March 13, 1993
Good morning ... and hello
What a perfect time to be
starting a new journal: I'm right in the middle of one of the happiest
weekends of my life, the future is looking brighter than it has in
ages, and I can't think of a better way to commemorate this nice time
in my life than to begin writing in a brand-new journal! Looking
at all these clean, new pages is like looking at my life ... I'm
beginning all over again, and the world is an open book, waiting for me
to fill the pages.
Naive? Maybe a little. I
get a little flowery at times, I know. On the other hand, I don't see
anything wrong with enjoying this happy feeling. Lord knows it's been a
long time coming. I think I've earned the right to revel in it.
The girls and I have to go
sell Girl Scout cookies in front of Safeway in about 45 minutes, so
we're bustling around, getting ready for that. We're scheduled to sell
for two hours, from 10 a.m. to noon. Then we're going to take Kacie to
Jorstad Jewelers in Burien and get her ears pierced as an early
March 15, 1993
Well, it may have been one
of the happiest weekends of my life, but it sure as heck wasn't one of
the most productive ... this house looks like a plea
for disaster relief. Every single room is a disgusting mess. It's
nearly 11 a.m. and I've been working for nearly two hours, yet it
doesn't look any better than it did when I got up. Ray's supposed to
take me shopping tonight after work -- I want to get some
stuff for the house -- but at the rate I'm going, I'll
still be washing dishes and picking up garbage at 9 p.m. ...
Now that we've finally
settled the house-money crap and all the furor has died down, I'm not
exactly sure what comes next. I want a car: that part's for certain.
Ray is going to buy Velma's old beater for a thousand bucks this week,
but I really want a car of my own. It doesn't have to be anything
fancy. Just a nice little car that I can run around in. And I
need to get over to BCTI (Business Computer Training Institute) and get
enrolled. I don't want to put it off for too long, for fear I may run
out of ambition, but on the other hand it feels kind of good to simply
STOP and take a breather from worry. I mean, it feels nice to be
putzing around the house and not feel guilty about it ...
to not be
feeling I "should" be doing this or I "should" be doing that. So for
today, at least, I'm going to clean my house and forget about anything
else. My horoscope for the week says that this is the most decisive
period of my life, and that I'm on the verge of the most "exciting and
sensational" periods of the year. Hmmm.
Whew. The place is
inhabitable again. I wonder what's going to
happen around here when I go back to school (and after that, to work).
What will happen to the house? Who will clean it?? And how far will I
have to lower my standards ... ???
Ray came home in a
ridiculously cheerful mood an hour ago. Amazing what a little money in
the bank will do to raise the guy's spirits: I asked for some
groceries and he didn't even blink! I'm in a less-than-wonderful
myself, but that's due more to the unexpectedly-early arrival of my
*&!? period than anything else. I jumped all over Kacie awhile ago
and reduced her to tears, and even though I've apologized, I still feel
crummy about it. She tries so hard to please me and I make her cry.
Tuesday 8:30 a.m.
March 1, 1993
The kids just left for
school, after a silly morning of "Barney," "Wipeout"
and Eggs Benedict. (When Mom wakes up in a wacky mood, look out
Kacie is back to her usual
sunny self: she left this morning armed with invitations to her
birthday party this coming Saturday. She's inviting Tracy, Erienne
Bratha to spend the night. (I suppose we'll also have to invite Angela,
although the prospect of an entire evening with her fills
me with dread.)
Jamie is being a pill about
the whole thing. "Nobody is
going to sleep on MY bed!" she announced. "
Oh yes they will!" I said.
"It'll be two girls to a bunk."
"Then where am I
supposed to sleep?" she whined.
"Why don't you go spend the
night at a friend's house?" I asked, and she rolled her eyes and
stomped around and said she has "no place to go." For most of
school year she has spent nearly every weekend at a friend's house
... Nicole's, the Bontempo's, Kaleana's, Christina's ...
suddenly, the one
weekend when I actually want her to go on an overnight, there's
no place to go??? Basically she's just jealous and angry that
is having a party, and that I'm going to be able to spend more money
on Kacie's b-day that I did on hers. I tried explaining to her that we
were dead-broke in December, and that I'm very sorry if she feels
slighted, but that's just the way things worked out. I understand how
she feels, but I'm not going to allow her to spoil Kacie's fun. Kacie
hasn't had much of a social life this year, at least not compared to
Jamie, and it's her turn for something special.
The truth is that I really
wasn't planning to throw Kacie a party in the first place. She's had a
birthday party every year for the past several years, and I wanted to
skip it this year and just have a quiet family celebration. Somehow I
got bamboozled into a slumber party! I'm still not exactly sure
how it happened, but I guess it's too late to turn back now.
March 18, 1993
Did our shopping on Tuesday
night, by the way -- Ray drove us to Fred Meyer in the
freezing rain -- I
had a ball! Jamie and I cut a swath through the entire store,
buying everything from sofa pillows to a new shower curtain to a couple
of wall clocks. My favorite new "toy" is a CD/cassette player I bought
for myself (for $120). I had to sort of talk myself into buying it, but
now I'm so glad I did because it's a lot of fun.
Ray bought Velma's car that
same night, a '72 Plymouth Valiant. It's butt-ugly, but Ray says it
runs great. I haven't driven it yet but I will. Actually, it
winds up being *my* car.
Kyle's "journal" ...
school assignment. This entry reads:
"I like Kyle, Lisa
and (somebody indecipherable).
i wish my cat was not ded.
Because if he was not ded i wood be happy
a lot and i meen happy
jest if he seed me wone more time i wood be happy.
God ... this is
Tuesday 10 a.m.
March 23, 1993
Kacie's birthday weekend has
come and gone, and now I'm struggling to get everything --
everyone -- back to normal. (Including me.) I've been
weirdly weepy and
emotional the past couple of days, unable to concentrate on much. This
morning I read a story about a little boy who died of AIDS, and I cried
for half an hour. Yesterday Jamie and Kyle both stayed home from
school with colds, and Jay and I watched my favorite movie, "The Last
of the Mohicans." Even though it was the third time I've seen it, it
still hit me hard
... I felt melancholy and remote for the rest
of the day ... and last night I had complex, upsetting
dreams that linger this
morning. What is going on with me??
Kacie's birthday was OK.
fun, anyway. (It cost us a small fortune, it was a helluva lot of
work, and the residual mess was incredible, but she had fun.) We
up having Tracy, Angela, Bernadette, Erienne and my little niece Karen
here to spend the night on Saturday. (Jamie went to Emily's
slumber party that night: she was very glad to escape the chaos around
here!) The girls made their own Boboli pizzas for dinner, watched
open her gifts, played games in the bedroom and stayed up most of the
night, giggling and talking. Mostly I just left them to their own
devices. They all got along with each other fairly well --
no fighting -- if it had been Jamie and a group of her
friends, it probably
would've been a different story! -- and everyone went home
morning (except for Karen, who stayed until late that afternoon),
exhausted and happy.
Originally I had planned to
get Kacie the expensive Adidas jacket she'd been asking for, but at the
last minute we ended up getting her clothes (two shirts and two pairs
of pants), a flowered canvas tote bag, and a book she'd requested.
Kacie's birthday celebration!
Pizza on the top bunk (left); ice cream cake in the dining room (right)
Wednesday 10:30 a.m.
March 24, 1993
Better today ...
"weepy," anyway. This is an early release day for the kids, which means
they'll be home by 1:00. Ray left me the "Velma Mobile" (or should
that be the "Velmobile"??) and I think that when the kids get here
we'll take it out for a spin, either to Burien to shop for Karen's
birthday party tomorrow or else to the library. I haven't driven in
months, so I'm a little nervous. Do I still remember how??
The kids are pretty busy
these days. Jamie started softball last night, and Kacie starts this
weekend. On Monday night Ray took them shopping and got them each a
brand-new mitt to play with. Jamie's dance classes are heating up in
preparation for the annual recital in May; there are rumors of a school
talent show being planned for spring.
(and what's not)
White tennis shoes
The Young & The Restless
"Dances With Wolves"
New Kids on the Block
Family Circle Magazine
Fish & chips
White moccasin loafers
Days of Our Lives
The Peoples Court
KMTT & KUBE
"The Last of the Mohicans"
Country Collectibles Magazine
Socks the Cat
March 23, 1993
Bright and sunny spring day. Kyle is puttering around the backyard with
his Daddy, "helping" with yardwork. A few minutes ago he came into the
laundry room, where I was sweatily dumping water into our shit-heap of
a washing machine. "I've got something for you!" he chirped, hiding
something behind his back. I fought off the impulse to say "Not now,
I'm BUSY" ... I've been working hard all morning, and
are annoying ... but one look at the light gleaming in his
eyes and I
melted. Beaming, he handed me a bouquet of scraggly flowers, clutched
tightly in one dirty little paw.
"Wow! THANK you!" I said,
and putting the flowers immediately in a yellow china vase.
He was so
pleased with himself! I "rewarded" him by going upstairs to the attic
and digging out an old tank top for him to wear, so he'd look just like
his Dad. He's growing up so fast. I watch him, clomping around in the
backyard behind Ray, imitating every move his father makes --
clump of weeds into the wheelbarrow, stopping to wipe sweat off his
face -- and my heart swells with love for my little man.
I've been driving the Velmobile all week, and I LOVE it. It took me a
few minutes to get the hang of the brakes, but it's an easy car to
drive and I felt comfortable with it right away. It is so exhilarating
to be back out into the world, behind the wheel ... I feel like
old Mama Bear, coming out of hibernation.
and Kyle (in matching Dad-and-son mullets: gahhh) washing the
Kacie had an accident on
Thursday night. She and Jamie went roller
skating with their Girl Scout troop (while Ray, Kyle & I went over
Mom's to celebrate little Karen's 8th birthday). According to the
girls, an older girl deliberately tripped Kacie during a speed skate
and sent Kacie flying into a wall. At first we were afraid she'd broken
it (her wrist), but it seems to just be a nasty sprain. She's kept it
in an Ace bandage all weekend and has been very careful about not
jostling it around, and it seems to be feeling better today. Of course,
this means no softball this weekend ... a fact that upset
terribly. Her team has a practice scheduled for this afternoon and
I'm going to let her go and watch, but no participating. This has
appeased her somewhat.
What else? Oh, yes: we went to the movies yesterday, the whole
family plus Nicole (who is once again back in Jamie's good graces,
it would seem). We saw "Groundhog Day" at Lewis & Clark. It
OK ... not as good as I'd hoped, but fun to be in an actual
theater again. It grows on you
after you see it again. And again. And again. And again.
Movies have, for too long, been one of those luxuries
that Polenville couldn't afford.
Wednesday 10 a.m.
March 31, 1993
Life is good these days. How
good, you ask? Good enough that I wake up in the mornings and
actually feel like getting up. Good enough that I can hop into the car
whenever I want to and take myself somewhere and buy myself something,
utterly at a whim. (Yesterday I went to Burien and bought the
soundtrack to "The Last of the Mohicans.") Good enough that Ray and I
haven't argued in weeks ... at least, not over anything of
consequence. Good enough that I can write three checks to cover the
kids' class pictures (being taken today) and not only doesn't Ray
complain, there is still $2,500 left in the checking account. Good
enough that the future has once again become a subject of interest,
rather than something to be feared ...
Friday 8:30 am
April 2, 1993
The kids just left for
school ... I watched in horror as Kyle deliberately stomped
through two enormous mud puddles in the middle of the street (in his
new $40 L.A. Lights) ...
Cool and cloudy this
morning. This is the last day of school before spring break, so I'm
determined to enjoy my "final" day of solitude and get as much done as
possible. Ray took the Velmobile today, with my blessing --
he'll put gas in it for me -- so I'm committed to staying
anyway. I'm going to write in my journal, and clean the house,
drink my coffee with the new Amaretto-flavored Coffeemate, and talk to
people on the phone, and read my book ("The Talisman," second time)
... in other words: same shit, different day. Or maybe that
should be, same shit, different attitude! A month ago, a
day like today
would have struck me as being redundant and joyless. But the new,
improved Terri sees things differently now. This day seems like a
wonderful gift, and I'm going to enjoy the heck out of it.
Kyle was sitting at the
breakfast table, eating his toaster waffle, when he suddenly looked at
me and said, "I know how to spell ‘good.' G-O-O-D!" Lately
he is obsessed with reading ... he reads anything he sees,
advertisements on TV to headlines in the newspaper, laboriously
sounding the words out until he gets them. Naturally I am thrilled with
this development. It would appear that all three of my children have
inherited my love of the written word. Who could ask for better? I
mean, we're not talking child prodigies or anything like that, but a
natural and easy love of reading is a real advantage in this
Anyway, I smiled at him and
said, "OK, now try spelling ‘smart.'"
He had to stop and think
about it for a moment, but then the letters
slowly came to him. "S ... m ... " (he stopped, looked up at the
ceiling, poked his tongue into his cheek) " ... a ... r ..." (long, long
pause while he thought about that last letter) ..."T?"
I clapped and
shouted "Yes! S-m-a-r-t, and that's what YOU are, Kyle!" There
was a look of such triumph on his freckled face!
Ray drove me past BCTI the
other day, just so I could see the building and see how to get to it.
Now all I have to do is screw up my courage and call for an appointment
with the admissions office ... something I haven't quite
nerve to do yet.
I've been having "The School
Dream" a lot lately.
That's the dream where I suddenly realize that I'm starting school in a
couple of days and I'm seized with panic because I have nothing to
wear, or because I don't know where the school is located, or something
similarly foolish. (I think I had the dream again last night, as a
matter of fact, although I'm not sure: there were a lot of
jumbled-together dreams, none of which I recall with any clarity.)
Obviously, this is a very big step for me to take, and I'm
scared. I've waited such a long time to get to this point
-- being able
to afford school, I mean -- and you'd think I'd be ready.
something like 13 years to gear myself up, after all! But here I sit,
paralyzed with fear.
April 4, 1993
Still "paralyzed with fear,"
but at least I can now report that I've taken a tiny "baby-step"
towards my goal. Tomorrow at noon I have my first interview with the
admissions office at BCTI. I'm purposely trying not to dwell on it
today -- I'd work myself into a nervous frenzy if I do
-- so I won't even
write much about it until after the interview tomorrow. Wish me luck.
Spring break is now in full
swing ... the girls are screaming at each other in their
is following me around jabbering at me 100 miles an hour, Ray is
skulking about the garage with a beer in his hand. (The really awful
part is that he is also taking this next week off
April 6, 1993
Good grief. It took me
minutes this morning to find my journal ... it was buried
enormous pile of junk, here on my desk. The whole house looks this way,
and I'm in despair: Ray and the kids are systematically trashing the
place the moment my back is turned. This is turning into another one of
those Spring Breaks In Hell. I mean, It wouldn't be so bad if Ray
hadn't decided to take the same week off as the kids, but all they do
is bicker and tear things apart and drive me insane. Thank God I have
the next three weeks to myself before school starts ...
... and that's the good
the incredible, wonderful, mind-bogglingly-good news: I'M
GOING BACK TO SCHOOL!!! The wheels have been set in motion,
what has been, until now, merely wishful thinking is reality ... I'm
going back to school! (Just writing the words sets my heart
racing.) My classes begin on May 3rd; I'll be attending the
sessions, from 5:45 to 10 p.m., five nights a week for twelve weeks.
I'll graduate sometime this summer, and soon afterward will be working
at an actual, paying, honest-to-God job.
But I'm getting ahead of
myself here: I want to back up and tell you about my appointment
yesterday. I was in terrible shape, to being with: I'd only
hours of sleep the night before, and I was dead-tired. (I'd lain awake
all night, worrying about the interview and battling a horrible
stomach ache.) It took every ounce of inner strength in me just
a shower, put on some makeup and do my hair. Amazingly, though, I did
OK. My hair is too long right now, but I curled it and pulled it back
with a white headband, and it looked fine ... a bit on the
Clinton side, but fine. Makeup managed to hide the dark circles
my eyes, and my outfit -- white slacks, blue and white silk
and red blazer, with new white leather flats -- looked
presentable. I was pleased by the way I'd managed to pull it all
together, in spite of being exhausted.
Ray drove me to the BCTI
campus. Originally I'd planned to go alone -- "This is
got to do on my own," I told everybody, as though I were marching off
into battle -- but the truth is that I was worried about
driving when I
was so tired. And there was something comforting about knowing that Ray
would be waiting outside in the car while I went through my interview:
a little invisible moral support, I guess.
I arrived right on the dot
of twelve, filled out some preliminary forms, and soon after was
ushered to a back office to talk to my "career consultant," Cara Lyn.
She and I have been corresponding on and off for
nearly a year and a half, ever since I made my first tentative phone
inquiry about the school ... she's been sending me updated course
schedules and polite little notes of encouragement ("Please let me know
when the time is good for you"). And she's every bit as nice in
I felt comfortable with her -- and with the school --
It's hard to explain, but I felt as though I belonged there. She
me on a tour of the place, explained the course schedule and the fees,
and made me feel so comfortable that I felt my nervousness and
exhaustion melt away.
The school is smaller and
more informal than I'd expected ... nothing at all
tuition fee is higher than I'd hoped -- it's $5,295
-- but in the
long run I know it'll be worth it. We have the option of applying for
financial aid, but after talking it over with my mom (she stopped by
yesterday after I'd gotten home) we've decided to save ourselves the
$2,000 in interest payments we'd end up with and pay my tuition in
full, before I start classes.
Monday 11 a.m.
April 12, 1993
They're gone! Ray
and the kids went back to work and school today, after what felt to me
like the longest Spring Vacation on record. HALLELUJAH.
Lori and I went to Value
Village this morning for their 50% off sale on all used clothing: I got
a few things that will be great for school this summer. My favorite
outfit is a bright print skirt, white silk blouse and a robin's egg
blue blazer. Which I wore
Kacie's first softball game
April 13, 1993
Spending a long, lovely day
home alone ... yesterday I had to do a lot of running
but today there is nothing on the agenda until tonight (Jamie's first
game of the season). So technically today is the first day of MOMMY'S
VACATION. I made myself a big fattening breakfast, after the kids left
for school, and spent the rest of the morning clipping recipes and
watching junky TV. Bliss.
I was very proud of Kacie
last night -- she played very well, considering that it was
game ever. (Her team tied with Gregory Heights, 7 - 7.)
Kacie's softball picture
April 16, 1993
Velma is coming over in an
hour, to pick up the materials for Jamie's dance recital costume
she's offered to sew it for us. Seems like every time she and I drift
apart from each other, something happens to thrust us back together.
Frankly, this is one "friendship" that I would prefer to see die a
natural death: her sour outlook on life and outrageously bigoted
comments drive me up a wall. But here I go again, putting myself into
the position of being "obligated" to her. Guess I have no one to blame
At 2:00 I have another
appointment at BCTI: I'm paying my tuition (w/a cashier's check) and
filling out my registration forms. And this time I'm going alone
no Ray sitting outside in the car waiting for me. Hope I can
find the place w/o getting lost ... !
Easter Sunday, incidentally,
was on the 11th. It was one of the nicer holidays we've had recently:
no driving anywhere, no company, just Ray and the kids and I. I
the Easter baskets myself this year ... I bought two pretty
(empty) for the girls and filled them with things I thought they'd like
-- Noxzema, mousse and sponge rollers for Jay; Lip
Smackers, Silly Putty
and rollers for Kacie; candy for both. For Kyle I bought a pre-filled
basket but added extra candy and toys to it. (Kyle is the only one
who still believes in the Easter Bunny, by the way. I thought Kacie
still did, but apparently she's known the truth for a long time but
hasn't said anything.) Ray put a ham on the Webber, and I made au
gratin potatoes and asparagus w/Hollandaise & peanuts; Jay made us
a coconut cream pie. The best part about this Easter, though, was
something that happened spontaneously ... it began to rain,
in the middle of the afternoon, and the kids and I threw on raincoats
and tromped around the yard in the downpour, looking for (and finding)
a rainbow. It was a sweet, silly moment I'll never forget.
One very sad thing happened
last week that I've forgotten to mention ... Aunt Mabel
away suddenly in her sleep. Kathy Bach called me from Portland to give
me the news. I was (and still am) very sad about this.
Whew. Velma just left.
(Before she showed up, Janet popped in unexpectedly just to visit, but
the minute she heard Velma was coming over she high-tailed it outta
here! Velma gets on EVERYBODY'S nerves, I'm afraid.) Our visit was
fine until I happened to mention that I'm planning to take Kyle to see
Dr. Kay next week. The rash on the back of Kyle's legs has gotten
markedly worse lately, and I want the doctor to look at it.
Kay?" Velma sneered.
Right then I knew I was in
trouble. "OK," I
sighed. "What's the matter with Dr.
"Let me put it this way,"
she said primly. "We settled out of court." And then she went into this
long song & dance about how Dr. Kay "almost killed her" when he
delivered Jonathan a few years ago. JEEEEEEE-ZUS H. KEEEEEEE-RIST.
April 23, 1993
Now it's a whole week later
... Friday afternoon, April 23rd. I don't seem to be as
about writing in this journal as I'd like to be, but then again this
has been a very busy month for me. Suddenly, I feel so alive!!
School starts in a little over a week, and there's so much to do
preparation: I'm nervous, but I'm also very, very excited. All of a
sudden there's more to life than soap operas and laundry, and even
though I know I ought to be recording all of this stuff in my journal,
there never seems to be enough time. I'm sorry about that: I'll try
harder, I promise.
I had to run an errand this
morning -- I had one final piece of paperwork to drop off
at BCTI -- and
I'm pleased to report that not only can I find the school w/o getting
"lost," it only took 5 minutes to drive there! It's practically
backyard! Anyway, I dropped off my paperwork, and then I decided to
just drive around for awhile before going home ... I went
and bought a couple of things (glue stick, a b-day card for Velma, a
magazine) and then went to our new video rental place and checked out
five movies for the weekend. I got:
- "Unlawful Entry"
- "My Cousin Vinny"
- "Honey I Blew Up The Kid"
- "Stop or My Mom Will
- "Single White Female"
Ray's birthday was on
Tuesday, by the way -- his 38th. Jamie played hooky from school
day, and we went shopping for his birthday ... we got him a nice Timex
watch and a digital clock radio.
I am too embarrassed to tell
you what day it is now. (OK, OK... it's the next Friday! April
30th. So much for "trying harder, I promise" ...)
The Bow Lake School Carnival
is tonight, and the kids are all lathered up about that. I've made it
clear to one and all that I have no
intention of going this year ...
I hate those stupid school carnivals ... so either
Ray can take them or
they can go together as a group, provided Jamie keeps a close eye on
Kyle. I'm going to stay home and enjoy a bottle of wine and whatever
"Mom Project" I decide to work on.
This has been a quiet and
uneventful (fairly) week. Ray put his car in the shop last week, so
he's been driving the Velmobile, leaving me "stranded." I haven't
Hold on a minute --
to switch mediums here.
I'm continuing this now with
typewriter. I've had a peculiar backache for the past couple of
days, and an hour ago I took some aspirin with caffeine in it. It's
made me a little "nervous" ... I was finding it hard to
wobbling. The typewriter will make it easier for me to put some
thoughts down on paper.
Actually, now that I think
about it, this hasn't been an "uneventful" week at all. In fact, a
couple of major changes have taken place. I just meant that I've
the week here at home, alone, without the car. No "quick trips"
Burien. I haven't really minded: next week begins an important,
exciting new period of my life, and I've needed this week alone to
think and "recharge" myself, mentally and emotionally.
We found out on Wednesday
night that it'll cost $1,000 to have the engine in Ray's Chevy
repaired, and to be perfectly honest the car isn't even worth
that much to begin with. Ray was all upset and gloomy about the news,
so I did something totally unexpected: I called Velma and asked if we
could buy the other car she has for sale. It's a 1976 Grenada, which
they're selling for $950. In other words, I picked up the phone and
"ordered" Ray a car ... just like ordering a pizza! You
seen the look on his face!! He's at the bank right now,
cash to pay for it. (He test-drove it on Thursday, and his comment was,
"That car runs like a Cadillac!" I take that to mean he likes it.) So
we'll have another "new" car here, hopefully sometime this weekend, so
I can have the Velmobile back and all to myself in time for school
Ray and I both agree that
this is the last major withdrawal we'll make from the savings for a
long time. I figure that it's worth it, just to make sure we both
a reliable means of transportation.
The other "big" news is that
we've adopted a new kitty, as of last weekend. "Gillie" is a one month
old female, a gift from Janet. She's a little tiger-striped ball of
fur, so small she fits into the palm of my hand. She has completely
taken over this household. The funny thing is, Ray was adamantly
opposed to adopting her -- "Take her back!" he said, when
he saw her -- and yet the next day he went out and bought
her a box of Kitten Chow,
without prompting. The big sentimental lug. (And once or twice I've
caught him holding her.)
Brina is somewhat less than
thrilled with the new kitty, of course -- she hisses
anytime Gillie comes
within three feet of her -- but I hope that in time they'll
come to tolerate each other. In the meantime, Gillie follows me
everywhere, all day long. She wants to be on my lap (or on my shoulder,
or on my back if I'm laying down) every minute of the day. This makes
it difficult to get much done in the way of housework, but she's such a
sweet baby that I don't mind too much. And she's made the kids so
happy. They still miss Spuddy, of course, but Gillie has gone a long
towards easing some of their grief.
"Gillie" (here in
Kyle's arms, on his birthday) became the next great love of my
School is now three days
away, and I'm vacillating between excitement and terror. I don't even
want to write much about it, for fear that I'll work myself into
fullscale panic. I'm 3/4 ready: Janet came over and cut my hair this
morning, and later this weekend I'm going to pick up some Loving Care
and color it. That way I know it'll "behave" for the first couple of
weeks, at least: one less thing to worry about. I still need a good
pair of jeans, and I need to do as much in the way of advance
preparation for Kyle's b.day (next Tuesday) as I can this weekend.
Other than that, I'm "ready." Or as "ready" as I can be, I guess.
I love the fact that
his birthday present (a basketball backboard) was bigger than HE was.
May 8, 1993
OK, OK ... I've
promise, again. It's now over a week later, and I haven't written a thing
in this journal. What can I say? I'm simply not the most consistent
person in town. (Isn't there an old saying about that? Something about
"consistency being the something or other of small minds," or something
along those lines . . .? I'm going to have to look that up: I may be
able to use it in my own defense.) Besides, this past week has been,
without a doubt, one of the most challenging and pivotal
weeks of my life. I've barely had time to catch my breath, let alone
sit and write anything in my journal: I mean it. Getting used to my
new schedule and my new life has taken every ounce of concentration
and willpower and energy in me. (I'm so glad that today is Saturday
lovely, wonderful, "catch up" Saturday -- I could turn
cartwheels ... !!)
I'll try to get some things
written this weekend, anyway, in between housework and phone calls and
whatever else I need to get caught up on. I can't promise anything
cohesive -- it'll probably wind up being lots of bits and
pieces -- but
I guess that's better than nothing.
I feel like I've been a
student at BCTI for months and months, when in fact it's only been
five days. I have to admit that the first night was kind of tough. I
had no idea what to expect, like I was venturing into the unknown
it was probably one of the scariest (and bravest) things I've ever
done. The first thing I did was drive the wrong way into the parking
lot. Instead of going around the front of the building, I went around
the back, which put me on a one-way street -- going the
Naturally there were about a million people standing there watching me:
I felt like an idiot. Then, I was the first person in my class to show
up. I was only ten minutes early (class starts at 5:45), but I was
still the only person sitting there in the classroom, and I felt as
conspicuous as a pimple on a forehead. The classroom is fairly
There are four rows of long tables running from front to back, and then
another long table running vertically on either side. Each table holds
four enormous electric typewriters and four 10-keys. I found myself a
place at the second table from the front, far right end seat. (I didn't
want to sit directly in front, but I still needed to be close enough to
read the board.) At each typewriter was a cellophane-bound packet
textbooks and class materials. This caught my interest immediately.
I LOVE stuff like that! It reminded me of the first
day of first
grade, when I walked into the classroom and found the little brown
square of modeling clay on the desk, next to the "Terri Vert" name tag.
As a matter of fact, a lot of
the things I was feeling on Monday night
mirrored my feelings on that long-ago first day of school
excitement, anxiety, shyness, desire to please and to do well ...
six year old me and the thirty-five year old me have a lot in common.
Anyway, I sat there and
"played" with my new textbooks while the other
students gradually began filtering in. There were two textbooks
HBJ Office Handbook" and "SuperWrite Alphabet Writing System" --
smaller booklet called "BCTI Office Automation Student Workbook," two
steno pads, and a packet of pens, pencils and hilighters.
May 11, 1993
Continuing my story
My instructor for the first
four weeks of the course is a tiny dynamo named Jan L. I think
she must be around my mom's age, fifty-something. She's wryly funny,
but very serious about teaching: the result is that I'm learning a lot
in a very short time, but in a relatively painless way. Already
we've worked on typing, bookkeeping, 10-key, SuperWrite, proofreading
and grammar ... and class has only been in session for six
Two nights a week we also go
next door to the computer room and work
on keyboarding. Our instructor there is named Greg Wiedower ... I
think he'll be our fulltime instructor during the next section of the
I was a little upset the
first and second nights, when I thought I was the oldest person in
the class, but since then I've discovered that four or five other
students are also in their 30's. I'm not accustomed to feeling like
"the oldest" in any
situation, let alone a classroom, so it's
comforting to find out that there are other thirty-somethings who are
just starting out like I am. There are a couple of very young (19 - 20
- 21) girls who sit directly in front of me, Tara & Pam, and I find
myself sometimes staring at them in frank envy. They sit there in their
cut-offs and their running shoes, all long blonde hair and tanned skin
and lean bodies, and it makes me feel like such a frumpy/lumpy mess. I
know I shouldn't let it get to me, but it does. I've let myself go the
past six years, and I know it. Is it too late to pull myself back
together?? My wardrobe is OK at the moment ... between
trips to the
secondhand store and things my mom has given me (including two GORGEOUS
suits -- one navy, one dove-gray -- which she
gave me on Sunday), I've
managed to put together a fairly decent working woman's wardrobe. At
this time, we're not required to "dress for success" in class --
are no dress codes yet, although that does happen later in the course
-- but at least when the job searching begins, I'll have
something to wear. I just wish I could lose some weight, and do
something new with
my hair and makeup, and feel better about my appearance in general.
(I really was hoping to have
breast-reduction surgery later this summer, after I graduate, but now I
don't know. The logistics -- and the expense --
are confounding me at
Anyway, my point is that now
that I've started classes, I've become aware, once again, that mirrors
do exist ... that just because I avoid looking in them
they aren't there. Do you know what I mean? While I was babysitting and
staying home with the kids all the time, it didn't seem to matter what
like. I could get away with thirty extra pounds and a wardrobe of
sweats and no makeup. (At least, I thought I could.) I never
looked in a mirror so I was able to assume I looked OK. "No one sees me
anyway," I rationalized. Now I'm back out in the world, and I can't
delude myself any longer ... I look terrible!!! I'm bloated
sluggish and pale, my hair and makeup are exactly the same as they
were 20 years ago, and I'm so out-of-shape that walking half a block
leaves me sore for days afterward. Help!!
I've kind of digressed here,
though. I have a feeling that I'm going to be motivated to change the
"outside me" this summer, so I'm not going to obsess about it right
now. (I'm already trying to watch what I eat, and that's a start.)
* I really like working on
the computer. I wasn't sure I would, but I do. So far all I've really
learned to do is enter & exit the MAVIS program (that's our
keyboard-instruction program), but it's still a lot of fun. Yeah, it was
pretty much love at first byte for me and computers.
* I also like the
SuperWrite system of speed-writing. It's easier than shorthand, and
although I haven't built up a lot of speed yet, I think I'll get it
before too long. And then
promptly forget every bit of it, the instant you graduate!
* One thing that is really
emphasized is camaraderie among the people in my class. Actually, I
guess what I mean to say is that they want us to get to know each other
and work together as a group. They started the very first night, having
us learn each others' names.
May 14, 1993
Still plugging along. We had
a big test last night, on business letter styles, memo styles,
interview questions and SuperWrite. I think I did well, although I'm
85% certain that I screwed up on at least one SW word. (Is "cheer" Cr
or Cer? I finally chose the latter.) We're doing a lot of bookkeeping
now, too, which is tough, tough, TOUGH. I've always been horrible at
and having to face it again after all these years is like a nightmare
come true. I'm determined to get through it, though. I don't plan to
become a whiz at it, but if I can just master the fundamentals and pass
that section of the course, I'll be happy.
I still pretty much keep to
myself in class, although there are a few people for whom I feel
genuine friendliness -- big nerdy Richard, Norma, Sharynn,
younger people in the class kind of ignore me. They sit in the back
rows of the classroom and joke around among themselves. Do I feel
left-out? Maybe just a little. There are echoes of the old clique
system from junior high/high school here, and it's not hard to remember
the pain of not fitting in. The difference here is that we're all
(supposedly) adults now, and the priorities are different. For me, the
important thing is doing well in class ... not whether I'm included
in the joshing-around. I smile at people, and I make polite
when it's required, but other than that my focus is definitely
I'm still very uncomfortable
about the way I look. Like I said before, my clothes are fine --
great, even, but the extra weight is bothering me like never before.
Yet, I don't seem to be able to do anything about it: last night I
wound up eating half a box of chocolate/peanut butter cookies when I
got home from school. (My period started this morning, though. I've
noticed that I crave junky food a day or two before it starts, so maybe
that had at least something to do with last night's binge.) Need
WORK ON THIS.
I like driving to and from
school. It's a really great feeling of independence, of having
"control" of my life.
Yesterday was the Bow Lake
School Talent Show, held at a special assembly at 1:15 in the
afternoon. Both Jamie & Kacie participated, so I walked over to the
school to watch it. Jamie borrowed a routine (and costume) from her
dance class, a tap dance to "I Love a Piano," and performed it
flawlessly. She looked wonderful, and I was very proud. The BIG
surprise, though, was my Kacie. She had singlehandedly put
gymnastics/dance routine ... she choreographed it, picked
("Club MTV"), even put together her "costume" ... all
from anyone. I watched her take the stage and I felt my heart leap into
my throat. "Please let her do OK!" I begged God. There were a lot of
rude, rowdy little boys in the audience who laughed at anyone who made
a mistake: I knew that if even one person laughed at her, Kacie would
be devastated. I needn't have worried. Not only did she do
"OK" - she
was spectacular!! Her
routine was easily the highlight of the Talent
Show, and when she was through, the audience burst into wild applause.
It was Kacie's moment of glory, and I was so proud of BOTH of my
poised, talented daughters.
Two areas of my life
experiencing temporary dysfunction: housework and friendships. There's
no time for either, and even when there is time, I don't have
the energy. The house is a pit, and my girlfriends probably think I've
Saturday 9 a.m.
May 15, 1993
Feeling so good, it's
I don't drink or smoke at all during the week while I'm going to
school, and all that abstinence has a great effect on me. By Saturday
morning, I feel positively recharged. Today I'm actually going to go
into Kyle's room -- which, at the moment, is the filthiest
disgusting room in the house -- and clean it from top to
Ray's working today --
another reason I'm in a good mood. I know this probably sounds
terrible, but one of the best things about me going to school nights is
that Ray and I hardly see each other. Two ships and all that.
Amazing how well we get along when we don't h ave to spend time
Jamie is spending the
weekend on Camano Island (or "Tomato Island," as Kyle calls it) with
Nicole. She left last night and won't be back until tomorrow evening.
Kacie, Kyle & I got up at 8:30 this morning to watch our
favorite Saturday morning cartoon, "Eek the Cat."
School was OK last night,
although I still have that feeling of being apart from the rest of the
class. (I'm not even sure that the instructor likes me all that
much: when I was finished with all my work and asked her if it was
OK to leave, she gave me this look of distaste.) I don't
know. Maybe I'm imagining all this. I've always been a solitary sort of
person anyway ... it takes me a long time to feel
someone, and maybe that's misinterpreted as arrogance or aloofness.
Maybe they think I'm stuck-up. I keep telling myself that it doesn't
matter, that the REAL test for me will be when I get hired somewhere
later this year ... then I'll really have to work at being
friendly and sociable.
May 27, 1993
It's almost two weeks later
now ... a warm but drizzly Thursday afternoon, and I am on
V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N!!!!! I had last night off, plus tonight, tomorrow
Monday ... a sort of extended Memorial Day "weekend."
It feels wonderful.
As much as I enjoy school -- and I do enjoy it, most of the
time -- it's
great to kick back for a few days and put thoughts of Account Ledgers
and SuperWrite quizzes on a back burner for awhile. Today I actually
managed to mop the kitchen floor and catch up (almost) on laundry. A
Last night was Jamie's dance
recital ... the culmination of many months of hard work on
I'm pleased to report that she did beautifully. She danced three
numbers: "I Love a Piano," "Music Box Boogie" and "La Bamba." Whenever
she was on stage, I got up as close to the front as I could and
furiously snapped pictures: I pray they turned out, because she looked
My beautiful Jamie at
her dance recital
Peg & Don returned this
week from their five-month R.V. trip around the country, so they were
able to come to the recital with us ... a fact that meant a
Jay. (Grandma Beeson went to the Monday night recital.) It was,
Jamie observed, the first time we'd seen them since CHRISTMAS! They
looked great -- tired, but tanned and healthy --
and we were all really
glad to see them. (Peg brought me a beautiful pewter picture frame,
which I love.) All in all, it was a nice evening.
I actually only have two
more nights of O.A. class (Office Automation) next week --
class with Jan as instructor -- and then we move on to the
next phase of
the course, which is fulltime Computer class. I can't believe how fast
the whole thing is going.
Wednesday 11 a.m.
June 2, 1993
Tonight is the last night of
O.A. class, and we're having a giant final exam. As soon as I'm done
with my last cup of coffee, I'll go through my notes and stuff and
attempt to get organized.
A subtle change has come
over me, I think. When I first started at BCTI -- one month
ago tonight! -- I was filled with this burning desire to be
the best in the class, in
everything ... perfect attendance, highest quiz scores,
done with everything. Now I'm content to just do my best and complete
everything I start. The way things are looking at the moment, I'll
probably be finishing third or fourth in the class -- at
least the O.A.
portion of it. And that's good enough for me. I'm trying to set my
sights ahead, towards the job search I'll be undertaking later this
summer. I want the most comfortable, interesting, good-paying job I can
find, and I'll settle for nothing less. Sure you will!
June 3, 1993
The next morning. The final
went OK, I think ... I went in at 4:30 to start it and was
there by 7:00. The only bad moment came when Pepi and Fay, the friendly
Samoan girls who sit behind me, asked me for an answer on a time-zone
question ("If it's 9 a.m. in Seattle,
what time is it in New York?")
and the teacher's aide who was sitting near us reprimanded all three of
us. I'm worried that she may have said something about it to Jan.
Shades of junior high school ...
Tonight we start Computer
June 11, 1993
About ten days later now
... Saturday, June 11th. I just dropped the kids
(plus Tia B.,
who spent the night) off at Shannon South for Tracy's annual
birthday/swim party. It's cloudy and cool, threatening to rain, but
the kids are determined to swim anyway. I'll be going back over
shortly to join the party, but I needed/wanted a little time to myself
first, so I came back home. Listening to a new Jeff Lynne (ex-"ELO")
tape I bought for a dollar at Six Star. (I also bought two tapes by
"The Call," some peach-colored taper candles, and birthday gifts for
Tracy and for Kyle's friend Marcel.)
Ray is working all day
today, and tomorrow as well. Yipee.
School is still going fine.
Our class has become much tighter-knit over the past couple of weeks.
I'm not so much on the outside anymore, and it's a nice feeling to
belong to a "group," even if it's only for the summer. We have Computer
Class (with Greg Weidower, who I like very much!) from 5:45 to 8:00 two
or three nights a week; the other nights we only stay in Computer until
7:00 and do a one-hour SuperWrite with Jan in our old O.A. classroom.
From 8 to 10 every night we're in a class called Career
with an instructor named LaDon McPike. LaDon is an amazingly energetic
and ambitious young guy and an excellent instructor: already he's
helped me write my résumé, and in the weeks to come we'll
how to interview effectively. All of this stuff will help a lot when
Computer Class is tough
-- a lot tougher than I'd
expected, frankly -- but I'm keeping up as well as I can.
And my brain
is enjoying the challenge, especially now that we've started actual
Wednesday 11 a.m.
June 16th, 1993
The first full day of Summer
Vacation: the kids were let loose yesterday at 11:40 a.m., and now the
fun begins ...
I honestly don't know what
this summer holds in store for us. I'll be going to school for several
more weeks: that's the only thing that's certain so far. And the girls
will be going to Camp Cedar Springs again for a week in July. Beyond
that, I don't know. This is the first summer in ages that I'm not
babysitting anyone else's children, which lends me a certain freedom
... and I have a
car. I have a feeling that we may actually
FUN this summer!
I bought two brand-new
"interview suits" yesterday at Southcenter for about $40 each, and
they're GORGEOUS. One has a navy jacket with white polka-dots and pearl
buttons and a solid navy skirt; the other has a peach skirt and a
pastel print jacket. It was a major investment for me, but I think it
will pay off when I start job-hunting (soon?). Now all I need are some
white pumps and a decent haircut, and I'll be set.
June 22, 1993
morning, cold and breezy
Some things have happened
since I wrote last ... I'll try to quickly bring everything up to
I've had some problems with
my health, first of all. I was sitting in computer class on Friday
night when I was suddenly seized by a gripping pain around my
middle. At first I thought it was indigestion, or that my clothes
too tight (I just bought a new bra, and it has some uncomfortable
underwires in it), so I tried to ignore it. It got worse and worse,
though ... by the time I went to Career Development I was
pain. So I left school early. On the way home I bought some Alka
Seltzer and a bottle of 7-Up, and that seemed to help because the pain
disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. I felt well enough to eat
some McDonald's, as a matter of fact, and slept that night about as
well as I ever do.
At 8 a.m. Saturday morning,
though, the pain was
back -- and this time it meant business. I was literally
writhing around on the
floor in agony. The girls were scared to death (Kyle, fortunately, was
away on a Royal Rangers camp-out so he missed the whole frightening
scene). I tried to ride it out for a couple
of hours, but by 10:00 it was clear that I needed medical attention. I
called my mom and gasped that I needed a ride to the hospital.
She was at our house in 12 minutes flat! She ran two red
me to the E.R. at Riverton Hospital ... if I hadn't been in
pain, I would have giggled at her daredevil driving. She stayed right
by my side for the next three hours as I was poked, prodded and given
an excruciatingly painful ultrasound exam. (I was put on a Demerol I-V,
which helped a little, but as soon as they took me off it I was back in
The long and the short of
the whole thing: there's either
something amiss with my gall bladder, or (less likely) I have
hepatitis. We still don't know for sure. I have a doctor's appointment
in a few hours, and maybe I'll have more information then. In the
meantime I missed school last night and will probably have to miss it
again tonight -- frankly, that has me more worried than
anything -- I
don't want to get too far behind, especially in computers. More
all of this later, after I've spoken to Dr. Kay. We
never did figure out what this was all about. I still get these
attacks, maybe once every four or five years, but never as bad (or as
dramatic) as that first one.
Another noteworthy item
(speaking of computers): I am now (almost) the proud owner of an IBM
home computer!! Velma & Ron are selling me one, complete with
printer, for $300! Velma is supposed to bring it over tonight,
really excited. Again, I'll tell you more about it when it gets
Finally -- my
Jamie and I went to Haircrafters in Burien last Thursday, where a dour
old battleaxe named Bernice gave me the worst "haircut" I've ever had
in my life.
Kacie in the laundry room "office" with one of our
earliest piece-of-shit computers
Friday morning, 9 a.m.
June 25, 1993
The kids are still sleeping,
although I don't expect that to last much longer ...
the coffee and hear me clattering away at the computer (not to mention
all the noise the damn daycare is making this morning). It's supposed
to get hot today, 82 degrees by this afternoon (o god: that'll make
school tonight hell on earth), so I've already got all the doors and
windows open, trying to keep the house cool. Kacie spent the night last
night at Tracy's, apparently; Nicole is here with Jamie,
sleeping on the floor of her bedroom. Kyle is curled up on the
loveseat, in the living room.
Kyle was still awake when I
got home from school last night, at 10 p.m. All the lights were
off inside the house, and all of a sudden this little figure in dark
blue pajamas comes gliding across the kitchen floor at me and says, "Hi
Mommy." I was so glad to see him! This summer Kyle and I are having
more than our share of disagreements ... his seven yr. old
willfulness and "macho" posturing are driving me wild ...
(like yesterday) it seems like all I do is yell at him. Where is the
sweet little boy who used to slide his arms around my neck and tell me
how much he loves his Mommy? Last night I got a brief reassuring
glance at that part of Kyle again, and it did my soul good.
Ray was already in bed
asleep, and Jamie and Nicole were in the bedroom with the door closed,
so Kyle and I had a little bit of alone time before we went to sleep. I
fixed some food for myself: I hadn't eaten much all day, hadn't really felt like eating much, but by
then my appetite had returned. I had a
bagel with some of the nonfat cream cheese. It was gag-me AWFUL, the
consistency of Glue Stick. So I had a bowl of canned ravioli and a
little bowl of cereal. Then we laid on the sofa in the living room,
with one lamp on, and read library books for 45 minutes until I got
sleep. It was a sweet and companionable time spent with my son, he with
his "Clifford The Big Red Puppy" library book, me with my novel
Going back to school (after
so many nights away) was OK ... better than I thought it
Richard was very understanding about my having to miss our coffee
get-together last weekend. I told him about being in the hospital, and
he could see all the needle marks and bruises running up &
down my arms (from the I-V and all the blood tests), so he knew I
wasn't just putting him off. Sharynn and Greg (my computer instructor)
and a few other people seemed happy to see me back, and that made me
feel good. I managed to catch up on all my assignments, and by the end
of the evening I felt completely back in the swing of things. I still
wish I didn't have to go tonight, but then again I always seem to feel
that way in the mornings. By afternoon, I'll be back in the "school
mode" and I'll be raring to go. I hope.
I don't have another
doctor's appt. for two weeks, and in the meantime I have to stay on an
intensely rigid nonfat diet, get more rest, drink more liquids, etc. I
have some painkillers but I'm trying to stretch those out as far as
possible, since I doubt I'm going to be allowed a refill.
June 27, 1993
Oh God. I have just found
that Ray has the next WEEK AND A HALF OFF FROM WORK.
I am plunged into
Monday morning 11 a.m.
June 28, 1993
He swears that "he TOLD me"
about this vacation coming up, but if he did, it didn't register. Maybe
I blocked it out because it was too horrible to contemplate. For the
next eight days he'll be in my face, in my hair and on my back
boy. Oh boy oh boy oh boy.
It has started already: I
woke up this morning to the sound of him washing dishes and making
coffee. In other words, invading MY territory. Now he's off doing some
grocery shopping. I gave him a nice long list so hopefully that'll keep
him occupied for a couple of hours. Thank god for school. It'll
a legitimate reason to escape this booby hatch every night, and
evenings are generally the worst time around here when he and the
kids are all on vacation together. Maybe I'll even get some 4:30
Keyboarding classes in this week.
Tonight is our SuperWrite
final, by the way. I'm more than a little nervous about it: it's the
biggest test we've taken, so far, and it counts for 20% of our OA
grade. Before I leave this afternoon I hope to put in a good solid hour
of review, especially all those fucking abbreviations. I just want to
do well tonight, and then I can forget all about SuperWrite forever.
cigarette, bare feet, hair in rollers, beginning of a headache. School
doesn't start for a couple of hours. Ray is putting gas in the
Velmobile; Kyle and the omnipresent Joey B. are slamming the
basketball around in the carport behind me. I reviewed all twenty
chapters in the SuperWrite textbook, and I think I'll do OK as long as
I can remember "suggestion/suggestion" (sg) and "trans" (T) and present
(pr), among other things.
Tomorrow we have ANOTHER
test, by the way ... this time in Computers. So I'll be
again tomorrow afternoon.
Same time, same place.
Time to go put my makeup on,
watch "Oprah" and figure out what to wear tonight. (Pink sweater, white
I'm home, and I survived the
test. I already know that I screwed up one word --
"another" -- I wrote
"antr," and it's actually
supposed to be "anotr"
... oh well.
Otherwise I think I did OK.
It's a cold, raining night.
Driving home I cranked up the oldies station on the radio ("Baby It's
You" by Smith, which I keep hearing these days). Ray and Kyle are
bed already, but the girls are still wandering around, fixing tea and
watching a Julia Roberts movie on TV. (Julia Roberts, incidentally,
married LYLE LOVETT this past weekend.) The house is moderately
wrecked, but at least they had the decency to clean up their own dinner
mess, and it looks like Jamie finished the laundry for me. I just took
a couple of my last precious pain pills, mainly because my legs are
killing me ... what did I DO this weekend?? The muscles in
are so sore I can barely walk ... and fixed a cup of
I guess I'll sit here and organize my notes for tomorrow's
test, and then I'll go to bed.
Tuesday night 10 p.m.
Same time, same place.
Wondering whether this writing-the-journal-on-the-computer stuff is
going to be a permanent thing (as opposed to the old notebook format)?
... haven't made my mind up about that yet. Part of me
"disloyal" to the barely-touched journal sitting forlornly on the shelf
above me. I've been writing in notebooks for how many years now? Since
I was thirteen or fourteen. It's a tough habit to break, and the fact
is I'm not sure I even WANT to break it. What if I accidentally erase
everything I've got written on the computer? What if the girls begin
routinely accessing my file and reading the things that are meant to be
How would Doogie Howser
resolve this dilemma?
The computer is so quick and
easy and FUN. I'm beginning to enjoy sitting here in the
evenings, after school, and punching in a few random thoughts. I guess
I'll keep doing it for a few more days, anyway, and then we'll see how
The computer test was
difficult, as I expected, but I think I did fairly well. The first
section was all multiple choice and True/False questions, and I breezed
through that: the second part, typing and formatting a letter in Word,
was tougher. No matter how hard I tried, I simply could NOT get two of
my paragraphs to justify. Finally I said "hell with it" and printed it
the way it was, minor errors and all. I have recently resigned myself
to the fact that I'm not going to graduate first in the class: the
"Barbie Dolls" (that's what Sharynn and I call Tara and Pam, the blonde
twenty-somethings) will probably tie for that honor. (Or maybe nice
sweet Norma Elder, the older gal with 20 yrs. of accounting
July 7, 1993
Over a week later now. I've
been battling one of those out-of-the-blue depressions I get every once
in awhile. It was particularly awful yesterday. School is alternately
difficult and boring (depending on whether I'm sitting in Greg or in
Don's classroom), the house is a sticky summertime mess, and I seem to
have lost some of my "zip."
Greg is wonderful: he was
pleased to see me return to class yesterday (after the three days I
missed last week), and he helped me catch up on the Lotus lessons I'd
missed. By the end of the evening I'd almost caught up completely.
LaDon, on the other hand, is
an asshole. What IS this man's problem? I didn't spend almost $5,000 to
listen to his inane, over-the-top babbling about "sixty contacts." I
paid my money to learn about computers -- period.
Development stuff is fine for all the young people in the class who are
just starting out, but I'm not looking for a major career, dammit
... I'm trying to learn some computer skills, enough to
find a job I enjoy,
and that's it. He senses my disinterest, I'm sure, and now he's out to
get me. Fuck him.
I take it all back. LaDon is
not an asshole. We had a really good talk tonight ... I think our
Instructor/Student relationship has been set back on track, and I'm
glad. School is starting to be fun again: Sharynn and I are co-editing
the class newsletter, my résumé is being submitted for
(finally) and I'm caught up with most of my work. Tomorrow will be
busy, busy, busy.
July 9, 1993
Friday, 3:40 pm
Thank God it's Friday.
I need to schedule an
appointment (this evening?) with THE singularly most obnoxious person
on the BCTI staff ... Tina "You-guys-you-guys-you-guys"
I am looking forward to like a pap smear, but I need to clear up some
of this "60 contacts" bullshit and EXPLAIN to this person that
don't intend to start my "career search" until I'm ready ...
is, primarily, after I've GRADUATED. Please God let me be
Saturday morning, 10:30
July 10, 1993
SATURDAY, SATURDAY, SATURDAY!!!!!!!!!!
I've been sitting at this
computer for over an hour already ... still in my p.j.'s,
coffee that Kacie made for me. (Jamie, my usual "coffee person", spent
last night with Tracy.) Theresa Beatty showed me last night how
erase files from Word, so I've been getting rid of some of the cornball
stuff that had been bugging me ("Fuckum.doc", "Staout.doc", etc.). I've
also started a temporary file for the newsletter and one for the school
assignments I have to finish: as soon as I'm through with BCTI, I'll
wipe those suckers out FOREVER ...
I have a lot on my mind
today, and hopefully I'll get some of it written today. Quite a lot of
it has to do with school. But first, I need to transcribe an utterly
bizarre dream I had last night, and see if I can figure out what the
heck it's supposed to MEAN:
Jamie was having a
slumber party at our house, with four or five of her friends from
school. These girls were the real "big shots" at school, and Jamie was
dying to make a good impression on them. I was on my best behavior,
serving snacks, etc. ... trying to help Jamie along in the
department. We were, incidentally, living in the Kirkland house.
Anyway, I went into the house and discovered, to my horror, that RAY
had cut a big hole in the living room floor -- for what
reason, I have
no idea -- but it was a huge, gaping, ugly hole, clumsily
with a little shitty piece of cut-up carpeting. I yelled at him: "Why
did you DO this???" He gave me some lame excuse about fixing the
"heater" under the floor. I was so angry with him for spoiling Jamie's
party that I followed him out to the carport and really started chewing
him out. Jamie and her friends were standing right behind me, listening
to every word. Ray was holding a mugful of steaming hot soup (?), which
he attempted to throw into my face (??), but instead of hitting me, it
hit the little girls standing behind me. That REALLY did it. I picked
up a hammer and hit him on the top of the head. Now this is where the
dream becomes intensely weird. I wasn't trying to kill him or anything
-- I just wanted to hurt him -- but apparently
I hit him harder than I'd
intended, because he fell unconscious to the floor of the carport and
just laid there. I could see an enormous goose-egg developing on the
back of his head, and then ... he turned into my Dad. I
mean, he was
still Ray, but he was also my Dad. And I was incredibly angry at them
both. I was sorry that I'd hurt him so badly, but I was still boiling
mad. Jamie and her friends were still there, though, and I figured that
I'd better call for help so they wouldn't think I was too despicable
... the hostess with the mostest or WHAT? ...
so I tried calling my
mom. My ex-stepdad, Ken, answered the phone, and when I told him what
had happened, he started chewing me out. "You shouldn't hit people with
hammers!!!" he shouted at me, and I was so amazed that he was taking
Ray's/Dad's side that I hung up on him.
End of dream. (Or, end of
what I remember of it, anyway.)
Whew. No wonder I was so
happy to wake up.
Please do not expect me to
analyze this horror. I have lots of dreams about being so angry at Ray
I could explode, and quite a lot of the time "Ray" turns into "Dad."
Don't ask me to explain it: I just work here ...
Kacie and Kyle are screaming
at each other, whining, throwing stuff, bickering, bickering,
bickering. Think I'll go jump into the shower and escape it for a few
blissful minutes. More later.
Post-shower. I came out of
the bathroom, toweled and dripping (and blissfully calmed), to discover
that my evil children had miraculously turned into angels and had
picked up the living room for me. A pleasant surprise, to say the
least. What d'ya suppose it is they want ... ???
School. God. I kinda hate to
get into this, because I'm afraid it's going to cost me the rest of my
(supposedly productive) morning: once I start writing about it, I might
not be able to stop. There's so much I want to accomplish today
(cleaning out my desk drawers/organizing my school notebook/starting my
collage assignment/working on tapes/starting AutoSpin/cleaning
laundry) ... I might as well face up to the fact that I'll
to accomplish one-tenth of this stuff, especially if I start drinking
wine later in the afternoon ...
Oh well. Just a little bit,
I'm beginning to get this
slight, sneaky, sinking feeling that BCTI is not exactly what I thought
it was going to be. Actually, I've been feeling this way for a couple
of weeks now, but last night -- talking to Sharynn, who has
favorite friend at school -- and discovering that she felt
the same, it
just kind of hit home finally. What we both agree upon is this: BCTI is
nothing more than a glorified -- and VERY expensive
-- employment agency.
The "computer training" is what I paid for, and yet it seems to be
given short shrift next to the push, push, push, to GET
A JOB RIGHT
mean it. The focus is not on computer training at
all. I've been totally misled in that regard. I've learned some
about computers, and about word processing and spreadsheets. Greg
Wiedower, my Computer Instructor, is the greatest. But the focus at
this place is CAREER DEVELOPMENT, period. If you haven't gotten a job
before you've graduated, you're considered a failure!! And I find
The worst part of all this
is feeling that I have made an enormous mistake enrolling there in the
first place. The thought of all the money I paid, up-front, is enough
to make me want to cry ... or puke. Or both. Yeah, BCTI was a rip-off. But it did
get me out of the house and back into the *real* world.
July 13, 1993
The girls left for Camp
Cedar Springs yesterday morning. I think about them often, and miss
them a LOT, but I
know they're having fun and I want the week to pass slowly, to prolong
their good time.
Speaking of things moving
... What IS it with me
these past couple of days?? All I've felt like doing is curling up with
a Dean Koontz (yesterday I finished "The Hide Away," which was one of
the best I've ever read; today I'm already two-thirds of the way
through "Cold Fire"). I am completely enervated, and I hate it. This
house defies description. Every room, every closet, every drawer is in
utter disarray, and there doesn't seem to be a darned thing I can do
about it except drink mug after mug of lukewarm coffee and wait for my
energy to return ...
Only 12 more nights of
school: thank GOD.
Home, after an especially
long and difficult night at school. (CD was difficult because it was
borrrring; Computers because I couldn't get the hang of "mail merge.")
Ray is sound asleep: Kyle and Joey, who is spending the night,
banging and crashing around in Kyle's room.
I stopped at Taco Time on my
way home -- I've been ravenously hungry since about
7:30. I'm going to
eat, read a little, and sleep, in that order. Hopefully, tomorrow will
be a more productive and emotionally-satisfying day than today was. I'm
feeling weighted down by all the things I have to do ...
getting up early and starting over fresh tomorrow will help.
Thursday night, flush
July 15, 1993
It's a couple of days later,
and yes, I did manage to "rev up" a little yesterday. I got a lot of
housework done and even more in the way of homework done, especially
stuff for the newsletter. (Have I mentioned that Sharynn and I are
editing it? We've become pretty good friends these past two weeks.
Neither one of us has mentioned continuing our friendship once BCTI is
over: I hope she brings it up eventually because I'm too shy to ask.)
Anyway. I guess I did TOO much yesterday, actually, because by
school-time I was a frazzled, nervous wreck. I felt clumsy and stupid
and practically burst into tears more than once. Theresa Beatty, who
sits next to me in Computers, gently suggested that I try to "calm
down." (I was struggling with mail merge and not doing a very good job
of hiding my frustration.) The real icing on the cake, however, was
LaDon. I felt like he was picking on me personally, and when he
announced that I would be doing my video-taped mock interview with Tina
the next day -- today -- I flew into a total
panic. God. I just did NOT
feel ready. I came home from school last night and promptly started
yelling at Ray, who was tipsy and (I felt) unsupportive, and then I
finally did burst into tears. He went to bed disgusted with me.
Well ... as they
a difference a day makes.
I woke up this morning
determined to prepare myself for the mock interview, determined to do
the best damned job possible, determined, in fact, to knock everybody's
socks off. And that's precisely what I did. I'll write some more about
it in the morning, because right now I'm still on an emotional "high"
from school, starving (Ray left me a homemade hamburger) and exhausted.
I have another new Dean Koontz to start -- this one is
Eyes." And tomorrow my ladies are coming home from camp!!!!!
July 16, 1993
Still re-living last night's
moment of glory. I think I can safely call last night one of the nicest
evenings of my life ... and the amazing thing is, I wasn't
expecting it. I was DREADING it, in fact. Go figure.
I had my nice two-piece blue
suit that I bought in June, so I wasn't worried about what to wear
(although the "what color pantyhose?" question had me going for a
while: I finally settled on good quality, "suntan" hose and my new
white pumps). What I was worried about, in order, were my hair,
my makeup, and what to say in the mock interview. Goofy priorities,
maybe, but that's the way I felt. LaDon has been harping on us a lot,
lately, about "ladies" (he never mentioned names, but I was sure he was
talking about me) who wear too much makeup and inappropriate hairstyles
(hair hanging in the face, instead of neatly pulled back). So I felt a
lot of pressure in that area.
My disastrous haircut from
last month has finally grown out a little -- at least to
the point where
I don't cringe every time I look in the mirror -- but I
didn't have the
faintest idea how to wear it for the interview. My usual
teased-and-hairsprayed look was out. I look ghastly in ponytails and
headbands. What, then, to do?? And as for the makeup ... I
I'd have to tone down the eye makeup, especially. I mean, I'm not a
complete idiot. So Kyle and I jumped in the car yesterday morning and I
went to Payless in Burien, where I bought a couple of hair doo-dads,
some new, subtler brown mascara and liner, and some pantyhose. When I
got home, I started experimenting. Unfortunately, the hair doo-dads
were a disaster: a big, clunky gold barrette studded with fake pearls
wouldn't stay in my hair, and the big white clip-on bow looked
ridiculous: I looked like a demented Minnie Mouse. In a panic, I drove
back to Payless, where I exchanged the hair stuff for a plain white
headband. I got home, tried THAT on, and it looked awful too!! (When
will I ever learn?) By this point I was approaching nervous
Saturday morning, very
July 17, 1993
Just back from a quick,
early morning dash to Safeway for coffee creamer and syrup: Ray is at
work and the kids are all asleep still. I can never sleep late on a
Saturday anymore: this is my "catch up on stuff" day, and I always seem
to wake up early, ready for action.
It's so nice to have Jamie
and Kacie home again. When I got home from school last night, Kacie was
waiting up for me. She seemed a little pensive, and I was perceptive
enough to recognize the signs of "camp-sickness" ... an
always suffered as a kid when I'd just come home from camp. She'll miss
Camp Cedar Springs for a day or so, and then hopefully her bouncy good
spirits should return.
July 20, 1993
Another cold, damp day.
"Summer" is still eluding us, at least weather-wise ... a fact
perfectly fine with me, but is causing everyone else to grumble
(especially Jamie and Ray).
I have six full days of
school left. Our Achievement Ceremony is next Thursday night, July
29th. After that, I'll have to attend two (I think?) "Express
Seminars," and then I'll be finished with BCTI, forever and for good. I
still have some lingering doubts about the "education" I've received
there, but one thing cannot be denied: I'm a great deal more "computer
literate" than I was eleven weeks ago. I also have a stack of fine,
printed résumés, a handful of new friends, and a real
shot at a decent
job. Was it worth five thousand dollars? I suppose only the next few
months will tell.
It's hard to imagine myself
working. How difficult an adjustment will it be? Am I going to find a
job that I enjoy? Will I be paid well? Will I meet people at my new job
who will eventually become important to me? How will my working affect
our family? Questions I wish I had answers to ...
By the way: Tara did her
interview last night (so did Sharynn and Richard), and I am meanly
pleased to report that she didn't do nearly as well as I did. SO THERE.
Score one point for the Baby Boomers.
July 24, 1993
Woke up with the stuffy head
and scratchy throat that herald my annual summer cold. I was up and
moving by 7:30 this morning, determined to get a lot done today
took a shower, made a mammoth pot of coffee, fried an egg for my
breakfast ... and then promptly fell back asleep. Shit.
Stupid song, #1
I'm the Mommy! The gay
and happy Mommy!
And I wear a cheerful grin where ‘ere I go.
I just love to go to school at night
And when my children fight, I SMACK ‘em good alright!
(no I don't)
For I'm the Mommy! The gay and happy Mommy!
And I wear a cheerful grin where ‘ere I go.
I had a moment of rare and
unexpected insight last night, as I was sitting in the Career
Development classroom. There are now only three full days of school
left, not including Thursday night's Achievement Ceremony, and as I sat
there in the classroom, looking around at all the familiar faces
-- Sharynn, Richard, Drew Garrett picking at his ears,
Sheri, Queen Tara,
Theresa, all the others whom I have come to know so well over the past
three months -- it suddenly struck me that in a week, these
will no longer be a part of my life. We've been thrown together
intensely for the last twelve weeks, and then all of a sudden, boom
it'll be over. We'll all go our separate ways. It reminds me of summer
camp, or of high school graduation ... the transitory
July 27, 1993
I'm sick. I woke up with a
horrible cold on Sunday morning, and it persists today. To make things
worse, it's finally starting to get hot ... we're supposed
80° by this afternoon. Yuck. (Note: It barely got to 78°
fact, by school time tonight, it was RAINING again.)
Sharynn and I spent almost
three hours in the copy room last night, trying to print out all 59
pages (!) of the newsletter; I think we've finished about a third
of it. Today and tomorrow we have final exams, too. More pressure. I'm
trying like hell to enjoy these last few days of school, but with so
much to do (and feeling so rotten), it's difficult.
ON TOP OF EVERYTHING ELSE,
this house is so disgusting, it makes me want to cry. It's absolutely,
completely, thoroughly, totally FILTHY!!!!!!!!!!
July 28, 1993
Another drizzly gray
morning ... my last official day of classes at BCTI. We've been
awake since 9:00 -- we woke up to watch Carly get
buried alive on "Days of Our Lives" -- but, as usual,
two hours later I'm still sitting around in my pj's, wearily surveying
my grungy house, wondering how in the world I'll ever get it to look
presentable again ...
Stupid Song #2
We're the Polens! The gay
and happy Polens!
And we wear a cheerful grin where ‘ere we go.
We just love to clean the house all day!
And when our Dad's away, we party down and play!
Cuz we're the Polens! The gay and happy Polens!
And we wear a cheerful grin where ‘ere we go.
I actually had a dream about
housework last night. I dreamed I was in some sort of neighborhood
contest, to see who could present the cleanest, happiest home. I
dragged everything we owned onto the front lawn, intending to sort
through it all and organize everything, but right in the middle of
cleaning I had to go "somewhere" ... to school, maybe, or
to work? ... so I made Ray promise that he'd finish it for
me. So naturally when I returned, everything was STILL spread out all
over the yard, and Ray was nowhere in sight, and the contest judges
were already working their way down the street towards me!! I burst
into frantic, disappointed ears. I felt so let-down.
Amazing, isn't it? Here it
is, the last day of BCTI, and all I dreamed about last night was
housework. Why am I so bothered about the house?? And why can't
I make myself DO anything about it??? I feel paralyzed.
The damned newsletter still
isn't finished. Sharynn and I copied as much as we could last night,
but there was a Career Development review that we couldn't miss (in
preparation for tonight's "final"), and a test in Computer class that
we obviously couldn't skip, and we had to leave things unfinished at
the end of the evening. She and I are both frustrated by how long it's
taking. I'll go in early tonight once again, and hopefully we'll
copying and collating it in time for LaDon to take it to the printers.
My mom is home from her trip
to Arizona ... she called last night, just as I was leaving
for school. She'll be attending tomorrow night's Achievement Ceremony,
as will Ray and the kids.
Well, it's over. Except for
the Achievement Ceremony tomorrow night, my BCTI days are over
Tonight was a blur of
collating newsletter pages, test-taking, a quick run to Office Depot
with Sharynn (to drop off the newsletter, all 55 pages of
it, for binding), and chit chat with friends.
Katlin and Tina came into C.D. for one last blast of BCTI
rhetoric ... chiding those of us who haven't' found a
"career" yet, making a giant deal out of those who have ...
smiled and nodded and thought to myself, "Thank God I don't have to
listen to THIS crap anymore!!" ...
THINGS I WILL MISS ABOUT
BCTI: Sharynn, Richard, and a handful of other students who were
actually human beings ... Greg Wiedower, our computer
THINGS I WON'T MISS!!!: Tara
F. and Laura D. ...
Very early Thursday
July 29, 1993
I have an interview with
City Wide Mortgage in Tukwila in a couple of hours. I'm not really
interested in the position ... the pay is crummy ($6.50/hr)
definitely the wrong kind of company for me ... but I'm
going to go anyway, just for the experience. I'm not a single bit
nervous: in fact, I'm so confident that I'm already wondering how to
gracefully turn DOWN the job!
Ray left me twenty bucks for
gas and potluck materials, but I'm considering going to the bank
anyway, after my interview, and taking out some money for the weekend.
Tonight, of course, is my big night. Graduation night! I'm not
nervous about THAT, either.
The interview went smooth as
silk ... as I expected. I was poised, articulate,
intelligent, professional. The interviewer was very impressed, I could
tell. Sometime this afternoon she'll be calling to let me know whether
or not they want me, and guess what ... I don't care. I'm
not going to take the job anyway.
In the meantime, I just got
a FANTASTIC phone call in response to another resume I sent out
... this one is for the Arbitron company! The TV ratings people.
I have an interview scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday morning, and I'm
walking on air. Looks like Terri is on her way, folks ...
maybe not this job, maybe not the job after that one, but soon. I can
just feel it.
My Achievement Ceremony
On Thursday, July 29, 1993 I
officially graduated from Business Computer Training Institute.
At my BCTI
"Achievement Ceremony" with my pal Sharynn
July 29, 1993
August 3, 1993
It's only 8:00 in the
morning and already it's HOT. Summer is finally here, weather-wise. It
was amazing -- the entire month of July was cloudy and
cool, but first thing Sunday morning, August 1st ... pow! Blue
skies and soaring temperatures. Overnight, practically, we went from
cold to hot. I have a feeling it's here to stay, too ...
the air has that thick, heavy feeling I hate. Oh well. Time to
crank up the fans, don the shorts and refill the ice cube trays
Lots to tell. Where to
First of all, I am alone
today. Peg and Don came and picked up the kids yesterday morning, for
their annual summer week at Grandma and Grandpa's house. They'll be
gone at least until Thursday or Friday. (Ray looked at me last night
and said, "Aww ... do you miss your girls?" I guess I had a
pensive expression on my face, but the truth is I wasn't even thinking
about the kids at that moment: I was contemplating the condition of my
toenails. Gee, the man reads me like a book,
doesn't he?) Anyway. They called me last night (Kyle's funny
Mickey Mouse voice chirping in my ear -- "HI Mommy!") and
they seem to be having fun so far. I'm a little worried, though. Don
hasn't been well lately and I worry about the kids stressing him out
(and vice versa). How will he cope with Kacie and Kyle's constant,
annoying bicker-bicker-bickering ... ?
Peg is taking them to buy
some school clothes and shoes, which will be a big help. They'll
probably eat fast food every day and watch cable TV till their brains
rot and be pampered like royalty, and then they'll come home at the end
of the week and sit around and complain at me (Mom, I'm borrrrred).
Funny little people.
In the meantime, I plan to
take full advantage of
some much-needed time ALONE. It's been months, literally, since I've
had some time to myself, and it feels like a VACATION ...
The job interview yesterday
at Arbitron went fairly well. We'd spent the previous evening over at
John and Lori's, watching the hydroplane races, barbecuing chicken and
drinking champagne, so I wasn't feeling as sharp yesterday morning as I
could have. But I did OK. I found the office right away, for one
thing ... always a good sign. It's right down the hill to
Southcenter, in the Central Pointe Business Park. I was momentarily
spooked to discover the office was totally empty: no people, no
furniture, nothing. I waited in the lobby for awhile, and at 9:00 the
two men who are doing the interviewing/hiring showed up. I filled out
an application and then interviewed for about 45 minutes. The gentleman
I interviewed with the longest, Tom, was very nice. He asked me a lot
of questions along the lines of, "What would you do if someone
criticized your work?" ("Accept the criticism in the way it was
intended and make the necessary changes" I said, I think). I choked
a couple of times, but for the most part I'm assuming I did my usual
articulate, outwardly-smooth job. I'm usually pretty good in these
situations. I would like this position, but it'll be another week at
least before I hear anything. If I do get the job, it doesn't start
until after the Labor Day weekend next month. (Actually, that would be
kinda nice ... I could take the rest of summer vacation
with the kids.)
HOT. I've been cleaning
frantically for the past hour. The living room looks OK
now (except for the horrible grimy carpet) and so does the kitchen
(except for the horrible grimy FLOOR) ... I'm
flushed, sweaty and pooped.
Talked to the kids about an
hour ago: Jamie
wanted to tell me that Kathie Lee Gifford had her baby (Cassidy Erin).
Loud music emanating from the stereo, out in the living
room ... a tape I made last December (which seems
like a million years ago). Wondering what to do with the rest of my
day? Should I go to the store and get a bottle of cold wine? Or is it
going to be too hot for that?
August 5, 1993
Still puttering around the
house, enjoying my "vacation." I'm enjoying it TODAY,
... yesterday was a different story. It got up to
95° -- the hottest day of the year, so far
I was hungover on top of that. The combination made for complete
misery. Mostly I just layed on the sofa in front of the fan and watched
TV. By 10 p.m. it was still so damned hot that I couldn't sleep, so I
grabbed a pillow and went out to the garage and curled up on the
loveseat for a half hour. It was much cooler in the garage, and I
probably could have spent the night out there, but then I started
worrying about bugs and spiders and things, and it spooked me so much
that I had to come back inside. I slept in the living room with Gillie
curled up next to me, and the front door wide open.
It's a little
cooler today, thank God. I'm doing laundry and cooking a special dinner
for Ray and I (chicken parmesan), so that's heating things up a little,
but so far it's bearable.
I talked to the kids this
morning, and I guess they'll be staying at Peg and Don's until
Saturday. I've missed them, but I have to admit that the solitude has
been nice. What I've really appreciated is how clean the house has
stayed! I did a nice job on the living room two days ago, and it
still looks OK. A miracle!
August 9, 1993
Several days later. Cloudy
and cool. The kids came home on Saturday, as expected, and within hours
the house was completely trashed. To make matters worse, I fixed tacos
and burritos for dinner last night, and the kitchen is a horrific
greasy mess. Disheartened.
Still haven't heard anything
back from Arbitron. Tomorrow I'm supposed to interview at BNC
Telephones in South Park ... if
I can find the place.
Tuesday morning, 7:30
August 10, 1993
Jamie and I hopped into the
car yesterday afternoon and drove around South Park, looking for BNC
Telephones. After a couple of wrong turns, we managed to locate it in
an industrial park at the end of Des Moines Way Memorial Drive. When I
saw the place, I started feeling these funny "vibes" ... as
though this may be a place that I come to know very well. A
premonition? Maybe. I came home elated, for no reason I can
Now I'm sitting here in my
rollers, three-quarters made up, sipping a
strong cup of coffee and preparing for my interview. For some reason, I
just know that this interview
is going to go very well: I feel strong
and confident and in control.
When my interview is over, I
think I may zip over to Burien and try on some dresses at Value
Village ... whaddya think? Then I'll come home and tell you
how the interview went. Wish me luck!
Well, I'm going to need more
than luck to get THIS job ... I'm going to need a major
face-saving MIRACLE. My interview is not until 1:00, folks.
right: The Dummy of the Year showed up four hours early for her
interview. The dark office and locked doors gave me my first clue. I
sat in my car, outside the office, and waited ... and
waited ... and waited. By 9:15, there were still no
of life within BNC Telephones. There was a man on the loading deck next
door to the office, and I asked if he had a phone I could borrow. I
called Jamie and had her bring up my job-hunting information on the
computer. She gave me the phone # for BNC, and I called the main office
(which apparently is separate from the South Park office). The lady who
answered said that the interviews weren't scheduled until "1:00." Like
an idiot I gave her my name, so now it's a matter of record
that I can't keep a simple interview time straight. WONDERFUL. That
means I'm going to have to work doubly hard this afternoon to wow the
interviewer, to make up for this blooper. If he doesn't mention it,
neither will I. "He" turned
out to be a guy I'd gone to high school with, interestingly enough.
August 13, 1993
Three days later. Some
things are good, some things are not-so-good, but overall, life is
interesting today ...
More clouds and gray skies.
The kids are out in the living room (Jamie and Kacie laying together on
the loveseat), watching "The Bodyguard" ... Jamie's second
time, Kacie's first. When they're not wrapped up in the movie, they're
fighting over Gillie. Ray is in our room, asleep. He got up this
morning at 6:30 a.m., hacking and wheezing, and called in sick. I've
gone in and checked on him a couple of times, but he's dead to the
world. Hope the rest of us aren't going to get this, whatever it is.
I've just finished cleaning the kitchen, and now I'm thinking about
putting on some makeup and going to the grocery store for floor cleaner
and 7-Up (for Ray).
I am now among the employed,
by the way. Ta-da. Just like that. I KNEW I was going to get
that telephone company job, and I did!
August 17, 1993
Ray went back to work today
after four days of "sick leave" ... time he spent mostly
laying around in bed or snapping at the kids and I. It's a relief to
have him gone.
Took Jamie to Dr. Kay's this
morning for her 6th grade
measles inoculation. Afterwards we went to Payless for shampoo and
fingernail polish remover, then spent an hour and a half browsing
around the Burien library, then stopped at McDonald's for lunch. Sweet,
companionable morning with my Puss. Kacie and Kyle stayed home, playing
with the Nintendo and (I can see by the looks of my office) the
Speaking of the computer.
Ron and Velma came by yesterday and re-installed the computer games
for me, which I'd accidentally loaded incorrectly. I was supposed to
get WordPerfect, too, but something was wrong with the disks Ron tried
to use and they'll have to try it again tomorrow. I was disappointed,
because I've really been looking forward to teaching myself W.Perfect
(I'll be using it at work next month), but I guess I'll live ...
Friday 6 p.m.
August 20, 1993
Warm and stuffy afternoon
drawing to a close ... just dropped the girls off at Linda
Loveall's house for a slumber party.
I start work on
called me Tuesday and asked if I would have "any problem" coming in a
week early. I tried to sound really cheerful about the whole thing, but
the truth is I'm disappointed ... I was hoping to have the
rest of summer vacation with my kids. O well.
Jamie and I went shopping
today and I bought all the clothes I'm going to need for work. More
about this another time.
August 22, 1993
God. Here it is ... my
final day as a fulltime homemaker. After thirteen years of babies,
laundry and soap operas, I'm going back out into the real world. It
must not have completely sunk in yet because I don't feel sad, I don't
feel nervous, I simply feel ... accepting. As if it's
meant to be.
If I have one regret it's
this: I wish I could go off to the new job tomorrow morning with
everything neat and tidy and in order, house-wise. But as usual the
place looks like a pit. There's no way in the world I can get it all
done in one afternoon. (Especially with Ray pulling his Zombie Routine
again today: he's laying in bed looking like he's moments from death,
and it's NOON already. I asked him, "What? Are you going to be dead all
day again today?" and he just nodded, bleary-eyed. Wonderful.) This
bothers the Neat Freak part of my personality, but it can't be helped.
Poignant moment from this
evening: ironing my work blouses and listening to Judy Collins, "Who
Knows where the Time Goes?" ...
Monday afternoon 5:30 pm
August 23, 1993
Well, I'm home from my first
day as the secretary for BNC Telephones ...
I'm sweaty, I'm a little
tired, I have one helluva blister on my left heel from my new shoes,
and I don't have the faintest idea what to feed this family for dinner
... but I'm elated! It went very, very well --
as first days go,
First impressions: I'm going
to be spending a lot of time
"Ray" stopped by my new office on his lunch hour and took this picture
Monday morning, 8:45 a.m.
August 30, 1993
Sitting at my desk at work.
This was the first morning I had to come in at 8 a.m. ... ugh. I
up at 5:30, knew the alarm was going to go off in fifteen minutes, and
decided to face the inevitable and simply GET UP. I showered in
darkness, started a pot of coffee and turned on the early-early TV
news, and by the time Ray began lumbering around at 6:15, I was well on
my way to waking up.
"Oh good!" he said, when he
saw me sitting there slathering foundation onto my nose. "I'm gonna
have someone to wake up with!"
I just glared at him.
Getting up early
is one thing: getting up chipper and cheerful
on a Monday morning is
out of the question ...
I was the first person here
this morning, so I had to unlock the door, turn off the Answering
Service, start the coffee (déjà vu) and get things
running. Randy and James showed up shortly afterwards, but now they're
off on the road again and I'm back to sitting here in an empty
office. Not that I mind. One of the things that appeals to me about
this job is the amount of autonomy -- and solitude --
I get to enjoy. Right now,
for instance, I can sit here, sip my coffee, listen to KBSG ("Something
tells me I'm into something good") and gaze off into the
through the open office door, appreciating my view of the downtown
Seattle skyline. Not a bad way to start a Monday.
Yesterday was our 13th
wedding anniversary, by the way. We spent it at Marymoor Park in
Redmond with the whole extended family, celebrating Barbara's baby's
1st birthday. True to form, Ray was broke and didn't buy me anything
for our anniversary ... hell, I didn't even get the usual
ink-smeared CARD this year! ... but I'm not going to go
What IS driving me crazy is
the disorganization I feel right now. The house is a mess. My journal
is a mess, spread all over various computers and notebooks. My life
just feels ragged and out of control. Weekends don't help: if anything,
they make things worse. It would help if I could get just one thing
taken care of ... say, the journal, for starters. Tonight when I
get home I think I'm going to attempt to put it back together, and then
KEEP it together. That might help. And next weekend --
Labor Day weekend, three and a half blissful days off --
I am determined to do a MAJOR housecleaning. Once I get things
put back in order, I'm sure I'll feel a lot better and can concentrate
on my job and my computer studies with less distraction. Nothing short
of Hurricane Emily is going to stop me (from cleaning next
Tuesday lunch hour
August 31, 1993
Well, at least I've gotten
the journal more or less put back together ... that's a
step in the right direction. It's going to wind up being the oddest
journal I've ever had ... some pages are
handwritten, some are computer-printed, there's even a couple of pages
typed on the little electronic typewriter ... oh well. At
least it accurately reflects the changes my life has undergone this
past year: moving from pen to word processor, a sort of metaphor for
the internal changes
I'm trying to be in a good
mood today, without much success. I HATE getting up at 6 a.m., for one
thing. It throws me so far out of whack (ravenously hungry by 9 a.m.,
exhausted by 3 p.m.), that I don't know how I'll ever get used to it.
Also, it's incredibly depressing to get home at 5:00 and survey the
landfill that is my house ... huge mountains of dirty
laundry, three inches of dust on everything, floors as sticky as
fly-paper. Last night I came in and immediately wanted to cry. I had to
resist the impulse, though, because the kids -- especially
-- are trying so hard to help out. The dishes are mostly done,
the living room is (sort of) picked up, and my bed is made, at least.
Maybe when the kids go back to school and Velma starts coming in twice
a week to clean for me, I'll be able to relax and not worry so much
about this. God, I hope so.
The other thing on my mind
today is my first paycheck, which is coming tomorrow. I went against
Ray's wishes and listed no dependents (the bookkeeper in Spokane
advised me to
do it this way), and I'm afraid I'm going to wind up with a little
dinky paycheck every two weeks. How much do they take out, anyway??
Lori said it could be as much as $180. My heart just sank when
she said that. Hope I get a raise QUICK. Guess I'd better make myself
pretty damned indispensable around here ...
Thursday 10:45 a.m.
September 2, 1993
Ugh. I have a horrendous
hangover this morning, and another five and a half hours before I can
go home and crawl back into bed ...
... Serves me right
for drinking wine on a weeknight. I was so happy about my paycheck last
night, I decided to "celebrate." Now I'm paying for it. Mainly I'm just
tired. A few minutes ago I was seriously considering
going into Bill's office and laying down on the floor and taking a
nap. Unfortunately, I never know when my boss is going to make his
appearance, and wouldn't THAT look cute ... Goldilocks nappy on
the Big Bear's office floor??
Only half an hour to go, and
then I can go home and lay down. I can hardly wait.
Got my office furniture this
afternoon ... it's all solid oak, totally beautiful. I have
an L-shaped desk with lots of work space, a credenza and two small file
cabinets. Brad helped me move it all in. I'm too wiped out to finish
putting everything away ... that can wait till tomorrow
Had the most bizarre phone
conversation with, of all people, DEAN H. (My boyfriend from 11th
grade.) Turns out he's the manager of the Federal Way Albertson's, one
of our phone customers. When I said "Dean, it's Terri. Terri Vert?,"
he came undone. We chatted for ten minutes (God! He sounds so
it was very sweet. Dean was one of my favorite all-time boyfriends. He
broke my heart in the end, but while we were together it was pretty
September 7, 1993
Back in the office after
three and a half days off (for Labor Day). Very hot today: it's
supposed to get up into the mid-90's by the end of the week. Ugh. I
suppose this is penance for having a tolerably cool summer. I brought
the little mini-fan from home, and it's clipped to the window beside my
computer. All it really does is toss my hair into my face a lot, but
it's better than nothing ...
This is the kids' last day
of summer vacation: tomorrow it's back to the salt mines for them, too.
Last night Jamie and Kacie slept outside in the tent -- one
last blast of summer vacation, I guess. Kyle was going to sleep out
there with them too, but fifteen minutes after he'd kissed me and
disappeared out the back door, he was back! He wound up sleeping in the
living room with me, on the loveseat. Sometime in the middle of the
night he woke up from a nightmare: I found him perched on the arm of
the loveseat, muttering something incoherent, and had him come over and
snuggle with me for a few minutes. Then, when I got up this morning at
5:45 a.m., he insisted on getting up with me. All this disruption in
his sleep schedule is bound to have an affect on him
tonight ... he'll probably be pretty cranky by
bedtime ... and then guess what, folks? He has to get
up and go to school tomorrow. O boy!
Our weekend was OK: not the
best on record, but it was nice to sleep late for a couple of days.
Found out that Lori's mom, Crystal, is terminally ill with lung
cancer ... she's not expected to live much more than a month or
so. That put a damper on the weekend. Also, I had an unpleasant
encounter with some drunken teenaged boys on Sunday afternoon, when I
was taking the kids school-supply shopping ... I don't
really want to talk about it right now because it still hurts
... suffice it to say that it served to remind me that I'm older
and fatter than I think I am most of the time. Another emotional
"damper." Maybe I'll write about it another time.
I'm continuing to make the
occasional mistake around the office, mainly on the phone, and it puts
me on edge. I would hate to lose this job because of my own stupidity:
I thought that was something I'd put behind me forever. Gotta try
A caterpillar crawled into
the office awhile ago. James looked at it and said to me, "Uh-oh,
another one of our favorite creatures!" I had mentioned last week that
caterpillars are the one insect that truly repulse me: this
conversation coming about because there are always bugs,
creeping/crawling/flying into the office (right now, as a matter of
fact, there is a giant grasshopper on the wall). Randy scooped up the
caterpillar and tossed it out the door, and then the guys left and I
was alone. I sat here for about 45 minutes, trying to enjoy a cold
glass of Gatorade ... but all I could think about was that
goddamned caterpillar, which was now in the middle of the road directly
in front of my open door. Every time another big truck would come
rumbling past, I would cringe: please, please, please don't let
it run over that caterpillar!! I couldn't bear the sight, let alone the
thought that my dislike for caterpillars had brought about its demise.
Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore, and summoning up every ounce of
courage in me, I walked out to the street, scooped up the caterpillar
with a piece of paper (it was STANDING UP! UGGH) and took it over to
the side of the road, beneath the tree where the caterpillar nest is
hanging. Now I feel strangely virtuous and pleased with myself.
September 10, 1993
Alone in the office. Randy
and James were here, briefly, and Bill's dad stopped by to drop off
papers, but other than that I've been by myself all morning. Not the
worst way to be. Pleased that this is Friday, and that this week passed
as quickly and easily as it did. The kids went back to school; it's
been swelteringly hot for five days running; Ray's been impossible
(especially in the evenings); we've been somewhat "cash-poor" all week;
I've made some dumb mistakes on the job ... and yet we've
managed to get through it all on once piece.
This was the first year,
ever, that I missed opening day at Bow Lake. Did I feel guilty? Maybe a
little. The kids have been so great about it, though ... getting
themselves off to school in the morning, I mean. I get up at 5:40 a.m.,
and by 7 a.m. or so they're all usually in varying stages of alertness.
When I leave at 7:30, they're well on their way to eating breakfast and
getting dressed. Jamie has posted a list on the back door, reminders of
things to do before they go to school (unplugging the coffee, locking
the doors, remembering lunches & homework, etc.) and so far the
system seems to work.
Jamie and Kacie like their
new teachers (Ms. Denner and Mrs. Lyons, respectively) and have started
the new school year on a positive note. Last night Kacie showed me her
notebook, which is impossibly neat and organized: hope it stays that
way! Poor little Kyle, though, is having a tougher time of it and he's
not very happy. For one thing, they've stuck him in one of those
infernal split-grade classes -- in this case, Grades 2 and
3 -- and there
is only one other second grade boy in the class besides him.
They're in a portable instead of the main building, which further
separates him from his old friends. Finally, I just found out yesterday
that his teacher is only a substitute until they hire someone
permanently. The whole situation sucks major wind, in my opinion. I've
had a difficult enough time trying to get Kyle fired up about going
back to school, and this just makes it that much tougher. I talked to
Mom about it, and she recommended staying positive and waiting until
the new teacher is hired. ("You might wind up with someone wonderful,"
she said); she also reminded me that usually only the brightest and
most adaptable kids are placed in the split classes. This was somewhat
consoling, but Kyle's still unhappy and it's going to take some time to
work through this.
(Ugggh. I just discovered a
caterpillar crawling up the credenza next to the fax machine. How do
they get all the way across the parking lot, anyway???)
The house still looks like
it's been stirred with a stick, but I'm trying not to care. Nobody's
home during the day to look at it, anyway. Every night after work I try
to run two or three loads of laundry, so I can be semi-caught-up on at
least one household chore. Next week Velma starts coming in to clean,
and maybe things will improve then.
September 13, 1993
... And then, in the blink
of an eye, the weekend has come and gone and it's Monday morning
Even as we speak, Velma is
cleaning my house: I can hardly wait to go
home and see what it looks like.
I have a sore throat and a
headache behind my eyes; hoping I'm not coming down with something. I
want to avoid taking any time off from work until I've built up a solid
three or four months of perfect attendance.
Tuesday, late morning
September 14, 1993
The pace is picking up at
work, and I couldn't be more delighted. I walked into the office this
morning and found a stack of letters to be typed, three feet high. I
had faxes to send, copies to make, filing, phone calls to take and
make ... it was great. As much as I enjoy all the free time, I
also enjoy having things to do: it's one of the reasons I went back to
work in the first place. Things were hopping all morning, with all four
of the guys here in the office, but now it's back to KBSG, Kevin the
UPS guy, the computer and me ...
Velma left me a note when I
got home last night. "Sorry I didn't do more!" it said. God. She
managed to accomplish more in 90 minutes than I've done in three
months ... the house was so clean, it was alarming. I felt
like I'd walked into the wrong place. The floors were mopped and
vacuumed, the newspapers picked up, the dishes washed and put away, the
bathtub scoured. The air was redolent with potpourri, furniture polish
and pine cleaner (instead of the usual dirty socks and stale beer). She
even left the kids an after-school snack. I wonder what she'll
accomplish when she's really motivated???
Naturally I feel two ways
about this. Where Velma is concerned, I always have mixed feelings. I
love the help. I love how thorough and cheap and reliable this set-up
is going to be. On the other hand, there's a part of me that is
uncomfortable with Velma knowing so darned much about us, simply by
cleaning our house. She knows that our toilet seat doesn't stay up, and
what brand of shampoo we have in the shower. She knows what we had for
dinner last night or for breakfast that morning. She knows what library
books I'm reading, what bills we've gotten in the mail, what phone
calls we get during the day. I wouldn't feel this way if it were Lori,
or a family member, or even a total stranger! ... it's just
something about Velma, about the way she's always insinuating herself
into my life, that makes me uneasy baring all these intimate details of
our family life. Already she's offering to replace the toilet seat, she
has figured out where everything goes in my kitchen, and she is
planning the next after-school snack for my kids. It's like we're being
invaded . . .
The girls and I went to the
new Burien Drug Emporium last night after work. What a neat store. We
wandered around for almost an hour, looking at everything. I bought two
huge bottles of Suave shampoo, 2/$5.00, some personal stuff for
whenever the hell my period shows up (and it better be darned soon
or I'm going to start playing the "What If" game again), some makeup
sponges and a big fat brush to put loose powder on with, and a few
other little odds and ends. When we got home we fixed leftovers for
dinner (leftover enchiladas, leftover shish kebobs, baked potatoes,
French fries, cold ham sandwiches ... there was a little
bit of everything floating around).
Then I made a HUGE mistake.
Thinking it might help me relax and make my headache and sore throat go
away, I took three extra-strength Pamprin. Forty minutes later --
8:30 -- I was sound asleep on the sofa!! I
believe how fast they knocked me out. I completely missed Monday
night TV (and it was my favorite "Northern Exposure" episode, too,
dammit ... the one where Shelley can't stop singing; I was
going to tape it). Fortunately I didn't feel especially groggy or
medicated this morning when I got up at my usual 5:40 ...
if anything, I felt more well-rested than usual. But I'm still
going to be careful about the Pamprin from now on. Those suckers are
September 16, 1993
I've had two crummy days,
back to back, and this afternoon I am as wrung-out as an old dishrag
My period started this
afternoon, right in the middle of my work day. Thank god I'd had the
presence of mind, earlier in the week, to pick up those tampons and
stash a few in my purse ... otherwise I would've had a real
mess on my hands.
Ray and I had a horrible
fight last night. It was my payday, and I went out and picked up some
Taco Time for dinner. Ray threw a tantrum because I brought him a soft
taco instead of the two crunchy tacos he claimed he ordered (he
didn't). We ended up throwing things at each other and I went to sleep
in tears. My eyes were a puffy horror this morning when I got up, and
I've felt bedraggled and sad all day. On my way home a little while ago
I stopped at Taco Time again and bought him two tacos as a peace
offering. I was planning to stay mad at him but I don't think it's
worth the effort, frankly.
I wish like crazy that it was Friday: a glass of wine
would be particularly grand right now. That or a margarita. I learned
my lesson the painful way two weeks ago, though, about drinking on work
nights. It's a mistake I'm not anxious to repeat.
September 20, 1993
This was one of the most
incredibly stressful days I've ever had in my life ...
I got to work this morning
and discovered that our office had been broken into! The glass door had
been shattered, and everything in the office had been stolen ... the
computer, the new laser printer, the fax machine, the copier, the new
paging system ... EVERYTHING. My locked desk drawer had
been busted open and the strongbox containing the petty cash was gone.
The thieves also took some equipment out of the warehouse ...
some new receivers still in boxes, some of Bill's expensive tools, etc.
I was in shock. It was one of those situations where your eyes
has happened but your mind refuses to believe it for a while. I called
Bill at home and then I called 911. The rest of the morning was spent
itemizing our losses, getting the broken glass cleaned up and the door
fixed, and watching the police fingerprint everything. Bill was
remarkably good-natured about it all . . . probably because we're
insured for everything. He immediately sent his wife out to buy a new
typewriter (ten times nicer than the old Selectric) and a fax machine
so we can continue basic operations. Later this week the insurance
appraiser will come out and we'll be able to replace the rest of the
If one good thing came out
of this experience, it's the fact that it seemed to bring us all closer
together. The guys were especially kind and solicitous towards me, and
I felt more like "one of the gang" as a result. Lately I've been doing
some really good work, and I'm beginning to earn some respect and
acceptance. The break-in just helped seal that.
September 21, 1993
Continuing this the next
Last night Kacie had her
first gymnastics practice at Highline
High School from 7:30 until 9:00. Jamie and I dropped her off; we
stayed to watch the first few minutes, and then went to McDonalds for a
snack and then to Drug Emporium to "browse." (Quickly becoming my
When we got back to
Highline, Kacie was having some
problems in class. Most of the other girls in her class have been
taking lessons for some time, and she's got a lot of catching up to do.
I think she went into this expecting to be the best in the class, and
it hurt her to discover that she's not . . . she was crying at one
point, especially when her instructor kept calling her "Marcie" and
yelled at her to "Pay attention!" Driving her home, I tried my
bolster her feelings. This gymnastics class is something she's wanted
for a long time, and I wish it had been more fun for her. I told her
that she's showing a lot of potential, and that if she sticks with it
I'm sure she'll catch up in no time. She seemed to feel a little better
by the time we got home.
Jamie fell at school
yesterday and hurt her right wrist again. She was in so much pain this
morning (plus she didn't sleep at all last night) that I had her stay
home today. She's got it wrapped up in an Ace bandage and has been
putting it in ice packs all day, but she still seems to be in far too
much pain. I pray to God it isn't broken again. If she doesn't feel
better by tomorrow, I guess I'll have to take her to the hospital and
have it x-rayed.
Thursday early evening
September 23, 1993
Another looooong day. The
girls are yelling at each other out in the living room . . .
fortunately the washing machine, the dryer and the CD player are
drowning them out so I can't hear what argument #6,564,789 is about . .
Waiting for my brother to
show up! He called this morning as I was leaving for work and asked to
September 27, 1993
I never seem to get anything
written on the weekends, do I? It always seems to be a Friday or a
MONDAY when I'm sitting here typing a journal entry . . .
Still no computer at work,
and I've already gone through two ribbons for the new typewriter
one left, and I'd better save that for stuff Bill needs me to type
I spent this day reading a book and munching on jellybeans. The phone
rang a grand total of three times all afternoon, and two times it was
. . .
Oh well. Monday is Monday.
We had to endure another one
of Angela's birthday parties on Saturday: this year, we went roller
skating at the Southgate Roller Rink. Surprise! I actually had
It's been seventeen years since I strapped on a pair of roller skates,
and that first turn around the rink was verrry shaky, but pretty soon I
got the hang of it and in no time I was zipping around the rink, just
like old times. It was great.
Afterwards, I took the kids
ever-present Nicole) to Dairy Queen for Blizzards.
Fall is officially here, by
the way ... in name only, anyway. Hot weather predicted all
Tuesday 5:30 pm
September 28, 1993
Tired and crabby. Running
laundry, making Hamburger Helper and bread for dinner. Mad at Kacie:
two things I specifically asked of her the past couple of days were
ignored (DON'T throw her new vest into a crumpled heap on the floor; DO
turn on my computer for me this afternoon so it would be ready when I
go home). She wants to take flute this year at school but I'm seriously
considering telling her "no" . . . her bunk is a rat trap, she
"forgets" everything I tell her to do/not to do, and I'm fed up.
Bill misplaced some
3M at the office and then told Chuck Atkinson that I "lost" it. I had
to get on the phone and tell Chuck that I would look for it, but I was
steamed. If Bill finds the paperwork at home tonight, I'm going to
expect an apology.
Velma called me at work
today. "You didn't call me
last night!" she whined. Apparently I'm
supposed to call her every time she's cleaned my house and thank her
What else? No computer at
work yet . . . Bill says "Friday" now. I read four library books at the
office today because there was virtually nothing else to do.
like I'm floundering. The house, in spite of Velma's twice-weekly
cleanings, is still a disorganized mess and I am disheartened about it.
Right now I feel pretty low. Tomorrow is payday ... maybe
September 29, 1993
Thought I'd hand-scribble an
entry for old time's sake ...
Having another crappy day at
work: that makes two in a row. Guess the honeymoon is over. Whenever I
imagined what coming back to work would be like, one of the things I
most looked forward to was payday. I expected it to be this happy,
gratifying experience -- the best part of the whole week.
And just like
practically everything else, the reality is a disappointment. This is
my third payday since I've started this job, and every single one of my
paychecks has been fucked up for one reason or another. (Tears stinging
again, dammit.) Now it turns out that I've been misfiguring my
right from the start. Bill came in and gave me this long, confusing,
patronizing speech about it awhile ago, leaving me feeling completely
humiliated. I'm deeply disappointed that I'm not making as much as I
thought I was, but by far the worst part is how stupid I feel.
I've been trying so damned hard to fit in around here -- to
and self-confident and capable, and to win everyone's respect --
instead I feel like some dopey little kid who has wandered into the
office by mistake ...
Anyway, the paychecks just
arrived (by Fed Express), but I'm waiting until Bill leaves to open
mine. I've made enough of a fool of myself today: no way am I going to
let him see me hunched and weeping over a paycheck that's a hundred
bucks smaller than I thought it would be.
Well ... the
good news is that
the check is made out for the amount I figured, more or less. The bad
news is that the overpayment will come out of my next paycheck.
Bill's gone. His annoyingly
high-handed wife is due to come in this afternoon and drop off some
strapping tape (the last time she came in, she never took off her
sunglasses, the whole time she stood here and talked to me ... it was
like holding a conversation with a State Patrol officer), but other
than that I expect to be alone most of the afternoon. Good. I need to
compose myself and get rid of my headache and pull my shit together
before I go home tonight.
God. All I write about
anymore -- all I type,
actually, on the computers -- are terse,
abbreviated accounts of stuff that goes on at work. Occasionally I'll
gripe about the house, or about Velma, or briefly mentioned something
new that's happened in the kids' lives (Kacie's gymnastics) ...
overall it seems like my universe has been squeezed and condensed
into one hard little knot of interest and concern: the job. At least,
that's the impression someone would get from reading this journal. I
don't write about the kids anymore ... at least, not in the
consistent, anecdotal way I used to. No thoughtful commentary on their
development, no wry observations about our lives together, no funny
stories about the latest crazy things they've done. There was a time
when they were all I would write about, and now they barely
rate a passing mention. Guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt. Some working
mothers feel guilty about not spending enough time with their kids, or
about not being there in the afternoons when the children get home from
school. My personal guilt departments are:
1. The kids not being my
whole world anymore (reflected in my journals)
2. The house
3. My journal being so neglected & sparse ...
October 7, 1993 (my Dad's birthday)
I was sitting at my desk
this afternoon when I got a phone call. "Is this Mrs. Polen?" a woman
My heart sank: any time
someone asks for "Mrs. Polen," I know it's
probably not going to be good news! And it wasn't: Jamie fell
on the playground at school during a game of catch and broke her left
arm (again)!! It was only 2:00 and I couldn't possibly leave the
office, so I wound up calling Ray at the plant and asking him to go
fetch Jay. He was surprisingly nonplussed about the whole thing, and
left right away. At 4:30 I sped out of the office and drove straight to
Dr. Kay's office, where Jamie was just finishing up. She has a
temporary cast on the arm for now, will have to go back on Monday for
the plaster cast.
We're all home now.
Obviously she's going to be out
of commission for awhile. (Damn! My best helper!) She also won't be
able to write, shower, wash her own hair or do much of anything for a
long, long time. Poor baby!
Work is heating up. We're
getting newer and bigger accounts all the time, and my workload is
increasing accordingly. Yesterday the phones were NUTS. Today it was a
little quieter, because Bill is in Spokane until tomorrow morning, but
still had a lot of stuff to do for Brad and Randy. I made a
goofs again, nothing serious, but it still bothers me when I get caught
making a dumb mistake (like overlooking an important heading on one of
Brad's letters, misplacing Bill's flight information, forgetting to get
the phone number of a caller: today's goofs). I still want them all to
think I'm really competent and reliable, not some ditzy little hausfrau
who wandered in off the street ...
Oh, that reminds me --
another goof. This one was three days ago, I think. I broke one
own cardinal rules and cried at
work. I was talking on the
phone with the guy we bought our computer from -- Matt G.,
Computers in Auburn -- and he was giving me a rough time. I
thought he was sending us a computer preloaded with software
(WordPerfect and Lotus), and he blew up at me! Seems he considers
software dealers/installers the scum of the earth (and frankly after
last week's Print Shop Deluxe fiasco, I tend to agree with him), and
how dare I expect him to lower himself that way??
"How am I
supposed to know what software you want?"" he snapped. "For all
I know you could be using Mrs. Butterworth's Underwater Basket-Weaving
"I understand," I said, "but
I don't think I
deserve this kind of diatribe." And then, to my horror, I started
cry. In front of Brad. I just thank God Bill wasn't in the office.
October 10, 1993
Quiet Sunday afternoon.
Kacie and Kyle are riding bikes at the school; Ray is puttering around
in the garage, watching a football game; Jamie is watching rap videos
on MTV. Pleasant weather all weekend ... not too warm, not
I've spent most of this day cleaning up the kitchen and running
laundry, and I've just put a chocolate cake in the oven ... now
going to sit here with a Pepsi and relax.
Jamie has been taking it
very easy the past couple of days, since breaking her arm. She gets the
permanent cast put on tomorrow afternoon, and until then I'm a little
nervous: I don't want her doing anything that might damage it
further. She doesn't seem to be in much pain, thankfully, and she's
sleeping OK at night. Mostly I think she's just kind of embarrassed
about breaking her arm again. Funny: it was just this time of year,
three years ago, that she fell out of the tree at her grandparents'
house and broke both arms. What is the connection between Jamie, autumn
and broken arms, anyway . . . ??
Tuesday evening, just
home from work
October 12, 1993
I try to be in a good mood
when I come home from the office every day, for the kids' sake, but
it seems like the minute I walk through the door, I'm yelling. Today it
was the same old thing it always is: all the drapes were pulled shut
and the house was like a big gloomy cave.
"For God's sake!" I
snapped, yanking open the dining room curtains, "can't ANYONE around
here ever remember to open the curtains?"
Kacie and Kyle were glued to
the TV, as they always are. "Did you remember to make my bed?" I asked
Kacie, and of course she had not. Another reason to get mad. Jamie, who
was standing here in my office doing some one-handed laundry, took my
yelling personally and withdrew into her bedroom: now I have to
apologize to her. Mainly it's Kacie I'm mad at. Actually, that's not
even true ... I don't know WHO I'm mad at. I'm just
guess, and cranky, and when I come home I expect things to be perfect.
And when they aren't, I come undone ...
It seems that I've screwed
up at work again, this time in a major way. For the past couple of
weeks Bill and everyone at 3M have been in a lather about some woman's
clothing store accounts that were overlooked, and now it turns out that
it was my fault. The last time Bill's parents were in the office, they
handed me a stack of papers and asked me to make up a file for them. I
did a really thorough job, labeling everything neatly and filing it
away in my new filing cabinet . . . except that I also filed away the
uncompleted work orders, and no one has known where they were all this
time. Mrs. B. figured it out today. She called the office right before
left and asked me if I knew anything about them, and of course I told
her that I'd filed everything away, as I'd assumed I was supposed to
October 14, 1993
Having a stressful
afternoon. Last month's office burglary continues to disrupt the order
of things around here. Bill has been waiting for weeks for his
check ("It's in the mail!"),
and now the insurance company wants
original invoices for everything that was stolen! This means a
lot of backtracking and phone calls and nail-biting on my part this
afternoon, and I've managed to work myself into one doozy of a headache
as a result ...
Period is due today. I've
got a lovely premenstrual zit in the middle of my face and I can't
keep my hands out of the M&M's, so I know it's probably only
moments away. This leaves me fragile, emotionally and hormonally: I
know it would only take one more mini-crisis to put me right over the
edge. Treading carefully.
Got my paycheck yesterday.
As expected, it was a "short' check: Carla had to subtract last
month's overpayments. Then Jamie and I went shopping last night while
Kacie was at her gymnastics class, and I'm afraid I went a little crazy
with my money ... I spent about $75 at Drug Emporium and Payless
(makeup, pop and typewriter ribbons for work, Christmas magazines,
shampoo, facial cleanser, soup, blank tapes). I still haven't given
Jamie, Kacie and Kyle their allowance (that's $20, $17 and $10,
respectively: two weeks' worth, paid at once), and I'll owe Velma for
housecleaning tomorrow. Shit. I was counting on getting a check from
Bill today for $165 -- to replace the watch that was stolen
burglary -- he promised to write it for me "before the end
of the week,"
but with this latest insurance company snafu, who knows?? The long and
short of it is, my money's almost gone and it's only the day after
Tired. I'm ALWAYS tired
anymore. The alarm didn't go off this morning, by the way --
extremely rare occurrence. (I think Jamie forgot to set it last night.)
I was asleep on the couch, having an unhappy dream about Tony Ramos,
when Ray shook me awake. "It's 6:05!" he said, and I was up in a flash
and in the shower before the fog even cleared. I felt OK coming to
work, and I cruised through the morning w/o any problems, but now it's
3:00 and all I can do is sit here and dream about a pop on ice and a
cigarette when I get home.
Home from work now
Reflections on the drive
* Gentle pleasant rain began
splattering my windshield halfway home. Fall is in spectacular full
plumage now: the trees are vivid reds and oranges and golds. Still
warm. No Mt. Rainier today, obscured by clouds. Feels like a storm is
* An old man walking his
* Two houses that got my
attention: one, festooned with Hallowe'en decorations, made me feel
guilty about our own bare windows and lack of autumn decoration. The
other has a wonderful sign hanging out front ("The Personal Touch"), a
home-based word processing business. Wonder if I cold ever start
something like that?
* The usual Thursday battle
wills: the urge for a cold glass of wine vs. the desire not to feel
awful tomorrow morning. The Bad Terri won out -- I stopped
Town and bought one small bottle of cold rosé. Sipping
it slowly, letting it relax me after this powderkeg of an afternoon.
* Listened to "Kool Oldies"
instead of my usual KBSG. Played an interesting Herman's Hermits song
I've rarely heard before: need to look it up. ("Listern People.")
Would like to hear it
* My old beater of a car
zero respect from the other drivers, especially the impatient ones in
the hot new sports cars who careen past me.
*My gas tank is empty.
October 15, 1993
Hasn't this been a strange
I've spent most of the day
here in the office working on it: putting all the pages together and
adding things, like photocopies of notes and letters, graphics from
The Print Shop Deluxe, re-typed entries, etc. Now what? Do I take it
somewhere and have it professionally bound? Do I continue adding pages
until this poor little three ring binder explodes?
Something inside of me says
it's time for closure ... time to stop this journal before
any further out of control, time to start something more structured.
The insurance problems seem
to be more or less cleared up. There was a bad moment or two earlier,
when I realized I'd probably thrown away the receipt for the HP laser
printer -- the one that was stolen -- but turns
out we don't need it
anyway. Bill wrote me a check for $165 this morning, just before he
the office for the day. I will stop at the drive-thru on my way home in
an hour. I'm glad because now I can give the kids their allowances and
pay Velma: no excuses, no hurt feelings anywhere.
Friday. Funny: it doesn't
really FEEL like Friday to me. I've been busy all day and the time has
flown by. Bill's mom and sister stopped by unexpectedly
at noon and stayed for half an hour or so. (Bill's wife is the one who
still has the ability to freeze my
blood, but fortunately I don't have to deal with her too often.) I
don't know what we'll be doing this weekend. Our friend is out of town,
so I imagine we'll have to be quiet and good. (Darn!) I'll probably
pick up another bottle of wine on my way home and spend the evening
goofing around with the home computer and working on tapes. (My latest
passion: having cassettes and CD's mailed to me from the King County
Library System -- you wouldn't believe it, they have
EVERYTHING! -- and
then taping them. Right now I'm working on a complete set of Beatles
tapes.) Nicole is spending the night tonight, and tomorrow I'll
probably take the kids somewhere. Lately we've been getting into the
habit of going somewhere "fun" every Saturday, just the kids and me:
last weekend it was lunch at Shakey's and an afternoon at the Burien
library. Tomorrow, who knows ... ?
Wednesday evening, home
October 20, 1993
I'm staying at work until 5
p.m. now, starting this week: my choice. When Ron Colby moves down from
Spokane next month, I was supposed to begin staying the full 9 hours,
but I've opted to start now; I can use the fatter paycheck.
It really doesn't "feel"
that much different, anyway. A long day is a long day. If I pace myself
and stay busy all afternoon, the time seems to fly. The only thing
that doesn't last long enough is my makeup: my face is so greasy right
now you could deep-fry some onion rings on my T-zone. Yuck. Long night
of me, too ... Kacie's first gymnastics "meet" (actually
it's more of
an exhibition for parents) is tonight, and I've got to stay and watch
that. Bedtime is an eternity away.
Bill and Randy left
morning for their vacation at Disneyworld. They won't be back until
next Wednesday. (Brad and I were poking fun at Bill this afternoon.
When I left the office, I said "Don't forget to hang up the blanket!"
and he laughed. "Good thing it's electric! That'll really scare off the
burglars!" he said.)
Frozen pizza, breadsticks
and salad for dinner tonight.
October 22, 1993
Just beginning to rain
... a chilly drizzling rain. I've been alone most of the
day: Bill and Randy are still on vacation in Florida ("It's too hot!"
both whined on the phone earlier), and Brad and James are out on the
road. I've been working on a funny newsletter to mail out with my
Christmas cards this year,"The Polenville Times." I also have a stack
of library books about writing your life history, another book about
The Print Shop, the usual KBSG oldies on the radio and a warehouse
fridge full of pop. What more could a secretary ask for?
God, I love this job!
I had the Ridgway Packaging
Dream the other night, by the way, for the first time since I got hired
here at BNC. I was surprised: I would think that getting this
(infinitely-better-in-all-respects) job would exorcise the old Ridgway
demons, once and for all. But there it was again: me begging and
pleading with that old fart, Howard, to pleeeease give me back my
piddly little receptionist job. I don't get it.
This is the best job I've
ever had, no question about it. I don't just mean in terms of salary,
or autonomy, or even all the cool office equipment I get to "play" with
all day ... I also mean in terms of respect and position.
I was the young cute dopey receptionist who everyone humored and
patronized. Patti Owen, the Executive Secretary, was my idol. I wanted
to be just like her, poised and smart and invaluable. I wanted to
be "the secretary." Do you know what I mean? There's a real distinction
there. A ‘receptionist" is at the bottom of the corporate totem
pole; a secretary has more prestige. Not a lot more, but
enough. And now I am the secretary, and it's a wonderful feeling. It
only took me thirteen years to get here from there, but hey! I'm here!
Let's see, what's going on
at home? Jamie is riding the bus home with Nicole this afternoon (and
spending the night there). Kacie had her gymnastics meet the other
night -- actually it was more of an exhibition for parents
-- and she won
a first place ribbon for the balance beam! Needless to say it was her
shining moment. Kyle is desperately in need of a haircut ... he
serious case of the shaggies, and picture day is next Wednesday. Help!
David J. is home from
He stopped by last night to buy some firewood, and he'll be coming over
again tonight around 6:00. I've got some Chablis chilling in the
at home, even as we speak ... a Beatles CD from the library
Road) that I haven't even listened to yet ... I cannot, cannot, cannot
wait to get out of here. Only three more hours to go!
God, now it's pouring
outside. There was a spectacular sunrise when I left for work this
morning: I've never seen anything like it. The whole sky was vivid
pink. Kacie and Kyle always watch me out the living room window and
wave as I'm driving off to work in the mornings, and there I was,
gesturing frantically at them to "LOOK AT THE SKY!!!!"
Whenever I want to "treat"
myself in the afternoons driving home, I detour off 8th Avenue and
down Des Moines Way, past my childhood neighborhood. The combination of
gorgeous autumn leaves, instant nostalgia and a good song on the radio
(yesterday they did it again: they played my favorite, "I'm
Into Something Good," just as I drove past 134th!) almost always makes
me feel light-hearted and happy. Yesterday, though, it had the opposite
effect on me ... suddenly I felt a heart-crunching wave of
homesickness for Grandma and Grandpa and my childhood home. I fought
back tears for the rest of the drive home. Wonder why it hit me that
I was looking forward to
another nice drive home today, anyway. The autumn colors won't be
around for much longer, and I was hoping that today's drive down
Nostalgia Lane would leave me happier than it did yesterday. It's so
dark and rainy and gross outside, though, that I'm going to simply hop
into the Velmobile and head straight for home and that glass of wine.
Only another hour left ...
Wednesday lunch hour
October 27, 1993
Payday: my check is short,
as usual. (This time Carleen "forgot" to add all the overtime I'd
accumulated, staying till 5:00 last week. Shit!) After work I have to
go to the bank, go home and pick up the kids, take them Halloween
costume shopping, pick up dinner, come home, get everything ready for
work/school tomorrow ... and then collapse.
Sad news. Lori's mother
Crystal passed away on Monday night of lung cancer; Lori called me at
work yesterday afternoon, and the instant I heard the flat empty tone
of her voice, I knew her mom was gone. Driving home from work yesterday
the radio played "Spirit In The Sky." I cranked it as high as it would
go, looked up at the clouds overhead and said, "This one's for you,
Crystal." She was a sweet, funny little woman and my heart hurts for
Lori ... I know how much she's going to miss her.
Projects I've got going at
1. Preparing to write the
autobio (for real). Working on a "lifelist" today, a suggestion
from the best book I've read so far on the subject of writing memoirs,
"Turning Memories Into Memoirs" by Denis Ledoux. I'm going to use the
copier here at work to add photographs.
2. The kids' Memory Book.
Arrrggh. This one jabs at my conscience, even though it's not my fault
isn't done yet. I was three-fourths of the way through typing it,
forward to having photo pgs. printed and having it professionally
bound, when the assholes broke into the office and stole all the
equipment. The new laser printer doesn't match the old one so I
have to start all over again.
3. Recording everything the
library sends me (cassettes and CDs). Have to do R.E.M. tonight because
it's due back ... also the 4 CD Bee Gees Anthology, the Melissa
Manchester, Jamie's Aerosmith ...?
4. Hey! I actually finished
something: letters to Kathy and Deanne!! Still haven't mailed
Deanne's but I will after I buy some stamps tonight.
Monday afternoon, 4:20 pm
November 1, 1993
This has been one of the
slowest and quietest days I can remember having here at work ...
coming on the heels of an intensely busy weekend, that's been
fine & dandy with me. I've done some work on the Autobio, read a
Lynda Barry book, eaten a leisurely lunch and enjoyed the quiet and
We set our clocks back this
weekend, and I'm having a tough time adjusting to it, as usual. This
morning wasn't so bad -- it "felt" like I'd gotten to sleep
in an extra
hour, and the drive to work was pleasant. But now it's getting dark
outside already (another half hour to go before I can leave!) and I'm
having to fight to keep my eyes open. And tonight is another
gymnastics night, too. Shit.
Yesterday was Halloween, and
for the first time in a couple of years I had fun! For one
thing, the kids and I weren't stuck trick or treating with Velma and
her kids ... we spent Halloween with Lori and Tracy. Just like
times. Lori has a car now (she inherited John's old car when he bought
a new one from his mom a couple of weeks ago) so we drove the kids up
to 35th and 36th, near the 7-11 by Shannon South. They had a ball.
Jamie was a little Demonette, Kacie was a Dead Miss America and Kyle
was a Pirate. Funny moments to remember:
* "Another fucking
Way." Kyle Polen, age 7
* The confused Asian lady
with Christmas decorations (even a
Christmas tree!!) all over
* Standing in the driveway
of one house and hearing someone say, "Is that Terri?" Turned
out to be Jan S., this person who is about to become my friend,
I think. Her kid is in the same dance and gymnastics class as Jamie and
Kacie, and I keep bumping into her: she wants to start car-pooling.
Anyway, we got home from
trick or treating around 8:00. Because of the time change and the wine
I'd had to drink earlier in the day, I was exhausted. I was also
starving and freezing (Ray had the front door wide open because he was
building a fire in the woodstove). Ray hadn't bothered to make any
dinner for anybody, so I threw a hamburger into the microwave, ate it
in about four bites, curled upon the sofa with a sleeping bag tucked
around me and promptly konked out! (The last thing I remember is Ray
admonishing the kids to "Shut up! Mom's asleep!") I was still exhausted
when I got up this morning, although like I said that extra hour from
the time change made it a little easier. I decided to skip a shower,
thinking that my hair was "clean enough." It bought me an extra 15
minutes to sit on the couch and sip a cup of coffee, but I've felt
scrungy and unkempt all day as a result. Good thing I've mostly been
alone all day.
This is going to be
downright WEIRD, leaving work in the dark every night. Huge black
clouds are rolling in overhead, too ... maybe a storm? Wish
have to drive around Burien tonight, but I have some petty cash in my
purse (and a list of stuff the office needs a mile long) and I'd like
to swing by Drug Emporium and maybe the library, too. Jamie will come
with me, I'm sure.
Ray called once today, to
see if I still want Steak Umm sandwiches and French fries for dinner.
Frankly, I've been so hungry the past couple of days (partied Friday
and Saturday so food was an afterthought: catching up with me now)
I'd eat almost anything.
November 5, 1993
Interminably long day
looming ahead. I got to work early this morning (I can't believe it:
they actually played "I Am The Walrus" on the radio this morning!!),
just after 7:30 a.m., and so far I've been the only person in the
office today. Looks like I'll be by myself for most of the day. I've
got my autobio project to work on, the Christmas newsletter, a pile of
old magazines out in the car (for an emergency) and a talk show on the
radio. I guess I'll find ways to keep myself occupied during this long,
We continue to have the most
beautiful autumn I have ever seen. I keep expecting a huge windstorm to
come along and blow all the beautiful leaves off the trees, but so far
that hasn't happened and my morning drive is as pleasurable as ever.
It's getting wickedly cold at night, though. Last night I had to get up
in the middle of the night and get another blanket. Woodstove season
has begun in Polenville.
November 8, 1993
(Herman's Hermits, "I'm Into
Something Good" on the radio, just as I begin to type this ...)
Here is my final entry for
this journal. I've just finished designing a cover and a title page,
and in a couple of days when I get paid I'll take the whole mess in and
have it bound. In the meantime, a word of "farewell" ...
been a fun journal to put together, and it represents a very happy and
busy time of my life. It's been a long time since I've had a year as
interesting as 1993 has been. It kind of makes me wonder what could
possibly be in store in the months ahead ...?
Hope this journal has
brought as much pleasure to the reader as it has the author!
November 8, 1993
to throw a rock?