summer -- it is the end of yet another era.
"coffee break" ... another hour of intensive
cleaning. I'm on my third garbage box, and I haven't even
gotten around to the vanity, the closet or the bunkbeds yet! Most
disgusting "find" so far: the clump of bird feathers under the
bed. Most irritating "find" so far: a bunch of outdated
computer slips from Kacie's teacher, which I'm supposed to have signed
and returned to school two weeks ago. Most amusing "find" so
far: there haven't BEEN any ...
amend one thing. The "most digusting find" wasn't the clump
of bird feathers, after all ... it was the bird's
HEAD, which I discovered fifteen minutes later.
Kyle stayed home again today, although he does seem to be feeling better.
went in and completely cleaned the girls' bedroom, top to bottom: took
most of the day. (Most disgusting "find" -- a
dead bird's head, under Kacie's bunk.)
to dance class, Kacie and Kyle to church. Hamburger Helper
-- Jamie cooked it. A little wine and typing this evening.
Period started, two days early again.
October 22, 1992
Bill Clinton in Seattle this morning, gave a speech at The Pike Place
Market, I watched it on TV -- very moving and
inspiring. (Ray likes Ross Perot!)
Worked on my cookbook. Girls went to their G.S. meeting, Kyle and I baked some cookies.
October 23, 1992
couple of days later (TGIF!), and now it's Jamie's turn to be
sick. She went to Girl Scouts last night looking a little
pekid, but when she got home she looked positively ghastly
... her face was chalky white and there were huge dark
circles under her eyes. This morning her temperature is 101
and she can't keep anything down, so I kept her home. Right
now she's exactly where Kyle was 72 hours ago --
laying in my bed watching TV. She's a much more quiet and
uncomplaining patient than her brother, however! You'd hardly
even know she's here ...
warm and sunny today -- supposed to get up into the
upper 60's by afternoon. I've been cleaning like a maniac all
week (period started yesterday: my "manic energy days" seem to be
overlapping my "weepy" days this time), and today I'm considering going
in and doing the only room that's still a mess: Kyle's
bedroom. Then the entire house would pretty much be in order.
are a couple of things I've been meaning to write about for some time,
but haven't gotten around to. This is an election year, first
of all, and although I haven't written a word about it in this journal,
I've found myself very caught up in the Presidential election this
year, basically for the first time in my life. I started out
the year with no hard and fast opinions, one way or the other, but as
I've watched the campaigns progress and have listened to and read as
much about the issues and the candidates as possible, I've come to the
conclusion that Bill Clinton is the hope of this country's future.
Governor Clinton was in Seattle yesterday, speaking at the Pike Place
Market. I watched the speech on TV yesterday morning, and
found it incredibly thrilling ... I actually got
goosebumps, listening to him! He is sincere, dynamic,
articulate and passionate, his ideas are fresh and innovative, and he
genuinely seems to care about the middle class, about education, about
the economy and jobs, and about health care. He hasn't
resorted to the mud-slinging and the dirty campaign tactics the
Republicans have used this year. And I was particularly
impressed by the way he handled himself during the televised debates:
he kept his cool (and his sense of humor), he knew what he was talking
about, and he was completely presidential in every way. I
hope with my whole heart that he wins.
like his running mate, Senator Al Gore. Compared to Dan
Quayle, whom I LOATHE, Sen. Gore seems like a person who could step in
and take over the Presidency, if he had to, and handle the job
competently. Quayle is such a blithering, hysterical boob
that it scares me to death to think of our country in his hands.
admire and respect President Bush (I admire and respect Mrs. Bush even
more!), but he seems out of step and overly defensive. And I
definitely can't support the Republican platform, with its hard line on
abortion and gay rights. (The other "candidate," Ross
Perot -- who, unfortunately, Ray likes!
-- is a joke. I can't believe that anyone is taking
that's my opinion in a nutshell. The election is slightly
more than a week away, and at this point I really do think Clinton is
going to win. There's a last-minute flurry of political ads
on TV and radio this week, and it's interesting how President Bush has
suddenly switched from boasting about his "record" and his abilities,
to all-out Clinton-bashing. It might be funny if it weren't
Well ... today it's Jamie's turn. She didn't feel
well last night, and this morning she was 101° and nauseous so I
kept her home.
I cleaned Kyle's room, did a lot of laundry. Janet came by this
afternoon and trimmed my hair, 2" all the way around. Drank some
wine, typed a letter to Kathy. Ray and the kids watched
Stephanie came by to pick up Karen's clothes.
October 24, 1992
Cold and rainy. Ray went over and mowed my mom's lawn, then went to the tavern to watch football (with my blessing).
Typed a little this afternoon, but then I started feeling really
bad -- my whole body felt like it had been run over by a
truck -- layed on the couch for the rest of the evening.
October 25, 1992
really crummy ... joints, muscles, head and neck are sore,
throat is scratchy. We set our clocks back an hour today and the
time change has got us all goofed-up.
worked out in Kirkland most of the day. I made another big
chicken-fried steak dinner. Watched Hallowe'en cartoons with the
family, enjoyed a fire, went to bed early.
October 26, 1992
it's Monday, October 26th (Happy Birthday Asshole, wherever you are) and
I am blissfully alone for the first time in days.
Well ... not alone-alone, because Mak is here, but
as usual he is playing quietly in Kyle's room and he is so unobtrusive
that it almost feels like I'm alone. We'll have lunch
together and watch TV this afternoon, as usual. But the kids
are in school and Ray is at work, and the next six and a half hours are
all mine ... and that's plenty good enough.
re-read all the stuff I wrote about the Presidential race, and I'm a
little embarrassed by my gushing schoolgirl praise of Clinton
... I sound more like a star-struck fan than someone who has
undergone a genuine political awakening ... but you
must bear in mind how new all of this stuff is to me. Years
of apathy aren't replaced by articulate insights overnight! I
know how I FEEL about this stuff: it's just difficult to express it in
a way that makes me sound halfway intelligent. Maybe Governor
Clinton will be elected, only instead of leading this country into a
prosperous and peaceful future, he screws up royally and we end up
worse off than before. (This is what the Republicans are
predicting will happen.) Will I be embarrassed, then, that I
supported Clinton? Will I ever want to come back and rip
these pages out of my journal, so my children and grandchildren will
never know what a gullible dummy I was?!? Maybe a
little. (I'm STILL fighting the urge to go back and rip out
those "loss of romance" pages from the beginning of this
journal. The only thing that keeps me from doing it is the
vow I made, never to censor myself again.) But the one thing
I won't be embarrassed about, when I remember the 1992 Presidential
Election, is the fact that I actually woke up and paid some
attention. For the first time in my life, I had an opinion
that wasn't borrowed from the newspapers or my mother oe anything else:
an opinion of my own. Right or wrong, ignorant or informed,
at least it's mine.
other thing that I wanted to mention last Friday is very sad.
Two weeks ago, a three-year-old girl who lived down the street from
us -- her name was Jenny -- was
killed in a tragic accident at her home. Her mother was
carrying her down the stairs in their house, and they tripped and
fell. I never knew her or her family, but for days after I
first heard about the accident I just couldn't get it out of my
mind. Our landlord, Deb, told me that her daughter goes to
the same daycare that Jenny went to. Apparently Emily took
the little girl's death very hard, so Deb allowed her to go to the
funeral. It was held at Saltwater Park, the place Jenny loved
most; they sang Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" and released pink
balloons into the sky in her memory. That just tore me up
inside when Deb told me about it. How in the world could her
mother and father survive such a loss?? That's the thing that
has haunted me the most, I think ... wondering how
her parents are handling it. I almost wanted to send them a
card or a note or something, expressing my sympathy, but I'm a total
stranger to them and I guess it would be intrusive. Besides
that -- what could I say that would possibly be of
any comfort to these people? "I know how you feel"?
I don't. How could I? I can't even IMAGINE how they
this has been weighing heavily on my mind for two weeks now, and I felt
I needed to write something about it. As always, whenever I
hear about a tragedy like this, I've held my own children closer to my
heart than ever, thanking God that they are here and that they are
healthy, and praying that I NEVER feel the kind of pain that Jenny's
parents are feeling ...
high-energy Monday. Wrote a letter to Valerie first thing this
morning, apologized for missing her birthday yesterday. Got phone
calls from all three of my gal friends (Lori, Janet and Velma).
Chicken parmagiana and noodles for dinner. Dark by 5:00 tonight! Ray not home until 6:30.
October 27, 1992
ache all day -- made it hard to get a lot done, so I worked
on "quiet projects" (cookbook, watched a movie I'd taped last night,
"In The Deep Woods" -- Rosanna Arquette, Anthony
Perkins). Made dinner early in the day, pigs in a blanket and
The kids carved their pumpkins tonight. Watched "Quantum Leap" and "Roseanne." Asleep by 10:00.
Wednesday 9 a.m.
October 28, 1992
and Cody are due here any minute, so I'm sneaking one quick cigarette
and a minute of journal time before they get here. The kids
carved their pumpkins last night, and I don't know whether it's my
imagination or not but this morning I smell pumpkin
everywhere ... on my hands, in the kitchen, on the
sofa pillows. (I'm also finding pumpkin seeds all over the
place!) We cleared space on the dining room floor, and I
helped them cut the pumpkins open -- the most
dangerous part of the whole operation -- and then I
let them have it.
I'm worrying about Hallowe'en costumes for Jamie and Kyle.
Hallowe'en is on Saturday this year, and payday isn't until
Friday. When will we manage to get to a store?
Kacie has decided to be Wednesday Addams (from The Addams Family): that
should be a fairly simple costume to put together, out of things we've
already got around the house. (Incidentally, I can't imagine
a character as completely DIFFERENT from Kacie's true
personality. What an excellent choice for trick-or-treat.)
and Cody here today while Andrea continues her job search. Hope
she finds something soon, because now Karen is looking for a "new
daycare situation" -- something closer to their home and to
Josh's school. Depressed about that, worried about money for the
Made runzas for dinner, canned soup. Jamie to dance class, all three kids to church.
October 29, 1992
know ... my life just never ceases to amaze
me. The random way that things seem to happen, I mean, and
the way they always seem to happen when I'm not paying
attention. I've been going along for the past couple of
weeks, thinking about the upcoming holidays --
trying to get an early start on Christmas, for a change
-- and I was actually stupid enough to tempt The Fates by
thinking "This year, money won't be a problem." I was
planning to use my babysitting money in November to do some early gift
shopping, which presumably would leave us in great shape for
Silly, silly me. When will I ever
learn? The very minute I start feeling smug and secure,
that's when something new happens to knock the wind out of my
This time -- well, hell, it's
ALWAYS the same thing -- it's the fucking
babysitting again. Karen called last night to announced that
they're "looking into a new daycare." No preamble, no
warning: just a flat announcement. It's nothing about me
personally (I don't think) -- they simply need to
find a place for Josh to go after school, closer to where they live, and they don't want to be
paying for two separate sitters. I mean, I can understand
that. I'm not mad. It's just that, as usual, the
timing stinks. Apparently this will be effective next week,
which means that tomorrow will be Mak's last day here. SHIT.
completely bummed after her phone call last night. Ray said
the same thing he always says -- "It'll be
OK" -- and even Jamie was doing her part
to be supportive ("It always seems like you find a new babysitting
job," she said sweetly.) And that's true. Andrea is
out looking for work, for one thing. She still hasn't said
anything about whether or not she's going to want me to babysit for her
again if she does find a job: I suppose the smart thing to do would be
to call her today and come right out and ASK. At least then I'd know
for sure. I guess that's what's making it so hard for me to
ask her -- what scares me -- is
that she'll say no, they won't be needing me after all. Then what??
I'll have to face the fact that babysitting is over. After
six years of watching other peoples' children -- of
alternately loving it and hating it (mostly the latter, I'll
admit) -- I'll have to call it a day and
find something else to do. And that scares the very living
daylights out of me ...
I'm not going to dwell on that right now. It seems like I'm
constantly writing about the same three or four problems, over and over
again. The babysitting, the marriage, am-I-pregnant-or-not,
money worries. It's tiresome to write about, and must be even
more so to read. This situation will resolve itself, as it
always does. And just think: even if I'm not able to begin my
Christmas SHOPPING early this year, at least I'm beginning my Christmas
WORRYING early ... !! :(
a more immediate and pressing worry today, anyway
-- Hallowe'en costumes. It's now less than two days
away. Last night I mentioned it to Ray, and he got all pissed
off. "This is the first I've heard about it!' he snapped at
Janet stopped by this morning on her way to a job interview
... she's all excited. I was in a good mood today in
spite of the daycare shit. Cleaned house -- it looks
October 30, 1992
Janet came by this morning and dropped off a plastic wash tub for Velma
to borrow; Velma came and got it at noon. Spent most of the
morning on the sofa, but then got myself up and moving. Josh was
here all day -- also, Emily came home with the girls
-- I made them all a nice after-school snack (nachos, brownies
Girls went to a G.S. Hallowe'en party tonight. Ray got us Wendy's for dinner.
Hallowe'en morning ... just out of the shower, and
toally pissed at Jamie. GOD. What is it with Jamie
and Hallowe'en, anyway?? For the second year in a row, she's
in tears because she doesn't like her costume and is threatening not to
go trick-or-treating. Last year she wanted to be a "baby," as
I recall, only at the last minute she decided it looked "stupid" and
she shut herself in her room, refusing to come out.
Eventually she relented and came with us, but she was sullen and
unhappy most of the evening. This year, the problem has been
getting to a store to buy her anything. I came up with a
great idea for Kyle -- I made him a karate kid
outfit out of an old white jacket of my Mom's and a pair of the girl's
white sweatpants -- and he loves it, so he was
taken care of. Jamie, on the other hand, still had nothing to
wear. She threw together a makeshift gypsy costume, just to
wear to yesterday's school Hallowe'en party (and to a Girl Scout party
last night), but when I suggested this morning that she go ahead and be
a gypsy again tonight -- I even offered to pay her
ten bucks if she would just settle for the gypsy costume without a
fuss! -- that's when the trouble started.
Her Pouty Face made its first appearance of the day, and she started to
"But my HAIR won't stay curly, and no one even KNOWS
what I AM!" she said, and tears began welling up in her eyes.
up to pouring down rain and a deep, painful chest cold this morning,
and I was in no mood to listen to anybody whine. "Fine!' I
snapped at her in irritation, throwing the ten dollar bill on top of
the fridge and stalking out of the room. (Ray is working
today, by the way, so there was no way I could take her shopping
sat down in the living room and started to cry, and I stomped around
the house for a few minutes, trying to clear my head and come up with a
Finally, inspiration struck. My mom is
supposed to go shopping this morning -- she said
she planned to stop by here later and bring the kids a Hallowe'en
goody -- so I called and asked her if she'd mind if
Jay tagged along with her. The happy ending to this little
tale is that she'll be here at noon to pick Jamie up. I got
paid last night (probably my last "big" payday for a long, long time:
sniff), so I'll give her $25. Hopefully she'll find something she likes, and that
will be the end of the Hallowe'en nightmare for another year.
isn't even going out with us tonight, by the way. For the first time in
her life, she'll be trick-or-treating without me
... she's going with a gang of her friends (Nicole in
particular), with Nicole's mom as chaperone. Afterwards,
she'll probably spend the night at Nicole's. I'm a little sad
about this, of course, but I recognize a rite of passage when I see
Kyle and I will be going out with Velma and her kids sometime around
5:00. At first I hated the idea, but now that I look at the
buckets of rain coming down, I'm thankful that we'll be driving around
rather than walking. We should be home early
-- 7:00 or 7:30 -- and then we're invited
to go over to John & Lori's. Frankly, I don't know
whether or not we'll make the second stop: it'll depend on how I feel
when I get home from trick-or-treating with Velma. I'm not
actually sick, yet ... I've just got that heavy,
scratchy feeling in my chest and a dry cough that means my annual
Autumn Yuck is coming. I just don't know if I'm going to feel
up to tromping around the Shannon South complex in the rain with
Lori. We'll see what happens.
meantime, happy Hallowe'en. I'm trying really hard to work
myself into a good mood, in spite of the rain and Jamie's emotional
flare-ups and Kacie & Kyle's irrepressible high
spirits. The house looks nice -- very
festive, very "Hallowe'eny" -- and now I'm working
on my makeup and hair. Gotta run.
Busy, busy day ... Hallowe'en!
worked this a.m. -- kids and I up early, cleaning house and
getting ready for tonight. Peg and Don here to visit at noon, brought
treats for the kids. My mom took Jamie shopping for a costume,
got her a great "Minnie Mouse" outfit. Kyle is a Karate Kid,
Kacie is Wednesday Addams.
trick-or-treating with Velma at 5:00, home by 6:30 -- then
went over to John & Lori's for more fun -- after that, Ray and I stayed up late.
Weather at the witching hour: Cold and rainy ... as usual.
Things That Aren't So Scary After All!
- Trick-or-treating for the second year in a row with VELMA ...
- This year's Presidential election ...
- The thought of turning 35 in two months ...
Treats We Had Ready:
big bowl of assorted candies (Brach's, Vernell's,
Kit-Kats). Ray passed out candy while Kacie, Kyle and I
went trick-or-treating with Velma and her children (Jamie went with her
Children Who Came By:
- Neighborhood children
- Velma's kids, Angela and Jonathan
- Jamie's friend, Nicole Schwartzmann
- Tracy Pinkney (who spent the night with us)
November 1, 1992
Uh oh. Woke up
this morning, started to yell at the kids to quiet down ...
and nothing came out of my mouth. Laryngitis! Combined with
a hangover. Bed all day.
November 2, 1992
was, without a doubt, one of the WORST days I've had in months.
The laryngitis persists, for one thing: all I wanted to do today was
sleep and recover in peace, but unfortunately Ray decided to stay home
(he had ME call in for him ... never mind the fact that I
had no voice!!) ... he went to the Food Bank, did some
groceries, and drank beer steadily all day. By 8 p.m. he was
completely plotzed and blew up at the kids and I over nothing
-- had everyone in hysterics -- threw his dinner out
the window, ordered Jamie to "move out" -- what a guy.
November 3, 1992
was fine. As a matter of fact, it was great this
year! It's been the days immediately following Hallowe'en
that have been hell on earth ...
One of the things that
Asshole was all pissed off about was the mess the house was in.
I've been SICK the past few days, but he just doesn't get it, does
he? So I forced myself to get up and clean today, just to prove
to him that I don't (quote) "sit around on my butt all day." He
stayed home again, incidentally. He's not sick so I don't know
why he's taking this time off ... just to drive me insane,
ELECTION TODAY ... BILL CLINTON WON! Mike Lowry elected Governor, Patty Murray to U.S. Senate.
Shake & Bake chicken, "Cocoon."
November 4, 1992
Ray, thank god, went
back to work today ... he apologized to Jamie and I
yesterday ("I've gotta lot of things on my MIND") and he's been fairly
pleasant since Monday night's disgusting performance, but I was still
glad to get rid of him finally. Moved a little slower than
yesterday. Still feeling rotten; bad cough kept me awake all
Kids got their school pictures taken today.
November 5, 1992
Another sleepless night
last night (awake from 12:30 to 4:30 a.m., coughing) ... I
don't know how much longer this can go on.
Did the usual
stuff -- housework, cooking (baked a chocolate cake, made
sloppy joes). Watched a good movie this afternoon, "Mystic
Pizza." Jamie and I both read her library book (she read it after
school, I read it while she was at her G.S. meeting) called "A Summer
To Die" -- had us both in tears!
November 6, 1992
matter of fact, things have been SO bad this week that I haven't even
felt like writing in my journal, as you can see.
Today was Mak's last
day with us (again) ... he brought "Beauty & The
Beast," watched it with the kids when they got home from school.
Called Linda at Kacie's church, asked if anyone in the congregation has a winter coat Kacie can use.
little past seven on a cold, rainy Sunday morning, and I've already
been up for an hour: I woke up at 6 a.m. with a wet, hacking cough, and
decided to just stay up and enjoy a little "alone time."
(Oops -- amend that. Kacie just wandered
out here to the laundry room, where I'm sitting with my coffee and my
radio. "It's only 7:14!" she said in amazement.)
sick all last week. The morning after Hallowe'en (a week ago)
I woke up and started to yell at the kids to quiet down
... but when I opened my mouth, nothing came out. I
had laryngitis! For two days I was (literally)
speechless. Later in the week it turned into a miserable
cough that kept me awake all night, every night for three or four
nights running. And now the whole thing has deteriorated into
one of my famous sloppy wet colds, which will probably hang on for the
rest of the winter now. The holidays just wouldn't be the
holidays without me honking into a Kleenex every five minutes, would
turned out just fine. Mom and Jamie found a wonderful Minnie
Mouse costume on sale somewhere. When they got it home, it
turned out that the "ears" were missing, but miraculously
-- I still can't get over this -- my
mother just happened to have a set of mouse ears (and a pin-on "tail")
at her house, left over from some Hallowe'en office party past, and she
quickly drove home and picked them up and brought them over for Jay to
use. (I mean, how many people do you know who "just happen"
to have a pair of mouse ears when you need them??? We don't usually
have that kind of luck, OK?)
Anyway, when we'd finished putting
her together, Jay looked great. By the time she left to go
trick-or-treating with Nicole, she was babbling happily.
"This is gonna be the best Hallowe'en I ever had!" she said.
"I've got a cool costume, I'm going out with my friends ...
" At that point she shot me a slightly guilty
look. Was I upset that she wasn't trick-or-treating with the
family this year? I assured her that I was OK with the idea,
that I just wanted her to have FUN, and she seemed relieved.
Later she told me that they had a great time, and I was genuinely glad
Kyle and I went out with Velma and her kids at 6:00, and it was
OK. Mostly we just drove around the Angle Lake neighborhood
and let the kids hit the houses that were lit up. Angela, as
always, was insufferable. She whines purely for the
effect ... just to hear herself whine, I
guess ... not because anything is ever really
wrong, but because she imagines it makes her sound cool or cute or
something. I can't bear to be in the same room
-- let alone in the same CAR -- with her
for any longer than an hour, because the urge to tell her to shut the
fuck up becomes overwhelming after a while. So I was glad
that we only had to trick-or-treat with them for forty-five minutes or
so, and then Velma brought us home. And we did end up going
to John & Lori's afterwards, incidentally: it was
fun. The kids got to trick-or-treat some more, around the
apartment complex, and Lori and I had a chance to visit. So I
was glad we went.
the next morning when everything started to go wrong. The
laryngitis was only part of it, although being sick and feeling as
crappy as I did made it harder to tolerate everything else.
I'm not going to go into any lengthy, detailed accounting
here. Suffice it to say that Ray is worried about money, he's
drinking too much (even for him, and that's really saying something),
and he's been taking his bad mood out on everyone
... especially me. Twice this past week (once on
Monday night, then again last night) he's gotten completely plotzed and
has exploded into irrational rage. To some extent last night
I was able to diffuse his anger before it got out of control, but
Monday night he went totally over the edge. At one point I
got so mad at his stupid, drunken bleating that I threw a bowl of
spaghetti sauce at him. Jamie got dragged into it, somehow,
and she and Ray stood there in the kitchen shouting about how much they
'hate' each other ... a real Kodak moment, can't
you imagine. Through all of his ranting and raving, two
general themes gradually emerged:
I am a shiftless, lazy slob who contributes absolutely nothing,
monetarily or otherwise, to this family: I spend my days sitting around
on my butt, writing in my journal and typing letters to my pen pals.
Our children are spoiled rotten and it's all MY fault because (Ray
theorizes) I "didn't grow up in a house with kids in it." (Oh
really? What were my brother and I?
Mushrooms?) And if I don't start "putting the hammer down
around here," HE will.
an hour later he was putting his arms around me and apologizing with
the usual lame excuses ("I've just got a lot on my mind").
Quite frankly, though, I'm still mad, nearly a week later, about some
of the things he said. I'm sick and tired, for one thing, of
the "sitting around on my butt" remarks. True, he only says
stuff like that when he's snockered, but the very fact that it
continues to come up at all indicates that deep down inside it's how
he really feels. I don't think he has any idea how hard I
work around this house. Do I ever hear a compliment when the
place looks particularly nice, like it did Hallowe'en
weekend? Hell no. It's only when the dirty dishes
pile up (as they did on Monday night, when I was SICK, for Pete's sake)
that he even notices anything about the way the house looks, good or
bad. And I'm tired of it.
"writing in my journal" thing bothers me, too. What is it
about these journals that threatens him so much? They've always
been a favorite target of
his. Over the years, he's made it clear that he considers
them a frivolous waste of time: the very point of journal-writing
completely escapes him. The man doesn't have an introspective
bone in his body. Is he jealous about the amount of time I
spend writing? No ... that's ludicrous,
even for him. Is he afraid that I'm writing things about him
that cast him in a less-than-favorable light? That someday
our children or grandchildren will
read these journals and only get my side of things? I don't know, I
really don't. The only perspective I have is my own, after
all. I'm not writing these journals for anyone specific, and
I'm not purposely targeting Ray as the "villain" in my
... about the kids being "spoiled" ...
as much as I would like to say that this is also untrue, I'm afraid
that there's more than a grain of truth in that one
-- at least, where helping around the house is
involved. The fact is, the kids DON'T help out
much. They hardly do any housework at all, and yeah, that's
my fault. I'm inconsistent about getting them to do it, and I
admit it. Part of that is because I want their childhoods to
be fun and carefree: part of that is because I'm such a perfectionist,
I don't feel that anyone does the job as well as I do! I
realize that I'm not doing them any favors, and that if I expect them
to become capable, responsible adults someday, I'd better start
teaching them about things like helping out and working together and
taking responsibility. It kills me to admit that Ray may be
right about this, but I guess he is.
Sunday. I got up ridiculously early -- 6 a.m.!
-- because I couldn't sleep. Made breakfast (pancakes &
bacon) for everybody. Kacie went to church, Jamie and Nicole
spent most of the day together. Velma came by, brought me my Xmas
Violent storm this afternoon -- hail, lightning.
Ray borrowed $10 from John, bought taco materials for dinner.
November 9, 1992
No babysitting ... what an odd feeling! Kacie stayed
home from school, said she's got a "sore throat," but she seems to have
plenty of energy anyway. We watched TV, enjoyed some alone time
together ... didn't do much else.
Ray got an upsetting hospital bill in the mail, and for awhile it
looked like it might turn into another money argument ...
fortunately we talked it through, decided that I'm going (entry ends abruptly)
November 10, 1992
Kacie went back to school so I was "Home Alone" ... if it
weren't for the fact that I'm worried about $, it would've been a
pleasant treat. Cleaned my bedroom and bathroom, roasted some
chicken for dinner, clipped recipes, watched a movie.
Jamie went home with Nicole, spent the night there. Janet came over tonight and cut Ray's hair.
November 11, 1992
school for the kids today -- Veteran's Day. Cold,
rainy. Kept a fire going all day -- nice.
Danielle and Cody here, 10-3: told Andrea I "hope she goes back to work
SOON." Christmas and money worries are consuming me. Now
Ray wants me to call Terry V. and ask for a loan against the house
money ... don't know if I have the nerve.
Drank some wine, worked on tapes. No dance class. Kacie and Kyle to church.
November 12, 1992
Slow, sleepy day ... let the housework and laundry
slide. Janet stopped by briefly, went to the store for me and
bought me some 7-Up.
November 14, 1992
Woke up SICK. Heavy, horrible bronchial cold, way down in my
chest and everywhere else ... feel like I could die.
Spent the whole day sleeping on the sofa, doped up with cold medicine.
November 15, 1992
Still sick ... spent another day on the couch. I know
I must sound like the laziest person in the universe, but this is the
worst cold I've had in years.
November 16, 1992
Still sick ... must be bronchitis. Never knew so much
snot could come out of one person. (Delightful, aren't I??)
With Ray and the kids gone all day, I gave myself permission to spend
one more day on the couch. I look horrible, the house looks
horrible, but I don't give a damn.
Made burgers and fries for dinner, but barely touched it myself.
November 17, 1992
I did it ... I called Ted's lawyer today
and made our offer of $57,000.00. He was very nice on the phone,
of course, but I can't help remembering all the things I've heard about
him being a "shyster" ... said he'll call me back by
Friday, will let me know what Ted says. Now we just sit and wait,
I guess. Cautiously optimistic.
Still hacking and wheezing. Think it's turning into sinusitis, damn.
November 18, 1992
in spite of myself, I feel hopeful and optimistic about the
money ... my mood today was light and festive.
home early every day this week (Conferences). Watched first half
of "Far & Away," borrowed from Velma. Jay to dance, kids to
church. Collaged the cover of my Christmas notebook.
Nasty fight with Janet tonight.
morning, as I stood at the kitchen sink, I looked out the window and
was startled to see a rainbow. A RAINBOW in
NOVEMBER?! For days we've had nothing but rainstorms and
muddy gray skies ... the world has seemed
relentlessly winterlike, within my heart and without. So to
suddenly find myself looking at something so bright and full of hope
was jarring. It was almost like a little sign, meant for my
eyes alone ... God? Grandma?
... telling me to Hold on, something good is just around the
corner. I was so incredibly moved -- I
didn't know whether to laugh or cry! -- that I ran
and got my camera and took a picture of it, just so that someday I can
look at it and remind myself that it really happened ...
I am terrified to write about this, but I have to. Something
has happened this week that may have far-reaching implications, not
just for me but for my entire family, and even though I'm afraid that
putting it on paper will jinx it, somehow, I've got to write about
it. If I don't, I'll explode.
money situation is really bad. Utility bills, hospital bills,
a threatening letter from the IRS this week ...
it's all begun to pile up. Ray and I have been at each
other's throats for weeks, and the tension around this house has been
so thick & palpable, you could cut it with a (butter)
knife. Just getting myself out of bed in the mornings has
been an effort, and the strain of worry has taken its toll on me
physically ... I'm battling with bronchitis and
sinusitis, and I haven't been able to sleep at night for so long, I've
forgotten what that feels like. The kids have picked up on
all the tension, of course, and they've been at each other like cats
& dogs. The specter of Christmas, looming ahead, just
makes it worse. How do you tell your children that Santa is
broke this year?? I worry about this same thing every year,
of course, and most of the time the holidays turn out just
fine. But this year -- with me out of a
babysitting job and the mountain of bills growing higher every
day -- it really did seem as though Christmas '92
would have to be an afterthought.
also been the ongoing struggle within me
... that feeling of time slipping away, and me having nothing
to show for it. My self-esteem has fallen to an all-time
low. I'd begun believe the things Ray said about me
... that I'm lazy, that I'm contributing nothing, that I'm
making everybody miserable, that I'm a crummy mother. (He
denies that he really meant any of it, of course, but when you already
believe such things about yourself -- even a little
bit -- hearing someone else say them just
reinforces it in your mind.)
last straw, for me personally, was getting notices from the school
nurse informing me that both Jamie and Kacie need glasses, and knowing
that there is no way in the universe we could possibly afford such a
thing. That's when it really hit home with me. For
a long time I've been able to close my eyes and convince myself that we
were getting along just 'fine.' Sure, we don't have as much
as a lot of people, but then again we've got a lot MORE than others: a
roof over our heads, food in the kitchen, blah blah blah. The
girls went to summer camp, didn't they? We've finally got
decent furniture, don't we? Things could be so much
worse, I told myself. But now I was hit with the cold, hard
truth: we AREN'T doing right by our children, in spite of outward
appearances. The glasses are one thing. The dentist
is another: Kyle and Kacie have NEVER EVEN SEEN ONE, do you realize
that? And they only see a doctor in an emergency.
Right now all three of them need winter boots, and Kacie was so
urgently in need of a decent winter coat that I had to call the church
and ask if anyone had a hand-me-down they could spare. And it
isn't just "things," either ... it's having a mom
who never participates in anything or offers to volunteer for anything
because she's afraid to leave the house. It's having a family
that rarely goes out and does anything tlogether because we're too
broke. It's not having a safe car for all five of us to drive
anywhere in. It's having parents who barely speak to each
other. It's me, turning off TV commercials about Christmas
because I'm so frightened that we won't be having any this
Well. Something in me finally snapped. For months
I've been yammering on and on about how, if we could only get the money
from my half of Grandma's house, things would be so great. I
could get a car, go to computer school, get a good job. Ray
could replace our death-trap of a car with the truck he's always
wanted. We could go on our first (and only) family
vacation. I could have the breast reduction surgery that has
always been so important (and so unattainable) to me. Our
lives would completely turn around.
finally did something about it.
is the part I'm afraid to write about, for fear of ruining it
somehow. I'm superstitious about things like that
... it seems too much like "counting your chickens," if you
know what I mean. But I've already gone this far, so I may as
well give you the rest of it. On Tuesday morning, I screwed
up every ounce of courage in my entire body and made a call to Ted's
lawyer, Mr. C. Actually, I called first thing in the
morning but it took him nearly all day --
3 p.m. -- to call me back. (I was a
nervous wreck all day, as you can probably imagine.) To tell
you the truth, I still can't believe that I did it!! It's far
and away the most courageous thing that this lump of inertia has done
in ages, and even if nothing comes of it (notice that I'm deliberately
trying to downplay our chances), at the very least I can say that I got
up off my moribund butt and DID something about our
situation. At any rate, the gist of the conversation was
this: I asked Mr. C. to relay to Ted the information that I'll
accept $57,500 for my half of the house -- that's
about $30,000 less than it's worth -- ON THE
CONDITION that we settle this immediately. "I don't want this
to drag on any longer than necessary," I told the lawyer. Mr.
C. was very nice and encouraging and promised to get back to me
by Friday (tomorrow). In the meantime, of course, there's
nothing to do but wait, and hope, and pray like mad. Ray and
I are both cautiously optimistic, but it's hard to get too worked up
about it until we know for sure. We've talked a little bit
about what we would do with the money. After taxes, investing
some of it and paying off our bills, we'll still have enough left to
fulfill some of our fondest dreams ... the surgery
for me*, a truck for Ray and a small (used) car for me, computer
school, a few carefully-selected "toys" that we've always wanted (a
video camera? a decent typewriter? a home
computer?) ... and, of course,
Christmas. God. Christmas would be
wonderful -- not only because we could afford to
buy gifts for people, but because it would be the first completely
worry-free Christmas of my adult life. What an incredible
treat that wouldbe. After the holidays, after the surgery,
after 10 weeks of BCTI (Business Computer Training Institute), I would
be able to go out and get a job ... a REAL job,
making real money. I can't even begin to imagine how much the
quality of our lives would improve. It's all just too
wonderful to contemplate.
Here's a perfect example of how little attention Ray has paid to me
over the years. I've been talking FOREVER about having this
surgery done, and yet when I mentioned it to him on Wednesday night, he
looked shocked and said "You're kidding."
started today, and emotionally I went into a bit of a nosedive.
Still no word from the lawyer, altho I didn't expect that there would
Had to go to the school at noon for Parent/Teacher Conferences. The kids are all doing fairly well, no major problems.
and I watched the second half of "Far & Away." Sandwiches,
French fries for dinner. Girls went to their G.S. meeting.
November 20, 1992
But "contemplating" it I am, and have been unable to think of much else
all week. Last night I hit a 'slump' -- a
sudden wave of fear and depression that came out of nowhere
-- what if Ted turns down our offer? Would he be
that small-minded, do you think? Oh please, Lord
... let this be more than a pipe dream.
of course, is the day that Mr. C. said he'd get back to
me. It's 9 a.m. now, and I'm determined to stay as busy as
possible all day and not dwell on silent telephones and unpaid
bills. If anything happens, I'll let you know.
November 21, 1992
... the news isn't good. It isn't BAD,
either ... it's just not the news I wanted to
hear. This reminds me of when we were trying to rent this
house: one day we'd be flying so high, certain that we'd get the place,
and the next day I'd be crashing on the rocks below because we'd hit
another glitch. On Wednesday (the day of the rainbow) I was
flying high ... I was actually calling doctors'
offices requesting information about breast reduction surgery and
making of lists of things we would do with the money. (Maybe
that's the problem: I was counting those chickens.) And then
yesterday I hit the rocks. Today I'm somewhere in
between. I'm struggling to remain patient, to remain
optimistic, but I can tell it's going to be an uphill battle.
expecting a major storm this afternoon ... winds up
to 50 mph, they're predicting. I'm concerned about the power
going out, so I'm trying to prepare for it, just in case it happens:
I'm making a pot of chicken soup (which can be warmed on top of the
woodstove, if need be) and taking stock of candles, batteries,
etc. Frankly, I would LOVE it if we have a
black-out. It would be the most entertaining thing that's
happened around here in a long time. I can just see us
tonight, sitting around the woodstove, watching the storm, drinking hot
cocoa (also made on the woodstove) ... it would be
lovely. Of course it won't actually happen, since nothing
ever turns out the way I want it to, but it makes a nice little
C. (Ted's lawyer) has "left town" for two months. Isn't
that nice?? Isn't that absolutely the way things always
go?? I just about died when I called his office yesterday and
they told me. He represents "the opposition," of course, but
I still have this absurd feeling of having been abandoned. He'd
promised to call me back, after all. I was furious!
Later in the day, someone from his office did call and say that he'd
left a message for me. This is the good/bad news.
He has relayed my offer to "Ted and Lila" (Lila is the Housekeeper From
Hell who has moved in and taken over ... a
gold-digging witch, from everything I hear), and they're going to
"think it over" and get back to me. So in other words the
ball is once again in Ted's court ... or, more
accurately, in LILA'S court, since she apparently is calling all the
shots where Ted's finances are concerned. Damn it.
DAMN IT. Lila and I do not have a pleasant history.
The two or three times we've spoken on the phone, I could practically
feel the waves of dislike coming through the wire. For my
part, I despise the way she moved into MY grandmother's HOME and
appointed herself "lady of the house" before Grandma had barely been
gone a few months. It's cheap and disrespectful.
Finally, there is the snotty letter I wrote to her and Ted a few months
ago, when they made their first laughable offer to buy me out for
$30,000. I basically told them to take their offer and shove
it. I'm sure that didn't endear me any to the two of them.
Knowing that she now holds my fate in her greedy hands infuritates me
beyond belief. They're probably sitting over there right now,
just waiting for me to call and throw myself at their mercy.
Well ... I'm not going to do it. Not this
weekend, anyway. I'm going to tough this one out a while
longer and wait for them to call ME.
Ray went to B-Z's and watched the Apple Cup (UW vs. Washington State),
was gone for most of the day. I cleaned house, drank some wine,
worked on projects, called people on the phone.
November 22, 1992
Blah, blah blah. Feel like total shit: this cold and cough will NOT go away.
my mom, asked to borrow $3.00 for kids' lunches this week. She
brought it over, also brought me two beautiful coats.
November 23, 1992
that Tom Petty song that goes "The waiting is the hardest part"
... ? That's the way we feel now, waiting to hear from
Ted. We're so broke it hurts. Got the phone bill today and
it's nearly $300 ... the newspaper has been cut off
... groceries are dangerously low. Still trying to be
Ran four loads of laundry, made pigs in a blanket for dinner.
Journal ... this will be my final entry for this
journal. I'm really pleased with the consistent way I've been
writing these past four months, and hope I can continue the habit in
the next journal. Something tells me that these next few
weeks are going to eventful, and I'm going to need the comfort and
energy I get from regular journal-writing.
morning ... coming off a broke, sick weekend, but
for no reason I can pinpoint I'm back to feeling optimistic about the
money situation. God knows how long it will last
-- probably until I hit the next bump in the road
-- but for the moment, at least, I'm thinking
positively. Maybe my horoscope has something to do with
it. Check it out:
moon in your birthsign on Tuesday denotes that it's almost time to put
ideas and projects that have been 'in the pipeline' all year into
operation. In fact, you should now be thinking about the
period around December 2, when Mercury finally turns to direct motion,
as a starting date."
that for a great horoscope?? It's from this week's TV Guide:
Lori dictated it to me over the phone this morning, and I've been
reading and re-reading it all day. Of course, part of me
knows that horoscopes are "iffy," at best ... but
ANY light at the tunnel is welcome at this point ...
that the next journal sees us realizing some of our dreams,
to throw a rock?